Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Eugene Robinson: Never Again!

Eugene Robinson has a great column, A Torture Paper Trail, in The Washington Post, where he chronicles recently discovered documents related to the Bush administrations’ weak rationalizations for torturing people in the name of the American people.

He concludes with a challenge to either man hoping to succeed George W. Bush in the White House:
A clear and urgent duty of the next president will be to investigate the Bush administration's torture policy and give Americans a full accounting of what was done in our name. It's astounding that we need some kind of truth commission in the United States of America, but we do. Only when we learn the full story of what happened will we be able to confidently promise, to ourselves and to a world that looks to this country for moral leadership: Never again.
There is also a very thoughtful and detailed analysis of the implications of Robinson’s column by Teacherken at Daily Kos that I would strongly recommend, but I want to use it as a jumping off point for something else that I’ve been thinking about a great deal in recent weeks.

The Democratic majority in Congress are repeatedly willing to dismiss impeachment, while accepting things like telecom immunity. The courts at every level have been stacked with right wing partisans, starting with torture defender, Antonin Scalia, on the Supreme Court. The Justice Department is broken and infested with Regent University Bushies who were selected for their desire to serve George W. Bush, and not their ability to prosecute crimes like those carried out during his two terms. Even Barack Obama is pushing a new culture of bipartisanship, focused on looking forward not backward in order to solve problems rather than exact punishment for creating them.

With the growing likelihood that Bush will issue blanket pardons as he leaves office, short-circuiting the formal legal discovery that might possibly bring criminal accountability, even the most fervent progressive pundits are saying that Bush will likely get away without being prosecuted for anything. They suggest that we must merely take solace in the fact that he (and most likely his party) will be out of power.

At the same time, loyal Bush apologists (and co-conspirators) are raising funds to build the George W. Bush Presidential Library, which will be staffed with phony “historians” whose sole job will be to whitewash Bush’s legacy to the point where he can be canonized, like Ronald Reagan was, by the time of his passing!

And while it’s easy to say that we won’t forget what a horrible president and despicable human being he was (and is), Bush and his small coterie of supporters know that time will pass and people will forget. There will be no formal symbol to crystallize memories of the horrors that the Bush administration unleashed in the name of the American people.

That is, unless the American people create one! Given the surprising fundraising power harnessed by the Obama campaign, it’s clear that people want to contribute to things that are meaningful to them. What if millions of people who detest the things George W. Bush has done to their country were to pool their resources and fund a foundation that would establish a George W. Bush War Crimes Memorial Museum, patterned after the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, that would serve as a central point of research and documentation of the crimes, whether punished or not, that occurred during the Bush administration?

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to say that Bush’s crimes are on a par with the holocaust. I’m just saying that if the American people are going to get a George W. Bush Presidential Library serving as a (fraudulent) symbol of Bush’s “greatness,” we should have an equally powerful symbol that helps us remember the crimes he enabled or committed during his presidency, so that we can always remember the phrase appropriately invoked by Eugene Robinson: Never Again!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Obama’s Veep?

There’s been a flurry of speculation that Virginia Governor, Tim Kaine, will be Barack Obama’s choice as his running mate against John McCain.

I’ve looked at all of the strengths being touted as making him a great choice - he’s not a Washington insider, he’s from a State Obama really wants to win, he’s Catholic, he speaks Spanish – but I think everyone is missing the most important one!

Since there are undoubtedly a significant number of confused, “low information” voters still trying to decide which presidential candidate to support, perhaps the chance to choose Obama/Kaine will sound like an opportunity to get them both!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Andrea Mitchell Must Read Left-Over!

After I called Andrea Mitchell out last week for her obviously biased reporting in favor of McCain - she came out today and actually did her job as a journalist. She reported the facts as she knew them to be and pushed back against McCain's false new add.

Now was that so hard Andrea?

This is Good!


With all the polls showing Obama getting something like 95% of the African American vote - if you are black and out of work - become a Republican. Its guaranteed employment as a right-wing talking head!

And if you're lucky................ a Supreme Court Justice or Secretary of State.

Unless you are this lady!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lies First!

Based on this latest attack ad against Barack Obama, John McCain is apparently already desperate enough about his campaign to start punching below the belt.

I’d say it’s time for the Obama campaign to strap George Bush’s policies to McCain like an anchor and throw him overboard!

How about responding with an ad that reads like this?
John McCain likes to say he’s putting the country first, but since he began running to replace George W. Bush as president, he’s either missed votes in the Senate, or voted with Bush nearly 100 percent of the time, even when it meant opposing support for our veterans, and keeping our troops in harms way without a definable plan for victory!

George Bush and John McCain put their rich lobbyist friends first, and look where it’s taken our country! It’s time we had a president who puts the American people first, and not one offering more Bush league politics!

I’m Barack Obama, and I approved this message.
Throw in a few images of homeless vets, empty foreclosed homes, Abramoff being arrested etc. and it's Game. Set. Match.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Terminator to Take 200,000 Hostages in Calif. Budget Standoff!

While Barack Obama was dazzling a crowd of 200,000 in front of the Berlin Wall; in California, Arnold Schwarzenegger was preparing to hold 200,000 state government employees hostage, by cutting their pay to subsistence level for as long as it takes for state Democrats to concede to an obstructionist Republican minority.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to sign an executive order next week that will temporarily reduce pay for more than 200,000 state workers to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 per hour to preserve cash in the midst of a month-long budget standoff, according to a draft copy of the order obtained by The (Sacramento) Bee.
Since today’s modern Republicans hate government in general, and government employees in particular, this move by Schwarzenegger can only be seen as throwing them red meat in order to fuel the obstructionist frenzy that has brought legislative gridlock to the country’s most populous state.

While the move clearly seems intended to turn up the heat on the majority Democrats to capitulate in order to relieve pressure from unions representing these workers, it could, and should, turn up the heat on California voters to follow the national trend of wanting to sweep the failed GOP out of having any political influence whatsoever!

Also posted yesterday on Daily Kos

[Update] In a related note, I had an elevator conversation with the H.R. Manager of a large state agency, and he pointed out the fact that it would be virtually impossible for the Governor to do what he is proposing, from a purely technological standpoint. California’s payroll process is extremely complicated, with individual agency systems linked to the State Controller’ systems linked to the State Treasury’s systems. At a minimum, it would probably take two to three months just to write and implement the computer programs necessary to carry out this proposal. In other words, it’s a huge bluff on the Governor’s part!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Andrea Mitchell Go Away!

Watching MSNBC “the place for politics” where Andrea Mitchell just did a live shot from the NBC London Bureau. Once again she proved what a hack reporter she is.

First of all, she has been traveling with Obama on parts of his trip I would assume - in order to give insight from a closer perspective that we can get from over here.
So what do we get today? After downplaying Obama’s “Presidential” press conference this morning with French President Sarkozy – she decides to give us a run down of how John McCain “found his voice” today and gave a blistering speech attacking Obama. She went on and on!

Did she even see McCain’s speech? He is in Denver. She is in London. Why is she reporting on McCain’s speech? Doesn't NBC have other reporters with McCain?

Then just to prove what a lame reporter she is – at the end of her glowing McCain review – David Shuster asked Andrea what was the banging he was hearing in the background – to which she responded “someone is hammering nearby.........I don’t know........I can’t tell you what they are doing”.

So, she can’t report what is going on just a few feet away but she has no trouble telling us what is happening several thousand miles away!

Great reporting as usual Andrea!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

It Only Takes a Spark . . .

As an American who spends about a month each year in Europe, I’d never have guessed that the mere thought of trading in our idiot president for an inspiring one would be enough to have Europeans waving American flags like ecstatic children!

And while I’ve never personally experienced any direct backlash, there was a point when the kids for whom we used to regularly bring gifts asked us to stop getting them clothes that were obviously made in the USA . . . because they weren’t cool anymore!

I think Barack Obama is taking care of that problem!

Images Are Everything!

While his campaign has been masterfully staging Obama's trip abroad - John McCain's handlers continue to make more gaffes than even their candidate - while trying to counter Obama's images.
The photos from the last week emphasis the drastic differences between the two.

While McCain chose to ride shotgun with Bush Sr. in Kennebunkport. Who's the elitist?

Obama was riding shotgun with Petraeus.

While McCain chose to hang with Mr. 9/11 trying to look young next to monuments of deceased baseball heros.

Obama toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem.

McCain chose the wall of dairy delights.

Obama was at the Western Wall.

And finally, while McCain chose to have a press avail in front of the Schmidts Fudge Haus. Boy, Lindsay Graham looks uncomfortable there!

Obama spoke in front of 200,000 in Berlin. Boy, Obama sure looks comfortable there!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Making McCain be Specific

If you were conducting a job interview for a very important position, and a candidate told you that, in a prior job, he had “devised and implemented a strategy that enabled his old employer to achieve victory over the competition,” would you say “Thank you” and immediately give him the job?

Or would you ask him to describe the strategy and explain how “victory” was defined and how it was achieved?

In his recent NYT op-ed, Barack Obama closed with the following:
In this campaign, there are honest differences over Iraq, and we should discuss them with the thoroughness they deserve.
Shortly thereafter, John McCain submitted a rebuttal to the NYT, claiming credit for the “surge” strategy and intimating that “victory” will eventually result if his, rather than Obama’s, approach is followed; to which the editor responded, like any thorough interviewer, by asking McCain to elaborate with specifics:
The Obama piece worked for me because it offered new information; while Senator Obama discussed Senator McCain, he also went into detail about his own plans....It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama's piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq.
Exactly! This should be the response every time McCain starts spouting vague promises about “understanding strategy,” “knowing conditions on the ground,” “knowing how to win wars,” etc.

He should be politely, but firmly, asked to elaborate with specifics! When he says “It’s complicated” or “I can get you the details later” he should get the same follow-up questions one would get in an effective job interview:

“Can you describe two ways that the surge strategy is complicated, and how you intend to overcome those complications to achieve victory?”

“Would you list a few of the specific details that you know will support your approach to achieving victory, and describe the conditions in which we will know your goals have been met?

Kudos to the NYT for expecting both candidates to discuss the war with the thoroughness it deserves! If the rest of the mainstream media insist on avoiding hard questions that require specific answers, I think Obama and his campaign surrogates need to keep asking them, day after day, until McCain answers them directly, or until voters realize that McCain is someone they wouldn’t hire to work at McDonalds, let alone to be president!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Quotes & Photos

Just a few of my favorite quotes from Netroots Nation 2008:

John Dean - “Rudy Giuliani reminds me of Richard Nixon on crystal meth”

Michael Waldman - "Firing prosecutors for their failure to find voter fraud is like firing park rangers for failing to find Sasquatch!"

Cass Sundstein – “It’s the constitution stupid - is not a great campaign slogan."

Van Jones - "Cleaning up the White House after this administration is going to be like cleaning up a barn with a straw"

Sticker Found in 6th Street Shop - "The quickest way to a woman's heart . . . is through her fucking ribcage!"

And finally, our Left-Over NRN wrap up slideshow - enjoy!
(all photos by left-over & seenos)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

At Least One Presidential Candidate Was in Austin!

In a surprise slightly less dramatic than Al Gore’s appearance, Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr also decided to show up at Netroots Nation.

I guess he figured he has better odds of picking up a few votes here than at the "competing" conservative event, the "Defending the American Dream Summit," taking place across town. Fortunately, we have this account by Dave Neiwert (who ventured over to the event and, coincidently, is part of a panel speaking in front of me as I type this) which conveniently provides a view of the sparse conservative crowd . . .

. . . to contrast to this image of the Netroots Nation crowd.

As for Barr, based on the attention he seems to be getting from the almost unanimously progressive group of attendees, I can only wonder whether Ralph Nader would get the same level of respect if he were to show up!

Somehow, I doubt it!

Saturday at Netroots Nation: Surprise Gore Visit Bails Out Pelosi!

When I first saw the convention schedule, I was a bit surprised to see that Nancy Pelosi had agreed to address the group at Netroots Nation by taking open questions. She’s always struck me as being somewhat uncomfortable, perhaps even nervous, about responding to direct challenges, and I knew there would be many from this group.

The questions were about what I expected, and essentially her answers were as well. In fact, I probably could have given her answers myself before she even started talking, as the basic default always seemed to be something like the following:
I agree that xxxx is an important issue, and so we need to elect more Democrats so that we can do something about it. Thank you for your efforts, because we need to continue this fight.
Um, how about needing to win a fight once in a while?

After about five or six versions of this answer, I could sense a growing frustration with the fact that Pelosi’s responses seemed indistinguishable from the complaints of angry bloggers, yet they were coming from the most powerful woman in the world who has the power to do something about the problems at hand!

But Pelosi had an ace in her pocket! She knew that she only had to run out the clock until halftime, when the real surprise guest, Al Gore, bounded onto the stage to thunderous applause. Gore’s presence, with his gravitas and nimble-minded ability to interact with the audience, was a sharp contrast to Pelosi’s weak sounding platitudes.

For Pelosi, the big bonus was that the focus immediately shifted from Iraq and impeachment to the environment and the climate crisis, where she has no significant conflict with the netroots crowd. Gore proceeded to renew his recent challenge to accelerate a bipartisan response to the climate crisis, and Pelosi was unwavering in her expressions of support for Gore’s plan.

Although I shared the excitement in the room about Gore’s visit, I also wanted to circle back and ask Pelosi for her views on the importance of targeting Democrats who are willing to vote with Republicans to obstruct progress on the climate crisis, war in the Middle East, civil rights, and all of the other problems about which she was so eager to join in our critique of the current state of affairs!

I’ll end with a few pics:

Apparently, someone was looking for a convenient way to test their flash against a large shiny object!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Look - What's That in the Distance?

Busy here at Netroots Nation - but had to post something regarding Bush's semantic flip flop - his new "General time horizon" in Iraq.

At first it seems like he might be considering a change of position. But then I thought about it a bit more. The horizon is something that never gets closer. The terrain of the horizon may change but it always maintains its distance. The horizon only gets closer if you believe the world is flat and you are about to fall off of the edge. I know that Bush is not too bright but I think he would agree that the world is in fact round.

Thus a more accurate statement would be that Bush is considering a framework for a new "withdrawal mirage" from Iraq. Or better yet - how about the - reaching the pot of withdrawal at the end of the Iraq rainbow - strategy!

Friday at Netroots Nation: Republican Power Grab Changed Everything!

While our Thursday observations were on the light side, Friday brought out the real meat of the convention like good Texas barbeque!

In a series of sessions in the main exhibit hall, the pervasive theme running through nearly every speaker’s contribution was how the Bush administration has perverted the entire American system of government to achieve an agenda that pre-existed Bush’s inauguration, and used tactics that are in stark opposition to the basic principles envisioned by our founders.

John Dean (left above) led off a discussion of the role of the president under the law by pointing out that the Republicans had a longstanding plan, dating back to the aftermath of the Nixon years, to seize every opportunity to move toward “monarchical” executive power.

Cass Sunstein (center above), introduced as a “short-lister” for a Supreme Court nomination under an Obama presidency, reminded us that the court is in need of “straightening the keel” back toward the left, and that the best way to keep it straight is to govern with the advice of a “team of rivals.”

Michael Waldman (right above) discussed the politicization of the justice department, with a drummed up focus on voter fraud that enabled him to uncork the quote of the day:
Firing US Attorneys for not prosecuting voter fraud is like firing park rangers for not finding Sasquatch!

This was followed in the next session, most appropriately, by a discussion with Don Siegelman (right, with Sam Seder), in which he laid out the circumstances of his false imprisonment on charges manufactured by associates of Karl Rove, and announced a new website, matching the unanimous crowd sentiment,

After lunch, Paul Krugman discussed how the mainstream media largely enabled the Republican strategies described earlier in the day, pointing out that columnists fall into two categories: the partisan conservative and the carefully even-handed (meaning they feel an obligation to criticize and praise the Bush administration in equal measure.)

In his most intriguing comment of the day, Krugman predicted both an Obama win in November, and the return of “the confrontational media” (such as we saw during the Clinton administration) “within about three months.” Since Krugman has been routinely “confrontational” to the Obama campaign throughout the primaries, I was dying to hear his view on whether he would feel compelled to provide balance by defending a new Obama administration against unreasonable attacks.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Yesterday’s Big Surprise Guest!

After hearing several vague rumors of surprise special guests at Netroots Nation, we’ve been playing a little game where we constantly look for signs that Barack Obama will show up. We entered the Austin Convention Center from the back side of the building, after going to lunch, and noticed they had a series of metal detectors set up from that entrance. Inexplicably, workers have recently fenced off the road along the front of the building for some sort of construction. Since there was virtually no security when Howard Dean climbed off the “Register For Change” bus, we could only guess that any signs of additional security would be an indication that someone much more sensitive would be arriving.

In fact, from our close vantage point to Dean’s arrival, although we could not hear his actual words, it appeared from his animated hand motions and the reactions of those even closer to him, that he might have been discussing someone really important who would be arriving later. Well, at least that’s what we thought while playing the “Obama Speculation Game.”

Here’s one example of Dean’s animated conversation:

Looking back carefully at this image, I guess we might have been half right about a special guest!

Later, as I was walking down the hallway after attending a session, I looked up and saw someone who was at least a little bit unexpected, although not in need of Obama level security.

That would be Obama Girl (Yes, the one from YouTube video fame!)

I’m guessing that she wasn’t at the convention to attend the Feminist Bloggers’ Caucus!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Howard Dean Kicks Off "Register for Change"

This morning in Austin at Netroots Nation 2008 - Howard Dean stepped off of the DNC's new bio-diesel bus to begin their 50 state "Register for Change" tour. We had a front row seat.

Here is a clip:

And some photos:

And Now, A Tune From Our Sponsor!

It was our first night in Austin, where we had traveled for the Netroots Nation bloggers convention, and Left-Over and I decided to go out and listen to some music. We ended up at The Continental Club for James McMurtry. It was a great show, with an enthusiastic audience and all that, but the best part was later when we checked in and got our official program to find that McMurtry was the one local musician who had purchased an ad as a supporter of our event!

Turns out his new album has a pretty sharp political tone, characterized by this instant classic:

[Update] On further review, this particular song is actually from his previous album. Guess I'll just have to buy both of them!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Post I Most Regret Keeping to Myself!

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You know, sometimes you write something that seems a bit speculative or perhaps wrong-headed at the time, and for whatever reason, it falls by the wayside. I have a folder where I stick such things, not wanting to trash them entirely, but willing to forget about them as I grow eager to move on to new ground. I was poking around in that folder today when I came across this one. All I can say is “Damn, I wish I’d published it 2 ½ years ago!”

If You Build It, Will They Come?
(Originally written Nov. 29 2005)

This post takes a detour from the usual political commentary and into the realm of economics and wild conspiracy theories. You know what they say about variety being the spice of life . . .
First of all, let me say that I live in Northern California – not at ground zero for high housing costs, but certainly well within the fallout zone. My observations are based on apparent trends in my local area, but I suspect they reach wider than that.

The most obvious trend that I’ve noticed in recent months is a dramatic increase in home construction. Within 10 miles of my home, there are numerous housing developments under construction. From town houses and condos, to small starter homes, to medium sized custom homes filling nearly every vacant lot that has sat idle for the 20 years that I have lived in my town.

I have to ask myself why so much building now, particularly with interest rates starting to creep upward, and most other economic indicators pointing to a downturn in home purchases? Job growth is flat, and personal income has been equally flat for years. Arguably, consumer spending for the last few years has been fueled primarily by increased debt, either through reducing home equity or use of credit cards. Furthermore, many home buyers have maxed out their debt capacity by using variable rate and/or interest-only mortgages. With the bankruptcy bill recently passed by Congress, there are probably a great many people who will be living with an oppressive level of debt for decades.

So who is left to purchase all of these new homes that are being built at such an accelerated rate? Young college graduates are struggling to find jobs that allow them to pay rent and living expenses, much less to buy homes. The current economy is not strong enough to lift a significant number of low wage workers into being feasible new home buyers. So who will be left to buy these homes?

I’ve noticed another trend that has come about during the last few years - the rapid spread of self-storage units. They are popping up like mushrooms. At first I thought these units were in demand by consumers on credit card fueled buying binges needing someplace to store their recently upgraded stuff, but now I’m not so sure.

A rapid buildup of starter homes? A decline in new home buyers? Massive debt with no safety valve among people living in large luxury homes purchased with adjustable rate mortgages? Rising interest rates? Lots of new self-storage units?

Perhaps someone is expecting a large number of owners of these luxury homes to be forced back into smaller starter homes, and they will need someplace to store their stuff.

OK, it may be a stretch, but if that’s what’s going to happen to all those new starter homes being built, the question then becomes: what’s going to happen to all those luxury houses that people are going to be forced out of? Who is going to be able to afford those houses in a sluggish economy, even if many sellers are forced by disastrous financial hardship to give them up at rock bottom prices?

Well, I’ve heard Bill Frist has some HCA capital gains to invest, and Donald Rumsfeld will be getting a large windfall from the sale of Tamiflu!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Who Would You Take With the Third Pick in Your Presidential General Election Fantasy Draft?

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I found this Pollster graph of a four way presidential race kind of funny! It definitely highlights the level of delusion that must be present in Ralph Nader and Bob Barr to think that they are even remotely relevant.

Of course, some would point out that a couple of percentage points probably made the difference in keeping George Bush close enough to steal the 2000 election from Al Gore; but this is not shaping up to be a razor thin margin, and neither Nader or Barr seem to have the ability to rally a loyal following all the way up to election day.

In other words, this far out from the actual voting, if you were to put Sanjaya Malakar among the poll choices, there would be enough jokers to keep him in the Nader/Barr range of the graph!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Based on a True (Future) Story!

Look what just moved to the top of my reading list now that my latest book order has arrived!

Of course, the idea has long been at the top of my wish list, but now famed Manson prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi, has apparently spelled out what it would take to make it happen.

I suppose Barack Obama’s new centrist persona precludes slotting Bugliosi somewhere on the list of potential Attorney General choices!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

McCain’s Economic Plan: "You Are Starting to Feel Weeeaaalthy!"

With John McCain’s chief economic advisor spouting the idea that the country is merely in a “mental recession” and that America has “become a nation of whiners,” I’m happy to see that McCain isn’t being allowed to distance himself from those comments with simple (and simplistic) spin:
Phil Gramm's comments are not representative of John McCain's views," read a campaign statement. "John McCain travels the country every day talking to Americans who are hurting, feeling pain at the pump and worrying about how they'll pay their mortgage. That's why he has a realistic plan to deliver immediate relief at the gas pump, grow our economy and put Americans back to work.
Several sources have pointed to other occasions when McCain himself talked about the country’s economic woes as being “psychological,” and it appears that McCain initially responded to Gramm’s remarks by suggesting that Gramm was merely rolling out a “comprehensive” economic plan.

McCain’s economic plan, much like his plan for Iraq, seems to consist of nothing little more than incessant repetition of a single phrase:

“The economy is strong!”

“The surge is working!”

My take is that the McCain campaign realizes they have no choice but to limit his “plans” for each critical issue facing the country to the number of words he can read from a teleprompter without botching the delivery!

Apparently, the number is four!

We Are One World!

McCain's surrogates are out in force today pushing the line - that Obama is not American enough.

Rudy Giuliani said this morning that Obama is "capturing" an "anti-American feeling" that exists in Europe, where Obama is "popular"...

And this from Mitt Romney: "I do think that, frankly, Barack Obama looks toward Europe for a lot of his inspiration" ........ "I think John McCain is going to make sure that America stays America."

Here is my response to this ridiculous argument. If you watch this clip and don't feel like we are all in this thing together - then you must be......................... Dick Cheney!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Gettin' Ready For Netroots Nation!

Although I know it isn't of particular interest to some readers here, I've included a link to a recent post at Daily Kos detailing my Austin Music Recommendations: 7/16 to 7/20.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Obama's V.P.!

With the news today of Virginia Senator Jim Web's decision to take himself out of the Democratic Vice Presidential sweepstakes - I want to get on record my take on who Obama will choose as his running mate.

First of all, I do not think that Obama will pick any of the long rumored "short list" candidates. He is far too smart for that. Obama and his aids have been masterful throughout his campaign at not being too predictable. The buzz that Obama has generated during the longest presidential campaign in U.S. history is in part due to his ability to not let the pundits guess his next move.

But since I am a blogger and not a pundit - I am going to try and predict his unpredictable V.P. pick.

I believe Obama is confident that he will ultimately beat McCain and win in November - so his choice will not be mainly aimed at gaining ground in a large "swing" state.

I also don't think that Obama has decided that he needs a military man or older foreign policy expert as his running mate. He has proven that his cabinet and team of advisers will be experienced and capable (boy is that refreshing).

So I believe his choice is going to come from someone outside the current political spotlight. It will be someone who can generate some buzz when announced, someone with a good personal story. It will be someone young who encompasses Obama's message of Hope and most of all someone who could easily be President after two successful Obama terms.

The person that I think fits that bill is - Senator Jon Tester of Montana.

You heard it here first!

*Boy it's sure easy to make bold predictions when you write a blog that only a few people read!

Here is a clip of Tester endorsing Obama on MSNBC.

And a nice Ad from his Senate campaign.

Bush's Tour of America - So True!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Go McCain (Clap, Clap) Fight . . .

. . . we’ve got spirit, but we’re not too bright!

Turns out John McCain has himself quite a cheerleader in Bob Schieffer. After his incredulous response to Wesley Clark’s poorly timed but absolutely factual comments about McCain’s qualifications to be commander-in-chief, Schieffer responded to guest John Kerry’s remarks about McCain flip-flops by sharply asking, “Are you attacking John McCain’s integrity?”

Wow! To this, I can only ask, “Isn’t it about time for Bob Schieffer to trade in his interview notes for some bingo cards?”

Friday, July 04, 2008

Did Wesley Clark Plant a Seed That Will Grow For Obama Despite Media Criticism?

After considering the flap about Wesley Clark’s comments, the media’s harsh condemnation of him, and Barack Obama’s “rejection” of the remarks, I am left wondering if the whole thing might actually work to Obama’s benefit, as the controversy subsides and memories crystallize into subconscious baggage that shapes public opinion one person at a time.

Just as the Reverend Wright controversy faded away, perhaps leaving a lasting impression for many voters that Obama is indeed a Christian and not a Muslim, we can only hope that when the dust settles on the Clark controversy, what will stick in the back of peoples’ minds is that John McCain's primary claim to national security authority "is that he got shot down!"

It’s kind of like me claiming I'm the superior choice to coach a football team because I once broke my arm playing football!

Sure, McCain’s a “military man” and I can hardly be considered a “football man,” but if the mental connection for some voters gets rewired from “McCain-Military-War Hero” to “McCain-Military-Shot Down,” that will be a significant advantage for Obama!

The audacity of hope? I’d like to think so! But then again, perhaps it’s just me calling an empty glass half full!

[Update] OK, It’s not just me. Rachel Maddow just said essentially the same thing!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Just Answer the F**king Question!

You’ve got to hand it to Christopher Hitchins; He may be a bloated, arrogant, windbag, but he’s willing to put his lungs where his mouth is!

In his article, “Believe Me, It’s Torture,” Hitchins recounts the experience of being waterboarded, as he volunteered to undergo for Vanity Fair. You can actually watch the video at this link. It’s quite disturbing (aside from the fact that it’s the insufferable Hitchins on the table!)

It’s even more disturbing when you consider that the technique was developed by the Chinese not to reveal critical true information but to elicit confessions, whether true or false.

Knowing the history of waterboarding, I can only wonder what Hitchins would have blurted out if, instead of being able to stop the exercise whenever he decided he could take no more (which happened after 17 seconds, and what looks like only a few tablespoons of water), he knew the only way to get it to stop was to respond to a forceful request to “name three great things about God!”

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Can a "Good Democrat" Still Criticize Obama?

Let me state right at the outset that I didn't choose to write this post because I have the answer to this question.

In fact, I'm really struggling with it, particularly after considering the whole Keith Olbermann vs Glenn Greenwald debate (in which the two staked out opposite positions on Obama's willingness to support a compromise FISA bill that would immunize the telecoms from civil lawsuits, but not criminal prosecution).

I won't get into the specific details, beyond pointing out the critical points that I find most compelling about each side of the argument.

For Olbermann's part, I think Obama has demonstrated time and time again that he has superb political instincts, and should be (largely) trusted to know what he needs to do to defeat John McCain and put himself in the position to start changing the direction of the country.

On the other hand, Greenwald makes an excellent point that civil liability is the one thing Bush can't pardon as he leaves office, so it’s not an insignificant "throw away" to be traded for a better opportunity to restore accountability.

I will vote for Obama over McCain, even if I disagree with some of Obama’s positions! So should I bite my tongue (and swallow my pen) out of concern that dissention on the left will embolden the Republicans? Or, as one of the million and a half people who have donated to Obama’s campaign (seven times, counting merchandise purchases), should I make clear the positions on critical issues that will keep me inspired enough to donate again?

Like I said, I’m torn. However, Arianna Huffington isn’t, as she comments on Obama’s seeming lurch to the political center:
The Obama brand has always been about inspiration, a new kind of politics, the audacity of hope, and "change we can believe in." I like that brand. More importantly, voters -- especially unlikely voters -- like that brand.

Pulling it off the shelf and replacing it with a political product geared to pleasing America's vacillating swing voters -- the ones who will be most susceptible to the fear-mongering avalanche that has already begun -- would be a fatal blunder
The whole article is worth reading, although I personally could not have written it (and not just because Arianna “runs rings around me, logically!”) I’m more inclined right now to “keep it in-house,” which is why I’ve signed up for the Obama supporters’ group formed through Obama’s own website to express to him our position against the compromise FISA bill.