Monday, March 31, 2008

'The New Obama Strategy: Clinton Should Stay In The Race'

From Big Tent Democrat.

The Obama camp got smart:

As she endorsed Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's presidential bid Monday morning, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar rebuked fellow Democrats who are pressuring New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to cede the party's nomination. "I believe that Sen. Clinton should remain in this race," Klobuchar told reporters in a conference call announcing her decision to back Obama. "I don't agree with some of my colleagues' comments this week.

Ok. At least someone has some good sense in the Obama camp. More so than that displayed by some Obama supporters.

'McCain, Obama in spat'

From Salon's War Room.

If you think Barack Obama will be the eventual Democratic nominee and are looking for a good example of the themes and rhetoric we can expect to become intimately familiar with over the next few months, Monday provided a good, concise blueprint.

Speaking to reporters Monday, John McCain took after Obama, hitting the Illinois Senator, unsurprisingly, on the issue of experience, especially when it comes to national security. McCain said Obama "displays a fundamental misunderstanding of history and how we’ve maintained national security, and what we need to do in the future to maintain our security in the face of the transcendent challenge of radical Islamic extremism. And I understand that because he has no experience or background in any of it... [The American people will] understand over time if they don’t know that he has no experience or background on these issues."

The Obama camp wasn't about to take that lying down. In a statement e-mailed to reporters, spokesman Bill Burton said:

Barack Obama doesn't need any lectures from John McCain, who has consistently misunderstood American national security and the history of the Middle East in arguing for an invasion and 100-year occupation of a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. Instead of spending trillions of dollars on permanent bases that the Iraqis don't want and that won't keep the American people safe, Barack Obama will end the war in Iraq and finally press Iraq's leaders to take responsibility for their future.

'Too Dumb To Fail'

Short but sweet article on the government bail-out of Bear Stearns. Explains everything succinctly.

Rescuing failing companies obviously runs the risk of creating moral hazard—if we insulate people from the consequences of their irresponsibility, they’re more likely to be irresponsible in the future. But the Fed did a good job of lessening that risk, making sure that Bear suffered a heavy toll. The sale punished Bear shareholders severely, valuing Bear at just two dollars a share, down from sixty dollars a few days before, while thousands of Bear employees are likely to lose their jobs. That’s about as harsh as a bailout gets. . . .

Amazing Elephant Paints Self-Portrait

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hillary hot in Kentucky

Found at The Left Coaster (in the post linked to directly below) (proof that "Hillary Continues Her Campaign to Destroy The Democratic Party").

Josh Marshall outed as Obama supporter

Joshua Marshall at TPM, while not overtly coming out as an Obama supporter, has been using sleazy tactics at his media outlets to manipulate public opinion against Hillary Clinton. This is, in a word, dishonest. (Maybe he's afraid he'll lose readership if he comes out and admits it, but that's hardly an excuse.)

Read the compilation of links in the sentence below, which I extracted from this post.

Josh Marshall in particular will surely be able to help quite a bit.

Here's the second one, for example (it's very short), by Big Tent Democrat at Talk Left:

TPM Comes Clean: Accepts Its Partisan Obama Site Status

This post proves it. Doing a mashup attack video used to be something reserved for Republicans from Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo. By doing an attack video on Hillary Clinton, TPM demonstrates that not only has it become an Obama site, it is one of the most virulent and unfair of such sites. The honesty is good. After all, like Nancy Pelosi, we all knew this. What was lacking was the candor to admit it. With his latest tactics, Marshall has ostensibly admitted what we all knew anyway. Pelosi should follow suit.

Now if only NBC will admit the same.

'Women Push Back in Support of Clinton'

Story here.

Mar 30th, 2008 NEW ALBANY, Ind. -- Debra Starks has heard the calls for Hillary Rodham Clinton to quit the presidential race, and she's not happy about it.

The 53-year old Wal-Mart clerk, so bedecked with Clinton campaign buttons most days that friends call her "Button Lady," thinks sexism is playing a role in efforts to push the New York senator from the race. Starks wants Clinton to push back."

The way I look at it, she's a strong woman and she needs to stay in there. She needs to fight," Starks said at a Clinton campaign rally. "If you want to be president, you have to fight for what you want. If she stays in there and does what she's supposed to do, I think she'll be on her way."

Amid mounting calls from top Democrats for Clinton to step aside and clear the path for rival Barack Obama, strategists are warning of damage to the party's chances in November if women — who make up the majority of Democratic voters nationwide, but especially the older, white working-class women who've long formed the former first lady's base — sense a mostly male party establishment is unfairly muscling Clinton out of the race. . . .

"My e-mail is bursting with women who are furious, and it's grown in the last week," said Ann Lewis, Clinton's director of women's outreach and a longtime Democratic activist. . . .

In California, Clinton bested Obama by a margin of 59 percent to 36 percent among women. She beat him by 54 percent to 45 percent among women in Ohio, an important general election battleground state. . . .

"My attitude is Senator Clinton can run as long as she wants," Obama said in Pennsylvania, which holds its primary April 22. . . .

Clinton insists she's in it to the end, saying a "spirited contest" is good for the party and ultimately will produce a stronger nominee.

"There are millions of reasons to continue this race: people in Pennsylvania, Indiana and North Carolina, and all of the contests yet to come," she told reporters Friday in Hammond, Ind. "This is a very close race and clearly I believe strongly that everyone should have their voices heard and their votes counted." . . .

"Women have always been asked to step aside if it was somehow for the greater good. In this case, Clinton, and a lot of her female supporters, clearly feel that she would make the better president and that it would not be for the greater good for her to step aside," Wilson said.

Why Edwards hasn't endorsed Obama

From Joan Walsh at Salon.

"In the days after John Edwards's withdrawal from the Democratic race, the political world expected his endorsement of Barack Obama would be forthcoming tout de suite. The neo-populist and the hopemonger had spent months tag-teaming Hillary Clinton, pillorying her as a creature of the status quo, not a champion of the kind of 'big change' they both deem essential. So appalled was Edwards at Clinton's gaudy corporatism -- her defense of the role of lobbyists, her suckling at the teats of the pharmaceutical and defense industries -- that he'd essentially called her corrupt. And then, not least, there were the sentiments of his wife. 'Elizabeth hasn’t always been crazy about Mrs. Clinton' is how an Edwards insider puts it; a less delicate member of HRC’s circle says, 'Elizabeth hates her guts.'

"But now two months have passed since Edwards dropped out -- tempus fugit! -- and still no endorsement. Why? According to a Democratic strategist unaligned with any campaign but with knowledge of the situation gleaned from all three camps, the answer is simple: Obama blew it. Speaking to Edwards on the day he exited the race, Obama came across as glib and aloof. His response to Edwards's imprecations that he make poverty a central part of his agenda was shallow, perfunctory, pat. Clinton, by contrast, engaged Edwards in a lengthy policy discussion. Her affect was solicitous and respectful. When Clinton met Edwards face-to-face in North Carolina ten days later, her approach continued to impress; she even made headway with Elizabeth. Whereas in his Edwards sit-down, Obama dug himself in deeper, getting into a fight with Elizabeth about health care, insisting that his plan is universal (a position she considers a crock), high-handedly criticizing Clinton’s plan (and by extension Edwards’s) for its insurance mandate."

Surrender, Dorothy?


Maureen Dowd:

Despite Bill Clinton’s saying it was “a bunch of bull” that his wife should drop out, Democrats are trying to sneak up on Hillary, throw a burlap sack over her head, carry her off the field and stick her in a Saddam spider hole until after the Denver convention.

One Obama adviser moaned that the race was “beginning to feel like a hostage crisis” and would probably go on for another month to six weeks. And Obama said that the “God, when will this be over?” primary season was like “a good movie that lasted about a half an hour too long.”

Hillary sunnily riposted that she likes long movies. Her favorite as a girl was “The Wizard of Oz,” so surely she spots the “Surrender Dorothy” sign in the sky and the bad portent of the ladies of “The View” burbling to Obama about how sexy he is.

But who knows? Obama and Bob Casey talking March Madness to the patrons of Sharky’s sports cafe in Latrobe, Pa., on Friday night seemed demographically clever. But it is always when Hillary is pushed back by the boys that women help hoist her up.

Obama, like the preternaturally gifted young heroes in mythical tales, is still learning to channel his force. He can ensorcell when he has to, and he has viral appeal. Who else could alchemize a nuanced 40-minute speech on race into must-see YouTube viewing for 20-year-olds?

But at several crucial points in the last year, he held back when he should have poured on, leaving his nemesis around to damage him further. . . .

It’s not certain that Obama could bring about an American renaissance. As the L.A. entertainment lawyer Nancy McCullough, who was on the Harvard Law Review with Obama, told Vanity Fair’s Todd Purdum, he tended to wallow in words. She said he was so intent on letting everyone have a say that “I actually would have been happier for him to say sometimes, ‘This is how we’re doing this, and shut up!’ ” . . .

McCain's economic advisor 'father of financial crisis'

From Paul Krugman's blog.

Aha: the Politico notices that Phil Gramm, McCain’s economic guru, can also be viewed as the father of the financial crisis.

The general co-chairman of John McCain’s presidential campaign, former Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas), led the charge in 1999 to repeal a Depression-era banking regulation law that Democrat Barack Obama claimed on Thursday contributed significantly to today’s economic turmoil. . . .

According to federal lobbying disclosure records, Gramm lobbied Congress, the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department about banking and mortgage issues in 2005 and 2006.

During those years, the mortgage industry pressed Congress to roll back strong state rules that sought to stem the rise of predatory tactics used by lenders and brokers to place homeowners in high-cost mortgages.

Where have I seen that before? Ah:

His chief economic adviser is former Senator Phil Gramm, a fervent advocate of financial deregulation. In fact, I’d argue that aside from Alan Greenspan, nobody did as much as Mr. Gramm to make this crisis possible.

Seriously, the Gramm connection tells you all you need to know about where a McCain administration would stand on financial issues: squarely against any significant reform.

I'm tired of this narrative

From the Obama-leaning Guardian (UK) ("Clinton rejects calls to quit") (as if she's doing something wrong):

The prospect of a continuing battle has many leading Democrats deeply worried. They are concerned that the Republican nominee, John McCain, is already airing TV ads and touring the country to boost his cause, while the Democrats seem set to fight more primaries through April, May and into June. The increasingly bitter and brutally aggressive tone of the race has also raised the prospect that the winner will emerge as a deeply wounded candidate trying to lead a divided party.

Let the voting continue as planned. Don't disenfranchise people who haven't yet voted. (That would really cause a stink.) It ain't over till it's over.

Also, I can't see how it must be true that the winner will emerge "as a deeply wounded candidate" etc. The winner will still emerge as someone vastly superior to John McCain. And Hillary, for one, can't be "wounded" any more than she already has been for umpteen years (even being accused of murder by, as she put it, "the vast right-wing conspiracy"), and yet she picks herself up and forges ahead.

Hillary's a tough cookie, and that's exactly what we need.

All the voters will decide in November--not now--who the best candidate is. And that's light years away from now.

'Obama Holds LGBT Fund-raiser In New York City'

"Sen. Barack Obama waded deep into Clinton territory Thursday evening at a private LGBT fund-raiser in New York City where the price of admission was $2,300 per person."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Just in from Hillary

An email with the subject "The pattern":

Dear [moi],

Have you noticed the pattern?

Every time our campaign demonstrates its strength and resilience, people start to suggest we should end our pursuit of the Democratic nomination.

Those anxious to force us to the sidelines aren't doing it because they think we're going to lose the upcoming primaries. The fact is, they're reading the same polls we are, and they know we are in a position to win.

In three days, we're facing a critical March filing deadline -- another chance to show the strength of our campaign. Let's take these three days to make something absolutely clear: we aren't going to simply step aside. You and I are going to keep fighting for what we believe in, and together, we're going to win. . .

Contribute today to help us raise $3 million by the March filing deadline at midnight Monday.

Every time we are challenged to prove the strength and durability of our appeal to voters, we meet our goals. We did it in New Hampshire, we did it on February 5, and we did it again this month in Texas and Ohio.

With the March filing deadline, we have the chance to show our strength again. This is a crucial test as we approach the next big primary in Pennsylvania and the contests that follow.

Millions of voters are still waiting to have their say. Let's make sure they have a chance to be heard.

Contribute today to help us raise $3 million by the March filing deadline at midnight Monday.

At times like this, with everything on the line, it means so much to me to know that I can rely on you to meet the challenges we face head-on.

Thank you for everything,

[Signature]

(Emphasis in original.)

Miami's own Perez Hilton


Perez Hilton Picks a Fight

Haters and lawsuits threaten Miami's infamous celebrity gossip export.

Miami New Times article here. He's got deep pockets now, so he'd best be careful. He started his blog as a hobby less than four years ago and is now earning $250,000 a year (a conservative estimate).

'Is Sunbathing Good for You?'

Short answer: No.

Fact-checking new claims from the Indoor Tanning Association.

On Wednesday, the Indoor Tanning Association ran a full-page ad (PDF) in the New York Times claiming that "there is no compelling scientific evidence that tanning causes melanoma." It went on to say that "recent research indicates that the benefits of moderate exposure to sunlight"—namely, increased levels of vitamin D—"outweigh the hypothetical risks." Wait, is sunbathing good for you?

Only for a few minutes. Exposure to sunlight (or the UV lamps in a tanning bed) does cause the skin to produce vitamin D, which has a host of salubrious benefits, including the maintenance of normal blood levels of phosphorus and calcium and the promotion of healthy bones. Studies have shown that many segments of the population aren't getting enough of the vitamin, which may even aid in the prevention of cancer, diabetes, and HIV. According to almost all experts, most people could cover their bases by getting just five to 15 minutes of sunlight two to three times a week. (You'll need a little more if you're darker-skinned, a little less if you live near the equator.) Supplements are also an option. So even the palest sun worshipper doesn't need to get a tan for a vitamin fix. . . .

Melanoma is . . . responsible for 4 percent of skin-cancer diagnoses but 75 percent of all skin-cancer deaths. Most doctors believe that excessive exposure to the sun (even in relatively short, intense bursts) and, consequently, to UV radiation are the major risk factors for melanoma. Studies have shown that the more sunburns you've had in your life, the higher your chance of developing the disease. However, the exact causes of the disease aren't fully understood. People who doubt the sun-cancer link point to the fact that melanoma can sometimes appear in areas that get zero sun exposure, such as the bowels and the soles of the feet. They also note that melanoma is more common among indoor than outdoor workers, though other doctors counter that this is because cubicle dwellers are more likely to go on vacations where they spend hours baking in the sun. . . .

Meanwhile, indoor tanning isn't any safer than outdoor sunbathing—in fact, the FDA notes that it may be more dangerous, since tanning-bed users expose their entire bodies at once to a uniform amount of UV radiation. The American Academy of Dermatology has called for a ban on all indoor tanning equipment used for nonmedical purposes. . . .

(Emphasis added.) Article here. (BTW, my grandmother died of melanoma at the age I recently attained, which is to say way too young. She wasn't a sunbather but she lived in sunny Miami.)

The 'Richardson Rules' and the Obama endorsement

What Bill Richardson did or didn't extract from Barack Obama in return for his timely support may not be known until Obama wins the nomination and picks his running mate or wins the election and names his Cabinet. But there is one other little piece of evidence that suggests Richardson must have wrested some promise in return for his support. It's contained in the "Richardson Rules," his pointers for how to negotiate: "Don't concede absolutely everything the other side is requesting. Get something in return, even if it's minor."

Article here.

'Gay scientists isolate Christianity gene'


Video here.

'A new poll shows Obama's unfavorability rating is similar to Hillary Clinton's'

Story here.

Yesterday we wrote about a new poll (PDF) that suggested Hillary Clinton's unfavorability rating reached a new high of 48 percent, while Barack Obama's rating was significantly lower at 32 percent. Considering Obama's rough press coverage over the past few weeks because of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermons, this was a blow to the conventional wisdom that Obama's candidacy had been harmed by Wright's rhetoric.

However, a new SurveyUSA poll shows the two candidates' unfavorables to be much closer. Obama and Clinton have similar numbers in this poll, with Clinton polling unfavorably among 42 percent of voters. He is viewed unfavorably by 40 percent of the voters. She is viewed favorably by 35 percent of voters, while Obama is viewed favorably by 38 percent of voters.

'Florida's latest attraction is bringing in bargain hunters by the busload'

"Buyers hope to profit from the sub-prime shadow across the Sunshine State"

It's breakfast time in Orlando and thousands of people are clambering aboard tour buses all over the city ready for fun in the Florida sunshine. One group, however, won't be following the others to Disney World or the area's many other theme park attractions. They'll be taking a shopping trip in the company of estate agents and mortgage brokers, hoping to find a bargain among a selection of repossessed and run-down homes.

The growing popularity of the six-hour "foreclosure express" tour is one symptom of the worst housing crisis to afflict the Sunshine State in recent years, a slump set off by the sub-prime mortgage crisis that has sent repossessions soaring and prices into freefall.


The bus follows a pre-determined route through residential neighbourhoods and stops at up to a dozen empty houses already repossessed by lenders. The passengers disembark and size up the premises as they decide whether to offer an asking price often already below the open-market value.

Tickets cost $45 (£22.50), or $65 a couple, including breakfast and lunch at a fast-food restaurant, and demand is so high that another tour is planned for the middle of April. . . .

"It's really a rolling classroom with realtors, a lawyer, a property appraiser and a mortgage broker aboard with the buyers and investors. People can get a good idea of what's available." . . .

Three-bedroom houses in Kissimmee that sold for $240,000 a year ago can now be snapped up for $198,000, a 17.5% decrease. And prices in Miami, which were rising by more than 20% annually as recently as 2005, showed a 19.3% decline from a year ago, the biggest drop in the US alongside Las Vegas, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index. . . .

Now, to make their properties stand out among the glut in a stagnant market, developers are slashing prices and offering unprecedented incentives. "They're throwing in big-screen TVs, country club fees, whatever they can do to get a deal done," said Bob Hudgens, treasurer of the Florida Association of Realtors. "What we are seeing is sellers being realistic after the speculation that fuelled the incredible appreciations in 2004 and 2005. Back then people weren't in the market for the long term - it was get in, get out and make a quick buck."

Kirschner agrees that parts of the Miami housing market are already on the road to recovery, aided by overseas buyers taking advantage of the weak US dollar. "Miami is a mega-market," she said. "We have tourism, beautiful beaches, sunshine, clean air and water, great healthcare, good universities and a lot of other things that feed our market. Add to that the number of baby-boomers entering retirement and it's sure to rise." . . .

'Cubans to be allowed to buy mobile phones'

Story here.

A decree published in the Communist party newspaper, Granma, said the public could have prepaid contracts for mobile phones, a luxury previously reserved for senior party officials and employees of foreign companies.

The decision means less fumbling for change for pay phones and raised hopes that the new president, Raúl Castro, would relax other economic and political controls. . . .

Since the ailing Fidel resigned last month, Raúl, 76, has made cautious efforts to ease the material hardships which make daily life a grind and erode confidence in the government. The new president, who is deemed less ideological than his charismatic brother, has promised to focus on competence and service delivery and to reduce bureaucracy.

Big problems at new London Heathrow terminal

BA loses 15,000 bags at Terminal 5

British Airways apologised again to passengers hit by cancellations, crippled facilities and delays at Heathrow's new Terminal 5 after admitting that 15,000 bags were lost in the system. . . .

The Conservatives called for an inquiry into the "chaos and confusion", while the British Chambers of Commerce said T5 was a "PR disaster for London and the UK".

Audio slideshow here. How the terminal is supposed to work here (PDF).

'Is Al Gore the Answer?'

This is one of the links from the previous post.

Unlike Barack Obama, Bill Clinton does not believe in "the fierce urgency of now." The former President has an exquisitely languid sense of how political time unfurls. He understands that those moments the political community, especially the media, considers urgent usually aren't. He has seen his own election and reelection—and completing his second term—pronounced "impossible" and lived to tell the tale. He remembers that in spring 1992 he had pretty much won the Democratic nomination but was considered a dead man walking, running third behind Bush the Elder and Ross Perot. He knows that April is the silly season in presidential politics, the moment when candidates involved in a bruising primary battle seem weakest and bloodied, as both Hillary Clinton and Obama do now. It's the moment when pundits demand action—"Drop out, Hillary!"—and propound foolish theories. And so I'm rather embarrassed to admit that I'm slouching toward, well, a theory: if this race continues to slide downhill, the answer to the Democratic Party's dilemma may turn out to be Al Gore. . . .

'The lifeline strategy'

Read this post.

Friday, March 28, 2008

'Is The Obama Inevitability Campaign Backfiring?'

Post here.

Hillary Clinton is clearly winning the message war here. On the campaign trail in Indiana today, responding to questions about Sen. Patrick Leahy's call for her to drop out of the race, Hillary Clinton framed her staying in the race as letting voters' "voices be heard." . . .

This new Obama inevitability narrative is clearly giving the media a new lens through which to cover Clinton's campaign, all to her benefit. Clinton is also using it to cast herself as the fighter, the little guy against the forces that want to keep her down. . . .

'Great Moments in Modern Punditry - Part 1'

Highlights some of John Aravosis's vitriolic anti-Hillary shenanigans at AmericaBlog.

Paul Krugman: 'Loans and Leadership'

Today's column.

[I]t’s important to take a hard look at what candidates say about policy. It’s true that past promises are no guarantee of future performance. But policy proposals offer a window into candidates’ political souls . . . .

Mr. McCain, we’re told, is a straight-talking maverick. But on domestic policy, he offers neither straight talk nor originality; instead, he panders shamelessly to right-wing ideologues.

Mrs. Clinton, we’re assured by sources right and left, tortures puppies and eats babies. But her policy proposals continue to be surprisingly bold and progressive.

Finally, Mr. Obama is widely portrayed, not least by himself, as a transformational figure who will usher in a new era. But his actual policy proposals, though liberal, tend to be cautious and relatively orthodox.

Do these policy comparisons really tell us what each candidate would be like as president? Not necessarily — but they’re the best guide we have.

Traveler forced to remove nipple ring in airport security check

Story here.

A Texas woman who said she was forced to remove a nipple ring with pliers in order to board an airplane called Thursday for an apology by federal security agents and a civil rights investigation. . . .

Hamlin, 37, said she was trying to board a flight from Lubbock to Dallas on February 24 when she was scanned by a Transportation Security Administration agent after passing through a larger metal detector without problems.

The female TSA agent used a handheld detector that beeped when it passed in front of Hamlin's chest, the Dallas-area resident said.

Hamlin said she told the woman she was wearing nipple piercings. The agent called over her male colleagues, one of whom said she would have to remove the jewelry, Hamlin said. . . .

"The conduct of TSA was cruel and unnecessary," [her lawyer] wrote. "The last time that I checked, a nipple was not a dangerous weapon."

'Every vote should count'

An email from Hillary.

It is a bedrock American principle: we are all equal in the voting booth. No matter where you were born or how much money you were born into, no matter the color of your skin or where you worship, your vote deserves to count.

But millions of people in Florida and Michigan who went to the polls aren't being heard. The delegates they elected won't be seated at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August -- and that's just not fair to those voters.

The people of Michigan and Florida must have a voice in selecting our nominee for president. I have repeatedly called for seating their delegates.

Click here to join me in showing our support for seating Florida and Michigan delegates at the convention.

This is such an important principle, and I appreciate you standing up with me.

Sincerely,

Thursday, March 27, 2008

'Berlin zoo accused of profiting from slaughter'

This is vile.

Berlin zoo is under pressure to explain the fate of hundreds of its animals which allegedly have disappeared without trace amid accusations that they have been slaughtered and in some cases turned into potency-boosting drugs.

Claudia Hämmerling, a Green party politician, backed by several animal rights organisations, alleges that the zoo's director, Bernhard Blaszkiewitz, sold the animals to traders.

She claims to hold evidence on four Asian black bears and a hippopotamus, which were taken from Berlin, officially to go to a new home. They were transported to the Belgian town of Wortel, which has no zoo, but which does have an abattoir. . . .

Cuba to pave way for same-sex unions

"A lot of homosexual couples asked me to not risk delaying getting the law passed by insisting on the word marriage. In Cuba marriage is not as important as the family and at least this way we can guarantee the personal and inheritance rights of homosexuals and transsexuals. I've seen changes in my father since I was a child. I saw him as macho and homophobic. But as I have grown and changed as a person, so I have seen him change...In the early years of the revolution much of the world was homophobic. It was the same here in Cuba and led to acts which I consider unjust. What I see now is that both Cuban society and the government have realised that these were mistakes. There is also the desire to take initiatives which would prevent such things happening again."

--Mariela Castro (Raul's daughter) in a recent interview with the BBC (See here.)

'The Big Penis Book'

Check this out at Towle Road. (Includes preview!)

The lovely Carla Bruni

'Fossil find could be Europe's first humans'

From The Guardian.

A fossilised jawbone and teeth found in a cave in northern Spain may have belonged to one of the first human ancestors to set foot in western Europe. The hominid has been identified as Homo antecessor, or pioneer man, a possible ancestor of both our own species and Neanderthals. The fossils date from between 1.1m and 1.2m years ago. . . .

The fossils were discovered in the Sima del Elefante cave in Atapuerca in north-western Spain. Along with the hominid remains the research team found 32 rock fragments that were either stone tools or flakes produced by making the tools, suggesting that the hominids used the cave as a workshop among other things. There were numerous animal bones from a variety of species including rats, ferrets, bison, foxes, bears and big cats. . . .

'Log Cabin Insulted by Howard Dean's Remarks'

I thought this was good. From The Advocate.

Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean came under attack for speaking out against conservative gays and lesbians as well as Republicans of color.

"They can't become more diverse," Dean said at a speech at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Tuesday. "Who in their right mind, if they were African-American or Hispanic or Asian-American, if they were gay or lesbian, would join the Republican Party?" . . .

Exactly.

'"Most liberal senator" myth lingers . . .'

From Salon's Blog Report.

Despite debunking, reporters and detractors dog Obama on National Journal rating - While exploring whether a center-left presidential candidate can win with a progressive policy agenda, the NYT noted: "Can such a majority be built and led by Mr. Obama, whose voting record was, by one ranking, the most liberal in the Senate last year?" And that came shortly after James Dobson issued an alert to his religious right membership about the National Journal rating, and that came shortly after Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton’s pollster and strategist, repeated the right’s talking point. I’d hoped previous efforts to highlight how foolish this might have had an effect, but it appears some highly misleading talking points are harder to knock down than others.

In case you missed it

Antarctic ice shelf breaking up.

Poll: McCain's Age Problem

Story here.

Quote of the Day

Many who are rightfully celebrating the huge surge in voter registrations in Pennsylvania are also whining that Hillary Clinton needs to drop out of the race; but you would not have the former if you had the latter. Seems to me that a lot of people are still excited to vote. Seems to me that a lot of people are excited that their votes still matter. Seems to me that this is good for democracy.
Source.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Quote of the Day

It is fashionable, in some circles, and on some dishonest blogs, to dehumanize and demonize the Clintons. Some of us remember how the right wing attack machine attempted to do that. Some of us remember how the corporate media attempted to do that. Some of us understand how The Great Convergence has turned some prominent blogs and some prominent bloggers into mere clones of the right wing and corporate media attack machines, but that doesn't make their lies true.

See post here. Check out "The Great Convergence" link. My sentiments exactly. For gay John Aravosis at AmericaBlog, for example, to dehumanize the Clintons the way the right wing attempts to dehumanize gays is deplorable. I don't even bother to check out AmericaBlog anymore, even for Chris's posts. It's too inflammatory for me.

Huge traffic jam this afternoon

Stole a lot of my blogging time. (We also had a construction crane falling incident that killed two people. Part of a crane crashed into a house being used as a construction office. The house had been the scene of "There's Something About Mary.")

Also my blogging was disrupted yesterday by a trip to the gym, as the gym was closed on Easter.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

'2 divergent McCain moments, rarely mentioned'

Story here.

Senator John McCain never fails to call himself a conservative Republican as he campaigns as his party's presumptive presidential nominee. He often adds that he was a "foot soldier" in the Reagan revolution and that he believes in the bedrock conservative principles of small government, low taxes and the rights of the unborn.

What McCain almost never mentions are two extraordinary moments in his political past that are at odds with the candidate of the present: His discussions in 2001 with Democrats about leaving the Republican Party, and his conversations in 2004 with Senator John Kerry about becoming Kerry's running mate on the Democratic presidential ticket.

There are wildly divergent versions of both episodes, depending on whether Democrats or McCain and his advisers are telling the story. The Democrats, including Kerry, say that not only did McCain express interest but that it was his camp that initially reached out to them. McCain and his aides counter that in both cases the Democrats were the suitors and McCain the unwilling bride.

Either way, the episodes shed light on a bitter period in McCain's life after the 2000 presidential election, when he was, at least in policy terms, drifting away from his own party. They also offer a glimpse into his psychological makeup and the difficulties in putting a label on his political ideology over many years in the Senate. . . .

U.S. death toll in Iraq reaches 4,000

Story here.

A roadside bomb killed four U.S. soldiers in Baghdad on Sunday, the military said, pushing the overall American death toll in the five-year war to at least 4,000.

The grim milestone came on the same day that rockets and mortars pounded the U.S.-protected Green Zone, underscoring the fragile security situation and the resilience of both Sunni and Shiite extremist groups despite an overall lull in violence. . . .

The Easter Bunny hates you


This is hilarious

'How To Attack John McCain'

* John McCain as old and unstable

* John McCain as angry, with a temper, a hothead

* John McCain as a war hawk who'll keep us in Iraq forever

* John McCain as confused and unprepared (can't tell the difference between Iran and Al-Qaeda for instance)

* John McCain as weak and unprepared on economic issues

* John McCain and his association with radical fundamentalist pastors like John Hagee

* John McCain as a flip-flopper or sellout

See post here.

'Edwards Not Expected To Endorse'

From Todd Beeton at MyDD.

The closer we get to North Carolina's primary, the more anticipation there is likely to be that John Edwards would break his silence and come out with an endorsement of either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. As if to quash any growing speculation about that prospect, sources close to Edwards are expressing their doubts about a forthcoming endorsement. . . .

At the heart of this is the fact, as has been reported many times before, that Edwards is truly torn, something that no doubt makes many Obama supporters' heads explode.

[From The Politico:]

"He is genuinely torn between the two," the adviser added. "On the big change, money and politics, he obviously agrees more with Barack. I think on the toughness and experience in life, making difficult decisions, I think he believes Hillary is more ready for the job. I also think that he thinks the way she has pursued his support has a level of seriousness he has not seen from the other guy." [...]

Edwards' former advisers say he has spoken frankly to both candidates, telling Obama "some of his concerns about his strength and experience and readiness for the fight," according to the account of one adviser.

Are those Clinton talking points I hear?

Contrary to the inevitability campaign Obama supporters are currently waging (what else is left after failing to win it outright on votes or to change the superdelegate rules in the middle of the game...) high level Democrats still have reservations about Barack Obama as the nominee and Obama supporters would be well-advised to accept and respect this fact. Where are all those superdelegates who were waiting in the wings to come out for Obama after March 4? If it's so impossible for Hillary Clinton to win, why aren't they ending this thing right now? John Edwards's refusal to lend his weight to Obama's candidacy at this point speaks volumes for both the real doubts some have about Obama as well as the continued viability of Hillary Clinton's candidacy.

Now, as The Politico article makes clear, anything can still happen as far as Edwards is concerned. Is it realistic for him to be completely absent from the North Carolina primary process? Might he appear at events of both candidates? Might he use the focus on his home state to raise awareness of an issue, such as poverty, that he'd like the candidates to focus more on? I'm personally not counting out John Edwards as a factor entirely, although it does appear as of now that we should not expect an endorsement any time soon.

'Goodbye, Cruel Ballot Box'

By Joshua Marshall at TPM. Best thing of his I've read in a while. I think Democrats who would even think of voting for McCain or Nader (or even sitting the election out) if their candidate isn't the one chosen to go up against McCain are too immature to be voting in the first place. ("Infantile" is good.) It's like "cutting off your nose to spite your face" (as my mother would say). (I just did a search on that saying and found this at Wikipedia: "'Don't cut off your nose to spite your face' is a warning not to act out of pique or pursue revenge in such a way as to damage yourself more than the object of your anger.")

To follow up on the emails I posted last night, it's worth saying that over the last couple months, during each campaign's moments of extremity, we've had supporters of each candidate (probably in roughly equal quantity) writing in and saying they wouldn't be able to vote for the opponent in the general election. In general I just think that people are deeply invested in the campaign (which is a good thing), and in moments of disappointment and frustration need some outlet, even if only expressed within themselves, to put some contemplated action to their angst. Threatening to upset the applecart in November is the most emotionally satisfying way to do that. Certainly too, when a campaign gets this intense and hard fought, there's just too much cognitive dissonance for people to be on the one hand seething at the other candidate and then also contemplating working for and voting for the same person.

So I see most of these promises as the emotional equivalent of things friends or lovers can say in the midst of heated fights -- the vast number of which they recant later and wish they'd never said.

Clearly though there are some people who really do mean it. A very small fraction I think, but there nonetheless. And there's really no better example of emotional infantilism that some people bring to the political process . One can see it in a case like 1968 perhaps or other years where real and important differences separated the candidates -- or in cases where the differences between the parties on key issues were not so great. But that simply is not the case this year. As much as the two campaign have sought to highlight the differences, the two candidates' positions on almost every issue is extremely close. And the differences that do exist pale into insignificance when compared to Sen. McCain's.

That's not to say that these small differences are reasons to choose one of the candidates over the other. But to threaten either to sit the election or vote for McCain or vote for Nader if your candidate doesn't win the nomination shows as clearly as anything that one's ego-investment in one's candidate far outstrips one's interest in public policy and governance. If this really is one's position after calm second-thought, I see no other way to describe it.

'Advisers to Both Fault Obama Camp'

AP story here.

Mar 23rd, 2008 WASHINGTON -- Prominent supporters of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama on Sunday both faulted Obama's campaign for allowing a retired general and backer of the Illinois senator to equate comments by Clinton's husband to McCarthyism.

"I don't believe President Clinton was implying that," said New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former presidential candidate who endorsed Obama last week. "But the point here ... is that the campaign has gotten too negative — too many personal attacks, too much negativity that is not resounding with the public."

Asked whether Obama's campaign was being too negative in accusing former President Clinton of McCarthyism, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Clinton supporter, said, "Of course ... the Obama campaign tries to have it both ways," he said.

Rendell said Bill Clinton was saying what many people think, that the campaign should focus on the economy, health care and the candidates' experience, for example, and not on race and other distractions.

"And instead they launch this all-out attack trying to take an inference out of President Clinton's words that no fair person could take," Rendell said. "It's an example of the negativity that Governor Richardson is talking about.

"If they want to tone it down, don't accuse someone of McCarthyism," Rendell said.

Both governors commented on "Fox News Sunday."

In Charlotte, N.C., last Friday and speculating about a general election matchup pitting his wife against Republican John McCain, Bill Clinton told a group of veterans: "I think it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country. And people could actually ask themselves who is right on these issues, instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics."

Retired Gen. Merrill "Tony" McPeak, a co-chairman of Obama's campaign, took offense and accused Clinton of being divisive and trying to question Obama's patriotism. Standing with Obama at a campaign stop in southern Oregon, McPeak repeated Bill Clinton's comments for the audience, then said:

"As one who for 37 years proudly wore the uniform of our country, I'm saddened to see a president employ these tactics. He of all people should know better because he was the target of exactly the same kind of tactics."

That was an apparent reference to Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, when he was accused of dodging the Vietnam War draft.

McPeak also made off-the-cuff remarks to reporters Friday in comparing the former president's comments with the actions of Joseph McCarthy, the 1950s communist-hunting senator.

"I grew up, I was going to college when Joe McCarthy was accusing good Americans of being traitors, so I've had enough of it," McPeak said.

Clinton and Bosnia

Clinton and Bosnia

See Eriposte here.

I see Sen. Clinton's recollection of her Bosnia trip has been challenged and she is now being painted as a liar on this. I've seen this kind of story before run against Democrats in past elections. Let me just say that it is entirely possible that Clinton mis-remembered an incident that happened such a long time ago. I am giving her as much benefit of the doubt as I give to Sen. Obama☼ for the various claims in his own book, about his past, that have been challenged.

For example, see Kirsten Scharnberg and Kim Barker (Chicago Tribune) - emphasis is mine:

At the same time, several of his oft-recited stories may not have happened in the way he has recounted them. Some seem to make Obama look better in the retelling, others appear to exaggerate his outward struggles over issues of race, or simply skim over some of the most painful, private moments of his life. . . .

In his best-selling autobiography, "Dreams from My Father," Obama describes having heated conversations about racism with another black student, "Ray." The real Ray, Keith Kakugawa, is half black and half Japanese. In an interview with the Tribune on Saturday, Kakugawa said he always considered himself mixed race, like so many of his friends in Hawaii, and was not an angry young black man.

He said he does recall long, soulful talks with the young Obama and that his friend confided his longing and loneliness. But those talks, Kakugawa said, were not about race. "Not even close," he said, adding that Obama was dealing with "some inner turmoil" in those days.

"But it wasn't a race thing," he said. "Barry's biggest struggles then were missing his parents. His biggest struggles were his feelings of abandonment. The idea that his biggest struggle was race is [bull]."

Then there's the copy of Life magazine that Obama presents as his racial awakening at age 9. In it, he wrote, was an article and two accompanying photographs of an African-American man physically and mentally scarred by his efforts to lighten his skin. In fact, the Life article and the photographs don't exist, say the magazine's own historians. . . .

Yet even Obama has acknowledged the limits of memoir. In a new introduction to the reissued edition of "Dreams," he noted that the dangers of writing an autobiography included "the temptation to color events in ways favorable to the writer ... [and] selective lapses of memory."

He added: "I can't say that I've avoided all, or any, of these hazards successfully."

Also see Kevin Drum and Larry Johnson (the latter post is more related to the Bosnia topic).

Good TV: From Martin Luther to Martin Luther King, Jr. and beyond

'The Protestant Reformation' on the History Channel. Watched it tonight.

'Family Research Council's Sprigg: I'd Prefer to Export Homosexuals'

Rather than have U.S. homosexuals' foreign partners become U.S. residents. Found at TowleRoad. See video and story here.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

What George Bush hath wrought: 'Surge going up in flames'

Found at Hullabaloo. Read Dday's post here.

Rainy Saturday in Miami

'The Politics of Delusion'

From Eriposte at The Left Coaster.

I have noticed some Obama supporters are dismissive of the Wright fiasco, saying it is not going to hurt him long-term. This is wishful thinking. I still believe it is unlikely to hurt him that much in the primary and nomination primarily because of the media's (and part of the progressive blogosphere's) Clinton-hatred. However, over time, as the GOP mainstreams the fiasco and Obama's poor response to it (including the glaring contradictions in his statements and behavior), the Wright situation will most definitely hurt him in the general election campaign and hurt the Democratic party as well. (Most people don't realize that the Swift Boat Veterans attack against Kerry was mainstreamed over months, not days). For example, here's just a tiny sample of what we can expect to see in the general election from 527s and Republican front groups - via Marc Ambinder (and we've barely just started with the GOP's "vetting" of Sen. Obama, mind you):

Salon's Joan Walsh on Obama

Make a Point at Current.com

"Moving beyond Obama and race" here.

Inside Rome

"Rome’s cardinals, wealthy nobles, royalty, imperialists and artists have left behind treasure palaces and curious cubby holes for visitors to explore." Slideshow here. Story here.

'Queer Birds Find a Home to Roost'

From The Advocate.

Julius and Big Daddy, the roosters who chose each other as companions, have found a permanent home on a farm in Alabama, reports foster mom Brenda Lee in Los Angeles. The roosters came to L.A.'s A Dog's Life Rescue organization last year as a couple, and continued to eschew "normative chicken social conventions," wrote Lee's partner, Jayna.

Big Daddy, who is much larger, "is Julius's protector, and at night he roosts over Julius like a mama hen sitting on a brood of chicks," Jayna wrote.

The women agreed to foster the fowl until a place could be found with rooster-friendly zoning codes. It took eight months, Lee said.

Their suburban San Fernando Valley neighborhood technically forbids roosters for noise-abatement reasons ("The rescue group did some talking," Lee says), as does New York City, where the roosters made quite a splash on gay blogs.

"We only got two calls. And one person wanted to split them up, which was out of the question," Lee said.

But this week the foster moms fielded a call from an Alabama farmer, and Julius and Big Daddy were flown Thursday to their new home.

Hopefully they won't become fried chicken.

Fallout From Obama's Minister

Silly Bush

Friday, March 21, 2008

New Marie Antoinette exhibition

Veddy British. The video is conducted by Suzy Menkes (now the Fashion Editor at the International Herald Tribune), who acted in one "Absolutely Fabulous" episode (the episode where Patsy is trying to take notes at the fashion show and her hair keeps flopping down). Dig her hairdo. She was also in "The Last Shout."

Slide show here.

Anti-Hillary headlines at AmericaBlog

Just over the past day or so. I wanted to get more from the archives but the archives don't work.

Wash Post catches Hillary outright lying about her trip to Bosnia

Bill Clinton: Hillary, McCain and Obama - one of 'em doesn't love our country. Guess who?

Vandehei & Allen: Hillary can't win

Clinton campaign finished February in the red

Did Hillary sit next to Rev. Wright at prayer breakfast?

Did Bill Clinton "repent" about Monica to Obama's Rev. Wright?

NAFTA comes back to haunt Hillary Clinton

Clinton won't deny pushing the Wright story. She won't even answer the question.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

'Break Up the Rx Industry?'


From GoozNews, by Merrill Goozner. (I recently finished reading his insightful book, The $800 Million Pill. I'll have a few excerpts here soon.)

A new book by two Massachusetts Institute of Technology professors is calling for the break-up of the drug industry into separate research and marketing/manufacturing arms to promote both innovation and lower prices. Stan Finkelstein, a physician, and Peter Temin, an economist who has studied the drug industry for decades, in their newly published "Reasonable Rx: Solving the Drug Price Crisis," propose:

. . . dividing drug companies into drug discovery/development firms and drug marketing/distribution firms, just as electric utility firms were separated into generation and distribution companies in the 1990s.

Following the utility model, Finkelstein and Temin propose establishing an independent, public, non-profit Drug Development Corporation (DDC), which would act as an intermediary between the two new industry segments -- just as the electric grid acts as an intermediary between energy generators and distributors.

The DDC also would serve as a mechanism for prioritizing drugs for development, noted Finkelstein.

"It is a two-level program in which scientists and other experts would recommend to decision-makers which kinds of drugs to fund the most. This would insulate development decisions from the political winds," he said.

Finkelstein and Temin's plan would also insulate drug development from the blockbuster mentality, which drives companies to invest in discovering a billion-dollar drug to offset their costs.

An example of the blockbuster mentality is developing a new drug for hypertension, one that varies only slightly from those already on the market, but that can bring in huge profits if aggressively marketed.

CR reviews MacBook Air

Video here.

New light bulbs become toxic waste

Dark chocolate

Video here.

'Lawmaker Hopes to End Ban on Gay Adoption in Florida'

From The Advocate online.

A Florida state senator has introduced a bill that would reverse a 30-year law that bars gay and lesbian couples from adopting children. Sen. Nan Rich's proposed measure would instruct judges to consider the child's best interest when placing them in a permanent home, according to WFOR, a South Florida CBS TV affiliate. A gay friend or relative would be considered as an adoptive parent if they were the child's legal guardian when the parents died.

More than 3,900 children in Florida's foster care system do not live in a permanent home.

[Closeted Republican] Gov. Charlie Crist, who has publicly supported civil unions for same-sex couples, has come out against Rich's proposed legislation. State senator Ronda Storms is also working against the legislation; she has pledged to maintain the adoption prohibition against gay couples. And she just happens to chair the committee to which the measure has been assigned, and she has refused to bring it up for debate or a vote, according to WFOR.

Rich has the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, and the National Council of Jewish Women. She is the senate's Democratic policy chair and sits on the committees for children, families, and elder affairs.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

'Bill Clinton Rejects Criticism Over Race'

AP story here.

Former President Clinton on Monday called the notion that he unfairly criticized his wife's rival, Barack Obama, "a total myth and a mugging." Clinton had compared Obama's landslide victory in South Carolina's Jan. 26 primary to Jesse Jackson's wins in the state in 1984 and 1988.

Clinton was widely criticized for appearing to cast Obama as little more than a black candidate popular in a state with a heavily black electorate. He was widely accused of fanning racial tensions.

"They made up a race story out of that," Clinton said of the news media, calling the story "a bizarre spin." . . .

'All Monica, All The Time'

From Steve Soto at The Left Coaster.

As you may have heard by now, the Clinton Library released Hillary’s calendar today from her eight years as First Lady.

So what’s the first thing in the AP's story?

Hillary Rodham Clinton was home in the White House on a half dozen days when her husband had sexual encounters there with intern Monica Lewinsky, according to Sen. Clinton's☼ schedule, released Wednesday among 11,000 pages of papers from her years as first lady.

Glad to see we’re focusing on matters of substance here. . . .

I also saw the AP story and found it totally bizarre.

Socialism for the rich

From DDay at Hullabaloo.

Corporate Welfare

E.J. Dionne finally says it:

Never do I want to hear again from my conservative friends about how brilliant capitalists are, how much they deserve their seven-figure salaries and how government should keep its hands off the private economy.

The Wall Street titans have turned into a bunch of welfare clients. They are desperate to be bailed out by government from their own incompetence, and from the deregulatory regime for which they lobbied so hard. They have lost "confidence" in each other, you see, because none of these oh-so-wise captains of the universe have any idea what kinds of devalued securities sit in one another's portfolios.

So they have stopped investing. The biggest, most respected investment firms threaten to come crashing down. You can't have that. It's just fine to make it harder for the average Joe to file for bankruptcy, as did that wretched bankruptcy bill passed by Congress in 2005 at the request of the credit card industry. But the big guys are "too big to fail," because they could bring us all down with them.

Enter the federal government, the institution to which the wealthy are not supposed to pay capital gains or inheritance taxes. Good God, you don't expect these people to trade in their BMWs for Saturns, do you?

This is so overdue. We've essentially in the Bush era set up a kind of corporate Marxism, where risk is socialized, but where wealth is privatized. And the middle class, in this case homeowners, are the only ones who ever feel any pain.

Ben Bernanke believes that he can save the economy by managing and financing the ultimate downfall of these financial institutions. Which is fine to a point, because the alternative is a massive meltdown of the entire system. But let's call it exactly what it is. And let's no longer allow the other side to say things like "let the market make its own decisions," because they only believe that when they're not affected. This is a selective bailout, and it's government intervention into the markets to save them. Because they currently are non-functional and unregulated. It doesn't have to be this way, but under a laissez-faire system it's inevitable.

Can't wait for some Wall Street honcho or BushCo official to go on about welfare queens or big government programs...

More on the GOP's tactics

From Turkana at The Left Coaster.

The political impact of . . . [Obama's] speech is not yet clear. Polls indicate that the Jeremiah Wright controversy has seriously damaged Obama's candidacy, but it is too soon to tell if the speech turned that around. We won't know for several days. It's also not clear how the controversy and the speech will play out, over the political long haul. The Republicans smell blood, and anyone who understands Republican tactics knows that nothing is too vicious and relentless in Republican pursuit of electoral victory. Those Obama supporters who decry the occasionally tough campaign tactics of Hillary Clinton have no idea how relatively soft and civil those tactics have been.

Republicans don't seek merely to win campaigns, they seek to destroy people. Michael Dukakis was as decent a human being as has ever claimed a major party nomination, but by the time the Republicans were through with him, he was an unpatriotic patsy who was going to allow dangerous black criminals to murder and rape white mothers, sisters, and daughters. Al Gore had a reputation as a boy scout, and the Republicans turned him into a pathological liar. John Kerry risked his life in battle to save the lives of his fellow servicemen, and the Republicans turned him into a devious schemer who had failed in battle, lied to burnish his own credentials, then turned on the true patriots who had truly shown courage under fire. There is literally nothing beneath Republican tacticians, and once their 527s get ahold of the Wright videos, you will see him raving on television all day, every day. The question then will be whether the critical swing voters of Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Missouri will base their votes on a glorious 35 minute speech or on omnipresent 30 and 60 second attack ads. . . .

'Hillary's Secret Plan'

This is ludicrous. Have the folks at AmericaBlog lost their minds? This sounds awfully paranoid to me (and notice the mistakes). John Aravosis:

1. Destroy Obama so that the Superdelegates overthrow him and give her the nomination.

2. Destroy Obama so that, even if he wins the nomination, he will be so severely damaged that he loses the election, and the day after the election the Clinton people say "see, we told you that you should have picked us," and four years later, Hillary will be able to run again and get the nomination, if because of nothing else, because the party will feel sorry for "cheating" her out of of it this time.

If we lose the election in the fall, it will be all Hillary's fault. It's time for Howard Dean and the party leaders to step in and stop Hillary before she starts a civil war (and one is coming) and destroys our party.

How the GOP would attack Obama

From Salon.

What is fair game in the eyes of Wadhams, the Republican National Committee and McCain's own advisors, however, is asking whether Obama has the experience necessary to be president. The GOP will hammer away at Obama for his short tenure in the Senate, reminding voters that only four years ago he was in the Illinois Legislature while McCain was in his 21st year in Congress. The fact that Clinton managed to revive her campaign with a similar attack ahead of the Ohio and Texas primaries only proved to Republicans that it works.

Obama cruised through his 2004 Senate campaign without serious opposition in the general election, and Republicans say they don't think he has proved he can stand up to close scrutiny. "I don't care how big his rallies are and how eloquent and how hip he is, at some point he's going to have to go through the grinder, and I don't think anybody has any idea that he can do it," said Mark Salter, a close McCain advisor. Republican strategists think voters don't yet have a clear image in their minds of who Obama is -- and they're eager to help draw the picture for them. Only 19 percent of voters the RNC polled in January said they were "very familiar" with Obama's positions on issues.

"He does very well in an auditorium with 15,000 screaming liberal sycophants," Wadhams declared, "but whenever he's interviewed on a tough subject or following a defeat by Senator Clinton in some primary or caucus, I don't think he does very well." . . .

Republicans' best chance to counter Obama's appeal to voters may come when gifts like Wright's incendiary rhetoric surface. Following a report on "Good Morning America" about Wright's past sermons, the reverend's comments became a fixture on Rush Limbaugh's show and on "Hannity & Colmes." Polling already shows Wright's most inflammatory remarks offend a lot of voters. Just imagine if Wright showed up again in an ad on television in October. "Those film clips are pretty devastating," Wadhams said with some relish. And Limbaugh, naturally, has already gone ballistic. "No country wants a president who is a member of a church with this kind of radicalism as its mainstream," he fumed on Monday. . . .

"Instead of distancing himself and moving past this moment, he sort of owns it now," Republican strategist Kevin Madden argued after Obama's speech. (Madden worked for Mitt Romney's campaign, which went through equally thorny contortions over religion.) "Barack Obama, before all this, was at a point where his appeal transcended race. He was somebody that voters -- white and black both -- looked at as a candidate not viewed through the prism of white or black. [Now] he has become that." . . .

But it's one thing to know what's coming and to condemn it. It's another to beat it back. Hillary Clinton has insisted all through the campaign that her own battles with the GOP in the 1990s taught her how to survive -- even thrive on -- nasty attacks. For Obama to secure the Democratic nomination, he may have to persuade party insiders that he can do the same thing.

Monday, March 17, 2008

'Elton John to Raise Money for Clinton'

AP story here.

Elton John will help Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton raise cash for her presidential campaign with a solo concert next month at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

"I'm not a politician but I believe in the work that Hillary Clinton does," the British musician said in a statement released by the Clinton campaign Monday.

Tickets for the "Elton and Hillary: One Night Only" performance April 9 go on sale Wednesday. Prices start at $125 for mezzanine seats, $250 for seats near the orchestra.

Last October, Clinton held a star-studded fundraiser to celebrate her 60th birthday. Comedian Billy Crystal and rockers Elvis Costello and the Wallflowers headlined the event at New York's historic Beacon Theater, which raked in more than $1.5 million for Clinton's presidential bid.

'Qatar opens first church, quietly'

Interesting story from Al Jazeera here. There will be a meeting of the minds between our cultures--they're not that disparate. The moderates are reaching out to each other. That's the most important, first step.

Today's my birthday

No posting today (so far at least). Went out to dinner tonight for corned beef and cabbage.

Should be lots tomorrow, however.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Comment I wrote on AmericaBlog tonight

So AmericaBlog has become simply a favorite Hillary-bashing hangout? (At last count, 68 writers for Daily Kos are on "strike" over the irrational bashing going on there.)

I used to respect AmericaBlog and find some "truth" here (as advertised), but, with the notable exception of Chris in Paris, that's no longer the case.

I too am gay. How John Aravosis, as a gay person who knows about gay-bashing, could lower himself to engage in this same sort of mean and outrageous vituperation (against a decent Democratic candidate) is beyond my comprehension. I'm stunned.

With the exception of Chris, this blog has become a pile of smelly trash.

Meatlover in Fla. Homepage 03.16.08 - 11:24 pm #

I thought this was interesting (not that I agree with it)

Tornado in downtown Miami (1997)

I was working up in one of those office buildings at the time (the Barnett Bank building, directly beneath the top of the tallest building in the photo). The tornado was just a few blocks away, and we watched it as it moved inland from the port area. It was unreal. We didn't feel in danger, however, since the tornado was heading west and we were south of it.

More on the Atlanta tornado

Re-vote in Florida?

'No Way to Run Health Research'

New York Times editorial (emphasis added).

The National Institutes of Health, the main supporter of biomedical research at universities and medical schools, has an annual budget of more than $29 billion. That is far above what any other nation spends on such research, and far higher than the budgets of other agencies that support work in other scientific fields.

Yet academic institutions are complaining that the N.I.H. cannot support all of the worthy research being proposed. They warn that young scientists with the potential for breakthrough work are being frozen out.

The academic leaders are likely right. The percentage of grant proposals that get financed has dropped from one in three early in the decade to one in four. The average age of investigators when they get their first N.I.H. grant has risen to 43, especially old for fields in which younger people often do the best work. . . .

Neither the government nor academia gave much thought to what might happen when the flush times came to an end, hastened by the huge costs of the Iraq war and tax cuts. . . .

'Cutting Dosage of Costly Drug Spurs a Debate'

NYT story here (emphasis added).

When a drug can cost more than $300,000 a year, the right dose becomes a matter of public debate.

The drug in question, Cerezyme, is used to treat a rare inherited enzyme deficiency called Gaucher disease. Some experts say that for most patients, as little as one-fourth the standard top dose would work, saving the health care system more than $200,000 a year per Gaucher patient.

“It is economic malpractice to give a much higher dose of an expensive drug than is required,” said Dr. Ernest Beutler, an authority on Gaucher disease at the Scripps Research Institute. . . .

With Cerezyme, which is made by Genzyme, the profits are sizable. Gaucher disease, which can have complications like ruined joints, is rare; only about 1,500 people in the United States are on the drug and about 5,000 worldwide. Sales of Cerezyme totaled $1.1 billion last year, making it a blockbuster by industry standards. . . .

Genzyme, which became a leading biotechnology company because of Cerezyme, says that it has raised the price only once — 3 percent last year — since introducing the drug in 1994. The company says it needs the high price to make a sustainable business of serving such a small number of patients and to pay for research on new products. Genzyme also says it provides the drug free, if necessary, so that no one goes without the product because of its cost.

But critics say the company’s development costs were minimal, because the early work on the treatment was done by the National Institutes of Health, which gave Genzyme a contract to manufacture it. And analysts estimate the current cost of manufacturing the drug to be only about 10 percent of its price. . . .

Tornado tears through downtown Atlanta

Photos here.

If you like crowds, go here


Calle Ocho Festival turns 30

Crane collapses onto NYC buildings; 4 killed

Story here (there's also a video).

'Huge Patagonian glacier could disappear in 60 years'

See Guardian video here.

'Melting glaciers start countdown to climate chaos'

From The Observer.

For centuries, writers, painters and photographers have been drawn to the wild and seemingly indestructible beauty of glaciers. More practically, they are a vital part of the planet's system for collecting, storing and delivering the fresh water that billions of people depend on for washing, drinking, agriculture and power. Now these once indomitable monuments are disappearing. And as they retreat, glacial lakes will burst, debris and ice will fall in avalanches, rivers will flood and then dry up, and sea levels will rise even further, say the climate experts. Communities will be deprived of essential water, crops will be ruined and power stations which rely on river flows paralysed. . . .

From 1850 to 1970, the team estimates net losses averaged about 30cm a year; between 1970 to 2000 they rose to 60-90cm a year; and since 2000 the average has been more than one metre a year. Last year the total net loss was the biggest ever, 1.3m, and only one glacier became larger. Worldwide, the vast majority of the planet's 160,000 glaciers are receding, 'at least' as much as this, says Haeberli, probably more - a claim supported by evidence from around the world. . . .

UNEP has also reported declines in the last 50-150 years of 1.3 per cent in the Arctic islands to 50 per cent in the North Caucasus in Russia, 25-50 per cent in central Asia, a 2km retreat of the massive Gangotri glacier which feeds the Ganges, 49 to 61 per cent in New Zealand, and 80 per cent in the high mountains of southern Africa. There is also 'considerable' shrinking of medium and small glaciers in central Chile and Argentina accompanied by 'drastic retreat' of glaciers in Patagonia to the south.

The only region where glaciers are advancing is Scandinavia, where climate change has increased precipitation to more than compensate for higher melting, and even there the growth has stagnated . . . .

The problem is perhaps most acute in Asia, where glaciers are an important source for nine major rivers which run through land occupied by 2.4 billion people. In Pakistan, for example, 80 per cent of agricultural land is irrigated by the Indus, which the WWF last year highlighted as one of the world's 10 big at-risk rivers because retreating glaciers provide 70-80 per cent of its flow. . . .

Art exhibit at my condo