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 line at the North Dade Regional Library in Miami Gardens stretched onto the sidewalk and around three corners, almost surrounding the building. I wish I could have gotten an aerial shot. Stage two of the line, after the first bend, is pictured above.
One of my biggest frustrations in observing and working in elections in Florida since I moved here in 1997 has been the inconsistency of the black vote, which turned out in great numbers in 2000, only to be so discouraged by the outcome, that the numbers dwindled every election thereafter. This August, the primary election saw county-wide turnout in Miami-Dade and Broward, the biggest Democratic strongholds and largest black voter bases, stall at pathetic 6-10 point rates.
This election has energized black voters (including African-Americans and Caribban-Americans) like nothing I've ever seen. The lines are exaggerated, the people happy to be there. It's an incredible outpouring unlike anything I've ever seen. Ever. It's actually moving, to see so many people pouring their hopes and dreams into this election, and to be even a small part of this history-making event. And make no mistake, the time that folks are spending in line is making a difference:
Through Thursday, Democrats cast 46 percent of the 3.4 million early and absentee votes in Florida, while Republicans cast 38 percent.
That's a big shift since 2004, when Democrats were outvoted 44 percent to 41 percent by Republicans in early and absentee ballots, according to a study of Florida voting data.
The recent Democratic gains have been most pronounced in early voting, where Democrats have outnumbered Republicans by 432,000 out of nearly two million voters.
Black voters have made the difference, accounting for 16 percent of the early and absentee voters so far -- with 86 percent of them registered Democrats. In 2004, black turnout for early and absentee voting was a bit more than 10 percent of the total.
Black turnout has been especially high in the state's urban areas. In Broward County, blacks accounted for 39 percent of all early voters at the polls through Thursday; in Miami-Dade County, it was 30 percent. In Orange County, 30 percent of all voters were black; in Duval County, it was 36 percent.
And it's not just black voters. Hispanic voters are also trending Obama (as are a strong, 40-plus share of urban and suburban white voters). On Hispanics, campaign manager David Plouffe says:
''We're doing very well with Puerto Rican voters, Colombian voters. We're doing, I think, surprisingly well with younger Cuban voters,'' Plouffe said in a conference call with reporters Friday. ``We think we're going to carry the Hispanic vote in Florida if the trend lines continue.''
Dario Moreno, a pollster with Florida International University's Metropolitan Center, said Plouffe's description of the Hispanic voting bloc is in line with a poll released this week showing that Obama leads McCain by 20 percentage points among non-Cuban Hispanics and was slightly ahead among Cuban Americans under 45.
More on the Hispanic vote in Florida here. And another note on the black vote from the NY Times:
Growing up in St. Louis in the 1950s and ’60s, Deddrick Battle came to believe that the political process was not for people like him — a struggling black man whose vote, he was convinced, surely would not count for much of anything. The thought became ingrained as an adult, almost like common sense.
But a month ago, at age 55, Mr. Battle registered to vote for the first time.
“This is huge,” Mr. Battle, a janitor, said after his overnight shift cleaning a movie theater. “This is bigger than life itself. When I was coming up, I always thought they put in who they wanted to put in. I didn’t think my vote mattered. But I don’t think that anymore.”
Across the country, black men and women like Mr. Battle who have long been disaffected, apolitical, discouraged or just plain bored with politics say they have snapped to attention this year, according to dozens of interviews conducted in the last several days in six states. They are people like Percy Matthews of the South Side of Chicago, a 25-year-old who did vote once but whose experience was so forgettable that he cannot recall with certainty whom he cast a ballot for or even what year it was. Now an enthusiastic Democrat, he says the old days are gone.
And Shandell Wilcox, 29, who registered to vote in Jacksonville, Fla., when she was 18, then proceeded to ignore every election other than the current one. She voted for the first time on Wednesday.
Over and again, first-time and relatively new voters like Mr. Matthews and Ms. Wilcox, far past the legal voting age, said they were inspired by the singularity of the 2008 election and the power of Mr. Obama’s magnetism. Many also said they were loath to miss out on their part in writing what could be a new chapter of American history — the chance to vote for a black president.
Of course, the most wonderful thing about the Obama campaign is, to quote Bill Clinton, its diversity. This isn't just a movement of black people, but of Americans of all backgrounds, pulling together for a single goal. The increae in black turnout is simply symbolic of the power of the idea of change, and how it can bring people back into the process no matter how long they've felt alienated from it.
And speaking of the campaign, Deval Patrick came down today, and he visited three polling sites and a church in South Florida. The Massachusetts governor is a very nice guy, very down to earth. He's Harvard class of (no comment,) and we chatted about his living in Dunster House (I was Cabot.) Great guy, and he got to see firsthand the incredibly long lines in predominantly African-American and one Caribbean-centric site.
Gov. Deval Patrick addresses a crowd standing behind stage one of the line at North Dade Library. Pictured here is the part of the line that extended immediately outside the door of the library.
Gov. Patrick (right) waits to speak as Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson addresses the crowd from her crutches. Beside her is Commissioner Barbara Jordan, whose district includes Miami Gardens. Two of the most outstanding politicians, and best women politicians, out there, in my opinion.
The Huffpo was there in the form of a guy named John Hood, who filed this report:
MIAMI--Pulling up to the North Dade Regional Library in the inner city suburb of Miami Gardens for one of Florida's numerous early voter rallies, the first thing that strikes you is the line of early voters itself. Not just any line, mind you, but a line that begins at the library doors, folds in two, covers the parking lot, stretches out to the sidewalk, then snakes around a very large block. We're talking thousands here. Literally. All of whom who've come to exercise their right to vote -
Beyond the length of the line though, what might even be more striking is the excitement, which is as palpable as the sun is hot and high. Picture the biggest block party you can imagine, throw in a neighborhood-sized backyard BBQ, a county fair, and a traveling carnival, and you'll get half the idea of the energy of this rally, as well as the cross-section of those in attendance. Young toughs and dressed-up grannies, college students and their proud parents, single mothers, single fathers, entire families, in collars of blue and white, not only having the time of their lives, but having it on behalf of what all would agree was the most important election of their lifetime.
In the thick of it all is Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, here in town at the request of the presidential candidate himself. People receive Patrick with so much warmth it's almost as if he was their governor, and not someone else's. And in many respects he is, not simply because of race, but because of the bootstraps, but because of the example he's set for everyone. And, of course, because Patrick, like Obama, represents a sea change in America, a sea change that everyone here is a part of. ...
Read the rest here. And now for a little video entertainment:
The wheels continue to fly off the McCain-Palin straight talk express... Politico's Mike Allen reports:
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, on a “demoralized” McCain campaign: “Palin is going to be the most vivid chapter of the McCain campaign's post-mortem. … Those loyal to McCain believe they have been unfairly blamed for over-handling Palin. They say they did the best they could with what they got.”
***In convo with Playbook, a top McCain adviser one-ups the priceless “diva” description, calling her “a whack job.”
Brad Blakeman summarizes GOP values as well as anyone this century: he defends the RNC's spending the cost of a single family home in some states on a Saks and Neiman Marcus shopping spree for Sarah Palin (and her kids) while sneering at Barack Obama flying home to Hawaii to visit his ailing grandmother. Here you go:
The Naples News-Press has endorsed Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott, despite his ethical lapse at a Sarah Palin rally in which he used Barack Obama's middle name to disparage the Democratic candidate (while Scott was in uniform.) Well, that's their prerogative, just as it's the feds' prerogative to investigate Scott for possible violation of the Hatch Act. But what Scott said long after the rally, in his own defense, might actually be worse than what he did on stage. Specifically, from an October 14 story in another Naples paper:
Scott, when told by a reporter that some people saw use of the name as an attempt to frighten people, responded, "Well, what is ‘Barack Obama?' That's not ‘Mike Scott' or ‘Jim Smith.'"
Well, what does Sheriff Scott mean by that, exactly? "...what is ‘Barack Obama?' That's not ‘Mike Scott' or ‘Jim Smith.???" If I lived in Lee County and my name were, say, Samir Muhammad or Sebastien Ibeke (my father's name) or ... say ... Barack Obama, I might not be so quick to take the News Press' endorsement to the polls, and I might not be so confident of the police services Mike Scott would provide for me.
It's so unusual to see a black person at the McCain-Palin rallies (I suspect it might even be a little dangerous to show up to some of the Palin ones, without clear identification proving you're a Republican...) that it caught many people's attention when an African-American man stood up at the John McCain rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin yesterday, declared he'd taken an "ass whooping" for supporting McCain (RawStory has the video) and "begged" him to get down even further into the gutter with his campaign. As reported in the WaPo:
"It is absolutely vital that you take it to Obama, that you hit him where it hits, there's a soft spot," said James T. Harris, a local radio talk show host, who urged the Republican nominee to use Barack Obama's controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., and others against him.
"We have the good Reverend Wright. We have [the Rev. Michael L.] Pfleger. We have all of these shady characters that have surrounded him," Harris bellowed. "We have corruption here in Wisconsin and voting across the nation. I am begging you, sir. I am begging you. Take it to him."
So who is Harris (besides the latest contestant to try and steal away Clarence Thomas' "world's most hated black man by other black people" title? According to his WTMJ AM 620 station bio:
James began his career as a professional educator teaching high school history at Brown Deer High School. Throughout his career he has pursued global travel, visiting Western and Eastern Europe, India and West Africa, where he immersed himself in a multitude of diverse cultural systems in order to better understand the culture of his hometown of Milwaukee. Long before getting an opportunity to host his own show, he was known to many WTMJ listeners as the caller named James from Sherman Park.
He also has his own website and blog. Here are some of this thoughts, from just after Tuesday night's debate:
I don't know what else to say. If I were undecided, there was nothing in last night's debate that would flip me to one side or the other. But I'm not an undecided... I have convictions. I can think, reason and discern. It seems to me that in order to appeal to the undecided, one should present a strong ideology.
Moderate Conservatism vs. Socialist Liberalism.
OK... Let's try fear!
I fear socialism. I fear liberalism. I fear a Barack Obama Presidency.
One way or another, things are about to really change. The fate of the free world lies with 20% of Americans who have no convictions.
Yes, my man. Frightening.
You know, my radio mentor's name is James T, also. Thank God he's sane, and not running around begging John McCain to dive deeper into the gutter. Not saying Mr. Harris doesn't have a right to his own politics ... just that he should be sure to wear his McCain T-shirt if he goes to any more rallies ... best way not to be told to "sit down, boy!" (ahem...)
BTW, if you've seen the "angry man" video, did you notice that McCain seems deeply uncomfortable with the campaign he's running, and the crowd he's in? He answers the "angry man" with an oddly juxtaposed call to "act together as one nation, indivisible..." not what the crowd wanted to hear. Just an observation... Watch for yourself:
I have no doubt that CBS News' Dean Reynolds put down his very real feelings in this "reporter's notebook" posted on the broadcaster's website. But damn, does anybody except Dean Reynolds really give a crap about how the well-paid network reporters covering the presidential candidates are managed? Covering the presidential campaign is a plum assignment, especially this year, and you're beeyatching about Obama's plane not being Febreezed, or the events not being "choreographed" for the convenience of the media? Dude, are you serious?
I've covered some Obama events here in South Florida (for much smaller outlets than CBS), and yes, there's hellafide security and lots of ground rules, ridiculously early press call times and the occasional inconvenient positioning ... but guess what? Barack Obama is a black guy (and the first to lead a major ticket) who's being called a terrorist sympathizer by his opponent's campaign and threatened by angry wingers who want to "kill him" because they think he's a Muslim Manchurian Candidate so they can present the spoils to their Alaskan snow queen! Can you say, "Secret Service"??? Besides, you're complaining that you and other media types had to wait around in Miami, while people are freezing their asses off in cold parts of the country because they can't afford their heating bills. Hold a sec while I break out my violin.
Mr. Reynolds, you're being paid, I'm assuming, six figures to fly around the country for free, and be a witness to history. If it makes you happy that McCain's press team wipes your nose better and gives you the warm fuzzies, I suppose I'm happy for you. Other than that: Get a life. There's a recession going on and the rest of the ... well, world ... has a lot more important things going on.
On Monday, October 6,2008 Lee County Sheriff, Mike Scott in full uniform, spoke at a political rally for the McCain-Palin presidential campaign. He spoke of Barack Obama, calling him "Barack Hussein Obama". This was a blatant attempt to conjure images of Islamic extremism and the rally attendees took it as such. They began to cheer after the word "Hussein" and before the Sheriff had made his point. It was the name, and its connotations, they were cheering.
Sheriff Scott has said that he will not apologize and if Obama doesn't like being called Hussein, "Perhaps he should have changed his name." I would like to point out that the Sheriff's middle name was not used when he was introduced. Sarah Palin's middle name was not used when the Sheriff introduced her just moments after he referenced the Senator by his full name. This is clearly an attempt to make a racially charged assertion about who Barack Obama is, based upon his name.
Associations like these, are not only inaccurate as Senator Obama is not a Muslim, but they are inappropriate because being a Muslim doesn't equate to being a terrorist. Suggesting otherwise is offensive to Muslims, and others living in the state of Florida. The Sheriff is a public official, whose salary is paid by the very citizens he offends with such a statement.
Central Florida is home to more than 25,000 practicing Muslims according to The Islamic Society of Central Florida and countless other religious and racial minority groups. It is unacceptable to have public officials who display their disdain for these groups so proudly.
We request that Sheriff Mike Scott be publicly reprimanded for his behavior and asked to issue a public apology.
So far they're at 75 signatures. The actual petition is here.
Sheriff Mike Scott gave an interview to the Lehigh Acres News Star in Fort Myers and issued a statement on what will heretofore be known as "Namegate." First, a clip from the statement:
• Everyone seems to agree on the underlying issue…my mention of a Presidential candidate’s full, legal name of record. There were no accusations, innuendos, untruths, or malicious words before or after the candidate’s name; although many others have made inflammatory statements about the candidate’s character, etc. I did not change my tone or otherwise punctuate or repeat the name with any verbal or physical emphasis.
• “Why” did I use the Candidate’s full, legal name of record? Despite varying inferences, interpretations, opinions, and extrapolations; the answer is because I wanted to, much like I wanted to voice my support for the Barron Collier Marching Band.
• The issue of my status as an elected official participating in a political rally has been raised along with the suggestion that this somehow clouds my representation of all constituents. I have not heard similar concern over the many other elected officials that day and everyday engaging in the same activities across our state and country. For example – Governor Crist is the Governor of all Florida’s people and his support of the Republican ticket in no way implies diminished concern for anyone opposing his political choice. Likewise, my political choices against the backdrop of my proven record of service, in no way suggest diminished concern for any individual or group.
• The issue of my appearance at the rally in uniform has been raised. It is noteworthy that I recently completed my primary campaign and continue my general campaign in the same uniform. My practice has been to wear the uniform at all times and as is undisputed, I am on duty 24/7 and 365. It is also noteworthy that I joined my fellow Florida Sheriffs in Tampa very recently for a political rally…all were in full uniform. At no time during this week’s rally did I mention the agency I represent; however, I was introduced by my official title. Given the introduction and my widespread name and face recognition in this area, I am satisfied that my apparel is irrelevant and the same reactions would have resulted had I been wearing a suit and tie.
Now, about that uniform you say you wear "at all times...." when you say "at all times," do you mean "ALL times, all times? Or just at "sometimes" all times...
Mike Scott (second from the right) at an event last summer, sanz uniform...
In the statement, Scott also goes after the local NAACP for criticizing him, saying:
... The strong support these groups have always provided me is rooted in my tireless efforts to work equally hard for all of Lee County. I delivered the Dunbar Community Policing Office and shocked business owners along MLK Jr. Blvd. by regularly stopping in to say hello during my first term as Sheriff. If their support is so shallow as to wane over one (1) word that was legal, accurate, and void of supporting malice beyond dispute, then I will respectfully move on without their political support and without change to my loyalty to them or their constituents.
Well, I mean he did come by and visit...
Scott says he expects to be fully cleared on the Hatch Act charges, and that he won't be making any further public statements. Except for in this intervew, as recounted by columnist Sam Cook, in which Scott appears to leave his body, where the reason and logic purportedly reside...
"I answered a lot of e-mails and signed my middle name (Joseph) on all of them,'' says Scott, 45. "I don't see anything wrong with calling him Barack Hussein Obama.
"That is his name.'' ...
... Scott, in an interview Tuesday with news-press.com and The News-Press, says he doesn't comprehend the commotion his name-calling put in motion.
"I was told to speak three to four minutes and fire up the crowd,'' he says. "Help welcome her to Southwest Florida.
"That's pretty much what I did. I've watched that tape over and over. I don't see any malice. What I said was truthful and accurate. I did not say anything unethical, immoral or illegal.''
That's a matter of opinion.
If Scott didn't believe name-dropping "Hussein'' would create upheaval in Southwest Florida, he isn't the astute politician who captured 91 percent of the vote in Lee County's Republican primary victory last month.
Again, Scott says he won't back down from his comment.
"I'll never, ever, ever apologize,'' he says. "There is nothing in my mind to apologize for. I just can't do it. That's all. It's the principle of the thing.''
Politically speaking - even for a landslide winner - his remark was one dumb move.
Perhaps no one ever told the sheriff that throwing Barack Obama's middle name into a conversation is the most common tool that right wing talk radio hosts, bloggers and such use to deride the Senator as "foreign," an undercover Muslim, and even a friend of terrorists. (In fact, it was just done again less than two hours ago in Pennsylvania...) Maybe he's the one guy in America who despite being a Rudy Giuliani-loving Republican, who I'm assuming has at least heard of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the like, or even listened to them from time to time, still doesn't know that. Assuming he is that dumb, or that naive, maybe next time, our man with the badge should simply use the names Sarah Louise Palin or to refer to John Sydney McCain III in public conversation, just to balance things out.
Lee County, Florida Sheriff Mike Scott isn't talking to the press. So says Lt. Robert Forrest, Commander of the county's Publ ic Information Office. Forrest, the day after Scott delivered a stem winding introduction for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at a campaign rally in Estero, located north of Bonita Springs on Florida's Gulf Coast.
Scott told a roaring crowd, Monday, that there are three types of people in the world: "the ones who make things happen, the ones who watch what happens and the ones who wonder what happened." Then he added, "let's leave Barack Hussein Obama wondering what happened."
The response from Lee County constituents, and from the media, was immediate.
"We've taken probably 1,000 phone calls during this business day and we've had pretty much a 50-50 proposition," when it comes to callers' opinions of Scott's rhetoric Monday, Forrest said, "with some individuals very passionately stating their opinions, some of them in a calm, well articulated manner and others in a not so articulate, calm demeanor."
Forrest added that Scott has "wiped his hands" of the matter and didn't plan to give any interviews.
Before he stopped talking to the press, Scott was unapologetic, telling local reporters he "absolutely, unequivocally" didn't regret using Obama's middle name, and adding, "frankly, if this is such a hot-button issue, he, as a Harvard lawyer, could have changed it if he didn't like it." Obama's middle name is often used derisively by conservative talk radio and blogs, including by those attempting to imply that Obama, who is Christian, is in fact a Muslim.
"Obviously a lot of folks feel compelled to say something about this," Forrest said, but "he meant nothing by the use of the middle name, he was surprised by all the hoopla and he is moving on."
He might be the only one.
On Tuesday, the Office of Special Counsel in Washington D.C. confirmed to THE REID REPORT that it has opened an investigation into Scott's political activities Monday, which were conducted while he was in uniform. According to the federal Hatch Act, such activities might be prohibited by law. According to the Office of Special Counsel:
The Hatch Act applies to executive branch state and local employees who are principally employed in connection with programs financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States or a federal agency. Employees who work for educational or research institutions which are supported in whole or in part by a State or political subdivision of the State are not covered by the provisions of the Hatch Act.
It states that covered persons may not "use official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the results of an election or nomination," and that while "an employee's conduct is also subject to the laws of the state and the regulations of the employing agency… employees should be aware that the prohibitions of the Hatch Act are not affected by state or local laws."
"Today we've launched a formal investigation into the sheriffs activity during yesterday's political event," OSC Director of Congressional-Public Affairs Anthony Guglielmi told THE REID REPORT Tuesday. Guglielmi said that the first step would be to determine whether Scott was in fact covered by the Hatch Act, including if the Lee County Sheriff's office has received any federal grants. If violations are found, Scott would be notified and advised "how to rectify" the situation, and could face penalties including dismissal, or forfeiture of federal assistance equal to two years salary.
Guglielmi said his office became aware of the situation through "media coverage and calls from concerned citizens." He said the OSC is "taking a pro-active step" to investigate this and many other Hatch Act related claims "before the election."
On the local laws, at least, Scott appears to be in the clear. According to Forrest, Lee County policy states that "deputies and officers can't campaign in uniform, but a sheriff can because he is an elected official." Forrest added that Scott is always in uniform: "he is the chief law enforcement officer of Lee county regardless of where he is or what he is doing."
Scott's previous statements to the media said he was not speaking for the Sheriff's department on Monday.
Forrest called Scott, a Republican who is on the ballot for re-election in November, "a thorough professional and extremely popular sheriff in Lee County who is well respected and well liked," adding that "his track record speaks for itself." Scott was elected in 2004 after defeating a first-term incumbent, Rod Shoap. His official website states that former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is his "inspiration," and that he keeps a Votomatic Vote Recorder used in the 2000 Lee County election in his office. The site reads in part: "the voting booth is the sheriff's daily reminder to be responsive to voters who elected him to office. At the center of his conference table sits a sculpture with an arrow pointing outward, keeping him grounded and focused on the whole agency. Three framed words sit on his desk: Honesty. Trust. Integrity."
Update: Lee County Sheriff under federal investigation
It's the Hatch Act, stupid. I just confirmed with the Office of Special Counsel in D.C. that Sheriff Mike Scott is being investigated for possibly violating the Hatch Act during his partisan speech in uniform on behalf of Sarah Palin yesterday. My story should be posted to an online news outlet near you, very soon. The Public Information Officer at the Lee County Sheriff's Department says Scott has "wiped his hands" of the controversy and won't be talking to the media. This one's Developing...
Under color of authority: Lee County Sheriff a hatchet man in uniform
Lee County, Fla. Sheriff Mike Scott campaigns for Sarah Palin on Monday
Did Lee County, Florida Sheriff Mike Scott violate the rules of his office (in addition to those of propriety,) when he rallied for John McCain and Sarah Palin, and attacked Barack Obama while wearing his uniform? First, the story from yesterday:
Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott took the stage moments ago as one of the introductory speakers at a rally here for Sarah Palin. After delivering brief remarks in support of Palin, Sheriff Scott flipped the switch and used Barack Obama’s middle name in order to incite the crowd of thousands of people who have already gathered here.
“On Nov. 4, let’s leave Barack Hussein Obama wondering what happened,” the law enforcement officer said.
Sheriff Scott essentially lent the color of police authority to the implication, by him, and by the subsequent speakers (including Sarah Palin,) not to mention right wing talk radio, Fox News, and the McCain campaign itself, that Barack Obama is an undercover Muslim who is aligned with terrorists. And not a few observers have noted that the McCain campaign is subtly dipping into racist sentiment as well, attempting to scare working class white voters about Obama's "exoticism." (There was a time when race baiting in full uniform wasn't all that uncommon for police officers in the American south, which makes the tone of Scott's appearance all the more ... well ... troubling.) Do the people Scott "protects and serves" in Lee County, which includes Fort Myers, Naples, Punta Gorda and other cities on the Gulf Coast, which I'm assuming includes at least a few black people and which does include more than 95,000 Democrats, feel comfortable with the apolitical and fair disposition of his authority today?
And while the campaign attempted to distance itself ever so slightly from the remarks, they aren't much worse than what John McCain's running mate has been saying in her stump speech about Obama "palling around with terrorists," (which is funny coming from a woman who pals around with her Alaskan separatist hubby...) including the remarks she made after Scott and a talk radio host were done introducing her.
A bit about Scott, from the Lee County Sheriff's website:
Small details in Scott’s office are telling. At one corner sits a Votomatic Vote Recorder used in the 2000 Lee County election. The voting booth is the sheriff’s daily reminder to be responsive to voters who elected him to office.At the center of his conference table sits a sculpture with an arrow pointing outward, keeping him grounded and focused on the whole agency. Three framed words sit on his desk: Honesty. Trust. Integrity.
The new sheriff’s first experience with law enforcement came in 1986 as a probation officer. He joined the Lee County Sheriff’s Office in 1988, serving as a public information officer and Southwest Florida CrimeStoppers coordinator until he resigned in April 2003 to run for sheriff. He also served as a motorcycle deputy in the Traffic Unit. His accolades include being named the 2003 Law Enforcement Coordinator of the Year by the Southeastern CrimeStoppers Association.
He didn’t always want to be in law enforcement, though. Scott had intended on becoming a dentist until advanced chemistry classes at University of South Florida made him think otherwise. He earned an undergraduate degree in political science instead. He also considered general contracting, following his father’s profession, but an economic downturn during that time pointed him in a different direction. Scott later earned his master of business administration degree from IMPAC University.
For inspiration, the sheriff looks to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who Time Magazine named 2001 person of the year for his leadership in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Scott also admires the leadership of Colin Powell and H. Norman Schwarzkopf.
Well, he keeps a memento of the 2000 election (though he wasn't elected until 2004) and callsh Rudy Giuliani his inspiration ... no wonder this guy behaves like a BrownShirt...
“I absolutely, unequivocally don’t regret saying it,” Scott said. “In order to be a speaker at this event, I had to give my full name — Michael Joseph Scott — to the Secret Service, even though I’m the sheriff of Lee County. So why would I apologize? Is there some kind of double standard here where I have to give my full name, but I can’t use his?”
... “I just wanted to use his full name,” Scott said. “And frankly, if this is such a hot-button issue, he, as a Harvard lawyer, could have changed it if he didn’t like it.”
Scott, who was wearing his uniform, said he was representing his own views, not his office.
He defended making those comments while in uniform, though.
“That’s what I wear every day,” Scott said. “That’s what I wore to the McCain rally in Tampa with my fellow sheriffs. But at no point did I say I was speaking on behalf of the sheriff’s office.”
I see. Well while I'm waiting for the Lee County Public Information Office to call me back regarding the ruless about campaigning while in uniform, perhaps we should take a look at a little thing called the Hatch Act. What's that, you ask?
The Hatch Act applies to executive branch state and local employees who are principally employed in connection with programs financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States or a federal agency. Employees who work for educational or research institutions which are supported in whole or in part by a State or political subdivision of the State are not covered by the provisions of the Hatch Act.
Employees of private nonprofit organizations are covered by the Hatch Act only if the statute through which the organization receives its federal funds contains language which states that the organization shall be considered to be a state or local agency for purposes of the Hatch Act, e.g., Headstart and Community Service Block Grant statutes.
An employee’s conduct is also subject to the laws of the state and the regulations of the employing agency. Additionally, employees should be aware that the prohibitions of the Hatch Act are not affected by state or local laws.
... Covered state and local employees may not-
be candidates for public office in a partisan election
use official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the results of an election or nomination
directly or indirectly coerce contributions from subordinates in support of a political party or candidate
So did Sheriff Scott commit a violation? I'm not an attorney, but maybe one should look into it.
CBS News and Knowledge Networks have conducted a nationally representative poll of 473 uncommitted voters to get their immediate reaction to tonight's vice presidential debate.
... Forty-six percent of the uncommitted voters surveyed say Democrat Joe Biden won the debate, compared to 21 percent for Republican Sarah Palin. Thirty-three percent said it was a tie.
Eighteen percent of previously uncommitted percent say they are now committed to the Obama-Biden ticket. Ten percent say they are now committed to McCain-Palin. Seventy-one percent are still uncommitted.
Both candidates improved their overall image tonight. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed say they now have a better impression of Biden. Five percent say they have a worse opinion of the Delaware senator, while 42 percent say they debate did not change their opinion.
Fifty-five percent say they now have a better opinion of Palin. Fourteen percent say they have a worse opinion, while 30 percent say their opinion hasn't changed.
After the debate, 66 percent see Palin as knowledgeable about important issues – up from 43 percent before the debate. But Biden still has the advantage on this – 98 percent saw him as knowledgeable after the debate. That figure was 79 percent before the debate.
Obama says thanks, but no thanks, to the McCain to nowhere
Barack Obama responds to John McCain's indecent proposal:
The White House rivals maneuvered to claim the leadership role on the financial crisis that has overshadowed their campaign six weeks before Election Day. Obama said he would proceed with his debate preparations while consulting with bailout negotiators and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. McCain said he would stop all advertising, fundraising and other campaign events to return to Washington and work for a bipartisan solution.
"It's my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who, in approximately 40 days, will be responsible for dealing with this mess," Obama said at a news conference in Clearwater, Fla. "It's going to be part of the president's job to deal with more than one thing at once."
Meanwhile, it's becoming clear that not only does McCain, who hasn't been to the Hill in five months, but suddenly has rediscovered his love for legislating, hope to forestall a potential Rick Davis campaign ad from the Obama side, not to mention keep from answering questions about the crisis (and take a respite from the polls) McCain is also hoping to use this window of media opportunity to try and lash himself to Obama, and gain political cover for whatever deal comes out of Capitol Hill:
Sen. Lindsey Graham, McCain's representative in debate negotiations, said McCain will not attend the debate "unless there is an agreement that would provide a solution" to the financial crisis. Graham, R-S.C., told The Associated Press that the agreement would have to be publicly endorsed by Obama, McCain, the White House and congressional leaders, but not necessarily given final passage by the House and Senate.
The Obama campaign has read this thing correctly, I think. And I wonder what voters in Mississippi would think if their debate, at one of their cherished universities, was called off do to bad atmospherics? (The university told the AP they are going ahead with preparations, and plan to hold a debate.) Meanwhile, when the McCain-centric Associated Press says this about you:
Even as McCain said he was putting the good of the country ahead of politics, his surprise announcement was clearly political. It was an attempt to try to outmaneuver Obama on an issue in which he's trailing, the economy, as the Democrat gains in polls. He quickly went before TV cameras minutes after speaking with Obama and before the two campaigns had hammered out a joint statement expressing that Congress should act urgently on the bailout.
And while McCain's campaign said he would "suspend" his campaign, it simply will move to Washington knowing the spotlight will remain on him no matter where he is.
... you know you're losing the media. And now, to the timeline of events, which is interesting to say the least:
Obama said he suggested they first issue a joint statement showing bipartisanship.
"When I got back to the hotel, he had gone on television to announce what he was going to do," Obama said.
McCain said he would return to Washington after addressing former President Clinton's Global Initiative session in New York Thursday. He canceled his planned appearance Wednesday on CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman" program and a meeting with the prime minister of India.
Barney Frank just suggested another scenario on MSNBC: that McCain is trying to "air drop himself in here tomorrow" to "set himself up to take credit for something that's going forward without him." Kind of like the G.I. Bill...
Why does John McCain want to postpone Friday's debate? Does he seriously believe that one night in Mississippi, when both he and Barack Obama could easily fly in from Washington after voting, theoretically, on a bill that probably won't even be ready by then, would harm the country? The McCain "breaking news" literally came about 15 minutes, by my clock, after the Obama campaign sent out a statement to the press, which I got in my in-box at 3:38 p.m.
The McCain sudden call for putting politics aside was also synchronized almost perfectly with the White House. Per CNN:
It was not immediately clear how extensive the suspension he announced would be -- whether it would include dropping television advertising or just canceling scheduled appearances. McCain took no questions after reading his statement.
Immediately after the announcement, White House press secretary Dana Perino released this statement: "We welcome Sen. McCain's announcement. We are making progress in negotiations on the financial markets rescue legislation, but we have not finished it yet. Bipartisan support from Sens. McCain and Obama would be helpful in driving to a conclusion."
McCain's campaign also said that he had canceled his scheduled appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman" for Wednesday night.
McCain's announcement came just hours before President Bush was scheduled to address the nation on the troubled state of the U.S. financial system -- a problem for which his administration has proposed a $700 billion bailout.
A Bush statement about anything can only be bad news for McCain, who must know that despite the foreign policy focus, he would face questions about the bailout, and his incoherence on the subject, on Friday.
ABC News reports that McCain not only wants to postpone the debate (the Obama camp says the debate is still on) he has also tried to get the Obama campaign to agree to both campaigns pulling their advertising down. Really? It would sure be a good way to keep the latest New York Times story on his campaign manager's Freddie Mac ATM machine off the air in swing states, no? And McCain can't be enjoying the campaign trail these days, what with all the questions, waffles, and dredging up of the Keating Five scandal ... Oh, and the contradictions. From ABC:
Obama supporter and chief debate negotiator Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., told MSNBC that "we can handle both," when asked about his reaction to McCain's call to postpone the first debate because of the administration's bailout plan.
He believes they are making good progress on Capitol Hill on the bailout and his initial reaction is that the work on the Hill should not preclude the debate from taking place.
An Obama campaign official told ABC News the Democratic presidential candidate called McCain this morning to suggest a joint statement of principles.
McCain called back this afternoon and suggested returning to Washington.
Obama is willing to return to Washington "if it would be helpful." But reiterated Obama intends to debate on Friday.
McCain and his top advisers said the Republican presidential candidate has not committed to voting for the massive financial bailout plan proposed by the Bush administration, with aides saying he will reserve final judgment until there is a final product.
A senior McCain campaign official said that the “Bush package is dead. This is a serious situation. Package must be resolved by the time markets open on Monday."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that McCain had assured Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson that he would support the $700 billion legislation.
Asked about that Wednesday, McCain responded: “I did not say that.”
(Sidebar: want to see the Keating Five scandal boiled down to 97 seconds? Here you go.)
McCain's gambit is as crass as politics get, but it could have a similar effect to his "lipstick" and "Britney" sideshows - taking the focus off him, and his lobbyist pals, and even the economic crisis itself, and putting it back on Obama, who McCain's aides will cast as a crass politico who can't even go along with McCain's principled call for a suspension of campaign hostilities "for the good of the country." This is clearly a gambit to reclaim his "country first" mantra, in a very clever way, and also to stop the bleeding in his own poll numbers, not to mention the questions.
Let's see how Obama plays it, and whether the media falls for it. My guess is that the media will (Fox News is, of course, already setting the tone by lauding McCain's "big move.") We'll see if McCain has lost so much good will with the non-GOP press that they refuse to play along.
This interest in the bailout is new for McCain. As recently as yesterday, when a reporter asked him about his position on the Bush administration's financial proposals, McCain said, "I have not had a chance to see it in writing. I have to examine it." As the stock market tanked and the federal government bailed out financial institutions over the past week, McCain has been campaigning around the country. Originally, McCain McCain planned to skip the vote on the bailout and continue campaigning. The last time McCain voted in the Senate was on April 10.
It's not clear at all that having McCain and Obama back in DC will actually help. "What does seem apparent, though, is that putting the two candidates in the negotiating room is far more likely to distract--and derail--negotiations than having them out on the hustings," Jonathan Cohn writes at the New Republic. "Besides, it's not as if McCain has any great expertise he can bring to this subject. Or does he plan to bring Senator Phill Gramm, Mr. Deregulator himself, along?"
Both candidates have been marginal players; McCain, though, seems to have the potential to make himself a major one, and his move is a mark, most of all, that he doesn't like the way this campaign is going.
But in terms of the timing of this move: The only thing that's changed in the last 48 hours is the public polling.
More reactions from the political consultant class. So far, whether you think it's a brilliant move or a cynical, desperate one depends on your party persuasion (surprise, surprise...)
John McCain sits on the Indian Affairs, Armed Services, and "Commerce, Science and Transportation" committees, none of whom can hold hearings on the bailout. In fact, it's the Senate Banking Committee that handles such things. So again, what is McCain, who has no particular expertise in the area of finance (or the economy for that matter) going back to Washington to do? (besides grandstand and buy himself some time...)
Yet another update...
By the way, Congress is scheduled to recess on Friday, so what is McCain suspending his campaign for, like two days? Is he saying that if there's no deal, he's prepared to stay in Washington into next week? Or is he using this move to push for a quickie deal, which can't be a good idea...
Shared thoughts from the New York Times op-ed page
In the Sunday paper, Frank Rich was feeling what I'm feeling (that Sarah Palin's pick shows how truly scary and sad John McCain has become) but MoDo is thinking what I'm thinking: that the way things are going, including the blithe lack of urgency that, frankly, is emanating from the Obama campaign, this country is in big trouble; and four years from now, the presidential race is going to include more hair pulling than "America's Next Top Model." Perhaps I'll be living in England by then.
Palin separates the (conservative) men from the boys
One of the benefits of the Sarah Palin ascendancy has been the clear line of distinction it has drawn between conservatives -- meaning those who simply adopt the title, but whose concern really is the election of Republicans, no matter what the consequences; those whose "conservatism" is of the Christian Taliban kind -- aimed at forcing the U.S. into an evangelical theocracy -- and true conservatives who cleave to the principles of limited government, meritocracy, and non-adventurism (the conservatism of Barry Goldwater or Dwight Eisenhower versus the mish-mash conservative stew thrown together by Ronald Reagan.)
On the Palin pick, those in the first category -- who live to see Republicans elected, but care little about governing (call them the Karl Rove wing) are defending the choice of Palin based on her "newness", "freshness" and ability to restart the Republican "brand." These "conservatives' could care less about the implications of Palin being a heartbeat away from the presidency, in the perilous times we live in, with issues like Iraq, Iran, Georgia-Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc. on the table. They just live to win (or they're shilling for drilling,) and are easily written off as hacks (put RedState, Bill Kristol and the talk radio crowd firmly here.)
Group two, the evangelical absolutists, are genuinely thrilled with Sarah, as she fulfills their dreams of The Christian Apprentice one day rising to the scepter, forcing us all to accept God's law on abortion, God's rejection of man-made climate change and sissified "science" as the law of the land.
Group three, which includes both actual conservatives, who at the end of the day, do actually care about the country, and the neocon nut-jobs whose passion is Middle East -- specifically, overthrowing the enemies of Israel. This group is waking up to the Palin nomination and cringing (see Charles Krauthammer's reaction here.)
That includes conservatism's most sincere soul, Andrew Sullivan, who had this to say on Friday:
... Think about the men and women serving this country who have every right to trust that their potential commander-in-chief, whatever their party, would have some record of even interest in foreign policy before assuming office.
Think about how the key factor in this decision was not who could defend this country were something dreadful happen to McCain in office but how to tread as much on Obama's convention bounce and use women's equality as a wedge issue among Democrats because it might secure a few points here or there. Oh, and everyone would be surprised. And even Rove would be annoyed.
This is his sense of honor and judgment. This is his sense of responsibility and service.
Here's the real slogan the McCain campaign should now adopt: Putting. Country. Last.
Sarah Palin may well have concealed inner reservoirs of greatness. I hope so! But I'd guess that John McCain does not have a much better sense of who she is, what she believes, and the extent of her abilities than my enthusiastic friends over at the Corner. It's a wild gamble, undertaken by our oldest ever first-time candidate for president in hopes of changing the board of this election campaign. Maybe it will work. But maybe (and at least as likely) it will reinforce a theme that I'd be pounding home if I were the Obama campaign: that it's John McCain for all his white hair who represents the risky choice, while it is Barack Obama who offers cautious, steady, predictable governance.
Here's I fear the worst harm that may be done by this selection. The McCain campaign's slogan is "country first." It's a good slogan, and it aptly describes John McCain, one of the most self-sacrificing, gallant, and honorable men ever to seek the presidency.
But question: If it were your decision, and you were putting your country first, would you put an untested small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency?
Inexperience. Palin has been governor for about two minutes. Thanks to McCain’s decision, Palin could be commander-in-chief next year. That may strike people as a reckless choice; it strikes me that way. And McCain's age raised the stakes on this issue. As a political matter, it undercuts the case against Obama. Conservatives are pointing out that it is tricky for the Obama campaign to raise the issue of her inexperience given his own, and note that the presidency matters more than the vice-presidency. But that gets things backward. To the extent the experience, qualifications, and national-security arguments are taken off the table, Obama wins.
And it’s not just foreign policy. Palin has no experience dealing with national domestic issues, either. (On the other hand, as Kate O’Beirne just told me, we know that Palin will be ready for that 3 a.m. phone call: She’ll already be up with her baby.)
Tokenism. Can anyone say with a straight face that Palin would have gotten picked if she were a man? ...
It was funny watching poor Fred Barnes hector the members of Frank Luntz's Minneapolis focus group today on CSPAN. Luntz tried his damndest to pull some positive news out of the 25 participants about Palin, but it just didn't work. As Joe Klein, who was there, reports:
Only one person said Palin made him more likely to vote for McCain; about half the 25-member group raised their hands when asked if Palin made them less likely to vote for McCain. They had a negative impression of Palin by a 2-1 margin...a fact that was reinforced when they were given hand-dials and asked to react to Palin's speech at her first appearance with McCain on Friday---the dials remained totally neutral as Palin went through her heart-warming(?) biography, and only blipped upwards when she said she opposed the Bridge to Nowhere--which wasn't quite the truth, as we now know. Then there was this, from a woman named Teresa, who went to the Democratic Convention as a Hillary delegate and is leaning toward voting for McCain--obviously the target audience for the Palin pick: "His age didn't really bother me until he picked Palin. What if he dies in office and leaves us with her as President? Also she leans toward the rigid right, and I always thought he was a moderate...You know, I change my mind almost every day, but right now I"m wondering where the John McCain I really liked in 2000 went, what happened to the moderate? This John McCain has the look of someone who is being manipulated--probably by Karl Rove."
It really was interesting, if you get a chance, check it out.
The right wingers are so busy getting the dry heaves over the media coverage of the Barack Obama overseas junket, they've completely forgotten just how much the media remains biased IN FAVOR OF their candidate, John McCain (whom the wingers used to hate because of the media's glowing coverage of him...) judging by the extent to which the MSM still refuses to cover his screw-ups the way the hyperventilate over every Obama surrogate, and the way supposedly sober analysts continue to credit him with foreign policy and military expertise he simply doesn't have -- even when he makes major, major gaffes. If you're not totally confused, here's some of what went on today:
The media is awash in the last 24 hours with coverage of Sen. Barack Obama's trip to Iraq, and the central theme of the coverage is that the Iraqi government is on board with Obama's plan for a withdrawal of US combat forces in 16 months. ABC World News, in its lead story, said "Obama came to Baghdad and he brought his star power with him." The New York Times reports Obama "arrived in Baghdad on Monday, meeting with" Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki "and other senior Iraqi politicians," along with several US officials. The Financial Times says Obama "received a red carpet welcome from the Iraqi government, which called for the withdrawal of US combat forces by the end of 2010." Ali Dabbagh, an Iraqi government spokesman, "said the 2010 goal was an 'Iraqi vision'. His comments came after Maliki this weekend appeared to support Mr Obama's timeframe in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel." Dabbagh said yesterday, "We can't give any schedules or dates, but the Iraqi government sees the suitable date for withdrawal of the US forces is by the end of 2010." The AP notes that "roughly mirrored the Illinois senator's withdrawal schedule and offered a glimpse of Iraq's growing confidence as violence drops and Iraqi security forces expand their roles."
The move by Iraq's government is seen as providing a domestic political boost to Obama. For example, NBC Nightly News said Iraq's leaders have become "Obama's unlikely allies. ... Whatever political benefit that Obama gets from this trip, his calls for more rapid withdrawal have helped Iraq's government to pressure President Bush to seek an exit strategy." On ABC World News, political analyst George Stephanopoulos said, "Halfway through the trip, it's going about as well as it can possibly go" for Obama, who has "hit all his marks." Under the headline "For Obama, A First Step Is Not A Misstep," the New York Times reports in a front-page analysis that the Iraqi move is "providing Mr. Obama with a potentially powerful political boost on a day he spent in Iraq working to fortify his credibility as a wartime leader." The Washington Post says that "as political theater, the events of the past few days have played unfailingly in the Democrat's favor." On MSNBC's Hardball, Roger Simon of The Politico.com said, "Talk about message management. The Obama campaign seems to have managed the message of the Maliki government." CNN's The Situation Room reported Obama is "6,200 miles from the nearest U.S. campaign trail, but, as he steps into the international arena, the imagery sent back home is all American, commander in chief-like, a helicopter tour of Iraq with David Petraeus, the general in charge of multinational forces, a chow-down with the troops in Afghanistan, basketball with US forces in Kuwait."
Meanwhile, poor John McCain is left to bluster on and on to an empty room that THE SURGE WORKED!!! WHY WON'T BARACK OBAMA ADMIT THAT THE SURGE WORKED!!! WHY WON'T BARACK OBAMA GIVE JOHN MCCAIN CREDIT FOR WINNING THE WAR that he isn't in charge of because he's not a commander on the ground and not the commander in chief... (huff ... whew... wheeze...)
“This is a clear choice that the American people have. I had the courage and the judgment to say that I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war. It seems to me that Sen. Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign,” McCain said in Rochester, New Hampshire today around the same time Sen. Obama was speaking with reporters overseas.
And he repeated the charge enough for it to be his new, super official talking point. Klein says he's shocked that McCain would say such a thing -- essentially calling a fellow U.S. Senator a war traitor -- himself, rather than having a scummy surrogate do it. The answer: John McCain is one mean, angry sonofabitch. I thought everybody knew that...
And in all the carping from Camp McCain, about the surge, about the media loving Barack Obama too much (complete with a campaign video that the New Yorker's Daily Intel blog calls awkward, and "old" since it uses an old song from around the 1950s...) about the New York Times rejecting Mac's awful op-ed and on and on and on ... McCain once again screws up a major plank of history (courtesy of Slate's Commander Guy):
Couric: Senator McCain, Sen. Obama says, while the increased number of U.S. troops contributed to increased security in Iraq, he also credits the Sunni awakening and the Shiite government going after militias. And says that there might have been improved security even without the surge. What's your response to that?
McCain: I don't know how you respond to something that is such a false depiction of what actually happened. Colonel McFarlane (phonetic) was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that's just a matter of history. Thanks to General Petraeus, our leadership, and the sacrifice of brave young Americans. I mean, to deny that their sacrifice didn't make possible the success of the surge in Iraq, I think, does a great disservice to young men and women who are serving and have sacrificed.
Uh, one problem Grandpa---the Anbar awakening began long before the surge.
Maybe we're being unfair to Grandpa by suggesting that he's senile and uninformed? Maybe he KNOWS the truth but he's just lying?
I vote for senile and uninformed, but that's just me.
The United States security coordinator for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, retired general James Jones, is preparing an extremely critical report of Israel's policies in the territories and its attitude toward the Palestinian Authority's security services.
A few copies of the report's executive summary (or, according to some sources, a draft of it) have been given to senior Bush Administration officials, and it is reportedly arousing considerable discomfort. In recent weeks, the administration has been debating whether to allow Jones to publish his full report, or whether to tell him to shelve it and make do with the summary, given the approaching end of President George Bush's term.
Jones was appointed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice following the Annapolis peace conference last November. His assignment was to draft a strategic plan to facilitate stabilization of the security situation, as a necessary accompaniment to Israeli-Palestinian final-status negotiations. In this context, he assessed the PA security forces in the West Bank, whose reform is being overseen by another American general, Keith Dayton. Jones has visited the region several times and met with senior Israeli government officials and army officers.
According to both Israeli and American sources, the envoy's conclusions about Israel are scathing. Israelis who met with Jones on his most recent visit here a few weeks ago, including Israel Defense Forces officers, said their impression was that the report would be "very harsh, and make Israel look very bad."
Jones is apparently critical of Israel on two key issues. One is its fairly broad definition of its security interests in the West Bank under any final-status agreement. The other is its attitude toward the PA security services.
Jones is apparently pushing for a release of the full report. I'm assuming the Bushies will squash it.
Before McCain decides to comment, his staff might want to provide him with a helpful map, so that he doesn't decry the actions of Israel's neighbors, the Iraqis, whose Iranian-based al-Qaida operatives flowing over the border with Pakistan have forced Israel's hand.
Hey, did you hear the one about the government-chartered mortgage giants who spent $200 million to buy influence in Washington? About 20 McCain advisers have...
Forget all that talk about "appeasement" and the "Axis of evil..." The Guardian reports the Bush administration is preparing to establish an "interests section" in Iran, similar to the one we have in Cuba. The move is a half-step away from setting up an embassy, and comes on the heels of news the U.S. will send the third in command at the State Department to silently observe European talks with Tehran. Et tu, Bushie? In other news, the neocons will be wearing black today as a sign of mourning. Dick Cheney will be wearing an ankle monitor.
There are two ways to look at this news. Either GWB has turned his foreign policy over to Condi Rice, taking the portfolio away from Dick Cheney and his band of neocon nutjobs, in order to salvage some semblance of a legacy in the final months of his administration ... or, Bush hopes to undermine Barack Obama's foreign policy stances one by one, by preempting him on engagement with Iran, troop drawdowns in Iraq, etc. Either way, it will be interesting to see whether John McCain is swift enough to pick up the ball, or whether he will keep blustering on about staying in Iraq forever and ever and blowing Iran to hell.
Also in the Guardian, a new report says the U.S. ranks 42nd in life expectancy -- lower than any developed nation and on par with Croatia ... and Canada is taken to task for refusing to seek the repatriation of a 15-year-old kid the Bush administration has locked up in Gitmo, and who is seen pleading for help during a videotaped interrogation released this week. From the story:
Toronto-born Omar Khadr's US military lawyer called on Harper to "stand up and act like a prime minister of Canada" and demand the teenager's return.
... Khadr's military lawyer, Lieutenant Commander Bill Kuebler, along with his criticism of Harper, said yesterday that the military tribunals at Guantánamo "aren't designed to be fair" and designed "to produce convictions".
He said anyone who watched Khadr whimpering for his mother and still believed he had vowed to die fighting with a bunch of hardened al-Qaida terrorists is "crazy".
"The tape shows Omar Khadr not as a hardened terrorist but as a frightened boy."
"It just shows how unreliable anything that they extracted from this kid is would be at trial."
Khadr, who was shown in the video aged 16 and questioned after severe sleep deprivation, will have to remain at Guantánamo until he is prosecuted for war crimes in front of a special US military tribunal, later this year.
The liberal Canadian senator and ex-general Romeo Dallaire told Canada Television's (CTV) Newsnet programme that Khadr is a child solider and should be treated and given the same rehabilitation that Canada devotes to other child soldiers around the world.
"We're getting stabbed in the back," Dallaire told the cable channel. "We have worked for years to assist other nations in eradicating the use of children in conflict. But our own country doesn't even want to recognise that our own citizen (is a child soldier). No matter what his politics are, it's totally irrelevant.
Canada's conservative P.M., Stephen Harper, remains unmoved, and Canadian experts are casting doubt on chances for the boy to return to his home country. [Omar Khadr photo, showing him at age 15, from the Canadian Broadcasting Co.]
Meanwhile in the Middle East, Hezbollah supporters are gleeful at the return of five of their members to Beirut, along with the bodies of some 200 fighters, who were exchanged for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers. In Israel, no celebration, just funerals for the two Israelis, whose capture led to Israel's disastrous 2006 war with Lebanon. In the Independent UK, Robert Fisk writes of Israel's folly, and Hezbollah's hubris. On the exchange, Hezbollah got:
Samir Kuntar – 28 years in an Israeli jail for the 1979 murder of an Israeli, his young daughter and a policeman. He arrived from Israel very much alive, clean shaven but sporting a neat moustache, overawed by the hundreds of Hizbollah supporters, a man used to solitary confinement who suddenly found himself idolised by a people he had not seen in almost three decades. His eyes moved around him, the eyes of a prisoner watching for trouble. He was Israel's longest-held Lebanese prisoner; Hizbollah's leader, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, had promised his release. And he had kept his word.
... But it was also a day of humiliation. Humiliation most of all for the Israelis. After launching their 2006 war to retrieve two of their captured soldiers, they killed more than a thousand Lebanese civilians, devastated Lebanon, lost 160 of their own – most of them soldiers – and ended up yesterday handing over 200 Arab corpses and five prisoners in return for the remains of the two missing soldiers and a box of body parts.
Read the whole thing. Trust me.
Back to the states, where the New York Times' Caucus blog reports Barack Obama raised $52 million in June (though Chuck Todd pooh-poohed the number this morning on "Morning Joe," saying Obama had better raise that amount since he's not taking public financing. Geez, the media is STILL sore about that?)
Meanwhile, the paper proper reports on how much Iraqis seem to like Obama, quoting one Iraqi general as saying the candidate is "very young, very active" and "we would be very happy if he was elected president." Look for the McCain camp to deride Obama as "the candidate of the Iraqi people" today ... before they have to dial back once the candidate remembers that Iraq is no longer in the Axis of Evil. The same story attempts to throw cold water on Obama's withdrawal plans, however, calling them "complicated" for Iraqis:
... mention Mr. Obama’s plan for withdrawing American soldiers, and the general stiffens.
“Very difficult,” he said, shaking his head. “Any army would love to work without any help, but let me be honest: for now, we don’t have that ability.”
... There was, as Mr. Obama prepared to visit here, excitement over a man who is the anti-Bush in almost every way: a Democrat who opposed a war that many Iraqis feel devastated their nation. And many in the political elite recognize that Mr. Obama shares their hope for a more rapid withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.
But his support for troop withdrawal cuts both ways, reflecting a deep internal quandary in Iraq: for many middle-class Iraqis, affection for Mr. Obama is tempered by worry that his proposal could lead to chaos in a nation already devastated by war. Many Iraqis also acknowledge that security gains in recent months were achieved partly by the buildup of American troops, which Mr. Obama opposed and his presumptive Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, supported.
“In no way do I favor the occupation of my country,” said Abu Ibrahim, a Western-educated businessman in Baghdad, “but there is a moral obligation on the Americans at this point.”
Like many Iraqis, Mr. Ibrahim sees Mr. Obama favorably, describing him as “much more humane than Bush or McCain.”
“He seems like a nice guy,” Mr. Ibrahim said. But he hoped that Mr. Obama’s statements about a relatively fast pullout were mere campaign talk.
“It’s a very big assumption that just because he wants to pull troops out, he’ll be able to do it,” he said. “The American strategy in the region requires troops to remain in Iraq for a long time.”
Why do I not quite trust the Times not to put neocon words into Iraqis mouths? Maybe it's just me ... and Judy Miller... Meanwhile, the paper also reports on the phalanx of media stars and actual anchor people who will chase Barack around the Middle East and Europe when he travels there, as opposed to the "in other news" treatment that McCain's overseas trip received.
The U.S. economy and financial system are more closely linked to those in other wealthy nations, particularly in Europe, where rising inflation and the weak dollar are adding to growing trouble. The United States and Europe have "similar economies and share the potential problems of industrialized nations in terms of property price fluctuations and financials," said Simon Johnson, chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. "And they find themselves sharing variable degrees of vulnerability."
As global wealth has shifted during the past decade, emerging markets have become not only increasingly stable but they have also been claiming a larger portion of the world's riches than ever before. If Californians are rushing to withdraw money from banks there, the situation in Kenya is just the opposite: People are flocking to banks to open accounts. The Nairobi exchange, which lists mostly Kenyan companies and a handful of multinational firms, posted 10 percent gains in the three months ended in June as local and foreign investors flocked to the initial public offering of the cellphone giant Safaricom.
The WaPo also tries to even out the mortgage crisis exposure of the two presidential candidates, attempting to make former Obama advisers and of all things, Clinton advisers, the equivalent of John McCain's bevy of current lobbyist pals and campaign shot callers who are steeped in Freddie and Fannie lobbying cash. So much for the liberal media.
And the paper reports that the Obama campaign is creating a heavy presence in Virginia, suggesting they are serious about winning the state.
The Los Angeles Times reports on newly minted FBI investigatee Indymac's latest problem: rival banks are refusing to accept its cashier's checks, adding a new headache for depositors who have been lining up to get their money.
And the paper reports that a stunning 1 in 4 California high school students -- and 1 in 3 Los Angeles high schoolers, dropped out of school since the fall of 2006. Wow. The head count was made possible by a new ID system in the state that was meant to track students leaving one school and enrolling at another. Unfortunately, the second part of that equation didn't happen 25-33% of the time.
200,000 votes still out in Indiana, and Chuck Todd says it's mostly in Lake County, which is heavily African-American and heavily pro-Obama. Barack needs more than 60 percent of the vote to take the state from Hillary ...
West Virginia, Oregon and the like don't matter. Actually, neither does Indiana, to be blunt about it. Hillary Clinton's campaign is done. It's all over but the dragging out of the room and the kicking and the screaming...
Tomorrow, Hillary will be making some tough decisions. She's deep in debt, she's out of gas on pledged delegates, and even if the party did count Michigan and Florida, she can't win. Lisa Caputo, Hillary's spokeswoman on MSNBC tonight sounded like a neutral analyst, not a Clintonite. This thing is done (face it, Rachel Maddow.) It would be political suicide for Hillary to keep attacking Barack. She'll try to win concessions on the outstanding states, and piddle her way to the convention. What other choice does she have?
Going forward, Barack can essentially tune Hillary out, though he made it clear tonight that he will immediately begin a raprochment with her supporters. He can and should focus on John McCain.
The question of a joint ticket has been raised again, but in all honesty, Hillary may not be the asset to Obama that she seems to be today. There are as many reasons to reject her as there are to take her on board. Barack might do just as well to pick a white guy from the West (and seal Colorado and Nevada, forgetting Florida this time.)
Another question will be what to do with Bill Clinton at the convention. As a former president, and the only two-term Democratic president in modern memory, he has to be given a slot. But now that he has traded in his immense popularity with Black voters for extreme Bubbary, and a singular appeal to white voters who, how to say, aren't keen on electing a black guy, what does he say? Can he and Hillary turn in a performance that undoes the damage they have done during the campaign? And don't you have to put them both on in prime time?
PBS' Bill Moyers conducted a thoughtful, intelligent interview with Rev. Jeremiah Wright last night that yielded some interesting information, and finally fleshed out the man who has become a media caricature of the ultimate Scary Black Man.
Who knew that Wright, a former Marine and Navy medic, once tended to then President Lyndon Johnson, which is how he met Moyers, who was Johnson's press secretary (Moyers proves, unlike Stephanopoulos, that it IS possible to go from political flak to serious journalist with your integrity in tact.)
That was fascinating information for me, as was the overall story of Wright's ascent to the ministry. He is clearly a serious person with serious ideas, not the cook that talking airheads like Tucker Carlson pretend he is, based on their exhaustive, 30-second knowledge of him.
And Moyers, thankfully, played longer clips of the now infamous sermon snippets that are burning up "the Youtube," and which will form the basis of the GOP war against Barack Obama and the Democratic Party's nominees down-ticket this fall. I hope it will be a revelation to many recalcitrant white voters to find that when Wright uttered the words "God damn America," he was speaking in a fuller context of "governments that can fail and that can lie," and should not be worshipped as if they are God (I'm talking to you, GOP...) and that when he said that on 9/11, "America's chickens [came] home to roost," he was citing a white ambassador, Edward Peck, who served during the Reagan administration. He even says, "that's a white ambassador who says that, not Jeremiah Wright..."
I doubt that any of this will move the mainstream media, which now has it's narrative, and won't dare change it, lest they look stupid, or worse, wrong. They will zero in on the part of the interview where Wright appears to praise Louis Farrakhan for the work he does in the community (next big Youtube clip: "Farrakhan is like E.F. Hutton: when he talks, Black folk listen." I guarantee it. Never mind that, as the WaPo's Colbert King points out in a column today, Hillary Clinton has someone in her camp who's much closer to Farrakhan than either Wright or Barack Obama, and he's a white guy named Ed Rendell...) And they'll continue to harp on what Dan Abrams insists was Wright "throwing Barack Obama under the bus" by saying that Obama, as a politician, does the things that politicians do.
Well knock me over with a feather.
Mostly, the MSM won't be satisfied because Wright did not subject himself to a harangue by one of the pit bull "journalists" nursed by cable news, whose job is not so much to probe, as to accost, their subjects. "He wasn't asked the tough questions," they'll say; questions like, "why do you hate America?", "how can you utter the words "God damn America" from the pulpit?", "would you stay in a church if YOUR pastor uttered words that sound to so many like unpatriotic and racist rants?", "You were a Marine, were you loyal to America then?" and of course, "Do you understand why so many Americans are offended by the words you used, and do you want to take this opportunity to apologize to them?"
Had Stephanopoulos gotten his hands on Wright, he might even have asked him whether he's ever worn a flag pin...
Oh well. At the end of the day, I am grateful to PBS for continuing to provide a platform for Mr. Moyers, who is one of the last remaining Big Men in news. Good for him, and good for Jeremiah Wright, who represented himself well last night. Members of the media, and the public, will have to be left to their own judgment.
House majority whip James Clyburn,one of the most respected members of Congress, rips Hillary a new one in a Reuters interview:
“Scurrilous” and “disingenuous” were among the words a top Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives used on Thursday to describe Hillary Clinton’s campaign tactics in her bid to defeat Barack Obama for their party’s presidential nomination.
House Democratic Whip James Clyburn, of South Carolina and the highest ranking black in Congress, also said he has heard speculation that Clinton is staying in the race only to try to derail Obama and pave the way for her to make another White House run in 2012.
“I heard something, the first time yesterday (in South Carolina), and I heard it on the (House) floor today, which is telling me there are African Americans who have reached the decision that the Clintons know that she can’t win this. But they’re hell-bound to make it impossible for Obama to win” in November, Clyburn told Reuters in an interview. ...
Then he went after Clinton on her push to count Florida and Michigan:
“I think it’s so disingenuous … (adviser James) Carville and Sen. Clinton were all on TV. I’ve seen them two or three times this week, talking about counting Florida and Michigan.”
Obama did not campaign in those states because the Democratic Party said Florida and Michigan wouldn’t be included in the formal tally for the nomination. “Her name was the only one on the ticket in Michigan and still 42, 43 percent of the vote was against her,” Clyburn said.
Still, Clyburn said “I don’t think she ought to drop out.”
But he added, “There’s a difference between dropping out and raising all this extraneous scurrilous stuff about the guy (Obama). Just run your campaign … you don’t have to drop out to be respectful of other people.”
Ouch... Then it was Bill's turn, courtesy of the New York Times: In an interview with The New York Times late Thursday, Mr. Clyburn said Mr. Clinton’s conduct in this campaign had caused what might be an irreparable breach between Mr. Clinton and an African-American constituency that once revered him. “When he was going through his impeachment problems, it was the black community that bellied up to the bar,” Mr. Clyburn said. “I think black folks feel strongly that that this is a strange way for President Clinton to show his appreciation.” Mr. Clyburn added that there appeared to be an almost “unanimous” view among African-Americans that Mr. and Mrs. Clinton were “committed to doing everything they possibly can to damage Obama to a point that he could never win.”
Mr. Clyburn was heavily courted by both campaigns before South Carolina’s primary in January. But he stayed neutral, and continues to, vowing that he would not say or do anything that might influence the outcome of the race. He said he remains officially uncommitted as a superdelegate and has no immediate plans to endorse either candidate. At one point before the South Carolina primary, Mr. Clyburn publicly urged Mr. Clinton to “chill a little bit.”
Asked Thursday whether the former president heeded his advice, Mr. Clyburn said “Yeah, for three or four weeks or so. Or maybe three or four days.”
Ouch again! It's getting tight for the former president, who I think has officially lost his Black pass. (Hillary never really had one, so she might not be feeling as much pain...)
I just finished reading Human Events' supposed bombshell: "Barack Obama Exposed!!!" which is being pimped all over the Web for those willing to fill out a form and be barraged with emails titled "dear fellow conservative." Well if you were thinking of checking it out, as I did, to get a preview of the right's argument against Barack in the general election, permit me to save you the time.
HE's supposed expose is an assemblage of 55 pages of bitching, whining drivel; a cobbled together hodgepodge of op-ed pieces by the likes of Michael Reagan, Bill O'Reilly and Pat Buchanan, that's little more than a rehash of the same tired arguments righties have been making about "Barack Hussein Obama" (or BHO in their cutesy shorthand) for months. Here are the Cliff notes, for all you political strategists out there:
Barack is pro-choice! (Amanda Carpenter, page 5)
Barack's speeches suck! (Ann Coulter, page 6)
Barack knows Tony Rezko! (Tom Fitton, page 8)
Barack voted for unionization and the estate tax!!!! (Carpenter again, page 9)
Barack is just like Oprah, Collin Powell, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods ... I mean Black... and really, really famous and White people think he's cool! (Steve Chapman, page 11)
The media's gonna help Obama win!!! (D.R. Tucker, page 13)
Barack Obama is a socialist who thinks "healthcare is an essential safeguard of human life and dignity" like this socialist Catholic cardinal says, instead of the privately owned commercial commodity we say it is!!! (Carpenter, round 3, page 14)
How come the media didn't jump all over Barack for doing blow and they jumped all over Dubya just cause he snorted coke and may have mainlined some heroine! (Brent Bozell, really whining hard on page 16)
Barack Obama is part Muslim, cause he went to a school in a Muslim country when he was a little kid so Muslims are gonna think he's a MUSLIM!!!!!!! (Robert Spencer, really reaching for the Kool-Aid on page 18)
How come I can't call Obama "articulate?" That's not right! (Bill O'Reilly, page 19)
Something about a Rorschach test... (Mac Johnson, page 20)
Barack Obama is juvenile because he thinks you can talk to Israel's enemies instead of bombing the living hell out of them like a good American should. (Ben Shapiro, praying for another war on page 22)
Something about the military and it's written really badly so I stopped reading it... (Monica Crowley ... any progress on that face lift, honey? ... page 24)
Some old stuff about Iowa by Erica Anderson (page 26)
Drivel, drivel drivel, drivel ... (pages 27-30)
A bunch of banks and law firms gave to Obama and Hillary's campaigns (I thought wingers LIKED banks ... page 30)
Barack Obama got an earmark for a Chicago hospital and his wife got a really big raise after he became a Senator (page 31)
Michael Reagan watches "Saturday Night Live"??? (page 32)
Barack Obama is making America more racist because a lot of White people want to vote for him because he's Black. (Ben Shapiro, still working on that war thing, page 33)
"I like John McCain." Martha Zoller, (page 35)
Bill Clinton isn't Black. Obama, on the other hand, is. (Lisa Richards, page 37)
Barack Obama is a wuss, unlike JFK, whom I also would not have voted for because he was a Democrat... (Doug Patton, 39)
Look everybody! A "Godfather" reference! (Jed Babbin, 41)
Why can't Gerri Ferraro say Barack is only in the race because he's Black! What the hell is wrong with that??? (Pat Buchanan, 43)
I'm Armstrong Williams, and nobody is paying me $250,000 to write this opinion! (page 45)
Why can't I say Barack is only in the race because he's Black! What the hell is wrong with that ??? Am I repeating myself..!!!??? (Pat Buchanan, page 47)
Waiting for the Youtube on ... Stephanie Tubbs Jones
Is Stephanie Tubbs Jones drinking? First, she referred to Barack Obama "in his native clothing" regarding that Kenya photo circulated by the Clinton campaign on MSNBC this morning. Then, the Ohio congresswoman who sat through the humiliation of that poor Texas state senator (Kirk Watson and acts like she did the humiliating (kind of the way Rudy Giuliani survived 9/11 and acted like he thwarted it) ... turned in a very odd performance on "Hardball" tonight. She seemed way too giddy, constantly interrupting Bill Clinton's former campaign manager, David Wilhelm, who is now supporting Barack, and generally stepping all over the proceedings. This lady has either completely fallen in love with the notion of herself on television or she's fallen off the wagon.
Update: here's the video of Tubbs ... in her native clothing...
Still waiting for the Youtube on Tubbs Jones in her falling down drunk performance on Hardball...