Wednesday, January 30, 2008

And not a moment too soon

Because the current president has absolutely no respect for the Constitution he claims to have sworn to uphold.

Here he explains how he can "waive" an explicit Congressional ban on building permanent bases in Iraq:


It's beginning to look like the Republicans may just nominate McCain despite themselves.
Now, there's no shortage of grounds on which to criticize the senator, but he's by far the best of the lot offered.
In particular, if it's McCain vs. any Democrat we will see, one way or the other, the end to American torture.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Toni Morrison endorses Obama

Toni Morrison, who is famous for, among other things, bestowing the honorary "First Black President" title on Bill Clinton, has endorsed Barack Obama.

Here is the letter:

Dear Senator Obama,
This letter represents a first for me--a public endorsement of a Presidential candidate. I feel driven to let you know why I am writing it. One reason is it may help gather other supporters; another is that this is one of those singular moments that nations ignore at their peril. I will not rehearse the multiple crises facing us, but of one thing I am certain: this opportunity for a national evolution (even revolution) will not come again soon, and I am convinced you are the person to capture it.
May I describe to you my thoughts?
I have admired Senator Clinton for years. Her knowledge always seemed to me exhaustive; her negotiation of politics expert. However I am more compelled by the quality of mind (as far as I can measure it) of a candidate. I cared little for her gender as a source of my admiration, and the little I did care was based on the fact that no liberal woman has ever ruled in America. Only conservative or "new-centrist" ones are allowed into that realm. Nor do I care very much for your race[s]. I would not support you if that was all you had to offer or because it might make me "proud."
In thinking carefully about the strengths of the candidates, I stunned myself when I came to the following conclusion: that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don't see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it. Wisdom is a gift; you can't train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace--that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom.
When, I wondered, was the last time this country was guided by such a leader? Someone whose moral center was un-embargoed? Someone with courage instead of mere ambition? Someone who truly thinks of his country's citizens as "we," not "they"? Someone who understands what it will take to help America realize the virtues it fancies about itself, what it desperately needs to become in the world?
Our future is ripe, outrageously rich in its possibilities. Yet unleashing the glory of that future will require a difficult labor, and some may be so frightened of its birth they will refuse to abandon their nostalgia for the womb.
There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the man for this time.
Good luck to you and to us.
Toni Morrison

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Kennedy clan weighs in for Obama

It's true that endorsements aren't generally too important in modern politics. It's not like the old days when powerful machine politicians could ensure delivering certain voting blocks. Now it's mostly a mild positive that may sway a few voters but usually not more than that.
But some endorsements do seem to matter still, because a few figures do have the stature to really sway large numbers of people.
Obama benefited a lot from one of those figures, Oprah. While polling seems to indicate that her support has been a mixed bag for her own popularity (many women who support Clinton were upset) I think Oprah meant a lot for Obama in the early going. Oprah, like Obama (Tiger Woods, Wil Smith, Halle Berry) has moved beyond any sort of racially-limited identity. Oprah is the most powerful woman in entertainment. Period. Not the most powerful black woman. The most powerful woman.
Monday it appears that Obama will get another one of those important endorsements -- the blessing of the Kennedys.
It's hard to overstate how much this helps. Growing up in Massachusetts, I've seen the Kennedy mystique in action. While not a political fan of theirs by any means, there is no denying that no one holds the soul of the Democratic party like they do. Indeed, as much as Bill Clinton has his defenders, I think all Democrats would agree that their "finest hours" were the Days of Camelot. Deep in their hearts Democrats believe that the assassinations of JFK and RFK (and MLK) robbed the country of a bright future.
Caroline Kennedy's endorsement Sunday, and Ted's on Monday officially pass the mantle of Camelot to Barack Obama. Democrats may have some fond memories of Clinton's term, but those memories can't compare to Camelot.
Kennedy reportedly plans active campaigning on Obama's behalf, prompted in large part by his disgust at the Clintons' tactics in January.
One also detects a major shift in liberal sentiment on the Clintons. Opinon pieces with titles like "Was The Right Right About Clinton" do not bode well for Hillary and Bill. Because, of course, the Right was right about the Clintons. Not in the silly Vince Foster crap and stuff like that. But they were right in judging the essential amoral character of the power pair. Watching the Clinton camp attack a fellow Democrat has opened a lot of eyes.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A prominent blag blogger takes the media to task for discounting the black vote

Not three-fiftths of a vote any more:

Government favors the powerful over the ordinary citizen again

Interesting post from Housing Doom:
Every now and then, the "Internet Archive Way Back Machine" is a useful tool for seeing how a web page has been modified over time. I found it interesting that from around 2002 to the middle of 2006, the "About Fannie Mae" page stated the following about their mission:
At Fannie Mae, the home symbolizes who we are, too. Our public mission, and our defining goal, is to help more families achieve the American Dream of homeownership.
We do that by providing financial products and services that make it possible for low-, moderate-, and middle-income families to buy homes of their own.
After the middle of 2006 however, the same page states the following:
We exist to expand affordable housing and bring global capital to local communities in order to serve the U.S. housing market.
Fannie Mae has a federal charter and operates in America’s secondary mortgage market to ensure that mortgage bankers and other lenders have enough funds to lend to home buyers at low rates. Our job is to help those who house America.

South Carolina

I'll venture no predictions about the voting today except that there will be furious spinning no matter what the final result, especially from the Clinton camp. They've been busy downplaying expectations.
Meanwhile, the Clintons are busy laying the groundwork for a dirty trick by making noises about counting the delegates stripped from Florida and Michigan for breaking the DNC rules. While in principle I'm not too keen about delegate stripping, I understand that the parties need to have some way to enforce their rules if they are going to get anyone to follow them. It might have been better to do what the GOP did and just reduce the delegates.
Still, this was the rules agreed on and everybody agreed to abide by it.
So it's simply too late to change the rule now without it being unfair. The candidates campaigned based on Florida and Michigan not counting, it's bad faith to break that promise now.
Of course, with the Clintons there is no such thing as bad faith.

Filibustering for the Rule of Law

As Glenn Greenwald explains:
Democrat Loser-in-Chief Harry Reid, who hasn't found it necessary to force the GOP to actually filibuster a single thing during his reign, merely let then threaten to do so, in order to kill legislation, is planning to make Chris Dodd conduct an actual talk-til-you-drop filibuster to stop the telecom immunity bill.
Well, as unfair as it is, there is silver lining to all this, because it may cause the issue to get a real public airing. The media would like nothing more than a dramatic filibuster the like of which hasn't been seen in years. There'll be scope for all sorts of stories, CNN live updates and hours and hours of airtime. They were gearing up last time for it but Reid headed it off by delaying
action on the issue until this year.
Evidently Reid, who has no principles himself, can't recognize them in other people and he calculated that Dodd was merely grandstanding for campaign purposes when he announced his filibuster plans. Reid assumed Dodd would drop it once his campaign was over.
Of course Dodd does, actually, appear to have a principled stand on this issue.
What the political hacks who pass for "leaders" these days don't understand is that ordinary people will respect someone with principles, even if they don't agree with them. Two of the most respected presidential candidates are Obama and McCain, who are respected by many who disagree on their policy positions. Meanwhile, the two most disrespected candidates -- Romney and the Clintons, barely have the respect of some people who agree with them and no respect at all from those opposed to their policies.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Democrats are losers

Just weeks ago I was prepared to vote for any Democrat over any Republican except maybe, McCain.
But the Clintons reminded me what utter, despicable sleazeballs they are with their racist smear campaign against Obama. They once again demosntrated that truth and honesty are completely alien concepts to them. Having had my fill of dishonesty over the last 7 years I have no stomach for more of it.
So now I know that I'll vote for almost any Republican over Clinton. I'll admit, having to choose between Rudy and Hillary woould be an agonizing choice. Lord I hope it doesn't come to that. And picking Huckabee or Romney over HRC would really be a case of picking the lesser of two evils. There'd be no joy in that vote. McCain absolutely gets the nod over Clinton.
I'd probably still pick McCain over Edwards, but otherwise Edwards wins over the rest of the GOP field in my book.
The happiest choice would be between McCain and Obama, because either is a win for America. And if the GOP picks someone else then Obama all the way.
Can the Democrats be so stupid as to not pick Obama?
One Democrat thinks so:

More Domestic Spying shenanigans

Well, Cheney's at it again, insisting that Congress "act" before Feb. 1 and give the telecoms immunity for breaking the FISA Law.
Dodd appears ready to take up the fight again, but he'll need help.
This would be a good time for Clinton and Obama to show some leadership. Heh.
The "Conventional Wisdom" is that the law will be passed, but hopefully enough of a stink can be raised to keep it from happening. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Actually, it IS an indictment of the system

There are few things more predictable than pablum from law enforcement officials about how any outrage perpetrated by the criminal justice system is just an "isolated incident" or "mistake." Whether it's another botched SWAT raid on an innocent home-dweller, a questionable police shooting or someone exonerated after spending many years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, it's never the system at fault.
Sometimes they will even claim that the fact that Mr. John Doe was released after spending several decades in prison is proof that the system works. No, that's a system failure folks. Especially when the system works so hard to prevent those exonerations from going forward.
The latest is a certain Timothy Masters, released after spending nine years in a Colorado prison for murder when DNA tests proved he wasn't the killer after all.
The DA (not the one who put him away), Larry Abrahamson, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying Masters' case " is not, in any way, and indictment of the criminal justice system."
Actually, it is, of course. We've had so many DNA exonerations that support for the death penalty in this country has eroded significantly and overall trust in the system declined.
I don't have a philosophical argument with the death penalty in theory, but my faith that it's can be fairly, consistently and justly be applied has evaporated.
One also has to wonder how many people are sitting in jail for crimes they didn't commit that don't lend themselves to DNA evidence.
We've had many DNA-based exonerations for murders and rapes, which both often leave usable DNA evidence. These cases also get the most attention from the police and from the innocence projects.
But it seem logical that the error rate for many other crimes is at least as high. But convenience store robbers, burglars, drug offenders, etc., don't often leave relevant DNA evidence, and even if they did, no effort would be expended on finding it for such low-level crimes.
It's often said as a joke that prisons are full of "innocent men." There may be more truth to the joke than we thought.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Real Success of the Surge

A good, if depressing, column that suggests the main "success" of the surge has been to ensure that the next president will have to clean up Bush's mess:

This is where the Democrats have really shown their worthlessness. Instead of pushing the war issue they have muddled through and now ensured that they'll have to deal with the mess afterwards.

Clintonion priorities

It's becoming evident that the Clintons will do whatever it takes to win, heedless of the cost to their reputations, their party or even their country.
One can't begrudge them believing they're the best to lead. The moment they stop believing that they must stop running. But making a case for Hillary is far different than making a case against Obama. Recently they've started to head down that road and it's led to some nasty crap.
Hillary needs to explain why her vision is better. This "experience" line of argument is crap.
First of all, she doesn't have significantly more experience than Obama. A couple years more in the U.S. Senate compared to quite a few years in a state Senate ends up being a wash from any rational perspective.
Secondly, if she's arguing that experience is what should matter than she's completely wiped out by most of the GOP field. McCain, Romney, Huckabee all have far more experience than her, and she doesn't have much, if any advantage over Giuliani, Paul or Thompson either. Experience is not a winner for the Democrats this time around.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Great quote

Playright Mamet in the New Yorker

Q: You’re almost starting to sound cynical again.
A: The good news is it’s a spectacular country. We’ve been around for 230 years in spite of human nature, because that’s what the Constitution is all about. It’s saying, of course everyone’s gonna try and take control. Of course they’re gonna subvert every law that’s supposed to keep them in line. Of course the president is gonna want to be imperial, of course Congress is gonna want to become obstructionist, of course the judges are gonna be activist. Duh. They figured this out in 1787 and drew up a few sheets of paper that have kept the country in line. It’s a great place to live.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Lost opportunities

Next year will be the 40th anniversary of the first Moon landing.
I remember how excited I was, watching television reports of that historic event. It was one of humanity's great achievements.
Little did I realize that we would then squander the next four decades. As a matter of fact, right now NASA's plans don't call for a return to the Moon until 2020, which means the 50th anniversary will come and go before man sets foot on the Moon again. What a shameful shortsightedness.
Yeah, I know there are people who argue that we should solve our problems down here first. That's so stupid it barely deserves a response. By that standard we would never do anything, because there will always be problems here on Earth. Meanwhile we will have spent a trillion dollars on a pointless war in Iraq. For a trillion bucks I'm pretty sure we could have a whole Moon base, let alone a simple visit, dammit.

Waterboarding is torture

So says former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Step by step the battle to reclaim America's honor progresses.

Clinton Crap

I was better disposed to the notion of a possible Hillary Clinton administration at the beginning of this process than I am now that the campaign has been going on. Once they were put under a little stress the Clintons reminded me of all the reasons why I disliked them in the first place. The little "dispute" over the Nevada caucuses is a good example.
Now, purely on the merits, I think the Clinton side had some valid points. However, the proper time to raise them was when the plan was being set up, not just a few days before the caucuses and day after the casino workers decided to endorse Obama. It's too late then to argue about principles.
And then, of course, they insist they had nothing to do with the challenge. That's what I can't stand about the Clintons. They feel absolutely entitled to tell us any bullshit story they want and we're supposed to just accept it.
Well, after 8 years of Clinton I treating me and my fellow citizens like mushrooms, followed by 7+ years of Bush II also treating us like mushrooms I'm not in any mood for more of that kind of crap. It's the main reason why Romney has turned me off.
Don't they get it? Haven't they noticed that the candidates getting the most enthusiasm are Obama, McCain, Edwards, Paul and Huckabee. Those guys are generally telling people what they really think. You may or may not agree or like it, but you can respect it.
Meanwhile people like Clinton, Romney, Guiliani and Thompson are basically putting us on notice that if we elect them, we're going to get a steady diet of crap for at least four more years.
Go to hell.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bainbridge awards McCain kudos

Bainbridge approvingly notes McCain not kowtowing to CSA "battle flag" sympathizers

I'll also note that the so-called "battle flag" flown by latter-day "states rights"/segregationists is NOT the actual Confederate battle flag, but is actually an anachronistic combination of the Confederate naval jack and the battle flag. The battle flag was square, not a rectangle. The naval jack used a light blue, not navy blue.

Navy Jack

Battle flag (J.E.B. Stuart's in this case)

What people fly these days out of ignorance

Taxi to the Dark Side -- Cheney's legacy

And this represents which American values?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


There are signs a full-blown recession will be in bloom by Election Day, which normally is bad for the incumbent. In this case, there's no incumbent president so it's less clear whether the candidate from the incumbent's party will necessarily suffer. It may depend on who that nominee is. Huckabee is probably the least vulnerable because his populist agenda represents a clear break from Bush policies. The other GOP candidates will probably find the economy a tougher issue to face no matter which Democrat is the nominee.
While the Democrats are in control of Congress, they should be able to blame the Republicans for the economy going South, especially if the public perception is that the recession was caused by excesses in the financial sector, including mortgages.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

What conservatism has come to

Mark Shea:

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What it means to be "one of us" in Today's Rubber Hose GOP

"I don’t see how [McCain] wins the Republican nomination. I’m second to none in praising him on his surge leadership. But on a whole host of issues — including water boarding, tax cuts, and the freedom of speech — he’s not one of us," - Kathryn Jean Lopez

If that's what conservatism has mutated into, you can include me out. As with the Dem devotion to abortion, the Right's dalliance with torture is no longer played as an ugly thing they are ashamed to name and in a hurry to deny with euphemism. I can remember how Linda Chavez telescoped the whole Faustian process in her column a few years ago" torture. She began by calling for "rational debate" and ended with a demand that we get over our squeamishness and get on with the safe, legal and rare torture. Some of you may remember the Dems following a similar process a few years earlier with another embrace of evil.
So now, for those who wish to be "one of us" according to the canons of what used to be a conservative journal, the *first* thing you must embrace is not free speech, low taxes, the dignity of the individual, nor smaller government. No the first thing that makes you one with the alleged standard bearer of conservatism is zealous defense of Caesar's power to torture. And in this day and age, that means Caesar's power to torture anybody he deems an illegal combatant.
And this swinish definition of conservatism as prostitution to the power of Leviathan is used to exclude a man who heroically endured torture at the hands of the Viet Cong.
Despicable. Utterly, utterly despicable.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Iranian games

The recent incident between Iran and the U.S. Navy is interesting on a few levels.
Politically the Bush administration didn't handle it all that well, which is no surprise. A lot of folks compared it to the Tonkin Gulf incident. Some wag in my newsroom posted a map of the Strait of Hormuz and labeled it the Gulf of Tonkin. It's a bad analogy, not the least because THIS incident really did happen, unlike the Tonkin incident.
Secondly, Johnson was looking for a reason to strike. While there are elements in the current administration that would like to strike, it's not at all clear that Bush, himself, does, and that's all the difference in the world. If this same incident had happened last summer it might have led to fighting, but the momentum for that has shifted against it for now and it appears something more overt will be required to ignite fighting.

Militarily, on the other hand, there's a lot to be noted. It's evidence that the Iranian plan is to use swarms of very small boats to attack U.S. Navy warships. This is most likely to work if the Iranians can surprise us. In Sunday's confrontation, for example, it appeared to me that the Navy warships would have been vulnerable if the Iranian boats had suddenly launched a coordinated attack,. They were very, very close.
On the other hand, an out-of-the-blue ambush of some U.S. Navy ships that provokes a massive counterstrike doesn't seem like something the Iranians would consider in their interests. The U.S. can afford to lose a destroyer more than the Iranians can afford to have the crap bombed out of them. An unprovoked surprise attack would throw away any political benefit the Iranians would hope to otherwise get.
On the other hand, if the U.S. were to launch airstrikes on the Iranians they may very well try to retaliate against U.S. Navy ships within reach.
The question is whether "swarm" tactics by light ships could work. There's some reason to think that there's a chance they can get through. Very small craft are very difficult targets. Too small to shoot at with missiles, hard to hit from jet aircraft, they're vulnerable to gunfire but if there were enough of them there may be too many to engage.
The swarm still has its work cut out for it, though, especially if it's expected. Coordinating a large number of small boats using nothing other than voice radio would be very difficult. Meanwhile the U.S. Navy ships can rely on a sophisticated network to coordinate their actions and call for help. The ships can be data-linked together so they can allocate fires efficiently. The U.S. Navy is very well-trained and professional and one must assume that they've considered this tactical challenge and come up with countermeasures.
Perhaps the biggest problem for the Iranians is targeting the swarm. The small boats have limited endurance, they can' just be sent out randomly to search for U.S. ships. Without good, real-time information the Iranian command won't know where to send the swarm.
It's the information battle that the Iranians are least equipped to win. The Americans will see the Iranians coming. Any ships endangered by the swarm will be able to dodge away while the U.S. uses its air power to chew chew them up.
The swarm tactic holds some danger for the U.S., but it would need all the cars to fall just right to actually work. On the other hand, it's really the only tactical option open to the Iranians, so they have to try it or give up.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hew Hampshire Recount

Looks like there will be a recount in New Hampshire, although it comes from an unexpected quarter.
Paul supporters have been up in arms over an error in Sutton, N.H., where Paul was initially reported to have gotten 0 votes, but this was corrected to 31 votes after a voter complaint. Many Paul supporters were pushing for a recount.
Various bloggers, mostly Paul people, but others have pointed out some anomalies in the voting, especially an apparent unexplained discrepancy between hand-counted votes (which went for Obama) and machine-count votes (which went for Clinton).
Kucinich cited these kinds of concerns about the integrity of the voting process in his letter requesting a recount. This is not a minor request, as apparently the recount will cost some $65,000, a significant sum for a small campaign.
Still, I'm glad to see this happen. I, for one, don't want to have nagging doubts about the integrity of the process. New Hampshire, being a small and easily recounted state, seems like a good place to have this resolved.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Did Hillary really win?

Blogs are beginning to buzz about the odd outcome of the N.H. primary.
The pre-election polls all showed Obama beating Clinton. The exit polls showed the same. The polls were all right on the money for all the other candidates, GOP and Democrat, except the Clinton-Obama race.
And now folks start to dig and find things like the fact that the hand-counted ballots were also heavily for Obama but machine counted one were for Clinton.
Normally I'm not one for conspiracy theories at all, but I must admit I'm bothered. Questions have already been raised well before this race about these optical scan machines and the potential for tampering and hacking.
The beauty of this kind of ballot stuffing is that it would be impossible to discover without a hand recount. Evidently only a candidate can request it in N.H. and it's unlikely a candidate who lost by 3% would ask for a recount. In legitimate elections recounts almost never change the outcome, even when extremely close.
Now, if this kind of thing happened in a place like, let's say, Kenya, the media would likely question the results. Are we to assume that vote fraud would never happen here?

Things that make you go hmm. ....

Detailed breakdown

More details and links:

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

If ...

If the Republicans manage to give me McCain to vote for and the Democrats cough up Clinton after all then there's little doubt where my vote will go.
It will, however, be rather depressing confirmation that the Democrats are such losers that they deserve some credit for the Bush disaster.

Monday, January 7, 2008

A "Toast" to a neat idea

Check this out for an interesting way of rating the race.

I think Obama is still being underestimated by some folks, though. I recall that most pundits never really got Reagan, either.
I don't doubt that there's plenty, plenty of cynicism, manipulation, lying, false positions and just plain crap in politics. Quite a few politicians are bums and even the good ones end up being a bum very now and then because the system requires it.

But, and this is a big BUT, quite often, and more often than the cynics think, politicians actually act based on beliefs.

Cynicism is fashionable among pundits and those who think they understand politics. And they may understand routine politics and tactical politics. But they are ill-equipped to understand big ideas. This is why the pundits seem to have trouble really understanding people driven by some belief or ideal. They don't understand the patriotism of soldiers -- or bikers. They don't understand Jihadists. They don't understand the faith of Mother Theresa or the Pope or the local church lady. And they don't understand Obama, Huckabee, Ron Paul or even John McCain.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Countdown to New Hampshire

I'll venture no predictions about New Hampshire, having no special insight into what might happen.
But I am pleased at the direction the campaign is taking. Whatever one might think about particular candidates, it does seem clear that there is a strong current running against the status quo represented by Bush and Beltway politics.
It's not surprising that all the Democrats are running against the Bush record, but the two candidates (Obama and Edwards) who are most critical of the system have garnered a super majority of support. Meanwhile, Clinton's biggest problem seems to be persuading votes that she represents change, not the status quo. She's in the awkward position of trying to take credit for having experience while at the same time advocating a big change in the way things are done.
On the GOP side, the candidates representing some degree of satisfaction with Bushism (Romney, Giuliani, Thompson) are struggling to hold their ground against fierce critics of the Bush way (McCain, Paul and Huckabee). This is rather surprising considering the Republicans are coming off 8 years of a GOP White House. The last time this happened for Republicans Bush the senior tried very hard to convince everyone he didn't represent any change at all from Reaganism. He succeeded.
A similar thing happened on the Democratic side when they tried to follow up a two-term presidential term. Gore also tried to represent himself as a continuation of Clinton-era policies. He was less successful.

William F. Buckley on the trouble with capitalism

It's capitalists:

Friday, January 4, 2008

Ralph Peters exposed

An entertaining, if accurate rant:

The cost of war

Image from Intel Dump

MAJ Andrew Olmsted, otherwise known as the blogger G'Kar, was killed i action in Iraq.

Blogger G'Kar has the last word:

The news report:

Obama's victory speech

Lifted from Jack & Jill's site, but good enough to just show it here:

"They said this day would never come. They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided; too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose.
But on this January night – at this defining moment in history – you have done what the cynics said we couldn’t do; what the state of New Hampshire can do in five days; what America can do in this New Year. In schools and churches; small towns and big cities; you came together as Democrats, Republicans and Independents to stand up and say that we are one nation; we are one people; and our time for change has come.
You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that’s consumed Washington; to end the political strategy that’s been all about division and make it about addition – to build a coalition for change that stretches through Red States and Blue States. Because that’s how we’ll win in November, and that’s how we’ll finally meet the challenges we face.
The time has come to tell the lobbyists who think their money and their influence speak louder than our voices that they don’t own this government, we do; and we’re here to take it back.
The time has come for a President who’ll be honest about the choices and the challenges we face; who’ll listen to you even when we disagree; who won’t just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to know. And New Hampshire, if you give me the same chance that Iowa did tonight, I will be that President for America.
They said this day would never come.They said our sights were set too high.They said this country was too divided; too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose.
But on this January night – at this defining moment in history – you have done what the cynics said we couldn’t do; what the state of New Hampshire can do in five days; what America can do in this New Year. In schools and churches; small towns and big cities; you came together as Democrats, Republicans and Independents to stand up and say that we are one nation; we are one people; and our time for change has come.
You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that’s consumed Washington; to end the political strategy that’s been all about division and make it about addition – to build a coalition for change that stretches through Red States and Blue States. Because that’s how we’ll win in November, and that’s how we’ll finally meet the challenges we face.
The time has come to tell the lobbyists who think their money and their influence speak louder than our voices that they don’t own this government, we do; and we’re here to take it back.The time has come for a President who’ll be honest about the choices and the challenges we face; who’ll listen to you even when we disagree; who won’t just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to know. And New Hampshire, if you give me the same chance that Iowa did tonight, I will be that President for America.
I’ll be a President who finally makes health care affordable and available to every single American the same way I expanded health care in Illinois – by bringing Democrats and Republicans together to get the job done.
I’ll be a President who ends the tax breaks for corporations who ship our jobs overseas and puts a middle-class tax cut into the pockets of the working Americans who deserve it.
I’ll be a President who harnesses the ingenuity of farmers and scientists and entrepreneurs to free this nation from the tyranny of oil once and for all.
And I’ll be a President who brings our troops home from Iraq; restores our moral standing; and understands that 9/11 is not a way to scare up votes, but a challenge that should unite America and the world against the common threats of the twenty-first century: terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease.
Tonight, we are one step closer to that vision of America because of what you did here in Iowa. And I’d like to take a minute to thank the organizers and precinct captains; the volunteers and staff who made this all possible.
I know you didn’t do this just for me. You did this because you believed deeply in the most American of ideas – that in the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it.
I know this because while I may be standing here tonight, I’ll never forget that my journey began on the streets of Chicago doing what so many of you have done for this campaign and all the campaigns here in Iowa – organizing, and working, and fighting to make people’s lives just a little bit better.
I know how hard it is. It comes with little sleep, little pay, and a lot of sacrifice. There are days of disappointment, but sometimes, just sometimes, there are nights like this – a night that, years from now, when we’ve made the changes we believe in; when more families can afford to see a doctor; when our children inherit a planet that’s a little cleaner and safer; when the world sees America differently, and America sees itself as a nation less divided and more united; you’ll be able look back with pride and say that this was the moment when it all began.
This was the moment when the improbable beat what Washington always said was inevitable.This was the moment when we tore down barriers that have divided us for far too long – when we rallied people of all parties and ages to a common cause; when we finally gave Americans who’d never participated in politics a reason to stand up and do so.
This was the moment when we finally beat back the politics of fear, and doubt, and cynicism; the politics where we tear each other down instead of lifting this country up.
Years from now, you’ll look back and say that this was the moment – this was the place – where America remembered what it means to hope.
For many months, we’ve been teased and even derided for talking about hope.
But we always knew that hope is not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It’s not sitting on the sidelines or shrinking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and work for it, and fight for it.
Hope is what I saw in the eyes of the young woman in Cedar rapids who works the night shift after a full day of college and still can’t afford health care for a sister who’s ill; a young woman who still believes that this country will give her the chance to live out her dreams.
Hope is what I heard in the voice of the New Hampshire woman who told me that she hasn’t been able to breathe since her nephew left for Iraq; who still goes to bed each night praying for a safe return.
Hope is what led a band of colonists to rise up against an Empire; what led the greatest of generations to free a continent and heal a nation; what led young men and women to sit at lunch counters and brave fire hoses and march through Selma and Montgomery for freedom’s cause.
Hope is what led me here today – with a father from Kenya; a mother from Kansas; and a story that could only happen in the United States of America. It is the bedrock of this nation; the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us; by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is; who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.
That is what we started here in Iowa, and that is the message we now carry to New Hampshire and beyond; the same message we had when we were up and when we were down; the one that can change this country brick by brick, block by block, calloused hand by calloused hand – that together, ordinary people can do extraordinary things; because we are not a collection of Red States and Blue States, we are the United States of America; and at this moment, in this election, we are ready to believe again.

OK, Iowa is behind us. On to NH.

All-in-all I'm pleased with the results of Iowa.
First off, I'm glad Barack Obama won. To this point he's my favorite candidate. I took the time to listen to his victory speech and I thought it was one of the best political speeches of recent times. If he keeps this up ...
I'm glad Clinton came in third. While I don't think Edwards would be a bad president, there's a lot about him I don't care for. (But I do agree with much of his criticism of the system). But I'm glad he came in second because that, even more than Obama's win, signals that "Ms. Inevitable" is not inevitable at all. The Democrats have at least two guys that they might like better than her.
I'm sorry Chris Dodd didn't do a bit better, but I'm glad to have him back on the Senate beat where he's performing vital work against the FISA bill.
Biden was a good man running at the wrong time. Richardson will soon drop out. He also never made the case. He'd make a good cabinet level appointment, though.

On the GOP side things also worked out reasonable well. McCain did well enough to go on, and Ron Raul finished with a strong 10% which should ensure his much-needed voice continues to be heard. Thompson's still in the running for now, although he can't seem to shake off the "so-what?" atmosphere surrounding his campaign. Rudy didn't really play in this particular sandbox, so it's hard to know what, if anything his 4% might mean down the road. Blowing off 3-4 states to start the campaign does seem like a long-shot, to me, but what do I know?
The big news is that Huckabee trashed Romney. First off, I'm glad the phony flamed out. With a little luck Granite Staters will tell him to bugger off too and we'll be rid of him. It's kind of sad, because he might have made a good candidate and a constructive president if he's been the guy who was governor of Massachusetts. Instead he revealed himself to be an unprincipled empty suit. That's the last thing this country needs.
There's very little chance I'd support Huckabee for president, but I do think his candidacy is valuable. For a long time the GOP establishment has used (in the most debasing way) the social conservative/religious elements of the party to win elections while treating them and their concerns with thinly disguised contempt. (For details read David Kuo). It's only fair that they get their chance at the top of the heap, but early indications are that the establishment regards this prospect with absolute horror. The fallout from this can only be positive as the establishment push back merely confirms what the social cons and theocons already suspect -- they've been played for fools and patsies by the GOP. They won't become Democrats but they damn well may stay home. If they do the GOP is toast.

Good job, Iowa.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


I have no idea who will win in Iowa or how the places will sort out. We'll know in a few hours.

What I do know is that the Iowa process has provided a good look at the candidates.

On the Democratic side, I definitely find Barack Obama the most appealing candidate, despite the fact I don't agree with him on many policy prescriptions. He is the anti-Bush, and that's what we need now. I'm not impressed by those questioning his experience, because a lack of experience doesn't seem to to be our problem. Indeed, some of our biggest disasters during this administration have been caused by men of experience like Cheney and Rumsfeld. No, what we have lacked is good judgment, and on that score Barack Obama seems like a man of very good judgment.
I would find Edwards an acceptable choice for president if it came to that, compared to most of the likely Republicans. Clinton, on the other hand, would be a tough sell for me. If she's matched up against Giuliani or Romney I suppose she might get my vote. Maybe.
I respect Chris Dodd and what he has done, as well as Biden, but neither seems to have the traction needed to succeed. Richardson has been unimpressive.

On the GOP side I have respect for the enthusiasm of Ron Paul and hope he does well, because he's the anti-Bush on the GOP side, although I don't think big L libertarianism is practical or desirable.
I would love to see McCain as the nominee. It's just too damned bad the Bushies thwarted him last time. Think how much better off we would have been if McCain were president on 9/11. sigh.
Romney has turned out awful. If he had run as the moderate, good-management Republican that was governor of Massachusetts I would have been a big backer. Instead he's revealed himself to be utterly without principle. An empty suit. A bad TV movie's version of what a president would look like.
Giuliani is completely unacceptable. We need to roll back Bush excesses, not cement them.
Thompson would have been acceptable, if he had ever really decided to run.
Huckabee is problematic. I can't say I'm comfortable with fundamentalists after Bush because I don't want a president who ignores factual evidence in favor of "belief." It's a hard world and we need to be clear-eyed and fact-based.

Jack and Jill for Barack Obama

Lays out the case here:

Annoying TV teasers

It used to be that the television teaser shown just before the commercial break would be the first or second thing they showed you when you got back.
Lately I've noticed that they've gotten in the habit of delaying the viewers' gratification beyond all reason. Now they'll mention a news story and you'll go through two or three commercial breaks without the damn thing showing up.
Come on! I don't think it's a winning strategy for winning me back to TV viewing to remind me why the Internet is less frustrating. I've been watching TV for 50 years and I'm tired of the manipulation.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Mark Levin is a fool

Here's the excerpt, part of a long anti-McCain piece. Emphasis mine:

Moreover, one of the problems Bush had when he took office was that the military had been hollowed out. There weren't enough soldiers, and I would argue there still aren't. Bush had to simultaneously rebuild the military and fight the war. If McCain were such a great leader on military affairs, and as competent at "reaching across the aisle and working with Democrats" as he claims, why didn't he make this a priority? In fact, he has spent a great deal of his time in the Senate on domestic issues, and in that he has a mixed record. And when he did focus on the Pentagon, he attacked its wastefulness and sought, at times, to micro-manage it. But let's no rewrite his record into something it was not.

The war's been going on for four years! There's still not enough troops and somehow that's not Bush's fault, it's McCains! This is Bushist logic to the extreme. In every other war we fought one of the very first measures that the President at the time took was to increase the size of the Army. Bush not only did not increase the Army, but his SecDef resisted calls to do so. Levin says McCain attacked Penatgon wastefulness (this is a bad thing?) and tried to micro-manage it. Well, maybe that was necessary beacuse the war was so badly managed by Bush.

Happy New Year

With the new year I've decided to migrate my political, war-related and media commentary to a new blog. It seemed too jarring to have a post about torture followed by a post about a fun game. To improve the focus I'll be confining my comments at to game-related topics. Please feel free to check it out.

Slate - Encyclopedia Baracktannica