WASHINGTON (AFP) — George W. Bush hopes history will see him as a president who liberated millions of Iraqis and Afghans, who worked towards peace and who never sold his soul for political ends.
"I'd like to be a president (known) as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace," Bush said in excerpts of a recent interview released by the White House Friday.
"I would like to be a person remembered as a person who, first and foremost, did not sell his soul in order to accommodate the political process. I came to Washington with a set of values, and I'm leaving with the same set of values."
He also said he wanted to be seen as a president who helped individuals, "that rallied people to serve their neighbor; that led an effort to help relieve HIV/AIDS and malaria on places like the continent of Africa; that helped elderly people get prescription drugs and Medicare as a part of the basic package."
Bush added that every day during his eight-year presidency he had consulted the Bible and drawn comfort from his faith.
"I would advise politicians, however, to be careful about faith in the public arena," the US leader said in the interview with his sister Doro Bush Koch recorded as part of an oral history program known as Storycorps.
Keep dreaming, Georgie. And praying. For now, it appears that rather than seeing you as the Great Liberator, history will judge you as America's worst president ever, and a man who:
Squandered the world's good will after 9/11, and his own country's, by politicizing the tragedy.
Invaded and occupied a country that did not threaten the United States, costing the lives of some 5,000 Western troops, and countless Iraqi lives.
Destroyed his country's military.
Returned Afghanistan to war-torn disaster, while doing no better there than the Soviets did in the 1980s, while failing to capture or kill Osama bin Laden.
Turned the United States into a practitioner of torture.
Created an American gulag at Guantanamo Bay, while producing no significant prosecutions related to the 9/11 terror attacks.
Turned the nation's spying infrastructure on its own citizens.
Raised a private, mercenary Army of contractors who ran roughshod through Iraq, destroying American credibility and endangering both Iraqi and American lives.
Banrupted the United States, taking our economy from the surplus he inherited from President Clinton to the largest deficits in our history.
Presided over the largest increases in domestic spending in history.
Presided over a near criminal bailout of Wall Street, that amounts to the largest transfer of wealth from the middle class and working class to the rich since the Robber Barons.
Watched as his party became a criminal gang operating out of the White House, K Street and Capitol Hill.
Turned the American presidency into a laughing stock.
Turned the United States into a rogue nation and international pariah.
Failed utterly in his role as communicator in chief.
Empowered the forces of religious intolerance in the U.S., to the detriment of the now utterly politicized Christian faith.
And the least of his sins, destroying the Republican Party's brand, perhaps for a generation.
Fresh explosions and gunfire have been heard at Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace hotel, one of several sites targeted in attacks that have killed at least 130.
Loud blasts have also rocked a Jewish outreach centre where commandos were attempting to free several hostages.
A 29-year-old rabbi and his wife were confirmed as being among five hostages killed inside Nariman House.
India's foreign minister said "elements with links to Pakistan" were involved in the attacks on Mumbai.
That last part is what's scary. It seems that what we're looking at is not what righties will jump to calling al-Qaida terrorism, but rather a continuation of the India-Pakistan problem -- a potential stand-off between two nuclear armed, endlessly entangled countries. To illustrate the point:
The BBC's Pakistan correspondent, Barbara Plett says there is a feeling among senior officials in Islamabad that India has acted too hastily in linking the Mumbai attackers to Pakistan.
In the UK, security officials said they were investigating reports that British citizens of Pakistani origin were involved.
Yikes. More on the possible UK connection from the Independent:
Two gunmen arrested after the Mumbai massacre were of British descent, the country's chief minister said today.
UK authorities played down reports that the terrorists included Britons as violence in the city continued for a third day.
Gordon Brown said there was no mention of any of the terrorists being linked with Britain during a conversation with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
He said: "At no point has the Prime Minister of India suggested to me that there is evidence at this stage of any terrorist of British origins but obviously these are huge investigations that are being done and I think it will be premature to draw any conclusions at all.
"We remain steadfast and firm standing with India and all other countries against any form of terrorist activity and we will be vigilant in both helping the Indian authorities and in making sure that in every part of the world we support those who are fighting terrorism."
But Indian Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh claims two British-born Pakistanis were among eight gunmen arrested by Indian authorities, according to Associated Press reports.
MUMBAI - The unprecedented night of horror in India's financial capital began at about 9.30 pm for two Germans, Rita and Thomas, part of a Lufthansa in-flight crew finishing dinner at Leopold Cafe in Colaba in south Mumbai. Mumbai's night of terror By Raja Murthy
MUMBAI - The unprecedented night of horror in India's financial capital began at about 9.30 pm for two Germans, Rita and Thomas, part of a Lufthansa in-flight crew finishing dinner at Leopold Cafe in Colaba in south Mumbai.
Barely five hours earlier, Asia Times Online published an article ( Closing time for India's Iranian cafes) mentioning the restaurant
as a favorite of Western tourists, and this popularity caused it to be among the first of 12 terrorist targets on Wednesday night that killed more than 80 people and injured nearly 300, and the figures are rising.
Apart from the cafe, groups of militants armed with automatic weapons and grenades burst into luxury hotels, a hospital and a railway station, spewing death. As of publication time, many tourists were being held hostage in the Taj Mahal hotel, a 105-year-old landmark, and the five-star Trident Oberoi.
"I saw the terrorist firing his machine gun at people sitting at the next table," Rita said, "and then thought the gun would turn around to me." But the terrorist, in his mid-30s, swung the gun away from her, momentarily distracted by his accomplice waiting in the mezzanine floor and firing randomly at diners.
Her life had been saved in that split second. Police said they had killed four gunmen and arrested nine. A group identifying itself as the Deccan Mujahideen said it was responsible, per emails sent to news organizations. Virtually nothing is known of this group. "Deccan" is an area of India and "Mujahideen" is the plural form of a Muslim participating in jihad. Security officials believe it unlikely an unknown group could carry out such a precise and heavily-armed attack.
It is more likely to be the work of the Indian Mujahideen, an Islamist group that has claimed responsibility for other attacks in India. On Thursday morning, speaking from inside the Oberoi where foreigners are being held hostage, a man identified as Sahadullah told India TV he belonged to an Indian Islamist group seeking to end the persecution of Indian Muslims: "We want all mujahideens held in India released and only after that we will release the people."
No one knows how the terrorists arrived in the city. One theory is that they came from the sea in an explosives-laden boat. But there is no doubt about their agenda.
And the drama continues. And by the way, while you've been watching Mumbai, nobody has noticed that Thailand is also in turmoil, with gunman having stormed the Bangkok airport.
Hat tip to Paul Porter of IndustryEars.com. This article is long, but interesting reading if you, like me, are interested in the future of radio:
Radio’s Revenue Falls Even as Audience Grows By STEPHANIE CLIFFORD CAN radio save itself?
Listeners are diverted by iPods and Internet and satellite radio. Companies are loaded with debt. Advertisers are heading to television or the Web — and the advertisers that have continued to advertise on radio, like auto dealers and retailers, are being hit by the economic crisis and pulling back.
And even though the audience for broadcast radio is actually growing, stations cannot seem to increase their revenue.
Radio advertising was down 10 percent last month from October 2007, according to the Radio Advertising Bureau, the 18th consecutive month of declines.
And the third-quarter numbers are dismal. CBS Radio reported a revenue drop of 12 percent. Citadel Broadcasting’s revenue dropped by 10.9 percent. CC Media Holdings, which owns Clear Channel Communications, said radio revenue was down 7 percent. Cox Radio revenue fell 6.2 percent; Emmis Communications’ radio revenue decreased 1.5 percent; and Radio One revenue was down 2 percent.
Problems in the radio industry have been piling up for years, said Marci L. Ryvicker, an analyst at Wachovia Capital Markets. In the 1990s, radio companies consolidated, then began increasing the ad time available. “They started to fight for share, instead of being proactive and thinking of new ways to generate revenue,” Ms. Ryvicker said.
Then, when advertisers decreased their spending around 2001, radio stations were stuck with too much time and too few advertisers. “There was too much inventory out there, and rates kept going down, down, down,” Ms. Ryvicker said.
Recent years have not changed the fortunes of radio. Many companies borrowed money to buy back their stock, leaving them saddled with debt.
And the industries that supported radio advertising — finance, retail and autos — have all been particularly hard-hit by the current economy. Radio advertising declined 8 percent in the second quarter of this year from a year earlier, according to TNS Media Intelligence. That was worse than any other category except newspapers.
From an advertiser’s perspective, the consolidation of radio companies has resulted in sound-alike stations, said Jim Poh, vice president and a director of analytics and media planning at Crispin Porter & Bogusky, which handles radio ads for clients like Burger King and Domino’s.
“The group ownerships in various markets tended to blunt the edges of the formats, so that each of the stations could play across more demographic groups, and that way could share more of the revenue from various advertisers,” Mr. Poh said. “The downfall of that is the medium isn’t as relevant, the stations aren’t as relevant to people as they were.” ...
Read the rest here. Radio will have to find points of difference if it wants to survive. The killing off of local programming by swarms of syndicated content is one problem. Reliance on so few advertising industries is another. And like the rest of the music industry, radio will have to find a way to play with the online world. It's a challenge, but radio still enjoys two advantages: the morning commute and the evening commute. Putting good, relevant programming on during the drive times will help. But it's time to wake up, if radio intends to survive.
Well, the bird has met its demise (even without Sarah Palin looking on,) the tryptophan has kicked in (I overslept and had to do my radio show by phone this morning, but Roland Martin was great! And those two glasses of wine didn't help!) ... and I'm going to make it through Black Friday without having to tramp through a mall (I refuse. Sorry, kids.) So now, since I've been skipping out on my blogging duties of late, here are ten things I think we can all be thankful for:
#1. Sarah Palin. She brought so much joy and laughter during the campaign, with her kooky vocab and inability to articulate her thoughts in anything resembling adult English. And she put the nail in John McCain's campaign coffin (sorry if that sounds like an age joke,) ensuring, even if he really couldn't have done so anyway,) that he wouldn't win. Thus, Sarah helped spare the country from four more years of Bush-like policies, along with the spectacle of herself playing a Bizarro World, Hilbilly Princess Di to McCain's doddering Charles. You betcha!
#2. John McCain. When he wandered in front of that camera during the town hall style debate, he made my year. Serioiusly. And by so debasing himself during the campaign, McCain has all but ensured that his rehabilitation will involve helping Barack Obama get much of his domestic agenda through the Senate. Thanks, Grandpa! (And thank Joe the Plumber for us when you see him next. Oh, that's right, you're not gonna see him again, because he's irrelevant.)
#3. Steve Schmidt. What a maroon. See #s 1 and 2 above.
#4. Right wing talk radio. Those of us who already thought you were irrelevant blowhards just weren't getting through until you called the Senator from Illinois a terrorist, Marxist Socialist and America elected him anyway. Thanks guys! By the way, Glenn, are you serious about seceding? If so, let me know what the rest of us can do to help you along.
#5. American voters. Well, 52 percent of them, anyway.
$6. Barack Obama. Yes we did.
#7. Tina Fey. See #1 above.
#8. David Letterman. See #2 above.
#9. Fox News. See #4 above. And what will you do at those press conferences now?
and last, but not least...
#10. George W. Bush. No, seriously. Had he not been such a rotten president, we might not be here, on the brink of positive change. And he's been damned funny to listen to over the last eight years, even as he was screwing up the world.
Oh, wait! One more thing! I'm also thankful for this video. Enjoy!
Lame Duck Teasury Secretary Henry Paulsen insisted on talking again today, as did his boss, sending the markets south, as happens every time either of these clods drops jaw. Meanwhile, the latest brand new proposal out of George Bush's Washington sounds as lame as the first twothree ten. And as usual, it's focused on handouts to Paulsen's friends in the banking industry. The idea is artfully cloaked in the pretense of "helping Main Street":
The Federal Reserve and Treasury moved today to boost consumer spending and lower home mortgage rates, committing up to $800 billion to make it easier for households to borrow money for cars, tuition bills and new homes as part of a broad effort to rekindle economic growth.
The new program puts the balance sheet of the country's central bank behind two critical but troubled parts of the economy -- consumer spending and housing. It is largely separate from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, administered by the Treasury Department and focused on shoring up the country's financial system.
Ah, that sounds lovely. But what this really is, is a bailout of wealthy investors:
A Treasury news release noted that in 2007, about $240 billion in car, student and other consumer loans had been packaged by the companies that issued them into larger securities and sold to investors, who then benefit from the flow of payments from borrowers. That system of packaging and reselling loans keeps money flowing to banks and other lenders, allowing them to make even more money available to consumers.
However it all but stopped over the past two months, leading to rising interest rates, a downturn in lending -- and a risk that economic growth could be dragged down even further.
The Fed said it would provide up to $200 billion to investors who put the money toward consumer loans in the form of credit cards, auto loans and student loans, as well as some forms of small business lending.
In other words, Uncle Sam is about to write a big, fat check to erase the risk that big investors took when they bought junk credit card and mortgage debt. Then, magically relieved of the burden of that bad paper, banks will suddenly decide to start lending packagable money again. Tada! But wait, there's more:
The Fed's consumer lending program is partially backed by $20 billion from the TARP, which will be used to absorb losses on the program up to that amount. The Fed loans to investors will earn interest and also a fee from those who take advantage of it.
Paulson said the initial $200 billion "is a starting point" and could grow over time.
In addition to consumer spending, the Fed announced it would buy up to $100 billion in mortgages held by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Bank in an effort increase the flow of money into the housing markets and lower interest rates. The Fed will also buy another $500 billion in bundles of mortgage-backed securities issued by the agencies.
The fact that TARP money is wrapped up in this is just one problem. The federal government is clearly going to have to become the spender of last resort, given that consumers aren't secure enough in our jobs to start buying things (or gassing up) any time soon. But for the government to use tax money to eliminate investment risk, and to bail out big investors, is criminal. Oh, and the banks that have been getting these shovels full of your money? They've been using them to bail out THEIR investors too, by paying dividends (something they plan to keep doing for the next three years), and they've been using their TARP money to pay bonuses to their executives, and even (hello, Citibank and Wells Fargo,) to buy other banks. I'd like to see the Big Three automakers even think about doing anything like that.
Meanwhile, the administration continues to reject a reasonable proposal from the head of the FDIC, which would directly help struggling homeowners stay out of foreclosure, while protecting taxpayers, all at a cost of just $40 billion -- a fraction of the $7 trillion estimated cost of all these serial bailouts of the rich.
The Paulsen regime's eagerness to hand out taxpayer cash to the investor class on their way out the door is so brazen, it's like a bank robbery in broad daylight, with the police holding open the vault door. And Paulsen and Bush used alarmism, and threats of a "Great Depression II" to scare Americans into going along with the $700 billion (and climbing) bank bailout. Meanwhile, the U.S. auto industry, with 3 million "regular folks' jobs" in the balance, isn't worthy of help. Fancy that.
From the Iraq money pit to the Bush tax cuts for the top 1 percent income earners to the Wall Street bailout, the Bush administration has been one, eight year long mugging; a reverse Robin Hood spree in which we, the middle class working people, are being robbed blind, right before our eyes, in order to give to the rich.
You really do need to see this. Lloyd Marcus -- the black guy in the cowboy hat in the "Thank You Sarah Palin" Internet ads? Witness his song and video stylings -- first, reworking the Florida state song, "The Old Folks at Home" without even using the phrase "old darkeys!"
And here's Lloyd singing about 9/11, as some Youtuber sets his "music" to the most tasteless video I think I've ever seen...
Here's Lloyd singing to the object of his affection: Sarah Palin. (Doesn't he know they call that "race mixing" in Palinworld???
And here's Lloyd singing a song that might be a bit more fitting for his ... um ... talent level and ideological makeup: "Desperado..."
Hey, are you thinking what I'm thinking??? Joe the Plumber - Lloyd the county fair/street corner/political rally singer DUET!!!
MSNBC this morning gave some airtime to a new ad campaign, which simply "thanks Sarah Palin," for all she's done. No, it's not from a group of late night comedians, stand up comics or liberal talk show hosts (or Democratic strategists.) It's from a group of faithful Palinites who, well, just think she's gotten a raw deal. Watch their first ad:
There's also a Thanksgiving version ... which might not have been so advisable, given that whole, unfortunate turkey massacre incident...
A political action committee called “Our Country Deserves Better” is raising money to air a series of TV advertisements voicing support for Gov. Palin. The group is headed by Howard Kaloogian, a California Republican and former state legislator.
All three versions of the ad — which are being streamed on the PAC’s website for now — feature group members complimenting Gov. Palin over her role in the 2008 campaign. Lloyd Marcus, a singer-songwriter and spokesman for the group, says to the camera, “Thank you, for the grace and dignity you showed even when some tried to smear and destroy you.”
Mark Williams, a conservative commentator, says, “We thank you for your passionate, hopeful and articulate advocacy of common sense, conservative values.”
During the presidential campaign, the Our Country Deserves Better PAC conducted “The Stop Obama Tour,” with a bus that traveled from the West to the East Coast to promote the Republican ticket.
The latest campaign includes a special Thanksgiving ad, which highlights Gov. Palin’s penchant for moose stew as an alternative to turkey.
Doh! Don't say "turkey..." puhleeeze...!
The above-mentioned "commentator" Mark Willians was also the guy angrily flacking for the ad (and for Palin's fight to stop the "anti-American policies of our in-coming president." More of this crowd's greatest hits ... er, misses ... here...) with the light-questioning, giggly Norah O'Donnell this morning. Commentator is such a vague term. In fact, he's an out of work talk show host. From a posting in the "news" section on an industry website called AllAccess this morning:
Look for former KFBK-A/SACRAMENTO, WWDB/PHILADELPHIA, and WROW-A and WGY-A/ALBANY talker MARK WILLIAMS on MSNBC this morning at 11a ET. WILLIAMS will be at the studios of NBC affiliate KCRA-TV/SACRAMENTO to appear on the cable network defending the "Thank You SARAH PALIN" ads he produced for his OUR COUNTRY DESERVES BETTER political action committee.
WILLIAMS is available for fill-in and full-time talk gigs and has a full ISDN studio at his home; call him at (XXX) XXX-XXXX or e-mail email@example.com.
Hey, it's a recession. Everybody needs a gig. But since "Our Country Deserves Better" (an ironic name if I've ever heard one...) isn't actually HIS PAC, does the actual chairman, the Gingrichite Mr. Kaloogian, know that Williams -- listed as just a spokesman on the PAC's website -- is grabbing the credit for the ads on a radio site that just also happens to offer job and gig listings? Either way, this is a rather pathetic band of left behinders, also including Mark Steyn, apparently.
Oh, and in case you're wondering who the high-voiced black guy in the cowboy hat is, his name is LLoyd Marcus, and apparently, he sings, too! Even tried to write Florida's state song (poor dear.) From his PAC bio:
Lloyd Marcus is a passionate and patriotic American who has been a leader in the fight for common sense conservative values.
Lloyd Marcus has touched the hearts of Americans across this great land with his powerful songs “United We Stand” and “Sarah Smile” - a tribute to Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin. You can learn more about Lloyd at his personal website: www.LloydMarcus.net.
The bank that no one knew was failing lost half its stock value last week, and with $800 billion in deposits, and a heap of mortgages and other assets in jeopardy, Citibank is one of those "too big to fail" institutions. So here comes the bailout:
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The U.S. government on Sunday announced a massive rescue package for Citigroup - the latest move to steady the banking giant, whose shares plunged in the past week on fears about its exposure to toxic mortgage securities.
The plan has two key features:
First, the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) will backstop some losses against more than $300 billion in troubled assets.
Second, the Treasury will make a fresh $20 billion investment in the bank. The government has already injected $25 billion into Citigroup as part of the $700 billion bailout passed by Congress in October.
The government will take a stake in the bank, and President Lame Duck said this morning that more Citigroup style rescues could be in the cards. Okay... but wasn't Citigroup (which Dubya mistakenly called "Citicorp" during his brief press availability this morning) the same megabank that almost went to court with Wells Fargo over both banks' desire to buy smaller, equally troubled Wachovia? Let's take a walk back to October 6:
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co and Citigroup Inc agreed on Monday to a 44-hour truce in their fight over regional bank Wachovia Corp after a weekend of legal wrangling.
Wells Fargo and Citigroup have been battling over the bank since Wells Fargo announced an offer Friday that bested Citigroup's proposal a week ago.
As part of their agreement on Monday to suspend all litigation, effective immediately, the three banks also said they would cease any formal discovery activities.
The increasingly bitter dispute has drawn in U.S. Federal Reserve officials looking to broker a deal. Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC), said she expected an agreement "that serves the public interest" to be reached Monday, although the FDIC is not involved in the negotiations.
A person familiar with the situation said the various options discussed in the talks with the government included dividing up Wachovia between the two feuding companies. The source added that Wells Fargo would still like to buy all of Wachovia.
Citi, which announced a preliminary agreement to buy Wachovia's banking assets for $2.2 billion a week ago, was considering an offer for the entire bank, among other options, a person close to Citi said.
The source said Citi has no appetite to buy Wachovia's assets without some sort of government guarantee -- unlike Wells Fargo, which made a $15 billion counterbid for the entire bank on Friday. ...
... Citi said on Monday it is seeking more than $60 billion of damages from Wells Fargo. Citi said Wachovia would have collapsed on September 30 without its agreement to acquire most of its assets. ...
So let me get this straight: Just over a month ago, Citigroup was in a position to spend $2.2 billion buying Wachovia, and countless sums on lawyers to sue Wells Fargo for trying to buy it first, and now, they're broke? What gives? At the time of the ank dispute, Citi's shares were trading down 5.1 percent to $17.41. This morning, it opened at $5.99, having fallen 60 percent in a single week. And the bank is about to get $20 billion in cash from the fed. I guess they blew that $2.2 billion on something more pleasing than Wachovia?
If you're up late tonight (or on the West Coast and in need of a break from "Desperate Housewives," tune in to Hot 105 (105.1 FM or hot105fm.com) as I sit in for host Chief Jimmy Brown. We'll be talking about World AIDS day, the black media in the Age of Obama (including the ridiculous minstrel show that is "DL Hughley Breaks the News," and the Big Three bailout. My guests tonight will be Paul Porter of Industryears.com, and Robert Henderson Jr., host of the Robert Henderson Jr. Show.
Every time I think I've successfully moved past my fury at Joe Lieberman's treachery during the presidential campaign (and let's face it, long before,) and the Democratic leadership in the Senate failing to hold him accountable for it, he pops back up on my TV and pisses me off again. Case in point: this morning's maddening interview on "Meet the Press." Lieberman refused to take any responsibility for his slanderous comments about Barack Obama, writing them off as excesses "that happen to all of us." He refused to admit that he had even been punished by his colleagues (though on that score, he's actually correct.) And despite hollow claims that he "regrets" the phrasing of some of his unbelievable statements while serving as John McCain's Sancho Panza, he steadfastly refused, even with repeated questioning, to utter the word "apologize." Watch, and seethe:
I hate to see time fly by, lord knows, particularly as I begin exiting my 30s. But damned if I can't wait for 2012, and the chance to see this man booted out of Congress like a used-up whore. One piece of intriguing information from the interview, while Barack Obama clearly did not stand in the way of his keeping his Homeland Security chairmanship, he's not exactly extending the hand of friendship to Traitor Joe. Lieberman told Brokaw that though he had called the president-elect, he hadn't gotten a call back:
Lieberman also told Brokaw that he had called Obama but had not heard back -- though incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Vice President-elect Biden had spoken with Lieberman. "He's busy," Lieberman explained, referring to Obama. "In some sense he talked to me through Harry Reid and his spokespeople," he added.
Nor should he get that call, until it's President Obama on the other line instructing Benedict Lieberman how he needs him to vote, and reminding him of how much he owes him.
(The London Daily Mail) - Beleaguered pop star Michael Jackson has converted to Islam and changed his name to Mikaeel, it has been claimed today.
The 50-year-old singer, who has previously been photographed wearing a traditional Arab women's veil, reportedly became a Muslim in a ceremony at a friend's house in Los Angeles.
The singer, who was raised as a Jehovah's Witness, is said to have sat on the floor and worn a small hat while an imam officiated at the home of Steve Porcaro, who composed music on his Thriller album.
He is said to have been encouraged by Canadian songwriter David Wharnsby and Phillip Bubal, a producer, who both approached him after he appeared 'a bit down'.
A source told The Sun: 'They began talking to him about their beliefs, and how they thought they had become better people after they converted. Michael soon began warming to the idea.
'An imam was summoned from the mosque and Michael went through the shahada, which is the Muslim declaration of belief.'
Well, changing religions can be a pick-me up ... Now, note the self-serving nature of his brother's support:
His brother Jermaine Friday, previously hinted Jackson was considering converting to the religion.
'When I came back from Mecca I got him a lot of books and he asked me lots of things about my religion and I told him that it's peaceful and beautiful,' said Friday, who embraced the faith in 1989.
'He read everything and he was proud of me that I found something that would give me inner strength and peace.
'He could do so much, just like I am trying to do. Michael and I and the word of God, we could do so much.'
WE??? I smell a Jackson inter-faith reunion tour coming on...!
President-elect Obama is assembling a governing team impressive enough to make David Brooks swoon:
... Obama seems to have dispensed with the romantic and failed notion that you need inexperienced “fresh faces” to change things. After all, it was L.B.J. who passed the Civil Rights Act. Moreover, because he is so young, Obama is not bringing along an insular coterie of lifelong aides who depend upon him for their well-being.
As a result, the team he has announced so far is more impressive than any other in recent memory. One may not agree with them on everything or even most things, but a few things are indisputably true.
First, these are open-minded individuals who are persuadable by evidence. Orszag, who will probably be budget director, is trusted by Republicans and Democrats for his honest presentation of the facts.
Second, they are admired professionals. Conservative legal experts have a high regard for the probable attorney general, Eric Holder, despite the business over the Marc Rich pardon.
Third, they are not excessively partisan. Obama signaled that he means to live up to his postpartisan rhetoric by letting Joe Lieberman keep his committee chairmanship.
Fourth, they are not ideological. The economic advisers, Furman and Goolsbee, are moderate and thoughtful Democrats. Hillary Clinton at State is problematic, mostly because nobody has a role for her husband. But, as she has demonstrated in the Senate, her foreign-policy views are hardheaded and pragmatic. (It would be great to see her set of interests complemented by Samantha Power’s set of interests at the U.N.)
Finally, there are many people on this team with practical creativity. Any think tanker can come up with broad doctrines, but it is rare to find people who can give the president a list of concrete steps he can do day by day to advance American interests. Dennis Ross, who advised Obama during the campaign, is the best I’ve ever seen at this, but Rahm Emanuel also has this capacity, as does Craig and legislative liaison Phil Schiliro.
Believe me, I’m trying not to join in the vast, heaving O-phoria now sweeping the coastal haute bourgeoisie. But the personnel decisions have been superb. The events of the past two weeks should be reassuring to anybody who feared that Obama would veer to the left or would suffer self-inflicted wounds because of his inexperience. He’s off to a start that nearly justifies the hype.
Updates today: Bill Richardson will get Commerce (not as sexy as State, and the scuttle is that Caroline Kennedy could be U.N. ambassador, but at least he gets rewarded for his crucial endorsement,) looks like Miami Mayor Manny Diaz will either get HUD or the Department of Transportation, and New York Federal Reserve president Tim Geithner (who speaks both Chinese/Mandarin and Japanese, btw) will be the Treasury Secretary (sorry, Larry Summers.)
Obama is expected to announce his economic team on Monday, to fill the void left by our out to lunch current president, and his national security team, including Sen. Clinton, after Thanksgiving.
I'm with those who are both glad to learn that Attorney General Michael Mukasey is feeling better, but who are also breathing a sigh of relief that we never had to witness this same kind of spectacle with a President John McCain. Mukasey is five years younger than the, it turns out, more profoundly disabled than previously reported McCain. His collapse during a Federalist Society speech yesterday was a sobering reminder of the frailties of age. Watch:
Lord, can't this lady do anything right? The Word Wizard of Wasila chatters away while a cheeky bastard in the background slaughters Thanksgiving dinner. I guess not every turkey got a pardon that day. Notice how the slaughter guy keeps grinning into the camera, as if he knows he's doing Sarah in...
He may live to regret it. She may try to upstage him, and run her own presidency on the side. The media obsession with her and her husband could dog his presidency. Bill could grandstand, or do something crazy. She might clash with Joe Biden over foreign policy influence with the president. Her bull in a china shop style and leaky entourage could prove to be a disaster.
Or ... he may breathe a sigh of relief that she's not taking pot shots at his foreign policy from her seat on the Senate Arms Services Committee, or from some as-yet undefined new leadership post. She may use her international street cred to advance his foreign policy goals. She may really be beholden to him now. Running against him in four years may be off the table. And she just might do a bloody good job.
(NYT) Days of back and forth followed the meeting between President-elect Barack Obama and Clinton last week in Chicago, when the two principals first discussed the post, with advisers to Clinton suggesting she might not want the job and questions persisting about the business work and international ties of her husband, former president Bill Clinton.
But the former president agreed to a thorough vetting, and Obama advisers did not back away from reports that the New York senator was the president-elect's top pick. On Thursday night, aides said that the vetting issues have been resolved, and the selection could occur soon, perhaps immediately after Thanksgiving.
Consider it a foregone conclusion that Mitt Romney no longer believes he can carry Michigan in 2012 (that election may be a throwaway for Republicans anyway.) His recent op-ed on the virtues of sending Detroit automakers into bankruptcy won't help him in the state where he was born and where his dad used to govern.
Even more instructive is this poll, from our leading local right wing station, WIOD, two days ago. It was put up, and followed up, during the morning news show, hosted by longtime journalist (and loyal Republican) Jimmy Cefalo. Asked why they think the U.S. auto industry is in such bad shape, WIOD viewers had this to say:
Mismanagement - 20.00 % Concessions to Unions - 59.17 % Failure to change with the times - 10.42 % American cars aren’t as good as imports - 7.08 % Its the economy stupid - 3.33 %
Now, the webmaster was clever enough not to mention how many people voted. It could be 150 people, or 15,000, but the point is the same: three times more "conservative" talk radio listeners believe that concessions to the United Auto Workers Union, meaning high wages, health benefits, and retiree pensions, are the biggest problem for U.S. automakers, than the number who believe the problem is poor management. And six times more, in this poll, fault the workers than target the industry's inability to change its products to suit the times. That's a stunning conclusion, and bad news for the GOP.
Why? Because Republicans will never again be a national party with real viability outside of Appalachia if they continue to push, via their politicians, their talk radio hosts and Fox News, that the problem in the American manufacturing economy isn't a lack of innovation or piss-poor management -- it's American workers, who are "greedy" for wanting high wages and decent benefits for themselves and their families, and the wicked unions who force American manufacturers to offer such evil, horrible things to "lazy" unionists. The GOP has become the party, not just of big business, but more directly, of the scornful rich. Fabulously wealthy talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, who lives in a lavish Palm Beach manse next door to the old Kennedy compound, and Sean Hannity, who travels only by private jet -- just like a Big Three auto executive -- feed middle and lower-middle class listeners a steady harangue of fake "Joe the Plumber" populism, anti-elitism and "don't envy people like me, worship people like me, and work hard to keep people like me rich...!" diatribes, convincing them to rail in favor of tax cuts and government handouts for people of Hannity and Limbaugh's economic class, and to disdain the strivings of people in their own class. It's one hell of a magic trick -- sort of like Marie Antoinette convincing the rabble to revolt on her behalf, against the other peasants.
The wizardry is so powerful, bling worship has infected the Christian church -- so thorough that you can have a guy like Joe Wurzelbacher look into a camera and say, with a perfectly straight face, that he doesn't want Social Security "forced on him," even though at $40,000 a year and no plumbing license, unless that's one hell of a book he's coming out with next month, or he's a damned good country singer, he'll need Social Security just to keep from having to live on dog food if and when he ever gets to retire.
The Reupblican party, and so-called "conservatives," actually believe -- or at least they have taught their followers to believe -- that the rich are better than the rest of us. They should receive the full benefit of the wealth they earn off the labor of others, and even get a tax cut, while those whose labor makes them rich should suck it up and take whatever pay "trickles down to them." Of course that pay must be as low as possible, to improve the profit margins, and since there shall be no unions involved, their betters can turn them out the door at will, and cut off their benefits -- if they bother to give them any -- whenever the stock price dips. Call it the Wal-Mart ethic, because in turn, the rich give us low, low prices, that after all, are all the idiot, low-wage working stiff can afford.
I don't begrudge Limbaugh and others the right to be damned good negotiators. I say get the most money you can. More power to you! But shouldn't regular wage earners have that right too?
Nope. In the Wal-Mart ethic of the GOP, which echoes the ethos of the 19th Century robber barons, who thought it good and proper to employ children for 12 hours a day at pennies per hour, employees should use their "right to work" wages to purchase whatever healthcare they can afford on the free market, just like the rich people do -- only we all know the rabble have no business in Cleveland Clinic -- a plain old clinic will do.
The right believes that CEOs who make 400 times the wages of their employees should get a tax cut, while the "greedy" workers should take a pay cut, for the team. The spectacle has become so maddening, that it has touched off a kind of regional "race to the bottom warfare," whereby a Republican Congressman actually bragged on "Hardball" today that auto workers in Kentucky make half the wages of auto workers in Detroit (something that isn't even true anymore,) and ordinary righties insist that the "greedy" unionized Detroit workers should bring their wages down to the level that the Japanese automakers pay people with no union strictures down South -- which, by the way, is the poorest region in America. That way, American cars will cost less, see? "My state's wages are lower than your state's wages" is a hell of a thing for an elected official to brag about, but that's where we are with today's "conservatives." (By the way, if Japanese automakers are the truth, then why is Toyota laying Americans off, too?) It might be worth asking that Congressman, and the other wingers, just how low would you like to see American working stiff's wages go? To the levels of Japanese workers? Or workers in Singapore, or Bhopal?
We're in sorry shape as a nation if we are willing to do a blind bailout, to the tune of $700 billion, for a white collar banking industry whose employment figures we don't even know, but whose malfeasance we surely do, but hard hearted when it comes to saving the jobs of 3 million Americans who toil in the Detroit-based, U.S. auto industry. The Big Three screwed up, no doubt. But it was management who decided to fight against seatbelts, airbags, better feul economy, green fuels and electric cars. It was management -- the ones for whom Jimmy Cefalo's and Rush Limbaugh's and "private jet only" Hannity's listeners are willing to fight for endless tax cuts -- that made those decisions, not the working stiffs whose union was good enough at negotiations to get them $70 an hour.
Besides, I haven't yet seen the poll that finds that any of those wingers would believe that they themselves are overpaid for the work they do, or that the radio jocks feeding them cake are, either. As Pat Buchanan, an actual, living, breathing, old fashioned conservative, separate from the neocons, kleptocrats and "boogedy-boogedy" types (kudos, Kathleen Parker, and John Cole, too...) currently torching the Republican Party, eloquently explains:
By the choices we make, we define ourselves and reveal what we truly care about. Thus, consider:
We bail out the New York and D.C. governments of Abe Beame and Marion Barry. We bail out a corrupt Mexico. We bail out public schools that have failed us for 40 years.
We bail out with International Monetary Fund and World Bank loans and foreign aid worthless Third World regimes.
We bail out Wall Street plutocrats and big banks.
But the most magnificent industry, the auto industry that was the pride of America and envy of the world, we surrender to predator-traders from Asia and Europe, lest we violate the tenets of some 19th-century ideological scribblers that the old Republicans considered the apogee of British stupidity.
Amen. And good luck every winning Ohio, Michigan or Pennsylvania in my lifetime if you keep telling working men and women that it is they, and not the fat cats flying to Washington on private jets with their hands out for taxpayer money, who are greedy. 51 percent of voting Americans have figured you out. More are finally getting the picture every day.
Could comedian Al Franken deliver the poetic justice Democrats have longed for since 2000 by beating the sleazy Norm Coleman in an election recount? It really could happen, if you believe Franken's campaign:
Speaking to reporters in person and on phone, Marc Elias, the Franken campaign's chief counsel, said that the early recount results (which decreased the margin separating the Democratic challenger and Coleman by 43 votes) actually underestimated the ground gained.
"We do in fact feel very good about how the first day of the recount went... We believe that through last night, 26.5 percent of the ballots were hand counted. And that represents slightly three percent more of the Coleman vote or Republican vote than was true during the election. And nevertheless we picked up a significant chunk of votes," said Elias. "In other words, the ballots counted yesterday were more Republican than the total ballot pool will end up being. It was a slightly redder pile versus what it will finally be. And not withstanding that slightly redder view, we picked up votes yesterday. In fact, we believe that number is higher than the 43 votes reflected on the Secretary of State's official margin."
If Franken does win, it will mean a hand recount, this time statewide (as it should have been in 2000) following an election certified with a margin of just a few hundred votes, was this time won by the guy named Al. Don't you just love poetry?
Nancy Pelosi and her wussy counterpart from Joe Lieberman's very own, personal Senate lay down the law to automakers, demanding from them the same thing a bank would before lending anyone, let alone such a dubious client, money: a business plan.
Democratic leaders said Thursday that they want the struggling American car manufacturers to submit a business plan in the next two weeks in order to receive billions of dollars in emergency aid from the federal government.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said they would return in December to review the plans, which are due by Dec. 2. Congress would then return on Dec. 8 to consider a proposal to help the auto industry.
The leaders made the announcement after saying they would not accept a deal, worked out by Republican and Democratic senators from Rust Belt states, that would lift restrictions on $25 billion in money previously approved to help automakers retool their plants to make more fuel-efficient cars.
“Executives for auto companies have not been able to convince this Congress or the American people that this bailout will be the last,” Reid said.
Instead, they want automakers to come up with a plan that shows how they would use the money.
“Until they show us a plan, we cannot show them the money,” Pelosi said.
Al-Qaida's number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, broadcasts his outfit's colossal insecurities by trying to insult Barack Obama. First, the insult:
Ayman al-Zawahri said in the message, which appeared on militant Web sites, that Obama is "the direct opposite of honorable black Americans" like Malcolm X, the 1960s African-American rights leader.
In al-Qaida's first response to Obama's victory, al-Zawahri also called the president-elect _ along with secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice _ "house Negroes."
Speaking in Arabic, al-Zawahri uses the term "abeed al-beit," which literally translates as "house slaves." But al-Qaida supplied English subtitles of his speech that included the translation as "house Negroes."
The message also includes old footage of speeches by Malcolm X in which he explains the term, saying black slaves who worked in their white masters' house were more servile than those who worked in the fields. Malcolm X used the term to criticize black leaders he accused of not standing up to whites.
Two racist twits in a cave: Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri
Except that Malcom X ultimately became a regular old Sunni Muslim who even when he was in the Nation would have been disgusted by al-Qaida, for reasons that will be explained later in the post. First, some analysis, from the National Security Network:
Experts agree that the release of a new tape by Al Qaeda’s second in command Ayman al-Zawahri indicates that Al Qaeda feels threatened and is on its heels after Obama’s resounding victory. President-elect Obama’s diverse background, along with his pledge to reverse many of the policies and approaches of the Bush administration on issues such as detentions at Guantanamo, torture and the war in Iraq has served to dramatically improve America’s image, especially in the Muslim world. Counter-terrorism expert Richard Clarke explained, “Most of all, by returning to American values the world admires, Obama sets al Qaeda back enormously in the battle of ideas, the ideological struggle which determines whether al Qaeda will continue to have significant support in the Islamic world.” Having thrived on the decline in America’s world image, the impact of Obama’s victory provides a direct challenge to Al Qaeda’s negative depiction of the United States. Additionally, Obama’s emphasis on shifting US attention from Iraq to Afghanistan represents a direct physical threat to Al Qaeda’s leadership. America’s improved global image and the new administration’s focus on Afghanistan threatens Al Qaeda and has led to what experts see as a confused, racist, and off-kilter response reflective of an organization on the defensive.
Now to the main reason Malcolm X would have despised al-Qaida (in addition to the fact that Malcolm was an American,) and more importantly, the reasons these booboos are doing themselves more harm than good in the parts of the world they hope to build in: turns out al-Qaida and its leaders, including Osama bin Laden, have a history of racial bigotry, specifically directed at black people...
... by indulging in divisive labels such as "House Slave" or "House Negro", Dr. al-Zawahiri has strayed from being merely disrespectful into being entirely disreputable and dishonorable. By playing the race card so quickly and so brazenly, al-Zawahiri may end up causing backlash against Al-Qaida in the very constituencies he is seeking to woo. It also invites the question, how is this a legitimate criticism coming from the senior leadership of Al-Qaida, which is dominated almost solely by Arab Egyptians and Saudis? Moreover, what would Malcolm X have thought of an organization, Al-Qaida, that at one time offered a higher salary to its Arab membership than its Black African adherents? One might imagine that the financial guru responsible for overseeing this inequitable arrangement -- Egyptian national Mustafa Abu al-Yazid -- would have been punished for his bigoted actions. In fact, al-Yazid has since been promoted to the number 3 position in Al-Qaida, right behind Dr. al-Zawahiri. This is hardly the type of image that Al-Qaida would like to see proliferate in critical regions adjacent to jihadi conflict zones in Somalia, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania.
Maybe someone should get Adam Gadahn, the American yahoo who hangs out with the Qaida and apparently thinks he can channel Malcolm X for them (and who I'm praying is a double agent for his sake, otherwise he's a complete horse's ass...) an unabridged history of al-Qaida. And then there are Osama bin Laden's own attitudes on race (plus Whitney Houston and "color mixing,") as related by his former Sudanese mistress:
Kola Boof, 37, the Sudanese poet and novelist who claims to have once been bin Laden's sex slave, writes in her autobiography, "Diary of a Lost Girl," which is excerpted in the September Harper's: "He told me Whitney Houston was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen."
...Boof says bin Laden couldn't stop talking about his favorite singer and had lofty plans for her. "He said he wanted to give [her] a mansion that he owned in a suburb of Khartoum. He explained to me that to possess Whitney, he would be willing to break his color rule and make her one of his wives."
... But as much as bin Laden adored Houston, he was also dismissive of black women. "African women are only good for a man's lower pleasures," bin Laden supposedly said. "What need do you have for a womb?"
And Boof writes that the 9/11 terror mastermind detested her hairstyle. "Why do you wear your hair braided?" he fumed, telling her that "only monkeys" did that.
The decision came in the case of six Algerians who were detained in Bosnia after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and have been held at the military prison in Cuba for nearly seven years. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, a Bush appointee, ruled that five of the men must be released "forthwith" and ordered the government to engage in diplomatic efforts to find them new homes.
In an unusual move, Leon also urged the government not to appeal his ruling, saying "seven years of waiting for our legal system to give them an answer" was long enough.
In the case of the sixth Algerian, Belkacem Bensayah, Leon found that the government had met its evidentiary burden and could continue to hold him. Bensayah's lawyers said he would appeal.
The landmark ruling is the first by a federal judge who has weighed the government's evidence in lawsuits brought by scores of detainees who are challenging their detentions. In June, the Supreme Court ruled in a case brought by the Algerians, that Guantanamo Bay detainees have the right to challenge their detentions in federal court under the legal doctrine of habeas corpus.
To review, Boumediene and his cohorts were picked up in Sarajevo on the tip of a single, anonymous person, and accused of plotting to blow up the U.S. enemy, and planning to go to Afghanistan to fight the Americans. Boumediene's case ultimately went to the Supreme Court, causing various right wing heads to 'splode:
Scalia got the ball rolling in his shrieky dissent yesterday, adopting almost word for word, the Fox News/right wing talk show formulation that "Americans will die" if our eternal detainees are allowed to challenge their endless detention in court.
Justice Kennedy's opinion is remarkable in its sweeping disregard for the decisions of both political branches. In a pair of 2006 laws – the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act – Congress and the President had worked out painstaking and good-faith rules for handling enemy combatants during wartime. These rules came in response to previous Supreme Court decisions demanding such procedural care, and they are the most extensive ever granted to prisoners of war.
Yet as Justice Antonin Scalia notes in dissent, "Turns out" the same Justices "were just kidding." Mr. Kennedy now deems those efforts inadequate, based on only the most cursory analysis. As Chief Justice John Roberts makes clear in his dissent, the majority seems to dislike these procedures merely because a judge did not sanctify them. In their place, Justice Kennedy decrees that district court judges should derive their own ad hoc standards for judging habeas petitions. Make it up as you go!
Or not... More on Boumediene himself:
Lakhdar Boumediene, now 41, travelled to Bosnia with five other Algerian men during the civil war in the 1990s, and may have fought with Bosnian forces against the Serbs.
The six stayed in Bosnia, married Bosnian women, were granted citizenship and took jobs working with orphans for various Muslim charities.
In October 2001, the US embassy in Sarajevo asked the Bosnian government to arrest them because of a suspicion they had been involved in a plot to bomb the embassy.
The six men were duly arrested. But after a three-month investigation, in which the Bosnian police searched their apartments, their computers and their documents, there was - according to a report by the New-York-based Center for Constitutional Rights - still no evidence to justify the arrests.
Bosnia's Supreme Court ordered their release, and the Bosnian Human Rights Chamber ruled they had the right to remain in the country and were not to be deported.
However, on the night of 17 January 2002, after they were freed from Bosnian custody, they were seized and rendered to Guantanamo.
Since arriving in Guantanamo, the men have faced repeated allegations of links to al-Qaeda - but the embassy plot has never been mentioned.
Now, all that's left is for the Bush administration to defy the federal judge and continue to hold them anyway, until President Obama is sworn in and the U.S. finally does the right thing. Either way, these men's ordeal is almost over. Let's hope it's not too late, and that they have not become so embittered that they really do become combatants against the United States.
Sorry, Hillary. This is the most powerful woman in America
Nancy Pelosi could sure teach Harry Reid a thing or two about wielding power. If you doubt for a second that she is the most powerful woman in the country, ask yourselves two questions:
1. Who did Nancy Pelosi support for the chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee: fellow Californian Henry Waxman, or John Dingell, who has held the gavel, or been the ranking member, for a quarter century, and who is the longest serving member of the House? Answer: Waxman.
2. Who is going to be the chairman in the 111th Congress? Answer...
The major shift in the leadership also represents a triumph for the left wing of the party, over the doctrinaire old guard. As the Christian Science Monitor puts it:
The 255-member House Democratic conference voted 137 to 122 Thursday to replace Rep. Dingell, a close ally of the auto industry, with Waxman, a longtime champion of environmental causes. The vote places Waxman in charge of a panel with one of the broadest jurisdictions of any congressional committee, responsible for legislative oversight relating to consumer protection, food and drug safety, air quality, energy supply and transmission, telecommunications, and a host of other matters relating to interstate and foreign commerce.
Environmentalists are praising the outcome, which was unusual in that it defied Congress’s seniority system. Dingell, the House’s longest-serving member, assumed office in 1955 and has chaired the energy committee for 28 years.
“Waxman’s victory is a breath of fresh air – of clean air,” wrote Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, an environmental advocacy group. “It was a stunning defeat for the corporate lobbyists on K Street.”
“This is huge for those who’ll want strong action on both climate change and clean energy and energy independence (and health care)” wrote Joseph Romm, a former Clinton energy adviser and a blogger for the Center for American Progress, a think tank headed by John Podesta, Bill Clinton’s former chief-of-staff. “Heck, it’s the second best piece of news on global warming this month!”
Dingell had long opposed measures the auto industry didn't like, like increasing CAFE standards or increasing gas mileage (or building electric cars.) Yet another single that if they want help, Detroit will have to make major changes, and not by slashing the incomes of their employees.
What happens when someone who thinks Sean Hannity delivers the news meets the most accurate poll cruncher in politics (or baseball?) Calamity, that's what.
It all started when a rather surly winger named John Ziegler commissioned a poll for his "documentary," which is aimed at proving that Obama voters were too uninformed to know that their candidate is a fake Muslim, un-Christian terrorist, just like Fox News said he was. Ziegler got poor John Zogby (perhaps he played the "Z" card) to conduct what amounted to a push poll, prompting Zogby to post the following disclaimer on his website:
"We stand by the results our survey work on behalf of John Ziegler, as we stand by all of our work. We reject the notion that this was a push poll because it very simply wasn't. It was a legitimate effort to test the knowledge of voters who cast ballots for Barack Obama in the Nov. 4 election. Push polls are a malicious effort to sway public opinion one way or the other, while message and knowledge testing is quite another effort of public opinion research that is legitimate inquiry and has value in the public square. In this case, the respondents were given a full range of responses and were not pressured or influenced to respond in one way or another. This poll was not designed to hurt anyone, which is obvious as it was conducted after the election. The client is free to draw his own conclusions about the research, as are bloggers and other members of society. But Zogby International is a neutral party in this matter. We were hired to test public opinion on a particular subject and with no ax to grind, that's exactly what we did. We don't have to agree or disagree with the questions, we simply ask them and provide the client with a fair and accurate set of data reflecting public opinion." - John Zogby
Ziegler then released a popular Youtube video, in which he sets up various Obama voters, most of them black, to look foolish because they could only remember bad things about Sarah Palin, but not ancient bad things about Joe Biden or untrue bad things about Obama:
Enter Nate Silver, the poll number cruncher extraordinaire. He called Zogby & Ziegler out on the push poll:
Most of the questions on the survey take the form of a multiple choice political knowledge test, stating a "fact" to the respondent and asking them which of the four major candidates (Obama, McCain, Biden, Palin) the statement applies to. Questions include the following:
"Which of the four [candidates] said his policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and make energy rates skyrocket?"
"Which of the four [candidates] started his political career at the home of two former members of the Weather Underground?"
"Which of the four [candidates] quit a previous campaign because of plagiarism?"
"Which of the four [candidates] won his first election by getting opponents kicked off the ballot?"
As should be obvious, the veracity of several of these claims is -- at best -- debatable, yet they are apparently represented as factual to the respondent. It is not clear whether the respondent is informed of the "correct" response after having had the question posed to him.
There was also a question: "which of the four candidates said "I can see Russia from my House?" The correct answer? Tina Fey. Seriously.
Which brought the former talk radio host out in Ziegler, who got so mad, he called Silver up, for an on the record interview. It didn't go well:
NS: Do you stand by all the statements in the survey as being unambiguously true? JZ: I stand one hundred percent by the notion that there is absolutely zero ambiguity as to what the right answer is to any of the questions. With the one exception of the Palin-Russia-Alaska question which we asked the way we did for a very specific purpose which was to try and gauge the Tina Fey Effect which I think we did in a very effective manner which was what was actually said by Tina Fey, everyone attributed to Sarah Plain. But for purposes of scoring Obama supporters’ answers we counted Palin as a correct response.
NS: What was the right answer to that [Palin] question? JZ: The technically accurate question [sic] is that none of the four people said that, but we counted it as correct if they said Sarah Palin.
NS: Why would you commission a survey question with no correct response? JZ: The purpose of the question, you pinhead, was we wanted to determine the Tina Fey Effect.
NS: Were the interviews conducted by telephone or online? JZ: How can you ask a question like that and pretend that you have any clue what you're writing about! That's unbelievable that someone could write what you did! That is unbelievable that you wouldn't know that it's a telephone or an online poll and that you went on my summaries of the questions before the questions were even released!
NS: We’ve heard reports from our readers that very similar questions had been asked in an online format. There was no online component at all? JZ: That is correct, which you would have known if you had looked at the information. Before you called this a push poll -- you don't seem to know the definition of a push poll. How do you have this website?
NS: Is the complete interview available anywhere -- complete results for the interview? JZ: Yeah if you had done your research it is all online, every question, all the cross-tabs. Man, you're never going to post this [transcript], are you? ...
Um ... yes ... he was going to post that transcript. (Ahem).
So let's review: John Ziegler doesn't do well on the telephone, and he thinks that the mainstream media would do better to follow the lead of talk radio hosts when presenting news and information in advance of an election. By the way, if you keep reading the transcript, Ziegler also reveals that he's pretty confident Obama is a Muslim, and not at all confident that the president elect accepts Jesus Christ as his personal savior.
The emerging shape of the Obama administration has some on the left up in arms. The problem: too many Clintonites, from Rahm Emanuel to Eric Holder to, well, Hillary (if she takes the State job.) Well, to those who are going over the edge, I'd say calm down. There are three reasons why Barack Obama's Clinton grabs are a damned good idea:
1. He doesn't want to be George w. Bush. Obama is avoiding the classic mistake made by George W. Bush, who brought with him a cloistered Texas crew that was loyal to him, but not loyal enough to the Constitution, or schooled enough in the ways of Washington to help Bush marshall lasting support on Capitol Hill. In fact, Bush is known both for policy tunnel vision and for having dissed even Republicans on the Hill in pursuit of total, ego-boosting power. Now, when he's down, they're not willing to stand up for him.
2. He wants to get things done. Besides, why bring a gaggle full of Washington newbies to the White House when you can choose experienced hands instead? Obama already signaled that he knows how tough his full agenda will be to get through congress, so he picked Biden, a 26-year Hill vet who knows whose coats to pull to get what the president wants. And by adding people who actually did the damned thing during the 1990s to his staff and Cabinet, he's giving his agenda the best possible chance at succeeding by bringing in people who know the game, know the players, and command instant respect. (The Tom Daschle pick for HHS is the latest example. Who better to push through complex healthcare legislation than a former majority leader with long experience at twisting arms? Once you get back the WTF factor, the Hillary pick is another. Why spend 6 months rolling out a new face at State when you can send someone around the world with 100 percent first-name only name ID? World leaders don't have to "get to know her" as they did with Condi Rice. And her respect level with them will be built in, as will her leverage, which is called Bill Clinton.)
3. He values creative dissonance. The Obama White House will clearly not be filled with yes-men. Obama is assembling a team that is a mix of Chicago-based loyalists, but with exterior ties (Emanel, Holder) and Washington thinkers who can challenge both him, and each other. That will help him avoid some of the tunnel vision that did poor Bush in, once he let his administration be overwhelmed by Cheney and the neocons.
Begich was declared the winner in Alaska’s Senate race after he “widened his lead to 3,724 votes in Tuesday's count of absentee and questioned ballots. The lead is insurmountable, as the only votes left to count are approximately 2,500 ballots from overseas,” the Anchorage Daily News reports. “Stevens could ask for a recount but his campaign would have to pay for it. The state pays if the margin is within .5 percent of the total votes cast. But Begich leads by just over 1 percent with more than 315,000 votes cast in the race.”
What's going on up there above the lower 48?
Anyhoo, a win is a win, and the Dems now have 58 votes (theoretically) to play with in the next session, including, of course, the new Senate Majority Leader, Joe Lieberman.
*Note: The two vacant / undecided seats are currently open, but they will likely be filled by the beginning of this Congress:
One Illinois seat is vacant: President-elect Barack Obama (D) resigned during the 110th Congress. This seat will be filled by a replacement appointed by a Democratic governor and will therefore likely be Democratic.
Finally, Delaware does not yet have a vacancy but VP-elect Joe Biden (D) will resign on/before January 20, 2009. This seat will be filled by a replacement appointed by a Democratic governor and will therefore likely be Democratic.
The national media may be fixated on would-be U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's role in former President Bill Clinton's Marc Rich pardon, but here in Florida, it's all about Elian. Eight years ago, it was all Elian all the time in Miami, as an adorable, six-year-old Cuban boy named Elian Gonzales survived a deadly flotilla across the Florida Strait, lost his mother on the voyage, arrived on the shores of Miami on Thanksgiving Day, 1999, and touched off a months-long international custody battle between his father back in Cuba, and Miami relatives he barely knew. The ensuing drama turned a small family home into a shrine, turned Elian into a zoo animal, playing in his new front yard, with his politician-issued puppy, in front of crowds of thousands, and launched the phrase: "form the human chain!" (While simultaneously causing actor Andy Garcia to redevelop a strong Cuban accent while arguing that 6-year-olds who are being assailed by ideologues and bribed with Disneyworld and puppies should determine their own futures...)
The Elian mess, which stretched on and on through the spring of 2000, ended the promising political career of then- Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, who had been considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, destined for national office. But his veiled threat to federal law enforcement, that they would not receive the assistance or protection of county police if they came to retrieve the boy from his Miami relatives' home, was the first nail in his political coffin. The second came when he continued to hold a grudge after Elian was sent back to Cuba, and turned his back on Al Gore during the recount.
It strained relations between former Dade County State Attorney Janet Reno, the then-U.S. Attorney General, and the Cuban-American community, piling additional strain on her following the previous Waco debacle (and bitter fights over what to do about Whitewater.)
And it launched the hopefully promising writing career of your humble blogger. My first paid writing assignment, from Salon Magazine, came when I submitted a poem called "Green Eggs and Jan":
I am Jan, Jan I am. I will not pick up Elian.
I will not put him in a car, I will not take him near or far, I will not go inside that house, That Waco thing still freaks me out.
I will not take him in the rain, I will not put him on a plane, I will not pick him up, you see, The exiles would be mad at me.
I will not take him to his dad, Would you make Gloria Estefan mad? I will not send him to Fidel, Cause Marisleysis says it's hell. ...
Read the whole thing here. Of course, "Jan" (Reno) ultimately did retrieve Elian, and send him back to Cuba, and Cuban exiles have never forgotten it.
Elian is retrieved from a closet in the home of his uncle, Lazaro. He was being hidden in the closet by a lying, self-serving fisherman, Donato Dalrymple (the progenitor to "Joe the Fake Plumber") who quickly used up his 15 minutes of fame.
Nor have they forgotten who here deputy was: one Eric Holder.
And now that Holder is apparently on the road to becoming our next A.G., the exile community is all riled up again. From this morning's Miami Herald:
Two veterans of the Elián González saga are expected to be named to top posts in Democrat Barack Obama's administration, infuriating some Cuban-American Republicans who haven't forgotten the 6-year-old boy seized in Miami and sent back to the communist regime.
The Associated Press is reporting that Obama's top choice for U.S. attorney general is Eric Holder, who served as deputy attorney general during the 2000 raid in Miami. Greg Craig, who represented González's father in the custody battle, is expected to be named White House counsel.
Both were advisors to Obama during his presidential campaign, prompting a small contingent of Cuban exiles to protest outside of his speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Miami in June.
President-elect Obama has not made the appointments official, but both the Republican National Committee and some Cuban-American leaders in Miami are already signaling their disapproval.
''This is a clear sign that the Obama administration is diametrically opposed to the concerns and views of the Cuban-American community,'' said state Rep. David Rivera of Miami, who helped organize the June protest. ``It is a blatant and disrespectful slap in the face.''
Two for the Elianistas to hate. Wow. And look for the newly, and unfortunately, re-elected Diaz-Balart brothers to use the Holder and Craig appointments as an opportunity to show out at their anti-Castro, single issue best, which, by the way, will be a very good thing for the Democrats. You see, the Elian circus was just that, and it didn't exactly ingratiate the exile community with the rest of the planet, or to anyone who, I don't know, isn't down with threatening and opposing federal law enforcement for your own ideological ends (or keeping a little boy from his dad and in the arms of strangers for the same reasons.) If the political leadership of the exile right decides to make a similar spectacle of themselves over Holder and Craig, as they did in 2000, just sit back, and watch the Democratic caucus grow in Washington in 2010.
Meanwhile: ABC News has Holder's own recounting of the sad aftermath of the raid on Elian's temporary home in Little Havana:
In April 2000, then-Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder appeared on "Good Morning America" where he discussed the controversial raid on the home of Elian Gonzalez's Miami relatives to seize the child and return him to Cuba.
And he told Diane Sawyer about an unusual behind-the-scenes moment he shared with Attorney General Janet Reno.
"At the conclusion of this, I closed the door, at the time of the raid, and I held the attorney general in my arms, and she wept," Holder said. "She did not want this to happen. She cares a great deal about that community, and hoped and prayed that there was a way in which this thing could have been worked out, short of the enforcement action that she very reluctantly had to order."
CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports Elian has spent the past eight years living in Cuba with his father, now a member of the Cuban National Assembly. His "American" home is a museum today. Relatives have moved on and rarely talk to the media.
Cobiella reports that many in south Florida's exile community see the boy's acceptance into the Communist Party as proof he has grown into Fidel Castro's pawn and propaganda tool.
"He's been using Elian as a needle in the side of free democratic loving Cuban exiles," says Cuban-American Marc Smit, "and he's going to continue using that."
Elian was one of 18-thousand young Cubans officially inducted into the party last weekend. The communist youth newspaper, Juventud Rebelde, quoted the 14-year-old as saying he would never let down ex-President Fidel Castro or his brother, Raul.
Who knew? Benedict Arnold was from Connecticut, too!
Courtesy of an astute commentator at the Hartford Courant, this tantalizing bit of historic irony:
Does anyone ask what the perception is of Connecticut voters by the rest of the country, given the behavior of the two persons representing us in the U.S. Senate? One uses his office to line his own pockets and the other has no loyalty to his party. A traitor and a cheater are the kind of people Connecticut has elected to the Senate. But why should anybody be surprised: Benedict Arnold was from Connecticut.
Thanks, "injunjoe" ... now, as to Benedict Lieber... Arnold...
On 19 June, as he was still too lame for field service, Washington put him in command of Philadelphia, which the British had just evacuated. The Tory sentiment in that city was strong, and had been strengthened by disgust at the alliance with France, a feeling which Arnold seems to have shared. He soon became engaged to a Tory lady, Margaret, daughter of Edward Shippen, afterward chief justice of Pennsylvania. She was celebrated for her beauty, wit, and nobility of character. During the next two years Arnold associated much with the Tories, and his views of public affairs were no doubt influenced by this association. He lived extravagantly, and became involved in debt. He got into quarrels with many persons, especially with Joseph Reed, president of the executive council of the state. These troubles wrought upon him until he made up his mind to resign his commission, obtain a grant of land in central New York, settle it with some of his old soldiers, and end his days in rural seclusion. His request was favorably entertained by the New York legislature, but a long list of charges now brought against him by Reed drove the scheme from his mind.
The charges were investigated by a committee of congress, and on all those that affected his integrity he was acquitted. Two charges -- first, of having once in a hurry granted a pass in which some due forms were overlooked, and, secondly, of having once used some public wagons, which were standing idle, for saving private property in danger from the enemy--were proved against him; but the committee thought these things too trivial to notice, and recommended an unqualified verdict of acquittal. Arnold then, considering himself vindicated, resigned his command of Philadelphia. But as Reed now represented that further evidence was forthcoming, congress referred the matter to another committee, which shirked the responsibility through fear of offending Pennsylvania, and handed the affair over to a court-martial. Arnold clamored for a speedy trial, but Reed succeeded in delaying it several months under pretence of collecting evidence. On 26 Jan., 1780, the court-martial rendered its verdict, which agreed in every particular with that of the committee of congress; but for the two trivial charges proved against Arnold, it was decided that he should receive a reprimand from the commander-in-chief. Washington, who considered Arnold the victim of persecution, couched the reprimand in such terms as to convert it into eulogy, and soon afterward offered Arnold the highest command under himself in the northern army for the next campaign. But Arnold in an evil hour had allowed himself to be persuaded into the course that has blackened his name forever.
By May of 1779, Arnold had begun bargaining with the British. Why would a man commit treason against his country, especially one who had fought so valiantly? We can only speculate. He was certainly angry and hurt over the many slights he received over the years. He probably felt unappreciated by his country and those he fought with, even sacrificing his own leg for the cause. His pride was most likely the biggest piece of his life that was damaged — humiliation was always an affront Arnold could never take. Money, of course, played a big part. He was offered in excess of 10,000 pounds and a commission in the British military.
At the time, Arnold's wife was considered an innocent in the matter, however, new research leads us to believe that the young woman played an important part in knowing what was going on and aiding her husband's endeavors. The occupation of Philadelphia during the winter of 1777-1778 was an exciting one for the young woman. Parties, routs, and balls were all aspects of the social scene with numerous British officers and Tory sympathizers. Peggy had made some friends among them.
The bounty Arnold offered the British was West Point. He began correspondence with Major John Andre by a circuitous route. Andre had been friends with Peggy Shippen Arnold during the Philadelphia occupation. Andre was an adjutant general and intelligence chief of Sir Henry Clinton. Washington offered Arnold the position of left wing of the army, in the meantime, which earlier in Arnold's career would have been a coup. He used his crippled leg as an excuse and was given West Point instead.
Andre was the courier between Arnold and Clinton regarding the closing of the deal. With his ship forced back by American troops, Andre was sent on foot back to British lines with a pass from Arnold as well as documents for Clinton in his sock. He was captured and placed into American custody when the documents were found. Arnold heard of his capture and was able to make his escape...to the same ship, the Vulture, which Andre had arrived on. Andre was put on trial, and met his death as a spy. Arnold defected to the British and received substantial remuneration for his defection. These included pay, land in Canada, pensions for himself, his wife and his children (five surviving from Peggy and three from his first marriage to Margaret) and a military commission as a British Provincial brigadier general.
The British provided handsomely for Arnold, but never completely trusted him. He was never given an important military command. They moved to London where he found no job, some admiration and even some contempt. He moved his family to Canada where he reentered the shipping business. The Tories there disliked him and had no use for him, and eventually he returned his family to London. When the fighting began between France and England, he tried again for military service, but to no avail. His shipping ventures eventually failed and he died in 1801, virtually unknown, his wife joining him in death three years later.
Joe Lieberman also ditched his first wife, also collaborated with the enemy, also tangled with a guy named "Reed" and was scrutinized by a Congress that failed to nail him, and also is from Connecticut. Could London be far behind?
The Wapo reports, the Bush administration is trying electioneering by other means:
Just weeks before leaving office, the Interior Department's top lawyer has shifted half a dozen key deputies -- including two former political appointees who have been involved in controversial environmental decisions -- into senior civil service posts.
The transfer of political appointees into permanent federal positions, called "burrowing" by career officials, creates federal sinecures for those employees, and at least initially will deprive the incoming Obama administration of the chance to install its preferred appointees in some key jobs.
Similar efforts are taking place at other agencies. Two political hires at the Labor Department have already secured career posts there, and one at the Department of Housing and Urban Development is trying to make the switch.
Between March 1 and Nov. 3, according to the federal Office of Personnel Management, the Bush administration allowed 20 political appointees to become career civil servants. Six political appointees to the Senior Executive Service, the government's most prestigious and highly paid employees, have received approval to take career jobs at the same level. Fourteen other political, or "Schedule C," appointees have also been approved to take career jobs. One was turned down by OPM and two were withdrawn by the submitting agency. ad_icon
The personnel moves come as Bush administration officials are scrambling to cement in place policy and regulatory initiatives that touch on issues such as federal drinking-water standards, air quality at national parks, mountaintop mining and fisheries limits.
Why do such things? Because federal employees with civil service protections -- something conservatives purportedly dislike -- are harder to fire (you know, like pesky union workers.) and keeping them around can mean locking in bad policies for years to come:
Most of the personnel shifts have been done on a case-by-case basis, but Interior Solicitor David L. Bernhardt moved to place six deputies in senior agency positions with one stroke, including two who have repeatedly attracted controversy. Robert D. Comer, who was Rocky Mountain regional solicitor, was named to the civil service post of associate solicitor for mineral resources. Matthew McKeown, who served as deputy associate solicitor for mineral resources, will take Comer's place in what is also a career post. Both had been converted from political appointees to civil service status.
In a report dated Oct. 13, 2004, Interior's inspector general singled out Comer in criticizing a grazing agreement that the Bureau of Land Management had struck with a Wyoming rancher, saying Comer used "pressure and intimidation" to produce the settlement and pushed it through "with total disregard for the concerns raised by career field personnel." McKeown -- who as Idaho's deputy attorney general had sued to overturn a Clinton administration rule barring road-building in certain national forests -- has been criticized by environmentalists for promoting the cause of private property owners over the public interest on issues such as grazing and logging.
One career Interior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to jeopardize his position, said McKeown will "have a huge impact on a broad swath of the West" in his new position, advising the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service on "all the programs they implement." Comer, the official added, will help shape mining policy in his new assignment.
"It is an attempt by the outgoing administration to limit as much as possible [the incoming administration's] ability to put its policy imprint on the Department of Interior," the official said.
So, why does the Bush administration hate America?
Attention all Caribbean massive: Eric Holder could become the first Caribbean-American attorney general (following on the heels of first CaribAm secretary of state, Jamaican-American Collin Powell.) Still, if Holder gets the post (which signs seem to indicate he will,) he would also be yet another Clinton holdover (though in Holder's case, as in Rahm Emanuel's, one who is much more an FOB (friend of Barack) than an FOBB (friend of Big Bill)...
Chuck Hagel let's it rip during a forum at the Johns Hopkins School of Advances International Studies, going after a choice few GOPers, including El Rushbo:
"We are educated by the great entertainers like Rush Limbaugh," said Hagel, sarcastically referencing the talk radio host who once called him "Senator Betrayus." "You know, I wish Rush Limbaugh and others like that would run for office. They have so much to contribute and so much leadership and they have an answer for everything. And they would be elected overwhelmingly," he offered. "[The truth is] they try to rip everyone down and make fools of everybody but they don't have any answers."
And adding this gem:
"There is always going to be a certain know-nothing element to democracy," said Hagel. "That is their choice. But in a world that is so vitally interconnected, it does help if you try to understand the other side... Ask them: 'What is it that scares you about the French so much?'"
As to what he'll do next, after leaving the Senate, Hagel brought the funny:
There is news today that [Obama] is in serious negotiations with Warren Buffet for Buffet to buy the entire United States government," Hagel joked in the opening of his speech. "I applaud that. I am seeking the job of buffet's driver. He is the only one who has money. Obviously we think highly of warren and we take great pride that he is a cornhusker."
Is SecDef filled yet? This guy's great. Brace yourself for El Ego's response tomorrow.
55 Democratic Senators slipped into a private room in the Dirksen Office Building in Washington to decide the fate of Joseph Lieberman today; 42 of them voted to tuck in their tails and accede to his blackmail. We don't know the roll call, but I think we can figure it out, starting with the three "compromise" crafters:
Ken Salazar (CO), Chris Dodd (CT) and Thomas Carper (Del) who had previously said Lieberman should "pay the consequences" (I guess he changed his mind)
Dick Durbin and John Kerry, about whom TPM reports:
John Kerry and Obama-ally Dick Durbin were among four Democratic Senators in today's closed-door Dem caucus meeting who supported for keeping Joe Lieberman as chair of the Homeland Security committee, a Democratic aide who was briefed on the meeting by a Senator who was there tells us.
The aide also offered these details from the meeting: Thirteen Senators voted against a resolution to condemn Lieberman but to allow him to keep the chairmanship. We don't know the full list yet, and will update when we know more.
Two Senators spoke out in favor of removing him: Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders.
Among the Senators who supported Lieberman keeping the chairmanship, according to the source: Kerry, Durbin, Ben Cardin, and Tom Udall.
Democratic Sens. John Kerry (Mass.), Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), Ben Cardin (Md.) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) spoke in favor of Lieberman, as did Sen.-elects Tom Udall (N.M.) and Jeff Merkley (Ore.), according to a senior Democratic aide. Speaking against Lieberman were Sens. Bernie Sanders (I) and Patrick Leahy (D), both of Vermont, who had said Lieberman should lose his chairmanship.
Add, per previous reporting, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson.
Two members of Connecticut's Democratic state central committee, Audrey Blondin and Myrna Watanabe, say they still plan to ask Connecticut's top Democrats to consider a resolution repudiating Lieberman for publicly backing McCain. It would also ask him to resign from the party.
A meeting of state Democrats is scheduled for Dec. 17.
Check out this post-cave press conference today, and note how 1) Lieberman defies Harry Reid's statement to the reporters that Lieberman will not be speaking, 2) Lieberman emphasizes that he will be the chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Operations Committee and the Armed Services subcommittee, while minimizing any sense that he was "chastened" during the meeting, and 3) the Senators evacuate the premises shortly after Lieberman pushes forward and begins speaking. Oh, and another thing: guess what the first thing Joe plans to do when the 111th Congress convenes, or more importantly, who he plans to do it with? Here's a hint: it has to do with the committee he supposedly relinquished, not as punishment, but "to make room for new members who want to be on the committee," and it involves the guy he just nearly divorced the Democrats for a second time over. Watch:
Lieberman obviously feels not a whit of contrition. He knows who's in charge, and it's not Harry Reid.
The ephemeral power of the Senate leadership was revealed as the colorful vapor it is today. Joe Lieberman didn't just survive a vote on his future in the Senate leadership, he mopped up the withering opposition to him, including cowing Harry Reid, the "leader" of the Senate. Around the web we go, first to the Huffpo with the vote count:
Lieberman's colleagues in the Democratic caucus voted 42-13 Tuesday to approve a resolution condemning statements made by Lieberman during the campaign but allowing him to keep the Homeland Security Committee gavel. He will leave the Environment and Public Works panel, however.
As you can see, it wasn't even close. From the Hotline blog, here's the Senate's chief Quizzler, Mr. Reid:
"Joe Lieberman is a Democrat, he's part of this caucus."
"We accepted the statement made by one of the more senior members of the Senate that this was not the time for retribution. It was a time for moving forward on the problems of this country.“
"We have all kinds of problems that we need to move forward on, and we need to be unified. We need to be unified as Democrats, we need to be unified as a Senate, and that's what this meeting that we just complete was all about: Moving forward."
"I pretty well understand anger. I would defy anyone to be more angry than I was. ... But I also believe that if you look at the problems we face as a nation, is this a time we walk out of here saying, 'Boy, did we get even?' I am very satisfied with what we did today. I feel good about what we did today. I don't apologize to anyone [about] what we did today. We're moving forward."
"The question is, 'Do I trust Senator Lieberman?' The answer is 'yes' I trust Senator Lieberman.'"
If trust were horse manure, Reid apparently would be covered in it. Now to Politico, where we meet the architects of the Democrats' most dramatic fold-down to date:
Lieberman gave a nod to President-Elect Barack Obama who had reportedly urged a mild rebuke that would keep the former Democratic nominee from defecting to the GOP caucus.
But he saved his warmest thanks for Sens. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), Thomas Carper (D-Del.) and Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), who introduced today's compromise resolution.
Remember those names in case any of those jokers is up for re-election in 2010... and throw in Florida Senator Bill Nelson, and DSCC chair Chuch Schumer in the barrel while you're at it. Still working on the other members of the gang of 43.
The vote on Lieberman's fate came in a closed-door session in which Lieberman, members of the Democratic Senate leadership and some current and soon-to-be-senators all spoke.
Sources who were inside the meeting said Lieberman did not apologize for supporting McCain during the campaign, but that he did say he was sorry for some of the statements he made about Obama.
Oh, yes, the apology. Outside the secret bitch session (and I don't mean "bitch" in the sense of the word "complain..." Lieberman explained his supposed contrition:
"There are some (statements) that I made that I wish I had not," Lieberman told reporters. "In the heat of campaigns, that happens to all of us, but I regret that. And now it's time to move on."
Yes, well... I'm all for forgiveness and all that, but not in this case. Joe Lieberman has made a virtual career out of screwing Democrats, from his hypocritical tisking of Bill Clinton during the whole Monica mess (Joe himself ditched the first wife because she wasn't pious enough... ahem...) to his neocon boosterism for war in Iraq. Now, Democrats have put him in a position to thwart the Obama administration's attempts to ramp down the Orwellian "homeland security" tactics imposed unconstitutionally upon the country by the Bush administration, or to investigate the president at will. Remember, if you make Joe angry, he promises to punish you by becoming a Republican. I assume that after bitch slapping his Democratic former colleagues, that threat remains not only operable, but more ominous than ever.
How many times can you say "nigger" on talk radio without attracting the attention of the FCC? That was the question Don Imus tackled this morning on his resuscitated program, broadcast from WABC in New York to affiliates far and wide, including 940 WINZ, the "progressive talk" (cough)/Fox News radio station here in South Florida. Imus had as his guest (and still does, I think, as of this posting,) fellow domestic dinosaur Dick Cavett, who has a new post up at the New York Times website called "The Wild Wordsmith of Wasila," which, as it should, disses poor, chatty Sarah Palin.
During what seemed like an hour long conversation (though I was only in my car listening for a few minutes as I pulled into my driveway...) Cavett managed to somehow steer poor Don from a perfectly benighn chat about the Times column, into a rather uncomfortable sidebar about the n-word; why there are "words we're not allowed to say," reminiscences on the aides who tried to teach Lyndon Johnson to say "Negro" instead of "niggra," George Wallace telling Cavett at some point in history that he "gave niggras jobs," Cavett's posession of a Nixon tape in which an aide, presumably Patrick Buchanan, asks Nixon aide Dan Ehrlichman, "this Cavett... how can we screw him?" ... and in Cavet's words, "why if your grandfather is Chinese, you're a white man, and if your grandfather is black, you're a Negro," to which he added, "I don't get it. When Barack Obama says he's a black man I say, yeah but you're a white man too, fifty percent. On some deeper level, I suppose I get it."
And our boy Dick didn't stop there. He then launched into a dissertation on the book that Hemingway called the book from which all other modern American literature sprang: "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," and the book's "heart and soul," Nigger Jim. After Cavett had said "Nigger Jim" about three times, and opined on some modern day "Negro" who wanted the book banned, and who just didn't understand that Nigger Jim was "the goodest character in the book," Imus, who has developed a psychiatric condition that falls somewhere between a needy fixation on race and a massive martyr complex over his firing by CBS Radio and MSNBC, promptly changed the subject. Promptly.
You could almost see poor old Don melting like warm jello in his WABC-issue chair.
Have you noticed the concerted effort, on talk radio, in the Wall Street Journal, and on the political right, to blame the Big Three auto makers' woes, not on the management whose bloated salaries and bad decisions helped get their industry into the fix their in, but rather on "greedy," unionized workers, who over the years demanded too much pay, and too many health and retirement benefits, all via their evil union, the United Auto Workers? A sample:
Sen. Jim DeMint: “Some auto manufacturers are struggling because of a bad business structure with high unionized labor costs and burdensome federal regulations. Taxpayers did not create these problems and they should not be forced to pay for them.”
Sen. Jon Kyl: “For years they’ve been sick. They have a bad business model. They have contracts negotiated with the United Auto Workers that impose huge costs.The average hourly cost per worker in this country is about $28.48. For these auto makers, it’s $73. And for the Japanese auto companies working here in the United States, it’s $48.”
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: “You know, if you pay the auto workers or the benefits and all of those things, are maybe too high. … We have, like, in America, you sell a car, and you have $2,000 of each car just goes to benefits. So I think that there’s a way of reducing all of that, make them more fiscally responsible.”
And this from right wing CNS News, whose Dan Gainor says a proposed bailout:
... has little to do with saving Detroit and a lot to do with helping out the Democratic Party’s political machine. The chief recipient of this deal isn’t the companies, it’s the union. A bailout of Detroit would secure that the Big Three continue to fail and pay exorbitant sums to thousands of union workers.
The Los Angeles Times says unions funded the Democratic victory to the tune of more than $80 million just this election. The San Francisco Chronicle puts the number a bit higher – $450 million. Either way, they want their payback. They already have two things in mind – eliminating secret ballots in union elections and saving their 139,000 brothers and sisters in the United Auto Workers.
So let me get this straight: it's a bad thing for the American blue collar worker to reach for the highest wages and best benefits he can get, but fine for the CEO of his company to make 400 times his salary? And by the way, these are the same types who advocate ever increasing tax cuts for CEOs, who deserves the break, apparently, while the working screw deserves a pay cut. That's one of the tenets of right wing economic theory: that CEOs should be able to amass huge, tax-free fortunes, and be trusted to "trickle down" the benefits to the slobs who work for them. I suppose Kyl and Gainor and friends would rather see American workers paid more like the workers in "more efficient" countries, like India? As Pat Buchanan put it recently, it used to be a badge of honor in this country that our workers were the best paid, hardest working people in the world. Meanwhile, as ThinkProgress points out:
Financial firms AIG, Merrill Lynch, and Bear Stearns did not have unionized workers but still suffered economic collapses. Frozen credit markets and a spiraling recession were major contributors to Detroit’s current state.
And the financial services firms pay a hell of a lot more than Detroit. The ethos of the Republican right -- that the wealthy should have unlimited earning potential, but average Americans are "greedy" if they want the same thing, and that tax cuts should be weighted always toward the wealthy, who shouldn't be punished, while workers should, at all costs, be prevented from unionizing, and thereby gaining wages and benefits that rightly belong to their betters. No wonder Republicans have lost everyone in this country who isn't dumb enough to cheer for his or her own demise.
Just when you stopped fretting that Democrats were p***ies, the Senate leadership strikes again. Word on the street is that Joe "The Traitor" Lieberman will keep his Homeland Security committee chairmanship in that secret ballot tomorrow, sending the unmistakable message to future turncoats that it's okay to buck not just Harry Reid, but the party itself, trash the party's nominee, and behave like the lowest form of right wing knife thrower, because after the election, all will be forgiven, if you threaten to walk. Great job, guys. So what slap on the wrist do the quizzling Dems have in mind?
Senators and aides said yesterday that Sens. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) would present a plan at a caucus meeting that would strip Lieberman of a low-profile subcommittee chairmanship, possibly one on global warming issues. But Lieberman would retain the gavel of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
"There are going to be options," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), chairman of the Democratic steering committee that oversees the selection of chairmen.
Stabenow declined to comment on what those options would be but said that Dodd and Salazar have spent the past week talking to other Democrats about their plan and suggested that they could avoid a showdown that might send Lieberman across the aisle to caucus with Republicans.
"There's a reasonable way to provide accountability" on Lieberman without stricter punishment, Stabenow said. But she predicted a "spirited debate" because some senators have advocated revoking Lieberman's chairmanship regardless of the consequences.
Spirited. Right. Kos has it right. They should just junk the secret ballot and openly vote to give Lieberman Harry Reid's job. At least he's shown that he's ruthless enough to do it. Still, Kos does reprint one kernel of hope in the Roll Call version of the story:
... sources said the proposal could change based on what Lieberman says to the Conference and how Senators react to both his explanation for his actions and the proposal itself.
The saddest part of this entire charade is that the Senate leadership doesn't even have the stones to put themselves and their colleagues on the record, in public. By allowing Senators to slink into a private room and issue a slap on the wrist to a man who stands in opposition to core principles of the Democratic Party, particularly on Iraq, and who called the in-coming president "dangerous," a creature of Hamas, and a man who causes Lieberman to "fear" for the country, makes a mockery of the upper house. And the idea that they are hiding behind Barack Obama, who merely said he'd like to see Lieberman remain in the caucus -- something that is entirely up to Joe -- and not that he wants him to remain as Homeland Security committee chair, is nothing short of pathetic.
My vote: boycott the DSCC. Don't give a dime to the committee, or to any sitting Democratic Senator unless you are certain they vote against Lieberman tomorrow, and when they run for re-election, vote for whoever runs against the bastards (Bill Nelson included.) Or if they don't have a challenger, draft one.
Just as a reminder, let's have a listen to Joe Lieberman's analysis of what should be done. You'll note here that he takes nothing back, and ends his comment with a not-so-veiled threat to exercise his "options"...
I would expect him to be just as smug tomorrow morning ... and win. Previous:
She'll take it: and why it's a good idea is she does
The Guardian reports that if (or more like "when") the secretary of state position is offered, Hillary Clinton will grab the brass ring.
Obama's advisers have begun looking into Bill Clinton's foundation, which distributes millions of dollars to Africa to help with development, to ensure there is no conflict of interest. But Democrats believe the vetting will be straightforward.
Clinton would be well placed to become the country's dominant voice in foreign affairs, replacing Condoleezza Rice. Since being elected senator for New York, she has specialised in foreign affairs and defence. Although she supported the war in Iraq, she and Obama basically agree on a withdrawal of American troops.
Clinton, who still harbours hopes of a future presidential run, had to weigh up whether she would be better placed by staying in the Senate, which offers a platform for life, or making the more uncertain career move to the state department.
With Ted Kennedy firmly in charge of healthcare, I suppose HRC felt this was her best play.
So what about Big Bill's big donors? Apparently, the Obama team has it handled:
The Obama team do not believe that Mr Clinton is a serious obstacle to appointing his wife. Yet if she were given the job she would face scrutiny over her husband’s connections with foreign governments – the same leaders that she would be dealing with on behalf of Mr Obama – and fresh calls for him to reveal the list of foreign donors to his presidential library in Little Rock, Arkansas, and his charitable foundation.
Mr Clinton is not required to reveal the list of donors, and has consistently refused to do so. Known foreign benefactors include the King of Morocco, the governments of Kuwait and Qatar, the Saudi Royal Family and the son-in-law of Leonid Kuchma, Ukraine’s deposed President.
Since founding the Clinton Global Initiative, Mr Clinton says that he has garnered $46 billion (£30.6 billion) that has improved more than 200 million lives in 150 countries.
And that final point may be the most important one. While some Obamaphiles may find the Clinton juxtoposition uncomfortable, I am starting to think it's a damned good idea, not least of which because of the tremendous popularity and good will -- and therefore leverage -- that the Clintons, both of them, have abroad. Bill Clinton's stature will only lend to Hillary's. And she is already a formidable international presence in her own right -- something Obama will need in order to play the major cards he seems destined to play: a serious bid for Israeli-Palestinian peace (the Clintons are trusted by the Israelis, and not an abomination to the Palestinians, and Bill Clinton came closer than any modern president to making peace); negotiations with Iran (HRC's tough rhetoric during the campaign will provide a hawkish shield for Obama's policies), nuclear proliferation and dealing with the fearsome actors of Pakistan and Russia. Hillary can handle the portfolio, she isn't seen as an "Arabist," like Dennis Ross or even James Baker, and she is a known quantity overseas.
Will Bill Clinton use his wife's would-be position to try and overshadow the president? Actually, I don't think so. Big Bill seems comfortable in his role as international statesman -- more so than he did as campaign hatchet man. That is his niche, and as he fills it, he can only help Obama shine.
And another thing: on the domestic front, allowing Hillary to exit the Senate will relieve that body of the "what to offer her" question, ease some tension about putting her into the leadership, and allow New York Gov. David Patterson to appoint a replacement, who would likely be to Hillary's left, adding another progressive voice to the 100-member club. Not bad for a day's work.
Hillary Clinton under consideration for Barack Obama's secretary of state? Believe it.
After an under-wraps meeting with President-elect Barack Obama in Chicago on Thursday, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is now considered a top contender for the role of Secretary of State in the Obama administration, several people involved in the process said on Friday.
Clinton, in an appearance televised live on Friday, said she would not speculate about Obama's Cabinet selections. Her aides have referred questions about the process to the Obama transition team, whose officials are not commenting. Advisers warn that only a small handful of officials know for certain where Clinton ranks on Obama's short list, which also includes Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts.
But one Clinton veteran who is in touch with the transition team called it a "real possibility." Another said she has a "very good chance" of getting the job. Most notably, Obama advisers have done nothing to tamp down speculation about Clinton, as they did when it became clear she would not be Obama's running mate -- even though letting her name hang in the air holds real risks for Obama if he ultimately does not select her, potentially reopening the Democratic primary's wounds.
The mere mention of Clinton's name has set off a frenzy of speculation about the advantages -- and disadvantages -- of selecting his former Democratic rival and former first lady, whom Obama passed over as his vice presidential running mate.
Obama's victory in the general election produced what his primary campaign couldn't: A swift merger of the Clinton Wing of the Democratic Party with the Illinois Senator's self-styled insurgency. The merger began, during the campaign, in the policy apparatus — which is now rapidly becoming the governing apparatus.
The absorption of the Clinton government in waiting represents Obama's choice not to repeat what he and his advisors see as an early mistake made by the last two presidents: Attempting to wield power in Washington through an insular campaign apparatus new to town.
Obama's first major appointments have been Democrats who worked for President Clinton and did not endorse him in the primary: Transition chief John Podesta and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who will be White House chief of staff, stayed neutral, and Ron Klain, who will be Joe Biden's chief of staff, backed Biden. Obama, advisers told Politico, may even be weighing offering Hillary Rodham Clinton herself the Cabinet plum of Secretary of State.
"Obama is showing great good sense in making use of their experience," said William Galston, a former Clinton domestic policy adviser who’s now at the Brookings Institution. "You have an entire cadre of people in their 30s and 40s and early 50s who were either in senior jobs or second- and third-tier jobs in the Clinton administration, who really earned their spurs and know their way around — and know something about how the institutions in which they served actually function."
* Gravitas: Clinton is well-known and well respected in the international community. Is there any question that she could hold her own in delicate negotiations with our international friends or foes? The one thing that became indisputably clear during the Democratic primary race is that voters view Clinton as eminently qualified on nearly every issue. Putting her out as the administration's top diplomat would likely be received, nationally and internationally, as a solid choice.
Number one "con":
* A Free Lancer: As we noted above, the danger for Obama with regards to both Hillary and Bill Clinton is that they will pursue their own agenda -- political and policy-wise -- rather than advocate for the president-elect's preferred issues. While the chances of Clinton free-lancing are far less if she is a member of the Obama cabinet, there is absolutely no way of ensuring that her own views on matters of foreign policy would be subsumed in favor of those of the administration. Having Clinton on the world stage pursuing her own agenda would be potentially very problematic for Obama and, at that point, it would be impossible to put the toothpaste back into the tube.
And that's one hell of a con. Let's see how it all plays out.
Does listening to Sarah Palin talk make you dumber?
A Facebook commenter on CNN said she feels dumber every time she hears the Wasila Queen speak. Here, listen to the titular leader of the Republican Party (smirk) speaking to fellow GOP governors in Miami and see for yourself:
According to CNN's Rick Sanchez, netowork reporter Dana Bash was at the Intercontintal Hotel for the earlier, awkward press conference during which she was flanked by a smattering of unhappy looking conservative fellow governos and which was abruptly cut off after a few minutes by Rick Perry (heretofre to be referred to as Ellie Mae and the Socially Conservatie Pips.)
Not a lot of clapping went on during what sounded an awful lot like Sarah's campaign stump speech. Hell, she even mentioned Joe the Plumber, Tito the Builder, (What? No Bob???) Jack the Dishwasher, there, Pip the pit bull trainer, Jack the Janitor and not to be forgotten: Sweetie the laid off teacher turned call girl. Okay, maybe not ALL of those, also.
If the Henry Paulson press conference yesterday bugged you, you're not alone. I'm still not clear on what, exactly, this guy has done with $300 billion of the $700 billion, or was it $1.2 trillion, he was shoveled by Congress to "save the banks." Now, we're not buying their worthless assets? Oh, and there has been no oversight? Brilliant! Now, there's a big push on, including from the in-coming administration, to bail out the Big Three U.S. auto-makers, whose bad decisions and bad products (try selling a Hummer in Europe. I dare you) over three decades or so got them into the mess they're in. All are headed to Capitol Hill with tin cups in hand, but many in the real world are asking why they should get another $25 billion in government loans (they got that amount before. Did you know that?) from the same taxpayers they've been screwing with their crappy cars?
And as they will, Wall Street Journal types want the bailout, but they want the pensioners, who slaved away in the plants for a quarter century and were promised a decent retirement, to take one for the team. Figures. And Michigan's attractive governor, who can't run for president because she's Canadian, might be in line to be the nation's "car czar," something she earned by being a loyal Obamacrat during the campaign. Great for her. She deserves it. Now, back to the bailout. Why should we do it? (And why not just let the automakers declare bankruptcy, like millions of Americans have had to do? A pro-bankruptcy argument here, and GM's rebuttal to that here.) Five arguments you'll hear today:
1. Detroit is "too big to fail." The industry employs, directly or indirectly, more than 3 million Americans. If GM, Ford and Chrysler (who the hell buys a Chrysler anymore...?) go down, they take their workers, and the restaurants, supermarkets, stores and schools their families patronize, with them. As Dem strategist Peter Fenn puts it:
Let's put aside the 3 million jobs that would be lost in the first year, that 1 in 10 American jobs depend on the industry, that there would be lost wages of $150.7 billion or we would lose $156 billion in taxes paid over three years. Let's look down the road. Do we really want to deep six the cornerstone of American manufacturing when only 13% of the world's population drives cars and this is one of the greatest growth industries of the 21st century?
2. It's not a bailout, it's an opportunity. Any bailout pushed through Congress would likely force Detroit to do what it has resisted for generations: retool and modernize, produce "green" cars that get 40 mpg, and yes, even the electric car they bought up and killed during the 1980s.
3. We must save the workers to save the Obama agenda. Ford has announced it's "temporarily" closing 11 more plants. And GM parts suppliers, even NASCAR, hang in the balance if the Big Three fail. If a failed U.S. auto industry ripples through the economy, it could multiply the potential job losses from 3 million to three times that number. Try doing anything on Obama's list with a cratering tax base.
4. We're not doing much else with the money. The bank bailout is already a hot mess. Henry Paulson can't seem to figure out what else to do, so we might as well do this.
5. 2012. Michigan is a reliable blue state. Democrats owe them, and will need them to re-elect President Obama in four years, especially with a Mitt Romney re-run looming. Okay, a crass argument, but politics is crass.
... from a partisan perspective ... The more Palin the better. But I think we also need to think about this from the broader perspective of national dignity. And simple human decency. You're at a party and someone's drinking too much and starting to do embarrassing things. Even you don't like them, and even if the unlovely part of you thinks it's kind of funny, still someone should step in. On the other hand, if Rush and Sean, are up for it, maybe we just tap another keg?
In other words, somebody pull her away from the cameras. Please.
The Alaska governor said in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer that she would be willing to help if Obama asked her for assistance on some of the issues she highlighted during this year's campaign, such as energy or services for special-needs children.
"It would be my honor to assist and support our new president and the new administration," said Palin, whom Sen. John McCain chose as his running mate in August.
"I speak for other Republicans and Republican governors, also," she said.
"They would be willing also to seize this opportunity that we have to progress this nation together, in a united front."
... and talking in the exact opposite manner as she was just talking:
BLITZER: Because, you know, during a campaign, every presidential campaign, things are said, it's tough, as you well know, it gets sometimes pretty fierce out there. And during the campaign, you said this, you said: "This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America."
And then you went on to say: "Someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he is palling around with terrorists who would target their own country."
PALIN: Well, I still am concerned about that association with Bill Ayers. And if anybody still wants to talk about it, I will, because this is an unrepentant domestic terrorist who had campaigned to blow up, to destroy our Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol. That's an association that still bothers me.
And I think it's still fair to talk about it. However the campaign is over. That chapter is closed. Now is the time to move on and to, again, make sure that all of us are doing all that we can to progress this nation.
Hey! Sarah! That thing ... that Wolf handed you there ... it was a SHOVEL. Stop using it!
If I had to sum up what I hope Senate Democrats' operating principle would be, that would be it. To my way of thinking, John McCain ran a dispicable campaign, allowing himself to become a captive of the very right wingers he used to despise, and handing his reputation over to the same Bushites and neocons who proved, via Collin Powell, what they thought of lofty reputations. His pick of Sarah Palin (or his agreement with the pick) proved that he really was oblivious to what most Americans were concerned about, or that he had started listening to too much right wing talk radio.
That said, John McCain was, after all, a Republican running against a Democrat for president. A certain amount of dirty pool isn't unexpected. More importantly, McCain could be an important partner for the Obama administration going forward, if he can manage to put aside his personal disdain for the incoming president, and his bitterness over the election, and return to his "gang of 14" roots. McCain could provide, and deliver, key votes from the few remaining moderate Republicans (like Miss Lindsey Graham) on everything from immigration to healthcare. Democrats should try to put aside his awful, gutter campaign, and embrace him once again.
Joe Lieberman is another matter.
Lieberman's betrayal of his supposed party and future president were so total, and so slimy, he should face swift and merciless retribution. He went beyond just endorsing his friend, McCain, to become a right wing hatchet man. His desperation to pursue the Iraq war until the end of time is so total, that the difference between him and your average neocon is immaterial. (Before McCain, his previous hug-buddy was none other than George W. Bush.) And his endorsement of Sarah Palin, a completely unserious choice whose elevation as vice president would surely have jeopardize both the standing and the stability of the country, was unforgivable. He ought to have known better, and should now be ridden out of the Democratic caucus on a rail, and if he chooses to caucus with the GOP, so be it. I'd like to see him try to get re-elected in Connecticut in four years if he starts voting the way he warbled during the election. Oh, and the GOP is going to repay his whoring by running a strong candidate against him in 2012. Happy holidays, Joe!
There's also a pragmatic reason for punishing Lieberman, at the least, by taking away his gavel on the Homeland Security committee, and to prevent him to ascending the throne at Armes Services: okay two. One is that Lieberman could very well use his position to try and force Obama to cleve to the neocon line on national security matters, including Iraq, or to undermine him in other ways. The other is that Harry Reid, who doesn't enjoy universal respect out here in Demland, needs to establish both his authority, and the precedent that if a Democrat strays that far out of bounds, there are consequences. Otherwise, what's to stop other conservative Dems from doing as Joe did, in 2012, or even to campaign against Democratic Senators two years from now? Hell, what's to stop JOE from doing so???
The full Democratic caucus will vote on whether Joe Lieberman is allowed to keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee at its caucus meeting next week, a leadership aide confirms to us.
Previously, Reid's office had held this possibility out but hadn't made a final decision on whether to throw Lieberman's fate to the full Dem caucus for a vote.
In the wake of Obama's statement today that he doesn't hold any "grudges" against Lieberman and his decision not to take a position on whether Lieberman keeps his chairmanship, I emailed a leadership aide to ask whether the vote would definitely go forward. His response:
"Yes -- this is a decision that will be made by the caucus next week. Absent a stunning series of events there will be a vote next week in the caucus on whether to strip Senator Lieberman of the chairmanship."
That would appear to make it official.
Meanwhile, the reporting of Sergeant, the Huffpo and others suggests Joe is losing support in the caucus, and he may only hold on to the six Democratic members of the gang of 14. Chris Bowers at OpenLeft (who has personal familiarity with Harry Reid's office,) offers a handy guide to the whip count.
Now would be a good time to call your Senator. Here in Florida, it looks like Bill Nelson, one of several conservative Senate Dems, is in the tank for Lieberman. Not a good look, but he's only one vote. Contact him here:
Washington, D.C. Office United States Senate 716 Senate Hart Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Phone: 202-224-5274 Fax: 202-228-2183
Or you can email him here. Or find your own Senator here. If you do call or email, be respectful. You catch more flies with honey, and all that...
Sarah Palin will be in Miami for the Republican Governors Association meeting this week there, and, you know, she'll be doing a lot of media and press conferences also, and well, when she ... rears her head ... in Miami ... where will she be? So, and ... she wants to be president in 2012 also. You betcha!
When she gets here, on Wednesday I think, Sarah will be welcomed by a chastened Charlie Crist and a battered Republican Party:
In 2006, when the GOP governors gathered in Miami, Crist was dubbed a ''rock star'' at the meeting. He was one of only three nonincumbent Republicans to win governor races in a nation that started leaning Democratic.
This time, the Republican Governors Association meeting comes on the heels of John McCain losing in Crist's state, a Republican must-win, on Election Day.
And the number of real jobs lost is troubling Crist even more. Florida lost 115,000 jobs -- the most in the nation -- in the past year on Crist's watch. The state budget is hemorrhaging money. And Crist's strong poll numbers have slipped slightly in recent months.
The losses have fueled worries about Republican leadership in Florida as well as the nation, targeting every leader from President Bush to Crist himself to Crist's hand-picked state party chief, Jim Greer.
''Crist can't be blamed for McCain running a crummy campaign and being weighed down by the burden of President Bush,'' said national Republican strategist Ed Rollins. ``But Crist needs to rebuild his own party in Florida because it's not as safe for Republicans as it once was.''
Few places are, leaving Republicans to debate which way the party should go. Among the questions: How much can the party push social issues, and how can Republicans attract more minority voters like Hispanics? Hispanics flocked to the Democratic side amid the immigration debate in 2006.
Crist said governors ''traditionally'' have provided the leadership to solve these problems. The RGA spotlight will be on that other fresh-faced Republican governor's race winner from 2006: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose sharp tongue and social conservatism set her apart from the affable centrist from Florida.
''I look forward to seeing her this week'' Crist said Tuesday. ''I think she'll be a significant factor in the future of our party. I certainly hope so.'' What of his own poll numbers and political fortunes? ''I'm not thinking about that. I'm thinking about Florida,'' Crist said, pledging to ``stay focused on the people of our state.''
Crist will likely run for reelection in 2010. Republicans like J.M. ''Mac'' Stipanovich say Crist will beat any Democrat ``like a rented mule.''
But others, like lobbyist and McCain Hispanic outreach chief Ana Navarro, fault Crist for appearing to help himself more than the party or McCain.
''Charlie Crist milked this campaign for all it was worth, used it to enhance his national profile, and never put in any sweat equity. When there were cameras he would show up,'' she said. ``We begged Jeb Bush to come out the last few weeks because we realized Charlie Crist had no coattails. It's clear that any Republican running statewide is more vulnerable than they were four years ago. There's clearly a kink in the organization.''
A chief Florida fundraiser for Crist and McCain, lobbyist Brian Ballard, dismissed Navarro's broadside as hard feelings left over from her support of Crist's Republican opponent in 2006. Ballard said Republicans should credit Barack Obama for a win, and should credit Crist for governing effectively and showing the party how to win.
''There are some who want fire-breathing, red-meat-eating conservatism and are proud to lose with honor. We'll remain in the minority as a result,'' Ballard said. ``I like to win.''
The last time Sarah and Charlie hung out, she was caterwalling about Obama "palling around with terrorists" and being introduced by a 1950s-era southern sheriff. Now, things are slightly different, also.
By the way, many Republicans here in the sunshine state are still sore at Miss Charlie for extending early voting hours, and for restoring many felon voting rights, both of which helped Democrats. But Charlie shouldn't be blamed for McCain's losses here. Obama handed him an historic drubbing among Hispanics statewide, winning 57 percent. And black turnout was overwhelming enough that had Crist not extended early voting hours, he probably would have been sued, and the state would have become a 2000 style embarassment (after which I believe Obama still would have won.) But Republicans have to hang someone, and at the moment, Crist is in the crosshairs. And yet, it is moderates like Crist who represent the future of the party, if it has one, no matter how much Rush and Beck and Hannity squeal. They take pot shots at him at their peril.
He got a roar of approval both inside the convention hall and across Red America for his "drill baby, drill" chant, but former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele would make an awkward -- at best -- choice to head the Republican National Committee, something the Washington Times reports he is vying with Newt Gingrich for (there's also a Draft Steele for RNC site up. Hat tip to Jonathan Martin at Politico.) Writes the Times' Ralph Hallow:
Neither man will acknowledge his interest in the post, but Republicans close to each are burning up the phone lines and firing off e-mails to fellow party members in an effort to oust RNC Chairman Mike Duncan in the wake of the second consecutive drubbing of Republican candidates at the polls.
A bevy of backers for each man, neither of whom is an RNC member, say the committee needs a leader who can formulate a counter-agenda to President-elect Barack Obama's administration and articulate it on the national stage.
"The Republican National Committee has to ask itself if it wants someone who has successfully led a revolution," Randy Evans, Gingrich confidant and personal attorney based in Atlanta, told The Washington Times on Monday. "If it does, Newt's the one."
As a Democrat, and thus a thoroughly disinterested party, I question whether either man is right for the job. As I lay out in this post, the present iteration of the Republican Party is a narrow, regional one, which is almost completely white (90 percent of John McCain's voters were white, and the Republican National Convention in September featured just 3 percent black delegates...) southern/Appalachian, and so culturally conservative that it's hard to imagine Steele having anyone to lead. At best, he'd be seen as the ultimate visual token -- a black guy to counter the Democrats' black president, and as such they'd be committing the Sarah Palin mistake twice: choosing someone for their biological charicteristics without regard to their actual potential impact on the party. At worst, he'd be looked upon as yet another George Bush -- a phony conservative in a media-friendly package, designed to lure the salt of the earth hayseeds down a dangerous path. Actually at really worst, he'd be dismissed by the base as just another city n***er they don't need to listen to.
At the end of the day, if Steele (and Bobby Jindal, or even a moderate northerner like the ousted Senator John Sununu,) represent the future, it is, at least for now, a distant one. I can no more see the hard-bitten, obsessive Palinites cottoning to Michael Steele than I can see them cheering for Barack Obama. Steele would have to fight uphill just to get respect from the base. Selecting him to lead the RNC would scream: "Hey look! We've got an articulate black guy, too!" And how sad would that be?
Gingrich, on the other hand, is both a southerner and a, dare I say, radical conservative, more aligned to who the core of the party is. But his history of failure and scandal should give the party pause. After all, if Newt is the future, then the past is prologue -- and the p0st-Gingrich past is littered with failed impeachment, felons, elected felons, commuted felons, Enron felons and massive, repeated, escalating, electoral defeat.
And yet, he'd be a better choice than Steele, if only because at least the base would listen to him.
Before I jumped into the campaign, I sat in as a reporter on a conference call held by the RNC and the McCain campaign, on which Steele was the headliner (my story from that call is here.) Steele was peevish and defensive, responding sharply to questions about why African-Americans would have any interest whatsoever in his party or candidate, given the atmospherics coming out of the conventions, and the now infamous Sarah Palin rallies. If he is the future leader of the GOP, I didn't hear any whiff of it on that phonecall.
Of course, Steele, who failed to win a Maryland Senate seat in 2006, and attracted little African-American support outside of fading Republican media honcho Cathy Hughes, might have greatness in him. It's just that it's been wasted, so far, on a party that is indifferent-to-hostile to his "type."
Barack Obama won 29 states in the November election, but he won something more important: he improved Democrats' performance in all but 22 counties nationwide, among white voters, urban and suburban voters, Catholics, low income and high income voters, and among more educated voters all over the U.S. His remarkable success among a coalition of better educated white voters, Hispanics, African-Americans and young voters not only propelled him to victory, and helped secure 2012 (the demographics are moving even more his way,) his successful campaign marginalized and isolated a region of the country that used to rule it electorally: the American south. The New York Times reports today:
What may have ended on Election Day, though, is the centrality of the South to national politics. By voting so emphatically for Senator John McCain over Mr. Obama — supporting him in some areas in even greater numbers than they did President Bush — voters from Texas to South Carolina and Kentucky may have marginalized their region for some time to come, political experts say.
The region’s absence from Mr. Obama’s winning formula means it “is becoming distinctly less important,” said Wayne Parent, a political scientist at Louisiana State University. “The South has moved from being the center of the political universe to being an outside player in presidential politics.”
Why is that so?
One reason for that is that the South is no longer a solid voting bloc. Along the Atlantic Coast, parts of the “suburban South,” notably Virginia and North Carolina, made history last week in breaking from their Confederate past and supporting Mr. Obama. Those states have experienced an influx of better educated and more prosperous voters in recent years, pointing them in a different political direction than states farther west, like Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, and Appalachian sections of Kentucky and Tennessee.
Southern counties that voted more heavily Republican this year than in 2004 tended to be poorer, less educated and whiter, a statistical analysis by The New York Times shows. Mr. Obama won in only 44 counties in the Appalachian belt, a stretch of 410 counties that runs from New York to Mississippi. Many of those counties, rural and isolated, have been less exposed to the diversity, educational achievement and economic progress experienced by more prosperous areas.
Many people in these more rural, less educated and less progressive parts of the South and Appalachia remain deeply suspicious of Obama (they form the core of what I call the Palinites -- anti-Washington, anti-government, anti-big city and anti-intellectual, not to mention anti-not-white...) people like this guy, for instance ... (sorry, Lee County. Just try not to get pulled over if you're a Democrat... or if you have a Middle Eastern sounding name...) But for them, and for the country, that doesn't really matter much anymore, at least not electorally or in terms of the exercise of federal power:
Less than a third of Southern whites voted for Mr. Obama, compared with 43 percent of whites nationally. By leaving the mainstream so decisively, the Deep South and Appalachia will no longer be able to dictate that winning Democrats have Southern accents or adhere to conservative policies on issues like welfare and tax policy, experts say.
That could spell the end of the so-called Southern strategy, the doctrine that took shape under President Richard M. Nixon in which national elections were won by co-opting Southern whites on racial issues. And the Southernization of American politics — which reached its apogee in the 1990s when many Congressional leaders and President Bill Clinton were from the South — appears to have ended.
Florida (along with Virginia and North Carolina, and very nearly Georgia,) managed to escape the hold of the old Confederacy, and emerged as a shaky in parts, but fairly solid, part of the New, Suburban South. That's a good thing for Florida, which along with the North Carolina research triangle, is fighting to be a part of the high tech future, and to gain a foothold as a tech hub for Latin America. It's also good news for moderate Republicans like FL Gov. Charlie Crist, who is no Palinite, and who needs a progressive, moderate coalition to beat back what will surely be an aggressive Democratic challenge for his seat in 2010.
From the NYT this morning, a leak the president did not approve of:
The struggling auto industry was thrust into the middle of a political standoff between the White House and Democrats on Monday as President-elect Barack Obama urged President Bush in a meeting at the White House to support immediate emergency aid.
Mr. Bush indicated at the meeting that he might support some aid and a broader economic stimulus package if Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats dropped their opposition to a free-trade agreement with Colombia, a measure for which Mr. Bush has long fought, people familiar with the discussion said.
The Bush administration, which has presided over a major intervention in the financial industry, has balked at allowing the automakers to tap into the $700 billion bailout fund, despite warnings last week that General Motors might not survive the year.
... Mr. Obama went into his post-election meeting with Mr. Bush on Monday primed to urge him to support emergency aid to the auto industry, advisers to Mr. Obama said. But Democrats also indicate that neither Mr. Obama nor Congressional leaders are inclined to concede the Colombia pact to Mr. Bush, and may decide to wait until Mr. Obama assumes power on Jan. 20.Separate from his differences with Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama has signaled to the automakers and the unions that his support for short-term aid now, and long-term assistance once he takes office, is contingent on their willingness to agree to transform their industry to make cleaner, more energy-efficient vehicles.
The question remains whether Detroit, which made its own bed, let's not forget, but which employs nearly 3 million Americans, can wait that long. General Motors stock price is wading into Radio One territory (well, it's not quite that bad, but shares did fall below $3...) and there's a good chance the shares might actually become worthless. And the ripple effect from auto industry layoffs is kicking retailers in the gut.
Meanwhile, back to that presidential pique: Drudge reports that Dubya ain't happy with the leaks about his meeting with the Big O (no word yet on how Laura did with his "good bride...")
Bush advisers view the leaks as an effort to undermine the president's remaining days in office.
"Senator Obama may not be familiar with a long-standing tradition of presidents holding their private conversations, private," a senior adviser explained to the DRUDGE REPORT.
Developing indeed. But it's not as if the White House didn't release its own information about the meeting, even if it was entirely benign and fluffy. And Bush's continued hawking of the Colombia free trade deal seems entirely out of step, while the nation's homeowners, employers and employees are facing an immediate crisis, which importing more coffee and bananas at low, low prices can't possibly solve. Kind of lets you know how we got here.
This day has a different significance across the pond, where the "war to end all wars" took place just outside the door:
For Americans, Veterans Day celebrates the survivors of all the nation’s 20th and 21st century wars. In France and Britain, by contrast, the mood is altogether more somber. In these countries, it is the dead who, since 1919, have been the focus of the ceremonies.
Why this difference? After all, for citizens of all three countries the date marks a shared victory. In the jargon of the time, Nov. 11, 1918, was the day of their soldiers’ triumph over “Prussian militarism,” the vindication of a “fight for civilization” and the successful finish of a “war to end all wars.”
In the years after the war, official ceremonies in the United States reflected these victorious ideals and celebrated “world peace” — it was only after World War II that the day was dedicated specifically to veterans. The touchstone of loss and suffering for Americans remained the Civil War, the world’s first industrial conflict, which 50 years before World War I had taken the lives of more than 600,000 soldiers. Memorial Day (or as it was originally known, Decoration Day) was first instituted in May during the late 1860s to commemorate these fallen.
In contrast, it was only in August 1914 that the horrors and shock of modern warfare came to Europe. The Great War, as the conflict is still known in France and Britain, was a prolonged and vicious struggle demanding the commitment of nations’ wealth and manpower on an unprecedented scale.
Over four years, armies millions of men strong clashed indecisively in horrendous conditions. For the first time on this scale, genuine home fronts formed, as civilians were targets of bombings and food blockades. British war losses, at more than 700,000 men, remain the heaviest in the country’s history. French and German dead were even more numerous, totaling 1.4 million and likely 2 million, respectively.
It was the need to come to terms with this immense loss of life that shaped European commemorations of Nov. 11. On the armistice’s first anniversary in Britain, a two-minute silence was observed at 11 a.m., the time the fighting ended; industry was shut down, traffic halted and people across the country fell quiet to remember the nation’s dead. In France, public grief was expressed more loudly, local communities gathering every armistice day to hear the names of the dead read out by a war orphan, and responding in unison, “mort pour la patrie” — “died for his country.”
To all our fighting men and women, who've served in wars present and past, in combat and not ... thank you for your service and heroism, and my God bless you and your families.
Whether or not you agree with the Iraq war, and I believe it should not have been waged, there is no disagreement that our armed forces are populated by heroes, whose bravery is unchecked by danger, or by politics. They are the best of what this country has, and we should honor them, not just today, but every day.
U.S. Army soldiers conducting a joint patrol with Iraqi Army soldiers in a predominantly Sunni neighbourhood in southern Baghdad, Iraq, March 23, 2007. David Furst—AFP/Getty Images
They continue to believe, even after giving more than they should have been required to, and they continue to fight, even after the suits have lost the war, not because they don't know any better, but because they do it for each other.
There's a certain romantacism that develops in the civilian population about war, when in fact, war is brutal, and ugly, and disastrous, for the population living with it, and for the troops who fight it. The troops don't have the luxury of romanticism.
As for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are on so many minds today, it is clear that in ways large and small, their leaders, and their country, have failed the military men and women of this country -- by not providing proper equipment, by giving them inadequate medical and other assistance when they come home (not to mention by sending them on a questionable mission in Iraq.) Those are some of the deficits that must be fixed over the next few years. And while we cannot change the past, the least we can do is not fail to give them a little bit of gratitude, and respect.
AIG's executives were scolded on Capitol Hill ... and then they partied on, dude
Did you hear the one about the credit default swap peddler / insurance giant who went in the toilet, got a huge bailout from Uncle Sam, then got a second bailout, and blew the money on lavish parties for their top sales performers and executives? Well here's the sequel:
Even as the company was pleading the federal government for another $40 billion dollars in loans, AIG sent top executives to a secret gathering at a luxury resort in Phoenix last week.
Reporters for abc15.com (KNXV) caught the AIG executives on hidden cameras poolside and leaving the spa at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort, despite apparent efforts by the company to disguise its involvement.
"AIG made significant efforts to disguise the conference, making sure there were no AIG logos or signs anywhere on the property," KNXV reported.
A hotel employee told KNXV reporter Josh Bernstein, "We can't even say the word [AIG]."
A company spokesperson, Nick Ashooh, confirmed AIG instructed the hotel to make sure there were no AIG signs or mention of the company by staff.
"We're trying to avoid confrontation, keep our profile low," said Ashooh. "Some of our employees have been harassed."
You don't say... By the way those please were quite successful:
US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's decision to inject another US$27 billion into failed insurer AIG and raise the taxpayers' investment to $150 billion suggests he is more intent on helping his pals on Wall Street than protecting taxpayer interests.
And the Asia Times also explains how we got into this mess:
AIG has solid businesses in industrial, commercial and life insurance, but like a lot of financial firms was attracted to easy profits writing credit default swaps on mortgage-backed bonds - so called collateralized debt obligations (CDOs).
AIG received fees to guarantee repayment of those mortgages, or the funds obtained through foreclosures when homeowners defaulted. Like most on Wall Street, AIG executives believed home prices would rise faster than household incomes forever, so these CDOs really bore little risk.
This credit default swap business was outside AIG's highly regulated, solid insurance businesses but was backed by the value of those businesses. Essentially, if the CDOs fell too much in value, AIG pledged the value of those businesses.
If an abnormal number of the mortgages failed, the held-to-maturity value of the CDOs would fall and obligations would trigger for AIG to post collateral. When that happened in 2007, AIG deposited cash or other liquid assets with the investors holding the CDOs. With the housing market so depressed by the summer of 2007, AIG could not raise enough cash to meet all its obligations.
On September 16, the Federal Reserve provided $85 billion in loans to AIG in exchange for warrants - the right to buy common stock - equal to 79.9% of the company.
AIG was to pay 8.5% above the benchmark London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) for the first $85 billion. The insurer was to use the loans to honor obligations to holders of the credit default swaps, and AIG was to sell parts of its insurance businesses to repay the loans to the Federal Reserve. That loan proved inadequate, and the Fed advanced another $38 billion on October 9.
The $123 billion was not enough to finance AIG's short-term credit default swap obligations, and it cannot sell enough pieces of its good insurance businesses to pay back the Federal Reserve in the current environment.
Now, the Federal Reserve and Treasury are agreeing to restructure $60 billion of the original loan, lowering the interest rate to 3% above Libor and invest about another $27 billion in AIG. The interest rates on the loans were lowered, in part, because large shareholders complained about heavy-handed government action.
How wonderful for AIG! The rest of us? Not so much. Where are the Marshalls when you need them. Back to the party:
Company officials confirmed the company spent an estimated $343,000 to sponsor the 2008 Asset Management Conference. A spokesperson said much of the cost would be recouped from product sponsors at the conference.
KNXV said the president of AIG unit Royal Alliance Associates, Art Tambaro, stayed in a two-story Casita suite and worked out at the spa while others participated in seminars.
Sorry, wingers. Obama's approval rating is damned good going in. Your guy? Not so much...
PRINCETON, NJ -- Monday's White House meeting between President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama presents a remarkable contrast between one of the least popular two-term presidents in modern times at the close of his administration, and one of the most popular candidates to win the presidency.
According to Gallup Poll Daily tracking from Nov. 6-8, only 27% of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing as president. This contrasts with the 70% of Americans holding a favorable view of Obama.
Meanwhile, consumer confidence is also up slightly following Obama's election.
Joe Lieberman stumps for his candidate of choice: John McCain
Jane Hamsher, blogging at at the Daily Beast makes as good a case against Revoltin' Joe as I've read, including his penchant for lying, back-stabbing, race-baiting, and self serving threats to become a Republican. I say, let him. Here's Hamsher:
Where to begin? Well, let’s start in 2000, when Senator Joseph Lieberman, the Democratic candidate for vice president—in response to pressure from the Bush campaign and without checking with his own campaign—conceded hundreds of fraudulent overseas ballots supposedly from military voters that cost Al Gore the election, the notorious "Thanksgiving Stuffing."
Let's skip lightly over Lieberman’s part in the culture wars, his sanctimonious rebuke of President Clinton on the floor of the Senate at the start of the impeachment charade, and his critical role as part of the so-called “Gang of 14” breaking Democratic resistance to putting Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court. Let’s jump straight to Lieberman’s December 6, 2005 speech where he rebuked his party:
It is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be Commander-in-Chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril.
While Lieberman was quick to denounce Clinton for a private matter he leaped to the defense of Bush as even Republicans realized his strategy in the Iraq War was disastrous. Criticize George W. Bush and his conduct of the war and you're a traitor.
Lieberman subsequently told the New Haven Register that he opposed legislation that would have required all publicly funded hospitals to provide Plan B contraception to rape victims, saying "it shouldn't take more than a short ride to get to another hospital" (for which he earned himself the sobriquet "Short Ride.")
The 2006 Democratic primary campaign in Connecticut was in some respects a warm-up for Lieberman’s negative attacks on Barack Obama, ironic given that Obama endorsed him. Lieberman had been assigned to show the freshman the ropes in the Senate and Obama called him his “mentor.” Obama rushed to the state to deliver a ringing endorsement of Lieberman at the annual party dinner. No good deed goes unpunished.
Lieberman’s opponent, Ned Lamont, was a wealthy banker from Greenwich, an antiwar activist and gentlemanly. Supported by the Democratic establishment, Lieberman claimed he would abide by the results of the primary. But when he lost he ran as a member of a new political party, called the “Connecticut for Lieberman Party.” He blanketed cars in parking lots of African-American churches with flyers suggesting Lamont was racist. (Lamont had resigned from a country club, not because it practiced discrimination but because he felt it was not diverse enough.) Meanwhile, Lieberman stoked racial tensions by telling Jewish groups in Connecticut saying that Lamont had surrounded himself with people like Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Al Sharpton "who are either naïve or are isolationists or, frankly, some more explicitly against Israel."
Lieberman also declared himself a "non combatant" in the 2006 congressional races and refused to say which party should have the majority. The Bush White House and Karl Rove openly lent him support, winning him a vast majority of Republican votes and the election.
I think Reid and the Democrats do want to strip Lieberman of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee. That's a powerful and important committee. And remember, committee chairs have subpoena power. If Democrats are less than anxious to hand that power to a guy who supported the GOP nominee and repeatedly said that Obama wasn't qualified to be commander-in-chief and so on, can you blame them? I can't.
At the same time, I can see why Reid wants Lieberman to keep caucusing with the Democrats. First of all, three Senate races are still up in the air. Wins in all of those three could bring them to 59, and Lieberman would then become that precious 60th senator. Of course this doesn't mean that Lieberman would vote with the Democrats all the time, and clearly he would not most measures having to do with Iraq withdrawal. But on many domestic matters I'd assume he would.
Another question: What exactly do the Republicans have to offer Lieberman? They have no power -- no committee chairs, no nothing. If Lieberman jumps, it would be bad for his state and constituents. Also, one could well wonder how Nutmeg Staters (people from Connecticut; as far as I know there is no such word as "Connecticutters" or anything like that) would feel about suddenly having a Republican senator on their hands. Every county in the state went for Obama, by strong margins, too. There's little doubt that a recall petition would be commenced. I don't know how far it would get, but surely someone would try, and it would get lots of attention.
... and he concludes that whatever nice-making he's doing now, Reid has little choice but to show Lieberman the door, as regards his chairmanship. (So get it done already, Harry.)
Meanwhile, Steve Clemons offers more well deserved harsh words, and a possible compromise:
Joe Lieberman wants to keep his status and committees and caucus with the Democrats. He has been a fear-monger and someone who has promoted a dangerous, reckless false choice between American relations with Israel and other parts of the Middle East. He is a devout neoconservative who has been a key enabler of many of the most nefarious groups that promoted the Iraq War and who want a series of new wars in the region.
But more than that, he strongly supported someone a heartbeat away from the presidency who knew virtually nothing about America's place in the world, who knew nothing of American history and its leaders and conventions and founders.
If Dems would like to keep Joe Lieberman in the caucus, give him responsibility for education policy, telecom policy, health care -- but the price for the Dems keeping this fearmonger is that he be removed from any position with key responsibility for national security or domestic security matters.
There is, however, one major problem with the idea. Lieberman, by committee seniority, is not very well poised to take over some of the panels The Note's Steve Clemons recommends giving him. He already has a couple subcommittee chairmanships, one of which would be stripped under this compromise because it's on the Armed Services Committee. Would the chairwoman of the Environment & Public Works Committee step aside to make room for Lieberman, or would the other senator more senior on the panel do so? It's hard to imagine they'd relish the idea of being robbed of authority that would result in anything nice happening to Lieberman. The one committee where Lieberman is best positioned to take over without any intramural fights is the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee -- not the most glamorous assignment, but maybe enough for Lieberman to save face and maintain some power in the Senate.
Or they could just strip him of his chairmanship and let him caucus with the GOP. Be well rid of him. On domestic matters, he'll still vote Democrat, if he wants to keep his Senate seat and not be turned out like a two-dollar whore by the voters of Connecticut.
UPDATE: Obama's vote? Spare the traitor. (I disagree, but I understand why he'd make that gesture.) But if the comments on this Hartford Courant thread are any indication, the voters of Connecticut may not be feeling so generous. Can they wait four years to get rid of Joe Double Cross? They may have to. There are no recalls for U.S. Senators under current law. Impeachment may another matter, though I'm not certain. Could be worth a stroll through the good old Constitution...
Joe Scarborough dropped the F-bomb this morning, to the horror delight of his co-host and panel, which included Jay Carney, Mike Barnacle, Chuck Todd and our favorite Sarah Palin devotee, Mika Brzezinski. Scarborough was making a point about Rahm Emanuel, who will be chief of staff in the Obama White House. Chuck Todd had just finished explaining that Emanuel's main job may be reining in Nancy Pelosi and other House members on the left, to look out for the interests of some 50-55 House members who won in red or swing districts. Here's how Joe responded:
JOE: And Mike Barnacle, also, the nature of this campaign has really been the steady nature of Barack Obama, the steady nature of David Axelrod, the not-so-steady nature of Robert Gibbs, only because he went to Auburn. I mean these are good, decent, steady men, who don't go around flipping people off or yelling "f*** you"at the top of their lungs."
At that point, the split screen was showing Mike Barnacle's face, and his eyes and mouth were abut equally wide open. Joe, however, kept on humming.
"You missed the Jay Carney story earlier," said Joe.
No, Joe. You missed the fact that there is no seven second delay in live televison. At least not yet.
After a lot of hemming and hawing on-air, Joe's wife sent a two word text message response to her husband's verbal profligacy: "oh my."
Oh my, indeed. Joe quickly apologized, and then apologized again. All in all, great television (sorry, FCC!)
Eugene Allen served in the White House for three decades.
The LA Times has a moving, beautifully written account of Eugene Allen, a black man who served as White House butler to eight presidents. An excerpt:
President Truman called him Gene. President Ford liked to talk golf with him. He saw eight presidential administrations come and go, often working six days a week.
"I never missed a day of work," Allen said.
He was there while racial history was made: Brown vs. Board of Education, the Little Rock school crisis, the 1963 March on Washington, the cities burning, the civil rights bills, the assassinations.
When he started at the White House in 1952, he couldn't even use the public restrooms when he ventured back to his native Virginia. "We had never had anything," Allen, 89, recalled of black America at the time. "I was always hoping things would get better."
In its long history, the White House -- note the name -- has had a complex and vexing relationship with black Americans.
"The history is not so uneven at the lower level, in the kitchen," said Ted Sorensen, who served as counselor to President Kennedy. "In the kitchen, the folks have always been black. Even the folks at the door -- black."
Colmes: Do you really doubt that Barack Obama's loyalty to the United States?
Plumber: Ah...to a Democracy "yes," I mean, right back to the, as far as the Socialism issues, spreading the wealth around. I mean, Alan that is right out of Karl Marx.....Webster dictionary...government health care...
Colmes: You don't think he's loyal to our country?
Plumber Joe: To democracy? He's proposing a lot of changes that could change the core of America, don't you think?
Plumber Joe: Was it patriotic for Joe Biden to say "take my money and give it to other people? That's patriotism?
Colmes: Well, let me ask, you were on welfare once, was that taking somebodies else's money and giving it to you?
Plumber Joe: Paid into welfare. It something to be used, not to be abused like it often is.
Here's the video:
And there's more: Now, it seems, our favorite welfare recipient/non-plumber/country music legend in the making is forming his own "watchdog group," to hold President Obama accountable. That'll do, Joe. That'll do. (Oh, and "Joe's" cool new website for his exciting new venture will also promote his new book! ... which should be a nice stocking stuffer for Dittoheads everywhere (but psst! Get a ghost writer, Joe! Your command of the English language leaves something to be desired...)
An automobile industry in nuclear meltdown, with General Motors, once America's largest employer, bleeding cash and preparing for more layoffs (although Michigan's governor, Jennifer Granholm, declared herself heartened after meeting with Pres. Elect Obama today.)
A dismal dollar and financial markets mired in bearishness.
So, what to do?
Obama addressed that very subject in his first press conference, as president-elect today:
"We are facing the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime and we're going to have to act swiftly to resolve it," Obama said, as his team of economic advisers, who include top businessmen and well-regarded former government officials, stood in a line behind him.
Obama was speaking after two days in which Wall Street has plunged around 10 percent. The market, which has fallen because of negative economic news and poor corporate results, recovered a bit on Friday and finished the day nearly 3 percent higher.
The brief news conference in Chicago followed a meeting with his 17-member transition economic advisory board on how to tackle the worst economic crisis confronting the United States since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The economic advisory board includes former Treasury secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, former Labor secretary Robert Reich, former chair of the National Economy Council Laura Tyson, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
SECOND STIMULUS SOON
Obama said he wanted the Democrat-controlled U.S. Congress to pass a second stimulus package as soon as possible to stabilize the economy, which analysts say may be in deep recession by the time he is inaugurated on January 20.
"We are going to need to see a stimulus package passed either before or after the inauguration. I want to see a stimulus package sooner rather than later."
I wonder if the voters of Utah, who favored McCain-Palin nearly two-to-one over Obama-Biden, and who have voted Republican since time immemorial, cherish their parks and lands as much as they cherish the Grand Old Party...
Gale Norton has to be happy. In 2003, Ms. Norton, then President Bush’s secretary of the interior (and now a senior oil executive at Royal Dutch Shell), struck a deal with the governor of Utah that would open about 3 million pristine acres of federal land to oil and gas drilling.
Environmental groups and the courts managed to keep the drillers at bay. No longer. In the last few days, the Bureau of Land Management has completed six long-range management plans for Utah that will expose these acres (and as many as 6 million more) to some form of commercial exploitation.
On Tuesday, the bureau announced that it would soon begin selling oil and gas leases — essentially the right to drill — in some of the most beautiful and fragile areas.
Conservationists are aghast, and rightly so. Apparently without consulting the National Parks Service, one of its sister agencies at the Interior Department, the bureau plans to auction more than two dozen leases adjacent to Arches National Park and very close to Canyonlands National Park, risking the parks’ air and water.
Also on the auction block, among other rare and spectacular vistas, is Desolation Canyon, so named by the explorer John Wesley Powell in 1869 while he traveled down the Green River to the Grand Canyon.
This sort of pillage would be hard to justify even if Utah’s reserves were large enough to make a difference, which they are not. The Energy Information Administration says that Utah has 2.5 percent of the country’s known natural gas reserves and less than 1 percent of its known oil reserves. And even if those reserves were worth going after, it would still be essential to protect areas of special cultural, scenic and recreational value.
The Interior Department’s writ is to manage the public lands for “multiple uses,” a difficult and ambiguous task. The Clinton administration issued many leases but tried hard to balance the competing claims of commerce and nature; the Bush administration heard only the voice of Vice President Dick Cheney and his one-sided mantra of “drill now, drill everywhere.” ...
What would John McCain's supposed hero, Teddy Roosevelt, think?
In the wake of yesterday’s bruising result, the Republican party faces an excruciating and divisive choice between two very different futures.
The first choice is the choice on display at the excited rallies that cheered Sarah Palin all through the fall. This is a choice to fall back on the core base of the Republican party. The base is almost entirely white, almost entirely resident in the middle of the country, moderately affluent, middle-aged and older, more male than female, with some college education but not a college degree. Think of Joe the Plumber and you see the core of the Republican party. ...
... There’s another. It’s the path that begins by facing up to the arithmetic that says – Joe is no longer enough. God bless him, he’s the GOP base, and no Republican wants to lose him. But he needs reinforcements.
For Frummy, those reinforcements are not Latinos or Black folk ... they're long gone for the GOP. For Frum, the reinforcements are, in two words, smart people:
College-educated Americans have come to believe that their money is safe with Democrats – but that their values are under threat from Republicans. And there are more and more of these college-educated Americans all the time.
So the question for the GOP is: Will it pursue them? To do so will involve painful change, on issues ranging from the environment to abortion. And it will involve potentially even more painful changes of style and tone: toward a future that is less overtly religious, less negligent with policy, and less polarizing on social issues. That’s a future that leaves little room for Sarah Palin – but the only hope for a Republican recovery.
Yeah, good luck with that, Dave. The GOP has made a conscious decision to reject smart people, in favor of blunt-edged jingoism, social issues, and convincing less educated, low income white voters to cheerlead for wealth hoarding by rich people who wouldn't let those same lower income white voters mow their lawns. That's their thing, and they're most likely going to stick to it. ... That and saying "Ronald Reagan" a lot...
Meanwhile, National Review misses the point on the Prop 8 win in California (and the Amendment 2 win in Florida, if they were paying attention to it.) The actual lesson is, when record numbers of Black voters go to the polls, they take their conservative religous values with them. Most Americans could give a damn whether gay people get married.
Has the presidential race been analyzed to death yet? Probably. So I'll stop contributing to it. Except to say one last thing. The import of what Barack Obama achieved in this election cannot be overstated, as regards the Demographcs. Take a look at the exit polls (the NYT has a fun gizmo for you to play with on this,) and you find a few startling things:
Barack obama won men, beating McCain by one point: 49%-48%, but beating him nonetheless. That's something no Democrat except Bill Clinton has done in 20 years, and he did it only once, in 1996, when he got 52 percent of male votes. By contrast, John Kerry got just 44 percent of men. Al Gore got 42.
Obama got 43 percent of white votes, more than any Democrat since Clinton, who got just 39 percent in 1992 but tied Obama at 43 percent in 1996.
John McCain got just 4 percent of the black vote; not surprising, given Obama's historic run, but still less than half of George W. Bush's numbers in both his runs, and the only time a Republican has been in single digits since Ronald Reagan got 9 percent of the black vote in 1984.
McCain managed to get just 37 percent of Hispanics, to Obama's 62 percent. This despite pundits' rumblings that Latinos wouldn't support a Black candidate.
Obama dominated among young voters (18-29), winning 66%-32%. He also won voters 30-44 year olds 52%-46%, and tied McCain among those aged 45-59. McCain did win voters over 60, but not by much: 51%-47%.)
For all the scuttle about less educated voters shunning a black candidate, Obama swept all educational categories, and his biggest numbers, 65%, were among those who did not graduate high school.
And for all the GOP's dirty tricks in Florida, Obama got 78 percent of the Jewish vote, matching the trend of Democrats since Bill Clinton got 80 percent in 1992, and improving on John Kerry.
Obama got 54 percent of Catholics. You were saying, Chris Matthews? No, actually I love Chris Matthews, especially this year. Obama's worst showing was with Protestants (45%) and frequent churchgoers (43%) meaning that fewer evangelicals voted their pocketbooks. Unfortunately for the GOP, evangelicals are not a majority. And Obama did better among Protestants than any Democrat since Jimmy Carter -- five points better than Bill Clinton, 10 points better than card-carrying evangelical Jimm Carter in 1980, and 13-points better than Walter Mondale in 1984.
The GOP has lost the big cities. Obama got 70 percent there, continuing a 20 year trend that only reversed itself in 2004, on post-9/11 fears ginned up by Karl Rove's Bush campaign. Obama also won small cities and suburbs with more than 50 percent of the vote, and he did surprisingly well in small towns and rural America, picking up 45 percent of the votes apiece.
What does all of this mean? For one thing, it means that the Republican Party can no longer expect to win national elections on the basis of guns, god and gays, Reaganomics or appeals to racial animus and fear. They have to prove to wide swaths of America, including ethnic swaths, that they can govern well, and not screw up the country. And they have to demonstrate competence and empathy -- two things that have been in woefully short supply in the GOP in recent years. Democrats won the 2008 election the way FDR won in the 1930s: by asking America to look at the failed corporation that is the government, and hire a better CEO. As someone smart said online, evangelicals have 401Ks too.
I don't mind being wrong (well, very slightly wrong... I had it at 349 with NC as a maybe...)
AP has called North Carolina for Barack Obama. He's now at 364 electoral votes to McCain's 162, and he becomes the first Democrat to win the state since Jimmy Carter in 1976. (Indiana and Virginia went Democrat for the first time since 1964.) That means that Obama grabbed a total (Missouri is still counting votes) of eight states that GWB won in 2004: Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, spreading the map in a way no Democrat has in more than a generation.
The Dems also pick up a sixth Senate seat, as Gordon Smith concedes to Jeff Merkley in Oregon. He seemed like a good guy, but that's the kind of year we're having. The party has also picked up 22 House seats (my predictions had been 9 or 10 in the Senate and 28 in the House) with four races (in Alaska, California, Maryland and Ohio) still too close to call.
Meanwhile, the Huffpo and Matthew Yglesias point to a New York Times map that shows that only 22 percent of counties voted more Republican this year than in 2004, and almost all of those counties are located in Appalachia -- it's the only place where McCain improved upon Bush.
Barack Obama got 40% or more of the vote in every state West of the Mississippi, including Montana in the Great Northwest, which he damned near won, the Dakotas, Kansas and Nebraska, with the exception being the "iron GOP triangle) of Wyoming, Idaho and Utah, where he was in the 30s (though it was a healthy-ish 36% in Idaho.) He even got 43% in Texas (where the Hispanic population is making the state bluer every day, on the Western and Southern sides.) The GOP firewall is now pretty much confined to Appalachia, which is losing population, and losing influence, fast. They will have to find a way to appeal to suburban and urban whites, Hispanics, Asians and Black folk sometimes soon, or they're doomed. Long-term doomed.
It will be interesting to see where the Davids (Axelrod and Plouffe) wind up, and whether senior campaign ops like Steve Hildebrand (who was with us here in Miami at the end) and whether Patrick Gaspard goes to Washington or back to SEIU. On the Florida side, It will be interesting to see what happens next for Steve Schale, who ran a successful statewide campaign and is now officially a rock star of the Democratic party, and Mark Bubrisky, who led the communications team. The Florida campaign turned out to be highly effective, with a stunning get out the vote effort both in terms of early vote, and on election day. And the campaign's strong performance in the previously impenetrable Tampa/I-4 area, shut critics like me up quickly.
Other potential Obama picks are getting lots of ink, including speculation on which Chicago FOB's (friends of Barack) will get top jobs (Valerie Jarret, a close Obama family friend, will be on the transition team.)
Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense? I'd (heart) it. But Obama could also keep the current man, Robert Gates.
Former Harvard President Larry Summers at Treasury? The left hates it, for many reasons. He's no Keynsian, and most on the left believe a Keynsian, not a "flat-earth," globalism guy, which Summers is, is what we need. (More FDR, less Reagan. Thom Hartmann has articulated the best case on this.)) But the Harvard connection could prove decisive. Obama knows Summers well. And he doesn't come from Wall Street or the financial world, like other mentions like John Corzine (a former investment banker) or even super-investor Warren Buffett. In short, he has a more than good shot at the job.
The myth was born, the myth was hyped by the mainstream media, the myth met Katie Couric and Tina Fey, and the myth was shattered. The unkindest cut of all comes from Fox News, where Carl Cameron reveals behind-the-scenes details about Ms. Palin, including her diva-like behavior, temper tantrums, and the fact that she didn't know Africa is a continent, not a country, let alone which countries are in NAFTA ... the ... North ... American ... Free Trade Agreement. Shep Smith, at the anchor desk, asks the obvious question: "how could they end up with a running mate who doesn't know that Africa is a continent and they don't know that in advance?" Watch:
And then there's the new twist in Wardrobe-gate ... no, not the extra $40 grand for close for the First Dude. This one involves a towel:
At the GOP convention in St. Paul, Palin was completely unfazed by the boys' club fraternity she had just joined. One night, Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter went to her hotel room to brief her. After a minute, Palin sailed into the room wearing nothing but a towel, with another on her wet hair. She told them to chat with her laconic husband, Todd. "I'll be just a minute," she said.
Newsweek also reports she dove into the William Ayers attacks without authorization from the campaign, and that Schmidt vetoed her request to speak during McCain's concession in Arizona Tuesday night.
Palin has pushed back against attempts to blame her for McCain's defeat, including in an interview with CNN"s Dana Bash:
BASH: One more question about the election that just ended yesterday. If you look at some of the polls and you talk to people who are really crunching the numbers and specifically who voted what way and who was swayed one way or the other. Independent voters, suburban voters, some of the people -- women. People who the campaign thought you would be able to help, actually looked at your presence on the ticket and said, I'm going to vote the other way. What do you make of that?
PALIN: Well, you know, I don't think anybody should give Sarah Palin that much credit that I would trump an economic, woeful time in this nation that occurred about two months ago that my presence on the ticket would trump the economic crisis that America found itself in a couple of months ago and attribute John McCain's loss to me.
But now having said that, if I cost John McCain even one vote, I am sorry about that because John McCain, I believe, is the American hero. I had believed that it was his time. He being so full of courage and wisdom and experience. That valor that he just embodies. I believe he would have been the best pick. But that is not the Americans' choice at this time.
But it's just not working. Exit polls show she was, along with George W. Bush and the crappy economy, a serious drag on the ticket:
But among the things that will dog her into 2012, if her political celebrity lasts that long, is the association between her rallies and a particularly vitriolic kind of hate, with a strong racial tinge, that are now linked forever in history. Also from the Newsweek web piece:
The Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that many crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied. Michelle Obama was shaken by the vituperative crowds and the hot rhetoric from the GOP candidates. "Why would they try to make people hate us?" Michelle asked a top campaign aide.
... in that he shocked the hell out of me today. Beck, one of the better broadcasters on the right but one whose views I usually find completely objectionable, took his own callers to task this morning, telling one guy who tried to bring up Barack Obama's birth certificate for the umpteenth time to "get off my phone!!!" and lecturing another, who said he refused to accept Obama as president, on being a good American. The convo went something like this:
CALLER: I don't accept him as my president.
BECK: Then you're not a good American.
CALLER: I AM an American.
BECK: How do elections work in this country? When one guy wins, is he the Democratic president, the Republican president, or the American president?
CALLER: He's the guy who won for president.
BECK: But is he the Democratic president, the Republican president, or the American president?
CALLER: He's the president, but I don't accept ...
BECK: He's the American president. I want to hear you say the words.
CALLER: Well I don't accept ...
BECK: Then you're not a good American.
It went on like that for a couple of minutes, in which Beck stated that though he did not support Obama, he considered him to now be HIS president, and all Americans should pray for him, and help him to succeed, without compromising their own values. He also took to task Democrats, who after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of George W. Bush in 2000, refused to accept Bush as president, and he very fairly characterized the need for all Americans to accept the results of our elections, and give the new man a chance to govern. He excoriated people who want to protest, and burn down the house because their guy didn't win. He blasted the bloggers and Facebook fiends on the right's lunatic fringe who are already calling for Obama to be impeached (the Spectator has a bit of fun with them here.) And I applaud him. Beck isn't right about everything, but he gets kudos for standing up to the wingers on this one. (Read Beck's "No pity party" post, with a squinty eye on the Marxist crap, here.)
Charlie Gibson, who must be bracing himself for four years of pure crazy at FNC for the next four years, was similarly reasonable on Imus this morning. Yes, I listen so that you don't have to.
Politico runs down the losers, and leaves two major losers out. First, their list:
President Bush. Not to pile on, but his unpopularity probably doomed John McCain and has thrown the GOP into its worst identity crisis since 1964.
Steve Schmidt. McCain’s main strategist was brought in after a shake-up to hammer Obama hard every day, and he did that with gusto, hatching the highly effective “Celebrity” ad equating Obama with Paris Hilton. But McCain never seemed comfortable being an attack dog, and Schmidt’s mid-campaign testosterone boost turned off independents, young voters and women. Meanwhile, the base never believed the Arizona senator was one of their own — even when Schmidt succeeded in persuading McCain to choose Sarah Palin as his running mate. Schmidt is also largely responsible for cloistering McCain from the media, forcing the candidate to give up the straight talk give-and-take that defined him in his previous presidential run. Rudy Giuliani. America’s mayor began the year as the Republican front-runner by making the case for the big-tent GOP approach. He ended it as a caustic Republican attack dog at a time when GOP partisanship has turned off the very independents Giuliani initially attracted. There are rumors he’s mulling a gubernatorial run, but his national reputation has taken a major hit, and his once-thriving consulting business is said to be in trouble. [Sidebar: Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Rudy.]
ACORN. A huge national voter registration effort gave the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now a chance to shine on the national stage. Instead, ACORN’s sloppy oversight of voter registration efforts created a major embarrassment for Obama and other Democrats who had admired the group’s work on behalf of low-income tenants and blue-collar workers.
Sen. John Ensign. The National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman was dealt a lousy hand, but the former casino executive didn’t play it particularly well, according to his fellow Republicans. He struggled to raise cash and sparked a last-minute firestorm by suggesting Palin wasn’t ready to govern. Bill Kristol. The former Republican White House aide-turned-New York Times columnist was one of the loudest voices in favor of invading Iraq. And he was among the first to suggest Palin could be McCain’s savior. It proved to be a brilliant move. For about two weeks.
James Dobson. As pollster Peter Brown says, “Even evangelicals have 401(k)s.” Dobson, head of the powerful group Focus on the Family, was a dominant force in 2004 when Bush and Karl Rove fired up the conservative base by organizing around culture-war issues. Dobson’s opposition to abortion rights and gay marriage still resonate with many GOP voters, but he had far less impact in a year when Americans were more focused on the tanking economy.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman. Loser, with a big caveat. Reid and other Senate Democrats were willing to tolerate Lieberman’s support of McCain — but Reid couldn’t abide the Connecticut independent’s appearance at the Republican convention, where he questioned Obama’s fitness to command. Reid has already called Lieberman to task, and insiders predict he’ll strip him of the chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. But Democrats can’t go too far in their payback — they still need him on key issues, and his centrist philosophy still means he’s a factor in cloture votes.
Ronald Reagan. John McCain invoked the Great Communicator as his idol — and many in the GOP believe a return to Reagan-era conservative populism provides a path back to relevancy. (His visage still adorns the National Republican Congressional Committee’s home page.) But Democrats claim the economic crisis has called into question central tenets of The Gipper’s fiscal philosophy, including wide-ranging tax cuts, supply-side economics and deregulation. [Sidebar: Replacement winner: FDR...]
But wait, there are a few more lowers that Politico left out. Let's review:
Alaska. Once a place held gauzy for its snow-shoed adventurers, hearty native population and oil wrangling individualists, thanks to the Palins, Alaska is now viewed by the lower 48 as a land of dumb hillbillies charging through Bloomingdales with their newfangled credit cards, staring at Russia from their bedroom windows and not reading much. From Newsweek:
Palin’s shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain’s top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family—clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill.
Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent “tens of thousands” more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as “Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast,” and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.
Oops. More losers:
John McCain's reputation. He used to have a good one. Allowing Steve Schmidt to turn him into a raving Dittohead shattered it. His concession speech was a first step toward self-repair (okay, a second. His SNL turn was the first) but he will have to become the most magnanamous, helpful "maverick" Senator in United States history in order to repair the damage he has done with the press, with moderates, Independents, and Democrats.
Sarah Palin. See "Alaska" above. Her political future might not be completely black (she could even be appointed Senator in Ted Stevens' place should he manage to squeak out a win and then go to prison...) but the caricature of her will live forever. I mean, she didn't know what countries were in NAFTA (think "North America" dear...) and didn't know that Africa is a continent, not a country. I know this, because Fox's Carl Cameron told me... On the up-side, she got a whole buncha nice clothes for her and the First Dude out of the deal! [Corollary loser: stupid people. They can't run the country ever, ever again...]
Rush Limbaugh. His tactics of choice (the Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, race-baiting, trailer-rattling flotsam he spews every day from his mansion in Palm Beach) were injected into the bloodstream of the McCain campaign, including in the person of Gov. Palin, and the injection promptly killed the patient. Oops. And where were his gazillion listeners who were going to put this thing away for McCain? Hm? Boy, $400 million sure doesn't buy you what it used to ...
Sean Hannity. See "Rush Limbaugh" above. And he clotheslined himself by giving an avowed anti-semite a one-hour platform on his Fox Noise show. Fox News. See "Sean Hannity" above. How's that destroying Barack Obama's candidacy thing working out Rupe? And that serious ratings slide versus CNN and especially versus MSNBC in primetime? Not pretty.
The Congressional Black Caucus. More than half of members didn't support Obama in the primary, opting for Hillary instead (including all three black Florida Congresspeople: Kendrick Meek, Alcee Hastings and Corinne Brown) plus Maxine Waters, John Lewis (until he switched sides after getting an opponent,) Charlie Rangel (who shouldn't be faulted because he and the New York delegation had to go with HRC) Sheila Jackson Lee and on and on.) Some did more than others to help Obama in the general, but in the end, the only one who really counted was Obama's pal Jesse Jackson Jr. (who was phenomenal this past Sunday in Miami Gardens.) Now, there'll be no more of that whingeing about Obama not picking a black chief of staff (Rahm Emanuel is Josh Lyman, guys. This one's a no brainer.) He owes you guys only one thing: nothing. The right wing blathersphere. RedState.com, Michelle Malkin and many other blogs trafficked in the worst sludge available during the campaign, calling Barack Obama everything but a child of God. They failed to stop the train.
Matt Drudge. See "the right wing blathersphere." Even his desperate, eleventh hour headline pushes about Obama's aunt and other crap didn't work. And Politico has replaced him as the unofficial assignment editor in America's newsrooms, not to mention the rising stock of the HuffPo.
Joe the Plumber. More like "Joe the loser." Now that his stealth, then not-stealth, McCain campaign has failed, he can forget running for Congress or cutting a country music album and devote his full attention to getting that plumbing license.
Elizabeth Hasselback. She tried her hand at being Karl Rove, and ended up being Steve Schmidt. Now kindly pipe down and let Joy Behar talk.
Meanwhile, Politico also left off a few key winners from its list. They are:
MSNBC. They out-foxed Rupert and confounded Bill O'Reilly as the election season wore on, and Fox's propaganda victims became down-hearted over the prospects of their guy. And despite the best efforts of Fox and Friends, Hannity and O'Reilly to derail Barack Obama, he won anyway. Meanwhile, MSNBC let Chris Matthews be Chris Matthews, supported Keith Olbermann, and hired Rachel Maddow, and the ratings heavens opened.
Katie Couric. She went from fluffy (overpaid) bunny to Walter freaking Cronkite in one Sarah Palin interview, doled out cruelly over an entire week by CBS. In many ways, she single-handedly dismantled the Palin monster (and accidentally bitch slapped her former colleague Nicolle Walace in the process.) Good show.
Smart people. They're back in fashion in politics. And it's about time.
Tina Fey and "SNL". See "Sarah Palin" above. You betcha!
Joe Lieberman will meet with Maj. Leader Harry Reid this week to discuss his future in the Senate, and whether his disgraceful performance during the presidential election will cost him his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Reports CNN:
This aide says that Reid, who is calling the meeting, has not yet decided what to do. The aide admits that the decision will be determined in part by the final election results tonight — and just how close the party is to a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority — but insists that the biggest factor involved is lingering anger among Senate Democrats over Lieberman's Republican convention speech.
This aide also said that Senate Democrats aren't that upset about Lieberman's constant presence and cheerleading on the campaign trail with John McCain — instead, they've been put off by the things he said about Barack Obama at the Republican convention in St. Paul.
Lieberman stuck with McCain through the end, which isn't a bad thing in itself, but as the unnamed aide said, his rhetoric became increasingly abusive toward Obama on the campaign trail (like telling odious Newsmax that he "fears for America" under a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate) and that's why he should lose his chairmanship. Of course, with 56 seats so far, Democrats may need Lieberman's vote to break the odd filibuster, but I somehow doubt that with the ass kicking handed to them yesterday, Republicans will have the stones to try and block every part of Barack Obama's agenda. If they do, Lieberman may have to choose between standing with the losers and definitely losing his Senate seat in two years, or taking his demotion, voting with the winners (whose ideology he mostly still shares) and going back to Connecticut hat in hand in 2010. Not a good set of choices, but they're the choices he created for himself.
During a prime-time address at the Republican National Convention, the Connecticut lawmaker had rapped Obama as an untested candidate beholden to Democratic interest groups.
But a day after Tuesday's election, Lieberman, a fixture alongside McCain on the campaign trail, congratulated Obama for his "historic and impressive victory.
"Now that the election is over, it is time to put partisan considerations aside and come together as a nation to solve the difficult challenges we face and make our blessed land stronger and safer," Lieberman said in a written statement. "I pledge to work with President-elect Obama and his incoming administration in their efforts to reinvigorate our economy and keep our nation secure and free."
The Obama campaign won Florida with a combination of surging black turnout, significant improvement with Hispanics, and finally capturing the "white whale" of the Florida Democratic Party: the I-4 corridor... From the Miami Herald:
Obama's Florida victory over John McCain came with dominance in South Florida -- particularly in Miami-Dade and Broward counties -- the important Interstate 4 corridor in Central Florida and farther north in Gainesville and Tallahassee.
It was a stinging defeat for Republicans who control the Legislature and governor's mansion and, until just two months ago, were openly questioning whether the Democrat would campaign full force in the nation's biggest swing state.
But hard financial times, McCain's gaffe in Jacksonville, where he said the ''fundamentals of the economy are strong,'' and Obama's juggernaut of a campaign inalterably changed the race.
Obama captured a lopsided share of Florida votes from young people and first-time voters, won comfortably among independents, and managed to best McCain among Hispanic voters by double digits statewide, according to Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International exit poll of voters.
Once a reliable Republican voting bloc, Hispanics have shifted more toward Democrats in recent years as South and Central Americans started swelling the voter rolls statewide and curbing the influence of Miami-Dade's Cuban Americans, who comprise about 70 percent of the county's Republican voter rolls. Obama carried Miami-Dade County by 140,000 votes and Broward County by almost 240,000.
Steve Schale, who ran the Florida campaign, gets a lot of credit for this win, along with a huge team of staff and volunteers (I worked for the campaign for a scant few weeks at the end, but the operation was amazing to behold.)
Turnout in Broward was 693,929, or 69.8% -- still underperforming the state (72.4%) but better than in recent years. Miami-Dade turnout was 68.7%, but that too meant a bucket-load of voters: 854,654. Obama won the state with over 4 million votes: 4,110,174 votes to McCain's 3,910,185 (50.9% to 48.4%). Bob Barr and Ralph Nader were total non-factors.
Florida showed some rejectionism, saying no to taking a provision disallowing non-citizens from owning property (a vestige of the anti-Chinese early 20th century) out of the Constitution and passing yet another gay marriage ban (Florida's constitution already has one.) Proving that Floridians will back anything that looks like a tax cut, the state's voters passed a couple of additional property tax slashers, and rejected a measure that would have boosted community college funding. Go figure. It's Florida. We don't really DO education here...
In Congress, Florida actually LOST ground. Scandal-plagued Democrat Tim Mahoney was defeated, while all other incumbents held their seats.
For all my excitement about Barack Obama winning it all, and especially, winning Florida, I am disappointed that in Florida, we didn't get all of the change we need. For one thing, all three South Florida Republican Congressional incumbents, Ileana Ros Lehtinin and the Diaz Balart brothers, kept their seats thanks in no small part to the refusal of Democratic South Florida Congresspeople (Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Kendrick Meek) to help, or even to endorse, their fellow Democrats (they have some sort of pact with Ileana and the Balarts.) Wasserman Schultz gets props for going all out for Barack's election, but this was still a huge letdown, particularly since I'm hearing anecdotally that many newly registered Democrats, including many black Democrats in South Florida, undervoted by just bubbling in the presidential race, and leaving much of the remaining ballot blank. With surging turnout in Miami-Dade and Broward, a straight ticket surge among black and young voters could have helped Annette Taddeo, Joe Garcia and Raul Martinez win.
Overall, it was a great night for Florida incumbents, which in my estimation, is not a good thing.
Ironically, the waves of black and Hispanic turnout that swept Obama to victory in the Sunshine State may have contributed to the passage of Amendment 2, which expands Florida's existing ban on gay marriage to straight couples and non-married pairs of all kinds. Religious black voters, who are conservative on social issues generally, were telling me they planned to vote for the amendment. They did.
What an extraordinary day in the life of America. Barack Obama wins, including Florida, Ohio, Colorado (by a comfortable margin), Nevada and even Indiana (Jackie was right!) and becomes our first black president. By the way, I got my Electoral College prediction exactly right at 349 (still waiting on Congress.) And no, Newton, I hadn't bumped my head. :) Of course, I could wind up being wrong, if Obama hangs on and wins North Carolina ... in which case I'd be LOW by 15 points...
There are times when this country shows itself to be much better than the caricature of us that often dominates around the world, especially over the last eight years. This is one of those times. We have passed an incredible Rubicon tonight, on the matter of race, and opportunity, and in the way that children everywhere will think about power and possibilities. We have come full circle from this nation's founding amid the stain of slavery, and found a little glory. And while this victory has special poignancy for African-Americans, it reflects brilliantly on America as a whole. Good for us.
Meanwhile, America rejected an ugly, divisive campaign, led by a man who tonight, conceded with class. John McCain also proved that he can be better than the caricature he created of himself over the last several months. Good for him.
And good for Barack Obama. His campaign proved me wrong more than a few times. Including winning this often odd state. His strategy (and David Plouffe and David Axelrod's and the whole team's) was on point. He was on message. And his way was, in the end, the way to win, and win well.
I watched the returns at an upscale soul food restaurant in Miami Gardens, a city that in many ways reflects the Obama way: up from a tough past, now progressing nicely under new and refreshing leadership in the person of its mayor, Shirley Gibson, and its county commissioner, Barbara Jordan, and a team of city leaders that really care and work hard for a community that can see tangible evidence all around them, of that caring. It was wonderful to be in the presence of so many happy people, and even more wonderful to win. Big up to the campaign, for which I worked at the very end, and to the terrific and dedicated volunteers, and to America. God bless us.
The dirty tricks are in full effect here in South Florida, including bogus robo-calls telling people that polls have closed, and text messages and Facebook blasts telling college students they can vote tomorrow. CNN picks up on it here. And get a load of this: one machine at a predominantly African-American site elsewhere in Fla.
Here are the facts. Two more hours EST except the Panhandle. Vote, damnit! No matter what the bad guys tell you!
Election Day Myth Busters
Rumors Abound Today, Find Facts at Truth.VoteforChange.com
TAMPA – Florida’s voter turnout may reach record levels this Election Day, however, numerous false rumors are circulating that, if they are not corrected quickly, will ultimately keep voters from having their voices heard. Please see below for the facts. The Campaign for Change strongly encourages Florida news media to disseminate this nonpartisan information quickly to keep the public aware of the truth.
Today – Tuesday, November 4 – is the last day to vote. Rumors and text messages have been spreading that falsely claim voting continues tomorrow, but that is 100% incorrect.
Polls close in Florida at 7:00 PM local time. Some news organizations have reported that Florida polls will be open until 8:00 PM, however, this is NOT TRUE. All polls close at 7:00 PM local time, which means that Panhandle polls in the Central time zone remain open until 8:00 PM EST/7:00 PM CST. Elsewhere in the state, polls close at 7:00 PM EST. NOTE: If you are in line before 7:00 PM local time but have not yet voted, you WILL be allowed to vote if you stay in line.
Student ID is acceptable as proof of identity for voting in Florida if it has your photo and signature.
You do NOT have to vote in every race on the ballot in order for your vote for President to count. You may choose to vote in one, some or all of the races. If you leave a ballot item blank, the rest of the ballot will still count. If voters have questions about the election process, they are encouraged to visit www.voteforchange.com or call the Voter Education Hotline at 1-877-2FL-OBAMA.
The Senator's beloved grandmother passed today, just one day shy of seeing her grandson, whom she raised, elected president.
UPDATE: Sen. Obama commented on his grandmother's passing:
No matter what happens tomorrow, I'm going to feel good about how it has turned out because all of you have created this remarkable campaign. She is gone home. And she died peacefully in her sleep, with my sister at her side. And so, there is great joy as well as tears. I'm not going to talk about it too long because it is hard, a little, to talk about.
I want everybody to know though a little bit about her. Her name was Madelyn Dunham. And she was born in Kansas in a small town in 1922. Which means she lived through the Great Depression, she lived through two world wars, she watched her husband go off to war, while she looked after her baby and worked on a bomber assembly line. When her husband came back they benefited from the GI bill, they moved west and eventually ended up in Hawaii. She was somebody who was a very humble person, a very plainspoken person. She is one of those quiet heroes we have all across America, who are not famous, their names are not in the newspapers, but each and every day they work hard. They look after their families. They sacrifice for their children, and their grandchildren. They aren't seeking the limelight. All they try to do is do the right thing. And in this crowd, there are a lot of quiet heroes like that, people like that, mothers and fathers and grandparents who have worked hard and sacrificed all their lives and the satisfaction that they get is in seeing their children or maybe their grandchildren or their great-grandchildren live a better life than they did. That is what America is about. That is what we are fighting for.
And while she won't live to see her grandson become president, she did live long enough to vote for him. And it will count.
Ok, I'm going all-in on the predictions. I'm more conservative on this than some, and am calling it as follows:
Obama - 349 McCain - 189
... an electoral landslide by any measure. I give Barack the following pick-ups from Bush 2004:
Virginia Florida Colorado New Mexico Iowa Ohio Indiana Nevada
... and I say he holds New Hampshire for a solid Northeast.
I'm not so sure about Georgia and North Carolina, although if Obama pulls those off, he's at 379, and if he manages to grab Missouri, he's at an astounding 390. One of the volunteers on the campaign in Miami is married to a former Indiana congressman, so her inside take is that Indiana is very winnable. I agree. Missouri is too, I think, based on the primary turnout for Obama and Hillary, but I'm being conservative, as I said. And my prediction is based on two, I think insurmountable factors in Obama's favor: superior voter registration numbers for the Dems, and exceptional early vote turnout, particularly among black voters.
Make your own electoral map here. Get more electoral math here.
As for the House and Senate, I'm going to guess that the Democrats will pick up 10 Senate seats (9 I'm certain of, Georgia is a maybe...):
Alaska - Begich wins, the other guy's a felon.
Colorado - Udall #1 wins
Maine - I like Susan Collins, but she loses
North Carolina - Bye-bye, Liddy Dole! And take that "godless" ad with you!
Minnesota - The Frankin era begins... (and he makes a return visit to "SNL")
New Hampshire - Bye, Sununu, I hear you're a good guy, but this is just that kind of year...
New Mexico - Udall number two, wins
Oregon - Gordon Smith, another decent guy, goes down
Virginia - Mark Warner. Need I say more?
Georgia - I know, I know, but with black turnout? It can happen.
More fun with the congressional match-ups here. See all the races here.
As for the House, I'll go with a nice round number of 28 seats, including pick-ups in Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico and Washington State, to name a few.
I'm not even paying attention to the national polls anymore, even those this one and this one are pretty damned good. It's the state polls that count, and here are a few key polls from Quinnipiac:
No one has been elected President since 1960 without taking two of these three largest swing states in the Electoral College. Results from the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University polls show:
Florida: Obama at 47 percent to McCain's 45 percent, unchanged from October 29;
Ohio: Obama up 50 - 43 percent, compared to 51 - 42 percent last week;
Pennsylvania: Obama ahead 52 - 42 percent, compared to 53 - 41 percent last week.
Christine A. Durbin, the oldest daughter of Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, died Saturday at age 40, according to a spokesman for the Democratic senator.
Christine Durbin died in a Washington, D.C.-area hospital from complications relating to a congenital heart condition. She had been hospitalized for several weeks, Durbin spokesman Joe Shoemaker said.
Sen. Durbin was with his wife, Loretta Durbin, and family in the Washington, D.C., area on Saturday.
"Most of the family was at her bedside when she passed away," Shoemaker said.
Christine Durbin worked for 16 years for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the emerging markets division. She lived with her husband and son in a suburb of Washington.
She "fought a heroic lifelong battle with heart disease," Shoemaker said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Durbin family."
Durbin was the man who first approached Barack Obama about running for president. The senior senator from Illinois is also, by all accounts, a good and decent man, and a statesman.
From my favorite book of the Bible, the Book of Matthew: "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4) The prayers of my family, and those of millions of Americans, are with you, Senator.
Can't you be struck by lightning for stuff like this?
A Detroit-area Palinite turns away trick-or-treaters whose parents support Obama. Seriously. Hat tip to RawStory:
Shirley Nagel of Grosse Pointe Farms gave out treats Friday evening, but only to those who share her support of John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin.
Fox 2 News reports a sign posted outside Nagel's house, about 12 miles west of Detroit, served notice to all trick-or-treaters. It read: "No handouts for Obama supporters, liars, tricksters or kids of supporters."
Nagel told a Fox 2 reporter that "Obama's scary." When asked about children who'd been turned away empty-handed and crying, she said: "Oh well. Everybody has a choice."
Things you really don't want, but that you have to say thank you for anyway
To the delight of the Obama campaign, Darth Cheney endorses the McCain-Fey ... er ... Palin ...ticket:
"I believe the right leader for this moment in history is Sen. John McCain," said Cheney, who grew up in Wyoming and represented the state in the U.S. House of Representatives. "John is a man who understands the danger facing America. He's a man who has looked into the face of evil and not flinched."
Cheney also said he was pleased McCain has "chosen a running mate with executive talent, toughness and common sense, our next vice president, Sarah Palin."
Oh, that'l help...
At an appearance Saturday in Pueblo, Colo., Obama used the Cheney endorsement to underscore his charge that McCain represents a continuation of current policies in Washington.
"I'd like to congratulate Senator McCain on this endorsement because he really earned it," Obama said. "That endorsement didn't come easy. Senator McCain had to vote 90 percent of the time with George Bush and Dick Cheney to get it."
And McCain can't pull a grandpa and claim he "doesn't agree" that the endorsement ever happened, cuz it's on the Youtube:
From the pages of the thoroughly un-Socialist London weekly:
Oct 30th 2008 From The Economist print edition
America should take a chance and make Barack Obama the next leader of the free world
T IS impossible to forecast how important any presidency will be. Back in 2000 America stood tall as the undisputed superpower, at peace with a generally admiring world. The main argument was over what to do with the federal government’s huge budget surplus. Nobody foresaw the seismic events of the next eight years. When Americans go to the polls next week the mood will be very different. The United States is unhappy, divided and foundering both at home and abroad. Its self-belief and values are under attack.
For all the shortcomings of the campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama offer hope of national redemption. Now America has to choose between them. The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly: the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America’s self-confidence. But we acknowledge it is a gamble. Given Mr Obama’s inexperience, the lack of clarity about some of his beliefs and the prospect of a stridently Democratic Congress, voting for him is a risk. Yet it is one America should take, given the steep road ahead.
The most damning assessment?
Ironically, given that he first won over so many independents by speaking his mind, the case for Mr McCain comes down to a piece of artifice: vote for him on the assumption that he does not believe a word of what he has been saying. Once he reaches the White House, runs this argument, he will put Mrs Palin back in her box, throw away his unrealistic tax plan and begin negotiations with the Democratic Congress. That is plausible; but it is a long way from the convincing case that Mr McCain could have made. Had he become president in 2000 instead of Mr Bush, the world might have had fewer problems. But this time it is beset by problems, and Mr McCain has not proved that he knows how to deal with them.
The line at the North Dade Regional Library in Miami Gardens stretched onto the sidewalk and around three corners, almost surrounding the building. I wish I could have gotten an aerial shot. Stage two of the line, after the first bend, is pictured above.
One of my biggest frustrations in observing and working in elections in Florida since I moved here in 1997 has been the inconsistency of the black vote, which turned out in great numbers in 2000, only to be so discouraged by the outcome, that the numbers dwindled every election thereafter. This August, the primary election saw county-wide turnout in Miami-Dade and Broward, the biggest Democratic strongholds and largest black voter bases, stall at pathetic 6-10 point rates.
This election has energized black voters (including African-Americans and Caribban-Americans) like nothing I've ever seen. The lines are exaggerated, the people happy to be there. It's an incredible outpouring unlike anything I've ever seen. Ever. It's actually moving, to see so many people pouring their hopes and dreams into this election, and to be even a small part of this history-making event. And make no mistake, the time that folks are spending in line is making a difference:
Through Thursday, Democrats cast 46 percent of the 3.4 million early and absentee votes in Florida, while Republicans cast 38 percent.
That's a big shift since 2004, when Democrats were outvoted 44 percent to 41 percent by Republicans in early and absentee ballots, according to a study of Florida voting data.
The recent Democratic gains have been most pronounced in early voting, where Democrats have outnumbered Republicans by 432,000 out of nearly two million voters.
Black voters have made the difference, accounting for 16 percent of the early and absentee voters so far -- with 86 percent of them registered Democrats. In 2004, black turnout for early and absentee voting was a bit more than 10 percent of the total.
Black turnout has been especially high in the state's urban areas. In Broward County, blacks accounted for 39 percent of all early voters at the polls through Thursday; in Miami-Dade County, it was 30 percent. In Orange County, 30 percent of all voters were black; in Duval County, it was 36 percent.
And it's not just black voters. Hispanic voters are also trending Obama (as are a strong, 40-plus share of urban and suburban white voters). On Hispanics, campaign manager David Plouffe says:
''We're doing very well with Puerto Rican voters, Colombian voters. We're doing, I think, surprisingly well with younger Cuban voters,'' Plouffe said in a conference call with reporters Friday. ``We think we're going to carry the Hispanic vote in Florida if the trend lines continue.''
Dario Moreno, a pollster with Florida International University's Metropolitan Center, said Plouffe's description of the Hispanic voting bloc is in line with a poll released this week showing that Obama leads McCain by 20 percentage points among non-Cuban Hispanics and was slightly ahead among Cuban Americans under 45.
More on the Hispanic vote in Florida here. And another note on the black vote from the NY Times:
Growing up in St. Louis in the 1950s and ’60s, Deddrick Battle came to believe that the political process was not for people like him — a struggling black man whose vote, he was convinced, surely would not count for much of anything. The thought became ingrained as an adult, almost like common sense.
But a month ago, at age 55, Mr. Battle registered to vote for the first time.
“This is huge,” Mr. Battle, a janitor, said after his overnight shift cleaning a movie theater. “This is bigger than life itself. When I was coming up, I always thought they put in who they wanted to put in. I didn’t think my vote mattered. But I don’t think that anymore.”
Across the country, black men and women like Mr. Battle who have long been disaffected, apolitical, discouraged or just plain bored with politics say they have snapped to attention this year, according to dozens of interviews conducted in the last several days in six states. They are people like Percy Matthews of the South Side of Chicago, a 25-year-old who did vote once but whose experience was so forgettable that he cannot recall with certainty whom he cast a ballot for or even what year it was. Now an enthusiastic Democrat, he says the old days are gone.
And Shandell Wilcox, 29, who registered to vote in Jacksonville, Fla., when she was 18, then proceeded to ignore every election other than the current one. She voted for the first time on Wednesday.
Over and again, first-time and relatively new voters like Mr. Matthews and Ms. Wilcox, far past the legal voting age, said they were inspired by the singularity of the 2008 election and the power of Mr. Obama’s magnetism. Many also said they were loath to miss out on their part in writing what could be a new chapter of American history — the chance to vote for a black president.
Of course, the most wonderful thing about the Obama campaign is, to quote Bill Clinton, its diversity. This isn't just a movement of black people, but of Americans of all backgrounds, pulling together for a single goal. The increae in black turnout is simply symbolic of the power of the idea of change, and how it can bring people back into the process no matter how long they've felt alienated from it.
And speaking of the campaign, Deval Patrick came down today, and he visited three polling sites and a church in South Florida. The Massachusetts governor is a very nice guy, very down to earth. He's Harvard class of (no comment,) and we chatted about his living in Dunster House (I was Cabot.) Great guy, and he got to see firsthand the incredibly long lines in predominantly African-American and one Caribbean-centric site.
Gov. Deval Patrick addresses a crowd standing behind stage one of the line at North Dade Library. Pictured here is the part of the line that extended immediately outside the door of the library.
Gov. Patrick (right) waits to speak as Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson addresses the crowd from her crutches. Beside her is Commissioner Barbara Jordan, whose district includes Miami Gardens. Two of the most outstanding politicians, and best women politicians, out there, in my opinion.
The Huffpo was there in the form of a guy named John Hood, who filed this report:
MIAMI--Pulling up to the North Dade Regional Library in the inner city suburb of Miami Gardens for one of Florida's numerous early voter rallies, the first thing that strikes you is the line of early voters itself. Not just any line, mind you, but a line that begins at the library doors, folds in two, covers the parking lot, stretches out to the sidewalk, then snakes around a very large block. We're talking thousands here. Literally. All of whom who've come to exercise their right to vote -
Beyond the length of the line though, what might even be more striking is the excitement, which is as palpable as the sun is hot and high. Picture the biggest block party you can imagine, throw in a neighborhood-sized backyard BBQ, a county fair, and a traveling carnival, and you'll get half the idea of the energy of this rally, as well as the cross-section of those in attendance. Young toughs and dressed-up grannies, college students and their proud parents, single mothers, single fathers, entire families, in collars of blue and white, not only having the time of their lives, but having it on behalf of what all would agree was the most important election of their lifetime.
In the thick of it all is Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, here in town at the request of the presidential candidate himself. People receive Patrick with so much warmth it's almost as if he was their governor, and not someone else's. And in many respects he is, not simply because of race, but because of the bootstraps, but because of the example he's set for everyone. And, of course, because Patrick, like Obama, represents a sea change in America, a sea change that everyone here is a part of. ...
Read the rest here. And now for a little video entertainment:
Gallup's interviewing conducted Wednesday through Friday shows that 27% of registered voters who plan to vote have already voted. The trend in early voting has trended consistently upward on a day to day basis, moving from 7% of registered voters, who had already voted during the period of Oct. 17-19, to the current estimate of 27%. Another 8% of registered voters still indicate that they plan on voting before Election Day itself. The vote choices of these early voters -- all of whom are included in the likely voter pool since they are definite voters -- skew more toward Barack Obama than the sample average. Thus, more and more of these Obama-oriented voters' choices are being "locked in" to the likely voter pool through early voting, benefiting Obama. (To view the complete trend since March 7, 2008, click here.) -- Frank Newport
Meanwhile, poor Matt Drudge engages in some serious wishful thinking with this headline:
Pollster John Zogby:"Is McCain making a move? The three-day average holds steady, but McCain outpolled Obama today, 48% to 47%. He is beginning to cut into Obama's lead among independents, is now leading among blue collar voters, has strengthened his lead among investors and among men, and is walloping Obama among NASCAR voters. Joe the Plumber may get his license after all. "Obama's lead among women declined, and it looks like it is occurring because McCain is solidifying the support of conservative women, which is something we saw last time McCain picked up in the polls. If McCain has a good day tomorrow, we will eliminate Obama's good day three days ago, and we could really see some tightening in this rolling average. But for now, hold on."
Obama is holding his lead in the three day averages, with the exception of fright night, when apparently more Republicans than Democrats were staying at home with their lights off to keep those darned costumed kids off their lawns. Well before you get to excited, Palinites, read the following from Seth Colter Walls:
Zogby has a unique methodology in his polling. He fixes -- or "weights" -- the partisan balance of his respondents, unlike most pollsters. While his admirably transparent and stable practice guarantees a certain methodological sameness from day to day, therefore making any new lead for McCain worth reporting, Zogby's partisan weighting can also raise other questions.
Asked earlier this week what the partisan weighting of their poll currently is, a Zogby aide told the Huffington Post: "Party ID remains at 38 Democratic - 36 Republican - 26 Independent. We have added a point for 18-29 [year old voters], 1.5 for African Americans, and 2 for Hispanics."
Earlier this year, Zogby told me that "party ID is a lead variable, and a major determinant in how people vote. I apply a weight to party ID, and if I see a reason for it to change, I will."
Still, Zogby's two point party ID advantage for Democrats is the smallest of any polling firm. The last four days of the Hotline/Diageo poll show anywhere from a four- to six-point advantage for Democrats -- and a simultaneous seven-point lead for Obama. Gallup's latest surveys indicate that Democrats have an 11-point advantage over Republicans in party ID (including what the firm describes as partisan "leaners").
Zogby's partisan makeup gives even less of a partisan advantage to Democrats than Fox's latest poll, which earned some skepticism, as well.
As for the day-to-day fluctuations in tracking polls, Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz says they are "almost entirely due" to random statistical error, or "noise."