Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hillary's First (?) and Silly Attack on Obama

The first Hillary Clinton attack on Barack Obama? Today Obama fundraiser and Hollywood mogul David Geffen had some choice words (in Maureen Dowd's column) regarding Clinton:

Hillary is not David Geffen's dreamgirl.

"Whoever is the nominee is going to win, so the stakes are very high," says Mr. Geffen, the Hollywood mogul and sultan of "Dreamgirls," as he sits by a crackling fire beneath a Jasper Johns flag and a matched pair of de Koonings in the house that Jack Warner built (which old-time Hollywood stars joked was the house that God would have built). "Not since the Vietnam War has there been this level of disappointment in the behavior of America throughout the world, and I don't think that another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is--and God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton?--can bring the country together.

"Obama is inspirational, and he's not from the Bush royal family or the Clinton royal family. Americans are dying every day in Iraq. And I'm tired of hearing James Carville on television."

That got Clinton's chief flack Howard Wolfson to issue immediately the following statement of outrage:

By refusing to disavow the personal attacks from his biggest fundraiser against Senator Clinton and President Clinton, Senator Obama has called into serious question whether he really believes his own rhetoric. How can Senator Obama denounce the politics of slash & burn yesterday while his own campaign is espousing the politics of trash today?

When one of Senator Clinton's supporters made an inappropriate statement, her campaign disavowed it immediately and the supporter apologized for his words. Why won't Senator Obama do the same?"

Apologize for Geffen speaking his mind? Obama spokesman spokesperson Robert Gibbs replied:

We aren't going to get in the middle of a disagreement between the Clintons and someone who was once one of their biggest supporters. It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom. It is also ironic that Senator Clinton lavished praise on Monday and is fully willing to accept today the support of South Carolina State Sen. Robert Ford, who said if Barack Obama were to win the nomination, he would drag down the rest of the Democratic Party because "he's black."

Talk about the smallness of politics. In this duel, Clinton wins--if points are awarded on a don't-bother-us-with-such-silliness basis. With Hillary Clinton's camp already so touchy and so willing to escalate, the face-off between the new kid and the old gal may get damn nasty, damn fast.

Posted by David Corn at February 21, 2007 12:33 PM


David B. Benson said...

David Corn --- "A pox on both their houses."

Hajji said...


Bad juju for DG to be dissin' ANYBODY at this point.

Oh, well, I hear that there's NO such thing as BAD publicity!


capt said...

"We have stricken the shackles from 4,000,000 human beings and brought all labourers to a common level, but not so much by the elevation of former slaves as by reducing the whole working population, white and black, to a condition of serfdom. While boasting of our noble deeds, we are careful to conceal the ugly fact that by our iniquitous money system we have manipulated a system of oppression which, though more refined, is no less cruel than the old system of chattel slavery.": Horace Greeley - (1811-1872) Editor of the New York Tribune, ran against Ulysses Grant for presidency

The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread to the law courts. And then to the army, and finally the Republic was subjected to the rule of emperors: Plutarch - Historian of the Roman Republic

During the last few years, politics has worked perversely: taxes on the wealthy have been cut, and so have programs directed at the poor. The reason isn't difficult to explain. Many Americans-- especially those who have been losing ground have given up on politics. As their incomes have shrunk, they've lost confidence that the "system" will work in their interest. That cynicism has generated a self-fulfilling prophesy. Politicians stop paying attention to people who don't vote, who don't work the phone banks or walk the precincts, who have opted out. And the political inattention seems to justify the cynicism. Meanwhile, the top tier has experienced precisely the opposite--a virtuous cycle in which campaign contributions have attracted the rapt attention of politicians, the attention has elicited even more money, which in turn has given the top tier even greater influence.: Robert Reich - Former Secretary of Labor



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capt said...

Bush pounded by livid Press for not supporting Troops

The Army, over which the president is Commander-In-Chief, is not treating wounded soldiers well. All the president's spokesman can do is spout pathetic platitudes about "action items" and self-righteous bullshit about "fixing the problem" while passing the buck to the Department of Defense.

If the president is such a weakling that he can't (or won't) "light a fire" under his own DoD in defense of American troops he simply doesn't deserve to, as Snow says, look into the eyes of the families and soldiers.

That's one of the sickest parts of this display of cowardice and bottom-feeder morality. Snow waxes moronic about the president's unimpeachable and "emotional" commitment to the troops, telling everyone that his commitment "cannot" be questioned, even as he says that you're barking up the wrong tree if you're asking the president to do something.

I honestly don't know how these people get out of bed. I honestly don't.


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This deserves a six syllable PA-HU-HA-HU-THET-IC.

Maybe the CIC (coward in Crawford) is not in control of the DOD?


capt said...

The IRAQ Effect

Has the war in Iraq increased jihadist terrorism? The Bush administration has offered two responses: First, the moths-to-aflame argument, which says that Iraq draws terrorists who would otherwise "be plotting and killing Americans across the world and within our own borders," as President Bush put it in 2005. Second, the hard-to-say position: "Are more terrorists being created in the world?" then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asked at a press conference in September 2006. "We don’t know. The world doesn’t know. There are not good metrics to determine how many people are being trained in a radical madrasa school in some country."

In fact, as Rumsfeld knew well, there are plenty of publicly available figures on the incidence and gravity of jihadist attacks. But until now, no one has done a serious statistical analysis of whether an "Iraq effect" does exist. We have undertaken such a study, drawing on data in the mipt-rand Terrorism database (terrorismknowledgebase .org), widely considered the best unclassified database on terrorism incidents.

Our study yields one resounding finding: The rate of fatal terrorist attacks around the world by jihadist groups, and the number of people killed in those attacks, increased dramatically after the invasion of Iraq. Globally there was a 607 percent rise in the average yearly incidence of attacks (28.3 attacks per year before and 199.8 after) and a 237 percent rise in the fatality rate (from 501 to 1,689 deaths per year). A large part of this rise occurred in Iraq, the scene of almost half the global total of jihadist terrorist attacks. But even excluding Iraq and Afghanistan—the other current jihadist hot spot—there has been a 35 percent rise in the number of attacks, with a 12 percent rise in fatalities.


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"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
~ Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955), (attributed)


capt said...

The Nevada Democratic Party response to the FOX Debate

I just don't understand why the Dems would go on a network that is an arm of the GOP. Can any of you explain it to me? Here's their response. is organizing to try and stop the debate from being aired on FOX. Here's an example of how FOX did last time.

For an example of how disrespectful and counterproductive such Fox News-sponsored Democratic debates are, consider the September 9, 2003 Democratic debate in Baltimore, Maryland, hosted by Fox News in partnership with the Congressional Black Caucus. Fox News graphics, as well as a banner over the stage, titled the event as the "Democrat Candidate Presidential Debate," a misconstruction of "Democrat" used as an an epithet Fox News then summarized the debate with a story titled, "Democratic Candidates Offer Grim View of America," continuing with such jabs as, "The depiction of the president as the root of all evil began at the top of Tuesday night's debate…." Controversial questions included the accusation that Howard Dean had a racist gun policy by Fox News analyst Juan Williams. There were also multiple interruptions by protesters throughout the debate, leading to four arrests.

I ask again. Why is FOX getting permission to host this debate? Maybe Joe Klein can explain it for me?


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As long as the media is dominated by large corporate influence the $$$ will buy lies, obfuscation's and mischaracterization of both people and politics.


Anonymous said...

David Corn, if I thought you actually ever saw these comments, I'd choose some choice words to tell you what I think. But, because you don't read these comments, I'll just say this....

For cripesakes! You sound like you write for People Magazine (or National Enquirer?) or some damn thing. You are lowering the level.

capt said...

Jury begins deliberations in Libby trial

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- The jury in the CIA leak case against former White House official I. Lewis Libby ended its first day of deliberation in Washington without reaching a verdict.

The jury began deliberating Wednesday after receiving instructions from U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton. Libby, former chief of staff to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, is charged with five felony counts of perjury and obstruction of justice, in connection with the leak of a CIA agent's identity in 2003.

Libby, 56, has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him, including that he lied to a federal grand jury and the FBI about his knowledge of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Walton instructed jurors to weigh the possible validity of Libby's claim that his memory was faulty when he testified before a federal grand jury. Prosecutors presented several witnesses at Libby's trial who contradicted his version of how Plame's name was leaked to the media.

Prosecutors told jurors Libby lied to investigators to keep his job and protect the White House from political embarrassment, the Washington Post reported.

Libby could face up to three years in prison if convicted.


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The UPI take. Pretty sad.


capt said...

Dissecting Maureen Dowd's Obama hit piece

As a campaigner, Sen. Barack Obama is angry and overwhelmed.

That was the unflattering takeaway from Maureen Dowd's catty column (subscription required) last week about the Illinois senator's foray onto the presidential campaign trail, as Dowd traipsed out to the heartland to watch the Democratic sensation up close. But as is her custom, Dowd fixated on personality and stagecraft, not substance, as the poison-penned, Wednesday/Saturday columnist for The New York Times painted a relentlessly unflattering portrait of the senator.

In the eyes of Dowd, Obama was out of his element on the national stage: "testy," "irritated," and "conflicted."

Dowd's attack, hyped on the Drudge Report the night before the column was published and widely seen as the first real Obama hit piece of the season by a major pundit, deserves attention not because of the (largely nonexistent) insight Dowd shed on Obama's emerging candidacy, but because Dowd included several of her now-trademark -- and highly dubious -- attacks; attacks that in the past have been embraced by the mainstream press and tripped up Democrats such as Hillary Rodham Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry.

The truth is, almost nothing about the Obama column rang true. In part, because Dowd provided virtually no evidence to back up her contentious claims that Obama was "testy," "irritated," and "conflicted" while campaigning in Iowa.


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"Catty Column"

I don't think Eric is being very gender neutral.

A very good piece, just the same.


capt said...

Judges: Detainees can’t use courts to seek relief


In a victory for Bush, a divided federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled against the Guantanamo Bay detainees.

The 2-1 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit dismisses hundreds of cases filed by foreign-born detainees in federal court and also threatens to strip away court access to millions of lawful permanent residents currently in the United States.

It upholds a key provision of the Military Commissions Act, which Bush pushed through Congress last year to set up a Defense Department system to prosecute terrorism suspects. Detainees now must prove to three-officer military panels that they don’t pose a terrorist threat.

Democrats newly in charge of Congress promised legislation aimed at giving detainees legal rights. Attorneys for detainees said they would appeal.

"The bottom line is that according to two of the federal judges, the president can do whatever he wants without any legal limitations, as long as he does it offshore," Kadidal said.

The two judges voting with the White House – Judge A. Raymond Randolph and Judge David B. Sentelle – were appointed by Republicans. Reagan appointed Sentelle, and the first President Bush appointed Randolph. The dissenter, Judge Judith W. Rogers, was appointed by Clinton.

White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino called the decision "a significant win" for the administration.

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Guantanamo - American Gulag.


capt said...

Saudi court orders bodies strung up

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A Saudi court ordered the bodies of four Sri Lankans to be displayed in a public square after being beheaded for armed robbery, according to a government statement.

But it was unclear if such an exhibition took place and the Sri Lanka's foreign ministry said on Wednesday it was trying to determine if the display had occurred.

Saudi officials would not confirm that the body display had happened but did confirm the four were executed on Monday. They also confirmed the court order issued in the case had called for the men's bodies to be displayed after the execution.

Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam under which people convicted of murder, drug trafficking, rape and armed robbery are executed in public with a sword.

The beheaded bodies are only displayed when there is a specific court order in cases considered particularly offensive, such as armed robbery.

The four men were convicted of "forming a criminal gang which robbed a number of companies and threatened accountants and workers with weapons, shooting one of them and stealing his car," the official Saudi Press Agency had reported on Monday, citing an Interior Ministry statement.

The Sri Lankan government said in a media release it had appealed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia for clemency twice.

A report by Amnesty International said that besides the execution of the four Sri Lankans, six foreigners have been executed this year. They include three Pakistanis, two Iraqis and one Nigerian. Seven Saudi Arabians, including one woman, have also been executed. In 2006, 86 men and two women were executed, half of them foreign nationals, the report said.


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The Saudis are our friends? We do rank up there with them as one of the very few countries that kill people institutionally. This is what Bunnypants really has us fighting for.

We should fund his fiasco with a good finger-wagging and a pass on impeachment? Sure - the current course of action has worked out so well, well not for those killed, bombed or driven from their homes.


O'Reilly said...

On Cheney's Role

Josh Gerstein of the New York Sun, who was sitting right next to me in court yesterday, was possibly the only print reporter to lead with the big news: "The special prosecutor in the CIA leak case, Patrick Fitzgerald, is suggesting in his strongest terms yet that Vice President Cheney was involved in an effort to unmask a CIA operative married to an administration critic.

"Mr. Fitzgerald's explosive comments came as he delivered closing arguments yesterday in the monthlong obstruction-of-justice and perjury trial of Mr. Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr."

In fact, Gerstein astutely spotted an even wider critique of the White House than I did: "Broadening his attack on the White House, Mr. Fitzgerald took a shot at President Bush, indirectly criticizing him for not firing officials implicated in the leaks about the CIA officer, Valerie Plame. The prosecutor noted that in 2003 the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, said Mr. Bush would immediately dismiss anyone involved in leaking Ms. Plame's identity.

"'Any sane person would think, based on what McClellan said in October 2003, that any person involved in this would be fired,' Mr. Fitzgerald said.

"The prosecutor's clear implication was that Mr. Bush failed to keep his word. Mr. Bush's top political aide, Karl Rove, is still working at the White House despite having served as a source for two press accounts about Ms. Plame."

O'Reilly said...

With the close of the Libby trial, I'd like to step back and start trying to define what the important, overarching narratives to emerge from the case actually are:

1. The administration lied us into war and tried to abuse its power to punish the whistleblower who told the American public the truth.

2. Scooter is the firewall to Shooter.

3. Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby and other members of the administration conspired to keep federal investigators from uncovering their crimes.

4. The media was complicit in spreading administration propaganda rather than doing investigative journalism, and are now helping to set the table for a pardon.

5. The journalistic standards that have been exposed in the case (witness Tim Russert, Judy Miller, Andrea Mitchell, Robert Novak and others) are reprehensible, and have undermined the public trust in the media.

6. The degree to which this story about the lies that lead to war has been ignored by the media (relative to the feeding frenzy over a Clinton blowjob) left a huge opening that the blogs have filled.


Gerald said...

Al Gore at this point in time is the only person I would vote for in 2008 if we even have an election which I doubt.

Gerald said...

Cheney gives vets crap

Robert S said...

Fitzgerald: "There Is a Cloud Over the Vice President"
By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Report

Wednesday 21 February 2007

For the first time since the investigation into the leak of a covert CIA operative began more than three years ago, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has suggested that Vice President Dick Cheney was behind the effort to unmask the officer, the wife of a vocal critic of the administration's Iraq policy.

During closing arguments Tuesday in the obstruction of justice and perjury trial of former vice presidential staffer, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Fitzgerald told jurors that "there is a cloud over the vice president. ... a cloud over the White House over what happened," according to a copy of the transcript of Fitzgerald's statements.

"We didn't put that cloud there," Fitzgerald said. "That cloud's there because the defendant obstructed justice. That cloud is something you just can't pretend isn't there."

Moreover, Fitzgerald told jurors that Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff, discussed aspects of the investigation with the vice president only when he was told by investigators not to talk about the probe, according to the transcript. Libby is "not supposed to be talking to other people," Fitzgerald said. But "the only person [Libby] told is the vice president. Think about that."

The suggestion by Fitzgerald that Cheney was complicit in the unmasking of Valerie Plame Wilson's undercover CIA status led to immediate speculation by pundits that the special prosecutor is widening his probe and may have Cheney in his crosshairs.

A year ago, truthout published a series of investigative reports that stated Fitzgerald was digging deeper into the role Cheney played in the leak itself. Those reports were largely ignored and in some cases dismissed by other media organizations.

Fitzgerald also excoriated President Bush for failing to uphold a promise to fire anyone in his administration that was found to have been involved in the Plame leak. Fitzgerald reminded the jury that in October 2003, former White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters of the president's intentions during a morning news briefing at the White House.

"Any sane person would think, based on what McClellan said in October 2003, that anyone involved in this would be fired," Fitzgerald said, referring to the leak, according to the transcript of the prosecutor's remarks.

The charges leveled against Libby stem from how and when he discovered the CIA-employed Plame and whether he shared the information with reporters. Libby told FBI investigators that NBC News reporter Tim Russert disclosed Plame's identity to him in July, 2003, but evidence presented at the trial shows Libby was told about Plame by Cheney nearly a month earlier and [Libby] divulged the information to several journalists on numerous occasions thereafter.

Libby's attorney, Theodore Wells, told jurors Tuesday that Libby innocently forgot about the conversation his client had with Cheney because he had been dealing with more pressing issues, such as the war in Iraq and national security. Wells added that Russert did not have any notes to back up his assertion that he did not tell Libby about Plame, and told jurors it boiled down to Libby's word against Russert's.

But Fitzgerald rejected Wells' argument saying Libby discussed Plame with reporters on a Monday and then claims to have forgotten the information and learned about her for the first time on a Thursday.

"This is not 'he said, she said,'" Fitzgerald said. "He [Libby] made up a story and he stuck to it. If Tim Russert were run over by a bus and had gone to the great news desk in the sky, you can still find plenty of evidence that the defendant lied."

Peter Zeidenberg, the deputy special prosecutor, told jurors earlier in the day Tuesday that Libby had "nine conversations about [Valerie Plame]. He remembers none of them. The one conversation he says he has, with Tim Russert, is a conversation we now know never happened."

Libby "lied to the FBI and the grand jury about how he learned about [former ambassador] Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie [Plame] Wilson, who he talked to about Mr. Wilson's wife and what he said when he discussed Mr. Wilson's wife with others," Zeidenberg added, according to the court transcript.

Wilson had traveled to Niger in February, 2002, to investigate claims that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium to build an atomic bomb. He reported back to the CIA that the allegations were baseless, but the claims were cited as fact in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address. Wilson spent months criticizing the White House's use of the Niger claims in background interviews with reporters before publishing an opinion column in the New York Times on July 6, 2003, saying he was the special envoy who was sent to Niger to check out the intelligence. He asserted that the administration knowingly misled the public and Congress into war.

Fitzgerald said Libby and Cheney were incensed at Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who publicly accused the Bush administration of manipulating intelligence to win support for a US led invasion against Iraq. Fitzgerald said Cheney was "obsessed" with Wilson and had taken the former ambassador's attacks against the administration personally. "Cheney," Fitzgerald told jurors, "enlisted Libby to act as his surrogate and personally respond to reporters' queries about the veracity of Wilson's allegations by authorizing his chief of staff to leak classified information to journalists. The classified information that was leaked may have included Plame's covert status," Fitzgerald said, "in retaliation for her husband's stinging rebukes of the administration's Iraq policies."

Cheney had suspected that Plame set up her husband's trip to Niger, Fitzgerald said, and the prosecutor told jurors that in July 2003, "the number one question on the vice president's mind" had been to find out who was responsible for sending Wilson to Niger."


If we stop and consider the Federal Judiciary as a whole, and examine the context within which these events are occuring, what observations can we make, and what can we glean from them?

1) The context of Federal Judges being elevated from within the Federalist Society, and the institutionalisation of Conservatism in our Judiciary. This has been mainly, but not only, foisted by the abortion and gay marraige issues, but will have consequences in far ranging issues.

2) The firing of Federal Prosecutors and replacement for Political reasons and Cronyism. This would include the Prosecutor who successfully tried and convicted the Duke of Cunningham.

3) The claim and recent Decision of the D.C. Circut that Gitmo Detainees have no recourse to the Federal Courts.

4) Now, pointing to a "cloud over the White House," are we seeing a challenge to the legitamacy of this administration to continue the attack on the power of the Judiciary? Or the attack on the non-partisan nature (real or imagined) of the Dept. of Justice?

Robert S said...

Saladin said...

Two Israel first dems duking it out? Is that going to be the choice? Why am I not surprised?

Anonymous said...

This media manufactured Obama/Clinton feud is disgusting. I sure wish the media would stick to matters of importance. Rather than drumming up headlines in an attempt to generate a Democratic brou-ha-ha, they should be reporting on more immediate issues -- like the fiasco in Iraq, the stand-off on Iran, etc.

Besides, who the hell gives a damn WHAT David Geffen says? Like who cares.

Robert S said...

Like who cares? - Micki

Since $$$$ = Speech, the media conglomerates, to whom the election cycle is come to be a perpetual Christmas, and are the principle beneficiaries of the Political Spending Orgies which constitute American Elections.

Robert S said...

Hardware King Bush Hits Iran for Peddling Arms
By Sherwood Ross
t r u t h o u t | Guest Contributor Thursday 22 February 2007

Even if he's not lying this time, President Bush's outrage over Iran's Quds Force supplying armor-piercing weapons to Iraq's "insurgents" rings hollow coming from the world's Number One Merchant of Death.

If it's an act of war for the Iranians to help the Iraqis against us, why is it not an act of war for Bush to peddle arms to every Tom, Dictator, and Harry to slaughter their enemies? After all, Bush is selling record numbers of attack helicopters, guided missiles, warplanes and small arms to firebrands and crackpots everywhere.

In 2005, the US peddled nearly half of all weapons sold to militaries in the developing world, "as major arms sales to the most unstable regions - many already engaged in conflict - grew to the highest level in eight years," the Boston Globe reported last November 13th. The US sold $8.1 billion worth of weapons - 46 percent of all - with Russia a poor second at 15 percent, and UK at 13 percent.


capt said...

Tomgram: Fraser, Did the Political World Change in November?

All media eyes have turned toward the presidential election of 2008. Like the headlights of an onrushing train, it mesmerizes. Every news bulletin about the latest bloodbath in Iraq, each ominous forewarning of a face-off with Iran, the endless dirge of abandonment and despair issuing from New Orleans, the daily register of those cut loose from any semblance of a social safety net, public or private, each new official confirmation that the Earth is reaching a boiling point compels us to anticipate the 2008 election with fear and trembling, and with the greatest expectations. Something momentous might happen then. Haven't we already seen the first signs of that in the extraordinary electoral outcome of November 2006?

All elections are, in some sense, turning points. They register, however murkily, shifts in popular sentiment. But this recent off-year election has excited more than the normal number of pregnant speculations and, of course, put one question in particular in boldface type: Did it signal the end -- or at least the beginning of the end -- of the conservative counter-revolution that first gained traction with Ronald Reagan's presidential victory in 1980?

A turning-point election is something special indeed. Everything about the country's political chemistry changes as its geopolitical make-up is reshuffled, as cities, towns, and whole regions start voting in a new way. Suddenly, the normal fault lines in political demography no longer apply as ethnic, racial, gender, and socio-economic groups simply stop voting the way everyone expects them to.

Turning-point elections can inaugurate new distributions of wealth and power. Social classes and elites accustomed to rule find themselves struggling to hold on to, or compelled to share power, they once felt entitled to wield unilaterally. The whole political economy becomes subject to serious reordering. With so much at stake, such elections can ultimately be the occasions for revolutions in the country's moral tone, its basic cultural and ideological orientation.


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I think the wealthy and elite will stay busy redistributing the wealth among themselves no matter what happens during or after any election.

But what do I know?


capt said...

New thread

Robert S said...

Maybe We Deserve to Be Ripped Off By Bush's Billionaires
by Matt Taibbi | Feb 21 2007 - 9:46am

"Now, after she shaved her head in a bizarre episode that culminates a months-long saga of controversial behavior, it's the question being asked by her fans, her foes and the general public: What was she thinking?"-- Bald and Broken: Inside Britney's Shaved Head, Sheila Marikar,, Feb. 19

What was she thinking? How about nothing? How about who gives a shit? How's that for an answer, Sheila Marikar of ABC news, you pinhead?

I'm not one of those curmudgeons who freaks out every time that Bradgelina moves the war off the front page of the Post, or Katie Couric decides to usher in a whole new era of network news with photos of the imbecile demon-spawn of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. I understand that we live in a demand-based economy and that there is far more demand for brainless celebrity bullshit than there is, say, for the fine print of the Health and Human Services budget.

But that was before this week. I awoke this morning in New York City to find Britney Spears plastered all over the cover of two gigantic daily newspapers, simply because she cut her hair off over the weekend. To me, this crosses a line. My definition of a news story involves something happening. If nothing happens, then you can't have "news," because nothing has changed since the day before. Britney Spears was an idiot last Thursday, an idiot on Friday, and an idiot on both Saturday and Sunday. She was, shockingly, also an idiot on Monday. It will be news when she stops being an idiot, and we'll know when that happens, because she'll have shot herself for the good of the planet. Britney Spears cutting her hair off is the least-worthy front page news story in the history of humanity.

Apparently, from now on, every time a jackass sticks a pencil in his own eye, we'll have to wait an extra ten minutes to hear what happened on the battlefield or in Congress or any other place that actually matters.

On the same day that Britney was shaving her head, a guy I know who works in the office of Senator Bernie Sanders sent me an email. He was trying very hard to get news organizations interested in some research his office had done about George Bush's proposed 2008 budget, which was unveiled two weeks ago and received relatively little press, mainly because of the controversy over the Iraq war resolution. All the same, the Bush budget is an amazing document. It would be hard to imagine a document that more clearly articulates the priorities of our current political elite.

Not only does it make many of Bush's tax cuts permanent, but it envisions a complete repeal of the Estate Tax, which mainly affects only those who are in the top two-tenths of the top one percent of the richest people in this country. The proposed savings from the cuts over the next decade are about $442 billion, or just slightly less than the amount of the annual defense budget (minus Iraq war expenses). But what's interesting about these cuts are how Bush plans to pay for them.

Sanders's office came up with some interesting numbers here. If the Estate Tax were to be repealed completely, the estimated savings to just one family -- the Walton family, the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune -- would be about $32.7 billion dollars over the next ten years.

The proposed reductions to Medicaid over the same time frame? $28 billion.