This morning in Manhattan, Sen. Barack Obama had a 40- minute breakfast meeting with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The meeting has fueled speculation that either Bloomberg is looking for someone to endorse or Obama is looking for a billionaire to buy him breakfast.
Friday, November 30, 2007
This morning in Manhattan, Sen. Barack Obama had a 40- minute breakfast meeting with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The meeting has fueled speculation that either Bloomberg is looking for someone to endorse or Obama is looking for a billionaire to buy him breakfast.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
In “Post Game Spin” after the last democratic debate, Goose discussed his disappointments with the way the debate was organized and moderated. My initial thoughts from tonight’s Republican debate are similarly critical. I like the idea of letting “the people” ask the presidential candidates questions but I do not think that allowing YouTube videos in from across the country is the best way to do it. The opening clips of the ridiculous questions set a strange feel for a debate that is discussing such serious and difficult issues. Similarly, why would CNN choose to follow the bloopers with a sophomoric and misplaced song about the candidates? If I saw that song on YouTube, I would have stopped watching after two verses and I did not enjoy having to sit through it at this debate. Before moving on to more substantive matters, I think that the questions asked to the candidates should be done in a respectful manner. The debate is a relatively serious and important venue to learn about the candidates that could be running our country. Some of the questions came from individuals wearing backwards hats and sunglasses, an Uncle Sam cartoon, and an individual eating corn and slurring his words. It also seemed like CNN did not do their homework and review the candidates’ videos before they were aired. Anderson Cooper had to improvise after Thompson’s 30 second video and, rather than go to commercial as he’d planned, he just asked Thompson “What’s up with that?” It just did not seem like the tone of the debate was appropriate or that CNN had planned the debate carefully.
One thing that immediately caught my attention was the focus on Hillary Clinton in the 30 second candidate’s ads. Multiple candidates (Giuliani, McCain and others) focused their ads on the differences between them and Hillary and how they could beat Hillary. McCain’s tagline at the end of his ad was “The Conservative that will beat Hillary.” Last I checked, Obama is gaining a lot of ground on Hillary in
The discussion of gun control seemed like an NRA pep rally. The candidates proudly talked about their personal gun collections and when Giuliani suggested putting reasonable government restrictions (like a written exam) on access to guns, he was met by Boos. I thought that this section of the debate did not add much to our knowledge of the candidates’ status on this issue.
With respect to the candidates’ performances, I was impressed by Mike Huckabee. First, I thought it was hilarious that the first person they showed in the audience was Chuck Norris (who endorsed Huckabee) and then, during the first question to Giuliani, they showed him again in the audience. What I liked about Huckabee’s performance was that he respected the time limits and answered the questions. Like Joe Biden at the democratic debates, Huckabee kept his answers short and answered the questions presented to him. I could not say the same thing about Fred Thompson who seemed to sidestep most questions. For example, Thompson could not choose 3 federal programs he would cut but rather, said he would cut 100 programs and he did not specify the top programs he would focus on.
I thought that Giuliani sounded like a broken record throughout a lot of the debate. Joe Biden once said that Giuliani can only say “a noun, a verb and 9/11” in every sentence he speaks. Tonight, he seemed obsessed with how dangerous NY was before he was elected mayor and the percentages of crimes that went down while he was mayor.
I thought that Mitt Romney was one of the more impressive candidates. I thought he did an excellent job of replying to Giuliani’s attack about a “
The weekly feature, Tuesday Morning Quarterback, on espn.com, asks the question: If academics mattered, who would play for the national championship?
This might seem purely rhetorical fare, but the authors have provided an answer courtesy of Lindsey Luebchow, a policy analyst of the New America Foundation and a contributor to Higher Ed Watch. Ms. Luebchow devised an equation to provide an answer, and crown a champion of the A/BCS (Academic Bowl Championship Series).
The A/BCS formula starts with the football team's four-class average federal graduation rate, which includes all football players who entered college between 1997 and 2000 and graduated within six years. Football programs then earn or lose points based on three criteria. First, the gap between the graduation rate of the team and the overall school. Second, the gap between the black-white graduation rate disparity on the team and at the overall school. Third, the team's Academic Progress Rate, a measure developed by the NCAA that evaluates how many student-athletes are advancing toward a degree.The winner among the nation's top 25 college football teams? Well, it wasn't even close, and, as you can probably guess by the simple fact that I am writing this post, my very own Boston College Eagles came out on top with a score of 127.8.
Here are how the BCS bowls would shake out if academics were taken into account:
Allstate BCS Championship Game:So BC, which routinely graduates between 98-100% of its footballers, had a score of close to 130, while no other school cracked 100.
Boston College (127.80) vs. Cincinnati (97.25)
Rose Bowl Presented by Citi:
Auburn (73.15) vs. Boise State (68.90)
FedEx Orange Bowl:
Virginia (60.45) vs. Virginia Tech (60.15)
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl:
Clemson (59.35) vs. USC (51.65)
Allstate Sugar Bowl:
West Virginia (47.85) vs. Arizona State (46.35)
Exiled to the bottom of the A/BCS and the pre-New-Year's bowls named after lawn equipment and mufflers:
21. LSU (29.95)
22. Ohio State (28.55)
23. Oregon (8.35)
24. Texas (7.85)
25. Hawaii (-2.35)
BC is currently ranked #11 in the BCS, and takes on Virginia Tech (60.15) for its conference championship on Saturday.
In today's opinion section of the Wall Street Journal John Fund takes Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to task for "holding up a $53 billion appropriations bill funding the FBI, NASA and Justice Department solely to block an attached amendment, passed by both the Senate and House, that protects the [Salvation Army] and other employers from federal lawsuits over their English-only policies."
The assimilation argument is on.
Fund points out that the assimilation was the policy of the US government, even as immigrants poured over the boarder in the early 1900s.
The U.S. used to welcome immigrants while at the same time encouraging assimilation. Since 1906, for example, new citizens have had to show "the ability to read, write and speak ordinary English."Fund points out that English-only policies are still very popular (77% in a new poll support the right of employers to have English- only policies), but says that "hardball politics practiced by ethnic grievance lobbies is driving assimilation into the dustbin of history."
This showdown comes as a result of a lawsuit filed by the EEOC on behalf of two Salvation Army employees of a thrift store in Massachusetts. The employees were given one year to adjust to the company's English- only workplace environment, and were fired after they did not comply.
We'll see how far Pelosi is willing to take this battle, but judging by the numbers it could be a winning cause for Republicans.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
In today's Chicago Sun Times, civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, a formidable presidential candidate in 1984 and '88 wrote an op-ed about the failure of Democrats to speak to the plight of Black America.
Jackson points out that blacks provided the margin of victory for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in key battle ground states. He asks: Can Democrats get the votes they need by simply not being Republicans?
In a campaign with two minorities at the top of national polls, including perhaps the most "viable" African American candidate ever, Jackson singles out a white man as speaking the best to the tough issues facing Black America.
Yet the Democratic candidates -- with the exception of John Edwards, who opened his campaign in New Orleans' Ninth Ward and has made addressing poverty central to his campaign -- have virtually ignored the plight of African Americans in this country.
Wow. Think that caught the attention of Barack Obama's campaign? Hillary Clinton, the wife of "America's first Black president," is stung by the assessment, too, but her campaign probably likes it because it makes Obama look worse, especially with Oprah getting ready to hit his campaign trail.
All in all, though, it's hard to argue with Jackson's points. It's not an unique sentiment. Obama's numbers among African American voters have been less than spectacular, prompting his wife to assure that Black America will "wake up and get it" when it comes to supporting her husband.
Well, it looks like Jackson is sleeping through Obama's campaign thus far. And that, in his view, Democratic candidates are sleeping through a tremendous opportunity with Black voters. Well, almost all of them anyway.
The New York Times has an interesting profile of NY Governor Elliot Spitzer and his "rough" first year in office. My feelings on the issue are well-trod, so check this out for yourself.
The most interesting part is how Spitzer is trying to reshape his governing style, and essentially his personality. He's gone from focusing on the no-holds-barred style of a Roosevelt or Al Smith, to the more sticks and carrots approach of LBJ.
“I’m not naturally suited to this job, perhaps,” Mr. Spitzer said in the interview. “But maybe, at this point in time, we need someone who is not naturally suited to it to get done the transformative things that the public wants done.”
President George W. Bush welcomed the American winners of the 2007 Nobel Prizes at the White House, yesterday. Among them was former Vice President Al Gore, who split the peace prize for his work on global warming. The two former rivals met privately in the Oval Office before the rest of the delegation arrived. For Gore it was his first time in the Oval Office since he left the Vice Presidency in 2000.
When a White House reporter asked Gore if he missed the White House, Gore responded, "When you leave this beat, I'll ask you the same question."
Gore won the popular vote over President Bush, but lost the electoral college by 537 votes in Florida after the Supreme Court stopped the recounts there.
In msnbc.com's "First Read" segment today, there is a report about former President Bill Clinton and talk show queen, Oprah Winfrey, and how they'll be stumping for Senators Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama, respectively. The two will be in Iowa today doing their best to convince voters to support their candidate, and each bring a certain measure of star power doused with credibility. Clinton, a former Commander-in-Chief, can communicate like no other pol can, and not reek of hackery like the rest of them. Oprah reaches millions of women daily with her syndicated show, and has a well-round track record of endorsing products people believe she genuinely feels positive towards.
Monday, November 26, 2007
“It's [time to] take the mask off and take a look at what kind of governor was he... He throws stones at people. And then on that issue he usually has a worse record than whoever he’s throwing stones at... I think there’s a difference between a guy who gets results, real results, that were applauded nationwide and somebody who had a mixed record at best as governor.”
- Rudy Giuliani in his most pointed attack on rival Mitt Romney. The gloves are off, and it seems that Giuliani is ready to try and take a chunk out of Mitt's big lead in New Hampshire.
This is a rhetorical shift for Rudy, who has been saving this kind of language for Hillary Clinton, in an effort to portray himself as the presumptive nominee. So the fact that Rudy is going after Romney now is probably a good sign for Mitt. Now he just has to respond. So far, the Romney campaign called the comments "nasty."
This week, Israeli, Arab and American leaders and diplomats meet in Annapolis, MD to try and hammer out a Middle East peace deal that all sides (and this is this blogger's hope) look to have lasting, positive impacts. Bush's two-state plan will be discussed, as well as several of the classic points that have always made their way onto the agenda of these American-brokered negotiations. From border redrawings to refugees to national identity recognition, all that will be discussed is vital in and of itself to Israelis and Palestinians, and each issue impacts the greater Middle East in uniquely profound ways.
Msnbc.com reports of President George W. Bush's optimism about the talks, this following his meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. This president's optimism, it should be noted, is as dependable to go on as Iago's advice to Othello. The outline of what is to be discussed has yet to be agreed upon, Syria has, at the eleventh hour, decided to join the negotiations and they haven't agreed on the agenda, and representatives from Hamas were not invited, despite the fact that they control the Gaza Strip, home to over one million Palestinians. Further undermining Mr. Bush's optimism (or it should, at least) is the fact that Iraq's democratic project has yet to yield any political results since the "Surge", and the diplomatic showdown with Iran leaves open questions to Tehran's military support of Hezbollah and Hamas. Nevertheless, Mr. Bush is positive he can work something out, and in the end, possibly steal the Nobel Peace Prize President Clinton lost due to his failure to bang out a pragmatic agreement.
Of course, a pragmatic agreement should be the goal, but it never seems to be the aim of these summits. What's going on between Hamas in Gaza and Western Israel is nothing short of war, just as that between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is nothing short of civil war. Yet, Hamas is absent from the negotiations, despite being democratically elected in a Western-sponsored election. Many will say consequences follow democratic elections (we should know), and that the Palestinians must deal with the consequences of electing Hamas. Those same critics always fail to note the precarious position the West and Israel placed Palestinians in, resulting in these two choices: a corrupt incumbency that's done little to improve living standards, or a militant organization at constant war with the obvious aggressor, Israel (obvious to Palestinians, of course). There's no excusing Hamas shelling western Israeli towns and suicide bomb runs, and Israel must retaliate beyond accordingly. But to negotiate sans your enemy does more than further antagonizes him; it makes him an entrenched obstacle to any implementation of policies agreed upon by "all" sides.
Msnbc.com also has a piece highlighting the pessimism among Palestinians and Israelis, those living under the current system, and who will live under any agreeable condition. They've been here before, as have we all, watching America take the lead in something no other Middle Eastern state seems capable of handling, if indeed they had the stomach to. It's a process led by history, and that's always the first mistake. Rarely, if ever, has there ever been an analyses of the status quo and future aspirations of the peoples involved. Whether it was Arafat unreasonably demanding the return of every Palestinian refugee or Barrack irresponsibly agreeing to partition Jerusalem, there's never been any lasting agreement because the most dominant player, and peace broker, doesn't live with the consequences of the decision. Instead of leading negotiations, the U.S. should propel Mid East leaders to assume such a role.
I hope I'm wrong, but I doubt much will change come next week. Israelis on the Golan Heights will continue to feel at home, but not at peace. A Hamas soldier will be ready for another day of battle with the Zionist occupiers. And a region rich in history, culture and bloodshed will continue to spiral away from a world advancing and modernizing.
Not sure if you heard, but former White House press secretary Scott McClellan has a new book coming out in which he says he was given false information, which he unwittingly passed on. McClellan blames 5 top White House officials, including the president and vice president, for allowing him to brief the press using lies.
During the CIA leak investigation, McClellan said that White House officials, including Karl Rove, were not involved in the outing of covert agent Valerie Plame. They were.
The woman now in McClellan's old job, Dana Perino, said President Bush "has not and would not knowingly pass false information."
Thursday, November 22, 2007
If you needed any more proof that I don't know what I'm talking about, NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg has hired a foreign policy expert, who is briefing him on international affairs. The expert, Nancy Soderberg, was US Ambassador to the UN, a Clinton foreign policy adviser, and has been described as "Bloomberg's Condi."
This is the strongest indication that he'll run for president next year.
I've already flip flopped on this issue, so I'll stay quiet on it
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
For the first time in 70 years, the US Supreme Court will rule on the 2nd Amendment, it was announced yesterday. The justices will hear a case on Washington DC's 31 year old ban of handguns in private residences.
A wealthy libertarian lawyer recruited a plaintiff and financed the suit, which was successful in the DC court of appeals. The plaintiff is a security guard who carries a gun at work, and wants to keep it at home for protection. Under DC law, he is unable to do so.
At issue is whether the Second Amendment, quoted above, grants an individual right to arm, or if that right is tied to the formation of a militia. To me, the word militia is in the same sentence, so...
The court has shifted conservative over the past 7 years, so I would expect the DC law to be struck down.
Also of note, this will spark the gun- control debate in the presidential race, and it will be interesting to see how Rudy Giuliani handles it. Giuliani was a staunch gun control advocate as NYC mayor, but has distinguished that stance (rightly so, I think) from hunter's rights, and gun control in less dangerous situations.
However, this is Washington, DC we're talking about. One of America's most dangerous and crime- ridden cities. If Giuliani is consistent (honest, really) he'd probably be in favor of DC's restrictive law.
This is going to be interesting.
Monday, November 19, 2007
In a certain blow to the Rudy Giuliani campaign, Former NJ Governor and 9/11 Commission co-chair Tom Kean will endorse John McCain for president today in Boston.
Giuliani has formed his campaign based in large part on his leadership in New York City after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He was originally a member of the 9/11 commission but was removed for poor attendance.
In rebuttal, the Giuliani campaign released a statement of endorsement from New Jersey state senator (and former Senate candidate) Tom Kean Jr., who is, as you might have guessed, Tom Sr.'s son.
“Rudy Giuliani is the proven leader New Jerseyans want as our next President,'’ the younger Kean wrote. “We have witnessed his leadership firsthand and know he will win New Jersey in both the primary and general elections.”In related news, the group 9/11 Firefighters & Families will be holding a town hall at Dartmouth College. According to their press release:
“9/11 Firefighters & Families are deeply offended at how Rudolph Giuliani has exploited the 9/11 terrorist attack to weave a false myth that he is the only person with the credentials and experience to lead the nation as our next president. They plan to set the record straight.”If Giuliani gets the nom, expect big things from that group.
Meanwhile, this is a quiet victory for McCain, whose campaign continues to gain new life.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
As I mentioned last month, Chuck Norris endorsed Mike Huckabee for president. Huckabee is not hesitating to take advantage of that star power. Below is his first television spot, and it's Chuck approved.
Friday, November 16, 2007
In a recent sociological study done in New York, a Columbia economics professor found that when choosing a potential spouse, men were often threatened by successful women. Men preferred to date successful women to a point, but on the whole, they did not usually choose a suitor that had a higher salary than they did. In contrast, women always preferred the more successful man.
I don't know exactly what to make of this. Except, perhaps men are just the more jealous sex of the two. Or maybe men still prefer to be the breadwinner and leave the women home to take care of the children. Either way, the point of the article was that Hillary Clinton might have a better chance of winning the primary and eventually the presidency if men weren't threatened by successful go-getter ladies.
I am interested to hear your reaction to this article. It seems like a plausible, yet surprising result to me.
The Wall Street Journal has an excellent piece today on the shifting voting patterns of the wealthy. The Journal traveled to traditional- Republican- turned- swing state, Colorado, and spoke with people who have altered their allegiance in favor of Democrats.
Take James Kelly, an executive at the $7B firm Vistar, who supports Barack Obama. For all the Democrats' talk about rolling back the Bush tax cuts on top wage earners, Mr. Kelly still writes big checks to Democrats.
From the article:
"The Democratic Party stands more for creating equal opportunity," says Mr. Kelley. He says the party "speaks more to me on issues of the environment, and even more to me on national security," while he criticizes Republican stands on "so-called moral issues" such as gay marriage.It's a pattern that has developed nationally over the last four years. In 2004, voters making at least six-figures favored President Bush 58% to 41% over Democrat John Kerry. During last year's Congressional races the margin was cut to 51% to 47%. According to a new Wall Street Journal- NBC News poll, "Americans earning more than $100,000 want Democrats to win the White House next year by 48% to 41%, and want Democrats to win control of Congress by 45% to 42%."
As for proposals by Democratic congressional leaders and presidential contenders to raise taxes on high earners, Mr. Kelley says: "The pocketbook, the taxes, that's issue 11. And the balance has swayed so far in [favor of] the 10 other things."
And don't think that shift hasn't already been felt in the '08 fund-raising race, where the top 5 Dems have raised $242M to their conservative counterparts' $167M.
In my opinion, the shift seems to be the product of the deep division the Republican party has dealt with post- Reagan, between social and fiscal conservatives. The uneasy truce between the two appears to have faded, and we now see the fallout. The social conservatives are having a hard time backing a candidate like Rudy Giuliani, and the fiscal conservatives are so turned off by the party's recent priorities that they've defected.
The old adage says that people will always vote their pocketbooks, but it seems that, like much of the traditional wisdom in this election cycle, has undergone a profound change.
After sitting down in front of my set for a few hours tonight hoping to watch a spirited debate, a few thoughts come to mind and I wonder if anyone out there shares them. Before I begin I would preface my comments by saying to this point I was an Edwards backer, but his performance of late has left me wondering about his ability to turn his campaign around so I now consider myself to have a "soft verbal" commitment to his campaign.
I was really looking forward to this debate. After the last MSNBC debate i thought the field had gotten closer and the media was doing a better job of refraining from a Clinton love fest and actually analyzing the candidates and their performance. I will not speculate here about who won the debate, I think both Clinton and Obama had good showings, and even "my boy" Edwards said some important things although he didnt get much facetime. But I will talk about who lost this debate. CNN and Wolf Blitzer. How AWFUL was their perfromance tonight? Oh let me count the ways.
1) Rules are ok, they are the reason debates tend to be organized and the moderato's bias is minimized. How many times did I count Wolf (I love Hillary ) Blitzer cut off Edwards or Obama when they were criticizing Clinton? Just about every single time. Some conspiracy theorists out there argued that he was trying to break up anti-Hillary sound bites. I just think he realized there was a time limit when he was hearing things he didnt like. Further, every time he addressed Hillary he began the sentence by saying "Hillary you have beeen criticized for...". First off, stop making her the victim, secondly this is a debate, ask her about issues, not about how she feels about being beat up on. I agreed with Hillary tonite when she said "They arent attacking me because I am a woman, they are attacking because I am in the lead". So lets move on and discuss issues.
2) CNN, nice touch with the undecided voter pool in the front, but next time actually let them participate instead of giving them questions to read for Wolf. Seriously though, those people were struggling to pronounce the words in the questions they were asking. Let them ask the questions they want, I know they may not sound good or capture the answer you would like the candidates to address, but wasn't that segment really suppossed to be about them? Maybe not. Also, as a laws student I appreciated the question about the Supreme Court Justices, but Wolf Blitzer did the same thing the abortion groups (either pro or con) have done for the last 30 years (if not more). He Hijacked the position of Supreme Court Justice and boiled it down to 1 issue, abortion. Abortion is an important issue, but i am pretty sure the young lady asked about what would make up an ideal justice, not whether they were for or agaist abortion. The Permanent link between the two, the judiciary and abortion rights is tired. Call me a West Wing ideallist on this one, but will we ever consider jsutices on anything other than their thoughts on Roe v. Wade? Wolf even tried to ask the audience memeber whether she wanted the candidates to answer her questions or Wolf's, to which she answered her own, haha take that Wolfy.
3) And finally, because its bedtime more than because I am not still dissapointed by this debate, can we please get some post game analysist that did not work for the Clinton presidency. I know Bill was in office for a long time, but there have to be high profile Democrats out there that can do post game analysis who dont owe the Clintons for prior appointments (looking at you here Gergen and the Ragin' Cajun). The debate was defintiely the Hillary and Barack show, but their analysis that claims that Hillary took the boys to school is biased and flat wrong.
4) And really CNN, you ended on a question about diamonds or pearls? Ugh.
At this point some of you probably think I hate Hillary Clinton. I dont. I actually think she would be a great candidate and is probably our (read Democrats) best chance to win in November, but what I cant stand is the love fest. Be objective, isnt that what the press is suppossed to be about? I thought one of the most important moments of the debate was when Obama made the comment about the middle class not being 6% of the population. The crowd went crazy and Hillary looked stunned. But after a full hour of post game spin that moment wasnt mentioned once. (although i did take a brief bathroom break, but you get the point). MSNBC had done some of the same early on, but as the race got closer they got their act together. CNN let me down tonite and I wonder if anyone else out here noticed any of the same things?
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The Clinton campaign must have a top marketing firm working their ads, because this is pretty damn good.
Hillary pokes fun at herself and her husband, and gets a charming hand from the people of Iowa. Not bad.
This video is off, the sound doesn't start until about 10 seconds in. So check the link here to see a corrected version.
This morning, NBC News has a pretty cool metaphor for fans of college basketball and politics. As the Dems prepare to debate in Vegas, Domenico Montanaro draws similarities to the infamous UNLV teams of the early 90s.
LAS VEGAS, NV -- Thanks to Drudge, last month's debate in Philly, and Clinton's new position on drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants, tonight's Democratic showdown here at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas could be pretty interesting. Will Drudge's report of a Clinton camp warning to moderator Wolf Blitzer not to "pull a Russert" influence the debate? (Blitzer and CNN deny hearing from the campaign.) Will Clinton go on the offensive after playing defense at last month's debate? Did the New York senator -- by issuing a statement yesterday saying that, as president, she wouldn't support giving drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants -- open herself up to further charges that she evades tough questions? And given the UNLV venue, will Jerry Tarkanian or Larry Johnson be in attendance? Actually, that famous UNLV team could be a good metaphor. They seemed unbeatable until they met a more cerebral, though less talented, opponent. UNLV lost their undefeated season and the championship because they couldn't handle the pressure of a rare close game. Can Clinton handle the pressure now that she doesn't seem so inevitable?
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
NY Governor Elliot Spitzer has backed off his plan to issue drivers licenses to some of New York's 1,000,000 illegal immigrants. "You don't need a stethoscope to hear the pulse of New Yorkers on this issue." 75% of New Yorkers (and 55% of New York Democrats) oppose the plan.
This isn't good for Spitzer, because he takes a loss on an issue he led the way on nationally. It keeps the status quo of his stalled first term as governor.
It's also bad news for Hillary Clinton. Her double-talk during the last debate was on a question about Spitzer's plan (she was for it before she was against it). Clinton said she understood why Spitzer was doing it, and commended him for it, but wouldn't come out and support or denounce the plan. Now that Spitzer pulled it, the Clinton stuff will remain in the news and she looks bad for even halfway backing a plan that went nowhere.
As I've noted, I am a big fan of Spitzer. I worked for his campaign for governor and even met him. But he's had a rough go so far. That brings me to my point: Michael Bloomberg is on the cover of Newsweek this week, under the heading The Billion Dollar Wildcard, speculating about a Bloomberg '08 run for the White House. Like that's never been done before.
Anyway, I don't think Bloomberg will run for president, but I think he wants to be president. He's not going to win in 2008. You don't need two New York mayors running, and a third party isn't going to win, and he's too ambitious and pragmatic to run a wasted effort. So, in 2010, I think Bloomberg will run against Spitzer for governor, and see how the White House shakes out. That makes so much more sense from his point of view. He's the only Republican (once he converts back to the party) who has a shot to beat Spitzer.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
A Grinnell college student at the center of the Clinton question- plant controversy gave an interview to CNN about her experience. This is a must see...
The whole thing is pretty damn shady, and goes to the whole "anything to win" storyline that is really beginning to dog the Clinton campaign. It comes on the heels of her constant non-answers during the last Democratic debate, so the Hillary backlash is gaining some momentum. These are the first real missteps of her expertly run campaign. It will be interesting to see how she and her people handle them.
The upcoming debate in Vegas will be huge, so stay tuned...
This morning, famed New York Times columnist David Brooks (the Times' resident conservative) has an excellent profile of the "Last Great Man in the 2008 Presidential race." I'm not sure if Hillary Clinton was an option for this distinction, but somehow I have a feeling Brooks throws her in with the "un-great" masses.
To Brooks, and at least one political consultant he quotes, John McCain is the last "great man" standing.
When Brooks talks about being "great" he does so in the political scientist or sports writer sense. He's not endorsing McCain, any of his ideas or what he stands for. It's more of an objective label that certain people get from just being themselves. Ted Wiliams' swing, Willie Mays going back on a fly-ball. In McCain, Brooks points to his unflinching openness and unparalleled energy.
Telling the truth is a skill. Those who don’t do it habitually lose the ability, but McCain is well-practiced and has the capacity to face unpleasant truths. While other conservatives failed to see how corporations were insinuating themselves into their movement, McCain went after Boeing contracts. While others failed to see the rising tide of corruption around them, McCain led the charge against Jack Abramoff. While others ignored the spending binge, McCain was among the fiscal hawks.Even though McCain is no where near the media darling he was eight years ago, Brooks says that his principled stances on the Surge strategy (he was the first Republican to the party on that one), and immigration reform (again, an honest effort), show you the kind of man he is. As if he needed to prove himself after living as a POW for six years.
Monday, November 12, 2007
"There are a lot of Americans (who say), 'Why didn't you go get him?' Well, I'm confident that losing men and women as a result of sniper fire inside of Baghdad would have turned the tide of public opinion very quickly."- Then- Texas Governor George W. Bush on Veteran's Day 1997, in a speech in which he praised his father's decision not to push into Iraq and destroy the Iraqi National Guard during the Persian Gulf War. Bush said that the decision avoided an ugly "guerrilla war."
Apparently, his father agreed with the assessment. Of his son's comments, former President George H.W. Bush said: "I think he got it right." He then referred to Vietnam: "... one guerrilla war in my lifetime was enough."
Writing for the Telegraph out of the UK, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (who holds the record for most British name ever) predicts the US is well on its way to reclaiming its status as the world's dominant economic superpower.
He notes that as our money is devalued, countries will begin to learn that globalization "cuts both ways," as jobs stream into the US (apparently, IT salaries in India are now up to $18/hr.-- I'll take that). To support his claim, Evans-Pritchard notes the last time the US floundered economically, it rebounded stronger than ever after a dollar devaluation (from 1988-1992).
The factor working most in America's favor?
At the end of the day, the US remains the only major power still producing babies a rate high enough to survive through the 21st century as a dynamic society.There are more details, anecdotes and evidence offered in the article, so it's worth the read. As a bonus, it has finally shed a little light on why I had to pay $15 for a burger this summer in London.
China's workforce will peak in 2015. The country will then tip over into the steepest demographic decline ever recorded. It will be old before it becomes rich, doomed to second-tier status.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
The air of invincibility that surrounded the Clinton campaign just weeks ago has taken a serious hit on the heels of her poor debate. Check out these numbers.
Clinton's New Hampshire lead, while still formidable, has shrunk nine points in one poll and 10 in another. According to the polls, her support has shifted to Obama, who picked up the 5 points she lost.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is on the rise. He now leads by 12 points in New Hampshire (32 to Giuliani's 20). As we've covered, Mitt's strategy rests with the early states, so this poll is great news for him. The former governor of Massachusetts cannot lose the New Hampshire primary, and it appears that he's exactly where he needs to be.
There are seven weeks until the Iowa primary.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
As I mentioned last month, Al Gore taped an episode of 30 Rock, and it aired tonight as part of NBC's "Green Week."
Gore had a pretty minor role, but that show is hilarious and I'm doing my part to keep it on the air. So, check it out online here for free. I'll post my favorite quote from the episode below, and feel free to post your own in the comment section. Or you can just send them to me during my weekly 30 Rock fan club chat on mindgrapes.net... ok that's not real, but if anyone wants to start it let me know.
(my future ex-wife)Liz Lemon: Jack you have to fire Greenzo!
Jack Donaghy (reading over focus group test results): Are you crazy? They love him in every demographic: colored people, broads, fairies, commies. Gosh, we gotta update these forms.
Yesterday, the President of the NY State Bar Association, Barry Kamins, sent a letter to the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, General Musharraf. The letter was designed as a plea to the good nature of the General (as if he had one) to stop beating and imprisoning lawyers within their borders and to restore a separate and independent judiciary. Kamins makes reference to both international law and Pakistani constitutional law in an attempt to quell the flagrant human rights violations that are currently taking place in Pakistan. Kamins suggests that Musharraf must reestablish constitutional order as a means of preserving democratic principles in that nation. This seems to be another failed attempt at a democratic republic in the Islamic third world. But it is evident that the concerned citizens of the United States, specifically some of its legal minds, continue to evaluate the progress made internationally regarding the rule of law. Unfortunately, this kind of peaceful protest will not have the slightest impact on General Musharraf's decisions on how to govern his country. But thanks for trying, Barry. Here is the link to the letter:
For the first time in his seven year presidency, the Senate overrode President Bush's veto today.
The president vetoed a Water bill that, according to the New York Times, "funds hundreds of Army Corps of Engineers projects, such as dams, sewage plants and beach restoration, that are important to local communities and their representatives. It also includes money for the hurricane-hit Gulf Coast and for Florida Everglades restoration efforts."
The president called the $23B bill too expensive, and "his supporters have noted that the Army Corps has a backlog of $58 billion worth of projects and an annual budget of about $2 billion to address them."
The Senate's 79-14 vote completed the veto the House started Tuesday with its 361-54 vote. This is the first override since November 1997.
So, now that this is in the history books, let's take a look at other "firsts" for President Bush and his Administration:
- December 28, 2000: President- elect Bush is in late- night meetings discussing his choices for his cabinet. First time working past 7pm.
- February 18, 2001: President Bush has to travel to Europe for a G8 summit, not realizing that German TV doesn't carry the cable network USA. First time missing WWE Monday Night Raw.
- January 14, 2003: While watching football, President Bush chokes on a pretzel and loses consciousness. First time almost dying from a snack food. (That one is true.)
- May 20, 2005: President Bush addresses the nation about the struggle in Iraq. First time the word "freedom" is used as a noun, verb, adjective and adverb in the same sentence ("Freedom-lovers love freedom, their freedom-filled country, and the free people working to freedomly freedom that country. It's hard work!")
- October 1, 2006: President Bush hands his wife, Laura, sugar when she was actually pointing to half-and-half, apologizes. First time admitting a mistake.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Borat Sagdiyev is back in the news. He recently conducted an email interview with news service Reuters to promote his new guidebook to "the glorious nation of Kazakhstan and the minor nation of U. S. and A."
Here's what Borat had to say:
Q: Which country to do you prefer -- Kazakhstan or the USA?
A: "I very much preferring Kazakhstan - it nicest place in the world! Please, you must look on my guidings book and then come visit. Bring your whole family and stay at Astana Funworld Resort - it have beautiful beaches, almost totally free of landmines and the sea is guarantee to have no jellyfish, shark, or any other marine life."
Q: Which people are smarter?
A: "Kazakh peoples is definite has more powerful brains. Government scientist, Dr. Yamak have prove that our glorious leader, Premier Nazarbamshev have IQ of 412 and a brain that extend into most of his chest - it no surprise that he have never fail in complete any jigsaw puzzle. Since 93 percent of Kazakh people is direct relate to him within 3 generations, rest of population also shares this great intellects."
Q: What advice do you have for people traveling around the United States?
A: "My book contains many useful informations for Kazakh peoples traveling to US and A - for example, best places to photograph ladies without their knowledge, location of Grand Canyons if you need place to dispose of a wife and location of Kazakh Embassy and where to go if you want to shoot a Redindians."
Q: When can people expect to see you in Kazakhstan again?
A: "I already in Kazakhstan, living very happilys with my new wife. This morning, I was awoke by my clock-radio (electronic LED), after which I remove my wife from her cage and she make me delicious breakfast of western cereal 'Frosties', which I have with delicious fresh milk from her chests. I then attach her to her plough and send her into the fields before returning to my bed until she come back at luchtimes to feed me again. Life is very nice for us."
Q: Who do you favor for President in the United States?
A: "I cannot believe that it possible a woman can become Premier of US and A - in Kazakhstan, we say that to give a woman power, is like to give a monkey a gun - very dangerous. We do not give monkeys guns any more in Kazakhstan ever since the Astana Zoo massacre of 2003 when Torkin the orang-utan shoot 17 schoolchildrens. I personal would like the basketball player, Barak Obamas to be Premier."
Today, Pat Robertson, a standard-bearer for the Evangelical Christian movement, endorsed Rudy Giuliani for president. This is huge for Rudy, who has courted social conservatives despite a pro-choice, pro-gay stance.
This hurts Mitt Romeny, who has tried to take the "real conservative" mantle, and Fred Thompson, who probably doesn't care.
In his endorsement, Robertson wrote:
It is my pleasure to announce my support for America’s Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, a proven leader who is not afraid of what lies ahead and who will cast a hopeful vision for all Americans. Rudy Giuliani took a city that was in decline and considered ungovernable and reduced its violent crime, revitalized its core, dramatically lowered its taxes, cut through a welter of bureaucratic regulations, and did so in the spirit of bipartisanship which is so urgently needed in Washington today.Interestingly, Robertson noted Giuliani's promise to appoint Supreme Court justices in the mold of John Roberts and Antonin Scalia.
Meanwhile, John McCain scored some points with social conservatives as well with the endorsement of Senate colleague and former Presidential candidate Sam Brownback.
What's odd is that in endorsing McCain, Brownback verbalized doubts about Giuliani's elect-ability, but elect-ability seems to have motivated Robertson to endorse Rudy.
The bottom line is that Christian conservatives are still split, but Rudy is now a viable option.
French President Nicholas Sarkozy jokes around with President Bush at a reception in Washington.
Sarko l'Americain (Sarko the American), as he's called in France, has made no secret of his admiration for the United States, particularly our work ethic and popular culture. He's vacationed in Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire (a la What About Bob?), jogged (an American act in itself) wearing an NYPD t-shirt, and threatened military action against Iran.
Somebody get this guy a Social Security Number!
While he has been critical of President Bush's lack of leadership on the environment and of our nearly 50 million uninsured, Sarkozy is regarded as the most pro-American French president in decades.
"I've come to Washington to bear a very simple, straightforward message. ... I wish to re-conquer the heart of America. I want to re-conquer the heart of America in a lasting fashion," he said.
The French president also paid tribute to American veterans who fought in World War II and ended by proclaiming "Long live Franco-American friendship."
I don’t deny getting most (ok, all) of my political information from late night TV. There’s nothing more infuriating to me than reaching the pinnacle of an article only to be told to find the remainder on page 26D. I mean who has time to navigate those unkempt, colorless pages when they’re falling out of place? Not to mention, that yucky black residue stains my alabaster fingers.
When watching the Colbert Report the other night, I found myself wondering, is he serious about running for President? Or is this a parody, a farce? Is he making a mockery of the American public? Or does he just like Doritos? Does Stephen Colbert truly want to be the leader of the Free World?
I pondered some more and asked myself, does Colbert have a shot at this? Could he actually win this “race”? I thought about the Robin Williams’ movie “Man of the Year” where the host of a late night political talk show becomes President. Would life imitate art? (Though, I don’t know if you can call a Williams’ movie art these days—long gone is Mork’s staggering genius).
Then I got to really thinking—brooding, if you will—are politicians just actors filling political roles and characters? They have speechwriters, campaign managers, even make-up and hair people; their lives parallel those of actors, as they are handed a script and directed accordingly.
(Act I; scene 2: Interview with Oprah; Act II; scene 4: New Hampshire Primaries; Act III, scene 7: The Convention; Act IV: scene 5: Election night; Act V; scene 3: Inauguration; Act V; scene 5: The First Couple’s first dance; fade to black. Fin.)
It’s no wonder actors find the metamorphosis to politics painless and almost seamless. After years of silver screen success, Ronald Reagan jettisoned himself into the Presidency. Sonny Bono found himself a seat in the House of Representatives. And Shirley Temple became a U.S diplomat. Even the former WWF wrestler Jesse Ventura governed Minnesota.
Currently, California harbors two of the most famous actor/ politicians of them all: Clint Eastwood (Mayor of Carmel) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (Governor). But my favorite is Law and Order star/ former U.S Senator Fred Thompson who is making a bid for 2008. I am a little concerned, however, that some Americans may mistake Senator Thompson for his character Arthur Branch. It’s easy to get to know Branch as the southern, ball- busting DA. But who is Thompson?
It seems that Americans naturally pigeonhole people. We check boxes to discern identities, ethnicity, and income. We don’t like flip-floppers. We want our candidates to fit a mold and stay there. We use political parties to draw imaginary lines while political figures have become simple caricatures.
This is easily seen in the common depiction of Bush as the Texas Cowboy. And those running have already been branded: Edwards is the pretty boy, Romney the rich kid, Hillary the (dare I say?) bitch, and Obama the token non-white guy. What is this? A Presidential race or The Breakfast Club?
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
In today's Boston Globe, Charlie Savage writes about how President Bush has found a legal trick to stack the US Commission on Civil Rights with conservatives who share his philosophy on justice, as it pertains to race. The commission, which is in its fiftieth year, is made up of eight members, and party representation must be equal between Republicans and Democrats, with the Congress appointing four and the President the next four. Independents can also serve on the commission.
That is where the injustice begins. There is no penalty for, say, a Republican member to switch her registration to Independent, as Commissioner Abigail Thernstrom did immediately following President George W. Bush's reelection. Of course, a change in party affiliation doesn't necessarily correspond with a change in philosophy. The article contends Mr. Bush was able to appoint more conservative members to the commission, thus negating any concerns the moderate and liberal members would have.
Mr. Savage explains how the Justice Department provided the White House with the legal reasoning for such a devious maneuver, tutoring then Senior Council Alberto Gonzales on why no court would overturn the practice.
Is any of this surprising, or even beyond this administration's capacity to exert control over what it deems is within its sphere of influence? The same administration that believes in torture, warrantless wiretapping, and the essential neutering of the other two federal government branches, sees civil rights to be something worth politicizing. They don't mind censoring reports that speak to the health effects of Global Warming, and they don't mind making sure that Black Americans have inadequate voting resources, as in Ohio, 2004.
It's no surprise then why the top Republican contenders skipped out on the Tavis Smiley debate in Baltimore earlier this fall, since they obviously won't provide suggestions on how they would rectify this adulterated commission. Like the old Palestinian adage, the conservatives never fail to miss an opportunity with respect to Black Americans.
"Our production will stop in the next couple of days because we will stop writing. The strike lasted five months the last time . . . this could be that long."
- Tina Fey writer, star and executive producer of 30 Rock to CNN yesterday on the picket line. If this strike interrupts my programs I am going to be pissed. Last night, late night programming went into unexpected reruns with Letterman, Leno, Conan, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Late Late Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live all repeating.
In a show of solidarity with his staff, Daily Show host Jon Stewart (a former TV writer), will pay the Daily Show and Colbert Report writing teams out of pocket for the next two weeks.
Barack Obama also weighed in on the strike: "I stand with the writers," Obama said in a statement. "I urge the producers to work with the writers so that everyone can get back to work."
So here's a shout out to Liz Lemon (my future ex-wife)... the letter Dennis gave her after she broke up with him, the perfect speech for a guy with a broken heart:
Dear Liz Lemon:
While other women have bigger boobs than you, no woman has as big a heart. When I saw you getting ready to go out and get nailed by a bunch of guys last night, I knew for sure it was over between us. And for the first time since the '86 World Series, I cried. I cried like a big dumb homo. And if it was up to me, we would be together forever. But there's a new thing called "women's liberation" which gives you women the right to choose and you have chosen to abort me, and that I must live with. So tonight when you arrive home, I will be gone.
I officially renounce my squatter's rights.
I'll always love you. Goodbye and good luck. I'll never forget you.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Yesterday, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning faced off on the football field. I'm a huge Manning guy, Brady, not so much. So while Tom may have prevailed on the gridiron yesterday, there's a more important playing field-- Saturday Night Live. I've posted their best SNL skits below, both are hilarious, and you can judge for yourself.
The Screen Writers of America West officially went on strike today in Los Angeles and here in New York. An industry-wide strike could mean that some of your favorite shows might air in the coming seasons with hacks. Who knows what to make of this, as it seems like a settlement is not close between parties involved. I just hope that the producers give them what they desire so that the new season of 24 can air on time and with the best writing team possible for my favorite show. I mean Jack Bauer can do a lot, but to ask him to write for the show as well might be pushing it a little.
US ally General Musharraf of Pakistan has cracked down on dissent. He is limiting the opposition party, and has pushed off parliamentary elections. This puts the US in a terrible position. We flat out need Pakistan to defeat Al Qaeda as they stream across the Afghan boarder, and Musharraf, while imperfect to be sure, has proven a relatively moderate voice. The Bush Administration has said it will continue to supply billions in aid, but has called on the general to abandon his military post (which he said he would) and hold free and open elections (seems unlikely).
Above, the police clash with lawyers, whom are the main dissenters in Pakistani society.
And I thought passing the bar was tough.
If you check the SAM's Links on the sidebar, you'll notice a new website posted. It comes courtesy of SAM blogger PTB, it's a site called Real Clear Politics. It's a great resource, with daily links to tons of interesting articles.
So check it out, and if something piques your interest, why not write about it on this site? (Probably because you're lazy that's why)
The New York Daily News has a front page story today about a Women's Museum that wasn't. In 2000, then- Governor George Pataki proposed a bit of a pet project: A 10 story world class museum in the heart of Battery Park, Manhattan to celebrate the struggle and achievement of women. His wife, Libby, chaired its development committee.
The proposal quickly gained approval, and an estimate of the museum's total costs was $146M, including $27.5M for artifacts, most of which was supposed to come from private donations.
However, seven years later, the proposed site is vacant, $3M of taxpayer money has been spent, and one artifact (a wagon used for women's suffrage rallies in New York City) was purchased. Despite money spent to drum up private donations, only $22,650 was ever raised. Read the article for the ridiculous things taxpayers bought (Flying board members in from around the country, giving them a daily stipend, putting them up at a fancy hotel... for nothing).
Yesterday, New York pulled the plug on the project. Governor Elliot Spitzer and Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced a new school will be built there instead.
According to the News the school is "desperately needed." So the public will see a benefit after all.
As for women's history- maybe the school should be named Susan B. Anthony High. She'd probably have liked that.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Barack Obama made a suprise cameo (is that redundant? I don't think so) on SNL last night. He showed up to Hillary Clinton's Halloween party wearing a Barack Obama mask.
The skit is actually pretty funny, with all the Democrats showing up in costume. My favorite part has to be Bill dressed as Mystery.
And by the way, Horatio Sanz playing Bill Richardson... who could have predicted that?
Saturday, November 3, 2007
A site called Glassbooth.com provides an excellent quiz to match you up with your ideal presidential candidate... this is awesome, so please check it out.
Actually, I conducted this exact study with my 8th grade social studies class to tell them whether their beliefs were more in line with Republicans or Democrats (I guess we should have known back then). First, you gauge how important the top issues of this election are for you. Then, you give your stance.
It's quick and painless, and by the end you know which candidate fits your beliefs best.
I was surprised by my results... but let's just say that by a score of 88% I ought to enjoy expensive haircuts, silk suits and massive punitive damages in tort claims.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Here is John Edwards' new ad that's running in Iowa. It plays up his working class roots, and his commitment to the middle and lower classes.
As his deputy campaign director said: "What this ad does is begin to build on the argument John made the other night that … right now we face the moral test of our generation."
Yesterday, I argued with a friend who said that Edwards is now so rich that he can't relate to the people he claims to protect. His haircuts cost hundreds, he lives in a gigantic mansion, and made millions as a trial lawyer. But he's the son of a North Carolina miner (I think) and the first in his family to go to college.
To me, his talk about "Two America's" is genuine, and comes hard won. Most importantly, he has the detailed proposals to back it up.
Mets 3B/ my hero David Wright was on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night to promote his "Do the Wright Thing" charity event. On it, he said he'd switch positions to accomodate Alex Rodriguez, talked about the Mets' collapse and listened to Jon Stewart compare A-Rod to Dick Cheney... check it out.