Saturday, May 10, 2008

Barack Obama and the GOP's Failing Attack Strategy, Pt. II

My friend Anthony is not as optimistic as me about November, particularly as he tells me angrily, as long as "the Pantsuit Monster is still stomping around." He wrote to me after my posts, but before the results on Tuesday night out of North Carolina and Indiana (in which we began to see the general election light at the end of this primary tunnel)-
"I just don't see Obama coming back from this stupid little pastor thing. I really do think all the Repubs have to do is plaster Wright all over everything, even if Obama does get the nom, and it's fucking over. All you need is to remind idiots (at least 60% of America) that he knew a guy who said 'God damn America' and that's that. Plus, no flag pin and he's black (might be a Muslim!)... I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think it's too far outside of the GOP's power to use stupid talking points to ruin everything."

And this is the fear that-- while perhaps not without a basis in reality--has been causing Democrats to go into self-destruct mode left and right. Again, self-fulfilling prophecy.

The fact is that, contrary to Obama detractors seem to believe, no one ever expected the GOP to go easy on our candidate this Fall, no matter who it was. Obama supporters were hardly ever under some delusion that the Republicans wouldn't throw things at him that make the Swift Boat ads look like a tickle party. Their party has been exposed as a bunch of corrupt, incompetent, intolerant, and hypocritical blowhards who have ravaged our economy, foreign policy, environment, and even most voters' belief in the American dream itself. They cannot run on their record, or their policy platform, and so they will turn this into an election about attacks and caricatures. We knew this. Now that this is really sinking in, partly because the Clintons began their dirty work for them, people are freaking out anyway.

You don't want to let GOP attacks work? FIGHT BACK.

A recent, illustrative example... one of the biggest political fights in Washington this winter was over the President's warrantless wiretapping program. The President had demanded a new FISA bill-- to replace the still-functioning one on the books-- that would give him unprecedented authority and also give immunity to the telecom companies involved. The President and his allies in Congress went after the Democrats on this full throttle, holding numerous press conferences to insist their refusing to pass his bill "could aid our enemies" and that the country would be in immediate danger if the bill wasn't passed by his deadline. But then something truly incomprehensible occurred... the Democrats stood their ground on the issue. And then the Republicans-- all but admitting their fight on this had been a pointless, political one-- decided to concede the issue and move on to other stuff (for now), proving their chicken little, fearmongering rhetoric to be the hot air it is.

Methinks there is a lesson in there somewhere for normally weak-willed Democrats.

Back to the 2008 campaign, there is another House special election next week in Mississippi. The ad that the GOP is running against the Democratic candidate there is basically the same (failed) ad that they ran against Mr. Cazayoux in Louisiana earlier this month.

We'll find out in less than a week if this dog does hunt.

And for pure shits and giggles, here is an ad that GOP congressional candidate Vernon Robinson in 2006 ran to appeal to the fears of conservative voters in North Carolina.

Via Wikipedia, here's that worked for ol' Mr. Robinson: "On November 7, 2006, Robinson was defeated by Democrat Brad Miller in the race for North Carolina's Thirteenth Congressional District. Robinson garnered 36% of the votes to Miller's 64%. Robinson subsequently announced that he would not seek elected office ever again."

So, again, I hope you'll understand why I don't take GOP attack ads as seriously as others.

Friday, May 09, 2008


This story isn't important, but it sure is hilarious. Christians protest the awesomest things.

More Odds and Ends

Another busy week for me, so less blogging. Sorry about that. But here's some news...

Here's some underreported news this week: "President Bush threatened Wednesday to veto Democrats' broad housing rescue package, saying it won't help struggling homeowners." How much of that is correct, though?

The fight is bigger than that, as they "also threatened that Bush would veto a separate bill to send $15 billion to states to buy and fix up foreclosed properties. Officials say that measure rewards lenders and investors who own the property, and could act as an incentive for them to foreclose rather than find ways to help struggling borrowers stay in their homes."

The President did, however, sign a bill "designed to ensure that turmoil in the credit markets doesn't cause a shortage in student loans."

It's still not his week as he manages to anger India with his comments on the food crisis.

And nearby in Asia, the Olympic Torch makes its way to the top of Mount Everest.

In Myanmar, things continue to be horrifyingly bad. Things in Lebanon aren't much better.

Back in the United States, the media is still too embarrassed to report on the military analyst propaganda story.

And the military is so desperate for fresh bodies, they sent 43,000 unfit soldiers into war.

Here's some fun news: "House Judiciary Committee aides confirmed Tuesday morning that former Attorney General John Ashcroft and ex-Justice Department lawyer John Yoo have agreed to voluntarily testify before their committee."

The UK reports that not only is Big Brother intrusive, it's also completely worthless.

Finally, in Democratic primary news, Michigan Democrats put together a 69-59 delegate seating plan, an overly fair compromise. Her Majesty-- of course-- said no, not good enough, give me more. Florida Democrats too say they're working on a deal, though I'm sure Hillary already deems it unsatisfactory.

Birth Control = MURDER!1!!!

With Sen. McCain seeking to appease a base (which still hates him) by pledging to "appoint judges in the mold of conservatives John Roberts, Samuel Alito and former Chief Justice William Rehnquist if he were elected in November," you-know-what will once again be a big issue as the general election heats up.

As it should be. Republicans love to beat this issue every election cycle-- though gay marriage and immigration are gaining strong as the new wedges-- to rile up the "pro-life" crowd (pro-life only on this issue, not on matters of war, the death penalty, poverty eradication, environmental conservation, etc) and the religious right, but have never made any real efforts to get Roe v. Wade and similar rulings reversed despite having now packed the federal bench with conservative after conservative, as they know that a) the backlash will be devastating for them, and b) it will rob them of this culture-war bludgeon for the next election. Democrats need to remind voters to see this demagoguery for what it is.

The people that the Republicans want to woo with this are groups like the American Life League... which is holding protests next month to demonstrate on the anniversary of "Griswold v. Connecticut case, [which] set a legal precedent for claiming that the Constitution grants women the right to privacy in matters of sexual practice. This meant that Connecticut and the rest of the United States could not stop a married woman from obtaining birth control pills." Horrors! And after that, they'll march through all the local pharmacies, poking little holes in all of the condoms. If God wanted you to have freedom over your sexual and reproductive decisions, he wouldn't have invented shame!

There are many new battles at stake this year-- the economy, the war, etc-- but the GOP still intends to make us fight the old ones.

I do respect, though, that is a complicated issue for some. And on that note, I end this topic by re-posting this 2006 Daily Show interview with author Ramesh Ponnuru (of the cartoonish National Review magazine) who, like his coworker Jonah 'Liberal Fascism' Goldberg, wrote a book so ridiculous he spent most of his book tour denying the title of the book in any way reflected his premise.

[McCain More Conservative Than His Image (AP)]

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Speaker Pelosi: Right on Bush, Wrong on Stimulus

It's still just May, and the heat is already getting to our elected leaders in Washington-
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday called for a second economic stimulus package and said President George W. Bush is "in denial" about the U.S. economy, drawing a sharp White House response...

..."It's clear there is a need for a second stimulus," Pelosi, a California Democrat, told reporters at a news conference.

No, Madame Speaker, it's clear that we need leaders who will actually try and think of some long-term fixes to the many problems facing our economy (weak dollar, low job growth, health-care fiasco, housing mess, corporate free-for-alls, etc)... not leaders who just want to write everyone another check and call it a day. Have you seen any?

A shame, too, because on similar pandering (like the gas tax holiday), she's generally been better than this.

The Atlantic's James Fallow held a contest to determine the stupidest "bipartisan public policy in the last 50 years." The winner was ethanol mandates. A shame that maybe this one came too late to make the final consideration.

John McCain's Double-Talk Express

One of the liberal media's few actual liberals, Keith Olbermann, and Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi discuss our favorite maverick-

Related reading...

AP: McCain clarifies remark about oil, Iraq war

LA Times: Como se dice flip-flop?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

But in Indiana Yesterday...

Here is a story from Indiana yesterday that's a perfect illustration of what a scam the GOP-backed voter ID laws actually are.

What's The Status of the Clinton Campaign?

That's the topic du jour in political gossip (omg!). The buzz is that Sen. Clinton will drop out by June 15, but not sooner as it is so close to the end of the primary season everyone intends to see it through and let the remaining states vote. And that's fair enough.

But, as has been noted a lot today, the actual nomination fight is (unofficially) over. There will still be some wins left for the Clintons (West Virginia, Kentucky), but the beginning of the end is here.

Now is the time to settle down the rhetoric and heal the wounds (uhh, I hope). And then we can go into the Summer and Fall ready to remind Americans why voting for the party that got us into this multitude of messes, that has proven themselves incapable of governing, that has become a one-trick pony of demagoguery, is not the best way to move forward as a nation. And maybe this is-- finally-- the year for that message to sink in.

[UPDATE: But will Clinton bow out gracefully? That still remains a a debatable question.]

North Carolina/Indiana Decide: Obama's Good News. But It Goes On.

So how about all that doom and gloom, eh?

Tonight was a much-needed happy night for Team Obama, as the Senator won a 56-42% victory in North Carolina. In Indiana, meanwhile, Sen. Clinton won a victory there, though by a tight 51-49% victory that ensures that they simply split the state's delegates. With tonight's delegate gains, the Obama camp predicts May 20 -- after which Kentucky, West Virginia, and Oregon will have voted-- is the date that they will have the majority of pledged delegates needed for the nomination. But there's still the superdelegate factor out there and it is that hope which ensures that Clinton will continue this fight through at least the beginning of June, but not hopefully not to the convention.

Sen. Obama gave a gracious speech tonight, congratulating Clinton right off the bat on Indiana, even though the networks hadn't yet called it. He then spoke of party unity, stating "I'm here tonight to tell you that I don't believe [Democrats are divided] ... This fall, we intend to march forward as one Democratic Party, united by a common vision for this country." He also spoke of how the GOP will attack him in the general election, noting that the real issue is how they deal with it. "The question, then, is not what kind of campaign they'll run, it's what kind of campaign we will run. It's what we will do to make this year different," he said. Watch for yourself.

I can't find a link to video of Sen. Clinton's speech (her YouTube channel is crap... nevermind, just found it), but the very first thing she did in the speech was say it's "full speed ahead" toward the White House. Umm, sure. She also continued to hammer home her gas tax holiday position and-- naturally-- makes the case for why you must count Michigan and Florida for her. Or else. She isn't finished yet, whatever that pesky math says otherwise.

Still, barring some freak surprise, the nomination is now unofficially Obama's. It is time to accept that and prepare for the real fight against Sen. McCain.

[How Do They Take This From Him? (Andrew Sullivan)]

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Barack Obama and the GOP's Failing Attack Strategy

I had briefly mentioned this in a post on Sunday morning, but something very encouraging happened this weekend in electoral politics. It was this-
In a close race featuring millions of dollars in bruising television ads, Democrat Don Cazayoux defeated Republican Woody Jenkins on Saturday, winning another House seat for Democrats that had been long held by Republicans.

The National Republican Congressional Committee and several conservative groups poured nearly $1 million into the race in an effort to tie Cazayoux to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The ads called the state representative "too liberal" for the district, which had been held by Republicans since 1974. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and labor unions responded with their own million-dollar ad blitz bashing Jenkins, a former state representative.

Again, keep in mind that this is an overwhelmingly conservative district that went 59% for Bush in 2004, in a state that has otherwise had strong Democratic leanings by Southern standards. This is on top of the election of Bill Foster (who ran in opposition to the war and warrantless wiretapping) in March in Dennis Hastert's old district in Illinois. Sen. Obama had campaigned heavily there for Foster. Democrats remain undefeated in all congressional special elections since the 2006 midterm sweep.

The ads that the GOP ran against Cazayoux in Louisiana were of the typical substance-free, fearmongering, Republican attack variety. Here's one ad that they ran, reminding voters that Cazayoux was a liberal (eek!) with a history of supporting progressive tax policies (EEEK!).

The typical, spineless Democratic reaction to such attacks is to freak out ("I'm no liberal! I, uhh, tax cuts for everyone!") and assume they have to run as Republican-lite to win. But Cazayoux stood his ground and ran a solid campaign, and... won. How about that, huh?

And here is an even crazier ad the GOP ran against him, which doesn't even focus on Cazayoux or his politics at all, but rather uses the scary, election-losing "radical" images of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi to convince voters that this is a man who must be stopped.

Again, it didn't work.

Look, no one believes that winning this election in November will be a cakewalk (voters will greet Democrats as liberators!) or that it's mission accomplished already. The GOP's campaign against Obama this Fall will make what they did to John Kerry look like a fucking tea party. But the doom-and-gloom attitude that many Democrats and liberals head into these elections with often ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It's time for Democrats to dust off their spines, and realize that voters are looking for alternatives, and that smacking down the GOP's overused election narratives isn't the impossible hurdle it's feared to be. And then we win. And the real battle actually begins.

The Big Picture

Melody-- a member of my LJ political community-- posted a typical, cynical take on why Obama is doomed (DOOMED!) and why Democrats must work swiftly to get the nomination away from his "extreme" hands. The Democrats' ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is legendary, and so I found this hand-wringing almost amusing. What follows is my response to her (she has previously scolded me for my "enthusiasm" and "bias"), which I am reprinting here, as this is the big picture view-- for me-- on this election.

Polls show that both candidates can defeat McCain in the Fall, and the superdelegates know it, so worrying about November I doubt will be a major factor in their decision. And considering that about half the superdelegates are elected officials-- Senators, congressmen, etc-- many of whom are themselves up for election this Fall, I doubt they will piss off the party's activist base by giving the nomination to the candidate who came in second place in the primaries. It just won't happen.

Also, I have a post I'm going to be writing later that shows that the GOP is overestimating the power of their attacks on Obama.

With that said, yes Obama has stumbled a bit in the latter half of the primary season. But let's not pretend that happened randomly. It is because the Clintons have played dirty... and are reaping the benefits. For instance, Sen. Obama was running a non-racial campaign... then the Clintons worked overtime to play on racial prejudices by doing and saying whatever necessary to remind voters that Obama is a scary black man.

The second half of that reason is Hillary's shameless pandering which, yes, does absolutely work with voters, most of whom understand policy and details very little. Sen. Clinton-- longtime advocate of tight gun control laws-- decided to play a gun nut starting in Pennsylvania. And then she drank with the regular folks at the bar, because when I think common man, I think Hillary Clinton. Then she started campaigning like a Republican.... calling Obama an "elitist", saying she doesn't care what the "experts" and "economists" think, and then stealing McCain's tax holiday scam to bamboozle gas-price-weary voters. It's disgusting, it's shameless, and undermines the principles and positions that the Democratic party believes in. Yes, it HAS helped her in the polls. But that doesn't mean that a) it's right, or b) that superdelegates should reward this disgusting behavior by giving her the nomination.

And, again, this idea that she is more electable than he is in a general election is ridiculous. In Pennsylvania, for instance, Obama was supposed to lose by 20 points. And then, after a month that included the Rev. Wright scandal and the 'bitter' flap and etc, he managed to narrow that gap so that he only lost by 9 points. And the notion that the majority of those Democratic primary voters who preferred Clinton there will not vote for the Democratic candidate (Obama) in November is equally preposterous. That's like arguing that Hillary would lose Washington state in November because Obama won by a good margin there.

And go look up the 1992 primary results. Seriously. Bill Clinton lost a lot of big states, a lot of key Democratic states. The superdelegates (yes, they were around then too) actually openly wondered if he can defeat Mr. Bush in a general election (he too, if you'll recall, had some scandalous aspects to his character). All the fretting turned out to be masturbatory. The country was in a sour mood and the economy was shit, and the incumbent party lost, as it always does in those conditions.

The only way that Obama and the Democrats in general can lose this election season-- which has been practically gift-wrapped for us-- is if Hillary insists on taking this fight to the convention in late August, which will a) only enlarge party fractures and voter fatigue, and b) continue to give McCain a free pass as the general election fight is pushed back further. We will see all these primaries through to the beginning of June. But then, once it has finally sunk in that Sen. Clinton has lost the nomination, I hope the party leaders will convince her to do the right thing. I am not optimistic.

Odds and Ends

Here's important news that has almost nothing to do with the ongoing election battle...

The shitty news from Myanmar (Burma) gets even shittier: "The cyclone death toll soared above 22,000 on Tuesday and more than 41,000 others were missing as foreign countries mobilized to rush in aid after the country's deadliest storm on record, state radio reported."

The AP reports that major Arctic sea ice melt is expected this summer.

John and Elizabeth Edwards aren't planning to endorse anyone, having likes and dislike about Obama and Clinton.

Meanwhile, please stop talking smack about our infallible free-market economy: "As home prices continue their free fall and banks shy away from lending, Washington officials have increasingly relied on two giant mortgage companies — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — to keep the housing market afloat. But with mortgage defaults and foreclosures rising, Bush administration officials, regulators and lawmakers are nervously asking whether these two companies, would-be saviors of the housing market, will soon need saving themselves."

The crappy jobs sector of the economy, however, continues to be robust.

File this story in the no-shit column: "U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq would make it difficult to mount any attack on Iran, the Pentagon's top officer said in remarks broadcast on Monday, adding that he would prefer to avoid a new regional war."

And administration rhetoric about putting more troops into Afghanistan run into the obvious roadblock... that whole pesky war in Iraq thing.

More related Bush war on terror news: "[N]ot one of the approximately 775 terrorism suspects who have been held on this island has faced a jury trial inside the new complex, and U.S. officials think it is highly unlikely that any of the Sept. 11 suspects will before the Bush administration ends." This is probably for the best.

Suicide notes shed more light on the recent death of the 'DC Madam'.

Finally, negotiation talks may continue between Yahoo and Microsoft.

Pandering To The Finish Line

A lot of people are horrified at the sheer lows of the pandering coming from the Clinton camp in this last stretch of the primary season. But really, they don't remember Clinton that well then. This is the woman who supported censoring videogames. Who supported outlawing flag burning. Who allowed George W. Bush to take this country into war with Iraq. Etc. She believes in winning. Whatever other honorable things she believes in, she's always willing to do say and do whatever it takes to accomplish that. Stealing ridiculous tax holiday scams from John McCain is just the latest (and most insulting) example.

I've always defended her from the excesses of right-wing vitriol. But let's not pretend she's on our side in the end.

Stephen Colbert also dedicated his 'The Word' segment to this issue last night.

[Politics, Pandering, and Policy at the Pump: Who Wins? (Mother Jones)

UPDATE: Holy cow... the Hillary defenders are wading dangerously in self-parody waters.]

Florida/Michigan: An Update

There are reports that the Clinton campaign will "try to win seating of the disputed Michigan and Florida delegations to the Democratic Nation Convention at a meeting of the party's Rules and Bylaws Committee on May 31." Another chapter in this crazy saga.

But most voters are confused by this whole Florida/Michigan mess. My friend Chris and I had an email back-and-forth on the subject, and I thought it might be useful to post that here.

Chris: "Hey there. I figured you would know the answer to this one.The candidates need 2025 delegates to receive the nomination. Hillary is hoping to get MI/FL delegates back in play to get closer to that amount. My question is... wasn't the removal of MI/FL delegates already factored into that total? If they get reinstated, wouldn't the 2025 number go higher by that many more, basically negating the increase and pushing the goalposts back farther? If so, I can see why she wants a disproportionate allocation of delegates in her favor, as a 50/50 split is just as bad for her as no delegates at all.

Did I miss something here? Is she missing something here?"

Me: "My understanding is that the 2025 number is the original number... meaning it DOES factor in the total number that Michigan and Florida have. When those two states had their delegates stripped, that's part of what made it take longer then to get to that big 2025 number. Because you'd have to win even more states to make up for that loss in getting to 2025.

So Hillary believes that getting those delegates proportioned to her via the BS votes in each state would help her close the gap with Obama.

But here's the thing... I've seen a few blogs that have crunched the numbers under the possible scenario that she gets her way there (I don't think she will; Dean seems to be sticking to his guns)... and the math still would not get her the nomination. And she knows this. As I wrote on my blog a month or ago, the REAL purpose of this Michigan/Florida game she's playing is to sow uncertainty in the race, giving her an excuse to take the fight to the convention while she works over the superdelegates."

And then we went back and forth a bit ranting about the Clinton campaign. At this point, I almost want to just throw her the delegates and get it over with (though I don't see her getting her way on this... though I do see the delegates being seated in some way) just to take this ball taken away from her. She still can't overtake Obama's delegate lead, even with this. Of course, like I said, that's never been what this fight was about.

Meanwhile, in Iraq...

The fighting and tensions in Iraq may still be as hostile as ever-- and no one will still even discuss the idea of an exit strategy-- but that doesn't mean it's not time to start planning how to economically take advantage of this war-torn nation. From the AP-
Forget the rocket attacks, concrete blast walls and lack of a sewer system. Now try to imagine luxury hotels, a shopping center and even condos in the heart of Baghdad.

That's all part of a five-year development "dream list" — or what some dub an improbable fantasy — to transform the U.S.-protected Green Zone from a walled fortress into a centerpiece for Baghdad's future.

But the $5 billion plan has the backing of the Pentagon and apparently the interest of some deep pockets in the world of international hotels and development, the lead military liaison for the project told The Associated Press...

Always reassuring to see that we don't forget our priorities. Best war ever.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Barack Obama Met The Press

A relatively decent interview. You can watch it on YouTube here.... Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Random Thought.

Remember when Hillary Clinton was running as the wonk-y, serious, intelligent alternative to 'substance-free' Barack Obama?

Hahahahaha! Ahhh, good times.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Weekend Video Theatre: Bush's Magic Wand / Dean's Migraine

Jon looks at the economic wrangling on cable news, and then speaks with Howard Dean...


Hey, it seems people were voting on stuff this weekend! Sen. Obama wins the Guam caucus. And the Dems capture a House seat in a special election in Louisiana. Good times.