For months now, I have consulted with friends and family, and with the Lieutenant Governor, about what is best for our wonderful state. I even made a few administrative changes over that course in time in preparation for yesterday. We have accomplished so much and there's much more to do, but my family and I determined after prayerful consideration that sacrificing my title helps Alaska most.
Sacrificing her title? Isn't that how a Miss America steps down?
And by the way, Sarah's lawyer's got a message for that gol-derned mainstream media: stop or I'll sue ya!
When the going gets tough, the tough get going, also
(...and by going, I mean "gone.")
Sarah Palin shocked the political (and grammatical) world yesterday, by pulling a Ross Perot (just as nasally, but much less succinctly,) and quitting her job as governor of Alaska. To add insult to the injury she's now done to her political career (and the voters who elected her,) she tried and failed to pull what I'm sure she thought was a clever maneuver: scurrying out of the 18 months remaining in her term on the Friday before July Fourth. I guess nobody explained to Sarah the concepts of "slow news day" and "sSunday shows...") Here's a small part of Miss Wasila's rambling exit speech (which made Mark Sanford look like the sound bite king):
Watch the whole, tortured 14 minutes here. Or read the transcript if you dare, and good luck not getting a headache from all the verb splitting. Now, of course, basketball analogies aside, there seem to be about three possible scenarios that might cause Sister Sarah to quit on her base so suddenly:
1. Dead presidents. Palin said during her ramble that she and Todd have built up about $500,000 in legal bills defending Sarah's multiple ethics charges. By quitting as governor, she frees herself to hit the lecture (shudder) and TV circuit and make some cash. Hell, she may even get her own talk radio show (can you just imagine listening to her talk for three hours straight? Scary!)
2. The hounds are advancing. Some big, major ethics or criminal probe was about to hit her, so Sarah's getting out of dodge to avoid it. Maybe she even made a deal with prosecutors or investigators to resign rather than face the music. Wouldn't be the first time a politician did that one!
3. Cooped up in Alaska. Sarah loves the fame she's accumulated, and you get the feeling Sarah thinks she's way too big a star to be stuck in the governor's mansion. Her public needs her, and now she's free to give them her all, without the chirping of annoying "ethics complaints" every time she leaves the state. She'd much rather travel the country, stump for Republican candidates and build up some favors in advance of a hilarious 2012 run (personally, I'm hoping for this one.)
4. She and Todd have decided to go ahead and take that secessionist party national. Okay, just kidding on that one. Maybe. Actually, one Huffpo contributor, journo Geoffrey Dunn reminds that she quit her last statewide office too, suggesting she might just be a serial quitter.
5. She's figured out that despite her devoted following, her 15 minutes are waning. So she's decided to cash in while the gettin's good. After all, why should that little shit Levi get all the reality show love. The move also gives Sarah time to rush her book out before Levi's, since Levi's book clearly won't be helpful...
Of course, it could also be all three. Or she might be insane.
Meanshile, the pundits react:
... but Politico leaves off the best reaction of all, by Ed Rollins:
And while Sarah's biggest devotee, Roger Simon, apparently couldn't bear to write a critical word about his Sarah, the rest of the staff at Politico had at it. Jonathan Martin reports Republicans divided ... Glenn Thrush has five questions ... Mike Allen provides some back-up for my scenarios 1 and 3 ...
More good stuff:
The Anchorage Daily News reports on the thrills and chills Palin's decision is sending through Alaska politics.
"For most Christians, at some point in your marriage, if you're married long enough, you do it because that's what we're called to do _ out of obedience instead of out of passion. And I think that's where Mark and Jenny are right now."
That's Warren "Cubby" Culbertson, friend and "spiritual advisor" to SC Gov. Mark Sanford and his wife Jenny. What he describes has got to be the saddest commentary on marriage I've ever heard, and I certainly hope it's not true "for most Christians" (if so, time to become a Buddhist!) Still, it's one more aspect of the TMI that's dripping all over this case (including this wrenching tell-all to the AP by Jenny Sanford.) Jeez, this marriage is becoming a more uncomfortable reality show than "John and Kate Plus 8" (and an un-pretty version of Brad, Jen and Angelina...)
COLUMBIA, S.C. – When South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford cheated on his wife, he also betrayed his top political adviser.
First lady Jenny Sanford told the world in a statement Wednesday that she had sent her husband packing nearly 15 years after she launched his political career.
Mark Sanford apologized to her and their four sons at a tearful press conference where he admitted a yearlong affair with a friend in Argentina whom he had visited on a secret trip.
His wife said in her own statement later that she kicked him out of the house two weeks ago and asked him not to speak to her while she tried to come to grips with his infidelity.
It was an abrupt and stunning — even if temporary — split for a couple who helped shape the state's political landscape.
During Mark Sanford's first gubernatorial campaign in 2002, Jenny ran the show from the basement of their Sullivans Island beach house while he fretted as the wind blew his charts off of tripods during outdoor press conferences.
And perhaps more importantly:
Jenny Sanford is a millionaire whose family fortune comes from the Skil Corp. power tool company.
Yep. He's a goner. Especially since Jenny Sanford's statement included the following:
I personally believe that the greatest legacy I will leave behind in this world is not the job I held on Wall Street, or the campaigns I managed for Mark, or the work I have done as First Lady or even the philanthropic activities in which I have been routinely engaged. Instead, the greatest legacy I will leave in this world is the character of the children I, or we, leave behind. It is for that reason that I deeply regret the recent actions of my husband Mark, and their potential damage to our children.
I believe wholeheartedly in the sanctity, dignity and importance of the institution of marriage. I believe that has been consistently reflected in my actions. When I found out about my husband's infidelity I worked immediately to first seek reconciliation through forgiveness, and then to work diligently to repair our marriage. We reached a point where I felt it was important to look my sons in the eyes and maintain my dignity, self-respect, and my basic sense of right and wrong. I therefore asked my husband to leave two weeks ago.
This trial separation was agreed to with the goal of ultimately strengthening our marriage. During this short separation it was agreed that Mark would not contact us. I kept this separation quiet out of respect of his public office and reputation, and in hopes of keeping our children from just this type of public exposure. Because of this separation, I did not know where he was in the past week.
The fact that Sanford spent his period of what was supposed to be reflection and healing, crying in the arms of his mistress cannot bode well for his financial ... I mean marital ... future. Read Jenny Sanford's full statement here.
The State has them, and you know? I kind of feel awful reading them. Way too much information ... and the newspaper offers additional details that, despite my knee-jerk Democratic schadenfreude over seeing another moralizing Republican bite the political dust, make me wonder whether this particular angle of the story is indeed newsworthy. The details in question:
Below are excerpts of e-mails, obtained by The State newspaper in December, between Gov. Mark Sanford's personal e-mail account and Maria, a woman in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The State has removed the woman's full name and other personal details, including her address, e-mail address and children's names.
First of all, since the emails came from his personal account, and not the account used by Sanford as governor (at taxpayer expense) how are these emails news? Second, the deeply personal nature of them can only be of interest for the purposes of either voyeurism or ridicule. And third, if the paper had these emails in December, why didn't the paper report on Sanford's affair then? Surely they knew he was a potential 2012 prospect back then. And the fact that The State had these emails sure explains why they were such Johnny on the spots in grabbing that "exclusive" interview with him at the airport upon his return to the U.S. this morning. One is tempted to ask "what did The State know, and when did they know it?"
At issue, in the end, is not Sanford's personal life. That's between him and his wife (and cable TV, which wouldn't let this go if it was on fire. Too juicy.) But all the icky personal stuff is distracting, I think, from the central point, which is the lying: to his staff, and through them, to his constituents, and the rank irresponsibility of a chief executive falling off grid without taking the appropriate steps to ensure the continuity of government. That and the irony of a moralizing conservative who thought his state too upright to accept money for the unemployed turning out to be a rank sinner in his own right. ... But good luck keeping it to that.
Sanford: 'I spent five days of my life crying in Argentina'
If you missed the Mark Sanford press conference, you missed a hell of a news moment. Sanford rambled and rambled and rambled, about God and his family, and his friends, and all the people he let down, and then he announced that for the past year or so, he has been cheating on his wife with a woman in Argentina.
The liveblog as it happened here. (and yes, I managed to say "wow" instead of sh--")
Full story here. Sanford is done. I guess the right's John Edwards jokes are too. Not only has Sanford admitted to running off with his mistress, he essentially is admitting to lying to his staff in order to get them to help him cover it up.
BTW, Sanford is being given lots of credit by people on television for his "candor." But I think you'd have to call this "rolling candor," since earlier today, he was still claiming that he was on an exotic adventure trip.
UPDATE: in case you missed it, peep the video. If you listen through to the end, you'll hear what sounds like a basic admission that Sanford intentionally misled his staff, resulting in their lying to the media. And when he came back, Sanford continued to lie, telling The State newspaper that he'd decided to toss the Appalachian trail aside for a "more exotic trip" joyriding down the Argentine coast. Drip, drip, drip...
Charlie Crist isn't even officially running for Senate yet (okay, yeah, we all know that lady he's married to ain't staying in Tallahassee, so he's running...) but the DSCC is already attacking him for allegedly bailing on the state when times get tough. Peep the ad (HT to Politico):
More than half (57%) of Florida voters say it is at least somewhat likely they would vote for Republican Gov. Charlie Crist in the state's United States Senate race in 2010. That figure includes 23% who say they are Very Likely to do so.
... after working most of Tuesday night, members and staff were plainly exhausted, and continued disputes over Obama’s school construction initiative delayed a planned meeting of the formal House-Senate conference on the bill.
“Like any negotiation this involved give-and-take, and if you don’t mind my saying so, that’s an understatement,” said Reid. Down to the end, the school modernization funds were a bone of contention for Sen. Susan Collins (R.-Maine), whose vote is pivotal to the president.
Last Friday, she had successfully eliminated all such money from the Senate bill. Wednesday she agreed to allow $10 billion as part of a $54 billion fiscal stabilization fund but argued that the $10 billion should not be confined to this single dedicated purpose.
After Reid’s announcement, an administration official said the issue was resolved, as did Collins. But House leaders, who had grown resentful of the Maine Republican’s veto power over the bill, remained unhappy—forcing the delay.
So what is Collins' problem?
The constructions funds are especially sensitive in poor, often minority school districts less able to finance new schools. Among the many spending cuts made last week in the Senate, the school construction issue was perhaps the most ideological.
For the Obama camp, it brings back New Deal memories of the Public Works Administration creating construction jobs and building schools across the country. But Collins has always resisted arguing that, in today’s world, it represents an expansion of the federal role in state and local affairs.
Uh-huh... yeah, why help those poor minority kids, when you can just move to Maine, where there are no poor minority kids...
BTW it appears that the Senate has also screwed over urban districts, in favor of the rural folk who don't like Barack Obama anyway, and who from what I can tell, don't want an economic stimulus plan... and of course, they've also screwed over the poor.
... House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D., Cal.) said the tentative deal calls for 65% of the money to be distributed according to the Senate’s more rural formula; 35% as the more urban House wanted.
In the same talks, the House appears to have preserved its higher 65% subsidy to help laid- off workers meet COBRA payments to maintain employer-provided health insurance; the Senate had proposed 50%. But the House agreed in turn to drop its proposal to increase Medicaid coverage to help lower income individuals face the same insurance dilemma and can’t afford to pay even a subsidized COBRA payment.
One issue is that liberals in the House are objecting to the amount of money in the bill for school construction. Sources say the bill includes $6 billion for school construction. Negotiators worked hard to find a way to put the provisions back in after the Senate eliminated all $16 billion in school construction money. But some key House Democrats say that's not enough.
Another problem, sources say, is that some House Democrats say the bill gives states too much discretion on how to use some of the money intended for education. Some Congressman are concerned that governors will not use the money to help poor school districts.
Some Senate Democrats are unhappy, too. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, says there is just not enough money in the bill for school construction.
"Every school in America will get 10,000 bucks if they're lucky," Harkin said, guessing that might be enough to buy two energy efficient windows. "And what's that going to do for them?" he asked. "We're trying to add new heating facilities. We're trying to add renovations. And doing it by formula doesn't do it."
Harkin says he'd ultimately vote for it, but he doesn't like the concessions made to get the support of the moderate Republicans.
The economic stimulus plan passes with not a single Republican vote
Surprise! Bipartisanship doesn't exactly rule the day... but the package passes anyway:
With no Republican support, the House approved an $819 billion stimulus plan that will serve as the cornerstone of President Obama's efforts to resuscitate the economy, an early victory for the new president but still a disappointment because of the lack of Republican votes.
The measure passed 244 to 188, with 11 Democrats and 177 Republicans voting against it.
The two-year economic package includes $275 billion in tax cuts and more than $550 billion in domestic spending on roads and bridges, alternative-energy development, health-care technology, unemployment assistance, and aid to states and local governments. It would also provide up to $500 per year in tax relief for most workers and more than $300 billion in aid to states for funding to help rebuild schools, provide health-care to the poor and reconstruct highways and bridges.
Despite a last-minute lobbying campaign by Obama -- including coming to the Capitol yesterday for separate closed-door meetings with House and Senate Republicans -- Republicans opposed the measure and argued that it spent hundreds of billions of dollars on Democratic initiatives that would do little to stimulate the economy or create jobs.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) heralded the legislation as the first down payment on Obama's pledge, in his inaugural address, to provide "bold and swift" action to revive an economy that is losing more than 500,000 jobs a month, including 65,000 layoffs announced just this week.
"He said he wanted action, bold and swift, and that is exactly what we are doing," Pelosi told reporters before the vote.
A $475 billion Republican alternative, which focused heavily on reducing individual and business taxes, was rejected largely on party lines. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), a member of the GOP leadership team, ridiculed the Democratic plan as a "typical bill that is full of wasteful spending." ...
The GOP now has to hope that it doesn't work. Next up: the Senate debates their version (tomorrow) and then it's on to conference committee. What fun!
Meek expected to jump into the Senate race tomorrow
Just got a press release. Kendrick Meek is holding a press conference tomorrow morning to make an announcement regarding the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sideshow Mel Martinez. Does anybody know what's on Alex Sink's public schedule tomorrow...? I have calls out to a couple of sources to find out if I should burn the gas to be at the presser...
... or does "Meet the Press" with David Gregory suck? That softball interview with Condi Rice today was a low point for the show. Meanwhile, on the other side of the low-end of the dial, George Stephanopoulos, the onetime political flack, is proving to be twice the journalist that Gregory, the supposed pro, is. He did a much more in-depth, interesting interview with Joe Biden than Gregory's bland Condi love and weak roundtable, and George actually broke some news:
Sources tell me that the Obama team's review of contacts with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will show that Rahm Emanuel had only one phone conversation with Blagojevich.
The contact, described as a "pro-forma" courtesy call, came as Emanuel was named Chief of Staff for Obama. Most of the discussion concerned Emanuel's Congressional seat (which had previously been held by Blagojevich), with only a "passing reference" to the Senate vacancy, according to these sources. No deal for the Senate vacancy was discussed.
Speculation in Washington and Chicago has been swirling for a week now over what the Obama team’s report would find. Until now, the contents of that report have been kept sealed, at the request of the U.S. Attorney’s office. Last Wednesday, Obama said he found it “a little bit frustrating” that the report had not yet been released.
The sources add that the report will show Emanuel also had four phone calls with Blagojevich Chief of Staff John Harris. During those conversations, the Senate seat was discussed. The pros and cons of various candidates were reviewed, and the sources say that Emanuel repeatedly reminded Harris that Blagojevich should focus on the message the pick would send about the governor and his administration.
Sources also confirm that Emanuel made the case for picking Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett during at least one of the conversations. In the course of that conversation, Harris asked if in return for picking Jarrett, "all we get is appreciation, right?" "Right," Emanuel responded.
To which Frank James of the Chicago Tribune's "Swamp" replies:
It struck me from the beginning of this that there probably was no 'there' there since USA Fitzgerald signaled very strongly that he wasn't going after anyone on Obama's team. It seemed like an attempt by us media types to raise questions to keep the pot stirring more than anything else.
Clearly. And shock of all shocks, all that blather will turn out to be for nothing. Poor dears. Back to end of the year countdowns for all of you!
The right is going overboard to try and tar Barack Obama with the Blago brush. So desperate and tacky are they, that even Newt Gingrich has noticed. As you might expect, the winger cudgel has been taken up by the dutiful GOPer "Morning Joe" Scarborough, who has never let a little journalism job get in the way of his politics.
This morning, Joe harangued Obama chief strategist David Axelrod (a former journalist, just to add to the irony...) on the supposed "fact" that Rahm Emanuel (Obama's chief of staff and former Congressman from the Chicago area) "told (reporter) Ryan Lizza that he and Obama ran Rod Blagojevich's gubernatorial campaign in 2002." Really? Is that what Lizza wrote, Joe? Let's review:
*Lizza reports that Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) told him that Obama was a “top strategist” for Gov. Blagojevich’s first gubernatorial campaign. “He and Obama “participated in a small group that met weekly when Rod was running for governor,” Emanuel said. “We basically laid out the general election, Barack and I and these two.” A spokesman for Blagojevich confirmed Emanuel’s account, although David Wilhelm, who now works for Obama, said that Emanuel had overstated Obama’s role.”
*The 2000 remap of state senate districts is a critical benchmark in the Obama history. With Democrats in control of the legislature—winning the ability to dictate the maps—Obama in 2001 was able to create a district that stretched from Hyde Park to the Gold Coast. That let him connect with a network of wealthy donors whose support was crucial to his future success
“In the end, Obama’s North Side fund-raising base and his South Side political base were united in one district. He now represented Hyde Park operators like Lois Friedberg-Dobry as well as Gold Coast doyennes like Bettylu Saltzman, and his old South Side street operative Al Kindle as well as his future consultant David Axelrod.”
Rahm "running Blago's campaign?" No, Joe. And as a former politician, Joe knows exactly what those passages mean. Politicians develop a base of operations, which includes donors, and precinct maps that helped them get elected. Often, they use their base to help other politicians from their party to get elected, too. I'm sure the staffers, and the campaign manager, who actually did run Blagojevich's campaign, would differ with Joe's characterization of Obama's role.
Meanwhile, the media continues to ride the Blago gravy train, with more news coming out of Chicago:
The parlor game begins. And whoever this guy is, he's in big trouble, because apparently he was willing to play ball with Blago on some monetary love in exchange for Obama's Senate Seat.
Later on November 10, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Advisor A discussed the open Senate seat. Among other things, ROD BLAGOJEVICH raised the issue of whether the President-elect could help get ROD BLAGOJEVICH's wife on "paid corporate boards right now." Advisor A responded that he "think[s] they could" and that a President elect . . . can do almost anything he sets his mind to." ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will appoint "[Senate Candidate 1] . . . but if they feel like they can do this and not fucking give me anything . . . then I'll fucking go [Senate Candidate 5]." (Senate Candidate 5 is publicly reported to be interested in the open Senate seat). ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that if his wife could get on some corporate boards and "picks up another 150 grand a year or whatever" it would help ROD BLAGOJEVICH get through the next several years as Governor.
In other words -- if Blago doesn't get what he wanted, then he'd stiff the PEOTUS by appointing someone he didn't like -- Senate Candidate 5.
Just last week, on December 4, Blagojevich allegedly told an advisor that he might "get some (money) up front, maybe" from Senate Candidate 5, if he named Senate Candidate 5 to the Senate seat, to insure that Senate Candidate 5 kept a promise about raising money for Blagojevich if he ran for re-election. In a recorded conversation on October 31, Blagojevich claimed he was approached by an associate of Senate Candidate 5 as follows: "We were approached 'pay to play.' That, you know, he'd raise 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (Senate Candidate 5) a Senator."
On November 7, while talking on the phone about the Senate seat with Harris and an advisor, Blagojevich said he needed to consider his family and that he is "financially" hurting, the affidavit states. Harris allegedly said that they were considering what would help the "financial security" of the Blagojevich family and what will keep Blagojevich "politically viable." Blagojevich stated, "I want to make money," adding later that he is interested in making $250,000 to $300,000 a year, the complaint alleges.
So who are the anonymous candidates? ABC News IDs "Senate Candidate #1" as Obama pal Valerie Jarret:
The Senate candidate whom Blago at one point thought that President-elect Obama seemed most likely to be supporting -- friend and adviser Valerie Jarrett, who later took herself out of the running and will be a White House Senior Adviser -- is discussed, as "Senate Candidate 1."
Jarrett referred ABC News to the Obama Transition Team for comment; they did not have one.
Ultimately, it appears that neither PEBO nor Jarrett were willing to discuss any of Blago's various notions of how he could sell them the seat. Talking to his chief of staff on November 11, Blago said he knew PEBO wanted Jarrett to get the Senate seat but “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. F--- them."
Which leaves the burning question of who is "Senate Candidate #5"?
Marc Ambinder speculates that it's Jesse Jackson Junior, given the timing of a meeting he had with Blago. But that doesn't seem right to me, since it's also clear from the complaint that Blago believed Obama was opposed to Candidate 5. I can't think of any reason why Obama would oppose Jesse Junior moving over to the Senate. As I reported for the print mag early this year, Obama's relationship with Jesse Senior may be fraught, but he's actually fairly close to Jesse Junior. And, presumably, their relationship grew stronger over the course of the campaign, during which Jesse Junior did yeoman's work for Obama, the least of which was slapping down his dad when he did something against Obama's interests.
The Smoking Gun, meanwhile, says that Candidate 5 is Emil Jones. Obama's relationship with Jones (who, btw, is a sworn enemy of Jesse Junior's) is much, much more complex. Yes, Obama famously cultivated Jones as his political godfather in the State Senate, but that's always seemed like one of those relationships that Obama was happy to leave behind in Springfield. Given some of the baggage that comes with Jones's old-school, machine ways--a number of his family members are on the public payroll, and he's worked hard to make sure his son inherits his legislative seat--I could see how Obama might not want Jones in Washington. What's more, Brad Plumer calls my attention to this post from the Capitol Fax blog, which points out that Jones was mentioned by Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed a few days after Blago discussed leaking Candidate 5's name, and that Jones has a huge war chest, so it wouldn't be hard for him to come up with $500k.
Interesting theory, and ont that, like the whole Rev. Wright mess, would be awkward for Obama, though no threat to him legally or in the end, politically, since Obama has done the man no favors and clearly, from the Blago tapes, doesnt' want this person in the Senate. Ben Smith of Politico adds more clues:
Here's what we know. Candidate 5 is:
-"publicly reported to be interested in the open Senate seat" - not who Blagojevich thought Obama wanted - not someone with whom, by November 10, Blagojevich had a "long, productive discussion" - someone with fundraising wherewithal who could produce something "tangible up front" - someone Blago was "getting a lot of pressure" not to appoint - someone with whom Blago had "a prior bad experience...not keeping his word"
The complaint also says that on November 10, Blagojevich told an advisor to leak to the Sun-Times's Michael Sneed that Blagojevich "is seriously considering Senate Candidate 5 for the open Senate seat" and that the advisor agreed to call the Sun-Times to leak the story, apparently false, that Blagojevich end of the conversation Advisor A agreed to call the Sun Times columnist to leak the story had a “long, productive discussion” with Candidate 5.
Should Mr. Blagojevich end up in prison, he will join predecessors including the following:
Republican George Ryan, who is currently serving a 6 1/2-year stretch in federal prison for racketeering and fraud. Blagojevich, along with Sen. Richard Durbin, has publicly supported an appeal to the White House for the commutation of Mr. Ryan's sentence.
Otto Kerner, a Democrat who was convicted in 1973 on 17 counts of bribery, conspiracy, perjury and other charges before being sentenced to three years in the pen. The federal prosecutor in that case, James Thompson, later ascended to the governor's chair and wound up getting his law firm to defend Ryan for free.
Dan Walker was convicted in 1987 -- years after leaving office -- of bank fraud. Serving from 1973 to 1977, with a reputation as a reformer, he was the last Democratic governor of the state before Mr. Blagojevich took office in 2003.
Lennington Small, a Republican, served from 1921 to 1929. He was indicted while in office for embezzlement related to actions taken when he was state treasurer. He was later acquitted; several of the jurors in the case ended up with state jobs.
Also, in one infamous case further down the chain, a former speaker of the state's House of Representatives and secretary of state, Paul Powell, was found after his death in 1970 to have had several million dollars in embezzled cash stashed in shoe boxes.
Mr. Powell, according to a Time magazine article at the time, had his own definition of success, believing that "there's only one thing worse than a defeated politician, and that's a broke one."
... was indicted in 1994 on 17 felony charges, including the embezzlement of $695,000 in taxpayer and campaign funds. The longtime House Ways and Means chairman plea-bargained his way down to two counts of mail fraud and served 17 months in a Wisconsin minimum-security prison.
Still, don't fool yourself. Illinois may do it flashier, but pay to play corruption is far form limited to politicians in that state. It takes place all over the country. I'd bet you could even turn some up right here in Florida, if you were keen to look for it ...
Is Rod Blagojevich the most arrogant politician in America, or just the dumbest? This was the Felonious Mr. Blag yesterday at the Republic Windows and Doors protest, daring the media, and purportedly, prosecutors, to wiretap him:
Meanwhile, Blag says that despite the evidence on tape, and his jailbird status, he will not resign:
"He didn't do anything wrong," attorney Sheldon Sorosky told reporters after Blagojevich was arraigned. "A lot of this is just politics."
Blagojevich should be in the office Wednesday, Sorosky added.
So, reporters asked, he does not intend to resign?
"Not that I know of, no," said Sorosky, who added that the governor was "surprised" by the day's events.
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.
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?
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.
Newly minted civil libertarian, former moral crusader, impeachment manager and champion of "family values" ... ahem ... and most importantly, current third party presidential candidate Bob Barr took his turn on "This Week," and the news out of that exchange wasn't what Barr said, it came from Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, who apparently believes Barr can not only make a difference in Georgia, but also in Alaska and Colorado. All I can say is "run Barr, run!" (Donate to him here.) Besides, Barr is helping to make history as the first black-but-in-denial nominee of the Libertarian Party... hopefully the right won't be too hard on him...
Separated at birth? Jeremiah Wright (L) and Bob Barr (R), courtesy of Wonkette
No MTP this week, and no Matthews, due to Wimbledon. But on CNN, Fareed Zakaria has hands down, the best talk program on Sundays, with "GPS" (for "Global Public Square.") This week, he had on the foreign minister of Iran, followed by a stellar panel of reporters including both badass Michael Ware and Christiane Amanpour. Fantastic show, and since last Sunday, is officially on the TiVo Season Pass list.
Early, late notes: Crist finds his 'Grace,' Obama unplugged, and a Williams Wimbledon
Three quick things before I go to sleep:
What wouldn't Charlie Crist do to become John McCain's running mate? Cross "marry an actual woman" off the list! One question though: who's Jack in this scenario ... Jeff Kotkamp?
Meanwhile, if Barack Obama moves his nomination acceptance speech to the Broncos' stadium (which I will always call Mile High Stadium. Invesco Field ... ha!) it will be a P.R. coup, and a big win for the candidate. An outdoor acceptance speech in front of 72,000 people, rather than indoors before 22,000 bigwigs, would create a powerful parallel symmetry between Martin Luther King's momentous, outdoor, "I have a dream" speech and his own historic address, 45 years to the day later. I say 'just do it.'
It's midnight on July 4th, and if John McCain knows what's good for him (politically), he and Cindy had better not miss that plane back to Arizona. My advice? Tell "Cind" to stowe the American Express Red Card for a day, because Mac needs to find his backside on THIS side of the border by sun-up. The "Top Gun" in Colombia gambit didn't quite get him the hot press he was looking for (though it did provide an excellent backdrop for some new advertising,) and being in Mexico on the Fourth will be about as good a look as that lime green background. Picture Lou Dobbs' head ... now picture it exploding...
With the new management in place, I'm guessing McCain will be stateside in time for the BBQ. And for god's sakes, please ... please ... don't invite "You Know Who..."
John and George on the day the levees broke in New Orleans, August 29, 2005. The two were celebrating McCain's birthday. Good times... good times...
And whatever you do, John, old boy, try not to look out of touch during the inevitable photo-ops. No need for Cindy to pretend to be cooking the steaks, we all get that she's rich and has "people" to do that. And don't spend too much time hanging out at the kids table yucking it up. It makes you look like you don't know there's a recession on. Just ask your buddy George. He'll know what I mean. When in doubt, look sober, serious and grim ... you know ... the way you usually look.
Last but not least, for the love of god, for just one day -- America's day -- don't mention anything else about free trade. Trust me, once you bring the Mittster on board as your running-mate, you can let him talk about all the unpopular stuff. After all, that's what vice president's you can't really stand but whose money and completely theoretical strength in the Rocky Mountain states and Michigan you desperately need.
Well, that's about it! Happy Independence Day, John McCain!!! And remember: you're only as old as you feel, so don't eat anything with too many nitrates -- makes you gassy, and we've got enough fireworks to look forward to today eh? EH?
What body parts would MSNBC producers sell for the audio?
Forget the Bush administration's bungling in Pakistan or their pending war against Iran ... Barack Obama called Bill Clinton today (by phone)! And having told the Democratic nominee to "kiss his ass," according to "sources," you've got to figure that convo had a lot of pauses ...
Okay, here's my transcript:
OBAMA: Hey, Bubba...
BIG BILL: Hey.
OBAMA: So ... what's goin' on?
BIG BILL: ... nothin' ... what's up with you?
OBAMA: Oh, nothing ... just, trying to get into the White House.
BIG BILL: Yeah ... I've heard. So what's up?
OBAMA: Uh... nothing much ... just wanted to see how it's going...
BIG BILL: It's going... gonna make Hillary the VP?
OBAMA: Well ...
BIG BILL: You don't have to answer that.
OBAMA: Thanks... so ... we cool?
BIG BILL: Yeah, we cool... but I want my pimp card back.
OBAMA: Oh, no doubt. It's all you, Bubba. And you can keep Bob Johnson, too.
Trying out a new feature for the blog, which will make morning blogging more efficient on my end, and hopefully provide a jumpstart to your morning read. Enjoy!
The New York Times hits Barack Obama with a story about Obama advisers Tom Daschle and Jason Grumet's ethanol ties (forecast: Obama favors subsidies, wins Iowa in November. All politics is "economically local"...) On this one, I think McCain may be right about one thing: the U.S. should stop tariffing sugar ethanol out of the market. It's cheaper, produces more energy, and in Brazil at least, it's working ... Still, Obama is probably right on the politics, as this statement from the campaign makes clear:
“It does not serve our national and economic security to replace imported oil with Brazilian ethanol,” he argued.
It's the domestic production and jobs, stupid, though once he's in office, hopefully Obama will broaden his view. Sugarcane ethanol imports could not only help Brazil, it could be a lifeline for another country where sugar grows: Haiti.
The Washington Postfollows up last night's damning "60 Minutes" piece on America's Middle East TV network, al-Hurra, one of many disastrous Bush administration attempts to "win the hearts and minds" of Muslims around the world.
The Boston Globe reports on John McCain's $300 million prize for whoever can build a better car battery. One question: where in the world are we getting the $300 million in a recession? And it wouldn't be a McCain plan without money for Big Bizness:
In addition, a so-called Clean Car Challenge would provide U.S. automakers with a $5,000 tax credit for every zero-carbon emissions car they develop and sell.
And there you go. Meanwhile, the Globe proffers a long puff piece by Sasha Issenberg on John McCain's war experience and how it shaped his present views. The piece skims past his contentious relations with POW/MIA groups who believed that U.S. troops remained alive in Vietnam, even skipping a notorious episode in which McCain reduced a mother of an MIA soldier to tears during televised hearings in which he lived up to his Academy nickname, "McNasty." The Globe also fails to mention the ambivalence, and even downright hostility, that some Vietnam vets continue to feel about McCain (yes, there is an anti-McCain 527.) I doubt such information would have been left out of an article on John Kerry, and I doubt that the press will pursue the issue, given the media's reluctance to replay the Swift Boat episode from 2004 and general reverence for McCain's war service (as should be afforded any veteran.)
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times has a piece about the Obama campaign's careful targeting of black voters -- emphasizing the tightrope Obama has to walk between courting a needed base, and not turning off certain white voters.
And across the pond, the Guardian reports that as the recent Mideast oil summit fails to halt rising oil prices, a leading climate scientist will go before Congress today and call for top oil executives to be put on trial. And last but not least, if you think politics is toxic in the States, try Zimbabwe.
As ThinkProgress points out, the call is a flip-flop for Dubya, too -- he opposed offshore drilling when he ran for president on a "humble" America platform back in 2000. Now, Bush II is calling for drilling in so-called "deep water" wells, and he calls such drilling environmentally friendly, to boot! Bush and his friends on the right see an opening with ordinary Americans, whereby skyrocketing gas prices -- which were produced by the oil companies themselves, and by Bush's other close friends: Wall Street speculators -- could break down Americans' resistance to handing over our coastlines and Alaskan wilderness to Big Oil; something they have sought for decades. The hostage-taking aspect of this scenario (we're going to raise your gas prices to the point of recession unless you hand over the leases) is lost on many cable TV pundits, but not on those of us who have been in the business of reporting crime...
Meanwhile, the new right wing talking point: gas prices are high because the Democrats won't let the oil companies drill here at home, has taken hold across the wingerweb, (though even Michelle Malkin has noted Johnny Mac's flip-floppery) and within the McFlip campaign itself, so much so that he has converted former opponents among Florida's elected Republicans, at least one of whom apparently hopes to be paid for his apostasy in vice presidential chits...
So if the righties are right, how do they explain the fact that not since the Teapot Dome scandals of the early 20th century has the federal government opened so much American land to an oil industry that accepts billions of dollars in federal subsidies, but refuses to drill on that land? Check this out: According to a study by the Environmental Working Group a couple of years ago...
The federal government has offered 229 million acres of public and private land in 12 western states for oil and gas drilling, an area greater than the combined size of Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, according to an EWG analysis of land use records maintained by the federal government from 1982 to the present. This acreage represents the sum of total land actively leased in 1982 and land newly offered from 1982 through 2004.
Despite access to more than 200 million acres of public land over the past 15 years (1989-2003), the oil and gas industry has produced enough energy from this land to satisfy only 53 days of U.S. oil consumption and 221 days of natural gas consumption, according to EWG's analysis of well-by-well oil and gas production records obtained August 16 2004 via a Freedom of Information Act Request. This rate of production amounts to an average of 3.6 days per year of oil and 14.8 days per year of natural gas (MMS 2004, EIA Petroleum Review 2004, EIA Natural Gas Review 2004).
As these small production figures suggest, drilling on federal lands in the West has done nothing to reduce our dependence on foreign energy. In fact, since 1982, our dependence on foreign oil has doubled and our dependence on foreign natural gas has tripled (EIA Petroleum Review 2004, EIA Natural Gas Review 2004). A recent government estimate found that the five most oil- and gas-rich basins in the western U.S. contain about a 280-day supply of oil and an 8-year supply of natural gas at current rates of consumption -- an analysis that likely overstates the amount of energy that is economically available (Energy Inventory 2003).
Despite the relatively small amounts of energy in the West, the Bush administration has removed barriers to drilling on a net 45 million acres in 12 western states and has lifted environmental protections and emphasized drilling on lands already open to oil and gas development.
Again, we're talking about 229 MILLION acres leased to the oil companies since the Reagan administration. And how much of that land has the present Bush administration made available? 65 million acres, including more than 5 million acres located in national parks:
Bush Administration Removes Protections From 45 Million Acres in 12 Western States
Note: Numbers in green represent acres protected. Numbers in (red) inside parentheses represent land where protections against oil and gas drilling were removed.
This table lists major federal designations through which land potentially open to oil and gas was protected from drilling and land previously closed to oil and gas was opened to potential drilling during the past two administrations. A small portion of the land listed as protected in 1993-2000 was previously protected under other administrations.
And yet, the oil companies are producing almost nothing on that land. And when they do drill, they create more methane-rich, undrinkable, contaminated water than either oil or natural gas.
So what are the oil companies doing, if not drilling for oil? Well one thing they're not doing is building refineries. While the Saudis and the Dutch are putting up new refineries in Texas, our domestic companies all but refuse to do so, even as they go to their friends in Washington and blame insufficient refinery capacity for their giant profits ... I mean ... our high gas prices. The oil industry's lackeys on the Hill even push for legislation that allows Big Oil to build refineries only if they have a guarantee of never being sued for any environmental damage they might cause. Even with the help of their Republican friends, U.S. oil companies have broken ground on exactly one oil refinery in 30 years. Not that they need them. American oil companies today exist to reap record profits from speculation-driven, overpriced oil from foreign countries, and they have zero incentive to pump more oil at home.
Why? Just to be fair and balanced, let's go to the right for the answer, specifically, the CATO Institute:
The case for oil subsidies is laughably thin. Proponents argue that the more you subsidize oil production, the more oil you'll get, and that, after all, is a good thing for consumers when gasoline prices are around $2.25 a gallon. Unfortunately, there's simply not enough unexploited oil in the United States that might be exploited as a consequence of those subsidies to greatly affect world crude oil prices. Tufts economist Gilbert Metcalf, for instance, demonstrates that even if domestic production subsidies were worth 10 percent of the current price of oil (and they are worth no more than about 3 percent today), the increased production that might result would only reduce oil prices by 0.4 percent. Even if reducing foreign oil dependence is the main objective, Metcalf shows that domestic production would only increase by a trivial 0.2 percent were domestic subsidies to increase threefold-above current levels.
Some on the Right, of course, would argue that any taxation of corporate activity is counterproductive in that it unfairly taxes earnings twice (once when booked by corporate accountants and then again when those earnings are disbursed to stockholders). From this perspective, tax breaks simply allow companies to keep what is best left to them in the first place and should not be thought of as a subsidy. A variation of this argument holds that the less government takes in the better, so all tax breaks (and tax cuts, for that matter) are worth embracing.
While there is something to be said for both arguments, they ignore the fact that targeted tax breaks and preferences distort the economy by making some investments artificially more attractive than others. The end result is that some sectors are starved of funds while other sectors are awash with more money than they can efficiently use...
But apparently, not more than they can possibly covet.
How out of touch is John McCain? Apparently, out of touch enough to throw Florida under the bus in order to pander to voters in red states he's likely to win anyway. Because John, the voters you're pandering to ... the wingers who want to drill up, dig up, and strip mine every inch of arable land that doesn't have a depreciating home or a strip mall on it? Those wackos who don't get that America's oil fields are mostly tapped out, that the U.S. has one-tenth the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia, one-fourth that of Venezuela and third that of Russia, and who want to turn the entire coastal plain into a scene out of "There Will be Blood" for a few more drops in the tank? They live in places like Alabama, Indiana, West Virginia ... you know, red states. The wingers who DO live in blue states are so overwhelmed numerically by Democrats, they don't matter. And the ones in swing states like Pennsylvania and Ohio? Have you taken a look at the voter registration numbers from the primary? They're going to get overwhelmed in November, too, by suburban moderates and urban hardcore Dems who care about the environment and don't cotton to ideas like ... say ... major tax breaks for the oil companies ... you know, stuff you like.
Meanwhile, McCain must think that a four point lead in Florida in a Quinnipiac poll from May translates into a lock on the state in November. That's the only conceivable reason he would do something as politically suicidal for his prospects in Florida as this:
Sen. John McCain called yesterday for an end to the federal ban on offshore oil drilling, offering an aggressive response to high gasoline prices and immediately drawing the ire of environmental groups that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has courted for months.
The move is aimed at easing voter anger over rising energy prices by freeing states to open vast stretches of the country's coastline to oil exploration. In a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, nearly 80 percent said soaring prices at the pump are causing them financial hardship, the highest in surveys this decade.
"We must embark on a national mission to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil," McCain told reporters yesterday. In a speech today, he plans to add that "we have untapped oil reserves of at least 21 billion barrels in the United States. But a broad federal moratorium stands in the way of energy exploration and production. . . . It is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions."
McCain's announcement is a reversal of the position he took in his 2000 presidential campaign and a break with environmental activists, even as he attempts to win the support of independents and moderate Democrats. Since becoming the presumptive GOP nominee in March, McCain has presented himself as a friend of the environment by touting his plans to combat global warming and his opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in the Everglades.
A reversal...? From John McCain??? Say it isn't so!
Representatives of several environmental groups criticized him for backing an idea they said would endanger the nation's most environmentally sensitive waters.
"It's disappointing that Senator McCain is clinging to the failed energy policies of the past," said Tiernan Sittenfeld, legislative director for the League of Conservation Voters.
Sierra Club political director Cathy Duvall said McCain "is using the environment as a way to portray himself as being different from George Bush. But the reality is that he isn't." The group began running radio commercials yesterday that criticize McCain's environmental record in the battleground state of Ohio.
Democratic Sen. Barack Obama joined the criticism, calling the idea of lifting the ban the wrong answer to out-of-control energy prices. "John McCain's plan to simply drill our way out of our energy crisis is the same misguided approach backed by President Bush that has failed our families for too long and only serves to benefit the big oil companies," Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan said.
Interestingly enough, McCain continues to oppose drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), a view that allows his to continue pissing off right wingers in his party while his goal of trashing California and Florida helps him to kiss off moderates and independents, too. I think they call it "symmetry..."
McCain's speech today comes just after the candidate's Florida ally, Melly Mel Martinez smacked down Vice Lord Dick Cheney on the Senate floor over the issue of ... wait for it ... drilling off the coast of Florida:
Florida's Mel Martinez took to the Senate floor today to refute Republican assertions that China is drilling off the coast of Cuba.
"Reports to the contrary are simply false," Martinez said. "They are akin to urban legends. China drilling off the coast of Cuba only 60 miles from the Keys, that is not taking place..."
Republicans have pushed the "someone is drilling 60 miles off the Florida coast" for 2 years to back up efforts to open the coastline up to drilling. But experts familiar with the situation say there's no proof.
That's not stopping the story from making the rounds: speaking at the US Chamber of Commerce vice president Dick Cheney today quoted columnist George Will as saying "oil is being drilled right now 60 miles off the coast of Florida..."
The spat illustrates the potential minefield McCain is laying for himself on the issue of offshore drilling. No matter what his campaign says, McCain has no shot of winning California (where much of the Naval Petroleum Reserve is located, and mostly now in private hands following a Clinton-era privatization push, but largely undeveloped because at least in parts of California, there are houses and apartment buildings on the land...) But Florida IS in play, and picking a fight with Charlie Crist and Mel Martinez isn't exactly smart politics in a state with 22 percent independent voter registration.
schadenfreude \SHOD-n-froy-duh\, noun: A malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others.
You've got to believe that many Republicans on the Hill, and in conservativeland, are secretly enjoying watching "Mr. Campaign Finance Reform" John McCain take incoming on the issue of ethics and cozy lobbyist ties.
You've also got to believe that Mitt Romney is burning this morning, as a truism put forth by Pat Buchanan on MSNBC last night and increasingly borne out by the circumstantial evidence, solidifies: the New York Times may have decided the Republican nomination for president by holding the McCain-Isenberg story until now, rather than running it before the New Hampshire primary.
And you've also got to believe that in a way, this is the best thing that could have happened to John McCain. It will get the right wing of the party, which really hates him, to forget their guile and go after the "liberal" media on his behalf, putting their bloggers, talk radio flaks and Fox News at his service.
That said, McCain will not escape the questions of his personal relationship with Isenberg, like it or not. Stories about sex don't fade away easily, even if the mainstream media won't touch them. Evangelical Christians just got one more reason to hang in there for Huckabee. Even worse for McCain, his press conference this morning (with his rich wife, and her prenuptial agreement, by his side...) makes it clear that he will have an even harder time escaping questions about whether he did favors for his lobbyist friend, and whether there might have been other friends, and other favors. At the least, it paints McCain right into the corner Barack Obama wants him to be in: an old politician practicing old-time politics, complete with cozy ties with lobbyists, romantic or not.
Questions are also being legitimately raised about the Times, and whether they were pushed to release a story they were sitting on because a competitor was about to run with a story of their own, alleging that the Grey Lady was sitting on the scoop. TNR responds here. And as the MSNBC crew are saying this morning, the Times had to know that their story would lead to headlines like this:
Back to the story. The Washington Post advances the NYTimes' story:
McCain's Ties To Lobbyist Worried Aides Before 2000 Campaign, Advisers Tried to Bar Her
By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum and Michael D Shear Washington Post Staff Writers Thursday, February 21, 2008; Page A01
Aides to Sen. John McCain confronted a telecommunications lobbyist in late 1999 and asked her to distance herself from the senator during the presidential campaign he was about to launch, according to one of McCain's longest-serving political strategists.
John Weaver, who was McCain's closest confidant until leaving his current campaign last year, said he met with Vicki Iseman at the Center Cafe at Union Station and urged her to stay away from McCain. Association with a lobbyist would undermine his image as an opponent of special interests, aides had concluded.
Members of the senator's small circle of advisers also confronted McCain directly, according to sources, warning him that his continued ties to a lobbyist who had business before the powerful commerce committee he chaired threatened to derail his presidential ambitions. ...
Stop right there for a second. In his presser this morning, McCain twice denied not only that he had an untoward relationship with Iseman, but also that he was ever confronted by aides, and he referred to "more than 150" staffers reporting to him on Capitol Hill, and "anonymous" sources claiming they spoke with him. Someone is lying. If it's McCain, and it is somehow proved that he WAS confronted by aides about Ms. Isenberg, than he's got a problem. Onward, to the part of the WaPo story that to my reading, contains data that's even more harmful than the entire Times article:
... Three telecom lobbyists and a former McCain aide, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Iseman spoke up regularly at meetings of telecom lobbyists in Washington, extolling her connections to McCain and his office. She would regularly volunteer at those meetings to be the point person for the telecom industry in dealing with McCain's office.
Concern about Iseman's presence around McCain at one point led to her being banned from his Senate office, according to sources close to McCain. Senior McCain aide Mark Salter, in an e-mail, denied that Iseman was ever barred from the office or was even a frequent presence there.
Iseman's bio on her lobbying firm's Web site notes, "She has extensive experience in telecommunications, representing corporations before the House and Senate Commerce Committees."
Her partners at Alcalde & Fay include L.A. "Skip" Bafalis, a former five-term Republican congressman from Florida, and Michael A. Brown, the son of former commerce secretary Ronald H. Brown and a former Democratic candidate for mayor of the District.
Its client list is heavy with municipalities and local government entities, which suggests that its major emphasis is on the controversial business of winning narrowly targeted, or "earmarked," appropriations. [There go those nasty earmarks...]
In the years that McCain chaired the commerce committee, Iseman lobbied for Lowell W. "Bud" Paxson, the head of what used to be Paxson Communications, now Ion Media Networks, and was involved in a successful lobbying campaign to persuade McCain and other members of Congress to send letters to the Federal Communications Commission on behalf of Paxson.
In late 1999, McCain wrote two letters to the FCC urging a vote on the sale to Paxson of a Pittsburgh television station. The sale had been highly contentious in Pittsburgh and involved a multipronged lobbying effort among the parties to the deal.
At the time he sent the first letter, McCain had flown on Paxson's corporate jet four times to appear at campaign events and had received $20,000 in campaign donations from Paxson and its law firm. The second letter came on Dec. 10, a day after the company's jet ferried him to a Florida fundraiser that was held aboard a yacht in West Palm Beach.
McCain has argued that the letters merely urged a decision and did not call for action on Paxson's behalf. But when the letters became public, William E. Kennard, chairman of the FCC at the time, denounced them as "highly unusual" coming from McCain, whose committee chairmanship gave him oversight of the agency.
McCain's campaign denied that Iseman or anyone else from her firm or from Paxson "discussed with Senator McCain" the FCC's consideration of the station deal. "Neither Ms. Iseman, nor any representative of Paxson and Alcalde and Fay, personally asked Senator McCain to send a letter to the FCC regarding this proceeding," the campaign said.
Iseman and her firm, which includes high-profile Republicans and Democrats, have also represented a number of other companies that have had issues before McCain and the commerce committee, including Univision, a Spanish-language television network. Iseman clients have given nearly $85,000 to McCain campaigns since 2000, according to records at the Federal Election Commission.
Update 2: What is the message in John McCain's 1) failure to see major turnout for what was supposed to be his victory march to the nomination in tonight's caucuses and primaries... and 2) big losses to Mike Huckabee in Louisiana and especially in Kansas, where he blew Baghdad John out? (Not to mention his failure to do better than a quarter of the Republican vote in Washington state, where he marched to a three-way tie with Huckabee and Ron Paul???) Is it GOP buyers remorse? The natural effect of the absense of Mitt, and proof that his voters will not go McCain's way? Revenge of the Dittoheads? (Oh yeah, wingers don't like Huckabee, either... but perhaps any port in a storm...?) Or is it that McCain inspires nothing so much as total ambivalence or apathy from voters in his own party? Damn, John, man does not win the White House with Independents alone. You've got to turn out some Republicans somewhere along the line...
Emily's List, the powerful womens' political group headed by Ellen Malcolm (co-founder of the 527 I used to work for, America Coming Together, and who I have said is in large part responsible for Hillary Clintons victories in New Hampshire and Florida,) has waded into what can now official be called Chelseagate (or Shustergate ... or maybe pimpgate...) demanding that MSNBC take unspecified, but immediate "action" to rectify their "misogynistic" attitudes toward women. MSNBC's David Shuster has already apologized ... twice, and been temporarily suspended. MSNBC has apologized, too... Apparently, that's not enough for Emily 'n dem.
[Sidebar: At least, not while there's still a chance Hil can win Maine with a little help from the woman vote...]
Now, let me just say that MSNBC is hardly Fox News (where Hillary Clinton may, ironically be more willing to attend a debate than NBC, considered by the right to be a bastion of liberal propaganda...) and the attempts by some bloggers to characterize Shuster as some sort of shill for the right are evidence only of the fact that those folks clearly don't watch the network.
Having worked for NBC News, I can tell you they are as PC as it gets. Sure, they make mistakes (I attended a meeting of Black employees while I worked at the local station in Miami, where we discussed with the then general manager what we saw as a pattern of racially stereotypical depictions of Blacks in the newscasts, and the lack of representation of African-Americans in the decision-making functions in the newsroom...) but to try and depict MSNBC as to women what Fox is to Democrats is a stretch, to say the least. Worse, the idea that David Shuster is some sort of Bill O'Reillyesque figure because he made one slangish comment about Chelsea Clinton (who is 27 by the way, not 12, as she was when Rush Limbaugh and company lampooned her looks...) is ... well ... kind of stupid, and femist reactionary ... which is why I don't listen to feminists ... at all.
My advice to the ladies of NOW and Emily's List, and Hillary's other supporters of the female and/or liberal persuasion is this: get your panties out of a twist. David Shuster is a fine reporter, a smart guy, and sorry, Ellen, but also one of the good guys, fighting the good fight against the unexpurgated crap coming out of the White House. To try and run a Don Imus on him -- if in fact the "strong action" Emily's List wants is for him to be fired -- is a scorched earth response worthy of, well, the Clintons. And that's the problem. The Clintons are always at war. They seem to be more comfortable when in combat with some political or media enemy. But war is clearly not what a sizable portion of the electorate wants.
A lot of folks, including those of us who have been Clinton Democrats since 1992, want something different.
So stop pimping the Chelsea Clinton story for political gain and free media coverage and tell your candidate to go do that debate. Um ... you're not gonna demand swift action against me for that ... are ya...?
Update: Politico has more background on Camp Hillary's attack on bunker MSNBC, including David Shuster's initial self-defense (by email -- hot copy alert!!!) And at least some people inside NBC News are calling the network cowardly for caving to the Hillbots. Didn't I tell you earlier that NBC folks are PC and risk averse to a fault? Look how quickly they caved on Imus?
...one high-level NBC source told Politico that apologizing was an act of cowardice on behalf of the network.
"This is at least the second time they've caved to the Hillary Clinton campaign," a source told Politico, referring to Chris Matthews' recent apology over remarks he recently made about Clinton that were widely denounced as sexist. "What does this do to journalism?"
Next they'll be sending Russert over to Chappaqua with a fruit basket...
Camp Hillary erupts over MSNBC's David Shuster's comment that the campaign was "pimping out" lil' Chelsea by having her call celebs, including the ladies of "The View" -- and hit the trail on behalf of her mom.
Now, Shuster has been suspended over the incident, after Camp Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson threatened during a conference call with reporters today, to boycott future debates on NBC, including one scheduled on February 26th. NBC, which also fired Don Imus (because they're actually very wimpy and P.C. reactionary ... trust me ...) issued the following Very Stern Statement:
On Thursday's "Tucker" on MSNBC, David Shuster, who was serving as guest-host of the program, made a comment about Chelsea Clinton and the Clinton campaign that was irresponsible and inappropriate. Shuster, who apologized this morning on MSNBC and will again this evening, has been suspended from appearing on all NBC News broadcasts, other than to make his apology. He has also extended an apology to the Clinton family. NBC News takes these matters seriously, and offers our sincere regrets to the Clintons for the remarks.
Both the Clinton and Obama campaigns accepted invitations from us on Thursday evening to participate in a February 26th debate. Our conversations with the Clinton campaign about their participation continue today, and we are hopeful that the event will take place as planned.
TVNewser's insiders say the suspension is temporary -- probably at least until Hil wins another primary somewhere...
Damn, the Clintons are more lethal than the Bushies when it comes to punishing reporters for having a stray thought that's displeasing to "the family"! Break some legs, why don't ya???
BREAKING NEWS: Apparently, there will be no boycott of the ladies of "The View" for allegedly mocking Chelsea's high voice, with the lifting of the boycott immediately benefiting guaranteed Republican voter Elizabeth Hasselbeck...
The polls are open in 17 states as of 9:38 a.m., and the first closing will be just after noon in West Virginia (caucuses).
Predictions for today?
Clinton will win New York Arkansas Arizona Utah Connecticut
Barack will win Illinois Georgia Missouri New Jersey (big upset) Delaware
and he might ... just might ... grab Massachusetts or California by a nose, with the latter being made possible by the open primary -- it's all about whether there are more Independent crossovers than there were absentee ballot voters (who will probably break for Hillary)
This will also be a big night for John McCain, although California might be closer than you think for the Mittster. Let's see if there's a Limbaugh revolution nationwide (although I sincerely doubt it...)
Caveat: predictions are meaningless. The polls are nearly so. It's all completely unpredictable...
The Post says neither Democrat has benefited yet from the departure of John Edwards. And a separate story says blue collar, white voters in both parties are still thoroughly undecided. (Could this be the new swing demographic, akin to the soccer moms and security moms of the past?)
... Three-quarters of voters who prioritize a solid resume said they back Clinton; 70 percent of those seeking a change-oriented candidate said they support Obama.
While Clinton has the edge on the issues voters say are most important to them, and enjoys a wide lead on the question of who is a stronger leader, Obama now holds a seven-percentage-point advantage as the candidate who would do the most to bring needed change to Washington.
And Clinton's once-sizable lead as the Democrat with the best shot at winning the White House has shrunk significantly; in the new poll, 47 percent said she is the most electable, while 42 percent said Obama has the better chance. In hypothetical general-election matchups, both Democrats run neck and neck with McCain, and both lead Romney by double digits.
McCain outperforms Romney in the general-election tests because he picks up significantly more support among independents and political moderates. These groups have been crucial to the senator in early-state caucuses and primaries, and his biggest gains in this poll came among them.
Among GOP voters who are politically moderate and liberal, McCain has a whopping 51-point advantage over Romney in the new poll, while conservatives divide 37 percent for McCain, 29 percent for Romney and 19 percent for Huckabee. Moreover, most of McCain's improvement since mid-January is among moderates and liberals; he is up 28 percentage points in this group, while he and Romney have both climbed 12 points among conservatives.
McCain has taken control of the GOP race by picking up mainline Republican supporters as well. Nearly half of self-identified Republicans now support him, up nearly fourfold from December. He appears to have benefited from the decisions by former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and former senator Fred D. Thompson (Tenn.) to quit the race. Both Giuliani, who has endorsed McCain, and Thompson appealed to many of the voters McCain now counts in his camp.
Two-thirds of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents saw McCain as the party's strongest general-election candidate, and about three in five described him as the strongest leader. He also now has a double-digit advantage over Romney on the question of who best represents the core values of the party. On this measure, he is up 14 points from three weeks ago.
While moderates and liberals have coalesced around McCain as the GOP standard-bearer (56 percent said he best reflects party values), conservatives are less than fully convinced. Among those who describe themselves as "very conservative," 34 percent said Romney best embodies GOP values, and 25 percent said McCain.
McCain also leads on all five issue areas tested in the poll, with overwhelming advantages on national security issues (69 percent call him tops on Iraq; 67 percent on terrorism). He has double-digit advantages over Romney on the economy and immigration, and leads both Romney and Huckabee on social issues. About four in 10 Romney supporters said McCain is better on Iraq and terrorism.
For all his advantages, however, McCain does not enjoy the kind of enthusiastic support that Clinton and Obama have among their voters. Thirty-eight percent of his backers said they strongly support him. And among those Republicans who are most closely following the GOP race, he and Romney are running essentially even.
One more piece of data from the poll: it's shaping up to be a Clinton-type election ("it's the economy, stupid,") with 39 percent of voters saying the economy/jobs is the most important issue, followed by the war in Iraq at 19 percent (terrorism & national security has fallen to just 5 percent, with healthcare just ahead of it at 8 percent. ... sorry, John McCain... and illegal immigration is at just 4 percent ... sorry everybody who hates John McCain...)
The economy dominance may not be enough for Hillary to close the deal over Barack, who has tons of money ($30 million raised in January alone) to pour into the Super Tuesday states, and he's already spending money in the states that immediately follow, but it's an advantage nonetheless, because it plays to the strengths of the Clintons... emphasis on the "s"...
It's rare that I completely agree with Chris Matthews, but today, I do. As Chris just said on MSNBC, today, Ted Kennedy, his son Patrick and his niece Caroline "transferred all the majesty and magic of the Kennedy legacy to this one young guy," Barack Obama. (The endorsement just took place at American University in Massachusetts.)
Think about it: all that Camelot implies: the sea change in this country's search for racial justice and healing, the search for peace amid the cold war, and the hope of enshrining a new generation in politics, all handed, wrapped in soaring rhetoric, to a Black, first generation American -- a man who literally is both Black and White, ordinary and extraordinary, and as young as JFK and RFK were when they became America's knights in shining armor. I'm sounding Chris Matthews gushy right now, but I think it's hard to argue that this was not an extraordinary quartet of speeches at American University, and in my opinion, an historic one for the country.
The endorsement won't help Barack in the general, where Kennedy is seen as a very liberal figure, but in the primary it's big, especially since Kennedy will apparently concentrate his campaigning on eating into Hillary's current advantage with Latino voters.
Also: apparently Ted Kennedy ignored pleas directly from Bill Clinton not to make this endorsement. What an exceptional rebuke.
Update: Just got off the phone with a friend of mine in Michigan. She's dubious about the results so far and smells a rat. I don't know about that, but Bill Clinton was clearly smart to lower expectations and start sounding the dirges today, because the media is absolutely flummoxed by the results so far, given their breathless coverage of Obama thus far. I think Chris Matthews' head is going to explode. And he had given his triumphant Obama speech earlier today and everything -- speculating on how big a blow-out it would be. To be honest, I was looking for a big margin for Barack myself.
Let's see how the rest of those returns come in...
McCain's independent base comes through for him big time in New Hampshire. There's a pall over the House of Romney (I guess those magical underwear aren't so magical, after all.) And yet, McCain has no clearer path to the GOP nomination than Romney does, and Mike Huckabee, with a solid third place finish projected tonight, remains in position to take South Carolina (for McCain, could it be a repeat of 2000, without the "nigger daughter" nastiness served up by the Bushies?) Time will tell.
Tonight, however, the McCain camp is feeling good, in a deja vu sort of way...
The numbers appear to be shaking out this way (with my predictions in parens):
McCain 37% (35%) Romney 28 (29) Huckabee 12 (19) Paul 9 (10) Giuliani 9 (7) -- Giuliani is just slightly ahead of Paul...
Not bad on my part. Now the Dems are a toooootally different story...
is that nothing is predictable. I won't even attempt to call the Democratic caucus results in Iowa. If it snows really badly, I'd put my money on Edwards' union supporters being the most likely to show up. If it's great weather, I'd bet Hillary's middle aged and older women will show. If Obama gets those young Starbucks sippers to actually caucus, his superiority in terms of supporter enthusiasm will carry the day. Oh, and everybody likes Joe Biden. (The New York Times today describes the state of the Democratic race in Iowa as one of "happy paralysis.")
Obama, for his part, seems to be benefiting from better relations with the second tier -- Kucinich is already telling his supporters to caucus for Obama (not that there are many of them) and the WaPo is reporting today about a possible Biden-Obama deal to help Biden best Bill Richardson. It goes something like this:
A source close to the Biden campaign described a possible arrangement, now under discussion between the two camps, that could apply to certain precincts where Biden can't meet the 15 percent viability threshold, but where he is backed by local officials with the clout to move Biden supporters to Obama. In return, Biden could capture some of Obama's overflow in precincts where the Illinois senator has more than enough support to win.
Of course the details are secret, but team Biden knows exactly how much support it needs, and where, for the Delaware senator to finish fourth, ideally in double digits. Biden's poor showing in one public poll after another has confounded many Hawkeye political observers, given the large and enthusiastic crowds he draws, along with his impressive foreign policy resume. But while Biden was unable to raise the money needed to build the statewide ground organization needed to contend here, he did cultivate key relationships across rural Iowa. And some of these state and local officials have informed the campaign that they are backing Obama as their second choice.
A fourth place finish would not turn Biden into a favorite for the nomination, but it would allow him to participate in the Democratic debate on Saturday in New Hamsphire, one last chance for the political veteran to make his mark.
Who knows. But if he wins Iowa, I'd bet that he either wins or comes very close to winning in Independent-rich New Hampshire and then that means he probably wins South Carolina, too. Hillary would then have to pull a Rudy Giuliani, winning Michigan (where Edwards is strong, and the vote is early) and Florida.
The biggest pressure today has to be on Camp Hillary. If Senator Clinton loses big in Iowa, her road to the nomination becomes a marathon, and her inevitability is shattered. She must win or come very close today. Period.
On the GOP side (which I'm much less sick of at this point,) the nomination has become an all-out cat fight.
Romney must do well enough in Iowa and win New Hampshire, or he cannot buy the nomination.
Huckabee will probably win Iowa (that's my only prediction today) but probably cannot win New Hampshire. But he could take South Carolina, and maybe even Florida.
Rudy ... why even talk about him until Florida?
Ron Paul rocks, but once the voting starts, he stops being interesting (not to me, but to the press)...
John Edwards leads a statistical three-way tie between himself, Hillary and Barack in Iowa, and Romney appears to beat back the Huckamob in that state ... maybe. These and other results render Iowa officially too close to call just days ahead of the caucuses.
MSNBC/McClatchy/Mason-Dixon Likely Democratic Caucus Goers' Choice for President
John Edwards 24 percent Hillary Clinton 23 percent Barack Obama 22 percent Bill Richardson 12 percent Joe Biden 8 percent Chris Dodd 2 percent Dennis Kucinich 1 percent
MSNBC/McClatchy/Mason-Dixon Likely Republican Caucus Goers' Choice for President
Mitt Romney 27 percent Mike Huckabee 23 percent Fred Thompson 14 percent John McCain 13 percent Rudy Giuliani 5 percent Ron Paul 5 percent Duncan Hunter 1 percent
Sampling error for both polls: plus or minus 5 percentage points
I say if it snows heavily, Edwards wins (his union supporters are about the only ones you can count on to trudge out in waist deep snow) and Obama is hurt most (his supporters are the most enthusiastic, but also the most green, and young -- both predictors of unreliability). I'd bet Hillary comes in second to either Barack or Edwards, but that prediction, like everything else about Iowa, is subject to change...
Even though I think many of his policies (abolishing the income tax, pulling U.S. troops out of every base around the world and ending federal support for public schools) would be radically ... um ... transformative (in a disruptive, market crashing sense), I love his plucky determination to defend the Constitution from those within his own party who have developed a very unhealthy taste for interventionism and authoritarianism (the link is to Paul's now famous "Neoconned" speech on the floor of the House,) and even "soft fascism."
What a performance on "Meet the Press" yesterday! His stuttery, nutty professor persona is absolutely endearing, even when he's saying the 1964 Civil Rights Act was a bad idea for the country (he says it was an unconstitutional means of making the federal government regulate private property) or when he's talking about phasing out Social Security (but taking care of those who are already dependent on it.)
Paul is a Constitutional purist, and I even accept his argument that while he's for shrinking government into the size of a split pea (with only a Pentagon inside it), he pushed for earmarks for his own Texas district. Hell, he's a Congressman, delivering for his district is what he's supposed to do.
REP. PAUL: I put it in because I represent people who are asking for some of their money back. But it doesn't cut any spending to vote against an earmark. And the Congress has the responsibility to spend the money. Why leave the money in the executive branch and let them spend the money?
Paul was especially compelling when parrying with Russert over U.S. foreign policy, which he says accounts for the bulk of our trillion-plus dollar overspending. He says we should cut off aid to Israel, and to the Arab countries as well, and "give them their sovereignty back." When Russert demanded to know what he would then do if Iran "invaded Israel," Paul responded by giving the question the seriousness it deserved:
MR. RUSSERT: So if Iran invaded Israel, what do we do?
REP. PAUL: Well, they're not going to. That is like saying "Iran is about to invade Mars." I mean, they have nothing. They don't have an army or navy or air force. And Israelis have 300 nuclear weapons. Nobody would touch them. But, no, if, if it were in our national security interests and Congress says, "You know, this is very, very important, we have to declare war." But presidents don't have the authority to go to war.
Bravo. And when Russert continued to push the issue, which for some reason is a pet issue among American journalists, Paul continued to make perfect sense:
MR. RUSSERT: This is what you said about Israel. "Israel's dependent on us, you know, for economic means. We send them" "billions of dollars and they," then they "depend on us. They say, `Well, you know, we don't like Iran. You go fight our battles. You bomb Iran for us.' And they become dependent on us."
Who in Israel is saying "Go bomb Iran for us"?
REP. PAUL: Well, I don't know the individuals, but we know that their leaderships--you read it in the papers on a daily--a daily, you know, about Israel, the government of Israel encourages Americans to go into Iran, and the people--I don't think that's a--I don't think that's top secret that the government of Israel...
MR. RUSSERT: That the government of Israel wants us to bomb Iran?
REP. PAUL: I, I don't think there's a doubt about that, that they've encouraged us to do that. And of course the neoconservatives have been anxious to do that for a long time.
MR. RUSSERT: Would you cut off all foreign aid to Israel?
REP. PAUL: Absolutely. But remember, the Arabs would get cut off, too, and the Arabs get three times as much aid altogether than Israel. But why, why make Israel so dependent? Why do we--they give up their sovereignty. They can't defend their borders without coming to us. If they want a peace treaty, they have to ask us permission. They can't--we interfere when the Arab leagues make overtures to them. So I would say that we've made them second class citizens. I, I think they would take much better care of themselves. They would have their national sovereignty back, and I think they would be required then to have a stronger economy because they would have to pay their own bills.
I can just hear the sound of the neoconservatives' heads exploding...
Russert tried to draw Paul into the "Patriot trap" by questioning his fealty to the notion that the Islamofascists hate us for our freedoms and are waging global jihad against, us, therefore we must support the president (ahem):
MR. RUSSERT: You mentioned September 11th, a former aide of yours, Eric Dondero said this. "When September 11th happened, he just completely changed," talking about you. "One of the first things he said was not how awful the tragedy was, it was, `Now we're going to get big government.'" Was that your reaction?
REP. PAUL: Well, I'm, I'm surprised somebody like that who's a disgruntled former employee who literally was put out. But, yes, thought...
MR. RUSSERT: He said he quit because he disagreed with you.
REP. PAUL: Yeah, no. The point is, Randolph Bourne says war is a helpless state. I believe that statement. When you have war, whether it's a war against drugs, war against terrorism, war, war overseas, war--the mentality of the people change and they're more willing to sacrifice their liberties in order to be safe and secure. So, yes, right after 9/11 my reaction was, you know, it's going to be a lot tougher selling liberty. But I'm pleasantly surprised that I'm still in the business of selling liberty and the Constitution and there's still a lot of enthusiasm for it. So all the American people don't agree that we have to have the nanny state and have the government taking care of us. So I have been encouraged. I might have been too pessimistic immediately after 9/11 because, in a way, it has caused this reaction and this uprising in this country to say, "Enough is enough. We don't need more Patriot Acts, we don't need more surveillance of our people. We don't need national ID cards. We don't need the suspension of habeas corpus. What we need is more freedom." So in one way I was pessimistic, but in another way, now, I'm more encouraged with the reception I'm getting with this message.
MR. RUSSERT: And you actually go further. You said this. "Abolish the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency and dismantle every other agency except the Justice and Defense Departments." And then you went on. "If elected president, Paul says he would abolish public schools, welfare, Social Security and farm subsidies."
REP. PAUL: OK, you may have picked that up 20 or 30 years ago, it's not part of my platform. As a matter of fact, I'm the only one that really has an interim program. Technically, a lot of those functions aren't constitutional. But the point is I'm not against the FBI investigation in doing a proper role, but I'm against the FBI spying on people like Martin Luther King. I'm against the CIA fighting secret wars and overthrowing government and interfering...
MR. RUSSERT: Would you abolish them?
REP. PAUL: I would, I would not abolish all their functions, but I--the, the, the...
MR. RUSSERT: What about public schools? Are you still...
REP. PAUL: OK, but let's go, let's go with the CIA. They're, they're involved in, in, in torture. I would abolish that, yes. But I wouldn't abolish their right and our, our requirement to accumulate intelligence for national defense purposes.
MR. RUSSERT: But if you...
REP. PAUL: That's quite different.
Score another one for Ron Paul. Whatever your views on his radical libertarianism, you can't argue that he doesn't know the Constitution, and unlike the present occupant of the White House, he actually respects it.
And he made Russert look really quite silly on the question of amendments:
MR. RUSSERT: You say you're a strict constructionist of the Constitution, and yet you want to amend the Constitution to say that children born here should not automatically be U.S. citizens.
REP. PAUL: Well, amending the Constitution is constitutional. What's a--what's the contradiction there?
You can argue with Paul on the substance, but uh, Tim ... the Constitution can be amended ... it's kind of written in there... Being a strict constructionist doesn't mean you don't believe in amending the Constitution, it means believing that judges and legislators cannot act in contravention to the Constitution without amending it... Anyhoo...
Paul also had great answers on the "war on drugs," the civil war and slavery (he makes the point that every other country in the West got rid of slavery without a war), but his best answer was on the question of fascism, as mentioned earlier. On that, he is in agreement with Constitutional experts like fellow libertarian Jonathan Turley and former Nixon counsel John Dean, as well as with people of the left like Randi Rhodes. Here's the back and forth:
MR. RUSSERT: ... Before you go, Mike Huckabee, Republican candidate for president, ran this commercial for Christmas and many thought that the shelf in the back looked like a cross. You were asked about it on CNN and this is what you said.
REP. PAUL: It reminds me of what Sinclair Lewis once says. He said when fascism comes to this country, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross.
MR. RUSSERT: What does that mean?
REP. PAUL: What? Fascism or the definition of fascism?
MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe that Mike Huckabee is...
REP. PAUL: Oh, I didn't say that. I said it reminded me--as a matter of fact they caught me completely cold on that. I had not seen the ad, and they just said there was a cross there. And, you know, it was an instantaneous reflex because I knew of Sinclair Lewis about being cautious, because, you know, I--what prompts this is things like the Patriot Act. You know...
MR. RUSSERT: Let me go back...
REP. PAUL: No, no. If you're not a patriot...
MR. RUSSERT: But let me go back to this ad. You do not believe that Mike Huckabee, that ad commercial represents the potential of fascism in the form of a cross.
REP. PAUL: No. But I think this country, a movement in the last 100 years, is moving toward fascism. Fascism today, the softer term, because people have different definition of fascism, is corporatism when the military industrial complex runs the show, when the--in the name of security pay--pass the Patriot Act. You don't vote for it, you know, you're not patriotic America. If you don't support the troops and you don't support--if you don't support the war you don't support the troops. It's that kind of antagonism. But we have more corporatism and more abuse of our civil liberties, more loss of our privacy, national ID cards, all this stuff coming has a fascist tone to it. And the country's moving in that direction. That's what I'm thinking about. This was not personalized. I never even used my opponents names if you, if you notice.
MR. RUSSERT: So you think we're close to fascism?
REP. PAUL: I think we're approaching it very close. One--there's one, there's one documentary that's been put out recently that has generated a lot of interest called "Freedom to Fascism." And we're moving in that direction. Were not moving toward Hitler-type fascism, but we're moving toward a softer fascism. Loss of civil liberties, corporations running the show, big government in bed with big business. So you have the military industrial complex, you have the medical industrial complex, you have the financial industry, you have the communications industry. They go to Washington and spend hundreds of millions of dollars. That's where the control is. I call that a soft form of fascism, something that is very dangerous.
MR. RUSSERT: For the record, the Sinclair Lewis Society said that Mr. Lewis never uttered that quote.
REP. PAUL: But others refuted that and put them down and said that--and they found the exact quote where it came from.
More on Sinclair Lewis and his apocryphal novel, "It Can't Happen Here," here.
OK, a girl's got to have a day ... or ten ... off.
So what's been going on while I've been on birthday break?
The Republican race for president has actually become more interesting, while the Democratic race is becoming a bore. Yeah, yeah, there's Oprah and all, but since I don't watch Oprah, and I'm not in Iowa, or South Carolina (and thus didn't have one of those 18-zillion tickets to the O&O Show) I'd rather have a free basket of the grand lady's favorite things (without the taxes to pay, please.)
Meanwhile, a new CBS/NYT poll finds GOP voters even less excited by their race than I am about ours.
Democratic voters, on the whole, view their candidates considerably more favorably than Republican voters do, and are much more optimistic about their prospects next November. Mrs. Clinton is viewed favorably by 68 percent of Democrats, followed by Mr. Obama who is viewed favorably by 54 percent. Mr. Edwards is viewed favorably by just 36 percent.
By contrast, on the Republican side, Mr. Giuliani is viewed the most favorably by members of his party — and that is by only 41 percent. Mr. McCain is viewed favorably by 37 percent and Mr. Romney is viewed favorably by 36 percent. Mr. Huckabee is viewed favorably by 30 percent, but 42 percent said they didn’t know enough about him to say whether to offer a view of him, suggesting that he might be vulnerable to the kind of attacks that his opponents have already been raising against them.
Among Republicans, 76 percent of respondents said that they could still change their mind about who to support, compared with 23 percent who said their decision was firm. Among Democrats, 59 percent said they might change their mind.
Libby Bass, 67, a Republican poll respondent from Woodbine, Georgia, said in a follow-up interview that she was weary of hearing the Republicans argue with one another, and that she was not ready to make a decision. “They’re not telling us what their plans or goals are; they’re just mimicking each other,” she said. “I’m waiting to see if someone comes up with something that will change my mind.
And there is no clear leader among Republicans: Mr. Giuliani was the choice of 22 percent of respondents, Mr. Huckabee with 21 percent and Mr. Romney with 16 percent. Senator John McCain of Arizona and Fred Thompson of Tennessee each had 7 percent.
On the Democratic side, the leader, Mrs. Clinton, has the support of 44 percent of respondents, compared with 27 percent for Mr. Obama and just 11 percent for Mr. Edwards. The rest of the Democratic candidates drew 2 percent or lower.
A CBS News poll conducted in mid-October — which offered voters a choice only of Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama and Mr. Edwards — found Mrs. Clinton with 51 percent, Mr. Obama with 23 percent and Mr. Edwards with 13 percent.
He's facing new scrutiny of his controversial push to pardon a rapist whose victim was Bill Clinton's second cousin ... mainly because he appears to have pandered to the worst elements inside Arkansas, who couldn't accept the word of anyone related to Bill Clinton that she was victimized, even when a jury did accept her word, and that of the police, and the forensics people ... you know, the people who investigate such things...
So much for Huck being the "nice" candidate.
Other excitement on the GOP side:
Apparently Mitt Romney is a super duper Christian ... who knew? And he'll work hard as president to root out the evils of secularism, wherever it rears its ugly head. He will not, however, and did not in his big speech last week, explain the magical underpants. Perhaps fellow Mormon Glenn Beck will step up to the plate on that one.
Tim Russert finally asked a lethal question of a Republican, on this Sunday's Meet the Press, after Sir Rudy of 9/11 attempted to blame the NYPD for Judy's official, taxpayer dog walking security force, saying it was they, and not he, who demanded that Rudy's gal pal get protection, and that poor Judy didn't even want it (the poor dear). To that, Russert asked this:
MR. RUSSERT: Using that reasoning, would it be appropriate for a president to provide Secret Service protection for his mistress?
Bingo. And here's Rudy's waaaaay too long answer:
MR. GIULIANI: It would not be appropriate to, to do it for that reason, Tim, and that isn’t, that, that isn’t the right way to—you know, that isn’t the right way to, to analyze it or to say this. The reason it’s done is because somebody threatens to do harm, and the people who assess it come to the conclusion that it is necessary to do this. The reality is that it all came about because of my public position, because of the fact that when people are public or celebrities these kinds of threats take place. And the New York City Police Department has rules; they applied the rules, they applied them in exactly the same way as they always apply them. I did not make the judgment. I didn’t ask for it. Judith didn’t particularly want it, but it was done because they took the view that it was serious and it had to be done this way. And it was done the way they wanted to do it.
In fact, when you get security like this—and many people think, you know, this is a great convenience. And, and this is not at all to suggest that I don’t have great respect for the processionals who do this. Honestly, Tim, I know how it gets played in the media. This is not something you would want. You would not want to have this security, because it is coming about because somebody has threatened to do terrible things to you or your family and professionals have evaluated it that way and feel you need the security. And you say to them, “Can I do this? Can I do that? Can I go here? Can I go there?” And they tell you, “No, you can’t.” So this is not something—I know how it gets played, but this is not something that anybody ever desires. I remember the first time it happened with me. I mean, the things that I liked to do, I couldn’t, I couldn’t do any more, because they would tell me “You can’t do it this way. You have to do it another way.”
Uh-huh... Here's the take from Tom DeFrank of the NYDN:
His explanation of Nathan's police car service doesn't square with Friday's Daily News exclusive report, citing multiple witnesses and a law enforcement source, that she was being protected by city taxpayers months before the affair was revealed in May 2000.
"The threats were after" their romance became known, Giuliani maintained Sunday. The only guest on Russert's "Meet the Press," Giuliani endured a withering examination of his personal character and business dealings.
To the glee of fellow presidential contenders, the Republican front-runner spent nearly an hour playing defense, attempting to deflect a flurry of questions about his relationship with indicted pal Bernard Kerik and Kerik's mistress Judith Regan, controversial corporate clients and his own tangled personal life.
"The baggage is finally starting to catch up with him," a neutral GOP consultant said.
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side of the aisle, the news is all ...
In all serioiusness, if Barack Obama's team can figure out a way to translate his pop culture wave into real votes, he has a damned good chance of getting the nomination. Hillary still has the machine, and the strongest ground team on the Democratic side, and honestly, new, "hype" voters are serially unreliable on election day, but if Barack can do what Howie Dean could not in 2004, he could pull off wins in Iowa and South Carolina, and seriously shake Hill's inevitability.
OK, the Dem race isn't all that boring. But its much more fun to watch the GOPers flail around, I must say.
Rudy Giuliani is a very bad man. I think we've more than established that. He's also a charlaitan who has enriched himself on the graves of nearly 3,000 people who died in the World Trade Center towers (the two that stood alongside his apparent Judy love-nest inside WTC 7, where he also, I'm sure quite coincidentally, housed his city's emergency response center...) And he has a list of clients for his various consulting interests that read from ironic (Hugo Chavez' state-run Citgo) to bad (Cintra, the folks behind that very real, thank you Jeffrey Toobin, NAFTA superhighway), to worse, according to Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice:
Three weeks after 9/11, when the roar of fighter jets still haunted the city's skyline, the emir of gas-rich Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah al-Thani, toured Ground Zero. Although a member of the emir's own royal family had harbored the man who would later be identified as the mastermind of the attack—a man named Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, often referred to in intelligence circles by his initials, KSM—al-Thani rushed to New York in its aftermath, offering to make a $3 million donation, principally to the families of its victims. Rudy Giuliani, apparently unaware of what the FBI and CIA had long known about Qatari links to Al Qaeda, appeared on CNN with al-Thani that night and vouched for the emir when Larry King asked the mayor: "You are a friend of his, are you not?"
"We had a very good meeting yesterday. Very good," said Giuliani, adding that he was "very, very grateful" for al-Thani's generosity. It was no cinch, of course, that Giuliani would take the money: A week later, he famously rejected a $10 million donation from a Saudi prince who advised America that it should "adopt a more balanced stand toward the Palestinian cause." (Giuliani continues to congratulate himself for that snub on the campaign trail.) Al-Thani waited a month before expressing essentially the same feelings when he returned to New York for a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly and stressed how important it was to "distinguish" between the "phenomenon" of 9/11 and "the legitimate struggles" of the Palestinians "to get rid of the yoke of illegitimate occupation and subjugation." Al-Thani then accused Israel of "state terrorism" against the Palestinians.
But there was another reason to think twice about accepting al-Thani's generosity that Giuliani had to have been aware of, even as he heaped praise on the emir. Al Jazeera, the Arabic news network based in Qatar (pronounced "Cutter"), had been all but created by al-Thani, who was its largest shareholder. The Bush administration was so upset with the coverage of Osama bin Laden's pronouncements and the U.S. threats to bomb Afghanistan that Secretary of State Colin Powell met the emir just hours before Giuliani's on-air endorsement and asked him to tone down the state-subsidized channel's Islamist footage and rhetoric. The six-foot-eight, 350-pound al-Thani, who was pumping about $30 million a year into Al Jazeera at the time, refused Powell's request, citing the need for "a free and credible media." The administration's burgeoning distaste for what it would later brand "Terror TV" was already so palpable that King—hardly a newsman—asked the emir if he would help "spread the word" that the U.S. was "not targeting the average Afghan citizen." Al-Thani ignored the question—right before Giuliani rushed in to praise him again.
In retrospect, Giuliani's embrace of the emir appears peculiar. But it was only a sign of bigger things to come: the launching of a cozy business relationship with terrorist-tolerant Qatar that is inconsistent with the core message of Giuliani's current presidential campaign, namely that his experience and toughness uniquely equip him to protect America from what he tauntingly calls "Islamic terrorists"—an enemy that he always portrays himself as ready to confront, and the Democrats as ready to accommodate.
The contradictory and stunning reality is that Giuliani Partners, the consulting company that has made Giuliani rich, feasts at the Qatar trough, doing business with the ministry run by the very member of the royal family identified in news and government reports as having concealed KSM—the terrorist mastermind who wired funds from Qatar to his nephew Ramzi Yousef prior to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and who also sold the idea of a plane attack on the towers to Osama bin Laden—on his Qatar farm in the mid-1990s. ...
There's much more in the article. It's long and detailed, and worth the read. The only remaining question is just how much conservatives are willing to tolerate. They've looked past Rudy's womanizing, his dumping his wife, his pimping 9/11 for personal financial gain, his lapsed morality on issues like abortion, and his partisans are even shrugging off his use of the NYPD as his mistress' personal taxi service, at taxpayer expense. Are the moralistic hypocrites like Glenn Beck (Mr. "I like Rudy because he'll shoot Muslims in the head") and Pat (The Nutjob) Robertson willing to even overlook Rudy's ties to terrorism?
I await the RedState walkback.
Back to the love-nest for a sec. The link in the first paragaph is to a post yesterday by Joshua Micah Marshall. It's worth giving you a taste:
Before 9/11, the city of New York set up an emergency command center in the World Trade Center complex, actually in building 7. After 9/11 this was a matter of some controversy since it obviously wasn't usable on the day of the attacks. (Building 7 eventually collapsed late in the day on 9/11.) And while no one could have predicted 9/11 precisely, there was a certain gap in logic in building the command center in what had already proven to be a top terrorist target.
However that might be, earlier this year it emerged that Rudy actually spent a lot of time in his personal quarters in the command center pre-9/11 because that's where he took Judi for their snogfests while their relationship was still a secret.
In fact, it gets better. While it's difficult to prove, there was a decent amount of circumstantial evidence -- and some city officials believed -- that Rudy's reason for wanting the center in building 7 was so that he could walk there easily from city hall for his trysts with Judy.
So just how do we judge the price NYC paid for the Judi affair?
The Rudy and Judy Show! Sponsored by, the Taxpayers of New York City
File this one under, "I could have told you that..."
The mainstream media finally catches up with a seedy story New Yorkers have known about for years: that Bernie Kerik wasn't the only sleazebag using public resources for his private sexual affairs. Here's the headline from today's NY Post:
REPORT: GIULIANI USED CITY CASH FOR JUDY RENDEZ-VOUS
November 28, 2007 -- America's mayor reportedly dipped into various city agencies' budgets to pay for extra security while kicking off his extramarital affair with now-wife Judy Nathan, a political blog reported today.
The Post reported more than six years ago that the trips were costing New York taxpayers $3,000 a day.
Rudy Giuliani, previously undisclosed government documents show, used funds from small government agencies to pay his tab, Politico.com alleged in a report.
It has previously been reported that Giuliani would sneak off to Hamptons to rendez-vous with then-girlfriend Nathan, and these trips incurred extra costs for the police officers assigned to protect the former mayor.
When the large expenses were found by the city comptroller months after Giuliani left office -- such as $34,000 of travel expenses billed to the New York City Loft Board's account -- the mayor's office simply cited "security," Jeff Simmons, spokesman for the city comptroller, told Politico.com.
The Post indeed did break the story years ago, when Bushie was running for Senator, that he used taxpayer funded security details to protect his then mistress, Judith Nathan, who is now his wife (until he finds something better, of course ... paging the Special Dispensation Cardinal!...) Perhaps the Post could look into who footed the bill for Rudy's rent when his then wife Donna Hanover kicked him out of Gracie Mansion for cheating, and he went to live with those gay guys and their dog...
Oh, sorry, I forgot ... the media doesn't talk about Rudy's private life. It's not relevant...
Anyway, here's the full report from Politico, including these juicy tidbits about the agencies that were paying for Rudy's Hamptons booty calls:
The documents, obtained by Politico under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, show that the mayoral costs had nothing to do with the functions of the little-known city offices that defrayed his tabs, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants.
In other words, Rudy screwed crippled people and indigent folk accused of crimes, in order to get his groove on. Now, here's Rudy acting like George W. Bush:
The expenses first surfaced as Giuliani's two terms as mayor of New York drew to a close in 2001, when a city auditor stumbled across something unusual: $34,000 worth of travel expenses buried in the accounts of the New York City Loft Board.
When the city's fiscal monitor asked for an explanation, Giuliani's aides refused, citing "security," said Jeff Simmons, a spokesman for the city comptroller.
And here's Rudy playing Tax Mooch Cassanova:
But American Express bills and travel documents obtained by Politico suggest another reason City Hall may have considered the documents sensitive: They detail three summers of visits to Southampton, the Long Island town where Nathan had an apartment.
Auditors "were unable to verify that these expenses were for legitimate or necessary purposes," City Comptroller William Thompson wrote of the expenses from fiscal year 2000, which covers parts of 1999 and 2000. ...
... The receipts tally the costs of hotel and gas bills for the police detectives who traveled everywhere with the mayor, according to cover sheets that label them “PD expenses” and travel authorizations that describe the trips. ...
... Many of the receipts are from hotels and gas stations on Long Island, where Giuliani reportedly began visiting Nathan’s Southampton condominium in the summer of 1999, though Giuliani and Nathan have never discussed the beginning of their relationship.
Nathan would go on to become Giuliani’s third wife, but his second marriage was officially intact until the spring of 2000, and City Hall officials at the time responded to questions about his absences by saying he was spending time with his son and playing golf.
So Rudy wasn't above using his son as an excuse to see his girlfriend ... sounds very presidential. For those on the right, including kooks like Pat Robertson and self-riteous airheads like Glenn Beck, to justify their support for Giuliani by calling his libidinous behavior "irrelevant", I would ask the following question: how can you say that Rudy's affair isn't relevant when it involved the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for security? Just sayin' ... and I don't want to hear the words "Bill Clinton." Clinton never used the Secret Service to shuttle Monica around, and his fooling around had absolutely no connection to his public office. Not so in the case of Rudy, who conducted his affair with the help of New York City taxpayers -- some of the most heavily taxed people in the country.
Even after his term as mayor ended, Rudy continued to receive taxpayer funded security to the tune of $1 million per year, with more than a dozen cops protecting him, his former wife, and his kids (and probably his mistress, too.) The New York press has covered Rudy's marital soap opera for years, and this story is NOT news to those of us who have lived in NYC.
We remember, for example, back in the spring of 2001 when Rudy, in his move to push Donna Hanover out the door, cut her security detail. Note the interesting detail about Judy in this humdinger from the NYT's Elizabeth Bumiller:
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani cut in half the office staff of his estranged wife, Donna Hanover, yesterday as police officials announced separately that they had reassigned three members of Ms. Hanover's security detail to other jobs.
Mr. Giuliani's actions made it clear that he would continue to use the powers of his office to sever his wife from her public role as the city's first lady and to isolate her as much as possible during his final months in office.
A police official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said three police detectives assigned to Ms. Hanover to make security arrangements in advance of her public appearances had been reassigned on Friday. Ms. Hanover will still be protected, the official said, by an undisclosed number of detectives traveling with her. ''She has an adequate security detail,'' the official said.
Helene Brezinsky, Ms. Hanover's divorce lawyer, said she had no comment. ...
... Last week, aides to Mr. Giuliani said he was stripping Ms. Hanover of her public duties and giving the role of his hostess to Irene R. Halligan, the commissioner of the New York City Commission for the United Nations, Consular Corps and Protocol. Mr. Giuliani filed for divorce from his wife last fall.
... ''To the extent that Donna is no longer performing a function derived from the mayor, she doesn't need a public relations person,'' said a senior City Hall aide.
... The police official added that Judith Nathan, Mr. Giuliani's friend, was no longer receiving security protection. In January, police officials disclosed that Ms. Nathan had been receiving police protection since she was threatened a few days after Christmas, when a man confronted her on the street not far from her Upper East Side apartment. Officials said at the time that it was probable that the man had approached her because of her relationship with the mayor. Ms. Nathan's security protection, the official said, ended a few weeks later.
Mr. Giuliani announced last May that he was seeking a separation from Ms. Hanover and that Ms. Nathan had become increasingly important to him. Ms. Hanover and the couple's two children continue to live at Gracie Mansion, and Mr. Giuliani uses a guest room there. Earlier this month he had his divorce lawyers argue that he should be allowed to bring Ms. Nathan there. A judge disagreed and barred Ms. Nathan from Gracie Mansion. Mr. Giuliani is appealing.
Mr. Giuliani has grown increasingly angry that Ms. Hanover continues to play a first lady role as their marriage has crumbled and he has chosen Ms. Nathan as his public companion.
Update: Wolf Blitzer actually covered the story. Just teased it on CNN. Wow. Next thing you know Chris Matthews will be paying attention...
Feb. 12: District of Columbia primary, Maryland primary, Virginia primary
Feb. 19: Hawaii Democratic caucuses, Washington primary, Wisconsin primary (Hawaii Republicans will have no primary or caucus.)
March 4: Massachusetts primary, Ohio primary, Rhode Island primary, Texas primary, Vermont primary
March 8: Wyoming Democratic caucuses
March 11: Mississippi primary
April 22: Pennsylvania primary
May 6: Indiana primary, North Carolina primary
May 13: Nebraska primary, West Virginia primary
May 20: Kentucky primary, Oregon primary
May 27: Idaho Republican primary
June 3: Montana primary, New Mexico GOP caucuses, South Dakota primary
Thanks to the machinations, mainly of the DNC, Iowa and New Hampshire, two of the least diverse, least representative states in the Union, have an even more outsized influence on who the next president will be. This thing is over after February 5th.
The WaPo offers a handy map, complete with clickable state delegate counts.
The latest skirmish between the Democratic front-runners, who are apparently determined to immolate each other so thoroughly that it won't matter which one of their charred corpses emerges as the nominee, because his or her fellow Democrats will have already written that candidate's obituary in Primary blood, has me believing that the Democratic Party might just be terminal.
The latest proof that Democrats are more interested in winning primaries than general elections: Barack Obama is now attacking Hillary Clinton, in person and by name, using material gleaned from one Robert David Sanders Novak.
...the same Robert Novak who knowingly outed covert CIA operative Valerie Plame...
It all started when Novak penned a gossip column entry so thin and nebulous that it almost has to have come, not from secret sources within the Clinton campaign, but from Novak's scumbag Republican friends. Get a load of this idiotic piece of gossip:
Agents of Sen. Hillary Clinton are spreading the word in Democratic circles that she has scandalous information about her principal opponent for the party's presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, but has decided not to use it. The nature of the alleged scandal was not disclosed.
Did I mention that Novak, who is in close running with Rudy's pal Pat Robertson for Most Likely to Actually Be The Devil... had the temerity to do his publishing on a Sunday? Oh, irony...
Anyway, the key line in this waste of words is the following: "The nature of the alleged scandal was not disclosed." And the purpose of the blind item would be ...??? Exactly.
The Novak column did contain one piece of wisdom that even the Dems should be able to figure out:
Experienced Democratic political operatives believe Clinton wants to avoid a repetition of 2004, when attacks on each other by presidential candidates Howard Dean and Richard Gephardt were mutually destructive and facilitated John Kerry's nomination.
Indeed, which I suppose is the last, best hope of John Edwards.
This entire "scandal" is pathetic, but it does prove something I've believed for some time, which is that Democrats are good at only three things:
1. Capitulating to Republican presidents 2. Capitulating to Republican members of Congress; and 3. Decimating each other in primaries in order to ensure a Democrat can't win the White House
Enter Barack obama, who incredibly, not only apparently believes what he reads in a freaking Robert Novak column, but who appears more than willing to act on it, John Edwards style, to the detriment of a political rival who ... and this is the important part ... is a member of the same party he is, and who could eventually become the nominee, as could he. Meaning that if he destroys said political rival, the results in the general election will be predictable, and most helpful to the GOP.
Said Obama at a presser responding to the unsourced rumor:
"We don't want anybody to have any doubts that when it comes to these kinds of practices, I won't tolerate it," Obama said, responding to reporters' questions on the controversy. "In the era of the blogosphere…if you don't get on this stuff quick, then it starts drifting around."
“I am prepared to stand up to that kind of politics, whether it's deployed by candidates in our party, in the other party or by any third party,” Obama said. “The cause of change in this country will not be deterred or sidetracked by the old ‘Swift boat’ politics. The cause of moving America forward demands that we defeat it.”
Nice flourish, but one has to wonder whether the appearance of toughness on Obama's part is somewhat misdirected.
If the ongoing Democratic fratricide had some purpose, other than to satiate a media elite that has been virtually demanding internecine war between the Dems in order to satiate their Clinton fetish without actually appearing to slime the Hated Couple THEMSELVES, then I could understand it. But alas, there is no point to it. John Edwards is on a search and destroy mission against those he sees as standing between him and a White House he will never occupy...
Barack is caving to the media demands that he destroy Hillary for them, only to find himself in the position of being the one Democrat who still reads Novak's column (maybe it's a Chicago thing...) and doing the bidding of Clinton jihadists like Chris Matthews.
And after all the dirt has been thrown, what will we be left with besides a series of neatly produced GOP attack ads for the general election, written not by Karl Rove, but by other Democrats.
To quote Bill Cosby, "come on, people!"
To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the 11th Commandment states that "thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Democrat." Recall that of all the nasty things that were said about Reagan, the one that has really stuck: the notion of "voodoo economics," came from one of his own: his future vice president, George Herbert Walker Bush.
I find it stunning that the Dems who are running for president are getting busy attacking one another, while virtually ignoring the big, fat elephants in the room, starting with the president and working your way down through the his sycophant courtiers in Congress, and those crackpot geezers running for the nomination of the GOP. Ya think the Dem first tier guys could find SOMETHING about any of those clowns to attack?
Earth to Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama: one of you will be the Democratic nominee for president. And before you take on the job of "uniting the county" -- an idea that assumes that most Republicans want to unite with you ... you will have to start by uniting your party, and consolidating the support ... and this is the big one ... of your present rivals. If you make it your business to destroy those Democratic rivals, then good luck doing THAT.
Figure out who the enemy is, fellas. Hint: it's not Hillary and Bill Clinton.
That said, there is a reason why candidates fall into the negative campaign trap: it works. At least in primaries. The latest Iowa polling bears that out, showing Barack Obama pulling every so slightly ahead of Hillary (though still within the margin of error. Still, perception is important.)
The new polling doesn't take the Novak nastiness into account, but it does reflect at least three weeks of continual Hillary pounding. Bottom line, the poll does suggest that the negativity against Clinton is working, not for the main peddler of it, John Edwards, but for Barack:
At the heart of the Democratic race has been the dichotomy between strength and experience (qualities emphasized by Clinton, Richardson, and Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut in their appeals) and the ability to introduce a new approach to governing (as Obama and Edwards have promised to do).
Iowa Democrats are tilting toward change, and Obama appears to be benefiting from it.
Fifty-five percent of those surveyed reported that a "new direction and new ideas" are their top priority, compared with 33 percent who favored "strength and experience." That is a shift from July, when 49 percent sought change and 39 percent experience.
Nationally, Clinton is viewed as a candidate of change, with support from 41 percent of Democrats seeking a new direction in a recent Post-ABC poll. But in Iowa, Obama dominates the "change" vote, winning 43 percent of that group, compared with 25 percent for Edwards and 17 percent for Clinton.
Still, Clinton retains a comfortable lead among Iowa voters who consider strength and experience more important, with 38 percent compared with 19 percent for Edwards, 18 percent for Richardson and 12 percent for Obama, according to the new survey.
She appears more vulnerable on questions of character. Thirty-one percent found Obama to be the most honest and trustworthy, about double the percentage who said the same of Clinton. While about three-quarters credited both Obama and Edwards with speaking their minds on issues, only 50 percent said Clinton is willing enough to say what she really thinks. Forty-five percent said she is not sufficiently candid.
Overall, the poll points to some strategic gains for Obama. His support is up eight percentage points since July among voters 45 and older -- who accounted for two-thirds of Iowa caucus-goers in 2004. He also runs evenly with Clinton among women in Iowa, drawing 32 percent to her 31 percent, despite the fact that her campaign has built its effort around attracting female voters.
In the end, the personal attacks may bring down Hillary. Democrats who want to win next November ought to hope that if the attacks continue, that they DO take her down. Otherwise, Mrs. Clinton will limp into the general thoroughly decimated by members of her own party, and possibly fatally so. If she does go down hard, Obama (most likely the beneficiary) will have a hell of a time bringing her supporters into the fold. And he will foreclose the possibility of utilizing the major campaign asset called William Jefferson Clinton. (though clearly, given his message, Obama wouldn't want to have Clinton campaign for him.)
It's a major gamble on the part of Edwards and Obama. A desperate gamble that can only hurt their party's chances in the general.
Tom Kean, former governor of New Jersey, and former chair of the 9/11 Commission -- you know, the commission charged with getting to the bottom of the intelligence failures that allowed the worst terror attack on this country, which happened to take place in the city where Giuliani was mayor, thus becoming the entire raison d'etre for his presidential campaign, and a nice little money maker for the Rudester to boot -- THAT Tom Kean has endorsed for president, the man he believes can best keep this country safe:
Whether Kean's nod will help McCain remains to be seen, but it sure doesn't help Rudy to continue peddling his 9/11 wares, a hawk job so tacky even the New York Post is picking up on it.
Meanwhile, a group of 9/11 families and New York firefighters are saying, "not so fast, Rudy."
A group of 9/11 families and firefighters who oppose Giuliani's candidacy were outraged.
"Giuliani is running on 9/11 and portraying himself as a hero. It's disgusting. It's horrible," FDNY Deputy Fire Chief Jim Riches said.
"This guy will do anything to get elected."
"He's misleading voters and distorting the truth. He didn't prepare the first responders for a terrorist attack. The Office of Emergency Management was a joke that day. There was a lack of communication. People died unnecessarily."
The mailing also says Giuliani "refused to raise taxes after the attacks - refuting calls from Democrats to do so."
The group of 9/11 families and firefighters will be in New Hampshire today to argue that he failed to adequately prepare for a terrorist attack.
The group has also questioned Giuliani's management of the cleanup effort, claiming thousands of Ground Zero workers got sick because they weren't given protective masks.
"I understand the emotions surrounding Sept. 11, but we cannot lose sight of the fact that it was the terrorists who attacked New York City," said firefighter and Giuliani campaign adviser Lee Ielpi, whose son, Jonathan, died on 9/11.
Giuliani has repeatedly challenged accusations that his candidacy is based solely on the attacks, saying during a recent debate, "The reality is that I'm not running on what I did on Sept. 11."
To quote Chris Matthews: "Ha!!"
So, will Rudy's News Corp coziness convince the media to give up its public relations flacking for "America's Mayor?" (a fact very well documented here...) After all, this is a guy running on his supposed "leadership" after the 9/11 attacks, but who spent more time at baseball games than he did at Ground Zero ... (you won't here that on Fox News Channel...) whose only religious endorsement is from a nut-job who spends time predicting the end of "Its a Small World" at Disney World... and whose last remaining Catholic pall is an alleged pedophile priest, and whose top priority after 9/11 was making money, off 9/11 ... an endeavor so important to him he quit the Iraq Study Group in order to pursue it full time.
She improved her performance 100 percent over the last debate. She was extremely effective at backing down the attacks on her, particularly from Edwards, with her line about his "personally attacking her" and "throwing mud." Hillary was prepared (good line: "I'm not playing the gender card here in Las Vegas, I'm trying to play the winning card,") and she capped the night with a nice answer to an audience question about whether she preferred diamonds or pearls: "I want both" said Hillary. Not an important question, but very important in that she continues to humanize and soften herself, while remaining tough and resolute on the issues. Most important, she maneuvered herself into a position in the first 20 minutes where any attacks on her were met with audience boos. Best 20 minutes in a debate for any candidate so far, and Hillary won it hands down. My grade for Hil: A
Not a bad night for my man Barack. He found a good timbre for most of the debate, balancing the professor thing with the candidate thing. He has a problem going forward, though, in that the first 20 minutes not only defanged Edwards, but it also turned his much more gentle digs at Hillary into boo-lines. That complicates things for Barack. And his long, drawn out answer on driver's licenses will take the air out of his attacks on Hillary in that regard. It also highlights HIS very unpopular position on licenses for illegal immigrants -- an issue on which Hillary has since gotten right. (David Gergen is saying that Hil's camp pressed NY Guv Spitzer to drop the plan before the debate.) Barack is still the top second banana. My grade: B
Hands down, his worst night so far. His overheated attacks on Hillary Clinton got the royal smackdown tonight, from Hillary herself, from some zinger questions by the moderators, and by, of all people, Dennis Kucinich and Chris Dodd, who's one-two punches on his switcharoo positions on the Patriot Act, the war, and China, and his "shrillness" -- the Dodd line that will live on for at least a news cycle. He tried to recover at the end by -- and here's a novelty -- going after "Bush, Cheney and the neocons" for a change, but in my opinion, it was too little, too late. Sorry, folks, but Edwards is done. Stick a fork in him. Iowans don't like nasty, and they don't like shrill, and Democrats don't like Democrats who eat their own. My grade: F
Biden is my favorite candidate that I'm not supporting. Seriously, if Hillary and Barack weren't in the race, Biden would be my guy, as he was the first time he ran for president. He's witty, hella-knowledgeable, and thorough in his answers. Biden helped himself tonight. If he doesn't go up in the polls, it's only because people don't believe he can win. And he's learned to be succinct. I will be so as well. My grade: B+
Dodd was actually quite good tonight. His answer on the Supreme Court was in my view the best of the bunch, and he has strong, well thought out positions on Iran and Pakistan. Dodd also nailed the "human rights or national security" question cold. He impressed me with his Espanol (que fluencia!) and he's lost all that weight! My grade: B
Bill Richardson is sooooo out of his depth. His answer that human rights sometimes trumps national security is a classic rookie mistake, falling for a leading, gotcha moderator question. Wolf tagged him on that one. He's not ready for primetime. My grade: D
Besides the fact that he reminds me of a gnome, I thought Kucinich managed to tone down the crazy factor tonight, and he had that great line about being the only one to vote against the Patriot Act, "because I read it." He still has no better chance of being president than I do, but Lil' Dennis did well tonight, for what it's worth. My grade: B
Overall, I think Hillary was the clear winner tonight, with Barack coming in a strong second.
Politico is up with the Obama stumble on ID cards for illegal immigrants. Chris Matthews should enjoy it:
BLITZER: Well, let's go through everybody because I want to be precise. I want to make sure the viewers and those of us who are here fully understand all of your positions on this barring -- avoiding, assuming -- there isn't going to be comprehensive immigration reform.
Do you support or oppose driver's licenses for illegal immigrants?
OBAMA: I am not proposing that that's what we do.
What I'm saying is that we can't...
No, no, no, no. Look, I have already said, I support the notion that we have to deal with public safety and that driver's licenses at the same level can make that happen.
But what I also know...
BLITZER: All right...
OBAMA: But what I also know, Wolf, is that if we keep on getting distracted by this problem, then we are not solving it.
BLITZER: But -- because this is the kind of question that is sort of available for a yes or no answer.
Either you support it or you oppose it.
Not a good look in an otherwise solid performance tonight by Barack. He seems to be doing better at finding a balance between professor and candidate. With the exception of a few rather John Edwards-esque barbs, like "I think I can do it better, that's why I'm running..." He has done well, in my estimation, as have Hillary and a couple of the second-tiers: Biden and Dodd. More oo that later...
BTW Hillary is doing the best so far at portraying a positive candidacy. She seems to have largely defanged John Edwards, as I said before, with considerable help from the moderators, the quite good tonight Campbell Brown, and the testy, impatient Wolf Blitzer.
The candidates were asked what they would look for in a Supreme Court Justice, and whether they would insist that a nominee support abortion rights. On that topic, Politico's Ben Smith, who is liveblogging the debate, just pointed out something interesting about Joe Biden:
For some reason it doesn't get mentioned a lot these days, but Biden was, in large part, the guy who Borked Bork, back when he was running for president in 1988.
"I have taken on those justices," he said, saying the country has had enough ideologues and professors -- Bork is both -- on the bench.
Biden just helped himself with women by saying that the next SupCo Justice should be a woman.
Hillary just praised Biden for his knowledge of the constitution, and called it "one of the great tragedies of our history that George W. Bush didn't understand the way our government is supposed to work."
The Dems are debating in Vegas (on CNN,) and I've gotta tell you, it's the best one yet. As usual, Joe Biden is bringing the funny, but right off the bat, John Edwards is being made to answer for his personal attacks (Hillary nailed him on that one), his mudslinging (Hillary again), and his shrillness (credit Chris Dodd for that zinger.) Plus, John-boy got called out, big time, via a John Roberts question, on his own position switching (and the attendant hipocrisy.) Well deserved, and it appears to have shut him up. ... for now.
Update: About twenty minutes in, and Barack just got tripped up on the same driver's licenses for illegal immigrants question as Hillary did. Interesting. His answer was longer than hers was in the last debate. Edwards just gave a nuanced answer, too, saying he doesn't support the licenses, except for those on this nebulous "path to citizenship" under equally nebulous "comprehensive immigration reform."
So where ARE these guys on the issue?
Edwards: No, unless we have immigration reform
Barack: Yes, followed by long, complicated answer. Duck and cover, Barack, Edwards is in the room...
Hillary: No (firmly this time)
Kucinich: I resent the way you framed the question
Richardson: Yes, and I did it.
Update 2: 47 minutes in ... OK, Bill Richardson just completely flubbed a major question about Pakistan. After Joe Biden laid out a sensible case that we have to condition U.S. military aid on Musharraf ending his dictatorial stance, Richardson was asked by Wolf Blitzer whether at times, human rights trump U.S. national security. He answered "yes." Yes??? And you want to be president of THIS country? Dumb answer, Richardson. It was a gotcha question, and he gotcha.
Chris Dodd just nailed the question, pointing out that when a president takes the oath of office, he promises to do two things: protect and defend the Constitution, and protect the country from all enemies, foreign and domestic. He added that it's ironic that Bush is now asking Turkey not to invade Iraq, and lecturing Musharraf about restoring the Constitution when he's stepping all over our Constitution here at home. Best I've seen Dodd to date.
BTW, Wolf Blitzer is kind of an ass, isn't he? He won't let any of the debaters finish an answer...
Update 3: 1 hour 15 minutes in. It strikes me that tonight's debate might be the nail in John Edwards' coffin. He just got booed for trying once again, even after being completely defanged during the first 15 minutes of the debate, to attack Hillary Clinton. The audience reaction should tell Johnny that his style of politics -- the politics of fellow Democrat destruction -- is done as a strategy. 11th Commandment, beeyatch. No more attacking your fellow Democrats, and doing so for the sole purpose of feeding your own ambition.
BTW, I really, really like Joe Biden. He's the most articulate, direct and knowledgeable guy on the stage. I wish he had more of a realistic path to the nomination, and the White House. Otherwise, this guy needs to be somebody's secretary of state. And he reminds me of Mr. Sims, one of my favorite high school english teachers (along with Ms. Jacoby. But I digress...)
Camp McCain tries to get all Bill O'Reilly on CNN, and raise a little dough in the process. Check out the email McCain campaign manager Rick Davis sent to supporters today (courtesy of The Hill). As you read it, remember, Rick Davis is the campaign BOSS, second only to the candidate himself:
“The CNN Network, affectionately known as the Clinton News Network, has stooped to an all-time low and is gratuitously attacking John McCain for not sufficiently defending Hillary Clinton enough when a South Carolina voter used the 'B' word to describe her when John McCain stopped into a luncheon yesterday at the Trinity restaurant in Hilton Head, S.C. ...
... The liberal media has figured out that John McCain is the only thing that stands between a Hillary Clinton presidency, and they are therefore trying to stop the McCain comeback,” Davis said. “Simply put, CNN is scared that John McCain will beat Hillary Clinton. They are right to be scared.”
Oh where to begin...
First off, Ricky darling, "not sufficiently defending Hillary enough" is redundant. You could have left off either "not sufficiently defending" or "enough" and your statement would have been much more fitting for a man of your station.
Second, the idea that the media is "scared" of John McCain because they fear he "stands in the way of a Hillary Clinton presidency" creates two problems for you. First, you appear to have capitulated to the notion of Hillary's inevitability as president, which should come as a pleasant surprise to her. Second ... um ... the only thing about Senator McCain that scares members of the public AND the media is this:
Rudy Giuliani has responded to the allegation by Judith Regan that News Corp executives told her to lie about issues surrounding Rudy's pal Bernie Kerik, with whom she was having an affair (canoodling in a downtown apartment that was supposed to be used to rest rescue workers working on "the pile" at Ground Zero, no less ... the same rescuers Rudy has dissed by suggesting he was as much in respiratory danger as they were...) to protect Rudy's presidential ambitions.
On MSNBC a few minutes ago, Rudy responded to a reporter's direct question of whether he knew that his boy was having an affair with Judith (hm... wasn't Rudy having an affair with a woman named Judith at the time, or was that after his television-announced divorce from the woman he was cheating on ... namely his wife ... but I digress...) Again, did Rudy know that Bernie was sleeping with Judith #2?
Rudy's answer was less than definitive. He said "um, that sounds like a gossip column kind of story .... I don't know anything about it."
Which means that every New York reporter worth a damn will now be scrambling to find out what Rudy knew about his pal's bedroom antics, and when he knew it.
Hang on ... the New York Times front page is a gossip tome?
Update: BTW, Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice, and author of "The Grand Illusion" an unauthorized biography of Rudy Giuliani, was just on Countdown. He's read the Kerik indictment and confirms that on around page 61, the indictment makes it clear that the "senior executive" who told Judith Regan to lie to spare Rudy and Bernie the rod, was indeed Roger Ailes, Rudy's good friend and lifelong pal.
Barrett also talked about how back when nobody wanted to carry Fox News Channel, then Mayor Rudy strong-armed Time Warner Cable into carrying the channel, on pain of serious problems with the city. Cronyism ... crooked pals ... poor decisionmaking ... and the two Judiths ... yeah, Pat Robertson, you're going straight to hell, papi.
It's been clear for some time to anyone who has been paying attention that the Fox News Channel is carefully migrating its operations from full bore support for any word or policy that emanates from the person of George W. Bush, to equally manic support for Rudy Giuliani, the friend and candidate of Fox chief Roger Ailes (have I mentioned that Ailes golfs with Tim Russert lately...?) Now, apparently, there's proof that the collusion is more than just extra air time with chief fundraiser Sean Hannity. From Bloomberg:
Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Judith Regan, who was fired last year from News Corp.'s HarperCollins unit, sued the companies, claiming to be the victim of a ``deliberate smear campaign'' aimed at protecting presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani.
Regan, former president of HarperCollins' ReganBooks division, seeks at least $100 million in damages in a complaint filed today in state Supreme Court in New York. Regan claims in her complaint that News Corp. tried to destroy her reputation because she has information about former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik that would be harmful to ex-New York Mayor Giuliani and his presidential campaign.
``The smear campaign was necessary to advance News Corp.'s political agenda, which has long centered on protecting Rudy Giuliani's presidential ambitions,'' Regan said in the complaint.
Regan, who published Kerik's autobiography ``The Lost Son,'' was fired from HarperCollins in December 2006 after she backed O.J. Simpson's book, ``If I Did It.'' In the book, Simpson described how he could have killed his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. ...
Regan had a sexual affair with Bernie Kerik around the time he was being offered up, at Rudy's behest, as chief of "Homeland Security" (doesn't that name just make you think "Der Fuhrer...?") Anyhoo, it's the NYTimes' scoop, so let's let them pick it up from there:
In the civil complaint filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Ms. Regan says the company has long sought to promote Mr. Giuliani’s ambitions. But the lawsuit does not elaborate on that charge, identify the executive who she says pressured her to mislead investigators, or offer details to support her claim. ...
... Ms. Regan had an affair with Mr. Kerik, who is married, beginning in the spring of 2001, when her imprint, ReganBooks, began work on his memoir, “The Lost Son.” In December 2004, after the relationship had ended and shortly after Mr. Kerik’s homeland security nomination fell apart, newspapers reported that the two had carried on the affair at an apartment near ground zero that had been donated as a haven for rescue and recovery workers.
Mr. Kerik claimed in 2004 that he had withdrawn his nomination because of problems with the hiring of a nanny. He was indicted last week on federal tax fraud and other charges.
“Defendants were well aware that Regan had a personal relationship with Kerik,” the complaint says. “In fact, a senior executive in the News Corporation organization told Regan that he believed she had information about Kerik that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani’s presidential campaign. This executive advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik.”
One of Ms. Regan’s lawyers, Brian C. Kerr of the firm of Dreier L.L.P., said she had evidence to support her claim that she had been advised to lie to federal investigators who were vetting Mr. Kerik and who might have sought to question her about their romantic involvement. But Mr. Kerr declined to discuss the nature of the evidence.
The lawsuit does not say whether Ms. Regan was, in fact, interviewed as part of the inquiry into Mr. Kerik’s fitness for the federal post, and if she was what she told investigators. ...
I don't know which is more disturbing -- the idea that a senior executive at a purported news outlet would attempt to suborn perjury, or the idea that a purported news outlet has for years been attempting to engineer the presidency of it's top executive's friend. Makes Joe Kennedy seem like an amateur.
Meanwhile, you've got to wonder why the other GOP presidential candidates aren't kicking up a stink about the clearly preferential treatment Rudy is getting from the Republican Network of Record, not to mention going after Rudy for the numerous, creepy scandal points in his dubious resume. Do these guys want to win, or what? To pull a Chris Matthews for a second, where is the fight for the nomination of the Republican Party?
The mainstream media (of which I have been a part for many years) has some bad habits, but among the worst, is a herd mentality that coincides with a tendency to create what you might call an "internal conventional wisdom." To explain, remember after 9/11, when George W. Bush became "an enormously popular president?" You couldn't listen to a newscast about the POTUS without hearing that phrase -- it was literally written into the anchors scripts, and into nearly every newspaper article. That narrative by the members of the elite media persisted, for years, even as Bush's poll numbers began to come down. It persisted even after he dipped below 50% approval ratings in most polls. I can still hear Chris Matthews braying about how much the American people "like this guy," even when they stopped liking the war, the economy, his cabinet, his vice president and his policies.
The trouble was, the polling didn't support the narrative. It doesn't have to. The Washington reporting set are a tight clique who reinforce each other, and the narrative, at all costs. It's why you hear the phrase "you're absolutely right" so much on your favorite news chat shows.
Okay, fast forward to today. I was watching MSNBC this morning as Chuck Todd was chatting with one of MSNBC's morning spokesmodels about the latest presidential polling. The poll of the day, as it should be on MSNBC, is the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that shows Hillary Clinton with a 22-point lead over Barack Obama on the Dem side (nasty old John Edwards has dropped 5 points to 11 percent on the strength of his desperation attacks on the front-runner...) and Rudy Giuliani ticking up 3 points to a 33-16 lead over surprise second place finisher John McCain, with sleepy Fred Thompson cratering from 23 points in September to 15 now. The Mittster is down to 11 points.
And now for the narrative. The poll also shows that a generic Democrat leads a generic Republican in the head-to-head match-up by a whopping 50 percent to 35 percent, while a Hillary-Rudy race is a dead heat (she leads by a single percentage point.) MSNBC writes it up thusly:
Yet given those advantages, Clinton — as well as the other top Democrats in the race — finds herself in a dead heat in a general election match-up against Rudy Giuliani, who leads the GOP presidential field in the poll.
Sounds OK so far. The writer acknowledges that Hillary is just one of the Dems who hold a slim lead over the potential GOP nominee, Giuliani. It's all Hillary -- and all downhill -- from there:
“Her primary numbers are certainly strong, and that is where the game is being played [right now],” says Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. But in a general election, Hart adds, Clinton “obviously has a lot of troubles and challenges ahead.”
“She has a lot to do to win the presidency.” ...
Okay, so Hillary has a lot to do to win the general? Let's compare how her rivals do against the same challenger, Rudy, and against the other GOPers. From PollingReport.com:
Hillary - 46 Rudy - 45
Barack - 44 Rudy - 42
Hang on ... the media's argument is that Barack is sooooo much more likable, lovable, and by inference, has less headwind against a Rudy candidacy than Hil, right? MSNBC sez:
One of the reasons, it seems, why Clinton commands this lead over Obama is the perception of experience. Seventy-six percent of Democrats surveyed in the poll give Clinton high marks for being knowledgeable and experienced enough to handle the presidency. By comparison, just 41 percent of Democrats say the same about Obama.
Similarly, 63 percent give Clinton high marks for her ability to be a good commander-in-chief. That’s compared with 43 percent who give Obama high marks on this question.
On the flip side, however, Obama is seen as more likeable than Clinton (72 percent of Democrats give him high marks here versus 49 percent for Clinton), as well as more honest and straightforward (65 percent versus 53 percent).
And yet, Barack statistically does no better against Giuliani than Hillary does... could it be that a generic Democrat beats a generic Republican, but ANY specific Dem varies the outcome depending on which Republican they face? Hm. More numbers:
Hillary blows out Mitt Romney, 50-39 She tanks Fred Thompson 51-37 She edges John McCain 47-43 (also within the margin of error, meaning McCain is just a strong a candidate as Rudy is...)
But wait ...
Barack also beats up on the Mittster, 48-36 And John Edwards does just as well against Rudy as the others, 45-44 In fact, the only Democrat Rudy can beat is one who isn't running, and he only beats Al Gore by one point, 47-46
What is clear in the poll is that Americans are disgruntled, unsatisfied with the way things are going (67 percent say the country is on the wrong track and 57 percent say the country is in a "state of decline) and they're not happy with either the president or the Congress. They want change, but they're not sure what kind of change that should be.
If they were sure, neither Rudy nor Hillary would be front runners.
Why do I say that? Because Hillary essentially represents a return to the good old economic times and international support of the 1990s ... and Rudy represents no change at all, particularly on foreign policy, domestic spying, the war in Iraq, a war in Iran, torture, etc., etc. ... even on the domestic side, Rudy agrees with VIRTUALLY EVERY POSITION HELD BY GEORGE W. BUSH. If voters are telling pollsters the truth about wanting change, then why are either of these candidates in the lead?
And speaking of Rudy, his "lead" is rather meager, in that it has yet -- in any poll -- to get out of the 30s. That isn't what you call solid support.
At the end of the day, all that you can say about the mood of the electorate is that it's bad. The American people say they want change, but history suggests that what most Americans prefer is "change with safety" -- predictable, marginal change, rather than major, radical change -- EVEN ON IRAQ (otherwise, the frontrunners should be Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul.)
My read: Hillary and Rudy are out front because for Democrats, Hillary represents a "change back" to the time when things were good in the country and for the Democratic Party. For Republicans, who operate from a "fear base," if you will, Rudy probably represents change in terms of competency (hell, he ran big old New York ... that's hard, right??? ... but the status quo in terms of America's radical war footing against "the terrorists." That, and he's not Hillary Clinton -- something that only matters to the GOP base, which has been fed a steady diet of Hillary as boogeyman melodrama, by the party, and by the press.
Pat Robertson loves politics more than he loves The Lord... (I mean, how many divorces does a guy get a pass on just because he's leading in the GOP polls, anyway? And if God was going to strike Florida with a tsunami over Gay Days at Disneyworld, won't the fact that Rudy was roommates with a couple of gay dudes bring on the Armageddon? ... oh ... that's what Pat wants to happen... ooohhhh......)
Pat Robertson hates Muslims more than he loves the Lord ... The only sane (and I use that world loosely, given who we're talking about here) explanation for Robertson's break from his evangelical brethren to support the pro-abortion, pro-gay rights former mayor of Sodom and Gamorrah is that he believes that if elected president, Rudy will continue, or even escalate, George W. Bush's war on the Islamic foes of Israel -- a place Pat wants to conquer for Christendom and build a theme park ... where he can ride the Til-o-Whirl and await the Armageddon. Oh, there we go with that Armageddon thing again... The two weirdos apparently got to know each other on a flight back from Israel, a place they both cleve to like Likudniks on steroids. And in his endorsement speech, Robertson left little doubt which he cared about more, between loving the unborn and hating the Ay-rabs: "To me, the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population from the bloodlust of Islamic terrorists..." lest they try to blow up Disneyworld AFTER gay days...
Pat Robertson is insane ... goes without saying.
This of course, does beg the question, which even Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is asking, of whether Rudy now believes, as Robertson does, that America had 9/11 coming because of the gays and the abortionists, and ... well ... everybody Rudy supports ... OR ... has Pat Robertson flip-flopped, Rudy style, on issues like gay rights, abortion, cousin marrying, philandering, divorce and all the other stuff Rudy can't get communion in his own church because of ... OR ... does Rudy's new anointing mean he'll never wear that dress again...
The world waits.
Update: The reviews are in! The religious right, and other parts of the GOP hothouse, are officially flummoxed by the Pat Robertson-Rudy Giuliani axis of weird...
Gary Bauer (himself the Earl of Odd) says it's all about Hillzilla:
“I did have some sense it was going to happen, so I wasn’t completely surprised,” Bauer said. “Those leaders who are endorsing are going through the same thought process that a lot of conservatives around the country are wrestling with, which is that whatever one thinks about the field, it’s clear to everybody that a Hillary Clinton presidency with Democratic control of the House and Senate would be a disaster no matter what kind of conservative you are.”
The Huffpo's Michael Roston made the rounds of other evangelical operatives of the GOP:
A spokeswoman at the Christian Coalition said that Robertson had made the endorsement "in his personal capacity" and so the group wasn't commenting. A spokesman at Focus On The Family similarly told us, "Anything about Pat Robertson we're not talking about." The group's leader, Rev. James Dobson, had warned last month that Christian groups might pick a third party candidate to represent social conservatives if Giuliani was nominated to head the Republican ticket.
Similarly, OneNewsNow, a news website linked to the Christian Coalition of America, published an article headlined "Pro-Family leaders mum on Robertson's endorsement of Rudy." It noted, "OneNewsNow contacted several pro-family leaders to get their reaction to the Robertson endorsement. Some did not return calls, while others said they did not want to comment."
Still, OneNewsNow's Jim Brown was able to find "a close personal friend of Robertson" who "believes the endorsement is "tragic," and that if Giuliani wins the nomination, it "will destroy the Republican Party." So you have to imagine they'll be speaking out in some way soon.
Meanwhile, John McCain, who himself picked up an endorsement from Sam Brownback today and who probably was referring to Robertson when he talked about the looney toons on the right back when he was a maverick in 2000, declared himself "speechless" regarding the endorsement.
"I thought it was important for me to make it clear that Rudy Giuliani is more than acceptable to people of faith," said Robertson. "Given the fractured nature of the process, I thought it was time to solidify around one candidate."
Okay not that part, THIS part:
[Robertson] insisted that while some on the "fringe" of the social conservative movement may see Giuliani as an unacceptable nominee, the "core know better."
How can you tell who's on the fringe when you're insane...?
Two days later, Chris Matthews is still spitting up about Hillary's supposed candidacy-killing mistake on driver's licenses for illegal immigrants in New York. Well ... tonight, Elliot Spitzer dismantled the Mattster on "Hardball," backing his defense of HIS -- not Hillary's, as Matthews said last night -- plan with endorsements from former terrorism czar Richard Clarke, members of the Bush cabinet, and the 9/11 Commission. Matthews was left all a-stutter.
Meanwhile, Matthews continued to try and press forward with his Clinton jihad, actually penning one of his new-fangled "advice columns" for Democratic candidates -- this one for Hillary herself! Matthew's suggestion: tell voters to ignore the fact that she's a woman, and that the attacks on her by other candidates are a good thing -- proves she's winning! In other words, Chris looks to justify his own call for more attacks on Hillary by suggesting that she wants it ... she really wants it ...
The debate spiraled toward a rather messy conclusion, with John Edwards (and Barack Obama playing Tubbs to John's Crocket) giving Hillary Clinton a colonic on the issue of drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. I think by then I was too tired to care, but Chris Matthews and company are gleefully dissecting that final moment for its potential to take Hillary down. They're already writing the GOP talking points. Finally, something Chris can get excited about.
What's sad, is that whatever happened tonight, the media already was poised to write a headline about Hillary being hit on character and "doubletalk." Now, they'll have this final bit to feed on for a news cycle.
Chris is in hog heaven.
Oh, and Dennis Kucinich says yep, he did see a UFO.
Clinton, rivals spar as Democrats debate By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated
PHILADELPHIA - Democrats Barack Obama and John Edwards sharply challenged Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's candor, consistency and judgment Tuesday in a televised debate that underscored her front-runner status two months before the first presidential primary votes.
Obama, the Illinois senator, began immediately, saying Clinton has changed her positions on the North American Free Trade Agreement, torture policies and the Iraq war. Leadership, he said, does not mean "changing positions whenever it's politically convenient."
Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, was even sharper at times, saying Clinton "defends a broken system that's corrupt in Washington, D.C." He stood by his earlier claim that she has engaged in "doubletalk."
Clinton, standing between the two men, largely shrugged off the remarks and defended her positions. She has been the focus of Republican candidates' "conversations and consternation," she said, because she is leading in the polls.
So much for being competitive in New York... Rudy's gambit, of course, is to pander to BoSox fans in nearby New Hampshire, ahead of a certain primary election. But any true Yankee fan (and I am one, baby) knows that the Red Sox are the Evil Empire, the uber enemy, and you cannot be with them, and also with the Yanks.
...unless of course you're a shape-shifting, gone with the wind, spineless pol, like Rudy... expect him to be dressing in drag again soon, too.
The other Man from Hope says his fellow GOP presidential candidates might need a Prozac ... or an ambulance:
LITTLE ROCK (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee joked Tuesday that other candidates might be considering suicide because their level of support doesn't match their fundraising. The former Arkansas governor, exaggerating, said other GOP presidential hopefuls were raising $100 for every nickel he had raised. "If I were some of these guys, I'd have to be sitting in a warm tub of water with razor blades," Huckabee said on MSNBC-TV.
The ratio is closer to $10 for every $1 raised by Huckabee.
A poll released Sunday by The Des Moines Register showed Huckabee and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani fighting for third place in Iowa, behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson. Romney and Giuliani lead GOP candidates in fundraising.
All jokes aside, watching Mike Huckabee tonight, I have to say that he is perhaps the most dangerous of the Republican candidate. Even though I disagree with his views, his folksly delivery, affable demeanor, and incredibly un-scary delivery makes him someone American voters could get comfortable with. He's not bug-eyed crazy like Rudy, or used care salesman-y like the Mittster. And he's not an all-out nut like Tancredo ... hell, why am I mentioning him? Other than Ron Paul, who is the only one of these vanilla beans whose policy positions I actually find coherent, I'm now starting to think that Huckabee is the best that the GOP has got. Oh, and he doesn't put me to sleep, like Fred Thomps...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....
Rudy Giuliani is slowly, but surely, beginning to show himself. From the Guardian UK:
LONDON (AP) - Rudy Giuliani was on the trans-Atlantic campaign trail Wednesday, schmoozing with conservative idol Margaret Thatcher and bragging about his international credentials.
``I'm probably one of the four or five best known Americans in the world,'' Giuliani told a small group of reporters at a posh London hotel as onlookers gathered in the lobby to gawk at actor Dustin Hoffman, who was on a separate visit.
The former New York mayor is the latest GOP presidential candidate to travel to Britain, meeting the country's new political guard and rubbing elbows with Thatcher, an icon for American conservatives.
He also was asked to deliver a special lecture at the Atlantic Bridge, a group that promotes ties between British and American conservatives.
Giuliani told reporters he has made 91 trips to 35 countries in five years and many governments seek him out for advice on security. He was given an honorary knighthood in 2002 by Queen Elizabeth II for his leadership after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
But who are the four other best-known Americans?
``Bill Clinton ... Hilary,'' he said, but he was whisked away for another engagement before he could throw out any other names. ...
What a shit. Why would anyone want this 9/11 pimping nut-ball for a president? Republican Rudy supporters, please take your temperature and "just say no."
Closer to home, the Liberty City Seven trial is under way, with jury selection having started yesterday. We spoke with the attorney for one of the men on the show this morning, and I'll be watching this one. In my opinion, this is as clear cut a case of government railroading in order to prove that there really is a war on terror (requiring us all to be surveilled) as I've ever seen.
What's hot on the blogs? Taser Guy (of course, it all happened in FLORIDA!) He's out of jail now, but some people -- myself included -- are asking: why the hell didn't John Kerry stop talking and do something??? Meanwhile, the wingers, including Drudge and Breitbart, are on the war path against Andrew Meyer. The hot phrase of the day: "Don't tase me bro!"
Today's theme: three things that start with the letter "O" ...
Thing 1 that starts with "O": Osama bin Laden! Supposedly, he's back, and advertising a new video release, timed to coincide with the sixth anniversary of 9/11. Yeah, right. Like he hasn't been dead for like, 12 years... So I wonder how long it will take for that video to wind up in a Rudy Giuliani commercial? ... or a Bush administration secret briefing to select members of Congress on a brand new warrentless surveillance program? And which way will the media go on the story: "Bin Laden still free after six years" ... or ... "Terror threat still acute! Vote Republican!"
Thing 2 that starts with "O": Osama bin Laden! ... but not the real one. This time it's an Australian comedian dressed like bin Laden who managed to get past President Bush's crack security team during Bush's visit to an economic summit in Australia. So let me get this straight: we're facing a dire ongoing threat of terrorism from al-Qaida, which is led by Osama bin Laden, but the threat hasn't prompted the POTUS' security team to protect him from Osama ... in a motorcade? Well that's interesting.
Thing #3 that starts with "O": Oprah! ... and another: "Obama!" (hey, that's FOUR things that start with "O"...) Apparently, the queen of all media, is taking her endorsement of Barack Obama a step further. Maybe, two steps. First she's throwing a major fundraiser for him -- star studded and priced at $2,300 a ticket. And second, she may actually be taking a larger role in his campaign. CNN has it this way:
It remains to be seen if the popular talk show host's role may go beyond raising money from her Hollywood friends, but the prospect of seeing Winfrey in campaign commercials or on the stump is already causing widespread speculation on the effect she may have. Watch how Winfrey could boost Obama
"I think what Oprah can do is potentially bring out the congregants of the church of Oprah," Marty Kaplan, a communications professor at the University of Southern California, tells CNN. "She is a charismatic leader of a lay congregation."
"People buy books when she tells them to. They will watch her shows, and buy her magazines when she asks them to," Kaplan added. "So the question is, are enough of them willing to follow her lead not with a consumer good, but with a ballot cast?"
Moreover, Kaplan says, Winfrey's core audience is women, and her endorsement could help Obama compete with his chief presidential rival, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, for women's votes.
"One of his campaign officials in California told me Oprah is everything," Kaplan added. "So they have high hopes for the endorsement."
Obama and Winfrey's close relationship may also increase the chance she will be willing to take a visible role in the campaign.
"They met way back here in Chicago in the African-American social circuit back in, I believe, either the late 1990s or around 2000 when he was running for Congress," David Mendell, an Obama biographer tells CNN.
Could this be a threat to Hillary? Time will tell.
Looks like the Republican National Committee will follow the DNC's lead, by punishing states that choose to push up their primaries in defiance of the Iowa-New Hampshire hegemony, and that could put a crimp into the plans of one Rudolph "I married my cousin" Giuliani.
The Giuliani campaign has reportedly set up a "firewall" in the state of Florida, according to campaign materials obtained by Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post and discussed on his blog, The Fix. Says said Fix:
Florida is the "firewall" in former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid, according to a Powerpoint presentation made to volunteers of his campaign in the Sunshine State and obtained by The Fix.
"Florida is the firewall" proclaims the second slide of the presentation which, by in large, is aimed at outlining the goals of Giuliani's effort in the state -- which is slated to hold a primary on Jan. 29. The slide goes on to highlight two press reports: the first, from the Associated Press, notes that Giuliani has "adopted an unorthodox campaign itinerary....lavishing attention on Florida."; the second, from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, points out that "Giuliani's strategy is to win delegate rich Florida to catapult him." The next slide notes that Giuliani's average lead in national polling is seven points but his average lead in Florida is 14 points.
Tony Carbonetti, a senior adviser to the campaign, dismissed the idea that Giuliani viewed Florida as a make or break moment for his bid. "Florida's the firewall, New Jersey's the firewall, Connecticut's the firewall, New York's the firewall," said Carbonetti. He added that the document was put together by state staff, not national staff, in order to "motivate our volunteers."
Although Giuliani's campaign has made clear that the states set to vote on Feb. 5, 2008, which include New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California and Illinois, are likely to strongly favor their candidate, they insist that the former Mayor is also running hard in traditional early voting states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Nonetheless, the slide show does suggest that the Giuliani campaign believes Florida will play a central role in determining the identity of the Republican nominee.
And, while most of the rest of the document is rah-rah sort of stuff, there are some glimpses into Giuliani's broader Florida strategy in the document.
In a slide entitled "Opportunities to get involved", a list of "key coalitions" is provided that includes: "former Yankees" (we assume that means ex-northerners, not the actual Pinstripers), first responders, volunteer firefighters and, The Fix's personal favorite, Italian Americans.
On a slide titled "Our Plan for Victory" there are handwritten notes that read "go after congressional districts" and "Miami -- key city". As we noted in a story for washingtonpost.com's "Fast Track Campaign" series, Florida is one of several large states that splits its delegate apportionment between the winners of each congressional district and the winner of the statewide vote. Win the entire state of Florida and you get 39 total delegates. But, 75 delegates are up for grabs in the congressional districts -- three for each of the 25 seats. ...
The Republican National Committee plans to penalize at least four states holding early primaries, including New Hampshire and Florida, by refusing to seat at least half their delegates at the party’s national convention in 2008, a party official said Tuesday.
Much of the focus in the primary scheduling fight up to now has been on the Democratic National Committee’s moves to penalize Florida by not seating its convention delegates because of the state’s decision to move up its primary. But the Republican rules are even more stringent, and the national party said today that it would not hesitate enforcing them.
The actions by Republicans and Democrats to move against states holding early contests is a rare instance of the two parties moving in concert, in this case to regain control over a rapidly evolving primary calendar that has thrust the nominating system into deep uncertainty just months before it is to begin.
“The rules are clear,” said Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. “Any state that holds their primary outside of the window shall be penalized delegates.”
In addition to Florida and New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina also face sanctions for moving their contests before Feb. 5. Two other early nominating states, Iowa and Nevada, will escape Republican sanctions because they hold nonbinding caucuses, not primaries.
Republican Party officials in both Florida and Michigan said yesterday they still believed it unlikely that they will face penalties — despite being told exactly the opposite by national party officials — and are crafting a plan to make their voice heard during the convention.
“I am confident that all 114 delegates from Florida will be seated,” said Jim Greer, the chairman of the Florida Republican Party.
Mr. Greer argued that Florida technically does not select its delegates on the date of the primary, but rather, the leaders in each of its 25 Congressional districts choose delegates starting Feb. 6, so it is not breaking the rules.
“I am confident that the Republican National Committee or any eventual nominee will not allow the voices of Florida voters not to be heard,” he said. “Florida is too important a state as it relates electing to the next president.”
Banning half a state’s delegation would be an extraordinary move. While state party officials have played down the impact, noting that presidential candidates are often selected before the convention, there is the chance that the parties could have brokered conventions in which each delegate’s vote would be prized. ...
Mitt Romney buys himself an Iowa straw poll! The Mittster took a resounding 32% of the vote, at a bargain price of around $3,000,000 (divided by the 4,505 or so folks who voted for him works out to ... ah! About $666 per voter! ...COINCIDENCE...!!!??? ) Ahem... Mike Huckabee finished second with 18%, followed by Sam Brownback of Kansas. Rudy didn't bother to compete, and I think "Baghdad John" got, like, some old lady from Deluth to show up for him... Interestingly enough, Ron Paul finished fifth, which for him, is pretty freaking fabulous. Of course, Romney's win in a contest in which only around 14,000 people voted, does give rise to certain, less than exuberant headlines. Here's one from the AP:
(CNN) – At a campaign stop in Bettendorf, Iowa Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was asked whether any of his sons were enlisted in the military and what they were doing to “support the war on terror.”
“The good news is, we have a volunteer army, and we’re going to keep it that way,” the former Massachusetts governor responded. “My sons are all adults…. They’ve made their decisions about their careers and chosen not to serve in the military and I respect that decision.”
The question came from a reputed war protestor while Romney was discussing Iraq. The presidential hopeful continued his answer by calling for a “surge of support” for those enlisted and their families.
Can't you jusr hear the patriotic marching band? I think it's playing the old timey tune, "Summer of the Blue Blood Chickenhawks." Watch Romney take it to the streets here.
Quinnipiac is out with three new swing state polls that offer still more good news for "your girl," Hillary Clinton. She's leading the front-runner among the GOP Geriatric Drill Team, Rudolph "The Inbreeder" Giuliani in three key states:
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton has inched ahead of her top Republican foe, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in Florida and Pennsylvania, and ties Giuliani in Ohio, her best showing so far in the three states as many voters re-evaluate their previous negative impression of her, according to Quinnipiac University's Swing State Poll, three simultaneous surveys of voters in states that have been pivotal in presidential elections since 1964.
Sen. Clinton has increased her substantial Democratic primary lead over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama to 25 points in Ohio, 16 points in Pennsylvania and 30 points in Florida, the first big state to hold a primary, scheduled for January 29, 2008, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Giuliani is treading water in the Republican primary, holding leads over Arizona Sen. John McCain or former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson of seven points in Florida, 18 points in Ohio and 13 points in Pennsylvania.
Head to head matchups show:
Florida - Clinton tops Giuliani 46 - 44 percent, flipping a 46 - 44 percent Giuliani lead July 23; Ohio - Clinton ties Giuliani 43 - 43 percent, compared to a 44 - 42 percent Clinton lead July 12; Pennsylvania - Clinton edges Giuliani 45 - 44 percent, compared to a 45 - 45 percent tie June 27.
Another important factor for Hillary is that her negatives are declining, particularly among independent voters, as many are apparently taking a second look at her, proving again that as I've said frequently on this blog, Hil has won every single one of the debates, and come out of the snipe fights with Barack as the heavyweight, because she's proved her toughness and foreign policy credentials, even when taking positions unpopular with the viewing or attending audience on debate night. It sounds middling, But Hil raising her favorables to 50 percent in this poll is significant for her.
On the GOP side, Q-pac finds that:
"Mayor Giuliani's lead remains solid among Republicans. Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson's surge in the polls has stalled, perhaps because he has yet to announce. Meanwhile, Arizona Sen. John McCain, whose numbers have been going down in most recent polls, is showing new signs of life in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney remains largely unknown."
And that despite all the cash Romney is spending on ads in key states, including here in Florida.
The poll isn't all good news for the front running Dem:
On the eve of the first debate for the Democratic candidates before homosexual rights activists, the poll shows backing from gay rights groups has no effect on most voters. But among the roughly 40 percent who say it might have an impact on their decision, support of a gay rights group, depending on the state, turns off from two to almost four times as many voters as it attracts. On a net basis it makes more independents less likely to vote for such a candidate.
Endorsements from business groups and abortion rights groups also make voters less likely than more likely to back a candidate. The backing of labor groups is a big plus for candidates.
In other words, Thompson, at least pre-announcement, is a bit of a slow barge. Giuliani I think has peaked. Let's see if he can restart his cousin-marrying, wife dumping, fascistic, illegal immigrant haven, switch-hitting, flip flopish, sadistic engine. Ahem...
The Democratic debate tonight on MSNBC, sponsored by the AFL-CIO, is a wrap. It was by far the most contentious, combative debate so far, and the leading candidates ripped into each other in a way that was almost uncomfortable to watch. Barack took incoming fire from Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden on his comments about invading Pakistan. Hillary took flak from Edwards about being on the cover of Forbes Magazine as the candidate that corporate America is betting on, but she gave it right back, declaring herself the candidate who can win, and who has a history of taking on the wingers. In a nutshell, here's my quick assessment, in order of how well I think they did:
Hillary Clinton - I think she won it again, even though she lost the battle for the crowd with Barack, who had home field advantage. Hillary came off as strong, and as the one on the receiving end, rather than the battering end, of Dem on Dem attacks. Hil needs to watch her upper register when she gets loud to shout over the crowd, but overall, this tiny lady again distinguished herself as the most succinct, the most savvy, the most competent, and the most prepared to be president on the day she enters office.
Joe Biden - Another strong performance. This guy has knowledge to spare, particularly on matters of foreign policy. He did well tonight, even infusing some humor into the debate, i.e., his one word answer to the question of whether he would end no-bid contracts ("Yes.") ... and when he showed a softer side by sympathizing with a woman who lost her husband in the Sago mine, by referring to his own loss of a spouse. This guy would make a hell of a secretary of state.
Barack Obama - I thought he came off as strident, almost to the point of nasty tonight, and far too prone to Democratic fratricide in his quest to topple Hillary Clinton. His constant slaps at Hillary, Dodd and other "Washington insiders" who voted for the war is what he has to do (though they might remind him that since taking office, he has repeatedly voted for the funding of the war,) and he had the hometown crowd in the palm of his hand. But at the end of the day, Chris Dodd was right when he said that Barack was in the wrong for telegraphing his Pakistan policy to the world. Hillary is right on substance, but Barack won the crowd. At the end of the day, when the glow wears off, Hillary will be seen as the more presidential on foreign policy.
Chris Dodd - He's a bit dull, but was good on substance tonight. He still has an image problem, and no shot at being president, but he did well. One caveat: he was one of the worst at not directly answering the questions.
Bill Richardson - Richardson is as dull as dishwater, and he failed to distinguish himself in any way tonight. This guy's timer should have long since run out, but he's still in play, frankly, because Democrats still believe they may have to play the Latino card to win out West.
John Edwards - Edwards probably had the worst performance of the night. He is coming off as increasingly desperate in these contests, flailing out at Hillary's corporate ties (despite being a rich trial lawyer himself), trying to sting his opponents on the war, as if he never voted for it, and pushing his one liner about not taking lobbyist money even when the question was about healthcare. Not a good show, John.
Dennis Kucinich - This guy is a Socialist, pure and simple. He wants to put us all on Medicare, which is insane, he wants to turn the White House into the "workers White House," which sounds suspiciously like "Socialist paradise," and he claims he'd cancel NAFTA and the WTO agreement immediately upon entering office. He sure is animated, though, and I'd have rated him higher than Edwards had he not sounded so insane.
At the end of the day, Barack will probably win the Internet polls, but Hillary will be ahead by another 2 points by week's end.
Much to the chagrin of people like John Edwards (and Newt Gingrich, from the sound of his increasingly histrionic tone) there really are only three people in the race for president: Hillary Clinton, who now holds a commanding 22 point lead over her nearest Democratic contender for the nomination, according the the latest USAT/Gallup poll; the aforementioned nearest competitor, Barack Obama, and Rudy Giuliani, the nightmare candidate from the left-right, who would have us mow down every Arab and Muslim from here to Timbuktu were he to ever darken the door of the White House.
The latest news on the triad:
Hillary and Barack enter a Cold War phase -- I'd guess Hillary was pissed when he screwed around with her inevitability by running.
Still, many are predicting that eventually, they'll have to unite under one banner, given his hugh fundraising and continued popularity -- oddly formed plans to bomb the bejeezus out of Pakistan, notwithstanding...
Rudy predicts as much, too, even as the smart observers predict that he would make an absolutely awful president, and a dangerous one too, given that he fuels his neoconservatism with ignorant bluster and constant threats of terrorism and war. Not what the thinking American voter is looking for, but unfortunately, there still are some cowardly Americans out there who cleave to Rudy's brand of scare 'em from the rafters phony conservatism.
Meanwhile, out there in the hinterlands, John Edwards has gone from sniping at his betters for fighting each other, to sniping at Bill Clinton -- not so smart, J.E., I mean you do want to win the Democratic nomination, right...?
Dennis Kucinich has gone straight up Socialist -- still whinging for "not-for-profit" healthcare -- read Medicare for all, and a "Department of Peace." What is this guy smoking, anyway? Survey says: his camp thinks he's winning this thing...
I'd go on, but as I said at the start, there really are only three people in this thing. Four if you count the current iteration of Mitt Romney (or more to the point, Mitt Romney's money...) or the ghost of Fred Thompson...
During this week's CNN/Youtube debate, the candidates were asked whether they'd commit to meeting with America's foes, including such leaders as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Kim Jong Il of North Korea and Fidel Castro of Cuba. Obama said absolutely yes -- we have to change the paradigm that has isolated this country over the past seven years ... Clinton said she wouldn't make such a commitment in her first year, but would use potential meetings as a bargaining chip in her larger bag of aggressive diplomacy. Natch.
What escalated the drama:
After the debate, Hillary gave a newspaper an interview to the Quad City Times of crucial Iowa, n which she called Obama's position "naive." In a separate interview with the paper, Barack shot back that what was naive, was "giving George W. Bush authorization to invade Iraq without a plan to get out." Ouch! After that, Obama laid it on even thicker, telling supporters at a campaign rally that what we don't need in the White House is "Bush lite." Double ouch!
Where it stands now:
Hillary is attacking Barack for attacking her, saying "what ever happened to the politics of hope?" She appears to now want to simmer down the fight she started, lest it boost Barack's profile even more. Barack's camp seems to be enjoying the fight, which raises his stature and most certainly increasing the devotion of his supporters. I think Hillary wins the argument on substance, and she looks more experienced and presidential than Barack based on her answer, but he probably made himself look highly desirable by the world (though as Chris Matthews said yesterday, we don't have a "world election.")
Where it will end:
Both camps will likely let it die a natural death, the better to preserve their potential coming together as running-mates.
In the meantime, it's kind of nice to see the Dems mix it up for a change.
WASHINGTON -- Sen. John McCain's media team has resigned, an indication that a campaign shake-up two weeks ago is continuing to backfire and further imperil the Arizona Republican's presidential candidacy.
Political ad-makers Russ Schriefer and Stuart Stevens, veterans of President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, on Monday emailed the new campaign manager -- lobbyist and longtime McCain adviser Rick Davis -- to say that they were quitting. The two men told friends they had considered leaving for days, as they hadn't been paid and the campaign's financial straits raised questions of when and how much they would be.
Their resignations followed a story in The Wall Street Journal Monday about Mr. Davis's business and lobbying activities. Current and former McCain campaign advisers say those activities -- which involved a business he started and another launched by an acquaintance of his -- amounted to profiteering at the campaign's expense and risked embarrassing the senator.
Since Mr. McCain accepted the resignations of former campaign manager Terry Nelson and chief strategist John Weaver two weeks ago, and put Mr. Davis in charge, more than a dozen senior staffers have left from the headquarters in northern Virginia as well as state offices in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina -- all states with early nominating contests. Several fund-raisers have cut their ties to the campaign, which reported a debt at the end of the second quarter.
Now the loss of the Schriefer-Stevens media team is considered a new blow, Republican strategists say. The McCain campaign had long planned to begin running ads this fall in early contest states; those plans are at risk given Mr. McCain's debt, compounded now by the difficulty of getting donors to invest in a troubled campaign. ...
It's stunning how fast this man is falling. It's hard to believe he ever was the front runner...
CNN did a nice job with the Youtube debate last night. No major news, nothing to really shake up the race. I still think Joe Biden is freaking hilarious, John Edwards looks rather desperate (and there was something strange going on with his hair ... kind of an airplane hangar effect in the front...) Bill Richardson looks like a bullfrog, Dennis Kucinich fades into the background and Mike Gravel is nuts ... with moments of lucid truthtelling, if in a bug-eyed crazy kind of way. Hillary and Barack did well and they remain the leaders.
The Pentagon's Eric Edelman, one of those notorious neoocn undersecretaries, tossed Hillary a big, juicy softball with his ridiculous "aiding the enemy" letter in response to her letter, via the Senate Arms Services Committee, on which she serves to oversee the Pentagon ... duh ... and in which she asked for any Pentagon plans for an orderly eventual withdrawal from Iraq. Here's the background, in case you missed it:
On May 23, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates urging him to “prepare plans for the phased redeployment of U.S. forces.”
Given the express will of the Congress to implement a phased eplroyment of United States forces from Iraq and the importance of proper contingency planning to achieve that goal, I write to request that you provide the appropriate oversight committees in Congress - including the Senate Armed Services Committee - with briefings on what current contingency plans exist for the future withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Alternatively, if no such plans exist, please provide an explanation for the decision not to engage in such planning.
Clinton said she conveyed similar concerns in a private meeting with Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Peter Pace, and has publicly warned the administration that redeployment is “complicated” and “If they’re not planning for it, it will be difficult to execute it in a safe and efficacious way.”
Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia. … [S]uch talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks.
Tough talk, and I'm sure Mr. Edelman thought that as in the past, such talk would shut down any talk about withdrawal, timetables, or opposition to the president's policy in Iraq. But this is not 2004, and Hillary Clinton is not John Kerry. In fact, as The Politico's Ben Smith points out, Edelman's broadside was probably the best thing to happen to Hillary all week:
Defense Undersecretary Eric Edelman, a former Cheney aide, really handed Hillary an enormous gift with his letter warning that "premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda."
That may have worked in 2004. Now it's just a gift to Hillary. Her staff would not, of course, say whether they knew how the AP had "obtained" Edelman's letter. But it was an incredible gift to her, and her aides promptly hit it out of the park, right there in the first version of the story.
Her Senate spokesman, Philippe Reines, demanded that the administration provide a withdrawal plan rather than "a political plan to attack those who question them."
He also called the comments "outrageous and dangerous" and, to boot, warned against "redeploying out of Iraq with the same combination of arrogance and incompetence with which the Bush administration deployed our young men and women into Iraq."
Is there still any danger here for Clinton, any chance that voters — Democratic primary voters?! — consider criticism of the war effort and discussion of withdrawal disloyal? Edelman seems to have thought so -- that excerpt reads as a shot across the bows. But it's a bit too late in the day for that, isn't it? When you've everyone from Richard Lugar to a front-page blogger on Kos getting your back, it's a pretty good day.
Indeed. Hillary, who is clearly thinking about her administration, rather than her nomination, is simply smoking the Bush administration out on its continued lack of planning in Iraq. The fact that the undersecretary would throw elbows in such a retro, 2004 manner might leave one to conclude that, just as they failed to plan properly for the occupation of Iraq, the Pentagon has made no plans for withdrawal from Iraq. And Hillary is on firm ground in asking the questions, first, since its her job as a member of the Armed Services Committee, and because the American people are demanding withdrawal by 70 percent majorities, and it would help to know if the civilian morons running the Pentagon have any clue how to get it done.
Hillary gets to try out her Dojo Bill immediate slap-back style, plus she gets some love from the left end of the base, and she plumps up her credentials as a pragrmatic, thorough and forward thinking commander in chief. Nice work if you can get it. More on Clinton's response, including her letter to Edelman's boss:
Saying that other members of the Bush administration had not resorted to political attacks when asked about contingency plans or the possibility of a phased withdrawal, Senator Clinton, a member of the Armed Services Committee wrote:
Rather than offer to brief the congressional oversight committees on this critical issue, Under Secretary Edelman – writing on your behalf – instead claims that congressional oversight emboldens our enemies. Under Secretary Edelman has his priorities backward. Open and honest debate and congressional oversight strengthens our nation and supports our military.
His suggestion to the contrary is outrageous and dangerous. Indeed, you acknowledged the importance of Congress in our Iraq policy at a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee in March, when you stated, “I believe that the debate here on the Hill and the issues that have been raised have been helpful in bringing pressure to bear on the Maliki government and on the Iraqis in knowing that there is a very real limit to American patience in this entire enterprise.”
I renew my request for a briefing, classified if necessary, on current plans for the future withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq or an explanation for the decision not to engage in such planning. I also renew my concern that our troops will be placed in unnecessary danger if the Bush Administration fails to plan for the withdrawal of U.S. Forces. Finally, I request that you describe whether Under Secretary Edelman’s letter accurately characterizes your views as Secretary of Defense.
I would appreciate the courtesy of a prompt response directly from you.
Take that in our backside. (Full letter via ThinkP here)
Meanwhile, the headline I get out of the New York Times/CBS poll is that Americans of both sexes are united in finding Hil to be a credible CIC, and that she's holding all the cards when it comes to the women's vote, with the exception of the throwback '50s housefrau vote. ...
Update: Bob Gates apparently is saying he will get back to Mrs. Clinton shortly. Meanwhile, the headlines have been gonzo for her:
“This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible,” Vitter said in a statement released by his office.
“Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling,'' he added. "Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there -- with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way.”
Some interesting facts about Mr. Vitter:
Vitter, 46, then became Louisiana’s first Republican senator since the end of Reconstruction and has built a reputation as a solid conservative, opposing abortion rights, same-sex marriage and gun control. Last month, he took a leading role in efforts to kill the comprehensive immigration overhaul bill.
A Harvard graduate and former Rhodes Scholar, he was elected to the House in 1999, filling the seat vacated by Rep. Bob Livingston, who was headed toward the House speakership in 1998 when he was forced to reveal his marital infidelities.
In 2000, Vitter was included in a Newhouse News Service story about the strain of congressional careers on families.
His wife, Wendy, was asked by the Newhouse reporter: If her husband were as unfaithful as Livingston or former President Bill Clinton, would she be as forgiving as Hillary Rodham Clinton?
“I’m a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary,” Wendy Vitter told Newhouse News. “If he does something like that, I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me.”
“I think fear is a very good motivating factor in a marriage,” she added. “Don’t put fear down.”
Ouch! And how is the Vitter marriage going, anyway?
Vitter briefly considered a run for governor, but bowed out in May 2002, citing strains on his marriage. He announced that he and his wife had entered counseling.
"This wasn't in response to any dramatic issue or event, but to the cumulative stress from working in a high-pressure job, living in two cities, building a house, raising four young kids including a newborn, having our campaign activities based at home and traveling the state considering running for governor,” Vitter said in the 2002 statement.
A week after the announcement, Vitter was forced to publicly address allegations that he had visited a New Orleans bordello, according to the Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, La. He denied the charge, calling it “a rumor and attack campaign” led by enemies to destroy his character and name.
In the run-up to his Senate campaign in 2004, Vitter was confronted again, this time on a talk radio show. And once again, he called the allegations, circulated by political opponents, “absolutely and completely untrue.”
Read the DC Madam's black book for yourself here (assuming the link is back up...)
New reporting on the caging of Florida voters, not in 2000, but in 2004, and without due credit to Greg Palast in the story. Not to worry, Greg, we feel ya. Here's the story from the Florida Times Union:
TALLAHASSEE - Internal city memos show the issue of Republican "vote caging" efforts in Jacksonville's African-American neighborhoods was discussed in the weeks before the 2004 election, contradicting recent claims by former Duval County Republican leader Mike Hightower - the Bush-Cheney campaign's local chairman at the time.
"Caging" is a longtime voter suppression practice by which political parties collect undeliverable or unreturned mail and use it to develop "challenge lists" on Election Day.
The contradiction comes to light as the U.S. Justice Department continues to consider a June 18 request from two U.S. senators for an investigation into potential illegal voter suppression tactics in Duval County three years ago. A department spokeswoman said last week that the request is still being reviewed.
Hightower, in a Times-Union interview last month, said the controversial voter suppression tactic of "caging" was never raised in daily meetings hosted by former Duval County Supervisor of Elections Bill Scheu, and he had never heard "of that expression or that practice." Hightower said last week he stands by those recollections.
City officials have disputed that, saying Scheu's daily pre-election meetings with local Republicans, Democrats and African-American community leaders repeatedly included the topic. The city also released attendance records showing Hightower was present.
"This issue was raised during the 2004 election; the supervisor of elections and his counsel were aware of the allegations, discussed them at times during daily meetings with both political parties, and did not have any instances of challenges based on caging," Cindy Laquidara, chief deputy general counsel for Jacksonville, said in a June 20 e-mail to Duval County elections officials. The elections office was responding to a Times-Union public record request; the e-mail was obtained through a similar request.
Scheu told the Times-Union last week the caging issue "probably" came up during repeated discussions over vote challenges.
Hightower, however, stuck by his denial.
"I've never heard the phrase or the practice. I don't care what anybody says," he said. "That's their opinion. Mike Hightower doesn't remember that. Call it a senior moment."
"Vote caging" has a long history in politics. In one such procedure, a campaign will send out postcards to a particular group of addresses with instructions to return the mail. The campaign then creates a database of addresses that did not return the postcards and challenges the right of anyone registered at those addresses who attempts to vote on Election Day. The effect often dissuades turnout. The tactic is legal, but not if voters are targeted by race.
The 3-year-old allegation of caging in Jacksonville gained new life last month, when the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee received testimony indicating the GOP may have used the tactic in 2004.
Ann Farra, a former chairwoman of voter registration and education for the Duval County Democratic Party, said the fact no challenges occurred in 2004 is irrelevant, and Hightower was aware of the Bush-Cheney campaign tactics.
"This is like Bill Clinton saying he didn't have sex with Monica Lewinsky," Farra said. "Word had gotten out into the communities and caused people to stay away from the polls. Suppression was going on left and right."
WASHINGTON -- The day before Senate Watergate Committee minority counsel Fred Thompson made the inquiry that launched him into the national spotlight -- asking an aide to President Nixon whether there was a White House taping system -- he telephoned Nixon's lawyer.
Thompson tipped off the White House that the committee knew about the taping system and would be making the information public. In his all-but-forgotten Watergate memoir, "At That Point in Time," Thompson said he acted with "no authority" in divulging the committee's knowledge of the tapes, which provided the evidence that led to Nixon's resignation. It was one of many Thompson leaks to the Nixon team, according to a former investigator for Democrats on the committee, Scott Armstrong , who remains upset at Thompson's actions.
"Thompson was a mole for the White House," Armstrong said in an interview. "Fred was working hammer and tong to defeat the investigation of finding out what happened to authorize Watergate and find out what the role of the president was."
Asked about the matter this week, Thompson -- who is preparing to run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination -- responded via e-mail without addressing the specific charge of being a Nixon mole: "I'm glad all of this has finally caused someone to read my Watergate book, even though it's taken them over thirty years."
The view of Thompson as a Nixon mole is strikingly at odds with the former Tennessee senator's longtime image as an independent-minded prosecutor who helped bring down the president he admired. Indeed, the website of Thompson's presidential exploratory committee boasts that he "gained national attention for leading the line of inquiry that revealed the audio-taping system in the White House Oval Office." It is an image that has been solidified by Thompson's portrayal of a tough-talking prosecutor in the television series "Law and Order."
But the story of his role in the Nixon case helps put in perspective Thompson's recent stance as one of the most outspoken proponents of pardoning I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Just as Thompson once staunchly defended Nixon, Thompson urged a pardon for Libby, who was convicted in March of obstructing justice in the investigation into who leaked a CIA operative's name.
Thompson declared in a June 6 radio commentary that Libby's conviction was a "shocking injustice . . . created and enabled by federal officials." Bush on Monday commuted Libby's 30-month sentence, stopping short of a pardon.
The intensity of Thompson's remarks about Libby is reminiscent of how he initially felt about Nixon. Few Republicans were stronger believers in Nixon during the early days of Watergate. ...
Thompson, in his 1975 memoir, wrote that he believed "there would be nothing incriminating" about Nixon on the tapes, a theory he said "proved totally wrong."
I attended a Women for Hillary event in Miami over the weekend, at which more than 1,200 people crammed into the former Parrot Jungle ballroom to hear Ms. Hillary make her case for the presidency before a very receptive crowd of mostly women, including a number of local pols (Rep. Kendrick Meek and his wife were among the hosts). Hillary clearly has the chops to be president -- she presents herself well, and "sounds like a president," meaning she is commanding, concise, and has a thorough command of the issues. Hillary drew several standing ovations, including when she said that she was recently told that after eight years of George W. Bush, we're going to need a woman in the White House to do some serious house cleaning. "Get out your mops and your brooms," Hillary added, prompting a few chuckles in the room from the pretties (and their little dogs, too...)
Hillary may have it over the other candidates in terms of her presentation and debate skills (she has clearly won all three of the Democratic debates, including the most recent one at Howard University), but there's one place she has fallen somewhat behind -- and it's a surprising one: money.
The reason? It starts with Barack and ends with Obama.
Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama reported today that he raised at least $32.5 million during the second quarter of the year, enough to likely make him the top money raiser among Democrats during the latest quarter and for the year so far. The second-quarter figure showed Obama's fundraising pace is accelerating even from the staggering $25.7 million he raised during the first quarter. His campaign said that about $31 million of the second-quarter total were dollars that can be used for the primary campaign.
"Together, we have built the largest grassroots campaign in history for this stage of a presidential race," Obama said in a statement. "We now have hundreds of thousands of Americans who are ready to demand health care for all, energy independence, and an end to this war in Iraq. That’s the kind of movement that can change the special interest-driven politics in Washington and transform our country. And it’s just the beginning."
Obama's campaign Web site on Sunday morning reported nearly 258,000 overall donors for the first six months of the year, meaning about 154,000 new donors gave him money during the second quarter.
"Every day over the past three months, over 1,500 Americans have made clear to Barack Obama that they believe in his vision for our country by contributing to his campaign," Chicagoan Penny Pritzker, Obama's national finance chair, said in a statement.
Barack's incredible take stands in contrast to Hillary's approximate $27 million for the second quarter -- no slouch figure, but still less than Barack's. As for the also-rans, John Edwards is expected to raise about $9 million and Bill Richardson about $7 million. South of them, I doubt any of the third tier guys will raise enough to stay in it through the end of the year.
The Repubs report their totals tomorrow.
Update: Site to watch -- Hillaryis44.com ... posted by a mystery Beltway insider whom some GOPers suspect of being inside the Clinton campain.
I think that one of the most fascinating things to watch is white politicians attempting to communicate to a room full of black people. At tonight's PBS debate between the Democratic presidential candidates at Howard University, hosted by Tavis Smiley, the performances by the white candidates ranged from full-on pander (John Edwards -- using 2004 "two Americas" rhetoric for God's sakes...) to really loud, churchy sounding semi-pander (Biden) to wrong audience pander (Richardson -- the "I'm the first Latino to run for president" deal works a lot better in front of a Latino audience, pal, especially since many Blacks feel they are being displaced as the Dems' minority of choice...) to surprisingly smooth and stealthy (Hillary Clinton).
It will come as a surprise to the MSM that Barack Obama -- the only Black candidate, as you know -- did not get the loudest applause during the walk in -- that went to Hillary. And she delivered the line of the night when she noted that "if AIDS was the leading cause of death among white women in their 20s and 30s we'd be well on the way to a cure." I won't go through the littany of responses by each candidate, but each gave the star-studden audience (Marian Wright Edelman, Cornel West, Tom Joyner, Harry Belafonte, Al Sharpton, etc., etc., etc.,) some permutation of "the war on drugs is hurting Black people", "racism is still a problem," and "tax cuts for the rich suck."
Maybe I'm being a bit cynical, but I guess I was looking for more questions about Iraq.
OK, here's the rundown:
Hillary Clinton -- she's your winner tonight. She came off as the most commanding, the most prepared, and the most thorough in her responses. She constantly reminded the audience of the contrast between the current administration and her husband's without naming him (he's now known as "the 90s" ... and she managed to stop shouting ... eventually.
Barack Obama -- a close second to Hillary. He exploited his ease with the audience for all it was worth, but as has become the norm with Barack, as much as I like him, he was short on specifics. Barack has a natural, conversational style that is very seductive in a political sense (and he had a great comeback when Biden talked about himself and Barack getting tested for AIDS while in Africa. Barack clarified that he was tested along with his wife, in public...)
John Edwards -- this guy is the ultimate pander bear. He opened by casually name dropping the Howard mascot, and reminding the audience that he's from the Sizzouth. Then he got going with the "talking about poverty is my life's work" spiel. This guy has really got to update his message, and put 2004 behind him. Had he reminded us that he was the son of a mill worker, I would have been forced to jab a fork in my eye.
Bill Richardson -- I can't remember a single thing he said, sadly. Not a single, solitary thing.
Chris Dodd -- zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.......
Joe Biden -- he came off as a little bit too forceful for my taste. He came off like an angry father ... either that or a guy just two seconds from using the phrase "you people."
Dennis Kucinich -- still trying to take the profit out of healthcare. Don't tell those med students still paying off their student loans and looking for good paying jobs.
Mike Gravel -- he steals the crazy right out from under Kucinich's nose. I half expected him to leap from the stage, whip off his shirt and trousers and scream like a warewolf. Actually, I wish he'd done that. It would have livened things up. Gravel did make the comment that this debate was the fairest thus far. In other words, it was the only debate that gave the candidates with absolutely no shot at the nomination, much more airtime than they deserved.
Update: it's just after 10:30, and John Edwards just mentioned that goddamned mill. Where's my fork...?
Update 2: Hillary just called for shooting down the planes of those attacking civilians in Darfur. Now Biden is yelling about no-fly zones to try and match her Margaret Thatcher with his Winston Churchill. Bill Richardson's answer on Darfur was both long and boring. Heavy on resume, light on charisma. Oh god, now John Edwards is answering ... here comes the two Americas writ large ... two worlds, perhaps? Obama on Darfur: "no fly zones are important, but we have to look at Africa before the crises begin ... on trade and investment." Good answer, but he failed to get to the passion of the audience. Kucinich is getting some audience love right now by saying that "let's face it, if Darfur had a large supply of oil, the administration would be occupying it right now." Um ... Congressman... there's oil under them there Janjaweed...
With Al Gore counted out of the race (he says he's not running, so why count him in? Ditto Thompson and Gingrich, although at least Thompson is a likely entrant, probably sometime soon...) Hillary expands her lead over Barack Obama in the Sunshine States by five additional points.
On the GOP side, the big story is the continued insurgency of Fred Thompson, which does not appear to be anywhere near its last throes. Thompson has shaved Rudy Giuliani's lead in the state down to a nub, and if and when he enters, he apparently has the effect of bisecting the religious white male vote, giving abortion-averse but terrorism-fearing Republican men someplace else to go.
This morning, Phil Hendry, the right wing self-described Democrat who inexplicably has been added to the early morning lineup of the Clear Channel station that runs Air America and Jones Radio Networks programming here in South Florida, predicted that Clinton and Giuliani would ultimately be the nominees, and that despite his preference for Rudy, Hillary would likely win the White House because she represents "just enough change" to move us away from George W. Bush's problems, but not so much that it makes people uncomfortable.
Ralph Nader has a need ... or rather, he has two needs. The first is a need for attention. Specifically, he needs the kind of attention that you can only get from running for president. After receiving that kind of gaze, it's hard to go back to being a mere columnist. The second need that Ralph Nader appears to have, is for there to be the kind of president in office in Washington -- since he, of course, cannot win the presidency, he can only prevent some other candidate from winning -- whom he can rail against and blame for the ills he will one day run for president to reverse.
Given that, it is highly likely that Ralph Nader will attempt to feed his twin needs again in 2008 -- running for president in order to rev up his ego, and in order to prevent a Democrat from assuming office, if he can, the better to maintain his relevancy. That's because if a Republican wins, Ralph Nader can continue to rail against -- and to raise money on -- the evils of war, pollution and corporate greed. Those have become the hallmarks of the Republican Party, and at the end of the day, the best friend the Republican Party has, is Ralph Nader.
And then there are Nader's more prurient interests. Back in 2000, Salon.com described Nader's financial holdings this way:
Lefties like to bash Gore for being a tool of corporate America. More specifically, Gore incurs their wrath because the trust of his mother, Pauline, owns stock in Occidental Petroleum which, according to Nader running mate Winona LaDuke, "is working to exploit oil reserves under U'wa land in Colombia." The U'wa are an indigenous tribe in Colombia, and became the champions of an anti-Gore rally at the Democratic National Convention.
"As I listen to the vice president espouse his views on campaign finance reform, I look at his investment portfolio and have to ask how that might influence public policy," LaDuke has said, slamming Gore erroneously for "own[ing] substantial stock in Occidental Oil Co."
"The Occidental projects are so beyond the pale about what's reasonable and moral in this modern era," says Patrick Reinsborough, grass-roots coordinator for the Rainforest Action Network. Reinsborough says that his group has been primarily targeting Gore and Fidelity Investments in general, Fidelity Magellan being part of the Fidelity Investments mutual funds network, as well as the one with the largest quantity of Occidental stock. "We have called upon Ralph Nader -- as we would call upon any citizen -- to either divest from Fidelity or to participate in shareholder activism," Reinsborough says. "Gore has much more long-standing links to Occidental Petroleum."
But even if Fidelity were to divest its holdings in Occidental, it holds shares in so many companies Nader has crusaded against, it's hard to escape the conclusion that Nader's participation in the fund is supremely hypocritical. The fund, for example, owns stock in the Halliburton Company, where George W. Bush's running mate, Dick Cheney, recently worked as president and COO. The fund has investments in supremely un-p.c. clothiers the Gap and the Limited, both of which have been the target of rocks by World Trade Organization protesters, as well as Wal-Mart, the slayer of mom-and-pop stores from coast to coast.
Nader spokeswoman Laura Jones says that only the candidate himself can answer questions about his personal investments. Nader could not be reached for comment.
In a June interview with the Washington Post about his millionaire earnings -- much of which he has donated to his public interest groups -- Nader said the stocks he chose were "the most neutral-type companies ... No. 1, they're not monopolists and No. 2, they don't produce land mines, napalm, weapons."
But this is not true. The Fidelity Magellan fund owns 777,080 shares of Raytheon, a major missile manufacturer. And this isn't the only example of his rhetoric not matching up with his financial investments.
"I'm quite aware of how the arms race is driven by corporate demands for contracts, whether it's General Dynamics or Lockheed Martin," Nader told the Progressive in April. "They drive it through Congress. They drive it by hiring Pentagon officials in the Washington military industrial complex, as Eisenhower phrased it." The Fidelity Magellan fund owns 2,041,800 shares of General Dynamics.
Nader's holdings also include "2,908,600 shares of Boeing, 24,753,870 shares of British Petroleum-Amoco and 28,751,268 shares of Exxon-Mobil [through the Magellan fund]. The fund also owns stock in Shell, Sunoco, Texaco and Chevron -- on whose board Bush advisor Condoleezza Rice serves" as well as "15,266,900 shares of Bristol-Myers Squibb," which Nader has slammed for charging 20 times the manufacturing costs for its drugs. Nice portfolio if you can get it.
So if -- or when -- Nader runs, from whom can he expect support? Only the farthest extreme of the left, which detests Hillary Clinton and considers her to be just another corporate sycophant who refuses to apologize for her vote to authorize force against Iraq. But I suspect that even on the left, the pragmatists will far out-number the Nader nihilists, especially if a particularly authoritarian Republican candidate makes the finals (Rudy Giuliani comes to mind, but then again, these days, so does Fred Thompson...)
Nader can have very little impact nationally, and he will likely continue to decline in terms of electoral support, from his 2.7% in 2000 to the 1 percent or so he pulled four years later. But even if he gets a few tenths of a percent, the question isn't how much he gets, it's where he gets it. If it's in key swing states like Pennsylvania or Florida (though the latter is less relevant this year, in my opinion, given the primacy of the Western states) he could do just enough damage to give himself a fresh Republican president to rail against, and a few million more pennies in his stock portfolio.
Michael Bloomberg, former Democrat, today became a former Republican. In other words, he's running for president. From the competition, a back and forth over who a Bloomberg (with Chuck Hagel?) candidacy would hurt:
"If he runs, this guarantees a Republican will be the next president of the United States. The Democrats have to be shaking in their boots," said Greg Strimple, a Republican strategist in New York who is unaligned in the race.
The belief among some operatives is that Bloomberg's moderate positions would siphon votes from the Democratic nominee. Others say it's not clear and his impact would depend on the nominees.
Former Democratic Party Chairman Donald Fowler said Bloomberg would be "a disturbing factor to both parties," but the mayor would probably draw more Republican votes simply because "Republicans are more disenchanted than Democrats."
"Democrats are pretty happy with their candidates," Fowler said. "The Republicans are absolutely in disarray."
He called Bloomberg "an exceptionally capable guy" who is "hard-nosed and accomplished," but argued that the obstacles for a third-party candidate are so daunting that it would be nearly impossible for Bloomberg to win.
Will the MSM ever examine "Mr 9/11" Rudy Giuliani's actual record as mayor of New York (and his pimping of 9/11), his ties to the nefarious plan to build a NAFTA superhighway, his ties to Venezuela's Citgo and Mexico's Cintra, or his dirty dealings with Bernie Kerik? Only time will tell. One thing's for sure, it's not likely that one network in particular will bother:
Fox News' Pro-Giuliani Conflict of Interest By Cliff Kincaid May 22, 2007
Rudy Giuliani's much-publicized but misleading put-down of Ron Paul during the Republican presidential debate should have been tempered by a report that Saudi Arabia, the country that spawned most of the 9/11 hijackers, has been one of Giuliani's lucrative foreign clients. However, Fox News questioners Chris Wallace and Wendell Goler did not bring it up.
Perhaps this can be explained by the fact that the same Associated Press story that named Saudi Arabia as a Giuliani client listed News Corporation, the parent company of Fox News, as another Giuliani client. This AP story, which was not disputed by Giuliani or News Corporation, was carried on the Fox News website.
Giuliani's law and lobbying clients have included Saudi Arabia, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., and chewing tobacco maker UST Inc.
Hm.... which leaves the Post-Chronicle's Kincaid to conclude:
This writer had raised questions about Fox News' co-sponsorship of the debate, based on the fact that the company had a relationship with Giuliani when he was mayor of New York City. But now we know that the relationship has continued into the period of time that Giuliani has been planning a presidential run. It is an obvious conflict of interest.
The conflicts continued after the S.C. debate:
Giuliani was the first Republican candidate to come on Fox News after the debate and talk about his performance. Co-host Sean Hannity wanted to focus on Giuliani's comments on 9/11 and his attack on Paul. Later, Michael Steele, Maryland's former Lieutenant Governor, was on Fox News, declaring that Giuliani had destroyed Ron Paul. "It's done," Steele said of Paul's campaign. It wasn't mentioned that Giuliani had campaigned for Steele when he ran for a Maryland Senate seat.
Courtesy of Wolf Blitzer this afternoon on CNN, and the Politico blog, check out this Giuliani smackdown from the Catholic Bishop of Rhode Island, writing in the diocese newspaper, in reaction to receiving an invite to a $500 a plate Rudy fundraiser:
Rudy’s public proclamations on abortion are pathetic and confusing. Even worse, they’re hypocritical. ...
...“I’m personally opposed to but don’t want to impose my views on other people.” The incongruity of that position has been exposed many times now. As I’ve asked previously, would we let any politician get away with the same pathetic cop-out on other issues: “I’m personally opposed to . . . racial discrimination, sexual abuse, prostitution, drug abuse, polygamy, incest . . . but don’t want to impose my beliefs on others?”
Why is it that when I hear someone explaining this position, I think of the sad figure of Pontius Pilate in the Gospels, who personally found no guilt in Jesus, but for fear of the crowd, washed his hands of the whole affair and handed Jesus over to be crucified. I can just hear Pilate saying, “You know, I’m personally opposed to crucifixion but I don’t want to impose my belief on others.” ...
Ouch. After also calling out Democratic Catholics like Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Joe Biden (he's non-partisan) Bishop Thomas Tobin concludes as follows:
Oh well, as you can see by now, I won’t be attending the fundraiser for Rudy Giuliani. If Rudy wants to see me, he’ll have to arrange an appointment at my office. We’ll talk about his position on abortion. And if he wants a photo, it will cost him $1,500 as a donation for the pro-life work of the Church.
I suppose a Rudy 2008 yard sign wouldn't be welcome...?
Florida becomes even more significant with an early primary on the same day as South Carolina. Non-candidates Fred Thompson and Newt Gingrich pull out front in the Georgia state GOP straw poll. Thompson doesn't just win the poll, he dominates it, with a decidedly un-Giulianiesque 44 percent (Rudy tends to win his polls with numbers in the thirties, or more recently, the twenties...) Here's the breakdown:
The poll was jointly conducted by the Young Republicans and the Republican Liberty Caucus of Georgia.
The results were as follows:
Fred Thompson — 188 votes, or 44 percent Newt Gingrich — 77, or 18 percent Rudy Giuliani — 64, or 15 percent Mitt Romney — 40, or 9 percent Mike Huckabee — 18, or 4 percent Duncan Hunter — 10, or 2.3 percent John McCain — 10, or 2.3 percent Ron Paul — 8, or 1.9 percent Tommy Thompson — 6, or 1.4 percent Tom Tancredo — 4, or .9 percent Sam Brownback — 2, or .5 percent John Cox — 2, or .5 percent Jim Gilmore — 0, or 0 percent
The Des Moines Register poll shows Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is the top choice of 30 percent of those who say they definitely or probably will attend the leadoff Iowa caucuses in January.
McCain, a U.S. senator from Arizona, nips former New York Mayor Giuliani for second place — 18 percent to 17 percent.
The breakdown here is as follows:
Mitt Romney - 30% John McCain - 18% Rudy Giuliani - 17% Tommy Thompson - 7% Sam Brownback - 5% Mike Huckabee - 4% Tom Tancredo - 4% John Cox - 1% Jim Gilmore - 1% Duncan Hunter - 1% Ron Paul - -- Not sure/uncommitted - 12%
Three big trends I'm seeing here: Romney's advertising push, his debate performances and his overall Guy Smileyness are starting to resonate outside of Utah. Second, McCain is showing surprising staying power (though these polls were taken pre-immigration "reform" debacle. Third: Giuliani -- balloon -- leaky.
James Dobson, head of the sprawling evangelical group Focus on the Family, has joined fellow evanglical leader Richard Land in saying there's no way he'd vote for Rudy Giuliani for president. Rather, he said if faced with the Hobsons/Dobson's choice of Rudy v. Hillary or Barack Obama, he would "vote for an also ran" or for no one at all, failing to cast a ballot for president for the first time in his adult life. Dobson's key complaints about Rudy?
How could Giuliani say with a straight face that he "hates" abortion," while also seeking public funding for it? How can he hate abortion and contribute to Planned Parenthood in 1993, 1994, 1998 and 1999? And how was he able for many years to defend the horrible procedure by which the brains are sucked from the heads of viable, late-term, un-anesthetized babies? Those beliefs are philosophically and morally incompatible. What kind of man would even try to reconcile them?
This self-styled defender of marriage says he is "proud" of having submitted, as New York's mayor, a bill creating "domestic partnerships" for homosexual couples. Admittedly, many liberal Americans will agree with the social positions espoused by Giuliani. However, I don't believe conservative voters whose support he seeks will be impressed. Presidential elections are won or lost by slim margins. Rudy has an uphill slog ahead of him, even though he is the darling of the media.
There are other moral concerns about Giuliani's candidacy that conservatives should find troubling. He has been married three times, and his second wife was forced to go to court to keep his mistress out of the mayoral mansion while the Giuliani family still lived there. Talk about tap dancing. Also during that time, the mayor used public funds to provide security services for his girlfriend. The second Mrs. Giuliani finally had enough of his philandering and, as the story goes, forced him to move out. He lived with friends for a while and then married his mistress. Unlike some other Republican presidential candidates, Giuliani appears not to have remorse for cheating on his wife.
Harry Truman asked, "How can I trust a man if his wife can't?" It is a very good question. Here's another one: Is Rudy Giuliani presidential timber? I think not. Can we really trust a chief executive who waffles and feigns support for policies that run contrary to his alleged beliefs? Of greater concern is how he would function in office. Will we learn after it is too late just what the former mayor really thinks? What we know about him already is troubling enough.
Cross-dressing (the real kind, not the political kind, like what he initially did on the subject of abortion):
One more question: Shouldn't the American people be able to expect a certain decorum and dignity from the man who occupies the White House? On this measure, as well, Giuliani fails miserably. Much has been written in the blogosphere about his three public appearances in drag. In each instance, he tried to be funny by dressing like a woman. Can you imagine Ronald Reagan, who loved a good joke, doing something so ignoble in pursuit of a cheap guffaw? Not on your life.
That about sums it up for Dobson. (Read Dobson's full column here.) According to John King of CNN, evangelical leaders like Dobson and Land are "working behind the scenes, not in an organized fashion ... yet ... but definitely working ... to derail Giuliani as a presidential nominee. King also reported that many of these leaders are quietly coalescing around a Fred Thompson candidacy. (I can't see them going for cheatin' Newt.) Pat Buchanan on MSNBC this afternoon said that if Giuliani were to be elected president, he would "move to that country Alec Baldwin said he would move to" if George W. Bush got elected in 2004.
With Jerry Falwell gone, and Pat Robertson certifiably insane, Dobson now moves to the front of the queue as the pied piper of evangelical voters seeking direction on what Jesus would do come election time. That is, unless his theological and economic rival, the relatively tolerant Rick Warren (whose philosphy is more about giving back than handing out chastity belts and damning people to hell) gets political first, on the side of "moderate" Republicanism. (I can't see that happening, though. Warren is an expert marketer. Like an NBA player, he'll probably keep his politics to himself so as not to turn off any potential fans.)
Oh, and that Ohio poll showing Rudy leading John McCain 23% to 17%, that's less than a quarter of the total vote take, and a far cry from the high thirties and low forties Giuliani was commanding just months ago. I'd guess that 20 points of Rudy's total is based on name recognition and 9/11 nostalgia among the Islamophobic right wing wackjob, "24" obsessed set.
The biggest problem for the evangelicals is, who else have they got? Thompson is pretty good for the GOPers, though apparently he's not much of a speech giver.
For Giulini's part, his camp isn't commenting on Dobson. But they're likely doing some quick math on whether, given Rudy's pro-amnesty stance on immigration, they might be able to gain in Hispanic votes what they could lose in evangelicals (angry white males aren't exactly at a premium, I think the GOP has maxed out on them.) So who's party is it, anyway?
It stays interesting...
Update: Witness what happens when this Red Stater attempts to stump for Rudy (scroll down to the comments section. Kapow!)
Update 2: You might want to add welfare reform and illegal immigration to Rudy's list of conservative wrongs. A couple of things I grabbed from the aforementined RedState comments section: On September 11, 1996 (ironic, no?) Giuliani delivered a speech giving rather tepid support to the vaunted welfare reform bill signed by then President Bill Clinton. Besides not really being strongly for it, despite his current claims to welfare cutting fame, Giuliani also delivered this interesting aside:
... there is one aspect of the bill that has immediate application, and one that I believe raises serious constitutional and legal questions. And it is part of the Bill people pay very little attention to, and I'm not certain many knew it was in the bill when they passed it. It's a provision that attempts to reverse an executive order that New York City has had in existence since 1988 which basically says that New York City will create a zone of protection for illegal and undocumented immigrants who are seeking the protection of the police or seeking medical services because they are sick or attempting to or actually putting their children in public schools so they can be educated.
New York City's Executive Order 124, signed by Mayor Koch in 1988 protected people in that endeavor by instructing employees of New York City that they are not to turn in those names into the Immigration and Naturalization Service. That has been the source of great debate from the time Mayor Koch signed it until now. There has been at least three or four attempts by Congress to reverse that executive order.
I'm sure many of you may not remember this, but because I was intimately involved with it I remember it very well. In one of the late versions of the crime bill there was an amendment and the purpose of this amendment was to say that if any city wanted to benefit from the proceeds of the crime bill or money coming from the crime bill, they could not have an executive order like Executive Order 124; they would have to reverse it.
In fact, that same year, as part of an education bill in which education funds were being distributed to the various states throughout the country there was a provision included in it that said if you did anything like Executive Order 124 and give this kind of protection you would be deprived of funds for education and, due to very strong lobbying efforts, I'm delighted to say these provisions were defeated in the past. ...
Hm... so the crime bill that Bill Clinton signed prohibited giving special 'zones of protection' to illegal immigrants, but Giuliani opposed it? And he was advocating such zones of protection, giving illegal migrants access to police, medical and educational services, five years to the day, before 9/11, yet now, he says the Fort Dix Three are a reason to secure the borders... are you GOPers sure this guy is a conservative?
By the way, Giuliani's camp has issued a statement on today's "path to citizenship" compromise that's as ambiguous as Rudy's MSNBC debate answers about abortion.
Questions are being raised over Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani's policy on terrorism, after a report revealed he has strong ties to two foreign investment consortia working to own or lease U.S. toll roads, including the Trans-Texas Corridor 35, which is identified as part of the I-35 "NAFTA Superhighway."
Although he opposed NAFTA in 1993, Giuliani recently declined to call for building a fence on the United States border with Mexico, and he has supported a guest-worker program.
Now comes a new report about Giuliani's involvement with public-private-partnership projects that include NAFTA Superhighway funding and his open borders record on immigration questions, all of which could undermine his otherwise tough policy on terrorism that has resulted from the 9/11 role Giuliani played in managing New York City's response to the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Giuliani's Houston-based law firm, Bracewell & Giuliani, is identified by the Texas Department of Transportation as the sole law firm representing Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte, S.A., the Spanish investment consortium that has joined with Zachry Construction Company in San Antonio on the TTC project. WND previously reported that TTC-35 is the new four-football-fields-wide car-truck-train-pipeline corridor to be built parallel to the existing I-35 as the Texas segment of the emerging Mexico-to-Canada I-35 NAFTA Superhighway.
And is Rudy lying to try and evade responsibility for the single dumbest decision made in the wake of the first World Trade Center bombings in 1993, shortly after he was elected mayor?
Joseph J. Lhota, who was a deputy mayor and top aide during Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s two terms, said this afternoon that it was preposterous for Jerome M. Hauer to deny responsibility for the recommendation to place the city’s emergency operations center in 7 World Trade Center, which was destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001.
The controversy has exposed the bitter rift between Mr. Hauer and Mr. Giuliani, who hired Mr. Hauer to be the first director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management, from 1996 to 2000. The two men eventually had a public falling-out, and in 2001, Mr. Hauer endorsed Mark Green, a Democrat, in Mr. Green’s unsuccessful bid to succeed Mr. Giuliani, a Republican.
On Sunday, Mr. Giuliani told Fox News Channel that the decision to house the Office of Emergency Management’s command center at 7 World Trade Center was based largely on the recommendation of Mr. Hauer.
Today, Lloyd Grove of Daily Intelligencer reported that Mr. Hauer had written a memo in February 1996 to Peter J. Powers, then the first deputy mayor, recommending the MetroTech Center in Downtown Brooklyn as the best site for the command center. Mr. Hauer said that he had been told by Dennison Young Jr., a top aide to Mr. Giuliani, that the mayor would not accept a Brooklyn location.
A copy of the Feb. 14, 1996, memo [pdf] obtained by The Times lists 8 “pros” and 6 “cons” for the MetroTech Center. No. 3 on the list of pros is: “The building is secure and not as visible a target as buildings in Lower Manhattan.”
You'll want to read that there memo. It shows that Hauer clearly favored the Metrotech site, which I know well, having lived not too far from it. It's within eyeshot of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, near downtown Brooklyn. But again, Rudy didn't have much fondness for going to Brooklyn. And Rudy's current attempt to blame Hauer for his own poor decisions is as gutless as it is slimey -- classic Rudy. As Hauer told Lloyd Grove:
"Rudy's getting a lot of heat for the decision," Hauer said. "He's trying to run on his homeland-security and national-security background, and if you start peeling back the skin on the errors he made when he was mayor, you take away a lot of the basis for his candidacy." Hauer added: "I feel sad that he would betray somebody that had served him loyally in the past, and I'm angry, too. But when you get to know Rudy, you know that this is the kind of thing he does. That's just his personality."
Amen. Think Hauer will cut a commercial for one of Rudy's opponents? Count on it.
The Washington Times says evangelicals are coalescing around Fred Thompson. Says one unnamed leader:
"It's the moment of truth for conservatives ... Either social conservatives rally to stop a Giuliani nomination and victory for him in November 2008 or our issues -- abortion, same-sex marriage, the preservation of the family -- are permanently off the Republican Party agenda."
That about sums it up. And besides, do you really want the guy who allowed firefighters and other workers to breathe the polluted air post-9/11 to run our country? Signs among New Yorkers point to "no."
Rudy Giuliani and Bernard Kerik, crimeys to the end
What do you do with the good will of the world, after you've done your duty as mayor of New York City, comforting a shaken public after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001? If you're Rudy Giuliani, you use your newfound fame to make yourself rich:
In Private Sector, Giuliani Parlayed Fame Into Wealth Candidate's Firm Has Taken On Controversial Executives, Clients
By John Solomon and Matthew Mosk Washington Post Staff Writers Sunday, May 13, 2007; Page A01
On Dec. 7, 2001, nearly three months after the terrorist attack that had made him a national hero and a little over three weeks before he would leave office, New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani took the first official step toward making himself rich.
The letter he dispatched to the city Conflicts of Interest Board that day asked permission to begin forming a consulting firm with three members of his outgoing administration. The company, Giuliani said, would provide "management consulting service to governments and business" and would seek out partners for a "wide-range of possible business, management and financial services" projects.
Over the next five years, Giuliani Partners earned more than $100 million, according to a knowledgeable source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the firm's financial information is private. And that success helped transform the Republican considered the front-runner for his party's 2008 presidential nomination from a moderately well-off public servant into a globe-trotting consultant whose net worth is estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars. ...
Rudy soon hired his pal Bernie Kerik, who would later be convicted on corruption charges, along with two other friends: Pasquale J. D'Amuro, a former high ranking FBI executive and counterterrorism expert, who would later "retire" after it was disclosed that he looted "mementos" from Ground Zero, and then there's this guy:
... Alan Placa, an old friend who resigned as vice chancellor of the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island a week after being confronted by Newsday with allegations that former parishioners had been abused. The newspaper published portions of a 2003 Suffolk County grand jury report in which accusers said he used his position to stifle complaints of abuse by clergy.
And who were some of Rudy's secret clients? Why, they included:
Giuliani Partners was hired in December 2002 by Florida-based Seisint, Inc. to help market its data-mining product called Matrix. The product got a high-level airing in the White House in January 2003 at a meeting attended by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Vice President Dick Cheney. At that meeting, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother, gave a presentation in favor of the product. But by late 2003, reports surfaced that Seisint chief Hank Asher, a Giuliani friend, had smuggled cocaine into the United States earlier in his life. The Matrix project eventually fizzled and questions were then raised inside Seisint about the size of the firm's compensation.
Connecticut drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma hired Giuliani Partners in May 2002 as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration began investigating a wave of overdose deaths attributed to the firm's powerful and lucrative painkiller, OxyContin. The agencies had started looking into the pain product's illicit use as a recreational drug, and probing lax security at the company's manufacturing plants in New Jersey and North Carolina. A week before the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the former mayor joined then-DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft for the opening of new exhibit at the DEA's traveling museum and lent his star power to luncheon that day that raised about $20,000 for the DEA Foundation. In June 2004 U.S. prosecutors announced that the Purdue Pharma affiliate that ran the Totowa, New Jersey plant would pay $2 million to settle the investigation and the drugmaker would not have to admit wrongdoing or take its product off the shelf.
In January 2003, Giuliani Partners landed a $4.3 million contract to tackle Mexico City's vexing crime problems. His firm delivered a 146-point plan that the city's public security secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, trumpeted as an antidote to the city's longstanding crime scourge. Ebrard, now the city's mayor, said in a recent local television interview that many of the recommendations have in fact been implemented. Other Mexican leaders have described the contract with Giuliani as a "$4 million publicity stunt."
Sounds like a nice way to make a living, if you can get away with it.
Sarkozy wins on a pro-American, pro-reform mantle, but his ascendancy could spell trouble for the 35 hour work week, the power of labor unions, and the French tradition of working only when absolutely necessary. Sarkozy has promised a crackdown on illegal immigration, and an end to "thuggery" in the streets. I guess the French can no longer look down on the English and the Americans as Bush-backing fools, non? The right of center Times of London celebrates Sarkozy, reminding readers of the famous Charles de Gaulle saying that it's impossible to govern a country with so many different cheeses. So true.
Miami-Dade's housing crisis continues, with a little shantytown having become a central pivot point. That shantytown burned down this week. Now the activists involved are planning their next move. We talked with Max Rameau, the lead activist, this morning.
That drag thing? Living with that gay couple when Donna Hanover kicked him out for cheating? Forget all that. Rudy Giuliani is totally opposed to gay civil unions. No, really. Seriously. I mean, like, really opposed...
During the Democratic debates last night, the issue of South Carolina's continued use of the Confederate flag came up. It was handled deftly by both Barack Obama and Joe Biden, who pointed out that the reason the debate was being held at South Carolina State was that James Clyburn, and alumnus of the historically Black college invited them, despite the NAACP's flag-orignated tourism ban. Obama, for his point, said the flag belongs in a museum, not the capitol.
Evaluating the Democratic debate tonight, overall, I think Hillary Clinton was the best on stage tonight, scoring with her answer on the response to a terror attack, and being straightforward and succinct regarding the war.
Barack did quite well, too, though I don't think he did nearly as well as Chris Matthews thinks he did on the foreign policy questions.
It strikes me that were it not for his position on cutting off funding and ending U.S. involvement in the Iraq war this year, Bill Richardson, because of his views on guns and national security overall, could almost run as a moderate Republican, which makes him all the more attractive as a vice presidential candidate. One big miss for Richardson tonight: saying that he hesitated on Alberto Gonzales because he's Hispanic. That won't play in Peoria.
Dodd was a non-entity. Except for the one good line on speaking economically, Biden was, too.
I was disappointed in Edwards, who didn't really raise his game from the 2004 race.
Kucinich had his crazy guy routine stolen by Mike Gravel, who is truly out there. As I said in the previous thread, Kucinich should thank Gravel for making him look fairly normal tonight. Either that or he should hate him for stealing his lines...
There were no serious discussions on racial issues, nothing much for other minority groups to seize on (gays won't like Dodd's answer on civil unions), and not much fire overall. The debate was genial and mostly headline free. I'm looking for the Miami machine to start cranking on Richardson's Cuba answer, and I suspect the Iraq portion of the debate will make the most headlines.
Overall, if I had to guess, I'd say this debate will move the needle up slightly for Hillary and Obama, might make some GOPers take a look at Richardson (the NRA thing stands out) and also will make him the primo vice presidential candidate down the stretch.
So far, Obama is winning the post-debate online poll over at MSNBC, and Hillary is getting the highest negatives. I think that's just built in for her, because I don't think an honest reading of the debate supports that Barack won it, or that Hillary came off as less than credible. I really like Barack, but off all the eight standing up there tonight, Hillary was the one I could picture actually taking office as president.
So far, Edwards and Obama are neck and neck in the Kos Kids' poll, but commenters are lauding Mr. Gravel ... no, seriously they are ... which tends to take away from the lucidity of the poll.
Next week, it's the Republicans' turn. That one won't be as nicey-nicey.
"Rudy's arrogance has gotten the best of him," said Karen Finney, communications director for the Democratic National Committee.
"How can the man who failed to prepare NYC for a second attack after the first one, quit the 9/11 commission because he was too busy raking in money from sketchy business deals, can't assess if the surge is working or if Iran and North Korea have nuclear weapons claim that he will keep America safe?"
Dusting off his best FReeper imitation, Giuliani told an enthralled crowd of fear-addled, rage addicted New Hampshire GOPers:
"This war ends when they stop coming here to kill us!" Giuliani said in his speech. "Never, ever again will this country ever be on defense waiting for (terrorists) to attack us if I have anything to say about it. And make no mistake, the Democrats want to put us back on defense!"
Is this a political campaign, or an audition to be a fill in host for Michael Savage? Moving right along:
"Rudy Giuliani today has taken the politics of fear to a new low and I believe Americans are ready to reject those kind of politics," said Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) "America's mayor should know that when it comes to 9/11 and fighting terrorists, America is united."
"There are people right now in the world, not just wishing us harm but actively planning and plotting to cause us harm," said New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"If the last six years of the Bush Administration have taught us anything, it's that political rhetoric won't do anything to quell those threats. And that America is ready for a change."
I give Barack a B+ for his response. Hillary's, with the me-too-FReeper opening? I give a C, with the caveat that she has to play Margaret Thatcher in this movie in order for it to get green lighted.
"Rudy Giuliani's suggestion that there is some superior 'Republican' way to fight terrorism is both divisive and plain wrong. He knows better. That's not the kind of leadership he offered in the days immediately after 9/11, and it's not the kind of leadership any American should be offering now.
"As far as the facts are concerned, the current Republican administration led us into a war in Iraq that has made us less safe and undermined the fight against al Qaeda. If that's the 'Republican' way to fight terror, Giuliani should know that the American people are looking for a better plan. That's just one more reason why this election is so important; we need to elect a Democratic president who will end the disastrous diversion of the war in Iraq."
Meanwhile, John McCain did his big announce today, complete with a nice little dig at Rudy:
[The American people] ...won't accept that firemen and policemen are unable to communicate with each other in an emergency because they don't have the same radio frequency.
And the latest NBC News poll reads as follows:
Just before Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina, a new poll by NBC affiliate WIS-TV shows Clinton and Obama virtually tied (24%-23%), with Edwards (who won the state in 2004) in third at 16%. On the GOP side, meanwhile, a new Zogby poll has McCain leading Giuliani in South Carolina (22%-19%), with Fred Thompson in third and Romney in fourth.
There's also an NBC News poll that comes out this evening that will show Giuliani losing support, down from 38% to 33%, McCain losing two points, down frmo 24% a month ago to 22% and Fred Thompson going to zero to 17%.
I took a couple days off blogging to deal with "other issues" (you just ponder that one for a minute... cause I'm not giving details...) Strangely enough, the political universe didn't shift that much since Wednesday :)
So what's new in the world as of today?
Fred Thompson is getting serious about maybe, possibly running for president, while Rudy Giuliani is still catching softballs, even from the blog press... (Roger Simon of Politico apparently didn't find the time to ask the former New York mayor about his caustic relatioonship with firefighters, his cozy relationship with probable felon Bernie Kerik, his problems with "the race issue" in New York City, or his poor decisionmaking on security prior to 9/11 (who moved the logistics and communication nerve centers of the city into the WTC before the attacks? Why Rudy, of course! But don't hold your breath waiting for the media to ask him about it. They're too busy chasing stories about his Cruella de Ville wife and his bad management of his marriage to Donna Hanover ... SIDEBAR: I got it on good authority from a prominent person who knows Rudy very well that Donna doesn't just resent Rudy, she HATES him, and so does his son. The person I spoke with talked to Donna recently and got it straight from the jilted spouse's mouth. ... but I digress...)
John Edwards has pulled out of the Fox News debate to be put on by the Congressional Black Caucus. And now many are wondering, what the hell is the CBC doing partnering with the Faux News network anyway?
Clinton-hating TIME columnist Joe Klein calls Bush "unfit to lead" and the head of "one of this nation's worst administrations" but says talk of impeaching him is "a bit nutso..."
An Iranian diplomat freed -- quite coincidentally, I'm sure -- around the same time the Iranians freed 15 British military personnel is now claiming torture at the hands of the CIA...
Meanwhile, the now freed Royal Naval and Marine personnel are talking about their ordeal, including being blindfolded, tied up, and threatened with execution. The group explained that in their determination, "fighting back was not an option." Seems like a reasonable enough explanation to me, but then again, I've never worn the uniform.
And now for a completely different view, from Col. Jack Jacobs, who slams the Britons for clearly making their top priority "going home," rather than preserving their honor as military men and women... Whatever your opinion of the Royal Navy/Marines, I think it's clear that in the propaganda war between Iran and Great Britain, Iran won this one, just as Hezbollah beat Israel over their captured soldiers, and Hamas did the same (neither group has returned the Israelis, despite a reign of military horror by the Israeli military...) I feel badly for the Brits, they are young, and clearly they weren't in this for an ideological fight. I tend to wince at chickenhawk winger slaps at them, and brash statements about what the Limbaughs, Hannities and Savages of the world claim they would have done in their place (cower and beg are my best guesses). These guys did what they had to do to get home. But I can understand why a guy like Jack Jacobs -- a hero and Medal of Honor winner -- would feel the way he does.
Final note, it must really cheese off the Brits to recall stories such as this one:
June 13, 2004 - ... Last week, a U.S.-led coalition in Iraq rescued three Italian hostages - Salvatore Stefio, Umberto Cupertino and Maurizio Agliana - who since April 12 had been held captive by terrorists calling themselves the Green Brigade. When the Italians returned home, they said they had joked with one another to ease the tension and quell their fears. Although they told reporters they had not been physically abused, their lives were constantly threatened. Only after the rescue did the former hostages discover that their captors had murdered their friend, a fourth hostage Fabrizio Quattrocchi. Just before the terrorists shot and killed Quattrocchi, he tried to pull off his hood and yelled, "This is how an Italian dies." He was buried in his home city of Genoa on May 29. Dying with dignity - and honor - is brave.
But that said, if you were in the place of the 15, what would YOU have done? In all honesty??? And before you wingers get too giddy, let's also recall that there have been Americans in this situation, too, both military and civilian. And in some cases, they too have chosen to comply... It is a basic human instinct to want to live. When one can force oneself to deny that basic instinct, we either call it bravery, or stupidity (recall that suicide bombers also deny that instinct.) I don't personally fault these guys, because in their shoes, I really don't know what I would do.
Here's one I completely missed: Geraldo vs. O'Reilly, the grudge match... Scroll down and watch the video ... the REAL comedy here is the segway that the ladies of Good Morning America manage to makde after the Fox News scream-fest was over. Trust me, it's worth listening until the end...
Unemployed former U.N. Ambassador (sans Senate confirmation) John Bolton snaps at the Saudi King for criticizing his pet project in Iraq.
Bafflingly still employed U.S. vice president Dick Cheney continues to take up residence in LaLa Land over the issue of the late Saddam Hussein's supposed ties to al-Qaida, despite the rheems of evidence, from the intelligence services of his own government, that there were no such links. Of course, you can say just about anything to Rush Limbaugh ... what the hell does he know...
Don Imus has apologized for his "nappy headed hos" remark about the Rutgers women's basketball team. On his April 4 program, Imus, his executive producer Bernard McGuirk and sportscaster Sid Rosenberg got into a stupid discussion about the teams that delved into the supposed manishness of the Rutgers girls (apparently Rosenberg feels they favor the Toronto Raptors). It quickly devolved from there. Imus did not, however, take back the comments on the same program which called the Tennessee women "cute..."
Sen. Barack Obama raised at least $25 million dollars during the first quarter for his presidential campaign, a total surprisingly close to the $26 million collected by his chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Obama actually may have raised more for the primary campaign than the former first lady, but that cannot be definitively known because the Clinton campaign has refused to say how much of its total is designated for the primary election versus the general election. ...