Saturday, May 3, 2008

Light at the End of the Tunnel

As we dwindle through the last month of contests, Sen. Obama is getting closer and closer to securing the nomination. Here's a quick look at the numbers:

Contests – Obama 30, Clinton 15 (Guam pending)

Total Delegates – Obama 1747, Clinton 1608

Pledged delegates Obama needs for a majority – 134

Total delegates Obama needs for the nomination – 277

Ad Watch: Obama

Sen. Obama makes his "closing argument" to the voters of North Carolina and Indiana in two new 2-minute ads (Note: the ads are vitrually the same with minor tweaks making each ad specific to Indiana and North Carolina).

"Minute" (airing in Indiana)

"Minute" (airing in North Carolina)

Ad Watch: Clinton

Another gas tax holiday ad from the Clinton campaign. While every economist has acknowledged the gas tax holiday as negligent, irresponsible, and ineffective, perhaps Sen. Clinton's focus groups reveal the political merits to the flagrant pandering of voters.

Guam Results

With 11 of Guam's 21 precincts reporting, Sen. Obama has a 6 point margin over Sen. Clinton, 54% - 46%.

Get updates by the minute HERE.

'A Classic Military-Political Dilemma'

The Israeli government has seen great success in reducing suicide bombings over the last year. The drop off in bombings allows the Israeli leadership the necessary domestic political breathing room to engage in serious diplomatic talks with Palestinian leadership. However, the Israeli government finds itself in a military- political pickle.

The New York Times' Isabel Kershner illustrates the diplomatic catch-22 facing Israeli leadership:

It is a classic military-political dilemma. The progress in stopping suicide bombers, the vast majority of whom cross into Israel from the West Bank, has brought enough quiet for Israel to resume peace talks with the Palestinian leadership there.

But the current calm is fragile, and to maintain it Israeli security officials say they must continue their nightly arrests and sometimes deadly raids in the heart of the West Bank — tactics at odds with a peace effort that envisions a separate Palestinian state, an eventual Israeli withdrawal from much of the West Bank and, in the meantime, a gradual transfer of authority to the Palestinian police.

“The price of staying out” of the West Bank, said one senior Israeli military official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of military restrictions, “might be one that we don’t want to pay.”


Israel also started building the West Bank separation barrier in 2002, describing it as an answer to the suicide bombers. Made up mostly of fences and some sections of wall, the barrier is now about two-thirds complete. Security officials say it has proved effective, but they do not rely on it alone.

Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has managed to straddle the seeming contradictions between the peace process and the military’s continued campaign in the West Bank largely by putting off the matter until a later date.


In theory, Palestinian security forces would assume the responsibility of preventing such attacks, and a test of that approach will come this summer when a 600-member battalion of the Palestinian National Security Force completes an American-financed training program in Jordan. The Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, has stated that the recruits will be deployed in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, once considered the capital of the suicide bombers. Additional Palestinian forces are already due to start deploying in the city in order to prepare the ground.

But leading Israeli security figures, past and present, seriously doubt that the Palestinian police will have the capacity or the will to fight terrorism in the foreseeable future.

While it is unlikely that Palestinian security forces will provide Israeli officials with enough comfort to bring raids in the West Bank to a halt, there are signs that the Palestinian security forces are taking the necessary first steps:
A 500-strong force made up of Palestinian national security forces and presidential guards has begun deploying in the West Bank city of Jenin for a law-and-order campaign.


The deployment is meant to show the government is laying the ground for statehood. Another 150 men already in Jenin will also take part in a campaign.

Sunday Talking Heads Preview

This Week with George Stephanopoulos
--Sen. Hillary Clinton

Meet The Press with Tim Russert
--Sen. Barack Obama

Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace
--DNC Chairman Howard Dean
--Former DNC Chairman Joe Andrew, Obama Backer
--Terry McAullife, Clinton Campaign Chair
--Carly Fiorrina, McCain Advisor

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer

--Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.
--Sen. Evan Bayh, D- Ind., Clinton Backer
--Mayor Doug Wilder, D-Richmond, Obama Backer

A Day In The Life ~ Saturday, May 3rd

-- 12:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Indianapolis, IN
-- 3:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Noblesville, IN
-- 5:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Kempton, IN
-- Attends event with voters, Lafayette, IN


-- 8:30 am ET: Attends event with voters, Cary, NC
-- 10:00 am ET: Attends event with voters, Wake Forest, NC
-- 1:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Gastonia, NC
-- 3:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Mooresville, NC
-- 9:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters and John Mellencamp, Indianapolis, IN


-- 8:30 am ET: Attends event with voters, Angola, IN
-- 10:15 am ET: Attends event with voters, Kendallville, IN
-- 12:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Columbia City, IN
-- 1:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Warsaw, IN
-- 3:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Plymouth, IN
-- 5:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, La Porte, IN
-- 9:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters and John Mellencamp, Indianapolis, IN

Friday, May 2, 2008

Picture of the Week

(Source: Al Jazeera News)

Rice seeds make splashes in a flooded field in California as rice growers plant 222,172 hectares of rice throughout the Sacramento Valley. Growers in the Sacramento Valley were planting nearly 550,000 acres of rice amid a worldwide shortage of grain.

Dalai Lama Envoy to Meet with Chinese Officials

The meeting would be the first between members of the exiled Tibetan government since days before the Tibetan protests erupted in violence. The protests brought the abuses of the Chinese government into the media spotlight at a time when the Chinese government least desired: right before the Olympic torch run. The torch was met by protesters at a handful of the torch's stops raising many questions and compelling some leaders to boycott the opening ceremonies to the summer games.

BBC News Reports:

Two Tibetan envoys are to arrive in Beijing on Saturday for talks on ending the crisis in Tibetan areas of China.

This would be the first contact between the two sides since anti-China protests in Tibet in March turned violent.

The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile have been based in India since fleeing Tibet in 1959.

What will be discussed during the diplomatic talks?
The Tibetan envoys "will convey His Holiness the Dalai Lama's deep concerns about the Chinese authorities' handling of the situation and also provide suggestions to bring peace to the region," a statement from the Dalai Lama's office in Dharamsala, India, said.

Last week, an unnamed Chinese official told state media that Beijing would hold talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama "in coming days".

Talks between the two sides have been held sporadically for several decades.

While opening diplomatic relations between the two groups should always been viewed as a step in the right direction, there are many concerns that the Chinese government is simply engaging in public relations damage control and nothing more.

The anti-China March 10 Lhasa protests have done considerable damage to China's global image. While the Chinese government reports 19 people were killed by rioters on that fateful day in March, the Tibetan government-in-exile says 203 people were killed and some 1,000 hurt in the unrest and crackdown.

A Day In The Life ~ Friday, May 2nd

-- 12:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Munster, IN
-- 5:30 pm ET: Attends rally with voters, Charlotte, NC
-- 7:00 pm ET: Attends North Carolina Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, Raleigh, NC

-- 9:00 am ET: Attends event with voters, Kinston, NC
-- 10:15 am ET: Attends event with voters, Hendersonville, NC
-- 3:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Greensboro, NC
-- 7:00 pm ET: Attends North Carolina Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, Raleigh, NC
-- 9:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Raleigh, NC

-- 4:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Greenfield, IN
-- 5:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Beech Grove, IN
-- 7:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Avon, IN
-- 8:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Lebanon, IN

-- 12:00 pm ET: Attends town hall meeting with voters, Denver, CO
-- 1:15 pm ET: Holds media availability, Denver, CO

At the White House and Beyond. . .


-- 11:55 am ET: Tours World Wide Technology, St. Louis, MO
-- 12:20 pm ET: Speaks on the economy, Maryland Heights, MO


-- 7:00 pm ET: Speaks at a reception for Oklahoma Victory 2008, Tulsa, OK


-- 8:30 am ET: Releases unemployment statistics for April

-- 10:00 am ET: Releases statistics on factory orders for March

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Joe Andrew Switch-a-roo

Former Clintonista, DNC Chair, and current superdelegate Joe Andrew has shifted his allegiance to Sen. Obama. Andrew announced his decision Thursday morning citing the need to bring the nomination process to the end. Andrew was appointed DNC Chair by former President Clinton and was head of the party during the contentious 2000 Bush v. Gore race.

Andrew was the former state party chair in Indiana, but it is unlikely that his Indiana roots will change many voters.

Andrew is just part of the continual flow of superdelegates flocking towards Obama as the Illinois Senior continues to close the gap in super-D's between him and Sen. Clinton.

Sen. Obama netted 3 superdelegates on Wednesday. On the same day, Politico's Amie Parnes and Josephine Hearn report that Capitol Hill insiders have indicated the 80 "undecided" superdelegates in Congress have made up their mind and largely support Obama; the are simply waiting for the right time to come off the bench.

[UPDATE 10:46 am ET] The Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet reports that 3 Illinois add-on superdelegates to be announced on May 5th will offer their support to Sen. Obama.

[UPDATE 12:12 pm ET] Texas DNC Member John Patrick endorses Sen. Obama citing his record of standing up for working families and opposing trade deals that fail to protect American workers.

[UPDATE 06:22 pm ET] Sen. Clinton nets four add-on delegates from New York.

Ad Watch:

On the 5th Anniversary of President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" photo op, is airing a 30-second spot will air in New Mexico and Iowa for a week.

The ad features Bush's classic soundbite, "Major military operations in Iraq have come to an end," as well as McCain's classic soundbite from the same time, "It’s clear that the end is very much in sight.” The ad also features McCain's "100 year" comment. A narrator closes it out, "and you thought no one could be worse that George Bush."

Gas Tax Holiday: Political Pandering, Not Solutions

The proposed Clinton/McCain gas tax holiday is political pandering at its finest. One of the most pressing issues on voters minds is the high prices of gas. But what will a removal of the gas tax do? McCain and Clinton claim that lifting the 18.4 cent per gallon federal tax would drop the price at the pump by the equivalent 18.4 cents. This translates into a 4% drop which would save summer drivers $2 on every $50 fill-up... IF lifting the tax resulted in a 18.4 cent drop in the price at the pump.

Even libertarian Jerry Taylor, a fellow for the Cato Institute, thinks lifting the tax is a bad idea, calling the proposal, "A holiday from reality." Taylor added, "What would happen more likely than not, gas taxes would be cut, but pump prices wouldn't go down, service stations would just continue charging what they are charging."

Sam Stein of the Huffington Post cuts to the chase in his latest: "Expert Support For Gas Tax Holiday Appears Nonexistent":

I took the task upon myself. I would call experts from all sides of the ideological aisle to get a sense of where the debate stood. In the end, every single analyst I surveyed judged the gas tax holiday proposal to be, roughly speaking, a silly, superfluous, or outright pandering idea.

As I noted yesterday, even economists in Clinton's corner find the proposal objectionable: The NY Times' Paul Krugman calls Clinton's plan "pointless and disappointing."

In his column "Dumb as We Wanna Be," economist Thomas Friedman, who is often criticized for his belief that the free market will naturally solve the most pressing issues facing our environment, notes the Clinon-McCain plan "is so ridiculous, so unworthy of the people aspiring to lead our nation, it takes your breath away."

Even those who are hit the hardest by the soaring prices of fuel do not support the proposal. In an offical release, the American Truckers Association stated the following:
ATA did not ask for this legislation. And we believe it is only a very short term answer that does not do anything to address the longer term issue of rising fuel prices.
So what are the issues with the gas tax? Or, better yet, where do we begin?

The federal gas tax supports the Federal Highway Trust Fund. In turn, the revenue Highway Trust Fund invests in infrastructure i.e. building new roads, bridges, tunnels, highways, maintenance, etc. At a time when the construction industry is already feeling the crunch from the housing crisis, halting investment in infrastructure during peak construction season (northern states typically do all of their road construction in the summer) would further devastate the construction industry and send ripple effects throughout the economy. Sen. Clinton proposes to replace the revenue with a tax on the windfall profits of oil companies. Estimates show that the windfall profits tax would not be able generate the equivalent amount of revenue. Additionally, it is a near guarantee that oil companies would counterbalance the losses from a corporate windfall profits tax by raising the price of gasoline!

Next, the gas tax holiday is an environmentalists nightmare. At a time when the government needs to be providing incentives to change commuter behavior and increase investment in R&D for enviromentally sound transportation, the gas tax holiday does just the opposite.

Lastly, I would point out that, as the name suggests, the removal of the gas tax is only for the "holiday" (specifically, the period of the summer spanning from Memorial Day to Labor Day). While the benefits of a marginal reduction in price would be slight, the strain on consumers would be great when the tax is reimposed in the fall.

The proposed "gas tax holiday" is a ploy to garner votes, not an answer to a serious issue. At least most in the media are reading between the lines.

Thursday's New York Times Editorial calls the gas tax holiday ""an expensive and environmentally unsound policy that would do nothing to help American drivers."

The Washington Post Editorial Board sees the proposed Clinton-McCain gas tax holiday for what it is: political pandering.
His opponents no doubt hope that Mr. Obama's stand will prove to be political suicide. We think it qualifies as political courage.

See Clinton's ad attacking Sen. Obama for neglecting to take action on gas prices HERE.

And Sen. Obama's response ad HERE.

Ad Watch: Clinton

Clinton has a new ad out in North Carolina featuring her latest NC endorser, Gov. Mike Easley.

Hillary the Obliterator

Sen. Clinton has developed a record of paying tough gal in the final days leading up to primaries. Recall the "3 am Red Phone" ad that she ran in the 11th hour of the Ohio and Texas primaries.

In the weekend run-up to the April 22 Pennsylvania primary, Clinton brought the tough talk again; this time, the target was Iran. Sen. Clinton promised she would "obliterate" Iran with nuclear force if they were to launch an attack on Israel.

Sen. Clinton pitches her threats as "deterrence theory." In doing so, she completely neglects the most pressing issue facing our country: Iraq.

One of the Bush Administration's greatest failures in the handling of the Iraq War has been the complete absence of serious diplomatic talks with Iraq's neighbors. Everyone acknowledges Iran's meddling in Iraq, typically coming in the form of providing aid to Shia militias. If Sen. Clinton truly desires to end the war in Iraq, she will need to engage Iran, most in direct talks, a pledge Sen. Obama has made. What effect will Clinton the Obliterater's tough talk have on diplomatic relations with the Iranian government?

An AP report has the answer:

Iran's deputy U.N. ambassador, Mehdi Danesh-Yazdi, called an April 22 statement on ABC by the New York senator, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, "provocative, unwarranted and irresponsible" and "a flagrant violation" of the U.N. Charter.


Danesh-Yazdi's letter said Clinton "unwarrantedly and under erroneous and false pretexts threatened to use force against the Islamic Republic of Iran."
The Iranians sent the letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and asked that he circulate it to the Security Council.
The council has imposed three rounds of gradually tougher sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment. Iran insists it is enriching uranium to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but the U.S., key European nations and other countries suspect Tehran's real motive is to eventually produce nuclear weapons.
In the letter, Danesh-Yazdi said "Iran is a leading nation in rejecting and opposing all kinds of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons." He added that Iran has repeatedly declared "that nuclear weapons as the most lethal and inhumane weapons have no place in the defense doctrine of the country."
Iran has also campaigned to make the Middle East a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone since 1974, he said.
"Moreover, I wish to reiterate my government's position that the Islamic Republic of Iran has no intention to attack any other nations," Danesh-Yazdi said. "Nonetheless ... Iran would not hesitate to act in self-defense to respond to any attack against the Iranian nation and to take appropriate defensive measures to protect itself" as authorized under the U.N. Charter.

A Day In The Life ~ Thursday, May 1st

-- Attends events with voters, Columbia City, IN
-- 2:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, South Bend, IN


-- Attends event in Jeffersonville, IN

-- 10:00 am ET: Attends event with voters, Brownsburg, IN
-- 4:15 pm ET: Attends town hall meeting with voters, Jeffersonville, IN
-- 8:00 pm ET: Attends rally with voters, Terre Haute, IN

-- 8:30 am ET: Attends event with voters, Morgantown, WV
-- 10:30 am ET: Attends event with voters, Clarksburg, WV
-- 1:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Whiting, IN
-- 2:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Schererville, IN
-- 4:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Crown Point, IN
-- 6:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Michigan City, IN

-- 10:10 am ET: Attends health care town hall meeting with voters, Cleveland, OH
-- 11:15 am ET: Holds media availability, Cleveland, OH
-- 3:00 pm ET: Attends health care town hall meeting with voters, Des Moines, IA

At the White House and Beyond. . .

-- 10:05 am ET: Delivers remarks on the National Day of Prayer, Washington, DC
-- 2:50 pm ET: Delivers remarks at celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Washington, DC


-- 8:30 am ET: Releases personal income and spending statistics for March
-- 10:00 am ET: Releases construction spending statistics for March

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ad Watch: Obama

The Obama campaign has a new ad out responding to the ludacris proposals of Sen. Clinton and Sen. McCain for a temporary lift on the gas tax.

Russia-Georgia Tension Mounting

As Georgia has its troops in position, ready to quell the separatist movements in its breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the Russian foreign ministry ramped up its rhetoric towards Georgia.

BBC News Reports:

Moscow has accused Georgia of preparing to invade Abkhazia, and says it is boosting Russian forces there and in the South Ossetia region.

Georgia has reacted angrily to the Russian move, which its prime minister called "irresponsible".

The EU also urged caution, saying to increase troop numbers would be unwise given current tensions.

Russia's foreign minister said his country was not preparing for war but would "retaliate" against any attack.


Georgia denies any build-up of its own forces in the area, and says that Russia is taking provocative action.


"We think that this step, if they take it, will cause extreme destabilisation in the region," said Georgian Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze.

"From now on, we consider every [Russian] soldier or any unit of military equipment coming in [to Abkhazia and South Ossetia] as illegal, potential aggressors and potential generators of destabilisation."

Georgia and Russia have been at odds ever since the dismantling of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Russia has developed a strangle hold over its neighbor as Georgia is now entirely dependent on Russia for oil. In the face of threats to completely cut the flow of oil into Georgia from Russia, Georgian officials have become slave to the drastically inflated prices of oil set by the Kremlin.

Russia's tacit support for Georgia's separatist movements and condemnation of Georgia's mobilization of troops to the regions is quite contradictory if not down right hypocritical with respect to Russia's handling of the Chechen separatist movement. The First and Second Chechen Wars in the 90's resulted in a total death toll upwards of 200,000.

BBC News has more on the recent Russia-Georgia tensions:
Tensions between Russia and Georgia have flared up recently, despite Russia lifting economic sanctions against Georgia earlier this month.

Last week Georgia accused a Russian plane of shooting down an unmanned Georgian spy plane - which Russian authorities insisted was shot down by Abkhaz rebels.

And on Tuesday Georgia said it was blocking Russia's entry to the World Trade Organization.

Many in Abkhazia believe that Kosovo's announcement of independence from Serbia in February provides a precedent for it to be recognised as an individual state.

Although it has its own flag and postage stamps, it is not internationally recognised.

Our correspondent in the area says that with this latest statement the Russian government has pushed the already bellicose rhetoric between the two countries to a new level.

Jenna on the Fence

In an interview on Larry King live, Jenna Bush revealed she is contemplating voting for a Democrat in November (much to the dismay of her mother... and father... and the Republican party).

"Too busy with books" is a very poor excuse as to why the President's daughter, of all people, has not been paying attention to the race. But, if she is hesitant to support McCain, can we infer she brews similar feelings of confusion and hesitation regarding her father's "legacy"?

Ad Watch: Clinton

Sen. Clinton has a new ad out in Indiana. Sticking to her guns, Clinton is the first to go negative in Indiana. The ad highlights Clinton's plan to "take action" on the economy by freezing foreclosures and lifting the gas tax.

Her support for McCain's plan to lift the gas tax is pure pandering to the oters. She claims a tax on the windfall profits from oil companies will off-set the removal of the gas tax, making her proposal revenue neutral, when in all actuality, it the windfall profits tax will not come close to replacing the revenue brought in from the gas tax.

The McCain/Clinton proposal is riddled with economic and enivronmental concerns. Even Clinton's economist and NY Times' columnist cheerleader Paul Krugman takes issue with her proposal to lift the gas tax.

Ad Watch: Obama

Sen. Obama has two new ads out in North Carolina. The first ad (airing for the first time in NC) entitled, "In America" focuses on changing a Washington that has "trade deals that put profits before people," and "laws written for - and by - corporate lobbyists." The second ad, "Return" focuses on Obama keeping Americans safe as commander in chief, and emphasizes his role on the Veterans Affairs Committee.

"In America"


A Day In The Life ~ Wednesday, April 30th

-- 1:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters and Michelle Obama, Indianapolis, IN
-- 6:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Indianapolis, IN
-- 8:30 pm ET: Attends rally with voters, Bloomington, IN

-- 1:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters and Barack Obama, Indianapolis, IN
-- 6:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters and Caroline Kennedy, Boonville, IN

-- 9:45 am ET: Visits Deluxe Sheet Metal, South Bend, IN
-- 12:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Portage, IN
-- 5:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Lafayette, IN
-- 9:00 pm ET: Attends rally with voters, Kokomo, IN

-- 7:45 am ET: Attends event with voters, Apex, NC
-- 9:15 am ET: Attends event with voters, Sanford, NC
-- 10:45 am ET: Attends event with voters, Lillington, NC
-- 12:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Dunn, NC
-- 1:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Hope Mills, NC
-- 3:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Lumberton, NC
-- 5:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Whiteville, NC

-- 2:00 pm ET: Attends town hall meeting with voters, Allentown, PA
-- 3:45 pm ET: Holds media availability, Allentown, PA

At the White House and Beyond. . .

-- 11:00 am ET: Participates in photo opportunity with 2008 National and State Teacher of the Year, Washington, DC
-- 11:15 am ET: Delivers remarks to the 2008 National and State Teachers of the Years, Washington, DC
-- 3:20 pm ET: Participates in photo opportunity and delivers remarks to the New York Giants, Washington, DC
-- 6:55 pm ET: Attends National Republican Congressional Committee reception, Fairfax, VA

-- 8:30 am ET: Releases first quarter GDP figures

-- 8:30 am ET: Releases first quarter Employment Cost Index

-- Addresses a joint session of Congress, Washington, DC

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rev. Wright Rehashed: Blessing in Disguise for Obama?

Rev. Wright's appearances at the NAACP and the Press Club brought a lot of unnecessary attention to a subject Obama has been struggling to silence for nearly two months. Rev. Wright fully reserved the right to go public and explain himself. But, the Reverend showed no respect for Obama's candidacy in his approach to either speech. The last two days were a nightmare for the Obama campaign.

However, Rev. Wright's disregard for Obama's candidacy may have been a blessing in disguise. In a last surprise press conference, Sen. Obama was able to create the significant distance between himself and Wright. As far as any outsider can tell, the two man are at odds right now and the tension just might be beneficial to Obama in the end.

Watch the press conference here:

Ad Watch: Clinton

Clinton spent a month and a half traversing the Keystone State talking about her roots in Scranton, PA. The day after the primary, as the focus shifted to Indiana and North Carolina, Stephen Colbert opened his show with a stab at Clinton's elaborated Pennsylvania roots stating, "I can't wait to see where Clinton is from in Indiana."

While not quite Indiana, Clinton morphed into a regional gal with roots in the blue-collar town of Park Ridge, Illinois for her latest ad airing in the Hoosier State. Forgive me for being blunt, but what a fraud!

Watch to the lastest Clinton morphology here:

Ad Watch: McCain

McCain has a new ad out focusing on health care as he delivers a speech today on health care in Tampa, FL. Read a piece by yours truly and Teddy Davis on the gap in McCain's health care plan HERE.

Troubles Entering Palestine

Sky Cohen is a friend of Rob's over at the Lowdown currently enroute to the West Bank to build playgrounds for Palestinian children. So far he hasn't had much luck but this was his last update.. from Jordan.

A riveting first person account.

How Friere’s ‘Pedagogy of Hope’ Almost Saved Me, but Ultimately Was One of the Implicators of My Status as a Thought Criminal.
By Sky Cohen

The King Hussein Bridge, which is the only land crossing that permits internationals to travel into the West Bank from Jordan, is located about 20 miles from my residence in Sweilah, Amman. This drive to the isthmus takes one through the entire spectrum of geographic that is offered by Jordan. From the bustling metropolis that is Amman, through the impoverished residential area of Salt, under the towering gaze of limestone hills and past the Dead Sea; this idyllic, picturesque, drive is one that will calm anyone’s nerves.

Going through customs on the Jordanian side of the boarder is less than an arduous task, that is, if you have a grasp of the Arabic language or are traveling with someone who does. As I watch internationals, baffled, walking in circles I feel thankful that I am traveling with Imad and that we are able to get through customs without much of a hassle. At one point a Jordanian customs guard, in jest, accuses me of traveling with my ‘brothers’ passport, (my passport photo is of me with beyond shoulder length hair, which I have cut since arriving in Jordan) but with a smile waves us through. As we are waiting to board the specialty bus designed to take us to the border of the West Bank (Israel), I notice that the bus depot is partitioned into two sections: one for International-Tourists and the other for Palestinians returning home.
The number of internationals, roughly 30 people, barely fills a quarter of the extravagant, grandiose, air-conditioned bus. As we travel down the mile long stretch of land that separates Jordan from the West Bank (Israel), I look out the window to see nothing but desolate tract: this desert purgatory is a cavernous maze of dehydrated dwarf plants and barbed wire. About half way down we stop at a check point, and the bus is boarded by a toll guard who checks our passports and takes our bus tickets. As the bus continues on, I see we are coming to another security check point where scores of buses are waiting; I notice that the road is divided into two paths and rather than waiting in line, our bus takes the empty route and is allowed to pass without any further inspection. As we roll by the line of busses I look from the comfort of my air-conditioned seat and see that each one is full to its carrying capacity with Palestinians, luggage protruding out windows (obviously not air conditioned), little children sitting on their mother’s laps, and few are conversing. I see the acceptance of the unfortunate situation in the eyes of the people; the apathy marred with contempt is obvious in their gazes, I lock eyes with a young girl and as I raise my hand to acknowledge our mutual existences she violently spits out her window and I apologetically avert my eyes.

It becomes obvious when we cross into the Israeli (occupied) side of the border; there are dozens of Israeli flags lining the walk way, parallel to where we are driving; female soldiers are wearing Kevlar vests that seem to be a size too large for them; and their males counterparts have automatic weapons dangling from their shoulders, I marvel as I see the Israeli flag being flown for the first time in an official capacity. For an instant I forget that this land I am now on is being occupied by Israel and that Palestinians are subjected to that occupation on a daily basis; but strangely feel a sense of pride that this land – these people (the Israelis) - would accept me as one of their own merely for my cultural heritage. In the hours to come this belief would prove to be nothing more than an illusion.

As the bus pulls to the front of the terminal our luggage is out onto a conveyer belt and we are ushered through an Israeli security check; our belongings are once again x-rayed and we are put through a metallic device that jets high pressure air strategically on our bodies. Imad passes through before I do, and as if scripted, three plain clothed IDF soldiers take him off to the side of the room and begin to interrogate him: out of a bus of roughly 30 internationals, he is the only one questioned. Israel’s paranoia, whether justified or not, has produced the world’s most reactionary security system.

After a few minutes of questioning and Imad’s release we proceed to a row of security booths; the majority are designated for Palestinians but a few are saved for internationals. At the booth I am asked a series of questions and I regurgitate my rehearsed answers: I am going to the West Bank for tourism; yes, I am staying with my friends grandmother; I will be staying in Nablus; no, I do not have her number; why? Because we are being picked up at the boarder; yes Nablus. The woman behind the booth takes my passport and enters my information into her computer: she tells me to sit down and wait for my name to be called.

Sitting, waiting for my passport is the first time that I am truly able to observe some of my fellow travelers; there is an organized tour group of Indonesian Moslems waiting to pass through customs; I notice that more common than luggage, the Palestinians are carrying multiple 5-10 gallon containers of fresh water: Imad tells me that they do this because Israel has control over the allocation of water that flows into the West Bank and that it is regularly shut off. After about an hour of waiting Imad’s name is called and his passport is returned to him, I also hear my name called and I stand up to procure my passport, but I am greeted by a woman in a pink shawl accompanied by two IDF soldiers. In accented English she says to me: ‘Sky? Please come with us.”

I follow the three officials through a labyrinth of security coded doors and past a numbers of closed-circuit security cameras. The woman in the pink shawl gestures that I enter a room and sit down; sitting across the table from me she begins to ask me questions. She asks about my parents and their occupations; about my reasons for traveling into Israel (she constantly referred to the West Bank as Israel and for a while it threw me off); when I explain to her that I had done fund-raising for a school in Nablus, she tries to get me to admit that I am going with political motivations and am planning on attending anti-Israel protests. When I adamantly deny these claims, she shrugs as if not fully convinced. I’m starting to believe that this woman has already judged and convicted me of something. But, this interrogation experience is so foreign to me that I don’t know if she’s serious or not. After about half an hour of questioning she ends with “Are you carrying any books or religious scriptures?” I am careful not to disclose the entire truth, but I keep from lying. I tell her: “Yes, (in my backpack) I am currently carrying Paulo Friere’s “Pedagogy of Hope”. For the first time in the interview as if acknowledging her exposure to Friere, she smiles and says “Ok” and I am convinced that when I am let into the West Bank it will have been Friere’s doing.

She leads me out of the room and into a hallway where she tells me to sit and wait. She sits me down near a cylindrical ashtray and disappears back through the security enabled doors. Disgusted by the smell of cigarettes, I get up and walk slightly down the hall to another set of chairs; and as soon as I sit down a door at the end of the hallway slams open and two IDF muscle men come barging out with their hands on their holsters and scream me down in Hebrenglish; they communicate to me that I need to be seen by their security cameras, and I realize that where I am sitting just happens to be located in a blindspot. I thought maybe they would thank me for finding a weakness in their security zone, but, no, they weren’t in the mood for showing their appreciation.

They leave me in the hallway for another 2 hours. Just as I decide this is as good a time as any to get some sleep, a security guard comes and tells me to bring all of my belongings into the back room. He accompanies me as I retrieve my camera, laptop, backpack and suitcase. We enter a room which has nothing in it except a metallic table; the security guard tells me to put all my belongings on it. The woman in the pink shawl and her two friends enter. After they put on rubber gloves, they begin to dump all of my belongings onto the table. They place all of my literature (including Friere, I am carrying Edward Said’s ‘The Question of Palestine’ Jimmy Carter’s ‘Peace Not Apartheid’ Rachel Corrie’s “Let me Stand Alone” the Japanese translation of ‘The Little Prince’ and Arlo Guthrie’s 1966 anti-war classic ‘Alice’s Restaurant’) notebooks, magazines, note cards and any other scraps of paper I have into a separate plastic bin.

After they shake the last bits of detritus from my bag, the security guard escorts me yet again into an isolated interrogation room. He asks for my wallet and after I give it to him he begins to strip it of all the cards, currency and the fortune I received from a cookie from that Thai restaurant in downtown Olympia WA foretelling that “(My) ideas will be needed to solve a problem.” He looks me dead in the eyes and points to my shirt; as I stare back into his cold eyes, I realize what is happening: I’m being subjected to my first official strip search. There is a moment of static in my mind, and as I begin to lift my shirt, off in the distance I start to hear the ascending notes to Right Said Fred’s 1992 one hit wonder “I’m Too Sexy”. My shoulders begin to inevitably bounce as I hand him my shirt, and at first my movements are concealed and he pays them no attention, but by the time he is feeling the lining of my shoes for concealed weapons and flattening my socks looking for my drug stash I am smiling and my upper body is going though controlled miniature convulsions.

Agitated, the security guard exclaims: “No dancing!”
Slightly shocked but unable to control the sounds in my head I respond: “No dancing for me?”

To which he forcefully and without hesitation proclaims: “No dancing for you!”

I keep myself from breaking out into laughter and realize that this Dance Nazi is serious about making my strip search as unpleasant as possible. I respect his demands but that does nothing to curb Right Said Fried's dirty-‘too sexy’-English voice from looping in my head for the duration of the search.

Fully clothed I am once again taken to the hallway and left alone with the security cameras. This time I make no hesitation and place my head down on the seat beside me. Before long one of the plain clothed IDF soldiers walks past: I sit up and ask him if I am being arrested; he casually responds that I am not, I ask then why exactly it is that I am being detained; he answers “We have had some problems in the past with some of the books you are carrying, and we are making sure you are not dangerous”. After another 2 hours of being curled up in an uncomfortable fetal position the woman in the pink shawl wakes me, returns all of my literature and tells me to gather my belongings and follow her.

I follow her to a security gate and she hands my passport off to a customs agent and I see the agent stamp my passport: ‘Finally’ I let out a sigh of relief ‘this has not been entirely fruitless, they are letting me into the West Bank. I will think of this as an inauguratory greeting, and all is well.’ The woman in the pink shawl turns in my direction, hands me my passport, and says: ‘Today you will not be entering Israel.’
Perplexed I ask her why and she answers “You have been deemed a security threat to Israel.” Keeping myself from overreacting I enquire: “Are you not granting me permission into Israel because of my choice of literature? Was I wrong in assuming that Israel is a democratic state?’ She pauses to think but rather than respond to my inquiries she reiterates her previous statement: “You have been deemed a security threat to Israel.” I realize that any further attempt to defend myself would be fruitless and before turning to walk away, I take one last look at her and say: ‘I wasn’t even trying to go to Israel, I was wanting to go to the West Bank.’

A Day In The Life ~ Tuesday, April 29th

-- Plays basketball with UNC'S mens basketball team, Chapel Hill, NC
-- Attends town hall meeting with voters, Winston-Salem, NC
-- Attends town hall meeting with voters, Hickory, NC

-- 8:00 am ET: Tours Bio-manufacturing Training Center, Raleigh, NC
-- 8:30 am ET: Attends event with voters and Governor Mike Easley, Raleigh, NC
-- 2:00 pm ET: Tours Miller Veneers Factory, Indianapolis, IN
-- 5:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Hobart, IN
-- 8:30 pm ET: Attends rally with voters, Princeton, IN

-- 3:15 pm ET: Attends event in Boone, NC
-- 5:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, North Wilkesboro, NC
-- 6:45 pm ET: Attends event in Elkin, NC
-- 8:15 pm ET: Attends event in Mount Airy, NC


-- 10:00 am ET: Delivers speech at event, Tampa, FL

At the White House and Beyond. . .

-- 1:15 pm ET: Meets with special representative of the U.N. Secretary General for Afghanistan, Washington, DC
-- 1:50 pm ET: Delivers remarks on National Volunteer Week, Washington, DC

-- Appears on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Green War

The Onion provides a much needed laugh in this time of turmoil.
In The Know: How Can We Make The War In Iraq More Eco-Friendly?
I love it. The war for oil going green!

A Day In The Life ~ Monday, April 28th

-- 12:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Wilmington, NC
-- 6:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Wilson, NC
-- 9:30 pm ET: Attends rally with voters, Chapel Hill, NC

-- 9:15 am ET: Attends event with voters, Graham, NC
-- 3:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Salisbury, NC
-- 6:00 pm ET: Attends rally with voters and Chelsea Clinton, Charlotte, NC

-- 8:45 am ET: Attends event with voters, Carmel, IN

-- 10:00 am ET: Attends event with voters, Miami, FL
-- 11:15 am ET: Holds media availability, Miami, FL

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ad Watch: DNC

The DNC has a new ad out hammering home the "McSame" theme (while playing of the "100 years" comment, of course). I am still looking for details on the size of the ad buy.

Clinton's 'Decisive' Pennsylvania Victory

Let's give Hillary's Pennsylvania victory some context.

Before April 22nd, Clinton needed to win EVERY remaining contest with roughly 65% of the vote (that's a 30 pt margin for all you math gurus out there). Now that she won with a puny 9.2 pt margin, she needs to win the remaining contests by over 70%. Given that she will lose NC (by a large margin, taboot) she needs to win roughly 85% of the vote in ALL other contests (70 pt margin). Okay, yes, there are Super-Ds. But even giving Hillary unrealistic 20 pt margins in every remaining contest, she would need to convince roughly 75% of the super-D's to vote for 2nd place.

Now you have the context looking forward, but lets look at every victory Obama has had since Feb 5th.

Obama's 11 contest sweep between Feb. 5 and March 4:

Louisiana -- 21 pt margin
Nebraska -- 36 pt margin
Washington -- 37 pt margin
Virgin Islands -- 84 pt margin
Maine -- 19 pt margin
Maryland -- 23 pt margin
Virginia -- 19 pt margin
DC -- 51 pt margin
Dems Abroad -- 33 pt margin
Hawaii -- 52 pt margin
Wisconsin -- 17 pt margin

His next three victories:

Vermont -- 20 pt margin
Wyoming -- 23 pt margin
Mississippi -- 24 pt margin

Every win Obama has had since Feb 5th has been by a margin twice as large as Hillary's 'decisive' 9.2% victory.

And the Clintonator trudges on...

"The Chickens Are Coming Home to Roost"

We have been bombarded with the most inflammatory of Wright's remarks. The media tells us to accept that all of the famous BYTES playing on repeat are the most vicious, un-American things a person can say.

However, one of Wright's remarks gets to the core problem with America's unfocused foreign policy in the Mid-East and the unintended consequences of such an ad hoc approach.

When Wright states that 9/11 was America's "chickens coming home to roost;" he is RIGHT on.

Does this justify the atrocious acts of 9/11? BY NO MEANS. I would never make such an argument or suggest anything of the sort. However, the media and politicians on both sides of the aisle will depict terrorists as pure nut jobs that randomly woke up one day and decided they were going to attack American because of we are free.

This is not the case.

One of the great failures of our government in the wake of 9/11 was the neglect to identify a motive for 9/11. (Again, a motive does not necessitate justification.) Bin Laden worked WITH the US in the Afghanistan proxy war throughout the '80s. Two things led to his extreme turn against us: 1) neglect to Afghanistan and the Taliban when they no longer cold be used as an instrument to advance our national interests. 2) the establishment of permanent bases on his homeland and the Holy Land of Saudi Arabia.

It is widely reported that Bin Laden welcomed the prospect of our Iraq excursion. Whether he personally did so or not, it was beyond cavil that the invasion of Iraq would help his cause NOT ONLY through recruitment of new members, but also because he counted the Iraq regime as an enemy of Al Qaeda's long-held goals due to its secular rather than religious makeup.

When/if we are faced with another AQ attack on American soil, but this time, carried out by native Iraqi's, we will know "the chickens are coming home to roost."

This comment should not be included in the 'Best of Rev. Wright' mash-up. It stifles a legitimate and much needed debate over our foreign policy objectives and the resulting unintended consequences.

Hillary 2012?

While the Clinton's are determined political machiens, the math is daunting and they know it. Some of us internet cynics has long thought the extension of her campaign has been free publicity for a future run, but now the story has made its way into the mainstream media.

Some Democrats take it a step further, asserting Clinton is trying to make Obama unelectable in the fall, not necessarily hoping superdelegates will flock to her, but with hopes of running against John McCain in 2012. The Clinton's have become so selfishly suicidal at this point that anything it possible.

A Day In The Life ~ Sunday, April 27th

-- Attends Sunday Church Service, Indianapolis, IN
-- Spends the afternoon in Chicago, IL

-- 7:00 pm ET: Attends rally with voters, Wilmington, NC

-- 2:00 pm ET: Attends event with voter, Hartford City, IN
-- 4:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, New Castle, IN
-- 6:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Shelbyville, IN
-- 8:45 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Martinsville, IN


-- 2:00 pm ET: Holds media availability, Coral Gables, FL