January 29, 2008

Tuesdays with Sadaam

If you really wanted to get the truth out of Sadaam Hussein, probably the best way would be to spend months and months talking and just hanging out with him, psychologically manipulating him and his being in captivity to ingratiate yourself on a personal basis and get him to open up, even if accidentally.

Well, that's what a Lebanese born FBI agent did.

CBS's "60 Minutes" aired a segment last Sunday that was of monumental importance, but which receieved relatively little notice. It's worth your time to see or read what was revealed.

It was important because the FBI agent revealed many truths that "far-left liberals and America-haters" have been explaining for years now and being routinely ignored by the press.

The U.S. invasion had destroyed most of Sadaam's WMDs... the rest he voluntarily destroyed. He refused to reveal this fact because he felt that the thought that he possessed them was the only thing protecting his country from another war with Iran.

He allowed the U.S. to launch an attack because he simply thought that we'd never actually INVADE the country, but would most likely launch a massive bombing campaign, something which he'd survived before and was confident he could survive again.

There were many other interesting revelations as well. Such as the fact, reported over and over by reporters and others and utterly dismissed and ignored for the most part, that Sadaam Hussein hated Osama bin Laden, considered him a religious fanatic who couldn't be trusted, and wanted nothing to do with him.

While Bush/Cheney tried mightily to infer that bin Laden and Sadaam were sworn allies, the fact is that they were sworn enemies. That fact is a bit important, don't you think? Despite this being common knowledge, it was barely mentioned in the press and willfully ignored by Bush in his drive to start a war.

A factually challenged commenter recently argued long and long attempting to say that Bush and gang didn't lie to the country in a desire to whip up support for a war of choice. (I know, I know... sad, but true.)

For them and for all the rest of my fine readers, I urge you read this piece by Robert Parry, one of the few journalists who have consistently attempted to get these facts out, to little avail.

Parry feels that even the CBS report didn't go far enough.

This is a sneak-preview of this decidedly shameful page in America's history. Despite unprecidented efforts to hide, destroy, or deny access to, records of this most secretive administration in history, I feel confident that with the passage of time, all the people who couragiously tried to inform the American people and fight against the obvious campaign of lies and distortions used to cynically manipulate them into war will be vindicated, not as some sort of crazed "Bush haters" or traitors, but true patriotic citizens who struggled in a losing battle to get to the truth and share it with the American people.

You have to be Barack Obama

As all of you know, today a good chunk, and the most meaningful, of the Kennedy family gave their endorsements to Barack Obama.

Most stirring and powerful of all was the endorsement of Caroline Kennedy, the only surviving member of John Kennedy's immediate family, who has distinguished herself in the past by studiously avoiding politics and public pronouncements.

Caroline Kennedy's said she'd waited a long time for a candidate that inspires people the way she's been told her father inspired others, and that that candidate had arrived in the form of Barack Obama.

It's hard to imagine anything that could elevate the already phenomenal inspirational power of the Obama candidacy, yet this "passing of the torch" from JFK to Obama added an almost spiritual aspect to the campaign for those who lived through or are cognizant of the spirit of youthful hope and achievement the Kennedy administration represents. It appealed to both the ideological energy and spirit of youth, and the desire of a return to better days for those much older.

Teddy Kennedy's speech brought the parallels to the Kennedy era even closer, as he drew comparisons between his brother and Obama and managed to note that Obama would be ready to be president "on day one", a pointed jab at a Clinton catch phrase.

As hard as it must be to follow such emotionally stirring rhetoric, Obama pulled it off, building on the previous highpoint of his South Carolina speech and delivering perhaps his most stirring and evocative speech yet, hitting themes of hope and a break from the negativity of the past, replete with several pointed swipes at the Clintons smoothly integrated within a stirring message of shared responsibility. The message was so powerful and well delivered that it moved many to tears and perhaps even more moving, led to the sight of normally rabid conservatives sitting awestruck and obviously moved.

The only tiny concern I had with this recent tsunami of excitement and momentum for Obama was the nagging question of timing, is this peaking too soon? I guess the powers that be in the Obama campaign concluded that the time to try to fire the big guns and break away from Clinton was ripe, following on the heels of a convincing win in South Carolina and just preceding the February 5th Super-duper Tuesday primaries.

The Smirking Chimp had the honor of following this love fest with his lackluster, out-to-lunch, and blessedly last SOTU speech, a speech which was openly laughed at by pundits afterwards. I really felt sorry for him. (NOT!) After Ted Kennedy's endorsement but prior to Bush's goofy speech, Kennedy was interviewed by Tavis Smiley.

Smiley brought up the recent flurry of endorsements of Clinton of OBAMA by several white guys including current and former senators such as John Kerry, Tom Daschle, and Bill Bradley and then contrasted that with the fact that a slim majority of the Black Caucus also supports Clinton over Obama, asking Kennedy what that meant.

Kennedy averred that people have friendships and form connections, and that's fine, then went on to say...
I have a high regard and a personal friendship with Senator Clinton and President Clinton and I've supported them in the past, but I think what we are looking for now is the inspirational figure, aren't we.

... we want to elect the person who can get the job done. And to get the job done you have to bring people together, and to bring people together you have to be Barack Obama.
Kennedy then struck on the key to Obamas ability to connect with the public, and why he's such a desperately welcome contrast to the 8 dark years just past.
You know when I went to an event just after the creation of the Peace Corps and I asked the young volunteers why they volunteered they said it's the first time anyone had asked us to do something for the country.

Barack Obama is asking these young people to do something for the country. He's building from the bottom up, not from the top down, and Barack Obama is that inspirational leader for our time.
Any thoughts on the Kennedy endorsements or Bush's LAST State of the Union?

January 27, 2008

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Super Delegate!!

I like the fact that the Dem primary race is still competitive. I even like the fact that no clear front-runner has emerged. All good in my estimation.

But then I heard tonight a factor that could make things very, well, icky, and could end up in a scenario that would leave a lot of Dems very much unhappy and crying foul.

First of all, bear in mind that it's not the number of caucusessessssesss or primaries that a candidate wins, it's all about the delegates. Going into South Carolina, Obama held a slim one delegate lead over Hillary Clinton.

But here's what's got me a bit concerned.

Looking at the numbers, it's utterly impossible for any of the Dem candidates to emerge with enough "non-super" delegates from the primaries and caucuseesessses to sew up the nomination, even if any one of them won every single delegate from here through super-duper tsunami Tuesday, February 5th.

What the hell you may be saying, I know I did.

It all started with rule changes instituted by the Democratic party in the early 70's to try to wrest inordinate power away from power brokers such as the Daley's and other party bosses and correct the balance of power to allow grass roots activists, minority, women, and other factions a voice in the process.

Then after the Dems nominated George McGovern who went down in flames, the muckety-mucks of the party decided that they needed to take some of that power back in order to try to restore some sort of control by the establishment and provide a check against the Dems nominating someone they supported even if they weren't likely to win.

To accomplish this without reverting to the old boss system, they devised the plan to add so-called "super delegates" to the process.

Super delegates aren't Dems in tights and a cape, (that's more like what you'd expect to catch a bible-thumping Republican wearing in a motel room.) but rather they're party big wigs, usually elected officials such as governors, senators, state chairs, ex-presidents (yep, Bill Clinton gets a vote) vice presidents, and the like.

The idea was to involve people who have a personal stake in the nominee in hopes of avoiding nominating someone deemed too extreme or out of step with the rest of the party.

There's 842 of these super delegates, making up a full FORTY PERCENT of the total delegate count. That's a damn big chunk and represents a lot of sway.

Now here's the deal; even if Clinton, Obama, or Edwards single-handedly won every single one of the primaries on Super-Duper-Tsunami Tuesday February 5th, none of them would have enough "un-super" delegates to cinch the nomination.

What this means is that the contest will go on beyond that date, the date from which nearly everyone had assumed a clear nominee would emerge.

With no clear winner, it raises the likelihood that the Dem nomination will boil down to who can secure the votes of enough of these super-delegates to put them over the top.

This of course opens up the thing to the modern equivalent of back room deals at conventions, with deals being struck left and right in exchange for support.

Perhaps worst of all, it essentially invalidates the votes of millions of Dems, Dems who've showed up at the polls in record numbers, numbers that has included many newly energized voters including masses of young people.

How disillusioning it would be to realize that after all their enthusiasm and excitement, that the choice was taken out of their hands and decided by a relative handful of professional politicians. It would be a terribly demoralizing situation, and doubly tragic in light of the fact that this election cycle seemed to be ushering in a newly involved and activated electorate in contrast to the increasing apathy and non-participation which has grown steadily for years.

Now at last there's a sea change of sorts, partially due to people's fervent desire to be rid of the gang of incompetent crooks in the White House, but also inspired in large part by Barack Obama's vision of a better tomorrow, particularly among new young voters.

If it turns out that the decision is thrown to "the past" represented by entrenched politicians and political types, it can't be good for party morale.

Will any candidate benefit from this?

Many of these super-delegates have already endorsed a candidate, and based on that criteria, Clinton is ahead.

You can track which super delegates are pledged or endorsing what candidate here.

Note that various news organizations all have different numbers for how many super delegate are pledged to each candidate, with Clinton ranging from 182 to 207 and Obama ranging from 86 to 112.

What are your thoughts on this likely scenario?

"Mo" squared

And as we leave this great state with a new wind at our backs and we take this journey across this great country, a country we love, with a message we have carried from the plains of Iowa to the hills of New Hampshire, from the Nevada desert to the South Carolina coast, the same message we had when we were up, and when we were down, that out of many, we are one, that while we breath, we will hope, and where we are met with cynicism and doubt and fear and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of the American people in three simple words,
yes we can!
Somewhere in America tonight, a middle-aged woman is swearing like a longshoreman, and a grizzled Vietnam vet is in need of some fresh Depends.

When it comes to touching all the emotional chords, all the aspirations, the innate idealism, the yearning of people to regain hope and be asked to do their part in restoring this country to its greatness and achieving its potential no one does it better than Barack Obama.

It's moving to see and hear the palpable desire of people to move away from the dark era of government and politics dominated by money, trivial matters elevated to importance by a media who views the entire process as entertainment and gossip, and a clean break from right wing ideology towards an era of the unity and common purpose that has always enabled America to surmount and exceed any challenge it's faced.

(NOTE: Adding to Obama's surge tonight was word that Carolyn Kennedy was planning to endorse him in an op/ed in the New York Times entitled, "A President Like My Father". Now THAT'S a heavy endorsement.)

UPDATE: The Kennedy piece just went up and can be read here.

The ugly Republican politics of division and lies began during Reagan with Lee Atwater, and was honed and expanded during the Bush reign of error by Karl Rove. It was so successful that no rational person any longer takes a thing their president and government says at face value or as the truth. Hatred and racial divisions are so ingrained that Obama's message that there's only one America, not 500 racial, economic, cultural, religious subdivisions working against each other is considered almost radical.

Yet the very same pundits and talking heads who marvel at the response to that very message then turn around and spend two hours dissecting poll numbers that break everyone down into racial and gender categories. Then they spend more hours issuing their pronouncements on how the black male vote means this and the white female vote means that.

Who beyond campaign wonks even cares? The pundits and guests each recount how they went out among "average voters" and they all report that no one was even concerned with what Bill Clinton said or who attacked who. Voters could care less who did what among blacks between the ages of 32 and 40. Then they ignore that and effortlessly go on to rag about and berate the Bill Clinton and bang on the race drum relentlessly, as if it's the only story these poor schmucks have to dine on.

Who cares about all this nonsense aside from campaign analysts? It seems apparent, and evidence suggests, that the answer is no one, least of all actual voters.

Obama's magic is his promise of a new day coming, and that promise, that hope, touches millions upon millions of Americans from all political, ethnic, and religious stripes who are so incredibly fed up with the arrogant, almost casual ineptitude and corruption of Bush era, that for them that day simply can't come soon enough.

After watching Obama's speech after Iowa, and then tonight's speech from South Carolina, it's very hard to imagine that any candidate or any campaign can possibly slow down or derail the palpable energy and emotional fervor that Obama attracts.

George Bush Sr. once referred to the quality of a campaign starting to catch fire with the public as having "big mo". Obama doesn't have that. Big hardly describes it. What he has, at least for now, is gargantuan "mo", and it's tough to see anything that could stop it, whether it be the Clintons in the primary or any likely Republican nominee, including McCain.

McCain would look like a hide-bound old piker compared to Obama, someone so mired in decades old thinking and mindless reliance on military power to solve everything that he could actually become a caricature.

Someone who touches everyone's better nature and desire for a better country and a better world would trump someone who snarls that we'll likely be in Iraq for over 100 years and so what and who thinks that giving more breaks to the wealthy is the fix for our tanking economy. I think a McCain/Obama race has the potential to be a rout despite the experience issue.

Such a contest would boil down to what one chooses to be guided by, belligerence based on fear.... or hope based on the belief that we can do better.

I trust that Americans will choose the later every time.

P.S. As always, I suppose opponents will bring Obama back down to appearing merely mortal, but that ability to move masses of people will always be his ace in the hole. Even Joe Scarborough (whose pig eyes reminds me of the banjo playing kid on the porch from "Deliverance") was gob struck after the speech, explaining that his blackberry and emails had been streaming in from many, as he described them, "very conservative Republicans" and others saying more or less, "This is it."

The mere fact that Obama is able to attract Republican support is further testament to his power to lead, or at least inspire, and will certainly be yet another big asset down the line.

January 26, 2008

The tale of the till

The Quad City Time's Ed Tibbetts provides the low-down on campaign cash for the Jacobs/Rumler and Boland/Lack races, and unsurprisingly, the incumbants have their usual nearly insurmountable edge when it comes to raking in the bucks from various groups.

Tibbetts' piece provides some interesting disection of recent reports filed with the Illinois Board of Elections.

- As of the end of 2007, Jacobs had spent ten dollars for every one dollar expended by Rumler, $64,731 to Rumler's $6,458.

- Boland continues to enjoy the support of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. Tibbett's article reports Boland having received just over $6000 from him so far, though this figure omits a $1,874.30 contribution made the day the article was published which brings the total contributed from the Speaker to $8,073.49.

- Boland received $500 from East Moline mayor John Thodos.

- Jerry Lack has received $5100 from Pat Verschoore's election committee and over $1000 from Denny Jacobs and his lobbying outfit.

- Mike Jacobs received $20,000 from the Illinois Senate Democratic Fund, $7,500.00 from AFSCME Illinois Council 31 which represents government workers, $6000 from the Associated Beer Distribiuters of IL PAC, $5000 from the Illinois State Medical Society PAC, $2,500 from Citizens For John Cullerton, $2,500.00 from Illinois Hospital Association PAC, $2,000.00 from Manufacturers PAC, and many more thousands from a slew of insurance industry PACs.

Finacial reports can be found at the Illinois Board of Elections site.

Jerry Lack

Mike Boland

Paul Rumler

Mike Jacobs

January 24, 2008

935 bye-byes

935 reasons all in a line.
All of them good ones...
All of them lies.

(apologies to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young)

How should we as citizens react to this?

The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.

"It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaida," according to Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the study. "In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003."

If we react with a yawn, will it mean that we've come to accept an even lower standard from our leaders? Just how badly does a president have to betray the public trust before they're held accountable? How can anyone, even righties, argue that this is no big deal, even if you accept the laughable premise that Bush and the rest were all completely sincere? What kind of message will doing nothing sent to future pols?

The whitest man in American

Willard "Mitt" Romney "getting jiggy" with some folks in Jacksonville, FL on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Listen closely as Mitt shows he's "down" with black culture by saying, "Who let the dogs out, Who?".

Mitt makes a turkey on white with mayo sandwich look ethnic.

But what do you expect from a guy whose church, only after the IRS threatened to revoke their tax exempt status and college teams started to refuse to play in Utah, conveniently received a new revelation from God and reluctantly decided to allow blacks to join the church for the first time.

When did this happen you ask? The 1800's? Maybe the 60's? Wrong-o. Romney's church specifically banned all blacks until 1978, and then only after they couldn't hold out against the pressure any longer.

One might say Mitt's church was a little behind the curve on race matters. (not that Mitt himself doesn't feel completely at home with black folks, mind you. Just look at the clip.

Go right to the source and ask the horse, he'll give you the answer that you'll endorse

Who's endorsing whom?????

For what it's worth, here's the current run-down from "The Hill"

Democratic Candidates
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton
(D-N.Y.) (81)

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.)
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii)
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.)
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.)
Rep. Michael Arcuri (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.)
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)
Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.)
Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Marion Berry (D-Ark.)
Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa)
Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.)
Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.)
Del. Donna Christensen (D-V.I.)
Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.)
Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas)
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.)
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.)
Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.)
Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas)
Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.)
Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Darlene Hooley (D-Ore.)
Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.)
Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)
Rep. James Langevin (D-R.I.)
Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.)
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)
Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.)
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.)
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.)
Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.)
Rep. Michael McNulty (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.)
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.)
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.)
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.)
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.)
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas)
Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.)
Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.)
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.)
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.)
Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.)
Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.)
Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.)
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.)
Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.)
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.)
Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.)
Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.)
Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.)
Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D-Ohio)
Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.)
Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.)
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.)

Sen. Barack Obama
(D-Ill.) (45)

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.)
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.)
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)
Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii)
Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.)
Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.)
Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.)
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.)
Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.)
Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.)
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.)
Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.)
Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.)
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.)
Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.)
Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.)
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)
Del. Eni Faleomavaega (D-A.S.)
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.)
Rep. Al Green (D-Texas)
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.)
Rep. Phil Hare (D-Ill.)
Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.)
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.)
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.)
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)
Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa)
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.)
Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.)
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.)
Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.)
Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.)
Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.)
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.)
Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.)
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.)
Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.)
Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.)

Former Sen. John Edwards
(D-N.C.) (15)

Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa)
Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-N.C.)
Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-S.D.)
Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas)
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.)
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas)
Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.)
Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine)
Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.)
Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.)
Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.)
Rep. David Price (D-N.C.)
Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.)
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.)
Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.)

"The Hill" also reveals that Wink Martindale leads in Republican endorsements with 37, and of course, fine American and world-class schmuck Smokin' Joe Lieberman is endorsing McCain.

January 22, 2008

You're welcome again, Keith

Not that all of you actually read what I post here, let alone carefully, but recall that in yesterday's post regarding the recent Democratic debate, I wrote,
"...tonight's CNN Democratic debate looked more like a cage match with Clinton, Obama, and Edwards doing everything but hitting each other over the noggins with folding chairs."
Evidently, Keith Olbermann reads TID. (cough)

From tonight's "Countdown" discussion of the debate with Newsweek's Howard Fineman.

Anytime, Keith.

Local ad wars

I, like many of you I'm sure, have gotten various mailings from candidates Lack, Boland, and Jacobs, among others. (though nothing from Rumler.)

And if you turn on your TV at all, you've likely caught one of Sen. Jacobs' new televison ad. Boland began running his own TV ad recently as well.

Jacobs' ad is well produced and has all the requisite pleasing images that flatter the candidate, (including the obligatory shot with kids) as ads are designed to do. It touches on a few issues that Jacobs claims he's accomplished and ends with a tight shot of Jacobs himself asking for the viewer's vote. All around a good, tight, effective spot, which when compared with Boland's more low budget TV spot, proves the axiom that you get what you pay for.

Boland's spot is not nearly as slick, and bears all the hallmarks of a locally produced effort... poorer video quality, etc. While it's not as slick, and a bit more busy with several rapid cuts to various still shots of Boland while it touches on several of his claimed accomplishments, it's not too bad.

One picture in particular is certain to grab viewer's attention, (it sure caught my eye) though I'm not sure for the reasons they'd hope. In one shot, Boland is shown reading to children dressed in a circus-like king costume as "King Reader" (correction: "Royal Reader"), according to the caption. Not sure a candidate essentially dressed as a clown is a great image, even if it purports to show his devotion to education, but perhaps I'm being too cynical.

The mailings are all standard issue campaign stuff, with Jacobs' of course showing a more expensive production.

But the recent Boland piece I found very frustrating. It was very well conceived, but horribly executed.

The folded mailer shows a picture covering the entire front half page. A pictures shows one of those ding-bells that cooks use to summon waitresses when the blue plate special is ready to take to the customer.

The bell is sitting on the corner of some platform in the left foreground, while in the large background is a few indestinct blobs. Aside from the bell, the rest of the page is so blurry, dark, and without contrast that you really can't tell what it is, and you don't bother, because it's so blurry that you don't look any further than the little ding-bell (for lack of a better term.)

The copy reads, "For more than 30 years, THIS was his workplace."

OK. At this point, I'm wondering what the hell this is about, because you have no clue it's a political mailing at this point. So I'm thinking, "What? Some guy worked as a short-order cook for over 30 years?" At least it got me curious as to what the hell it was about.

So I flipped it over to the back side. There I see a picture of some young people all looking intently at a laptop with the copy, "If you want a glimpse into the FUTURE, walk into a classroom TODAY."

Ok. Where's this going? Still no mention of Boland anywhere.

So I tear the seal to unfold the piece and the mystery was revealed.

It was a well produced and attractive two page spread explaining that Boland taught for 30 years and, "knows how important it is to have leaders committed to making sure our children receive a quality education."

The opposite inside page has more copy beside a picture of an adorable little schoolboy which lists several accomplishments Boland points to. (which like Jacobs', takes credit for securing WIU funding.)

A well done effort, aside from the utterly bewildering front picture.

And perhaps not mentioning Boland anywhere on the outer sides of the mailer was a great way to get people to actually open the damn thing.

Wonder where the ad wars will go from here?

What are your impressions of the political mailers, ads, etc. that you've seen? (and post that are blatantly written by the candidates or surrogates don't cut it. Honest comments aren't that hard to spot.)

January 21, 2008

They pull a knife, you pull a gun. They put one of yours in the hospital, you put one of theirs in the morgue. That's the Chicago campaign way.


After making nice in the last debate, and inspiring me to wax rhapsodic about the promise of a clean campaign, tonight's CNN Democratic debate looked more like a cage match with Clinton, Obama, and Edwards doing everything but hitting each other over the noggins with folding chairs. Things got as nasty and pointed as they've been to date.

And as with any triangular personal dynamic, )except maybe the Three Muscateers) the situation inevitably evolves into 2 against 1 alliances. Where Edwards and Obama had previously seemed to gang up on Clinton, this time around Edwards and Clinton joined forces to pointedly press Obama on his past and his other supposed negatives.

For essentially the first time, Obama got hit with questions over his legislative record both in the Senate and during his tenure in the Illinois legislature.

Seeming to dump the entire oppo research file on Obama at once, Clinton even brought up the Rezko business that's been bantered about here in Illinois for some time. (which I predicted would happen) (background here. Media Matters notes some important discrepancies in the reporting of this issue as well.

More here , here, and here).

Some ninnys, such as Newsweek's Howard Fineman, have tried to launch the story line that any fighting between Obama and Clinton will "tear the Democratic party apart".

I think that's largely a bunch of crap, as I feel that a majority of Dems are perfectly happy with either candidate as nominee, and that once the choice has been made, they'll gladly and enthusiastically rally around the nominee, no matter who it may be.

The media also is obsessed with trying to convince us that race is a huge factor in all this, even when the only people who seem to think so are the pundits themselves. They simply can't stop telling us all about how they see race when they devine all their various poll numbers and tea leaves that they rely on. No mention that maybe people simply vote for who they'd like to see as president.

That can't be. To them everything is demographics and race. They insist on hammering incessantly on the notion that everyone is divided by race, that race is the ultimate determiner of how an individual votes. It's a factor, but they act as though it's nearly law.

They insist that blacks were somehow waiting to see if Obama could win among whites before they would decide to support him. As if all blacks vote exactly alike or need to have "permission" from white voters before they support Obama. The idea is ridiculous. There's little to no evidence of this, and it probably started as the musings of some pundit or another and they simply decided it was a good story line and so it's become accepted as fact among the media.

This is actually a disservice to all of us, in my opinion.

Aside from that, what were your impressions of Monday night's Dem debate if you caught it?

Do you think infighting between the primary candidates will "tear the Democrats apart" as Fineman supposes, thus hurting their chances in the general?

A message from the McCain campaign *

"Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.


"A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.


"America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

.... "War is not the answer."

Martin Luther King Jr. -- April 4, 1967

* By McCain campaign, I mean not from the McCain campaign.

thanks to Roger Ailes

January 20, 2008

Nevada votes, South Carolina Republicans pick war over Jesus

I 'yam whats I 'yam.

South Carolina Republicans apparently like war more than the prospect of a theocracy and gave John McCain another important win in the state where the Bush minions had previously sunk to truly disgusting depths to smear and defame him.

The right wing skunks came out again this time, trying to suggest that McCain was a traitor and coward during his captivity in North Vietnam, and Rush Limbaugh, Tom Delay, and other right wing loons had been busily trying to smear him, but McCain won despite them.

McCain chalked up what was an important victory for him (well, they all are in his case) and Preacher Mike had to settle for second, not following the script that had all the fundy's in the state giving him a win.

The Nevada primary is done and gone, and it left the pundits spinning their wheels for something to talk about.

About all Chris Matthews could dredge up was his theory that the Clinton's masterfully downplayed their chances before the vote and then appeared victorious. Duh.

Aside from the interesting situation where both Clinton and Obama are claiming victory, due to the fact that the former won the popular vote and (as of this moment) it appears that Obama actually picked up one more delegate than Clinton.

But perhaps the only unexpected result was the extent that Edwards simply tanked in Nevada, barely registering on the radar screen with a stunning 4%.

Fred "Deputy Dawg" Thompson's campaign pulled a fast one on the media by alerting them that Fred would be giving an important announcement momentarily, causing the pundits to leap to the conclusion that he was either going to announce his withdrawal from the race (I was imploring the heavens for that myself) or throwing his endorsement to McCain, thus leaving said pundits panting at the prospect that there'd actually be some news to come out of the day.

So they breathlessly cut into their broadcast to carry Thompson's big speech live. And all it was was some rambling, half-assed campaign speech, poorly delivered, in which he tried to rally his troops and make some sort of inspirational appeal to voters.

It was so bad, that Thompson got to the end of his speech and the audience had no idea it was over. As Thompson grabbed his notes and tried to escape, he noticed the dead silence and repeated his last line, then bellowed, "Stay strong" a couple times and raised his arms as his stunned followers gradually figured out they were supposed to clap now.

It was pathetic.

But the best part was when they cut back to Matthews and Olbermann at MSNBC, there was audible laughter from off camera, and both Olbermann and Matthews had stunned looks on their faces. Someone off camera said loudly, "What the.....?" and Olbermann simply asked, "What was THAT?". It was pretty funny, trust me.

Oh yeah, and Wink Martindale won in Nevada too. He's won a few now, but there's something doomed about old Willard. Just not sure he's got deep enough support for the long haul. But with the Republicans in utter disarray, anything could happen.

All that's left is to wait a week for the Democratic South Carolina primary, and listen to everyone try their mightiest to spin all this as proving that their candidate is on a roll.

About the only think you can count on is that there's no front runner in either party, and it might stay that way for a long time.

January 19, 2008

Don't be the last one on your block

As featured on Friday's "Countdown"...

From BlimpTV.com, New Bush Coins!

Matthews does a modefied limited appology for Hillary obsession.

I watched with interest the other night as Chris Matthews openned "Hardball" with a rather long and tortuous explanation/quasi-appology for his recent comment implying that the only reason Hillary Clinton was now a U.S. Senator was because "her husband fooled around", further implying that her election was soley due to some sort of sympathy for her as a victim.

I've long noted Matthews blatant and decidedly odd obsession with Hillary Clinton. It's been on display ever since the Clinton administration, and Matthews regularly manages to drag Hillary into the conversation even when she wasn't running for anything.

I've noted Matthew's strange assumptions and seriously goofy notions about what's going on in the Clinton's personal life in several reent posts and comments, mentioning his routine habit of going to truly weird lengths to find a negative motive for literally everything either Clinton does or says, from her hair style to her clothing, to her body shape, to ... well, literally nothing is too catty or tooo trivial for Matttews to ignore.

He not only routinely brought up the Clintons, particularly Hillary, even when they weren't in the news and no one else in the media was even talking about them, but he practically slobbers when delivering the latest seamy Clinton scenario to come out of his feverish imagination.

Chris, I guess you never got the memo. The country has moved on for the most part. Clinton bashing isn't the cash and ratings bonanza that got you on the air to begin with Chris. Your gossipy imaginings might still be a hit at Georgetown cocktail parties, but the public couldn't care less and, as has recently been demonstrated, they actually resent it. You may have won Hillary New Hampshire.

Anyway, click here to watch Matthew's mea sorta culpa along with some documentation on how he's been pushing the "The only reason Clinton is a senator is because Bill fooled around on her" meme for quite some time.

You're welcome, Keith

Perhaps due to some horrible sin committed in a previous life, I'm blessed with a glut of comments sent by particularly virulent right wingers who've developed an unhealthy obsession with sharing their overly simple-minded views and expressing often mindless anger over the fact that anyone disagrees with them when Rush Limbaugh himself told them so.

These strokers feel a deep need to display their truly amazing ability to ignore and distort reality to fit in with their quivering fear of anything new or different and of the changing world around them.

Hell, the future alone scares the hell out of them, being populated in their fevered minds with various boogie-men ranging from people with skin darker than theirs (also covers immigrants), to secular humanists, to "islamo-fascists", to the convenient catch-all "evil-doers" with hundreds of various objects of suspicion and hate strewn in between. They've bought into the Bush fear program, hook, line, and sinker and proudly display their fear of (hatred towards) things they only pretend to understand and their belief that the opinions they spent 3 seconds arriving are chiseled in stone.

I've long believed that these represented only a handful of blowhards out there that truly enjoy trying to spar with me. (Even though I've long ago gotten bored to death with it.) I had to trust that there are a whole gang of progressives and yes, liberals, lurking out there, despite the fact that they they've apparently all had their keyboards confiscated.

Unfortunately, these fine folks of the Democratic/liberal/progressive stripe apparently are extremely timid and can't quite muster the gumption to actually comment, or perhaps they don't feel the need to offer an opinion if they're largely in agreement? Maybe they think I suck too, who knows?

I have no idea why those who might be inclined towards my point of view rarely comment, and I can only speculate. But I always knew they were out there. (Trust me, this is going somewhere.)

At any rate, Keith Olberman, whose top rated and growing "Countdown" program is a powerhouse on MSNBC, has published a couple books in the recent past. One is a compilation of perhaps the most popular feature of his nightly show, entitled, "The Worst Person in the World, and 202 Strong Contenders".

The second and most recent, "Truth and Consequences: Special Comments on the Bush Administration's War on American Values" is a collection of his "special comments", written whenever something particularly inexcusable or appalling is done by a government official (not exactly rare these days). And trust me, Olbermann does not exactly hold back in his venomous and rightous condemnations of the Bush gang.

This book has been firmly lodged in the best-seller category since it's release. But tonight on his show, Olbermann decided to share something he felt to be very interesting. Book sellers apparently have the ability to track which metropolitan areas are selling the most copies of any given title.

Here's the results for Olbermann's decidedly liberal, Democratic leaning book.

Well look at that will ya? Firmly tied for second place in the entire country for selling more copies of Olberman's collection of strident anti-Bush rants is our good old Quad Cities.

Progressives. I know you're out there. I can hear you breathing.
Stand up and be counted.

January 18, 2008

AP reporter calls BS on Romney

This is an interesting little aberration, and something you rarely see. A reporter simply couldn't sit still while Wink Martindale told a fib (well, it depends on what the meaning of the word "running" is, for all you righties that had a conniption fit about Clinton parsing words.)

Romney keeps his glued on smile throughout, and admirably maintains his composure. (though of course talking heads tried to imply that he went ballistic) The AP reporter simply won't back down. Romney won't either, clinging desperately to a near meaningless semantic distinction, which therefore insures that it won't end well. It's also interesting to get a glimpse of how Romney's press flack then scolds the reporter for being argumentative with the candidate.

So.... what do you you think about this?

Was the reporter doing his job in calling Romney on this apparent attempt to be deceptive? Did the reporter overstep his bounds by essentially getting into an argument with Romney? Was it a little of both? How do you see it?

A two person race?


It must be supremely frustrating to have worked so hard and long, have so many supporters, be very much in contention according to polls, and to be treated as if you've simply disappeared.

January 17, 2008

Tax cuts economic stimulus? Not so much

Here's something I promised a devout believer that tax cuts solve everything. (one of the 2 minus 2 equals 5 crowd who devoutly want to drag the country back to the pre-New Deal era.)

It's from a small post on Princeton economist Paul Krugman's blog in which he writes:
If this Times report is at all right, Republicans will hold any attempt to help the economy now hostage to yet another try at making the Bush tax cuts permanent — thereby, among other things, crippling future possibilities for health care reform. I suspected that’s what would happen, but thought that maybe, just maybe, the GOP would be sufficiently scared by the prospect of a nasty recession in an election year that it would back off. Guess not.
Just a reminder: here’s the evidence on which Republicans base their faith that making the Bush tax cuts permanent is absatively, posolutely, essential to prosperity:

Update: Rereading this, I think I could have been clearer. The only way anything useful will get done by way of stimulus in the next few months is if both parties agree not to demand anything that would tie the hands of the next president and Congress — that means no long-term spending plans from the Dems, no long-term tax cuts from the GOP. And it seems that the Republicans are already making it clear that they won’t play it that way; they’re trying to hold any help for the economy hostage to their agenda, which is exactly what happened 7 years ago.

January 16, 2008

Boland comment about lieutenant governorship gets his haters frothing

A curious piece in the D/A a couple days ago mentioned the fact that State Rep. Mike Boland has said he might consider a run for lieutenant governor should current LG Pat Quinn decide to move on to other things, which it's widely suspected he will.

For publically musing about such a scenario, Boland has given his legion of freakish haters another chance to froth at the mouth with typical misspellings, fractured grammar, use of ALL CAPS, and dripping with mean-spiritedness as usuual, as evidenced by the comments the piece attracted.

The Jacobs faction has been driven half mad by frustration at their inability to drive a stake through Boland's heart and his Rasputin-like refusal to simply die and go away despite having everything including the kitchen sink thrown at him.

This time around they're pinning hopes on Jerry Lack, and braying incessantly about how Lack has former boss Lane Evan's endorsement, as well as those of a few other local Dem honchos. Apparently they feel that this annointment is all that's needed, as if it's been decreed by God himself that the people of this land must therefore vote Lack.

It's admittedly baffling as to why in the world Boland would ever discuss even hypothetical ambitions for higher office when he's facing a tough primary.

As illustrious commenter "Yellow Dog Democrat" opined in comments on a post mentioning this matter at Capitol Fax, "Why, WHY would you launch rumors that you are planning on seeking statewide office when you are in the middle of a primary campaign and expected to face a stiff General Election challenge once again?

Madigan’s staff must’ve choked on their coffee when they read that one."

Dare to dream

Could it be? Could it be possible that at least one party is able to conduct a vigorous campaign without resorting to lies, cheap shots, and distortions?

It appeared so during the Democratic Debate held last night in Vegas.

I don't know how long I can dare hope it will hold, but for one brief shining moment, the country got a glimpse of how politics could be, should be, and must be.

Though Dennis Kucinich was barred from the event, which depending on your view, is or isn't a good thing, the remaining three candidates displayed a remarkable degree of mutual respect and discipline in avoiding going for the cheap shot at every opportunity, something which has become a "thou shalt" commandment in modern political campaigns.

I don't know who did it, if someone from on high issued an edict, or if the candidates simply realized that they were both going to sink together if they engaged in rancorous sniping, or if they simply sincerely wanted to elevate the tone, but somehow, it happened.

Despite Tim Russert and Brian Williams incessantly trying to dangle the most eggregious and antagonistic spin in front of them in attempts to provoke an angry response, they steadfastly refused to take the bait. It was enormously refreshing, like a breath of fresh air and a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.

As I wrote in a comment to a previous post, the attempt to portray Clinton as somehow "denigrating" MLK Jr. was disgusting, ludicrous, and willfully dishonest, and it was shameful of the Obama campaign to even put it out there. Of course the press pounced on it like hyennas and got themselves into a lather at the prospect of some huge racial conflict, since this is what they dream of. They absolutely HATE calm rational discourse, and will go to incredible lengths to try to read into things some sort of machiavellian or sinister motive or meaning into even the most benign utterance or action by a candidate, particularly if said candidate appears to be the front-runner, and even moreso if it's Hillary Clinton. (Chris Matthews is positively mentally ill about her and Bill.)

So Russert and Williams dutifully served up all the nastiness, all the lies, all the spin, all the demeaning and false accusations, and one by one, Clinton and Obama refused to take the bait.

They both graciously dismissed it as the pack of lies that it was, said they both agreed that the campaign should avoid personality politics and that they wished to avoid the injection of race or gender into the debate.

The public wants to avoid this as well. So why is it always thrust into our faces?

You got it. The press wants it to be an issue so bad they can taste it. That's why they essentially created it, ran with it, kept jabbering about it for days, and, as Russert explained prior to the debate, he'd have to bring it up tonight because it had been in the press so much and discussed by pundits widely.

This happens often. The press says they have to give a subject a lot of attention. Why? Because the press has given it alot of attention. See? We (the press) decide the issues and what you should think about.

None of the three took the bait. They gently and respectfully drew distinctions based on honest differences on issues, and willingly and gracefully acknowledged points on which they agreed with each other.

To their credit, Williams and Russert established a relaxed atmoshere, which was aided by the fact the candidates were seated, rather than standing stiffly behind podiums. It was refreshing to hear, rather than trying to perpetuate obviously false spin and trying to get candidates to say provocative things in response, Brian Williams actually performing a positive service.

He noted that they'd been getting e-mails which accused Obama of being a Muslim, of swearing his oath of office on the Koran, and of refusing to recite the pledge of allegiance, noting that they'd gotten that sort of thing many times. Without giving them the creedence of asking if it were true, Williams simply asked how the Obama campaign dealt with that sort of dishonest and ignorant sludge.

I was hoping Obama would simply answer that question, but for some reason, he felt the need to actually stop and explain that, yes, he was a Christian, swore his oath on a Bible, and often leads the recitation of the pledge when he's presiding over the Senate. I only would have hoped that he didn't need to do that, but I guess since polls show an amazingly large number of straight out morons out there do believe this tripe, he felt he better simply put it straight.

Kudos for Williams for taking a moment to acknowledge that such ugliness exists in wisper and e-mail campaigns, and allowing Obama to knock down such disgusting ignorance. (Although those who tend to believe stuff like that don't have any use for facts when forming their opinions.)

On one occasion, I believe it was Russert who asked Edwards and then Clinton about their votes on the horrible financial industry sponsored bankrupcy bill they had both voted for.

If this were a Republican debate or a prior Dem debate, the viewer would have to brace for a long-winded weaseley response trying to slither out of a direct answer and change the subject. This is what we've all been forced to accept in the past.

Instead, when asked if they still stood by their votes, both candidates instantly said no, that they considered it a mistake. Clinton tried to wiggle a bit by pointing out that the bill was never passed, but that's immaterial if she voted for it.

But here we had two presidential candidates violating the Rove rule that you NEVER, EVER EVER EVER admit a mistake. They were simply honest, and I have no doubt that voters will honor that and instantly forgive them their error, where if they had instead tried the usual weaseley contortions to avoid admitting a mistake, they would have held it against them. (as they rightly did when Clinton tried to have it both ways with her votes to give Bush blanket authorization on Iraq and the measure naming factions of the Iranian army as a terrorist organization.)

It was a great night to be a Democrat, and it truly showed that politics can, and may actually be, changing for the better. All three candidates came across as knowledgable, sincere, dedicated, capable, and above all, honest. It was clear to all that any one of them would make a capable and inspirational president. To say any of them would be an improvement over Bush would be to damn them with faint praise. All but a few bitter dead-enders realize that anything would be an improvement, Democrat, Republican, and independent.

It was a proud moment when it became clear that they were all going to reject the largely press manufactured conflicts and get back to the things they all agreed on, the need for immediate actions to try to address the many serious and pressing problems facing our country. (as opposed to divisive and distracting wedge issues like gay marriage, etc.) As Hillary noted, Democrats are all family. (though I know a few I wouldn't claim.)

It was truly a night for unity and common purpose, and it was hopeful, helpful, and heartening for the future of our country after suffering the abuse by the current Republican regime and the effort of the right wing to make truth and reality relative things.

And in the meantime, Wink Martindale won the Michigan primary on the Republican side, and Mike Huckabee came straight out and said he wants to ammend the constitution to reflect "God's law", presumably as he sees it.

These days, it's truly good to be a Democrat.

January 13, 2008

Talk about the party of change...

Let's all go back to failed policies. Remember "trickle down" economics? You know, where you slash revenue coming in from the wealthy and dramatically increase spending on the miltary, and through some sort of voodoo, it somehow improves the economy? Yeah, that's the ticket. Why move forward when you can conjure some gauzy fantasy of the past which never existed?

Here's the party ready to boldly go where an amiable dunce went before.

January 11, 2008

For the right, being right isn't necessary.

The Bush era has shown conclusively that in Bushworld, often the more inept and blindingly wrong you are, the more you get elevated and lauded. A few examples are giving the highest civilian honor to CIA chief George Tenet after his miserable failure to provide solid intelligence previous to the invasion of Iraq, Condi Rice for being promoted to the coveted position of Secretary of State after presiding as National Security Advisor over the single worst failure of national security perhaps in our history, the grotesque neo-conman Paul Wolfowitz, prime architect of the nearly insane drive to turn an attack by Saudis directed by a Saudi based in Afghanistan and Pakistan into a disastrous invasion of a country who had absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with the attack, being given the head position at the World Bank, before those who work there sought to have the slime ball expelled and he gave them a reason by giving his main squeeze hundreds of thousands in dubious pay raises, etc.

And there's plenty more.

But on the media side of the coin, there's Bill Kristol.

The routinely brilliant "Tom Tomorrow" (aka Dan Perkins) (Do yourself a favor and read through the Tom Tomorrow archive of recent strips.) recently ran a strip regarding Mr. Kristol in which he includes the following quotes:

September 18, 2002
(war in Iraq) "could have terrifically good effects throughout the Middle East!"

November 21, 2002
(removing Saddam) "would start a chain reaction in the Arab world that would be very healthy."

February 20, 2003
"If we free the people of Iraq, we will be respected in the Arab world... and I think we will be respected around the world!"

March 1, 2003
"Very few wars in American history were prepared better or more thoroughly than this one by this president."

March 5, 2003
"I think we will be vindicated when we find the weapons of mass destruction and when we liberate the people of Iraq!"

April 4, 2003
"There has been a certain amount of pop sociology... that the Shi'a can't get along with the Sunni... there's almost no evidence of that at all!"

April 28, 2003
"The first two battles of this new era are now over. The battles of Afghanistan and Iraq have been won decisively and honorably."

March 22, 2004
(debates over an Iraqi constitution have shown) "the willingness on the part of the diverse ethnic and religious groups to disagree -- peacefully -- and then to compromise!"

March 7, 2005
"The Iraqi elections of January 20th, 2005... could be a key moment -- perhaps the key moment so far -- in vindicating the Bush doctrine as the right response to 9/11!"

November 30, 2005
"It is much more likely that the situation in Iraq will stay more or less the same or improve, in either case, the Republicans will benefit from being the party of victory!"

August 13, 2007
(Invading Iran is) "not a bad idea!"

The strip is entitled, "Failing Upward, a small sampling of the wisdom and insight which has just earned William Kristol a weekly column in the New York Times."

Yes boys and girls, this guy has recently been given one of the world's most prestigious soapboxes from which, it's presumed, he can continue to be jaw-droppingly wrong to a comic degree. Kristol has just been given a weekly column in the New York Times.

Bill Kristol, for those unfamiliar, is perhaps the most pre-eminent pundit, writer, and strategist of the neo-con brand of conservatism and co-founder of the neo-con bible, "The Weekly Standard", which was financed by good old Rupert Murdoch.

Kristol isn't some firebrand. He's cool, calm, and collected, and regarded as the intelectual leader of the political movement that has dominated our country since Bush took office.

When a movement's leader is this spectacularly wrong about everything, what does it say about the movement?

He also founded PNAC, or the "Project for a New American Century" which is infamous for having strenuously argued for invading Iraq long before 9-11, and in effect establishing a new American empire, essentially taking over the world, by sheer military force.

The strip can be read here.

Let the swift-boating begin

The excellent Joe Conason observes that it's not a matter of if, but when, the right wing begins deploying their smear campaign against Obama, and describes how it will be done.

Yet another comment snafu

I've had to do this with alarming regularity, but I'm afraid I've just discovered that several comments submitted to the Inside Dope have somehow ended up in the "spam" department of my email program. I salvaged a few tonight, but don't know how many have previously been uncerimoniously deleted (the spam filter has been so reliable previously, that I don't usually even look at what it identifies as spam before deleting them.)

So once more, my appologies to any and all in case your comments got misidentified as spam. Hopefully their weren't too many who suffered this fate.

January 10, 2008

Amtrak report favorable to rail service extention to QCs

I just took a peek at the snappily named blog "Midwest High Speed Rail, Improving Amtrak Incrementally", a blog further described as ,"An ongoing discussion led by the Midwest High Speed Rail Association on creating a modern, high-speed passenger rail network by improving and building upon existing Amtrak service. We also discuss national and international transportation policy." (Wish they'd be more specific) and discovered some interesting news about, unsurprisingly, high-speed rail.

It seems Amtrak recently released the results of its feasibility report on extending Amtrak service to the Quad Cities from Chicago which you can examine by clicking this link.

It's projected cost is $14 to $23 million, which is dirt cheap compared to other transportation projects according to the blog's author, Dan Johnson-Weinberger. Read his informative post here.

Judging by the enthusiastic tone of the post, it appears that passenger rail service returning to the Quad Cities may be more that just another good idea that never gets accomplished/funded/completed/etc.

Let's hope the idea makes steady progress and becomes a reality in due time. You might be able to relax and be wisked through the countryside to a Cubs game or a day at the museums sometime in the not too distant future.

Account of confrontation with Iranian small boats now falling apart

Like so many other attempts to gin up conflicts from President Jr. and the gang, the communication between Iranian small boats and a U.S. Navy gunship is now appearing to fall apart at the seams after attempts to inflate its fear factor.
The list of those who are less than fully confident in the Pentagon’s video/audio mashup of aggressive maneuvers by Iranian boats near American warships in the Strait of Hormuz now includes the Pentagon itself.

Unnamed Pentagon officials said on Wednesday that the threatening voice heard in the audio clip, which was released on Monday night with a disclaimer that it was recorded separately from the video images and merged with them later, is not directly traceable to the Iranian military.

That undercuts one of the most menacing elements from the Pentagon’s assertion that Iranian forces threatened the Navy ships: The voice on the radio saying, "I am coming to you. … You will explode after … minutes."

Here’s an excerpt from an article in this morning’s New York Times on the Pentagon’s assessment of the audio:
The audio includes a heavily accented voice warning in English that the Navy warships would explode. However, the recording carries no ambient noise — the sounds of a motor, the sea or wind — that would be expected if the broadcast had been made from one of the five small boats that sped around the three-ship American convoy.

Pentagon officials said they could not rule out that the broadcast might have come from shore, or from another ship nearby, although it might have come from one of the five fast boats with a high-quality radio system.
Earlier on Wednesday, a reader posted a comment on The Lede claiming to be a former Navy officer with experience in the Strait of Hormuz and offering an explanation for how easily a mistake could have been made by Navy personnel trying to sift through radio transmissions filled with chatter:
All ships at sea use a common UHF frequency, Channel 16, also known as "bridge-to bridge" radio. Over here, near the U.S., and throughout the Mediterranean, Ch. 16 is used pretty professionally, i.e., chatter is limited to shiphandling issues, identifying yourself, telling other ships what your intentions are to avoid mishaps, etc.

But over in the Gulf, Ch. 16 is like a bad CB radio. Everybody and their brother is on it; chattering away; hurling racial slurs, usually involving Filipinos (lots of Filipinos work in the area); curses involving your mother; 1970’s music broadcast in the wee hours (nothing odder than hearing The Carpenters 50 miles off the coast of Iran at 4 a.m.)

On Ch. 16, esp. in that section of the Gulf, slurs/threats/chatter/etc. is commonplace. So my first thought was that the "explode" comment might not have even come from one of the Iranian craft, but some loser monitoring the events at a shore facility.
The commenter, who signed his posting "SWO officer," went on to say, "I hope everybody exercises great caution here and doesn't jump to conclusions."

President Bush was criticized today for doing the opposite. According to The Washington Post, "some diplomatic and military officials in Washington" said that Mr. Bush’s statements on arriving in Israel Wednesday "inflated the significance of the brief incident" in the strait.

In his remarks, Mr. Bush warned Iran that "all options are on the table to protect our assets."
Bush instantly stated it was a provocative act and rattled some sabers, but then again he doesn't know any other response.

Read the piece from the NY Times here.

Of course, along with little George, the gullible righties and armchair admirals among us ate this story up with a spoon, rushing to try to convince others that this was yet more evidence that we should be shivering in fear and ready to get our war on against Iran. At least one regarded it as solid proof that Iran was going to come eat our pets and kick over our garbage cans and that anyone who didn't mindlessly get on board the fear train was an idiot.

Perhaps they should look in the mirror?

Won't it be nice when cooler, rational, heads prevail after January? Imagine, a president who doesn't treat us all like idiots by thinking his duty is to decieve and con us at every turn.

Is this a plus?

9:00 a.m. Kerry is endorsing Obama, further lending credence to the fact that there's no love lost between he and Edwards.

But seriously, I'm not sure a thumbs up from Kerry, who still bears the aura of defeat, is going to inspire too many voters.

I've never really understood why endorsements are so prominently reported and covetted and considered big triumphs when I don't see how they bring in any appreciable number of votes to speak of. (unless of course it's a group with many voting members, such as unions, etc. but even then, their numbers are usually a drop in the bucket in the scheme of things.)

This paragraph provided a partial explaination...
While congressional endorsements do not necessarily translate into votes from the rank-and-file, they do indicate how the Democratic establishment views the race. The fact that both Obama and Clinton are racking up high-level endorsements from lawmakers and unions indicates the fierce competitiveness of the battle for the nomination.

Just a little ice cream

Here's a little palate cleanser after the first two primaries.

Prudes, those under 18, pregnant and nursing mothers, the easily offended, and those less than this tall are hearby duly warned. Arctic-Americans may be offended.

There's no humor like chimp humor.

January 9, 2008

Clinton benefits from backlash against press attacks

As I mentioned in my extremely long analysis prior to the New Hampshire primary, I felt the press and pundits had been particularly nasty and even sexist in their near gleeful piling on Hillary Clinton and eager to pronounce her campaign all but over.

Apparently I wasn't the only one, as New Hampshire voters made a mockery of polls and the punditocracy and sent a message that they didn't appreciate the unfair treatment at all.

Clinton's victory was in large part due to support by women voters, who far exceeded any predictions and likely spelled the difference for Hillary. It's hard to avoid the speculation that this was largely due to the exact thing pundits predicted would be Clinton's doom, namely the vastly overblown attention paid to her getting a bit emotional when speaking about the trials of the trail, so to speak.

Another theory easily arrived at is that voters in New Hampshire, famously independent, reacted against the presses over-awed annointing of Obama as the one with the simply insurmountable momentum and rabid overwhelming support.


They were all wrong, as were all of the polls, which has led to their usual self-obsessed navel gazing in an attempt to find a reason they were all so spectacularly wrong. They never stop to realize that they usually are (wrong), nor do they dare consider the fact that they themselves, in their zeal to influence perceptions and thus shape the race, very well may have caused many voters to vote for Clinton as a means of bucking their influence and as a reaction against their fickle promoting of one candidate and trashing another one moment, and then turning on a dime as their notions prove dead wrong. (and bear in mind that folks like Chris Matthews and many others make MILLIONS of dollars, literally, for routinely getting it wrong. Matthews even has a summer home in Nantucket, and like another multi-millionaire completely dependent on huge corporations for their enormous salaries, Tim Russert, not exactly the working class Joes they often portray themselves as.)

What's your take on the upset in New Hampshire?

Gustafson event rescheduled

Fliers had already been distributed for a fundraising event for chief deputy coronor and Dem candidate for RI county coroner Brian Gustafson, but due to a conflict with an event for RI Democratic Chairman John Gianulis, the event has been rescheduled.

The event has been moved to Wednesday, January 16th at the Pauper's Den, Silvis from 5 until 8 p.m. Donations are appreciated but not required.

Mitt Romney, almost human

Just happened to be re-watching coverage of tonights events in New Hampshire when MSNBC showed Willard Mitt Romney's speech acknowledging his second place finish.

Romney is like mayonaise on white bread, and usually as forgettable as what you had for lunch 8 years ago, but as I glanced at the TV, I saw something that was heartwarming.

As Romney turned stiffly to acknowledge his wife and family, a darling little dark haired girl, whom I presume must be Romney's grand-daughter, stepped forward and sweetly tried to take his hand. It was a great moment and almost made Romney look human.

But within seconds, I noticed that the girl was standing back near where she had been. What happened?

I rewound the video and saw that Romney had, without moving so much as a muscle, let alone glancing down at this girl or acknowledging her presense in any way, held her hand when she had reached for his his... for about two seconds.

Then, all the while without even looking at her, he instantly started trying to drop her hand, finally succeeding by simply opening his hand and dropping hers.

The poor girl then had nothing to do but to rather distractedly wander back towards her parents.

What a stiff. What a creep. What a "family guy".

The famous W.C. Fields line, "Get away from me kid, ya bother me." sprung to mind.

Fortunately, the speech is up on You Tube already. Unfortunately, the clip is a bit tiny, and they throw up a graphic a split second after the moment Mitt dumps the little girl's hand. But you can still make it out.

Watch closely at around 1:40 into this clip. Romney never so much as glances at the girl as he drops her hand a split second before the graphic pops up and she's left to wander away.

Gee, I wonder where he ever got the reputation as being phoney?

January 8, 2008

Clinton rolls, Obama gets nicked, and McCain is the comeback septuagenarian

What a night.

The pundits were sitting there with egg all over their faces, and those who were most spectacularly wrong, namely Chris Matthews, were particularly humiliated.

They ALL had it wrong. How predictable and refreshing to see them sit there with their egos struggling to come up with a way to dismiss or excuse their lazy pack mentality.

Hillary is back. Obama returns to among us mere mortals, Edwards vows to soldier on, McCain returns from the dead, and Willard slides towards irrelevancy.

The race is living up to its billing and proving to be likely the most exciting and genuinely democratic race of our generation. And the people aren't buying what the pundits are selling. It's all good.

Michael Moore shares his thoughs on the Dem field and notices the QCs

I read Michael Moore's recent missive with interest, as I do admire the man and, having finally been able to watch "Sicko", his talent as a socially concious documentary film maker.

Essentially, Moore liked Clinton, but her votes on the war and other positions has taken the bloom off the rose.

Obama? Nice guy, great speeches, but cast some troubling votes which benefitted corporate interests in insurance, banking, and other industries which made things worse for the average citizen. Moore enumerates a few other reasons he's not too hot on Barack.

He does like Edwards, primarily because he's the only candidate that comes out and says what everyone knows, namely that corporations have a stranglehold on this country and it's government, and vows to take them on directly.

You can read the entire letter here if you care to.

But what caught my eye was the close of the letter...

Michael Moore (not an Iowa voter, but appreciative of any state that has a town named after a sofa)

Hillary pilloried and other thoughts on the big story

(Reminder: There's still Americans being killed in Iraq. You many not know it since the war has utterly vanished from the news.)

Since the Iowa caucuses the press and pundits have seemed unnaturally eager to cast Clinton in the most negative light possible, both personally and as far as her election prospects are concerned.

And the pundits, at least some of them, are just as jaw-droppingly wrong, petty, and unserious as they usually are, if not worse.

It's long been apparent to me and many others that Chris Matthews of MSNBC has a particularly virulent case of Clinton obsession. He clearly has some mental hang-up with both Bill and Hillary and can regularly be caught saying the most insane things about them, usually reflecting a willingness to go to any lengths to twist or psychoanalyse them into an extremely negative light.

This has been going on for years, and has driven me nuts for about that long. It sometimes seems he can't possibly get through a show without him dragging whatever it was Hillary did or said into the discussion, often obsessing in a prurient way what their marriage must be like, or what Bill must have thought about what she did or said or vice-versa. To listen to his insane preoccupation with the two is truly bizarre, and even when he tries to get his guests to agree, they kind of back away and try to gently suggest that they wouldn't go THAT far.

So of course, I fully expected the entire Hardball show to be about Hillary (horrors) actually showing a bit of emotion on the campaign trail.

I first heard about this from Wolf Blitzer as he breathlessly said that Clinton had had some sort of break-down on the trail, and, (I'm not making this up) quickly following the announcement by asking the question, "Will this spell the end of her campaign?"

It's hard to imagine that our elite pundit corp is this stupid. And they're the ones who truly shape the election and can change perceptions entirely in a game where perception is all.

Hillary, who it must be noted, had NOT cried, but merely showed some emotion in her voice when talking about her desire to run for president. (Who was the Republican whose voice cracked earlier in the campaign? Remember how that was considered a real touching moment and proof of his sincerity? Wasn't it Rudy?)

But when asked how she endured a truly inhuman schedule and the unbearable stress and responsibility of a campaign, answered in a personal way.

THIS is what she said in response to a woman asking her how she does it. This is her remarks in context, all of it, and not cut up to feature the emotional bit:
It's not easy, it's not easy. And I couldn't do it if I just didn't, you know, passionately believe it was the right thing to do. You know, I have so many opportunities from this country. I just don't want to see us fall backwards, you know? So.


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. And some people think elections are a game. They think it's like who's up or who's down. It's about our country, and it's about our kids' futures. And it's really about all of us, together. You know, some of us put ourselves out there and do this against some pretty difficult odds. And we do it, each one of us, because we care about our country.

But some of us are right and some of us are wrong. Some of us are ready, and some of us are not. Some of us know what we will do on day one, and some of us haven't really thought that through enough. And so, when we look at the array of problems we have, and the potential for it getting -- really spinning out of control, this is one of the most important elections America's ever faced.

So, as tired as I am -- and I am -- and as difficult as it is to kind of keep up what I try to do on the road, like occasionally exercise and try to eat right -- it's tough when the easiest food is pizza -- I just believe so strongly in who we are as a nation. So I'm going to do everything I can to make my case, and, you know, then the voters get to decide. Thank you all.

She did not sob, her voice did not catch, there were no tears. She held it together, but in talking about the thousand of people she's seen during the campaign, emotion showed briefly in her voice.

Recall, if you will, that nearly across the board, dozens of pundits all adopted the collective wisdom that Hillary's problem in the campaign a few weeks ago was that she was simply too stiff. Too scripted, too controlled. She didn't have a human dimension. You all remember that. Not enough emotion. Not feminine enough. Matthews said it over and over.

But now Matthews felt no compunction with trying desperately to start some new story line. His? He plucked her comment about not wanting to, "see us fall backwards" as some big dig at Obama and reflexively tried to make it fit the "Obama vs. Clinton" cage match story line they have always loved.

To their credit, non of his guests would agree with his assessment, and all tried to tell Matthews that it was simply a sincere answer and reaction from Clinton, something that apparently is simply beyond comprehension for him.

Edwards capitalized on the moment, using it to suggest that he's made of steel and the job of president demands that quality, and that Hillary was showing that she was too weak and/or emotional for the job. I was very disappointed to hear him go there, to say the least. Obama by contrast, expressed that he could certainly understand how exhausted she must be.

Clinton; too wooden, too controlled, too stiff, too tough for a woman. Now she shows a trace of human emotion. Not crying, just a bit of emotion in her voice. And since her campaign is perceived to be on the ropes, now it's, Clinton; too soft, too emotional, not tough enough for the job. Pundits instantly do a head-snapping 180 without a trace of realizing how ridiculous they sound

It's insane. Watch them do this the rest of the way as they have so far. Desperately trying to shape the race to fit a pleasing story line and desperately grasping at straws to try to invent one.

In addition to being beaten up over this episode, Clinton was also dissected for appearing angry during a recent debate. All I can say is, if I were getting beaten by a guy who did nothing but talk about lofty platitudes and was never held to provide details on just how he "hopes" to accomplish them, while my past accomplishments and experience were being roundly ignored or dismissed, I think I might get a little strident when I tried to make my case too.

And again, one has to wonder if a male candidate spoke forcefully, if he'd get the same condemnation, or if it would be considered a plus.

I hold no special love for Hillary, and I do like Obama, though I can't shake some nagging misgivings and the feeling that his popularity is based almost entirely on just that... emotional feelings, and not concrete substance. I also have a natural inclination to defend the underdog, whomever they may be, and in this case, it's Hillary that seems to be clearly getting rolled, mischaracterized, and spun in the most negative light possible. And I think it's clearly unfair.

I watch a Hillary appearance at a Q&A session and she does brilliantly. She impressed the hell out of me. I watch Obama and it's all raw excitement. He can pull off standing on the mountain-top and making lofty pronouncements of broad positive themes. This is all well and good, as I believe a large and crucial part of the role of president is to set the tone and inspire the country and provide a vision of how great it can be. That can't be emphasized enough, and no one does it better than Obama. But where's the beef?

I'm also inclined to look beyond the hype in these situations, and to avoid getting too swept up in the emotional reaction. And I get the feeling that people, including the press, are rolled by the truly impressive emotion Obama inspires in supporters, and they're largely giving him a pass on everything else.

All discussion of Obama is almost in passing and then only to note with a tone of awe just how impressive his speeches are, how he's attracting huge and immensely enthusiastic crowds, which include large numbers of independents and even Republicans who've been swept up in his appeal.

When's the last time you've heard about how his health care proposal doesn't cover everyone? Do you even know what it is? What's his stance on immigration? On taxes? On the environment? I'm sure he has position papers available on his website, but I don't recall hearing much about any particular issues during his many debate appearances.

I get the feeling he's on the same path as Bush was, where he is simply getting a free pass, never expected to discuss in any detail any of his polices or be asked how he expects to accomplish any of his laudable visions for the country.

He's simply so popular that no one wants to burst the bubble. Even pundits like to run a hero up the flagpole every now and then. The Obama phenomena shows clearly just how desperate the country is for an inspirational leader, a hero, a savior who can somehow fix all the damage that's been done. (Thanks George for f-ing up the country and the planet so thorougly that no Republican will hold the presidency for some time to come. You've messed up so bad people don't even want to take a chance on another white guy.)

I'm sure much more scrutiny will be directed towards his actual plans should Obama emerge the nominee, which seems pretty damn inevitable at this point.

The fact is that I find myself with a happy delimma. I think Edwards, Clinton, and Obama would ALL make fine presidents. I could happily vote for any of them, though I have to admit I'd feel a nagging inkling of risk voting for the relatively inexperienced Edwards or Obama, hoping against hope that they'd be as capable of the job as they say they are. With Clinton, I'm torn between her being the only "known quantity" and knowing that she could most easily assume the duties of a president and do a capable and good job, and the feeling that she'd play the game to a certain extent as it always has been. A Washington player playing the Washington game, and unwilling to step on the toes of her corporate, defense industry, insurance industry, and other donors. Status quo, as Obama and Edwards paint her.

I guess I'm caught between the much hyped "change" and "experienced" message themes, feeling that there's merit to both of them and they're both good reasons to support a candidate.

In that respect, I've also realized something that no one seems to point out. And that's that experience and change are not mutually exclusive. The fact that you have experience with how the levers of power operate in Washington does not mean that you can't advocate and accomplish serious change in the way business is done there.

In that respect, Obama or Edwards aren't the only ones who could represent change. But Clinton is the only one who could represent both experience AND change.

It's a tough choice, obviously.

It's like being a judge at a talent contest where there are three people who just knock your socks off, but one played an instrument, one danced, and one sang. You almost wish they could all win. They all are talented enough, they all "get it" and are professionals, and any one of them could be a star.

It's very tough to choose, but I guess that's a good problem to have.

On the Republican side, I sometimes almost get a twinge of sympathy for the legions of hard-core righties out there. Listen to Willard Romney speak about anything for even a few minutes and you're bound to hear at least three really ridiculous notions. Huckabee is likely a Hucka-not-to-bee, in my estimation, though he may fool people.

McCain is just too damn old in contrast to Obama, though he shouldn't be underestimated. Polling has shown he's the most formidable opponent for nearly any Dem nominee. An Obama - McCain match up would be one hell of a dust-up, and a really wrenching time of choice for the country, providing as it would a clear generational choice of leadership and vision for the direction of our country.

But McCain, bless his heart, is just too old, too wedded to the military, and continues to say things such as that he expects us to be in Iraq for the next 100 years.

The fact is that if you listen to ANY of the Republican candidates with a critical ear for any length of time, and it's usually not long, you'll hear something just downright dumb, and always, always, you'll hear some policy or view that's based on stuff that's simply NOT TRUE, as when McCain stated yesterday that the surge in Iraq has saved a huge amount of our soldiers lives. (When in actuality, more lives were lost last year than any since the war began.)

Romney is more and more cartoonish with each passing day. Rudy is coming off as more transparantly nutty and unqualified with each passing day. And neither Romney nor Rudy seem to have any rational for their candidacies whatsoever aside from the fact that they want to be president. (We won't even go into the bizarre candidacy of Fred Thompson, the supposed second coming of Ronald Reagan.)

Huckabee is the only one appearing sane, until you read some of the truly whacko notions he's expressed in the past.

On the Democratic side, I find myself in a fairly enviable position, as I think many Dems do, and that's with more than one candidate who would be an excellent leader.

This is why, though I'd soured a bit on Clinton, I truly feel sorry to see her fortunes flagging after Iowa. And every time I see her or Edwards (Or Biden and Dodd or even Richardson for that matter) and the pundits write them off, or they drop out of the race prematurely for purely financial reasons, I find myself hoping against hope that whomever does win the nomination and thus the presidency, will quickly involved them in their government.

Every candidate has so much to offer and could play an important role in reshaping the country after the long national nightmare we've endured for the past 7 years and during every Republican administration in the past few decades.

Which brings me to the subject being bandied about and brought to the forefront by a conference of prominent political moderates held at the University of Oklahoma yesterday, and that's this ongoing call for bipartisanship and cooperation.

I don't like it.

They're calling for the next president to essentially promise to include members of the opposite party in their cabinet, and not simply token members. (like whats-his-name the Dem transportation secretary in Bush's cabinet)

When one party, one ideology, has so thoroughly drug the country down into the ditch in nearly every measurable way, why the obligation to continue to allow them to influence policy?

Perhaps I'm getting a faulty reading on this, but I don't see that the country would even want to let the ya-hoos and crooks who've mislead this country so ineptly and wrongly to be extended the honor of continuing to influence it's course.

I can see an argument being made that the nasty, brutish name calling war started and inflamed by the Republicans under Newt Gingrich and continued for decades afterward by the likes of Tom Delay, in which it was encouraged to describe members of the Democratic party as "traitors" "devients", and "un-American" should be ended.

But I also think that the Republicans better exhibit a tone of proper humility and change their behavior and outlook drastically before they deserve to be offered what, after all, they steadfastly refused to offer their Democratic counterparts for decades.

Cooperation for the good of the country? Hell yes. Continuing to give credence to crazy, costly, destructive and divisive right wing ideology? Hell no.