Traditional New Year's bits of information
As the calendar moves on and the New Year brings in 2009, it's time to look forward, skip politics for a week and instead look toward the new year's traditions. You know that song we try to sing at midnight, "Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind - Should auld acquaintance be forgot And auld lang syne?"
Exactly what does that mean? The song that is traditionally sung at midnight here in America is actually a Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song of Scotland.
There are many different interpretations of the actual meanings of Auld Lang Syne, but the one I found that seems to fit well enough is that the song 'is about old friends who have parted and meet again. To celebrate their long friendship, they share a drink together and reminisce of memories from long ago. The basic message is that we should not forget our old friends and should celebrate a reunion with them.'
That's a good New Year's message and ranks right up there with those familiar resolutions that you are going to eat better, lose weight and exercise more in the upcoming year. With all that in mind, let's have a drink, light a cigar and kick 2008 right on out the door with some famous New Year's quotes for you to use as your resolutions slip away.
James Agate was a British diarist and critic and these are two well done resolutions for some of us writers in the New Year:
1. "To refrain from saying witty, unkind things, unless they are really witty and irreparably damaging."
2. "To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time." (That one might work well for Ivan Foley on his next trip to the Platte County R-3 Taj Mahal).
In that vein, let's offer some help. For those that have vowed to lose weight in 2009, try this if you wind up fatter than ever in February. The quote is courtesy of Jay Leno. "Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average. Which means you've met your New Year's resolution."
Trying to give up smoking and curb that binge eating? Did you fail and need an excuse? Try this from Helen Fielding, in Bridget Jones's Diary, "I do think New Year's resolutions can't technically be expected to begin on New Year's Day, don't you?"
"Since, because it's an extension of New Year's Eve, smokers are already on a smoking roll and cannot be expected to stop abruptly on the stroke of midnight with so much nicotine in the system. Also dieting on New Year's Day isn't a good idea as you can't eat rationally but really need to be free to consume whatever is necessary, moment by moment, in order to ease your hangover. I think it would be much more sensible if resolutions began generally on January the second."
For those that live their lives with the ups and downs of Washington, DC, I found this, but the author is unknown, "This year, I’m going to stay away from all the toxic, angry judgment that seemed to dominate public discourse this past year. I hope to be more positive and work towards being tolerant of those who have no tolerance for others…who seem to think that less knowledge is preferable to more. More than anything, I hope to remain hopeful."
If you completely failed to even care enough to go through the motions and even care if you make any New Year’s Resolutions, try this if you need a little cover, "Forget it! Resolutions are always made on January 1 and broken on January 2. So, this year I’ve decided I’m not making any — that way I won’t feel guilty about it!"
My Top Seven Traditional New Year's Bits of Wisdom:
P. J. O'Rourke:
“The proper behavior all through the holiday season is to be drunk. This drunkenness culminates on New Year's Eve, when you get so drunk you kiss the person you're married to.”
“New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions.”
“Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self-assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and, ultimately, reinforces humility. Breaking them is part of the cycle.”
Mark Twain, again:
“New Year's Day… now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”
“New Year's Eve, where auld acquaintance be forgot. Unless, of course, those tests come back positive.”
"An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves."
P. J. O'Rourke, again:
“It is better to spend money like there's no tomorrow than to spend tonight like there's no money.”
(Send your favorite New Year’s quote to email@example.com)
Foreign countries sending dollars to Clinton
It's the Christmas season in bailout nation and it appears that for the foreseeable future Santa Claus has been replaced by the federal government.
Everyone wants a handout from Washington, DC and they plan on hitting up the hard working little elves (that's the taxpayers that still work for a living) to foot the bill. The guy with the big fat belly, the red suit and the big black boots may look a little like jolly Old Saint Nick, but your tax dollars are footing the bill and for many it's really Uncle Sam that will be passing out the presents this Christmas season.
Banks want money as do state and local governments. Two of the big three automakers want big bucks from all of us as do many other business and at least one insurance company took the money and went on a $400,000 "retreat." Everyone is looking for a Christmas wish handout here in bailout nation, at least everyone but Bill Clinton.
It appears that he really doesn't need Uncle Sam for cash as he has lots of people that seem to want something from the US giving him huge amounts of cash. He must need a better retirement plan as he has been cashing checks from all kinds of foreign governments and individuals for his foundation. Once it was revealed that Hillary Clinton would get the nod to work for Barack Obama, her ex-president hubby had to go through a Monica Lewinsky like interrogation of his finances with his donor list and he has now finally had it posted on the Web site of the William J. Clinton Foundation.
So who is giving cash to Bill Clinton?The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia gave $10 million to $25 million to the foundation, and other government donors included Norway, Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei, Oman, Italy and Jamaica. The Dutch national lottery gave $5 million to $10 million, an AP report noted. What recession seems to be the mantra for Bubba's huge fund. So why is this a big deal? It appears it is a pretty easy argument to say it is politics as usual for the Clintons.
Here's an example that is easy to follow. Amar Singh is a donor in the $1 million to $5 million category and is an Indian politician who played host to Bill Clinton on a visit to India in 2005 and met Hillary Clinton in New York in September to discuss an India-U.S. civil nuclear agreement. He wanted to lobby Congress to support a deal allowing India to obtain civilian nuclear fuel and technology from the United States. The deal was controversial because India has developed nuclear weapons but is not a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
According to the International Herald Tribune, "Singh met with Senator Clinton, afterward telling Indian reporters that she had assured him that Democrats would not block the deal. Congress approved the nuclear cooperation deal a few days later."
Here's another example of Christmas cheer for the Clinton fund from foreigners looking for deals. IHT reports, "Frank Giustra is the Canadian mining financier whose dealings with Clinton have drawn questions in the past. Clinton traveled with Giustra in 2005 to Kazakhstan, where Giustra was seeking uranium contracts. Clinton lavished praise on Kazakhstan's authoritarian leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and Giustra's company soon afterward signed preliminary agreements to buy into state-controlled uranium projects. Months later, The New York Times reported earlier this year, Giustra donated $31.3 million to the Clinton foundation."
Even with the Christmas season here it is politics as usual. While the dwindling economy certainly took a bit of cash out of the retail part of Christmas, it appears that enough money is being passed around the globe from Chicago to Saudi Arabia and all points in between all of it seems to wind up in Washington, DC - with strings attached, of course.
(Reach CK Claus at firstname.lastname@example.org)
McCain shows lack of loyalty to Palin
This may be the strangest Christmas season in a while for the DC politicians, as they haven't looked this clueless since the Carter years.
Next week's column will be the annual Christmas wish list for all of the good (oops, that should probably read naughty) little boys and girls in the world of politics. However, I'm concerned my wish list can't even come close to competing with those that now live in bailout nation. Watching auto executives and union workers beg for free money from taxpayers for their failed businesses isn't quite as charming as watching little Susie or little Johnny ask for a pony for Christmas, but such is life in bailout nation.
To prepare for next week, let's see what the pols are asking for themselves for Christmas. Caroline Kennedy wants Hillary Clinton's US Senate seat for Christmas. Is she qualified? Rep. Gary Ackerman of Queens, New York, a 25-year veteran of Congress, was asked the question and said in a radio interview: "I don't know what Caroline Kennedy's qualifications are." He then compares her to singer and actress Jennifer Lopez, who just happens to be a Long Island resident.
"Except that she has name recognition, but so does J.Lo," Ackerman continued on Steve Malzberg's radio show on WOR. "I wouldn't make J.Lo the senator unless she proved she had great qualifications, but we haven't seen them yet."
According to the NY Daily News, some New York Democrats are still miffed that Kennedy, along with her uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy, endorsed and campaigned for Obama over Clinton - who is leaving the Senate to become Obama's secretary of state - during the primaries. “It's been a little vicious," said longtime Democratic strategist Joseph Mercurio of the backlash. "It's a little over the top."
If she is awarded the appointment, Kennedy will face a special election in 2010 for the remaining two years in Clinton's term and another election in 2012 for the full six-year term.
John McCain needs a spine for Christmas, or at least some sense of loyalty as he has already turned on Sarah Palin. When ABC's "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos asked John McCain if he would endorse a Sarah Palin run for the presidency in 2012, he sounded like a man scorned.
"I have the greatest of appreciation for Governor Palin and her family," he said. "It was a great joy to know them. She invigorated our campaign. She was just down in Georgia and invigorated that campaign."
"But I can't say something like that," he went on. "We've got some other great young governors."
"I think you are going to see the governors assume a greater leadership role in our Republican Party," he said, citing Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Utah Governor John Huntsman. One report noted: ‘Stephanopoulos wouldn't let McCain off the hook and noted that just over a month ago McCain was touting Palin to be the best person - save himself - to take the reins of the most powerful country in the world.' That's when McCain stammered on and tried his cowardly answer.
Love her or hate her, Palin sacrificed her family's privacy and her eighty percent approval rating in Alaska, and while much of it was for her own political ambitions, some was to be loyal to John McCain. That's quite a payback.
Barack Obama would like you to forget he is from Illinois for Christmas. Who knew before he was elected he would already utter the phrase made famous by Bill Clinton and then used time and again by President George W. Bush. 'As this is an ongoing investigation, I feel it is inappropriate to comment.'
This was one of the statements Obama has given on the accusations the current Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was trying to sell the President-elect's US Senate seat to the highest bidder. Is Obama in trouble on this one? The early numbers weren't horrific, but will surely cause a bit of pause.
Forty five percent (45%) of U.S. voters say it is likely President-elect Obama or one of his top campaign aides was involved in the unfolding Blagojevich scandal in Illinois, including 23% who say it is very likely. Just 11% say it is not at all likely, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.
President Bush likely wants a miraculous turnaround in the economy for Christmas, but that isn't happening anytime soon. It appears his new Christmas wish will be one more press conference and just like at the airport, reporters will be forced to remove their shoes.
(CK Rairden can be reached at email@example.com)
Taxpayers starting to pay attention to bailout deals
It is the US Congress versus the US auto makers in Washington, DC and the American taxpayer is on the hook for all the cash. Incompetence dripped throughout the room from both sides and all of it was aired on television. The industry begged for $25 billion last week, sending the three head muckity-mucks from Ford, Chrysler and General Motors all up in private jets (separately, of course) and once they were there they were mocked and told to get back to Detroit to come up with a plan to at least pretend to pay the money back.
They did just that, but then they decided that would be an extra $9 billion and they upped the tab to $34 billion. It was almost as if the taxpayer was on the car lot with some sleazy car salesman running back to his "manager" to get a new deal approved. The irony was thick but it seems lost on DC and Detroit is still convinced they area all entitled to cushy jobs and free health care for life paid for by you and your family. GM and Chrysler even tried threats claiming that without a cash infusion before the end of December they might need to shut down.
It appears they will get some money this week. The AP reported on Monday night, "Congressional Democrats and the White House worked to resolve their last disputes Monday over terms of a $15 billion bailout for U.S. auto makers - complete with a "car czar" to oversee the industry's reinvention of itself - that's expected to come to a vote as early as Wednesday."
The Wall Street Journal reports that also means the auto industry would undergo a restructuring process similar to bankruptcy reorganization, "only with fewer rigors and with the government, not a judge, in control, and with many associated political complications."
"We call this the barbershop," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat said on Monday. "Everybody's getting a haircut here, in terms of the conditions of the bill," she said. Is she kidding? The haircut is a bad one and is being forced on the taxpayers and they are starting to pay attention.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey found that 61 percent are against the loans, while only 36 percent support them. The poll also found 53 percent who said they don't believe that aiding the automakers would help the broader economy. Few want this gift handed to the auto industry as a full 70 percent of Republicans, along with 62 percent of independents, and 55 percent of Democrats said they oppose the bailout. If they get the $15 billion they admit it would only keep them afloat until March. It's a horrific plan that will yield poor results. But don't worry, they will get it and be back with their hands out again right after the first of the year.
Mitt Romney Prepares for Outsider Run
Mitt Romney "is laying the groundwork for a possible White House campaign in 2012, hiring a team of staff members and consultants with money from a fund-raising committee he established with the ostensible purpose of supporting other GOP candidates," the Boston Globe reports.
The paper reports that the former Massachusetts governor has raised $2.1 million for his Free and Strong America political action committee. But only 12 percent of the money has been spent distributing checks to Romney's fellow Republicans around the country." So, what does that mean - he's getting ready for another run. The report notes that the largest chunk of the money has gone to support Romney's political ambitions, paying for salaries and consulting fees to over a half-dozen of Romney's longtime political aides.
David Gregory will become the new host for NBC's Meet the Press. He takes over for Tom Brokaw, who served as temporary host this year following the death of host Tim Russert. Here are the "Ten Things David Gregory Needs to Know," as posted by George Stephanopoulos on his official ABC blog.
10.) Monday night is the new Saturday
9.) Saturday Night Live is a pretty cool wake-up call
8.) Dennis Kucinich is a biter
7.) You'll never have to anchor another car chase -- ever
6.) No more OJ stories either
5.) Remember to wink at the camera when you say "stimulus package"
4.) Never let Chuck Todd drive you to work
3.) Don't sit Doris Kearns Goodwin next to David Broder. Long story
2.) Rapping with Karl Rove is a guaranteed bump during sweeps
1.) Most important, don't forget we move our clocks back next Sunday.
Seriously, David, you're about to get one of the best jobs in journalism. Good luck (but not too much). Signed -- George Stephanopoulos.
(Email CK at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Unaccountable leaders, insider deals waste dollars
In October when the government was taking $700 billion from taxpayers to dole out to companies deemed "too big to fail" I asked, "How long before they ask for $700 billion more?"
It sounds like Jan. 20 is the date, at least for another $500 billion. On Monday, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will push for a stimulus package in the range of $500 billion that will be ready for Barack Obama to sign when he is sworn in on Jan. 20.
According to a Reuters report, Pelosi met leading governors on Monday to discuss the size and shape of an economic stimulus package that one Democratic aide said was likely to cost around $500 billion. The source told the wire service, "the legislation would include a middle-class tax cut, billions of dollars for road, bridge and mass transit construction, expanded aid to states and investments in renewable energy.”
Obama met on Tuesday with the governors at a National Governors Association meeting in Philadelphia. According to the Associated Press, the governors are also pressing for as much as $136 billion worth of "infrastructure projects like road and bridge repairs." While the economy is tough for most, states may benefit most with an unbelievable amount of cash likely to be handed over to state governments for projects. Is this a good idea? So far, all of the ideas appear to be failures at worst and a band-aid at best. This is just another in a line of bad ideas with these bailouts.
Allowing the states to make a cash grab of a bunch of taxpayer funds to spend on roads and bridges and other construction projects with little or no accountability is a big part of the exact scenario that got us into this mess.
How much of that $500 billion will be wasted by unaccountable state governments? How much of it will be doled out for insider deals? This is more of the same however it won't matter as this will easily pass and be ready for Obama to sign.
With Friends Like These...
Adam Shell of USA Today gushed like a schoolgirl on Monday, "President-elect Barack Obama hasn't even moved into the White House yet. But Wall Street is already showering him with praise for injecting confidence into the battered psyche of investors and working quickly to hatch a plan meant to jolt the economy out of its worst funk in decades." He added, "A market that two weeks ago was desperate for political leadership and a clear strategy to repair the economy appears to have found it in Obama, who is fast emerging as a decisive economic commander in chief."
The Dow then plunged a whopping 680 points on Monday, and if we use the starry eyed reports logic, that is all Obama's fault. I'm not sure an adoring press is good for Obama right now as expectations are already stratospheric and will be very difficult to reach, let alone hold. With friends like this in the press...
Even though President-elect Obama was seen with a copy of Fred Kaplan's book, Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer, the author tells Politico that Obama is no Lincoln -- at least not yet. Said Kaplan: "It's possible that he may create something that future generations see as equal to Gettysburg or the first inaugural. I myself don't think that's going to happen. I think he's greatly talented with language, but he's not a genius. He doesn't have Lincoln's capacity to put words together in a way that resonates with literary and poetic power... Obama can give an ordinary Obama performance and can seem like he is reaching the heavens, which is not to downgrade Obama's effectiveness as speaker and writer; he just gets an extra boost because he is playing in an arena where the bar has been very low."
Ouch, that sounds like a shot at the failures of George W. Bush to communicate to the American people and a strong critique of the president-elect. Kaplan said he believes the race speech Obama delivered during the primary was his best so far "because it treated a delicate subject with nuance.”
(Check out CK’s nuances via email to email@example.com)
Imagine the drama if Hillary goes to work for Obama
As we sit to celebrate our Thanksgiving Day holiday this year, there will be plenty of dead bird and dead pig and a day full of football. That might not be enough for some this year, as the mood appears to have soured as many take the time to look over their dwindling retirement accounts and the steep drop in the value of their homes.
As they assess that, it appears they will be asked to bail out everyone from the failing US auto industry in Detroit to any bank or insurance company that is on the verge of failure.
Bailouts have already worn out their welcome among the majority of Americans, and it will be interesting to see what President-elect Barack Obama and his people will do once they get in. Obama will officially announce his administration's new economic team on Monday.
It is anticipated the Monday announcements will include Tim Geithner for Treasury Secretary and Larry Summers for National Economic Council Director, and possibly Bill Richardson for Commerce Secretary and a few others.
Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State is also apparently a done deal, although it isn't expected to be announced on Monday. The New York Times reports the two came to an agreement when Obama promised Clinton that she would have direct access to him in the Oval Office and be able to select her own staff.
When it was announced late on Friday that Geithner was the man for Treasury Secretary, Wall Street cheered. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped nearly 500 points Friday, rising sharply after reports that Geithner would be nominated.
This line from the Associated Press seems a bit off, at least for "change." The wire service had this in a report this weekend, "The 47-year-old president of the New York Federal Reserve has been working closely with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on the credit crisis."
Yes, the same Henry Paulson that seems to be struggling to try and figure out where to dole out the billions and billions of American taxpayer dollars to keep the financial markets alive for just a while longer. Or whatever it is they are trying to accomplish.
Hillary versus Obama, Again?
What will Hillary Clinton bring to the Obama administration? Obama insiders say it is a mistake. At least that is what 'sources' are saying. The UK Telegraph ran a story on this one--citing an unnamed "veteran" Obama aide that says on the Hillary choice, "He's making a mistake." As one of the [Obama aides] participants told a friend later that night: "She'll do a good job but she'll do it for herself, not for Barack. I can't bear the drama again."
According to the report the Obama aides who went for coffee on Wednesday "discussed how the initial tentative talks between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton were leaked by the Clinton camp, then how every twist and turn of the financial vetting found its way into the media."
"They can't help themselves," the Obama aide leaked. "Every event is a potential ladder up or a bullet to be dodged.They're positioning and spinning all the time.They lost. Now we seem to be handing them the farm."
This might get very dramatic if Hillary does go to work for Obama.
Jobs, Jobs and More Jobs
Barack Obama is developing a plan that he hopes will "create or preserve" 2.5 million jobs over the next two years. From what I can tell the plan basically just grows government and would consist of spending billions of dollars to rebuild roads and bridges, modernize public schools, and construct wind farms and other alternative sources of energy.
Create and Preserve, that sounds almost Clintonesque. So what exactly does it man? Power Line muses, "It's difficult to see how new public works programs will "preserve" existing jobs. "Job preservation" is thrown into the equation, I imagine, just in case (as seems likely) 2.5 million new jobs don't materialize."
That sounds about right, it's pretty hard not to hit a goal that can pick from any job in the country and if it survives the downturn count it as a "preserved" job.
Go Green - Fire the Environmental Unit
Voices has this: "NBC Universal made the first of potentially several rounds of staffing cuts at The Weather Channel (TWC) on Wednesday, axing the entire staff of the "Forecast Earth" environmental program during the middle of NBC's "Green Week," as well as several on-camera meteorologists."
The Washington Post muses, "The timing of the Forecast Earth cancellation was ironic, since it came in the middle of NBC's "Green Week," during which the network has been touting its environmental coverage across all of its platforms."
I guess one can consider it "green" to stay at home instead of burning gasoline and driving to work each day.
(When he’s not eating a dead bird or dead pig, CK Rairden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Costs of past and present labor killing automakers
The bailout mess continues as the US government ponders giving the big three automakers $25 to $50 billion as a reward for their hard work in running their three companies into the ground.
In what might be amusing if it weren't so serious, the US Congress is debating this week on whether or not to prop up the big three automakers in Michigan with UP TO $50 billion in what is being called "loans."
Marion Edwyn Harrison of the Free Congress Foundation does the math and notes that for the third quarter of 08, all three Detroit companies again suffered huge losses, as they had in prior quarters. General Motors and Ford just reported almost $7.2 billion in combined third-quarter operating losses from those two companies alone. He writes, "Among the causes, in no particular order: Incomparably high labor costs - e.g., an average of $73.00 hourly for Detroit compared with $48.00 for non-Detroit (but also American-built) Toyota."
The argument for the bailout by autoworkers and their unions is this - They believe that they are too big to fail. Here's a tip for everyone involved. The companies have already failed. By their own admission they are on the verge of bankruptcy. Still they trudge forward and they spout statistics about job loss across the spectrum of the job market and they even have a doom and gloom video running on YouTube to tell us all exactly how important they really are to the economy and to national defense. (No, I'm not kidding).
As the earlier statistics show, the problem can't really be solved by taxpayer money, as the costs are just too high at the big three and they can't stay in business unless they reduce costs.
When you form a business model that figures paying the salaries and benefits for the people that are working for you now PLUS the pensions and health care for life for every worker and their dependents that once worked for you, the cash will soon run dry.
It takes just a few generations of paying people that no longer work for the company, as well as the current workers and the system stalls and then runs out of money and that's basically what is happening now to the big three automakers. Instead of dealing with the failure, they are now in Washington, DC with their hands out asking you to pay their salaries and expenses and health care.
Think about it this way, the big three want you to go to work, pay your health care and save for your own retirement and then work a few hours extra to pay them so they can have their salaries and benefits (as in their health care and retirement pensions) and they can keep that average of $73.00 hourly for Detroit for labor costs.
It's interesting that when you hear analysts explain the problems with the big three they use the term "legacy" for the costs of the pensions and the insurance for those that don't even work for the company anymore. Their legacy is now set as their selfish ways nearly destroyed a once thriving industry. This was an easy prediction and things will only change with a restructuring, a lot of job cuts and a deal with the unions to dump the "legacy costs." A handout from the taxpayers will only postpone the inevitable crash.
Doing the Math
How much more? How much already? It's not just the $750 billion or even the $1.3 trillion according to a stunning report that CNBC puts together with what they call a "complicated cocktail of budgeted dollars, actual spending, guarantees, loans, swaps and other market mechanisms by the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and other offices of government taken over roughly the last year, based on government data and new releases."
Whew, that is a mouthful. The network noted that "strictly speaking, not every cent directed is a result of what's called the financial crisis, but they claim that the costs are "arguably related to it." The tally - $4.28 trillion dollars. That's $4,284,500,000,000 and more than what was spent on WW II, if adjusted for inflation.
America Coming to Its Senses?
A poll from Rasmussen Reports released last Thursday said 46 percent of Americans are opposed to the Big Three bailout, while 30 percent support and 25 percent are undecided. Overall, 73 percent of Americans worry the United States will run out of money if more companies are bailed out, the poll said.
In another survey in March 2007, 49 percent said the auto industry was "very important" to the U.S. economy. That number had fallen to 39 percent by January 2008.
Add to that a USA Today/Gallup poll released this week said aiding automakers and financial institutions ranks low on the public's list of economic priorities. Just one in five of those surveyed saying such assistance is critical or very important.
(Reach CK at email@example.com)
Specifics of 'change' now needed from Obama
Tuesday, Nov. 4 will indeed go down in history. Barack Obama defeated John McCain and was elected as the 44th President of the United States. Many celebrated and this was a very special moment for this country. I shared a beer with a friend of mine that is African-American and he told me he called his mother on election night when the race was called for President-Elect Obama.
She and her husband live in the same South Central Los Angeles home they have had since the sixties and they have seen many of the difficult Civil Rights battles throughout the decades right from their living room window. They are one of the many generations of black Americans that fought hard to make certain that in America, anyone can grow up to be president.
That was proven quite well on with the results from the 2008 presidential election. His mom was crying when he called; he said he had chills. He should have, it was a very cool moment for the USA.
What went wrong for John McCain?
That was the gist of many of the e-mails I received since the big election night win for the Democrats. Instead of counting the ways the bumbling campaign failed (we would be here forever) let's concentrate on the exact moment when the race really turned.
"The fundamentals of the economy are strong," McCain said on September 15. Rasmussen Reports delivered this on the same day, Monday, September 15, 2008. "The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows John McCain attracting 49% of the vote while Barack Obama earns 47%."
The poll also showed that McCain was moving up at the time. The report that accompanied the poll noted on that day, "This is the fourth straight day that McCain has been at 49% or above. Prior to this recent stretch, the Republican nominee had not topped 48% on any day since Obama wrapped up the Democratic Presidential Nomination in early June."
The stock market would later go into free fall, McCain went into his mode where he decided to suspend his campaign, threaten to sit out the first debate, and then instead of challenging the bailout and railing against Wall Street along with the government's role in this financial scandal of historic proportions, he wholeheartedly supported the $700 billion bailout.
It deteriorated from there with more mistakes and the poll numbers dropped each day as the stock market continued to fall. The Dow fell for eight straight days and McCain's hopes fell with it.
About Those Campaign Promises...
"President-elect Barack Obama over the weekend scrubbed his transition Web site, deleting most of what had been a massive agenda for his first term that appears on his campaign's site," the Washington Times reported on Monday.
The paper noted that "Gone are the promises on how an Obama administration would handle 25 different agenda items - everything from Iraq and immigration to taxes and urban policy - all items laid out on his campaign website."
For now the official agenda on Change.gov has been boiled down to one vague paragraph proclaiming a plan "to revive the economy, to fix our health care, education, and social security systems, to define a clear path to energy independence, to end the war in Iraq responsibly and finish our mission in Afghanistan, and to work with our allies to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, among many other domestic and foreign policy objectives."
Asked by the Washington Post why the policy agenda items were deleted, Obama spokesman Nick Shapiro said, "We are retooling the Web site."
Hmm, one might wonder if Obama will ever actually let us all in on his plans. Real specifics are needed as the "Change" mantra honeymoon won't last long. Companies continue with layoffs and the credit crunch drives more out of business altogether. Obama was elected on the economy and he will have to deliver quickly as Americans’ mood is already sour.
About that Honeymoon...
The honeymoon is on for Barack Obama. Sort of. President-elect Barack Obama comes away from Election Day with a 68% "favorable rating," the latest USA Today and Gallup Poll shows. That's up from 62% who said they think favorably of him just before the election.
Does that mean anything? It's hard to say. Even though he lost the election, John McCain now earns a 64% favorable rating. That's a big jump from the 50% mark he hit right before voters went to the polls.
(Let CK know of his approval rating via email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Use of credit cards aided Obama's fundraising
Twenty-eight years ago I cast my first ballot ever at the Platte County Courthouse. The vote was easy, especially for president, as the country had suffered through four long years of ineptness from Jimmy Carter. My vote went for Ronald Regan and his presidency ushered in an age of individual freedoms in the markets and in personal life. Looking around, I'm almost certain I can pinpoint where it all went wrong, I just wasn't clear that we would give in quite so easy.
I'm in an odd position for this presidential election. When one of my liberal California friends ask me about John McCain, I told her that he wouldn't have been even my 10th choice for a presidential nominee. If McCain pulls out the biggest upset since Harry S. Truman held up the front page of the Chicago Tribune with the headline "Dewey Beats Truman" (Truman defeated Thomas E. Dewey despite every pre-election poll predicting a blowout loss for Harry S. Truman) I still won't feel very comfortable as McCain has already shown a distaste for the First Amendment with the law called "McCain-Feingold" that restricted speech from citizens but allowed groups to form as 527 corporations and unleash advertisements on the public.
Barack Obama is outspending John McCain at nearly a three-to-one clip on television time in the final weeks of the presidential election. According to a report from the Washington Post, from Sept. 30 to Oct. 6, Obama spent more than $20 million on television ads in 17 states including more than $3 million in Pennsylvania and more than $2 million each in Florida, Michigan and Ohio. McCain in that same time frame spent just $7.2 million in 15 states. So how is Barack Obama raising so much cash?
Another report from the Post notes that Obama's presidential campaign is allowing donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that can easily be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give the campaign. Another cool thing for donors, they remain anonymous and their identities are hidden.
You read that right, a loophole allows donors to buy a credit card with cash anonymously - they then put as much cash as they wish and donate it to the Obama campaign. Some of the fake names used on the cards according to the Washington Post were as Es Esh or Doodad Pro.
The problem with such cards, campaign finance lawyers told the paper, is that they make it impossible to tell whether foreign nationals, donors who have exceeded the limits, government contractors or others who are barred from giving to a federal campaign are making contributions.
"They have opened the floodgates to all this money coming in," said Sean Cairncross, chief counsel to the Republican National Committee. "I think they've made the determination that whatever money they have to refund on the back end doesn't outweigh the benefit of taking all this money upfront."
Lawyers for the Obama operation are promising what they call an "extensive back-end review.” Dan Pfeiffer, Obama's communication's director noted that the McCain campaign had accepted money the same way from what he claimed was "hundreds of anonymous donors."
Certainly they all have and they all were allowed to thanks to that whole McCain-Feingold "campaign finance reform." Just a last bit of irony from the campaign trail for John McCain. Be careful what you wish for.
The Final Nail?
It's late Monday night in the Sonoran desert and I have no idea yet which candidate is being addressed as "President-elect and which is now forever dubbed as "failed presidential candidate."
I have a fine cigar clinched between my teeth and the television is switched to ESPN. The reason - well it's Monday Night Football and there is a theory that never fails to predict the outcome of the presidential election.
ESPN has this, "(The) Redskins host the Steelers on Monday Night Footballwhich also happens to be Election Day Eve. There have been five previous Presidential Elections during the Redskins existence during which the incumbent was not running for re-election."
"And as you may have guessed by now, the Redskins will provide us with an answer as to who our next President will be. In years the incumbent is not on the ticket and the Redskins lose their last home game before Election Day, the White House changed parties." That would mean a win for Barack Obama.
ESPN notes, "When the Redskins win? Well, that's happened only once in 1988 but the presidency was passed from Ronald Reagan to his Vice President, George Bush." The easy answer, if the Redskins win, McCain is in. If the Steelers win, it's Obama. The cigar has burned down another inch, the game is drawing to a close and it just got worse for John McCain. The final score, Steelers 23 Redskins 6.
Was that the final nail?
(Nail CK Rairden via email to email@example.com)
Obama campaign practicing censorship
One week to go until Election Day. Sen. Ted Stevens R-(AK) was found guilty on all counts from his corruption trial in Alaska and his career in peril. The conviction of the Republican will be a terrible thing for Stevens, though he is still running for re-election and is on the ballot for next Tuesday. The conviction doesn't bode all that well for General Colin Powell either as he is a big fan of Stevens and gave him a ringing endorsement during his trial.
You remember Colin Powell - he just made a huge deal of another endorsement and went on television and conducted interviews to let everyone know he is endorsing Barack Obama for president.
"I think he is a transformational figure, he is a new generation coming onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I'll be voting for Sen. Barack Obama," Powell said on NBC's "Meet the Press." He told America that Obama was the man for the job and had the character for leadership.
But is Powell really an excellent judge of character? Sen. Ted Stevens had the right to ask character witnesses to speak on behalf of his "truthfulness and veracity" during his trial. On October 10 the Associated Press reported, "One of the nation's best-known retired Army generals, Colin Powell, described Sen. Ted Stevens in court today as a "trusted individual" and a man with a "sterling" reputation."
"He was someone whose word you could rely on," said Powell.
If you are keeping score Powell made two huge endorsements in October. He backed Ted Stevens as an 'honest man' and on Monday Stevens was convicted on all seven charges of making false statements on Senate financial documents about gifts he received from contractor. Powell then endorsed Obama. Barack supporters are hoping this is not the beginning of a trend.
Redistribution of Wealth
In a video posted on YouTube on Sunday night and later picked up by Matt Drudge of the Drudge report, an online audio from a radio station interview catches Barack Obama musing about how best to redistribute wealth in America in a Chicago Public Radio interview in 2001.
In the audio, Obama is straightforward in his view that redistribution of wealth is a civil right. Obama laments in the interview that the Warren Supreme Court failed to reinterpret the Constitution to read into it what was not there, the redistribution of wealth for "political and economic justice in this society."
Barack Obama continues, and notes that one of the "great tragedies of the civil rights movement" was that it was court-centric and got away from "political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change."
When Barack Obama met Joe the Plumber he said nearly the same thing and it appears that he believes it.
Barack Obama vs. The Media
Barack Obama has received very favorable coverage this campaign and tough questions from reporters have been non-existent. The Democratic nominee for vice president Joe Biden must have believed that courtesy would be extended to him. It wasn't when he faced Barbara West of WFTV-Channel 9 in Central Florida.
In the Biden interview, West quoted Karl Marx to Joe Biden stating, "You may recognize this famous quote: 'from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs,' that's from Karl Marx," she said. She then asked, "How is Sen. Obama not being a Marxist if he intends to spread the wealth around?"
"Are you joking? Is this a joke?" said Biden.
"No," West said.
West later asked Biden about his comments that Obama could be tested early on as president. Biden earlier mused that America would be tested in the first six months of Obama's presidency and his decisions would look foolish and wrong on the surface and would likely be unpopular. Biden then asked supporters to rally around Obama as the country began to turn on the new president for his incompetence in the Joe Biden doomsday scenario.
West said that she wondered if the Delaware senator was saying America's days as the world's leading power were over. "I don't know who's writing your questions," Biden replied angrily.
The interview ended with Biden looking flustered and a bit purple and the questions were so tough that Obama and Biden have now banned the television station and they will no longer be allowed to ask the campaign any questions.
On Monday night it was revealed that the same thing then happened at CBS 3 in Philadelphia. Joe Biden is from the neighboring Delaware and this is his hometown CBS station and they hit him with more tough questions.
Biden complained throughout the interview and then once he pulled the plug on the interview, he pulled the plug on the entire television station, and as it stands now that station will also be barred from asking questions, according to a report from Breitbart TV.
Biden was said to be furious at the questions. Who can blame him - despite his blunders and his admission that he is concerned that Obama might not be ready when the first crisis hits, few have asked any direct questions of Biden or Obama. And now the reporters that are beginning to ask important questions have had their credentials pulled.
Censorship and spreading the wealth.
(Email CK Rairden at firstname.lastname@example.org)
How long before they ask for $700 billion more?
Usually when you use the word socialism when criticizing a liberal opponent, you have lost the argument. All of that changed recently when the US Government decided to begin nationalizing insurance companies with huge bailout "loans" and purchasing banks and any other businesses that were deemed "too big to fail."
One would have believed that only war could have caused Americans to abandon freedom in the markets. But in the year 2008, it only took a bunch of scare tactics and frightened investors that were in a full blown panic about a stock market in free fall and a credit crunch that made it more difficult for some to borrow money to abandon an actual free market economy.
It was a bit of a 'shock and awe' approach as first it was revealed that the free ride was over and America might have to tighten its collective belt and live with a little less cash. Even in the 'Misery Index' of the Jimmy Carter years, Americans moaned but they basically just toughened it up and took that in stride as best they could. But in this climate America caved, and apparently many folks in America will abandon all principles if they feel their 401K is tanking.
'Cash is king' is how the saying goes and for many Americans the sheer thought of living with a little less cash has trumped freedom in the markets and the basic ways the citizens of the country will now live their lives. We rolled over and now we have given the folks that created the financial mess $700 billion of our money to do it all over again. While that idea was bad enough, how long do you think it will take for them to ask for $700 billion more?
Add to that the government has also bought $250 billion worth of banks. They also loaned $85 billion to insurance giant AIG. So far the U.S. taxpayer has given Wall Street, Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac and the big banks $1.2 trillion. While that sounds like Monopoly money, it is actual taxpayer cash. The American taxpayer is now financing everything from insurance to car loans and everything in between thanks to the Bush Administration. Is that socialism?
Bush thinks so and he knows that many believe that as well. After the takeovers and the bailouts and a spending spree of US taxpayer dollars, Bush tried this as his explanation, "I know many Americans have reservations about the government's approach, especially about allowing the government to hold shares in private banks. As a strong believer in free markets, I would oppose such measures under ordinary circumstances. But these are not ordinary circumstances," he said.
He continued, "Some have viewed this temporary measure as a step toward nationalizing banks. This is simply not the case. This program is designed with strong protections to ensure the government's involvement in individual banks is limited in size, limited in scope, and limited in duration."
When has this government ever allowed itself to be is limited in size, limited in scope, and limited in duration? The government grows bigger each day and takes more control and is now gobbling up companies like the old hostile takeover days from the 1990's. The only difference is if you are one of the lucky ones that pay taxes, you are footing the bill and they are all having a party on our dime.
This won't end with George W. Bush, as now John McCain says Barack Obama is a socialist. "At least in Europe, the socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives," McCain said in a radio address over the weekend. "They use real numbers and honest language. And we should demand equal candor from Sen. Obama. Raising taxes on some in order to give checks to others is not a tax cut; it's just another government giveaway."
He adds, "He believes in redistributing wealth -- not in policies that grow our economy and create jobs and opportunities for all Americans. Sen. Obama is more interested in controlling who gets your piece of the pie than in growing the pie."
Obama says he's no socialist and his running mate Joe Biden says that paying taxes is "patriotic." Let's go to the dictionary and get a definition. One notes that socialism is, "A political theory or system in which the means of production and distribution are controlled by the people and operated according to equity and fairness rather than market principles."
Obama kind of let the cat out of the bag when trying to explain his tax policies that are designed to stunt growth through higher taxes to promote what Obama has called 'fairness' (as in "equity and fairness rather than market principles"). He admitted it on camera when speaking with Joe the Plumber, the man that dominated the last debate. Samuel 'Joseph' Wurzelbacher (aka Joe the Plumber) said he was hoping to become the owner of a small plumbing business that he hopes will take in more than the $250,000 amount at which Obama says he plans to begin raising tax rates.
The plumber asked Obama, "Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?" Obama told him yes. He says, "My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody. I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody.”
(Email CK Rairden at email@example.com)
From taxpayers to banks, loaned back to taxpayers
“The percentage you're paying is too high-priced - While you're living beyond all your means - And the man in the suit has just bought a new car - From the profit he's made on your dreams…" - Traffic 1971.
Watching the US Government take taxpayer money and spread it all over the financial world is more than frightening. Surely the US government, many businesses across the globe and thousands of homeowners in the US have been living beyond all our means. The price they pay, well nothing. President Bush has decided that government can ease the pain of those that are over-extended. The plan (endorsed by Barack Obama and John McCain) is to get more cash back in the hands of banks so they can loan out money for people to get even further in debt.
I wish I were kidding. This is the lede from a Bloomberg article on Monday, "The Federal Reserve led an unprecedented push by central banks to flood the financial system with as many dollars as banks want, backing up government efforts to revive confidence and helping to reduce money-market rates."
The Fed is also flooding Europe with dollars to shore up European central banks. Another report notes, "What began last December as a $24 billion arrangement between the Fed, the ECB and Swiss central bank was boosted over the past year to $620 billion."
What does that mean? On Monday it pushed the Dow Jones industrial Average up over 900 points. In a few months it likely won't be as pretty, as this is nothing more than a band-aid that won't stop the bleeding forever. Basically the US government is borrowing money from taxpayers to give to banks to get them to loan the money back to the taxpayer.
Wanna Buy a Bank?
The US and the UK are buying banks. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced a plan for the UK to take ownership stakes in several banks this week. Brown, the longtime Labour finance minister under Tony Blair, came up with the approach last week and is implementing it now in the UK. Other European countries are already following along as well. The United States piled on and has followed suit.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Treasury will buy roughly $125 billion in preferred shares from 9 top financial institutions as part of $250 billion of new equity purchases. One central plank of these new efforts is a plan for the Treasury to take approximately $250 billion in equity stakes in potentially thousands of banks, according to people familiar with the matter, using funds approved by Congress through the $700 billion bailout bill.
This is even being called by some Democrats as a 'quasi-socialist' approach and is close to accurate if you remove the 'quasi' from the phrase. Bill Bradley writes in his Monday morning quarterback column, " This sort of quasi-socialist approach would have been unthinkable even for New Labour in Britain prior to this epic crisis. And “unthinkable” does not even begin to apply to the idea of the Bush/Cheney administration doing it. Yet here we are.”
I have to sit down, my capitalist head is spinning.
The Worst Congress Ever…
Another sex scandal from Florida. It was revealed Monday that Congressman Tim Mahoney, the Democrat who replaced Republican Mark Foley in 2007 after Foley resigned under the cloud of a sex scandal from having sent e-mail solicitations to young male pages, has been caught in his own sex scandal and it involves a woman who used to work for him who he was allegedly sleeping with. Mahoney agreed to a $121,000 payment to a former mistress who worked on his staff and was threatening to sue him, an ABC News report claimed on Monday.
Mahoney is married and vowed to bring values back to Washington, DC when he took over for the disgraced Foley. The story claims that he also offered the woman a $50,000 a year job for two years at the agency that handles his campaign advertising, staffers told ABC.
Remember how Democrats screamed about the culture of corruption and how Nancy Pelosi said it would take a woman to 'clean house?' Not so much, as she says she was clueless.
According to another ABC World News report, Mahoney staffers told the network, "Senior Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives, including Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), the chair of the Democratic Caucus, have been working with Mahoney to keep the matter from hurting his re-election campaign."
The guy is running for re-election in Florida and instead of disclosing this to the voters, Democrats tried to hide it. Isn't that exactly what Republicans did with Foley? Some change.
(Chuck Rairden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The housing bubble started this mess
I'll be honest, the insiders in Washington are taking all of the fun out of my work. As a political analyst and avid watcher of all things from the world of politics and pop culture in the land we call America, I usually am torn between subjects each Monday night as I light a cigar and prepare to pound out yet another winning column. Between the haze of blue smoke and the aroma of a fine imported stogie, I always try to consider what the readers want and of course what I feel like writing about.
It's always a tough call between the latest adventures of Angelina Jolie to something more concrete such as the Electoral College count. Weekly readers will notice that the last few weeks my columns were on the economic crisis. I really had little choice as this mess affects us all. Last week I mentioned the problem isn't all that complicated and several took the time to e-mail to tell me that I was wrong, and if I wasn't to please explain.
Okay - here goes. The housing bubble is the real problem that started this whole mess. In 1995 Bill Clinton decided that he would make home ownership more readily available to Americans. Please notice that I didn't write that Bubba's plan was to make housing more affordable, the plan was to make it more available. In other words a supply of money would be increased and banks would be pressured to lend money to those who couldn't qualify for a conventional loan, but the plan was to give them the loans anyway. A combination of low interest rates and large capital inflows from outside the U.S. created a surplus of loanable funds and easy credit for many years leading up to the crisis.
The trouble was that the 'easy credit' was going to the wrong people. They would borrow money with subprime loans (that means they were a very high credit risk) and many bought homes they couldn't afford. A family of four bringing home about $50,000 would no longer look for the $150,000 home, they wanted the new and improved $350,000 home or in some cases even higher.
The result was people weren't really trying to buy a home and pay it off, their goal was to meet each monthly payment (many times late) and then hang on for a few months and refinance their home, immediately pulling out any equity they had in the home and search for yet another subprime loan. After the second or third refinance some of these families would have literally nothing invested in the home. Many of these loans were billed as having no points, no interest and no money down. Some even touted no closing costs.
So basically these 'homeowners' were nothing more than people renting houses as many never even tried to pay anything on the principal of the home and would make an 'interest only' payment. None of the homeowners' own money was invested in the home at all, the trick for the person that 'bought' the house would wait a few months and either refinance again, or try and sell the home.
During the height of the boom, a home sale would sometimes take as little as hours as the next subprime borrower would buy the home with no money down and interest only with some foreign banks' cash. The cycle continued. While this worked for a couple of years for some shrewd buyers that knew when to sell, it was easy to see the crash coming. Prices of homes soared beyond affordability all across America including right here in Platte County. Unfortunately salaries of the workers couldn't keep pace and we were right on the edge of the housing bubble.
Once the bubble burst it was easy to see Wall Street would soon follow as many of them were also playing fast and loose with your money. Now reports claim that some banks may continue to fail while others are already in what is being billed a as a credit crunch. That means the banks have now gone to the other extreme, they are leery of lending anyone cash for anything. Since many businesses don't even run on cash (they have to borrow money to stay in business, meet payroll, etc.) some of them will be in danger of having to downsize and many will fail.
While that is a lot of words to try and explain what started this, it all boils down to greed and corruption all up and down the home buying process, and the citizens that played the game shouldn't get a pass either as they were living beyond all their means.
So - how bad will it get? Many are already comparing it to the Great Depression and that might not be very far off. That turbulent time saw lenders giving money to deadbeats to buy houses as credit flowed like water. When the bubble burst the stock market crashed and the rest of the markets worldwide tumbled and it would take a full ten years and the economic stimulus of a World War (As in WWII) for the economy to come all the way back.
Can it happen again? Nearly six out of ten Americans believe another economic depression is likely, according to a poll released Monday by CNN. Economists and experts alike say that we learned from the Great Depression and that now the government knows how to react to make this only "a painful recession." Since they didn't see this coming, I'm a bit skeptical.
(CK Rairden can be reached at email@example.com)
Voters oppose bailout by two to one
Indeed, politics does make for strange bedfellows.
Monday brought a stunning vote in the US House of Representatives when an odd combination of conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats shut down the $700 billion bailout plan that President George W. Bush and House Leader Nancy Pelosi were pushing. Together. One would have thought the scary news and threats of a financial collapse were going to be enough to shove the proposal through Congress.
It wasn't. The American voter seems to get the problems as they have been presented. The financial system is in crisis (especially the credit markets) and America as a whole is way over-extended. Consumer debt is out of this world. Credit is tight at best and to make it even worse many banks are insolvent. The voters seem to show that they understood the problem (it really isn't all that complex) and it seemed like a lot of people wanted to take action, but they just didn't want this action.
A U.S. House member named Jerry McNerney explained his "yes" vote this way, "I voted to pass the economic recovery package because indications are that the economy faces the serious risk of meltdown, which would put the jobs, savings, and homes of so many Americans, and especially people who live in my Congressional district, at risk. I could not, in good conscience, vote against what appears to be the only plan available to stabilize the economy."
He then tried to sell this, "Today's vote was not about bailing out Wall Street, it was about protecting ordinary Americans and preventing the gears of economy from seizing up. If credit markets freeze, it means families won't be able to take out basic home and car loans, students won't be able to get affordable college loans, small businesses won't be able to make their payrolls, and credit card interest rates will soar. "
That seemed to be the plan, to frighten America into handing over their wallets. The voters revolted and refused to give in to the strong-arm tactics and they made their voices heard on Monday.
And when the US House of Representatives rejected the proposal on Monday, the Dow tanked and lost 777 points, the largest one-day drop in dollars in the history of the New York Stock Exchange. Investors lost over $1 trillion on Monday alone. So far, voters haven't blinked and are still opposing the bailout plan by about a two-to-one margin.
Members of the House of Representatives report that phone calls and emails coming in to their offices have run as much as 1,000 to 1 against the financial bailout proposal. Voters have made it clear; they don't want to pay for a Wall Street bailout.
Bill Ottis has this, "No one likes this bailout, and there's plenty not to like about it, starting with the fact that it does nothing to remedy the country's addiction to debt which is the real problem. Indeed, it's merely the next "fix" for that addiction, not to mention a bonanza for millions of foolhardy and/or dishonest people who took out mortgages they knew they couldn't afford."
He added, "Still, Bush is right that the consequences of not having the bailout will be worse than the consequences of having it. Right now I'd say we are headed for a Depression. Almost no one alive remembers what that is really like. When they find out, there will be chaos. At least in the thirties the country was tough. Now it's soft and pampered. People will be in for a shock when they find out the privation they've been (falsely) complaining about can be quite real, and is about to descend."
Is he right? No one knows for certain but a number of great minds that are not usually ones to cause panic have warned that unless something like the proposed bailout is done, the result will be disastrous for the broader economy. Serious people are talking about the possibility of a depression and the problem will not end here in the US, as it is a worldwide issue and banks are in danger around the globe.
The bailout was placed online on Sunday at the US House website. I actually logged on to read it and from what I could gather it was indeed an atrocious plan in need of an overhaul and surely the responsible thing to do was to vote against it on Monday.
Once the voters started contacting their representatives, they actually took the day. It was a great victory for liberty. CBS Market Watch writer Rex Nutting had a story out on Monday that didn't need much more than the headline, "House to Wall Street: Drop Dead!"
That's about the way America sees it right now. The voters won on Monday as their voices were heard. What we all have won will be determined.
(CK Rairden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Transparency and accountability needed
Seven hundred billion dollars. The panic formed quickly and snowballed last week and continues a daily trip up and down on Wall Street.
Ten days ago, on Monday morning, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection. That was enough to get the financial folks in a tizzy but on Tuesday, the government took control of AIG. Reports claimed the financial crisis was spinning out of control and threatened the most dire market malfunction since the crash of 1929. The tailspin threatened to put an already stumbling economy deep into recession. Or depression.
Enter the $700 billion bailout. US Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) explains it this way, "Think of the loans now being held on the balance sheets of banks and other financial institutions as assets like your home. You may think it is worth about $100,000. But do you think you could sell it today for that amount? Probably not at least not at a price sufficient to pay off your mortgage. So, as of right now, its sale or market value maybe half of what you think is its real, or intrinsic value."
He adds, "Under Treasury's plan, the federal government will purchase illiquid assets these are mortgage-backed securities that currently no one wants to buy because of their low market value. The price will be somewhere between the presumed intrinsic value (i.e., your $100,000 house) and today's market value (assume $50,000 so let's assume it's purchased at $75,000). Because of the transfer of $75,000 from the federal government, the financial institution will now have money to begin responsibly lending to individuals and business, thus freeing up the market."
The Treasury Department would then continue to ride it out and hold the assets until their value increases. Hopefully. How risky is the plan and what is the oversight? The initial proposal seemed to give unlimited power to Henry Paulson and there were rumors that the plan might be completed in 72 hours. The deal has yet to be hammered out but it appears as if it is well on its way and the era of big government is back. The Bush Administration worked at breakneck speed to get this plan in place and it is now priority one in Washington, DC.
So how does a lame duck president with an approval rating right around 30% even get consideration for such a wide reaching program? One word, fear. When Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, laid out the potentially devastating ramifications of the financial crisis before congressional leaders one week ago on Thursday night, there was a stunned silence as the doomsday scenario was explained.
"When you listened to him describe it you gulped," said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York.
Democrat Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut told the ABC program "Good Morning America," that congressional leaders were told, "we're literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally."
Mr. Schumer added, "History was sort of hanging over it, like this was a moment." According to the Associated Press, when Schumer described the meeting as "somber," Mr. Dodd cut in. "Somber doesn't begin to justify the words," he said. "We have never heard language like this."
The language was said to have had dire warnings of bank failures, a possible money market funds collapse along with warnings that there would be a credit freeze and companies would be unable to expand or even pay their employees' benefits. Combine this with the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac disaster and some labeled it the 'Great Depression 2.0.'
Is this plan a good idea? It's frightening to think that the taxpayer is now backing poor loans to the tune of somewhere over $700 billion. Expanding government and forcing US taxpayers to act as an insurance company for bad investments certainly seems like a bad deal for taxpayers. But in the blink of an eye that is what is happening now in Washington, DC.
Did either Barack Obama or John McCain see this mess coming? The Washington Post ran an editorial that looked at McCain versus Obama on which candidate might have seen this coming as it pertains to this current financial crisis. The Post opined, "In 2006, (John) McCain pushed for stronger regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- while (Barack) Obama was notably silent. ‘If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole,' McCain warned at the time.
Strange that McCain was able to see this coming two years ago and urged more oversight, while Obama apparently missed the looming crisis completely. Good or bad, this bailout "deal" is on pace for completion soon. Voters will have to decide who they trust to actually run the oversight, and implement the transparency and accountability that will be necessary to keep this thing under control.
Obama can't figure out how to deal with Palin
Barack Obama decided as a political strategy to attack Sarah Palin from the moment that it was leaked she would be the running mate for John McCain.
The US Senator from Illinois set the tone for the early attacks when he slammed Palin as nothing more than a small town mayor. The Alaskan governor has already changed the stakes of the race and the direction and velocity are soaring out of Obama's control for the 2008 presidential elections, and now Obama is looking for the media to take her down.
A New York Times report on Barack Obama titled, "Obama Plans Sharper Tone as Party Frets" claims, "Mr. Obama and his campaign have seemed flummoxed in trying to figure out how to deal with [Sarah Palin]. His aides said they were looking to the news media to debunk the image of her as a blue-collar reformer."
The media took the marching orders from Obama but they fared little better as each of their attacks have just increased support for Palin.
Now Obama has decided that he will ignore Palin and go back on the attack against McCain. His first attack ad out of the box after the one day moratorium on political activity to remember the 9/11 attacks was one that mocked McCain as an out of touch old man. John McCain is mocked as an out-of-date computer illiterate in a television commercial from Barack Obama as the Democrat took his sharpest barrage yet to the airwaves on McCain's long Washington career. "He admits he still doesn't know how to use a computer," the narrator sneers. "Can't send an email."
There are lots of problems with the ad but one large gaffe by Obama is that he never bothered to check to see if McCain is able to type because of his injuries. As the Boston Globe reported in 2000, "McCain's severe war injuries prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes."
Mocking McCain for having his arms repeatedly broken by his communist captors while being held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam is not a smart strategy.
Obama-Friendly Lehman Brothers?
The securities firm Lehman Brothers announced it would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy first thing Monday morning and that sent stock investors scrambling. The DOW fell 500 points. So which candidate was Lehman Brothers backing? Open Secrets.Org has a report showing that they donated money to Obama and Hillary Clinton. It appears that Lehman Brothers was really banking on Obama or Clinton to become president.
The report notes, "In the current Congress, 271 lawmakers have collected nearly $3 million since 1989, with 72 percent going to Democrats. Democratic presidential candidates and senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama top the list of all-time recipients for the company, collecting $410,000 and $395,600 respectively." Get that - out of the $3 million almost a third went to Obama and Clinton.
Obama said this on Monday, "The challenges facing our financial system today are more evidence that too many folks in Washington and on Wall Street weren't minding the store."
It appears that someone was minding the store just enough to give the checkbook a workout, as the money was flowing to Democrats and especially Obama and Clinton from the firm. How does Obama explain taking money from Lehman Brothers and bashing them at the same time?
Poll Numbers, Ohio and Obama
The last two weeks have not been kind for the Obama-Biden campaign and now it is starting to show in the polls. John McCain will need Ohio to win in November and it has been a toss up state for quite some time. Now the polls are moving slightly towards McCain.
A new Suffolk University poll in Ohio finds Sen. John McCain leading Sen. Barack Obama, 46% to 42% in the Buckeye state. Said pollster David Paleologos: "McCain is benefitting from Palin identification and empathy as well as a greater sense of Buckeye voter trust. However, should the trust firewall in Ohio break down, it could signal the beginning of an electoral blue domino effect there."
A new SurveyUSA poll in Ohio also shows Sen. John McCain leading Sen. Barack Obama, 49% to 45%. The key finding, "Three times as many Democrats crossover to vote Republican as Republicans who crossover to vote Democrat. Among men, McCain leads by 13 points; among women, Obama leads by 4 -- a 17 point gender gap. Among voters who are younger than Barack Obama, Obama and McCain are tied."
Among voters older than John McCain and those who are in-between the two candidates' ages, McCain leads by 10.
.(Email CK at email@example.com)
Palin moving poll numbers like no other
Sarah Palin has had an interesting two weeks. Before her visit to Lee's Summit on Monday she and her family had been under relentless attacks and smears from the political left, as it appears the strategy early on was to destroy the woman that Republican presidential candidate John McCain chose to be his running mate.
It was nasty last week and by Tuesday there were those on the left who were predicting that Sarah Palin would have to be dumped as the V.P. by McCain because of the smear campaign.
As I noted last week, John McCain has no trouble with gambling a bit and he stuck with his hand (that being the hand of Sarah) and she paid off big time when she delivered a stirring speech from the convention where she hit every line with perfection and even when her teleprompter malfunctioned she ad-libbed lines and delivered those to a roaring crowd.
Her "pit bull in lipstick" joke that went over so well was not in the text of her speech. As she was delivering her text, the teleprompter that was feeding her the lines malfunctioned and as the crowd was cheering wildly it scrolled too far leaving Palin too far ahead in the speech.
That is when Sarah delivered that memorable description of the difference of a hockey mom and a Pit-Bull, and she delivered it off the cuff.
So what does Sarah Palin deliver to the campaign besides some memorable one-liners? She brings excitement and she has rallied the conservative base like no other pick could have ever accomplished in such a short period of time. She gives the Republican Party a face and a new personality that was sorely needed and she is promising reform in Washington, DC as is John McCain. Sarah Palin is still a risky pick, and this could all still blow up in John McCain's face.
But with just under eight weeks to go before Election Day, she has moved numbers like no other candidate in recent memory. The Sarah phenomenon is in full swing, now the question will be if she can maintain this level for the next few weeks.
Polls, Polls, Polls
Two weeks ago, I wrote that Barack Obama needed a big convention bounce to keep his momentum going. On that Monday, Gallup released a poll that claimed that the race was tied at 45% - 45%. Obama got a bounce from his convention, but it was very weak.
This Monday a stunning USA Today/Gallup poll showed that McCain-Palin soared right past the fifty-percent mark and according to the poll leads Obama-Biden fifty-four percent (54%) to forty-four percent (44%) among likely voters. Among registered voters it was 50%-46% for McCain-Palin.
More polling: A new SurveyUSA poll shows Sen. John McCain leads Sen. Barack Obama, 49% to 44%, among respondents who were asked "If you were placing a bet today" who do you think will be elected president?
Electoral College Tally Leans Towards McCain
More of the Palin bounce is evident in the states. In Florida, John McCain holds a slight edge, but in Ohio he is now up seven points and even has a lead again in Virginia. A new poll from Public Policy Polling now has John McCain with a single percentage point of Barack Obama in the battleground state of Michigan.
The key finding in the Michigan poll according to the pollsters, "The movement in McCain's direction is coming largely from whites and men. He has moved his lead from 10 points in the last poll to 16 among white voters, and has turned a four point deficit among male voters into a three point advantage."
In addition, the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate "is a much bigger hit" than Obama's pick of Sen. Joe Biden. 45% of respondents say her choice makes them more likely to vote for McCain while just 30% say having Biden on the ticket makes them more likely to support Obama.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Larry David (the co-creator of the legendary TV series Seinfeld) has a show by that name on HBO and that is what many are telling Republicans. Glenn Reynolds writes, "I think that Republicans should be careful about launching a cult of Sarah Palin. She's the V.P. pick, not the head of the ticket. She's still a relative newcomer to national politics. She's virtually sure to commit at least one major mistake between now and November. The Dems built a cult around Barack Obama. It energized some folks, but it ultimately backfired. Republicans might want to restrain themselves just a bit, here."
That's good advice but one advantage the Republicans have with Palin is a clock that is running out. With just over 55 days to go in the race it might be hard to see a Palin burnout without a major mistake or a real scandal. The Palin bounce is real, and she has taken every advantage of her short time on the national stage to show that she believes that she belongs in the spotlight.
(Find CK Rairden in The Landmark spotlight every week. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
McCain's timing knocks Obama off front page
Sarah Palin was an unknown last Friday morning. She is the governor of Alaska as well as a mother of five and from all reports is a no-nonsense reformer.
Last Friday should have been a big day for Barack Obama, but once word leaked out that John McCain was about to tab the first woman to ever be on a presidential ticket as a Republican, all anyone wanted to know about was who this woman was and why she was picked.
By his own admission, John McCain had only spoken with Sarah Palin a few times before offering her the invitation to serve as veep, yet there she was right by his side on Friday being introduced as the "next vice president." She emerged from a pack of GOP regulars to get the nod and the choice is a huge gamble. And John McCain loves to gamble. The 72-year old US Senator from Arizona went "all in" when he picked Sarah Palin and early on, she is paying off big. At least for now.
She has only had a few speeches since Friday but she comes across as confident and feisty and she has dramatically fired up a very dormant GOP base. In three days conservatives that had vowed to sit this election out were so excited about the race that they donated an extra $10 million to the McCain-Palin campaign and that moved him to a record $47 million in donation for August.
With one bold move, McCain knocked Barack Obama off his game and knocked him off the front pages. Obama gave a decent enough speech in Denver on Thursday night, but as there were no real memorable lines. It appears nearly forgotten, as the campaign turns toward McCain and his historic running mate. The timing was perfect, around 12hours after Obama had finished his speech to wrap the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Palin stole the show.
She told a stunned and cheering crowd in Dayton, Ohio on Friday, "It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America. But, it turns out that the women of America aren't finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all."
The first response from the Obama campaign was sophomoric and petty. "Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency," Adrianne Marsh, a spokeswoman for Obama, said in a written statement.
Obama surrogate Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, "Her lack of experience makes the thought of her assuming the presidency troubling." After instant criticism and screams of sexism, a second and more politically correct response was issued by Obama and running mate Joe Biden when they realized they were really starting to look bad in the eyes of women voters.
Obama on Palin, take two, "We send our congratulations to Gov. Sarah Palin and her family on her designation as the Republican nominee for vice president. It is yet another encouraging sign that old barriers are falling in our politics. While we obviously have differences over how best to lead this country forward, Gov. Palin is an admirable person and will add a compelling new voice to this campaign."
She became governor of her state in December of 2006 after first defeating a Republican governor in the GOP primary and then dispatching a former governor in the general election. Two years ago, she ousted the state's Republican incumbent governor, Frank Murkowski in the primary, even though the Republican Party didn't give her much help.
Palin has also wisely distanced herself from two senior Republican officeholders, Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young. Both men are under federal corruption investigations. All of this makes her a tremendous pick by McCain, and the biggest gamble ever on the biggest stage in the world.
Very little is known about the woman, she could be the next massive star that leads the GOP away from its obvious downward spiral. Or she could easily flame out if she makes any rally tragic gaffes on the campaign trail or if she is hit with a scandal that is too much for the voting public to bear.
If she fails big in a debate with Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden, she will make it very difficult on the McCain-Palin ticket. Right now, she's a rock star for the Republican Party and if she delivers a knockout speech this week at the Republican National Convention, she has a chance to show a fresh face that pushes conservative ideas of limited government and fiscal restraint.
(Always perfect with his timing, CK Rairden writes from his Arizona home. Reach him via email to email@example.com)
Will the Democrats eat their own?
The Democrats are all in Denver and the rally is on as this is the week that the Democratic National Convention gives center stage to Barack Obama and his pick for vice president, Joe Biden. If you take in cable news or the nightly network shows it is all you will see. Will the Democrats eat their own this week? They were off to a fine start as the week began Monday in Denver.
Right before the convention Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell was supposed to give "closing remarks" at a panel discussion with all three Sunday show moderators from the networks (NBC's Tom Brokaw, ABC's George Stephanopoulous and CBS's Bob Schieffer) but instead, he ripped away at the bias in 2008 election coverage.
"Ladies and gentleman, the coverage of Barack Obama was embarrassing," said Rendell, in the ballroom at Denver's Brown Palace Hotel, according to a report from Politico. "It was embarrassing."
Rendell is a big Hillary Clinton supporter and is now backing Barack Obama in the general election against John McCain. According to the report from Politico, "Brokaw and Rendell began debating campaign coverage, including the on-air comments by Lee Cowan, and when MSNBC came up, Rendell went after the cable network."
“MSNBC was the official network of the Obama campaign," Rendell said, who called their coverage "absolutely embarrassing." Chris Matthews, Rendell said, "loses his impartiality when he talks about the Clintons.” Brokaw tried to answer and said that Matthews and Keith Olbermann are "not the only voices" on MSNBC.
Ouch! One can understand Rendell's statement (Now remember Rendell is a liberal Democrat and the sitting governor of Pennsylvania) and certainly for anyone that pays attention "Obama Burnout" is here. How much fawning will voters take from the media? They will get a hefty dose this week but it might not be without a bit of drama, as many Hillary supporters are still smarting. Some 30% of the women that supported Hillary Clinton have vowed not to vote for Barack Obama.
It got even more fun on Monday as some of those Hillary Clinton supporters clashed with Team Obama over all sorts of sticky points at the convention. Politics tuned to gossip as several "unnamed sources" were leaking all sorts of comments from supporters from both camps.
The buzz was that Bill Clinton was angry on Monday as reports claimed that he is being muzzled on what he will be allowed to say at his speech. While it is with certainty that Obama advisers talked to Bubba's people and tried to steer his speech, no one (and especially Barack Obama) will be able to tell Bill Clinton what to say. But Obama will give it his best shot.
How Mad Are They?
According to a report from the Washington Post, "A number of Sen. Hillary Clinton's top advisers will not be staying in Denver long enough to hear Barack Obama accept the nomination for president, according to sources familiar with their schedules."
By the time you read this Hillary will have delivered her speech on Tuesday night and certainly she will tell her supporters to support and vote for Barack Obama. On Wednesday night Bill Clinton will speak and once he is finished Denver will empty of all Clinton supporters. The Post claims that among them will be Terry McAuliffe, Clinton's campaign chairman, who will be leading the way for the mass exodus. Now the real question - will Hillary Clinton supporters see a well- rounded speech that asks them to support Obama or the huge snub at the end?
The Obama Bounce
Barack Obama needs a "Convention Bounce" in the worst way. He seems like he is losing energy and his campaign is stalling a bit. He will get a decent bounce out of this four-day infomercial, and he might need double digits. On Monday, Gallup released a poll that claims that the race is tied at 45% - 45%.
How bad is it for Obama? Gallup reports, "The latest update includes two days of interviewing following Obama's selection of Sen. Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate, and neither day showed an improved performance for Obama. Thus, Obama does not appear to have gotten the same type of immediate "vice presidential bounce" as have presidential candidates in recent years."
Obama needs this convention to run smoothly and he needs some excitement but more than anything, Obama needs votes and that means he needs a big numbers bounce from the Democratic National Convention.
(CK gives the editorial page a bounce every week.
Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Abortion issue above Obama's 'pay grade'
Barack Obama and John McCain met in Rick Warren's Church on Saturday night and submitted to interviews about faith and politics with the Pastor that wrote the best-selling book "The Purpose Driven Life."
Though many believed that it was meant to be a debate it was more like mirrored one on one sessions where Warren asked the same questions of the two men that are likely to face each other on the ballot in the race for the White House this November.
Barack Obama got to go first and answer questions and the only time McCain and Obama were together was a time where they were briefly on stage together and shook hands and everyone hugged for a moment. Before the event many predicted this would be an easy win for Barack Obama as pundits claimed he would be very comfortable talking about issues of Faith. The consensus before the debate was that this would be a pretty tough venue for McCain as many believe he struggles when speaking on his faith and he has always struggled with the group commonly refered to as the "Religious Right."
The results weren't even close. Barack Obama was fortunate that this event was held on a Saturday in August and was only available on cable and pitted up against Michael Phelps and the Olympics on NBC as Barack Obama struggled to deliver definitive and clear cut answers as he attempted to nuance each question to try and please everyone. I watched this nonsense so you didn't have to and the candidates certainly showed that they are different. McCain was strong and decisive in his answers while Obama was not. That may give some Democrats pause and concern as he started his debate struggles back in the late stages of the primary race against Hillary Clinton. Obama needs to be more certain in his delivery when he has to react quickly and without the Teleprompter and the best example of the difference of the two men and their deliveries and confidence was presented when Pastor Warren quizzed the men on Roe v. Wade.
Warren tried this angle with Obama, "(There have been) 40 million abortions since Roe v. Wade. As a pastor, I have to deal with this all of the time, all of the pain and all of the conflicts. I know this is a very complex issue. Forty million abortions, at what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?"
Obama's answer took some time. He tells Warren, "Well, you know, I think that whether you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade."
He added, "But let me just speak more generally about the issue of abortion, because this is something obviously the country wrestles with. One thing that I'm absolutely convinced of is that there is a moral and ethical element to this issue. And so I think anybody who tries to deny the moral difficulties and gravity of the abortion issue, I think, is not paying attention. So that would be point number one."
He then continued and added points two and three and perhaps even four and five and ended with another Obama gaffe (as abortions have decreased in recent years) by claiming "The fact is that although we have had a president who is opposed to abortion over the last eight years, abortions have not gone down..."
It was a John Kerry nuanced like answer and compared with McCain's quick and definitive response to the same question it missed the mark by a wide margin no matter which side of the abortion argument you are on.
Here is how it was handled with McCain, Pastor Warren again asks, "Let's deal with abortion. I, as a pastor, have to deal with this all the time, every different angle, every different pain, all of the decisions and all of that. Forty million abortions since Roe v. Wade. Some people, people who believe that life begins at conception, believe that's a holocaust for many people. What point is a baby entitled to human rights?"
Mccain answered, "At the moment of conception." The crowd cheered of course and McCain added briefly, "I have a 25-year pro-life record in the Congress, in the Senate. And as president of the United States, I will be a pro-life president. And this presidency will have pro-life policies. That's my commitment. That's my commitment to you."
No matter what you believe on the matter, you know exactly where John McCain stands on the issue. Obama seemed afraid to give definitive answers as he seems to want to try and be on both sides of the "moral" issues. That makes him sound ridiculous. It was that way with many of the issues that were brought up during the forum and it was a tough Saturday night for Obama and a great night and a big win for McCain.
It may not matter though as few people actually saw the forum.
(Email CK Rairden at email@example.com)
Obama's naive response to Russia's action
A half a world a way, Russian tanks entered Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia late last week and by Monday Georgian officials said Russian troops had moved out of South Ossetia into Georgia proper, occupying the city of Gori.
President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia described the situation as war. "Russia is fighting a war with us in our own territory," he said in an interview with CNN.
Likely Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama took a break from his vacation in Hawaii to issue this benign statement on the matter, "I strongly condemn the outbreak of violence in Georgia, and urge an immediate end to armed conflict. Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to avoid an escalation to full-scale war. Georgia's territorial integrity must be respected. All sides should enter into direct talks on behalf of stability in Georgia, and the United States, the United Nations Security Council, and the international community should fully support a peaceful resolution to this crisis."
Oh the humanity! Can't we all just get along? The conflict is tailor- made to show a stark difference between Obama and likely Republican presidential nominee John McCain. McCain has called Russia's Vladimir Putin many things and nearly all of them are bad. He's called Putin "a totalitarian dictator" and famously said he looked into his eyes and saw three letters "K, G and B," a reference to Putin's former employer, the Soviet spy agency. That was a little McCain dig at George W. Bush, who once said he looked into Putin's eyes and "was able to get a sense of his soul."
And when the hostilities first erupted along the Georgia-Russia border, McCain was quick with a condemnation of Russia for their aggressions. McCain said, "Tensions and hostilities between Georgians and Ossetians are in no way justification for Russian troops crossing an internationally recognized border."McCain also called on "Russia to immediately and unconditionally withdraw its forces from the territory of Georgia."
Overnight somebody must have told Obama that Georgia is an American ally and McCain (surprise) had the more appropriate response. So Obama beefed up and came out with his amended, revised, and updated response. Obama's take two on Georgia-Russia: "I condemn Russia's aggressive actions and reiterate my call for an immediate ceasefire. Russia must stop its bombing campaign, cease flights of Russian aircraft in Georgian airspace, and withdraw its ground forces from Georgia."
That certainly sounds familiar. The McCain campaign has tried to paint Barack Obama as naive and certainly Obama appeared confused on how exactly to react to the invasion by Russia and looked exactly like a junior one term US Senator from Illinois. Democrats had better hope that Obama has taken some homework on his Hawaiian vacation.
Bad Week for Democrats
Senator John Edwards confirmed his affair with Rielle Hunter last Friday night. Edwards admitted to repeatedly lying during his Presidential campaign, and to his cancer-stricken wife Elizabeth Edwards. Hunter once worked for the Edwards campaign and received a big income for making videos that were broadcast online and that has some making all sorts of accusations of payoffs. The National Enquirer broke the story several weeks ago and the national media ignored it until Edwards confessed.
His explanation for the affair was weak and fruitless and he went on ABC's Nightline to try and give Bill Clinton like responses to justify his behavior. Edwards said in a statement, "being 99% honest is no longer enough." He also added in his statement admitting to the affair, "If you want to beat me up - feel free. You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself." I'm thinking some people would like to at least give that a try.
Everyone has sympathy for Elizabeth Edwards. She is fighting cancer and her health battles and the grueling schedule of helping her husband run for president would be difficult enough even if she had a faithful husband. According to John Edwards, Elizabeth knew of the affair in 2006 and that means she lied about it as well.
The logical conclusion hit Monday when Hillary Clinton supporters blamed Edwards for her losing in the primary to Barack Obama. Howard Wolfson, Hillary Clinton's former communications director, suggested that the lie Edwards told last year had lasting effects because it enabled him to stay in the race at a crucial time. Wolfson said that without Edwards complicating the contest "we would have won Iowa, and Clinton today would therefore have been the nominee."
I'm not certain that is true but Hillary does not seem to do well with philandering men.
(Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
The 'celebrity' ad is a stroke of brilliance
Paris Hilton and Britney Spears were matching train wreck celebrities that finally crashed and burned after a wild ride that had both blonde starlets near the top of the celebrity world.
The person that is now on top of the world of celebrities is not Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Aniston or even teen queen Miley Cyrus. At least that is how the John McCain camp sees it. They believe that Barack Obama is the top celebrity and that only means he will collapse. At least that is McCain's new ad strategy.
The latest advertisement released by Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign features shots of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and over the shots of the two pop culture icons a female narrator says, “He's the biggest celebrity in the world, but is he ready to lead?"
Many in Hollywood including Paris Hilton's mom immediately criticized the ad. Kathy Hilton said, "I've been asked again and again for my response to the now infamous McCain celebrity ad," Hilton told The Huffington Post. "I actually have three responses. It is a complete waste of the money John McCain's contributors have donated to his campaign. It is a complete waste of the country's time and attention at the very moment when millions of people are losing their homes and their jobs. And it is a completely frivolous way to choose the next President of the United States."
Actually, the ad was brilliant and it is shocking that the stumbling McCain camp came up with it. I'm not certain why Paris Hilton and her mom Kathy are offended, as the comparison will ring true for many. Barack Obama has no real accomplishments and like Paris Hilton is only enjoying his 15 minutes of fame. You don't have to take my word for it, though. A Feb. 24, 2005, Washington Post article begins: "There's nothing exotic or complicated about how phenoms are made in Washington, and, more to the point, how they are broken.”
“Andy Warhol said we all get our 15 minutes of fame," says Barack Obama. "I've already had an hour and a half. I mean, I'm so overexposed, I'm making Paris Hilton look like a recluse."
McCain's campaign reportedly is spending $140,000 a day to run the ad in battleground states and the ad has been broadcast 4,000 times in a dozen states at a cost of about $1.4 million, according to a firm that tracks campaign advertising.
Evan Tracey, who runs the Campaign Media Analysis Group of TNS Media Intelligence, told USA Today that the McCain campaign did not release the ad just for its "shock value" and then put it on a shelf. "It's on in 100% of the markets where they're up" with ads, he says.
Obama complained loudly once the ad started its run and immediately cried racism. He said, "What they're going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, oh, he's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. He doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills, you know."
McCain's campaign then answered and accused Obama of playing 'the race card,' citing his remarks that Republicans would try to scare voters by pointing out that he 'doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.'
It was a very odd and rather clumsy response from Obama and it has cost him dearly. He sounded rather foolish and made matters worse by responding to the ad. The advertisement has worked wonders as Obama now trails McCain in the Rasmussen Reports daily tracking poll.
In fact, the only person that should be offended is Britney Spears. Certainly she is a big time celebrity that crashed and burned for the world to see, but she actually sold millions of albums and was on top of her profession for many years before she was knocked to the ground by the fame and stupidity.
Comparing Obama to Hilton and Spears isn't racist, it is actually quite clever and from the looks of things so far, it is resonating with voters and it appears that mocking the fame of Obama and poking fun at his positive coverage by an adoring media might be a very good strategy for John McCain.
(One in a Landmark stable of rock stars of journalism, CK Rairden can be reached at email@example.com)
McCain gaining ground despite his campaign
Why isn't Barack Obama winning huge in the polls? The presumptive Democratic nominee is running a very good campaign while John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, can barely get out of his own way and might be running the worst campaign since Bob Dole in 1996. Yet the latest poll from USA Today Gallup shows that if the election were held today, John McCain would win the popular vote. That's not what you see on the nightly news or hear from the talking heads on cable television, but that's the latest from the Gallup poll.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) moved from being behind by six points among "likely" voters a month ago to a 4-point lead over Sen. Barack Obama, 49% to 45%, in the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll. The poll was taken over the weekend with all of those Barack Obama world tour images fresh in everyone's mind. Results are based on the survey of 791 likely voters. In other words, these are the folks that Gallup believes will vote in this year's election.
Right before nationally syndicated columnist Robert Novak announced on Monday that he has a brain tumor and will be seeking treatment and taking some time off from his column and his political work on television, he penned a column that took note of the difficult polling numbers for Obama.
He wrote, "Clearly, Obama has not yet convinced the people to accept a young, inexperienced African American as their president. Obama had virtually clinched the nomination when white working men in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia poured out to vote and comfortably delivered their states to Hillary Clinton. This was not because of unalterable affection for her. Obama's difficulty in reaching the 50 percent mark reflects an overwhelmingly white undecided vote of 10 to 15 percent."
Columnist Adam Nagourney is baffled as well and the headline in his Monday piece for the McCain-hating New York Times asks, "Why is Obama not improving in the polls?" Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster, said the statistics should serve as a reminder of the particular obstacles that Obama faces.
"Here's a 46-year-old African-American with a narrative that is very unusual and that few other Americans can relate to," he said. "Add to the fact that he has had four years in the United States Senate and very little international experience. That's a large leap for the American public to make."
Polls in July are not really tremendous indicators of the final tally in November and it is all speculation at this point, and certainly Obama should win this thing handily. But Barack burnout is right around the corner. This guy has been built up as not only the savior for America, but the savior for the world.
There is no chance he will live up to any of that and at some point the American voter and the rest of the people in America will turn on him. The real question for John McCain - will that be before or after November?
Veepstakes Heat Up for John McCain
According to the Chicago Sun Times, private polls show that if McCain picks formal rival Mitt Romney as a running mate that could make all the difference in Michigan. A McCain-Romney ticket carries the state by a moderately comfortable margin. With any other running mate, McCain loses Michigan."
The paper claims that “this is the principal reason why Romney has climbed to the top of Sen. John McCain's practical wish list for vice president is the possibility that he could bring Michigan's 17 electoral votes to the Republicans for the first time since 1988."
Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune notes another reason Michigan may flip to the GOP: "This normally reliable state for Democrats may not be so reliable this year as issues of race and class cloud the election and voters say they still know little about the Democratic nominee because of a botched primary that kept him away."
And Barack Obama's VP Choice Is. . .
Will Obama choose his former rival Hillary Clinton as a running mate? The New York Times speculates that there is mounting evidence that Obama's interest in Clinton for the post has faded considerably. According to the paper, Hillary sees the writing on the wall as well. They claim that "Clinton has told associates in recent days that she thinks there is little chance Obama will pick her and that she views the public pronouncements by some of Obama's aides that she is under review as nothing more than a courtesy."
So who will it be? Late Monday night, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine reportedly emerged as one of the campaign's potential finalists and he now is the favorite.
(Reach our right hand man at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Media has become Obama's biggest fan
Barack Obama is on his World Tour and his biggest fans are with him.
All three network anchors are following Barack Obama on his tour of Europe and once he finds his way out of Baghdad, the socialists in Europe will be cheering him on with record crowds. One would think this would be a good week for Barack Obama but thanks to the New York Times, some of the spotlight has shifted from Obama to the coverage of Obama.
That's not good for the doting network anchors or the networks in general. On Monday it was reported that David Shipley, an editor at the Times, rejected an editorial from John McCain, the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. The basic premise of the rejection, according to an e-mailed response to the McCain campaign, was that they didn't agree with it and they would only run the editorial if it was changed.
One key point of John McCain's Iraq policy is that there should be no reason to telegraph moves to the enemy in Iraq and therefore there should be no timetables set. As I understand his position, he seems more interested in winning the war than studying a calendar. The Times editors are still moping that America just might achieve victory in Iraq.
Here's what the New York Times told John McCain to do to get his op-ed published: "It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama's piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq. It would also have to lay out a clear plan for achieving victory with troops levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate."
So, in essence, the New York Times says they won't publish John McCain's response to Barack Obama's essay unless McCain tosses aside the key point of his entire policy. I wish I could work up some outrage on this travesty and poor management of an editorial page by the newspaper, but by rejecting the editorial the Times gave that story top billing on a day when Barack Obama was trying to show that he really is presidential by making a rare visit to Iraq.
Washington Post TV critic Howard Kurtz gave his opinion on CNN: "One irony of the internet age: the rejected piece will probably wind up getting far more attention by the controversy whipped up by Matt Drudge than if the New York Times had just gone ahead and published it," said Kurtz.
Surprise, the New York Times editor that rejected the McCain piece is a Democrat and an activist. So, who is this guy? Before moving over to the free press, David Shipley was a Clinton operative during the 1990s, and is currently married to Al Gore advisor Naomi Wolf. Is he biased, and is the New York Times biased? Sure, that's why they have an approval ranking that mirrors George W. Bush.
A Rasmussen Reports survey earlier this year found that just 24% of American voters have a favorable opinion of the New York Times. At the time of that survey, the Times was being criticized for an article it had run about McCain's ties to lobbyists. Sixty-six percent (66%) of those who were aware of the story in question believed it was an attempt by the paper to hurt the McCain campaign.
I'm not sure if there even really are any real fans of John McCain out there but don't expect fair coverage, as it won't happen. Take note, however, people that actually read and watch news shows on television are noticing the media cheerleaders. Though it is still unclear if they even care.
A poll notes that the idea that reporters are trying to help Obama win in November has grown by five percentage points over the past month and that is before his trip where the press are doting along and cuddling up with Obama.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey, taken just before the new controversy involving the Times erupted and this rare overseas trip found that 49% of voters believe most reporters will try to help the Democrat with their coverage, up from 44% a month ago.
The media bias for Obama will stay on high unless he really stumbles and looks so foolish that even they can't ignore it. Reporters have dropped their natural skepticism and instincts and have now just turned into cheerleaders and campaign props for Barack Obama. Will it turn before November? Don't count on it.
(Always on the right side, CK Rairden can be reached at email@example.com)
Obama's post 9/11 words were disturbing
You can't judge a book by its cover, right?
Barack Obama is on the cover of "The New Yorker" along with his wife Michelle and many will believe that it is not a pretty picture. The two are bumping fists (remember that whole controversy) and Obama is dressed in a turban while Michelle Obama has a rifle slung over her shoulder. An American flag burns in the fireplace. A picture of Osama bin Laden is above the fire where the American flag burns.
NBC's Athena Jones asked Obama this question right after the cover was published online. "The upcoming issue of the New Yorker, the July 21st issue, has a picture of you, depicting you and your wife on the cover. Have you seen it? If not, I can show it to you on my computer. It shows your wife Michelle with an Afro and an AK 47 and the two of you doing the fist bump with you in a sort of turban-type thing on top. I wondered if you've seen it or if you want to see it or if you have a response to it?"
Obama shrugged it off and said, "I have no response to that." Later he would release this through a spokesman, "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. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree." John McCain chimed in as well and denounced the cover.
If "The New Yorker" wanted attention, they certainly got it with this controversial cover. The magazine has already defended the cover cartoon as satire, but the cartoon is nothing, once you get past the controversial cover, it really gets frightening.
Empathy for the Enemy
In that famous New Yorker piece (yes, I read the whole thing so you wouldn't have to) that accompanies the satirical cover, writer Ryan Lizza takes a look at Sen. Barack Obama's rise, which includes this nugget, a post-9/11 op-ed Obama wrote in the Hyde Park Herald where Obama sounds like he has empathy for the enemy. This was published eight days after 9/11.
"Even as I hope for some measure of peace and comfort to the bereaved families," Obama wrote, "I must also hope that we as a nation draw some measure of wisdom from this tragedy. Certain immediate lessons are clear, and we must act upon those lessons decisively. We need to step up security at our airports. We must reexamine the effectiveness of our intelligence networks. And we must be resolute in identifying the perpetrators of these heinous acts and dismantling their organizations of destruction.
"We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness. The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.
"We will have to make sure, despite our rage, that any U.S. military action takes into account the lives of innocent civilians abroad. We will have to be unwavering in opposing bigotry or discrimination directed against neighbors and friends of Middle Eastern descent. Finally, we will have to devote far more attention to the monumental task of raising the hopes and prospects of embittered children across the globe, children not just in the Middle East, but also in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and within our own shores."
Paging Dr. Phil and Oprah.
Is this the leadership we can expect? Perhaps Barack Obama should try this.
"Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival."-- Winston Churchill.
"We, too, born to freedom, and believing in freedom, are willing to fight to maintain freedom. We, and all those who believe as deeply as we do, would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.”--Franklin Delano Roosevelt."
Would Barack Obama dub this cowboy diplomacy? "We're going to hold them by the nose and we're going to kick them in the ass."-- George S. Patton.
Or this? "In war, there is no substitute for victory."--Douglas MacArthur.
Simply put, the cover of the satirical cartoon of Barack Obama and his wife Michelle wasn't as scary as that long drawn out empathetic sappy response to the attacks on 9/11.
(There’s nothing sappy about CK. Talk to him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
McCain's strategy makes no sense
This was not a good week for the John McCain campaign and it likely spells trouble for the presumptive Republican nominee. His South America travels and his stops in Latin America make no sense as a campaign strategy. With little opposition for the world traveler John McCain, it made it quite simple for the Barack Obama campaign to turn it around and win the week. Expect a little bump for Barack Obama in the polls. It was yet another misstep from McCain and he likely figured it about half-way through the trip.
He ordered a campaign shake up as he did when he hit rock bottom in the chase for the Republican nomination. Exactly a year after a previous overhaul, the presumptive Republican nominee has placed Rick Davis on the bench (he's the campaign manager that bailed him out the first time) and handed day-to-day control to Steve Schmidt, a veteran of President George W Bush's 2004 successful re-election bid. It certainly can't hurt as the political notebook is all Obama this week.
Obama the Rock Star
Sen. Barack Obama will accept the Democratic nomination at the 75,000 seat Invesco Field in Denver instead of the Pepsi Center where the first three nights of the Democratic National Convention will be held. This is big and the images alone are priceless. It's a brilliant political move by the Obama team. By the coincidence of scheduling, Obama will also be accepting the Democratic nomination on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream speech," which is another home run for Obama.
"Sometimes our conventions don't feel like they are open to everybody," said Obama,. "For us to be able to do it at Invesco Field is an opportunity for 80,000 people, who might not be able to participate, to be able to get involved." The speech will be open to the public.
Jim Webb is Out: Obama's Search Team Begins To Vet
US Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) removed himself from the Veepstakes race, after the Obama campaign search committee informed him last week he was one of the contenders. "Last week I communicated to Senator Obama and his presidential campaign my firm intention to remain in the United States Senate, where I believe I am best equipped to serve the people of Virginia and this country. Under no circumstances will I be a candidate for Vice President ... I am also renewing my commitment to work hard to make sure that Senator Obama wins both Virginia and the presidency this November ... I will proudly campaign for him," explained Webb in a written statement.
A report from Atlantic claims that Webb balked because of the background check. Marc Ambinder reports that Webb was asked last week by Sen. Barack Obama's vice presidential vetting team to provide information they needed to begin their search into his background and that's when he took himself out of contention. A Democrat close to Webb said the senator "did not want to relive the vigors of a campaign so soon after his election to the Senate." It's a small loss for Obama. Webb would have not likely been give the veep spot.
Obama World Tour 2008
It appears that details of Barack Obama's upcoming overseas trip have leaked. While Sen. Barack Obama's campaign "is keeping the dates of its international trip a tightly guarded secret, details are beginning to leak out of foreign capitals," according to clever bloggers that have figured out a bit of the trip through each country's press.
Agence France-Press reports that French President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet with Obama at the Elysee Palace on Friday, July 25. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports Obama is expected to arrive in Israel on Tuesday, July 22 or Wednesday, July 23 for a two- or three-day visit to include a meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
And Der Spiegel says Obama is considering a major speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the site of a famous Ronald Reagan speech in 1987 in which the former president challenged then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down that wall."
Scary GOP Quote of the Week
Syndicated columnist Robert Novak has this quote from a GOP insider who claims to be a conservative and is now an Obama supporter. "The Republican Party is a dead rotting carcass with a few decrepit old leaders stumbling around like zombies in a horror version of 'Weekend at Bernie’s,’ handcuffed to a corpse." Right now, I'd say that is a very accurate description.
(Reach rock star CK Rairden with an email to email@example.com)
Democrats seem sick, tired and out of touch
Sick and Tired and Out of Touch
Who knew Democrats could fall out of touch so quickly?
As gas levels off at around $4.00 per gallon in most parts of the country, a full 90% of American motorists now say that they fully expect gas prices to cause them financial harm over the summer. Those polled add that they believe that the government has placed us in this situation with inaction and the voting public is no longer afraid to drill for oil and build refineries. They want action now.
John McCain says drill, Barack Obama says no. Obama's fix is for American motorists to suffer at the pump and every now and again he will tax the rich and try to pop off another stimulus check sometime after he is elected.
McCain's answer is simple and to the point and rings true to what is now the number one issue in the race. Obama's convoluted mess of answers won't please anyone. Can Democrats really blow this thing? They are one out-o-touch bunch and their fearless leader in the US Senate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), proclaims that the hidden cost of coal and oil is that they make us sick.
"The one thing we fail to talk about is those costs that you don't see on the bottom line. That is coal makes us sick, oil makes us sick; it's global warming. It's ruining our country, it's ruining our world. We've got to stop using fossil fuel."
Gas prices are the number one issue in this campaign right now and unless prices drop sharply and quickly that will continue. All else will fall below this issue and Democrats seem clueless on how angry voters are now that they are filling their tanks with their hard earned cash. Democrats seem astonished that they are being blamed for the inaction that placed drivers in this mess.
Obama's Iraq Problem
May and June will show the lowest two-month total for US troop deaths in the five-year history of our involvement in the country. How will Barack Obama handle the news? George Packer of the New Yorker (yes, the New Yorker) says he is out of touch on Iraq, just like with the gas price crunch.
Packer writes, "With the general election four months away, Obama's rhetoric on the topic [of Iraq] now seems outdated and out of touch, and the nominee-apparent may have a political problem concerning the very issue that did so much to bring him this far. He doubtless realizes that his original plan, if implemented now, could revive the badly wounded Al Qaeda in Iraq, reenergize the Sunni insurgency, embolden Moqtada al-Sadr to recoup his militia's recent losses to the Iraqi Army, and return the central government to a state of collapse."
Said one McCain adviser: "He is in a bad place. Caught between his promise to his base and the reality on the ground. Immediate withdrawal isn't a good place to be."
Expect an Obama flip-flop soon on Iraq.
Barack Obama's Military Experience
With what seems like a sure victory in hand, Democrats may have indeed decided that they want to mess this thing up. One-time Hillary Clinton supporter and failed presidential candidate Wesley Clark decided to defend Barack Obama by attacking John McCain's military record. Given Barack Obama's highly decorated service in the US Military (he doesn't have one), this seems like an odd strategy. "I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president," Clark said on the CBS Sunday morning news show "Face the Nation.”
McCain, at a news conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, said that he thought remarks like Clark's were "unnecessary" but that the question of an apology was up to Obama.
"If that's the kind of campaign that Senator Obama and his surrogates and supporters want to engage in, I understand that," he said. "But it doesn't reduce the price of a gallon of gas by a penny" or do anything else to help Americans.
This seems to be the pattern by Obama and McCain has called him on it. He added a moment later, "I know that General Clark's comment is not an isolated incident. I have no way of knowing what involvement Senator Obama has in that issue."
Obama comically added this in a speech where he tried to educate Americans on how to be patriotic, from Independence of all places.
"I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign," he said. "And I will not stand idly by when I hear others question mine."
On Tuesday, Clark reiterated that he would not back down from his statement. Obama remains silent for now, but it looks like he will have to toss Wesley Clark under that very crowded bus here soon.
(CK Rairden always rides on the right side of The Landmark bus. Emai him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Associated Press hints world to end soon
The Electoral College scoreboard has moved a bit in the favor of Democratic presumptive nominee Barack Obama. Many expected Obama would get a substantial bump and a good-sized jump in the polling numbers over Republican presumptive nominee John McCain after he finally dispatched Hillary Clinton after a long and protracted battle. It took a bit and many polls are showing a close race but a shock Newsweek poll claimed that Obama was ahead of McCain by a stunning 15 points.
The poll is an obvious outlier but still the shift is prominent and Obama understands now that he must just attempt to stay away from tough questions. His strategy now seems to be to avoid as many debates as possible and only speak at very controlled events.
Will it work? The first Electoral College Scoreboard had Obama with a 282-256 lead and that one gave every close race to John McCain. Even with that, Barack Obama has now expanded on that, even with the toss up states. He still looks very good in Missouri and has a slight lead in Colorado. For now, those will move to the Obama column. It's also time to move New Mexico over to Obama as well.
Obama still can't seem to get Michigan in his column and that might be trouble if this tightens up. Take note though, he has the lead in Ohio and in Pennsylvania. Virginia is razor thin, but for now it stays with Obama. With the shifts in the various states, this call is for Obama and if the election were held right now he would skate though with 289 Electoral College votes to John McCain's 249 Electoral College Votes. Expect the spread to grow. McCain might need a miracle and he could get those in the "Town Hall" debates he desires, but Obama is trying to avoid those at all costs.
Ivan Foley and
ABC News' Christianne Klein reports that at a breakfast with Republican insiders at the Capitol Hill Club on Monday, former White House senior aide Karl Rove referred to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, as "coolly arrogant."
"Even if you never met him, you know this guy," Rove said, per Christianne Klein. "He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."
Wait, sans cigarette, wouldn't that be Ivan Foley?
Barack Obama Doctors the Presidential Seal
Last week, Barack Obama unveiled a new campaign seal. It was basically a presidential seal that had a bald eagle clutching an olive branch and arrows in its talons, but instead of a shield covering the center of the eagle's body, Obama's had the campaign's trademark "O." ABC News reports that rather than the words “Seal of the President of the United States” around the circumference, “Obama for America” and “www.barackobama.com” lined the top and bottom. Yikes!
It didn't really go over all that well and the criticism flew of arrogance and pretension. And get this, the Latin “Vero Possumus” was arched between the eagle's wings, meaning “Yes we can,” the Obama slogan and rally chant. A CNN report (yes - even CNN gets it) noted that "Many wondered whether a seal with Latin phrasing no less - was the best idea for a candidate fighting for the working class vote and trying to fend off allegations of elitism."
No kidding, a presidential candidate re-designing and using his own "Presidential seal" for campaign purposes didn't go over well.
It was so bad that Obama is dumping it. Obama's communications director said Monday that the presidential seal the campaign unveiled last week at a meeting with Democratic governors and wouldn't be seen again. I'm guessing it will, in a commercial aimed at Obama.
It's the End of the World
As We Know It
This is the lede of an Associated Press story. "Is everything spinning out of control? Midwestern levees are bursting. Polar bears are adrift. Gas prices are skyrocketing. Home values are abysmal. Air fares, college tuition and health care border on unaffordable. Wars without end rage in Iraq, Afghanistan and against terrorism...The can-do, bootstrap approach embedded in the American psyche is under assault. Eroding it is a dour powerlessness that is chipping away at the country's sturdy conviction that destiny can be commanded with sheer courage and perseverance…"
Whew! Good to see the Associated Press is a glass half-full organization. It's hard to believe that large daily newspapers are firing people and complaining about advertising revenues with that "can-do" attitude they are promoting. Or perhaps it is that "increased competition.”
(When he isn’t advising Obama on how to blow the election, reach CK via email to email@example.com)
Obama says high gas prices could help us
In an election that should all be about the American economy, voters may not allow this to be "It's the Economy, Stupid" this election season.
Gas prices have people that drive to work and travelers quite upset and if prices continue to surge, that will be the central and specific issue that voters will be honing in on in November.
For the past two weeks, Casa del Rairden has been mobile. Twenty years ago, the lovely and gracious Karla was foolish enough to say "I do" to me in a small church on the top of a mountain in Colorado. With that in mind, we have spent the last two weeks reminiscing and following the same route along the same highways and byways that we took 20 years ago.
We started in Colorado and moved west through the Rocky Mountains into Utah and then to Las Vegas and finally to the Pacific Ocean. This week is California week on the 20-year anniversary trip. During the 1988 trip, gas was just $1.08 per gallon. On this trip we have listened to travelers rail on the high gas prices that have ranged from $3.77 to $5.69 per gallon. Drivers want to know, what caused the price to spike to five times what it was in 1988? There's plenty of blame to go around but the central issue is that environmentalists and the "not in my back yard" (NIMBY) people have won every battle and America has decided not to explore or drill for our own oil. America has failed to build refineries and we are now paying the price at the pump.
And when you are paying up to $5.69 a gallon for gas, one tends to re-examine priorities. Last month's Gallup poll found that attitudes have changed on drilling for oil. One year ago the results of a CBS News/New York Times poll asked if participants approved of drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). At the time 57 percent of respondents disapproved while 39 percent supported the idea. Here's what happens when Americans are being forced to use their hard-earned money to put gas and diesel in their tanks and to drive the exact same distances they drove 20 years ago for four to five times the price. This month, a Gallup poll revealed that by a healthy 57 to 41 percent margin, Americans favor drilling in U.S. coastal and wilderness areas that are currently off limits.
In another poll, the percentage calling soaring gas prices a financial burden is now at 77 percent. Even John McCain is sort of on board now to explore and drill. He has always been against drilling in ANWR but he is a breath away from changing that position. He has already figured out that he must move towards exploration. He says he wants to end a federal moratorium on offshore drilling and create "additional incentives" for states to approve new exploration ventures.
In a press release on Sunday McCain said, "Tomorrow I'll call for lifting the federal moratorium for states that choose to permit exploration,” McCain said. “I think that this and perhaps providing additional incentives for states to permit exploration off their coasts would be very helpful in the short term in resolving our energy crisis.”
McCain has a huge opening and advantage here but he needs to act fast. He may want to mention that we have more oil in the shale of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming than there is in the Middle East (800 billion barrels) but environmentalists have made it illegal to touch it. McCain must note that we haven't built an oil refinery in more than 30 years and have reduced in half those we have. This and an Arctic National Wildlife Refuge change of position gets him back in the game as his opponent is out of touch on this key issue.
Barack Obama still favors high gas prices as a way to curb your driving. Last week In an interview with CNBC, Obama said he would have preferred higher gasoline prices happened more gradually, but he is fine with American's pain at the pump. In other words, Obama said he is okay with American drivers having to pony up the cash for gas, but he sure wishes the price could have stayed a bit lower until after the November elections.
Obama said during the interview, "I think that we have been slow to move in a better direction when it comes to energy usage. And the president, frankly, hasn't had an energy policy. And as a consequence, we've been consuming energy as if it's infinite. We now know that our demand is badly outstripping supply with China and India growing as rapidly as they are. So..."
The interviewer then asked, "So could these high prices help us?" The Illinois Senator agreed and said, "I think that I would have preferred a gradual adjustment."
Ouch. Advantage, McCain.
(CK can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Remember, Electoral College still the key
This is going to be a Barack Obama landslide, right?
It might just be as advertised, but as the Democrats learned in 2000 the victory and the road to the White House lies in the Electoral College scoreboard and that big race to 270 Electoral College votes will deliver the White House to either Obama or Republican John McCain.
Can the US Senator from Arizona actually pull this off?
It might be tough but there is a numbers strategy that can work for McCain. Barack Obama won't win even one southern state (unless you count Virginia). He is in a bit of trouble in the traditional blue state of Michigan and he will need some of the mountain west states for a sure victory. Barack Obama will need to do what John Kerry couldn't accomplish: he will need to win the state of Ohio.
The battleground state of Missouri is also very important to both McCain and Obama and is one of the keys to the race. The state of Virginia might just turn blue this election season, as early indications are that it is a close race in that state. While Obama is the rock star of the race, John McCain is a rock star in New Hampshire and their four Electoral College votes might turn red in November.
The first prediction for 2008 is that Obama will carry Ohio and Missouri and Virginia but lose New Hampshire, New Mexico and Michigan. That favors Obama with a 282-256 win.
McCain has his work cut out for him and will need Ohio or a Pennsylvania upset for his strategy. Keep in mind that Missouri will be very close as will Virginia. One warning, this is a very early analysis and will continue to develop and we will continue to add up the Electoral College.
John McCain is Reading: Echoes "National Malaise 2.0™"
Three weeks ago I opined on the Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter connection writing in part, "Enter the "National Malaise 2.0™". Barack Obama, like Jimmy Carter is tired of you and your SUV and even your air conditioner. It appears he believes that there is just not enough suffering going on in America and if he is elected president, Obama seems ready to usher in the "National Malaise 2.0™".
John McCain picked up on that on Monday night. He told NBC's Brian Williams that while Obama might criticize him for representing a third Bush term, Obama seems to be running for a second Carter term. He said on NBC News, "(The American voter) knows me. They know that I have fought for restraining spending, which Senator Obama has been a big part of, with earmarking projects. They know that I have been a strong fiscal conservative, and they know I understand the challenges that they face."
He added, "They need a little break from--from their gasoline taxes, and they -- and they know that -- we've got to get spending under control. And we've got to become independent of foreign oil. Sen. Obama says that I'm running for Bush's third term. It seems to me he's running for Jimmy Carter's second."
Meet Me at the Town Hall
John McCain wasted no time after Obama dispatched Hillary Clinton and says he is ready to debate Barack Obama. And in a move that might cut out the Obama media, he would love to have the debates be "Town Hall" style where ordinary folks get to ask the questions. It's a decent move by John McCain as Barack Obama is weakest when he is hit with difficult questions. He coasted through most of the debates this campaign season and during one ABC debate where he was asked difficult questions he stumbled mightily and then complained afterwards that he thought the questions were unfair and stacked against him. Hillary Clinton was the clear winner of that debate and Obama decided after that to try and limit the debate schedule as best he could.
In a "Dear Barack" letter, McCain wrote: "These town halls should be attended by an audience of between two to four hundred selected by an independent polling agency, could be sixty to ninety minutes in length, have very limited moderation by an independent local moderator, take blind questions from the audience selected by the moderator and allow for equally proportional time for answers by each of us."
This would be a tough format for Obama and make no mistake, this race is all about Obama. McCain's best shot is to continue to put doubts about Obama in the minds of the voters.
(CK Rairden penned this column while on vacation in Colorado. What he’s on vacation from we are not sure. Reach him by email to email@example.com)
Clinton a target because he stands in Obama's way
Call it the extreme bimbo eruption 2.0. Though most people thought the reported sexual escapades of Bill Clinton had passed into the night like the 1990's and the dot com boom and bust, it appears that Vanity Fair would like to re-introduce the gossip that surrounds the former president and his lady friends. This time around he gets a kick up on the hotness scale from Monica Lewinsky, as the Vanity Fair scorcher that lambastes Bubba delivers Gina Gershon up as a possible match for the ex-president.
Yes, that Gina Gershon, the actress. The article only hints that Clinton may have had something going on with Gina but it does claim that Bill Clinton was so out of control that a friend had to stage a bimbo intervention and get him to be more cautious. All of the quotes in the article were from anonymous sources. The article, titled 'The Comeback Id,' takes up a whopping 10,000 words in this month's magazine and hammers Clinton on all fronts.
And what would all of that be without a bit of tawdriness from the man that just might have been First Lady had Hillary Clinton ran a better campaign.For good measure the author of the long-winded article (a man named Todd Purdum who just happens to be the hubby of former Clinton mouthpiece Dee Dee Meyers) tosses Belinda Stronach into the mix. According to Purdeum she is a "twice-divorced billionaire auto-parts heiress and member of the Canadian Parliament."He also notes that she is twenty years younger than Clinton.
Other women are mentioned from coast to coast and all points in between. Bill Clinton was furious with the piece and struck back hard against the magazine slamming everything from the Dee Dee Meyers connection to the fact that the piece breaks "no new ground". (Hence the Bimbo Eruption 2.0). Clinton aide Jay Carson responded with his own lengthy statement and basically calls the piece tabloid trash and claims it is "a tawdry, anonymous quote-filled attack piece.”
Gershon's not very happy either. "Todd Purdum's insinuation is a lie and is irresponsible journalism. We are demanding a retraction," says Gershon's representative, Mara Buxbaum. The Hollywood translation, "I'm no bimbo eruption.”
With the Barack Obama love affair it's not hard to understand why the media has decided to attack Bill Clinton, but Bubba seems quite stunned that his former pals are now ready to toss him aside. "It's part of the national media's attempt to nail Hillary for Obama," Clinton said this week after the article was published online. "It's the most biased press coverage in history. It's another way of helping Obama."
As somebody said, "The Clintons were the media's old darlings. The reason for the negative media attention is that she is now standing in the way of the media's new darling."
Every Four Years
Every four years someone in Hollywood claims they are leaving America if a Republican wins the White House. This year it is Susan Sarandon as she told John Hiscock of London's Telegraph newspaper that she'd consider moving to Italy or Canada if John McCain wins over Barack Obama. In an interview to promote the British release of the Speed Racer movie and the DVD release of her anti-Iraq war film, In the Kingdom of Elah, Sarandon fumed: "If McCain gets in, it's going to be very, very dangerous".
She continued, "It's a critical time, but I have faith in the American people. If they prove me wrong, I'll be checking out a move to Italy. Maybe Canada, I don't know. We're at an abyss." Sarandon bizarrely added she simply would feel unsafe in New York City because of McCain's "statements regarding foreign policy and his volatile temper."
Barack the Uniter
Barack Obama has finally been forced to quit the racist church he has attended for the past twenty years. If you'll recall Obama didn't realize his church was filled with America-bashing bigots, he just learned it when he watched it on television. His eyes were opened this week when a Catholic Priest named Rev. Michael Pfleger went on a sexist and bigoted rant against Hillary Clinton and the rest of America. Later it would be revealed that Michael Pfleger said from the pulpit, "I also believe that America is the greatest sin against God." Obama said that type of language was too divisive and he is a uniter.
He then dished these quotes to the Chicago Reader. "The right wing talks about this but they keep appealing to that old individualistic bootstrap myth: get a job, get rich, and get out. Instead of investing in our neighborhoods, that's what has always happened.”
More of Barack bringing America together,“The right wing, the Christian right, has done a good job of building these organizations of accountability, much better than the left or progressive forces have. But it's always easier to organize around intolerance, narrow-mindedness, and false nostalgia." Maybe Barack Obama was paying attention in church after all.
(Email CK with a note to firstname.lastname@example.org)
College kids, clueless at history, support Obama
Memorial Day weekend brought quite a revelation. The man who would be president, the junior Senator from Illinois, hasn't visited the troops in Iraq for over two years. That means that Barack Obama has yet to even visit the troops in Iraq after declaring his candidacy and announcing that he wants to be elected as the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. The Associated Press noted on Monday that Republican presumptive nominee John McCain sharply criticized Obama for not having been to Iraq since 2006, and said they should visit the war zone together.
"Look at what happened in the last two years since Senator Obama visited and declared the war lost," the GOP presidential nominee-in-waiting told The Associated Press in an interview, noting that the Illinois senator's last trip to Iraq came before the surge that McCain supported that has been credited with the newfound success in Iraq.
"He really has no experience or knowledge or judgment about the issue of Iraq and he has wanted to surrender for a long time," the Arizona senator added. "If there was any other issue before the American people, and you hadn't had anything to do with it in a couple of years, I think the American people would judge that very harshly." McCain then said that the two should visit the war zone together.
"I go back every few months because things are changing in Iraq," he said. McCain even questioned whether Obama has ever been briefed by Petraeus. "I would also seize that opportunity to educate Senator Obama along the way."
John McCain's campaign has been very impressive in pointing out the shortcomings of Obama. While McCain is still at a great disadvantage in his run for the White House, if he continues to be aggressive and point out the inexperience and hypocrisy of Obama he may make this quite interesting.
U.S. students would fail (as in receive an “F”) if they were graded on their knowledge of the history of the United States of America, according to results from a survey that tested the knowledge of young people on war-related questions from U.S. history.
A 60-question multiple-choice exam focusing on history, government and economics was administered by the University of Connecticut's Department of Public Policy to more than 14,000 randomly selected seniors and freshmen on 50 campuses of private and public universities across the country.
The survey showed that most of the college students were clueless from the Revolutionary War to the current war in Iraq and all points in between. They equally failed in civics and were just as naive when it came to economics. But they are very good at telling you they are supporting Barack Obama as they want to return America back to the “great country it once was.” Just a question, wouldn't you need to know enough history to know what made America great if you are hoping to “return” the country to greatness?
Recounting the Recount
HBO has a film running this month called “Recount” that tries to detail the 2000 presidential election and the Florida fiasco that followed. The film runs almost two full hours and so you won't have to watch it, I gave it a look over the weekend. It is two hours of my life I will never get back. It wasn't interesting, compelling or revealing and gave no real behind the scenes looks at the election and the lawsuits that followed at Al Gore tried to sue his way to the White House.
Here's a glimpse at why it was so awful. When asked by Howard Kurtz on Sunday's Reliable Sources how she felt, "as a citizen," when "the Supreme Court stepped in and essentially made George W. Bush President?", actress Laura Dern, who plays Katherine Harris in the film said, "As a citizen, I felt devastated because there were uncounted votes. And I feel so proud as an American to consider my country being a place where voice (is) always heard and that is what was so devastating about this recount was that I left the experience with a real disillusionment about the process…”
Okay, let's try this one more time. Every count made of the votes had George W. Bush winning Florida and the White House, even an independent newspaper study that counted, recounted and looked at every angle. The lede of an April 4, 2001 USA Today story headlined, "Newspapers' recount shows Bush prevailed” has this:
“George W. Bush would have won a hand count of Florida's disputed ballots if the standard advocated by Al Gore had been used, the first full study of the ballots reveals.” Won by 1,665 votes -- more than triple his official 537-vote margin -- if every dimple, hanging chad and mark on the ballots had been counted as votes, a USA TODAY/Miami Herald/Knight Ridder study shows.”
(Test Ck’s sense of history at email@example.com)
Are we about to see the second coming of JC?
Is Barack Obama the next Jimmy Carter?
It's an easy argument to make. Like Jimmy Carter, Obama has already telegraphed how he will handle foreign policy with enemies of the state. Obama says he plans on speaking with dictators, despots and terrorists and he will negotiate with all. Like Carter, Obama will negotiate from a point of weakness. There will be no "peace through strength" as President Ronald Reagan once used to win the Cold War, as Obama has indicated that he will talk to any dictator at any time with no pre-conditions.
Obama's campaign is also very similar to Carter's as it seems to be based on nothing more than an emotional connection. America is fed up with President George W. Bush and it appears that most voters have had it with the GOP as a whole. In 1976, America blamed all Republicans for the Watergate scandal and a disgraced Richard Milhouse Nixon for the country's struggles. And President Gerald Ford, the man that was given the job after Nixon resigned, was looked at as a bumbling and clumsy fool.
Enter Jimmy Carter. The peanut farmer took office by proclaiming, "We will never lie to you." Obama's slogan is similar and reads, "Change we can believe in.”
Will it be a Jimmy Carter like change? After the Georgia peanut farmer took over, the country immediately went into a tailspin. The phrases "Misery Index" and “National Malaise” were entered into the American lexicon. As Carter's presidency spiraled downward, and right before Carter would bungle the Iran Hostage Crisis with his version of "diplomacy,” he gave what would later be referred to as the malaise speech. With long gas lines, a fuel crisis and double-digit inflation and interest rates skyrocketing Carter went on national television and said this to the American people. "I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy.... I do not refer to the outward strength of America, a nation that is at peace tonight everywhere in the world, with unmatched economic power and military might."
He added, "The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation." He concluded, "I'm asking you for your good and for your nation's security to take no unnecessary trips, to use carpools or public transportation whenever you can, to park your car one extra day per week, to obey the speed limit, and to set your thermostats to save fuel."
Enter the "National Malaise 2.0™". Barack Obama, like Jimmy Carter is tired of you and your SUV and even your air conditioner. It appears he believes that there is just not enough suffering going on in America and if he is elected president, Obama seems ready to usher in the "National Malaise 2.0™". The Democratic presidential candidate was in Oregon over the weekend, meeting with the tree hugger crowd and during a speech channeled Carter to those gathered at a political rally.
He told the masses, "We can't drive our SUVs and you know, eat as much as we want and keep our homes on you know, 72 degrees at all times, and whether we're living in the desert or we're living in the tundra, and then just expect that every other country's going say OK. You guys go ahead and keep on using 25 percent of the world's energy. Even though you only account for 3 percent of the population, and we'll be fine. Don't worry about us. That's not that's not leadership. That's not going to happen."
Oh the humanity! Obama is coming after your SUV, your Big Mac and your air conditioner. In a stunning development, a Republican actually noticed this and was willing to go on record. House Republican Leader John Boehner said, "As much as he tries to present himself as something new, Obama's entire campaign is built on vague promises that would return America to the era of Jimmy Carter: higher taxes, higher gas prices, and weak national security. He refuses to address the implications of the promises and policies he promotes, and voters are taking notice."
I'm not certain that voters are taking notice, many seem to be running on sheer emotion and that favors Obama. Barack seems like an emotional fellow himself that is prone to saying whatever comes to his mind and then when called on it complains loudly that his comments are off limits and he shouldn't be criticized. Anytime he is challenged on the issues he resorts to moaning and complaining that he is being treated unfairly. He would later call John Boehner's comments, "A smear.”
Can Obama channel Carter and keep emotions of voters high enough going into November to defeat John McCain? Right now he has to be the favorite to win in November and usher in the "National Malaise 2.0™" beginning on Jan. 20, 2009.
Paul supporters will be fun, but unsuccessful
The Democratic Party used to have the patent on crazy with their left-wing fringe of the party providing entertainment and fodder for pundits and political observers everywhere.
The tables may change a bit this presidential election season, though as the Republican Convention might see a hostile takeover attempt. The followers of Ron Paul, a ten-term US Congressman from Texas that ran for the Republican Party nomination from an isolationist position, are promising mayhem at the Republican Party convention.
According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, the forces of Rep. Ron Paul have been organizing across the country to stage an embarrassing public revolt against Sen. John McCain when Republicans gather for their national convention in Minnesota at the beginning of September.
According to the report, they hope to demonstrate their disagreements with McCain vocally at the convention through platform fights and an attempt to get Paul a prominent speaking slot. Paul, who's running unopposed in his home Texas district for an 11th House term, still has some $5 million in war funds and has instructed his followers that their struggle is not about a single election, but a long-term revolution for control of the Republican Party.
The supporters of Ron Paul are so far to the right of the conservative wing of the GOP that many share the same mindset with Barack Obama's nutty pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Many of the supporters believe that 9/11 was an inside job carried out by the US Government. Like Wright, many of them are conspiracy kooks and these are the folks that want to take over the Republican Party.
Granted the GOP is at its weakest point since Gerald Ford and perhaps even Richard Nixon, but they are not really ripe for a takeover from what is basically one of the many "crazy wings" of the Libertarian Party that have swerved off course and have decided to try to commandeer the Republican Party.
They won't have any success, but it should provide some entertainment.
GOP Headaches Continue
Next up for a GOP headache is Bob Barr. The former Republican congressman from Georgia, announced plans to run for the Libertarian party's presidential nomination on Monday. Barr helped lead the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. But Barr left the Republican Party in 2006, disillusioned by what he said was its failure to restrain government growth and by what he considered affronts to civil liberties. He became a sharp critic of the Patriot Act and made his way all the way over to the Libertarian Party.
The Associated Press claims his candidacy could take some votes from McCain. They report in a 'news story' that "his criticisms of the party might add to pressure on McCain not to move too far toward the center." I'm not certain Barr will have any impact at all on the presidential race. There are some conservatives that have already stated they would never vote for John McCain under any circumstances and some claimed they would vote for Hillary over McCain. Since she is unlikely to make the Democratic presidential ticket, many of those might slide over and support Barr's run. But McCain isn't looking for hardcore right wing support. He will appease some conservatives as best he can but it appears that he believes the only way for him to win in November is to attract Independents. It's the right strategy, pandering to people that would support Barr is a recipe for a blowout loss for the GOP.
Democrats and Denver
Who will be the Democratic nominee for president? Neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton can capture enough delegates to win the thing outright so Obama has devised a plan where he declares himself the winner regardless of the votes. The only hope for the GOP in November is the zoo that is the Democratic Party. This column is being penned on the eve of the West Virginia primary and Clinton will win that one big.
Clinton holds a huge edge in West Virginia in the recent polls and leads by an average of 36 points, according to three voter surveys cited by the Real Clear Politics Web site. Polling also gives her a 30-point lead in Kentucky, which will vote May 20. She is also favored on June 1 in Puerto Rico, which votes in a primary but not the general election.
So, if you are keeping up, Obama is getting ready to lose three straight states by massive margins. He will then declare himself the winner. If that works it will be interesting to see if Hillary Clinton sets fire to the party on her way out and sets up her run for 2012.
(CK Rairden can be reached via email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
McCain has a chance in what was supposed to be the Dems' year
Can John McCain win? That's the question I get asked more than any these days.
As Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continue to slug it out, damaging each other with each passing day, many wonder if the old man from Arizona can pull it off. This election year should be an absolute landslide for the Democrats. They will pick up seats in the US House of Representatives and they will pick up seats in the US Senate.
The GOP had it all between 2002 and 2006, and they were supposed to be small government conservatives that would get spending and earmarks under control, they were supposed to shrink the power of the Federal government and the Republicans in Washington should have moved to give more power to individual citizens and the local and state governments.
They failed on all counts and frankly they have no one but themselves to blame. The Republican Party is clueless at the moment and they seem to not know where to turn. Can someone like John McCain actually turn the party around? The short answer is no. But as dark as the future appears to be for Republicans, McCain is the only member of the party that has any chance of helping the GOP keep control of the White House in November.
He has often been dubbed a “maverick” for bucking the Republican party and many conservatives loathe him for his stances on immigration, his earlier stances on taxes and his assault on free speech from that ridiculous McCain-Feingold law that limits American citizens’ speech and what they can say for or against political candidates during election season.
But in an ironic twist, McCain is the last best hope for the party to have any kind of say in how things are run for the next four years.
Barack Obama says he wants to reach across party lines and bring the country together. The idea is absurd, as he has never even tried to work with Republicans on any issue. Obama is the classic liberal. He wants high taxes, more government and he favors appeasement over peace through strength. He is to the left of Hillary Clinton, and she is a borderline socialist who believes that government has the answers for all of the issues facing America no matter how big or small. She is a divisive and polarizing figure as well.
John McCain has a history of reaching out to Democrats, so he likely has the better argument for bi-partisnaship. He actually hates Washington and its spending habits, and is quite liberal on taxes and immigration while also holding some conservative beliefs, including the strong belief that this still is a country worth fighting for. He is an enigma in American politics of the 21st century. But can he win? It's too early to tell and it really depends on how nasty the race turns, if and when the Democrats choose a candidate. But he does have a shot in what could have been a landslide victory for the Democrats.
In short, he is the only Republican that even has a chance.
Barack Obama has finally denounced his spiritual mentor and father figure, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. The America bashing preacher was having a blast last weekend trying to prove to America that he was right and all of us were wrong. He again reiterated all that he had said before. He detests America and all it stands for, he believes that we deserved 9/11 and believes in a host of other crackpot theories like the government introduced AIDS into the black community. He had said it all before and unless Obama sleeps through church he had heard it all before. Last week, he tried to say he was shocked that this was what Wright felt. He held a quick press conference to try and smooth things over with some typical political pandering.
"The person [Wright] I saw yesterday [last Monday at the National Press Club] was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church. Now, I've already denounced the comments that had appeared in these previous sermons. As I said, I had not heard them before. And I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia, explaining that he has done enormous good in the church.”
He added, "But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS, when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century, when he equates the United States wartime efforts with terrorism, then there are no excuses. They offend me. They rightly offend all Americans. And they should be denounced. And that's what I'm doing very clearly and unequivocally here today."
Does he really expect anyone to believe this? Of course he knew exactly how Wright felt.
(Email CK at email@example.com)
When it comes to his pastor, Obama still doesn't get it
I don't believe that anyone has had a worse week than Barack Obama.
The one time "magical man" that was all set to join the country together with his magnificent wisdom and brilliant set of standards that would "transcend race" is again caught in a trap that was set for him by his own inaction and the words of his spiritual mentor and father figure, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. The former pastor of the church that Barack Obama and his entire family still attend was exposed on Monday. Again.
One month ago, I wrote that I believed that Barack Obama needed to make this problem go away, permanently. I thought his best approach was to distance himself not from the words of this pastor, but from the man himself. All it would have taken was three words, "I was wrong."
He refused to say that and he still doesn't get it. Wright went on a media blitz over the weekend with three separate high profile appearances starting with a PBS interview. Wright was in his element with that interview that was basically a forum for him to give a speech on how he was a victim. On his words from the pulpit being exposed on cable television countless times Wright complained, "I felt it was unfair. I felt it was unjust. I felt it was untrue. I felt that those who were doing that were doing it for some devious reasons."
For the record, all of the words that were pulled and played over and over were directly from Reverend Wright from the pulpit and they were made available for sale to the public though the church's website. ABC News and Fox News put out the money and bought the DVD of Wright's greatest hits and then exposed his beliefs that America is a racist country that is involved in terrorism. I'm not certain how that is unfair, in fact it seems that Wright profited from the deal. He said he sold it for profit.
So how did Obama respond? He appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. "Do you think that Reverend Wright is just the victim here?" Wallace asked Obama. He answered, "No. I think that people were legitimately offended by some of the comments that he had made in the past. The fact he's my former pastor I think makes it a legitimate political issue. So I understand that."
Obama then complained. "I think that it is also true that to run a snippet of 30-second sound bites, selecting out of a 30-year career, simplified and caricatured him and caricatured the church. And I think that was done in a fairly deliberate way, and that is unfortunate, because as I've said before, I have strongly denounced those comments that were the subject of so much attention. I wasn't in church when he made them."
What was really unfortunate, at least for Barack Obama, is the clear fact that the Reverend Jeremiah Wright loves the sound of his own voice and the media spotlight and he made a narcissistic appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on Monday. We no longer need a 30-second loop, he was again exposed as an America-bashing bigot.
He refused to disavow his oft-repeated belief that the AIDS epidemic is a US government plot to exterminate African Americans. He stood by his blame-America-for-Sept. 11 stance, saying, "You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back to you." And he strongly refused to denounce Louis Farrakhan, saying, "Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy. He did not put me in chains." None of this is good for Obama and Wright wouldn't stop.
“We cannot see how what we are doing is the same thing that Al Qaeda is doing under a different color flag, calling on the name of a different God to sanction and approve our murder,” Wright said in an April 13, 2003, sermon. "Remember it was soldiers of the 3rd Marine Regiment of Rome who had fun with Jesus who was mistreated as a prisoner of war, an enemy of the occupying army stationed in Jerusalem to insure the mopping up action of Operation Israeli Freedom.”
“I just want to emphasize that this is my former pastor," Obama said. "Any of the statements that he's made both to trigger this controversy and that he's made over the last several days are not statements that I've heard him make previously. They don't represent my views. And they don't represent what this campaign's about."
Asked if he was disappointed that Obama put distance between himself and Wright, Wright said: “He didn't distance himself. He had to distance himself, because he's a politician.”
Wright believes that Obama is lying to the American people to get elected. This is why the "nuanced" approach will not work for Barack Obama, and he still seems very confused on what to say and how to answer. He refuses to denounce Jeremiah Wright, and even though he says he disagrees with what he says, he seems to believe he must remain loyal to Wright.
That is really a tough sell to working class voters, both Democrat and Republican. And with Jeremiah Wright looking to cash in on the publicity and raise his profile, this will get far worse before it gets better.
(Email CK at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Hey Al, please don't go away mad.
Just go away.
Tuesday was Earth Day, which is apparently when we are all supposed to believe that we should work our hearts out to save the Earth from the brutal harm that has now been placed upon this third rock from the Sun by humans.
And as it may be, at least according to all of the experts, it is not just any humans that are causing the harm to this big ball that spins on an axis and rotates around that giant fireball we call the sun, the people that are destroying it are Americans.
Oh don't worry, there are plenty of self-loathing American complainers at the ready to make certain the blame is placed on the United States.
I'm not one of those, of course, though I believe conservation of resources is a good thing, and I actually practice that without preaching. We have made several substantial improvements to the Casa Del Rairden compound in the last few years to make it very "green.” The latest venture is that now the acreage inside the heavily fortified compound houses a newly remodeled office just steps from the main home. That means my commute is only a few hundred feet as opposed to driving miles to work as some of my liberal self-loathing friends do, all the while explaining to me the importance of "going green.”
While I always appreciate their concern and the fact that they are more than willing to tell me how I should live my life, I'm already there. I don't drive a car to work and I don't ride a scooter or take the bus or even hop on any kind of a light rail service. Basically, I walk to work each and every day.
So my carbon footprint is small, but I certainly don't begrudge those that sit in their SUV's or their Hybrids burning fossil fuels each day while they commute back and forth to their job. In fact, other than the traffic jams they have to fight, I'm quite happy for them. I don't feel it is my place to tell them how to earn a living, or where they should work, or what type of a vehicle they should drive.
Of course, I don't have to lecture them, as we all have the collective conscience of Al Gore for that. The leader of the fear and loathing crowd is the loser of the 2000 US presidential election and he is still complaining that no one is listening.
In an interview this week with the UK Sun, he whined that little has changed since he put out his scare mongering film, "Earth in the Balance.”
Gore said recent polls had found that while people rate climate change as a "serious problem,” some ranked it lower than cleaning up dog poop.
Gore told the British paper, "I remember one poll where it came under dog litter. People are more likely to respond to problems that can be felt. . .terrorism, traffic jams, anything that activates the responses in an immediate way." He added, "We think, 'If it's never happened before maybe it won't ever happen in the future'. That's a rule that can work but the exceptions can kill you. And global warming is one of the exceptions."
Gore can't prove any of this of course, but the he finally gets down to what he really wants later in the interview. Control. He said he plans to lead a "grass roots" movement of ten million people to press for change in the US and calls America the world's worst offender in the crisis. And he says that until America acts, the rest of the world will not follow. Wait - doesn't the rest of the world hate us?
In Al Gore's mind only when America is under the control of the global warming fear mongers will countries such as China and India take action. Gore seemed baffled that we just don't care what he thinks and confessed, "I have to say the situation has not improved since I made the movie in 2006. Sure, awareness has grown and more people are concerned since scientists said we had just 10 years to take action to halt rising sea levels. But the situation has got worse. The entire North Polar ice cap is melting and could be gone in some areas in as little as five years."
This is where it all turns into blah, blah, blah. Al Gore is background noise to most Americans. He believes that people actually care what he has to say, but other than the elites in Hollywood, who gave him an Academy Award for his film, and those elitists that handed him the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to try to undermine American prosperity, few care what he has to say about how we live our day-to-day lives.
Cool the hot air, Al, and cool the planet. America seems to be saying to Al Gore, don't go away mad, just go away. Earth Day or not, that is a reason to celebrate.
(Email CK at email@example.com)
Obama trashes small town America
Trashing small town America is a bitter pill to swallow. This was going to be a Barack Obama free week for "Off the Wall" as his missteps have been so many I feel like I am piling on. But the Democratic Presidential frontrunner delivers so much entertainment each week it may impossible to ever take a week off.
This just in, if you live in Platte City, Missouri, perhaps Weston, St. Joseph, Northeastern Kansas or even in Kansas City, you are a rube. Those aren't my words - those are straight from the mouth of Obama. In his eyes, many of you fools likely head off to some church most every Sunday clinging to the hope of God and just as many of you likely own a gun to protect your home and your family.
Like most small town rubes, you are nothing more than a sad lot of ignorance and of course bitterness. The real question for Middle America, small town America and pretty much everywhere with the exception of San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City and parts of Chicago, Illinois now becomes, "Are you stupid enough to vote for Barack Obama?" He believes you are. He's counting on it.
Obama was up in Northern California a couple of weeks ago, rubbing elbows and allowing the west coast elite to kiss up to him, when he was attending a fundraiser in San Francisco. He was trying to explain his troubles winning over the rubes of what the elites refer to as "Fly Over Country" especially those angry and bitter folks in small town Pennsylvania. He offered this quote: "It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
You always dream of people that are so arrogant as politicians they believe they can say stuff like this and get away with it, and with Barack Obama, we may have the most elitist snob in politics today. First, it should be noted that no matter how many times Obama tries to explain this and spin it, he meant exactly what he said.
In his elitist mind, rubes like you are fools. You are losing your jobs, times are tough and prices are high on everything from gas to bread to milk. In these times of trouble, instead of worshiping a government program, you seek comfort in your relationship with God. You fall back in knowing that the US Constitution has a First and Second Amendment (that's the God and guns part rube, try to keep up) and you believe that perhaps if America would secure its borders and invest in jobs that that Americans can do life could be just a bit better.
You rubes may work hard, play by the rules, pay your taxes and support things like the US Military, but you are fools. Barack believes every single word of what he said and while he was rubbing elbows with his snobbish elitist friends in San Francisco the truth slipped out to the rest of America. You see, this wasn't meant for the eyes and ears of everyone, this was said at a "private fundraiser.” It was said on Sunday, April 6 and it didn't make its way out for almost a week.
Obama speaks like this in private all of the time. The bad part about this time is that somebody actually heard him say it and reported on it. It wasn't the Associated Press or any other major news wire that caught the comment and ran with it. The speech was recorded by a citizen journalist. The event had been designated "closed press" by the campaign, but Mayhill Fowler, a 61-year-old Oakland woman who got an invitation, said she openly recorded the candidate's remarks. Her report first appeared on "The Huffington Post" a very liberal blog that is quite friendly to Barack Obama.
So why did they allow these comments to be printed? Simple, they didn't see them as a problem and all of these people believe this about you. They were clueless that there would be a firestorm this big, in their minds, and in his mind, he is just telling the truth. I know scads of these types in Hollywood and all around Los Angeles, they believe everything he said and they don't understand why any of you rubes would be offended. Fowler knew right away that this could be a disaster for Obama if it ever made its way out of the fundraiser. According to the Los Angeles Times, she said she thought the comment was condescending, even elitist.
"I was thinking to myself, 'Oh my God, he is confirming to my fellow Californians the worst stereotypes they have of small-town America.' I was just dismayed." She almost didn't use the comments as she is a supporter and has given almost $2,300 to the Barack Obama campaign. But after some consultation she felt that she had a story, and she accurately reported it. Kudos to her.
For her trouble, she has received some nasty threats from other Barack Obama supporters.
(Email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Obama will have to answer to a patriotism question
Is Barack Obama an American Patriot? He wants you to believe so and apparently his campaign is beginning to realize this might be a big question once he dispatches Hillary Clinton and is set to take on John McCain in November for the White House. If you have e-mail and friends that like to forward all sorts of chain like letters across the world wide web you have likely come across one that notes that Barack Obama did not place his hand over his heart during the singing of the National Anthem in Iowa when the Democrats were just kicking off their presidential campaign.
The e-mails states something like this, "He refused to not only put his hand on his heart during the pledge of allegiance, but refused to say the pledge...how in the hell can a man like this expect to be our next Commander-in-Chief?" So - is it true?
Sort of, though it was not the Pledge of Allegiance, it was the singing of the National Anthem. For some reason liberals have fought this and tried to say that the claim is not true, but there is a full color photograph that is not doctored in any way that shows it certainly is accurate that in this particular case, Obama did not follow protocol and place his hand over his heart during the playing of the National Anthem.
The photograph is in Time magazine and there is also a nice video that goes with it that has already been shown on ABC News and it shows Obama with his hands firmly clasped in front of him during the song. Meanwhile, Bill Richardson, the Democrat Governor of New Mexico that has since endorsed Obama and his rival Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) strike a traditional anthem pose beside him, holding their right hands over their hearts. So what? It's not really necessary to place your hand over your heart during the National Anthem, right?
Let's browse through the United States Code. Title 36, Chapter 10, Sec. 171 clearly says, "During rendition of the National Anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart."
Easy enough and certainly most everyone knows this. Obama blew it on this one and even though it is now six months old, it will be used against him in commercials along and there will be questions raised about how much Barack Obama really loves the United States of America.
And though there is already crying from the American left, it seems that many will believe that those questions are fair. His wife Michelle Obama notes that she has never been proud of the country at all in her entire adult life, until her husband began running for president and even then, she only started getting a little American pride once he started winning the Democratic nomination. His mentor and pastor takes the Lord's name in vain from the pulpit asking for America to be damned in a church that Obama has attended for twenty years. So, what now for Barack?
On Monday the Associated Press ran what they dubbed a "news story" saying that despite all the doubts, Barack Obama is a true American patriot. The fluff piece began, "Barack Obama wants to make something clear: He loves America." "I love this country not because it's perfect but because we've always been able to move it closer to perfection," he told an audience in North Dakota recently.
Barack realizes he has a patriotism problem and he is stepping up the rhetoric to try and convince those that might have doubts of his dedication to country. There are some that will believe that it is utter nonsense to even suggest that Obama doesn't love America. Others will realize that even if many voters don't buy that line entirely, they will have doubts about his dedication.
As with his pastor problem, this will not hurt Barack until he begins to run against John McCain. But the 30-second spots that will air on television basically write themselves. In the era of "527 groups" similar to "The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" that beat up on John Kerry for months during the 2004 elections, there will be a few that start up and will challenge Obama and they will only have to splice together the video snippets to convince many voters to have doubts.
An ad may be like this. The first five seconds, play Barack Obama standing without his hand over his heart during the playing of the anthem, the second five seconds, play the Rev. Jeremiah Wright calling America the US of KKK and asking God to damn the country. The third five seconds, play Barack Obama defending Wright and saying he cannot disown him. The fourth five seconds, play Michelle Obama saying she has never ever been proud of the United States. The next five seconds, play the sound bite where Obama defends his wife. The final five seconds can tie it all up with a voice over showing the picture of Obama with his back to the American flag, the National Anthem playing in the background and his hands crossed at his waist.
(Email to email@example.com)
Can the Democrats really blow this?
Can the Democrats really blow this? Will they?
On the Democratic side of the aisle, the key to this long presidential process is not really delegates or even Super Delegates. It appears that the Democratic candidate will be judged on how big their lies are when they are exposed and how foolish they look when they tell them. Just last week Barack Obama finally confessed that he was lying about his church attendance and admitted that he did hear some "controversial" preaching from his personal mentor Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
As uneasy as that made some primary voters for the party, they elected to give him a pass. That was easily predictable as Wright will only be a problem for Obama if he makes it to the general election. But the big lie from last week came from Hillary Clinton.
She took a beating for making up a "war story" about sniper fire in Bosnia. It was classic Clinton speak. Basically, as a Clinton you just make stuff up and say it over and over and then it becomes true.
"I did not have sex with that woman; It's a vast right-wing conspiracy," etc. The trouble for Hillary Clinton is that YouTube and CBS spanked her with video, similar to how that darn DNA testing slapped her hubby Bill across the face.
She said when she arrived in Bosnia on March 25, 1996, "I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."
But news video footage of her arrival showed Clinton, then the first lady and looking quite a bit younger, calmly walking from the rear ramp of a U.S. Air Force plane with her daughter, Chelsea, then 16, at her side. Both Clintons held their heads up and there was no sniper fire, or any rush at all. The video showed Clinton spending several minutes talking with the group, including an 8-year-old Bosnian girl who presented her with a poem, and the video would also show she later greeted some U.S. troops.
The footage proving the lie was played over and over on television and of course online and she was lampooned everywhere, even by Democrats that once believed that she could save the party. She tried to dismiss it as nothing. "I say a lot of things -- millions of words a day -- so if I misspoke, that was just a misstatement," she said.
Democratic voters might have bought that Bill Clinton had bad aim, but they are not buying this line from Hillary. Her war story lie is bigger than the Obama preacher problem, at least for Democrats, and she is dropping like a stone in the polls.
The last Gallup Poll Daily tracking poll that was conducted March 28-30 and released on Monday finds Barack Obama leading Hillary Clinton in "national Democratic preferences for the nomination, 51% to 43%." Hillary gets hit with the bigger lie. But as dominant as Democrats should be right now, it appears that they are not quite there yet.
In the same Gallup poll, presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain is beating both Hillary and Barack, but by only two percentage points against Clinton 47% to 45%, and by just one point against Obama, 46% to 45%.
He holds a bigger lead in the "Rasmussen Reports Daily Presidential Tracking Poll" that was released on Monday as well and it showed McCain leading Barack Obama 47% to 42%. He leads Hillary Clinton 49% to 40% in that poll. What if this is the way it plays out? If the Democrats can't win now, will they ever win again?
(CK Rairden, a proud Platte County High School grad, can be reached via email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
‘Grandma and my preacher are both bigots’
Just last week we learned that Barack Obama has been a member of a church for 20 years where his preacher was exposed as a bigot with his own recordings of his sermons that were available for sale on DVD.
ABC News and Fox News purchased the DVDs and played the remarks over and over on television, and the heat was turned on high. In an attempt to cool things off a bit, Obama said that he never really knew that his pastor was so hateful and had only learned of the statements when he began running for president and then he said he had never sat through any of those sermons.
But that was a lie. Damage control was in high order and Barack Obama would have to give a speech where he claimed that he was going to bring unity to America and set the record straight on his preacher and his beliefs and how he thinks America should act when it comes to race relations. With his back against the wall he revealed that yes, he had heard his preacher spew hate and bigotry from the pulpit on occasion for the last 20 years, but even with that confession he said he could never disown him.
His reason was odd and a bit cowardly as he claimed that his white grandmother is a racist as well. I wish I was kidding, but that was the excuse he gave.
In this speech that was supposed to bring an end all of the controversy, Barack tossed grandma under the bus and said that she had sometimes expressed fear of black men and uttered racial stereotypes. The idea from the speech appeared to be that white grandma and black preacher are one and the same, both bigots and both racists that Barack has had to put up with his whole adult life.
Obama was called on to distance himself from Jeremiah Wright, the preacher in question. But in his mind, and with is speech, his white granny gave him an out and now he can still pal around with the man that believes that whites in the US government injected AIDS into the black community.
"I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother," Barack would utter in his speech.
Right after the speech, which I billed last week as the upcoming "magical effort" that would change race relations for all time, some Obama supporters immediately took to the airwaves with their talking points in hand and immediately compared it to the "I Have a Dream" speech by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
I guess if we are to believe the Obama supporters who praised the speech as being as impressive as King's historic speech that he delivered in August of 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, we will have to toss the legacy of Dr. King under the bus as well. I'm not sure I can honestly equate, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character," with 'Grandma and my preacher are both bigots.’
Obama made a clear error in the premise of his speech, as his plan appeared to be that he would lay his case out for the media and not the people. Unfortunately for Obama, that really doesn't work for the American voter. Many of the folks in Middle America who had once supported Obama quickly turned on him and wanted a confession.
Obama should have begun with three easy words, "I was wrong." This would have silenced his critics immediately and given him credibility. His words should have been along these lines, "I was wrong to continue to bring my wife and children to a church that preaches hatred."
He should have followed that with, "And I was wrong not to either confront Reverend Wright about his lies and distortions and demand that he retract them, and if he refused I should have moved on and found another church. I was wrong to stay."
Obama instead said he didn't believe in what Reverend Wright said, but if that is actually the truth that only means that he didn't have the leadership skills, or the backbone, to confront him. And it is now clear that he certainly didn't have the wisdom to pull his children from the church. As I mentioned last week, this misstep will be glossed over in the Democratic primaries, and will die down soon.
But if Obama is the nominee, his lack of leadership and his foolish defense of Reverend Wright will cost him votes from people that really do want change and would have liked to support him.
Three words could have saved Barack Obama, "I was wrong.”
(Communicate with CK Rairden, our conservative crusader,via email to email@example.com)
Obama's pastor certainly doing him no favors
I understand Michelle Obama a lot better these days. In February of this year on the campaign trail the wife of Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential frontrunner said, "Hope is making a comeback and, let me tell you, for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country." She was mocked and people couldn't understand why an educated woman would make such an absurd statement. Now the answer is clear, it appears that for the last twenty years or so Michelle has sat in church on Sunday with her husband and presidential candidate Barack Obama and listened to a preacher named Jeremiah Wright.
Wright is not only his pastor but is Barack Obama's personal mentor, spiritual adviser and a father figure. He officiated at his wedding to Michelle and baptized his two daughters. The title of Barack's book, "The Audacity of Hope" was taken from one of Wright's sermons. In other words, they are extremely close and have been for twenty years. That is now a serious problem for the Obama campaign as tapes of his sermons have revealed that Wright spews a lot of hatred from his pulpit.
He hates America and calls on God to unleash damnation upon this country. Like Michelle, he has never been proud of this country and he preached that he was certain that a black man could never have the opportunity to be elected president, as long as "rich white folks" ruled. He's wrong as Obama has a decent shot at it, but Jeremiah Wright might be more of a prophet than a preacher as he might be the one man that makes sure that Obama is not elected. Wright preaches at the Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's south side and teaches what is called the "black liberationist theology.”
What does that mean? Here's a taste. Wright was speaking after the attacks on America that killed 3,000 people and told his congregation on the Sunday after Sept. 11, 2001 that the United States had brought on al Qaeda's attacks because of its own terrorism. "We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye."
"We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost," he railed from the pulpit. That video has now been played numerous times on several news channels and on YouTube.
There's more. In another rant of a sermon he preached, "The government gives (African Americans) the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God Damn America, that's in the Bible." Who knew? He would later call the country "White America, and dub it the U.S. of KKKA." He also claims that America introduced AIDS into the black community.
In another sermon he said, "The government lied about Pearl Harbor. They knew the Japanese were going to attack." He would also add in another sermon that America is a terrorist nation and said, "We cannot see how what we are doing is the same thing al-Qaeda is doing under a different color flag..."
Jeremiah Wright hates America and believes that this country is a state sponsor of terror and he preached this for twenty years while Barack and Michelle were in the audience. The would be president and first lady also bring their children to that church and allow them to be exposed to this hatred as well. Or at least that is what common sense would tell you.
Barack Obama wants you to believe otherwise. He says he was never present when the anti-American rants and hatred against whites were preached. Some reporters and commentators have said that while they don't believe Barack Obama for one minute and that there is no way he could have missed every hate filled rant from the preacher they want to give him the "benefit of the doubt."
That makes no sense as reporters are supposed to be automatic skeptics and one would believe the questions would be asked when Barack attended the church. The question is historical and quite easy, "What did Barack know and when did he know it?" All reporters really need is the specific dates that he was there and they can cross-reference those with the sermons.
Many people that hadn't gone to church in years attended church on the Sunday after the attacks of September 11, 2001. If Barack wasn't at his own church, what church did he attend that Sunday? And did that church blame America for the attacks? And when Barack finally made it back to his own church, how did he react when he was told that the preacher had no sympathy for the families or the victims of the attacks? These are easy questions for reporters.
As my deadline hits, Obama is scheduled to deliver what has been billed as a "magical speech" that will fix all of this on Tuesday. He may be able to clean the mess up for now with Democrats but this will come back to haunt him if he wins the nomination and runs against Republican John McCain in November. It will be Swift Boat 2.0 starring Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama.
(Email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Governors, call girls and the housing bubble
Just when you thought that all of the politicians that were perverts of late were Republicans, along comes New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.
The Democrat is in all kinds of hot water as he has allegedly been caught with his hand in what sounds like a very expensive cookie jar. He was allegedly using some sort of a call girl ring that operated all along the Eastern Seaboard and an affidavit claims that a person identified "Client Number 9" (That is allegedly Spitzer) shelled out all kinds of cash for call girls. It is alleged that he was specifically caught by a wiretap doing a deal where he shelled out about $4,600 for a few hours with a girl named 'Kristen'.
It's not exactly a wide stance in a bathroom in Minnesota but there are so many jokes out there about Spitzer now it is hard to keep up. But it is nice to see Spitzer step up and help a fellow governor out and make Governor Matt Blunt look good in comparison.
Jay Leno joked that now Hillary Clinton is only the second angriest wife in New York. News reports noted that Spitzer came into New York vowing cut down crime to its knees and one political spin was that he was doing it one call girl at a time.
It's late Monday night and he has yet to resign, but one can guess that is coming soon and it will probably be over by the time you read this. Spitzer's one claim to fame this political season before "Black Monday" was his plan to hand out driver's licenses to illegal aliens in the state of New York. When asked if she agreed with that plan in a presidential debate New York Senator Hillary Clinton first said she agreed with it and then tried to say that she didn't, all in the same breath.
It might have been the moment when her status as Democratic presidential frontrunner began to unravel. And guess what - now she says she doesn't want to comment on the Spitzer scandal, even though he is a friend and the governor of her adopted state. The Clinton luck right now all seems to be bad, and you just know Bubba and Hillary are thinking right now, couldn't this have been the governor of Illinois?
The Housing Bubble and Politics?
When I'm asked what affect the housing bubble will have on the elections this season I'm usually stumped. I'm not really certain why politicians believe that the ninety-five percent of the people that are paying their mortgages on time should bail out the five percent that can't pay their house payments.
Many of the people that are losing their homes should have never been given loans to buy those houses in the first place. Lots of them had poor credit histories or just flat or didn't make enough money to buy some of the homes they wanted. So instead of saving up, or perhaps renting for a while or buying a less expensive home, they went to lenders that would allow them to put no money down, pay only the interest and none of the principal on the home, or use adjustable rates so they could afford the monthly payment on their dream home.
Basically they were speculators who believed that the housing market would just continue to rise with no end in sight and they tried to use the equity in the home, or in some cases just a rising home appraisal, to refinance every few months when they needed more money or to try to make the house payment stay small enough that they could afford it and stay in the house.
So the house basically became their own personal bank. When they needed cash they would just refinance and pull more cash out, speculating that the value of the house would just continue to rise and they would eventually be able to get out from under the heavy debt by selling the house for a big profit.
To get into those homes, many tried all sorts of gimmicks and various loans that had balloon payments and adjustable rates and now that the rates are moving up and the balloon payments are coming due and there is no longer a way to refinance, they can't afford that monster house payment anymore. That's a risk when you speculate; you can actually lose money and in this case lose your house.
Now I am all for helping out those with a legitimate hardship keep their homes and would expect lenders to work with them. But those that have now lost in the get rich quick real estate speculation market doesn't really reach that bar for me.
Now I know Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are promising even more tricks for the small percentage of people that are in danger of losing their homes but the government has no place in an issue like this. If everyone just steps back, just like the stock market, the housing market will adjust and prices will again return to normal, as will loans and lending practices.
(Email to email@example.com)
For once, Angelina Jolie getting it right
I like Hollywood liberals, I really do. They serve a purpose, at least for people like me. They mostly have in common the seventh grade mentality that they really want to fit in. Oh and they would like everyone to like them as well. So if that means spouting the Al Gore line on global warming while tooling around the Los Angeles valley in a Hummer and living in a 10,000 square foot home, so be it. The hypocrisy is there, but they don't really see it, as they are far too busy "saving the world."
And that's okay, at least to a point, as many of them mean well, but they are just too dense and self-absorbed to understand they are being hypocritical and that they are mocked and lampooned for their collective ideas. If you take the time to notice, many of them want America to act in Darfur. There is an atrocious situation going on there of mass killings and genocide and all of the Hollywood types want something done but they don't really seem to understand that it would require military intervention and a lot of American blood being spilled.
Which seems quite odd as even though they are nice and comfy in their hillside homes and beachfront mansions, they are all still quite squeamish over Iraq and the struggles there. I'm sure you have noticed, most of them want out of Iraq yesterday. Many are backing Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama who has promised that he will get our American troops put of Iraq. That means a really rough life for those in Iraq, a big security problem here in the United States and yet another surrender and another pull out by politicians in the United States before the job is complete.
For the good guys in Iraq, it will be very ugly. Terrorists will own the country and begin to plan attacks on the United States and its allies. It would likely turn into a situation just like Afghanistan developed into during the 1990's. This isn't difficult to figure out, if we leave and pull out, there will be a vacuum and that vacuum will be filled with enemies of the United States.
Our enemies will be sitting on a lake of oil, they will have the run of the country and it appears that Obama and those of like mind say they are quite fine with snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. This was pointed out to Obama in yet another debate this weekend and he was asked what he will do once he "pulls out the troops" and allows the terrorists a stronghold in the country. Obama said during the debate with Hillary Clinton that once he withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq, if al Qaeda were to form a base there, "then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad."
That brought a big opening from Republican presidential nominee John McCain to take the leader of the cult of Obama to school. "I have some news," McCain said. "Al Qaeda is in Iraq. It's called Al Qaeda in Iraq. My friends, if we left, they wouldn't be establishing a base, they'd be taking a country and I'm not going to allow that to happen." Fair enough answer and dead on accurate.
Obama tried to hit back."I have some news for John McCain, and that is that there was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq." I'm not certain if Obama even realized how foolish that sounds. McCain then noted that regardless of Barack's opinion on the invasion, the facts on the ground are very clear, Al Qaeda is in Iraq and will take over the country if Obama wins and pulls out American troops.
That brings me back to Hollywood. Lots of actors and actresses are swooning over the cult of Obama. They range from the airheads like Jolie's significant other Brad Pitt to the politically active actors that actually make sense at times like George Clooney. All believe that Obama is the answer and bailing on Iraq is good idea. However there is one lone voice in the crowd and frankly that voice took me by complete surprise.
Angelina Jolie, the same mess that once married Billy Bob Thornton and carried a vial of his blood around her neck, wrote an op-ed piece for the Washington Post. It appears that she won't be supporting the cult of Obama, she will support the people of Iraq, the refugees that need help there and she will be supporting American troops. With what she wrote, it's an easy argument to make that she is supporting John McCain for president, even though she doesn't say as much.
She traveled to Iraq recently and met with Gen. David Petraeus. She then wrote a well thought-out piece titled, "Staying to Help in Iraq." In part she wrote, "My visit left me even more deeply convinced that we not only have a moral obligation to help displaced Iraqi families, but also a serious, long-term, national security interest in ending this crisis."
She added, "What we cannot afford, in my view, is to squander the progress that has been made...As for the question of whether the surge is working, I can only state what I witnessed: U.N. staff and those of non-governmental organizations seem to feel they have the right set of circumstances to attempt to scale up their programs. And when I asked the troops if they wanted to go home as soon as possible, they said that they miss home but feel invested in Iraq. They have lost many friends and want to be a part of the humanitarian progress they now feel is possible."
So it would seem all in Hollywood are not drinking from the well of the cult of Obama.
(Email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sex scandals and dirty tricks hit both sides of the aisle
Now I remember why I love politics so much. Sex scandals and dirty tricks hit both sides of the aisle this weekend as we will get a look at what the presidential election will look like this election season.
Hillary Clinton sounded like a defeated woman in a debate last week versus Barack Obama. The Obama momentum seems unstoppable for Hillary right now and really all the young US senator from Illinois has to do is run out the clock and not make any serious mistakes. I always anticipated that the Clinton attack machine would strike hard against Barack Obama but I never dreamed it would take this long. On Monday morning the first of what is sure to be a string of attacks appeared in the form of a picture of Barack Obama. It was blamed on Hillary and it certainly seems accurate to pin this on someone in her camp as she must win at least one of the two states that go to the polls next week.
Unless she wins Ohio or Texas she has to be finished. Right? Certainly her supporters know this as over the weekend someone seems to have hatched a plan to start what really amounts to a whisper campaign against Obama. On Monday, in what many will decry and assail as a shameless move, it was being reported by Matt Drudge that the Hillary Clinton campaign is circulating a photo that shows Barack Obama in full traditional Somali elder dress. Is it supposed to suggest that Barack is a Muslim? That would appear to be the case.
Where do Barack Obama's loyalties lie? That's the implication of the leaked photo that many will say is a dirty trick. Team Obama struck quickly and had this out by mid morning on Monday, "On the very day that Senator Clinton is giving a speech about restoring respect for America in the world, her campaign has engaged in the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we've seen from either party…"
Hillary's campaign answers back, "Enough. If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed." I'm surprised it took this long. The Clinton attack machine is legendary and has seemed stalled and wandering aimlessly. Now they may zero in on anything that can slow down Obama so they can hope he will trip up.
McCain and the Blonde Lobbyist
Who knew the first bimbo eruption would be from John McCain? The New York Times gossip mill churned out some blonde lobbyist named Vicki Iseman and linked her to John McCain and dropped all kinds of hints at a romantic affair between the two in a front page story that was promoted heavily on news shows and the Internet. Is this a sex scandal or a smear or somewhere in between? It seems like nothing more than a smear. The newspaper unloaded on McCain after their endorsement weeks ago and tossed the "scandal" out there for public consumption. The trouble was that he denies any romance, let alone sex, and she denies it as well and the paper couldn't come close to proving it and in fact they really had nothing at all except some flimsy innuendo. The story was so thin that they used unnamed sources and former disgruntled McCain staffers that refused to go on the record.
And for some reason the Times allowed that even though they should have demanded that someone go on the record about something. There is no national security at risk, so it would seem that those spreading the gossip could have surely attached their name. The gist of the story was that those that should remain nameless believed that McCain might have been getting too close to Iseman so they asked her to stay away. There was no proof, no DNA, no blue stained dress and really nothing other than very weak gossip. It was compared to the National Enquirer but that seems a bit unfair to the tabloid as certainly they would have put out a better story had they investigated it.
There are four bylines on the piece. Four! Can one of these highly paid scribes get someone on record with something of substance? The National Enquirer would have knocked this story out of the park if there was anything there. At least they are willing to do the leg work for scandals. Perhaps next time the New York Times might wish to contact someone at the tabloid to figure out how this is done.
The result of the story is now conservatives have an excuse to jump over and defend McCain against the evil New York Times. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham were earlier against McCain but now all jumped over and decried the story as vicious gossip designed to rip on the presumptive Republican nominee and toss a big time assist to Barack Obama.
(Email to email@example.com)
Is plagiarism accusation desperation by Hillary?
How desperate is Hillary? The Hillary Clinton campaign has accused Barack Obama of plagiarism. The charges come right after a weekend where Bill Clinton was back on the campaign trail wagging his finger, screaming at hecklers and being accused of striking a man that was hassling Bubba during a speech. Are the Clintons getting ready to come unhinged or is this a legitimate charge?
Here's the scoop. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is the man that Obama is accused of plagiarizing and the men are friends. The words Obama used in a recent speech are nearly identical and now Barack says he should have attributed them to the governor. Hillary Clinton has been slipping in recent polls and is being bested by Obama on the campaign trail and she has lost eight straight primary contests with Wisconsin and Hawaii voting on Tuesday.
So the former First Lady has decided to attack Obama as nothing more than a speechmaker that delivers only “words.”That led Barack to use this line: "Don't tell me words don't matter! 'I have a dream.' Just words. 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.' Just words! [Applause.] 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself.' Just words just speeches!"
That's a pretty good line but is almost word for word what Patrick said in a speech earlier. In a conference call on Monday with reporters, Obama campaign adviser David Plouffe attributed the issue about the similarities to Clinton's campaign "grasping at straws."He said Obama and Patrick are friends who "share thoughts on ideas and language." Is it a really big deal, and will it hurt Obama? Barack apparently ad-libbed the remark, which was not in his text.
The Massachusetts governor is an Obama backer and a pal and defended him and said in a statement: “Sen. Obama and I are longtime friends and allies. We often share ideas about politics, policy and language.”
He added, “The argument in question, on the value of words in the public square, is one about which he and I have spoken frequently before. Given the recent attacks from Sen. Clinton, I applaud him [for] responding in just the way he did.”
Is this enough or will Barack to get away with it?
So I'm in Beverly Hills on Monday night rubbing elbows with my Hollywood friends after a weekend working the celebrity scene in Malibu for an upcoming project for “The National Ledger.” It was a California weekend business trip where I had the chance to get the pulse of the liberal elite while working my way through the Hollywood gossip mill. But a funny thing always happens; the conversation will turn from Lindsay Lohan to Britney Spears to John McCain, Hillary and Barack. Wait what? These Hollywood types want to know what I understand on the political scene and specifically they wonder what I think of John McCain. I usually answer with the question, well what do you think?
While many of my liberal friends are quite frightened of the US senator from Arizona, others claim they could live with him being president. That might give some liberals pause as McCain has vowed to stay the course and fight and win whatever wars necessary to keep America safe, but other Democrats actually like the guy. The anti-war crowd has all but lost their mojo for November 2008 as the economy takes a front seat.
As predicted, McCain has all but wrapped up the GOP nomination and is now desperately trying to get conservatives on board. I have no clue what the Rush Limbaughs of the world will do when it comes to McCain and certainly they all screamed very loudly that Johnny Mac must be stopped in the primaries.
But he wasn't and the “Straight Talk Express 2.0” is on and running. I was asked, “Can he win?” If he faces Hillary it certainly seems as if he has a very good shot. As weak as the Republican Party is at this point in history, it hasn't translated to McCain. He has bucked the party enough that he seems to come off very clean in the minds of many voters that are fed up with the GOP. Add to that the fact at least half the country despises Hillary Clinton.
If he faces Barack it would seem as if it would be more difficult, as the energy is amazing for the Illinois Senator. But a closer look shows that it might be very difficult for Obama in the South. In the latest Florida poll he trails McCain by 16 points in Florida. Sixteen points! That means we may be right back to the 2004 scenario of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Missouri being the key to the 2008 election. Get ready, the political commercials will be non-stop and certainly the Show-Me-State will be a heavy target.
(When he isn’t rubbing elbows in Hollywood, reach CK at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Right wing talkers failed in efforts to aid Romney
Rush Limbaugh once wrote a pretty good book called "See I Told You So." Hopefully he read my column last week so he can have a good start on "(CK) Told You So Again.”
After the Super Tuesday results it was a really rough day for the talk radio crowd. It was likely even worse for those who gather around the radio and listen to Rush and fellow talker Laura Ingraham as they complained about John McCain. The right wing talkers staked everything on their power to move minds and they placed all of their eggs in the Mitt Romney basket. Now that basket is empty. As predicted (I think it is the first one I got right this entire election season) Mitt Romney has dropped out of the race for president.
This is a big hit for talk radio and certainly a big defeat for Limbaugh and Ingraham. Both took to the airwaves each day berating McCain and begging their listeners to reject the US Senator from Arizona. They also ripped former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. But on Super Tuesday no one listened. Huck and McCain have now outlasted Romney despite his huge war chest of personal funds. McCain will be the Republican nominee for president. The wringing of hands from many conservatives has already hit. Even Landmark columnist Brian Kubicki is joining Ann Coulter and claims that he will vote for Hillary over McCain.
Is this the end of conservatism and talk radio as we know it? Hardly. If Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama are elected it won't be long until many listeners in the US are quickly tuning their radio dials to conservatives as the programs from the Democrats are proposed and fail. It will be a boom for talk radio. But for now, they must lick their wounds.
It's Hard Out There for a Pimp
Is Hillary Clinton pimping out her daughter Chelsea Clinton? Even if you think that, it is probably not a good idea to go on the air and say it on a nationally televised news show. That comment has the Clinton campaign in a tizzy and MSNBC host David Schuster is in some hot water for using the phrase. Basically he said that Chelsea Clinton is being "pimped out" by her parents to make calls recruiting super-delegates.
Earlier in the campaign, Hillary used Chelsea in events, I won't say she was pimping her out, in fact she would not allow her to speak. Hillary had 27-year old Chelsea so terrified of a mistake she refused to even answer a young nine-year old reporter's question in Iowa and refused to grant the kid even one statement. Still, the pint-sized reporter didn't say that Chelsea was a hooker.
The Clintons desperately have tried to control the media coverage of Hillary and Bill and of course they want that courtesy extended to Chelsea, especially when mom is being accused of pimping her out. But sex talk is always tough for the Clintons. Ten years ago, in January of 1998, the sexual misconduct of President Clinton was front and center after talk of presidential knee pads and DNA deposits. Clinton's initial reaction to the "Mother of All Bimbo Eruptions" was a bold faced lie when he said, "I did not have sex with that woman..." while wagging his finger and squinting his eyes in anger.
President Bubba used the Oval Office of the White House to play around with the help, which just happened to be a 25-year-old intern. Hillary again was outraged. Not at Bill for using the young woman (don't worry I won't dare say that Monica was pimped out) but at the "vast right-wing conspiracy" for pointing it out. But what about that 25-year old intern and the impact on her life and future? Her last name was turned into a verb that was far worse than "pimping.” But the defenders of young women (that would be Hillary, Bill and Chelsea) didn't seem to mind.
It's Hard Out There for a Pimp, Part II
Oh, and after the whole mess died down just a bit on Monday, our little innocent girl Chelsea was back out on the streets and just happened to have a date with 21-year-old junior in college named Jason Rae. Guess what he is? The student of Marquette University in Wisconsin is one of those aforementioned super-delegates that Hillary needs so desperately to win the nomination now that many Democratic voters have turned on her.
For those who don't know, actual voters don't choose the 842 unpledged super-delegates that comprise nearly 40 percent of the number of delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination.
They are the high and mighty of the Democratic Party and they don't have to listen to actual voters. Oh, and they are wooed by people like Chelsea Clinton. It's a very odd system that the Democrats have, basically presidential candidates can promise almost anything to these party insiders dubbed super-delegates in exchange for their votes.
Who knows what David Schuster was talking about when he suggested that Hillary was pimping out Chelsea. All she did on Monday was give Rae what ABC News called the "one-on-one treatment" as she worked the young man over to try and get him to vote for her mom.
(Our own CK Rairden knows pimpin ain't easy. Email him at email@example.com)
McCain the only Republican left who has a shot at winning
Is the Republican Party dead? I like Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan a lot so I read with interest when she made a recent observation that she believed that George Bush has destroyed the Republican Party.
That might be the case as he certainly morphed into his dad in the last three years. His communication skills were never great, but ever since that victory in 2004, he has disappeared and refused to use his bully pulpit to communicate even on the simplest things. If he hasn't killed the party, he certainly has bludgeoned it over the head a few times and pushed it into a coma.
But for many, they believe the destruction is yet to come. Rush Limbaugh declared on the radio last week, "I'm here to tell you, if either of these two guys (John McCain or Mike Huckabee] get the nomination, it's going to destroy the Republican Party. It's going to change it forever, be the end of it!"
With Huckabee all but out of it Limbaugh has turned his wrath solely on McCain.He is apparently now using all three hours of his radio show to rip on the US Senator from Arizona saying he has stabbed the Republican party in the back on countless occasions and is just assailing him on air. On Monday's show, Limbaugh asserted that McCain has "lied about his reason for opposing the Bush tax cuts," and added: "I think McCain has an animus toward the Republican Party. I think ever since South Carolina 2000 he's had it in for the Republican Party, and one of his objectives is to destroy it and change it."
That brought on a scolding from the last Republican presidential candidate that lost in a general election and my favorite third person candidate Bob Dole. Bob Dole took the time to draft a letter to Rush Limbaugh and Bob Dole says, "I have not seen you in a long time but I do hear you frequently and I know that you have serious reservations about Senator McCain," Dole wrote. "McCain is a friend and I proudly wore his P.O.W. bracelet bearing his name while he was still a guest at the 'Hanoi Hilton.' I believe our major candidates are mainstream conservatives and that our nominee will address our concerns by keeping taxes low, reducing corporate taxes, protecting and assisting the vulnerable, strengthening our traditional values, and above all, keeping America strong militarily, whatever the cost."
"Whoever wins the Republican nomination will need your enthusiastic support," Dole concludes. "Two terms for the Clintons are enough."
It is, of course, signed Bob Dole.
Blonde bomber Ann Coulter wanted in as well and said she would support Democrat Hillary Clinton over Republican John McCain in a potential general election match-up, if the race develops that way. In a typical Coulter moment, she even promised to campaign for the former First Lady. "She's more conservative than he is," Coulter said on Fox News.
"She lies less than John McCain. She's smarter than John McCain. "I will campaign for her if it's McCain," she said. Uh-huh.
So if McCain is the nominee, is the GOP really DOA? I know John McCain very wel,l having lived in Arizona for the last 15 years. He is a mess when it comes to illegal immigration. Like George W. Bush he has yet to meet an amnesty bill he doesn't like. He relishes in being a darling of the media, and like most senators, loves to make deals.
When he decided to co-author McCain-Feingold he basically told all that believe in the First Amendment to shove it and get over it as he believes that political speech by US citizens should be restricted. He has been on the wrong side of the Bush tax cuts, but now says he believes they should be extended. Certainly he is dangerous and unpredictable and on the wrong side of many issues.
But he represents where the party has to move if it expects to survive. There is no Ronald Reagan out there anymore. Mitt Romney missed his big opportunity early, absolutely failing to run as an anti-government conservative. A few weeks back he finally started railing against Washington, DC and claimed that he was the only candidate that could deliver as a Washington outsider. It may be too little too late.
It is Monday night as I pen this, and Super Tuesday is on deck. McCain will have a good day or a great day, while Romney will either survive or be tossed aside. It may not be the Republican party that many conservatives like, but the only way for the GOP to even have a voice for the next few years is to keep the White House.
John McCain is the only Republican left that has a shot at making that come true.
(Reach The Landmark’s conservative crusader via email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Clintons have never been big on playing fair
Bill Clinton is having a really rough week. He's almost like the kid that was really cool in high school and goes away for a few years and comes back only to drool all over the girls that are about ten years too young for him to be hitting on in the first place.
Check that, he is exactly like that. His red-faced slobbering display all over South Carolina was an absolute embarrassment and he has pretty much eliminated the once traditional "former president acting as a statesman" after leaving office.
While he has a lot in common with his peanut farmer pal Jimmy Carter, but at least Jimmy can blame it on senility and his own bigotry. Bubba's flimsy excuse is that he is just looking for his third term in the White House and really doesn't care what he has to do to get it.
Due to his failed rants Hillary Clinton's campaign will try to shift former dress-staining prez from leech back into the "positive, supportive-spouse role" he played before her loss in Iowa and that absolute humiliation over the weekend in South Carolina where Barack Obama handily defeated Hillary in the first Southern state primary.
The lopsided Obama victory was a pretty good full frontal assault on the Clinton attack machine. But can anyone really shut up the finger-wagging Bubba? Clinton is desperate to get back into the White House and run things with Hillary at the point. They both seem willing to do anything to get the Democratic nomination including playing the race card at every turn against Barack Obama. Bill Clinton has even tried to downplay the embarrassment by trying to paint Obama as nothing more than Jesse Jackson and pointed out that "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in 84 and 88," seemingly continuing to highlight the race issue. I'm not sure Hillary can control him on the campaign trail anymore than she controlled him with Monica Lewinsky. We'll see if he behaves from here on out.
Is Hillary Clinton Trying to Steal Nomination?
Hillary Clinton has issued a call to retroactively seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida that were ousted for holding their primaries earlier than allowed.
She said last week, "I believe our nominee will need the enthusiastic support of Democrats in these states to win the general election, and so I will ask my Democratic convention delegates to support seating the delegations from Florida and Michigan. I know not all of my delegates will do so and I fully respect that decision. But I hope to be President of all 50 states and U.S. territories, and that we have all 50 states represented and counted at the Democratic convention."
That's rather convenient as she ran unopposed in Michigan - because her opponents followed the rules and took their names off the ballot and she did not - and is expected to win Florida easily as well.
The Barack Obama campaign answered with this, "No one is more disappointed that Florida Democrats will have no role in selecting delegates for the nomination of the party's standard bearer than Senator Obama. When Senator Clinton was campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, she made it clear that states like Michigan and Florida that wouldn't produce any delegates, 'don't count for anything.' Now that Senator Clinton's worried about losing the first Southern primary, she's using Florida for her own political gain by trying to assign meaning to a contest that awards zero delegates and where no campaigning has occurred. Senator Clinton's own campaign has repeatedly said that this is a 'contest for delegates', and Florida is a contest that offers zero. Whether it is Barack Obama's record, her position on Social Security, or even the meaning of the Florida Primary, it seems like Hillary Clinton will do or say anything to win an election. When he is the nominee, Barack Obama will campaign vigorously in Florida and Michigan to put them in the Democratic column in 2008.”
This is pretty simple. After Florida moved its primary up to Tuesday in an attempt to play a bigger role in choosing the presidential nominees, the Democratic National Committee said it would refuse to seat the state's delegation at the national convention in late August. Michigan also violated party rules by moving its primary to Jan. 15, and party leaders voted to strip the state of its 156 delegates as punishment.
Everyone believed that was an appropriate punishment except Hillary once she started losing. Now she wants those delegates and she doesn't really care if she has to cheat her own party to get them. All that said, I still believe she will have a monster day on February 5 and it should be noted that Barack Obama is still a heavy underdog. Expect Hillary and Bill to win the nomination and run for his third term. She really doesn't need to cheat, but the Clintons have never really understood how to play fair.
(CK Rairden has gone the distance with another column. Email him at email@example.com)
Hillary and Obama trade some lively punches
Good news, I finally got to watch an amusing debate. It wasn't with the Republicans, they are still producing snoozer after snoozer, it was the Democratic debate in South Carolina on Monday night where Hillary Clinton turned fire engine red and went after Barack Obama.
The exchange was heated and live and actually quite entertaining. Any time two Democratic candidates are trading punches about being on the board of Wal-Mart and representing a slumlord, it's bound to be compelling viewing.
Hillary was busy accusing Barack Obama of praising Ronald Reagan (which of course is taboo among the Democrats). Obama then had enough and went after Mrs. Clinton, "Hillary, we just had the tape. You just said that I complimented the Republican ideas. That is not true…What I said and I will provide you with a quote what I said was is that Ronald Reagan was a transformative political figure because he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests to form a majority to push through their agenda, an agenda that I objected to. Because while I was working on those streets watching those folks see their jobs shift overseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart."
That's a one-two double whammy for the liberals as even though they shop at the big box store they complain about and say that they hate Wal-Mart and even though they work and accept benefits from large companies the left will complain and say that they hate evil corporations. The crowd went nuts cheering for Obama. Hillary was furious.
Later she would punch back saying "I was fighting against (Republican) ideas when you were practicing law and representing your contributor, Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner-city Chicago."
I'm really not certain who won the exchange but one might want to note that according to their won testimony, the Democrats will either put up an evil corporate lawyer or an attorney that worked for some slumlord as their nominee for the US President. Surely that will appeal to the working class.
Say Goodnight to Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson
The Rudy Giuliani strategy of a big Florida win may be ready to unravel if polling is accurate. The New York mayor has basically placed all of his eggs in the Florida basket and a Super Tuesday boost but both seemed to have come apart at the seams. The latest polling from Scott Rasmussen has him in third place trailing both Mitt Romney and John McCain.
Many are questioning the thinking of the odd strategy of skipping all of the early contests as now all of the momentum has swung to McCain and Romney. Rudy has had horrific finishes in the early primaries and caucuses, even finishing behind Fred Thompson and Ron Paul in the early state races. The one-time "national frontrunner" may be within just a few weeks of being out of the race.
He is even losing in New York State to John McCain and unless there is a huge turnaround before February 5, he is out. He has already fallen to ten percent (10%) in the latest national poll which places him dead even with Fred Thompson and barely ahead Ron Paul. He's done.
Joining him soon will be Fred Thompson. He drew a line in the sand on the beaches in South Carolina and lost there to both John McCain and Mike Huckabee. Thompson never really seemed to want this thing and certainly doesn't have the energy it takes to run for Commander in Chief. Goodnight Rudy and Fred, we hardly knew you.
Mike Huckabee doesn't much like Mitt Romney and he may be ready to surrender his support to John McCain just to eliminate the former Massachusetts governor. The way it will work is Huckabee stays in the race for as long as possible and drag social conservative support away from Romney. Huckabee is certainly familiar with the dynamic as he was in the exact same position in South Carolina, where Thompson pulled away enough conservative votes to prevent a Huckabee victory over McCain.
The McCain support is mostly from moderates and conservatives that are willing to surrender and vote for McCain because they believe that he can beat Hillary Clinton pretty handily and have a very good chance against Barack Obama. Huckabee seems to realize that his moment in the sun has passed and would much rather see John McCain get the nomination than Mitt Romney. Could Huckabee be angling for the No. 2 spot on McCain's ticket, or a cabinet position in a McCain administration?
(CK Rairden has gone the distance with another column. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Many pollsters, pundits
missed on Hillary’s comeback
The demise of Hillary Clinton was greatly exaggerated in this column and many others that were published by pundits world wide last week right before the actual votes were counted in New Hampshire. While I never trust polls to get the numbers exactly correct I was certain they couldn't be so far off that Hillary would actually beat Barack Obama in the first presidential primary in the country. I was wrong.
The amazing thing about the pollsters missing it so poorly is that even the Clinton internal polls had her getting beat by five to eight points. Even as I was up late covering the election and editing writers' work explaining the shocking Hillary win for "The National Ledger," several exit polls still had Obama defeating Clinton by five points are more.
So, what went wrong? Listen to this spin.
Several pollsters told the New Hampshire Sunday News last week that events on the ground and last-minute deciders changed the outcome. "We didn't have a polling problem," said Dick Bennett, president of American Research Group. "We ran out of time." When ARG stopped polling at 9 p.m. on the eve of the primary, Clinton's numbers, which had dropped after Obama won the Iowa caucus on Jan. 3, were heading back up, Bennett said. "We had a three-point shift in favor of her that day, and it was growing that night when we stopped."
Oh please, they blew it just like I did. Have the guts to say you were dead wrong and work a little harder to get it right next time. With spin like that the ARG pollster sounds more like a politician than a bean counter and it's easy to call that pollster "Tricky Dick" Bennett.
The Real Comeback Kid: John McCain
Hillary Clinton was rightly giddy after her big win and she was busy telling anyone that would listen that she was the comeback kid in New Hampshire. One month before the actual vote she had a fifteen to twenty point lead in the state and then held on to defeat Barack Obama by five points. Good spin, but few are buying it. Arizona Senator John McCain is the true comeback kid in presidential politics at this point in time. If you are looking at how far conservative pundits have fallen out of favor you need to look no farther than the McCain and Mike Huckabee jump, not in the polls, but in actual votes.
Mainstream media conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are pushing desperately to get Mitt Romney or Fred Thompson up in the polls and get them back in the race. They are desperately trying every tactic in their arsenal to boost these guys but they just can't seem to get it done. Fred Thompson showed some signs of life in a debate held in South Carolina that was hosted by Fox News last weekend, but as he spoke for around 30 minutes or so the best guess is he is now exhausted and will have to take a dozen or so naps before he finally drifts off into another Rip Van Winkle dreamland and drops out of the race.
Romney's campaign is likely the most disappointing to a whole lot of conservatives as he was considered the frontrunner for many months only to be crushed by Huckabee in Iowa and defeated handily by McCain in New Hampshire.
It was not a pretty picture and now he heads to Michigan where pollsters (remember those guys) say it is too close to call. The race is between Romney and McCain in that state and if Johnny Mac wins, he is the legitimate frontrunner for the GOP. Right now he is the true comeback kid. He was out of money and really out of hope just a few months ago and now he is the man that many in the GOP are looking at to save the White House for the Republican Party.
It's a very scary proposition. McCain is not a friend to many of the positions that conservatives hold dear. He blasted the Bush tax cuts and he authored the McCain-Feingold bill that is now law, which was one of the most brazen assaults on political speech in US history. He has lots of faults (way too many to list here) but the field is so weak for Republicans and completely void of any talent for conservatives that he is emerging as the one candidate that might be able to defeat Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.
Conservatives who are holding their breath waiting for Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney to show life are turning bluer than a blue state and some have thrown up their hands and have decided that McCain is better than either one of the Democrats. I'm not certain they are correct, but unless there is a major shift soon, I fear we may find out if McCain can go the distance.
(CK Rairden has gone the distance with another column. Email him at email@example.com)
Sing along to these hits as
you watch the candidates
Sing along, people.
Bill Clinton wanted us all to "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" in 1991. David Bowie sang about changes twenty years earlier in 1971 and Barack Obama has grabbed that them and has energized voters. "Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes…Time may change me - But I can't trace time…" Hillary Clinton is stuck in her very own time warp and in serious trouble and I'm not sure any song to bail her out, but she is certainly headed towards the fall of Ziggy Stardust. (Apologies for those reading that don't know Bowie.)
Hillary's new tune is a sad one. The sweet turned to sour in Iowa for Hillary Clinton. It wasn't pretty, she became angry and for a brief moment I could hear Elton John singing, "The Bitch is Back."
After the big Iowa wins by Obama and Mike Huckabee, every candidate was uttering the word “change” at every turn, and at every debate. Hillary was so far behind Barack that she went angry at the debates, turning into the shrew that many believed she would keep under wraps at least until she won the primary. It would have been sad if it weren't Hillary. She has lost the rhythm and her anointment to the White House is in serious trouble.
At one point she uttered a string of sentences so bizarre at the debate on ABC I have to quote her. "I want to make change, but I've already made change. I'm not running on a promise of change. But on 35 years of change…"
Thirty-five years of change? I'm thinking that would have meant that she would have come full circle several times and would be a rock-ribbed Republican right now, screaming for tax cuts and a strong national defense.
Big Girls Don't Cry
Someone cue Frankie Valli. It got so bad on Monday she dug into Bill Clinton's old bag of tricks and tried some tears to get some sympathy to try to stop the Obama landslide that is just about ready to crush her campaign.
The New York senator was taking questions in New Hampshire when she choked up responding to one woman's question about how she stays "upbeat and so wonderful?”
"It's not easy, and I couldn't do it if I didn't passionately believe it was the right thing to do," said Clinton, getting visibly emotional. "You know, I have so many opportunities from this country I just don't want to see us fall backwards." She continued, "You know, this is very personal for me. It's not just political, it's not just public. I see what's happening, and we have to reverse it," she added, with her voice breaking and eyes growing teary.
The trouble is that Hillary is just not charming. Immediately she was made fun of and lampooned and absolutely no one that is not on her side already felt sorry for her. And the number of people on her side is dwindling fast. Barack Obama is red hot, he is drawing huge crowds and right now he is the closest thing to a rock star politician America has witnessed since Robert Kennedy. I was certain that the Clinton attack machine could stop him, I'm not even close to certain now.
Running on Empty
Cue Jackson Brown. "Running on - running on empty. Running on - running blind - running into the sun - But I'm running behind."
I can't think of any better song to describe the GOP candidates at this state of the presidential race. They seem out of gas and are sputtering. They put forth a collective image that is absolutely clueless as to what the American voter is concerned about and aside from Mike Huckabee there is zero optimism.
Mitt Romney is programmed beyond belief and as uninspiring as any "front-runner" since Bob Dole. Rudy Giuliani is sitting out the early primaries so he is pretty much useless until Feb. 5. John McCain still doesn't understand that Americans are fed up with illegal immigration.
Fred Thompson is, well, is he even awake? Ron Paul is your typical Libertarian and has no shot at inspiring anyone besides the five percent that have crawled out of the darkest corners of the Internet and are backing him in online polls and with their parents' credit cards and cash. Mike Huckabee gets it, but his record will frighten many conservatives beyond belief. But one thing about Huck, at least he is preaching optimism and hope.
All of these candidates constantly mention Ronald Reagan, but they must have forgotten that it was the Gipper's "Shining City on a Hill" that inspired two landslide victories.
Change is in the air, and it will be hope and optimism that moves this electorate. Can any of these folks from the GOP match Obama? They had better get busy.
(Get busy every week with CK Rairden’s commentary. Reach him via email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Beating up on Ron Paul can
do a campaign some good
Hillary Clinton is clamming up. The former First Lady is refusing to answer questions from reporters and now during the last week before the Iowa Caucuses she won't even talk to the people in Iowa. She's been slammed for planting questions in crowds in Iowa and now that she has been caught it appears that she will just skip questions altogether. Is this a good strategy? It might be. Hillary has been doing more harm than good of late by opening her mouth.
The Los Angeles Times reports that before the brief Christmas break, the New York senator had been setting aside time after campaign speeches to hear from the audience. Now when she's done speaking, her theme songs blare from loudspeakers, preventing any kind of public Q&A. She was no more inviting when a television reporter approached her after a rally on Thursday and asked if she was “moved'' by Benazir Bhutto's assassination. Clinton turned away without answering.
Chelsea Zips Up as Well
Proving she is more like her mother than her father, Chelsea Clinton has zipped up as well, and without a trace of DNA. The Associated Press reported on Sunday that Sydney Rieckhoff, a Cedar Rapids fourth grader and "kid reporter" for Scholastic News, has posed questions to seven Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls as they've campaigned across Iowa this year. But when she approached the 27-year-old Chelsea after a campaign event Sunday, she got a different response.
"Do you think your dad would be a good 'first man' in the White House?" Sydney asked, but Chelsea brushed her question aside. "I'm sorry, I don't talk to the press and that applies to you, unfortunately. Even though I think you're cute," Chelsea told the pint-sized journalist.
Hillary and Chelsea's new Iowa motto: Don't be like Monica. keep your mouth shut.
John Edwards Cashes in on the Mutes
In response, John Edwards launched "Ask John," a new program in which Iowa voters can call or email the campaign and receive a response auspiciously from the candidate. Elizabeth Edwards and top campaign aides will also answer questions Iowa voters have.
Edwards is the only Democratic candidate to have visited, and, says his campaign, answered questions in, all of Iowa's 99 counties. His current bus tour will hit 38 counties. The campaign promises to answer each questioner, in some form or another, by caucus night.
Iowa Gets its Moment in the Sun
On Thursday the Midwest state of Iowa kicks off the 2008 US election battle. With the field wide open, the candidates are desperate to make an early impact. People really love joking about Iowa. Many believe that as an acronym Iowa stands for "Idiots Out Wandering Around." Others claim it stands for "I Owe the World an Apology." We'll see how much of an apology after Thursday. Right now, Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney have very slim leads if you combine the dozens of polls that have been released. On the GOP side, Mike Huckabee has a shot to win, but his polling dominance has ended almost as quickly as it began and the star seems to be off of him a bit as the debates have ended and that is where he shines.
Still it seems like a two person race for the GOP with Huck and Mitt Romney. Romney desperately needs a win or his campaign may come apart. He won't pull a "Howard Dean Scream" but he may want to if he is upset by Huck.
Hillary is desperate as well. She was certain she had buried Barack Obama early, but he just won't go way. Add to that, even people who support Hillary don't seem to really like her. John Edwards is hanging around as well and Hillary certainly could take a win by Edwards, but she is in a dogfight if Obama pulls off the upset.
John McCain: The New Comeback Kid
John McCain turned his campaign around sometime in late November. I was convinced that the Arizona Senator was over and done and would fade away but he has bounced back. It all appears to have happened during a debate in late November when he challenged Ron Paul. Paul is the one Republican that is running against the war in Iraq and even recently said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he believed that Abraham Lincoln was wrong for fighting the Civil War to free the slaves. He calls himself a "non-interventionist" and I guess if one weren't willing to go to war to end slavery that would be the case. McCain blasted him in late November.
McCain swung for the fence and connected big at the YouTube debate. "Congressman Paul, I've heard him now in many debates talking about bringing our troops home, and about the war in Iraq, and how it's failed. And I want to tell you that that kind of isolationism, sir, is what caused World War II...You allow Hitler to come to power with that kind of attitude of isolationism...”
Paul tried to answer with a long-winded explanation about the differences between "isolationism" and "non-intervention" but he was booed and again was used as a whipping boy.
McCain came out of the debate with a bit of momentum and he has surged ever since. He has no shot in Iowa but he is surging in New Hampshire and if he wins there he may turn his dormant campaign around. He joked with reporters on Friday, "I've been declared dead in this campaign on five or six occasions. I won't refer to a recent movie I saw, but I think I am legend," he told reporters, referring to the film in which Will Smith stars as the last man on Earth.
McCain is closing on Mitt Romney in recent New Hampshire polls. "Somehow we've had a Lazarus-like experience," McCain told supporters at his campaign headquarters. "I think it's because I've been telling the truth. I've been telling people the truth whether I thought that's what they wanted or not.”
If he actually continues he may win and he may need to thank Ron Paul for an assist. It appears that beating up on Paul can do a campaign good.
(CK Rairden’s analysis of the national scene appears only in your Landmark. Email him at email@example.com)
For columns from 2007.