Hillary Clinton At The Turn Of The Tide

As the last few hours of 2007 drain away, let’s talk a little Bloomberg, Obama, Edwards, Hillary.

Yes, he’s running. Big Media, tired of simply controlling the process now wants its own candidate to run. The head of Bloomberg, Inc. is the perfect Big Media candidate. All the dolts will see his strengths, none of the problems. [Hint: Hillary Clinton is 44 even if Bloomberg runs (Obama loses big – Edwards loses too).] The big cheerleader in the Bloomberg effort, other than Bloomberg aides who want to stick with their Big Money pal and move to the White House, are the braindead pundits like David Broder. Broder who once declared the Reform Party “the future” or somesuch — we’ll have more on this story after Hillary gets the nomination.

The New York Times has more on the Big Meeting in Norman, Oklahoma this Sunday. As we will explain in a much later article on Bloomberg, the Oklahoma meeting is just a publicity stunt on the clever Bloomberg’s part. Bloomberg does not need any of the sad attendees going to the meeting. Bloomberg will spin the non-partisan mumbo-jumbo to the rubes. But like we said regarding Obama – the issues being fought over matter and that is why there is so much fighting. The war on partisanship continues but we agree with Krugman (while laughing at Obama) on the benefits of partisanship.

For those wanting more information on the Bloomberg campaign, read our article from May 2007 concerning Bloomberg as well as our June 2007 article. Both those early articles are on target. We still think Bloomberg will announce in May 2008 and that Giuliani will not be the nominee of the Republican Party.

Read our article from May on how Edwards could fix his campaign. For now, it is good to see Edwards discovering the benefits of wearing a suit. If you run for president, look the part.

Edwards has also discovered the joys of hypocrisy. Edwards is picking up steam by lying openly and with joy. All that talk against money in politics fell away as Edwards discovered he could benefit from all that money running ads for him from groups that Edwards would months ago have denounced as “special interests” and the evil 527s.

Edwards has also decided to finally run as the white male candidate. We wrote this back in May:

We thought Edwards would retool his campaign and try to run as the Male, Heterosexual, Southern, White, Religious, Populist candidate. This posture conceivably would have been strong. Southern candidates do well and get elected president as Democrats. As the White Male candidate Edwards also could have distinguished himself from his Latino, African-American, and Female opponents and possibly acquired a distinuishing niche in the top tier of the presidential race.

Instead of running a populist campaign, Edwards decided to become the candidate of the unnuanced left. This has led to disaster after disaster.

Edwards has finally started to ignore the nutroots and run a campaign like a grownup. Edwards has fully embraced hypocrisy, while loudly denouncing hypocrisy; Edwards is taking all the help he can from “special interests” and running as the white male that he is. That’s how you win elections bub. Embrace your inner hypocrite John – that’s why Obama is finally getting scared of you – you are finally playing the game like a grown up. Edwards also finally discovered that Obama is his problem, not Hillary. Way to go Johnny.

Obama, like any flim-flam confidence man, is running against the clock. Flim-flam artists have to keep moving and changing stories and charming and spinning and talking that sweet talk – all the while keeping an eye out for the law. The trick is to pocket the money you got from the rubes who believe that snake-oil you sell but get out just in time to avoid the pokey.

Obama’s problem: The clock is ticking faster than Obama is dancing.

After getting away with complete acceptance of his totally manufactured story Obama began to face scrutiny from the more discerning members of the Democratic left. The more intelligent members of the Democratic left began to dismantle Obama’s bull and take notice of why Republicans were acting as Obama cheerleaders. Their judgment was “No there there – an empty Republican suit.”

The basic Obama narrative was finally challenged on the pages of the Washington Post the Sunday before the Iowa caucuses:

It’s just this sort of blunder — naive, well-meaning, amateurish, convinced that everyone understands the goodness of U.S. intentions — that worries me again these days. That’s because a curious and dangerous consensus seems to be forming among the chattering classes, on both the left and the right, that what the United States needs in these troubling times is not knowledge and experience but a “fresh face” with an “intuitive sense of the world,” and that the mere act of electing Obama will put us on the path to winning the so-called war on terror. [snip]

The next president will have to try to build a successful, economically viable Palestinian state while protecting the safety and sovereignty of Israel. He or she will have to slowly and responsibly withdraw forces from Iraq without allowing the country to implode. He or she will have to bring Iraq’s neighbors, Syria and Iran, to the negotiating table while simultaneously reining in Iran’s nuclear ambitions, keeping Syria out of Lebanon, reassuring Washington’s Sunni Arab allies that they have not been abandoned, coaxing Russia into becoming part of the solution (rather than part of the problem) in the region, saving an independent and democratic Afghanistan from the resurgent Taliban, preparing for an inevitable succession of leadership in Saudi Arabia, persuading China to play a more constructive role in the Middle East and keeping a nuclear-armed Pakistan from self-destructing in the wake of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. [snip]

Obama may possess all the intuition of a fortuneteller. But as chair of a Senate subcommittee on Europe, he has never made an official trip to Western Europe (except a one-day stopover in London in August 2005) or held a single policy hearing. He’s never faced off with foreign leaders and has no idea what a delicate sparring match diplomacy in the Middle East can be. And at a time in which the United States has gone from sole superpower to global pariah in a mere seven years, these things matter.

The main issue in U.S. foreign policy that the next president will face is repairing our image in the world. But in foreign policy, unlike advertising, image is created through action, not branding. Which is why one cannot help but sense a touch of shirking (not to mention a lack of short-term memory) in all this talk about “intuitive experience” and “re-branding images,” particularly when it comes from those who began the “New American Century” as ardent supporters of Bush’s wars and his self-advertised “gut” instincts.

It is as though, rather than accepting blame for the mess and taking responsibility for cleaning it up, they would prefer to slap a new coat of paint on the problem and declare it fixed.

It was “intuition” that made the mess in the first place. It will take more than intuition to clean it up. After all, we are not launching a new product. We are electing a president.

Hillary’s numbers began to soften when the Big Media Party, especially Tim Russert, decided to throw everything they had at her. Immediately the Republican candidates started to run ads against Hillary in places like New Hampshire. The Democratic candidates too continued the attack on Hillary. It was Hillary against them all. Her poll numbers softened. Now the opposite dynamic is in effect.

With the death of Benazir Bhutto candidates like John McCain, respected and loved by Big Media, began echoing the Hillary message. Experience matters. McCain and Big Media started to talk about the value of experience at the same time Obama started to get some little examination. John Edwards too finally realized his problem was Obama the concilliator, not Hillary the fighter. Edwards also realized that he needs to replace Obama as the non-Hillary. As we noted above Edwards adopted a hypocritical but intelligent stance regarding the financing of his campaign. Obama, whose numbers had earlier risen with the collapse of Edwards’ soft supporters is now losing those soft supporters to Edwards.

The Hillary campaign had already adjusted to the all out assault on Hillary initiated by Tim Russert. The endorsement of Hillary by the Des Moines Register and the rollout of that endorsement and the Hillary surrogates and the Hill-o-copter, the return of reality to the campaign trail because of the killing of Bhutto, and the last minute realizations of John Edwards all have contributed to the Hillary rise. But the big factor helping Hillary is that Iowans know they are being tested. Iowans are the ones who have to help select the next president – not a drinking buddy, not a popular college professor, – the president.

As Iowans get closer to decision day this Thursday, Iowans get serious. Pick a president Iowa – and Hillary will do just fine in the caucuses.

The latest from Iowa:

BILL CLINTON thought he had it tough when he ran for president in 1992, but his wife is facing an even more brutal race, according to Terry McAuliffe, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman: “Bill Clinton said to me, ‘Terry, I have never in my life seen such an attack on one candidate and that’s saying something’.

“It has been relentless. He didn’t have to face attacks from his own party. She has had them from day one. But I’m not complaining. She has taken on the Republicans and beaten them. She’s so resilient. She has the attitude, ‘It is what it is’, and just marches on.” [snip]

Even Iowans are baffled by their preeminence. “We’re fortunate. We almost get to name the next president. It’s kinda weird,” said Lon Diers, a retired businessman, who braved the frost last week to attend one of Clinton’s rallies. What is more, Iowans are milking it. They are in no hurry to make up their minds. Diers is for Clinton but his wife Rosalyn, a former factory worker, said that she was still undecided.

“I’m afraid that if Hillary Clinton becomes president, she’ll pay the Republicans back for the times they were so horrible to her husband. We need someone who can work with both parties,” she said. But she is not sure that Obama has what it takes either: “I’m not ready for him. He’s too young and green to be president.” ABOUT 30% of Iowans are still on the fence, according to McAuliffe’s calculations. There is no secret ballot and caucus-goers can be persuaded to change their vote right up to the last minute: “You walk into the room on caucus night and there’s going to be a group dynamic at work. Until we get those results, we’re all going to be nervous, like cats on a roof. It’s very tight between the three of us, very tight.”

The third candidate is John Edwards, who is showing signs of building strength in Iowa after coming a close second there in 2004 to John Kerry, the eventual Democrat nominee. If Clinton fails to win this week, the next best result for her team would be a victory for Edwards, as he lacks the organisation and resources to compete in other states. [snip]

Weather permitting, Clinton has been travelling all over Iowa by coach and “Hill-icopter”, addressing several rallies a day with her daughter Chelsea at her side. Campaigning is a family affair. Bill Clinton is holding just as many rallies as his wife in this final stretch, prompting some pundits to wonder if he is more of a hindrance than a help to her.

“It is not even a close call,” McAuliffe said. “She’s got huge crowds. He’s got huge crowds. We’re covering double the places. How can you argue with that?”

One of Clinton’s chief organisers in Iowa told him: “Terry, if you can get Bill Clinton every day of the week, I’ll take him.”

McAuliffe is convinced that Hillary Clinton has the breadth and depth of support to survive if she suffers a shock early defeat. “Obviously Iowa is very important and we’re very competitive here, but for us, there isn’t a state that she has to win. That just doesn’t apply to Hillary Clinton.”

She holds strong leads in the vast majority of them and, if she can survive any initial loss of momentum, she will be hard to beat. And there are signs that her campaign is stabilising after hitting a rough patch last month.

When Clinton’s poll ratings began to tumble, Mark Penn, her pollster and chief adviser, held an early-morning meeting to hammer home her strategy. Don’t abandon the message “strength and experience”, he cautioned. Remember Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, he said.

Added to the mix was “the Hillary I know” – testimony from friends and supporters who claim she is kinder, gentler and more likeable than her “chilly Hilly” image. Thatcher did not bother with such niceties, but McAuliffe believes that Americans want their presidents to pass the “beer” test.

“There is no question that the core message is strength and experience, but people have got to like you,” he said.

At a crowded rally last week in Carroll, western Iowa, Clinton was firmly on message. She was introduced by an apple farmer from upstate New York who spoke glowingly of the warmth of the Hillary he knew towards rural folk like him, but in her stump speech she adopted a statesmanlike persona.

“It is time to pick a president,” she said. “There will be a stack of problems waiting in the Oval Office. A war to end in Iraq. A war to address in Afghanistan . . . and these are the problems we know about. Some will come out of nowhere.” Her supporters are drilled to say she is ready to lead on “day one”.

It has been frustrating for Obama to be portrayed as inexperienced, when Hillary Clinton, as he once tartly observed, did not serve in her husband’s cabinet. But that is how he has been defined and it is difficult to shake.

Addressing an equally packed hall in Des Moines, the capital of Iowa, last week, Obama said: “Some of my opponents appear scornful of the word ‘hope’ and think it summons up naivety or weakness, but I know it has been the guiding force behind the most improbable changes this country has ever made.”

There are signs that support for Obama is levelling off after his recent surge in the polls. Perhaps the sly references by Clinton supporters to his drug use in his youth and his Muslim heritage have had an impact, but so too has the frequent implication that he is “too green” rather than “too black”.

Dan Alexander, a university maths lecturer and Obama supporter, admitted: “His support appears to have reached a plateau. I’m just going to walk and talk to people and knock on doors and hopefully give some people enough push to turn up on caucus night. My guess is there was a lot of excitement in November, when support for him started to build, but there’s been a bit of buyer’s remorse. Some people think Obama is too nice, too conciliatory. Hillary Clinton has the Margaret Thatcher toughness.” [snip]

McAuliffe believes the Republicans are being soft on Obama because they are scared of Clinton: “Didn’t Karl Rove [former White House adviser to President Bush] write a memo to Barack Obama on how to beat Hillary? What on earth was that all about?

“Republicans are terrified of Clinton as the nominee. We’re already ahead in 11 [Republican] states, and all we’ve got to do is win Ohio. We haven’t even begun to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars we’ll have to get her positive message out. What more are they going to say about this woman? We’ve heard it all before and we’re still beating them.” By the time the Republicans have finished firing at each other, many of their candidates are going to be seriously wounded. The exception could be McCain, the Arizona senator and former Vietnamese prisoner of war, whose implosion over the summer led his overconfident, better-financed rivals to patronise him as a great American hero. They built him back up, when they might still have been knocking him down. [snip]

For a truly Happy New Year just remember 2008 marks the end of the Bush presidency.


Hillary Clinton: Tested And Ready

Barack Obama typically copies the Hillary Clinton for president campaign – except in one glaring area.

Hillary Clinton established separately from the official campaign website, a pioneering website called The Fact Hub to immediately fact check lies about Hillary. Obama followed and got his version of a fact check site too.

Obama has a “Hillary Attacks” website which is supposed to track “attacks” made on Obama. Hillary has an innovative website called “AttackTimeline” which documents that it was Obama and Edwards which initiated the negative attack tactics in the Democratic Presidential campaign. The AttackTimeline website also keeps track of all new attacks directed at Hillary.

Hillary has a website called The Hillary I Know. The Hillary I Know website has testimonials from “those who know her best”. Over 40 people testify on video about Hillary. Betsy Ebeling has known Hillary since the sixth grade. Other testimonials come from the famous and not so famous who have known Hillary for years and years and years.

There is however no “The Barack/Barry I Know” equivalent website for Obama.

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Where are the Obama testimonials?

And we don’t mean a testimonial from this indicted slumlord:

Indicted slumlord Antoin Rezko with long-time friend and financial investment Barack Obama

In an earlier discussion, the lack of any testimonials for Barack Obama was noted [link added]:

MollyJ, you make a good point when you write

I would never say that the impressions of a 9 year old weren’t important, we all know that these a formative years, for example, when kids are getting their view of the world–like, for example, what things matter, or what peoples matter, or what gender/ethnic group/age group matters.

Jeffrey Dahmer, to take an extreme example, developed many of his murderous, cannabalistic ways during his formative years. We know this about Dahmer because there have been many studies of him, court ordered examinations and in depth interviews with Dahmer and his father and familiy. There have also been close examinations of what Dahmer did day-to-day.

Hillary developed her hardworking, caring personality during those formative years too. We know this because there are many witnesses who knew her back then. These people are still alive and they testify to her life story. There are thousands of books written about her and tens of thousands of articles going back decades.

Obama developed his personality during those years too – but what were they?

We don’t know anything about this guy. Suppose that what Obama learned, as a privileged American living abroad in a very poor country, was to charm and lie his way through life, to tell people what they want to hear, to believe the compliments that came his way and developed a narcissistic world view. A world view that informed him that all that mattered was himself and what he wants and that no one else matters as long as he gets what he wants. Suppose.

Where are the character witnesses for this guy? How come there are no interviews of “the Barry I knew” when he was 6. No interviews from anyone in the community he “organized”. If Obama was a community organizer, how come there have not been televised profiles of people in the community? How come there are no surrogates at his rallies that say things like “I remember when Barry was a community organizer and such and such happened and he did such and such and that’s why I support him.”?

Isn’t this total lack of “presence” of people from his past a red flag?

The interviews we have read, not seen televised anywhere, dispute what Obama has written. Why haven’t TV stations interview the Altgeld (sp?) activists that have a completely different take on what Obama did as a community organizer than what Obama says he did as a community organizer?

Who is this guy?

What do we know about him? We know very little. The New York Times has raised some questions which were never answered.

Less than two months after ascending to the United States Senate, Barack Obama bought more than $50,000 worth of stock in two speculative companies whose major investors included some of his biggest political donors.

One of the companies was a biotech concern that was starting to develop a drug to treat avian flu. In March 2005, two weeks after buying about $5,000 of its shares, Mr. Obama took the lead in a legislative push for more federal spending to battle the disease.

The most recent financial disclosure form for Mr. Obama, an Illinois Democrat, also shows that he bought more than $50,000 in stock in a satellite communications business whose principal backers include four friends and donors who had raised more than $150,000 for his political committees. [snip]

Even so, the stock purchases raise questions about how he could unwittingly come to invest in two relatively obscure companies, whose backers happen to include generous contributors to his political committees. Among those donors was Jared Abbruzzese, a New York businessman now at the center of an F.B.I. inquiry into public corruption in Albany, who had also contributed to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that sought to undermine John Kerry’s Democratic presidential campaign in 2004.

Mr. Obama, who declined to be interviewed about the stock deals, has already had to contend with a controversy that arose out of his reliance on a major campaign contributor in Chicago to help him in a personal financial transaction. In that earlier case, he acknowledged last year that it had been a mistake to involve the contributor, a developer who has since been indicted in an unrelated political scandal, in deals related to the Obamas’ purchase of a home.

Michelle, has profited handsomely too from Obama’s entangled finances:

His wife, Michelle, a hospital vice president in Chicago, received a promotion that March, nearly tripling her salary to $317,000, and they bought a $1.6 million house in June. The house sat on a large property that was subdivided to make it more affordable, and one of Mr. Obama’s political donors bought the adjacent lot.

The disclosure forms show that the Obamas also placed several hundred thousand dollars in a new private-client account at JPMorgan Chase, a bond fund and a checking account at a Chicago bank.

But he put $50,000 to $100,000 into an account at UBS, which his aides say was recommended to him by a wealthy friend, George W. Haywood, who was also a major investor in both Skyterra and AVI BioPharma, public securities filings show.

Mr. Haywood and his wife, Cheryl, have contributed close to $50,000 to Mr. Obama’s campaigns and to his political action committee, the Hopefund. Mr. Haywood declined to comment.

Within two weeks of his purchase of the biotech stock that Feb. 22, Mr. Obama initiated what he has called “one of my top priorities since arriving in the Senate,” a push to increase federal financing to fight avian flu.

Lots of questions, never an answer.

Lots of questions about Michelle, never an answer.

We know practically nothing about Obama, other than what he has written himself – and that is in many respects crafted, bogus, fiction.

We can’t keep track of his made up stories, big and small.

Traveling in Iowa today U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., conducted a phone interview with Douglas Burns of Iowa Independent and the Carroll Daily Times Herald. Here is the exchange with the Democratic presidential candidate:

Iowa Independent: You’ve never travelled to continental Europe as far as I can tell. And if elected …

Obama: “No. No. No. That’s not accurate to say. What you’re saying is I haven’t taken a congressional delegation. I have not made an official trip. I’ve travelled through Europe extensively, and in fact, on my way back from Russia met with Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street with Senator Lugar the then chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Barack Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod tells Iowa Independent that his candidate is “well traveled.” This comes after an interview with Obama in which the Illinois senator and Democratic presidential candidate discussed foreign policy and his experience in Europe.

Iowa Independent: He’s been to Europe more than once?

Axelrod: Yeah, he’s very well traveled.

In the interview in Carroll, Axelrod made the case that Obama’s experiences and broad worldview equip him well for the presidency.

“I think that if you’d speak to people who aren’t running against him and asked them about his grasp, his knowledge, of the world, they would say it’s first-rate,” Axelrod said in an interview before Obama’s speech. “That’s why he’s got so much of the foreign policy establishment, particularly the group that opposed the war in Iraq, all gravitating to him. They understand we need to change not just the war but the mentality that led to it.”

Iowa Independent asked the Obama campaign for a more detailed accounting of Obama’s travels in Europe, both in an official capacity and as a private citizen. Nearly 48 hours later, we have not received any such information.

But evidence of a “well traveled Obama” is non-existent:

Doubts about Barack Obama’s presidential credentials have crystallized during the past two weeks over his stewardship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on European Affairs, which has convened no policy hearings since he took over as its chairman last January. That startling fact, first uncovered by Steve Clemons, who blogs on the Washington Note, prompted acid comment in Europe about the Illinois senator’s failure to visit the continent since assuming the committee post, and even speculation that he had never traveled there except for a short stopover in London. [snip]

“I’ve traveled extensively in Europe … I love Europe,” Obama told the Iowa Independent Web site a couple of days ago. But as Clemons noted on the Washington Note, the Obama campaign has not provided much detail on his European experiences and itineraries so far.

Those details are readily available, as indicated in a Chicago Tribune profile of Obama, which covered his 2005 senatorial trip to examine nuclear sites in Russia with Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., then the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. That story, whose deeper theme was Obama’s tutelage in foreign affairs, mentioned that he had traded his blue tourist passport — “which he had taken across Asia, Australia and Africa as well as most of Europe” — for a burgundy-colored passport that identifies him as an official of the U.S. government.

If Obama wants to show where he has been, he merely has to release his passport records. Then everyone would know that his boast about traveling extensively in Europe is true — even if this year he didn’t have time to convene a hearing on the momentous issues affecting our relations with that continent and the world.

As we have noted repeatedly, Obama’s “autobiographies” are of dubious veracity.

Obama changed names of real people, created composite characters and re-created conversations in his best-selling memoir. [snip]

Times staff writer Peter Wallsten raised the question in his story of whether Obama took too much credit in helping residents of Altgeld Gardens fight the Chicago Housing Authority over asbestos removal in the South Side complex in the 1980s. The paper headlined the piece ”Fellow activists say Obama’s memoir has too many I’s.”

Obama, 45, is hoping to dilute questions about his experience by arguing that the totality of his career — from community organizer to state senator to the U.S. Senate — should count, and not just his last two years in Washington. [snip]

Obama disclosed in his introduction that he used literary devices to buttress his recollections. He also kept a journal. In August 2004 I wrote a column about Obama’s use of literary license in Dreams and concluded: ”Except for public figures and his family, it is impossible to know who is real and who is not. . . .

“Colorful characters populate the Chicago chapters: Smitty the barber, LaTisha, the part-time manicurist, Angela, Ruby, Mrs. Turner and one Rafiq al Shabazz. Who they really are, or if they are composites, you would not know from reading the book.” [snip]

The Times article quotes Altgeld resident and community activist Hazel Johnson. My colleague, Sun-Times political writer Scott Fornek, interviewed her in 2004 and again on Monday.

Fornek reports that Johnson, 72, objects to Obama taking credit for helping force the CHA to remove asbestos at Altgeld Gardens. Johnson has not read Obama’s book. She said he played no role in the asbestos-removal fight. She said he did help get “angel hair,” another type of dangerous insulation, removed from attics in the complex’s row houses — and worked on public transportation issues and helped get a library built. ”He was not with us on the asbestos,” she said.

Have these people ever been interviewed on television? They certainly could not be used in any “Barry I know” website.

Obama obviously could not get testimonials from his constituents in Chicago – Not the ones who froze in winter.

You can’t even believe Obama about basketball:

That was big. Sixteen [years old]: I still remember the day that it first happened, one of those magical days when you’re just in a zone. … I was on the single-A team, and at the end of practice I was just raining down threes; I went and took a half-court shot and it went in. This friend of mine, Larry Tavares — I still remember, but of course he wouldn’t — he was shagging balls for me and I said, ‘You know what? I bet I can dunk today; I’m feeling good.’ and I took it and went … (he mimics throwing a ball down). I did it about two more times, and that was about it.’

UPDATE: High school basketball veterans for truth! A reader points out that Obama’s basketball days seem to predate the three-point line, which was introduced in the NBA in 1979 and college ball in 1980, thought it had been floating around some marginal leagues before that. Obama was 16 in 1977. And no three-point line in this excellent video, which I hadn’t seen before, of him (#23) playing high school ball. Pending a contemporary picture of his Hawaii court, though, the jury is going to remain out on this particular item of trivia. As long as his claim to have thrown away his trophies in an anti-war protest proves out …

Yes, lying about basketball:

So, first, nobody is actually alleging shocking untruth in the undramatic tale of Obama’s recollection of “raining down threes” as a 16-year-old.

But given the volume and detail in the e-mail I got about it (thanks!), I wanted to tie up the loose ends.

First, Mark Billingsley, an Obama supporter in California, did some homework:

Thomas Yoshida, the president of the Hawaii State Basketball Officials Association, said his state adopted the three-point line during the 1985-86 season, the same year that the National Federation of State High School Associations adopted it. All high schools in the nation were required to use it during that season. I asked him if it was possible that Hawaii high schools had a three-point line in use in the late 1970s or ’80s, and he said no.

Obama lied at Selma about the energy bill and about his own conception, he lies about his community organizer days. He lies about his health plan and “preconditions” and attacking Pakistan. He lies about basketball. Basketball.

Obama will eventually be vetted. The vetting will not be by Big Media. But the vetting will take place. Joe Conason notes:

But Obama and his supporters must cherish no illusions about what will happen to him if he vanquishes Clinton. He will need the same kind of armor that she has worn proudly for years. What the right likes best about him is that he doesn’t seem to own any.


Hillary Clinton Rising

[Sunday morning, Hillary Clinton on ABC’s This Week; BO on NBC’s Meet The Press; John Edwards on CBS’ Face The Nation; Chris Dodd and Joe Biden on CNN’s Late Edition.]

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The Concord Monitor endorses Hillary Clinton:

Immediately after taking office, President Hillary Clinton would begin preparations to withdraw American troops from Iraq.

She would send a message to world leaders that the United States intends to rejoin the community of nations.

She would make clear to federal employees that they must heed the Constitution.

She would reverse Bush-era policies that have harmed the environment.

She would quickly sign legislation supporting stem-cell research and expanding children’s health insurance.

She would lift the gag rule prohibiting international family planning programs from counseling poor women about abortion.

Many White House administrations start off slowly, as green presidents fumble through their early months, unsure how to bend Washington to their will. Come 2009, America will be unable to afford such squandered time.

Clinton’s ambitious to-do list for her first few weeks in office gives us confidence that her priorities are right and that she would act swiftly to make a positive difference. She is the Monitor’s choice in the Jan. 8 Democratic primary. [snip]

But Hillary Clinton’s unique combination of smarts, experience and toughness makes her the best choice to win the November election and truly get things done. Before embarking on an agenda of her or his own, the next American president will be forced to undo the damage of the Bush years: ending the war in Iraq, restoring habeas corpus rights, ending the use of torture, healing New Orleans, restoring America’s moral authority around the world.

A tall order – but not nearly enough. The next president must also take the lead on a serious effort to slow global warming, a rational policy on illegal immigration and a plan to provide health care to all Americans.

Clinton knows what she wants to accomplish. She knows how Washington works. She has forged alliances with unlikely political partners, and she has waged partisan fights on matters of principle. Her years as first lady and as a U.S. senator have put her at the center of key policy and political battles for a decade and a half. She is prepared for the job.

As first lady, Clinton acted as an American diplomat, meeting with foreign leaders across the globe on behalf of her husband and advocating for human rights. She was influential in shepherding the Family and Medical Leave Act into law. Her fumble on health care reform taught her much about the ways of Washington – and it is to her credit that universal health care remains her signature issue.

As a senator, Clinton has earned a reputation for pragmatic and sometimes creative hard work. She forged a bipartisan plan to expand health coverage to military veterans and their families. She helped secure critical federal assistance for Manhattan after the Sept. 11 attacks. By stalling the confirmation of President Bush’s FDA appointee, she gained over-the-counter access for the morning-after pill. Her work with Senate Republicans, including the leader of the impeachment prosecution against her husband, gives us confidence that the cartoon version of Hillary Clinton – as a leading actor in an exhaustingly partisan Washington soap opera – is a 1990s anachronism.

As a veteran of her own campaigns and her husband’s, and as a favorite target of Republicans, she has become a tough campaigner. Unlike John Kerry, she would not dither when the inevitable attacks came.

There are Democratic voters in New Hampshire and beyond who wish for a little more poetry from the guarded and highly disciplined Clinton. She can, after all, seem a relentless policy wonk, rather than an inspirational leader. But consider this: American men gave up their monopoly on the right to vote and hold public office in 1920. In the intervening 87 years, progress for women has been slow and uneven: A wage gap persists; reproductive freedom is constantly at risk; and in the 21 presidential contests since then, Americans have never even given serious consideration to voting for a woman.

The election of America’s first female president will show more than half the population – including millions of young girls – that their futures are not limited by their gender, that America has moved a little closer to its ideals of liberty and justice for all. There is plenty of inspiration in that.

In a talented field, Hillary Clinton has the right experience, the right agenda and the know-how to lead the country back to respect on the world stage and meaningful progress on long-neglected problems.

* * *

Barack Obama misrepresents newspaper assessements:

Sen. Barack Obama is touting his health care plan in an Iowa ad unveiled today, six days before the state’s caucuses. But the commercial misrepresents some newspaper assessments of the Illinois Democrat’s proposal.

The ad says the Obama plan “guarantees coverage for all Americans.” But the on-screen citation — from the St. Paul Pioneer Press — is truncated in a questionable way in comparing the proposal to those offered by Sen. Hillary Clinton and former senator John Edwards. The full quote reads: “Edwards and Clinton would require all Americans to have health insurance. Obama’s plan guarantees coverage for all Americans but does not require all to have it.”

“Experts say Obama’s plan is ‘the best,'” the narrator says, with an on-screen citation of the Iowa City Press Citizen. But the newspaper’s endorsement cites no experts and is not even comparing the proposal to the Clinton and Edwards prescriptions; the Press Citizen says it is the best alternative compared to a single-payer health system.

The commercial cites The Washington Post in claiming the Obama approach would be “saving $2,500 for the typical family.” The Post article said that “the senator’s aides estimated” such a savings but did not attempt to verify it.

While correctly citing the Daily Iowan, a college paper, in asserting that the Obama plan would put “pressure on insurance and pharmaceutical companies,” the ad also says the plan “cuts costs more than any other.” Obama’s staff contends that its estimate of cost savings exceeds those put forth by Clinton and Edwards, but that has not been independently corroborated.

The ad begins by declaring that “outside groups are spending millions to stop change, including false attacks on Barack Obama’s health plan.” The commercial shows a mock-up of a Tuesday article in The Post that reports on the influx of interest-group funds but says nothing about stopping “change” or “false attacks” on Obama.

Clinton’s campaign hastily convened a conference call with former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, who criticized the ad on grounds that Obama’s plan, unlike the New York senator’s, does not include a mandate requiring individuals to obtain insurance. Obama has questioned whether such mandates can be enforced.


More: Hillary Clinton Ready; Barack Obama Reckless

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton made a sensible proposal in the critical area of foreign policy, which Barack Obama immediately opposed:

Clinton also called for an independent, international investigation into Bhutto’s death, “perhaps along the lines of what the United Nations have been doing with respect to the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri in Lebanon.”

Obama said he doesn’t share that view.

“It is important to us to not give the idea that Pakistan is unable to handle its own affairs,” he said.

Obama proudly advocates a public policy of an attack on Pakistan by U.S. armed forces to root out “terrorists” if President Musharraf “won’t act”. But Obama opposes an investigation of Bhutto’s assassination.

Let’s repeat: Obama is advocating a public policy of military attack on Pakistan, but an “independent, international investigation into Bhutto’s death” Obama perceives as somehow unfair to Pakistan.

Why Obama thinks a military attack on Pakistan is at a lower threshold of Pakistan “unable to handle its own affairs” and therefore OK, but an “independent, international investigation” is violative of Pakistan ability “to handle its own affairs” is a mystery. Maybe it’s one of those “intuitive” foreign policy lessons Obama acquired as a six year old.

Hillary Clinton’s sensible proposal for an independent, international probe is consistent with respect for Pakistani sovereignty and interests:

“I’m calling for a full, independent, international investigation,” Clinton said in an interview with CNN.

“I think it’s critically important that we get answers and really those are due first and foremost to the people of Pakistan,” Clinton said.

The former first lady suggested the probe could be along the lines of the international investigation that followed the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005.

“I don’t think the Pakistani government at this time under President (Pervez) Musharraf has any credibility at all. They have disbanded an independent judiciary, they oppressed a free press.”

Obama meanwhile, presumably still not wanting to give the idea that Pakistan is unable to handle its own affairs called for imposition of his will on Pakistan:

Obama, campaigning in Williamsburg, Iowa, said Washington should cut military aid to Pakistan, until Musharraf embraced democracy, and said the US invasion of Iraq was a distraction from the “war on terror.”

“We’ve got to reverse policies, but we’ve got to see this in a bigger context which is that our invasion of Iraq resulted in us taking our eye off the ball,” Obama said.

“We should have been focused in Afghanistan, finishing off Al-Qaeda.”

While Democracy is a laudable goal, we don’t understand how forcing democracy on Musharraf and Pakistan by cutting off military aid is less intrusive than an independent international investigation into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Anyone? Can anyone explain how a cutoff of military aid, and a forced return to Democracy is less intrusive than an investigation?

Obama must have been off having a cigarette, or something, when his international relations class discussed Pakistan if he thinks a return to Democracy is as easy as he describes. We won’t even go into the ramifications of nuclear Pakistan left to go its own way if Musharraf decided to end the alliance with the United States.

Maybe Obama is not conversant with complexity, as a concept in general, or specifically with respect to Pakistan. Obama should be tutored that the military seized power in Pakistan in 1958, one year after it was founded. Pakistan’s problems are not due to Iraq. And Pakistan as a nuclear power (along with nuclear power India) cannot be ignored.

Several military dictatorships, only occasionally interrupted by civilian rule, have been the normal for Pakistan — General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s followed by General Musharraf, have ruled Pakistan for about 30 years. Benazir’s father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was the civilian president from 1972-1977 (killed in 1979 by dubious court order and replaced by Zia-ul-Haq. Zia-ul-Haq was killed in an airplane crash in 1988 and replaced by Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif traded the presidency for about a decade. In 1999 General Musharraf assumed powers in a military coup).

Pakistan has the sixth largest population in the world as well as the second biggest population of Muslims in the world. Tensions with neighbors India and Afghanistan and Pakistan’s geographic position (Central Asia meets Middle East) add to the complex puzzle which is the region.

Perhaps Obama’s problem is that he needs tutoring not only in the history of Pakistan but possibly in the history of Lebanon. We won’t provide Obama his needed education here, but we will give a brief description of what Hillary was talking about when she proposed an independent, international investigation into Bhutto’s death, “perhaps along the lines of what the United Nations have been doing with respect to the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri in Lebanon.”

Rafik Hariri was the Prime Minister of Lebanon from 1992 to 1998. On February 14, 2005 Hariri was assassinated. Much like the situation with Benazir Bhutto, Hariri was killed when explosives detonated killing him in his car. Again, like the Bhutto assassination there is a complex political situation with many suspects (Syria being a prime suspect) in the killing, a potential suicide bomber and a country wracked by years of turmoil. Immediately after Hariri’s killing there were all sorts of bogus government explanations and suspects.

Hariri’s killing, led to massive demonstrations in Lebanon, and eventually the politically forced withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. The killing also led to an international commission to investigate the assassination. The “Cedar Revolution” led to elections and some reforms. The “Cedar Revolution” continues to this day.

The point of this history lesson is that sensible people should support Hillary’s call for an independent international investigation of the Bhutto assassination. An independent international investigation could lead to a soft return to Democracy in Pakistan – not an American imposed, and soon to be resented, imposition of Democracy.

All sensible people should support the idea of an independent international investigation.

But, Obama is not sensible. Obama is reckless.

We need a sensible leader for a change.


Hillary Clinton Ready; Barack Obama Reckless

Obama Insults Pakistan

The coarse recklessness of Barack Obama and his Chicago henchmen was on full display yesterday.

As nuclear armed Pakistan lay on the knife’s edge, the Obama campaign decided to attempt the political assassination of Hillary Clinton. CNN summarized the Obama campaign posture as Did Hillary Clinton Kill Benazir Bhutto?

The attack on Hillary became necessary because Obama does not want his “judgment” on Pakistan examined. CNN recalled Obama’s Pakistan history, short as it is, by stating Obama might get his chance to fulfill a campaign promise to invade Pakistan were Pervez Musharraf to lose power in a coup.

Before the Bhutto assassination Hillary recognized her understanding of the job of president when she stated

“It’s not going to be easy, this job never is – it’s the hardest job in the world,” she said. “On Jan. 20, 2009, someone will raise his or her hand to take the oath of office in front of our capitol. And then that person will go to the Oval Office. And on the desk is the oval office will be a stack of problems.”

“I want you to ask yourself, who will be the best president? Who, if something happened that none of us can predict now, would be there able to respond and act on behalf of our country immediately? Who can use experience and qualifications and contacts and ideas and plans to get us moving together again? If you will go and stand up for me, I will stand up for you every single day in the White House,” she said.

* * *

What is the Obama history of diplomacy with regards to Pakistan? It can be summarized in one word: riots. Obama’s Big Speech on foreign policy led to American flag burnings and Obama and Bush and Tancredo burned in effigy in the streets of Pakistan.

In State of Emergency we detailed the Obama speech and the threat to Pakistan. American flags were burned in Pakistan shortly after Obama spoke. We noted that Obama’s remarks were not off-the-cuff remarks. Obama’s speech was worked on and massaged for weeks before he delivered it.

Burning Flag

In Judgment Matters we further discussed Obama’s reckless, long prepared speech on Pakistan.

We quoted Chris Dodd:

Over the past several days, Sen. Obama’s assertions about foreign and military affairs have been, frankly, confusing and confused. He has made threats he should not make and made unwise categorical statements about military options.

“We are facing a dangerous and complicated world. The next president will require a level of understanding and judgment unprecedented in American history to address these challenges.

We quoted Hillary:

The Illinois senator warned Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in a major foreign policy speech Wednesday that he would use U.S. military force in Pakistan even without Musharraf’s permission if necessary to root out terrorists.

Asked about Obama’s speech and his comments about nuclear weapons, Clinton chided her fellow senator about addressing hypotheticals.

Presidents should be very careful at all times in discussing the use or non-use of nuclear weapons. … I don’t believe that any president should make any blanket statements with respect to the use or non-use of nuclear weapons,” Clinton said.

Asked about the notion of unilateral U.S. military action in Pakistan to get al-Qaida leadership: “How we do it should not be telegraphed or discussed for obvious reasons.”

Pakistan has nuclear weapons and is politically unstable, raising concerns that the current military leadership could be replaced by religious fanatics who would be less cautious in using the weapons.

We quoted Bill Richardson:

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, in a telephone interview, said that Obama’s threat, if acted upon, could inflame the entire Muslim world. “My international experience tells me that we should address this issue with tough diplomacy first with Musharraf and then leave the military option as a last resort,” he said.

We quoted Joe Biden:

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) called Obama’s threat misguided. “The way to deal with it is not to announce it, but to do it,” Biden said at the National Press Club. “The last thing you want to do is telegraph to the folks in Pakistan that we are about to violate their sovereignty.”

We quoted the Chicago Tribune:

It’s a very irresponsible statement, that’s all I can say,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khusheed Kasuri told AP Television News. “As the election campaign in America is heating up we would not like American candidates to fight their elections and contest elections at our expense.”

Obama’s threat to attack the territory of a Muslim ally without the consent of its government also could have broader ramifications for his standing in international Islamic public opinion.

Obama immediately began to lie about what he had said and began to smear the other candidates.

Obama changed the words of his speech while accusing Senator Dodd of not having read the speech. In his speech Obama threatened Pakistan by saying if Musharraf “won’t act” we will. This was the Bush equivalent of ‘you are either with us or against us.’ Obama then, changed his words from “won’t act” to “cannot act” (see the transcript above) and has the audacity to insult Senator Dodd and accuse Dodd of either not having read Obama’s bomb of a speech or of mistating what Obama was saying. In other words, Obama the liar, was calling Senator Dodd a liar.

Obama then accused Senator Clinton of trying to somehow silence a discussion with the American people when what she was actually saying was that Obama should watch his mouth because as a presidential candidate his words can harm the United States. The American flag burnings in Pakistan and the threats of martial law in Pakistan are ample proof that Senator Clinton was correct.

David Shuster exposed Obama’s lies.

Bill and Hillary Clinton know the dangers posed by Pakistan and have worked with deft diplomacy to push for change, yet not further destabilize the region.

Hillary knows the life and death consequences of words and actions. Unlike Obama, Hillary has traveled to Pakistan and knows the region well. Hillary respected Benazir Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto respected Hillary:

A few years later, after Mrs. Clinton had become first lady and Ms. Bhutto had become prime minister, Ms. Bhutto held a luncheon in Pakistan in Mrs. Clinton’s honor. The guests included several other high-powered women.

Mrs. Clinton, who described Ms. Bhutto as “brilliant and striking,” said the prime minister led a discussion about the changing roles of women in Pakistan and told a joke about her husband’s status as first spouse.

“According to newspapers in Pakistan,” Ms. Bhutto said, “Mr. Asif Zardari is de facto prime minister of the country. My husband tells me, ‘Only the first lady can appreciate it’s not true.’”

Mrs. Clinton apparently found in her a kindred spirit.

“Bhutto acknowledged the difficulties faced by women who were breaking with tradition and taking leading roles in public life,” she wrote. “She deftly managed to refer both to the challenges I had encountered during my White House tenure and to her own situation. ‘Women who take on tough issues and stake out new territory are often on the receiving end of ignorance,’ she concluded.”

Now is not the time for reckless Obama “leadership”. Schoolboy bluster we already get from Bush.

We Need A Leader For A Change.


Hillary Clinton Ready To Lead A World In Turmoil

Ready To Lead on Day 1

Statement of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on the Death of Benazir Bhutto:

“I am profoundly saddened and outraged by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, a leader of tremendous political and personal courage. I came to know Mrs. Bhutto over many years, during her tenures as Prime Minister and during her years in exile. Mrs. Bhutto’s concern for her country, and her family, propelled her to risk her life on behalf of the Pakistani people. She returned to Pakistan to fight for democracy despite threats and previous attempts on her life and now she has made the ultimate sacrifice. Her death is a tragedy for her country and a terrible reminder of the work that remains to bring peace, stability, and hope to regions of the globe too often paralyzed by fear, hatred, and violence.

“Let us pray that her legacy will be a brighter, more hopeful future for the people she loved and the country she served. My family and I extend our condolences and deepest sympathies to the victims and their families and to the people of Pakistan.”


The Great Awakening

Sean Wilentz continues to survey the river of delusion running across certain segments of the American population.

Forget experience: Opinion-slingers are mooning over Barack Obama’s instincts. Don’t they remember how badly that worked out last time?

Every now and then in American politics, normally balanced people get swept up by delusions of greatness about a presidential candidate, based on an emotional attachment to the candidate’s oratory or image. The youthful William Jennings Bryan brought down the house and swept up the nomination with his famous “Cross of Gold” speech at the Democratic National Convention in 1896–only to be crushed by the dreary William McKinley in November.

Political journalists have never been immune to the delusional style. But editorialists and pundits are supposed to be skeptical experts, who at least try to appear as if they base their perceptions in facts and reality. Enthusiasm for a candidate because of his or her “intuitive sense of the world,” “intuitive understanding,” and discovery of “identity”–the favored terms in some recent press endorsements of Barack Obama–is presented as the product of such discerning, well-considered thinking. But it is in fact nothing more than enthusiasm, based on feelings and projections that are unattached to verifiable rational explanation or the public record.

In recent years, pundits from across the political spectrum–and not just in politics–have denigrated informed and reasoned decision-making in favor of hunches, snap judgments, instincts, and what the upscale middlebrow’s favorite trendspotter, Malcolm Gladwell, defends as “instant intuition.” The political pundits have praised candidates based on their projections about the candidates’ characters, personalities, and inner lives–and what they imagine about the candidates’ instincts. Possessed by a will to believe in somebody, the pundits intuit intuition. It is the delusional style in American punditry.

The style was particularly prominent during George W. Bush’s rise to the presidency. Although Bush had a thin record on domestic matters as governor of Texas, no record whatsoever on foreign policy, and things to hide about his past, none of it mattered. As president, he has asked the American people to trust him because of his faith in himself and his God-given instincts–what he calls his “gut.” For years, the Washington press corps was bowled over by such self-assurance. Having decided that the wonkish, reasonable Al Gore was boring and inauthentic, reporters covered Bush as a centered man with superb intuition.

Wilentz cites the Boston Globe endorsement of Obama as “an ideal specimen of the delusional style…” Wilentz harpoons the bloated fish that pretends to be a whale by additionally noting that Dreams From My Father, the first, or is it the second, Obama autobiography is crafted from “composite characters and other fictionalized elements…”

Fareed Zakaria, David Brooks, Karl Rove and former Rove deputy Peter Wehner are likewise dumped by Wilentz into the “deluded” bin.

Joining the fight for rationality is Joe Conason.

In the weeks since Karl Rove offered his unsolicited advice on how to defeat Hillary Clinton in the pages of the Financial Times, right-wing expressions of support for Barack Obama have become increasingly conspicuous and voluble. Although often couched in high-flown moral terms that accept the Illinois senator’s definition of himself as a fresh and unsullied figure, his Republican endorsers cannot quite conceal their underlying animus.

They hate Hillary Clinton and they think he just might be able to beat her.

Exactly why the American right hates the Clintons so fervidly remains a subject of debate among both political scientists and psychiatrists, but the persistence of those emotions is beyond dispute, especially among commentators and activists with little actual exposure to Hillary Clinton herself. (Evidently her conservative colleagues in the Senate have developed warmer feelings for the first lady they once demonized, but that’s another topic.) So powerful is their fury that they will not hesitate to promote the career of a liberal black politician whose background and religious affiliation they regard with suspicion. Of course, they’re also quite confident that they can bring him down later, too.

For the moment, at least, he is their shining hero. That is why the Weekly Standard ran a cover story in early December that provided a swooning rehash of Obama’s life story and a series of masterful scenes from the campaign trail. (“He sounds like a man who knows what he’s talking about and knows what he wants to do. There are no questions that catch him off guard, no issues he hasn’t considered.”) Written by Stephen Hayes, the admiring biographer of Dick Cheney and perhaps the last journalist on earth who still believes that Saddam Hussein was allied with al-Qaida, the flattering Obama profile raises none of the expected concerns over his eagerness to negotiate with the Iranians and other enemies of democracy. Why spoil the moment?

The wind behind that Hayes puff blew up into a bilious gust last week when William Kristol endorsed Obama in an editorial titled “Time to Move On … From Hillary,” urging Democrats to prevent the return of the Clintons to the center stage of American politics. He worked himself up into a lather of fake indignation over the clumsy attacks on Obama in recent days by Bill Shaheen, Bob Kerrey and Mark Penn. So did George Will, whose column excoriating Hillary Clinton invoked a very tired comparison with Nixon.

Conosen understands Obama is “merely another weapon to be deployed” in the right wing attempts to defeat the only Democrats that have defeated them – Bill and Hillary Clinton.

But nobody should imagine that the right-wing media whose voices now praise Obama will continue to do so if he wins the Democratic nomination, or that the mainstream media, which still takes so many cues from the right, will do likewise. The conservative movement’s affection for any Democrat is always fickle and flimsy. Its assessment of any black Democrat, let alone a presidential nominee, is more likely to reflect the bigoted crudeness of Limbaugh than the manufactured erudition of Will. (And we can expect to see many more cartoons like this one.)

Should Obama hope to continue to enjoy his free ride, he should consult his old mentor Joe Lieberman, the senator from Connecticut who used to be a Democrat. Conservative commentators and right-wing media outlets always loved Lieberman for his willingness to echo their talking points on subjects such as school vouchers and Social Security privatization. When he agreed to join the Democratic ticket as Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, the Weekly Standard and the National Review, among others, suddenly discovered how despicable Lieberman actually was. Having abandoned the Democrats altogether, he is now fully rehabilitated.

But Obama and his supporters must cherish no illusions about what will happen to him if he vanquishes Clinton. He will need the same kind of armor that she has worn proudly for years. What the right likes best about him is that he doesn’t seem to own any.

Paul Krugman again and again sounds the “wake up” alarums:

First, does it make sense, in the current political and economic environment, for Democrats to lump unions in with corporate groups as examples of the special interests we need to stand up to?

Second, is Mr. Obama saying that if nominated, he’d be willing to run without support from labor 527s, which might be crucial to the Democrats? If not, how does he avoid having his own current words used against him by the Republican nominee?

Part of what happened here, I think, is that Mr. Obama, looking for a stick with which to beat an opponent who has lately acquired some momentum, either carelessly or cynically failed to think about how his rhetoric would affect the eventual ability of the Democratic nominee, whoever he or she is, to campaign effectively. In this sense, his latest gambit resembles his previous echoing of G.O.P. talking points on Social Security.

In yet another article these past few days, Krugman places Obama’s ugly campaign in historical context:

Have you seen or heard about the radio ad that Obama is running in Iowa about health care?

It has a man and a woman talking, with the man leading off saying that health care mandates “force those who cannot afford health care insurance to buy it, punishing those who don’t fall in line.”

This is what I’ve been complaining about. I was willing to cut Obama slack on the lack of mandates in his plan, even though the economics says they’re necessary; I figured that in practice, if elected, he’d end up doing the right thing.*

I started ramping up the criticism when he started attacking his opponents from the right, making the lack of mandates a principle rather than a compromise — because that was poisoning the well, making it much harder for any future Democratic president to implement a plan that will work.

And whaddya know, now he’s running an ad that bears a striking resemblance to the infamous “Harry and Louise” ads, run by the insurance industry, that helped block health care reform in 1993.

Call it the audacity of cynicism.

Slowly but surely the forces of rationality are growing more numerous and getting louder. They are sounding the alarm. We are sounding the alarm.

In eight days, in the cornfields and the cities and the towns of Iowa, rationality will confront idolatry and Big Media power.

After 7 Bush years, it’s long past time for a great awakening of rationality and a return to sanity.


Pink Christmas

Yesterday, we read a comment from Texan4Hillary, which will serve as our Christmas Day post:

One year ago on December 25th my grandmother, a real trailblazer in America, passed away at 93. She was born when women had no vote. She worked for the army during the war as a librarian who would round up books for soldiers requesting their favorite titles. SHe had to wear a uniform and was mandated to wear a skirt. After the war I have found very few times did she again wear a skirt! She was a fiery strong woman, a real Democrat-not like so many so called democrats today. She was pro-union-and distrusted anyone who questioned unions. She always said that any poltician who would throw a union under the bus is not to be trusted.

Her first vote was for FDR as NY guv. She never voted for one republican in her entire life. We were reaise don the mantra-never trust the gop, they always leave a mess for the dems to clean up. n the depression millions were left in the cold-banks crashed, no work. She never forgave Hoover or the GOP. She was a FDR democrat.

Her mind was a razor-one week before her passing she still read the paper and let the dr.’s office know what a criminal Bush was. SHe did not much care for many of today’s dems-she did not think they fought hard enough for working folks like they did in the 30s. She was form the greatest generation-her brother was a decoder during the war, she in the army working at various forts for the troops at home and overseas. She liked Hillary-for Hillary is a feriocious fighter for Demcoratic princepals. My grandmother loved Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan et here in Texas.

Grandmother was a historian. She said FDR, Truman, and LBJ were greats because they improved the lives of the invisible. To be honest she was not wild about Bill Clinton-but she said Hillary could be a great president. Why? Her theory was that Hillary had more experience to be presidnet-she worked in the WHte house, traveled the globe, formed major policy, and knew congress and the white house well. She thought Bill came in without the experience he needed and nearly lost his presidnency and did lose great amounts of his agenda.

Grandmother loved Carter-she said he was the most honest president america had in 50yrs. But she also thought he was perhaps too honest and paid a huge price when things went south.

Grandmother loved Gore-and said it was a catastrophe when the court stole the election.

She often fought republicans-in the face. Her typical arguement would be-”you complain about big govt, but you take ss and medicare right? you hate dems but have no qualms taking your benefits? You hate the Clintons yet have prospered more than ever in your life? Dont hate the dems-without their reforms you would have no safety net, no safe place to put your money etc.. ”

She always voted-I mean always. She worked to reform the democratic party in the south in the 50s. I know her spirit will be with Hillary this election!

Yesterday, we also received a communication from one of our long-time readers.

Our reader received a phone call in response to a Christmas card she had sent to the daughter of a long time friend. It seems her long time friend, now 95 years old is in a hospice. The daughter could not be with her mother on Christmas but would be there later in the week. Our reader jumped into action.

Driving a distance she visited with her long time friend. Our reader regaled her infirm friend with tales of younger days. They recalled easier times. They caught up with old neighborhood gossip. They discussed the dollar value of homes purchased long ago for many less dollars.

Then they discussed the first woman president. It turns out that the body might be weak but the mind is still strong and sharp. A strong Hillary supporter. Offered a pink Hillary Is 44 button, at 95 she still insisted on pinning it on herself.

There is a 95 year old Hillary supporter in a hospice tonight. Soon she will get her absentee ballot. She’ll vote for the first woman president in the primaries. She hopes to vote for the next woman president in the general election.

Tonight the 95 year old Hillary supporter wears a pink button and waits for another chance to help make history.


Santa, Baby

Santa, baby…. please…. we know what we want. Now do your job.

First of all Santa, we apologize for communicating with you so late in the season and day. We have been extraordinarily busy of late. We have forwarded this communication to you not only via United States Postal Service but via email as well. We hope all is well with you.

As we understand it Santa, in order to comply with wish requests you have a system to determine classification and eligibility of gifts by the requestor. You have “a list”. You check that “list” twice to verify the accuracy of the information therein. (For the record, we have a “list” too and Obama is on it). You then Santa, verify through past actions the record of the person on the “list” to classify and verify whether that person has been “naughty or nice”.

Santa, it appears you are quite through in your analysis. You take into account the totality of the person, their full experience. Apparently your analytical skills are at such a heightened level of alert that you are able to determine at any moment whether the target of your analysis is “sleeping” or “awake”.

After your analysis you classify the person requesting a gift as either being “naughty or nice” – your first major filter – you then make a final determination and classify the person as “good” or “bad”.

Santa, we are requesting a change of procedure regarding how our gift request is handled. Although we have been exceptionally good this year Santa we do not believe you should waste your precious time bothering with us. No need to worry about who or what we are – what matters is what we write and what we request. Are we telling the truth Santa? Are our facts accurate Santa?

What we want and what we do is not about us. Don’t bother checking our histories or who our pictures reference or really anything about us. This is not about us. This is about something much bigger.

As we just wrote Santa, this is not about us. This is about a lot of lives and what kind of world we want to live in. Santa, please look at what we write and analyze whether we are telling the truth or not.

The truth is Santa, that where you live – by anecdotal evidence the North Pole, the polar ice caps are melting. You might soon not have a place to call home. The world is in turmoil all around this wonderful globe you traverse every Christmas eve. The people of the country we live in, the United States, are besieged by a criminal gang which runs the country.

The people of the United States deserve better Santa. The people of the United States are good people. However Santa, the people of the United States are not only oppressed by the criminal gang running the country – the people of the United States are further oppressed by a thing called the Big Media Party which does not inform but rather is pushing their own agenda for their own purposes and power. We can’t really in one quick letter explain it all Santa, you will have to get a fuller story from doing your own investigation. We recommend our website http://www.HillaryIs44.org, as well as http://www.DailyHowler.org, and http://www.MediaMatters.org.

What we propose Santa is that you investigate, not us, but the recipient of our gift request.

The recipient of our proposed gift Santa is one Hillary Clinton (she has a middle name but for reasons too long to explain here, involving another candidate, there is a current ban on the use of middle names).

For comparative purposes Santa, reference this article about a person who shamelessly attacks unions, deceives on Social Security and is hurting the need for change to a UNIVERSAL health care system. Big Blogs Santa are joining this creature in his campaign of lies. We’ll have more about all this Santa, after Christmas, and beyond Santa. (For now, we think you should leave a lump of coal in his stockings, Santa).

Here is an example of the kind of person Hillary Clinton is and what she wants to do for the United States:

Look at all the great things she wants to do Santa. Also Santa read what the Quad City Times, an Iowa newspaper says about her:

Hillary Clinton passes test after test after test. This Clinton arrived for the caucus campaign with much, much more experience than the first Clinton to stump across Iowa. In campaign speeches and in an interview with the Times Editorial Board, she spoke passionately of people — specific, real people — whose stories drive her desire to solve problems. “I was brought up to believe we were the problem solvers,” she told the editorial board. “If it was hard, that meant America would do it.”

This Clinton hasn’t shied away from problems.

As first lady, she stepped far beyond the traditional role and took on a major policy issue: health care. Washington special interests villified her for trying, branding any reform “socialized medicine” and even giving it her name: “Hillarycare.”

Regardless, she persevered, becoming an advocate for children worldwide and pioneering the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which has survived Republican and Democrat Congresses.

She passed perhaps the toughest personal test. Many Americans stand up for the sanctity of marriage. Hillary Clinton did something much harder. She very publicly stood up for her own marriage. [snip]

In the Senate, she’s worked across party lines to pass test after test and earn this testimonial: “This blue-state senator with a blue-state perspective has managed to build unusual political alliances on a variety of issues with Republicans.” That commendation was written for Time magazine by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who led the impeachment prosecution against her husband.

We tested her, too, in our editorial board interview, looking for evidence of the partisan rancor that is destroying our country. We found none. Instead, we found a proven, passionate, intelligent leader with a breadth of legislative and executive experience that is the best of a good bunch.

For Iowa’s Democratic caucuses, we support Hillary Clinton.

Check her history Santa. Don’t restrict yourself to just the past year. Go back 35 years and you will see the quality of this person. 35 years Santa – a lifetime of work and experience.

Here is another endorsement, Santa:

The stakes are incredibly high. The next president of the United States will inherit a seeming endless war in Iraq and a growing divide in this country between the haves and have nots.

Too many Americans lack access to affordable health care. America’s school districts are tethered to a questionable education policy that is No Child Left Behind. We refer to it as too-few-children-allowed-to-excel because it’s a one-size-fits-all policy when school districts across the country are vastly different, from district to district, facing unique challenges that the bureaucrats in Washington will never see or completely understand.

They need to be unleashed from those restraints so more resources can be applied to the classroom.

Most Americans don’t fully comprehend the complexities of the immigration problem, instead ceding to the notion that hordes of citizens from Mexico and Central American are sneaking across our border in the dark of night solely to steal our jobs and infect our schools with drugs and gangs.

The nation’s economy is headed toward an unstoppable recession, if you believe three former Treasury secretaries.

The plate will be full for the next occupant of the Oval Office, and it’s a job that will have to start even before the inaugural balls are over.

Of the impressive group of Democratic candidates, the one who rises above the others at this moment in the nation’s history is New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. [snip]

Vetted perhaps more than any woman in history, Clinton demonstrates the resiliency and tenacity needed in a president, especially one who will inherit the challenges the current administration will leave behind.

In person, she’s calculated yet personable. On issues, she’s not a clone of her husband. She’s an independent thinker with progressive ideas.

She promises that the days of secret eavesdropping and violations of other civil liberties ends on inauguration day. She promotes a reasonable approach to ending the war in Iraq and developing peace through partnership in the region. She honed her extensive international experience as first lady, traveling to more than 80 countries.

She finds it “galling” that American tax dollars help fund a first-class health-care plan for the wealthy members of Congress, while 47 million Americans go without access to decent health care. We’ll take her word that she’ll fix that, and that the wealthiest nation in the world will provide access to health care for those of little or modest means.

She sees the federal government as a partner with states and local schools in ensuring quality education.

Can she win? Polls show a dead heat in Iowa, and there are many undecided Democrats. Still, Democrats in the state would be selecting a proven leader with the skill sets necessary for our next president by caucusing for Hillary Clinton.

Santa, we are not beauty contest contestants so we won’t wish for “world peace” and “good will to all men and women”. We’ll be much more practical.

We also know that we can’t ask for you to make Hillary Clinton the next president, that would be undemocratic and unworthy of us. We’ll work to elect Hillary Clinton as the 44th president. We also won’t be sly and ask you to give Hillary Clinton the keys to tenancy of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, that would be a trick that we have found out from reading a lot of “Genie in the lamp” stories that would probably backfire somehow.

No Santa, we want to use your skills. Obviously Santa you not only have an impressive information gathering process and analysis operation but most importantly for us you have an incredible information DISTRIBUTION system.

So Santa baby, our idea is that you break through the Big Media Party blockade of good Hillary Clinton news. The polls are good Santa (check this poll which has Hillary leading strongly in Iowa 34% to 20% to 19%) and Hillary Clinton is a great candidate. But Americans need that information NOW, especially in Iowa.

Santa, Baby, get that information to Iowans. Use that incredible information system of yours to shove that information through chimneys past the Big Media Party blockade. Use whatever instruments you find acceptable. Use those great labor unions Santa. You must have connections with them. We are sure you run a union shop.

Help us get the information out Santa. Use that “Christmas magic” at maximum.

Santa, Baby, the time is now.


Season Of Peace

For nonbelievers the Winter solstice brings the scientific fact of spaceship earth returning to the Sun’s ascent and the promise of longer hours of lifegiving light. The alignment of bright stars in Orion’s belt with the massive dogstar Sirius in northern skies brings the promise of rebirth with the eventual Spring embrace.

For believers, various celebrations are observed and encapsulated in the circular wreaths of evergreen.

It was therefore, during this Season of Peace, discouraging to see open warfare has blasted forth, dogs of war let loose, among partisans of Obama and Edwards. Therefore we rouse ourselves as peacemakers, ready with a modest proposal to bring peace to these warring camps.

Fellas, just admit that you are both hypocrites and stop the fighting.

* * *

The warfare started with perplexing statements from Obama. Obama after failed wooing of national labor unions now professes shock that organized labor leverages workers and financing to those candidates it deems worthy of endorsement.

Is Obama stating that if he were ever to get the Democratic nomination he would forgo assistance from organized labor and other Democratic allies? No more meetings in labor union halls? No phone banks communicating to Americans in favor of the Democratic nominee? We are perplexed.

This was the sad Obama statement denouncing Democratic allies:

“Right now groups supporting Hillary Clinton and John Edwards are flooding Iowa and the other early states with millions of dollars in paid ads, phone calls, and mailings. Some of it is negative and even deceptive, and a lot of it is paid for by huge, unregulated contributions from special interests. Taking on these groups isn’t just a matter of setting the record straight about me or my positions. It’s about proving that a new kind of campaign — funded by ordinary people who want something better for all of us — can defeat the same tired, old political textbook that so many Americans just don’t trust anymore.”

Those “groups” Obama bemoans for action in support of Democrats are the strongest of Democratic allies – labor unions and organizations such as EMILY’s List. What did Obama think endorsements are for? Is Obama telling the Culinary Workers Union in Nevada to shove off? We are perplexed.

Things became sadder still when a dreaded “527” group, announced a big advertising push in Iowa for Edwards.

An independent group linked to Senator John Edwards is planning a burst of more than $750,000 in planned television spending, according to details from a rival campaign. [snip]

The “Alliance for a New America” is said to be funded by the Service Employees International Union and is run by a longtime close aide to John Edwards, Nick Baldick.

It’s one of several 527s playing in Iowa this cycle, and while the groups can compromise a candidate’s reformer status, the money is basically too good to turn down.

That’s certainly the case with Edwards, who has based his campaign on a kind of fierce purity, particularly with relationship to his own campaign’s finances: He refuses to take money from lobbyists or PACs.

He also disapproves, officially, of the outside spending on his behalf.

”The way the law exists today is you have no control,” Edwards said Thursday. ”You’re not allowed by law to have contact or to coordinate with 527s. So can you discourage it? Yes, and I do.” [snip]

Indeed, two the Edwards 527s chip away a bit more at his clean money focus, because they involve current or past registered lobbyists, the target of much of Edwards’ criticism. Baldick — though he’s not currently registered — has been registered as a lobbyist in the past, with clients including Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield. [See below.]*

The other main Edwards 527, the Carpenters-backed Working for Working Americans, lists as its contact (.pdf), another registered lobbyist, Dave Frulla, whose clients are largely in the fisheries industry. A spokesman for the group said he’s a 527 expert who did the legal work of setting it up.

The back and forth was too demoralizing for us to delve too deeply into. But it was very sad to witness any part of it, bringing down our Christmas cheer. We recalled then recoiled at Obama’s hire of 527 honcho Robert Gibbs who produced ads in 2004 morphing the face of Osama Bin Laden with Howard Dean, and denouncing Dean as “inexperienced”. Obama denounced Edwards as a hypocrite:

“I don’t just talk the talk, I walk the walk; I’ve been doing this all my life, and John has not had that same record,” he said.

“John yesterday said that he didn’t believe in 527s,” he said. “We found out today that there’s an outside group spending $750,000 … and the individual who’s running the group used to be John Edwards’ campaign manager.”

“You can’t say yesterday you don’t believe in them and today you’re having three-quarters of a million dollars being spent for you,” he said.

We tried to avert our eyes but the conflict grew uglier and increasingly hypocritical. Edwards then called Obama a hypocrite:

Sen. Obama’s attacks seem to increase as momentum for our campaign grows. The truth is I am the only candidate in this race who has never taken a dime of PAC or Washington lobbyist money — ever. And, it’s why I support public financing of federal elections.

As for outside groups, unfortunately, you can’t control them, but let me make it clear: I think money has corrupted our politics and these groups should not be a part of the political process.

It got uglier still as Politico tried to keep up with the hypocrisy charges:

Edwards is sticking with his statement that he “can’t control” the 527 — less a “group,” as it’s often described, than a pass-through for money — but this isn’t the first time an Edwards adviser has left his campaign to a 527. At this point in the previous cycle, Jonathan Prince — now Edwards’ deputy campaign manager — had departed the campaign to run a similar group, funded by trial lawyers and unions, two people familiar with that episode said.

Edwards supporters have also made the point that Obama — now taking the moral high ground — sought and failed to get the support of the labor groups behind much of the 527 spending he’s now denouncing, and I asked Obama about that at a stop in a coffee shop earlier this afternoon.

“I love labor,” he responded. “It’s just important not to say that you oppose” 527 spending “the day before” the spending begins.

In other words, this is at its core a question of Edwards’ character, not campaign finance.

We, as peacemakers, as uniters not dividers, agree with both Obama and Edwards.

Edwards eventually issued a statement decrying 525s. “I would prefer that all 527s — not just this one — stay out of Iowa, but I have no legal authority over that,” he said. Obama’s fighters were not satisfied. It’s not change when you decry the influence of money in politics but then stay silent when your former campaign manager exploits the biggest loophole in the law to benefit the Edwards’ campaign with millions of dollars in ads from an unregulated political fund whose donors are undisclosed. John Edwards can and should call on his former advisor to stop this effort.

The 527 added its lovely touch of levity:

A creative response from a source close to the pro-Edwards 527: They can’t shut down in response to Edwards’ preference that they do so — because that could be an instance of illegal coordination!

Nick Baldick, the former Edwards aide behind the Alliance for a New America, wouldn’t comment on John Edwards’ preference that the group shut down. But a person close to the group offered a reminder of how fun campaign finance law can be (and how little it matters, short term, whether the FEC’s modest policing power is intact next year).

“Legally speaking, we can’t take guidance from Sen. Edwards, or Sen. Obama, or Gov. Romney, or Gov. Huckabee, or any federal candidate,” the source said.

Also, the source insisted, the group isn’t pro-Edwards: “We’re an issue advocacy group.”

Politico, mud boots firmly on, summed up the battle of hypocrisy.

The Obama/Edwards hypocrisy extended to the issue of lobbyists too:

Three political aides on Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) payroll were registered lobbyists for dozens of corporations, including Wal-Mart, British Petroleum and Lockheed Martin, while they received payments from his campaign, according to public documents.

The presence of political operatives with long client lists on Obama’s campaign contrasts with his long-held stand of campaigning against the influence of special interests. Obama has even refused to accept contributions from lobbyists or political action committees (PACs).

John Edwards does not fare well on the lobbyist issue either:

Two members of former Sen. John Edwards’s (D-N.C.) staff were registered as lobbyists for the first six months of this year. Adam Jentleson lobbied on behalf of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank headed by John Podesta, the White House chief of staff during the Clinton administration. Matthew Morrison registered as a lobbyist for the American Federation of Teachers in 2007.

Now we love the Center for American Progress and we love the American Federation of Teachers. Nothing wrong with CAP nor AFT. But that is not the attitude displayed by Obama and Edwards when Hillary said at YearlyKooks:

“A lot of those lobbyists, whether you like it or not, represent real Americans.” “They represent nurses, they represent social workers, yes, they represent corporations that employ a lot of people.” “I don’t think, based on my 35 years of fighting for what I believe in, I don’t think anybody seriously believes I’m going to be influenced by a lobbyist.”

It was sad when Hillary was attacked at YearlyKooks for mentioning that many working Americans depend on groups such as labor unions and lobbyists (AARP anyone?) to defend their interests. Yes, there are bad 527s and good 527s and good labor unions and bad labor unions and good people and bad people. But can’t we all get along?

In this Season of Peace, can’t we all get along?

Fellas, just admit you are both hypocrites, and move on.

It’s the Season of Peace.