Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Why I Can't Get Into Obama

Obama is making the claim that we need to get the cynicism out of politics. That we need to get away from the negatives of politics. I've said before that I've heard scores of politicians speak and they all pretty much say that and it's a pretty meaningless statement, or "cheap rhetoric" if you will. But I think this article from the Washington Post dramatically emphasizes this. Sam Fox, who donated a lot of money to the shrill GOP group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, was asked by John Kerry how he felt about the politics personal destruction. According to the Post:
Fox replied that he was "very concerned" that politics have become too "mean and destructive," especially with the participation of independent "527" groups such as Swift Boat Veterans.
I'm sorry, but I just don't see Obama saying anything novel or exciting here. And don't even get me started on his talk about "hope". I grew up close to poverty and people struggling. They don't need any more hope, they need a fair shake. I don't have to be convinced to vote for him in a general elect because he's clearly head and shoulders above the GOP candidates. But please. Give me something to be excited about.

(I should note that I'm overworked and having some experimental problems. I had to rant.)

Barack Obama's Name Problem

No, I'm not talking about the absurdity of his middle name being a factor or certain rhyming of his last name--after all, if Bush and the GOP already forgot about that person.

The problem I see with Obama's name is that his first and last name initials are "B" and "O". Or, together, "BO". I've seen many bloggers use initials to refer to candidates and I have a hard time imaginining people being able to say, "I support BO!" I find the exclamation point to be the real killer. I mean, who can really be that excited about "BO".

OK, I'll admit that's silly. But it's no worse than the other stupid references to his name being a problem. Can I get a guest appearance on CNN or Fox to push this argument? Other people have spent a lot of time pushing other stupid name games. Why can't I?

(Back to work)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

I know I say I'm passionate about many things, but PTSD is something that is very personal to me. I won't share my personal experiences with people who have PTSD here, but I was glad to see that PTSD is being highlighted at the blog of Wes Clark's PAC, Securing America. The is post is worth a read:
[N]early 150,000 [veterans] have filed disability claims; over 100,000 of which have been granted, with another 30,000+ claims pending review. It is estimated that between 500 and 1,000 OEF/OIF vets are already homeless. Many have multiple deployments under their belts. For now, at least 38,000 returning troops carry invisible marks on their souls of one degree or another and are being treated by the Veterans Administration for psychological injuries once labeled nostalgia, shell shock or combat fatigue. Today we call it post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

The Hagel Effect

I don't puch much stock in "electability" arguments for chosing candidates in a primary. I won't make an electability argument about any of the candidates currently in the running. At this point, I don't see any of the top four or five Dems in the field--Clark, Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Richardson--losing to any of the Republicans currently in the field. (I include Clark because he hasn't said he isn't going to run and there is still some time. Also, he's my top choice.) I say that in all seriousness. McCain went from "straight-talk express" (I never bought it) to "say anything depending on the audience". The real Rudy Giuliani won't be as popular as the mythical 9/11 "Mayor" is--just ask New Yorkers. I don't think the others really stand a chance with moderates.

That said, I think they dynamic changes a lot if Chuck Hagel throws his hat in the ring. When it comes to foreign policy, Hagel is everything that the "straight-talk express" isn't. Namely, a straight talker. He's probably one of the most conservative members of Congress (voting AGAINST the minimum wage increase!), but he's not portrayed as extreme as, say, a Brownback. A Hagel presidency will probably see Roe overturned by his supreme court pick as well as a host of other very important principles of American jurisprudence. But you won't likely hear much about that. Instead, you'll hear about his domestic "moderation" (a lie) and his respect in foreign policy circles. (Even I respect what he says.)

If Hagel is in the race, the Democratic nominee will be someone perceived, rightly or wrongly, as a moderate domestically and a strong national security candidate. That does not bode well for the current top three. I think Edwards and Obama would be particularly crippled by a Hagel run. They may say the right things and pursue the right policies (which I think they will), but to many you'd be taking a risk with them. To a lesser extent, Clinton is succeptible. I think Clinton is a contender no matter what and has a great campaign team, but will have a tough time with Hagel.

The Dems who will most easily be able to fend off a Hagel challenge on foreign policy credentials are Clark, Richardson and Biden. Listening to Hagel talk now is like listening to Clark from three years ago. (In fact, a lot of the FP establishment is starting to repeat Clark's advice.) Clark has already won a war and is well respected internationally--which other candidates are invited to speak at middle east economic development conferences or testify at the Hague? Similarly, Richardson has been ahead of the curve as well and is very much respected internationally. He's called to negotiate for prisoner release and has dealt with N. Korea in nuclear negotiations. He's ready to go. Biden can go toe-to-toe with Hagel and has always been a step ahead of Hagel in realizing the dangerousness of the Bush administration.

I prefer Hagel as the GOP nominee because I think he may be less sleazy than the other GOP candidates on the campaign trail. However, that will make it much tougher for any Democrat to win. I do think Dems can win, but we'd have a much easier time if Clark or Richardson were the nominee--and I'd like to be lazy this time.

I have to admit that I also find Clark and Richardson to be the candidates with the most pertinent experience and the most qualified.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Stop The War With Iran



Wes Clark has been calling for dialogue with Iran for quite some time--long before it became en vogue to do so. Now it's becoming the Democratic consensus. Wes Clark has been the leader on the Democratic side of the foreign policy debate and specifically the middle east.

I hope he gets in the race. He probably doesn't have the tabloid appeal of Obama, Clinton or Edwards, but when it comes to the meat of policy he's been way ahead of everyone. Even if he doesn't win the nomination, perhaps we can talk about more than just hope. Because the problems this country and world face require more than just feeling good, they require answers.

Why Is Hillary The Only Ambitious Candidate?

OK, anyone running for president is ambitious. That goes for Edwards, Obama, Richardson and even my candidate of choice, Wes Clark. There is nothing wrong with a little ambition. I think all the Dem contenders, even the lower tier believe they can change the course our country is headed in. But at the same time, you have to be really naive to think that any one of them lacks ambition.

I've been astounded of late by the Clinton bashing from the left. Whether it's the not so subtle inuendo from the Obama campaign, or bloggers constantly talking about, say, Hillary being one of the "most single-mindedly ambitious politicians". I'll grant that she has some ambition, but is she really single-mindedly ambitious compared to the others? (I won't even discuss the GOP since McCain's been running for president all of my adult life...)

Hillary Clinton has spent nearly all of her adult life fighting for child welfare and women's rights, amongst other things. She did so taking a back seat to her husband--who she got involved with before he was a heavy hitter in politics. I suppose it's possible that someone would hedge their bet that a young law student would eventually become president and help propel her to the presidency some thirty years later. Possible, but unlikely. And pretty stupid, if you ask me.

During Bill Clinton's rise Hillary stood aside. For someone with as much ambition as she is credited with, that seems more than a little odd. She never wavered in her commitment to children and women. Many of the things she did have never really been heavily publicized. If she were so ambitious, why would she have continued to do so much for so little recognition?

To me, the evidence isn't all that great that Hillary is one of the "most single-mindedly ambitious politicians". Does she have ambition? Sure. But what about Senators who decide to run for president in their first term with no other federal experience. To me, that seems more ambitious than someone who's dedicated an entire life to helping the most vulnerable citizens: children. I think it's unfortunate and unfair that Hillary Clinton gets all the scorn while others who, in my opinion, seem to be much more politically motivated than her get off completely. I don't understand this double standard and am shamed by Democrats who continue to push right-wing talking points about Hillary Clinton.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Anti-Poverty Candidate

People who know me intimately know that I'm pretty passionate about ending poverty. I'll get teary-eyed when I spit out sad statistics, curse efforts that increase poverty, curse when common sense solutions are ignored, and ask most politicians I meet pointed questions on poverty. It occassionally makes me callous to other people's problems, sometimes even my own. Given that, one would imagine that I'd run to sign up for John Edwards campaign. But I didn't. And I won't.

I am glad that Edwards talks a lot about poverty. To me its a serious moral and practical problem and it should be discussed. I was excited when Edwards started a poverty center in North Carolina--a truly noble goal. Unfortunately, I never noticed anything in Edwards's Senate career that showed the same level of concern for anti-poverty measures as he's pushed in his presidential campaigns. What's worse is looking at the events calendar on the UNC Poverty Center website. Perhaps there are events missing, but the last event noted on the website took place November 9, 2006. That's three and a half months ago! The last press on the website was from October 11, 2006--over four months ago.

I don't mean to question the people at the center, but this, along with his lack of effort in the senate on these measures, makes me question the real level of commitment that Edwards has when it comes to poverty. What's more, I don't get a feeling from listening to Edwards talk about poverty that he truly understands the situation or the solutions. I don't care that he's wealthy because wealthy people can understand the burdens of poverty as well as the solutions. FDR wasn't exactly poor, but he set up Social Security which dramatically decreased poverty amongst elderly Americans. A truly heroic feat.

I've never met or talked to Edwards so he may very well possess a deep understanding of what it takes to combat poverty. But I have yet to see that in anything he has said or has done.

But I have met Wes Clark. And, yes, I asked him one of my impassioned and pointed questions on poverty. What really surprised me was that he skipped the talk about what poverty is like--sparing me details that I'm quite aware of--and jumped right into the meat of possible solutions. I'm not one to be overly impressed with famous politicians--after all, I am a couple minute walk from more than one Nobel Laureate--but I was struck by his candor and his depth of knowledge on practical solutions. We talked about community and neighborhood based financial planning programs, microcredit, fair trade policy and national cultural impediments. A far cry from "we can do better". That he was willing to discuss some of the hurdles in addressing this issue demonstrated that he knows what he's talking about.

I won't enumerate or elaborate the solutions discussed right now--I'll save that for after he announces--but I just want to mention that as a person who cares very deeply about reducing poverty, Wes Clark is my clear choice as the anti-poverty candidate. Not platitudes, but practical solutions. Not just hope, but tangible solutions.

I know he most likely won't read this, but if so, I hope he runs because I want a real anti-poverty candidate. I'm sick of slogans and gimmicks. And, frankly, I've been hoping for a long time and that doesn't cut it either.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

I know Wes Clark hasn't officially jumped in the Democratic primary, but every time I see him in the news he's doing something interesting. This time he's speaking at an economic forum in Saudi Arabia:
Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan will deliver a special keynote address at the conclusion of the opening day, Sunday 25th February. Plenary Speakers will include: HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal, H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey; The Hon Dato� Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia; H.E. Lech Walesa, former President of Poland; H.E. Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan; The Rt. Hon. Jean Chretien, former Prime Minister of Canada; Minister Liu Jiangfeng from China; General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO; Mr Peder Wallenberg, Founder of Carpe Vitam and Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, UK Chair of the Saudi-British Business Council.
The great thing about Clark is not having to subscribe to hope based politics. He has already done and continues to do what needs to be done to make our country secure and to help bring more economic security in other countries--this is his second such event in the last few months.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Much Ado About Jack (Bauer)

I recently started watching "24". It was $18 for season one and the first episodes of the latest seasons were engaging. I won't defend the quality of the show, but I find the latest "liberal" attacks on the show to be astonishing and absurd. It's a TV show and the military shouldn't scape goat a TV show!

If troops are getting their advice from a TV show, then there is some serious problems in leadership that are much more disturbing than anything on the show. Troop behavior is the responsibility of the commanders. When will the buck stop with the leadership?

Shame on liberals for letting a military leader scapegoat a TV show! It's a TV show, not a military guidlines book!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I'm Joining The NRA

I agree with Sandra Froman:
“The point,” she said, “is that every responsible, peaceful, law-abiding American should have the right [to bear arms] if they want to.”
I have no problem with people who hunt and use guns responsibly--though I question those who call themselves hunters who pay a lot of money to shoot birds from a cage. It's silly for commentators to comment on their gun toting ability--kinda like that straight person who goes out of their way to "know" someone who is gay--so I'll leave my gun toting resume ambiguous.

I don't know everything that Froman said, but the quote above demonstrates a typical paranoid strawman argument that emanates from the right. Those of us who favor gun regulation don't have any problem with "responsible, peaceful, law-abiding American[s]" who want to have guns. What gun regulators want to stop are the irresponsible, nonpeaceful, law-breakers from attaining guns and harming others. It's that simple.

Follow-up questions I have for the Fromans of the world is: Should we allow irresponsible, nonpeaceful, law-breakers from using guns to break the law? Should we make it harder for irresponsible, nonpeaceful, law-breakers from obtaining guns to break the law?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Let The Obama Cynicism Begin

I don't blame Obama for going on the offensive, but what happned to getting away from cynicism?

Seriously, I think his campaign theme is stupid. He's been brutalized by the right-wing ("is he 'black enough'?", John Howard, the madrassa thing, etc.) and it's stupid to talk about elevating the debate. The other side lowered the debate a long time ago. His anti-cynicism thems is pretty naive. I'm glad he's starting to fight back. As president, sitting around and singing Kumbaya won't cut it. Obama is trying to copy Bill Clinton and we know how divisive and polarizing he turned out.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Five For Five


It's been a while since I've mentioned the Dixie Chicks and I guess their five Grammies is as good reason as ever to mention them again, even if C&L beat me to the punch.

I related to the song "Wide Open Spaces" way back when because it was a time of personal transition and moving on to new and different things. I've been listening to them ever since. I'm definitely glad that they were able to bounce back after the horrible treatment they received after criticizing Bush. Way to go, Chicks!

(Photo from MSNBC.com)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Obama

OK, I'm about to post another jab at Obama. I actually like him, so it's probably because of the rain and that I'm working on Saturday. Or maybe because there are already loads of Obama-love all over the internets. But most likely to point people to a new Stanford blog that has a post on Obama:
Unfortunately, Obama's campaign seems to eschew the substance in favor of vague notions of hope and generational responsibility. Those are powerful notions, but I can't think of a presidential candidate in recent history who hasn't invoked them. Even worse is that Obama explicitly suggests that people who want to hear plans and specifics somehow "don't believe in talking about hope":
"There are those who don't believe in talking about hope," Obama told the crowd. "They say, 'Well, we want specifics, we want details, and we want white papers, and we want plans.' We've had a lot of plans, Democrats. What we've had is a shortage of hope."
Honestly, this kind of rhetoric can start to sound a little Bushy. How can you even engage in a debate with a man who tells you that offering an argument is a sign that you're not hopeful enough? I don't get it.
I like what Obama says, but the more I hear from his campaign, the weaker and weaker he looks. I've been trying to avoid coming out and saying it, but it comes off to me as quite naive. Cynicism is not fighting for your view when it's approved by most people.

I want leadership, not hope. To quote a famous passage, faith without action is dead.

The "Republic" Party

C&L points to a video of Rep. Anthony Weiner repeatedly calling the GOP the "Republic" Party:



I'm a fan of satire and irony, so this was definitely amusing. It also makes me question Obama's understanding of the political reality we face. The GOP has spent a lot of time criticizing Pelosi for something that was forced on her by security personnel. The GOP has spent years slandering the Democratic Party by calling them the "Democrat" Party. And he wants to end cynicism amongst current leaders.

Public sentiment is already on the side of the Dems. But the current GOP leadership is doing what they did to Clinton: Thwarting popular efforts for the sake of political gain, not because of ideological disagreement (e.g. the anti-surge resolution filibustered by its author). I like Obama's angle, but we need a leader who won't let a few bad apples (the GOP congress) thwart efforts that most people support. When its primarily one-sided cynicism--after all, all Dems, more or less believe that Government can do good--it makes no sense to let the other side completely roll over us. Happy rhetoric is no substitute for leadership in difficult times.

I know I come off as anti-Obama, but I'm ready to get things back on track. I want to make sure that the Dem I vote for in the primary knows how to make their case and pushes for something they believe in. The "Republic" Party is fighting for the future of their party, and just like in the 90s, they are not going to play nice. Obama doesn't seemed to have learned much from recent history. The only thing Dems get when they unilaterally put down their guns is the Iraq war, reckless deficits, and a turning back of the clock on social progress. I'm ready to move forward, but as the Dixie Chicks would say, I'm not ready to make nice. Not until the other side is as well.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Who Cares?

By now everyone knows that John Edwards is at the bottom of my list of potential Democratic presidential nominees. I have many criticisms of Edwards, in particular his short, lame and ineffectual tenure in the Senate--a third of which was spent campaigning for president. I think its fine to bring that up. What I don't think is worthy of a story is the Edwards' house. FDR was wealthy and he was a great president, especially for those on the bottom of the economic ladder.

There is much for the media to report on, and much for bloggers to scrutinize, but this is not worth the time. I don't understand why the media focuses on this but doesn't bother to scrutinize Edwards (and others') leadership ability. Give it a rest. This has no impact on Edwards ability to lead.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Playing the Game

No more football posts. The game I'm talking is politics. Josh Marshall discusses the GOP trickery here. Definitely worth the read and contemplation.

I've had numberous conversations about what Dems could or should do. What many people seem to ignore is the utter cynicism of the current Republican Party. Why else would Warner (R-Va) write and sponsor a bill only to filibuster it? That tells you a thing or two about the GOP. The other thing that is commonly ignored is the willingness of the President to bypass Congress with secret programs and signing statements that allow him to follow laws however he feels like.

There's a lot of talk about Dems needing to do this or that, but it really isn't that easy. In the Senate we're still evenly divided and we have a president who likes to stretch the rules. Dems have to force the GOPs hands and rushing for everything at once, like Feingold seems to want, probably won't work. We couldn't even get a non binding resolution that had bipartisan support and over 50 votes passed. Reid and Durbin are going to have to play the game a little rougher in the future. I'm convinced they are capable so I hope they start playing hardball soon.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Congratulations Indy


It looks like the third times was it. I thought Dominic Rhodes or Bob Sanders deserved the MVP over Peyton Manning, but I thought Manning did pretty good himself. Yeah, it was a sloppy game with a lot of turnovers, but once the Colts settled down in the 2nd quarter, it was clear that the Colts were the better team.

9-2

So far I've picked 8 of 10 games correctly during the playoffs. Both of those losses have been picking against the Bears. Well, maybe the third time's a charm: I'm picking the Colts over the Bears.

Go Peyton!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

To Bathe Or Not To Bathe

You gotta love Al Sharpton's quick wit in response to Biden's remark:
“I told him I take a bath every day."