Saturday, April 5, 2008

Sunday Talking Heads Preview

Meet The Press with Tim Russert
--Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pa., Clinton Backer
--Sen. Casey, D-Pa., Obama Backer

This Week with George Stephanopoulos

--DNC Chairman Howard Dean, D-Vt.
--Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., McCain Backer
--Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.

Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace
--Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Obama Backer
--'Choosing Our President Series' with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer

--DNC Chairman Howard Dean, D-Vt.

Aftermath Kenya

The brutal violence that ensued for over two months in Kenya following the flawed December 27, 2007 election has come to a halt (at least for the meantime). However, the ills facing the country are more burdensome than ever. The country is broken on both the political and humanitarian front.

On February 28, the rival political parties brokered an arrangement to share power. The deal was applauded by the UN and regional leaders. However, the deal has turned run into roadblocks as the two rival parties, Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU) and Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), quarrel over key cabinet positions.

While the rather well-off leaders bicker over the cabinet seats, Kenyans are the ones who suffer the most. The violence that consumed the country through January and February has left over 1,000 dead and displaced more than 300,000. Over a month later, not much has changed; over 300,000 Kenyans remain homeless.

The humanitarian crisis is fueled by the political stalemate and the relatively low amount of international aid flowing into Kenya to help resettle the displaced populations. To make matters worse, as Kenyan's resettle, they have tended to do so along ethnic lines, making ethnic and political strife more likely in the future.

Al Jazeera News documents the progress that has been made and the road ahead in Kenya:

Mark Penn Stands for...

Chief strategist and pollster for the Clinton campaign, Mark Penn, met with Columbian officials yesterday to negotiate a free trade deal. The Columbian government hired Penn as chief executive of Burson-Marsteller to secure the passage of the free trade deal.

The only problem... Clinton is strongly opposed to the trade deal supported by the Columbian government and the Bush Administration. Were the story to get play in the mainstream media in Pennsylvania, it could be detrimental to Clinton who touts her opposition to NAFTA in the largely labor-dependent Keystone State despite the record telling a much different story.

The labor unions were up in arms upon hearing the news: "It is just outrageous, it raises questions about the kind of people that would surround her in a Clinton administration," said Greg Tarpinian, executive director of Change to Win, a coalition of seven labor unions that has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama. Mr. Tarpinian went on to call for Mr. Penn to quit the Clinton campaign, and said his group "would write to Sen. Clinton to request his dismissal."

Deputy Communications Director of the Clinton Camp, Phil Singer, went on to play the disassociation game: "She and Mark Penn have not discussed the deal, and Mark was not representing the campaign in the meeting."

Mr. Penn issued his apology Friday afternoon: "The meeting was an error in judgment that will not be repeated and I am sorry for it. The senator's well-known opposition to this trade deal is clear and was not discussed."

Sen. Clinton has not publicly commented on the meeting.

UPDATE (5:23 pm ET): Per CNN, the Colombian government severed ties with Clinton strategist Mark Penn and his public relations firm Saturday, unhappy Penn referred to a recent meeting with the Colombian ambassador as an "error in judgment."

"Mr. Mark Penn, President and CEO of Burson Marsteller, responded to claims by Union representatives who questioned his relationship with the Colombian Government by declaring that it was an 'error in judgment' to meet with his client the Colombian Ambassador on March 31. The Colombian government considers this a lack of respect to Colombians, and finds this response unacceptable," a statement from the Colombian embassy said.

Ad Watch: McCain

McCain has a new web ad out today to coincide with the last day of his biographical tour ending in Arizona.

A Day In The Life ~ Saturday, April 5th

-- 12:00 pm ET: Attends rally with voters, Missoula, MT
-- 8:40 pm ET: Speaks at Mansfield-Metcalf Dinner, Butte, MT


-- 12:30 pm ET: Attends town hall meeting with voters, Hillsboro, OR
-- 4:30 pm ET: Attends town hall meeting with voters, Eugene, OR
-- 11:45 pm ET: Speaks at Mansfield-Metcalf Dinner, Butte, MT

-- Attends summit on the issues of globalization, climate change, and poverty, London, UK

-- 1:00 pm ET: Delivers speech to voters at event, Prescott, AZ

At the White House and Beyond. . .

-- 3:40 am ET: Meets with the Prime Minister of Croatia, Zagreb, Croatia
-- 4:40 am ET: Delivers remarks, Zagreb, Croatia
-- 5:50 am ET: Photo opportunity with NATO invitees, Zagreb, Croatia
-- 6:05 am ET: Attends working luncheon with NATO invitees, Zagreb, Croatia

-- 12:00 pm ET: Attends social dinner with President Putin of Russia, Sochi, Russia

Friday, April 4, 2008

25 Years Later: McCain's 'Sorry'

25 years ago, Sen. McCain (simply Rep. McCain at the time) voted against proposed legislation to observe a MLK Holiday. 25 years later, on the 40th anniversary of King's assasination, speaking from Memphis, McCain apologized for his 1983 vote.

What compelled McCain to go to Memphis and make amends?

"Because we were invited," McCain said. "Because I was invited to attend. So we accepted the invitation. That’s, that’s all."

Oh, what sincerity! After 25 years and only when he has secured the nomination and is invited to Memphis does McCain decide to apologize. How politically genuine.

But, how does McCain explain the fact that he voted against the holiday to begin with?
"Well. I voted in my first, I think it was my first year in Congress, against that," McCain said. "Then I began to learn. And I studied and people talked to me, and I not only supported it, but I fought very hard in my home state of Arizona for recognition against a governor who was of my own party…"

"Began to learn"???
"I learned all that this individual was a transcendent figure in American history," McCain said. "He deserved to be honored. And I...thought it was appropriate to do so. And my home state of Arizona, I was not proud that we were one of the last states to recognize Dr. King’s birthday as a holiday. I was pleased to be part of the fight for that recognition."

And, exactly how is it that an American politician in 1983 (15 years after King's assasination) could be so out of touch with the impact that King had on society?

"I had not really been involved in the issue," McCain said. "I just had not had a lot of experience in the issue."

McCain was never going to receive more than 5% of the black vote anyway, but King's legacy extends to all of society, not just the black community. Clearly, this something McCain did not (and still doesn't?) understand.

As for McCain's decision to graciously accept the invitation to Memphis, he may have some regrets.

See how the crowd received McCain:

(And, as Will Thomas points out, the image of a black man holding an umbrella over McCain's head while he gave the speech didn't exactly complement the moment.)

81%: Nation Headed in Wrong Direction

A New York Times/CBS poll out today states that 81% of the US citizens believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction. To put the number in perspective, in 2007 the figure was at 69%. In 2002, it was at 35%.

The record low reflects American discontent with the War in Iraq coupled with the ills brought about by the receding economy. This is why the Democrats should be unbeatable in November. If the Dems cannot successfully capitalize on pegging McCain (who supports Bush's tax cuts, admits the economy is not his cup of tea, and plans on pursuing the exact same Iraq strategy) to a third Bush term, it would be a monumental failure.

However, let us not forget the old adage: "Never underestimate the ability of a Democrat to lose."

A Day In The Life ~ Friday, April 4th


-- 11:00 am ET: Attends town hall meeting with voters, Fort Wayne, IN
-- 6:30 pm ET: Addresses the North Dakota Democratic-NPL State Convention, Grand Forks, ND


-- 12:00 pm ET: Attends event for the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memphis, TN
-- 8:45 pm ET: Addresses the North Dakota Democratic-NPL State Convention, Grand Forks, ND


-- 8:30 am ET: Attends event with voters, Pembroke, NC
-- 10:15 am ET: Attends event with voters, Laurinburg, NC
-- 1:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Monroe, NC
-- 3:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Charlotte, NC


-- 12:00 pm ET: Delivers remarks to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Memphis, TN
-- 2:00 pm ET: Holds media availability, Memphis, TN
-- 2:45 pm ET: Places a remembrance wreath, Memphis, TN

At the White House and Beyond. . .


-- 1:50 am ET: Attends a summit meeting of the NATO Ukraine Commission, Bucharest, Romania
-- 4:00 am ET: Attends summit meeting of the NATO Russia Council, Bucharest, Romania
-- 6:15 am ET: Meets with the Prime Minister of Romania, Bucharest, Romania
-- 12:25 pm ET: Participates in arrival ceremony, Zagreb, Croatia
-- 12:40 pm ET: Meets with the President of Croatia, Zagreb, Croatia
-- 1:50 pm ET: Attends social dinner with the President of Croatia, Zagreb, Croatia


-- 8:30 am ET: Releases the unemployment report for March, Washington, DC

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ad Watch: Clinton

Clinton has a new 60 sec TV spot that will be airing in North Carolina (her first in the Tar Heel State). The ad focuses on the economy and attempts to present Clinton in a personal setting.

Ad Watch: Obama

Obama has a new 30 second TV spot that will be airing in Pennsylvania titled, "For Decades." The ad focuses on breaking the influence of lobbyists and keeping jobs in America. Speaking from a closed steel plant, Obama hones in on his PA audience.

Mad Money (and Donors)

The Official Press Release from the Obama camp today: Senator Barack Obama’s campaign announced today that more than 442,000 contributors across the country gave more than $40 million in March. More than 218,000 donors contributed to the campaign for the first time, and the average contribution level was $96.

“Senator Obama has always said that this campaign would rise or fall on the willingness of the American people to become partners in an effort to change our politics and start a new chapter in our history,” campaign manager David Plouffe said.

“Today we’re seeing the American people’s extraordinary desire to change Washington, as tens of thousands of new contributors joined the more than a million Americans who have already taken ownership of this campaign for change. Many of our contributors are volunteering for the campaign, making our campaign the largest grassroots army in recent political history.”

Dr. King Jr: The Prophet

The Nation highlights the relevancy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s memorable 1967 anti-war sermon. Once again Washington has failed to learn from history. King's wisdom lives on:

"....This confused war has played havoc with our domestic destinies, despite feeble protestations to the contrary. And promises of Great Society have been shut down on the battlefields of Vietnam in pursuit of this widened war which has narrowed domestic welfare programs, making the poor white and Negro bear the heaviest burdens at the front and at home. While the anti-poverty program is cautiously initiated, zealously supervised and evaluated for immediate results, billions are liberally expended for this ill-considered war. Recently revealed mis-estimates of the war budget amount to $10 billion for the single year. This error alone is more than five times the amount committed to antipoverty programs. The security we profess to seek in foreign adventures we will lose in our decaying cities. The bombs in Vietnam explode at home. They destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America. If we reversed investments and gave the armed forces the anti-poverty budget, the generals could be forgiven if they walked off the battlefield in disgust."

"....At this moment in history, it is irrefutable that our world prestige is pathetically frail. Our war policy excites pronounced contempt and aversion virtually everywhere. Even when some national governments, for reasons of economic and diplomatic interest do not condemn us, their people in surprising measure have made clear they do not share the official policy. We are isolated in our false values. In a world demanding social and economic justice, we must undergo a vigorous reordering of our national priorities.."

" All of this reveals that our nation has not yet used its vast resources of power to end the long night of poverty, racism, and man's inhumanity to man. Enlarged power means enlarged peril. That is not concomitant growth of the soul. Genuine power is the right use of strength. If our nation's strength is not used responsibly and with restraint, it will be following Lord Acton's dictum, power that tends to corrupt and power that corrupts, an absolute power that corrupts absolutely. Our arrogance can be our doom. It can bring the curtains down on our national drama. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. We are challenged in these turbulent days to use our power to speed up the day when every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough places plain."

"I do not wish to minimize the complexity of the problems that need to be faced in achieving disarmament and peace. But I think it is a fact that we shall not have the will, the courage, and the insight to deal with such matters unless in this field we are prepared to undergo a spiritual and mental reevaluation, a change of focus which will enable us to see that the things which seem most real and powerful are, indeed, now unreal and have come under the sentence of death. We need to make a supreme effort to generate the readiness, indeed, the eagerness, to enter into the new world which is now possible. We will not build a peaceful world by following a negative path. It is not enough to say 'We must not wage war.' It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but on the positive affirmation of peace....In short, we must shift the arms race into a peace race"

"...Let me say, finally, that I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against it not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world. I speak out against this war because I am disappointed with America, and there can be no great disappointment when there is no great love. I am disappointed with our failure to deal positively and forthrightly with the triple evils of racism, extreme materialism and militarism..."

"Those of us who love peace must organize as effectively as the war hawks. As they spread the propaganda of war, we must spread the propaganda of peace. We must combine the fervor of the civil rights movement with the peace movement. We must demonstrate, teach and preach until the very foundations of our nation are shaken. We must work unceasingly to lift this nation that we love to a higher destiny, to a new plateau of compassion, to a more noble expression of humaneness."

"...There is an element of urgency in our re-directing American power. We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now....."

The Dwell Time Amendment

Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., has spent much of the last year trying to push through a 'dwell time' amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act "requiring that active-duty troops and units have at least equal time at home as the length of their previous tour overseas." We have broken the backs of our troops by sending them on fourth and fifth tours. The amendment would simply give troops the equivalent time in leave as service abroad. Currently, troops serve 15 months for every 12 months at home. For Spc. Jason Shaw, who joined the army at age 17 (and is now 22), the current National Defense Authorization Act required Shaw to spend 27 out of the last 48 months, or 4 years, in Iraq. McCain opposes the amendment on the grounds that it infringes upon the powers of the executive.

Sen. Webb understands the stresses facing our troops as good as anyone in Washington; Webb is the only Senator with a son serving in Iraq.

Nearly a year after proposing the amendment, Webb is still fighting:

Sen. Webb based his 2006 candidacy for the Senate on the issue of Iraq. When Sen. Webb pulled off the upset win over Sen. George Allen, R-Va., he "declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump." Eventually, the president caught up with Sen. Webb in what would be a most memorable exchange. The confrontation went like this:

"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

Ad Watch: McCain

McCain released a new web ad titled "Sacrifice" Thursday morning.

The ad is 3-minute dramatization of 'glory and patriotism.' It focuses on the theme of sacrificing for 'the cause.' What is the cause Sen. McCain? Perhaps you could take a moment to explain it to our troops on fourth and fifth tours who continue to sacrifice and serve, but cannot not see any good stemming from our continued presence. With no end in sight, the troops and the American people alike deserve an explanation our concrete goals are for Iraq. Define victory. What is success? What are we sacrificing for?

A Day In The Life ~ Thursday, April 3rd


-- 11:00 pm ET: Attends fundraising event with voters, Beverly Hills, CA

-- 2:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Altoona, PA
-- 6:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Pikeville, KY


-- 8:45 am ET: Delivers speech to voters at event, Jacksonville, FL


-- No public events scheduled. Down in Chicago, IL

At the White House and Beyond. . .


-- 1:30 am ET: Attends North Atlantic Council Summit, Bucharest, Romania
-- 4:35 am ET: Attends North Atlantic Council Summit Meeting, Bucharest, Romania
-- 6:15 am ET: Attends NATO Summit Meeting on Afghanistan, Bucharest, Romania
-- 12:45 pm ET: Attends NATO Cultural Event with the First Lady, Bucharest, Romania
-- 2:00 pm ET: Attends NATO Gala Dinner with the First Lady, Bucharest, Romania

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ad Watch: Clinton

Here is the ad McCain parodied (apologies regarding the order of the posts - Clinton's ad did come out first).

Not sure why Clinton is sticking with the 3am theme. The happier voice, cheerful music, and economic slant soften the blow, but it is interesting that she would remind people of the ad that caused so much controversy. It may be effective with voters, but it doesn't seem that the 3am theme will persuade the superdelegates (who seem to matter more than the voters everyday).

Ad Watch: McCain

This one is humorous on multiple fronts:

  1. The ad is completely devoid of any substantive support for how McCain will "grow jobs" and "grow our economy."
  2. Clinton and Obama want to undo the Bush tax cuts, which would raise taxes on the highest income decile; not average Joe and Sue.
  3. The economy will suffer from our endured occupation of Iraq; not higher corporate taxes.
  4. McCain admits himself: "The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well a I should."


Frontline: Bad Voodoo's War

Frontline goes to War in Iraq with a band of California-based National Guard soldiers who call themselves the "Bad Voodoo Platoon" to tell their very personal story in Bad Voodoo's War.

Another highly recommended production from Frontline. Watch Bad Voodoo's War HERE.

Ickes Pushes Rev. Wright Issue with Super D's

Immediately following the Rev. Wright media frenzy, curiosity brewed over how the Clinton camp would respond. Clinton has avoided the issue for the most part. With a little prodding from the press, Clinton stated, "He would not have been my pastor."

While Clinton pledged to stay focused on the issues, pundits speculated that the Clinton camp would push the Rev. Wright issue behind closed doors with the superdelegates. Yesterday, Greg Sargent of Talking Points Memo was able to confirm those suspicions:

In an interview with me this morning, senior Hillary adviser Harold Ickes confirmed that Reverend Jeremiah Wright is a key topic in discussions with uncommitted super-delegates over whether Obama is electable in a general election.


"Look what the Republicans did to a genuine war hero," Ickes said, in a reference to John Kerry.

"Super delegates have to take into account the strengths and weakness of both candidates and decide who would make the strongest candidate against what will undoubtedly be ferocious Republican attacks," Ickes continued. "I've had super delegates tell me that the Wright issue is a real issue for them."

Harold Ickes has taken the lead in courting the superdelegates for the Clinton camp. In early February, Ickes led a spin campaign in an effort to tone down the elitist connotation superdelegates. In a private conference call with Clinton supporters on Feb. 10, Ickes told the supporters use the term "automatic delegates" instead. To Ickes dismay, the term never caught on anywhere.

'Impossible to Find A Purpose In What We Do'

The Atlantic's Matthew Yglesias flagged a powerful e-mail from an anonymous junior officer that is currently serving in Iraq.

In my opinion, what everyone fails to realize is that this is not a counterinsurgency. If we wanted to stay in Iraq, then it would be a counterinsurgency. But it is clear that our goal is to turn over power and pull out. So, in building our strategic endstate, it's pointless to set goals that relate to our presence in Iraq. If the "insurgency" is a function of our being there, then it is not an insurgency in terms of our endstate. For example, if one of our goals is to stop IED attacks on US forces, that is pointless. When we leave, there will be no more IED attacks on us forces. So our endstate needs to be different. We need to ask "if we left tomorrow, what would happen in Iraq?" and from there, we need to determine which of those anticipated results are unacceptable to us. Then we must aim our efforts on making sure those unacceptable results do not occur.

When I look at the problem that way, it becomes almost impossible to find a purpose in what we do.

Read the letter in its entirety HERE.

The officer touches on the single most important critique of the War looking forward: the war is self perpetuating. I will not argue that violence will not ensure upon withdrawal, but it is impossible for the war to come to an end as long as our troops are there. At this point, even the most prominent proponents for the war cannot offer a concrete definition of "success" in Iraq.

Yglesias adds:

Policymakers in Washington some time ago shifted to a crazy equilibrium where continuing the war became the war's own rationale.

Our troops had to stay in Iraq and risk their lives in order to kill the people who were trying to kill them to force them out of Iraq -- we couldn't leave until all the people who wanted us to leave were dead.

From that point, the quality of the strategic thinking involved has only declined.

It's not that peace would suddenly break out if we left, but peace is certain to never break out as long as we stay.

Zimbabwean Re-vote

Today, the state-run newspaper, The Herald, reports that neither candidate, Mugabe or Tsvangirai, received the 50% majority threshold, thus forcing a run-off election. However, The Herald did not report the actual vote count.

The story reeks of corruption. The New York Times reports on the suspect maneuvering or Mugabe's inner circle:

Earlier this week, with unofficial results showing Mr. Mugabe behind, close advisers to the president were split about whether he should concede or force a second vote, according to a Western diplomat with knowledge of the talks. Members in Mr. Mugabe’s inner circle were said to be in talks with Mr. Tsvangirai.

A Zimbabwean businessman with close links to the ruling party, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the nation’s military and intelligence chiefs discussed several options with the president after the vote appeared to go badly. These included the outright rigging of the election, going to a runoff and even the “elimination” of Mr. Tsvangirai.

While it is unlikely a new leader would be able to fix the woes of the worst economic collapse any country has seen in centuries, an honest Democratic election would go a long way to instill some feeling of hope in Zimbabweans (at least those that remain).

A Day In The Life ~ Wednesday, April 2nd


-- 9:00 am ET: Attends 38th Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention, Philadelphia, PA
-- 12:20 pm ET: Attends town hall meeting with voters, Wallingford, PA
-- 5:00 pm ET: Appears on the MSNBC Hardball College Tour


-- 2:15 pm ET: Attends rally with Teresa Heinz Kerry and voters, Pittsburgh, PA

-- 9:15 am ET: Tours Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, Pittsburgh, PA
-- 11:00 am ET: Hosts an economic summit, Pittsburgh, PA
-- 1:30 pm ET: Holds policy briefing with campaign policy advisers via telephone

-- 9:00 am ET: Attends event with voters, Columbus, IN
-- 10:45 am ET: Attends event with voters, Seymour, IN
-- 12:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Bedford, IN
-- 2:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Bloomington, IN

-- 9:00 am ET: Delivers speech to voters at event, Annapolis, MD
-- 4:45 pm ET: Delivers speech to voters at event, Pensacola, FL

At the White House and Beyond. . .

-- 1:50 am ET: Delivers speech at the National Bank of Savings, Bucharest, Romania
-- 4:55 am ET: Meets with the President of Romania, Neptun, Romania
-- 6:25 am ET: Holds joint media availability with the President of Romania, Neptun, Romania
-- 9:15 am ET: Meets with the NATO Secretary General, Buchare

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Richardson ~ Loyalty to My Country

Former presidential candidate and recent Obama supporter Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post today. The article, titled Loyalty to My Country, is aimed at ending the "politics of personal attacks and insults" and directly addresses the attacks waged by James Carville.

Read it HERE:

Loyalty to My Country

By Bill Richardson
Tuesday, April 1, 2008; 10:29 AM

My recent endorsement of Barack Obama for president has been the subject of much discussion and consternation -- particularly among supporters of Hillary Clinton.

Led by political commentator James Carville, who makes a living by being confrontational and provocative, Clinton supporters have speculated about events surrounding this endorsement and engaged in personal attacks and insults.

While I certainly will not stoop to the low level of Mr. Carville, I feel compelled to defend myself against character assassination and baseless allegations.

Carville has made it very clear that this is a personal attack -- driven by his own sense of what constitutes loyalty. It is this kind of political venom that I anticipated from certain Clinton supporters and I campaigned against in my own run for president.

I repeatedly urged Democrats to stop attacking each other personally and even offered a DNC resolution calling for a positive campaign based on the issues. I was evenhanded in my efforts. In fact, my intervention in a debate during a particularly heated exchange was seen by numerous commentators as an attempt to defend Sen. Clinton against the barbs of Sens. Obama and John Edwards.

As I have pointed out many times, and most pointedly when I endorsed Sen. Obama, the campaign has been too negative, and we Democrats need to calm the rhetoric and personal attacks so we can come together as a party to defeat the Republicans.

More than anything, to repair the damage done at home and abroad, we must unite as a country. I endorsed Sen. Obama because I believe he has the judgment, temperament and background to bridge our divisions as a nation and make America strong at home and respected in the world again.

This was a difficult, even painful, decision. My affection and respect for the Clintons run deep. I do indeed owe President Clinton for the extraordinary opportunities he gave me to serve him and this country. And nobody worked harder for him or served him more loyally, during some very difficult times, than I did.

Carville and others say that I owe President Clinton's wife my endorsement because he gave me two jobs. Would someone who worked for Carville then owe his wife, Mary Matalin, similar loyalty in her professional pursuits? Do the people now attacking me recall that I ran for president, albeit unsuccessfully, against Sen. Clinton? Was that also an act of disloyalty?

And while I was truly torn for weeks about this decision, and seriously contemplated endorsing Sen. Clinton, I never told anyone, including President Clinton, that I would do so. Those who say I did are misinformed or worse.

As for Mr. Carville's assertions that I did not return President Clinton's calls: I was on vacation in Antigua with my wife for a week and did not receive notice of any calls from the president. I, of course, called Sen. Clinton prior to my endorsement of Sen. Obama. It was a difficult and heated discussion, the details of which I will not share here.

I do not believe that the truth will keep Carville and others from attacking me. I can only say that we need to move on from the politics of personal insult and attacks. That era, personified by Carville and his ilk, has passed and I believe we must end the rancor and partisanship that has mired Washington in gridlock. In my view, Sen. Obama represents our best hope of replacing division with unity. That is why, out of loyalty to my country, I endorse him for president.

The First Day by Ahmad Fadam

The New York Times published this first person account of the Iraq War. Ahmad Fadam is an Iraqi employee of The New York Times.

Since the invasion, I haven’t left Iraq for more than a month.

So I can say that I have seen it all. And I can still remember the day when the American troops reached Baghdad. I remember it just like if it was yesterday.

I’m 42, from an educated family. I myself have a Ph.D. in art. I am a sculptor. During all my life, I and my family didn’t have anything to do with the government. We knew that there is a thin red line between us and the government; if we don’t cross it or get near it, then we are fine.

I live now in the family home in western Baghdad. I have three brothers; two live with me and the third lives in Saidiya, in southwest Baghdad.

It used to take me no more than 10 minutes to get to Saidiya, it is not that far. When the war started, we figured that if the American troops reached Baghdad, it was going to be from the southwest, from Saidiya, along the airport road.

I advised my brother that he should send his family to my neighborhood in case something happened. He did, but he stayed behind. He said that he wanted to see what would happen, and if he could, he wanted to take part in defending Baghdad against the invaders.

This is how most people were thinking back then; about their city, and their country. But others thought that they shouldn’t fight, because they hate Saddam and thought that if they fight, then they will be defending him. Some said that it is a fight between Saddam and Bush and we don’t want to be part of it

After three days, I started to get worried about my brother. There was no electricity, no phones and of course no mobiles. I didn’t know what to do.

So I decided to go to Saidiya.

His wife and children insisted on coming with me to look for their father. My wife and my younger brother said they must come too.

So now, we were two men, two women and two young children in the car, and that is how the journey started.

On the way to Saidiya we drove through a suburb called Yarmuq. There I saw a pickup truck, run over by a tank. I managed to tell the color of the truck — white — but there was nothing else to tell. It was crushed like a tin can. I don’t know if there was anyone inside it. It was terrifying because it was the first time for us to see such a thing. And it meant a battle had happened here.

Who crushed the truck? The Iraqis? Or maybe the Americans? Everyone in the car was surprised of what they saw. It was shocking. And I thought, Oh my God, this means that the Americans are already in Baghdad, so I started driving carefully.

In another neighborhood called Qadisiya, I saw Iraqi armored personnel carriers, brand new, just left there in the street. I didn’t know what happened to the soldiers — were they all dead, or had they just fled?

When I reached the Jadriya Bridge to Saidiya, there was a big surprise waiting: an American tank, an Ibrahim [Abrams].

It was the first time for me to see an American tank. I stopped, and started thinking fast. What if the gunner decided to aim at me?? With women and children in the car, I must not do anything wrong that might excite him. I should back up slowly and get the hell out of here.

The women, and as usual, were trying to give me instructions of what to do. “Oh Ahmad, be careful, he may see us, don’t go forward, turn around…” and they kept talking and shouting.

But I wasn’t listening.

A little later, I saw people waving for me to slow down. I asked them what was going on. They told me that minutes ago, an American tank fired a shell against a civilian car and killed a couple who were in it. I had to change my destination.

The women were freaked out and so was I. But I had to calm them down in order to think of what to do. It was just like seeing an action movie, or to be more accurate, living it.

I was driving but without thinking, I was in shock. A few minutes later, I passed the same place where I saw the Iraqi armored carriers but this time they were burned. What is happening???

I decided then to take another route to get to my brother, so I drove to another neighborhood, Amil. It is also to the west. Everything was calm there, and I managed to reach Saidiya. There was another horrible scene waiting for us.

I started seeing Iraqi Army trucks burned, and bodies lying in the streets. Weapons were everywhere, blood, human flesh… It was a nightmare.

The women started to cry and so did the kids, and I was just driving and driving without saying a word.

We finally got to my brother’s house and he was there He started describing to me how everyone was shocked seeing the American tanks coming into Baghdad, and how the tanks started firing at anything that moved in front in them, no matter what it was, even if it was a car with civilians in it.

It was a horrible day for everyone. Nobody has seen such firepower before. He told me about this Iraqi soldier who jumped in front of the American tank trying to aim his R.P.G. at it, but he was killed when the tank fired a cannon shell at him.

My brother was telling me how he started collecting the flesh of that soldier, and cried: “It was total madness — Ahmad, in a matter of minutes, everything was burned and everyone was dead. I still cannot believe what happened.”

When I first saw that crushed pickup truck, in a way I was happy. I was happy that the Americans are finally here and they are going to save us from Saddam, but after a few hours, and after all the death I saw, I started wondering whether saving us from Saddam was a good idea, because we weren’t expecting such a thing, and I know that using violence in Iraq does not generate anything else but more violence.

It has been five years since that day and the violence is still on. And I don’t know if it ever will stop.

It is worth noting that this is coming from a well-off Iraqi who has not lost close family. Imagine the perspective on the war for the millions of Iraqi's who lost someone they loved as a result of the violence?

In general, the US is very detached from the horros of the war. These first-person accounts really help put the horrors of the war into perspective.

Rendell: Fox Provides Best Primary Coverage

Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pa., is Clinton's most significant supporter in Pennsylvania. Rendell has said a lot of "interesting" things since the focus of the race turned to Pennsylvania, but his praise for Fox News is this case is just bizarre.

Clinton's Got Jokes

Clinton injected a little bit of humor into the race on April Fools Day. No, she didn't pretend to concede the race; no one would believe that for a moment. Instead, Clinton challenged Obama to a winner-take-all bowling match (managing to slide a couple talking points in to the joke as well):

I want to take a moment to say that this has been a very hard fought race. Each of us is drawing enormous support we clearly need to do something so our party and people can make the right decision. So I have a proposal today. I am challenging senator Obama to a bowl-off. A bowling night. Right here in Pennsylvania. Winner-take-all. I'll even spot him two frames. It's time for his campaign to get out of the gutter and allow all of the pins to be counted. I am prepared to play this game all the way until the 10th frame. When this game is over, the American people will know when that phone rings at 3am they will have a president who is ready to bowl on day one. So lets strike a deal and go bowling for delegates. We don’t have a moment to spare because it's already April Fools Day – so Happy April Fools Day.

See the motivation for Clinton's challenge here:

McCain's Rev. Wright(s)

(McCain,left, with Parsley, right, at a Feb. campaign event)

While the media frenzy over Sen. Obama's pastor, Rev. Wright, continues for a fourth week, McCain gets a free ride.

McCain began actively seeking the endorsement of key figures on the religious right once he assumed the "presumptive nominee" label. The "maverick" was on thin ice with many "true-blue conservatives."

The first of such questionable endorsements came from John Hagee. Hagee has referred to the Roman Catholic Church as "the great whore" and called it a "false cult system." He has also linked the Catholic Church to Adolf Hitler. McCain stood side-by-side with Hagee on Feb. 27, 2008 and gladly embraced the endorsement.

When pressed about Hagee's controversial views at a future press conference, McCain attempted to distance himself from Hagee's views, "It's simply not accurate to say that because someone endorses me that I therefore embrace their views."

However, Catholic League President Phil Donohue saw a double standard in how the press covered, and subsequently did not pressure McCain to denounce the endorsement, relative to Farrakhan's endorsement of Obama. "Senator Obama has repudiated the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan, another bigot," Donohue said. "McCain should follow suit and retract his embrace of Hagee."

The issue simply fizzled away for McCain.

Round 2: McCain receives the endorsement of Rod Parsley, pastor at an Ohio mega-church.

McCain refers to Rod Parsley as a "spiritual guide." Similar to the Hagee endorsement, McCain stood side by side with Parsley in late-February and gleefully received the endorsement of the controversial pastor.

PBS's Bill Moyers has had his eye on Rod Parsley for several years now, referring to him as the new incarnation of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.

What is all the fuss with Parsley? The Columbia Journalism Review sheds light on the extreme bigotry preached by Parsley:

Parsley has called for Christians to wage war against the “false religion” of Islam, in order to destroy it. He does not distinguish between Islamic extremists and ordinary Muslims. “What some call ‘extremists’ are instead mainstream believers who are drawing from the well at the very heart of Islam,” he has written.

And it’s not just Muslims he’s got it in for. Last year, Parsley’s organization called for people who commit adultery to be prosecuted, and in January he compared Planned Parenthood to the Nazis.

As an avid reader of the news, I was shocked that I did not learn about Parsley or McCain embracing his endorsement until today when I found the story on Al Jazeera News based out of Doha, Qatar.

Given the our country's current global standing, I find it appalling that the media has chosen to ignore Parsley's endorsement of McCain (the inflammatory remarks pertaining to all of Islam are much more damaging to the image of our country). It shows a complete double standard with respect to the coverage that Rev. Wright has received.

I do not believe that Obama or McCain share the extreme views of either pastor. However, it is purely unprofessional journalism that has led to Obama getting lambasted for the comments made by Rev. Wright while McCain receives a free ride upon embracing the endorsement of a pastor that has declared war on all of Islam.

Ad Watch: McCain

Sen. McCain has a new ad out today, titled "American Heros." The ad will air on national news programs and the internet.

The ad keeps with the theme of McCain's biographical tour this week. In doing so, it completely avoids mentioning any of the pressing issues facing our country. As the Democrats continue to mud sling, McCain hopes to capitalize on portraying himself as a "man of character, honesty, and integrity." Also, it is not the best time for him to fall back on his "the surge is working" rhetoric.

American Heroes:

A Day In The Life ~ Tuesday, April 1st

Happy April Fools Day!


-- 11:45 am ET: Attends event with voters, Wilkes-Barre, PA
-- 3:25 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Scranton, PA

-- 9:30 am ET: Attends event with voters, Philadelphia, PA
-- 11:15 am ET: Attends event with voters, Philadelphia, PA
-- 2:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Wilkes-Barre, PA
-- 7:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Erie, PA

-- 11:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Havre, MT
-- 3:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Great Falls, MT
-- 5:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Helena, MT
-- 7:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Butte, MT

-- 10:15 am ET: Attends event with voters, Alexandria, VA

Monday, March 31, 2008

Financial Woes for Hillary

The self-acclaimed "Steward of the Economy" has passed no such test. In fact, Hillary has demonstrated she lacks the ability to manage the micro-economy that is her own 2008 campaign. Politico's Kenneth Vogel has the details on the growing heap of Clinton IOUs.

Ever since the beginning of February, the Clinton campaign has acknowledge the dominant prowess of the Obama fund-raising machine. However, in a desperate attempt to compete financially, the Clinton camp has amassed an aggregate debt exceeding $8.7 million.

Two different Ohio production companies contracted by the Clinton camp "are warning others in the tight-knit event production community — and anyone else who will listen — to get their cash upfront when doing business with her. Her campaign, say representatives of the two companies, has stopped returning phone calls and e-mails seeking payment of outstanding invoices." The Clinton camp owes the two companies a combined total of $25,000.

Among the most ironic of the debts are the unpaid bills for health insurance. Despite making health care the focal point of her campaign, Sen. Clinton reported $292,000 in unpaid health insurance premiums for her campaign staff.

Spokesperson for the Clinton campaign, Jay Carson assured reporters that all Clinton staffers, their children, and spouses continue to receive coverage despite the unpaid bills. However, some of the unpaid health insurance bills (such as the $213,000 owed to Aetna Healthcare) are two months outstanding.

Regulation Consolidation Abomination

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (left) released the much anticipated 218-page "Blueprint for Regulatory Reform" today.

The reform was reactionary measure taken by the US Department of the Treasury in light of the economic crisis that has consumed the US economy over the last half year (and more specifically, the collapse of Bear Stearns). However, regulation reform will not affect our current crisis; it is a preventative measure taken to safeguard against future crises.

Simply put, the plan consolidates five various federal regulatory bodies into a more cohesive institution with universal oversight. Bloomberg News calls the proposed blueprint, "the broadest overhaul of U.S. financial regulation since the Great Depression." However, economist Paul Krugman of the New York Times likens the rearrangement of the Fed's regulatory institutions to the "Dilbert Strategy" in which, in "order to hide [management's] lack of any actual ideas about what to do, managers sometimes make a big show of rearranging the boxes and lines that say who reports to whom."

The proposed plan does not expand the regulatory function of the Fed; it simply consolidates it. This assumes the current foreclosure crisis and subsequent Bear Stearns buy out could have been avoided had the warning signs not "slipped through the cracks." However, the proposed arrangement of regulatory institutions will not provide the "crack sealant" necessary to stop future crises at their on-set.

Despite that Paulson's proposed blueprint may be "the broadest overhaul of U.S. financial regulation since the Great Depression," it does not go far enough. At this current moment in time as well as plan put forth in the blueprint, the Fed is only allowed to regulate deposit-taking banks. In response to the Great Depression, the necessity for the Fed to insure deposit-taking banks was universally understood. In return, the Fed justly acquired a regulatory function of the institutions they would be insuring i.e. the banks.

Flash forward 79 years from 1929 to today: the financial superstar of Wall Street, Bear Stearns goes down in flames as a result of shady and risky lending. Who comes to the rescue? The Fed. While we have not established a FDIC for "investment banks/securities trading and brokerage firms" such as Bear Stearns, the Fed sent a clear signal to all analogous firms: "We will be there for you when times are rough."

Let me be clear, I believe it was a mistake to bail out Bear Stearns to begin with. However, what's done is done, and the super firms of Wall Street took notice.

If the Fed is going to insure Bear Stearns and the like, the Fed should have the same regulatory capabilities it has over the smaller deposit-taking banks it insures. The greatest overhaul since the Great Depression was gravely depressing. The Fed must take bold steps if it truly desires to prevent future crises. A rearrangement of regulatory institutions won't fool anyone; we need an expansion of Fed oversight and regulation.

Zimbabwe On Edge

The opposition has claimed victory in Zimbabwe's Saturday elections, but the actual vote tally continues to trickle in at a nerve-wreckingly slow rate. Many in the opposition MDC party (Movement for Democratic Change) have expressed (warranted) fears of a rigged election. Many see the trickling results as a sign that Mugabe is plotting how to steal the election. Robert Mugabe has been president of the country since 1987 and has been know to rule with an iron fist (this is not the first time that we have seen serious suspicions of Mugabe rigging an election).

While a win for the opposition would be a breathe of fresh air for many in Zimbabwe, cleaning up the crisis the country currently faces cannot merely be resolved with new leadership (no matter how good it is). Zimbabwe faces a most extreme case of hyperinflation (roughly 100,000% per year) and an 80% unemployment rate. For those that have money, they are forced to carry around bricks of cash in order to purchase the most basic of commodities.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission promised
results from Saturday's election would be available this morning at 6am. However, the promise has not been upheld thus far.

The South Africa Mail & Guardian reports that riot police have taken to the street in the capitol as the state-run Herald newspaper accuses the MDC of "preparing its supporters to engage in violence by pre-empting results, claiming they had won."

Despite Mugabe's brutal tenure, it is still possible that he could win the election (even without engaging in illegal activity). Roughly 3.5 million of Zimbabwe's 13 million strong population have risked their lives fleeing the country, primarily for South Africa, within the last year. The vast majority of those fleeing the country are in the opposition. The MDC attempted to reverse the diaspora, but, for many, the only thing more dangerous than illegally fleeing the country would be coming back.

Ad Watch: McCain

McCain has a new ad out today that will be airing on national news programs and various websites. The ad is titled, "Character Forged by Family."

A Day In The Life ~ Monday, March 31st

I apologize for the relative inaction on Once Told over the course of the last several days. But, after a great weekend with the family, it is back to me, my modem, and more frequent and interesting posts (...I hope).

Obama and Hillary both have a pair of events in Pennsylvania today. Bill continues to campaign harder than any of the candidates with 4 stops in Oregon and McCain kicks off his "Service to America Tour" in Mississippi.


-- 10:00 am ET: Attends event with voters, Lancaster, PA
-- 5:50 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Allentown, PA

-- 2:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Harrisburg, PA
-- 7:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Fairless Hills, PA

-- 12:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Portland, OR
-- 2:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Portland, OR
-- 4:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Salem, OR
-- 8:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Bend, OR

-- 9:45 am ET: Attends event with voters, Meridian, MS

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The 'Real' Wire

A week ago I started watching The Wire. Only 6 episodes into Season One, I can already see that HBO has done it again. The show meets and exceeds all expectations. But, the influence of the show went beyond my own entertainment. Being in D.C., I was curious to know if my neighbor, Baltimore, was being unjustly dramatized in the transfer to the idiot box. It didn't take long to discover that Baltimore faces all of the very serious issues exemplified by the show.

If I wasn't convinced already (and I was), I came upon a great documentary by Al Jazeera News showing the real drama that consumes Baltimore. The series is a two part series and highly recommended for concerned citizens and fans of the show alike. The series is titled "Frontline USA - Baltimore's Stories" (not to be confused with PBS's Frontline). The documentary interviews inner city youth activists and ex-cop, ex-teacher, author, and co-creator and producer of The Wire, Ed Burns.



A Day In The Life ~ Sunday, March 30th

Obama continues to trek across Pennsylvania, while Bill Clinton travels up the west coast. Hillary and McCain have this Sunday off.


-- 1:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, University Park, PA
-- Attends event with voters, Harrisonburg, PA

-- 1:30 pm ET: Addresses the California State Democratic Convention, San Jose, CA
-- 7:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Medford, OR

-- No public events scheduled

-- No public events scheduled