Me: Time to play America's fastest growing game: Good News/ Bad News! Our contestant this week is Hillary Clinton! Okay, Hill-dog, thanks for being here, are you ready to play?
HRC: Ready now, Chris, and ready on day one---
Me: (cutting her off) Sure you are! Here's how you play, first we give you a piece of good news and then you have to guess the bad news that follows. Got it?
HRC: Yes, I know this game well. I've spent my life, the last 35 years preparing for this momen---
Me: Right. Here's the good news: Your campaign announced yesterday that it raised $35 million in February alone, it's best month ever. Now, what's the bad news?
HRC: Well, the bad news, Chris, is that millions of Americans still can't afford decent health care and that we're shipping our job---
Me: Ohhhhh, sorry Hill-Clizzle. The bad news is that your opponent broke all fundraising records by taking in $50 million for his campaign. More bad news, he raised $7 the day after Super Tuesday alone, and has raised $87m (according to projections) so far this year. So thanks for playing, Hill-meister, you looked good for a while there, but in the end just couldn't get it done. But you won't go home empty handed, tell her her parting gift, Johnny...
Johnny: Don't worry, Hill-bag, you get four more years in the United States Senate!!!
HRC: (sobs quitely)
Friday, February 29, 2008
Me: Time to play America's fastest growing game: Good News/ Bad News! Our contestant this week is Hillary Clinton! Okay, Hill-dog, thanks for being here, are you ready to play?
Thursday, February 28, 2008
I'm headed home tomorrow morning for Spring Break, and won't be able to post as much over the next few days. So this puts a cap on the month of February, which has been easily the busiest in SAM's history for hits and posts.
A big thanks to everyone who supports the site by reading, posting and/ or commenting. Please, if you like SAM Online, tell your friends and spread the word. And if you'd like to become a SAM blogger, just email firstname.lastname@example.org. Hopefully some of the other bloggers will pick up the slack for the next week.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The first major conflict of the 20th Century began in the Balkans, and the final major conflict of said century was - surprise - in the Balkans. Whether it's the Black Hand's assassination of a Hapsburg son, or the ethnic cleansing of minorities, this rich, culturally diverse region of Europe has seen more than its share of strife. This all makes the recent Declaration of Independence of Kosovo all the more remarkable in that it was without a single shot fired or blood shed. Despite the 120,000-plus Serbs living in Kosovo who fiercely oppose the move, and the warnings of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kosovo has been backed by the West without having to earn it with any major military victory.
Of course, this being the Balkans, how long can this serenity last? Just last week, angry Serbs, in the Serbian capital of Belgrade, nearly burned down the U.S. Embassy, a la Iran, 1979. And who knows just how far President Putin is willing to take his objection over Kosovo's independence, despite the end of his term as President. The NATO campaigns of the 1990s against Serbia led to this particular moment, and Russia may find it hard to forget that the West took military action in what it considers its sphere of influence over Russia's own reservations.
Will Kosovo's independence be short lived? That answer depends largely on how fervently the European Union and the United States defends it. So far, the signs are encouraging. According to the Financial Times, the EU special envoy has taken a firm stance against further partitioning along ethnic lines. This is due in part to the large Serbian minority in Kosovo that is against the independent move. This decision by the envoy helps further entrench Kosovo's position by getting the institutions to look past superficial divisions like race, religion and ethnicity. Though those characteristics are real and people live by them daily, a democracy cannot stand long when ideas are opposed (or proposed) based largely on those measurements.
Also, this is an important test for the next President of the U.S., be it Senators Obama, McCain or Clinton. For the last six decades, each President has been able to breathe a sigh of relief at the end of his term that China has never pushed the issue regarding Taiwan, whom the U.S. has always insisted on defending. Though that issue is not entirely settled, for now both sides seem to agree to disagree. But will the Serbians live with a second humiliating setback in as many generations? To what lengths is the new President, essentially the leader of NATO, going to go to defend Kosovo? And what of Russia? To what lengths will they go to ensure we leave what they consider to be their backyard? All questions that may have to be answered before those of Iraq and Afghanistan are. It is, indeed, a brave new world. Thanks W.
The New York Times has a very interesting article on the Democratic presidential candidates exchange of barbs on trade while campaigning in Ohio. The author likens the Democrats approach to the issue to the Republicans handling of abortion:
In campaign after campaign for more than 30 years now, Republicans have been denouncing Roe v. Wade. Yet even though they have held the White House for most of that time — and made 12 of the last 14 Supreme Court appointments — abortion remains legal.Meanwhile, the Democratic candidates denounce NAFTA in a way that would make Lou Dobbs proud, yet neither is prepared to change it, or the country's trade policies, drastically.
This straddling has served Republicans well. They have been able to win over voters who care about abortion above all else without alienating swing voters, most of whom, polls show, think it should be legal at least some of the time. Talking tough and governing gently helped the party build a majority.
Based on what they’re saying, you’d have to conclude that they believe that Nafta and other trade agreements have caused Ohio’s huge economic problems.
“She says speeches don’t put food on the table,” Mr. Obama said in Youngstown. “You know what? Nafta didn’t put food on the table, either.” Later, he went further, claiming that Ohio’s workers have “watched job after job after job disappear because of bad trade deals like Nafta.”
Mrs. Clinton’s advisers, meanwhile, have been putting out the word that she tried to persuade her husband not to support Nafta — which liberalized trade with Mexico and Canada — when he was running for president... “I’m not just going to talk about what’s wrong with Nafta [...]I’m going to fix it and I have a four-point plan to do exactly that.”
But when you read this plan, or Mr. Obama’s trade agenda, you discover none of it is particularly radical. Neither candidate calls for a repeal of Nafta, or anything close to it. Both instead want to tinker with the bureaucratic innards of the agreement.
In last night's presidential debate, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama answered questions from a wide, yet dispersed, range of topics. From NAFTA and Iraq to campaign tactics, none was more ridiculous, or insulting, than the NBC moderator's questions to Mr. Obama about The Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan.
The Minister endorsed Mr. Obama, despite never being solicited "formally or informally", according to the Illinois senator last night. Still, Mr. Obama was asked to comment on the endorsement, as though Minister Farrakhan's orthodoxy goes to the heart of the campaign's message. I mean, if Mr. Farrakhan, known for unapologetically making anti-semitic remarks, endorsed Barack Obama, then clearly, Mr. Obama must be...anti semitic?
The answer is a resounding no, yet Mr. Obama's "denouncement" wasn't enough for Mrs. Clinton, who needed a "rejection" of the endorsement. Mrs. Clinton, feeling the heat to perform like the Giants' front four, didn't miss the opportunity to paint Mr. Obama as a member of the Nation, with his bow tie and bean pie. His retort was clever and profound, "rejecting and denouncing" Minister Farrakhan's anti-semitic remarks.
However, the true crime belongs to the moderators for asking Mr. Obama to comment on Minister Farrakhan's endorsement. We can sympathize with Clinton attacking Obama, for she's behind in the polls and in need of major wins next week. But for the moderators to link Obama to Farrakhan is a disgusting reach. Yes, both men are Black. Yes, both men are from Chicago. So, obviously, yes, both men are of the same ideology.
It seems this is part of a trite narrative of Black politicians who seek national office. Some how, they have to be placed in a corner as "the Black candidate". There's a reason the word viable is thrown around with reference to Mr. Obama, and not towards Senator John McCain or Governor Mitt Romney. Thus, if a known controversial, Black minister is endorsing Mr. Obama, the possibility of Mr. Obama accepting it has to be relatively high, right?
In 2000, no one ever asked then-Governor George W. Bush if he ever solicited the endorsement of Ross Perot, nor if he accepted it. The media also doesn't bring up the extreme right wing of the Conservative movement that tends to be quite bigoted, and supportive of the Republican party. Still, Mr. Obama must address the endorsement of Minister Louis Farrakhan, and in doing so, must reassure Americans of his support for Israel, of America's imperative support for the Jewish state and of his work with Jews. All good, but can't it be taken for granted that a left of center politician is not in a cabal with the Nation, despite its endorsement? Like Mr. Obama said last night, he's not going to complain if someone thinks he's right for the country.
The (now) former Mayor of a small Oregon town holds up a picture of herself that she posted on her MySpace page. The picture led to the town recalling 42 year old in a close vote of 142- 139. Carmen Gronquist isn't too upset though: "My reaction is that the democratic process took place, and that is a good process that we have in the United States, and it's fair," she said.
And, at the very least, I'm sure she has a bunch of new friends on MySpace.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Two SAM bloggers participated in the first round of Notre Dame's annual "Bengal Bouts" boxing tournament last night. With over 200 fighters, the event is the largest charity boxing tournament in the world.
In the 189 lbs. weight class, Chris Hapak easily scored a unanimous decision. Here's the write- up from the Notre Dame Observer:
Chris Hapak def. Thomas Smith
Hapak dominated Smith and beat the freshman by unanimous decision. Hapak was relentless, beating up on Smith from the moment the bell sounded. The freshman was unable to defend himself as he faced a barrage of jabs and swings. Smith improved as the fight went on but just couldn't stand up to the law student's onslaught.
In a closer match, my roommate, Chris "Don't call me Chris Meehan" Sheehan defeated his freshman opponent in a split decision in the 157 lbs. division. Sheehan impressed the crowd, and showed why the ladies love him so.
Next up for the bloggers is the second round on Thursday night.
I just got an email from Chris Dodd endorsing Barack Obama for president. Most people don't realize this, but Dodd actually ran for president a few months back.
The endorsement comes on a long line for the Illinois Senator. I don't know what Dodd is looking for, why he suddenly "found religion" with polls showing Obama with a 16- point national lead.
I'm deeply proud to be the first 2008 Democratic presidential candidate to endorse Barack Obama. He is ready to be President. And I am ready to support him - to work with him and for him and help elect him our 44th President.I suppose Dodd is looking for a leg up for a VP slot, but I suspect that's a line already wrapped around the block.
Put simply, I believe Barack Obama is uniquely qualified to help us face this housing crisis, create good jobs, strengthen America's families in this 21st century global economy, unite the world against terrorism and end the war in Iraq - and perhaps most importantly, call the American people to shared service and sacrifice. In this campaign, he has drawn millions of voters into politics for the first time in their lives and shown us that we are united by so much more than that which divides us.
Senator Chris Dodd backs Obama in the Illinois senator's campaign for the Presidency, according to Reuters. Another blow to Senator Clinton in a long, hard list of blows. The Teamsters backed Obama, he leads among much of Clinton's base and unless you're blind and deaf, he definately leads among the media.
It's an understatement to say this is not a good time for Senator Clinton. One can always argue that Obama has always wanted to be President, but no one knows the process better than Clinton, who was involved in two consecutive presidential campaigns. She had the machines, the base and former President Clinton. The machines proved unable to come through in the clutch, Obama has quite fatally hemorrhaged her base and the former President, once universally beloved among all Democrats, has proved to be a liability she can't seem to control (which, interestingly enough, cuts to the heart of her experience arguments. Just whose experience does Obama's pale in comparison to?)
No one points out these set of event and their consequences better than Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post. He pointed out last Friday how mortally wounded Clinton is, and why "The Comeback Kid" will not be a label identifies her.
The New York Philharmonic performs in Pyongyang, North Korea, in an historic concert.
As the New York Times put it:
It was the first hint of a broader thaw in a half-century long cultural stand-off between North Korea and the United States. Introducing Gershwin’s "American in Paris," Lorin Maazel, the Philharmonic’s music director, said, "Someday a composer may write a work entitled “Americans in Pyongyang.””
Monday, February 25, 2008
An advocacy group for military families, VoteVets.org, released its first web-ad. The spot is set to run initially on DC and Virginia area TV. It provides a good look at how liberal advocacy groups, the kinds embraced by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, will take on the senator in the summer and fall.
To appropriately bookend this post about Sarah Silverman's internet smash, "I'm F%*& Matt Damon," here is her boyfriend, Jimmy Kimmel's response: "I'm F%*& Ben Affleck." It features pretty much every celebrity in Hollywood.
Tina Fey did a good segment of "Women's News" on weekend update, and took up for her girl, Hillary Clinton.
There were other funny political sketches from this episode of SNL, but NBC won't allow them on youtube, and won't put them in their entirety on NBC.com
Sunday, February 24, 2008
The Huffington Post has this video under a banner headline: "Hillary mocks Obama..."
I guess she is mocking him, but I think it uses pretty effective language, definitely more effective than what we've seen out of her before. She can make the case that she is in a better position to make real change, and she better make it-- quickly.
In an announcement that set eyes rolling across the country, Ralph Nader, 74, said he is running for President on Meet the Press today.
This is the third consecutive White House run for the man who won 2.7% of the vote as a Green Party candidate in 2000, and is largely blamed for siphoning votes from Al Gore, leading to the George Bush presidency we all enjoy today. Four years ago, Nader was unable to get the Green Party nomination, and ran as an independent. He didn't get his name on the ballot in every state and received just 0.4% of the vote.
We at SAM would like to do our part for Mr. Nader's campaign, and so we've devised a few slogans that we think really cut to the heart of his candidacy:
No, we can't... but let's try anyway.
Because that McCain just ain't old enough!
Now, less than ever.
Because there can't be an "Unflinching vanity project" without "U"!
What's a US presidential election without two crotchety old white guys?!?
You Republicans owe me one
Saturday, February 23, 2008
"He was pretty tough. I think he was just standing up for his principles. There was another side to the story. Things went a little far, but there was legitimate concern about efforts to align with enemies of this country."- Fox News host Sean Hannity on Sen. Joe McCarthy of the Red Scare and HUAC.
Friday, February 22, 2008
~This link was brought to SAM by a very nice, lovely and highly successful lady working at a NYC hedge fund. This is as valuable a contribution a non-blogger could make. Enjoy!
Thursday, February 21, 2008
You've probably heard by now, but in case not, the New York Times ran an expose on Sen. John McCain and an alleged extra-marital affair. Here's the scoop on John and the ex- lobbyist (who looks just like his wife, and is 31 years his junior).
The Times uses the story as an example of double speak on ethical matters that has become familiar from McCain in the past decade.
SAM endorsed Barack Obama the week before the Iowa caucus and was on this bandwagon before the current momentum. I think Sen. Obama will be our next president, and I'll proudly cast a vote for him in the fall. The following is one way I can imagine Sen. McCain making it close.
Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has faltered, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a way to reverse it. Her central problem is that Sen. Barack Obama, her opponent and the probable future president, is Teflon. Nothing sticks to him. And she’s tried it all.
Too inexperienced. Too Black. Too general. Too soft. Too eloquent.
These charges have been leveled against him but don’t stick. Mostly, it’s because the entire premise of his campaign is a new kind of politics-- one beyond the personal attacks that defined the Boomer age-- led by a new generation of activists. So with each new criticism, his message is affirmed.
He hasn’t been in the political trenches that long; he speaks loftily about unity and hope and optimism-- and that’s precisely the point. Criticize his rhetoric or age and you play right into his hand. Those are the only bullets in Clinton’s gun during this race, and they’re blanks.
So, Sen. John McCain will have to tack a different course. And I think Michelle Obama’s comments earlier this week illuminated the way.
She said, “For the first time in my adult life I am really proud of my country...” Commentators on MSNBC all brushed aside the comment as inconsequential, save one: Pat Buchanan. It seems the old libertarian war horse spotted a rare blip of vulnerability.
The comments eventually garnered widespread coverage, and Obama commented, saying his wife meant she is finally proud of the country’s political process, and did not refer to the US in general.
Whatever the case, it was a telling moment. The argument for opponents to make is that Obama represents a radical kind of change, one that the US doesn’t really need. The traditional “silent majority,” whose parents elected Richard Nixon twice, might resent a younger, Ivy League salesman with a legion of so-called “latte- drinkers” for a base, telling them everything that’s wrong with their country.
Eventually, Obama’s message could start to grate. Meanwhile, McCain should take the stance: I know we have problems, I know there’s work ahead, but we’re still the greatest country in the world, and we’re going to be okay. And don’t let anyone tell you differently.
As the Obama campaign approaches the historic, it understandably runs the risk of cockiness, an attitude that seeped through after his win in Iowa. Overconfidence is dangerous; it could alienate the masses, who might feel like there’s a revolution going on they didn’t sign up for, and of which they’re not a part.
Admittedly, if you ask campaign manager David Axelrod, he’d likely welcome a “change vs. more of the same” narrative. The point is only that Obama could wind up being his own worst enemy, and the smugness of a comment like “in the last 25 years, there was nothing to be proud of until we came along” could be his undoing.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Spring is in the air, and Santana's on the mound. The Mets have opened camp, and I'm thinking that maybe this really is the year.
Either way, there's plenty of hype behind the team as they've already set a record by selling over 2 million tickets faster than they ever have before. Last season, they set a team record with over 3.8 million fans (3rd in the league). With the sport in its heyday, attendance records are pretty much set every year.
Their new ace is also on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week, seen above.
The AP says Hillary's candidacy is "fading away." After ten straight Obama victory parties, it sure feels like it. She's starting to step up the rhetoric against "her opponent."
The comments were made at my parents' alma mater, Hunter College in Manhattan.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Today is the Wisconsin primary and Hawaii caucus. 94 pledged delegates are at stake for the Democrats. For Republicans, only Wisconsin votes, with 56 delegates.
According to NBC News, here's where we stand:
Official NBC News Hard Count (Democrats)
NOTE: There are 44 pledged delegates still unallocated, including 19 from MD, 10 each from CO and GA and one each from IL, NM, NY, TN and DC.
NBC News Political Unit Estimate for those 44: Obama 24, Clinton 20.
NBC News Political Unit Superdelegate Count
Needeed to be Dem nominee: 2,025
Official NBC News Hard Count (Republicans)
Needed to be nominee: 1,191
Monday, February 18, 2008
The San Francisco Gate has an editorial on Kosovo's independence, penned by the man I hope Barack Obama would choose as his running mate-- Sen. Joe Biden. Check it out if you want to get a firm handle on the situation over there.
Michelle Obama told a crowd at a campaign stop in Madison that "for the first time in my adult life I am really proud of my country." This must have been music to the Clinton campaign's ears, because that is exactly the kind of misstep that Republicans will pounce all over in the general campaign, and there's no way Bill or Hill would have made a similar statement.
As you can see by the previous two posts as well, this caps a pretty bad day for Barack & Co.
Barack Obama is getting flack from the Clinton camp for lifting parts of his speech in Wisconsin from Deval Patrick, the MA governor who won election in 2006.
For his part, Obama notes that he and Patrick are friends and compare ideas, but admits that he should have credited the source of his speech. His campaign said that the charge was evidence of the Clinton's team "grasping at straws."
SAM doesn't do a whole lot of local news/ politics, but today we'll make an exception. SAM is based out of a city called South Bend, IN, known mostly as the home of the University of Notre Dame.
However, South Bend is more than just a college town. For a more complete picture of where so many SAM bloggers live, check out this story, found on page 1 of the Local Section in today's South Bend Tribune.
Here's the headline to whet your appetite:
Woman Says Man Assaulted Her With Deer Antlers
Sunday, February 17, 2008
SOME say the world will end in fire,People have been asking me a lot who I think will win the Democratic primary if it goes down to the Convention.
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice
- Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
Mathematically, it will take Clinton blow-outs in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania to allow her to secure the nom based on elected delegates. Beyond that, she'll have to rely on superdelegates at the convention.
It's a nightmare that's a no- win situation for the Senator and her party. If the nomination is swung by Superdelegates, it will not only make Democrats into hypocrites from the Bush v. Gore fiasco, but it will leave Hillary illegitimate, amp up the Republican attack machine and sour her supporters. For those reasons, she'll concede before trying to gain the nomination that way.
It probably won't be in her control, anyway. Superdelegates are almost all former elected officials. If Obama has a clear lead among elected delegates, he'll have the allegiance of many superdelegates for the good of the party and the good of the process.
Yet, if Sen. Clinton can secure wins in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas, in addition to California, New York and Florida, she'll have carried 6 of the most populous states in the union. And if they are separated by only a handful of elected delegates, she'll have an equal claim to the nomination.
However, while Hillary's leads in those states seem to be holding, Obama usually gets stronger over time, so they might not deliver the clear mandates she needs there.
In the end, I don't see this unsettled in the Convention. The Democrats have too big a chance at victory to jeopardize by looking so small. The question is: how will it end?
Due respect to Mr. Frost, I see an icy, mid- March concession speech.
Friday, February 15, 2008
The last two years in American politics have been a kind of revolution only possible in the United States. It's not because this is such a great country that this revolution is unique here, but rather more complexed and nuanced, having much to do with America's history, social structure and open lines of communication that help to curb the tendency to grab an AK-47 and head for the capitol. However, for the moment, forget how this revolution could have happened, and let's look at why and the subsequent impacts.
Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek, one of the brightest political minds - period - has a compelling article that serves as a microcosm of the dynamic political shifts occurring in this nation. He suggests that Senator Hillary Clinton is having trouble because she's working in an outdated, political prism where conservative ideology dominated, and through which liberals like former President Bill Clinton had to maneuver. This landscape saw the demise of Democrats nationally, and within each state, and saw the likes of Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich and both Bushes come to prominence. It was the reason why strategies like triangulation were necessary, and worked. And Welfare reform is still a touted success among both Democrats and Republicans. It really shouldn't be seen as a coincidence that the Lewinsky scandal occurred in this period.
The Clintons had to be moderate, appeal to independents who may not have voted for them, and shun many Democrats who probably would've gone against them anyway. Liberalism may still be an ugly word, but ten years? Forget about it.
Now we're in President George W. Bush's America, where congressional spending is greater than at any time during President Clinton's tenure. An America that is embroiled in two wars whose end is hard to imagine, let alone try and place a deadline upon. This is an America that's seen utility prices rise, home foreclosures rise, college tuition rise, and the U.S. brand decline. So it was revolutionary, yet not so much a surprise, when staunchly Republican places like Kansas' second congressional district voted out the GOP incumbent in favor of a Democrat. Or when New England ridded itself of all but one Republican (from CT, no doubt). Yes, this was a major upset, and we would be fools to think it was solely about the parties or just the war on the voters' minds.
It's a revolution that may have taken a lull through much of 2007, but it's being seen again. Senator Barack Obama has won eight straight primaries to date, and is primed to take more. His is a campaign that seems naive and full of pie-in-the-sky rhetoric, but it works. His is a campaign that lacks detail in its policy proposals and substance in its intentions, but it wins. His is a campaign that speaks honestly and passionately about the hopes for this country and casts a wide net to include all kinds of folks to join and help. There's no sense of throat-cutting, triangulation or any other brutal calculation that further entrenches Americans' differences.
Senator Obama's campaign is one that's beating the Clinton dynasty, and, by extension, the politics of the last thirty years. That generation is losing because it did not heed the calls of independents and Republicans, who actually kick-started this revolution. The Old Schoolers have been listening to their own voices and that of political machines. Let's just keep haranguing homosexuals, because there's no way they'll be voting in a Democrat. Or, more recently: Let's just show up, because these Blacks are gonna vote for us anyway. We're the f*cking Clintons, for Christ's sake! Well, someone forgot to give the voters the message to stay watching CNN, to stay not giving a damn, and, most importantly, to stay home. Those machines did nothing for Clinton in Iowa and Virginia, just like Karl Rove's tactics couldn't whitewash President Bush's (and Former Rep. Dennis Hastert's Congress') ineptitude.
This revolution will be televised, and the voices of the past can console those invested in the status quo when they listen to Sen. Obama deliver yet another speech at the Democratic convention this summer. This time, he will be the last man speaking.
Here are a couple for your enjoyment:
"If you're a younger person, you ought to be asking members of Congress and the United States Senate and the president what you intend to do about it. If you see a train wreck coming, you ought to be saying, 'What are you going to do about it, Mr. Congressman, or Madam Congressman?'"
-while discussing Social Security concerns in 2005
"This morning my administration released the budget numbers for fiscal 2006. These budget numbers are not just estimates; these are the actual results for the fiscal year that ended February the 30th."
"One has a stronger hand when there's more people playing your same cards."
-on holding six-party talks with North Korea in 2006
"In my judgment, when the United States says there will be serious consequences, and if there isn't serious consequences, it creates adverse consequences."
-defending his decision to invade Iraq in 2004
"This very week 1989, there were protests in East Berlin and in Leipzig. By the end of that year, every Communist dictatorship in Central America had collapsed."
- at the 20th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy in 2003
That's enough for now. Plenty more where those came from.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
- Oliver Perez, Mike Pelfrey and John Maine of the New York Mets jog during warm-ups in Port St. Lucie, Florida on the first day of Spring Training. Today is the first day pitchers and catchers report to training camps all over Florida and Arizona.
Take a deep breath, the baseball season is almost here.
There's been a flare-up between Barack Obama and John McCain's campaign, and it's very telling how McCain will handle the obvious contrast in age between the 46 year old Obama and the 71- year- old presumptive Republican nominee. The Politico reports...
"It’s nice of him to constantly point out how nice he thinks of John McCain and his half-century of service to our country," [McCain Campaign manager Tom] Davis said sardonically. "I don’t think he can get that ["half-century" line] out enough."
"I actually think half a century of service to our country is a good thing. If you would like to talk about the day John McCain went into the Naval Academy and pledged his loyalty to our country and everything that’s happened since then, let’s prosecute that. We love those kinds of discussions."
Davis, speaking at a Washington luncheon with reporters, also extended the criticism leveled by his candidate last night, suggesting that the 46-year-old Obama was offering vague rhetoric to mask liberal views.
"I think it’s easy to say, 'let's have hope,'" Davis said. "But hope has to come into some form.
"And what form is hope? Is hope higher taxes, greater government spending, a retreat out of Iraq?"
Here's a blast from the past... famed filmmaker Jake Zimet was in his professional infancy when he made a series of acclaimed films entitled The Mike Tompkinson Show in the spring of 2001. Those films are now on YouTube, and below are the opening credits.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
The main news today was the testimony of Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee before the House Oversight Committee. But what I found more shocking today than the testimony, which you can read about here or here, is that the event turned so partisan.
First, let's put two things on the table: I'm a Democrat and I loathe Clemens. He's one of my most hated players of all time. He's an arrogant bully, who proved he had no class well before today's testimony.
Let's get something else straight, too: Clemens is lying.
He changed his story multiple times, while his accuser had his account verified by two witnesses: Chuck Knoblauch and Andy Pettitte, Clemens' best friend in baseball, who testified that Clemens was injected just as McNamee says. Roger's response? Pettitte "misremembered." Even Clemens' wife admits McNamee injected her with HGH, but Roger says didn't he know about that. He claims that his trainer came into his house and injected his wife with Human Growth Hormone-- without his knowledge. He even fabricated a story about his presence at a party thrown by renowned steroid abuser Jose Canseco, a lie that was exposed by a former employee.
So why, in the face of all the facts, did almost all the Republicans on the Oversight Committee defend Clemens, and slam McNamee?
McNamee, a trainer who depended on Clemens for a $60k/ year salary, was called a "drug dealer" by Rep. Chris Shays (R- CT; my father's Representative), and a "liar." Shays said it was a fact, because McNamee "deals with illegal drugs." Please. A drug dealer slings crack to addicts on a street corner, or weed to kids outside a school. Roger Clemens is a grown man, a professional athlete who knew exactly what he was doing. McNamee had numerous clients, not all of whom did performance enhancing drugs. Clemens hired him, and paid him, in part because he got Clemens what he wanted.
Yes, McNamee lied, he lied for years protecting Clemens. Clemens was his meal ticket, until he was forced with the prospect of going to jail for obstruction and had to play ball (excuse the pun).
Shays was not alone, either. Republicans hammered McNamee and sucked up to Clemens, while Democrats aggressively called out the star pitcher. By the end of the hearings, Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D- CA) apologized to McNamee for his colleagues behavior.
So, I got to thinking about why Republicans approached the hearings this way, and I'm having a tough time coming up with answers. Apparently, Clemens is good friends with fellow Texan George W. Bush. He could be a big time Republican contributor, but I don't think that explains it.
In a situation where the truth seems so obvious, politicians are still split along party lines. It's almost like Republicans saw Democrats were going to be tough on Clemens, so they instinctively took the other side.
I'm trying not to slam Republicans for not prioritizing what seems like obvious objective truth. But I'm having a tough time avoiding it. It's sickening, and I just don't get it.
Let's follow-up on yesterday's weather experiment.
As we know, Obama blew away expectations. So much so that Clinton's campaign is blaming the weather, claiming that the weather disproportionately hampered older voters (who, according to exit polls, still prefer Clinton).
The bigger story, though, is that Obama seems to have carried virtually every other demographic segment. That apparent fact might absolve the seemingly busted weather theory--the theory that Obama underperforms in bad weather.
The hypothesis that Obama would not exceed expectations relied on a major, now defunct, premise: that Obama's support was largely composed of a mix of independents and young people (historically capricious blocs). The exit polls indicate that Obama's base of support is quickly and radically changing. Obama is becoming mainstream among Democrats. As this happens, his supporters will likely vote for him, rain or shine.
Reasons Why McCain Should Choose the South Carolina hero, Mark Sanford
1. In 4 years, he reduced South Carolina's budget deficit from $10 billion to $0
2. He, like McCain, is a leader in campaign finance reform.
3. He stands out against government waste: During his time in Congress, he returned $200,000 (1/3 of his office budget) and was inducted into the Taxpayers Hall of Fame. He even saved money while in Congress by sleeping on a cot in his D.C. office.
4. He is an all-around good guy. While being very smart (with an MBA from UVA), he enjoys spending time on his farm, surfing, and any other outdoor activity. He even was a cheerleader in college at Furman University.
5. He is a true environmental conservationist: He set aside more land than any other governor in history. Also, see his Washington Post editorial.
6. He stresses the need to "update" the government. In SC, his gubernatorial platform emphasized reforming the state's "horse and buggy" government to bring it into the 21st century. He truly strives for an efficient, responsive and fiscally responsible government.
7. He has the most fabulous family imaginable. Very Kennedy-esque. Four great boys and a smart and lovely wife (a past investment banker in NYC).
8. He is a clever campaigner. When he first ran for Congress in 1994, he was virtually unknown in South Carolina (having just moved there with his family). Out of absolute obscurity, he beat five other popular candidates in the SC primary.
9. He is very well liked in South Carolina. He won his gubernatorial seat by the largest margin of any SC candidate in recent memory.
10. Sanford's charisma, slight Southern drawl, and handsome looks will make the McCain ticket much more affable and voter-friendly.
The Washington Times has begun the speculation on who John McCain will tab for his running-mate later this year. On the shortlist, it suggests, are: Governors Mike Huckabee (AR), Bobby Jindal (LA), Charlie Crist (FL) and Mark Sanford (SC), among others.
Huckabee is a bad choice because it could alienate the moderates and independents McCain will need, particularly in a race against Barack Obama.
Crist is a good option because he's a popular governor of a swing state McCain has to have, and has already said he's interested in the job.
Bobby Jindal is an attractive candidate that has a lot going for him: he's an Asian- American-- the country's first Indian governor, and is only 36 years old. So he could counter the "symbolic change" argument of Democrats nicely. He also has the backing of party Conservatives (Rush Limbaugh called him "the next Ronald Reagan"). However, he's only been in the governor's office one month (after a special election).
Another strong option is South Carolina's Sanford. He's a young (47) Washington outsider (although he was a Congressman), popular in a very Southern state. His good looks and fake tan should put voters at ease when pulling the leaver for a 72- year- old. He's also a personal friend of McCain's.
I actually have an inside operative in the Sanford camp, and spoke with my source in a SAM exclusive.
Sanford, a Long Island, NY native, is a very nice man, although also very cheap. He drives a clunker of a car (described as a 1980 Chevy Lumina) despite marrying into one of the wealthiest families in America (we're talking GE money).
But his wife is supposed to be amazingly smart and pretty, and managed his gubernatorial campaign. And Sanford is equally charming, with a picture perfect clan of kids to boot.
I think he and McCain would make a formidable pair.
The Potmac Primaries are over, and Barack Obama is now 8-0 since Super Tuesday. By margins of 64- 35 (VA), 60- 36 (MD) and 75- 24 (DC) he mopped up Hillary Clinton, and picked up at least 65 delegates to her 33. John McCain also won all three contests and probably forced Mike Huckabee out of the race.
But it's not just that Obama won, it's how he won. Up to this point, Clinton's campaign had been about a coalition of women, Hispanics, older and blue- collar ("beer drinking") Democrats. Meanwhile, Obama did well with Blacks, the upper-class ("wine drinking") and students.
However, the NY Post reports that last night Sen. Obama made significant inroads into Clinton's supporters, as Obama...
Bettered Clinton by nearly 60 percent to 40 percent among women.
Bested her 59-40 among those making less than $50,000 a year.
Won 52 percent of voters age 65 and over.
February 19 there are primaries in Hawaii and Wisconsin, and there's a very good chance Obama wins both of those as well. That would make him 10-0 since Super Tuesday, and set up the March 4 primaries in Texas and Ohio (Vermont is also that day) as Hillary Clinton's firewall. Rudy Giuliani tried that in Flordia, and he's now campaigning for John McCain.
If the trends of the Potomac primaries continue, Sen. Obama will win either Ohio or Texas, and this thing will be over.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Let's test the weather theory today.
RealClearPolitics.com has averaged the latest polls and, as expected, Obama is the heavy favorite today. Here are the spreads which presumably do not take weather into account:
Virginia: Obama +17.7 and Maryland: Obama +22.3.
The theory goes, when the weather is bad, Obama meets or does slightly worse than expected. In the Super Tuesday sample, he never exceeded expectations where it rained. The weather will be bad in all three states voting today.
My friend, Doug Flynn, has had the following as his message on GChat for a while, but for some reason it really cracked me up this morning, so I thought I'd post it.
"We need to counter the shock wave of the evildoer by having individual rate cuts accelerated and by thinking about tax rebates."- George W. Bush, in a speech to the Labor Department on October 4, 2001, on how to stop the terrorists (tax cuts, of course). Find the full text here.
Monday, February 11, 2008
A week ago, I posted a cool music video Will.i.am put together with celebrities in support of Barack Obama, singing his New Hampshire concession speech ("Yes, we can"). Well, John McCain has his supporters, too, and there's a similar video, see below.
The man many waited to join the '08 Democratic field may be on the verge of endorsing Barack Obama.
Al Gore, who words inspired this site, had vowed to stay on the sidelines throughout the primaries. And perhaps after the former Veep's honest dismissals of a possible third run for the White House, we should take him at his word. But the NY Daily News reports that he's considering coming out for Obama.
It's no secret that Gore and Hillary have been at odds since the 90s, and that the division deepened after the 2000 campaign. But Gore also is keenly aware of his new role of elder statesman, and may prefer to stay above the fray.
The News quotes two anonymous sources:
"The level of animus between them is unbelievable," a well-placed Hillary partisan confided.
A prominent Democratic strategist with close ties to both camps echoes: "The Clintons and the Gores can't stand each other."
The Gore endorsement would be a huge get for the Obama camp-- he's the "ultimate prize among uncommitted Superdelegates."
The New York Times ran a bit of an expose today about a study the RAND group did for the Army. RAND is private, but receives government funding to do research for the armed forces.
In 2005, RAND was commissioned to do a study on the planning for post-war Iraq-- the mistakes that were made, what worked and what didn't. The study was critical of the higher-ups in the Bush administration: President Bush, Secretaries Powell and Rumsfeld, and NSA Rice. The study pointed out the boarders should have been secured quicker to prevent foreign insurgents from streaming over the boarders. The general insufficiency of post-war planning was also detailed.
RAND then went to have the report, which was supposed to be public, published in November 2005, but was stopped by Army officials. They thought it would be useful in planning future missions.
For his part, General Lovelace released a statement that said, in part: "The RAND study simply did not deliver a product that could have assisted the Army in paving a clear way ahead; it lacked the perspective needed for future planning by the U.S. Army."
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Stephen J. Dubner, coauthor of the best-seller Freakonomics, has a blog with the same name through the New York Times. Last week, inspired by a contest in the UK and a new book on 6- word memoirs, Dubner began a contest to give the USA a new, 6 word national motto.
Here are some interesting submissions:
Just like Canada, with Better Bacon
Equal Representation*Liberals hate it–must be good.
*Offer void in D.C.
Powered by people - driven by fools.
Mind the GOP please.
The Best Country Credit can Buy
Coming to a Country Near You!
Shut up! The Hills is on.
From Yahoo News: An 18 - year- old Republican from Minnesota is standing up for free speech, in his own mind anyway.
Corey Hauer has gotten repeated citations for a large sign he has posted over his back windshield that reads: Ron Paul Revolution. A city ordinance states that such decals cannot obstruct a driver's view.
But young Corey considers the citations an affront to his Constitutional rights, and the police force guilty of political oppression.
"I support Ron Paul, the city police department doesn't," he said. "They gave me a DWR — driving while Republican."
For his part, Sheriff Shaun LaDue said, "The political aspect of this doesn't enter into the equation at all. It's very clear in state statute that you cannot have anything that obstructs the driver's vision."
Besides being in violation of the law, Hauer showed disrespect toward the officer during each traffic stop, LaDue said. "He talks himself into a citation each time," LaDue said.
Hauer said he'll argue in court that the law violates histo free speech.
"To be honest, I'm probably not going to win, but I'm going to go down fighting," he said.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
There's an interesting article in the NY Observer about a talk Newsweek Editor John Meacham gave at the Columbia school of journalism. When he asked which students read his magazine, none of them volunteered. This confirmed a frustrating fact for Meacham, that the new generation high brow intellectuals prefer publications like the Economist to traditional news magazines Time and Newsweek.
"Look, I need you," Meacham told his cosmopolitan audience. "And I need—I've got people out there risking their lives right now. The Economist is not, by the way. I've got four people in Baghdad who could be killed at any moment who are trying to tell the truth the best they can of that story. We have people in 13 different countries. We have a guy in Afghanistan who has Taliban sources who the federal government has asked about because we have better intelligence than government does—he's risking his life.
"And how to communicate that we have things to say that are both factually new and analytically new and to get you under the tent is a fact that scares me—not The Economist per se. It's an incredible frustration that I've got some of the most decent, hard-working, honest, passionate, straight-shooting, non-ideological people who just want to tell the damn truth, and how to get this past this image that we're just middlebrow, you know, a magazine that your grandparents get, or something, that's the challenge. And I just don't know how to do it, so if you've got any ideas, tell me."Apparently, the students offered only the vague idea of re-branding, which seems like more of the problem than the solution.
If it's any consolation to Mr. Meacham, I often read Newsweek at the gym, of course I'd decidedly "middle-brow" so that might not be too helpful.
The Writer's Guild of America's East and West Coast boards of directors are meeting today to give formal approval to a deal that would mercifully end their 3 1/2 month strike. You can click the link to read the details. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go stock up on snacks and test the springs in my couch before new episodes debut.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Today Peggy Noonan outlined why Hillary Clinton is going to lose this thing, and just how formidable Obama will be in November. She makes a compelling argument:
She's the first I've heard willing to admit Clinton's losing:
"I ruminate in this way because something is happening. Mrs. Clinton is losing this thing. It's not one big primary, it's a rolling loss, a daily one, an inch-by-inch deflation. The trends and indices are not in her favor. She is having trouble raising big money, she's funding her campaign with her own wealth, her moral standing within her own party and among her own followers has been dragged down, and the legacy of Clintonism tarnished by what Bill Clinton did in South Carolina. Unfavorable primaries lie ahead. She doesn't have the excitement, the great whoosh of feeling that accompanies a winning campaign. The guy from Chicago who was unknown a year ago continues to gain purchase, to move forward. For a soft little innocent, he's played a tough and knowing inside/outside game."
She basically says nobody is willing to admit Hillary's losing because they are afraid of a New Hampshire-like miscalculation. They're playing it conservatively, just like networks' reluctance to call state's based on exit polls since Bush-Gore.
But the most compelling part of the article comes at the end when she talks about just how unstoppable Obama will be in the general:
"But Mr. Obama will not be easy for Republicans to attack. He will be hard to get at, hard to address. There are many reasons, but a primary one is that the fact of his race will freeze them. No one, no candidate, no party, no heavy-breathing consultant, will want to cross any line--lines that have never been drawn, that are sure to be shifting and not always visible--in approaching the first major-party African-American nominee for president of the United States..."
"...He is the brilliant young black man as American dream. No consultant, no matter how opportunistic and hungry, will think it easy--or professionally desirable--to take him down in a low manner. If anything, they've learned from the Clintons in South Carolina what that gets you."
And Noonan saved the best line for last:
"The Democrats have it exactly wrong. Hillary is the easier candidate, Mr. Obama the tougher. Hillary brings negative; it's fair to hit her back with negative. Mr. Obama brings hope, and speaks of a better way. He's not Bambi, he's bulletproof."
There's no doubt about it, Clinton is on the ropes. Everyone is saying that this thing is a tie, but what they are not saying is that a tie is a loss for Clinton. This woman has been running for President since 1992--Bill used to say America was getting "two for the price of one." Yet, Obama, who was not even on the national radar until his speech at the Democratic convention four years ago is slowly pulling support away from her. This is the first day since Iowa that I've actually felt he may win this thing.
One more thing, Noonan suggests that it's Obama's race that makes him such a difficult target for Republicans in November; I disagree. I think it's his message, not his race, that makes Obama such a tough target. With McCain at the top of the Republican ticket, this election will be another referendum on the war in Iraq and Obama has the credibility and moral authority to get us out. His consistent opposition to the war coupled with his likability and willingness to see both sides of an argument make him an outstanding general election candidate.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
**Update** McCain certainly has reason to be cocky today, as Mitt Romney suspended his presidential campaign. In the words of Ferris Bueller: "Are you still here? It's over."
Top Ten Signs John McCain Is Getting Too Cocky
10. Canceled tomorrow's campaign appearances so he doesn't miss "Lost"
9. Spent the afternoon roughing up Romney supporters
8. Last night, he blew half campaign war chest playing internet poker
7. Already working on his 2012 re-election strategy
6. Plans to campaign for the next three days in "Vodkachusetts"
5. Recently told voter "Keep that ugly ass baby away from me"
4. Now refers to Mike Huckabee as "Mike Suckabee"
3. Has started yelling, "Bingo!" when he doesn't even have bingo (come on, folks, he's old!)
2. Renamed his campaign bus the "Bite Me Express"
1. Went to Mexico with Jessica Simpson
And on the Late Show Website, they provide these additional entries that make didn't make the cut:
· Already standing in front of White House yelling at kids to get off his lawn
· Yesterday in Arizona, invited press to watch him vote three times
· The new "Commander-in-Chief" tattoo on his ass
· He's taking a break from campaigning to tour with Hannah Montana
· Taking time off from campaign so he can compete on 'American Gladiators'
· Ends every speech by daring guys to come up and fight him
· Telling everyone to call him by his rap name: McDiddy
· "Straight Talk Express" now has stripper pole
· Devoting all his campaign money to the primary in Oaxaca
"I don't believe in them. They always play the race card, and you can't always play the race card. Sometimes the race card is needed but not in every situation. We have to hold blacks more accountable for their actions."
- Charles Barkley on why he won't be inviting Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton to campaign for him as he runs for governor of Alabama in 2010. Barkley said he is "definitely" running.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
It appears that rain may have cost Obama some votes (or even states) yesterday.
A poli sci grad student at UCLA has charted Obama's Super Tuesday performance where it rained versus where it didn't rain. In states where it didn't rain, Obama performed at or above expectations (i.e. he met or exceeded pre-election polls). Where it did rain, Obama only performed at expectations. In other words, the likelihood that Obama over-performed in a primary was greater if the weather was good.
Why would rain hurt Obama's turnout? According to my Bruin source, the answer probably lies in the fickleness of some Obama supporters. According to pre-February 5th exit polls, Obama is doing very well with (1) people who tend toward political independence and (2) voters under 45 years old. On average, political independents are notably less engaged in politics than partisans; among other effects of this lower engagement, they are less likely to be habitual voters. Thus their intended participation could be impeded by bad weather. Those with the voting habit are much less likely to say: Well it's raining, so I guess I won't vote today. The same considerations apply to younger voters: The voting habit is still being developed before age 40.
There are two things Obama can do to help his turnout in light of these findings. First, he should talk to the Chinese about weather control. Second, he would do well to put voter mobilization at the top of his investment list. He's swayed a number of people to be generally willing to vote for him--now he just needs to literally deliver them to the polls.
I've been confronted with an apparent contradiction of my two previous posts: In the last one I write that if the Democratic race goes to a brokered convention, Clinton is the beneficiary; yet in the prior post, I write that "the longer this drags on the more it favors Obama."
My muddled meaning is that Obama will do better with voters the longer the nominating contest goes. He'll have more time to persuade with his charisma and message. More than that even, more time to let people get used to the idea of him as president, especially older (Hispanic) voters who were so focused on the idea of Hillary.
The fact that he'll have a ton more money than she does won't hurt, either.
So where's the rub? Here: the Clintons are in General Sherman mode, they will slash and burn, leave nothing in the tank to get to the convention. They figure as long as they stop Obama from getting to that magic 2025 number, they can get to a brokered convention where their well- earned bartered respect will secure Hillary's nomination.
I realize that this makes Hillary seem like a schemer, attempting to steal the nomination from the people. I don't think it's like that. First, she could still win it outright, because the delegates are apportioned and it's just so damn close. At this unprecedented stage, with this unbelievably small margin, don't fault her for pulling out all the stops.
Would you want anything less of a president?
Last night, both Clinton and Obama vied for momentum and maybe even some kind of inevitability. It didn't happen for either of them.
Under the last post, someone made a smart comment about the way the calendar shakes out from here. The rest of February's primaries favor Obama: Virginia, Washington DC, Washington state and others. He could win five in a row. Then, in March, Ohio and Texas vote, which carry huge numbers of delegates, and figure to be Clinton strongholds.
The commenter, an Obama supporter, hoped that Hillary would bow out under the momentum of a string of Obama victories. Make no mistake, Bill and Hill are in it to the convention. So, we'll see a push for Obama in the coming weeks, but Hillary will pick up a solid amount of delegates (they're are apportioned) headed into March. The bottom line: Forget about momentum and spin and focus on the delegate count. More than half of Democrats have voted, but neither candidate has more than half the delegates needed for the nomination.
That means there is a very real possibility that this heads to a brokered convention, which favors three people- Hillary Clinton, John McCain and me. Hillary Clinton because she has the party establishment behind her, who could anoint her the nominee in a backroom (and make her pick Obama as her running-mate). John McCain because he'll have sewn up his party's nomination have a head start raising money campaigning for the fall. And me because a brokered convention would make Chris Matthews head explode, and I've always wanted to see that.
NBC's Chris Donovan reports:
3 red states /6 blue states
4 red states / 2 blue states
5 red states
9 red states / 4 blue states
4 red states / 4 blue states
My Take: It looks like the Republican race is all but over. Romney failed to claim California, Connecticut or any southern state. So he didn't establish himself as McCain's "conservative alternative," as he'd hoped. Instead, he won Mormon- heavy states and his home state. Huckabee, meanwhile, impressed, and seems likely to be the Vice Presidential nominee.
It's air- tight on the Democratic side right now. Each candidate did what they had to, but nothing more. Obama hoped for a coup in New Jersey or California, but didn't threaten Clinton in either. However, he was able to pick up red states and show his general appeal. It affirms my earlier prediction that Obama will have an easier time beating John McCain (especially with Huckabee on the ticket, which is a tough combo), and showed his appeal in "moderate" states.
As for Hillary, she got a nice surprise with such an easy win in Massachusetts, and she handily won the big prize-- California. She was not able to claim true victory, however, and the longer this drags on, I think, the more the situation favors Obama.