Saturday, January 12, 2008

 

Open Thread

What's on your mind?

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Friday, January 11, 2008

 

"First Black President"?

That was then.

This is now. The Clinton-Black America love affair appears over.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

 

Political Media: Shut Up

...says The Politico as it catalogues the many sins of Campaign 08 -- including its own.

Not bad. Whether this will have much effect in the big picture remains to be seen.

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Friday Funnies

If you're in New York Friday evening, swing over to the East Side to the New York Comedy Club, where yours truly will be performing!

Details are thus:

Date: Friday, January 11th

Time: 7 PM-9 PM
Address: 241 E. 24th Street (between 1st & 2nd Aves)
Reservations: 212-629-1781, or via e mail at
bellylaughstix@aol.com (It's a good idea to make reservations; tell them you're coming to see me.
Cost: $15 cover and a 2 drink minimum


See you there!

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

 

Is Mac Back?

Some exit polling analysis that should temper the "McCain is the GOP frontrunner" fever about to envelop some pundits (including, ahem, yours truly).

As I wrote earlier, nobody really knows how this is going to play out.

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Pigskin Pick'em Playoffs - Wild Card Results/Divisional Preview

Sorry for the delay, but here are the results from last weekend's NFL playoff picks:
EdMcGon - 3
Bill Barker - 3
Audio Dave - 3
David Stefanini - 3

Robert A. George - 2
J. Mark English - 1

For this week's picks, remember to get them in before 4:30 pm EST on Saturday. Here are my picks:

Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers: I certainly under-rated the Hawks last week, but I cannot see them beating the Pack on the frozen tundra.
Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots: The Jags may give the Pats a hard time, but expect the Pats to pull it out in the end. The Pats just seem to have an extra gear they turn on whenever they need it.
San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts: This one has upset potential, but I can't pick the inconsistent Chargers over the fairly consistent Colts.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys: The Giants have the momentum, plus they play better on the road. The Cowboys stumbled at the end of the season, losing two of their last three games. But the Boys are still the better team.

(For the rules, see
this post.)

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Tears of A Crown

On second thought...

Anyone who thinks they know how the presidential nominating process is going to play out is full of sh**.

Two months ago, John McCain's political obituary had been written; Rudy Giuliani led the national polls and Mitt Romney was the runaway leader in New Hampshire.Two days ago, Hillary Clinton's political obituary was being written: The dynasty was over, the queen was dead; the question was not whether Hillary should withdraw, but under what circumstances; George W. Bush was asking President Obama if he would consider starting a year early.

And then people started voting.

Today, we have winners who, not much more than a year ago, everyone expected to be the frontrunners: John McCain and Hillary Clinton. Will they be the eventual nominees?

Who knows?

However, the path to the GOP nomination for John McCain looks slightly more clear than Hillary's path to the Democratic nod. If McCain can beat Romney in Michigan and Huckabee in South Carolina, it's pretty clear sailing. But if Huckabee wins SC, what then? Rudy Giuliani's "chaos theory" suddenly looks like it might bear fruit in Florida and Super Tuesday. On the Democratic side, this looks like it could be a binary race between Obama and Clinton. Sorry, John Edwards.

However, a few things New Hampshire showed:

1) Despite everything, maybe the Clinton name still means something in the Granite State (or maybe the MACHINE is better at stealing elections there, as one partisan Democrat hinted to me tonight).

2) Hillary Clinton is never so dangerous as when she is portrayed as the victim. Her popularity increased post-Monica; she "won" a debate -- and essentially the election -- in 2000 when Rick Lazio pushed a paper in herface and demanded that she "sign it! Sign it!" In that light, Hillary's "emotional moment" on Monday may have touched a chord with undecided women who decided to support her at the last moment.

3) On a related note, there was the Saturday debate: Hillary was asked about the fact that more voters "liked" Obama more than her. She responded, smiling, "That hurts my feelings." The crowd chuckled, Hillary said, "Barack is a likeable guy." But Obama almost sneered, "You're likeable enough, Hillary." It was an unnecessary snide line, delivered at a moment when he could have been gracious (Something like, "Senator, of course, you're likeable, and you have made history as the first First Lady to win office in her own right. Yes, I'd like to make history of my own, but we certainly praise the service you've given this nation.") . Instead, his actual abrupt comment was against character: At a moment when Hillary was being warm/likeable (Obama-like?), while he was being cold and, well, bitchy -- characteristics often associated with Hillary.

4) Finally, it would be dishonest not to mention the elephant in the room -- race. On MSNBC, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson and NBC political analyst/polling expert Chuck Todd raised what is often referred to as the "Bradley effect": The Obama internal polls gave him a lead of 14 points (similar to the last CNN poll). Hillary's internal polls gave Obama an eleven point lead. Yet, she won by three points. The "Bradley effect" refers to the 1982 gubernatorial race of African American Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley who the polls showed leading by double digits the night before election day: He lost narrowly to white Republican George Deukmajian. In 1989, African American Lt. Gov. Doug Wilder was leading the Virginia gubernatorial race by about ten points; he won by less than one percent. A similar series of events occured in the New York mayoral race that year with Democrat David Dinkins leading Republican Rudy Giuliani in heavily Democratic New York City by double digits .

To be blunt, in contests involving black candidates, there often appears a hidden (or deceptive) vote in polling that works to the disadvantage of the black candidates. It doesn't always occur: Harold Ford's loss in Tennessee U.S. Senate race in 2006 was certainly within the margin of error of pre-election polls. But when all the pre-election polls were wrong (and not just by the margin of error) as they were in New Hampshire, one has to entertain at least the possibility of the "Bradley effect."

I don't know if that occurred Tuesday. But any punditswho say they definitely know what is going on this year are, well...you know.

UPDATE: Well, hey there! Karl Rove agrees with me on the debate moment! And here's the video:




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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

 

The Swift-Boating of Obama?

How ugly could it get as the empire crumbles?

Possibly very ugly according to Tom Edsall:
[S]ome top independent expenditure groups supporting Clinton have been exploring the creation of an anti-Obama "527 committee" that would take unlimited contributions from a few of Clinton's super-rich backers and from a handful of unions to finance television ads and direct mail designed to tarnish the Illinois Senator's image.

Three groups conducting independent expenditure campaigns in behalf of Clinton - Emily's List, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) - have explored
the possibility of trying to put together a multi-million dollar effort privately dubbed the Anybody-But-Obama 527 Committee, but they have run into problems finding any Democratic operative willing to become the director of a campaign against the man who now is the odds-on favorite to become the party's nominee.

"You might make some good money in the short term, but your chances of getting any Democratic contracts in the future, especially if Obama wins, would be zilch," said one operative. "I wouldn't go there."

The effectiveness of a 527 that goes negative was demonstrated by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which attacked John Kerry's war record in the 2004 campaign. Spokespersons for both Emily's List and the AFT both adamantly denied to the Huffington Post any involvement with plans to create an anti-Obama 527 group.

But in fact, the complexities of federal election law have made it illegal for them to be involved. The discussions about the possible creation of such a 527 committee were held among people active in the separate independent expenditure (IE) campaigns conducted by AFT, Emily's List and AFSCME. By law, there can be no communication between those working on an IE campaign and officials of the parent organization putting the cash into the campaign. Officials of AFT and Emily's list acknowledged that they have had no contact with the staff members running their IE drives.

AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee declared: "We're not about the business of swift-boating any Democratic candidate. We will not be party to any kind of effort of this type. Our campaign is about promoting Hillary Clinton - not tearing down any other candidate. Our number one priority is having the strongest Democratic candidate to take back the White House in November."

Sources familiar with the discussions about the creation of an anti-Obama 527 said that some of the Clinton campaign's major fundraisers have separately been exploring another similar proposal, but have not gotten very far yet.

"These things (527s) are not that easy to get rolling. There is a long way between talking and doing," said one source familiar with setting up 527 operations.
Federal tax law requires regular disclosure of both the donors to 527 organizations and the expenditures they make, so it is not possible for such committees to keep secret the identity of supporters and staff.

Talk about lose-lose: If a Hillary-connected 527 launches a search-and-destroy mission against Obama and tears him down enough to allow Hillary to come back, it would be the end of her. Even if she got the nomination, black voters would be so turned off, she could forget any hope of winning the election. She would then be doubly villified among Democrats -- for denying a viable black candidate the nomination and giving a winnable election to Republicans. And that's not even counting an even scarier scenario -- that an enterprising billionaire independent might approach a disgruntled Obama as a potential running mate. And, yeah, under that circumstance, it would indeed be possible for a Hillary-led ticket to finish third.

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Ron Paul's Racism...

Very tough New Republic piece.
The Freedom Report's online archives only go back to 1999, but I was curious to see older editions of Paul's newsletters, in part because of a controversy dating to 1996, when Charles "Lefty" Morris, a Democrat running against Paul for a House seat, released excerpts stating that "opinion polls consistently show only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions," that "if you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be," and that black representative Barbara Jordan is "the archetypical half-educated victimologist" whose "race and sex protect her from criticism." At the time, Paul's campaign said that Morris had quoted the newsletter out of context. Later, in 2001, Paul would claim that someone else had written the controversial passages. (Few of the newsletters contain actual bylines.) Caldwell, writing in the Times Magazine last year, said he found Paul's explanation believable, "since the style diverges widely from his own."

Finding the pre-1999 newsletters was no easy task, but I was able to track many of them down at the libraries of the University of Kansas and the Wisconsin Historical Society. Of course, with few bylines, it is difficult to know whether any particular article was written by Paul himself. Some of the earlier newsletters are signed by him, though the vast majority of the editions I saw contain no bylines at all. Complicating matters, many of the unbylined newsletters were written in the first person, implying that Paul was the author.

But, whoever actually wrote them, the newsletters I saw all had one thing in common: They were published under a banner containing Paul's name, and the articles (except for one special edition of a newsletter that contained the byline of another writer) seem designed to create the impression that they were written by him--and reflected his views. What they reveal are decades worth of obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays. In short, they suggest that Ron Paul is not the plain-speaking antiwar activist his supporters believe they are backing--but rather a member in good standing of some of the oldest and ugliest traditions in American politics.

......

Martin Luther King Jr. earned special ire from Paul's newsletters, which attacked the civil rights leader frequently, often to justify opposition to the federal holiday named after him. ("What an infamy Ronald Reagan approved it!" one newsletter complained in 1990. "We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day.") In the early 1990s, a newsletter attacked the "X-Rated Martin Luther King" as a "world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours," "seduced underage girls and boys," and "made a pass at" fellow civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy. One newsletter ridiculed black activists who wanted to rename New York City after King, suggesting that "Welfaria," "Zooville," "Rapetown," "Dirtburg," and "Lazyopolis" were better alternatives. The same year, King was described as "a comsymp, if not an actual party member, and the man who replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration."

While bashing King, the newsletters had kind words for the former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke. In a passage titled "The Duke's Victory," a newsletter celebrated Duke's 44 percent showing in the 1990 Louisiana Republican Senate primary. "Duke lost the election," it said, "but he scared the blazes out of the Establishment." In 1991, a newsletter asked, "Is David Duke's new prominence, despite his losing the gubernatorial election, good for anti-big government forces?" The conclusion was that "our priority should be to take the anti-government, anti-tax, anti-crime, anti-welfare loafers, anti-race privilege, anti-foreign meddling message of Duke, and enclose it in a more consistent package of freedom." Duke is now returning the favor, telling me that, while he will not formally endorse any candidate, he has made information about Ron Paul available on his website.

He's going to have a difficult time refuting these charges. I hope he does, but this is pretty ugly stuff. Andrew Sullivan wants answers. A fomer Paul-leaner finds it "indefensible."

If nothing else, this report could severly damage a third-party run that might depend on anti-war votes from the left.

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Nigeria Is So Yesterday...

I assume everyone else's e-mail boxes are filling up with letters like these:

"Dear Heart,

My name Inika Djibouti Obama. This letter may come to you as a surprise, since we do not know each other. I am the second cousin of Barack Obama Sr. and the former treasurer of Kenya. The recent electoral disturbance in my country has forced me out of my possession and necessitated that I flee my homeland.

I have in my possession 100 million USD that I do not wish to fall into the hands of the opposition leader. As you might understand, I cannot give these funds to my kinsman, because of some strange law called McCain-Feingold.

Your name was given to me as someone whom I can trust. I am hopeful that you can take these funds into your posssession, for an appropriate percentage as thanks for your kind and brave service.

Please send me your contact information...

Yours in holiness,

Inika Djibouti Obama"

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Grey Lady vs. Bloomberg

Apparently, it just struck The New York Times that an independent run by Michael Bloomberg could hurt the Democratic nominee more than the Republican. And so, the paper seems to be going all out to, ahem, gently dissuade, the mayor from jumping into the race. On Sunday, a story appeared underscoring Bloomberg's Democrat ties and positions.

Then, today, we see a story about how the rise of Obama
"deflates...talk of a Bloomberg run".

Yes, objectively, Obama's message of "change" and trying to rise "above partisanship" certainly does eat into some of Bloomberg's appeal (as would a McCain candidacy on the Republican side), however TWO Times stories in three days trying to throw cold water on "independent" Michael Bloomberg.

Quite a coincidence. (Geez, if the Times was so concerned about this, they should have checked
here 18 months ago, when this blog noted that a Bloomberg run "could spell complete disaster" for the Democrats.)

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Monday, January 07, 2008

 

Believing In Yesterday

As even Hillary's once-mighty national lead collapses, Josh Marshall discusses the campaign's grievous strategic error. His instincts on the Democratic Party are certainly better than mine -- and his argument -- the "looking backwards" scenario -- echoes similar observations from my friend Dan Gerstein.

However, there is also the possibility that the explanation to Sen. Clinton's problems is much more obvious: She really is a poor candidate and someone whose basic negatives are so high that even members of her own party see it -- especially when compared to a candidate whose charisma rivals Bill Clinton's in his heyday.

UPDATE: Incorrect link now fixed.

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War With Iran?

Off the table?

Not so fast.

Do the Straits of Hormuz= the Gulf of Tonkin?

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