Archive for February, 2008

Conflicted on Ralf Nader

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

In what would be an act of self-parody of near epic proportions, Ralph Nader may be getting ready to make another run for the presidency. I find myself strangely conflicted by the news.

On the one hand, I suppose there’s always the very remote possibility that out of the half dozen or so votes he’d get nationwide, enough of them might fall into one battleground state to help McCain win. To be honest, though, that’s kind of like refusing to go outside because you’re afraid space junk may fall on you. It’s conceivable, but there are a lot of other things to worry about first.

On the other hand, speaking as someone who’s never forgiven Nader for what he did to this country in 2000, I’ll confess that there’s a small part of me (and I’m not proud of this) that would like to see him humiliated, as he will be if he runs this year.

Being dubbed the Harold Stassen of our era might just be an apt sort of justice for Saint Ralph.

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Question of the day: Will the endless nomination fight hurt the Democrats?

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

There appear to be two separate lines of conventional wisdom on this: some say the ongoing Democratic contest gives John McCain a golden opportunity to gain traction by attacking the Democrats when they’re preoccupied with bickering with each other: a second thread of conventional wisdom, however, holds that the Democrats won’t be harmed — and may even be helped — so long as things don’t get too negative in the Hillary v. Barack slugfest.

This takes me back to something one of my political science professors said in college (yes, it was a long time ago). He thought that in general having a strong primary opponent in a race is helpful to the ultimate winner of the nomination, since it forces him or her to put a good organization on the ground early. That makes sense to me.

If, for example, Obama ends up winning, he’ll already have a superb organization in place in many of the most important states in the general election, left over from the earlier primaries and caucuses. His debating skills have also clearly improved with practice. Therefore, I’m not all that bothered by the thought of having the nomination fight continue through Ohio and Texas, or even, if need be (although this gets a bit more dicey), all the way to April 22 in Pennsylvania.

Besides, I’m just not that sure that seeing more of John McCain is going to endear him to the public. His high approval ratings are largely reflective of the mythical John McCain, created by an adoring media: the real McCoy McCain may not wear as well.

So, what do you think? Will the endless nomination fight hurt the Democrats?

You know you need to chill out on the primaries when . . .

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

. . . you threaten to go to Canada because your very good Democratic candidate may be losing to another very good Democratic candidate.

Let’s all pick our Obama cult names

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Since it’s apparently been established that those of us who support Obama have all been taken in by the “trappings of a messianic cult,” it’s only proper that we should all take really cool new cult names.

From now on I’ll be known as Moonbat Express.

Great, huh? Properly cultish, yet with just the right splash of corporate-chic.

Oldfartgate: Letterman making fun of McCain’s age is big

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

It may not be fair, but having David Letterman making fun of John McCain for being a tired old man is a very big deal politically. There’s no doubt at all that Letterman’s constant ribbing of Bob Dole as too old to be president back in 1996 helped define Dole that way in the popular culture.

Democrats will have to walk on eggs when even approaching the issue of Oldfartgate, but comedians won’t. If this becomes a regular part of the comic “shtick” on McCain it will hurt him.

Stay tuned.

Postscript: I hereby lay claim as originator of the term “Oldfartgate” soon to sweep the nation. Remember you read it here first!

George Patton was a poet: Obama can be a warrior

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

To state the obvious, using words that could easily have come from Limbaugh, Malkin or Coulter to describe a large percentage of Democratic voters is probably not a good way to promote Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. But, as you’ve probably heard, that’s exactly how Clinton supporter, Tom Buffenbarger, president of the machinists’ union, described Obama supporters Tuesday night

But it was Obama supporters for whom Buffenbarger saved his most vitriolic contempt, and he proved that the Democratic Party’s coalition is nothing if not fragile. Channeling Howard Beale from the movie “Network,” he yelled into the microphone, “Give me a break! I’ve got news for all the latte-drinking, Prius- driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust fund babies crowding in to hear him speak! This guy won’t last a round against the Republican attack machine. He’s a poet, not a fighter.”

Amazing, huh? A Clinton surrogate describing Obama supporters as “latte-drinking, Prius- driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust fund babies?” I mean, that’s just so Fox News.
Okay, let’s be fair: Clinton can’t be held responsible for everything one of her supporters says, and to their credit, many people in the pro-Clinton crowd listening to Buffenbarger reportedly were unhappy with his comments (or at least the length of his speech). The Clinton campaign almost certainly didn’t approve the speech before it was given (Clinton may be willing to play rough, but she isn’t stupid).
It would be a mistake, however, to dismiss these words entirely. Rhetorical overkill, notwithstanding, Buffenbarger did accurately identify the biggest concern most Democrats have with the Obama ascendancy: the question of whether he’s tough enough to withstand the coming right wing slimefest.

We will start to get a good idea on this very soon, as the crazies have already started training their guns on Obama — and his wife. 
Time will tell, but I’m optimistic. It may be true, as Buffenbarger said, that Obama has the soul of a poet. But contrary to what Buffenbarger was trying to suggest, it’s possible to be both a poet and a fighter. General George S. Patton, Old Blood and Guts himself, for example, was a prolific poet.
Besides, exactly when did having a talent for inspirational speech become evidence of a lack of fortitude? Was John Kennedy a wimp, FDR a wuss and Martin Luther King, Jr. a shrinking violet? Or, to give the right wingers their due, was General Douglas MacArthur, who was a brilliant speaker, a girly-man who couldn’t take a blow?
Barack Obama may have been a rookie in presidential politics when he started this campaign, but he isn’t one now. We know that because he’s been besting (at least so far) what is arguably the most formidable political couple of the last 50 years. Simply stated, he’s kicking the butts of the best in the business. 

John McCain is a second string player compared to Bill and Hillary Clinton. 

Sure, the right wing attack machine will go after Obama viciously. It’s going to get ugly, real ugly. But where precisely did people get the idea that Obama is naively unprepared for the coming tsunami? Think about his campaign so far. When has he ever been caught seriously flatfooted? When, despite going up against the very best has he committed a near-fatal blunder?
Color me a believer. This guy knows what he’s doing. Obama may not win (given the media’s love affair with John McCain overconfidence would be foolish), but he’s no soft touch.  

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We’re gonna kick us some satellite butt!

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

As you’ve no doubt heard, the US is getting ready to shoot a missile at one of our own satellites, as soon as the weather clears. The official story is we’re doing it in an effort to protect against possible injury to earth dwellers when the satellite, which is in a decaying orbit, comes crashing down. Experts are skeptical and think that there may be an ulterior motive at play, such as showing the Chinese that we can blow us up a satellite just as well as they can (and at 10 times the cost!).

To which I say: Jeez, haven’t we had enough already from these Iraq cakewalk and weapons of mass destruction denying, global warming affirming and tax cuts can cure everything doubting so-called experts?

Personally, I think a satellite that can’t shoot back is the perfect target for proving our manly-manliness. This is even better than Grenada! Unfortunately, this time Clint Eastwood will probably be too old to play one of the brave warriors when the movie’s made.  

Cheesehead primary blogging

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

We here at The Last Chance Democracy Café will once again tonight be putting our large staff and daunting media resources to the test, sitting in our easy chair, blogging the Wisconsin primary (we’re far too wimpy to stay up for Hawaii). Drop by from time to time for updates on this thread.

Once considered a mere drive by on the road to Ohio and Texas, Wisconsin is starting to look like a big deal on the Democratic side. There’s a sense in the air that Hillary might just pull off an “upset,” which, of course, would start a feeding frenzy about Obama having peaked and the air coming out of his bubble.

My only comment at this point is that if Hillary does well, it won’t be because of the big — and stupid — “plagiarism” dustup. It will be a case of pre-wedding jitters. As I’ve said before, Democrats like both of these candidates. Even more importantly, however, we’re desperate to win this time. We don’t want to fu*k it up again. Thus, any time we get close to sealing the deal, as happened before New Hampshire, there’s a tendency to step back and whisper, “but on the other hand . . .”

We’ll see.

Speaking of things on the other hand — if, on the other hand, Obama beats expectations again and creams Hillary, it’s going to be awfully difficult for her to recover. With the Aloha State thrown in that would make 10 straight big wins for Obama. That’s hard to argue with.

Along those lines, one Obama backer, Kos, seems to be losing no sleep over a possible late Hillary comeback in the state.

Update one (6:11 fly-over states time): Exit polling shows 25 percent of voters independents: 15 percent first time voters. Advantage Obama?

Update two (8:35 fly-over states time): That was quick. McCain and Obama win. The details should be interesting.

Update three (8:55 fly-over state time): The exit polls are looking brutal for Hillary. Obama swamped her among men and almost matched her among women. He leads substantially in all age groups except 60 and older.

Assuming Obama takes Hawaii later, as seems inevitable, it will be 10 straight large Obama wins. It’s getting hard to see how Hillary comes back from that.

For better or worse, the Democrats are very close to having picked their champion.

Update four (10:31 fly-over state time): For a long time we’ve been hearing how naïve Obama is — how unprepared he is for the rough and tumble of the general election to come. All of which raises an interesting question: if Obama is such a babe in the woods, how is he able to so regularly run circles around what was the most effective political couple of the generation?

The law (or at least the Supreme Court) is an ass

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

In Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, when told that “the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction,” Mr. Bumble replies “If the law supposes that, the law is a ass — a idiot.”

Given the Supreme Court’s decision to refuse to hear a case challenging the Bush Administration’s (almost certainly) unlawful domestic spying, the exasperated Mr. Bumble may have a point.

(AP) Court rejects domestic spying appeal

The Supreme Court rejected a challenge Tuesday to the Bush administration’s domestic spying program.

The justices’ decision, issued without comment, is the latest setback to legal efforts to force disclosure of details of the warrantless wiretapping that began after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The American Civil Liberties Union wanted the court to allow a lawsuit by the group and individuals over the wiretapping program. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the suit, saying the plaintiffs could not prove their communications had been monitored.

The government has refused to turn over information about the closely guarded program that could reveal who has been under surveillance.

ACLU legal director Steven R. Shapiro has said his group is in a “Catch-22″ because the government says the identities of people whose communications have been intercepted is secret. But only people who know they have been wiretapped can sue over the program, Shapiro has said.

The Supreme Court hears only a small fraction of the cases in which review is sought: the Court’s refusal to hear a case creates no precedent. In other words, this was a non-decision by the Supreme Court.

Unfortunately, it’s a non-decision that leaves intact the lower court’s holding dismissing the case for lack of standing.

So let’s add this up. Neither the 6th Circuit nor the Supreme Court has ruled that Bush’s domestic snooping is constitutionally proper. Instead, the 6th Circuit has simply refused to address the issue because the plaintiffs lack standing. And the Supreme Court has declined to get involved.

Infuriating? Without a doubt. But before getting too carried away, it’s important to note that the requirement of standing isn’t just some wimpy judicial excuse for avoiding an issue: it goes to the heart of our constitutional system.


Question of the day: What should the Democrats do about Joe Lieberman?

Monday, February 18th, 2008

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