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Friday, February 29, 2008

That 70s Photo

"Mauro recalls the night it was all over in 1972, after Democrat George McGovern lost to Republican Richard Nixon. He says he and the Clintons decided to let loose in lively Austin, paying $1.50 to see a Texas singer by the name of Willie Nelson before rambling back to a colleague's tiny apartment.

"It was 2 o'clock in the morning, and everybody else had probably had too much to drink, except for Bill and Hillary -- who were drinking [soda] and having this intense discussion about the issues," said Mauro. "I'm absolutely certain that 99 percent of what they were talking about was changing things in the future."

Some "Dynasty". Of all the inept charges ....

Noun Substantives with Jonah Goldberg

While we're in for a pound, with the Friday afternoon fun (a day early):

If you ever doubted that, in the multi-media world, that the editor controls all, check out this very long bit done on Jonah:

(h/t Bill, whose has an x-factor I have yet to pinpoint).

Update: Sorry, Jonah, I hope you don't mind even some bad publicity. Jonah's thesis is probably worth a serious minded engagement, not just derision, based on what I've heard of it.

Barack? He's "F-ing Ben Affleck"

Read all about it at the Daily Dish.

[btw, if you haven't seen the (raw and kinda sophomoric) Kimmel bit on Affleck, don't go ape on me, here, on a Friday afternoon ...]

Oh, btw, AS, may the ghost of Dennis Kucinich haunt you for this:

...is much, much more than any candidate for the presidency has ever done.

Here's hoping that BO's courage didn't just drag him into a theological debate that he probably doesn't have the time for, or kick off ... well you all can probably see where it could go, in the wrong hands.

And ...
Ohio has the sixth largest gay community in the country

yeah, half are all Republicans ... [said he, without a shred of evidence]

When Beauty Goes Bad ...

Arrested for alledged penny-ante robbery spree that went on for eye-popping 18 months, covering 40 incidents.

Along with twin brother, both of whom are gay.


Crime is genetic, obviously.

Iraq Tries Criminals Faster than Bush-Cheney


The go-it-alone approaches that have been the hallmark of the Executive concept under Bush-Cheney got another blow, as Iraq pulled ahead of the US, even, in bringing to trial criminals.

Yet, taxpayers foot the bill for torture-blind Mukasey to go over there ...

New Clinton Ad

Everything is legit about this, fair play. Very poor choice of word "dangerous". Should have used "in a complex world that won't always wait". People are picking up on the wrong overtones ...

I'm not sure it matters. The Obamite box office for February is set to best MGM. Apparently, buying an election is "o.k." if millions contribute millions ... (what? is it? you tell me.)

Update: btw, BO's reply is fine, but I hope he realizes that that is just a blazing return-of-serve, not a game winner. I can think of at least two comebacks to his reply that are real zingers ...

Book Him Now

Book him now for the inauguration (either party, I guess...), before "his" fee goes up. What better way to signal a new era of youth in politics than with this phenom:?

Meal Ticket Weekend

Will we see a slew of meal-ticket hopefuls make their Presidential endorsements this weekend, before what may be the final vote?

The emerging wisdom about a prolonged fight for the Democratic Nomination may be wrong.

The longer McCain is on his own, so to speak, trying to unite the un-uniteable, without a clear enemy to get in front of to do it, the better...


[btw, I dissent from the view that all the talk is bad for 'The Party'.

Too many of the politicians talking that have grown comfortable up on that carpet of Corporatism, Capitol Hill, where they restrict debate on even the most pressing issues to 2-4 hours and repeatedly vote in ways that protect themselves from true exposure to the electorate.]

Face of the Day

“I’ve waited tables before,” she said (without a hint of irony). [photo: Todd Heisler]

Recasting "GWOT" - Free to do so, at last

The aching need to move beyond the memes of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld era:

In my forthcoming book, Heads in the Sand I observe that there's a substantial political problem here as well. Given how firmly entrenched the wrongheaded framework is, it's generally not worth any particular politician's while on any particular day to stick his or her neck out and try to prick the conceptual bubble Bush has erected around these questions. It's risky. It makes more sense to try to just come up with ideas that make sense within the Massive Ideological Struggle framework. But as long as that framework goes unchallenged, it's incredibly difficult to make the case for liberal alternatives to the policies we've been implementing. - Matt-Y

Si, Se Puede!

If that phrase is going to mean anything (beyond bus 'em early, bus 'em often), it is to show the way around these collective action problems. No point waiting for election day, even.

Sometimes it is not as hard as it seems. Reagan's team was often able to do it with a simple, well-placed phrase or story, e.g. "the medicine is worse than the malady".

Thursday, February 28, 2008

So Much for AS's Unqualified Thesis About A Hands-Down Uniter


When this is all done with, so much of the current conventional wisdom is going to be re-written.

“Some people call me an Uncle Tom,” said Mr. Miller, who, up for re-election, faces an opponent next week whose literature includes a picture of Mr. Obama. “There’s a lot of pressure to switch sides. There’s a lot of emotion. All I can say is thank God it’s winter and no one is outside, because there would be more than angry words on the street.”

One cannot ignore the symbolic importance of an Obama win (done cleanly), but the hard work of race in the country will abide and need tending to. How the change in the symbolic landscape will be harnessed by a President Obama (and first lady Michelle), is perhaps a very much untold story.


One other piece of conventional wisdom that will ultimately be debunked: an improvement on the ground in Iraq will benefit the Republicans.

Somehow I doubt that the electorate is going to get all fired-up over "we were right, and the Democrats were wrong", when the result is the same: the troops are coming home. If Obama plays his cards right, this door will be open to him.

My guess is that, as soon as the troops are on the trajectory to come home, the Nation isn't up for a rehash of "yesterday's politics". It is also easy to suspect that this may be why Petreaus will request more of the same, as a possible electioneering ploy (yes, one can easily mistrust them THAT much, sorry).


Meanwhile, it's hard to stay mad at John McCain, yes? Today, he vehemently called himself a "proud conservative liberal-Republican", before correcting himself with a fine bit of self-deprecating humor.

I swear, even these faux pas are more endearing than 1,000 of Bush's wry smirks and impish talk-downs.

Matt Drudge - 2X Biggest A-Hole in Same Week

First it was the potentially falsely "sourced" photo of Obama, that turns out has been floating around for a while, including on Free Republic.

Now, he's busting Prince Harry's cover, according to MSNBC.

What an a-hole.

Update: Morons at The Telegraph dignify Drudge with "journalist", a nomer that he himself has steadfastly repudiated.

Obama and Diplomacy


The GOP are perennially putting their faith in weapons and soldiers-with-weapons.

Therefore, I hope that Obama doesn't waiver on the ground that he has staked out on aggressive diplomacy. I've pushed hard on that, here, especially on Cuba, in the hopes that it would force Obamites to refine and solidify their view.

For one thing, every time McCain starts to go on about Iraq, Obama could use a "core" position on diplomacy to broaden the discussion to the wider question of conducting foreign policy, diffusing the Iraq issue. He can also draw a sharp distinction with the Bush-Cheney lack of a diplomacy gene, even while adopting the strong stances that he has on "striking our enemies".

Among the key points:

  • I will make NO apologies for aggressive diplomacy, even to a fault. If taking, listening, or re-engaging, even to a maddening degree of start-stop, saves us from one war or forestalls one aggressive action, it repays our efforts, however vain, hopeless, or silly they might seem at the outset, a thousand fold.
  • We will not sit on our arsenal as if it were a laurel wreath, nor expect others to always come to us first because of it.
  • As the world's hyper-puissance, our power is best exercised through others, in concert, whereby it is self-reinforcing, rather than self-defeating (that is apparently a lesson that Schultz didn't give Bush down in Texas in 2000...).


Last, the GOP are perennially insistent that someone take an oath to accept force (as a last resort). They also trot out all kinds of military examples of how only military force was "real" - and, of course, Chamberlain.

I'm always partial to the story of Lorenzo, who saved the Florentine Republic, bound for almost certain wartime loss, with nothing more than ... a bold stroke of diplomacy.

In search of Honesty

Mere appeals against "the white flag of surrender" are not arguments. We're waiting. For honesty. -AS

Is it just me, or do appeals for "honesty" ring hollow on a blog that is spinning against Clinton (less so, for Obama) better than could Rumplestiltskin?

Seriously, this apology for copying doesn't even come close. There is no sense that some other politician gave the Gettysburg Address. Using the same or similar rhetorical formulation - even the cadences - is not verboten. However, as I indicated earlier, lifting passages without amelioration is slippery, and worse in the context of being the inspirational speaker of a generation. It was a mistake, and the question that a truer journalist would be asking is whether it was indicative, part of a prior pattern (I doubt it, but that doesn't mean that one's job description changes ...).

So, if I were AS, I'd drop this one. It's a loser.

In general, the Obama-frenzy crowd are going to have to pick and choose which hits they are going to take. Trying to blot them all is going to become brittle fast. He's just a guy afterall, even if some think he's ... celestial:

Bienvenido a la gran nacion!

"...y traernos todos juntos en esta gran nacion"

Peron! Peron!

Facts on the Ground - Iraq

The Iraqi government gets two of three pieces past its veto-council. They are all of critical importance, however, so it's still very tentative progress.

Weekly Casualty Lists: Week 9, Yr OEF+7


Journalists in the news again this week.

I'm trying some new ideas about handling notice of the wounded. 231 wounded in January, following 211 in December. Some news items now covered, here.

It's still not possible any longer to track/create enemy casualty list(s).

[This list covers the two-week period from the last update.]

Roggio reports: "The death toll in the Feb. 17 suicide attack in the Arghandab district in Kandahar has risen to more than 100, including 35 auxiliary policemen, making it the largest suicide attack since 2002. Abdul Hakim Jan, the leader of a local anti-Taliban auxiliary police force in the strategic Arghandab district, was killed in the bombing."


-------Name, AgeSrv BranchHometown

Rank, Unit

Location; Circumstance of Death

Kevin S. Mowl, 22U.S. ArmyPittsford, NY
Specialist, 2nd BN, 3rd Infantry Reg, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Div
Bethesda Naval Hosp., MD; 25-Feb-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Orlando A. Perez, 23U.S. ArmyHouston, TX
Specialist, 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment
Baghdad; 24-Feb-08; Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire

Micheal E. Phillips, 19U.S. ArmyArdmore, OK
Private 1st Class, 1st BN, 502nd Infantry Reg, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, (Air Assault) 101st Airborne Division
Baghdad; 24-Feb-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Keisha M. Morgan, 25U.S. ArmyWashington, DC
Specialist, Division Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division
Baghdad; 22-Feb-08; Non-hostile - illness

Drew W. Weaver, 20U.S. MarineSt. Charles, MO
Lance Corporal, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance BN, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force
Anbar Province; 21-Feb-08; Hostile - hostile fire

Nathan R. Raudenbush, 25U.S. ArmyRoyersford, PA
Captain, 3rd BN, 7th Infantry Reg, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
Busayefi; 20-Feb-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Bryant W. Mackey, 30U.S. ArmyEureka, KS
Staff Sergeant, 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment
Mosul; 20-Feb-08; Hostile - hostile fire - RPG attack

Conrad Alvarez, 22U.S. ArmyBig Spring, TX
Sergeant, 1st BN, 502nd Infantry Reg, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, (Air Assault) 101st Airborne Division
Baghdad; 20-Feb-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Albert Bitton, 20U.S. ArmyChicago, IL
Corporal, 1st BN, 502nd Infantry Reg, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, (Air Assault) 101st Airborne Division
Baghdad; 20-Feb-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Micheal B. Matlock, Jr., 21U.S. ArmyGlen Burnie, MD
Specialist, 1st BN, 502nd Infantry Reg, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, (Air Assault) 101st Airborne Division
Baghdad; 20-Feb-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Luke S. Runyan, 21U.S. ArmySpring Grove, PA
Specialist, 2nd BN 23rd Infantry Reg, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division
Diyala Province; 17-Feb-08; Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire

Chad D. Groepper, 21U.S. ArmyKingsley, IA
Specialist, 2nd BN 23rd Infantry Reg, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division
Diyala Province; 17-Feb-08; Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire


------Name, AgeSrv BranchCountry

Rank, Unit

Location; Circumstance of Death
Hubert Kowalewski, 26Polish Armyn.a.-Poland
Private 1st Class, 10 Brygada Kawalerii Pancernej 10th Armor Cavalry Brigade
Sharan district (Paktika province); 26-Feb-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
Szymon Slowik, 33Polish Armyn.a.-Poland
Corporal Senior, 16. Batalion Powietrzno-Desantowy (16th Air Assault Batt.)
Sharan district (Paktika province); 26-Feb-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
Morten Krogh Jensen, 21Royal Danish Armyn.a.-Denmark
Konstabel, Not reported yet
Helmand Province; 24-Feb-08; Non-hostile - accident
Damian Mulvihill, 32British Royal MarinePlymouth-UK
Corporal, 40 Commando Royal Marines
Sangin (Helmand Province); 20-Feb-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED
Damian Stephen Lawrence, 25British ArmyScarborough-UK
Corporal, 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards)
Kajaki (Helmand Province); 17-Feb-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack


Counted Civilian Casualties: 197 this week; 271 last week; 271 prior week.
Wednesday 27 February: 19 dead
Baghdad: roadside bomb kills 1, New Baghdad; roadside bomb kills 1, Ghadeer; 2 bodies.
Al-Hamra: gunmen kill border guard.
Al-Mutaiha: gunmen kill policeman.
Hamdaniya: gunmen kill university student.
Mosul: 2 killed by roadside bomb; 2 killed by car bomb; 3 bodies.
Baquba: 2 killed by US fire.
Lake Thar Thar: 2 Awakening members killed by gunmen at checkpoint.
Tihmaziya: body found.
Tuesday 26 February: 22 dead
Afghanistan: Five police and one child were killed in an IED attack in Khost.
Baghdad: body found.
Mosul: suicide bomber kills 14 bus passengers at fake checkpoint; car bomb kills policeman.
Hibhib: roadside bomb kills lorry driver.
Kirkuk: gunmen kill 2 Awakening members; roadside bomb kills 2.
Hilla: body found.
Monday 25 February: 39 dead
Baghdad: roadside bomb kills 4 pilgrims, Zafaraniya; 3 bodies.
Baquba: gunmen kill 2 at bus station.
Dowasir: gunmen kill woman.
Salam: mass grave contain 8 bodies, all women, is found.
Qara Taba - Khanaqeen road: roadside bomb blows up car, kills 2 passengers.
Samarra: suicide bomber kills senior police officer and 2 aides.
Azalita: 3 bodies.
Mosul: mortars hit house, kill 3 members of family, including a child; a boy is killed by insurgents as they fire on passing US patrol; 4 policemen are shot dead when gunmen attack patrol; 3 men die in drive-by shooting.
Basra: engineer's body is found.
Abu al-Khaseeb: gunmen kill oil company guard.
Sunday 24 February: 73 dead
Afghanistan:The governor of Kandahar escaped an assassination attempt; three police were killed in the blast.
Baghdad: 3 pilgrims killed during attack, Dora; 4 bodies.
Mosul: roadside bomb blows up bus, kills 2 electricity employees.
Hawija: car bomb kills Awakening member.
Iskandariya: suicide bomber attacks pilgrims, kills 63.
37 unidentified bodies are buried in Baquba.
Saturday 23 February: 21 dead
Baghdad: roadside bomb kills 1, Beirut Square; gunmen kill journalist; 3 bodies.
Al-Shiha: suicide bombers kill tribal chief and 2 policemen.
Saqlawiya: gunmen attack police stations, kill 6 policemen.
Mosul: roadside bomb kills lorry driver; gunmen kill man in drive-by shooting; a child is killed during shoot-out between US forces and gunmen.
Baiji: roadside bomb kills wife and son of Baiji Council member.
Samarra: roadside bomb kills 2 policemen.
25 unidentified bodies are buried in Baquba.
Friday 22 February: 23 dead
Baghdad: roadside bomb kills 1, car bomb kills 3, Karrada; 2 bodies.
Buhriz: mortars kill 6-year-old boy.
Khan Bani Saad: gunmen kill 12-year-old Omar Mohammed and his sisters, 17-year-old Budur and 20-year-old Seleema.
Iskandariya: 2 bodies.
Amiriyat al-Falluja: suicide bomber kills 6 outside mosque.
Garma: suicide bomber kills 2 at checkpoint.
Tikrit: suicide bomber kills 3 policemen.
Thursday 21 February: 35 dead
Baghdad: gunmen kill policeman, Waziriya; gunmen kill Ministry of Transport employee, Sadr City; 5 bodies.
Baquba: 15 bodies.


Shihab al-Timimi27-Feb-08
Chief of the Iraqi Journalists' Union Shihab al-Timimi was announced dead on Wednesday due to fatal wounds sustained in gunmen attack last Saturday, Iraqi official television reported.

src: MNF-I, MNF-A, journalists from icasualties.org; Iraqi Civiilan: iraqbodycount.org; Afghan events from Bill Roggio, other sources

Roger Dodger


I'm having trouble getting behind the Congressional referral of Roger Clemens to the Justice Department.

Despite how National Baseball dips into the public coffers (for new facilities) just before they privatize all the returns from said investments, it's still a private affair, not a central public interest.

Meanwhile, we have what some consider war criminals in the White House and Rove, who has refused to testify before Congress, walking around in daylight, sometimes even getting platforms from national news organizations, like FOX.

It's rather like being through the looking glass, that.

The Armchair Strategist

McCain continues to probe Obama for weakness on National Security.

All these little shots are probably designed, intentionally or otherwise, to nip at his heels, until he makes a mistake.

Most likely are the old GOP standbys: getting heated enough to say something that looks like it might be bad for troop moral during a time of war or giving aid and comfort to the enemy. The next is to try to get him tied up, in all probability, in some endless debate about releasing secrets to the New York Times.

Avoiding a mis-step is a the first discipline. Having seen Barack stare down Lindsey Graham on the Senate floor, more than once, I actually have a lot of confidence in him.

The next is to pre-empt, by sending his own 'wedge' issues McCain's way.

  • -Bob Novak continues to write for national journals and appear on national television, after knowingly publishing the name of a covert CIA operative. Is McCain on board with that?
  • -In reporting on a new OBL tape last year, FOX news jeopardized operational secrecy, some have reported, based on their preferred access to sources in the Pentagon. Will McCain invite FOX into his Pentagon, the way that Bush has?
  • -The GOP have waived the benchmarks that they themselves have set for progress in Iraq, after not accepting or setting any for years. What benchmarks will a McCain administration accept?

After seven years of war, there is a long list. You can use your imagination as well as I can.

The more time that McCain spends arguing with his own party regulars, the better off the Dems are while they sort out who is going to be the nominee ...

The Tears of a McCain


Okay, AS went on about Hillary's tears for quite a while.

Now, MSNBC is airing an expose on John McCain for the second or third time. In it, Joe McCain (John's brother) either breaks into tears or comes close to it.

So, AS, can we "go after" Joe, as you did Hillary? MSNBC for including it? Can we endlessly impugn Joe's motives, without fear of looking like ogres (or is there just societal permissioning to do that if your last name is Clinton, I wonder).

McCain Inadvertantly At Crossroads of Conservatism

McCain's seemingly spontaneous repudiation of unsightly, foul-mouth Bill Cunningham may have been unwittingly brilliant.

In one stroke, it gives a cold-water douche to the ugly, divisive wing of the party that Obama is fighting against (with gale force tailwinds), deflecting any direct Obama assault and simultaneously making McCain look attractive to certain conservatives anxious to release themselves from that yoke and setting up a pathway to conservative revival, if there is to be one without a full-scale meltdown, that starts by putting in their place the "dishonorable" rants of the Limbaughs of the world, that have soared to new heights even in the past year ("Barack the magic negro" is not even the sum of it!).

Now, McCain's response may not have been spontaneous.

On that score, John catches Josh looking for more evidence that McCain's firm rejection is a new trend, not just a one-off or a carefully contrived - even orchestrated - repudiation.


Separately, what is interesting is that some stats have McCain voting "with Bush" 90% of the time. Why interesting? 10% is enough in the automatron party (see for reference the writing and research of John Dean) to become a "maverick", true or false?

William F. Buckley, Jr. - "Nearer My God To Thee"

[update: extended, but not revised]

He lived long enough to see the sweep of his ideas for what they are - episodic.

While left-liberal values the world over have been the enduring march of consciousness through time, almost everything that marked his lifetime crusade is dust, now, practically, even adjusting for the recent collapse of American Conservatism under the weight of its own essential contentlessness and freakish neo-conservative dry-hump. Even today, the conservative movement was captive to Bill Cunningham. The rest, let over to Limbaugh; Hannity; Clearchannel 'dominant market share' and the profound diminution of the public space in general; Roger Ailes and the chocolate factory; Coulter; and, of course, Dinesh and Regnery.

He did good things for conservatism, as Paul Gigot has rightly recognized, helping extricate it from its wildly antisemitic leanings and some of its other most grave excesses, as it existed when he came of age. For that, we can be thankful.

His public persona came with a preposterous diction and flashing eyebrows, the mock imitation of which once earned me an award.

His private discourse must have been softer, as he seems to have gleaned a list of true friends and admirers, even if the ills of the world that obtained beyond his fatted Stamford table he smugly and all too comfortably massaged as belonging to the sick alone or to "sickness", as defined by him in ways that would make Zarathustra blush:

"Everyone detected with AIDS should be tattooed in the upper forearm to prevent common needle users, and on the buttocks, to prevent the victimization of homosexuals.” h/t JMG

One gets the impression, even from his own musings, that his whole life was lived as a giant intellectual amusement, but almost utterly without a sense of divine comedy. On that score, that he ended life exhausted is understandable.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Best of the Web

Matt-Y tips off a riveting debate over "NAFTA on the merits".

While I've despaired that the Democrats as "no where" on trade, being unable among themselves to come up with (a) an accurate diagnosis and (b) an easily communicated cure, it does appear that the general level of awareness about the problems are near to sweeping away the academics, who got wowed by textbook theories of the benefits of trade.

I'd add that the historical context of NAFTA, in my mind, was the broader perceived threat from regional trade deals in South Asia. In short, unfettered trade as a ... "weapon", to choose a crude term, a must-have tool of "economic survival in the 21st century".

From the comments, my selections:

  • Not all of Canada is so happy with the U.S. standards, making the claim of a superior-minded opt-out look ... egregious.
  • The rush to "build a highway to Mexico" was a uniquely crude American approach, unlike the highly-technocratic EU approach to trade-area enlargement.
  • The neo-classical model of free-movement of capital as a sine qua non of economic development is in question, looking at some important counter examples, including S. Korea.
  • Workable ideas on how to accurately describe and to address the "inequality-boosting elements" are perpetually left unclarified.

"My Solemn Duty To Protect the American People"


Apparently, protection means dropping the monitoring of dangerous gas emissions and failing to enforce, even on notice, basic food safety.

This follows on the heels of a string of astounding (brazen) FCC decisions.

What is amazing is why people continue to hope anew, every so many years, about "small government conservatives".

We KNOW what it means, in practice ... Sheesh.

If one got snarky: "You want to talk to me about vote-and-die?"

So how is the FDA doing under his [small government conservative] watch? A troubled agency for decades, politically undermined and deficient in budgets, the FDA is now more burdened and besieged than ever. Its budget last year was $ 2 billion – the price ten years ago of one B-2 bomber. Here are the FDA’s own words:

“More than 250 different foodborne illnesses are food safety threats. Based on Centers for Disease Control estimates, 76 million Americans become sick, more than 300,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die each year from foodborne illnesses. Recent outbreaks highlight the need for increased resources to strengthen food safety….” nadar.org

The Morning After

Whatever the questions, neither of the candidates were obviously stumped. Why not pay a certain respect to a performance that includes no missed double-axles, at least?

Second, the questions were kind of bland, yes?

For instance, the entire discussion about energy was about how to create energy jobs.

It left me wishing that Ralph Nadar had been asking the questions. True, it seems to me that Nadar's perspective on such things as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have gone quite stale, he's able to hold forth on the core questions of energy policy, for instance, to put his finger far closer to the pulse of where the discussion needs to be, even if he's lost his sense of timing (or time has passed him by).


If these "debates" have any import, beyond the careful scheming and watchful eye of the small minority of American political junkies, it's to elucidate.

Obama hasn't quite put into evidence that he can use his rhetorical skills to do that, quite the way that Reagan did or, certainly, Bill Clinton. You need that when you go to sell a legislative agenda to the public. It's critical, not just important.


Still nothing about the pardon question - and now it it too late to ask - or how vigorously either candidate would seek to address the growing list of potential Bush-II era lawbreaking (including, most recently, the grave allegations that Rove was involved in yet another case of Texas-justice).

Nothing on how their administrations would handle the CIA, including taping of interrogations. Nothing on a pardon for either Bush or Cheney. Nothing on eliminating the abuse of "National Secrets".

Little or nothing on the supreme court or the administration of justice, in general. No effort to expound upon how profoundly the Reagan Devolution's systematic assault on the courts is changing (and undermining?) American Values just as surely as the Terri Shiavo case illustrated in a more visible context.

Nothing on homeland security and civil preparedness.

Nothing on the failed Bush legal-strategy, that is only now, in the last months of his administration, bringing the first (or very near to it) cases against "enemy combatants".

The list is long ...

Instead, we take time to worry about Hillary's change in tone (which has almost obvious explanation) or the Right's latest quasi wedge-issue, Farrakahn, both issues that will substantively amount to nearly nothing in even two weeks time ...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Q: What about the change in tone?:

Hillary: goes with a "fact-based and accurate" critique, on an issue that could have been far better illustrated - at a minimum, a clear, succinct description of what is wrong with Obama's plan, both as a matter of design, tactics, and core values.

She's lost.

Good night.


Q: The Photo

Obama ducks the issues raised AND no one says anything. Don't say I didn't tell you so! He's not going to unite the country on race any more than it has been already. I firmly believe that now.

Note also: MSNBC cuts off the debate, instead of leading it and adapting to the ongoing debate. On the most important legislation of a generation coming up, they cut off the debate and show no ability to follow the ideas and question the candidates, beyond their first 90-second soundbite.

Clevland Debate Preview

Obama comes into this with nothing to win, and Hillary controls the field.

I'd wager that she will speak up firmly on healthcare. That's going to remain her signature, into the sunset.

She will defend against NAFTA distortions, but everything will depend on her ability to phrase it expertly.

The rest depends on MSNBC. Will they ask the questions? Will it be Russert-style what-you-said-in-1996 boring nonsense or something really provocative and far-thinking? Will they resist the obvious humor of offering Barack a pillow?

Chris Dodd

O.K., enough already with the old, white Northern Senators-for-Obama, especially just before a big vote.

It's starting to make him look like the Last Affirmative Action Candidate, right?

Obama - Just Another Politician, Part II

After roundly criticizing The Clintons for their manipulation of the press, Obama shows some signs of a willingness to do the same. Did he feel burned after the coverage his comments in Nevada, about Reagan, got? Who knows, but here's The Politico.

And the traveling press corps has been shut out of monitoring Obama's satellite interviews with local media outlets, which is a normal practice on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign.

On top of that, the traveling media has been tussling with Obama aides to keep conversations with the candidate on his campaign plane on the record.

I wouldn't mention it, because it appears to have made it to the right-wing daily talking points, but I thought I should, since it's an obvious AS .... error of omission, if he is really upset about how politicians treat the press to their advantage.

What Dee Dee Myers Won't Face: Women Have Missed Their Moment

True or false: the verdict of history is that women have missed the historical moment, that ripe stretch in the changing of the seasons, to seize the opportunity to elect one of their own.

When the history is written, it will show that, like Paglia, some preferred to cat-fight among themselves and others (like Oprah?) were still most comfortable ... with something else.

You Can't Throw the Kitchen Sink At BO, Because He is the Kitchen Sink


Jonathan Chait argues that Obama is winning high-education voters because they are high information voters. -AS

Didn't Chait read When Genius Failed? Sorry, but TNR isn't exactly high on the recommended list, right now, post the Times-McCain flap they lubricated, reportedly.

This kind of psychoanalyzing of election results is such a fools game. I wish I could get paid for it as much as some.


Rather than take some cheap shots, let's just ask, who is Barack Obama? As Chris Matthews so amply demonstrated on his show last week, even many of his supporters do not have a clue. They vote for him because they think he represents something in themselves and he casts his net wide enough to accommodate that amply.

You are free to conceptualize him however you want.


BO hasn't been in the oval one day, even, yet he's JFK. No, he's RFK. He's MLK. He's Jefferson. He's Jackson. (He's Deval Patrick....). He's Reagan. He's "American Adam". He offers a Hope that he's blurred into old-fashioned American optimism in peoples' mind, although the two are quite distinct. He'll get "us" past race (especially if we are white-male McCain-hugging independents).
BO hasn't been in the oval one day, even, yet he's JFK. No, he's RFK. He's MLK. He's Jefferson. He's Jackson. (He's Deval Patrick....). He's Reagan. He's American Adam. He offers a Hope that he's blurred into old-fashioned American optimism in peoples' mind, although the two are quite distinct. He'll get "us" past race (especially if we are white-male McCain-hugging independents).

He's a revivalist, who calls up old-time phrases that are more aptly suited another time, like "Si, Se Puede". But he's not "reviving" anything, because he's also a fancy page turner.

He's an idealist, who is going to sweep away what is wrong with Washington. Yet, his advisory team? All ... quasi-slacker pragmatists (the idea that Dick Thaler might be an influencer is a little disconcerting, and I sort-of like Thaler, too).

The list goes on. His pre-war judgments are somehow supposed to give confidence that his post-war judgments are better than others.


Barack Obama is Barack Obama. Nothing more, nothing less.

Certainly not the conceptual dream that his advance hagiographers are whipping him up to be. If you are not o.k. with that and still like BO (for President or otherwise), then something is wrong, seriously wrong.

Can I Get You a Pillow?

God, the Clintons are disgusting.-AS

Whoa, there big fella. Bill and Hillary can both take big shots, but this isn't one of them.

The question that mounts in this flap over The Photo is where is Barack Obama, the guy who is supposed to unite us on race? In an incident that his campaign has used superlatives to describe, he's AWOL, right?

Look for that to be a possible theme. The way Obama transcends race is to ... ignore it? His campaign runs a whole set of photos of him on his website. I'm not saying they should include everything, but they have made a deliberate choice to exclude some stuff. Frankly, if they weren't ready for The Photo, then they have no one to blame except themselves.

Update: From comments at Douthat-comma-Ross:

"This picture first appeared in late 2007. It then appeared in The National Examiner on February 4th. Next, the photo was seen on Free Republic. Finally, it appears on Drudge a full two weeks later with unsubstantiated sourcing and the media blames Clinton for it?"

Conservatives Break the Law, With Immunity, But Liberals are Snooty

Bill Kristol this week: if you don't follow the [neo-con?] herd AND have the nerve to call it one, it's moral vanity.

If everyone is doing it, you have to as well or be quiet about not doing so, otherwise you might be a snooty liberal.

He gets paid for this stuff.

I have a compromise.

Bill can wear red-white-and-blue underwear, so he can keep his patriotism on the inside and close to his thinking head (at least when it comes to foreign policy), so that the rest of us won't have to be bothered with anything more than the pledge of allegiance, from time-to-time, rather than the flag pin.

Obama Campaign Plays the Race Card

It was bound to happen. No one noticed it (that I've seen).

But when The Photo of Obama hit, David Plouffer-nutter (who by all accounts is a super guy), lost it and went for:

"... the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we've seen from either party in this election."

Maggie Williams, recently in-charge at HRC HQ, was having none of that and told him to put his race card back in the deck.

TNR - Very Quiet. Too Quiet?

The Times Ombudsman blasts the NYT for its McCain story. The New Republic (TNR) has fallen silent.

This is the same TNR who reportedly were giving comfort to the reporters who wanted their judgment to trump that of the editors by offering to make The Times itself the story.

[If I'm wrong, let me know, but what I've seen of substance is something they appear to have had to go outside their ranks to get, a non-vigorous defense of 'the story' by E.J. Dionne, Jr. ...]

BO's Political Triangulation Goes Negative on Healthcare

The Obama campaign, confident from having a bigger box office in Jan/Feb than Superman or something, decided to attack healthcare mandates, in a flier (that reportedly sent Hillary ballistic).

If I were a super-delegate, I'd be worried about what Obama means when he talks about addressing people who 'game the system', under his plan, because his plan sets up a system with incentives to game it, right?
Pushing back against mandates is an Obama campaign "triangulation", an effort to save face for a bad policy design.

For one thing, the Obama critique of the Clinton plan is incoherent. If Obama's plan will make health insurance affordable for everyone, then Clinton's plan will too, regardless of mandates. Put another way, the Obama campaign has a beef with itself and undermines its own argument, admitting that some will not be able to afford healthcare (and therefore, might be subject to fines).

If I were a super-delegate, I'd be worried about what Obama means when he talks about addressing people who 'game the system', under his plan, because his plan sets up a system with incentives to game it, right?

Media Enter Black Out Period for Clinton in Advance of March 4

From Ambinder:

HRC's Giving Her Major Foreign Policy Speech Right Now...

And no cable network is covering it.

As I type, MSNBC is showing Mike Huckabee's appearance on Saturday Night Live...ABC News Now is in a commercial...CNN is on weather, and Fox News is covering the DNC's complaint against John McCain. (To MSNBC's credit, they dipped into the speech for about 20 seconds.)

A few weeks ago, any speech deemed by the campaign as "major" would have been broadcast in its entirety.

I was very much looking forward to listening to the Tavis Smiley moderated “State of the Black Union” symposium held in New Orleans, that got zero coverage (at least that I noted).

[BO did not attend, so far as I know ... hummm. One of BO's weaknesses is that ... well, I'll bet you even money that, by the time his Presidency is over, he will not have been seen as a 'uniter' on the issue of race, right, wrong, good or bad.]

BO, The "Impulse Buy", continued

From the Obama blog:

[In Cincinnati] Barack spoke [to "almost 12,000"] about the importance of voting early. He said, "you don't want to leave voting until the last minute. We've got buses that will take you to the Board of Elections right after the event."

What's the hurry?

I mean, seriously, if the case being made to the serious-minded folks is that Barack is expanding the party, how strong is the "Hope Now" coalition if people have to be bused, Jim Jones style, immediately after the verbal hypnotism?

Monday, February 25, 2008

After nearly 15 years, how forced do the GOP memes sound to you?

By a quirk of fate, I was forced to listen to an entire Tucker Carlson program tonight.

After having my view refreshed at to how much of a hack* his string of opinions amounts to, I left the program just exhausted at the same-old, same-old.

I'm not even sure that the new meat of a first-term Obama Presidency (or whomever) is going to refresh that palette.

[p.s. Tucker, how does one go effortlessly from "complaining" that the Clintons' injected race into the campaign, then insisting that the Obama campaign respond to Louis Farrakhan?]

*Update: "hack" is not precise. "hackneyed" is better, yes?


Separately, overheard this on FOX today, regarding Obama:

"...his [Obama's] actions don't match the record." - random strategy guest

I ... where do you even begin with something like that? Isn't the record just the collection of all actions and words? If so, how can it be at odds with itself?

RNC in Secret Sessions

The GOPers are meeting to find ways to ... not look and sound like whitey?

... people are going to be looking for a "rollback" of all the liberal-style redress programs and approaches, yes? ... If I were a super-delegate, I'd be asking questions about that.
This more-or-less suggests that we will have make-believe time during the general campaign (with everyone pretending that race is off the table).

I'd bet that it won't be like that after the election, however. Not in nasty ways, but people are going to be looking for a "rollback" of all the liberal-style redress programs and approaches, yes?

Not that there is anything "wrong" with that. It's does seems wrong to go into it with blinders on, if that is how it transpires. If I were a super-delegate, I'd be asking questions about that.

Me, Looking in the Wrong Places

Turns out it wasn't a 70s photo. It may be a Let's Go Kenya photo. So much for my crystal ball.

Neoconservatism - A Turd Much Like Depleted Uranium, Now

In a freak of nature, it appears that some want to go on calling themselves "neo-conservative", without a shred of embarrassment.

I've been meaning to write a kind of lengthy meditation on the future of neoconservatism, taking off from Mark Lilla's entertaining and mostly unfavorable review of Jacob Heilbrunn's They Knew They Were Right. - Reihan

Can I sugges Ode to a Grecian Urn, as a starting point?


Neoconservatism was a half-baked effort to attach a "governing philosophy" to modern conservatism, which was (and is) just an ersatz coalition in America, really.

However, in attaching a philosophy, their aching lot detached from reality, in many ways, perhaps the greatest of which was by
I suspect most are ready to be rid of the episode in history in which neo-cons dry-humped the conservative movement in America, ... I won't be reading any "neocon revival" literature, except as part of a domestic threat matrix, will you?
enthusiastically embracing a "hope-for-the-best- don't-plan-for-the-rest" approach to military engagement.

This led to a one trillion dollar violent, nation-building quagmire, with a standing army in a foreign land, hui clos and without foreign financial support, fighting terrorist battles of their own creation in a multi-dimensional struggle that was not and is not their own to win completely.

Almost nothing is without a silver lining, but if Reihan wants to write about neoconservatism, "Brain Fart" seems to suggest itself (if that is not too crude for the blogosophere), although that's more kind that what it has truly amounted to in action.

No, I suspect most are ready to be rid of the episode in history in which neo-cons dry-humped the conservative movement in America, at the risk of mixing metaphors. I won't be reading any "neocon revival" literature, will you?

Si, Se Puede - Hablamos Inglés

We can do what? Run the snakes out of Ireland?

An expedient phrase, a throwback, from just another politician, seeking votes:

OBAMA: Well, I think it is important that everyone learns English and that we have that process of binding ourselves together as a country. I think that's very important.

-BO, CNN Texas Debate

Meanwhile, the guy for whom journalists could find no detractors among his law review colleagues, because Barack got along with everyone?

Well, one of the Senate's towering dead woods, John Warner, calls on the Obama Campaign for facts, saying that the Senate has "no higher calling" than to supply the troops.

Eyes roll. Way back.

I wonder if someone took a survey of troops throughout history of whether they felt fully supplied at all times, if it would even break 20% ... I suggest that one reason Eisenhower was 'disciplined' about using the military, less so than being a "realist", is that he knew first-hand the sheer wastes of war that have little to do with actual killing and blowing-shit-up.

I hope those facts are there, otherwise Obama's ...er, lack-of-message-discipline is going to move from being a quick one liner to a major speed bump, in an election bound to be about National Security, if the GOP candidate has his way ...

Punch Drunk Obamites

We've all seen "Sicko", right? We know about the massive sums that the insurance industry, and others, spend every x years, to keep their province (this time, they will not, because the government is promising to subsidize them, maybe ...). We all got a clear picture of the revolving door, a name-them look at how the industry influences Congress. Yet, AS comes up with this:

her own arrogance, secrecy and paranoia derailed universal healthcare for a decade -AS, repeating 1990s screed fra diablo

There might have been some arrogance and some secrecy, but those are not enough to have derailed healthcare ... and certainly not for a decade and a half (btw).

"Cool" or crafty, it just reeks of the of "silly politics" that he complains that everyone else is engaged in, against which he is helping to "turn the page".
"It's kinda funny to see Obama turning the tables on Clinton, appearing himself as "inevitable" and dismissing criticisms as 'tactics'. Why? Cool" or crafty, it just reeks of the of "silly politics" that he complains that everyone else is engaged in, against which he is helping to "turn the page".

(ftr, I certainly would not have gone about deflating the Obama bubble quite the way the Hillary camp has done so. They are really having their philosophy and character tested in the Clinton camp, rather than just failing miserably. That could be a good thing. The process is working when you get down the bare-knuckles of what people are all about. Hillary isn't phoney, but she's missing a bit of ... conceptual depth in her charge up BO hill, so to speak, yes? Not that we haven't learned that BO is a bit of smoke and mirrors, too. All grist for vetting, so we know what we're getting into, I guess).

k.d. lang, Undiminished

With Oscar promising to be lackluster this year, p-dog and I scooted down to Philly for k.d., who was ... "invincible" last night.

She put in a performance of "Wash Me Clean" (below, on Ingénue), rich and virtually flawless. She continues to add energetic and thoughtful nuance to her "powerhouse" songs.

It's been a long while since I've left a concert hall, wishing that it was just intermission ...

McCain Enemas Not Over Yet

Sort of speaks for itself, as an almost perfect capsule of all that is wrong with Washington and caps it off with a magnificent finish: all the bickering and no quorum among the referees!

WASHINGTON (AP) — The national Democratic party wants campaign finance regulators to investigate whether Sen. John McCain would violate money-in-politics laws by withdrawing from the primary election's public finance system.

McCain, who had been entitled to $5.8 million in federal funds for the primary, has decided to bypass the system so he can avoid spending limits between now and the GOP's national convention in September.

Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason notified McCain last week that he can only withdraw from public financing if he answers questions about a campaign loan and obtains approval from four members of the six-member commission. Such approval is doubtful in the short term because the commission has four vacancies and cannot convene a quorum


The scrutiny on McCain is ... going to be relentless.

Isikoff (Newsweek) reports that the firewall-of-unknowing is not quite so airtight as simply getting up and saying, (paraphrase) 'No one brought their concerns to me'. (via Ambinder).

Ralph Nadar Has the Courage To Do What Ron Paul Won't

It's easy to lambaste Ralph "I'm still here" Nadar.

Truth be known, it might be good for the pendulum to swing away from the stultifying two-party system in America, for a time - on both sides of the isle.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Is it time for Bill to break out his Sax?

Watching Ted Kennedy serenade the good folks of Laredo was a treat.

Perhaps, Bill can gussy up a version of Cielito Lindo, not to be outdone? (.... canta y no llores ...)

Ohio Coal

Who is going to straight talk the voters of Ohio about their coal addiction? ("Live Earth: The Weeks After, The 50 Dirtiest Power Plants, Part II" "Live Earth: The Weeks After, The 50 Dirtiest Power Plants)

The wobbly energy policies of all of the Dem candidates could get some hard-core testing there.

Ohio is 91% filthy coal energy (if I remember right, the dirtiest coal - bituminous? - is elsewhere, just to be fair).

Obama - Just Another Politician?


AS is back and Dishing about Hillary (who else?), as job one, so there is still an open door to having a look at Obama's weaknesses.

The latest? Obama wants to win, just as much as any politician. At one time he was saying something about those willing to say anything to win an election, now he's within millimeters of deliberate distortion himself, with these fliers that are going about in Ohio about NAFTA, apparently (unfortunately, I haven't seen the fliers, so ...).

More, just as a matter of accuracy:
Did Hillary Clinton Really Support NAFTA? Aides, Biographers Say No
He appears to be backpedaling on his Cuba position. One can see a hint that the vaunted politics of conviction is shifting toward ... calculation? Clearly, George Will is worried enough about Florida, that he's pushing Florida's governor to be a choice for VP.


Clinton's posture on NAFTA has, so far, been more nuanced than Barack's. She's taking on the sovereignty issues directly in these trade agreements. Meanwhile, as I recall, it was Edwards who was pointing out that Obama has just part of the story on Peru, a deal that he voted for in the Senate (I'm not sure if Hillary did, but she may well have). There is more than enforcement, environment, and labor standards at issue ... I wouldn't mention it, except BO appears convinced that Peru was a good deal (not a flawed compromise, but a good deal).

IN THE LAST ANALYSIS - Obama CAN be stopped

Just keep in mind, while reading AS (and many others who have panned Clinton's team), that the more it looks like a Clinton failure, the less it looks like an Obama victory. I think there is some non-trivial measure of truth to that, because Obama could be stopped ...

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Hillary Strategy


Readers will recall that I promised a while back that I was not going to do more of this, but here's another look.

For whatever reasons, the Clinton campaign has been reluctant to attack Obama's "Hope message" head on, preferring instead to try to reframe the discussion as a choice between "speeches" and "solutions". (The GOP, of course, have already taken their first shots across the bow ...).

Here's what they can do, with only a few punches pulled.

  1. 1. If you need extra inspiration, go to church. In Washington, we roll up our sleeves, we don't pray to our leader(s). In other words, re-articulate that progressivism, true progressivism, isn't captive to "the urgency of now", however that phrase is being used currently.
  2. 2. The page, the page is already turned, and we don't need a fancy page turner. Washington is going to change, with a Democratic President, because it is highly likely that the Democrats will retain majorities, or build on them, in the Congress. What is most needed is someone with reach and breadth who can seize that opportunity and turn it into big change, not the small, calculated changes of mini-healthcare reform.
  3. 3. Hope, concrete hope, needs a partner and there is no partner for hope across the isle. The idea that we are playing for some grand Reagan-like governing coalition is going to leave a lot of people bitter, when it doesn't work out that way. (It's a tough sell, but it could be made to stick). Change doesn't come from the bottom-up, it comes from the spirit that moves us to do the right thing, to accept and follow those leaders who insist on it and to fight those who do not.

Last, they can change their rhetoric from "reality" and "reality-check" and "get real", to "real people".


"Men cannot live on dreams alone. Don't confuse what you already have within yourselves with what you need from your government and from your next President. Some look out and see a world in need of hope. I look out and see millions of people already brimming with hope and ready to roll up their sleeves, too.

  • If you lose half your pension and you are holding on for medicare for yourself and your spouse, do you need more hope, or do you need action to cover the cracks in the system?
  • When you come home at the end of the day and face your children knowing that they will have greater national debt than any prior generation, do you want hope, or do you want action?
  • When your country's interests are threatened from abroad, do you want hope or do you want someone ready enough to not be fooled and to deal with it?
  • When you have cancer, do you want hope or do you want a government who has new ideas to speed the pace of technological discovery in the 21st century?
  • When you file for bankruptcy, do you want hope or do you want a legislative body that is going to work with you to get you past a tight period?"
  • When you see that even poorer nations than the US provide quality healthcare to everyone, do you want more hope or do you want to get upset?
  • When the US falls behind in equal rights - for gays and lesbians and women and transgendered - and attacks science, do you want more hope or do you want a President ready to deal on day one?
  • [you get the picture: When your car won't start, do you want hope or do you want someone to help you get it fixed]

Forgive me, Obama supporters...

The rest is "re-introducing" Hillary, as a person, who has a biography outside of "the Clinton years" and "endorsed by the New York Times". It seems silly at the end of the campaign, but it's never too late to do the right thing. Plenty of time, still, in fact.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Storm Clouds on the Horizon?

One episode, well, it's an issue, but one that can probably be got over. Two?

Ambinder, continuing the best election coverage around, quite possibly, notes that there are more non-Obama Obama words.

This is serious s--t. When I remarked that the unevenness in Obama's speeches, that AS remarked in his Atlantic cover, even, ought to be addressed as possibly an important tell, I never thought they might get "fixed" by pulling in content from other places.

All the doubts about Obama may come rushing in.

SHELBY STEELE: My gut feeling is that he's going to have a difficulty-- a difficult time doing that [winning the nomination]. The reason I think that we don't yet know him. We don't yet quite know. What his deep abiding convictions are. And he seems to have, you know, almost in a sense kept them concealed. And a part of the I think infatuation with Obama is because he's something of an invisible man. He's a kind of a projection screen. And you sort of see more your — the better side of yourself when you look at Obama than you see actually Barack Obama.

Why the Google Generation booed - it's widespread

From BBC:
"They are post-modern, eclectic, Google-generationists, Wikipediasts, who don't necessarily recognise the concepts of authorships/ownerships."

Research indicates that plagiarism - whether done as deliberate cheating or not - is widespread in UK universities.

Not to nitpick, but some of the Obamites just don't quite "get it", it seems, or are trying to play it down.

It's one thing to adopt the viewpoint of another person, as Hillary seemingly does below (Edwards and Obama copied her from the first debate when she spoke about the need to be unified to fight the healthcare fight, rather than argue details of this plan or that plan, too).

It's quite different to use the actual words and passages from another speaker or recycle anecdotes as authentically your own, especially when you are holding yourself out as the inspirational speaker of a generation (and that's not an overstatement, if you listen to Caroline Kennedy's endorsement of Obama, in which she basically says just that).

Everyone is influenced by their environment. What is truly original is limited. But even singers who cover other artists songs try to re-invigorate them in ways that make them their own, not repeat them rote.


Hillary dresses in black, not fiesta wear (it could be why she keeps just missing). She also looks like she has two butterflies on her neck, in the magic of Television. Barack, who made nearly a million dollars last year, needs some better ties in general ...

Openers: Bland.

8:20 Meet with Castro II:

Obama seems oblivious that some leaders would seek to use meetings for mere propaganda purposes and that he might look like the French, running about meeting with all the world's dictators...

No one mentions communism by name. Bizarre.

8:30 How manage the economy different:

Obama feels people's pain. And?

I still don't understand Hilary's idea of not giving tax breaks to those who ship jobs overseas. I understand the sentiment, but how does that work in practice?

8:32 Stop the raids?

Hilary hits with "Not the America I know", but might have done just as well with a short, sweet answer than the long list.

Obama: I worked on "comprehensive immigration reform" (isn't that phrase forbidden yet by the DNC, as inert as "S-chip")? 1. "Fix the legal immigration system" is a blow at the GOP, who have yet to say those words 2. "Work with Mexico" - (hint: they've been doing really well without 'American leadership', did you know?)

8:38 The Fence as an issuse: Sovereignty OR family, property rights, walk or drive ...

[Note to CNN, the border is only 50% of the problem, at MOST. The largest number of "illegals" come here legally.]

Hillary: a physical border might be appropriate, but the Bush administration is overboard (including filing eminent domain, etc.).

Obama: consult with local communities - something that Bush Admin is not good at. Short and sweet.

8:44 A bi-lingual nation - is there a limit

Hillary: common, unifying language. She has a strong record on "language nondiscrimination", but didn't do a good job showcasing her well thought out positions.

Obama: you don't get paid for a second language in America, do you?

[Commercial break]

8:52 CNN's lazy play-the-candidates-against-each-other routine, so that you don't have to ask tough questions yourself

Hillary goes for "differences" and how we illustrate them to the voters. You know, she really isn't good at tooting her own horn. She seems unwilling to simply say that she has more and better experience. Wraps up with "Actions speak louder than words", which is ungrounded. She doesn't talk about how "solutions" are part of her view of "liberalism" as "pragmatism", rolling up your sleeves and doing something.

Obama has rehearsed his list of achievements and runs with it. Goes after the "Lets get real", while Hillary missed a shot at "Change we can believe in", for instance.

8:59 Duval Patrick - plagiarism

Obama: 2 lines in 'not a lot of speeches', a national co-chairs "gave me the line". Oh, my! This isn't "silly season" stuff. That's double-speak.

unlike Hillary, toots his horn: admits that some of his speeches are pretty good.

9:02 "Not Change you can Believe in. Change you can Xerox". Good line, but comes off as harsh. Needs a lead in, rather than use as a throw-away.

When Hillary touts herself, she tends to get self-deserving sounding, somehow, talking about "some of us who have been fighting for this [healthcare] for a long time". Sadly, the electorate will give you a good grade for that, but will not necessarily elect you for it.

9:05 Important "issue areas" is Obama's soaring rhetoric for healthcare. Repeats his disputable $2,500 per year claim.

[Commercial break]

9:12 One is ready to be Commander-and-Chief

[CNN are ... like grave keepers, when it comes to running real debates..., yes?]

Hillary: need to start a good design with an attempt at universal healthcare
Obama: how enforced? (Hillary still leaves this point unanswered, through two debates, now, for anyone with a game-card).

Hillary: everyone has to participate, just like Medicare and Social Security
Obama: gaming the system penalties - I would have liked to hear some more about the specifics of that, this second time around (are they really workable? how?)

revenon a nos moutons ...

Hillary: I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready. Can't you see I'm ready?
Obama: "Number one job to keep people safe" - I REALLY wish that he'd get away from this stock GOP phrase and bogus framework, that we can guarantee our safety. He got rid of "lesson of 9/11", now he has to do it with this. He should do it without being prompted, at this point, too. "Use military wisely" is a much more well put point.

9:23 Running against Decorated War Hero - The question of judgment, including Hillary's "Willing suspension of disbelief". Is Iraq better off today because of the surge.

Hillary: Uh-oh, she's going for the stump speech answer ... "A few decisions in a less than complete way" ... The GOP will run with those "small" victories as large ones, yes?

"Pulling my sleeve, my husband is there for the third time, bring him home." She buried the lead.

Obama: "Indisputable that we've seen a drop in violence". [ 3rd cav out of Ft. Hood - nice local touch!]. His argument that he was once right and that will dominate the debate with the GOP - it's kinda like his other arguments, he might just "get away" with them, yes?

No mention of dealing with 'quagmire costs'. Obama does come in with economic costs, putting it in terms of values, choices. Not a bad effort, yes?

[Commercial break]

9:33 Secrecy and its overuse, budgetary

Obama: "Google for government" with Coburn. Transparency push is o.k. McCain is saying he will veto all earmarks, however...

Hillary: Makes a good case that she has fiscal responsibility street cred, even over McCain.

9:38 Super-delegates

Hillary: they will sort themselves out - misses an opportunity to make broder points
Obama: voters should count for something - takes up 2x more time to get in his "theme points"

9:40 Leadership in times of crisis

Obama: skips in the question in favor of a bio-episode, an introduce-the-candidate spot [note to self: how long was Barack a community organizer? There is something not right with that ...]
Hillary: oh snap, Hillary nails it with her "San Antone" story. Mentions her faith. That'll rock the house. Gives big props to Barack, too. If there was "a closer" THAT was it.

CNN successfully presents another set of questions that really don't do the job. The "hard questions" are almost all left on the table, yes?