© 2008 – 2024 John T. Burke, Jr.

The Tool” Picks Up Fear Flag and Gets Shot Down By A Real Soldier

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June 30, 2008

Last week, John McCain’s chief campaign strategist, Charlie Black, caused quite a stir with his invitation for an Al Qaeda attack on the United States, to help improve McCain’s chances for election.  Black was obviously thinking about Osama bin Laden’s last “October Surprise” in which bin Laden released a video right before the 2004 election.  That video was widely considered to have given Bush a crucial “bump”, putting him over the top to defeat John Kerry.  Knowing that Al Qaeda (and other terrorist groups) hate to see moderates get elected, Charlie Black saw fit to remind Al Qaeda that they would have no rallying call if Barack Obama were to become President and pull the U.S. troops out of Iraq.  Al Qaeda’s best chance for maintaining their status quo appears to Black as another terrorist attack in the U.S.  He knows they want McCain to win the election because they wanted Bush to win in 2004.  Four days before Election Day in 2004, bin Laden released an 18-minute videotape taunting George Bush about the events of September 11, 2001 and he claimed credit for directing the 19 hijackers.  Osama’s gambit in helping Bush win seems to have paid off.  The incompetent Bush will likely leave office without having caught bin Laden.

After Charlie Black tried his shot at a self-fulfilling prophecy last week, with his announcement (in an interview with Fortune magazine) that a terrorist attack in the United States would “be a big advantage” to help McCain get elected President, Black was widely scorned and criticized.  Many commentators placed this remark in context with Black’s earlier statement that the assassination of Benazir Bhutto helped McCain in the New Hampshire Primary.  Although McCain attempted to distance himself from Black’s remarks, he has kept Black onboard “The Straight Talk Express”.

Just as criticism of the McCain campaign, for relying on “the politics of fear”, is starting to die down, along comes our old friend, Joe “The Tool” Lieberman.  On June 29, The Tool appeared on the CBS television program, “Face The Nation”.  Looking into his crystal ball (perhaps that should be plural) The Tool predicted a terrorist attack against the United States in 2009.  Out of fear of getting caught at an attempted, self-fulfilling prophecy similar to Black’s, The Tool, speaking with his forked tongue, tried to distinguish his prediction from Black’s wish:

Certainly the implications there I know were not what Charlie intended. And he apologized for it. Senator McCain said he didn’t agree. And, of course, I feel the same way.

Actually, The Tool feels the same way as Charlie Black.  He continued on by picking up Black’s “fear flag” to carry it on to victory for McCain in November:

If we had done what Senator Obama asked us to do for the last couple of years, today Iran and al Qaeda would be in control of Iraq. It would be a terrible defeat for us and our allies in the Middle East and throughout the world. Instead, we’ve got a country that’s defending itself, that’s growing economically, where there’s been genuine political reconciliation, and where Iran and al Qaeda are on the run. And that’s the way it ought to be.

Iraq is “growing economically”?  It has yet to rebuild its infrastructure.  The Tool is obviously talking to those people referred to as “low information voters”.  He is insulting the intelligence of everyone else.  Iraq is “defending itself”?  Tell that to our troops who are stationed there.  If Iraq really is defending itself, then we should be able to leave.  Iran is “on the run”?  I thought they were getting ready to nuke Israel.  The Tool is now so used to telling lies that he can effortlessly spit out a sentence containing three big ones.

On the same program, we heard from someone who, unlike Lieberman, actually has some military experience.  Retired General Wesley Clark told host Bob Schieffer: “I think Joe has it exactly backwards here.”  After comparing the qualities of Obama to those of McCain, General Clark said:

And I think what we need to do, Bob, is we need to stop talking about the old politics of left and right, and we need to pull together and move the country forward.

Both Lieberman and McCain used to pride themselves on being centrists in a highly-partisan Senate.  Both are now singing the same, sorry tune we’ve been hearing from our unpopular President for the last seven years, at a time when we would expect a theme of hope and bipartisan progress.  With Obama singing solo on that theme, the prospects for any Republican candidate this year don’t appear much better than the outlook for the S&P 500.

Keep This On The Front Burner

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June 26, 2008

For the past few weeks, the Senate Commerce Committee has been hearing testimony about the impact of the so-called “Enron loophole” in the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, 7 U.S.C. §2(h)(3) and (g), which existed throughout Bill Clinton’s tenure in the Oval Office.  This “Enron loophole” is what has made it possible for speculators to drive the price of gasoline beyond $4 per gallon. Consider the Senate Commerce Committee testimony of Michael Greenberger, former Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Director of Trading and Markets.  Mr. Greenberger testified that if the “Enron loophole” were closed, we would see “overnight” a 25-percent drop in the price of crude oil and as much as a 50-percent drop in the price of gasoline.  The Senate Commerce Committee hearing featured testimony by hedge fund managers and other market experts, concerning how the skyrocketing price of gasoline, diesel and heating oil are “breaking the back” of the American economy.  Some of these experts (knowing that their testimony would be falling on the “deaf ears” of bought-off lawmakers and friends of the oil industry) were nearly at the point of tears in describing how the rest of American industry is getting killed for the benefit of the oil industry.  Let’s revisit Mr. Greenberger’s point once again:  if the “Enron loophole” were closed, we would see “overnight” a 25-percent drop in the price of crude oil and as much as a 50-percent drop in the price of gasoline.  “Overnight” may be an exaggeration, although I’m sure he means a lot quicker than waiting for unbuilt and unplanned oil wells to start having an effect on the price of a barrel of crude.  (This turnaround time is considered by most experts to be a 10-year period.)

Our old friend, the Former John McCain, whom we once knew, voted with the Democrats to close the “Enron loophole” in 2002 and 2003.  His comments in the February, 2002 issue of The New Yorker told us much about how we got to where we are now, six years after he gave that interview:

Enron made a sound investment in Washington.  It did them a lot of good.  Where they really do well is around the edges, the insertion of an amendment into an appropriate bill.

McCain is no longer so strident about the sleazy origins of this “Enron loophole”.  This is probably because the loophole owes its existence to Phil Graham and his wife, former CFTC Chair, Wendy of Enron.  Phil is now McCain’s “economic advisor”, so don’t hold your breath waiting for McCain to repeat what he said to The New Yorker in 2002.  He has yet to speak out against this loophole as his new self: McCain 2008.  Nevertheless, a very loud, “hard” right-wing voice, that of Bill O’Reilly, has spoken up on this issue.  A visit to the website: recites this quote from O’Reilly on his Factor show:

I want those SOBs [speculators] taken down…let’s work together to save the American consumer at the pump.

My favorite issues are those where “liberals” and “conservatives” can work together to solve the crucial problems faced by society.  It appears as though we have one right here.  If we address it, we may solve it “overnight” according to one expert.  If we do solve it, we will be helping more than the individual consumer.  We will probably save the entire roster of Russell 2000 “small-cap” companies from swirling down the toilet.  Most experts believe these companies are the hardest-hit by the uncontrolled cost of petroleum products.

For his part, Barack Obama has spoken on the record numerous times about his opposition to the “Enron loophole”.  This should come as no surprise since his fellow Senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin, is a key advocate for closing this loophole.  Obama supporter, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, has a bit of “street cred” on this subject, having served as the former chairman of the investment firm, Goldman Sachs.  Corzine is on the record for blaming this unregulated speculation for the outrageous pricing of petroleum products.

The American public has a notoriously short attention span.  It seems unbelievable that something this important, that erases “discretionary spending” and limits what food can be placed on one’s table, could be overshadowed by the latest celebrity scandal.  Americans must stay focused on this fundamental problem.  A visit to will give you the opportunity to send e-mails to your Senators, expressing your opinion on whether our government should perform one of its most important missions:  to save us all from sleazebags.

They’re At It Again

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June 23, 2008

The Democrats on the Hill are at it again, doing what they do best:  capitulating, sucking up, caving in, selling out and providing lame excuses for this conduct.  This latest round of misfeasance concerns the Congressional approval of what is being called the “FISA compromise bill”.  This bill is also known as the “wiretap bill” and the “telecom immunity bill”.  Last February, the Senate passed a version of this bill, giving the President broader, unchecked powers in ordering wiretaps on American citizens.  The current bill, intended to be a compromise, falls far short of the expectations of those concerned with protecting the right to privacy.  Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin summed up the widespread frustration over this bill with the following statement:

And under this bill, the government can still sweep up and keep the international communications of innocent Americans in the U.S. with no connection to suspected terrorists, with very few safeguards to protect against abuse of this power. Instead of cutting bad deals on both FISA and funding for the war in Iraq, Democrats should be standing up to the flawed and dangerous policies of this administration.

Throughout his campaign for the Presidency, Barack Obama has assured us that had he been a member of the United States Senate at the time, he would have voted to oppose the Joint Resolution for the Use of Military Force in Iraq.  That Resolution was passed because there were too many Democrats in Congress who believed a vote against the Resolution would make them appear weak on national security.  It is that same fear of appearing weak on national security that is driving Democrats to vote in favor of the current FISA bill.  Concern for appearing weak is itself a sign of weakness.  Obama’s support for this bill, out of concern for appearing weak on national security, gives us a more honest view of how he would have voted on the use of military force in Iraq.  His support for the FISA bill tells me that he would indeed have voted in favor of the Iraq Resolution.  Although Senator Obama has promised to remove the telecom immunity provisions from this bill, nobody believes this could be accomplished.  The telecom lobby has been driving this bill for the specific purpose of shielding that industry from lawsuits by American citizens, who became the subjects of illegal wiretaps.  Instead of promising to remove the telecom immunity provisions, Obama should be asserting this position on the bill:  “I am supporting this bill because, as President, I want to be able to tap the phones of my Republican opponents without court oversight.”  He might be able to scare some Republicans into voting against this bill.  That announcement might also give Hillary Clinton a strong reason to oppose it.

Obama’s stance on this bill is likely to do him more harm than good. has started an e-mail campaign for its members to contact Senator Obama and demand that he stick to his earlier promise that he would support the filibuster of any bill providing retroactive immunity for telecom companies that participated in Bush’s unauthorized wiretap program.  A more longstanding liberal organization, the American Civil Liberties Union, has also decried the impending passage of this bill:

More than two years after the President’s domestic spying was revealed in the pages of the New York Times, Congress’ fury and shock has dissipated to an obedient whimper. After scrambling for years to cover their tracks, the phone companies and the administration are almost there. This immunity provision will effectively destroy Americans’ chance to have their deserved day in court and will kill any possibility of learning the extent of the administration’s lawless actions. The House should be ashamed of itself. The fate of the Fourth Amendment is now in the Senate’s hands. We can only hope senators will show more courage than their colleagues in the House.

Will Obama alienate his “base” by supporting this bill?  He has promised his supporters “Change We Can Believe In”.  What kind of “change” is it when a Democratic Senator facilitates yet another controversial assault on the Bill of Rights by the Bush Administration, out of fear of appearing “weak” on national security?

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Women To Watch

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June 19, 2008

Most of the eulogies about Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign have focused on the theme that she was a “groundbreaker”, who proved that a woman could make it to the Senate and become a serious contender for the highest office in the land.  Meanwhile, there are a number of women presently in the Senate, who got there without having been married to a former President (whose surname could be relied upon for recognition purposes).  In fact, two of these women are presently working on closing the so-called “Enron loophole” in the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, 7 U.S.C. §2(h)(3) and (g), which existed throughout Bill Clinton’s tenure in the Oval Office.  This “Enron loophole” is what has made it possible for speculators to drive the price of gasoline beyond $4 per gallon.  Surely, the increased demand for oil by China and India has explained part of the soaring cost of gasoline here in the United States.  However all authorities on the subject agree that unchecked speculation in the American markets has greatly facilitated the skyrocketing increase in gas prices.  That speculation owes its existence to the so-called “Enron loophole”, which is once again coming under attack in the Senate.

There is abundant interest focused on whatever Hillary Clinton’s mission will be when she returns to the Senate after her month of R&R and what role she might play if Barack Obama is elected our next President.  I suggest that we turn our sights to the Senate right now, to witness what other women are doing there and find out for ourselves who the real “trailblazers” are.  We should also consider these pioneers when looking toward the day when a woman finally makes it to The White House.

Our first potential future candidate is Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, whose role on the Senate Commerce Committee has found her fighting against the “Enron loophole”.  Looking on we learn:

She received her bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in political science from Yale University in 1982, where she was a member of the Yale College Democrats and the Feminist Caucus.  …  Klobuchar served as an associate editor of the Law Review and received her J.D. in 1985 at the University of Chicago Law School.

Bam!  She has made the prerequisite pilgrimage to Iraq (March, 2007) and voiced her frustration with Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki upon her return.  She is a member of the following Senate Committees:  the Agriculture Committee, the Environment and Public Works Committee and the Commerce Committee.  She is also a member of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee.

Our second potential future candidate is Senator Maria Cantwell from the State of Washington.  She is also currently working to close the “Enron loophole”. Senator Cantwell received a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from Miami University of Ohio.  She has served in the Senate since January of 2001.  Although she supported the Joint Resolution for the Use of the Armed Forces in Iraq, she explained the qualifications for her support in an extensive press release the day before the vote on that Resolution.   She is a member of the following Senate Committees:  Finance, Indian Affairs, Finance and Entrepreneurship, Energy and Natural Resources, as well as the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

At this juncture, it remains to be seen whether Hillary Clinton will join these two sister Senators in their efforts to close the “Enron loophole”.  It never bothered her husband during his eight years in the White House and she never spoke up about it during that time.

For our third potential future candidate, we can’t forget about Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas.  Although she is being promoted as a possible running mate for Barack Obama, her five years as Governor of Kansas are considered by many as a bit short for the position of Vice President.  (She faced that criticism when she had served only one year as Governor and was considered as a possible running mate for John Kerry in 2004.)  She earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Kansas after earning a Bachelor’s Degree from Trinity Washington University in Washington, D.C.  (Trinity Washington University is not associated with the late Jerry Falwell, who died and went to hell.  It is a Catholic – affiliated University.)  As Governor of Kansas, she has an established record as an advocate of environmental protection.

As the pundits watch Hillary Clinton’s political future, some of us will be looking toward other American women, one of whom may turn out to become the first female President of the United States.

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Which Way To The White House?

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June 16, 2008

Will someone please tell John McCain that he has already secured the Republican Presidential nomination?  He doesn’t seem to have trouble acknowledging this during talk shows.  Nevertheless, many of his positions on the important issues in this election contradict those we would expect to hear (and those we have heard in the past) from John McCain.  Arianna Huffington summed it up best, with her proclamation that the John McCain of 2000 is not a candidate in this election.  McCain seems to be stuck on winning over the Rovian “base”.  This may be the result of the favoritism extended to Willard “Mitt” Romney by Fox News and the “hard right” talk radio punditry during primary season.  The primary season is over now.  So, why does McCain continue to campaign as though he is still trying to win over the hearts of the most conservative Republicans, rather than win over the independents and undecided Democrats?

His critics call him “McBush” and the candidate for “the third Bush term” because he is pledging support for most of the current policies of what has become the most unpopular Presidential administration in modern times.  Most would have assumed that after securing the Republican nomination, McCain would have moved back to the center, reflecting the positions of the moderate “maverick” we knew from the past.  However, the current incarnation of John McCain is heading toward the far right spectrum of the Republican ranks in the belief that this is the best route to The White House.  His traveling companions have been two faces we now regularly see in the news.  One is Joe “The Tool” Lieberman.  Joe hopes to bring him some support from independent voters, despite the fact that Lieberman sold his soul to Bush, Cheney and Rove in 2006.  The second is Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the most likely choice as McCain’s running mate.  The choice of Graham would reinforce the obviousness of McCain’s tack to the right at a point in the campaign when conventional wisdom would seem to suggest the opposite move.

Beyond his support for the unpopular Iraq war, McCain is now ready to revitalize Bush’s failed attempt to “privatize” Social Security, as depicted in a CNN report from June 13.  A report by Charlie Savage in the June 6 New York Times, discussed how McCain’s current view, supporting Bush’s wiretaps, contradicts the view expressed by McCain to The Boston Globe six months earlier.  Although McCain previously opposed the Bush tax cuts as skewed to benefit the wealthy, he now favors extending those cuts.  Most recently, as disclosed by neoconservative Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard, McCain and Lindsey Graham are plotting to subvert the recent Supreme Court decision protecting the habeas corpus rights of “enemy combatants” with the introduction of legislation to create a “national security court”.  ¡Viva Guantánamo!   This legislation would be introduced on the heels of a June 15 report by Tom Lasseter of McClatchy Newspapers that “dozens of detainees” at Guantanamo have been imprisoned by the U.S. on the basis of flimsy or fabricated evidence.

Much of the criticism directed against McCain’s campaign has concerned the slim turnouts at his rallies, his speech delivery and his failure (or unwillingness) to keep economic issues on the front burner.  Although quite a bit of criticism has questioned his ability to carry “the base” in November, precious little has been focused on how he expects to win over “undecided” voters and those from the center.  McCain has to face up to the fact that “the base” has no other alternative than to vote for him.  If he expects to win the election, he would be wise to distance himself from the policies of the Bush administration, rather than cling to them as some sort of political life-raft.

Positive vs. Negative

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June 11, 2008

If you listen closely, you can hear the knife sharpeners grinding away.  The attack ads are being prepared right now.  The 527 groups are headed into the studios with their “Swift Boat”-style TV spots.  Floyd Brown, the godfather of the Willie Horton ad campaign against Mike Dukakis, has already started a web ad campaign against Barack Obama, based on the “secret Muslim” theme.  In today’s Los Angeles Times, Robin Abcarian discussed the numerous negative magazine and blog articles directed against Michelle Obama.  In today’s New York Times, Maureen Dowd noted that there are “creepy web sites … dedicated to painting Michelle as a female version of Jeremiah Wright, an angry black woman.”  Without Hillary Clinton to kick around any more, those with unreleased sexist rage are now turning to Mrs. Obama as the new focus of their attention.  This could result in drawing support for Obama from those disgruntled, female Clinton supporters, who were ready to cast a revenge vote for McCain.  This may be happening already.  A report issued today by Jeffrey Jones of the Gallup organization, revealed that Obama’s lead among women has now expanded from five percentage points to 13.  Barack may owe some thanks to the Michelle-haters for this popularity bump.

Meanwhile, on June 9, Tim Reid of the London Times reported that Barack Obama has established a “crack team of cybernauts” who “will form a rapid response internet ‘war room’ to track and respond aggressively to online rumours”.  Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for Senator Obama, told the Times that “the only way to run a campaign is to respond immediately when inaccurate information is put out”.  The Obama campaign might want to re-think this strategy.  Rather than allowing itself to be placed on this defensive course, constantly putting out fires, Obama’s team might want to consider a more sophisticated counterintelligence strategy.  They should try fighting disinformation with disinformation.  The various “smear” campaigns themselves are examples of disinformation.  Yet there are also disinformation campaigns that are used to attack the use of rumor and innuendo.  As explained at

When channels of information cannot be completely closed, they can be rendered useless by filling them with disinformation, effectively lowering their signal-to-noise ratio and discrediting the opposition by association with a lot of easily-disproved false claims.

So here’s my idea:  the Obama camp should fight these smear campaigns by flooding the internet with even more false rumors that sound more ridiculous than those being circulated by the opposition, thus undercutting the believability of the rumors originating from the anti-Obama crowd.  Some examples might be:  “Obama wants to paint the White House black” or that Obama wants to change the National Anthem to an expletive-laden, rap version of “The Star Spangled Banner”.  Eventually, people will have heard so many stupid rumors about Obama, that they will no longer pay attention to them.  As soon as someone starts out a sentence with “Well, you know, Obama is secretly trying to …” the listener will tune out.

Rather than counterpunch with a negative smear campaign against McCain, the Obama camp should try a positive approach.  This would involve unlimited positive remarks about the Libertarian candidate, ex-Republican Bob Barr.  A little more consideration for Mr. Barr might also be appropriate. When the subject of “town hall meetings” is raised, Democrats should ask:  “Is Bob Barr agreeable to those?”  When debates are being scheduled, they should ask whether Bob Barr is being invited to participate.  Of course, the Republicans could strike back by inviting Ralph Nader to those events.  However, the Democrats would not have to worry, since Nader would simply reinforce their theme of corporate control of our government.  Nader would pose no threat to Obama, since Ralph has about as much charisma as a breadstick.  (Nader became a problem for the charisma-impaired Al Gore, although he won’t pose that same threat to Obama.)

Of course, the Democrats would never go along with this strategy.  They are dedicated to the preservation of the two-party system.  To change that, would be to make life more complicated (and expensive) for the lobbyists.

Obama Takes “The Tool” To The Woodshed

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June 9, 2008

Pseudo-moderate, Senator Joseph Lieberman, has been keeping himself in the news.  On June 5, Jake Tapper of ABC News described the encounter between Barack Obama and Lieberman on the Senate floor on June 4, when Obama returned to the Senate as the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee.  Here’s what Tapper had to say about the incident:

They shook hands. But Obama didn’t let go, leading Lieberman – cordially – by the hand across the room into a corner on the Democratic side, where Democratic sources tell ABC News he delivered some tough words for the junior senator from Connecticut, who had just minutes before hammered Obama’s speech before the pro-Israel group AIPAC in a conference call arranged by the McCain campaign. … The two spoke intensely for approximately five minutes, with no one able to hear their conversation. Reporters watched as Obama leaned closely in to Lieberman, whose back was literally up against the wall.

Senator Obama was showing off a physical characteristic we aren’t used to seeing in Democrats.  It’s called a spine.  Since Lieberman’s re-election to the Senate in 2006 as an Independent candidate (after losing the Democratic primary to Ned Lamot) the Democrats have been struggling to keep Joe in their “Big Tent”.  The Senate Democratic Caucus (or Conference) consists of 49 regular Democrats and 2 Independents, one of whom is Joe “The Tool” Lieberman, who calls himself an “Independent Democrat”.  The Democrats are desperate to maintain their 51-percent majority in the Senate, so they have been doing all they can to make sure The Tool is a happy camper.  All that changed when Barack Obama became the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee.  Such notable individuals as former speechwriter for George H. W. Bush, Peggy Noonan and even Rupert Murdoch have predicted a “Democratic landslide” in the 2008 elections.   The Tool has been throwing his weight around quite a bit with his endorsement of John McCain.  Obama has made it clear that Lieberman’s star is fading quickly and he is being cut loose —  now.

As the junior Senator from Connecticut, Lieberman has worked his way onto the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, including its Subcommittees on: Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, Private Sector and Consumer Solutions to Global Warming and Wildlife Protection (where he is Chairman), and the Subcommittee on Public Sector Solutions to Global Warming, Oversight, and Children’s Health Protection.  He is also on the following Senate Committees: Small Business and Entrepreneurship, the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (where he is Chairman), as well as the Senate Armed Services Committee.  If the predicted Democratic landslide occurs — watch The Tool lose all of these appointments.

As a defector from the Democratic Party, The Tool is not only campaigning for John McCain, but he has joined the ranks of those partisans who refer to the Democratic Party as the “Democrat” party.  Accordingly, he has a vested interest in seeing that such a landslide does not occur and that Barack Obama has no “coattails” in the 2008 election, which would add more Democratic Senators, making The Tool a useless commodity.  As a result, Lieberman is doing all he can to sabotage Obama’s election possibilities. Anyone who has the chutzpah to call himself “bipartisan” or a “moderate” while talking about a “Democrat Party” would do well to read Hendrik Hertzberg’s article in the June 9, 2008 issue of The New Yorker.  (You can read it online for free.)

On the day after The Tool was taken to the woodshed by Obama, Lieberman issued an e-mail to his “Fellow McCain Supporters”.  He noted that he had previously been “the Democrat Party’s nominee for Vice-President” and went on to note that he was creating and chairing a new “grassroots organization”, called “Citizens for McCain”.  He described this group as “an organization within the McCain campaign for people who put country before political party and support the candidate for President who has a proven record of bipartisanship”.  His first misrepresentation in this e-mail was to mis-characterize this group as a “grassroots organization”.  A look on will tell us the following about the meaning of the term “grassroots”:

A grassroots movement (often referenced in the context of a political movement) is one driven by the constituents of a community. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it is natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures.

Sorry Joe, your group doesn’t qualify as “grassroots”, since it was orchestrated by a Senator, already working from “within the McCain campaign” and who is a member of numerous Senate Committees, including the Armed Services Committee.  The previously-quoted Wikipedia entry goes on to state:

Faking a grassroots movement is known as astroturfing.  Astroturfing—as the name suggests—is named after a brand of artificial grass, AstroTurf.

By January, 2009, The Tool will have lost all of his Committee memberships and he will likely find himself as a powerless backbencher.  When his Senate career ends four years later, he might be able to start a lucrative, new career:  selling AstroTurf.

The Demise of a Brand

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June 5, 2008

One of life’s important lessons, that not enough of us learn, is to quit while you’re ahead.  Some people take the term “ahead” to mean “ahead”, as in “leading” or “beating the game”.  Most of us other, more humble, people take that word in this context to mean “before you have lost very much”.  This week, both Hillary and Bill Clinton have demonstrated such ignominious failures in this lesson as to have simultaneously destroyed the Clinton brand.

Hillary should have abandoned her Presidential campaign at the point when it became mathematically impossible for her to gain enough delegates to win.  That was back on March 13, when Dick Morris (who had been Bill Clinton’s political consultant for his 1996 re-election bid) and others made that observation.  Whatever motivated her to continue on, ultimately resulted in the dissociative speech she gave on the night of Tuesday, June 3, 2008, when Barack Obama earned enough delegates to guarantee himself the Democratic Presidential nomination.  She spoke to her relatively small audience of sycophants and losers, as though she had just assured the nomination for herself.  On the following day, she was faced with conference calls from 28 House members and 8 Senators, both pledged delegates and superdelegates for Clinton.  According to Howard Fineman of Newsweek, these people made it clear that they were beyond disappointment that she had not given a concession speech.  They were outraged by her arrogance and gave her an ultimatum:  Hillary must release them as her delegates, or they would endorse Obama, regardless of her consent.  Hillary agreed to a concession event, to take place on Saturday, June 7, at which time she would formally endorse Obama.

Invoking the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy as an excuse for staying in the race was bad enough.  However, here we had that same loser, unwilling to concede to the man for whom she had raised the prospect (or perhaps, fantasy) of assassination in her own mind and shared it with the public.  So …  was she going to wait for Sirhan, Jr. or what?  The Senators and House members, upon the suggestion of a (now former) Clinton advisor, made that “wake-up call” to Hillary a little later than 3 a.m.  The message was clear:  she had overplayed her hand.  She was now toxic.  Continued association with her could spell political doom.

Meanwhile, back at the Chappaqua ranch, (actually while in Milbank, South Dakota) Bill had already shocked the world with his reaction to the Vanity Fair article about him, linking him to the steamy-hot Ms. Gina Gershon.  Mayhill Fowler of The Huffington Post asked him if that story had been weighing on his mind.   Bill became unhinged.  Unlike the charming Bill Clinton we once knew, he called the Vanity Fair author (Todd Purdum) a “sleazy” “dishonest” “scumbag” and linked Obama operatives to some sort of Vanity Fair conspiracy against him.  Bill went on to lash out at the media in general.

Is anyone really going to want to pay Bill’s high-dollar speaking fees after this?  He has now sunk below “B-list”.

This is really sad.  Bill was always such a charismatic fellow.  Even after Monicagate, many of us still loved him.  This charismatic quality, contrasted with Bill’s recent antics and his history of temper tantrums, brings to mind the subject of what is called “borderline personality disorder”.  Many people with this disorder are considered quite charismatic, most of the time.  Then Dr. Jekyll suddenly becomes Mr. Hyde.  Research that subject on or your favorite resource.  Think about Bill when you read it.

With Hillary toxic and Bill “off the charts” nuts, there is now little left of the Clinton brand.  This could have been avoided if Hillary had just faced up to the fact that she lost, back when many astute observers said she did.  Instead, both Hillary and Bill fought on, destroying the Clinton brand in the process.  Sound familiar?  According to Dick Morris, Bill could have settled the sexual harassment claim of Paula Jones, although it was Hillary who opposed this.  Monicagate could have been completely avoided if Bill had just settled Paula Jones’ claim.   Then, as now, it was Hillary’s decision to ride the scandal down the toilet.  In the Jones case, it resulted in Monicagate and impeachment. Now in 2008, Hillary’s decision to ride her Presidential campaign down the toilet has destroyed the precious Clinton brand, which was supposed to bring her to The White House.  You have to know how to quit when you’re ahead – and that means:  “before you have lost very much”.

The Last Superdelegate

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June 2, 2008

The time is quickly approaching for the person who wants to be that special, “Last Superdelegate” for Barack Obama (the one who puts him over the top for the nomination) to be ready to jump up.

It is estimated that after Tuesday, Obama will be approximately 20 delegates short of the new number for winning the nomination: 2118.   Once Tuesday’s results are tabulated, there will be a scramble to become  .  .  .  not the first post-primary season superdelegate to endorse him – but to be the twentieth.  It’s a lot like a radio station that offers free concert tickets to the twentieth caller.  Much of that same science will come into play on Tuesday night.  Superdelegates aspiring to be “kingmaker” would be well-advised to consult with those who have won concert tickets from radio stations.

As the Clinton campaign winds down, it is interesting to study where the whole thing went wrong.  My opposition to her candidacy has been my revulsion at the idea of yet another “Dynastic Presidency”.   Nevertheless, I would be delighted to see another “Clinton vs. Bush” Presidential campaign (that is:  Roger Clinton vs. Neil Bush — the “cocaine scandal” candidate vs. the “Asian hooker scandal” candidate).  The “attack ads” would be delightful, although not very “family friendly”.  It would be my kind of campaign.

As for the mistakes by the Clinton campaign, my favorite area is the subject of body language.  Were he still alive, Marshall McLuhan might be willing to confirm my theory that the advent of HDTV has enhanced the obviousness of existential inauthenticity.   Existential authenticity has been one of Hillary’s weak areas throughout this campaign.  I believe that HDTV has made it more obvious.  By McLuhan’s terms, HDTV would be a “hot” medium (as opposed to the “cool” analog TV, which required the viewer to put together a “mosaic” from a limited number of screen lines forming a TV picture).  Once in the HD milieu, a political candidate’s body language becomes crucial.  Here are a couple of Hillary Clinton’s worst “body language” mistakes:

— The Nod:  She would do this herself when emphasizing a point she wanted her audience to accept.  It was reminiscent of a shoe salesman’s saying:  “Those shoes are you!  Just put a tongue pad in there and your heels won’t slip out anymore” (while nodding affirmatively).  Eventually, the change was made to have a “designated nodder”.  With this strategy, a guy would stand behind Hillary and start nodding whenever she was making an important point.  Neither tactic worked because HDTV gave it all away.  This is a different world from 1992, when Bill first won.

— Waving to a Phantom “Old Friend” in the Audience: Chelsea was coached to use this tactic, as well.  She would do it right after Hillary did it.  Each would pretend to recognize an “old friend” in the audience; point at the phantom; say “hi”; smile in an exaggerated way and wave.  Most of the cruel, “crazy face” pictures of Hillary were captured during these moments.  They were extremely obvious in hi-def.

History will look back on the 2008 campaign as the first HDTV Presidential campaign.  The candidates may not yet know it, but they are in a technological and political minefield where they are the pioneers.