Transparent Lies

This has been a week of blatant, transparent lies.

First, on Monday, Newcastle United terminated Chris Hughton for lack of "managerial experience."

Later that same day, Barack Obama announced that a "deal" had been reached with the Republicans over the expiring 2003 top bracket income tax cuts. The fact it was called a "deal" was itself a lie. Heck, the 2003 tax cuts were passed under the ridiculous name, "Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act." How were the twenty-hundreds to you and your family? If you were an average American, you probably didn't get a pay raise while working the same job. However the big lie was delivered by the President himself:

I have argued that we can't afford [to extend the top bracket tax cuts] right now. But what I've also said, we have to find consensus here because a middle-class tax hike would be very tough not only on working families, it would also be a drag on our economy at this moment.

That's a complete lie. There is no reason to link the expiration of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans with a tax hike for the middle class. None. They should be separate issues. In fact, the president should have had the upper hand here. He should have gone into these talks with the intent of letting the clock run out, and allowing all tax cuts to expire, not to work out some sort of "deal" with Republicans.

The president's logic seems to be that he was boxed into renewing the Bush tax cuts because the 2009 middle class tax cuts were given the same expiration date (12/31/2010). The talking point from the president's advisors is, "not all the tax cuts were Bush's." Okay. But the unfortunate decision to have the middle class tax cuts expire at the same time as the top tier tax cuts is the fault of the Democrats. But as president, Obama could very easily let it all expire.  He could ask Congress to send him a bill to reinstate tax cuts for the middle class (which he won't get). But he would have plenty of political cover because he wouldn't ask for an extension of the top bracket cuts, nor would he have to sign such a bill if it reached his desk. He has the upper hand, and apparently doesn't understand it.

Extending the top bracket tax cuts only increases the chances of them becoming permanent under the next Republican president. In my lifetime, we've gone from a 50 percent tax rate to a 35 percent tax rate for individuals netting more than $300,000 (net, mind you, after all charitable donations designed to help affluent people avoid the highest tax rate). Amazing. Where's the 15 percent decrease for New Yorkers paying income taxes to three governments, and whose water bills have risen over 10 percent each year for the last three years?

But instead of letting the clock run out, the president is promoting a Republican-led bill that would extend the top tier tax cuts another 24 months, presumably when another president and congress will have to sort it out.

And then it got worse. On Wednesday, the President doubled-down, saying that if the drafted bipartisan bill was not passed, the country might slip into another recession. Fortunately, over 50 House Democrats called bullshit and have pledged to vote against the bill.

This latest failure of the President to battle the Republicans opens the door to a question that a lot of Liberals have been asking lately - does Barack Obama even want to be president? This immediate capitulation, when all he had to do was run out the clock and veto tax cut bills in 2011, is the clearest evidence yet that the president either does not know his job or doesn't want it. Does he already want to pack up and go home to Chicago? Why did he betray a major campaign promise so quickly?

In my opinion, Obama is a very tired man. He realizes now that his great charm and intellect will not win him political battles. And since he is not a fighter, he is simply going to avoid battles altogether. He just wants to go back to Chicago. He's as discouraged and deflated as the rest of us. However, he gets to go home. We're left still needing a strong, progressive leader. He'll be left with free healthcare, paid speeches, and personal security for life. That's not a victory. That's a tragedy. After years of advancement, hard work, and success, Barack Obama finally stalled and failed when his country needed him most.

The president is well read.  Did he ever read this quote by Mahatma Gandhi?

All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.

And Keith Olbermann makes what should be one of his final Special Comments about this president. There really isn't much more to be said with 22 months remaining. Here's Keith on December 7th, explaining in 12 minutes, how Obama officially betrayed his base, once and for all:

David Patterson's Chatastrophic January

David Patterson may have ruined his political future this month, not to mention put a Democratic US Senate seat at risk in the 2010 election. I can't re-hash the entire story. But I can offer some highlights and reactions.

Let's begin with an event that the vat majority of NY State residents have forgotten - the governor's State of the State speech. According to insiders, the Governor spent over 60 hours writing and memorizing the speech, which the governor later confirmed. After it received mainly bad reviews, the governor publicly stated that he was ill the day he delivered the speech.

Allow me to put-aside the poor judgement and lack of politician-grade speaking skills ('you know') of Caroline Kennedy. And I'll put-aside the governor's selection of Congresswoman Kristen Gillibrand.

Here's just a sample from the mainstream NY press on how Patterson's month began with a forgettable speech and ended with him putting both a Democratic Senate seat and his own tenure as Governor at risk.

NY Daily News: Caroline Kennedy was in over her head, but Gov. David Paterson crew stoops low

If Paterson looks indecisive, he has no one to blame but himself. Within a single seven-hour span, he told reporters in Washington he had a "good idea" who he would pick, then told Katie Couric he was "not totally sure," then assured one contender he had not made up his mind.

Paterson's brain trust didn't think to circulate a 28-page questionnaire to the candidates until early January. Later, though, the governor admitted he had not read the answers.

He refused to share a blank copy of the form with the public. Yet when a world-famous candidate filled one out, her sensitive answers got to the press.

NY Daily News:
Paterson was turned off when Kennedy first called him and asked if she "could" be considered for the seat.

By asking if she could, rather than saying she wanted to be considered, Paterson immediately felt she wasn't really interested, the source said.

In meetings, the governor and his aides decided she had no political depth, the source said.

NY Times (registration required): In Selection Mess, Paterson Dug Hole Deeper
In the aftermath, many top Democrats and even friends of Mr. Paterson see his governorship as reeling and troublingly disorganized. They believed that this was to be his defining year, one in which he could move beyond the unusual circumstances of his ascension to high office and prove he could lead the state through a perilous fiscal crisis.

Some were unusually open in questioning the approach — and judgment — of the governor and the people around him.

Paterson said that Kennedy had called him to say she was having second thoughts and "he asked her to wait a day and he thought she had agreed," another attendee recalled.

Then, he said, he couldn't get her on the phone for hours.

"He was absolutely frustrated that he couldn't reach her," the guest said of how Paterson described the scene. "He thought maybe she was sick. He felt she was being nasty to him, that she showed great disrespect."

Miscommunication happens at all levels in this advanced electronic age. But in retrospect, if Governor Patterson needed to track-down Ms. Kennedy at a critical time, he had several options and resources available to him. He has staff in New York City who could have tracked her down. He knew her address. He even has a private train that can transport him to Penn Station in just over 2 hours. For him to be upset that he couldn't call her back, then make his selection anyway, and then allow his staff to insult Ms. Kennedy as the process came to a close is simply unacceptable, and may surely cost the governor his first formal bid for election in November 2010. For a man who has a reputation of being professional, humorous, and fair, this month has shown us a David Patterson who has been anything but.

Caroline In The City

I'll give Caroline Kennedy credit for her first, genuine, ad-hoc press conference on 125th Street today. But I have to say it - she did not explain why she wants Hillary's Senate seat, or what she has to offer other than a reliable Democratic vote in-line with Charles Schumer. In fact, she is rather flat when she's unscripted. Can you count the number of caution flags in these comments?

"I come at this as a mother, as a lawyer, as an author, as an education advocate and from a family that really has spent generations in public service."
"I feel this commitment, and this is a time when nobody can afford to sit out. And I hope that I have something to offer."
"I have, you know, quite a lot to learn, but I feel like I bring a lot with me, as well."
I think I speak for many Democrats when I say that we need more than a legacy who brings only her vote and her ability to do fundraising. I also think it is safe to say that Caroline Kennedy is not a politician. She raises money for good causes, and she sits on the boards of various non-profits. But she hasn't had a full-time job as a lawyer in years. Hillary was similar, but at least she was elected to the Senate. Kennedy is asking to be appointed. To appoint a non-politician to the US Senate would be a risky move.

And assuming that Rudy Giuliani will be the Republican nominee for the seat is a mistake. He's happy on the speech circut as his political career is over.

Another Silly Politico Article

Charles Mahtesian: Nepotism Nation: Democrats Embrace Dynasty Politics

Where to begin? Is it a news flash that either party has legacies?
Barack Obama's path to the presidency included beating what had been one of the nation's most powerful families. But, in an unusual twist, his election last month is helping accelerate the trend toward dynasty politics.

His secretary of state will be Hillary Clinton, the wife of the former president. The Senate seat she’ll vacate is being pursued by Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of a president and the niece of two senators. Joe Biden’s Senate seat may go to his son Beau. Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar, Obama’s pick for interior secretary, could end up being replaced by his brother, Rep. John Salazar.

That's right. Barack opened the floodgates to a giant wave of Nepotism. Is this author serious?
The U.S. Senate could end up looking like an American version of the House of Lords – and Republicans have begun to take notice.
There was once a senator named Paul Wellstone who made that point over 10 years ago. And he was a Democrat.
“Democrats seem to lack a common man who can just win a good, old-fashioned election,” said Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.), the former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
You mean a non-legacy who can work hard and win big? I might know a guy.
While Obama’s election and subsequent Cabinet appointments may have accelerated the trend toward dynasty, he’s hardly responsible for it. There is a rich bipartisan history of dynasty in American politics that dates all the way back to the Founding Fathers; Obama-Biden actually represents the first winning ticket since 1976 without a son or a grandson of a U.S. senator on it.
Oh, so midway through the article, Mr. Mahtesian puts things in perspective. It weakens his argument, but I'm sure it must be central to his point.
Almost everyone agrees that the high cost of elections is making the world’s most exclusive club seem even more exclusive. According to some estimates, the cost of winning Clinton’s New York Senate seat in the special election in 2010 and the general election in 2012 will be in the neighborhood of $70 million.

“There are three issues behind this trend,” said Bob Edgar, the president of Common Cause and a former Pennsylvania congressman. “Money is issue number one, money is issue number two and money is issue number three.”

“It’s an enormously expensive process to run for the United States Senate,” added Edgar, who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1986. “And once someone [wins] a Senate seat, there is a sense of ownership.”

Again, Paul Wellstone made speeches about this very issue, and he taught me and many others that the Senate is a millionaires-only club, for better or worse. Paul Wellstone and Ted Kennedy taught me more about the workings of the Senate than anyone else in my lifetime.

And before we declare this to be a new era of nepotism and legacies because Sweet Caroline wants her late uncle's NY Senate seat, let's pause and acknowledge that there are many smart Democrats who are against her appointment.

Just Got An Odd Voicemail...

...from the Al Franken call center in Nebraska. His campaign is soliciting donations to the 'Al Franken Recount Fund'. That seemed odd, so I have an odd (perhaps even silly) question.

Why would either Franken's or Coleman's campaign need funds for the recount? Aren't Minnesota taxpayers picking up the tab?

It turns out that Franken needs cash to pay his lawyers in case this recount winds-up in court. It also turns out that Mitt Romney has donated $5,000 to Coleman's recount fund. And unlike donations for the campaign, there is almost no limit on how much individuals can contribute to these recount funds.

But we little voters are maxed out, Al. Doesn't Soros have cash to give you? How about Alec Baldwin? I gave you my cash already.

Just because you couldn't win big doesn't mean I owe you a penny more.

Just win, Al. That's all I asked when you began your campaign. You can raise the cash after you are in the Senate. Let's get real.

Sack-up and win. Red Sox style.

Barry Letting Us Liberals Down Already

And the sad thing is, he doesn't have to do any of this. I don't think he's winning any more votes by wearing the US flag lapel pin, making big promises to evangelicals, failing to stop telecomm immunity, or slapping General Wes Clark for rightly attacking John McCain. Hey, Barry, Clark was right to slap McCain. Where was McCain when the Wingnuts accused Senator Kerry of wounding himself in Vietnam? Barry, stop this madness. Your base is not happy with you at all.

In [Fair] Elections, There Is No Such Thing As 'Cutting In Line'

Just one more thing before Senator Clinton hands leadership to Senator Obama tonight:

He didn't cut in line. There is no such thing in a free and fair election. In job promotions, it exists. In chairing a congressional committee, it exists. In presidential appointments, it exists. But in a fair election, there is no such thing.

Take 1960 for example. John F. Kennedy seemed to come out of nowhere and defeat Lyndon B. Johnson for the Democratic nomination. LBJ had been a member of Congress since Kennedy was 19 years old. He was the Senate Majority Leader at the time of the election. LBJ represented the Democratic establishment, while Kennedy represented a new generation, promising modest change and a new direction for the nation in the Cold War era. His appeal ultimately prevailed. Then, as we know, he had to defeat another establishment candidate, sitting Vice President Richard M. Nixon. For similar reasons, he won by a nose.

Now did he cut in-line before two future US presidents? Does history record it that way?

I think not.

We can accuse Obama of being cocky. We can call him a rock star. Some can call him an asshole. But he did not cut in line. There is no such thing in a democratic and fair election.

Relax Obama Supporters - The Torch Will Be Passed

It's how politics works. And we are seeing a shifting of gears and the rise of a new leader for the Democratic party.

The past few days may have been worrying for Obama supporters. On Saturday, Harold Ickies threatened to take Hillary Clinton's case to the DNC Credentials Committee at the end of this month, to appeal the 'hijacking' of four of her delegate votes. On Sunday, both Ickies and Clinton campaign chair Terry McAuliffe, hinted that Senator Clinton would not be congratulating Senator Obama on Tuesday night. This morning, Senator Clinton said that the nomination race is not over until it is over, and that "her political obituary is yet to be written."

Well, she is correct about that last point. See, her political obituary would be written if she didn't get behind Barack Obama in the general election. And that's not even an issue. It's not because Obama will extort her support. It's not because the rabid Obama supporters will scream and yell. It's because Clinton will follow the standard political playbook for the Democratic party. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's take a brief look at the nightmare scenario that we've heard from Obama supporters.

Senator Clinton has long argued that Senator Obama is not as electable as she is. That could be interpreted to mean that if the Democrats nominated Obama, he would have a greater chance of being upset by John McCain than Hillary would. Taken further, it could mean that if Obama were nominated, then Hillary would be in a position to say, "I told you so," if Obama lost in November. And taken even further, it could mean what many ordinary Democratic voters have recently speculated - that Senator Clinton wants Obama to lose in November, so she can stage a run in 2012. This topic was debated back in March by several bloggers and pundits.

The argument goes like this. Hillary reluctantly endorses Obama and campaigns for him, but she secretly (or not so secretly) hopes he loses to John McCain. Then Hillary can stage a successful 2012 campaign for a nation weary of 12 years of Republican rule, high gas prices, and the occupation of Iraq in its 10th year.

There is a huge problem with this argument. It assumes many things that have little or no chance of happening:

1. It assumes that Democrats will be just as receptive to a Hillary campaign in 2012 as they were in 2008.

2. It assumes that there will be no other up-and-coming Democrat who would want to defeat John McCain, should McCain win this November. After all, Obama wasn't on the radar in early 2006. Ariana Huffington foresaw a Gore vs. Clinton 2008 nomination race, and wrote about it in October 2005 and January 2006. Barack who?

3. And most important, it assumes that there would be no blame assigned to Clinton in the event of an Obama loss.

That sinks the argument. Think about what Clinton has said since her 11-state losing streak (which essentially killed her campaign). She said that McCain was qualified to be president, and in the same breath refused to give Obama the same pat on the fanny. She floated the talking point that Obama was doomed to lose, like Gore and Kerry, because he is an elitist. She made sure to use the word "hard working" before the word "white" in describing the demographic in which she defeated Obama in the Appalachian states. Never mind that the core of the Democratic base nationwide consists of liberals and African Americans. She suggested that Obama give-up and become her running mate as VP after he had won 11 contests in a row. And let su not forget the unforgivable assassination remarks. Hillary and her campaign managers have said too many negative things about Obama to be spared any blame if he loses in November. That's not a threat from this or any Obama supporter. That's not a threat from Mr. Obama. That's just the way politics works in the Democratic party.

Bill Clinton has been the de-facto leader of the Democratic party since winning the nomination in 1992. He filled a power vacuum that was left when Gary Hart dropped out of the 1988 nomination race. He remained the leader of the party through 2008. And it seems that tomorrow, June 3rd, Bill Clinton will lose that title. He seemed to understand that possibility today when he spoke in Milbank, South Dakota.

Naturally, the Clintons don't want to lose their leadership position in this great party. People in power do whatever they can to keep it while they are still playing within the rules. In this case, there are no term limits. The unwritten rule is that the next major Democrat to win the nomination and subsequently the presidency will become the leader of the party. Obama is poised to replace Clinton in that role. In fact you could argue that the party belongs to Obama beginning Tuesday.

Losing their leadership position is painful enough. But they would be throwing everything away if they set-up Obama to lose to John McCain, an old, uninspiring, ignorant man who by most accounts is too angry, too conservative, and too much like George W. Bush to beat a Democrat in November. Hillary Clinton would be putting her senate seat and political legacy at risk if she left Obama twisting in the wind.

And so, despite some threats, tough words, and pleas for more time, the transition from the Clintons to Obama is already in-play. The Clinton campaign has begun to tell its staffers to stand-down, as Senator Clinton is preparing a primetime speech in New York City to be delivered Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, Senator Obama is telling his supporters that he is looking forward to working with Hillary on the campaign trail. She might need a vacation and some private time. But she will campaign for Obama. The second place finisher in a nomination race doesn't have a choice. Obama and Clinton supporters who think that she has options need to settle down, and give it time. Give it time, and soon all of us will jump on the team and come on in for the big win.

Aw shit, I quoted Michael Herr again! I often do that.

Drifty On Clinton's Slow Death Scene: Let It Play Out

Another beautifully written, and wonderfully entertaining post by Driftglass. When does he not disappoint?

The end was ordained...

...Or, rather, I stopped letting myself being baited into fights that were now meaningless. Like arguing over some trivial debt at a funeral, or shrieking on and on about the feng shui of the chairs in a burning house, the ridiculousness of it suddenly lifted me up and out of myself. And after that, regardless of the size and throw-weight of the ragebombs being fired in my direction, they no longer affected me. The words being shrieked at me with such calculated venom and the constantly furious person out of whom they flew began to feel surreal, preposterous and very far away.