Clinton vs. Obama and Clinton on Speaking with US Enemies

Hillary Clinton has joined John Edwards (previous post) in attacking Barack Obama today. Clinton’s attack was over a statement in last night’s You Tube debate:

Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama tangled over Obama’s statement at the YouTube debate Monday that he would be willing to meet in the first year of his presidency with the leaders of countries antagonistic to the United States.

Clinton called Obama’s comments “irresponsible” and “naive.”

The rebuttal comes from Hillary Clinton, to quote her from April:

Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday criticized President Bush’s foreign policy, and said if she were president she would do things differently, including beginning diplomatic talks with supposed enemies and sending envoys throughout the world.

“I would begin diplomatic discussions with those countries with whom we have differences, to try to figure out what is the depth of those differences,” said Clinton, who spoke to about 1,000 people at Luther College in Decorah in northeastern Iowa.

“I think it is a terrible mistake for our president to say he will not talk with bad people. You don’t make peace with your friends — you have to do the hard work of dealing with people you don’t agree with,” said Clinton, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

Opening talks with other countries doesn’t mean the U.S. won’t defend its interests whenever necessary, she said, “but what it means is that we should discuss other routes before we decide we’re going to pursue military options.

“We cannot provide the leadership we need unless we are willing to try engage the other countries,” she said,

Edwards or Obama as Candidate of Change

Tod Beeton at MyDD discusses an email from the Edwards campaign taking on Barack Obama. The email “hammers the theme of change.” The race has been cast as the establishment Hillary Clinton versus Barack Obama, the candidate of change. Beeton notes that John Edwards “has been talking about big change in every speech he’s given this year” wonders, “why hasn’t Edwards been cast in that role?”

The answer is that many can smell a phoney a mile away. The only change we trust coming from Edwards is all the changes from his previous positions. In some cases they may be an improvement, such as on Iraq, but seeing Edwards finally come out against the war when it is the politically popular position hardly gives me any confidence that his judgement can be trusted on matters of war and peace in the future.

Edwards comes off far too much as a trial lawyer selling his case to a jury than a man with real convictions. At the moment Edwards sees the advantage of appealing to the left blogosphere and progressive voters of Iowa. Just as a a lawyer changes their arguments to fit their particular client and case, Edwards looks like a slick lawyer who changes his positions to fit his current audience. The John Edwards who is pandering to the left blogosphere in 2003 may be a totally differenent candidate should he get past Iowa, and even different should he be elected president.

Edwards also appears to be more a phoney than a true candidate of change by his populist agenda which was accurately satirized by The Onion in which he promises everything to everyone without regard for the cost. While I still need to hear more about the details of his plans from Obama before I’ll back him, Obama at least impresses me as someone who has carefully considered the ramifications of his positions and who understands alternative viewpoints. The libertarian in me gives credit to Obama for making the same decision John Kerry did four years ago in looking at a health care plan based upon choice as opposed to government mandates. In 2004 John Kerry showed he was willing to break from Democratic special interest politics when he took on the trial lawyers and included malpractice reform in his health care plan–an idea now missing from Edwards’ new proposals. Barack Obama has repeatedly shown the same willingness to move beyond special interest politics, such as when he spoke of merit pay for teachers at a meeting of the National Education Association.
Edwards’ credibility is further hurt by his limited history in politics. While Obama worked as a community organizer and and the state legislature, Edwards served a single term in the Senate which was primarily used as a vehicle to run for the 2004 nomination. While failing to win, Kerry made a mistake which he came to regret in choosing Edwards to be his running mate, only to see Edwards put his own personal interests above those of the ticket. Edwards might have also learned a few things while working on the Patriot Act from Barack Obama, the former constitutional law professor.

Yes, John Edwards is the candidate of change. He is willing to change his views and his loyalties to advance his own political career. This is hardly the sort of person that those of us who desire real change in government want to see elected.

Related: Hillary Clinton also attacks Obama today.

Religous Right Dominates Texas School Board

Although there have been major victories both in the courts and the ballot box against the attempts of the religious right to prevent the education of modern science, they keep springing up somewhere else. Not surprisingly, Texas remains a state where they remain a problem. The Austin Statesmen (via Ed Brayton) describes Don McLeroy who was appointed chairman of the State Board of Education in an editorial:

The 15-member elected board has been so dysfunctional in recent years that the Legislature wisely curbed much of its authority over Texas public schools. For more than a decade, the board has indulged in culture wars, and Texas schoolchildren have been the casualties.

Established by the Texas Constitution to oversee, among other things, the Permanent School Fund, the board still wields clout in decisions regarding the school fund and its investments, textbook selection for all school grades and curriculum standards for public schools. The board also is the state licensing entity for charter schools.

As chair, McLeroy leads a board of 10 Republicans and five Democrats. Divisions on the board aren’t just partisan. McLeroy, a self-described social conservative, is one of eight Republicans who vote as a bloc on nearly all issues. He has a reputation for civility even while casting votes that are based more on ideology than on science or facts.

In 2001, McLeroy and a majority of the board rejected the only Advanced Placement textbook for high school environmental science because its views on global warming and other events didn’t comport with the beliefs of the board majority. The book wasn’t factual and was anti-American and anti-Christian, the majority claimed. Meanwhile, dozens of colleges and universities were using the textbook, including Baylor University, the nation’s largest Baptist college.

In 2003, McLeroy voted against approving biology textbooks that included a full-scale scientific account of evolutionary theory. The books were approved…

McLeroy’s elevation to chairman comes as the board begins a revision of science standards for public schools. That could prove embarrassing for Texas if McLeroy pushes for standards that push theology over science. If McLeroy wants to restore the board’s credibility, he should promote standards — and textbooks — that educate, not preach.

Ron Paul’s Impact on The Election

Yesterday I looked at the Ron Paul phenomenon as an expression of the anti-big government sentiments among some people in each of the major parties. Such voters have limited options among the other candidates this year. While the Paul supporters commenting vigorously disagreed, I also expressed the belief that Paul cannot win the Republican nomination. What if I am right? What will his supporters do?

It is hard to see Paul supporters being loyal Republicans and backing their party’s winner–which should be a matter of concern for the Republicans. If I was a GOP leader I’d be questioning Paul’s loyalty to the party and pressing him for a pledge to support the nominee and encourage his supporters to do the same should he lose. Of course it is questionable as to how many votes he could deliver to the authoritarian war mongers who dominate the Republican field should he be willing to do so.

I don’t even know that Paul would agree to support another Republican candidate. Would Paul jump ship and run as a Libertarian again? If not, will the Libertarian Party candidate benefit from what Paul has done? That will depend partially upon the candidate, but the LP will have the problem that many people are reluctant to vote for a third party which has no real chance of winning.

If they are reluctant to support a minor party, will many Paul supporters back the Democratic winner as the best shot of having an anti-war candidate win? That will depend a lot on the nominee. Richardson already has some libertarian support but remains a real long shot. Edwards will have a real tough time attracting any libertarian support, between his previous support for he war and Patriot Act when in the Senate to his current populist economic policies. Clinton will also have problems here, but I could see Obama managing to find a way to bridge liberal ideas with libertarian ideals as he has shown he is willing to avoid pandering to traditional Democratic special interests.

While I don’t think Ron Paul has any real chance of winning the Republican nomination, his candidacy is doing far better than might have been expected initially, and he very well may have a lasting impact on the race. Between the out right libertarians, as well as the more traditional conservatives who are becoming increasingly outraged by the current Republican leadership, there will be a number of Republicans looking for an alternative. Whether the Democrats can become a majority party will depend partially on whether they can attract a portion of these voters. To do so will mean not only opposing the war but showing they recognize that the 2000’s are not the 1930’s and their old New Deal coalition is long gone.

Cancer on the Presidency–But Not on The President

I disagree with much of what George Bush has done, and his administration often reminds me of John Dean’s Watergate era warnings of a “cancer on the Presidency,” but I am glad to hear that the polyps removed during Bush’s recent colonoscopy were benign. (Besides, posts such as this mocking him would have been in such poor taste if he turned out to have cancer.)

Liberals Snubbed by Hillary Clinton

While often entertaining, I don’t think that the CNN/You Tube Debate will have much impact on the race. Hillary still looks like the establishment leader. Obama still promises change. Richardson did a bit better than in earlier debates but still does pooly compared to when campaigning on the stump. Fans of Edwards are probably happy, and his non-fans remain unimpressed.

The main thing I learned is that Hillary Clinton doesn’t want to be called a liberal:

Mrs. Clinton, how would you define the word “liberal?”

And would you use this word to describe yourself?

Thank you.


CLINTON: You know, it is a word that originally meant that you were for freedom, that you were for the freedom to achieve, that you were willing to stand against big power and on behalf of the individual.

Unfortunately, in the last 30, 40 years, it has been turned up on its head and it’s been made to seem as though it is a word that describes big government, totally contrary to what its meaning was in the 19th and early 20th century.

I prefer the word “progressive,” which has a real American meaning, going back to the progressive era at the beginning of the 20th century.

I consider myself a modern progressive, someone who believes strongly in individual rights and freedoms, who believes that we are better as a society when we’re working together and when we find ways to help those who may not have all the advantages in life get the tools they need to lead a more productive life for themselves and their family.

So I consider myself a proud modern American progressive, and I think that’s the kind of philosophy and practice that we need to bring back to American politics.

COOPER: So you wouldn’t use the word “liberal,” you’d say “progressive.”

Needless to say, the name of this blog will remain Liberal Values, not Progressive Values and I will continue to promote the ideals of freedom which gave birth to liberalism.

Update: In addition to the transcript linked here, there are many video clips available at

At Least Fox Isn’t Making Up Their Facts From Scratch

Sometimes I feel like those guys on Fox News simply make up their facts. Media Matters shows a case in which they do cite a source. Unfortunately a guest uses a show from Fox’s entertainment division as his evidence for the threat of terrorism:

The fact of the matter is — I mean, you don’t watch 24 on Fox TV? They’re out there. They’re out there. There are cells out there. We have to protect ourselves against it, as Americans, and you know something, if you’re on a plane with me, Hassan, and you’re sitting next to me, you’ll be looked at a little careful — more carefully than me. That’s the facts of life. That’s what we’re living with today. I’m sorry to say, 9-11 changed our whole life.

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An Evil Force Which Outlasts The Harry Potter Series


Voldemort may have been vanquished, but there is one evil force which Harry Potter couldn’t destroy. The religious right survives to threaten J. K. Rowling. In an interview with AP, Rowling compares criticism from Christians in Great Britain and the United States:

“I had one letter from a vicar in England — this is the difference — saying would I please not put Christmas trees at Hogwarts as it was clearly a pagan society. Meanwhile, I’m having death threats when I’m on tour in America.”

Maybe Rowling could follow up the Harry Potter series with another in which Harry and friends take on the religious right.