Wonder what Stewart and Colbert have to say about Palin? Check it out here!
Friday, August 29, 2008
If anyone thought Obama didn't have any toughness in him, they learned otherwise last night. He plays 'in your face' basketball, and knows how it goes. There is no chance he will roll over and play dead a la Dukakis and Kerry. He sounded tough. He sounded presidential.
Above all, Obama sounded some of the loftier themes he needed to. He called for new politics and urged that this Big Election not be about small things. That line will resonate very well, and will be trotted by surrogates out anytime there's some tiff over a gaffe. It helps him capture the high ground in such cases.
The speech was also very inclusive. He didn't sound the pro-choice call, for example, rather he called for those with differing opinions to work together for common ground. At one point, he put together a list of issues on which the public is deeply (and somewhat evenly) divided: gun control, abortion, same-sex marriage, and said that we could find common ground on these issues and solve some practical problems. Very midwestern.
A curious thing to my mind was including same-sex marriage in this list. Ostensibly, Obama and McCain agree on this (neither supports gay marriage) and that remains a distinct minority position - it is not a left/right divide, but a wedge issue that divides Democrats and unites Republicans in opposition. Putting gay marriage in this litany was, at the very least, an unusually public signal that many in the Democratic party favor gay marriage. Obama did not make a point of stating (as he and all major Democrats have in the past) that he believed marriage was only between a man and a woman. Elevating the gay marriage debate to a place of reasoned disagreement, not a minority outlier position, is a good thing for American politics. I doubt McCain will use the phrase "gay and lesbian brothers and sisters." This was not a major part of the speech, but it was very interesting about where his own thoughts were.
He appeared genuinely angry and authentically so. He assumed the mantle of nominee and party leader with grace. I think the overall impression was that he was ready to be president. While promising a new politics, he also promised to govern from the center. Above all, I thought the setting, the huge crowd, and the speech were magnificent. Literally: magnum + facere - making great.
Posted by The Law Talking Guy at 8:41 AM
On his 72nd birthday, John McCain named the 44 year old Governor Sarah Palin (R- Alaska). Unfortunately, she's not related to Michael Palin. So let's discuss this.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 8:03 AM
Thursday, August 28, 2008
OK, I just got in in time to see the tail end of Al Gore droning on and on about the polar ice caps. Now I care about the environment as much as the next guy but one would hope that he idiot Greens in California and Florida have either learned their lesson or won't matter. And in trying to convince the irrational fringe from 8 years ago, Al Gore was busy convince voters who actually do matter today that Obama is a tree hugging freak! Please, Al, stop helping!
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 6:11 PM
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
For most of the last eight years, whenever I saw Bill Clinton I thought "Come Back Shane! Come Back!" All I could think of was the ending to the movie Shane when the little boy calls to the hero gunfighter, begging him to come back and live with his family after saving the day. But the hero rides off into the sunset. Tonight, Shane came back! And he came back to save the day one more time.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 6:15 PM
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), one of only two openly gay members of Congress spoke yesterday to the LGBT Caucus--which Michelle Obama also addressed! Frank urged party members to ignore the petty differences between them and unite behind Barack Obama, saying,
If Ted Kennedy, in the face of this terrible illness, can come and make that speech, then will everyone else stop bitching about such trivia? Can we not take from him at least that this is about real issues and our lives?
That's why we need more gay representatives. Because they can use the word "bitch" so effectively. Frank also mocked the idea that gays and lesbians were pushing some "radical homosexual agenda."
What agenda? We want to get married, join the Army, and get a job. Some agenda!
Who but Frank could manage to sum up DOMA, ENDA, and Don't Ask, Don't Tell in a single sentence? Frank also compared John McCain to Rick Santorum and reminded people that,
John McCain has been less abrasively but equally substantively homophobic. He's never voted for anything that would advance our legal equality.
Finally, Frank teased conservative politicians for their hypocrisy in daring to ask, "What Would Jesus Do?"
I say to Newt Gingrich, "I don’t think he would have gotten married three times." But what do I know? I’m Jewish.
Posted by Dr. Strangelove at 7:03 AM
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I think that was the best speech I have seen Hillary give. I full believe it was sincere. It had great lines, the Harriet Tubman reference was perfect! I was pleawsed that she asked, "Who were you in this for?" And she went on to ask, Are you in this for me or for the country and these people that I met on the trail?
And Bill beamed with pride. I think there should be no doubt about where Hillary stands in the election. And if her supporters can't vote for Obama now, then they are twisted. And I bet she secured a place on any presidental commission that will develop universal health care.
She couldn't have done anymore than she did. Excellent!
Posted by USWest at 8:08 PM
Here are a couple of links to video clips of John McCain losing his temper. This first one is McCain shredding the leader of a POW/MIA activist at a committee hearing on the subject of POW/MIAs and reconciliation with Vietnam. This is how he talks to his political base!
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 2:42 PM
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 12:08 PM
Pombat asked for links to speeches by Joe Biden.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 4:12 AM
Sunday, August 24, 2008
So McCain is running this ad in response to the VP nomination. They had this ready pretty fast so you can bet they expected HRC would not be the pick a while ago. In any case, this is a pretty transparent attempt to split the Democratic party. It's one thing for a party to squabble among themselves but I wonder what the reaction will be to this kind of unsolicited meddling from the GOP. I expect this ad will be responded to in the convention speeches. There will be lots of references to "unity." I imagine that will be the theme of Hillary Clinton's speech.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 5:58 AM
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 5:14 AM
Friday, August 22, 2008
So we asked to re-evaluate Obama post-VP pick. Here is my impression! Yipppeee! Obama just got way more cool to me. If you all recall, I was a Biden fan from the start. I was set to vote for Biden before he pulled out of the primary. Remember my saying that I wasn't going to take the primary too seriously and that I was going to have fun with my vote and vote Biden. I feel vindicated in my gut reaction to Biden. Here is my take.
Biden does four things for Obama.
1) he fills the foreign policy gap that Obama might have.
2) he will give Obama the benefit of his knowledge of the inner workings of DC, something which you will all recall has also concerned me about Obama. The DC social rules can hamstring a president as they did Bill and HRC.
2) he is a white guy who will appeal to other white guys. But he isn't a WASP.
3) he has a wicked sense of humor and will not hesitate to tell a President Obama, "Sir, you are wrong".
The down side will be if Biden can't control his mouth. I usually find his gaffs to be funny and smart ass, which appeals to me. People are so up tight these days. (Of course you have to have an Indian accent to go into a Dunkin' Donuts. You need one to own a 7-11 too!) It is a bold choice by Obama and shows he has respect for his elders. And if I was a bit cool on Obama, I'm pretty hip on him now.
Posted by USWest at 10:38 PM
Pollsters and those reporters who rely on them will tell you that a Vice Presidential pick hasn't mattered since Lyndon Johnson in 1960, if then. Well, it's true, people don't tell pollsters, or themselves, that the VP candidate selection matters to them. But I think it does. I don't necessarily think the reason for this is that voters say "ah, that's his first policy choice, let's analyze it." I think it's more subtle.
I would argue that picking a VP is a way of very publicly emphasizing or de-emphasizing certain policy and personal characteristics. A VP is like a particular kind of funhouse mirror, reflecting certain things to the public, exaggerating some, disguising others. If Obama picked Chuck Hagel (R-NE) for example, it would emphasize his "crossover appeal" facet. If Obama picked Clinton, it would emphasize his "I'm a Democrat" facet. If he picked Powell, it would emphasize his race. If he picked Claire McCaskill, it would emphasize his obscurity. I think that, mentally, people often sort of draw a line in their heads between both partners in a pair, then begin thinking of both as if they occupied that midpoint. But sometimes the VP pick doesn't work that way because the clash is too great. This process of mental averaging doesn't work when it's black-and-white. If Obama picks Joe Biden, it might just clash and emphasize Obama's lack of foreign policy experience rather than lend him some. It may not be clear ex ante how voters will react. But the effect is likely to be subtle and lasting.
I would argue that in 1992, to voters, Gore emphasized Clinton's southernness and youth. In 1988 and 1992, Quayle detracted from the view that Bush Sr. was copetent. In 1996, Kemp emphasized the quixotic nature of Dole's run. In 2000, Cheney lent Bush some of his seriousness (what pundits today call 'gravitas'). That same year, Lieberman's centrism clashed with Gore's southern-preacher-populist appeal he affected in October. In 2004, Edwards was meant to dispel Kerry's Boston Brahmin image - the clash actually just emphasized it.
A VP, in that way, is a lot like a spouse. That is why the First-ladies-in-waiting matter, I would argue. Hillary made Bill seem more liberal than he was. Laura made George Bush seem more ordinary (turns out he was ultra-right-wing). Liddy Dole made Bob Dole seem a lot softer and more modern. Barbara Bush lent George Bush Sr. some class. Nancy Reagan softened Ronny's corners. Cindy McCain makes John seem rich, out of touch, and ultra-white. Michelle Obama makes Barack look more lefty (and more black - remember, he's as black as he is white, but his black wife and kids lend to a picture).
I believe these effects are more pronounced the more obscure the presidential candidate is to begin with. Obama is less well known than McCain, but he's not that well known either outside beltway circles. "Maverick" is a Washington term meaning (apparently) someone who votes with the party 99% of the time but diverges 1% of the time on a few high-profile issues. Both have a lot to gain or lose in their selections.
Is this scientific? Not yet. Measurable? Tough to do if the effect is subconscious, in the sense that voters won't articulate it. But I think that polling data on, say, Bush's seriousness in 2000 or Kerry's elitism in 2004 might just show that the VP pick was at least temporally correlated with a change in voters' attitudes on that attribute.
So what does this mean for Obama, if true? He has a choice: emphasize economic policy (e.g., Sherrod Brown) or play with foreign policy again (Joe Biden). McCain can emphasize his centrism (Romney) or play with the conservatism fire (Huckabee). Not sure if Huckster will make McCain more conservative or clash with him. Not sure if Biden will lend gravitas to Obama or clash with him, as if he were picking a child picking an adult. Ted Kennedy would make Obama seem, by comparison, too young, or (by emphasis) too liberal. Clinton makes Obama seem very "normal" as a politician, which cuts into his crossover appeal and his message of change, BUT she may lend him the aura of 'acceptability' that some say is all he really needs to get voters to check the DEMS box this year. I think Obama's best shot is to stay away from someone like Biden, who - by trying to compensate - might actually emphasize Obama's flaws. At best, Biden reminds voters of the importance of foreign policy, which is playing to his weakest suit. Rather, Obama should choose someone who connects him to bread-and-butter economic issues. In this sense, Clinton is not a terrible choice. I think the best choice probably would have been Edwards. What a loser.
We will likely know in 24 hours. Monitor your thoughts after the pick. How does your impression of Barack Obama change with the knowledge of the partner he chose? I'll bet it does, like a set of clothes (to use another analogy).
Posted by The Law Talking Guy at 5:48 AM
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Senator John McCain has so many houses he does not even know how many he owns. You can hear him on the politico site. The question was simple, McCain spoke clearly, and his words were not taken out of context. McCain had to say his staff would get back to the interviewer about the question.
Others have now done their homework: Newsweek has counted at least seven homes. Attempting damage control, McCain's staff insist he "only" has four houses he actually considers homes (the rest he considers investment properties) and that some of those seven properties do not count because they are "only" condominiums. So what--as a condominium owner, I don't have a real home? God knows what he thinks of renters... just the hired help?
McCain, a stinking rich old white Republican son of power and privilege dares to accuse Barack Obama of elitism? What the f*ck!? McCain only got into the Naval Academy because his daddy was an Admiral, and he did so badly he barely passed. McCain cheated on his terminally ill wife, then ditched her to marry the $100+ million dollar trophy he parades around with now. I hope they nail him to the wall with this story.
Posted by Dr. Strangelove at 12:18 PM
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) has announced he will speak at the Republican National Convention this year. Lieberman has been unabashed in his support for the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Senator McCain this year (there has even been talk that Lieberman might be McCain's running mate!) and by choosing to address the GOP Convention it appears Lieberman is ready to accept his new colors.
For those who may not remember, this is significant because Lieberman was the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee in 2000 (Al Gore's running mate). Lieberman's subsequent rightward tilt however (notably his unyielding pro-Iraq War stance) cost him the Democratic primary election in 2006 when Ned Lamont led grassroots Democratic activists in revolt. Lieberman only just managed to keep his seat (he won less than half the votes) by running as an "Independent Democrat" in a three-way race in the general election.
Despite his embarrassing loss in the Democratic primary, Lieberman has so far continued to caucus with the Democrats, and his vote has been crucial. Without his support, the Democrats would lose their razor-thin majority in the Senate. But since this Fall the Democrats are expected to gain enough seats in the Senate that Lieberman's vote will not be required to maintain control of that chamber, Lieberman's final ouster from the Democratic caucus is all but certain.
Good riddance, I say.
Posted by Dr. Strangelove at 10:15 AM
As we wait for Obama to announce his running mate, here some thoughts about the political situation as it stands now.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 5:36 AM
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
So adding to the list of reasons to distrust Russia, they confiscated 4 American Humvees in Georgia today. They are replacing Georgian TV with Russian TV as part of their propaganda campaign inside Georgia. They took Georgian troops prisoner. They stand by while South Ossetians and Chechens burn and bulldoze the homes of Ethnic Georgians. Now we can discount some of this as "typical of conflict", it seems odd after a cease fire has been agreed upon. They could rush into the country in a few hours, but can't seem to pull back in less than a week? It is part of a little "terror campaign" or perhaps the "security measures" that Russia and its allies are allowed to conduct over the next 6 months? The icing on the cake, a Russian General threatened Poland with nuclear attack if that nation continues to host the US missile defense shield. NATO called that "pathetic" and promised Georgia that NATO membership talks would continue- although they may be more drawn out than initially planned.
Look, I think that "the missile shield" for what it is worth, is no longer really about containing Russia. It started that way, but I don't think that has been it's primary motivation over the last several years. And I don't think NATO is aimed at Russia anymore, although it would have been wise to disband it back in 1989. However, it has come in handy for taking military action in place of the UN. And it has doused Russian hopes in places like the former Yugoslavia.
However, Russia's continued sense of threat is becoming something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. And it isn't helping itself or anyone else with cold war rhetoric.
Posted by USWest at 1:03 PM
Monday, August 18, 2008
Very soon we will know whom Obama and McCain have chosen to be their running mates. So this is The Citizens' last opportunity to place their bets on who will be the VP candidates for each party. Here are my picks, for your amusement. Note: I do not think either pick is likely--no better than 1 in 3--I just think these are more likely than anyone else.
I know this possibility has been nearly universally dismissed by the pundits. I agree that putting Hillary on the ticket is not necessary for party unity, and I believe Obama will win the independent vote without her. In the past month, however, I feel the chances that Obama will win the independent vote by a significant margin have greatly diminished. I suspect this election will be another battle of the bases. Despite her flaws, choosing Clinton would excite the Democratic base as no other realistic VP choice could.
The surprise winner out of Iowa is the only Republican who can make a dent in the "enthusiasm gap" with Obama. McCain knows he will be edged out of the Independent vote by Obama, so he needs the Evangelical base to come through for him. This is why McCain has been sliding to the right on almost every hot-button issue. Despite his flaws, choosing Huckabee would excite the Republican base as no other realistic VP choice could.
Posted by Dr. Strangelove at 12:46 PM
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 4:19 AM
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Russia is now destroying bridges, burning fields, and advancing on Tbilisi. This is several days after Russia claimed to have ceased all hostilities, days after they agreed to a cease-fire. Russia also continues to occupy what remains of Gori and other Georgian villages, despite loud denials from President Medvedev and the Russian ambassador to the UN that Russians are even there. At least there was some pretext for their original assault on Georgia... But at this point, the Russian government is simply lying. Moscow has shown it has no honor. No doubt the truce Medvedev signed today is equally worthless.
Posted by Dr. Strangelove at 8:46 AM
Friday, August 15, 2008
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 1:37 PM
In all of this back and forth over the Russian-Georgian situation, I have been asking myself where nations like Iran sit on the matter.
LTG says that Russia is not trying to re-establish 19th century borders. He may be correct. But that doesn't mean the Cold War is dead. In fact, I am beginning to wonder if it ever really defrosted. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has an interesting take. Now there are several interesting things in this report, but the part that inspired this post was the following:
At the same time, in March 2009, Russia is likely to deploy modern S-300 long-range anti-aircraft missiles in Iran. By June 2009 they will become fully operational, as Iranian teams finish training provided by their Russian instructors, according to a high-level Russian source who requested anonymity.
While the Russians cry about the US wanting to install a missile shield in Poland, they are doing the same in Iran. Pair that with constant Russian vetoes against sanctions for Iran, and it looks like it's back to "That 70's Show".
Posted by USWest at 10:32 AM
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The US is sending military personnel into Georgia for "humanitarian" purposes. Defense Secretary Gates made it clear that there would be no military force. I hope that this will remain the case. I fear what could happen if things heat up too much. It's a small step from humanitarian aid to conflcit as the PAST has shown.
Of course, the Russians are saying that Georgia can "forget about" its territorial integrity and to prove it, they are remaining in Gori and have moved into Poti on the western coast of Georgia. If their claims that they will support the break away regions are true, then they ought to move back into those regions instead of remaining inside Georgian territory and threatening the Georgian population.
Posted by USWest at 11:42 AM
NYT is reporting that HRC's name will be put in nomination at the convention. This was apparently negotiate between HRC and the Obama campaign. This is said to "honor her historic campaign" and is believed to alleviate anger that many rock-solid HRC supporters still harbor. It may not be a bad idea. It will give her a very public podium to throw her full support to Obama by turning over her delegates and making a public display of party unity.
Posted by USWest at 11:30 AM
In the New Republic, Nate Silver (author of fivethirtyeight.com blog) wrote this excellent piece, which I recommend you all read. I think he's spot on with his analysis of this race so far.
Obama needs to move from the "introducing the candidate" phase (which McCain could short circuit being the celebrity in the race) and move onto the policy argument phase. I suspect that pivot is what the convention will be about. I hope so.
Posted by The Law Talking Guy at 11:14 AM
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 6:47 AM
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 9:58 AM
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 8:37 AM
Nationalists and their apologists like to point to historical events as justification for their invasions. Serbs claim that their military domination of Kosovo and the repression of the people there is justified by some ancient battle there. Russians claim at least a piece of or a right to dominate just about every country that borders the current state of Russia (and some that don't border them) based on the maximum extent of the old Romanov empire. China justifies its actions in Tibet with similar arguments. Many governments and non-governmental political movements (like Hezbullah) argue about historical events - to the point of threatening to assassinate archeologists who dig up inconvenient artifacts. I could go on and on with examples from around the world.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 4:25 AM
Now that there is a truce, we get to fight about what it means.
This morning's Washington Post carries the following (which I excerpt):
"The Bush administration suggested yesterday that an apparent cease-fire in Georgia came about because Moscow feared it would be banished from Western-dominated international economic and political institutions if it did not stop its "aggression" in the former Soviet republic. "Russia has one foot into the international community . . . and one foot that is not," a senior administration official said. Membership in institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the Group of Eight major industrialized nations "is what is at stake when Russia engages in behavior that looks like it came from another time."
It's worth noting that the French, who actually negotiated the cease-fire (their historic thumb-in-the-eye approach to US relations gives them an odd sort of ability to do this) have not made such statements. It's possible this is correct, but it seems more likely that Russia is not as interested in the WTO and the G8 as we would like to believe.
I strongly suspect the Russians stopped because they accomplished their goals of humiliating Georgia and forcing the Georgians (further) out of Abkhazia and S. Ossetia. I doubt the Russians were afraid of being kicked out of international oganizations. That's actually something we should be scared about, since we OUGHT to want engagement with Russia, not isolation.
The Washington Post reports the following also, in connection with Russia's (routine) denial of the US theory:
"The United States "is as much interested in the relations with Russia as Russia is in the relations with the United States," said Vitali Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations."
Now, I think Ambassador Churkin was spot on, if you understand both his meanings. Russia also suggests it will be as little interested in good relations with the US as we are with them. It is important for the next president to realize that relations with Russia and China are as much a matter of choice for us as for them. We can have good relations or not. They are not desperate for our approval or companionship. Engagement or isolation are two differnet paths.
McCain totally does not understand this. He still has the immediate-post-Cold War mentality that the US is the sole superpower in the world, the navel of the universe. He often says that meeting with the US president is some kind of prize that should be carefully doled out. That's why he slammed Obama for suggesting he meet with Iran's president, saying it would legitimize his regime, discourage reformers and encourage Ahmadinejad's supporters. Bush says the same thing, that meeting with foreign leaders is like a gift to them. That's why he says we can't meet with Cuba's leaders, Iran's leders, etc. Actually, most don't see it that way. They don't see us as their legitimizers. The bigger countries are even more dangerous: they will only be as interested in us as we are in them.
That's why the phrase "constructive engagement" must apply to Russia and Iran as well as China. It is a mistake to think of our friendship as a carrot and isolation as a stick. If isolation is a stick, the whole world gets a poke in the eye. If Russia were expelled from the WTO, would this encourage them to shape up and fly right? Didn't we all make the opposite argument vis-a-vis China? Other than the fact that Russia actually poses LESS of a long-term threat than China, given its smaller population and diminished industrial and economic capacity, what is the difference?
We can disagree on this blog as to how bad Russia is, but I think that (most) of us agree that our response must be to draw Russia into the world community, not try to push it out.. certainly not on the theory that they will be desperate to get back into our good graces.
Posted by The Law Talking Guy at 4:19 AM
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Former Republican Representative Jim Leach, who represented Iowa's 2nd District for 30 years but was defeated in a stunning squeaker by Democrat Dave Loebsack in 2006, has announced that he will endorse Obama today. Perhaps Mr. Leach has decided it's time to leave a sinking ship...?
Posted by Dr. Strangelove at 11:43 AM
What is with this daily attempt to pick apart the opening ceremonies of the Olympics?
Yesterday the story was "faked Fireworks" that weren't really faked. And today the story is the switch-a-roo and lipsync of one of the children. This type of stuff is typical in the entertainment business.
Look, it was a great open ceremonies. Quit picking it apart just because it's China!
Posted by USWest at 10:16 AM
In the "So what else did you expect?" category of today's news, Atty. Gen. Mukasey announced he would not prosecute anyone for the politicization of his department under its former leadership. While paying lip service to condemning the now-proven practice of hiring only loyal Bushies at the Justice Department, Mukasey told the American Bar Association yesterday,
[N]ot every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime. In this instance, the two joint reports found only violations of the civil service laws.
Oh, is that all, Mr. Mukasey? Civil servants charged with defending the laws merely violated their own civil service laws? I see. Nothing to worry about.
I eagerly await Representative Henry Waxman's (D-CA) next move.
Posted by Dr. Strangelove at 8:29 AM
The evidence is listed by Taegan Goddard at his blog: CQ Politics: Political Insider. The story apparently has also now got play with Keith Olbermann. While McCain himself is so amazingly internet-illiterate that he probably does not know what Wikipedia is, his speechwriter clearly used it in a hurry. McCain's vaunted knowledge of foreign policy is crap. If Obama had pulled a stunt like this, it would be all over.
Posted by Dr. Strangelove at 8:17 AM
Monday, August 11, 2008
Although I'm not a fan of using ancient history over much as an explanation for things going on today, I do think it has excellent entertainment value. So enjoy this series of links about the time when the Bear got its snout bloodied.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 6:01 PM
The opposition in Pakistan is feeling their power and pressure on Musharraf to resign is growing. The new Prime Minister in Pakistan, Yousaf Raza Gillani, came to power with the backing of the assassinated Benizir Bhutto's supporters. Gillani's government has also increased the military pressure on tribal areas that shelter Bin Laden.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 9:23 AM
BBC.com is reporting that Russian troops have crossed the disputed border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia. They have either taken or are about to take the city of Sanaki. This latest move by Russia makes it painfully clear that they intend to take the entire country and install a new government. Indeed, that is exactly what Georgian President Saakashvili says they are going to do.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 9:16 AM
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 8:14 AM
Sunday, August 10, 2008
The Russians and their apologists are saying that the current round of fighting in Georgia is a response to Georgian provocation. But critics are accusing Russia of using the situation to renew and expand their influence in the region.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 6:48 AM
Saturday, August 09, 2008
So while we watch the Olympics and worry about Russia's latest "Drang Nach Suden" I'd like to have some ballanced coverage here.
LTG and some of us (often me) have frequently gotten into arguments about Russia. LTG is generally very sympathetic to Russia and Russian nationalists' desires for greater influence over neighboring countries (like Georgia, Ukraine, the Baltics, Poland etc). At times he's made the point that we criticize Russia for things that we tolerate from China. OK, let's bash China some too - just to be fair.
China is hoping to use the Olympics to really put their best foot forward. "We've arrived" they want to shout to the world. But there are problems too that keep peaking out of the smoggy haze of Beijing.
First there is the environmental situation in Beijing. The reports are that the air is constantly what LA would call "unhealthful" and often in a state of full stage smog alert. The Chinese government had promised the International Olympic Committee that the air quality in Beijing would be improved by now - didn't quite make it. Even with the emergency draconian crack downs on emissions in area, the reports of the air quality are not good. It makes one think that it could have been far worse! A big reason for the air quality issues in China generally is China's dependence on coal for everything from household heating and cooking to electricity generation. Comparisons to 19th Century Britain are apt. Yuck!
Second, there is the internet and press censorship. When the international press pool got to the Olympic village and tried to log online to work on their stories they found that websites like Amnesty International were blocked by the Chinese government.
Third, there is the Joey Cheeks affair. Joey Cheeks is a former Olympian who is involved in Darfur awareness groups. He was going to attend the Olympics but had his visa revoked just days before he was to leave for China. His main offense was to publicly call for Sudan to observe the traditional Olympic truce (well, Russia and Georgia aren't either so...). Why should China care about this issue? Because China is the major backer of the genocidal regime in Sudan. China has recently been exposed by BBC as violating a UN arms embargo by giving the Sudanese government military aid.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 11:23 AM
While we all sat awed at the opening Ceremonies last night, George Bush sat next to Putin and told him to pull his troops back from the Republic of Georgia. And my Georgian friend sat Skyping her family in Tbilisi. Her mother is a diplomat who was supposed to go to Moscow on Friday. She is now stuck at home with Russian planes flying over and bombing villages and cities around Tbilisi. I am quite biased in favor of Georgia. It is a sovereign country.Russia is in violation of international law.
Here is a map from the NYT to sort or orient yourselves:
1)Georgia has two autonomous republics, and South Ossetia and Abkhazia. North Ossetia is part of Russia. CIA world Factbook confirms that Russia has been supporting these breakaway regions who have unrecognized governments of their own. Russian peackeepers have been stationed in these regions for years. The Georgian central government exercises no control over these regions.
2) In Ossetia, there are Ossetians and a small minority of Russians. This minority is how Russia justifies its claim to the area, that and the fact that Ossetia wants its own country.
3)Claims of ethnic cleansing have been made by both sides and there has yet to be much evidence of such a thing going on.
The fact that Russia has continued to mettle in these regions is part of the reason Georgia has not been able to negotiate a deal there. In fact, in the Spring, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, began to make diplomatic overtures toward these regions to try and work out a deal. Russia did not like that and did all it could to undermine progress.
In 2006 and 2007, Georgia experienced a GDP growth of over 10%. It is working on three oil pipelines with its neighbors and has worked out deals for natural gas with Azerbaijan, which make it less dependent on Russian oil and gas imports. Russia was quite good at shutting off the tap in the winter. Russia has also been "discouraging" Georgians living in Russia to leave, as it has with all of those from its former Central Asian republics. Russia has a record of covert activity that is meant to undermine the government of breakaway areas, especially Georgia.
The US has been training Georgian troops in Georgia in preparation for their deployment to Iraq. Georgia is a very pro-western, pro-American nation that is as strategically important to US interests as is Turkey. It is an important gateway into the Central Asia. Georgia has asked for acceptance into NATO, which Russia strictly opposes and my Georgian friend believes that the current war is Russia's revenge for Georgia's desire to enter NATO. It is Russia's way of reminding the West that it is still alive, influential, and can do what it pleases.
If a cease fire negotiation is unsuccessful, this conflict, oddly enough, could reignite the Russia-West conflict. The Russians have chosen the perfect time, when NATO is tied down in Afghanistan, the US in Iraq, and the world is focused on China.
Whatever "wrong" the Georgians may have committed, and I don't think they really instigated this, the Russian response is far from proportional. They are positioning their fleet on the Black Sea for invasion. The NYT reports that there are 150 Russian planes filled with troops arriving the the area. Towns and villages around Tiblisi have been bombed and causality numbers vary, depending which side is providing the news.
This is not a good addition to the conflicts currently waging around the world. Teh West cannot allow Russia to continue on like this.
Posted by USWest at 9:16 AM
Friday, August 08, 2008
So much for a short-lived political career. Being a Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee is not, apparently, a great place to be. Sargent Shriver, Walter Mondale, Lloyd Bentsen, Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards - what odd careers they have had afterward.
I'm pretty pissed at John Edwards. Seriously, sleeping around on his wife while she's dying of cancer, then parading her around the country? Did he think nobody would find out? What if we had voted for him, and this came out right now, just before the nomination? Game over. All for some ... I can't even say it.
And let me get this straight, even though the Clintons aren't being nominated again, Democrats still have to deal the baggage of lying to the voters about infidelity. All over again. This scandal will hurt the party. Democrats need to turn the page to get past L'affaire Lewinsky. This just dredges it all up again.
Posted by The Law Talking Guy at 10:18 PM
Ossetia is one of the many regions of the Caucasus, like Chechnya or Ingushetia, that most people in the world don't know anything about. The Caucasus, as this map demonstrates, is a linguistic and ethnic crazy quilt. Drawing borders here is rather like trying to divvy up lasagna with chopsticks.
South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia in 1992, just after Georgia declared independence from the USSR. This was not recognized by anyone. So there is a peacekeeping arrangement there (not UN) with Georgians, Russians, and South Ossetians. They are Orthodox (Christian), but align more with Russians than Georgians.
Apparently, Georgia decided to regain control of the province last night after mobilizing reservists and sending them in. Russia has been increasingly exercising de facto control over the region. As mentioned, Russian troops are on the ground as "peacekeepers." Russia responded with massive violence today.
According to the London Times, "The area is of strategic importance, largely because of the BTC oil pipeline, which runs through central Georgia just south of the breakaway region. The pipeline... pumps around one per cent of global crude supplies from the Caspian to the Turkish port of Ceyhan for export to Western Europe but is already closed because of an attack in Turkey last week by the Kurdish separatist organisation PKK."
Some suggest that Russia is trying to distract attention from Abkhazia, another Georgian breakaway region where it has been pressured to make a peace deal and get out. The reasons behind Georgia's decision to prompt a military confrontation are not clear. It may be that Georgia hoped for a fait accompli. I certainly hope they did not expect US planes to come and help them.
It should make sense why NATO, Obama, Bush, and others are calling for *both* sides to back down. McCain's call for only Russia to "reverse course" shows that he does not understand that both sides are responsible for a breach of the peace. He wants to run the Cold War again. I think Russia is very much overreacting, but its soldiers are in harm's way. Grenada, anyone?
Posted by The Law Talking Guy at 4:27 PM
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 10:10 AM
You may have heard about this elsewhere. John McCain has a new program to encourage people to blog favorably for him. Daily talking pointsa re listed for the putative bloggers. Here it is:
"Select from the numerous web, blog and news sites listed here, go there, and make your opinions supporting John McCain known. Once you’ve commented on a post, video or news story, report the details of your comment by clicking the button below. After your comments are verified, you will be awarded points through the McCain Online Action Center."
It's not obvious what the points are for, but other websites say that the points can be used towards purchase of McCain merchandise. Like Green Stamps. Basically, McCain is so lame that he has to pay people to blog for him and provide the talking points to do it. Talk about phony!
Posted by The Law Talking Guy at 9:35 AM
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
There has been some chatter on the blogs recently that Hillary's supporters might place her name in nomination at the Democratic convention and cast their votes accordingly. Much as I would love to watch sixteen hundred delegates stand up and vote proudly for Hillary--much as it would be a cathartic moment for many who supported her--such an exercise would be a huge mistake.
In Hillary Clinton's concession speech, she asked her supporters to put the campaign behind them, imploring us to remember that, "Every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward." That particular sentiment is even more important today. The primaries are finished and the party must come together.
When Hillary addresses the Democratic National Convention at the end of this month, I would like to hear her release all of her pledged delegates and call for a unanimous vote for Senator Obama--perhaps even by acclamation rather than the traditional, turgid roll-call. The Olympics have it right when the celebrate the victor: there is a silver medal, true, but the crowd rises for only one national anthem.
Posted by Dr. Strangelove at 6:22 PM
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
I wanted to start a thread here because we've had discussions about substance and campaigns. I want to be as honest as possible, so I am really thinking about the order of these preferences.
1. First and foremost, I'm voting for Obama because he's a Democrat, not a Republican. There's no point in mincing around on that. This puts me in a distinct minority of the population. Yellow dog, yes I would.
2. I trust him to restore constitutional government and abolish torture. Again, few have put this so high up on the priorities list. I could change my vote if this were to shift.
3. Character. I think Obama the smartest man to run for President in living memory. Period. I think he is also clean, not corrupt - the best in that regard since Carter. Surprisingly, perhaps, I identify with his background (his generation, his career track and goals, but not the racial thing). Also, he's not another damned southern white guy. I'm tired of the Colonel Sanders/Foghorn Leghorn brigade running the roost. Sorry, my prejudice. Again, these views are somewhat representative of Obama's youthful, urban base, but not of the electorate as a whole. This is not about policy per se. I think this point is where Obama's base and the electorate diverge the most.
4. I want a push for universal health care. This is the first real "policy" issue.
5. I want to end the war in Iraq.
6. I want to restore America's reputation in the world.
7. I want more money for education (K-12 and universities), plus sensible reforms.
8. I want action on climate change.
9. I want money for mass transit.
10. I want to move towards a balanced budget.
What do you tink.
Posted by The Law Talking Guy at 12:53 PM
Obama continues to lead the race, but his campaign is starting to stumble. His lead in the RCP national average polls now hovers around 2%, and he seems unable to push his level of support over 48%. His lead on electoral-vote.com has been slipping too. For the first time since mid-May, two national polls have given the edge to McCain. (The Iowa Electronic Market shows a fairly consistent lead however.)
I fear the problem is Obama's energy policy. He seems all over the place, and it feeds the "flip-flopper" mantra from the right. Obama is now prepared to accept offshore drilling as part of a compromise package, something he formerly opposed. Obama now wants to sell oil from the national reserve, a move which he formerly opposed. His campaign needs to pause and regroup before they slip off-message entirely. (Whatever that message is, these days.)
Posted by Dr. Strangelove at 8:17 AM
Monday, August 04, 2008
The economy is slowing, consumer confidence is way way down and people at the lower end of the income distribution are hurting because of high gas prices and related inflation. So what does Schwarzenegger propose? A sales tax hike. Genius. What better way to further slow down the economy while screwing poor people at the same time?
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 6:30 PM
Today, the Obama campaign asked the credentials committee (which it will control) to reinstate the full votes of all MI and FL delegates. For Florida, this is everything HRC wanted. For Michigan, not quite, because it preserves the (minor) difference between an allocation based on the Jan 15 vote (where only Clinton was on the ballot) and the allocation (still favoring Clinton)subsequently approved by the Michigan Democratic Party. This does not change the dynamics of the convention. Obama retains the crucial lead in pledged delegates and unpledged delegates (otherwise he would not have agreed to this new proposal). So now the Michigan and Florida Democratic party central committees are getting everything they asked for. And the DNC is faced with the problem it tried to solve with 1/2 votes: no consequences for violating its scheduling rules.
I believe the BEST way to "punish" a state for violatin g the scheduling rules is to deny it any superdelegate seats. Basically, it lets the voters get their full pledged delegations, but tells the party pooh-bahs that they will lose their right to party with the party if they don't play ball (schmoozing being the whole point of the convention). But nobody ever asks me.
Posted by The Law Talking Guy at 11:49 AM
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 9:21 AM