Had Enough of Bill Clinton"s Undermining of Obama? Here's what you can do

A letter writing campaign is underway to inform Bill that he needs to get his act together or drop out of the picture for a few weeks. The site below contains a letter that can be used as is or modified to your taste. It also contains a link to Clinton's web address. Please circulate. (Hillary has come through.  She is working to elect Obama.  What Bill is up to is just plain wrong.)

"Had Enough of Bill Clinton"s Undermining of Obama? Here's what you can do"
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The Devil Made Me Do It: Blogosphere, Stop Hiding Behind Pseudonyms

By Mitchell Aboulafia  

I was tempted to title this piece, "The Cowardice of Bloggers," but I figured that this might be needlessly inflammatory. No reason to get people angry by calling them cowards just to get a bit of attention. (READ ME because I'm too controversial for words.) I have to admit that the temptation was great, for it seems that one needs to become the Dr. Strangelove of the Blogosphere to get noticed these days.

For the record, before I begin, I should make it clear that I am not suggesting that pseudonyms be banned from web sites. Nor I am suggesting that it isn't fun and at times useful to use a handle that hides your true identity. Everyone wants to be Clark Kent on some days of the week. And of course there are serious political reasons, for example, retaliation by employers or governments, for hiding one's true identity. No question, there are good grounds for using "pen names." With this string of caveats in place, I now make my case

The Blogosphere is about to be buried in junk. When exactly it will be totally buried is anyone's guess, but I see the sphere turning into the electronic equivalent of Wall-E's earth, probably before the glaciers melt. If you go to sites that run political commentary, you will find piles of junk written under "You don't know me or What Me Worry" pseudonyms. Yes, you will also find serious pieces written under pseudonyms, but often the individuals behind these contributions are known to various communities of bloggers. The writer feels a commitment to her work because she has a reputation to maintain.

Words are forms of action, and like other forms of action we bear responsibility for them. How we act and what we say are not separate from who we are. (This is why we should remain skeptical about those who keep telling us that John McCain isn't really acting like himself. No, he is acting like himself. His actions and words are John McCain. They define him and he shouldn't be allowed to walk away from them. I know that I ain't waiting around for the real McCain to show.) Every time you post a commentary or a blog, you are in fact saying something about who you are. You can say, "Well, it's just a game, so whatever I say doesn't really matter. As proof of the fact that it is a game, I am not signing my real name." Ah, and there is the rub. Junk and more junk because people don't feel responsible for what they are saying.

Keep in mind that many sites have just wanted to build traffic. One way to do this has been to encourage pseudonyms. Venting is very seductive. And it takes a lot less time, thought, and effort to turn out a "What Me Worry" comment under a pseudonym. But lots of people feeling this way will increase the "hits" on sites, which translates into advertising dollars. Think about this aspect of the pseudonym phenomenon: when you use one carelessly and often, you may be playing into the hands of corporations. In other words, you are allowing yourself to be used.

Okay, you say that no one is forcing anyone to read blogs or commentaries. Fine. (Although junk comments often take up a good deal of space on otherwise serious sites.) But my concern here is not only for the readers and the cluttered Blogosphere. It's also for the authors. Saying something in one's own voice involves a commitment to oneself. A commitment that can be transformative. So, yes, one can use the Blogosphere to vent, but in the end it's a no growth proposition. If you just want to curse at the sky, so be it. Nothing is going to change and you will end up not taking advantage of something that might be transformative, expressing yourself in earnest.

So, what I am recommending? I am suggesting that more bloggers come clean and that more sites encourage people not to use pseudonyms. The Blogosphere has the potential to become the public square of the twenty-first century. However, we are on our way to filling it with so much junk that the nuggets are getting harder to find. And I am not sure that even Wall-E will be able to get us out of this one.

For a version with pics:
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McCain's "A blog you can believe in"

Okay, maybe I am the last to find out.  But just in case I am not, do you know that there is something called the "McCain Report" on McCain's web site? And that the sub-title for the Report is, I kid you not, "A blog you can believe in." http://www.johnmccain.com/mccainreport/  Just how sad is this?  The McCain people can't even come up with their own slogans.  (And this is not the only use of Obama slogans on the site.)

Below is currently (June 16, 1:00 AM EST) the first entry on the blog.  First, they don't get (or want to get) Obama's joke, that is, his play on the quotation from "The Untouchables," and second, they make a weak stab at humor.  I don't think that this is an organization that has much going for it.....We shall see.

"Posted at 11:47 AM on 6/14/2008 by Michael Goldfarb
Obama Flip-Flop on Gun Control? Or New Politics? Or Both?

Barack Obama appeared at a fundraiser in Philadelphia last night where he delivered the following remark:

     'If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.'

A couple thoughts from McCain HQ on this. First, Barack Obama has a long track record as a proponent of stringent gun-control regulations--to the point that a questionnaire filled out by his staff, and with the candidate's handwriting on it, stated that Obama favored a ban on the manufacture, sale, and distribution of handguns. Can we assume that Senator Obama now opposes efforts to ban the possession of handguns?

Second, would Obama be carrying a concealed weapon to this fight? Will he have a permit?

And finally, we're having second thoughts about our proposed series of town halls."

_______

"A Dozen Reasons Why McCain Won't Win: Money-Back Guarantee"
http://msa4.wordpress.com

And for fun for BSG fans, who know something about McCain:
"The Twelfth Cylon Revealed"
http://msa4.wordpress.com/

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An Open Letter to Senator Clinton: Please Help Undermine the Anti-Obama Web Sites (using your name)

Dear Senator Clinton,

After a difficult and long campaign, I want to thank you for supporting Senator Obama and for your efforts on behalf of the Democratic Party, past and future. We all know that a divided party will simply set the stage for a John McCain victory. We can all agree with Reverend King.

"Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we've got to stay together. We've got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh's court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that's the beginning of getting out of slavery. Now let us maintain unity." Martin Luther King, "I've Been to the Mountaintop," April 3rd, 1968.

Perhaps you have heard that your supporters, or those claiming to be your supporters, have formed groups and begun web sites in order to undermine Obama's chances in November. These sites are using your name.

Let me give you one example, "Ex-Hillary Supporters for John McCain"<http://www.hcsfjm.com/comments5.html>. Here is an excerpt from one of the first postings on the site. [Grammatical and spelling errors not corrected.]

"The belief that Hillary Clinton and Obama are alike or even close is just ludicrous.
1/ Mrs. Clinton is someone who has served this country with honor for some 35 years

2/ Mrs. Clinton has integrity OBAMA has none

3/ Jonh McCain respects Mrs. Clinton unlike Obama.

4/ Mrs. Clinton is not a racist or calls racist friends, unlike Mr. Obama whose friends are terrorist and anti semites

I could go on and on.......but the best thing about Mrs. Clinton that she will be there to clean out the barn after OBAMA gets soundly rejected by the American people"

Here is currently (June 9th, 11:30 PM) the third posting on the site:

"A lot of Americans have become so
insulated from reality that they imagine that
America can suffer defeat without any inconvenience to themselves.

Pause a moment, reflect back.
These events are actual events from history.
They really happened!!!
Do you remember?

1. 1968 Bobby Kennedy was shot and
killed by a Muslim male extremist between the age of 17 and 40.

2. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics,
athletes were kidnapped and massacred by Muslim male extremists between the ages of 17 and 40.

3. In 1979, the US embassy in Iran was
taken over by Muslim male extremists between the
ages of 17 and 40."

After enumerating more points about Muslims, here is how the post ends:

"Have the American People completely
lost their Minds, or just their Power of Reason???
I'm sorry but I refuse to take a
chance on the 'unknown' candidate Obama . . . ."

Here is a third example from the same web page:

"I am disappointed that Hillary will not be the Democratic candidate, but there is no way I would ever vote for BHO, even if Hillary is VP. I would not vote for him simply for the reason that the man that represents the U.S., and should love our country more than any other, will not wear the most recognizable symbol of our country - the American flag on his chest. Oh, now he wears it..anything for a vote!
This man is dangerous to our democracy!
Please spread the word and encourage your friends to cast their vote against BHO!"

How many individuals on these sites are actually your supporters? I don't know. I do know that many are speaking as if they are your supporters. I also know that John McCain is asking your supporters for their votes.

These outrageous and scurrilous attacks must be undermined. There is no one in a better position to do so than you. I ask that you denounce these attacks on Senator Obama and distance yourself immediately from web sites and organizations that engage in them. You promised that you would do everything in your power to help elect a Democrat to the White House in November. Here is one way that you can make a significant difference. Please don't pass up the opportunity. Act now.

Mitchell A  
http://msa4.wordpress.com/

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Why is Clinton Really Objecting to the DNC's Decision?

I write here not to open wounds but to begin to find a way to move on. It is very difficult to accept a loss in a long and competitive campaign, but it is virtually impossible if one believes that his or her candidate was treated unfairly. Talk of Clinton having won the popular vote leaves this impression. People are led to believe that this may be Florida in 2000. It isn't.

The DNC reached a compromise yesterday (May 31st) on Florida and Michigan. It is fair and prudent. The Clinton camp appears satisfied with 50/50 split in Florida, but unhappy about the resolution in Michigan. From the Clinton camp:

"We strongly object to the Committee's decision to undercut its own rules in seating Michigan's delegates without reflecting the votes of the people of Michigan.

The Committee awarded to Senator Obama not only the delegates won by Uncommitted, but four of the delegates won by Senator Clinton. This decision violates the bedrock principles of our democracy and our Party.

We reserve the right to challenge this decision before the Credentials Committee and appeal for a fair allocation of Michigan's delegates that actually reflect the votes as they were cast."http://demconwatch.blogspot.com/

Are we really supposed to believe that Hillary Clinton, after stating publicly that the election in Michigan would not count--an election in which her opponent was not on the ballot--is now in a position to claim that the decision of the DNC has undermined democracy? Does she really believe this? Is she actually outraged?

I believe that there is outrage in Hillary's Camp. Just listen to some of the reports about what went on at the DNC meeting. And I also believe that Bill and Hillary may actually be outraged. The DNC's decision results in four more delegates for Obama than Hillary would have awarded him. In terms of the delegate count, four delegates can't be the source of the outrage. The practical consequences are nil and genuine outrage over principle is suspect. So if there is outrage, what is its source? Here is my hypothesis.

Hillary's Camp has been playing the metrics game for several months now. She has grown especially attached to is the so-called "popular vote" metric. However, any statistician or pollster worth his or her salt will tell you that you can't combine votes from caucus and primary states, for the former simply have many fewer "voters" involved. It is a classic case of apples and oranges. If you did combine them, the citizens of the caucus states could claim that they were being disenfranchised. Further, the primaries had different rules, some allowed independents to participate, some even allowed Republicans to cross over, while others were solely for Democrats.

The problem with the DNC's Michigan decision is that it undermines the plausibility of counting Michigan's votes in a popular vote total. According to the DNC, giving Obama the "uncommitted" votes is an inadequate solution to the Michigan problem. No one knows for sure how the vote would have gone. So it simply took the request of the Clinton Camp, and the request of the Obama Camp, and split the difference, awarding Obama four "additional" delegates. This is meant to make a statement. It shows that the state's popular vote is not to be construed as decisive or legitimate, for the delegate count does not match the "popular vote" (which in fact is non-existent since Obama wasn't on the ballot). The compromise was one over delegates, and the way that the delegates were handled signaled that Michigan's popular vote should not be counted.

The outrage from the Clinton Camp is real, but to be more exact, it is really fury at the DNC for undermining its case about the popular vote. It is not clear how she wants to use the latter at this point, but whether it is for posterity, for the VP slot, or for her next run for the presidency, the popular vote total remains very important to the Clintons. The problem, however, is obvious. By insisting on this false metric, they are undermining Obama. They are making it appear that she somehow won the election, as did Gore, and then had it taken away from her by an unfair system. But the analogy to Florida in 2000 is specious. Hillary and her Camp will have to take responsibility for any damage done to Obama's chances by continuing to "strongly object" to the DNC's reasonable compromise.

I hope that we can get past the "popular vote" and move on to the general election, asap.

To this end, I offer something to Obama and Clinton supporters who also happen to be BSG fans. I offer you the twelth cylon as a way to get going in the race against the Republicans.

"The Twelfth Cylon Revealed"
http://msa4.wordpress.com/

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The Twelfth Cylon Revealed

The political world is phase shifting, from yellow to at least orange. Just in the past couple of days we have had Scotty McClellan tearing apart the walls of Bush World by revealing truths that we have long known. Bush and Co. have struck back by trying to toss him into the sphere of hell that they reserve for those who are disloyal to the brotherhood. (First rule of Bush World: never speak ill of the inner circle or the gods will strike you down, down, and further down.)

But I am not here to talk about politics.  (We have all been just so immersed in political discussion.) I want to provide a respite. I want to answer a question that I know has been on many of your minds. I know that it has been on mine. Who is the twelfth Cylon?

A couple of months ago, a colleague recommended that I watch Battlestar Galactica. As a born sucker for entertaining Sci fi, whether on the screen or in print, I gave it a whirl. I especially like Sci fi that breaks some of the conventions of the genre. As any BSG fan knows, we are currently in season four. However, because I came late to BSG, I was able to watch the first three seasons on DVD. But now I find myself having to deal with commercial TV, for the fourth season has just begun, and there are no DVD's. For the solution to one of the biggest mysteries, who is the twelfth Cylon, I must wait months to find out. (For those of you who may not have seen the show, the Cylons are an "artificial" species that human beings created. And they in turn have created Cylons who look and act like human beings, which has led to many trials for both "species." We have learned who eleven of the human-like Cylons are, but the twelfth is a serious mystery.)

I find this intolerable. I need to know now, not in several months. So employing the finely honed analytical skills that I have developed as professional philosopher, I decided to figure out the answer.

It wasn't very hard. First, we must keep in mind that we are dealing with a show that prides itself on unexpected twists and turns. It wants to play outside of the box. Second, we must assume that the character who will turn out to be the twelfth Cylon, while already known to the audience, will still surprise us.

The writers have placed clues. The most striking: the executive officer, Saul Tigh, is a colonel. Why is this striking? Because we are on board a starship, a battlestar, in which everyone on board has naval military ranks. (Standard Sci fi fare here.) The Battlestar Galactica is led by an admiral, Lee Adama. It turns out, however, that the second in command-a hard-drinking, uptight, cussing, tough military type-is a colonel. And he is also a Cylon. The trail leads through Tigh, no doubt about it.

BSG has been rife with political commentary. (Sorry, we got back to politics somehow.) And the last shows have only been written recently due to the writers' strike. We know that one of the techniques that has become commonplace in TV of late is to import political figures into shows. The twelfth Cylon will be such a figure and, get this, he is going to be Tigh's fraternal twin. (Yes, this will turn out to be one of the most interesting twists in the plot. Up until now, all human-like Cylons have been identical twins. Now fraternal twins will come to the fore....a genetic variation that suggests new possibilities for the species.) You laugh, you scoff. But I tell you that he will be a military person, who, like Tigh, has had trouble with authority. Still skeptical. You will see and believe.....

Behold, I give you Colonel Tigh, a Cylon, and his fraternal twin, the Twelfth Cylon:

Okay, sorry, I don't know how to put pictures up on MyDD, so you are getting a commercial break.  If you want to tune in further,
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Iraq: It was Never the Right Choice (and We Told You So)

McCain and Co. will tell you that the problem with the war in Iraq has been in its execution. The war was not the problem, just bad management. Yet, contra McCain, others insist that had we known then, what we know now, we would not have gone to war. But the fact is that many of us did know, or at least knew enough, and were angry and demoralized because there was nothing we could do to stop the war. Through poor judgment or political calculation (or both), our representatives in the House and Senate voted to authorize Bush's war on October 11, 2002. Just five five months later, on March 18, 2003, the war began. And now, five years later, in some sort of bizarre parody of Churchill, we have McCain calling for victory and promising never to surrender. (Never surrender to what or to whom?)

At the time I wrote many drafts of op-ed pieces that I never bothered to polish or edit for publication. Quite frankly, I thought that they would do little, and just gave up on them. A correct assessment at the time. However, I now offer one from October 1st, 2002, exactly as it was written. Why? Because as many of us as possible now need to say, in as many ways as possible, "we told you so." And that in this election, we are going use our own good judgment, and elect leaders who will end a war that should never have begun.

A word about the context for the piece: I was suspicious at the time about whether WMD's existed. I certainly didn't think that Iraq had nuclear weapons. But I wanted to see if I could frame (in relatively few words) obvious problems with a war scenario, even assuming the existence of WMD's. The conceit of the piece was that by appealing to the self-interest of Republicans, we might be able to stop the war. (I hear you laughing and snickering). But as I note at the end, there were reasons to believe that it wouldn't work, then or now.

"Daddy, what's a Republican?"
October 1, 2002

We are all familiar with the Nasdaq Bubble of the 1990s, from which we learned how momentum has its own, well, momentum, until it all comes to a grinding halt. Yet the White House appears not to have learned this lesson. As the administration joyfully trades in patriotic slogans, and relishes the short term political gain that carrying the flag yields, another sort of bubble has arisen, a War Bubble. And just like those poor Wall Street traders who believed their own stories about the value of their shares, politicians caught within this new bubble do not realize that they are overvaluing a stock, Bush's stock with the American people. These politicians are called Republicans, and they are on the verge of making one of the greatest miscalculations in American political history.

Generals, as the story goes, are often caught fighting the last war. In this case we have politicians who are managing not only to fight the last war, but who are confusing the seemingly uncomplicated aftermath of that war with the war to come. Mr. Bush and company believe that we can take out Iraq without much difficulty, just like the last time. They tell us that American casualties will be low, and shortly after the invasion a new day will dawn for Iraq. And when this day dawns the President will be the man of the hour. He will be the leader who finally got the job done. He will have finished off the worst tyrant since Hitler. His poll numbers will rise into the stratosphere and, unlike his dad's, remain there for the next presidential election. And his coattails will be long indeed. But this outcome is a fantasy. Here is the reality, or at least something that more nearly approximates it.

Just as Bush's team says, our military will make short work of Saddam's forces. Within a week or two we will have secured most of the important military objectives, although not before Saddam has gassed and killed many of those who have opposed him (for example, the Kurds), turned weapons of mass destruction over to terrorist groups that will use them at their leisure, and blown up a number of oil fields. Our early military successes, however, will not end the war. Even after Hussein is killed or has fled, some Iraqi patriots will resist, and they will do so in major urban areas. There will be difficult urban warfare. Our soldiers will die and we will be tempted to level areas in some of Iraq's major cities in order to get the job done. Civilians will die. Children will die. The puppet government that we install will be resented by large number of Iraqis and by Muslims throughout the world. There will be no shortage of volunteers for terrorist organizations, and for the foreseeable future they will have little need to recruit. The land that we now know as Iraq will be unstable for years to come. We will either have to remain in force or watch the region disintegrate. The whole business will clearly be expensive in both material and human terms.

President Bush and his team have sold and will continue to sell the war on Iraq by playing on the vulnerabilities that Americans have felt since that horrific day in September. The rhetoric has been carefully constructed to conflate and confuse. Fear has done its job. Fear is leading to war fever and to war. But some day soon Hussein will be gone. What then happens when the terrorists strike America and this strike turns out to be worse than the last one? Or maybe there won't be a big strike, only a series of smaller strikes reminding us with each death and injury just how vulnerable we are. (Perhaps we will even discover that the weapons being used against us were made available to terrorists after we attacked Iraq.) We are being promised a safer America after this war, but it will not feel safer. And even if Americans are currently saying that they do not believe that getting rid of Saddam will end terrorism, in their heart of hearts they are expecting that the effort will lead to a big pay off in terms of safety. This is, after all, how the war is being sold. They will be disappointed.

But not only will America not feel like a safer place after the war, it will feel like a much poorer one. Everyone knows that our economy has been on the skids. The collective wisdom appears to be that we cannot expect the Stock Market to rise significantly anytime in the near future. To this fragile economy a war in Iraq will add a nice piece of change, starting at around forty or fifty billion, to our budget deficit. And don't expect much help from overseas in paying the tab. The arms that Mr. Bush twists to obtain support for his war will not extend themselves to dole out cold cash. It also appears that Afghanistan may end up costing more than we now expect, as will the campaign against terrorism. Yet in spite of their expense, all of these wars will not stimulate the economy in the manner of World War II. They simply aren't big enough. But they certainly will be big enough to place an additional drag on the economy. For example, a war with Iraq will cause risk premiums to rise, which may push up interest rates. To take a specific industry, the increase in oil prices, along with a decline in air travel, might help to bury a number of already shaky airlines. (For a discussion of the war's impact on the economy see, "Stiglitz: War Won't Boost U.S. Economy," a September 25, 2002 filing by Reuters in the New York Times. Joe Stiglitz is a Nobel-winning economist.) Further, we cannot depend on the consumer to bail the economy out, because consumer confidence will not readily recover in the age of Al Qaeda, higher oil prices, and continuing unrest in the Mid-East and around the world. It's reasonable to presume that the economy will stagnate if not weaken for the foreseeable future. Add to this our continuing sense of vulnerability in spite of winning a war with Iraq, and there is little doubt that Bush will be looking mighty ineffective, inept, and weak before the next presidential election. There will be no coattails in 2004. There probably won't even be a coat.

No series of arguments against the impending attack on Iraq has worked with the administration. Fear and dogmatism hold sway. So here is my extravagant hope. Bald self-interest will move the Republicans, because they will realize that if they don't get off the hobbyhorse of war, they will lose and lose big in elections to come. But I'm certainly not counting on it. Bubbles are mighty powerful. Just look at your 401K.

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Why I Can't Stop Criticizing Hillary, yet (although I wish I could)

Trying to do my small part to help begin to unify the Democratic Party, I had promised myself that I would halt criticism of Clinton in print and on the Web. There is, after all, so much to be said about McCain and Co. But this evening I find myself unable to carry through on this pledge. There are two significant reasons.

First, I have grown increasingly concerned that Senator Clinton's continual references to the so-called popular vote may end up damaging Senator Obama's candidacy. It has the potential to do so by delegitimizing his victory, that is, by making it appear that he didn't win the nomination cleanly because more people voted for Hillary. Certainly Clinton is entitled to remain in the race through all of the caucuses and primaries, and if she must, until the convention. However, even though it is clear that Obama's (increasing) delegate lead will give him the nomination, the Clintons have continued to appeal to the notion that she is entitled to it because she has won more votes. It's of course not evident that she has won more votes, except according to the most contrived mathematical formulas (e.g., leaving Obama without any votes in Michigan). But on a more basic level, the national popular vote is a myth, or I should say, a mythical beast. It is a chimera. You cannot generate a national popular vote from contests that have included caucuses (which cannot produce nearly as many votes as primaries), contests that have permitted independents to vote, as well as states that have permitted Republican crossovers, etc. It isn't necessary for the Clintons to make the popular vote argument to see the election through to the end, which is one of Hillary's proclaimed reasons for staying in the race. The argument is shortsighted if you care about a Democratic victory in November. One can only speculate as to why the Clintons have chosen this course, but it isn't for the good of the Party.

The second reason can be called the anti-mensch factor. Instead of stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for her comments regarding RFK's assassination, Hillary has come up with two lame strategies and one despicable one for explaining them away. The lame strategies involve trying to justify her comments by saying that 1) Teddy Kennedy had been on her mind, and 2) all she had meant to do was suggest a time line for long campaigns. I won't comment on the first, except to say that her comments were a strange way to reveal caring and concern. Regarding the second, the time line argument simply doesn't hold up. There is absolutely no reason why Bobby Kennedy's assassination needed to be invoked as a marker. There are many other ways to talk about extended nominating contests. And if for some reason she had wanted to mention Bobby, all she had to do was say that he won the California primary in June. (This is not to say that she wasn't thinking about a time line. The issue is about the role of the marker, RFK's assassination, that she chose to use.)

But now I come to the despicable reason. Zachary A. Goldfarb reported on May 25th, in The Washington Post, the following. "Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign accused Sen. Barack Obama's campaign of fanning a controversy over her describing the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy late in the 1968 Democratic primary as one reason she is continuing to run for the presidency. `The Obama campaign ... tried to take these words out of context,' Clinton campaign chairman Terence R. McAuliffe said on `Fox News Sunday.' `She was making a point merely about the time line.'"http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-talk/ 2008/05/clinton_camp_stokes_rfk_flap_b.h tml?nav=rss_email/components

As noted, the time line argument doesn't work. And it is virtually inconceivable that some very bright Clinton people do not understand the flaw in their own argument. It's just too obvious. So it is disingenuous for Clinton to claim that Obama took her words out of context if her own claim about `the context' is justifiably suspect. Further, the reaction to Hillary's words were viral. They were all over the web within hours if not minutes. In addition, you had papers like The Daily News and The New York Post running banner headlines about Hillary's "killer gaffe." McAuliffe's words were meant to suggest that the Obama people were somehow responsible for the "attacks" on Hillary. It is inconceivable that the Obama organization, even if it had wanted to fan the flames, could have been so successful. There was genuine outrage. I can tell you as someone who lived through the assassinations of the sixties, the outrage was totally comprehensible. It didn't need any "fanning" from the Obama organization.

But there is more.

According to Goldfarb, "Asked if Clinton has personally called Obama to apologize for the reference, McAuliffe said she has not, `nor should she.' He added, `Let's be clear. This had nothing to with Senator Obama or his campaign.'"

Obama, the first African-American candidate with a real chance of winning the White House, has had to receive secret service protection since last May, long before the other candidates (excepting Hillary as the spouse of a former President). This protection is necessary due to a very real concern, namely, that someone might try to shoot and kill him. As a black American he is uniquely vulnerable. And the Clinton campaign can't see a reason for a phone call. Why? Because of how they read the politics: if we apologize, then we admit that she may have done or said something wrong. Political calculation trumps basic decency. (The irony, of course, is that they have the politics wrong. How they are handling this will cost them support, especially among Boomers who lived through the sixties.)

As a final note, I watched HBO's new movie, "Recount," this evening. I have heard that Hillary has already noted that the movie supports her claims about Florida and Michigan. Nonsense on stilts. The situations are totally different, and a slogan such as, "count all the votes," had a totally different meaning in Florida in 2000 than it does in Michigan and Florida in 2008. But right now I am just hoping that I don't feel compelled to write something more about Hillary Clinton.

For more on the campaigns, http://msa4.wordpress.com/

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It's Over: Clinton Won't be the Democratic Presidential or VP Candidate (and Boomers will make sure

Most of you reading this commentary will have heard what Hillary Clinton said this afternoon, May 23rd, to the editorial board of South Dakota's Sioux Falls Argus-Leader, in response to a question about staying in the race.  

"My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right?" she said. "We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California." The New York Times, May 24, 2008, Katharine Q Seelye reporting. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/24/us/pol itics/24clinton.html?_r=1&hp&ore f=slogin

And you May have heard Clinton's "apology," also reported by Seelye in the Times.

" `The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator Kennedy,' referring to the recent diagnosis of Senator Edward M. Kennedy's brain tumor. She added, `And I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation and in particular the Kennedy family was in any way offensive.'"

Hillary's most consistent supporters have been folks over 50, especially women over 50.  With her statement about assassination, and her bizarre "apologetic" explanation (namely, I was thinking about Teddy and so I mentioned Bobby's assassination), she just lost a substantial number of these supporters.  I will not say all.  I will not say those closest to her.  But I will say, a very significant number. Most importantly, in terms of the race, many superdelegates in this age cohort, who may have been leaning her way, will be looking around for the nearest Exit sign.  Ditto for those who were in favor of placing her in the VP slot.  

Members of the Democratic Party who experienced the trauma of the assassinations of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King will understand that Clinton crossed a line today.  Many will agree with Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, an uncommitted superdelegate.  Seelye reports that Clyburn "said through a spokeswoman that the comments were `beyond the pale.' " For those who remember Bobby lying in a pool of blood the night that he won the June California primary, little explanation is needed as to why prominent figures shouldn't mention the assassinations of presidential candidates.      

To say that Hillary was simply using RFK's assassination as a time marker doesn't cut it.  There are simply too many other ways that Hillary could have talked about extended nominating contests. For example, she could have simply said, RFK won the California primary in June.  "Oh, but Hillary would never wish the death of another candidate," a supporter might reply.  But it is not a question of her wishes, whether benighted or angelic. I leave it to the psychologists to analyze her motivations.  What I do know is that someone who lived through the sixties as an adolescent or adult should understand the dangers of invoking the assassination of a presidential candidate during a campaign, especially one in which the front-runner is an African-American.  And Clinton not only invoked an assassination, she invoked the assassination of the brother of a Senator who has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. How disturbing is this?  Just ask yourself, could you have imagined this story before it happened?

Please don't tell me that her words can be explained away because of Hillary fatigue.  First, because she was quite lucid when she was speaking, and, second, because she has raised the issue of assassination before, without using the term.

"NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli notes that Clinton said something similar the day after the Indiana and North Carolina primaries. `Sometimes you gotta calm people down a little bit. But if you look at successful presidential campaigns, my husband did not get the nomination until June of 1992,' she said. `I remember tragically when Senator Kennedy won California near the end of that process.' "http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2 008/05/23/1058940.aspx

Perhaps most tellingly, her "apology" showed little understanding of the seriousness of her "gaffe." Yes, she should have apologized to the Kennedys, but she should also have taken responsibility for her remarks and made a sincere apology to the American people.  She is going to lose support among influential boomers, support that she can't afford to lose at this point.

This is the end of Hillary's quest.  Her judgment can no longer be trusted. Democrats will not take a chance on running her for president or VP.  It is just awful that it had to end like this.

(As a side note, Hillary has been misleading audiences when she has claimed that Bill's race ran into June.  Technically it did because California hadn't voted. But he had the nomination sewed up before California's primary in June. The situation is not analogous to the current race.)

See also,  "The President, The Senator, and the Candidate"http://msa4.wordpress.com/

There's more...

Snapshot Polls, Popular Vote, and Intrade

I have grown increasingly frustrated as the day has worn on. I keep seeing supporters, especially of Senator Clinton, referring to recent polls as evidence that she is more electable.  The fact is that we don't know who is more electable right now because there are simply too many variables, including what the months ahead have in store.  One thing is fairly certain, given the mixed and changing results in snapshot state and national polls, the Democrats would be foolish to select a candidate based on them.  

Further, in spite of what we hear from the Clinton people, there is no such thing as a national popular vote. http://msa4.wordpress.com/  Too many apples and oranges. There are caucus and non-caucus states.  There are states that have included independents and those that haven't. Some have allowed party cross-overs and some have not.  These election results can't be combined into one figure, and especially not into a figure that will satisfy everyone. Bottom Line: if the Democrats back off from using the delegate count in nominating their candidate, and try to substitute a bogus national popular vote, they will be courting calamity.  (Few believe that such a substitution will actually take place. But as long as people keep talking about a popular vote, it pushes closure off into the horizon.)

If you really must have some numbers at this time, the odds are that the results from Intrade are probably more accurate than any one set of polls.  Of course Intrade isn't always accurate and its traders change their minds.  But it has a pretty good record. Interestingly, in the face of all of the current polls, as of 12:00 AM, May 23rd, the traders think Obama is going to beat McCain. http://www.intrade.com/jsp/intrade/contr actSearch/
Notice that there have been hundreds of thousands of trades, that is, "bets." 

The figures in order refer to:
Contract      Bid    Ask    Last     Vol       Chge

        2008.PRES.OBAMA
Barack Obama to win 2008 US Presidential Election    M     Trade        57.3    57.4    57.3    157381    +0.9
    2008.PRES.McCAIN
John McCain to win 2008 US Presidential Election    M     Trade        38.1    38.3    38.2    202761    -1.8
    2008.PRES.CLINTON(H)
Hillary Clinton to win 2008 US Presidential Election    M     Trade        5.8    6.7    6.8    294285    +1.0

There's more...

Diaries

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