Breaking One Million Page Views

I just noticed that the stat counter shows that Liberal Values broke one million page views earlier in the week, less than two years after the blog was formed. That sure sounds like some sort of a milestone. A tremendous percentage of this has come in the past several months as readership increased during the Democratic primary race. This does not include the almost 7000 people who subscribe to our RSS feed, or those who see the blog posts at the web sites of various news organizations who pick them up through BlogBurst.

Hush Money Alleged in John Edwards/Rielle Hunter Scandal

There has been plenty of speculation as to why the mainstream media has failed to pay much attention to the Edwards/Rielle Hunter scandal. Most likely it is because, assuming he isn’t chosen as Obama’s running mate, Edwards is now a private citizen without much political significance. The legitimate newspapers see little point in expending resources to check out this story, and they are certainly not going to run with a story with The National Enquirer as their main source, even if the Enquirer has often been correct in previous stories of this nature. The story is also less juicy as there were no crimes committed, the alleged affair was with a woman, and there were no questions of hypocrisy of the nature seen when anti-gay Republicans are caught with a man. A new turn in the story might make the story a little more interesting to the media as now, in addition to sex, there is money involved.

The National Enquirer (and again, the story is limited to a single source, leaving questions as to accuracy) reports:

John Edwards’ mistress, Rielle Hunter – the mother of his “love child” – has been secretly receiv­ing $15,000 a month as part of an elaborate cover-up orchestrated by the former presidential contender.

The money is being funneled to Hunter by a wealthy colleague who was closely tied to the Edwards’ campaign. This same man is also shoveling cash to Edwards’ pal and former aide Andrew Young – who tried to take the heat off the ex-Senator by claiming he is the father of Rielle’s baby.

And The ENQUIRER is also exclusively revealing that Rielle’s baby is a girl named Frances Quinn Hunter and was born at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

“A super-rich pal – who was closely involved with the campaign finances – is helping John. It’s likely this man doesn’t know all the dirty details of John’s extramarital affair, but is acting out of loyalty and is not asking a lot of questions – only writing the checks,” revealed a source very close to the situation.

Jail Time for Karl Rove?

The previous post mentioned Congress exercising oversight over the Executive Branch. One such example came today with the reports that Congress was calling for contempt charges against Karl Rove for refusing to testify about political meddling in the Justice Department. My first thought upon hearing the news was to wonder if such an act had any teeth. From this account in The New York Times, it sounds like in theory it has teeth, but it is unlikely to matter:

Contempt of Congress is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison. In practice, however, disputes between Congress and the White House in which the specter of contempt charges has been raised have usually been settled well short of the jailhouse door.

As a practical matter, it is highly unlikely that the United States attorney’s office in Washington will seek to prosecute former White House officials on the contempt charges.

The Republican Responsibility For The Attempted Putsch

Tim Rutten, in an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times, describes the efforts at politicalization of the Justice Department, along with other parts of government, as The putsch that imperiled America. He describes the problem:

Under then-Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales, a thirtysomething lawyer named Monica M. Goodling — a graduate of a law school founded by Pat Robertson — had virtual veto power over the appointment of U.S. attorneys, other prosecutors and immigration judges. Goodling, as the Washington Post reported, demanded that candidates “espouse conservative priorities and Christian lifestyle choices,” especially on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. The goal, according to the report, was to create a Republican “farm system” inside the Justice Department.

While Goodling was pursuing that mission, something not dissimilar was going on at the White House. According to an article by New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer in the latest New York Review of Books, “President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and a small handful of trusted advisors sought and obtained dubious legal opinions [on national security] enabling them to circumvent American laws and traditions.” She details how they used these legal opinions to dramatically expand executive power.

Rutten argues that this these actions were “essentially ideological rather than partisan.” He acknowledges that these unethical actions were committed by Republicans but also points out that “many Republicans working inside the administration — some of them deeply conservative — gave up their jobs rather than go along with the putsch.” He concludes:

At some point, the American people will demand a precise accounting of how and why their government and its officials behaved in this reckless, appalling fashion. That will require following the chain of command into the White House. When it happens, you can bet that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Addington et al will demand every protection of the law and insist on every comma of the due process they’ve derided as mere inconvenience.

When there is such an accounting, the Republicans will still have a lot to explain. There may have been some good Republicans, but those who supported the crimes of the Bush administration still dominate the party. Congressional Republicans, rather than exercising the Constitutional duty to provide oversight of the Executive Branch, allowed Bush to do whatever he wanted while they were committing comparable offenses with the K Street Project. Despite having a president who was unfit to lead, there were no good Republican who were capable of mounting a challenge to renominating Bush in 2004.

While the Congressional Republicans have plenty to answer for, it was Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi who decided that impeachment should be taken off the table. Still, while the Democrats are far from pure, it was Republicans and not Democrats who were responsible for the actual offenses. When faced with a front runner who was every bit as unethical and dishonest as Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Addington, et al, Democrats did ultimately stand up and prevent the nomination of Hillary Clinton. To be fair, many Republicans might have thought they were ending the extremism and dishonesty of the Bush years in nomination John McCain, but it didn’t take long for McCain to adopt dishonest Rove/Clinton style tactics. We cannot trust that someone who resorts to this degree of dishonesty in campaigning will not do the same to preserve power if elected.

John McCain’s Obsession with Paris Hilton

Is John McCain obsessed with Paris Hilton? McCain has once again dragged Paris into politics. First Read reports, “In its latest TV ad hitting Obama, the McCain campaign calls Obama the “biggest celebrity in the world” — and in the process shows clips of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.” Josh Marshall comments on McCain’s strategy:

I note with interest today, John McCain’s new tactic of associating Barack Obama with oversexed and/or promiscuous young white women. (See today’s new ad and this from yesterday.) Presumably, a la Harold Ford 2006, this will be one of those strategies that will be a matter of deep dispute during the campaign and later treated as transparent and obvious once the campaign is concluded…

As I alluded to at the top of this post, it is the norm that obvious campaign tactics that are treated as obvious after a campaign is over are nonetheless treated by most reporters as ambiguous or unclear during a campaign. But in this case it would be nice if that were not the case. Because here we have a candidate, John McCain, who is running on a record of straight talk and honorable campaigning running a campaign made up mainly of charges reporters are now more or less acknowledging are lies. But there’s precious little drawing together of the contradiction. What’s more, as everyone will acknowledge after the campaign, the McCain campaign is now pushing the caricature of Obama as a uppity young black man whose presumptuousness is displayed not only in taking on airs above his station but also in a taste for young white women.

So please keep an eye out for references to Obama’s presumptuousness, arrogance, etc., from John King and other reporters. Let us know when you see them and send us in examples — in text or video. McCain gets to run the campaign he wants. Remember, he hired the operative who put together the Ford/Bimbo ad. But I want to keep tabs on which reporters are helping him retail the message.

Alex Koppelman comments further on the ad, which also includes some factual errors in other attacks on Obama–such factually incorrect attack ads being part of yet another trend from the McCain campaign.

McCain’s obsession with Paris Hilton began well before this latest campaign tactic. Back in 2007, when visiting Iraq while wearing a bullet proof vest and surrounded by troops, McCain claimed that conditions were so safe that “even Paris Hilton could ride a bicycle in a bikini through Anbar province.” If it was safe enough for Paris to be dressed as above, how come McCain dressed like this:

While McCain keeps bringing up Paris Hilton, Obama has actually avoided connection to celebrities. Back in December, 2006 Lindsay Lohan appealed to Obama, along with Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, for help in cleaning up her image.

All three declined to help Lohan, leading TMZ to accuse Obama of wimping out for taking a pass on that one.

Obama was also uncomfortable with the attention from Amber Lee Ettinger, who made the Obama Girl videos.

Obama expressed discomfort with the videos in an interview with AP:

Obama says his 6-year-old daughter Sasha has noticed news coverage of the video.

“Sasha asked Mommy about it,” Obama said Monday. “She said, ‘Daddy already has a wife’ or something like that.”

Sen. Obama, D-Ill., said he knows the video was meant to be lighthearted, but he wasn’t smiling when asked about it in an interview with The Associated Press.

“I guess it’s too much to ask, but you do wish people would think about what impact their actions have on kids and families,” Obama said.

“This is part of the process of politics that can be difficult, (that) is making sure that your kids and your wife and your family are insulated from both things like this and what I suspect will be at some point some negative campaigning,” Obama said.

Despite McCain’s claims, it appears that he, and not Obama, is the one who likes to bring up celebrities. (Personally I don’t mind an occasional reference to celebrities in politics, as a post such as this should be good for several hundred extra hits.)

McCain Goes Negative, and Dirty

The New York Times reports that some are concerned that as John McCain goes negative he might lose the support of some potential supporters:

The old happy warrior side of Mr. McCain has been eclipsed a bit lately by a much more aggressive, and more negative, Mr. McCain who hammers Mr. Obama repeatedly on policy differences, experience and trustworthiness.

By doing so, Mr. McCain is clearly trying to sow doubts about his younger opponent, and bring him down a peg or two. But some Republicans worry that by going negative so early, and initiating so many of the attacks himself rather than leaving them to others, Mr. McCain risks coming across as angry or partisan in a way that could turn off some independents who have been attracted by his calls for respectful campaigning.

The drumbeat of attacks could also undermine his argument that he will champion a new brand of politics

McCain’s new campaign strategy also risks undermining McCain’s reputation as a straight talker as the negative attacks have become increasingly dishonest. This was seen in his recent ad following Obama’s Iraq visit. McCain commonly suggests that a major difference between himself and Obama is that he would lower taxes while Obama would raise them. As an independent study has demonstrated, the only taxpayers facing significantly higher taxes under Ohama are the top one tenth of one-percent as the Bush tax breaks to these people are ended. and others have noted multiple untrue statements in McCain’s attacks on taxes.

Another difference McCain has been distorting recently is over health care policy. McCain distorts Obama’s position when he erroneously describes it as government taking over health care. He fails to note that Obama’s plan would continue the current system of private insurance. McCain also fails to mention how his plan would reduce coverage from private insurance and leave individuals responsible for a greater proportion of their health care expenses. While Republicans regularly use scare tactics on Democratic health care proposals, those who are currently insured and desire to keep this coverage should vote Democratic and help stop McCain’s plan. Of course those without health insurance are far better off backing Obama’s plan.

I was happy to see The New York Times make an issue out of McCain going negative. Unfortunately the article does not go far enough in reporting how McCain’s campaign has not only become negative but has become outright dishonest. They also draw the wrong conclusion from observing Hillary Clinton’s campaign if they believe such tactics will work. Clinton used similar dishonest tactics ever since she found that Obama was challenging her for the nomination. Her use of such tactics repeatedly backfired, providing voters with more reason to support Obama in response. Those who campaign as dishonestly as Clinton, and now McCain, are bound to govern n such a manner. Just as Democratic primary voters realized this and supported Obama, many independent and swing voters will do the same in response to McCain joining Clinton on the low road.

Libertarian Vote Shifts West To Democrats

Chuck Todd recently discussed how many western states have moved from the Republicans to the Democrats on Meet the Press. He attributed this shift to more libertarian-minded and secular Republicans who have voted Democratic in response to the domination of the Republican Party by the religious right.

DNC Members Respond To PUMA Emails

The internet has proven to be a valuable tool for political fund raising and spreading of ideas, but it also has its negative side. Nut groups create echo chambers which allow them to hear others repeating their irrational ideas, reinforcing these beliefs in their minds. The internet also gives them the ability to spread their ideas. The kooks backing Ron Paul provided the rest of the world with seemingly endless laughs as they flamed boards all over the internet with their irrational (and unfortunately, frequently racist and anti-Semitic) rants. Just when we thought that the Paul supporters might maintain the record for being the nuttiest group on the internet, their position is now being challenged by the PUMA groups, who sometimes even share racist attitudes with the Paul supporters.

As I noted previously, PUMA is an acronym for Party Unity My Ass. This is the slogan of the most extreme Clinton supporters who believe every lie about Obama spread by the Clinton campaign during the race, failing to recognize that these were lies told for political gain which were supposed to be forgotten the minute Clinton conceded. These people actually believe that Clinton received more votes than Obama, that the party machinery supported Obama over Clinton, that Clinton is more experienced and competent than Obama, that Clinton is more liberal than Obama, and that Obama, as opposed to Clinton, was the one who violated the basic principles of democracy in their use of Michigan and Florida. These are people who, despite claims of being pro-women, are willing to see the return of shirt hanger abortions as they support McCain over Obama.

As their delusions include the belief that Obama stole the nomination from Clinton they are emailing members of the Democratic National Committee demanding that there be a roll call at the convention, believing that Clinton would win. They are maintaining copies of their replies in order to encourage further outrage against the Democratic establishment backing Obama, but most people would find them rather amusing. Ben Smith has gathered some of them for our entertainment:

Donna Brazile: “Stop the hate. Not sure if you know, but we are keeping copies of all these emails in the archives. Yes, you are not going to get away with pretending to be for Hillary. She is a leader of the Dem party.”

Former DNC chair Don Fowler: “I must confess a bit of fatigue and irritation with people who continue to carp, complain, and criticize the results of the primary and lay down conditions for their support. The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t establish conditions to recognize the Boston Celtics as NBA Champions; Roger Federer did not demand concessions before recognizing that Rafael Nadal defeated him at Wimbledon.

California DNCer Garry Shay: “The racist bullsh**I have gotten from my fellow Clinton supporters has been enough to make me puke. You have a choice. No one would be forcing you. It is a choice. A choice you will have to live with. 100 years in Iraq if McCain gets elected. Thousands more dead American Soldiers.”

WA Democratic Chairman Dwight Pelz: “Man, you have to chill. Try tennis.”

CA superdelegate Steven Ybarra: “Good for you, when the fascists come in the middle of the night to take you to a concentration camp, remember how you voted. Take me off your whiner list . . .then tell them to stop calling me telling me that they are going to vote for mccain. i am would rather vote for a rabid dog than any Fascist republican like mccain. read the declaration of independence.”

DNCer Ben Johnson: “When God was giving out brains…you thought he said trains…and you missed yours. Who gives a croc what you do, its your business fool.”

AZ superdelegate Carolyn Warner: “GOD WILL GUIDE THE HAND OF JUDGMENT THAT WILL STRIKE YOU DOWN! Do not email us again. Thank you.”

RAND Corporation Confirm that Kerry and Obama Are Right While Bush and McCain Are Wrong on Terrorism

As I’ve noted in the past (here and here), George Bush attacked John Kerry for arguing that, while military force might also be needed, the war on terror was primarily a matter of law enforcement and intelligence gathering. The previous posts note that successes in fighting terrorism have also primarily been cases of law enforcement. The McCain campaign has launched similar attacks against Obama.

It looks like it is time for McCain to flip-flop once again and adopt another one of Obama’s positions. The Rand Corporation issued a report  which found that law enforcement and intelligence have been more effective than use of the military in fighting terrorism:

In looking at how other terrorist groups have ended, the RAND study found that most terrorist groups end either because they join the political process, or because local police and intelligence efforts arrest or kill key members. Police and intelligence agencies, rather than the military, should be the tip of the spear against al Qaida in most of the world, and the United States should abandon the use of the phrase “war on terrorism,” researchers concluded.

“The United States cannot conduct an effective long-term counterterrorism campaign against al Qaida or other terrorist groups without understanding how terrorist groups end,” said Seth Jones, the study’s lead author and a political scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “In most cases, military force isn’t the best instrument.”

The comprehensive study analyzes 648 terrorist groups that existed between 1968 and 2006, drawing from a terrorism database maintained by RAND and the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. The most common way that terrorist groups end — 43 percent — was via a transition to the political process. However, the possibility of a political solution is more likely if the group has narrow goals, rather than a broad, sweeping agenda like al Qaida possesses.

The second most common way that terrorist groups end — 40 percent — was through police and intelligence services either apprehending or killing the key leaders of these groups. Policing is especially effective in dealing with terrorists because police have a permanent presence in cities that enables them to efficiently gather information, Jones said.

Military force was effective in only 7 percent of the cases examined; in most instances, military force is too blunt an instrument to be successful against terrorist groups, although it can be useful for quelling insurgencies in which the terrorist groups are large, well-armed and well-organized, according to researchers. In a number of cases, the groups end because they become splintered, with members joining other groups or forming new factions. Terrorist groups achieved victory in only 10 percent of the cases studied.

Jones says the study has crucial implications for U.S. strategy in dealing with al Qaida and other terrorist groups. Since al Qaida’s goal is the establishment of a pan-Islamic caliphate, a political solution or negotiated settlement with governments in the Middle East is highly unlikely. The terrorist organization also has made numerous enemies and does not enjoy the kind of mass support received by other organizations such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, largely because al Qaida has not engaged in sponsoring any welfare services, medical clinics, or hospitals.

The study recommends the United States should adopt a two-front strategy: rely on policing and intelligence work to root out the terrorist leaders in Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East, and involve military force — though not necessarily the U.S. military — when insurgencies are involved.

The United States also should avoid the use of the term, “war on terror,” and replace it with the term “counterterrorism.” Nearly every U.S. ally, including the United Kingdom and Australia, has stopped using “war on terror,” and Jones said it’s more than a mere matter of semantics.

LA Times Blog Editor Explains Position on Edwards Scandal

I recently quoted from from an email from Tony Pierce to the bloggers at The Los Angeles Times regarding not posting further on the John Edwards scandal. Bloggasm has interviewed Tony Pierce who explained his reasons for sending this email and discussed coverage of the story.