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October 24, 2008

Things I Noticed, 10/24/08

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 10:48 pm
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Barack Obama has started a new web site to offer rebuttals to the fallacies in Republican robocalls and mailers: Under the Radar: Revealing the Hidden Attacks

A couple of ads proposed for the Obama campaign, but one of the hosts of the liberal “Young Turks” radio show: Cenk Uygur: The Ads Obama Should Run Against McCain and Palin

Both Obama and McCain have pledged support for small business owners, but you might be interested in McCain’s definition of a small business.


June 1, 2008

Michigan and Florida, Re-Resolved

On Face the Nation just now, Senator Carl Levin from Michigan just claimed that both Clinton and Obama have indicated to Michigan that once either is officially the nominee, they’ll make sure that Michigan and Florida get full representation at the Democratic Convention.

Bob Schieffer has also called Mandy Grunwald on the Clinton campaign not counting caucus states, and changing the rules midstream, and spoke to Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell about the campaign endgame.

Video will be available on the Face the Nation website later today.
The 300 Project: 3/111

Questioning the Value of Candidates’ Boots on the Ground

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 9:23 am
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CNN’s Michael Ware comments on the McCain claim that Obama is at a disadvantage because he’s only been to Iraq once in the video below. Ware also comments on whether or not politicians’ visits to Iraq actually give them an accurate view of exactly what’s going on.

The 300 Project: 1/109

May 31, 2008

Obama’s Running Mate

Filed under: humor,Politics — CPav @ 11:07 pm
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The Huffington Post’s Chris Kelly has used the process of elimination to identify Barack Obama’s perfect running mate.
The 300 Project: 33/108

Unifying the Party

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 11:04 pm
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We’re fostering a litter of puppies this weekend, and the city of Ellisville had the grand opening of our long-overdue Public Works facility, so I was in and out all day, but watched as much of the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee hearings today on the resolution Florida and Michigan primaries.

For those who haven’t been following, both Michigan and Florida moved their primaries earlier in the season, against the warnings of the RBC, which informed them both that their primaries wouldn’t count, and their delegates wouldn’t be seated if they didn’t proceed on the DNC schedule. They chose not to. At that time (last Fall), all of the candidates agreed to not campaign in either state. All of the Democratic candidates except for Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd took their names off the Michigan ballot. At the time, Clinton was quoted as saying that obviously those primaries wouldn’t count.

Fast forward a few months, and the Clinton campaign, no longer the presumptive nominee, ignored their previous statements and elevated the denial of Michigan and Florida delegates to a First Ammendment issue. Clinton also hyperbolically equated the penalties to voter suppression during the Jim Crow era and more recently in Zimbabwe.

Neither state could work out a re-vote proposal, so it fell to the RBC to decide what was to do, so fast forward again to today, and the public meeting to decide what was to be done with Florigan. Barack Obama, now the party’s presumptive nominee, urged his supporters to not demonstrate outside the meeting. The Clinton campaign bused their supporters in. Those protesters proved to be a disruptive force in the meeting, constantly heckling the speakers and at one point engaging one of the women on the committee, who implored them to act like mature adults. They heckled that too.

Actually, the Flor part was pretty easy, as both candidates’ names appeared on the ballot, so there was some indication as to the voters’ preferences. It can be (and was) argued that at the time of the primary (early January), Hillary Clinton was much better known in Florida than Barack Obama, so his inability to campaign there might have thrown some votes Clinton’s way that she might not have gotten had the voters gotten to know him. It could also be argued (and was) that some voters, told that their votes weren’t going to count, simply stayed home, but this would have applied to both candidates, and all of the others who were still in the race at the time (which, since it was the beginning of the race, was pretty much all of them).

Perhaps the most compelling argument against penalizing Florida was that the primary date was not set by the Florida Democratic committee, but by the state’s legislature, which is Republican-controlled. There was really nothing the Florida Democrats could have done. In the end, a motion was made to seat all of the Florida delegation with no penalties. That motion did not carry, so a new motion was made to seat the entire delegation, but to give them only a half vote each. That motion carried.
That penalty, it should be noted, is exactly what the Republicans did to penalize the Florida delegates to their convention as well.

It should be noted that most of the debate between the members of the committee was held during an extremely long “lunch” break. Individual members were allowed to make statements as to their support or non-support of the motions, but it was pretty much stage-managed to a large degree, at least as to which motions would be made and how.

Then came the -igan portion of the day. Michigan was more problematic, in that they didn’t have the whole Republican legislature to blame, and there was only one name on the ballot that was still in the race. The Clinton camp, of course, felt that she should get full credit for all of the votes cast for her, and that Obama should get all of the votes cast for him, which meant none. This despite anecdotal evidence that many of the “Undecided” voters voted that way because they were not able to vote for Obama, and that many more Obama supporters stayed home, since they couldn’t vote for him.

In fact, once it became clear that a re-vote was not possible, the Michigan Democratic Committee started doing research and came up with a delegate split that they felt accurately represented the wishes of the voters of Michigan, and proposed a 69/59 split of the state’s 128 delegates. Again, an initial motion was made to seat the Michigan delegation in full (with the “uncommitted” delegates free to vote for whoever they want), it was voted down, and a motion was made to seat the delegation as indicated by the state party, with the same half vote per delegate that Florida got, and that motion carried.

The Clinton campaign, in the person of Harold Ickes, a senior Clinton adviser as well as a member of the RBC, strongly objected, spewed some vitriol, claiming the RBC was “hijacking” the democratic process and reserving Senator Clinton’s rights to appeal to the Credentials Committee. All this over 4 delegates, representing 2 votes at the convention, due to the 50% penalty imposed. And all this despite the fact that last Fall, Senator Clinton said that none of the votes would count, and Harold Ickes himself voted for seating no delegates back when it appeared it wouldn’t matter to his candidate.

Significantly, another Clinton aide, whose name I can’t find right now, stood apart from Ickes and supported the Michigan compromise for the good of the party. In fact, most pre-meeting wisdom had Hillary Clinton with 13 supporters on the RBC, to Obama’s 8 and 9 uncommitted.

But when push came to shove, the Michigan compromise passed 19-8 (3 delegates couldn’t vote according to committee rules), meaning at least 5 of Clinton’s supporters presumably put the party before the candidate. According to MSNBC’s First Watch political blog, there were actually enough votes to pass Obama’s preferred 50/50 split of Michigan delegates by a vote or two, but in the interest of party unity, they agreed to the 69/59 split to pass it by a larger majority.

In the end, the Clinton campaign ended up looking like pouting children and sore losers, due in part to the behavior of Harold Ickes and their bused in protesters. Barack Obama, due in part to his fairly commanding lead in the delegate count, was able to be magnanimous and concede some Michigan delegates to Clinton.
The 300 Project: 32/107

ONYD: John McCain’s Drawdown

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 9:26 pm
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I actually published my last post because I wanted to do this one, and thought that I should address the Memorial Day blunder by Obama first.

Much has been made this week of John McCain’s observation that it’s been over two years since Barack Obama has been to Iraq. That’s undoubtedly true of many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, but it’s probably at least a sound theory that someone campaigning to be president probably should get over there and see what’s happening on the ground. McCain even offered to serve as Obama’s personal tour guide which probably isn’t that great an idea politically, as it plays directly into McCain’s attempt to portray his foreign policy expertise as his greatest strength.

That expertise came into question early in the campaign, when Senator Joe Liebermann had to remind McCain who in Iraq liked their neighbors in Iran and who didn’t, and it came further under fire this week with McCain’s statement on the levels of troops and violence in Iraq.

“I can tell you that it is succeeding. I can look you in the eye and tell you it’s succeeding. We have drawn down to pre-surge levels. Basra, Mosul and now Sadr City are quiet and it’s long and it’s hard and it’s tough and there will be setbacks,” McCain said to reporters on Thursday. Unfortunately for him, the general pre-surge level is considered to be 130,000 troops.

McCain tried to backtrack without admitting he was wrong by saying that he was actually referring to the troop levels following the current rotations, which are set to be completed by July. Unfortunately, that didn’t help much; following the return of the two additional brigades in July (5 were sent as part of the surge, 3 are already back), there will be approximately 140,000 troops still there.

McCain’s camp still didn’t back down, instead using their “explanation” to take another shot at Obama; spokesman Tucker Bounds said, “What informed people understand, John McCain included, is that American troops are not even close to Surge levels. Three of the five Army ‘Surge’ brigades have been withdrawn and additional Marines that were initially deployed for the ‘Surge’ have come home as well — the remaining two brigades will be home in July. Talk about a political stunt, it’s sending out campaign surrogates to parse words about a topic Barack Obama has no experience with, and has shown zero interest in learning about.”

Well, thanks, Tucker, but that isn’t what McCain said. And when your people tried to explain it, they played it down as a semantic argument over verb tense. That’s not the same thing as “we meant it was lower than the surge”. That’s a different statement entirely.

And that bit about Mosul being quiet? Three suicide bombings in and around Mosul on Thursday left 30 people dead. Hopefully Mr. McCain’s plans are not to bring that type of quiet to the U.S.

Oh, and Mr. Bounds? Just because Obama hasn’t shown an interest in learning about Iraq from John McCain, that doesn’t mean he’s not interested in learning about it. He probably just wants the truth.
The 300 Project: 30/105

Obama’s Holocaust Blunder

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 9:00 pm
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You’ll note that this post doesn’t carry an ONYD tag on it. I’ll get to that in a minute.

There have been a number of misstatements and missteps in this primary season, by all the candidates. And the severity of those misstatements and missteps vary based on who a given observer supports. Hillary Clinton’s “hardworking white voters” and Barack Obama’s “clinging to God and guns” were both foot-in-mouth moments. There are, however, more serious misstatements being made by the campaigns as well: John McCain cannot confuse Shia and Sunni if he wants to be elected based on his foreign policy acumen. Ditto Hillary Clinton promoting her own foreign policy experience through the repeated recounting of a life-threatening trip across an airstrip which could be demonstrated on video as not being anywhere near as dangerous as she remembered.

Last Monday, during a Memorial Day speech, Barack Obama made a statement which some would put into the former category and others would lump into the latter. While recounting a family story involving his great-uncle’s experiences in World War II, Senator Obama indicated that his uncle helped liberate Auschwitz.

The commentators went wild. “He doesn’t know history!” they said. “He’s lying to cover up for his own military shortcomings!” Evidently Auschwitz was liberated by the Russians. (Being a bad American, I didn’t realize this off the top of my head either.) But, as Hillary Clinton really did get off a plane in Bosnia, Obama’s uncle really did help liberate a concentration camp. Just not that concentration camp. Charles T. Payne was part of the 89th Infantry, which liberated Buchenwald. When the error was pointed out to him, Obama issued an immediate correction.

In my opinion, this should have been a non-story. Those trying to elevate this to the level of a Bosnia airstrip or a Shiite/Sunni issue are missing a really major distinction. Senators Clinton and McCain have, to varying degrees, tried to distinguish themselves from Senator Obama based on their supposed greater foreign relations cred. But when one is basing a portion of that cred on an event which happened much differently than she claimed, and when the other doesn’t know the difference between two warring factions in the most high-profile hotspot in the world, that foreign policy expertise has to be called into question.

Barack Obama is not running for president based on his knowledge of the Holocaust. And while the historical facts are indisputable, and while it’s hoped that our next president will have more intellectual curiosity than the current one, confusing Auschwitz and Buchenwald do not, in my opinion, invalidate the message of what was being said. It’s like if I were to arguing with my wife (which, of course, never happens), and I said “Your statement that you haven’t had beef in six months is wrong, because you had Prime Rib when we ate out on Tuesday” and she based her reply on the fact that we ate out on Wednesday, and had dinner at home on Tuesday.

And to the commentators who said that Obama was trying to use the Holocaust for political advantage: Get real. Using the Holocaust for political advantage would be speaking to a Jewish group and saying “If you don’t vote for me, the Holocaust will happen again.”

So let’s all be thankful that no American politician would be so craven as try to use fear to get elected.
The 300 Project: 29/104

May 4, 2008

Gas Tax Pandering

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 5:50 pm
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A few follow-up comments to my ice cream gas tax story a few days back:

  • The Huffington Post has a rundown of support/opposition for the proposal by both McCain and Clinton. Interesting that the only person they could find who supported the idea was a politician, who frames it as a “why shouldn’t Big Oil pony up?” issue.
  • John McCain says he’ll pay for the lost revenue from not collecting the gas tax for the summer by cutting pork barrel spending projects. But these cuts, if he were successful in making them part of a budget, wouldn’t be in effect until the next budget round, so that’s a number of months of shortfall that isn’t made up for in the McCain proposal. And he also doesn’t say how he’s going to replace the jobs that will be lost in Congressional districts that don’t get to build their projects due to the slashed spending.
  • Hillary Clinton will pay for the lost revenue brought on by the tax holiday by taxing the windfall profits of the oil companies. Civics lesson, people: One junior senator from New York State cannot pass a tax all by herself, even with the help of the senior senator from Arizona, especially when there is no evidence that a majority of Congress supports the plan.
  • Even making the enormous leap of faith that the lost tax revenue will somehow be made up in such a way as to not jeopardize bridge and highway repairs, there’s another problem with the whole plan: There’s nothing to force the oil companies to pass the savings on to the consumer. Nothing. Nada. Just because they’re not paying the government that 18 cents per gallon, doesn’t mean they’ll drop prices by a corresponding amount. And when the tax goes back into effect, does anyone really think the companies will be good corporate citizens and not raise their prices a corresponding amount? (“Oh, trust us. The price would have been this high all summer except for that tax rebate.”)
  • And, if the cosmic forces align just right and the tax holiday passes through Congress and the lost revenue is recouped somehow and the oil companies do pass on the savings to the consumer and don’t pass the subsequent increase back, some of the experts say that the lower prices will cause consumers to buy more gas instead of less, which will make the prices go up more.
  • North Carolina Governor Mike Easley, a Clinton supporter who’s been stumping for her in his state, spoke out against the idea when McCain proposed it, but supports it now that Clinton has endorsed it. In other words, he was against it before he was for it. (Audio of his statements is linked from this blog, and the third commenter makes many of the points I’ve made here, with some more detail.

So, basically, anyone who’s telling you that a gas tax rebate will save you money this summer is counting on the fact that you don’t know anything about basic budgets, the way laws are passed, and the way business accounting and supply and demand work.

In other words, they not only think they’re smarter than you, but they think you’re dumb as a gas pump.

Maybe later we’ll talk about which candidates are truly elitist.

The 300 Project: 6/81

Pastor Problems

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 5:01 pm
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Hopefully, Barack Obama’s problems with Reverend Jeremiah Wright are behind him, but here are a few thoughts about Wright and John McCain’s equivalent (if much less covered) controversial pastor, John Hagee.

Bill Moyers, the newsman who interviewed Wright last weekend, prior to his “meltdown” appearances early in the week, makes an observation regarding the lack of outrage involving John McCain’s pastor in his online journal:

Behold the double standard: John McCain sought out the endorsement of John Hagee, the war-mongering Catholic-bashing Texas preacher who said the people of New Orleans got what they deserved for their sins. But no one suggests McCain shares Hagee’s delusions, or thinks AIDS is God’s punishment for homosexuality. Pat Robertson called for the assassination of a foreign head of state and asked God to remove Supreme Court justices, yet he remains a force in the Republican religious right. After 9/11 Jerry Falwell said the attack was God’s judgment on America for having been driven out of our schools and the public square, but when McCain goes after the endorsement of the preacher he once condemned as an agent of intolerance, the press gives him a pass.

John Hagee, whose endorsement McCain sought out and trumpeted, has been condemned by the Catholic League. A write-up on this issue is available on, posted back at the end of February. There is YouTube video of Hagee in that article, as well as here.

It’s also interesting that the Clinton camp largely let other people do the complaining about Wright, when they’ve relentlessly hammered Obama on the least perceived shortcoming. The reason? Wright was a guest at the Clinton White House. Granted, he was there with a number of other clerics, but a picture exists of Rev. Wright and President Clinton, and even if he was one of a large number of people invited, the invitation list wasn’t generated at random, so it might be difficult for them to portray Wright as a marginalized radical, who Obama should have known better than to associate with, when they were associating with him as well.

The 300 Project: 5/80

March 20, 2008

The Speech

Filed under: General,Politics — CPav @ 5:54 pm
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Barack Obama gave a speech two days ago. Going in to the speech, it was being compared to Mitt Romney’s speech not too long ago in which he opened up on his Mormonism, or, for those with longer memories, John F. Kennedy’s campaign speech in which he explained to a group of Southern ministers that a vote for him would not be the same as turning the White House over to the Pope.

Since the world has moved on a few news cycles since then, a quick summary: Video hit the interwebs showing Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s beloved pastor, the man he credits for bringing him to Christ, in a number of sermons which are critical of the U.S. government and white people in general. Excuse me. It was later qualified that he wasn’t railing against whites, but rather rich whites. The candidate, who had previously asked his pastor not to appear at the news conference announcing his candidacy, went on television repeatedly, repudiating the comments but refusing to denounce the man.

This set the stage for Obama’s speech on Tuesday. There was speculation that he would address the role of religion in his life, or racism. What he did was practically transcendent.

I am too young to remember Kennedy’s Catholicism speech, but I’ve been exposed to enough history to remember his “Ask not what your country can do for you…” inaugural speech, and my first reaction to reading Obama’s speech (I was at work, and did not have the opportunity to listen to it at the time), was to compare it to that speech. As a low-level politician myself, and someone with some small facility with words, I was blown away by Obama’s speech.

It’s very safe, easy, and non-controversial to denounce racism. Most people would say that judging someone simply by the color of their skin or their country of origin is a bad thing. Of course, a number of those same people would gladly tell you how are stealing all the good jobs, or get all the breaks.

In his speech, Obama touched briefly on Reverend Wright’s comments, and put them in a historical context, that of a person who had lived through the era of the Civil Rights movement, as well as the injustices which had preceded it, and who still bears the anger that many of that generation do. Senator Obama also offered the observation that this anger was justified. And that statement could have ended his candidacy, or relegated him to the status of “black candidate”, one who justifies the anger of black Americans against white.

But he didn’t stop there. With his next breath, Obama gave almost the same historical context and understanding for the feeling of frustration and betrayal of lower and middle-class white voters, voters who have never themselves repressed others, but who see advantages and opportunities granted to those others, who see jobs going away.

In this single, brilliant move, Barack Obama has established himself in both camps, and again, it could have ended, with him making the case that he can understand the feelings of both black and white voters who see themselves as wronged or disenfranchised, but his point made, he went one step further still, recalling Kennedy’s challenge to the nation and call to action. He calls on the American people to make a choice: Whether we will focus on all of the slights and innuendo and speculation that divide us, or on the common concerns that unite us. If we choose the latter, he says, then in the next election we will simply focus on another, no-more-consequential distraction, and on and on, in a never-ending cycle. If, however, we unite around our common issues and begin the discussion here, it can continue on into the future.

From the linguistic point of view, I was impressed with the turn of phrase that Obama repeatedly returned to, the idea of the struggle toward perfection of the Union. He started out with the beginning of the Declaration of Independence: “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.” He pointed out that the Declaration did not create a perfect union, and that intervening generations struggled toward filling in the gaps, as we do now. He referred to his own campaign as “imperfect”, and spoke of “perfect[ing] our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes…” And, at the conclusion of his final anecdote, about an old black man and a young white girl who came together on his campaign, he observed that “…that is where the perfection begins.”

The full text of Senator Obama’s speech is available at CNN.

Time Magazine’s analysis is here.

And my friend Mike Wallack chimes in with his observations in his blog.

The 300 Project: 11/52

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