Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Quick Time Out

The stitches came out today.

I did my taxes last night. I owe more than the GDP of several Third World nations (not that I'm complaining, just a bit...OK, this was expected, but I still wasn't ready for it!).

I'm getting the hell out of dodge tomorrow for a few days. I need a break and got an offer that I had previously turned down which will enable me to just hang out.

See ya Tuesday!

Hump Day Comedy Blogging

The Four Yorkshiremen

They haven't written stuff this funny in sixty years...

The Money Train

Here's another interesting piece from Jake Tapper, who seems to be waking up to the Obama campaign, finally:
Despite his previous pledge to enter into the public financing system should he be the Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has recently been reluctant to re-commit to entering the system.

This reluctance has coincided with his primary, caucus, and fundraising successes. For that reluctance, Obama has been hammered as hypocritical by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., not to mention impartial observers.

Tonight at a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., at the National Museum of Women in the Arts -- at a $2,300-per-person event for 200 people held before a $1,000-per-person reception for 350 people -- Obama previewed his argument to justify this possible future discarding of a principle.

"We have created a parallel public financing system where the American people decide if they want to support a campaign they can get on the Internet and finance it, and they will have as much access and influence over the course and direction of our campaign that has traditionally been reserved for the wealthy and the powerful," Obama said.
I think Obama assumes two things: one, the success of his primary fundraising will falter in the general election, as people whose spirit is willing but wallets faltering run out of money, and he has to rely then on assumption number two, that he'll gobble up the lion's share of Hillary's donor base in the general election.

You know, fat cat money.

His first assumption, that people will flat out run out of money, is spot on. Already, his monthly totals have plateaued, and even slipped, comparatively speaking. As the economy falters further and people start getting laid off and can't find work, his well runs drier each day.

Admittedly, with Super Tuesday being so early in the cycle, this is slightly skewed, but I think I'm not far off in the fund-raising activity area. Already, I'm getting money calls from Obama's campaign, and they know I'm in Hillary's camp.

His second assumption is dicey. It really depends on whether party loyalty and a dislike for McCain will translate into keeping Democrats, particularly traditional "Reagan Democrats Who've Got Bucks", in line. Given how hard he's hammered Hillary, and how close all three candidates are on so many issues (absent Iraq), it's not hard to see how people might defect.

Should both assumptions hold true, then we should expect Obama to raise an awful lot of money. If even the first assumption is untrue (not likely) and the second assumption is true (likely), he's going to outraise both party candidates from the 2004 general election.

However, if the nightmare scenario I've postulated-- first assumption true, second assumption untrue-- arises, Obama will be in deeply serious goo if he turns his back on his pledge.

A pledge is a promise. If he betrays that promise, and then it explodes in his face, it will be a long time before he can show up on the national scene again. He can betray that pledge by just raising money, lots of it, from people who will smell a chance to own a piece of a President.

But that's not going to sit well with the starry-eyed dreamers who have flocked to his candidacy in the forlorn and futile hope that somehow, a deeply ambitious, more ambitious than any other politico in history, politician would be "different".

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Interesting Story, More Interesting Comments

I happened to run across this rather interesting little tidbit along the journey through the news today:
"Foreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident that I know more and understand the world better than Senator Clinton or Senator McCain," Obama said, according to the Huffington Post.

"It's ironic because this is supposedly the place where experience is most needed to be Commander-in-Chief. Experience in Washington is not knowledge of the world. This I know. When Senator Clinton brags 'I've met leaders from eighty countries' -- I know what those trips are like! I've been on them. You go from the airport to the embassy. There's a group of children who do native dance. You meet with the CIA station chief and the embassy and they give you a briefing. You go take a tour of a plant that [with] the assistance of USAID has started something. And then -- you go."

"You do that in eighty countries," Obama said, "You don't know those eighty countries. So when I speak about having lived in Indonesia for four years, having family that is impoverished in small villages in Africa --knowing the leaders is not important -- what I know is the people...I traveled to Pakistan when I was in college -- I knew what Sunni and Shia was [sic] before I joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee."

This last part -- a college trip to Pakistan -- was news to many of us who have been following the race closely. And it was odd that we hadn't hear about it before, given all the talk of Pakistan during this campaign.

So I asked the Obama campaign for more information.

Apparently, according to the Obama campaign, In 1981 -- the year Obama transferred from Occidental College to Columbia University -- Obama visited his mother and sister Maya in Indonesia. After that visit, Obama traveled to Pakistan with a friend from college whose family was from there. The Obama campaign says Obama was in Pakistan for about three weeks, staying with his friend's family in Karachi and also visiting Hyderabad in Southern India.
Now, no big deal, right? I mean, after all, college kids travel and while many kids went off to the Bahamas or Florida, Barack Obama travelled to visit relations and friend's relations in South Asia.

But Tapper's point is interesting: given how Obama all but included either an invasion of Pakistan or a nuclear bomb drop on it in his vision of the Global War on an Emotion, you'd think at some point this little item would have come out from the candidate's camp long before this.

More intriguing is this comment in replies to the piece:
Jake, you said you were surprise (sic) to suddenly learn about this Obama trip, this goes a long way to show that the media has looked the other way while another arrogant and incompetent man runs close to the whitehouse (sic). While salivating and drooling, the media has failed to vet this man, just as they failed to ask GOP and Bush/Cheney tough questions about Iraq. It is the massive disinformation of the nation, stupid. Obama is a mediocre, smart but too shallow. His chances in this race is an indictment (sic) on the media's bias and incompetent.

- Posted by: Ed Banks | Apr 8, 2008 9:33:25 AM
Obama has gotten a pretty fair shake by the media, practically kid gloves and all.

I recall that, when Obama was first gearing up his candidacy, many darkly shaded questions about his Muslim background were raised: that he was schooled in a Madrassah, that he's sworn allegiance to the Koran and converted to Christianity as a front.

OK, all crackpot theories, to be sure, but all deserving of at least a little fact-checking, you'd think. After all, this is the same media that went gangbusters when it was revealed during the 1992 campaign that Bill Clinton had travelled to the Soviet Union as a college student!

How does a college trip to Pakistan a) pass under the simple fact-check of asking Barack Obama, "So where have you been in your life that you feel you can speak to foreign affairs issues?" and b) pass without mention in any of the books Obama has written to demonstrate his bona fides as a President?

Come on, it's not like Pakistan suddenly blipped on our radar in 2002 after the September 11 tragedies! During the 2000 campaign, much sport was made regarding the fact that George Bush couldn't even name the new dictator president of Pakistan, Pervez Mussharraf, despite the fact that, oh, THEY DETONATED NUKES JUST TWO YEARS EARLIER!

All these months, when people have harped and harangued on Obama about his inexperience and lack of foreign affairs standing, we're only just finding out now that he took a vacation in Islamabad and is claiming that as a notch in his bedpost????

This is pretty embarrassing, to be frank. How the media could miss this kind of at once laughable-yet-important story is beyond my understanding.

Monday, April 07, 2008

What An Afternoon!

So I wake up this morning having slept for, ohhh, all of three hours, ahead of my debut on The Blog Bunker, featuring Joe Salzone on the Indie Channel on Sirius Satellite Radio.

Not good. My sinuses exploded last night because of my allergies and there's this lone Sudafed...expired of course.

So I bully through the day, and arrive at Sirius HQ at the appointed time. First, let me say I don'tfaze easily. I grew up on the Upper East Side. Among my friends were the sons and daughters of some heavy hitters, and I would regularly bump into celebs and stars from all walks of life.

I nearly creamed my jeans when I almost ran over Candy Dulfer of the B-52s in the lobby. Alexandra, the marvelously charming engineer/producer of the Bunker comes out to greet me to let me know I have a few minutes to hang out, so I drool watching Candy get her photo taken by some PR flacks.

The appointed time. I'm a little nervous. I haven't done radio since, well, lemme think...Clinton was still President.

Bill, I mean, not Hillary.

The crew was absolutely amazing, made me feel like I'd never left the studio. I sat down, Joe walked in (he's a Paulite, if you must know), and we had a half hour of, well, fun.

I take a page here out of the actor's handbook: the two criteria for a successful performance are 1) Did you do what you set out to do, and 2) Did you have fun doing it?

Mission accomplished. I don't know how it played on air, and I have only a suspicion how it played out in the studio (if you think I'm quick on-line, you ought to hear me when I'm panicking), but I had a blast! I zinged out a couple of jokes, sucked up where necessary and even was forced to think.

Which doesn't happen often.

The encounter gave me a lot to work with in terms of blogposts, so at the very least, you guys are going to read echoes of my appearance over the next few days.

But I had fun.

I want to thank Joe, Alexandra and whatisname, the Blogcast Boy...

As I walked out, I realized why I love doing radio in the first place. So much freedom. Anybody listen in? Shout it out, please.

It's About Time

ALBUQUERQUE, April 6 -- Mark J. Penn quit Sunday as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's chief strategist, the second shake-up in her campaign's top ranks since the onetime front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination began trailing Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).
Good riddance, don't let the door hit you on the way out, blahblahblah...

This moron is nearly singlehandedly responsible for the mess the Clinton campaign finds itself in. As opposed to having comfortably secured the nomination last month with victories in Texas and Ohio, Penn's idiotic "strategy" of banking it all on SooperDooperTuesday, rather than laying the ground troops in in January in states after the big red letter day, Penn's shortsightedness and hubris has put Hillary in the position of really having to bust humps in the last three months of the campaign in order to take the nomination in a subjective and therefore suspect fashion.

Neither candidate can win the delegates out in the field, and right now, while Obama has been seeing some movement towards him in superdelegates, it's clear that the SDs have been holding their fire out of respect for and fear of the Clinton machine.

After all, deals will now have to be made, and the campaign with the most to offer is the campaign that is going to get the lion's share of the SDs. Clinton, should she lose the nomination, will be among the most powerful Senators and will likely extract retribution against those SDs who cross over to Obama (listening, Leahy?)

Obama does not have that kind of stroke in the Senate, and my suspicion is, should he lose the nomination, he'll not seek re-election from Illinois.

Why do I say this? One word: Rolodex.

Sure, Obama is gathering up campaign contributions from first time small donors (altho my sense is that he's getting PAC and special interest money in some form that he's not disclosing because he doesn't have to), but those are not carryover contributions: those folks won't give to the Senate campaigns of a Chuck Schumer or a Diane Feinstein, or Ken Salazar, or...

Clinton's will. And there's the rub. Snub Clinton, you snub the money you need to run for re-election.

Which leads me to one other facet of this story: Tim Russert on The Today Show this morning mentioned that, privately, several large campaign contributors had already warned the Clinton campaign that they would only donate and solicit more donations if they could be assured that the funds would not be used to support Penn or his work.

So basically, this was just the trigger that fired the cocked weapon off. Penn was gone, long before he met with Colombian officials.

Good riddance to bad rubbish, is my thinking, and for you hockey fans out there, Game on!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) You may now pry the gun from his hands. Good riddance. The man was blessed with great luck and had no sense of his entitlement, except that he and his cronies deserved more.

2) A topic that SLB has been all over since our inception in 2004, thanks largely to Katrina's insistence, the US might finally be starting to pay attention. Thank god it didn't take them decades as it did with Vietnam.

3) Say what you will about McCain's hawkish stance, he has skin in the game.

4) When I speak of justice for all, without regard to race or gender or what have you, this is the kind of story I'm speaking to. Government is supposed to work FOR us, not against us.

5) I am officially eliminated in any office pool I was in.

6) This has never been an issue for me, since my life doesn't depend on my blogging. That said, I feel like I've let you guys down these past couple of weeks while I was self-indulging my depression over this beautiful face getting all fucked up by cancer. Rat bastard cancer. I'm going to find him and kick his ass.

7) The one bright spot in the whole mortgage business is that corporate powerhouses are feeling the pain of their greed.

8) But that bright spot is dimmed many millions of times over by the poor homeowners who got suckered into these atrocious deals.

9) Was anybody really surprised by this story? Bush was never interested in Russia's opinion (except when it came to validating his own horrific aggressions) and Putin is poised to be a real world leader who will fill the American void.

10) Make no mistake: America in the '10s will be as irrelevant on the world stage as Japan was in the '90s. That's Bush legacy, not only to destroy our credibility as a world power, but to destroy us economically so the world might pick at our bones.

11) I was saddened to see Tang back in the news in such a bizarre way. Who knew?

12) This is an awful lot of money to spend to be uncomfortable.