Thursday, August 14, 2008

Back on the bottle?

How to blow it

It's the most winnable presidential election in American history - but the Democrats are old hands at losing. Michael Moore offers some helpful hints on how they might gift it all to the Republicans.

by Michael Moore

"Let's snatch defeat from the jaws of victory."
"We never met an election we'd like to win."
"Why get elected when you can be defeated!"

These have been the mantras of the Democratic Party. Beginning with their stunning inability to defeat the most detested politician in American history, Richard Nixon, and continuing through their stunning inability to defeat the most detested politician in the world, George II, the Democrats are the masters of blowing it. And they don't just simply "blow it" - they blow it especially when the electorate seems desperate to give it to them.

After eight years of Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office, the public had seen enough. The Democrats chose Michael Dukakis as their nominee. Two months before the election, he was ahead of Bush I in the polls. Then he went to an army tank factory in Michigan, put on some kind of stupid-fitting helmet and rode around in a tank with a goofy smile on his face. Weeks later, when asked what kind of punishment he would like to see given to someone who might rape his wife, he started mumbling some sort of bleeding-heart gibberish instead of just saying what anyone would say: "I'd like to tear the bastard limb from limb!" The voters were so put off by his wimpiness, they elected an actual wimp over him, George H W Bush.

For years now, nearly every poll has shown that the American people are right in sync with the platform of the Democratic Party. They are pro-environment, pro-women's rights, pro-choice, they don't like war, they want the minimum wage raised, and they want a single-payer universal healthcare system. The American public agrees with the Republican Party on only one major issue: they support the death penalty.

So you would think, with more than 200 million eligible voters, the Dems would be cleaning up, election after election. Obviously not. The Democrats appear to be professional losers. They are so pathetic in their ability to win elections, they even lose when they win! Al Gore won the 2000 election, but for some strange reason he didn't become the president of the United States.

If you are unable as a party to get the landlord to turn over the keys to a house that is yours, what the hell good are you?

Too good

And then I warned Putin...

Yes, she can

WASHINGTON: While Obama was spending three hours watching "The Dark Knight" five time zones away, and going to a fund-raiser featuring "Aloha attire" and Hawaiian pupus, Hillary was busy planning her convention.

You can almost hear her mind whirring: She's amazed at how easy it was to snatch Denver away from the Obama saps. Like taking candy from a baby, except Beanpole Guy doesn't eat candy. In just a couple of weeks, Bill and Hill were able to drag No Drama Obama into a swamp of Clinton drama.

Now they've made Barry's convention all about them - their dissatisfaction and revisionism and barely disguised desire to see him fail. Whatever insincere words of support the Clintons muster, their primal scream gets louder: He can't win! He can't close the deal! We told you so!

Hillary's orchestrating a play within the play in Denver. Just as Hamlet used the device to show that his stepfather murdered his father, Hillary will try to show the Democrats they chose the wrong savior.

Should Barack Obama or Cindy McCain really be in prison?

That's the mad logic of the 'War on Drugs'. So why the silence?

by Johann Hari
On January 20th 2009, either the president of the United States will be a man who used to snort coke to ease his blues, or the First Lady will be a former drug addict who stole from charity to get her next fix. In this presidential campaign, there are dozens of issues that have failed to flicker into the debate, but the most striking is the failing, flailing 'War on Drugs.' Isn't it a sign of how unwinnable this 'war' is that, if it was actually enforced evenly, either Barack Obama or Cindy McCain would have to skip the inauguration -- because they'd be in jail?

At least their time in the slammer would feature some familiar faces: they could share a cell with Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and some 46 percent of the US population.

The prohibition of drugs is perhaps the most disastrous policy currently pursued by the US government. It hands a vast industry to armed criminal gangs, who proceed to kill at least excess 10,000 citizens a year to protect their patches. It exports this programme of mass slaughter to Mexico, Colombia and beyond. It has been a key factor in reviving the Taliban in Afghanistan. It squanders tens of billions of dollars on prisons at home, ensuring that one in 31 adults in the US now in prison or on supervised release at any one time. And it has destroyed an entire generation of black men, who are now more likely to go to prison for drug offences than to go to university.

And for what? Prohibition doesn't stop people using drugs. Between 1972 and 1978, eleven US states decriminalized marijuana possession. So did hundreds of thousands of people rush out to smoke the now-legal weed? The National Research Council found that it had no effect on the number of dope-smokers. None. The people who had always liked it carried on; the people who didn't felt no sudden urge to start.

So where's the debate? The candidates have spent more time discussing froth and fancies -- how much air is in your tyres? -- than this $40bn-a-year 'war."

Drill American

Police seek motive in shooting of Arkansas Democratic leader

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Police on Thursday sought to uncover what led a gunman to burst into the headquarters of the Arkansas Democratic Party and kill the chairman, a top ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton, US media said.

Bill Gwatney, 48, was shot multiple times in the upper body and died shortly afterward at the hospital, police said.

His assailant, 50-year-old Tim Johnson, was fatally shot after a police chase into a neighboring county.

He had no criminal record and had reportedly been fired earlier that morning from his job at a Target store, but it was unclear if or how he knew Gwatney, according to local news reports.
Police were called to a Target store in Conway, about 25 miles north of Little Rock, early Wednesday after coworkers complained about an agitated employee who had been fired for writing graffiti on a wall, the Arkansas News said.

The employee, Johnson, was "very agitated and shaking, and they feared for their safety," said Conway police spokeswoman Sharen Carter, who added that Johnson had departed by the time police arrived.

Several hours later, just before noon, Johnson walked in the state Democratic Party headquarters and asked for Gwatney.

A volunteer who was in the office at the time said Johnson had indicated he was "interested in volunteering, but that was obviously a lie."

Once Gwatney came out to meet him, "they introduced themselves, and at that time he (Johnson) pulled out a handgun and shot Chairman Gwatney several times. He then turned and left the business," said police lieutenant Terry Hastings.

The killing left fellow Democratic leaders in shock less than two weeks before the party's national convention in the midst of a fierce battle for the White House.

Haunted by Elizabeth

A Powerful Campaigner Missed the Cold Facts of a Modern Election
John and Elizabeth Edwards in Tipton, Iowa, in June 2007. (Photo by John Edwards 2008 Campaign)
John and Elizabeth Edwards in Tipton, Iowa, in June 2007.
(Photo by John Edwards 2008 Campaign)

What what she thinking?

That's the question that continues to haunt the painful saga of John and Elizabeth Edwards. Not that she loves him and stayed with him after he confessed to having an affair (and possible lust child; though whether he told her about that we don't know).

If we have learned one thing watching Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, it is that marriages are complex, each and every one, with its bargains, and attachments, and wounds that run deep. After, of course, insisting she was not some little woman standing by her man, Hillary Clinton was in many respects just that. It was clearly what she needed to do, sailing on post-presidency into the Senate and her own fierce run for the White House.

Illustration by: Matt MahurinNo, the question in Elizabeth Edwards's case is: Why in the world did she go ahead and let him run — run with him, run hard all across the country, giving her all despite her stage four cancer and her two young children — after she knew. After she knew about his dalliance with a bouncy, blond so-called filmmaker with a penchant for New Age spirituality.

In these days of her public humiliation, one wants not to add to it. He is the cad, the creep. Looking back at his charm, his expensively coiffed hair, his caramel-voiced defense of the poor — while he built a palatial country estate. All this was a bit suspicious at the time. There were overtones of another Slick Willy.

But then there was Elizabeth Edwards. She was the moral anchoring point, the class act. So authentic, so warm, so unslick, so graceful, so brave. If a woman of such obvious depth and concern for the country, a woman who had lost a son and had faced cancer with openness and strength — sharing it all but not in a sympathy-begging way — if a woman like that loved a man like that, well then, he must be OK, too.

Paying the piper

By Tom Mockaitis

Well, it has finally happened. The crisis born of unilateralism, strategic overreach and bravado has come to pass. With U.S. forces tied down in two protracted wars, American credibility on the international stage at a record low and our dependence on foreign oil painfully obvious, a revitalized Russia is on the move. And the blow has fallen where most analysts expected it would: on America's closest ally in the Caucasus, the tiny Republic of Georgia.

Traumatized by its fall from superpower status at the end of the Cold War, the Kremlin has nursed a growing resentment at a series of humiliations and needlessly provocative moves by the Bush administration over the past eight years. NATO's war against Serbia revealed the limits of Russian power after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The confrontation at Pristina Airport between British Gen. Michael Jackson's Kosovo Force and Russian troops rushed in from Bosnia ended with President Boris Yeltsin backing down, largely because NATO hopefuls Bulgaria and Romania closed their airspace to Russian aircraft that might have flown in reinforcements. The episode should have served as a poignant warning that Moscow would not take another such embarrassment lying down. Conciliation, not confrontation, should have guided American foreign policy in Eastern Europe during the past decade.

Instead, Washington continued to poke the Russian bear with a stick. The first prod came with plans for a missile defense system of dubious value in Poland, supported by radar installations in Slovakia.

The Bush administration justified the deployment as part of its global war on terrorism, assuring a skeptical Vladimir Putin that the defense system aimed to protect the U.S. from attack by a rogue state such as Iran.

Putin didn't buy it. While the White House focused myopically on Al Qaeda and bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, Putin consolidated power in Russia, dealt with Chechnya, and bided his time.

I'm typing as fast as I can

Russia says Georgian move for South Ossetia was 'like 9/11'

Georgia's attempt to reclaim South Ossetia has been compared with 9/11 by Sergei Ivanov, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister.

"We just reacted because we didn't have any other option. Any civilised country would act same way. I may remind you - September 11th, the reaction was similar. American citizens were killed. You know the reaction," Mr Ivanov said.

International condemnation for the Russian response had taken Moscow by surprise, according to Mr Ivanov. "We didn't think that we annoyed anybody," he said.

Mr Ivanov also rubbished comments by David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary. Mr Miliband earlier accused Russia of engaging in "19th Century forms of diplomacy" in its "blatant aggression" towards Georgia. He said "the sight of Russian tanks rolling into parts of a sovereign country on its neighboring borders will have brought a chill down the spine of many people, rightly".

Mr Miliband's claim that Russia was keen restore the Soviet Union was "total rubbish - to use a proper English word," Mr Ivanov said.

Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, earlier taunted the US and Georgia over the crisis, describing the government of President Mikheil Saakashvili as a "special project" of the Bush administration rather than a proper state.


Obama without his script

Judging by his reaction to the Georgia-Russia crisis, Obama's make-believe presidency isn't ready for prime time
Jonah Goldberg
The Obama campaign has for months pursued the odd strategy of having the junior senator from Illinois act as if he were already kinda-sorta president of the United States. In June, it tried sticking a quasi-presidential seal on his lectern. Then in July, he conducted what seemed like official state visits with foreign leaders and delivered something like a "prenaugural" address in Berlin, inviting comparisons to JFK and Reagan.

It's an understandable ploy. More than most candidates, Barack Obama needs to appear like a plausible commander in chief because he's not only inexperienced (during the last Summer Olympics he was still an Illinois state legislator), he's novel. The name, the skin color, the cosmopolitan upbringing: Fair or not, all of these things give Obama the aura of otherness that is both part of his charm and a potential handicap.

If the would-be president can seem plausibly presidential, voting for him might not seem like such a crapshoot. It all makes sense, even if it fosters an air of presumptuousness.

(David Letterman recently offered a list of the top 10 signs Obama is overconfident. Among them: "Asked guy at Staples, 'Which chair will work best in an oval-shaped office?' "; "Having head measured for Mt. Rushmore;" and "Offered McCain a job in gift shop at the Obama Presidential Library.")

Now fate has given Obama a chance to be presidential rather than pretend. Taking advantage of the Olympic distraction in Beijing, the Russians invaded South Ossetia, a territory on the north side of Georgia, a democratic U.S. ally. Out of the blocks, the Russians bombed civilians, rolled tanks across an internationally recognized border and threatened to launch an all-out, destabilizing war. Now it looks as if their army has cut Georgia in two.

Moreover, Russian bombs reportedly targeted the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which runs through Georgia on its way to the Mediterranean -- the only oil pipeline in Central Asia not under Russian control. Russia is tightening its chokehold on oil and gas at precisely the moment energy costs have become the paramount domestic issue in the U.S. presidential campaign.

Obama's response?

First, late Thursday evening, he gave a conventional written statement calling for calm, U.N. action and "restraint" from both sides -- followed an hour later by a slightly stronger condemnation of Russian aggression and a call for a cease-fire.

The invasion of Georgia elicited a wan written communique instead of the sort of exciting rhetoric we've come to expect from his make-believe presidency. But he did make it in front of the cameras the next day for a rally celebrating his vacation in Hawaii. He promised "to go body surfing at some undisclosed location.",0,6742318.column

What, me worry?