Five Year Anniversary of Obama’s Anti-Iraq War Speech

The Swamp reports on a significant anniversary coming up for Barack Obama:

Next Tuesday is a high holy day in the calendar for Barack Obama supporters, who will mark the five-year anniversary of the moment their presidential candidate gave his first speech against the war in Iraq.

Obama was just an Illinois state senator that day in 2002, when he went to a rally in Daley Plaza at the invitation of Chicago Democratic doyenne Bettylu Saltzman and called the president’s impending military action “a dumb war.”

Not that many politicians were saying things like that at the time, most notably not the other people who would end up running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. Now that public and political sentiment has turned on the war, it’s a distinction Obama, today a U.S. senator, mentions rather often.

So it comes as no surprise that the Obama for America campaign will mark next Tuesday’s anniversary with some fanfare, with a set of rallies scheduled to take place in several cities around the country. Obama will deliver a foreign policy address in Chicago that day.

No word yet on what it will say, but it’s likely to allude to the 2002 speech in which Obama warned the war could lead to “a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.”

Posted in Barack Obama, Iraq. Tags: , . No Comments »

Bloomberg Still Flirting With Third Party Run; Hagel Criticizing Republicans

Earlier in the year there was speculation that Michael Bloomberg and Chuck Hagel might run for President and Vice President as independents in 2008. Recent comments from them appear to leave the door open a crack. The New York Daily News reports:

An hour before meeting President Bush yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg shamelessly flirted with the idea of taking his job.

The mayor denied he wants to run for President – but didn’t deny he’d like to be President. He gave his blessing to a longtime supporter’s push to create a third party.

And with just slight provocation from reporters, he launched into a nearly 2-1/2-minute discussion of what’s wrong with America and what kind of leader could get the country back on track.

“People always ask me, am I running? That’s not the right question. The real question is, what skills should the person who leads this country have?” Bloomberg said.

“We have intractable problems which are coming closer to biting us: the cost of health care; the cost of Social Security; fighting terrorism; immigration; tax policy. All of these are issues that Congress has been unwilling to face, and we are running out of time to face them.”

Bloomberg ally Frank MacKay, chairman of the state Independence Party, is trying to start a national third party – and has told the Daily News he’s in regular touch with Bloomberg’s people.

“I wish them well,” the mayor said. “I’ve always said, the more choice, the better. I don’t know why you have to have two parties.”

Meanwhile Chuck Hagel is sounding more and more like an independent such as in this comment on closing Guatanamo:

“It’s a Republican litmus test this year,” complained Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, one of the few GOP lawmakers calling for the swift closure of Guantanamo.

“The Republican Party has won two elections on the issue of fear and terrorism,” Hagel said. “[It’s] going to try again.”

WorldNet Daily: Global Warming Caused by Noah’s Flood

WorldNet Daily explains that global warming isn’t caused by burning coal and oil. They report on a video which argues that the world has been warming since Noah’s flood 5000 years ago. Other mysteries are also revealed in this video:

The documentary explores how Noah built his massive Ark, the number of animals aboard, and where the Ark landed, based on research from scientists in various fields. In addition, “Miraculous Messages” explains in depth how a catastrophic worldwide flood could have happened and the current evidences left behind from this event – 25 mysterious anomalies found on Earth.

Posted in Environment, Religion. 1 Comment »

Teacher Fired For Calling Adam and Eve a Fairy Tale

The Des Moines Register reports that a community college instructor was fired for calling the story of Adam and Eve a “fairy tale.”

A community college instructor in Red Oak claims he was fired after he told his students that the biblical story of Adam and Eve should not be literally interpreted. Steve Bitterman, 60, said officials at Southwestern Community College sided with a handful of students who threatened legal action over his remarks in a western civilization class Tuesday. He said he was fired Thursday…

Bitterman said he called the story of Adam and Eve a “fairy tale” in a conversation with a student after the class and was told the students had threatened to see an attorney. He declined to identify any of the students in the class.

“I just thought there was such a thing as academic freedom here,” he said. “From my point of view, what they’re doing is essentially teaching their students very well to function in the eighth century.”

Hector Avalos, an atheist religion professor at Iowa State University, said Bitterman’s free-speech rights were violated if he was fired simply because he took an academic approach to a Bible story.

“I don’t know the circumstances, but if he’s teaching something about the Bible and says it is a myth, he shouldn’t be fired for that because most academic scholars do believe this is a myth, the story of Adam and Eve,” Avalos said.

“So it’d be no different than saying the world was not created in six days in science class.

“You don’t fire professors for giving you a scientific answer.”

Donald Trump Advises Bush to Go Into Hiding

Donald Trump believes that George Bush is a “huge liability” for any Republican running for President and for the Republicans. He says that any Democrat running has a huge advantage due to Bush and for a Republican to win Bush should go into “hiding.”

“I think President Bush has to go into a corner and hide if a Republican is going to get elected,” he said. “There is no way he is an asset. He is a huge liability, and he is going to have to do a big, big hiding act if a Republican is going to win.”

Once a Republican nominee is determined, Trump added, Bush “should just go into a corner and say ‘Okay, that’s it. I am finished. It’s over.'”

If only Bush would do that now.

Trump also reiterated his comments to CNN from March that Bush is “probably” the worst president in American history because “we’ve gone from this tremendous power that was respected all over the world to somewhat of a laughing stock.”

Trump also believes Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination and that Rudy Giuliani will win the Republican nomination.

David Brooks Finds Democratic Party Not Controlled by Netroots

David Brooks is sure to receive a number of unfavorable blog posts over today’s column on the influence of the netroots on the Democratic Party. I’ll leave complaints over his arguments as to the impotence of the netroots to other bloggers and instead begin by noting the value of Brooks ad in countering the conservative meme that the Democratic Party is being held hostage by extremists from the left.

In the beginning of August, liberal bloggers met at the YearlyKos convention while centrist Democrats met at the Democratic Leadership Council’s National Conversation. Almost every Democratic presidential candidate attended YearlyKos, and none visited the D.L.C.

At the time, that seemed a sign that the left was gaining the upper hand in its perpetual struggle with the center over the soul of the Democratic Party. But now it’s clear that was only cosmetic.

Now it’s evident that if you want to understand the future of the Democratic Party you can learn almost nothing from the bloggers, billionaires and activists on the left who make up the “netroots.” You can learn most of what you need to know by paying attention to two different groups — high school educated women in the Midwest, and the old Clinton establishment in Washington.

In the first place, the netroots candidates are losing. In the various polls on the Daily Kos Web site, John Edwards, Barack Obama and even Al Gore crush Hillary Clinton, who limps in with 2 percent to 10 percent of the vote.

Moguls like David Geffen have fled for Obama. But the party as a whole is going the other way. Hillary Clinton has established a commanding lead.

It is notable that the polls differ so greatly from the consensus at Daily Kos. Clinton does appear to be a strong front runner at this point, but it is risky to base an argument based upon early predictions of the results of a nomination battle. Just ask Howard Dean and Ed Muskie who also appeared to be on their way to winning before the early primaries.

As Brooks continues, he does make another point worth noting:

Second, Clinton is drawing her support from the other demographic end of the party. As the journalist Ron Brownstein and others have noted, Democratic primary contests follow a general pattern. There are a few candidates who represent the affluent, educated intelligentsia (Eugene McCarthy, Bill Bradley) and they usually end up getting beaten by the candidate of the less educated, lower middle class.

That’s what’s happening again. Obama and Edwards get most of their support from the educated, affluent liberals. According to Gallup polls, Obama garners 33 percent support from Democratic college graduates, 28 percent from those with some college and only 19 percent with a high school degree or less. Hillary Clinton’s core support, on the other hand, comes from those with less education and less income — more Harry Truman than Howard Dean.

Again, it is premature to declare Clinton the nominee, but it is notable that Clinton’s chances of retaining her lead in the early polls are better than Dean’s in 2004 in light of this historical pattern. This assumes a static Democratic Party, which might not necessarily be the case.
My major disagreement with Brooks comes from his conclusion:

The fact is, many Democratic politicians privately detest the netroots’ self-righteousness and bullying. They also know their party has a historic opportunity to pick up disaffected Republicans and moderates, so long as they don’t blow it by drifting into cuckoo land. They also know that a Democratic president is going to face challenges from Iran and elsewhere that are going to require hard-line, hawkish responses.

Finally, these Democrats understand their victory formula is not brain surgery. You have to be moderate on social issues, activist but not statist on domestic issues and hawkish on foreign policy. This time they’re not going to self-destructively deviate from that.

Brooks is partially correct that simply following the consensus of the netroots is not always the correct path, but he is in error in both considering many of the views of the netroots to be extremist and in his victory formula. Leaving Iraq has become the middle of the road consensus opinion. It is also what is needed to improve our ability to respond to challenges such as those from al Qaeda, Iran and elsewhere. Brooks’ idea of a hard-line hawkish policy is not the best policy for defending the country.
Brooks’ formula represents his own personal view as opposed to the view of many voters. As I’ve noted in previous posts, there is a trend towards increased liberal views on social issues, especially among younger voters, and opposition to the war.

This is why  Obama’s campaign is seen largely as a generational battle. In the past it would have been more certain that Brooks’ arguments for a Clinton victory would hold. Clinton represents the past while Obama may very well represent the future of the Democratic Party. The question is how many primary voters will come from the old party establishment and how many younger voters will join the “educated, affluent liberals” in supporting Obama and other candidates. The old establishment will not hold forever, but Clinton might be able to hold it together this year.

Diane Feinstein: The Bush Enabling Face of the Democratic Congress

While a number of Democrats have caused frustration among liberals for their voting records, with the move by Joe Lieberman to independent status the worst example may very well be Diane Feinstein. While she might not have the worst record among Democrats, but what makes her remarkable is that she comes from a state such as California where there is no need for her to be, as Glenn Greenwald called her, “the drained and Bush-enabling face of the 2007 Democratic Congress.”

Glenn Greenwald outlined many of the problems in Feinstein’s voting record:

…her votes over the last several years, and especially this year after she was safely re-elected, are infinitely closer to the Bush White House and her right-wing Senate colleagues than they are to the base of her party or to the constituents she allegedly represents. Just look at what she has done this year on the most critical and revealing votes:

* Voted in FAVOR of funding the Iraq War without conditions;* Voted in FAVOR of the Bush White House’s FISA bill to drastically expand warrantless eavesdropping powers;

* Voted in FAVOR of condemning;

* Cast the deciding vote in August on the Senate Judiciary Committee in FAVOR of the nomination of far right Bush nominee Leslie Southwick to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In 2006, Feinstein not only voted in favor of extending the Patriot Act without any of the critical safeguards sought by Sen. Feingold, among others, but she was one of the most outspoken Democratic proponents arguing for its extension (“I have never been in favor of allowing any provisions of the Patriot Act to expire.”). Also in 2006, she not only voted in favor of amending the Constitution to outlaw flag burning, but was, as she proudly described herself, “the main Democratic sponsor of this amendment.”

Greenwald gives further examples but leaves out one very important one. Diane Feinstein also backed Bush’s Medicare plan which is primarily a corporate welfare scheme for the pharmaceutical and insurance industries while undermining the long term solvency of the Medicare program.