February 04, 2008

With Friends Like These ...

It's not that we expect politicians to have squeaky-clean donor lists. You try running for office without, at one point or another, taking money from someone you probably shouldn't. Even Barack Obama, Mr. Clean, has Tony Rezko. But the Frank Giustra-Kazakhstan-Uranium affair, blown open by The New York Times last week, serves as a reminder that the relationship between the Clintons and money has not always been lily-white.

12:00 AM

"This could be heaven or this could be hell," sang the Eagles in "Hotel California," and there may be no more apt summary of what's at stake for the four remaining major presidential candidates in Tuesday's contest in the Golden State. With polls showing a close race on both sides, victory in California for putative underdogs Barack Obama and Mitt Romney could catapult them to frontrunner status--while a bigger-than-expected loss could doom their chances.

A Matter of Trust
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A little while ago, I told Mort Klein, president of the influential Zionist Organization of America, that I was writing an article about Barack Obama.<?xml:namespace prefix = o />“You mean Barack Mohammed Hussein Obama?” he asked, laughing.Klein quickly stressed that he was joking, and that he didn’t put any stock in the anonymous e-mail circulating that claims Obama is not only a closet Muslim--and that his middle name is Mohammed--but also that the senator from Illinois is part of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy the U.S. by winning its highest office.

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There may be no state with deeper historical ties to the GOP than Kansas, which has not elected a Democratic senator since 1932. Yet, in recent years, the Sunflower State-- partly out of disgust with the increasingly right-wing state GOP--has been trending slightly Democratic, electing and re-electing a Democratic governor and sending a new Democratic congresswoman to Washington in 2006. And on Tuesday, the state will likely break for Barack Obama, whose mother is from there. (Kansas Republicans will hold their caucuses on Saturday.)Delegates: 41 (32 pledged delegates; 9 superdelegates).

Release The Documents!
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"The Clintons' shadiest donors" are featured on an adjoining spot on our home page. Generally, it is not entirely new. Still, in accumulated detail, one cannot quite get over how Bill and Hillary live with these scummy personages. And have the insolence, besides, to lecture others on ethics in public life. I've made this point once before: the former president's latest book should not have been called "Giving" but "Taking." In any case, we owe the New York Times enormous gratitude for having unearthed the tale of Bill Clinton's shenanigans with Nursultan A.

The Most Convoluted Case For Hillary
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It comes from longtime Clinton apparatchik--and Hill blogger--Lanny Davis (whose "author's note" protests a bit too much, don't you think?): If You Want the ‘Dream Ticket,’ Then Vote for Hillary I admit my bias towards Sen. Clinton because I believe so strongly she is more experienced and ready to be president than Sen. Obama, although I am not bashful to say I hold Sen.

Vote Mccain--because Life Expectancy Is Going Up
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The McCain campaign must be pretty spooked about conservative reaction to the story that their man isn't a full-throated Sam Alito fan. Today the campaign sent out an email to supporters trumpeting this Wall Street Journal op-ed by conservative Northwestern University law professors Steven Calabresi and John McGinnis, wherein they attest to McCain's fealty to the right in judicial nominations. The op-ed reads in part: On Jan. 20, 2009, six of the nine Supreme Court justices will be over 70. Most of them could be replaced by the next president, particularly if he or she is re-elected.

Health Care Reformers -- Don't Despair!
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We're going to take a moment from the debate about individual mandates in health care reform -- a topic to which I shall return soon enough -- to bring you some unambiguously good news.  If, that is, you think universal health care is a good idea. Today the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) announced it would be launching a $75 million election-year campaign on behalf of universal coverage.

Least Surprising Nyt Column Ever
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From Paul Krugman today: But while it’s easy to see how the Clinton plan could end up being eviscerated, it’s hard to see how the hole in the Obama plan can be repaired. Why? Because Mr. Obama’s campaigning on the health care issue has sabotaged his own prospects. You see, the Obama campaign has demonized the idea of mandates — most recently in a scare-tactics mailer sent to voters that bears a striking resemblance to the “Harry and Louise” ads run by the insurance lobby in 1993, ads that helped undermine our last chance at getting universal health care. If Mr.

James Baker Demands Honest Elections
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Can you believe it? James Baker, of all people, has enlisted in a campaign to get the Supreme Court to approve as precedent both state and federal laws that guarantee both "ballot security and full access to voting."  In this effort, he is joined by Jimmy Carter who spends much of his time certifying that elections in select third world countries are fair, honest and democratic -- even when they are not.In 2005, Baker and Carter led a bi-partisan Commission on Federal Election Reform that did tackle the problem and proposed a uniform voter photo ID.