Monday, March 31, 2008

Obama's Pennsylvania Showdown

Craig Crawford
Craig Crawford's Trail Mix
CQ Poltics
March 31, 2008

Pennsylvania is on. For a time it seemed that Barack Obama would try to downplay the Keystone State’s April 22 primary, but in recent days the Democratic presidential frontrunner has done what it takes to persuade doubters that he is in it to win.

Signs abound of Obama’s seriousness: Transferring his Iowa coordinator to run the Pennsylvania campaign, upping television advertising buys, personally canvassing the state on a weeklong bus tour and headlining another round of big-crowd stadium events.

Going for a Pennsylvania win is risky, given Hillary Rodham Clinton’s sizable polling leads. But the Clinton camp might have erred in raising expectation’s for a big victory. Obama is now doing enough to compete in the state and possibly knock Clinton out of the race once and for all.

CQ © 2007 All Rights Reserved

Get Me Al Gore's Phone Number ...

Jim Morin
The Miami Herald
March 30, 2008

Copyright 1996-2008 The Miami Herald Media Company

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hillary’s St. Patrick’s Day Massacre

BocaGuy: Hillary get of of the race before you make a fool of yourself.

Frank Rich
The New York Times
March 30, 2008

MOST politicians lie. Most people over 50, as I know all too well, misremember things. So here is the one compelling mystery still unresolved about Hillary Clinton’s Bosnia fairy tale: Why did she keep repeating this whopper for nearly three months, well after it had been publicly debunked by journalists and eyewitnesses?

In January, after Senator Clinton first inserted the threat of “sniper fire” into her stump speech, Elizabeth Sullivan of The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote that the story couldn’t be true because by the time of the first lady’s visit in March 1996, “the war was over.” Meredith Vieira asked Mrs. Clinton on the “Today” show why, if she was on the front lines, she took along a U.S.O. performer like Sinbad. Earlier this month, a week before Mrs. Clinton fatefully rearmed those snipers one time too many, Sinbad himself spoke upto The Washington Post: “I think the only ‘red phone’ moment was: Do we eat here or at the next place?”

Yet Mrs. Clinton was undeterred. She dismissed Sinbad as a “comedian” and recycled her fiction once more on St. Patrick’s Day. When Michael Dobbs fact-checked it for The Post last weekend and proclaimed it worthy of “four Pinocchios,” her campaign pushed back. The Clinton camp enforcer Howard Wolfson phoned in to “Morning Joe” on MSNBC Monday and truculently quoted a sheaf of news stories that he said supported her account. Only later that day, a full week after her speech, did he start to retreat, suggesting it was “possible” she “misspoke” in the “most recent instance” of her retelling of her excellent Bosnia adventure.

Since Mrs. Clinton had told a similar story in previous instances, this was misleading at best. It was also dishonest to characterize what she had done as misspeaking — or as a result of sleep deprivation, as the candidate herself would soon assert. The Bosnia anecdote was part of her prepared remarks, scripted and vetted with her staff. Not that it mattered anymore. The self-inflicted damage had been done. The debate about Barack Obama’s relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was almost smothered in the rubble of Mrs. Clinton’s Bosnian bridge too far.

Which brings us back to our question: Why would so smart a candidate play political Russian roulette with virtually all the bullet chambers loaded? ... ( more)

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Surrender Already, Dorothy

The New York Times

March 30, 2008


It’s all about the magic, really.

And whether we can take a flier on this skinny guy with the strange name and braided ancestry to help us get it back.

Bernard Kouchner, the foreign minister of France and a strong supporter of the United States, recently observed that President Bush has done such a number on our image in the world that no one will be able to restore the luster.

“I think the magic is over,” he said.

Pas si vite, mon vieux. In terms of style, the Obamas could give Carla Bruni-Sarkozy a run for her euros. And at least Obama is not in a fantasy world on Iraq, as W. and John McCain are, insisting it’s improving while we see it exploding.

Many voters decided last week to stick with Obama despite his less-than-convincing explanations about the Rev. Wright — even as many soured on Hillary, casting her as Lady Voldemort.

Democrats are coming around to the point Jay Rockefeller made 10 days ago after introducing Obama in West Virginia: “Democrats always make a mistake by nominating people who know everything on earth there is to know about public policy. I introduced both Al Gore and John Kerry at their rallies. They knew all the policies, but people didn’t connect with them. You don’t get elected president if people don’t like you.”

Despite Bill Clinton’s saying it was “a bunch of bull” that his wife should drop out, Democrats are trying to sneak up on Hillary, throw a burlap sack over her head, carry her off the field and stick her in a Saddam spider hole until after the Denver convention.

One Obama adviser moaned that the race was “beginning to feel like a hostage crisis” and would probably go on for another month to six weeks. And Obama said that the “God, when will this be over?” primary season was like “a good movie that lasted about a half an hour too long.”

Hillary sunnily riposted that she likes long movies. Her favorite as a girl was “The Wizard of Oz,” so surely she spots the “Surrender Dorothy” sign in the sky and the bad portent of the ladies of “The View” burbling to Obama about how sexy he is.

But who knows? Obama and Bob Casey talking March Madness to the patrons of Sharky’s sports cafe in Latrobe, Pa., on Friday night seemed demographically clever. But it is always when Hillary is pushed back by the boys that women help hoist her up.

Obama, like the preternaturally gifted young heroes in mythical tales, is still learning to channel his force. He can ensorcell when he has to, and he has viral appeal. Who else could alchemize a nuanced 40-minute speech on race into must-see YouTube viewing for 20-year-olds? ... ( more )

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Top Ten Craziest Things John McCain Has Said While You Weren't Watching

Much of McCain's madness has been lost in the fog of the ongoing battle for the Democratic nomination -- so here's a recap of what you've missed.

Cliff Schecter
March 29, 2008

John McCain has been saying a lot of downright nutty things lately. You've probably come across some of them, such as his admitted lack of knowledge about economics or his excitement at the prospect of remaining in Greater Mesopotamia for the next ten decades. Yet, alas, much of his craziness has been lost in the fog of the ongoing battle between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. So here's a recap of some nuggets of wisdom you may have missed -- from McCain's mouth to Bellevue's Ears.

10. Responding to a student who criticized his remark about our staying in Iraq for 100 years, McCain quipped, "No American argues against our military presence in Korea or Japan or Germany or Kuwait or other places, or Turkey, because America is not receiving casualties."

I guess Ron Paul isn't American. Or Dennis Kucinich. Or many others who have questioned the mindset behind keeping our troops abroad forever, which is what an empire does, not a republic. Although, perhaps more people don't argue "against our military presence" in the other spots he named, because, you know, those wars weren't based on 100 percent fabricated evidence and didn't make us less safe after they were done. Just a thought.

9. John McCain is "very proud to have Pastor John Hagee's support."

Just FYI, John Hagee makes Jeremiah Wright seem like Richard Simmons. Hagee has called the Catholic Church the "Great Whore," an "apostate church," the "Antichrist," and a "false cult system." And let's not even get into what he has said about Jews.

8. "In the shorter term," said McCain, "if you somehow told American businesses and families, 'Look, you're not going to experience a tax increase in 2010,' I think that's a pretty good short-term measure."

This is McCain's statement in suport of making permanent the tax cuts he voted and railed against in 2001 and 2003. Back then they were only a giveaway to the rich and "budget-busters." Now that we are much further along in borrowing our economy from the Chinese, and the rich have become even richer, they are a way to stimulate the economy by putting money in the hands of working Americans.

7. "This is a Catholic Voter Alert. Governor George Bush has campaigned against Senator John McCain by seeking the support of Southern fundamentalists who have expressed anti-Catholic views. Several weeks ago, Governor Bush spoke at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Bob Jones has made strong anti-Catholic statements, including calling the Pope the anti-Christ, the Catholic Church a satanic cult! John McCain, a pro-life senator, has strongly criticized this anti-Catholic bigotry, while Governor Bush has stayed silent while seeking the support of Bob Jones University. Because of this, one Catholic pro-life congressman has switched his support from Bush to McCain, and many Michigan Catholics support John McCain for president."

This was a John McCain for president campaign robo-call in 2000. Today, as we pointed out, he hangs with the Rev. Hagee who thinks Catholicism is a "cult" and the "Antichrist." How romantic.

6. "Everybody says that they're against the special interests. I'm the only one the special interests don't give any money to."

Here are some examples of Sen. McCain's epic battle with special-interest money: According to the Center for Responsive Politics, McCain has taken nearly $1.2 million in campaign contributions from the telephone utility and telecom service industries, more than any other senator. McCain sides with the telecom companies on retroactive immunity.

McCain is also the single largest recipient of campaign contributions from Ion Media Networks -- formerly Paxson Communication -- receiving $36,000 from the company and employees from 1997 to mid-year 2006.

5. McCain listened intently, pausing a second before delivering what could be a defining answer. "The other one will do just fine."

For what important reason was Sen. McCain interrupting an explanation to the press of his positions on Iraq and national security to take a cell phone from an aide? Why his wife needed to buy them a new barbecue grill.

4. During a Nov. 28, 2007, Republican debate Sen. McCain angrily denounced torture and offered unmitigated support of the Army field manual's restrictions, saying they "are working, and working effectively."

So naturally and quite logically, he voted against applying these same standards to the CIA. Apparently these rules won't work effectively for spooks, just the men and women on the front lines.

3. McCain, while speaking at a town hall meeting in a suburb of Philadelphia, was asked if he had concerns that anti-American insurgents in Iraq might commit increased acts of violence in September or October with a plan in mind to tip the November election to the Democrats. "Yes, I worry about it," McCain said.

How did he figure out what the insurgents -- which his policies in Iraq have helped create -- are up to? When they attacked us on 9/11, and the warning signs were all ignored by President Bush and his then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, he was punished with winning a second term. So, of course, militants, who follow john McCain's campaign like Republicans do the signs of the Rapture, are closely planning their events because they know the exact opposite will be the result this time.

2. Let's go back to the videotape: "I'm the only one the special interests don't give any money to."

Not only have we proven this false, but perhaps many can't give money because they all work on his campaign. His campaign manager, Rick Davis, lobbyist. Top advisor, Charlie Black, lobbyist. The operative currently running his Senate office, Mark Buse, former lobbyist. And so it goes. Here is what one observer had to say. "It's an interesting dichotomy. On the one hand, he's presenting himself as the crusader against special interests and yet, on the other hand, he's surrounded himself with senior advisers that are lobbyists," said Sheila Krumholz of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan, non-profit research group focused on money in politics.

1. And finally, McCain's craziest, coolest, most unstoppable McCain Moment: The senator said, while in Jordan, that it was "common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that's well known. And it's unfortunate." A few moments later, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, admiringly gazing at McCain until that moment, stepped up and whispered something in the presidential candidate's ear. McCain then blurted out: "I'm sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda."

Phew. Glad trusty Joe Lieberman was there to explain to the man of "experience," a man who wants to lead the free world, that Sunnis (Al Qaeda) and Shia (Iran) not only don't work together but are in direct conflict. We have only been at war there for five years, so I wouldn't expect Sen. McCain to concern himself with such trivial matters.

© 2008 Independent Media Institute

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Scott Bateman: Clinton sure did a lot of neat stuff in Bosnia

Scott Bateman imagines the many things Hillary Clinton could have done on the Bosnia trip. (Subscribe to Bateman's daily animations through iTunes and RSS.)

Copyright ©2008 Salon Media Group, Inc.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hillary or Nobody?

BocaGuy: Hillary it is time to go. You can't win. You could gracefully drop out - NOW!

Maureen Dowd
Op-Ed Columnist
The New York Times
March 26, 2008


While the cool cat’s away, the Hillary mice will play.

As Barack Obama was floating in the pool with his daughters the last few days in St. Thomas, some Clinton disciples were floating the idea of St. Hillary as his vice president.

She can’t win without him, said one Hillary adviser, and he can’t win without her.

They’re stuck with each other.

It’s one of my favorite movie formulas, driving the dynamics in such classics as “A Few Good Men,” “The Big Easy” and “Guys and Dolls”: Charming, glib guy spars and quarrels with no-nonsense, driven girl, until they team up in the last reel. He spices up her life, and she stiffens his spine. And soon they hear the pitter-patter of little superdelegate feet, who are thrilled not to be pulled in two directions anymore.

And everybody’s happy. Or are they?

A couple of weeks ago, when Hill and Bill mentioned the possibility of a joint ticket, it was an attempt to undermine Obama and urge voters and superdelegates to put Hillary on top; the implication was that this was the only way Democrats could have both their stars, and besides, it was her turn. The precocious boy wonder had plenty of time.

But with the math not in her favor, her options running out, Bill Richardson running out and her filigreed narrative of dodging bullets in Bosnia and securing peace in Northern Ireland unraveling, could Hillary actually think the vice presidency is the best she’ll do?

One Hillary pal said she wouldn’t want to go back to a Senate full of lawmakers who’d abandoned her for Obama. And even if she could get to be majority leader, would it be much fun working with Nancy Pelosi, whose distaste for the Clintons has led her to subtly maneuver for Obama?

... ( more )

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rev. Jeremiah Wright isn't the problem

BocaGuy: AMEN !

The hysteria over Obama's former pastor's attacks on America shows we're still in thrall to knee-jerk patriotism.

Gary Kamiya
March 25, 2008

Maybe we really are doomed to elect John McCain, remain in Iraq forever and nuke Iran. Nations that forget history may not be doomed to repeat it, but those that never even recognize reality in the first place definitely are. Last week's ridiculous uproar over Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermons proves yet again that America has still not come to terms with the most rudimentary facts about race, 9/11 -- or itself.

The great shock so many people claim to be feeling over Wright's sermons is preposterous. Anyone who is surprised and horrified that some black people feel anger at white people, and America, is living in a racial never-never land. Wright has called the U.S. "the United States of White America," talks about the "oppression" of black people and says, "White America got their wake-up call after 9/11." Gosh, who could have dreamed that angry racial grievances and left-wing political views are sometimes expressed in black churches?

It's not surprising that the right is using Wright to paint Barack Obama as a closet Farrakhan, trying to let the air out of his trans-racial balloon by insinuating that he's a dogmatic race man. But beyond the fake shock and the all-too-familiar racial politics, what the whole episode reveals is how narrow the range of acceptable discourse remains in this country. This is especially true of anything having to do with patriotism or 9/11 -- which have become virtually interchangeable. Wright's unforgivable sin was that he violated our rigid code of national etiquette. Instead of the requisite "God bless America," he said "God damn America." He said 9/11 was a case of chickens coming home to roost. Now we must all furrow our brows and agree that such dreadful words are anathema and that no presidential candidate can ever have been within earshot of them.

This is absurd. We're worrying about someone in Row 245 who refuses to stand up for "The Star Spangled Banner," while the people who are singing loudest and waving the biggest flags are the ones who got us into the mess we're in today.

Wright isn't the problem. Stupid patriotism is the problem.

We are now five years into a war that may outrank Vietnam as the most pointless and disastrous one in our history. George W. Bush and his neoconservative brain trust conceived that war, but they were only able to push it through because the American people, their political leaders and the mainstream media signed off on it. And they did so because they were in the grip of the fearful, vengeful, patriotic frenzy that swept the nation after 9/11. Without 9/11 and America's fateful reaction to it, there would be no Iraq war. Every day that the war drags on is yet another indictment of that self-righteous, unthinking "patriotism." ... ( more )

Copyright ©2008 Salon Media Group, Inc.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Worse Than Bush

Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Ali Frick, and Benjamin Armbruster
The Progress Report
Center for American Progress Action Fund
March 24, 2008

In 2001, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) opposed the first round of President Bush's tax cuts, saying they were "generous tax relief to the wealthiest individuals of our country at the expense of lower- and middle-income American taxpayers." But now, as he runs for president, McCain openly mocks rhetoric that talks about "who the, quote, 'wealthy' are in America." In fact, McCain has offered massive tax cuts, mostly for corporations, that are as costly as Bush's tax cuts and even more regressive. In an analysis released last week, Center for American Progress Action Fund Senior Fellow Robert Gordon and Domestic Policy Adviser James Kvaal conclude that McCain's proposals are "enormously expensive," as they essentially double the Bush tax cuts. Additionally, "the McCain plan would predominantly benefit the most fortunate taxpayers" while shifting "the tax burden from investment income onto earned income." Not only would McCain ease the tax burden predominantly for the most wealthy, according to Gordon and Kvaal, but his plan "will lead to increased sheltering." Additionally, "McCain cannot pay for his tax cuts without massive reductions in Social Security, Medicare, or other key programs that benefit the vast majority of Americans." In essence, McCain has adopted the agenda of anti-tax ideologue Grover Norquist, who wants to make radical changes to the U.S. tax code "at the expense of lower- and middle-income Americans."

EMBRACED BY NORQUIST: Throughout McCain's time in the Senate, he has rarely been a favorite of Norquist's. In fact, just three years ago, Norquist referred to him as "the nut-job from Arizona." Pressed on the comment by the Washington Post, Norquist said he "misspoke" and that he "meant to say gun-grabbing, tax-increasing Bolshevik." Now, Norquist -- who famously said he wants the government "down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub" -- calls McCain "very good on taxes" because he has embraced "the Americans for Tax Reform's entire agenda." Speaking to Newsweek last month, Norquist said that "on the tax issue," McCain "has moved very hard and far, and I believe convincingly." Explaining his recent embrace of McCain, Norquist told the Politico earlier this year that "successful movements accept prodigal sons when they return."

McCAIN BEGINS BACKING AWAY?: Speaking to the Washington Post last week, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain's senior policy adviser, responded to Gordon and Kvaal's criticism, conceding that they "had a point" on "the question of tax cuts." "It will make deficits expand up front, no question," admitted Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office. But Holtz-Eakin defended the central points of McCain's plan, claiming that "helping corporations ultimately helps workers because it ensures their employer remains internationally competitive." "That place has to be economically viable, otherwise they have a problem," said Hotz-Eakin. Moreover, though he conceded to Gordon and Kvaal on tax cuts, Holtz-Eakin's Washington Post op-ed today about McCain's plan for "turning around the economy" never mentions the massive corporate tax cuts that McCain billed barely two months ago as the first item in his "economic stimulus plan."

QUESTIONS FOR McCAIN: Responding to Holtz-Eakin on the Center for American Progress Action Fund's Wonk Room blog, Gordon and Kvaal note that Holtz-Eakin's "signal that Senator McCain may change his economic agenda yet again" raises four questions: 1) Why is it necessary to cuts taxes for corporations to make them "economically viable" when the United States already has the fourth-lowest corporate tax revenue as a share of the economy in the industrialized world? 2) Why are deficit-financed corporate tax cuts likely to increase growth when (a) in the short-run, Moody's ranked them the least cost-effective stimulus among 13 options, and (b) in the medium or longer-run, the effect on growth of deficit-financed tax cuts "tends to be small?" 3) How do massive tax cuts for the most fortunate further shared prosperity when income inequality is at its highest level since before the Great Depression (or earlier)? 4) Given the admission that this plan will immediately increase federal budget deficits, how will McCain meet his own goal of balancing the budget by

The Richardson Endorsement: Bye, Bye Hillary

Richard Whalen
The Maverick Conservative
March 24, 2008

New Mexico’s Governor Bill Richardson, the nation’s only Hispanic governor, shocked the political world in general and the Clinton camp in particular by endorsing presidential candidate Barack Obama for president March 21.

And while many political analysts have pointed out that Richardson’s timing was a bit off – Obama narrowly lost the Texas primary because Hillary Clinton ran strongly among Hispanics – nevertheless, Richardson’s endorsement is seen as crucial for Obama to win the backing of the nearly 800 superdelegates as well as America’s 35 million Hispanics. Richardson is a superdelegate and the 62nd superdelegate to endorse Obama.

Quite moved by Obama's major address on race relations and Obama’s response to the controversial remarks of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Jr., Richardson said: “Your candidacy is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our country, and you are a once-in-a-lifetime leader….As a Hispanic-American, I was particularly touched by his words.”

Richardson’s endorsement is considered a stunning rebuke of Clinton because of his deep ties to both Hillary and Bill Clinton. Under President Clinton, Richardson was Secretary of Energy and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Naturally, the Clinton campaign shrugged off the endorsement.

While Richardson said his “affection for Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton will never waver, it is now time for a new generation of leadership.” He said he spoke with her on March 20 and later joked: “We’ve had better conversations.” Richardson is the second former Democratic presidential contender to endorse Obama, after Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut.

... ( more )

CQ © 2007 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Republican Resurrection

Frank Rich
Op-Ed Columnist
The New York Times
March 23, 2008

THE day before Barack Obama gave The Speech, Hillary Clinton gave a big speech of her own, billed by her campaign as a “major policy address on the war in Iraq.” What, you didn’t hear about it?

Clinton partisans can blame the Obamaphilic press corps for underplaying their candidate’s uncompromising antiwar sentiments. But intentionally or not, the press did Mrs. Clinton a favor. Every time she opens her mouth about Iraq, she reminds voters of how she enabled the catastrophe that has devoured American lives and treasure for five years.

Race has been America’s transcendent issue far longer than that. I share the general view that Mr. Obama’s speech is the most remarkable utterance on the subject by a public figure in modern memory. But what impressed me most was not Mr. Obama’s rhetorical elegance or his nuanced view of both America’s undeniable racial divide and equally undeniable racial progress. The real novelty was to find a politician who didn’t talk down to his audience but instead trusted it to listen to complete, paragraph-long thoughts that couldn’t be reduced to sound bites.

In a political culture where even campaign debates can resemble “Jeopardy,” this is tantamount to revolution. As if to prove the point, some of the Beltway bloviators who had hyped Mitt Romney’s instantly forgotten snake oil on “Faith in America” soon fell to fretting about whether “ordinary Americans” would comprehend Mr. Obama.

Mrs. Clinton is fond of mocking her adversary for offering “just words.” But words can matter, and Mrs. Clinton’s tragedy is that she never realized they could have mattered for her, too. You have to wonder if her Iraq speech would have been greeted with the same shrug if she had tossed away her usual talking points and seized the opportunity to address the war in the same adult way that Mr. Obama addressed race. Mrs. Clinton might have reconnected with the half of her party that has tuned her out.

She is no less bright than Mr. Obama and no less dedicated to public service. It’s not her fault that she doesn’t have his verbal gifts — who does? But her real problem isn’t her speaking style. It’s the content. Mrs. Clinton needn’t have Mr. Obama’s poetry or pearly oratorical tones to deliver a game-changing speech. She just needs the audacity of candor. Yet she seems incapable of revisiting her history on Iraq (or much else) with the directness that Mr. Obama brought to his reappraisal of his relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. ... ( more )

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Haunting Obama’s Dreams

BocaGuy: When this campaign began, I was a whole hearted Hillary supporter. As the campaign progressed I have begun to like Hillary the least. As the campaign seems to be slipping away from her, she is willing to say and do anything for the nomination. I no longer support her.

Maureen Dowd
Op-Ed Columnist
The New York Times
March 23, 2008

It is a tribute to Hillary Clinton that even though, rationally, political soothsayers think she can no longer win, irrationally, they wonder how she will pull it off.

It’s impossible to imagine The Terminator, as a former aide calls her, giving up. Unless every circuit is out, she’ll regenerate enough to claw her way out of the grave, crawl through the Rezko Memorial Lawn and up Obama’s wall, hurl her torso into the house and brutally haunt his dreams.

“It’s like one of those movies where you think you know the end, but then you watch with your fingers over your eyes,” said one leading Democrat.

Hillary got a boost from the wackadoodle Jeremiah Wright. As a top pol noted, the Reverend turned Obama — in the minds of some working-class and crossover white voters — from “a Harvard law graduate into a South Side Black Panther.”

Obama blunted the ugliness of Wright’s YouTube “greatest hits” with his elegant and bold speech on race. But how will he get the genie back into the bottle? ... ( more )

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Moving beyond Obama and race

BocaGuy: Obama's speech asks each of us to come to terms with our own feelings on the question of race. What our own experience on race.

Joan Walsh
March 22, 2008

Barack Obama sounded tired when he described his grandmother as a "typical white person" who feared those who are different from her in a radio interview Thursday. He was elaborating on the historic speech on race he gave Tuesday. Obama hasn't gotten his line on his white grandmother quite right yet. He compared her to Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose extremist statements (admittedly a minority of his prodigous pastoral output) are part of his public persona, while Obama's grandmother's supposed transgressions were private (and in Obama's books, occasioned by her harassment by an aggressive panhandler who happened to be African American. But maybe there were more.)

Whatever the truth, what Obama experienced with his grandmother was no doubt painful as he reckoned with his mixed-race upbringing, as well as the fact of an absent Kenyan father and an often absent Kansan mother, who were often replaced by two loving but imperfect aging white grandparents.

I've gotten a ton of criticism in letters for questioning Obama's use of his grandmother in his landmark race speech, and it's all made me think twice. Many more times than twice, actually. Yet I hold to my view that Obama's speech, and its aftermath, could well be politically damaging despite rave reviews, and that his use of his grandmother is part of the problem. I would ask my critics' indulgence, hoping they'll join the conversation on race Obama correctly says we need, and put aside their own preconceptions while I explain my reaction. ... ( more )

Copyright ©2008 Salon Media Group, Inc.

Friday, March 21, 2008

State Dept. Finds Breaches of Obama’s File

BocaGuys: This story is just the started. Why had three contract employees had just wanted to accidently sneak a peek at Obama's passport file. The leaking to the press of the photo of Obama in Kenya was about the time the files were breached. If have to wonder.

The New York Times
March 21, 2008

WASHINGTON — The State Department has fired two employees and reprimanded a third for improperly opening electronic information from the passport file of Senator Barack Obama, State Department officials said Thursday.

On three separate occasions in January, February and March, three employees looked through Mr. Obama’s file in the department’s consular affairs section, violating department’s privacy rules, the State Department spokesman, Sean D. McCormack, said. Mr. McCormack said the department’s internal controls flagged the breach, which he attributed to “imprudent curiosity.”

State Department officials said that they had no idea why the employees broke into Mr. Obama’s files. The department is continuing to investigate, Mr. McCormack said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was told of the security breach, which was first reported in The Washington Times on Thursday evening. Mr. McCormack said security measures used to monitor records of high-profile people like Mr. Obama worked properly in the three instances to alert department officials of the breaches.

“This is an outrageous breach of security and privacy, even from an administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years,” said Bill Burton, an Obama campaign spokesman. ... ( more )

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Why is Bush Still Smiling?

BocaGuys: "what me worry?"

Robert Scheer
March 19, 2008

That idiotic "what me worry?" look just never leaves the man's visage. Once again there was our president, presiding over disasters in part of his making and totally on his watch, grinning with an aplomb that suggested a serious disconnect between his worldview and existing reality. Be it in his announcement that Iraq was being secured on a day when bombs ripped through that sad land or posed between his treasury secretary and the Federal Reserve chairman to applaud the government's bailout of a failed bank, George Bush was the only one inexplicably smiling.

Failure suits him. It is a stance he learned well while presiding over one failed Texas business deal after another, and it served him splendidly as he claimed the title of president of the United States after losing the popular, and maybe even the electoral, vote. It carried him through the most ignominious chapter of U.S. foreign policy, from the lies about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to an unprecedented presidential defense of torture.

The totally unwarranted assurance was there this week as the once proud dollar fell into the toilet and the debacle of Iraq and Bush's other failed Mideast policies pushed oil prices to record highs. The Europeans, who didn't support the U.S. imperial intervention, are doing much better, not having to pay for guarding besieged oil pipelines while U.S. taxpayers are saddled with trillions in future debt, not to mention 4,000 U.S. military deaths and 30,000 U.S. injuries in a war the administration had promised would be paid for with Iraqi oil revenues. Even in Baghdad last week there wasn't enough oil to keep the lights on for more than a few hours.

But the president is happy because his legacy issue, the war on terror, is intact. No matter that this week the Pentagon was forced to release a report conducted over the last five years that concluded, after surveying 600,000 official Iraqi documents captured by U.S. forces, that there is "no smoking gun" establishing any connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida. The report was so embarrassing that we taxpayers who paid for it were not going to be told of its existence, even though the explosive conclusions were totally declassified, until ABC News forced its posting online. ... ( more )

© 2008 Independent Media Institute.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Five years of Iraq lies

How President Bush and his advisors have spent each year of the war peddling mendacious tales about a mission accomplished.

Juan Cole
March 19, 2008

Each year of George W. Bush's war in Iraq has been represented by a thematic falsehood. That Iraq is now calm or more stable is only the latest in a series of such whoppers, which the mainstream press eagerly repeats. The fifth anniversary of Bush's invasion of Iraq will be the last he presides over. Sen. John McCain, in turn, has now taken to dangling the bait of total victory before the American public, and some opinion polls suggest that Americans are swallowing it, hook, line and sinker.

The most famous falsehoods connected to the war were those deployed by the president and his close advisors to justify the invasion. But each of the subsequent years since U.S. troops barreled toward Baghdad in March 2003 has been marked by propaganda campaigns just as mendacious. Here are five big lies from the Bush administration that have shaped perceptions of the Iraq war.

Year 1's big lie was that the rising violence in Iraq was nothing out of the ordinary. The social turmoil kicked off by the invasion was repeatedly denied by Bush officials. When Iraqis massively looted government ministries and even private shops, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld joked that U.S. media had videotape of one man carrying off a vase and that they kept looping it over and over again. The first year of the war saw the rise of a Sunni Arab guerrilla movement that repeatedly struck at U.S. troops and at members and leaders of the Shiite-dominated Interim Governing Council appointed by the American government.

After dozens of U.S. and British military deaths, Rumsfeld actually came out before the cameras and denied, in July of 2003, that there was a building guerrilla war. When CNN's Jamie McIntyre quoted to him the Department of Defense definition of a guerrilla war -- "military and paramilitary operations conducted in enemy-held or hostile territory by an irregular predominantly indigenous forces" -- and said it appeared to fit Iraq, Rumsfeld replied, "It really doesn't." Bush was so little concerned by the challenge of an insurgency that he cavalierly taunted the Sunni Arab guerrillas, "Bring 'em on!" regardless of whether it might recklessly endanger U.S. soldiers. The guerrillas brought it on.

In Year 2 the falsehood was that Iraq was becoming a shining model of democracy under America's caring ministrations. In actuality, Bush had planned to impose on Iraq what he called "caucus-based" elections, in which the electorate would be restricted to the provincial and some municipal council members backed by Bush-related institutions. That plan was thwarted by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who demanded one-person, one-vote open elections, and brought tens of thousands of protesters out onto the streets of Baghdad and Basra. ... ( more )

Copyright ©2008 Salon Media Group, Inc.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

George W. Hoover

BocaGuy: A friend told me days after the Supreme Court voted 5-4 in favor of George Bush to give him the presidency, that George Bush would be the worst president in history. Michael your were a prophet.

Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Ali Frick, and Benjamin Armbruster
The Progress Report
Center for American Progress Action Fund
March 17, 2008

In a recent Wall Street Journal survey of the nation's top economists, 70 percent said the economy is in a recession and half said that "this year could be worse than the 2001 and 1990-91 downturns." "The evidence is now beyond a reasonable doubt," said one Wells Fargo & Co. senior economist. The Commerce Department also said last week that retail sales -- which account for more than 70 percent of U.S. economic activity -- fell 0.6 percent in February. Last month also saw the national unemployment rate increase as the Labor Department announced that the nation had lost 63,000 jobs -- the second consecutive monthly job decline. While the American public is in line with economists on the realities of the economy, President Bush has only recognized a "slowdown." Bush recently acknowledged that the "root cause of the economic slowdown has been the downturn in the housing market." But in a speech last week, Bush echoed President Herbert Hoover's sentiments regarding government intervention into a struggling economy, saying he "strongly disagree[s]" with "massive government intervention in the housing market." Bush said in his Saturday radio address: "The market now is in the process of correcting itself, and delaying that correction would only prolong the problem."

Beyond job losses, a decrease in retail sales, and the housing market crisis, a Center for American Progress (CAP) economic outlook shows that wages remain flat, family debt has hit record highs, fewer people have health insurance, and an increasing number are paying more for basics. In addition to housing woes,
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last month that the nation's credit crunch is also fueling the economy's downturn. Additionally, government spending is in the red. The Treasury Department announced last week that "the U.S. federal government ran a monthly budget deficit of $175.56 billion in February, a record for any month and 46% bigger than the deficit of $119.99 billion in February 2007." Last week, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) illustrated that the federal debt incurred during Bush's presidency has reached $7.7 trillion. The value of the dollar is also in free fall, plunging below the 100 yen level last week for the first time in 12 years and "hitting a new low against the euro" today. Iraq war costs are reaching astronomical proportions, with projections ranging anywhere from $10-12 billion per month. The war has also helped oil prices skyrocket -- prices per barrel have recently reached record highs. Naturally, Bush has passed the buck. When asked during a recent interview about the rising oil prices, Bush deferred to "experts," saying: "I’m just a simple president."

BUSH'S QUICK AND EASY FIX: Regarding the housing and credit crises, the federal government has turned to a quick fix. "Hoping to avoid a systemic meltdown in financial markets," the Federal Reserve announced last night that it approved a $30 billion credit line to help JPMorgan Chase acquire one of the largest firms on Wall Street, Bear Stearns Cos., "which had been teetering near collapse because of its deepening losses in the mortgage market." The fire sale cost JPMorgan $2 per share, or "less than one-tenth the firm's market price" last Friday. The Fed coupled its "highly unusual maneuver" with a "new lending program [that] would make money available to the 20 large investment banks that serve as 'primary dealers' and trade Treasury securities directly with the Fed." However, experts are skeptical of the Fed's move, seeing that its recent plan to lend Wall Street $200 billion in exchange for mortgage-backed securities "failed to soothe investors and lenders, who are worried about the true value and default risk of many debt securities or are hoarding cash to meet their own needs."

PROGRESSIVE SOLUTIONS: Reacting to the Fed's announcement, President Clinton's former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said "emergency provision of loans is necessary but not sufficient." The current economic situation needs progressive solutions. Andrew Jakabovics, CAP's Associate Director of the Economic Mobility Program, recently noted that "too many U.S. homeowners facing foreclosure and too many of their neighbors potentially lining up behind them." CAP's Great American Dream Neighborhood Stabilization, or GARDNS proposal "would provide $4 billion to buy up real-estate owned by banks and put deserving families in those homes" which would "cope with the foreclosure crisis and all its cascading ramifications for world financial markets and the U.S. economy." Addressing the other root cause of the nation's poor economy -- the credit crisis -- another CAP plan calls for a a credit card safety rating system to "give consumers better information about their credit cards and thus help them make better decisions." As more Americans struggle with paying for their everyday expenses in the midst of an economic downturn, such a system would lead to a better understanding about the ways the access credit. This would not preclude Congress from mandating "a higher level of fairness in credit card terms."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Soft Shoe in Hard Times

BocaGuy: Maureen Dowd has finally returned to the Mo Dowd we loved. As Dowd said in response to Bush's analogy about driving a car through a rough patch - Dude, you’re already in the ditch.

Maureen Dowd
Op-Ed Columnist
The New York Times
March 16, 2008

Everyone here is flummoxed about why the president is in such a fine mood.

The dollar’s crumpling, the recession’s thundering, the Dow’s bungee-jumping and the world’s disapproving, yet George Bush has turned into Gene Kelly, tap dancing and singing in a one-man review called “The Most Happy Fella.”

“I’m coming to you as an optimistic fellow,” he told the Economic Club of New York on Friday. His manner — chortling and joshing — was in odd juxtaposition to the Fed’s bailing out the imploding Bear Stearns and his own acknowledgment that “our economy obviously is going through a tough time,” that gas prices are spiking, and that folks “are concerned about making their bills.”

He began by laughingly calling the latest news on the economic meltdown “a interesting moment” and ended by saying that “our energy policy has not been very wise” and that there was “no quick fix” on gasp-inducing gas prices. ... (
more )

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Iraq Veterans Against the War Conduct and Cover Their "Winter Soldier" Investigation

"No longer will public debate on the Global War on Terror be framed solely by politicians and pundits."

John Stauber
PR Watch
March 14, 2008

Kelly Dougherty, the former sergeant who is the executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), announced the start today of the Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan investigation into the United States' conduct of its wars, featuring testimony of IVAW soldiers.

Dougherty promised that "No longer will public debate on the Global War on Terror be framed solely by politicians and pundits. IVAW will use the ongoing Winter Soldier project to spread awareness of G.I. resistance among veterans and active duty troops and build strategic alliances ... to broaden and strengthen our strategy to end the Iraq occupation." The Winter Soldiers at IVAW are not relying on the mainstream media which is good because so far major news media have ignored the event.

"Every minute of testimony will be broadcast live and will be available to watch in an online on-demand library," said Dougherty. The pro-war lobby, including Eagles Up, the Gathering of Eagles, Move America Forward, Free Republic and commentator Michelle Malkin, are condemning and protesting IVAW's Winter Soldier hearings.

The major Democratic Party-aligned peace groups with multi-million dollar budgets, such as MoveOn and Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, like the mainstream news media, have also ignored the Winter Soldier event.

© 2008 Independent Media Institute

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Time has come for him to go

BocaGuy: The time has come for Elliot Spitzer to resign. He committed a crime and by his own words needs to go. As Attorney General he did some great things for the Mom and Pop's investors. The high water mark of his career was his inauguration for Governor and it has been all down hill from there.

After Spitzer goes we should take a look at what the Justice Department was after. Did they think he was robbing the State or was it politically motivated? I wish they would show as much zeal investigate the Republicans.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Confronting the Kitchen Sink

BocaGuy: I thought that "Elect me, or something terrible will happen to you!" was President Bush's line not Hillary Clinton's.

Bob Herbert
Op-Ed Columnist
The New York Times
March 8, 2008

The high anxiety in the Obama circles has thrown the campaign off its game.

Samantha Power, one of Senator Barack Obama’s senior foreign policy advisers, had to quit Friday after she lost her cool in an interview with a Scottish newspaper and called Senator Hillary Clinton a “monster.”

The campaign apologized for the flap. But Mr. Obama himself seems unsure of how to respond to the trash-and-thrash tactics that helped Senator Clinton defeat him in Ohio and Texas this week.

The anger that caused Ms. Power to blurt out the monster comment is widespread inside the Obama camp. But Senator Obama, for a variety of reasons — some of them self-imposed — is sharply constrained in the way that he can respond to provocations.

And if there is one thing the Clinton crowd knows how to do, it’s provoke.

On Thursday, Senator Clinton’s spokesman, Howard Wolfson, likened Senator Obama to Ken Starr, the independent prosecutor who hounded the Clintons in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Why the Clinton forces would want to inject that poisonous bit of business into the campaign is a mystery.

But there was Mr. Wolfson on Thursday, in response to a call from the Obama campaign for Mrs. Clinton to release her tax returns, asserting: “I, for one, do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is the way to win a Democratic primary election for president.”

More serious was Senator Clinton’s assertion that she was qualified to be commander in chief, and that John McCain had also “certainly” crossed that “threshold,” but that the jury was still out on Mr. Obama. ... (
more )

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Friday, March 7, 2008

As Goes Vermont, So Goes the Nation?

Vermonters air their frustration with the U.S. quagmire in Iraq.

Ellen Goodman
King Features Syndicate
March 6, 2008

While the Iraq war is off the front pages, and Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama embark on what may well be a scorched-earth primary battle against each other, let's keep our eye on where the real scorched earth lies: who profits and who dies.

Clinton proclaimed in her victory speech in Ohio on March 4, after winning three of the four primary contests that day, "as goes Ohio, so goes the nation." She should take note, however, of how goes Vermont. That state might be a better bellwether, especially concerning the U.S. quagmire in Iraq.

While no one was surprised that Obama beat Clinton in the Vermont primary by a landslide, several details of the Vermont vote bear mention. Vermont's electoral system is based on the town meeting, a storied exercise in direct democracy. In the Vermont town meeting, local issues and ordinances are hashed out in an open forum, with all townspeople who want to speak given time. This is arguably the closest we come in the United States to real democracy. Part of why this is possible is the rural nature of Vermont, which Vermonters prize and protect.

In Brattleboro, the townspeople decided to arrest President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, should they visit. (This may be a moot point, as Vermont is the one state out of 50 that George W. Bush has not visited while president.) The question before the people of Brattleboro read: "Shall the Selectboard instruct the Town Attorney to draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution, and publish said indictments for consideration by other authorities, and shall it be the law of the town of Brattleboro that the Brattleboro Police, pursuant to the above-mentioned indictments, arrest and detain George Bush and Richard Cheney in Brattleboro if they are not duly impeached, and prosecute or extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them?" ... ( more )

© 2008 Independent Media Institute

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Should Florida and Michigan vote again?

BocaGuy: So they want to have a "do over" ?

Joan Walsh
March 5, 2008

The talking heads on MSNBC and CNN had a mind-meld Tuesday night: Hillary Clinton threw "the kitchen sink" at Barack Obama, and her negativity paid off big time. She won Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island, by large margins in two of three states, while losing Vermont. That sets up what they all pretend is a nightmare, but it's really a hot media fantasy: Mutant Superdelegates Pick Nominee!

Cable television ratings aside, let's all hope it doesn't go there.

First of all, let's take the stories apart. After 11 losses in a row, Clinton won three impressive victories in big, diverse states. The "kitchen sink strategy" analysis is silly. The Nevada and South Carolina races were arguably nastier. Yet over and over Tuesday night, the talking heads lumped together a supposedly toxic trifecta of NAFTA, Rezko and "the 3 a.m. ad" as having carried the day for a newly nasty Clinton. But in fact, only the 3 a.m. ad -- you saw it, the White House Terror Phone ringing when your adorable kids are asleep -- was Clinton's debatable creation. The NAFTA gaffe was entirely the Obama camp's doing, when they failed to figure out what economics guru Austin Goolsbee told the Canadians, and when. And Clinton didn't decree that the trial of Tony Rezko would begin March 3. On the other hand, Obama is still ahead in delegates, he's still the likely nominee, and while he's had a bad week, he's run a great campaign until now. The notion that he has to panic or suddenly change course seems silly.

Still, as much as I've tried to swat away the specter of superdelegates deciding the convention, because I've believed ultimately one candidate, probably Obama, would get a decisive voter and delegate majority, I have to admit it's looming as a larger worry. It will be extremely hard for Clinton to close Obama's lead in pledged delegates, but it will also be hard for Obama to win the number of delegates he needs to decisively win without superdelegates. Lately I find myself wondering: Why aren't more powerful Democrats in both the Obama and Clinton camps lobbying for a revote in Florida and Michigan? Is it simply about money? Sure, it would be expensive, but both candidates are raising money phenomenally. ... ( more )
Copyright ©2008 Salon Media Group, Inc.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

McCain Channels His Inner Hillary

BocaGuy: McCain is such a "curmudgeon". The only thing he has is a plan for doom and gloom.

Frank Rich
Op-Ed Columnist
The New York Times
March 2, 2008

BEFORE they were sidetracked into a new war against The New York Times, the Rush Limbaugh posse had it right about John McCain. He is a double agent. Some Democrats do admire and like him. So does Jon Stewart, and so do many liberal editorial boards and card-carrying hacks in the mainstream American press. So, in fact, do many at The Times, including myself. As long as I don’t look too hard at the fine print.

You’ve got to love a guy who said a few years ago that he regretted likening Mr. Limbaugh to “a circus clown” because of all the complaints from circus clowns insulted by the comparison. “I would like to extend my apologies to Bozo, Chuckles and Krusty,” Senator McCain told a rather startled Neil Cavuto of Fox News.

What’s more, Ann Coulter and Tom DeLay aren’t entirely wrong when they bluster that a vote for Mr. McCain amounts to a vote for Hillary Clinton (or, for that matter, Barack Obama). The Arizona senator’s otherwise conservative record is closer to the Democrats on immigration, campaign-finance reform, stem-cell research, global warming, oil drilling in Alaska, waterboarding, Gitmo and, until a recent flip-flop, the Bush tax cuts. In The New Republic, Jonathan Chait concluded that Mr. McCain’s Senate votes made him “the most effective advocate of the Democratic agenda in Washington” during the first Bush term.

All of which should make Democrats more nervous than the clowns of the hard right. Might Mr. McCain so blur distinctions that he could grab enough independents to triumph? He won even among antiwar and anti-Bush voters in New Hampshire. A Mason-Dixon poll last week found Mr. McCain beating either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton in must-win Florida. ... (
more )

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company