May 2008 Archives

Catching up ... sort of

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Looks like we weren't the only ones to have a busy week / weekend.



The pictures in this dkos diary are stunning. Almost as good as being there in person.

And then there's video from the Washington Post:



And here's a video of the rally courtesy of NWCN via dkos diarist Patch Adam who wrote about his experience at the rally. The video includes his complete speech without any commentary or voiceover.

NWCN-Obama-rally

Click on picture to go to website with video


This is the picture that just amazes me.



This is a primary rally. Not a general election rally in October but a primary rally in May. Simply amazing.

Tis the season for graduations

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It's been a very busy couple weeks in our household, preparing for not one, but two college graduations in two different states only a couple days apart. But I can now report we did it.

grad-cakes


One from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA with a major in Government and International Politics and the other from Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT with a double major in International Studies and German with a minor in History.

Whew!

Oh, and the Fairfax graduate just found out that she got her Fulbright scholarship so it's off to Germany in September for her.

Items of Interest

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-- Matt Stoller has a significant piece of analysis about Obama's consolidation of power over on OpenLeft which I highly recommend.

-- Publius has a very interesting post arguing that Iraq is the fundamental reason that Hillary's campaign stepped off on the wrong foot and never recovered. Recalling what she said at the YearlyKos convention, I have to agree that she never figured out that it was a huge disadvantage for her but I do also think that the campaign mismanagement was a big contributing factor.

-- John Cole at BalloonJuice points out that the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick are cheaters.

-- Standing in love vs. falling in love by Mark Vernon via Sully. Yeah. Given that my 29th wedding anniversary is 9 days away, I'd have to say that I agree with that assessment. It's good to see it outlined in such straightforward language.

Arianna and West Wingers Expose McCain

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Per the LA Times, West Wing aides back up Arianna on McCain's vote.

John McCain called out by Jed Bartlet's aides

It turns out that hobnobbing with liberal blogger Arianna Huffington and the cast of NBC's "The West Wing" on the left coast can be a risky proposition for a Republican with White House ambitions.

In Jersey City Friday morning, John McCain emphatically denied a report by Huffington on her blog that he confessed, during a Beverly Hills dinner party in 2001, that he had not voted for George W. Bush after his bitter defeat in 2000. But "West Wing" cast members -- who said in published reports they supported a Democratic ticket -- back up Huffington's story. [...]

But actors Bradley Whitford and Richard Schiff, who played White House deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman and communications director Toby Ziegler on the show, told the New York Times -- at Huffington's prompting -- that they too heard McCain's confession at the dinner party at actress Candice Bergen's Beverly Hills home.

Whitford told the New York Times and the Washington Post that when a guest asked McCain at the dinner if he'd voted for Bush, McCain put his finger to his lips and mouthed "No way."

West Wing is the house favorite here. We own all 7 seasons on DVD. If Josh and Toby say that Arianna told the story accurately, then McCain hasn't a chance on that one.

If he says that he doesn't remember it, then one has to question his memory and his age. Of course, Arianna does a good job of pointing out McCain's memory problems in her update to her original post:

Through a spokesperson with the colorful name Tucker Bounds, McCain has denied telling me he didn't vote for Bush in 2000. "It's not true," Bounds told the Washington Post, "and I ask you to consider the source."

My sentiments exactly -- because John McCain has a long history of issuing heartfelt denials of things that were actually true.

He denied ever talking with John Kerry about his leaving the GOP to be Kerry's '04 running mate -- then later admitted he had, insisting: "Everybody knows that I had a conversation."

He denied admitting that he didn't know much about economics, even though he'd said exactly that to the Wall Street Journal. And the Boston Globe. And the Baltimore Sun.

He denied ever having asked for a budget earmark for Arizona, even though he had. On the record.

He denied that he'd ever had a meeting with comely lobbyist Vicki Iseman and her client Lowell Paxon, even though he had. And had admitted it in a legal deposition.

And those are just the outright denials. He's also repeatedly tried to spin away statements he regretted making (see: 100-year war, Iraq was a war for oil, etc.).

So, yes, by all means, "consider the source."

Items of Interest

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-- Rasmussen: It's Over - H/T to Walt starr

...while Senator Clinton has remained close and competitive in every meaningful measure, she is a close second and the race is over. It has become clear that Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee. [...]

With this in mind, Rasmussen Reports will soon end our daily tracking of the Democratic race and focus exclusively on the general election competition between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama.

-- Bill Moyers was interviewed on Democracy Now yesterday and quoted:

All the rest of us should hang our heads in shame for letting it come to this in America, where the gluttony of the nonstop media grinder consumes us all and prevents an honest conversation on race. It is the price we are paying for failing to heed the great historian Jacob Burckhardt, who said, "Beware the terrible simplifiers."

The whole interview is interesting and worth checking out.

More on Hillary's Low Road

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More reaction to Hillary's claiming the low road:

From Ben Smith,

And it's also noteworthy that the blunt talk on appealing to whites surfaces the day after the last round of primaries in which there's a substantial number of black voters.

Good point, Ben. I did find some satisfaction in this daily kos rec listed diary from a Utah resident, Plea from the bleach-whitest state in the union: Give us the inspirational black president!

It may be true that Hillary Clinton is the only acceptable candidate to some narrow income group of Caucasians that reside between the Mississipi river and the states bordering the East coast. But, MY GOD, who cares? It is Hillary Clinton's utter lack of ability to be competitive among white voters in Western states that resulted in Obama breaking the proportional allocation system, and making narrow Clinton wins in states that satisfy the Penn/Wolfsson criteria insignificant.

[...]

All of this brings me to my simple and main point: These people hate Clintons. I do too, but that is irrelevant. There is a reason why our primary had a record turnout, and why Obama absolutely trounced her here. There is a huge and growing number of voters here in the West that is looking for some sign that the Democratic party is ready to be something new. These people aren't particularly happy about voting for another Republican, but they sure as hell know they aren't voting for a Clinton. More than any problem with message or organization, our party suffers here from a stigma and an association with ugly political battles of the past. If we are going to build on what we have here, we have to offer something new. It doesn't even have to be a new message; it just needs to come in a new package. It needs to come in a package that doesn't remind skeptical voters that are upset and ready for a change of anything they despised in the past. We are doing good things here in Utah, and it will get better if we have a real chance to appeal to independents and disaffected Republicans. That will happen with Barack Obama. It will never happen with Hillary Clinton. In fact, I'm afraid a Billary ticket (even in the VP slot) would so inflame the Republican base here that it would threaten my beloved and effective local elected Democrats.

And I would add my own plea to his:

Bobby Kennedy, Where Are You?

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Sen. Clinton has gone 'there' in her rationalization of why she is continuing her quest for the nomination. In an interview with USA Today,

Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

"There's a pattern emerging here," she said.

And what pattern would that be, Hillary?

First of all, the assertion that people who voted for Hillary in the primary would not vote for Obama in the general election is based on highly-malleable opinions which are at a height of emotion given the hard-fought primary contest. Any exit poll numbers on that count will surely change by the time of the general election as they always do.

Second, it is a comparison of unlike contests to suggest that the breakdown of voters in Hillary vs. Obama is comparable to that of Obama vs. McCain. Choosing between Hillary and Obama is like choosing between brownies and chocolate chip cookies for dessert ... which form of chocolate do I like best? Suggesting that there is any comparison between brownies, chocolate chip cookies and brussel sprouts for dessert is absurd.

Third, does the Democratic Party really want to select a nominee based on the fear that there might be some racist Americans who won't vote for the nominee? Does Bobby Kennedy need to come back to life and give them some spine? Did we let racists dictate what happened in school desegregation and the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

As RFK said, "Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope..."

It's time for the Democratic Party to stand up and do the right thing.

Hillary, I'm ashamed and angry that you're choosing this path. I thought better of you.

Items of Interest

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-- McCain is having problems living in the 21st century. Looks like he's somewhere back in the 20th century based on his references to Czechoslovakia as his preferred missile location and his inability after 5 years worth of war in Iraq to differentiate between Shia and Sunni, Al Qaeda and Iran.

Then there's his supposed defense expertise in which he demonstrates his ignorance of who does what in the current structure. For someone who's the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services committee, it's a huge gaffe. I mean, how do you NOT know that when it's your day job and has been for quite some time?

-- Here's something that I missed when it came out. From Martha Raddatz at ABC News, Surprising Political Endorsements By U.S. Troops. The video is the best. Watch it if you can. (I'd embed it if ABC News offered that option but they don't. Need to catch up with the times.) H/T to dantrotheplanetman

-- Sully has a real cute anecdote here

-- Via John Cole at Balloon Juice, a tale of pre-school politics:



-- Also from Balloon Juice via The Grand Panjandrum at TPMCafe, the:

Best. Blog. Comment. Evah.

John Cole, ruminating about the potential disaster awaiting the GOP this November found this gem in his comment section:

The GOP let Alfred E. Neumann sit behind the wheel of their bus and drive it off a cliff. The fuckin' thing is falling, Alfred's grinning mug is turned to them asking "Hows that fellas?" and somewhere from the back of the bus a genius removes his tongue from the window and mumbles "Pssst, I think we have a message problem."

Now if we can just get Danziger or Oliphant to draw the cartoon.

-- Watch Taylor wiggle. Interesting how past rhetorical outbursts come back to bite one in the ... so to speak.

The Company They Keep

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Steve Benen summarizes it so well in Judging them by the company they keep that I'll just quote from him.

The Chicago Tribune's Steve Chapman posed an interesting question in his column over the weekend about John McCain having a Bill Ayers-like problem of his own. [...]

What McCain didn't mention is that he has his own Bill Ayers -- in the form of G. Gordon Liddy. Now a conservative radio talk-show host, Liddy spent more than 4 years in prison for his role in the 1972 Watergate burglary. That was just one element of what Liddy did, and proposed to do, in a secret White House effort to subvert the Constitution. Far from repudiating him, McCain has embraced him.

How close are McCain and Liddy? Pretty close. Liddy hosted a McCain fundraiser in '98 at his home. When McCain appeared on Liddy's show in November, Liddy greeted him as "an old friend," and McCain gushed like one. "I'm proud of you, I'm proud of your family," McCain told Liddy. "It's always a pleasure for me to come on your program, Gordon, and congratulations on your continued success and adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great."

The Cognitive Age

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I rarely agree with David Brooks who I believe is a highly over-rated talking head that's too impressed with himself. Nonetheless, he makes a point in his NYT column today on the changes in manufacturing globally that I think is well-made.

The chief force reshaping manufacturing is technological change (hastened by competition with other companies in Canada, Germany or down the street). Thanks to innovation, manufacturing productivity has doubled over two decades. Employers now require fewer but more highly skilled workers. Technological change affects China just as it does the America. William Overholt of the RAND Corporation has noted that between 1994 and 2004 the Chinese shed 25 million manufacturing jobs, 10 times more than the U.S.

The central process driving this is not globalization. It's the skills revolution. We're moving into a more demanding cognitive age. In order to thrive, people are compelled to become better at absorbing, processing and combining information. This is happening in localized and globalized sectors, and it would be happening even if you tore up every free trade deal ever inked.

The globalization paradigm emphasizes the fact that information can now travel 15,000 miles in an instant. But the most important part of information's journey is the last few inches -- the space between a person's eyes or ears and the various regions of the brain. Does the individual have the capacity to understand the information? Does he or she have the training to exploit it? Are there cultural assumptions that distort the way it is perceived?

The globalization paradigm leads people to see economic development as a form of foreign policy, as a grand competition between nations and civilizations. These abstractions, called "the Chinese" or "the Indians," are doing this or that. But the cognitive age paradigm emphasizes psychology, culture and pedagogy -- the specific processes that foster learning. It emphasizes that different societies are being stressed in similar ways by increased demands on human capital. If you understand that you are living at the beginning of a cognitive age, you're focusing on the real source of prosperity and understand that your anxiety is not being caused by a foreigner.

It's not that globalization and the skills revolution are contradictory processes. But which paradigm you embrace determines which facts and remedies you emphasize.

Of course, he then ends with one of his usual nonsensical summations: "Politicians, especially Democratic ones, have fallen in love with the globalization paradigm. It's time to move beyond it."

David, just how would you describe what the Republican administration and politicians have done for the last 20 years?

Gen. Sanchez: Bush Admin's "gross incompetence and dereliction of duty"

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Another retired general steps forward to tell us just how the Bush administration screwed us over and in the process, screwed over our military forces as well. From Time magazine via Andrew Sullivan:

Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq in 2003-2004, has written a new memoir, Wiser in Battle: A Soldier's Story, an account of his life and his service in Iraq. Sanchez was a three-star general -- and the military's senior Hispanic officer -- when he led U.S. forces in the first year of the war. He was relieved of his command by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 2004 following the revelations of the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. In 2005, Marine General Peter Pace, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called him to say his career was over and he wouldn't get the promotion to a full general -- four stars -- that Sanchez says he was promised. Six months later, at Rumsfeld's request, he showed up at the Pentagon for a meeting with the defense secretary shortly before retiring. In this exclusive excerpt, Sanchez details what happened next:

I walked into Rumsfeld's office at 1:25 p.m. on April 19, 2006. He had just returned from a meeting at the White House, and the only other person present in the room was his new Chief of Staff, John Rangel.

"Ric, it's been a long time," Rumsfeld said, greeting me in a friendly manner. "I'm really sorry that your promotion didn't work out. We just couldn't make it work politically. Sending a nomination to the Senate would not be good for you, the Army, or the department."

"I understand, sir," I replied.

Then we walked over to his small conference table. "Have a seat," he said. "Now, Ric, what are your timelines?"

"Well, sir, my transition leave will start in September with retirement the first week of November."

[...]

Secretary Rumsfeld then pulled out a two-page memo and handed it to me. "I wrote this after a promotion interview about two weeks ago," he explained. "The officer told me that one of the biggest mistakes we made after the war was to allow CENTCOM and CFLCC to leave the Iraq theater immediately after the fighting stopped -- and that left you and V Corps with the entire mission."

"Yes, that's right," I said.

"Well, how could we have done that?" he said in an agitated, but adamant, tone. "I knew nothing about it. Now, I'd like you to read this memo and give me any corrections."

In the memo, Rumsfeld stated that one of the biggest strategic mistakes of the war was ordering the major redeployment of forces and allowing the departure of the CENTCOM and CFLCC staffs in May - June 2003.

"This left General Sanchez in charge of operations in Iraq with a staff that had been focused at the operational and tactical level, but was not trained to operate at the strategic/operational level." He went on to write that neither he nor anyone higher in the Administration knew these orders had been issued, and that he was dumbfounded when he learned that Gen. McKiernan was out of the country and in Kuwait, and that the forces would be drawn down to a level of about 30,000 by September. "I did not know that Sanchez was in charge," he wrote.

I stopped reading after I read that last statement, because I knew it was total BS. After a deep breath, I said, "Well, Mr. Secretary, the problem as you've stated it is generally accurate, but your memo does not accurately capture the magnitude of the problem. Furthermore, I just can't believe you didn't know that Franks's and McKiernan's staffs had pulled out and that the orders had been issued to redeploy the forces."

Hillary's War

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The truth about Hillary's stance on the Iraq War and how she's shaded her past statements to protect her candidacy. H/T to LJW and peraspera for highlighting this article.

Hillary's War
By Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr.
Published: June 3, 2007

Nevertheless, on the sensitive issue of collaboration between Al Qaeda and Iraq, Senator Clinton found herself adopting the same argument that was being aggressively pushed by the administration. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials had repeated their claim frequently, and by early October 2002, two out of three Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was connected to the Sept. 11 attacks. By contrast, most of the other Senate Democrats, even those who voted for the war authorization, did not make the Qaeda connection in their remarks on the Senate floor. One Democratic senator who voted for the war resolution and praised President Bush for his course of ''moderation and deliberation,'' Joe Biden of Delaware, actively assailed the reports of Al Qaeda in Iraq, calling them ''much exaggerated.'' Senator Dianne Feinstein of California described any link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda as ''tenuous.''

The Democratic senator who came closest to echoing Clinton's remarks about Hussein's supposed assistance to Al Qaeda was Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. Yet even Lieberman noted that ''the relationship between Al Qaeda and Saddam's regime is a subject of intense debate within the intelligence community.''

For most of those who had served in the Clinton administration, the supposed link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda had come to seem baseless. ''We all knew it was [expletive],'' said Kenneth Pollack, who was a national-security official under President Clinton and a leading proponent of overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Pollack says he discussed Iraq with Clinton before her vote in 2002, but he won't disclose his advice.

The lengthy article is well-researched and it cosupports what I recall hearing on NPR. My local NPR station broadcasts to southwestern CT and Long Island hence we get both CT and NY news including coverage of the respective senators Dodd, Lieberman, Clinton and Schumer. I recall yelling at the radio regularly when they reported on Lieberman and Clinton. The real point is that Hillary and Hillary's campaign have done a good job in spinning her into a candidate acceptable to the cultural right. And her stance on the Iraq war and the flag-burning bill and numerous other items were all highlighted as attempts to triangulate, to make herself acceptable to conservatives when they happened. Somehow people have forgotten that.

What concerns me most though is her nuclear umbrella stance and war-mongering concerning Iran. I thought we'd learned our lesson about politicians who talk about war for political purposes. We've just had 7+ years of that. We don't need anymore.

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