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    'First In The South' Democratic Forum

    The 'First In The South' Democratic Forum took place tonight in Rock Hill, SC at Winthrop University. Hosted by Rachel Maddow and broadcast on MSNBC, it was a well designed and visually effective chance to get a personal, less "stumped" look at the Democratic candidates. In order of appearance: Martin O'Malley, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. How did it go?

    First, let's completely disregard Chris Matthews and his cohorts both before and briefly afterwards. Moving on ...

    No surprise, they all represented themselves well - and Maddow mostly stuck to her promise to ask "different" questions, interrupt when necessary and follow up. At least she made a heroic stab at it. Realistically, it is next to impossible to stall a politician's talking points when they're not only on a roll but very adept at answering a question that wasn't necessarily asked.

    O'Malley was forceful and intentionally focused, though on several occasions funny and open (he has a kilt, 'nough said). He answered with consideration on several points and even seemed to think (!) about an answer here and there. That was in large part due to very good questioning - some of the best of the evening. Unfortunately he's doomed in spite of his decent performances.

    Sanders did very well and no doubt pleased his supporters - who are in many places but hard to find among the SC electorate. Nonetheless, his fan base was well represented and/but respectful. He was funny, engaging, serious and did a great job of pushing his points ... rarely interrupted or repudiated by Maddow. Anyone who has paid recent attention understands that she supports Bernie. Rachel feels the Bern. She's fair, but this forum showed her preference - as well as her reticence to challenge him too much or too far. A shame, really, because Sanders is probably quite capable of answering out-of-the-box questions if asked. We need a chance to find out.

    Next up: Hillary Clinton. She entered, of course, shaking hands with the onstage audience and chatting. Unless you're sleeping, you're campaigning. She was relaxed and comfortable - a place she's had a tough time finding but seems to finally, with age and experience, suit her. It seemed that Maddow immediately went in hard, which while it appeared a jolt after the Sanders interview also illuminated something else: Rachel takes her seriously. She asked the questions of substance that Sanders should have faced but didn't. Clinton had an opportunity and she took it - she showed her understanding of a wide range of issues even as the camera captured her sincerity. She may have given her opponents some additional feed material ... we'll see. But she didn't stand down.

    A very good night for Democrats, overall. Well done.


    I was not able to see it because of family demands.  I did carefully watch clips and read coverage of it from all perspectives.  

    This seems to be a format that was well liked by many who viewed it. They gave high marks to Maddow and the questions that were asked. It was the first time that some commented that they really got a good look at Martin O'Malley.  He had the most google hits because people wanted to know more about him. 

    The Forum gave the candidates a chance to really answer questions  and to give a good impression of themselves with out the cross fire of a debate. The audience was engaged with all the candidates and respectful. 

    This was a win for the Democrats.  It showed how insane the GOP candidates currently are in the race. It was full of issues and ideas from all three of the Democrats that are campaigning in this primary. 

    My only complaint is they need to get the candidates on network TV and off of cable so people who are not plugged into cable can also be part of this process. This should have been on NBC not MSNBC. 

    Though not likely to move his numbers much, I do agree that it may have done the most good for O'Malley as far as name recognition is concerned.

    I really agree that (like in days of yore) some debates/forums, etc. should be on network television. If you're not particularly engaged in politics, then you may not even see them advertised.

    I can't believe that I wasn't aware until today that Saturday's Democratic debate in Iowa will be on CBS! First (only?) for either party on network television. Technically it's the CBS News/Des Moines Register debate, with one "sideline" moderator from the paper. The Register has great cred, so here's hoping for a good night for all three candidates.

    Thanks, Barefooted. I watched parts on my laptop. Bernie and Hillary did well. As far as O'Malley--- he's not connecting with me, not sure why. Can't see him downing a beer or changing a tire so he doesn't do much for the missing white blue collar male demographic which is about the only space left open.

    Ha! Can you imagine either of the other two that way? Actually, I think Sanders probably has the best chance of reaching that demographic - just not necessarily for his beer drinking prowess. ;-)

    It was three good interviews. But what I would like to see is a civilized conversation by the candidates with a moderator together exploring the issues and their differing views. Yes, I know, impossible for republicans and difficult even for democrats. Too hard I guess to have a dialog rather than a debate in the midst of a competition when in the end only one can get the prize.

    In a perfect world, ocean. If we could take the all-together aspect of a debate and merge it with the more subdued seriousness of a forum it could actually inform voters. Imagine that. Speaking of hopeless imagination ... two or three finalists from each party sitting down together with an impartial (?) moderator and no audience. Not an unusual format for pundits of both stripes, but apparently party to party presidential politicking can't allow such a thing. Then again, the FCC frowns upon live (unstaged) violence.

    I thought they all did well.  Martin O'Malley seemed a bit "actorish", but it could have been nerves.  I couldn't help thinking  about what this forum would have looked like with the three top  Republicans.  Can you imagine?

    I was proud of all of the Democrats and thought Rachel did a good job.  I guess the questions on the cards were just in case it got too wonky, but they seemed out of place.  O'Malley chose a question about inappropriate clothing and answered "a kilt".  I don't remember the others, thankfully.

    And how about those pictures when the three of them were young?  O'Malley at a Gary Hart rally, Sanders at civil rights sit-in, and Hillary's wedding picture.   Really?  They couldn't find a picture of young Hillary advocating for anything?  

    I think this format makes much more sense than the so-called "debates", which aren't really debates but  moderated gotcha sessions.  Here, the candidates were given some time to answer and while they, of course, hauled out the usual canned answers, there was some substance and a chance to clarify.

    I've actually watched it twice now.  It was good!

    I had to put this somewhere.

    But I like O'Malley.

    Maybe it is just the Irish in me or I appreciate the underdog.

    You know , we need an younger VP anyway; and I would vote for this guy anytime.





    Honestly, Dick? I've long thought that's the job he's really running for. Or maybe a cabinet position would do ... which one might suit him?

    Missy, I love this guy.

    Virginia for chrissakes.


    I really would like to see him as VP


    He could really be a unifier. 

    Oh hell I like him. HA

    I watched him with MSNBC with my favorite pundit, Rachel and I had no disagreement with anything he said and he ran a Southern state ....and I like him. A LOT

    This guy might eventually run the Democratic Party.



    Maryland, not Virginia. But close! It was a good sit-down and he did well. I prefer him when he's less ... forceful, but I get that he's got to try.

    Dick, please begin extensive blogging on O'Malley​ as we may be on the verge of running Hillary and Bernie into the ground.

    I understand he has an extensive collection of Brooks Brothers suits which most likely indicates he is in the infamous 1%.

    It's amazing he is even still in the debates given that there is no oxygen left in a room with H & B.


    I cannot even get the state right! hhahahahahah


    what a fool believes!



    I have no idea how many people saw it, but I imagine it's not as many as I'd like. Like Momoe said above, the reviews have been positive for the format, candidates and the moderator, but how much does that matter if it wasn't widely seen?

    At this point, with 17 candidates, the Republicans can't fairly do such a thing. Here's hoping they will later ... probably on Fox!

    I kept thinking about how a format like that would work if the questions were the same for each (others have been kept in a sealed room in the basement bound and gagged) - but then it would lack individually pertinent questions. There are just so many things on a large nationwide scale that beg our understanding of where/how each person -comparatively- envisions leading us that I fear get lost along the way outside of a debate.

    The photos! As if a wedding picture wasn't enough, the conversation was centered on their hair styles. It took three tries for the perm to take because her hair is naturally straight. Thanks, handy to be reminded of what's important to her. Sigh. Even on MSNBC, some things haven't changed.

    I have seen pictures of her in the public domain as a young activist in politics only she was a Goldwater girl and active in the Republican Party. It was later with Bill she became a Democrat on the conservative side. So I guess they chose the the wedding picture to show case her youth and that led to the perm.  

    Momoe, Hillary was a Goldwater girl for a brief time when she was in high school.  She became a Democrat in college before she met Bill.  

    Clinton writes that she began to have doubts about Goldwater’s politics even before she left high school, when a teacher forced her to play President Johnson during a mock presidential debate in order to "learn about issues from the other side" (page 24). Later, as a junior at Wellesley College, she writes, "I had gone from being a Goldwater Girl to supporting the anti-war campaign of Eugene McCarthy," driving to New Hampshire on weekends to stuff envelopes and walk precincts (pages 32-33).

    "I had gone from being a Goldwater Girl to supporting the anti-war campaign of Eugene McCarthy," driving to New Hampshire on weekends to stuff envelopes and walk precincts”.

    Well, that was good IMo, but her anti-war sentiments didn’t last. After she evolved  on that front she revolved. Unless you have worked very hard to avoid knowing it you must be aware that she is considered by most anyone who has paid attention to have been a war hawk for a long, long time.  Her positions parallel those of John McCain and he is crazy. Apparently a very high percentage of people like that about her or else just don’t care one way or the other. I know that that is not the only thing to consider when judging how a she might lead as President but it is certainly one of the most important things. Maybe her hawkishness can be considered a non-issue by some people since all the Republican candidates seem to be worse, but it is a deal breaker for me.  


    "Yes, we must raise our voices. Up to this point, I have refrained from
    appealing to emotion. We are being torn apart by a logic of history which
    we have elaborated in every detail--a net which threatens to strangle us.
    It is not emotion which can cut through the web of a logic which has
    gone to irrational lengths, but only reason which can meet logic on its
    own ground. But I should not want to leave the impression... that any
    program for the future can get along without our powers of love and
    indignation. I am well aware that it takes a powerful prime mover to get
    men into motion and that it is hard to throw one's self into a struggle
    whose objectives are so modest and where hope has only a rational basis--
    and hardly even that. But the problem is not how to carry men away; it is
    essential, on the contrary, that they not be carried away but rather that
    they be made to understand clearly what they are doing.

    To save what can be saved so as to open up some kind of future--that is
    the prime mover, the passion and the sacrifice that is required. It
    demands only that we reflect and then decide, clearly, whether humanity's
    lot must be made still more miserable in order to achieve far-off and
    shadowy ends, whether we should accept a world bristling with arms where
    brother kills brother; or whether, on the contrary, we should avoid
    bloodshed and misery as much as possible so that we give a chance for
    survival to later generations better equipped than we are.

    For my part, I am fairly sure that I have made the choice. And, having
    chosen, I think that I must speak out, that I must state that I will
    never again be one of those, whoever they be, who compromise with murder,
    and that I must take the consequences of such a decision. The thing is
    done, and that is as far as I can go at present.... However, I want to
    make clear the spirit in which this article is written.

    We are asked to love or to hate such and such a country and such and
    such a people. But some of us feel too strongly our common humanity to
    make such a choice. Those who really love the Russian people, in
    gratitude for what they have never ceased to be--that world leaven which
    Tolstoy and Gorky speak of--do not wish for them success in power politics,
    but rather want to spare them, after the ordeals of the past, a new and
    even more terrible bloodletting. So, too, with the American people, and
    with the peoples of unhappy Europe. This is the kind of elementary truth
    we are likely to forget amidst the furious passions of our time.

    Yes, it is fear and silence and the spiritual isolation they cause that
    must be fought today. And it is sociability and the universal inter-
    communication of men that must be defended. Slavery, injustice, and lies
    destroy this intercourse and forbid this sociability; and so we must
    reject them. But these evils are today the very stuff of history, so
    that many consider them necessary evils. It is true that we cannot
    "escape history," since we are in it up to our necks. But one may propose
    to fight within history to preserve from history that part of man which
    is not its proper province. That is all I have to say here. The "point"
    of this article may be summed up as follows:

    Modern nations are driven by powerful forces along the roads of power
    and domination. I will not say that these forces should be furthered
    or that they should be obstructed. They hardly need our help and, for
    the moment, they laugh at attempts to hinder them. They will, then,
    continue. But I will ask only this simple question: What if these
    forces wind up in a dead end, what if that logic of history on which
    so many now rely turns out to be a will o' the wisp? What if, despite
    two or three world wars, despite the sacrifice of several generations
    and a whole system of values, our grandchildren--supposing they survive--
    find themselves no closer to a world society? It may well be that the
    survivors of such an experience will be too weak to understand their
    own sufferings. Since these forces are working themselves out and since
    it is inevitable that they continue to do so,there is no reason why
    some of us should not take on the job of keeping alive, through the
    apocalyptic historical vista that stretches before us, a modest
    thoughtfulness which, without pretending to solve everything, will
    constantly be prepared to give some human meaning to everyday life.
    The essential thing is that people should carefully weight the price
    they must pay....

    All I ask is that, in the midst of a murderous world, we agree to reflect
    on murder and to make a choice. After that, we can distinguish those
    who accept the consequences of being murderers themselves or the
    accomplices of murderers, and those who refuse to do so with all their
    force and being. Since this terrible dividing line does actually exist,

    it will be a gain if it be clearly marked. Over the expanse of five
    continents throughout the coming years an endless struggle is going to
    be pursued between violence and friendly persuasion, a struggle in
    which, granted, the former has a thousand times the chances of success
    than that of the latter. But I have always held that, if he who bases his
    hopes on human nature is a fool, he who gives up in the face of circum-
    stances is a coward. And henceforth, the only honorable course will be
    to stake everything on a formidable gamble: that words are more powerful
    than munitions."---Camus_

    I do worry about Hillary's seeming hawkishness.  I've looked and can find no counter to it, so I have to accept that she has been a hawk and not a dove.  is she still?  I don't know.  Will she continue to be?  I don't know.   it's something we'll have to work on, now that we've moved toward the new populism, thanks to Bernie and Elizabeth Warren.  

    Hillary has the ability to change and over time she has proven that she can.   I believe she's more qualified than any other candidate to be president.  She's not applying for sainthood and she won't be presiding in a vacuum.  

    I realize there are some who can't stand that I say this, but I trust that she understands what she needs to do to work toward the country's best interests.  I think she'll work hard to get it as close to done as she's able.

    I worry about her hawkishness a bit too. We all want peace but Bush Cheney created a big mess and America can't just walk away from it. We could talk about the possibility of terrorism being exported or about war in the oil fields the world depends on. But just look at the refugee crisis in Europe. We can't stand by and claim it's all Europe's problem since the refugees can't walk across the ocean to America. Europe can't handle it alone. For all that Sanders wants to just talk about the economy, and I hope the next president will make some substantial changes there, The next president will have to come up with some innovative ideas to deal with the fall our from Bush Cheney mistakes.

    The situation in Ukraine/Donbas/Crimea, I thought Obama handled rather well. Yet the left blasted him daily as if he'd invaded the Sudetenland with tanks and created World War III.

    When the left continually blasts Hillary on the Iraq vote, they usually ignore the need for inspections, cat-and-mouse games and unknown threat from Hussein - even Hans Blix felt Hussein had WMDs (not nukes) & long-range delivery until Jan 2003.

    The abandon-the-field approach of some on the left leaves the Democrats "weak on defense" and uncredible. When Hillary joined the Senate, I felt she placed herself on military committees and comported herself to fill that gap. At this point I think she's gone too far - especially with Libya and Syrian regime-change ops - but that doesn't mean I want an "all war bad" surrender-the-field approach. Russia will be there, Al Qaeda and now ISIS will be there, various Mideast actors will use our non-involvement to our detriment. Bush/Cheney didn't create Al Qaeda - they just actively ignored it. There's a grownup position in the middle.

    But the refugee crisis is caused by the US' supporting regime change in Libya and Syria, thinking revolution comes from the barrel of a gun? We co-opted the Arab Spring which was about peaceful protests, and turned it into "anytime there's a kind of peaceful protest, we'll supply air strikes and weapons to opponents" and voila, a mess on the ground unfolds. There's much more to civil democracy than that. After the Wall fell, the US largely backed off East Europe to reap its "peace dividend", though fortunately Soros and others stepped in to provide some guidance and well-placed (and sometimes misspent) money. It mostly worked, though there's still a lot of government corruption and the transition to a more-or-less democracy wasn't always pretty - typically uglier the further east you go and the further from western trade and business opportunities.

    No-fly zones kept us out of Iraq for cheap for 10 years. It wasn't tenable post-9/11 I suppose, but we should look for other cheap opportunities to maintain foreign policy balance and re-find our moral values without jumping into stupid self-destructive rabbit holes or abandoning the playing field. K.I.S.S.

    The left is blasting Brzezinski for supporting Al Qaeda and others when tricking the Russians into marooning themselves in Afghanistan - somehow in destroying the massive $300 billion a year Soviet army that killed millions, he was supposed to guess and care that 20 years later George Bush would let a handful of Saudis slip in and bring down a building and kill 3000, and use that to run get us bogged down for a decade in the Mideast with no game plan.

    Sometimes I'm just gobsmacked.


    The inherent danger of debating a Moralist is that you will appear the opposite.

    No true leader of a Super Power should be described as a "dove" or a "hawk" because the world doesn't fit either one exclusively. It's certainly true that she has, in most cases, leaned toward being an interventionist as opposed to an isolationist. But she has never gone so far as to aggressively pursue an agenda for soley her own purposes and she has shown not only a desire but an aptitude for diplomacy. With the world we have in front of us we do not have the options we might all otherwise prefer - maybe the best we can hope for is a President who will walk softly and carry the biggest stick on the block.

    Barefooted, I can always turn to you to find the absolute right answer Thank you!

    “No true leader of a Superpower should be described as a "dove" or a "hawk" because because the world doesn't fit either one exclusively”.

    I believe exactly the opposite and see it as obvious. What is the point of having an informed electorate if the information is ignored and if we know that a person is a “hawk” that knowledge should definitely play into our voting decision? If the leadership of a small underdeveloped country is dominated by hawks the world is little affected but our country’s leadership matters to the entire world. That should be bloody obvious.

    Hillary has a record which is the description of a “hawk” and we should be aware of it and judge accordingly but a "dove" is not the only alternative and “Walk softly and carry a big stick”, which I would happily vote for, should, ideally, be an available alternative.  We do not have to withdraw from the world in order to walk softly. I repeat a part of Camus’ writing.

    “All I ask is that, in the midst of a murderous world, we agree to reflect on murder and to make a choice. After that, we can distinguish those who accept the consequences of being murderers themselves or the accomplices of murderers, and those who refuse to do so with all their force and being. Since this terrible dividing line does actually exist, it will be a gain if it be clearly marked.”

         "The inherent danger of debating a Moralist is that you will appear the opposite.'

    Not necessarily. Hillary has clearly identified which side of Camus’ “terrible dividing line” she stands on and for brevity and simplicity we call those on her side of the line”hawks” and while Camus is describing what to him is a moral choice, I believe that a completely self-interested sociopathic pragmatist could intelligently reach his same decision as to which side of the line to choose. I firmly believe that our country cannot stay on the same path it has chosen for so long and continue to avoid calamity at home such as it has caused in so many other places.   

    Camus as always is worth pondering deeper on, and I agree that we don't have to withdraw from the world to walk softly, but you don't quite address what that means in practice. (and I've been quite critical of our Libya/Syria shit disturbing, along with all our other Mideast forays and turning the Arab Spring from a peaceful protest model to a rebels-backed-with-arms model - Tunisia continues quite swimmingly, the rest not).

    You were quite critical of our fairly restrained efforts in Ukraine. What are the kind of effective policies and approaches do you support that don't back away from problems or slide onto the murderous side of the scale?

    Fair question for sure so I am obliged to answer that I don’t have a fucking clue as to how, realistically, the US could alter its course and proof of how tough a job that would be would only come if we were to actually agree that we are on an unsustainable course and had the opportunity to elect leaders who would honestly try to change that course. I think it is very likely too late to do so and that is even if the nature of humans doesn’t mean that it has always been, and will always be, too late. Significant change, which cannot be counted on to be for the better, will only come when forced upon us by events as the play out.  That our long term course is unsustainable and that continuing on it will lead to disaster later if not sooner is a premise some might argue and though I am on a personal campaign to be more diplomatic, I would consider that I was talking to an uninformed idiot if they argued the opposite.

    As usual, I am confining my comment to our bullying foreign policy though obviously there are other significant problems. A national change of attitude spurred by a change in perception of our place in the world might change that attitude and therefore actions of our elected leaders but I don’t see that attitude changing for the better. Our ongoing electoral debates should make that obvious when a significant part of the electorate are supporting completely unacceptable candidates as their preference. Every Republican vows to reverse every slight move that has been in the right direction on “day one”. Every one of the Republicans spout maniacle “defense” positions.

    If it is accepted that our course is unsustainable then it should be obvious that Hillary is not the one to change it,  yet her political opposition is so obviously crazy that she looks pretty good by comparison and after her supporters spend some effort defending her they get so wedded to her as the best candidate that they actually believe she is a good candidate. Obviously I disagree.

    I would guess that the last best chance to change course for the better was at the fall of the Soviet Union. Instead, the perception of victory turned us loose to double down on ultimately counter-productive measures that could no longer be justified as either necessary or productive. Our dependence on military diplomacy is, in at least one of its aspects and in affect, the investment of trillions of borrowed dollars to make billions of dollars for a few while leading to the less and less gradual impoverishment of the many. Here is a critique of the recent military budget which everybody did know or should have known would not be subject to any restraint while social programs and infrastructure and maintenance get cuts. That budget which increased by 33 billion dollars probably is too small to support what the wackos would have us do but it is greater than we can continue to finance, I believe.  We really need to think seriously about gun control where it really matters the most.

    So, I believe that recognizing the problem must come before any chance at fixing it is available. I think people must have been systematically and deliberately deluded to not see the problem but maybe I am deluded to believe it is significant.

    Waging Endless War From Vietnam to Syria

    In April 2014, ESPN published a photograph of an unlikely duo: Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and former national security adviser and secretary of state Henry Kissinger at the Yankees-Red Sox season opener. In fleece jackets on a crisp spring day, they were visibly enjoying each other’s company, looking for all the world like a twenty-first-century geopolitical version of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. The subtext of their banter, however, wasn’t about sex, but death.

    Cute, but wrong. As this article notes, the North Vietnamese had invaded Cambodia at the request of the Khmer Rouge, and Sihanouk through weakness had been allowing Communists to reside in the border region of his country for years -since 1966 - to attack Americans & South Vietnam - none too happy about it. The bombing of Cambodia was started by LBJ, but Nixon extended it with long-range. Obviously the presence of North Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge troops in Cambodia was a violation of Cambodian neutrality, and the only reason for keeping it hushed up was political - to avoid protests. The North Vietnamese obviously did not advertise it. There is a strange situation among those unable to criticize Ho Chi Minh's killing some 120,000-200,000 North Vietnamese after taking power in 1954, along with his brutal terrorism of South Vietnamese village until 1975. North Vietnamese murderous actions are excused or ignored, American and South Vietnamese actions in this confused bloody setting are condemned. It would be useful to have a debate acknowledging mistakes and atrocities on both sides.

    Re: East Timor, the Indonesians manipulated a naive Timorese situation, but the East Timor parties were fighting among themselves and Portuguese independence left a vacuum. Worse, the Communist victories in Vietname, Cambodia and Laos at the time created a background that the West couldn't ignore (yes, the Domino Theory diagnosed a real threat), even though the  Communist proclamations were a small part of the indpendence movement (more "social democracy", e.g. Bernie Sanders material). By 1977 - post-invasion - Marxist rhetoric was rising as more exiles got involved, but Gusmåo eventually steered them towards somethign less controversial. Indonesia of course made it sound worse than it was. Any any case, the chance was good that Indonesia would occupy East Timor with the Portuguese occupied with their new coup. The real question is whether Ford & Kissinger had an inkling the kind of civilian massacres that occurred would happen. Good summaries here and here and here.

    The Bangladesh atrocities are the most disturbing, including the support of the Pakistani armies, giving them free reign. It's made worse by the callous and insulting discussions Nixon & Kissinger held - how much did Kissinger guess that East Timor would turn into a blood-bath is a question that needs to be asked.



    The USN was running fake ops on how to land LST's in Vietnam as early as 1958.

    (And did you know that with a thirty foot tide at Inchon it's possible to dry dock an LST on a cement pier if it happens not to be on the chart?)

    One of the most striking things about the comments here is that they are intelligent and thoughtful. It is a refreshing change from the forums I often read. 


    The reality is that many of the comments here show more knowledge and depth than the blogs and articles on other sites.

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