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.
Mark Sanford was just doin' a little hikin' ... on naked hiking day ...
The latest 2012 GOP hopeful to go down in flames does it big. ... Big and naked:
We’re not suggesting that the formerly missing Governor of South Carolina specifically ditched his family and security detail to go hiking on Naked Hiking Day. It’s just that one of the days he hit the trail also happened to be the aforementioned holiday. [Editor’s note: This paragraph was changed to make clear that the governor’s timing was a coincidence.]
Until late yesterday, no one would say publicly where he was. Poof. He just disappeared.
It's almost hard to believe, with all the GOPers out there demanding that President Obama demand a recount in Iran (as Rep. Mike Coffman, embarrassing my former state of Colorado, suggested tonight on "Hardball") that there are any non-Iranians out there with much to say about Iran that isn't completely idiotic. The idea that the American president should demand a recount in a country that isn't the United States is at minimum ironic, given what happened in our presidential elections in 2000, complete with five of our very own Republican mullahs putting their thumb on the scale on the side of their political compatriot. It's also insane. Watch Chris Matthews try to explain as much to a stumbling Coffman tonight:
So why has Europe, so often cast as the more timid side of the transatlantic partnership, responded more vigorously this time? The answer, according to Robin Niblett, director of the London-based international-relations think tank Chatham House, lies in the low-rumbling crisis in the background of the disputed election: Iran's nuclear program.
"The United States is the only country that can convince Iran that it is not as threatened as it thinks it is, and that's crucial to the negotiations [over Iran's disputed enrichment program]," Niblett says. "The Obama Administration is playing it absolutely right: it is determined to convince the Iranians that its goal is not regime change. Any public denunciations could damage Obama's efforts to coax Iran out of its defensive posture."
Meanwhile, over in Europe:
Domestic politics is also playing into the strong rhetoric on the part of European leaders like Sarkozy and Merkel, according to Niblett. "It is in Sarkozy's nature to be plain-speaking and tough, and that's played well domestically. His popularity has dropped recently, so his stance on the importance of free elections plays well. It does for Merkel too, as it distinguishes her from [Social Democrat Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor] Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who has been more measured in his response."
Yeah, domestic politics is playing a big role here, too. It seems some of our Republican/neocon friends are more interested in attacking the president of the United States than in pursuing an intelligent foreign policy that benefits America's national security.
Next up, real, live Republican grown-up Peggy Noonan (who unlike the neocons, is a conservative Ronald Reagan actually bothered to listen to):
Stifling and corrupt religious autocracy has seen its international standing diminished, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is among other things a Holocaust denier, has in effect been rebuked by half his country, and through free speech, that most painful way to lose your reputation, which has broken out on the streets. He can no longer claim to speak for his people. The rising tide of the young and educated seems uninterested in reflexively hating the West and deriving their meaning from that hatred.
To refuse to see all this as progress, or potential progress, is perverse to the point of wicked. To insist the American president, in the first days of the rebellion, insert the American government into the drama was shortsighted and mischievous. The ayatollahs were only too eager to demonize the demonstrators as mindless lackeys of the Great Satan Cowboy Uncle Sam, or whatever they call us this week. John McCain and others went quite crazy insisting President Obama declare whose side America was on, as if the world doesn't know whose side America is on. "In the cause of freedom, America cannot be neutral," said Rep. Mike Pence. Who says it's neutral?
This was Aggressive Political Solipsism at work: Always exploit events to show you love freedom more than the other guy, always make someone else's delicate drama your excuse for a thumping curtain speech.
And she adds this:
Should there at this point, more than a week into the story, be a formal declaration of support from the U.S. government? Certainly it's time for an indignant statement on the abuses, including killings and beatings, perpetrated by the government and against the opposition. It's never wrong to be on the side of civilization. Beyond that, what would be efficacious? It must be asked if a formal statement of support for the rebels would help them. And they'd have a better sense of it than we.
The current policy, much criticized by prominent Republicans, vindicated Barack Obama's boast in his Cairo speech that he is a "student of history." The student in him knows that the worst thing the United States could do at the moment is provide the supreme leader and the less supreme leaders with the words to paint the opposition as American stooges -- or, even worse, suggest to the protesters that some sort of help is on its way from Washington.
Cohen then delivers a nice splash of cold water to Paul Wolfowitz's (surprise, surprise!) TOTALLY WRONG ANALOGY in his recent column comparing Ronald Reagan's intervention with a former colony with Barack Obama's positition vis-a-vis a government WITH WHICH WE HAVE NO FORMAL RELATIONS... (sigh)
Some of Obama's critics have faulted him for not doing what Ronald Reagan (belatedly) did following the fraudulent election in the Philippines in 1986. After some dithering, Reagan virtually forced President Ferdinand Marcos into exile. How neat. How not a precedent for Iran.
Marcos was, to exhume a dandy Cold War phrase, an "American lackey." The Philippines itself was a former American colony. We knew the country. Hell, at one time, we virtually owned it.
In contrast, not a lot is known about how Iran is actually governed. If, for instance, the White House asked the State Department to send over someone with on-the-ground experience in contemporary Iran, the car would arrive empty. The last American diplomats left Iran in 1979. The United States has to rely on foreign diplomats and journalists for its information.
Yet according to some of the dumbest elected persons I've ever heard on television, our president should take to the airwaves and ... wait for it ... demand a recount in Iran. Brilliant.
In the end, the Nation's Washington editor Chris Hayes got it right on Rachel's show tonight. The neoconservative movement is fundamentally about this weird, preening desperation to make every world event, every happening in every culture, even ones we fundamentally don't understand -- All About Us. Thus, the Iranian uprising is about Us (not about the economy, or joblessness, or frustration with the strictures of religious law, or the things the Iranians say it's about. Silly brown people -- they just don't get that it's really all about them wanting Us to guide them to freedom!) The protesters are speaking to Us (not to the Europeans who used to run the place, or to other English-speaking people, just Us. The color green is so close to the color blue that even THAT must ... MUST be About Us. This desire to jam the United States and our inflated self-portrayal as The World's Greatest/Only Defender of Liberty Everywhere into the center of every conceivable conflict is actually starting to look like a mental affliction, and it's one that I, for one, am very glad was not visited on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue last November.
The stimulus money-hating South Carolina governor (and would-be 2012 GOP presidential contender???) has flown the coop. So it's time to ask: "Have You Seen This Man?" If you have, kindly tell his wife...
Thousands of supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the man they consider the true winner of Iran's disputed presidential election, have held a rally in Tehran to mourn the recent deaths of protesters.
Thursday's gathering took place at the capital's Imam Khomeini Square in spite of a statement by the highest legislative body that it would meet the candidates to discuss their complaints about the vote.
... Mousavi had issued a statement on his website calling for Thursday to be observed as a day of mourning for those killed during the protests against the election result.
Chanting "Peace be upon (Prophet) Muhammad and his family", the opposition supporters, many dressed in black, marched in south Tehran, the witnesses said.
Mousavi had urged his supporters to wear black as a sign of remembrance and remain peaceful.
One witness said the marchers carried pictures of Mousavi and placards like "We have not had people killed to compromise and accept a doctored ballot box" and "Silent, keep calm".
Mousavi somehow managed to reach the venue and addressed the huge crowd.
He announced that a rally scheduled for Friday had been cancelled, and that his supporters should prepare for a major march planned for Saturday afternoon from Tehran's Revolution Square to Freedom Square.
Mousavi has applied for a permission at the interior ministry but it is unclear whether this would be issued.
About 100 people gathered outside the United Nations building in Tehran earlier on Thursday urging the Guardian Council to take action over the disputed poll. Officials have barred the foreign media from covering such "unauthorised" events. However, they are expected to ensure a heavy turnout for a special sermon to be delivered by Ayatollah Ali Khameini, the country's supreme leader, at the Tehran University campus on Friday. ...
For now, the only thing I'd criticize Obama for is stating that there's not much difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. That may have been true before the election, but it's probably not now. Although, his saying what he did had the effect of distancing the U.S. from the opposition, which is probably what the administration wanted, and in the end, most probably the right thing to do. Let's let the Iranians speak for themselves. The neocons' days of treating Muslims like wayward children who must be given democracy by their western benefactors (usually at the barrel of a gun) is over.
She finally accepts David Letterman's torturous apology, but then she adds this:
"Letterman certainly has the right to 'joke' about whatever he wants to, and thankfully we have the right to express our reaction," Palin said in a statement. "And this is all thanks to our U.S. Military women and men putting their lives on the line for us to secure America's Right to Free Speech – in this case, may that right be used to promote equality and respect."
Huh??? So Sarah accepts on behalf of all women ... and then she uses the opportunity to exploit the military? I guess she's taking time off carting poor Bristol around on that publicity hounding "abstinence tour" to do something really useful with her time. Please sit down, Wasila woman. For your own sake.
Meanwhile, Roger Simon plays the role of Palin P.R. flak on "Hardball," but fails to make the case that Palin is the new Uber Defender of Womanhood. Earth to Simon: you're a guy. Most women have no time for a woman whose entire public life is devoted to having beef, with anyone handy, including comedians. If you missed, it, catch Tina Brown on the re-air. She makes good sense when she advises Sister Sarah to "shut up and study up."
Rubio gets some right wing love ... is that a good thing?
Marco Rubio has at times, been considered a potential GOP star: the young, Hispanic face of the Republican Party (well, maybe the only Hispanic face of the Republican Party, since that crowd never seemed to really be feeling Mel.) Now, his Senate run has gotten an endorsement from conservative South Carolina Sen. Jim Demint, previously known mostly for his bug-eyed entreaty urging tea partying wingers to "take to the streets!!!" to stop the Obamaian "slide toward socialism." Yes, yes, that should help Marco expand his base... (ahem) ... Says Politico:
The move is not out of character for DeMint, who often finds himself at odds with GOP leaders over thorny political issues.
But DeMint has a significant grass-roots conservative following, and the fight speaks to the larger struggle over the GOP’s tent: Should it be big enough to include more moderate candidates who have a better chance of winning but stray from the party’s principles? Or should it be mainly limited to bedrock conservatives who would help the party return to its socially conservative and limited government roots?
DeMint firmly believes in the latter. A leader of the conservative Senate Steering Committee, DeMint has started a political action committee — called the Senate Conservatives Fund — designed to prop up the candidacies of Senate incumbents and wannabes who adhere to conservative principles. So far, DeMint has backed former Republican Rep. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania (he planned to do so even before the moderate Sen. Arlen Specter became a Democrat) and the staunch conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who is up for a second term in November 2010.
This cycle, DeMint plans to take a different tack with his Senate Conservatives Fund; instead of simply making donations to his preferred candidate, he plans to ask his 20,000 supporters to help raise the maximum allowable limit for the endorsed candidates — a process known as “bundling.” A person familiar with the PAC said that DeMint is expected to endorse between three and five candidates this cycle.
Is that really what Rubio wants? The name Pat Toomey is almost synonymous with "loser," associated as Toomey is, with the loser-prone Club for Growth (During the 2008 presidential campaign, Toomey even launched his very own jihad, as the then-CFG president, against that liberal squish Mike Huckabee, for the sin of once raising taxes as Arkansas governor. Commie...) So Rubio, it seems to me, has a choice: he can be the future of the GOP, or he can be the standard-bearer for the dwindling, geographically and demographically constricted far right wing past. The bundling, I'm sure he'll take. The poster boy for the Limbaugh wing part? He may want to rethink ...
In case you missed it: Crist comfortably ahead in Florida, so far
The righties may not like it, but Charlie Crist still looks like a pretty good bet for Florida's GOP Senate nomination. A June 10 Quinnipiac poll finds him way ahead of Marco Rubio, and far ahead of Kendrick Meek in a general election match-up to boot. The same polls show Florida's political Don Quixote, Bill McCollum, surprisingly close of the less well known Alex Sink for governor, but the undecided in that race is a whopping 30 percent, meaning it's probably Sink who has more room to grow. The Qinnipiac poll finds that Crist's popularity is holding up, and even exceeds that of the president:
Gov. Charlie Crist swamps former Florida House speaker Marco Rubio 54 - 23 percent in the 2010 Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Mel Martinez, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
Kendrick Meek, a Congressman from South Florida, leads the field for the Democratic Senate nomination with 18 percent, followed by two other members of Florida's congressional delegation, Corrine Brown with 12 percent and Ron Klein with 8 percent. But 57 percent of voters say they don't yet have a candidate in the race, according to the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University survey.
President Barack Obama remains very popular in the state of Florida with a 58 - 35 percent job approval rating. That compares to the less than 52 percent he received in Florida last November.
Obama's job approval rating, however, trails that of Gov. Crist, whose strength across the political spectrum would make him a difficult candidate to beat in a general election for the U.S. Senate. Crist has a 62 - 28 percent job approval rating overall, including a 59 - 30 percent thumbs-up from Democrats.
"Marco Rubio says there are many Florida Republicans who don't want Charlie Crist in the U.S. Senate. Depending on how you define the word 'many,' he might be correct. Unfortunately for Rubio at this stage, many, many, many more favor Crist," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
For Meek, the big news is that no one really knows him or his current Democratic opponents (which is why he's doing that statewide petition drive.) Says Qpac:
While Meek is slightly ahead in a Democratic Senate primary, 80 percent of voters statewide, including 74 percent of Democrats, don't know enough about him to form an opinion. Brown and Klein do no better.
Meanwhile Quinnipiac finds Alex Sink slightly ahead of McCollum, 38 to 34 percent:
Sink leads 72-11 among Democrats, while McCollum leads 72-5 among Republicans and 32-27 among independents.
Eleven percent of voters said that the possibility of Sink being Florida's first female governor makes them more likely to vote for her. Eighty-one percent said it didn't matter.
"For someone who is of Latin background, personally, I understand what she is trying to say," Martinez said after meeting with Sotomayor today. "Which is, the richness of her experience forms who she is. It forms who I am."
I believe Martinez is the first Republican senator to actively defend Sotomayor. This could be one of those symbolic turning points.
Martinez also said he expects Sotomayor to be confirmed "with pretty good numbers."
You know that old saying (I think I first heard it from Bill Clinton,) that "Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line?" Well... Democrats are starting to fall like Republicans. I didn't make the Jefferson Jackson dinner last night (what can I say, my A/C broke, and in Florida, that takes priority, even over politics. BTW if you need a good air conditioning guy, call me!) but I did get the news, via a text message last night, that Dan Gelber, the favorite of liberals in the U.S. Senate race, is dropping out ... er ... "stepping back" ... from the Senate race. (Alex Sink can't be thrilled that what was supposed to be a love-fest for her gubernatorial run got upstaged by Camp Kendrick...)
I'm not surprised. I've heard rumors that Gelber would probably go for weeks, though I'm not sure if it's a matter of fundraising, or ... um ... pressure (he apparently was getting it, including from the DSCC.) And as a loyal Democrat, he probably wanted to do what the party wants, which is to clear the field so the party can focus on just one candidate. Besides, Gelber was in a no-win situation. He is even less well known statewide than his opponent, and he was up against two formidable and enmeshed political machines: the Meek machine on the local level and the Clinton machine, whose obvious star power and fundraising tentacles reach deep into the Sunshine state. Gelber was struggling to raise money, and Meek has the endorsement of major unions and other prime political sources of cash. the "Kendrick Meek for Florida" campaign raised about $1.5 million through March 31st, according to his federal campaign disclosures, while Gelber had taken in just $363,000. There is a third candidate in the race, North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns. Um ... good luck with that, dude. (He had raised about $17,000 bucks as of March 31st.) Whatever the reason, Gelber is out. Meek's camp has released this statement:
“Dan Gelber is the model public servant guided by a lifelong pursuit of truth. I’d wish Dan luck in any endeavor that he pursues, but he doesn’t need luck. Dan’s intellect, dedication to justice and sense of fairness will serve him and our state well no matter his pursuit. He is a friend who puts party first and his message to Florida Democrats that we must unify around a slate of candidates is a powerful statement that I wholeheartedly embrace. Dan is a natural leader who will continue to serve our state with distinction in any capacity he chooses and our party is better off because of him.“
... which mirrors Gelber's statement that he's tired of the Democratic "circular firing squad" that normally occurs during elections. Since he hasn't been "fired at" as yet, I for one, am wondering what exactly he means. And personally, I think the "circular firing squad" during a certain Democratic presidential primary made our current president a better general election candidate. BTW Gelber even got a tweet-out from former State Senate colleague Marco Rubio.
Welcome to the new Democratic World Order. BTW this comes during the same week when Ed Rendell essentially threatened Joe Sestak that he'd get "killed" (politically, I assume) if he runs against the establishment candidate, Republican ... I mean Democrat... Arlen Specter, in the PA primary. Democracy, you've gotta love it!
I hate to mirror the ravings of RedState, but these days, the Democratic Party feels an awful lot like the GOP, which generally prefers coronations to primaries. That said, clearing the way for politicians to run for office without actually having to RUN, is already the way things often work in Black politics from what I've seen in Florida (if you can find me a Black person within 100 miles of here who would dare to oppose a sitting Black politician in South Florida publicly, I'll give you, and them, $100. $200 if it's a preacher...) Congressman Meek has never had a serious opponent since he won his mother Carrie Meek's House seat in 2002, and he has benefited from the fact that people down here are loathe to oppose Carrie Meek, whom I would have to say is the single most influential Black person in South Florida, even in retirement from politics. So it's little wonder that the rest of the party would catch on.
On a practial level, Meek had about a hundred assets that Gelber didn't. He benefits from his friendship with former president Clinton, whose wife Meek supported in the Democratic primary, even as the vast majority of Black folks, including in his district, backed Barack Obama (he was far from alone in that regard.) The payback for that support is obvious: Bill Clinton is Kendrick's most prolific and high-profile, fundraiser. It's very hard, if not impossible, to beat that. Ironically, when pressed about sticking with Hillary as it became clear she would lose the Democratic nomination, Kendrick said this:
"There's a chorus of folks saying 'Oh well, saying let's end this right now... But we're Democrats, not Republicans. We believe in Democratic primaries playing themselves out."
So far, the reaction to Gelber's exit within the Florida netroots has ranged from pragmatic to harsh, (this diary was apparently harsh too, before it was deleted...) and Gelber will likely be a candidate for attorney general (my guess is that he was told by -- fill in the blanks as you prefer -- that he would do better to withdraw, try for A.G., thereby receive the backing of the right money people, and give the party the time and space to fight the big fish: Charlie Crist, or to drive him out of the race, too... ahem ...) so progressives will still have him to kick around. That is sound political practice from the standpoint of winning elections, and to be honest, I don't relish the idea of Democrats shredding each other during a primary. But you'd think that in a democracy, we could come up with a way to have a spirited debate, and then let rank and file Democrats pick our nominee. Hell, it worked in 2007/2008, and while it got ugly -- mostly because the Clintons made it ugly -- we wound up winning the race with a tough, tested canddate. Just my two cents.
BTW don't get too geeked up out there about the idea of Corinne Brown supposedly exploring her own run for Senate. I seriously doubt the seriousness. She and Kendrick swim in the same Black establishment political waters, and I suspect she will be swiftly talked down from that particular exploration. Besides, what would be her point of difference with Kendrick? She supported Hillary Clinton, too, so she wouldn't have that issue to use against him with Black voters. The only difference would be regional, and from what I hear, Rep. Meek has already sown up the key endorsements and money people in Rep. Brown's neck of the woods.
Meanwhile, as things get easier for Kendrick, they're getting tougher for Charlie. (On Michael Putney's show this morning, Meek mused that Charlie Crist might not even be his opponent in 2010. Not likely, but not impossible either. One can only imagine what the Clinton oppo research veterans have in store for Mr. Crist. Meek's best scenario would be to face what he has faced in the past -- a non-opponent. And I'm assuming his camp believes that non-opponent to be Marco Rubio.
UPDATE: Watch Gelber's "Stepping Back" speech, courtesy of Larry Thorsen:
UPDATE 2: The Orlando Sentinel's Jane Healy speaks my mind, though in her case, about the governor's race:
This may be good from a political fundraising perspective, saving all the money for the 2010 general election. But it hurts the voters. Without a challenge from someone within their own party, candidates get away with taking fewer stands on important issues. Voters ought to rebel and insist that the candidates answer some tough questions.
... This could be where the lack of a primary hurts most. It will be hard to tell whether the candidates have any backbone since they will automatically get money from the traditional interest groups. For Democrats, the unions and the trial lawyers are those key constituencies. For Republicans, it's the business community. At least Crist had to run in a hotly contested primary before being elected, exposing his real differences with the conservative wing of the party.
And with no real primaries, you can forget about debates for a long time. The candidates will probably be able to escape them until after Labor Day 2010, when the general-election season kicks in. Oh, well.
Obama's Cuban-American Vatican rep: a small thing, but maybe an important one
Tucked into the Huffpo story today about President Obama's new ambassador hires is this one:
The White House also announced it plans to nominate Miguel H. Diaz, an associate professor of theology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minn., for the top job at the Vatican.
A Roman Catholic theologian, the Cuban-American advised Barack Obama's presidential campaign. He also was among 26 Catholics who signed a statement supporting the nomination of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic whose support for abortion rights was criticized by conservative Catholics.
Obama built up a small but solid base of Cuban-American support in Florida last year by announcing he'd ease travel restrictions to Havana, which helped him win this state; and the latest Bendixen poll suggests he enjoys a 67 percent approval rating among Cuban-Americans. Don't think the SoFla community won't notice that a Cuban-American has been picked to represent the U.S. in Rome.
Bill McCollum: the age of access and inclusion is upon us
Now this is ironic. One of the former Clinton impeachment harpies, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who has run and lost for Senate more times than anyone this side of George H.W. Bush, now says that if he is elected the next governor of Florida, his administration will be all about ... inclusion ... (ahem). From McClatchy:
"The hallmark of a McCollum administration will be access and inclusion," he said. "This administration will be one that doesn't look at partisan labels."
Access and inclusion ...
McCollum was the sole cabinet member to vote against allowing people who have served their prison sentences to regain their right to vote, a relic of Florida's post Civil War past and the infamous "Black codes." Can we file that under "inverse access?"
He generally was regarded as a lap dog for the banking industry during his congressional years. In 1989, Public Campaign (an open government group) gave McCollum its "Golden Leash'' award for accepting $373,857 in campaign cash from the banking and financial service industries while using his position on the Banking and Financial Services Committee and the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee to promote anti-consumer credit card legislation. Here is a link on the award.
The Republican Party is in a sure-fire pickle. They can't stand moderates -- really they can't -- but the available evidence for the last two election cycles suggests they can't get their preferred candidates (namely, anti-taxation, pro-corporate, illegal immigrant hunters who think Barack Obama is a foreign Muslim and who stockpile guns in their mother's basements) elected.
In fact, most of the successes the party has had in winning elections in recent years have been with candidates who at least tried to appear moderate (former Gov. Christie Todd Whitman in New Jersey, former Gov. Pataki in New York, the ousted John Sununu in New Hampshire, Senators Snowe and Collins in Maine, and even the Bushes: Jeb, who dropped the "probably nothing" approach to ethnic politics, sucked up to black and Hispanic voters and moderated his way to victory in 1998, and George W, who ran as a "compassionate conservative" for president in 2000...) Here in Dixie, where the Republican Party is now almost exclusively based, and where Saxby Chambliss (one of the many veteran-smearing GOPers to slime their way into office in recent years) still has a job, it's looking dicey for the GOP when they try to go the Club for Growth route, rather than the Bush (pre governing) route.
Enter Marco Rubio ... the young, Cuban-American Republican of the Future. He's good looking ... he can rip into Democrats in Spanish, just like Jebbie, and he's running on those vaunted "conservative principles," like refusing to take federal aide that could help salve a yawning, $6 billion statewide deficit run up by Republicans -- that wingers cherish (at least now that George W. Bush is out of office.) And yet, he can't catch a break. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, let by Texan John Cornyn, took less than 15 minutes to shove him aside and endorse yet another squishy "moderate," Barack Obama's fave GOP governor, Charlie Crist, for Melly Mel Martinez's Senate seat -- without even checking in with El Rushbo first -- and causing much head scratching and consternation among the qaida ("the base," for those of you not caught up on the lingo) who are rightly wondering whether a party leadership that has utterly failed to advance the winger cause for so many years, and which so thoroughly screwed up the country for the last eight, should get to pick Florida's GOP Senate candidate. For shame! And now, the Florida GOPers, who, like Dick "pick the stranger's car over his, kid" Cheney, would take El Rushbo over Colin Powell, are in mini-revolt:
Anti-Crist 'backlash' brewing
So national Republican party leaders have blessed Gov. Charlie Crist's campaign for the U.S. Senate and the chairman of Republican Party of Florida is ready to do the same. Case closed?
Not so fast. Sharon Day, the party's national committeewoman, is refusing to sign off on a statement that would allow the state party to start providing Crist with support even though he's running in a contested primary against former House Speaker Marco Rubio and other lesser-known candidates.
The Hillsborough and Brevard local parties have passed resolutions protesting the state party's efforts to close ranks, and Palm Beach Republicans are considering the same.
Throw in the RedStaters, who are pledging to starve the NRSC of cash as payback for not towing the Club for Growth line, all because of their love and support for Hispanics (stop that laughing!) and you've got yourself a veritable teabag party of right wing fury! OMG, wait till Cornyn finds out the guy is gay! God, I love politics!
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
With all the media excitement over Charlie Crist apparently becoming the next Senator from Florida before a single primary vote has been cast ... ahem ... and despite all the attention Marco Rubio is getting for getting the shaft from the NRSC, Charlie and Marco aren't the only candidates in the race. Dr. Marion Thorpe, an African-American physician who frankly, has been running for the Republican Senate nod before either of the other two guys, issued this statement today (for which he helpfully tagged me on Facebook...)
THORPE For US SENATE Statement: The Protocol and Fairness of the 2010 Race
Dr. Marion D. Thorpe, Jr., candidate for U.S Senate in the state of Florida remains 100% committed to all laws and notions affording open and fair election processes in our Nation. In response to the growing disagreement between the state-wide Republican Party of Florida and Florida's County Republican chapters and grassroots activists, Dr. Thorpe has issued the following statement:
I support efforts of party activists to pass resolutions throughout the state of Florida in support of an open and fair Primary Election process.
While I welcome the Governor into the race, I do so with the hopes of having a spirited debate about who can be the best standard-bearer for the Republican Party, the state of Florida and the Nation as a whole.
In a free republic we have elections, not coronations.
I do so hope that Governor Crist and Speaker Rubio will join me in support of these resolutions.
Marion D. Thorpe, Jr. MD MPH
Chief Medical Officer (Former) Agency for Health Care Administration State of Florida
Thorpe is also a conservative, who last time around ran against Alcee Hastings for Congress. We'll see if the media -- or the qaida -- gives him any love.
The RedState crazy train finally makes a stop in Florida
So... the guys over at RedState (when they're not desperately Googling for proof that Barack Obama is not really an American citizen, or stockpiling guns inside their moms' garages...) have launched a war ... against Republicans. Specifically, they're going to war against the Republican Senate Campaign Committee for the offense of supporting Miss Charlie for Senate. Cue the circular firing squad, in which the RedStaters attempt to ... (sorry, I started laughing and nearly choked myself...) stand up for DIVERSITY!
I’m reminded of a quote from the media a couple of months ago that conservatives could not support Charlie Crist in Florida because of his support for diversity initiatives. The reporter failed to them point out that these white Christian conservatives were supporting the Latino candidate.
Tom Slade, a former chairman of the Florida GOP, said popularity always trumps ideology, and he predicted Crist easily would win the Republican nomination.
That, he added, that might be good for the party as a whole.
“There are not enough blue-eyed, white, blond guys and girls who go to church three times on Sunday and once on Wednesday to make up a majority for the Republican Party almost anywhere,” Slade said. “If we don’t broaden the party, there won’t be much of a party left.”
Yes, so let’s broaden the party by electing a white guy instead of a Latino.
So... RedState.com is where you go to be in solidarity with Latinos? ... Ooh, and they have a Facebook page, too! These Republicans are so tech savvy! ... Except that the purpose of the Facebook page is to bankrupt the entity whose job it is to get Republicans elected to the Senate ... where currently there are only 40 Republicans ... um ...
At some point, I'm going to start thinking that wingers don't actually want to win elections. Which brings me to a great quote from Larry Wilkerson in that chilling TWN post:
... fewer Americans identify as Republicans than at any time since WWII. We're at 21% and falling--right in line with the number of cranks, reprobates, and loonies in the country.
By the time we get to November 2010, there could be a dozen people running for the seat Rep. Kendrick Meek is vacating to run for Senate, locally, there will be a whole new Miami Gardens city council plus a new mayor (all but one, including Mayor Shirley Gibson, term out...) and candidates spilling into races ranging from Miami-Dade School Board (Solomon Stinson appears to finally be heading into his dotage,) the state legislature (who will fill State Sen. Fredrica Wilson's seat once she vacates it to run for Congress?) and on and on. The same is true at the state level, where the agriculture commissioner, attorney general and insurance commissioner -- in other words, the whole cabinet -- looks to be vacating their seats in order to run for some other seat.
Alex Sink, who declined to run against her friend Charlie Crist for Senate, will run for governor instead, possibly against the sitting attorney general, Bill McCollum (who Sideshow Mel Martinez once famously (and slimily) called "the new darling of homosexual extremists" when he ran against him for the Senate...) Agricultural Commissioner Charles Bronson, whom I always picture toting a big gun and taking out drug dealers on a dark, misty dock someplace, could jump into that race, too ... and we all know Miss Charlie is running for Senate ...
Tomorrow, barring a direct hit lightning strike or some other unforseen event, Charlie Crist will call a press conference and announce that he's running for Senate. That's no big surprise, since polls show he would be the instant favorite in a race that currently features not a single statewide name brand. What will be interesting will be to see if the popular politician with the permanent tan is ready for what comes next: the brutal beating he's going to take from both Marco Rubio on the right (for supporting Barack Obama on the stimulus package) and from the Democratic contenders, who are already slamming him as akin to a father abandoning his family during a hurricane, for quitting his job to run to Washington "when the going gets tough."
Crist has positioned himself perfectly for the win: he's still a popular figure, known statewide by his first name, and he's been ideologically malleable enough that he hasn't generated animosity where it counts: in the middle. I can tell you that among my black Democratic friends, I know several who say they will support Crist, give him money, and vote for him. None of them are Republicans, and ALL of them gave money to, supported, and voted for, Barack Obama. Crist is pals with the state NAACP president, Adora Obi Nwezi, he retains good will among black voters for supporting the right of two wrongfully convicted men, Pitts and Lee, to be compensated for their suffering, and there's that lovefest with President Obama when he thanked the governor lavishly for supporting the stim.
But that won't stop the s---storm that's coming Charlie's way. Including the fact that he's about to be outed, yet again... (wife notwithstanding, and by the way every source I have who works in Tallahassee says he's gay, too...) with the full assent of the political right, putting them, ironically, in the same tent with the Perez Hilton wing of the gay rights movement, which is going to pour money, time and energy into defeating him as payback for his opposition to gay marriage and adoption (which they see as hypocritical...) Throw in Florida resident Rush Limbaugh, who hates Charlie's kind of moderate Republican, Marco Rubio and his band of Elianeers who will torch him on Spanish-language radio to cut into his South Florida numbers, plus the right wing of the GOP, the Club for Growth wierdos and probably Jeb Bush and his "devious planning," and you begin to get the picture.
Charlie's in for a rough ride.
That said, my party would be crazy to believe he can't still win that seat. For one thing, Barack Obama won't be on the ballot this time, though he'll probably be called on to campaign for the Democratic nominee. For another, about four in ten Floridians are unafiliated with any political party, and Charlie has positioned himself as something of an Indie. The wingers may own this state by virtue of the headcount in the legislature, but Florida ain't Alabama... well much of it isn't, anyway... so the fight for the center will be fierce. ... and by fierce, I cast no aspersions on Miss Charlie or her peoples.
Meanwhile, there could be another consequence of Charlie vacating his governor's chair: open seats ... everywhere ... (which is great news for Democrats.)
No love for Charlie: Marco socks the gov en los cojones
It's Tan vs. Pretty in the Florida Republican race for U.S. Senate. Starting for the Tan team: Charlie "Tooootally Straight Guy" Crist. For Pretty: genetically blessed, bilingual right winger Marco Rubio.
Charlie Crist is the front runner in the race for Sideshow Mel's Senate seat according to all the polls, and he isn't even in the race yet. But that hasn't stopped both the Democrats, and the Club for Growth wing of the Republican Party from kicking him in the can.
First the DSCC launched a TV ad against the guvnah, accusing him of abandoning the state in its time of need by ... not ... declaring that he's running for Senate... an ad clearly meant to send Crist a message in advance, that the Democratic Party is willing to go to war against even an Obama-friendly GOP governor, who has supported the president when it counted, in order to get that seat.
Charlie (center) and Marco (left) in happier looking times
Now, a pair of Democratic strategists have outed Rubio for doing the old Spanish-language double take -- saying one thing about Charlie in English and another en Espanol (hey, don't we often accuse terror-luvin' Arabs of doing that?) Generation Miami reports:
Two Marco Rubios announced their intention to run for Senate today. One Marco Rubio spoke in English and said his campaign will be “based on ideas” and isn’t “against anyone or anything.” The other was a Spanish-speaking Marco Rubio that accused President Obama on Univision of wanting to implement “American socialism here in the United States.” This wouldn’t be the first time you see this linguistic dichotomy. In May of last year, Rubio told former Herald reporter, Rui Ferreira, that Obama was a socialist.
And now for the juciest bit of all: the possibility that Jeb Bush, the miserable, but astonishingly, still sought after former governor (who has no love for Charlie,) could jump into the race on the side of the current GOP underdog, Rubio. Question: if Jeb jumps in and puts his money, name and rep on the line for Marco and Charlie still wins, does that mean that there IS still a moderate wing of the Republican Party, but it, like the crazy right wing part, is located only in the South...? Or does it just mean that the GOP really is dead as a doornail?
According to The Hill, step one for Marco is to Obamatize Crist:
Rubio has already begun trying to bring Crist’s numbers down, and he’s getting a big assist from Democrats wary of Crist’s bipartisan appeal in the general election.
For his part, Rubio has been indirectly hitting Crist for not offering an alternative to the Democrats — a nod to the stimulus — and repeatedly referring to him as “famous” — a line of attack similar to a Democratic tactic that has portrayed Crist as a golden boy lacking substance or results.
Um... doesn't his bipartisan appeal make him MORE electable, rather than less? Purity over electability strikes again...
And now for a blind item: behind the scenes, could someone or other be trying to talk Charlie into abandoning a Senate run, re-upping for governor, and reaping his blessings when Bill Nelson retires? (If I'm Charlie, I read the polls and I don't take that deal, but that's just me...) The cross-partisan plot thickens...
CBC members gush over Fidel ... now there's a bad idea!
There is a certain segment of the 60s-era left (the Ron Kuby segment, we'll call it) and of the 60s-ear African-American left, too, that remains enamored of Fidel Castro. Not sure if it's the favorable impression on black America when he first took power, even traveling to Harlem and staying at the famous Theresa Hotel, or Cuba's taking in black activist Assata Shakur after her cop killing conviction, or Castro's alleged abolishment of racism on the island (Kuby's love affair is due to the fact that he just likes revolution, according to a recent ep of his radio show.) However ... um ... Fidel Castro is a dictator, guys ... an actual one. And while I think the U.S. embargo of Cuba is a stupid anachronism that should be scrapped immediately -- especially since we're the only ones upholding it (while trading with and being bankrolled by Communist China) -- sometimes I wish that black folk with Castro affections would keep those particular feelings to themselves...
Lee and others heaped praise on Castro, calling him warm and receptive during their discussion. But the lawmakers disputed Castro's later statement that members of the congressional delegation said American society is still racist.
"It was quite a moment to behold," Lee said, recalling her moments with Castro.
“It was almost like listening to an old friend,” said Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Il.), adding that he found Castro’s home to be modest and Castro’s wife to be particularly hospitable.
“In my household I told Castro he is known as the ultimate survivor,” Rush said.
Meanwhile: President Obama will head to Trinidad & Tobago next week for the Summit of the Americas regional meeting, which will include Hugo Chavez, but apparently, there will be no one-on-one talks. However:
What if Chávez walks over to Obama during a coffee break, I asked. ''If they run into one another at a coffee break, my president is not going to run away from him,'' one U.S. official said.
Hey, and Chavez probably won't call Obama the Devil, either. Progress!
WASHINGTON — The House and Senate approved budgets of about $3.5 trillion for the government on Thursday with no Republican support, a sign of deep partisan tensions likely to color Congressional efforts to enact major policy initiatives sought by President Obama.
On the heels of House approval of its spending plan for 2010, the Senate voted 55 to 43 shortly before midnight to adopt a similar budget after a day spent laboring over politically tinged amendments that did little to change a fiscal blueprint generally in keeping with Mr. Obama’s ambitious agenda.
Democrats said the two budgets, which will have to be reconciled after a two-week Congressional recess, cleared the way for health care, energy and education overhauls pushed by the new president. The Democrats said the budgets reversed what they portrayed as the failed economic approach of the Bush administration and Republican-led Congresses.
The House version passed 233-196, with 20 House Dems voting no, along with all the Republicans. Two Senate Dems opposed their version (Evan Bayh (IN) and Ben Nelson (NE)...) which went through on a straight up or down vote. Lieberman, still on his best behavior, voted with the majority of Dems.
Dennis Kucinich voted "no" in the House, because the bill includes funding for what he sees as an expansion of the wars.
Said Kucinich: This budget is a statement of principles for the upcoming year, and I cannot accept it in its entirety. I will not vote for a budget that ties military spending to the operational funding of our government. This year, the budget includes $130 billion for war funding. The Washington Post reports today another 10,000 troops may be sent to Afghanistan, bringing our total number of troops there to as much as 78,000 by 2010 –- a more than 100% increase from today's troop levels. This budget is a plan that authorizes the expansion of the war. I simply cannot endorse a budget or a plan that sends more of our brave men and women to Afghanistan, a conflict which has the potential to become this generation's Vietnam."
What's interesting is that after all the sturm and drang, the budget whizzed through in the dead of night. Quietly, while Michelle and Barack were off courting the Queen. But Obama got pretty much everything he wanted, and it's hard to imagine the reconciliation version being much different than what he proposed.
John McCain's spending freeze went down in flames, as did the GOP Fudge-it. Go figure. But Republicans, by voting universally against the budget, have placed all of the consequences of it, good or not, in the hands of the party in power. It's one heck of a roll of the dice, and most likely, not a smart one. Remember Clinton's 93 budget? No GOPers voted for that one, either, and the party is still trying to convince Americans that Clinton's roaring economy was something they did. But in their delusions, Congressional Republicans see these votes, along with public anger over bailouts, as a way to take back the House.
By the way, it wouldn't be Congress if they didn't tuck in something for the rich, and here it is:
Among the amendments that won Senate approval was a bipartisan proposal that would raise the estate tax exemption by $1.5 million, to a total of $5 million, and reduce the tax’s maximum rate by 10 percentage points, to 35 percent.
I mean, we wouldn't want Biff not to be able to give his little Muffy's his all...
Meek's campaign says: when you think Kendrick, think Barack.
If he (and many other Black pols) had gotten his way, Hillary Clinton would have been the Democratic nominee for president in 2008. But politics is about the future, not the past, and Kendrick Meek's future has a whooooole lotta Barack in it.
Meek, who I hear plans to raise $25 million or more for his Senate run, already has Obama's deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand, who parked in South Florida for the final stretch of the campaign, on the payroll. Combine that with the Clinton fundraising machine in Miami and beyond (including Timbaland neighbor Chris Korge,) and longtime union friends like SEIU (who surprise! have endorsed him already) and Meek just might pull off that $25 mil and run away with the primary (recent polling here and here). But this campaign solicitation with Hildebrand's name on it might make some die-hard Obamaniacs chuckle:
I was fortunate to spend the final weeks of Barack Obama's campaign in Florida. The experience is one I won't forget -- the inspiration I felt from voters there was unique. My time in the state also gave me the chance to meet great leaders who worked tirelessly to help elect our President.
One leader in particular stood out, and that is Congressman Kendrick Meek. [Emphasis added] He inspired me. His commitment and dedication to helping Barack Obama win the presidency made a real difference. I owe a debt of gratitude to Kendrick for all that he did to help win those 27 critical electoral votes.
The Florida victory was long overdue -- you all know it better than I do. The results of the November 4 elections give Floridians the chance to capitalize on the momentum it provided. So when Kendrick decided to run for the U.S. Senate and make the bold move to get out there early, I asked myself, "Where do I sign up?" ...
... and can they afford my fee!? (spoiler alert: "yes they can.") Okay, maybe that's too cynical. Politics, after all, is the art of the possible, and its possible that Obama supporters no longer care who supported whom during the primary. In fact, most people probably don't. And by Obamatizing his campaign, Kendrick hopes to capitalize on the excitement of the 2008 campaign, particularly among black voters, which is smart. He's also hitting up Obama donors early, the better to raise that $25 mil. Smart times two. And he's going big early to get his name recognition up. Smart move number three.
Still, the idea that Meek was the bestest of all the pro-Obama leaders will likely come as a surprise to Robert Wexler, who was the first politician to endorse Obama in Florida, or to State Sen. Fredrica Wilson (now running for Meek's House seat) who worked tirelessly for Obama dating back to 2007, when she pointedly asked me in August of that year during an interview, how any Black elected official could fail to support an intelligent, qualified candidate like Obama; or to State Sen. Dan Gelber, Meek's main primary opponent at the moment (unless Pam Iorio or Ron Klein get in,) who also endorsed Obama during the primary, and whose campaign manager, Steve Schale, ran the Florida for Obama campaign, or to Manny Diaz or Miami Gardens Mayor Shirly Gibson or all the other pols who stumped for Obama for like, ever.
Then again, it's possible that nobody remembers or cares about any of that stuff, either.
Hat tip to Youzentoube. From last week on SFGATE, but still a classic:
I see you out there. I know you're lurking, seething, sending me angry letters, posting nasty comments in anonymous forums across the Interweb, not merely enraged that I and millions like me dare to support President Obama's massive overhaul of the enormously flawed American idea, but that I also dare to see him as exactly the finest and most intelligent and, yes, even integrity-filled progressive visionary we could possibly hope for at a time like this.
You are fuming in disbelief. How can I not see it? How can the vast majority of the country not see it? How is it that no one but you and a few manic fringe writers seem to notice that President Obama is either A) a thinly veiled socialist commie instigator hell-bent on destroying America from the inside out, or B) nothing more than a cleverly disguised corporate-loving Bush clone because, oh my God, haven't you seen his policy on H1Bs and faith-based initiatives and his nefarious plan to take over the banks and, um, something else you can't quite remember right now but you're sure is really, really damning?
You are slamming your fists on your keyboard. Why doesn't the world get it? That it's all just the same old cronies rearranging the same old powermad furniture, a giant shell game Decepticon robot evil nightmare?
Oh, you poor dear. What utter, crushing frustration you must feel. Especially since the other side, the conservative side -- maybe it was your side? -- had its grand shot at running the show. It ran every sour idea, pushed every extreme right-wing economic scenario, wasted trillions on a failed war, spit on gays and kowtowed to the fundamentalists and shoved the country so far to the right we fell off Ted Haggard's massage table.
And alas, "unmitigated disaster" doesn't even begin to cover what happened next.
The pain without gain keeps coming for the GOP, and this time, it's coming to Florida, home of the fat one with the golden microphone...From Jen O'Malley Dillon, the new executive director of the DNC:
If you're anything like me, then you've had the urge to talk back to a right-wing talk radio host more than a few times. Now you can.
Rush Limbaugh has made waves lately about his desire to see President Obama fail. And he's unapologetic, even though Americans voted in November for the very kind of change the President is bringing to Washington. As even Limbaugh must know, if the President fails, America fails.
Incredibly, Republican leaders have yet to condemn Limbaugh for his destructive comments. In fact, Republicans like Congressman Eric Cantor, a leader in the House, have adopted the Limbaugh strategy, telling the Washington Post recently that their strategy on the President's jobs plan was "just saying no."
The only Republican leader to challenge Limbaugh -- the chairman of the Republican National Committee -- even called Rush to apologize just a few days later.
But we have no apologies for Rush, just a message. We need you to come up with a slogan, in ten words or less, that we'll put on a billboard where he can't miss it -- in his hometown of West Palm Beach, Florida.
Meanwhile, a Dem party source points out that Florida Republican Party chair Jim Greer was a big supporter of Steele's going into the RNC leadership showdown (he also strongly opposed the whole "Barack the magic negro" thing...) So does Greer feel good about his guy having to bend over and grab the ankles, as Rush would say? Who can tell... Perhaps it's time to ask Mr. Greer whose side he's on: the side of "failure"/Rush, or the side of the American people...
If you'd like to suggest a slogan for the billboard, go here.
The federal dole: the common denominator in GOP stim opposition
Let's see... our folksy friend Bobby Jindal doesn't want the stimulus money ... nor does the equally folksy Sarah Palin of Alaska, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Sonny Perdue of Georgia, and even some Democrats, like Phil Bredeson of Tennessee. Most of them say they only object to giving their unemployed residents increased benefits. But since they have now been informed by Chuck Schumer that it's "all or nothing," perhaps some of them will stand by their "conservative principles" and not take any of the dough.
Still, as many observers, including political scientist Larry Sabato, have said, it would be a lot easier to listen to that kind of fiscal "discipline" from people who weren't feeding so heartily at the federal trough. Because see, it turns out, the states that are turning up their noses at the federal dollars Obama is offering, happen to also be the states sucking down far more federal pork than, say, Florida, Michigan, New York or California, which send more taxes to D.C. than they get back (and where the governors have said, "yes, please show us the money."
According to the Tax Policy Center, here's how the numbers shake out, in terms of dollars received per dollar of taxes paid, in the latest year they have records for, 2005 (states where governors or Senators have taken a yay or nay position on the stimulus in bold*)
Crist names Fla. NAACP leader minority adviser The Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Gov. Charlie Crist has named Florida NAACP president Adora Obi Nweze as his special adviser on minority affairs.
Crist announced the creation of the position and appointment at a civil rights round-table discussion Thursday. It coincided with the 100th anniversary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and President Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday.
Crist said the appointment formalized a long-standing reliance on Nweze for advice on such issues as minority participation in state government and programs including equal access to education, health care and housing.
Yeah. He's running for Senate. Sorry, but Charlie didn't marry a lady just to stay around in Tallahassee, and moves like this scream "cross-over appeal..."
In Fort Myers today: President Obama and Charlie Crist team up
Let me say again, though I think I've said it before, that Charlie Crist is a very, very smart man. And ambitious. He neutralized lingering questions about his sexuality (at least in the press) by marrying a girl. And he didn't just marry any gil -- he married a rich socialite whose public image and net worth can only help his political fortunes.
He ran and won in 2006 as a moderate Republican, and succeeded in winning over a good number of Democrats (he also won 18 percent of the Black vote.)
He has somehow gotten away with flitting off to Europe for a $400,000 junket, having neutralized the story with ... the wedding to a girl...
When McCain ran for president, Charlie backed him instead of Uncle "Loser" Rudy, and even suffered the indignity of getting onstage with Sarah Palin AND shucking for oil derricks off the coast of Miami, all in an attempt to become vice president.
And when that didn't work out, he went back to being a moderate, and most recently stepped out publicly in support of President Obama and the economic stimulus package, becoming the most prominent governor -- and the first prominent Republican in the country, to do so. He did it early, and he did it at the same time El Rushbo and his former candidate, John McCain, were doing everything in their power to play spoiler.
I want to start by thanking your governor, Charlie Crist, for joining us today. Governors understand our economic crisis as well as anyone; they're on the front lines dealing with it every day. And Governor Crist shares my conviction that creating jobs and turning this economy around is a mission that transcends party. When the town is burning, we don't check party labels. Everyone needs to grab a hose!
Governor Crist and governors across the country understand that. Mayors across the country understand that. And I think you understand that, too. Which is what I want to talk about today.
Crist's embrace of the stiumulus is good policy and good politics, especially for a guy who may yet run for Senate (against, among others, Kendrick Meek, who press released his "accompanying" of President Obama to Fort Myers "aboard Air Force One" yesterday, but who didn't get much of a photo op out of it, while Crist got to introduce the president), and who already has crossover appeal among Democrats, who sometimes appear to like him better than his own base does. In a state that's trending blue, pissing off a few GOP hardliners probably helps Crist, rather than hurting him, especially since his actions, unlike his silly "drill here, drill now" fakery, will likely result in billions of dollars flowing into the state, while his opponents are only promising to say no, and say it often.
Also in Politico: Crist says yes, Mel says no. (And wouldn't that contrast be helpful for a would-be GOP Senator running against the tide of Democratic salivating over 60 votes in the Senate... what if the 60th vote could be a guy named Charlie...?)
I'll be on with Ms. Helen Ferre on "Issues" again tonight at 7:30 p.m. on Channel 2 (if you're local) talking about the Ray Sansom (Florida's disgraced, ex House speaker) debacle. Oh goody, our own private Blagogate...
A banner ad right atop the Huffpo endorses Dan Gelber as the "progressive choice"(according to the folks at Down With Tyranny, anyway...) for Florida's soon-to-be-open Senate seat:
With all the ugliness and sleaze surrounding the appointments of new senators in Illinois and New York, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Delaware and Colorado, it's refreshing to see Florida cranking up for a good old fashioned election-- you know, where voters decide who the senator should be. In the afterglow of McCain's loss in the Sunshine State (plus the loss of two GOP congressional incumbents, a state legislature that is turning less and less red every year, and some sketchy-looking polls) conservative Republican incumbent Mel Martinez decided to retire in 2010.
The first choices among party Insiders-- Jeb Bush for Repugs and Alex Sink for Democrats-- have passed on the opportunity. That leaves the race wide open for both party primaries. This morning the hopes of Florida progressives was answered when state Senator Dan Gelber tossed his hat into the ring.
Dan isn't well-known outside of Florida but he is far better known in his state than most local legislators. That's because until November-- when he was elected to the state Senate-- he was the Democratic Minority Leader of the state House. And a very outspoken one at that. Before that he worked as a federal prosecutor, mostly on corruption and civil rights cases. He worked in the U.S. Senate as the staff director of the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations under Sam Nunn (D-GA).
It's very true that Gelber isn't that well known, and that Meek will have the advantage of Steve Hildebrand's turnout machine (which he used on behalf of Barack Obama in the recent election.) It remains to be seen if the Meek people can turn the Obama excitement into excitement for them. (Personally, I rather doubt that the Obama phenomenon can be recreated for anybody but Barack, but I'll wait and see how they roll it out. BTW check out the comments at the bottom of the DWT post. Brutal...) As for Gelber, he seems like a longshot to me, but then again, in a wide open race, a progressive candidate will have a shot. Another disadvantage though, he will be up against two major political machines: the Meek machine, and the Clinton machine. The former president was in town last week raising $300k for Kendrick. And the campaign, according to sources, hopes to raise more than $25 million for the run. Can Gelber match that with the help of the left end of the blogosphere? We shall see.
Now that he's married to a girl, Charlie Crist is being sought out for all KINDS of good stuff! The latest: the GOP is so starved for talent in the wake of the Jeb Bush withdrawal, some in the party are wooing Miss Charlie to run for Sideshow Mel's soon-to-be vacated Senate seat. From The Hill:
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) on Wednesday said efforts are ongoing to persuade Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) to run for his state’s open Senate seat.
“We’re going to continue to visit. It’s very early in the game, but recruitment is important and the ability to be competitive on the financial front is very important too. We’re working on both of those fronts,” Cornyn told The Hill.
Few Florida politicians can match Crist’s popularity and fundraising potential. The governor, a centrist who was elected in 2006, has denied any interest in running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Mel Martinez (R), but Cornyn, who has spoken to the governor about the race, suggested Crist may be open to persuasion.
Cornyn said he's also talked to Marco Rubio, and Florida's Senatorial Don Quixote, Bill "Kookoo" McCollum. Still to be seen: whether Kendrick Meek's Washington friends, including his newly minted campaign guru, Steve Hildebrand, can talk Alex Sink out of making a run on the D side. Of course, if she doesn't run, and Meek rolls over smaller fries like Dan Gelber, that will make it 12 consecutive years of his political life without an actual opponent or difficult race. Not exactly a good thing if you're about to take on a desperate Republican Party for seat #60 in the Senate...
I've been struggling with writing an op-ed on the whole dust-up over Barack Obama inviting Pastor Rick Warren (the proverbial "chicken soup" for the soul-filled) to do the invocation at his swearing in. The trick: how to write that the gay (sorry, "GLBT") community has completely lost the plot, without incurring a torrent of emails calling me a fake progressive bigot (apparently, Obama is one of those bigots now.)
You see, what the Rachel Maddow/Keith Olbermann crowd has conveniently forgotten -- apparently having bought into the cartoon character version of Barack Obama sold to them by Fox News Channel, is that Barack Obama is now, and has been for a very long time, an evangelical Christian -- just like Rick Warren. As such, he, like Warren, opposes extending the term "marriage" to apply to gay or lesbian couples. Like many religious progressives, Obama supports equal rights -- namely, civil unions or domestic partnerships (which, by the way, also help straight, unmarried couples deal with such issues as health insurance and inheritance.) But he is not now, nor has he ever been, a proponent of gay marriage. By the way, neither is Hillary Clinton. Or Joe Biden. Or any Democrat who ran for president this year with the exception of Dennic Kucinich.
Apparently, the gay community missed the memo. And now they are shocked. SHOCKED! to discover that they can no longer support Obama because he does not support gay marriage. Well, okay. And apparently, the gay community has also discovered that black people are the enemy, because they, being a largely religious sort of people, also agree with the "purpose driven" preacher. Hm. Well count Latinos, Catholics, Methodists, Presbytarians, Asians and ... well... most everybody. The majority of Americans of all races, creeds and religions feel exactly the way Warren does about gay marriage. In fact, being pro gay marriage is a distinctly minority view. If you were to ban everyone who opposes gay marriage from the Inaugural, there would be nobody but Barney Frank and the aforementioned Mr. Kucinich on the National Mall. Even Obama wouldn't be able to show up.
Which brings me to a terrific post at the HuffPo by a guy named Bob Ostertag, a pretty out there gay man it seems, who makes a few really good points in this terrific post, which I could not have made better, since I lack his cultural perspective. And here are a few of them...
Brilliant point 1: is this any way to build a political coalition that's anything but marginal?
How is it that queers became the odd ones out at such a momentous turning point in history? By pushing an agenda of stupid issues like gay marriage.
"Gay marriage" turns the real issues of equal rights for sexual minorities upside down and paints us into a reactionary little corner of our own making. Yes, married people get special privileges denied to others. Denied not to just gays and lesbians, but to all others. Millions of straight people remain unmarried, and for a huge variety of reasons, from mothers whose support networks do not include their children's fathers, to hipsters who can't relate to religious institutions. We could be making common cause with them. We could be fighting for equal rights for everyone, not just gays and lesbians, but for all unmarried people. In the process we would leave religious institutions to define marriage however their members see fit.
That's how you win at politics, isn't it? You build principled coalitions that add up to a majority, and try not to hand potent mobilizing issues to your opposition in the process.
Brilliant point #2:is gay marriage really the most important issue on the table for gay people? Really?
Through years of queer demonstrations, meetings, readings and dinner table conversations, about gay bashing, police violence, job discrimination, housing discrimination, health care discrimination, immigration discrimination, family ostracism, teen suicide, AIDS profiteering, sodomy laws, and much more, I never once heard anyone identify the fact that they couldn't get married as being a major concern. And then, out of the blue, gay marriage suddenly became the litmus test by which we measure our allies. We have now come to the point that many unthinkingly equate opposition to gay marriage with homophobia.
Rick Warren is now the flash point, the one all our political allies, even Barack Obama, are supposed to denounce because he doesn't pass gay marriage the litmus test.
Brilliant point #3: Is Rick Warren really a smart enemy to choose?
Q: Which do you think is a greater threat to the American family - divorce or gay marriage? A: [laughs] That's a no brainer. Divorce. There's no doubt about it.
Q: So why do we hear so much more - especially from religious conservatives - about gay marriage than about divorce?
A: Oh we always love to talk about other sins more than ours. Why do we hear more about drug use than about being overweight? [Note: Warren is quite overweight.]
Q: Just to clarify, do you support civil unions or domestic partnerships?
A: I don't know if I'd use the term there but I support full equal rights for everybody in America. I don't believe we should have unequal rights depending on particular lifestyles so I fully support equal rights.
Q: What about partnership benefits in terms of insurance or hospital visitation?
A: You know, not a problem with me.
I have an idea: let's accept equal rights for all. Equal rights are the issue when it comes to national politics. That's Obama's position, and I think he has it right.
By the way, that's the exact same position Barack Obama has ... and the same one that, well, I have. Does that make me a bigot?
Ostertag's closing is perfect:
Just a reminder to all those gays and lesbians who never look beyond their cultural ghetto: we've got some serious problems going on in the world today that need to be addressed now. Global warming in particular can't wait. For thirty years Evangelical Christians have been the anchor that has pulled this country to the right, giving us first Reaganism and then Bushism. Wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. And a decade of world-threatening climate change denialism.
At a minimum, 80 million Americans identify as evangelicals, and up to double that depending on how you define evangelical. They are the largest single religious group in the country, and the fastest growing. They are not going away. Somehow, some way, queers are going to have to share this country with all these people.
I am delighted that there is a new generation of evangelicals that thinks the biggest issue isn't homosexuality but global climate change, AIDS, and poverty. And who "don't believe we should have unequal rights depending on particular lifestyles." I am so ready to make common cause with them. I couldn't care less about what they think of gay marriage.
I wish more people in the gay community would listen. Barack Obama has seized the opportunity to speak to those 80 million or so evangelicals, 72 percent of whom did not vote for him. By inviting Warren to the party, he has at least gotten their attention, and signaled to the country that he intends to do the opposite of what our current president did after being appointed in 2000. Then, George W. Bush decided to govern only his half of the country, and to screw the rest. Obama wants to be the president of an entire nation, not the "queer nation." And trying to force him to cotton to a narrow political agenda ... or else ... isn't exactly buying into the notion of a "new politics," which is more than just a cobbling together of the interest groups on your side. Obama isn't going to waste his time "paying back" constituency groups who got him elected. He's going to fix the country, starting with, as Joe Biden said today on "This Week," the most pressing issue of all: the economy. After that, he's got two wars, global warming, and major foreign policy challenges like Pakistan, India and the like, to tackle. Sorry, but gay marriage is not top of the list.
Sideber: And by the way, at the close of his quite downtrodden TIME Magazine article, John Cloud suggests that Barack Obama will now have to "do something very nice" for the gay community, like overturning "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" by fiat, or nominating an openly gay Secretary of the Navy. He says he's not holding his breath. He shouldn't. Obama is clearly a student of history, and will remember what happened when one William Jefferson Clinton made such an attempt at constituent payoff. The result, the aforementioned "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," wound up angering both the gay community, and the military, which remained alienated from Clinton until the end of his presidency. If Obama were to try to push the envelope, he too will lose a military whose rank and file remain majority Republican and often suspicious of "liberal" politicians, and in one fell swoop, he would undo the good will and currency he has carefully built up with his moderate appointments, and harm his ability to push his economic agenda through. Obama would do well to pass on this one.
Politico last week noticed something that my husband and I kicked around the other night. So far, Barack Obama has named lots of people: black people, white people (Hillary people...) lots of Senate people, governors, Westerners, lots of Chicagoans, New Yorkers and other northern folk, and even two Republicans (well, one Republican and one registered Independent who's staying on.) But he has yet to name a single person from the former Confederate states to his administration. Of course, it could be a lack of prospects. Per that Politco piece from December 14th:
"Who comes to mind immediately?" asked Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia. "No one, really."
"The leading politicians in the South at least for the last generation have been active as Republicans," Bullock added. "You just don't have Democrats that come to mind as the go-to person or the expert. It highlights the thinness of the Democratic bench in the South… The skill set is so depleted."
"Southerners are pretty sensitive to the stereotype that they are slow in mind as well as voice," the former aide said. "The risk to the president-elect is that if he doesn't appoint anyone from the South to top level policy positions, he is going to look like he is buying into the stereotype that there isn't anyone from the South smart enough to work for him."
For about a hot minute, I and many others thought that Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, who was a fixture at the Obama campaign office on Miami Beach, was in the running for HUD secretary. Apparently not. And there's also Alabama Congressman Artur Davis, who was rumored to be undergoing a vetting for some position or other in the cabinet (is there anything left?) But the cold, hard truth is that the South has been lost to the Democratic party since LBJ. Sure, Bill Clinton was able to win a few states in Dixie, but he was from there (as was Jimmy Carter.) And yes, Obama won his own Southern victories, in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and damned near Georgia (though internally, the Obama people really didn't think they'd win there, but it was smart to draw McCain south, and make him spend money.)
In fact, why should the president-elect reward a region that has not only rejected Democratic politicians and politics, but which has, of late, rejected the rest of the country, in no small part, by aligning with foreign and multinational corporations against the interests of American workers (in Detroit, but also in the rest of the industrial northeast.) The South is the bulwark of anti-unionism, "right to work" laws that strip workers of basic protections, and raw, nasty, racist politics (yes, still.) And because Virginia really is no longer a truly southern state (and in many respects, neither is Florida,) Obama can likely hold them, along with the growing research bedrock of North Carolina, without appeasing the southerners outright.
So I say, hear-hear, Barack. We've been forced to endure eight years of Texas hegemony (and blatant theft on behalf of the multinationals,) along with un-American behavior (domestic spying, torture, unnecessary war...) that might even make old Jefferson Davis blush. Let's let the Yankees rule for awhile.
A top aide to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg pushes hard for Caroline to be the next junior Senator from New York, and that's ruffling feathers among the non-upper crust (rather than just among Clintonistas, like before...) leading one assemblyman to state:
Rory I. Lancman, a state assemblyman, said that there was “a growing concern that high public office is being reserved for a better class of people — people who can buy into it like Michael Bloomberg or people who can come into it through their celebrity like Caroline Kennedy.”
Egads. And of course, up to now, in the 240 or so years of formal American existence, politics has been strictly reserved for the common man...
So what's their beef, as our current, class-cutting commander in chief might ask? They Hillaryites are angry that Caroline and her uncle Ted supported Hillary's new boss, Barack Obama, during the primary (but please, don't call it a jihad...) Make sense? No? Me neither.
After all, I think it was Barack Obama who just gave Hillary the second biggest prize of the election season (sorry Joe Biden)... namely, a nomination to be Secretary of State. Not exactly the boobie prize. And Hillary has shown her full (cough) and unwavering support for Obama since giving up the ghost on becoming president herself. So what gives, guttersnipes?
Could it be that if Caroline is named to the Senate, she is sure to win the seat outright by a landslide in two years, and then two more? Could it be the fear that the magic of Camelot, housed in both the Legislative and Executive branches (following the knighting of Obama by much of the Kennedy clan, let alone JFK's speechwriter...) could yet eclipse the magic of Clintalot, even with Bubba ensconced in his Harlem digs, or puttering around upstate, or back-slapping foreign friends at the U.N.? It could very well be so.
But is she qualified? That's today's debate in the New York Times (where one particularly snippy Dem compares Caroline to J.Lo. How rude...) Well, let's see ... Arkansas first lady ... U.S. first lady ... standing by your cheating hubby ... famous name, univesally known to voters ... Senator. Yep! She's as qualified as the last person to hold the job! Hell, what qualifications have their ever been to be a political leader, besides age? We have members of Congress who used to be on "The Love Boat," for god sakes, and the governor of California is The Terminator! (And trust me, if they changed that little Constitutional rule, "Come with me if you want to live" could very well become the oath of office on a distant January 20th.) This is America, Hillbots. Anybody famous can be elected to any office! ... Unless, of course, they're running against Barack Obama.
So suck it up, folks. Caroline should get the job, if only to reinvigorate not just New York politics, but American politics, which she would do, as a Senate ally of the main guy charged with the job, our incoming president. Senator Kennedy from New York. Get used to it, all over again.
It's official. The race for Florida's second Senate seat in 2010 is ON. From WaPo's Chris Cillizza:
Florida Sen. Mel Martinez (R) has decided against seeking a second term, a decision he will formalize shortly in the Sunshine State, according to an informed party source.
Martinez's decision was based on a desire for more free time and a less scheduled life, said the source. The first term senator also was an almost certain Democratic target in two years time although those familiar with Martinez's political prospects insisted his strengths in South Florida, coupled with his political base along the I-4 corridor, made his path to reelection possible.
Martinez's retirement ensures a competitive and costly open seat race in Florida. State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, widely seen as Democrats' strongest potential candidate, has apparently decided that she would not run but may well reconsider that decision given Martinez's expected announcement today. Democratic Reps. Ron Klein and Kendrick Meek as well as state Sen. Dan Gelber are likely to consider the open seat race.
On the Republican side, there may well be a push to recruit former Gov. Jeb Bush into the contest although that seems like a long shot. State Attorney General Bill McCollum will almost certainly be mentioned as will state Senate President Jeff Atwater and former state House speaker Marco Rubio. Reps. Vern Buchanan and Connie Mack also may consider a run.
Why do you think Rep. Meek suddenly discovered his long lost love for Barack Obama in the closing weeks of the campaign ... rather, his love for "just voting..."
The Florida Democratic Party chair, Karen Thurman, had this to say:
"With Sen. Mel Martinez's announcement today that he will not seek re-election, I would like to thank him for his service to Florida and the nation, as well as wish him all the best in retirement.
"Martinez's announcement ensures that Florida will be a central battleground in the 2010 election. Over the past three years, Democrats have made major gains in Florida winning three of the six statewide elections. We look forward to a strong Democrat winning this Senate seat to help implement President-elect Barack Obama vision of change and join Sen. Bill Nelson in representing Florida in the tradition of Bob Graham and Lawton Chiles."
Well, the bird has met its demise (even without Sarah Palin looking on,) the tryptophan has kicked in (I overslept and had to do my radio show by phone this morning, but Roland Martin was great! And those two glasses of wine didn't help!) ... and I'm going to make it through Black Friday without having to tramp through a mall (I refuse. Sorry, kids.) So now, since I've been skipping out on my blogging duties of late, here are ten things I think we can all be thankful for:
#1. Sarah Palin. She brought so much joy and laughter during the campaign, with her kooky vocab and inability to articulate her thoughts in anything resembling adult English. And she put the nail in John McCain's campaign coffin (sorry if that sounds like an age joke,) ensuring, even if he really couldn't have done so anyway,) that he wouldn't win. Thus, Sarah helped spare the country from four more years of Bush-like policies, along with the spectacle of herself playing a Bizarro World, Hilbilly Princess Di to McCain's doddering Charles. You betcha!
#2. John McCain. When he wandered in front of that camera during the town hall style debate, he made my year. Serioiusly. And by so debasing himself during the campaign, McCain has all but ensured that his rehabilitation will involve helping Barack Obama get much of his domestic agenda through the Senate. Thanks, Grandpa! (And thank Joe the Plumber for us when you see him next. Oh, that's right, you're not gonna see him again, because he's irrelevant.)
#3. Steve Schmidt. What a maroon. See #s 1 and 2 above.
#4. Right wing talk radio. Those of us who already thought you were irrelevant blowhards just weren't getting through until you called the Senator from Illinois a terrorist, Marxist Socialist and America elected him anyway. Thanks guys! By the way, Glenn, are you serious about seceding? If so, let me know what the rest of us can do to help you along.
#5. American voters. Well, 52 percent of them, anyway.
$6. Barack Obama. Yes we did.
#7. Tina Fey. See #1 above.
#8. David Letterman. See #2 above.
#9. Fox News. See #4 above. And what will you do at those press conferences now?
and last, but not least...
#10. George W. Bush. No, seriously. Had he not been such a rotten president, we might not be here, on the brink of positive change. And he's been damned funny to listen to over the last eight years, even as he was screwing up the world.
Oh, wait! One more thing! I'm also thankful for this video. Enjoy!
The Barack Obama-Bill Clinton convergence in Kissimmee is airing live now on MSNBC. It's something else. These two men have given about the strongest cross-endorsement by formerly bitter rivals that I've seen in politics (with the exception, of course, of Hillary.) Nice work on both men's parts.
John McCain may not intend to do squat for you, but if elected, he'll damn sure look out for Joe. ... the plumber. By the way, it's a great day to have a business called "Joe the Plumber," as this guy will probably tell you tomorrow ... or this guy ... or this guy here ... hey, I wonder if those guys had $250,000 in cash on hand to buy their plumbing businesses like "middle class" Joe? (And am I the only one who wouldn't think it's such a bad idea to "spread the wealth around" -- given that the opposite is "keeping the wealth in the hands of the wealthy and telling everybody else to go screw themselves???") That said, the CNN focus group hated all the "Joe the plumber" shtick. After about the 20th time, it was annoying... But Joe did get his 15 minutes of fame (or was that 90 minutes) ... and he'll always have his Youtube. Gnight Joe!
Hey, wait a second ... something about that Joe seems strangely familiar... could it be ... SHUT UP!!
Joe the plumber ... and those bald guys from the second debate!
The Weekly Standard lays out the "worst case scenario" for next year, and it's all stuff I like: more union protections, universal healthcare, making rich stock traders actually pay taxes, breaking the ideological stranglehold of right wing program directors on talk radio, withdrawing from Iraq... what's the problem, fellas?
Mac and Charles in better days, just after McCain won the Florida primary in January
After the GOP presidential campaign veers off the rails, Miss Charlie quits John McCain like a bad tanning parlor:
He says he will "try" to help McCain when "I have time."
He didn't have time over the weekend when he skipped a McCain rally before the UF-LSU football game, opting instead for a trip to Disney. The governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, managed to show up.
I was reminded of Crist, during his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, bailing out of an event with George Bush.
Truth be told, Crist will have nothing but time on his hands until after the election. On Monday, his schedule included nothing in the morning and a tour of two small businesses in St. Petersburg in the afternoon. ...
Sure hate it.
Turns out Crist was with Sarah Palin when she made her now infamous "palling around with terrorists" jab at Barack Obama on Florida's west coast, and he was also "palling around" with Sarah (and even introduced her,) at the Germain Arena when Sheriff Mike Scott entered the annals of campaign history. Crist's comments after the rally (the day after last week's town hall style debate) were cool, to say the least, and he was careful to preserve his bi-partisan bona fides, even while playing the good partisan soldier:
“There’s always a back and forth, especially toward the end of these campaigns,” he said. “I don’t know that it’s fun for anyone.”
Asked how much time he would spend campaigning for McCain this month, Crist said it was not his priority.
“I’ll be involved, but my first duty is to the people of Florida, to be their governor and I take that role very, very seriously,” he said. “So when I have time to be able to help, I’ll try to do that but I know where my first loyalty is to and it’s to the 20 million people that live in the state that I love.”
Crist was magnanimous in his assessment of Tuesday night’s presidential debate.
“I thought Sen. McCain did very well. In all fairness, I think Sen. Obama comports himself very well,” said Crist.
It should also be noted that the Florida guvnah also skipped the GOP convention. He probably doesn't enjoy big, rowdy right wing crowds who tend to boo moderate, not exactly completely verifiably straight Republicans like him, if you know what I mean. And Crist has had a good, solid relationship with Florida Democrats, who could also increase their numbers in the state house in November, and with groups like the NAACP, who have been horrified by the goings on at the McCain-Palin campaign. Why would Crist put all of that at risk for McCain, after McCain abandoned the reasonable wing of the party for the kooks?
Oh, and if I were Charlie's fiancee, I wouldn't bet everything I had on that December wedding. Getting engaged was kind of part of the veep marketing strategy, and well ... McCain, as we now know all too well, went another way.
Guess who will be rocking the mike, and the vote, for Barack Obama on Sunday? (If you guessed Beyonce's snotty sister's baby's uncle-in-law, you're on track...!) The celebs have been pouring it on for Obama over the last few weeks, with Tyler Perry, Forrest Whitaker, Cynthia Nixon (from Sex in the City), local baller Alonzo Mourning and out-of-towner Patrick Ewing just some of the celebs passing through. Let's guess who's getting the cool kids' vote this year... (by the way, no swearing, Jigga! Fox News is watching...!)
Inside John McCain’s campaign the expectation is growing that there will be a popularity boosting pre-election wedding in Alaska between Bristol Palin, 17, and Levi Johnston, 18, her schoolmate and father of her baby. “It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider. “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”
There is already some urgency to the wedding as Bristol, who is six months pregnant, may not want to walk down the aisle too close to her date of delivery. She turns 18 on October 18, a respectable age for a bride — and the same age as Barack Obama’s pregnant mother when she married his Kenyan father. The Democrat has already declared Bristol’s private life off-limits as far as his campaign is concerned.
The selection of Palin, 44, the moose-hunting governor of Alaska, as his running mate was one of McCain’s biggest gambles. It paid off handsomely at first, but she could benefit from a fresh injection of homespun authenticity, the hallmark of her style, provided by her daughter’s wedding after appearing out of depth away from her home state.
Way to pimp that daughter, Sarah! Yup-yup! But I sure hope the f***in redneck really does want to marry Bristol... otherwise that's going to be one short, miserable marriage.
Has John McCain really suspended his campaign, or is he just taking it with him to Washington? According to Politico, the list of attendees at today's meet and greet with President Bush include McCain, Sen. Obama, "the four Senate leaders and their chiefs of staff, and some five policy aides to the president, and White House press secretary Dana Perino according to the list." Accompanying Obama will be his legislative counsel, Ian Solomon. Hanging with McCain will be a campaign aide: economic adviser (and BlackBerry invention credit reassigner) Douglas Holtz-Eakin.
Well I guess if the campaign is suspended and he's got nothing else to do... Full list of attendees here.
McCain and Obama meet with Dubya today. Meanwhile, via an astute Politico commenter, a new SurveyUSA "snap poll" of 1,000 Americans finds little support for John McCain's debate delaying "time out" for his campaign. Key findings from the poll:
Should the debate be delayed? -- 50% say hold it as scheduled. -- 36% say hold as scheduled but make the focus of it the economy. -- 10% say delay it. -- 4% say they aren't sure.
Should the Presidential campaigns be suspended? -- 31% say continue campaigns as is. -- 48% say continue campaigns but focus on the economy. -- 14% say suspend campaigns. -- 7% say they aren't sure.
If Friday's debate is delayed, is that good or bad for America? -- 14% say good for America. -- 46% say bad for America. -- 35% say no difference. -- 6% say they aren't sure.
Going inside the tabs, it turns out those who support delaying Friday's debate tend to think McCain would win a debate with Obama, while those who support going forward, either as is or with a changed focus, think Obama would win. So again, the reactions are mostly partisan. Not exactly a win for McCain.
The Obama campaign finally comes out with that joint statement, more than 12 hours after Obama contacted John McCain privately, to suggest they put one out, and nearly eight hours after McCain double-crossed him by rushing before television cameras to try his "suspend the campaign!" stunt. Here's the statement:
Joint Statement of Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain
“The American people are facing a moment of economic crisis. No matter how this began, we all have a responsibility to work through it and restore confidence in our economy. The jobs, savings, and prosperity of the American people are at stake.
“Now is a time to come together – Democrats and Republicans – in a spirit of cooperation for the sake of the American people. The plan that has been submitted to Congress by the Bush Administration is flawed, but the effort to protect the American economy must not fail.
This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country. We cannot risk an economic catastrophe. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country.”
And in a smart move, I think, the campaign has taken a cue from McCain, and gone their own way, with Obama releasing the following statement on his own:
Speaking for himself, Senator Obama outlined the following principles that he calls on Senator McCain to support:
I believe that several core principles should guide this legislation.
First, there must be oversight. We should not hand over a blank check to the discretion of one man. We support an independent, bipartisan board to ensure accountability and complete transparency.
Second, we need to protect taxpayers. There should be a path for taxpayers to recover their money, and to turn a profit if Wall Street prospers.
Third, no Wall Street executive should profit from taxpayer dollars. This plan cannot be a welfare program for CEOs whose greed and irresponsibility has contributed to this crisis.
Fourth, we must help families who are struggling to stay in their homes. We cannot bail out Wall Street without helping millions of families facing foreclosure on Main Street.
Fifth, we both agree that this financial rescue package should move on its own without any earmarks or other measures. We have different views about the need for other action, but this must be a clean bill.
This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country. We cannot risk an economic catastrophe. This is not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem – this is an American problem. Now, we must find an American solution.
Sound principles, and again, Obama waxes presidential, while McCain just goes bat crap crazy. As Chris Matthews said on Rachel Maddow's show tonight, the McCain strategy is that every time the compass needle points to "true north," which is change from the party that's screwed things up, McCain pulls a "razzle dazzle" play. As Chris then said, "do you want four years of razzle dazzle?"
David Letterman rips into John McCain, per Drudge:
David Letterman tells audience that McCain called him today to tell him he had to rush back to DC to deal with the economy.
Then in the middle of the taping Dave got word that McCain was, in fact just down the street being interviewed by Katie Couric. Dave even cut over to the live video of the interview, and said, "Hey Senator, can I give you a ride home?"
Earlier in the show, Dave kept saying, "You don't suspend your campaign. This doesn't smell right. This isn't the way a tested hero behaves." And he joked: "I think someone's putting something in his metamucil."
"He can't run the campaign because the economy is cratering? Fine, put in your second string quarterback, Sara Palin. Where is she?"
"What are you going to do if you're elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We've got a guy like that now!"
The Obama campaign released a slew of comments slamming John McCain for his "stop the campaign, I want to get off" gambit. A few classics (besides Letterman, not to mention Jon Stewart, who's skewering him as we speak in the 11 p.m. broadcast of his show...)
Mickey Edwards, former Republican Congressman: “Oh, brother. What idiot came up with this stunt? It ranks somewhere on the stupidity scale between plain silly and numbingly desperate. McCain and Obama are both members of the senate and they're both able to help craft a solution if they wish to do so without putting the presidential campaign on hold; after all, I’m sure congressional leaders would be willing to accept their calls if they have some important insights to impart. And while one of them will eventually become president, neither one is president yet, nor is either one a member of the congressional leadership; I’m confident that somehow the administration and the other 533 members of congress will be able to muddle through without tapping into the superior wisdom and intellect of their nominees. Sorry, John; it really sounds like you're afraid to debate. This sounds like the sort of ploy we used to use in junior high school elections.” More
The Atlantic (Ambinder) “What is Politics?”: This is the time when politics matters the most, not the least. When the philosophical differences that each party organizes around are put to the test of reality. When conflict builds consensus, not by ignoring conflict. When the public craves answers and debate from their politicians. When the stakes of the presidential election could not be more acute. Comparative advantage: the best thing the presidential candidates can do now is to practice their politics honestly, not to abandon politics altogether -- itself, of course, a political move. Suspending your campaign basically says: all that over the past sixteen months? It wasn't important. Ignore what I said or did. Too late. The tough thing here for McCain is that nobody in Washington asked him to come back; nobody seems to need him to come back; and that Democrats simply do not trust John McCain's motives. More
TIME (Joe Klein): McCain suspends his campaign because of financial crisis? Oh please. Given today's poll numbers--even Fox has him dropping--it seems another Hail Mary (like the feckless selection of Palin) to try make McCain seem a statesman, which is difficult given the puerile tenor of his campaign's message operation. More
The New Republic (Jonathan Cohn): So, no, I don't think this is such a great idea. In fact, it feels to me a bit like McCain is trying to use this crisis as a way to prop up his political fortunes. More
TPM (Greg Sargent): If this version of events was true, McCain's public call for a suspension was anything but apolitical. If McCain had truly intended to keep this apolitical, he would have asked Obama to jointly suspend the debates and waited for Obama's private and definitive answer before going public. More
McCain had phoned Reid to ask about the prospects of him, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and others to sit down and work together on hammering out a bipartisan proposal.
"Sorry," Reid said to him, a Democrat close to Reid says.
Reid then read McCain the statement he had just put out: "This is a critical time for our country," says the Reid statement. "While I appreciate that both candidates have signaled their willingness to help, Congress and the administration have a process in place to reach a solution to this unprecedented financial crisis. I understand that the candidates are putting together a joint statement at Sen. Obama’s suggestion. But it would not be helpful at this time to have them come back during these negotiations and risk injecting presidential politics into this process or distract important talks about the future of our nation’s economy. If that changes, we will call upon them. We need leadership; not a campaign photo op. If there were ever a time for both candidates to hold a debate before the American people about this serious challenge, it is now.”
A source close to Reid said McCain didn't have much to say after that. Reid, the source says, thinks McCain's maneuver is a gimmick born from bad poll numbers and the fact that "debate prep must not be going very well."
Reid isn't about to let McCain come back to D.C. and grandstand for his campaign.
I don't know if I agree with E.J. Dionne about the innate intelligence of the American voter, but here you go:
All of a sudden, the culture war seems entirely beside the point, an unaffordable luxury in a time of economic turmoil. What politicians actually believe about the economy, what fixes they propose, whether they side with the wealthy few or the hurting many -- these become the stuff of elections, the reasons behind people's votes.
And nothing more exposes the hypocrisy of financial elites riding the coattails of those who revere small-town religious values than a downturn that highlights the vast gulf in power between the two key components of the conservative coalition. Even cultural conservatives will start to notice that McCain's tax policies are geared toward the wealthy investing class and Obama's toward the paycheck crowd. Even the most ardent friends of business have begun to argue that a re-engagement with sensible regulation is essential to restoring capitalism's health.
For some time, McCain's strategists figured they could deflect attention from the big issues by turning Palin into a country-and-western celebrity and launching so many ill-founded attacks on Obama that the truth would never catch up. The McCain strategists' approach reflected a low opinion of average voters, and some Obama supporters began worrying that their opinion might be right.
But those so-called average voters understand the difference between low- and high-stakes elections. They develop a reasonably good sense of who is telling the truth and who is not. And though it sometimes takes a while -- and a shock like this week's economic news -- these voters almost always turn on politicians who manipulate cultural symbols as a way to escape the consequences of their policies.
We'll see if he's right. I surely hope he is. But I suspect that even in the face of clear evidence that the GOP, McCain's party (whether he wants to admit it these days or not ...) is, and will continue to, pursue policies that benefit the monied elite at their expense, many lower-middle and middle class white voters, especially in the industrial heartland and certainly in the south, will continue to vote social issues and "culture," especially with a black man on the "European" ticket. These voters don't get, or simply don't care, what Republican party policies do to them, or to their finances, because they culturally ignore government. What they want is a president who "shares their values," and with whom they are personally comfortable. After that, the government can do its worst. They just keep trodding on. That, unfortunately, is America -- or at least a good 50 percent of it.
Five things the left doesn't understand about 'conservatives'
Whether you're talking about "fiscons," who want tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts! ... and the elimination of social spending; "socons," social conservatives who care mostly about abortion, stem cell research (read "abortion,") teaching the Bible's precepts in school instead of wicked "science," and a curious obsession with gays; or "neocons," whose main goal is to go to war with every country whose name starts with a vowel but isn't Israel -- people on the left just don't understand who they're dealing with. Liberals continue to think they can reason with or bring right wingers around, when in fact, they can't. Not ever. There is too stark a difference between the core beliefs of "red state" and "blue state" people, to bridge the divide.
In the end, what liberals, progressives, Democrats, whatever you want to call them, don't understand about the right can be summed up in 5 points:
1) Conservatives don't care about public policy. They care about social policy. The impact of their plans on the economy, working men and women, the middle class, families, whatever, is irrelevant to them. They care about regulating behavior to make it conform to Biblical law (or to prevent outbursts of dissent, too much free speech, etc.) and they care about winning elections and holding onto power. Public policy is for Democrats. 2) Conservatives don't care about governing. They hate government, except to the extent that it provides people aligned with them with lucrative contracts and/or cushy jobs. Talk to any black Republican for instance, and of the first two reasons they'll give you for why they became Republicans, one will be "contracts." (The other will be either "tax cuts" or "school vouchers." Somewhere down the road, the really creative ones will throw out "Abraham Lincoln." Other than that, all conservatives really care about is winning elections and holding onto power (so that they can get more lucrative contracts and cushy jobs.)
3) Conservatives could care less if what their leaders are saying is true or not. It sounds true enough to them on talk radio and Fox News, so what's it to you? Modern conservatism has a strong authoritarian streak, so whatever the leadership says is gospel, and the followers' only job is to repeat the "truths," ridicule dissenters, and do everything possible to ensure that the leadership wins elections and holds onto power.
4) Conservatives don't give a flying rat's backside about the future. Many of them believe we're in the end-times anyway, so who cares if global warming shrinks the ice caps, or the Supreme Court reinstates the Salem Witch Trials or permits evangelical gun owners to shoot pro-choicers on sight. The world is disposable and meant for mankind to use, enjoy, and profit from. That's why the conservative response to global warming is denial, snidery, and bigger SUVs.
5) Conservatives don't care about substance. In fact, substance, detail and subtlety are seen as "elite" and effeminate. What the right cares about is symbolism, and the power of symbolism, combined with aggressive messaging, sensory bombardment (and when necessary, dirty tricks,) to help them win elections and hold onto power. Symbolism is why some women, including some who supported Hillary feel compelled to support Sarah Palin. Symbolism is the sum and total of the McCain-Palin campaign. It's not about policy, (i.e., what the Moose Mavericks might actually DO.) it's about making their followers feel good, vindicated and exhilarated about helping the powerful interests behind the GOP to ... wait for it ... win elections, and hold onto power. (On the flip side, Barack Obama has chosen not to use the symbolism of his run as the first black man to vie seriously for the presidency, for fear it would alienate white voters. That hasn't stopped some more open bigots on the right from calling him "uppity" for thinking himself above his station, but it tells you something the right may not know about the left: liberals hate symbolism.)
Most of all, conservatives hate everyone who isn't conservative. For all their self-pity over the "angry left's" demonization of all things Bush, the right is driven more by their hatreds than by their ideas (which can pretty much be boiled down to tax elimination (cuts are for bitches,) abolishing public programs that give their "hard earned money" to "lazy," poor, disabled and old people (though many of them are poor, disabled and old,) privatization to produce maximum wealth for corporations (because they do the trickling down,) deregulation of business and guns, extensive regulation of private behavior (including government surveilance and outlawing of abortion,) and frequent war, to replenish the stock value of war-releated manufaturers while keeping the country focused on fear and jingoism, rather than on the flaws of "conservative" leadership. Just listen to right wing vs. left wing talk radio. Notice how angry the right sounds; how hyper. Scroll down to the posts under any story about Barack Obama, and note the venom. This morning on "Imus," the WaPo's religion writer said the most vicious, frightening emails she gets when she dares to critique Sarah Palin are from professed Christians. And yet, the right delights in styling itself as the victim of left-wing "hatred."
But what the right doesn't understand about the left is that liberals don't necessarily hate conservatives. They just think they're narrow minded, selfish and stupid (a point on which much of the world, sadly, agrees,) and that their beliefs subject America to caricature and ridicule.
The ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee is seeking information from the nonprofit University of Chicago Medical Center about jobs held by Sen. Barack Obama's wife and one of the senator's best friends.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa on Friday sent the center a letter saying he was "troubled" by recent news reports about the hospital's efforts to steer patients with non-urgent complaints away from the center's emergency room to local clinics. Michelle Obama was a key figure behind the initiative.
The letter, which Grassley released to the public yesterday, does not directly mention the Democratic presidential nominee, his wife or his campaign. Grassley asked for financial data, board minutes and other documents related to hiring, job promotion, business contracting and care for the poor.
Are taxpayer dollars being spent in pursuit of politics? Look into it, Dems...
Someday, we may hear what Sarah Palin has to say, and what she thinks about the world, and about domestic and foreign policy, in her own words. But not this day. Today, we hear from the flaks. From the Washington Post:
Since Sunday night, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been holed up in her suite in the Hilton Minneapolis while a parade of Sen. John McCain's top advisers have briefed her on the nuances of his policy positions, national politics and, above all, how to introduce herself to the national audience she will address Wednesday night at the Republican convention.
Sitting around a dining room table, the McCain team has talked to her about Iraq, energy and the economy, but has focused on what she should say in her speech, struggling almost as hard as she has to prepare for what will be, along with a debate in October, her main opportunity to shape the way she is viewed by voters. Not anticipating that McCain would choose a woman as his running mate, the speech that was prepared in advance was "very masculine," according to campaign manager Rick Davis, and "we had to start from scratch."
... Aides to McCain and Palin were still debating elements of the speech, according to several GOP sources familiar with the process, including whether the governor should make reference to her 17-year-old daughter's pregnancy. On Tuesday, Levi Johnston, the high school student Palin has said her daughter plans to marry, left Alaska to join the Palin family at the convention.
In the speech, Palin is likely to emphasize her areas of policy expertise -- particularly energy and political reform -- rather than focusing on her biography or gender. An initial version of the address, which speechwriter Matthew Scully started crafting a week ago for an unnamed male vice-presidential pick, included plenty of attacks aimed at Democratic nominee Barack Obama along with ample praise for McCain, aides said. But they said Palin's speech will focus more on substantive matters.
"There's an expectation that she doesn't have a depth of knowledge on issues," said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds. "That's absurd."
The stakes for Palin are much higher than they were for her Democratic counterpart, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has run for president twice and has served in the Senate for 35 years. Several GOP strategists said Palin, who has been governor less than two years, needs to establish herself as someone who is credible as a potential president. "She's like any new person or product on the scene -- she's got to prove she can handle the job, that she's got the presence and suppleness of mind to be a heartbeat away from the presidency," said Ben Ginsberg, who was a senior adviser to McCain's GOP primary rival Mitt Romney.
In an effort to prevent any damaging mistakes, the McCain campaign is orchestrating Palin's public introduction carefully. Except for an interview with People magazine the afternoon her selection was announced, she has not taken a single question from a reporter, and it remains unclear when she will speak to the national news media.
Yes, we know, they all use speechwriters, but we also know that like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama works extensively on writing his own speeches. Meanwhile, two key paragraphs on Sarah's preparedness to be president, not from the "liberal media," but from John McCain's friends:
"Obviously the governor of Alaska spends very little time on foreign policy," Davis said, though he added that if something were to happen to McCain, "I think she's got the judgment to do the things as commander in chief that John McCain would think are the right things to do."
Graham, who lobbied hard for McCain to choose their mutual friend Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) as his running mate, said Palin would be able to handle foreign relations in McCain's absence as long as she relied on his staff.
Well that should help us all sleep better at night.
Could the McMansions flap scuttle John McCain's plans to name Mitt Romney, the single richest candidate to run for president this cycle, as his running mate? Would this multi-million dollar ticket look like a scene out of Oliver Twist, given that even some conservatives have noticed how tilted McCain's tax plans are toward the very wealthy ... like himself and his wife?
Already, McCain's team is having to come to grips with the fact that given their candidate's houses comment, it's going to be tough going forward, to paint the skinny kid from a single parent household whose mom was on food stamps and who went to college on student loans (McCain went on the taxpayer's dime, though he opposed the same opportunities for today's veterans...) as the elitist in the race.
Add Romney to the picture, and you get to do fun things like go back through the net worth rankings from the primaries:
... revealing that even during primary season, Barack Obama was -- and stil is -- the poor man in the race. Since then (last December,) Obama's average net worth (over 12 months) has been revised down to $799,000, versus $36.4 million for McCain (not counting his wife's $100 million inheritance, which is sealed away from him via pre-nup.) Add Romney's $200- or even $250 million fortune, and these guys aren't even playing in the same league.
Can you go to hell for lying about Mother Theresa?
I may have to consult some Catholic friends on this, since I haven't been Catholic since I was like, six. At the Huffpo, Mark Nickolas explores the "evolving" story about just who promoted Cindy to bring home those two Bangladeshi orphans, a story McCain exploited so well with the, I think deliberate, help of Pastor Rick Warren last week.
Finally, the punditocracy has started to notice just how often John McCain plays the POW to get out of gaffes, political scrapes or all-around unpleasantness, usually of his own making. His press aide's frickin tirade about Obama living in a frickin mansion, and that John McCain is no pointy headed intellectual and besides, he spent FIVE YEARS IN THE HANOI HILTON SO SHUT UP!!!!
It's not just McCain. Sean Hannity threw down the POW gauntlet to try and excuse McCain cheating on his first wife then dumping her for Cindy as morally superior to John Edwards cheating on his wife but not dumping her for Rielle (Hannity's giant, kick-ball shaped head nearly exploded all over poor whats-his-name Colmes...)
And McCain's surrogates fling the POW card down every time their man is in a jam, (remember how they clam baked Wes Clark for stating the obvious (and how the media went along?) And the McCain camp even invoked the specter of Vietnam to stop the media from questioning why he wasn't in the "cone of silence" during Obama's portion of the Rick Warren debate.) When it was his turn at Saddleback, McCain drew for the Vietnam anecdote about half a dozen times, to the point that by the time he got to the "cross in the sand" made-up story, my eyes were all the way in the back of my head.
VetVoice reminds McCain that there are many vets out there who have zero homes.
And another retired general, Lt. Gen. Robert Gard of Veterans for Obama makes it plain:
It's time for the Senator to stop cheapening the war experiences of thousands of vets and his fellow POWs, and his own as well, by stretching the boundaries of logic to make his POW status a wild-card rebuttal to all accusations or an answer to all difficult questions.
We are veterans who like John McCain, who served honorably, but and we continue to serve our country honorably by not using our military experiences as unjustifiable necessary shields or stepping stones. John McCain has faced and will continue to face many difficult questions that he does not have an answer for, and problems to which that he will provide no solutions to, in the 70 days between now and the election. When he uses his status as a veteran to deflect legitimate questions and concerns, it devalues not just his service to our country but ours as well.
So today, we ask not as Veterans for Obama, but as Veterans of America that Sen. McCain respect the service of his fellow POWs and combat veterans, and stop cheapening their service by hiding behind his own.
Awaiting the hysterical fricken overreaction from another frickin McCain press aide...
In a story about Obama’s plans for a vice presidential pick, AP noted that McCain was considering Sen. Joe Lieberman, “the Democratic vice presidential prick in 2000 who now is an independent.” (Emphasis added.)
It occurs to me that John McCain is as intellectually shallow as our current president. When asked what his Christian faith means to him, his answer was a one-liner. "It means I'm saved and forgiven." Great scholars have wrestled with the meaning of faith for centuries. McCain then retold a story we've all heard a hundred times about a guard in Vietnam drawing a cross in the sand.
Asked about his greatest moral failure, he cited his first marriage, which ended in divorce. While saying it was his greatest moral failing, he offered nothing in the way of explanation. Why not?
Throughout the evening, McCain chose to recite portions of his stump speech as answers to the questions he was being asked. Why? He has lived 71 years. Surely he has some thoughts on what it all means that go beyond canned answers culled from the same speech he delivers every day.
... He was asked to define rich. After trying to dodge the question -- his wife is worth a reported $100 million -- he finally said he thought an income of $5 million was rich.
One after another, McCain's answers were shallow, simplistic, and trite. He showed the same intellectual curiosity that George Bush has -- virtually none.
And now for my favorite! John Lewis, the civil rights icon and Congressman from Georgia, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and gave the other memorable speech during the march on Washington, and who according to John McCain, would be one of the "three wise people" he would consult heavily while in office, says ... well, let's just let Mother Jones tell it:
This is not the first time McCain has invoked Lewis' name on the campaign trail. Earlier this year, in Selma, Alabama, he told the story of civil rights marchers trying to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in a 1965 march from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery. Waiting at the crest of the bridge were a brigade of police and state troopers who meted out an attacks so violent that the day is known today as Bloody Sunday.
Central in McCain's telling was John Lewis, a man of just 25 who was at the front of the march and absorbed the first blow. Millions of Americans, McCain noted, "watched brave John Lewis fall."
But even though McCain has now repeatedly cited Lewis as a role model and potential adviser, McCain has not established a relationship with the Georgia Democrat in the 22 years they have served in Congress together. At the time of McCain's Selma speech, a Lewis associate told my colleague David Corn that McCain has never been close to Lewis. Lewis was not told about McCain's speech in Selma in advance, nor was he invited to attend.
In response to McCain's latest invocation of his name, Rep. Lewis said in a statement requested by Mother Jones, "I cannot stop one human being, even a presidential candidate, from admiring the courage and sacrifice of peaceful protesters on the Edmund Pettus Bridge or making comments about it." But, he added, "Sen. McCain and I are colleagues in the US Congress, not confidantes. He does not consult me. And I do not consult him."
It took McCain years to fully embrace the goals that Lewis was fighting for on Bloody Sunday. In 1983, McCain voted against making Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday, in opposition to most members of Congress, including many of his Republican colleagues. In 1987, the governor of Arizona repealed the state's recognition of King; McCain supported the move. It was only in 1990, 25 years after Lewis marched in Alabama, when Arizona reversed its decision that McCain changed his own stance on the issue. ...
Maybe he should have consulted Lewis before dropping his name during his hour-long pander at Saddleback... I mean even Byron York wasn't buying this one...
The progressive Christian group has made a modest $20,000 buy in tomorrow night's Rick Warren forum at Saddleback Church, in which candidates Obama and McCain will be asked about their personal lives.
The ad emphasizes Obama's family ties and loyalty to his wife, back-handedly referring to McCain's failure to keep his vows to his first wife, whom he left for Cindy... it's a point one man in the ad, Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell (who famously officiated at Jenna Bush's wedding) emphasized when he blasted McCain for suggesting his strangely fragile wife Cindy ... (when exactly did you stop beating her again, John...???) try out for Miss Buffalo Chip... (at least he didn't try to shake her hand ... again...)
A deal has been reached to put Hillary Clinton's name in nomination at the convention, on August 27th. She is supposed to then cast her superdelegate vote for Obama, ask her supporters to do the same, and turn over her delegates. We'll see if it goes down that way.
Meanwhile, a judge says Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick CAN go to the convention, without an ankle bracelet! ... leading me to wonder, why in the hell does Kwame Kilpatrick think he should be at the convention? Is his goal to just keep embarrassing himself and the Democratic Party until someone actually slaps him? (sigh)
Last but not least, with all the ugliness that has surfaced about the Mark Penn memos exhorting Team Clinton to trash Obama as not quite American, the latest Atlantic bomblet is that if Obama picks Evan Bayh as his veep -- which he won't, because Bayh is boooooringgggg -- it could mean the return of the slimy Mr. Penn. Goody! |
Tom Mazzie's new organization sends a warning shot across the bow of Republican donors: if you fund a 527 that attacks Barack Obama, we're coming after you:
... the newly formed nonprofit group, Accountable America, is planning to confront donors to conservative groups, hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions.
“We want to stop the Swift Boating before it gets off the ground,” said Mr. Matzzie, who described his effort as “going for the jugular.”
The warning letter is intended as a first step, alerting donors who might be considering giving to right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.
... mega-developer Mel Sembler, one of the group's top funders to the tune of at least $3 million, might have missed the memo. The Palm Beach Post recently reported that Mr. Sembler and his company are under federal investigation for a $100,000 payment allegedly used to grease the wheels of local government in Florida:
A developer paid a $100,000 fee to lobbyist Hugo Unruh after being told it would be hard to win county approval for a traffic-throttling shopping center without him.
The message came from Boynton Beach Mayor Jerry Taylor, who at the time was a trusted aide to Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary McCarty.
Now the fee and Taylor's role have drawn the attention of federal investigators.
...St. Petersburg-based Sembler is a national developer of shopping centers and residential communities. It was founded by Mel Sembler, a major state and national Republican Party fund-raiser who is especially friendly with the Bush presidential family.
McCarty said Sembler is a political acquaintance whom she bumped into recently at a White House affair.
Bush has his 'tear down that wall' moment ... but not in China
George W. Bush stands up to the Chinese government ... but not in China ...
BANGKOK, Thailand - With all eyes on Beijing, President Bush planned to bluntly tell China today that America stands in "firm opposition" to the way the communist government represses its own people, a rebuke delivered from the heart of Asia on the cusp of the Olympic Games.
Bush balanced his chiding with praise for China's market reforms and hope that it will embrace freedom.
"We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly, and labor rights not to antagonize China's leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential," Bush is to say in perhaps his last major Asia address.
"And we press for openness and justice not to impose our beliefs, but to allow the Chinese people to express theirs," the president will add.
Bush's brought his message to Thailand, a turbulent democracy. The marquee speech of his three-country trip hailed deepening ties between the United States and Asia. He pledged that whoever follows him in the White House will inherit an alliance that is now stronger than ever.
The president planned to quickly pivot from his speech to a full day of outreach toward the people of Myanmar, also known as Burma, who live under military rule across the border.
Yet heading eagerly to the Beijing Olympics himself as a sports fan, Bush faced pressures all around: a desire not to embarrass China in its moment of glory, a call for strong words by those dismayed by China's repression, and a determination to remind the world that he has been pushing China to allow greater freedom during his presidency.
Of course, there's always a rub:
"The leadership in Beijing will almost certainly find his comments irritating or objectionable," said Sophie Richardson, the Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "But they will clearly understand that the United States will not impose any real consequences if they do not make progress on human rights."
Well there you go.
Our sports fan in chief was so determined to go to China for the opening ceremonies, he apparently has completely missed the irony that a fellow American won't be there:
US Winter Olympic speed-skating champion Joey Cheek, a prominent member of the Team Darfur activist group, saw his Chinese visa allowing him to attend the Games cancelled.
"We were disturbed to learn that the Chinese had refused his visa," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
Perrino added that the U.S. has " sent in our embassy in Beijing to démarche the Chinese," and "hope they change their mind." In other words, the Bushies plan to complain vigorously, and hope the prez enjoys the games.
Aug. 7 (Bloomberg) -- A Sudanese-born runner who is a member of an athletes group critical of China's policies toward Darfur was chosen to carry the U.S. flag in the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.
Lopez Lomong, a 1,500-meter runner who became an American citizen 13 months ago, was selected last night in a vote of captains of the sports squads on the U.S. Olympic team.
The 23-year-old Lomong will carry the Stars and Stripes at the head of the U.S. delegation of athletes, coaches and administrators as it parades into the Bird's Nest stadium with the other 204 countries tomorrow night.
``This is the most exciting day ever in my life,'' Lomong said in a statement released by the U.S. Olympic Committee. ``It's a great honor for me that my teammates chose to vote for me. I'm here as an ambassador of my country and I will do everything I can to represent my country well.''
Harumphing wingers have taken to the airwaves, blogs and print pubs to express their outrage that anyone would dare suggest that they ... THEY ... would ever do or say anything racist regarding Barack Obama's candidacy!
[Pro-lynching country singer Toby] Keith has trained his sights on Barack Obama, attacking him in language that startled even the notoriously reactionary radio jock Glenn Beck. During Keith's appearance on the July 30 broadcast of Beck's show, he remarked, "I think the black people would say he [Obama] don't talk, act or carry himself as a black person."
"What does that even mean?" the audibly shocked Beck replied.
"Well, I don't know what that means," Keith drawled, "but I think that that's what they would say. Even though the black society would pull for him I still think that they think in the back of their mind that the only reason he is in [the general election] is because he talks, acts and carries himself as a Caucasian." (Audio)
And I'm sure Keith knows that based on all the members of "the black society" that he's in contact with on a more or less daily basis whilst his grandpappy's stringin' em up, I reckon...
At last, a genuine attack ad from the Obama camp. Reuters breaks it down:
CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama attacked Republican rival John McCain as a tool of big oil companies in a television ad released on Monday.
Seeking to tap into Americans' anger over soaring gasoline prices, Obama's ad opens with a shot of a driver pumping gas and refers to huge profits made by oil companies in the past year.
"Every time you fill your tank, the oil companies fill their pockets," a narrator says. "Now Big Oil's filling John McCain's campaign with $2 million in contributions."
The ad shows McCain standing next to fellow Republican President George W. Bush as the narrator says, "After one president in the pocket of big oil -- we can't afford another."
The ad touts Obama's plan to offer American families $1,000 tax breaks to help offset higher energy costs as well as the Illinois senator's proposal for a tax on windfall oil company profits. It accuses McCain, an Arizona senator, of seeking to give oil companies additional tax breaks.
Watch the ad:
Meanwhile, the candidates, and the parties, are slugging it out on the energy issue, including everything from clean energy (on the Obama side) to drilling (Big Oil's Republican minions in the House of Representatives are even threatening another good old fashioned government shutdown.) And the McCain people are reprising an anti-Kerry tactic, distributing tire gauges to mock Obama in the same way the same team, led by the same guy, Karl Rove protege Rick Davis, put out those purple bandages to mock Kerry's purple hearts:
McCain aides are distributing them to the campaign's travelling press corps and back at the HQ they're offering Obama tire gauges in exchange for donors who send in $25.
"John McCain says we need offshore oil drilling and we need it now," says campaign manager Rick Davis in an email to supporters. "Senator Barack Obama has consistently opposed offshore drilling - calling it a "gimmick." Senator Obama's solution to high gas prices is telling Americans to make sure their tires are inflated."
That's not his "solution" at all, and this latest gambit will surely bring yet more head-shaking disappointment from some quarters about McCain resorting to juvenile tactics.
But it seems increasingly clear that McCain is committed to the sort of aggressive and mocking campaigns that Republicans have been running against Democrats for years.
The battle in this election has been joined. The GOP is going to fight this thing on the basis of drilling, ironically, pushing the American people to side with the oil companies against the Democrats. They feel that they have a winner, and ironically, a hedge against rising gas prices. If they go up: the GOP can argue that we need to drill NOW. If they go down, Repubs will take credit, saying their call for drilling is having an impact.
How the Obama fights this will be a tough call. He can neutralize it by saying OK to the bi-partisan compromise that includes offshore drilling, and risk pissing off his base... He can stand fast against drilling and watch his state by state poll numbers slide, and continue to be RickRoved... or he can go on the offense, as he did in the new ad, by lashing John McCain to greedy oil profiteers, and the two oil men in the White House. I vote for number three, plus number one. But he's got to come hard, and get ugly.
It's not a comfortable look for the Democrats, but at least it takes the campaign off of the subject of race (though I'm sure not for long...)
WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 22,000 veterans have sought help from a special suicide hot line in its first year, and 1,221 suicides have been averted, the government says.
According to a recent RAND Corp. study, roughly one in five soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan displays symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, putting them at a higher risk for suicide. Researchers at Portland State University found that male veterans are twice as likely to commit suicide than men who are not veterans.
This month, a former Army medic, Joseph Dwyer, who was shown in a Military Times photograph running through a battle zone carrying an Iraqi boy, died of an accidental overdose after struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder for almost five years.
Janet Kemp, national suicide prevention coordinator for the Veterans Affairs Department, said the hot line is in place to help prevent deaths such as Dwyer's. "We just want them to know there's other options and people do care about them, and we can help them make a difference in their lives," she said in an interview.
The VA teamed up with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to launch the hot line last July after years of criticism that the VA wasn't doing enough to help wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. In April, two veterans groups sued the VA, citing long delays for processing applications and other problems in treatment for veterans at risk for suicide. The department has spent $2.9 million on the hot line thus far.
The hot line receives up to 250 calls per day — double the average number calling when it began. Kemp said callers are divided evenly between veterans from the Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam wars. Richard McKeon, public health adviser for SAMHSA, said 10 to 20 of the 1,575 calls received each week have to be rerouted to high-volume backup call centers throughout the country.
The VA estimates that every year 6,500 veterans take their own lives. The mental health director for the VA, Ira Katz, said in an e-mail last December that of the 18 veterans who commit suicide each day, four to five of them are under VA care, and 12,000 veterans under VA care are attempting suicide each year.
Meanwhile, the Huffpo has some reactions from VoteVets.org members to John McCain's smear campaign against Barack Obama. A sample:
Leaving aside for a moment the fact that Senator McCain has yet to clearly define what victory in Iraq looks like for the United States, it is extremely discouraging to hear such divisive rhetoric coming out of what Senator McCain promised would be a campaign "on the issues." During my time as a soldier and now as a civilian, I have never doubted that anyone on either side of the political spectrum has wanted anything less than the complete success for our troops. It is so unfortunate to see Senator McCain adapt the old tactic of baselessly calling a political opponent's patriotism into question as a campaign tool.
Neil Riley Ashburn, VA Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Army 2002-03 and 2004-05
The McCain campaign has been lurking around like vultures, looking for a crumb from the Obama overseas trip to turn into an anvil. They have it, and the ads are going up post haste:
Signaling a new aggressiveness, aides to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Saturday that he is going up immediately with an ad called "Troops" criticizing Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for canceling plans to visit wounded troops at a U.S. military hospital in Germany.
The 30-second ad is to run during NBC's "Saturday Night Live" in Denver. Colorado is one of this election's most important swing states. On Sunday it will air in the Washington market and in Harrisburg, Pa., another key swing state.
An announcer says: "Barack Obama never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan. He hadn't been to Iraq in years. He voted against funding our troops. And now, he made time to go to the gym, but cancelled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras. John McCain is always there for our troops. McCain. Country first."
Then McCain says: "I'm John McCain and I approve this message."
Two questions for the Obama team: were they deliberately set up by the Bush Pentagon? And how long till they produce a response ad? They'd better do the latter quickly, and not get caught up in the "it wasn't a mistake" meme. Worse, the Obama camp's explanation, that he didn't want to exploit the troops politically, is frankly not going to fly in the environment the McCainiacks are about to create for him. The McCain people are meaner, and more desperate, than they are. They've got to constantly keep that in mind. As Josh Marshall puts it:
McCain's new ad, which you can see here, is really beyond disgusting. At this point I think it's clear that honor really doesn't mean much to McCain. When things get tough, as it is in this election campaign, there's no limit to what he'll do.
That may be true, but based on the headlines it's creating, which at this point are subsuming the positive headlines from earlier in the week, the Germany troops visit story will be THE attack thread of the next few weeks of the campaign, and the media WILL play ball.
McCain's campaign didn't have footage of Obama's actual trip to the gym Wednesday in Germany, so for the portion of their new ad when they ding the Democrat for making time to work out they flash imagery of Obama shooting hoops.
The problem, as noted by many emailers, is that the shots are taken are from a gym on an American military post. That's right, McCain's camp went after Obama for ditching a trip to see wounded troops with images of Obama's visit to see American military personnel stationed in Kuwait last weekend.
Good thing for McCain, the picture is too blurry to make clear Obama is with soldiers at the time.
Obama fans are reacting angrily, but I don't think that most of them realize how effective this line of attack can be, particularly with older, more conservative Democrats in key swing states. This is going to be pounded day after day on talk radio from now to the convention, and probably beyond. Despite the outrage of using DOD footage in a campaign ad, and the plain falsehood of the attack, the ad represents the way John McCain plays ball, and the way he will continue to do so throughout this campaign. Fasten your seatbelts. It's not by accident that McCain acquired the following commentary, cribbed with great thanks from a an anonymous commenter on Politico:
"His temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, that should disqualify him." - Former Senator Bob Smith, R-NH
"The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He is erratic." - Senator Thad Cochran, R-MS
"I decided I didn't want this guy anywhere near a trigger." - Senator Pete Domenici, R-NM
"There's nothing redeeming about John McCain...he's a hypocrite." - Former House GOP Whip Tom DeLay
"He is a vicious person. They so disliked him that they wouldn't support him." - Former Representative Charles LeBoutillier, R-NY
"What happens if he gets angry in crisis in the presidency? It's the president's job to negotiate and stay calm. I just don't see that he has that quality." - Former Arizona GOP Chairman John Hinz
"John McCain is Bob Dole minus the charm, conservatism, and youth. Unlike McCain, Dole didn't lie all the time while claiming to engage in 'straight talk.'" - Conservative blowhard Ann Coulter
"Hardheaded is one way to say it. Arrogant is another way to say it. Hubristic is another way to say it. Too proud for his own good is another way to say it. It's a quality about him that disturbs me." - Larry Wilkerson, former chief aide to Colin Powell
An "embarrassment to the party." - Arizona GOP State Senator Susan Johnson
"I don't like him at all." - Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-CO
"It just seems like everything we did, John was someplace else...In my mind, he is not a conservative." - Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-IL
"He is the anti-conservative. He instinctively sides against conservatives and relishes poking them in the eye." - Conservative blowhard David Limbaugh
"If either John McCain or Mike Huckabee gets the nomination, it's going to destroy the Republican Party, it's going to change it forever, be the end of it." - Conservative blowhard Rush Limbaugh
There's so much wrong with the McCain campaign, I don't have the time or patience to get into it all. But I think the thing that's wrapped around all the other problems is this: McCain is the most miserable, dour and downright angry candidate I think I've ever seen. He's even angrier than Bob Dole.
Now, angry can be kind of interesting. Ross Perot was angry, but he was interesting, because what he was angry at was the same thing we were angry at: the wasteful, spend-happy U.S. government. But even Perot's act got old after awhile, and even his funny, high voice couldn't save it. With McCain, there's a funny voice, but not "ha ha" funny -- more like, "wierd guy who's house you're scared to trick or treat at" funny.
Even when McCain does smile, which is rare, it's damned creepy, like when he follows statements like "that's not change you can believe in" with a spooky, grimacy laugh.
It would be different if McCain came off as righteously indignant at some external ill that All Americans can relate to; if he railed against an economy that's hurting the little guy, or against big corporations that take American jobs overseas... if he spouted off about the administration's failure to find Osama bin Laden (something that would also help distance him from his ball and chain, George W. Bush.) Instead, McCain's constant outrage these days is that Barack Obama won't admit that the surge is working, damnit! Not exactly the issue on the top of struggling middle class American minds.
McCain rages that Obama won't allow the big oil companies to have more oil leases (though he says nothing about oil companies that refuse to drill on the leases they have, or who are bilking the American people (not to mention his opposition to a bill that would have forced oil companies to sell any oil they drill offshore in the U.S., to Americans, rather than the higher bidding Chinese...) Thus, he misses the chance to take advantage of a tried and true political axiom: attack the unpopular big guy in defense of Joe American.
Most of all, McCain doesn't seem to be angry on behalf of the American people -- he seems angry for HIMSELF, and at his situation, which makes him look petty and mean. He seems to be angry that his ambitions are being dashed, that his luster has been stolen away by someone else, that some little nobody has dared to take away his newness, his "wow factor," his change message, and even his friends in the press. In short, McCain seems to be angry at life -- at the fact that for the second time, a guy he thinks is inferior to him is taking away his chance to be president.
That's not a good look.
And so, John McCain turns to yet another attractive quality: his penchant for ridicule:
DENVER (AP) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain, ridiculing Barack Obama for "the audacity of hopelessness" in his policies on Iraq, said Friday that the entire Middle East could have plunged into war had U.S. troops been withdrawn as his rival advocated.
Speaking to an audience of Hispanic military veterans, McCain stepped up his criticism of Obama while the Illinois senator continued his headline-grabbing tour of the Middle East and Europe. The Arizona Republican contended that Obama's policies - he opposed sending more troops to Iraq in the "surge" that McCain supported - would have led to defeat there and in Afghanistan.
"We rejected the audacity of hopelessness, and we were right," McCain said, a play on the title of Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope."
McCain laid out a near-apocalyptic chain of events he said could have resulted had Obama managed to stop the troop buildup ordered by President Bush: U.S. forces retreating under fire, the Iraqi army collapsing, civilian casualties increasing dramatically, al-Qaida killing cooperative Sunni sheiks and finding safe havens to train fighters and launch attacks on Americans, and civil war, genocide and a wider conflict.
"Above all, America would have been humiliated and weakened," he said. "Terrorists would have seen our defeat as evidence America lacked the resolve to defeat them. As Iraq descended into chaos, other countries in the Middle East would have come to the aid of their favored factions, and the entire region might have erupted in war."
Noting that the buildup was unpopular with most Americans, McCain said: "Sen. Obama told the American people what he thought you wanted to hear. I told you the truth."
Not exactly "morning in America."
Worse, McCain made his latest miserable remarks in Colorado, where he met with the Dalai Lama. Maybe the zen master could teach him to loosen up.
It strikes me that Americans don't like dour, angry presidential candidates. Historically, the country has tended to chose the sunnier candidate. Americans picked buoyant Kennedy over glowering Nixon (even with the latter's substantial experience); they chose optimistic Ronnie Reagan over grim school marm Jimmy Carter, and saxophone toting Big Bill Clinton over clock watching scold George Bush. Even Al Gore was done in by the frat boyish George W. Bush, because Bush was the guy America wanted to spend the soon-to-be-squandered surplus on beers with (which is why Bush was able to get close enough for his dad's friends on the Supreme Court to make him president.)
So can McCain "win angry?" Maybe, but only if enough Americans are as dour and miserable and rejectionist as he is. And then, what kind of country would that mean that we are?
Even the right has remarked on McCain's demeanor. Back before the right wing bloggers got on the conference calls and got the orders to become slavishly devoted to the Republican nominee, Riehlworldview had this to say about McCain:
Intolerant, Angry McCain
While I'm not a big fan of protesting during a speech, there is something to be said for free speech. It shouldn't include being brow beaten with a now tired response from John McCain. He continues to use an exceptional case to close down debate on illegal immigration. And his temperament in doing it doesn't really play well at all.
If he wants to yell and curse at his colleagues in the Senate, it's their business if they want to put up with it. But how long before this guy really goes off on someone in the heat of a national campaign?
Mr. Shamnesty-Short Fuse almost walked off the stage during a campaign event with the AFL-CIO in Michigan. Audience members didn’t like his soft-on-illegal immigration blather. They booed.
Of course now, he's rational, exceptional, wonderful McCain, but there you go. Politics. Some of us can't get it out of our heads that this guy is a ticking time bomb of randomly placed rage (examples here, here, here and here.) More on McCain's McTemper:
Somebody please fire John McCain's entire advance team. While Barack Obama was being photographed in front of the Wailing Wall and at Yad Vashem yesterday, McCain was hangin' out in cheese aisle, making stuff up about Iraq, leading to some of the worst visuals of any presidential campaign ... ever, not to mention the inevitable "Mac and Cheese" jokes. Look for yourself, and see if you don't laugh out loud:
While the Obama advance team gives us this...
Then to make matters worse, the McNasty campaign attacks Obama on his Yad Vashem visit, actually claiming that as president Obama would have no interest in stopping future Holocausts! Real classy, fellas.
Come on, McCain! Your people have got to do better than that!
They're just your average American family. No country clubs, good looking dates and cigarettes here, folks! In fact, John and Cindy McCain are just ... like ... us.
Item one: There's never a recession at Cindy's house!
No, my friends, there's only shoes, shoes, SHOES! Cindy shops til she drops, and in that devil-may-care that only a beer heiress can muster, she kicks up her heels while the little people scrounge for gas money (and bake nasty, "homemade" cookies):
Cindy McCain and the McCain children are the beneficiaries of a beer distributing fortune amassed by her parents and estimated to be worth $100 million or more. Though the McCains maintain separate finances, Cindy McCain’s family fortune has boosted her husband’s political career at critical junctures, helping to fund his inaugural 1982 run for Congress and helping to subsidize his current presidential campaign when it all but went broke last year. ...
... While Cindy McCain, her dependent children and the trusts and companies they control made as much as $29 million — and likely substantially more — from her family’s business interests from 2004 through last year, data from the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics and the Center for Responsive Politics also reveals that they spent $11 million purchasing five condominiums for the family, hired additional household help and racked up progressively larger credit card bills almost every year.
Their credit card bills peaked between January 2007 and May 2008, during which time Cindy McCain charged as much as $500,000 in a single month on one American Express card and $250,000 on another, while one of their two dependent children had an AmEx card with a monthly balance as large as $50,000.
A campaign aide who did not want to be identified discussing the McCains’ personal finances stressed that the credit card balances are “not ongoing debt.”
But Cochran said he observed McCain engage in a physical confrontation with a Sandinista while participating in a diplomatic mission led by Sen. Bob Dole and others in the fall of 1987. Cochran, McCain — who had won election to the Senate the year before after serving in the House — and other members of a bipartisan committee of lawmakers called the Central American Negotiations Observer Group met with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, head of the left wing political party known as "Sandinistas," about tensions in the region.
The atmosphere was tense, as the U.S. was pressing the countries involved "pretty hard." Cochran noticed a disturbance at the meeting table in a room lined with armed personnel.
"McCain was down at the end of the table and we were talking to the head of the guerilla group here at this end of the table and I don't know what attracted my attention," Cochran said. "But I saw some kind of quick movement at the bottom of the table and I looked down there and John had reached over and grabbed this guy by the shirt collar and had snatched him up like he was throwing him up out of the chair to tell him what he thought about him or whatever. I don't know what he was telling him but I thought, 'Good grief, everybody around here has got guns,' and we were there on a diplomatic mission. I don't know what had happened to provoke John but he obviously got mad at the guy and he just reached over there and snatched him."
There were no punches thrown and the two sat back down. The man, who appeared to be ruffled after the confrontation with McCain, was an associate of Ortega's, possibly a lieutenant, but Cochran said he was unsure of his identity.
Right to bear arms, Thad ... right to bear frikkin' arms...
By the way, the next time a scrawny little runt reporter dares to ask about John's service in Vietnam, and why it by itself qualifies him to be president? Someone's going to get hurt. You got that, ABC's David Wright?
McCain became visibly angry when I asked him to explain how his Vietnam experience prepared him for the Presidency.
"Please," he said, recoiling back in his seat in distaste at the very question.
McCain allies Sen. Lindsey Graham stepped in to rescue him. Graham expressed admiration for McCain’s stance on the treatment of detainees in US custody.
"That to me is a classic example of how his military experience helped him shape public policy in a way no other senator could have done,’’ Graham said.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, also traveling on the trip, expressed admiration for McCain’s wartime service as well.
McCain then collected himself and apologized for his initial reaction.
"I kind of reacted the way I did because I have a reluctance to talk about my experiences," he said, noting that he has huge admiration for the "heroes" who served with him in the POW camp and said the experience taught him to love the U.S. because he missed it so much.
"I am always reluctant to talk about these things," McCain said.
Good thing John's appointment secretary, Lindsey, was there to help. Boy, that gal sure helps a fella keep a level head!
Well folks, that's all for now! The McCain's sure do appreciate your dropping by! Oh, and wipe your feet on the way out. Poor people are sooooo, grimey!
The hysterical over-reaction by Camp McCain and their hacks in the blogosphere to Wes Clark's statement about military service not being a qualification to be president (duh...) continues. This time, Orson Swindle, a Vietnam vet who was a McCain cell-mate in the infamous Hanoi Hilton, and a former FTC chair, launches a REAL attack on the military service of a fellow veteran: Wes Clark. During the second McCain conference call on this non-story in two days, Swindle said the following (courtesy of TPM Muckraker.)
"General Clark probably wouldn't get that much praise from this group. I can't speak for them, but we all know that General Clark, as high-ranking as he is, his record in his last command I think was somewhat less than stellar."
Huh? While no thinking person believes that Wes Clark, who has repeatedly praised McCain's Vietnam service, was demeaning that service, or McCain himself, Swindle's comments were a direct shot at Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. What about "his record in his last command" is Swindle referring to? And isn't THIS, the textbook definition of "Swiftboating"??? Perhaps we should ask McCain surrogate and official SwiftBoat Veterans smear merchant Bud Day.
It certainly was not an attack on his service - no one would ever disparage that. Everyone honors Gen. Clark's service and sacrifice -- he's literally bled for our country. It was about policy disputes.
Except that it WAS an attack on Clark's service, again, completely unlike the comments Clark made about McCain. And by the way, the same McCain aide that sent TPMM the statement, sent this link to a 2004 National Review story disparaging Clark's service as the head of NATO. Go figure. ... But don't look to the righties to notice the irony. They are completely incapable of irony, or shame. (By the way, according to the Hot Air Blog, on that same conference call, Miss Lindsey Graham said that “Nobody expects John to be elected because he was a POW." Is Graham now going to be attacked on the right for essentially saying what Clark said?)
Clark has continued to defend himself, and well he should. Wes Clark gave 34 years of heroic service to the United States Army and to this country. He came back wounded from Vietnam and stayed in the service, making it his career, at great sacrifice to himself financially, and to his wife and son. Simply stating the obvious: that being shot down during wartime is not an automatic qualification to be president, is nothing like taking the shot at a man's actual service that Swindle did.
BTW, let's see if the media goes as ape-crap over the Swindle remarks as they have over Clark.
I really think we're witnessing the fiery, sputtering end of the conservative movement. They've gone from Bush-worshiping idolaters to utterly insane. These people are so off the rails, they've even accused Jim Webb of "coordinating" a conspiratorial attack on McCain. Absolutely, breathtakingly, unbelievably insane.
Ad ad promoting free trade with Colombia in the middle of a recession ... huh???
Meanwhile, McCain is headed south ... of the border ... to which the Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler says:
It is an effort to pad his foreign-policy credentials, appear statesmanlike and drive home a message about trade and international relations. In Colombia on Tuesday and Wednesday, in the coastal city of Cartagena, he plans to highlight a pending free-trade agreement that he supports and rival Sen. Barack Obama opposes. Thursday in Mexico, the Republican candidate will talk about the war on drugs. The Arizona senator will meet with both nations' presidents.
It isn't clear how much the trip will benefit Sen. McCain's No. 1 mission: being elected president. This will be Sen. McCain's third foreign trip since effectively wrapping up the Republican nominating contest, making him among the best-traveled presidential candidates. This spring, Sen. McCain visited the Middle East, including Iraq, Israel and Jordan, and Europe, including London and Paris. Last year, in the midst of the primaries, he went to Switzerland, Germany, Pakistan and Iraq. And June 20, he was in the Canadian capital of Ottawa.
More head scratching here:
Some Republican political strategists expressed surprise that Sen. McCain would take time out for this trip. "It just continues to burnish his foreign-policy experience and continues to focus on Obama being inexperienced," said strategist Tony Fabrizio. "At this juncture I'm not sure there are a lot of voters on the fence wondering about that."
A McCain adviser said the campaign considered that the candidate's time might have been better used elsewhere but decided that the senator should go anyway, partly because the days before the July 4 holiday are slow.
Some have speculated, as well, that the trip could play well with Hispanic voters, whom the Arizona senator is trying to win over.
MSNBC's Chuck Todd pointed out today that McCain will garner plenty of free media on Telemundo, Univision and other Spanish-language news and talk outlets in the U.S., which may be his way of bringing up his numbers with Hispanic voters out West, who are about 70 percent Mexican-American.
Robert Mugabe retains power, dodges the Hague ... plus other morning news
Swiftboat veterans seek to reclaim the dignity of the name from the sleazeballs who attacked John Kerry's service in Vietnam in 2004. Meanwhile, T. Boone Pickens is a phony and a liar, just like the attack group he funded...
A group of American advisers led by a small State Department team played an integral part in drawing up contracts between the Iraqi government and five major Western oil companies to develop some of the largest fields in Iraq, American officials say.
The disclosure, coming on the eve of the contracts’ announcement, is the first confirmation of direct involvement by the Bush administration in deals to open Iraq’s oil to commercial development and is likely to stoke criticism.
In their role as advisers to the Iraqi Oil Ministry, American government lawyers and private-sector consultants provided template contracts and detailed suggestions on drafting the contracts, advisers and a senior State Department official said.
And why would they do such a thing?
Though enriched by high prices, the companies are starved for new oil fields. The United States government, too, has eagerly encouraged investment anywhere in the world that could provide new oil to alleviate the exceptionally tight global supply, which is a cause of high prices.
Iraq is particularly attractive in that light, because in addition to its vast reserves, it has the potential to bring new sources of oil onto the market relatively cheaply.
As sabotage on oil export pipelines has declined with improved security, this potential is closer to being realized. American military officials say the pipelines now have excess capacity, waiting for output to increase at the fields.
Ah yes, the oil. The oil!
“We pretend it is not a centerpiece of our motivation, yet we keep confirming that it is,” Frederick D. Barton, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said in a telephone interview. “And we undermine our own veracity by citing issues like sovereignty, when we have our hands right in the middle of it.”
And the story wouldn't be complete without a completely contradictory comment from Condi Rice:
Criticism like that has prompted objections by the Bush administration and the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, who say the deals are purely commercial matters. Ms. Rice, speaking on Fox News this month, said: “The United States government has stayed out of the matter of awarding the Iraq oil contracts. It’s a private sector matter.”
Meanwhile, the Washington Post has a wrenching, first-person account of treating PTSD among our troops returning from the dual war zones.
The soldier from Ohio studied the wall carefully. It was amazing, he said, how much the layout of those picture frames resembled the layout of the street in Tikrit that was seared in his memory; the similarity had leapt out at him the first time he came in for a session. He traced the linear space between the frames, showing me where his Humvee had turned and traveled down the block, and where the two Iraqi men had been standing, close -- too close -- to the road.
"I knew immediately something was wrong," he said. The explosion threw him out of the vehicle, with his comrades trapped inside, screaming. Lying on the ground, he returned fire until he drove off the insurgents. His fellow soldiers survived, but nearly four years later, their screams still haunted him. "I couldn't go to them," he told me, overwhelmed with guilt and imagined failure. "I couldn't help them."
That soldier from Ohio is one of the nearly 40,000 U.S. troops diagnosed by the military with post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 to 2007; the number of diagnoses increased nearly 50 percent in 2007 over the previous year, the military said this spring. I saw a number of soldiers with war trauma while working as a psychologist for the U.S. Army. In 2006, I went to Fort Dix as a civilian contractor to treat soldiers on their way to and return from those wars. I was drawn by the immediacy of the work and the opportunity to make a difference. What the raw numbers on war trauma can't show is what I saw every day in my office: the individual stories of men and women who have sustained emotional trauma as well as physical injury, people who are still fighting an arduous postwar battle to heal, to understand a mysterious psychological condition and re-enter civilian life. As I think about the soldiers who will be rotating back home from Iraq this summer as part of the "pause" in the "surge," as well as those who will stay behind, I remember some of the people I met on their long journey back from the war. ...
So now we know: Michelle Obama shops at Target, hates pantyhose ("painful") and made the "fist pump" cool.
And Cindy McCain does lots of under-the-radar charity work, favors Oscar de la Renta and has a credit card bill that's been somewhere between $100,000 and $250,000 this year.
But rest assured, America: With a major female presidential candidate no longer in the running, there's plenty more we'll learn about the stylistic, literary, grooming and culinary penchants of the two women who aspire to be first lady of the United States.
Three hours after John McCain’s campaign bus left General Motors’ plant in Lordstown, Ohio, workers started streaming in and out of the factory’s gates for the mid-afternoon shift change.
Only a fraction had caught a glimpse of the Republican presidential candidate when he toured the production line and still fewer attended the meeting he held in an adjacent conference room. “Management invited him,” said 38-year-old Tim Niles. “It had nothing to do with us. We’re with Obama.”
Mr Niles, a white, working-class Democrat who wears a “Bubba’s Army” T-shirt, is exactly the kind of voter Mr McCain was courting on his trip to northern Ohio on Friday. On the day Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton staged their first joint rally, Mr McCain was trying to undermine their reconciliation by wooing Mrs Clinton’s blue-collar base.
His efforts appeared wasted on many. “We’re a working-class factory,” said 49-year-old Greg George. “McCain calls himself moderate, but his party has been a disaster for working people over the past eight years.”
And the U.S. warns that Mexico's battle against powerful drug cartels is threatening to escalate into a crippling, all-out war.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports, former Bush spokesguy Scott McClellan is considering jumping off the GOP ship:
Scott McClellan - the longtime supporter of President Bush who served as his White House press secretary for nearly three years - said Tuesday he hasn't ruled out registering as a Democrat or voting Democratic for president this year.
"I haven't made any long-term decisions," McClellan said after an address to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, where he received a warm reception from an audience numbering in the hundreds at the Fairmont Hotel.
Hey, you go where it's friendly. Meanwhile, Scotty reveals a serious lack of love for Dick Cheney:
McClellan pointedly warned both campaigns to be particularly attuned to a crucial decision, one that had a huge impact in his former boss' administration: picking a vice presidential candidate. Vice President Dick Cheney, he said, "had a terribly negative influence over this president ... and was shown too much deference" on major decisions, including Iraq. ...
... McClellan who is clear that he has no great admiration for Cheney, joked to the audience that his national book tour has given him some ideas for book titles Cheney might consider: "The Lies I Told," or "I Upped Halliburton's Income - So Up Yours." He also said that during his two terms, Cheney has increased the power of the vice presidency, which was "one of the vice president's pet projects."
McClellan painted a painful portrait of Bush, whom it's clear he still has affection for, as a man surrounded by sharks (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Condi Rice,) who would have gone into Iraq even knowing what we all know now. The president, he thinks, would not, if he could have foreseen the casualties and calamities (somehow, given his animal- and pledge-torturing history, I doubt that, but Scott's entitled to his affections...)
This week on the radio: Rep. Hastings will appear on "Elevating the Dialogue" with Elgin, Barbara and me tomorrow (Friday) morning, to talk about the Florida delegate situation, his switch from Clinton to Obama, and why he's not attending the Denver convention. Tune in at 10 a.m. on 1470 a.m., or online on WNN's website (or sfltimes.com) |
And the winner is... Steven Schale, formerly the director of the Florida Democratic Party's House Victory committee and the man widely credited with helping Democrats have their best State House election year in a minute. From the Orlando Sentinel blog:
Barack Obama’s presidential campaign this morning announced Steve Schale as its Florida state director. Ashley Walker, who had been the campaign’s political director, will be deputy state director.
The Obama campaign has about 20 paid workers in the state and brought 400 “fellows” in this weekend. The fellows are volunteers who will focus on a voter registration drive in the state for the next six weeks.
As the state party’s House political director, Schale helped lead the 2006 campaign that picked up seven seats in the chamber —- what Democrats call their “most successful year in state party history”
Walker has been with Obama’s campaign since last year. She was a regional desk to states in the Northeast and South and played a senior role in Obama’s win in the Texas caucus. Walker former employers include former Gov. Bob Graham, Congressman Peter Deutsch and State Sen. Jeremy Ring.
Statewide, looks like Democrats may pick up as many as seven state House seats (Dan Gelber and Steve Schale must be smiling wide), and they'll break even on senate seats - Justice beating Berfield in SD 16 and Republican Oelrich beating Democrat Jennings in Rod Smith's SD 14.
Bill Heller comfortably beat Angelo Cappelli in HD 52; Janet Long narrowly beat Dottie Reeder in HD 51. In the Bradenton area HD 69, Democrat Keith Fitzgerald is barely leading Republican Laura Benson; In Orange County's HD 36, Democrat Scott Randolph unseated Republican Sherri McInvale; in Broward's District 97, Democrat Martin Kiar beat Republican Susan Goldstein; in Miami's 107, looks like Democrat Luis Garcia will take Gus Barreiro's seat, and in the Keys Democrat Ron Saunders won HD 120.
And as for that minute:
That's the first time Democrats have picked up state House seats in 16 years and their biggest gain in nearly 30 years.
And as for the scuttle about Team Obama writing off the Sunshine State, Schale says it ain't so:
"When you see us reach our full staff level, you're going to see an operation the size of which this state has never seen before on our side,'' said Schale, lavishing praise on Walker and dismissing talk (see here) about Obama not playing to win in Florida. "I would not take this job if I did not think Sen. Obama was committed to winning this state or didn't think he could win this state."
Once again, the statewide campaign will be run from Tampa, which should tell South Florida loudly and clearly that for Democrats on a national level, the political center of gravity in Florida has officially shifted north. Actually, it did so several cycles ago (remember where the McBride campaign was based? Remember Jim Davis' "I can win the I4" strategy, otherwise known as the "Ahab stalks white whale" gambit?) In short, it has shifted to where the election-by-election turnout percentages are better, including among black voters. (Plus, Tampa's a bigger media market -- more buy for your buck.) If South Florida wants to be in the game going forward, we'd better get our behinds to the polls this election cycle.
Today, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the most ... active ... Clintonista in the Sunshine State, signed onto the following statement endorsing Barack Obama:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:
June 5, 2008
Washington, DC – Florida Congressional Representatives Alcee L. Hastings, Corrine Brown, Kendrick B. Meek, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz issued the following statement today endorsing Barack Obama for President:
“It is with enthusiasm and excitement that we endorse Barack Obama for President.
“We are looking forward to working with Senator Obama in the days, weeks, and months ahead. America cannot afford another four years of failed Republican leadership, and we are committed to doing anything and everything in our power to ensure that Barack Obama is elected the next President of the United States.
“We also ask Shttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifenator Obama to do everything in his power to see to it that Florida has a full delegation to the Democratic National Convention with full voting rights.
“We congratulate Senator Clinton for a hard-fought campaign. Never in our lifetimes did we think that we would have the choice of a woman or an African American for the office of the presidency. We hope Americans realize how much the two of them have done for our country during this campaign. America is, indeed, a better place for having the two of them run for the highest office in the land.
“Recent elections have shown that the path to the presidency passes directly through Florida. Florida is in play this November and we invite Senator Obama and Senator Clinton to come to Florida to join us in events across the state from Key West to Pensacola and beyond. All of us standing on one stage, hand-in-hand will send a clear message to Florida voters that regardless of who we previously supported, we stand united and as one from this day forward.”
So why did we learn today, as I heard from someone on the Hill, that Debbie is also behind the following effort to strong-arm the presumptive nominee?
embers of Congress who support Clinton are weighing a joint letter to Senator Barack Obama pressing him to put Clinton on the ticket, a congressional aide confirmed.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Florida has suggested the letter, which would aim to represent the voices of female members of congress and those from swing states and key demographic groups.
The letter hasn't been drafted yet, though, and as with much of the day's vice presidential buzz, Clinton's supporters seem to be pressing ahead in the absence of clear direction from the candidate, who is meeting with her top advisors -- though not her husband --at her Arlington headquarters today.
"It’s still sort of in the premature stage of whether it’s going to happen or not," said John Bowman, Wasserman-Schultz's chief of staff. "She’s mentioned the idea but it hasn’t gone further."
Surely by now, Deb has caught a bit of cable news and analysis, and has figured out that this unsubtle approach is not only off-putting to the Obama camp, it's also bad for her (still) preferred candidate, Mrs. Clinton. It makes her look desperate, and it makes her look pushy -- not the best audition for a job she had scant chance of getting in the first place...
More on the machinations by Debbie and her Louise, Stephanie Tubbs Jones:
At a moment when Democrats would be expected to be rejoicing over the historic significance of Obama’s victory, any sense of joy seemed to be drowned out by competing messages from factions of lawmakers who have been warring for months.
In one corner of the House, female lawmakers such as Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) were planning to write a letter demanding that Clinton be on the presidential ticket.
“There are a lot of members of Congress who feel this way,” Wasserman Schultz said. “That way, we can maximize party unity and the odds of winning the election. They balance each other out in every way. They’re the dynamic duo. They really are.”
In another corner, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) declared that the Congressional Black Caucus should stay out of the business of pushing for a vice presidential nominee.
And in the Senate, Clinton and Obama surrogates talked respectfully about helping the party heal itself — yet Democrats disagreed over exactly how that should happen.
“The question now is: How do we integrate the supporters on both sides?” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a Clinton supporter. “But I think the winning side should do the reaching outhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif. They have to make sure they reach out to Clinton supporters to solidify the Democratic Party.”
Menendez, like other Clinton backers, said the vice presidential nod would seal the deal.
This is the height of hypocrisy. Miss Debbie is overstepping her mark, and combined with Stephanie Tubbs Jones latest TV performance today, saying that it's up to the Obama people to "welcome the Clinton backers in," you've got to think that these women are losing the plot.
Barack Obama has assembled his vice presidential search team, which includes former Clinton deputy A.G. Eric Holder, veteran veep vetter Jim Johnson, and newfound pal Caroline Kennedy (whom I wouldn't surprised will confer at least some time with her uncle Ted.) I said it before, and say it again, Hillary won't make the final cut. Now, the WSJ has another reason, and it shows that Team Obama does indeed know how to play this game:
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Hillary Clinton, who refused to concede after Sen. Barack Obama claimed the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, will do so Saturday, two top advisers said. Close supporters suggested she would like to be his running mate, on a unity ticket.
But close advisers to Sen. Obama signaled an Obama-Clinton ticket was highly unlikely. People in both camps cited what several called "a deal-breaker" -- Bill Clinton may balk at releasing records of his business dealings and big donors to his presidential library.
So the answer to Clintonistas is, "OK, you want on the ticket? Show me your husband's financials."
Finally, after months of being mathematically eliminated from the Democratic nomination for president, after race-baiting, fictional sniper fire, hard-working white people, angry white women, big wins in states that couldn't get her closer to the nomination, dubious Osama bin Laden references, the red phone ad, even more dubious assassination references, the Michigan and Florida compromises, Harriet Christian, Barack reaching the magic number plus more than 100 and 24 hours after the worst ... non-concession ... speech ... ever ... Hillary Clinton will finally suspend her wheels-off-the-tracks campaign, mercifully, on Friday. The New York Times reports tonight:
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton will endorse Senator Barack Obama on Friday, bringing a close to her 17-month campaign for the White House, aides said. Her decision came after Democrats urged her on Wednesday to leave the race and allow the party to coalesce around Mr. Obama.
Mrs. Clinton’s aides said she would “express her support for Senator Obama and party unity” at an event in Washington that day. One adviser said that Mrs. Clinton would concede defeat, congratulate Mr. Obama and proclaim him the party’s nominee, while pledging to do what was needed to assure his victory.
Her decision came after a day of conversations with supporters on Capitol Hill about her future now that Mr. Obama had clinched the nomination. Mrs. Clinton had, in a speech after Tuesday night’s primaries, suggested that she wanted to wait before deciding about her future, but in conversations throughout the day on Wednesday, her aides said, she was urged to step aside.
“We pledged to support her to the end,” said Representative Charles B. Rangel, a New York Democrat who has been a patron of Mrs. Clinton since she first ran for the Senate. “Our problem is not being able to determine when the hell the end is.” ...
Rep. Rangel was apparently one of the prime movers in pushing Mrs. Clinton out of the race. He was visibly angry in an interview with NBC News today, and according to Andrea Mitchell, he told Hillary point blank, along with 23 fellow members of Congress, that she had erred last night in not acknowledging that Barack had reached the number of delegates needed to seal the nomination. Mitchell reported that members were approaching Obama repeatedly on Capitol Hill today and telling him they wanted to move over to him (as many undecided supers are rushing to do before the train is so far out of the station it becomes a puff of smoke,) but Hillary wouldn't release them to switch their endorsement. And Howard Fineman reported that there was a subsequent conference call arranged, no less, by senior Clinton advisers, on which eight senior Senators, presumably including Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Barbara McCulsky and Diane Feinstein, told Hillary it was time to go.
A bit more from the Times:
The desire of the party for Mrs. Clinton to leave the race was signaled — if politely as four top Democratic leaders issued a statement on Wednesday morning asking all uncommitted delegates to make their decisions by Friday. The statement from the party officials — Howard Dean, the Democratic chairman; Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker; Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, and Gov. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — stopped short of endorsing Mr. Obama, but aides said they would likely move in that direction if Mrs. Clinton lingered in the race.
“The voters have spoken,” they said in their joint statement released before 7 a.m., purposefully timed to set the tone for the day after the election. “Democrats must now turn our full attention to the general election.”
Representative Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois Democrat with close ties to Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton who had kept studiously neutral throughout the presidential contest, said in an interview that he was “coming out from my desk” to endorse Mr. Obama. “The fact is that he is the nominee,” Mr. Emanuel said
He seemed quizzical at the slowness of Mrs. Clinton’s decision not to acknowledge this. “You don’t answer about whether you want to be about vice president unless there’s no doubt in your mind that he is the nominee,” he said, referring to Mrs. Clinton’s initial reluctance to congratulate Mr. Obama, noting that she told supporters she would be open to be vice president, if Mr. Obama wanted her.
Mrs. Clinton’s initial ambivalence about her future in her speech on Tuesday night stirred concern among some of her top supporters.
“By the time she got on that podium last night, she knew it was over and that she had lost,” Hillary Rosen, one of Mrs. Clinton’s most prominent women supporters, wrote on the Huffington Post Web site. “I am sure I was not alone in privately urging the campaign over the last two weeks to use the moment to take her due, pass the torch and cement her grace.”
Now, Hillary will get a second shot at that moment. Unfortunately, it will have been forced upon her.
UPDATE: Keith Olbermann just reported that Hillary will make some sort of concession-like announcement to her senior staff at her home in D.C. on Friday, followed by a bigger public event on Saturday.
Surprise, surprise, it was our friendly neighborhood taper, Mayhill Fowler who caught Bill Clinton on tape calling a Vanity Fair reporter a "scumbag." Note to pols: when you see Mayhill coming, go directly to your talking points. She's wired.
John McCain makes it a two-fer, chucking both Pastors Hagee and Parsely -- his "spiritual adviser," no less -- over the side. So I guess now he's got to pick Huckabee, or risk having all the right wing nutters sit on their hands in November...
John McCain is in Miami today, giving a speech right now that panders in the most blatant fashion to Cuban-Americans who remain obsessed with Fidel Castro. McCain went after Barack Obama for supposedly calling for unconditional meetings with Raul Castro, and he pledged to keep the embargo going if he becomes president. What's remarkable is how determined McCain appears to be to cleave to George W. Bush's hardline policies, and I suspect that his audience probably shares his age demographic. (Note to McCain, younger Cuban-Americans favor easing the embargo, particularly as regards remittances and family visitation.)
McCain did some chearleading for the failed free trade agreement with Colombia, which can't help him out with economically struggling middle class voters, who despise free trade. He did throw a bone to Hispanic voters who aren't Cuban, accusing the U.S. (and by implication, the Bush administration,) of "treating Latin America like a little brother, rather than an equal." As president, he would change that, I take it, while extending the kind of free trade that has driven America's industrial basin into a ditch.
And McCain has driven himself right into the middle of very complex Cuban-American politics in Miami, and in Florida, where the Cuban stranglehold on U.S. policy isn't exactly popular outside the Miami city limits. Meanwhile, where will South Florida's Democratic congresspeople be hiding today, since two of the most prominent, Kendrick Meek and Debbie Wasserman Shultz, have refused to campaign for the three Democrats who hope to replace the Cuba-fanatic trio of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the Diaz-Balart brothers, whose family grudge with the Castro brothers has helped to grind U.S. policy in the region to a halt. Do they ... the Dems, I mean ... endorse McCain on this one?
Barack Obama took on an unpopular president, and won, and thanks to John McCain and George W. Bush's combined stupidity, he was able to lash the two men together in history, and elevate himself to the presidential pillar.
Confronting a major challenge to his world view, Mr. Obama tried to turn the tables on his critics, saying they were guilty of “bluster” and “dishonest, divisive” tactics. He cited a litany of what he called foreign policy blunders by the Bush administration and accused Mr. McCain, the presumed Republican nominee, of “doubling down” on them.
“George Bush and John McCain have a lot to answer for,” Mr. Obama said at a midday forum here, listing the Iraq war, the strengthening of Iran and groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, Osama bin Laden’s being still at large and stalled diplomacy in other parts of the Middle East among their chief failings.
“If George Bush and John McCain want to have a debate about protecting the United States of America,” Mr. Obama said, “that is a debate I am happy to have any time, any place.”
His defiance and disdain for Mr. Bush’s record appeared to be a signal that he will push back against efforts to define him or his record as weak on terror or accommodating to foreign foes, a strategy Republicans used successfully against Senator John Kerry in 2004.
The appearance also signaled that the campaigns are pivoting swiftly toward the general election, with the two sides already in full attack mode.
Consistently throughout his comments about foreign policy, Mr. Obama yoked Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain as one entity, mentioning their names in the same sentence 10 times in barely 10 minutes. He portrayed them as being not only inflexible, but also “naïve and irresponsible,” the characteristics they ascribe to him.
The remarks were made a day after Mr. Bush, addressing the Israeli Parliament, spoke of what he called a tendency toward “appeasement” in some quarters of the West, similar to that shown to the Nazis before the invasion of Poland.
Mr. Bush also said he rejected negotiations with “terrorists and radicals,” implying that Democrats favored such a position. Mr. Obama said he found the remarks offensive.
“After almost eight years, I did not think I could be surprised by anything that George Bush says,” Mr. Obama said, criticizing Mr. Bush for raising an internal issue on foreign soil. “But I was wrong.”
Mr. McCain endorsed Mr. Bush’s remarks, saying, “The president is exactly right,” and adding that Mr. Obama “needs to explain why he is willing to sit down and talk” with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.
Mr. Obama at first joked that he wanted to respond to “a little foreign policy dustup yesterday.” But he quickly made it clear that he regarded the exchange as anything but funny, criticizing Mr. Bush and saying Mr. McCain “still hasn’t spelled out one substantial way in which he’d be different from George Bush’s foreign policy.”
“In the Bush-McCain world view, everyone who disagrees with their failed Iran policy is an appeaser,” Mr. Obama said.
Mr. McCain’s campaign answered quickly and sharply on Friday. A spokesman, Tucker Bounds, called the remarks a “hysterical diatribe in response to a speech in which his name wasn’t even mentioned.” ...
So the best they've got is "hey, he wasn't even talking about you!"
“John McCain supports the right of the people of California to recognize marriage as a unique institution sanctioning the union between a man and a woman, just as he did in his home state of Arizona. John McCain doesn’t believe judges should be making these decisions.”
Obama's campaign also noted, in a different way, their candidate's view that states should decide. What Obama didn't say is that he's opposed to gay marriage (note the phraseology of first sentence)
Barack Obama has always believed that same-sex couples should enjoy equal rights under the law, and he will continue to fight for civil unions as President. He respects the decision of the California Supreme Court, and continues to believe that states should make their own decisions when it comes to the issue of marriage.
Pelosi said she would "encourage California citizens to respect the court’s decision, and I continue to strongly oppose any ballot measure that would write discrimination into the state constitution. Today is a significant milestone for which all Californians can take pride."
House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) is the first Republican leader out with a statement, saying "this ruling effectively opens the door to allowing the opinion of this state’s court on same-sex marriage to stand as the law of the land for the entire country."
In his full statement, Blunt uses the phrase "unelected judges" twice, which is a message to the conservative base that more right-leaning judges should be nominated should John McCain be elected president.
Joe Biden makes it plain regarding President Bush's un-American conduct in Israel:
Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), piling on to Democratic complaints about President Bush’s speech in Israel today:
“This is bullshit, this is malarkey. This is outrageous, for the president of the United States to go to a foreign country, to sit in the Knesset ... and make this kind of ridiculous statement.”
Speaking before the Knesset, Bush said that “some people” believe the United States “should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along."
"We have heard this foolish delusion before," Bush said. "As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
Democrats have interpreted the comments as an attack on Sen. Barack Obama, and Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the president was out of line.
“He is the guy who has weakened us,” he said. “He has increased the number of terrorists in the world. It is his policies that have produced this vulnerability that the U.S. has. It’s his [own] intelligence community [that] has pointed this out, not me.”
Biden noted that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have both suggested that the United States ought to find a way to talk more with its enemies.
"If he thinks this is appeasement, is he going to come back and fire his own cabinet?” Biden asked. “Is he going to fire Condi Rice?”
How about firing himself? After all, Bush is the man who turned to the Iranians after 9/11 for cooperation against our mutual enemy, al-Qaida, in neighboring Afghanistan. Bush then "appeased" al-Qaida itself, by pulling American troops out of the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia (whom he constantly appeases, even though they produced 15 of the 19 hijackers who flew planes into our buildings on 9/11, and their money funds global terrorism...) giving in to one of Osama bin Laden's chief complaints. Gates and Rice have indeed advocated talking to the Iranians, and worse, Bush's Iraq policy has done more to benefit Iran than a decade of its own war with Iraq ever could. Bush has made Iran the preeminent power in the Gulf region, and by driving up oil prices, his war has enriched the Mullahs to no end.
So congratulations Mr. Bush, you're our Appeaser in Chief.
Candidates never welcome outside groups. John Kerry's campaign probably couldn't stand America Coming Together (which I worked for in 2004), and George W. Bush probably didn't appreciate the Swift Boat Veterans for ... ok, scratch that last one. The problem: outside groups, or 527s, are free to craft their own message and spend lots of money promoting it, even if that message conflicts with the strategy of the campaign. Of course, 527s can be hellafied useful, especially in doing the nasty work of negative advertising that sometimes candidates are loathe to do.
That said, I would be surprised if Barack Obama didn't face a head-on assault from right wing 527s this fall, particularly since all the big money on the GOP side appears to be holding back, not pouring into John McCain's or the House and Senate campaign committee's coffers. And yet, Obama has succeeded, at least so far, in crushing outside group efforts, directly telling his top donors, and small potential ones, too, I can tell you from direct experience, not to fund anything outside the main campaign. So far, his effort appears to have choked off the David Brock-led nascent effort, and expect others to have a hard time raising money too. Besides, the main engines behind Democratic 527s are Clintonites -- people like Emily's List founder Ellen Malcolm (who also ran ACT), Harold Ickes (our then money man). They are highly unlikely to mount a serious effort on Obama's behalf, particularly if he is already discouraging it.
Meanwhile, women's groups are staging a mass tantrum over NARAL's decision to endorse Barack. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and others are calling the national organization's decision to endorse before the end of the primary season a "betrayal." And a new group has emerged that could become a thorn in Barack's side this summer:
An Ohio-based group of Democratic Hillary Clinton supporters say they’ll work actively against Sen. Barack Obama if he becomes the nominee, arguing that Clinton has been the subject of “intense sexism” by party leaders and the media.
Led by Boomer-aged women, the group, Clinton Supporters Count Too, is holding a press conference in Columbus at noon to release this statement.
Organizers Cynthia Ruccia, 55, and Jamie Dixey, 57, both from the Columbus area, say they’re coordinating women, men, minorities, union members and others in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan – all important swing states next November – to impress upon Democratic party leaders what they think has been outright discrimination – and not of the racial kind.
“We have been vigilant against expressions of racism, and we are thrilled that the society has advanced that way” in accepting Obama as a serious candidate,” Ruccia said. “But it’s been open season on women, and we feel we need to stand up and make a statement about that, because it’s wrong.”
With growing calls for Clinton to leave the race, she said, women feel like “we’re being told to sit down, shut up, and get with the program.”
They're doing O'Reiily's show tonight, according to Ben Smith at Politico.
And meanwhile again, at least one observer is betting that the only way to appease Hillary's angry hoarde of white women over 50, will be to put her on the ticket, whether Barack Obama likes it or not... the premise: at the end of the race, Hillary will need only 19% of superdelegates to go her way at the convention, to get her way at the convention...
Can you imagine how hard it was for most of these super delegates to turn down the former president of the United States? It was tough enough turning Hillary down, but their former boss, political godfather, and personal friend? I've talked to many of them; trust me it was for most the hardest thing they have ever had to do in their political lives.
Just consider for a moment the final phone call with Bill Clinton when the super delegate had to tell him he or she had decided to go with Obama. Clinton," It's time to make a decision. Hillary needs you and I need you. We've been through a lot together. When you needed me I was there, now we need you".
Super delegate, "Mr. President, this is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but I'm going with Obama because (whatever). Ask me for anything else Mr. President, but I've got to do this". Clinton, "I'm very disappointed and personally hurt, but do what you think you have to do. So long."
Now imagine its June 4th and Clinton calls again. Clinton, "I know Obama has enough votes to win, but I wanted you to know Hillary has decided to run for vice president at the convention. You know there are two roll call votes at the convention: first president then for vice president. I know you are voting for Obama for president. Fine, but I want your commitment to vote for Hillary for vice president."
You imagine being on the floor in Denver. Hillary's delegates, NEARLY HALF THE DELEGATES, are demanding she be on the ticket. These are true believers who have stuck with Clinton through thick and thin. To them, putting Hillary on the ticket is a crusade.
Most Clinton delegates are women, most Democratic voters are women, and they're going to just accept some middle aged white governor that Obama is rumored to want? No way. They are in your face. Hillary supporters from back home are jamming your Blackberry. This and more horror scenes flash through your mind in a nano second.
Then it occurs to you; if the roles were reversed and Obama came close to winning and wanted to be the vice presidential candidate, could you imagine the convention saying no?
Clinton," If we get your commitment now (we've already got a bunch of Obama super delegates to support her) we don't have to take a vote or fight in Denver. With Hillary's pledged delegates and a hundred or so super delegates we'll be over 2026 before the end of June. Saves Barack the hassle of picking a running mate and we can be united against McCain on day one."
Are you going to tell the former president of the United States no again? Anyway you convince yourself it's a great ticket and will help Obama in those big swing states. "I'm with you Mr. President". Clinton," I knew I could count on you". You want to bet there aren't 20% of the super delegates who would buy this deal? We're talking super delegates here, not profiles in courage.
If Hillary Clinton wants the vice presidential nomination, and her loyal delegates demand it, and the Clinton machine puts its full weight behind it, she will be on the
This could all mean nothing if Obama is determined enough not to pick her, and cuts a deal before Denver that gives her something she wants, in exchange for her standing down on both the nomination and the vice presidency. And it assumes she wants the vice presidency (which I think she does at this point ... and badly.)
Still, odds are he picks "some middle aged white man," and white women are left steaming.
Then, it's on Barack and Barack alone -- no 527s, remember -- to win them back.
George W. Bush and the politicization of absolutely everything
Never in American history have we seen a sitting U.S. president go onto foreign soil and knee-cap a fellow American ... a sitting U.S. Senator, who could follow him into the presidency, at that. Then again, we've never had a president quite like George W. Bush. Speaking before Israel's Knesset today, Bush, having arrived in Israel this week to the tune of rocket fire, took a nakedly political swipe at Senator Barack Obama, essentially comparing his fellow American to an appeaser of Hitler:
JERUSALEM (CNN) – In a particularly sharp blast from halfway around the world, President Bush suggested Thursday that Sen. Barack Obama and other Democrats are in favor of "appeasement" of terrorists in the same way U.S. leaders appeased Nazis in the run-up to World War II.
"Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," said Bush, in what White House aides privately acknowledged was a reference to calls by Obama and other Democrats for the U.S. president to sit down for talks with leaders like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"We have heard this foolish delusion before," Bush said in remarks to the Israeli Knesset. "As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American Senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
Full transcript here. Obama's communication team wasted no time firing back:
“Obviously this is an unprecedented political attack on foreign soil,” Obama Communications Director Robert Gibbs told CNN’s John Roberts on American Morning Thursday, adding that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had been quoted Wednesday making remarks about dialogue with Iran that were similar to the Illinois senator's.
“Let's not confuse precondition with preparation,” said Gibbs of any talks with Iran. “Obviously these meetings would be full of preparation. But we're not going to sit down and engage Iran, unless or until they give up their nuclear weapons program.
“It is unfortunate that an American president would fly halfway across the world and make a political attack instead of honoring the tremendous accomplishment and achievement of the 60th anniversary of the birth of Israel,” he added.
Obama's camp also released a statement, amplifying the point:
It is "sad" that Bush would use Israel's 60th anniversary "to launch a false political attack. George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists."
Meanwhile, the White House issues a rather flimsy denial that Bush's comments were directed at Obama:
"It is not," press secretary Dana Perino told reporters in Israel. "I would think that all of you who cover these issues and have for a long time have known that there are many who have suggested these types of negotiations with people that the president, President Bush, thinks that we should not talk to. I understand when you're running for office you sometimes think the world revolves around you. That is not always true. And it is not true in this case."
No thank you note yet from the McCain campaign for his buddy George's "help" with the Jewish vote. No reaction, either, from Reagan's ongoing dialogue with the Soviets or Nixon's visit to China.
It's time once again, to play "If I had a 527." This time, the subject is the phony gas tax holiday, for which Hillary Clinton has climbed aboard the "straight talk express" for a ride to fantasyland. She's even throwing the idea of consulting experts -- I think they're called economists -- under the bus in the service of her ambition. So what should Team Obama do? Maybe run a radio ad like this...
As I said in the Youtube notes, the old politics sucks, but sometimes, you've got to do what you've got to do. Barack should be tying Hillary Clinton to John McCain in every speech and every ad, in order to consolidate core Democrats. He should hit her squarely in the jaw on the gas tax, on the basis of it costing jobs, and he should belittle it -- directly, and without the high-minded rhetoric, the better to reach downscale voters.
Back in January, when he dropped out of the presidential race after failing to win or place in any of the first four contests, John Edwards had a great deal of political capital to spend. He could have thrown his weight behind either of the two front-runners at any time; before "Tsunami Tuesday," before "secondarily Super Tuesday," February 19th, before the big Texas, Ohio or Pennsylvania primaries ... any of those times would have given Edwards major ink. But then, of course, the ink would have run dry, his time in the spotlight would have faded, and he'd be "John Edwards Who?" before you know it.
By holding out until later in the game, Edwards preserved his mystique, and his viability as a possible running mate for the eventual winner.
Not anymore. John Edwards' chance to be a player in the presidential race of 2008 is draining out little by little, as North Carolina voters go to the polls today. You can almost hear the sound of destiny riding off into the sunset.
See, had Edwards, who was born in South Carolina but represented North Carolina in the Senate for one term, come out and endorsed either Barack or Hillary before this week, he would have provided valuable atmospherics to Hillary as a winner, or Barack as a guy white guys with a drawl can hang with, which would have been helpful in Indiana, too. Edwards still has a national constituency, particularly among left wing Democrats, and had he endorsed, he might at least have made Barack's vice presidential short list, or the short list for "poverty czar" in a HRC administration. Not that he would have ultimately made the cut, but making the list would have stretched his 15 minutes a few minutes more.
Instead, Edwards is just an observer of the NC and Indiana primaries, like everybody else.
Perhaps he's holding out to try to be a player at the convention. But with just 19 delegates (which, who knows, could be decisive at this point I guess) and the fact that he failed to carry either of his home states in 2004 as John Kerry's running mate, and the fact that in reality, his political power in North Carolina is about bupkis, about the only real card Edwards and his wife Elizabeth had to play was the endorsement card. Even if they had split their endorsement -- John for Barack, Elizabeth for Hillary -- they would have preserved their news value going into the June cycle. And even with his liabilities (short time in the Senate, rich lawyer with puffy hair persona,) Edwards was a decent choice, at least for the short list, particularly since he has had the experience running as wing man in a national campaign (I used to call Barack-Edwards "the Miami Vice ticket," only with Crockett and Tubbs reversed.)
But now, all that's left are Edwards' faults, and his failure to play his strongest hand when it really counted. And sorry, guys, the People Magazine thing ain't gonna keep you interesting.
One more from the Times: Thomas Friedman muses about America's sense of lost greatness, and throws in the fact that hope and inspiration, on the order that Barack Obama is trying to deliver, are not trivial to the daunting task of rebuilding America. It strikes me that, and Friedman didn't say this, Hillary Clinton is attempting to gin up a sense of "fight" in her voters -- we're going to fight this one and that one, the Republicans and the Obamaphiles, the media and whoever else gets in our way. In a sense, what she's promising is to bring the 90s back wholesale -- including the drama and the clashes of civilization with whoever's considered "the other side."
That kind of thing may inspire a temporary sense of superiority, which on a bad day can be mistaken for greatness, and she's making downscale Democrats feel in charge (and older, white women, too) but none of these can be mistaken for the kind of rebuilt American greatness that Friedman is talking about -- the sense of industry and invention, that we've ceded to Asia and other parts East.
The more I watch the present campaign,the more convinced I am that Hillary is simply not capable of leading that kind of movement. She's too divisive, too angry, to much in it for the fight and the kill, rather than for the much needed outcome: a changed and whole America.
Economists weigh in on the Clinton-McCain gas tax holiday plan and give it the thumbs down:
Backing up Obama's position against Clinton's proposal to suspend the 18.4-cent-per-gallon tax for the summer is a slew of economists who argue that the proposal, first offered by Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, would be counterproductive. They argue that cutting the tax would drive up demand for gas at a time when the supply is tight, which would mean that the price at the pump would drop by much less than 18 cents per gallon.
The tax suspension would, as a result, cut into the highway trust fund that the tax supports, a loss of about $9 billion over the summer, but also result in fatter profit margins for oil companies. Clinton says she would replace the lost revenue by raising taxes on the oil industry.
Harvard professor N. Gregory Mankiw, who has written a best-selling textbook on economics, said what he teaches is different from what Clinton and McCain are saying about gas taxes. "What you learn in Economics 101 is that if producers can't produce much more, when you cut the tax on that good the tax is kept . . . by the suppliers and is not passed on to consumers," he said.
He anticipates the Clinton campaign "will use the same words and the same language to attack me that Republicans used to attack me when I was DNC chair and I was defending Bill Clinton."
"I say this as a longtime participant in old politics," he says. "I've sparred with everyone from Lee Atwater to Karl Rove."
Andrew points out that he was in charge during a rather tumultuous time for the party — during impeachment and the Florida recount.
"The same words will come out of the [Clinton campaign's] surrogates' mouths to attack me that the Republicans used — and that demonstrates the very hypocrisy of the old politics," he says. "We need to unite the party. You can actually be for someone without being against someone else."
February 2006. Photo Credit: J. Perez/City of Miami
Rev. Gaston Smith, the high-flying Miami preacher accused of stealing money from a non-profit named after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., turns on his friend and parishioner, Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones:
In police interview, pastor says he feels used
BY SCOTT HIAASEN [I wonder if that's Carl Hiaasen's son...]
The Rev. Gaston Smith sat in the Miami-Dade state attorney's office last October facing a veteran prosecutor and a pair of investigators with some uncomfortable questions about one of his parishioners: Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones. The investigators wanted to know about $8,000 in consulting fees that Smith paid Spence-Jones before she was elected in 2005. The money came from a $25,000 Miami-Dade County grant to Friends of MLK, a nonprofit organization the pastor ran.
Under questioning, the pastor said Spence-Jones, then an aide to Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, had urged him to create the nonprofit in the first place -- and that she had helped arrange the county grant without his knowledge. Smith said he felt like he had been used.
''It's almost like date rape,'' Smith told investigators, according to an interview transcript. ``I've been violated.''
The transcript was among more than 4,000 documents the state attorney's office released last week to defense lawyers for Smith, who was charged in January with stealing $10,000 in grant money for himself. The Miami Herald obtained these records under a publicrecords request.
Smith's statements -- secretly recorded by a Miami-Dade police detective -- cast a new light on the ongoing investigation of Spence-Jones. Prosecutors and police have been examining the commissioner's finances while also pursuing allegations of influence peddling since Spence-Jones joined the commission. ...
Note to pols: preachers don't do well in jail...
Prosecutors would not discuss the theory of their investigation of the commissioner. The transcript of the Oct. 9 meeting shows that prosecutor Richard Scruggs told Smith, ``Either you got taken advantage of or you're a co-conspirator.''
No theory yet? Really?
Nearly four months later, Smith, the pastor at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Liberty City, was arrested on one count of grand theft, accused of taking $10,000 in grant money through ATM withdrawals -- including a $500 withdrawal at a Las Vegas martini bar.
Smith's lawyer, Michael Tein, said Friday that the grant money went toward legitimate expenses. He said he believes his client was arrested in attempt to pressure him to provide more evidence against Spence-Jones -- but he insists his client has said all he knows.
Let me stipulate to the fact that I really like Michelle Spence-Jones. She's a lovely person, and comes across as sincere, and truly interested in bettering her community. But there are so many allegations being made about her conduct, that you've got to wonder just how business is being done down in Miami. I also don't think she is the ultimate target of this investigation. It goes beyond her, and once prosecutors are finished squeezing the chubby Rev. Gasston, they're going to start squeezing her. There are other fish on that line. Let's just leave it at that.
George Allen learned it ... Don Imus learned it ... David Shuster got a taste of it ... that weird guy who played Kramer learned it ... Isaiah Washington learned it, too, big time, and Rev. Jeremiah Wright has lost a 30-year career of good works learning it ... and now, Air America talker Randi Rhodes has, too. The New Law of Public Discourse is that soundbites can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion, and you only get to screw up once. Sez the Huffpo:
Air America host Randi Rhodes called both Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton "whores" in a recent appearance, seen below. Rhodes, who hosts a weekday radio show on Air America, said to the cheering crowd, "What a whore Geraldine Ferraro is! She's such a fucking whore!" She then proceeded to say, "Hillary is a big fucking whore, too" to a mixed audience reaction. "You know why she's a big fucking whore? Because her deal is always, 'Read the fine print, asshole!'"
... Rhodes has been now been suspended from the network.
... Indefinitely ... And yes, there is Youtube. This is big news, frankly, for Sam Seder, a very capable on-air guy who is thankfully no longer saddled with that crackpot comedienne he used to be stuck with on "The Majority Report." Now he'll get his big chance to shine, unless AA does their usual goofball thing by putting Elaine Boozler on the mic. (shudder...)
Back to The law. It was first instituted On January 6, 1988, when then-CBS sports analyst Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder dropped the race bomb during a commentary about black athletes:
He told a Washington D.C. television reporter that a black athlete, “…is bred to be the better athlete because, this goes all the way to the Civil War when ... the slave owner would breed his big woman so that he would have a big black kid."
"The black is a better athlete to begin with because he's been bred to be that way -- because of his high thighs and big thighs that goes up into his back, and they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs. This goes back all the way to the Civil War when during the slave trading, the owner -- the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid."
JTG's utterance would have been unremarkable even a couple decades earlier, when racism was as American as apple pie. But from Greek's firing on, there was a serious limit to the kinds of things you could say in public, and not lose your gig.
Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott got slapped down by the law in 1992, and it has rolled on merrily from there.
Call it political correctness, limitations on free speech, call it corporate cowardice. It really doesn't matter. As Bush spokesliar Ari Fleischer once said, you really do have to watch what you say...