Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Can Obama Really Win this Thing?

George W. Bush's legacy is clear. Come January, when the 44th president of the United States takes office, the nation will be racked by,among other things, a record half-trillion dollar budget deficit; an economy teetering on, if not in, recession; $4+/gallon gas prices; the lowest consumer confidence in 15 years; a failing, deadly war; and a resurgent terrorist stronghold in Afghanistan. Americans are broke, both in pocketbook and spirit. Over 85% of voters now think the country is headed in the wrong direction. No matter how you slice it, this should be a landslide year for Democrats. By any stretch, Sen. Barack Obama, the party's presumptive nominee, should be ahead by 15-20 points in the polls. Why then, in the latest USA Today tracking poll, is he trailing Sen. John McCain, the GOP's presumptive nominee, by four points among likely voters...a poll in which he led by five points last month? Is this a chilling foreshadowing of things to come in November?

Has the Obama campaign plateaued? Is it stuck in the mud? Out of steam? Despite the media frenzy and campaign euphoria over his much-heralded overseas trip to Europe and the Middle East last week, the polls show no bounce. In fact, as the USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll above indicates, Obama's numbers are dropping. Even more troubling for the campaign are numbers released in last week's Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. On the questions of who has more knowledge and experience, who's better equipped to be commander-in-chief, and who's the riskier choice, McCain leads by a whopping 20%-30%. And in most polls, voters say McCain is the more truthful, trustworthy candidate. Last week's trip was designed to make Obama look presidential. But as the numbers above indicate, it's going to take a lot more than a brilliantly choreographed series of photo-ops with foreign heads-of-state to convince voters that he has the chops to actually be president.

The simple truth is, John McCain is very much in this race, and depending how you look at it, he can and very well might win despite every logical reason that should point to his defeat. So what's happened? Is it merely race? That Americans are just not yet ready for a black president? For a black first family? To be sure, Obama's skin-color has and will continue to pose a major problem for him come November. The harsh reality is, America is still very much a racist country. But the overwhelming support Obama receives from blacks and young people could very well offset losses from the nation's bigots.

But how much can we blame the candidate himself for? Has he truly run an effective campaign, one that has reached out to, and whose message has resonated with, constituencies beyond blacks, the youth, the affluent and educated "Starbucks" whites? Last January, Obama came roaring out of the gate like a Triple-Crowned thoroughbred, but as the primary season wore on it became clear that, once the novelty and mystique of his historic candidacy wore off, that he could not finish off his main rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, with whom he bitterly fought to the end. That he would not capture enough delegates to win the nomination without the last-minute help from the party's elite super-delegates. Along the way there were several critical controversies including Rev. Wright, Tony Rezco, Bill Ayers, "BitterGate" and several patriotism-related gaffes by him and his wife Michelle that all served as a major distraction from the campaign.

That Obama's campaign seems flat is of no surprise to many. Of concern is the belief that with Obama there's lots of style but little real substance. His recent spate of position-changes smacks more of political expediency than the genuine convictions of the "agent of change" to whom millions have heretofore passionately thrown their support. He's disappointed many, and while they'll still surely vote for him, some of that luster, and lust, has faded. The honeymoon is over. They realize their marriage to Obama might just be like every other political union, and that's depressing given all the hope surrounding his early campaign promises.

What's been most disappointing to his supporters is that, while he gives awesome speeches, he may be proving to be little if anything more than the typical double-talking, flip-flopping, opportunistic politician as everyone else. Unfortunately, the bar has been raised much higher for him, and by him in particular. His entire campaign has been built with him being the candidate who'll transcend typical dirty politics. That he's above the fray. Running a new kind of campaign, with a new kind of message of hope and change. And that's what millions were drawn to. They were not drawn to a typical triangulating panderer who now seems to do or say whatever it takes, to whomever, to get elected even if it means supporting centrist policies that are counter to those of his supporters.

His recent flip-flopping and/or support of several hot-button issues--wiretapping/telecoms, Iraq, campaign finance, gun control, death penalty, religious-based incentives--is quite disingnuous. That he has just three years national experience doesn't help either. Nor does his boneheaded relationships with Wright, Ayers, Rezko etc., all of which show really poor judgement, and serve to give his detractors and the Sean Hannity's of the world ginormous fodder from which to attack. You'd be kidding yourself if you believe that these missteps have not had a tremendous negative impact on the independents; those still on the fence. Those voters whom he so desperately needs.

I don't quote Hannity often, but I will today: "We just don't know who this guy really is." Correction, we do: he's a really junior Senator, with no major policy accomplishments, who wants to be America's first black president. In a year where the election should be a fucking landslide for a Democratic candidate, it's incredible, and beyond frustrating, just how close the race truly is at this point. More and more indicators point to the ugly truth that America's racist dumbasses might very well rather have a curmudgeonly-old-forgetful-highly-experienced-grandfatherly-war-hero-white-guy-they-can-identify-with than a young, inexperienced black man with a Muslim name who they hear hangs out with angry black preachers, radical 60's terrorists and real-estate crooks. While many Democrats, this writer included, would still take Obama in a nano-second over McCain for many reasons, don't kid yourself that the rest of the country's gonna follow suit.

HELP ELECT BARACK OBAMA PRESIDENT: It's now time for us to pull together as Democrats and unite behind Obama and his historic candidacy. These are exciting times. I urge you to support Obama by sending the campaign whatever you can afford. In politics, money is key. There are many swing states this year--Colorado, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri among them. With a sizeable war chest for campaigning, ground teams/staff, ads, mailings, Internet/email promotions, etc, he can win these states. We are commited to helping the campaign raise as much money as possible to combat the bountiful warchest of Sen. John McCain and the GOP. Click here to make a contribution. It's time to change America.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

McCain: "It's My Surge, Dammit! I Was Right. Why Won't Anyone Show Me Some Respect!"

We all know the John McCain type. He's the petulant kid who barked "It's my ball" as he stormed off the field because he didn't get his way. He's the little bully who said his dad could beat up your dad. He's the nasty little brat who would tell on you so he could get the little pat on the head: "That's a good boy, Johnny, you did good!" And it's the same petulant little John McCain today who's practically stomping his feet and throwing a tantrum because that other kid, Barack Obama, is getting all the attention these days. The same nasty John McCain who responds to reporters' questions with "What do you want, you little jerks?" ...as he did this week aboard his "Straight Talk" plane.

It seems that McCain's been having a hissy-fit over all the invaluable press coverage Obama's been getting during his much-hyped Middle-East visit which included stops in Afghanistan, Iraq and a meeting with Gen. David Petraeus, the top military commander in Iraq. Unfortunately for McCain, while he's been seen zipping around in a golf cart with his bud George Bush Sr. looking like a couple of crusty old rich white guys, Obama's been looking, sounding and acting like a brilliant, confident, modern-day statesmen on the world stage. Looking presidential. And it's killing McCain. He so riled up that it's continuing to throw him off his game. At a public forum Tuesday he referred once again to the non-existent country of Czechoslovakia. This is the same McCain who earlier this week incorrectly referred to the Iraq/Pakistan border. The same McCain who this Spring confused Iraq's Shia and Sunnis. Who incorrectly claimed that Iran was training al Qaeda terrorists. Who's confused Somalia and Sudan. Who's referred to Russia's Vladimir Putin as "President Putin of Germany." And this is the same guy who claims that he's best qualified to be Commander-in-Chief?

McCain appeared angry and frustrated in his attacks on Obama Tuesday. On the U.S. troop surge in Iraq, the feisty little Republican presidential candidate said: "He was wrong then, he is wrong now, and he still fails to acknowledge that the surge has succeeded. Remarkable." What's truly remarkable is that McCain, over the past year, has deluded himself into thinking that it's his surge. He talks about it as if he's its sole architect and beneficiary to its supposed success. Yes, supposed success. Let's not forget that the goal of the surge was to stabilize the country so that real political change could take place. While the violence is indeed down--not gone--there's not been anywhere near the political change the Bush administration expected or promised. As for the drop in violence, it should come as a shock to no one that sending in more U.S. troops could overpower a much smaller, less equipped, less sophisticated enemy in the contained areas in and around Baghdad. But the real question remains: what happens when the extra military muscle leaves? Does the violence increase again? Is there a strong enough political structure to run the country effectively and simultaneously secure itself? In that sense, the surge has not worked. Based on the original stated purpose, regardless of McCain's relentless macho chest-thumping, the surge is not a success.

What's also remarkable is that McCain can make the outlandish statement he made Tuesday about Obama's motives: "He would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign." This is an unconscionable accusation to make during a presidential election campaign and while our nation's at war, and it further demonstrates just how low McCain and the GOP will stoop to win in November. So much for the "respectful" campaign McCain promised earlier this year.

The simple truth is, Obama was right about the war from the get-go. And based on the fact that Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his top military commanders support the Democrat's timetable for a 2010 troop withdrawal, he's still right. Obama not only understands the will of the American people when it comes to the war, but the Iraqis' as well. John McCain is simply out of touch.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Republicans Flip-Flop for McCain

The Republican campaign charade is finally drawing to an end. One by one, prominent conservatives are "coming around" to the candidacy of Sen. John McCain after excoriating him for months as nothing more than a liberal in sheep's clothing. Did anyone really doubt this would happen? Did Democrats get fooled into thinking die-hard right-wingers like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Tom DeLay and James Dobson would actually stay home on election day or, worse, vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama? Get real. That was the absolute worst demonstration of feigned objectivity in the history of American politics. The truth is, Republicans belong to a cult, unlike Democrats, who, albeit in an often disjointed, politically inexpedient manner, relish freedom of thought, dissent, and choice. And at the end of the day, the cult members follow their leader. And come election day, they will march in lockstep to the polls and robotically throw their support to the same guy who they've been saying will be a "disaster" for the party. They'll follow McCain and his partisan pipe into the death water just like The Pied Piper's rats.

To be sure, the party is coalescing around McCain, the same candidate whom they've relentlessly vilified over his positions including immigration, campaign finance and torture. But now he's their guy when it comes to taxes, the war, fighting terrorism, marriage and abortion...yada, yada, yada. The latest flip-flopper is Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family. Dobson, heretofore highly critical of McCain, appeared on Hannity's radio program last week extolling the candidate's many conservative virtues. And Hannity joined the lovefest. It was Republican hypocrisy at its finest: two of the party's most cultish figures engaged in newfound hero-worship of their devil incarnate.

And incredible hypocrisy it was/is. Dobson's 180 on McCain, he said, is because the candidate shares many views, especially those on key social issues. For example, said Dobson, Obama "has the most radical views on marriage," unlike McCain. Oh really? Last time I checked, Obama is in a happy, respectful marriage and has never been divorced. To the contrary, McCain not only divorced his first wife Carol, but he allegedly cheated on her with his current wife, Cindy, who he married at 43 when she was just 26 (McCain and Carol stopped living together in January 1980. He married Cindy five months later. You fill in the blanks). Who's the "radical?" If "protecting marriage" is truly Dobson's motive, then it should be clear which candidate he and Focus on the Family should support, right? But we all know when it comes to Republican politics it's "do as I say not as I do."

Personally, I never really got the whole "protecting marriage" mantra. It's sheer hypocritical, convoluted narrow-minded bullshit spewed by a bunch of uptight, twisted, homophobic, controlling old white men (or, as in the case of Sen. Larry Craig, closeted gays). What are these fanatics really trying to say, that only heterosexuals can enjoy a healthy, productive, successful marriage? Well, tell that to Nicole Simpson, or Laci Peterson, or Ted Ammon, or Mary Jo Buttafuoco or Hedda Nussbaum or Christie Brinkley or Suzanne Craig or Jackie Battley (Gingrich) or Marianne Ginther (Gingrich) or Hillary Clinton or any other lesser-known spouse who's been killed, beaten and/or cheated on by their "normal, heterosexual" mate. When, on a good day, 50% of all straight marriages end in divorce, just what exactly are these Republican hypocrites protecting? Perhaps it's time to let gays get a legitimate, legal crack at this sacred institution. They can't do any worse.

As for McCain and his flip-floppin' Republican detractors, you can be sure he'll continue to capture more of their support, passion and votes as election day nears. Because that's what Republicans do. It's what cult members do. They do what they're told. And what they're very effectively being told right now by their elected leaders, their TV and radio hosts, and by their religious and spiritual leaders is that Obama's the new devil in DC, and McCain, well, he ain't so bad after all.

HELP ELECT BARACK OBAMA PRESIDENT: It's now time for us to pull together as Democrats and unite behind Obama and his historic candidacy. These are exciting times. I urge you to support Obama by sending the campaign whatever you can afford. In politics, money is key. There are many swing states this year--Colorado, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri among them. With a sizeable war chest for campaigning, ground teams/staff, ads, mailings, Internet/email promotions, etc, he can win these states. We are commited to raising $25,000 for the campaign between now and November. Click here to make a contribution and help me reach this goal. Together we can change America.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rep. Charlie "Wrangle" Plays Dumb on Real Estate Scam

Rep. Charlie Rangel, who represents Harlem's 19th Congressional District, sure knows how to wrangle himself a whopper of a real estate deal. He's managed to acquire four rent-stabilized apartments in his district's Lenox Terrace development at rents roughly 50% below market, and without enduring the same aggressive scrutiny from landlord Olnick Organization that has seen the poor, the elderly, the sick and the blind evicted over much less. But of course, Rep. Wrangle has angrily asserted he's done nothing wrong nor is he aware of getting any special treatment. C'mon Charlie, you're one of the sharpest tools in the shed. Do you really expect us to believe you had no idea that you were getting a preferential deal? If he didn't do anything wrong, why has he decided to give up his fourth rental unit, the one he currently uses as an office?

What is it about politicians that gives them special skills for blatant, outrageous lies? Why is it that they think they can portray themselves as ignorant and unaware of even the most obvious situations from which they benefit? Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) "didn't realize" his Countrywide mortgage rate was less than everyone else's. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) "didn't think" there was anything fishy about Chicago real estate developer Tony Rezko buying the land next door to the Obamas and selling it to them for a below-market price. And of course, Bill Clinton "didn't think" a blowjob constituted having sex.

It's unconscionable that Rep. Wrangle would greedily amass his not-so-little 50% discounted rent-stabilized fiefdom when his own constituents are being put on the street for failing to meet much less stringent income and/or residency requirements. Judging from Thursday's NY Times front-page article about the Congressman's shady deal, his neighbors clearly agree.

Unfortunately for Rep. Wrangle, this story has legs. Given the attention it's been getting on a national scale, the double-talking Congressman will likely lose his third apartment (the first two had been connected years prior), be hit with huge rent increases, and/or lose an appreciable amount of votes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The New Yorker's Willie Horton Incident

In the Fall of 1988's presidential election the GOP's attack machine, led by Karl Rove's dirty-politics mentor Lee Atwater, ran ads against Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis for allowing convicted murderer Willie Horton to be freed on weekend furlough during which time he committed rape and robbery. George H.W. Bush, the Republican nominee, publicly stated that Dukakis had allowed Horton to "terrorize innocent people." The campaign was designed to tap voters' worst racial stereotypes and fears. And it worked.

Cut to 2008. In its July 21 issue, in an unconscionable display of poor taste, racial insensitivity, fear-mongering and bad timing, the venerable highbrow literary journal New Yorker put a cartoon on its cover depicting Democratic presumptive nominee Sen. Barack Obama and his wife Michelle as fist-pounding, machine-gun-toting, flag-burning Muslim terrorists. What on Earth were they thinking? Just some 'good-natured satire' designed to mock America's racist dumbasses, right? But the humor has fallen way short of what was intended. Quite frankly, the cover is incredibly offensive and highly irresponsible.

The campaigns of both Obama and GOP presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain reacted harshly:

"The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama's right-wing critics have tried to create," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton. "But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree."

McCain's spokesman Tucker Bounds said, "we completely agree with the Obama campaign, it's tasteless and offensive."

But editor-in-chief, David Remnick, defended his magazine's decision to run the controversial cartoon: "The intent of the cover is to satirize the vicious and racist attacks and rumors and misconceptions about the Obamas that have been floating around in the blogosphere and are reflected in public opinion polls. What we set out to do was to throw all these images together, which are all over the top and to shine a kind of harsh light on them, to satirize them. That's part of what we do."

But rather than succeed in satirizing these vicious and racist attacks, rumors and misconceptions, the New Yorker's cover cartoon feeds into them. First of all, not every reader is a Manhattan 'limousine liberal' who'll "get" the satirical intent. To be sure, there are plenty of so-called Democrats and liberals who, despite their public political personas, are closeted conservatives who marinate in the same racist witches brew of attacks, rumors and misconceptions. Deep down, they want to see a black family occupy the White House about as much as their bigoted brethren on the right. But these people would likely feel this way regardless. Where the magazine's cover is most damaging is with those on the fence. People who happen to pass a newsstand and quickly glance at the cover thinking "Yup, that Obama couple must be really bad if this is on the New Yorker cover.". What about young people who see it? Will all of these folks "get" the satire, especially if only in a quick passing glance?

The New Yorker gambled big with this cover. If it's intention was to be controversial and dominate the news, it succeeded. But if it's goal was to present a compelling message with redeeming value, it failed miserably. It's attempt at social commentary in the form of biting racial satire did nothing but pour gasoline on an already raging fire.

HELP ELECT BARACK OBAMA PRESIDENT: It's now time for us to pull together as Democrats and unite behind Obama and his historic candidacy. These are exciting times. I urge you to support Obama by sending the campaign whatever you can afford. In politics, money is key. There are many swing states this year--Colorado, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri among them. With a sizeable war chest for campaigning, ground teams/staff, ads, mailings, Internet/email promotions, etc, he can win these states. We are commited to raising $25,000 for the campaign between now and November. Click here to make a contribution and help me reach this goal. Together we can change America.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Murder Trial of George W. Bush?

There are those who say that President George W. Bush should be impeached for intentionally overstating the case for war with Iraq and misleading the American public and Congress about the threat of WMD as well as Saddam Hussein's alleged role in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Since then, there have been administration insiders like Richard Clarke and Scott McClellan who've written books confirming these long-held suspicions, providing meticulously detailed accounts of how the Busheviks, as early as January 2001, began their mission to manipulate, misrepresent and manufacture evidence in order to justify an invasion.

And then there are those like former criminal prosecutor and best-selling author Vincent Bugliosi who believe mere impeachment is not enough. According to his website, his new book "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder," is "a tight, meticulously researched legal case that puts George W. Bush on trial in an American courtroom for the murder of nearly 4,000 American soldiers fighting the war in Iraq..."

Bugliosi, most famous for prosecuting Charles Manson for the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders, appeared Friday morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe program with host Joe Scarborough, NBC's Andrea Mitchell and the Boston Globe's Mike Barnicle. Citing reams of documentary evidence to support his contention that Bush should be tried for murder, Bugliosi bases his case not on Bush's false claims of WMD, but rather that the president lied that the WMD posed a grave and imminent threat to the security of the United States, which in turn became the justification for the war.

As just one example, Bugliosi points to Bush's October 7, 2002 speech to the Nation in which the president, for the first time, informed Americans of the "urgent" threat from Saddam and Iraq. Here's a few excerpts from that fateful speech:

"...Tonight I want to take a few minutes to discuss a grave threat to peace, and America's determination to lead the world in confronting that threat...Many Americans have raised legitimate questions: about the nature of the threat; about the urgency of action...First, some ask why Iraq is different from other countries or regimes that also have terrible weapons. While there are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone -- because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant...who has struck other nations without warning, and holds an unrelenting hostility toward the United States...Saddam Hussein is a homicidal dictator who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction...If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today -- and we do -- does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?...Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints...We have every reason to assume the worst, and we have an urgent duty to prevent the worst from occurring...I hope this will not require military action, but it may...The attacks of September the 11th showed our country that vast oceans no longer protect us from danger. Before that tragic date, we had only hints of al Qaeda's plans and designs. Today in Iraq, we see a threat whose outlines are far more clearly defined, and whose consequences could be far more deadly. Saddam Hussein's actions have put us on notice, and there is no refuge from our responsibilities..."

The problem with all this, and which Bugliosi also cites, is that just six days prior to Bush's speech the CIA presented him its 2002 assessment entitled Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction in which it was the consensus of 16 federal intelligence agencies that in fact Saddam and Iraq was not an imminent threat to U.S. security at home. Bush knew all along that his speech was a lie as was the fallacy of an "imminent threat," but he nonetheless pursued his aggressive mission of selling his war to the American people and to Congress. A sales job based on pure lies, deception and misrepresentations that result in over 100,000 deaths. And therein lies Bugliosi's case for murder.

Referring to what is now widely known as the Downing Street Memos, in a March 27, 2006 front-page story the NY Times reported the following:

"In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war. But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons..."Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides. "The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."... The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein." Five days later Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was scheduled to appear before the United Nations to make Bush's case for war.

Remember the timeline here. This is key. The meeting between Bush and Blair occurred four months after the CIA's report in which it stated that Iraq was not an imminent threat. Yet, not only did Bush continue sounding the alarms over Saddam's WMD, but he and his blood-thirsty neocons--VP Dick Cheney, then-National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld--had already secretly drawn up the war plans and were angling to concoct the saleable justification.

And where was the media while the Busheviks were perpetrating these lies in their march to Baghdad? Nowhere. The press was embarrassingly neutered and utterly useless. I recall possibly one or two noble attempts by MSNBC's David Gregory to doggedly get some truth out of Bush during a couple of White House press conferences, but his efforts were summarily dismissed by a smirking Bush, whose smug, arrogant, defiant reply of "I told you, we're not gonna go there, David" was beyond infuriating. Headline: Bush to Media...Fuck Off.. And that was the end of that. America's free press was rendered impotent by a tyrannical president defiantly pissing on the Constitution and laughing about it.

Nothing's changed. It's been five years, a half-trillion dollars and 4000 dead troops since the invasion and the media still has about as much impact as a flaccid wiener in a whorehouse. That was evidenced yet again with Scarborough's interview, or shall I say mocking session, with Bugliosi. Scarborough was noticeably confrontational, to the point of being belligerent in his defense of Bush's march to war. While Bugliosi was diligently trying to demonstrate, from a purely scholarly, legal, non-partisan standpoint, how the U.S. president is responsible for the death of over 100,000 people, Scarborough and Barnicle had that "behind the teacher's back" grinning/laughter thing going on as if they were a couple of high-school cut-ups. While all this was taking place, Mitchell sat in a robotic trance. On multiple occasions, Scarborough repeated the GOP talking point that "everyone said Saddam had WMD." Bugliosi, albeit unsuccessfully, kept trying to hammer home the point that it wasn't Bush's lies about the existence of WMD, but the imminent threat that Bush regurgitated ad nauseum to bolster his case for war.

But that's just the problem. From the start, the media never took this war seriously in terms of its justification; what the sacrifices would be; or its consequences. It never did its job in questioning the obvious lies and misrepresentations. Never held Bush or the administration accountable for its actions, especially when those actions included egregious violations of the U.S. Constitution, international law, the Geneva Conventions, or just plain simple morality and ethics. So why should it start now? It's as if the media at this point needs to remain hands off so as not to call attention to its gross negligence over never being hands on. It may be maddening to watch Scarborough, Barnicle and Mitchell sit it mock judgment and disdain of a former prosecutor presenting a cogent scenario for Bush's indictment for war crimes, but it sure as hell ain't surprising.

HELP ELECT BARACK OBAMA PRESIDENT: It's now time for us to pull together as Democrats and unite behind Obama and his historic candidacy. These are exciting times. I urge you to support Obama by sending the campaign whatever you can afford. In politics, money is key. There are many swing states this year--Colorado, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri among them. With a sizeable war chest for campaigning, ground teams/staff, ads, mailings, Internet/email promotions, etc, he can win these states. We are commited to raising $25,000 for the campaign between now and November. Click here to make a contribution and help me reach this goal. Together we can change America.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Random Thoughts...

1. To Rep. Charlie Rangel: It most definitely is "the NY Times' business" how much space you and your family live in if it's the public's tax dollars that subsidizes it, and you're getting a questionable 50% break in the rent you pay on your four, count 'em, four rent-stabilized apartments. And what's with all this rent anyway? If you ever think of buying, give Sen. Chris Dodd a call. He knows where to get really cheap mortgages.

2. To Sen. John McCain: it's not funny, nor presidential, to say we should keep exporting more cigarettes to the Iranians because "that's a way of killing them." We thought you learned your sensitivity lesson with "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran..."

3. To Barack Obama: Who are you, man? Your loyal, heretofore insanely inspired followers don't recognize you anymore, what with all your recent flip-floppin.' Who'da thunk you were just another pandering, triangulating politician. What a let down, huh folks?

4. To Tony Snow: your very untimely death is very sad and tragic. R.I.P.

5. To Jesse Jackson: spare us the sanctimonious lessons on race. We're so fed up with your definition of what it means to be black and how blacks are supposed to act in order to be 'authentically' black. In case you haven't noticed, Barack Obama is but a heartbeat from the Oval Office. He's done just fine without your guidance, and is more of a legitimate role model for blacks than you can ever dream of being. Even your own son, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr, thinks you're irrelevant. Time to retire from public speaking. And while you're at it, take Al Sharpton with you. Young blacks need inspiration from high-achieving successful black leaders like Obama, Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell, not race-baiting excuse-makers like you and the Rev. Al.

6. To NBC News execs: sadly, in Tim Russert's absence, Meet the Press is now a real snoozer. In all fairness, it's hard to imagine anyone being able to fill Russert's shoes. Take the show off the air, revamp it with a younger host (David Shuster?) call it something similar but different (The Sunday Press?), and bring it back after Labor Day in time to inject some exciting new journalistic blood into Fall's election coverage.

7. To the oil companies: What the fuck? Oil at almost $150 a barrel? Have you gone mad? There's absolutely no justification on this planet for fuel prices to have more than doubled in a year. As long as you keep recording record profits and paying your CEO's $50-million per year while the price of gas is crippling the American economy, I will continue to say you Bush-sanctioned thieves are raping us.

8. To the Stock Market: enough already.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Bumper-Sticker Wars: How Democrats Can Effectively Disarm the Right of its Most Powerful Rhetoric

In the wake of the Karl Rove era of divisive labeling and framing where, for example, only Republicans are patriots and people of faith, Democrats should co-opt this very effective GOP strategy as we head towards the November election.

Very simply, every Lefty across the country should immediately place three bumper stickers on their cars. In the middle should be "Obama for President." To the left should be "Praise the Lord" and to the right "Support the Troops." That'll show 'em! We love God too, even if some of us are atheists. And while this may sound shocking, we can get behind a good war every now and then as well...case in point Afghanistan. Yes, let's fight fire with fire and pull the rug right out from under the Rovians. Beat 'em at their own game. Just think how effectively this could shift perceptions and disarm Republicans of some of their most powerful rhetoric.

C'mon, Democrats, it's time to level the playing field. Time to take back faith. Time to reclaim ourselves as Patriots. Time to out-frame the framers. Volvo's unite!

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Wesley Clark "Scandal:" Democrats Get Sucked Into the Same Old Republican Trap

General Wesley Clark created a tempest in a teapot during an appearance last Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation. Here's what the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe told host Bob Schieffer about the GOP's presumptive nominee, Sen. John McCain, when discussing his military record as relating to his quest for the presidency:

..."in the matters of national security policy-making, it’s a matter of understanding risk. It’s a matter of gauging your opponents and it’s a matter of being held accountable. John McCain’s never done any of that in his official positions.....He hasn’t made the calls......I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president."

Now here's what a key McCain surrogate, retired Col. George "Bud" Day, told reporters afterwards:

"This backhanded slap against John as not being a worthy warrior because he just got shot down is one of the more surprising insults in my military history."

But just exactly where is this major diss that Day is so sanctimoniously condemning? Where exactly is the part about McCain not being a "worthy warrior?" Don't waste your time looking, because it's not there. It's simply another "If you're against the war you're against the troops" framing job from the "do as I say, not as I do" crowd. We should remind Day of his own appearances in the morally-repugnant 2004 Swift Boat ads that attacked the military record of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry. "My view is he basically will go down in history sometime as the Benedict Arnold of 1971," the good patriotic colonel said of Kerry at that time.

In the wake of Clark's comments, Democrats immediately fell back into familiar patterns of subjugation and appeasement. The party's presumptive nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, was quick to throw Clark under the bus:

"I’m happy to have all sorts of conversations about how we deal with Iraq and what happens with Iran but the fact that somebody on a cable show or on a news show like General Clark said something that was inartful about Sen. McCain I don’t think is probably the thing that is keeping Ohioans up at night," he said in Zanesville. He then went on, as he's done so many times lately, to lavish such effusive praise on McCain and his military record that he could be on the Arizona Senator's payroll.

It's one thing when Republicans twist and distort the truth, but when Democrats do it to themselves, as Obama did this week, it's a mystery that's only explained by the party's gargantuan inability (unless your name is Clinton) to successfully fight back against the right-wing attack machine. Here's what Obama should've said in defense of Clark:

"I stand behind Gen. Wesley Clark and agree that while my opponent's military record is indeed honorable and courageous, it does not in and of itself qualify him to be president of the United States or commander-in-chief. The right-wing's attempt to distort the General's very clear point is just another example of the Republican Party's desperate need, at any cost, to distract Americans from the harsh truths about the war, the economy and the fact that voters overwhelmingly are signaling they they want change in Washington come November."

Instead, Obama gave us another incredibly frustrating "I voted for the war before I voted against it" gaffe. He gave us his version of Kerry's embarrassing inability to fight the Swift Boat attacks. In what could've been a very seminal moment, Obama donned the familiar wuss-suit and once again demonstrated that Democrats just can't play rough.

You can bet your ass that if the situation were reversed, and it was Obama being attacked by the McCain camp, not only would McCain fail to publicly rebuke his surrogate, but he'd likely pile on for some cheap shots of his own. Why then do Democrats always have to take the higher ground? Why on Earth would Obama feel so compelled to condemn a loyal surrogate like Clark for something he didn't even say? It was as if he wanted so badly to appease McCain and his supporters that he forgot he's in the midst of a firce battle for the presidency. And it was one of those awfully frustrating liberal Kumbaya moments that Democrats are unfortunately famous for. Moments that can ultimately kill an election.

In the past couple of weeks Obama has reversed course on a number of key issues in a centrist ploy to out-McCain McCain. Be careful, Barack, that and a few more episodes in the wuss-suit and you'll be waking up empty-handed November 5th.