“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

All Politics is Dirty. The Clinton 3% Solution.

Barack Obama is the recipient of a very tough political strategy from the Clinton campaign. The strategy is basic: Peel off marginal constituencies. It works best in a cumulative and sequential assault.

First, remind everyone that Obama is black, that will cost him let's say 3% who will never vote black. Next, remind everyone he is or has been Muslim, another 3%. He is young and inexperienced, 3%. He admittedly used drugs and until recently was still a chain smoker, 3%. Those four together make for a 12% advantage. That is a very big deal and lethally effective. Obama has almost no defense to such a strategy.

DECEMBER 17, 2007, 9:45 PM
Kerrey Tries to Explain Obama ‘Muslim’ Remarks

Yet another day, yet another Clinton campaign surrogate explaining remarks made about one of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s top rivals, Senator Barack Obama.

Let’s step back for a minute. Former Senator Bob Kerrey, Democrat from Nebraska and president of the New School in New York who has just endorsed Senator Clinton, said this in a dispatch (it’s the second item in the linked post) this morning from Shailagh Murray of the Washington Post:

“The fact that he’s African-American is a big deal. I do expect and hope that Hillary is the nominee of the party. But I hope he’s used in some way. If he happens to be the nominee of the party and ends up being president, I think his capacity to influence in a positive way . . . the behavior of a lot of underperforming black youth today is very important, and he’s the only one who can reach them.”

Kerrey continued: “It’s probably not something that appeals to him, but I like the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama, and that his father was a Muslim and that his paternal grandmother is a Muslim. There’s a billion people on the planet that are Muslims, and I think that experience is a big deal.”

It’s probably not something that appeals to him? We don’t think we’ve seen anywhere that Mr. Obama has disowned his name, and in fact, he recently took heat from the Clinton campaign and Senator Clinton herself for talking about his breadth of experience — uh, foreign experience — by citing the fact that he spent part of his childhood growing up in Indonesia.

Well, Mr. Kerrey’s comments rippled around on Monday, in part because the Muslim-mentions permeate the Internet and are pervasive among the derisive comments on many blogs, including our own here at the Caucus. Mr. Obama’s father was indeed Muslim, from Kenya, but the senator is a Christian, as he says over and over — an especially important point in regions like Iowa or South Carolina where Christians form an influential part of the Democratic voting base. And an especially important point given the anti-Muslim sentiments that rival those of anti-Mormonism when it comes to Republican Mitt Romney, though granted for different reasons, that waft through various Internet venues (including our own).

So today, CNN’s correspondent John King asked Mr. Kerrey in the SitRoom about those comments:

Mr. King: Now, senator, you say that at a time when Barack Obama has to go out from time to time in his events and tell people “I’m a Christian. I’m a Christian,” because he thinks there’s a smear campaign going on under the radar about who he is, trying to maybe peel some people away who might get worried about a guy named Barack Hussein Obama.

So some would say this is cynical — a new Hillary Clinton supporter doing this to try to stir this up again.

Mr. Kerrey: Well, it’s now. … And I think that he is qualified. And the two things that I liked very
much about him, that I think will add a tremendous amount of value if he becomes the nominee and gets elected is the fact that as an African-American he can speak in an authentic way to underperforming black youth, who I think will follow his example.

And, secondly, I do — there is a smear campaign going on. And people are acting as if he’s an Islamic Manchurian candidate. And I feel it’s actually a substantial strength. He is a Christian.
Both he and his family are Christians. They’ve chosen Christianity. But that connection to Indonesia and a billion Muslims on this Earth I think is a real strength and will add an awful lot of value in his foreign policy efforts.

Mr. King: Well, you have to know when you’re about to say something like that, that some will twist it, especially in this age of the Internet and blogs. Did you think about that before you talked about it, or is it Bob Kerrey saying this is what I think; I’m going to say it?

Mr. Kerrey: No, it’s something — by the way, I’ve told Barack Obama when I’ve met with him. It’s something that I’ve spoken about before. So this is not something that just sort of came out in the head-birth (right term, my question?) out there in Iowa. I’ve thought about it a great deal. I’ve watched the blogs, try to say that you can’t trust him because he spent a little bit of time in a secular madrassa.

I feel quite opposite. I think it’s a tremendous strength whether he’s in the United States Senate or whether he’s in the White House. I think it’s a tremendous asset.

O.K. Reel back to last week. New Hampshire’s William Shaheen, spouse of Jeanne Shaheen, Senate candidate and former governor; he is one of the Clinton campaign’s co-chairmen who stepped down after the Clinton camp disavowed his speculation in an interview about how the Republicans would use Mr. Obama’s admitted drug use — in his youthful days, uh, into his college years, doing marijuana and cocaine — against the Democrats. It played along the riding theme that Senator Clinton is espousing again and again that she is “battle-tested,” has no surprises in her background because it’s all out there and has been vetted.

Then this week, Mr. Kerrey — however in character as he is wont to speak his mind — raises the Muslim-madrassa-middlename Hussein of Senator Obama.

Thematic? Who knows. Code? Orchestrated? Anyone’s guess. But let’s think about the cumulative effect. That is what matters. Only words are heard, seen, read … over and over. Playing into wild rumors on the Internet that the Washington Post has already been criticized for reporting a few short weeks ago.

We asked the Obama campaign for comment on Mr. Kerrey’s comments to CNN. No response coming soon, a spokesman said.

Meanwhile, we’ll wait and listen and watch. Whisper campaigns reverberate off the buzz words.


  1. Death from a thousand cuts.

    The Clintons are experts at the techniques.

  2. Too bad they waste energy on the Muslim aspect, when the real story is that the pastor of his Christian Church is a Bigot.

  3. Barack Obama’s Pastor And “Spiritual Mentor”
    As noted in our earlier article, Obama’s Afrocentric, Racist, Church, Barack Obama is a member of a radical church that preaches Afrocentrism, racism and Bush-bashing.

  4. It's ridiculous that this guy came from nowhere just a couple of years ago and is now the leading Democratic candidate in Iowa. It shows what kind of lunacy has swept the country.

    How long has he been on the campaign trail now? Did he actually serve one full year in the Senate? Come on!

    Dems are frightening.

  5. The Dems with gravitis, like Mr Biden, are ignored by the Dem electorate. But the other Dem other alternatives are also pretty light weight. Mr Edwards a hypocrite of the first order.

    I've seen film of this high school football team doing a Tonga War Dance before each game. They were told to stop, or be penalized 15 uyards. The Team voted and chose to do do the war dance and accept the 15 yard penalty.
    Now it is an even bigger issue, that the team won't bow down or take a knee in deference to the Rulers of the Game. That they would dare to accept the penalty and continue their mental preperation for the grid iron battle to come.
    Perfect example of civil disobedience, doing the politically incorrect thing and accepting the consequences.

    The faux outrage towards the Trinity Trojans is illustrative of the nanny state's over reach.

    Personally I find the name of the team offensives, Catholic Condoms, comes to my mind when I hear it.

    performed by opposing soccer teams. It's great suff.

  6. Faux outrage over the Huckabee christian promotions, the "cross" in the background of his Christmas greeting, all it is, a window cleverly framed.

    FOX News saying he should "run on your record" but the Huck's record is as a Christian minister. It defines him. That is his message and qualification for the job he is seeking.
    Seems to please some voters.

    Vote for or against him, but do not defame him for it. The outrage is illistrative of what happens if you begin to color outside the lines.

    Both for the Huck and the Trinity Trojan Tonga Dancers. It's taunting and intimdating of the opponents, in both cases.

    Like o see Oprah and Obama doing the Haka dance, send Hilary and the MSM into orbit, it would.

  7. The three scabs of "our strength is our diversity," multiculturalism and political correctness will be painful to remove, but must be stripped off if we are to regain and remain a coherent society.

  8. Duece,it sounds like you yearn for a society similar to one Hitler and pads did - pure Aryan true and strong! I guess in your case it would be...true blue strong and free?

  9. No Ash, as usual you get it mostly wrong. Hitler was a murdering psychopath. That may have escaped your notice. You need to be somewhat more discriminating when using metaphors or making analogies. They need to be proportional or relevant.

    Your foolish comment that I yearn for a society like Hitler and pure Aryan type is insulting, provocative, juvenile and doctrinaire left wing drivel. It would get you knocked out if expressed in person.

  10. Equality under the law, that is the promise of the United States.

    Not Governmental discrimination.

    For any purpose. Discrimination under Jim Crow was benefical to many parts of the society, and it was wrong, morally repugnent.

    Dicrimination in the name of equality is just as wrong. Just as morally repugnent. As much a violation of equal rights as Jim Crow.

    As I taught my kids, two wrongs do not make a right, and the outcome does not always justify the means.
    This is especially in the case of Govenmental racial or ethnic discrimination, where the end goal of a color blind society of legal equality, it has not been achieved after forty years of discrimintory attempts to obtain it.

  11. Equality is achieved by treating folk equally.

    Input based, not outcome based

    Those aspects of US society that are the most Governmentally controlled, exemplified by public schools and border security, the source of most of the societies current inequalities, as the Government fails in it's responsibilities.

  12. I'm all for equality under the law. The actual law is always of interest.


    Sorry if I offended but is not the strain of thought similar? The opposite of, the antithesis of multicultural society is mono cultural. Hitler tied his 'pureness' to Aryan decent and a will to greatness - the triumphant of the superior to the inferior. He waged war to back up the courage of his convictions. I could have used a 'pure lane' reference (I don't know the french spelling 'pur lain' maybe)but I think that might not have done much. In Quebec the separatist folk are concerned about english diluting their french character. Not only english but anything not french. They want to preserve their culture, their 'frenchness'. Demographics is working against them. They want to prevent this dilution.

    Now, your comment about pulling off the scabs reminds me of the pur lain argument for protecting their cultural rights, or even, Hitlers extreme method of this notion of 'the opposite of multi-culturalism'. Or as Rat succinctly pointed out "Equal rights for All"...."under the law".

  13. Duece you are correct. Not so much the diversity for me but the multiculturalism and political correctness going on in this country has us paralyzed.

  14. How do you delineate between diversity and multiculturalism?

  15. The Tonga Haka dance to intimidating, in it's taunting of the other team.

    So the taunters must be penalized, when the penalty is accepted, considered a small price to pay by a cost benefit analysis, by the team members, ahh... the outrage.

    The Tonga's warrior culture not compliant enough to be acceptable in the multi-culture mix.

    It's outside the PC lines

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Diversity is the Trinity Trojan football team, multi-culturalism is not letting them do the Haka.

    Diversity celebrates the cultures, multi-culturalism makes them all the equal.

    Diversity is the equality of individuals, multi-culturalism the equality of groups.

  18. rat wrote "multi-culturalism is not letting them do the Haka."

    no, monoculturalism wouldn't let them do it. Political activity is where we define what is allowed or not allowed - what our culture will allow, legally. Politically correct is just a euphemism for "deemed correct by a political elite but wrong".

  19. Wrong, again, ash.

    The Trojans are a diverse team, seven or so members of Tonga descent. The rest of the team choose to embrace a part of Tonga culture. Diversity.

    That aspect of Tonga culture embraced does not treat others equally, intimidating them by design. Which exemplifies the opponents inequality, the inferiority of their culture and thus cannot be allowed. Multiculturalism

  20. The equality of the lowest common denominator

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. Is there some law that has been passed making the dance not allowed or is it simply the braying of some vocal group that is in a huff?

  23. The Intermural Athletic Commission or whatever the name of that august group is in Texas, which is part of the Government, the decision based upon rules against taunting.

    Gotta be polite. The Haka is not being polite, by multicultural standards. So a 15 yard penalty was imposed, with the idea that the Team would submit, rather than be penalized.

    It intimidates their opponents, which is one of the premier aspects of the Tonga's warrior culture.

    The strength of the Trojan's diversity, exemplified by the Haka, overcoming the attempt to enforce "equality" by the multiculturalists.
    Which causes outrage.

  24. King Coal marches on

    HOUSTON, Dec 18 (Reuters) - The FutureGen Alliance selected a site in Illinois to build a $1.5 billion electric generating plant that coal and power industry officials say is needed to research and test technology to burn coal and control carbon dioxide emissions which are blamed for global warming.

    Mattoon, Illinois, was selected over another site in Illinois and two in Texas after a two-year process, FutureGen officials said on Tuesday.

    The public-private venture, which includes companies from around the world and the U.S. Department of Energy, was formed in 2003 to design and test technology required to turn coal into a gas that can be stripped of harmful emissions, then burned to produce electricity and hydrogen.

    FutureGen's most ambitious goal is to capture carbon dioxide and store it underground permanently.

  25. I'm trying to wrap my head around the science of holding CO2 underground permanently.

  26. We have a team here called the Orofino 'Maniacs' :)he,he, cause Orofino houses the state nut house(where it is rumored Reverend Doug Wilson spent a few months) which has caused a big toodoo. But, since either we have not succumbed yet to PC, or due to the fact the nutters don't have much of a political base, the name remains, last I heard. If there is a name that ought to be changed, I'd think it might be that one, but I'm not ready to hold a street demonstration over it. It is gross though, like the use of the word cripple, but I've been sensitized by my wife.

    From what I read, there's a long way to go to capture CO2 underground and keep it there. Not just any old underground will do the trick for instance, has to have the right features etc. Why not just build nuclear plants.

  27. hmmm

    Orofino Maniacs (ID) -- Contrary to popular belief, the school's teams were not named for the state mental hospital located near the town; the school was built before the hospital. The early Orofino players were dubbed "Maniacs" due to their frantic style of play.

    I've learned something new, if this is true. But still the controversy around here has always equated the name with the nut house.

  28. Ah, I see, Oprah belongs to the same church as Obama.
    Well, in the early days of our Lutheran Church here, until the merger, we were the Swedish Lutheran Church, as opposed to the Norwegians. Looking back to the home country, or continent, seems an American tradition, but it looks to me that they have the same problem we do these days, that is, turning the church into a political party. Why not give the politics a break one day a week I always says. The Lord rested. We all should do the same.

  29. To reverse the usual procedure, should the sins of the Son be hung around the father's neck?

    Good ol' American free press. Does an absolutely necessary dirty task in my view. I want to see all the skeletons in the closet.

    Hanging a dog?...that's weird, and a red flag to behaviorists.

  30. Judge Orders Hearing on CIA Videotape Destruction (Update1)

    By Jeff Bliss

    Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- A U.S. judge, in a rebuff to the Bush administration, ordered a Dec. 21 hearing on whether the CIA violated a court ruling by destroying videotaped interrogations of terrorist suspects.

    U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy granted a request by attorneys representing inmates at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The lawyers say the Bush administration violated a 2005 court order requiring all evidence related to the prisoners' treatment be preserved.

    ``This hearing is a first step,'' said David Remes, one of the inmates' lawyers. ``It may help us get to the bottom of whether the allegations against our clients were procured by torture.''

    While Justice Department attorneys argued in court papers that the videotapes should be exempt from the 2005 order, Remes said the basis for the administration's assertion is that defense lawyers hadn't provided enough evidence to prove their case.

    ``Considering the government has tried to shroud everything about this in absolute secrecy, we shouldn't be faulted for not being more specific and concrete,'' he said.

    Last week the detainees' attorneys filed classified evidence to bolster their case for a hearing.

  31. ARBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - The president of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region refused to meet U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday because of Washington's tolerance of Turkish military attacks, his prime minister said.

    Rice's unannounced visit to Iraq was overshadowed by an incursion by about 300 Turkish soldiers into the Kurdish province of Dahuk in the north of the country.

    The operation was condemned by the Iraqi Kurdish government of President Masoud Barzani, which has also criticized U.S. tolerance of Turkish previous air and artillery strikes targeting separatists based in northern Iraq.

    "There was supposed to be a meeting between Rice and Mr. Masoud Barzani in Baghdad, but because of the U.S. position regarding the Turkish attacks and bombings, he preferred not to go," Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told reporters.

    "The United States supervises (Iraq's) air space, so it is not possible that a violation of this air space occurs without the knowledge or approval of the Americans," he said. Nechirvan Barzani is Masoud Barzani's nephew.

  32. Justin Logan, zipperhead extraordinaire:


    “Washington spends so much and yet feels so insecure because U.S. policymakers have lost the ability to think clearly about defense policy.”

    Betts’s most devastating point is that even the increases in military spending that have been proposed by the most hawkish presidential candidates would be woefully inadequate for supporting their imperial foreign policies. He sees “a defense budget caught between two stools: higher than needed for basic security but far lower than required to eliminate all villainous governments and groups everywhere.”


    (Over that fit of full-blown jack-assery of night before last, Rat? I trust it was the Jaegermeister.)

  33. That afternoon of playing make believe, trish?

  34. Ash is a literalist:
    Multicultural means an openness to all cultures in his fantasy world
    Tell that to any prominent right-wing speaker like Dave Horowitz or Justice Thomas, Ash wrt to the welcome mat extended to them when they attempt to speak on a multicultural-friendly campus!

  35. Cutler is and always has been the least provocative, least contentious, least offense-giving soul at the Bar (save Buddy, perhaps) and your response was both ugly and unwarranted.

    Your signal virtue, when it shows, is that you engage all - curmudgeonly, perhaps, but without abuse.

  36. I demand to see Huckleberry's sermons. I smell some embarrassing do-do in those sermons.

  37. Because the multiculturalists distain real diversity.

    Diversity proves the inequality of grouped outcomes.

    All individuals should be equal under the law, but people are not equal in abilities.

    Equal opportunities not resulting in equal outcomes.

    When the Government then fails in its' responsibilities, like it has in education, the individual disparities magnify.

    Which is then blamed upon the successful. Discrimination the foisted upon the culture of the successful cultural subgroups.

    Exemplified again in education, the Koreans and other Asiatic cultures doing well in LA schools. Schools where 50% of the black or hispanics drop out.

    Same schools, same opportunities, disparate outcomes. Based upon varied cultures of the students and their families, the reality of which is then denied by the multiculturalists.

    It being unfair to allow college admissions based soley upon performance, so discrimination must be utilized to norm the mean to the lowest common denominator.

  38. I did not claim he was pompous, until he brought it up.
    All I said was that the Iraq War was "settling old scores" or some such, as he said would be the case after the US was next attacked.
    I was saying his projection was correct, in judging the US Government's reactions to another attack. Based upon past performance in Iraq.

    He said that the US, in Iraq, was just playing make believe.
    Jr would disagree, as he has friends that were really killed and/or savagely wounded, there in the land of playing make believe.

    Senor cutler could have ceded the point, or not. The choice of words was his. He chose to defend them.

    I do not think he bled, we were just playing make believe.

  39. "He said that the US, in Iraq, was just playing make believe.
    Jr would disagree, as he has friends that were really killed and/or savagely wounded, there in the land of playing make believe."

    I'm not buying the aggressively prickly defensiveness, rat, and wisely neither did cutler, for what he meant is exactly what all of us have meant over the course of our discussions on the war.

    If you intended simply to correct the young man's choice of phrase, you'd not have concretely accused him of cowardice.

    Beneath you it was, oh Warrior Prince.

  40. Didn't do that until accused of being pretenious.

    Which he did immediately in his response to my mentioning the 4,000 KIA.

    I did, and still do not, think that to remember the dead is a sign of pompousness.

    If you decide you're going to draw first blood, kill 'em.
    A good lesson for any young recruit to learn.

    It's certainly a lesson analogous to the situation in Iran or Iraq, for that matter.

  41. There are many methods to measure performance and arbitrarily selecting one is not always useful toward predicting future outcomes.

    Schools are not all the same.

    I do share your distaste for Government to attempt to socially engineer. Providing subsidized spaces to poor peoples kids can be beneficial to us all.

  42. Besides, it drew the alderman out of the woodwork.

    He had that high fiber muffin recipe all ready, in the oven.

  43. Beneath you, as well, to start spelling America with a 'k'.

  44. Yes, and WHATEVER would we do without the alderman?

  45. Sometimes it fits the situation, that "k".

    Most times it does not.

    Which is why I don't often use it.

    But it does draw attention when it is used, which is the point, after all, of using it.

  46. Then again, I do not often use America as synonymous with the United States, either

  47. Huckabee kickin' ass with his Christmas ad. The talk of the cable tv networks.

    Oh me, oh my.

    No grinch here, the Huck is all about a Merry Christmas.

    Ari Fleisher says he has to explain who he is, which these "Christian Leader" ads certainly are doing.
    To Mr Romney's disadvantage, in Iowa at least.

  48. A Very Merry Christmas in every home! Vote for Me!

    What the hell have we come to?

  49. Beats, Bah, Humbug, I quess. But it seems a little lacking on...specifics.

  50. How will "Charlie Wilson's War" do at the box office, do you think?

    I'd bet on a blockbuster, good cast, in a war story where the US "wins".

  51. That the ad is controversial is as intersting a talking point as any.

    The Huck shouldn't talk about Christmas?

    The whole process this cycle seems a tad beezar

  52. I'm bettin' it won't do too well (unless it is really really good) 'cause most folk don't want to think about war at all right now.

    "Geeee honey, the ole Iraq war was so fun I'm just itchin' to go watch Charley Wilson's war, wanna come along?"

  53. weeelll, I could be wrong after seeing the trailer. War is fun, maybe?

  54. Allrighty now!..National Enquirer headline--John Edwards 'love child' scandal, developing--Hillary at work?

  55. Ash, you better come to America, you're missing all the 'fun'.

  56. Watched the trailer three times, it gonna be a hit.

    It's got the cast and the US wins.

    Tom Hanks as a new age John Wayne
    Julia Roberts as Julia Roberts.

    Can't miss.

  57. Haka war dance. It's rugby, not soccer.

  58. All guys in shorts, dancing on a grass field look like soccer players to me.

    Though rugby IS a tad tougher game to play.

  59. Tongans play the roughest games of all.

  60. I'm bettin' it won't do too well (unless it is really really good) 'cause most folk don't want to think about war at all right now.

    My liberal, Democratic, anti-war wife volunteered that she wanted to see it. I said "Honey I know it has Tom Hanks and The Closer in it, but do you know it's a story about how the CIA under Ronald Reagan defeated the Soviet Union?" "I still want to see it" she said. "It looks good".

    Go figure.

    As for the Huckster's Christmas Ad, he's just rallying his evangelical base and poking his finger in the eye of the PC crowd. This election's Barry Goldwater or not, I'd vote for him if he showed any inclination for controlling the borders followed by real immigration reform.

  61. Hillary plays rough. If she were a republican, she'd have gotten and leaked some of those closely held sermons by now.

    Never trust a man that won't reveal his sermons, I always say.

  62. They like Samoans, doug?

    Knew some Samoans in the Army, some nice big boys, that's for sure. Better to have 'em with ya, than agin' ya.

  63. Never trust a man who reeks of snake oil and wears his heart on his sleeve.

    DES MOINES, Iowa - Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney was driving to his home in Massachusetts when he first heard that the LDS Church allowed black people to take the priesthood in 1978.

    It was such a powerful moment that he pulled to the side of the road and wept.

    Especially when the historical record doesn't exactly support the emotion.

    At the time, the Mormon Church excluded blacks from full membership, considering them spiritually unfit as the result of a biblical curse on the descendants of Noah's son Ham.

    A handful of students and prominent Mormons called for an end to the doctrine, but Romney wasn't one of them.

  64. "My liberal, Democratic, anti-war wife..."

    And your wife is saying, "My conservative, Republican, pro-war husband..."

    I've long wondered: How can ANYBODY stand to be married to an ideological opposite? Do you just together ignore all things political and intellectual? Are political and intellectual beliefs commonly so shallow that they don't matter in the closest romantic bond of human beings?

  65. Do you just together ignore all things political and intellectual?
    We don't talk politics, Trish. We studiously avoid it. But we share many things more important - raising kids, love of family, marital fidelity. We share common intellectual pursuits in the University and collaborate on research projects. We are both musicians (non-professional)and our love of music is a strong bond.

    But your intuition is correct, if the politics were central to our interactions, we wouldn't have lasted very long. As it is we're content just to cancel each other's votes at the polls.

  66. Anyone read the book on Charlie Wilson's War? I did last year. A very ironic book. I'll have to see the movie.

  67. Keep your whits about you, trish.
    Doubt they'd trade you for nothing but political points for Hugo.

    The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, said in a statement e-mailed to the Bogota office of Cuba's Prensa Latina news agency that it would free Betancourt aide Clara Rojas, Rojas' son Emmanuel, and Consuelo Gonzalez, a former congresswoman kidnapped in 2001.

    The statement, dated Dec. 9, did not say when the three would be released, but did say they would be freed in Colombia to "Chavez or someone he designates." Chavez had been trying to negotiate a prisoner swap between the rebels and the Colombian government before Colombian President Alvaro Uribe called him off last month.

    Prensa Latina was the only news organization known to receive the statement, which it provided to The Associated Press. Rafael Calcines, a Prensa Latina correspondent in Bogota, said the statement came from an e-mail address from which the agency had received past FARC communications.

    The FARC had offered to release 46 high-profile hostages, including Betancourt and three U.S. defense contractors, in return for the release of hundreds of imprisoned rebels. Chavez was trying to work out a swap, but last month Uribe said Chavez had overstepped his mandate by directly contacting the head of Colombia's army.

  68. Huckabee is courting evangelical voters and other religious conservatives in his bid to win the Iowa caucuses Jan. 3. In Texas for a fundraiser, he said the ad was a harmless holiday greeting even though it excludes other religions.

    "If we are so politically correct in this country that a person can't say enough of the nonsense with the political attack ads could we pause for a few days and say Merry Christmas to each other then we're really, really in trouble as a country," Huckabee said.

    Catholic League president Bill Donahue said Huckabee went beyond wishing people a joyous holiday. Donahue said he was especially disturbed by the cross-like image created by a white bookcase in the background of the ad, saying he believed it was a subliminal message.

    "What he's trying to say to the evangelicals in western Iowa (is): I'm the real thing," Donahue said Tuesday on Fox News Channel's "Fox and Friends. "You know what, sell yourself on your issues, not on what your religion is."

    Huckabee said the bookshelf is just a bookshelf and shrugged off the controversy: "I will confess this: If you play the spot backwards it says, 'Paul is dead. Paul is dead.'"

  69. What's up with the Cutler/Trish love-in?

  70. Some clips from the film, it releases on Friday, the 21st.

    In #2, Ms Roberts describes a what it takes for a war, to not be playing pretend.

  71. That's pretty funny. Donahue is paranoid.

  72. One secret of a happy marriage is just agree with the wife about politics. It's why I'm for Romney. Just put on an act, like Ms. T. or not.

    It's a trick I learned from my mother-in-law. Just agree with everybody. Works too.

    God Bless The Secret Ballot.

  73. According to her, I was involved a real war.

    Heavens to Betsy!
    And all this time I thought we was just playin' make believe.

  74. Think of all those romantic tales, Trish, where the lad and lass fall for each other cross the political divide. Think Romeo and Juliet.

    Why should I care about Russian or Spanish politics, with that girl sitting over there...
    W.B. Yeats (roughly)

  75. The real people both Charlie and the Socialite. Real life folk

  76. A political discussion between Red State conservative Dave Simpson - a former reporter, editor, publisher and columnist - and Greg Bean, Blue Stater and executive editor of Greater Media Newspapers. Let us know what you think.

    Dear Greg:

    The Red States are abuzz this week over news that Sean Penn has endorsed Your Guy Dennis Kucinich for president.

    (I know you don't like it when I call all Democratic candidates "Your Guy" or "Your Gal," but if you expect me to defend everything Mike Huckabee ever said, I get to do the same.)

    I'm sure Iowans were waiting with bated breath to hear who Penn, bosom buddy of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, thinks should be our president. You'll recall that two weeks ago, Venezuelan voters had the good sense to reject Chavez's bid to become president for life, and now we'll see if Iowa caucus voters have as much on the ball.


    Dear Dave:

    You know, I'm starting to get a little worried about you, pardner. You're so desperate to find something positive about Rudy Giuliani, you're boiling the desiccated bones of the Thanksgiving turkey in the hope of making soup - in this case, trying to make the point that because Rudy doesn't have any celebrity endorsements he's somehow better than the rest of the pack who do.

    It isn't the fact that Hollywood hates a Republican, Dave. If that were true, Ronald Reagan (your hero and a Great American) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (another Great American) would have spent their twilight years playing the crazy uncle in cut-rate adventure movies.

    Red State/Blue State

  77. According to local lore, they like Samoans for lunch.

  78. Swinging a machete 60ft up a Palm tree, and the climb to get there, leaves them fit for the task.

  79. Huckabee reminds me of Mo Udall, the last great punster and jester on the campaign trail who every candidate wants to quote but not emulate. "I'm Mo Udall and I'm running for president," the failed Democratic candidate said, walking into a shop. "Yeah," replied the barber, "we were just laughing about that." Candidates don't repeat Udall's better lines, like his observation that the difference between a cactus and a caucus is that with a cactus, the pricks are on the outside.

  80. A captain on a ship I raced on used to tell us the secret to long marriage - two words, that's all you need. Use them often, all the time he said "YES DEAR". That was it.

    He made it to his 50th wedding anniversary. Then they separated and got divorce. Gotta be some irony in there somewhere.

  81. I hesitate to bring it up again, because it really doesn't matter. Yet, there's times to be docile and times not to be, this is probably the latter.

    There are a number of ways to serve your country. The majority of them are not on the national level and do not involve the federal government in any manner. Military service is, of course, only one that does. It’s attractive to me for a number of reasons, but if it wasn’t, I’d still have nothing to apologize for. Thankfully, we’re as of yet neither the Spartans nor the Prussians, though we attempt to play the part at times.

    You (Desert Rat) made a number of unwarranted assumptions, some more flagrant than others, puffed them up as some sort of noble stand. In the face of their unfairness and borderline hypocrisy, you chose to dissemble.

    Yeah, that's about where I'll leave it.

  82. When Mo ran, there was little concern about his Mormon religion.

    But then again, Mo didn't have to distract folk from his flipped flopped position on abortion. I don't even remember Mo's position on abortion. Got nothing to do with the Presidency, abortion.

    Congress not controlling the
    "Courts Gone Wild",
    the only Branch that could.

  83. Mo Udall: "Lord, give us the wisdom to utter words that are gentle and tender, for tomorrow we may have to eat them."

  84. The ability to change one's views without losing one's seat is the mark of a great politician.
    Mo Udall

  85. Desert Rat: I don't even remember Mo's position on abortion. Got nothing to do with the Presidency, abortion.

    John Paul Stevens is 87. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is 74. Sometime in the next four or eight years they will probably either retire or be recalled by a Higher Authority. If a Donk is in the White House there will be no change to the ideological makeup of the SCOTUS.

  86. I said the casualties were not playing pretend
    You said I was pretentious to mention it.

    I objected to your pompousness in dismissing those casualties, still do.

    You can leave it at that or we can continue, as you say, it does not sweat me, either way.

    I'd have not brought it up again, but for Ms Trish revving the engine.

  87. If a GOPer is in, there will not be, either.
    The Dems will continue to hold at least 40 seats in the Senate, more likely, after November, they'll approach 60 seats on their side of the aisle.

    Ask Judge Bork about the power of the Senate in regards the Supremes, oh, that's right, he's not a Judge any more.
    Didn't make the cut.

  88. "I've long wondered: How can ANYBODY stand to be married to an ideological opposite? Do you just together ignore all things political and intellectual? Are political and intellectual beliefs commonly so shallow that they don't matter in the closest romantic bond of human beings?"

    Not marriage, clearly, but I haven't had a single girlfriend who would fit the profile (though this begs the question of how many there are out there...)

    Ideologically leftist or soft liberal, every one. Got annoying sometimes, but mostly attempted to stay away from politics. Current one's mostly apolitical.

    I'd love to be able to talk politics on a deeper level with someone, but it's also a scary thought to me that a relationship would ride on ideological agreement. Which brings to mind the quesiton of what the relationship would be worth in that case, but still... Thankfully I've got some heavily political friends that can release the pressure.

  89. John Lott makes a prediction---

    Prediction: Hillary Clinton to come in third in Iowa
    Edwards and Clinton are tied for second, but Edwards appears to be every Democrat's second choice. If a candidate doesn't have at least 15 percent of the voters at a Caucus site, those voters have to choose another candidate. I don't think that Hillary will pick up many votes there, but Edwards will.

    So what will this do to her supposed invincibility? What will this do to her very narrow leads in NH and South Carolina? The polls showing her far ahead in Michigan are over a month old and I am not sure that they are worth very much right now.

    Barack Obama is the top 2008 United States presidential contender for Democratic Party supporters in Iowa, according to a poll by Research 2000 released by the Quad City Times. 33 per cent of respondents in the Hawkeye State would vote for the Illinois senator in January’s caucus.

    New York senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and former North Carolina senator John Edwards are tied for second with 24 per cent, followed by New Mexico governor Bill Richardson with nine per cent, Delaware senator Joe Biden with three per cent, Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich with one per cent, and Connecticut senator Chris Dodd also with one per cent. . . .

    Does this explain the ooze seeping out about Edwards and a 'love child'?

  90. Another poll----

    From NBC’s Domenico Montanaro
    In an InsiderAdvantage poll in Iowa, Edwards leads among (977) likely voters 30-26-24 over Clinton and Obama. Edwards is also the clear second choice winner, 42-29-28 over Clinton and Obama. This is the first poll to show Edwards solely in the lead in Iowa since July.

    Among highly likely caucus goers (of which there are 633), though, the three are deadlocked: Obama 27, Edwards 26, Clinton 24. Edwards again wins second choice, 42-31-27 over Clinton and Obama. The poll was conducted Dec. 16-17 and has a margin of error of 3% for the likely voters section and 4% for the highly likely voters section.

    On the Republican side, among (833) likely voters, here are the numbers: Huckabee 28, Romney 25, Thompson 10, McCain 9, Paul 6, Giuliani 6. Among (418) highly likely voters, Romney leads with 28%, then Huckabee 25, Thompson 11, McCain 7, Paul 6, Giuliani 5, Tancredo 4.

    A national Diageo/Hotline poll shows a narrowing between the Democrats and a tight race on the Republican side. The Dems: Clinton 35%, Obama 30, Edwards 14. The Republicans: Giuliani 21%, Huckabee 17, Romney 13, Thompson 11, McCain 10, Paul 7.

  91. "Anyone who is surprised at this is an abject fool. Everyone in North Carolina knows Edwards can't keep "Little John" in his pants."

  92. DR: Ask Judge Bork about the power of the Senate in regards the Supremes, oh, that's right, he's not a Judge any more.

    Bork was Borked for firing the Watergate special prosecutor on that infamous Saturday night of Oct 20, 1973. It was payback more than a decade later.

    This is the age of the Roberts/Alito type stealth candidates.

  93. Ed Schulze the libral radio talkshow personality was fair and open minded about Hillary until now, but this leak of sludge has tipped him over to the point where he now says he doesn't want Hillary to be President.

  94. Soutfellow: An apt and altogether endearing explanation of the longevity not only of politically diverse marriages, but of societies as well. Many happy returns.

    (Speaking only for myself, though, it'd drive me nuts.)

  95. But Andrew Young may be the real daddy!

    Take a hint, T!

  96. Stealth, you mean like Justice Anthony M. Kennedy?

    The positions of Mr Roberts and Mr Alito were both well known, they both had records. That the Democrats let them through, just the way the Democrats are, not a reflection on the stealthiness of those nominees.

  97. Trish: I've long wondered: How can ANYBODY stand to be married to an ideological opposite?

    Two people with the same hardline stance and muscular policies can seem like being stuck in a prison after a few years. No?

  98. Or Justice Souter, talkin' about stealth, or was it Bush41 that was the stealthy one?

    Patriarch of the Bush family of liberal NorEasters.

  99. The style of someone's character, cutler, his or her own personality, I think has of presence of place in a relationship, and specific ideas/philosophy/politics are secondary, if that. I understand this. I'm just not one of those people who could be married to someone that I'm fundamentally, philosophically at odds with - though related to a few, and I adore them utterly.

  100. So do "real" Yankees still exist in New Hampshire? Sure, you'll find some of the rural variety in towns along the Upper Connecticut River Valley, and then there's U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, whose family arrived in these parts in 1719.

    But then again, who could be more New Hampshire nouveau Yankee than the Lebanese American Sununu family: John H. Sununu, who was the state's governor and then White House chief of staff to George H.W. Bush, and his son, John E., who is a U.S. senator?

    "In the end, what you think of as Yankee qualities do persist," said David H. Watters, the director of the Center for New England Culture at the University of New Hampshire. "But you'll find them in people with a lot of non-Yankee names."

    Names Change

  101. Two people with the same hardline stance and muscular policies can seem like being stuck in a prison after a few years. No?

    Tue Dec 18, 09:17:00 PM EST

    Oh hey, my kids would tell you it's a gas.

  102. It'd be a hell of a boring conversation, always agreeing on everything, reinforcing each others opinions, like a... democratic convention, like...zombies.

  103. After a recent spat of praise-worthy national stories about Des Moines (They like us. They really like us.), available tables at some of the hotter restaurants around town are fading fast.


    Hotels in the metro - especially downtown - are filling up. THE HOTEL FORT DES MOINES, host to Hillary Clinton's entourage and Fox News, has been booked since October.


    Wanna know how the media is spending New Year's? More than 200 have already RSVPed to the bi-partisan "Raucous Before the Caucus" New Year's Eve party at THE TEMPLE FOR PERFORMING ARTS.

    New Year's Eve

  104. Lily white Idaho lines up behind Obama---Boise AP--

    Campaign officials for Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama are touting a new batch of endorsements from Idaho Democrats.

    The endorsements announced Monday include Idaho's House Minority Leader Wendy Jacquet(an airhead-bob)of Ketchum, state senator Mike Burkett of Boise and Ada County Comminssioner Paul Woods.

    Officials say they have also received the backing of Jerry Brady, the democratic nominee in Idaho's gubernatorial race last year.

    They are the latest batch of Idaho Democrats to swing in favor of Obama....Last month, Obama opened a campaign office in Boise, and he is the top fundraiser among Idaho Democrats.
    The remaining 29 democrats in Idaho are undecided.

  105. Magna Carta Sells for $21.3M in New York.

    NEW YORK (AP) -- A 710-year-old copy of the declaration of human rights known as the Magna Carta - the version that became part of English law - was auctioned Tuesday for $21.3 million, a Sotheby's spokeswoman said.

    The document, which had been expected to draw bids of $30 million or higher, was bought by David Rubenstein of The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, the spokeswoman said.

    Sotheby's vice chairman David Redden called the old but durable parchment "the most important document in the world, the birth certificate of freedom."

    The document was owned by the Perot Foundation, created by Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot, since the early 1980s. It had been on exhibit at the auction house for the past 11 days.

    Bearing the seal of King Edward I and dated 1297, it is one of 17 known copies of the historic tract that defined human rights as the foundation for liberty and democracy as it is known today. It is one of two that exist outside Britain; the other is in Australia.

    The Perot Foundation bought its copy from a British family for $1.5 million.

    Sold $21.3M Paid $1.5M Adjusted for inflation--ol' Ross still has his touch.

  106. Britain's oldest colony, Bermuda has significant autonomy of government, although the British governor still has control of the police, military and aspects of the judiciary.

    The crisis revolves around the island's premier, Dr Ewart Brown, whose Progressive Labour Party (PLP) is waging an aggressive campaign to improve the lot of black Bermudians. Dr Brown - who was expected to be re-elected in the general election yesterday - has drafted laws allowing government inspectors to enter the offices of global firms and to fine them if they do not employ enough black workers or promote them to enough senior positions.

    Such measures have won strong support among the grass-roots. Of the island's 42,000 Bermudians, 70 per cent are black, the vast majority of whom were expected to vote for the PLP.

    Equality Helps Bermudians?

  107. Ash,

    My parents have been married for 43 years. Absolutely devoted to one another.

    My mother likes to tell the story of being a very young, very poor, very miserable Army wife at Bragg. "The only thing that kept me from leaving was that I couldn't afford bus fair home."

    When, just before my husband's third consecutive Balkan Christmas , I demanded she tell me how she could remain married to someone (my dad was still in at the time) who was always leaving for some damn place, she said without pause, "Because there's no one else like him." (Quite right about that.) A few wise words many years ago, and in April we will celebrate our 22nd anniversary. Together, hopefully.

  108. Kosovar society is mainly secular, the Islam there is moderate and will remain so since the new state will have no existence outside of the European area.

    The desire - in the entire Balkans - to be annexed to that area is also what will render the bloodbath hypothesis unlikely.

    In the end, Israel must be part of the democratic and enlightened world that recognizes both the self-determination of an oppressed people that has recently experienced slaughter, rape and ethnic cleansing, and its national aspirations.

    Kosovo, in Israeli Eyes

  109. With a per capita GDP 50% higher than the US, that'd be around $68,000 USD.

    There are 42,000 people, hardly a citys' worth.

    $2.85 Billion USD.

    $2.28 Billion the 80% share for the companies listed

    $.47 Billion or $470 million for the 42,000 folk.

    $11,190 per capita

    How that is dispersed amongst the 42,000 residents, 70% Black.
    I'd guess each black per capita under $5,500 per year, or less, around 10% to 12% of the US.

  110. "Keep your whits about you, trish."

    They avoid the black passports. More than they care to bite off. (Knock on wood.)

  111. After his winning performance in the Des Moines Register's debate, Thompson has embarked on a lengthy bus tour of the state. During these final days, his campaign says he'll hold events in 50 communities and will visit 54 of the 99 counties.

    On Monday, he picked up the surprise endorsement of Congressman Steve King. Of all the endorsements flying around these days, that one could move the most numbers.

    It sends a powerful signal from one of Iowa's most conservative leaders to others on the right around the state: We've now got a horse we can ride.

    Edwards, Thompson

  112. My wife is going for Mr Thompson, in the Primary.

    Liked him in the debate, thinks he's steady and ready.

  113. Yeah, I missed that debate. He always seems steady to me whenever I've seen him 'though.

  114. Well LORD knows you can't fight them with Dirt, as they are just that slippery! Might get em good and filthy, in need of a thorough hose-bath. But they'd slip right out of the hands of the national interest and slither their way back to K street!

    As You All may have become aware, some scoundrel recently tried to send imitation cocaine to the offices of myself and my colleague. Truly a dirtier deed cannot be conceived of, unless one lets ones mind wander to salacious and lascivious acts that make madens blush and elders perspire, and I don't feel that is appropo to the discussion.

    The AGE OF DIRT has descended upon America, and we're ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL dirty!

    Aint 2 ways about it. We're all dirty. Its just a question of whether you're gonna be slick about it!

    You know you aint gonna pay that bill, but the difference between you and the criminal is whose the slipperiest. Who can finagle and fandango his way out of the mercantilist interests that try to scold and badger us all into dirtying ourselves with their filth!

    That the Clintons have turned their Dirt into a cultural asset just shows their brilliance. Barack Obama's vision is yet more inspiring: a nation of stoned patriotic geeks, typing away in the 1000s about how they plan to eventually one day take on China and its own dirty mongrels!

    Whereas Giuliani sees America as a nation of bums in need of stern discipline, Obama sees America as a nation of hip artists whose minds will sheer the shared psychic fabric of humanity with their provocative new vision for the world.

    Which do you choose?

  115. Nor will renewables provide a free lunch. Offshore wind power, the poster-boy du jour of Greenpeace, "is more expensive than gas-fired," notes Alan Moore, who is no less than the managing director of National Wind Power.

    And those awful windmills might ruin his view, says environmental advocate Ted Kennedy; he is leading the battle against an offshore wind farm visible from his family's waterfront compound on Cape Cod.

    Meanwhile, lurking in the background is the environmentalists' bête noire, coal. China forges ahead with construction of so many coal-fired generating stations that it will displace America as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases even if all of the 45 new coal-fired power plants under construction or already permitted, and the 76 in early stages of development in America, come into service.

    Color Me Green

  116. Slick willy could befoul the very dirt he's hosed down on. But Hillary, she'd give that dirt enough Moral Authority that it'd kick itself up into a dust storm and go sting the eyes of the Janjaweed!

    Giuliani's too busy watching Bravo and sipping Cosmos to even care. Maybe if the children of Sudan could make a fabulous all-season scarf or luxurious sweater for Rudy, they'd get his attention.

  117. Now, I don't think government representatives have any claim on explaining historical events and trends well. Certainly, they have no more a claim than anyone else.

    Now, this all reminds me of a humorous story of a traveling salesman. Let's say that the taxpayer is a farmer, and the government is a salesman.

    Well, the farmer says "You can spend the night in my barn, but do me a favor and don't stick your willy into any of the three holes in the wall." Well in this case, the salesman's willy represents the taxpayer's money, you understand.

    Well, the government, like the salesman, can't help himself: Sticks his willy in the first hole, it feels good. Sticks his willy in the second hole, it feels even better! Sticks his willy in the third hole and it hurts like hell and it won't let go! Well in the morning the farmer comes out and he explains: "Behind the first hole was my wife, behind the second hole was me daughter, and behind the third hole was a milking machine that don't let go 'till it gets 50 GALLONS!"

    Gentlemen, I propose that this historical revisionism is like a milking machine, and unless we shut it down it's gonna rip our dicks right off!

    The Media Age allows the government to craft stories for different constituencies (holes) and so introduce cultural harm by sewing only division and pettiness.


  118. I only used the muffin Icon to make an important Christmas-time message to DR, in the hopes of melting his curmudgeonly heart with some yuletide spirit of betterment for all.

    Not sure if it worked or not. :(

    Perhaps some Christmas Ghosts will tunnel through his fence, float past his dogs and take his bashful hand before flying away on a holiday adventure.

  119. To much fiber in that recipe, for me, alderman.

    Then again, regularity has never been a challenge, either.

    Doesn't everyone have dogs and fences, floodlights set on motion sensors?

    Granted there is no razor wire on top of the fence, that seems a bit to industrial an image for my tastes.

    I've always liked the Mexican set-up, nine to ten foot walls with busted bottles embedded in the top.

    Not as provocative as razor wire, a bit more low profile.
    Almost as effective at stopping climbers. Better than a fence at stopping live rounds or surveillance.

  120. You could always hire the Ronin of Chip n Dales to be your bow-tie wearing Pikemen and have them patrol your property in a coordinated Conga-Line.

    If you know so many illegals, they might be perfect for the job if you shave them and swab em down with some shine.

  121. Crap, I was going to past the Alderman's riveting tale, copied from BC, but the author beat me to it.
    So here's Mo Dowd:
    "Hillary doesn’t have to worry about her face. She has to worry about her mask. Back in the ’92 race, Clinton pollsters devised strategies to humanize her and make her seem more warm and maternal. Fifteen years later, her campaign is devising strategies to humanize her and make her seem more warm and maternal.

    The public still has no idea of what part of her is stage-managed and focus-grouped, and what part is legit. It’s pretty pathetic, at this stage of her career, that she has to wage a major offensive, by helicopter and Web testimonials, to make herself appear warm-blooded."

    Three cheers for Mo!

  122. Is it true every Muslim on hajj can bring one weaved basket filled with whatever they want and its a secret known only to themselves, Allah and their religiously mandated diary?

    What did Ahmedinajad put in his basket?

  123. "The public still has no idea of what part of her is stage-managed and focus-grouped, and what part is legit."

    If only we could count on the stage-managed and focus-grouped part of any given candidate, which is what we're offered in any given campaign. Leaves out the guesswork, certainly.

    Additionally, a Clinton presidency would probably be the best thing to happen to the Republican Party since...well, since the last one.

  124. Might be good for the republican party, but what about the nation?

  125. The point is, even in a field of phoney politicians, only one needs the help of her advisors to figure out a way, after all these years to prove she too is a warm-blooded creature.
    Should have hired a magician.
    (cackle, cackle)

  126. A wizard, I'd recommend she get a wizard.

  127. No offers of a volunteered Lizard.

  128. (the warm-blooded kind, not a another reptile)

    ht Knucklehead

  129. Might be good for the republican party, but what about the nation?

    - bob

    Well the nation will have occasion to think a little deeper, too, won't it?

  130. In any event, we can wave our Bush fatique goodbye.

  131. I'd keep an eye on Cheney, though. Unlike his boss, that guy's not about to fall off the face of earth post-OVP.

  132. ?
    He was retired before Bush sucked him in, then had ticker clunker number 6, or whatever.
    I'd guess he's ready to get back to playing roulette with his hunting partners more often.
    Gotta see that experimental New-Age Grandchild sometime, too.