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A Response to Edward Luttwack's "President Apostate?"

My diary refers to the article on the NY Times entitled, “President Apostate?” by Edward Luttwack.  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/12/opinion/12luttwak.html

 I am no Muslim scholar, but I was appalled to read this article on the NY Times website.  So, I shall respond with some criticism.

Basically, the whole premise of this guy's argument is that Muslims will hate Obama just as much as they hate George Bush and the main reason, or actually only reason he gives, is that Obama converted to Christianity. So, my response to this guy is, project your fear-mongering elsewhere. Such a pessimistic view does no good, in my opinion. It's possible the author's ideas are not well-defined and that could be why I disagree so deeply with his opinion, but my impression is that he is over-generalizing Islam. His fundamental rational is that Islam is intolerant and so he mistakingly applies a conception of radical Muslims to all Muslims. I don't buy it. Obama will have transformative power in the world more than Hillary or any other potential President. It's not zero-sum, there will be roadblocks to improving US relations, especially with ANY group that is radically different in its society's conventions, so focusing solely on radical Islam and passing radical Islam's practices onto all of Islam is misleading and makes his argument weak.

On the author's use of words, I'm not sure that Muslims view it as a crime to convert to Christianity, but rather that it is not possible for a true Muslim to convert to Christianity because that would be going backward. Jesus is only a prophet to Muslims and Muhammad is the true messenger of God (Muhammad came after Jesus and produced the Qur'an after speaking with God, whereas Jesus was just an important prophet – not THE messenger of God). Muslims don't believe in the resurrection, but only that Jesus was a very good and important prophet – his importance is superseded by Mohammad.

The author also says that converting to Christianity is worse than murder, but fails to mention it is not necessarily deserving of the same punishment as murder. Converting away from Islam is worse than murder because it's abandoning the religion, not that you've committed a social crime (or a crime against humanity). Only radical Muslims think that abandoning Islam deserves the same or worse punishment as murder.

The author goes on to say the conventional anti-Islamic lines that persist in today's society. There's some serious bias here in this author (e.g., see Clash of Civilizations by Samuel Huntington) and it's clear that this person approximates all Muslims as radicals that are out to get America (e.g., see Fox News O'Reilly Factor or people like Tom Tancredo). Then the author goes on to imply that Muslim clerics will tacitly consent assassination attempts if President Obama were to visit their countries. Give me a break. There always has to be an enemy, but it's downright fallacious, if not entirely misleading, to imply the entire Muslim world being the enemy of Barack Obama, or that Obama doesn't have transformative power for US relations with the Muslim world because the Muslim world is intolerant. And, if the author actually doesn't think this, then he forgot to be clear, because it seems to me he deciphers the difference between radicals and moderates.

"Dream Ticket is Impossible" - Pelosi

Her comment on an Obama/Clinton ticket is at the end of the video.  It is quite telling to hear the Speaker say such a ticket is not just unlikely, but impossible.  This confirms my belief that Hillary's talk about a dream ticket is nonsense and she is just saying it to relax excited Obama supporters and to sway fence voters that a vote for her is a vote for both.


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Krugman Coming to Terms?

The way I see it, Krugman has begun to come to terms with Obama. He actually put thought into this article. It's not a reactionary tirade, which I would suggest characterized the last 4 months of his columns against Barack Obama. It is rather an honest assessment of the two candidates and the the state of American politics in our country. I disagree with a few of the things he says, such as his criticism (which, is toned down now) of Obama's healthcare policy proposal, but in the end he does a good job of revealing opposing viewpoints and coming to a conclusion on what the rise of Obama and the fall of the Clintons might do to the Democratic Party.

However, I would like to further elaborate on his points and take the analysis a little further. I don't think the recriminations within the party will be as severe once Hillary drops out of the race, so unless she wins I don't see the Party falling apart (unless Obama loses the general). I don't see Obama losing in the general election unless some huge blind-siding issue from a change of domestic and international circumstances surfaces that favors the Republicans. An Obama nomination and a general election loss is basically no different than a Hillary nomination and loss, except that we know the Party will be divided the day after Hillary's nomination, rather than the day after the election. So, I guess Krugman's argument that the party will be torn apart if the “magic” doesn't work in the general election is correct, but he fails to compare this to a Hillary nomination and loss, which would likely tear the party apart at the nomination. This would be before the Party even had a chance to win the election.

Krugman fails to acknowledge what happens in a Hillary nomination and loss. Perhaps it is not necessary to think about that anymore now that Obama looks to secure the nomination Tuesday. But, tomorrow has not come yet. So, Krugman should have further analyzed both sides of the issue rather than just focusing on what an Obama nomination and loss looks like. If he takes the analysis further and looks at what a Hillary nomination and loss would mean, the picture is probably bleaker.

I will give Krugman credit for coming around on Obama. While I was singing the praises of Brooks' columns on Obama and offering criticism of Krugman, many, especially at Bleeding Heartland, said that Krugman would come around and that Brooks would turn his shoulder the other way once the nomination was secured. I think we are seeing the beginning of Krugman's turnaround. We will see what Brooks does.

Let's all find the cynic in ourself

(CROSS-POSTED AT http://politicaltea.com) 

 so we don't have to believe in anything except the fallibility of our government. That's what I propose. Forget judgment, forget experience, forget ideology. Let's just be perfect. Yeah, universal healthcare; let's force everyone to buy government healthcare because the government is so efficient at what it does we also want it running our healthcare system. Who do you want up late at night on the big bad red phone making last minute deals preventing our country from getting nuked? The person who voted for us to go to war or the person who spoke out against us going to war? What's more virtuous, following the pack or speaking out against the pack? Blah, blah…I buy this, I don't buy that; our country needs this – no, it doesn't need that! I want my investments to be free of tax, no you must be taxed 30% and possibly more on everything you invest. Let's spread out all our wealth, give it away, take from the rich, give to the poor, yeah, it will all turn out much better in the end. Let's have a revolution? Replace one crooked man with another. What's the difference? You keep criticizing what is good for the country, you keep on perpetuating the cynicism and the politics of old. The more you follow Clinton and reject the Obama movement the more you reject the wave of the future; the more you condemn the Democratic Party. Oh, but what good is a candidate if not a candidate that bleeds universal healthcare, no matter the quality of such universal healthcare – we must have universal healthcare!!! Oh yes, all must pay for healthcare even if they can't afford it, so they can be afforded the opportunity to be assessed with the best technology science has to offer. If we don't do that, they might die sooner than otherwise. If they die sooner because we didn't have universal healthcare, we'll feel it's our fault – we could have done more. Yet, we all die in the end. So, what is more, what is too little, and what is too much? You ask so much, but you also ask the impossible. This is the blindness of bitter partisan political heads. They only know what they think is right, but see nothing beyond their own two feet. It's not let's do the best we can with the cards we're dealt, let's do the best we can by stealing the cards from our partners. Oh well, such is life.

Obama is riding his anti-Iraq War speech to victory and opponents are bitterly lementing over his using of it in such a way. It's sad. Yes, it really is. A man spoke out on an issue, a woman voted on an issue; blame one, blame the other; neither is right, neither is wrong; we're all just right or wrong depending on what it means either way to the reader. She had “evidence”, he had “judgment”. Yada yada.

Your criticism makes a mockery of the system. Whether you think that is good or bad is up to you. Oh, “it's the media's fault Obama is not being critiqued well enough” and well, Clinton is being critiqued too well. Wait, but wait, why would Clinton be criticized so heavily? Let's think. She is a former first lady, her husband is well-hated by nearly half of the country and the Clintons never were friendly with the media. The media has gone along with the change mantra that Obama represents, and whether or not that is purely progressive (as your savior, Krugman, would have us believe is the purpose of all human existence) doesn't matter; and, this angers you because you actually think Hillary or Edwards COULD make a difference, when in fact they would have so little unifying capability that they would put the system into disuse and degeneration. Honestly, another Clinton in the White House? in place of a populist Obama? What kind of horrendous damage would that have on the Democratic Party if she wins? The Party would ultimately fail in the general election.

The whole point of a democratic system is that change happens. That is why Obama is doing so well. People recognize something new is needed. Even if Obama is not perfect, which everyone knows he is not, he is someone new that can bring new light and a new face to issues that face our country's government. If we keep electing or putting the same names on the ballots, what's the point? Let's just develop an aristocracy or monarchy. That would be much easier and straightforward. Wouldn't it be joyful? Hopefully it would be your progressive aristocrats that do well. But, then again, democracy is only good when it's your people in charge, so changing the system doesn't sound like a bad idea at all. It might not even make a difference.

Bleh. I don't know how you can write about the same thing over and over. Everyone needs universal healthcare, but no one on these blogs offers any clue how to get there. They expect saviors to arrive out of the political abyss and they shine their illuminating blogolight on them and hope the world becomes the progressive world they hope it will become. I'm tired of it. You all say the same thing, ” I dedicate my life to this cause (in the majestic words of the John Edwards we all glorify), POVERTY MUST END!” But, we have no clue how, or if it is even realistic. How can we end poverty? Come on. Give me a real answer, not just that we have to elect John Edwards, the good miller's son. I want to hear some answers. And, even then supposing you think there is success in ending poverty at some point, how do you propose getting everyone out of poverty? Just going to put them all in the middle class?

Let's just do the best we can and not let our country decay from lack of turnover and freshness. You put Clinton back in office and you ruin our country. That's as simple as it gets.


I have been supporting Obama for quite some time.  If I go back into my AIM records, I can probably find the exact date (somewhere around the time I learned about him in 2004) that I said, this is the guy that should be running for President, not John Kerry.  I also jokingly wanted his runningmate to be Jon Steward from the Daily Show.  But, Obama I was serious about. 

 As Obama's movement has grown, and as I have stood at many of his rallies and townhall discussions, I have grown accustomed to his rhetoric and style of speech.  Being a musician, and being quite addicted to one or two bands over a long period of time, it is easy to become disillusioned by the artists' performances after learning their style, their method, and their idea patterns.  Just like anything you feel you know in and out, it can become old.  Practically being able to play an entire song by heart of your favorite band after attending a bunch of their concerts is not much different from being able to recite an Obama speech after hearing it 5+ times in two days.  And of course, just like with my favorite bands, after hearing them perform many times over, I became disillusioned with Obama.

I was not disillusioned because his message changed or his demeanor changed or his style, method, or ideas changed.  I became disillusioned with the movement because he could say the same message 4 or 5 times in a day and get the same response at each stop during his day, whereas after each stop I would feel less and less inspired.  The glare of the words lost their appeal to me as they grew in others.  After hearing his ideas over and over, the cynic in me was overtaken by the question, what change can anyone bring through government?  Am I just getting excited over a few things that he represents? 

Anyway, my road back from disillusionment arose from this last question. I believe the answer is yes for most people.  Even if Obama can't succeed as the next progressive legislator President (obviously some Progressives don't like his non-mandate healthcare proposal, so in some of their eyes he has already failed), I am convinced that his very presence in the White House will begin to heal the wounds that our country has sustained during the Bush administration.  The President's position is more important as commander in chief, not as chief legislator.  Just as others, I too support Obama for a few important issues that he represents and because he falls under the umbrella of liberal ideology and change from the current administration, both of which are essential to my choice as President, I can accept these few important issues that he represents as the most important issues for this Presidential election.

Government is not permanent; it is susceptible to corruption and vulnerable to apathy.  Our last two Presidents have failed: Clinton's ability to tell the truth; Bush's ability to analyze and rationalize choices.  If it is faith in government that is important in the long run, and it should be to any patriot, we need to elect characters we can have faith in. 



McCain's Problems with the FEC

According to the Washington Post and Talking Points Memo, McCain is going to have a diffictult time opting out of public financing because 1) the Commission does not have quorum to grant his opt-out and 2) he took out a loan that jeopardizes his ability to opt-out.  They also note that he has spent quite a large portion of the maximum public financing for the general election, ALREADY.  So, what happens?

 First, he asks Obama to join him in public financing even though Obama can pull in many millions more than him in private funds, knowing full well that any rational candidate would opt for taking the highest probability route to the Presidency.  

 Second, he notifies – not asks – the FEC that he has opted out of public financing even though he has committed to it already. 

Those thinking Obama should take public financing just because he and McCain talked abut it before the primaries should reconsider in light of McCain's actions.  Basically, McCain now just appears to be using his current conundrum to attack Obama.  The legitimacy of his offer with Obama to take public financing for the general election is all but gone.

Question for Obama Supporters

“At the beginning of the primary season a year ago, both John McCain and Barack Obama indicated that they would accept public financing for their general election campaigns if the opposition candidate agreed to do the same. Now that it appears possible that the two of them will indeed be the nominees, McCain's campaign has repeated its pledge with a reminder about the one Obama made. The federal financing is expected to total about $85 million. As point of reference, Bush and Kerry both spent well over $200 million four years ago.

Question for all Obama supporters: Knowing that it would entail giving up a fund-raising advantage, would you like to see Obama accept public financing?”

-Question posed by an anonymous person


I am not quite sure it is the strategically best move. He has great private fundraising potential, but who knows what fallout there would be if he denies public financing.

Ok, there are at least two moral dilemmas here: taking public financing is seen as good and going back on one's word is seen as bad. I say Obama should not take public financing because he has more to lose if he does so. While there will be political costs for denying public funding when he and McCain agreed to it before their chances looked realistic, he can make up for those costs by the gains of having the private money, which would be significantly larger than McCain's. His broad base of donors is one of the reasons he was able to take on the Clinton machine and why he has been able to pull ahead (though it's not over yet). For that reason, because his base of supporters is so large, I have no problem with him backing off from his original offer to McCain because his campaign has proved that corporate special interests are not the only ones having a say in this election. So, one moral dilemma is averted for another.

If he backs out of the deal with McCain, then he looks like a flip-flopper, or some other term that the Republicans will try to smack on him. He'll be framed as not only backing out on the deal but on a deal that would have made the process fairer. I happen to think that the good that will come out of an Obama Presidency outweighs the moral dilemmas of public financing and changing his mind. I never thought changing one's mind is a moral dilemma in itself, but the consequences of changing one's mind are what cause the dilemma. In this case, I think Obama re-evaluates the deal in light of the new information (him being the nominee and being backed by a huge donor base) and should come to the conclusion that he can maximize good by becoming President.

That all being said, I think Obama is a stand-up guy and so I have no idea what he'll do. The question is, does he have a little Machiavelli in him? If he gets the nomination, we'll see how he approaches this. I just can't imagine him turning his back on the huge donor base. It's tough to picture at least because after all this is politics. …In fact, in light of the previous sentence, I would say there is no way in hell he will take public financing. There has to be some Machiavelli in him.


Obama Wins Latinos and Women, and just about everyone else

The headline on the Drudge Report says it all, “According to exit polls in Maryland, Obama won latino voters by 6 points, all religions (including catholics), all age groups (including seniors), all regions, all education levels, and women by TWENTY-ONE POINTS.”

It's going to be tough for Hillary to overcome his momentum if he keeps this up.  In fact, if we see this turn into a trend with the rest of February primaries, then we might as well start predicting the same in Ohio and Texas.  And, with that, we can kiss goodbye the whole idea of a brokered convention.  Thanks for that, too, because it would be a disaster.

 It sure pays to win across the nation than just in isolated locations.  Finally a Democrat arrives who has the capability to win over the country.  If only Obama had arrived on the stage in 2000 so he could have gone up against Bush in 2004.   


Obama Leads Clinton Among Women in Maryland and Virginia

I felt this was worth pasting here. Obama leading Hillary among women is very important.  


February 11, 2008 – Maryland and Virginia Primary Preferences

Democrats MD VA
Clinton 37% 38%
Obama 55% 56%
Someone else 2% 2%
Undecided 6% 4%

In Maryland, Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton among men 57% to 34% (43% of likely Democratic primary voters) and Obama leads Clinton among women 54% to 40%. Clinton leads Obama among white voters 49% to 41% (60% of likely Democratic primary voters) and Obama leads Clinton among African American voters 79% to 17% (37% of likely Democratic primary voters). 14% of likely Democratic primary voters say they would never vote for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and 23% of likely Democratic primary voters say they would never vote for Barack Obama in the primary.

Courtesy of: http://americanresearchgroup.com/

For DesMoines Dem


I am curious what you think of this article. 

David Brooks hits the nail on the head

If you want a good idea of how Hillary Clinton approaches policymaking, read David Brooks's column today: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/05/opinion/05brooks.html?hp. Like most Brooks articles, it is intelligent, well-written, and a good read.  It is about her failed attempt at health care reform in the early 1990s.  Like now, she required the mandate for healthcare – meaning all citizens would be forced to buy health insurance no matter the cost.  He especially focuses on how Hillary abandoned those who had different viewpoints on the issue.  

I remember how Bill Clinton used to say, “keep building those bridges”, as if he imagined a world of people becoming more about similarities than differences.  However, it is interesting how Hillary Clinton has not embraced these ideas and that Barack Obama has.  It really signifies the kind of change that Barack Obama will bring to this country.  A multi-dimensional figure who embodies change and progress – not merely espouses such rhetoric as Bill did – and is not caught up in the divisive Clintonian politics.  We are looking at a new future for our country and I look forward to his politics taking over Washington.  I hope February 5th begins to show us that his change is possible and coming this fall.  

Light up the darkness. 

Political Endorsements: Kennedy's Choice Is Obama

Political endorsements are historically risky across political systems, and any endorsement, no matter at what time in the race for political power, is inherently about values versus risk. It is easy to say, “well why didn't he come out earlier.” But, it is just as easy to say, “why doesn't he wait until later.” “If he truly believed in Obama, why not come out the day after Obama announces his candidacy?” One also might ask, “if he truly believed in Obama, why not endorse Obama the day after he made his 2004 DNC speech?”

Political capital is at risk. Anyone can have big ideas and big values, but a candidate has to prove himself to receive an endorsement. Obama had to prove himself – both in terms of ideas and capability to win – in the national stage. Admittedly, Kennedy could have come out and endorsed Clinton 6 months ago and that would have been less risky. If he endorsed Clinton and she loses the nomination, Kennedy is seen as going with the party establishment and he loses little political capital. Whereas, if he endorsed Obama 6 months ago and he fails to win any of the first four states and gets slaughtered on Super Tuesday, Kennedy looks like a fool. Sure, Kennedy went with his values from the start in that case. But, in the real case, Obama has secured legitimacy – he has convincingly won a few states and has demonstrated he is the change and visionary candidate – and Kennedy can endorse him with little political risk. Why go and shun the Clintons before Obama has proven his ideas can win nationally?

It is also about political timing. Obviously, Kennedy's endorsement is a boon for Obama's candidacy going into Super Tuesday. The endorsement adds legitimacy to Obama. With Kennedy's endorsement, Obama maybe starts turning the eyes of some of those older Clinton supporters who are too narrow-minded to see past what is in front of them and those Edwards supporters who like his ideas but do not see a viable candidate. Aside from the political risk involved in coming out early for Obama, now Kennedy can add a bump to his campaign at a key moment.

In any political system, it is also about the establishment. It is dangerous whenever a new political figure swoops in and freshens the political establishment. The establishment does not want change. The establishment believes it is still their turn. It is still their power to wield. They feel entitled because it is their domain. This is the case in any political system during periods of power change. When leaders go out, there tends to be contention for the vacant leadership post. Luckily, we embrace democracy, and change occurs with relative fluidity compared to that, say, of authoritarian dictatorships in Africa or Asia, past and present. But, perhaps, this year America realizes that the Clintons and the Bushes had their turn and it is now time for the next generation to shape the future of this country. We badly need new direction. The country realizes this and this is why Obama is getting big endorsements as the political risk of doing so declines.

Last, it is about spreading the word. It is important that endorsements such as those by Kennedy help spread the word that Obama is not just a funny name that rhymes with Osama; it is a word that symbolizes the hopes and dreams of new and past generations, those that embraced Kennedy – and even some who embraced aspects of Reagan – and remember Martin Luther King Jr. and think about the leadership of Lincoln. This is not about anointing a new King or Queen in a hereditary lineup, nor is it about who is entitled to lead our country, this is about deciding who best inspires our country to be the best nation that it can be and to produce the best policies that it can. Obviously, Kennedy has seen something in Obama that he wants the rest of the country to see. He wants them to see it before February 5th and that is good enough for me.

Ted Kennedy to Endorse Obama - Tsunami Coming?

Is the tsunami coming? Huge endorsement. Who else is there on the Democratic side that is a more significant endorsement outside of Bill Clinton? With big endorsements coming from the likes of Kerry and now Kennedy – Massachussetts is won – and two sizable victories in two very different looking states; 2 stages of legitimacy have been won and now there is 2 more to go: February 5th and the sprint/skirmish for remaining sway-able delegates. I wonder how Kennedy making this endorsement will influence other important Congressional Democrats to make their endorsements. I would imagine this basically will open the floodgates by and large. What Democrat would not want to jump in and make an endorsement now either way? Either you are for the Democratic Party of Change or the Democratic Party of the Status Quo. I am picturing Dems saying, “well if Kennedy has endorsed somebody, I better get in on this too.” Pick a side and Ride the wave….ride the wave.


 Machiavelli shall be defeated! (Yes I am excited)


Come gather 'round people

Wherever you roam

And admit that the waters

Around you have grown

And accept it that soon

You'll be drenched to the bone.

If your time to you Is worth saving.

Then you better start swimming

Or you'll sink like a stone

For the times they are a-changing 



Obama as the Thief

“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief,

“There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.

Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,

None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.”


“No reason to get excited, the thief,” he kindly spoke,

“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.

But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate,

So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.”


All along the watchtower, princes kept the view.  

While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,

Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

Where is Oprah???

She took a lot of criticism from her fans who are female Hillary supporters (the gender issue), so that may be another reason why she is mum. I don't understand the dynamics of the Feb 5th states comprehensively, but I just don't think he can pull it out without her stature on the trail helping to balance against the Clintons.

My formula for Obama winning the Democratic nomination remains: Convincing SC win (%10) + Oprah campaigning before Feb 5th = Obama nominee.

I'll add to the formula, too. Blowout SC win (15%-25%) – Oprah campaigning before Feb 5th = a toss-up on Super Tuesday.

Close SC win (5% or less) – Oprah = improbable Obama nominee

Loss in SC (0%-5%) – Oprah = Living on a prayer


Any reasonably positive result in SC (-3%-25%) + Oprah = Obama can make a comeback.

Finally, if Oprah somehow decided to campaign in SC and in Feb 5th states, then I think Obama wraps up the nomination on Super Tuesday.

Assumption: The female vote is absolutely critical to Obama's campaign.  If he loses females he loses the nomination.  Because of gender identity (and Hilary's ability to remind females of it), females will naturally vote for Hillary. Therefore, Obama needs a commanding female presence in his campaign.

I do not mean to say that he cannot win other ways, by, say, winning the Latino vote or overwhelmingly convincing the black population to vote for him (which is why if he blows Hillary out in SC, he can still win the nomination without Oprah), I just mean to say that I think Oprah's presence in his campaign would give him the bump he needs to win the nomination. 

Fire It Up!

Dear Supporters of Senator Obama,

Please consider giving a small donation to Senator Obama's campaign and show the special interests that they are not going to dominate this election. Donate at the site below to meet our fundraising goal.


Fired Up! Ready to Go!



Barack Obama Taking the High Road on the Racial Issue


 Asked whether he believed either Mrs. Clinton or former President Bill Clinton had shown racial insensitivity in recent days, he said: “I don't want to rehash that.  I think that Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have historically and consistently been on the right side of civil rights issues.  I think they care about the African-American community and that they care about all Americans and they want to see equal rights and justice in this country.” 


Again, we see why Senator Obama stands for change in this country.  He spoke up and has tried to end the divisive politics of cynicism and negativity.  I think this represents a positive step for Democrats and a deeper glimpse into Obama's character.  The pundits and media in general have gone to town on the bitterness that has grown between the surrogates of Obama and Hillary and hopefully this will tamper down the heat and get the conversation back to the real issues, such as who has the better policy and who will be the better leader.   


Clintons Support Disenfranchisement of Biggest Nevada Union

Is anyone else upset about the Clintons and their supporters trying to disenfranchise thousands of union workers in the Nevada Primary?  I find it sick.  On Martin Luther King Jr. weekend nonetheless!  This is not how Democrats are supposed to act.  We are supposed to be the party of equality, not disenfranchisement of minority Americans.  Where is Edwards on this?  Why doesn't he speak up about this?  It seems that this would be an issue that would be near to his heart.  I am sickened by this.  I am having a harder and harder time understanding how people can support Hillary Clinton when it is so clear that she will sacrifice ethics and authenticity for political power.  More of this country should be sick of this garbage. 

Obama: South Carolina and Nevada

I imagine South Carolina is going to be close. You would think that Obama would be able to do well with the black vote since he has shown he is electable. But, how negative will the Clintons go? I think they are still going to go very negative. They have no incentive not to. I think what the Obama and Clinton campaigns learned from Iowa and New Hampshire is that no matter what the polls say, you have to be on the offensive. Hillary approached Iowa as if she was the leader and Obama approached New Hampshire as if he was the leader. Hillary took less questions at her events leading up to Iowa and then Obama took less questions at his events leading up to New Hampshire. Obama campaigned very well in Iowa, building up and reinforcing the image he wanted Iowa voters to hear in the last few days, while seemingly ignoring that task in New Hampshire. It seemed as if he didn’t want to change anything in the definition of his image because it worked in Iowa. On the other hand, Clinton went on the offensive in New Hampshire, pulling out all the stops to show that she is likeable.

I think the Iron My Shirt incident was staged. It’s a classic campaign tactic: Recreate your opposition in a controlled environment and in a manner that makes you look better. Nobody likes it, especially when it works, but it’s effectiveness is hard to ignore. It’s the same thing that Foxnews does when they try to have a fair and balanced discussion with the lowest of intelligence liberal democrat they can find that will argue (poorly) for the liberal cause on their show. They can basically make the opposition look like a fool. And, I’m not saying I don’t think NBC does it either. The point of all this is that Hillary out campaigned Obama. That’s it. The polls were overblown and Obama bought into that, just like we did. He was not on the offensive in New Hampshire and Hillary was.  

South Carolina will be a toss up. Ultimately, I think Obama wins by 3 or 4%. I think the black vote will come out for him enough to get the win, but it’s going to be dirty and close. I think Bill showed yesterday what he is going to do in New Hampshire – basically try to call Obama a phony. I don’t know what Hillary will do, but I would imagine she is going to continue to do the emotional show because of how effective that was in New Hampshire. Who knows if that will work. Obama needs Oprah out there speaking for him. The sooner she gets on the trail with him the better.  

I’m not totally worried about Nevada. Unfortunately, I have not seen any polls from Nevada. The union endorsement Obama got last night was important. I have this feeling though that Hillary is pretty strong there. Basically, he must win South Carolina and Nevada. I don’t think he can win Super Tuesday without those two. He needs the face time more than anything.  

It’s not just that Obama has moving speeches, but that he has shown consistently the ability to make good decisions and explain his decisions better than any candidate. You can tell that he thinks deeply about what he is saying, not just what he will say. With Hillary there is a script and a general fakiness that is reminiscent to how Bush was on his stump speeches. He knew what he had to say, but throw him a curveball and he would sound like a bumbling moron. Hillary won’t sound like a moron because she is more studied than that, but she would say whatever scripted thought she had rather than deliver a thought genuine to the moment and intricacies of the question or problem proposed. I think Obama has supreme reasoning skills and, in my opinion, it is not always what policies you have made that are important to being a good President, but the type of experiences you have had. I think the most interesting people in the world are those with varied experiences. The people who have lived in Mozambique for 2 years as Peace Corps volunteers, or those who have given a year or two to take low wages to help the poor, or those who generally do something that is greater than themselves. There is no question that Hillary has sacrificed to get where she is at, but what did she sacrifice? She sacrificed having a true family, a loyal husband, and what else that signifies a depth of character? I just don’t know. I just do not see much a difference between her style of politics and that of Bush. I want change and until Obama started saying it, she hadn’t even mentioned the word. So, it’s not just a speech. There is more there, if you are willing to look.  

Brief thought on Krugman

It is symbolic that Krugman's article the day after the caucus is on the “Far East”.  I just find it comical, actually.  Brooks wrote a very good piece and appears to be more in touch with what Americans wants than Krugman.

Thoughts On Obama's Foreign Policy Forum

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Judgment was the key word at the forum.  The three advisors that were there discussed Obama's judgment and his ability to unite the country on foreign policy (unity used to be the status quo in Congress and has lately been divided b/t red and blue).  They also talked about his ability to rebuild America's image so that other countries' leaders will not have to sacrifice political points at home when they choose to work with the United States.  Sarkozy was an example of this.  He came in to power in France wanting to work with the United States but because the United States had ruined its image (its soft power) in the world, it became a political risk for him to work with the US.

So, basically the talk was about emphasizing Obama's ability to unite the country and to bring America's and the world's interest closer together.  At home he does not want to pit Republican foreign policy against Democrat foreign policy, but rather find a middle ground that would allow us to pursue foreign policy consistently and effectively.  He thinks unity is essential to successful and consistent American foreign policy, and I would agree.

Most importantly, the forum demonstrated that Obama can handle his own on foreign policy with his future advisors, some of which, especially Tony Lake, have been around Washington for a while and are seasoned bureaucrats.  Tony Lake is a smart diplomat/bureaucrat and it is good to see Obama got him from the Clinton campaign.  He did some interesting things during the Clinton administration.

The forum also allowed Obama to use foreign policy jargon, such as sticks and carrots, and to elaborate on how he would use them when dealing with difficult countries.

Another key point was that he called attention to the fact that in a debate earlier in the summer or spring he was questioned and then attacked by the Clinton camp for his idea about engaging our enemies by talking to them.  He reiterated the point that talking to one's enemies is not a bad thing.  We have to engage our enemies in order to settle our differences.  Isolating them and not negotiating is a negative use of our power.  But, what was interesting in when he said this was that he pointed out that after he made this comment in the debate this summer that the Bush administration started engaging North Korea and Iran.  Bush wrote a letter to the Iranian leader and also sent high level diplomats to North Korea to negotiate a nuclear settlement.  Obama spoke and the Bush administration listened, so to speak.

Obama talked especially strongly about reinitiating citizen involvement in our foreign policy. He talked about doubling the size of the Peace Corps, giving more funding to Americans studying abroad, and making it easier for foreigners to come and study at our university. He pointed out that part of what is so great about having exchange programs is that it softens the image and the relationship of two countries. Each person brings back to his or her country a new respect and understanding for the other country. Obama articulated that this is essential to America's effort to rebuild its image in the coming decades. Again, I agree with this.

He is taking the same approach that Kennedy had: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. Citizen involvement in foreign policy has taken a huge hit with the Bush administration. Every time I have traveled abroad this decade (twice to Europe, once to Mexico) I have had to explain to at least one person why they should respect America even though they hate the Bush administration. That is the job of our citizens who go abroad, especially when our country is in such low standing in the world: to conduct foreign policy individually. Yet, it becomes harder and harder to convince people to go along with what you're saying when your country's government acts arrogantly and imperialistically at the expense of other countries well-being.

Essentially, Obama continues to show good judgment when it comes to foreign policy.  Political experience in WAshington is not everything.  Unique experiences prior to coming to Washington have made Obama a good judge on how to handle different foreign policy situations.  He showed it with his correct predictions about the Iraq war in 2002 and he has showed it throughout the campaign this year.   

Iowa Opinion and Caucus Night Hopes

The Iowa voter's opinion is like a chameleon.  Usually you have no idea where the hell they're at, but you get the general sense that they're in the same room as you because you can occasionally hear its noises and see its movements.  I have a lot of respect for the Iowa voter.  They are diligent and earnest in their picks.  Of course there are the undecideds and the few of the masses who are asses, but for the most part, Iowans that follow politics give their heart to making the right decision.

My hope is that Obama wins Iowa with Edwards and Clinton finishing 2nd and 3rd, respectively.  I just have to think that Democrats don't just want any Democrat to come into office in 2009, they want a candidate who will give vision and direction back to the country.  I think that Iowans will realize that Hillary resembles the same old politics as usual and that Obama appears more as an innovator for the party.  I think they'll end up being turned off by Edwards' excessively liberal and anti-corporatist approach (which is even estranging me a little) and they will find that Obama is the middle between Edwards and Clinton.  I assume that Democrats are not as hung up on the whole UNIVERSAL healthcare issue as Krugman seems to be, but would rather see the safety net be both existent and effective when it is needed.  It will not be a smooth ride if we go from our current healthcare system to a mandated universal healthcare system.  Obama's approach is more gradual and it still gets the job done.  Mandating health insurance is not like mandating car insurance.  Car insurance covers liability – the safety of others well-being in the case of an accident.  There is no equivalent for health insurance.  Health insurance just protects self, not other.  If it protected other, then I would be open to a mandate.  But, if we are just talking about protecting self, then it should be made available by government for a competitive cost, but it does not need to be mandated.  Maybe eventually it should be mandated, but I think the shock and costs would be too high to not take a gradual approach. 

Barack Obama at Key Foreign Policy Forum Tuesday Morning

Barack Obama will be discussing foreign policy with four of his foreign policy advisors tomorrow at the Holiday Inn Conference Center at the Des Moines airport.


This should be a good opportunity for him to separate further from the Hillary camp on foreign policy issues and articulate why he has the political and life experience necessary to be the next President of the United States.

I may be posting in my diary from this event.  It depends if I can get a ride into Des Moines, otherwise I will just comment on what I read about it.