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I love Sunday newspapers. There always seem to be columns and stories that sum up the past week’s news on a given subject and try to glean some essential truth that a single day’s coverage failed to do.

This Sunday, when it comes to Hillary Clinton and the state of her campaign, there are a lot of these summary pieces but there doesn’t seem to be a consensus. Across the country, pundits are either making the case that she’s still got a shot (a long one) or that her campaign is toast.

By far, the best summation of the state of the Clinton campaign from an inside perspective comes from the New York Times which is reporting that most of the staff apparently believes the end is nigh but that the candidate is soldiering on valiantly all the way to the end:

To her longtime friends, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton sounds unusually philosophical on the phone these days. She rarely uses phrases like “when I’m president” anymore. Somber at times, determined at others, she talks to aides and confidants about the importance of focusing on a good day’s work. No drapes are being measured in her mind’s eye, they say.

And Mrs. Clinton has begun thanking some of her major supporters for helping her run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“When this is all over, I’m really looking forward to seeing you,” she told one of those supporters by phone the other day.

Mrs. Clinton has not given up, in her head or her heart, her quest to return to the White House, advisers say. But as resolute as she is, she no longer exudes the supreme confidence that was her trademark before the first defeat, in Iowa in January. And then there were more humbling blows, aides say: replacing her campaign manager on Feb. 10, then losing the Wisconsin primary and her hold on the women’s vote there last Tuesday.


Morale is low. After 13 months of dawn-to-dark seven-day weeks, the staff is exhausted. Some have taken to going home early — 9 p.m. — turning off their BlackBerrys, and polishing off bottles of wine, several senior staff members said.

Some advisers have been heard yelling at close friends and colleagues. In a much-reported incident, Mr. Penn and the campaign advertising chief, Mandy Grunwald, had a screaming match over strategy recently that prompted another senior aide, Guy Cecil, to leave the room. “I have work to do — you’re acting like kids,” Mr. Cecil said, according to three people in the room.

Others have taken several days off, despite it being crunch time. Some have grown depressed, be it over Mr. Obama’s momentum, the attacks on the campaign’s management from outside critics or their view that the news media has been much rougher on Mrs. Clinton than on Mr. Obama.

The polls in Texas and Ohio continue to narrow. Clinton enjoyed a double digit lead in both states as recently as 2 weeks ago. But Obamamentum appears to be working its magic and Texas is now a dead heat in the latest polls while Hillary’s lead in Ohio has shrunk to an average of 8 points, down from 14 just days ago.

The staff of a national campaign is finely tuned to how a particular race is going and can read the writing on the wall probably better than the candidate herself. Many of them probably have access to data which suggests that she has lost her edge among women, among working class Democrats, and among seniors. Losing any of those core Clinton groups on election day in either Texas or Ohio probably means that she will go down to defeat.

The Times piece isn’t exactly a post-mortem but it does bring out some of the criticisms of the campaign that have dogged Clinton for weeks – ever since Super Tuesday:

Over take-out meals and late-night drinks, some regrets and recriminations have set in, and top aides have begun to face up to the campaign’s possible end after the Texas and Ohio primaries on March 4. Engaging in hindsight, several advisers have now concluded that they were not smart to use former President Bill Clinton as much as they did, that “his presence, aura and legacy caused national fatigue with the Clintons,” in the words of one senior adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity to assess the campaign candidly.

The campaign’s chief strategist, Mark Penn, and its communications director, Howard Wolfson, have expressed frustration with the difficulty of “running against a phenomenon” in Senator Barack Obama; their attacks have not stopped Mr. Obama from winning the last 11 contests. Some aides said Mr. Penn and the former campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, had conceived and executed a terribly flawed campaign, something Ms. Solis Doyle disputes. Both she and Mr. Penn have been especially criticized as not planning a political strategy to compete in the primaries after Feb. 5.

They will probably be even more frustrated in another month or so as Obama is beginning to be torn down from his lofty perch by a suddenly curious media who are looking much closer at his record and associations in the past, revealing traits of radicalism and far left advocacy that proves to be the antithesis of his stump speech. (Expect his association with domestic terrorists William Ayers and Patricia Dohrn to make the jump from blogs to the mainstream any day.) And the gaffes of Mrs. Obama are going to resonate with voters long after the media coverage of them ends.

In short, eventually Obama’s bubble is going to burst. And when it does, I’m sure the Clinton’s will be kicking themselves in the rear end if they weren’t there to take advantage of it.

Or will they? There are also several pieces floating around the internet today that still give Hillary Clinton a shot at the nomination. To my eye, they look like wishful thinking rather than long shot scenarios. But if this campaign season has proven anything, it is that the most unlikely of scenarios has a shot at becoming plausible.

And there are 9 long days left before voters go to the polls in Texas and Ohio.

Victor Davis Hansen outlines a winning scenario for Hillary that, to my mind, would probably hurt the Democratic party egregiously:

I still maintain that the Clintons (if she can squeak by in the next two primaries) will use every means to find a way to challenge, seat, or sway delegates to win the nomination, regardless of the aggregate popular vote or ongoing delegate count. While that may not work, I still think she will try if she wins Texas; and if she wins the last three states, it will work. Apparently Peter wants to suggest that the people of Florida and Michigan should be “disenfranchised” or that “undemocratic” caucuses in the night should weigh the same as the results of plebiscites, or that time-tested and loyal super-delegates should have their traditional roles neutered, or that tiny states that will not be in play or won’t matter in the fall should count the same as CA, Fl, MI, NJ, NW, OH, TX, and PN.

This is the “scorched earth” scenario where the Clintons prove every bad and nasty thing people have been saying about them and try and ride roughshod over the process in order to win at all costs.

It may surprise you when I say I don’t think this scenario likely. Hillary is still a Democratic senator and must work with the party in order to get things done for New York. And Bill Clinton would shrivel up and die if their tactics resulted in him being frozen out of the limelight. Besides, if on the off chance Obama loses in the fall, Hillary could make another run in 2012.

Would it be different next time?

It is in such moments of defeat that the Clintons display their remarkable ability to pick up the pieces. After the 1980 loss, they set about reinventing themselves as centrists. An early makeover target was their image as a couple. Hillary dropped her last name, Rodham, and became a public cheerleader for her husband’s policies. A decade later, when the couple’s White House agenda was rejected in the midterm elections of 1994, they took a similar approach, ending their “co-presidency” and diminishing Hillary’s public role. “She viewed ‘94 as a rejection of her,” says one Clinton administration official who declined to discuss the Clinton marriage on the record. “She knew she had to disappear for a while.”

Losing, in other words, has taught Hillary that sometimes she must sacrifice herself for the Clintons’ greater good. It is a lesson that may be worth remembering if she fails to reverse Obama’s momentum on March 4. A protracted, nasty fight for the nomination would tarnish the Clinton name and might endanger the party Bill and Hillary have spent three decades trying to build. The Clintons’ place in history is too valuable to them for Hillary to take that risk. In the history books, after all, she can be the woman who conceded gracefully—and the woman who never quit.

But what about a scenario where she outduels Obama strategically? John J. DiIulio has another, less plausible but a little more party-friendly path to victory for Hillary:

Obama has had some stirring, even brave, things to say: most notably concerning how public education has failed too many low-income children in urban America. Organizationally, the teachers’ unions are the Democratic party’s throbbing heart. Obama, to his credit, was not on their Valentine’s Day list. They will lean against him in several upcoming big-state primaries, and as a super-delegate bloc too.

And Clinton can deflate Obama’s “change” balloon by relentlessly asking him why he decries the “politics” of the “past 15 years.” Does he dislike the Clinton-era presidential politics that expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit, widely regarded as the single most successful anti-poverty initiative of that period? Does he mean the bipartisan bills of the 1990s that led to work-based welfare reform? Does he mean the politics of the “past” that yielded the State Children’s Health Insurance Program? Or maybe he means rolling back post-1993 expansions in Medicare coverage or college loans or spending on low-income (Title I) schools.

Older Democrats, respectful of legislative accomplishments, particularly may not like that Obama often voted “present” as an Illinois legislator, or that his state and federal records seem so thin. Blue collar voters who earn $50,000 a year or less defected from Clinton in the Potomac primaries and again in Wisconsin. But in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania she may hold voters who can’t cut work the way college kids can cut class to attend midday campaign rallies.

Indeed, with big Latino turnouts expected in Texas, older working-class Ohio voters sticking to her like rust, and friends in Pennsylvania like Governor Edward Rendell and Philly’s popular new mayor Michael Nutter, Clinton can still nab the nomination. Fence-sitting super-delegates would quickly warm to a three-state sweep.

In DiIulio’s scenario, both Michigan and Florida delegates would be seated based on the issue of “fairness” and Hillary makes her case to wavering Super Delegates using the big state motif – that she can win those states and Obama cannot. The campaign for Supers is carried out in a low key manner so as not to offend the Obamaites any more than necessary.

What cracks this scenario in half is that Obama isn’t waiting. He is going after the Super Delegates now, striking while the iron is still hot from his string of 11 in a row contests won:

Aides to Barack Obama are putting the squeeze on Democratic officials, urging them to get aboard the campaign “sooner rather than later,” The Post has learned.

Obama supporters have also approached members of Congress and state legislators who face re-election and argued they stand a better chance with Obama heading the ticket than with Hillary Rodham Clinton, sources said.

One Clinton supporter said Obama’s quest goes beyond the battle for “superdelegates,” party big shots who serve as delegates at the Democratic convention. His campaign has reportedly begun reaching out to lower party officials in an effort to put an end to the divisive primary battle.

In effect, Obama is setting the table for March 4. If he wins one or both primaries, expect to see a lot of Super Delegates climb aboard his bandwagon and a huge outpouring of calls for Hillary to surrender. If that were to occur, I would expect Hillary to take the opportunity to retire gracefully, believing it possible that she can come back and fight another day.

By: Rick Moran at 10:35 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)


I have waxed both seriously and clownishly on this site about Barack Obama’s “Cotton Candy Candidacy” and the fact that his nebulously formed ideas make him something of an empty suit when it comes to trying to figure out where he stands on many issues.

I have also pointed out that this is deliberate obfuscation on his part, done in order to hide his liberal past. Indeed, there is no candidate in recent memory who has taken such pains to see that his political philosophy remains a cipher – a razor thin record in the Illinois Senate along with almost as invisible US Senate votes are carefully hidden away in the campaign’s attic, gone and mostly forgotten in the rush to proclaim the candidate The Agent of Change.

A slippery fish, this fellow Obama. Controversial votes when he was a state senator were avoided by voting “present” or claiming later that he erred by pressing the wrong button and didn’t really mean to take that position. Seen in the context of the “Great Game” the left plays with the American people in trying to mask their liberalism for fear of rejection by the voter, Obama, it turns out, is a master of “post partisan problem solving” – hiding his liberalism under an avalanche of platitudes and feel-good bromides that have his supporters swooning and the media eating out of his hand.

But the closet Obama may be in the process of being revealed. This is the Obama that voted to make a criminal out of a homeowner who was forced to use a gun in his own defense in his own home. This is the Obama that voted against making it a criminal offense for convicts on probation or on bail to have contact with a street gang. Indeed, Obama’s record on anti-gang legislation is simple; because gang members are more often people of color, they shouldn’t be singled out for increased attention or special penalties by the law.

But beyond his clearly liberal voting record in the state senate and his being named the most liberal senator in the US Senate by National Journal there is an issue just starting to bubble and froth below the media radar that may or may not become a huge issue depending on how protective the national media wants to be of Obama.

I am talking about the extent of the candidate’s ties to domestic terrorists from the 1960’s and how the American people might feel about their future president paling around with someone who set off bombs as a member of the group Weather Underground and to this day refuses to apologize for it. William Ayers told his followers back then:

“Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that’s where it’s really at.” This earns Ayers at least some spiritual kinship to Osama Bin Laden. (In last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, which of course went to press before Sept. 11, Ayers maintains that this was “a joke.” In a more serious vein, Ayers was quoted by another Times interviewer as saying, “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.”

The earliest known contact between Obama and Ayers was a “meet and greet” at Ayers house in Hyde Park – an upper middle class neighborhood on Chicago’s south side. Ben Smith at Politico gives an overview of the time and circumstance of the meeting:

In 1995, State Senator Alice Palmer introduced her chosen successor, Barack Obama, to a few of the district’s influential liberals at the home of two well known figures on the local left: William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

While Ayers and Dohrn may be thought of in Hyde Park as local activists, they’re better known nationally as two of the most notorious — and unrepentant — figures from the violent fringe of the 1960s anti-war movement.

Now, as Obama runs for president, what two guests recall as an unremarkable gathering on the road to a minor elected office stands as a symbol of how swiftly he has risen from a man in the Hyde Park left to one closing in fast on the Democratic nomination for president.

In fact, Ayers – unrepentant about bombing his own country as he claims – is an establishment figure in the unreconstructed liberal circles in Hyde Park – a hero to many of the University of Chicago faculty and other leftists who reside there. This is the district Obama ran successfully for state senate.

Ayers and Dohrn are simply the most visible of the far left supporters who propelled Barack Obama’s early political career. The woman who touted Obama at the Ayers meeting, Alice Palmer, was herself a far left activist who was into community organizing like Obama. There was Dr. Quentin Young, a radical physician who was quoted in USA Today in 2005 saying “”national health insurance is no longer the best solution, it’s the only solution: All other alternatives have been proven disastrous failures.” According to Ben Smith, Dr. Young describes Ayers and Obama as “friends:”

Neither Ayers nor the Obama campaign would describe the relationship between the two men. Dr. Young described Obama and Ayers as “friends,” but there’s no evidence their relationship is more than the casual friendship of two men who occupy overlapping Chicago political circles and who served together on the board of a Chicago foundation.

But Obama’s relationship with Ayers is an especially vivid milepost on his rise, in record time, from a local official who unabashedly reflected a very liberal district to the leader of national movement based largely on the claim that he can transcend ideological divides.

There were other “encounters” with Ayers over the years, including the fact that both men served on a far left foundation as board members:

Wondering whether the three may have crossed paths is not speculation. It is a fact that they have. Ayers, Dohrn, and Obama have appeared together at a number of gatherings and academic events.

In November 1997, Ayers and Obama participated in a panel at the University of Chicago entitled Should a child ever be called a “super predator?” to debate “the merits of the juvenile justice system”.

In April 2002, Ayers, Dohrn, and Obama, then an Illinois State Senator, participated together at a conference entitled “Intellectuals: Who Needs Them?” sponsored by The Center for Public Intellectuals and the University of Illinois-Chicago. Ayers and Obama were two of the six members of the “Intellectuals in Times of Crisis” panel.

Ayers, “who in the 1960s was a member of the terrorist group Weatherman and a wanted fugitive for over a decade as a result of the group’s bombing campaign,” is currently the Board Chairman of the Woods Fund of Chicago and Obama is a former Board member.

Just what does the Woods Fund seek to do with its $68 million in assets?

This new Fund focused on welfare reform, affordable housing, the quality of public schools, race and class disparities in the juvenile justice system, and tax policy as a tool in reducing poverty. The Fund supported the concept of an expanding welfare state allocating ever-increasing amounts of money to the public school system, and the redistribution of wealth via taxes.

“Unreconstructed” liberals indeed.

There have been many articles written the last few weeks asking just how liberal Obama truly is? How far to the left are his true politics? Since his record is so unrevealing of where he stands, one must go to his life, his associates, and his supporters to fill in the blanks.

And what comes to the fore is clear evidence that Barack Obama isn’t just an ordinary liberal like a Kennedy or a Clinton. Obama’s associations and associates reveal someone who has courted far left activists, participated in far left forums, and belonged to far left organizations.

On top of that, his stint as a community organizer was marked by his training in radical organizing. My colleague at American Thinker Kyle-Anne Shriver delved into this aspect of Obama’s early adulthood:

Barack Obama had just graduated from Columbia and was looking for a job. Some white leftists were looking for someone who could recruit in a black neighborhood in the south side of Chicago.

Obama answered a help-wanted ad for a position as a community organizer for the Developing Communities Project (DCP) of the Calumet Community Religious Conference (CCRC) in Chicago. Obama was 24 years old, unmarried, very accustomed to a vagabond existence, and according to his memoir, searching for a genuine African-American community.

Both the CCRC and the DCP were built on the Alinsky model of community agitation, wherein paid organizers learned how to “rub raw the sores of discontent,” in Alinsky’s words.

And Alinsky’s writings on radicalism and social change should chill the bones of not only conservatives, but more moderate liberals:

Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution. To bring on this reformation requires that the organizer work inside the system, among not only the middle class but the 40 per cent of American families – more than seventy million people – whose income range from $5,000 to $10,000 a year [in 1971].”

If this doesn’t sound like the way Obama is running his stealth campaign, I don’t know what does.

I should add that I don’t believe Obama is a dangerous man in the sense he would overturn the government and turn the US into some gigantic gulag. But if the voters knew the half of it, Obama would have been marginalized as a far left liberal as surely as Dennis Kucinich. Instead, Obama has successfully used his oratorical skills to say very little about what he plans to do if elected while inspiring people with a message of hope and change.

Will the media expose Obama? Will they criticize Senator McCain if he tries to paint Obama as a radical? Will they dig deep into Obama’s associations and associates to discover the truth?

Taylor Marsh is perplexed:

This is the vein in the Democratic party I will never understand, cannot accept on any level. What is it about some people who just don’t get the problems with our Democratic nominee being friendly, even taking a contribution (however small), as well as having a meeting as recently as 1995 with an unrepentant domestic terrorist like William Ayers? It reveals a lack of seriousness about the issue of terrorism and the dangerously immature judgment of anyone who is going to associate with a man, at the very least, that Republicans will use to beat us over the head with, having the bonus of hitting a spot the public loves to drink up, which is that our party is not serious about the dangers we face in this world.

It’s the same impulse among those Democrats who think Castro is cool and Chavez is a hero. And in Obama’s case, if the American voter ever gets the full story, the party could be facing a defeat in a year where all the stars were aligned in their favor.

By: Rick Moran at 10:03 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (20)

Sierra Faith linked with Obama and Terrorist Bill Ayers...

I am beginning to wonder how the authors of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran who wrote that the regime had given up on its weapons program in 2003 are feeling these last few weeks. It isn’t just war mongering right wing fanatics who think that they’re full of bull cookies and their analysis had a political motivation.

Good Lord! Even the French and Germans still think Iran is a danger. And did you see what the Russians said yesterday?

Iran’s ballistic missile tests last week have sparked unusually harsh criticism from Russia. According to the BBC, Russian officials have said the tests

raised suspicion over the true aim of [Iran’s] nuclear programme.

This is remarkable coming from Moscow, and the latest sign of a potentially significant shift in Russia’s stance on Iran. Through 2007, Russia was the main obstacle in UNSC efforts to tighten the thumb screws on Iran, preferring bilateral diplomacy with Tehran over the international sanctions route.

This January, however, Russia finally agreed to a third sanctions resolution. Moscow also opposes the efforts of South Africa to delay the resolution. South Africa, which holds a non-permanent UNSC seat and is an influential member of the Non-Aligned Movement of developing countries, wants to wait until IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei finishes his meddlesome freelance diplomacy with Iran before proceeding—presumably in the hopes that ElBaradei gives Iran a clean bill of health, which could undermine the prospects for a unanimous or near-unanimous UNSC vote. The Russians, however, want the resolution to move forward sooner rather than later.

Not so our intrepid liberal friends here in the United States. They’re still acting like Neville Chamberlain, waving the piece of paper containing the NIE report above their heads and proclaiming that they have brought us peace in our time – at least with those cuddly fanatics in Tehran.

To their mind, simply putting their head in the sand and ignoring the Iranian threat solves the problem. The NIE Report on Iran has become their bible, an object of veneration and belief. Like the other bible (the one they think is silly and people who believe in it are goober chewing yahoos), it contains rules to live by. The first commandment “Thou Shalt Not Attack Iran” automatically leads to the second commandment “Thou shalt not act beastly towards the mullahs.”

For that reason, sanctions are a no-no and any utterance by that madcap, mystical mayhem loving midget Ahmadinejad should be taken at face value – except when he says he wants to wipe Israel off the map which he really doesn’t want to do and besides he never said that anyway. Otherwise, when the President of Iran says he has no nukes, that they never had no nukes, that they don’t want no nukes and that anyone who thinks they want nukes is a war mongering puppet of the USA, we should believe him.

But now the left has a slight problem. That timid, confrontation-avoiding Nobel Prize winning peace merchant who runs the International Atomic Energy Agency toddled over to Iran this past week and “confronted” the Iranians with evidence that they had been very, very interested in building the ultimate defense against slandering Mohmammed cartoons. Mohammed ElBaradei whipped out some evidence that the US obtained via an Iranian scientist’s laptop and froze the socks off the Iranians. They didn’t quite know what to say so they said nothing – or at least nothing that only the truly deranged and self deluded on the left in this country would believe.

The Iranians claimed that the evidence was “baseless and fabricated:”

It was the evidence that Iran was secretly working on such a design for many years that is now at the heart of the confrontation between Iran and the nuclear agency, which is based in Vienna.

Since 2005, the I.A.E.A. has urged the United States and other countries to allow the agency to confront Iran with evidence obtained on a laptop computer that once belonged to an Iranian technician with access to the country’s nuclear program. But the U.S. refused until a few weeks ago, and only agreed on Feb. 15, the report said, to allow original documents to be shown to the Iranians. In the report issued Friday, the agency described some of that evidence in public for the first time, “all of which the Agency believes would be relevant to nuclear weapon R & D.”

The most suspicious-looking document in the collection turned over to the I.A.E.A. was a schematic diagram showing what appeared to be the development of a warhead, with a layout of internal components. “This layout has been assessed by the agency as quite likely to be able to accommodate a nuclear device,” the I.A.E.A. wrote. But that does not prove it was a nuclear warhead, and Iran argued that its missile program used “conventional warheads only.”

The report referred to other documents drawn from the laptop — though the source of the material was never mentioned — that included documents describing how to test “high-voltage detonator firing equipment” and technology to fire multiple detonators at one time, which is required to trigger a nuclear reaction by forcing a nuclear core to implode. The report also described work on whether a detonation could be triggered in a 400-meter-deep shaft from a distance of 10 kilometers, or about six miles, leading to suspicions that the Iranian scientists were already thinking about nuclear testing. But it is unclear whether the shaft would have been wide enough for a nuclear weapon.

Yep. Sounds pretty baseless and fabricated to me. The Iranians had a logical explanation for all of that stuff – the US are a bunch of meanies and simply manufactured the evidence. What self respecting lefty won’t take that as the gospel truth?

One such lefty is Dr. Andrew Grotto. Dr. Grotto, an arms control and national security specialist with no patience for the Bush Administration’s non-proliferation efforts not to mention looking with a jaundiced eye at US Iran policy, nevertheless is nearly speechless with regards to Iran’s response:

Iran continues to refuse to address evidence of activities that have a much more clear-cut weapons purpose, such as the green salt project, high explosive testing and the design of a missile re-entry vehicle. The IAEA report says much of the evidence comes from an unnamed “Member State,” probably the United States. Iran asserts that the evidence is fabricated and, according to the report, has made it abundantly clear that it has no intention of entertaining these matters any further.

There is a clear pattern here. For activities that have a colorable civilian rationale, Iran is suddenly happy to offer one. Since the IAEA is not in the business of second-guessing the sincerity of its member states in the absence of a technical rationale, it must accept these explanations unless and until new data comes along that calls the original rationale into question. And for activities that only have a weapons purpose, Iran plays the “How can you trust the Americans?’ card and simply refuses to engage the evidence.

It is hard to see what happens next in this process. There are a few lingering issues that the report suggests could be resolved, such as the uranium metal document (the report says that Pakistan is the roadblock). But on the most sensitive issues relating to alleged weapons-related activities, this report makes it clear that Iran has no interest in addressing them.

The problem becomes immediately apparent. The IAEA is “not in the business of second-guessing the sincerity of its member states in the absence of a technical rationale…” So any “confrontation” with Iran over their weapons program is necessarily short and sweet. If the IAEA asks a provocative question about some evidence and the Iranians have a convincing enough explanation – even if its a lie – the IAEA is forced to drop the issue and move on.

And for evidence that they have no rationale for? All they have to do is whine about the beastly Americans making stuff up and they have a phalanx of support here in America and the west among the ostrich class of lefties backing them up to the hilt.

This report is being delivered as the European Union weighed in with a study showing Iran could be a nuclear power by the end of the year. This could only happen if the Iranian centrifuges at Nantanz operated at near 100% efficiency.

Since the Iranians have never come close to that – more like 25% for short periods of time – it is next to impossible they would have a weapon by year’s end. And with the IAEA breathing down their necks, it is extremely unlikely they would be able to enrich uranium beyond the 5% required for civilian use. If they attempted to enrich their small stock of 5% uranium to the 85-90% necessary to build a bomb, it would be very difficult (at this point) for them to escape detection. (The Iranians have only now explained how traces of some 90% enriched uranium ended up on some equipment that the IAEA detected two years ago.)

The bottom line is as long as Iran continues to enrich uranium for any purpose, they are in violation of Security Council resolutions and are defying the bulk of the international community. The proposed sanctions are extremely limited and won’t harm the regime except at the margins. But it is the principle that is important – that most of the world wants Iran to come clean and stop their enrichment program. Ineffective or not, it is progress. And it lays the groundwork for future sanctions that may have a little more bite.

By: Rick Moran at 6:51 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)


The votes are in from this week’s Watchers Council and the winner in the Council category was yours truly for my post “Mandate Me, Baby.” Finishing second was “Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and McCain Derangement Syndrome” by Wolf Howling.

Coming out on top in the non Council category was “Are We At War? And What Is the Political Consequence of That For Conservatives In This Election?” by Beldarblog.

If you would like to participate in the weekly Watchers vote, go here and follow instructions.

By: Rick Moran at 8:32 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

CATEGORY: Ethics, Media

Executive Editor Bill Keller defending the Times McCain smear:

“On the substance, we think the story speaks for itself. In all the uproar, no one has challenged what we actually reported. On the timing, our policy is, we publish stories when they are ready.

” ‘Ready’ means the facts have been nailed down to our satisfaction, the subjects have all been given a full and fair chance to respond, and the reporting has been written up with all the proper context and caveats. This story was no exception. It was a long time in the works. It reached my desk late Tuesday afternoon. After a final edit and a routine check by our lawyers, we published it.”

The reason no one is challenging what you reported, Bill, is because it is impossible to challenge innuendo and snide implications. If you had come right out and said “McCain is screwing this broad” you would have been branded liars. Instead, you’ve earned the sobriquet “smear merchant” which has a long and illustrious history in American journalism.

As for other aspects of the story, your boast that no one has “challenged” the facts is simply a lie. Former McCain aide John Weaver denies he played the role of corroborating witness to the “intervention” with Ms. Iseman that you story claims:

The New York Times asked for a formal interview and I said no and asked for written questions. The Times knew of my meeting with Ms. Iseman, from sources they didn’t identify to me, and asked me about that meeting. I did not inform Senator McCain that I asked for a meeting with Ms. Iseman. [ed. note: McCain denied any knowledge of this meeting in his morning presser.]

Her comments, which had gotten back to some of us, that she had strong ties to the Commerce Committee and his staff were wrong and harmful and I so informed her and asked her to stop with these comments and to not be involved in the campaign. Nothing more and nothing less.

I responded to the Times on the record about a meeting they already knew about. The campaign received a copy of my response to the Times the same day, which was in late December.

Ed Morrssey places this denial in context:

Iseman had bragged about her connections to the committee in order to expand her client list. Weaver heard about it and told her to knock it off, or she’d get frozen out. Lobbyists collect clients by making themselves appear influential, and apparently Iseman got a little too hyperbolic about her connections.

That’s the extent of the supposed “intervention”—and the Times knew it.

Morrissey’s post also has an interesting twist via Martin’s Politico blog where a former press secretary for McCain thinks it likely the leaks came from lobbyists and not campaign staffers. If true, this would be a far more compelling story of how the New York Times got taken by a couple of shills jealous of Iseman’s access?

In truth, this seems to be where all the various threads come together; Iseman’s privileged position as a friend/close associate/advisor to McCain. It is the cause of the rumored infidelity, the influence peddling, and the inappropriate interventions by McCain on her behalf.

As for the infidelity, the Times story itself never comes out and says it existed because they had no witnesses or documentary proof. To imply that McCain was fooling around anyway was the height of irresponsibility and is the definition of a smear. In addition, other staffers in the know vehemently deny there was anything romantic in the McCain-Iseman relationship.

As for the rest, the rebuttal to influence peddling charges supplied by McCain’s lawyer Bob Bennett is pretty thorough. It turns out McCain did not intervene directly on behalf of Paxson Communications in order to get a favorable ruling from the FCC. What he did was write a letter asking that the FCC get off its butt and rule on the matter. I wrote this at AT this morning:

It should be pointed out that there are 100 senators currently serving and if there is one of those senators who hasn’t written a letter to get some dead weight bureaucrat off his duff and do his job in approving or disapproving a company’s request so that the business doesn’t go bankrupt waiting for the agency to do its job I would be shocked.

Arizona Senator McCain intervened on behalf of a Florida company at the behest of a lobbyist (Iseman) who he happened to be friends with. A credible case can be made that in his capacity as Chairman of the Commerce Committee, McCain was legitimately carrying out his responsibilities. An equally good case can be made that McCain was stretching it. Is this news? McCain himself has elevated his own standard of behavior above this sort of thing so in that sense it is a minor point against him.

Front page news in the New York Times? Doubt it.

The same goes for the rest of the “transgressions” that in reading them seem picky and petty. Again, in the context that McCain holds himself to a higher standard than other politicians, it is a legitimate news item. But plane rides? Letters to bureaucrats? Are these the kinds of “hypocrisies” that rise to the level of front page news in the “newspaper of record?”

No. What makes this front page news and caused the Times to send 4 reporters out trying to dig up dirt on McCain was the sex angle and only the sex angle. The Times thought it had a juicy sex story about a Republican “Family Values” politician and devoted god knows how many man hours to trying to ferret it out. They failed abysmally and know it. Instead of coming forward to defend themselves against allegations of political character assassination, they have hunkered down and decided to try and ride out the storm by staying mum.

Maybe TNR’s Franklin Foer should give Bill Keller a call and tell him how successful that strategy was.

By: Rick Moran at 8:15 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)

CATEGORY: Decision '08, Media

This piece originally appeared on The American Thinker Blog

The New York Times story alleging "impropriety" on the part of John McCain with a female lobbyist has several different angles to it but basically, it comes down to a story about sexual infidelity – a perfect start to the Times effort to smear McCain.

That’s what the Times is peddling. And it is why they decided to run the story despite the fact that the legitimate issues they raise about McCain doing the bidding of this lobbyist is so thin that it’s damn near invisible.

Ed Morrissey nails it:
The New York Times launches its long-awaited smear of John McCain today, and the most impressive aspect of the smear is just how baseless it is. They basically emulate Page Six at the Post, but add in a rehash of a well-known scandal from twenty years ago to pad it out and make it look more impressive. In the end, they present absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing—only innuendo denied by all of the principals:
The scandal Ed refers to – the Keating Five dust up – was carefully taken out of the closet by the Times, dusted off, and presented as news – or as Ed says, filler for a story that had no legs and precious little in the way of facts. Nearly 500 words on a scandal that by almost universal agreement on Capitol Hill, John McCain has managed to overcome and re-establish his reputation for honesty and integrity.

But tying the Keating mess into a story about a female lobbyist who the Times breathlessly reports  showed up with McCain in all sorts of places – including (gasp!) his office – only underscores what this story is really based on; it’s the sex, of course.

The Times reports that McCain promised not to take a direct flight from Washington to Phoenix because he sponsored a bill that added that route for air carriers. But in an apparent back tracking on that pledge, McCain took flights home on corporate jets – including one owned by his supposed ladyfriend’s clients. And just to titillate us further, the Times snidely informs us that the female lobbyist accompanied McCain on one of those flights home.

I don’t know about you but that seems a little thin to hang an infidelity charge on a putative nominee for president of the Republican party.

And who are the Times sources for this story of romantic intrigue and Washington back scratching? Two former staffers, self described as "disgruntled," gave the Times the background of the story which involved nervous staffers running around confronting McCain over the "affair" while pointing out the impropriety of writing letters on behalf of the woman’s clients.

It should be pointed out that there are 100 senators currently serving and if there is one of those senators who hasn’t written a letter to get some dead weight bureaucrat off his duff and do his job in approving or disapproving a company’s request so that the business doesn’t go bankrupt waiting for the agency to do its job I would be shocked.

One other aspect of this story that will be coming out over the next news cycle is that the Times may have been forced into publishing the story before they wanted to. Word is that The New Republic was doing a piece on the Times holding the story and the fierce
office politics involved:

The McCain campaign is apparently blaming TNR for forcing the Times’ hand on this story. We can’t yet confirm that. But we can say this: TNR correspondent Gabe Sherman is working on a piece about the Times’ foot-dragging on the McCain story, and the back-and-forth within the paper about whether to publish it.

Gabe’s story will be online tomorrow.

Update: McCain senior aide Mark Salter tells Time: "They did this because the The New Republic was going to run a story that looked back at the infighting there," Salter said, "the Judy Miller-type power struggles—they decided that they would rather smear McCain than suffer a story that made the New York Times newsroom look bad."

There are reports that one of the reporters on the story, Marilyn Thompson, was so disgusted with the fact that the Times wouldn’t run the story that she quit and went back to the Washington Post (who also features a story on the rumored relationship with the lobbyist).

On Feb. 12, the Washington Post announced that Thompson would be leaving the Times and returning to the Post, her employer for fourteen years. Rumors had circulated internally that Thompson had been working on the McCain piece and was dissatisfied it had not yet run, according to two Times staffers.

Politico asked Baquet if holding the piece had anything to do with her leaving the paper. “I’m not going to go into stories that may or may not run in the paper,” Baquet said last week, declining to confirm or deny that there was such a story. “I had long conversations with Marilyn, and it’s about her regarding the Post as home."
A question might be asked just why the Times was holding the story. Were they waiting for maximum negative impact on McCain? Perhaps the day after clinching the nomination?

I wouldn’t put anything past that crew.

This story will not go away. As with all Washington scandals, there will probably be a drip, drip, drip of new revelations (or information that is passed off as new revelations) to keep the story churning.

One thing is for sure; the next time you hear a Democrat talking about the vaunted "Republican attack machine" throw a copy of the New York Times in their face.

By: Rick Moran at 9:43 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)


It’s downright Orwellian the way that Michelle Obama’s words are being parsed by her defenders these last 48 hours. It is a version of “Newspeak” the author would have instantly recognized. Substituting emotion for meaning was one of the psychological tricks of the totalitarians. Hence, we have those who explain away Mrs. Obama’s statement about her husband’s candidacy – that for the first time in her adult life, she was “really proud” of America – by referring to some nebulous feeling Mrs. Obama may have had when uttering the words:

I’m not sure what Michelle Obama meant, but being a black person with privilege and access often makes you more aware of American inequality, not less, and it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what Michelle was referring to. Try living in say, New Orleans or Newark for a few years and see how proud of your country it makes you.

Being “aware of American inequality” – as opposed to British, French or even Chinese inequality? – is what she “meant?” Perhaps if we were all speaking Newspeak.

And speaking of Newspeak, here’s a fine example – with a little ignorance of the facts to go with it:

They are questioning her patriotism and saying that her statement means she has never been proud or very proud of anything about America before. Their accusations are without merit for many reasons. One reasons is because anyone who is even mildly objective knows that she was speaking in the moment to a crowd. Another reason is that any reasonable person would believe that a woman seeing her husband (of any race) have a real chance to be president would be the proudest moment in her life and no reasonable person would believe she meant she’d never been proud of this country before.

They are questioning her patriotism and saying that her statement means she has never been proud or very proud of anything about America before.

Setting up the strawman while denying in no uncertain terms that she ever uttered the words that she had “never been really proud” of America in her adult life takes a special kind of obtuseness; the kind that doesn’t allow reality to intrude too often into one’s thoughts. The question of “patriotism” shouldn’t enter into the criticism. One can criticize what she said solely on the basis of the idea that both Obama and his wife are extraordinarily self-centered – mesmerized by their own greatness. Like the Clinton’s, “it’s all about them!”

One reasons is because anyone who is even mildly objective knows that she was speaking in the moment to a crowd

Um…no. She made the statement twice. Both times she was reading the speech. There was absolutely nothing “in the moment” about it. If you’re going to excuse stupidity, please get your facts straight.

Another reason is that any reasonable person would believe that a woman seeing her husband (of any race) have a real chance to be president would be the proudest moment in her life and no reasonable person would believe she meant she’d never been proud of this country before

Because she was proud of her husband no “reasonable” person could say she wasn’t proud of America? A logical fallacy if there ever was one. There is no connection between pride in husband and pride in country – none, zero, zilch. But it sure sounds good in Newspeak!

What all this boils down to is that people are refusing to acknowledge the clear meaning behind the unambiguous words of the wife of a man running for president. While Orwell would get a kick out of liberal bloggers employing the tactics of his totalitarians, we are stuck with condemning such “liberalspeak” for what it is – an attempt to use language not as a means of communication but as a means of control. If the words spoken by Michelle Obama do not mean what she clearly intended them to mean then those who can redefine what she meant hold enormous power over the rest of us by having the ability to alter reality whenever it suits them.

I’ve written about this many times over the last three years, perhaps most extensively here. Glenn Greenwald chose to redefine the term “chickenhawk” in order to cut down a columnist who dared take the left to task for their idiocy and illogic in formulating the word in the first place. Greenwald or one of his many fans then altered the definition in less than 24 hours in Wikpedia – more evidence of Newspeak:

Even if Waldo or one of his minions did not rush to alter the Wikpedia definition to reflect his revised, made up definition, the point still stands; when losing an argument, the left invariably tries to change the parameters of the narrative rather than attempt to win on the merits or on logic. They view language with a fluidity that lacks the proper respect for and understanding of the importance of commonality of usage – that we all must use the same reference points when talking with each other. Otherwise, we talk past each other rather than with one another.

Instead of trying to parse and twist what Obama said, the left should have been trying to defend her intent and meaning; that there is nothing that has happened in Michelle Obama’s adult life that made her proud of her own country. (Sorry but I don’t buy the super-parsing between the idea that she was not “really proud” of America only “proud.” The adjective “really” is superfluous to the word “proud.” You are either proud or you are not proud. There are no gradations of pride that I know of.)

It is true that the left has been so ashamed of being liberal that they have desperately sought to cloak their proposals as “post partisan problem solving” or even trying to hide them as “moderate” ideas.” Shame is a dominating feature of modern liberalism. If you don’t feel “shame” for the sin of racism, you are not an authentic liberal. If you’re not “ashamed” of America for its imperialist warmongering, you are just not in the club.

This has been the dominant theme of liberal ideology since the rise of the New Left back in the 60’s, culminating in the nomination of a man who spoke the “New Leftspeak” fluently; George McGovern:

So join with me in this campaign. Lend Senator Eagleton and me your strength and your support, and together we will call America home to the ideals that nourished us from the beginning.

From secrecy and deception in high places; come home, America

From military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation; come home, America.

From the entrenchment of special privileges in tax favoritism; from the waste of idle lands to the joy of useful labor; from the prejudice based on race and sex; from the loneliness of the aging poor and the despair of the neglected sick—come home, America.
Come home to the affirmation that we have a dream. Come home to the conviction that we can move our country forward.

Come home to the belief that we can seek a newer world, and let us be joyful in that homecoming, for this “is your land, this land is my land—from California to New York island, from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters—this land was made for you and me.”

Do you hear McGovern’s echo in Obama’s impassioned pleas for change? Do you feel his shame and recognize it is the same kind of shame felt by Michelle Obama that her country has done nothing right in her adult lifetime that would allow her to feel pride in her America’s accomplishments?

This isn’t a question as some on the left have hopefully suggested that white conservatives can’t feel her pain and that our frame of reference is so different that we can’t understand from where her shame is coming. There are plenty of instances in the last 35 years I have been ashamed to be an American:

  • I was ashamed to be an American when the “smoking gun” tape was released and I realized the President was an obstructer of justice. I was not a supporter of Nixon. But it saddened me immensely to find out the President broke the law to save his political hide.
  • I was ashamed to be an American when the weakest, most incompetent president in American history allowed our hostages – taken in a brazen act of war recognized as such by international law – to languish in an Iranian prison while part of the world laughed at our impotency and the other part wrung its hands in fear and frustration at our weakness.
  • I was ashamed to be an American when the Soviets marched into Afghanistan and our president responded by cutting off grain shipments. This after telling us we must get over our “inordinate fear” of communism.
  • I was ashamed to be an American when I realized my political hero Ronald Reagan traded arms to those same fanatics for hostages in contravention of his own policy not to deal with terrorists.
  • I was ashamed to be an American when it became clear that the White House, the Commerce Department, and other agencies of government were for sale under the Clinton Administration.
  • I was ashamed to be an American when a gay man was dragged by a pick up truck full of bigots to his death.
  • I was ashamed to be an American when some right wing fanatic bombed the olympics in Atlanta. His bombing of abortion clinics didn’t make me feel proud either.
  • I was ashamed to be an American when it was proven the President of the United States lied under oath and denied an American citizen her right to a fair hearing in a court of law of her lawsut against him. He lied for the same reason Nixon lied – to save his political hide.

I’m sure there are plenty of other instances where my government or the country has let me down and I’ve felt shame in being an American. Bu to say I have no frame of reference to feel shame for America is silly and stupid and only reveals the ignorance of anyone who would make such an argument.

The point isn’t that Obama didn’t feel proud of America for any one of dozens of selfless, self-sacrificing acts by the American government or the millions such acts by her citizens. Or taking pride in America’s force of arms to free first Kuwait then Afghanistan and finally Iraq from tyrannical regimes and occupation. One can be so self absorbed as the Obamas apparently are and allow the world to pass them by, taking note of only what affects them personally or their own little worlds they have created be they a community organizer or a PR executive.

The real problem with Mr. and Mrs. Obama is that they may know what Americans want to hear but they have no clue as to what makes Americans tick. Not on a psychological level which is where they are targeting their appeals. But at the level of the American soul.

American exceptionalism is more than empty platitudes about America’s greatness that usually drive many liberals and foreigners batty. It is something most Americans I have come across feel deeply about – so deeply that it transcends convention and becomes a part of our character as a people. Being proud of America is not a prerequisite for patriotism. But it should be if you want to be president. To not recognize the uniqueness of America to the point that you are bursting with pride at a million different times in your life shows a disassociation with the American public that should disqualify someone from being president.

There are troubling signs in his speeches that Obama believes this campaign is about him and his “movement” rather than America and its future. His speeches are self-referential – a trait noticed by both left and right critics of the man and his candidacy. Michelle Obama’s revelatory remarks about how she feels about this country are a part of this denial of the exceptional nature of America. And that is why what she actually said and meant should be taken into account when deciding whether to vote for her husband.

By: Rick Moran at 5:18 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (9)


My latest PJ Media column in is up. I parse the results from last night’s Wisconsin primary and show that the Hillary Clinton campaign is dead in the water with not much hope and and no ray of sunshine they can glimpse that can bring them out of the darkness.

A sample:

Nine in a row. Every primary and caucus since Super Tuesday 2 weeks ago. The Barack Obama campaign juggernaut rolled into frigid Wisconsin and emerged with another double digit win under its belt, leaving Hillary Clinton to ponder the question of what she can possibly do to slow down Obama’s momentum and get back in the race.

In those two weeks, Obama has won contests in every region of the country. More importantly, he has been slowly whittling away at Hillary Clinton’s support among her core demographic groups until we see today that Clinton’s big lead two weeks ago among women, Hispanics, middle class, and self-identified Democratic voters has disappeared and Obama has either caught or surpassed her in support among those groups.

Clinton holds on to the lead among those with only a high school education and those over age 55. But exit polls in Wisconsin tell a now familiar story. Clinton barely won the women’s vote 51-48 but got only 32% of the male vote.

Super Delegates who are interested in winning a general election probably shudder at the thought of a Democratic candidate who does so poorly among men.

By: Rick Moran at 9:57 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)


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By: Rick Moran at 8:59 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

CATEGORY: Decision '08

Leaving no stone unturned in her quest to win the Democratic nomination for President, a source inside Hillary Clinton’s campaign has confirmed that the New York senator will target pledged Republican delegates and try to convince them to vote for her at the Democratic convention in August.

This comes hot on the heels of news that Clinton will go after pledged Obama delegates in her “Win at all costs and then some” campaign:

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign intends to go after delegates whom Barack Obama has already won in the caucuses and primaries if she needs them to win the nomination.

This strategy was confirmed to me by a high-ranking Clinton official on Monday. And I am not talking about superdelegates, those 795 party big shots who are not pledged to anybody. I am talking about getting pledged delegates to switch sides.

What? Isn’t that impossible? A pledged delegate is pledged to a particular candidate and cannot switch, right?


Pledged delegates are not really pledged at all, not even on the first ballot. This has been an open secret in the party for years, but it has never really mattered because there has almost always been a clear victor by the time the convention convened.

But not this time. This time, one candidate may enter the convention leading by just a few pledged delegates, and those delegates may find themselves being promised the sun, moon and stars to switch sides.

GOP delegate from Wyoming Ida May Quanset says she has already been contacted by the Clinton campaign.

“They offered to pay my way to Denver if I would switch my vote to Hillary,” she said. “I tried to explain I was a Republican but all this man kept saying was ‘You’re a delegate aren’t you? You’re going to a convention, right?’ He was quite an insistent young man.”

Another GOP delegate to the Minneapolis convention, Holbrooke Buttersnipe III was giving the offer from Hillary’s campaign serious consideration.

“I thought the offer a a free hooker every night at the convention was a little over the top and said so,” Buttersnipe said. “But they may have me if they can come through with the trip to Disneyworld.”

Everyone knows that Hillary Clinton will do almost anything to win. Does going after Republican delegates cross an invisible line?

“Not necessarily,” says Clinton advisor Jan Nutz. “It all depends on what the meaning of ‘delegate’ is. Nothing in the rules saying a delegate is specifically a Democrat, right? We’ll define what a delegate is our way and let Barry define a delegate his way and may the best candidate win.”

Another Clinton advisor speaking on condition of anonymity due to the extreme sensitivity of the matter indicated that Hillary would also seek delegates going to the Socialist Workers Party, the Green Party, and the Constitution Party Conventions.

“Hell, do they have a convention for one legged midgets? We’ll go after them too. Maybe we can talk to the Shriners.”

The Obama campaign is a little taken aback by this attack on the integrity of the primary process:

“Obviously we’re concerned,” said one aide who asked not to be identified because he’s such a lowly putz he could get fired if the Obama camp found out he was talking to the press. “I honestly don’t know what to say, I’m so taken aback by the whole idea.”

Never underestimate the grasping, voracious, appetite of the Clintons for power…


Alright, so? It was an interesting idea and could still be an option on the convention floor.

By: Rick Moran at 1:35 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

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