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February 11, 2008


Your analysis is right. Anytime someone speaks with such eloquence, such emotion, people immediately conclude that it is all talk, no matter. I have tried hard to separate his rousing speaches from the content of it and i have pretty much come to the same conclusion you did that he truly has thought through the issues and has a clear vision for the future of America.

I'm as appreciative of a rousing speech as anybody else-it is a gift that comes only to a few people. My problem with speeches is, being a half-way decent orator myself, I have been able to give convincing speeches(usually in some competition or the other) where I have been able to convince listeners and judges of positions that I didn't really believe in myself, just recited from a memorized presentation.

Now, back to Obama: here's an interesting analysis from yesteryears(2006), well before the start of the presidential primary season, that sheds a fair amount of light and shade on th e junior senator from Illinois as a creature adapting to Washington.

A couple of questions raised from reading through Obama's manifesto on his website:

"Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act: The FMLA covers only certain employees of employers with 50 or more employees. Obama will expand it to cover businesses with 25 or more employees. He will expand the FMLA to cover more purposes as well, including allowing workers to take leave for elder care needs; allowing parents up to 24 hours of leave each year to participate in their children's academic activities; and expanding FMLA to cover leave for employees to address domestic violence."

Would this be explicitly necessary? Should I be visualizing battered spouses taking off 6 weeks to deal with recovery from injuries being covered by the new and improved Family and Medical Leave Act? Wouldn't that be already covered under the provisions which state:
# or the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee;
# for placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care;
# to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
# to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

Another example:
Obama will reform the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit by making it refundable and allowing low-income families to receive up to a 50 percent credit for their child care expenses.

The problem here is the non-promise promise, again:
From the Wikipedia page on tax credits:
"Tax credits may be characterized as either refundable or non-refundable, or equivalently non-wastable or wastable. Refundable or non-wastable tax credits can reduce the tax owed below zero, and result in a net payment to the taxpayer beyond their own payments into the tax system, appearing to be a moderate form of negative income tax.Examples of refundable tax credits include the earned income tax credit and the additional child tax credit in the U.S., and the working tax credits or child tax credits in the UK."

Why the promise to make a tax credit refundable that is already refundable?

Perhaps I'm being too skeptical, but rest assured, I'm going to go over HRC's manifesto with a similar louse comb. I'll be sure to report on any similar discrepancies that I find there too!

Politics, politics...Ah, don't we love it??

Krugman blasted Obama supporters in his NYT Op-Ed today.


Campaign manifestos are mostly vague and full of fluff. They are promises after all. They don't tell us "exactly" what a candidate will do but what they wish to accomplish. Once elected, they are hemmed in by congress, lobbies and myriad other battling forces. We know not to expect crossing every "t" and dotting every "i" but a step or two forward in a direction we want the country to proceed. None of the candidates, including Kucinich with his "Department of Peace" is likely to deliver exactly what is promised.

Instead of the positive "to do" lists dangled before us, sometimes it is more educational to figure out what a candidate is "not" likely to do. Look at the list of debtors they will NOT have to pay off, the list of voters they are likely to NOT piss off, their likelihood of NOT betraying their supporters, the lies they will NOT tell to take credit, pander and save their own behinds. When you are not sure of the positives, the potential negatives often are a good way to hedge one's bet. This time around, missing a candidate like Gore whose positives I am aware of, I am going with a candidate whose "known" negatives are fewer on my checklist than Hillary and Bill's (yes, we should never forget HIM). I know I am taking a chance. But despite Bill Clinton's dark warning, I am "rolling the dice" for Obama.

Michael Blim, an author on 3QD and an ABC (Anyone But Clinton) feels like I do. He uses a sport analogy - he's throwing a Hail Mary pass for Obama.

Ruchira, since I promised- here's an example of fudging from the HRC manifesto:
Helping to pass the Family and Medical Leave Act to enable new parents to take time off without losing their jobs, and expanding it to make it available to more parents and to provide for longer leave.

This is a fudged claim. The FMLA act enacted into law in 1993 (when Hillary was First Lady, not legislator) :
# Subject to section 6383, an employee shall be entitled to a total of 12 administrative workweeks of leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following:
# "(A) Because of the birth of a son or daughter of the employee and in order to care for such son or daughter.

Hillary did make an introductory statement in support of expanding FMLA to cover spouses, parents and children of soldiers injured in combat in 2007, but that isn't the same thing as the claim on her website that she helped pass the FMLA in its original form.

After reading more details at both Obama's and Clinton's respective positions, the one thing that is evident is that Clinton is either a bit more of a micromanaging policy wonkette than Obama, or they have staffers who convey that impression of their candidates. Not a huge difference in most policy positions, barring the technicalities of the health care proposals.

So, in the final analysis, I'm left with judging on the 'fluff' of public perceptions, which is currently swinging the Obama way, but could change on a dime tomorrow, if the media decides to excoriate Obama and beatify Hillary instead of vice-versa.

What did you think of the Hillary camp handling of the Shuster flap? My sense was that others such as Chris Mathews haven't been treated to such vitriol, for even more personal attacks than Shuster's comment on Chelsea. Maybe Shuster's initial refusal to apologize and the apology under pressure from the higher-ups painted a bright bull's eye on him for the Hillary campaign.

Oh, Hillary is a wonkette alright! Except one has to take your "louse comb" to figure out how much of the wonkettry is true, half true or outright lies. She is running as her own woman but keeps conflating her achievements with her husband's. Rather than my wading through the thick smoke and mirror, please see again Michael Blim's comment on the same post at 3QD I linked to earlier. Also see Frank Rich in the New York Times.

Just today I heard Hillary tell an audience that she brings to the table actual policy plans and not just uplifting words to "whoop" up the crowd. She also said that one has to see what states the two candidates are winning. She has won important states like CA, MA, NY, AZ, NM, MI and FL and not inconsequential ones like Idaho and N. Dakota. She forgot to include GA, IL and WA. She didn't mention that CA, MA and NY will probably vote Democratic no matter who the candidate is but in states like GA, ID, N.D., NE and CO only Obama stands a fighting chance. Also, note how brilliantly she slipped in NM, MI and FL. This is what I fear with the Clintons. Even when they are giving you "facts," you have to figure out what the meaning of "is" is.

As for the MSNBC windbags, I don't care if all of them are fired starting with the insufferable Chris Matthews. Let them just retain Keith Olbermann.

Ruchira: Why does Obama stand a fighting chance against John McCain in states like Idaho and North Dakota? I'll concede, arguendo, that Hillary does not. But the only justification I've seen for this popular theory is one that strikes me as silly, namely, that he did well in Democratic primaries in those states. (Which is kind of like saying that McCain can compete in New York because he can beat Huckabee there in a Republican contest.)

Incidentally, I may have mentioned this to in an email to Ruchira, but as long as we're discussing political allegiances or attachment to candidates, I may as well share my new one on the blog: I think I'm likely to vote Nader, if my state is not a swing state.


Only because there are also Republicans (specially younger ones) who are sick of the war. McCain has promised them 100 years more of warfare.

Aside from Idaho or N. Dakota, Obama is as likely win MA, CA and NY as Hillary. So Hillary's argument doesn't stand scrutiny.

You should do what you feel is the right decision. My arguments here are not meant to convert anyone - just the explanation for why I cannot bring myself to feel comfortable with the specter of a third Clinton administration. The dynastic trend doesn't sit well with me either.

I am not an Obama cheerleader. My real choice was Al Gore. Just as you explained to me in your email about your lack of enthusiasm for Obama, in my case, Obama grates on me less than Hillary does.

I too will vote Nader (the last I heard, he will only run if Hillary is the Democratic candidate) or not vote at all if the party insiders nominate Hillary with the help of super delegates and neutralize popular votes in the event that Obama ends up winning more primaries and caucuses.

I agree, Hillary's argument -- that she's winning in the important states -- doesn't stand scrutiny. My opinion is that Democratic primary and caucus results tell us nothing about potential electability. But if you're right about a growing anti-war (or anti-this-war) sentiment among right-leaning voters, then it's certainly plausible that Obama could compete in rural areas (or at least rural areas in the mountains and midwest, where apartheid was not until recently a way of life).

For what it's worth, I expect that it will come down to the same swing states it always comes down to: Florida, Ohio, and the like. But if it doesn't, that would be exciting.

What a worthy reason for starting a blog! I'm counting down the days, hours, minutes until W is gone. As for me, I'm going to be happy to vote for Obama or Hillary in the general election. And as the states start piling up in his favor, it's looking more like Obama every day.

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