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Author Topic: The 2008 Presidential Race  (Read 168882 times)
ccp
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« Reply #400 on: February 08, 2008, 09:10:55 PM »

Contrast this piece to one Noonan wrote in 2005 essentially saying, Obama you ain't no Abraham Lincoln:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110006884
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ccp
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« Reply #401 on: February 09, 2008, 10:26:15 AM »

Morris and others think that if Obama has a sizable lead the Clinton superdelegates will have to vote for him.

I'm not so sure.  I find this surprising from one who is clear that there is absolutely nothing that the Clintons won't do to win.  Will their superdelegate cronies do the same?  I think many would  vote for HC anyway expecting the payoffs.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #402 on: February 09, 2008, 06:21:35 PM »

Like Will Rogers said some 80 years ago "I am not a member of an organized political party.  I am a Democrat."
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DougMacG
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« Reply #403 on: February 10, 2008, 03:04:03 PM »

To be fair, Peggy Noonan's observation that Obama is no Lincoln is from Jan. 2005 when Obama had been in the U.S. Senate for about a minute.  He still is no Lincoln or even McCain for that matter in terms of any accomplishments, good or bad, but he is the candidate of excitement this year (which is exactly the quality that my candidate lacked).  Obama's oratory deliberately lacks specifics and hasn't been challenged with tough follow up questions or substantive debate. 

Democrats face two high-risk choices. Obama might or might not be a great candidate and President for them.  At least he represents some up-side risk.  Sen. Clinton could win a general election with high negatives but would serve more in the likeness of Richard Nixon than Abraham Lincoln.  One of the legacies of the Clinton-I Presidency that she wishes to continue was that they lost congress for for 12 years and lost the White House for the 8 years following. 
--

My first post since superTuesday - I convened our Republican caucus in 2006 in a small Republican town on the outskirts of Minneapolis and I sat literally alone in a schoolroom until I finally approved adjournment.  This year we rented City Hall and had 42 enthusiastic participants, mostly dissatisfied with elected Republicans and mostly dissatisfied with the existing choices of candidates, but the people showed up and express passion about their core beliefs.  Romney was the winner of the moment, just shortly before he dropped out.

The Newt piece (posted elsewhere) complains that we are doing nothing about Iran and is perfect proof that conservatives including myself who dislike McCain can not and will not sit out this election in a time of war.  While Obama wants dialog with terror organizations and Hillary just sees potential foreign contributors, McCain says he looked into Putin's eyes and saw the letters k-g-b.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2008, 03:16:35 PM by DougMacG » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #404 on: February 11, 2008, 02:57:34 PM »

Getting to 270
Can John McCain win in November?
February 11, 2008
WSJ
The conventional wisdom is that Republicans start at a serious disadvantage in trying to hold the White House. A still-unpopular war and a softening economy certainly represent challenges. So far, most of the enthusiasm in the primaries has been on the Democratic side, with some 13 million voters casting Democratic ballots and fewer than 9 million picking a GOP one.

But despite these obstacles, John McCain will now begin to assemble his fall election team with surprisingly good poll results. The average of all the recent national polls summarized by RealClearPolitics.com show the Arizona senator leading Hillary Clinton by 47% to 45% and trailing Barack Obama by only 44% to 47%. Both results are within the statistical margin of error for national polls, so it's fair to say Mr. McCain starts out with an even chance of winning.

How could that be? The answer is that the same maverick streak and occasional departures from conservative orthodoxy that make conservatives queasy have the opposite effect on independents and even some Democrats. Mr. McCain's favorable numbers with independents exceed those of Barack Obama, who has emphasized his desire to work across party lines.

* * *

All of this plays out in the Electoral College map that is the key to victory in November. One candidate or the other must win at least 270 electoral votes. The assumption has been that Democrats have an advantage because they can supposedly win every state John Kerry took in 2004 plus Ohio, which has fallen on hard economic times and seen its state Republican Party discredited. That would give the Democratic nominee at least 272 electoral votes.

But Mr. McCain's rise to the GOP nomination throws that calculation out the window. He is the only potential GOP candidate who is clearly positioned to keep the basic red-blue template of how each state voted in 2004 intact and then be able to move into blue territory.

Let's assume that Ohio goes to either Mr. Obama or Ms. Clinton. It's at least as likely that Mr. McCain could carry New Hampshire. The Granite State went only narrowly to Mr. Kerry, a senator from a neighboring state, and Mr. McCain has unique advantages there. New Hampshire elections are determined by how that state's fiercely independent voters go, and Mr. McCain has won over many of them in both the 2000 and 2008 GOP primaries. He spent 47 days in New Hampshire before this year's primary and is well-known in the state. If Mr. McCain lost Ohio but carried New Hampshire and all the other states Mr. Bush took in 2004, he would win, 270-268.

It's true that Democrats will make a play for states other than Ohio that Mr. Bush won. Iowa is a perennially competitive state that could go either way this fall. Arkansas polls show that Hillary Clinton might well be able to carry the state where she served as First Lady for over a decade.

But Mr. McCain's roots in the Rocky Mountain West complicate Democratic efforts to take states in that region. His fierce individualism and support for property rights play well in Nevada and Colorado, which were close in 2004. New Mexico, next door to Mr. McCain's Arizona, gave Mr. Bush a very narrow 49.6% to 49% victory in 2004. But Mr. McCain's nuanced position on immigration marks him as the GOP candidate who is most likely to hold the Hispanic voters who are the key to carrying New Mexico.

Mr. McCain also puts several Midwest battleground states in play. Should he pick Minnesota's Gov. Tim Pawlenty as his vice presidential choice, he might have a leg up on carrying both Minnesota and Wisconsin, which went narrowly for Mr. Kerry in 2004.

"The media markets in western Wisconsin get Minneapolis television and are oriented to their news--Pawlenty would be a plus there," says Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican. "McCain's independent stands would play well in that region--which is exactly where GOP presidential candidates have done poorly enough so that they lost statewide by 12,000 votes or so in both 2004 and 2000."

Mr. McCain can be competitive in other blue states. Michigan went Democratic in 2004 by only 3.4% of the total vote, and Oregon by just over 4%. The latest Field Poll in California puts Mr. McCain and Hillary Clinton in a statistical tie. If Democrats have to spend valuable time and resources holding down California, it will make it more difficult for them to take states they lost in 2000 and 2004.

Mr. McCain could even make a foray into the Northeast, where his support from Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic Party's 2000 vice presidential candidate, could put Connecticut in contention. Ditto New Jersey, which Mr. Bush lost by only 53% to 46% in 2004.

Then there is Pennsylvania, which John Kerry carried by only 2.5% points in 2004. Michael Smerconish, the most popular talk-show host in Philadelphia, believes Mr. McCain has a real chance to carry the state. While Mr. Smerconish is a conservative who didn't support Mr. McCain, he thinks "the conservative blasting of McCain is good publicity around here." His independence and maverick status are exactly the qualities that could help him carry the tightly contested Philadelphia suburbs that voted to re-elect GOP senator Arlen Specter, a moderate, in 2004 but rejected conservative Rick Santorum in 2006.

* * *

In some ways Mr. McCain resembles Nicolas Sarkozy, the French conservative who won last year's presidential election even though the retiring president, Jacques Chirac, was unpopular and a member of his own party. "Like Sarko, who was of Chirac's party but not of Chirac, America's swing voters have intuited over the years that there is little love lost between McCain and George Bush," says the blog Race42008.

Mr. Sarkozy was able to convince a majority of French voters that he represented real change that would improve conditions, while his socialist rival, Segolene Royal, represented risky change that could make matters worse. That is precisely the challenge Mr. McCain faces this year against Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

When you hear that the demise of the Republicans is a foregone conclusion, remember that when the campaign is joined this fall and voters will have to make real choices about the direction of the country, the result is likely to be close. Recall that pundits were ready to crown Michael Dukakis the winner of the 1988 election after he opened up a 17-point edge over George H.W. Bush. In 2000, they declared the race over around Labor Day after Al Gore opened up a clear lead over George W. Bush.

Given that polls show Mr. McCain is currently in a dead heat against either Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton, it would be wise for the pundits to show a little humility this year. The Democratic strategists I talk to believe the race will be hard-fought and close, regardless of the direction the economy or the war in Iraq takes.
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ccp
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« Reply #405 on: February 12, 2008, 09:08:42 AM »

Hi Doug,
Yeah I like Mitt too.  I have a relative who worked closely with his campaign.  I'll try to find out his plans.  Maybe he could run for congress for two years than run again.

Obama is no Abe Lincoln (never will be) and no McCain (yet) but the emotion he invokes is rare among politicians.  It must be emotional with Blacks who are witnnessing history before their eyes.  The last and probably only politician who invoke emotion with me was Ronald Reagan.  No one else before or since.   I like Bush senior.  I like Bush junior though he annoys me with illegals and the deficit.

It certainly is true that the offspring of Latinos many who were here illegally are going to influence our elections now.  We really have to get rid of the 200 year law that people born here are automatically citizens IMO.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #406 on: February 12, 2008, 10:13:58 AM »

Thanks CCP.  The selection process is ugly, but pretty soon we will see how well each party did putting its best foot forward.  I don't like McCain but maybe the reality is that he is the only Republican (at least in name) who could win right now.  It will be interesting to see if who he picks will become a likely successor, win or lose. 

On the Dem side, I agree the emotion is with Obama, the momentum is with Obama and the key match up polls against McCain are with Obama.  Counting out the Clintons is risky business for Democratic leaders and super delegates.  Reminds me (just slightly) of the Sunnis in Anbar dealing with al Qaida.  They needed to be 100% certain that these people wouldn't soon be in power before publicly and decisively turning against them.

I think Sen. Clinton would certainly pick Obama as her running mate and I think Obama would most certainly not pick Clinton.  Who he picks will be interesting.  Like Bush picking Cheney, Obama needs a boatload of experience and so-called gravitas.  But what prominent Democrat or Clinton administration former cabinet member with national security experience can he pick (Sandy Burger? Madeline Albright isn't eligible) that doesn't bring with it more negatives.  Since Obama doesn't know that he lacks experience, I predict he will make a bold move and pick someone else who lacks experience.  Advantage on the VEEP choice should go to McCain.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #407 on: February 12, 2008, 11:11:57 AM »

Interesting thoughts about BO's VP choice.
=================

The Caucus Men
By JAMES TARANTO
February 11, 2008

Years ago, before the Web was World Wide, we used to post our football picks to a Usenet newsgroup. Every Tuesday morning, we'd make predictions on which team would cover the spread in each of the past weekend's games. Other readers would make fun of us for posting predictions after the games had already been played, but they were just jealous because our picks were so uncannily accurate.

We think we're going to adopt that approach to political predictions, or at least to the Democratic nomination race, which has seen so many twists and turns. But if you listen to those who are still making predictions, everything's coming up Obama. The Politico's Ben Smith:

Obama's landslide victories in three mid-sized states Saturday suggest that he has the opportunity to build a significant lead over Hillary Rodham Clinton among the locked-in "pledged" delegates before the candidates face off in the big battlegrounds of Ohio and Texas on March 4.
The results in Washington and Nebraska vindicated Obama's strategy of preparing expensive efforts to organize votes after the Feb. 5 contests that many expected--wrongly--effectively to decide the race. Clinton's campaign, meanwhile, played down its own efforts in the states, though she did air television ads in both Washington and Nebraska.
Obama also won in Louisiana, buoyed by taking nearly 90 percent of the support of  black voters, according to exit polls.
All three of these states are in regions where Obama has already shown strength, so his victories aren't surprising. The margins, however, are impressive: 57% to 36% in the Louisiana primary, 68% to 32% in the Nebraska caucus and 68% to 31% in the Washington caucus. Then on Sunday, Obama won the Maine caucus, 59% to 40%. Mrs. Clinton was supposed to have a pretty good shot in Maine, having won primaries in nearby New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

But here's an interesting pattern: Whereas Obama and Mrs. Clinton are almost even in the number of primaries they've won (she has an advantage in the larger states), Obama has won virtually every caucus or other nonprimary nominating contest.

By our count, Mrs. Clinton has won 11 primaries: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma and Tennessee. (Under current Democratic Party rules the Florida and Michigan primaries are meaningless.)

Obama has won 9 primaries: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina and Utah. Mrs. Clinton so far has had an advantage in the biggest states, which is why she is looking ahead hopefully to Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania.

But Obama has won 10 caucuses or nominating conventions: Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Washington. Mrs. Clinton, by contrast, has won but a single caucus: in Nevada. She also has a slight lead in New Mexico's Feb. 5 caucus, in which provisional ballots are still being counted.

Blogger Kevin Drum offers some explanations for Obama's caucus advantage:

Caucuses require organization and Obama was better organized. They require enthusiasm and he has more enthusiastic supporters. They require time, and his demographic has more free time. They're mostly in small states, and Obama targeted small states. They're dominated by activists, and activists tend to support Obama.
To put it another way, caucuses require that a candidate's support be deep, while primaries require that it be broad.

It turns out that on the Republican side there is a primary/caucus gap too. John McCain has won 12 primaries: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina.

Mitt Romney won only 3 primaries, all in states where he had some personal connection: Michigan, where his father was governor; Massachusetts, where Romney himself was; and heavily Mormon Utah, where he ran the Olympics. And Mike Huckabee has won 5, all in the South: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee.

But Romney had considerable success in caucus or convention states, winning 8 of them: Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Wyoming. Huckabee has won 3: Iowa, Kansas and West Virginia. As for front-runner McCain, he has won only one caucus, in Washington state, and Huckabee is disputing the outcome there.

Winning a general election is largely a matter of getting more votes than the other guy. Having an enthusiastic base helps, but as President Goldwater and President McGovern can attest, it's not enough. If Obama faces McCain in November, the big question will be whether he can extend his appeal beyond the Democratic base. His reasonably strong showing in primaries suggests he may be able to do so.

As for our prediction, stay tuned: We'll have it for you on Nov. 5.
WSJ
« Last Edit: February 12, 2008, 12:19:38 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #408 on: February 12, 2008, 06:17:11 PM »

Washington Post

Obama's Farrakhan Test
 
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Who's Blogging» Links to this article 
By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, January 15, 2008; Page A13

Barack Obama is a member of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ. Its minister, and Obama's spiritual adviser, is the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. In 1982, the church launched Trumpet Newsmagazine; Wright's daughters serve as publisher and executive editor. Every year, the magazine makes awards in various categories. Last year, it gave the Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeter Award to a man it said "truly epitomized greatness." That man is Louis Farrakhan.

Maybe for Wright and some others, Farrakhan "epitomized greatness." For most Americans, though, Farrakhan epitomizes racism, particularly in the form of anti-Semitism. Over the years, he has compiled an awesome record of offensive statements, even denigrating the Holocaust by falsely attributing it to Jewish cooperation with Hitler -- "They helped him get the Third Reich on the road." His history is a rancid stew of lies.

It's important to state right off that nothing in Obama's record suggests he harbors anti-Semitic views or agrees with Wright when it comes to Farrakhan. Instead, as Obama's top campaign aide, David Axelrod, points out, Obama often has said that he and his minister sometimes disagree. Farrakhan, Axelrod told me, is one of those instances.

Fine. But where I differ with Axelrod and, I assume, Obama is that praise for an anti-Semitic demagogue is not a minor difference or an intrachurch issue. The Obama camp takes the view that its candidate, now that he has been told about the award, is under no obligation to speak out on the Farrakhan matter. It was not Obama's church that made the award but a magazine. This is a distinction without much of a difference. And given who the parishioner is, the obligation to speak out is all the greater. He could be the next American president. Where is his sense of outrage?

Any praise of Farrakhan heightens the prestige of the leader of the Nation of Islam. For good reasons and bad, he is already admired in portions of the black community, sometimes for his efforts to rehabilitate criminals. His anti-Semitism is either not considered relevant or is shared, particularly his false insistence that Jews have played an inordinate role in victimizing African Americans.

In this, Farrakhan stands history on its head. It was Jews who disproportionately marched for civil rights and, in Mississippi, died for that cause. Farrakhan and, in effect, Wright, despoil the graves of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and, of course, their black colleague James Chaney.

I can even see how someone, maybe even Obama, could dismiss Farrakhan as a pest, a silly man pushing a silly cause that poses no real threat to the Jewish community. Still, history tells us that anti-Semitism is not to be trifled with. It is a botulism of the mind.

The Obama and Clinton campaigns are involved in a tasteless tussle over the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. What is clear from rereading King's celebrated "I Have a Dream" speech of Aug. 28, 1963, is how inclusive that dream was -- "all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!' "

This, though, is not Farrakhan's dream. He has vilified whites and singled out Jews to blame for crimes large and small, either committed by others as well or not at all. (A dominant role in the slave trade, for instance.) He has talked of Jewish conspiracies to set a media line for the whole nation. He has reviled Jews in a manner that brings Hitler to mind.

And yet Wright heaped praise on Farrakhan. According to Trumpet, he applauded his "depth of analysis when it comes to the racial ills of this nation." He praised "his integrity and honesty." He called him "an unforgettable force, a catalyst for change and a religious leader who is sincere about his faith and his purpose." These are the words of a man who prayed with Obama just before the Illinois senator announced his run for the presidency. Will he pray with him just before his inaugural?

I don't for a moment think that Obama shares Wright's views on Farrakhan. But the rap on Obama is that he is a fog of a man. We know little about him, and, for all my admiration of him, I wonder about his mettle. The New York Times recently reported on Obama's penchant while serving in the Illinois legislature for merely voting "present" when faced with some tough issues. Farrakhan, in a strictly political sense, may be a tough issue for him. This time, though, "present" will not do.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #409 on: February 12, 2008, 06:33:37 PM »

And here's another strand of BO support:

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=28915_A_Che_Guevara_Flag_in_Obamas_Houston_Office&only
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ccp
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« Reply #410 on: February 12, 2008, 09:05:36 PM »

Word is Mitt is undecided as to whether he would stay in public or go back to private life.
I hope he gives it another shot.
It is thought he tactically erred by going "negative" too soon.

That may be why he seemed to be loathed by the others in the race.

Additional evidence towards this conclusion is that BO's success is partly due to his "positive" message.  He is the "uniter" yada yada yada....

Mitt is smart and a fast learner.  He won't make the same mistake twice from what I have heard.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #411 on: February 13, 2008, 08:13:38 AM »

FWIW I think Mitt was disliked by the others because of his silver spoon.

FWIW I think Mitt failed to catch on until too late because he did not seem genuine.  My impression of him was of a Ken doll.  He seemed lacking in depth in the early debates e.g. when asked a question about what he would first do in the event of another attack on the US (or something like that) he said something about asking the lawyers what he could do.  I remember the answer left me rolling my eyes.

Although he sometimes showed more substance in 1 on 1 interviews, for me it was not until his concession speech that I felt like the man expressed his vision and his passion.  The communication of "That vision thing" was missing until that moment-- and its why he "went negative"-- which often was only a fair pointing out of genuine differences, but seemed negative for the lack of the positive-- "the vision thing".

I think if he had shown that man that gave his concession speech from the beginning things might have gone differently.

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DougMacG
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« Reply #412 on: February 13, 2008, 12:40:00 PM »

"I think Mitt failed to catch on until too late because he did not seem genuine."

I agree.  For me, Mitt and Fred both fit my views on issues well enough.  Fred lack excitement.  Mitt lacked an authenticity.  I don't value excitement but others do and I value victory.  Mitt's move to pro-life alone was plausible and his presumed negative of being Mormon I think was politically manageable.  Mitt's move from governor of the most liberal state to perfectly conservative on all issues, just in time, was bizarre, leaving people not knowing what to think.

With non-Republican, non-conservative McCain as the nominee, the question remains - who is the leader in exile of the conservative movement.  The answer unfortunately remains no one, though Romney could certainly take another shot if he chooses.  On another try I see where he could be taken more seriously sooner and maybe not face so many competing voices.  Fred, Rudy and some of the others are likely out forever.

Conservatives lack consistency, lack good leaders, lack good followers and lack good policy writers.  Other than that ...
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #413 on: February 13, 2008, 01:30:17 PM »

If you are a billionaire, or a foreigner, and don't want it known that you are donating millions to a US presidential campaign, here's how (via Don Surber):
Secret Money Floods Campaigns
Big Count of Small Gifts Is Opaque to the Public
A torrent of secret money is flooding into the leading presidential campaigns, with more than $118 million, or one-quarter of the total raised in this cycle, banked without disclosure of who gave the funds or where the donations originated.

The money is coming from hundreds of thousands of donations of $200 or less, which have been widely praised for democratizing the system for funding White House bids. However, the surge in low-dollar gifts has come at the cost of transparency, since federal law only requires campaigns to itemize donations when a donor gives more than $200.

According to an analysis being released today by a Washington think tank, the Campaign Finance Institute, Senator Obama of Illinois led the pack with such small and secret donations, pulling in about $31 million during 2007. Rep. Ron Paul ran second in small gifts, raking in more than $17 million. At the end of the year, Senator Clinton and John EdwardsBusiness-Should-Not-Fear-Edwards Jan-08 , who has since dropped out, were essentially tied for third in unitemized, small contributions, with each candidate raising about $11 million.
...
However, one area of concern with the flood of donations, particularly those made online, is that foreigners could be weighing in illegally in an American election. Mr. Obama's Web site allows donors to choose an address in one of 227 possible countries or territories, including Iran, Iraq, Zimbabwe, and Yemen.
...
While it is a crime for most foreigners to donate to American campaigns at the federal level, those with so-called green card status can donate legally, as can Americans who live abroad.
And who's going to know if they aren't?
http://faustasblog.com/2008/02/foreign-millions-for-obama.html
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DougMacG
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« Reply #414 on: February 17, 2008, 06:57:30 PM »

Excerpts from a column/rant that covered more than the presidential race:

Victor Davis Hanson,  February 16, 2008
How We Got Where We Are—Turning Points of the Primaries

Candidates have intrinsic strengths and make their own fate, but the primary campaign did not necessarily have to end up where it did—since the following events were as pivotal as they were unexpected

1. Bill Clinton’s decision to drop the bite-the-lip therapeutic self and revert to the war-room hack, which along with Hillary’s clumsy civil rights revisionism turned off the liberal media.

2. Michelle Obama’s fiery speeches, that along with Oprah’s omnipresence, ended all notion that Barrack Obama was not black enough, and helped solidify the African-American base.

3. The Obama team’s decision to avoid detail and concentrate on his rock-star sermons on “change” and “hope”, that hypnotized voters, who after they woke and found he had said nothing had already joined the pied piper. In contrast, Huckabee’s specifics—fair tax, Bush’s “arrogant” foreign policy, invading Pakistan—proved the dangers of a rookie not talking only about “hope and change.”

4. Rudy Giuliani’s disastrous decision to delay, forgo face time and press coverage, and invest in Florida, based on the false assumption that leads in the national polls are static and are immune from the human desire to switch and side with the winner—even if the perception was created in tiny caucuses or small states primaries.

5. The New York Times’ decision to run serial stories on Giuliani’s personal life and petty sins of a decade prior.

6. Hillary’s scripted tear that gave her a second chance even as her cackle and screeching voice helped lose the first

7. The success of the surge by September/October that gave the McCain candidacy not only a second life, but also sanctioned his lonely and principled stand on the war when few were willing to invest in Iraq.

8. Mitt Romney’s decision to go negative in TV ads rather than give uplifting human speeches that proved effective only at the very end of his effort

9. Talk radio and right-wing base attacks on McCain that won him fides with independents and moderates, and some sympathy from mainstream Republicans

10. The vast dislike of the Clintons in the media, punditry, and among Democratic politicians—cf. Bill’s lectures and finger pointing and Hillary’s whining— who were all looking for a spark to ignite


He Kept Us Safe?

If we are not hit again, and if Iraq continues to settle down, in five years President Bush will be reassessed as the one who kept us safe after 9/11 when popular wisdom insisted that more attacks were to come. Soon someone will write a history detailing the losses al Qaeda suffered in Afghanistan and Iraq from a perspective other than “we created more terrorists”— such as “we killed thousands of committed terrorists over there, not here.”


Obamiana

Barrack Obama’s team should begin to worry that in the popular culture and even the mainstream media, people are beginning automatically to associate his set speech with vapidity, “hope” and “change” with saying nothing. If not curtailed, that Pavlovian identification will take on a life of its own.

Historians will wonder at what point the post-racialist Obama, who, it was alleged, “was not black enough”, transmogrified into “The Black Candidate” and began winning 85-95% of the black vote, even when head-to-head with the wife of the honorary “black” president. The downside, as Hillary’s campaign seems to be trying to exploit, is that racial identity politics married with appeals to upscale yuppie whites, is beginning to turn off other minorities such as Asians and Hispanics, as well as working whites. One lives and dies with appeals to the tribe, whether intended or not. A good example was Cruz Bustamante’s run for governor during the California Gray Davis recall. Suddenly commercials ran with crowds of Mexican-Americans shouting and waving red flags, and his ratings nosedived with each spot that aired.

Obama may well capture the nomination, but there is an outside chance that he will lose to Hillary all the key states so important in the general elections—California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Not a good sign for the November elections.

Much of the rhetoric of the Obama campaign concerns mortgage and student loans, with the clear implication that the borrower has been victimized, and is need of federal redress. Two observations: prior to the mortgage meltdown, the rhetoric had been “home ownership” or the notion that the “non-traditional” borrower had to be accommodated to get him into a first home. Now such marginal borrowers apparently were “tricked”, or coerced into buying more home than they could afford.

The same logic will apply to student loans, as we begin to hear all sorts of bail-out programs aimed at those “burdened”. Perhaps true, but in a great many of cases, many had no business going into debt for college, since they were not yet motivated and only limped through the undergraduate years, attending class haphazardly in a holding pattern, unsure whether to graduate or work or sort of both.

It may be a conservative canard, but the common theme of the Obama rhetoric is that the US is a depressingly oppressive place, where the poor citizen has not much income and gets no help from an uncaring government. It all sounds like 1929, not the entitlement colossus of 2008.
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« Reply #415 on: February 18, 2008, 10:41:08 AM »

The Grand Old White Party Confronts Obama
By FRANK RICH
Published: February 17, 2008
NY Times

THE curse continues. Regardless of party, it’s hara-kiri for a politician to step into the shadow of even a mediocre speech by Barack Obama.


Senator Obama’s televised victory oration celebrating his Chesapeake primary trifecta on Tuesday night was a mechanical rehash. No matter. When the networks cut from the 17,000-plus Obama fans cheering at a Wisconsin arena to John McCain’s victory tableau before a few hundred spectators in the Old Town district of Alexandria, Va., it was a rerun of what happened to Hillary Clinton the night she lost Iowa. Senator McCain, backed by a collection of sallow-faced old Beltway pols, played the past to Mr. Obama’s here and now. Mr. McCain looked like a loser even though he, unlike Senator Clinton, had actually won.

But he has it even worse than Mrs. Clinton. What distinguished his posse from Mr. Obama’s throng was not just its age but its demographic monotony: all white and nearly all male. Such has been the inescapable Republican brand throughout this campaign, ever since David Letterman memorably pegged its lineup of presidential contenders last spring as “guys waiting to tee off at a restricted country club.”

For Mr. McCain, this albatross may be harder to shake than George W. Bush and Iraq, particularly in a faceoff with Mr. Obama. When Mr. McCain jokingly invoked the Obama slogan “I am fired up and ready to go” in his speech Tuesday night, it was as cringe-inducing as the white covers of R & B songs in the 1950s — or Mitt Romney’s stab at communing with his inner hip-hop on Martin Luther King’s birthday. Trapped in an archaic black-and-white newsreel, the G.O.P. looks more like a nostalgic relic than a national political party in contemporary America. A cultural sea change has passed it by.

The 2008 primary campaign has been so fast and furious that we haven’t paused to register just how spectacular that change is. All the fretful debate about whether voters would turn out for a candidate who is a black or a woman seems a century ago. Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama vanquished the Democratic field, including a presidential-looking Southern white man with an enthusiastic following, John Edwards. What was only months ago an exotic political experiment is now almost ho-hum.

Given that the American story has been so inextricable from the struggle over race, the Obama triumph has been the bigger surprise to many. Perhaps because I came of age in the racially divided Washington public schools of the 1960s and had one of my first newspaper jobs in Richmond in the early 1970s, I almost had to pinch myself when Mr. Obama took 52 percent of Virginia’s white vote last week. The Old Dominion continues to astonish those who remember it when.

Here’s one of my memories. In 1970, Linwood Holton, the state’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction and a Richard Nixon supporter, responded to court-ordered busing by voluntarily placing his own children in largely black Richmond public schools. For this symbolic gesture, he was marginalized by his own party, which was hellbent on pursuing the emergent Strom Thurmond-patented Southern strategy of exploiting white racism for political gain. After Mr. Holton, Virginia restored to office the previous governor, Mills Godwin, a champion of the state’s “massive resistance” to desegregation.

Today Anne Holton, the young daughter sent by her father to a black school in Richmond, is the first lady of Virginia, the wife of the Democratic governor, Tim Kaine. Mr. Kaine’s early endorsement of Mr. Obama was a potent factor in his remarkable 28-point landslide on Tuesday.

For all the changes in Virginia and elsewhere, vestiges of the Southern strategy persist in some Republican quarters. Mr. McCain, however, has been a victim, rather than a practitioner, of the old racial gamesmanship. In his brutal 2000 South Carolina primary battle against Mr. Bush and Karl Rove, Mr. McCain’s adopted Bangladeshi daughter was the target of a smear campaign. He was also pilloried for accurately describing the Confederate flag as a “symbol of racism and slavery.” (Sadly, he started to bend this straight talk the very next day.) He is still paying for correctly describing Jerry Falwell, once an ardent segregationist, and Pat Robertson, a longtime defender of South African apartheid, as “agents of intolerance.” And of course Mr. McCain remains public enemy No. 1 to some in his party for resisting nativist overkill on illegal immigration.

Though Mr. Bush ran for president on “compassionate conservatism,” he diversified only his party’s window dressing: a 2000 Republican National Convention that had more African-Americans onstage than on the floor and the incessant photo-ops with black schoolchildren to sell No Child Left Behind. There are no black Republicans in the House or the Senate to stand with the party’s 2008 nominee. Exit polls tell us that African-Americans voting in this year’s G.O.P. primaries account for at most 2 to 4 percent of its electorate even in states with large black populations.

Mr. Obama’s ascension hardly means that racism is kaput in America, or that the country is “postracial” or “transcending race.” But it’s impossible to deny that another barrier has been surmounted. Bill Clinton’s attempt to minimize Mr. Obama as a niche candidate in South Carolina by comparing him to Jesse Jackson looks more ludicrous by the day. Even when winning five Southern states (Virginia included) on Super Tuesday in 1988, Mr. Jackson received only 7 to 10 percent of white votes, depending on the exit poll.

Whatever the potency of his political skills and message, Mr. Obama is also riding a demographic wave. The authors of the new book “Millennial Makeover,” Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais, point out that the so-called millennial generation (dating from 1982) is the largest in American history, boomers included, and that roughly 40 percent of it is African-American, Latino, Asian or racially mixed. One in five millennials has an immigrant parent. It’s this generation that is fueling the excitement and some of the record turnout of the Democratic primary campaign, and not just for Mr. Obama.

Even by the low standards of his party, Mr. McCain has underperformed at reaching millennials in the thriving culture where they live. His campaign’s effort to create a MySpace-like Web site flopped. His most-viewed appearances on YouTube are not viral videos extolling him or replaying his best speeches but are instead sendups of his most reckless foreign-policy improvisations — his threat to stay in Iraq for 100 years and his jokey warning (sung to the tune of the Beach Boys’ version of “Barbara Ann”) that he will bomb Iran. In the vast arena of the Internet he has been shrunk to Grumpy Old White Guy, the G.O.P. brand incarnate.

The theory of the McCain candidacy is that his “maverick” image will bring independents (approaching a third of all voters) to the rescue. But a New York Times-CBS News poll last month found that independents have even a lower opinion of Mr. Bush, the war, the surge and the economy than the total electorate and skew slightly younger. Though the independents in this survey went 44 percent to 32 percent for Mr. Bush over John Kerry in 2004, they now prefer a Democratic presidential candidate over a Republican by 44 percent to 27 percent.

Mr. McCain could get lucky, especially if Mrs. Clinton gets the Democratic nomination and unites the G.O.P., and definitely if she tosses her party into civil war by grabbing ghost delegates from Michigan and Florida. But those odds are dwindling. More likely, the Republican Party will face Mr. Obama with a candidate who reeks even more of the past and less of change than Mrs. Clinton does. I was startled to hear last week from a friend in California, a staunch anti-Clinton Republican businessman, that he was wavering. Though he regards Mr. McCain as a hero, he wrote me: “I am tired of fighting the Vietnam war. I have drifted toward Obama.”

Similarly, Mark McKinnon, the Bush media maven who has played a comparable role for Mr. McCain in this campaign, reaffirmed to Evan Smith of Texas Monthly weeks ago that he would not work for his own candidate in a race with Mr. Obama. Elaborating to NPR last week, Mr. McKinnon said that while he is “100 percent” for Mr. McCain and disagrees with Mr. Obama “on very fundamental issues,” he likes Mr. Obama and what he’s doing for the country enough to stay on the sidelines rather than fire off attack ads.

As some Republicans drift away in a McCain-Obama race, who fills the vacuum? Among the white guys flanking Mr. McCain at his victory celebration on Tuesday, revealingly enough, was the once-golden George Allen, the Virginia Republican who lost his Senate seat and presidential hopes in 2006 after being caught on YouTube calling a young Indian-American Democratic campaign worker “macaca.”

In that incident, Mr. Allen added insult to injury by also telling the young man, “Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.” As election results confirmed both in 2006 and last week, it is Mr. Allen who is the foreigner in 21st century America, Mr. Allen who is in the minority in the real world of Virginia. A national rout in 2008 just may be that Republican Party’s last stand.
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« Reply #416 on: February 20, 2008, 05:11:55 AM »


Just a stray observation.  I find it remarkable how Lady Evita remains smiling, happy, confident, etc. as everything appears to be going down in flames.
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« Reply #417 on: February 20, 2008, 09:02:05 AM »

Hi Crafty,

Yes I agree with your thoughts.

It will be interesting to see how the two of them handle it if they go on to  lose.

You know at least behind the scenes they will play the blame game.. It is the media's fault, Penns fault, or blame anybody but themselves.  Would this mean they are done with politics?  My guess is they will run again someday.  How old is Evita? 60?  She is still a Senator.  He can't handle the private life. 

Or maybe they'll kick him out of Harlem and he'll move to Hollywood and go onto making movies.  They will love him there.  He would love the paparazzi, and the girls.

BTW, what is the story about hedge funds and politicians?  John Edwards made a kiilling.  Now Chelsea.  We need a good journalist to look into this. 
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« Reply #418 on: February 20, 2008, 09:42:41 AM »


Just a stray observation.  I find it remarkable how Lady Evita remains smiling, happy, confident, etc. as everything appears to be going down in flames.


Behind closed doors? I think not.....
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« Reply #419 on: February 20, 2008, 10:14:33 AM »

During the Clinton era there were a lot of stories about her being a real foul mouthed c*nt to the people who worked for her.  Recently a deep LEO friend told me about being on a detail which included Secret Service, one of whom confided a little story , , ,
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« Reply #420 on: February 21, 2008, 06:56:26 AM »

WSJ

Obama's New Vulnerability
By KARL ROVE
February 21, 2008; Page A17

In campaigns, there are sometimes moments when candidates shift ground, causing the race to change dramatically. Tuesday night was one of those moments.

Hammered for the 10th contest in a row, Hillary Clinton toughened her attacks on Barack Obama, saying he was unready to be commander in chief and unable to back his inspiring words with a record of action and leadership.

 
John McCain also took on Mr. Obama, with the Arizona senator declaring he would oppose "eloquent but empty calls for change that promises no more than a holiday from history and a return to the false promises and failed policies of a tired philosophy that trusts in government more than people."

Mr. McCain, too, raised questions about Mr. Obama's fitness to be commander in chief. Mr. McCain pointed to Mr. Obama's unnecessary sabre-rattling at an ally (Pakistan) while appeasing our adversaries (Iran and Syria). Mr. McCain also made it clear that reining in spending, which is a McCain strength and an Obama weakness, would be a key issue.

Mr. Obama had not been so effectively criticized before. In the Democratic contest, John Edwards and Mrs. Clinton were unwilling to confront him directly or in a manner that hurt him. Mr. McCain was rightly preoccupied by his own primary. On Tuesday night, things changed.

Perhaps in response to criticisms that have been building in recent days, Mr. Obama pivoted Tuesday from his usual incantations. He dropped the pretense of being a candidate of inspiring but undescribed "post-partisan" change. Until now, Mr. Obama has been making appeals to the center, saying, for example, that we are not red or blue states, but the United States. But in his Houston speech, he used the opportunity of 45 (long) minutes on national TV to advocate a distinctly non-centrist, even proudly left-wing, agenda. By doing so, he opened himself to new and damaging contrasts and lines of criticism.

Mr. McCain can now question Mr. Obama's promise to change Washington by working across party lines. Mr. Obama hasn't worked across party lines since coming to town. Was he a member of the "Gang of 14" that tried to find common ground between the parties on judicial nominations? Was Mr. Obama part of the bipartisan leadership that tackled other thorny issues like energy, immigration or terrorist surveillance legislation? No. Mr. Obama has been one of the most dependably partisan votes in the Senate.

Mrs. Clinton can do much more to draw attention to Mr. Obama's lack of achievements. She can agree with Mr. Obama's statement Tuesday night that change is difficult to achieve on health care, energy, poverty, schools and immigration -- and then question his failure to provide any leadership on these or other major issues since his arrival in the Senate. His failure to act, advocate or lead on what he now claims are his priorities may be her last chance to make a winning argument.

Mr. McCain gets a chance to question Mr. Obama's declaration he won't be beholden to lobbyists and special interests. After Mr. Obama's laundry list of agenda items on Tuesday night, Mr. McCain can ask why, if Mr. Obama rejects the influence of lobbyists, has he not broken with any lobbyists from the left fringe of the Democratic Party? Why is he doing their bidding on a range of issues? Perhaps because he occupies the same liberal territory as they do.

The truth is that Mr. Obama is unwilling to challenge special interests if they represent the financial and political muscle of the Democratic left. He says yes to the lobbyists of the AFL-CIO when they demand card-check legislation to take away the right of workers to have a secret ballot in unionization efforts, or when they oppose trade deals. He won't break with trial lawyers, even when they demand the ability to sue telecom companies that make it possible for intelligence agencies to intercept communications between terrorists abroad. And he is now going out of his way to proclaim fidelity to the educational unions. This is a disappointment since he'd earlier indicated an openness to education reform. Mr. Obama backs their agenda down the line, even calling for an end to testing, which is the only way parents can know with confidence whether their children are learning and their schools working.

These stands represent not just policy vulnerabilities, but also a real danger to Mr. Obama's credibility and authenticity. He cannot proclaim his goal is the end of influence for lobbies if the only influences he seeks to end are lobbies of the center and the right.

Unlike Bill Clinton in 1992, Mr. Obama is completely unwilling to confront the left wing of the Democratic Party, no matter how outrageous its demands, no matter how out of touch it might be with the American people. And Tuesday night, in a key moment in this race, he dropped the pretense that his was a centrist agenda. His agenda is the agenda of the Democratic left.

In recent days, courtesy of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Mr. Obama has invoked the Declaration of Independence, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Franklin Roosevelt to show the power of words. But there is a critical difference between Mr. Obama's rhetoric and that of Jefferson, King and FDR. In each instance, their words were used to advance large, specific purposes -- establishing a new nation based on inalienable rights; achieving equal rights and a color-blind society; giving people confidence to endure a Great Depression. For Mr. Obama, words are merely a means to hide a left-leaning agenda behind the cloak of centrist rhetoric. That garment has now been torn. As voters see what his agenda is, his opponents can now far more effectively question his authenticity, credibility, record and fitness to be leader of the free world.

The road to the presidency just got steeper for Barack Obama, and all because he pivoted on Tuesday night.

Mr. Rove is a former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
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« Reply #421 on: February 22, 2008, 08:28:06 AM »

Nearly $100,000 went for party platters and groceries before the Iowa caucuses, even though the partying mood evaporated quickly. Rooms at the Bellagio luxury hotel in Las Vegas consumed more than $25,000; the Four Seasons, another $5,000. And top consultants collected about $5 million in January, a month of crucial expenses and tough fund-raising.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s latest campaign finance report, published Wednesday night, appeared even to her most stalwart supporters and donors to be a road map of her political and management failings. Several of them, echoing political analysts, expressed concerns that Mrs. Clinton’s spending priorities amounted to costly errors in judgment that have hamstrung her competitiveness against Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.

“We didn’t raise all of this money to keep paying consultants who have pursued basically the wrong strategy for a year now,” said a prominent New York donor. “So much about her campaign needs to change — but it may be too late.”

The high-priced senior consultants to Mrs. Clinton, of New York, have emerged as particular targets of complaints, given that they conceived and executed a political strategy that has thus far proved unsuccessful.

The firm that includes Mark Penn, Mrs. Clinton’s chief strategist and pollster, and his team collected $3.8 million for fees and expenses in January; in total, including what the campaign still owes, the firm has billed more than $10 million for consulting, direct mail and other services, an amount other Democratic strategists who are not affiliated with either campaign called stunning.

Howard Wolfson, the communications director and a senior member of the advertising team, earned nearly $267,000 in January. His total, including the campaign’s debt to him, tops $730,000.

The advertising firm owned by Mandy Grunwald, the longtime media strategist for both Mrs. Clinton and Bill Clinton, the former president, has collected $2.3 million in fees and expenses, and is still owed another $240,000.

“Fees and payments are in line with industry standards,” Mr. Wolfson said. “Spending priorities have been consistent with overall strategic goals.”

But some Democrats are now asking if the money spent on a campaign that appears to be sputtering — $106 million so far — was worth it.

“It’s easy to be critical, but had she won Iowa, none of this would have mattered. It wouldn’t have mattered what she spent because money would have come pouring in,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic political consultant and a veteran of Mr. Clinton’s successful 1996 re-election bid. “But the fact that she did not has made everyone focus on where the dollars went — and where they think the money should’ve gone.”

Mrs. Clinton came into January with a cash advantage over Mr. Obama, with about $19 million available for the primary, compared with about $13 million for him. She wound up spending at roughly the same rate as Mr. Obama, about a million dollars a day, but because she performed dismally compared to him in raising money, she ended the month essentially in the red and was forced to lend her campaign $5 million, while he had $19 million for the coming contests.

Over all, Mrs. Clinton has spent more than $35 million on media, polling and consulting. A comparison with Mr. Obama’s spending is difficult because of the ways the campaigns labeled expenses, but it appears he spent about $40 million in those areas.

In other notable expenditures during the lean month of January, Mrs. Clinton paid $275,000 to Sunrise Communications, a South Carolina firm that was supposed to turn out black voters for her and collected nearly $800,000 in total. She lost that state to Mr. Obama by a wide margin. Even small expenses piled up in January: the campaign spent more than $11,000 on pizza and $1,200 on Dunkin’ Donuts runs.

Mr. Penn, the chief strategist, said in an interview that, since 2001, he no longer owned any of the political consulting firm of Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates. He said the firm’s fees were capped at $20,000 a month and that the “great bulk” of the payments went for direct mail.

Joe Trippi, who was a senior adviser to John Edwards’s presidential campaign, said he believed that the Clinton team had made two fundamental errors.

First, he argued, Mrs. Clinton built a top-down fund-raising operation that relied on a core group of donors to write checks early on for the maximum amount, $4,600 for the primary and the general election, which left few of them to go back to when money became tight. Mr. Obama, by contrast, focused on building a network of small donors whose continued ability to give has been essential to his success this winter.

========================

Page 2 of 2)


And second, Mr. Trippi said, the Clinton campaign spent money as though the race were going to be over after a handful of states had voted and was not prepared for a contest that would stretch for months.

“The problem is she ran a campaign like they were staying at the Ritz-Carlton,” Mr. Trippi said. “Everything was the best. The most expensive draping at events. The biggest charter. It was like, ‘We’re going to show you how presidential we are by making our events look presidential.’ ”

For instance, during the week before the Jan. 19 caucuses in Nevada, the Clinton campaign spent more than $25,000 for rooms at the Bellagio in Las Vegas; nearly $5,000 was spent at the Four Seasons in Las Vegas that week. Some staff members also stayed at Planet Hollywood nearby.

From the start of the campaign, some donors had concerns about the Clinton team’s ability to manage money.

Patti Solis Doyle, Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign manager until she was replaced on Feb. 10, also ran her Senate re-election bid in 2006. That campaign spent about $30 million even though Mrs. Clinton faced only token Democratic and Republican opposition.

“The Senate race spending in 2006 was an omen for a lot of us inside the campaign, but Hillary assured us that her presidential bid would be the best run in history,” said one major Clinton fund-raiser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations within the campaign.

Yet the Clinton campaign at times found itself spending money on items that were not ultimately helpful. As part of their get-out-the-vote effort in Iowa, the campaign came up with a plan to have a local supermarket deliver sandwich platters to pre-caucus parties. It spent more than $95,384 on Jan. 1 at Hy-Vee Inc., a local grocery chain in West Des Moines, Iowa, in addition to buying loads of snow shovels to clear the walks for caucusgoers. Mrs. Clinton came in third in the Jan. 3 caucus. It did not snow.

Mr. Obama’s fund-raising surged after his Iowa victory. In January, he brought in more than $2.50 for every $1 she was given, and from Jan. 5 to Feb. 5, Mr. Obama spent nearly $16 million on political advertisements — more than $4 million more than Mrs. Clinton, according to a survey by the Campaign Media Analysis Group at TNS Media Intelligence. Mr. Obama broadcast 3,000 more advertisements than she did, and he was able to air those ads not only in the states that were immediately up for grabs but also in contests on Feb. 5 and beyond.

For instance, Mr. Obama spent nearly $480,000 on 1,331 spots in Missouri; he won the state’s primary, a closely fought contest and a national political bellwether, by one percentage point.

Mr. Obama’s campaign is not without highly paid consultants. His top media strategist is David Axelrod, whose firm received $175,000 in January and has collected $1.2 million over all. Mr. Obama’s polling is spread between four firms that have received $2.8 million collectively.

“Obviously, some campaigns are more careful and wise with their money than others,” Jim Jordan, a Democratic consultant who ran John Kerry’s presidential campaign until November 2003. “But these budgetary post-mortems tend to follow a familiar pattern; winners are by definition smart, and losers are dumb and wasteful. In truth, campaign budgeting is hard and complicated and three-dimensional and just impossible to understand without the full time-and-place context of the whole race.”

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« Reply #422 on: February 24, 2008, 02:45:47 PM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2008/02/24/good-news-ralph-nader-running-for-president/

Oh, thank god! Now if only Bloomberg would get in....  evil
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« Reply #423 on: February 25, 2008, 10:45:23 AM »

HRC tosses a Hail Mary...... http://drudgereport.com/flashoa.htm  grin
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« Reply #424 on: February 26, 2008, 11:37:13 AM »

Is That Your Final Question?
Published: February 26, 2008
NY Times
Tonight, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will debate in Ohio. It will be the 20th debate, and possibly the last, of the Democratic presidential campaign. Is there anything left to ask? The Opinion section asked five experts to pose the questions that they feel have not been answered over the course of more than a year of campaigning. Here’s what they would ask the candidates if they were moderating tonight’s debate.


1. Responding to a questionnaire from The Boston Globe on presidential power, you both criticized President Bush’s use of signing statements, with which he has asserted a constitutional right to bypass more than 1,000 sections of bills that he has signed into law. You both also said you would continue using signing statements, though in a less aggressive way.

But the American Bar Association has called for an end to this practice, and Senator John McCain says he will never issue a signing statement. Why are they wrong?

2. Both of you have said the Constitution does not allow a president to detain a citizen without charges as an enemy combatant. But President Bush won court rulings upholding the indefinite detention of two Americans as enemy combatants. Were the courts wrong? Does a president have the authority to interpret the Constitution differently from the judiciary? Would you ever use the court-approved authority to hold a citizen indefinitely as an enemy combatant?

3. Both of you have said that President Bush cannot attack Iran without first obtaining Congressional authorization for the use of military force. But two Democratic presidents, Harry Truman and Bill Clinton, ordered American forces into extended armed conflicts without Congressional authorization. Did the Korean and Kosovo wars violate the Constitution? Would an attack on Iran be legally different, and if so, how?

4. Are there any circumstances — including in matters of detention, surveillance, interrogation and troop deployments — under which you believe that presidents have the constitutional power as commander in chief to bypass laws in order to take an action they think is necessary to protect national security?

5. Proponents of the so-called unitary executive theory argue that the Constitution does not allow Congress to enact statutes that place the actions of executive-branch officials beyond the president’s control, such as by giving independent decision-making authority to the head of a regulatory agency. Do you agree?

— CHARLIE SAVAGE, a reporter for The Boston Globe and the author of “Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy.”

1. Social Security will go into a cash deficit during the next president’s prospective second term. Therefore, if elected, you will: a) do nothing and leave growing deficits to your successor; b) cut benefits, eligibility or both, as President Bush tried; c) raise the payroll tax; or d) there is no d. Those are the only options.

2. Domestic gun owners kill more Americans each year than terrorists have in total since 2000 (even if you define all American fatalities in Iraq as related to terrorism). Can the homeland be secure when our schools are not? If your answer is no, will you take on the National Rifle Association and work for a gun law with teeth?

3. Senator Obama, virtually all economists say trade is good for growth, but you have blamed trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement for the loss of American jobs. Do you really think building an economic wall along the Rio Grande will promote a stronger, more resilient American economy, and if so why?

4. Senator Clinton, will you take on your Wall Street friends and raise the effective income tax on private-equity fund managers and hedge fund managers, who are now taxed at the capital gains rate of 15 percent? Please explain why the richest Americans should pay the lowest taxes.

5. Senator Obama, you rail against the oil companies, but under the American system of free enterprise, aren’t companies supposed to earn a profit — and even to charge what the market will bear?

==========



6. Franklin D. Roosevelt, a president you both have evoked, said Americans need fear only fear itself. Under President Bush, Americans have been told to so fear terrorism that the executive branch has been permitted to snoop on citizens, hijack the powers of Congress and torture foreigners. Do you agree that fear of terrorism has been pushed too far, and if so, what measures would you adopt to return the United States to a more normal civilian life?

— ROGER LOWENSTEIN, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and the author of the forthcoming “While America Aged.”
1. Both of you have argued for more widespread access to the Internet in schools. Given the recent “To Read or Not to Read” report from the National Endowment for the Arts, which revealed a steep decline in reading among young people, and the lack of evidence that computers in the classroom help students learn, wouldn’t federal funds be better spent on projects that encourage reading and engagement with the arts?

2. The Internet is often praised as a liberating force in American culture, but it has also drawn comparisons to an unruly mob. Would you support a federally financed, long-term study of how our use of this technology is changing our behavior, for good and for ill?

3. You have both admitted to being BlackBerry addicts. How has this desire for constant connection and endless information changed your personal relationships and how has it transformed political culture?

— CHRISTINE ROSEN, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a senior editor of The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society.

The long advocacy for universal health-care coverage by Democrats has earned a base of public support, but it has also provided an easy focus for political attacks. Although universal coverage will protect businesses and families from unmanageable costs, it will also increase government spending considerably and increase government involvement in health care.

The strategy you have adopted as candidates is the same one that Democrats have used for decades without success (including in 1993, when I was a health policy adviser in the first Clinton administration). You have both designed plans that aim to minimize government costs and to minimize changes for Americans with good health coverage, while still constructing a safety net of coverage for the growing millions without insurance.

This approach, however, inevitably increases the complexity of our Rube Goldberg health system. It has made your policies difficult to explain. It has failed to prevent charges that you are promoting “socialized medicine.” And it has cost you the enthusiasm of Americans who want a simpler, tax-based, Medicare-for-all system.

How do you persuade supporters of single-payer health care that your proposals are worth fighting for? And how can you assure the rest of us that the costs and complexities of your plans are actually manageable?

— ATUL GAWANDE, a general surgeon, a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of “Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance.”

1. Senator Obama, as commander in chief an American president must understand the sense of honor that motivates his armed forces. Last September, MoveOn.org ran an advertisement in The Times that mocked Gen. David H. Petraeus, the American commander in Iraq, as “General Betray Us.” You chose not to vote on the Senate resolution that condemned the advertisement. Would you still characterize the Senate vote as a “stunt” and “empty politics”?

2. Samantha Power, one of Senator Obama’s chief foreign policy advisers, strongly criticized the United States in her book “A Problem From Hell” for failing to intervene in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and for the three-year delay in intervening in the Bosnian war, until the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Saddam Hussein also committed genocide by killing thousands of Iraqi Kurds with chemical weapons in the late 1980s and massacring thousands of Shiite marsh dwellers in southern Iraq after the first gulf war. How could we have left Mr. Hussein in power? How can Senator Obama say that removing a genocidal killer was a “dumb” war?

3. Senator Clinton, you have stated that American troop withdrawals from Iraq will begin as soon as you take office as president. But you also note on your campaign Web site that you will order “narrow and targeted operations against Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations in the region.”

Isn’t that what the surge is about? The United States and local leaders have allied to drive out members of Al Qaeda from Baghdad and other areas. How is your policy any different from the policy of President Bush?

4. The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution bars any former president from election to a third term. Is it truly consistent with the spirit of the Constitution to have the same professional couple occupying the White House for 12 years? Isn’t this all the more true when Bill Clinton promised that voters would receive, during his first term, “two for the price of one”?

— RUTH WEDGWOOD, a professor of international law and diplomacy at Johns Hopkins, was an adviser to the Rudolph Giuliani campaign.
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« Reply #425 on: February 29, 2008, 09:56:48 AM »

WSJ

Cut and Run and Then Run Back
By JAMES TARANTO
February 28, 2008

With Hillary Clinton being written off (perhaps prematurely), the eight-month general election campaign between John McCain and Barack Obama seems to be getting under way. Obama, apparently moving to the right, is now threatening military intervention in Iraq after years of demanding America's immediate surrender. As the Associated Press reports:

McCain criticized Obama for saying in Tuesday night's Democratic debate that, after U.S. troops were withdrawn, as president he would act "if al-Qaida is forming a base in Iraq."
"I have some news. Al-Qaida is in Iraq. It's called 'al-Qaida in Iraq,' " McCain told a crowd in Tyler, Texas, drawing laughter at Obama's expense. He said Obama's statement was "pretty remarkable."
Quips Glenn Reynolds: "In Obama's defense, he probably reads the New York Times, which always calls it 'Al Qaida in Mesopotamia.' That may have confused him."

Obama's response to McCain, described in the same AP dispatch, makes even less sense:

"I do know that al-Qaida is in Iraq and that's why I have said we should continue to strike al-Qaida targets," he told a rally at Ohio State University in Columbus.
"But I have some news for John McCain," Obama added. "There was no such thing as al-Qaida in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq. . . . They took their eye off the people who were responsible for 9/11 and that would be al-Qaida in Afghanistan, that is stronger now than at any time since 2001."
Obama said he intended to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq "so we actually start going after al-Qaida in Afghanistan and in the hills of Pakistan like we should have been doing in the first place."
So let's see if we have this straight. Al Qaeda in Iraq isn't worth fighting because it wouldn't be there if it weren't for Bush and McCain. Obama is going to pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq to go fight in Afghanistan and Pakistan, although he will send them back to Iraq if al Qaeda are there, even though he now wants to withdraw notwithstanding al Qaeda's presence.

Yes, we can!

By the way, the left has been denying al Qaeda's presence in Iraq since before the 2003 liberation. This is from a February 2003 article in In These Times, a leftist magazine:

[Secretary of State Colin] Powell told the world, "Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network, headed by Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda lieutenants." This information, Powell said, came from "detainees." But American officials have admitted those very detainees are subjected to torture, raising questions about the reliability of that information. . . .
Meanwhile, someone at Britain's Defense Intelligence Staff leaked a document to the BBC indicating that its agents doubt there is any link between al-Qaeda and Iraq. And the the [sic] New York Times reported that U.S. intelligence officials "said they were baffled by the Bush administration's insistence on a solid link between Iraq and Osama Bin Laden's network." The Times quoted an unnamed intelligence official: "We've been looking at this hard for more than a year and you know what, we just don't think it's there . . . the intelligence is obviously being politicized."
At least Zarqawi isn't in Iraq anymore.

Blame Canada?
"Barack Obama has ratcheted up his attacks on NAFTA, but a senior member of his campaign team told a Canadian official not to take his criticisms seriously," reports Canada's CTV:

Within the last month, a top staff member for Obama's campaign telephoned Michael Wilson, Canada's ambassador to the United States, and warned him that Obama would speak out against NAFTA, according to Canadian sources.
The staff member reassured Wilson that the criticisms would only be campaign rhetoric, and should not be taken at face value.
Apparently the real enemy isn't Canada, it's cynicism.

Let's Get Metaphysical
Mystified by the Obama phenomenon? Let Susan Neiman of the Einstein Forum, writing in the Boston Globe, explain it all to you:

Strange as it sounds, this is an election where metaphysics may count more than demographics, and focusing on the latter misses the point. Metaphysics determines what you hold to be self-evident and what you hold to be possible; what you think has substance and what you can afford to ignore. Hope is based on, or undermined by, your metaphysical standpoint. . . .
If it's a message so catchy that it has now made the rounds of cyberspace as a star-studded video, it's also one with roots as deep as Immanuel Kant. The "Critique of Pure Reason" is not easy reading, but it makes some startling claims. Kant tells us that Plato's ideal of a perfectly just state was always dismissed as a utopian dream; but if everyone had worked to realize those ideals, they would be true today. . . .
Obama's is a message to demand more--and not just for the young. His idealism is unsettling to many not because it's naive, but because it poses a challenge. If you assume that things cannot get better you have nothing to do but sit back and watch them get worse.
Yes, we Kant!

McCain's Canal Birth
Having failed to gin up a sex scandal, the New York Times tries a new tack to stop John McCain:

Mr. McCain's likely nomination as the Republican candidate for president and the happenstance of his birth in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 are reviving a musty debate that has surfaced periodically since the founders first set quill to parchment and declared that only a "natural-born citizen" can hold the nation's highest office.
The Times labors mightily to present this as an actual controversy. It notes that in 1790 Congress passed a law "that did define children of citizens 'born beyond the sea, or out of the limits of the United States to be natural born,' " and, further, that "laws specific to the Canal Zone," then a U.S. territory, leave no doubt that McCain was born a citizen. So why does the Times think this is an issue? Because "whether he qualifies as natural-born has been a topic of Internet buzz for months." And if it's on the Internet, there has to be something to it.

The Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post have both dealt with this question, the latter way back in 1998, and both concluded with little trouble that McCain is indeed natural born. So he should have no problem--unless, perhaps, his mother had a caesarean section.

Where's the Rest of Me?
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« Reply #426 on: March 07, 2008, 08:32:23 AM »

Over the Top
March 7, 2008
An overview:

From the first voting in Iowa on Jan. 3 she had to prove that Clintons Are Magic. She wound up losing 11 in a row. Meaning Clintons aren't magic. He had to take her out in New Hampshire, on Super Tuesday or Junior Tuesday. He didn't. Meaning Obama isn't magic.

Two nonmagical beings are left.

What the Democrats lost this week was the chance to paint the '08 campaign as a brilliant Napoleonic twinning of strategy and tactics that left history awed. What they have instead is a ticket to Verdun. Trench warfare, and the daily, wearying life of the soldier under siege. The mud, the cold, the dank water rotting the boots, all of it punctuated by mad cries of "Over the top," bayonets fixed.

 
M.E. Cohen 
Do I understate? Not according to the bitter officers debating doomed strategy back in HQ. More on that in a minute.

This is slightly good for John McCain. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama hemorrhage money, exhaust themselves, bloody each other. He holds barbecues for the press and gets rid of a White House appearance in which the incumbent offers his dread embrace. Do it now, they'll forget by the summer. The president does not understand how unpopular he is and after a year on the trail with the faithful neither does Mr. McCain. Mr. Bush confided to a friend a few months ago, as he predicted a Giuliani win, that he'll eventually come out and campaign for the nominee big time. Talk about throwing the drowning man an anvil.

But it is not good for Mr. McCain that when he officially won this week it barely made page three. The lightning is on the Democratic side. Everything else seems old, like something that happened a year ago that you forgot to notice.

How did Hillary come back? Her own staff doesn't know. They fight over it because if they don't know how she carried Ohio and Texas they can't repeat the strategy.

So they figure backward. She won on Tuesday and did the following things in the weeks before, so . . . it was the kitchen-sink strategy. Or Hispanic outreach. Or the 3 a.m. ad. (The amazing thing was not that they lifted the concept from Walter Mondale's '84 run, but that the answer to the question "Who are you safer with?" was, The Woman. Not that people really view Hillary as a woman, but still: That would not have been the answer even 20 years ago.)

Did she come back because Mr. Obama's speech got a little boring? Was he coasting and playing it safe? Or was it that he didn't hit her hard enough? "He hasn't been able to find a way to be tough with a woman opponent," they say on TV. But that's not it, or is only half the truth. The other half is that it has long been agreed in the Democratic Party that one must not, one cannot, ever, refer to the long caravan of scandals that have followed the Clintons for 15 years. "We don't speak of the Clintons that way."

But why not? Everyone else does. Yes, the Obama sages will respond, that's the point: Everyone knows about cattle futures, etc. Everyone knows that if you Yahoo "Clintons" and "scandals" you get 4,430,000 hits.

But what if they do need to be reminded? What if they need to be told exactly what Mr. Obama means when he speaks of the tired old ways of Washington?

But voicing the facts would violate party politesse. So he loses the No. 1 case against her. But by losing the No. 1 case, he loses the No. 2 case: that she is the most divisive figure in the country, and that this is true because people have reason to view her as dark, dissembling, thuggish.

* * *

One Obama supporter on Root.com apparently didn't get the memo. That is the great threat to the Clintons, the number of young and independent Democrats who haven't received the memo about how Democrats speak of the Clintons. Writer Mark Q. Sawyer: "If Obama won't hit back, I will. Why aren't we talking about impeachment, Whitewater and Osama?"

What do I think is the biggest reason Mrs. Clinton came back? She kept her own spirits up to the point of denial and worked it, hard, every day. She is hardy, resilient, tough. She is a train on a track, an Iron Horse. But we must not become carried away with generosity. The very qualities that impress us are the qualities that will make her a painful president. She does not care what you think, she will have what she wants, she will not do the feints, pivots and backoffs that presidents must. She is neither nimble nor agile, and she knows best. She will wear a great nation down.

In any case the Clinton campaign, which has always been more vicious than clever, this week did a very clever thing. They pre-empted any criticism of past scandals by pushing a Democratic Party button called . . . the Monica story. Mr. Obama is "imitating Ken Starr" by speaking of Mrs. Clinton's record, said Howard Wolfson. But Ken Starr documented malfeasance. Mr. Obama can't even mention it.

* * *

Back to Verdun. There a bitter officer corps debated a strategy of pointless carnage—so many deaths, so little seized terrain, all of it barren. In a bark-stripping piece of reportage in the Washington Post, Peter Baker and Anne Kornblut captured "a combustible environment" in Hillary Headquarters. They cannot agree on what to do, or even what has been done in the past. And the dialogue. Blank you. Blank you! No blank you, you blank. Blank all of you. It's like David Mamet rewritten by Joe Pesci.

These are the things that make life worth living.

As for the Clinton surrogates, they are unappealing when winning. My favorite is named Kiki. When Hillary is losing, Kiki is valiant and persevering on the talk shows, and in a way that appeals to one's sympathies. "Go, Kiki!" I want to say as she parries with Tucker. But when Hillary is winning they're all awful, including Kiki. By memory, from Tucker, this week: Q: Why won't Hillary release her tax returns? A: It's February. Taxes are due April 15, are your taxes done? Q: No, no, we're talking past years, returns that have already been prepared. A: Are your taxes done? Mine aren't.

Wicked Kiki! This is my great fear, in a second Clinton era: four, eight years of wicked Kiki.

I end with a deadly, deadpan prediction from Christopher Hitchens. Hillary is the next president, he told radio's Hugh Hewitt, because, "there's something horrible and undefeatable about people who have no life except the worship of power . . . people who don't want the meeting to end, the people who just are unstoppable, who only have one focus, no humanity, no character, nothing but the worship of money and power. They win in the end."

It was like Claude Rains summing up the meaning of everything in the film "Lawrence of Arabia": "One of them's mad and the other is wholly unscrupulous." It's the moment when you realize you just heard the truth, the meaning underlying all the drama. "They win in the end." Gave me a shudder.
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« Reply #427 on: March 08, 2008, 09:30:02 PM »

March 08, 2008, 9:00 a.m.

Chain, Chain, Chain, Chain of Fools
When everybody’s a victim, nobody’s a victim.

By Mark Steyn

Well, we will have Hillary Clinton to kick around some more, at least for another few weeks. The Mummy (as my radio pal Hugh Hewitt calls her) kicked open the sarcophagus door and, despite the rotting bandages dating back to Iowa, began staggering around terrorizing folks all over again. “She is a monster,” Obama adviser Samantha Power told a reporter from the Scotsman — and not a monster in a cute Loch Ness blurry long-distance kind of way but something far more repulsive and in your face. “You just look at her and think, ‘Ergh,’” continued Ms. Power, warming to her theme perhaps more than is advisable even in an interview with an overseas newspaper.

The New York Times took a different line. The only monster is you — yes, you, the American people. Surveying the Hillary-Barack death match, Maureen Dowd wrote: “People will have to choose which of America’s sins are greater, and which stain will have to be removed first. Is misogyny worse than racism, or is racism worse than misogyny?”

Do even Democrats really talk like this? Apparently so. As Ali Gallagher, a white female (sorry, this identity-politics labeling is contagious) from Texas, told the Washington Post: “A friend of mine, a black man, said to me, ‘My ancestors came to this country in chains; I’m voting for Barack.’ I told him, ‘Well, my sisters came here in chains and on their periods; I’m voting for Hillary.’ ”

When everybody’s a victim, nobody’s a victim. Poor Ms. Gallagher can’t appreciate the distinction between purely metaphorical chains and real ones, or even how offensive it might be to assume blithely that there’s no difference whatsoever. But, if her sisters really came here in chains, it must have been Bondage Night at the Mayflower’s Swingers’ Club. On the other hand, Barack’s ancestors didn’t come here in chains either: his mother was a white Kansan, so was presumably undergoing menstrual hell with the Gallagher gals, and his dad was a black man a long way away in colonial Kenya. Indeed, Senator Obama would be the first son of a British subject to serve as president since those slaveholding types elected in the early days of the republic. As some aggrieved black activist sniffed snootily on TV, Barack isn’t really an “African-American” — unless by “African-American,” you mean somebody whose parentage is half-American and half-African, and let’s face it, no one would come up with so cockamamie a definition as that.

As for victims, you have to feel sorry for John Edwards. He was born in a mill. He weighed 1.6 pounds and what did his dad get? Another day older and deeper in debt. John spent most of his childhood in chains workin’ in the coalmine. He spent most of the 19th century as a spindly seven-year-old sweep with rickets cleaning chimneys in Dickensian London until Fagin spotted him and trained him up as a trial lawyer. And it worked swell in the 2004 primary but it counted for nothing this time round because, even with all that soot on his face, he’s still a white boy. Bill Richardson was the first Hispanic candidate but nobody needs a Hispanic called “Bill Richardson”. Hillary assumed she’d be the last identity-pol standing in a field of bouffant poseurs like Joe Biden, only to discover that by the time she got to the final round the Democratic primary process had descended to near parody — or, as the New York Times headline put it, a “Duel Of Historical Guilts.”

That’s one “historical guilt” too many. If it’s Historical Guilt vs. Joe Biden and John Edwards, bet on Historical Guilt, and the Democratic base uniting around Hillary and baying “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar”. Instead, it’s “I Am Woman, Hear Me Whine About The Unfairness Of It All,” as the Clintonites go nuclear and accuse Obama, the ultimate cool black dude, of “imitating Ken Starr,” the ultimate uptight squaresville honky. Which may be a marginally less ineffective line of attack than Gloria Steinem (now 112 but still fabulously hot) complaining to The New York Observer that way too many Americans want “redemption for racism” but not enough want “redemption for the gynocide.” Which may, in turn, be a marginally less fatal shot in the foot than former Carter-administration honcho Andrew Young’s perplexing boast that Bill Clinton has slept with more black women than Obama.

The Democratic primary season seems to have dwindled down into a psycho remake of Driving Miss Daisy. The fading matriarch Mizz Hill’ry (Jessica Tandy) doesn’t want to give up the keys to the Democratic-party vehicle but the dignified black chauffeur Hokey (Morgan Freeman) insists it’ll be a much smoother ride with him in the driver’s seat, full of gear change you can believe in, etc. Yet, just as he thinks the old biddy’s resigned to a nomination as Best Supporting Actress, the backseat driver plunges her hat pin into his spine, wrests the wheel away and lurches across the median.

Is the Democratic presidential process a Karl Rove plot? Right now, neither Mizz Hill’ry nor Hokey can win without the votes of the “super-delegates,” whose disposition is apparently in flux. The gay super-delegates, as I noted a week or two back, are apparently sticking to Hillary like the Hello, Dolly! waiters to Carol Channing. But others are said to be moving Barackwards. Are they jumping to a stalled bandwagon? One Historical Guilt gives upscale white liberals a chance to demonstrate their progressive bona fides in unison and with nary a thought. Two Historical Guilts shrivels from transformative feelgood fluffiness into sour tribalism. Like Hillary’s “I Am Woman” routine, Obama’s cult of narcissism — “We are the change we have been waiting for” — would have been a shoo-in against Biden, Dodd, and Edwards. But the gaseous platitudes wafting up to Cloud Nine are suddenly very earthbound. “Yes, we can!” is an effective pitch if you’re the new messiah, not so much when you’re pulling in a very humdrum fortysomething percent against a divisive and strikingly inept campaigner.

Go back to that Maureen Dowd line: “People will have to choose which of America’s sins are greater.”

“People won’t, Democrats will,” the blogger Orrin Judd responded. “People will elect John McCain in November, demonstrating that we don’t share their guilt.”

Maybe. But a Democrat nominating process that’s a self-torturing satire of upscale liberal guilt confusions will at least give us a laugh along the way.

© 2008 Mark Steyn
National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MjczMDE2Zjk3ODlhNDUwMGQyOGExNTU5YTE1OTBjMTE=
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« Reply #428 on: March 10, 2008, 11:19:03 AM »

It’s over By Dick Morris Posted: 03/06/08 06:02 PM [ET] The real message of Tuesday’s primaries is not that Hillary won. It’s that she didn’t win by enough.

The race is over.

The results are already clear. Obama will go to the Democratic Convention with a lead of between 100 and 200 elected delegates. The remaining question is: What will the superdelegates do then? But is that really a question? Will the leaders of the Democratic Party be complicit in its destruction? Will they really kindle a civil war by denying the nomination to the man who won the most elected delegates? No way. They well understand that to do so would be to throw away the party’s chances of victory and to stigmatize it among African-Americans and young people for the rest of their lives. The Democratic Party took 20 years to recover from the traumas of 1968 and it is not about to trigger a similar bloodletting this year.

John McCain’s nomination guarantees that the superdelegates wouldn’t dare. A perfectly acceptable alternative for most Democrats, McCain would harvest so large a proportion of Obama’s votes if Hillary steals the nomination that he would probably win. Even putting Obama on the ticket would not allay the anger of his supporters; it would just make him complicit in the robbery.

Will Hillary win Pennsylvania? Who cares? Even if she were to sweep the remaining primaries and caucuses by 10 points, she would move just 60 votes closer to Obama’s total of elected delegates. And she won’t sweep them all. Even if Hillary wins Pennsylvania, the largest prize up for grabs, Obama will probably win North Carolina, which is almost as large. He’s likely to win Mississippi and Wyoming and has a good shot in Oregon and Indiana. The most likely result of these coming contests is that Obama will be roughly where he is now, about 140 elected delegates ahead of Hillary.

Suppose that Hillary will carry those states by enough to offset Obama’s delegate lead. The proportional representation system makes a knockout impossible and so mutes relatively narrow victories as to make them almost inconsequential. Little Vermont, with 600,000 people, gave Obama a net gain of four delegates, half of what Hillary won from the Texas primary, a state with 20 million residents. Even after Hillary won big-state victories in Ohio and Texas, she drew only 20 closer to Obama’s total of elected delegates.

Hillary won’t withdraw. That much is for sure. The tantalizing notion that 800 insiders can offset a season of primaries and caucuses will drive both Clintons to ever-escalating rhetoric. Will their attacks hurt Obama? Likely all they will achieve is to give him needed experience in the cut and thrust of media politics.

Left out of the entire equation is poor John McCain. Unable to get a word in edgewise and unsure of which Democrat to attack, he will have to watch from the sidelines as Hillary and Obama hog the headlines. If the superdelegates deliver the nomination to Hillary in the dead of night without leaving fingerprints at the crime scene, McCain’s nomination will be worth having. If Obama prevails, it won’t be worth the paper on which it is written. The giant killer, Obama will have soared to new heights of popularity and McCain won’t be able to bring him back to Earth in the nine weeks that will remain.

Suggestion for Obama:

The next time Hillary uses the recycled red phone ad, counter with one of your own. When the phone rings in the middle of the night, have a woman’s voice, with a flat Midwestern accent, answer it and say, “Hold on” into the receiver. Then she should shout, “Bill! It’s for you!”

Because with Hillary’s complete lack of any meaningful experience in foreign affairs, and her lack of the “testing” that she boldly claims, she’ll be yelling for Bill.
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« Reply #429 on: March 10, 2008, 10:09:07 PM »

BO may win the Dem nomination with stuff like this, but I think/hope? he loses the general election with it.  If the American people decide that this in C in Chief material truly we are done for.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dl32Y7wDVDs
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« Reply #430 on: March 13, 2008, 08:12:36 PM »

A couple of nights ago Mitt Romney was interviewed at length by Sean Hannity.

I was VERY impressed by the man.  He spoke with a depth that spoke to me of spiritual grounding.   Amongst other things, he essentially offered himself to be McCain's Veep.  Given the heated battle between the two men, this can seem hard to imagine if you hadn't seen the interview, but the way Romney handled himself in the interview made it seem quite plausible indeed.
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« Reply #431 on: March 14, 2008, 03:46:43 AM »





March 14, 2008, 0:00 a.m.

It’s Identity, Stupid
Is this campaign about anything else?

By Charles Krauthammer

Elections can be about policy, personality, or identity. The race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is surely not about policy. The differences between the two are microscopic.

It did not start out that way. Last year, when Hillary was headed toward a coronation, she deliberately ran to the center. She took more moderate views on Iraq, for example, and voted to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.

When she began taking heat for these positions from the other candidates and the Democratic party’s activist core, and as her early lead began to erode, she quickly tacked left and found herself inhabiting precisely the same ideological space as Obama.

With no substantive differences left, the Obama-Clinton campaign was reduced to personality and identity. Not advantageous ground for Hillary. In a personality contest with the charismatic young phenom, she loses in a landslide.

What to do? First, adjust your own persona. Hence that New Hampshire tear and an occasional strategic show of vulnerability to soften her image. It worked for a while, but personality remakes are simply too difficult to pull off for someone as ingrained in the national consciousness as Clinton.

If you cannot successfully pretty yourself, dirty the other guy. Hence the relentless attacks designed to redefine Obama and take him down to the level of ordinary mortals, i.e. Hillary’s. Thus the contrived shock on the part of the Clinton campaign that an Obama economic adviser would tell the Canadians not to pay too much attention to Obama’s anti-NAFTA populism or that Samantha Power would tell the BBC not to pay too much attention to Obama’s current withdrawal plans for Iraq.

The attack line writes itself: Says one thing and means another. So much for the man of new politics. Just an ordinary politician — like Hillary.

That same maladroit foreign-policy adviser is caught calling Hillary a monster. A resignation demand nicely calls attention to the fact that the Obama campaign — surprise! — hurls invective. And a strategic mention of Tony Rezko, the Chicago fixer who was once Obama’s patron, nicely attaches to Obama a whiff of corruption by association.

These attacks have a cumulative effect. Obamamania is beginning to wear off. Charisma is intrinsically transient. But Hillary’s attacks have succeeded in hastening its dissipation.

So if there are no policy issues between them and the personality differences have been whittled down, what’s left? Identity. Race, age, and gender. Is this campaign about anything else?

Nationally, the older white woman — Clinton — carries the senior vote, the white vote and the women’s vote. The younger black man — Obama — carries the youth vote, the black vote and the male vote. This was perhaps inevitable in the first campaign in which a woman and an African-American have a serious chance at the presidency. But it received a significant gravity assist from Bill Clinton’s South Carolina forays into racial politics.

Did Bill Clinton deliberately encourage racial polarization by saying before South Carolina that one expects women to vote for Hillary and blacks for Obama? Or, after the primary, by dismissing Obama’s victory with: “Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice”?

With Bill Clinton you never know. And there is no proving cause and effect, but the chronology is striking. Two weeks before the South Carolina primary, Obama was leading Hillary among blacks by only 53 percent to 30 percent. Ten days later, Obama was ahead 59 to 25. On Election Day, he got 78 percent of the black vote. By the time the campaign trail reached Mississippi on Tuesday, Obama was getting 92 percent of the black vote. And only 26 percent of the white vote.

The pillars of American liberalism — the Democratic party, the universities, and the mass media — are obsessed with biological markers, most particularly race and gender. They have insisted, moreover, that pedagogy and culture and politics be just as seized with the primacy of these distinctions and with the resulting “privileging” that allegedly haunts every aspect of our social relations.

They have gotten their wish. This primary campaign represents the full flowering of identity politics. It’s not a pretty picture. Geraldine Ferraro says Obama is only where he is because he’s black. Professor Orlando Patterson says the 3 A.M. phone call ad is not about a foreign policy crisis but a subliminal Klan-like appeal to the fear of “black men lurking in the bushes around white society.”

Good grief. The optimist will say that when this is over, we will look back on the Clinton-Obama contest, and its looming ugly endgame, as the low point of identity politics, and the beginning of a turning away. The pessimist will just vote Republican.

© 2008, The Washington Post Writers Group

National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NjE4NzFjYTI1NDJhZWRhNjlmNDNjMThkZGVlYjVkMzI=
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« Reply #432 on: March 17, 2008, 09:15:33 AM »

Holy S%$@!^$#!^%,

I think the dems might just snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Puleeze, please, PLEASE!
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« Reply #433 on: March 18, 2008, 11:50:34 AM »

CAPITAL GAINS TAX

MCCAIN

15% (no change)

 OBAMA

28%

 CLINTON

24%

How does this affect you? If you sell your home and make a profit, you will pay 28% of your gain on taxes. If you are heading toward retirement and would like to down-size your home or move into  a retirement community, 28% of the money you make from your home will go to taxes. This proposal will adversely affect the elderly who are counting on the income from their homes as part of their retirement income.



DIVIDEND TAX

MCCAIN

15% (no change)

 OBAMA

39.6%

 CLINTON

39.6%

How will this affect you? If you have any money invested in stock market, IRA, mutual funds, college funds, life insurance, retirement accounts, or anything that pays or reinvests dividends, you will now be paying nearly 40% of the money earned on taxes if Obama or Clinton become president. The experts predict that 'Higher tax rates on dividends and capital gains would crash the stock market yet do absolutely nothing to cut the deficit.'



INCOME TAX

MCCAIN

(no changes)

Single making 30K - tax $4,500 
Single making 50K - tax $12,500
Single making 75K - tax $18,750
Married making 60K- tax $9,000
Married making 75K - tax $18,750
Married making 125K - tax $31,250

OBAMA

(reversion to pre-Bush tax cuts)

Single making 30K - tax $8,400   
Single making 50K - tax $14,000   
Single making 75K - tax $23,250   
Married making 60K - tax $16,800   
Married making 75K - tax $21,000   
Married making 125K - tax $38,750

CLINTON

(reversion to pre-Bush tax cuts)

Single making 30K - tax $8,400   
Single making 50K - tax $14,000   
Single making 75K - tax $23,250   
Married making 60K - tax $16,800   
Married making 75K - tax $21,000   
Married making 125K - tax $38,750 

How does this affect you? No explanation needed. This is pretty straight forward.



INHERITANCE TAX

MCCAIN

0%

(No change, Bush repealed this tax)

OBAMA

keep the inheritance tax

 CLINTON

keep the inheritance tax


How does this affect you? Many families have lost businesses, farms and ranches, and homes that have been in their families for generations because they could not afford the inheritance tax. Those willing their assets to loved ones will not only lose them to these taxes.


NEW TAXES BEING PROPOSED BY BOTH CLINTON AND OBAMA

* New government taxes proposed on homes that are more than 2400 square feet

* New gasoline taxes (as if gas weren't high enough already)

* New taxes on natural resources consumption (heating gas, water, electricity)

* New taxes on retirement accounts

and last but not least....


* New taxes to pay for socialized medicine so we can receive the same level of medical care as other third-world countries!!!


Can you afford Clinton or Obama?


(in case you want more information on Obama's tax and spend agenda:


If Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) Could Enact All Of His Campaign Proposals, Taxpayers Would Be Faced With Financing $874.35 Billion In New Spending Over One White House Term:
Updated February 14, 2008: Obama's National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank Will Cost $60 Billion Over Ten Years; Equal To $6 Billion A Year And $24 Billion Over Four Years. Obama: 'I'm proposing a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank that will invest $60 billion over ten years.' (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks On Economic Policy, Janesville, WI, 2/13/08)
Obama's Health Care Plan Will Cost Up To $65 Billion A Year; Equal To $260 Billion Over Four Years. '[Obama] campaign officials estimated that the net cost of the plan to the federal government would be $50 billion to $65 billion a year, when fully phased in, and said the revenues from rolling back the tax cuts were enough to cover it.' (Robin Toner and Patrick Healy, 'Obama Calls For Wider And Less Costly Health Care Coverage,' The New York Times, 5/30/07)
Obama's Energy Plan Will Cost $150 Billion Over 10 Years, Equal To $15 Billion Annually And $60 Billion Over Four Years. 'Obama will invest $150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial-scale renewable energy, invest in low-emissions coal plants, and begin the transition to a new digital electricity grid.' (Obama For America, 'The Blueprint For Change,' www.barackobama.com, Accessed 1/14/08, p. 25)
Obama's Tax Plan Will Cost Approximately $85 Billion A Year; Equal To $340 Billion Over Four Years. '[Obama's] proposed tax cuts and credits, aimed at workers earning $50,000 or less per year, would cost the Treasury an estimated $85 billion annually.' (Margaret Talev, 'Obama Proposes Tax Code Overhaul To Help The Poor,' McClatchy Newspapers, 9/19/07)

Obama's Plan Would Raise Taxes On Capital Gains And Dividends, And On Carried Interest. Obama's tax plan includes: 'ncreasing the highest bracket for capital gains and dividends and closing the carried interest loophole.' (Obama For America, 'Barack Obama: Tax Fairness For The Middle Class,' Fact Sheet, www.barackobama.com, Accessed 1/8/08)
Obama's Economic Stimulus Package Will Cost $75 Billion. 'Barack Obama's economic plan will inject $75 billion of stimulus into the economy by getting money in the form of tax cuts and direct spending directly to the people who need it most.' (Obama For America, 'Barack Obama's Plan To Stimulate The Economy,' Fact Sheet, www.barackobama.com, 1/13/08)
Obama's Early Education And K-12 Package Will Cost $18 Billion A Year; Equal To $72 Billion Over Four Years. 'Barack Obama's early education and K-12 plan package costs about $18 billion per year.' (Obama For America, 'Barack Obama's Plan For Lifetime Success Through Education,' Fact Sheet, www.barackobama.com, 11/20/07, p. 15)
Obama's National Service Plan Will Cost $3.5 Billion A Year; Equal To $14 Billion Over Four Years. 'Barack Obama's national service plan will cost about $3.5 billion per year when it is fully implemented.' (Obama For America, 'Helping All Americans Serve Their Country: Barack Obama's Plan For Universal Voluntary Citizen Service,' Fact Sheet, www.barackobama.com, 12/5/07)
Obama Will Increase Our Foreign Assistance Funding By $25 Billion. 'Obama will embrace the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme poverty around the world in half by 2015, and he will double our foreign assistance to $50 billion to achieve that goal.' (Obama For America, 'The Blueprint For Change,' www.barackobama.com, Accessed 1/14/08, p. 53)
Obama Will Provide $2 Billion To Aid Iraqi Refugees. 'He will provide at least $2 billion to expand services to Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries, and ensure that Iraqis inside their own country can find a safe-haven.' (Obama For America, 'The Blueprint For Change,' www.barackobama.com, Accessed 1/14/08, p. 51)
Obama Will Provide $1.5 Billion To Help States Adopt Paid-Leave Systems. 'As president, Obama will initiate a strategy to encourage all 50 states to adopt paid-leave systems. Obama will provide a $1.5 billion fund to assist states with start-up costs and to help states offset the costs for employees and employers.' (Obama For America, 'The Blueprint For Change,' www.barackobama.com, Accessed 1/14/08, p. 15)
Obama Will Provide $1 Billion Over 5 Years For Transitional Jobs And Career Pathway Programs, Equal To $200 Million A Year And $800 Million Over Four Years. 'Obama will invest $1 billion over five years in transitional jobs and career pathway programs that implement proven methods of helping low-income Americans succeed in the workforce.' (Obama For America, 'The Blueprint For Change,' www.barackobama.com, Accessed 1/14/08, p. 42)
Obama Will Provide $50 Million To Jump-Start The Creation Of An IAEA-Controlled Nuclear Fuel Bank. Obama: 'We must also stop the spread of nuclear weapons technology and ensure that countries cannot build -- or come to the brink of building -- a weapons program under the auspices of developing peaceful nuclear power. That is why my administration will immediately provide $50 million to jump-start the creation of an International Atomic Energy Agency-controlled nuclear fuel bank and work to update the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.' (Sen. Barack Obama, 'Renewing American Leadership,' Foreign Affairs, 7-8/07)
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DougMacG
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« Reply #434 on: March 18, 2008, 02:11:11 PM »

The tax comparison chart is extremely helpful.  Curious about the source.  Before I spread it further, want to ensure accuracy. 

Explanation for Capital Gains tax says: "If you sell your home and make a profit, you will pay 28% of your gain on taxes".  Correction(?): I assume home sale exemption up to certain amount continues 250k single, 500k married (?)

Add 55% to Clinton/Obama reinstated inheritance tax with $1mil exclusion (?)

I am surprised at the tax tables.  I thought liberals were only admitting to raising the upper brackets. These show significant increases down to a single making 30k. Is that accurate?

And a reminder always for reading tax burdens - Federal is not usually the only tax.  Add 9% for my state to capital gain and upper income tax and add 11% state estate tax to inheritance tax. Add FICA etc. and state income tax to all individual rates etc. Plus gas taxes, sales taxes, telecom tax, property taxes...
« Last Edit: March 18, 2008, 09:58:25 PM by DougMacG » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #435 on: March 19, 2008, 01:44:50 AM »

Quite right-- so I have asked the friend who sent it to me, who is usually a reliable source, for the URL and he is going back to the friend who sent it to him.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #436 on: March 19, 2008, 03:35:31 PM »

My friend responds:
======================
Marc:

He said it was from the John McCain website, www.johnmccain.com.  I don't have the time to find its exact location, sorry.
 
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« Reply #437 on: March 24, 2008, 01:59:45 PM »

Clinton Campaign Touts
Value of Big-State Victories
Primary Argument
Overlooks Outcomes
In General Elections
By AMY CHOZICK
March 24, 2008; Page A4

If a Democrat wins a primary in a Republican stronghold, is it really a win? That is the question Clinton supporters will be posing to superdelegates in the coming weeks.

With neither Democratic presidential candidate likely to reach the number of pledged delegates required to secure the nomination, the Clinton campaign is relying on its argument that victories in big states such as California and Ohio make Sen. Hillary Clinton a stronger candidate to defeat presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain.

 
Clinton aides are highlighting that Sen. Barack Obama has won among affluent voters in caucuses and primaries in states with small populations of Democrats -- such as Idaho and Wyoming -- and among African Americans in Republican states unlikely to turn blue in November -- such as South Carolina and Georgia.

A Clinton campaign memo released early this month noted Sen. Obama has won 10 out of the 11 core Republican states that have held primaries or caucuses this year. Wyoming, for one, the campaign later noted, hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964.

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe has rejected the Clinton campaign's attempts to give greater importance to certain states and notes that Sen. Obama won Missouri and Illinois, two large swing states.

The Clinton campaign has been using the big-state argument on and off since Super Tuesday, when Sen. Clinton won big prizes including New York, California and New Jersey. The argument has been central to the campaign since her Ohio and Texas victories, and Clinton aides will be aggressively pushing the point in the weeks before the Pennsylvania primary on April 22.

 
Pennsylvania represents another battleground state for the Democrats in November. A recent poll of likely voters conducted by SurveyUSA puts Sen. Clinton ahead in the Keystone State, with 55% favoring her compared with 36% favoring Sen. Obama. Other polls give her a narrower lead.

"I think it is significant that I have won Ohio and I won Florida and I've won the big states that serve as those anchors on the electoral map," Sen. Clinton told reporters on board the campaign plane in Scranton, Pa.

Monday in Philadelphia, Sen. Clinton is expected to deliver a speech addressing the housing crisis followed by an event to reach women voters.

The Clinton campaign also has been making an aggressive push for primaries in Michigan and Florida to be counted or redone. Both states were stripped of their delegates to the Democratic National Convention after staging contests earlier than party rules allowed. Last week, Michigan Democrats rejected the idea of a vote-by-mail presidential primary to replace the January vote and were unable to agree to a bill that would authorize a state-run, privately funded primary. Florida also has ruled out a revote.

Clinton adviser Harold Ickes says a revote would prove Sen. Clinton can win in the big, swing states that are important in a general election.

But even if Sen. Clinton won revotes in Michigan and Florida, she would probably still lag in the delegate count. Sen. Obama leads the delegate race with 1,620 to Sen. Clinton's 1,499, including superdelegates, according to the Associated Press; roughly 2,025 are needed to secure the nomination.

A Gallup tracking poll conducted last week shows Sen. Obama leading nationally with 48% of the vote compared with 45% for Sen. Clinton. Other polls show Sen. Clinton slightly ahead nationally.

Historians and political pundits caution that victories in a primary don't necessarily produce dividends in a general election.

"She can win every Democratic vote in the world [during the primary] and not win a general election," says Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. He points to the small segment of more liberal Democrats who participate in a primary compared to the huge cross section of voters likely to turn out in a general election.

 
Sen. Clinton won Ohio, for example, with 54% of the vote, compared with 44% for Sen. Obama. But a recent Rasmussen poll of likely voters projected her losing Ohio to Sen. McCain in a general election, 46% to 40%. The poll showed Sen. McCain defeating Sen. Obama in the state by the same margin; 14% of respondents said they were undecided.

Allan Lichtman, a political historian at American University, says a candidate's primary showing has very little to do with the general-election result. "The argument holds no water at all, not even a thimbleful," Mr. Lichtman says. He points to the 1980 primary, when incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter carried most of the big swing states, and early polls predicted he would defeat Republican Ronald Reagan in the general election by as much as 25 percentage points. Instead, Mr. Reagan decisively captured the White House. Former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry racked up primary victories in key swing states in 1988 and 2004, respectively, only to then lose those states to Republicans.

 
The Clinton campaign says that just because Sen. Clinton has won in the big states in the primary doesn't mean Sen. Obama will lose those states in a general election. "Nobody is saying Barack Obama will definitely lose Pennsylvania in the fall," says that state's governor, Ed Rendell, a Clinton backer. "If Sen. Obama is the nominee, we will work our hearts out for him...but we are much more confident we would win with Sen. Clinton."

The campaign also argues that big states typically have primaries rather than caucuses, and that primaries are more reflective of the results of a general election.

Part of the reason Sen. Clinton has done well in larger states is strategy. The campaign chose to pour limited resources into advertisements and field offices in delegate-rich Ohio and Texas, rather than make a big push in small caucus states where Sen. Obama was favored.

Sen. Clinton's wins also reflect her solid base of support among Catholics, working-class white voters and Hispanics, three important swing groups for the Democrats to capture in November.

Sen. Obama rejects the notion that he has failed to attract a broad coalition of voters important to the party. "In South Carolina, where the Confederate flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans," he said in a speech last week.

On Friday, Sen. Obama picked up the endorsement of former presidential candidate and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. Gov. Richardson, a Mexican-American, could help Sen. Obama broaden his appeal among Hispanics.

Write to Amy Chozick at amy.chozick@wsj.com

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G M
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« Reply #438 on: March 24, 2008, 02:18:14 PM »

Obama is mortally wounded but a Clinton nomination will have literal and figurative blood on the floor in Denver. Still, the Clinton campaign is trying to sway the supers to her side, post-Wrightgate.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #439 on: March 24, 2008, 02:57:14 PM »

According to this analysis from Weekly Standard, North Carolina is the key for Obama as independents and centrists hold the key for McCain:

Obama-McCain Race Takes Shape - Some thoughts on the Presidential race:

1) Obama is 90 percent likely to be the Democratic nominee, although the press seem to have continuing trouble with basic arithmetic and thereby doubt this. It's important to note that many of the superdelegates are DNC members which means many are not unfeeling calculators of general election odds who are likely to switch in a second but instead real live ideological activists. That helps Obama even more. HRC will be out in early May, after losing North Carolina.

2) General election polls now, like those before the actual primary contests began, are close to meaningless. Wait till after both nominees have given their convention speeches to take a real look.

3) Nonetheless, the Wright kerfuffle has hurt Obama in the long run. He is off his pedestal now. This tension between the inspiring idea of Obama's campaign and the reality of his pragmatic political climb through the hard corners of Chicago Democratic politics is a growing fault line inside the Obama candidacy.

4) Despite a generic political environment that is as awful as awful can be for Republicans, McCain still stands an excellent chance to win the general election but only if he commits to the one obvious and powerful strategy available to him.

5) McCain wins by being acceptable to the independents and white Democrats who will inevitably, over time, crumble off Obama's imperfect reality. He loses if he becomes caught in a partisan base versus base contest with the Democrats. The job for Team McCain is not to tear down Obama, it is to give those who will become increasingly disenchanted from him (Hillary voting blue-collars, Jews, moderates) a reason to see McCain as acceptable. This means McCain should return to his roots and run as the different kind of Republican he truly is. The GOP base will not enjoy this, but they--sorry AM radio crowd--will not control the outcome of this election. Ticket-splitters and swing voters will.

6) Does McCainland understand this? It's unclear. So far, the only strategic news out of the McCain campaign has been a half-baked scheme to fool around with regional offices and "decentralization." Such plumbing and wiring trivia misses the critical point: what McCain needs at once is a well-executed back to the center message strategy to enlarge his appeal beyond just national security issues and win this vital election.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2008, 02:59:27 PM by DougMacG » Logged
G M
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« Reply #440 on: March 24, 2008, 03:56:53 PM »


6) Does McCainland understand this? It's unclear. So far, the only strategic news out of the McCain campaign has been a half-baked scheme to fool around with regional offices and "decentralization." Such plumbing and wiring trivia misses the critical point: what McCain needs at once is a well-executed back to the center message strategy to enlarge his appeal beyond just national security issues and win this vital election.

Never interfere when your opponent, or opponents are busy committing suicide. McCain might well glide into the white house while the dems get caught in a civil war. IMHO, he's playing it exactly right, for right now.
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G M
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« Reply #441 on: March 24, 2008, 04:49:11 PM »

http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=44aed783-8357-4491-8589-ee15290e6e96   
 
Slouching Toward Denver
The Democratic death march.

Noam Scheiber,  The New Republic  Published: Wednesday, April 09, 2008


When Democrats contemplate the apocalypse these days, they have visions of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton slugging it out à la Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter at the 1980 convention. The campaign's current trajectory is, in fact, alarmingly similar to the one that produced that disastrous affair. Back then, Carter had built up a delegate lead with early wins in Iowa, New Hampshire, and several Southern states. But, as the primary season dragged on, Kennedy began pocketing big states and gaining momentum. Once all the voting ended and Kennedy came up short, he eyed the New York convention as a kind of Hail Mary.

Any candidate trailing at the convention must employ divisive tactics, almost by definition. For example, much of the bitterness in 1980 arose from the floor votes Kennedy engineered to drive a wedge between Carter and his delegates. At one point, Kennedy forced a vote on whether each state's delegation should be split equally between men and women. Carter counted many feminists among his delegates, but the campaign initially opposed the measure so as to deny Kennedy a victory. "You had women who were with Jimmy Carter who were crying on the floor," recalls Joe Trippi, then a young Kennedy organizer.

The Kennedy strategy worked both too well and not well enough. Kennedy won many of the floor votes thanks to Carter's unwillingness to squeeze conflicted delegates. He captivated the rank and file with his mythic "Dream shall never die" speech--a stark contrast to Carter's ham-handed rhetorical style. (In his own speech, Carter famously confused former vice president Hubert Humphrey with Horatio Hornblower, a fictional character from a British book series.) But, for all the maneuvering, the delegate tally barely budged. Kennedy won the convention's hearts and minds; Carter locked up the nomination.

One of the iconic images from that episode has the two men on a crowded stage in Madison Square Garden. Carter edges toward Kennedy expectantly, hoping for a symbolic show of unity. But Kennedy's back is turned, and he's moving in the opposite direction. Capping four days of intramural mud-wrestling, it perfectly captured the party's rift heading toward the general election. Carter himself later lamented news accounts portraying the scene as "an indication that the split in our ranks had not healed." "This accurate impression was quite damaging to our campaign," he wrote in his memoir, Keeping Faith.

As it happens, it's possible that Kennedy never intended the cold-shoulder treatment. The original idea was for Kennedy and Carter to appear alone together at the podium. But, thanks to some horrific Manhattan traffic, Kennedy didn't show up until legions of Carter supporters had flooded the stage. He may have been disoriented amid all the chaos. "To this day, I don't know that there was deliberate effort by Kennedy to snub Carter. It was just a big confusion," says Bill Carrick, one of Kennedy's floor managers. "The lesson is that, if you go into conventions, you're going to have messes. These are not manageable processes."

With little chance that either candidate this time around can clinch the nomination at the polls, it's not inconceivable that Democrats will re-enact this spectacle in Denver this August. (One direct link: Clinton operative Harold Ickes oversaw Kennedy's convention effort in 1980 and would likely oversee Hillary's.) The sequel could be even more damaging. It's true that the ideological gulf separating Kennedy and Carter doesn't divide Obama and Clinton. But, precisely because the substantive differences are so small, the temptation to court delegates along racial and gender lines would be even greater. And the sense of alienation among the losers would be overwhelming. Says former Al Gore campaign manager (and undecided superdelegate) Donna Brazile: "I don't have the 1980 experience, but that was two white men. This is a woman and a black. What's different about this fight is that, when they attack each other, supporters feel like they're attacking them personally." Remember the recent firestorm over Geraldine Ferraro's comment that, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position"? Well, imagine that flap playing out continuously over four days among hundreds of people with no other news to displace it, and you begin to see the problem.

The good news is that an ugly convention fight is highly preventable. The one advantage of a scenario that's both completely hair-raising and utterly foreseeable is that everyone has an incentive to stop it. The bad news is what's not preventable: a contest that rolls into June. Even without a messy convention, the current trajectory of the primary campaign could easily destroy the party's White House prospects.

 

Democrats have never been known for Spock-like rationality, but even they see the logic of avoiding a convention fiasco. "It's in nobody's interest in the Democratic Party for that to happen," says Mike Feldman, another former Gore aide. "There is a mechanism in place--built into the process--to avoid that." That mechanism, such as it is, involves an en masse movement of uncommitted superdelegates to the perceived winner of the primaries. Almost everything you hear from such people suggests this will happen in time. "I think once we have the elected delegate count, things will move fairly quickly, " says Representative Chris Van Hollen, who oversees the party's House campaign committee. Increasingly, there is even agreement on the metric by which a winner would be named. Just about every superdelegate and party operative I spoke with endorsed Nancy Pelosi's recent suggestion that pledged delegates should matter most.

Assuming Feldman and Van Hollen are right, that means Democrats won't wait much past June 3--currently the last day on the primary calendar--before crowning a nominee. At the same time, it means there's very little chance of ending the contest sooner. Undecided superdelegates on Capitol Hill, along with party elders like Pelosi, Gore, and Harry Reid, "don't want to be seen as elites coming in and overturning the will of the people," says one senior House aide. A Senate staffer says his boss "thinks this give and take is natural, it will be helpful in the end." "That's a view held by a majority of these guys who have been through the cut and thrust of politics," he adds. Which means early June it is.

The problem is that each day Clinton and Obama spend consumed with the other is a day that moves John McCain closer to the White House. McCain's biggest asset is his political brand, which evokes a straight-talking, party-bucking reformer. Among his biggest liabilities is the suspicion he inspires among conservatives thanks to these same attributes. McCain apparently plans to spend the next few months making nice with his base. But anything he accomplishes on this front clearly diminishes his swing-voter appeal and, therefore, his chances in November.

Ideally, the Democrats would be exploiting this tension like mad. They would highlight the anti-Catholic, anti-gay ravings of John Hagee, the evangelical minister whose endorsement McCain recently accepted. They would ridicule his chumminess with supply-side Neanderthals like Jack Kemp and his flip-flop on the Bush tax cuts. They'd dwell on McCain's less-noticed association with crony-capitalists during his tenure as Commerce Committee chairman.

Instead, something close to the opposite is happening. McCain's courtship of the lunatic right and his ties to K Street have largely been hidden from view, while the Democrats' dirty laundry has been aired for swing voters. The upshot for Democrats has not been good. In late February, a Gallup poll showed Obama leading McCain among independents by 15 points. By March 6, a Newsweek poll put McCain up ten points among this group--and that was before Jeremiah Wright weighed in. Hillary went from down five to down 15 among independents during the same time.

A quick look at some recent campaign coverage sheds light on why this is happening. On March 12, Ferraro and the racially polarized Mississippi primary were A-1 news in The Washington Post. It wasn't until page A-6 that you stumbled across a story about McCain's ties to the parent company of Airbus, the Boeing rival to whom the Pentagon recently handed a lucrative contract. The second story could have muddied McCain's reformist credentials, but it barely caused a ripple on cable or the blogosphere.

McCain has no doubt stumbled while trying to consolidate GOP support. He prompted some grumbling with his recent appointment of former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, a moderate Republican with little history of party activism, to head Victory '08, a key campaign committee. But there's evidence that, on balance, he's well ahead of schedule. Since Super Tuesday, three-quarters of Republicans have routinely proclaimed themselves satisfied with McCain as their nominee.

 

If McCain winds up facing Obama, he'll enjoy yet another advantage: a nominee weakened by attacks from a fellow Democrat. "Clinton hit a raw nerve several weeks ago when she said she had thirty-something years of experience, McCain had twenty- to thirty-something years, and Barack Obama had a speech," says Representative Artur Davis, an Obama supporter. The suggestion that Obama isn't ready to be commander-in-chief is "unusually corrosive," Davis complains. Indeed, when I asked various Republican and neutral Democratic operatives to name the most damaging twist in the primaries, most cited this same critique. "It's very good messaging--that he's not fit to be commander-in-chief," crowed one Republican strategist. "When you get the Democrats saying it, that's kind of the nuke in the whole thing." One of his Democratic counterparts was even more blunt: "It's one thing for John McCain to say [Obama's] not as muscular. It's another thing to have a girl saying it. It has some influence on swing voters."

Of course, if Obama's the nominee, he's unlikely to win a national security debate against McCain, with or without Hillary's broadsides. Obama's best bet is to focus the discussion specifically on Iraq. On the other hand, debating national security credentials during the primaries invariably alters the general-election landscape. You can now count on seeing another "3 a.m." ad sometime this fall--not to mention a "3 a.m." debate question from Tim Russert, and a shadowy, "3 a.m."-obsessed 527 group. ("Insomniac Prank-Callers For Truth"?) "I do believe the winner of the 3 a.m. ad is John McCain," says Kevin Madden, a former aide to Mitt Romney. "It's like an NCAA bracket. She may get the play-in game [against Obama], but she'd lose that in the championship game."

And there will surely be more body blows to come. Ad hominem attacks are an almost necessary feature of an unusually long campaign in which policy differences are minimal. At a certain point, there's just no other way to get traction against your opponent. That's one reason Pelosi has informally spoken with colleagues about stepping in if the tone abruptly deteriorates. But there's a catch-22 involved here: Party elders won't forcefully intervene unless an attack does serious damage. But, by then, the damage will have already been done.

Worse, any missile that hits its target would also destroy the person who launched it. Given the delegate math, Hillary's only path to the nomination, barring a meltdown by Obama, is to destroy his electability. But harsh attacks on Obama will inevitably discourage African Americans from voting in the fall, and Hillary can't beat McCain without strong black turnout in places like Cleveland, Detroit, and Philadelphia. Conversely, any attack on Hillary that alienated moderate Republican women could cripple Obama's chances.

 

Opinion journalists have a time-honored technique for dealing with news they don't like: Keep making phone calls. In my case, this yielded a depressingly meager haul. The most optimistic scenario I could plausibly construct didn't end the campaign until the second week in May. To make it happen, Obama would have to overtake Hillary among superdelegates--a key psychological barrier. He'd have to limit his margin of defeat in Pennsylvania to ten points, then hold serve two weeks later in North Carolina and Indiana, a pair of states he's slightly favored to win. At that point, Hillary would face nearly impossible odds of overtaking him in the delegate race.

Unfortunately for anyone who wants the race to end soon, there are several problems with this scenario. For one thing, even if all this comes to pass, Hillary would still have to bow out voluntarily--an unlikely twist in any event, but highly implausible if the limbo states of Florida and Michigan still offer her hope. Meanwhile, any one of the aforementioned steps could easily fall through. Polls currently show Obama trailing by double digits in Pennsylvania; the good Reverend Wright could make that tough to change. And, though Obama now leads in North Carolina and Indiana, his advantage is either small or, in the latter case, based on a single, flimsy poll. As for superdelegates, as of this writing, the last two out of the closet opted for Hillary.

So, to review: The most optimistic scenario we have relies on a highly tenuous assumption; it's unlikely to happen even if that assumption holds; and, regardless, it allows the Democratic contest to drag on for six more brutal weeks. The dream may never die, but it's seen some better days.

Noam Scheiber is a senior editor at The New Republic.
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G M
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« Reply #442 on: March 24, 2008, 05:04:22 PM »

 grin  grin  grin

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/03/obama-iowa-co-c.html

Key Obama Iowa Adviser Invokes 'Monica's Blue Dress' When Assailing Bill Clinton's 'Patriotism' Comments

March 24, 2008 11:07 AM

Gordon Fischer, the former director of the Iowa Democratic Party and a senior adviser for Sen. Barack Obama's efforts in the Hawkeye State, is still very much involved in making sure Obama gets delegates as the caucus process continues.

He's also quite fired up about former President Bill Clinton's comments in front of a North Carolina VFW Hall, which the Obama campaign took to be an impugning of Obama's patriotism.

In his blog, Fischer writes:

"B. Clinton questions Obama's patriotism.  In repsonse (sic), an Obama aide compared B. Clinton to Joe McCarthy. This is patently unfair.  To McCarthy.

"When Joe McCarthy questioned others' patriotism, McCarthy (1) actually believed, at least aparently (sic), the questions were genuine, and (2) he did so in order to build up, not tear down, his own party, the GOP.  Bill Clinton cannot possibly seriously believe Obama is not a patriot, and cannot possibly be said to be helping -- instead he is hurting -- his own party.  B. Clinton should never be forgiven.  Period.  This is a stain on his legacy, much worse, much deeper, than the one on Monica's blue dress."

That's not quite the kind of comment that keeps with Obama's pledge to focus on policy differences instead of personal attacks, I think it's safe to say.

- jpt

UPDATE: Fischer writes to say, "On my individual blog, I made a stupid comment.  I sincerely apologize for a tasteless and gratituous comment I made here about President Clinton. It was unnecessary and wrong.

"I have since deleted the comment, and again apologize for making it. It will not happen again.

"I hope my readers will accept my apology and we can move on to the very important issues facing our state and country. Thank you."

UPDATE 2:  Obama spox Tommy Vietor writes, "As Senator Obama has said repeatedly, comments like this have no place in our political dialogue and he strongly rejects them.”

Vietor also says that Fischer was not a co-chair, though he's been identified as such, as well as an
adviser, someone who organized Iowa for Obama, etc. etc. So I changed his label to "key adviser." The point is he's directly affiliated with the Obama campaign and he was invoking the blue dress.
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« Reply #443 on: March 25, 2008, 02:19:15 PM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2008/03/25/hillary-on-wright-i-would-have-quit-the-church/

HRC does some sniping herself.  evil
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« Reply #444 on: March 26, 2008, 03:53:51 PM »

Life in the Vast Lane
By JAMES TARANTO
March 26, 2008

A year ago, we noted that Hillary Clinton, then the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee, was reprising the theme of the "vast right-wing conspiracy," the specter of which she first raised in a "Today" show interview in January 1998, just after the Monica Lewinsky scandal became public. To quote from that interview:

This is--the great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it--is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president. A few journalists have kind of caught on to it and explained it. But it has not yet been fully revealed to the American public. And actually, you know, in a bizarre sort of way, this may do it.
Politics make strange bedfellows, and no, we're not referring to that woman, Miss Lewinsky. National Review's Byron York notes that Mrs. Clinton was photographed yesterday with one of the key VRW conspirators:

Here is a photo from Hillary Clinton's visit . . . to the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. In this picture, she is seen talking to none other than Richard Mellon Scaife, the owner of the paper and the man who once said that the death of Vincent Foster was the "Rosetta stone" of the Bill Clinton administration. (He also funded the so-called "Arkansas Project" at The American Spectator.)
Wait, it gets better. Get a load of this item, also from late yesterday, from Marc Ambinder, a blogger from The Atlantic:

The Clinton campaign is distributing an article in the American Spectator (!) about Obama foreign policy adviser Merrill McPeak and his penchant for.. well, the article accuses him of being an anti-Semite and a drunk.
Here we should disclose that we write regularly for the Spectator, that the Spectator is a member of the OpinionJournal Federation, and that we considered reprinting the article in question as a Federation Feature but decided it was too over the top.

The Atlantic's liberal bloggers are puffed up with outrage that Mrs. Clinton would "dignify" the Spectator, as James Fallows puts it:

If, as I assume is true based on Marc Ambinder's report, the Hillary Clinton campaign is circulating a hit job from the American Spectator, this is simply disgusting. . . .
That the Clinton family would dignify the American Spectator, of all publications, is astonishing to anyone who was alive in the 1990s. . . .
I can easily believe that the Spectator would publish such an article. That the Clinton team would circulate it I'm still trying to deal with.
Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan, a self-described "Clinton hater" who seems to be in love with Barack Obama, piles on, quoting Atlantic blogger James Fallows as calling the Clinton campaign's distribution of the Spectator piece "simply disgusting." This is known as "blogrolling."

But it's more convoluted still. It turns out The Atlantic, whose bloggers are now ganging up on the Spectator, has a longtime rivalry with the latter magazine. In 2001 The Atlantic published an article titled "The Life and Death of The American Spectator." The online blurb reads, "The conservative magazine survived and prospered for twenty-five years before Bill Clinton came into its sights. Now the former President is rich and smiling, and the Spectator is dead."

Reports of the Spectator's death turned out to be exaggerated, but it is fair to say the magazine had fallen on hard times in 2001, in part as a result of a fruitless Clinton administration grand jury probe. The Atlantic article also attributed the Spectator's difficulties to the Arkansas Project:

Why couldn't [editor Bob] Tyrrell see that the project--which involved nonjournalists and a private detective funded by a third party--was an extraordinarily dangerous proposition for any journalistic enterprise? Perhaps because Tyrrell never saw the Spectator solely as a journalistic enterprise. Since the early days in Bloomington, Tyrrell had envisioned The Alternative as an adjunct to a political movement. They had their party, we had ours. They had their magazine, we had ours. Years later his letters to Ronald Reagan ("we shall continue the good fight with you") suggested that his views had not changed. Still more years later, as he began the Arkansas Project, he felt the same way.
Well, the Spectator is an opinion magazine. As is National Review, which now employs the author of the Atlantic article on the Spectator--Byron York, a former Spectator staffer.

So to sum up: On one side we have Barack Obama, The Atlantic, its bloggers and Byron York; on the other, Hillary Clinton, Dick Scaife and The American Spectator.

Key unanswered question: On which side does MediaMatters.org come down? That is the left-wing group headed by David Brock, who spent the early '90s investigating the Clintons for the Spectator, then contracted to write a biography of Mrs. Clinton, produced a surprisingly sympathetic account that sold poorly, jumped ship, and became a liberal Democrat.

After all this, we defy anyone to say with a straight face that Saddam Hussein would not have supported al Qaeda because he was secular.

Obama and the 'Ethnic Bomb'
Blogger Steve Gilbert uncovers another gem from the annals of the Trinity United Church of Christ. In its June 10, 2007, newsletter, the church, whose most famous member is Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama, published an "Open Letter to Oprah" (see pp. 8-11 of PDF) by one Ali Baghdadi, whose description alone ought to raise eyebrows:

Ali Baghdadi, an Arab-American activist, writer, columnist; worked with several African-American groups on civil and human rights issues since the mid sixties; acted as a Middle East advisor to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad the founder of the Nation of Islam, as well as Minister Louis Farrakhan; visited more than 80 countries throughout the world and met with many of their leaders, including Mandela, Castro, Saddam Hussein, Hafez Assad, Qathafi, Abdallah ibn Abdel-Aziz, Rafsanjani, Ayatollah Khamenei, among many others.
Baghdadi's "open letter" is an anti-Israel screed, in which he states, among other things, that "what the Zionist Jews did to the Palestinians is worse than what the Nazis did to the Jews, because . . . Jews should have learned from their tragic experience" (a sentiment he attributes to Arnold Toynbee) and that Israel and apartheid South Africa "both worked on an ethnic bomb that kills Blacks and Arabs."

On the page immediately after Baghdadi's rant appears an article by Robert M. Franklin, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Social Ethics at Emory University, titled "Obama's Faith: A Civil and Social Gospel." Franklin anticipates and tries to defuse Obama's current difficulties:

Some media hounds have focused on Obama's home church of choice. Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's south side is one of the nation's most progressive African American mega-churches. Led for thirty-five years by the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., the church fuses into its core Christian identity a set of cultural strains that are vibrant in contemporary Black life, including liberation theology, Afrocentrism, and progressive politics.
The church has appealed especially to baby boomers who came of age during the cultural revolution of the 1960s. Dr. Wright has managed to bring together the disciples of Martin Luther King, Jr. with the Black Nationalist disciples of Malcolm X, and to put them all in the service of promoting more equitable policies for the least advantaged members of our society. Indeed, he is often credited with making it possible for many disaffected Black separatists to return to the church and to seek change within the system.
Unfortunately, uninformed pundits (a deliberate oxymoron) from Fox TV recently weighed in on a congregation and a community about which they know very little. Their purpose is to embarrass Obama by insinuating that he is a closeted Black separatist or worse. But they fail to appreciate something distinctive about American religion and public life. The best of American political tradition permits--and perhaps requires--candidates both to acknowledge their ethnic and regional particularity, and to transcend that particularity in loyalty to the general human condition.
As an aside, it appears that the Presidential Distinguished Professor of Social Ethics at Emory University doesn't know what an oxymoron is.

More to the point, what exactly do the anti-Semitic ravings of Ali Baghdadi, who describes himself as a Palestinian Arab and a Muslim, have to do with Obama's "ethnic and religious particularity"? We're pretty sure Obama is neither Arab nor Muslim. Is there anything that is not excusable as a "black thing"?

Note, too, that Baghdadi in his bio boasts of having "met" with many "leaders" who were avowed enemies of the U.S. (along with Mandela and the Saudi King Abdullah), something that Obama has also promised to do if elected president.

Obama apologists will say that none of this matters, that there is no proof that Obama agrees with or countenances the views of Ali Baghdadi, that to even raise the matter is to engage in "guilt by association."

But a political campaign is not a criminal trial. Voters are free to judge Obama, and other candidates, by whatever criteria they see fit, including their dubious associations. One needn't reach a verdict of guilty to conclude that Obama seems less fit than his opponents to occupy the most powerful position in the world.

Accountability Journalism
As long as Hillary Clinton is a member of the vast right-wing conspiracy, let's defend her against Associated Press editorializing. Here's the lead sentence from a Washington dispatch:

Hillary Rodham Clinton, apparently trying to deflect the embarrassing fuss over her exaggerated account of a trip to Bosnia 12 years ago, told reporters at a Democratic presidential campaign stop that she would have left the church that rival Barack Obama attends over critical remarks his pastor made about America.
Now, maybe Mrs. Clinton is "trying to deflect the embarrassing fuss." But to whom exactly is this apparent? Isn't this a pretty blatant example of a reporter inserting his opinions into a news story?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #445 on: March 27, 2008, 04:49:03 PM »

Hillary's Last Hope
By LAWRENCE B. LINDSEY
March 27, 2008; Page A15
WSJ

I'm a numbers guy, especially if they have to do with politics or economics. So even though I am a Republican, analyzing the Democratic primary results has become a great pastime. This is especially true when it comes to the Democrats' dilemma about how to handle Florida and Michigan -- two states that broke party rules by holding their primaries before the allowed date, but which probably hold the key to the Democratic presidential nomination. To this numbers guy, the solution is pretty obvious from the data.

But the Democrats appear to be a party of lawyers. Only lawyers could have invented delegate selection rules as complicated and opaque as the ones the Democrats are struggling under. It also looks like only lawyers have a chance at the Democratic nomination. Harvard Law (Obama) and Yale Law (Clinton) candidates have survived, while University of North Carolina Law (Edwards), Syracuse Law (Biden), and the University of Louisville Law (Dodd) have been eliminated. And lawyers at the DNC Rules Committee will decide what happens next.

 
Still, sometimes lawyers call in numbers guys as expert witnesses.

The first question is whether Florida and Michigan voters acted like these primaries mattered, even though they knew the delegates they chose were not recognized by the national party. This can be discerned from turnout, and in the case of Florida the answer is yes.

Florida had a closed primary in which only registered Democrats could vote; turnout amounted to 46.7% of John Kerry's 2004 popular vote. The primary turnout relative to Kerry's 2004 vote in other closed primaries ranged from 39.8% in New York and 40.8% in Connecticut to 48% in Delaware, 49% in Arizona to 58.5% in Maryland. In other words, Florida Democrats acted as if their primary mattered just as much as other Democrats. By contrast, turnout in Michigan was only 23.7% of Kerry's 2004 vote, and it is an open primary. Michigan Democrats did not act like their primary mattered.

The second question is whether the two states' primary votes were skewed because of their timing, or whether they looked like what would have occurred had they happened on some "legal" day like Super Tuesday. A survey of exit polls from the primaries held so far shows patterns of voting by factors like age, gender, racial and ethnic identification, income, education and religion. This allows us to test whether the Florida and Michigan results looked the way they "should," based on how the voting occurred in other states.

Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama by 17 points in Florida. If one takes the voting by age in large Super Tuesday states like California and New Jersey and applies it to the demographics of Florida, a predicted margin of 16 points emerges.

The similarities don't end there. For example, Jewish voters made up 9% of the Democratic electorate in Florida and New Jersey. Mrs. Clinton won this group by 32 points in Florida and 26 points in New Jersey. This is not surprising, since many Jewish residents of Florida emigrated from up north, and thus voted the same way their cousins, nieces, nephews and children did.

The statistical evidence strongly suggests that the outcome in Florida reflected what would have occurred had the state voted on Super Tuesday rather than one week earlier.

The voting in Michigan reflects many similarities to other states, but is far less conclusive. Sen. Obama's name was of course not on the Michigan ballot. Yet voters had the option of voting "uncommitted" -- and the demographic evidence suggests they understood that voting "uncommitted" was a vote for Mr. Obama, or at least against Mrs. Clinton. California and New Jersey votes by age, where Mr. Obama was on the ballot, were almost exactly the same as in Michigan, where "uncommitted" was the alternative to Mrs. Clinton. A difference does emerge in the over-60 group, which gave Mrs. Clinton a 37-point margin in Michigan compared with 21 in California, 25 in Missouri and 28 in New Jersey. The average of those would have reduced her 15-point overall margin in Michigan to 12 points.

That difference in margin is virtually identical to the key difference between Michigan and other states: less of a racial gap. Among the 23% of Michigan Democrats who identified themselves as black, "uncommitted" beat Clinton by 38 points. Remember that Michigan voted four days before South Carolina, when the racial issue moved to the forefront. In South Carolina and the Super Tuesday states, Mr. Obama beat Mrs. Clinton by margins between 50 and 60 points. Had this happened in Michigan, Clinton's victory margin would have been 11 points instead of 15. Although unprovable without access to the actual polling questionnaires, the likelihood is that older black voters trended decisively to Mr. Obama after Michigan and South Carolina. That same conclusion also appears to be consistent with national polling.

In sum, the Michigan vote was flawed in ways the Florida vote was not. The most statistically valid conclusion would be that changes in voter attitudes in the second half of January would have produced a much narrower win for Mrs. Clinton of 10-12 points (not 15) had the state voted on Super Tuesday instead of Jan. 15. Still, Mrs. Clinton would almost certainly have won.

The behavior of Mrs. Clinton, who went to Michigan to lobby for a revote, and that of the Obama campaign, which worked to thwart a Michigan revote, indicate that both camps know this would be the outcome. Demographically Michigan looks almost identical to Ohio, which gave Clinton a 10-point victory.

Discussion among Democrats on how to deal with Florida and Michigan centers on three options. The first is not to seat them at all. Legally appropriate, but it would doubtless hurt the Democrats in both states in November -- which may be why Republicans in the state legislatures found themselves as allies of Mr. Obama in working against a revote.

The second option would be to seat delegations that were evenly split between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama. This would make the votes of 2.3 million Democrats irrelevant, while creating artificial representation for the states. It is very much like the 72 bonus delegates selected by party leaders to "represent" women, ethnic minorities, the gay and lesbian communities and the handicapped.

The third option would be to let the early primary votes stand, and select delegates according to the outcome. On a statistical basis, this is clearly the right result for Florida. The easiest solution for Michigan is to simply award the 45% of the vote uncommitted or for another candidate to Mr. Obama. This appears to be the intent of those voters, as well as the likely result of a rematch. It would reduce Mr. Obama's current edge in pledged delegates to 115 from 167. It would also reduce the adjusted popular-vote margin, that converts caucus votes to primary votes, to an edge for Mr. Obama of 466,000. If Mrs. Clinton wins Pennsylvania by the margin polls now suggest, the two candidates would be essentially tied in popular votes, with an Obama edge in delegates of about 80. That would leave the remaining primaries and the superdelegates to decide the outcome of an essentially tied race.

Democrats are clearly going to have to rewrite their delegate selection rules after this contest, like they did after similar fiascos in 1968 and 1988. Until then, it's up to the lawyers, and may the cleverest lawyer win. My money is on Mr. Obama blocking the statistically based solution described above. After all, as a product of Harvard myself, I know perfectly well that Harvard produces cleverer lawyers than Yale, regardless of what the numbers might say.

Mr. Lindsey is president and CEO of the Lindsey Group, and author of "What a President Should Know . . . But Most Learn too Late" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008).
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« Reply #446 on: April 06, 2008, 01:11:42 AM »

May I suggest the author of these suggestions to be McCain s choice for VP.  - Doug

Ten Things a Candidate Might Want to Say, by Victor Davis Hanson
http://pajamasmedia.com/xpress/victordavishanson/2008/03/26/ten_things_a_candidate_might_p.php
Date: 2008-04-06, 12:52AM CDT


1. Surplus! Talk of the notion of surplus, rather than mere budget-balancing. Deficits, and national and foreign debt, are matters of more than statistics. They are barometers of a nation’s self-confidence, its mood and self-image. Percentages of GDP may be the real indicator of debt, but in practical terms Americans think in terms of dollars owed. So we need a candidate not only to outline a balanced budget, but one of surplus that will pay down the debt as well, and by spending cuts rather than tax increases. Do that and much of the American malaise will disappear. Economists might shudder, but imagine no annual deficit, a national surplus of $1 trillion or so, the Social Security Trust Fund in Al Gore’s lockbox, $10 trillion in foreign bonds held by US interests, a dollar at a Euro (yes, we know the trade difficulties that would accrue), and gold at about $300 an ounce.

2. Close the borders. No need now to fight about amnesty, guest workers, deportation, assimilation, etc. All these key issues loom in the future. For now simply reduce the number of illegal arrivals to zero—through border fencing, more patrolling and manpower, employer sanctions, and stern negotiations with Mexico. Then as we squabble and fight, the number of foreign nationals or those not assimilated will begin to shrink in a variety of ways—once it is not growing. We need to take step one, rather than bicker over steps five and six. Who knows—we might just see many state treasuries miraculously recover, and thereby be spared the mantra that illegal aliens ‘really’ are a budget plus for states?

3. Iraq. Explain Iraq in blunt terms—that the first war against Saddam was won, but the second, more important one against radical Islam is still being won in the heart of the caliphate. Here Americans wish to know how many of the enemy we’ve killed, the degree to which other nations have stopped nuclear proliferation (cf. Libya or Dr. Khan), and the degree to which bin Laden and the tactic of suicide bombing have lost popularity. We need to explain to the American people how the tactical success of the surge translates to strategic victory, in the way stabilizing Korea, for example, allowed the powers of capitalism and constitutional government to be unleashed in the south and eventually to make a mockery of the fossilized north. If we can stabilize Iraq, its government and economy might do the same vis a vis Iran or Syria. In any case, we need some strategic vision of what Iraq is supposed to look like in five years and our role in it. A viable prosperous free Iraq is the worst nightmare of al Qaeda—but why and how needs to articulated daily.

4. Race. No more “conversations on race” but simply an end to identity politics. Americans are worn out with racial tribalism. The post-racial candidate Obama recently posed with Bill Richardson to gain a “Latino” endorsement, on the hope apparently that just as African-Americans are supposedly voting 90% for Obama, Hispanics might do likewise on Richardson’s prompt. But the scene was Orwellian. Both Obama and Richardson are elites of mixed ancestry and they just as well might have argued that they were “white” candidates. When either one claims fides to one side of their heritage, they implicitly reject the other. I can’t believe that a naturalized citizen from Oaxaca would vote for the grandee Obama because the grandee Richardson claimed that as an authentic Latino of similar background and perspective he should. And if he were to do that, then we are simply a tribal nation after all.

5. Taxes. Some simplification of the tax code. Americans can’t figure out their taxes. When in their 50s some of them finally make good money, more than 50% go to taxes while they are demonized as “the wealthy”—even as the mega-wealthy either pay on “income” as capital gains at 20%, or are so embedded in corporations that their expenses are taken care of as business deductions. In America, the couple that makes between $150,000-500,000 carries the country and gets less relief than the really well-to-do, but just as much grief and envy from the less well off. Some sort of flat-tax, simple-form is critical to our survival as a nation (I confess I just filled out my taxes and found it much harder than reading the choruses of Aeschylus).

6. Fuel. We don’t need to be “energy independent”—as opposed to cutting our appetite for imported oil by 5-6 million barrels per day. We have the world’s largest coal reserves. There are still a million or two barrels a day to be captured off our coasts and in Alaska. If every other family were to have a second electric commute car plugged into a nuclear-powered electric grid, we could easily accomplish all that rather quickly—until we arrive in 20 years at the so-called big rock candy mountain of hydrogen, flex-fuels, sustainable ethanols, etc. At $108 a barrel Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chavez and the Middle East kleptocracies have the cash to cause us great trouble abroad, at $40 they are merely thugs. Would it help if someone said, “Ok, either drill in Anwar, or cut sales of SUVs by 10% per year,” or “Drill off the coast and build nuclear power plants, or have gas at over $5 a gallon—your choice”?

7. Colleges. We need more transparency in our universities. Why do tax-exempt private institutions use their funds largely to enrich an elite rather than to subsidize student tuitions? Universities avoid taxes, but as non-profits don’t use that saving to help those for whom they exist, but rather spend their fortunes more often subsidizing faculty and administrators. They are no different than those scandalous charities who exist for their apparat. How universities have been able to up their tuitions consistently above the rate of inflation, while exploiting part-time, poorly paid contractual faculty, and masquerading all the while as liberal institutions are among the great mysteries of the modern age. Yet any inquiry into the labyrinth of identity politics, racial quotas, the absence of intellectual diversity or the problems with tenure are met by charges of “McCarthyism” or worse. American universities are rated the world’s best only because of our sciences and engineering—and thus despite, not because of, our failed liberal arts curriculum

8. Health Care. Simply mandate, as in the case of car insurance, that everyone buy catastrophic health care plans, and use health saving accounts for everything else. When we go to K-Mart and see a sign that says “Strep Diagnosis and antibiotics—$50” or ”Check our rates for heart exam and medication” and expect to pay cash up-front out of our saving accounts, while reserving insurance for emergencies and major illnesses, the price of health care will plunge and the patient will become an adult again—rather than rushing to the emergency room at 3AM with the “flu” and no insurance, and less ability or willingness to pay. As someone who has been in emergency rooms four times the last five years for either kidney stones or broken bones, two facts I discovered: more than half don’t have health insurance, and 100% had cell phones, the costs of which per month would nearly pay for catastrophic medical plans. Americans for some reason are outraged that they might pay $3000 in health or drug uninsured costs per year, but hardly object to an extra $2000 in moon roof, rims, or GPS on their new cars. We are Hillary’s proverbial “nation uninsured” with plasma TVs and 4x4 trucks.

9. Infrastructure. The objections to government spending revolve around redistribution, not construction. We need a slash in entitlements and more investment in bigger, better, and more roads, rails, and airports. A highway 101 (note I don’t call it a freeway yet after a half-century, given its suicidal cross-traffic breaks) is a cruel joke. In California, there are still only two major winter routes in and out of the state on an east-west axis. Driving a highway 152 or 41 east-west is circa 1955. Most of our Sierra roadways are wonderful up to the crest, where they suddenly stop in their tracks or devolve into pot-holed paved cattle trails—on the apparent assumption there is not ecological damage driving up the western slope, but would be plenty descending the eastern (or that our forefathers were scoundrels that gave us these beautiful roads to the summit, but we are saints for using them and offering nothing of improvement to our children to get over the other side).

10. National Security. Talk honestly about terror and national security. Why can’t a candidate say—“We will monitor what we think are terrorist calls routed through the US. So do you think this is right, or an abject violation of your privacy?” And instead of “Close Down Gitmo!”, one might say, “We prefer to have about 400 Padilla-like trials instead”. Or we could say, “No water boarding and we will take our chances that what damage a terrorist might do is overshadowed by the damage we will do to our reputation.” I don’t think Americans quite know what they want, but they are very tired of being told the question is black/white, win/lose rather than a mess where each answer poses another question. Treat us like adults, and let the public back a candidate who apprises them of the costs and benefits and risks, instead of either mouthing “police state!” or “a nuke will go off!”
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #447 on: April 15, 2008, 12:16:11 PM »

Feckless FEC

The Federal Election Commission, down to only two out of its six required members since January, suffered another blow yesterday. A Democratic nominee for a vacancy announced he was withdrawing. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says it will "most likely" take several months to find a replacement for Robert Lenhard, who said in a statement he couldn't wait any longer in limbo.

Leaving the FEC with only a skeleton crew means the agency can't open new cases, hold public meetings or even issue advisory opinions. Michael Toner, a former FEC chairman, says the inability of the White House and the Senate to agree on nominees "hurts the ability of parties and candidates to comply with the law." The commission does not have the legal authority without a quorum to release the public financing funds that may be vital to John McCain's fall campaign -- a situation that perhaps suits Barack Obama, who has declared that his large haul of private Internet donations represents a new kind of "public financing" and who seems intent on reneging on his previous pledges to abide by the public financing system.

Democrats created the FEC impasse last year when they balked at confirming Hans von Spakovsky, who had served on the FEC for two years. Ironically, it was Sen. Obama himself who put the nomination on hold because Mr. von Spakovsky, as a Justice Department official, had supported laws requiring voters to show photo ID. Those laws have since been upheld as Constitutional by several federal courts and the Supreme Court is likely to follow suit in a decision it will hand down this June.

So much for Mr. Obama's call to transcend partisanship. So much for Democratic insistence on the importance of maintaining a strong federal watchdog to enforce all the campaign-finance regulations Democrats created. And so much for the wisdom of John McCain in promoting his infamous McCain-Feingold regulations -- which now appears to have entangled him in a federal snafu that is likely to damage his candidacy.

-- John Fund

White House, Green House
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #448 on: April 16, 2008, 10:16:26 AM »

McCain-omics
April 16, 2008; Page A18
John McCain gave his big economic speech in Pittsburgh Tuesday, and many of the policies he proposed are laudable – the highlight being an optional flat tax for individuals. The weakness – especially heading into a general election amid a struggling economy – is that his pudding still has no theme.

Being able to provide a guiding economic narrative is not just a matter of having a catchy soundbite, a la the "ownership society." It's essential for two reasons. First, it offers voters an explanation of how we got to the current moment, which means why the economy is struggling. The two Democrats already have their story: The 1990s were a golden age for the middle class that has been ruined by Republican tax cuts that rewarded only rich lenders and speculators. Mr. McCain needs a different policy narrative.

 
AP 
John McCain
Second, a guiding philosophy shows voters that future decisions will be made according to a set of principles they can understand. Example: A month ago, Mr. McCain gave a speech saying it wasn't the government's obligation to rescue those who took out loans they couldn't afford. Then last week he, ahem, supplemented that view by supporting an FHA-guaranteed loan-restructuring program in what looked to be a bid to compete with Democrats in the housing bailout auction.

Without some guiding principles, voters are left to wonder whether Mr. McCain's next lurch will be to the populist left, where his instincts sometimes run, or to the fiscally conservative right, where he is also sometimes found.

True to form, yesterday's speech offered support for both McCains. On the pro-growth side, he spoke out strongly for tax reform and endorsed the specific idea of an optional flat tax. "We are going to create a new and simpler tax system – and give the American people a choice," he said. Tax reform is precisely the kind of big domestic proposal that will let him plausibly campaign as the real agent of "change." And by making it optional, he can deflect Democratic claims that he'll rob Americans of their tax deductions.

We were also glad to see Mr. McCain repeat his proposal to cut the corporate tax rate to 25% from its current 35%. This is a competitive necessity, as the rest of the world marches its way down the corporate Laffer Curve. The U.S. now has the second highest corporate tax rate in the developed world – after Japan – and every CEO we talk to says the punitive U.S. rate is one reason so much investment is being made overseas.

The Senator also took a hard line on spending, saying "we need to make a clean break from the worst excesses of both political parties." And he put some specific ideas behind it: A promise to veto any bill with earmarks, and a "one-year pause in discretionary spending increases," except for defense and veterans. You can already hear the squealing on both of those from Capitol Hill, where spending increases have long been automatic and earmarks are nearly a matter of natural right. This attack on spending is credible given Mr. McCain's voting record, and it will serve as a contrast with either Democratic candidate, who will be promising vast new spending programs.

Less credible is Mr. McCain's call for Washington to suspend the 18.4-cent-a-gallon federal gasoline tax between Memorial Day and Labor Day to help consumers hit by high oil prices. There are few tax cuts we don't like, but this one smacks of poll-driven gimmickry. If Mr. McCain wants to cut the price of gasoline, he should tell the Federal Reserve to stop fueling the commodity boom by cutting interest rates.

Mr. McCain had almost nothing to say about prices and inflation, yet both are among the major concerns of voters in the polls. Like most of today's politicians, he seems to see gasoline prices only through the prism of energy policy. But the single major cause of the recent oil and gas price spike is monetary policy. Mr. McCain needs to find a way to tell voters, as Ronald Reagan did, that inflation is the great thief of the middle class and that he wants a Federal Reserve that will protect the value of the dollar and personal thrift.

Which brings us back to the matter of an agenda without a theme. To win in November, Mr. McCain is going to have to do more than mimic the Democrats by blaming the housing bust on greedy lenders and rich Wall Street CEOs. If voters believe that narrative, they'll elect a President Obama. He needs to be the tribune of the middle-class family that pays its bills and didn't gamble on property.

He'll also need to say more than that Democrats will raise taxes while he will cut them. He needs to explain to voters why low tax rates are vital in an increasingly competitive world; why they can help revive growth at home; and why growth and economic security go hand in hand with national security.

In yesterday's speech, Mr. McCain tried to show voters he feels their pain. What they need and want to hear is a speech that shows that he understands and is willing to fight for the policies that produce prosperity.

WSJ
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #449 on: April 17, 2008, 02:42:07 PM »

Many liberals exploded in anger last night over the fact that Barack Obama was asked by ABC moderator George Stephanopoulos for the first time to explain his relationship with William Ayers, a former member of the 1960s terrorist group Weather Underground, which set off bombs in the Pentagon and Capitol.

Mr. Ayers, asked in the Sept. 11, 2001 New York Times if he regretted his actions, said he only wished he had set off more bombs.

Mr. Obama knew enough to try to distance himself from Mr. Ayers. "This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from.... The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense, George."

What disturbed liberals most was not that the question brought back the turbulent 60s, but that its genesis apparently came from conservative Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Mr. Stephanopoulos was on Mr. Hannity's radio show on Tuesday, and was asked why no one in the media had asked Mr. Obama about the association with Mr. Ayers. Mr. Stephanopoulos told the radio audience he was writing down all the information Mr. Hannity was giving him.

"It's a question that should have been asked a year ago, it's about time," Mr. Hannity e-mailed me last night. George did not seem to even know about it till I told him. The left wing blogs are going nuts over this (and crying foul)."

That's understandable, given that the way Mr. Obama handled the question almost guarantees he will have to address it again. But that doesn't mean the issue is illegitimate or inappropriate. It just means it's finally been raised in a campaign that has given Mr. Obama too many passes on his background.

-- John Fund

Hillary's Doggedness Vindicated

Since neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton will have enough in elected delegates to clinch the nomination when the primaries end, last night's ABC debate largely had them trying to influence one elite audience: the superdelegates who will represent almost 20% of the Democratic convention floor vote and who will decide the nominee.

Based on last night's performance, Mr. Obama shouldn't expect a lot of superdelegates to break for him in the near future. Most observers agreed that, faced with the toughest questioning he has ever gotten in a debate, he was tense, evasive and obscure in many of his answers. Even blogger Andrew Sullivan, a fervent Obama supporter, acknowledged that he was "having an awful night."

He singled out Mr. Obama's insistence that the capital gains tax be raised even after confronted with evidence that previous cuts had actually led to higher revenues. Mr. Sullivan noted that "Obama's convoluted capital gains tax answer was a brutal reminder to folks like me that he is indeed a redistributionist, and someone who seems to see the tax system as a way to decide what people 'deserve' to have and keep. Ugh."

Last night's debate demonstrated one thing: Hillary Clinton's strategy of hanging on in hopes that Mr. Obama will lose luster over time hasn't been a bad one. She is still unlikely to win the nomination, but she has even more reason now to keep fighting until the last primary is held in June.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"On Rev. Wright he took a direct hit. He couldn't get off the treadmill and just kept making things worse. On William Ayers he was tough and in your face, but it came off defensive and clearly put him further off his stride. It was clear he wasn't used to it.... Obama hasn't had this type of questioning before. No doubt his supporters will be upset, while Clinton's supporters likely feel it was long overdue. The truth is that [ABC News moderators] Gibson and Stephanopoulos asked questions that have been on people's minds, but nobody else in the media had the spine to bring up" -- liberal blogger and radio host Taylor Marsh.

Quote of the Day II

"All the signs point to a big Democratic year, and I still wouldn't bet against Obama winning the White House, but his background as a Hyde Park liberal is going to continue to dog him. No issue is crushing on its own, but it all adds up. For the life of me I can't figure out why he didn't have better answers on Wright and on the 'bitter' comments. The superdelegates cannot have been comforted by his performance" -- New York Times columnist David Brooks, blogging last night's debate.




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