Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Oregon, Kentucky Decide... Obama/Clinton Each Win A State

Don't even bother turning on the TV... the results were exactly what was expected. Sen. Clinton won Kentucky by a huge margin, and Sen. Obama won Oregon also by a huge margin, thus "moving [him] within 100 delegates of the total he needs to claim the prize at the party convention this summer." And, yes, there's still contests to come in the next couple of weeks in Puerto Rico and South Dakota and Montana, but it's really up to the superdelegates now to finish this. Which we already knew.

Some good analysis of all this... from Slog, Slate, and Talking Points Memo.

Sen. Kennedy Has Brain Tumor

Sad news out of Massachusetts today...

AP: Sen. Edward Kennedy has malignant brain tumor

Monday, May 19, 2008

Odds and Ends

Got a case of the Mondays again, so here's a quick roundup of news...

Sens. McCain and Obama continue their back-and-forth debate over foreign policy-

Meanwhile, Sen. Obama-- who I believe made a big mistake not campaigning in Kentucky this past week (hello, 50-state strategy calling, are you there Barack?)-- did manage to draw a crowd up to 75,000 people to a rally in Oregon this past weekend. That's a lot of people.

And the New Republic's Doug Wolf looks at all the anti-Obama chain emails that have been growing for a year now, while one YouTube reporter talked to West Virginians last week and saw how these smears have begun to become conventional wisdom to many.

If only people would start sending some emails around about Sen. McCain, whose campaign staff is one lobbyist after another, many of whom have been forced to resign after an endless stream of scandals. Because, you know, that seems significant to me.

And the folks at BraveNewFilms debut a new McCain video which will be viewed by no one-

In non-campaign news, Sen. Kennedy is recovering from a seizure he suffered this weekend.

Meanwhile, in a twist, President Bush lectures the Middle East on being too dependent on an oil-based economy.

Finally, China takes time to officially mourn the thousands killed in the recent earthquake.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Hypothetical War

Doug Feith-- aka "the stupidest fucking guy on the planet", according to Gen. Tommy Franks-- was the Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy during President Bush's first term, and one of the architects of the Iraq war policy. He has written the latest in a series of 'passing the buck' memoirs from administration officials looking for absolution in the eyes of history.

Jon Stewart interviewed Feith this past Monday about the book. Like his January interview with National Review editor Jonah Goldberg, the interview went long and had to be edited down for TV. Unlike that interview, however, they made the full interview-- all 20 minutes of it-- available for viewing on their website. And here it is.

It is a shame that the full interview didn't get aired (the version that did can be seen here), because I think the more interesting stuff is here in the uncut version. Jon Stewart spends most of the interview pressing Feith, trying to get him to acknowledge the lies misleading way in which the administration sold this war to the public. In Feith's revisionist history, the administration was perfectly upfront about what a cakewalk messy business war is. But Jon kept pushing, including on the hypocrisy of a policy of preemptive war that began and ended with Iraq.

In the second half of the discussion in the uncut Pt. 2, Jon talks about the "certainty" in which the administration's pre-war rhetoric was enshrined in, noting instead that "this whole war was a hypothesis". He brought up the talk/fear of nuclear mushroom clouds in American cities that was used to sell a preemptive attack and war on Iraq. Feith replied that their attitude was simply "If we don't do something, our intelligence is not good enough to know for sure that they have a nuclear weapon, until they detonate it." Which, of course, proves Stewart's point. And when Jon noted that this was a war of choice (our choice), Feith replied "The concern was, did we want the war to be of Saddam Hussein's choosing", apparently again conceding that we launched a war (an endless, multi-trillion dollar, deadly war) based on the hypothetical fantasy that Saddam was plotting our imminent doom with his hypothetical WMDs.

Stewart ended, after Feith all but conceded the point, by noting that the only hypotheticals the administration refused (and still refuses) to discuss were the downsides to the war.

I think that this was the real meat of the interview, and it's a shame that not only do people have to turn a satirical show for this kind of discussion, but that this part ended up on the cutting-room floor. Still, always good to see a few people interested in how we got here.

[Think Progress: Feith Blames Public For Feeling Misled About Iraq: 'I Think They Misremember A Lot']

The Elephant in the Room

Following yet another Democratic victory in a special House election in a seemingly safe GOP seat, the Republican Party seems to finally understand that simply complaining about liberals and flag pins can't change the cold hard facts of a public really pissed off after 8 years of Republican misgovernance. "It's pathetic," said GOP guru Frank Luntz. "I encourage all Republican candidates, whether incumbents or challengers, to take stock of their campaigns and position themselves for challenging campaigns this fall," National Republican Congressional Committee chair Tom Cole wrote in a statement.

But really, is this a shock? The GOP got their ass kicked in the 2006 elections, after which, things have only gotten worse in the country. And instead of taking that "thumpin'" to heart and dialing things back-- as the conventional wisdom predicted at the time-- they responded to that defeat by digging in their heels more... in terms of the war, in terms of conservative economic policy, in terms of defending Bush, etc.

Let's try and dissect this logic... Party A governs in an increasingly destructive and unpopular way for years. Voters punish Party A with staggering electoral loss. Party A gets pissy, continues to govern in same increasingly destructive and unpopular way. Voters prepare to punish Party A with further electoral losses. Party A rants about flag pins and angry preachers. Then... victory?

It's extremely puzzling that such a brilliant strategy (the political surge is working!) is failing to yield results.