Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sunday Talking Heads Preview

This Week with George Stephanopoulos
--Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pa., Clinton Backer
--Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Obama Backer
--Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., McCain Backer

Meet The Press with Tim Russert
--General Michael Hayden, Director, CIA

Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace
--Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.,
--Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., McCain Backer

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer
--Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., Obama Backer
--Mayor Michael Nutter, D-Philadelphia, Clinton Backer
--Joe Trippi, Political Strategist

'Gitmo No-Mo!'

A coalition of former US secretaries of state has called for the next president to close Guantanamo prison camp. The coalition consists of Colin Powell, Madeline, Albright, Henry Kissinger, James Baker III. and Warren Christopher. This is no ragtag coalition: combined, the five diplomats have served under Presidents Nixon, Ford, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II and were key architects of American foreign policy during the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Gulf Wars, the Balkan Wars, and the current Iraq War among others.

The former US diplomats seemed to have recognized the hopelessness of dealing with the Bush Administration and instead have focused their efforts on the future president, whoever it may be. The coalition has also called for the opening of diplomatic relations with Iran, a position that has been whole-heartedly endorsed by Sen. Obama, uniquely avoided by Sen. Clinton, and staunchly opposed by Sen. McCain (as well as the Bush Administration).

Personally, I have taken issue with many of policies of the last several decades pursued by the individual diplomats forming the coalition, but I find it quite humbling and encouraging to see the five come together and agree on two of the most pressing international relations issues facing our country today. Additionally, it is encouraging to envision the day when a new president can come in and start to right the wrongs (at least some of them) committed over the last 8 years.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Day In The Life ~ Saturday, March 29th

Obama continues his bus tour of Pennsylvania with some new local blood on board. Sen. Casey, who endorsed Obama yesterday, will campaign with the Illinois senator through the weekend. Bill has a couple of stops in Pennsylvania while Hillary campaigns right through Indiana and into Kentucky. McCain has a couple of down days this weekend before kicking off his "Service to America" tour next week.


-- 1:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Johnstown, PA

-- 10:00 am ET: Attends event with voters, Indianapolis, IN
-- 2:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, New Albany, IN
-- 4:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Louisville, KY
-- 8:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Madisonville, KY

-- 12:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Girardville, PA
-- 3:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Williamsport, PA

-- No public events scheduled

Ad Watch: Obama

Obama has a new ad out today that will be airing in Pennsylvania. The Clinton campaign is accusing the Obama camp of false advertising, alleging that Sen. Obama has taken money from both Exxon Mobil and Shell Oil contrary to the claims of the ad.

Casey for Obama

Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania came off the sidelines today for a surprise endorsement of Sen. Obama. Sen. Casey had previously pledged to stay neutral citing hopes of brokering the reconciliation between Clinton and Obama once the heated contest had come to a halt.

During Obama's scheduled Pittsburgh rally earlier today, Sen. Casey presented his case for Obama: “I believe in my heart that there is one person who’s uniquely qualified to lead us in that new direction and that is Barack Obama.”

“I really believe that in a time of danger around the world and in division here at home, Barack Obama can lead us, he can heal us, he can help rebuild America,” he said.

Sen. Casey called Clinton on Thursday night to notify her of his intentions to endorse Obama and noted Clinton was "very gracious" in her reception of the news.

The news is huge for Obama. He has been trailing Clinton by 10-15 point margins in Pennsylvania for some time now. Long ago, Clinton received the endorsement of Gov. Rendell who has campaigned vigorously for Clinton. Sen. Casey said he plans to get on board Obama's bus for 3 of the 6 days that Sen. Obama will be touring Pennsylvania.

Sen. Casey will be a strong counterweight to Gov. Rendell. It is unlikely he will be able to campaign as actively as Rendell, but Casey is very popular in the state of Pennsylvania, raking in 59% of the vote in his 2006 senate victory. It still seems unlikely that Obama will be able to pull off a win in the Keystone state, but Sen. Casey's endorsement is likely to help narrow the margin of victory for Clinton. Clinton's chances are fleeting and a narrow win in Pennsylvania should be considered a loss.

Meanwhile, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has called for Clinton to drop out. Sen. Leahy endorsed Obama in February and is fearful of the harm that a prolonged Democratic contest could cause to the Democrats chances to win come November. However, Clinton continues to declare she's in it for the long haul.

The NY Times has some color on Clinton's declaration to trudge on:

As she prepared to depart for two more campaign events in Indiana today, Mrs. Clinton was asked to comment on a remark Mr. Obama made while campaigning in Pennsylvania. He said the presidential race was akin to a good movie, which had lasted too long.

With a smile, she said simply: “I like long movies.”

Ad Watch: McCain

McCain released his first ad of the general election today. The ad will air in the key battle ground state of New Mexico. The ad's focus is on patriotism, which is implied to mean blindly supporting the continuation of the War in Iraq because to do otherwise would mean surrender and cowardice. Ek!

A Day In The Life ~ Friday, March 28th


-- 3:00 pm ET: Attends fund-raising event, Las Vegas, NV
-- 5:45 pm ET: Holds media availability, Las Vegas, NV

-- 11:oo am ET: Attends event with voters, Pittsburgh, PA
-- 5:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Greensburg, PA

-- 10:45 am ET: Attends event with voters, Mishawaka, IN
-- 12:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Hammond, IN
-- 5:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Fort Wayne, IN
-- 8:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Muncie, IN

-- 7:45 am ET: Attends event with voters, Greensboro, NC
-- 9:30 am ET: Attends event with voters, High Point, NC
-- 11:30 am ET: Attends event with voters, Salisbury, NC
-- 12:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Kannapolis, NC
-- 3:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Gastonia, NC
-- 5:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Hickory, NC
-- 8:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Asheville, NC

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Nader Analogy

She has been referred to as the spoiler by many, but the New York Times' Nicholas Kristoff is the first to make the direct comparison to Nader. Is Clinton the Nader of '08?

Read today's Kristoff column: Obama, Clinton -- and Echoes of Nader?

Clinton's Contradiction

Over the last few months, the Clinton camp has come to represent the height of hypocrisy. Typically, this involves Clinton or members of the campaign asserting one thing one day and than claiming the polar opposite several weeks (or days) later in the name of justice and with the motivation of political convenience.

The most glaring example is the Clinton camp shifting the definition of what constitutes a win, or as it has come to be known, the repeated 'moving of the goal posts.' However, when an already desperate campaign enters desperate times, it resorts to exceedingly desperate measures.

A cartel of Clintonistas recently wrote an assailing letter to the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi, the highest ranking Democrat in the land, has not endorsed Obama. However, several weeks ago, in an interview with George Stephanopoulos, Pelosi made it very clear that the candidate that wins the most pledged delegates will be the nominee. Such a scenario does not bode well for the Clinton camp which has already conceded the pledged delegate count to Sen. Obama (by Bill's own account).

The coalition of Clinton first asserts that such 'declarative statements disenfranchise voters in the remaining states:

We respect those voters and believe that they, like the voters in the states that have already participated, have a right to be heard. None of us should make declarative statements that diminish the importance of their voices and their votes.
However, they go on to say, it doesn't really matter how the remaining states vote because the superdelegates have the right to overturn the populace:
Super-delegates, like all delegates, have an obligation to make an informed, individual decision about whom to support and who would be the party’s strongest nominee. Both campaigns agree that at the end of the primary contests neither will have enough pledged delegates to secure the nomination. In that situation, super-delegates must look to not one criterion but to the full panoply of factors that will help them assess who will be the party’s strongest nominee in the general election.
Hmmmm... (Read the letter on Talking Points Memo)

The Clinton camp staffers (including Clinton herself) are making a very similar contradiction. The Florida re-vote has been off the table for two weeks now. Yesterday, a Michigan court ruled that the state could not legally release the necessary voter information for holding a re-vote to the Democratic party. The coffin has been nailed shut, yet Wolfson and Singer continue to accuse Obama of disenfranchising voters in both states; a ridiculous assertion.

Interestingly enough, while Wolfson and Singer play the role of Guardians of Democracy, Clinton pushes the idea that pledged delegates are not obligated to represent the actual vote count of the states. Even if it were within the power of the Obama camp (it's not) to push through re-votes in Michigan and Florida, Clinton is asserting that it doesn't matter what the voters say. She hopes that with a little power politics she can simply single out the individual pledged delegates headed to convention and convince them to completely disregard the voters from their respective home states.

Now who's disenfranchising the voters?

A Day In The Life ~ Thursday, March 27th

Obama attempts to demonstrate his understanding of 'Issue #1' with a speech on the economy in New York today. Clinton looks past Pennsylvania, making three stop stops in North Carolina while Bill takes her place in the Keystone State. McCain is still out west looking for the green frog skins as he slowly heads east making a stop in Utah and then Colorado.


-- 9:15 am ET: Delivers speech on the economy, New York, NY

-- 10:30 am ET: Delivers speech on the economy, Raleigh, NC
-- 2:00 pm ET: Attends town hall meeting with voters, Fayetteville, NC
-- 5:30 pm ET: Attends town hall meeting with voters, Winston-Salem, NC

-- 10:00 am ET: Attends event with voters, Pottstown, PA
-- 12:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Reading, PA
-- 3:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Carlisle, PA
-- 5:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Lewistown, PA
-- 8:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, State College, PA

-- 1:30 pm ET: Attends fundraiser with supporters, Salt Lake City, UT
-- 6:10 pm ET: Holds media availability, Denver, CO
-- 7:30 pm ET: Attends fundraiser with supporters, Denver, CO

At the White House and Beyond. . .

-- 10:15 am ET: Delivers statements on the Global War on Terror, Dayton, OH
-- 12:20 pm ET: Attends a Republican National Committee Victory Reception, Bellbrook, OH
-- 5:50 pm ET: Attends a Pennsylvania Victory Reception, Sewickley, PA

-- 8:30 am ET: Releases the fourth quarter report on the Gross Domestic Product, Washington, DC

-- 9:15 am ET: Meets with Guatemalan External Relations Minister Haroldo Rodas Melgar

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Frontline: Bush's War

It is my humble opinion that PBS is the station providing by far and away the best quality newscasts in all of US broadcast journalism today. . With that, I urge you to watch this powerful, informative, revealing, and gripping Frontline documentary, Bush's War.

Click the above image to view Bush's War.

Passport Production: Outsourced?!?!

As Capitol Hill continues to debate the Real ID Act, a real ID faces very serious security concerns. The Washington Times reports on the doubly whammy facing passport production.

The Times uncovered a US government contracted firm in Thailand that was raking in unjustified profits (in excess of $100 million), while also seriously jeopardizing US security and individual privacy. That's right, passport production is outsourced... to Thailand. The Government Printing Office, GPO, looks to a contractor in Thailand to produce an electronic microchip required, by Congress, in all US passports. The contractor admits some of its secrets were breached by the Chinese government.

In a press conference with reporters, State Department Spokesperson Sean McCormack noted that US law mandates that GPO be the sole source provider for passports and deferred most questions to GPO officials. However, McCormack did note that only two companies in the world have the capability to produce the e-chip required for passports, one is in Germany, and the other, in Thailand.

McCormack added, "The State Department does not have in-house secure facilities or machines to print passports." (But offshore companies in Thailand do?)

It seems peculiar to me. As Republicans in congress attempt to push through legislation to create a national ID citing 'security reasons,' US passport production is outsourced to Thailand?!?! A US passport is a far more valuable form of identification for an outsider seeking to harm the US than a state drivers license.

Lastly, McCormick noted that the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security audits the companies overseas for security, however, he wasn't able to say how they determine if something is secure citing security reasons. Ladies and gentlemen, the irony is maddening.

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US Admits Suez Canal Killing

Yesterday, a US government contracted Navy ship, the Global Patriot, sounded warning calls to a group of approaching motor boats in the Suez Canal. According to US accounts of the story, after sounding a the call to the approaching unidentified vessels, most of the boats turned away.

"One small boat continued to approach the ship and received two sets of warning shots 20-30 yards in front of the bow," according to the US embassy in Cairo.

Yesterday, the embassy initially denied reports that an Egyptian was killed in the exchange. However, the embassy underwent an about-face and now claims responsibility for the death of the Egyptian. BBC World reports that fisherman often "ply the waters of the canal trying to sell cigarettes and other local products to ships passing through." The Global Patriot was carrying cargo for the US military.

The Suez Canal is a crucial trade route and of the utmost geopolitical significance. According to BBC, "7.5% of world sea trade passes through the Suez Canal." Incidents of Al-Qaeda launching attacks on US vessels from small motor boats off the coast of Yemen have been reported in the past.

The incident is pending further investigation from the US and Egyptian officials.

Al Jazeera News and Abdel-Rahman Hussein of Daily New Egypt have more.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Day In The Life ~ Wednesday, March 26th

Obama is back on the campaign trail today, starting off light with one event in North Carolina. Bill continues to make his rounds in the post-April 22nd states with three stops in West Virginia. Hillary and Chelsea have one event scheduled for tonight in D.C., while McCain continues to campaign and fund raise in California.


-- 1:00 pm ET: Attends town hall meeting with voters, Greensboro, NC

-- 6:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters and Chelsea Clinton, Washington, DC

-- 10:00 am ET: Attends event with voters, Parkersburg, WV
-- 1:00 pm ET: Attends event with seniors, Chesapeake, WV
-- 3:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Beckley, WV

-- Delivers remarks to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Los Angeles, CA

At the White House and Beyond. . .

-- 10:00 am ET: Participates in U.S. Department of Defense Briefings, Washington, DC
-- 12:25 pm ET: Visits colorcraft of Virginia, Sterling, VA

-- 10:00 am ET: Releases the February report on new home sales, Washington, DC

Real ID Facing Real Roadblocks?

The Real ID Act of 2005 was hastily pushed through congress without any hearings and with many unresolved issues. The "anti-terrorism" law was designed to implement federal standards for state issued identifications, mainly driver's licenses. The act would require states to invest billions of dollars towards upgrading their current identification technologies. Like most bills in congress these days, the Real ID Act illuminated a partisan divide: strong support from the Republicans and fierce opposition from the Democrats.

However, the Democrats have a friend on the other side of the aisle that just may be able to provide the leverage the party is looking for. Several Republicans are following Sen. Lamar Alexander, D-Tenn., in his opposition to the bill. They criticize it as a massive unfunded mandate. According to The Hill, the program, scheduled to take effect in May, would cost an estimated $4 billion while "federal officials have appropriated only $60 million and distributed only $6 million" leaving the brunt of the burden on the states at a time when the economy is, for all practical purposes, in a recession (that's right, I said it).

Leading the opposition for the Democrats, hand-in-hand with Sen. Alexander, is Senate Majority Whip Dick Dubin, Illi. The two Senators agree, no matter how you feel about the merits of the bill, the costs are simply too high.

“The federal government shouldn’t be able to enforce the Real ID law unless the federal government pays for it,” Alexander told The Hill. “It wasn’t properly considered in the Senate, it creates a national ID card, and it’s a massive unfunded mandate.”

Added Durbin, “It’s a federal mandate which becomes very difficult to live up to, and very expensive.”

Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, notes that not a single state will meet the criteria set out in the Real ID Act by the May deadline.

Congress gave the Real ID Act life, and it has the power to bring the bill to its knees. Stay tuned as the story develops.

Assuming the program didn't place an unrealistic financial burden on the states (or the Fed for that matter), what realistic effect would the Real ID Act have in the way of thwarting future terrorist attacks? Are we to assume the terrorists of tomorrow are waiting for hours upon hours in line at the New Jersey DMV to acquire a flop ID that would somehow be essential to carrying out the next attack? Lastly, while the states lag behind, I suspect the Vegas street peddlers are ready to pump out fakes in droves (quality ones at that).

The Great Lull

I suspect I should have realized this earlier, but it really hit me hard today: we are in a real lull in the Democratic contest. The candidates have long ago exhausted the debate on the issues (with which they largely agree on) and with the same tired lines of attack emanating from both campaigns, we have nothing left to do but wait.

Like the rest of the political world, I had just finally settled in to the fast moving pace of the nomination process. The top of the lineup entailed 47 contests in just over two months (an average of over one contest for every two days). I had become complacent and nearly spoiled with the all the twists and turns around every corner (or weekends and Tuesdays I should say). Now, in nearly just as much time, we have nothing but Pennsylvania (let the thumb twiddling begin).

Many pundits and Democratic party leaders are calling for Hillary to throw in the towel. Fat chance. A quick glimpse at the schedule indicates there is no way we will see a wrap before May 6th, the night of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries.

While the hiatus entails boredom for the political junkie, it entails hardship for the image of the candidates and the Democratic party; that is a whole lot of time for the candidates to tarnish each others images in the most brutish of ways.

As one Democratic party official, who desired to retain their anonymity so as to speak candidly, put it, it is not a matter of whether or not Clinton can win, she can, but it is a matter of how? "Her securing the nomination is certainly possible - but it will require exercising the 'Tonya Harding option,'" says the anonymous Dem.

In an interview with his hometown Las Vegas Review Journal, Party elder and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada recently assured the press, the public, and more importantly, the party, that he was confident things would be resolved before convention (and he wasn't simply being hopeful):

Q: Do you still think the Democratic race can be resolved before the convention?

Reid: Easy.

Q: How is that?

Reid: It will be done.

Q: It just will?

Reid: Yep.

Q: Magically?

Reid: No, it will be done. I had a conversation with Governor Dean (Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean) today. Things are being done.

Even if Reid and Dean are able to devise a scheme to keep the battle from steamrolling into the convention (and I suspect they will), damage will be done. Less than halfway through the March 11th-April 22nd interim, we have already seen elbows fly and kitchen sinks thrown. Given the state of the economy, the War in Iraq, and the general animosity voters have developed for the Republican party, it is unlikely anything could doom the Democrats chances against McCain in November, but the party in-fighting does not help either.

Unless any serious issues arise, I will try to shift the focus of Once Told away from daily bickering of the campaigns and to more substantive issues. As always, I will continue to kick off the morning with the 'A Day in the Life' series and update with any new ads released by the campaigns.

Lastly, I leave you with some recommended reading. David Brooks of the New York Times provides an excellent summary on the current state of affairs in the Dem scrap fest in today's column, "The Long Defeat."

Ad Watch: Clinton

New Clinton ad released today. The ad will be airing state-wide in Pennsylvania and focuses on the economy.

Coverage on the Ground

Today's headlines and articles from Pennsylvania:

Violence in Basra ~ The Big Picture

Early this morning, violence broke out in the city of Basra, Iraq's third largest city, tucked away in the southeastern corner of the country. The rather historic city is of special strategic interest as it is considered by many to be the country's southern oil capital. Additionally, the sliver of land is of great geopolitical importance. With Iran and Kuwait as bookends, Basra serves as Iraq's one and only port to the Persian Gulf.

This morning's violence is significant for two reasons, one positive and one negative, respectively:

  1. The offensive was largely handled by Iraqi Security Forces
  2. Security forces clashed with the Mahdi Army militia in what the militia claims were unprovoked attacks.
The Mahdi Army militia is headed by shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The Bush Administration continues to assert the drop in violence seen in the last six months pays tribute to the success of the surge, but other components are at play. While American servicemen and women continue to provide their best, much of the success of the surge can be attributed to pay offs. US-Iraqi security forces and al-Sadr agreed to a cease-fire back in the fall of 2007. Al-Sadr has recieved large payouts from the American government as incentive to both enter into and maintain the cease fire.

Similarly, in an attempt to quell the violence in the more rural regions of Iraq, the Pentagon has provided large armaments and bundles of cash to the local Sunni tribal leaders in exchange for their continued policing of the more rural areas in Iraq.

As many will recall, the bloodiest months in Iraq between 2006 and 2007 were largely a result of the sectarian violence between opposing Shiite and Sunni factions. While the temporary solution of providing resources to the opposing groups in exchange for cease fire agreements has simmered the violence in recent months, the US is, in effect, holding its finger in the dam. And for the sake of our analogy, this morning's clash with divisions of the Mahdi Army has increased the water pressure.

Al-Sadr has assured the US-Iraqi forces that he will continue to honor the ceasefire, but there remain lingering doubts as to how long this 'duct tape' solution will hold.

Read more on this morning's offensive:

FOLLOW UP (11:47 am ET):

No surprise here. In response to the Iraqi security force offensive that took place before the sun was up, incidents of protest and violence have consumed Baghdad and Basra for much of the day. The NY Times has more HERE.

A Day In The Life ~ Tuesday, March 25th

Hillary stays focused on the upcoming Pennsylvania primary while Bill looks ahead to the May 20th contest in Kentucky. Obama is still down and McCain continues to rattle that money tree out in CA today with a series of private fundraising events after holding a roundtable discussion and media avail.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

--No public events scheduled


--12:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Santa Ana, CA
--2:00 pm ET: Holds media availability, Santa Ana, CA

--1:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Greensburg, PA


--10:30 am ET: Attends event with voters, Frankfort, KY
--12:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Paris, KY
--2:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Maysville, KY
--5:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Morehead, KY

At the White House and Beyond . . .

--10:40 am ET: Participates in photo op with 2008 Bassmaster Classic Champions, Oval Office
--11:10 am ET: Meets with the King of Bahrain, Oval Office
--3:25 pm ET: Speack at the celebration of Greek Independence Day, East Room
--6:45 pm ET: Attends a National Republican Senatorial Committee Reception, Private Residence, McLean, VA

--11:00 am ET: Visits Rolling Ridge Elementary School, Olathe, KS
--11:20 am ET: Speaks and presents the President's Volunteer Service Award to students, Olathe, KS
--12:25 pm ET: Attends Pat Roberts for Senate luncheon, Overland Park, KS

Monday, March 24, 2008

Swooping in Under Sniper Fire

This is likely a repeat for the blog savvy, but it's interesting to see this get picked up by CBS and the mainstream media.

Keep in mind, Hillary has spent the last month touting both her foreign policy experience and Obama's supposed fabrications from the stump.

"And that's how it happened."

Electability, Electability, Electability

With the FL and MI re-vote proposals in the can, Clinton has exhausted virtually all plausible paths to the nomination. The Clinton camp conceded the pledged delegate count a while ago. No FL and MI means no claim to the popular vote. So how does she convince the remaining undecided superdelegates who, in the end, will more than likely follow the path of least resistance (i.e. reaffirming the popular vote and pledged delegate count)?

Clinton's com team captains, Wolfson and Singer, have been pushing the issue of electability on a daily basis for upwards of two weeks now. Their hope is that they can make the case to superdelegates that it is a risky maneuver to send a candidate into the general who can not win key primary states, which they proceed to define as Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia (a bit of a gamble on their part including WV, a state that does not vote until May 13th, where the demographics don't necessarily play into the hands of either candidate and the well respected Sen. Rockefeller has already endorsed Sen. Obama).

However, as Matthew Dowd points out, success in a state's primary contest does not equate to success in November:

Dowd notes that despite the record turnout in this years Democratic nomination process, there is a stark disparity between the 30 million that have voted since January 3rd and the 130 million plus strong electorate that will vote in November.

However, the issues with the primary-general comparison do not end there:

I can recall in the 2000 presidential campaign, George Bush won Iowa in the primary, then lost it in November. He lost New Hampshire by more than 17 points in the primary, but then carried it in the general election providing his electoral margin of victory.

Typically, I am not a fan of Dowd's column's, but he offers a convincing argument in this case.

Nearly every public poll out in last two weeks show Clinton and Obama with equal strength against McCain.

This is the case even after two very bad weeks of press for Obama. My guess is after a few weeks of favorable coverage, Obama will again be at an advantage over Clinton looking towards November.

It gets better...

[The Clinton camp] might recall that as Bill Clinton was headed towards winning the nomination in 1992, his electability in the fall was seriously in doubt. He was more than 15 points behind President Bush in May and June of that year, and in many polls he was in third place behind Ross Perot and President Bush.

The Clinton's can continue to wallow in their own denial, but in the meantime we have seen that the old axiom "any press is good press" is not holding true; the longer this battle is draws out, the worse off the Democratic nominee will be ...not saying any names.

A Memorium ~ 4,000 Remembered

The following image is comprised of the faces of the 4,000 US service men and women that have died in Iraq to date.

Brought to us from Nico Pitney.

Also, take a second to look at the NY Times' 'Faces of the Dead'.

Once Told Book Series ~ Common Wealth

First book for review in the Once Told Book Series will be Jeffery Sachs' 'Common Wealth.'

My Sentiments Exactly

Maureen Dowd's got me pegged in her most recent NY Times column, Haunting Obama's Dreams.

Dowd writes:

It is a tribute to Hillary Clinton that even though, rationally, political soothsayers think she can no longer win, irrationally, they wonder how she will pull it off.

It’s impossible to imagine The Terminator, as a former aide calls her, giving up. Unless every circuit is out, she’ll regenerate enough to claw her way out of the grave, crawl through the Rezko Memorial Lawn and up Obama’s wall, hurl her torso into the house and brutally haunt his dreams.

“It’s like one of those movies where you think you know the end, but then you watch with your fingers over your eyes,” said one leading Democrat.

China's 'Other Tibet'

Once Told has two primary intentions:

  1. Bring those stories that you will not find in the mainstream media to the attention of ambitious readers.
  2. Examine those stories that are be being covered in the mainstream media from a 'big picture' perspective.
This post fulfills objective No. 1.

Per Al Jazeera News, China's 'Other Tibet'

And What of the Girl in Question?

I'm sure you all recall the "3 am" ad broadcast by the Clinton campaign in the run up to the March 4th contests in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Many Democrats were appauled with the ads use of 'fear mongering,' the likes of which they hadn't seen since the infamous red phone ad run by Walter Mondell in his 1984 run for the Democratic nomination.

Watch the ad as it ran in Texas and Ohio here:

Oddly enough, the girl who's safety is in question, Casey Knowles, doesn't trust Hillary to pick up the phone:

McCain's 'Gaffe'

Early last week, John McCain made a 'gaffe' at a stop in Jordan in which he proceeded to suggest that Shiite dominated Iran was supporting the predominantly Sunni Al-Qaeda. McCain fumbles the connection and quickly retracts his statement once reporters pounce on the crucial 'misspeak'.

Watch here:

Fox News correspondent Brit Hume dismissed the 'gaffe' as a 'senior moment':

However, the day after the presidential nominee retracted the Iran - al-Qaeda connection as a simple slip of the tongue, his foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann, is quoted in the NY Sun stating the following:

There is ample documentation that Iran has provided many different forms of support to Sunni extremists, including Al-Qaeda as well as Shi'ia extremists in Iraq. It would require a willing suspension of disbelief to deny Iran supports Al Qaeda in Iraq.

When asked about the connection between Al-Qaeda and Iran, senior military officials had very little evidence to support such a claim, stating, at best, "The supposition appears to be based on caches of Iranian made weapons found in areas where Al-Qaeda is known to operate."

This seems all too familiar...

Cheney on the Al-Qaeda - Iraq connection pre-invasion:

Bush took it a step further:

I find it quite scary that our potential president is suggesting the same false connections with regards to Iran that accelerated us into the absolute quagmire that is the War in Iraq. To make matters worse, the mainstream media is once again taking cues from politicians instead of fact checking politicians:

Mad Money ~ *cough* hack job! *cough*

The least fact checked man in media today. It's quite sad to think people actually take financial cues from a mere TV personality (this man has no idea what he is talking about!).

See for yourself. This episode of Mad Money aired several days before Bear Stearns officially tanked:

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Day In The Life ~ Monday, March 24th

Easter weekend was probably the most downtime Obama and Clinton will see until this scathing battle comes to a close. As Hillary refocuses attention on the April 22nd Pis still taking a load off in the Virgin Islands today and has no public events scheduled. McCain campaigns (and shakes the money tree) in California today and before kicking off a 'biographical tour' of the country through out the course of the week in which he will retrace the steps of his early years, revisiting any and all locales that the Senator once called 'home.'

Monday, March 24th

Hillary Clinton

-10:00 am ET: Delivers 'major policy address', Philadelphia, PA
-1:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Blue Bell, PA
-8:00 pm ET: Attends rally with voters, Uniontown, PA

Bill Clinton
-11:30 am ET: Attends event with voters, South Bend, IN
-12:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, South Bend, IN
-3:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Rochester, IN
-5:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Logansport, IN
-7:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, West Lafayette, IN

John McCain
-4:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Chula Vista, CA

Barack Obama
-No public events scheduled

GP: Japanese Protest US Millitary Base

Japan, a country with virtually no military (but the economic capacity to build one in a relatively short period of time) has allowed U.S. military bases ever since the end of WWII. Japan's constitution, drafted in 1947 under the strict supervision of the U.S., disallows Japan the right to establish a military. The current situation (Japan's reliance on the U.S.) gives the U.S. military a strategic regional port of operations in exchange for offering some form of defense for Japan.

However, incidents of marines 'acting out' (usually involving outbursts of physical violence and many cases of sexual assault over the years), has motivated many Japanese to demand the U.S. compounds be removed from Japanese soil. The U.S. military previously adopted earlier curfews and a policy that prevents soldiers from drinking outside the military compound in an attempt to impede such incidents, but to no avail.

However, the issue is not one sided. Many within the U.S. would like to see Japan establish it's own military to alleviate the strains on the U.S. military who's resources are currently spread very thin. Likewise, there are those in Japan that are thankful they do not have to worry about establishing a military and, instead, can focus the country's resources on other domestic programs.

Al Jazeera has the latest on today's protests in Japan.

See the incidents that provoked the protests as reported in the Japanese media:

From Mainichi Shimbun:

From Yomiuri Shimbun:
For a primer on Japan and its military, read:

What say you?

The Other Race(s): The Senate

Red = Republican incumbant
Maroon = Two Republican incumbants
Pink = Retiring Republican
Blue = Democratic incumbant
Grey = no election

With all eyes on the presidential election, it's easy to lose track of the upcoming battles for seats in the Senate and the House. I will first preview the Senate.

The preponderance of shades of red signifies that 2008 promises to be a good year for the Democrats. The Republicans face the difficult task of defending 23 seats at a time when the popularity of the party has diminished to its lowest point in the last decade. On the other side, the Democrats must defend a mere 12 seats.

Some of the contests promise to be no contest at all. The opposition party has virtually no chance of ousting the Senatorial heavyweights such as Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., or Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.

Key contests to watch:
  • The battle for retiring Sen. Wayne Allard's seat in Colorado.
  • Former Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen's attempt to oust standing Republican Sen. John Sununu in state that prides itself in it's independence and has slowly been sliding more Democratic in recent years.
  • Standing Democratic Sen. Mary Landreiu of Louisianna will face a fierce battle against State Treasurer (and recent Republican convert) John N. Kennedy. The displacement of many solidly Democratic voters in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina won't help Landreiu's chances.
  • With Sen. Pete Domenici's pending retirement due to health concerns (and a little scandal), Republican Reps. Heather Wilson (considered Domenici's protege) and Steve Pearce may have a difficult time defeating the very popular Democratic Rep. Tom Udall.

Other contests worth watching:

  • Alaska
  • Maine
  • Oregon
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi (at least one of the seats)
  • Virginia

Remember, a president is only as good as the legislation they pass and having a majority in the Senate (and the House) will be vitally important to achieving any legislative accomplishments.

Many pundits have hinted at the possibility of the Democrats picking up the super majority (60 seats) in the senate. Given a senate super majority, a likely majority in the house and possibly the presidency, the Democrats would be an unstoppable legislative force (at least until 2010).

Fact Check: Gov. Rendell

Gov. Rendell, D-Pa., (Clinton supporter) along with Gov. Richardson, D-N.M., (Obama supporter) appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace today. Chris Wallace proceeded to raise a very important question with Gov. Rendell. Take a look:

WALLACE: Governor Rendell, let me follow up on this question of the race. For all the talk about Reverend Wright and all the talk about Bill Richardson's endorsement, a lot of people think the really big news this week is the fact that Michigan is now following Florida in deciding not to hold a revote. Given all of that, isn't it impossible now for Clinton to beat Obama in the popular vote and the pledged delegates when all the voting is done in early June?

RENDELL: Well, sure. and again, it shows --

WALLACE: Sure, you're saying it's impossible.

RENDELL: It's very difficult, but it shows an inconsistency in the Obama campaign. First, they say the superdelegates should reflect the will of the people of their states. Well, we have Senator Kennedy and Senator Kerry saying they're going to vote for Obama even though Senator Clinton won by 13 points in Massachusetts.

In light of the fading prospect of revotes in FL and MI, it is all but impossible for Clinton to take the lead in the popular vote or the pledged delegates given Obama's rather significant lead and a short calender of remaining contests. Gov. Rendell proceeded to recite a common Clinton camp talking point: Obama claims superdelegtes should reaffirm the "will of the people," but what about Senators Kerry and Edwards (both Obama supporters from Mass., a state Clinton won)? Or Gov. Richardson for that matter (from New Mexico, also a state that Clinton won)?

The Clinton camp has often resorted to this talking point to suggest some sort of contradiction on the part of the Obama camp. But, be careful what you wish for:

If every decided superdelegate were to switch and support which ever candidate won their state, Clinton's lead in superdelegates would diminish significantly. If every superdelegate (decided and undecided) were to support the candidate that won their state, Obama would take the lead in superdelegates.

The talking point may look good on the surface, but the harsh reality is, the freedom of superdelegates to vote their conscious is a big boost for the Clinton camp.

Happy Easter Sunday!

Best of wishes to all on this beautiful Easter Sunday!

As a secular, I will not be attending any church service. That's right, I don't even attend service on Easter Sunday. (I never really understood the mass of people that strictly attend Easter and Christmas service, but never show up otherwise... why fake it?)

Anyway, I have some recommended reading for this Easter Sunday (especially for those who have a lack of faith in, well, faith). If Tony Perkins and John Hagee represent all that is wrong with religion today (and its fusion with politics), Rev. Jim Wallis is the other side of the coin. Having survived the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections and observing the weight that "values voters" carry, I had come to believe that religion is being used for all the wrong reasons and thus reaffirmed my "secular beliefs."

Rev. Jim Wallis is writer, political activist, and the founder/editor of Sojourners Magazine. He and I share a similar distaste for Religious Rights' fusion of religion with a strict political ideology, mainly a strict opposition to gay rights and abortion, above all.

In Rev. Wallis' most recent book, The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics In A Post-Religious Right America, he states the following:

The Religious Right did it wrong, allowing their religion to become too partisan, too narrow, and too ideological. They were used by politics and did plenty of using themselves -- using both people and issues to further their own agenda. But I believe their day is over, and we have now entered the post-Religious Right era. That's not just optimism, but a claim based on serious observation.

Some people believe the alternative to bad religion is secularism, but that's wrong, too. The answer to bad religion is better religion -- prophetic rather than partisan, broad and deep instead of narrow, and based on values as opposed to ideology.

The question is not whether faith and spiritual values will be applied to politics, but how? Can faith enter public life in ways that are respectful of democracy, pluralism, and diversity? Could spiritual renewal supply the energy that makes social justice more achievable? Is revival necessary for reform? I believe the answer to all those questions is an empathetic yes.

Rev. Wallis believes the Bible teaches us to offer a hand to our brothers and sisters and fight for social justice. But he does NOT interpret this to mean we should exhaust our strength in an attempt to terminate gay rights and abortion. He believes it means standing up for our brothers and sisters in Darfur, helping ensure that our neighbors right here in America have health care, and ending senseless wars, among other things.

Now, as I said at the beginning of the post, I am no Christian. But, isn't that what Jesus would do?