Friday, July 13, 2007


Open Thread

Have at it, folks!!

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Another Black Man Taken Down... The Man.

And on Black Friday, no less.

(On the other hand, I hear that commutation is "in" these days for little things like "obstruction of justice.")


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Noonan Hits The Bush Wall

After Bush's latest press conference, an implicit plea for a parliamentary system:

Americans hire presidents and fire them. They're not as sweet about it as they used to be. This is not because they have grown cynical, but because they are disappointed, by both teams and both sides. Some part of them thinks no matter who is president he will not protect them from forces at work in the world. Some part of them fears that when history looks back on this moment, on the past few presidents and the next few, it will say: Those men were not big enough for the era.

But this is a democracy. You vote, you do the best you can with the choices presented, and you show the appropriate opposition to the guy who seems most likely to bring trouble. (I think that is one reason for the polarity and division of politics now. No one knows in his gut that the guy he supports will do any good. But at least you can oppose with enthusiasm and passion the guy you feel in your gut will cause more trouble than is needed! This is what happens when the pickings are slim: The greatest passion gets funneled into opposition.)

We hire them and fire them. President Bush was hired to know more than the people, to be told all the deep inside intelligence, all the facts Americans are not told, and do the right and smart thing in response. That's the deal.

It's the real "grand bargain." If you are a midlevel Verizon executive who lives in New Jersey, this is what you do: You hire a president and tell him to take care of everything you can't take care of--the security of the nation, its well-being, its long-term interests. And you in turn do your part. You meet your part of the bargain. You work, pay your taxes, which are your financial
contribution to making it all work, you become involved in local things--the boy's ball team, the library, the homeless shelter. You handle what you can handle within your ken, and give the big things to the president.

And if he can't do it, or if he can't do it as well as you pay the mortgage and help the
kid next door, you get mad. And you fire him.

Americans can't fire the president right now, so they're waiting it out. They can tell a pollster how they feel, and they do, and they can tell friends, and they do that too. They also watch the news conference, and grit their teeth a bit.


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Friday Pol-pourri

1) The enemy of my enemy is my friend: Fred Thompson meets with the IAFF to discuss their Rudy complaints.

2) Hillary makes a rare mistake -- caught on an open mic discussing with John Edwards on how to get
the lesser-known candidates excluded from future debates (first item). In doing this, Clinton and Edwards give Dennis Kucinich his best soundbite in weeks:
Dennis Kucinich, who can be seen walking up to Clinton a moment later, released a statement saying "Imperial candidates are as repugnant to the American people and to our Democracy as an imperial President."
3) Judge Reggie Walton, not surprisingly, disagrees with the president's view that Scooter Libby's sentence was "excessive":
"It is fair to say that the Court is somewhat perplexed as to how its sentence could be accurately characterized as ‘excessive,'" Judge Walton wrote. "Although it is certainly the president's prerogative to justify the exercise of his constitutional commutation power in whatever manner he chooses (or even to decline to provide a reason for his actions altogether), the Court notes that the term of incarceration imposed in this case was determined after a careful consideration of each of the requisite statutory factors … and was consistent with the bottom end of the applicable sentencing range as properly calculated
under the United States Sentencing Guidelines."
For good measure, Walton also took issue with the logical judicial conundrum presented by Bush's commuting the entire prison sentence -- but leaving the probation intact:
Judge Walton said he left the two-year probation for Libby in place "with great reservation" because the statute governing supervised release appears to require that a defendant serve some jail time first. "The President has effectively rewritten the statutory scheme on an ad hoc basis to make the punishment created by Congress applicable to a situation Congress clearly did not intend," the judge wrote.

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AFC Preview

It is that time of year again. With NFL training camps just a few weeks away, it is time to take a preliminary guess at how this coming season will unfold. I am just a bit anxious for the season to begin, can't you tell?

I'll start with the AFC this week. My projections for wins this season are in parentheses:

PATRIOTS (11 wins): While the Pats have improved their most glaring weakness from last year, their wide receivers, I would not expect that to improve their overall wins by much because the rest of this division has also improved. However, they should still win this division.
JETS (9 wins): I will give Coach Mangini credit. He learned how to win games from Bill Belichick using smoke and mirrors. This is still not a great team, but I wouldn't underestimate their coaching.
BILLS (8 wins): The addition of RB Marshawn Lynch will make this team better, but this is offset by the loss of CB Nate Clements. I am still not sold that J.P. Losman can be the quarterback they need.
DOLPHINS (7 wins): New coach (Cam Cameron). New quarterback (Trent Green). Even with the growing pains, I expect the Dolphins will be better.

BENGALS (10 wins): The team to beat in the North. We all know how depleted their roster has become due to local law enforcement, but this team still has a solid base to build on, and Marvin Lewis can do it.
RAVENS (10 wins): It is hard to call the Ravens a much worse team than last year. While the addition of RB Willis McGahee improves them, this team was already old last year. If QB Steve McNair still has enough gas left in the tank, this team could easily be a Super Bowl team. But that's a BIG "if".
STEELERS (7 wins): This is a good news/bad news deal for the Steelers. With Mike Tomlin installing a new offense, expect the Steelers to take a while to come around offensively (assuming the new offense works at all). I am giving the Steelers the benefit of the doubt here by saying 7 wins. Expect the Steelers to start slow and MAYBE come on at the end of the season.
BROWNS (4 wins): This team is STILL rebuilding? By the way, anyone execting Brady Quinn to be an improvement over Charlie Frye will be sorely disappointed. Quinn might be a LITTLE better next year.

TITANS (9 wins): While the Colts may be the "class" of this division, the Titans will be hungrier. Vince Young is the real deal, and he'll take the Titans past the Colts to win this division. The only question in my mind is whether the Titans win the division by a tie-breaker or by overall wins.
COLTS (9 wins): With the Super Bowl victory hanging around their necks like an albatross, expect the Colts to drop more games than last year. Regardless, they are still a tough team to beat.
TEXANS (7 wins): Will their offensive line play any better than last year? Will Matt Schaub play any better than David Carr? And their best running back is Ahman Green? With all those questions, there is a bright side. I think their defense will be a little better with DT Amobi Okoye.
JAGUARS (6 wins): The Jags still have not solved their quarterback problems. Without a lot of improvement elsewhere, this team is dropping.

BRONCOS (10 wins): Jay Cutler looks like the best quarterback the Broncos have had since Elway. Another year under Cutler's belt can only mean good things for this team.
CHARGERS (9 wins): How can an overwhelmingly talented team like the Chargers go from 14 wins to 9 wins? Two words: Norv Turner, who has consistently shown over the years he can take a great team and make them mediocre.
RAIDERS (7 wins): Expect the first year under Lane Kiffin to be a significant improvement over last year's catastrophe. All the news out of Oakland seems to show the Raiders embracing the new coach's philosophy.
CHIEFS (7 wins): Nothing like another year under Herm Edwards to make a playoff team worse. When you consider that RB Larry Johnson might hold out or be traded, the Chiefs might even be a 2 win team.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007


Rudy vs. The Firefighters

Here's the International Association of Fire Fighters video going after Rudy Giuliani:

Marc Ambinder gives a overview of the
political stakes and Rudy's aggressive pushback.

My question is why did the IAFF unveil this ad at such an early stage. It wouldn't have been smart to do it during the general campaign next year (a la the Swift Boaters), but one would think it would have made a greater impact heading into the primary season in the late fall. Releasing this in the middle of the summer runs the risk that it will be just "old news" by the time Republicans are voting next January.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Why Architects Need To Watch More TV

Some embarrassment in downtown San Diego...

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and two beholders – one of them a government agency's architect – have very different views of a 40-story residential tower proposed at a gateway to downtown San Diego.

Sandor Shapery says his design is like a flower. A consultant to the Centre City Development Corp. says it looks like a giant phallus.

The Shapery proposal, a 160-unit hotel and condominium tower, was supposed to go before the downtown redevelopment agency for initial feedback this month. But the developer asked for a postponement, saying he will “revisit” and perhaps “tone down” the design because he doesn't want to offend anyone.
...could very well have been avoided this controversy had the architects only been fans of CBS' "How I Met Your Mother":

The firm is about to unveil a design for a skyscraper to a big client, and Druthers is very excited about it. Druthers unveils it to the client, and the client automatically announces that the building is a penis. Everybody in the office knows it looks like a penis but Druthers, who did not see it at all. The client refuses to build a penis, and asks for other ideas. Druthers doesn't have any ready. The client is angry, and decides to leave. Ted stops him, and shows him his design.
Here's some amusing risque (or juvenile, depending on your humor tolerance) dialogue from the episode:

Ted: Here they are.
Boss: Hmm, too green.
Ted: Too green?
Boss: The leaves should be more of a natural brown color, almost brunette. Think bushy. I want this tower to rise from a thicket of wild ungroomed brunette shrubbery. Can you picture it, Ted?
Ted: I can’t unpicture it.
So who says TV can't be educational?

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"Time" For Annoying Columnists

For those who actually still pay attention to newsmagazines -- Time manages to run two irritating essays in its current issue.

1) Bill Kristol dismisses the American public's current
state of mind as "moody" and "adolescent" and urges everyone to be happy about current conditions. He likens it to a similar depressed mood during George H.W. Bush's re-election campaign.

Well, he might have had a point about 1992 (the recession actually ended nearly a year before election day). But, today? Oh, right. The country is locked in a war that seems in no quick end of resolution; was started on, shall we say, "questionable" (to use as neutral a word as possible) intelligence -- but was urged on by Kristol for six years before it actually began; and has caused the U.S. to be universally derided in ways it never has before. Oh, and the country is being led by a president who seems unable to articulate a way going forward.

But, the public is "moody" and "adolescent" because it is actually noticing these things? (As Andrew
notes, this must be Kristol's week for putting everybody on the couch: Wanting to withdraw from Iraq now is "insane" and "irrational".)

Physician, heal thyself.

2) Michael Kinsley, almost as contemptuous in chastising the public -- primarily Democrats, this time -- for what he calls the "pat-on-the-back" factor of supporting a female or black candidates as being dominant
in the presidential race.

Why that assumption of how voters assess their electoral options? Since when has it been about the quote-objective best-unquote candidate? And why is it deemed a "problem" just because the candidates under discussion this time happen to be black and female?

How about George W. Bush as a "legacy" president? Was he not elected partly because he was the son of a former president? His promise to "restore honor and dignity to the White House" was certainly an implicit criticism of Bill Clinton's behavior, but it carried with it a hint of a "restoration" of the values embodied by the first Bush White House.

Meanwhile, if it's only "pat on the back" to which voters are being attracted, why is the Latino candidate -- who this non-Democrat actually likes best among the Democrats -- back in the pack with "generic" white guys?

Is it not possible that Clinton and Obama are the two "best" candidates in the Democratic field -- judged by the always shifting standards of pure politics? Maybe Clinton and Obama have managed to make themselves stand out in a crowded field based on more than just their gender and race. Have those attributes helped them in their primary race? Absolutely (Obama more than Hillary). But, Obama has still managed to thrive even with a rather odd name. Consider how much better he might be doing if his name was, oh, "Harold Ford" (without the family baggage).

But Obama is a better-than-average rhetoritician. As Andrew Ferguson has noted, he's a better than average politician-as-writer too. He's also not the first politician to become considered presidential material from one major speech: Consider Mario Cuomo (following the 1984 Democratic convention -- though he eventually never jumped in) or Ronald Reagan (during the Goldwater campaign).

Hillary got to where she is by being married to Bill Clinton. But, despite all of her baggage, she's managed to convince a lot of Democrats that she is the most experienced individual in the race.

The point is that there are innumerable factors that voters look at in assessing a candidate, a combination of personality, intelligence, experience, charisma and certain "x" elements. Of course, it's much easier for Kinsley to just chalk up Obama and Clinton's success to them being the black guy and the woman.

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With Friends Like These...

Real Clear Politics details an interesting trend:

Boy, Rudy can sure pick 'em. The former New York Mayor had a good fundraising quarter, outraising every other Republican in the field, but he can't seem to hold on to endorsers. First, President Bush relieved Giuliani of his Iowa state chair when he appointed former Congressman Jim Nussle to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget. Then, a federal grand jury relieved Giuliani of his South Carolina chairman when it indicted Treasurer Thomas Ravenel on cocaine charges (Ravenel pleaded not guilty and flew to the Sierra Tucson facility for rehabilitation).

Now comes news that the first member of Congress to be swept up in the so-called D.C. Madam case is
Louisiana Senator David Vitter. Vitter, as Marc Ambinder points out, was one of the first top Republicans to throw his weight behind Giuliani, and while Vitter's apology last night may not make Rudy cut him completely adrift, it's certainly a loss of someone who could have played a big role as a conservative liaison.
Vitter's indiscretion -- unlike, say, Ravenel's -- can be even more damaging to Giuliani than just the loss of a "conservative liaison": It directly highlights on one of Giuliani's personal "issues", i.e., infidelity and marital problems.

And, of course, it's not just one hooker. Vitter was apparently not a quitter (the Louisiana madam -- as opposed to the "D.C. Madam" -- speaks quite highly of him). Of course, if his wife is true to her word, politics is the least of Sen. Vitter's worries:

In 2000, his wife, Wendy, was asked if she would stand by her man like Hillary
Clinton if she faced a similar situation.
“I’m a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary,” Mrs. Vitter told Newhouse News. “If he does something like that, I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me.”

Oh well, one thing Giuliani doesn't have to worry about: His support for gun control means that he won't get Ted Nugent's endorsement. Thank goodness. Otherwise, he might have to worry about a possible trifecta of endorsee scandals covering sex (Vitter), drugs (Ravenel) and rock & roll!

UPDATE: Josh Marshall offers something of a contest that I'd like to give RT readers an opportunity to jump in:

I was thinking it would be interesting to have like a Rudy futures market -- trying to figure out in advance who was likely to be engulfed in a major scandal or caught committing serious felonies so Rudy could hurry up and appoint them to something while the getting was so good.
In any case, that aside, so far we've got Kerik (wenching, bribery, assorted corruption), Ravenel
(coke dealing), Ravenel Sr. (history of racist comments), Vitter (patron of prostitutes) and ...? Who else can you think of? Let us know.
Two words, Mr. Mayor, two words: "Background checks."

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Taps For McCain

Forget writing on the wall.

This is a
big, fat neon sign on the terminal nature of John McCain's presidential campaign.

Terry Nelson is one thing; he worked for Bush in the 2000 campaign. But with notable exception of ghost-writer Mark Salter, John Weaver is McCain's strategist-alter ego. This is the equivalent of Karl Rove quitting the Bush operation in 1999.

Oh, and how surprising -- the departures preceded by a volcanic eruption by the candidate. Who would have predicted that?

Say good night, John.

UPDATE: Salter, the other alter-ego, quit shortly afterwards. The question to ask now is whether McCain even plans on remaining in politics for much longer. Oh, and if Salter plans to sue for the royalties to the two best-selling McCain "autobiographies" and three other books for which Salter was larely responsible.

A rather sad ending to a political career.

UPDATE: Salter, apparently, is officially quitting the campaign, but plans to remain as an unpaid adviser.


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Just In From "C"-&-"N"

The NAACP held a symbolic (what else) "funeral" for the N-word on Monday.

I didn't think too much about it because, well, I can't think of much from the NAACP in recent years that has been significant in either my life or that of the broader black community. There's far more trenchant debate, discussion and leadership found from such diverse individuals as Barack Obama, Rev. Al Sharpton,
Cory Booker, Michael Eric Dyson, Condoleezza Rice, Henry Louis Gates, Stanley Crouch, Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, Rev. Harry Jackson -- than anything coming out of the NAACP. I might not agree with everything said and done by these folks, but at least they seem to be "in the mix" and contributing to daily political and social currents than this century-old organization.

Former Verizon executive Bruce Gordon tried to bring it kicking and screaming into the 21st century and got himself kicked to the curb
earlier this year. Underscoring the absurdity of this "funeral," it was held in Detroit and "officiated" by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who obviously has experience doing these things -- given how Detroit's murder rate has increased in recent years.

So, I paid little heed to this N-word funeral from the start. However, from this mailing list that I'm on (and to which I usually pay little attention), I stumbled across this
new blogger who expertly eviscerates NAACP hypocrisy, starting at its root -- it's ridiculously outmoded name:

Let's get this out the way from the jump. I'm not down with using the "N" word and frankly, if I was rollin' through tha hood and saw the NAACP scrappin' with G Unit, I'd just grab a big bag of chips and a Big Gulp and watch. However, in wrestling terms, this is more like a triple threat match between the old school Civil Rights Leaders, the commercial "gangsta" rappers and the Hip Hop activists all vying for the coveted World Championship of Black Culture.

It’s a tough question but someone has to ask it...Is it really fair to come down on tha Brotha's for using the "N" word, when in 2007, you still refer to Black folks as "colored people?"

Is there a real qualitative difference between the name NWA (N***** With Attitude) and the NAACP? I guarantee you that most rappers will not put up half the fight over the "N" word as the folks in the NAACP would if folks demanded that they take "colored" out of their title.

While many can trace the history of Hip Hop from its South Bronx origins most people are totally oblivious to the history of the NAACP. While many people automatically assume that it was always a "black thing", in reality, the first members of the NAACP were white, including the early presidents. Also, the integrationists of the NAACP fought against the self empowerment movement of Marcus Garvey and the UNIA.

Although many people argue (and rightly so) that corporations have ruined Hip Hop, it must be stated that white philanthropists/corporations have always invested heavily in the NAACP from its inception until this very day and as the old saying goes "who ever pays the piper picks the tune." I find ironic that the most notorious "gangsta" rapper, 50 cent is promoting bottled vitamin water while the NAACP promotes Anheuser Busch, the company responsible for the "hood" drink King Cobra Malt Liquor.

So, commercial Hip Hop and the NAACP have a lot in common. The NAACP had a white man as its first president and Hip Hop had Vanilla Ice.
Preach on, brother, preach on! [Though, while I see the point he's making about Vanilla Ice -- first rapper to hit Number One (not counting Blondie)- back in the day, everyone knew that "Eric B. Is President."]

Anyway, while we're on such topics, here's yet one of those
Obama-the-cool-black-candidate-Americans-are-ready-to-embrace -- for those of you who haven't read a version of this 20 or 25 times already. On the other hand, the sidebar on the new brand of black politician (including the aforementioned Cory Booker of Newark) would have made a far more interesting cover and larger article.

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