Archive: July, 2008

Barack’s Excellent Overseas Adventure V: But can he dunk?

Throughout his overseas tour last week, Barack Obama proved he can score from beyond the 3-point circle when it comes to foreign affairs. Now that he’s home, he needs to get busy showing voters he can bump and grind down in the paint and put up some points domestically. And if he’s searching for a way to play above the rim, he need look no further than the July employment report coming out from the Labor Department this Friday. (More)

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Barack’s Excellent Overseas Adventure IV: Careful what you wish for, Sen. McCain

Yesterday was filled with delicious ironies for Barack Obama, including a love-fest with Israeli leaders and a national poll showing him up 47%-41% over John McCain. McCain, who carped Obama into taking his magic Mideast media tour in the first place, found himself on the losing end of the press competition again as Hurricane Dolly wiped out his helicopter ride to an oil rig in the Gulf today, and an errant tanker poured hundreds of thousands of gallons of stinky fuel over McCain’s advocacy of “safer” offshore oil drilling. A stunning “presidential” photo of Obama on the op-ed page of the Washington Post today sums up the troubles being seen by McCain: Obama looks for all the world like Steve McQueen in Bullitt, pointing his finger like a toy gun, looking down the barrel, cocking his thumb, and not even having to say, “Gotcha.” (More)

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Barack’s Excellent Overseas Adventure III: McCain is older, Obama is younger. So?

Yesterday, the McCain campaign increased its kvetching about the extensive media coverage being given Barack Obama as he travels through the Middle East and on to Europe. This seems a little stretched, given that McCain has been challenging Obama for months to take just such a trip, but whatever. I actually think McCain has a much better case complaining about the negative media he’s receiving while Obama’s is all positive. For instance, the Washington Post this morning was filled with cool Obama comments and pictures, while media critic Howie Kurtz was jumping on McCain for making a series of “verbal slips” that Kurtz attributed to McCain’s ripening age (he’s 71). Kurtz: “McCain referred to the ‘Iraq-Pakistani border’ in a ‘Good Morning America’ interview; since there is no such border, he must have meant Afghanistan-Pakistan. He has twice referred to Czechoslovakia, a country that ceased to exist in 1993; mixed up Sunnis and Shiites; and identified Vladimir Putin as president of German.” C’mon Howie, give the guy a break — it’s nothing but a little short-term memory loss. (More)

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July 22, 2008

Barack’s Excellent Overseas Adventure II: War’s Over! Race Won!

If the election for President of the United States were held tomorrow, Barack Obama would win 60-40.  Two reasons, both associated with his Mideast/European trip: He snookered the Iraqi’s as well as George W. Bush into coming closer to his 16-month timeline for exiting the war, leaving John McCain out on the edge of outer space with 100-years proposal unchanged; and, the photo op contrast yesterday was devastating to McCain.

Bush blinked first in the timeline derby, announcing last Friday a “general time horizon” agreement with Iraq for the removal of troops (translated from Bush-speak: I’m ready to pull the plug for my legacy).  Then yesterday, the government of Iraq declared (and then disputed) a 2010 deadline would suit them just fine.  Score a big one for Obama — just by making the trip he got both sides off the dime, and at least negotiating with no preconditions.  In the race for photo op of the day yesterday, Obama hit the front pages of half the daily newspapers in America sitting in a cockpit over Sadr City with Republican war-hero/anti-war Senator Chuck Hagel at his side.  No combat helmet for the intrepid Barack, who was cool as J-Z in his aviator shades and a smile as corny as Kansas in August.  McCain couldn’t compete with his grim-faced pose beside Bush the Elder at the latter’s Kennebunkport, ME compound (which the Arizona Senator no doubt felt was a foreign country).  Poppy and John looked exactly like who they are — a couple of aging ingenues suffering from either the lack of Flomax or a deficit of Ex-lax.

Like I said, election tomorrow, Obama wins big.  Trouble is, we have 3 1/2 months left on the campaign calendar


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July 21, 2008

Barack’s Excellent Overseas Adventure I

This week, I’m going to try and bring you a series of short commentaries on Barack Obama’s week long foreign tour, hopefully injecting thoughts not being brought forward by the mainstream media. Let’s start with comments Obama made in Afghanistan on his first stop on the tour. After first saying he favors shifting troops from Iraq into Afghanistan to stop the Taliban and Al Queda from taking over the country and calling Afghanistan the “central front in our battle against terrorism,” Obama observed, “We’re going to have to be vigilant in disassembling these terrorist networks.” Aha, perhaps someone clued him in on the role of the rug weavers in running the Russians out of their country in the 1980s. (More)

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Hot dates for this week (and next)

Tuesday July 23rd. Author Lora Jo Foo reads from Earth Passages: Journey’s Through Childhood, her new pictures-and-text book about escaping periodically into the world of nature from the Chinatown ghetto in San Francisco. Lora Jo, whose day job is directing the AFL-CIO’s national voter protection program, grew up in a family of eight, supported by her mother’s 12-hour-a-day, six-days-a-week job in a garment sweatshop. The reading takes place at 5:30 p.m. in the Presidents Room at AFL-CIO headquarters, 815 16th Street, NW. RSVP to Karen Bauer at 202.637.5297 or

Wednesday, July 25th. DC Filmfest and the AFL-CIO host a free screening of the Michael Zhao documentary edump. It’s the disgusting story of what happens to millions of tons of electronic waste generated by our careless, gadget-obsessed society. Seems our discarded computers and phones end up in dumps in China, India and Nigeria where poor people try to scratch out a living melting them down while breathing poisonous fumes. Respectfully leave your cell phones, BlackBerrys and iPods at the office and join Linda Andros of the steelworkers’ Stop Toxics campaign and Susan Ellsworth with the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade program at AFL-CIO headquarters, 815 16th Street at noon in the Samuel Gompers Room (Mr. Gompers will not attend).

Thursday, July 31. The Economic Policy Institute gathers the progressive faithful for a “lively discussion about job dissatisfaction in the New Economy,” hosted by progressively faithful Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr., and featuring comments by Paul Almeida, president of the Department for Professional Employees of the AFL-CIO and David Kusnet, author of Love the Work, Hate the Job: Why America’s Best Workers Are Unhappier Than Ever (Wiley, 2008). Starts at 3:30 p.m. at EPI headquarters at 1333 H Street, East Tower, Suite 300; ends with book signing by David at 5:30 p.m., which David says is the important part. To figure out how to RSVP, contact

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July 15, 2008

Blackmail by the Gnats

As a taxpayer, I’ve been angrier; as a sports fan, never. I’m not talking about the rent strike being staged by the owners of the Washington Gnats, or the lukewarm response by Mayor Adrian Fenty to what amounts to blackmail by the Lerner family, or even the Gnats 36-60 won-loss record, which at the All Star break is the worst in professional baseball. No, I’m talking about the kiss-kiss column Monday morning by the Washington Post’s redoubtable lead sportswriter, Thomas Boswell, in which he absolves everyone but the umpires for the stinky smell of a deal gone bad and admonishes outraged fans to “remember that the life of a franchise is measured in decades, not weeks.” (More)

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July 9, 2008

A Dandy Fourth of July, Just Dandy

I had a perfect Fourth of July weekend, how about you? Got a birdie and a par in the same round. Took three little girls to watch the fireworks on the Mall (first time for them). Saw Williams beat Williams and Nadal beat Federer in the Wimbledon finals. Watched the Gnats lose by one run to Cincinnati three days in a row (so, not everything was perfect). Spent money. Ate well. Slept soundly. Sure was glad I wasn’t one of the 62,000 workers who got laid off in June. Or the holder of one of the 483,000 jobs employers have eliminated since last December. Or a new entrant into the workforce who was depending on one of the 600,000 new jobs we didn’t create over the last six months. (More)

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