Mitt Romney

Calvin Trillin: Newt lays into Mitt


It’s “pious baloney.” Yes, pious baloney.

What Mitt speaks, Newt says, is remarkably phony:

His citizen pose is all hooey;

He’s hungered for office like Thomas E. Dewey.

And what he was doing those years spent at Bain

Was not create jobs but cause working stiffs pain.

While Newt covers Mitt’s smooth exterior with blotches,

Obama’s campaign staff just carefully watches.

Calvin Trillin: Deadline poet (The Nation 1/30/2012)

The GOP primary: Enjoy the show


The 49ers game isn’t until Sunday, but in the meantime, I hope everyone’s enjoying the spectacle that is the Republican primary in South Carolina. First off, we have John King asking His Newtness about allegations that he wanted an “open marriage” and setting off a classic Newtron bomb. Then we have all the discussion on CNN about Mitt Romney’s (allegedly) huge penis. And of course, the SuperPac ads accusing Romney of being a serial killer (“Mitt the Ripper.”) Oh, and by the way: Did anybody actually win the Iowa Caucuses? Does anybody actually care?

Party on, Repubs. You’re doing better every day.

Louis Dunn comments on Mitt Romney statement that “corporations are people”


“Corporations are people, my friend,” says Mitt Romney on the campaign trail.

Hear him emphasize and embellish the point:

Guardian graphic by Louis Dunn

Editor’s notes


When I was working on my college paper, the vice-president for academic affairs, a rather serious man named William Brennan, delivered a lecture on some obscure topic to a group of, I think, economic majors, and somehow, a Wesleyan Argus reporter was there to cover it. The young journalist gave a fair rendition of the event, and the headline an editor wrote was about the most accurate thing I’ve ever seen in a newspaper. It read:

“Brennan bores small crowd.”

The New York Times, which never runs headlines like that, is having an internal debate over — seriously — whether its reporters should be free to tell the truth.

That’s right: The Public Editor, Arthur S. Brisbane, asked in his Jan. 12 column whether “reporters should challenge ‘facts’ that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.”

In other words, if the president tells an obvious, outright lie, should the Times point that out — or just repeat his inaccurate statement as fact, since in fact the president said it?

Should newspaper reporters be reporters, or stenographers?

It’s so silly, but it reminds me of what’s always annoyed me about the skilled, highly trained and often brilliant staff people at the Times: They’re not allowed to tell the truth.

After just about every press conference on the War in Iraq, for example, I would have written:

“President Bush lied to the public again today, noting — in direct contrast to the evidence on the ground — that the war is going well and that the invasion had nothing to do with oil.”

I know the Times would never go that far, but Brisbane actually had to ask:

“On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney often says President Obama has made speeches ‘apologizing for America,’ a phrase to which Paul Krugman objected in a Dec. 23 column, arguing that politics has advanced to the ‘post-truth’ stage.

“As an Op-Ed columnist, Mr. Krugman clearly has the freedom to call out what he thinks is a lie. My question for readers is: should news reporters do the same?”

Huh? Should reporters be able to report that the likely Republican candidate for president is making stuff up that he knows or ought to know has no basis in factual reality? Is that something the voters need to know?

And the big papers wonder why they’re losing readers.

Newt Gingrich, commie radical


Actually, more likely Newt Gingrich, Scorched Earth Opportunist, but whatever, we’ll take it: Newt — he the friend of plutocrats and one-time lobbyist for predatory lenders — is launching an assault on Mitt Romney, calling him, in essence, a capitalist pig who exploits the workers.

The fact that it’s true makes the story even more fun. As does the fact that Romney has run so far to the right in the primaries that Obama — by any standard in serious trouble — now has a natural line of attack against the candidate most likely to offer him a credible challenge.

Here’s CalBuzz:

The Occupy Wall Street movement has succeeded in pushing the issue of the nation’s vast wage and wealth disparity onto the agenda of the 2012 campaign. While Republicans in the past have been successful in dismissing discussion and debate about the Third World levels of wealth concentration in the U.S. as unpatriotic “class warfare,” the inarguable facts about the massive gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else are now well-known by many mainstream voters, at a time when Romney stands as a central casting character representing the 1%.

Paul Hogarth at BeyondChron says that ” many of us wish that Democrats had the chutzpah to be this scathing and direct,” and I can’t argue with that. The good news is that the Newtclear Bombs in South Carolina will probably work: Romney’s going to win the nomination, and everybody knows it, but the blitz of revenge ads may wound Romney enough to convince the Obama folks that this is the line of attack to use during the general election.

In other words, Newt is pushing the Democratic party to the left, legitimizing the class warfare that the Republicans so love to denounce as unAmerican.

How much do we love this?

What? Glenn Beck in for Strephanie Miller on Green 960


As we were driving to work this morning (1/4/2012), we were surprised and angered to find Glenn Beck, the rightwing  broadcaster who was too much for Fox News, replacing Stephanie Miller, the liberal, articulate, and clever talk show host on Green 960. How in the world could that be?  How in the world could the Clear Channel broadcast conglomerate put Beck on morning drive time on Green 960, which up to now had “proudly” proclaimed itself as the progressive radio station in progressive San Francisco? .How could it make this crucial political change at the very start of the presidential electon season?  Was it because Clear Channel is now owned by another conglomerate involving Mitt Romney? (In 2008, a Boston-based private equity firm purchased Clear Channel in a leveraged buyout, according to the Bradblog.)  Has Clear Channel/Romney no shame?

I have often tried in vain through the years to contact Clear Channel for explanation or comment on news stories. This time, I  am happy to turn the job over to the Bradblog below, operated by Brad Friedman, who runs an excellent independent blog specializing in investigative reporting, broadcast analysis, and election integrity issues.

Read what he has to say and get good and mad. Clear Channel is screwing the City and County of San Francisco yet again. Resist! B3

How scary is Iowa?


I know, I know: It doesn’t deserve the hype. And Mitt Romney’s going to be the Republican nominee anyway; the rest is all theater. And I was just joking about how it might help Obama if one of the true wingnuts won the Iowa Caucuses.

But in the cold light of a Jan. 4 morning, I have to say:

It’s pretty fucking scary that the voters in Iowa not only took seriously but gave a fair amount of support to someone who has made much of his career out of being a homophobe and a racist. Oh, and really, really stupid:

“There are people who were gay and lived the gay lifestyle and aren’t anymore. I don’t know if that’s the similar situation or that’s the case for anyone that’s black. It’s a behavioral issue as opposed to a color of the skin issue, and that’s the diff for serving in the military.”

Seriously: I know that he only got 30,000 votes, and there are a lot of evangelical Christians in Iowa, and I suppose not all of them hate queer people. Al Sharpton — and whatever you say, Sharpton’s no political fool — says that Santorum helps the Democrats by forcing Romney to continue to pander to the right. And I don’t believe that even 25 percent of the Republican voters in the nation as a whole would support someone with Santorum’s views.

But still: It’s 2012. And the most virulently antigay candidate in a right-wing field is right up near the top in the first real contest.

Isn’t that a little bit alarming?

The Iowa Caucuses are silly (but we’re all watching)


We all know (or we ought to) that Iowa is radically unrepresentative of the United States and that the Iowa Caucuses are a dumb barometer for choosing a president and that only really insane news media coverage has made this into such a big event. And this year it’s a freak show, complete with Santorum Salad and a weird World War II reference and that creepy guy calling that deadly dull guy a liar and lots of other fun Republican tomfoolery.

But here’s the question for those of us who don’t vote in Iowa (and wouldn’t be hanging out at a Republican caucus anyway): Is it better for one of the major-league wingnuts to win, or should we all hope that Mitt Romney, who is going to be the nominee anyway, comes out ahead and we can stop wasting our time talking about Michelle Bachman, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and that guy named Santorum?

Seriously: Is it better for the country to have the Republicans look even crazier than they really are, and have someone who’s gone far off the deep end become the front-runner, and leave Obama looking like the only grownup in the race — or is it better if Iowans dismiss the worst of the worst and go with someone who’s just a typical opportunistic sack of shit but who once managed to run the liberal state of Massachussetts and probably wouldn’t attempt to have half of San Francisco locked in prison on general principles?

I must admit, I’m tempted to root for the nutjobs.

Dear Obama


HERBWISE Dear Obama,

Hey, how are you? You haven’t responded to my tweets, so I though I’d get at you on here. We have some things to discuss.

In all of the hubbub surrounding Occupy, the nationally-coordinated strikes on encampments, the general unrest, and the inspirational organizing taking place during this dour period of history our country is now experiencing, you’ve made next to no response.

But your federal agencies have managed to find time in the middle of said havoc to attack marijuana dispensaries and grow-ops that are legal under state law. Last week, they raided (way too much of that word going around these days) 15 of them in Washington State.

Weird, why?

On a related note, we need to talk about Sativex. Oh what, you thought we didn’t know? Don’t make this turn into a Beyonce video.

Let me tell you what I’m for sure about, and then we can talk about what I don’t understand.

I know for sure that Sativex is a drug developed by British company GW Pharmaceuticals, which declined to answer any of my phone calls while researching this letter so it’s a little unclear where exactly the drug stands on its path to legality in the US (it’s already being prescribed in Europe and Canada). Sativex is used to treat multiple sclerosis spasticity, or muscle tightness. Currently, it is in Stage III trials in the United States for use in the treatment of cancer patients, trials that are being conducted by Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, the company handling the drug’s development in the US.

Sativex (and this really gets to the heart about why I’m writing to you via the Guardian cannabis column) is made from marijuana. It has been tinctured and refined into a mouth spray that contains both THC, and — unlike the synthetically engineered Marinol, which is currently being prescribed in the United States to deal with nausea and lack of appetite in cancer patients — cannabidiol, or CBD, the other cannabinoid in marijuana. It doesn’t work as fast as smoking the stuff though, in a doobie say, or bong.

But it is still cannabis albeit in an adulterated form and if things proceed as they have been, doctors will be able to legally prescribe it. Of course, it’ll be way more expensive than Humboldt’s finest — estimates for cost of treatment are pegged around $16 a day.

Now. The other day, as I wrote in this selfsame column (“Some joy in Mudville”, 10/16/11) I ran into a one Lynette Shaw, who runs the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana. She’s a patient herself and has been fighting for safe, comprehensive access to medical cannabis for over two decades. Her Fairfax dispensary, which sits on land the city specifically zoned for the purpose, is in danger of being closed because federal agents have threatened her landlord with jail time for allowing his property to host illegal drug trafficking.

Marin County, for whatever reason, has one of the highest incidents of breast cancer in the country. Is this where Sativex will be marketed?

We’ve all been wondering, Prez, why on Earth your administration would choose this moment in time to make moves on state-legal growing operations. We’ve been told that it’s election year maneuvering, but even that’s not cynical enough for me.

Here is what is not: you’ve received more than $1.6 million from the health sector — doctor’s associations, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies — since the beginning of the year. That’s more than any other candidate, in fact you edged out the next runner-up Mitt Romney by over $700,000. It would appear that Big Pharma has identified its horse in this race.

So that’s it on my end. From you, I’m just looking for some answers. Why processed drugs over plants? Why does cannabis have to be passed through a lab and profit the pharmaceutical industry to get fair clinical trial testing? Must all of our medicine be corporatized to be deemed beneficial to us?

My email’s up there.



A Concerned Citizen

Mormons and Republicans


CalBuzz, one of my favorite political sites, has an interesting essay on what the anti-Mormon sentiment in America means for Mitt Romney. Among the central points:

Gallup found that Democrats (27%) were more unlikely to support a Mormon than were Republicans (18%) – suggesting that in a general election, a Mormon’s hard-right views on gays, marriage, abortion and women’s rights might have more to do with resistance to an LDS candidate than religion itself.

Actually, not all politically active Mormons share that “hard right” approach — Stew Udall, the Arizona environmentalist, Congressmember and interior secretary under Kennedy and Johnson was a Mormon. So was his brother Mo, a liberal member of Congress who ran for president in 1976 as a left alternative to Jimmy Carter. But like evangelical Christians, Mormons in general tend to be conservative, especially on social issues.

The CalBuzzers are puzzled by the distrust of this particular religion:

It’s hard to determine what, exactly, drives anti-Mormon sentiments – whether it’s what people know, what they don’t know or what they think they know.

Are they familiar with Joseph Smith, Jr., the treasure digger from Palmyra, New York, who said he was visited by the angel Moroni in 1827 and guided to a box of golden plates which he said contained what is now known as the Book of Mormon, after he transcribed them from “reformed Egyptian”?

Are they thinking about the breakaway Mormons in HBO’s late great “Big Love” with Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplethorn, Chloe Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin, Bruce Dern, Mary Kay Place and Amanda Seyfried? Maybe they think Mormons are all like Roman Grant, the evil self-proclaimed prophet and leader of the Juniper Creek Compound played by Harry Dean Stanton.

Or are they like one wag we know who argues that the only difference between Mormonism and Scientology is the choir?

If you want to pounce on logical improbabilities in religions, you’ve got your parting of the Red Sea and the burning bush, the immaculate conception and the resurrection and that passel of virgins waiting for you in Heaven. Pick your myth.

The point, of course, is that the stuff Mormons believe is no odder than the teachings of most major religions. But there’s a big difference, and I find it fascinating.

The thing is, if you believe in Jesus or Abraham or Mohammed, you’re talking about people who lived a really long time ago, before there were accurate written records. Despite former Guardian writer Burton Wolfe’s best efforts, you can’t really prove that Jesus lived or didn’t live, or did or didn’t turn water into wine or cure lepers. The Bible has been translated so many times (and by many accounts, rewritten so many times) that it’s hard to know exactly what the original stories even were.

On the other hand, there are people alive today whose grandparents might have known Joseph Smith. Mormonism came to life in a time of newspapers and nearly-modern record keeping. Upstate New York in 1827 wasn’t exactly Manhattan today, but it wasn’t the Middle East in 44 B.C. either. There are still accounts of newspapers of the day denouncing Smith as a charlatan and fraud. Nobody can argue about whether he was into polygamy or not.

In the context of the 1800s, although there was plenty of strange religious stuff going on, the notion of a failed treasure hunter finding golden plates left by an angel (who then took the plates back after Smith made the one and only translation) seems pretty bizarre. That’s in part because the traditional religions all teach that the weird shit took place a really long time ago, which somehow makes it easier to justify.

If the son of a carpenter announced in 1827 that he was really the son of God, and that his mother was a virgin who had been impregnated by something called the Holy Spirit, who was also sorta, kinda part of God, isn’t it likely he might be called a nutjob? Ya think?

And the way the Mormon Church operates, with all of its official secrecy, just encourages people to think of it as a cult. But you ever tried really looking into the Vatican?

My point is that poor Mitt is going to face an uphill battle over his religion largely because the stuff that’s really, really hard to believe supposedly happened a couple millenia after stuff that’s really, really hard to believe was supposed to happen.

Not defending the Mormons here. (Although, if you stipulate that women have equal opportunity and gay people can get married, too, what IS wrong with polygamy?)

Just saying.




Politicians have a limited time offer for you


As politicians push to maximize their campaign contributions before the semi-annual reporting deadline of tonight (Thu/30) at midnight – a big measure of the strength of their campaigns and sure-fire way to keep the money flowing in – our e-mail in-boxes at the Guardian have been flooded with urgent pleas for cash.

There’s a real art to these appeals, which generally rely on some combination of fear, humor, “we’re so close” appeals to “put us over the top,” and earnest calls for support in order to get people to open their wallets. We won’t find out how the campaigns really did for another month when the forms are due, but we thought we’d offer a sampling of our favorite pitches of the season.

President Barack Obama is offering to join you for dinner if you give his presidential campaign even a few bucks: “ I wanted to say thank you before the midnight deadline passes. And I’m looking forward to thanking four of you in person over dinner sometime soon. If you haven’t thrown your name in the hat yet, make a donation of $5 or more before midnight tonight — you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to be one of our guests.”

Democratic Party consultant James Carville sent out a funny one entitled “Backwards tattoo” on behalf of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: “FEC deadline is midnight, and here’s a number to ponder: 90%. It’s so important, you should tattoo it backwards on your forehead so you read it every time you brush your teeth:

  • 90% of donations to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads this year came from 3 billionaire donors bent on destroying President Obama.

  • 90% of donations to the DSCC come from grassroots supporters.”

Comedian and U.S. Sen. Al Franken always writes great appeals. I liked his previous one, “Oatmeal,” better than his current one, “Cake,” but it’s still pretty good: “Remember Election Night 2010? Remember watching Democrats you admired—progressive champions—giving concession speeches?  Remember shaking your head as radical right-wingers were declared winners?  Remember the first moment you realized that John Boehner was going to become Speaker of the House? Not fun memories.  But here’s the thing: In a lot of states, the cake was baked a long time before the polls closed—not in 2010, but in 2009. Every cycle, races are won and lost—months before anyone votes—because one side builds an early advantage that proves to be insurmountable.”

On the other side other aisle, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is offering signed lithographs of the U.S. Capitol (huh?) for donations of $125 or more, or you can give just $4 to help elect four more GOP senators because, “Even with the support of all 47 Republican Senators for a Balanced Budget Amendment, Harry Reid blocking its progress every step of the way will be nearly impossible to overcome.”

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney writes that, “Your donation will build the campaign needed to defeat the Obama juggernaut in 2012.”

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) issued a national appeal for his efforts to stand “up to leaders of both parties” and the scheming capitalist forces: “Across the country, corporate forces have been pushing for draconian cuts to the social safety net, making it harder for all Americans to have a better quality of life.”

SF District Attorney candidate David Onek used his wife – Kara Dukakis, daughter of former Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis – to make his fundraising plea today: “I’m writing today to ask for your help. As you already know, my husband, David Onek, is running to be San Francisco’s next District Attorney to reform our broken criminal justice system. The deadline for our fundraising period is midnight tonight and it is crucial that we make a strong showing.”

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer even acknowledged the barrage of funding appeals as she sought money for her PAC for Change: “I know you may be getting a flurry of these June 30 fundraising emails today, so let me get right to the point: We’ve already raised more than $44,000 toward our $50,000 end-of-quarter grassroots goal — but if we’re going to make it, and fight back against the millions that Karl Rove and our opponents are already spending against us, I need your support before midnight tonight.”

SF Mayoral candidate Leland Yee sent out an appeal this morning with the subject line, “An amazing couple months…14 hours to go before the deadline,” in which he touted his campaign’s endorsements and accomplishments but asked people to dig deeper: “Even if you have donated to the campaign already, a contribution before midnight tonight will make a huge difference. Every dollar counts and no amount is too small.”

Mayoral candidate Dennis Herrera exclaimed: “Wow! It’s been just seven hours since I sent an email to each of you asking for your support in sponsoring my field team’s 10,000 signatures by matching them with a fundraising goal of $10,000 – and we have made some serious progress. “

And then tomorrow, after a likely round of “thank you, we did it!” self-congratulatory messages, it’s back to summer as usual.

Married in Massachusetts


REVIEW Mike Roth and John Henning’s engrossing documentary chronicles the public firestorm that ensued after the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex wedlock in 2003. A state constitutional amendment (loudly supported by Gov. Mitt Romney) was promptly drafted to ban it. When election time rolled around the next fall — after several months of marriage ceremonies — candidates’ stance on the issue was make-or-break for many citizens. (Beliefs are held so strongly that when one conservative family ultimately doesn’t see things going as they hoped, they plan to move out of the state.) The directors mix fly-on-the-wall reportage with vividly etched portraits of individuals, from senators to poignantly hopeful gay couples and activists on both sides of the fence. While things do inevitably get nasty, it’s to the filmmakers’ credit that at least some of the "one man, one woman" types met here come off as earnestly misguided rather than flat-out bigoted and vindictive. Though the film’s events may seem like pretty old news now, it excitingly captures the high emotions around a battle that continues to be fought, as an interviewee says, "one state at a time."

SAVING MARRIAGE opens Fri/10 in Bay Area theaters.

Ammiano outs polygamist DNA target


Today’s Ammianoliner:

Polygamist DNA test points to Mitt Romney. Talk about a stimulus package.

(From the home telephone answering machine of Sup.Tom Ammiano, making his say to Sacramento as the virgin politician amongst the hard-driving lobbyists. Recorded on Monday, April 2l, 2008). B3

Editor’s Notes by Tim Redmond



There are plenty of stark contrasts between the Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns, starting with the fact that all of the Republicans sound like morons and both the Democrats have credible policy ideas that they appear to have thought about.

But the thing that struck me most in the week before the California primary was the tone of the GOP debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, where John McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Ron Paul spent an inordinate amount of time arguing over who was the most authentic conservative.

The c word came up about every five seconds. I’m a right-wing conservative! No, no, I’m even more conservative. Hey, I’m so conservative I think all the immigrants ought to be lassoed with a chain and dragged back to Mexico behind a Hummer. Romney even hit McCain for winning the New York Times endorsement, saying that means he isn’t a real conservative.

And I wondered: what would the world be like if the Democrats were arguing over who was the best liberal?

Imagine if Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton fought over who can be most trusted to reverse the 25-year trend of economic and social inequality in the United States, who would most effectively tax the rich and shift some of the wealth to the middle class and poor. Imagine if they fought over whose health care plan would move the nation toward a single-payer system with no private insurance participation? Clinton: "I’ll cut the defense budget so fast that the military-industrial complex will think it’s 1976 all over again." Obama: "Yeah? Well, I’ll eliminate 90 percent of the nuclear arsenal, quit selling high-tech weapons to trouble spots around the world, and institute an excess-profits tax on any corporation that milks the taxpayer in a defense contract." Take that.

I have a friend who’s in the political consulting business; he works on big national campaigns and does high-level strategy for the Democratic Party. He’ll laugh when he reads this; when I say this kind of stuff, he shakes his head and says, "This is a conservative country."

But I don’t believe it.

Another political consultant, a guy who’s run some of the most important liberal campaigns in the state over the past couple of decades, stopped by our office a few weeks ago, and after he talked about an energy plan he’s pushing, I took him aside and asked one of my favorite questions:

How much money would it take — what kind of a campaign would you have to run, and for how long — to counter a quarter century of brilliant, effective right-wing propaganda and reconvince the American people to have faith in the public sector? What would we have to do to make people think — as they did during the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s — that government is part of the solution, not part of the problem? If some rich person put up a billion dollars, could you do it?

"It wouldn’t take that much," the guy said. But from the look on his face, I suspect he thought it would be close.

I used to blame the media for all of this, but I’ve been in the media for a very long time now, and I don’t think it’s that easy. Somewhere along the line the bad guys figured out that if they repeated their message often enough and funded their think tanks and promoted their political leaders, eventually they’d sell a scam of cosmic proportions to the electorate. We could tell our story too, if we thought it was important enough.

Media to Voters: It’s Over


By Bruce B. Brugmann

The media organization called FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting) makes a timely point on the day of the New Hampshire primary: the media is declaring the presidential race is all but over, preempting some 98 per cent of the voters who will have no say in who becomes the two presidential nominees.

FAIR notes that the Washington Post’s David Broder, the dean of political reporters, wrote on Jan. 4 that “New Hampshire is poised to close down the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.”

Broder, as I like to recall, popped up on a Sunday morning news show shortly after the Iraq invasion and said, almost proudly, it looks as if the President has won himself a war.

FAIR concludes its piece with the admonition that “history would suggest that, at a very minimum, campaign reporters refrain from handicapping the outcome of the nominating process in early January. After all, it’s voters, not the news media, who are supposed to elect the new president.” There must be a better way. B3


Media Advisory

Media to Voters: It’s Over

Pundits rushing to end primaries and preempt voter choices


As the results of the Republican and Democratic primaries in New Hampshire are reported tonight, it’s a good bet that many prominent pundits and journalists will declare the race for the White House all but over–long before 98 percent of voters have had any say in the matter.

The Washington Post’s David Broder wrote on January 4 that “New Hampshire is poised to close down the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.” Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter (1/3/08) likewise declared Obama to be the new inevitable after he won the Iowa caucus:

With his victory tonight, Barack Obama is now the strong favorite to be the Democratic nominee for president. The only one who can stop Obama from making history is Obama…. Unless he makes a terrible mistake in this weekend’s WMUR debate in New Hampshire, Obama will be the strong favorite to win in the Granite State…. Should the Illinois senator win New Hampshire and South Carolina, it will be next to impossible to prevent him from becoming the nominee on February 5, Super Tuesday.

Actually, it’s easy to imagine at least three Democratic candidates still having substantial support on February 5, meaning that Super Tuesday could produce no clear winner. The Republican race has much the same dynamic; though it hasn’t happened in decades, one or both of the major parties could go into their conventions not knowing who their nominee is.

By any reasonable standard, then, the race for either major party’s presidential nomination is far from settled. But Broder nonetheless argued that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign was virtually finished: “A second Romney loss would effectively end the former Massachusetts governor’s candidacy.”

NBC anchor Tim Russert sounded a similar alarm (1/4/08): “Bottom line, Brian, only McCain or Romney can come out of New Hampshire to fight for another day in South Carolina, only one. One stays behind. It is make or break for McCain or Romney in New Hampshire.”

Why are the media rushing to end the primary season just as it’s begun? It’s sometimes difficult to follow the logic. Consider a USA Today report from January 7:

The Democratic contest is a two-person race, dominated by Clinton and Obama. That leaves Edwards, a former North Carolina senator who is a close third, and Richardson, New Mexico’s governor who is a distant fourth, waiting for a stumble or a political earthquake to create an opening for them.

How are four candidates participating in a “two-person race”–especially given that one of the lesser candidates–John Edwards–finished ahead of Hillary Clinton? Similarly, the New York Times’ Adam Nagourney (1/5/08) argued that “the results in Iowa…suggested that the Democratic and Republican contests were to a considerable extent two-way races: Mrs. Clinton and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois for the Democrats, and Mr. McCain and Mr. Romney for the Republicans.” How Mike Huckabee coming in first in his race and Edwards coming in second “suggested” that their candidacies should be dismissed, Nagourney didn’t explain.

The press has been more harshly critical of Edwards’ campaign, so it could be the case that many in the media would be happy to see him out of the picture. (See Action Alert, 12/21/07.) Indeed, much of the conventional wisdom after Edwards’ second-place finish in Iowa suggested that his campaign for the White House was all but over. As New York Times columnist David Brooks (New York Times, 1/4/08) boldly pronounced, “Edwards’s political career is probably over.” David Gergen agreed (CNN, 1/3/08): “John Edwards I think has nowhere to go now…even with a second-place win, because he has no money.”

In an interview with Edwards, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann (1/4/08) expressed bewilderment:

I didn’t understand the conventional wisdom last night…. If you finish second in Iowa with more support from the previous national front-runner, who dropped from first to third, many of the pundits, many of the so-called experts, are describing you as being in trouble, rather than Senator Clinton. Do you know why that is?

It’d be nice if more in the media asked such questions about what passes for conventional wisdom in their election coverage. Indeed, some articles have noted that winning early primaries isn’t necessary to winning the nomination; in 1992, Bill Clinton lost the first five contests, but somehow managed to win the White House nonetheless. This very recent history would suggest that, at a very minimum, campaign reporters refrain from handicapping the outcome of the nominating process in early January. After all, it’s voters, not the news media, who are supposed to elect the next president.

Click here to subscribe!

by Noam Chomsky

Open Media Series: City Lights Books, 232 pages

Interventions collects Chomsky’s essays and writings for the New York Times Syndicate, works published all around the globe, but rarely in major U.S. media, and certainly not in the New York Times. Chomsky, America’s foremost political intellectual and dissident, tackles the Bush administration, the Iraq War and more. Foreword written by FAIR’s Peter Hart.

Best of CounterSpin, 2007 (1/4/08-1/10/08)

Feel free to respond to FAIR ( ). We can’t reply to everything, but we will look at each message. We especially appreciate documented examples of media bias or censorship. And please send copies of your correspondence with media outlets, including any responses, to



By Will Durst


The great thing about the Iowa Caucuses is even after
its over, nobody knows exactly what happened. Its best
described as musical chairs without the music. And no
chairs. On the Democratic side, people don’t really
vote. They attend, then move off into designated
candidate corners, but if not enough people hang in
your corner, you have to go somewhere else. So the
campaign staff that corners the market on breath mints
and deodorant could hold a huge advantage. Hey,
there’s worse ways to choose a candidate than by
picking the one with the best smelling followers.
People still talk about how great Hubert Humphrey’s
staffers smelled. Like winners.

That’s another great thing about the Iowa Caucuses-
everybody is a winner. The whole damn state is
littered with the detritus of winners. Iowa is winner-
tastic. Obviously, Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee are
winners because… well, they won. And that’s what
winners do: they win. But you’d also have to say that
John Edwards and Mitt Romney are winners too, because
even though they came in second, they called
themselves winners, and as big time national
politicos- you got to assume they know what they’re
talking about. Hillary Clinton is apparently a winner,
because in her speech, after coming in third, she
never gave the slightest impression she hadn’t won, so
maybe she knows something the rest of us don’t, which
is another characteristic trait of winners.

Fred Thompson won because he came in third after
canvassing the state with the energy of a three-
legged tortoise on reds. John McCain won because he
spent no time in Iowa at all and still came in fourth.
Which, in some books, makes him a double winner. Ron
Paul is a big winner coming in a strong fifth, if
there is such a thing, when most experts didn’t even
expect him to be able to find Iowa on a map. Rudy
Giuliani, the Mayor of 9/11, won, because he spent no
money in Iowa, which can now be used to frighten
people in states with more foreigners. Bill Richardson
wasn’t really try to win anyhow, and he didn’t, so
he’s a winner. Joe Biden and Christopher Dodd may be
the biggest winners because they don’t have to do this
anymore. Duncan Hunter is what you call a winner in
reverse, since he polled just 500 votes. Which is only
500 votes more than you or I got, and we weren’t even
running. Which certainly makes us winners.

The pundits win because they got a lot to talk about.
And because of the writers’ strike, people might
actually pay attention. The caucus goers win because
their electoral muscles have been exercised. Young
people are winners for having participated in
unprecedented numbers. Britney Spears wins since
people stopped paying attention to her. Hope wins.
Change wins. Evangelicals win. Chuck Norris wins.
African Americans win. The country wins. Lot of
winners here. Not going to be the case in New
Hampshire next week. Going to be a lot of losers
there. But here in the Hawkeye State, the biggest
winners of all may be the residents of the Great State
of Iowa themselves, not just because everybody has
already left them to themselves, but because as soon
as they did, the temperature rose about 30 degrees.
Comic, actor, writer, Will Durst smells funny.

will durst
wing commander
“you want the best, so do we”
2107 van ness ave
suite 402
san francisco 94109
877 SATIRIST service
415 441 3669 office
415 298 1874 cell

Will money win tonight in Iowa?


B3 note: This is an important and timely “follow the money” report from the Center For Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C. It makes a significant point: that even though there are 2,000 or so journalists covering the campaign in Iowa, and even though there is almost saturation media coverage, nobody can really follow the money.

As the report notes in section 3 below, “If money raised in Iowa is any indicator of popular support, Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton will win their respective caucuses tonight. And in New Hampshire, it’ll be Romney and Barrack Obama. But remember that these figures represent fundraising thruogh Sept. 30 only. The fundraising and spending reports for October-December aren’t due to the Federal Election Commission until after the caucuses on Jan. 3l.” The best you can do to follow the money, as we learned to do from Deep Throat in the movie “All the President’s Men,” is to read this report and follow its advice on how to go further. Alas, that’s not good enough.
Congratulations to the Center for doing the best that can be done under current election reporting law. B3


January 3, 2008
tel: 202-857-0044, fax: 202-857-7809

Winning the Iowa caucuses takes organization and money, certainly, but the biggest spenders haven’t always won there. Howard Dean, Steve Forbes and Pat Robertson are just a few of the candidates who dumped money into the Hawkeye State with little to show for it. How much have the ’08 candidates spent to campaign in Iowa? Well, it’s hard to know. Using campaign finance reports, the best you can do is look at vendors’ addresses. But the biggest expenses, like for advertising, staff and travel, are often paid out to companies and individuals outside the state. In the first nine months of this campaign, the candidates reported spending more than $13 million with Iowa-based vendors. If the true cost of the Iowa effort were known, a single top-tier campaign might have spent that much alone — or more — in the state. As it is, Barack Obama’s reports detail about $2.6 million in Iowa expenditures from January through September, followed by Mitt Romney with about $2.4 million. By comparison, during the entire ’04 presidential election cycle, including the general election, the field of mostly Democratic candidates reported spending about $8.5 million in Iowa. Leading up to the caucuses that year, the field reported spending just $5.2 million, or 40 percent of this election’s reported spending.

*2008 presidential expenditures