I've been hearing regularly, both from TV pundits and in general conversation, that it would be premature to declare Sen. Hillary Clinton the nominee, because Howard Dean was way out in front this time in 2003, and "anything can happen" between now and when votes are actually cast.
All technically true, but there are big differences between the Clinton '08 and Dean '04 campaigns.
Dean was a relatively unknown, outsider candidate who hadn't been tested on the national stage. He was more vulnerable to attacks and more prone to make mistakes.
Clinton is quite well-known, well-tested and thoroughly vetted.
It is highly unlikely there will a surprise scandal. Because people are familiar with her, little things (Norman Hsu, Hillary's laugh) are harder to blow up into big things. She doesn't make many mistakes, and when she does, she recovers quickly.
She is addressing the main concern most Dem voters had with her: the fear that she can't win. She polls well against GOP possibilities, often better than other Dems. Any argument that she can't win is merely theoretical.
I don't chronicle the above evidence in Clinton's favor to cheerlead, especially since my recent Clinton posts have been quite critical of her.
I do so to emphasize that anyone who is less than enthusiastic about her potential nomination should not dupe themselves into thinking that just because "anything can happen" means it is likely something will.
Someone is going to have to make something happen.
Last month I posed the question "Has Hillary Peaked?" because of the attention being paid to her opening the door to leaving troops in Iraq by 2013 and beyond. The short-term answer is clearly "No," in large part because Obama and Edwards adopted the same position, failing to take advantage of the biggest opening she gave them.
(Edwards is trying to carve out a different point of contrast, stressing he would only leave a few thousand troops for limited non-combat missions, but it's a nuanced point that has been muddled by the refusal to take the 2013 pledge.)
But it is harder to take on three people at once than isolate a single candidate.
There are not a lot of issues that present a major contrast and are significant enough to make a voter question why Clinton shouldn't be the frontrunner.
If it's not going to be Iraq, it's hard to see what other openings exist.
Finding them is the challenge for Clinton's rivals, and anyone else who believes she would not be a best champion for liberal principles and policies at home and abroad.
h/t Threading Water, who was quoted in this MSN article regarding the controversy over pink ribbon campaigns. The focus this year for “Think Before You Pink” is to target companies who market products that are linked to or have carcinogens in them, but slap a pink ribbon on that very same product. [...]
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In the last chapter of Wait! Don't Move To Canada!, I stressed the importance of funding organizations that focus on strengthening the overarching liberal movement and message -- and not just organizations that deal with a narrow set of issues. Without that, the "single-issue" groups have no wind at their back and can't shape public discourse.
I had cited the research of the Commonweal Institute to make that point, and I was honored after the book's release to be named a fellow of the institute.
So I was pleased to see the new executive director of Commonweal, Barry Kendall, profiled in the Chronicle of Philanthropy recently. Hopefully, that will send the message to large-dollar donors that investment in movement infrastructure remains a critical priority.
The feature includes an insightful interview of Kendall and his vision for the movement. Also of note: my fellow CI fellow, Mary Ratcliff, shared her thoughts on Kendall over at the Left Coaster.
Well, okay, here's a riddle. What do Larry Craig and Ted Haggard have in common? No, no, not that they're both closeted hypocrites who preach one thing and do another, although you're close. No, not that they both have utterly miserable, long-suffering[...]
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October Project ("Bury My Lovely," something gothic and appropriate for a turn in the weather for these parts that should arrive shortly)...
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...and happy belated birthday to singer/songwriter Don McLean, which I couldn't note last week because of the technical issues ("If We Try," from the "American Pie" heyday; this was always a sentimental favorite - I have no clue as to what is going on with this slide show, but it's still nice just to hear the song).
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The Democrats will introduce their FISA wiretap bill tomorrow.
The Justice Department would have to reveal to Congress the details of all electronic surveillance conducted without court orders since Sept. 11, 2001, including the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program, if a new Democratic wiretapping bill is approved.
The draft bill, scheduled to be introduced to Congress Tuesday, would also require the Justice Department to maintain a database of all Americans subjected to government eavesdropping without a court order, including whether their names have been revealed to other government agencies.
This is the rewrite bill Dems promised before the August recess:
The bill would replace the Protect America Act of 2007, the controversial FISA revision adopted by Congress in August. That bill was hastily adopted under pressure from the Bush administration, which said changes in technology had resulted in dire gaps in its authority to eavesdrop on terrorists.
One feature the Republicans want in the bill is not there:
it does not grant retroactive legal immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated with government surveillance between 2001 and 2007 without the court orders.
The bill has a very cumbersome name:
The "Responsible Electronic Surveillance That is Overseen, Reviewed and Effective Act of 2007" or RESTORE Act.
Parts I'm not so crazy about:
[It] would clarify that no court orders are required for the government to conduct surveillance on communications outside the United States even when the surveillance is conducted on U.S. soil, provided the target of the eavesdropping is not known to be a U.S. person.
The bill allows the attorney general and the director of national intelligence to request an "umbrella warrant" to conduct surveillance of foreign targets, or groups of targets, for up to one year when there is a possibility that American communications may be intercepted.
Marcy at Next Hurrah adds her thoughts.
This has been another edition of what Digby said.
When I was working at Warner Bros. I met plenty of artists whose lives were a constant and all-consuming series of dramas. And, believe me, sometimes that drama was really dysfunctional. By the time I became president of Reprise, Eric Clapton’s career and outward personal life were on an even keel and just about the [...]
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"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
"The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan."
-- Adolf Hitler in "Mein Kampf"
It's ever so politically incorrect to compare anyone at all to the Nazis, even when the similarity is obvious, but maybe Andrew Sullivan can get away with it. He is a conservative, after all, if not a neoconservative. As Glenn Greenwald has explained, if right-wingers do it, it's all good.
In a column entitled "Bush's torturers follow where the Nazis led," Sullivan catalogs his unfolding horror as he learned that the Bush Administration did, indeed, authorize torture. Hurts to learn that you've been a good German and enabled atrocities, doesn't it.
I remember that my first response to the reports of abuse and torture at Guantanamo Bay was to accuse the accusers of exaggeration or deliberate deception. I didn't believe America would ever do those things. I'd also supported George W Bush in 2000, believed it necessary to give the president the benefit of the doubt in wartime, and knew Donald Rumsfeld as a friend.
. . .
They redefined torture solely as something that would be equivalent to the loss of major organs or leading to imminent death. Everything else was what was first called "coercive interrogation", subsequently amended to "enhanced interrogation". These terms were deployed in order for the president to be able to say that he didn't support "torture". We were through the looking glass.
. . .
So is "enhanced interrogation" torture? One way to answer this question is to examine history. The phrase has a lineage. Versch?rfte Verneh-mung, enhanced or intensified interrogation, was the exact term innovated by the Gestapo to describe what became known as the "third degree". It left no marks. It included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep deprivation.
. . .
The Nazis even argued that "the acts of torture in no case resulted in death. Most of the injuries inflicted were slight and did not result in permanent disablement". This argument is almost verbatim that made by John Yoo, the Bush administration's house lawyer, who now sits comfortably at the Washington think tank, the American Enterprise Institute.
"It's better to be strong and wrong than weak and right."
-- Bill Clinton
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So who knew it was a prerequisite to wear the flag in order to be the President?
Honestly, raise your hand if your wearing your standard issue American Flag pin right now? Anybody? I didn't think so. It's no wonder we can't get a decent update on the Megan Williams case (Have you seen anything about it on your major news network lately? Me either.)in this sensationalized media. How could they, after spending so much energy equating Obama's patriotism with his wardrobe choices!
But what is more pathetic is the fact that for many of the American voters - this is the kind of thing that matters most. It makes no difference that Obama has released a comprehensive energy plan this week, no, their going to go to the polls because he doesn't reverence the flag. I for one am not mad at him. I have a problem with my patriotism having to mirror my reverence for the flag as well. Especially after the "pimping" America did of it after 9-11. I had never seen so many flags in my life, as a matter of fact, people who I would have bet were flag burners had flags on their desks, pinned to their chests, etc. But a month later, the flags had been folded.
My issue is not the flag. There are other flags that I disdain. (Such as the Confederate flag, that is often raised in our southern states.) My issue is the hypocritical way the country in which the flag represents conducts its business. It's hard to express your love for something that most of the time doesn't love you back? I remember as a student being told to stand and salute the flag - when I got older I didn't. Why? Because I had questions. And that is what democracy is about. It is about being empowered and enlightened in order to help create a genuine democratic communion. That my friends requires individual expression, not cookie cutter following of a system. A democratic community is only strengthened when it's individual parts continually provide new attitudes and outlooks firmly founded on a commitment to socratic questioning and self-determination.
And isn't that what all the venom against Barack's not wearing the pin is about? One man's desire to express for himself the way he will be viewed. A refusal of one to accept the conventions of narrowly sighted pundits. Sadly, that's what is missing from this democratic "experiment" called America. In fact there is a fear of nonconformity. I suggest those impassioned pundits, so up in arms at Barack's individual decision remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson in that great essay "Self-Reliance":
"Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind."