Friday, August 31, 2007

The Liberal's Double Standard

Since most quotes and media coverage surrounds the soon-to-step-down (if the latest news but is right) "wide stance" Senator Larry Craig's alleged hypocrisy, with journalists urging theoconservatives living in glass houses to stop throwing stones, it only seems fair to point readers to an alternative viewpoint from a conservative who thinks these journalists are holding themselves to a different standard. Here's the key excerpt from Jonah Goldberg's op-ed. The National Review


"The same market-based approach is used by environmentally crapulent liberal celebrities all the time. They use private jets, drive around with big entourages and own numerous energy-sucking homes. To make amends, they purchase an indulgence in the form of “carbon offsets” — a contract whereby the equivalent amount of greenhouse gases are soaked up by newly planted trees and the like.

So why not do the same thing with gay sex? Cruise the bus station, cut a check to the heterosexuality-promoting organization of your choice.

Since most on the Left think Craig’s alleged sexual liaisons are perfectly benign, they shouldn’t object. “Who are we to judge?” and all that. Rather, the Left claims it hates Craig’s hypocrisy, not his behavior.

From Rush Limbaugh’s drug use to Bill Bennett’s gambling to the long list of Republican politicians who’ve thrown a few earmarks and riders into their marriage vows, the Left has chosen to denounce the perceived hypocrisy rather than the behavior. The indictment sometimes loses its punch in the details. Bennett never inveighed against gambling, for example.

But that misses the point. The Left claims to hate “moralizers.” So any failure to live like Jesus while telling others to follow his example is an outrage, even the defining challenge of our lives."

Craig: More on the Gay Take

on flushgate here. No one else is paying attention to the gay reaction.

"For far too long, conservative, right-wing Republicans have claimed the “moral high ground,” deriding gays and lesbians as sinners who lack morals because of who they love, when in fact, they have been courting the love that dare not speak its name.

And this summer, another was caught with his pants down. Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, 62, was arrested in June for lewd conduct in an airport bathroom. Earlier this month, he pled guilty to a disorderly conduct charge and paid $575 in fines; a charge of “gross misdemeanor interference to privacy” was dropped.

Since the revelation of his arrest, the married senator has repeatedly claimed he wasn’t gay. Here’s a quick note to Craig: It’s OK to be gay. It’s not OK to seek sex in airport restrooms from undercover officers." - editorial in The Philadelphia Gay News


"We’ll throw the closet queer under the bus, but if you see a female prostitute, that’s just fine."
- Matt Foreman of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force as quoted in Edge


"It’s not an abuse of his office in the sense that he was taking money for corrupt votes,"
- Representative Barney Franks (D-Massachusetts) as quoted in Edge


"What strikes me as I watch Craig’s denials is the depth of his self-deception, which apparently goes back at least to 1982 when he served in the House of Representatives. That year, he proposed to the then-Suzanne Scott six months after he responded to a scandal by publicly denying having had sex with congressional pages. Craig’s arrest in June of this year, just eight months after denying gay sex charges by Mike Rogers of blogactive.com, suggests a recklessness all too familiar in the closeted and powerful.

A classic consequence of self-repression is that one’s underlying nature, being unchanged, inevitably bursts out in inappropriate ways. It is no surprise that Craig would resort to sleazy restroom sex, since he is unwilling to see homosexuality in a more favorable light. ..."
- Richard J. Rosendell in Bay Windows

... As for Larry Craig, whose career lies in ruins: Notwithstanding his contemptible coupling of squalid gay encounters with opposition to gay rights, he is more pitiful than anything else. In the end, the greatest victim of his lies is himself."

“Senator Craig is the latest in a string of public officials who have yet to learn that the days of treating Congress as a game of charades where you say one thing and do another are over,” - Joe Solmonese of Human Rights Campaign as quoted in Southern Voice

"The people of Idaho should care, not that their senator is an apparent closet case, but that he's a hypocrite – someone championing "family values" for everyone except himself. That's what makes these alleged ethics violators too big to ignore. Craig's right up there with former pastor Ted Haggard (now 100 percent straight, according to him), disgraced former Florida Representative Mark Foley (who acknowledged he is gay, thereby confirming what has been reported as the worst kept secret in Washington), and Louisiana Senator David Vitter (who copped to having his phone number in the "black book" of an alleged D.C. madam).

What all these men have in common is that they say one thing in public, but do another in private. And then they got caught.

Like Foley, who resigned after his sexually explicit e-mails to former male pages became news last year, Craig is now affected by the decisions and actions he himself made.

Although honesty is increasingly rare in politics today, voters are still entitled to expect it from their government representatives."
editorial from The Bay Area Reporter

Tom Delay on "Hardball"

Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay said his party kicks its scandal-ridden politicians out. Okay. What of Vitter?

The Weekend Preview

I. THE SUNDAY INTERVIEW SHOWS


1. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):
Topics This Week - "Flush gate" and the attorney general's departure. Alberto Gonzalez' resignation. (a) the battle for the next attorney general with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania). (b) Counselor Ed Gillespie gives the White House's reaction to Alberto Gonzalez' resignation and offers his position regarding the state of the White House. (c) FOX News Sunday Panelists - Brit Hume of FOX News, Nina Easton of Fortune Magazine, Juan Williams of National Public Radio, and William Kristol of The Weekly Standard on the political fallout surrounding Senator Larry Craig's alleged sexual misconduct in an airport bathroom. The show is hosted by Chris Wallace. It is repeated on the FOX News Channel at 6:00 PM ET. (d) Power Player of the Week - Mark Russell for his entertaining mix of jokes and songs.

2. "Meet The Press" on NBC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET): Topic This Week - Decision 2008. Political round table discussion with Bob Shrum, James Carville, Mary Matalin, and Mike Murphy. "Meet The Press" is re-aired on MSNBC at 10:00 PM ET. The show is hosted by Tim Russert.


3. "This Week" on ABC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):
Topics This Week - interview with a presidential candidate. (a) Sunday Exclusive - former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee on the race for the White House, his plans to become the second "comback kid" from New Hope, and Larry Craig's sex scandal. (b) Round table - George Will, Matt Bai, and Robert Reich on Alberto Gonzalez' resignation and the Larry Craig sex scandal. (c) Our Voice - Gretchen Wilson on getting her GED. (d) In Memorium. (e) Sunday Funnies. This show is hosted by George Stephanopoulos.


4. "Face The Nation" on CBS (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):
Topic This Week - Iraq, Gonzales, and elections. Guests to include Senator and Presidential candidate Joe Biden (D-Delaware) of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) of the Armed Services Committee, anchor woman Katie Couric of CBS Evening News and John Harris of Politico.com. Hosted by Bob Schieffer.


5. "Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (Sunday at 11:00 AM ET):
Topics This Week - preview of the Iraq Progress Report, the latest on Senator Larry Craig's sex scandal. (a) Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) and Representative Kendrick Meek (D-Florida) on the Iraq Progress Report and the Larry Craig scandal. (b) Former Clinton Special Counsel Lanny Davis and former RNC Counsel Ben Ginsburg on the sex scandal. (c) The New York Times reporter and author Michael Gordon, former Iraqi Government spokesperson Laith Kubba, and CNN Baghdad Correspondent Michael Ware on the war in Iraq. (d) CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry, CNN Radio Congressional Correspondent Lisa Goddard and CNN Correspondent Joe Johns. This show is hosted by Wolf Blitzer.


II. THE WEEKEND POLITICAL TALK SHOWS



1. "Beltway Boys" on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 6:00 PM and 11:00 ET): Topics This Week - Larry Craig and Hillary Clinton. (a) Damage assessment over the Larry Craig sex scandal. (b) Hillary Clinton and the fugitive donor. (c) Ups and Downs. This show is hosted by Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes.



2. "FOX News Watch" on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 6:30 PM ET):
Topics This Week - Craig's Bathroom bust, Hurricane Katrina, and Princess Diana anniversary. (a) Senator Larry Craig - the media "seize on" the senator's sex scandal. (b) Princess Diana - letting her rest in peace. (c) Hurricane Katrina - media interest fading. Co-panelists include Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Jane Hall, Neil Gabler, and host Eric Burns.


3. "Reliable Sources" on CNN (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):
CNN doesn't offer a preview for this show but anyone who is interested in watching it can tune in on Sunday mornings at the posted time or read the transcripts that are posted on CNN's web site. "Reliable Sources" is hosted by Howard Kurtz.


4. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):
Topics This Week - Bush's Iraq Policy and the Republican Party's status as the so-called "family values" party. (a) George W. Bush's Iraq Policy - whether he will stay firm and keep the troops in Iraq. (b) Republicans as the "family values" party - is it possible now that Senator Larry Craig was outed. Guests will include Managing Editor Rick Stengel of Time Magazine, Washington Correspondent Katty Kay of the BBC, Gloria Borger of US News & World Report, and Chief Political Correspondent Howard Fineman of Newsweek. Hosted by Chris Wallace.


III. OTHER WEEKEND POLITICAL/NEWS TALK SHOWS


1. "Big Story Weekend" on FOX News Channel (Saturday and Sunday at 5:00 PM ET):
Topics This Week - not yet posted . Hosted by Julie Banderas.


2. "Heartland" on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 9:00 PM ET):
Updates for this show have not been forthcoming on show's home web page but if there is once it will be posted here as well. This show is hosted by John Kasich
.


IV. WEEKEND FEATURE NEWS PROGRAMS


1. "Dateline NBC" on NBC (Friday at 9:00 PM ET):
10th anniversary of Princess Diana's death is marked by a special broadcast reported by Hoda Kotb.


2. "20/20" on ABC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET):
Topics This Week - divorce, forgiveness. (a) Deadly Divorce Case of Julie Porzio. (b) Forgiving a Cheating Murderer - Diane Nichols forgives the husband who murdered his mistress. Reported by Don Dahler. (c) "Bad Habits" - the harmless "soft" addictions we do not believe we can stop. Reported by Joy Levy. This show is hosted by John Stossel.


3. "CNN Special Investigations Unit" on CNN (Saturday at 8:00 PM ET):
"Children of The Storm" - Special Correspondent Soledad O'Brien and Director Spike Lee speak with four New Orleans' students to see how they are doing.

4. "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS (Saturday at 10:00 PM ET): "Murder on His Mind" - "golden boy" becomes a killer and a brain defect may have caused him to do it. Reported by Troy Roberts.


5. "CBS News Sunday Morning" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 AM ET):
Topics This Week - The Tipitinas Foundation, Southwest Airlines, Kit Carson, Paul Anaka. (a) Cover:Labor of Love - Southwest Airlines as the one airline success story. (b) Almanac: Titanic Wreckage Photos. (c) Katrina Recovery: Tipitinas - New Orleans' school marching bands receiving musical instruments donated by the Tipitinas Foundation. (d) Last Licks: Picnics - picnics as a summer past time that could last all year round. (e) Passage - Athea Gibson. (f) The West: The REAL Kit Carson - Kit Carson. (g) Milepost: How We spent Our Summer Vacation. (h) Summer Song: Paul Anka - Paul Anka marks his 50-year performance with a new CD titled "Classic Songs, My Way." (i) Opinion: Mo Rocca - Campaign 2008. (j) Geist: A Fair To Remember - Iowa State Fair. This show is hosted by Charles Osgood.


6. "60 Minutes" on CBS (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET):
Repeat. (a) "The Killings of Haditha" - Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich on the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq. Reported by Scott Pelley. (b) "The Ship Breakers" - the ship breakers of Bangladesh strip old ships for less than a dollar a day. Reported by Bob Simon. (c) Andy Rooney. (d) Developments - former security guard Richard Jewell died.


7. "Dateline NBC" on NBC (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET):
Scam Artist. Novelist Matthew Cox becomes the scam artist he wrote about, stealing millions of dollars in real estate while fooling women. Reported by Keith Morrison.


8. "Dateline NBC" on NBC (Sunday at 8:00 PM ET):
Surviving Mount Everest. Lincoln Hall's life-threatening ordeal on his descent from Mount Everest. Reported by Matt Lauer.


V. WEEKEND ENTERTAINMENT


1. "Law And Order: Criminal Intent" on NBC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET):
Flipped. The detectives get in trouble with the chief. Stars Chris Noth as Detective Mike Logan, Julianne Nicholson as Detective Megan Wheeler, Vincent D'Onofrio as Detective Robert Goren, Kathryne Erbe as Detective Alexandra Eames, and Eric Bogosian as Captain Danny Ross.


2. "Cold Case" on CBS (Saturday at 9:00 PM ET):
"Beautiful Little Fool" - investigation into the 1929 case of a murdered grandmother. Stars Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush, Danny Pino as Scott Valens, John Finn as John Stillman, Jeremy Ratchford as Nick Vera, Thom Barry as William Jeffries, and Tracie Thomas as Kat Miller.


3. "Saturday Night Live" on NBC (Saturday at 11:29 PM ET):
nothing posted yet.

Media Bias: Craig Scandal

When are the talking hosts going to ask a gay pundit to comment on the Larry Craig affair? We've heard from "good man" Tony Perkins, Pat Buchanan, and Gary Bauer.

Yes, since Larry Craig voted like a theocon one would expect "family values" conservative spokes persons to react to his outing but he was accused of soliciting sex from another man, making this a gay scandal as well. Should not the gays have a chance to speak out? Credit alone goes to FOX News for including libertarian lesbian Tammy Bruce.

Ponnuru's Faulty Reasoning on the Vitter/Craig Double Standard

Ramesh Ponnuru of the The National Review, a conservative political magazine, attempts to justify the senators' different reaction to the David Vitter Jr and Larry Craig sex scandals:

"I agree with Ross Douthat's larger point about social conservatives' double standards on sexual conduct, but I think he's missing the reasons that the senators are provoking different reactions from their colleagues. I can think of four considerations that have to be going through the minds of Republican senators. First, the fact that Craig is (currently) denying he did anything wrong creates more opportunities for continuing bad press than Vitter can get. Second, the two senators are in different political circumstances. Craig is up for re-election next year and has a Republican governor; Vitter has a Democratic governor and isn't up for re-election until 2010. Third, even if both states applied moral standards consistently, Idaho's would probably end up being tougher than Louisiana's. Fourth—and I think this may be the most important—Craig's colleagues probably think that his compulsion is so strong that he may well act up again. He was on notice, after all, when he went to the airport bathroom. I don't think they're as worried that Vitter will be frequenting prostitutes."


Let's break it down:

1. "First, the fact that Craig is (currently) denying he did anything wrong creates more opportunities for continuing bad press than Vitter can get." Well journalists may treat those who lie to them worse than those who tell them the truth but they don't need to give a story a new slant since they are prone to cover the same thing over and over again, hour to hour.

2. "Second, the two senators are in different political circumstances. Craig is up for re-election next year and has a Republican governor; Vitter has a Democratic governor and isn't up for re-election until 2010." Okay, political opportunism trumps principle.

3. "Third, even if both states applied moral standards consistently, Idaho's would probably end up being tougher than Louisiana's." - and how does he arrive at this conclusioin that probably offends Louisiana voters.

4. "Fourth—and I think this may be the most important—Craig's colleagues probably think that his compulsion is so strong that he may well act up again. He was on notice, after all, when he went to the airport bathroom. I don't think they're as worried that Vitter will be frequenting prostitutes." - purely speculative.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Some more Quotes

1. "Here is Senator Craig, who lied to his party and constituents about the life the nation should lead versus the one he himself leads. Here is a senator who fights against gay rights, insists on President Clinton's impeachment for seeking oral sex in a public place (well, the White House is public property anyway ...), and now gets busted for a lifestyle for which he persecuted others? There's nothing morally wrong in total hypocrisy? No, the jury doesn't need to come back on this one -- Craig already pleaded guilty.

If Republicans are skittish on moral superiority this week, please, allow me. For the record: I feel utterly and totally morally superior to Larry Craig. I have never used a public office or space to spread bigotry and intolerance. I am holier than he. I am throwing rocks at him from the comfort of my Not At All Glass House."
- Ben Schwartz over at Huffington Post

2. "An abusive anti-gay culture has created this misshapen monster of a man - one who fought against the rights of homosexuals in the Senate while allowing his own gay proclivities to express themselves behind toilet doors. It is more than an act of hypocrisy; it is an American tragedy. The self hatred has tragic consequences; not only for the Larry Craigs of the world and their families, but for those he viciously attacked in his "Defense of Marriage" proposals. The fear and loathing in Idaho is truly fear and self-loathing. And with any luck and a lot more compassion there will be less of this in my sons' world and in my grand-daughter's generation." - Sherman Yellen at Huffington Post


3. "I understand that there's a difference, legally-speaking, between pleading guilty to a criminal offense and tacitly confessing to a crime you haven't - and probably won't - be charged with, but I still think it's unfortunate that Larry Craig might be forced to resign by his fellow Republicans, while David Vitter has apparently survived being outed as a client of a major D.C. prostitution ring. I agree with Megan that what Craig did was arguably a greater betrayal of his wife than what Vitter may have done, but from any social-conservative calculus (or at least my social-conservative calculus) prostitution has to be considered a greater social evil than cruising for gay sex in bathrooms. This relates to a point I fumbled through in my conversation with Mark yesterday - the unfortunate extent to which socially-conservative politicians have focused their fire on gays, because opposing gay rights was for a long time an 80-20 issue for the Right (though no longer), while studiously ignoring the various beams in heterosexuals' eyes. It's a hard pattern to break, but the GOP could find worse places to start than making sure that Vitter shares whatever political fate awaits Larry Craig." - Ross Douthat at his web blog

4. "But seriously, folks — a guy taps another guy's foot and reaches his hand under a stall and is arrested for that? And is evidently going to get railroaded out of the Senate for it? If I remember my Joseph Wambaugh vice-squad novels correctly, it used to be the rule that the object of the act of entrapment actually had to make a specific request with words of the entrapee at least. Now you can lose it all for sending messages in semaphore?" John Podhoretz defending Craig from legal challenges at The Corner.

5. "I agree with Ross Douthat's larger point about social conservatives' double standards on sexual conduct, but I think he's missing the reasons that the senators are provoking different reactions from their colleagues. I can think of four considerations that have to be going through the minds of Republican senators. First, the fact that Craig is (currently) denying he did anything wrong creates more opportunities for continuing bad press than Vitter can get. Second, the two senators are in different political circumstances. Craig is up for re-election next year and has a Republican governor; Vitter has a Democratic governor and isn't up for re-election until 2010. Third, even if both states applied moral standards consistently, Idaho's would probably end up being tougher than Louisiana's. Fourth—and I think this may be the most important—Craig's colleagues probably think that his compulsion is so strong that he may well act up again. He was on notice, after all, when he went to the airport bathroom. I don't think they're as worried that Vitter will be frequenting prostitutes." - Ramesh Ponnuru offering flimsy reasonf for treating Vitter better than Craig.


From the Gays

1. "Yeah, Craig may be blogger fodder, but he brought it on himself. And where are the calls for the resignation of David Vitter who admitted to the crime of solicitation? Isn't that conduct unbecoming a Senator and "a lie by omission and a violation of the public trust?"

Remember this -- fellow Louisiana adulterer said Vitter shouldn't resign. Bob Livingston, a prime pick for House speaker, had to resign during Bill Clinton's 1998 impeachment hearings after admitting to affairs. He says Vitter should "pick himself up and charge forward." And in a mind-blowing statement, GOP Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said this when asked at the time of Diaper Dave's media frenzy whether Vitter should step down:

I don't know what it is that he has apologized for, and until it's clear that there's some kind of crime that was committed, that was of such a nature that he should resign, it seems to me that talk is a little premature.

Prostitution's not only a crime, Senator Kyl, but for those of the bible-beating set, adultery is a sin punishable by death. The sleazy act Craig pled guilty to was a misdemeanor. If Craig's forced to resign, then Vitter should pack his bags as well."
- Pam Spaulding at AmericaBlog, bringing up a good point about double standards

2. "When the story first broke, I saw no reason for Craig to resign. And on the merits, I still see no reason for him to resign. After all, if David Vitter can stay, why can’t Larry Craig stay?

Well, here’s why. Vitter took responsibility for his behavior and demonstrated contrition. Larry Craig, on the other hand, stepped in front of a microphone to apologize only for the “cloud over Idaho.” (A cloud is hovering all right, but not over Idaho.) He then blamed a newspaper’s “witch-hunt” for his decision to plead guilty to a charge Craig says is false. How it is that the arresting officer came to suspect Craig of lewd conduct, or why that suspicion was in error, we are not told. Nor are we told that the Idaho Statesman’s “witch-hunt” consisted of investigating reports that Craig had engaged in tearoom sex.

What a run of bad luck! The media are out to get him, and the cops are out to get him too — and in both cases, for the same reason. Tell us, senator: Is it a conspiracy, or a coincidence of incalculable odds?

Larry Craig doesn’t have to resign because he was looking for cock. (Sure, the venue was inappropriate, but he paid his fine. And if illicit snatch didn’t do it for Vitter, why should illicit dick should do it for Craig?) But he does have to resign when his denial reaches such pathological proportions as to bring his sanity into doubt, and to cause him to talk to all of us as though we were fucking idiots.

And that poor wife! Just look at her, standing there with sun glasses the size of windshields, trying to cover her face. Can you even imagine it? Evidently, Craig can, because he didn’t have the decency to spare her the humiliation of standing next to a recalcitrant liar."
- Right Side of the Rainbow, forgetting that (a) Vitter dragged his wife out in public and (b) forgetting that for whatever reason, confessing to heterosexual sins is far easier than admitting to one's homosexuality.

3. "Ironically on the LGBT blogs and "insider lists" today there was a huge discussion about whether or not Senator Craig should garner some sympathy from the community because of the historic antipathy that exists towards police entrapment methods against, particularly, gay men.

But seeing his performance, I have lost any notion of sympathy. The guy practically SPIT it out that he wasn't gay. Because if he WAS gay, then that would somehow explain his publicly lewd behavior." Hillary Rosen on Huffington Post

4. "Yes, I know that Craig pled guilty to the charge, and it's on that point where he most clearly hoisted himself on his own petard. He was so afraid of how things would look that he lacked the nerve to defend himself and his rights — just as over the course of his life he lacked the nerve to accept his sexual orientation (whether bisexual or homosexual) and defend the rights of those who share those orientations." - Chris Crain at Citizen Crain suggesting there is no evidence to convict Craig

Craig: The Major Idaho Papers Say He Should Go

1. The Idaho Statesman

Money quote: "He said he “was not involved in any inappropriate conduct at the Minneapolis airport or anywhere else,” but said little about the events leading to his arrest. He again said he made a mistake by pleading guilty to a reduced charge without seeking a lawyer’s advice — but said he has now hired an attorney.

Too little. Too late. Much like the whole of his statement Tuesday.

Two days ago, we urged Idahoans not to rush to judgment, and give Craig a chance to explain himself. Unfortunately, we have seen and heard enough. Judging from his performance Tuesday, Craig seems more interested in hunkering down, operating from a defensive state of denial. This is his prerogative. But he should not compromise Idaho interests in the process.

If Craig wishes to keep his secrets, he may do so as a former U.S. senator."


2. South Idaho Press

"While it’s possible Craig is the victim of a misunderstanding, as he claims, a protracted legal and public relations battle would not only continue the embarassment of the situation, but weaken Idaho’s representation on Capitol Hill.

The certain scrutiny of Craig that will follow in the coming weeks and months will make it nearly impossible for him to be effective in representing Idahoans in the Senate."


3. Coeur d'Alene Press

"This is not a moral judgment, not in the sense that some want Craig ousted for alleged homosexual behavior that's been rumored for many years. Nor is it an indictment of his tepid stance in the Iraq war or his unpopular support of President Bush's proposed immigration reform.

It is a recommendation based upon the fact that the people of Idaho cannot trust their most powerful representative in the nation's capital."

Barney on Craig

Congressman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) apparently believes Senator Craig did nothing that warrants his removal. "What he did," the Democratic congressman is quoted as saying on 365.com it’s hypocritical, but it’s not an abuse of his office in the sense that he was taking money for corrupt votes."

No, Senator Craig was not taking money for corrupt votes but if the only criterion for removing a public official is the proven link between said misconduct and one's job then thieves, child molesters, murderers and embezzlers could serve.

The Republican Senator from Idaho, plead guilty to a crime and if the congressman needs a reminder this senator may have used his badge and position of authority to avoid those criminal charges which is itself an abuse of his office. One would expect a lawmaker, that is, a person who writes our laws to follow them. This should apply to anyone holding public office.

Barney Frank goes much further however. He not only opposes Craig's removal but urges him to resist calls for his resignation. "I think people should resign when they have clearly done the job in a way that is dishonest," he said.

Well Craig did. He lied to the public, broke the laws he, as a lawmaker himself, was supposed to respect, and fought but that alone is not a requirement for the senator's resignation. Craig could resign to spare that beard of a wife he paraded out in front of the cameras yesterday from any further humiliation. He should resign so the Republicans could find a suitable replacement.

The party's holier-than-thou conservative platform should be defended by a credible (or at least untainted) spokesperson and it should be critiqued on the merits. He should resign for exercising poor judgment, risking his career by engaging in public sexual acts. He should resign so we do not have to lower our standards to keep in power those who commit "low crimes and misdemeanors." Former President Bill Clinton started that trend when he perjured himself at a civil proceeding but he was at least acquitted (even if wrongly so). Craig already plead guilty.

What Craig did was rude, arrogant, and sordid and not at all private (sorry Gillespie). He didn't care for the men, women and children who use the public bathrooms at the airport. He didn't care if young children seeking to relieve themselves had to wait while he sought a sexual partner. He didn't care if he exposed the men, and children in the bathroom to the heavy breathing, groans, and stench associated with sexual conduct or if a parent would have to explain what is going on to the curious child witnessing these sexual acts. He didn't care if this conduct made the stalls used more unsanitary. It was unbecoming of a senator or anyone seeking public office.

The Republicans should, as Nick Gillespie suggests, disown the theoconservative agenda espoused by "family value" conservatives. The state has no business telling us when, how, and with whom (save for laws barring sex with minors and rape) we are to be intimate with in the privacy of our homes but Craig has no legitimate claim for privacy since he was seeking a sexual partner in a public bathroom.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More on Craig

from Hugh Hewitt


"AS TO THE SERIOUS QUESTION OF whether or not Senator Craig should resign, that one’s a no-brainer for someone like me who thought David Vitter should have stepped down. To lead millions of people, one needs at least a modicum of moral stature. Both politicians forfeited that stature when they engaged in their off-campus hijinks. Where one draws the line on such matters is arbitrary, so I don’t think anyone’s being hypocritical if they say Vitter can stay and Craig must go. Unless you’re going to say that no moral and personal code should apply to our politicians, Craig’s career must surely head to the crapper.

Once again, moral stature is the crux of the matter. Bill Clinton’s real crime wasn’t his perjury; his real crime was humiliating his country and insulting the high office that he held. Anyone with a sense of honor would have resigned when the Lewinsky affair became public. Obviously Clinton was therefore exempt."
- Dean Barnett on Hugh Hewitt


"But it also stands to reason that the party that's associated with conservative beliefs about sex, marriage and family would include a higher percentage of the sort of people who try to avoid acting on their own homosexual inclinations for the sake of those beliefs - and that this higher rate of repression would breed a higher rate of embarrassing scandals.

The contrast between Craig - or Ted Haggard - and Jim McGreevey is instructive, in this regard. McGreevey was conducting long-term affairs with men, which suggests a person who had attained a certain comfort with his homosexuality, even as he attempted to keep it a secret. Whereas Craig and Haggard both seem to have sought out gay encounters in as furtive a fashion as possible, as someone would who's giving in to what they consider an immoral temptation, rather than merely acting on a desire they would prefer to keep hidden from the public."
- Ross Douthat on his own web site

"On the other hand, I do regard this as somewhat mitigated by the fact that I continue to regard Craig's arrest as fundamentally unjustified. The problem, as Josh Marshall points out, is that there was no way Craig could beat the rap without publicly admitting to being gay, which would have been politically (and perhaps personally) untenable. So first he tried to weasel out of the charge, and then he figured maybe he could plead guilty and keep it hushed up. Now he's in an absurd denial pattern.

Fundamentally, though, for me this seems like a sad story about a bad Senator who's going to go down for no particularly good reason only to be replaced by another conservative Republican who's just as bad."
- Matthew Yglesias on his web site

"I would say, "not at all ironic." It's merely part of the Death of Gay Culture. The current political wars are a re-alignment. It used to be gay vs straight. But now it's the old gay culture against the new gay culture. Larry Craig cruises for sex in bathrooms, he's part of the old gay culture. His lifestyle is threated by gay marriage: more guys sitting at the boarding gate with their husbands means fewer in the airport washroom. His lifestyle is threated by gays in the military: more sailors with boyfriends on shore means fewer available underneath the dock. Craig, West, and Haggard are the death throes of the old gay culture, desperately longing for the good old days." - a reader commenting on Andrew Sullivan's site.

The police report is here.

Two months later he plead guilty. I'm sorry. He did not panic and as much as he would like to blame the gay establishment, the police, and his state's main newspaper Senator Larry Craig has only himself to blame. The Idaho Statesman did not print this story when it first broke out and for good reason - the evidence was flimsy at best. Prior accusations were not corroborated or proven. Senator Craig bolstered the police officer's interpretation of events by pleading guilty.

Senator Larry Craig voted against every gay rights measure to make it to the floor. Since he voted against a bill that would remove one's sexual orientation from consideration in the hiring and firing, and promoting of employees, Senator Craig cannot now ask the voters of Idaho to overlook his sexuality. Since he did not speak out against Idaho's now unenforceable sodomy law banning private sexual conduct (a law that forces those who are convicted to register as sex offenders), he could not now seek relief for the investigation into his public sexual conduct.

Craig gave the police officer his senate badge as proof of identification, leading some to believe he was trying to intimidate the police officer into silence. Whatever chance he had to deny it (and there was a way to do so by claiming he was giving the police officer the identification badge easiest to reach) was forfeited in his statement today suggesting he plead guilty to make this story go away.

Senator Craig should resign and spare his beard wife further humiliation while debasing the office he holds by forcing us to allow those who commit low crimes and misdemeanors to hold public office.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Yet Another

Oh dear. Another "family values" hypocrite is caught. Mike Rogers was right after all.

Monday, August 27, 2007

"God's Warriors"

Today Dan Abrams admonished Christiane Amanpour of CNN for her purportedly biased examination of religious extremists within the Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities. ON "Larry King", Mrs. Amanpour portrayed her three-part series "God's Warriors" as an agenda-freeinformative piece that reminds us that "there are powerful segments of each religion who believe in being powerful literally, in the seat of power, and shaping and changing the culture and the way the country is run."

Mr. Abrams, who hosts a show on the rival MSNBC network, believes she excused away Muslim extremists but provides no glimpse of the Jewish and Christian extremists who defend Israel's right to exist.

Christiane Amanpour's three-part documentary could be faulted for its deficient look into Jewish, Muslim, and religious extremists. Her examination of Jewish extremism, for instance, was wholly devoted to the Jewish Zionists' quest to justify settlement preservation and expansion while denying the Palestinians a state of their on biblical grounds. Domestic conflicts between Israel's orthodox Jews and secularists was never mentioned.

But she cannot be faulted for providing the Muslim extremists the excuse Jewish and Christian extremists do not get. Excerpts from her documentary on "God's Jewish Warriors" provide the context for Israel's occupation of the West Bank, including excerpts from Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Gershon Gorenberg:

a. SHIMON PERES: The legal adviser of the Foreign Ministry doesn't tell us how to defend our lives.

AMANPOUR: President Shimon Peres, one of Israel's longest serving and highest ranking politicians, initially supported settlements.

(on camera): Are you saying Theodor Meron was wrong?

PERES: I don't know if he was right or wrong from a legal point of view. But he was wrong from a pragmatic point of view. Israel was under a steady attack all the time.

AMANPOUR: So just to help me understand this, for the Israeli leadership at the time, pragmatism triumphed over international law?

PERES: What you call pragmatism was, in our eyes...

AMANPOUR: You just said pragmatism.

PERES: Pragmatism in the sense of security, of defending our lives, yes.


b. GORENBERG: Remember, this is 1970s. This is at the same time that Islamic radicalism is rising in the Muslim world. It's the same time that fundamentalists are returning to politics in the United States.

Religion, which had been written off as a factor in the politics of the modern world, was suddenly returning to the political arena.


Israel's occupation and settlement policies were distinguished with the former explained away as a security measure designed to protect Israel from its hostile neighbors and the latter portrayed as an after-thought that was exploited by Jewish extremists who were fulfilling their biblical mandate.

Excerpts from some religious extremists themselves, suggest mixed motives that in part, justify their radical agenda. Dov Hikind, a New York State representative, justified settlement expansion for both, biblical and security reasons. "But that's like probably a joke, right?" Hikind asked in reference to former President Jimmy Carter's claim that the settlements are the main obstacle to peace. "Because there is no peace process and there hasn't been a peace process. There's been a blood process." "If we give any part of that land to the Arabs, we are looking at terrorism," Sondra Oster Baras, a Jewish fundraiser told Christiane Amanpour.

Abrams bases his claim that Amanpour defends the Muslim extremists by describing their support for an Islamic fanaticism as "a symptom of something larger and more complex -- a rage and distress about what's happening to the Muslim world. It has turned Islam into a political movement" but she consistently condemns the radical Islamic agenda. She approvingly quotes a former radical who considers the barbaric attacks on 9/11 "chilling."

Mrs. Amanpour says the Islamic radicals who seized power in Tehran justified their policies as a nationalist reaction to the feared and resented Western influence exercised through the Iranian Shah. This fear was justified and many at first supported it for that reason. The Shah was a tyrant and Islamic fundamentalism was portrayed as a means of purifying Iran from the West's control. Mrs. Amanpour is not, however excusing Islamic extremism anymore than she excused Jewish extremism. The Jewish extremists, as noted above, felt they were under siege. She quoted freely from those who do not believe peace with the Palestinians is possible, and the occupation of the West Bank was at least at first designed to protect Israel from a fourth war with its hostile neighbors. The late Jerry Falwell would use similar language to describe the Christianists' feeling of being under siege.

Abrams says she does not buy into their creed and he is right. She makes her disbelief quite clear in the questions she asks legal scholar Jeffrey Tobin. Christian conservatives, she said, "would have sou believe there's no mention of God anywhere in our public sphere." They "play" rather than "are" "the victim somewhat."

Dan Abrams says Amanpour says Amanpour is more deferential to the radical Muslims who make the same claim but but Christiane Amanpour does not flinch from portraying the women in theo-Islamic countries like Iran as victims. She challenges Kamal al- Habib's views regarding women's rights while approvingly citing his turn from violent jihadism in prison, challenges a conservative Iranian parliamentarian who supports stoning female adulterers (even those who are coerced into it) to death, cites the trepidation some Egyptians have towards the Sharia-supportive Muslim Brotherhood and refers to Osama bin Laden's world view as a "twisted message of religion and politics." Jewish-born Daveed Gartenstein-Ross' conversion to Islamic radicalism, she says, raises "disturbing questions about how extremism can flower in America."

Mrs. Amanpour quotes both those for and against Islamic fundamentalism but her sympathies no doubt lie with the moderates like Ayaan Hirsi Ali a Dutch Muslim who speaks out against fundamentalist Islam. She disassociated herself from christian, Jewish and Islamic fundamentalist alike and did not deserve the heap of criticism coming from Dan Abrams.

Alberto Gonzalez Resigns

Alberto Gonzalez said he is going to resign from his post as U.S. Attorney General next month ending a tenure marked by the standoff between the White House and Congress over wiretaps and U.S. attorney firings. As the White House's chief legal counsel, Mr. Gonzalez would firmly back the USA Patriot Act, authored a memo urging the president to withhold Geneva Convention rights to captured Taliban and al Qaida forces, fought Congressional efforts to gain access to the Vice President's Energy Task Force documents, and fought against the Justice Department's efforts to limit the National Security Administration's surveillance program to calls originating from other countries. His tenure as attorney general would be no less controversial.

He defended the president's assertion that the president could suspend habeas corpus rights and hold American citizens in war detention camps indefinitely without providing them a means to challenge their incarceration. The Supreme Court would later rule against the president and his chief law enforcement officer in two cases. In Rasul v. United States, it would reject his contention that foreign prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay could not challenge their detentions before a U.S. court of law and in Hamdi v. United States it would repudiate his assertion that U.S. citizens could be held indefinitely without a right to challenge their war detainee status.

Mr. Gonzalez' penchant for defending the president and broadening his executive privilege claims at Congress' expense were to be expected. His predecessors, most notably former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, would claim executive privilege when a then Republican-controlled Congress sought access into internal White House documents they sought to aid in their investigation into executive misconduct. His immediate predecessor John Ashcroft would himself back the misnamed PATRIOT Act granting federal law enforcement officials unprecedented access to search telephone and e-mail documents as well as medical, financial, and other records and broadened the authorized scope for issuing the national security letters that allow federal law enforcement officials the right to conduct searches while circumventing the justice department.

This would in no way excuse him. As White House Counsel he would go further, sidestep the Justice Department's chain of command and attempt to pressure then Attorney General John Ashcroft when he was most vulnerable, in the hospital. He would support a covert national security wiretapping surveillance program without seeking that authorization from Congress or the FISA courts that routinely back search warrants requested by the president.

Mr. Gonzalez' ineptitude would be exposed during the non-scandal U.S. Attorney firing scandal. As the top law enforcement officer in the land, Mr. Gonzalez had a right to fire U.S. attorneys for whatever reason he or his boss President George W. Bush deemed necessary. A president could fire an attorney whose law enforcement priorities do not match that of his or her own. The attorney general, however, needlessly offended them by attacking their general competence and then lied to Congress by pleading ignorant to the discussions which he would definitely, as Attorney General, participate in.

The PoliticalHeretic is not sorry to see him resign. Good riddance. Mr.Gonzalez, inept that he was, was heavily involved in the administration's effort to undermine our civil liberties which were only kept in check by the Supreme Court that would hear and then reject his interpretation of legal theory. May his successor have the sound legal mind and respect for the constitutional legal process Mr. Gonzalez lacked.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Latest National Intelligence Estimate

The National Intelligence Estimate published this month provides a mixed assessment of the president's troop surge strategy that could be used to bolster the arguments for and against a U.S. troop withdrawal. "There have been," it is suggested, "measurable but uneven improvements in Iraq's security situation" since the last estimate was published in January but

Iraqi Security Forces across Iraq have answered the call to secure Baghdad. "Bottom up" security initiatives like the recruitment of Sunni Arab tribes in western Iraq have been largely successful, but they could pose a challenge to the national government unwilling to support their efforts and initiate the broad political reforms necessary to bring the warring factions together. The political factions remain divided. No sole group or leader can speak for the Sunnis or Shiites.

Modest improvement in the security situation is expected if coalition forces "continue to conduct robust counterinsurgency operations" but the NIE says violence will remain high.

The president points to the successes in the Sunni-dominated Anbar Province to suggest that this war can be won if only the people have the resolve that was lost during the Vietnam War. His opponents say these victories will not outlast the American occupation if Iraq's warring factions can not agree to a fair distribution in oil revenue and constitutional reforms protecting minority rights. We have managed to put Iraq on one group's "failed state" list.

Iraq's Prime Minister is governing on borrowed time. Moqtada al-Sadr's party is boycotting Nouri al-Maliki's government meetings and two groups that once belonged to the coalition, the Sunni-dominated Iraqi Islamic Party and the smaller secularist-driven National List. Senator John Warner (R-Virginia) says we should remove 5,000 troops in the hopes of scaring Iraq's political leaders into a negotiated settlement. While he continues to oppose any Congressionally mandated troop withdrawal, Senator Warner has aligned himself ideologically with those who say national reconciliation will only succeed when Iraq's leaders believe U.S. forces are ready to withdraw. Senators Carl Levin and Hillary Clinton say al-Maliki should resign. The president for now is officially sticking by Maliki.

With all due respect to those arguing for and against al Maliki's ouster, The New York Times editorial board has it right.
Maliki is the symptom of the political problem Iraq's competing ethnic and religious factions caused by vying for power.

Ironically, the growing refugee problem may actually help us by divide the Sunnis, and Shiites so that each can be given an enclave from which to govern themselves in accordance to a plan Senator Biden suggested. The Sunni tribes could supplant the Iraqi Islamic Party as the Sunnis' main negotiators. We could threaten to divert our forces to the Sunni enclaves after supervising the evacuation of refugees in Sunni and Shiite provinces, seize some of the oil fields to reward the Sunni tribes fighting al Qaeda while letting the rival Shiite militias fight for control in the south if the National Government refuses to support the Sunni tribes or meet the important political benchmarks needed to restore order.

In the alternative, we could arm the Sunnis as the civil war progresses, denying the Shiites the victory that would help them avoid political negotiations. Should the Kurds refuse to compromise, we could give the Turks the authority to enter northern Iraq.

The Weekend Preview

I. THE SUNDAY INTERVIEW SHOWS


1. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):
Topics This Week - Congress' response to the latest National Intelligence Estimate, Mike Huackabee's Campaign for the White House, Bush's Iraq/Vietnam comparison. (a) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) of the Armed Services Committee on the new National Intelligence Estimate. (b) Presidential candidate and former governor Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas) on his second place finish in the Iowa Straw Poll, his stance on issues Republican primary voters care about, and his record as governor. (c) FOX News Sunday Panelist - Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, Gloria Borger of US News & World Report, Byron York of The National Review, and Juan Williams of National Public Radio on the president's vow to fight a withdrawal pushed in September. (d) Power Player of the Week - Nancy Brinker, the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, for raising money to fight breast cancer. Hosted by Chris Wallace. "FOX News Sunday" is re-aired at 6:00 PM ET on the FOX News Channel.


2. "Meet The Press" on NBC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET): Topics This Week - Lance Armstrong's foundation, U.S. Iraq troop withdrawal and the war. (a) Seven-time Tour de France Champion Lance Armstrong. (b) Senator John Warner (R-Virginia) on his call for a small troop withdrawal. (c)Middle East Correspondent and NBC Beirut Bureau Chief Richard Engel on the war in Iraq. Hosted by Tim Russert. "Meet The Press" is re-aired at 10:00 PM ET on MSNBC.


3. "This Week" on ABC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET): Topics This Week - expected Iraqi War showdown between Congress and the White House, economic worries, cancer survivors in the Gulf region. (a) Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia) on his opposition to the war in Iraq. (b) Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) on the Republicans' support or lack there of on the war. (c) former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers on the financial crisis. (d)Round table - George Will of ABC News, Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek, and Cokie Roberts of ABC News. (e) "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts on her event with the Pink Heart Funds. (f) In Memoriam - "lives of note" as usual. (g) The Sunday Funnies. Terry Moran of "Nightline" will host this Sunday's edition of "This Week."


4. "Face The Nation" on CBS (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET): Topic This Week - interview with presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth Edwards. Guests: Senator John Edwards (D-North Carolina) on the war in Iraq, Senator Elizabeth Edwards on the public's response to her incurable cancer. Bob Schieffer hosts "Face The Nation."


5. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer on CNN (Sunday at 11:00 PM ET): Topic This Week - the Maliki governing coalition. (a) former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi on why he should get a second chance at governing. (b) Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno from Baghdad on the security situation and political reconciliation. (c) Former Senator Max Cleland (D-Georgia) on the war in Iraq, growing discontent with the war in Iraq, and the Maliki government. (d) Panel discussion with CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry, CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash, and CNN Correspondent Joe Johns. Wolf Blitzer hosts this show. Transcripts for this show are found here.


II. THE WEEKEND POLITICAL TALK SHOWS


1. "The Beltway Boys" on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 6:00 PM ET): Topics This Week - Iraq War Policy Defended, Ben Bernanke's handling of Wall Street. (a) President George W. Bush defends his war policy in Iraq. (b) Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is 'up.' (c) "ups" and "down" politically. Co-hosted by Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes.


2. "FOX News Watch" on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 6:30 PM ET): no update posted yet. Topics This Week - the delay in illegal alien outrage and a Washington state newspaper's refusal to publish suspected terrorist photos. (a) Illegal Aliens - brutal murder of 3 in Newark leads to outrage. (b) Seattle - a major Washington State newspaper refuses to publish photos of suspected terrorists. Co-panelists include Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Jane Hall, Neil Gabler, and host Eric Burns.


3. "Reliable Sources" on CNN (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET): CNN doesn't offer a preview for this show but anyone who is interested in watching it can tune in on Sunday mornings at the posted time or read the transcripts that are posted on CNN's web site. "Reliable Sources" is hosted by Howard Kurtz.


4. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET): Topics This Week - presidential religiosity, a senator as president. (a) chances a senator could make it into the White House. (b) voter preference for or against a president's religiosity. Panelists will include Michele Norris of National Public Radio, Michael Duffy of Time Magazine, Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post Writers Group, David Brooks of The New York Times, and host Chris Matthews.


III. OTHER WEEKEND POLITICAL/NEWS TALK SHOWS


1. "Big Story Weekend" on FOX News Channel (Saturday and Sunday at 5:00 PM ET):
no update posted yet. This show is hosted by Julie Banderas.


2. "Heartland" on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 9:00 PM ET):
Updates for this show have not been forthcoming on show's home web page but if there is once it will be posted here as well. This show is hosted by John Kasich


IV. FEATURE WEEKEND NEWS PROGRAMS



1. "20/20" on ABC News (Friday at 10:00 PM ET):
"Cheap in America" edition. (a) "Leading By Example" - Erick Hanan, Greg Fisher, and host John Stossel on Forbes 400 list billionaires like Ted Turner, and Warren Buffet now compete for high honors on a philanthropy list. This segment originally aired on December 1, 2006. (b) "Cheap in America" - Host John Stossel and Gina Binkley talk to Carol Adelman of the Hudson Institute, professor of public administration Arthur Brooks of Syracuse University, members of The Doe Fund, and members of the Mount Zion Methodist Church about America's private charity giving. (c) "Doing Good and Feeling Better" - Host John Stossel and Sylvia Johnson speak to author Stephen Post, Arthur Brooks, Dr. Gail Ironson, and volunteers who talk about the positive health benefits associated with giving. (d) "Who Gives and Who Does Not" - Host John Stossel and Kristina Kendall test charity stereotypes. Hosted by John Stossel.


2. "CNN Special Investigations Unit" on CNN (Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 PM ET):
"Growing Up Diana" - Princess Diana.


3. "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS (Saturday at 9:00 PM ET):
professor is gunned down and the clues are stranger than the crime itself. Harold Dow reports.


4. "CBS Sunday Morning" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 PM ET): Nothing posted yet. Hosted by Charles Osgood.


5. "60 Minutes" on CBS (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET): Repeat. (a) "Was It Murder?" - Morley Safer interviews Dr. Anna Pou, who, along with two other nurses, performed lethal injection on four patients days after Hurricane Katrina. (b) "Left Behind" - Scott Pelley on the Iraqi translators, office help, and construction workers facing anti-American sentiment who want but are having difficulty coming to America. (c) "One Laptop Per Child" - Leslie Stahl interviews MIT Prof. Nicholas Negroponte about his goal of putting laptop's in the hands of students in Cambodia and Brazil. (d) Andy Rooney.


V. WEEKEND ENTERTAINMENT


1. "Law and Order Criminal Intent" on NBC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET):
"Flipped". Stars Chris Noth as Detective Mike Logan, Julianne Nicholson as Detective Megan Wheeler, Vincent D'Onofrio as Detective Robert Goren, Kathryne Erbe as Detective Alexandra Eames, and Eric Bogosian as Captain Danny Ross.


2. "Saturday Night Live" on NBC (Saturday at 11:29 PM ET): Best of 2006-2007


3. "Cold Case" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 PM ET):
"Offender" - cold case squad is threatened into solving the rape and murder of a six-year old boy after the father starts killing sex offenders on a daily basis. Stars Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush, Danny Pino as Scott Valens, John Finn as John Stillman, Jeremy Ratchford as Nick Vera, Thom Barry as William Jeffries, and Tracie Thomas as Kat Miller.


4. "Without A Trace" on CBS (Sunday at 10:00 PM ET):
"At Rest" - Samantha enlists the aid of the local police, and reluctantly, her teammates, to search for her missing sister. Stars Anthony LaPaglia as Jack Malone, Poppy Montgomery as Samantha Spade, Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Vivian Johnson, Enrique Murciano as Danny Taylor, Eric Close as Martin Fitzgerald, and Roselyn Sanchez as Elena Delgado.

Some Quotes of Interest Concerning Iraq

George F. Will: September Report Won't Unite Us Behind a Strategy:

"Petraeus's metrics of success might ignite more arguments than they settle. In America, police drug sweeps often produce metrics of success but dealers soon relocate their operations. If Iraqi security forces have become substantially more competent, some Americans will say U.S. forces can depart; if those security forces have not yet substantially improved, the same people will say U.S. forces must depart. Furthermore, will the security forces' competence ultimately serve the Iraqi state -- or a sect?

Petraeus's report will be received in the context of his minimalist definition of the U.S. mission: "Buying time for Iraqis to reconcile." The reconciling, such as it is, will recommence when Iraq's parliament returns from its month-long vacation, come September."
- George F. Will in The Washington Post

2. Rod Dreher - Vietnam Comparison A Plea to Have Faith In The Omnipotence We Do Not Have
"Bush's invocation of the Vietnam war is an example of a popular myth found usually on the right: that the only reason we lost Vietnam was that we prematurely lost the will to fight. I grew up saturated by that myth, and believed, like everyone else I knew, that the only reason the US military lost Vietnam was because the liberal media and American politicians wouldn't let them fight it with all they had. It's a powerful myth, not least because it allows you to believe in the even more powerful myth of American invincibility. In this worldview, America possesses godlike powers constrained only by its will. If we fail at a military venture, it can only be because we didn't believe in ourselves and our mission strongly enough." - Rod Dreher at Beliefnet.com

3. Charles Krauthammer - Continue the Surge But Depose Maliki

"Serious people like Levin argue that with a nonfunctional and sectarian Baghdad government, we can never achieve national reconciliation. Thus the current military successes will prove ephemeral.

The problem with this argument is that it confuses long term and short term. In the longer run, there must be a national unity government. But in the shorter term, our assumption that a national unity government is required to pacify the Sunni insurgency turned out to be false. The Sunnis have turned against al-Qaeda and are gradually switching sides in the absence of any oil, federalism or de-Baathification deal coming out of Baghdad."
- Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post

4. Carolos Pascual and Brian Cullins - Negotiate Confidence Building Measures

"The importance of diplomacy is rooted in Iraq's sectarian civil war. The war in Iraq is not the United States against a single enemy but the United States interjecting itself among many enemies fighting each other. That war cannot be solved by military means. Even if the United States were to quell the violence in the short term, fighting would erupt again with an American withdrawal. Until there is a political compact among Iraqi parties, endorsed by neighbors and the international community, there will be no prospect for peace in Iraq." Carlos Pascual and Brian Cullins, both of The Brookings Institite, in The Washington Post.

5. Max Boot - Vietnam Analogy the Correct One

"That assessment actually understates the terrible repercussions from the American defeat, whose ripples spread around the world. In the late 1970s, America's enemies seized power in countries from Mozambique to Iran to Nicaragua. American hostages were seized aboard the SS Mayaguez (off Cambodia) and in Tehran. The Red Army invaded Afghanistan. It is impossible to prove the connection with the Vietnam War, but there is little doubt that the enfeeblement of a superpower encouraged our enemies to undertake acts of aggression that they might otherwise have shied away from. Indeed, as Mr. Bush noted, jihadists still gain hope from what Ayman al Zawahiri accurately describes as "the aftermath of the collapse of the American power in Vietnam and how they ran and left their agents."

The problem with Mr. Bush's Vietnam analogy is not that it is inaccurate, but that it is incomplete. As he noted, "The tragedy of Vietnam is too large to be contained in one speech." If he chooses to return to the subject in future speeches, there are some other parallels he could invoke:" - Max Boot in The Wall Street Journal

6. Representative Brian Baird (D-Washington): Surge Is Working, So It Behooves Us To Support It And Save Iraq


"Well, not quite right. I believe, frankly, that the invasion of Iraq was one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in the country, and I still believe that. However, once we had made that commitment and were on the ground, I pretty steadfastly opposed a timeline for withdrawal.

Recently, our party put forward a resolution really aimed at trying to make sure that preparedness of our soldiers and equipment was not sacrificed to this war, and I did support that. But I really believe what we need to do now is stop looking at backwards and look at where we are today.

The fact is, this country is trying to rebuild from very difficult circumstances. Their police were disbanded, their military was disbanded. The civil government was taken apart. The infrastructure was destroyed, and the borders were left open. To expect any country in three brief years to rebuild from that is, I think, really not realistic.

We have a strategic interest in seeing that this mission succeeds. We have a moral responsibility to the Iraqi people and the region. And I think we are seeing signs of progress, and it is worth letting Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus have the time and breathing room to move their project forward."
Representative Brian Baird on Tucker

7. Presidential Candidate and Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) Says Maliki Is a Symptom of And Not The Source of Iraq's Political Problem

"Well, look, again, whether it‘s Prime Minister Maliki or someone else, you need leadership in the country that has the capacity, both religious and political leaders, to bring these elements together. I‘m not confident that‘s ever going to happen, but certainly, under this administration of Prime Minister Maliki it‘s been very anemic, at best. And everyone I can think of has told them over the last number of months and years that they need to form a nation-state here. They need to put aside their differences and decide to be a government, if they got any chance of survival at all here.

This further makes the case, I think, Mike, here, that—again, I think we ought to begin getting our military out of that situation."
- Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) on "Hardball"

8. Armstrong Williams - We need Petraeus to Lie

"MATTHEWS: I want to get it straight. What‘s wrong, Mark, with getting it straight from the top guy in the field?

WILLIAMS: I will tell you what is wrong. What General Petraeus and that report need to do is make us, in the eyes of our enemies, look like we‘re 10 feet tall and we‘re invincible.

MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s just public relations, then.

WILLIAMS: Exactly. That‘s how you fight—you fight wars, partially. That‘s—why do you think the..."
- Armstrong Williams on "Hardball" supporting likes such as those that kept us in Vietnam.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bush's Naivete Gone Amok: Faulty Asian War Comparisons

"I stand before you as a wartime president. I wish I didn't have to say that. But an enemy that attacked us on September the 11th, 2001, declared war on the United States of America, and war is what we're engaged in.

The struggle has been called a clash of civilizations. In truth, it's a struggle for civilization. We fight for a free way of life against a new barbarism, an ideology whose followers have killed thousands on American soil and seek to kill again on even a greater scale.

We fight for the possibility that decent men and women across the broader Middle East can realize their destiny and raise up societies based on freedom and justice and personal dignity.

BUSH: And as long as I am commander in chief, we will fight to win."
- President George W. Bush before the Veterans of Foreign Wars

Yesterday President George W. Bush vowed to continue the battle for Iraq, warning his critics that we have to defeat the Islamic fundamentalists in the Middle East "so we do not face them in the United States of America."

While speaking before the friendly Veterans of Foreign War audience in Kansas City, the president compared the war for Iraq to prior wars of liberation in the Pacific, South Korea, and Japan, where democratization followed largely successful military campaigns waged against totalitarian regimes in Japan and North Korea. He then incorrectly attributes the blood shed spilled in Vietnam and Cambodia to our withdrawal from Southeast Asia.

Mr. Bush's reliance upon these prior democratization success stories do not bolster his argument against a troop withdrawal. If anything, his distorted perception of reality undermines it. Democratization in Japan and South Korea was possible because the United States did not have to contend with the identity formation process it now has to deal with in Iraq. Japan's nationalization and unification predated the 20th century. Nationalism bolstered the regime's credibility. In Iraq, nationalism and religious submission undermine it. Loyalty in Iraq is divided along religious, ethnic, and tribal lines with Kurds battling Arab and Turkomen for control over Kirkuk's oil fields, Sunni battling Shiite for control over the non-Kurdish governed portions of Iraq, and secularist battling fundamentalists over the government's infrastructure.

Our military success in World War II was complemented by the people's complete submission. The Japanese surrender was followed by the Japanese subjects' complete submission. Our pledge to defend Japan and its former subjects in South Korea from a Soviet or Chinese invasion helped keep them in line. Today the the Iraqis' draw upon their neighbors for support - the Sunnis look to Saudi Arabia, the Shi'ites to Iran.

Reliance upon these comparisons does not help the hawks. Anti-war opponents will use the president's distorted sense of reality to tarnish all who believe we cannot leave Iraq.

Mr. Bush's reference to Vietnam would astonish anyone who wants the president to succeed in Iraq and regain the broader appeal that united conservative, liberal and moderate hawk alike. The president may be invoking Vietnam to bolster his support among the conservative base but doing so will invite comparisons Iraq war hawks could do without. We do not need to rehash the debate over when and how we lost the war in Vietnam and doing so would only polarize those who think of the war in Iraq in the same terms - as either a lost cause where slaughter can be delayed but not averted or as a potential military victory wholly dependent upon this country's resolve to fight it.

Ironically, the factional divide that prevents Iraq's national reconciliation provides us with a better resolution than the one obtainable in Vietnam. Arming the Sunni tribes bolsters the weaker religious faction and creates a new balance of power that denies any one group from enslaving the other.Factionalism limits Iran's reach into Iraq and provides Iraq's Sunnis with the protectors that could take over when we do withdraw from Iraq.

The president would serve his cause better if he shifted his strategy in Iraq, reminded the public of the threat Iran poses to the Middle East, and discard these historical comparison arguments that hold no water.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Democratic Primary Debate on ABC News

from the debate

The Debate is, for the most part, posted here with my comments inserted in bold and in parentheses. I will amend and add on a daily basis or twice-daily basis.

A. OBAMA'S QUALIFICATIONS

1. To Clinton: Senator Biden, you stepped into this last week. You told Newsweek magazine that Senator Obama is "not yet ready" to be president.

Senator Clinton, is he right?

Well, George, I was going to say good morning...

(LAUGHTER)

... and, as soon as I wake up, I'll answer your question.

(LAUGHTER)

You know, I'm running on my own qualifications and experience. It's really up to the voters to make these decisions. (Comment: Not one minute into the debate and Senator Clinton is already ducking a question.)
And I'm excited because I have a campaign that is growing in support, because we do need to make big changes. And I've set big goals for my presidency. I want to have universal health care and move toward energy independence and do what we need to do in education and reform our government, and, of course, end the war in Iraq.

So I think we have a great group of candidates. You don't have to be against anybody. This is a great problem to have. You can choose who you're for.

And I hope people will choose to be for me based on my experience, my qualifications and my plan for the future as to what I will do as president.


To Clinton: But, Senator Clinton, you did tell the Quad City Times that Senator Obama's views on meeting with foreign dictators are naive and irresponsible. Doesn't that imply that he's not ready for the office? (Comment: Right. Press her to answer the question.)

CLINTON: Well, George, we had a specific disagreement, because I do not think that a president should give away the bargaining chip of a personal meeting with any leader, unless you know what you're going to get out of that.

It takes a lot of planning to move an agenda forward, particularly with our adversaries. I think the next president will face some of the most difficult international dangerous threats and challenges that any president has faced in a very long time.
(Comment: So her closest rival's vow to strike Al Qaida forces in Pakistan if Musharraf won't budge and his apparent willingness to meet with the presidents of some of our enemies is dismissed as "specific" disagreements.)

2. To Dodd: Senator Dodd, you've called Senator Obama's views confusing and confused, dangerous and irresponsible. Do you think he's ready to be president?

"...The experience, the background, the demonstrated success in dealing with both domestic and foreign policy issues are critical questions. You're not going to have time in January of '09 to get ready for this job.

You've got to be ready immediately for it and bringing back the experience over the years to deal with these issues, as I have, both on the Foreign Relations Committee, dealing with every major foreign policy debate -- sitting there working with children and family issues over the last quarter of the century -- I think demonstrated a background and an experience and ability with proven success to deal with the issues.."
(Comment: thank you.)

3. To Biden: Senator Biden, it seems like your colleagues here don't want to reach the judgment that you've made. Why isn't Senator Obama ready?

BIDEN: "Look, I think he's a wonderful guy, to start off, number one. It was about Pakistan we were talking about. The fact of the matter is, Pakistan is the most dangerous, potentially the most dangerous country in the world. A significant minority of jihadists with nuclear weapons. We have -- and I disagree with all three of my friends -- we have a Pakistan -- we have no Pakistan policy; we have a Musharraf policy. That's a bad policy. The policy should be based upon a long-term relationship with Pakistan and stability.

We should be encouraging free elections. There is an overwhelming majority of moderates in that country. They should have their day. Otherwise, they're going to go underground"
. [Comments: (a) A Pakistan that is run by jihadists could definitely harm us. (b) Democratic legitimacy did not help us win allies in Lebanon , Palestine, or Iraq. (c) Biden left out his comments suggesting that what Obama promised to do is official U.S. policy. (d) Didn't answer the question.]

Follow Up: But Senator Biden, you did go beyond talking about Pakistan. You were asked: Is he ready? You said, "I think he can be ready, but right now I don't believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training."

BIDEN: "I think I stand by the statement."

(Comment: Question finally answered. Obama is not qualified in his view.)

4. RICHARDSON: "You know, I think that Senator Obama does represent change. Senator Clinton has experience. Change and experience: With me, you get both." (comment: nice one-liner).

RICHARDSON: "You know, it's interesting. You talk about the dispute between the two senators over dictators that -- should we; should we not meet?

I've met them already, most of them. All my life I've been a diplomat, trying to bring people together. This campaign is..."
(Comment: wow. He's on a roll for once.)

5. To Gravel: Is Senator Obama ready?

GRAVEL: "Senator Obama represents change and he's an enormously fresh voice in the political process" (Comment: Dodging the question. CWould Obama make for a good president).

6. To Obama: "... do think that there's a substantive difference between myself and Senator Clinton when it comes to meeting with our adversaries. I think that strong countries and strong presidents meet and talk with our adversaries. We shouldn't be afraid to do so.

We've tried the other way. It didn't work."
(Comment: Pretty good answer stylistically. Comparing Bush's diplomatic style with Clinton's - priceless though here again Clinton gave herself some wiggle room.

I think that, if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and we've exhausted all other options, we should take him out before he plans to kill another 3,000 Americans. I think that's common sense."
(comment: Not bad for an answer on style but common sense would delay any measure that could bring about the downfall of an ally.)


B. PAKISTAN AND IRAN: RULING OUT NUKES FOR ONE BUT NOT THE OTHER

1. Hillary Clinton

Senator Clinton, one of the areas that -- one of the things that Senator Obama just talked about is that he thinks that some of your differences aren't as great as people have said.

Your campaign criticized Senator Obama after he made a comment ruling out the use of nuclear weapons against Al Qaida, yet, here's what you said last year when asked about Bush administration reports that they might use tactical nuclear weapons in Iran. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: No option should be off the table, but I would certainly take nuclear weapons off the table. And this administration has been very willing to talk about using nuclear weapons in a way we haven't seen since the dawn of the nuclear age. I think that's a terrible mistake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: So Senator Obama rules out using them against Al Qaida. You rule out using them against Iran. What's the principal difference there? (Comment: Good question).

"Well, George, you've got to put it into context. I was asked specifically about what was, very clearly, an effort by the Bush-Cheney administration to drum up support for military action against Iran.

CLINTON: Combine that with their continuing effort to try to get what are called bunker-buster bombs, nuclear bombs that could penetrate into the earth to go after deeply buried nuclear sites.

And I thought it was very important. This was not a hypothetical, this was a brushback against this administration which has been reckless and provocative -- to America's damage, in my opinion.

So I think there's a big difference, and I think it's a difference that really goes to the heart of whether we should be using hypotheticals. I mean, one thing that I agree with is we shouldn't use hypotheticals. You know, words do matter.

And this campaign, just like every other things that happens in the United States, is looked at and followed with very great interest. And, you know, Pakistan is on a knife's edge. It is easily, unfortunately, a target for the jihadists. And, therefore, you've got to be very careful about what it is you say with respect to Pakistan."
(Comment: Mrs. Clinton starts with a cheap partisan attack that is not responsible for her seemingly inconsistent position, then dubious suggests that one question concerned a hypothetical and one does not and finally answers it by distinguishing a country that teeters on the edge diplomatically and a known enemy.)


2. Barack Obama

Do you accept that distinction?

"There was no difference. It is not hypothetical that Al Qaida has established base camps in the hills between Afghanistan and Pakistan. That was acknowledged in the national intelligence estimates. And every foreign policy understands that.

No military expert would advise that we use nuclear weapons to deal with them, but we do have to deal with that problem.

And so, this is part of what I think Americans get frustrated about in politics, where we have gamesmanship and we manufacture issues and controversies instead of talking about the serious problem that we have, a problem that this administration has made worse and that our invasion of Iraq has made worse, but a problem that the next president is going to have to deal with. And the American people deserve to hear what we're going to do."
(Comment: nice come back. He made Hillary Clinton look stupid by reminding us of the Taliban's hiding places in Pakistan.)

3. John Edwards

Edwards: Senator Edwards, is there a difference or not? (Comment: What's the point to asking Edwards this question?)

"How about a little hope and optimism? Where did it go? You know, I listened to this debate, and this is what I hear." (Comment: how about answering the friggin' question???)

"First of all, I think we have a clear path for America and for our friends on Iran, which Senator Clinton just spoke about. And that path is to work with our friends in Europe to put up a choice between carrots and sticks on the table for the Iranian people. Because there is a division between the Iranian people and their radical leader, Ahmadinejad. There's no question about that. We can take advantage of that. We should take advantage of that, drive a wedge between the two.

In the case of Pakistan, the truth of the matter is: Musharraf is not a wonderful leader, but he provides some stability in Pakistan. And there is a great risk, if he's overthrown, about a radical government taking over.

They have a nuclear weapon. They're in constant tension with India, which also has a nuclear weapon, over Kashmir. I mean, it's a dangerous, volatile situation.

But the last thing I want to say about this is it's not shocking that -- first of all, I think Senator Obama is entitled to express his view. And it's not shocking that people who have been in Washington a long time criticize him when he comes along and expresses his view.

But the last thing I want to say about this is it's not shocking that -- first of all, I think Senator Obama is entitled to express his view. And it's not shocking that people who have been in Washington a long time criticize him when he comes along and expresses his view."
- (Comment: Okay. Edwards leans against striking Al Qaeda forces in Pakistan but the question still was not answered.)

Follow up: But is he right or wrong?


EDWARDS: "On which issue?" (Comment: Wake up!)

STEPHANOPOULOS: The one I just asked, was there a difference between Senator Clinton and Senator Obama on this issue.

"I personally think, and I would as president, not talk about hypotheticals in nuclear weapons. (Comment: Sigh. Doesn't he listen?) I think that's not a healthy thing to do. I think what it does for the president of the United States is it effectively limits your options. And I do not want to limit my options, and I don't want to talk about hypothetical use of nuclear weapons.

I would add to that that I think what the president of the United States should actually do, beyond stopping bunker-buster nuclear weapons, which this administration's moving forward with, is what America should do and what I would do as president, is to actually lead an international effort over time to eliminate nuclear weapons from the planet. That's the way to make the planet more secure."


4. + 5. Senator Gravel, then Governor Richardson

4. Mike Gravel

GRAVEL: That's very good but, under the last 25 years, this nation has continued to expand its nuclear capability. (Comment: Heaven forbid.)

GRAVEL: I would say that, essentially, they're all wrong on this. They're, sort of, leading up -- the administration is cooking the books, the intelligence on Iran.

And we're playing into this. And I'm very concerned. I would hope the Congress would pass a resolution saying, under no circumstances do you invade Iran.

Stop and think. What have we -- what have they done to us?

They're giving us intelligence, saying that they're destroying our troops. Well, what about our trying to destabilize their government, which we've been doing for the last 25 years?

We destroyed their democracy. And now we're looking at them as an excuse to expand the war, which is the plan the neocons had back in 1997. And so, when Democrats buy into the problem of Iran, they just help Vice President Cheney, who should be committed, with his recent statements..."


5. Bill Richardson

"You know, when a president talks about foreign policy, a president has to be clear.

RICHARDSON: And this talk about hypotheticals, I think, is what's gotten us in trouble. Here's what I would do on nuclear weapons: I wouldn't, as an American president, use nuclear weapons first. However, you can never take the military option off the table.

The key is that in our foreign policy today, this administration has used the military option preemption. It should be diplomacy first, negotiation, build international support for our goals, find ways that America can get allies in our fight against terrorism, against nuclear proliferation.

We should have a treaty on fissionable material, loose nuclear weapons -- that's even more dangerous today than nuclear weapons."


C. HILLARY CLINTON'S ELECTORAL PROSPECTS, HEALTH CARE, AND THE SYSTEM

1. To Barack Obama

But the Associated Press this week wrote an article. They talked to 40 Democratic activists and officeholders across the country. It led to the series of headlines across the country: "Democrats worry Clinton may weigh down lesser candidates"; "Democrats worry Clinton may hurt the rest of the ticket."

Are they right to be worried?

OBAMA: "You know, I think Senator Clinton and all the candidates up here are capable. (Comment: eyes rolling) And whoever wins the general election I believe -- whoever wins the primary I believe is going to win the general election. (Comment: He certainly does not believe Kucinich or Gravel will get the nomination.)

But I think there's something bigger at stake here. We all agree that the last six years have been disastrous for America, both at home and abroad. But the fact is that the big challenges we face, whether it's health care or a bold energy strategy or schools that aren't producing young people that can compete on the global stage, those are problems that pre-date the Bush administration. (Comment: A good, subtle dig at the Clintons that could easily be interpreted as a statement of fact and subtle call for bipartisanship.)

They're not just Republican problems. They're Democratic problems and American problems. And, you know, I think a winning strategy is not crafted by a political calculus that divides the country into red states and blue states. (Comment: Obama taking the high road.)

So what I've been trying to express in my campaign is that if you believe that part of the problem is the failed politics of Washington and the conventional thinking in Washington, if you're tired of the backbiting and the score keeping and the special-interest-driven politics of Washington, if you want somebody who can bring the country together around a common purpose and rally us around a common destiny, then I'm your guy."

Follow Up: But when you say that, are you saying that Senator Clinton is part of the failed politics of Washington, or not?

OBAMA: "What I'm suggesting is that we're going to need somebody who can break out of the political patterns that we've been in over the last 20 years. And part of that is the notion that half the country's on one side; the other half's on the other.

OBAMA: You maybe have a few people in Iowa or a few people in Ohio and Florida who we're all battling over, and afterwards, we can't govern.

And what I'm interested in is not only winning the election, but also providing relief to people who don't have health care, making sure that we're tackling climate change in a serious way. And I think that's going to require building a new majority, getting new people involved in the process, and I wouldn't be running if I didn't believe that I was the person best equipped to do that." (Comment: High minded talk is easy when delving into the details is avoided.)

Follow Up Again: So the answer is yes?

OBAMA: "The answer is: I would not be running if I did not believe that I was the best person to do this." (Comment: So, rather than answer the question and either help or attack Clinton, Obama keeps the focus on his message. Not bad.)


2. John Edwards:

"Well, let me just say -- I have a slightly different view. Here's what I believe. I think we were out of power in the Congress for 13 years. In November of 2006, the Democrats took over the Congress again. I think there was a reason for that. Because the Democrats in November of 2006 stood for change.

America wants change in the most serious way. And if we become the party of status quo in 2008, that's a loser.

EDWARDS: If we...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that is the fundamental question, though.

EDWARDS: ... maintain -- but let me finish. If we maintain the momentum of change, yes, we will win again in 2008. I think that's the question. And the real question for Democratic caucus-goers and voters across this country is, "Who's most likely to bring about change?"

Here's what I believe: I don't believe you can change this country without taking on very entrenched interests in Washington, including lobbyists, that stand between us and the change America needs. And I don't believe you can do it by sitting at a table, negotiating with them and trying to bring them together.

These people will never give away their power voluntarily. We have to take their power away from them. This is what I've been doing my whole life, and that is why I believe I am the candidate who can bring change to this country." (Comment: the high-minded revolution talk employed by former President Bill Clinton when he first ran for the White House did not help him win health care reform.)

Follow Up: And you're seeing that Senator Clinton is not?

Listen, Senator Clinton, both as first lady and as a United States senator, has done a terrific job. She's been in Washington a long time. I've asked -- Senator, I have never taken money from Washington lobbyists.

EDWARDS: Senator Obama is not taking it in this campaign. I applaud him for that. And I've said: Why don't we all make an absolutely clear statement that we are the Democratic Party; we're the party of the people; we are not the party of Washington insiders?

And we can say it clearly and unequivocally, by saying we will never take another dime from a Washington lobbyist.

(APPLAUSE)

I've asked the other candidates to join me in that.

(APPLAUSE)

And at least, until now, Senator Clinton's not done it.


3. Hillary Clinton:

Senator Clinton, will you do it?

"Well, I don't think Karl Rove's going to endorse me. That becomes more and more obvious. But I find it interesting he's so obsessed with me. And I think the reason is because..." (Comment: Nice joke but can you answer the question?)

.. we know how to win. I mean, you know, I have been fighting against these people for longer than anybody else up here. I've taken them on and we've beaten them.
(Comment: Oh really? Would we be talking about health care reform plans if your plan was passed into law? Maybe but then again no universal plan was implemented.)

"And I'm very excited about my campaign. I had 18 wonderful years in Arkansas. I'll be there tomorrow, where the governor will be endorsing me.

I've had wonderful experiences in upstate New York, where many of the people who voted for me had never voted for a Democrat before.

And you know, the idea that you're going to escape the Republican attack machine and not have high negatives by the time they're through with you, I think, is just missing what's been going on in American politics for the last 20 years."


CLINTON: And the reason -- the reason why we're going to win is because we have a better vision for America, we know how to bring about change, and I know how to beat them.

So, yes, they're going to be driving up negatives and making all these comments. Doesn't matter to me a bit.

What's important is what's happening in the lives of the American people. And the kind of change I'm interested in is how we help more Americans get to the American dream.

And that means universal health care. That means new jobs for the middle class with rising incomes. It means what I have fought for, for more than 35 years.

And I am proud of my campaign, and it's getting better every single day.
(Comment: nice. answer the original question but not the tougher one concerning campaign lobbyists. So how many times did she dodge a question so far?)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Clinton...

CLINTON: So I'm looking forward to going up against whoever the Republicans nominate.

(APPLAUSE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about this point, though, that Senator Edwards raises? He says the fact that you're taking money from lobbyists symbolizes that you're part of the status quo, part of the failed politics of Washington.

CLINTON: Well, George, I believe we have to change Washington. I've stood up against the special interests, I've taken them on. I took them on, on health care. I took them on and voted against a lot of their special interest legislation, like class action reform, which is just really another way of lining the pockets of big business." (Comment: and lost)


"I've taken them on on so many different fronts.

But there is this artificial distinction that people are trying to make. Don't take money from lobbyists, but take money from the people who employ and hire lobbyists and give them their marching orders. Those are the people that are really going to be pushing back."
(Comment: nice jab at the self-professed holier-than-thou opposition opponents.)

"I think we can do a much better job if we say we have got to move toward public financing, get the money out of American politics, because it's the people who employ the lobbyists who are behind all the money in American politics." (Comment: Now are these the real, hard working people like nurses and teachers you defended taking lobbying money from?)

(APPLAUSE)

4. John Edwards Again (Comment: Why not let another candidate get a shot to answer the question George?)

Back to you, Senator. She says the distinction is artificial.

Edwards: "The distinction is not artificial. But first of all, Senator Clinton did a terrific job in the 1990s trying to do something about health care in this country. She deserves credit for that.

But here's what I believe: The reason we don't have universal health care in America today is because of the insurance industry, the drug companies and their lobbyists.

EDWARDS: It's that simple. (Comment: And it's that difficult.)

(APPLAUSE)

"And, George, we need -- and there's a fundamental question here: Whether you believe, whether voters believe the way we're going to have universal health care is to deal with those people, to make a deal with them. I don't. I don't think it'll work. (yet fighting them didn't really work either did it Edwards? It's that simple.)

I don't think we should be taking their money. I think we ought to make it absolutely clear that we're not going to take money from insurance company lobbyists or drug company lobbyists, these big corporate lobbies, that actually killed -- killed -- the health care effort that was done in the 1990s."


STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Dodd, I want to ask you...

EDWARDS: Let me finish. Let me finish. (Comment: Shut up you spoiled prat. Let someone else speak!!!).

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to ask...

EDWARDS: The question is -- the question is: What will bring change? What will bring change?

My belief is you have to take these people on and beat them to bring change. You can't sit at a table and negotiate with them.