Saturday, February 23, 2008

NYT McCain Story: Keller & The Scarlet Elephant

"....what the aides believed might not have been the real truth. And if you cannot provide readers with some independent evidence, I think it is wrong to report the suppositions or concerns of anonymous aides about whether the boss is getting into the wrong bed."

- Clark Hoyt, NYT Public Editor


NYT Public Editor Clark Hoyt writes in tomorrow's NYT:
"BILL KELLER, the executive editor of The Times, said the article about John McCain that appeared in Thursday’s paper was about a man nearly felled by scandal who rebuilt himself as a fighter against corruption but is still “careless about appearances, careless about his reputation, and that’s a pretty important thing to know about somebody who wants to be president of the United States.”

"...judging by the explosive reaction to the 3,000-word article, most readers saw it as something else altogether. They saw it as a story about illicit sex. And most were furious at The Times."

Mr. Clark claims that the article was notable for what it didn't say:
It did not say what convinced the advisers that there was a romance."
Mr. Clark says that the ignored scarlet elephant in the room is that a newspaper can't "begin a story about the all-but-certain Republican presidential nominee with the suggestion of an extramarital affair with an attractive lobbyist 31 years his junior and expect readers to focus on anything other than what most of them did."


Seen at Tom Watson's blog:
For making the front page his national newspaper the equivalent of the men's room wall, Times editor Bill Keller is justly eviscerated in tomorrow's edition by Public Editor Clark Hoyt.

UPDATE: More from Jarvis, The New Republic, TalkLeft, and a series of questions for Times editors from Jay Rosen.


I guess I'd been expecting commentary like this from the Times' Public Editor [unless, of course, there was more to the story than what we'd been told]. Since I'd read it, I'd felt that the story was too much of this..

and not enough of ... well...that is to say.. not at all what I'd expect from the New York Times...and I'm not even a Republican.

Signer to Mainstream Media: Do Your Job

With only a short time for media to be responsible and play their part in informing the public about the real differences between each remaining Presidential candidate's foreign policy plans and ideas, Michael Signer, former foreign policy advisor to presidential candidate John Edwards, is asking media to finally step up to the plate.

Just entertain the thought for a moment. What if, in the coming months, every major journalist who covers foreign affairs wrote one story that actually recounted what the candidates are proposing on a foreign policy issue. On the Middle East, or the developing world. On energy independence, proposals to help veterans, the critical role of global aid, denuclearization, or how we should deal with rising powers such as Russia, China and India.

These stories would tell us what the candidates have proposed and whether their ideas are silly or workable. They would quote experts and present tough criticism and fair praise. They would tell us something about the candidates' characters. They would illuminate the future and tell us something about the past.

Most important, they would give us insight into this most critical of decisions -- who should be commander in chief of the world's most powerful country in a time of war and a time of momentous choices.

- From: It's a Scary World. Don't Campaign Reporters Care? by Michael Signer [WaPo, February 24, 2008]

Hillary Rips Obama On Negative Healthcare-Mailer

Other than the subject of experience, the big issue that separates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary is healthcare.

Here's Hillary Clinton's clarification about the substantive difference between her plan and Obama's plan. [from the Texas debate last Thursday night].

It seems to me, in this primary campaign, that Hillary Clinton's attempts to pin Obama down on real policy differences have been drowned out by debate moderators who have too much on their agenda to fit in enough substantive debate on any one topic. It appears that she's been trying to have as much issue-related discussion and as many debates as possible in the hopes of having those substantive differences come through, but I just don't think MSM will ever allow that to occur. Instead, they take the soundbites from debates with such decidedly thin discussion..the soundbites that might generate the most controversy..and run with them. The public, who deserve to know as much about the differences in each candidate's plans as reasonably possible, lose out in the process. On February 14th, MSNBC's Dan Abrams was trying very hard to classify Hillary's Clinton's publicly-stated desire for more debates [in this case, asking for a Wisconsin debate that never materialized because Obama refused] as a "cheap shot", although neither guest-pundit would agree with him.

Today, CNN shows Hillary Clinton getting tough by shaking an Obama attack-mailer in front of the camera and asking "Since when do Democrats attack each other on universal healthcare?" She demonstrates, with marked anger, how she believes the Obama campaign has gone negative to the point of remanufacturing and reviving the likeness and destructively negative spirit of the well-known right-wing 90s' Harry and Louise anti-universal-healthcare attack ad.
- [See my February 1st post about it]

Today Hillary Clinton said, "Enough with the speeches and the big rallies and then using the tactics that are right out of Karl Rove's playbook," and "Shame on you, Barack Obama."

See this CNN video.

- [See: Clinton Unloads on Obama 'Destructive" Tactics, Perry Bacon Jr., The Trail, WaPo]
- [See Fact Hub: Obama Tactics Resurrect Harry and Louise]
- [See Fact Hub: Obama Campaign Distributes Two Dishonest Mailers In Ohio]

Liberal, Conservative Patriotism v. Intelligent Patriotism

Linda Chavez wishes to judge that of which she imagines "liberal patriotism" to be.

In reality, patriotism isn't Liberal or Conservative at all.

Patriotism, however, can (and should) be intelligent.

From a speech given by Senior Associate Dean Robert McClure/Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs/Syracuse University on February 4, 2002:

[..] "Patriotism is too often the hatred of other countries…. disguised as love of our own."


[..] "Citizenship is granted ONLY by a country, a sovereign state. With citizenship….. comes responsibilities, and if we are fortunate enough to reside in a democratic country--- also enforceable rights.We may postulate—as we do in the Declaration of Independence—that our rights are bestowed by Our Creator...And are therefore universal. But the truth of the matter is that our rights are made meaningful— predictable, enforceable, useful, lasting — only by the work of ordinary men and women who make the laws and keep the order within a sovereign democratic state. Rights that are universal are imaginary ideals; lofty aspirations.
Necessary reminders..goads and prods,no doubt, but not sufficient guarantees."


[..] "If democratic citizenship involves both rights and responsibilities, then patriotism is found on the responsibility side of the equation. Patriotism is a citizen’s duty—a debt owed—to the larger community, ….not an individual prerogative reserved for personal use. In a democracy, patriotism is part of our responsibility to protect and defend one another, because — if for no other reason than the most self-interested of reasons — it is the national community that bestows and protects our individual rights.

Patriotism is prompted in some measure, then, by gratitude. My rights are a gift,a sublime gift, from those who died on the beaches at Normandy,
in the heat at Gettysburg, in the snows at Valley Forge: an undeserved blessing bequeathed by my ancestors, who managed to keep the democratic faith, however, imperfectly.

I did nothing,.….ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, to earn my rights, except for being born in the right place and the right time."


[..] "Intelligent patriotism, then, requires constant vigilance, guarding against an overbearing MAJORITY that would falsely employ the flag to subvert our rights and liberties and to divide us into patriots and traitors.

And just as important, intelligent patriotism requires us to guard with equal vigilance against an overzealous MINORITY that trumpets an inelastic, absolute sense of individual liberties to deny us our right of self defense and our right to an unfettered display of our common, national symbol."


[..] "We don't know where, exactly, to find the enemy. Or who precisely to target. Whether rooting out the enemy at home or pursuing him abroad, the means are untried and unclear. Old—well-rehearsed war plans and massive firepower seem not so well-suited to today’s shifting and shielded battlefields. And no matter what course of action is contemplated, from dropping bombs to dropping food, unintended consequences with undesirable and costly result are sure to occur. Such is the nasty business of war.

We will wage this new war (at least in one fundamental respect) as we have earlier wars—by trial and error.. hoping to muster enough good sense and good luck to muddle through today’s uncertainties..and then to do the same tomorrow..and the day after tomorrow…and on and on until some unknown exhausting endpoint.

But without a formal beginning, without specified state belligerents named in a congressional declaration, this new kind of war poses the added danger of becoming open-ended: a war without boundaries; a war without end..."


Good Samaritans in Charlotte

Charlotte Observer writer Tim Funk tells a heartwarming story about some local residents who created a caring environment for baby Ackah-Diazi Blay and his parents in what is all-too-often an indifferent world.

Preventing the Birth of Enemies

Understanding the benefits of meditation doesn't require a knowledge of rocket science, but it does take an open mind and a willingness to eschew the conventional, fear-based, and reactionary social tendency toward war as a first (and often futile) choice. At the macroscopic level, our universe appears to be physical. The deeper we go into the universe's construction, it is an entirely non-material world - a pure self-aware, self-interacting consciousness...a field of concentrated intelligence.

Reducing the intensity of societal stress when confronting the problem and reality of terrorism in the present time is the way toward preventing the future birth of more enemies. Accessing the power of peace within us is a million times more powerful than any nuclear force. You can call this idea a scientific neutralizing of the adversary.

There is no conventional defense against terrorism.

See this video with John Hagelin Ph.D., the quantam physisict who founded the Global Union of Scientists for Peace in July 2005 to stop the threat of nuclear proliferation and nuclear war through the establishment of large, peace-creating groups in every country - Unified Field Of Consciousness & War

Here you can view a wider scope of Dr. Hagelin's studies and conclusions about a "Peaceful Solution to Global Terrorism and Conflict.”

The lovely poster shown here is by Jenness Cortez, available for purchase at this site

Friday, February 22, 2008


I want to thank the blogger Anonymoses and all who've comforted me at a time of sadness. I lost my beloved cat Cora yesterday. She was my constant companion for thirteen years and life won't be the same without her.

Lulled be the dirge in the cypress bough,
That tells of departed flowers!
Ah! that the butterfly's gilded wing
Fluttered in evergreen bowers!
Sad is my heart for the blighted plants --
Its pleasures are aye as brief --
They bloom at the young year's joyful call,
And fade with the autumn leaf..

Ah! may the red rose live alway,
To smile upon earth and sky!
Why should the beautiful ever weep?
Why should the beautiful die?

- From: "Ah! May the Red Rose Live Alway" by Stephen Foster

President Bush Dances with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Looking back on the past eight years, I wish we'd seen our President dance with joy more often....and I wish he'd led our nation in a way that would've caused us to join in the dance.

Related Stories on Liberia:

- Liberians Say Bush Visit Was a Win for Their Country [VOA]

- Liberia: 'America Will Stand By You' []

- President Bush Visits Liberia [Peet Family blog]

- Roundtable Interview of the President and the First Lady by the Travel Pool [re: Africa Trip at]

- Hospital Ship Saving Lives Again [Shields Gazette]

- Africa Mercy Returns to Liberia [Mercy Ships]

- Bono Takes IMF to Task on Liberia [Financial Times, Oct 2007]

- Chicago Tribune series on Liberia [Chicago Tribune 2005 - see links on page also]

Beautiful: Hillary Provides Unifying End to Debate

At last night's Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton sounded much like John Edwards with her ending statement that, whatever the outcome of this primary race, she and Sen Obama will be fine....but her real hope, passion, and commitment revolves around seeing that the American people will be okay.

What do you suppose she meant by the crises and challenging moments of her life? I am reminded of some of those moments by this film trailer for "The Hunting of the President", a documentary focusing on the 10-year campaign to destroy President William Jefferson Clinton and then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton based on the best-selling book The Hunting of the President by authors Joe Conason and Gene Lyons:

QUESTION: Does anyone out there think, should Sen Obama prevail in this nomination battle, that the Right will refrain from hunting him down?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Obama Lifts One Out Of Edwards' Playbook

"I haven't spent most of my life in politics, but I've spent enough time in Washington to know how much we need to change it. You know, folks from Robbins don't have lobbyists fighting for them in Washington. They count on their government to protect their interests, and they deserve a President who goes to work every day thinking about them, fighting for them. I've never taken a dime from special interest PACs or Washington lobbyists. I have spent my life working for people against those special interests. I know this fight. I am ready for this fight. And we will win this fight!"

- Remarks as prepared for delivery by John Edwards on September 16, 2003 in Robbins, N.C.

Here's how those remarks were actually delivered by Senator Edwards...and apparently Obama's people liked those remarks so much they decided to try it out for themselves!

*Speaking of Edwards and Obama, political reporter for the Charlotte Observer Jim Morrill has what might be considered to be an interesting bit of information for those who like to speculate.

Belgrade Riots Over Kosovo - U.S. Embassy Set Ablaze

Map of The Balkans
Photo credit:

I think it's safe to say that violence and uncertainty have not been unexpected consequences of Kosovo claiming its independence.

Today we saw the U.S. embassy in Belgrade beseiged by a mob of Serbian protestors and set ablaze after they'd trespassed onto the consular area at the embassy compound, according to U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. The US embassy fire was brought under control about an hour after it began. There is widespread rioting and vandalism throughout the city. Serbian President Boris Tadic [more pro-European than PM Vojislav Kostunica] has appealed for an immediate end to the violence.

UPDATE: According to B92, the incident at the U.S. Embassy has claimed one victim whose identity at this point is unknown. The victim's body was allegedly recovered from the embassy today.

I worry about how far something like this kind of protest, unrest, and volatility could spread and which territories could become destabilized without further intervention. An excerpt from something I'd read last Autumn:

Kosovo had expected the West to continue supporting what it called the inevitability of Kosovar independence. However, that inevitability is now lost in the shuffle of a larger political battle between global power players such as Russia, the European Union and the United States, and Serbia and Kosovo are left with only uncertainty.

All sides fear this uncertainty will turn volatile — and possibly bloody. If an explosion of violence does occur, it will not be contained within Serbia and Kosovo’s borders; it could destabilize the entire Balkan region. Minor incidents of violence and instability have already been seen in Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

- Kosovo: The Fuse on the Balkan Powder Keg, November 16, 2007 [] (subscription req)

Look at what Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica is leading his people to believe [speaking at a rally at the Temple of St. Sava in Belgrade today]:

Kostunica promised Serbia would never accept Kosovo's independence in an emotive speech.

"Kosovo is Serbia's first name. Kosovo belongs to Serbia. Kosovo belongs to Serbian people. It has been like this forever and it will be like this forever," said Kostunica.

The rally was also addressed by Tomislav Nikolic of the ultra-nationalist Radical Party.

"Hitler could not take (Kosovo) away, nor will these ones today be able to," said Nikolic, referring to the Western powers supporting Kosovo.

"You, from the United States and the European Union, you caused huge sadness in our hearts," said Nikolic, speaking on behalf of the parliament where his party is the single strongest force.

"We tell you, we were sad for two days, on the third day Serbs burnt checkpoints, on the fourth day we gathered at the biggest rally Serbia has ever seen."

AFP: Rioters set fire to US Belgrade embassy over Kosovo

Hating "Dumb Wars"

Does Barack Obama Think the Late-90s Serbia/Kosovo War was "Dumb"? Will Anyone Ask Him?

"I am not against all wars", declared young Mr. Obama, putative bhakta of Martin Luther King, in the pre-Iraq War speech of 2002 so pivotal to his campaign, "Only dumb wars".

Really? America's Serbian war was, by measures of Washington Wisdom, a 'smart war'. No Americans died in it (Lots of Serbians did, as did some Chinese -- but who's counting them?). Our 'war' ended in about two months: a neat affair, like a summer romance. Did Mr. Obama think that was a smart war or a dumb one? No one in the Press asks, because we are too busy with matters of vital importance, such as whether he stole a line or two from Deval Patrick.

- asks Niranjan Ramakrishnan at

Democratic Voters Seek Universal Healthcare

Walter Shapiro [] gives us a bit of insight as to why Hillary's healthcare policy plans would get us closer to universal healthcare than Sen Obama's plan. Mr. Shapiro thinks that Independent voters, split on the mandate debate, might be tempted more by Obama's less-than-universal healthcare plan while Democrats believe the time for truly universal healthcare has come.

Only rigorous enforcement of a mandate to obtain health insurance would bring America to the verge of universal coverage. The enforcement mechanism in her own plan is something that Clinton has carefully reserved to be worked out with Congress after she is elected, though she has expressed interest in less draconian steps, such as automatic enrollment whenever someone visits a doctor or hospital. But whatever the gaps in the eventual Clinton plan (and remember that not even Medicare hits 100 percent coverage), her approach -- as opposed to Obama's -- would almost certainly bring the nation closer to the holy grail of health insurance for all.

But at what political cost? Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy at Harvard and an expert on public polling on the issue, said, "In a primary, getting everybody covered is really important to Democratic voters. But it is somewhat less important to independents. Independents are more split on the question of mandates. So in the general election, not having a mandate is not going to be a problem." Or as Goolsbee, the economic advisor to Obama, argued, "If you're going to do a mandate right off the bat, you're going to expend a lot of political capital to do it."

Chelsea Clinton paid a campaign visit to Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio on February 13th and had this to say about her mother's plan for universal healthcare, according to Adam Feuer [Wright State University's Guardian]:

"How will your mom address the healthcare crisis?"

Chelsea Clinton:
"I'm so proud that my mom stood up for universal healthcare in '93 and '94 before it was fashionable, and she's still standing up for universal healthcare. What she has proposed now does reflect all the lessons that she learned in the 90's. It's not only something that I really support because, philosophically, as a Democrat I support universal healthcare, but also because I know that it is politically achievable, and it has support from doctors and nurses and hospitals and business and labor and the coalition that we know we need to have to really get it done."

"So what does she propose? Well, if you have healthcare and you're happy with it, you can keep it. Because one of the things that she found in '93 and '94 was that plenty of people were happy with their healthcare, or they were intimidated by the prospect of changing. But if you have healthcare and you're not happy with it, or it's not really there when you need it, or it's too expensive for what you do need .. you'll be able to buy into the congressional plan .. that covers the nine million people who work for the federal government .. they're good plans. You can't be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. And one of the things my mom has proposed that is distinctive to her plan is to have mental and dental health parity for all of the plans."

* Mr.Feuer adds: "She also stated that under her mother's proposed plan, anyone who couldn't afford coverage would qualify for Medicaid."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008



When you say you're proud of your country, what are you saying?

Are you speaking of a city...of Washington D.C.....or are you looking at the millions upon millions of faces who make us who we are?

Your country is today and has always been a government of people. Community-by-community, individual-by-individual, we form civic life around our common vision and elect those that the majority of us agree will best get us as close to the common vision as we can get.

Washington, D.C. does not now..nor has it ever represented America to me.

It's people like Fatima Faisal and Staff Sgt Phillip Trackey from my own community and state who've made me proud.

I'm proud of Chief Oren Lyons and the people of the Onondaga Nation for sharing their lessons of peace and caring about the environment with those from the outer community for so many years.

I'd said I was proud of Kevin Tillman for having taken up his brother Pat's mantle and calling for a change before America becomes just another lost ideal in the dustbin of History.

I was proud one Sunday morning to see former President Clinton standing up for himself and for all of us against the disinformation presented ad nauseum on Fox News.

I was proud to see former President Clinton speaking strongly against the attempts of irresponsible "docu-drama" writers to rewrite [and a national broadcast network to broadcast] fraudulent and slanderous 9/11 history just two months before an election.

I was proud of Al Gore as he took pride in stating his enjoyment at having been a key part of the Clinton-Gore Administration..being proud of the work they did and that he'd helped to get the breakthrough at Kyoto and had worked very hard to make changes in US environmental policy.

I've been proud of the first President for whom I'd ever had the opportunity to cast a vote - Jimmy Carter - and all the compassionate work he has done post-Presidency.

I remember the great swelling of pride in 1980, as I was reaching adulthood, of having seen the Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid...and I remember the great pride it brought to that community..our state..our youth...our nation.

I'm most proud of every soldier who volunteers for duty to our country..even when the assignment is something that is politically controversial. A lot of young men [and some young women] that I saw raised with hope and love in my own community are serving in Iraq as I type these words. I've seen my community pull together in support of our troops, even in the toughest times. It wasn't Washington, D.C. that compelled them to do so. It was in their hearts to do what they've done.

I'm proud of every Boy Scout, Girl Scout, and Scout leader in my community and around this country who, as they become [or assist youth to become] honorable young men and women, also dedicate themselves to civic activities that take them far beyond their own self-interest. [My own son among them].

I'm proud of every man, woman, and child in this country who have joined in the fight against HIV/AIDS. On this particular day, we even see activist Bob Geldof praising our nation and our President for what we've done...and we shouldn't forget it:

Mr. Geldof praised Mr. Bush for his work in delivering billions to fight disease and poverty in Africa, and blasted the U.S. press for ignoring the achievement.

Mr. Bush, said Mr. Geldof, "has done more than any other president so far."

"This is the triumph of American policy really," he said. "It was probably unexpected of the man. It was expected of the nation, but not of the man, but both rose to the occasion."

I'm proud of every man and woman who'll stand up proudly and unapologetically for who they are when they happen to deeply love someone who shares the same gender.


For me, to be proud was to have supported a leader who came closest to my vision of justice in a society that has misunderstood the true meaning of justice for far too long.

I'm with Paul Hewson, otherwise known as U2 rock-star Bono, with these words he'd spoken at a 2006 prayer breakfast in Washington, D.C.:

...this is a town - Washington - that knows something of division.

But the reason I am here, and the reason I keep coming back to Washington, is because this is a town that is proving it can come together on behalf of what the scriptures call the least of these.

This is not a Republican idea. It is not a Democratic idea. It is not even, with all due respect, an American idea. Nor it is unique to any one faith.

'Do to others as you would have them do to you' (Luke 6:30). Jesus says that.

'Righteousness is this: that one should...give away wealth out of love for him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for the emancipation of the captives.' The Koran says that (2.177).

Thus sayeth the Lord: 'Bring the homeless poor into the house, when you see the naked, cover him, then your light will break out like the dawn and your recovery will speedily spring fourth, then your Lord will be your rear guard.' The Jewish scripture says that. Isaiah 58 again.

That is a powerful incentive: 'The Lord will watch your back.' Sounds like a good deal to me, right now.

A number of years ago, I met a wise man who changed my life. In countless ways, large and small, I was always seeking the Lord's blessing. I was saying, you know, I have a new song, look after it…. I have a family, please look after them…. I have this crazy idea...

And this wise man said: stop.

He said, stop asking God to bless what you're doing.

Get involved in what God is doing - because it's already blessed.

Well, God, as I said, is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing.

And that is what he's calling us to do.

The leader I'd supported, John Edwards, had the greatest caring for the kind of justice, attainable through the rule of law, that would and could have ended Poverty through a common caring and long-standing commitment and effort. Our nation never seems to have understood the vision because no leader's never been quite brave enough to make it the center of a Presidential campaign as John Edwards did. Some have called it foolish. I call it true love for our country which, in the end, is given a face one person at a time..person-by-beautiful-person.

I've been proud of this country in so many ways...through all of my days...even on the darkest days.

I think Michelle Obama misspoke when she made it seem as if she was aware of her pride for the first time since reaching adulthood because of the [understandable] inspiration she's derived from her husband's 2008 campaign. A blog has called it "Pride in the name of self-love". I sincerely doubt that Mrs. Obama meant it that way [see Mrs. Obama video], yet Mrs. McCain [see Mrs. McCain video]took full political advantage of what I'm certain many will see as a gaffe from the potential First Lady Michelle Obama. I always regret when someone's words are taken out of context before the person has an opportunity to expand on the intended meaning.

John Edwards, the leader I'd most admired and for whom I was most proud because of his message, his intent, and his commitment is out of this Presidential race now. His message reminded me of this quote by the great social activistCaesar Chavez about the kind of pride which cannot be taken from the once-humiliated:

Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours."

I can't say that the pride I've had, in so many ways, for this country is new-found and I can't say I feel it swelling in the present because of any one particular candidate who's still in the running. Pride has to be about more than just that.

I suspect we'll see clarity from Michelle Obama on what pride means to her very soon. I hope MSM will give her every benefit of doubt.


- More on Poverty by Bono here at an older Iddybud post.

John Edwards Tribute w/Nick Drake

John Edwards supporter Anonymoses creates the video embedded above and says:

One cannot say enough good things about John and Elizabeth Edwards, whose campaign was characterized by clarity, bold, unapologetic progressive ideas, the best grasp of reality, and the best grasp of visions, with the energy and will to bring them to fruition. I predict his visions will become reality, even though he has suspended his campaign.

The late, great Nick Drake provides the music.

Castro Resigns

After 49 years of rule, Fidel Castro has resigned as leader of Cuba.

Expecting his 76-year-old brother Raul Castro to take over as President since he is Fidel Castro's constitutionally designated successor, the U.S. State Department is downplaying any high expectations for a new kind of democracy in Cuba by saying flippantly that the change will be a "transfer of authority and power from dictator to dictator light."

What Obama Speech "Plagiarism" Charge Really Means

Jeffrey Feldman of Frameshop writes today about the charge of "plagiarism," made by the Clinton campaign about a recent Obama speech:

Obama did not say the same phrase as Patrick because Obama plagiarized Patrick's speeches, but because both candidates hired the same political consultant to manage the message of their campaigns. When Patrick was accused of being all-words-and-no-action by his opponent in the 2006 gubernatorial election, Axelrod devised a response for him that involved poking fun of the charge by referencing great speeches of iconic American leaders--JFK, FDR, MLK. And it worked.

When Clinton used the same critique to go after Obama, Axelrod simply reached for the same solution that had worked for Patrick and gave it to Obama.

Why not? What is wrong with doing this?

Absolutely nothing is wrong from a legal or even a political perspective. Candidates often draw on the successful messages of other politicians, both those that came before them and those against whom they are currently competing.

The problem is one of perception and image.

More than anything else, the 'plagiarism' incident has the potential to transform Obama's image from that of a singular historic figure who soars above "politics as usual," to that of a gifted, but ordinary politician--just another client of the handful of media Svengalis who pull the strings of candidates and manipulate public opinion to win elections. The curtain has suddenly dropped, and behind it we see: the political consultant.


Update: Mike Allen at Politico says he's found another example of copy-catting and Obama campaign-manager David Axelrod has taken to throwing pot-shots at Clinton rep Howard Wolfson for making the charges.

Foreign Policy: Ron Paul's World View

Rep. Ron Paul

"Some people in DC laugh at the idea that I should obey my oath of office, and ask first of any proposed legislation, 'Is it constitutional'?"

"If I am defeated in the upcoming congressional primary, our ideas will be held to have been defeated as well. It will be proclaimed from the rooftops in DC that such "ridiculous and outmoded notions" as the free market, sound money, personal liberty, limited government, and a pro-American foreign policy are through.

I am determined not to let this happen. All that you and I believe in is far too important to the future of our country, and to everyone and everything we love, to let the neocons dance on its grave

- Texas GOP Congressman and 2008 POTUS candidate Ron Paul
Excerpts from a Paul campaign e-mail [see The Washington Note]

Steve Clemons says:

I think Ron Paul's voice has become vital in our national debate and felt that more should be aware of how the Iraq War has become the sad rallying cry of the right.

I'm an Independent -- and I believe that the Republicans and Democrats are both complicit in our current mess. But it does really bother me that Republicans who opposed the war are under attack from a new resurgent mania of Iraq War fantasists, and that Dems in Congress failed to pull the plug on this conflict and could have.

While there have been drawbacks to the Paul candidacy from those who'd call themselves true Progressives, based upon some unsettling and decidedly tragic associations with those who are labeled "neo-confederates" [I leave it up to the reader to judge for themselves what those charges of past racism are worth and ask them to recall West Virginia leader Robert Byrd's own past], I have long been with Dr. Paul at heart on much of his world view when it comes to modern U.S. foreign policy. I have found, personally, that I am intimidated by my own fellow Progressives on progressive group-websites when I set out to discuss Dr. Paul's world views and I've often found that it's most unfortunate. I had blogged about Dr. Paul's public opposition to the U.S.-led Iraq occupation long before most Democratic leaders became politically emboldened to do the same [or as clearly] as Dr. Paul. I carry much respect Dr. Paul's wisdom and politcal courage for this reason. Affirmed neoconservatives should have no place of honor or responsibility in the next Presidential administration. I'll never again trust an administration who would swear a neoconservative into any position of power.

I think it's important, whether or not we support a candidate's bid for POTUS, that we agree that it's fine to say so when you agree with someone on issues with which you have a stand in common. This kind of pact to seek consensus and agreement is sorely needed for the best interests of this country.

I don't think it's unreasonable for me to say that Dr. Paul will not receive his party's presidential nomination. His voice, however, has been one of the strongest in opposition to every wrong-minded Foreign Policy thought that has brought us to where we are today. Why do you think he has the hearts and minds of [and financial contributions from] so many young Republican voters today?

To whom will those young Republicans turn in the November election?
Will they vote at all?


"Ron Paul won the debate hands down. He wont garner any Republican support though because he dared to speak of the unspeakable…..the Constitution of the United States. Of all the other candidates on both sides, not one has even mentioned upholding the Constitution, a document they would swear to defend if elected. It’s a sad commentary on the state of American politics."

- A comment found under a post at The American Street

Monday, February 18, 2008

Condolences to Family, Friends of Dr. Faughey

My dear friend Barbara was a former patient of Manhattan psychologist Dr. Kathryn Faughey, who was senselessly murdered last week while in her office helping others, as she had devoted her professional life to doing each and every day for so many years.

Words cannot express my sadness at her passing. Barbara pays tribute to Dr. Faughey at her blog.

LA Times Editorial: Political Surge in Iraq

Today's editorial in the LA Times indicates a willingness on the Editorial staff's part to find some credibility in the lull in the sectarian fighting in Iraq and a recognition of what they call "the first tangible steps toward genuine political reconciliation."

The better things go in Iraq, the less likely it is that U.S. generals (or politicians) will want to risk jeopardizing their hard-won gains by drawing down. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has agreed to a request by Gen. David H. Petraeus to return to the pre-surge level of about 130,000 troops by August, and then allow a "strategic pause" to evaluate whether more can come home.

What might this say about November, 2008 and the U.S. general election?

Battlefield commanders know best how many troops are needed to keep the country stable, but as a political and economic matter, U.S. forces must leave Iraq eventually -- sooner, if voters choose a Democratic president, much later if the president-elect is Republican John McCain. Either way, the United States needs a logical, orderly exit strategy that minimizes the risk that civil war will resume when our troops leave.

Paul Krugman: Poverty Is Poison

I see that some opinion-writers in the public spotlight are as tired as I am of the constant political excuse-making about the problem of pervasive poverty in the United States. Excuse-making only serves to facilitate the passing down, from generation to generation here in this country, of more poverty. In today's New York Times, columnist Paul Krugman informs us that we now "have another, even more compelling reason to be ashamed about America’s record of failing to fight poverty":

...neuroscientists have found that “many children growing up in very poor families with low social status experience unhealthy levels of stress hormones, which impair their neural development.” The effect is to impair language development and memory — and hence the ability to escape poverty — for the rest of the child’s life.

Mr. Krugman speaks of the excuses used so often and so coveniently by myriad political leaders:

Some of these excuses take the form of assertions that America’s poor really aren’t all that poor — a claim that always has me wondering whether those making it watched any TV during Hurricane Katrina, or for that matter have ever looked around them while visiting a major American city.

Mainly, however, excuses for poverty involve the assertion that the United States is a land of opportunity, a place where people can start out poor, work hard and become rich.

But the fact of the matter is that Horatio Alger stories are rare, and stories of people trapped by their parents’ poverty are all too common.

If governments that set their minds to it can reduce poverty, why do we still have at least 37 million American citizens worried about where the money for their next meal or their child's next doctor's visit might come from?

I have been proud and happy to have supported John Edwards throughout his run for the American presidency in 2008 because I firmly believe that he understood what was most important for our direction, as a nation of determined moral citizens with a common and socially-just purpose. Mr. Krugman concludes his column today by saying:

To their credit — and to the credit of John Edwards, who goaded them into it — both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are proposing new initiatives against poverty. But their proposals are modest in scope and far from central to their campaigns.

I’m not blaming them for that; if a progressive wins this election, it will be by promising to ease the anxiety of the middle class rather than aiding the poor. And for a variety of reasons, health care, not poverty, should be the first priority of a Democratic administration.

But ultimately, let’s hope that the nation turns back to the task it abandoned — that of ending the poverty that still poisons so many American lives.

I can't heartfully support any political candidate who will refuse, through communicating their ideas and offering their plans, to make the end of Poverty a realistic goal for our nation. Too many leaders have framed the alleviation of Poverty as a goal for which only excuses have be given while, year-after-year, the goal has continued to go unrealized..and has been made worse .. and has been used again and again as rhetorical bait for future progressive votes.

Disturbed Holeman Whines; MSNBC Jumps

"Throughout the event, as Clinton made his case for his wife, Holeman’s dissenting voice could be heard. At times he simply shouted Obama’s name. When Clinton would set up a sure applause line, Holeman could be heard heckling. As soon as Clinton finished speaking, the Canton native made a beeline to the ropeline to give Clinton a piece of his mind."

- from an MSNBC report


When rude, big-mouthed opportunists like Clinton-heckler/Obamamaniac Robert Holeman ..

[the poor baby who's whining all the way to the PR-top because he got a wagging finger in front of his face from a public figure who chose to engage him when he could've just as well been tased, tackled, and arrested in today's all-too oppressive political milieu]

.. are able to capture big MSM headlines, then I think it's time we admitted that there's a public emotional atmosphere in Primary 2008 that's exposing itself as a collective mental illness that is clearly being promoted by MSM. The collective mental illness is growing and thriving in the Democratic petri-dish and MSM has the handle on nearly all the control factors in the parameters and framing in the 2008 Democratic Primary-Science Lab.

A disturbed person is getting press as if he's a rational citizen and a gentleman. I'm embarrassed for intelligent Democrats to see such tilted reporting of the incident by MSNBC online and cable television today. What ever happened to a society (and a media that ethically supported that society) whose opinion landed on the side of basic civility and good general manners toward one another?

If the former President was accosted in the Holeman-manner yesterday and we'd seen the Secret Service carting him away, would it have been as easy for MSNBC to have blamed the former President for his natural reaction? I suspect the disturbed Holeman was looking for such a reaction from the former President in order to create the negativity by which he was allegedly disturbed.

The key word here, people, is disturbed.


I took this photo of President Clinton at a Democratic rally in Fall, 2006. It's not at all unusual for him to get out with the crowd and speak graciously to as many individuals as time will allow.

It's also very much like him to express himself with his hands as well as his words.

Update: Something important is lost in MSNBC's translation by omitting certain facts. The problem is, MSNBC is framing this all around Bill Clinton, neglecting to fully detail their report and entertain the oh-so-obvious political motives of the man who caused the scene.

From conservative blogger Mark Noonan
"For once, I’m on Bill Clinton’s side in an argument."


MSNBC VIDEO interviewing Clinton agitator/heckler Holeman here [Credit: Newsbusters]
[You'll note there's no evidence whatsoever that Clinton's finger ever came near the nose of the complainant who seems oddly proud of his 15 minutes of fame in the MSNBC spotlight.]

Happy Birthday, Yoko Ono!

Happy Birthday wishes go out today to Yoko Ono. The following is a photo and birthday message from Yoko herself [from a Facebook posting]:

by Yoko Ono

It is a giddy feeling
like being on a mountain
looking down
many little houses
many little streets
I was once in them
how little they were!
The cars are driving
like soldiers
like cockroaches
like dots

I look up
there are many trees
leading me to...
is that the top of the mountain?
I see that I have
much more to go

Then I see
that I am still in my kitchen
In one of the little apartment buildings
which looked like a pebble from the mountain!
making my morning coffee
sitting at my computer
looking over the park

Seventy five
and I'm alive

My body is filled with
many people
many cities,
many countries
many laughters,
many loves
many, many spaces and
oh, many, many times...

Is that what it is
to be omnipresent?
to experience all your
senses and feelings
of all times and space at once?
With no limitations
of the human world
Freed from time
Freed from space?
Are we all getting there?

I am full of thankfulness
for being alive
I am full of love
for knowing you
knowing life

Your beauty
Life's amazements
still unfolding
it's mystery

Thank you, thank you, thank you
For a very rich experience

Yes. I'm seventy five!
I'm alive
still dancing
in love with life.

Now, I'm suddenly
at the top of the mountain
Seeing the other side -
The Future!

It's so magical
I'm speechless.
It's so beautiful
We're smiling!
You are there
We are there

Yes. we are all there!
We are all there.
Still dancing
In love with life.....

February 18th, 2008
yoko ono

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Courting John Edwards


New Clinton Economic Message Has Echoes Of Edwards - [REUTERS, February 17, 2008
Clinton is courting working-class voters with a new message of economic populism similar to the theme of John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator who dropped out of the Democratic race in January.

Obama visits Edwards - [Mike Allen, Politico, Feb 17, 2008]
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) paid a secret visit to his former rival, John Edwards, in quest of his endorsement on Sunday, a Democratic official said.

Clinton Seen Leading the "Edwards Primary" - [Taegan Goddard, Political Wire, February 17,2008]
The Associated Press: "The couple has been impressed with Clinton, who has more effectively courted them since the 2004 vice presidential nominee dropped out, people who talk to the Edwardses say. Obama has been less attentive, they say, and some of those close to the Edwardses have been annoyed that Obama has continued to ridicule him for once saying his biggest weakness is that he has a powerful response to seeing pain in others."
Note: See my post of Feb 5th: Why is Obama Mocking John Edwards?


Carl Jeffers - The Road to Denver -- A Firewall for Hillary, A Firetrap for Obama - [Huffington Post Feb 16, 2008]
I believe it is likely that John Edwards may endorse Hillary Clinton for the nomination over Barack Obama. And if Edwards does so, I believe it would be for three reasons.

First, I think Edwards may conclude that Clinton is the tougher candidate to both fight in the fall campaign and to fight back against the insurance and oil companies once she were in the White House. Second, I think Edwards may conclude that Hillary's healthcare plan will come closer to accomplishing his goal of true universal health care that he feels so committed to and passionately about. [....]


Edwards Endorsement: Clinton or Obama? - [Huffington Post, Feb 17, 2008]
There are policy considerations at play: there is a sense within the Edwards camp that Clinton's policies could be better for working class Americans. But Obama's anti-lobbyist proposals are more aligned with Edwards' politics.

In response to a CNN report that Elizabeth Edwards may favor Obama over Clinton, sources close to the Edwards family flatly deny that she favors one candidate over the other.

Greg Sargent at TPM Election Central spoke to an Edwards aide who offered more details, including: "There's a greater than 50% chance he will endorse."

The Edwards aide cautioned against reading too much into the meetings, saying that he'd been talking to both of them before. "He's torn," the aide said "He has reservations about Hillary, which are pretty apparent."

On Obama, the aide says, Edwards worries "whether he's tough enough to be President of the United States. If you look at what Edwards ran on, which is not negotiating with the special interests, taking away their power, that's pretty different than the Obama model."

The Edwards aide added that Obama's lack of a health care plan with a "mandate" is a "tough hurdle for him to get over." He added, however, that Edwards is much more in line with Obama on other issues.

Obama Meets Edwards, Pledges Party Remake - [The Nation, Feb 18,2008]
By all accounts, the discussion inside the Edwards home revolves around whether Obama is ready for the presidency. Additionally, both John and Elizabeth Edwards are concerned that Obama's health care plan is weak -- especially in its failure to commit to universality. Clinton has played on those concerns during meetings with the Edwardses and phone conversations with them.
Also posted today at Anonymoses' blog. I left comment there.