Sunday, June 29, 2008

McCains can't pay their property tax bills on condo for four years

This is just amazing. And John McCain is telling us to trust him for handling the U.S. economy when even he and Cindy McCain can't handle their own property tax bills for one of the multiple homes they own? From

When you're poor, it can be hard to pay the bills. When you're rich, it's hard to keep track of all the bills that need paying. It's a lesson Cindy McCain learned the hard way when NEWSWEEK raised questions about an overdue property-tax bill on a La Jolla, Calif., property owned by a trust that she oversees. Mrs. McCain is a beer heiress with an estimated $100 million fortune and, along with her husband, she owns at least seven properties, including condos in California and Arizona.

San Diego County officials, it turns out, have been sending out tax notices on the La Jolla property, an oceanfront condo, for four years without receiving a response. County records show the bills, which were mailed to a Phoenix address associated with Mrs. McCain's trust, were returned by the post office. According to a McCain campaign aide, who requested anonymity when discussing a private matter, an elderly aunt of Mrs. McCain's lives in the condo, and the bank that manages the trust has not been receiving tax bills on the property. Shortly after NEWSWEEK inquired about the matter, the McCain aide e-mailed a receipt dated Friday, June 27, confirming payment by the trust to San Diego County in the amount of $6,744.42. County officials say the trust still owes an additional $1,742 for this year, an amount that is overdue and will go into default July 1. Told of the outstanding $1,742, the aide said: "The trust has paid all bills shown owing as of today and will pay all other bills due."

Dan McAllister, treasurer- tax collector for San Diego County, said that about 3 percent of San Diego's approximately 1 million property owners default on their property taxes each year. The county assesses a 1.5 percent penalty for each month that goes by unpaid and puts houses up for sale after five years. "We do hear an awful lot of excuses for why people don't pay," McAllister said. "Under the law, the property owner is responsible for keeping the address current. We're only as good as the information we are given."

The McCains are worth over $100 million dollars, and yet they can't pay the property taxes of $6,744.42 for one condo. I'm sorry Johnny-Boy, but you are an incompetent ass who does not deserve to be elected into the White House.

Presidential election to determine Supreme Court's future path

If there is ever one important aspect of this current presidential election that has really been ignored, it is the issue of the U.S. Supreme Court. From The Washington Post:

For much of its term, the Supreme Court muted last year's noisy dissents, warmed to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.'s vision of narrow, incremental decisions and continued a slow but hardly steady move to the right.

But as justices finished their work last week, two overarching truths about the court remained unchanged: It is sharply divided ideologically on some of the most fundamental constitutional questions, and the coming presidential election will determine its future path.

A victory by the presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, would probably mean preserving the uneasy but roughly balanced status quo, since the justices who are considered most likely to retire are liberal. A win for his Republican counterpart, John McCain, could mean a fundamental shift to a consistently conservative majority ready to take on past court rulings on abortion rights, affirmative action and other issues important to the right.

"If there's one thing you can see about this court, it is that it still sits on a knife's edge," said Jeffrey L. Fisher, a Stanford University law professor who argued three cases before the justices this year.

Right now, the U.S. Supreme Court has four liberal justices with John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, and four conservative justices with Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito. The swing justice here in Antony Kennedy. It is usually Justice Kennedy that is providing that tipping vote in the 5-4 Court decisions--the other justices might as well go home!

The issue with the presidential election is that if there are any justices that will be retiring, they will probably be the liberal justices. Justice Stevens is 88 years old and one of the oldest and longest serving members of the Court. Justice Ginsburg is 75 years old. If John McCain is elected president, he will have the opportunity to shift the court to the extreme right, if he is given the opportunity to nominate one or two justices. In other words, Roe vs. Wade will be overturned, civil liberties will probably be curtailed, and the federal government will be given more power to domestically spy on its citizens. These are just some extreme examples of what a McCain-stacked court could do to this country.

Is this the direction you want the U.S. Supreme Court to be heading?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Great moments in classic comedy--George Carlin's "A place for my stuff!"

My apologies for the lack of posting here during the past two weeks. I've been rather busy watching floor guys refinish the hardwood floors, and helping my parents repaint the house before new roommates come in this Saturday--and the house is currently a disaster, execpt for the hardwood floors which look gorgeous. I'll be back Monday posting, when everything gets back to semi-normal here. In the meantime, I did notice the story of George Carlin passing away on June 24th. The world lost a brilliant comic that day. So in celebration of Carlin's comedic brilliance, I thought it only fitting to present one of his classic sketches on our accumulation of stuff. I love this sketch. From YouTube:

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Saturday Morning Cartoons--Fractured Fairy Tales Rapunzel

I think it is time for another episode of Fractured Fairy Tales, that wonderful spoof of the old fairy tales which aired on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. And for today, Fractured Fairy Tales will spoof the classic Brothers Grimm children's story Rapunzel. It is just pure fun. From YouTube:

Friday, June 13, 2008

Iraq war could cost taxpayers $2.7 trillion

The only comment I have to say is that we need to get out of Iraq. From CNN.Com:

NEW YORK ( -- As the Iraq war continues with no clear end in sight, the cost to taxpayers may balloon to $2.7 trillion by the time the conflict comes to an end, according to Congressional testimony.

In a hearing held by the Joint Economic Committee Thursday, members of Congress heard testimony about the current costs of the war and the future economic fallout from returning soldiers.

At the beginning of the conflict in 2003, the Bush administration gave Congress a cost estimate of $60 billion to $100 billion for the entirety of the war. But the battle has been dragging on much longer than most in the government expected, and costs have ballooned to nearly ten times the original estimate.

William Beach, director of the Center for Data Analysis, told members of Congress that the Iraq war has already cost taxpayers $646 billion. That's only accounting for five years, and, with the conflict expected to drag on for another five years, the figure is expected to more than quadruple. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., told members of Congress that the war costs taxpayers about $430 million per day, and called out the Bush Administration.

This was a war of U.S. imperialism, the control of Iraq's oil resources, and the neo-con desire to project American military power throughout the Middle East. And now this disaster is going to cost us over $2.7 trillion dollars--money that we do not have.

President Bush has bankrupted this country.

Friday Fun Stuff--Summertime fun at the Caddyshack pool

It is summertime, where the kids get out of school and have fun in the pool. And where could we find even more pool fun than in this scene from the film Caddyshack. Just make sure the entire pool is scrubbed, sterilized, and disinfected. From YouTube:

McCain stacks town hall meeting

I found this on both Shakesville and Eschaton, where the McCain campaign lied to Fox News that the audience of a town hall meeting would be made up of Republicans, Democrats, and independents. The McCain campaign distributed tickets to supporters, Republican Mayor Bloomberg, and other independent groups. Watch the news feed through YouTube:

John McCain is pulling another page from the George W. Bush playbook--stack all of your campaign events with supporters. I seriously wonder when the McCain campaign "security" goons will start throwing people out of events because they oppose John McCain?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

McCain: Big Oil should return some profits to consumers

This is from a June. 11, 2008 MSNBC News story:

WASHINGTON - Record high prices for gasoline probably won't drop any lower before the November election, Republican John McCain said Wednesday.

"I don't think it's going much lower, and it could go higher," McCain said on NBC's "Today Show." "I don't think so, not when you've got a finite supply, basically, and a cartel controlling it."

Although the GOP presidential candidate didn't address the question of raising taxes on oil companies, he said the companies "absolutely" should return some profits to consumers. "And they should be embarking on research and development that will pay off in reducing our dependence on foreign oil," he said.

"The point is, oil companies have got to be more participatory in alternate energy, in sharing their profits in a variety of ways, and there is very strong and justifiable emotion about their profits," McCain said.

The issue of oil company profits came up this week in the Senate, where Republicans stopped the Democrats from imposing a tax on windfall profits and taking away billions of dollars in tax breaks in response to the $4-a-gallon price of gas.

The key point here to remember is that Americans are starting to get angry on getting hit with $4-a-gallon gas prices, while also realizing the huge profits oil companies are making today. The Senate dragged Big Oil execs in for another dog and pony show. Senate Republicans blocked a windfall-profits tax hike on Big Oil profits. Finally, gas prices continue to climb to over $4.00 a gallon. And it is the rising gas prices that is the biggest issue. When it is costing you almost $80 to fill your SUV tank, this becomes a big election year issue here.

Which is why we see Republican presidential candidate John McCain playing the populist card here in selling himself as the president who will reduce the gas prices so that Americans can drive their gas-guzzling SUVs in blissful happiness. It is all a bunch of McCain campaign PR-spin to get McCain elected into the White House. McCain's "gas tax holiday" is a huge policy failure, where economists say that the repeal of the 18.4 cent federal tax would increase the demand of people driving more, while keeping the supply of gas at the same levels as refineries are working at full capacity to maintain current demand, and not be able to supply increased demand. Gas prices would still continue to rise. In addition, the repeal of the federal gas tax would cost billions from the U.S. Treasury, forcing cutbacks in the building of roads and bridges, resulting in job losses. The winners of this gas tax holiday would be the oil companies, who would benefit from the higher gas prices caused by the short-term increase in demand coupled with the restriction of supply. It doesn't matter if McCain's gas tax holiday is passed or not--he is selling it as a populist measure to court votes. And even if the gas tax holiday is passed, the benefits still go to Big Oil, leaving American consumers' pocketbooks empty.

Now we come to McCain's agreement that Big Oil should return some profits to consumers. Again, it is more PR-spin. McCain was absent on the vote which Republicans blocked the windfall profits tax on Big Oil. It is rather ironic that McCain can demand that Big Oil should return some of the profits to consumers, of which he doesn't say how the oil companies should return those profits, while at the same time be conveniently absent on a Senate vote which attempted to eliminate Big Oil tax breaks and force the oil companies to shift their windfall profits in renewable energy resources. So McCain gets a chance to rail against the oil companies, while doing absolutely nothing to change their behavior. If John McCain gets elected into office, you can bet that he will ignore, or oppose, any attempt at reducing Big Oils' windfall profits by either higher taxes, reduced government subsidies, or any other legislation.

Then there is McCain's corporate tax cut plan, and how it would benefit Big Oil. According to The Center for American Progress, McCain's plan for cutting the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent would cut taxes for the five largest U.S. oil companies by $3.8 billion a year (See chart below).

Chart showing Big Oil savings under McCain corporate tax cut plan. From The Center for American Progress

Finally, John McCain has gotten into bed with Big Oil. According to McCain Source:

McCain has Taken At Least $720,613 from the Oil & Gas Industry. According to a Public Campaign Action Fund analysis of campaign finance data provided by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics Center, John McCain accepted at least $720,613 from the oil and gas industry since 1989. [Center for Responsive Politics via Campaign Action Fund]

McCain Voted for $5 Billion in Tax Breaks for Big Oil. In 2006, McCain voted for the conference report on H.R. 4297, which included $5 billion in tax breaks for big oil. McCain voted for the conference report, even though Republicans added back in two tax loopholes that have allowed the oil industry to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. The conference report passed 54-44. [H.R. 4297, Vote #118, 5/11/2006]

McCain Voted To Allow Oil Drilling In The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 1995, McCain voted multiple times in favor of amendments to the extreme GOP budget (HR 2491) to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling. McCain also voted for the final Senate and conference versions of the bill, which contained language to allow oil drilling in the ANWR. President Clinton vetoed this extreme GOP budget bill. [Senate CQ Vote# 190, 5/24/95; Senate CQ Vote# 525, 10/27/95; Senate CQ Vote# 556, 10/28/95; Senate CQ Vote# 584, 11/17/95;]

McCain Voted Against American Consumers and for Rich Oil Companies... TWICE. In 2005, McCain twice voted against legislation that would have temporarily taxed oil company profits and provided consumers with a tax credit. [Senate Roll Call Vote #341, 11/17/05; Senate Roll Call Vote #331, 11/17/05]

McCain Voted Against Renewable Energy Technology. In 2001, McCain voted against establishing tax credits for investments in renewable energy technologies, incentives for new energy efficient residential construction and tax deductions for increased energy efficiency in commercial buildings. The motion failed 43-56. [H.R. 1836, Vote #125, 5/21/2001]

McCain Voted Against Protecting National Park Land from Oil Drilling and Exploration. In 2001, McCain voted to kill an amendment prohibiting the use of funds for the pre-leasing or leasing of oil and gas, or other exploration activities within lands designated as national monuments. The motion to kill failed 42-57. [H.R. 2217, Vote #229, 7/11/2001]

And lest we forget, McCain told us that the U.S. war in Iraq is for oil:

Are you really going to believe this snake-oil salesman?

I'm voting Republican

This is just brilliant. From YouTube:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oh, McCain

This is a brilliant, Schoolhouse Rock-style parody of John McCain's Straight Talk Express. From YouTube:

New DNC video on McCain's "not too important" gaffe

The Democratic Party was especially quick in creating this new web video showing Republican presidential candidate John McCain's latest "not too important" gaffe. From YouTube:

McCain: Brining troops home from Iraq is "Not too important"

Johnny-Boy McCain is really losing it now. It is bad enough that John McCain wants American troops to be fighting in Iraq for another 100 years, but now McCain feels that bringing American troops home from Iraq is "Not too important!" From YouTube:

That's right--forget about bringing home American soldiers so that they can be reunited with their children, their spouses, their parents, and friends--just extend their deployments for another hundred years! McCain tries to sidestep the issue, saying that reducing American casualties in Iraq is more important that bringing the troops home, and again trying to link deployment of American forces in Iraq with the deployment of American forces in South Korea, Japan and Germany. John McCain still doesn't get it. American forces stationed in Iraq are an occupation force, to maintain control of the country and its oil resources. These U.S. soldiers embark on combat patrols in Iraq to hunt for insurgents or terrorists, or they will be used in support for Iraqi government troops in their own fight against extremist. You don't see American troops embarking on combat patrols in Japan or Germany (I would imagine American soldiers patrol the DMZ in South Korea). What I'm saying here is that American forces were stationed in Germany, Japan and South Korea as a Cold War deterrent against a Russian or North Korean invasion of these three countries. These American forces are not an occupation force, nor are American soldiers being attacked in these host countries as they are in Iraq. And yet McCain is still trying to link the American occupation of Iraq with the American military presence in these three countries. What is worst is that the biggest move that John McCain could make to reduce American casualties in Iraq is to remove these American combat forces from Iraq--yet John McCain rejects this proposal as being "not too important."

John McCain is an idiot.

Update: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a statement responding to McCain's remarks that bringing American troops home from Iraq are "not too important" Reid's statement:

“McCain’s statement today that withdrawing troops doesn’t matter is a crystal clear indicator that he just doesn’t get the grave national-security consequences of staying the course – Osama bin Laden is freely plotting attacks, our efforts in Afghanistan are undermanned, and our military readiness has been dangerously diminished. We need a smart change in strategy to make America more secure, not a commitment to indefinitely keep our troops in an intractable civil war.”

Update 2: Steve Benen over at Carpetbagger has posted a four-stages of grief the McCain campaign is in as they attempt to spin a justification for McCain's "not too important" line. Benen states that it is "truly entertaining" to watch "the McCain campaign struggle to come up with a coherent response. It’s almost consistent with the five stages of grief." And Benen lays out the four stages of grief--denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. Will the McCain campaign reach the final stage of acceptance? Benen makes an interesting case in linking this political spin as being parts of a stage of grief. I'm thinking that the McCain campaign were caught with their pants down after Johnny-Boy stuck his foot in his mouth with this "not too important" remark. And yes, the McCain campaign is spinning like a broken top, attempting to create any justification for this latest McCain remark. But as Benen states, the problem isn't that Americans want to hear their prospective candidate say that it is "not too important" for when the American troops will come home from Iraq. The real problem is that John McCain "actually believes what he said."

Update 4: Josh Marshall, over at Talking Points Memo, explains why McCain believes it is "not too important" for bringing the troops home:

Sometimes these references by McCain are treated as gaffes but they're not. This is what McCain believes: that we should have a long-term troop presence in Iraq to guarantee the survival of a pro-U.S. government and assert power in the region. That's not a crazy position. That's the position of the current administration. That's why we're currently trying to secure an agreement with the Iraqis to ratify that goal. The problem isn't that McCain's position is incomprehensible. It's just not popular. Most Americans think reducing casualties is important too. But they'd like to do both -- reduce casualties and leave too.

The problem for the McCain campaign is that he keeps stumbling into clear statements of his actual policy, which is close to lethal since the vast majority of Americans disagree with his policy and Iraq is virtually the only thing he's running on. The context the McCain campaign keeps trying to put forward after the fact is what they wished he'd said rather than what he did. And even that, when you push deep, isn't that different from McCain's actual policy, which is that he doesn't think we should be leaving Iraq for years to come, most likely decades.

John McCain supports the Bush administration's war in Iraq. If he is elected, he will continue that war until he is voted out in 2012, or continues on in a second term until 2016. John McCain actually believes in this war in Iraq, and will continue it during his administration. The problem for the McCain campaign is trying to present John McCain's pro-war stance to an American public that is opposed to the war. So the McCain campaign is stressing the importance of reducing American casualties in Iraq, over the American publics' desire for brining the troops home.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

McCain will veto every single beer in this country

And that is a campaign promise you can take to the toilet. From YouTube:

Has Johnny-Boy been downing a few brewskies?

Conservatives for Obama

This is a fascinating story through revealing why conservatives may just vote for Democratic candidate Barack Obama:

A high-profile Boston University professor is prominently mentioned in the latest look at the phenomenon of "Obamacons" -- well-known conservatives, many of them Republicans, who have publicly declared they will vote for Democrat Barack Obama.

The article in the current issue of The New Republic magazine says that Andrew J. Bacevich's pro-Obama piece, published in March in The American Conservative, is the "seminal Obamacon manifesto."

In that piece, Bacevich argues that conservative revival depends on a US withdrawal from Iraq, which Obama supports -- and Republican John McCain vehemently opposes.

"Barack Obama is no conservative," Bacevich starts his article. "Yet if he wins the Democratic nomination, come November principled conservatives may well find themselves voting for the senator from Illinois. Given the alternatives -- and the state of the conservative movement -- they could do worse.

"The essential point is this: conservatives intent on voting in November for a candidate who shares their views might as well plan on spending Election Day at home," Bacevich continues. "The Republican Party of Bush, Cheney, and McCain no longer accommodates such a candidate.

"So why consider Obama? For one reason only: because this liberal Democrat has promised to end the U.S. combat role in Iraq. Contained within that promise, if fulfilled, lies some modest prospect of a conservative revival.

"For conservatives, Obama represents a sliver of hope. McCain represents none at all. The choice turns out to be an easy one,"
Bacevich concludes [My emphasis].

What Bacevich is trying to say is that Barack Obama will end the U.S. war in Iraq. When you have two-thirds of the American public opposed to the U.S. war in Iraq, you have to seriously wonder just how many conservatives will either vote for Obama in protest against the U.S. war in Iraq, or will stay home. Here I am not talking about the neo-cons or the 25-29 percent of Americans that still support President Bush. If conservatives do cross over to vote for Obama, they are going to be the moderate conservatives who no longer approve of the direction President Bush has sent this country, and that a vote for Senator John McCain will be a third Bush term.

Then again, the conservatives may end up staying home on Election Day, or may not even bother to vote for the presidential election.

One more comment here. Republican National Committee spokeswoman Blair Latoff responded to the Bacevich article, saying that conservatives will not "embrace a candidate who has voted 94 times -- once every five days the Senate was in session -- for higher taxes."

"Republicans, independents, and even some Democrats understand that John McCain’s independent leadership is what the country needs to tackle today’s challenges," Latoff said in a statement.

So how does the GOP respond to Bacevich's article saying that conservatives will vote for Obama because Obama will end the war in Iraq? By saying that Obama will raise your taxes! And John McCain has the independent leadership needed to "tackle today's challenges." Latoff never responded to the argument about conservatives voting for an end to the U.S. war in Iraq, because she knows that the Republican Party will continue this disastrous war under a McCain administration. So Latoff trots out this stale GOP argument that Obama will raise taxes, while failing to mention that the Republicans under King George The Deciderer, and John McCain, were responsible for running up a national credit card debt of a half trillion dollars just for the war. Not really the kind of people I would want in the Oval Office to "tackle today's challenges."

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Saturday Morning Cartoons--Devil May Hare

For today's Saturday Morning Cartoons, let us give a warm welcome to that "strong, murderous beast, jaws powerful as a steel-trap," The Tasmanian Devil in Devil May Hare. This is Taz's debut cartoon as he chases Bugs Bunny while Bugs attempts to help find Taz some dinner. Devil May Hare came out in 1954, and was directed by Robert McKimson. After the short film entered theaters, producer Edward Selzer, who was head of the Warner Brothers animation department, ordered McKimson to shelve Taz because Selzer thought the character was "too obnoxious." However, Jack Warner stepped in and told Selzer that he had recieved "boxes and boxes" of letters from people who liked Taz. Taz went on to even greater celebrity fame in the 1980s and 90s when Warner Brothers marketers tied his image to a slew of merchandise, making Taz one of the most recognizable Looney Tune stars. So it is time to sit back, make some growls, screeches, and raspberries, and enjoy our favorite devil in Devil May Hare. From YouTube:

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A night of speeches....

I've got three big speeches that took place last night at the end of the Democratic primary race. First up is Senator Barack Obama's victory speech after securing the Democratic nomination. From YouTube:

Next up is Senator Hillary Clinton's victory speech on the South Dakota primary. From YouTube:

And finally, we have Republican Senator John McCain giving a speech that night from Kenner Louisiana. From YouTube:


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Obama wins Democratic nomination

This is from The Washington Post:

Sen. Barack Obama claimed the Democratic nomination for president in a speech in Minnesota tonight -- an historic achievement that for the first time will place an African American at the top of a major political party's ticket.

"Tonight I can stand here and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States," Obama declared in his speech to a raucous crowd at the Xcel Center in St. Paul.

Obama went on to praise his Democratic opponents as "the most talented, qualified field of individuals ever to run for this office" and saved special plaudits for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.


Obama's nomination victory came on a night in which he and Clinton split the final two primaries: Obama winning in Montana and Clinton scoring a come-from-behind victory in South Dakota. South Dakota and Montana, which allocate a total of 31 delegates, brought the 2008 Democratic primary process to a close after five months of voting.


Obama needed 2,118 votes to win the nomination and, according to an estimate provided by his own campaign, he stood only eight delegates away from that goal. But, with the polls closed in the South Dakota primary and Obama nearly certain to win at least nine or ten delegates based on the proportional allocation of delegates, the term "presumptive nominee" is being attached to Obama by CNN, NBC and the Associated Press.

Obama's win in Montana, along with a surge of super delegates to support him, has placed this first African-American nominee of a major political party at the top of the Democratic Party ticket. Granted, he is still eight votes shy of the nomination, but he should easily get those delegates when South Dakota's delegates are proportioned according to the vote. This Democratic primary, which started in January 2007, is now over. It is time to look towards the general election and defeating Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

As for Hillary Clinton, she did finish her campaign with a win in South Dakota. She fought a long, hard, and spirited campaign. When Hillary Clinton started her campaign, she, and her advisers, thought that the message to sell to the American people was that Hillary Clinton was the candidate of experience. That was a sensible strategy back in January 2007. Barack Obama took the message to the American people that he was the candidate of change. Change won out over experience, but only in a very close and hard-fought race between both candidates. Hillary Clinton threw just about every negative attack against Obama in her kitchen sink strategy, and Obama was able to survive it. One thing about Hillary Clinton's negative attacks--at least she threw them out in the primary, allowing the Obama campaign to deflect them. Because you can bet that the Republicans will throw ten times as many negative attacks against Obama during the general election. The Obama campaign has gone through fire here, and should be prepared to face whatever the Republicans have to throw at Obama. Hillary Clinton utilized the standard campaign fund-raising strategies of tapping corporations and major Democratic donors for money. Obama tapped average Americans for small donations of$10, $25 or even $50 through the Internet, out-raising even the Clinton fund-raising machine. This was a serious campaign of change, both with the message and how such campaigns will be funded in the future. Hillary Clinton was running a presidential campaign that may have worked in 2000 or 2004, but the disastrous eight years of Bush administration scandals, incompetence, the continuing war in Iraq, the high energy and gas prices, and the serious economic problems the United States faces, requires new modes of thinking and the running of presidential campaigns. I would say that was Hillary Clinton's big failure, whereas Barack Obama was able to see ahead and run this mode of presidential campaign.

Now we will see whether Obama can beat the Republicans under John McCain.

Associated Press, ABC News claim Obama cinched Democratic nomination

I guess it was only a matter of time before before some news organizations wanted to publish the big non-scoop of Barack Obama cinching the Democratic nomination. From MSNBC News:

CHICAGO - Sen. Barack Obama clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, becoming the first black candidate to lead a major party into a campaign for the White House, The Associated Press reported based on its tally of delegates.

Obama arranged a victory celebration at the site of this summer’s Republican National Convention — an in-your-face gesture to Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who would be his opponent in the race to become the nation’s 44th president.

Obama, 46, of Illinois, bested Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York in a historic campaign that sparked record turnouts in primary after primary, yet exposed deep racial and gender divisions within the party.

The AP said Obama sealed his victory based on public declarations from delegates as well as from an additional 22 who had confirmed their intentions to the news service. The count also included five delegates Obama was guaranteed as long as he gained 15 percent of the vote in South Dakota and Montana later in the day.

NBC News has been maintaining its own tally of delegates, which showed Obama’s being 11 delegates short of the 2,118 needed. NBC News said it would not confirm Obama as the presumptive nominee until all private commitments by delegates were made public.

So the Associated Press is declaring Barack Obama the winner based on both "public declarations" from delegates, and another 22 delegates "who had confirmed their intentions to the news services." These 22 delegates may have privately told the AP that they were throwing their support for Obama, but they may not have publicly confirmed it. Whereas, NBC News is counting only the super delegates that have publicly confirmed their support for Obama. The AP is also adding in the five delegates "Obama was guaranteed as long as he gained 15 percent of the vote in South Dakota and Montana later in the day." In other words, the Associated Press is playing the speculation game here in an attempt to scoop the story before we know the final primary election results.

Now let us go to ABC News, and their declaration of Obama being the winner:

Based on the preliminary exit polls and our reporting, ABC News projects Sen. Barack Obama will have enough delegates to secure the Democratic nomination after the votes from the final primary contests are counted tonight.

Obama, D-Ill., is within 9 delegates of the 2,118 needed to clinch the Democratic nomination for president and is expected to win an additional number of delegates in the final primary contests and further superdelegate endorsements Tuesday.

ABC News is basing their scoop on preliminary exit polls, saying first that Obama will have enough delegates to secure the Democratic nomination. But then ABC News claims that Obama is within only 9 delegates of the 2,118 to cinch the nomination. Excuse me, ABC News, but you have contradicted yourself in your zeal to scoop the story. Has Obama won either Montana and South Dakota in order to gain enough delegates to secure the nomination? Not yet, although I will admit that Obama is close to securing the nomination. What we are seeing here are mainstream news organizations trying to claim they are the first in breaking the big story of the first African-American to win the Democratic nomination for president, even though we all know that Obama will probably win the nomination later tonight.

Of course, ABC News also provides this little news detail:

Clinton is planning to address supporters in New York tonight but is not expected to drop out of the race, a senior Clinton campaign official who is involved in drafting tonight's speech told ABC News' Kate Snow earlier Tuesday.

"She is spending the coming days making the case to superdelegates and unpledged delegates as to why she is the strongest candidate against John McCain," a Clinton campaign official said.

Clinton will give another speech after tonight where she will withdraw from the race, according to officials.

ABC News probably got suckered into this contradiction. First they claim that Hillary Clinton will address supporters in New York, but will not drop out of the race, and then ABC claims that Clinton will give another speech after tonight, where she will drop out of the race. Looking at this contradiction, I'd say that the Clinton campaign doesn't know what they will do after the results come in from Montana and South Dakota. At this moment, the campaign is desperately trying to gain support from the remaining super delegates. Once Obama gains the 2,118 delegates for the nomination, then Clinton will have to decide when to drop out. So there is a rampant amount of speculation and buzz taking place on this final primary day, but the absolute, final results have yet to be posted.

It is only a matter of time.

Clinton open to being Obama's running mate

From Reuters News:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday she's open to the possibility of being Barack Obama's vice presidential running mate, a Democratic party aide said.

Clinton, who appears on the verge of losing the Democratic presidential nomination to Obama, made the comment in a conference call with fellow members of New York's congressional delegation, the aide said.

The party aide quoted Clinton as saying, when asked about being Obama's running mate: "I am open to it."

We are now getting into the negotiations between the Obama and Clinton camps over what role Hillary Clinton will play in the Obama campaign. Clinton obviously knows that she is not going to win the Democratic nomination for president, so she is extending the possibility of campaigning as Obama's running mate. I've talked about the possibilities of a Clinton / Obama ticket here and here. Looking at the pros and cons of a unified ticket, I thought that the biggest con would be bringing Bill Clinton back into the White House. I'm not sure that is a good idea, if a President Barack Obama can not control a former vice president as a de facto part of the White House staff. I like the idea of Hillary Clinton as Senate Majority Leader, or in a cabinet-level position like Health and Human services, or even as a Supreme Court Justice (That would send the hard-lined conservatives and Religious Right into convulsions).

But still, a unified Obama / Clinton ticket would do wonders in bringing together both campaigns and energizing the Democratic Party in its focus on attacking Republican John McCain during the general election. The Obama campaign will have to think long and hard on this position.

Obama poised to claim victory

That is the headline from Reuters News:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Barack Obama was close to clinching the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday, gaining support from a steady parade of uncommitted delegates and pushing rival Hillary Clinton to the verge of defeat.

A dozen superdelegates -- party officials free to back any candidate at the August nominating convention -- announced their support for Obama, putting him within 30 delegates of the 2,118 he needs.

The Illinois senator, who would be the first black nominee of a major U.S. political party, hopes to clinch the honor after polls close in the final two contests in Montana and South Dakota. Those states have 31 delegates at stake.

I think what is happening with the Obama campaign is that Barack Obama is trying to get enough super delegates to commit to him before the Montana and South Dakota primaries close down. Then if Obama can get enough pledged delegates from these two states to send him over 2,118 top, he could then claim victory with the pledged delegates from both states, rather than having the super delegates give him the win. It is all about political PR here.

Now over at the Clinton campaign, there is some serious top-spinning:

The Clinton campaign said she did not plan to concede to Obama at a New York rally later on Tuesday.

"The nomination fight goes on until somebody gets the magic number and that isn't there today and that is not at all what Senator Clinton is going to talk about tonight," Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe told CNN.


Clinton and her campaign have sent mixed signals over the last two days about how long she would stay in a presidential race that she began as a heavy favorite but now has little chance of winning.

Campaigning in South Dakota, she said the end of the voting marked "the beginning of a new phase of the campaign" in which she will seek to convince superdelegates that she would be the strongest candidate against McCain in November.

With no more campaign trips to plan, workers who handle Clinton's advance travel arrangements have been told to go to New York or head home until further notice, aides said.

I'm guessing that the Clinton campaign will try one last hope of convincing the super delegates that she is the better candidate, even as Obama is about ready to cinch the nomination. In other words, the campaign spin is nothing more than the Clinton campaign grasping at straws here. Will she take this race all the way to the convention? I can't say. Perhaps over the next couple of days she may try to convince the super delegates to vote for her, but Hillary Clinton will have to end her campaign this week if Obama does get the 2,118 delegates. This is a last-minute sprint for both campaigns to get the last remaining delegates and super delegates. Once one candidate achieves the goal of gaining support of 2,118 pledged and super delegates, then the race is over. And Barack Obama is very close to that finish line. But until the Obama campaign reaches the 2,118 magic number, I'm not concerned if Hillary Clinton wants to continue her campaign. It will only be after Obama succeeds in gaining the 2,118 delegates that Hillary Clinton must concede, and drop out of the race.

So on to Montana and South Dakota!

Republican denied communion for supporting Obama

If there is ever a reason why religion should stay out of politics, this example clearly defines it. From The Washington Post:

Word spread like wildfire in Catholic circles: Douglas Kmiec, a staunch Republican, firm foe of abortion and veteran of the Reagan Justice Department, had been denied Communion.

His sin? Kmiec, a Catholic who can cite papal pronouncements with the facility of a theological scholar, shocked old friends and adversaries alike earlier this year by endorsing Barack Obama for president. For at least one priest, Kmiec's support for a pro-choice politician made him a willing participant in a grave moral evil.

Kmiec was denied Communion in April at a Mass for a group of Catholic business people he later addressed at dinner. The episode has not received wide attention outside the Catholic world, but it is the opening shot in an argument that could have a large impact on this year's presidential campaign: Is it legitimate for bishops and priests to deny Communion to those supporting candidates who favor abortion rights?

This is a disturbing question to enter into because the Church is using its power to deny religious services to individuals simply on the matter of political views. This issue was already brought out in 2004, when the Catholic Church was questioning whether to deny Communion to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry because of Kerry's pro-choice positions. If you thought 2004 was bad, the issue with Kmiec is even worst:

The Kmiec incident poses the question in an extreme form: He is not a public official but a voter expressing a preference. Moreover, Kmiec -- a law professor at Pepperdine University and once dean of Catholic University's law school -- is a long-standing critic of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision.

Kmiec, who was head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in the late 1980s, is supporting Obama despite the candidate's position on abortion, not because of it, partly in the hope that Obama's emphasis on personal responsibility in sexual matters might change the nature of the nation's argument on life issues.

This is just outrageous! The Catholic Church denied Kmiec Communion because Kmiec expressed a preference of one political candidate that the Catholic Church opposes! This is not a public official running for office, but a voter expressing a preference! And the Catholic Church has denied Kmiec religious services on the basis of Kmiec's voting preference. Is this the new prerequisites for applying to a church--not only must you vote for the church's political ideology, but the church can now punish you if your voter preferences are out of line with the church?

I can accept churches providing spiritual guidance, moral advice, or even giving the Word of God to their followers--regardless of whatever denomination they are. But when a religious organization--a church--demands that its members must vote according to a particular political platform, or threatens punishment upon its members for considering views that the church opposes, then I don't consider such a church as a religious organization--it has become a political organization expressing a political ideology, or particular political candidates. It should be treated as a political organization--especially with the removal of their religious tax-exempt status.

I'm starting to wonder if this is another test case to see just how far the Catholic Church can force their members to vote according to the Church's political positions. Because the Catholic Church has made this threat before:

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City has played an indirect role in the 2008 campaign by calling on Kathleen Sebelius, the popular Democratic governor of Kansas who has been mentioned as a possible Obama running mate, to stop taking Communion because of her "actions in support of legalized abortion."

But because Kmiec is a private citizen and has such a long history of embracing Catholic teaching on abortion, denying him Communion for political reasons may spark an even greater outcry inside the church.

Kmiec says he is grateful because the episode reminded him of the importance of the Eucharist in his spiritual life, and because he hopes it will alert others to the dangers of "using Communion as a weapon."

The Catholic Church needs to be stopped from engaging in this atrocious behavior.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Hillary Clinton wins Puerto Rico!

This isn't much of a surprise here, considering that Clinton was expected to win in Puerto Rico, but a win is a win. From The Washington Post:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton claimed a convincing win over Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) in today's Puerto Rico primary, a victory that may well be her last in her fading bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Polls closed in Puerto Rico at 3 p.m. Eastern time and the race was called for Clinton almost immediately by the major television networks and the Associated Press.

For Clinton, the win provides a quick bounce-back from her campaign's resounding setback on Saturday at the hands of the Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee, which ruled in Obama's favor in a dispute over the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegations, but does little to change the overarching dynamic of the primary fight.

While Clinton will win a clear majority of Puerto Rico's 55 delegates, she will still stand well behind Obama in the overall count. Coming into today's vote, Obama had 2,052 delegates, 66 short of clinching the nomination. Clinton had a total of 1,877 delegates.

Clinton launched new ads in South Dakota and Montana on Sunday asserting that she is the popular vote leader, securing more votes than any previous primary candidate. "Some say there isn't a single reason for Hillary to be the Democratic nominee," says the ad's narrator. "They're right. There are over 17 million of them."

Bill Burton, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, responded by noting that "both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have gotten more votes than any presidential campaign in primary history", adding: "We are, however, ahead in the popular vote now and will be ahead when all of the votes are counted Tuesday."

According to Real Clear Politics, Obama actually has 166,186 vote lead over Clinton in the popular vote -- 17,267,658 to 17,101,472. If Michigan's primary is included, where Clinton received 328,307 votes and Obama none due to the fact he removed his name from the ballot, Clinton takes a 162,123 vote lead.

The popular vote debate is largely a semantic and symbolic one at this point, however, as the nominee for the party is selected by delegates and Obama appears to be all-but-certain to reach the magic number of 2,118 sometime soon after Tuesday's primaries in South Dakota and Montana.

What I find especially amazing is that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama generated over 17 million votes each in the states' primaries and caucuses. Both candidates fought hard battles against each other, creating an incredibly energized and enthusiastic Democratic voting base that supported both of these candidates. We're looking at a combined 34 million Democratic votes here--an incredible number for a primary battle. I would certainly hope that those same 34 million Democratic voters will come back to send a Democrat into the White House after eight years of a disastrous Bush presidency.

How, or when, will Hillary Clinton end this race?

This is from The New York Times:

The big drama now facing the Democratic Party in the presidential contest is how, when and even whether Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton will depart the race.

The contest is coming to a close as Puerto Rico votes on Sunday and Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday, finishing a process that began five months ago in Iowa. Even if those results do not put Senator Barack Obama over the top, aides to both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton said they expected enough superdelegates to rally behind Mr. Obama in the 48 hours after the final primaries to allow him to proclaim himself the nominee.


Mrs. Clinton has kept her counsel about what she might do to draw her campaign to a close. But when the rules committee of the Democratic Party divided up delegates from Michigan and Florida on Saturday night, Harold Ickes, a committee member and Clinton adviser, said she was reserving the right to contest the decision into the summer.

Still, despite the fireworks, Mrs. Clinton’s associates said she seemed to have come to terms over the last week with the near certainty that she would not win the nomination, even as she continued to assert, with what one associate described as subdued resignation, that the Democrats are making a mistake in sending Mr. Obama up against Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee.

Perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel. The Puerto Rico primary is being held today, and the Montana and South Dakota primaries will be held on Tuesday. Barack Obama will need around 63 delegates in order to cinch the nomination. Hillary Clinton needs around 238 delegates. Hillary Clinton is staring at the end of this long, hard-fought, close race, with Barack Obama becoming the nominee.

So the question for Hillary Clinton will be how will she exit this race? According to the NY Times:

Her associates said the most likely outcome was that she would end her bid with a speech, probably back home in New York, in which she would endorse Mr. Obama. Mrs. Clinton herself suggested on Friday that the contest would end sometime next week.

Assuming Mr. Obama reaches the number of delegates and superdelegates he needs to secure the nomination in the coming week, Mrs. Clinton will be faced with three options, associates said: to suspend her campaign and endorse Mr. Obama; to suspend her campaign without making an endorsement; or to press the fight through the convention. Several of Mrs. Clinton’s associates said it was unlikely she would fight through the convention, given the potential damage it would do to her standing in the party, which is increasingly eager to unify and turn to the battle against Mr. McCain.

Mrs. Clinton would almost surely face the defection of some of her highest-profile supporters, as well as some members of her staff. She would no doubt also face anger from Democratic leaders.

“In order for us to be successful in November, the runner-up is going to have to go all out in support of the nominee,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “The runner-up is going to have to be there from Day One. The support is going to have to be more than just lip service.”

The best outcome would be for Clinton to continue campaigning through Tuesday, and then go back to New York to end her campaign at her home state. As Clinton ends her campaign, she should immediately endorse Obama in an attempt to unify the Democratic Party and bring her supporters into the Obama camp for an even tougher showdown with Republican candidate Senator John McCain. To suspend her campaign without an Obama endorsement or to continue the nomination fight into the convention would certainly destroy her political standing within the Democratic Party, and create even more problems for the Democrats in unifying their party to attack McCain for the White House. Is Hillary Clinton willing to destroy the Democratic Party, and their best chance for taking the White House, out of sheer ambition? I hope not.

Already, both campaigns have shifted their strategies for this final week. According to the NY Times:

Mr. Obama has already turned his campaign away from Mrs. Clinton to face Mr. McCain. Mrs. Clinton is barely mentioned by Mr. Obama anymore, and his schedule is now focused as much on general election battlegrounds as it is on the remaining primaries. Mr. Obama is planning to mark the final election night of this primary season in St. Paul.

“That’s where the Republican convention is going to be,” said David Axelrod, the campaign’s chief strategist. “It seems like a good place to start the discussion about which direction we’re going to go as a country.”

Similarly, Mrs. Clinton and her aides have all but stopped their attacks on Mr. Obama, and the once vigorous Clinton war room has gone into a slumber.

Indeed, the talk in Mrs. Clinton’s headquarters has turned from the primary to more mundane matters: the next job, whom Mr. Obama might hire from the Clinton campaign, and even where to go on vacation.

All of this is good news for the Democrats. Obama can concentrate on the general election campaign without having to face attacks from Clinton. Clinton can continue to campaign on her own signature issues for the next couple of days until she decides to exit the race. Both candidates have stopped their attacks against each other as they turn towards the general election campaign. Clinton's chief strategist Howard Wolfson has hinted that Clinton will not carry the campaign fight into the convention. If this is true, then it tells us that Clinton knows the nomination fight is just about over, and that Barack Obama will be the nominee. Clinton will drop out in her own time and choosing over this next week.

Another piece of important information to consider is that both the Clinton and Obama camps are starting to talk to each other:

While there are sore feelings on both sides, Mr. Obama has directed his aides to begin reaching out to their counterparts in the Clinton camp.

Mr. Obama’s advisers said he would make no formal statement of victory, with the assumption that the moment would be elaborately marked by the media.

With this primary race just about ending, there is certainly hurt, anger, and sore feelings in both camps. Both campaigns will need to join together for the general election push against McCain. It is a good sign that Obama will not make any formal statement of victory, which would certainly anger the Clinton supporters. The Clinton supporters will also need to realize that this race isn't over with this nomination fight, and that their support will be needed if the Democrats are to take the White House in November. Here is where the negotiations between the two campaigns will be especially important in considering what role Hillary Clinton will play in the Obama campaign--be it a vice presidential ticket, a potential Senate Majority leader, or whatever. We could be looking at the start of the reconciliation between both campaigns with the new focus of taking down John McCain in November.

Update: Hillary Clinton conceded the Democratic nomination for president to Barack Obama on Saturday, June 7, 2008. You can watch Clinton's concession speech here on YouTube:

McCain's YouTube problem just became a nightmare

Here is a wicked YouTube video showing John McCain's worst nightmare:

And this Los Angeles Times story provides some interesting back story on McCain's YouTube nightmare:

The video lasts just more than three minutes. But that's long enough to raise some nasty doubts about John McCain's reputation as a straight talker.

There's the Arizona senator arguing both sides of President Bush's tax cuts. Here's the supposed foreign policy wizard flubbing the simple facts about which terrorists are being trained in Iran. He's even ducking his own admission that he needs to learn more about economics.

The newsreel of McCain lowlights has zoomed up the YouTube charts in the last week, with more than 1.5 million views. “John McCain’s YouTube Problem Just Became a Nightmare” is the video's title, which might be dismissed as partisan hype but for one thing: It's true.

The presumed Republican presidential nominee is taking a serious drubbing on YouTube, the most popular video-sharing service on the Internet and the virtual town square for millions of new young voters.

Search "John McCain" on YouTube and you'll find the latest broadside, by Brave New Films of Culver City, and a lot more that's not good for a candidate who's built his reputation on constancy and authenticity.

There's McCain stumbling over a debate question and, worse, his cringe-worthy answer wickedly paired with the hapless Miss Teen USA contestant who went blank on a query about Americans and geography.

There's McCain seemingly on the verge of swallowing his tongue, so great is his discomfort when Ellen DeGeneres asks him why women like her shouldn't be allowed to marry other women.

Six of the top 10 videos returned by a "John McCain" YouTube search Thursday pegged the 71-year-old as inconsistent, extreme, wooden or a combination of the three. (The one clearly favorable piece came from the McCain campaign and focused on his Navy service.)

Contrast that with a YouTube search of "Barack Obama." It's a swoon fest, with virtually all of the top entries featuring the Illinois senator at his eloquent, uplifting best. The videos range from the pop-icon worship of Scarlett Johansson and John Legend & Co. in “Yes We Can” (closing in on 13 million views) to a clip of the candidate's speech on race after the explosion over the controversial sermons of his onetime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.

That 37-minute political speech has logged 4.5 million views, a phenomenal number in a Web world more fixated on "American Idol" rejects and piano-playing cats.

With about five months to go before the general election, Obama will face his own uncomfortable video moments. Elsewhere in the fractured media universe, say AM talk radio, he'll feel the heat.

But that doesn't mean Republicans aren't worried about the YouTube imbalance.

"This is another example of the generation gap that the Republicans are facing. And that gap is morphing into a chasm," said Frank Luntz, a veteran GOP pollster. Yes, many of the young video viewers are already committed to Obama, but watching and even making the short films has turned the merely amused into the deeply committed.

"You activate them and engage them in a way you haven't before, up to and including on election day," Luntz said. "I think this is a critical part of Obama's appeal."

Liberal filmmakers have become as aggressive in promoting their work as in making it. Witness Brave New Films, formed by entertainment industry veterans who have enough time and financial security to devote themselves to political activism. The outfit relies on an e-mail list of more than 400,000, aggressive outreach to social networking sites and a full-time blog liaison specialist to help promote the films.

It use to be that political attack ads were produced either by the political campaigns themselves, or by political organizations that supported one particular candidate over the other (Think Swiftboat Veterans for Truth). But the explosion of YouTube has turned the political campaign commercial, and the attack ads, on its head. Now anyone with a computer, video editing software, and a huge supply of Tivoed speeches and news appearances by a candidate, can create their own political campaign commercial, upload it to YouTube, and generate some serious buzz. It is not just creating campaign commercials here with YouTube. Even more damaging are the individuals watching and recording the 24-hour news channels, waiting to catch the presidential candidate's next flub, lie, or inconsistency, and then quickly posting it on YouTube. It is there for everyone to watch, and consider.