Archive for February, 2008

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Obama’s Kung Fu Is Strong

February 29, 2008

Well, there I go again; using kung fu as a metaphor.  I can’t help it today, ’cause there’s just no other way to describe what happened. 

First,  The blogs were buzzing about this lame and overly dramatized ad that featured Hillary Clinton as a woman who apparently never sleeps (or, at least, never puts on pajamas) and is able to answer a ringing phone at 3am.   I know what she was trying to get across with this thing (that only she has the experience to handle whatever terrible news that phone call may bring), but I’m not sure it’s really going to work.   Maybe this was the “kitchen sink” we were promised.  I dunno.  Half the blogs thought this would be a better ad for McCain to run.   All I know is that the ad got a lot of attention and reaction on both sides of the spectrum today (complete with some Matchbox 20 references), and there seemed to be an air of anticipation for Obama’s response.  Whether that perceived need was borne from the effectiveness of the ad or simply the hype that surrounded it, I’m not sure, but it was there.

Well, we didn’t have to wait too long.  Within hours:

I don’t think these ads will work this time because the question is not about picking up the phone. The question is, what kind of judgment will you exercise when you pick up that phone. In fact, we have had a red phone moment; it was the decision to invade Iraq.

 Senator Clinton gave the wrong answer. George Bush gave the wrong answer. John McCain gave the wrong answer. I stood up and I said that a war in Iraq would be unwise. It cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars. I said that it would distract us from the real threat that we face, and that we should take the fight to al Qaeda in Afghanistan. That’s the judgment I made on the most important foreign policy decision of our generation.

and…

A reporter asked whether Clinton should drop out after Ohio and Texas. Obama adviser Richard Danzig responded:

“I would encourage you on March 5 to call Sen. Clinton at 3 a.m. and ask that question.”

Ouch!  And most impressively:

You saw that right.  Obama came out with a rebuttal ad…the same day!  Apparently Obama has taken the criticism that he is dangerously slow to counterattack to heart, because I think even the Obama-haters out there would have to find that impressive in and of itself.   That phone rang, and Obama answered.  While Hillary’s camp was spending $100,000 at the deli, Obama was obviously putting together a pretty good team (a quality that would also reflect well on him as president).

Exit question:  Can we expect the political warfare to continue to be fought on the battleground of youtube.com?  The “1984” vid may be revealing the tip of the iceberg.  With a relatively small but competent staff of video editors and sound mixers, a candidate could crank out stuff like this a few times per day.  For free.  The only danger, I suppose,  is the more you put out, the less control you’d have over the message.  This would increase the likelihood of something coming back to bite you in the ass.  But with a well-oiled machine, these kinds of instant rebuttals can be quite powerful and effective.  

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Broadcast The Chamber

February 27, 2008

I figured that I’d have to get around to this eventually….

Introducing the Chamber’s very own YouTube Channel!

It was a long time coming, really.  For years, I’ve had this Sony digital camcorder sitting dormant in the closet, and it wasn’t until I finally got around to purchasing a new firewire-equipped laptop that I was able to fully utilize the technology that makes it possible to actually broadcast my silliness to the world. 

I thought I’d start out with a simple test video, using my dog (Indy) as the unwitting star here on my blog.  As I get used to how this thing works, I’m sure I’ll move on to bigger and better things, but for now….baby steps.

Isn’t technology grand?

Anyway, I was entertaining the idea of having a weekly “rant” or perhaps just my take on current events.  It’s a work in progress, I know, so for now I’ll just be satisfied that the thing actually works (pretty smoothly, I might add).

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Clinton’s Last Stand

February 26, 2008

Well this is it, the final week before what could be the fateful moment in Hillary Clinton’s campaign.  Over the last few days, it’s become clear to everyone that she is trying everything in the book to regain her momentum (and perhaps a few things that aren’t in the book).  Indeed, even a casual political observer would conclude that her campaign is throwing everything they have at Barack Obama, hoping that something -anything- will stick.   From today’s NYT:

 After struggling for months to dent Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy, the campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is now unleashing what one Clinton aide called a “kitchen sink” fusillade against Mr. Obama, pursuing five lines of attack since Saturday in hopes of stopping his political momentum.

The effort underscores not only Mrs. Clinton’s recognition that the next round of primaries — in Ohio and Texas on March 4 — are must-win contests for her. It also reflects her advisers’ belief that they can persuade many undecided voters to embrace her at the last minute by finally drawing sharply worded, attention-grabbing contrasts with Mr. Obama.

Yep, “kitchen sink” sums it up pretty well.  So well, in fact, that I couldn’t help myself:

kitchen-sink.jpg

The problem I see is that I think your average voter can see right through this.  It reeks of desperation, and the scent overshadows whatever message she’s trying to get out there.  That, and with such a convoluted volley, it’s hard to discern what that message is. 

Anyway, it sets the stage for an interesting debate tonight.

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New Hangout

February 26, 2008

I’m happy to announce that I can add one more blog to my list of online hangouts:  Hot Air.  I make special mention of this primarily because it appeared nearly impossible to get registered there (they opened the doors for a period to allow fans of fellow Minnesotan Capt. Ed to sign up), and because this is a blog that I’ve taken a few shots at here in the Chamber (along with a few hat tips as well).   Truth be told, this is one of my favorite sites on the right side of the blogosphere, and it’s been a little frustrating having the RSS feed here in my sidebar and being unable to post a comment when I feel that I have something to say.  So, now I’m finally in. 

One more thing.  Apparently, my first hello post sent a little ripple through the blogosphere, prompting a slightly unintelligible reaction from one of my old pals at LGF:

beachkatie.jpg

Don’t panic.

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Spotted: Another Brobdingnagian Factcheckathon

February 22, 2008

I got the feeling that the rightosphere pulled another all-nighter, as their blogs are all abuzz over an anecdote that Obama used in last night’s Democratic debate. 

First, the anecdote:

“You know, I’ve heard from an Army captain who was the head of a rifle platoon — supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon,” he said. “Ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24 because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq.  And as a consequence, they didn’t have enough ammunition, they didn’t have enough humvees.  They were actually capturing Taliban weapons, because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief.”

Then came the Brobdingnagian factcheckathon (see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.)  These bloggers called BS, because, you know, prior to last night’s debate there was no evidence whatsoever that the Iraq adventure diverted resources from the mission in Afghanistan.  It’s not like the Iraq Study Group said exactly that or anything.

So, what came all this hysteria?  Well, some journalist guy actually contacted the Army captain that Obama was referring to.   And what do you know?

Prior to deployment the Captain — then a Lieutenant — took command of a rifle platoon at Fort Drum. When he took command, the platoon had 39 members, but — in ones and twos — 15 members of the platoon were re-assigned to other units. He knows of 10 of those 15 for sure who went to Iraq, and he suspects the other five did as well.

The platoon was sent to Afghanistan with 24 men.

“We should have deployed with 39,” he told me, “we should have gotten replacements. But we didn’t. And that was pretty consistent across the battalion.”

and

Also in Afghanistan they had issues getting parts for their MK-19s and their 50-cals. Getting parts or ammunition for their standard rifles was not a problem.

“It was very difficult to get any parts in theater,” he says, “because parts are prioritized to the theater where they were needed most — so they were going to Iraq not Afghanistan.”

“The purpose of going after the Taliban was not to get their weapons,” he said, but on occasion they used Taliban weapons. Sometimes AK-47s, and they also mounted a Soviet-model DShK (or “Dishka”) on one of their humvees instead of their 50 cal.

Oh well, perhaps now they’ll get some sleep. 

Nah.  There’s some BS in there somewhere.  I just know it.

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Just End The “War On Terror”

February 22, 2008

Speaking of memos, Newsweek’s Michael Hirsh has an excellent article up today: Memo to President Obama

It is a debate that only Obama can start. McCain won’t bring it up. Nor will Hillary Clinton. Apart from being on the verge of oblivion politically, she is too fully vested in the war on terror, having voted in 2002 to authorize the war in Iraq as part of it. And if that debate doesn’t start, we as a country will be effectively doomed to a “war” that has no prospect of ending. Bush has gradually expanded his definition of the war on terror to include all Islamic “extremists”—among them Hezbollah, Hamas, and other radical political groups that have no ties to Al Qaeda, ideological or otherwise. In doing so the president has plainly condemned us to a permanent war, for the simple reason that we will never be rid of all the terrorists. It is also a war that we will wage by ourselves, since no other nation agrees on such a broadly defined enemy. As Princeton scholar G. John Ikenberry has written, “It is perhaps a paradox—and one that is fitting for the strangeness of our current age—that we will need to end the war against terrorism because we cannot end terrorism.”

This is something that I’ve argued here in the Chamber many, many, many, many times*.  Would Obama have the political courage to change the paradigm in this country?  I’m not sure. 

During one of the presidential debates last April (have they really been going on for that long?), the candidates were asked to raise their hands if they believed that such a thing as a “global war on terror” existed.   Obama, somewhat hesitantly, did raise his hand:

I’m in complete agreement with Hirsh on this.   If we really want “change”, one of the first things we need to do is to start making the distinction between policies of smart counterterrorism and protecting the homeland and a ‘war’ that is, by definition, unwinnable.  John Edwards understood this, but he did a terrible job in articulating it (the “bumper sticker” thing just wasn’t working).  

I really hope Obama gets this memo.

*For a full list of Chamber entries on this issue, check the “war on terror” tag.

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McCain Apparently Didn’t Get The Memo

February 20, 2008

Maybe I was the only one who thought it was a little strange that, in last night’s Wisconsin victory speech, John McCain said this:

“Will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate who once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan?”

McCain was, of course, referring to what Barack Obama said back in August:

“I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges… But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. … If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act, we will.

Now, I’m fully aware that Mr. McCain isn’t the only one that has given Obama flak over this comment.  Heck, just about every right ring blogger and their brother has as well.  But it would appear that neither McCain nor his speechwriters caught this little tidbit in the Washington Post yesterday:

In the predawn hours of Jan. 29, a CIA Predator aircraft flew in a slow arc above the Pakistani town of Mir Ali. The drone’s operator, relying on information secretly passed to the CIA by local informants, clicked a computer mouse and sent the first of two Hellfire missiles hurtling toward a cluster of mud-brick buildings a few miles from the town center.

The missiles killed Abu Laith al-Libi, a senior al-Qaeda commander and a man who had repeatedly eluded the CIA’s dragnet. It was the first successful strike against al-Qaeda’s core leadership in two years, and it involved, U.S. officials say, an unusual degree of autonomy by the CIA inside Pakistan.

Yea…I’m not quite sure how the spin machine is going to reconcile this one.  I guess the logical thing for the Straight Talk Express to do would be to condemn the confused, inexperienced leadership of George W. Bush

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