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      We’re down to street fighting in Donetsk.  The Russian leaders resigned in the last two weeks.  The rebels appear to be done, at least in terms of their conventional military phase (of course, I could be wrong depending on how much stomach Ukrainian troops have for house to house fighting).  It seems like that would [...]
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Obama White House Pinning the Blame on Hillary

Yep, all her fault.  According to a security person in Tripoli from the Utah National Guard, the embassy (unclear which one) asked for more security and that request was denied by the State department.  Hillary says the truth will all come out, we need to be patient.  But this is an election year and patience is not a virtue.  The Republicans want to pin the responsibility for the embassy attack in Benghazi on Obama and Obama wants to pin the responsibility on Hillary.

Interesting.  I probably wouldn’t have done it this way because I’ve read various accounts of who requested what for which embassy and who turned it down or didn’t ask for it or decided it wasn’t in their strategic long term interests.  Ambassador Chris Stevens was convinced that local Libyan security should be used when possible, if I recall correctly. It may have cost him his life in the end but from recent accounts, a few extra American military people, which is what was requested, wouldn’t have made a big difference.  The attack on the embassy was a full on assault with heavy fire and mortars. Whether the State department shares some of the blame for this disaster is something we will all find out eventually and the responsible parties will have to answer for it, including Hillary if she is at fault.  I want to hear all of the facts first.

Frankly, I would LOVE for Hillary to have to testify before Congress on the matter.  The sooner the better.  She’s not the headbanded lawyer with the missing box of billing records anymore.  Does either side really want to call Hillary to Capital Hill?  Think about that for awhile.  Let it soak in.  I’m not sure which campaign has the most to lose in that scenario but let us remember what James Carville once said of Hillary, “If Hillary gave Barack Obama one of her balls, they’d each have two.”

Craig Crawford has this to say on the matter:

President Obama’s team seems close to provoking a feud with the Clintons. The White House seems to be shifting blame to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Benghazi fiasco.

First, Vice President Joe Biden says in his debate “we” weren’t told U.S. diplomats asked for more security in Benghazi before the violence there. Then, White House press secretary Jay Carney explains that Biden meant only the White House had not been told, and in a telling remark says the matter was “handled by security professionals at the State Department.”

I can understand why Biden, who wants to run for president again, would relish a chance to undermine Hillary, who might also run again. But at a moment when Obama is relying so much on Bill Clinton for support does he really want to let this play out?

Well, considering that Obama owes his presidency to Wall Street and that the culture of smartness doesn’t do long term thinking, I think we can assume that they haven’t actually played that scenario out and are still under the impression that they can humiliate Hillary without consequences.

But don’t be surprised to find that the Republicans have sized up the situation and predicted the opposition’s likely reaction.

Get the popcorn.

Monday: Meanderings

Republican voters: Crazy or The Craziest?

Some thoughts I’ve been having…

First up, last night’s Virtually Speaking featured Joan McCarter from the big orange satan.  Jay and Joan discussed the Republican primary in the first part of the show.  Jay seemed rather incredulous about the way this whole circus is playing out.  I would have to disagree on a couple of points though.

First, it’s not the candidates or the process that is crazy.  It’s the party’s voters that are batshit insane.  I think years of Glenn and Rush have taken their toll.  The dark archetypes of our collective unconscious have been given permission to run amok and the Republican voter’s unconscious, softened by years of angry white male rage and religion, is particularly vulnerable.  I don’t think some of these people are even recognizable to their former selves.  My relatives have gone through a personality transformation.  Towards the end of the Bush years, they were briefly getting better but with the noise machine pulling out all of the stops lately, plus the rotten economy, they’re just not the same people.  So, there’s that.

But more than that is the process itself is starting to take on its own internal logic.  There is definitely method to the madness of letting the Republican primary stretch on indefinitely, or at least until the convention in the summer.  If you don’t believe it, consider that the Republican primaries have driven almost everything else off the front page.  Each day, we’re confronted by candidates trying to outdo each other in pandering to their crazy base.  The Sunday shows are chock full of Republicans trying to make their case.  We’re going to get austerity/deficit reduction messaging continuously until they pick a nominee.  I’d say that was extraordinarily successful strategy and not at all crazy.

Secondly, there’s definitely a note of hypocrisy and paradox on our side of the aisle.  Jay and Joan toyed with the idea that the Republicans would have a brokered convention, and if I were the Republicans, I’d definitely go for this option.  Keep everyone guessing until the last moment.  Make sure your arguments and worldview get the most airtime before the public.  But the hypocrisy is that this is precisely what we denied ourselves in 2008 when the number of delegates separating the two candidates was about as wide as a gnat’s wing.   And not only did we not get a floor fight, we denied the first woman candidate who had ever come that far from even getting a legitimate roll call vote.  (And why was that?  Well, if we had let a real roll call proceed, everyone would have been immediately aware that they were virtually tied.  We couldn’t have that.  It would ruin the narrative.)  I have yet to hear Jay or anyone on Virtually Speaking explain why we should have found that acceptable.  In fact, many Democrats and women, in particular, do not accept it.

Which brings me to another point.  I could have sworn that I heard Jay refer to the Hillary holdouts as crazy and compared them rather unfavorably to Republican nutcases.  Now, I admit that I might have misheard this and I will be probably force myself to relisten to the podcast but I think Jay has been in the echo chamber too long.  While she may not be popular among the Democrats who gave us four years of Obama (thanks for nuthin’ guys), she is very popular among the rest of the country’s voters for good reasons.  She has proven herself to be a capable, competent, well-respected politician and administrator, both domestically and abroad.  She beats every candidate of both parties in polls, which Democrats do not mention.  The people who are crazy are not the holdouts.  It is the segment of the Democratic party who insist on clinging to their pre-conceived notions about her.  But whatever.  What’s really crazy is to go into this fluid, unpredictable election year in the fourth year of a dismal economic crisis without a Plan B.  No, Howard Dean is not an option.  Remember, you have to appeal to all of the voters.

And as Craig Crawford mentioned on Saturday night, the deadline for getting on the ballot on some of the biggest states has not expired yet.  Many of the big Democratic states like California, NJ and Pennsylvania have their primaries late.  In NJ, we don’t get to vote until June.  A lot could happen between now and then.  That lot could consist of endless pounding on Obama’s poor performance in Republican primary debates coupled with a lot of sturm and drang on the deficit.  Obama did not use his bully pulpit well in the past three years.  He squandered a lot of it with trivial photo-ops in the first year to the point that his appearances on TV are now just background noise.  And he’s never been a passionate defender of Democratic values anyway.  Plus, there are a lot of people in the Republican party who cannot wait to vote him out of office.  They are motivated.  What has motivated the Democrats lately?

Let’s not understate the importance of motivation.  There isn’t a lot that people can do about the economy, mostly because their elected representatives are not responsive to their concerns or listening to sound economic advice.  But there is one thing that people can do that will give them a great deal of satisfaction.  They can vote Obama out.  I don’t intend to do this because I’m not voting for either major party candidate.  I’m sure there’s a third party candidate who will get my vote.  But there are millions of people out there who will get a feeling of exultation out of booting him out of the White House and replacing him with a Republican.  They don’t even care what comes next.  He is the Emmanuel Goldstein who is the cause of so much misery to them.  What we’re seeing is the beginning of a three minute hate on steroids.  It’s not pretty.

In other words, the Democrats are going to have a real problem come November and throwing a bone like contraceptive coverage to the wimmins ain’t going to cut it for the millions of women who are out of work.  To think Obama can just skate to the finish line again because the Republican base is f%^&ing nutz is just crazy.

******************************

Lambert has a full report of our trip to Washington with a lot more pictures of the places we visited.  Check it out.  I still have 40 minutes of video, including an “incident” at the National Portrait Gallery, that are trapped on my Flip camera.  Apparently, when Steve Jobs joined the choir invisible, he had not reversed his (untimely) decision to stop supporting PC based apps on the Mac OS.  I have Lion.  Flip won’t download.  Kid has Snow Leopard.  *Might* be able to download to her mac if I can find the fricking rosetta disk.  If anyone out there has a workaround, detail it in the comments.  I mean, a workaround that doesn’t require me to buy or borrow a PC.

Thursday: Jim DeMint makes my ears bleed

Last night, Jon Stewart took apart Jim Demint’s worldview piece by piece.  It’s a thing of beauty.  Unfortunately, you have to listen to Jim Demint’s irritatingly folksy South Carolina drawl speaking nonsense right wing talking points during the segment.  By the way, why is it that Stephen Colbert, a South Carolina native, does not speak in the same drawl?  I lived in SC as a kid, in Charleston, and EVERYONE down there had a southern accent.  So, what gives, Stephen?  And is it possible that Fox type viewers respond to the drawl in a hypnotic sense? My natural speech pattern is more like Stewart’s.  It’s rapid, a bit throaty, punctuated.  Demint’s is slower, more musical, even a bit soothing and against it, Stewart sounds harsh, like a splash of uncomfortably cold water on the upper arms.  When you listen to these two go at it, you can’t help but pick a side.  I’m on Stewart’s side but I imagine that Demint’s southern siren call is hard to resist.

***********************************

I love Craig Crawford.  He’s one of the more honest pundits on TV (that I don’t watch anymore).  Check out his blog Craig Crawford’s Trail Mix for interesting observations on the campaign.

However, I did find his recent post on the effect Ron Paul will have on the Republican primary and nomination to be a little weird.  It’s a short post, here’s a lengthy excerpt:

GOP bosses talking about winnowing the field so that Mitt Romney doesn’t face a lengthy nomination battle against multiple foes ought to consider the alternative: Ron Paul goes to the convention with 40 percent of the delegates. That could happen if he’s the last rival standing sooner, rather than later.

With fewer winner-take-all primaries and caucuses, and Paul already proving an ability to garner up to 25 percent of the votes in a crowded field, it’s not a tough mathematical challenge to conclude that he would capture even more of the anti-Romney vote and roll into Tampa next summer as a trouble maker.

It’s not that Paul could threaten Romney’s nomination, but he could steal the coverage, much as Jesse Jackson did to Michael Dukakis, and Pat Buchanan to George H.W. Bush. (Reminder: Both nominees lost the election).

At the very least Paul would want a prime-time speech, and probably a whole lot more. Chairman of the Federal Reserve, perhaps? Just kidding, but …

Ok, here’s the weird part.  Obama and Hillary Clinton went to the convention in Denver in 2008 in a dead heat.  Actually, if the DNC hadn’t busted Florida and Michigan to half votes and reapportioned Michigan votes by giving 4 delegates from Hillary and all uncommitted delegates to Obama, Hillary would have been ahead.  According to Crawford, Ron Paul would deserve a lot more than a prime time speech if he only had 40% of the vote, not even a dead heat.  So, why is it that Hillary only got a prime time speech, no floor debate, and not even a legitimate roll call?  How come Jesse Jackson and every other candidate from the Democratic primary system prior to 2008 got treated as legitimate politicians and their delegates accorded a voice but not Hillary’s?  How do we explain a discrepancy like this?  We should all be asking ourselves this question until we get an answer that makes sense. Oh, sure, the superdelegates all moved like osmosis to Obama’s column, pulled no doubt by a hypertonic money solution.  But the elected delegates should have counted for something.  And they didn’t.

So, either the Republicans are going to be a lot more honest about their convention than the Democrats or they will adopt the Democrats’ model from 2008 and negate the primaries altogether so that they don’t have to accommodate Ron Paul’s constituency.  And if that’s the way the parties are going to go, why go through this expensive and painful process every 4 years?  If the money guys are going to pick the male party nominee anyway, why bother with the façade of electoral legitimacy?  We all know what our preisdential campaigns have boiled down to in the past 12 years.  The preferred candidates get the nod.  It will either be a money wing candidate with social conservative tendencies or a money wing candidate with socially moderate tendencies.  Them’s the choices.  Pick one.

If you don’t like your choices, and that’s all you’re going to get, you HAVE to go outside the parties and pick a different flavor of politician.  Yes, it takes effort to find them on a ballot.  No, there’s no guarantee your candidate is going to win, although it will be easier if as many people as possible show up to vote for the same person.  That’s usually how it’s done.  But at some point in time, enough of us have to decide that we have no other alternative and decide to pick someone else.  It can be done.  Just say no to both parties this year unless they give you a choice you can live with.

******************

For a different take on the 2-party system, check out Virtually Speaking Susie’s interview with Mike Patterson from Occupy DC.  Mike spells it out for the occupy doubters: the Occupy movement is not interested in becoming an arm of the Obama campaign.  It doesn’t like Democrats any more than it likes Republicans right now.  Both parties have let the American people down.  What Occupy will turn into is a different question but it’s not there to support Obama, that’s for damn sure.

By the way, tune your bat channels for Virtually Speaking tonight when one of my favorite bloggers, Lenore Skenazy of FreeRangeKids is on to talk about what happened to American childhood.  I’m convinced that there is a connection between fearmongering and strict behavioral controls of both parents and children and the goals of the right wing.  I hope Jay Ackroyd and Lenore explore this connection.  The one thing you can count on is that Lenore will bring her horror stories from modern day parenting.  The fact that she is not exaggerating makes it all the more frightening.  That’s tonight at 8:00pm EST.  Virtually Speaking A-Z with Stuart Zechman and Virtually Speaking with Lenore Skenazy.

Here’s a little taste of Lenore:

**************************************

This headline says it all: “SOPA Sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith to SOPA opponents: You don’t matter.

Ok, good to know.  I hope he’s not doing anything important when the internet giants decide to pull the plug temporarily for system maintenance.

*************************************

For those of you who have made a resolution to be less of a slob this year (moi!), check out ApartmentTherapy’s homekeeping tips.  Think of it as housecleaning for people who have better things to do with their time and less “impeccably fresh” Martha Stewart-esque attention to obsessive detail.  Like, is it ok to clean your jeans in the freezer.  Or, if your house is really messy, where do you start?  It’s so overwhelming.  Start with the bedroom.  Here’s the list for deep cleaning your bedroom, step-by-step.  You can do this.  Er, *I* can do this.

Just do it.

*************************************

Another one bites the dust: Sanofi closes its Bridgewater, NJ site.  This happened faster than my former colleagues anticipated.  I’m very sorry to hear this and hope that they’ve all been preparing for their Plan B’s.  I’ve been getting a recent flood of LinkedIn invitations in the last week.  It’s nervewracking, guys.  All I can say is get out of NJ if you can.  The money has dried up.  You need to decide to not to live a precarious existence.  Pack up the family and head west or at least mid-west.  Scale down, regroup, renew and reclaim your dignity.  To those of you who didn’t get an invitation to Cambridge, don’t beat yourselves up.  I know how good you are.  It’s nothing personal.  It’s mostly politics and, unfortunately for Cambridge, it will *not* be getting all of the “best of the best”.  One final thing, you will feel so much better once the shoe drops.  I sleep a lot better these days.  Good luck to all.

***********************************

And now, a thing of beauty to relieve you of combat fatigue.  This is a ballet of the seasons from a new version of Cinderella.  The company is Belle Etudes in Arizona and the dancers are pretty young.  The choreography is exquisite:

Helen Thomas and Craig Crawford Offer Advice to President Obama

Helen%20Thomas%20at%20press%20conf

This is interesting Helen Thomas and Craig Crawford have written a book together in which they discuss Thomas’ recollections of all the Presidents she has covered, beginning with John F. Kennedy. It’s called Listen Up, Mr. President At CNN.com, the two reporters offer “five key insights” for the current President. There is also a great collection of photos of Helen Thomas over the years. Here are just a few brief excerpts from the article.

Insight #2: Forget your privacy: You are a public servant

You are not perfect, Mr. President. So don’t pretend that you are and hide the bad stuff. If you are still smoking, say so directly, and openly share your struggle with the public.

Protecting your privacy can come at a greater cost than simply revealing what you don’t want the public to know. If it is found out — and it probably will be — you not only have the fallout from the exposure to deal with, but you will also be accused of deceit.

Insight # 4: Have courage: Even if it hurts

The theme of your campaign was summed up by the title of one of your books, “The Audacity of Hope.” You’ve given us hope, Mr. President. Now show us the audacity.

In Afghanistan, Mr. President, you risk repeating Lyndon Johnson’s disastrous escalation of the Vietnam War after listening too much to the generals. Again, the Pentagon wants more troops for a tricky war, vowing success in Afghanistan if you only agree. That’s what the British and the Russians thought before they utterly failed to subdue their foes in Afghanistan’s difficult terrain.

Have courage to resist such pleas if your instincts say otherwise, Mr. President. That is why the founders of our nation put a civil servant in charge of the military. You are the decision-maker, not the follower.

Insight # 5: Give us vision: It’s your legacy

A good president, wrote 19th century historian Henry Adams, “resembles the commander of a ship at sea. He must have a helm to grasp, a course to steer, a port to seek.”

The port you seek, Mr. President, is your vision. Those who take this lightly do so at their peril.

But even the most inspirational vision is just talk if not combined with action.

Now is the time to fill in the blanks, Mr. President. The excitement and newness of your presidency has worn off. Turn your vision into reality. Show us that you can deliver results.

It’s excellent advice, gently delivered. If only the President would listen.

This is an open thread.

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Live Blog: Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings

15soto_600

Yesterday Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) made a complete fool of himself, — twice, actually

This morning, Sen. Jeff Sessions…castigated Sotomayor for not ruling with her fellow Puerto Rican colleague, conservative Judge José A. Cabranes, when she decided to deny an en banc appeal in Ricci v. DeStefano, a process in which all judges of a court hear a case (as opposed to a three-judge panel of them). Sessions seemed to indicate that people of the same ancestry should vote the same way:

SESSIONS: You voted not to reconsider the prior case. You voted to stay with the decision of the circuit. And in fact your vote was the key vote. Had you voted with Judge Cabranes, himself of Puerto Rican ancestry, had you voted with him, you could’ve changed that case.

Sessions slammed Sotomayor as being “unsuitable for the bench” due to her past affiliation with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF). Apparently, Sessions didn’t realize that Judge Cabranes also served on PRLDEF’s board.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wasn’t far behind. He asked Sotomayor:

“Doesn’t your decision in Maloney mean that virtually any state or local weapons ban would be permissible?” he asked.

“Sir, in Maloney, we were talking about nunchuck sticks,” the judge explained.

“I understand,” said the senator.

“Those are martial arts sticks,” Sotomayor added.

Hatch did not want to appear to be a ninja newbie. “Two sticks bound together by rawhide or some sort of a –”

“Exactly,” the nominee said. “And when the sticks are swung . . . that swinging mechanism can break arms, it can bust someone’s skull.”

“Sure,” Hatch agreed, breezily. He wasn’t about to get into a fight with an expert in martial arts.

Who will be win the “booby prize” in today’s session? Continue reading

OK, one more time: Hillary won the debate

Period.

She wins all of her debates against Obama. It is only the media punditocracy that sets the bar for her so damn high that if she doesn’t clear 454 ft with her pole vaulting, it looks like a loss. She routinely clears 25 ft to Obama’s 16. But this does not indicate the level of superhuman abilities that we require from her. Anything less than 454 is like so much “So what have you done for me lately?”

Well, the debates are over and it is now for the voters of Texas and Ohio to decide. Do they need her to be superhuman and perfect or is excellent good enough? And are they going to buy the rambling, Shatner-like delivery of Obama, along with adolescent expressions of impatience and surprised disbelief as sufficient for the highest nation in the land or will they send him back to school for 4 years?

I guess we’ll see if the media standards are the ones that the rest of the country feels are fair. One thing for sure, though. Russert’s and William’s behavior last night didn’t make their case that we should adopt their standards as our own. Classy people don’t act like that. People with a vendetta do and we’ve watched enough crime drama since the advent of TV to know what that looks like.

Web Roundup

roundup.jpgHere are some tasty links that should keep you until dinner:

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