Thursday, May 29, 2008

How to throw the boss under a bus real good

Whether it was for the money, for revenge, or a sincere change of heart, former White House Press Secretary Scott McClelland has written a tell-all about his time as Bush's mouthpiece. The media folks got advance copies and have been all over this. I just ordered mine and it should be here next week. A future post will be a review.

A lot of people are upset about it. It's coming from the White House and the right wing, the left wing for doing it for the money, and the media for calling them on their shoddy reporting leading up to the war.

At least his mom is proud of Scott throwing the entire administration under a bus.

Thanks, Scott. I can't wait to read it.


Libertarian update

Our friends over in the Libertarian Party convened last weekend and picked their candidates for president and vice president. Soon, we will be inundated, inundated I tell ‘ya with messages from the Barr/Root campaign.

That’s right. The candidate for president is Former Republican Congressman from Georgia Bob Barr, who switched parties in 2006, griping about skyrocketing government expenditures.

Back in March, I wondered how much interest the convention would generate in the media. From the looks of a quick Google news search, which brought up 146 stories today, the major outlets all seemed to have given it at least a little notice. For what it’s worth, C-Span covered the whole thing live. I am pretty certain that I saw a person wearing a Guy Fawkes mask in the audience. I really wish I could find a picture. Anyway, here’s the AP story on the convention:

Not exactly the level of coverage devoted to the Democrats and Republicans, but they are not likely to get enough support to justify extensive media coverage. On the other hand, a lack of media coverage is one of the Barr/Root campaign’s largest obstacles to the presidency.

So, Mr. Barr can keep saying that he is in this race to win. Unfortunately for the right, this is really about giving conservative voters an alternative to John McCain. If the outpouring of support for Ron Paul is any indication, this could swing some tight races to the Democrats and put Hillary or Barack into the White House. Newt Gingrich agrees, but he is not happy about it:

Bob Barr will make it marginally easier for Barack Obama to become president. That outcome threatens every libertarian value Barr professes to champion.

Thanks, Bob.

At this juncture, the best scenario for the Democrats is that Barr will indeed draw some votes in Georgia, and perhaps even swing the state to the Democrats. That would be a huge coup for the Democrats in the Electoral College. On the other hand, this could be Ross Perot 2008 and Barr draws broad support from the Republicans and the Democrats cruise to victory. If even that little bit of wishful thinking turns out to be true, the Democrats will need to 1) thank the Libertarians profusely and 2) consider some of their policy positions. The GOP is fading, and this would be an opportunity to work with the disaffected Republican voters and swing a few tight Congressional races along the way. “Vote for Barr and against the other Republicans on the ballot.”

On a sadder note, the convention marked the end of Mike Gravel’s political career. His message did not appeal to the Democrats, nor did he make his case for the Libertarian nomination.

It was good to hear about Gravel’s beliefs and past service in Congress. So much for a real change, though.

I’m still voting Democratic this year, but it is always great to hear a fresh voice…especially one talking about personal freedom and responsibilities.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Israel, Syria talking peace

If you recall, Our Fearless Leader recently bashed Senator Obama for his highly controversial reality-based announcement that he would be willing to meet with the leaders of nations with whom we don’t necessarily agree. According to W., such a move is tantamount to Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Adolph Hitler in Munich in 1938. He made these ridiculous comments in front of a foreign (in fairness it was the Israeli) legislature. (In fact, the first draft of this post was titled “Godwin’s Law violation update.) Incidentally, talking to other world leaders is not the same as ceding half of another sovereign nation. Speaking of throwing someone under the bus….

Now we are learning that the Israelis have been negotiating with the Syrians for (if Al Jazzeera is to be believed) about a year. The main sticking point from the Israeli perspective is Syria’s barely veiled support of Hezbollah, the political party/army/terrorist group that has been one of the many thorns in the side of the Middle East’s only legitimate democracy. Granted, Hezbollah is dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel. The animosity goes back to the 1948 founding of Israel when Europeans unilaterally declared that sovereignty of Palestine would be transferred from the current occupants to the Jewish people. Here is a link to a powerful interview about the impact of this decision on the Palestinian people. It sounds an awful lot like land theft to me.

Regardless, this is how negotiations work. Both sides bring their extreme demands to the table and they concede on points until they come to a resolution. Perhaps Hezbollah would be more reasonable if Israel were to RETURN (not cede) the Golan Heights and Shebaa Farms to Syria and discuss the status of some Lebanese prisoners being held in Israel. That might just convince Syria to end their support for Hezbollah and stop the killings by both sides.

Currently, Turkey is coordinating the negotiations between Israel and Syria. All things considered, it would probably be for the best if the United States were to let our NATO ally take the lead on this.

Of course, W. and the other Neocons contend that such foreign policy liberalism is irrational and only realism works. It’s almost as if they want us to be constantly at war with someone. That’s good news for the defense industry. Not so good for people like this. But as we all know, negotiations never, ever, ever, ever, ever resolve anything. Err… never mind. Keeping in mind, too, that Bush and Co. negotiated on the Libya thing. Jest sayin’

It should go without saying that peace talks in this region seem to fail more often than they succeed, but a single failure is not a reason to give up entirely. Syria is the only state bordering Israel that has not yet signed a peace agreement. Hopefully, this is another major step to a true peace in the Holy Land. Also, here’s hoping we can get this worked out sometime before Jan. 20, 2009.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Let's (not) talk about the "S"word

I love California. On the same day, we have a (probably temporary) victory for equal rights in the state supreme court’s decision to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage. This is problematic because it actually benefits those who are insecure in their own sexuality those who find non-traditional sex so repulsive they want to put a stop to it legislatively.

The California Supreme Court actually overturned a voter sponsored referendum. If the sexually repressed socially conservative folks of California would like, they are welcome to vote for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. That’ll show ‘em. This country has a long and (dis)honorable history of keeping the minorities down. If they got the referendum passed, they have a pretty good shot at passing a constitutional amendment. That just might get the social conservatives to the polls this November which means…Uhhggg. Sigh. Trying not to think about it…

At least the Governator isn’t too concerned about making this an issue.

Anyway, leave it to California. On the same day, this issue *ahem* popped up. Some California lawmakers also want to spank the porn industry with a 25 percent tax, which will only encourage them to move elsewhere. I would certainly pull out.

As long as the topic is sex, here’s a little flashback. The military has been under fire (what an asinine media cliché, all things considered) for allowing the PX to sell, of all things, Playboy. This doesn’t add up. We are dealing with a two front war that is only half justified and the biggest problem the military is dealing with is whether or not an officer may purchase a nudie mag? Be happy that Playgirl is not the biggest seller at the PX. And believe it or not, a porn ban might actually HURT morale.

Imagine that.


Godwin's law violation

I really wish someone would fill Our Fearless Leader in on Godwin’s Law, which has been circulating on the Internets for a long time now. If you missed it, Our Fearless Leader decided that his best course of action would be to go before the Israeli Knesset on that country’s 60th anniversary celebration and use his time to engage in partisan politicking by likening Senator Obama to the Hitler appeasers. Check it out:

Ummm….Mr. President, you missed it, you made a pretty significant logical fallacy. You are equated negotiations with appeasement when they are not the same thing. Senator Obama proposes meeting with world leaders, friend and foe, to sort out our differences. You, Mr. President, seem to support continued conflict, which only helps the oil and defense industries, which you and your Little Friend are tied to. Ummm….

Anyway, there is a strategic advantage to knowing what the enemy wants to achieve. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that talks with Iran, North Korea and Palestine just might help. We are not proposing ceding Austria and Czechoslovakia. We are just interested in hearing the other side’s perspective.

Get a clue, Fearless Leader. Westerners are being targeted by terrorists. I would like to know some specifics regarding why we are being targeted. And, no. I am not referring to the tired “They hate us for our freedoms” line of crap.

Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what we see right here in this chamber -- a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.

And here, I thought Our Little Foe’s had a few other gripes about us as well. In fairness, you do have to take the good (ending discrimination against the Palestinians) with the bad (Shariah Law, destruction of Israel). I’ll just bet there’s a well-thought out solution to that one.

The point is, a mature state is one that is willing to listen to the concerns of other nations. It is childish, Mr. President, to continue to dismiss the very idea of diplomacy. That is why your presidency was a disaster. Likening your party's opposition as a Nazi sympathizer is really not helping your cause any. The most tragic possibility is that you are held personally responsible for destroying the Republican Party, making the United States a de facto one party state until the Right is able to reorganize.

I’m sorry Mr. President, but you just lost the whole argument via a violation of Godwin’s Law. Do us all a favor and take a few more months vacation just like you did before 9/11(Our Fearless Leader needed a full month of rest after a grueling 7ish months in office).


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Is she really going out with him?

I was for Mike Gravel before I was for Barack Obama. Now I'm back to undecided and it looks like Obama Girl is wavering, too. Check out Mike's lobbing effort to the folks at Barely Political. This video is probably not safe for work unless the boss has a good sense of humor.

I'm impressed that any politician is willing to learn the Soulja Boy Dance for a Youtube video. Maybe this will put Gravel in the driver's seat for the Libertarian nomination. The Liberations will nominate someone to run for president at their May 25 convention. Both the Libertarians and Democrats are meeting in Denver this year. The Democrats will need a little more room which means the Libertarians will go largely ignored by the media.

We media consumers are fortunate, though to have thorough coverage of this rapidly developing non-story from Fox "News" channel. Check it out:

Check out how Cavuto talks over Gravel on almost every statement. Notice how at the end, Cavuto won't even acknowledge Gravel's talk of possibly even *gasp* winning the election. Meanwhile, Cavuto does not interrupt Amber at any point in the clip. Regardless of the presentation, this important story is getting the coverage it deserves. *snark*

Gravel has had my support since it dawned on me that he was the guy who read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional record. At least he gets credit for helping to end one bad war. Unfortunately, he probably won't get a chance to help end the Iraq War.

Check out who wrote the forward. And yes, Citizen Nader is running for President again. My prediction: If Gravel secures the nomination, he will pull more support than Nader.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Clinton Factor

It’s been a while, but I am finally following up on my previous promise to post some thoughts about Hillary Clinton’s appearance on the O’Reilly nonFactor last week. I am going to dispense with a link, but a Youtube search for “Clinton O’Reilly” brings up the clips blessedly sans commercials. Look for parts 1-4

I did catch the first night of the interview, but I did not have enough beer to slog through the second night. I’m listening to the second night as I type this.

First off, I have to say that Hillary did as well as can be expected from anyone going up against this pushy loudmouth. I am not supporting her candidacy for the nomination, but I do not necessarily disagree with every point she makes. Other than a passing praise of Ronald Reagan, I think Hillary turned in a solid performance even as I was trying to figure out how to kick my own backside for increasing BillO’s ratings.

I also have to grudgingly concede that BillO and Hillary generally stuck to the issues. It was not a whole discussion about Obama and Rev. Wright. We heard about Iraq, taxes, immigration, and the economy.

On the other hand, I have a few problems with the interview itself. Here they are:

One: BillO was his usual charming self. Watch any episode of his show and observe how anyone even a little left of center gets talked over and interrupted. BillO seems more interested in lecturing his guests than in engaging in a serious debate. If the role of the media is to report the news, then it stands to reason that the interviewee should be doing the majority of the talking. He’s hardly the only television reporter to use this strategy, but his style particularly raises my hackles. The most egregious example was toward the end of this clip where the two are discussing immigration:

Props to Hillary for not allowing BillO talk over her too much. It was clear that the Senator’s goal of appearing on Fox “News” was to get her message to a certain audience. She was not there to be spoken down to; she is running for president.

Two: The people over at Fox did not seem all that apologetic about their obvious ploy for ratings. After Senator Obama made history headlines by appearing on Fox, Clinton made the similar headlines for her Factor appearance. This is called “earned media” and it means free publicity.

What did Fox do with all of that “good will” bestowed from all corners? Exploited it, of course. At the very beginning of the first night, BillO mentioned that he spoke with Clinton for about an hour. Even with leaving some portions of the interview on the cutting room floor (as happens in the media), an average viewer might expect to see the hour-long exclusive take up nearly the full hour of the Factor. Not so much.

The four Youtube clips average about seven minutes each, or 28 minutes total. Even with commercials, I am certain BillO could have somehow squeezed 28 minutes of substance into his hour-long Factor. He might have even had time to give us some of his Talking Points that pass for nuggets of wisdom. Instead, BillO went ahead and made the interview a two-part special. In addition to artificially boosting the ratings, BillO was able to show analysis from Dennis Miller. I had just eaten, so I did not check out that part of the broadcast.

Three: BillO, please STFU about the tax rates on your ridiculously high tax bracket. Seriously, they spent a good chunk of time discussing how much more a Clinton administration would raise taxes on the rich. So much for that whole populist thing.

And four: This critique is for the lefty blogoshere. Quit whining about giving legitimacy to Fox because Democrats appear on the channel. For one thing, Fox established its legitimacy a long time ago (for better or worse). The more we scream about it, the more the other media outlets obsess over Fox. For another thing, the Republicans are not avoiding the allegedly liberal MSNBC en mass. Reaching across party lines means sometimes sucking it up and going on Fox “News” channel.

By the way, according to the pundits this race is apparently over. Unsurprisingly, this will come down to the superdelegates and I had a few thoughts on that back in February.


h/t to American Girl to pointing out that Canada offers Fox “News” Channel as a premium channel. Hard to believe those folks actually have to pay extra for to get Right Wing Noise Machine propaganda.