Saturday, August 30, 2008

Pre-Emptive Police Raids Target Potential Protesters in Minneapolis

The heavy-handed tactics of the police during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City will pale in comparison to what will go down in Minneapolis if the massive raids conducted over the weekend are any indication.

Salon's Glenn Greenwald:

Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.

There is clearly an intent on the part of law enforcement authorities here to engage in extreme and highly intimidating raids against those who are planning to protest the Convention. The DNC in Denver was the site of several quite ugly incidents where law enforcement acted on behalf of Democratic Party officials and the corporate elite that funded the Convention to keep the media and protesters from doing anything remotely off-script. But the massive and plainly excessive preemptive police raids in Minnesota are of a different order altogether. Targeting people with automatic-weapons-carrying SWAT teams and mass raids in their homes, who are suspected of nothing more than planning dissident political protests at a political convention and who have engaged in no illegal activity whatsoever, is about as redolent of the worst tactics of a police state as can be imagined.

One more reason to throw these bums out of Washington.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Yes, He Can: DNC Day 4

Last night in Denver, before a crowd of 80,000 supporters, Sen. Barack Obama formally accepted the nomination of the Democratic party as their candidate for President of the United States, on the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's historic "I Have A Dream" speech in Washington. And what a speech it was...

Gore Makes Climate Crisis and McCain Bashing Funny

Former VP Al Gore, from his speech at the DNC on Thursday:

"John McCain, a man who has earned our respect on many levels, is now openly endorsing the policies of the Bush-Cheney White House and promising to actually continue them, the same policies all over again?

Hey, I believe in recycling, but that’s ridiculous."

Swish!

McCain Picks Palin as Running Mate

Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska has been chosen as Sen. McCain's running mate. Palin is an interesting choice because she brings numerous pros and cons to the table: immensely popular governor of a state with little or no political leverage, election-wise; her youth, short time serving as governor, and zero foreign policy experience is a big disadvantage in that it undercuts the McCain camp's charges of inexperience against Obama (not to mention how Joe Biden will likely cream her in the VP debate). But is smacks of desperation to me. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-Illinois), respectively agree.

"After the great success of the Democratic convention, the choice of Sarah Palin is surely a Hail Mary pass. It is a real roll of the dice and shows how John McCain, Karl Rove et al realize what a strong position the Obama-Biden team and Democrats in general are in in this election. Certainly the choice of Palin puts to rest any argument about inexperience on the Democratic team and while Palin is a fine person, her lack of experience makes the thought of her assuming the presidency troubling. I particularly look forward to the Biden-Palin debate in Missouri." - Schumer

"Is this really who the Republican Party wants to be one heartbeat away from the Presidency? Given Sarah Palin's lack of experience on every front and on nearly every issue, this Vice Presidential pick doesn't show judgment: it shows political panic." - Emanuel

Some also view her as possibly McCain's Dan Quayle, ie an embarrassment. We're not there yet.

Palin has also disagreed with her new running mate in the past on a variety of issues, examples among them are her support for both drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and state benefits for same-sex couples. As an accomplished woman, however, she is the bait McCain is dangling out for PUMAs and undecided and/or independent women, which is why her choice seems like one made out of panic and is sure to privately confound a huge chunk of the GOP. Not to mention how condescending a gesture towards disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters this selection ultimately is.

Politics, like various aspects of modern life, is weighed heavily on the side of perception. With this particular choice of a VP candidate the McCain camp is tacitly admitting this is the Dems' election to lose. Sure, the numerous blunders and widespread unpopularity of the current administration should be a indicator of this, yet the race is tight. McCain and the GOP are hedging their bets.

Let the games begin.

Georgia Crisis Was to Benefit US Candidate Says Putin

Reuters:

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he suspected unnamed persons in the United States had provoked the conflict in Georgia in an attempt to help a candidate in the U.S. presidential election.

Hmm...this sounds fishy to me.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Carnivores Welcome: DNC Day 3

With powerful, clear cut, unambiguous indictments of John McCain and the Bush administration in every aspect of their policies and judgement calls, and ringing endorsements of the presidential nominee, Sen. John Kerry, (former) Pres. Bill Clinton, Delaware senator and VP nominee Joe Biden gave the Democratic faithful on Wednesday night, a taste of what Arianna Huffington called "a heaping...serving of the red meat that has been sorely missing from the convention menu this week." Damn straight.

While the above Huffington quote is specific to her take on Biden's time on the podium--which I wholeheartedly agree with--it was the former president's speech that got to me on a personal level. Despite my qualms about Bill Clinton, past and present, his presence on the podium last night, within the context of our current reality, took me on a nostalgic ride: a reminder of a decade when my country was powerful, respected, righteous and prosperous.




Sen. Joe Biden accepts the VP nomination: "McCain was wrong and Obama was right."



Sen. John Kerry: "Democrats will not be 'swiftboated' this time."



"To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick instead of the reality of a politician, I say let’s compare Senator McCain to Candidate McCain.

Candidate McCain now supports the very wartime tax cuts that Senator McCain once called irresponsible. Candidate McCain criticizes Senator McCain’s own climate change bill. Candidate McCain says he would vote against the immigration bill that Senator McCain wrote.

Are you kidding me, folks?

Before he ever debates Barack Obama, he should finish the debate with himself.”

Chris Matthews Slays the PUMAs

Shame on you, Chris. That wasn't a fair fight: those women are morons.

Grandpa Simpson Does Prickly Interview with Time

Actually, it was Sen. John McCain who spoke to the news magazine and not The Simpsons' often cranky, befuddled patriarch. But you'd never know it from this exchange.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hillary Clinton Comes Through for Democratic Party Unity

The naysayers will pick out what her speech allegedly lacked, debatable points these, at best. And what's left of the PUMA lot will go on their miserable way. But Sen. Clinton came through when it mattered and threw out some tasty red meat to the faithful:

"No way. No how. No McCain."

"Barack Obama is my candidate. And he must be our President."

"We don't need 4 more years of the last 8 years."

"...it makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities. Because these days they're awfully hard to tell apart."

Other DNC Highlights: Day 2

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio):
"Wake up, America. The speculators took over Wall Street.

Wake up, America. They want to take your Social Security.


Wake up, America. Multinational corporations took over our trade policies, factories are closing, good paying jobs lost.


Wake up, America. We went into Iraq for oil. The oil companies want more. War against Iran will mean $10 a gallon gasoline. The oil administration wants to drill more, into your wallet. Wake up, America.


This is not a call for you to take new direction from right to left. This is a call for you to go from down to up. Up with the rights of workers. Up with wages. Up with fair trade ... Wake up, America. Wake up, America. Wake up, America
.”

Sen. Bob Carey Jr. (D-Pennsylvania):
"John McCain calls himself a maverick, but he votes with George Bush 90 percent of the time. That's not a maverick. That's a sidekick."

"The Bush-McCain Republicans inherited the strongest economy in history and drove it into a ditch. They cut taxes on the wealthiest of us and passed on the pain to the least of us. They ran up the debt, gave huge subsidies to big oil companies, and now they're asking for four more years. How 'bout four more months? We can't afford four more years of deficit and debt, drift and desperation. Not four more years. Four more months."

Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-Montana):

"Even leaders in the oil industry know that Senator McCain has it wrong. We simply can't drill our way to energy independence, even if you drilled in all of John McCain's backyards, including the ones he can't even remember. "

Paul Begala must be quite happy.

"Attack, attack, attack, attack, attack, attack."

Democratic strategist and former Sen. Clinton supporter Paul Begala wrote in the Huffington Post Tuesday morning about how his party's speakers at the DNC need to go on the offensive and "show McCain to be the Bush clone that he is".

Touching upon party unity and how he himself immediately joined the Obama ranks once the Illinois senator became the Democratic nominee, Begala warns that without a combined "all-out assault on the ruinous Bush-McCain policies", the Dems will lose come November.

"I was for Hillary in the primaries, but when she endorsed Sen. Obama, I proudly sent him a check for the legal maximum. On the memo line of the check I wrote, 'FOR NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNING ONLY.' No matter what minor difference Hillary and Barack had, they pale in comparison to the corruption, incompetence, dishonesty and criminality of the Bush-McCain Republicans."

Amen, brother.

Katrina, The Pain Index

from Counterpunch:

Katrina, the Pain Index
By BILL QUIGLEY


0. Number of renters in Louisiana who have received financial assistance from the $10 billion federal post-Katrina rebuilding program Road Home Community Development Block Grant – compared to 116,708 homeowners.

0. Number of apartments currently being built to replace the 963 public housing apartments formerly occupied and now demolished at the St. Bernard Housing Development.

0. Amount of data available to evaluate performance of publicly financed privately run charter schools in New Orleans in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 school years.

.008. Percentage of the rental homes that were supposed to be repaired and occupied by August 2008 which were actually completed and occupied – a total of 82 finished out of 10,000 projected.

1. Rank of New Orleans among U.S. cities in percentage of housing vacant or ruined.

1. Rank of New Orleans among U.S. cities in murders per capita for 2006 and 2007.

4. Number of the 13 City of New Orleans Planning Districts that are at the same risk of flooding as they were before Katrina.

10. Number of apartments being rehabbed so far to replace the 896 apartments formerly occupied and now demolished at the Lafitte Housing Development.

11. Percent of families who have returned to live in Lower Ninth Ward.

17. Percentage increase in wages in the hotel and food industry since before Katrina.

20-25. Years that experts estimate it will take to rebuild the City of New Orleans at current pace.

25. Percent fewer hospitals in metro New Orleans than before Katrina.

32. Percent of the city’s neighborhoods that have fewer than half as many households as they did before Katrina.

36. Percent fewer tons of cargo that move through Port of New Orleans since Katrina.

38. Percent fewer hospital beds in New Orleans since Katrina.

40. Percentage fewer special education students attending publicly funded privately run charter schools than traditional public schools.

41. Number of publicly funded privately run public charter schools in New Orleans out of total of 79 public schools in the city.

43. Percentage of child care available in New Orleans compared to before Katrina.

46. Percentage increase in rents in New Orleans since Katrina.

56. Percentage fewer inpatient psychiatric beds than before Katrina.

80. Percentage fewer public transportation buses now than pre-Katrina.

81. Percentage of homeowners in New Orleans who received insufficient funds to cover the complete costs to repair their homes.

300. Number of National Guard troops still in City of New Orleans.

1080. Days National Guard troops have remained in City of New Orleans.

1250. Number of publicly financed vouchers for children to attend private schools in New Orleans in program’s first year.

6,982. Number of families still living in FEMA trailers in metro New Orleans area.

8,000. Fewer publicly assisted rental apartments planned for New Orleans by federal government.

10,000. Houses demolished in New Orleans since Katrina.

12,000. Number of homeless in New Orleans even after camps of people living under the bridge has been resettled - double the pre-Katrina number.

14,000. Number of displaced families in New Orleans area whose hurricane rental assistance expires March 2009.

32,000. Number of children who have not returned to public school in New Orleans, leaving the public school population less than half what is was pre-Katrina.

39,000. Number of Louisiana homeowners who have applied for federal assistance in repair and rebuilding who have still not received any money.

45,000. Fewer children enrolled in Medicaid public healthcare in New Orleans than pre-Katrina.

46,000. Fewer African American voters in New Orleans in 2007 gubernatorial election than 2003 gubernatorial election.

55,000. Fewer houses receiving mail than before Katrina.

62,000. Fewer people in New Orleans enrolled in Medicaid public healthcare than pre-Katrina.

71,657. Vacant, ruined, unoccupied houses in New Orleans today.

124,000. Fewer people working in metropolitan New Orleans than pre-Katrina.

132,000. Fewer people in New Orleans than before Katrina, according to the City of New Orleans current population estimate of 321,000 in New Orleans.

214,000. Fewer people in New Orleans than before Katrina, according to the U.S. Census Bureau current population estimate of 239,000 in New Orleans.

453,726. Population of New Orleans before Katrina.

320 million. The number trees destroyed in Louisiana and Mississippi by Katrina.

368 million. Dollar losses of five major metro New Orleans hospitals from Katrina through 2007. In 2008, these hospitals expect another $103 million in losses.

1.9 billion. FEMA dollars scheduled to be available to metro New Orleans for Katrina damages that have not yet been delivered.

2.6 billion. FEMA dollars scheduled to be available to State of Louisiana for Katrina damages that have not yet been delivered.

Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"How About Michelle Obama?"

The future First Lady--keepin' my fingers crossed--gave one hell of a speech last night. Damn--smart, beautiful and a top notch orator. Obama, you lucky bastard!

The Old Lion Roars

The ailing Sen. Ted Kennedy--against the wishes of physician and family--was at the DNC last night in Denver and provided the first fireworks of the evening with a rallying cry that stirred those present and left very few dry eyes in the house.

“…Nothing - nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight! I have come here tonight to stand with you to change America, to restore it’s future, to rise to our best ideals and to elect Barack Obama President of the United States. As I look ahead I am strengthened by family and friendship. So many of you have been with me in the happiest days and the hardest days. Together we have known success and seen setbacks, victory and defeat, but we have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world. And I pledge to you that I will be there next January on the floor of the United States Senate…”

Why is McAuliffe Still Campaigning?

WTF? Talk about a sore loser: this dude is ridiculous.

Sure, former Hillary Clinton campaign charman Terry McAuliffe plays nice with the national media--albeit always letting off a whiff of being PUMA's mainstream spokesperson--but when he spoke to local cabel news channel NY1 on the first day of the DNC, he went off on the Obama campaign, telling them to "quit talking about the Clintons and move on. It's not gonna be their fault..." if Obama loses this election. Yeah, this one's all about party unity. Asshole.

Oh, and regardless of the outcome of this election, PUMAs have got to go. Period. Out. Now.

Um, Superman? Can You Stick Around?

Obama assassination plot uncovered.

Word of the People

Over at Word of the People, our boy Teethwriter's take on Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention is most certainly worth a read. And check out NPR's Juan Williams' moving response to Michelle Obama's speech on Fox.

Monday, August 25, 2008

One More Reason Why I Hate Reggaetón

AP:

[Sen. John] McCain, who turns 72 on Friday, got a generational boost from Daddy Yankee, a Puerto Rican star of reggaeton, a mix of reggae, rap and Latin music styles. Students squealed with delight as Yankee appeared and endorsed McCain.

"I believe in his ideals and his proposals," Yankee said. "He's been a fighter for the Hispanic community. He's been a fighter for the immigration issue."

Good grief. Not so much anymore on that last one, DY. As for the former, um really? Like LL said in "Going Back to Cali": nah man, I don't think so...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sen. Credit Card Gets the Nod

Yes, Obama's VP will be Delaware senator Joe Biden.

Sorry, Superman.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Political Caption of the Year

Sen. Obama picks a running mate (courtesy of Xmastime):


"Hey listen, if I'm going to be the first black president ever, let's be honest...I'm gonna need someone who can catch bullets."

POW: The New ‘9/11’

Sadly, the McCain camp has fallen into the undignified trap of using the candidate’s lone, undeniable accomplishment in public life—he’s a had a few others but you lose those brownie points if you later flip-flop and renounce your previous positions—and milking it for cheap political points. Is his buddy Giuliani advising the campaign?

About the 'how many houses?' gaffe:
"This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison," says his campaign.

Or when Elizabeth Edwards criticized his healthcare plan:
[McCain] knew what it was like to get inadequate care "from another government," the campaign retorts.

Simply disgusting.


And the flacks are already on message:

McCain Gets Out His Mitt

Time magazine is announcing former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney as Sen. John McCain's running mate.

Hey, It's a Start







[h/t Word of the People and The Daily Dish]

Russia Never Wanted a War

Interesting New York Times Op-Ed piece by none other than Mikhail Gorbachev.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Differences Between Us

"[W]e now know that John McCain wears $520 shoes, owns an obscene number of homes (variously placed at seven to 10) and has probably never written a check to a utility company or a home contractor or a dentist in at least 26 years (since he married La Hensley). And Saturday we learned that he thinks someone with a net worth of only $4.9 million is not rich. He can be painted as – and indeed is – out of touch with what regular Americans go through every day.

If he were the Democrat, everyone in America would know the above. The Republicans would have run ads featuring those Ferragamo loafers and aerial photographs of the seven, eight, nine or 10 houses. For good measure, the script of these ads would have cleverly made sure that viewers knew that this emasculated sissy-man didn't earn a penny of the fortune that purchased all this. He married it!

Can't do that to McCain because he's a war hero? Nonsense. It was done to John Kerry. He was a war hero. In fact, Kerry, we can safely assume based on the things I've read, killed more men in a face-to-face way than McCain ever did. That's arguably more manly than even surviving five years' torture. It can be done to anyone."

- Michael Tomasky's blog at The Guardian [h/t Unconquerable Gladness]

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

5 Tips to Heaven (apologies to Miles Davis)

I’m convinced a significant segment of the voting public might align themselves with the Dems if they felt the party had the balls to stand up to a GOP whose administration lied us into war; drafted a secret energy plan without oversight; outed a covert CIA agent; fired Attorney Generals that failed to enforce partisan prosecution; and then refuses to comply to congressional subpoenas, all without any consequence for their actions. You wouldn’t have much faith in them either, right? That’s why Sen. Obama and his campaign need to take a page from the Bill Clinton handbook—but not use the man himself, for the love of God; he’s damaged goods these days—drag John McCain into the quicksand and bury his candidacy right there. (The GOP don’t hate Slick Willie ‘cause he can pick up chicks, but because he knows how to beat them at their own game.)

Michael Moore's got his list of six ways for the Dems to blow the election; I've got 5 to help 'em win. Nothing new under the sun, here. (You may even have some better ones.) Just some points that need to be hammered home on a daily, intensive basis by the Obama camp and the DNC in order to have a real fighting chance in November.

Here they are:

1. When it comes to putting up a finger to see where the wind of polls and public opinion blows, John McCain is flakier than Mitt Romney’s dandruff. Document every significant change in position—a.k.a. “flip-flop”—he’s made on every issue of importance to the voters: abortion, torture, the economy, MLK's b'day, etc etc etc and back ‘em into a corner on each one, making a point of showing how they are signs of his weakness and lack of solid judgement. (Not to mention hiring the same team that viciously smeared him in 2000 to head his campaign in 2008.)

2. It never hurts to remind the voters REPEATEDLY that McCain is the candidate endorsed by the worst/least popular president in history. And how McCain’s policies mirror or exceed W’s.

3. Drill into the voters the idea that a man who has admitted knowing very little about the economy; wants to keep their children fighting in Iraq for 100 years (yet routinely confuses Shia and Sunni); and despite his claims to the contrary, has no real foreign policy experience—making trips to foreign countries don’t count; if it did, the average American backpacker through Europe could be Secretary of State—is the wrong choice for president. And that the last time we elected a similar candidate we got 8 years of W, marked by an unnecessary war, soaring gas prices, rampant foreclosures, a wounded dollar, record tax breaks for the rich and 48 million people STILL without healthcare. Lt. McCain may have been a war hero, but Sen. McCain has been a bust and will be even worse as president.

4. The
1980s Savings & Loan Crisis/Scandal was the Enron/sub-prime mortgage fiasco of its day, which makes it very relevant now. And John McCain was smack-dab in the middle of it. Gather up the details and let him try to explain his involvement in “The Keating 5” and those subsequent accusations of corruption. Make him sweat. Use this as a starting point for all those instances where he failed miserably to put country before party and self-interest.

5. Republicans loooove to preach family values but fail to live up to even their basic definition of them. So, how well will it sit with voters to pointedly remind ‘em that McCain left the mother of his children—who stood by him while he was a POW—for a
24 year-old, flithy-rich, rodeo queen, when he came back from Vietnam and found his wife to have lost her looks due to an accident? There’s gotta be a lot of decent, GOP-leaning people who have a big problem with that. (Not to mention PLENTY of jilted women. Hey, every little bit helps.) Remind those unrepentant Hillary Clinton supporters—who are mostly of the "first wife" demographic—of this nugget on a daily basis. It's gotta hit close to home.


I wish we could engage the American people on a more substantive, common sense level, but the majority seem to fall for cheap code words like "evildoers" and "activist judges", as well as empty phrases like "fight 'em over there, so we don't have to fight 'em over here", so this is the hand of ignorance we've been dealt. Roll up your sleeves, Obama. You're about to really see how the hot dogs are made.

Riddle Me this, Batman: (actually, ask 'The Penguin')

So, if we are to use Dick Cheney’s definition of torture, then John McCain wasn’t tortured as a POW, right?

Discuss.

Russia Threatens Attack on Poland; Condi Looks at Calendar

The signing of the US-Poland missile defense hosting deal has pissed of Russia, who claim the hosting of missiles some 100 miles off their westernmost border threatens their sovereignty and might lead them to attack the former Soviet satellite.

What does the US have to say?

"When you threaten Poland, you perhaps forget that it is not 1988. It's 2008 and the United States has a...firm treaty guarantee to defend Poland's territory as if it was the territory of the United States. So it's probably not wise to throw these threats around," says Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, who signed the deal.


She’s right: it's not 1988. Back then we had the power to do something. Now, on the other hand…

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

'Shallow, Simplistic, and Trite'

One of the few reasons to watch CNN is Jack Cafferty and his extremely low tolerance for nonsense. In his Op-Ed piece Is McCain Another George W. Bush? he lays out quite a few points that underscore the truly lightweight candidacy of the Arizona senator. He's called to task for lacking intellectual curiosity; for giving answers that were "shallow, simplistic, and trite" at this past weekend's Rick Warren-sponsored Q&A; and despite having reached the age of 71, for seemingly having very little in the way of insight for someone who's lived a long and eventful life.

But Cafferty pulls out all the stops in his final paragraphs:

"I am sick and tired of the president of the United States embarrassing me. The world we live in is too complex to entrust it to someone else whose idea of intellectual curiosity and grasp of foreign policy issues is to tell us he can look into Vladimir Putin's eyes and see into his soul.

George Bush's record as a student, military man, businessman and leader of the free world is one of constant failure. And the part that troubles me most is he seems content with himself.

He will leave office with the country $10 trillion in debt, fighting two wars, our international reputation in shambles, our government cloaked in secrecy and suspicion that his entire presidency has been a litany of broken laws and promises, our citizens' faith in our own country ripped to shreds. Yet Bush goes bumbling along, grinning and spewing moronic one-liners, as though nobody understands what a colossal failure he has been.

I fear to the depth of my being that John McCain is just like him."

Bravo, Mr. Cafferty. However, the problem is that if we were not a nation plagued with simpletons, brainwashed to think that intellect and knowledge is effette, elitist, and practically un-American, we would not be in this mess. W and McCain give those basic, one-dimensional answers because they know they work. A vast chunk of the American people do not care for the truth; they want to be told what they want to hear. I don't think it can be called pandering if these people want to be pandered to. God help us.

Obama Ambushed by Pastor Warren (UPDATE)

It turns out that Sen. McCain was not only nowhere near the so-called soundproof "cone of silence", he wasn't even at the event when it began at 8 PM and Rick Warren made his statement to the contrary.

CNN:
"At the beginning of the forum at California megachurch, Warren told the crowd and TV audience, 'I'm going to ask identical questions to each of these candidates, so you can compare apples to apples. Now, Senator Obama is going to go first. We flipped a coin, and we have safely placed Senator McCain in a cone of silence.'

But at 8 p.m. ET, as Warren said that, McCain was actually not in the building. He was just leaving his hotel, with his motorcade arriving at the church nearly a half hour into the event. A. Larry Ross, a spokesman for Warren, says McCain then went directly into the holding room they dubbed the “cone of silence” (in reality, a room with no TV or audio)."

A right-wing hatchet job. What a surprise!

Oh, and what does Warren have to say about all this? That while, yes, McCain wasn't where he said he was, critics are attacking the integrity of the Secret Service. WTF?!!

Bill, SHUT THE FUCK UP!

This is what Michael Moore is talking about, people.

I'm starting to get that sinking feeling...the one that tells me we're gonna be saying the words 'President McCain' for the next 4 years.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Obama Was Indeed Ambushed by Pastor Warren

I had a funny feeling about this past Saturday's discussion/Q&A at pastor Rick Warren's Saddleback Megachurch. And guess what? I was right: despite promising to ask the same questions of both presidential candidates, Warren tweaked them slightly to give McCain the edge. Fuck! I knew it. You can't trust these people.

Crooks and Liars has the story.

Has the Bear Been Awakened?


[Illustration: Sanjai Bhana]

Some pundits believe that the crisis in Georgia could prove to be a serious liability for Sen. John McCain with voters during the homestretch of this presidential campaign. It shines a light on how the War in Iraq has failed us on various levels; how a McCain presidency would follow in the same disappointing diplomatic path of the current administration; and McCain's close ties to lobbyists would be hit with a double whammy in the form of his chief foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann, who not only was a big cheerleader for the war in Iraq but who was also also, until recently, a paid lobbyist for the government of Georgia.

Yes, I agree in theory; looks good on paper. But anyone that already agrees with McCain does not see this as a liability but further proof that we need to be out there "kicking butt." If these people were to think rationally and see how being bogged down for 5 years in a Third World country, in a fictitious war, has weakened us financially, militarily and politically, and thus our blustery pronouncements are really just empty threats, they wouldn't be McCain supporters, now, would they?

Meanwhile, I've been thinking...was the timing of the Georgia situation part of some Russian strategy to test the US? In other words, unhappy about their place in the post-Cold War era, did they wait to make a move when their biggest possible opponent would be noticeably hampered and at its lowest moral stature on the international stage? Hmm...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Obama to Gen. Clark: Thanks, But No Thanks

Gen. Wesley Clark has not been invited to the Democratic National Convention. Yes, you read right.

According to the Huffington Post, "
General Wesley Clark's office [says] he has not been asked to play a role at the Democratic National Convention. [He] has been given no role of any kind at the convention [and] was informed by Barack Obama's people that there was no reason [for him] to come." This despite the fact that one of the convention's themes is "Securing America" and the good general, having been highly decorated and served as, oh, I dunno, Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO makes him uniquely qualified to be a strong presence at the event. But no.

What the fuck is this shit? Not cool. Cowardly, lame and foolish is what it is. How do you exclude a respected, stand-up, military man, and one-time
HRC supporter, who because of all of these things can score you major points with various constituencies? What a critical faux pas! What's next? "Going positive" at the convention, like they did in 2004. Grrrr.

And while we're on the subject of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory...

Michael Moore Lists Ways for Dems to Lose

Our favorite rabble rousing documentarian lays out 6 easy steps for Obama to lose to McCain. The sad thing is that some of these they are already doing. Good grief.

Megachurch Forum: Was it Worth it for Obama?

Evangelical pastor/author Rick Warren invited both presidential candidates to a live one-on-one discussion/Q&A at his megachurch, Saturday night. Gotta admit, I felt like this was a bit of an ambush for Sen. Obama--the fact that he went first and McCain turned out not to be in the promised soundproof "cone of silence" during Obama's appearance did not alleviate my doubts in this regard--but by all accounts the Illinois senator was warmly recieved.

The Republican nominee, as was expected, was a big hit in this setting, peppering his non-gray area answers with numerous anecdotes. (I'm starting to think the media, when describing Obama's answers in this forum, is using "nuanced" as an epithet; a euphemism for "get to the applause line, already.") But it was pandering full-on to the conservative crowd as far as McSame was concerned, telling them exactly what they wanted to hear, which is frequently at odds with both his previous positions and the truth.

One thing that stuck with me was McCain's pat but crowd-pleasing answer to Warren's question "Does evil exist?" After later watching a piece on 60 Minutes detailing the horror of Congolese women brutally and systematically raped and murdered by so-called "soldiers" in that country's ongoing internal conflict--nothing civil about this particular war--it really sunk in how glib and condescending the Arizona senator's answer on the subject really was.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fired Up, Ready to Go (but...)

We’ve brought up this point in almost every single conversation with many a politically-inclined friend, but it’s the first time we’ve seen it in print or online. John Heilemann writes in the current New York magazine:
In a year when more than 80 percent of voters think the country is on the wrong track, when Democratic registration is surging and the Republican brand is in the crapper, when McCain is on the wrong side of the public on the war and the economy, his senior moments occurring with staggering regularity—in a year like this, why is the race so close? Why isn’t Obama creaming his rival? Why is he, at best, just a few points ahead, and stubbornly stalled below 50 percent in every national poll?

Obama…isn’t having trouble with African-American voters or Hispanic voters or young voters. Where he’s lagging is among white voters, and with older ones in particular. Call me crazy, but isn’t it possible, just possible, that Obama’s lead is being inhibited by the fact that he is, you know, black? “Of course it is,” says [a] prominent Republican operative. “It’s the thing that nobody wants to talk about, but it’s obviously a huge factor.”

It’s gotta make you wonder…

Meanwhile, if you think the Clintons aren’t taking notes and ready to push their 'See, he’s unelectable' premise, you are so wrong. Maureen Dowd in yesterday’s New York Times:
Hillary’s orchestrating a play within the play in Denver. Just as Hamlet used the device to show that his stepfather murdered his father, Hillary will try to show the Democrats they chose the wrong savior.

Her former aide Howard Wolfson fanned the divisive flames Monday on
ABC News, arguing that Hillary would have beaten Obama in Iowa and become the nominee if John Edwards’s affair had come out last year —an assertion contradicted by a University of Iowa survey showing that far more Edwards supporters had Obama as their second choice.

Hillary feels no guilt about encouraging her supporters to mess up Obama’s big moment, thus undermining his odds of beating John McCain and improving her odds of being the nominee in 2012.

She’s obviously relishing Hillaryworld’s plans to have multiple rallies in Denver, to take out TV and print ads and to hold up signs in the hall that read “Denounce Nobama’s Coronation.” In a video of a closed California fund-raiser on July 31 that surfaced on
YouTube, Hillary was clearly receptive to having her name put in nomination and a roll-call vote.
By the way, Wolfson has joined Fox News as a political talking head, so HRC's professed love for the Nuisance Channel wasn't just talk, it seems. And yes, her supporters are quitetly but decisively preparing for what they percieve as a clear and unequivocal upset. (So much for party unity.) These are some of the choice gems found in recent newsletters being sent out by Clinton supporters:
While I personally grieve for Elizabeth Edwards, that does not change my opinion that she owes Hillary, big, [?!] and could still redeem Edwards' perfidy by endorsing Hillary and urging John's supporters to back Hillary at the convention.

Only the frightened, frantic leaders of the DNC and die-hard supporters of BO and Chicago politics can still believe that BO should be nominated in Denver. With the total corruption of the process, from the caucus fraud to the bizarre endorsement by John Edwards, something is very roten
[sic]
in the land of the DNC and Obamaland.

Pledged (elected) delegates, At-Large delegates and Super Delegates, please sign the historic petition to nominate Senator Clinton in Denver. Write to…
@yahoo.com for your petition form and instructions. GO GO GO!!!
Nice, huh? And then there’s the unholy trinity that no one wants to wants to bring up, except the hardcore Clintonites, who are very clear as to its significance with like-minded Democrats:
1. Senator Clinton has only suspended her campaign. She has not conceded and never offered a statement of concession which is traditional when someone is no longer a candidate. She did not officially end her candidacy which she could have chosen to do. She is still technically a candidate.

2. Senator Clinton has not released her delegates. Releasing or asking her delegates to support Senator Obama is also something she could have done. She has not. All of Senator Clinton's delegates won during the primary season are still committed to her and can cast their votes for her at the convention as long as her name is on the ballot.

3. Super delegates public declarations do not count. They can change their minds (as some did during the primary). They are not committed to any of their public declarations. Nothing counts until they cast their votes in Denver on August 27th.
Maybe I’m being naïve, but I think much of this would be swiftly put to bed if Obama and his campaign were coming across as forcefully as they should be. Readers of this humble blog are probably tired of me seemingly repeating myself endlessly on this point. Fine. Here’s what an actual political operative had to say about it, Chris Kofinis, former communications director for the John Edwards campaign, on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown earlier this week [Emphasis mine]:

"Listen, the McCain campaign…not only have changed their position not to question the patriotism of Senator Obama or any candidate, but they‘ve chosen to go down this road whether judging or critiquing Senator Obama‘s supposed not American enough.

I mean, this is a very dangerous line of attack…And, I think, what you‘re going to see from the Obama campaign, at least my advice to them is to hit back and hit back ferociously. I mean, this is unacceptable, I think, in any political race and it really, I think, shows a desperation…The blowback, in my perspective, should be fierce and pretty strong. It‘s unacceptable
.”

We can only hope they heed this advice. (Um, wait—they didn’t.) Before it’s too late.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Way of the Press

So, journalist Ron Suskind makes the blockbuster revelation in his new book, The Way of the World, that the Bush administration had a letter forged to justify invading Iraq. A huge deal. But what is the press focusing on? John Edwards and the scandal surrounding his mistress. And Congress? Looking for a smoking gun? Oh, wait...

If it weren't for all the needlessly dead and wounded, this could be one big joke. Far from it. Once again, the media shows it's true colors and the Democrats their lack of spine.

Just pathetic.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Quote of the Year (runner up)


"Not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime."

- Attorney General Michael Mukasey confirming there will be no criminal prosecution of the Department of Justice officials that used political ideology and party affiliation to influence the process of hiring federal prosecutors and judges.

So, breathe freely, Monica Goodling: it’s very likely your creepy, inept, partisan ass and that of your co-horts are not going to jail or will even be disbarred. Hell, the AG just redifined what a crime is. Now, do you feel good about vouching for him, Chucky? You should be proud.

Bullshit.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pot, Meet Kettle

Dick Cheney is hilarious. Not only is the irony of him chastising the Russians for invading a sovereign country--remind you of something?--quite jarring, he also seems to think somehow that we're in any position to threaten Russia or any other country, for that matter, as if there's ANYONE in the world that fears us, after being bogged down for 5 years in a Third World country. C'mon Penguin. Give it a break.

And don't get me started on McSame.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Know-Nothingism

Paul Krugman in the NYT:

Republicans, once hailed as the “party of ideas,” have become the party of stupid. Now, I don’t mean that G.O.P. politicians are, on average, any dumber than their Democratic counterparts. And I certainly don’t mean to question the often frightening smarts of Republican political operatives.

What I mean, instead, is that know-nothingism — the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there’s something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggests otherwise — has become the core of Republican policy and political strategy. The party’s de facto slogan has become: “Real men don’t think things through.”

I don't care much for what the GOP says or does; my issue is with people who fall for their nonsense instead of analyzing it for themselves. That's what gave us 8 years of Shrub and all the attending crap. And that lack of honest, critical thought is why we're fucked in this country.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Dropping the Ball Elevated to an Art Form

It's not that the Democrats can't sell the message, it's that they seem not to know how to do it. Drew Westen, in the Huffington Post, nails it:

The economy is tanking, and McCain's chief economic adviser, Phil Gramm, made one of the most disastrous gaffes a high-ranking campaign official could have made when a nation is facing bank closings, record foreclosures, skyrocketing prices, spiraling unemployment, and an angry electorate: belittling the public for their distress and telling them to stop whining. It would have fit right into a story about a presidential candidate who has as many homes as most people have fingers, and whose first response to the mortgage crisis was to blame the lack of "personal responsibility" of young families buying their first one. It would have fit right into a story of a presidential candidate whose wife complained that the only way to get around Arizona is on a personal jet.

But the Obama campaign chose not to tell that story--or any of its supporting details. When Obama was standing on a world stage last week illustrating for anyone to see precisely what he would do for American respect again around the world--in a world where respect translates into help fighting the terrorists without borders who constitute the greatest threat to our national security--where were his surrogates reminding voters that McCain's whining about Obama's popularity was nothing but sour grapes, and preventing the media from turning Obama's extraordinary success into an example of empty "celebrity" and "arrogance"? (Last I looked, television news producers didn't take their own high ratings as signs of arrogance when they make a strong showing.) And when they finally put a surrogate on television this weekend--John Kerry to face off against Joe Lieberman doing his best Zell Miller impersonation--why did they pick a surrogate associated in every American's mind with the one thing you wouldn't want associated with a candidate who'd had a rough week: losing?

Ugh! This is pissing me off. Somebody call James Carville, with the quickness!!!

"It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant"

No, sir. They take pride in thinking everyone else is. That's why you need to pounce. Hard. (Sorry, I know I'm a broken record over here. But this is a start...)

Flip-Flopping Away

Obama said a couple of days ago says we all should inflate our tires. I don’t disagree with that. The American Automobile Association strongly recommends it,” McCain said.

Aren't these the same motherfuckers that gleefully mocked the Illinois senator's recommendation and sent out tire gauges as a gag? Now, McCain agrees with Obama? Aaaaaarrrgh!

Know Your Enemy

Rage Against the Machine will play Minneapolis' Target Center on Sept. 3rd to coincide with the Republican National Convention there. I smell a beatdown...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fox News IS NOT in the GOP's Pocket (um, wait...)

Last week, president George W. Bush, former president George H. W. Bush (aka Bush 41, Poppy), and former Florida governor Jeb Bush called in to Rush Limbaugh’s radio show to congratulate him on 20 years of broadcasting. Not knowing he was on the air, GHWB asked Rush if he ever gets to “see our man [Roger] Ailes”. You know, the president of the Fox Nuisance Channel and former political consultant to Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Rudy Giuliani, and of course, and GHWB. Not that anyone is surprised, but as soon as Poppy figured out he was on the air, he backtracked unconvincingly and passed the phone to Jeb (and probably went on to chastise W for unwittingly setting him up).

Here’s the
audio and transcript.

Hullabaloo had this to say:

I will never get over the fact that this raging, racist, sexist, hypocritical,
asshole is considered so mainstream that he is even broadcast to the troops overseas and hosts the Bush family, but the congress of the United State voted to condemn MoveOn for taking out an ad in the NY Times. It still makes me mad. And you've got to love Poppy referring to Fox News president Roger Ailes as 'our man.' Out of the mouths of codgers.”

Open Letter to Barack Obama

"Since your historic victory in the primary, there have been troubling signs that you are moving away from the core commitments shared by many who have supported your campaign, toward a more cautious and centrist stance--including, most notably, your vote for the FISA legislation granting telecom companies immunity from prosecution for illegal wiretapping, which angered and dismayed so many of your supporters.

We recognize that compromise is necessary in any democracy. We understand that the pressures brought to bear on those seeking the highest office are intense. But retreating from the stands that have been the signature of your campaign will weaken the movement whose vigorous backing you need in order to win and then deliver the change you have promised."

According to The Nation, "over 15,000 have signed" this missive to the senator from Illinois. Read the complete leter here.

What Does a Recession Look Like?

from Crooks and Liars:

Ann Taylor closing 117 stores nationwide.
Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherines closing 150 stores nationwide
Talbots will close all 78 of its kids and men’s stores plus another 22 underperforming stores.
Gap Inc. closing 85 stores
Foot Locker to close 140 stores
Wickes Furniture is going out of business and closing all of its stores. The 37-year-old retailer that targets middle-income customers, filed for bankruptcy protection last month.
Levitz - the furniture retailer, announced it was going out of business and closing all 76 of its stores in December. The retailer dates back to 1910.
Home Depot closing 15 stores amid a slumping US economy and housing market. The move will affect 1,300 employees. It is the first time the world’s largest home improvement store chain has ever closed a flagship store.
Movie Gallery – video rental company plans to close 400 of 3,500 Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video stores in addition to the 520 locations the video rental chain closed last fall as part of bankruptcy.
* Sprint Nextel - 125 retail locations to close with 4,000 employees following 5,000 layoffs last year.
Wilsons the Leather Experts – closing 158 stores
Bombay Company to close all 384 U.S.-based Bombay Company stores.
KB Toys closing 356 stores around the United States as part of its bankruptcy reorganization.
CompUSA (CLOSED).

Far from being an economist over here, but what does the above look like to you?

* (Don't have any detailed info 'bout this one in particular, but it's a rather surprising to me: a close relative owns a telecommunications store which was of one several businesses that stayed afloat--and even prospered--here in NYC when the economy slowed down after Sept. 11th, 2001.)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Polls: Obama, McCain Tied

I’ve been harping on and on—mainly here and here—about the need for the Obama campaign to step up, ditch the supposed high road and attack McCain forcefully. Well, guess what? Not only is the McCain camp gone negative in overdrive with lame TV ads, filled with flat-out lies, unsubstantiated “facts”, race baiting and misinformation, but for the first time, the candidates are now tied in the polls. Yes, they are. You would think that Mr. 100 Years in Iraq-S&L scandal participant-loyal Bushie-flip-flopping, Grandpa Simpson, hypocrite would be at least 15-20 points behind Obama. But, no. They’re, in fact, tied. (Oh, by the way, keep this little tidbit in mind: tomorrow is the 4th anniversary of the beginning of John Kerry’s “swift boating”.)

Man, I’ve been saying that they were close in the polls because of the folks who could never bring themselves to vote for a black man, no matter how closely identified with the failed policies of the corrupt and inept Bush administration McCain happened to be. But now, part of me suspects this all might mean that there is a large contingent of people that actually think George Bush has put this country on the right path and want McCain to follow the “Bush doctrine”. Either that or this is just the usual instance of the Democrats not being able to get sell their goods, despite having the better product. (Don't discount people being uninformed at best; idiots at worst.)

There’s no guarantee that a sharp and direct attack against McCain will yield the desired dividends in November. But if the Obama camp does not drop this silly pretense of staying above the fray, he will lose for sure. That, is pretty much certain.

Cartoon of the Day

Friday, August 1, 2008

The War on Terror: Only Republicans Need Apply

from Kevin Drum's blog Political Animal, in The Washington Monthly:

Monica Goodling has long since admitted that she used political considerations to hire career lawyers in the Justice Department, and a couple of months ago the Inspector General compiled statistical evidence showing that this was pretty clearly Bush administration policy. So in a way, today's followup report is anticlimactic: it tells us that the Bush DOJ, as we've known for quite a while, was basically run by a bunch of low-rent Boss Tweeds.

Still, anticlimactic or not, its dry recitation of the facts surrounding "Candidate #1" (the first of eight political hit jobs engineered by Goodling) is pretty startling:

He was an experienced terrorism prosecutor and had successfully prosecuted a high-profile terrorism case for which he received the Attorney General's Award for Exceptional Service....Battle stated that Voris told him that the candidate was head and shoulders above the other candidates who had applied for the counterterrorism detail.

Sounds like a great guy. But there was a problem:

The candidate's wife was a prominent local Democrat elected official and vice-chairman of a local Democratic Party. She also ran several Democratic congressional campaigns....Battle, Kelly, and EOUSA Deputy Director Nowacki all told us that Goodling refused to allow the candidate to be detailed to EOUSA solely on the basis of his wife's political party affiliation.

....Because EOUSA had been unable to fill the counterterrorism detail after Goodling vetoed this candidate, a current EOUSA detailee was asked to assume EOUSA's counterterrorism portfolio....He had no counterterrorism experience and had less than the minimum of 5 years of federal criminal prosecution experience required by the EOUSA job announcement. Battle, Nowacki, Kelly, and Voris all said they thought that he was not qualified for the position, since he had no counterterrorism experience. The replacement candidate was a registered Republican who Goodling had interviewed and approved before he was selected for his EOUSA detail.

Your Bush administration at work: When it's politically convenient, the war on terror is vitally important. When it's not, it's not.

[Thanks to Unconquerable Gladness for the heads up. -KJ ]