Crafting the Obama Brand

The Chicago Tribune looks at plans dating back to February 2005 to create the “Obama Brand” in preparation for a future run for the White House. The initial plans looked at running in 2012 or 2016, but have been moved up a little:

The plan they hatched focused on concrete, achievable goals that included delivering for Illinois, fitting in at the Senate and developing cross-party alliances while avoiding the limelight.

They would schedule Obama on trips that traversed two-lane country roads throughout Illinois. He would do his duty raising money for fellow Democratic senators during the “Power Hour,” a regular telephone fundraising commitment set up by party leaders. And he would sit through lengthy committee hearings to wait his last-place turn as the most junior member to ask a question.

First and foremost, the Obama team placed a high premium on working well with others.

“So much of what happens around here depends on relationships and on a committee chairman’s willingness to help you out,” said Chris Lu, Obama’s legislative director. “It helps if those relationships are strong.”

Obama built a strong relationship, crossing party lines, with Richard Lugar:

“He does have a sense of idealism and principled leadership, a vision of the future,” Lugar said. “At certain points in history, certain people are the ones that are most likely to have the vision or imagination or be able to identify talent and to manage other people’s ideas. And I think he does this well.”

Obama deserves credit for being an early opponent of the Iraq war, but once in the Senate became overly cautious:

In keeping with the pattern of his political career, he moved cautiously. During the summer of 2005 he considered proposing a plan to partition Iraq. But he backed off the idea as advisers raised two key concerns: that the proposal was fraught with complexities and that he could be seen as overstepping his expertise.

Ultimately Obama delivered a more modest speech in November 2005, five days after Murtha’s call for a troop withdrawal. In that address, he called for reductions in U.S. troop strength but not a timetable for withdrawal.

In a Senate debate the following June, Obama voted against an amendment proposed by Feingold and former presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to set such a timetable.

Only after Obama announced his presidential exploratory committee did he introduce legislation this January that sets a date for withdrawal of U.S. combat troops. By then the high-profile, bipartisan Iraq Study Group also had endorsed a deadline for troops to leave.

In May he voted against continued funding of the war, after Bush vetoed a funding package that included a timetable for withdrawal by March 31, 2008.

Rudy Giuliani’s Twelve Commitments

Outside the Beltway presents Rudy Giuliani’s Twelve Commitments. They already tear them apart. While my criticism might be a bit different in places, referring to the list, along with OTB’s comments, should be sufficient to once again show that Giuliani is all rhetoric and no substance. For those who don’t want to follow the link, I’ll just quote a couple, starting with number one: “I will keep America on offense in the Terrorists’ War on Us.”

I take this to mean more Iraq and no effective action.  I cannot see Giuliani waging any time of meaningful effort against terrorism considering he has no real idea what the problem is beyond repeating the Bush line that the terrorists hate us for our freedom. Ron Paul tried to explain that US involvement in the middle east plays a part, but to a demagogue like Giuliani this presented a situation in which to twist this to be a claim that the was our fault, as opposed to being a much needed learning experience.

Giuliani’s list also includes, “I will give Americans more control over, and access to, healthcare with affordable and portable free-market solutions.” If he means giving Americans more control over their care, how about reconsidering his opposition to legalization of medicinal use of marijuana.

Shouting The Loudest In the Blogosphere

John Edwards just has a knack for picking bloggers–that is if he wants controversy. This time he’s got Dave “Mudcat” Saunders, a rural liaison who has started blogging at Swampland by attacking all those city folk:

I have bitched and moaned for years about the lack of tolerance in the elitist wing of the Democratic Party, or what I refer to as the “Metropolitan Opera Wing”. These are the people who talk of tolerance but the only true tolerance they ever exhibit is for their own pseudo-intellectual arrogance…

I am certain I will get personally attacked for this next statement, but in all honesty, I don’t care what the “Metropolitan Wing” of my party thinks. I don’t like them. The damage the pseudo-intellectuals have done to my party by abandoning tolerance, combined with their erroneous stereotyping of my people and culture, is something that brings out my incivility. In his column, Joe said, “…the smart stuff is being drowned out by a fierce, bullying, often witless tone of intolerance that has overtaken the left-wing sector of the blogosphere.” Amen. I must add that this same intellectual arrogance and intolerance overtook the party years ago, and for that very reason, my people in rural America left the tent.

So to those bloggers who believe in a straight-forward dialogue and exchange of ideas, God bless you and thank you. Together, you’re coming up with a lot of good stuff, and frankly, much of it has been helpful to me. At the same time, those Democratic bloggers, who have appointed themselves as intellectually superior and believe the only way to win an argument is to shot the loudest with personal attacks, you can go to Hell.

(On update, Raw Story reports that an Edwards spokesman says that Mudcat speaks for himself.)

This will not win Saunders support in the blogosphere with such over-generalizations. There is a grain of truth to his post as we all know that, even if in the minority, there are examples to back him up. We all know there is a certain faction who pontificate on things they know absolutely nothing about and care far more for personal attacks than for intelligent discussion. This can be seen in the attacks on me over at The Democratic Daily (see posts here and here).

I criticize the acceptance of every conspiracy theory of the day, and warn others against attributing such views to other liberals. Their response is to hurl personal insults without any coherent response.

I criticize their defense of anti-Semitism and downplaying of holocaust denial. Their response is to hurl personal insults without any coherent response.

I write on the need to accept science and reason, in an era where a majority of Republicans deny the basis of modern biology, warning that their advocacy of astrology, belief in ghosts, and repeating creationist babble thinly disguised as new age thinking is a step backwards away from reason. Their response is to hurl personal insults without any coherent response.

They just don’t get how meaningless this is. They can go around the blogosphere saying I’m a conservative because I don’t agree with their beliefs, but without any response to my actual beliefs this carries no weight. Similarly they typically dismiss other views they disagree with by labeling them conservative, as if this is sufficient to win a debate. They don’t understand that it is the ideas which count, and the evidence which backs them up, as opposed to their labels and loud shouting. An idea is not right because it is liberal or wrong because it is conservative. Coherent arguments based upon facts is necessary to prove a positon, but people like Pamela Leavey prefer to shout out insults, and then call it sexist or bullying should anyone stand up to her attacks.

In the end, their insults do not matter as the source much be considered. Kooks, whether they call themselves liberal or conservative, who believe in conspiracy theories, defend Mel Gibson-type anti-Semitism, and believe in astrology and ghosts are already at the bottom of the intellectual totem poll, in no position to insult anybody.

David Chase Speaks About The Sopranos

When asked about the final scene of The Sopranos, David Chase has “no interest in explaining, defending, reinterpreting, or adding to what is there.” He also denies that the abrupt ending was to set up a future movie. We do get a few clues as to what he was thinking as he ended the show. One reason for the long delay until the final portion of the season was a demand from Chase for more time to come up with the ending. I assume he must mean the manner in which he built up tension in the diner as opposed to the abrupt cut to black.

-After all the speculation that Agent Harris might turn Tony, instead we saw that Harris had turned, passing along info on Phil’s whereabouts and cheering, “We’re going to win this thing!” when learning of Phil’s demise.

“This is based on an actual case of an FBI agent who got a little bit too partisan and excited during the Colombo wars of the ’70s,” says Chase of the story of Lindley DeVecchio, who supplied Harris’ line.

-Speaking of Harris, Chase had no problem with never revealing what — if anything — terror suspects Muhammed and Ahmed were up to.

“This, to me, feels very real,” he says. “The majority of these suspects, it’s very hard for anybody to know what these people are doing. I don’t even think Harris might know where they are. That was sort of the point of it: who knows if they are terrorists or if they’re innocent pistachio salesmen? That’s the fear that we are living with now.”

Also, the apocryphal story — repeated by me, unfortunately — that Fox, when “Sopranos” was in development there, wanted Chase to have Tony help the FBI catch terrorists, wasn’t true.

“What I said was, if I had done it at Fox, Tony would have been a gangster by day and helping the FBI by night, but we weren’t there long enough for anyone to make that suggestion.”

-I spent the last couple of weeks wrapping my brain around a theory supplied by reader Sam Lorber (and his daughter Emily) that the nine episodes of this season were each supposed to represent one of the nine circles of Hell from Dante’s “The Divine Comedy.” Told of the theory, Chase laughed and said, “No.”

-Since Butchie was introduced as a guy who was pushing Phil to take out Tony, why did he turn on Phil and negotiate peace with Tony?

“I think Butch was an intelligent guy, he began to see that there was no need for it, that Phil’s feelings were all caught up in what was esentially a convoluted personal grudge.”

As David Chase wouldn’t say much on the ending, the author of the article looks at some of the speculation:

Theory No. 1 (and the one I prefer): Chase is using the final scene to place the viewer into Tony’s mindset. This is how he sees the world: every open door, every person walking past him could be coming to kill him, or arrest him, or otherwise harm him or his family. This is his life, even though the paranoia’s rarely justified. We end without knowing what Tony’s looking at because he never knows what’s coming next.

Theory No. 2: In the scene on the boat in “Soprano Home Movies,” repeated again last week, Bobby Bacala suggests that when you get killed, you don’t see it coming. Certainly, our man in the Members Only jacket could have gone to the men’s room to prepare for killing Tony (shades of the first “Godfather”), and the picture and sound cut out because Tony’s life just did. (Or because we, as viewers, got whacked from our life with the show.)

The ending may have been frustrating, especially as it left many of us momentarily wondering if our cable had gone out, but Chase certainly has done as he had hoped in keeping everyone talking. In consideration of all the hype, I bet that no matter how the series ended there would be a lots of talk, and almost as many fans left unhappy.

Related Stories:
The Sopranos Ends Without Even Fading to Black

Cable Finales: The Sopranos and The Tudors

Update: More on The Sopranos finale in SciFi Friday for June 15.

Defense From The Jawa

I periodically have posts covering blog debates, but yesterday’s post on conservative blogs taking on The Democratic Daily over support for 9/11 conspiracy theories got me entangled into a larger fight. The Jawa Report has provided third party coverage:

Blogfight! : Twoofer Lib vs. Regular Lib

The post I put up a few days back had little to do with the actual content of this minor loony-lib-on-regular-lib blogfight, but the former official Kerry blogger/Democratic Daily editor known as Pamela who’d been pushing a debunked and loony 9-11 Twoofer documentary was apparently frothing at a fellow lib’s blog (who was doing nothing more than pointing out what was happening in his post, and linking us in the process).

Ron at Liberal Values (a former blogger at Democratic Daily) was attacked by Pamela, who seems to have as much a problem resiting juvenile agitprop videos as she does remembering facts in her recent history. A few other moonbats trickle in and begin flinging stuff about astrology, the lack of leftist purity that Ron posseses and (of course) Twooferism, at which Ron rightfully balks.

I can’t say I sympathize with some of Ron’s politics, but I can certainly sympathize with the need to push back against the Twoofers and their ancillary legions of astrologers, Holocaust deniers, liars, huxters, frauds, film school dropouts and pizza delivery boys. Good luck – I’ve been barking up that tree for a while now.

Now if someone could just explain exactly what Twooferism is. From the context it clearly relates to belief in 9/11 conspiracy theories, and I wonder if it derives from either the two planes or the two towers. I’m also not sure how pizza delivery boys play into this but I’m beginnig to imagine a conspiracy tying in two for one pizza offers with terrorist attacks. Of course, while I enjoyed reading such conspiracy-theory fiction coming from writers like Robert Anton Wilson, there’s a difference between enjoying fiction and lacking the ability to separate fiction from fact.

Update: Shouting The Loudest In the Blogosphere

Karen Bradley: Mom-ing The Government


I think everyone who was involved in working on line for John Kerry in 2004 already knows Karen Bradley. Since the 2004 election, Karen and Dick Bell have been working at Democracy Cell Project to promote tools for grass roots democracy. Karen is working on a new stategy which she calls “Mom-ing The Government” and has made the above video. Karen writes: (more…)