Saturday, January 12, 2008

Caucus Me!

The fabled 'undecided voter' has always been good fodder for humor (like this classic Daily Show segment from 2004). So why stop now? My favorite article on them was this 2006 piece by Christopher Hayes, from The New Republic. Here he discusses his experiences with them-
"Members of the political class may disparage undecided voters, but we at least tend to impute to them a basic rationality. We're giving them too much credit. I met voters who told me they were voting for Bush, but who named their most important issue as the environment. One man told me he voted for Bush in 2000 because he thought that with Cheney, an oilman, on the ticket, the administration would finally be able to make us independent from foreign oil."

He does note, though, that "the caricature of undecided voters favored by liberals and conservatives alike doesn't do justice to the complexity, indeed the oddity, of undecided voters themselves."

This article came back into my mind because of a taped segment Bill Maher ran during his show last night (no doubt now looking for new ways to fill time without written, scripted parts). He went to a local market to ask people who they're planning to vote for... and why. The results were equally hilarious and depressing.

Taxes, The Finger Thing Means The Taxes

Everyone knows that the GOP's anti-tax insanity has only gotten stronger in recent years (to the point where Democrats couldn't even propose a minimum wage increase last year without promising tax cuts to the GOP, who then spent five months blocking the bill anyway). This now seems to be resulting in the GOP presidential candidates trying to out-crazy each other on tax policy.

Mike Huckabee-- you know, that liberal-- supports the 'Fair Tax'. Here he gives conservative economists everywhere a woody: “Am I running for president to shut down the federal government? Not exactly... But I am running to eliminate all federal income and payroll taxes. And I do mean all — personal federal, corporate federal, gift, estate, capital gains, alternative minimum, Social Security, Medicare, self-employment." Because you know how unfair things like estate and capital gains taxes are to the average Joe, so you can see why a populist like Huckabee would hate them. And this 'Fair Tax' he proposes as a replacement, what does it do? Well-
Americans would pay only one federal tax, which would be applied to just about everything they buy: not just the goods people buy at stores on which most states assess a sales tax, but nearly all services, including health care and insurance, the purchase of a new home or rental of an apartment, even things like a teenager mowing a lawn or baby-sitting for a neighbor.

This will be super popular. I say we put it to a vote right now. Everyone who doesn't work at CNBC, come on down!

The article does note, all party-pooper like that-
And, to most tax experts who have looked at the proposal, it is anything but fair. For one, its burden would fall disproportionately on middle-income people.

And that means that the burden is lifted off of.... ahh, there we go.

Moving on, let's look at Rudy Giuliani, because lord knows, primary voters so far haven't, so somebody should throw him a bone before he starts telling some 9/11 anecdote. Via Washington Monthly, here's Rudy's plan-
Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani has proposed what he called a multitrillion-dollar tax cut that would (1) lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent....(2) reduce the capital gains tax from 15 percent to 10 percent....(3) preserve the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts enacted by President George W. Bush....(4) eliminate the estate tax....(5) give taxpayers the option of choosing a simplified tax form with three tax brackets with a maximum bracket of 30 percent....(6) index the alternative minimum tax to inflation and eventually repeal it.

Reread those 6 points again. Notice one thing they all have in common? One particular (and very small, specific) group of people his plan solely benefits.... and ahh, there we go again.

One blogger added about this "This plan would be huge... it would be 4% of GDP. By comparison, GWB tax cut was 1.3% of GDP. Reagan's was 1.9% of GDP." Don't worry, though, if these things create more deficits (like Reagan and Bush gave us), we have an easy out... more tax cuts!

Lord knows what crazy tax plan Mitt Romney has reprogrammed himself into supporting.

And there you go. The mythic party of fiscal responsibility has some perfect, totally fair proposals to save us from the economic mess that we're in... which they may or may not have caused themselves with their fair, perfect policies of the past 7 years. It may seem crazy, but remember that anything to the left of these proposals is socialism. Or so I've heard.

Voter Fraud

This is a followup to the voter ID story I mentioned in yesterday's odds and ends (link). Now, any proper cynic will tell you that these voter ID rules that the GOP has pushed in recent years-- because you know how concerned the party of Don Segretti, Katherine Harris, and the U.S. Attorney scandal is about election integrity-- are a giant scam, but the Republicans have worked hard to create a narrative of "fraud" that doesn't exist.

On last night's Real Time w/ Bill Maher, the issue of actual electoral fraud came up... that is, actual rigging of elections, hacked machines, that type of thing. Panelist Tony Snow chimes in to (randomly) suggest that the fix for their concerns is stronger voter ID laws. The discussion was so fast-paced that no one noticed Tony's sleight of hand, and the conversation continued. Remember that they were talking about vote counting fraud-- ie. the type of fraud that occurs after the fact. And yet Tony was proposing a solution to fraud that occurs before the fact, a completely different issue. And that is the tell.

(UPDATE: I found video on the segment in question.)

This is the scam. The Republicans have used legitimate concerns about voter fraud in recent years to create a system in which they commit a fraud of their own. Voter ID laws put the burden on poor and elderly voters, the two groups most likely not to have a driver's license or modern government ID. And also-- gosh!-- the two groups that most reliably vote for the donkey party. If the GOP was really concerned about voter fraud and electoral integrity, they'd be loudly supporting tamper-proof voting machines or fighting against campaign trickery that wrongly influences voters. But they don't. Their focus has always, and solely, been on one issue... voter ID laws. And that's very revealing.

[PS- And don't get me started on Tony 'I can't survive on $168,000' Snow's economy boasting]

Friday, January 11, 2008

Headline of the Day

This one's about Iraq again, from a story on Bush's trip to Israel...

AP (via MSNBC): 'Bush calls for end of 'occupation' of Arab lands'

Israel's likely response? "You first, sir."

Speaking of Iraq, this is the anniversary of the beginning of the 'surge' (and year 6 of the war begins in March) and it has many looking it what it has achieved. Answer... not much, unless you count lowering the bar again on what constitutes victory.

Meanwhile, 'comeback kid' John McCain has said he'd be fine with keeping American troops in Iraq for 100 years... as along as it's Iraqis dying, and not U.S. soldiers (natch). And when asked when we should leave, he said "There is only one man who should decide when to withdraw from Iraq and that is David Petraeus." Why, methinks the maverick Senator believes we live in a military junta. Great work, New Hampshire! War forever!

Finally, a good report from 'Countdown' last night on all of this-

[UPDATE: The gang at National Review live-blogged last night's GOP debate. Said Kathryn Jean Lopez on McCain, "Good for Senator McCain going after the Dems and their willing suspension of belief. And good for him, putting the focus on Petraeus and the troops." Yes, good for McCain for putting the focus on the infallible warrior Petraeus and for using the troops as an emotional bludgeon, rather than on the actual facts of the war or our ever-changing policy toward it. These people have issues.

UPDATE #2: I also agree with what Glenn Greenwald said on the debate's Iran rhetoric.]

Weekend Odds and Ends

Wahhh, our January heat wave is over! I blame Al Gore. Here's the news...

A surge in Afghanistan? News services are reporting that "US Defense Secretary Robert Gates is considering sending some 3,000 additional marines to Afghanistan to boost forces ahead of a Taliban spring offensive." Yessir, 7 years later, time to start taking the Taliban seriously.

Kevin Drum looks at the U.S.-Iranian naval incident from the perspective of Iranian politics. As for those threatening voices in the recording... Navy officials now say "the threat may have come from the Iranian boats, or it may have come from somewhere else." Okay then.

Bill Richardson is dropping out of the race. That actually makes me sad.

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case on voter ID rules, with implications for November. TPMmuckraker looks at the case and how GOP partisans have used voter ID rules for electoral advantage.'s writers have more here and here.

The telecom companies that the Bush administration wants demands Congress give immunity to may not have cared about warrants or oversight when giving it up to the government, but there's one thing that won't stand for. The AP reports that "Telephone companies have cut off FBI wiretaps used to eavesdrop on suspected criminals because of the bureau's repeated failures to pay phone bills on time."

Meanwhile, Jon Stewart shakes his head the media's ridiculous campaign coverage.

Finally, remember how after Hurricane Katrina the media had apparently learned their lessons? Hahahaha! Now the media doesn't even seem to remember what Katrina was.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"...And Start Acting Like It."

Apropos of that previous entry, and tomorrow tonight's return of Bill Maher's HBO show (sans writers, and thus sans monologue and 'New Rules' closer), this classic New Rule from 2006. One of his finest.

[PS- Bill, I'm no sports fan, but that soccer comment was mean. What'd it ever do to you?]

We're #19!

As an addendum to the news I posted Tuesday that "For the first time in more than 100 years, British living standards have risen above those of Americans," I present this news about our perfect health-care system that is under attack by the many communist insurgents spread throughout our body politic. Via Washington Monthly-
A pair of researchers has just published an update that compares various countries on their rates of "amenable mortality," defined as deaths that are "potentially preventable with timely and effective health care." In 1997, the United States ranked 15th out of 19 industrialized countries. So how are we doing now?

Answer: we're now 19th out of 19. The rest of the countries have improved their performance by an average of 16%, while the U.S., that well-known engine of healthcare innovation, has improved by only 4%. So now we're in last place.

But there's a bright side: at least our healthcare isn't funded by the government, like it is in France. Keep that in mind if someone you know dies of preventable causes. Their odds would have been a whole lot better in Paris, but who'd want to live in a socialist hellhole like that anyway?


A commenter at Paul Krugman's blogs adds this crucial point: "The U.K. numbers look comparable to those of the U.S., but remember that they spend 40% of what we do per capita for health care; even France spends about half." And indeed, this to me seems one of the better arguments for a single-payer system... it's a helluva lot more efficient. As Atrios also noted a while back, "30%+ of health care expenditures in this country are spent on administrative costs.... [and] close to 5% of our GDP is spent on people pushing little bits of paper back and forth between doctors and insurance companies."

You'd think a party (rhetorically) obsessed with 'fiscal responsibility' might see that as a disaster.

Finally, there's one group advocating for universal care by focusing on one of the big hypocrisies of its opponents (among many others) in Washington DC... that all the conservative politicians who claim government-funded health-care will destroy civilization receive the best government-funded coverage around. Their slogan? "Doesn't everyone deserve CheneyCare?"

Yes. Yes they do. But they won't ever get it, because that'd make baby Reagan cry.

Humor Break

This satiric Jimmy Carter editorial in The Onion is even funnier if you read it in his voice.

Headline of the Day

Reuters: '151,000 Iraqis killed since U.S.-led invasion: WHO'

Hey, can't destroy make an omelette without killing some eggs, amiright?! {*crickets*} Sigh.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

With That Said...

...I think she's a disaster in the general election, and see her politics as stasis. But we'll see.

In Defense of Hillary

I think my readers may have picked up my subtle hints that I am not a supporter of Sen. Clinton's, but I am also continually amazed at the pure venomous hatred that the American right-wing has for Ms. Clinton. Gosh, you'd think she'd launched two failed wars, used fear as a political weapon, enabled a recession, made a mockery of constitutional and international law, politicized the entire federal government, and shrugged off other serious national concerns as someone else's problem!

The National Review's Andy McCarthy said Monday of the Obama surge-
"It's very tempting to get giddy over what is looking like Hillary's collapse. The Clintons have been so destructive of our politics and have hurt so many people along the way that satisfaction over their seeming comeuppance is irresistible."

I can understand disagreeing with the Clintons (from left or right) on policy positions, but in what universe did they "hurt" people? I guess those record approval ratings Bill left office with were from all the people who loved the abuse.

And the complaining of "destructive politics" is laughable considering it was the Republican party who not only ran the Congress as an anti-Clinton machine (shutting down the government because Speaker Gingrich felt snubbed), but also spent his entire presidency (from Whitewater to Monica and everything in between) trying to destroy him personally. They didn't (fully) succeed, and they never forgave either Clinton for it.

I look forward to future historians psychoanalyzing this phenomenon.

[PS- McCarthy has no praise for Obama... he's "every bit as bad and in many ways worse" as the villainous Clinton.]

New Hampshire Decides... Hillary/McCain Win

Proving that pollsters, the media, and even bloggers like myself don't know as much as we think we do about voter sentiments, New Hampshire voters went in the exact opposite of their Iowa counterparts... Hillary Clinton won a very tight race against Obama, and John McCain dominated the GOP side (TPM's final scorecard- here). The next day will be filled with endless-- and occasionally mindless-- media speculation as to how this came to be.

As it's late and I am tired, I'll just let others supply the commentary for me. First, Daily Kos-
"Politics has a way of constantly surprising. Time will decide. But one thing's for sure -- no matter how Obama does tonight, this thing ain't over. ... With quick knockouts by Gore and Kerry the last two primary battles, and a Bill Clinton reelection coronation the cycle before that, we've forgotten what a real primary contest looks like. You have to go back 16 long years to 1992 for one of those."

And Andrew Sullivan-
"There's one other possible explanation for the apparent Clinton revival in the last few days. Maybe Democrats decided that a sudden blowout for Obama wasn't good for their party ... But I suspect that Clinton's frankness, desperation, emotional volatility, temper and vulnerability these past three days pushed some to keep her campaign alive."

Will Bunch, making with the snark-
"A Clinton is on top, John McCain is a popular 'straight talker' again, and Rudy Giuliani is a punchline. It must be 1999 all over again -- put all your money into"

And, from the conservative side, Rich Lowry at National Review-
"Whatever happened to hope sweeping the country? That was so 2 p.m.

And, from another National Review blogger, a warning-
"We will have Hillary Clinton to kick around anymore, and I'm glad."

And that's two states down. Out of, ummm, a lot. This will be a long year. Buckle up!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

It's The Iraq, Stupid

If it's true, as Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum argues here, that there isn't that much substantive difference between Sens. Clinton and Obama on foreign policy, why have so many more grassroots liberals flocked to the latter rather than the familiar Clinton brand?

There are some general reasons, of course. Sen. Clinton represents the party's (recent) past; Obama, its future. After a President Bush, then Clinton, then an even worse Bush, many are reluctant to bookend that with a second Clinton. She's too compromising. Etc.

For me, personally, there was one big deciding factor... Iraq.

Barack Obama is on record as having opposed the invasion from the start. If you watch that linked video, you'll see that, from about 00:28 to 00:43, he correctly predicted back in 2002 the problems that would occur. This is important to me not only because I believe (unlike the media, where antiwar pundits are rare) in rewarding those who got it right over those who got it so deadly wrong, but because of something more important... foresight.

We will face many challenges in the coming years, and I want a leader who has the foresight to think about the consequences of the actions we take. We've seen with President Bush that when a man acts rashly and with emotional appeals (whether it's starting wars based on lies, or the tax cuts and housing bubble he used to cheat his way to a 'good' economy), the results are disastrous. Dennis Miller said in a 2006 standup special that what he hated about John Kerry was that he seemed like a chess player, always thinking several moves ahead. He preferred George Bush because he saw him as a guy who'd just smash his fist at a country we didn't like and worry about the consequences later (or never). We need a chess player.

Sen. Clinton, on the other hand, voted for the war in 2002 and continued to support it verbally until late 2006 (why, just when she was preparing her presidential run!). Now she is attempting to blur that past. Just this past weekend, she said-
"After 9/11, I would never have taken us to war in Iraq," she said. "I would have stayed focused on Afghanistan because the real threat was coming from there."

Well I agree in the general sense that a Democratic president (say that Al Gore fellow) would've stayed focused on Afghanistan rather than get bored and start a new war to fulfill Dick Cheney's fantasies, Clinton cannot pretend she was a passive observer in this war. She was a U.S. Senator, asked along with all the others to vote on the matter. Unlike 23 of her braver colleagues, she voted in favor of the very thing she now says she would've opposed.

I got into a debate with a Clinton supporter at LJDemocrats yesterday when he said, "Her Iraq vote was good politics. Obama's opposition to the Iraq war, believe it or not, will HURT him in the general election if he becomes the nominee." When called on this-- not only how wrong he is on the politics, but how disgusting it is to play politics with war-- he starts flopping all over the place. There's no good defense, just a lot of excuses. Indicative of how weak the position is.

So, yes, both have somewhat similar withdrawal positions now. But with a matter this important and delicate, I have to trust the man who came to the right conclusion before it became popular to do so.

Bloody Hell!

Thanks to the economic brilliance of George W. Bush (who answers "tax cuts" to every problem the way Rudy Giuliani answers "9/11") and the giant group of yes-men known as 'Congress', America is soaring... into extraordinary levels of economic problems! The U.S. dollar turns to Monopoly money, rising unemployment, housing bubble burst, and Fox News freaking out that new populist sentiment may destroy America. Oh my!

Even more depressing when you see how those damn socialists in Britain are doing. From the Daily Mail-
For the first time in more than 100 years, British living standards have risen above those of Americans, a report has declared.

Increasing incomes, longer holidays and "free" healthcare have all contributed to making Britons better off than our friends across the Atlantic, according to the respected Oxford Economics consultancy...

...Although this is partly due to the current strength of the pound against the dollar, it is also because of the UK economy's record run of growth and rising incomes going back to the early 1990s. And while Americans typically have only two weeks' holiday per year, Britons enjoy between four and six weeks as standard.

But wait! There's a silver lining!!!
But the average Briton does not actually feel more wealthy than his or her American counterpart. Goods and services are cheaper in the U.S., meaning that even if they are earning less, they can afford to buy more.

See that? We may have a currency that's getting mocked on the world stage, and even if we can afford health insurance it barely covers us, and the standard of living is getting worse... but our material goods are cheaply made and cheaply sold! More stuff for us! SUCK ON THAT, United Kingdom!! :-D

I couldn't be more proud right now! Dinner at my place, gang! We're eating name-brand mac and cheese tonight.

Jon and Stephen are back... Yay?

Back on the air, sans writers, Jon Stewart explains (awkwardly) what the strike is all about.

Meanwhile, on his show, Stephen explains how he's always been anti-union. Lot of old clips.

I'm not sure what the general verdict was, but I felt very uncomfortable. There was a level of preparation to each show that suggested not writing per se, but... something. And they both filled time by discussing the strike, but what now? Are people ready for no-frills versions of the shows four days a week for months? I just can't see it.

More Odds and Ends

There's just too much news this week; I can't let it slip by. Here we go...

While the media obsesses (do they do anything else?) over Hillary Clinton's emotion at a campaign event, Rudy Giuliani uses the story to remind folks that he's still in the race 9/11 9/11 9/11.

The president of the Chamber of Commerce threatens to destroy any candidate who appears they might, even just rhetorically, stand up for the average American's interest over that of big business. The free market will decide who is and isn't President, thankyouverymuch.

Attempts at political reconciliation in Kenya are hitting a brick wall.

In regards to yesterday's U.S.-Iranian naval incident, the gang at the NY Post editorial board (run by Iraq war architect John Podhoretz) say to U.S. leadership... hey, why didn't you start a cool new war?

Finally, Bill O'Reilly's defense for shoving Obama staffer? I was defending the constitution!

"An all-out campaign of cajolery."

Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly looks at an example from Sen. Obama's career in the Illinois legislature which shows that, when he really wants to, he can fight to get vital legislation passed. For those-- including me-- who've been concerned on whether he has the steel to fight Republicans to get his (potential) agenda, it's encouraging.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Quote of the Day

"I’ll support a potted plant against whichever race-baiting science-denying warmonger the Republicans finally settle on, but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t prefer a candidate who actually stands for things I care about, like real health care reform and a speedy end to the Iraq debacle. Given that Kucinich is — sorry — unlikely to carry the day, that leaves me with Edwards. Who is also probably not going to make it to the finish line. And then, hurray!, the Democrats will once again be offering up a mushy centrist who speaks vaguely of hope and change, of bipartisanship and reconciliation. Why is it always the Democrats who have to reconcile, after these spasms of right wing extremism? Why is partisanship always such a one-way street?

Oh well. Go, team."
--Tom Tomorrow, summing up the frustration that many of us feel.

And this is the one (and, I think, only) argument that would make me consider supporting Edwards. He's a fighter. And I am damn tired of "bipartisanship" and "compromise" meaning 'give the Republicans everything they want while getting only insults in return'.

But I remain hopeful. House and Senate majorities seem likely to be expanded this November (and seriously Dems, mutiny against Harry Reid... the Senate misses its balls). And George W. Bush will be gone next year. Many of the obstacles will be removed. Many, but not all. I have that feeling Charlie Brown gets when he's convinced himself that this time, this time, Lucy will finally let him kick that football. That turned out well for him, right?

Odds and Ends

Only one more day of New Hampshire mania! Wooo! (?) Here's the news...

White House on economic worries... Recession? What recession? Fingers crossed, George!

Here's a story that'd be getting a lot more attention (especially from Drudge, etc) if we weren't a day from the NH primary... "In what U.S. officials called a serious provocation, Iranian boats harassed and provoked three U.S. Navy ships in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, threatening to explode the American vessels... U.S. forces were on the verge of firing on the Iranian boats in the early Sunday incident, when the boats — believed to be from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's navy — turned and moved away, a Pentagon official said." Iran's response? OMGZ guys, this was just a big understanding! Videos of CNN reports on the incident-- here, here, here, and here.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan... "A former Afghan Taleban leader who switched sides has been made governor of a town in Helmand province won back from the rebels in December."

In campaign news, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough admits that the media is hoping their BFF, John McCain, will be the GOP nominee. Of course, this National Review post is a reminder that grassroots conservatives still hate him.

Meanwhile, ol' Mitt Romney wins the little-covered Wyoming caucus.

NYC Mayor Bloomberg arrived in Oklahoma for the big bipartisan circle jerk summit.

Rep. Ron Paul, hoping for a surge in NH, crosses the picket line to appear on Jay Leno.

Finally, Fox's favorite psycho, Bill O'Reilly, freaks out at an Obama rally. Video here.

Dig The Wigg

Courtesy of last night's primary-mocking Simpsons episode, Ralph Wiggum's campaign ad.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Weekend Video Theatre: Jon and Barack

'The Daily Show' and 'The Colbert Report' return without their writers tomorrow. I'm very ambivalent about that, but at least I know that Jon and Stephen are just looking out for their shows' crews. Expect the shows to be interview-heavy (Stephen will have both Paul Krugman and Andrew Sullivan on tomorrow) for a while. I just hope it's not a trainwreck.

Here's some classic Daily Show... an interview with Barack Obama from this past August-

Part 2 of the interview- here.

Juno and Choice

One shocker for me in recent weeks is the very high number of the regular political blogs that I read doing posts on the politics of the movie 'Juno' (and/or comparings its "politics" to that of 'Knocked Up'...!!). And I thought I was a political junkie, but since I watched-- and enjoyed-- that film without thinking of politics, I guess I'm not in these people's leagues.

I have three points I want to make about this issue.

1) It's just a movie. And a comedy to boot. Seriously, this isn't 'Syriana' (an excellent film, btw). It's no more about abortion politics than "The 40-Year Old Virgin" was about the politics of abstinence. Maybe, a similar girl in real life would've opted for an abortion, but that would've been a short movie. This was a movie about a girl and her relationships (with her parents, her friend, her semi-boyfriend, and the couple planning to adopt her child). Don't read more into it than intended.

2) Yes, Juno (and Alison in 'Knocked Up') made the decision to go on with the pregnancy... as do-- gasp-- the vast majority of pregnant women in real life! OMG! But a safe and legal abortion was still an option for both of them, and no one tried to take that choice away from them. Juno even initially went to the clinic, with the full backing and love of her family and friends. And then she made the choice to instead put the baby up for adoption. Her choice, no one else's. And it's that 'C' word that's the crucial point here, and that concept is what its opponents will never get it. These bloggers are talking like abortion is the norm and pregnancy the rare choice, rather than vice versa. It's just silly and a big reason why this debate has been so distorted for years.

3) It's just a movie. Seriously.

Target: Obama

Being the front-runner has one negative... it puts a big bullseye on you, both from within your own party (hey, it's a primary) and from the other party (who are thinking ahead to a summer of telling everyone why your victory would mean gay immigrant tax-raising terrorists will strangle Baby Jesus with a burning flag). Such now is the fate of Obama.

Hillary Clinton (whose 'experience' card was outplayed for now by Obama's 'change' card) seems to be testing the waters on a new attack... reminding voters that Barack Obama is-- gasp-- a liberal. Oh noes!

There's no dirtier word in American politics than the dreaded "L" word, that's for sure.

Well, at least they're not so desperate yet to go full-throttle with subtle winks at Obama/Muslim rumors and his acknowledged youth drug use (neither of which bothers me, but plays well with a certain segment of the population). For now, that's left up to surrogates. Hey, speaking of dog-whistle divisive racial politics...

There's no telling yet how the larger GOP establishment would go after Sen. Obama should he become the nominee, but hints are starting to emerge. Glenn Greenwald has a new great post up, looking at a 'theory' first posted by the National Review's Jonah "Liberal Fascism" Goldberg and embraced by other top GOP bloggers... that should Obama be nominated, and lose, then "certain segments of American political life" (winkwink) "will become completely unhinged," resulting in "social unraveling". You go, Jonah, party like it's 1968!

As Greenwald points out, in his usually detailed way, the mainstream of one party today is known for being completely unhinged (see: Florida 2000, the run-up to war, the Schiavo debacle, the MoveOn 'scandal', Graeme Frost, etc) and it's not Obama's.

Sen. Obama is getting the kid's gloves right now. But it's going to be a long year.