Monday, March 31, 2008

People are Stupid: Part 2 of an Infinite Part Series.

I want to go back to the issue of the Gallup poll showing 28% of Democratic Clinton supporters and 19% of Democratic Obama supporters would vote for John McCain over the other Democrat.

First of all, I’ve heard the theory that these figures are misleading because many of the 19% for Obama are lifelong Republicans who are only now considering a Democrat for the first time. And many of the 28% for Clinton are only supporting her in the Democratic race in order to serve her up as an easy opponent for McCain (In other words, they would vote for McCain in the general either way!)

It’s hard to tell how much weight to give to these arguments, since I can’t tell whether the poll is focused on those who voted in the 2008 Democratic Primary, or those who identify themselves as Democrats. If it’s the former, then I would agree that the poll is probably meaningless. If it’s the latter, then I share the concerns of those who fear the worst regarding what would essentially be “revenge voting!”

On the other hand, I certainly hope that once a nominee is determined, people will begin to realize (as they are told over and over by the Democrat in the race) that a vote for McCain will never be seen historically as vote for vindication of the losing Democratic candidate. It will be seen, forever and completely, as a vote of confidence in the policies of Bush and Cheney!

In fact, this will be the last opportunity for Democrats and discouraged Independents and Republicans to repudiate the policies of Bush and Cheney!

Even if McCain is elected and then ousted for a Democrat in 2112, Bush and Cheney will forever be able to claim that they left office with enough public support to re-elect another Republican. At that point, in Bush’s (feeble) mind, anything less than complete triumphant success in the Middle East will be on McCain’s head.

Of course, he’ll blame it on the Democrats anyway, but if McCain takes over first, Bush can bolster his claims of "being right all along" with claims of having had a vote of confidence from the American people!

That is, if people are stupid enough to vote for McCain!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Mouth Gives it Away!

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Why is it that I wasn't surprised to hear that the giant Easter bunny that Bush recently spent the day cuddling with was actually White House Counsel, Fred Fielding?

I think it was because I recognized the mouth!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

How Firm is Hillary's Superdelegate Support?

As noted by Demconwatch, there was a recent flurry of activity surrounding the super delegate endorsement of Rep. Lynn Woolsey (CA-6th). Although it appeared to some that Woolsey had agreed to vote with her district – for Barack Obama – despite her previous endorsement of Hillary Clinton, Demconwatch has yet to move her from the Clinton column to the Obama column.

I also noticed that Woolsey, a founding member of the Out of Iraq Caucus, was one of a group of 16 members, (out of a total of 64), who signed an “open letter” that was published on Hillary Clinton’s official blog, and picked up and reported by Fox News (but no other "traditional" news outlets), and several other pro-Hillary sites that I won’t bother linking to.
As firm opponents of the Iraq war, we believe there is no higher priority for the next President of the United States than ending this war, and we believe there is no one better prepared and more committed to bringing this war to a responsible conclusion than Hillary Clinton. The best way to honor the sacrifices of our brave young men and women in uniform is to bring them home.

We support Hillary Clinton because she is the candidate with the stature, strength, and experience needed to end this war as quickly and responsibly as possible. Hillary has put forward the most comprehensive plan for bringing our troops home, with troop withdrawals beginning within 60 days of taking office. She bravely pressed the Pentagon to begin planning for the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. And she has introduced legislation to bar the Bush administration from unilaterally negotiating a long-term security agreement with the Iraqi government and thereby tying the hands of the next administration.

Hillary’s commitment to ending this war is matched by her experience. Her knowledge of the armed forces, her service on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and her extraordinary efforts on behalf of our veterans have earned her the respect of our men and women in uniform.

We are proud to support her because we know that she is the candidate ready to bring our troops home.

Del. Donna Christian-Christensen (D-VI)
Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY)
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX)
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA)
Rep. Michael McNulty (D-NY)
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA)
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY)
Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA)
Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY)
Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH)
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA)
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)
I have a particular interest in the position of Rep Woolsey as she represents my district, and I have already expressed my concern over her support for Clinton in a letter I sent to her, as well as an abridged version that was published in my local newspaper.

Looking at a brief timeline, Woolsey’s endorsement of Clinton was announced on 12/27/07, my letter to Woolsey was mailed on 2/10/08, the Out of Iraq Caucus letter was posted 3/18/08, and the blog rumors of Woolsey having switched her voting intentions arose on 3/24/08.

But just today, I received a written response to my letter from Woolsey dated 3/14/08, which states the following (my emphasis):
Dear (seenos),

Thank you for contacting me regarding my endorsement of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2008 Presidential election; I value your concern and input on this issue.

Across this country voters are energized and excited about this primary. They’re not only turning out in record numbers to vote, but thousands have gotten involved with the campaigns as volunteers, making the Democratic Party stronger than ever.

After all of this excitement, no one wants our party’s nominee to be chosen by the votes of a handful of super delegates. It should come as no surprise to anyone that I won’t stand for it either. That’s why, while I remain a strong Hillary Clinton supporter, I will cast my vote at the convention for the candidate that is chosen not through back room deals, but by the votes of the American public.

Again, thank you for your interest in this matter.


Lynn Woolsey
I suppose it’s possible that Woolsey made her decision to vote against her endorsement if and only if Clinton couldn’t win the pledged delegate race, leading to her response to me and to others who called or wrote to her about it.

She still might have decided to sign on with the other 15 caucus members touting Clinton as the best candidate to get us out of Iraq. Since the letter was not released to all the traditional media outlets, but seemingly only to the Clinton campaign, it was apparently not intended to sway public opinion so much as to express admiration and support to her personally.

While it's impossible to get inside Woolsey's head to really understand the timing of these letters, what I do know is that I have a signed letter from one of the super delegates in Clinton's column indicating she intends to vote for the pledged delegate leader, who will most certainly be Obama!

I wonder how many others in Clinton's column endorsed when she was "inevitable" and now are leaning toward voting in opposition to their endorsement!

Also at Daily Kos

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

People are Stupid: Part 1 of an Infinite Part Series!

This is absurd!

According to Gallup, 28% of Democratic Clinton supporters say they would cross over and vote for McCain if Clinton doesn’t win the Democratic nomination.

Likewise, 19% of Obama supporters say they would cross over and vote for McCain if Obama doesn’t win the nomination.

As an Obama supporter, I can understand losing interest and enthusiasm for the general election if Clinton somehow ends up as the nominee, but there’s no way in hell casting a vote for McCain would make me feel any better!

More likely, I would skip the presidential vote, or cast a “protest vote” for a third party candidate (if there is one I can stand!) And I would focus my energy on down ticket races to try to build a progressive majority that could keep either president in check.

In all likelihood, however, I would eventually end up voting for Clinton, without donating or working to help her get elected, and then focus my energies elsewhere.

Voting for McCain would be a complete rejection of all moral principles. Period!

It would be the moral equivalent of watching a sporting event and openly rooting for the best player on the opposing team to die of a sudden heart attack! (Only in this case, sort of the opposite, from an electoral point of view.)

This leads to one of my biggest questions about Clinton and Obama, and the answer speaks volumes to me about their relative merits as a potential president:

If either of them are not the nominee, which of them would actively work to discourage the 28% or 19% respectively from following through with their heated emotional reaction by contributing their vote toward four more years of Republican policies, just for revenge?

Monday, March 24, 2008

The “Misspeaker in Chief” Threshold

As of today, it’s official!

We now know that Barack Obama is the only candidate in the presidential race that has crossed the threshold separating deliberate and careful use of the spoken word, from the practice of indiscriminately blurting out statements that are factually wrong, and then needing to be publicly corrected by aides like Joe Lieberman and Howard Wolfson!

Here’s McCain’s latest bit of misspeak:

And here’s Hillary Clinton’s latest bit of misspeak:

Clearly, based on Wolfson’s description of Hillary’s Big Adventure in Tuzla, where he claims she merely “mis-spoke” when describing (multiple times) having to run through sniper fire with heads down, McCain and Clinton are both firmly planted on the same side of the “misspeaker in chief” threshold.

And, for good measure, here’s Barack Obama speaking from the other side of the threshold:

Now, in a subsequent interview with Will Bunch, Hillary weighs in personally on the issue, again copping to a “misstatement.” But when she was asked if she thought it would damage her credibility, she offered this:
No, I went to 80 countries, you know. I gave contemporaneous accounts, I wrote about a lot of this in my book. you know, I think that, a minor blip, you know, if I said something that, you know, I say a lot of things -- millions of words a day -- so if I misspoke, that was just a misstatement.
OK, so let’s do the math! Giving her the benefit of the doubt and assuming she only says one million words a day -and never sleeps, eats or pauses to listen to anybody else - that would be approximately 41,700 words per hour, or 700 words per minute, or about 12 words per second!

When you are talking that fast, it’s no wonder you occasionally misspeak!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Internet Giveth and the Internet Taketh Away!

This video is a perfect example of the type of manipulative deception I’ve long recognized as coming from Hillary Clinton. Whenever she and her supporters talk about her “encyclopedic knowledge of policy,” or whenever she touts her "35 years of experience" at everything from foreign policy to children’s issues to women’s issues to the economy, I’ve always sensed that she was “making shit up” to pad her resume.

It’s a bit ironic that the positive feelings many people still have for the Clintons comes primarily because Bill presided over the White House during a period of dramatic economic growth due to the rise of the Internet. Yet, Hillary’s presidential campaign is going to be undone because her manipulative claims of being “fully vetted” and “experienced” in everything required of a president are being exposed for the lies they are . . . by the Internet!

In Hillary’s world, it’s enough to manipulate the traditional media, and the people will follow, believing whatever the traditional media chooses to push. In the real world of today’s Internet, people like JedReport, who edited the video above, are the media, and the truth will eventually come to those who want to see it.

As will the most accurate way of describing Hillary’s manipulation:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Obama’s NCAA Picks Show Good Strategic Judgment.

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Long before I started blogging about politics - in fact, long before there was even an Internet – one of my great loves was picking apart arguments and strategies related to basketball. I’ve participated in March Madness pools for the last 30 years, often serving as commissioner of pools I created. I was a charter member of an NBA fantasy league back when game stats and league standings were calculated with pencil and paper, and the timeliness of my newspaper deliverer was a source of daily hand wringing.

Over the years, I’ve won – a lot! I’m currently on a 3 year streak of finishing first or second in my primary NCAA Tourney pool. Before I gave up the NBA fantasy league a few years ago, I was in the money 9 of the previous 10 years. These facts are not intended to brag, but rather to explain my qualifications for discussing the strategic judgment displayed by the bracket selections recently released by Barack Obama.

I’ve looked over his picks in detail and can reach some strong conclusions that suggest he would be a good bet to exercise the thoughtful, wise, strategic judgment he promises as President. Here are some of those observations, keeping in mind that some of the games are already in the books, so I have to be careful not to place too much weight on known results.

1. He doesn’t expect too many miracles. His Final Four picks include 3 number 1 seeds, suggesting he believes the odds favor existing evidence. With a few notable exceptions, the majority of his picks are the favored teams, suggesting recognition that the reason they are favored is their past observable performance.

2. He understands that you have to take some chances. Among his first round picks are a few lower seeds, such as Winthrop, St. Joseph’s, Davidson, St. Mary’s, and Baylor, all hot teams matched up against teams considered to be slumping or more beatable than their reputations. He has Pittsburgh, a 4 seed, in the Final Four. None of his upset picks appear to be based on blind allegiance, such as a 15-2 or 16-1 matchup in round 1, or a deep run for a low seed. Although they do happen, the odds are very low that you, or anyone else, will guess which one. More likely, you'll get it wrong and lose!

3. He’s not a “homer.” Although there isn’t an Illinois team in the tourney, a common fault of “homers” is to stick with teams in their home team’s league. In this case, University of Illinois plays in the Big Ten, but Barack doesn’t have any of the four Big Ten teams going deeper than their seed would suggest.

4. He appears to remember his day job. As noted by other journalists, Obama’s pick to win the tournament happens to be from North Carolina, which has an important upcoming primary. His “surprise” Final Four choice is Pittsburgh - from Pennsylvania, the next primary on the docket. Despite the nod to upcoming voters, both picks are well within the realm of reasonableness.

5. He’s not a panderer. He could have picked, as his Final Four, Pittsburgh, Villanova, St Joseph’s and Temple (the last one an "intentional" cross bracket blunder) – all teams from Pennsylvania. Or, looking forward, he could have selected Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame and Butler, all from Indiana.

I didn’t do a similar analysis of John McCain’s brackets because I wasn’t willing to sign up at his website in order to see them. However, based on hints from this article, let’s just say that I’m willing to let their bracket selections determine which of them gets to be president!

Also at Daily Kos

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hey Media: Enough about Ashley.There’s a New Story in Town!

Today we learned that at least three people, working in the State Department, breached the security of Barack Obama’s passport files. Apparently, the breach occurred in January, 2008, during the period leading up to the Super Tuesday primaries. Despite procedures that require immediate investigation and notification, Obama was only advised today!

According to a White House spokesperson, the reason for the breach was “not political,” but rather was out of “curiosity.” The only possible way to know the true motivation for the breach is to learn much more about the three individuals who accessed the records. Why do they say they did it? Who did they talk to about it before and after? Who do they associate with who might have helped peak their curiosity!

I think this is a good time to point out that we first learned about the Eliot Spitzer scandal on March 11, 2008.

It is now March 22, 2008, and a Google news search for Ashley Alexandra Dupre gets 3,543 hits, and counting! We’ve learned about her aspirations for a singing career, her heartbreaking family history, even her liaisons with Charlie Sheen!

Enough about Ashley! Go find out why these three guys (or gals) were so “curious” about Obama’s private records that they broke the law and eventually got fired, in order to access them!

I'll be checking back in eleven days!

Also at Daily Kos

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Much More Than a Sound Bite!

In today’s speech, Barack Obama showed that he is the only current Presidential candidate capable of understanding and facing the complexities of race relations, foreign policy, health care, education, the economy, etc. – rather than just trying to bluff his way through them with a series of “focus grouped” sound bites.

In future speeches, I hope he will begin to draw more attention to the fact that a reliance on oversimplified sound bites, instead of thoughtful consideration of real complex problems, was what led America to authorize and wage an unnecessary war that has sapped our resources and paved the way to the dire economic predicament we now find ourselves in.

By making the connection between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, tax cuts for the wealthy, the failing economy, and the simplistic use of illogical slogans to obscure the real problems, Obama can essentially campaign against John McCain and Hillary Clinton at the same time, while also appealing to the working class voters of Pennsylvania and other states who are hurting the most.

[Update] Looks like Obama got my memo! This is from an Obama press release from yesterday afternoon:
On Thursday, March 20, 2008, Senator Barack Obama will deliver a major speech on Iraq and the economy in Charleston, West Virginia, where he will address the costs of the war in Iraq on our economy
In my view, this has the potential to be the real closing argument of the campaign! And not just the primary, but the general election!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Did Mark Penn Use Microsoft Against Obama?

I’ve been sitting on this for a while because I didn’t want to seem paranoid, but this report of a guest at a Clinton fund raiser wearing an “Osama for Obama” t-shirt, combined with a recent diary by JedReport at Daily Kos regarding Mark Penn, got me thinking again.

The diary included the following description of Penn’s PR firm:
Burson-Marsteller's work is primarily for corporations, ranging from Blackwater to Microsoft to the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.
I then found an article in the Washington Post, which described Penn's work with Microsoft:
(Penn) heads a giant public relations firm, where he personally hones Microsoft's image in Washington.
This reminded me of an incident about six weeks ago, when I sent an e-mail to a friend, in which I referred to Barack Obama. I noticed that the following dialog box popped up.

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Now why would “Osama” be offered as a suggested spelling for “Obama?” As far as I knew, both are names, but have no other definition. I had no idea what “Bema” is, so I decided to try a few more experiments.

I keyed in a sample e-mail using the word Osama. No message regarding spelling!

I decided to check the computer’s dictionary, so I typed in the word “Obama” and hit “Search all Reference Books.” I got the following message with the same two options: “Osama” and “Bema.”

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OK. I’d confirmed “Obama” had no definition. I typed in the word “Bema” and got the following:

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Thinking perhaps I was unaware of an actual definition, I typed in the word “Osama” and got the following:

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Nothing! So my question remained: Why did Microsoft Outlook give me “Osama” as a suggested spelling for “Obama?”

I decided to do some additional research and found this article describing the problem, which has apparently been fixed by Microsoft. The article includes a statement from the software giant:
Microsoft considers "a number of factors when updating our content, including user feedback, frequency of the words in market area publications, and the first names of public figures whose last names have been added."

"The behavior seen here was not because there was logic in Office or the Office spell-checker specifically targeted towards the word 'Obama' to change it to 'Osama.' Instead, the spell-checker just didn't have 'Obama' in its dictionary, so it tried to provide alternative suggestions based on closest match."
However, at the time I originally noticed this, I happened to enter the names of all of the other Democratic candidates, and Obama was the only one that gave me a spelling suggestion, meaning the database already contained lesser candidates like “Dodd” and “Kucinich.”

It may just have been an oversight, but the article about Mark Penn’s close connection to Microsoft makes me wonder. It wouldn’t have taken much more than to deliberately leave Obama out of the database during the primary season, since Osama was already there and would automatically come up as a spelling suggestion!

Oh, and as for Microsoft's update which added Obama once he became a national presidential candidate, I would point out that, based on a test I performed today, Microsoft still thinks Mike Huckabee is a small bird!

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Friday, March 14, 2008

The Ferraro/Penn One Two Punch!

The Geraldine Ferraro flap just got even more ridiculous with the above appearance on the NBC Nightly News, which begins with Ferraro stating the reason she resigned was that “she wanted to get this off the news!”

It was shortly followed by a media conference call (audio available at linked source) in which Mark Penn stated that Pennsylvania will show that Obama “can’t win in the General Election.”

Clearly, it’s all part of the same plan, brilliantly described by Will Bunch as Hillary’s “Archie Bunker Strategy,” in which her campaign:

a) Uses Ferraro to start a racism firestorm right before the state where she thinks there’s a receptive audience.

b) Characterize the “Keystone State” as the only key to winning the general election.

c) Hope that latent racism in Pennsylvania helps Hillary to get her largest margin of victory to date.

d) Claim that the Pennsylvania victory clearly shows Obama is a flawed candidate who can’t win the general election.

It’s a cynical strategy, quite worthy of being mocked, as the Obama camp was compelled to do; and excoriated, as Keith Olbermann recent did this Special Comment:

And for those hoping for a change from the manipulative and deceptive politics that have ruled Washington for decades, we can only hope that the Clintons’ reliance on an undercurrent of “hidden racism” in America is misplaced.

After 8 years of George W. Bush, perhaps we will find that America actually has an even stronger undercurrent of “hidden liarism!”

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Solving Florida the Easy Way!

I wonder if it’s a coincidence that the very same day Hillary’s campaign manager sends a letter to Obama very politely seeking agreement with this statement:
Over the last few weeks, there has been much discussion about how to ensure that the Florida and Michigan delegations are seated. We think there are two options: Either honor the results or hold new primary elections.
We hear this from Florida:
We are committed to working with the DNC, the Florida State Democratic party, our Democratic leaders in Florida, and our two candidates to reach an expedited solution that ensures our 210 delegates are seated. Our House delegation is opposed to a mail-in campaign or any redo of any kind.
Of course, there’s another way that we can both honor the results and avoid a redo of any kind, which might also be acceptable to Obama.

How about if the other two candidates on the Florida ballot, John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich, agree to endorse Obama and give him their votes? According to the official tally, that would place it as follows:

Clinton -- - - - - - - - - - - - - 857,208 50.89%
Obama, Edwards, Kucinich - 827,182 49.11%

Hillary would get the vote of every single Floridian who chose her on the ballot, while Kucinich would merely be extending the same courtesy toward Obama’s candidacy that he did in Iowa, and Edwards would salvage a small scrap of influence over whether or not the fate of the poor will end up in the hands of one of the two candidates who think John McCain would make a fine president!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Clinton Campaign Reduced to Debating With Sinbad!

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Among the experiences Hillary Clinton has used to bolster her “ready on day one” foreign policy credentials is a 1996 trip to Bosnia, where she accompanied daughter Chelsea, singer Sheryl Crow, and comedian Sinbad for a one day visit to entertain the troops. Apparently, Sinbad, an Obama supporter, doesn’t agree with her characterization of the dangers involved in that trip.
In an interview with the Sleuth Monday, he said the "scariest" part of the trip was wondering where he'd eat next. "I think the only 'red-phone' moment was: 'Do we eat here or at the next place.'"
In her Iowa stump speech, Clinton also said, "We used to say in the White House that if a place is too dangerous, too small or too poor, send the First Lady."

Say what? As Sinbad put it: "What kind of president would say, 'Hey, man, I can't go 'cause I might get shot so I'm going to send my wife...oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you"

Demonstrating the sense lack of humor that has made her the rage death of Saturday Night Live, the Clinton campaign lashed back with a blizzard of talking points that appeared to put Sinbad on the McCain/Clinton side of the commander in chief threshold.
Defending Clinton's characterization of her Bosnia mission, campaign spokesman Phil Singer kindly provided experts from news stories written about the trip at the time, including a Washington Post story from May 26, 1996, that said, "This trip to Bosnia marks the first time since Roosevelt that a first lady has voyaged to a potential combat zone."

Still, defending Clinton against Sinbad the refuter, Singer said, "The sad reality of what was going on in Bosnia at the time Senator Clinton traveled there as first lady has been well documented. It appears that Sinbad's experience in Bosnia goes back further than Senator Obama's does. In fact, has Senator Obama ever been to Bosnia?"
Perhaps, if Obama turns down the VP slot, based on advice from Geraldine Ferraro about who is lucky enough to be on the short list, Hillary might consider offering the job to Sinbad!

On a personal note, I should add that, although I’ve never been to Bosnia, my first trip to Croatia in 1997 included travel in an area that had been a war zone about a year earlier, and still had warning signs regarding potential land mines in remote areas. According to the Hillary Clinton school of presidential resume writing, I’ve probably got at least one foot across the commander in chief threshold!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I Take Hillary at Her Word That She’s Not a Monster

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Was it stupid for an Obama advisor to call Hillary Clinton a “monster?” Almost everyone seems to agree that it was, but I’m not convinced. From everything I’ve read, Samantha Power is a brilliant and accomplished woman who will be greatly missed as a part of the Obama team, but it’s hard to believe that a Pulitzer prize winning journalist, no matter how frustrated, would unintentionally make such a gaffe in an interview with a reporter.

Could it be that this comment was intended to give Senator Clinton a bit of her own medicine, just to show that, by her standards, Obama is as prepared to take on the Republicans as she is?

With Hillary’s current campaign strategy that amounts to poisoning the well for the entire Democratic Party, I’m not so sure that it’s a bad thing to have every media outlet in the country using the words “Hillary” and “monster” in the same sentence!

The “mistake” has been retracted and an apology made, but somehow the phrase “Hillary is a monster” sticks in the imagination. It’s the proverbial toothpaste that can’t be put back in the tube. Whether or not Hillary is, in any sense, a “monster” is no more relevant than whether or not Barack Obama is a Muslim, but now aides have left the campaigns on both sides for creating for creating or spreading this imagery.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with being a Muslim, and Obama’s campaign isn’t gravitating toward invoking religious differences. Hillary’s campaign, on the other hand, has seized on the use of fear, in a manner similar to what Republicans have done in recent elections; and the wild deviations in the tone of her rhetoric often suggest a bit of mental derangement that is sometimes consistent with the use of the term “monster.”

If Hillary’s campaign continues as it has in recent weeks, the monster image will keep coming up for many voters, even when they consciously reject the characterization. The next time Hillary runs a fear-mongering TV ad, they might hear it more like this:
It’s 3 AM.

Your kids are safe and asleep.

There’s a phone in the White House and its ringing.

There’s something going on in the world!

Who do you think your kids want to answer that phone?

Your vote will decide.

Your kids are safe and asleep.

Do they want you to risk having that phone answered . . .

. . . By a Monster!
Meanwhile, although “monster” is surely a poor choice of words to describe Hillary’s unpredictable mood swings, Larry David at Huffington Post tells a similar story framed in a slightly more acceptable way!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

As If On Cue . . .

Just yesterday, I wrote this:
One of primary “skills” demonstrated by Hillary and most of her surrogates during this campaign is the ability to evade questions by authoritatively answering, with encyclopedic detail, some other question from an alternate universe where everything can be turned to her political advantage.
And now I find the following, which is both a perfect example of what I’m talking about, and a perfect example of how the media should respond:

Whenever one of Clinton’s surrogates launches into what Bill Maher calls “the bullshit portion of the answer,” the appropriate response should always be “That’s not what I asked. Would you care to answer the question?”

Friday, March 07, 2008

Crossing the Threshold

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Talk about lobbing a softball while thinking you are unhittable:
In a Cabinet-style setting, surrounded by retired military leaders, Sen. Hillary Clinton said the public should ask whether Democratic presidential rival Barack Obama has met the criteria needed to become the nation’s commander in chief.

“I think that since we now know Sen. (John) McCain will be the nominee for the Republican Party, national security will be front and center in this election. We all know that. And I think it’s imperative that each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the commander-in-chief threshold,” the New York senator told reporters crowded into an infant’s bedroom-sized hotel conference room in Washington.

“I believe that I’ve done that. Certainly, Sen. McCain has done that and you’ll have to ask Sen. Obama with respect to his candidacy,” she said.

Calling McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee a good friend and a “distinguished man with a great history of service to our country,” Clinton said, “Both of us will be on that stage having crossed that threshold. That is a critical criterion for the next Democratic nominee to deal with.”
Until now, Obama’s responses to Hillary’s attacks on the issue of readiness have been limited. While she cited “a lifetime of experience” as her evidence, without any substantiating detail, all he could do was question what in her lifetime of experience she was talking about.

And although she clearly doesn’t answer the question, the nebulous nature of a “lifetime of experience” allows her free rein to bullshit to the satisfaction of her gullible supporters.

But “crossing a threshold” is different! Crossing a threshold doesn’t occur during a long accumulation of nebulous lifetime events.

Crossing a threshold requires a moment!

Obama now has the opportunity to ask some more specific questions:

1. When was the moment you crossed the commander-in-chief threshold?

2. When was the moment that Bill Clinton crossed the commander-in-chief threshold?

3. Do you feel that George Bush has ever crossed the commander-in-chief threshold?

4. If not, what does it mean to the country when someone who has never crossed the commander-in-chief threshold pretends that they have!

One of primary “skills” demonstrated by Hillary and most of her surrogates during this campaign is the ability to evade questions by authoritatively answering, with encyclopedic detail, some other question from an alternate universe where everything can be turned to her political advantage.

She needs to be forced to answer the actual question being asked, and since she brought it up, revealing the moment she crossed the commander-in-chief threshold would be a good place to start!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Momentum Change or Market Correction?

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I suppose there are two main narratives coming out of Tuesday’s primaries.

One is that by increasing her negative attacks on Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton has turned the race around and seized the momentum.

The other is that the media, preferring a close race to a lengthy string of Obama routes, took every opportunity to highlight stories that would bring him back to earth, giving Clinton a chance to eke out a couple of token wins and slow his march to the nomination.

Although I tend to think it’s the latter, I’m fully with the Obama campaign in their determination to act as if it’s the former.

In response to the expectation (and explicit threat from her campaign strategist, Mark Penn) that Clinton will accelerate her negative attacks, after having learned that it seemed to work in Ohio and Texas, the Obama camp indicated that they intend to return the fire with a more targeted focus on Clinton’s experience, honesty, and past ethical lapses.

Although I’ve urged Obama to stay above the fray in the past, I think the timing is much better now to throw a few leading jabs as a supplement to his recent willingness to counterpunch.

By now, he’s already proven that he can inspire voters and win support with a positive message of hope and transformative change, something Clinton has been unable to match.

She can shown she only compete by tearing Obama down, by pounding him with a relentless string of exaggerated, misleading, and sometimes completely fabricated slurs, offered in the name of “vetting,” but mostly intended to appeal to latent racism or fearfulness in her targeted low education, low income, voters.

With a significant lead in a Democratic Party that clearly doesn’t want to field a bloodied and wounded candidate in the general election, the time is right for Obama to signal to the party elders that he isn’t going to let Clinton slime him into submission.

If they don’t want a bloody battle reminiscent of Leonard vs. Duran, they had better get Obama’s back by coalescing around his campaign and pressuring Clinton to stop the party destroying tactics that are her only path to a tarnished nomination.

Or everybody gets hurt!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Every Candidate Has a Lifetime of Experience!

Hillary Clinton has been widely criticized for this comment where she seems to suggest that John McCain would make a better president than Barack Obama because his (and her) “lifetime of experience” trumps Obama’s single speech – as if Obama simply materialized on the planet the day of the speech and has experienced nothing since!

Contrary to Hillary's logic, every candidate has a lifetime of experience. Even if Rush Limbaugh were running for president, he would have a lifetime of experience - albeit experience that includes Oxycontin abuse and Viagra fueled sex tourism in the Dominican Republic! The only differences are in the length of the lifetime, the quality of the experience, and the capacity to learn from that experience and apply it effectively to future situations.

If it were only about longevity, there would be no point in running either Democrat against John McCain. He would just pick John Warner as his running mate and the coronation would begin!

While quality of experience is important, simply "being there" isn't enough. To be effective, you must show you can learn from the experience you have.

The fact is that neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama has any executive experience. Neither has been the primary decision maker running a large organization; the one who would answer the phone at 3 AM if there were a catastrophic problem. The closest comparison we have to actual executive experience is to look at their respective performance as “Commander in Chief” of a presidential campaign.

And the difference here is dramatic!

Hillary started her campaign as the Democratic Party’s only “superpower.” She had the highest name recognition, the most donors, and the support of the influential party establishment. By her own admission, it was her nomination!

However, through a combination of financial mismanagement, tone deaf messaging, lack of a long-term strategy, and failure to properly prepare for a highly motivated insurgent opponent, her campaign fell flat. By Super Tuesday, it had sunk to near bankruptcy before a loan from her personal fortune kept it on life support through a string of 11 straight primary losses, eventually leaving her on the verge of irrelevancy in the presidential race. In many ways, the arc of her campaign resembles the arc of the country under President Bush!

Obama, on the other hand, started as an unknown junior Senator with little financial backing and few influential supporters. He built a surprisingly effective grassroots organization based on inspiring ordinary people to get involved in trying to accomplish something extraordinary. He built a network from scratch, using cutting edge technology, not only to raise funds, but to inspire the creatively and passion of his supporters to find their own ways of contributing.

One example is, a website devoted to maximizing the efficient use of campaign materials by moving them from State to State in advance of primaries.

Musicians, videographers, and bloggers contributed inspirational material that added to the formal campaign marketing effort in ways impossible to measure by the standards of any previous political race.

In a NYT column ostensibly written in support of Hillary Clinton, Gail Collins summed it all up (with my emphasis):
If Hillary is stumbling, it may be because there just isn’t any good path to take. Nobody wants a bloodbath, and fighting against the first possible African-American president can be as tricky as going after the first possible woman. Still, she might have been able to handle all that, and the fact that he is a product of Kansas and Hawaii and Kenya, of Christians and Muslims, of a single mom on food stamps and Harvard Law, if he didn’t also turn out to have the best learning curve in political history.

You don’t often see a candidate on a trajectory like Obama’s, and at some point it will inevitably head down again. But until it does, even the original Bill Clinton would have a hard time beating him.
Although she somehow confuses the concept of a "learning curve" with the behavior of a "real estate bubble," Collins captures the key to Obama’s promise in what Hillary would call the “comparison and contrast” of lifetime experience.

Obama’s lifetime of experience, although shorter than Hillary’s, reflects the upward arc exemplified by his presidential campaign, while Hillary’s now appears to reflect the downward arc exemplified by hers!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Why I Could Never Run For Public Office!

The Clinton campaign has been reduced to a parody of itself.

One of the more memorable moments of the Ohio debate (shown above) occurred after Barack Obama said he denounced statements by Louis Farrakhan, and Hillary followed by stating that "denouncing" wasn't enough, and that he should "reject" Farrakhan.

Obama turned it around masterfully by responding that he didn't see a substantial difference between "rejecting" and "denouncing," but if Hillary thinks there is, he would concede the point and both "reject" and "denounce."

In addition to making Hillary look petty and small, the exchange apparently has forced her campaign to back up the correctness of her original semantic distinction by forever using both words in tandem.

After a prominent Latino Clinton supporter made somewhat negative comments toward the Black community, the Clinton campaign issued a statement indicating that Hillary "denounces and rejects" the comments of her supporter.

Here's where I would never be able to keep to the high road, like Obama will surely continue to do.

If I were Obama, I would be irresistibly compelled to call a press conference to say that, in this situation, "rejecting" and "denouncing" are fine, but what's really called for is that Clinton formally refuse "to touch her supporter with a ten foot pole!"

I guess that means I shouldn't run for public office!

(Ten Foot) Poll:

What was the most appropriate way for Hillary to respond to her supporter's comments?

1. Denouncing!
2. Rejecting!
3. Shunning!
4. Scoffing!
5. Pooh-poohing!
6. Giving the stink eye!
7. Farting in the general direction!
8. Doesn't matter - they're just words and words are cheap!

Feel free to express your choice, or offer any alternatives, in the comments.