Friday, March 28, 2008

Rush is in the clear

Officials from the Ohio Attorney General's Office say they have "no intention" of prosecuting conservative talk show king Rush Limbaugh for his Operation Chaos, where he encouraged listeners in the Buckeye State to cross over to the Democratic Party long enough to cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton.

"We need Barack Obama bloodied up politically, and it's obvious that the Republicans are not going to do it and don't have the stomach for it, as you probably know," Limbaugh said to fellow right-wing talker Laura Ingraham on Feb. 29.

Never mind that what Limbaugh encouraged Republican voters to do in Ohio was a fifth-degree felony in that state, punishable with a $2,500 fine and six to 12 months in jail. That is because in order to change party affiliation in Ohio, voters have to fill out a form swearing allegiance to that party's principles "under penalty of election falsification."

But state officials aren't going to prosecute, and here's why:

"We have no intention of prosecuting Rush Limbaugh, because lying through your teeth and being stupid isn't a crime," said Leo Jennings, a spokesman for Democratic Attorney General Marc Dann.
Good thing. Who would run the government?

Dean to Dem supers: Declare by July 1!

DNC Chairman Howard Dean said today that he would like the party's superdelegates to declare their allegiance to either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama by July 1. This is presumably to give party fathers a chance to broker a deal to avoid a nasty convention floor fight that would surely include a nasty credentials committee meeting and would likely end with a splintered Democratic Party going into the general election.

On Fox News Channel just now, Democratic strategist Bob Beckel said that "someone should give Dean a clock with Greenwich Mean Time," because the last contest is on June 3, and there is no reason the supers can't make up their minds by June 4. In fact, he said, they are "obligated" to do so.

It's obvious that Beckel was referring to a moral obligation, and not a legal one; "we can stop the bleeding," Beckel said, "and get this thing over with."

"It's about time" Dean showed some leadership on this issue, he said. If he can't, Beckel said, "we need to take his credentials and give them to someone who can."

See? I told you the Democrats were getting antsy. Beckel is downright grumpy, and that's indicative of the feeling of party insiders all over the country: Donna Brazile had just given the same analysis about Democrats' feelings about the race in the "Strategy Session" segment in the previous hour on CNN.

Usually in campaigns, it's the candidates doing the messaging. This time, it's the party leaders themselves, on message and signaling to their candidates that they've had just about enough.

No experience required

I heard about this story yesterday:

A £150 million arms contract to Afghanistan has been suspended following reports that a US company run by a 22-year-old sold dated and unreliable ammunition originating from China and former Eastern Bloc states.

The Pentagon awarded the contract to AEY and its youthful president, Efraim Diveroli, last January.

However, AEY is now under criminal investigation after details of the contract were revealed in the press. AEY also faces being barred from future procurement work.
£150 million = $300 million, by the way.

Can someone please tell me what the government is doing giving a $300 million arms contract to a 22-year-old kid????

Maybe it's just because, according to his MySpace page, "of course, im (sic) a super nice guy!!!"

Gore: 'We'll see'

Former Vice President Al Gore said yesterday that he believes the contentious race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will resolve itself, but "we'll see."

As the Clinton-Obama race has dragged on, Gore's name has been thrown into the mix by some Democrats as a potential compromise candidate. Joe Klein wrote the following in a Time magazine article this week:

I played out that scenario with about a dozen prominent Democrats recently, from various sectors of the party, including both Obama and Clinton partisans. Most said it was extremely unlikely ... and a pretty interesting idea. A prominent fund raiser told me, "Gore-Obama is the ticket a lot of people wanted in the first place." A congressional Democrat told me, "This could be our way out of a mess." Others suggested Gore was painfully aware of his limitations as a candidate. "I don't know that he'd be interested, even if you handed it to him," said a Gore friend. Chances are, no one will hand it to him. The Democratic Party would have to be monumentally desperate come June. And yet ... is this scenario any more preposterous than the one that gave John McCain the Republican nomination? Yes, it's silly season. But this has been an exceptionally "silly" year.
"Monumentally desperate?" That's not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

FEC violations? NAH!!!!!

So what were we just talking about regarding John McCain's London fundraiser?

Foreign nationals are prohibited from contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly ... doesn't it just look bad for Mr. Campaign Finance Reform to be raising money overseas? After all, those Americans living in England -- or anywhere else abroad, for that matter -- who support McCain can certainly donate online ...
Well, what do you know? There's word tonight that the governor of Puerto Rico is accused in an indictment of soliciting thousands of dollars in improper contributions in exchange for favors and government contracts on the U.S. commonwealth island, according to this Washington Post report.

The governor, Anibel Acevedo Vila, "was indicted with four Philadelphia donors to his campaigns and a Puerto Rican business owner, all of whom were alleged to be seeking favors and introductions to federal and island agencies. Seven current and former gubernatorial aides, including an administrator of the island's Washington office, were charged in the alleged conspiracy," the Post says.

Incidentally, Acevedo Vila is a superdelegate who has pledged his support for Barack Obama. In his efforts to clear his name in light of the investigations that led to these indictments, he has also employed the services of Charlie Black Jr., a prominent Washington attorney who is also a top adviser to John McCain.

I am not alleging anything improper in the McCain event. I'm just saying that it looks bad to be gathering greenbacks overseas ... and this is the reason why.

Hillary's in on the "secret"

Remember a month ago when I told you in my column that there was no such thing as a pledged delegate, at least not in the way the mainstream media has assumed?

Just when we thought understood this delegate madness at least enough to know what to call them, The Politico's Roger Simon on Tuesday revealed the Democrats' dirty little delegate secret: Pledged delegates aren't really "pledged" at all; since nothing in DNC rules binds them to vote for any particular candidate based on that candidate's performance in his state, they are just as "super" as their more popular (for now, anyway) counterparts.
As it turns out, Hillary Clinton has been paying a lot of attention to that little-known wrinkle in DNC rules. She and/or her surrogates have pointed out that "pledged" delegates are free to make their own decisions "nearly half a dozen times this month," according to this CNN report today.

Clinton herself is clearly laying the groundwork for a nasty convention fight in Denver. More from the CNN article:

"Every delegate with very few exceptions is free to make up his or her mind however they choose," Clinton told Time's Mark Halperin in an interview published Wednesday.

"We talk a lot about so-called pledged delegates, but every delegate is expected to exercise independent judgment," she said.
Add this to comments she made to Greta Van Susteren about convention credential fights and her consideration of what is being called the Tonya Harding option," and it's clear that Clinton is getting ready to rumble.

Hillary's "marksmanship"

I hate to pile on (OK, not really), but this clip from YouTube is just hysterical.

Everyone is talking about it; it's what the CBS footage would have looked like if Hillary Clinton's account of her 1996 trip to Bosnia had been true.

The funniest part comes at 0:36 when the voiceover explains how Clinton "even showed off a little marksmanship on a terrorist hiding under a tank." You just have to see it.

I especially like the use of the word "sniper-y," as in, "Top generals agree that there is no place more dangerous and sniper-y than Bosnia right now."

Click the link. It will be the funniest 56 seconds of your day ... at least, at work.

It's all about perspective

Hillary Clinton's recent interview with Fox News Channel's Greta Van Susteren was aired last night, and it came as no surprise that Clinton vowed to fight on throughout the remainder of the nomination process and even to the convention, if necessary.

But what did surprise me a bit was her tone and the perspective she has of the race:

"Well, this is a really close election. Despite what some might say, it is a very close election in the popular vote and in the delegates," she said. "We have 10 contests ahead of us, plus, don’t forget, Florida and Michigan. You know, I keep beating this drum ... millions of people are going to be voting in the next three months, and I hope that will include Florida and Michigan."
(Keep in mind, this is just four days after the publication of a Politico article that led, "One big fact has largely been lost in the recent coverage of the Democratic presidential race: Hillary Rodham Clinton has virtually no chance of winning.")

Of course, Clinton won the disputed contests in Florida and Michigan, states whose delegates are excommunicated from the convention in August because of their insistence of moving their primaries up ahead of Super Tuesday. But calling those "wins" stretches the definition a bit to the point of making it unrecognizable, since none of the Democratic candidates campaigned in Florida and only Clinton's name appeared on the ballot (FNC's Brit Hume called it a "Soviet-style ballot) in Michigan.

But maybe that's not surprising; after all, this is a woman who insists that she is in a "really close election."

She also made it clear that, Howard Dean's preferences and deal-making promises notwithstanding, If Florida's and Michigan's delegates are not seated (read: in her favor), Clinton has no intention of working anything out with Barack Obama a minute ahead of the credentials committee meeting at the convention in Denver:

"You know, you can always go to the convention. That's what credential fights are for," she said. "Let's have the Democratic party go on record against seating the Michigan and Florida delegations three months before the general election? I don't think that will happen. I think they will be seated. So that's where we're headed if we don't get this worked out."

You can read the rest of the FNC article here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


OK, so it's taken me about two hours, but I think I finally figured out the feedburner thing.

There is a reason that I did not major in management information systems.

But the subscription button is there! So if you enjoy this site, if you find it useful for a laugh or an update during your coffee break, or if you only stumbled across this blog to read what I wrote about Suzanne Malveaux (come on, guys, I only mentioned her that one time!), do me a favor and subscribe!

And, of course, SHARE!!


Hmmm ...

Something just occurred to me ... Could that unnamed DNC official in the previous post be Howard Dean?

Dean has made no secret of his unhappiness with the way this nomination process has dragged out. When asked about the possibility of a brokered convention, here's what he told a group at Columbia University in New York on Feb. 28, according to Politico's Ben Smith:

"First, we let the voters have their say. Then the superdelegates have their say. If that doesn't work, the three of us will sit down and work something out," the DNC chairman said. "We can't go to Denver divided."
Obviously, Dean wants this thing finished -- like, yesterday. Obviously, he has no intention of hosting a convention floor fight. So it certainly behooves him to put pressure on Clinton to get out.

And even if it wasn't Dean (let's remember that the overarching principle guiding all of politics, after all, is plausible deniability), one has to wonder whether any DNC official would step out this way if doing so wasn't at least softly sanctioned by the boss man.

In other words, one has to wonder whether any DNC official would step out this way if the boss man hadn't already said ...


Sorry. Couldn't help it. :)

(Bonus: Click here for a link where you can hear the audio of The Scream. It's just plain funny. And, incidentally, it's part of a BBC slideshow called, "When a campaign dies." Coincidence?)

The 'Tonya Harding option'

I watched cable news all day yesterday and today, but I have just now heard about this, and it's thanks to a blog, of all things!

Facing an insurmountable deficit in pledged delegates, Hillary Clinton needed a new strategy to wrest the Democratic presidential nomination away from Barack Obama. ABC's Senior National Correspondent Jake Tapper reports that she's settled on the nuclear option that we all knew was coming:

She will have to "break his back," the (DNC) official said. She will have to destroy Obama, make Obama completely unacceptable.

"Her securing the nomination is certainly possible - but it will require exercising the 'Tonya Harding option,'" the official said. "Is that really what we Democrats want?"

The Tonya Harding Option -- the first time I've heard it put that way.

It implies that Clinton is so set on ensuring that Obama doesn't get the nomination, not only is she willing to take extra-ruthless steps, but in the end neither she nor Obama win the gold.
You can read the full post here ... Pay particular attention to the last sentence of the comment posted by Casual Observer at 9:30 p.m. tonight.

If you're not sure of the import of this statement, here's a link to a backgrounder on Tonya Harding and why this is bad, bad news for Democrats.
Think the last few weeks have been rough? Buckle down; it looks like it's about to get worse.

Something hilarious!

You know that whenever I read something political that makes me laugh out loud, I am going to share it with you.

(We'll leave it aside for now that I laugh at a lot of things that people around me don't think are funny at all ...) :)

Well, tonight's offering comes from a web site called The Operative Blog. There's a post there about Hillary Clinton's Bosnia blunder ... and it's titled, "Pantsuit on Fire."

That's just plain funny!!

Too bad he missed Prime Minister's Questions ...

Speaking of McCain, maybe someone will ask him at some point this week how he did at that $1,000-a-plate fundraiser in London on Friday.

What? You didn't know about it? Hmm ... oh, that's right ... mainstream media was too busy telling us about Obama's trip to the Virgin Islands to say much about it.

The Washington Post blog has the invitation, along with an interesting string of comments from people who argue about why McCain would seek to raise funds overseas.

(We interrupt this post to bring you this important message from the FEC:

Foreign nationals are prohibited from contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly.

We now return you to the post currently in progress.)
But there are plenty of ex-pats living in London (and one of my best friends is among them), so there is plenty of low-hanging American fruit, so to speak, to be harvested there.

But be that as it may, doesn't it just look bad for Mr. Campaign Finance Reform to be raising money overseas? After all, those Americans living in England -- or anywhere else abroad, for that matter -- who support McCain can certainly donate online.

The problem here is that there is no real assurance that the money being gathered is from American citizens, other than a line at the bottom of the donation form where the campaign asks for the obligatory certification that you are eligible to donate to a federal political campaign.

But what am I concerned about? We know that no one ever lies on FEC forms.

McCain back on message

After uncomfortably delivering an uncomfortable address on the economy yesterday, John McCain is getting back into his comfort zone -- foreign affairs and the military -- with an address today before the Los Angeles-based World Affairs Council.

It makes such a difference. Where he sounded yesterday like a grumpy grandfather who won't loan you any money to get out of a jam, today he sounded like a thoughtful, learned world leader who is the best candidate to be commander-in-chief.

McCain is at his best when he's talking about national security. With his background, it's not surprising. This speech was effective because it was measured and deeply personal. It was a clear demonstration of why neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama can match him where military issues are concerned.

Actually, it was a good speech for exactly the same reasons Obama's speech on race last week was so effective: Both men spoke from a personal perspective on an issues that they have lived.

The only curious thing about McCain's speech was how -- and why -- he managed to work global warming into the topics covered. It was the "????" moment in an otherwise solid piece.

Incidentally, McCain is running even with Clinton and just slightly ahead of Obama in the latest RealClearPolitics national polls. With the economy in the tank, the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq just passed and President Bush's approval numbers in the low 30s, McCain is holding his own -- and that's good news for his campaign.

Clinton: 'I'm human'

Here's Hillary Clinton's mea culpa on the Bosnia flap:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says she made a mistake in claiming that she came under hostile fire when landing in Bosnia as first lady 12 years ago.

In several recent interviews, the New York senator had described a harrowing scene in Bosnia in which she and her daughter, Chelsea, had to run for cover as soon as they landed for a visit in 1996. But video footage of the day showed a peaceful reception in which Clinton greeted a young child on the tarmac.

Clinton told reporters in Pennsylvania on Tuesday: "So I made a mistake. That happens. It shows I'm human, which for some people is a revelation."
If I was an Obama surrogate, I wouldn't be able to get to a TV camera fast enough to say, "Yes, it's true; Hillary Clinton is human and she makes mistakes. Let's just hope it's not at 3 a.m."

Sometimes I just can't help the former campaign manager in me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Paging inventory control ...

You know, cuts to the military budget have just gone too far when you don't have proper inventory control. It just looks so unprofessional when you receive a simple order for helicopter batteries, and you mistakenly send nose cone fuses for intercontinental ballistic missiles instead.

It's made even worse when the recipient of said missle parts has been having trouble with a particularly testy neighbor ... and when the recipient itself has to notify you -- two years later -- of the mistake because you obviously didn't notice any nose cone fuses for intercontinental ballistic missles missing from your inventory.


Bill Richardson's Ross impression

This one's for all the Friends fans out there.

During Friday's press conference where New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson endorsed Barack Obama for president, did anyone else notice anything strange about Richardson?


Maybe this clip will help ... Fast forward to 4:12.

See? Politics CAN be fun!!

Hillary "misspoke"

All the buzz this morning is about Hillary Clinton's dramatic description last week about a trip she took to Bosnia in 1996.

From CNN's story:

She said when she arrived in Bosnia on March 25, 1996, "I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."

But news video footage of her arrival at Tuzla shows Clinton, then the first lady, calmly walking from the rear ramp of a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane with her daughter, Chelsea, then 16, at her side. Both Clintons held their heads up and did not appear rushed as they walked toward the group waiting on the tarmac to welcome them.

The video shows Clinton spending several minutes talking with the group, including an 8-year-old Bosnian girl who presented her with a poem, and later greeting U.S. troops.
Clinton explained later to the Philadelphia Daily News' editorial board (she was interviewing for the News' endorsement, don't ya know) that there really wasn't a discrepancy, and that she just "misspoke.

"Now let me tell you what I can remember, OK -- because what I was told was that we had to land a certain way and move quickly because of the threat of sniper fire. So I misspoke -- I didn't say that in my book or other times but if I said something that made it seem as though there was actual fire -- that's not what I was told," she told the newspaper.

"I was told we had to land a certain way, we had to have our bulletproof stuff on because of the threat of sniper fire. I was also told that the greeting ceremony had been moved away from the tarmac but that there was this 8-year-old girl and, I can't, I can't rush by her, I've got to at least greet her -- so I greeted her, I took her stuff and then I left. Now that's my memory of it."
So do you believe Hillary Last Week or Hillary Today? Check out the video on YouTube and decide for yourself.

Pundits, including Politico's Mike Allen in the CBS clip above, say that this is just another example of Clinton exaggerating her foreign policy experience. I say it's just another example of a Clinton rewriting the dictionary.

Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines "misspoke" as an intransitive verb that means, "to express (oneself) imperfectly or incorrectly." A "misstatement" is something that is stated incorrectly.

These definitions don't quite cover what Clinton did, because neither word considers intent. (And there's always intent in a presidential campaign.) But there is one word that does:

lie: intransitive verb
1: to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive
2 : to create a false or misleading impression

Monday, March 24, 2008

Fundraising call!

Hey, I just got a fundraising call from the John McCain campaign! The woman sounded like she had been mainlining Red Bull all afternoon; either that, or she's a close relative of that Micro Machines guy. Here's what she said -- at least, the part of it I heard and can recall:

Mrs. Foster!! I'm SO glad to reach you today!! I'm sure you weren't surprised to see the Liberal Democrats attacking Senator McCain! ... We can't afford a Clinton or Obama presidency!! ... We have to raise $10 million in the next 30 days to remain competitive!!!


Can Senator McCain count on you for a contribution of $150 on your credit or debit card today?!?!?!
Now, does anyone else find irony in a Republican candidate for president, especially one running for president in an economic climate like this one and on a platform of restoring economic accountability to Washington, asking me to contribute "even a more manageable" $100 or $75 on my credit or debit card?

I had a lot to say about that suggestion, but I decided not to take it out on the poor lady who was calling me from Twin Cities, Minn. After all, once the Red Bull runs out, she might not even remember calling me.


The death toll of American troops in Iraq reached 4,000 Sunday with the deaths of four soliders in an IED attack.

Whatever you think about the war in Iraq as a policy, please take some time to honor these soliders and think about their sacrifice. The Washington Post's Faces of the Fallen project, which also provides a link to observe the sacrifices of those Americans killed in Afghanistan, is an excellent place to start.

Remember that every single one of those fallen servicemembers made a conscious choice to protect and defend our country. You are able to read this blog and click on that link -- or ignore it -- because of that choice they made, and their fellow servicemembers continue to make, every day.

Pennsylvania update

If you're a Pennsylvania resident, today is the last day to register to vote or to change your party affiliation ahead of the April 22 primary.

But then again, you've probably already heard that. As a voter in the last remaining super-primary, you're, like, SO popular with the candidates, dude.

The latest RealClearPolitics poll numbers show Hillary Clinton above the 50 percent mark with a 16.6 percentage point lead in the Keystone State, so Barack Obama's supporters there have made registering new voters a priority ahead of what is widely expected to be a disappointing night for them. According to this story from the International Herald Tribune, Obama supporters are targeting, especially, Republican and independent voters to help shore up his popular vote tally -- the number that Clinton hopes to be able to pound into the heads of superdelegates at the convention in August. (Check out the last paragraph of the IHT story, in particular, for an example of how politics is an art as well as a science.)

This will be key to the electability argument that you're going to be hearing so much about over the next eight weeks. I'll tell you more about why in my column this week.

Looking for Obama links?

If you're here for the links to the Obama speech, click here. I will probably permalink to them in the rail in the next couple of days. In the meantime, use the link above -- or just scroll down a couple of posts.

For those of you who are watching the speech, isn't it fun being one of the only people out there who actually know what you're talking about? :)

Reality check, compliments of Politico

This Politico article got a lot of attention this weekend.

Leave it to the Politico, a site by political junkies for political junkies, to take an unvarnished look at the state of the race (no, not that kind of race) for the Democratic nomination for president.

Here's the lead:

One big fact has largely been lost in the recent coverage of the Democratic presidential race: Hillary Rodham Clinton has virtually no chance of winning.
The article goes on to burst the bubble of political junkies everywhere who dream of that most intriguing of political showdowns -- a convention floor fight -- by laying out the sad truth:

People who think that scenario is even remotely likely are living on another planet.
And just in case you didn't get it before, there's this:

In other words: The notion of the Democratic contest being a dramatic cliffhanger is a game of make-believe.
Clintonistas couldn't have seen this article as helpful.

Or could they?

Notice that the article quotes several people close to the campaign: advisers, strategists, fundraisers, etc. These folks, wrapped in the cloak of anonymity (don't even get me started on that one), take the electability argument that we are going to hear a lot of in the coming weeks and months out for a test drive without having to publicly embarrass the Junior Senator from New York. In effect, they can keep up the facade of a tight contest for voters while whispering reality in the ears of the press.

In HillaryWorld, where little to nothing happens without being polled, tweaked, polled again and focus-grouped, don't put it past the campaign to have actually set those interviews up.

Because, after all, you can't reap the harvest of general-election reservation without sewing a few seeds of suitability doubt.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Rush to judgment?

Has Rush Limbaugh finally gone too far?

In his zeal to get Barack Obama "bloodied up politically," Limbaugh encouraged Republican voters to forego their party primaries in Ohio and Texas on March 4 and cast votes for Clinton.

Of course, for Republicans in Ohio, necessitated the completion of a change-of-registration form -- and the signing of a loyalty oath to the Democratic Party.

From left-leaning

What Limbaugh encouraged Republican voters to do in Ohio was a fifth-degree felony in that state, punishable with a $2,500 fine and six to 12 months in jail. That is because in order to change party affiliation in Ohio, voters have to fill out a form swearing allegiance to that party's principles "under penalty of election falsification."
And thousands of Republicans did, including one who, according to a March 20 report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "scribbled the following addendum to his pledge as a new Democrat: 'For one day only.'"

Could Limbaugh be charged with voter fraud for encouraging such crossover voting?

Here are some excerpts of things Limbaugh said before and after the March 4 contests:

"I want Hillary to stay in this, Laura," Limbaugh told Laura Ingraham on Feb. 29, near the start of his Hillary crusade. "This is too good a soap opera. We need Barack Obama bloodied up politically, and it's obvious that the Republicans are not going to do it and don't have the stomach for it, as you probably know."

And on Wednesday, the day after the Ohio primary, Fox News asked Clinton if she owed Limbaugh a thank you. "Be careful what you wish for, Rush," she replied. Later that day, Limbaugh played the Fox tape on his show and said, "How do you interpret this, folks? She could have said thank you. She could have said thank you! In fact, I was expecting in her victory speech last night to be thanked.

"I helped give Mrs. Clinton the biggest and happiest moment and night of the campaign season so far, maybe her life, and she tells me, "Be careful what you wish for, Rush"? Why, that sounds like a threat, does it not? I've got a Democrat presidential candidate threatening your host. Why, I am stunned! After all I did ..."

Read the entire AlterNet article here.