Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Shouldn't Talk About The Weather...

...shouldn't talk about the government" the REM song goes. We're seeing the return of the "Obama and the Weathermen Underground" meme this week over at Just One Minute as the answer to the question "What else has the media been sitting on about the Democrats?"
So Obama has a relationship with Ayers that can be documented from 1995 and almost surely came into being in 1987. Jerome Corsi mentions the Annenberg Challenge in his book - any guesses as to whether Media Matters, the Times, or the WaPo will fact-check that? Obama either lied (by ommisison) or had an absurdly hazy memory at the debate and in the web-site follow-up - any chance the media will wonder what he is hiding and why?

The truth will out - Steve Diamond of Global Labor owns this story and I am riding in his wake - but the Times will be the last to find this news that's fit to print.

Well, I'll be honest there's a lot of stuff there about Obama and his relationship with Ayers...but I mean if we're going to talk about Presidential candidates with long-term relationships with unsavory characters with disturbing viewpoints on America, and how the media glosses over that candidate's problems and gives them preferential treatment, we're going to be here all day.

One Last Parting Shot...

...on the whole Georgia kerfluffle.

There's a reason I've got McClatchy News over in the links there, they're the best news outfit I've read in a long time. The analysis of the situation by Jonathan Landay is the most complete I've seen, and the questions it raises are shockers (emphasis de Zandar):
Pentagon officials said that despite having 130 trainers assigned to Georgia, they had no advance notice of Georgia’s sudden move last Thursday to send thousands of Georgian troops into South Ossetia to capture that province's capital, Tskhinvali.

Not only did the U.S. troops working alongside their Georgian counterparts not see any signs of an impending invasion, Georgian officials did not notify the U.S. military before the incursion, a senior U.S. defense official told McClatchy.

But the Bush administration had fretted for months over what officials saw as intensifying Russian moves that it feared were aimed at provoking Georgia into a conflict over South Ossetia or Abkhazia, another secessionist province.

Russia has been angry over Georgia's close links with Washington, and has been determined to stop the admission to NATO of its former vassal, which is located on strategic energy and transportation routes to Central Asia.

The Russian actions against Georgia "seemed designed to provoke a Georgian over-reaction," said a senior U.S. official. "We have always counseled restraint to the Georgians."

Some experts, however, wondered whether the administration might have inadvertently sent Saakashvili mixed messages that would have led him to believe he could count on U.S. support if he got into trouble.

Bush lavished praise on the U.S.-educated Georgian leader as a "beacon of democracy." He gave military training and equipment to Georgia, which supplied the third-largest contingent to the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, and had promised NATO membership, they said. He visited the country in 2005 and addressed a huge crowd from the same podium as Saakashvili.

"The Russians have clearly overreacted but President Saakashvili . . . for some reason seems to think he has a hall pass from this administration," said former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

U.S. officials had been warning of Russian actions designed to provoke Georgia for months.

Nice. Russia got Georgia to lose its cool, they didn't tell the US (or they are totally covering their asses on this) and the rest is history. Can it get worse?
At the same time, U.S. officials said that they believed they had an understanding with Russia that any response to Georgian military action would be limited to South Ossetia.

"We knew they were going to go crack heads. We told them again and again not to do this," the State Department official said. "We thought we had an understanding with the Russians that any response would be South Ossetia-focused. Clearly it's not."

One problem in under-estimating the Russian response, another U.S. official said, was "a dearth of intelligence assets in the region."

U.S. "national technical means," the official name for spy satellites and other technology, are "pretty well consumed by Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan," the official said, and there was only limited monitoring of Russian military movements toward the Georgian border.

...epic fail.

The Hell Is This All About?

Breaking news that the Chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party was shot in his office this afternoon.
The shooter, described as a white male, came into the headquarters before noon and asked for Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Bill Gwatney before firing three shots, CNN affiliate KATV reported.

Little Rock police would not confirm or deny whether Gwatney was shot.

CNN affiliate KTHV reported that a witness working in a nearby shop said Gwatney's assistant ran into the shop and asked her to call 911 because the chairman had been shot.

Little Rock police Lt. Terry Hastings said that the victim was in critical condition at a hospital.

My first question is "Why?" I of course hope Mr. Gwaltney makes a full and speedy recovery.

My second question is "If a man goes into a state party HQ and asks to see the state chair and then shoots him, is it a politically motivated terrorist attack on US soil?"

So If It's Not Bayh...

...then who? Jeralyn at Talk Left has a pretty intriguing theory:
The Vice Presidential candidate speaks at the Democratic Convention on Wednesday night. The theme that night is "Securing America's Future."

So the VP candidate is someone who fits with that theme. Also, according to another report I read elsewhere, military veterans are part of the night's theme.

Could Gen. Wesley Clark be back in the ballgame? His organization is Securing America's Future, the same name as the night's theme. More on that here.

She argues that Wes Clark would actually be a pretty good choice.
Here's Gen. Clark In 2002:

I'm concerned about the lock-up policy, the 3-strikes policy, putting people in jails and the way we've treated people in prison. We've got to look seriously at the American penal system and what it does when it returns the streets." Source: WBUR Public Radio interview Jun 19, 2003

On the Patriot Act in 2004:

I will suspend the portions of the Patriot Act that have to do with search and seizure law, and we'll go back to old way with probable cause and judges and warrants, and then we'll take the whole act back to the Congress for legislative review. We will have all the authority we need to protect the country from terrorists, but you can't win the war on terror by giving up the very freedoms we're fighting to protect. Wes

He's uneasy about the death penalty and at one point supported a moratorium on it.

He's even open to medical marijuana (same link):

When asked about marijuana laws, he said he opposes the use of the illegal drug. However, he added that he has talked with people who use it to ease their chronic pain. “They said smoking marijuana helps,” he said. “We need to look at that and make some allowances one way or another.”

He would have fired Rumsfeld in 2003.

Okay, my mind's made up. I want General Wesley Clark for Vice President. He's got the experience and a better position on issues I care about than every other name mentioned.

I have to say that her argument for Clark is compelling on the surface. It would be very hard for the GOP to say that Clark doesn't have military/national security experience and he's dead correct about the Patriot Act needing to be reigned back in. I've been hoping for Russ Feingold myself, but Wesley Clark would certainly be better than Evan Bayh based on that evidence.

But Clark has his share of problems too, mainly both the GOP and the netroots have already torn him up based on his failed 2004 run, and he clearly has had bad moments.

It's not time for panic about the Clark campaign, or rage about the top-down groundswell behind him, only questions: What was the retired general spending his time on in the last three months, while the world knew he was only his wife's blessing away from declaring his candidacy? Wasn't there a minute to catch up on the Brady Bill, to figure out whether he'd have voted for the Iraq war declaration in Congress last October and exactly why, to research whether or not he voted in 1972 -- "I hope I voted then," he said, "and I would have voted for [Richard] Nixon." And why are party big shots so enamored of this politically untested general who admittedly performed well in CNN studios but doesn't seem ready for the rough and tumble of campaign trail journalism?

It wasn't the political positions Clark stated that were disturbing as much as the apparent lack of thought behind them. His confessing that despite his doubts about the Iraq war he "probably" would have supported the resolution in Congress isn't indefensible -- John Kerry made the same decision for much the same reason (although he's finding the nuances of his choice tough to defend politically). What's disturbing is Clark's appearing to have hardly thought about it much until now, and the vacillating way he defended his position once he took it.

A moment after saying he'd probably have voted for the resolution, he added, "I don't know if I would have or not. I've said it both ways because when you get into this, what happens is you have to put yourself in a position -- on balance, I probably would have voted for it." But later, talking about Howard Dean's opposition to the resolution, Clark said, "I think he's right. That in retrospect we should never have gone in there. I didn't want to go in there either."

Granted, Clark has had 4 years to work on his campaign chops since then. But there's a hell of a lot of out of context ammo the GOP can use against him from '04, and there is the rather nasty problem that he endorsed Hillary, not Obama.

Still, the PUMAs will see any choice that's not Hillary as a problem, but as with Bayh and Feingold, a male Veep *will* be seen as a betrayal and rejection of women voters by Obama by the PUMA crowd, and they will exact punishment, the question being only how much. There's a whole lot of evidence that Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius would be the compromise candidate for the PUMAs that Obama is looking for.

Sebelius is among the vice presidential prospects mentioned most often by Obama's key supporters, including many who say that if Obama bypasses Hillary Clinton then he would do well to choose another woman. At 60, Sebelius is a popular two-term governor of a Republican-dominated state, and her reputation as a low-key problem-solver marks a contrast with Clinton.
Her problem is lack of national exposure and foreign policy experience -- opposite problems of Wes Clark -- and there is of course the problem that she will be seen as a direct insult to Hillary...but to be fair, anyone who isn't Hillary will be seen as such.
With Clinton now formally gone from the race, her most fervent female supporters have taken up the cause of putting her on the ticket as the vice president. To snub Clinton in favor of another woman -- Sebelius -- would be a slight that many women might not be able to reconcile themselves to.

Depending on where you stand, Sebelius's gender is either one of her strongest assets or a major argument against her. Seen one way, picking her would reinforce the historic nature of Obama's candidacy and help strengthen his hand among female voters alienated from him after the race against Clinton. Seen another, Sebelius's gender makes her all but unselectable -- a symbolic provocation to the legions of Clinton backers.

General Clark has a lot of things going for him (more than Bayh of course) but there are more than a few strikes against him too. He's preferable to Bayh of course but again, he may not be the best choice. Gov. Sebelius is another strong choice and can bring a lot to the table too, but not the same things Clark can.

As much as I think Russ Feingold would kick ass, he's not in the hunt, and I honestly think Obama's Veep will be either Clark or Sebelius. Either one is far, far better than Bayh. But in the back of my mind the cynic in me can't rule Evan Bayh out...or Hillary Rodham Clinton for that matter. Clinton would be a disasterous selection...but the temptation must surely be there for somebody in the Obama camp to say "You're screwed no matter who you pick, might as well go for her."

It's true what they say: A Veep pick can't help you, but it surely can hurt you. Obama has the most important and most difficult Veep selection in a long, long time.

UPDATE: BooMan points out Clark's not happening and that Virginia Governor Tim Kaine is and that Kathleen Sebelius has indeed earned a speaking slot at the DNC Convention:

Thus, I refer you to fivethirtyeight's analysis and note, in addition, that as far as I know no slot has yet been reserved for Evan Bayh.
UPDATE 2: With the announcement of Virginia's former Governor and Senate candidate Mark Warner as the DNC's keynote speaker, the general consensus is current Virginia Governor Tim Kaine is NOT going to be Obama's pick.

McSame Gets To See The Friedman Unit

Steve Benen notes Tommy Boy thinks McSame is a doodoohead.
It’s probably safe to say John McCain is losing the NYT’s Thomas Friedman.
Oh reeeeeeeeeeally?

Despite McCain’s negligence, he’s running TV ads during the Olympics, showing a wind farm full of spinning turbines, the exact same energy McCain would not vote to support.

Without directly using McCain’s name, this led Friedman to suggest a certain candidate “cynical,” and thinks “Americans are so stupid — so bloody stupid — that if you just show them wind turbines in your Olympics ad they’ll actually think you showed up and voted for such renewable power — when you didn’t.”

Friedman isn’t always my cup of tea when it comes to foreign policy, but I can’t help but notice that when it comes to energy policy, the NYT columnist seems very unimpressed with the presumptive Republican nominee.
And there's actually several indications that Friedman has a long time problem with McSame's "Energy Policy".
Today, Friedman hammered McCain on his negligence on alternative energy. In July, Friedman mocked him and his party for his coastal drilling canard.
You'd think Friedman would like that.
And in April, Friedman excoriated McCain (and, in this case, Hillary Clinton) for the ridiculous notion of a “gas-tax holiday” over the summer months.
Note how McSame's dropped that from his platform, too. Sit and spin Johnny Boy, sit and spin.

The Bayh Line, Part 2

While I've talked about Evan Bayh before, the BooMan has more analysis on why he's the still the wrong choice:
I'm hearing word that Evan Bayh has at least a 50-50 chance of getting the vice-presidential nod and that the final decision will be made soon. Unfortunately, I don't have any other names to tell you so that you know what the alternatives are. The New York Times did a great job yesterday morning in explaining why the selection of Bayh would be problematic. It would be hard to fuck up Barack Obama's brand any worse than picking John McCain's honorary co-chairman of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. We really shouldn't have to say anything more than that.
Obama's Veep selection is either going to be a confirmation of his anti-war message and the anti-war beliefs of the people who got him to the big dance...or a complete repudiation of both. It's personal this year. As BooMan explains (emphasis mine:)
If Evan Bayh is acceptable then maybe John McCain's judgment isn't so bad after all. I might add that Al From of the DLC wants Evan Bayh and so does Cokie 'Myrtle Beach' Roberts. Those are two big alarm-bells. And I'd really prefer it not to be the case that Team Obama is more interested in appeasing Al From and Cokie Roberts than they are concerned with enraging their base of support online. There are many of us that were in the long fight to win the nomination with Obama who made that commitment out of a desperate desire to see the DLC sidelined and a new generation of post-Bush thinking Democrats put in charge of the party. We're the same people that fought off Tim Roehmer and Harold Ford for DNC chairmen and gave you Howard Dean and the immensely successful 50-state strategy. We did not put in all that work in order to see the former DLC chairman put next in line for the presidency.
Maybe that's a bit hyperbolic, but he's dead right about Howard Dean and the 50-state strategy. Obama must remember (and apparently we have to remind him) that he won the primaries because he reflected the majority views of anti-war Democrats. The terribad argument will be made for Bayh that 18 million Democrats didn't find any problem with Hillary Clinton's voting record on the Iraq War, but then "why not pick Hillary Clinton for Veep?" immediately and logically follows.

It's not just that Bayh is a bad choice, it's that the any logical process that would lead to Bayh as Obama's running mate has to cross that big thick red "Screw The Progressives" line, by reason that Bayh voted for Iraq on a number of occasions. The fact that Obama is even seriously considering Bayh is reason enough for the netroots to be pissed. Somebody in Obama's camp has convinced him that Screw The Progressives is acceptable, and the fact Obama hasn't shot this down immediately as a non-starter means he's thinking about it.

Bayh means Obama played the netroots and he's done with them, plain and simple. And he's not afraid of them should he go down that path, because he's convinced (or someone has convinced him) that they will not support McSame in the White House under any circumstances...even if those circumstances include Bayh.

And even if you accept the notion that Obama has tossed the netroots aside, the problem is even the most overly pragmatic reasons to have Bayh on the ticket do not work: he's not going to get Obama Indiana, he's not going to appeal to the PUMAs, he's not going to generate national buzz, the GOP isn't going to magically admit that an Obama-Bayh ticket is strong on national security and the guy's just kinda average in every other way.

So why is he even being considered at all? He's lose/lose all the way around.

Zandar's Thought Of the Day

As Michael Phelps and the US women's gymnastics team compete, I'm reminded of what a high school teacher one told me:

An Olympic gold medal is proof that in any language that the best compliment in the world is the word "champion." An Olympic silver medal is proof that in any language that the dirtiest insult in the world is the word "potential."


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