Friday, February 29, 2008

Bush Equating Talking With Embracing

Q: "No one is saying embrace him, they're just saying talk --"

"Well, talking to him is embracing. Excuse me. Let me use another word -- you're right, "embrace" is like big hug, right? You're looking -- I do embrace people. Mike, one of these days, I'm just thinking about -- (laughter.) Right, okay, good, thank you for reminding me to use a different word. Sitting down at the table, having your picture taken with a tyrant such as Raul Castro, for example, lends the status of the office and the status of our country to him. He gains a lot from it by saying, look at me, I'm now recognized by the President of the United States."
- President George W. Bush

This explains a lot.

And Democrats should take notice. Do they want the candidate who, in the debate, the candidate who largely agrees with the no-meeting-with-dictator viewpoint adopted by President George W. Bush or do they want the candidate who is seeking to build some bridges with some of our past adversaries?

President George W. Bush:

"What's lost by embracing a tyrant who puts his people in prison because of their political beliefs? What's lost is it will send the wrong message. It will send a discouraging message to those who wonder whether America will continue to work for the freedom of prisoners. It will give great status to those who have suppressed human rights and human dignity.

I'm not suggesting there's never a time to talk, but I'm suggesting now is not the time -- not to talk with Raul Castro. He's nothing more than an extension of what his brother did, which was to ruin an island, and imprison people because of their beliefs.

"I had these wives of these dissidents come and see me, and their stories are just unbelievably sad. And it just goes to show how repressive the Castro brothers have been, when you listen to the truth about what they say. And the idea of embracing a leader who's done this without any attempt on his part to release prisoners and free their society would be counterproductive and send the wrong signal."

Clinton -

"Well, Jorge, I hope we have an opportunity. The people of Cuba deserve to have a democracy, and this gives the Cuban government under Raul Castro a chance to change direction from the one that was set for 50 years by his brother.

I'm going to be looking for some of those changes -- releasing political prisoners, ending some of the oppressive practices on the press, opening up the economy. Of course the United States stands ready, and as president I would be ready, to reach out and work with a new Cuban government once it demonstrated that it truly was going to change that direction. I want to bring the region together, our European allies who have influence with Cuba, to try to push for some of those changes, and to make it very clear that if Cuba moves toward democracy and freedom for its people the United States will welcome that. And as president, I would look for opportunities to try to make that happen and to create the momentum that might eventually lead to a presidential visit. But there has to be evidence that, indeed, the changes are real, that they're taking place, and that the Cuban people will finally be given an opportunity to have their future determined by themselves. ...

... I -- I would not meet with him until there was evidence that change was happening because I think it's important that they demonstrate clearly that they are committed to change the direction.

Then I think, you know, something like diplomatic encounters and negotiations over specifics could take place.

But we've had this conversation before, Senator Obama and myself, and I believe that we should have full diplomatic engagement, where appropriate. But a presidential visit should not be offered and given without some evidence that it will demonstrate the kind of progress that is in our interest and, in this case, in the interest of the Cuban people. (Applause.)"

Just a Quote on Clinton's Self Entitlement

I think Richard Cohen is counting Mrs. Clinton out too soon. I don't think the Clinton power couple won't give up until it wins.

"It might seem surprising that Clinton has turned out to be something other than a brilliant campaigner. But consider her record. Back in 1999, she entered the New York Senate race in the manner of Marie Antoinette entering France -- to be ultimately crowned queen. When Clinton announced an interest in running, every other potential Democratic candidate -- Andrew Cuomo, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, even Al Sharpton -- took it as an order to vanish. The strongest of these, Rep. Nita Lowey, graciously stepped aside, as if Clinton was the real McCoy and a six-term member of Congress was an undeserving interloper.

Back then, I wrote that there was "something wacky" about what was happening. Clinton, you might recall, was hardly a New Yorker. No matter. She had never won an election in her adult life. No matter. She was virtually inexperienced on her own. No matter. She was first and foremost the wife of Bill, and for party leaders and hypocritical feminists -- Lowey was a woman, too, for crying out loud -- she just had to be The One."
Richard Cohen in The Washington Post

One Clue MSNBC thinks the race might be over soon.

David Shuster is back.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Debate, and Obama as a Quick Study

As I said in my previous post, no new ground was made on the debate in health care. Both candidates, for the most part, regurgitated arguments they have made on the campaign stump and in the previous debate. There was, however, one noticeable difference in Senator Barack Obama's (D-Illinois) response to Senator Hillary Clinton's (D-New York) [or should I say former Senator John Edwards] social security analogy. Obama had no answer to this argument made in the CNN debate. On Tuesday he referred to Medicare B. Obama probably didn't know how to counter that argument since he, as a one-term senator, is not as well versed on these government programs.

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) says she will be "ready to lead on day one." Obama, apparently is not in her estimation. Whether she is right or not, Obama is proving himself to be the quick study we'd need as an alternative to someone who is "ready to lead on day one."

The senator New York made a huge tactical error in the debate on health care. When Obama raised Medicare Part B and the senior citizens' tendency to opt in it Mrs. Clinton turned the attention to younger Americans who, because they think they will have no health problems, opt out of coverage, but Obama had an answer for that objection - his plan would have those aged 25 and younger covered by their parents' insurance.

Health Care at the Ohio Debate

Transcripts brought to you from RealClearPolitics

Voters who watched the preceding debates learned nothing new about the remaining candidates' positions on health care. Both regurgitated the misleading statements they have made about their opponents' plan in prior debates.

Accusation 1: Obama Leaves 15 million People Out of Health Care

And Senator Obama's plan does not cover everyone. It would leave, give or take, 15 million people out. So we should have a good debate that uses accurate information, not false, misleading, and discredited information, especially on something as important as whether or not we will achieve quality, affordable health care for everyone. That's my goal. That's what I'm fighting for, and I'm going to stand up for that." - Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York)

Clinton falsely accused Obama of leaving approximately 15 million Americans out of health care because he mandates coverage for children but not adults. Obama, however, promises to offer uninsured Americans who cannot otherwise afford it, subsidies to help them purchase coverage. To him, this is an offer a small minority at most, would refuse.

Accusation 2: Clinton Imposes Mandates that Americans Would have to Pay For

"And the mailing that we put out accurately indicates that the main difference between Senator Clinton's plan and mine is the fact that she would force in some fashion individuals to purchase health care. If it was not affordable, she would still presumably force them to have it, unless there is a hardship exemption as they've done in Massachusetts, which leaves 20 percent of the uninsured out. And if that's the case, then, in fact, her claim that she covers everybody is not accurate.

Now, Senator Clinton has not indicated how she would enforce this mandate. She hasn't indicated what level of subsidy she would provide to assure that it was, in fact, affordable. And so it is entirely legitimate for us to point out these differences."
- Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois)

In sum, Obama says Mrs. Clinton would impose an unfunded mandate on Americans, whether they can afford health insurance or not. Mrs. Clinton does force Americans to purchase health insurance but it would not be unfunded. Senator Clinton would provide the uninsured the subsidies to purchase the mandated coverage.

Argument for Mandated Coverage:

"The difference between Senator Obama and myself is that I know, from the work I've done on health care for many years, that if everyone's not in the system we will continue to let the insurance companies do what's called cherry picking -- pick those who get insurance and leave others out.

We will continue to have a hidden tax, so that when someone goes to the emergency room without insurance -- 15 million or however many -- that amount of money that will be used to take care of that person will be then spread among all the rest of us."

Mandated coverage no doubt, would go a long way toward ending insurance company cherry picking but there is a question of whether it is needed to end such practices can be disputed. Obama says he would outlaw the practice under his plan so those who purchase insurance coverage (again, everyone who wants it would get it in his plan) theoretically would be protected from insurance companies would would otherwise bar at-risk patients from coverage.

A hidden tax which Clinton refers to might very well be imposed on all of those who already have coverage if either plan is passed into law. The funding which the government would use to provide the subsidies, after all, will have to come from somewhere.

Universal Coverage As a Right

"And most importantly, you know, the kind of attack on my health care plan, which the University of Pennsylvania and others have said is misleading -- that attack goes right to the heart of whether or not we will be able to achieve universal health care. That's a core Democratic Party value. It's something that ever since Harry Truman we have stood for."

Senator Clinton's critique is more baffling when one considers her own record on health care. The senator from New York boasts of her role in passing SCHIP, which funds programs covering uninsured children of families that do not qualify for savings in Medicaid. It obviously does not mandate health insurance coverage for children, let alone adults. She cannot now condemn Obama for supporting incremental change when that is how she "got things done" in the senate.

I don't think I have to respond to Clinton's social security analogy since Obama adequately refuted her social security analogy for the first time by referring to Medicare Part B and his plan to let 25-year old Americans obtain coverage under their parents' plan.

Clinton has the edge politically. Democratic primary voters generally favor universal health care - at least in the abstract, but Obama has shown he could hold his own in the debate.

Why did the Gays and Transgendered Have to be the Object of Ridicule

"The other reason why there could be a deadlock in Denver is the Democratic fondness for "super delegates." The Democrats have, I think wisely, made all Democratic senators, governors and congressman automatically delegates. Who better would know the strengths and weaknesses of Democratic presidential candidates than these people, all of whom were elected to their offices?

But there is no sound principle Democrats can't screw up, and they screwed up the superdelegate concept by extending it to the chairs of the left-handed lesbian caucus and the transgendered dwarf caucus and every other special interest group you could think of. The result is the Democrats have 796 super delegates whose votes are not bound by the results of the primary or caucus in their state. Barring a total meltdown by Sen. Clinton, it's the super delegates who'll determine who the Democratic nominee will be."
- Jack Kelly at RealClear Politics

Jack Kelly's use of the "left-handed lesbian" and "transgendered dwarf" caucuses wasn't needed to make his point They inserted to give the reader who opposes constituency-based super delegate allocation a laugh. The Democratic Party opened itself up to a lot of criticism. Mr. Kelly should have ridiculed the Democratic Party's super delegate selection process without disparaging lesbian and transgendered Americans.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Why hasn't The New York Times published an article, however brief of Senator Chris Dodd's endorsement of Senator Barack Obama?

Initial and Brief Thoughts About the Debate

More will follow in the days to come but my initial reaction is as follows:

(a) There was no clear winner in tonight's debate. I'll give Obama a slight (though very slight) edge if only because he did not seem petty but both candidates were able to score some debate points on each other. Obama, for once, actually had a good answer to the social security analogy.

(b) Clinton dictated the terms of the first 15 minutes of the debate. She definitely wanted and got her fight over health care since she knows that best. Clinton presented herself as the fighter for the average working man and woman, rehashing her argument in favor of mandated coverage across the board. Obama held his own, even if it took him too long to get to his claim that he would offer sufficient subsidies for everyone. Mrs. Clinton's attempt to speak over the moderators probably made her look strong.

(c) Obama dominated the foreign policy portion of the debate. Clinton's attempt to downplay her prior vote in favor of their virtually similar voting positions now was answered back with a vivid image - the ditch. Obama handled the Pakistan answer well, though I think he could have asked Senator Clinton what she would do if (and I know she doesn't like to answer hypothetical questions) if Osama bin Laden was located and Pakistan won't go after him.

(d) Clinton survived the grilling on NAFTA even if was a little disingenuous by trying to have it both ways. Running away from her (or was it her husband's?) record while campaigning in Ohio works. Tim Russert still gets kudos for good follow-ups.

(e) Why Obama gets the edge:

(1) Clinton sounded too petty when she after the media. Her complaint about
claimed bias in media practices (having her answer each question first)
was overstated. Working families struggling to make ends meat probably didn't
"feel her pain."

(2) Obama's comeback to Clinton's meaningless differentiation between "reject"
and "denounce." Clinton sounded too desperate playing "gotcha" politics
when Obama clearly distanced himself from Louis Farrakhan. He defused the
issue with little effort.

(f) Obama's missed opportunity:

he offered no response to Clinton's sarcastic rhetoric concerning Obama's
lofty rhetoric and "yes we can" message. Obama should have rehashed the
argument he made in the last debate, in which he referred to the newspaper
editorial boards that interviewed and endorsed him, and the voters that
have to date supported him. Obama should have pointed to the support he is
receiving from some of the most experienced senators - Chris Dodd (D-Conn)
and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass)

More will, as I have said, follow in the days that come.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Obama's Somali Garb

Yesterday, Matt Drudge published a photo of Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) dressed as a Somali elder while he was visiting northeastern Kenya two years ago.

The conservative-leaning Matt Drudge said the photograph was provided to him from Clinton staffers. Obama said he did what he believed would be expected of any dignitary visiting a foreign country when asked to do so by the hosts as a sign of respect. His surrogates say Clinton, in choosing to circulate the garb, is trying to run a nasty and divisive campaign. Wearing that garb might offend or otherwise raise suspicions among those traditionally-oriented patriotic independents and lower income Democrats who might vote in the Ohio and Texas primaries.

The senator from New York said she knew "nothing about it," asserted that she can be found in foreign garb when she was visiting other countries, then accused Senator Barack Obama of changing the subject from a debate of the issues even though she herself did not rule out campaign involvement in the photo's circulation on the internet.

Mrs. Clinton may or may not have known what her surrogates were doing by circulating the photo but her surrogates had engaged in dirty campaign tactics from the beginning, making claim to innocence suspect. Either way, she cannot now, claim that Obama is the one who is changing the subject. Obviously, if she was herself involved than she is the one changing the subject and if her campaign without her knowledge was involved (or not) then she cannot know for sure if Obama, her campaign, or the Republicans are the ones changing the subject.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Experience v. Judgment

"That I mean is that, you know, for more than 15 years I've been honored to represent our country in more than 80 countries to negotiate on matters such opening borders for refugees during the war in Kosovo, to stand up for women's rights and human rights around the world. I've served on the Senate -- (interrupted by cheers, applause). I've served on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and I have worked as one of the leaders in the Congress on behalf of homeland security and the very difficult challenges we face. You know, just this week -- it's a good example -- we had elections in Pakistan; we had a change in government in Cuba or at least the leadership; we've had the elections that, you know, should have happened, that haven't happened, and just change the leader the way they do in Cuba; we've had Kosovo declaring independence; and we have had our embassy set on fire in Serbia.

x x x Serbia.

So we have serious problems that pose a real question about presidential leadership, and also some great opportunities. You know, we now have opportunities, perhaps, with Cuba, I hope with President Musharraf for him to do the right thing. I've supported the independence of Kosovo because I think it is imperative that in the heart of Europe we continue to promote independence and democracy.

And I would be moving very aggressively to hold the Serbian government responsible with their security forces to protect our embassy. Under international law they should be doing that.

So when you think about everything that is going to happen, what we can predict and what we cannot predict, I believe that I am prepared and ready on day one to be commander in chief, to be the president, to turn our economy around, and to begin making a lot of these very difficult decisions that we will inherit from George Bush. And that is what I am putting forth to the voters."
Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York)

Wow. can't beat that, right?

"But it also means using our military wisely. And on what I believe was the single most important foreign policy decision of this generation -- whether or not to go to war in Iraq -- I believe I showed the judgment of a commander in chief. I think that Senator Clinton was wrong in her judgments on that."

On the question of Pakistan, which Senator Clinton just raised, we just had an election there, but I've said very clearly that we have put all our eggs in the Musharraf basket. That was a mistake. We should be going after al Qaeda and making sure that Pakistan is serious about hunting down terrorists as well as expanding democracy, and I was right about that.

On the issues that have come up, that a commander in chief is going to have to make decisions on, I have shown the judgment to lead. That is the leadership that I want to show when I'm president of the United States.
- Senator Barack Obama

I guess you can, for Obama just raised the big question voters have to ask themselves when they go the polls? What good does experience do for a politician if it is used incorrectly? Does Clinton have experience in making ill-considered judgments?

Score one for Obama.

The Debate and Health Care

The Democratic candidates regurgitated arguments they have made before in Thursday's debate, so voters who were hoping for an elaboration on their plans were severely disappointed. (Not everyone has access to the internet). Clinton says Obama is leaving millions of Americans without health insurance out in the cold since his plan does not mandate coverage for adults. Obama says he will provide those who cannot afford to purchase health insurance the means to do so through subsidies. He says Mrs. Clinton's mandate would force lower-income Americans into purchasing health insurance they cannot afford.

Neither charge leveled by the opposing candidates is accurate. Senator Clinton says she will provide the subsidies so that every adult could purchase the mandated coverage (so they wouldn't have to pay). Obama says he would provide the subsidies so that adults could purchase the insurance (and not be left behind). Eventually, either candidate as president will have to make some trade offs if he or she wants a health care bill to survive the senate filibuster.

Left unexplored in the debate are the means they would pay for the subsidies. Cost reductions, U.S. troop withdrawals, and reversing the Bush tax cuts are a start but not the end of that solution (and in any case an alternative might have to be found since the Republicans will fight to keep U.S. troops in Iraq and filibuster any measure repealing the tax cuts Bush signed into law). The burden might fall disproportionately on those who already have health insurance. Neither candidate seems ready to level with the American public on this matter.

The Debate and Obama's Preparedness

Senator Hillary Clinton dodged the question concerning Senator Obama's ability to lead the country after day one; Obama turned the question to his advantage by first, listing pieces of legislation he helped pass, though he over-exaggerates his importance in getting wounded vets their meals, and then by poking some fun at the claims that Obama's supporters are somehow "delusional" (Clinton making the case against democracy).

As I said in an earlier post, Obama's reference to the editorial boards is extremely important in refuting this claim since they are not looking for a messiah, but someone who can and would govern.

The Debate and Immigration Continued

"We need comprehensive immigration reform. I have been for this. I signed on to the first comprehensive bill back in 2004. I've been advocating for it. Tougher, more secure borders -- of course. But let's do it the right way: cracking down on employers, especially once we get to comprehensive immigration reform, who exploit undocumented workers and drive down wages for everyone else. I'd like to see more federal help for communities like Austin and others, like Laredo where I was this morning, that absorb the health care, education and law enforcement costs. And I personally, as president, would work with our neighbors to the south to help them create more jobs for their own people."

so which is it? before she told questioner Ramos he she would consider a freeze on business raids until some misleadingly named "comprehensible immigration reform bill" is signed into law but then she speaks of securing the borders and "cracking down on employers."

Obama largely agrees with Mrs. Clinton on these points, then makes a claim which claims to be far-fetched - a sky rocketing in hate crimes (and this rise made before the immigration bill was debated).

He did say one thing that was somewhat more assuring to those of us who support border regulation:

"We have to require that undocumented workers, who are provided a pathway to citizenship, not only learn English, pay back taxes and pay a significant fine, but also that they're going to the back of the line, so that they're not getting citizenship before those who have applied legally, which raises two last points."

Obama voted for Kennedy-McCain bill that many border restrictionists like myself opposed but Obama might be willing to hold off on citizenship if he truly wants to avoid a fight and unite the country behind a common purpose. This Obama wouldn't have to sacrifice his call for eventual citizenship or his push to bring illegal immigrants "out of the shadows." He need only deny them citizenship, and work to deny them access to the entitlement programs until backlog is taken care of and the border is secured. Consider it a sub Z visa program.

Addendum: Obama also says improving Mexico's economy will help us curb illegal immigration too. I don't know if the Mexican government really cares as long as they can unburden their problem on us as they have been doing.

Real Brief

Before I blog some more about the debate held on Thursday I'll post some quotes (or maybe whole passages) from some columns and news articles that jumped out of me.


"The Clinton camp was certain that its moneyed arsenal of political shock-and-awe would take out Barack Hussein Obama in a flash. The race would “be over by Feb. 5,” Mrs. Clinton assured George Stephanopoulos just before New Year’s. But once the Obama forces outwitted her, leaving her mission unaccomplished on Super Tuesday, there was no contingency plan. She had neither the boots on the ground nor the money to recoup.

That’s why she has been losing battle after battle by double digits in every corner of the country ever since. And no matter how much bad stuff happened, she kept to the Bush playbook, stubbornly clinging to her own Rumsfeld, her chief strategist, Mark Penn. Like his prototype, Mr. Penn is bigger on loyalty and arrogance than strategic brilliance. But he’s actually not even all that loyal. Mr. Penn, whose operation has billed several million dollars in fees to the Clinton campaign so far, has never given up his day job as chief executive of the public relations behemoth Burson-Marsteller. His top client there, Microsoft, is simultaneously engaged in a demanding campaign of its own to acquire Yahoo."
columnist Frank Rich, comparing Senator Clinton's campaign strategy to President George W. Bush's Iraq war strategy, in his latest column in The New York Times

Frank Rich is becoming a must-read. Very entertaining.


"Hillary was so busy trying to prove she could be one of the boys — getting on the Armed Services Committee, voting to let W. go to war in Iraq, strong-arming supporters and donors, and trying to out-macho Obama — that she only belatedly realized that many Democratic and independent voters, especially women, were eager to move from hard-power locker-room tactics to a soft-power sewing circle approach.

Less towel-snapping and more towel color coordinating, less steroids and more sensitivity.

Business schools have begun teaching the value of a less autocratic leadership style, with an emphasis on behavior women excel at: reading emotions and social interactions, making eye contact and expressing empathy."
Maureen Dowd in The New York Times

By the way, who said that?


"The president who came to office with the most glittering array of experiences had served 10 years in the House of Representatives, then became minister to Russia, then served 10 years in the Senate, then four years as secretary of state (during a war that enlarged the nation by 33 percent), then was minister to Britain. Then, in 1856, James Buchanan was elected president and in just one term secured a strong claim to being ranked as America's worst president. Abraham Lincoln, the inexperienced former one-term congressman, had an easy act to follow." George F. Will The Washington Post

4. a neutral observer's take on four potential deciding factors in the Democratic Primary Race - David Broder in The Washington Post

5. “It is time you ran a campaign consistent with your messages in public. That’s what I expect from you. Meet me in Ohio. Let’s have a debate about your tactics and your behavior in this campaign.” - Senator Hillary Clinton as quoted in The New York Times

apparently mommy Clinton knows how boy Obama should run his campaign. His "behavior" just doesn't measure up. He should go to his room.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Debate, Immigration, and a Question for HIllary

Q: "Federal raids by immigration enforcement officials on homes and businesses have generated a great deal of fear and anxiety in the Hispanic community and have divided the family of some of the 3 million U.S.-born children who have at least one undocumented parent.

Would you consider stopping these raids once you take office until comprehensive immigration reform can be passed?

Clinton: "I would consider that, except in egregious situations where it would be appropriate to take the actions you're referring to. But when we see what's been happening with literally babies being left with no one to take care of them, children coming home from school, no responsible adult left -- that is not the America that I know.

That is against American values. (Applause.) And it is -- it is a stark admission of failure by the federal government."

My Question: A "stark admission of failure by the federal government" or a "stark admission of failure" by the misnamed "undocumented" to follow the rules?

note too the rest of her answer:

"We need comprehensive immigration reform. I have been for this. I signed on to the first comprehensive bill back in 2004. I've been advocating for it. Tougher, more secure borders -- of course. But let's do it the right way: cracking down on employers, especially once we get to comprehensive immigration reform, who exploit undocumented workers and drive down wages for everyone else. I'd like to see more federal help for communities like Austin and others, like Laredo where I was this morning, that absorb the health care, education and law enforcement costs. And I personally, as president, would work with our neighbors to the south to help them create more jobs for their own people.

And finally, we need a path to legalization to bring the immigrants out of the shadows, give them the conditions that we expect them to meet: paying a fine for coming here illegally, trying to pay back taxes over time, and learning English. If they had committed a crime in our country or the country they came from, then they should be deported. But for everyone else, there must be a path to legalization. I would introduce that in the first 100 days of my presidency. (Cheers, applause.)"


follow up never asked: so what would be "introduced in the first 100 days of" your presidency? the "path of legalization" for those immigrants who want to come "out of the shadows" or measures designed to crack down on employers who hire and "exploit" these workers. Why the use of the phrase "especially once?"

The Debate: Partisanship

Is an idea good because it is proposed by the party or is the party good because it has good ideas?

Obama speaks as if the Democratic Party is good because it has good ideas that appeal (I guess in his view) to most Americans:

"Senator Clinton and I, I think, both agree on many of these issues. And I think it's a credit to the Democratic Party as a whole that the other candidates who were involved earlier on agreed with us on many of these issues. I think that there is a -- a real, solid agenda for moving change forward in the next presidency."

Clinton speaks as if the ideas they propose are good because they are raised by the party:

"Well, I would agree with a lot that Senator Obama just said, because it is the Democratic agenda."

Senator Clinton obviously wants to minimize Obama's appeal by suggesting he offers no ideas of his own (as if hers are somehow not a part of the Democratic agenda) but it certainly didn't come across that way, particularly since she spends most of her time criticizing the Bush and the Republicans, bolstering her partisan credentials.

Besides, can something not be said in favor of those who listen to those who might raise a good point something not already considered? I think there is a major difference in style between these two candidates.

Senator Clinton has a top-down vertical approach to governing. It's her way or the highway (sound familiar?) We saw it when the health care plan was developed behind closed doors (wait, Bill Clinton blamed himself for that while on the campaign stump, never mind). We caught a glimpse of it when she reminded voters that the experienced and late former President Lyndon B. Johnson was needed to push civil rights legislation into law (she's half right there). And we might be seeing the same thing here. Mrs. policy wonk Clinton has the ideas. She is the "solution candidate." She knows what's good for us.

Well maybe good ideas don't come from Washington. In fact, that's where Obama claims they die (which by implication means they originate elsewhere). Obama speaks of a movement. He takes and is not embarrassed by the fact that yes, he spoke to an outside the beltway governor about the campaign he should be running. Good for him.

Mrs. Clinton portrays herself as the policy wonk who will fight for us (we are spectators?), Mr. Obama as the consensus-seeker who will listen to, then fight for us.

I will be interested to see how the junior senator from Illinois reconciles his bottom up approach to the Democratic Party's adherence to (take your pick) "big government" or "activist government" solution-making.

The Debate: Obama as the New Democrat

Apparently he likes it since he's proposing the New Democrat tax cut policy - targeted tax cuts for the middle class and tax increases for the wealthiest individuals. I don't buy into his claim that these cuts will be offset by closing loop holes (new ones would be created in any legislation he proposes if he tries to get it passed). His one divergence from the moderate New Democrat policy prescription - the free trade agreement Senator Hillary Clinton is running away from and even there his prescription follows the Clinton rule book - provide incentives (in the form of targeted tax cuts) to those who keep their business here.

The Debate on Cuban-American Relations

The differences between Senators Hillary Clinton (D-New York) and Barack Obama (D-Illinois) with respect to a potentially shifting American-Cuban relationship are small for they concern tactics and tone. I see two differences in their approach:

(1) Presidential Involvement: Clinton would send American emissaries from both major political parties abroad (presumably including Cuba) to send the message that the new administration is willing to negotiate with friend and foe alike. Sending emissaries who are not associated with or tied to the administration offers the administration some plausible deniability should the emissaries return with the impression that no deal is possible.

Obama says he would use the prestige of his own office to send that message. This can be risky, particularly if he gets himself hoodwinked into premature negotiations.

(2) Preconditions: Clinton says she would not meet with Cuban President Raul Castro until "there is evidence of change" with the emphasis on the opening of economic markets, the release of political prisoners, and the lifting of "oppressive tactics on the press." Since there were no follow-up questions we don't know if she would have meet with Mr. Castro if there was "evidence of change" on one or two of these four fronts.

Obama says he would meet with Cuba's new president without preconditions though he said backtracked from that statement somewhat by suggesting that (a) human rights would have to be on the agenda for discussion and (b) acknowledging that yes, some extensive preparations that "might take some time."

My thought: I give Clinton the edge on tactics and Obama the edge on the overall strategy. Cuba poses no threat to this country. It has no "weapons of mass destruction" and no history of invading its neighbors. Testing Obama's "no preconditions" policy on this state poses no serious risk to the United States' national interests, making it the ideal place to demonstrate our good will to the rest of the world. Have emissaries from both parties meet with the Cuban leadership, as Clinton would have it but impose no preconditions on an eventual meeting with the Cuban president.

Addendum: Clinton's emphasis on preconditions seems strikingly similar to the current president's approach to negotiations which has gotten us nowhere because the conditions which are set are exactly the ones which require negotiations in the first place.

Addendum 2: Another quote some Republicans will use to make voters think Obama is unpatriotic:

"But I do think it is important, precisely because the Bush administration has done so much damage to American foreign relations, that the president take a more active role in diplomacy than might have been true 20 or 30 years ago.

Because the problem isn't -- is if we think that meeting with the president is a privilege that has to be earned, I think that reinforces the sense that we stand above the rest of the world at this point in time, and I think that it's important for us, in undoing the damage that has been done over the last seven years, for the president to be willing to take that extra step. That's the kind of step that I would like to take as president of the United States. "

I think he is offering a reasonable answer deserving of a reasonable response from the eventual Republican nominee but in this game, "gotcha" politics thrives.

Obama's Opening Statement:

Senator Barack Obama's (D-Illinois) opening statement at the debate included one great line and one that he will come to regret in the general election should be be the Democratic Party's nominee.

First, the good line:

"The problem we have is that Washington has become a place where good ideas go to die."

Now the one he will come to regret:

"They want an America that is as good as its promise. I'm running for president because I want to help America be as good as its promise."

Expect Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and those supporting him to suggest that yes, America is already as good as its promise. Republicans thrive when they run on patriotism. Expect them to use Obama's quote to cast doubts on his patriotism.

S-CHIP, Clinton and the Debate on Health Care

"You know, 350,000 children in Texas get health care every month, because I helped to start the Children's Health Insurance Program." - Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) in the debate held on Thursday on CNN.

Senator Hillary Clinton used her opening statement at the debate last Thursday to highlight her work on the Children's Health Insurance Program. Now that program funds programs covering uninsured children whose families do not qualify for savings in Medicaid. It obviously does not mandate health insurance coverage for children, let alone adults and that raises a question that had not been raised by the journalists moderating the debates.

The senator of New York, as a part of her campaign stump, has criticized Senator Barack Obama because his plan does not mandate coverage for adults (parents would, under his plan, be required to cover their children). Obama says most people would purchase health insurance coverage if they felt it was affordable. He would offer lower-income struggling Americans publicly-funded subsidies and tax breaks to offset, at least in part, the costs associated with health insurance purchasing.

Why then, is she criticizing Senator Barack Obama for offering a modest health care plan that does not, it is asserted, cover everybody when she herself, backed a bill that did not mandate such coverage while serving in the senate?

"You know, it's unconstitutional to discriminate on the basis of race or gender or ethnic origin or religion, but it's okay to discriminate against sick people," Mrs. Clinton said in the debate. Why? Why, after passing SCHIP are health insurers allowed to "discriminate" against at-risk groups?

The answer is of course simple - legislation requires compromise. Trade-offs have to be made to get enough senators on board to survive a filibuster in the senate. Such trade-offs however, will not win her the nomination. She wants Democratic primary voters to think she will fight for them if she makes it into the Oval Office.

Mrs. Clinton speaks for the art of the possible, then admonishes Obama for releasing a health insurance proposal that does not give everyone American citizen their "right" to health care. Could it not be said that in this instance the roles are reversed? That Obama is pushing for that which can be done while she is promising us the world?

How can the reporters let her off the hook for blaming Obama for proposing the kind of modest and imperfect solutions that she herself proposed?


Voting twice?

Reminds me of George Orwell's "Animal Farm" quote concerning equality.

Yes. All voters are equal; it just so happens that some are more equal than others.

Go figure.

The Weekend Preview


1. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):
Topics This Week - four governors on the race for the White House, Senator John McCain's lobbyist story

(a) Four Governors on the Election Race:
Governor Tim Pawlentry (R-Minnesota), Governor Mark Sanford (R-South Carolina), Governor Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), and Governor Jon Corzine (D-New Jersey) on Senator Hillary Clinton's chances to overcome Senator Barack )bama's (D-Illinois) lead and Senator John McCain's (R-Arizona) as the presumptive nominee.

(b) FOX New Sunday Panel on the McCain story:
Brit Hume of FOX News, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and Mara Liasson and Juan Williams of National Public Radio on the The New York Times article concerning Senator John McCain's (R-Arizona) alleged affair and ties to a lobbyist.

(c) Power Player of the Week:
Rick Davis, Senator John McCain's campaign manager, is credited for Senator John McCain's comeback.

This show, which Chris Wallace hosts, is repeated on the FOX News Channel at 6:00 PM ET.

2. "This Week" on ABC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET on Philadelphia ABC affiliate and 10:30 AM ET on the New York ABC affiliate):
Topics This Week - two senators regional stability in the Middle East, the race for the White House.

(a) Sunday Exclusive:
Senator Joseph Biden (D-Delaware), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on the American response to Pakistani elections and the state of the situation in that country.

(b) Sunday Exclusive: Senator Kay Baily Hutchison (R-Texas) on her recent trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq as well as her take on the Republican election primary.

(c) "Roundtable"
- E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post, Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal, and Cokie Roberts and George Will of ABC News on the debates, the story on Senator John McCain's potential lobbying connections, and what comes next.

(d) In Memorium.

This show is hosted by George Stephanopoulos on Sunday mornings.

3. "Meet The Press" on NBC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET): Topics This Week - a potential third party bid for the White House, round table on the primary race and the McCain lobbyist story.

(a) Exclusive:
Consumer activist Ralph Nader speaks to Tim Russert about a potential bid for the White House.

(b) Political Roundtable: David Brooks of The New York Times, historian Dorris Kearns Goodwin, Michele Norris of National Public Radio, and political analyst Chuck Todd of MSNBC on the Democratic primary race and Senator John McCain's fight with The New York Times.

This show, which Tim Russert hosts, is repeated on MSNBC at 2:00 PM ET and 6:00 PM ET.

4. "Face The Nation" on CBS (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET): not posted yet.

This show is hosted by Bob Schieffer on Sunday mornings.

5. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (Sunday at 11:00 AM ET): can't reach their web site for whatever reason.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Some Brief Thoughts About Last Night's Debate

Last night Americans who may be voting in the upcoming Democratic primaries had an opportunity to hear from Senators Hillary Clinton (D-New York) and Barack Obama (D-Ohio) last night. Tonight both candidates offered the American viewers a vigorous though for the most part civilized and substantive debate on health care, the Iraq war, immigration and the war on terrorism.

He really shined tonight, proving himself to be Clinton's equal in being a potential commander-in-chief. When the senator was challenged on whether he's ready to fulfill that duty, Obama refers to the judgment he made in opposing the war in Iraq. Clinton had no response to that and in deed she'll never have a response to that. She voted for the war in Iraq; he didn't.

And I also think many Americans of all political stripes and none would appreciate his less confrontational approach on Cuba. They would question what this great superpower of ours has to fear from the Cuban government. The Soviet Union is gone. It has not, that we know of, have or is in the process of seeking, nuclear weapons. It does not sponsor terrorism.

His response to the charge of "false hopes" was no less effective. Obama pointed to the millions who are coming out to vote and more importantly, to the editorial boards , which had a chance to interview these candidates on the phone or face to face, that have endorsed him.

Obama masterfully handled the plagiarism charges by claiming that he took the line from a supporter who told him to use it. Whether it is true or not, the governor of Massachusetts, won't refute what Obama said since they are on the same side in the primary race.

While Obama was at his finest when the focus was on American foreign policy and responding to accusations of plagiarism and inexperience, he appeared less confident handling health care reform (though even here Obama offered a plausible response).
Obama fumbled his words, looked at his notes, and had no response to Clinton's assertion that the argument for not mandating health insurance could be used on social security.

(I think Clinton's argument would be strongest if this was being challenged legally, when limiting principles of distinction are used to judge a case and not in the political setting where pragmatic trade-offs are made).

Clinton was at her best when addressing economic issues, where she had the opportunity to demonstrate her clear command over detail and at her worst when she attacked Obama on plagiarism.

Her best moment in the debate (and Obama's worst) came at the very end of the debate when both senators were asked to name one time when they were tested and came out stronger (or something like that). The senator from Illinois, the Political Heretic is sad to say, failed to offer one moment of crisis he endored, choosing instead to regurgitate the hashed arguments one would expect from Clinton. The Senator from New York alluded to her husband's adulterous relationships but quickly moved the focus onto the hardships others faced. It was her finest moment, even if it was ahem, stolen from former Senator and candidate John Edwards.

There were no real surprises. Clinton offered polished if canned responses with popular one-liners that pleased the crowd. Obama offered thoughtful, toned down responses with occasional stumbles (though there were some canned lines, usually directed at Senator John McCain, the expected Republican nominee)

Bottom line: no winner.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Yesterday The New York Times published an article that focused on an alleged special and potentially troubling relationship, Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), the presumed Republican nominee for president, and a lobbyist, Vicki Iserman. Two former but unidentified members of the senator's first campaign for the White House who have since grown disillusioned with the senator say officials tied to the campaign tried to protect the aspiring president from a romantic relationship and the perception that the lobbyist gained favor through those lobbyists.

Both, Iserman and McCain deny their was a romantic relationship and of coure, deny there were any special deals between the two of them. The authors of the news article can point to several occasions where the senator, as Chairman of the Commerce Committee, either sent letters to the FCC or supported legislation that benefited Iserman's clients (see page 3) but it is unclear whether these actions were taken strictly to help Iserman and her clients.

According to the report, he introduced legislation creating tax incentives for minority-owned businesses, something which can benefit those who were and were not Iserman's clients. He also wrote letters to the FCC asking it to issue an expedited ruling on a television deal made by one of her clients. He was rebuked for, it is asserted, interfering with the FCC's decision making process but McCain says he was merely trying to expedite the process in a slow bureaucracy.

No judgment one way or the other can be rendered without further revelations, either from the candidate himself from more investigative reporting.

Election Debate

Just a reminder that CNN and Univsion will be hosting a Democratic primary debate between Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) from the University of Texas at 8:00 PM ET.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Obama Again

Last night Senator Barack Obama won his ninth consecutive win since Super Tuesday and in the process made some in roads into Senator Clinton's favored constituencies. According to this FOX News Sunday exit poll, the junior senator from Illinois won the union member vote, split the single and married woman vote and trounced Clinton in the single and male vote. He comfortably beat Clinton among lower income voters as well.

Polled voters say they would be satisfied with either candidate as the party's nominee but Obama would gain more of Clinton's supporters than she would of his in any general election matchup.

By now Obama has proven himself to be a formidable candidate who can win not only caucuses where party loyalists show up but also in primaries where "millions of voters" go to the polls. The senator is on a roll but Clinton, unfortunately cannot be counted out as of yet. On Thursday, voters in Texas, Ohio, Vermont, and across the nation will get to hear both candidates participate in their twentieth or so debate. Mrs. Clinton tends to perform better in these debates. Obama tends to stutter as he thinks of how he is going to answer any given question. Clinton offers well-prepared, though potentially canned responses that allow her to boast of her command of detail

Mrs. Clinton, however, may not need a win in Texas or Ohio to turn her electoral fortunes around. An unnamed senior adviser to the Clinton campaign apparently said the campaign will try to win over Obama's pledged (that is, those chosen by the people via primaries and caucuses) delegates to her side, thereby overturning the will of the people. Mrs. Clinton denies this is a part of the strategy but it forces the Obama campaign to fight the Clintons on many fronts - the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegates (legally), the fight over the super delegates, the fight over pledged delegates, and the remaining primaries).

Between now and June, Mrs. Clinton's opposition team might shift its focus away from Obama's kindergarten essays to the pledged and super delegates both, she and Senator Obama will need to walk away with the Democratic party's nomination.

The Speech

Transcripts here:

Barack Obama

Shame on Them

"I think he's a nice person, and I think he's been railroaded. I don't think he can do as good of a job in prison. But I think if he'd been a white man, he'd already been out of jail." Dorothy Carter as quoted in the Milwaukee Journal, justifying her vote for incarcerated Alderman Michael McGee.

How on earth can someone vote for an indicted politician.

Was Obama Rude by Speaking During Clinton's Airetime?

So, the Political Heretic was watching MSNBC and a derivative of the question posed above in the title was offered to the panelists: Was Obama rude to speak when Clinton had not finished her speech?

My thought. No. This was his night and the candidates who lose are expected to congratulate the winner, thank her supporters for fighting the good fight, and in some way acknowledge the will or the concerns of those who voted for her opponent. It was not the time to give a free, on-the-air stump speech.

Why didn't the panelists ask each other if Mrs. Clinton was being rude to the winner for refusing to congratulate him? Why didn't they ask each other if she was being rude to Wisconsin by ignoring the voters who fulfilled their duty?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Some Interesting Non-Election Race Article

For a break from political coverage, from the now-free magazine, The Atlantic

one education - the writer calls for national standards and a weakening of the school boards which are controlled by teachers unions.

and this one from Slate on the law of unintended consequences, uber-nationalism, and the breakup of the Yugoslavian state.

and the always good common sense offered by Charles C. Haynes of the First Amendment Center. It's his call to end the all-or-nothing approach to politics that is dividing this country. Call it the third way, radical centrist position in the culture wars.

Clinton Press Bias Considered

Readers of this blog know that the Political Heretic is supporting Senator Barack Obama's (D-Illinois) bid for the Democratic nomination and Senator John McCain's bid for the Republican nomination. It looks as if he will get his wish with the Republicans but the race is wide open on the Democratic side.

Just to bring in some balance, the Political Heretic links to this article published in New York Magazine.

There are, no doubt many leading figures within the news media establishment who favor Barack Obama over Clinton. I don't know how much of that can be attributed to the nasty and uninspiring and media unaccessible campaign Mrs. Clinton has been running and how much of that can be credited to the excitement generated from Mr. Obama's campaign. Anyone following the newspaper editorial endorsement race can see that the up and rising new comer is garnering the most support, mainly because they want to turn the page and welcome in a new era of post-partisanship.

However, if one looks to the pundits and talk show hosts, we get a different picture. "Hardball" host Chris Matthews seems to lean towards Obama one week and Clinton on another week. He's been far more critical towards the former First Lady when her surrogates attacked Obama for his prior drug use or when they interjected race into the campaign but more supportive of her bread and butter campaign and the emphasis on the socioeconomically vulnerable members of the Democratic primary. It should be noted that no one on any of the cable news networks have used their air time to challenge Mrs. Clinton's assertion that she is the experienced candidate in the race. She was, one of three (Obama and Edwards being the others) talked up "first tier" candidates from day one. When she claimed the experience mantle, they did not object or point to her far more experienced (ahem) "second-tier" opponents - Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware), Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut), and Governor Bill Richardson (D-New Mexico). They have not, recently, pressed her on her failure to release her tax returns or her husband to provide access to his National Archives.

Dan Abrams has used his show to refute assertions made from candidates on both sides. "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos, not surprisingly, has all but endorsed his former boss's wife. MSNBC analyist Patrick J. Buchanan had provided Mrs. Clinton favorable political coverage until she lost the Potomac primaries and Mrs. Clinton's supporters are fairly represented on the talk shows.

The Political Heretic thinks there is a pro-Obama leaning in news coverage but it is by no means overwhelming.

Obama and Campaign Finance Reform

One blogger says Obama won't lose votes if he breaks his vow to accept public financing. Maybe he won't but it will be unprincipled and it will undermine his standing among those hoping an Obama campaign will usher in an era of good will. If he wants to move this country beyond the era of partisanship and winning at all costs, Obama must stand by commitments he made.
Words matter.

Super Delegates v. the Uncontested States

"Well, let me say this, Tim. The bottom line is, for Florida and Michigan, I believe it's much like the superdelegates. There's a great dispute here and it's not just Hillary Clinton. The senators from Michigan, Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, one of whom's endorsed, one of whom hasn't, says you must seat Michigan. The senator, the Democratic senator from Florida, says "You must seat Florida. Those are my voters, they should be paid attention to." Here's what we have to do. Same thing as the superdelegates. Should Florida and Michigan be--the hang--you know, hanging in the balance. And we get to June 7 and I don't think that'll happen, by the way. I think there's going to be a clear winner. I think it's going to be Hillary, but that's how these things work. Al Gore said it Sunday. But let's say we're not there. Then Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have to sit down and come up with a process that both sides buy into and both sides will abide by. You cannot--you cannot let these internecine battles create a war." - Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) on "Meet The Press"

Senator Charles Schumer is "comparing apples with oranges" (if I may borrow someone else's quote) when he equates Obama's plea to the super delegates with Clinton's disregard for the Democratic National Committee Rules. Obama is not asking the DNC to change its rules so that super delegates are mandated to vote for the candidate who wins a given state or congressional district; he is merely warning the super delegates (who can still vote for whomever they want) there may be "hell to pay" should those they overturn the will of the elected pledged delegates.

Clinton is however, asking the Democratic National Committee to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations for violating the party's bylaws by holding their primaries before Super Tuesday. She could have objected in August when DNC Chairman Howard Dean threatened to deny Florida and Michigan their allotted delegates at the convention. She, however did not, as "Meet The Press" host Tim Russert noted:

Besides superdelegates, another important issue is Florida and Michigan, and this is what happened. Back in August of '07, Howard Dean wrote this letter to all the candidates:

"As leader of the Democratic Party, I strongly urge you to adhere to the 2008 delegate selection rules. The 2008 Delegate Selection Rules. ... The 2008 Delegate Selection Rules adopted by the full DNC at its August 2006 meeting clearly provide that only four states - Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire," "South Carolina - may hold their respective contests prior to February 5, '08. The [Rules and Bylaws Committee's] finding of noncompliance included a 100 percent loss of pledged and unpledged delegates."

If you tried to move your primary up, you've lost all your delegates. Florida and Michigan did it, they lost all their delegates. The Clinton campaign put out this statement: "We believe Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina play a unique and special role in the" nomination "process." "We believe the DNC's rules and its calendar provide the necessary structure to respect and honor that role. Thus, we will be signing the pledge to adhere to the DNC approved nominating calendar."

That was the Clinton campaign in September. Here's the Clinton campaign in February. "With regard to Michigan and Florida, our position is clear. We're going to ask our delegates to vote to seat the delegations from Florida and Michigan. We do not think that" "many Americans should have" had "their votes and their voices and their preferences denied.

"We had an enormous turnout, particular in Florida, the largest turnout in the history of the Democratic primary in Florida. And we believe that it is critically important that those delegates have an opportunity to express their preferences at the convention.

"I don't believe that anyone seriously thinks we're going to have a national convention in which the delegations of Florida and Michigan are not going to have a say. So that is our position."

Michigan's primary was the effective equivalent of the kind of election one would expect in an authoritarian or one-party state. Governor Bill Richardson (D-New Mexico), former Senators John Edwards (D-North Carolina) and Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) and Senators Joe Biden (D-Delaware), Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut), and Barack Obama (D-Illinois) removed their names from the Michigan ballot, since they vowed to follow the rules, forcing voters who participated in the DNC primary to vote for the establishment candidate with the name recognition and party's backing (Clinton), the unknown given no chance to get his message out let alone win (Kucinich), or vote for none of the above ("uncommitted)."

Clinton, not for the first time obviously, was trying to have it both ways. She vowed she'd follow the rules but then failed to remove her name from the ballot, knowing she could use that uncontested free win in delegates if the worst came to the worst and she fell behind in the delegate race.

There has been some speculation concerning a potential do-over. Obama's supporters, knowing their candidate has done better in caucus states, say these two states should conduct caucuses if they are given an opportunity to seat delegates. Clinton, Schumer notes, would prefer a primary:

"Well, again, Barack has done better in caucuses," the senior senator from New York told Russert. "Hillary has done better in primaries. So I guess the, the Clinton campaign would say if we're going to have something, you have to have primaries. The problem there is Florida has a Republican governor and a Republican legislature, and they might not go in primaries."

Yes, but then again, Obama's not the one asking the DNC to change the rules to benefit the candidate who won in two uncontested contests.

Ferrets v. Tin Cans

“You may not believe it, but I’ve actually gone hunting,” - Senator Hillary Clinton in gun friendly Wisconsin. "“My dad taught me how to shoot a hundred years ago.” So Clinton is a centennial? I know her politics is old but ...

I know it won't happen now that Romney dropped out of the election but if the two were to debate guns there would be some differences hey could use to shore up their supporters. Romney hunted ferrets and small rodents. Clinton shot tin cans, and skeet.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Guns and the Democratic Candidates

While campaigning in Wisconsin, both, Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, said they support "common sense" gun regulations while upholding the right to bear arms.

"I believe strongly people have the right to own and bear arms under the Second Amendment," Senator Clinton is quoted as saying in the Journal Sentinel." "I believe strongly people have the right to own and bear arms under the Second Amendment. And I also believe we can reconcile our constitutional rights with common-sense measures that will keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists and people with mental health problems."

Obama's statement defending gun rights was more emphasis and less susceptible to future parsing. "There is an individual right to bear arms," he told The Sentinel. "But it's subject to common sense regulation, just like most of our rights are subject to common sense regulations."

For those of us who do believe that individuals (as opposed to militias) have a right to bear arms, Obama offers more assuring language.

Both, however, should be pressed to suggest regulations that, in their opinion, should not be implemented to make sure they are not paying gun rights supporters in gun-friendly Wisconsin lip service. Would they, for instance, support the district court ruling overturning a gun ban in the District of Columbia and if they consider that city special given its territorial status, would they oppose outright gun bans in cities across America?

The Weekend Update


1. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):

Topics This Week - the national surveillance laws set to expire, Clinton's chance for a rebound handicapped by two Democratic governors, John McCain's election chances against either Democrat handicapped by the panel.

(a) Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence, on the terrorist laws that are set to expire. Republicans say this law has to be renewed if our national security is not to be undermined but Democrats say orders already given will remain in effect for 12 months.

(Editorial comment here: the way this piece is described sets this official, who takes his orders from the administration, as the neutral expert he is not. Expect him to support the president's contention. Note also that no one will be in to contest his claims).

(b) Two governors debate Senator Hillary Clinton's (D-New York) chances of reversing Senator Barack Obama's (D-Illinois) momentum in the Democratic primary race. Governor Jim Doyle (D-Wisconsin) speaks for Obama; Governor Ted Strickland (D-Ohio) for Clinton.

(c) FOX News Sunday Panelists handicap Senator John McCain's (R-Arizona) chances of beating Obama and Clinton in the general election race for the White House. Panelists will include Fred Barnes and Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard and Mara Liasson and Juan Williams of National Public Radio.

This show, which is hosted by Chris Wallace, is repeated on the FOX News Channel at 6:00 PM ET.

2. "This Week" on ABC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET on Philadelphia affiliate and 10:30 AM ET on the New York affiliate):

Topics This Week - John McCain "On the Trail", handicapping the primary races after McCain and Obama's Potomac primary victories.

(a) "On The Trail" - Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) campaigns in Wisconsin while hoping to unify his party after obtaining the endorsement of his biggest rival, Governor Mitt Romney (R-Massachusetts). McCain talks about the state of his campaign and his potential opponents in the general election - Senators Hillary Clinton (D-New York) and Barack Obama (D-Illinois).

(b) "Roundtable" - Claire Shipman and George Will of ABC NewsE.J. Dionne of The Washington Post, and Jay Carney of Time Magazine, and debate this week's politics. Focus should be on Obama's wins in the three Potomac primaries held this Tuesday, Clinton's chances for a rebound, and McCain's attempt to unify the party.

(c) In Memoriam

(d) Sunday Funnies

This show is hosted by George Stephanopoulos on Sunday mornings.

3. "Meet The Press" on NBC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):

Topics This Week - two senators on the Democratic race for the White House, the former "Capitol Gang" (reference to a show once aired on CNN) reunited to handicap both primary races.

(a) Two senators offer their perspectives on the Democratic primary race between Senators Hillary Clinton (D-New York) and Barack Obama (D-Illinois). Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) speaks for the obama campaign; Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) for the Clinton campaign.

(b) Special Political Roundtable: the former "Capitol Gang" Reunited" - Al Hunt and Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg News, Robert Novak of The Chicago Sun Times, Kate O'Beirne of The National Review, and Mark Shields of PBS handicap Senator Hillary Clinton 's (D-New York) chance for winning the primary race and Senator John McCain's (R-Arizona) chance of reuniting his party.

This show, which is hosted by Tim Russert, is repeated on MSNBC News at 2:00 PM ET and 6:00 PM ET.

4. "Face The Nation" on CBS (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):

Topic This Week - the Democratic primary race.

(a) the campaign strategists on the race -
David Axelrod, the Chief Strategist for the Obama campaign, and Howard Wolfson, the Communications Director for the Clinton campaign.

(b) the political officials on the race - Mayor (and former Governor) L. Douglas Wilder (D-Richmond) for the Obama campaign and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D-Los Angeles) for the Clinton campaign.

(c) Roger Simon of The Politico on the race.

This show, which is hosted by Bob Schieffer, is hosted on Sunday mornings.

4. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (Sunday at 11:00 AM ET):

Topics This Week - nothing posted yet.

This show is hosted by Wolf Blitzer.


1. "The Beltway Boys" on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 2:00 PM ET):

Topic This Week - endorsements. Do they matter? How do they help and hurt a candidate's cause?

Co-panelists are Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke.

2. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):

Topic This Week - the Democratic candidates.

(a) Obama's promise of a fresh start - does Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) get the edge over rival Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) because he offers the voters a fresh start?

(b) the Democratic general election ticket - Whether Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) or Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) would run on the same ticket as the vice presidential candidate.

Panelists will include David Gregory of NBC News, David Brooks and Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times, Chrystia Freeland of the Financial Times, and host Chris Matthews.

3. "Reliable Sources" on CNN (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET): CNN does not offer its potential viewers with a preview of this show, which is hosted by Howard Kurtz, on Sunday mornings.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Frisking McCain's Speech

Transcripts here.

"Thank you. Thank you, voters of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, for a clean sweep of the Potomac primary. I want to commend my friend, Governor Huckabee, whose spirited campaign, many gifts as a communicator and advocate, and passionate supporters are a credit to him and our party. He certainly keeps things interesting, a little too interesting at times tonight, I must confess. But I have even more reason to appreciate just how formidable a campaigner he is. And thank you, my friends, for your support and all your hard work. We have come a long way in this campaign, and we have had our ups and downs. But as luck, that product of opportunity and industry, would have it, we are approaching the end of the first half of this election on quite an upswing. Without your faith and commitment we would not be here, and I am immensely grateful to you."

(Good to see McCain congratulate his rival for the near political upset. It was a close one so the extra attention McCain gives to the former governor and his supporters was deserved.)

"But now comes the hard part, and for America, the much bigger decision. We do not yet know for certain who will have the honor of being the Democratic Party's nominee for President. But we know where either of their candidates will lead this country, and we dare not let them. They will promise a new approach to governing, but offer only the policies of a political orthodoxy that insists the solution to government's failures is to simply make it bigger. They will appeal to our dreams of a better future for ourselves, our families and our country, but they would take from us more of the wealth we have earned to build those dreams and assure us that government is better able than we are to make decisions about our future for us. They will promise to break with the failed politics of the past, but will campaign in ways that seek to minimize their exposure to questions from the press and challenges from voters who ask more from their candidates than an empty promise of "trust me, I know better."

(McCain offers standard, boiler-plate conservative Republican rhetoric with the focus on how big government and terrorism. The Democrats obviously reject these assertions. Obama dn Clinton say they offer the Americans the choice in health care plans (and doesn't choose it for them).

"They will paint a picture of the world in which America's mistakes are a greater threat to our security than the malevolent intentions of an enemy that despises us and our ideals; a world that can be made safer and more peaceful by placating our implacable foes and breaking faith with allies and the millions of people in this world for whom America, and the global progress of our ideals, has long been "the last, best hope of earth."

(A bit over the top here. No Democratic candidate running for president would say our mistakes are more dangerous than "the malevolent intentions" of this country's enemies. Quite the opposite. They say Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror.)

"We will offer different ideas, based in a better understanding of the challenges we face, and the resolve to confront them with confidence in the strength and ideals of free people. We believe that Americans, not our detractors and certainly not our enemies, are on the right side of history. We trust in the strength, industry and goodness of the American people. We don't believe that government has all the answers. We believe that government must respect the rights, property and opportunities of the people to whom we are accountable. We don't believe in growing the size of government to make it easier to serve our own ambitions. We believe that what government is expected to do, what we cannot do for ourselves individually, it must do with competence, resolve and wisdom."

(Back to the Republican message which is normally delivered but rarely practiced.)

"The American people don't send us to Washington to serve our self-interest, but to serve theirs. They don't send us to fight each other for our own political ambitions; but to fight together our real enemies. They don't send us to Washington to stroke our egos; but to help them keep this beautiful, bountiful, blessed country safe, prosperous, proud and free. They don't send us to Washington to take more of their money, and waste it on things that add not an ounce to America's strength and prosperity; that don't help a single family realize the dreams we all dream for our children; that don't help a single displaced worker find a new job, and the security and dignity it assures them; that won't keep the promise we make to young workers that the retirement they have begun to invest in, will be there for them when they need it. They don't send us to Washington to do their job, but to do ours; to do it better and with less of t heir money."


"The work we face in our time is great, but our opportunities greater still. In a time of war, and the terrible sacrifices it entails, the promise of a better future is not always clear. But I promise you, my friends, we face no enemy, no matter how cruel; and no challenge, no matter how daunting, greater than the courage, patriotism and determination of Americans. We are the makers of history, not its victims.

Hope, my friends, is a powerful thing. I can attest to that better than many, for I have seen men's hopes tested in hard and cruel ways that few will ever experience. And I stood astonished at the resilience of their hope in the darkest of hours because it did not reside in an exaggerated belief in their individual strength, but in the support of their comrades, and their faith in their country. My hope for our country resides in my faith in the American character, the character which proudly defends the right to think and do for ourselves, but perceives self-interest in accord with a kinship of ideals, which, when called upon, Americans will defend with their very lives."

To encourage a country with only rhetoric rather than sound and proven ideas that trust in the strength and courage of free people is not a promise of hope. It is a platitude.

(Now the senator is going after Senator Obama. Obama does have some ideas which he will be expected to deliver on should he be elected.)

"When I was a young man, I thought glory was the highest ambition, and that all glory was self-glory. My parents tried to teach me otherwise, as did the Naval Academy. But I didn't understand the lesson until later in life, when I confronted challenges I never expected to face."

(I don't think Senator Barack Obama deserves all of the blame for the Obama phenomenon. The people who attend his rallies obviously treat him as if he is a messiah, the party's savior. He obviously likes the flattery (name me a politician who does not) but the people who are yearning for change deserve most of this blame. Senator Obama is a man and as such a flawed man. Obama does, to his credit, thank his supporters. He uses pronouns like "we" and "you" when referring to his victories, rarely using "I.")

"In that confrontation I discovered that I was dependent on others to a greater extent than I had ever realized, but that neither they nor the cause we served made any claims on my identity. On the contrary, I discovered that nothing is more liberating in life than to fight for a cause that encompasses you, but is not defined by your existence alone. And that has made all the difference, my friends, all the difference in the world.

I do not seek the presidency on the presumption that I am blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save my country in its hour of need. I seek the presidency with the humility of a man who cannot forget that my country saved me. I am running to serve America, and to champion the ideas I believe will help us do what every American generation has managed to do: to make in our time, and from our challenges, a stronger country and a better world.

I intend to do that by fighting for the principles and policies I believe best serve the interests of the American people: for a government that takes and spends less of your money and competently discharges its responsibilities; that shows a proper respect for our rights and values; that provides a strong and capable defense; that encourages the enterprise and ingenuity of individuals, businesses and families, who know best how to advance America's economy, and secure the dreams that have made us the greatest nation in history. As I have done my entire career, I will make my case to every American who will listen. I will not confine myself to the comfort of speaking only to those who agree with me. I will make my case to all the people. I will listen to those who disagree. I will attempt to persuade them. I will debate. And I will learn from them. But I will fight every moment of every day for what I believe is right for t his country, and I will not yield. And, my friends, I promise you, I am fired up and ready to go.

Thank you, and God bless you."

Back on MSNBC

I guess Senator Hillary Clinton desperately wants the debate now that she fell behind in the delegate race.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Frisking Huckabee's Comments to Reporters

Transcripts here but the speech in its entirety is posted below in italics with my comments inserted in bold face.

"... will be coming real soon after that. So the next several weeks are going to be the very intense weeks when a lot of delegates are at stake. And a lot will be decided, as far as the long-term impact of where this process is going. But one thing that we have continually said -- and I'm going to reiterate tonight -- that the nomination is not secured until somebody has 1,191 delegates. That has not yet happened. And we're still continuing to work and to give voters in these states a choice."

I think if anything that we're doing is important, it's recognizing that the people in the states who have not had their elections have as much right to an election as all of these folks who are frontloaded for either Super Tuesday or prior to that.

And if there are these calls to say, "Let's just call it off," well, that's a disservice to the people in Texas, and Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, and Nebraska, and other states and territories who have yet to have that opportunity to vote."

(and the fact that you build a name for yourself every time you nearly if not beat the front runner has nothing to do with this?)

"So we march on. Every time we win, we're ecstatic. When we don't win, we're disappointed, but we're not knocked out, and we continue to believe that every day provides a new opportunity for us to keep the message going, show the contrast, and hopefully give people in the Republican Party a cause to be for and also to keep it, though, in a respectful and I think the kind of tone and tenor that has, I would like to think, brought some honor to the process.

So let me take a few of your questions, and we'll go from there.

QUESTION: "Governor, tonight Senator McCain's camp, Jill Hazelbaker, said that it is mathematically impossible for Governor Huckabee to secure the nomination. You said the other day that you majored in miracles, not math. Has anyone on your campaign staff done any of their own delegate math? Would you be able to comment on that?"

MR. HUCKABEE: "I mean, we understand, in terms of the conventional process, barring, you know, some something that could happen along the way in the campaign for Senator McCain, or if he doesn't acquire enough delegates, that's really the possibility, that it could go to the convention.

So, you know, I hear all the things that are said, but, you know, it's still -- I go back to this fact. And I just can't say it loudly or maybe emphatically enough. You've got to have 1,191.

And while it may be mathematically impossible to see how it could play out right now, I know this: Right now, nobody has the 1,191 delegates. And, therefore, it would be a little premature to quit until the game has actually come to a conclusion.

And I'll also remind everybody that it was the Republican National Committee who created the rules and the process and said, "Here's what it takes to be the nominee." Nobody's made it to that point yet.

And so, you know, I've not been one who believes that you leave the field because it's gotten difficult. You stay, and you keep playing until the last second of the clock has sounded.

(right but a team that plays on in the face of certain defeat in the fourth quarter does not increase its prestige or stock by playing to the last second. Huckabee does)

I can't tell from these transcripts if the former governor from Arkansas congratulated Senator John McCain on his win. I hope he did but if he did not then the same which I said for Clinton applies to Huckabee. He must acknowledge the voters who stood with his opponent.

It May Not Be Ohio's and Texas

Not the conventional wisdom but...

Frisking the Clinton Speech

Don't worry. I'll frisk the others as well but in the meantime, for those who don't know - anything bold faced is mine.

"Oh, it is so wonderful to be here."
(and not in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia).

"I want to thank the congressman so much. He does an extraordinary job representing you, and I know how proud you are to have him as the chairman of one of the most important committees in the United States Congress. Thank you so much." (she must be referring to Representative Silvestre Reyes, who is, by the way, a Hispanic American).

"I want to thank the congressman so much. He does an extraordinary job representing you, and I know how proud you are to have him as the chairman of one of the most important committees in the United States Congress. Thank you so much.

He and his wife, Carolina, have been friends and colleagues for a long time, and so it is especially a privilege to be introduced by him tonight and to be part of this extended family, because it is family, and I am proud to be part of the El Paso, Texas, family starting right now."

(and in case you didn't know it, his wife must also be Hispanic given her first name).

"There are so many people who have come tonight and who have helped make this extraordinary event possible. I want to thank Rick and Louis Bolanos. They are part of Texas Veterans for Hillary. And the Bolanos family is so well-known because of their service to our country, and I am honored to have them supporting me. Thank you.

I want to thank my old friend, Alicia Chacon, the former county judge, the UTEP Young Democrats for hosting me tonight...

... Norma Flores Fisher, Danny Achando (ph), Aaron Rosas (ph), Senator Eliot Shapleigh.

I want to thank the students and the staff of the university, and I want to thank my huge, Texas-sized steering committee."

(and Felipe, Juan, Miguel, Carlos .... Okay. We get it. Hispanic Americans dig you.).

"Well, I can't think of any better place to start our campaign for Texas than right here in El Paso. And I am honored to be an honorary miner."

(no word yet on the will of the people in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C.)

"And we're going to sweep across Texas in the next three weeks, bringing our message about what we need in America, the kind of president that will be required on day one to be commander-in-chief to turn the economy around. I'm tested. I'm ready. Let's make it happen."

(the voters in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. - those closest to the action on Capitol Hill - aren't buying into her message).

"You know, there's a great saying in Texas -- you've all heard it -- "all hat and no cattle." Well, after seven years of George Bush, we need a lot less hat and a lot more cattle."

Say what?

"Texas needs a president who actually understands what it's going to take to turn the economy around, to get us universal health care, to save hardworking Americans homes from foreclosure at the abusive practices of the mortgage companies.

We have a lot of work to do. And I know that El Paso understands that picking a president is one of the most important jobs we're going to do in this country in the next couple of weeks."

(unlike them dimwits in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. who don't understand "that picking a president is one ofthe most important jobs" to do).

"When I think about Texas, I think about, as the congressman said, coming here 35 years ago. I was working for the Democratic National Committee. And I was going along the border registering voters. And we had the greatest time. I met some of the best friends that I've ever had in my life.

We had a chance to go into people's homes. We ate a lot of great food.

We listened to some wonderful music. And we registered a few voters, too.

Well, here I am back in Texas, and I'm asking the children of those voters to vote for me for their future."

(Because you owe me!)

"You know, some people, when they run for a political office, they only think about the next election. But I like to think about the next generation, because that's what I think this election is about.

It is about what kind of country and world we're going to pass onto the young people who are students here, to that beautiful young boy who came up and gave me the flowers, for each of our children and grandchildren. Are we going to give them the same shot at the American dream that many of us were given?"

(because she is, after all, the candidate of change, oh, and that beautiful boy is Hispanic.)

"Well, if we make the right decision in this election, we sure are. We're going to give our young people not only confidence and optimism, but real results, 21st-century solutions for what we need to do to fix our problems, meet our challenges, and seize our opportunities."

(21st-century solutions - how trendy! so how are her solutions any different from those proffered in the past?)

"As I travel around the country, I know from what people tell me that a lot of really hard-working folks are concerned. You know, they're working as hard as they can, but they don't feel like they're getting ahead. They're not getting the kind of health care and educational opportunities that they want for themselves and their children.

I hear the mothers who tell me they don't know what they're going to do because they can't afford health care, and they have sick children, and the only place they have to turn to is the emergency room.

I've been in the homes of families that are on the brink of losing the American dream because they got sucked into one of these subprime mortgages and they can't afford to stay in their home. They're looking for somebody to say this was wrong and we will help you.

I meet the people who work hard every single day but can't pay their energy bills; they can't fill up their gas tank. They're looking for answers.

And then I meet all of the people who want to solve the problems, the young people who are focused on a better future and want to make it happen.

There isn't anything America can't do if we make up our minds to do it. Every once of us, every single one of us knows that tomorrow can be better than today, but it doesn't happen just by wishing it or hoping for it. It happens by working really, really hard to make it a reality to give everybody a better chance."

(so Obama is lazy?)

"I see an America where everyone willing to work hard has a job with a rising income. And if you're willing to work full-time, you have wages that lift you out of poverty. I want to make sure every American who works full-time has a minimum wage of at least $9.50."

(not bad but certainly not what I would consider a "21st-century solution" to an ongoing problem)

"In fact, I would require that Congress cannot raise its own salaries unless it raises the minimum wage."

(now where did I hear that before? I'm sure those making $7.25 an hour by the time she or another candidate is inaugurated would be pleased if U.S. senators and house members held to their six-digit salaries.)

"I see an America where health care is a moral right, not a privilege, where every man, woman and child has access to quality, affordable health care. We can do this. We can have a uniquely America solution."

(Obama does too.)

"We already have a plan that we can make available to everyone. It's the plan that provides health care to members of Congress. And it works well for members of Congress and our staffs and federal employees. It has lots of choices.

I want to make sure you have the same choices as your member of Congress does."

(how are you and your opponent going to pay for that?)

"And we will help people pay for it because I want everybody, everybody, to have quality, affordable health insurance.

And I also see an America where we end our dependence on foreign oil and we start growing and making our own energy right here in Texas and America."

(your husband wouldn't and couldn't do this in the early 1990s when the Democrats controlled Congress)

"Aren't you tired of paying those exorbitant costs at the gas pump? Aren't you tired of sending billions of our dollars to countries that turn around and use it against us?"


"Well, why don't we get smart and start creating our own energy? We have the sun; we have the wind; we can grow the products; we can turn what we have here in Texas into the energy of the future.

I think that if we do this we will create millions of new, good jobs, jobs with rising incomes, jobs that will be right here in El Paso, right here in Texas, jobs that will give a family a good potential opportunity to raise their kids, and send them to school, and feel like they're part of the American dream.

Energy can be the key that unlocks our economic future, makes us more secure in the world. And, if we do it right, we will begin to deal with the problem of global warming, which is a real problem that has to be attacked."

"You know, I see an America where children are better prepared before they ever go to school, where we help families prepare their own children, where we have a universal pre-kindergarten program, so that 4-year-olds can get off to a good start.

I see an America where the federal government doesn't tell the teachers, and the principals, and the superintendents in El Paso what they're supposed to teach and what they're supposed to test."

(so does that mean you will allow school districts to teach "abstinence-only" sex education, and creationism? I hope not).

"I will the end the unfunded mandate known as No Child Left Behind."

(Why does everything come down to funding?)

"And, together, we will come up with a 21st-century educational system for our children, where we look at each individual child and try to decide what we need to do to lift that little boy or girl to his or her God-given potential. That is the purpose of education, not test after test after test after test after test."

(there's that "21st-century" jingo again but moving on, how do you create a hundred million standards for that "little boy or girl?")

"I see an America where every young person who is willing to work hard will be able to go to college. They will not have the door slammed in their face because of the costs of higher education.

In my America, we're going to make sure that the federal government gets back into loaning people money at a low interest like they did when I went to school instead of the student loan companies."

(more costly promises)

"We're going to give young people the opportunity for national service so that you can earn money to go to college. One year of national service, you can earn up to $10,000. That would give you the resources to be able to go to school.

It is wrong in America when families have to mortgage or sell their homes to send their sons or daughters to college. It should be an investment we all make in you.

I see an America where we finally have comprehensive immigration reform with a path to earned legalization."

only one year?

"Of course, we're going to have secure borders. We're going to work very hard on that. And, yes, we're going to make sure employers don't exploit undocumented workers."

("Undocumented" as readers of this blog know, is a euphemism designed to shift the burden of fault away from those who choose to discard the rules that govern who can and cannot live and work in this country to the agency that allocates the documents used to prove that one has the right to live and work in this country).

"And we will do more to help communities like El Paso that need resources for health and education and law enforcement. And I want to work more with our neighbors and friends to the south to help those countries create more jobs for their own people, so that everyone would have a chance at a better life.

But we're going to bring people out of the shadows. We're going to tell them that, if they meet certain conditions, like paying a fine for coming here illegally, like paying back taxes, like learning English, we're going to give people a path to citizenship, because so many of the people who are here work hard, send their children to school, and deserve a chance at the American dream."

(This notion that people who cheated their way into this country "deserve a chance at the American dream" is disputable. It could be said that no foreigner "deserves a chance at the American dream" but they are granted that privilege from a benevolent and tolerant nation if they respect the rules)

"You know, I see an America where we, once again, are builders and architects of our future, where we're investing in all of the different kinds of transportation and physical buildings that are required.

We need more roads; we need more bridges; we need more tunnels. We should be putting millions of Americans to work building the 21st- century America, investing in that richer and brighter future."

"And I see an America where we know that we have to be respected around the world again, where we have to repair our reputation, where we have to work with other countries to solve our problems.

I have said that, when I become president, I will begin to put a plan into place to bring our troops home starting within 60 days.

(Note: she will start to "put a plan into place" in 60 days; not start the withdrawal in 60 days. Note too, she is starting the process to remove troops from a war she voted for.)

"Many of you are veterans. You know that planning to withdraw our troops has to be done carefully and responsibly, but we must start. Our young men and women who serve our country have done everything they were asked to do.

They have performed bravely and heroically, but there is no military solution. It is up to the Iraqis themselves to make the tough decisions about their country's future."

(No military solution for the war she voted for)

"So as we bring our sons and daughters home, let's take care of our veterans. Let's give our veterans the services, the health care, the other programs that they so richly have earned, because when someone signs up to serve America, America signs up to serve that veteran.

I want to be sure that all of our veterans, from our youngest to our oldest, get taken care of. I'd like to see our youngest veterans get a 21st-century GI Bill of Rights, with money for college, and money to buy a home, and money to start a business.

And as a president, President Bush has not done what needed to be done for our veterans. We haven't funded the VA. We have so many coming home who are injured and not being taken care of. I think it is the highest obligation of the president, who is also our commander- in-chief, to take care of those who have served our nation, and I pledge to you I will take care of our veterans.

I will make sure our youngest veterans get what they need. We will honor our oldest veterans from World War II. And I want to pay special attention to the veterans of my generation who served and fought in Vietnam, to give them what they deserve to have."

You know, every problem we face can be solved because we're Americans. We are problem-solvers. We are the people who are constantly creating the future. We believe that tomorrow not only can be, but will be better than today. And we have to keep faith with these young men and women to make sure that they have the opportunity to pursue their own dreams.

So this election could not be more important. And there are some real differences that have to be sorted out by the voters of Texas.

"One of the biggest differences between me and my opponent is that I believe with all my heart that we must have universal health care, that we must do everything possible, finally, to realize the dream of Democratic presidents going back to Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Now is the time when we will achieve this goal. We cannot give up on it; we cannot back down from it. Senator Obama won't come forward with a universal health care plan, but I have, I will, and with your help we will achieve universal health care in America."

(Obama does come forward with a universal health care plan in so far as it includes a promise to subsidize those who cannot afford to buy into one. Congress will gut some aspects from her plan (and consequently make it non-universal) when it considers her plan).

"Another difference is that I want to stop the foreclosures of peoples' homes. I want to give people a chance to work out a way to stay in their homes.

The home is the most important refuge that any of us have, isn't it? And too many people are being forced out of their homes across Texas because of abusive mortgage practices, predatory lending.

And it's not just affecting the people who lose their homes; it's affecting the people who live next door or down the street, because a vacant home lowers property values for everyone."

(Lesson to learn from this fiasco: buy what you can't afford so the government will bail you out).

"So I have been saying let's have a moratorium. Let's freeze interest rates. This is a very big deal, because we can't fix the economy if our home market doesn't start working again."

(The burden will have to fall on someone when this moratorium is imposed. Who do you think will pay more in prices? Try the saps who weren't dumb enough to buy what they could afford)

"And so I was somewhat amused today when President Bush and his secretary of the treasury said they were actually going to do some of what I've been urging them to do for several months. Let's try to save people's homes.

I am a problem-solver. I believe that we need a president, starting on day one, who's going to roll up his or her sleeves and get to work."

(Is there anyone who can vouch for her forecasting? Prophet Clinton says she told Bush this would happen and how to resolve it).

"Because I want you to imagine for a minute what is waiting for our next president in the Oval Office in the White House. You know, on January 20, 2009, our next president will be sworn in. And waiting on that desk in the Oval Office are two wars -- two wars -- an economy in trouble, a health care system that is not taking care of people, an energy reliance on unstable regimes, and all of the problems that comes from that.

So many of these challenges are going to be just sitting there, waiting for the next president. And some people say, "Well, there's going to be a lot of work to do." Well, there is going to be a lot of work to do, but are we up to doing that work and taking our country back?

Now, I am so excited to be making this campaign, but I can't do it without all of you. I need you here in El Paso and across Texas to stand up for me, because...

... because if we stand up together, if we work together, if we fight together, we will take back America, and we will make history together.

Thank you all, and God bless you.

not one word acknowledging the voters in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. What a slap in the face.