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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Conversation Time at Kodak

The questions were somewhat better, tonight. Still, no "vision" for what "restore our standing" really means.


The country is ripe for a revolutionary change in foreign policy, I think. The door is wide open to a new doctrine on how to handle the perceived Hegemony of the U.S. in the world and the decline of the U.S.'s relative standing as large nations like China and India and Brazil develop, over the next generations, in the context of combating global "jihad", as well.


At the risk of being too contrary, the lore that the tax cuts all favored the rich is ... not completely true. Facts are stubborn things - careful! (Bush actually took people off the tax rolls, too...)


When Carville said that the good news is that this is the Democrats' election to talk themselves out of. The bad news is that they are perfectly capable of doing that.

When Obama asserted - and Hillary agreed - that the Democrats have a better understanding of what is going on in Iraq than do the Republicans, I winced. I continue to see the ideological approach of either side as running hard up against an approach based solely on the facts-on-the-ground. One wouldn't think it, but it is possible, with plenty of time yet to run, that this issue is still to be hotly contested, despite 2006.

liveblogging the liveblogging

9.40 pm. "Right on Day One." Bulls-eye. He's pulling ahead, it seems to me.

No, that was a tip to the short stop.

Better, a line drive (short-and-sweet): "Now, we know that, when we run against the Republicans, this issue is going to come up - maybe again and again. You just heard Hillary talk for 4 minutes. Are you convinced? I can give my response to the Republicans in one sentence, "I was against it, and for the right reasons.".

9:50 The Big Finish

Barack seemingly wins the exchange, putting up a refreshingly authentic and wholly convincing testimony that he is in it for others, which layers in nicely with his far-reaching vision about how to restore trust/accountability (and action) in government.

Clinton comes back with a strong finish, projecting image of a Party Statesman and leader, declaring that "We will all be united" so a Democrat can win.

Hillary's open-dialog plug is extremely important.

She is trying very hard to use her 'menu-list' approach to counter his powerful inspirational approach. Just as AS is thrilled when Obama mentions gay people, others are 'touched' when someone talks about their issue, takes their question and shows some knowledge of it.


I'm sick of them both now (at least until tomorrow). I have a growing appreciation that Obama is a true people person, not a political-people-person. Clinton is too, in her way that relates to a far, far more complex inner dialog with herself and her role.

The case for Clinton is that you vote once and forget about it. If you vote for Obama, you have to monitor the situation and you might even have to get involved, interested, and invested - horrors!

The Daily Obama

If you were reading The Daily Obama, today, you found some evidence of my old saw, "The Democrats cannot be trusted to govern, and the Republicans cannot be trusted to lead."

too stupid to realize that we've got our Reagan, the reincarnate of JFK, staring us in the face;

Is that fair?

The GOP rejected Reagan, didn't they, in favor of Nixon (1968). Nixon got a hellava lot done, until he went to jail. Not that Reagan didn't emulate Nixon, using the FBI to ... track, er... intimidate, witnesses to the confirmation hearings of Rehnquist, who went on to be a deciding factor in the 2000 We're-In-Charge SCOTUS vote that put Bush-43 up to be ... King.

So, pardon, but prudence demands a really good whiff of the Beaujolais to see how it will season, especially when there is a Bordeaux on the table ...
And the Reagan Devolution? Look what it spawned in its wake. The Abramoff-Norquist-Reed nexus, including a group lead by Norquist that tries to get most everything named after Gip. The unhealthy mix of religion and politics epitomized with Delay smiling for his mug shot and hoping that people would see Jesus in his visage ... And perhaps the most far reaching, the ideological assault on the courts and the DOJ, in which nominees are tracked by whether they "belong" to the Federalist Society or not ...

And look what happened when all the GOP boosters made the case that Bush, who was getting home-schooled in Texas by the likes of George Schultz, at the time, would be a non-risky executive, because he'd have good advisers around him. Turns out, he didn't listen much, except maybe to the dear Harriet Miers. (Does Obama listen too much).

So, pardon, but prudence demands a really good whiff of the Beaujolais to see how it will season, especially when there is a Bordeaux on the table ...

Keeper of the Keys

This is as good as the quip AS published that included Rudy mowing lawns and the ghost of the late Ronald Reagan, from R. Stein:

John McCain and Mitt Romney played their Western shootout against a backdrop of "Air Force One," while being watched by "The Terminator" sitting next to the 100-year-old lady from "Titanic," smiling sweetly as all the candidates pledged their fealty to the ghost of The Gipper.

Anderson Cooper seemed awestruck by having an actual Reagan relic on the table in front of him, a leather-bound diary from which he solemnly quoted to the Republican hopefuls.

The scene could have used some Mel Brooks pizzazz, but it made up with non-sequiturs what was lacking in wit.

By the way, a lot reckon that Rudy ran such a terrible campaign. Myself, I think he did smart.

He got lots of money. He avoided the cold in Iowa and the rigor of New Hampshire. He spent the winter in Florida and got a tan. He did his patriotic duty for the GOP, who needed to field a warm body. He did fine (for him).

While They Were Scoring Points About Staying 100 Years

After last week's articles on the Army's brain-drain, this week Dana Priest writes about a yet-to-be-released study of the rise in suicides (Soldier Suicides at Record Level).

No questions about that.
No questions about how Romney is going to pay for a 100,000 increase in the standing army strength. [Are we expecting more Iraqi-type conflicts during his administration, or are we trying to fight the last war?]

Could Florida Flip?

WSJ notes that winds of change may rearrange the sands:

Republicans have controlled Florida politics for a decade by knitting religious and social conservatives in the northern panhandle and Cuban Americans in the south with moderate suburbanites across the center.

...indicators make clear that Republicans are likely to face a tough contest to retain Florida this fall.

"Small Government Conservative"


For those paying attention, Bush-Cheney continue to show by their actions that small government conservative means ... Big Boots Executives.

In his recent signing statement, Bush continues to put his actions beyond the reach of the law, even. (And when 'caught', in one fashion or the other, he wants safe-harbors and retro-active immunity).

This week King George "The Decider" is throwing out the laws of the People restricting Iraqi bases and provisions to get at oversight/detection of fraud, waste, and abuse in Iraqi/Afghanistan projects (including provisions to protect whistle-blowers).

For a President with such a low approval rating, it's hard to imagine the foundations for such brazen behavior.

With impeachment on people's minds, still (and rightly so), how much nose-thumbing will Congress take? It's astounding, really.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Why McCain Disgusts Me


He's using the phrase "bring them home with honor", in short.

  1. They are already coming home with honor, Senator. (It's not a Vietnam replay).
  2. They've completed the missions asked, with positive after-action or not.
  3. They've done more than what was bargained for (viz. stop loss and extended tours).

We're all ready to bring them home at the soonest possible point of minimal inconvenience, to coin an out-of-the-quagmire phrase.
There is no "military victory" to be "won" singlehandedly in Iraq. We're all ready to bring them home at the soonest possible point of minimal inconvenience, to coin an out-of-the-quagmire phrase.

The idea of staying on indefinitely, at great expense - in both lives and treasure, in pursuit of an open-ended notion of "not lose" is ... not leadership.

John McCain certainly isn't the worst man in the world or even in the top 10 in his party. But, he's building support for a continuance on the same sort of false bunk that Bush did.

The bottomline: we sent them in the wrong way, without a vision that such a hugely disruptive action might well require a broad coalition of support and the fiscal support from other nations to sustain a prolonged engagement, if needs be. The fact that they were sent in the wrong way means that there is diminished chance that they can come out the "right way".

AS thinks McCain was weak.

I disagree. No one will remember last night (Simi Valley). It was just that bland.

Huckabee is the only one with a little touch of Reagan magic, I thought (and Ron Paul had all the raucous applause lines). By the way, I remember it that Romney was for timetables, even if he wasn't for publishing them or for a date certain. Anyone with a mind for economics and accountability/risk taking would be, right? Remember how the GOP all pressed Clinton mercilessly for timetables? I do.

McCain, Juiced and Juiced

The knives are juicing for McCain, after the Florida Republicans juiced him. Hewitt's math says that Super-Tuesday may not end it, one way or the other. On that score, the debate promises to be lively, even without Rudy's fine one-liners ("If Ronald Reagan were on the stage, he'd be in one of Mitt's attack ads.").

After notably spurning the freakishness of it last year, McCain will also go to CPAC this year (Feb 5) (to frolic with the likes of Ann Coulter? I just want one picture, of that, okay.).

AS's reader writes:

[McCain] rambled through, grousing yet triumphant, middle fingers raised to Rumsfeld on the right and the New York Times on the left. Even if you dislike McCain, you have to admit: It was a glorious moment for him.

That romp through Baghdad to declare it safe was 'glorious'? I'm sorry, but "I have no confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld" is hardly a high-flying rebuke, even in Republican-speak.

Obama's Bully Pulpit For Gay Equality

Here are a few YouTubes of Obama's public, proud and often risky defenses of gay and lesbian equality - in front of non-gay audiences and not prompted by questions. - AS

Forgive me if I spit up my coffee.

Are there any outrageous looking 70s photos that might scare hispanic voters that we should know about, before we go to the general? I don't care .. just get them out there, now, not later: keep it real.
Risky defense? Since when did AS come around to this? As I remember, just last summer, we were all encouraged (by him) to 'triangulate', drop the "T" from LGBT, and 'do what we can, rather than what we must'.

Why the expedient dodge behind Melissa Etheridge? None of the Clinton promises were anything that AS wanted anyway, including hate-crimes law expansion, since they were all part of leftist high-kicking, right? How disingenuous to use her words, to associate with them, in support of Obama (do the means justify those ends?).

In the world bigger than ... viewpoint, Obama has been making concerted strides, which is a consistency worth mention, even if the remarks are cursory. Hillary's have been fine too, albeit somewhat more episodic (see below), more framed. In 1992, when Bill took up the rhetoric, ... well, it was a lot more risky back then, n'est pas, both in terms of the times and what we now see as the pushback.

"Victimology" is a notion that AS has probably carried way too far, academically too far, professional too far. Although tidy in theory, why do so many people choose NOT to live their life on the canvas that AS paints? Some people do not want to be invisibly black or invisibly gay or dismissive of oppression as always aberrant and always 'in the past'. They are not all toxic or simply deluded. Nor is their attitude particularly leftist, although that is where many make a home (rather than enter into a "self-defeating" association with the GOP's principles).

Same with "self-empowerment". People want a fair shake, or they shake 'the system' itself.

Mukasey - Bush Team Player

"Doing the least he can do", comes to mind to describe new leadership at the DOJ.

Senate Republicans appear ready to try to carve out a 'safe harbor' for Bush-Cheney's past transgressions (the circumstances were exigent, apparently). I wonder how the Foreign Relations Committee feels about that ... ?

Meanwhile, the rest looks like delay of game.

The courts haven't ruled on Article-2 powers (the 'war powers' that Bush wants when he classifies people as non-war/warrior enemies). Mukasey is waiting to find out what is/was on the destroyed tapes. The Senate hasn't confirmed the next string of deputies. The list goes on. At this rate, the timeline for a Bush indictment is past his Presidential term.

Giuliani Gives 9/11 to McCain

It's supposed to happen today, in front of Nancy Reagan, McCain's biggest supporter, at the "Reagan Love-In" in California.

'STAR WARS' is real and necessary, John. Trust me.*

Questions that won't be asked:
  1. Will you pardon Bush-Cheney, if elected? Will your CIA tape interrogations?
  2. Do you believe our dominance strategy in space is stabilizing or destabilizing?
  3. Do you believe that the U.S. stockpiles of biological weapons are safely kept or at risk? What can you promise the American public on that topic, tonight?
  4. How will you work to prepare the American people for a catastrophic event on US soil, either man made or otherwise? What will be your message, from day one, to Americans? Is it just to watch the yellow-orange-red attack-o-meter?
  5. Do you believe in a continuation oft he Bush posture on global warming, that no nations should "get a free ride", so that, Kyoto, for instance, had to be jettisoned?

*"Reagan wholeheartedly embraced the Star Wars concept for ideological reasons; he persuaded the people of its necessity by tapping into America's "civil religion" rooted in 19th-century Protestant beliefs in American exceptionalism and a desire to make the U.S. an invulnerable sanctuary." -Francis Fitzgerald

Romney at the 2-Minute Warning, No Time Outs

Team Romney. He really does have a Saturday Evening Post family picture, yes? Tagg's kid is as cute as a button. If only he had a gay son, too ...

AS has a really good roundup on Romney.

Of all the species of Republicans, the Rockefeller-Republicans are the ones most easily sidled up to (I think).

So when AS concludes that, "Something has gone seriously wrong with the right when John McCain is not regarded as a conservative", I tend to think that something is more seriously askew when Romney felt he had to go so far to the religious (Dobson) Right to get the nomination, before coming back to the left in the general, that he ended up lampooning himself. (Although no one really knows the "real" Mitt Romney, except Mitt - God knows, the editors of the National Review thought he was ... swell, so ...).


McCain just isn't a loyalist, in a party that copiously rewards auto-matrons.

Just an eye grabber, insurgency alone won't seal the deal for McCain, who makes one just plain uncomfortable on social issues (probably because he is himself about them).

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Little Havana Goes For McCain

The Weekly Standard shows why (the Repulbican-registered ones liked that McCain actually fought communists).

Still waiting to see if it was Miami area that was strong for Clinton or not, as a referendum on Obama's Cuban policy...

Clinton Takes Massive Florida Prize, Decisively

She did pretty well across the board, from the early breakdowns. Some people think of Florida as the 'old people's vote'. I know FL politics like the craters on the moon, so ... But, if true, then maybe AS will temper his risible dismissal of "Virginia Slims", when he sees the size of the prize it can reel in.


The projections of that to Super-Tuesday are complicated, because the Kennedy's are lending substantial name recognition to Obama - possibly bigger than even Oprah.

It will matter. The only question is how much:

It's McCain-Huckabee

On the heels of Romney's loss tongiht, my bet would be that the Dems will face McCain-Huckabee, afterall (in the unlikely event that McCain can stomach it).

They both have loose mouths*. They are both incredibly vulnerable.

notice, in the context of that article, that Halperin's post-mortem on Rudy "Julie-Annie" - that pronunciation was starting to drive me up the wall - includes this should-have-done:

5. Cultivated members of the national press and tried to get to know (and be known by) them.

... hummmm ... "oo, oo, oo, what a friendly press corps can do for you"

The truth is, I don't think that Rudy ever really thought of himself as President and was surprised to find himself in front-runner status for so long. Now, he gets to hand off to McCain, who got to dodge the scrutiny, after letting his campaign implode in a ball of staff firings (yes, it could happen when he's executive, too, mark my words).

[*On that score, I just heard McCain promise a crowd today that the lives sacrificed in Iraq would be in vain. Of course, he meant, NOT in vain. "My friends", there is going to be a lot of that.]


From the WaPo, via Romney campaign, what McCain is doing for Patriotism, most recently:

[A] recent study by the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute and the liberal advocacy group Public Citizen found that McCain has more lobbyists raising funds for his presidential bid than do any of his rivals. He has 32 "bundlers" of donations who are lobbyists. Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) is the closest to him with 29 lobbyist bundlers, followed by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) with 18.

McCain's campaign has also been guided by lobbyists. Davis, the campaign manager, is a former lobbyist who represented major telecommunications companies. The campaign's senior adviser is Charles R. Black Jr., chairman of BKSH & Associates, which represents drug companies, an oil company, an automaker, a telecommunications company, defense contractors and the steel industry, among others.

Story also at Kos, in more detail.

"Victory" Is Not a Mission Statement


In a crude sense, military engagements all have "victory" as their objective. But, in more defined terms, missions have well expressed objectives that are time-bound and resource constrained.

When those objectives cannot be met, then all the whistling for "victory" isn't going to change the basic configuration.

McCain's notion that we must be in Iraq until the last al-qa'ida is killed or captured is an absurd mission objective. (As if there were a little green light that was going to pop-up and say, "There are no al-qa'ida left in the country. Feel free to move about the cabin.").

If he wanted to straight-talk it, to really level, he'd say that we need to hand-hold the Iraqis, until they can occupy Iraq. In particular, until their army is available and politicians are accountable.

Of course, that amount of truth won't keep getting you $150 billion more each year from the next generation(s) ...

The Secret Life of Libertarians (all 5%)

AS finds a "Lieber"-conservative drawn to Obama:

Indeed, several of his recent speeches - his Iowa victory, a speech on MLK Jr. Day, and the South Carolina victory - have given me goosebumps and caused me to swell with pride at being an American.

Maybe - just maybe - the 'right' is tired of God, Guns, and Gays. Florida will tell us, especially if McCain wins and the party wings start to molt.

[The rest of the reader's comments show just how deluded the libertarian wing is about the Conservative Party ... the GOP believe in Federalism, as if. Sure, they believe in Federalism, when it suits them.]

Against Traditional Role Models

Edith Wilson ran the government, more or less, while her husband was ill.

Bill and Hillary have both had active and political public lives.

Somehow, that is negative.

Why can't we deal with two people who are independent, sharp, public, and filled with aspirations for more of the same?

What is AS's role model, when he cites this? I mean Bill already walks a few steps behind. What are the unwritten rules that AS - and many - seem to want?

I tell you, the vehemence behind the opinions on the matter suggest that some people really want a silent "wife" "at home" and a man at "the office" "at work", so to speak.

Don't believe me? Check out Romney's comment about Bill 'at home' with 'nothing to do'. People thought it was funny, but I detected ... the old school.


I don't think so. But the punditry are well beyond the pale. [AS is hypocrite for engaging in the very distortion that 'his candidate' rejects, citing that outrageous piece by Dick Morris, now of FOX.]

Can you believe David Brooks summoning up "toxicity" to describe the Clinton campaign? Blessed mother of hyperbole, I can't imagine what he'd come up with if we applied his standard to what McCain and Romney are dishing up now?
Can you believe David Brooks summoning up "toxicity" to describe the Clinton campaign? Blessed mother of hyperbole, I can't imagine what he'd come up with if we applied his standard to what McCain and Romney are dishing up now? Where was he when Romney was using 'lies and distortion' to sum up "Hillarycare" as 'big government control of healthcare'?

How many times have you heard the "fairy tale" quote completely out of context? Count 'em. I'm up to five in prime time, just in the past three days.


The Obama camp is deflecting the Clinton criticisms because others are rallying to him to do it for him. Apart from his reply to the fairy-tale comment, which I thought was brilliant, the rest from him has been unimpressive.

If anything, the episode reveals that he can get thrown off message, pretty easily. Others have been better when things go off-script, so to speak.

The GOP are certainly not going to give Obama a free-pass to define himself. His righteous line about distortion is going to fall on partisan ears, not accommodating ones. And, once it gets going, the media are going to get tamed. No number of calls from Howard Dean (or whomever) are going to get radio ads pulled.


Had he lived in ordinary times, Bush might have been a contender. He certainly has learned how to pressure the Congress, anyway.


I don't think that Bush has read the Dole-Shalala recommendations.

They call for expanding government health care coverage (TRI-CARE), something the GOP is fighting with its other hydra heads. They recommend expanding disability coverage, which can be quite expensive.

They also call for implementing "recovery coordinators" to help people navigate the complex world of medical cost payment. Who knew that the system wasn't 'the best in the world'?

The structural costs of hanging out in Iraq on Uncle Sam's dime, until no al-qa'ida are present, are not trivial.


Call your Congressmen, if you want change even before day-one next January. The current Bush-led bill is being held up.

Ditching the President's legal analysis is a vote for the rule of law, in a way. It says that the Office of the President can't just institute what programs it wants, under the cloud of secrecy, and then come back to the Congress for "rubber stamp".

These are always touchy issues of the balance between Executive and Legislative. Robert Rubin took flak for out-maneuvering congress to shore up Mexico, during their crisis. So, an unburdened Executive is not always a bad thing. Still, the Bush-Cheney folks seem to have made a point or principle out of that style of management, not reserving it. So, maybe, it is time to "just say no" to all that.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Bushed failed to spare the nation today by giving the SOTU at 1:oo pm, EST.

350+ days is enough to do a lot more damage.

Even as we speak, Bush's FCC is screwing up the D-block auction, from what I can gather.

AS's Gaydar Interrupted by Hillary Hate

The 1.2 mega-watt strength of AS's gaydar comes up with this theory without facts:

In fact, they have often done the opposite, using the fear of gay people as a way to triangulate for their own purposes. That matters to me. It should matter to gays and straights who care about equality under the law. On policy, there is no difference between Clinton and Obama. In terms of character, there is all the difference in the world.

When have "The Clintons" ever used fear of gays to their own purposes? Bill Clinton declared the first National Gay Pride day and opened the doors of the administration to gays and lesbians.

Like everyone else in politics who is running a full-spectrum campaign, gay issues are non-issue issues. In other words, they are not a "winning" issue, nor are they a technical issue, so the candidates are all more-or-less neutral, which is the rational political calculation.


Few in the GOP are likely to make the gay issue an issue-issue, this go-round. From their perspective, the political (and court) battles are largely won and there is no need, except in Florida, where there is a new Constitutional Amendment drive after most of the other States have already done something ... Still, we'll see how it goes down in Ohio and the other swing states, where the GOP may run "core values" campaigns (something tells me that the GOP might still give it the old try, despite everything).

So, there is not a lot of courage or character merely to bring it up. Keeping it visibly on the table, however, is laudable, since that is required now (an agent of change). Those comfortable with less visibility might be criticized for being outdated, but not without character, without more evidence.

[update: by the way, I have a new name for my secret plan to have 100,000 new gay registered voters in Ohio in 2008: "Operation Rainbow's End".]


As to who is politically right, we'll find out the in the general election.

McCain will not take chances for gay citizens during the general election. The so-called man-of-integrity has been a complete jerk on employment non-discrimination in the armed forces, a.k.a. repealing DADT.

Romney's worse, because gays don't deserve ... a human right to a family, rights and responsibilities and privileges pertaining thereto, right?


Hillary has offered up some specific ideas about what to do with DOMA. Now, if you are watching, those are fighting words, too. Why? Well, King George "The Decider" has, himself, said that they will mobilize the Constitutional Amendment crowd, just as soon as someone makes an assault on DOMA.

Secrets and FISA

We fought the mafia without a special, federal, super-secret program for eavesdropping. They knew their phones lines could be wiretapped, right ...

Why is al-qa'ida different, Senator Hatch?

Doesn't add up.

Sure, there are elements of unraveling a network / ring that are unique, but I cannot see how their secrecy requires even more secrecy from us/US, across-the-board. Can you? Certainly nothing to do with telecommunications companies, at least ...

The Lions of Liberalism Stir


Offering a bold vision in which lions lay down with lambs in American politics, Barack Obama accepted the endorsement of the Kennedy clan today, with fanfare.

Obama's record would be hard to describe as "bold", any more than Bill Clinton's could be adequately described as ...steadfast, on some issues.
Ted Kennedy always stirs the spirit. Like a Viking Chef, he can still turn on the flames -- his floor speech on behalf of the Matthew Shepard Act comes to mind from just last year. It was moving to see him onstage, endorsing a candidate who, in so many ways, is the embodiment of Kennedy-style outreach for 40 years.


The problem in America is our politics. Both parties are peddling that now, except Hillary, who thinks that the wrong policies are the problem in America. Romney, for his part, thinks he can run, like Reagan, as a do-gooder Governor who wants to change "government in Washington" (even GOP government has failed). McCain is well positioned to run on that platform, because of his 'outsider' politics inside the Republican party.

Politics doesn't change. I distrust that message to the core.

Still, no one is immune to the vigorous message and the sense of hope, the changing of the tides (even Disraeli had to create his own political movement ...). On the whole, I'm more evenly tempered. I understand the emotional cycles that drive candidacies (like stocks?).


What does change is the people in politics, the people who are willing to take the risks to fight the good fight. On that score, so far, I think the candidates are fairly evenly matched. Obama's record would be hard to describe as "bold", any more than Bill Clinton's could be adequately described as ...steadfast, on some issues.

However, Obama does seems on the verge of changing what people think of themselves (not quite there yet), and perhaps that will change what they expect of others.

That could "change politics" for a time, until 'the system' moves back into equilibrium.

Monday After South Carolina

S. Carolina has come and gone, with AS swooning like a schoolgirl ("Yes, we can" ...). It was clear (to me) that Obama was going to win, so this is not one I watched so closely.

It's funny (to me) that AS is ready to replace one cult of personality (viz., they way he describes the Clintons), with another, because one could make a case that Obama's ungrounded message of hope inheres in himself as the locus of a change.


One of AS's readers thinks she has "evolved" past "The Clintons". You can take a so-called hard look at the Clintons all you want, but the bottomline is that Bill didn't betray the public trust. Nor has Hillary, during her time in the Senate.

With the notable exception of George H.W. Bush during his term can one say the same of any of the GOP Presidents in recent memory?

Almost all the "trust issues" that AS relies on are style points and issues related to getting and holding power. The rest are debates about political possibilities - what people used to mean when they said, "politician".

Friday, January 25, 2008

Prediction: AS Will Abandon Obama Within 15 months

AS writes:

The queer left jumps yet another shark.

One reads what these folks are trying to do with their funny string of letters, and you just know that AS is going to abandon Obama after 15 months in office, giver or take. There is no ideological kinship there, other than to oppose everything Clinton.

AS Clinton-Apoplexy Meter

I'm not sure why AS didn't just blog for the Obama campaign, eh?

After a prolific day, I'd guess that we've topped all previous one-day records for Clinton-bashing.

AS elevated Bill Clinton's words to "shameless" today. Shameless? You suggest that someone is getting a "free pass" on scrutiny of their war-vote record and that is "shameless"? True, he took liberty with the Reagan comments, but was hardly shameless with it.

Yes, Andrew, it is the 1990s again, when one has the liberty from the GOP to say anything about the Clintons that you want, with near impunity.

[Here's a test for those who think I'm just making it up: will Pagilia pen a cutting and bitter exposé on McCain's faulty psychological relationship with women and his legendary temper, one similar to the screed she 'got away with' in her piece on Hillary?]

Anyway, here's the list:

Hillary Clinton's New Black Friend Bill and Dick "35 Years Of Experience" Another Twist Hillary's Big Balls Bill's Latest Swipe "Senseless On Both Counts" Thank You For Voting Quote For The Day II Oh Goodie Are You Kidding Me? Clintonlash Watch Her Husband Is Doing It For Her The Voice Of Clintonism

PAC Pelosi Does As She Is Told


Based on the reports, the government is now in the business of subsidizing and guaranteeing mortgage loans of up to a whopping $730,000.

A program that started to help people get their first home in America is now all about a bailout for lenders. ("Hey, Mikey, refinance this, so I can go home with the money I lent.").

Sound totally ridiculous? It is. It's not your government, silly; it's theirs.

Anyway, consider buying U.S. financial stocks - a certain, large California one? - on this news of government credit giveaways (and maybe even the insurers). You'll need the returns to pay the tax bill (bailout of the GSEs) when it comes due for this bogus move.

Advice for Freshman (Or anyone)

AS finds posters here.

My suggestion?

"Advance your emotional IQ: Ask someone how to negotiate safe sex."

Although, 18 might be way too late, if you believe the statistics about kids these days ...

In the Wake of Facism

"Italians" change their shirt government, again. Details not required reading.

Djokovic's Revenge

Djokovic 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in the Australian Open semifinals Friday, against Federer. (photo: Andrew Brownbill / AP)

GOP to Leave Office With Biggest Deficit Since Ronald Reagan

Our baseline – which assumes no change in current law — suggests that among other factors, the slowing economy will boost the deficit to $219 billion, or 1.5 percent of GDP, this year. If Congress provides the additional funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan requested by the Administration, the deficit would rise to $250 billion. And if a fiscal stimulus package is enacted, the 2008 deficit could be substantially higher – and at least from a short-term stimulus perspective, that could be desirable. The fiscal 2007 deficit was $163 billion, or 1.2% of GDP - Orzag guy from the CBO

The spice must flow ... gulp.


If you really believe that we are headed toward a recession, the Dem-agreed package does nothing but shift the brunt of it to the term of the next President.

The Dems have validated the Republican-inspired model that tax-cuts are an appropriate cyclical tool. (Gee thanks, Larry Summers). No unemployment insurance special contingency is included (it really is cut-tax and spend ...).

They broke the principle of "targeted", by bowing to GOP pressure on accelerated depreciation for everyone.

How meaningful "the package" is to middle classes is also debatable, considering a doubling of "expenses" eligible for deduction for small business owners, who are probably not "middle class". (do the math: $125K deduction increase @ 30% tax rate = $37,500 tax cut for small business owners, not $600 ...).

Last, there is absolutely no direct investment in the package. Instead of passing on a strengthened public infrastructure as a legacy, the next generation will get ... the bill.

Cheers! Eat, drink, and be merry - it's your Party!

A Fraud Unraveled

There is now a face to go with the legacy of Jérôme Kerviel.

Meanwhile, check this out (NYTimes):

The timing could hardly have been worse. Société Générale was forced to begin unwinding the trades on Monday “under conditions of extreme market volatility,” Mr. Bouton said.

Bank officials insisted that the volume of their sales on Monday was not large enough to have a major influence on markets.


Well, let's do the math. These were simple directional bets (futures contracts - "Delta One"), reportedly. He lost $7.2 billion. On a 10% adverse move that implies a notional position of $72 billion [!]. Even a 20% adverse move would imply a notional position of $36 billion.

Yeah, I think dumping $36 to $72 billion on one day in the market would be pretty massive. [Oh, yeah, and if I were a regulator and I didn't know about what was going on from SoGen, I'd be throwing-the-phone mad.]

Anyway, if that's not right, then something else is at work. Maybe the losses somehow occurred over a long period of time. Maybe there is also more to the story...

Weekly Casualty Lists: Week 4, Year A+7


-------Name, AgeSrv BranchHometown

Rank, Unit

Location; Circumstance of Death

Michael R. Sturdivant, 20U.S. ArmyConway, AR
Sergeant, 431st Civil Affairs BN, U.S. Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne)
Kirkuk; 22-Jan-08; Non-hostile - vehicle accident

Justin R. Whiting, 27U.S. ArmyHancock, NY
Staff Sergeant, 3rd BN, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
Mosul; 19-Jan-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

James M. Gluff, 20U.S. MarineTunnel Hill, GA
Lance Corporal, 1st BN, 8th Marine Reg, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force
Al Anbar Province; 19-Jan-08; Hostile - hostile fire

Richard B. Burress, 25U.S. ArmyNaples, FL
Specialist, 1st BN, 30th Infantry Reg, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
Arab Jabour; 19-Jan-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Jon M. Schoolcraft Iii, 26U.S. ArmyWapakoneta, OH
Specialist, 1st BN, 27th Infantry Reg, 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division
Taji; 19-Jan-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack


------Name, AgeSrv BranchCountry

Rank, Unit

Location; Circumstance of Death
Étienne Gonthier, 21Canadian Armyn.a.-Canada
Corporal, 5th Combat Engineer Regiment
Panjwayi District (Kandahar Province); 23-Jan-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
Darryl Gardiner, 25British ArmySalisbury-UK
Musa Quala; 20-Jan-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack


Counted Civilian Casualties: 158 this week; 98 last week.
Counted bodies found: 34 this week; 38 last week.
Wednesday 23 January: 49 dead
Afghanistan:The Taliban killed two truck drivers, wounded two, and torched 13 trucks belonging to a road construction company in the Girshk district in Helmand. President Karzai said the Afghan war threatens to spread throughout the region.
Baghdad: gunmen kill the head of dentistry at Baghdad university; 4 bodies.
Mosul: 37 die in explosion that brings down building.
Dibis: car bomb kills 7, including a child.
Tuesday 22 January: 21 dead
Baghdad: roadside bomb kills 1; 3 bodies.
Baquba: suicide bomber blows himself up in school, kills 1; gunmen kill man near clinic.
Buhriz: 7 bodies of men belonging to the same family are found.
Shirqat: gunmen kill police chief's bodyguard.
Mosul: gunmen kill university professor; body found.
Basra: gunmen kill policeman.
Bardi Bridge: body found.
Hilla: 2 bodies found.
Amara: child killed in missile explosion.
Monday 21 January: 39 dead
Baghdad: man killed by US forces in the course of a raid, Amil; 7 bodies.
Hajaj: suicide bomber blows up 17 people at funeral, in village near Baiji.
Samarra: explosion near car kills 2.
Qaiyara: car bomb kills 2.
Mosul: US air strike kills 2 policemen; 2 bodies.
Kalar: gunmen attack house, kill mother and 13-year-old daughter.
Falluja: gunmen attack police patrol, kill 4 Awakening members.
Sunday 20 January: 17 dead
Afghanistan:The Taliban assassinated the provincial head of Afghanistan's National Reconciliation Commission in Zabul. Taliban attacks in Helmand, Kandahar, and Zabul provinces claimed 12 lives.
Baghdad: roadside bomb kills 1, Zayouna; 2 bodies.
Saad Camp: roadside bomb kills 2.
Muqdadiya: man is killed by gunmen.
Baquba: 2 children die in bomb explosion by their house; gunmen kill Awakening member.
Falluja: teenage suicide bomber kills 6 at Awakening feast.
Hawija: tribesman dies in drive-by shooting.
Samarra: gunmen kill former Baath member.
Saturday 19 January: 32 dead
Baghdad: roadside bomb kills 2 in restaurant, Sadr City; 2 bodies.
Ramadi: suicide bombers kill 6 policemen.
Falluja: 2 bodies.
Balad: mortars target Ashura pilgrims, kill 5, including 2 children.
Tal Afar: rocket kills 7 at Ashura gathering.
Mosul: bomb explosion kills woman.
Kirkuk: bomb under pile of rubbish kills 2.
Wajihiya: roadside bomb targeting governor's convoy kills 3 bodyguards.
Dhi Qar
Nasiriya: 2 policemen killed in clashes.
Friday 18 January: 37 dead
Baghdad: roadside bomb kills woman and child, Ur; 2 bodies.
Basra: 7 killed in clashes, most of them policemen; sniper kills doctor.
Dhi Qar
Nasiriya: 16, including 2 children, killed in clashes with Soldiers of Heaven cult during Ashura festival.
Buhruz: 2 policemen die in booby-trapped house.
Wajihiya: 2 policemen are killed in clashes.
Baquba: 2 children die in booby-trapped house.
Shirween: 3 bodies.
Thursday 17 January: 36 dead
Baghdad: 3 bodies.
Baquba: suicide bomber kills 11 outside Shia mosque.
Diyala River Valley: US forces kill 3 (2 women and 1 man) during raid.
Jalawla: US and Iraqi forces kill 7 during overnight raid -5 of them a family of Kurds living in Shaykh Bawa village. When the family did not open their door out of fear, the forces broke down the door and opened fire.
Mosul: car bomb kills policeman; gunmen kill another civilian and another policeman; roadside bomb kills 2; another roadside bomb kills 3; car bomb outside church kills 1.
Basra: gunmen kill policeman.
Policeman killed during clashes.
Tikrit: gunmen kill policeman.


None counted this week.

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

On the Beat


  • JA pulls the facts from Cheney's official vitae (the secret vitae, we all suspect, is ... riveting reading), that he started the "peace dividend", not Clinton-42.

  • The "Texas justice" mess over AG firings may not be over yet, says ML at Balkinization.

  • "We The People" are losing in the cloakrooms of National Security, where the tradeoffs between Liberty and Freedom are being made.

    Legal discovery, let along prosecution, to ensure accountability in National Security matters appears increasing remote. 21st century "wiretapping" is the province just for the princes of the Senate (who, in a twist of fate, are largely powerless to actually do anything to curb abuses, as we have found out in the recent torture mess).

"Swanee River" Debate

Ronald Wilson Reagan parted his hair on the Right. Willard Mitt Romney parts his hair on the Left. Mitt Romney is no Ronald Reagan. (photos: cufflink media) [read the link!]

[I apologize to regular readers that I missed this debate, before the election that may well determine the GOP's nominee.]

From the post-analysis, it appears that Hewitt might be expected to be ...er, "high on life", given Romney's ... combing his hair like Reagan.

I find it laughable that the GOP are running on a platform that Government doesn't work, either because taxes are too high or regulation too much or whatever. Seriously, they've had all three branches of power for how long and they are still making "promises"? Even McCain cannot ultimately spin that elephant.


I want to see what becomes of Romney's attack on Hillary.

I'll tell you this. If I were in the Obama camp, I'd put up a trial balloon with the pros to see if the Senator would jump in to defend Hillary, especially if her campaign "ignores" the comments. I continue to think that people would like to see whether Obama can be a party leader; and, while I thought that he should pick and win a fight with Giuliani, Romney would do. It has its risks, but it also has the chance to break the news cycle away from the Clinton-Obama face-off, at least in the short term, while re-emphasizing the theme of the Obama campaign, if done properly.

Because the GOP are going to immediately go to work painting Barack as a "liberal" if he wins the nomination, just the way Fred Thompson tried to do, he needs to speak up now, early on. The number of good reasons to do so is ... long.


[By the way, how do you think Romney's suggestion that spouses say home "with nothing to do" is going to go over with the women voters of Florida? One starts to see how easy it is for the GOP to lose 50% of the vote, out of the gates ...]

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Dissent, possibly, on Bill Clinton

No one likes to be double-teamed. However, Dems would be wise to consider just how much they want to "neutralize" Clinton-42, especially if Hillary ends up with the nomination. The GOP are certainly afraid of him - right talk radio is avidly - no, desperately - pushing the "Wild Bill" theme. He's effective.

As far as those saying that confrontation weakens the Democrats, I don't agree, wholly. The candidates need to be vetted. The Press - "the process" - is NOT going to do it, altogether. The GOP are going to do all they can, anyway (and probably many on the Democratic side who meet fire with fire).

Get the "warts" out there. Maybe not at the first, maybe not in the last 24 hours before a vote, but get the "bad news" out there.

There is an old saying, "Bad news doesn't get better with time." If someone was pushing Kerry during the nomination process, his campaign might have been "ready" instead of slack, when the attacks came on him.

That is the great hope of confrontation, afterall, the positive value to conflict. Sure, there are negative aspects to be managed, but we're at the point with the media repeating the "story" that it is getting carried away.

No Shame, No Standards Network

AS notes:

The Fox News bigot digs in deeper.

... and what's the surprise?

Rush Limbaugh auctioned off his letter from Harry Reid (condemning Rush's comments about "phony soldiers"), in that disgusting show of turning the shameful into the political so that they can avoid ... humanity. All done with the blessing (and participation) of ClearChannel's CEO, even.

It sets the tone.


Stimulus in the Wings

635 Congresspeople consult with 7,666+ lobbyists in record time.

GOP regulars are just waiting for something - anything - that they can paint as tax-and-spend, so that they might squeeze maybe just one more election out of that tired mantra.

Wall Street Gets New High Water Mark for Cowboys

SoGen is reporting a fraud that will easily top what was surely the biggest, when Nick Leeson single-handedly took down the old-line firm, Barings.

If I remember right - and I could be mistaken, Leeson bought more-and-more calls and financed it by selling more-and-more puts. [!!} This guy appears - so far - to have not been nearly so spectacularly brazen ...

Press release puts it at $7.14 billion. I'm so glad that they didn't round down to seven, aren't you? ["We now have an accurate accounting of the fraud" - LOL].

The loss was bigger than the GDP of 64 nations.

The name on this one is Jérôme Kerviel, although the bank has declined to name him. (Like Leeson at the time, his whereabouts are currently a mystery).


In 1995, Nick Leeson, a trader in Singapore, incurred a loss of $1.8 billion by making $27 billion of bad bets on Japanese markets, bringing down the venerable British bank Barings in the process.

In 1998, Yasuo Hamanaka, once the chief copper trader at the Sumitomo Corporation, was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to hiding $2.6 billion in trading losses. He admitted to lying and forging documents as his losses snowballed while he bought a million tons of copper over a decade in a bid to sustain prices.

"Apparatus of Lies"

Prior to the removal of Saddam, the Bush Administration "made the case", putting up a website entitled, "Apparatus of Lies", that chronicled the long, long effort to ... corral Hussein.

Now, it appears that there is a similar effort completed for Bush-Cheney ("the 935").

Bush the elder continues to believe, by all accounts, that his son has served "honorably" and that our standing in the world is unaffected by what was done to beat the drums of war once upon a time in America.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

No Man Knows the Measure of His Days

Heath Ledger in one of the most poignant and memorable scenes in the history of American cinema.

A kitten jumps into a suitcase and
goes for a 1,300 mile ride. It ends well.

Markets Go "Weeeeee!"

Up and Down on Wall Street.

All technical moves today. Market ended up betting on growth-to-come.


Ben's o.k. He's got an almost impossible job to do, in the current circumstances. "Fed speak" was "invented" for good reasons. The Chairman needs to be a rhetorical contrarian, for the most part, as a way to influence market expectations. "Fed speak" facilitates putting the emphasis on the syllable that needs it, at the time.

Ben started out with all the right moves, getting some structural fixes at least in motion before passing out the candy. Of course, the pressure from Wall Street magnums, like Kudlow, who pine secretly, we may imagine, for Bear Stearns and the mess that they created for themselves, is enormous. Even Greenspan was no match, in his time.


The Fed cannot fix the housing mess alone - they can pass out candy and try to regulate broker-stuff that was never under their regulatory umbrella before, I guess. Meanwhile, lobbied-politicians are intent to bailout the lenders by getting the government (taxpayers) into "jumbo" junk mortgages! For their own part, taxpayers can get bang for their buck investing in some infrastructure projects, right now, though - airports, schools, bridges - which improve the long-term outlook while also helping a stressed sector of the economy not go over a cliff, altogether.

The financial messes still need attention. Bond insurers, most recently, need a non-taxpayer backstop - where's the private capital, eh (does free market theory say that someone will step in)? A capital injection, as part of a stimulus package, for Freddie and Fannie will allow them to buy up stuff on the secondary market, rather than re-financing stuff. Giving financial institutions (banks) a short-term pass on capital requirements will help avoid a credit crunch that is capacity / balance sheet related (the part that is credit quality related is all part of the inveterate credit-cycle and cannot be avoided). The Bush-Paulson plan is weak and is not substitute for giving judges the ability, on a short-term basis, to modify mortgage loan terms.

Without help from other central banks, most likely the Fed cannot fix the energy mess in oil, nor can they address Bush's looking the other way as people's energy costs, including natural gas prices, rose precipitously on his watch (graphs on this already on the blog).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bush Papers Over Preadtory Practices with "Literacy" Study Group



  • We now know that sub-prime lending didn't expand homeownership.
  • We also know that over 50% of all sub-prime loans could have been done at better rates and terms that didn't include "features" like ugly pre-payment penalties.
  • There is systematic, not anecdotal, evidence that some brokers targeted senior citizens.

Still, the GOP's leader is out there pretending that mortgage buyers brought it all on themselves.


Well, Bush is saying he's got those from "the faith world", a term that rolls off his tongue like it was the fifth dimension, on the study group. How could it go wrong?

p.s. The discussion about the vote to cap credit card interest rates at 30% last night is bothering me. If the candidates are saying they don't want band-aides on our problems, then why is Obama's reply that he wanted better than 30% such a problem (unless it was false)?

No Clean Hands

Obama faces his first serious challenge*, to image or otherwise, regarding his dealings with two folks by the name of Rezko, a name that may not come-and-go, depending on how it all falls out.

So far, it is campaign contributions and (what else?) a real-estate deal. That deal doesn't seem to have any particular financial favors for Obama or mysteries (like the Clinton's magical commodities account). It just seems to have been a really bad idea ... at worst, the Rezkos may have lubricated a deal, at fair prices, to get it to go through, as best as I can tell from quite a distance.

The rest of the Rezko's problems? ... a field day for GOP irregulars.

(h/t R. Stein)

*O'Reilly's attempt to do guilt-by-association based on two quotes on Louis Farrakhan (by Obama's pastor in Chicago) may well backfire, yet and is not serious.

Romney's Exhausted Reagan Rhetoric

Trying to tap into Reagan's feel-good, do-nothing soma-era, Romney also has his "One Nation" spiel a la Reagan.

Problem is that he's never been to New Orleans ...

Nor have any of the other GOP hopefuls, so far as I know, as part of their campaigns.

But not Ron Paul.

He's just arrived today in Louisianna. [Who Dat, Who Dat, Who Dat Say They Gonna Beat Ron Paul, Who Dat]

From Obama's Ebeneezer speech:

And we have a deficit when it takes a breach in our levees to reveal a breach in our compassion;

Now available for $1 ...
Fred Thompson bows out, too soon for what I would have predicted. [So those charts about Florida all need to be redrawn ...].

Missing or Erased? The GOP's Abiding Nixonianism

After the reveal of which e-mails are missing from official WH records, maybe we need a statistical analysis to determine if there is a non-random pattern in the Sherlock Holmes case of the missing missives.

The Rosemary Woods Memorial Awards, forthcoming.

Zakaria Update: Go Long?

As I recall, Zakaria was for the "go long" option. Now, after dishing both sides of the withdrawal debate, it's not clear he still likes that. For some unclear reason, AS thinks his latest is noteworthy.

Some of the article needs to be cleaned up.

  • First of all, "the surge" was quite late, coming to force some 18 months after the key event that spawned it - a perilous and ignominious wait. Rumsfeld should have been dismissed long before the elections and Baker-Hamilton should have been accelerated.
  • The US didn't need extra brigades to broker the Anbar Awakening, and the effectiveness of the military effort may be just as much due to strides coming up the learning curve on intelligence gathering and use, than expanded force-structure, per se.
  • The CLC's are not all militias ...
  • There has already been an meeting of the neighbors and an International Pact. It's a tribute to the Bush Administration's expert soft peddling and downplaying of the handoff, in an effort to control the politics of retreat from their pathetically vehement go-it-alone posture, that Fareed seems ... unaware.

Had Bush ever leveled with the American public about the prospects of the Iraqi effort, instead of pretending that it would be self-financing, not a quagmire, and not much more than $150 billion in total, there may have been a will to soldier on in reasonable ways.

As it is, the only political option left is withdrawal, even if it means cutting muscle. McCain will not get "re-elected" on a platform of upping or extending the Iraqi commitment.

500 points later - How do you feel about GOP "deregulation"

Fed moved its rate (Wall Street is a powerful lobby...and 'free money' is like crack for anyone in finance). But the stressed parts of the economy are almost all tied to the Prime rate, not the Fed rate, so ... poor Ben is still going to get it from all sides. (I think he's doing o.k., he just hasn't learned the art of how to jawbone the market. It's a fault of being a plain-talker ...).

... almost every time I hear a GOP candidate pandering with platitudes about unleashing business activity by cutting 'Washington regulation', I feel that I need to check that I still have my wallet ...
Cheap money almost always "works". Almost. Just bear in mind that Japan has had 0.5% interest rates for almost a decade, now ...

Meanwhile, as you wonder about how the GOP makes America strong, remind yourself just how wonderful the world of deregulation can be (i.e. how much the current sub-prime 'failures' will cost taxpayers and consumers).

Not all deregulation has been abysmal, but the recent past has been like a nightmare. Those poor Californians are still swimming from energy-market deregulation under Bush ... So, every time I hear a GOP candidate pandering with platitudes about unleashing business activity by cutting 'Washington regulation', I feel that I need to check that I still have my wallet ...


We'll find out today why people are selling (or, why they will be buying).

Believe it or not, the fall in the market is consistent with a view that inflation (in combo with the inflation-risk premium) goes up from a long-term rate of, say, 2.5% to 3.5%. Can't fight that with lower fed rates ... the market will bounce, but just a little, until the source of those price rises gets tamed. (Just to be complete, that's a bigger pickup in inflation than is warranted by the weak dollar alone, on my estimates, anyway).

Now, it's unlikely that the view is that "core" growth falls by 1%, but if a lot of people are worried that long-term growth is seriously at risk because of the unsustainability of negative trade patterns, cut-tax-and-spend policies, or lost potential due to permanently higher energy costs, then we ought to see only a muted rebound.

If it's just fears over a sharper-than-expected recession (sub-prime woes), then we also will not see a rebound, until earnings start to provide disconfirming evidence, if any.

So, the only scenario in which we see a sharp rebound is in the case of generalized anxiety over growth or worries about the financial system itself (raised by these bond-insurers who don't have "enough money" based on a "revised" risk model that itself might be wildly incorrect).

AS's Hillary-Apoplexy Intensifies

Morning snark is in AS's Hillary On Bill - a smear attempt ("The happiest day of my life was the day I met my Tremendous Asset.")?

Meanwhile, AS overlooks one of the most inept phrases from his darling, last night:

"I am a proud Christian".

No such thing, right? If there is, it is a political creation ....


I have to give really big props to Obama on the acknowledgment that his health plan has some challenges, in design, not ideology or strategy. That's an indication that he could be open to ways of fixing them.

On the other hand, what Hillary has to say about drug companies worries me. Not that she wants to keep drug prices on the table, but that she has a prescribed solution about how to do it. I'd like to see that she is open to more ways of working on drug prices than the things that she has in mind. I'm partial to Canada's model, from the little I know about it, as at least something to try before reaching for the big medicine, so to speak.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Caging Bill

I was just going to congratulate the Dem regulars for getting Clinton-42 to calm down a bit; but if it is annoying AS, then my instincts may be wrong, because AS is almost a perfectly contrary indicator on all things Clinton.

Flashback, from the NYTimes

By most outward signs, former President George Bush has maintained a cautious distance from Gov. George W. Bush's quest for the White House, seldom making joint appearances with his son and rarely commenting on the election.

But behind the scenes, Mr. Bush is anything but remote. On several occasions between December and May, Karl Rove, the chief strategist for his son's campaign, traveled from Austin, Tex., to Houston, where the former president spends the winter, to give him private briefings.

His friends say that Mr. Bush regularly exchanges calls or e-mail messages with about a half-dozen senior officials in the Texas governor's campaign and that his chief of staff, Jean Becker, is on the phone with Mr. Rove almost every day.

And neither father nor son is shy about reaching out to the other. One close family friend said they usually chatted within 15 to 30 minutes after the end of each of the debates in the Republican primaries.

Where were all the cries of "dynasty" then, when that word really applied?

It wouldn't be such a HUGE inconsistency, except, have you noticed, the right-leaning folks get all upset just as soon as the Left appears to have any form of institutional coherency or consistency, even as they look with hallowed Hyakian reverence on their own proverbial Plymouth rocks.

Don't believe me? Just stay alert and the evidence will present itself to the prepared mind. For instance, did you just notice how horrified AS was this week at entrenched civil rights leadership? Same for the "gay Left establishment"? It's not just AS, who probably comes at it from a unique perspective, it's almost the whole field.

Watching Lawyers Argue


Dem debate went o.k. American politics is so relentlessly bland, that some of the exchanges will cause wildfires in the weak minded.

Lot of punches landed.

I wish that John Edwards would listen to what the Republicans are saying on poverty. It would be interesting to hear him take on Huckabee's most recent comments about it, instead of preaching to the choir with the same stuff.

Hillary really fought hardest for making health care her signature issue. She's still winning that, I suspect.

The best ducked punch (and coup) went to Edwards, who brought up the Ronald Reagan quote on the trail most visibly and still got to rise above the others on the same issue during the debate ... {bow}

I think Obama made a mistake saying that Clinton-42 wasn't factual. Bill is too smart not to get the facts. [I'll use "Clinton-42", with its tacit sequencing implied, just to irk AS, who is "slipping" into "the Clintons"]. What he should have attacked is the shading of the facts. [Update: It does appear that Bill did over-reach, with "all the good ideas". Something that Barack did not say.]

I didn't think Obama deflected Hillary's attack on his credibility well, especially after I gave up the Clinton-42 play book (it's an open book for anyone who looks it up) - doesn't everyone read BootstrappingAS? LOL. Example: "The reason, Hillary, that you cannot make sense of some of these parts of the record, is that you tell yourself a story about what something means. Then, you don't seek or accept the explanations offered. So, of course, you remain stubbornly confused and that's why you won't be ready from day one, but behind. I'm trying to bring people past all that." [that's how you bring it].

On the barbs: they both tried them and handled them well. What neither of them did was handle the rebound shot well, either spontaneously or otherwise. One ought to keep one in the pocket ... (e.g., "I spent 5 hours on the case you mention, how many hours did you spend helping Walmart from day one to provide healthcare?").


I came away with a broader sense that Obama does live up to the the high tenor of his message, fairly well. Unfortunately, political debate - real take-the-floor-debate - has evaporated in America, in favor of the 30-second sound bite and Sunday morning talk shows. And that's important to a degree.

Taking and responding to questions in an important political skill, because it is all part of communicating (and ultimately persuading). It's hard to weigh Barack's other, sizable communications skills, which are also important, in a different field of competition, perhaps.

Perhaps that difficulty is what underscores some part of the reason that the support in the field is close.


I think Obama should do the morning shows, just as Hillary did. He has to continue to show he has nothing to "hide".

p.s. if he does, he might want to drop "fulsome" from his characterization of Hillary's own Reagan comments. It's clear form the context he used, but that five-dollar word is ... too expensive and not emotive.

p.s. if you know you are going to be attacked on something, bring your exact quote to the debate. Heck, Hitchens can quote Marx verbatim to keep from getting distorted in the endless rounds of "clarification" that lawyers try to draw you into, until they make a coherent position look inconsistent.

Bayard Rustin on MLK Day

One author finds "The Dream" needs to be expanded for all it is, not elevated for what it was. (at the risk of oversimplifying)