Monday, January 28, 2008

Clinton sleaze

It should be no surprise that the Clintons are playing the race card. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine: "This calculated willingness to shop on both sides of the street of racial politics was actually analyzed quite shrewdly by Dick Morris, the former consigliere of the gruesome twosome, in conversation with Sean Hannity last week. The Clintons, he thought, would be quite happy to lose big to the 'black vote' in South Carolina. It would enable them to signal that they were the ones to stem the flow of the color tide. Morris' host protested that this seemed a touch cynical. Morris jovially assured him that he knew the people he was talking about.

As indeed he did. It was Hillary Clinton who insisted on recalling Morris to the embattled White House, notwithstanding his various disgraces and notwithstanding the fact that he had been the adviser and strategist for Jesse Helms of North Carolina. Why am I saying 'notwithstanding'? It was because he had performed so well for Helms, including helping him with the famous 'white hands' ad that showed a white man crumpling up a letter that told him of preference for 'minorities' in hiring, that Morris was thought of by the then-first lady as such a guru."

Clinton sleaze

Desperate Husband - New York Times: "“As far as I can tell, neither Senator Obama nor Hillary have lost votes because of their race or gender. They are getting votes, to be sure, because of their race or gender — that’s why people tell me Hillary doesn’t have a chance of winning here.”

Really? Who was telling him that?

Hillary was ahead in South Carolina polls as recently as early December. And in fact, women made up 61 percent of the Democratic electorate in South Carolina, blacks 55 percent. If Obama was getting votes because of race and Hillary because of gender, Hillary had a perfectly good chance to win. Bill Clinton’s excuse is unconvincing and unseemly."

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Old misconceptions recently corrected

Old view: Mohammad did not want the Koran read in translation because he wanted to tie together the religion with the common language of Arabic. Mehmet pointed out that Arabic words are highly ambiguous (like jihad meaning both military war and internal struggle) and so any translation of the Koran is highly dependent on how it is being translated. Therefore, the injuction to read it in the original Arabic.

Old view: The 911 hijackers were almost all Saudi because Al Qaeda wanted to turn U.S. public opinion against Saudi Arabia's rulers. New view: It was just easier for Saudis to get student visas to stay in the U.S.

Old view: Arizona doesn't participate in Day Light Savings time because it's libertarian attitude doesn't like government changing the time. Gary points out that Arizona doesn't want sun into the evening in the summer because it is too hot.

Old view: The U.S. nuked Japan to head off a bloody invasion. New view (from "House of War"): The U.S. wanted to show the USSR that we weren't afraid to drop the bomb.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Two Presidents Are Worse Than One - New York Times

Two Presidents Are Worse Than One - New York Times: "One problem with the George W. Bush administration is that it has brought a kind of plural presidency in through the back door. Vice President Dick Cheney has run his own executive department, with its own intelligence and military operations, not open to scrutiny, as he hides behind the putative president.

No other vice president in our history has taken on so many presidential prerogatives, with so few checks. He is an example of the very thing James Wilson was trying to prevent by having one locus of authority in the executive. The attempt to escape single responsibility was perfectly exemplified when his counsel argued that Mr. Cheney was not subject to executive rules because he was also part of the legislature.

We have seen in this campaign how former President Clinton rushes to the defense of presidential candidate Clinton. Will that pattern of protection be continued into the new presidency, with not only his defending her but also her defending whatever he might do in his energetic way while she’s in office? It seems likely. And at a time when we should be trying to return to the single-executive system the Constitution prescribes, it does not seem to be a good idea to put another co-president in the White House."

Friday, January 25, 2008

Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy -

Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy - "'This is beneath the dignity of a former President. He is not helping anyone, and certainly not helping the Democratic Party,' added Vermont Senator Pat Leahy. On the point of 'helping' the party, Mr. Leahy seems to have forgotten that the Clinton Presidency was an era of more or less persistent Democratic losses -- except for the Clintons."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bill Clinton: 'Screw It, I'm Running For President' | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Bill Clinton: 'Screw It, I'm Running For President' | The Onion - America's Finest News Source: "CHARLESTON, SC—After spending two months accompanying his wife, Hillary, on the campaign trail, former president Bill Clinton announced Monday that he is joining the 2008 presidential race, saying he 'could no longer resist the urge.'

'My fellow Americans, I am sick and tired of not being president,' said Clinton, introducing his wife at a 'Hillary '08' rally. 'For seven agonizing years, I have sat idly by as others experienced the joys of campaigning, debating, and interacting with the people of this great nation, and I simply cannot take it anymore. I have to be president again. I have to.'
Enlarge Image Bill Clinton

'Damn, this feels good,' Clinton told supporters as he shook hands in Charleston Monday.

He continued, 'It is with a great sense of relief that I say to all of you today, 'Screw it. I'm in.''"

Obama's Clinton Education -

Obama's Clinton Education - "Hillary and other surrogates took on the task of saving her husband from his lies under oath by inventing the specter of the 'vast right-wing conspiracy,' calling Paula Jones trailer trash, and portraying the widely respected Ken Starr as a rabid partisan.

Now Bill is returning the favor by attacking Mr. Obama; at the same time, other surrogates raise his long-ago cocaine use, only to apologize after it's been widely reported. News reports also say that so-called robo-calls in Nevada repeatedly referred to Mr. Obama by his middle name, 'Hussein.' And emails suddenly appeared last week on Jewish lists accusing the African-American Senator of being fond of Louis Farrakhan. Mr. Obama had to disavow Mr. Farrakhan and his associates.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton can claim to disapprove of these attacks, and even assert that she herself is being unfairly picked on by the media because she's a woman. She wants to make the primary contest about race and gender, rather than about Mr. Obama's larger, more inspiring message of change. She can then diminish Mr. Obama and make the choice a trench fight for the votes of typical Democratic constituencies."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Identity Trap - New York Times

The Identity Trap - New York Times: "What we have here is worthy of a Tom Wolfe novel: the bonfire of the multicultural vanities. The Clintons are hitting Obama with everything they’ve got. The Obama subordinates are twisting every critique into a racial outrage in an effort to make all criticism morally off-limits. Obama’s campaign drew up a memo delineating all of the Clintons’ supposed racial outrages. Bill Clinton is frantically touring black radio stations to repair any wounds."

The Wages of Sensitivity

The Wages of Sensitivity: "Hillary Clinton is (to some people) an inspiring figure trying to shatter the biggest glass ceiling. But she is also a blue-eyed and (bottle) blonde honky, from privilege, not above playing the race card, as some of her surrogates now have undoubtedly done. Barack Obama is also an inspiring figure, Tiger Woods without golf clubs, the harmonic convergence of Kenya and Kansas of which we all dream. But to the sisterhood, he is just another chauvinist swine in the boys' club, a patriarch-in-waiting who 'just doesn't get it,' an annoying and swaggering .  .  . male."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Obama Addresses Homophobia, Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia Among Black Americans | The New York Observer

Obama Addresses Homophobia, Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia Among Black Americans | The New York Observer: "In a speech today at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.served as pastor, Barack Obama talked about the existence of institutional racism, the sensationalizing of race 'by the media' and the creeping of race as an issue into the presidential campaign.

But Obama's speech will likely be remembered for his calling on the black community to do its part to fight homophobia, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

Obama says in the speech: 'We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them,' and 'the scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community,' and 'for too long, some of us have seen the immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.'"

Clinton sleaze

Citizen Crain: Déjà Bill all over again: "On the campaign trail Thursday for his wife, presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), former President Clinton said, ''Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' as articulated as I worked it out with Colin Powell, who was then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meant literally that...that people would be free to live their lives as long as they didn't go march in gay rights parades or go to gay bars in uniform...and talk about it on duty, they would be all right. Now, as soon as he [Colin Powell] left, the anti-gay forces in the military started using it as an excuse to kick people out.'"

Red, White and Blue Tag Sale - New York Times

Red, White and Blue Tag Sale - New York Times: "One cascading rationale he offered for invading Iraq was the benign domino theory, that bringing democracy to Iraq would sway the autocrats in the region to be less repressive.

But when W. visited Saudi Arabia and Egypt last week, he did not have the whip hand. He could not demand anything of the autocrats in the way of more rights for women and dissidents, much less get the Saudis to help on oil production. He needs their help in corralling Iran, which has been puffed up by the occupation of Iraq.

So he was a supplicant in Saudi Arabia. The American economy is a supplicant, too."

Saturday, January 19, 2008

book notes

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

-- Within 36 hours, the NYC subways would be completely flooded
-- The newer NYC building will disappear pretty quickly, while the older, over-engineered ones will last.
-- Predicts a major earthquake destroying most of Istanbul within 30 years, with cheap construction on a major fault line.
-- Floating plastic is now the major surface feature of the oceans, especially the Pacific, outnumbering plankton 6 to 1.
-- Most of the food chain now ingests plastics constantly and no one knows what happens if and when plastic decomposes.
-- Estimated life for Mount Rushmore -- 7.2 million years
-- During Chernobyl reactor fire, "the Soviet Union seeded clouds headed east so that contaminated rain wouldn't reach Moscow. Instead, it drenched the USSR's rishest breadbasket, 100 miles from Chernobyl at the intersection of Ukraine, Belarus, and western Russia's Novozybkov region."

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan: "At best, Hillary Clinton will likely be distracted from her presidential duties by the worry of what Bill might be doing, and at worst black-mail or another national spectacle are not hard to imagine. The similarly disturbing result of her possible election will be the specter of an ex-president (even if he was personally fastidious) living in the White House, appearing at functions, possibly involving himself in staff, cabinet, and diplomatic meetings, and the possible confusion about who is really in charge. The country does not need this now, or any time for that matter"

Obama Skewers Critics in Nevada - The Caucus - Politics - New York Times Blog

Obama Skewers Critics in Nevada - The Caucus - Politics - New York Times Blog: "“Because I’m like, an ordinary person, I thought that they meant what’s your biggest weakness?” Mr. Obama said. “So I said, ‘Well, I don’t handle paper that well. You know, my desk is a mess. I need somebody to help me file and stuff all the time.’ So the other two they say uh, they say well my biggest weakness is ‘I’m just too passionate about helping poor people. I am just too impatient to bring about change in America.”

As the room erupts in laughter, he continues: “If I had gone last I would have known what the game was. I could have said, ‘Well you know, I like to help old ladies across the street. Sometimes they don’t want to be helped. It’s terrible.’”

In a tone rich with sarcasm, Mr. Obama launched into a fresh critique about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s answer on how she had voted on a bankruptcy bill in Congress.

“This was a bill she voted for in 2001 and that the credit card companies and the banks had been pushing to make it harder for people to get out of debt and reduce the 30-percent interest on the credit cards and folks had been going bankrupt for it,” he said. “She was asked about it by Tim Russert and she said, ‘Oh I voted for it but I’m glad to see that it didn’t pass."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The case against Hillary Clinton. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine

The case against Hillary Clinton. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine: "For Sen. Clinton, something is true if it validates the myth of her striving and her 'greatness' (her overweening ambition in other words) and only ceases to be true when it no longer serves that limitless purpose. And we are all supposed to applaud the skill and the bare-faced bravado with which this is done. In the New Hampshire primary in 1992, she knowingly lied about her husband's uncontainable sex life and put him eternally in her debt. This is now thought of, and referred to in print, purely as a smart move on her part. In the Iowa caucuses of 2008, he returns the favor by telling a huge lie about his own record on the war in Iraq, falsely asserting that he was opposed to the intervention from the very start. This is thought of, and referred to in print, as purely a tactical mistake on his part: trying too hard to help the spouse. The happy couple has now united on an equally mendacious account of what they thought about Iraq and when they thought it. What would it take to break this cheap little spell and make us wake up and inquire what on earth we are doing when we make the Clinton family drama—yet again—a central part of our own politics?"

Clinton sleaze

Riegle: Clinton's actions manipulated the ballot: "The Michigan Democratic ballot is a sham that was rigged by Hillary Rodham Clinton, her husband and her supporters to give the nation the impression that she’s the leading candidate in Michigan, an angry former Sen. Don Riegle said Monday.

Riegle appeared at a rally in Detroit today to encourage would-be supporters of Barack Obama and John Edwards to vote uncommitted in Tuesday’s primary. Riegle said he supports one of the two, but wouldn’t say which.


“What happened in Michigan is not very different from what used to happen in the old Soviet Union,” Riegle said. “The Clinton machine manipulated the ballot. They don’t care how they win, only that they do. It’s wrong and people need to know that.”"

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Associated Press: Nebraska Sen. Nelson Endorses Obama

The Associated Press: Nebraska Sen. Nelson Endorses Obama: "Nelson, pledging his support for his Illinois colleague, said Obama has 'the greatest potential to ending the bitterness and poisonous atmosphere in Washington.'"

Clinton sleaze

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan: "A Clinton-allied teachers' union files a law-suit against voting in the coming Democratic caucus in nine Vegas Strip hotels. It would hamper the Culinary workers in supporting Obama. The usual campaign hardball, but a little strange for a candidate recently bemoaning 'disenfranchisement.'"

Barack Obama : : Change We Can Believe In | Sam Graham-Felsen's Blog: South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson endorses Barack Obama

Barack Obama : : Change We Can Believe In | Sam Graham-Felsen's Blog: South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson endorses Barack Obama: "“I'm supporting Senator Barack Obama in his race for the presidency because he is in a unique position to reach across party lines and unite our country,” said Senator Johnson. “The problem with Washington has become the increasingly partisan nature that produces more roadblocks than results. I believe Senator Obama is a candidate of change who will bridge the partisan divide and deliver progress for our nation."

As Obama Rises, Old Guard Civil Rights Leaders Scowl -

As Obama Rises, Old Guard Civil Rights Leaders Scowl - "As polls show increasing black support for Obama, Jackson, Sharpton and Young begin to look like a once-wealthy family that has lost its fortune but has to keep spending to maintain appearances. Obama's tepid early showing among blacks in the polls had more to do with name recognition and concerns about his viability as a candidate than with Jackson or Sharpton withholding their endorsement.

Ignoring Sharpton or Jackson is not the same thing as taking the black vote for granted. It is a reasonable calculation that neither of them can deliver many votes and certainly not enough to offset the number of white votes that their approval could lose Obama. Jackson and Sharpton might be holding out for a better deal in exchange for their support, but with Oprah Winfrey and Chris Rock among Obama's list of supporters, they have little to bargain with.

If Obama makes a strong showing in the South Carolina primary -- the first with a substantial number of black voters -- it will become apparent that the black boy network has begun bouncing checks."

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back to the White House? - New York Times

Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back to the White House? - New York Times: "There was a poignancy about the moment, seeing Hillary crack with exhaustion from decades of yearning to be the principal rather than the plus-one. But there was a whiff of Nixonian self-pity about her choking up. What was moving her so deeply was her recognition that the country was failing to grasp how much it needs her. In a weirdly narcissistic way, she was crying for us. But it was grimly typical of her that what finally made her break down was the prospect of losing."

Friday, January 04, 2008

Clinrton sleaze

HRC team retools strategy, predicts N.H. win - Ben Smith and Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen - "“Of all the people running for president, I’ve been the most vetted, the most investigated and — my goodness — the most innocent, it turns out,” she told a cheering crowd in an airport hangar."