Friday, June 27, 2008

Hump Day Comedy Blogging

So you thought I was kidding about my NotPresidential run, huh?

Watch 'em and weep!

(h/t MissCellania)

Friday Music Blogging

The Leningrad Cowboys featuring the (former Soviet) Red Army Choir, with their rendition of Lynyrd Skynrd's Sweet Home, Alabama.

Too cool for school.

Nobody Asked Me, But....

1) The dysfunctional family that is the Democratic party remains.

2) As a Clintonite, I do find myself struggling to get behind an Obama candidacy. I've thought a lot about this, and really don't understand why, apart from the fact that Hillary was simply the better candidate, simply more deserving, and simply would make the better President. I would imagine there's an element of sour grapes involved, to be sure, but that's not one of those concepts that is hitting me and making me say "that's the reason!" There's more, part of it being that Obama is such an unknown quantity and part of it that Obama didn't win the nomination so much as Hillary had it kept from her by forces who genuinely, for whatever reason, hate her.

3) That said, I do support Obama should he be endorsed at the convention as the candidate and will work for his victory.

4) To be sure, our electoral process has no problems when compared with Zimbabwe. This is a situation that cries out for Barack Obama's leadership on, since neither Nelson Mandela or Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa, will stand in Mugabe's way, despite his tyrannically terrorist tactics. You see, Mandela, Mbeki, and Mugabe were running buddies during the apartheid era as part of the African National Congress.

5) Does anyone trust this story on its face? I sure don't.

6) Admittedly, as a citizen of the most high-pressure city in the country, this story saddens me. I don't have a problem with guns, per se. I have a problem with humans owning guns that require less instruction than getting behind the wheel of a car.

7) $140 a barrel and climbing. It could be $150 a barrel by the Fourth of July, and over $175 by the end of the summer.

8) Do the math here: if a $300 check lifts after-tax income by 5%, what does that say about wage growth in this nation?

9) Keep in mind, too, that inflation ate up roughly half of the economic bump we were supposed to get from those rebates.

10) Apparently, Ben Affleck's movie career really has tanked. Kudos to him for bravery, but points off for imitating George Clooney.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Gee, Here's A Surprise!

Political patronage in the Justice Department? Whoda thunk?:
WASHINGTON - Scores of highly credentialed young lawyers and law students were denied interviews for coveted positions at the Justice Department because of an illegal screening process that took political and ideological views and affiliations into account rather than merit, Justice Department investigators concluded in a report released Tuesday.

In 2006, some applicants for sought-after jobs in the department's honors program and summer intern program were rejected because they were members of the American Constitution Society or Planned Parenthood or because they expressed concern about gender discrimination in the military, the report found.

Other students or graduates who were brushed aside included a University of Alabama law graduate, ranked sixth in the class, who had written a paper on the detention of aliens under the USA Patriot Act, a Yale Law School graduate who was fluent in Arabic and a Georgetown law student who had worked for Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign.

In another case, a Harvard Law student was passed over after criticizing the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.
Believe it or not, this does not concern me overly. In an administration as overtly partisan and hostile to Democrats and moderates (they call them "liberals" to boot!) as the Bush administration, there are bigger fish to fry than whether a few summer interns were passed over for less qualified candidates because Daddy gave to the wrong party.

What we SHOULD be focusing on is that party ideology became so blatant as to create an atmosphere that forced even Republicans already working for the DoJ to deny their own sense of equity and equanimity and tow a biased and unfair politicized agenda.

It's one thing to seek out an agenda-driven department, Presidents do that all the time, even with "nonpartisan" panels, it is another thing entirely to treat a department of professionals like it was just another commando unit in a far greater army of oppression and injustice.

When your own partisans, in other words, think something is a bad idea, rather than dispose of them, it might make sense to keep even their timid and modest objections in mind when fomenting policies and executing same. Just a thought, altho this administration is long on tales of people forced out, Colin Powell and John O'Neill being the marquee names, for moderation in anything.

You get bad apples in all administration and the truth is, Alberto Gonzalez was an unabashed failure as Attorney General of the United States. This is just another example of his fraudulent oversight of the department.

But keep in mind, as Joe Conason points out, that Gonzalez used the tool made available to him by someone who ought to know better: Arlen Specter:
But that wholesome safeguard was breached in December 2005, when the Senate renewed the Patriot Act. At the behest of the Justice Department, an aide to Sen. Arlen Specter slipped a provision into the bill that permitted the White House to place its own appointees in vacant U.S. attorney positions permanently and without Senate confirmation. So silently was this sleight of hand performed that Specter himself now claims, many months later, to have been completely unaware of the amendment's passage. (Of course, it would be nice if the senators actually read the legislation before they voted, particularly when they claim to be the authors.)

The staffer who reportedly performed this bit of dirty work is Michael O'Neill, a law professor at George Mason University and former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. As the Washington Times explained when O'Neill was appointed as the Senate Judiciary Committee's chief counsel, many observers believed that Specter had hired him to reassure conservatives of his loyalty to the Bush White House. Right-wing distrust had almost ousted the Pennsylvania moderate from the Judiciary chairmanship, and appointing O'Neill was apparently the price for keeping that post.

Evidently O'Neill rewarded Specter by sneaking through legislation to deprive him and his fellow senators of one of their most important powers, at the behest of an attorney general intent on aggrandizing executive power. The results of this backstage betrayal -- now playing out in a wave of politicized dismissals and hirings -- were perfectly predictable and utterly poisonous.
Specter, by dint of his politically moderate (in Republican perspective, dangerously liberal) positions, was forced to accept a situation whereby he had to genuflect to the more adamantine hearts of his oberfuhren.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hm, Sounds Familiar, Right?

I'm guessing the McCain campaign is eavesdropping on my blog.

Compare and contrast:
“I further propose we inspire the ingenuity and resolve of the American people,” Mr. McCain said, “by offering a $300 million prize for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars.”

He said the winner should deliver power at 30 percent of current costs. “That’s one dollar, one dollar, for every man, woman and child in the U.S. — a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency,” he said.
Now, this:
I would propose the following budgetary item be included in my first non-administration: a $1 billion dollar bounty payable to anyone, and I do mean anyone, who can demonstrate a truly renewable energy source-- solar, geothermal, wind, and so on-- that will create the same rate of BTUs as crude oil, in a form that is commercially viable.

This bounty would not be payable just once. It would be paid for each new energy resource that can be so demonstrated to the country's satisfaction. If you can develop a brand new way of harnessing wind on a commercially viable scale that is new and innovative, or takes a windmill one step farther, then you get your bounty. I figure there ought to be about ten of these that will have to be paid out.
As usual, Republicans are behind the curve in thinking, and ready to trim anything so they can preserve their precious tax cuts, but it seems pretty eerie to read your thoughts in the national press and not think "Hmmm, I wish the other guy would listen as closely."

Speaking of the "other guy", clearly the Obama campaign was caught flat-footed by this proposal:
The Obama campaign countered by noting that Mr. McCain had voted against improving fuel efficiency standards in the Senate. Jason Furman, the Obama campaign’s economic policy director, said in a conference call that Mr. McCain had been focused on “meaningful relief for oil companies that are struggling with record profits.”
Citing "fuel efficiency standards" is like offering lollipops when compared to someone who is buying you dinner, so to speak.

If McCain is going to be the guy who comes up with solid, practical and ingenious solutions to America's problems, solutions that at least look forward as opposed to being mired in the past, this is going to be a very long fall campaign...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Strategic Commands

Thank God for the New York Times' The Caucus blogs, which sum up about three articles I was going to cite today:
Though his fund-raising lagged somewhat in May according to the most recent financial disclosures, Senator Barack Obama is planning an extensive advertising effort for the general election, including television spots in states that are known to be Republican strongholds.

The Times’s Jim Rutenberg and Christopher Drew report today on the Obama team’s “multifaceted television campaign”:
Future commercials could run on big national showcases like the Olympics in August and smaller cable networks like MTV and Black Entertainment Television that appeal to specific demographic and interest groups.

He is also dispatching paid staff members to all states, an unusual move by the standards of modern presidential campaigns where the fight is often contained to contested territories.

The Associated Press reports on how Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s donors could fatten Mr. Obama’s campaign war chest while he helps pay off some of her campaign’s sizable debt.
I stated during the week my support of Obama's repudiation of his former position regarding campaign finance reform, which was clearly a pandering gesture while he was running in seventh place and desperate for attention. Among the reasons I mentioned was John Kerry's "Swiftboating" in the 2004 election by an "independent" 527 group.

Kerry was in between the primary season and the general election, which could not officially kick off until George W. Bush was officially renominated. The 527 ads were run in this period when, because the campaign had not officially kicked off, Kerry could not use the public funding he had agreed to abide by, and had run out of primary funds.

He was forced to rely on ad hoc fund raising efforts by groups like to combat the ads. Well, guess what? Progressives, it seems, are notoriously bad about funding things like this.

Obama appears to be positioning himself to battle in all 50 states against McCain, forcing McCain to spend money and effort in traditionally Republican states like Kansas and Virginia. Menwhile, there's a very good possibility that McCain could upset Obama's bid for big-ticket states like California, Florida, Ohio, Texas and even New York and Pennsylvania. The ability of one or the other strategy to work will determine the outcome of the November election, despite early indications that Obama is winning walking away now (51%-39%, according to recent polls).

The key demographic is the group that Hillary Clinton re-energized during the primary season, the working class vote, the so-called Hillary Democrats (nee Reagan). If McCain can hold his base and attract anywhere north of 1/3 of Hillary Democrats and Obama runs into trouble with his base because of whatever moves to the middle he is forced to make to shore up his support with HillDems, McCain could steal the election (allusion intended).

On the flip side, McCain will have troubling shoring up his base if he, too, has to repudiate the policies of the past seven years too fervently, which is why he's changed positions on drilling in ANWR among other things. Lose the conservatives and McCain can phone in the votes he'll receive after that.

Even if Obama loses the race this time, he would likely shore up Democratic votes in states that are usually dominated by Republicans, and perhaps swipe a few more Congressional seats. In 2012, he would be positioned to run again against a President McCain.

Assuming he got past the fact that Hillary Clinton would probably have much more support should Obama fail.