The Bald Cajun Sings

While Hillary Clinton pretends that the race is not over, and even that West Virginia means something, one top Clintonista realizes it is over:

James Carville has been one of Hillary Clinton’s most energetic defenders, but on Monday he all but declared Barack Obama will become the Democratic nominee for president.

Speaking to students at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, Carville argued Clinton should stay in through the final nominating contest in early June, but said the Democratic tide appears to be moving in Obama’s direction.

“I still hear some dogs barking,” Carville said, according to The State newspaper. “I’m for Senator Clinton, but I think the great likelihood is that Obama will be the nominee.”

“As soon as I determine when that is, I’ll send him a check,” he added.

Clinton has reason to stick it out. She has burned so many bridges she might not have much beyond her Senate seat after this battle, and Bill’s legacy has been tarnished by her campaign even more than by the stain on the blue dress. She might as well hang on and hope for a miracle, or use her withdrawsl from the race as a bargaining chip. Carville, on the other hand, still has his day job. He wants to maintain some credibility as a pundit or Democratic strategist.

Carville also had some ideas as to a possible running mate for the presumptive nominee:

Asked about who might share a ticket with Obama, Carville floated Clinton’s name, as well as that of Clinton ally Gen. Wesley Clark. Carville also mentioned Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg as possible running mates, according the Greenville News.

It certainly makes sense to consider Clinton supporters such as Clark as Hillary might be too radioactive to be anywhere on a national ticket. After all, she’s been rejected by over half of the Democratic Party, and non-Democrats dislike her even more. However many Clinton supporters would remain acceptable. I don’t see Michael Bloomberg as running mate, but I could be wrong. I think its more likely he’d wind up in the cabinet if he’s interested.

Michael Bloomberg States He Is Not Running For President

Michael Bloomberg has an op-ed in The New York Times in which he states he is not going to run for president but continues to urge candidates to take an independent approach:

More of the same won’t do, on the economy or any other issue. We need innovative ideas, bold action and courageous leadership. That’s not just empty rhetoric, and the idea that we have the ability to solve our toughest problems isn’t some pie-in-the-sky dream. In New York, working with leaders from both parties and mayors and governors from across the country, we’ve demonstrated that an independent approach really can produce progress on the most critical issues, including the economy, education, the environment, energy, infrastructure and crime.

I believe that an independent approach to these issues is essential to governing our nation — and that an independent can win the presidency. I listened carefully to those who encouraged me to run, but I am not — and will not be — a candidate for president. I have watched this campaign unfold, and I am hopeful that the current campaigns can rise to the challenge by offering truly independent leadership. The most productive role that I can serve is to push them forward, by using the means at my disposal to promote a real and honest debate.

In the weeks and months ahead, I will continue to work to steer the national conversation away from partisanship and toward unity; away from ideology and toward common sense; away from sound bites and toward substance. And while I have always said I am not running for president, the race is too important to sit on the sidelines, and so I have changed my mind in one area. If a candidate takes an independent, nonpartisan approach — and embraces practical solutions that challenge party orthodoxy — I’ll join others in helping that candidate win the White House.

The changes needed in this country are straightforward enough, but there are always partisan reasons to take an easy way out. There are always special interests that will fight against any challenge to the status quo. And there are always those who will worry more about their next election than the health of our country.

These forces that prevent meaningful progress are powerful, and they exist in both parties. I believe that the candidate who recognizes that the party is over — and begins enlisting all of us to clean up the mess — will be the winner this November, and will lead our country to a great and boundless future.

I’m not at all surprised. It has appeared for a while that Bloomberg was waiting to see who the nominees from the major political parties would be before deciding whether he would run. Back when there was first speculation about Bloomberg running I wrote that, while chances for a third party victory would be remote under any circumstance, his chances would be best if the election pitted John Edwards against Mike Huckabee. This would provide the greatest opportunity to pick up voters from each party who would be unhappy with the nominee and might be willing to consider a socially liberal and economically moderate candidate.

It is clear that the race will not be between Edwards and Huckabee, despite Huckabee remaining in the race. The worst situation for Bloomberg would be an election between Barack Obama and John McCain. It now appears virtually certain that McCain will be the Republican nominee and Obama has become a strong favorite to win the Democratic nomination. This combination will not leave enough voters from either party who would gamble on a third party bid by someone with his viewpoints. Instead any challenges this year will be more likely to come from the extreme left and extreme right, which will not have any chance at victory. Ralph Nader has entered the race but is no longer taken seriously by very many. It is possible that there will be a conservative challenge to McCain, but most conservative Republicans will probably remain loyal to their party. The Libertarian Party and the theocratic Constitution Party will continue to run candidates from the right, but they will have no more impact than Ralph Nader.

Bloomberg Criticizes Washington and Praises Obama on Economic Plans

Back when there was talk of Michael Bloomberg running for president I predicted that he would not run if Obama was the candidate because they would be competing for essentially the same voters, and the candidate from a major party would have a tremendous advantage. Once again Bloomberg was critical of other politicians, except Obama:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has unleashed another flurry of jabs on Washington, ridiculing the federal government’s rebate checks as being “like giving a drink to an alcoholic” on Thursday, and said the presidential candidates are looking for easy solutions to complex economic problems.

The billionaire and potential independent presidential candidate also said the nation “has a balance sheet that’s starting to look more and more like a third-world country.”

President Bush signed legislation Wednesday that will result in cash rebates ranging from $300 to $1,200 for more than 130 million people.

The federal checks are the centerpiece of the government’s emergency effort to stimulate the economy, under the theory that most people will spend the money right away.

But Bloomberg does not believe it will do much good. And his harsh words at a news conference Thursday reflect the view among some of his associates that the country’s economic woes present a unique opportunity for him to launch a third-party bid for the White House.

Once he got to Obama, he sure sounded different:

In his answer, he praised Democrat Barack Obama for the plan the Illinois senator outlined on Wednesday that would create a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank to rebuild highways, bridges, airports and other public projects. Obama projects it could generate nearly 2 million jobs.

Last month, Bloomberg and Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania announced a coalition that would urge more investment in infrastructure.

“I don’t know whether Senator Obama looked to see what I’ve been advocating, or not — you’ll have to ask him — but he’s doing the right thing,” Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg Dismisses Economic Stimulus Package

While a third party candidate has little chance, as a consequence of the poor choices offered by the major parties Michael Bloomberg has moved up to second in my rankings of potential 2008 candidates (with this subject to change between now and November). Bloomberg has dismissed the proposed economic stimulus package being considered with this criticism:

“There’s just one problem: It’s not going to make much of a difference because we’ve already been running huge deficits,” Bloomberg said. “If we spend all the money right now, and there is no recovery because of it, then we don’t have a second hand to play.”

Bloomberg has offered these suggestions:

Bloomberg argued that the government’s first goal should be to stop the bleeding in the housing sector. “What good is a rebate going to do for a family who’s about to lose the place that they sleep in?” he said. Keeping people in their homes, he added, “is more important than giving everyone a check.”

Instead, the mayor argued, the government should:

_ Adopt a capital budget to oversee long-term infrastructure spending, instead of the current year-to-year spending.

_ Offer financial counseling, modified loans and, in some cases, subsidized loans to homeowners who find themselves unable to afford their mortgages.

_Overhaul immigration laws to bring more workers in, not keep workers out.

“Illegal immigration has become the pandering politician’s best friend,” he said. “We have to stop turning away people that our economy needs.”

Bipartisan Forum Meets Without Feared Third Party Campaign

There have been numerous reports on yesterday’s bipartisan meeting at the University of Oklahoma, including on NPR’s Morning Edition, the New York Times, and the New York Daily News. Despite all the vitriol addressed towards this meeting by partisans on both sides, the sun still rose today despite this meeting.

The media, always overly expressed with the horse race, has concentrated on Michael Bloomberg, whose possible independent bid was actually a side issue. The meeting was planned well before the Iowa and New Hampshire votes and came from discussions between David Boren and Christine Todd Whitman who were concerned over the hyper-partisanship which they feel is preventing politicians from looking at the big issues facing the country. They had little interest in a third party bid:

Forum organizer David Boren, a former Oklahoma U.S. senator who is now the university’s president and a Bloomberg cheerleader, said the panelists “did not discuss at all” a Bloomberg candidacy when they spoke in private.

“Why don’t you believe what the man says?” Boren said later.

Participants said they hoped presidential hopefuls hear their call for more cooperation in government.

“Seeking the middle ground is a search for solutions, not a compromise of basic principles,” said former New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman, who said last week she planned to stick with the Republican Party.

Asked what they would do if their words are ignored, none of the participants spoke of supporting a third-party candidate.

“I think all the members of the panel are optimistic that the candidates will listen to us and will understand that there is a deep need in this country and a deep desire among the electorate to have candidates face the big issues,” Bloomberg said.

Just as Republicans like Whitman expressed no desire to abandon their party, Gary Hart plans to support a Democrat. “I am a Democrat, and I will endorse a Democratic president,” he said. “There are no independent candidates. I won’t endorse a Republican.” He did say he plans to endorse a Democratic candidate in the next 48 hours but not which one. Most likely Obama will be receiving many endorsements if he wins the New Hampshire primary as expected.

The likelihood that Obama will win the Democratic nomination makes an independent bid by Bloomberg less likely as Obama has already demonstrated an interest in reaching out to independents and has received considerable support from them. While an independent campaign might have made sense if Democrats had nominated someone like John Edwards, an independent run against Obama would be seen as a purely vanity effort and would have little chance of success. In contrast, the Republican Party remains firmly in the grasp of extremists and hopefully this forum will be of value to the moderates like Whitman who wish to reverse this trend.

Michael Bloomberg, Centrist Democrat?

The New York Times looks at Michael Bloomberg’s views and find that he falls right in the middle. Middle of the Democratic Party that is. Many have gone ballistic over the upcoming bipartisan meeting have centered their attacks on a straw man argument that then are all supporters of a mushy center position on all issues. This article proves they are wrong but hasn’t ended the attacks. Greg Sargent, who is emerging as one of the leading Bloomberg-bashers, calls Bloomberg’s calls for “post-partisanship” “a self-serving, attention-seeking stunt.”

One would think that liberal bloggers would be happy to see that Bloomberg shares their views. The objection is really on a partisan rather than ideological level, demonstrating that Bloomberg has a point in criticizing today’s hyper-partisanship. This only demonstrates further the reason these individuals are meeting. Besides, if a liberal such as Michael Bloomberg can find common ground with the variety of people from both parties who are attending, this could be beneficial. Should moderates such as Christine Todd Whitman ever manage to regain influence in the Republican Party, it is beneficial that they speak with people like Bloomberg who support abortion rights and oppose restrictions on same sex marriage. Maybe others there will get Bloomberg to reconsider some of his nanny state ideas.

The vitriol towards Bloomberg and the others meeting most likely comes from the fear that they will run as a third party, harming the Democrats in the 2008 election. The old argument was that there was no point in Bloomberg running because the mushy center wasn’t a valid platform. Seeing that this is not the case, the new argument is that there is no point in a Bloomberg run because he shares the views of the Democratic Party. The point is that Bloomberg’s views would be at the center of the Democratic Party, which is approximately where the center of the country currently is.

Whether a Bloomberg run makes sense, or has any chance to succeed, depends upon what the Democrats do. If Obama is the nominee, then it makes no sense for Bloomberg to run, and I’ve already noted evidence to suggest that he would not run against Obama, and he wouldn’t have much impact if he did. However, if the Democrats embrace either Edwards’ economic ideas, or the idea that increasing the hyper-partisanship is the way to accomplish their ends, then the Democrats would not be offering a viable choice in the general election and there would be room for another option. My main interest is in the principles someone promotes, not their party affiliation.

Don’t Listen To The Moderates

“Don’t even think of listening to what those centrists have to say” is the message which keeps coming from parts of the blogosphere. I continue to be amazed by vitriol expressed regarding the upcoming meeting which includes Michael Bloomberg and a number of both Democrats and Republicans. Via The Carpetbagger Report I read of Greg Sargent’s opposition to the very idea of anyone paying attention to them.

Bloomberg and others get attention because there is a very real sense among many people that neither party represents them. This group very well might not be any better, but I’m willing to listen to what they have to say.I’m far more annoyed by the attitude of people like Greg Sargent who go out of their way to attack them before the meeting has even taken place. It is quite premature to claim they have nothing to say before they have even met.

The meeting is simply a group of Democrats, Republicans, and independents getting together to talk about reducing some of the excessive partisanship. I hardly find that something worthy of all the vitriol coming from parts of the blogosphere. That does not mean anyone expects an end to all partisan bickering or that anyone thinks that there is a set of non-partisan solutions which will magically solve all our problems. These criticisms are just a set of straw man attacks which have little bearing on what they are really saying.

Maybe this will lead to Bloomberg running, but some of the attendees say this is not their interest. Some are Republicans such as Christine Todd Whitman who says she is attending due to the Republican Party driving out the moderates. While it might be futile, I wish her luck in any efforts to counter the extremism of the current Republican Party.

At this time I think a Bloomberg candidacy is less likely considering Obama’s victory. I find it notable that when Bloomberg recently criticized the major party candidates he left out Obama. Obama’s support among independents would make a moderate third party run quite futile. The only way I could see such a party winning would be if it was an election between Huckabee and Edwards. Even then it would be a long shot. Mike Murphy is probably right that “There aren’t enough cheese-eating, Volvo-driving, wine-drinking guys for him to win.”

This group might not be the answer. The current Republican Party is certainly not the answer. However when elements of the left show such a knee jerk opposition to the idea of Democrats, Republicans, and independents meeting, it does show that hyper-partisanship has become a problem on both sides.

SciFi Friday: Two Doctors; Sarah Connor; The New Bond Girl; Letterman’s Beard; and Amy Fisher’s Sex Video

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Last week I reviewed the Doctor Who Christmas special, Voyage of the Damned. The Doctor had a brief adventure between the end of last season, when Martha left the Tardis, and his collision with The Titanic. The above video shows current tenth Doctor (David Tennant) meeting the fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) in the 2007 Children in Need special, “Time Crash”.


Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles premiers Sunday, January 13. Variety has a review:

“Why is this happening again?” a 15-year-old John Connor (Thomas Dekker) mutters near the outset of this Fox series, proving that while he might by the future leader of a rebellion against murderous machines, he doesn’t understand much at this age about Hollywood math. Credibly expanding the “Terminator” franchise into TV, this series faces a considerable challenge — beginning with the usual contortions of time-travel logic — to maintain its initial pace without devolving into silliness, but under director David Nutter and show-runner Josh Friedman, the first two hours roll a slick brand extension off this profitable assembly line.

Occupying a window between “T2” — which featured the assault on a barely pubescent John — and the 20-something version in “T3,” the pilot finds Sarah Connor (“300’s” Lena Headey) vigilantly guarding her teenage son, never knowing when the next portal-popping threat from the future will send them scurrying into retreat.

In fact, John has only just become acquainted with a pretty new classmate, Cameron (Summer Glau), when another Terminator turns up as a substitute teacher, attempting to administer the toughest pop quiz ever. (After toying with excising the scene last summer because of the Virginia Tech shootings, cooler heads prevailed, and it’s back mostly intact.)

So the Connors are on the run again, with an FBI agent (Richard T. Jones) in hot pursuit — introducing an extra “The Fugitive” riff — along with the mechanical monster. The first of several intriguing plot twists, however, temporarily puts mother and son out of danger — though for how long remains anybody’s guess.

Friedman and Nutter (whose enviable directing record as a pilot launcher continues) recognize that simply scaling down the cat-and-mouse chase sequences for TV won’t be enough to sustain a series, so they rely on the movie franchise’s time-travel motif to provide new wrinkles that become apparent in episode two — namely, that emissaries from the future, good and bad, can pop up in this current reality, creating various narrative possibilities, among them another shot at altering humanity’s grim destiny.

Even with that, the questionable logic that has allowed the “Terminator” franchise to flourish (such as a guy from the future fathering a child in the past) could easily unravel on an episodic basis. Fortunately, the reworked pilot (shot in New Mexico before production shifted to Los Angeles) exhibits a tighter pace, impressive and abundant action with convincing effects and, frankly, plenty of eye candy between Glau and Headey — who solidly slips into the Rambette role, complete with the portentous voiceover — sure to be enjoyed by teenage boys of all ages.

Nine episodes have been filmed, and after the premiere the show will air on Mondays until March. If you don’t want to wait until next week, the first episode is available on line at Yahoo! Video for a twenty four hour period which began at 9:00 PM tonight. The premiere will also feature an exclusive introduction by Lena Headey (Sarah Connor).

British actress Sarah Arterton has been cast as the next Bond girl. She will star in the next Bond movie which takes up where 2006’s Casino Royale left off and will play a character named Fields.

The late night talk shows have returned, with Mike Huckabee receiving national exposure on The Tonight Show. There has been controversy over both Huckabee crossing a picket line and over Leno writing his own material:

The striking writers union told member Jay Leno on Thursday that he violated its rules by penning and delivering punch lines in his first “Tonight Show” monologue in two months on NBC the night before.

NBC quickly fired back, alleging Leno was right and the Writers Guild of America was wrong.

“The WGA agreement permits Jay Leno to write his own monologue for `The Tonight Show,'” NBC said in a statement Thursday. “The WGA is not permitted to implement rules that conflict with the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the studios and the WGA.”

The agreement between the guild and producers expired Oct. 31 but its terms remain in effect, said Andrea Hartman, executive vice president and deputy general counsel for NBC Universal. She cited federal labor law.

According to the contract, “material written by the person who delivers it on the air” is exempted from the agreement. The exception applies to shows outside prime-time, which includes NBC’s “Tonight Show.”

David Letterman returned, and reached a deal to have his writers back too. Michael Bloomberg appeared to present a key to the city–to the beard Letterman grew while off the air.

Letterman loved joking about Joey Buttafuoco after the Amy Fisher story broke, and it looks like he should get tons of new material. Amy’s husband secretly made a sex video of the two and sold it. Fisher subsequently decided to join him in marketing and profiting from the video. AP quotes Amy as saying, “I always wanted to be No. 1 at something, but I didn’t think it would be something like this.” Letterman could have quite a time with that line.

Obama!

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With about 98% of the vote in from the Iowa caucus, I project Barack Obama will be elected the next President of the United States.

Sure, a lot can still happen between now and November, but baring a major change it is difficult to see any other result. Edwards’ populism won’t sell in many states outside of Iowa, and having lost her aura of inevitability, support for Clinton is likely to hemorrhage. Dodd and Biden both withdrew, and Richardson performed too poorly to be a serious candidate. As for the general election, the record turnout of 227,000 in a state that went for George Bush is just one sign of the advantage the Democrats have. Some questioned the model used by The Des Moines Register that estimated 200,000 attendees but this number was greatly surpassed. By comparison, the turnout in 2004 was 125,000.

Not only did Obama win the caucus, he “won” in the post-caucus speeches. Clinton’s speech sounded like a speech of the Democratic Party past. John Edwards’ speech was the Dean scream put to words, showing yet again Edwards would never be elected president. Barack Obama gave the speech which would be expected not only by the leader of the Democratic Party, but by the president of all the people of the United States. The Republicans might be able to beat Hillary Clinton. I believe they would have beaten John Edwards. They will have a hard time beating Barack Obama.

Mike Huckabee also gave a good speech, but it was the speech of a skilled pastor, not a president. While Obama’s victory in Iowa will probably propel him to winning his party’s nomination, the Republican nomination is still in doubt. Huckabee did show he could win beyond the evangelical vote, and considering the flaws in all the Republican candidates he might be able to win the nomination. This is certainly a serious blow to Mitt Romney. The conventional wisdom a few weeks ago was that a victory for Huckabee would open up the race for Giuliani. With John McCain surging in New Hampshire, Giuliani could be forgotten by Super Tuesday. The one difficulty McCain might face in New Hampshire as a result of tonight’s results is that the independents might vote overwhelmingly for Obama, taking away potential votes from McCain.

In looking at Giuliani’s prospects, it is also hard to take anyone seriously who could not even beat Ron Paul. The Ron Paul fantasy has ended. As I’ve noted many times before, Paul’s enthusiastic supporters could help him do better than his 4% standing in the national polls, but not by enough to be meaningful. Making a lot of noise on line, and having a successful rally in The World of Warcraft, is not the same as getting real people to vote for your candidate. I’m sure it won’t be long before the Paul supporters develop a conspiracy theory claiming that Paul really won but had the vote stolen. Back in the real world, Paul has the money to remain in the race as long as he wants, and he might even do a little better in New Hampshire, but he is purely a protest candidate with zero chance of winning.

Obama’s support among independents will make it harder for a third party to harm the Democrats by dividing the vote. Michael Bloomberg is much less likely to run against Obama, as has been suspected since the two met for breakfast in November. Ron Paul might still decide to run as a third party candidate, with some rumors suggesting he might be planning to run as the candidate of the theocratic Constitution Party, which is closer to Paul’s current views than the Libertarian Party. It is hard to see Ralph Nader or the Green Party seriously hurting the Democratic Party led by Obama.

Bloomberg Criticizes Potential Opponents

Despite his denials of plans to run for president as an independent, Michael Bloomberg sounded like he was campaigning against his potential opponents in a press conference yesterday:

With unusually dismissive language, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg offered tart assessments of his potential presidential rivals at a news conference on Wednesday, suggesting they are offering meaningless bromides rather than serious answers to the problems confronting the country.

On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Bloomberg delivered his critique in language that was both sharp and coy, and likely to draw more attention as he prepares to head to Oklahoma for a conference that is widely viewed as a possible launching pad for a third-party presidential bid.

At one point, Mr. Bloomberg appeared to take aim at his predecessor, Rudolph W. Giuliani, saying that candidates need to explain how they will fight terrorism.

“‘I’m going to be tougher than the next guy’ is not an answer to what you would do,” the mayor said at the news conference, which was officially held to announce a drop in teenage smoking rates but veered toward the Oklahoma trip in response to a question by a reporter.

On health care, Mr. Bloomberg took a veiled swipe at former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, who signed a measure requiring residents to obtain insurance or face penalties but has since distanced himself from some parts of the legislation.

“One guy had a plan that we don’t know if it will work, but then he walks away from his own plan,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

And on trade, the mayor seemed to be taking a dig at Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, saying, “Some people are in favor of free trade and then walk away from it.”

There has been speculation that Bloomberg would be less likely to run should Obama win the Democratic nomination since they met last month, especially considering Obama’s support among independents. In reading the report I noted that Obama was not specifically criticized. Bloomberg did say, “Don’t say, ‘O.K., Bloomberg’s criticizing A, B or C’ on either side. It’s all of them, and I think that’s the frustration you see among a lot of independently minded people from both sides and the middle of the aisle.” The fact remains that he always seems to leave Obama out of his criticism of other candidates.

Bloomberg’s statements further fueled speculation about a possible presidential run, especially coming so soon before the bipartisan meeting planned for Monday. Those involved have repeatedly said that the meeting is not planned to promote a third party bid but this is the result which would be the most significant. Christie Todd Whitman, in a recent interview on NPR, stressed that her concern was reducing partisan gridlock, but reducing conflict between the two parties is not very likely during a presidential election year. I do hope that this helps further her efforts to increase the influence of moderates in the Republican Party, but this also does not appear very likely.