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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Obama Camp Memo on Clinton Saying She “Misspoke”

TODAY on KDKA Pittsburgh radio: “You know I have written about this and described it in many different settings and I did misspeak the other day. This has been a very long campaign. Occasionally, I am a human being like everybody else. The military took great care of us. They were worried about taking a First Lady to a war zone and took some extra precautions and worried about all sorts of things. I have written about it in my book and talked about it on many other occasions and last week, you know, for the first time in 12 or so years I misspoke.” http://www.kdkaradio.com/pages/22441.php?contentType=34&contentId=592

Really? Below are four instances where Hillary Clinton misremembers sniper fire upon her arrival in Bosnia. (With some video of her reading her remarks.)

MARCH 17: Clinton: “There Was No Greeting Ceremony, And We Basically Were Told To Run To Our Cars. Now, That Is What Happened.” “Everyone else was told to sit on their bulletproof vests,” Clinton said. “And we came in, in an evasive maneuver….There was no greeting ceremony, and we basically were told to run to our cars. Now, that is what happened.” [CNN, 3/1708]

MARCH 17: Clinton, Speaking About Her Trip To Bosnia, Said “I Remember Landing Under Sniper Fire. There Was Supposed To Be Some Kind Of A Greeting Ceremony At The Airport, But Instead We Just Ran With Our Heads Down To Get Into Vehicles To Get To Our Base.” Clinton: “Good morning. I want to thank Secretary West for his years of service, not only as Secretary of the Army, but also to the Veteran’s Administration, to our men and women in uniform, to our country. I certainly do remember that trip to Bosnia, and as Togo said, there was a saying around the White House that if a place was too small, too poor, or too dangerous, the president couldn’t go, so send the First Lady. That’s where we went. I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base. But it was a moment of great pride for me to visit our troops, not only in our main base as Tuzla, but also at two outposts where they were serving in so many capacities to deactivate and remove landmines, to hunt and seek out those who had not complied with the Dayton Accords and put down their arms, and to build relationships with the people that might lead to a peace for them and their children.” [Clinton speech (remarks as delivered), 3/17/08]

FEBRUARY 29: Clinton Said That The Welcoming Ceremony In Bosnia “Had To Be Moved Inside Because Of Sniper Fire.” “At the rally, she belittled the idea that Mr. Obama’s 2002 speech ‘at an antiwar rally’ prepared him to serve as commander in chief. She said he was ‘missing in action’ on the recent Senate vote on Iran and as chairman of a subcommittee responsible for NATO policy in Afghanistan. Contrasting that with her own experience, she evoked foreign battlefields, recalling a trip to Bosnia as first lady, when the welcoming ceremony ‘had to be moved inside because of sniper fire.’ She said she had traveled to more than 80 countries and was ‘on the front lines’ as the United States made peace in Bosnia and Northern Ireland and helped save refugees from ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.” [NYT, 3/1/08 ] VIDEO

DECEMBER 29: Clinton That When She Went To Bosnia, “We Landed In One Of Those Corkscrew Landings And Ran Out Because They Said There Might Be Sniper Fire.” Clinton, in Dubuque, Iowa on December 29, 2007, said “I was so honored to be able to travel around the world representing our country. You know, going to places that often times were, you know, not necessarily a place that a president could go. We used to say in the White House that if a place was too dangerous, too small or too poor, send the first lady. So, I had the time of my life. I was the first, you know, high- profile American to go into Bosnia after the peace accords were signed because we wanted to show that the United States was 100 percent behind the agreement. We wanted to make it clear to the Bosnians of all backgrounds. Plus we wanted to thank our American military and our allies for a great job. So, we landed in one of those corkscrew landings and ran out because they said there might be sniper fire. I don’t remember anybody offering me tea on the tarmac. We got there and went to the base where our soldiers were and I went out to a lot of the forward operating bases to thank our young men and women in uniform and to thank the Europeans, including the Russians who were part of that effort.” [CNN, 1/1/08]

Original here

The Long Defeat

Hillary Clinton may not realize it yet, but she’s just endured one of the worst weeks of her campaign.

First, Barack Obama weathered the Rev. Jeremiah Wright affair without serious damage to his nomination prospects. Obama still holds a tiny lead among Democrats nationally in the Gallup tracking poll, just as he did before this whole affair blew up.

Second, Obama’s lawyers successfully prevented re-votes in Florida and Michigan. That means it would be virtually impossible for Clinton to take a lead in either elected delegates or total primary votes.

Third, as Noam Scheiber of The New Republic has reported, most superdelegates have accepted Nancy Pelosi’s judgment that the winner of the elected delegates should get the nomination. Instead of lining up behind Clinton, they’re drifting away. Her lead among them has shrunk by about 60 in the past month, according to Avi Zenilman of Politico.com.

In short, Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects continue to dim. The door is closing. Night is coming. The end, however, is not near.

Last week, an important Clinton adviser told Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen (also of Politico) that Clinton had no more than a 10 percent chance of getting the nomination. Now, she’s probably down to a 5 percent chance.

Five percent.

Let’s take a look at what she’s going to put her party through for the sake of that 5 percent chance: The Democratic Party is probably going to have to endure another three months of daily sniping. For another three months, we’ll have the Carvilles likening the Obamaites to Judas and former generals accusing Clintonites of McCarthyism. For three months, we’ll have the daily round of résumé padding and sulfurous conference calls. We’ll have campaign aides blurting “blue dress” and only-because-he’s-black references as they let slip their private contempt.

For three more months (maybe more!) the campaign will proceed along in its Verdun-like pattern. There will be a steady rifle fire of character assassination from the underlings, interrupted by the occasional firestorm of artillery when the contest touches upon race, gender or patriotism. The policy debates between the two have been long exhausted, so the only way to get the public really engaged is by poking some raw national wound.

For the sake of that 5 percent, this will be the sourest spring. About a fifth of Clinton and Obama supporters now say they wouldn’t vote for the other candidate in the general election. Meanwhile, on the other side, voters get an unobstructed view of the Republican nominee. John McCain’s approval ratings have soared 11 points. He is now viewed positively by 67 percent of Americans. A month ago, McCain was losing to Obama among independents by double digits in a general election matchup. Now McCain has a lead among this group.

For three more months, Clinton is likely to hurt Obama even more against McCain, without hurting him against herself. And all this is happening so she can preserve that 5 percent chance.

When you step back and think about it, she is amazing. She possesses the audacity of hopelessness.

Why does she go on like this? Does Clinton privately believe that Obama is so incompetent that only she can deliver the policies they both support? Is she simply selfish, and willing to put her party through agony for the sake of her slender chance? Are leading Democrats so narcissistic that they would create bitter stagnation even if they were granted one-party rule?

The better answer is that Clinton’s long rear-guard action is the logical extension of her relentlessly political life.

For nearly 20 years, she has been encased in the apparatus of political celebrity. Look at her schedule as first lady and ever since. Think of the thousands of staged events, the tens of thousands of times she has pretended to be delighted to see someone she doesn’t know, the hundreds of thousands times she has recited empty clichés and exhortatory banalities, the millions of photos she has posed for in which she is supposed to appear empathetic or tough, the billions of politically opportune half-truths that have bounced around her head.

No wonder the Clinton campaign feels impersonal. It’s like a machine for the production of politics. It plows ahead from event to event following its own iron logic. The only question is whether Clinton herself can step outside the apparatus long enough to turn it off and withdraw voluntarily or whether she will force the rest of her party to intervene and jam the gears.

If she does the former, she would surprise everybody with a display of self-sacrifice. Her campaign would cruise along at a lower register until North Carolina, then use that as an occasion to withdraw. If she does not, she would soldier on doggedly, taking down as many allies as necessary.

Original here

Abrams praises investigation of Limbaugh's Dem primary 'dirty tricks'

This month's primaries in Ohio and Texas resurrected Hillary Clinton from the political graveyard for the umpteenth time this election season.

Conservative talker Rush Limbaugh is taking credit for Clinton's continued presence in the race after encouraging Republican voters to switch parties before those two big states voted March 4, and he has called on Pennsylvania GOPers to do the same before their state votes April 22. Limbaugh's listeners are worried about an election fraud investigation, which could result in criminal charges for voters in at least one Ohio county.

MSNBC host Dan Abrams says the right-wing radio host's aim is "to subvert democracy and inject dirty tricks into the Democratic nomination process."

"I've said it before, I think it's un-American to encourage people to vote for a candidate they don't want to win, in order to corrupt the process," Abrams said. "But in Ohio, it may also be illegal."

He went on to discuss a probe in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, where Board of Elections officials are launching an investigation into crossover voters to determine whether any are guilty of election fraud, a felony. Results of the investigation will be released March 31.

It's unlikely that Limbaugh single-handedly swung the results to Clinton in either state, as was his stated intention. Clinton and her Democratic rival Barack Obama split Republicans in Ohio, and Obama won Texas Republicans, according to network exit polls.

In Ohio's Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, the Plain Dealer reported that a "staggering" 16,000 Republicans switched parties to vote in the March 4 Democratic primary. Some GOP voters openly acknowledged their intention to meddle with the opposing party, writing messages like "For one day only" on pledges voters are required to sign indicating they will support the party whose primary they are voting in.

As staggering as the Cuyahoga County figure seemed, exit polls suggest crossover voters may have been even more prevalent elsewhere in the state. Nearly 325,000 voters cast a ballot for either Obama or Clinton in the Cleveland area, so Republicans accounted for about 5 percent of the Democratic turnout. Statewide, Republicans made up about 9 percent of the Democratic primary electorate, according to the exit polls.

Obama has touted his support among independents and GOP voters -- so-called Obamacans -- and while some crossover voters told the PD they voted for Clinton to set up an easy target for John McCain in the fall, others said they thought Obama would be an easier opponent. Plenty of Republicans also voted Democratic out of heart-felt beliefs, to be sure, as the GOP struggles in what is expected to be a rocky election year.

In Pennsylvania, Obama's campaign was working hard to get supporters to switch their registration from independent or Republican to Democratic. He even ran a radio ad reminding those voters that Monday was the last day they could register as Democrats to vote in the April 22 primary. Meanwhile, Limbaugh also has said he has "operatives" registering Republicans as Democrats to vote for Clinton.

Between March 10 and 17, the most recent timeframe available, more than 14,000 new Democrats registered to vote in Pennsylvania and 29,000 voters switched their registration to the Democratic party, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Before Pennsylvania goes to the polls, the Cleveland, Ohio-area elections board will release the results of its investigation. Some ballots containt possible evidence of voter fraud, which in Ohio is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

"I'm looking for evidence," Sandy McNair, a Democratic member of the county's elections board tells the Plain Dealer. "I'm not interested in a witch hunt. But I am interested in holding people accountable, whether they're Democrat or Republican."

This video is from MSNBC's Verdict, broadcast March 24, 2008.


Original here

Clinton 'misspoke' about '96 Bosnia trip

WASHINGTON - Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign said she "misspoke" last week when saying she had landed under sniper fire during a trip to Bosnia as first lady in March 1996.

The Obama campaign suggested it was a deliberate exaggeration by Clinton, who often cites the goodwill trip with her daughter and several celebrities as an example of her foreign policy experience.

During a speech last Monday on Iraq, she said of the Bosnia trip: "I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."

According to an Associated Press story at the time, Clinton was placed under no extraordinary risks on that trip. And one of her companions, comedian Sinbad, told The Washington Post he has no recollection either of the threat or reality of gunfire.

When asked Monday about the New York senator's remarks about the trip, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson pointed to Clinton's written account of it in her book, "Living History," in which she described a shortened welcoming ceremony at Tuzla Air Base, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"Due to reports of snipers in the hills around the airstrip, we were forced to cut short an event on the tarmac with local children, though we did have time to meet them and their teachers and to learn how hard they had worked during the war to continue classes in any safe spot they could find," Clinton wrote.

"That is what she wrote in her book," Wolfson said. "That is what she has said many, many times and on one occasion she misspoke."

A spokesman for rival Barack Obama's campaign questioned whether Clinton misspoke, saying her comments came in what appeared to be prepared remarks for the Iraq speech. His campaign's statement included a link to the speech on Clinton's campaign Web site with her account of running to the cars. Clinton's campaign said what is on the Web site is not the prepared text, but a transcript of her remarks, including comments before the speech in which she talked about the trip to Bosnia.

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a written statement that Clinton's Bosnia story "joins a growing list of instances in which Senator Clinton has exaggerated her role in foreign and domestic policymaking."

The Obama campaign statement also links to a CBS News video of the Bosnia trip posted on YouTube, which shows Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, walking across the tarmac from a large cargo plane, smiling and waving, and stopping to shake hands with Bosnia's acting president and greet an 8-year-old girl.

"This is something that the Obama campaign wants to push 'cause they have nothing positive to say about their candidate," Wolfson said during Monday's conference call.

Clinton's written account contradicts her comments last Monday about the welcoming ceremony.

Just after the speech, Clinton reaffirmed the account of running from the plane to the cars when she was asked about it during a news conference. She said was moved into the cockpit of the C-17 cargo plane as they were flying into Tuzla Air Base.

"Everyone else was told to sit on their bulletproof vests," Clinton said. "And we came in, in an evasive maneuver. ... There was no greeting ceremony, and we basically were told to run to our cars. Now, that is what happened."

Former Army Secretary Togo West, who accompanied Clinton to Bosnia, said he was not surprised "that there could be confusion" when someone who has taken a number of trips tries to recall details of a particular trip 12 years earlier.

"The important thing is that she was there. Our soldiers saw she was there and heard her and knew that our country cared about them and what they were doing," West told the AP during a telephone interview.

Original here

Rush Limbaugh and Voter Fraud

Rush Limbaugh is not going to be prosecuted for this. Let me explain, but first the money quotes:

In case you missed it, Rush Limbaugh, the nation's top-rated talk radio host, was urging Republicans in Texas and Ohio to skip their party's primary on March 4 and instead cast a vote for Hillary Clinton in order to prolong the fight between her and Barack Obama. And that Tuesday, as media in both states reported, thousands of Republicans did just what Limbaugh and others had suggested -- they changed parties to vote for Clinton.

...

While this all makes for great talk radio and sounds like fun, there is one catch: What Limbaugh encouraged Republican voters to do in Ohio was a fifth-degree felony in that state, punishable with a $2,500 fine and six to 12 months in jail. That is because in order to change party affiliation in Ohio, voters have to fill out a form swearing allegiance to that party's principles "under penalty of election falsification."


This needs some clarification. What Limbaugh did was emphatically not a crime under the pertinent Ohio law. Voting under false pretenses might be a problem. But encouraging someone to vote under false pretenses would have to be an allegation of conspiracy or even a federal prosecution under RICO. (although election engineering does not appear to be a RICO activity).


To call this a stretch is a gross exaggeration. This is the longest of long shots. Any prosecution would have to delve into the state of Limbaughs mind and whether he thought that folks would actually do what he told them. And that without any power of coercion over them at all! Tough to convict.


Limbaugh won't be indicted. No prosecutor will touch it. All this is is one slow news day and a liberal wild fantasy. From Kim Zetter at Wired, it's highly unlikely that even the actual voters can be prosecuted:

First of all, the law pertains only to a voter who was challenged by poll workers as to his sincerity and signed an affidavit swearing to that sincerity. The secretary of state's office told me that poll workers are supposed to have anyone who switches parties at the polls sign such a statement. The Cleveland Plain Dealer also reported that any voter who switches parties must sign an affidavit...

...But even those who did sign a statement and did so disingenuously would likely not face prosecution, Tokaji says, unless they were blatant about what they did, such as bragging online about it, and could be identified.

Good luck with that.

Original here

Obama Girl Is Back, And She's Ready For That 3 A.M. Phone Call

Perhaps feeling threatened by the hotness of Bill Richardson's beard, Obama Girl is back with a brand-new video wherein she once again declares herself Barack Obama's most devoted fan wearing the least clothes. In this installment, O-Girl pleads with Hillary Clinton to stop the negative campaigning (because it is so totally all her) and join her and Obama in uniting the party.* Funnier moments: Table-dancing before Hillary in the diner where the Clintons shot that Sopranos spoof; comforting her in that infamous tear-up moment; importing Bill Clinton for a musical cameo; dancing with Obama on Ellen; being in a bikini, a pair of shortie-shorts and a negligee. Also, fairly wicked lyrics invoking powerful arguments from delegate math to Dukakis ("These attacks are insane/They just help John McCain"). Clearly, the fate of the Democratic party lies in her hands! Decide whether "her" refers to Hillary or Obama Girl and then exercise your democratic right to watch the video — at this point it's more like a civic duty, really.


Note that this is Obama Girls' first video since she was featured on Saturday Night Live. Also note that this is Obama Girl's first video since "It's Raining McCain" but we're guessing the two are not related. Also note her alpha-assertion of pride of place: She was there before Chris Matthews felt a thrill run up his leg, there before Bill Richardson cut his vacation short to come back and endorse, there before will.i.am and the gang sang that yes, they could. Obama Girl, pioneer!

Original here

Fear, Loathing & Delegate Poaching in Texas

poaching.jpg

This just in The Field’s mailbox, from a Texas Democrat (name of delegate removed):

Al,

(Name of Delegate) just got a robo call from Hiliary Clinton. After she stopped laughing, it dawned on her that they got her name from the delegate list from the caucus here, where she is listed as an Obama alternate delegate.

The call encouraged her to vote for Hillary at the Bexar County delegate convention.

She was wondering if its legal under party rules for Clinton to call delegates for Obama like that, particularly using a robo call.

Just curious, besides I figured you’d be interested to know the tactics underway…

Al replies:

Well, it’s legal to lobby delegates to the county and senate district conventions (they’ll be held on Saturday to select delegates to a later statewide convention, from which 67 Democratic National Convention delegates will be chosen), even if they signed up for a different candidate.

The question, however, isn’t a legalistic one, but, rather, a political one: when similar tactics came up in Nevada and elsewhere, the Clinton campaign denied it was trying to “poach” delegates committed to Obama.

When Politico’s Roger Simon reported on the Clinton campaign’s efforts to poach Obama delegates last month, Clinton spokesbot Phil Singer emphatically denied they would do any such thing:

“We have not, are not and will not pursue the pledged delegates of Barack Obama.”

I’m sure the robo-call machine was acting on its own, without any authorization from the campaign.

Update: Another reader got the same robo-call:

I got a robocall on my cell phone this afternoon. The only place I’ve put that number is on the sign-in sheet at my precinct convention. All about how she has so much experience & will be ready from Day One. Whatever. At the end of the call, I only got an option to press 1 if Hillary could count on my support, so I just hung up on her. And yes, while it’s true that nothing’s official until the sign-in at state, it was pretty much a waste of her money & my cell minutes, if you ask me.

Original here

The Clinton Campaign's New Math

clinton.jpg Unless something truly monumental produces lopsided victories for Hillary Clinton in the upcoming primaries, her chances for the Democratic nomination rely on superdelegates overturning the will of Democratic voters. Knowing this, her campaign has regularly identified criteria upon which the superdelegates might choose Clinton over Obama, some of which directly reflect the voters' intent (pledged delegate count, popular vote) and some of which are essentially judgment calls (electability, readiness). The campaign's problem is that the former criteria currently favor Obama and the latter don't lend themselves to a slam dunk consensus. In fact, they have so far been rejected by the majority of Democratic voters, who think electability and readiness are either better found in Obama or are trumped by Obama's ability to usher in change. If superdelegates were to cite Clinton's electability and readiness in order to coronate a nominee, it could drive voters out of the party.

But the Clinton campaign has found a new angle: imaginary electoral college votes. It is sending surrogates out to push the idea that superdelegates should vote for the candidate who would have come out ahead if the primaries were awarding electoral college votes instead of delegates.

This has a veneer of legitimacy because the campaign can say, "In the fall, the president is chosen through the electoral college. If you want to know who would make the best nominee, look at the electoral vote math." In fact, Clinton communications guru Howard Wolfson said almost exactly this to the New York Times.

Now, is this spin? Of course it is. The Clinton campaign will and has spit out any criteria it can think of that shifts the media narrative in its direction. It is losing the pledged delegate count, it is losing the popular vote, and it has lost more states. But it is in front when it comes to this notion of electoral college votes because it has won more big states. "It is our belief that at the end of the day, superdelegates will need to take into account a variety of factors," said spokesman Phil Singer on a conference call on Monday. "And that includes which candidate is going to be best able to accumulate the requisite 270 electoral votes."

The problem here is that these fictitious electoral college results have little, if any, connection to the electoral college results in the fall. Clinton won California in the primary, giving her bucketloads of these imaginary electoral college votes. (Because of how the Democratic Party awards delegates, the delegate results were relatively even in California. Electoral college votes are winner-take-all.) The same happened in New York. But Obama will win California and New York in the fall if he is the nominee. He's a Democrat. Winning California and New York in presidential elections is what Democrats do.

And then there's the fact that the winner of a state's Democratic primary is not necessarily the best Democrat to win that state in the fall. Clinton won the Democratic primary in New Mexico, where Kerry lost to Bush by one percent in 2004. The Democrats may need Obama's ability to appeal to independents and Republicans to turn New Mexico blue in the fall.

The question is, how will the media cover the Clinton campaign's latest ploy? In a Politico article recently, Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen made the point that a hard look at the delegate count shows that Clinton has "virtually no chance of winning" the nomination. But the media has a couple reasons for pretending like it does:

One reason is fear of embarrassment. In its zeal to avoid predictive reporting of the sort that embarrassed journalists in New Hampshire, the media — including Politico — have tended to avoid zeroing in on the tough math Clinton faces...
One important, if subliminal, reason is self-interest. Reporters and editors love a close race — it's more fun and it's good for business.
The media are also enamored of the almost mystical ability of the Clintons to work their way out of tight jams, as they have done for 16 years at the national level. That explains why some reporters are inclined to believe the Clinton campaign when it talks about how she's going to win on the third ballot at the Democratic National Convention in August.

I would add another reason: many in the media hold to a twisted form of objectivity. Instead of taking a hard look at the facts and stating them plainly, it gives equal space to both sides' arguments and spin. I'm guilty of some of this myself.

So the media can either: (1) ignore the Clinton campaign's new math; (2) report the campaign's new math, but explain the fallacy behind it; or (3) report the campaign's new math and pretend like its just part of the back-and-forth of a dogfight campaign that either candidate can win. The first two are clearly superior to the third, but it is the third that keeps Clinton viable. The fact that her campaign has realized that content-hungry 24-hour news outlets will report most of their spin as long as they keep producing it demonstrates that though they might not win this nomination fight, they'll never be beat on the media management front.

Original here

Battlestar Galactica Propaganda Posters


Do Your Part For Humanity

The Cylons were created by man. They rebelled. They evolved. They look and feel human. Some are programmed to think they are human. There are many copies. And they have a plan.

Imagine that you spend, all day, every frackin' day, in a metal tube hurtling pell-mell through outer space. You're doing everything you can do to just carve out a meager existence. An intractable enemy continuously nipping at your heels - one that looks and acts exactly like you do... It's a miracle you haven't gone crazy.

President Laura Roslin and her administration realized that morale was low. She had to figure out a way to keep the ever dwindling human population not only motivated but enthusiastic about continuing the battle against the Cylons. Taking a cue from history, she employed a little bit of psychological warfare. These posters might be called "propaganda" and "felgercarb" by some with a distinct lack of vision, but she would call them "inspirational." And what the hell is "felgercarb" anyway?!

A rolled set of 5 posters, 22" by 17" printed on heavy 100 pound satin-finish paper, each depicting a motivational phrase and inspirational graphic designed specifically to keep humans alive, wipe out toasters, and keeping our Vipers aloft.

So say we all.

Original here

Most Controversial Campaign Ads: No. 10

Welcome to the dark side, friends, where truth and illusion blend seamlessly in a battle for a power so vast that it seems you can get away with saying (or better yet, implying) anything. And though dirty tricks are certainly nothing new in politics, they seem to have hit their stride since the 1980s and just gathered steam into the new millennium. Anyway, without further ado, hail to the chief 10 most notorious presidential campaign commercials ever.
Hillary Answers the Phone
In the hard-fought battle for the 2008 Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton was faced with having to win the Ohio and Texas primaries, and the former First Lady pulled out this 'scare 'em where they sleep' commercial. The point was to imply that Barack Obama was inexperienced, though it seems rather odd to set the ad in some random sleeping family's house, and to then cut it to look like a horror movie. It was labeled by some as racist, misleading, stolen and even part of an offensive Clinton trend. Either way, Hill won Ohio, came close in Texas, and continued to fight another day. Did it turn the tide? We shall see.
Electoral College Says: The music from 'Patton' is a bit much, isn't it?

Original here

Iraq, $5,000 Per Second?

The Iraq war is now going better than expected, for a change. Most critics of the war, myself included, blew it: we didn’t anticipate the improvements in security that are partly the result of last year’s “surge.”


Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Nicholas D. Kristof


The improvement is real but fragile and limited. Here’s what it amounts to: We’ve cut our casualty rates to the unacceptable levels that plagued us back in 2005, and we still don’t have any exit plan for years to come — all for a bill that is accumulating at the rate of almost $5,000 every second!

More important, while casualties in Baghdad are down, we’re beginning to take losses in Florida and California. The United States seems to have slipped into recession; Americans are losing their homes, jobs and health insurance; banks are struggling — and the Iraq war appears to have aggravated all these domestic woes.

“The present economic mess is very much related to the Iraq war,” says Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist. “It was at least partially responsible for soaring oil prices. ...Moreover, money spent on Iraq did not stimulate the economy as much as the same dollars spent at home would have done. To cover up these weaknesses in the American economy, the Fed let forth a flood of liquidity; that, together with lax regulations, led to a housing bubble and a consumption boom.”

Not everyone agrees that the connection between Iraq and our economic hardships is so strong. Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International and author of a book on how America pays for wars, argues that the Iraq war is a negative for the economy but still only a minor factor in the present crisis.

“Is it a significant cause of the present downturn?” Mr. Hormats asked. “I’d say no, but could the money have been better utilized to strengthen our economy? The answer is yes.”

For all the disagreement, there appears to be at least a modest connection between spending in Iraq and the economic difficulties at home. So as we debate whether to bring our troops home, one central question should be whether Iraq is really the best place to invest $411 million every day in present spending alone.

I’ve argued that staying in Iraq indefinitely undermines our national security by empowering jihadis — just as we now know that our military presence in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s was, in fact, counterproductive by empowering Al Qaeda in its early days. On the other hand, supporters of the war argue that a withdrawal from Iraq would signal weakness and leave a vacuum that extremists would fill, and those are legitimate concerns.

But if you believe that staying in Iraq does more good than harm, you must answer the next question: Is that presence so valuable that it is worth undermining our economy?

Granted, the cost estimates are squishy and controversial, partly because the $12.5 billion a month that we’re now paying for Iraq is only a down payment. We’ll still be making disability payments to Iraq war veterans 50 years from now.

Professor Stiglitz calculates in a new book, written with Linda Bilmes of Harvard University, that the total costs, including the long-term bills we’re incurring, amount to about $25 billion a month. That’s $330 a month for a family of four.

A Congressional study by the Joint Economic Committee found that the sums spent on the Iraq war each day could enroll an additional 58,000 children in Head Start or give Pell Grants to 153,000 students to attend college. Or if we’re sure we want to invest in security, then a day’s Iraq spending would finance another 11,000 border patrol agents or 9,000 police officers.

Imagine the possibilities. We could hire more police and border patrol agents, expand Head Start and rehabilitate America’s image in the world by underwriting a global drive to slash maternal mortality, eradicate malaria and deworm every child in Africa.

All that would consume less than one month’s spending on the Iraq war.

Moreover, the Bush administration has financed this war in a way that undermines our national security — by borrowing. Forty percent of the increased debt will be held by China and other foreign countries.

“This is the first major war in American history where all the additional cost was paid for by borrowing,” Mr. Hormats notes. If the war backers believe that the Iraq war is so essential, then they should be willing to pay for it partly with taxes rather than charging it.

One way or another, now or later, we’ll have to pay the bill. Professor Stiglitz calculates that the eventual total cost of the war will be about $3 trillion. For a family of five like mine, that amounts to a bill of almost $50,000.

Original here


O’Donnell: 76 Percent Of Americans ‘Want A Candidate Who Has Policies Different Than President Bush’»

On NBC’s The Chris Matthews Show yesterday, Matthews and his guests discussed how Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) sounds “an awful lot like George Bush” when he talks about Iraq. At the beginning of the show, Matthews previewed the segment by asking, “Is it wise to tell voters he’s running for a third term of Bush’s war?”

To illustrate his point, Matthews aired footage of Bush and McCain making the same rhetorical arguments about Iraq this past Wednesday:

“If we were to allow our enemies to prevail in Iraq, the violence that is now declining would accelerate and Iraq would descend into chaos.”
– President Bush, 3/19/08

VERSUS

“I believe that if we set a date for withdrawal, you will see chaos and genocide in the region.”
– Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), 3/19/08

During the segment, NBC’s Norah O’Donnell said that McCain was “not smart to make himself sort of a G.I. Joe candidate” because “a whopping 76 percent, in our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, said they want a candidate who has policies different than President Bush.” “This country wants to move on from that,” said O’Donnell.

Watch it:

Speaking of McCain’s similarities to Bush on Iraq, the New York Times’s Elisabeth Bumiller said that Bush’s Iraq policy “is what he believes in.” Bumiller then added that McCain “knows that he has to talk about the economy,” but “sounds an awful lot like Bush when he talks about the economy.”

While Matthews, O’Donnell and Bumiller are right to note that McCain’s Iraq and economic policies do represent a third Bush term, those are not the only policy areas where McCain represents more of the same. McCain wants to continue Bush’s agenda on most issues.

Original here