Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Two Withdrawals

I find the most interesting aspect of the withdrawal from- technically, suspension of- the presidential campaign of John Edwards to be the distinction between the former North Carolina senator and the former New York City mayor.
When Rudolph Giuliani on January 30, 2008 ended his bid to become the Repub presidential nominee, he said little of interest and nothing of importance, other than to take the politically safe course of endorsing John McCain, who had the evening before become the overwhelming favorite to capture the nomination. Not surprising, though, because Rudolph became the poster boy for expediency. Once a mayor who was partial to abortion rights, gay rights, and gun control, Giuliani as a presidential candidate stood for nothing of the sort, and instead promoted what he claimed would be the largest tax increase in American history, a sure vote-getter in a Repub primary, dominated by those most fortunate and not coincidentally most likely to benefit from a further drop in income tax rates. (Still an easy position to take in a Repub primary- note John McCain never missing an opportunity to tout his born-again support for making permanent the Bush give a leg up to the rich tax cuts.)
And John Edwards? He leaves the race on 1/30/08 saying Senators Clinton and Obama "both pledged to me and, more importantly, through me to America, that they will make ending poverty central to their campaign for the presidency. This is the cause of my life, and I now have their commitment to engage in this cause." And to those who might have doubted Edwards' sincerity during his run, consider the statements of both Obama and Clinton upon Edwards' suspension. (Clinton: "John Edwards ended his campaign today in the same way he started it - by standing with the people who are too often left behind and nearly always left out of our national debate;" Obama: "John Edwards has spent a lifetime fighting to give voice to the voiceless and hope to the struggling, even when it wasn’t popular to do or covered in the news.") All point to the former candidate's emphasis on ending poverty, a concern rarely voiced by any politician on the national level (or, probably, on any other level) for, oh, probably the last couple of decades. (Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey are dead.)
So whom are we left with? Two candidates right on most issues, with relatively little difference between them, one emphasizing her gender, the other emphasizing generational differences. If this distinction and appeal sound somewhat inimical to the idea of real, progressive, change, you've been paying attention.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Saint McCain- No. 4

"Well, you show a lot of courage out there, Senator."

-MSNBC's Chris Matthews at the end of an interview of John McCain following the State of the Union message on 1/28/09

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Republican Media- No. 10

On January 26, 2008 CNN presented live a portion of a speech of Rudolph Giuliani to an assemblage in Florida. As he is wont to do, Giuliani was promoting his plan for increasing the concentration of the nation's wealth in the hands of the privileged few to the detriment of the middle class. CNN cheerfully went along with the caption "Giuliani Wants To Do Away With The Death Tax."

Now, I'm no accountant, so I figured I would perform a Google Search on "death tax, Internal Revenue Service." Just as I expected, up popped an IRS page entitled "Estate and Gift Taxes," which explained "the estate tax is a tax on your right to transfer property at your death. It consists of an accounting of everything you own or have certain interests in at the date of death." And oh, the first $2,000,000 (that's two million dollars) of the value of the estate is excluded.

If you have property thus subject to the estate tax, or what Giuliani and CNN like to call the "death tax," please call me. We'll talk.
Saint McCain- No. 3

"Now we know where McCain gets all his straight talk comes from- it comes from his mother."

-CNN pundit Gloria Borger on 1/27/08, following a clip of John McCain's mother giving her son a rather lukewarm endorsement

(Not only is John McCain a "straight talker"- he listens to his mom!)
"Straight Talk" about Iraq?

Asked by the editor of The St. Petersburg Times at the 1/24/08 Repub presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida, about the military and economic costs of leaving U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely (as he has said is acceptable), Senator John McCain stated "I know of no military leader, including General Petraeus, who says we can't sustain our effort in Iraq. So you're wrong."

The Christian Science Monitor (at csmonitor.com) reported on December 24, 2007 "'we're deploying at unsustainable rates,' (Army Chief of Staff) General Casey said three weeks ago during remarks to an audience at the Brookings Institution in Washington."

And as for General Petraeus? In an interview with National Public Radio, Petraeus "acknowledges that the so-called troop 'surge' has placed an 'enormous strain' on U.S. combat forces. He says troop levels will have to be further reduced after mid-2008, when they are expected to return to pre-'surge' levels of about 130,000. "

It is one thing to lie (The great military expert from Arizona must have known aabout General Casey.) But asserting boldly to Tim Russert "so you're wrong"? Dishonest and arrogant- a twofer for Saint McCain.
Early to the Game

This from bloomberg.com:

The federal government should help fund new light-rail lines, parking lots near mass-transit stations and other energy-efficient transportation projects that can get under way in 90 days as a way to stimulate the economy, John Edwards said today..... (he) called on Congress to approve a $25 billion package of investments in clean energy, job training and unemployment benefits. He said lawmakers should be prepared to allocate another $75 billion in the event of a recession.

``Hard-working families across America are already struggling to make ends meet,'' Edwards said. ``Before things get worse, I urge Congress to take action immediately to strengthen our economy and create new jobs."


But here is the point: this is from a December 22, 2007 report- several weeks before the rest of Washington figured it out.
"Straight Talk" from John McCain


During the Repub presidential debate on January 24, 2008 in Boca Raton Florida, Tim Russert asked "is it a problem for your campaign that the economy is now the most important issue, one that, by your own acknowledgement, you are not well versed on?Senator McCain responded, "actually, I don't know where you got that quote from. I'm very well versed in economics."

Unfortunately, Russert didn't have the Senator's quotes at hand then but here he is three days later during McCain's appearance on Meet the Press:

I will show you where I got the quote from. I got it from John McCain, and here it is. "McCain is refreshingly blunt when he tells me I'm going to be honest, I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated." Wall Street Journal, November 26th, 2005. You repeated it to the Boston Globe in December of '07. You said it.

Russert (or his producer) deserves credit for digging the quote up. However, perhaps McCain didn't actually lie in the first sentence- maybe he didn't in fact know where the NBC Washington Bureau Chief had gotten the quote. But he certainly does know he isn't very well versed in economics.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Reagan Admiration

In the Democratic presidential debate of January 21, 2008 in South Carolina, Hillary Clinton alleged of Barack Obama "the facts are that he has said in the last week that he really liked the ideas of the Republicans over the last 10 to 15 years" and stated "you talked about admiring Ronadl Reagan."

The Illinois Senator responded "you just said that I complimented the Republican ideas. That is not true. What I said -- and I will provide you with a quote -- what I said was is that Ronald Reagan was a transformative political figure because he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests to form a majority to push through their agenda."

As reported here, Obama had said "I think it is fair to say that the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there the last 10 or 15 years in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom." That is actually true, and does not constitute praise of those ideas- which were bad ideas challenging sane, sensible conventional wisdom.

But Obama went further, stating "what I said was is that Ronald Reagan was a transformative political figure because he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests to form a majority to push through their agenda, an agenda that I objected to." His statement about Reagan, however, did not include criticism of the latter's policies and constitued fulsome praise. As quoted by the New York Times' Adam Nagourney (who, incomprehensibly, does not believe the comments were favorable), Obama asserted

Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not, and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. He tapped into what people were already feeling, which is, we want clarity, we want optimism, we want, you know, a return to that sense of dynamism and, you know, entrepreneurship that had been missing.

Note phrases "changed the trajectory of America," "put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it," "tapped into what people were already feeling," a man who brough "clarity....optimism....a return to that sense of dynamism....and entrepreneurship that had been missing." High praise, indeed, for the Repub icon.

There is one additional problem. The Illinois Senator noted in the debate that Clinton herself had praised the 40th president in an excerpt from Tom Brokaw's new book, "Boom! Voices of the Sixties." She is quoted as saying "when he had those big tax cuts and they went too far, he oversaw the largest tax increase. He could call the Soviet Union the Evil Empire and then negotiate arms-control agreements. He played the balance and the music beautifully.”

Thus, as our primary/caucus comes up, if John Edwards no longer is a candidate, we have the choice between an admirer of President Reagan and an admirer of President Reagan. But a little perspective: if they are to be believed, virtually every Repub candidate idolizes the anti-labor, anti-consumer, anti-egalitarian former president.
Use Medical Marijuana, Get Fired

The Los Angeles Times reports that the California Supreme Court on January 24, 2008 ruled 5-2 that an employer may fire an employee who has used medical marijuana, even if it has not affected job performance. A trial court and an appeals court also had ruled for the employer.

The voters of California in 1996 enacted the Compassionate Use Act, prohibiting the state from criminalizing the medical use of marijuana, though it is silent with regard to employers.

Soon, George W. Bush, who campaigned as a "compassionate conservative," will decry this ruling. After all, it condoned dismissal of an individual who, prior to the drug test which confirmed his use, had presented his employer, Raging Wire Communications, Inc., with a prescription for medical marijuana prescribed because of chronic back pain and whose disability qualified him for government benefits.

Imminently, Willard "Mitt" Romney, who boldly proclaimed during debate in Boca Raton, Florida on 1/24/08 "look, the success over there is due to the -- the blood and the courage of our servicemen and -women," will demand reinstatement of the plaintiff, Gary Ross, who is an Air Force veteran. And we will be regaled with the collective outrage of the Republican Party that the "wisdom of the American people" has once again been circumvented by "elitist, unelected judges."

I don't know which is more striking a)the idiocy of ruling that someone can be fired for legally using a substance in circumstances authorized by the state's voters or b)the silence from Repub candidates who pose as compassionate patriots.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

High Praise, Indeed

The biggest controversy at the debate, hosted by Wolf Blitzer of CNN, on January 21, 2008 in South Carolina, pertained to Senator Barack Obama's statements allegedly praising Ronald Reagan and Republican ideas. Here is Obama denying that he had praised the former GOP president:

What I said -- and I will provide you with a quote -- what I said was is that Ronald Reagan was a transformative political figure because he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests to form a majority to push through their agenda, an agenda that I objected to.

However, thanks to openleft.com, we have the relevant excerpt from the Illinois Senator's interview with the Reno Gazette editorial board on January 14, 2008:

I don't want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what's different are the times. I do think that for example the 1980 was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.

Somehow, "put(ting) us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it" sounds a lot different- and better- than "getting "Democrats to vote against their economic interests." Doing so because of "all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s" and the lack "of accountability in terms of how it (government) was operating" sure sounds like a positive thing to me. And someone who has "tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing" can only be admired, especially when he has "changed the trajectory of America."

So Barack Obama admires what Ronald Reagan did for the United States of America. As wrong as he is, he's entitled to his opinion. But he's not entitled to deceive the Democratic Party and its voters into believing that he was offended by someone, and whose Presidency, he clearly supported.

Which raises another issue- which "excesses of the 1960s and 1970s" so infuriated Barack Obama? Was it the labor movement, the consumer movement, the womens' movement, or the civil rights movement? Perhaps Senator Obama can enlighten us as only he can.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Saint McCain- No. 2


Monica Novotny, MSNBC anchorwoman, at 1:36 p.m. on January 21, 2008 while conducting an interview with an advisor to Senator John McCain:

"Very much straight talk,if you will, from the Senator."

Novotny at 1:39 p.m. during the same interview, referring to Huckabee supporter Chuck Norris' opinion that McCain is too old for the Presidency:

"Does Chuck Norris raise a valid concern here- or is it just silly talk?"
Somewhere We've Gone Wrong

On the January 20, 2008 edition of CNN's Late Edition, Wolf Blitzer interviewed House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina and Eleanor Holmes Norton, District of Columbia delegate to the House of Representatives. After Holmes Norton gushed "and look at me. Look at me, Wolf. I'm a black woman. It's pretty hard to make some early decision when everything that you have fought for all of your life comes true, all in one election," this exchange followed:


BLITZER: So am I correct to say that, like so many other black women around the United States right now, you seem to be torn between wanting the first African-American to become president as opposed to the first woman to become president?

NORTON: Absolutely, wolf. I mean, we have wanted this for two centuries. Now we have it in one election. And here we've got to sort it out.


Yep, Martin Luther King's dream comes to fruition. Now we can judge candidates not by the content of their character, or of their policy positions, but by their pigment or the nature of their sexual organs.
Giuliani: Kill the Federal Workforce

Wolf Blitzer really gave it a shot with Rudolph Giuliani on CNN's 1/20/08 Late Edition. Rudolph is promoting himself these days as a (income/corporate/estate) tax cutter and the Wolfman tried to pin him down on the disproportionate impact of Giuliani's proposed regressive cuts upon the upper class as compared to that on the middle class. He asked the former mayor "for a family earning $500,000 a year, how much would that family save as opposed to a family earning $50,000 a year, how much would that family save?" Of course, Giuliani wouldn't address that, instead estimating how much a family earning "about $80,000" would save. Blitzer tried again, asking "how much would a family making $500,000 a year wind up saving potentially?" Rudolph again claimed he hadn't "calculated it," so Blitzer took a different tack, asking him about budget deficits.

Giuliani then emphasized spending cuts, stating "we wouldn't rehire half the federal civilian employees who come up for retirement. We could save money that way. Forty-two percent are coming up for retirement. We would impose 10 percent spending cuts on all of the civilian agencies." Sure, cut waste, fraud, and abuse- except at the Pentagon.

More ominously, however, it is the perfect Repub plan. With the catastrophic effect these cuts would have on government services, citizens would become far more dissatisfied with, and far angrier at, government- which of course is the beauty of a scheme which would destroy whatever faith Americans still have in the federal government, leading the way to support for destroying Social Security and other essential programs.




Sunday, January 20, 2008

Saint McCain- No. 1

Doris Kearns Goodwin, historian by trade, pundit by invitation, on the January 20, 2008 edition of Meet the Press:

And I think to some extent that McCain's strong suit is that he can appeal to independents; but even more that what he's really running on are his leadership attributes that go beyond his stance on the issues. Even when he said last night, "Thank you, South Carolina," it took a long while, eight years, but he was able to put that willing--willingness to put that past hurt behind him. What you mentioned earlier about the flag, to acknowledge that he pandered and made a mistake and was ashamed about it. We just came back from Vietnam, and I saw that prison where he was kept. And when I think about what he had to go through in this campaign, when somebody put out a pamphlet claiming that maybe he was betraying his fellow prisoners, and yet he rose above that again. He's a man who's stood for unpopular positions, even immigration. It mattered to these South Carolinians, and yet he didn't lose all of those votes. So I think the hope for the Republican Party is if he can put leadership attributes, stand by what you say on popular positions, tell the truth and somehow mush the issues so that people don't feel that great.
John McCain's Shifting Policy On Terrorism


Barack Obama on August 1, 2007: "But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. ... If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act, we will."

John McCain on August 5, 2007, commenting on Obama's statement: "It's kind of typical of his naivete.... (and) if we did it "we would want to do it in coordination with Pakistanis covertly as well...."

John McCain on January 18, 2008: "I want to look you in the eye today my friends and say that if I have to follow him to the gates of hell I will get Osama Bin laden, I will bring him to justice. I promise you that."


So is McCain's policy "I will follow bin Laden to the gates of hell unless Pervez Musharraf objects?" Actually, it's not so clear. On at least two occasions, in May, 2007 and in October, 2007, the Arizona Senator used the "gates of hell" phrase. It is quite a macho phrase for a guy you would figure, having been tortured in North Vietnam, wouldn't need to put on a display of masculinity. But, hey, these are the Repub primaries.






Thursday, January 17, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Ronald Reagan emasculated the middle class in this country."

Former Representative David Bonior, now John Edwards campaign chairman, commenting January 17, 2008 on MSNBC on Barack Obama's recent remarks (in an interview given to the Reno Journal-Gazette) apparently praising former President Ronald Reagan
Quivering Before the Gun Lobby

The weak response to a question posed to the three Democratic presidential candidates present at the debate in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 15, 2008 ironically highlighted the importance of electing a Democrat as president this November. Tim Russert asked each about the national licensing and registration of handguns, which Hillary Clinton had advocated in her race for the Senate in 2000. Although Russert prefaced the question by noting "the leading cause for death among young black men is guns — death, homicide," each candidate indicated that he/she would not propose these measures.

The exchange reminded me of the murder of over 30 people on April 16, 2007 at Virginia Polytechnic Institue and State University by Seung Hui-Cho, the largest massacre by gun violence in American history. Then, reported The New York Times, several Democrats called "for measures to restrict gun sales, even as they proclaimed their support for the (largely misinterpreted, I believe) Second Amendment." But here is the statement given at the time by Saint McCain, now designated by the media as a "maverick" and the sole "adult" in the GOP race: "This brutal attack was not caused by nor should it lead to restrictions on the Second Amendment, which guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms.”

I think it generally has been recognized that not only a traumatic event could possibly move the United States government to enact meaningful, national gun control legislation. This would be a huge price to pay. Neverheless, perhaps we should remember that if we elect as president a Repub, such as the astonishingly cavalier John McCain, there may be no set of circumstances which inspire our elected officials to end the carnage.
GOP Scenarios

Pat Buchanan and Joe Scarborough a few minutes ago on MSNBC agreed about the importance of the South Carolina Republican primary. The reasoning goes something like this: if Mike Huckabee loses in South Carolina on 1/19/06, it's hard to imagine him winning in Florida; then this (border state) Southerner moves into Super Tuesday after having lost in two southern states. If John McCain, whom polls suggest is leading in South Carolina at this moment(and stands to benefit from the veterans in this state, which purportedly has the highest concentration of veterans in the U.S.A.), loses, his money may drive up- and questions arise surrounding his second straight presidential primary loss in this pivotal state. Admittedly, victory in South Carolina is less critical for Mitt Romney, who is the favorite in the closed caucus being held the same day in Nevada, and for Rudy Giuliani, who is banking it all in Florida.

Another word about South Carolina- about the Democratic primary there, to be held on January 26, 2008, one week later than the Repub primary. The latter is an open primary, which will lead some Independents and Republicans to vote in the Republican primary. Most of those individuals probably would not have voted in a Democratic primary, featuring candidates of a very different ideological stripe. Still, some of them, especially Democrats, would have voted in the Democratic primary and, I suspect, most of them for John Edwards. These are votes he cannot afford to lose in a state in which he is, at least as of this moment, a prohibitive underdog.
HRC Putting BHO on the Defensive

The worst, and arguably laziest, tactic in a debate is the resort to the moderator having each candidate ask a question of another candidate. The candidates must love it, for it allows them to pose as an interrogator while actually making a campaign statement, repeating one or more of their favorite talking points.

Still, the Williams/Russert duo chose to inject this this scheme into the Democratic presidential debate held January 15, 2008 in Las Vegas, and Senator Clinton was ready. She asked Senator Obama, in part, the following about President Bush's Iraq policy:


....he has continued to say he can enter into an agreement with the Iraqi government, without bringing it for approval to the United States Congress, that would continue America’s presence in Iraq, long after President Bush leaves office....So I’ve introduced legislation that clearly requires President Bush to come to the United States Congress. It is not enough, as he claims, to go to the Iraqi parliament, but to come to the United States Congress to get anything that he’s trying to do, including permanent bases, numbers of troops, all the other commitments he’s talking about as he’s traveling in that region.

And I want to ask Senator Obama if you will co-sponsor my legislation to try to rein in President Bush so that he doesn’t commit this country to his policy in Iraq, which both of us are committed to end.

Somehow, Hillary Clinton managed to frame a statement/question which 1)demonstrated her opposition to Bush's Iraq policy (specifically, continued occupation, but the reference also signaled her opposition to the war in general); 2)established herself as a leader, perhaps a president, in taking the initiative in foreign policy; 3)put Barack Obama on the defensive, wherein he could have chosen to demur (and thus raise questions about his commitment to changing the Bush policy) or concur, in which he case he has raised his main opponent virtually to the level of Commander-in-Chief.

Unavoidably, Obama chose the second option, lamely stating "well, I think we can work on this, Hillary," before touching on "the voices of the American people," Afghanistan, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Fortunately for his candidacy, the media have not focused on this exchange and foreign policy has not dominated pre-Nevada campaigning. However, the Illinois Senator, who consistently touts his opposition (as a state senator) to the Iraqi war resolution, could have turned Clinton's statement/question around to his own advantage by commenting something on the order of....

I'm glad to see, Senator, that after your Iraq vote, then your Iran vote only a few months ago enabling Mr. Bush to rationalize military action, that you recognize this President has abused his authority. It's time for the United States Congress, the people's representatives, to prevent the Executive branch from unilaterally taking us to war without sufficient cause.


It would have been a little off-topic, but that's standard in a debate, and would have clouded Clinton's initiative while reminding voters of one of Obama's strengths, his early opposition (in contrast to his opponents) to a Republican war which has become very unpopular.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

No Clear Leader

Democracy has broken out in the Repub Party. The party which traditionally coalesces around one candidate- generally the next in line- and demands virtual allegiance to the establishment's choice, is in flux, a "muddle," as Chris Matthews is calling it today (1/16/08).

Four primaries/caucuses have been held and there have been three victors- Mike Huckabee, John McCain, and Mitt Romney (twice). There is no clear front-runner, though Romney has the greatest number of delegates and, objectively, is marginally ahead of the pack.

The next big Repub primary is South Carolina which, from what I can tell, is often the GOP kingmaker. Romney, who has the most money, has little chance to win there, and is actively downplaying expectations while McCain is predicting victory. A victory in South Carolina by Huckabee would propel him to the top of the pack, though the media would be tempted to write it off as a Southern candidate winning in a state heavily influenced by members of the Southern Baptist Convention, Reverend Huckabee's denomination. Further, a Huckabee victory might panic- er, energize- the Repub establishment (as in Wall Street establishment) into uniting behind a candidate to block the nomination of what passes in the Repub Party as a "populist."
That candidate would be Anything for a Buck Fred, if the former Watergate counsel, lobbyist, Tennessee senator, and actor surges to a victory in South Carolina. (Though if he finishes lower than second, he's done.)

That obviously leaves the sinking Rudolph Giuliani, who has banked practically everything on Florida, a huge state with huge numbers of New York (and, generally, northeastern) emigres. Not only has Giuliani been running neck-and-neck with Ron Paul, he faces another obstacle- the lack of a discernible base. The foreign policy conservatives have McCain, the cultural conservatives have Huckabee, and the economic conservatives have, well, anybody but Huckabee, but preferably Romney or Thompson. It is, happily, an extremely steep battle for the guy who delights in using the murder of 3,000 Americans as a prop in his effort to gain unlimited power.
American Jobs- Superfluous to John McCain

Something positive happened in Michigan yesterday, Tuesday, January 15, 2007. Whatever you may think of Willard "Mitt" Romney, and I don't think much, John McCain got beaten- clobbered would be only a slight exaggeration. And that would be a good thing.
Not good because it halted McCain's momentum. The Arizona Senator would not be as good, nor Romney as bad, a general election candidate as the mainstream media and liberal blogosphere supposes. But not surprisingly in Michigan, unlike most Repub primaries/caucuses, the biggest issue in the primary was the economy

McCain remains stubbornly unbowed. McCain last night told supporters

We did what we always try to do: We went to Michigan and told people the truth. I am as committed now as I have ever been to making sure that no state, whether it's Michigan or South Carolina or anywhere in this blessed country, is left behind in the global economy. But that global economy is here to stay, and it is, by its nature, constantly changing. To compete more successfully in it, we must better prepare American workers and students to seize its opportunities.

Leave aside the self-congratulatory "we did what we always try to do: we went to Michigan and told the truth." This was not about telling the truth- this is, after all, the candidate who was for illegal immigration before he was against it. This is about someone who is completely oblivious to this nation's economy and its effect on people. We all recognize that the United States is losing its manufacturing base, whether in the automotive industry or otherwise. But the job sectors which are growing in McCain's glorious "global economy" are increasingly characterized by a glut of highly trained American workers unable to find employment matching their skills as jobs are outsourced to India and elsewhere. Check this out, as projected on msn.com in 2003 (click on chart for enlargement):



The Arizona Senator wants American workers to "seize the opportunities"- not of the economy in which Americans held middle-class jobs with health and other benefits but of that "constantly changing" one in which foreign workers are hired for lower pay and fewer benefits and the real income of American families declines. The "maverick" John McCain, apparently opposed to penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants and not coincidentally in favor of "free trade" and outsourcing, continues to do the bidding of his corporate sponsors.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Quote of the Week

"This is minor, the potential, compared to what you might see in November."

-CNN correspondent Joe Johns on CNN's Late Edition on 1/13/08, commenting on the (real or imagined) effort of the Clinton campaign to "racialize" the race against Barack Obama

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Reflections on the Debate (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)- No. 5

I have been unfairly ridiculing John McCain as "Saint McCain." As we all knew even before the 1/10/08 Repub Presidential debate, among fiscal, cultural, or foreign policy, conservatives, there is only one true saint. Read the candidates' own words of reverence about this individual for whom they have undying devotion.

Rudolph Giuliani: " I would do that the way I did as mayor of New York City, the way Ronald Reagan did it as president of the United States."

John McCain: "I'm proud to have been a member of the Reagan revolution, a foot soldier."

Mike Huckabee: "Well, I'm not sure anybody said we're not running for a Reagan term.... All of those things were a part of that Reagan coalition. I was a part of it in 1979 and a lot of the evangelicals who became a part of helping Ronald Reagan to be elected."

John McCain (again): "the Reagan revolution that brought about a new dawn of a new day in America and helped us immeasurably in bringing down the iron curtain."

Mitt Romney:

But let me come back to your other question about Ronald Reagan. Look, the only way we're going to win the White House is by appealing to the coalition that brought together the great strength that Ronald Reagan brought to America.
What's happened in America is that Washington has moved away from the Reagan coalition. The Re-publican Party, in some cases, has moved away from the Reagan principles.
But the principles that Ronald Reagan espoused are what will allow us not only to win the White House, but to keep America strong. Ronald Reagan was the ultimate optimist. He was a person who had confi-dence in America and brought back that spirit that we rely upon to be the strongest nation on Earth.
Ronald Reagan said we're going to have such a strong military, we'll out-compete the Soviets, and he did. He said we're going to have such strong families that the values of Americans will shine as an example of a shining city on a hill for the entire world to see, and he did that.

Fred Thompson: "On the one hand, you have the Reagan revolution. You have the Reagan coalition of limited government and strong national security.... (But Huckabee's platform is) .... not the model of the Reagan coalition, that's the model of the Democratic Party."

Rudolph Giuliani (again): "I'm a conservative because I believe in a strong national defense, the way Ronald Reagan did. I think peace through strength that Ronald Reagan proposed to deal with the Cold War is similar to what we have to do now in dealing with this terrorist war against us."

Ron Paul: (didn't get the memo).


And here is the funny thing. All these guys assume Ronald Reagan was a conservative Republican while they are posing, accurately or otherwise, as authentic conservatives. But as Jonathan Chait notes in "The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics," Reagan was a moderate Republican by today's party standards. Sure, Reagan ran up the federal deficit and attacked the labor movement (such as by firing air traffic controllers), heady, exciting stuff for a middle class- hating Republican. But he also signed an arms control agreement with the Soviet Union in 1987; appointed Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy (who have turned out to be swing voters) to the Supreme Court; enacted the largest tax increase in American history in 1982 and raised income taxes again in 1983; and in 1986 signed the Tax Reform Act, which Chait concludes "raised the proportion of taxes paid by the rich and reduced the proportion paid by the poor."

Still, the Repubs must comfort themselves by maintaining the fiction that Ronald Reagan was a true conservative and that George W. Bush is somehow a heretic. And besides- Christianity has Jesus Christ and Islam has Muhammad. We should allow Republicanism to have Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Reflections on the Debate (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)- No. 4

In the Repub presidential debate sponsored by GOP TV on January 10, 2007, John McCain repeated one of the major themes of his campaign: "sometimes you have to tell people things they don't want to hear, along with things that they do want to hear."

So asked whether "tax cuts pay for themselves," McCain gave the tough-love answer: "I think they stimulate the economy.I think that one of the first things we have to do that I for-got to mention is make these tax cuts permanent." (Making people accept income tax cuts- it's right up there with waterboarding.)

Of course, the real problem with the Senator's response is that it's not true. Hale "Bonddad" Stewart, blogging on TheHuffingtonPost.com, reprinted a chart from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis with an explanation:



Kennedy cut taxes in the early 1960s. What happened? There was a spike in revenue in the late 1960s. Maybe that means the Laffer curve is correct?
Reagan cut taxes in the 1980s. But there was no spike in revenue. Maybe tax cuts don't pay for themselves. But, let's try that experiment again.
Bush cut taxes twice (not once) in the early 2000s. Notice that after the first tax cut revenues dropped. But then tax revenues spiked -- so they must work! Actually, no. Remember this is a year over year chart. That means the spikes in the later 2000s are being compared to the dropping revenue is the early 2000s. In other words -- the tax cuts didn't pay for themselves (again).
The chart is very clear. Kennedy's cuts worked. Reagan's didn't. Bush II's didn't .


On June 11, 2007 factcheck.org reported that Alan D. Viard of the American Enterprise Institute, hardly a bastion of liberalism, told the Washington Post in October, 2006 "among economists, there's no dispute" that "federal revenue is lower today than it would have been without the tax cuts" of 2001 and 2003.

Straight talk, indeed.
Reflections on the Debate (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)- No. 3

No one running for the Repub nomination for president is a friend of the hard-working, American middle and working class, but one exchange at the 1/10/08 debate reflected an interesting difference in attitude. The question from GOP TV's Chris Wallace was:

Governor Romney, do you believe that we're headed for a recession? And given your record in Massachusetts, which had the third lowest job growth of any state during the years you were governor, why should voters trust you over these other gentlemen to handle a slowdown?

In an otherwise standard response, Romney remarked "and I know that there are some people who think, as Senator McCain did, he said, you know, some jobs have left Michigan that are never coming back. I disagree. I'm going to fight for every single job, Michigan, South Carolina, every state in this country." John McCain shot back in part:

One of the reasons why I won in New Hampshire is because I went there and told them the truth. And sometimes you have to tell people things they don't want to hear, along with things that they do want to hear. There are jobs -- let's have a little straight talk -- there are some jobs that aren't coming back to Michi-gan. There are some jobs that won't come back here to South Carolina."a.

This is the kind of "straight talk" the media loves from John McCain. This is not surprising, given that their jobs are not the ones which are being obliterated by outsourcing, "free trade," corporate tax breaks, and the like. I don't know whether Romney is sincere here, but he is correct, and "the truth"- as Senator McCain sees it- is the truth only if politicians stand idly by. This contempt for the American industrial worker, however, is not surprising. This is the same John McCain who made his attitude clear in a question-and-answer session on April 6, 2006 before the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department. From MSNBC.com:


McCain responded by saying immigrants were taking jobs nobody else wanted. He offered anybody in the crowd $50 an hour to pick lettuce in Arizona.
Shouts of protest rose from the crowd, with some accepting McCain’s job offer.
“I’ll take it!” one man shouted.
McCain insisted none of them would do such menial labor for a complete season. “You can’t do it, my friends.”
Some in the crowd said they didn’t appreciate McCain questioning their work ethic.



We've all seen it, from people, men and women in all professions. Men working on a roof, the 90-degree sun beating down on the black shingles; truck drivers rolling down the highway (sometimes illegally) for hours on end because their pay depends on it; ; waittresses, sometimes single or divorced mothers, on their feet all day taking orders at the minimum wage, enduring aggravation and exhausion because only with tips from unappreciative customers can they pay for the food, shelter, or clothing for their children. These are only a few examples; you know dozens more. And we know also that the Great McCain has not one bit of interest in the American worker and the jobs tens of millions work hard at every day.
Reflections on the Debate (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)- No. 2

From Senator John McCain (whom the media have anointed as "the adult" in the GOP race), in the Repub Presidential debate of 1/10/08:

"Could I just make a comment? I'm not interested in trading with Al Qaida. All they want to trade is burkas....."

This was not a response to a question about trade, Al Qaida, or Middle East apparel. This was a response to the following question about the Israeli and Arab Palestininans:
Congressman Paul, can we go back to the Middle East? You have said the United States should not be trying to broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. Should the president even be there today, sir?

Fill in the blank yourselves: "This cheap shot would have been condemned as bigotry if....." Here are my favorites: This remark would have been identified as bigotry if it hadn't been uttered by Saint McCain; or, perhaps if it had been made by a Democrat. And, by the way, where are those Democrats who have condemned questionable comments by Hillary Clinton or her supporters such as Andrew Cuomo and Bill Clinton? This was not questionable. It was obvious.
Reflections on the Debate (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)- No. 1

Here is a sample of the wit and wisdom of the self-effacing John McCain from the Repub Presidential debate of January 10, 2008:


One of the reasons why I won in New Hampshire is because I went there and told them the truth. And sometimes you have to tell people things they don't want to hear, along with things that they do want to hear.

I know how to do it. I saved the taxpayers $6 billion on a bogus tanker deal. I'm called the sheriff by my friends in the Senate who are the appropriators, and I didn't win Miss Congeniality. And as president, I won't win Miss Congeniality, either.

I'm proud to have been a member of the Reagan revolution, a foot soldier.... If we had adopted the tax cut package that I had, which entails spending cuts, then we would be talking about more tax cuts today.

I supported that, I argued for it. I'm the only one on this stage that did. And I condemn the Rumsfeld strategy before that.

My point was that I condemned the Rumsfeld strategy and called for the change in strategy. That's the difference.

I have been one of those involved in one of the most important changes that could have ever made, and that is reverse a losing strategy in Iraq.... I've brought about change in spending practices. The chairman of the Appropriations Committee called me the sheriff....

I know how to secure the borders.


Does this fellow never miss a chance to promote himself? If this campaign goes on much longer, McCain risks a rotator cuff injury from continually slapping himself on the back.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The "Bradley Effect"

Commenting on tonight's episode of Hardball on MSNBC, the University of Virginia's highly regarded Larry Sabato conceded that the explanation for Hilary Clinton's 1/8/07 primary victory in New Hampshire is a "complicated phenomenon." However, he stated also that not only did the pre-election polls show a substantial Obama lead (including, I've heard, 11% in HRC's tracking poll and 13% in BHO's tracking poll), but the exit polling indicated a 5% Obama victory- and exit polls in the Republican primary proved accurate. Moral of the story: the (Tom) Bradley (and Doug Wilder, Harvey Gantt, and David Dinkins) effect lives- white voters are reluctant to admit that they voted against the black candidate.*

This does not mean (this is me talking, now) that these voters are racist or bigoted. Think of it this way: wouldn't most prejudiced whites be willing and able to admit- maybe even boast- that they voted against the black candidate? More likely it is the well-intentioned white voter who votes for the white candidate for reasons unrelated to race who feels guilty voting against a qualified, popular black candidate. There are probably several reasons that Mrs. Clinton came from way behind to score an extraordinary victory but it is straining credulity not to believe that self-consciousness about admitting to a pollster a vote against a black played a role.


*Admittedly, this effect did not show up in the 2006 United States Senate race in Tennessee, where black Democrat Harold Ford lost (narrowly) to white Republican Bob
Corker by approximately the same margin as predicted in the last pre-election polls.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Oops

Primary night, 11:47 p.m.:

Mea culpa.
Looking Beyond South Carolina

Yesterday, Joe Scarborough of MSNBC, and on MSNBC, argued that following Hillary Clinton's possibly double-digit defeat to Barack Obama in the New Hampshire primary, the New York Senator should go to Chappaqua, regroup- and bypass South Carolina in favor of the closed Democratic primary states. This morning, talking to the usually sensibe Salon editor Joan Walsh, Scarborough repeated his recommendation, to which Walsh responded that Clinton "cannot by pass the African-Americans of South Carolina.... because it's disrepectful."

Prior to the Iowa caucuses, it was generally thought that Clinton and Obama were neck-and-neck in South Carolina, with the black vote- nearly half of the Democratic primary vote there- roughly evenly split. It also was widely speculated that Obama, the first black with a serious chance to win a major party nomination for President- had not generated overwhelming support in the black community because of a concern that white America would not for the foreseeable future vote for an African-American for the highest office in the land. That is a concern which, no doubt, has now been dispelled, or at least will once Obama wins by a large margin in New Hampshire after doing so in another overwhelmingly white state, Iowa.

This of course means that Scarborough who (impressively) predicted that Democrats would take back the House and the Senate in 2006 and (less impressively) a few days before Iowa that Obama and Huckabee would win the Iowa caucuses, is correct. Additionally, Clinton will have to shake up her campaign team (Carville and Begala are most-mentioned names), which John Kerry did in the autumn of 2003 and John McCain earlier this year, both to good effect.

Would this offend or enrage a critical portion of the black community of South Carolina, including the extremely influential Representative James Clyburn? Yes, and it would provide a fantastic opportunity for a Sister Souljah moment (and, conveniently for a Clinton). There is nothing racist or inconsequential about the African-Americans of South Carolina or its Democratic party. But Mrs. Clinton would be demonstrating her commitment to winning and her willingness to buck an important group in the Democratic coalition (or, "interest group," as some would have it). She would be doing no harm to black Americans or the legitimate aims of the black community. And it would confound those voters who find Democrats, no matter our virtues, as weak or vulnerable to intimidation.
There Is An "I" in "We"

NBC news anchor Brian Williams a few moments, being interviewed by (or was it "chatting" with?) Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC, said that Barack Obama now has "changed the 'I' references to 'we.'" Before the "Barack Express" came to town, we had a phrase for that: "the Imperial We."
The Irrelevance of Iowa

There may be a lesson, or two, in John McCain's defeat in the Iowa Repub caucus. The Arizona senator finished fourth, slightly behind a candidate (F. Thompson) who often seeems disinterested in the campaign. Yet, he's the favorite to win the New Hampshire primary today, if only by a small margin, at which point he would be considered the favorite to be the non-evangelical, non -(faux) populist, the mainstream alternative to Mike Huckabee. And the media would put pressure on Mitt Romney to win the Michigan primary, suggesting that failure to do so would spell defeat in his bid for the nomination.

A victory today in New Hampshire would not propel McCain to the nomination, but would do more than keep him in the game, and that despite- or perhaps because- he virtually ignored Iowa.

And Hillary Clinton should have bypassed either Iowa or New Hampshire. If the New York senator had downplayed the significance of the Iowa caucus and concentrated her efforts elsewhere, Barack Obama (presumably) would have won big in Iowa- which he did, anyway, thereby demonstrating Clinton's vulnerability and weaknesses. (And John Edwards, one-on-one with the "Barack Star," might have blocked the big victory.) Coming out of Iowa, with Obama's big margin, Clinton should have harnessed her funds and energy, avoided New Hampshire, and gone elsewhere. This is hindsight- but a powerful organization should have seen this coming. Further, Clinton supporters, including Terry McAuliffe just this morning on MSNBC, have been saying since Iowa that the campaign never considered that state a particulary strong one for their candidate- with some indication that this has been a long-held fear. Avoidance of the caucus in Iowa would have, if nothing else, blunted the emphasis on Barack Obama as a giant-killer in a state with few delegates but a tremendous impact on media exposure and momentum.
The Folly Of Non-Partisan Primaries

As I'm typing this on the morning of the New Hampshire caucus, the pundits seem to be alternating between describing the Democratic race as "making history" and "transformative" and lowering the expectations of the size of the certain Obama victory, so as to avoic later tonight having to describe the margin as "disappointing" or, worse yet, less than "historical." Amidst the thousands of hours of commentary I've heard, or lines of print I've read, about this race, not one voice of criticism, or doubt, about having the Democratic race determined in large part by non-Democrats (Republicans and especially independents) has been voiced. Nor has any Democrat wondered aloud what it might mean about the probable Democratic nominee that he is fighting in New Hampshire for votes with John McCain, the born-again supply-sider and ever-fanatical supporter of Gulf War II. (Following McCain's interview with its editorial board, The Wall Street Journal wrote "As for the tax cuts themselves, he now pledges that he would fight to make them permanent. “I will not agree to any tax increase,” he says. And then once more for emphasis: “I will not agree to any tax increase.”)

Nor has there been much, if any, criticism since the Iowa vote about the overwhelmingly white profile of that state and of New Hampshire. Analysts have been impressed by Barack Obama's ability to win in such an environment, without any appreciation that the near-absence of blacks in those two states is precisely what has shielded the race from any impact of race- that racial confusion, ambiguity, tension that is more a factor in those states which are racially heterogenous.

This is not to suggest that a black- or, more significantly and imminently, Barack Obama- cannot get elected in the United States of America in 2008. But any excitement about a "movement" fueled in large part by Independents ought to be tempered by doubt by the appropriateness of a nomination being decided by individuals who have rejected that party, and by the realization that the election will be affected mightily by conditions prevailing in the country in ten months.

Friday, January 04, 2008

This from a posting by Moulitsas on dailykos late on caucus night, January 3, 2008, quoting CNN "analyst" Bill Bennett from a rushed transcript:


COOPER: Let's go check in with our political contributors. Bill Bennett, does this change the game a lot?

BENNETT: Well, I think it's, again, a wonder of America here. A remarkable breakthrough this year.

As the other group said, 97 percent, in fact, Iowa rural, white, farming -- farming state. Barack Hussein Obama, a black man, wins this for the Democrats.

I have been watching him. I watched him on "Meet the Press," I've watched him on your show, watched him on all the CNN shows -- he never brings race into it. He never plays the race card.

Talk about the black community -- he has taught the black community you don't have to act like Jesse Jackson, you don't have to act like Al Sharpton.

You can talk about the issues. Great dignity. And this is a breakthrough.
Did the right-wing talk show host Bill Bennett actually say of Obama "he has taught the black community you don't have to act like Jesse Jackson, you don't have to act like Al Sharpton."


There are so many things wrong with this: 1)Is the "black community" a monolith? Do all blacks act, think, or even approach a political candidate in the same manner? 2)Why would the black community act like Jackson or Sharpton? Don't they more typically act like Americans? Do most black people look at black activists to determine how they will act (seems a little odd to me)?; 3)What does it mean "to act like Jesse Jackson (and) Al Sharpton? We can assume the Repub flak Bennett is not a big fan of the aforementioned gentlemen, which suggests Bennett is not a big fan of how "the black community" acts; 4)Is it necessary to "teach" the black community something, as Obama allegedly has? Does the "black community" resemble children in their simplistic unawareness? 5)Why does Bennett believe Jesse Jackson (who, for all his faults, seems committed to many progressive causes) and Al Sharpton (who, for all his faults.... well, he has many faults) are identical? Are "they" all the same?

But not to worry. Just as many NBC employees rose up to denounce to management the offensive remarks of Don Imus which resulted in him (temporarily) getting thrown off radio and television, surely, members of the "liberal media" at CNN will demand termination of its contract with Bill Bennett. Sure.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Candidate Wishes

With the approach of Three Kings Day (or, Epiphany) and the Iowa caucuses, it is time to look at the gift wish for Thursday, January 3, 2007 of the major Democratic and Repub Presidential candidates. Here we go:

Hillary Clinton- a first place finish; otherwise, second place to John Edwards. Edwards is not nearly as well-financed as Obama, and the media will spin an Obama victory as "historic."

Barack Obama- a first place finish; otherwise, second place to Edwards. (If Clinton wins here, she may be unstoppable.)

John Edwards- first place, anyway he can get it legally and ethically; and with hopes that Obama then finishes second. (There must be a reason Edwards has made it clear that he prefers Obama to Clinton, and that Edward's chief strategist Joe Trippi takes every opportunity to criticize the campaign of Hillary Clinton- but not of Barack Obama.)

Mitt Romney- first place- and a fourth place finish for John McCain, his chief rival in New Hampshire (and with the non-evangelical wing of the Repub Party)

Mike Huckabee- a first place finish by a sufficient margin to overcome media hostility to a GOP candidate who apparently believes that greed is not the highest value to aspire to.

John McCain- third place, so that the other Establishment Republican (F.T., see below) experienced in the ways of Washington comes in only fourth; and an Obama defeat in the Democratic primary so that independents are not attracted to Obama in New Hampshire (but do vote in the Repub primary for the Arizona Senator).

Fred Thompson- third place- and first place for Romney, so the other Southerner doesn't come in first. If- a big "if"- Thompson survives Iowa and New Hampshire and Huckabee is weakened, he has good shot at winning in critical South Carolina.

I would make a prediction. But it would be coming from someone who believed that the New York Giants (10-6) would scrap to win five games this season, the Baltimore Ravens (5-11) would compete for the Super Bowl, and no team could go undefeated in the National Football League. So I'll spare everyone.
The Real Problem With Iowa

As usual, the Iowa caucuses have been condemned for being unrepresentative because Iowa is a small, overwhelmingly white, state. Fair enough, though if the election season started in a large state, only the well-healed candidates would have any chance. Like Clinton and Obama. And Romney. O.K., polls show Clinton and Obama ahead- but with Edwards close behind. And Romney and the (relatively) ill-financed Huckabee are locked in a tight race, and the very well-financed Rudolph Giuliani respected Iowa Republicans enough to know they would overwhelmingly reject him.

The big problem- unacknowledged by a media worshipping at the alter of "bipartisanship"- is that independents and Repubs can vote in the Democratic caucus (and independents and Democrats in the Repub caucuses). This, of course, presents a major opportunity for the Great Accomodationist from Illinois to score big with independents, many of whom will vote Republican in 11/08 whomever the Democratic nominee is, and with Republicans, most of whom will vote Republican in 11/08 whomever the Democratic nominee is. Therefore, a Republican in Iowa has a better chance of effecting the choice of the Democratic Presidential standard bearer than a Democratic registrant/voter practically anywhere else in the country. This is not good- unless you happen to be a candidate who appears to believe that the Reid/Pelosi, "I don't mean to offend you," approach to bipartisanship will reverse years of Republican neglect, mismanagement, and hostility to the interests of the average American on Main Street.

With Democrats in the majority (not "in control") of Congress and the GOP in control of the White House (and the Judiciary), the GOP controls the federal government. A Democrat may be nominated with significant help from Republicans, then elected because of dissatisfaction with the nation's direction under a Republican President. But it will take more than that to enact and implement progressive policies in Washington.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Reactions To The Assassination

It's truly difficult to ascertain, from his/her reaction as a candidate to a foreign policy crisis, how a President will react when danger erupts abroad. Still, it's interesting to note how some of the major candidates reacted upon news of the assassination of Benazhir Bhutto. Mike Huckabee made the rather curious link between Pakistan and illegal immigration, contending "and it happens if people can slip across our border and we have no control over it." Although Mitt Romney conceded "we don't know who is responsible for this attack," he breathlessly argued "we must come together in an effort in great haste and with grat earnestness to help overcome the threat of the spread of radical, violent Jihad." And John McCain, sensing a political opening in a tragic event, commented "I’m the one with the experience, the knowledge and the judgment, so perhaps it may serve to enhance those credentials." Classy.

Over on the more rational side of the aisle, Hillary Clinton appropriately remarked “I am profoundly saddened and outraged by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, a leader of tremendous political and personal courage....my family and I extend our condolences and deepest sympathies to the victims and their families and to the people of Pakistan.” Unfortunately, as Ben Smith reports on politico.com, the New York Senator, unaware that the upcoming elections are for Parliament and thus President Musharraf won't be on the ballot, on December 28, 2007 told CNN's Wolf Blitzer "if President Musharraf wishes to stand for election, then he should abide by the same rules that every other candidate will have to follow." Oops.

John Edwards was able to get President Musharraf on the phone soon after the assassination and, the Washington Post opined, delivered "words the Pakistani president needs to hear from as many Americans as possible," in encouraging Musharraf "to continue on the path to democratization [and] to allow international investigators to come in and determine what happened, what the facts were."

And as for the Great Uniter, Barack Obama? Senator Obama contended in part "we join with them in mourning her loss and stand with them in their quest for democracy and against the terrorists who threaten the common security of the world." The Illinois Senator was not content to jump to a Bush-like conclusion, without confirmation, that terrorists were the culprits. Obama drew a connection among the war in Iraq, the subsequent increase in terrorism, a strengthening of Al Qaeda in Pakistan (reasonable, so far)- and the assassination (debatable, at best). The Washington Post editorialized that Obama's spokesman, David Axelrod, said Ms. Clinton "was a strong supporter of the war in Iraq, which we would submit was one of the reasons why we were diverted from Afghanistan, Pakistan and al-Qaeda, who may have been players in the event today." The Post concluded "when questioned later about his spokesman's remarks, Mr. Obama stiffly defended them -- while still failing to offer any substantive response to the ongoing crisis. Is this Mr. Obama's way of rejecting 'the same Washington game' he lambasted earlier in the day? If so, his game doesn't look very new, or attractive."

Yes, it is the same Washington game. Blame "terrorists" without specifying the terrorists, and look for facts later, fitting the same pattern we've grown accustomed to over the past seven years.
John McCain, Hypocrite

The media's love affair with Washington insiders continues. In a 12/30/07 blog on politico.com, Josephine Hearn describes a question and answer session held by John Edwards at a Holiday Inn in Muscatine, Iowa, in which the former Senator reportedly steered several questions to a discussion of Pakistan which, as I recall, has been the most important foreign policy issue of late. Hearn concluded "then, after weaving the turmoil in Pakistan into four political appearances that day, he asked that the situation not be exploited by U.S. presidential candidates for political gain." Edwards is little more than a hypocrite, we're to believe.

But just check out this statement from Senator John McCain as reported on cnn.politicsticker.com on 12/27/07:

I’m the one with the experience, the knowledge and the judgment, so perhaps it may serve to enhance those credentials, or make people understand that I’ve been to Waziristan, I know Musharraf, I can pick up the phone and call him. I knew Benazir Bhutto, I know the area. But I hate for anything like this to be the cause of any political gain for anyone.

Undeniably true- and a valiant effort to wring political gain from the crisis in south central Asia. But in contrast to the three major Democratic candidates, especially Edwards, Saint McCain receives no criticism.
An "Angry" Edwards?

"When did you stop beating your wife, Senator Edwards?"

No, John Edwards has not been asked this question. But he has been asked arguably the political equivalent of this classic loaded question. In a blog written on 12/31, 2007, Roger Simon of politico.com said earlier that day he "interviewed Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth. I asked them if John was an angry man and, if so, why."

It has become a truism during this campaign that "Iowans like nice." Everywhere, we are reminded that in 2004, Howard Dean was expected to win the Iowa caucus and Richard Gephardt perhaps to place second. Instead, following sniping between Dean and Gephardt, Kerry won, Edwards (then reportedly pleasant and optimistic) placed second, Dean third, and Gephardt (who quickly withdrew from the race) finished fourth. And now Roger Simon continues the narrative which journalists believe is poison: Edwards as "the angry man." He approvingly quotes Stuart Rothenberg in his Rothenberg Political Report alleging "if Iowa Democrats choose Edwards, they are choosing anger, confrontation and class warfare." And he could have quoted Rothenberg when the latter charged "Edwards’s bet is that, unlike 2004, they’ll choose anger and confrontation."

The more relevant question is this: Why is the media so angry at John Edwards?

False Reality, False Hope

On Friday's episode of " The View ," host Caryn Elaine Johnson , known professionally as Whoopi Goldberg, took exception ...