"Straight Talk" - Part III

29 February 2008

Prior to the South Carolina primaries, when he still had some serious Republican opposition, John McCain sent out this horribly misleading mailer about Mitt Romney:

This is a dishonest advertisement. Plain and simple. First, with respect to the claim that "Romney provided taxpayer-funded abortions," it should be noted that Romney did not actually "provide" taxpayer funded abortions. The state law he signed provided expanded health care insurance for low-income residents, but it left the decisions on what to cover to an independent body (the Commonwealth Connector). This independent body (not Romney himself) ruled that abortions should be covered. But the reason why they chose to cover abortions was because of the Massachusetts Constitution itself. It is simply a part of Massachusetts Constitutional law (something Romney really had no control over) that if you provide certain types of health care, you must also provide for medically necessary abortions.

Also, with respect to the claim that Romney "refused to endorse Bush Tax Cut Plan," McCain fails to note that he himself was one of only three Republicans to vote against the Bush Tax Cut Plan. He also spoke out against it on MSNBC. That certainly goes beyond "not endorsing" the tax cut.

This ad does nothing but mislead low-information Republican voters in South Carolina. Yet the press gave McCain a pass on this, and continues to label him a "straight-talking" maverick. It just doesn't make any sense to me.

Part I: "I'm the only one the special interests don't give money to." False.
Part II: "Every time in history we have raised taxes it has cut revenues." False.

Slinging Mud At Obama - Part II

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) recently had this to say about Barack Obama on HBO:

"When you combine that with the fact that the guy [Obama] would not say the Pledge of Allegiance . . . the famous picture of him standing while Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton have their hand over their heart, saluting the flag during the Pledge, and Obama has his hands deliberately down, that is disturbing to Americans." -Jack Kingston
First of all, this is just plain untrue. There are no pictures of him refusing to say the Pledge, and there are no examples of him ever refusing to say the Pledge. In fact, here is a clip of him leading the Senate in the Pledge of Allegiance:

What Kingston is referring to is this picture:

However, that picture was not taken during the Pledge of Allegiance. It was taken during an awful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. See for yourself:

Notice how Obama is even the only one who is singing along. Also, keep in mind that, according to the director of communications for the Maryland Historical Society, modern custom does not require one to put his hand over his heart during the Star Spangled Banner. If you've ever been to a football or baseball game, you know what I mean. Hell, not even George H.W. Bush put his hand over his heart during the Star Spangled Banner.

(h/t Cameron)

Part I: False claims that Obama was educated at a radical madrassa.

"Straight Talk" - Part II

John McCain recently said this while campaigning in South Carolina:

Mr. McCain called for cutting the corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent — which Rudolph W. Giuliani has also called for — as well as making Mr. Bush’s tax cuts permanent, establishing a tax credit for research and development, and repealing the alternative minimum tax.

And Mr. McCain proclaimed himself a believer in the notion that cutting taxes increases revenue for the government by spurring economic growth. “Don’t listen to this siren song about cutting taxes,” Mr. McCain told supporters gathered here under a tent in a driving rain. “Every time in history we have raised taxes it has cut revenues. And is there anybody here that needs to have their taxes increased?”

But nobody at the New York Times bothered to check the accuracy of that statement about cutting revenues. The fact that it seems so counterintuitive should have tipped them off.

Jon Chait looked into this claim, and actually went back to the last tax increase - back in 1993. He found revenues to steadily increase.

The same is true for previous tax increases. Notably during WWII, when taxes were increased and revenues quintupled.

Maybe we shouldn't be too surprised about this, given McCain previous admissions:
Take, for example, John McCain’s admission that economics isn’t his thing. “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should,” he says. “I’ve got Greenspan’s book.”
All in all, John McCain made a very false statement about taxes. For some reason, he got a pass on this, and is still labeled as a "straight talker."

UPDATE: McCain also claims that tax cuts increase revenue.

Part I: "I'm the only one the special interests don't give money to." False.

Poll: McCain's Favorability

It looks like Democrats and Independents are starting to jump ship.
(From Pew Research)

AT&T Works In More Places

(via Matthew Yglesias)

Slinging Mud At Obama - Part I

  • Insight Magazine falsely claimed that Obama was educated at a radical madrassa.
  • FOX & Friends falsely claimed that Obama was educated at a radical madrassa.
  • Townhall.com falsely claimed that Obama was educated at a radical madrassa.
  • Conservative radio host Bill Cunningham falsely claimed that Obama was educated at a radical madrassa.
  • NewsMax falsely claimed that Obama was educated at a radical madrassa.
  • Conservative radio host Michael Savage falsely claimed that Obama was educated at a radical madrassa.
  • FOX News's John Gibson falsely claimed that Obama was educated at a radical madrassa.

This Week's Links

28 February 2008




Conservatives Against McCain - Part I

Catholic League president Bill Donohue has this to say about John McCain's ties to John Hagee:

Just to flesh things out a bit, and to highlight Hagee's insanity, here are a few more of his quotes:

  • As millions of people anticipate the release of the latest Harry Potter book and film, we're reminded once again of Satan's ongoing attempt to deceive and destroy. The whole purpose of the Potter books is to desensitize readers and introduce them to the occult.
  • "Islam in general -- those who live by the Koran have a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews."
  • "I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that."
McCain also embraced Jery Falwell, who famously blamed 9/11 on the sins of Americans (particularly the ACLU).

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald interviews Bill Donohue here.

UPDATE II: Here is McCain accepting the Hagee endorsement.

Delegate Head Count - Part III

27 February 2008

In every single Democratic contest so far where delegates have been awarded, Obama has come out ahead of (or tied with) Clinton. From MyDD:

1/3 (IA) 16 - 15
1/8 (NH) 9 - 9
1/15 (MI) 0 - 0
1/19 (NV) 13 - 12
1/26 (SC) 25 - 12
1/29 (FL) 0 - 0
2/5 (SuperTuesday) 842 - 828 (11 still to be decided)
2/9 (LA, NE, WA, VI) 105 - 56
2/10 (ME) 15 - 9
2/12 (DA, DC, MD, VA) 111 - 57.5 (6.5 to be decided)
2/19 (HI,WI) 56 - 38

John King Interviews Mike McConnell

26 February 2008

CNN's John King recently interviewed Michael McConnell about FISA, while confessing his ignorance on the topic and praising McConnell's apolitical nature (despite the fact that he was caught lying to Congress about FISA, has reneged on a legislative agreement back in August, etc.). Glenn Greenwald writes about it here. I'd just like to say again the Glenn Greenwald should be required reading for everybody.

UPDATE: Maybe John King will write another whiny email to Greenwald about this Salon piece.

60 Minutes: The Prosecution of Siegelman

24 February 2008

Scott Horton has more on the story here at Harper's.

More at MSNBC:

"Straight Talk" - Part I

Back in November, John McCain had this to say to the voters of New Hampshire:

Everybody says that they’re against the special interests. I’m the only one the special interests don’t give any money to.
This is a lie. Plain and simple. A ridiculous one, at that. McCain has taken plenty of money from special interests.

For example, McCain has taken the second-largest amount in the Senate from lobbyists (just behind Hillary Clinton). He has received the most money in the entire Senate from Telephone & Utilities, whom he also wants to grant retroactive immunity. Even back in 2000, George W. Bush was criticizing McCain for taking money from people who had business before his committees.

This isn't directly related to direct donations, but it's also worth noting that McCain has 59 lobbyists working for his campaign as bundlers. They even conduct their business on the Straight Talk Express bus (which is just a funny image).

Of course, McCain can argue that these lobbyists and special interests who work for and donate to his campaign simply do not influence him. That's fine. But to say that they "don't give any money to" him is outright false. Why is this guy labeled the Maverick Straight-Talker?

UPDATE: Commenter Warren Terra at The Atlantic has more to say on Charlie Black:

Black is listed as McCain's senior advisor, and is accompanying McCain on his tour full-time. Meanwhile, he continues to draw full pay from his lobbying firm, and is an "unpaid volunteer" on the McCain campaign - essentially meaning that Charlie Black's professional services are an unregulated donation from a lobbying firm to the McCain campaign. In what I suppose to be partial mitigation of this Black continues to lobby Congress on behalf of his corporate clients by cell phone from the back of the Straight Talk Express - a bus that happens to be the very focus of Republican hopes for power next year.

The whole situation with Black is emblematic, and it's massively corrupt. The so-called 'Straight Talk Express' should pull over on the side of the road; then, before the bus continues on its way, either the name should be removed from the bus or Black should be.

UPDATE II: Conflicts of interest aside, at least he has some examples such as this to point out:
In 1996, McCain was one of five senators, and the only Republican, to vote against the Telecommunications Act. He did it because he believed the act gave away too much to the telecommunications companies, and protected them from true competition. He noted that AT&T alone gave $780,000 to Republicans and $456,000 to Democrats in the year leading up to the vote.
Bill Clinton and Al Gore can't say the same for themselves.

Rush Limbaugh on Barack Obama - Part II

Rush Limbaugh has the following graphic on the front page of his website:

It links to a transcript where Snerdly calls an Obama anecdote "incredulous," and Rush Limbaugh has this to say:

RUSH: Thank you, Mr. Snerdley. Bo Snerdley, the official criticizer of Barack Obama. It is an unbelievable claim here, that it's easier to get Taliban weapons and it's easier to get Taliban ammunition than it is our own because the commander-in-chief has not got the troops properly equipped? Mr. Snerdley is right. I would like to echo Mr. Snerdley's criticism on this program. Prove this! Where's somebody demanding proof? Where's somebody demanding the name of the military official that Senator Obama spoke to? This just can't slide, folks.
However, ABC News has already looked into this story. They picked up the phone, called the Obama campaign, contacted the captain in question, and confirmed the story.

Aside from not doing his research prior to airing this segment, why does Rush have to cover this issue from a racial angle?

Part I: Rush misinforms his viewers about Barack Obama's legislative record.

Bill Moyers: Mr. Heath Goes to Washington

23 February 2008


Bill Moyers: Debt Dilemma

22 February 2008


Bill Moyers: David Cay Johnston


Moon Units

Why You Don't Want to Make Silly Plagiarism Charges

21 February 2008

Bill Clinton (1992):

"The hits that I took in this election are nothing compared to the hits the people of this state and this country have been taking for a long time."
Hillary Clinton (tonight):
"You know, the hits I’ve taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country."
I really could care less that Hillary Clinton lifted a Bill Clinton line. But this just goes to show why the plagiarism charges of the past week are so incredibly silly.

(via TPM)

UPDATE: I'd just like to add that the John McCain sex "scandal" in the New York Times and the Michelle Obama comments "scandal" are equally ridiculous. It always puzzles and saddens me to see how the network news channels will just run away with these stories instead of actually comparing the legislative records, accomplishments and plans of the respective candidates. Shouldn't it be their job to comb over and distill all this information, and to discuss it with qualified experts in a way that ordinary people can understand? Instead, we get never-ending non-sense about "Is America ready for a black President?," "Will Hillary Clinton hold on to the Latino vote?," "What did Michelle Obama *really* mean by that comment?," "Is John McCain conservative enough for Rush Limbaugh?," etc.

Oh well. At least I've still got NPR, WNYC, and the Internet.

UPDATE II: There's also this.

UPDATE III: Youtube users move very quickly.

McCain's Environmental Score: 0

The League of Conservation Voters released their Senate rankings for 2007. This is what their scorecard had to say about John McCain:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) scored 0 percent in 2007 (24 percent lifetime) due to missing all 15 votes scored, including the key vote on repealing tax giveaways to big oil – a measure that failed by only one vote.
I know that running for election can be time-consuming, but the guy missed 247 votes in 2007, including the one mentioned above, which failed precisely because he failed to deliver on the vote he promised.

This Week's Links


Election 2008:

Obama Wins Wisconsin, Hawaii

20 February 2008

That makes ten in a row since Super Tuesday.

Poll: Officers on Homosexuals in the Military

Foreign Policy recently conducted a survey of "3,400 officers holding the rank of major or lieutenant commander and above from across the services, active duty and retired, general officers and field-grade officers." According to the survey, they're more open to reinstating the draft than they are to allowing homosexuals to openly serve in the military.

Free Culture

19 February 2008

Huckabee Supporters

18 February 2008

"He asked that if he's elected that he could be sworn in on the Koran."

It never ceases to amaze me that there are actually people out there who believe things like that.

UPDATE: Yeah, there sure are a lot of crazy Huckabee supporters.


Hillary Clinton on Barack Obama and NAFTA

17 February 2008

Hillary Clinton's website just put out this piece, titled "Newspapers Reported Obama's Support For NAFTA, Desire to Pursue Similar Agreements." Obama responds: "Clinton Camp Again Pushing Inaccurate Quotes on Obama and NAFTA That Were Debunked Months Ago."

Keep in mind that it was her husband who pushed NAFTA in the first place, and that she praised it as a major accomplishment of his at the time (although her aides are now saying that she was secretly skeptical of it). At a 1998 Davos Economic Summit, she praised business leaders for conducting "a very effective business effort in the U.S. on behalf of NAFTA." To this date, she does not say that it was a mistake, or structurally flawed, but rather that "NAFTA was a mistake to the extent that it did not deliver on what we had hoped it would." Whatever that means.

Again, I'm glad that he's hitting back and not letting her charges go unanswered. But still, it really disturbs me to see the level of dishonesty that has consistently come out of the Clinton campaign. I know that there is a lot of talk about how "tough" she is, and how she has stood up to the "Republican attack machine." But being tough and being dishonest are two different things. One is good, and the other is bad.

Just to recap, she has distorted his ethics reform bill, his position on the PATRIOT Act, his Rezko ties, his "present" votes, his position on abortion, his statements about diplomatic preconditions, his nuclear bill, his position on social security, and his position on the Iraq war. This is just par for the course.

"Changing the Rules"

I was just watching CNN's Wolf Blitzer interview a Hillary Clinton supporter (I forget his name) Lanny Davis this morning, and he kept repeating one talking point over and over. According to this guy, Barack Obama is trying to "change the rules" halfway into the election by urging superdelegates to vote along with the majority of citizen voters.

However, this is just simply wrong. Of course the rules allow superdelegates to exercise their independent judgment, but it is not "changing the rules" to encourage them to vote along with the popular majority in the country. That's just another very significant factor for them to consider. Obama is not saying that the rules should be amended to suddenly strip the superdelegates of their power. He is saying that they should keep in mind that overturning the popular majority would split the Democratic party in half, and possibly cost them the general election in November.

What also struck me is that Wolf Blitzer never once challenged this guy on his assertions.

Moreover, this guy never acknowledged the fact that Hillary Clinton has repeatedly tried to change the rules herself. She first did it by challenging the pre-decided rule to allow at-large precincts in Nevada. She even endorsed a lawsuit to completely shut them down just days before the Nevada election. What is particularly striking about this example is that it wasn't challenged until Obama picked up the culinary union's endorsement, and it looked like he might win those precincts.

Furthermore, when the DNC stripped Florida and Michigan of their delegates for violating party rules and pushing their primaries forward, Clinton said nothing. She even signed a pledge not to "participate or campaign" in Florida or Michigan. Everybody except for Clinton (and Kucinich) took their names off the Michigan ballot. Yet, as soon as she won the essentially uncontested state of Michigan, she had a change of heart and started to explicitly argue that the party rules should be changed to seat Michigan and Florida.

These are two examples of explicitly trying to change the rules. I don't think that Lanny Davis's argument will really gain any traction, but I also think that it's highly disingenuous.

UPDATE: Of course there is less of a chance of party-splintering if the election is reasonably close before the superdelegates weigh in, but there will certainly be lots of outrage over any decision that runs counter to the popular majority.

UPDATE II: More on "changing the rules":

Harold Ickes, a top adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign who voted for Democratic Party rules that stripped Michigan and Florida of their delegates, now is arguing against the very penalty he helped pass.

UPDATE III: I had confused Lanny Davis with Jack Reed earlier. My mistake.

Wisconsin Ads

14 February 2008

Hillary Clinton:

Barack Obama:

UPDATE: She won't let this drop. Hillary's new ad says that Obama is "hiding behind false attack ads."

Yet it fails to cite anything "false" in Obama's response. Then, it goes on to proceed with some whoppers of its own. For instance, she says that he might "raise the retirement age and cut social security benefits." Compare that with his actual statements, such as this one from September: "I do not want to cut benefits or raise the retirement age. I believe there are a number of ways we can make Social Security solvent that do not involve placing these added burdens on our seniors." Or this one from November: "I wont cut benefits- it isn't appropriate to raise the retirement age." Also note that his Social Security plan says nothing of the sort.

I think that at this point, it's safe to say that Hillary Clinton is just a bald-faced liar. Clinton has consistently misrepresented Barack Obama's positions throughout the election. She has distorted his ethics reform bill, his position on the PATRIOT Act, his Rezko ties, his "present" votes, his position on abortion, his statements about diplomatic preconditions, and his position on the Iraq war. This is just par for the course.

UPDATE II: Obama has a new response ad, titled "Desperate." I'm glad that he's not letting her ads go unchallenged. One thing that surprised me about this one though is how it says Obama has a plan to protect social security benefits and the retirement age while Hillary doesn't. Indeed he does have a social security plan on his website (available here), which counters her false claim that he would cut benefits and raise the retirement age. But Obama's ad goes a step further and states that Clinton does not have a social security plan herself. I looked at her website's Issues section, where all of her plans and proposals should be, and I couldn't find anything. I'm sorta inclined to believe that she must have something somewhere. The long-term solvency of social security seems like a rather huge issue to just overlook. Am I just missing it? And if not, doesn't that undercut her argument that Obama is the one who lacks specifics? Is this jut like her health care plan, where she criticizes Obama's plan and yet doesn't explain how she would enforce her own mandates?

UPDATE III: Here's an interesting fact: Hillary Clinton refused to participate in even a single primary debate during her 2006 Senate race. Then she agreed to just two against her Republican rival. But she loves them now.

UPDATE IV: Hillary Clinton responds on her website and claims that she does have a social security plan. Unfortunately, all she has to back this up is one comment she made in October, saying that we need to "return to fiscal responsibility" before we address long-term concerns such as social security, and another comment she made stating that we need to figure something out on a bipartisan basis ("I'm going to see what the bipartisan members are going to come up with"). I don't know if this adds up to a "plan." Of course "fiscal responsibility" is important (so says the woman who tried to earmark $1 million for a Woodstock museum), and of course we should allow for input in a bipartisan manner. But none of that amounts to a "plan," and there is nothing at all "inaccurate" about saying that she lacks a long-term social security plan. Her approach is something along the lines of "let's be fiscally responsible and figure something out by working together."

What makes this particularly maddening is that her campaign has been pressing the "Obama just gives speeches and lacks specifics like me" meme pretty hard.

This Week's Links




Election 2008:

Reminder: Jonah Goldberg Is Ridiculous

13 February 2008

Jonah Goldberg, commenting on Obama's "we are the ones we've been waiting for" line:

The Nazis believed likewise about the Germans.
Yes, I guess that those two things are exactly the same.

Just to remind everyone, this is how he covered the John Kerry nomination back in 2004:
John Kerry is a sphincter.
He also said this:
I suppose in John Kerry's world good diplomacy lets the boys in the bar finish raping the girl for fear of causing a fuss.
Why is this guy taken seriously as a commentator by MSNBC, CNN, C-SPAN, etc.? Maybe the networks should stop turning to rhetorical bomb-throwers for their political analysis.

See also, Godwin's Law.

UPDATE: Wow, now FOX News radio is comparing Obama's speeches to Hitler's speeches. Keep in mind that this guy (an occasional Rush Limbaugh stand-in) is ridiculous as well:

Ethanol: A Bad Idea

It turns out ethanol is even more counter-productive than previously thought (according to new research). Maybe it's about time all three presidential hopefuls flip-flopped on this one.

A lot of people seem pretty enthusiastic about ethanol subsidies, so my question is this: Why do we want our government to invest in something that drives up food prices, costs us money, and is worse than traditional gasoline when it comes to climate change? I'm having trouble seeing the up-side here.

Obama Victory Speech

10 Minutes On Whether Hillary Can Win

12 February 2008

(By Lawrence Lessig)

Hillary Clinton Slings Some Last-Minute Mud

11 February 2008

On the eve of the Potomac primaries, Hillary Clinton said this about Barack Obama:

"Senator Obama has some questions to answer about his dealings with one of his largest contributors, Exelon, a big nuclear power company. Apparently he cut some deals behind close doors to protect them from full disclosure in the nuclear industry."

First of all, Hillary Clinton co-sponsored the bill she's now referring to.

Second of all, she has also taken sizable contributions from the nuclear power industry (including $68,650 from NRG Energy, who also gave $5 million to the Clinton Global Initiative, and whose chief executive is one of Hillary's "Hillraisers"). So if she's alleging that Obama passed a weak nuclear bill based on campaign contributions, she has the same questions to answer herself. Instead of directly accusing him of any wrongdoing, she merely throws out the idea. This is simple and plain mudslinging. Furthermore, she has once again attacked Obama in an area where she is actually in the weaker position.

So what happened with the nuclear bill? There was initially a radioactive leak in Illinois back in 2006. Nobody was injured or harmed. But in response, Obama co-sponsored a bill with Clinton to toughen regulations on the reporting of leaks. When James Inhofe (R-OK), a crazy person who also happened to be chair of the Environment and Public Works commission, made it clear that the law would not pass as written, Obama revised it so that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would have to work out the exact reporting requirements.

Where is the impropriety?

Oh, and by the way - this was in response to a question about her income tax returns. After she loaned her campaign $5 million to keep up with Obama's fundraising, she was asked to disclose the source of the money she contributed to her campaign. She still refuses to do so until after she either wins or loses the primaries. Doesn't that completely miss the point?

UPDATE: Clinton has consistently misrepresented Barack Obama's positions throughout the election. She has distorted his ethics reform bill, his position on the PATRIOT Act, his Rezko ties, his "present" votes, his position on abortion, his statements about diplomatic preconditions, and his position on the Iraq war. This is just par for the course.

Brian Lehrer Talks To Robert Reich

Leonard Lopate Talks to Philip Zimbardo

This Week's Links

09 February 2008




FOX News Has the Story - Part XIV

08 February 2008

Part I: Sex Robots
Part II: Sex Teachers
Part III: Lingerie Bowl
Part IV: Panty Bandits
Part V: Hooters Haircuts
Part VI: Sexy Stripper Scam
Part VII: Stripper Fitness
Part VIII: Exotic Erotic Ball
Bonus: FOX Attacks
Part IX: Drunk Upskirt Pictures
Bonus: FOX Porn
Part X: Bunny Bar
Part XI: Teens Seen Grinding
Part XII: Porno-Tax!
Part XIII: Sexy Teacher

Graph: CEO Pay

Mitt Romney: Out of the Race

07 February 2008

He leaves on a classy note:

If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.
I think that we can safely say at this point that our next President (whoever it is) will be opposed to torture and will craft a serious energy policy. Congratulations, America.

UPDATE: Here is a part of his speech:


06 February 2008

You've gotta admit, the guy's good at grassroots organization and fundraising:

Particularly since this money is overwhelmingly coming from small individual donors.

But let's also keep in mind that "Barack Obama is Not Jesus," because the semi-religious praise of this guy is a little wacko. Let's also take it easy on the Kennedy comparisons and celebrity videos. I certainly think that he's the best candidate in the field, but I also think that these things are counterproductive. If the narrative becomes "Obama is a god-man who will solve all of our problems" rather than "Obama has better judgment, better positions on the issues, and a better leadership style," you can expect a "this guy has no substance and I'd rather vote for the familiar face" backlash.

Oh, and the $5 million that Hillary put into her campaign was already spent before Super Tuesday. And she already made it up in fundraising.

UPDATE: Yikes. On the other front, it looks like the Clinton campaign staffers are going without pay. Of course, this ultimately means nothing. McCain was in the same spot, and look where he is now. Running low on money certainly isn't fatal to a campaign. Nor does a surge of money mean that you've got it sewn up - look at where Romney is right now.

UPDATE II: Wow, they just broke the $5 million mark.

UPDATE III: Lest we start feeling sorry for the independently wealthy Sen. Clinton, let's keep in mind that she has raised enormous sums of money throughout the campaign, and had way more cash on hand very recently. She even broke her own record when she raised $13 million in January. It's just that she just spent it all trying to deliver a knockout blow on Super Tuesday. Specifically, she spent it on ads like this:

UPDATE IV: Hillary's campaign staffers are NOT going without pay. They only offered to do so. Her campaign would be breaking records for fundraising right now if it weren't for the fact that Obama is outpacing her. The $5 million loan last month was just to try to catch up. Also, Clinton has raised $6 million from 45,000 donors this month already (compare this to the 300,000+ donors behind Obama's fundraising).

UPDATE V: Obama donor counter:

Why I'm Voting For Barack Obama

04 February 2008


  • For me, government transparency is one of the most important issues of the 2008 election. A secretive government is generally bad for a democracy. A transparent government, on the other hand, sets up a check against corrupting influences and brings in an element of accountability. Furthermore, opening up ideas and decisions to public comment allows for the making of better decisions insofar as it allows for a wider range of input.
  • Obama will broadcast cabinet meetings on C-SPAN and on the Internet.
  • Obama will connect government agencies to the Internet to open up public comment on important issues.
  • Obama is responsible for creating the Federal Spending Database, so you can now go online and see where the government is spending your money.
  • Obama has pledged not to take contributions from federal lobbyists, and to disclose bundlers working on his campaign. Of course this doesn't completely insulate Obama from undue influence. Anybody else who donates to his campaign could ultimately end up asking the government for a favor somewhere down the line. But this pledge does eliminate the most open and obvious conflict, and it shows a commitment to transparency and accountability.
  • Clinton, on the other hand, put together her Health Care plan in the 90s behind closed doors, where not even the people involved knew how the decisions were made. Some of the papers still have not been released to the public (which President Clinton has lawfully withheld under the Presidential Records Act). Of course this was ten years ago, but I still think that it goes to show how Sen. Clinton goes about making decisions, and it doesn't speak well to her commitment to transparency.
  • Regarding lobbyists, Clinton has made no similar pledge, and has even defended the role of lobbyists at one of the debates. According to Clinton, she is simply not influenced by them at all. We all just have to take her at her word on that. It should be noted, however, that Clinton has by far raised the most money from lobbyists of anyone in the United States Congress. She also frequently uses earmarks to insert funds into appropriations bills. At the very least, one has to admit that this is a systematic problem that is wide open to conflicts of interest. For example, it should be an obvious problem that Clinton earmarks funds to benefit the lobbyists who have donated to her campaign. I'm not accusing her of engaging in any direct quid pro quo, but it is a serious conflict of interests and it is one that I'd like the next President to address.
  • When Obama passed an ethics reform bill, Clinton opposed a measure that would have revealed all of the proposed earmarks, not just the ones that made it to the final bill.
The First Amendment:
  • Another important issue for me is respect for freedom of speech. On this issue as well, I find Sen. Obama to be the best candidate in the field.
  • Clinton proposed legally restricting the sale of violent video games.
  • Obama has emphasized the role of parents and cautioned against pushing unconstitutional restrictions on speech.
  • Clinton pushed a ban on flag burning.
  • Obama opposed such a restriction on speech.
  • Obama was a professor of Constitutional Law at one of the nation's top law schools. I suspect that he understands First Amendment issues, since that's a part of the job.
  • When evaluating experience, I find two things to be particularly persuasive: (1) public service, and (2) executive experience (generally as a governor). At this point, all of the three remaining viable candidates are Senators. Therefore, it really comes down to a showing of commitment to public service.
  • Obama has the right kind of experience. He was a Civil Rights attorney, a Constitutional Law professor, a state legislator, and a community organizer. This shows a commitment to public service, standing up for the weak and powerless, organizational skills, and competence.
  • Clinton's work for the Children's Defense Fund is admirable as well. But her choice of work afterwards does not show the same level of commitment to public service as Obama. I don't begrudge her the fact that she went on to corporate practice for 15 years, or that she served on the board of Wal-Mart. Everybody has to make a living, and this does show a general competence. She even continued to do pro bono work on the side, which is admirable. But in comparison, I'd prefer to pick a president who fought for voting rights to one who defended a corporate entity when it accidentally put a rat's ass in a can of pork and beans.
  • I have heard Sen. Clinton constantly tout her "35 years of experience" as an "agent of change." Fifteen years of corporate practice does not count as time "making change." Working on the corporate board of Wal-Mart and TCBY does not count as time "making change." Being first lady of Arkansas does not count as time "making change." Being first lady of the United States does not count as time "making change." Being a United States Senator does qualify, but I don't exactly know what change she has made during her time in the Senate.
Civil Liberties:
  • Clinton voted for the original PATRIOT Act.
  • Once joining the Senate, Obama fought to reform the original PATRIOT Act, and was able to work in more judicial oversight. Although the final compromise bill might not have been perfect, or as good as the one he had pushed, he at least worked to improve it.
  • For what it's worth, the ACLU rates Obama higher than Hillary Clinton, and Obama is being supported by the Guantanamo Bay detainees' attorneys.
  • Clinton wants to change the Democratic primary rules halfway into the election. When Michigan and Florida violated DNC rules and moved up their primaries, the DNC stripped them of their delegates. One could have argued at the time that this was too harsh, but all of the candidates accepted the decision and explicitly pledged not to "campaign or participate" in those two states. For some reason, Clinton left her name on the Michigan ballot and won an essentially uncontested election. Now that she has won a victory without any competition, she suddenly has a change of heart and wants those delegates to count. Her appeals to electoral fairness are self-serving, insincere, and transparent. I'm surprised that there is not more outrage over this, because it completely disgusts me.
  • The Clinton campaign distributed flyers to their precinct captains in Nevada instructing them to shut the doors 30 minutes early, and generally instructing them that "It's not illegal unless they tell you so." These kinds of tactics are underhanded and reprehensible. It's not clear how high within the campaign these instructions went, and the Obama campaign has called for an investigation, but a disciplined organization such as the Clinton campaign should have been on guard to make sure that such instructions did not appear under its name and from its employees.
  • When the DNC approved of at-large precincts in Nevada, Clinton did not say a word for months. But within days of the Nevada caucuses, as soon as the Culinary Union endorsed Barack Obama and it looked like those precincts might go his way, Clinton supported a lawsuit to completely shut those precincts down. Clinton and her husband dubiously argued that the at-large precinct votes would count five times as much as other voters', under the apportionment rules. The judge thought otherwise and dismissed the suit.
  • Obama, on the other hand, was a Civil Rights attorney who worked for electoral fairness. He has stood by his pledge not to “campaign or participate” in Michigan and Florida, and he formally filed a complaint against the Clinton campaign's practices in Nevada. I would prefer a president who keeps his word, and doesn’t simply change his positions when it becomes politically advantageous.

  • Obama would be willing to actually engage in high level diplomatic relations with other countries. Clinton would not do so unless they already acceded to our preconditions and demands. I don't mean to make mountains out of molehills, but I think that things like this signify a willingness to engage with people even if you strongly disagree with them.
So there you have it. My preference for Obama has probably been apparent from the past few weeks already. But now you know why.

UPDATE: Lawrence Lessig gives his reasons here: