Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Obama Blasts Rev. Wright. Bravo (Does he Read The Ostroy Report?)

Sen. Barack Obama did exactly what he needed to do Tuesday in separating himself and his campaign from the destructive behavior of his former pastor, mentor and spiritual advisor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. He did exactly what I suggested he do in the piece I wrote Monday evening.

Here's what I said Obama must do immediately:

If he's going to salvage his campaign, he must quickly disengage from his once-friend and mentor with a strongly worded repudiation of what this megalomaniac religious fraud stands for. He needs to convincingly tell America--yes, perhaps white working class America--that "Wright does not speak for me, does not speak for black America, and is not the man I once knew. I unequivocally denounce his incendiary, racially-divisive rhetoric."

And here's what Obama said:

..."I am outraged and saddened by Rev. Wright's comments yesterday....The person that I saw yesterday was not the person I met 20 years ago.... His comments were not only divisive and destructive but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate ....they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church. They certainly don't portray accurately my values and beliefs..His statements offend me, they rightfully offend all Americans, and they should be denounced. That's what I'm doing very clearly and unequivocally here today....he does not speak for me, he does not speak for my campaign."

Of course, I'm sure Obama and his team put together his speech without the help of yours truly, but it sure is fun thinking otherwise.

But the real story here of course is that Obama has finally divorced himself from the raging Reverend. Perhaps the candidate can now focus his campaign on the issues, and of battling his opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton, without being dragged down by the inflammatory rhetoric and bizarre behavior of Rev. Wright.

Given Wright's gargantuan ego, it'll be very interesting to see just what he does in response to Obama's strong repudiation of his "outrageous, shocking" behavior these past several days.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Wright's Wrath: The Unfortunate Gift that Keeps on Giving. It's Time for Obama to Strongly Disavow Himself from this Albatross

If on May 6th Sen. Barack Obama loses big in Indiana and experiences further defeat in the remaining primaries, in effect sinking his campaign, he'll have his pastor, mentor and spiritual advisor to thank for it. In what could be a political disaster for Obama, Rev. Jeremiah Wright's 72-hour "Sink Obama Tour" consisted of three bizarre, narcissistic attention-sucking diatribes first on Bill Moyers' PBS show Friday, followed by a meandering, race-baiting sermon at the NAACP's Freedom Fund Dinner in Detroit Sunday evening, and capped by another inflammatory speech Monday before the National Press Club in Washington D.C.

I feel sorry for Obama, I really do. He's a good man trying to run a good, honest campaign, and he truly doesn't deserve Wright's Wrath. But he's just been thrown under the bus by the man he loyally defended and protected just a few weeks ago in a much-acclaimed speech about race in America. The man who for a living--or as a religious calling, I'm not exactly sure which--incessantly rails on about racial injustice in America, sure seems hellbent on derailing the historic candidacy of the man who stands to be the first black president of the United States.

As Salon's Joan Walsh said, "Obama's been let down by Wright, who couldn't suppress his own hurt and anger at his treatment by the "corporate media" long enough to think about the presidential hopes of his renowned spiritual mentee, Obama. And so he pops up during Obama's worst week yet on the campaign trail, in the wake of his sobering loss to Clinton in Pennsylvania. I can't help but wonder: Maybe Wright needs Obama to fail to justify his pessimistic view of American promise. The whole thing is very sad." Wow. Think about that for a second. Could it really be possible that a "President Obama" might actually be bad for business for Wright?

As if his past "God Damn America" and other controversial statements weren't enough of a liability to Obama, the clearly angry and ego-bruised preacher spent the past three days hopping from one event to another, alternating between Obama-bashing and massive delusion and denial over his controversial remarks, which he claims were taken out of context. But the net effect of it all is simple: Wright's Hat-Trick from Hell couldn't have come at a worse time for Obama as he heads to two key primaries next week in North Carolina and Indiana.

Enough's enough. Obama needs to send this narcissistic fool packing on a one-way trip back to Chicago. He needs to, deserves to, come out swinging. If he's going to salvage his campaign, he must quickly disengage from his once-friend and mentor with a strongly worded repudiation of what this megalomaniac religious fraud stands for. He needs to convincingly tell America--yes, perhaps white working class America--that "Wright does not speak for me, does not speak for black America, and is not the man I once knew. I unequivocally denounce his incendiary, racially-divisive rhetoric."

Maybe then can Obama successfully distance himself from this self-serving lunatic who's outlandish behavior these past three days has done more harm to Obama's campaign than white America could in a hundred years.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Rise and Fall of Barack Obama. Is his Campaign Imploding?

Ever since he announced that he was running for president of the United States, Sen. Barack Obama has been called everything from the Messiah to an empty suit, creating a political fissure not seen among Democrats in about 55 years. His candidacy, like that of his opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton, has divided the party right smack down the middle.

To be sure, Obama came out of the gate in January charging like a thoroughbred, surprisingly taking the Iowa caucuses, Idaho, Utah, Kansas and others before moving onto an impressive 11-state winning streak in February. He seemed unstoppable, and winning the nomination was thought to be an obvious inevitability. And that's precisely the point where the Obama campaign appears to have peaked. Since February, he's only manged to squeak out victories in Wyoming and Mississippi, while Clinton has won key states like Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Obama's support has come primarily from blacks, the affluent, the educated and college students. Clinton has been more successful pulling together a broader coalition consisting of the white working class, Hispanics, Catholics, Jews, women and 45+/seniors.

Then came the controversies: Rev. Jeremiah Wright's hate speeches; the Tony Rezko Chicago real estate scandal; the "flag-pin" flap; his wife Michelle's "pride" comments; and "BitterGate." Poor debate performances followed. Obama, once flying high, soon became viewed by many as a potential liability. A candidate whose overall message was failing to resonate among the party's base. A candidate who was failing to connect with voters in a way necessary to win the nomination. A candidate who, in the words of NY Times columnist Bob Herbert, needs to "put more meat on those rhetorical bones."

And then came the Pennsylvania primary, where Clinton won a decisive, almost 10-point win, capturing the support of not just the rural and white working class, but also surprisingly taking the Philly suburbs. In the subsequent week, Obama's numbers have dropped precipitously, with Gallup's Daily Tracking Poll showing Clinton and Obama now tied, and she ahead of Sen. John McCain in the national election. Worse, the Newsweek poll released this weekend shows Obama's lead has been cut by more than half from last week, and that his "electability" lead dropped to 46%-38% from 55%-33. His unfavorable rating jumped to 40%.

So is the candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama imploding? Is his failure to win a big blue state...his public gaffs...his inexperience...his controversies finally having the kind of impact with voters that may leave him unable to convince the super-delegates that it's he, not Clinton, who they should send into the general election against McCain and the GOP? Has he failed to show Democrats that he's a fighter, equipped to be president and commander-in-chief? Is he unable, unlike Clinton, to win back the "Reagan Democrats"...with whom neither candidate can win without? Is his support stagnant while Clinton is winning over the undecideds? Is he all style over substance? Should we be concerned why he refuses to debate Clinton in North Carolina, or why he's fighting tooth and nail to keep Michigan and Florida out of the contest?

By those passionate about Obama, I've been comically accused of being everything from a Hillary Clinton shill to running a Clinton "fan site." But consider what I wrote back on February 10th, following Obama's strong wins in Louisiana, Washington, Nebraska and U.S. Virgin Islands:

"Surveying the landscape at this time it's hard to imagine this momentum fading at any time soon. It's hard to imagine him not going all the way. In politics, momentum and perception is everything. And he looks, act and sounds like a winner. In his victory speech, he was strong, confident and driven; he carried himself like a man who had a window into the future, and he really liked what he saw. To the contrary, Clinton appeared like a tired loser; weak, scared and whose window afforded a much less exciting view."

I wrote many more extremely positive pieces like this about Obama since then when he deserved them. Ironically, I've even been called an Obama shill. But in politics, months can seem like a lifetime, and Obama's once strong inevitability now seems quite uncertain. It is now Clinton who has all the momentum and who appears like a winner, with Obama coming across badly weakened, tired, angry, condescending. Like a candidate who's back at that window, but this time does not like what he sees.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

HillaBamaDramaRama: Is the Tide Turning?

Since her big win in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary Tuesday, Sen. Hillary Clinton's mantra has been the tide is turning. But is she correct, or is it mere political spin from a desperate and dying candidate? If the latest Gallup Daily Tracking Poll is any indication, she may be onto something truly substantive. Sen. Barack Obama could be in serious trouble. But wait, it gets worse for him. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright resurfaced to haunt him this week. And the Florida and Michigan voter problem may soon be settled. To be sure, this has not been a good week for the junior Senator from Illinois.

According to Gallup, Clinton and Obama are now virtually tied, with Obama at 48% to Clinton's 47%. While this represents a drop of about 10 percentage points from his recent high, the real critical bit of news in these numbers is that Clinton's polling has vastly improved among previously undecided voters. Obama's support among Democrats has changed little in the past week--dropping from 50% to 48%--while much of Clinton's increase from 40%-47% has come from those who were previously on the fence. Just as she picked up most of the last-minute deciders in the PA primary, if she continues to do this it will undoubtedly sweeten the narrative she and her supporters are presenting to the super-delegates. Momentum is key, and she clearly has it. The new poll shows that Obama's support is stagnant at best, while more and more Democrats are joining team-Hillary.

The poll indicates another turning point for Clinton. She now leads the GOP's presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain 47% to 45%, while Obama trails the Republican dinosaur 46% to 45%. Polls shmolls, right? Perhaps. And I'm not a huge fan of them, as they tend to change frequently. But we'd be remiss to ignore them as a possible predictor of things to come. Especially when all other momentum seems to be moving from one candidate to another. Polls can be wrong, but more often than not they are correct. The new survey is also key because it takes some wind out of the Obama supporter's sails. Many friends and associates who've been arguing their candidate's viability with me typically cite his lead against both Clinton and McCain. At least for now, that spin is gone.

Now let's move on to House Majority Whip James Clyburn (SC), who earlier this week accused former President Bill Clinton of playing the "race card" before the PA primary. Give us a break. It's actually Clyburn who appears to be playing the race card, no. Does every single criticism of Obama have to be rooted in racial prejudice? This is just more whining from someone who shares Obama's profound sense of entitlement. Someone who, like the many Obama supporters who've relentlessly called for Hillary's early exit from the campaign, is forgetting that this is a contest. And some political contests are heated and close. Sometimes they last until the end. In this particular contest, not everything has to always be about race. Sometimes it's just about two candidates slugging it out in an effort to win. Just like McCain and Mitt Romney did this Winter. Or McCain and George Bush in 2000. Or Bush/Kerry in '04. Were those ugly, bitter contests about race? It's irresponsible of Clyburn, who also happens to head the Congressional Black Caucus, to toss around such incendiary rhetoric, especially when his views are not even shared by his fellow members. Of the CBC's 43 members, 23 back Obama, 15 support Clinton, and five are undecided.

Now onto Rev. Wright, whose nationally televised appearance with PBS's Bill Moyers Friday evening couldn't have come at a worse time for Obama as he heads into key battles in Indiana and North Carolina May 6th. Wright, who Obama has stood by and refused to trash, used the interview as an attempt to redeem himself even at the expense of his former parishioner and protege:

"He's a politician, I'm a pastor. We speak to two different audiences. And he says what he has to say as a politician. I say what I have to say as a pastor. But they're two different worlds."

Wright was referring to the highly acclaimed speech Obama made recently in response to the mounting concern over the Reverend's highly controversial sermons in which he damned America and said its "chickens have come home to roost" in the 9-11 attacks. What's most damaging here to Obama is not that Wright is back in the spotlight again--which is of course not what Obama needs or wants--but how it undermines the candidate's own meticulously crafted image as not just another politician. Wright so easily threw Obama under the very same bus he was spared from. And if his own preacher, someone who mentored him for twenty years and in whom he found great inspiration, sees him as just another politician, is the Obama campaign really just one big myth? If this is how Wright sees Obama, how should the rest of us view him?

Lastly, the Democratic National Committee said its Rules and Bylaws Committee will meet May 31 in Washington, D.C., to consider whether it exceeded its authority when it stripped Florida and Michigan of its delegates for scheduling their primaries earlier than the DNC allowed. This is significant, as Clinton has been fighting to re-seat these delegates and have those states' popular votes counted, while Obama has done everything in his legal power to prevent it. If Clinton succeeds, it could materially alter both Obama's delegate and pop vote counts, further weakening his position as the rightful heir to the nomination. In my opinion, it's a bit disingenuous of Obama to present himself publicly as the candidate of hope and change, the great uniter who's bringing America together, while privately fighting to disenfranchise Florida and Michigan's voters by keeping them out of the race.

One thing's for sure, this contest is definitely far from over.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Is Pennsylvania a Microcosm of America? Tuesday's Primary Results Could Spell Big Trouble for Obama and Democrats

Are the Democrats once again ready to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? If the results of Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary are any indication, there could very well be an icy Autumn chill in the air come November for Sen. Barack Obama should he become the party's nominee for president.

In Obama, there is a very real danger that the party sends to the general election another George McGovern, who ultimately was viewed as the quintessential affluent, educated, urban North-Eastern uber-liberal who failed to connect with the working class. He lost the 1972 election to Richard Nixon in a landslide, with a 23.2 percentage points margin of victory in the popular vote, the 4th largest such margin in Presidential election history. McGovern, like Obama, aroused excitement among the youth vote, and ran an effective grass-roots campaign that won him the nomination. But from there he imploded, winning just one state, Massachusetts, in the general election. Many Democrats are starting to worry that Obama, against the GOP's presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain, who is perceived as a moderate independent, may face a similar fate.

And it is precisely McGovern's debacle that gave rise to the party's super-delegate system, a supposed fail-safe against sending another weak candidate to the general election even though voters may have fallen in love with him. It's naive and a mistake to think the Super D's will merely look at the current "math" in the Obama/Clinton race. Call me crazy, but I suspect as we draw closer to the convention, these party officials are going to focus more on true electability than anything else.

In Tuesday's Pennsylvania contest, Sen. Hillary Clinton won by a decisive 10% margin (ok, 9.4%, but I'm not gonna split hairs with the Obama-cans about .06%). So with an eye on November, is the Keystone State a microcosm of the rest of the U.S.? The answer is pretty scary if you (a) look at the type of voters Clinton won, and (b) believe Obama will ultimately be the Democratic nominee. Consider the following:

-Clinton won women 59-41
-Clinton won whites 63-37
-Clinton won white men 57-43
-Clinton won white women 68-32
-Clinton won age 45+ 59-41
-Clinton won moderates 60-40
-Clinton won conservatives 53-47
-Clinton won white Protestants 59-41
-Clinton won Catholics 70-30
-Clinton won Jews 62-38
-Clinton won those who attend weekly religious services 59-41
-Clinton won suburbs 59-41
-Clinton won small town/rural 63-37
-Clinton won gun owners 63-37
-Clinton won union households 59-41
-Clinton won voters who decided in last 3 days 59-41

And who did Obama win?:

-men 51-49
-blacks 90-10
-under age 45 55-45
-atheists/no religion 62-38
-never attend religious services 55-45
-cities/urban 60-40

And among liberals they tied at 50.

It's hard to analyze the above numbers and not hear the words "President McCain" if Obama's the nominee. Like McGovern, Obama cannot and will not win by merely snagging the black, affluent, educated, urban, atheist, and youth votes. Do you remember those loathsome Birkenstock-wearing, granola-crunching, Volvo-driving fill-in-the blank stereotype ads in 2004 against Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry? Imagine them mixed with clips of the Rev. Wright; BitterGate's guns and God blunder; Obama's lack of experience; the patriotism "question;" the flag-pin issue; Michelle's "pride;" etc. It's not a pretty picture.

Should we start saying, as Pennsylvania goes, so goes the country? The fact is, no Democrat has won the presidency without winning Pennsylvania since 1948. And no candidate has won the Democratic nomination without winning Pennsylvania since 1972. And with good reason. Voters in key battleground states like Pennsylvania and also Ohio mirror those voters across America; the white working class Democratic base that is a must-win for any candidate seeking not just the party's nomination, but the bigger prize in November. These voters, many of whom also comprise the so-called Reagan Democrats that swung not just to Reagan in the 80's but also President George Bush in two elections, are exactly the type of voter who is currently rejecting Obama.

It's astounding to me that we're actually worrying about the Democrats' chances in November to actually win this thing. The country is mired in war, the economy is in recession and gas prices are $4/gallon. For Pete's sake, this should be a friggin' cakewalk. But once again, Democrats just can't help themselves. Once again ready to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Despicable Repug Attack Ads on Obama Have Begun, Making Clinton's "Dirty Politics" Seem Like Child's Play

They call themselves ExposeObama.com, and they've just released their new ad, produced by Floyd Brown, the creator of the infamous 1988 "Willie Horton" ad that sunk Michael Dukakis' Democratic presidential bid. It's a shameful, reprehensible, race-baiting attack-ad shown in North Carolina that describes the murders of young people killed in Chicago gang violence and concludes by stating that Sen. Barack Obama, while an Illinois State Senator, voted against the death penalty for gang members convicted of murder. It's quite chilling in its intentions.

Another ad released this week is produced by the North Carolina Republican Party. In it, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is featured in controversial sermon clips that of course include his incendiary "God Damn America" speech. The ad opposes the two Democratic candidates for Governor, Bev Purdue and Richard Moore, who've endorsed Obama. Hence, don't vote for them because they support Obama, the supporter of hate. It's a shockingly racist ad and is but a frightening foreshadowing of what's to come for Obama should he become his party's nominee.

Wow. That's what the panel of pundits had to say on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews Wednesday, predicting that these are the sort of ruthless racist attacks that Obama faces, which, by comparison, make Sen. Hillary Clinton's questionable negative campaigning appear like kids' stuff.

Even more infuriating was Sen. John McCain's disingenuous attempt to have the N. Carolina GOP pull the ad, which they refused to do, saying it was a local matter. By coming out publicly against these vile ads McCain gets to have it both ways. He appears above the fray, while the cable news outlets run the now-controversial ad free, ad nauseum (pun intended). Oh sure, McCain is just oozing with integrity. And that's how this shrewd politico will portray himself throughout the general election...while surrogates, local parties, Limbaugh and Hannity and 527's do his REPUGnant dirty work.

It's Time for the Obama Camp (and the NY Times) to Stop Whining and Start Winning

As many had expected, Sen. Hillary Clinton won a decisive victory in yesterday's Democratic Pennsylvania primary against the presumed frontrunner Sen. Barack Obama. Yet while basically every single prominent talking head on CNN and MSNBC acknowledged the significance of this win, the Obama camp, and the NY Times in a blistering editorial Wednesday, have trashed Clinton and reduced Tuesday's results as anything but. It's time to face facts here. And the simple fact is, she is winning and he is not. Obama's popularity clearly peaked win February winning streak. Since then, it's been all Hillary.

To be sure, a Democrat cannot string together consecutive wins in California, NJ, NY, Massachusetts, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania without being taken seriously as an extremely viable candidate. And get this: you can be sure that at some point very soon voters in both Michigan and Florida--two big states sure to rally behind Clinton--will have their voices counted as well. Anyone who thinks the Democratic Party is going to nominate a candidate and send them into a general election after disenfranchising voters in two key states is terribly mistaken.

Make no mistake: Obama is a fine man, a brilliant thinker, and would likely make for a great president. But he's one lousy candidate. He can blame no one but himself and his handlers for failing to close the deal with voters. For failing to use his huge 10-state win on Feb 5th to build successful momentum in his campaign against Clinton. For failing to truly unite Democrats; he simply cannot, despite pouring buckets of money and time into the race, appeal to working class white voters who comprise most of the Democrats' historical base.

Let's look at Pennsylvania for a moment. She won by an impressive 10% margin, which is what every pundit said she needed in order to prove her viability going forward. Sure, the Obama camp is discounting that by saying the lead "was 20%" a couple of months ago, but by that same analogy then, Obama's popularity peaked months ago as well. Can't have it both ways, Obama-cans. If we're gonna judge Hillary today against the backdrop of her past "highs," then looking at how Obama's fallen to Earth lately, we should stop the race now and give her the nomination. Regarding the popular vote, she cut her deficit by almost a third. Not much movement, however, with delegates; she picked up about 35. Overall, Obama outspent her 3-1, invested an incredible amount of time canvassing all over the state to huge crowds, and was and continues to be the media's darling. He had it all going for him, but still could not nail it.

There's still plenty of election left, and plenty of time for either candidate to decisively pull ahead. The remaining Democratic contests are primaries in North Carolina, Indiana, Oregon, Kentucky, West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota and Puerto Rico, and caucuses in Guam. In two weeks we'll have Indiana, where Clinton is up about 2% according to RealClearPolitics.com's average, and North Carolina, with is large black vote, showing a huge 15% lead for Obama. If Clinton can pull off another impressive win in Indiana--where she has the key support of the highly respected Sen. Evan Bayh--her obvious momentum continues. With regard to Obama's inability to crossover, less significant will be his expected win in North Carolina. Looking down the popular vote road, according to analysis Tuesday evening from MSNBC, Clinton stands to net about 100,000 votes in Kentucky and 80,000 in Kentucky. Throw in another 300,000 when Florida is factored in. In North Carolina, rumor has it Elizabeth Edwards is going to campaign for and with Clinton. If true, who knows what effect that could have on the election. But the conventional wisdom says she'll have a net loss there of about 150,000 votes. After these contests, she'd have just about caught up to Obama. There's also the current corruption scandal in Puerto Rico involving Gov. Anibal Acevedo, a Democratic super-delegate who has pledged support to Obama. The commonwealth could see its 63 delegates go to Clinton as a result. Voters there typically follow the Governor's lead, but his indictment could change all that.

Look, if Clinton wins the nomination, she will not only capture the base--white working class women, seniors and Hispanics--but she will very likely win much of the black vote as well. They simply will not vote for the GOP's presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain. She may not get Obama's youth vote, but guess what? The youth vote never matters for anything. They never vote. Every candidate in recent memory has won without them. That leaves the affluent and educated, not exactly a huge constituency when it's time to close the curtain in November. Hillary can easily win without them. It's highly questionable whether Obama will get the white working class vote. But he cannot, and will not, win without them.

It's no longer just about "math," as the Obama camp would like to portray the race. Clinton has a very compelling narrative to offer the Super D's: she's winning. But despite the fact that a record number of voters turned out Tuesday to give Clinton a decisive 10% win, the NY Times, in it's editorial Wednesday, essentially crucified Clinton for running a "vacuous, desperate, mean, pandering" campaign. It claims she "did not get the big win in Pennsylvania." That she "squandered a 20-point lead." That her ads are "right from Karl Rove's playbook." That she "turns off voters." And that it's "time for the Super D's to do what the Democrats had in mind when they created super-delegates." The irony is that this scathing attack appears on the very same day that its lead front-page story headlines with "Clinton Clearly Outduels Obama in Pennsylvania...With Victory, She Has Rationale to Fight on." Little bit of schizophrenia going on at the Times, no?

I say to the Times, the Obama camp and anyone else who desperately continues to call for Clinton's premature exit...stop whining and start winning. Nothing shuts up an opponent like success.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thoughts on Pennsylvania, Clinton and Obama from a "Realisticrat"

Ok, so I'm going out on a limb here. I am a Hillary Clinton supporter, but as I've stated in the past, not by much. I support Clinton because I belong to that little-known political party: Realisticrats. Realisticrats never fall in love with a candidate. We fall in love with winning. We start at the end--the actual election--and work our way backwards from there in choosing the candidate who has the best chance at victory. I don't rally around anyone unless they look, smell and act like a winner. I belong to no "team." A reporter once jabbed basketball legend Michael Jordon about his his ego and style of play with "Hey Michael, there's no "I" in team"....His Airness responded with the brilliant, "that's right, but there is in 'win'." It's all about winning. And while I actually prefer to see Sen. Barack Obama become our 44th president, and think he would be much better for the country at this critical military, economic and social crossroads, I firmly believe Clinton is the more electable candidate against the GOP's presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain and the Ruthless Republican Attack Machine (RRAM).

Obama, in order to achieve the historic presidential greatness that might one day be his destiny, needs to first get past the supreme ugliness that he faces with the RRAM. And I am as confident as a caterpillar at a toe-countin' contest that McCain & Company will eat him alive in the general election. He has unfortunately armed the RRAM with way too much ammunition involving his Rev. Wright, Tony Rezko, William Ayers, flag pin, BitterGate and Michelle's "pride" controversies. Throw in the inescapable fact that he's a 46-year-young black man with a Muslim name, a drug past and just three years experience in the Senate and the picture deeply worsens. Now before I continue, don't shoot the messenger. I personally don't care about any of this nonsense, but you can bet your ass the RRAM is salivating as we speak. If you believe otherwise, you are beyond naive. I've taken a lot of heat over the past several months over this position. But I am not in the politically-correct business. Remember, I'm a Realisticrat. My only goal is to win.

That brings us to Clinton, who is way too untrustworthy, untruthful and disingenuous to way too many people, including this writer. But the simple truth is, people expect such duplicity from politicians, and especially from the Clintons. There's nothing new on this front. With the Clintons, it's the same old same old. The skeletons are already out of the closet, and have been under the RRAM microscope since '92. Unlike with Obama, her news is old news. But more important, Hillary has the Ruthless Clinton Attack Machine (RCAM) behind her, consisting of Howard Wolfson, James Carville and many other battle-tested warriors who know how to fight the RRAM and win. I'll put my money on them any day of the week.

Now again, don't shoot the messenger. I didn't make up the rules of engagement. That landscape was cultivated chiefly by Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove, disciples of 1980's "Happy Hatchet Man" and original "Darth Vader" Lee Atwater, the incendiary Republican operative and brains behind the '88 Willie Horton ad campaign that sank Michael Dukakis' bid for the presidency. Starting in the 80's, and shifting into full gear against Bill Clinton in the 90's and then into massive overdrive against Al Gore and John Kerry in 2000 and 2004 respectively, the RRAM masterfully perfected the art of dirty politics, and that's the playing field Democrats must navigate through now. While it may be possible many years from now to return to the good old "gentlemanly" days of politics that I keep hearing about but have never personally experienced, right now, a Democrat must fight like a Republican if he or she expects to win. Hillary meets that standard. Obama has proven that he does not.

Now onto Pennsylvania, where, as a Realisticrat, I believe Clinton must achieve a clear, decisive victory in Tuesday's primary or she should quit the race and let the general contest begin. PA is the big prize. The hugely working-class state is representative of middle-America and the traditional Democratic base. Without a resounding victory over Obama, you can stick a fork in her, and rightly so. There'll no be no logical, rational basis for her to continue other than an insatiable hunger for power and attention. At that time, as a Realisticrat, I will call for her withdrawl more loudly than anyone. But if she can pull of a double-digit win (or something very close), it'll make it very hard to convince me or any sane Dem that the race is over. What she'll have is a string of critical big-Blue state wins (OH, TX, PA), impressive momentum, and a bruised and battered opponent who, as the NY Times columnist David Brooks said last week, has fallen to Earth. Indeed, a very compelling narrative for her to offer up to super-delegates, who could very well swing to her corner quick as lightning.

Ronald Reagan rode to victory on the wings of one simple question: "Are you better off now than you were four years ago." With a big win in PA, Clinton's question to the Super D's will surely be, "Are you better off with me or Obama against McCain and the Ruthless Republican Attack Machine." This Realisticrat already knows the answer....

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Both Clinton and Obama Missed a Grand Slam Opportunity at Debate

Say what you will about the lackluster performance of both Democratic candidates at Wednesday night's presidential debate in Philadelphia. But the performance of ABC News, the event's host, and its moderators George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson, was an even greater embarrassment. Staphanopoulos relished stooping to the lowest common denominator in showcasing the candidates' most insignificant campaign hurdles, while his partner in crime, Gibson, with his glasses dangling off his nose like a sanctimonious Geppetto, followed up his pompous U.S. Constitution quotes with National Enquirer-like drivel. The initial half of the debate focused on "BosniaGate," "BitterGate," Rev. Wright, The Weather Underground, flag pins, tigers and bears, oh my.....

But ponder this for a moment. Amid this pathetic yellow journalism circus, what if one of the candidates, in a Howard Beale "I'm mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore" moment, had turned to the moderators and said:

"Charlie, George, with all due respect to you and ABC News, this line of questioning is both a colossal waste of time and not only an insult to me and (the other candidate), but especially to the American people. Are these truly the best, most relevant, most important questions you could be asking us at this critical moment? Our nation is mired in a horrible war, where 4000 of our brave soldiers have been killed, and where a half-trillion dollars has been spent. After 45 minutes you have yet to ask us about this war and its impact on the American people. Shame on you. We are fighting a war against terrorists in Afghanistan, and watching al Qaeda and the Taliban get stronger there while Bush and the Republicans have squandered our precious military and financial resources in Iraq. Not one question about this so far. Shame on you. Our economy is teetering on recession, with stagnant wages, anemic employment, record debt, rising inflation, $4 gas prices, astronomical home fuel costs, record mortgage foreclosures...Americans are being strangled, struggling to put food on their tables and make ends meet...and you spent the past 45 minutes on BosnniaGate and Bittergate? Shame on you. 47-million Americans are without health care. Our education system is bankrupt. And half of this debate has gone by with not one single question about any of these major issues. Shame on you. This event is an affront to every hard working American who's struggling to survive. Voters don't care about this nonsense. They want jobs, higher wages, adequate health care, proper education for their children, lower gas prices, affordable housing, safety and security from terrorists, and an end to the carnage in Iraq. Unless we can begin discussing those issues, I will be forced to leave the stage... and will invite my fellow candidate to join me....."

Just imagine that moment for a second. Had one of the two Dems made this statement, rather than meakly allow themselves to be subjected to 45 minutes of sensational, ad hominem bullshit, they would've scored a political grand slam, and their poll numbers would've gone through the friggin' roof. ABC, Stephanopoulos and Gibson would've deserved every second of it. And voters at home would've finally gotten to see what at least one of them was truly made of.

On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We are a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my wife's honor to help carry out her spirit and passion, with the goal of assisting women filmmakers. Adrienne was brutally killed in NYC on November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; the Independent Feature Project; the Nantucket Film Festival; and the Sundance Institute. We're very pleased to announce that one of last year's grant recipients, Cynthia Wade, just won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject for "Freeheld." We are proud of Cynthia and to have supported this film. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us continue to achieve our very important mission.
Thank you.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Are the Democrats Imploding? Can Al Gore be Far Behind?

Back in late 2006 I began predicting, incorrectly, that the Democratic nominee for president would be Al Gore. That 2008 would present him--an ambitious politician who's been dreaming of the presidency for 30 years--the best opportunity to come around in years. I suggested, correctly, that the economy would be ravaged, and that the Iraq war would still be raging, both crisis affording Gore a golden entree into the White House. For some strange reason (self-preservation? cowardice?), he elected not to join the race. So then I predicted, incorrectly, that he'd simply wait it out; wait for Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to cancel each other out and then leapfrog over the carnage and become the party's frontrunner. In fact, I think if I had a penny for every time I mentioned the term "cancel each other out" with reference to Obama and Clinton, well, I'd have many pennies. And here we are, in April 2008, just seven months from the general election, and Clinton and Obama have in fact cancelled each other out. Neither has been able to unify voters around them. Neither has presented enough of a compelling message that resonates with a majority of the party. Neither will obtain the minimum number of delegates to win the nomination. In short, they have both failed, and failed miserably. The scenario I had laid out for a Gore candidacy has indeed arisen, yet a Gore candidacy is, to-date, but a passing fantasy. Or is it?

I'm not normally a David Brooks fan, but I think the conservative nailed it Friday with his NY Times op-ed "How Obama Fell to Earth." Commenting on this week's Democratic debate, and Obama's campaign in general, Brooks wrote:

"He sprinkled his debate performance Wednesday night with the sorts of fibs, evasions and hypocrisies that are the stuff of conventional politics. He claimed falsely that his handwriting wasn’t on a questionnaire about gun control. He claimed that he had never attacked Clinton for her exaggerations about the Tuzla airport, though his campaign was all over it. Obama piously condemned the practice of lifting other candidates’ words out of context, but he has been doing exactly the same thing to John McCain, especially over his 100 years in Iraq comment....He’ll win the nomination, but in a matchup against John McCain, he is behind in Florida, Missouri and Ohio, and merely tied in must-win states like Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A generic Democrat now beats a generic Republican by 13 points, but Obama is trailing his own party. One in five Democrats say they would vote for McCain over Obama."

It should be noted that Brooks is no fan of Clinton either, and just a few weeks ago predicted she has but a 5% chance of winning.

Adding to the Democrats' woes, liberal columnist Bob Herbert wrote in Saturday's NY Times:

"The Democrats are doing everything they can to blow this presidential election. This is a skill that comes naturally to the party. There is no such thing as a can’t-miss year for the Democrats. They are truly gifted at finding ways to lose. So what are the Democrats doing? The Clintons are running around with flamethrowers, gleefully trying to incinerate the prospects of the party’s leading candidate, Barack Obama....Senator Obama, for his part, seems to have lost sight of the unifying message that proved so compelling early in his campaign and has stumbled into weird cultural predicaments that have caused some people to rethink his candidacy....Voters want more from Senator Obama. He’s given a series of wonderful speeches, but he has to add more meat to those rhetorical bones. He needs to be clear about where he wants to lead this country and how he plans to do it. That’s how a candidate defines himself or herself. Instead, Mr. Obama is allowing the Clintons and the news media to craft a damaging persona of him as some kind of weak-kneed brother from another planet, out of touch with mainstream America, and perhaps a loser."

He's got that right. At this point, both Obama and Clinton look like sure losers. And what a shame that is, as this year should've, and could've, been a cakewalk for the Dems. But also as I've been saying all along, the party and its ineffectual candidates have this nasty habit of tripping over themselves. And if they are defeated in November, it'll rank with the 2007 NY Mets' collapse as one of the biggest chokes--and heartbreaks--of all time.

To be sure, if Obama does lose, it will not be, as his supporters claim, because Hillary "did him in." That her relentless attacks brought him down. If that's the case, and his campaign was so weak and unable to withstand her wrath, then he deserves to lose. If he was a strong enough candidate...if he was able to connect with women, seniors, Hispanics and the white working class...if he was able to debate as effectively as he can deliver an inspirational speech to 20,000...if he didn't get stuck in the muck surrounding his controversial relationships with Rev. Wright, Tony Rezko, and Bill Ayers...if, as Herbert (a big Obama supporter, btw) writes, he had been able to add "more meat to those rhetorical bones"...perhaps he'd be victorious.

And should Hillary lose, it will not be because she was "ganged up on" by the media or because she's a woman or because she's a Clinton or because of Michigan or Florida's delegate controversies. It'll be because she's a hardened, shrill, calculating operative who is viewed by way too many Dems as untruthful, untrustworthy and disingenuous. Both Obama and Clinton are, simply put, lousy candidates. They have no one to blame but themselves.

But it's not too late for the Democrats. There is one solution out of this campaign catastrophe. And his name is Al Gore. He is the party's big hope. A deal needs to be struck immediately with Clinton and Obama, by DNC chair Howard Dean and other party leaders, as well as Gore himself, to send the campaign to the Denver convention in August where, on a second ballot, Gore can head the ticket. He'll make Obama his VP, give the State Department to Clinton, and the three of them will spend the next 2 1/2 months unifying the party and trouncing the GOP's presumptive dinosaur, Sen. John McCain. And if somehow this deal can be brokered sooner, even better.

While I have not thrown in the proverbial towel just yet, I am growing increasingly skeptical that either of the Dem's current two losers can somehow deliver a victory in November. They are both abysmal candidates, unable to cross over and appeal to the others' constituencies. To be sure, voters are fed up with Republicans, and want more Democratic leadership/control in Washington, and as such, they'll give the left an even greater majority in the House and Senate. But they'll give the White House to McCain--the "moderate"--to balance the power. Sadly, Democrats have given voters zero reason to do otherwise. Al Gore, are you listening?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Iraqi Soldiers Bail on Baghdad. Must be More of that Bushevik "Success" We Keep Hearing About

An Iraqi military unit battling Shite militias in Sadr City abandoned its position Tuesday, throwing into question just how far, or not, the United States has come in reaching its goal (not the original goal, mind you, but something like Goal #5) of having a Democratic Iraqi government and military able to secure itself against rebel militias. According to the NY Times, the soldiers' retreat left a critical roadway on the front line undefended for hours, and resulted in several heated exchanges between American soldiers and the roughly 50 Iraqi troops involved in the fleeing.

"If you turn around and go back up the street those soldiers will follow you," said Captain Logan Veath, a company commander in the 25th Infantry Division, to the Iraqi commander. "If you tuck tail and cowardly run away they will follow up that way, too." But the unit left anyway, leaving senior American and Iraqi commanders scrambling to regain lost ground with a replacement unit alongside the American troops.

If this is a foreshadowing of things to come, then we are colossally fucked, people. Is this Bush's idea of the Iraqi army "standing up"? And should this sort of episode continue to occur, will America ever be able to "stand down," as the president, vice president and GOP presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain keep promising? Highly doubtful. At this rate, McCain's other implication, that we'll be hemmoraging in that war-ravaged country for the next 100 years, is the more likely scenario.

Let's face it, Iraqi soldiers throwing in the towel is definitely not a good sign, no matter how you spin it. It shows the fear and frustration they have in waging this mess of a war that's now in its sixth year. It also shows a lack of desire and commitment. And it raises the possibility that these people just don't want what we want. Five years later, the government is not a functioning Democracy in any sense of the word. The Iraqi military is not able to stand up and defend the country. Simply put, on the political front, there is little or no progress. And militarily, as we are constantly reminded by the Busheviks and McCain, without our soldiers there the country would fall into 'anarchy and genocide' (which some rational folks think is exactly what's been there for years now).

Bush and Cheney have us on a death spiral that's not getting any better. Five years, 4000 dead soldiers and $500 billion spent and what do we have to show for it? Fleeing Iraqi soldiers. We are constantly told there's tremendous success being made, but we're still mired in sectarian violence and Iraqi troop failures. The Bushevik contradictions are astounding. They have no clear mission, and no clear end in sight. They say we can leave when we've achieved success and finished the mission, yet every time they point to this great progress and success they declare that troops can't come home and may in fact need to be there longer than expected. It's a smoke and mirrors show worthy of the best American carnival.

Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential hopefuls, need to start ratcheting up their rhetoric about this disaster of a war. They need to pound the Busheviks hard for getting us into this mess. They need to shine a light on McCain's incessant war-mongering and supreme delusion that we're actually accomplishing something over there. The only thing we're accomplishing is a reprise of Vietnam, where we're gonna kill tens of thousands of our soldiers, and then, when we're finally fed up, we'll throw in the towel. And just like Vietnam, the Iraq war will go down in history as an utter failure; a vanity project of delusional U.S. presidents. The key question here is, how much are Obama and Clinton willing to do, and how quickly, to stanch the bloodshed and put an end to this debacle?

On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We are a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my wife's honor to help carry out her spirit and passion, with the goal of assisting women filmmakers. Adrienne was brutally killed in NYC on November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; the Independent Feature Project; the Nantucket Film Festival; and the Sundance Institute. We're very pleased to announce that one of last year's grant recipients, Cynthia Wade, just won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject for "Freeheld." We are proud of Cynthia and to have supported this film. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us continue to achieve our very important mission.
Thank you.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Obama's "Bitter" Remark Draws Duplicitous Attacks by McCain and Clinton. Democratic Frontrunner Hits Back Hard

A week ago Sen. Barack Obama, the front runner in the Democrats' bid for the White House, spoke at a closed-door fundraiser in San Francisco. When someone in the crowd of this elite group of supporters asked why he was not polling higher in the upcoming Pennsylvania primary, the junior Senator from Illinois offered up this theory:

"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them...And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not...And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

As word spread of his comments, the campaigns of both Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, began to condemn and criticize, charging Obama with elitism and for being out of touch with middle America. Even Hillary herself piled on, saying Obama's comments were "not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans....Americans who believe in the Second Amendment believe it’s a constitutional right. Americans who believe in God believe it’s a matter of personal faith."" Nice. Now she's for guns and God?

She continued: "It’s being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter; well, that’s not my experience. Pennsylvanians don’t need a president who looks down on them; they need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them, who works hard for your futures, your jobs, your families." Could she possibly be anymore sanctimonious than that?

And from the McCain camp: "It shows an elitism and condescension toward hard-working Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking," said Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser. "It is hard to imagine someone running for president who is more out of touch with average Americans."

Now I'm all for playing rough. Politics is a dirty business. But these attacks are outrageously irresponsible, reprehensible and offensive. Both Clinton and the McCainiacs know exactly what Obama was referring to when saying the nation's poor and middle classes were bitter. And why shouldn't they be? Starting with Ronald Reagan in the 80's, their values were co-opted and their loyalties misused and abused, and they were routinely directed towards hot-button issues like abortion, gay marriage and gun control. These Reagan Democrats, by the time George Bush and Karl Rove got through with them, felt duped, dirty and betrayed. And now they're still without proper health care, jobs, quality education for their kids, and are mired in a housing crisis. You're damned right they're bitter, and they ought to be. They were mercilessly used and abused. And that's what Obama was talking about.

An elitist? Out of touch? Give me a break. Obama and his wife have not been in the Washington power seat for the past 16 years like the Clintons. Nor have they made $109 million since 2000. And for Pete's sake, who is more elitist, more out of touch, than the crusty old Republican relic McCain? Shame on these two combatants for stooping to the lowest common denominator in attacking a rival.

Thankfully, and quite impressively, Obama shot back hard Friday evening:

“Here’s what’s rich. Senator Clinton said, ‘Well I don’t think people are bitter in Pennsylvania. I think Barack is being condescending.’ John McCain said, ‘How could he say that? How could he say that people are bitter? He obviously is out of touch with people.’ Out of touch? Out of touch? John McCain — it took him three times to finally figure out that home foreclosure was a problem and to come up with a plan for it, and he’s saying I’m out of touch?"

Let's hope this sort of animated smackdown is a foreshadowing of how Obama might very well stand up to the vicious Republican attack machine should he eventually win the nomination and go into battle against McBush for the presidency.

On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We are a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my wife's honor to help carry out her spirit and passion, with the goal of assisting women filmmakers. Adrienne was brutally killed in NYC on November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; the Independent Feature Project; the Nantucket Film Festival; and the Sundance Institute. We're very pleased to announce that one of last year's grant recipients, Cynthia Wade, just won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject for "Freeheld." We are proud of Cynthia and to have supported this film. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us continue to achieve our very important mission.
Thank you.

Friday, April 11, 2008

War-Monger-in-Chief Delivers "Lies & Delusion" Speech

In March 2003 the United States invaded Iraq, a sovereign nation, justified by the purported "fact" that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was conspiring with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to kill Americans. Not one shred of evidence was found to prove either claim. Since then, over 4000 troops have been killed, tens of thousands maimed or wounded, and $500 billion wasted. We don't even know how many innocent Iraqis have been killed or wounded. Last Summer, the United States sent an additional 30,000 soldiers--the infamous "troop surge"--with the goal of slowing the sectarian violence in and around Baghdad and Al Anbar Province, creating a secure environment that would lead to fundamental political change in the war-ravaged country. While the violence has indeed lessened, we now know, given the recent outbreak of Shite government and Shite militia bloodshed, that the slowdown was more due to the 6-month truce (which recently fell apart) negotiated with Moktada al Sadr, head of the Mahdi militia, than it is the troop surge. And as far as any political progress, fugeddaboudit. But the obvious facts on the ground still have not prevented President Bush from taking to the podium for yet another in a seemingly never-ending series of "Lies & Delusion" speeches.

"Fifteen months ago, Americans were worried about the prospect of failure in Iraq," The Decider told a small White House group Thursday, attempting to bolster support for the war. "Today, thanks to the surge, we’ve renewed and revived the prospect of success."

Bush has a very strange definition of success: failure. Accomplish nothing you set out to accomplish, and, voila, you have success!

Bush reiterated his commitment--and his endorsement of Gen. Petraeus's position--to keeping the troops in Iraq as long as it will take to complete the mission, whatever the hell that is. What's more, the Great Conflator continued his deceptive rhetoric about al Qaeda and Iran.

"Iraq is the convergence point for two of the greatest threats to America in this new century: Al Qaeda and Iran...If we fail there, Al Qaeda would claim a propaganda victory of colossal proportions, and they could gain safe havens in Iraq from which to attack the United States, our friends and our allies...Iran would work to fill the vacuum in Iraq, and our failure would embolden its radical leaders and fuel their ambitions to dominate the region."

Propaganda? Is he fucking kidding? This is absolutely infuriating. No one has been more guilty of perpetrating a relentless, reckless and shameless propaganda campaign than Bush and his partner in crime, Dr. Evil himself, VP Dick Cheney. No one has terrorized the American people more than the Busheviks. Al Qaeda? Is the media going to give this dangerous fool yet another free pass to morph the terrorist group who attacked us on 9-11 into the Shite militias responsible for almost all of the violence in Iraq?

And then came The Threat. The same type of irresponsible cowboy shit we've sadly come to know all too well from the worst president in history:

"If Iran makes the right choice, America will encourage a peaceful relationship between Iran and Iraq...Iran makes the wrong choice, America will act to protect our interests and our troops and our Iraqi partners."

Gee, where have we heard this smoke and mirrors act before? What makes Bush so supremely arrogant is his utter disregard for history, and the fact that he's been 1000% wrong on every single aspect of his Iraq policy before, during and after the invasion. That he believes he can come before the cameras yet again and regurgitate another crock of shit, this time about Iran, spewing the exact same incendiary rhetoric as we heard about Iraq in '02 and '03, is a colossal insult to the intelligence of every single American.

So what are we gonna do about it this time? That some Democrats say they will vote for Sen. John McCain, the GOP's presumptive nominee, is monumentally distressing. The only thing McBush is gonna do is perpetuate this disastrous, meaningless, military debacle that has no clear objective and no end in sight. And if we elect this dangerous, out-of-touch war-monger, then we deserve everything we get.

On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We are a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my wife's honor to help carry out her spirit and passion, with the goal of assisting women filmmakers. Adrienne was brutally killed in NYC on November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; the Independent Feature Project; the Nantucket Film Festival; and the Sundance Institute. We're very pleased to announce that one of last year's grant recipients, Cynthia Wade, just won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject for "Freeheld." We are proud of Cynthia and to have supported this film. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us continue to achieve our very important mission.
Thank you.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

McCain Looks Feeble at Iraq Hearing

Heaven help us if Sen. John McCain becomes the 44th president of the United States. At Tuesday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Iraq War, the crusty old war-monger looked downright scary: hands shaking, voice listless, and once again confusing al Qaeda with Shia Muslims. This guy paints himself as the time-tested, highly experienced commander-in-chief, but watching him and listening to his constant conflations of Iraq, Iran, al Qaeda and extremists, you can't help but wonder if he's just too old and feeble for the job. He often seems to not have a clue who the enemy is or who we're actually fighting, so how on Earth can he lead us to "victory," whatever the hell that is.

Let's hope that the presidential debates will present Democrats with a tremendous selling/marketing opportunity. That the contrast between McCain and either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton will be painfully obvious. On one side will be a stiff, ancient-looking dinosaur. And on the other, perhaps the charismatic young candidate for a new generation.

The Truth About John McCain

This comes to us from our good pal Janet in Manhattan...

1. John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has "evolved,"
yet he's continued to oppose key civil rights laws.

2. According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on
Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain
"will make Cheney look like Gandhi."

3. His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain
voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President
Bush for vetoing that ban.

4. McCain opposes a woman's right to choose. He said, "I do not support
Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned."

5. The Children's Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in
Congress for children. He voted against the children's health care bill
last year, then defended Bush's veto of the bill.

6. He's one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires.
The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes!
Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing
foreclosure to get a "second job" and skip their

7. Many of McCain's fellow Republican senators say he's too reckless to
be commander in chief. One Republican senator said: "The thought of his
being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He's erratic.
He's hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."

8. McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his
campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government
watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money
for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.

9. McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in
recent years. The pastor McCain calls his "spiritual guide," Rod
Parsley, believes America's founding mission is to destroy Islam, which
he calls a "false religion." McCain sought the political support of
right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God's
punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church "the
Antichrist" and a "false cult."

10. He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0 (yes,
zero)from the League of Conservation Voters last year.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Bill Kristol Gives a Glimpse Into the Repubs' Strategy for November

Make no mistake: heading towards the general election in November, the Republican Party smells intense fear, and that fear will manifest itself into the dirtiest, ugliest, most divisive presidential election campaign in American history. The GOP's coming off of eight miserable, economically ravished, war-torn, scandal-plagued years of Bush/Cheney. Given the likelihood that Sen. Barack Obama--with his message of inspiration, hope and change--will eventually prevail in his protracted primary battle with Sen. Hillary Clinton, the reality is settling in that the junior Senator from Illinois could be the next occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania. Just ask neocon pundit William Kristol.

In his op-ed piece in Monday's NY Times, the rabid right-winger confides that in private meetings with leading conservatives there's a growing belief that Obama's gonna beat their presumptive nominee, Sen. John McCain. And he suggests that, at least in some Repug circles, the smear campaigns are already being developed. Kristol writes: Last week over drinks, one Republican strategist not affiliated with the McCain campaign mused about how an independent advertising effort against Obama might work. "Barack Obama: He's not who you think he is" would be the theme. The supporting evidence would come from his left-wing voting record in Illinois and Washington, spiced up with fun video clips of Rev. Wright.

"Fun clips of Rev Wright?" You bet your ass they're gonna run like mad with this stuff. I've been saying that for weeks now. Remember how they vilified John Kerry over his windsurfing photo? Can you imagine what these vicious thugs are going to do with those "God Damn America" clips from the Reverend? Obama's not gonna know what hit him.

Kristol goes on to quote a Democratic operative: "Finally I think McCain's going to win. Obama isn't growing in stature. Once I thought he could be Jimmy Carter, but now he reminds me more of Michael Dukakis with the flag lapel thing and defending Rev. Wright. Plus he doesn't have a clue how to talk to the middle class..." And that's a Democrat speaking.

So there you have it: Obama's an unpatriotic, raging liberal elitist whose preacher hates America. And we haven't even thrown in his past drug use; his wife's comments about America; or his "terrifying" middle name or "Muslim heritage." Just wait. This party's only getting started. If Kristol is right about one thing, it's that the Republican attack machine is quite busy greasing its venomous gears as we speak. The question for Democrats is this: Can Obama face down this onslaught and come out victorious?

On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We are a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my wife's honor to help carry out her spirit and passion, with the goal of assisting women filmmakers. Adrienne was brutally killed in NYC on November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; the Independent Feature Project; the Nantucket Film Festival; and the Sundance Institute. We're very pleased to announce that one of last year's grant recipients, Cynthia Wade, just won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject for "Freeheld." We are proud of Cynthia and to have supported this film. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us continue to achieve our very important mission.
Thank you.