Monday, March 31, 2008

Weinstein, Levin, Frank Rich Tell The Truth.

Written on M.S. Prinsendam, cruising off Liberia--

Yet another wonderfully, talented L.A. Times reporter, Stephanie Simon, has left the newspaper, going to the Wall Street Journal. She has always been a distinguished part of the Times staff, but like Henry Weinstein, Myron Levin and other reporters who have taken The Times buyout, I will miss them, but can't fault them. Who wants to work for a jackass like Sam Zell?

Weinstein, one of the greatest and most courageous Times staffers, said it all when he commented on the temerity of Zell's remark while visiting the Times' Washington bureau, that all the bureau had to offer was "overhead." What a disgrace!

Also, I should pay tribute today to Frank Rich, the New York Times columnist, who continues to write great columns about the lying Hillary Clinton and the courageous Barack Obama. Even the New York Times' editorials now show signs of beginning to follow Rich's lead. Since the paper does the right thing most of the time, I wouldn't be surprised to see a switch in their editorial endorsement -- even before the Pennsylvania primary. Like Sen. Bob Casey's endorsement of the Obama candidacy, this would be a courageous and wholly merited act.

My cruise is going well. We are now headed for Ghana, where we have two port stops. We are bypassing Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Cote D'Ivoire, all countries consumed by corruption, brutality and/or war.

We are off the regular cruise ship path, and even Holland-America will not have an African cruise next year. This one has filled only about 580 of its 790 places, despite all that the cruise line has done to make this a memorable voyage.

I must confess to feeling only discouragement when we took a bush tour two days ago of The Gambia. Of the 90 countries I've visited in my life, this was by far my poorest country. I kept looking at all those small children who came out to cheer our tour trucks. I kept wondering what kinds of lives they could expect.

Gambia is a country that juts up the Gambia river 270 miles into Senegal, and is only 15 miles wide on either side of the river.

I'll write more about the cruise when we reach Cape Town, and I can find an inexpensive internet cafe.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Myron Levin Right On Money About Sam Zell

Written from M.S. Prinsendam, after Senegal an The Gambia--

I cannot resist complimenting our esteemed colleague Myron Levin for his parting e-mail to the L.A. Times staff.

Myron notes with precision that Sam Zell does not know so much as a 10-year-old lemonade stand operator when he "trashes the product."

This is strictly accurate. This guy is a prime number one jackass when he denigrates the L.A. Times. It's time he started behaving better. It's time he stops denigrating the L.A. Times.

What a jerk!

Myron Levin has done a lot more for the L.A. Times than Sam Zell ever will.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hillary Lies About Coming Under Fire In Bosnia

Written from Agadir, Morocco--

When federalist Alexander Hamilton was asked to choose between Democrats Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson for President in 1800, he said that he had nothing against Burr other than that he was an unscrupulous demagagogue who would ruin the country. He chose Jefferson, not because he agreed with him, but because he was "an honest man."

The same comparison could be made between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Hillary is a lying, scheming unscrupulous and unqualified candidate for President. Obama is an honest, intelligent and qualified one.

The latest evidence for this comes from Hillary's silly lie about her and daughter Chelsea running under the threat of sniper fire on a 1996 visit to a Bosnian airport. Videos instead show her landing peacefully, walking across the tarmac and being greeted, among others, by an eight-year-old girl.

The fact of the matter is that Hillary Clinton is no more qualified to become President than Bess Truman or Mamie Eisenhower were. Less so, in fact, since I doubt very much whether Bess Truman would ever have lied about her experiences or whether Mamie Eisenhower would have made things up.

This is like John Edwards' $400 haircuts. After the revelation of those, his candidacy began sinking, and after this latest revelation of Hillary duplicity, hers ought to sink like a rock.

She simply is not in the same class as Obama or Republican candidate John McCain. As a first lady, she was not distinguished, except for putting up with her husband's philandering. The only serious job she was ever given was to a fashion a national health care reform, and she failed miserably at that.

Now, with her sudden remarks about Obama's pastor, Hillary seems to be fixing for another scurrilous ad like the one she used in Texas (which in itself was a lie, using a girl who has grown up and become an Obama supporter, without her permission).

Enough of Hillary for President. Her candidacy is a joke.


I'm sorry to hear that Joe Mathews is becoming the latest distinguished writer to leave the L.A. Times, but wish him well in his new career of writing independently about California affairs. The losses from Tribune mismanagement continue to mount, threatening the whole future of the newspaper. Mathews knows more about the newspaper business, than Sam Zell probably ever will.


This has been my third visit to Morocco, and each one has shown what a marvelous country it is, and what a fine place to visit. Yesterday, I went on a ship's tour to the town of Taroudant, 40 miles from Agadir, and was impressed to see that, 50 years after a successful uprising there against the French, many women in the town still wear the bright blue burkas honoring the Sheikh who led the uprising. I'm not generally for women wearing burkas, but these looked great.

Agadir has been rebuilt splendidly since the devastating earthquake in 1960 that killed 15,000, there, and it could now be mistaken in some respects for the French Riviera, with its white buildings, splendid beaches, hotels and shops, and great views.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Moroccan Security There, But Not Too Obtrusive

Written from Casablanca--

Casablanca has had terror attacks, but the security surrounding my ship's docking in the Moroccan city Monday, and a tour I took to the Moroccan capital of Rabat was not all that obtrusive.

The dock area is well guarded and locked down. Anyone entering requires a pass, and cruise passengers must provide their cruise identification card. But this is common these days with many ports.

When we boarded our tour bus, there was an extra person aboard, kind of riding shot gun, beside the tour guide and driver. This man identifiied himself upon my question as "an agent." He may have been armed, but that was not clear. The bus had a radio, but that too is common.

When we reached the royal palace in Rabat, the entire governmental zone was cordoned off and well-guarded. But all the driver had to do to get us in was to say one word: "Americans," and there were no questions asked.

Three separate kinds of police or army were evident at the tombs of King Mohammed V and King Hassan II.

In Casablanca itself, there was not heavy evident police presence. And the great mosque, with the second highest minaret in the world had no outside police presence.

Casablanca has a "Rick's Cafe," but of course it is not the one shot in the classic film with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. That film was shot in a Hollywood studio in Los Angeles.
However, our guide told us that the film "Casablanca" is credited with bringing other moving shooting to the city in recent years. The film Syriana and two others were recently shot there.

The Euro is much more readily accepted in Casablanca than the dollar. The dollar has sunk to a new, lower level of esteem, and sending a postcard home cost $2 in postage, much, much more than when I was in Morocco 12 years ago.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Zell Enters Into Talks To Sell Newsday

Written from Madeira--

How did Sam Zell ever make any money, if he panics so easily that he starts selling newspapers as valuable as Newsday?

The bad luck of the L.A. Times, and it is very bad luck indeed, is that it provides most of the financial underpinning of the Tribune Co. and might be the last part of it to be sold off, if the company continues to mess up all over itself and ultimately collapses into a mound of bad Chicago food.

Zell says revenue is now down 16 to 17% below last year's levels at this time, although he doesnÂșt break out individual Tribune properties.

His latest move, to amalgamate operations of the South Florida Sun Sentinel with a broadcasting station, if done in L.A. between the Times and Channel 5 might be an interesting innovation, but other moves he has made are depressing. He seems to know nothing of the newspaper business, have no dedication to the public interest nor be willing to give things a little time.


On this Portuguese owned island, there are so many super highways and tunnels tying things together, they have solved their traffic problem. The financing comes from the European Union. I told our guide today that perhaps Los Angeles and California should declare their independence, join the EU, and adopt the Euro. I received only 30 of them for $50 this morning.

This is a subtropical paradise, by the way.

Next stop, Casablanca


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Obama's Speech Shows Him To Be A Great Man

Written on M.S. Prinsendam, Approaching Madeira--

The New York Times is beginning to appreciate what a mistake it made when it endorsed Hillary Clinton, a sleazy campaigner who has stooped to play the race card, for President. Now, it calls Barack Obama's great speech on race the other day, a "profile in courage," and is honest enough to acknowledge:

"Obama's eloquent speech put Wright, his beliefs and the reaction to them into the larger context of race relations with an honesty seldom heard in public life...He not only cleared the air over a particular controversy, he raised the discussion to a higher plane."

It's not surprising. It is becoming evident that, like Lincoln, Obama has the supreme moral authority to be a great President of the United States. This great speech was reminiscent of Lincoln's House Divided Speech of 1858: "A House divided against itself cannot stand...I do not believe the House will fall, but I do believe it will cease to be divided."

But Lincoln was elected with only 39% of the total vote, largely because the Democratic party was divided between Douglas and Breckinridge. Obama may have just as rough a road to hoe, especially in the Pennsylvania primary.

Still, those who support Obama can truly be proud of their position. He is a candidate worthy of American history.

Not worthy of any kind of history is Sam Zell, stupid and shortsighted owner of Tribune Co., who now wants to cut back the Los Angeles Times Washington bureau by six to eight staffers. Zell is a rigid simpleton of the Mark Willes, Dennis FitzSimons stripe, or worse.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Like Sam Zell, Ben Bernanke Panics

Written from M.S. Prinsendam, Crossing the Atlantic--

Like Sam Zell, whose only prescription for the ailments of newspapers is to slash staff and quality, the only solution Ben Bernanke seems to have at the Federal Reserve for the credit and financial crisis is to cut interest rates and bail out financial companies, such as Bear Stearns, which was so badly run it did not know how to protect itself.

The result in both cases is to fuel a building panic which may sweep aside institutions that could have been protected. The emergency is growing day by day.

Last summer I questioned at just what price the Pakistan and the sub-prime mortgage crises could be contained. But it has been the sub-prime crisis which has proved most uncontainable. The ill-regarded diplomatic and military policies of the U.S. have at least kept Pakistan a viable entity out of reach of the terrorists thus far. But the housing downturn has spread to other sectors of the economy and there has been no containing it. It turns out that the better-regarded economic experts of the Bush Administration have fallen on their faces, while the diplomats and defense experts have survived, if not exactly prospered.

What now? I think Bernanke is going to have to go. He is not up to the job. It turns out to have been a mistake to continually slash interest rates, because it hasn't eased the market's concerns and it has generated a veritable collapse of the dollar as well as growing inflation.

We are getting to the point with the banking industry that Franklin D. Roosevelt's bank holiday of 1933 may have to be repeated. It clearly needs a time-out.

The answer is not to bail out a firm with a $2-a-share purchase price (for a company whose stock was $130 a share not long ago), and a $30 billion federal guarantee.

Such panic-stricken steps by wooly-minded intellectuals are adding to the panic, not abating it.

And the price of oil is shooting so high, I just wonder whether this ship is going to get around Africa or not. Perhaps we will all be stranded in Mombasa...or Mogadishu.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Oil Price Rise Overshadows Other Events Today

Written from Fort Lauderdale, Florida--

Barack Obama will probably win big in the Mississippi primary today, and Gov. Eliot Spitzer, having apparently paid a high-priced prostitute to cross state lines, may resign his office. But by far the most important thing to happen today is that the price of oil reached $109.

The rapaciousness of the oil producers knows no bounds. Like the energy producers in California after deregulation, they have conspired to drive up the price, and everyone else is paying it, depressing economies of all the non-oil producing states.

Particularly with the Arab world, we have to realize these people are enemies of the United States and the West, and they have to be treated as the foes they are.

It may be that one rude alternative would be to announce we would not pay above a set price for oil, and, then, until the shock brings a desired effect, we could supply ourselves by drawing down what is by now our large oil reserve. The oil market might then return to more reasonable levels.

Would this work? It might. Just like acting against traffic jams by reducing use of the roads by 10%, it could have a reverberating effect.

What is clear is that a small resource oligarchy has over many years been increasing the price. It is true that Chinese and Indian demand have fueled the surge, and supplies are possibly restricted. But pricefixing is a large part of the cause.

Just like suicide bombings, the greed and fanaticism in the Middle East is a more and more disruptive influence in the world. We and our allies must act against it.


Geraldine Ferraro is the latest prominent backer of Hillary Clinton to try to play a race card against Obama, suggesting in an interview that were Obama not a black man, he would not be a major presidential candidate.

This is part and parcel of the whole disgraceful Clinton campaign, continually raising the race issue through code words and phrases. Ferraro, when she was a vice presidential candidate, embarrassed the Democratic ticket because it turned out her husband was linked to the mob. Now, the Clinton campaign has been tying itself to unsavory interests. It is time for Clinton to repudiate such remarks, or lose supporters as a result of them. Black, white, brown or yellow, Obama is three times the candidate Hillary is.


Monday, March 10, 2008

I Leave Today For 73-Day African Cruise

Between now and late May, this blog is going to be sporadic, not appear with its usual daily frequency. I fly out of Los Angeles today for Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and will Tuesday board the Holland America liner Prinsendam on a 73-day cruise which will cross the Atlantic and then circumvent the African continent.

The cruise is longer than any other I've ever taken. It features 39 days fully at sea, and stops at Grand Turk Island, San Juan, St. Maarten, Madeira, Casablanca, Agadir, Dakar, two ports in Ghana, Togo, two ports in Namibia, three ports in South Africa including three days in Capetown, Reunion, Mauritius, the Seychelle islands, Mombasa for three days, Oman, two ports in Egypt and the Suez Canal. Malta, Tunisia, two ports in Spain and ends in Lisbon.

All this for the ridiculously low price of $38,000. I did not take the lousiest stateroom on the 700-passenger ship, but I turned down an upgrade to the truly luxury level which would have cost another $8,000.

At the end of this trip, which I pray I conclude in health, my goal of visiting 100 countries will have been satisfied. I'm pleased to say I'm far ahead of my children, who have been to just 33 and 30 countries respectively, some at their own expense.

This is not the longest trip of my life. In 2005, a year after retiring, I drove to Alaska and Canada's Northwest Territories, which consumed more than 10,000 miles of driving and lasted 84 days.

Holland America originally listed an itinerary for its African cruise which also included Libya and Benin. Benin, a small West African country, was dropped for no reason that was disclosed. Malta was substituted for Libya, after the Libyans raised visa difficulties for many of the passengers aboard.

Such hot spots as Mauritania, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Congo, Angola, Somalia and Algeria are being skipped for reasons that will be fairly obvious.

Fabulous and quite expensive excursions are being offered, and I have signed up and paid for about 20 of them, leaving only Kenya to be decided later, depending on conditions when we get there.

Africa is a fairly unknown continent to me. I visited Kenya and Ethiopia in 1968 and Morocco in 1963 and 1996, but otherwise have not been in any other African countries up to now.

Those are the main details of the trip. My favorite cruises up to now have been a 22-day Antarctica cruise on Lindblad, a six-day cruise on a small Australian ship, the Roelen Endeavor, and a four-day cruise up the Rhine River on a German line, although I have been on two Princess cruises, from Los Angeles to Acapulco and from Tahiti to Hawaii, and other cruises from Hong Kong to Bombay, from Fort Lauderdale to the the Amazon, from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires, and from Bombay to Dubai.

Sometimes, I've found, the most luxurious ship, as rated by the travel magazines, is not the best. My last cruise on Silver Sea, from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires, was a little bit of a disappointment, although I still enjoyed it. I objected to the fact that when we reached Cape Horn, they never woke us up to tell us we were there, and I almost missed it.

Knock on wood, I've never been seasick on a cruise, although on rare occasions I have taken a seasickness pill as a precaution. I have a few pills of Dramamine with me for this voyage.

The food will be good, but, if experience is any guide, rather bland and not of the spicy kind I like. In the past, I've supplemented the cruise food with some exotic foreign restaurants at various ports. I've bought packages which will give me unlimited laundry and dry cleaning, and even will have an electronic copy of the International Herald Tribune delivered to my stateroom each morning. That's costing $2 a day.

I always anticipate a great deal my first actual view of the cruise ship I'm going on. That is quite a thrill.

Holland America graciously includes airfare to and from the ship, plus a free luggage service. Fed Ex picked up my luggage (100 pound limit) at my house last Monday and, if all goes according to plan, it will be in my stateroom when I arrive Tuesday afternoon. If it's not there, this trip is going to be off to a bad start.

I will be traveling alone, but know, at present, one couple who is going the whole way and anticipate making many new friends. A relative of one of my best friends here in California, who originally came from Malta, will meet me there.

Finally, let me just express hope that when I get back, and resume this blog on a regular basis, David Hiller is gone as publisher of the Los Angeles Times, and Barack Obama has clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, though I really do not expect either to happen.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Short Sighted Hillary May Cut Her Own Throat

The other day, when Hillary Clinton was asked on the program "60 Minutes" whether she believed Barack Obama was a Muslim, Clinton said:

"No. No. Why would I? No, there is nothing to base that on. As far as I know."

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert called that "one of the sleaziest moments of the campaign to date" in a column he published yesterday, since there is absolutely no evidence that Obama is a Muslim, and Clinton knows that all too well.

This, of course, is not the first time, Clinton, a Machiavellian if there ever was one, or her campaign has managed to slip something pruriently suggestive into the primaries mix.

The Clinton campaign has suggested through surrogates there is something more to be discovered about Obama's acknowledged youthful use of drugs. Her husband suggested in South Carolina that white voters might respond to black votes for Obama by voting in a backlash for Hillary. Last week, campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson compared Obama to Ken Starr.

These are all low blows, and, besides, the Clintons may be cutting their own throats by using such tactics in their grab for a renewal of power.

Why is this so? Because, after the prejudiced way in which Clinton has been conducting her campaign, resentment is sure to build in the black and liberal communities. Millions of these people may be inclined, if Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, to either stay at home in November or cross over and vote for John McCain, if he makes an adept independent appeal.

True, Clinton has been hinting this past week that she might ask Obama to be her vice presidential running mate, should she win the nomination. Assuming this is not just more bushwa from the Clintons, it might be asked, if she actually did this, and Obama accepted, just how she could advertise he wasn't ready for the presidency and at the same time agree to put him just a heartbeat away from it.

In an article for Flashreport.Org by Shawn Steel, the author points out that no matter who wins the Democratic nomination, Hillary or Obama, there are liable to be deep racial divisions in the Democratic party.

Specifically, he is talking about tensions between Latinos and blacks. He postulates that if Clinton wins the nomination, the blacks will stay home, while if Obama wins, many Latinos either will stay home or cross over to vote for McCain. Latinos have been instrumental in Clinton's primary victories in California, Arizona and Texas.

Either way, it throws a complication into Democratic prospects for the fall, even though, in a special election in a normally Republican congressional district in Illinois yesterday, a suburban area west of Chicago, a Democrat won. This provided reinforcement for the notion this is a Democratic year.

It is more likely to be one, however, if Clinton stops talking about Obama in such a negative way. In the last two weeks, she has said a lot of things that McCain can recycle in the fall, of Obama captures the Democratic nomination.

The Clintons are not exactly clean. There has always been something of L'll Abner's Dogpatch in the Clinton makeup. Now, Bill Clinton's philandering has been mixed with Hillary Clinton's unfairly suggestive remarks. I'm glad they are hanging themselves, but I wish, at the same time, they weren't hanging Obama too.


Saturday, March 08, 2008

L.A. Times Article On Payday Loans Falls Short

It's good I suppose that Los Angeles Times writer Hector Becerra is writing today about Payday Loans, or predatory lending, but Becerra is not nearly tough enough on this sleazy business.

His article focuses on the efforts of the city of Baldwin Park, and some other California cities to restrain or get rid of these small loans, in which the annualized interest rate can run 700% or even higher. It also discusses the successful efforts of the military to rein in such loans made to military personnel near major military bases.

But Becerra scarcely mentions the worst aspects of these loans, and he spares corrupt lawmakers who have thwarted efforts to regulate them, accepting political contributions from the Pay Day lobby, from the scrutiny they deserve. Herb Wesson, a former Speaker of the California State Assembly, and other minority legislators have been especially guilty of this.

A Payday loan allows anyone to walk in and pay a customary $300 to actually receive $255. Theoretically, the check for $300 is not cashed for two weeks, or until the next pay day. Thus the name, payday loans.

Becerra's article does not mention that many of these loans are rolled over. In other words, when the borrower is unable to pay the money in two weeks, he takes another loan, and the debt quickly mounts up to what can be astronomical sums. Someone may start out taking $255, and end up owing thousands of dollars.

When I wrote a consumer column for the L.A. Times, I once calculated that the interest rate eventually could mount to 941% a year. Becerra does not mention this in his article.

Instead, he writes about this business as if the $255 received for $300 is an isolated transaction. Often, it isn't. Instead, it is the beginning of a downward spiral into ever greater debt.

As said above, there is a long history of our often corrupt Legislature caving in to the payday lobby, which is well funded and highly organized. It regularly pays off legislators through campaign contributions. Becerra should have gone into this, because it explains how 2,500 of these stores could have sprung up in California.

The headline on the article quotes the mayor of Baldwin Park calling Payday lending shops eyesores. But they are worse than eyesores. They are making smalltime chiselers rich by hugely overcharging the poor and economically distressed.

Maybe Becerra, who is often a fairly good reporter, should have left this subject to the Times' consumer columnist, David Lazarus, who frequently writes with more realism of the scams that abound in modern society, whereby those least able to pay are charged the most or gypped the most.

Becerra is not the only Times reporter who errs by paying scant attention to the numbers. The numbers here are devastating: They clearly show this business ought to be banned in California.

Instead, Becerra gives entirely too much credit to the arguments of the Payday lenders that the shops are good because they allow those who need it to get money fast to tide themselves over, or fund immediate purchases, such as a trip to Disneyland.

What he ignores is what they pay for the transitory benefit.

Predatory lending has been a major factor in development of the subprime mortgage crisis, which has spun the nation into foreclosures, a dramatic downturn in housing sales, and now shows signs of metasticizing into other forms of credit, such as the bond markets and even student loans.

Payday loans are not for such high amounts, by any means, but they do add up to a drain on society.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Will Hillary Win A Knife Fight, Disgracefully?

A federal judge who is a friend of mine (I do have some respectable friends) worries that if Barack Obama takes on Hillary Clinton on her own disreputable terms, going on the attack, he may lose his aura as a reformer. He would look bad as a man beating up on a woman.

But a contest with a viper is always a nasty business. As I've said in another context, you can't defeat Al-Qaeda using Marquis of Queensberry rules.

In this vein, while a Clinton aide yesterday compared Obama to Clinton persecutor Ken Starr, an Obama aide was quoted in a Scottish newspaper interview as calling Hillary a monster.

The Obama aide, foreign policy guru Samantha Power, has now apologized and resigned (despite the fact she may have been closer on the mark, than the Clinton aide, Howard Wolfson).

But, in any event, this is the way the campaign for the Democratic nomination seems to be going.

The New York Times columnist, David Brooks, one of the most prescient of all observers in predicting last summer that John McCain could make a comeback in the battle for the Republican nomination, at a time he seemed down and out, writes, notably in the NYT today:

"Clinton can't compete on personality, but a knife fight is her only real hope of victory. She has nothing to lose because she never promised to purify America. Her campaign doesn't depend on the enthusiasm of opper-middle-class goo-goos. On Thursday, a Clinton aide likened Obama to Ken Starr just to badger them on."

Also, I was impressed with an article in the London Times today by Gerard Baker, who has been writing profoundly about the American campaign.

"The danger, I think, for Mr. Obama," he writes, "is that the 'kitchen sink' volley of the last week has revealed a central truth about the Democratic contest: she wants it more. In politics, it's not necessarily the better person who gets to the top job, but the one who is really, really desperate for and willing to go to any lengths to get it."

Of course, the Clintons are more desperate. They've undertaken this grab for power and money, with no other ulterior motives. They've gotten rich off the first Clinton presidency. Now, they hope to pad their fortune with a second. (And they hope to conceal this truth by refusing to reveal their tax returns).

As columns go, incidentally, we have another example this morning, in the Los Angeles Times, of inferior political commentary by Ronald Brownstein, who like the Clintons never seems to go away, no matter how desirable might be a retreat to Kasakhstan.

Brownstein writes in glowing terms about the Clinton candidacy, without ever mentioning her sleazy tactics in both Texas and Ohio.

In Ohio, it's now been revealed in the Toronto Globe and Mail, it was not only an Obama campaign advisor who foolishly reassured the Canadian government that it need not take the anti-NAFTA rhetoric in Ohio seriously, but the Clinton side as well. Yet Clinton screamed at Obama for doing what she was doing herself.

In Texas, in the low moment of the campaign so far, Clinton ran an ad suggesting, as Al Campanis once did about African-American baseball players being manager, that Obama was not ready for the presidency, despite the fact that he is brighter, more honorable, and, in terms of organizing experience, more experienced than she is.

Well, the federal judge, Brooks and Baker may be right, and the unscrupulous Clinton may prevail.

But idealistic nice guys with moral authority do sometimes win -- as Kennedy did over Nixon, as Lincoln did over Douglas. I think it's too early to start counting Obama out.

I do believe in democracy, and I believe the people seek the best candidates for public office. Any rational analysis of the present situation, I believe, argues for an Obama-McCain contest as better than a Clinton-McCain one.

Two of the three candidates left standing for president are honorable. Clinton is not.

McCain too could be tagged as a man beating up on a woman. But beating up on Lady Macbeth is not all bad, is it?


The good news comes today that Sonni Efron, writer of foreign affairs editorials for the L.A. Times from the Washington Bureau, has received the Scripps Howard national award for editorial writing. Sonni is an unussually talented writer who I've suggested many times should really be a columnist for the Op Ed page to adequately showcase her talents.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Many Distinguished Staffers Take LAT Buyout

What can you say about a publisher, David Hiller, an editor, Russ Stanton, and an obscene owner, Sam Zell, who would let a Henry Weinstein take a buyout at the L.A. Times?

Weinstein is only one of the many distinguished reporters, editors, researchers, pollsters, even a tour guide, to put in for a buyout after being threatened by the new editor, Russ Stanton, who inaugurated his reign by telling the staff that unless they took the buyout now, the terms of future buyouts would carry far less desirable severance packages.

So Stanton has made a truly disgraceful start. That's why he got the job. It is all part of the eight-year-old Tribune Co. conspiracy to destroy the Los Angeles Times as a great newspaper. He wasn't in the job five minutes, before he was hinting that the foreign and national bureaus would be cut severely. Now, with the buyout, the long vaunted Los Angeles Times Poll is history, even public tours of the building are apparently out, and the latest crop of able journalists is out the door.

It would be nice to think that the Squalids -- Zell, Hiller and Stanton -- would one day be punished for their grievous sins of the past few weeks. But, in fact, there is every likelihood that after they have done their dirty work, they will walk away with huge bonuses. Just as the corporate hacks who are taking down other California newspapers -- the San Jose Mercury News, the Daily News in the San Fernando Valley, the Orange County Register, the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the South Bay Daily Breeze.

Zell, in particular, put comparatively little of his fortune up to buy the Tribune under a plan which supposedly vested most of the ownership in the employees. But if this is really so, why is the staff being cut and, already, more layoffs threatened? What we ought to have here is a criminal investigation to determine whether the Zell acquisition is legal. Yes, he fired the inept CEO, Dennis FitzSimons, but he gave FitzSimons millions in severance. This scoundrel walked out of Tribune Tower after years of failure a wealthy man.

I would be derelict in this blog were I not to pay tribute to some of the great people who are taking the buyout. They ran the course, they served the paper with diligence and distinction. Now, they are cast aside, the latest of the great names lost to the newspaper in the series of buyouts over the years. Bella Stumbo, John Balzar, Bill Boyarsky, Lee Hotz, Mark Arax, Doug Frantz, John Carroll, they are among many who left. Each departure diminished the paper.

I can't name them all. Please excuse me for omissions. But these names stood out when I read the latest list provided by Kevin Roderick on LA Observed yesterday:

HENRY WEINSTEIN -- A distinguished legal affairs writer for many years, his stories on the death penalty issue alone were a public service. But this was just a small part of Weinstein's work. Extremely prolific, his retirement is a tremendous loss to the paper. We should all salute him. Just his outspoken opposition to Mark Willes and some of the other jackasses who besmirched the paper deserves our greatest respect.

GREG KRIKORIAN -- His beat was frequently terrorism and would-be terrorists or the people sometimes falsely accused of terrorism. He was just approaching the peak of his career. Many other enterprises will be delighted to have him.

CECILIA RASMUSSEN -- Her columns on Los Angeles history were a contribution to the community. She will certainly be missed.

SONIA NAZARIO -- A Pulitzer Prize winner for her book about a youth who immigrated to the U.S., she has been one of the most acutely sensitive observers of the underside of California life. She will now be writing books full time. But anyone who would encourage her to leave can truly be called an enemy of the readers of the Los Angeles Times and the people of California.

JOEL SAPPELL -- Did some good, if uneven, work in a number of capacities. His direction of some coverage, during the energy crisis for example, fell short, but his instinct about what to cover often was a sure one. On balance, he is a loss.

ROBERT WELKOS -- His investigative pieces, such as the one on the dread Scientology cult, were a public service. He will certainly be missed.

DAVID WILLMAN -- Another Pultizer Prize winner, when investigations were central concerns of Times editors, he was most recently with the Washington bureau. His work on dangerous drugs and the regulatory failures that allowed them to destroy lives was outstanding. His future can only be bright.

TOM FURLONG, JOHN SPANO, JEFF RABIN -- All diligent, competent reporters who properly took pride in their work and were the stuff out of which a great newspaper is made.

JOHN STEWART -- Long on the national desk, he was an editor with good judgment, and a pleasant, engaging personality.

CONNIE KANG -- Her coverage of the Korean community, and wider Asian concerns, was vital to the newspaper, and her departure will leave one of many disgraceful holes in Times ethnic coverage. Always pleasant, always conscientious, she was one of many reporters who made the City Room a better place. (While Hiller prostrates himself before Hollywood glitz in worthless sections, he lets the Connie Kangs go. May he roast in hell).

MYRON LEVIN -- His coverage of the smoking lobby was a public service. Part of the formerly great investigative tradition at the Times.

GINA PICCOLO -- An able critic.

SUSAN PINKUS -- Under terrible conditions, she struggled to keep the Los Angeles Times Poll going, as apparently its last director.

NONA YATES -- An able and friendly researcher for many years after years in the Times Library.

I'm sorry not to mention others.

What can we say about them, other than that they will haunt the dreams of Zell, Hiller and Stanton as they contemplate in the middle of the night all the harm they did in their careers.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Unscrupulous Hillary Scores; Obama Wilts

Well, as I said yesterday I feared would happen, Hillary Clinton used a cruel ad of not-so-veiled racial code words to argue Barack Obama was not ready for the presidency -- specifically a 3 a.m call to the White House about a terrorist act somewhere in the world -- and it worked with Texas voters. The late deciders broke for Clinton, according to the exit polls, and she won the popular vote narrowly.

When a scrupulous idealist like Obama faces an unscrupulous scoundrel on the attack like Clinton, he is going to lose unless he abandons some of his scruples and plunges into a down-and-dirty fight. That's what Tom Bradley had to do in the Los Angeles mayoralty races to finally defeat Sam Yorty in their second go-around.

Obama was better organized and better financed in Texas, and arguably in Ohio, but when it came to the acid test he proved, as one commentator kept suggesting last night, to have a "glass jaw." He wilted. His response was weak, both to the ad in Texas and to Clinton's resourceful if dishonest exploitation of the NAFTA issue in Ohio. The result is another twist in the impassioned contest for the Democratic presidential nomination. Despite still being behind in delegates, Clinton has restored her viability in the race, and the way is open for more sleazy tricks against Obama.

He may come back. He and his bright campaign staff may rebound, perhaps on the issue of Clinton having voted for the war in Iraq, perhaps on a more robust demand that Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, release their tax returns and White House records. But still, I think he's going to have a hard time becoming more effectively nasty than she is, and, if he did, he would certainly disillusion some of his more committed young backers, unused to the ways of power politics.

Just Clinton's nuanced denial that she believes rumors that Obama is a Muslim shows the sly trickery that marks her as a political figure. This was described last night on television as "brilliant Machiavellism. It's hard for Obama to effectively answer. She can say she hasn't made the charge, but still the rumor stays out there, and she is spreading it by her very denial.

I've expressed my view many times before that Clinton would be a disastrous president. Her divisiveness makes it extremely unlikely she would ever be able to bring the country together, especially since even if this does turn out to be a Democratic year, it already seems likely that many voters will split their ballots and send quite a few Republicans to Congress. A Clinton victory would send the country reeling into another period of great political bitterness. She already reminds me of Richard Nixon, wait until she really gets started.

The temptation now is for John McCain, who last night clinched the Republican nomination, barring a sudden health problem, to assume that he will have the luxury of preparing an attractive campaign, while the two Democrats do great damage to one another with ads and other moves that McCain can later appropriate for himself or point to with glee.

But McGain, who I admire, better watch out. Like Obama, he is an idealist, a believer in propriety in politics. He too could get snookered by the Clintons in a general election campaign.

Make no mistake about it, like Richard III, Hillary would use every conceivable low down trick to beat him. She may cry so much, voters will suspect him of abusing her. And she would use powerful arguments, hanging the unpopular Iraq war around his neck, and making his 71 years seem like 91.

Still, McCain has proven resiliency in his life. Like the Clintons, he keeps coming back, be it against his North Vietnamese captors or from near oblivion in the Republican campaign last summer. He has a pleasant manner, and he is a war hero at a time the nation needs one. Just as the Israelis turned back to their old warrior, Ariel Sharon, when they were threatened after 9-11, so Americans may feel most comfortable with this old warrior, should the White House phone ring about a terrorist attack at 3 a.m.

This gets to the question, however, as to how likely a terrorist attack between now and the election is. I don't think one is likely, because Osama bin Laden seems to have absorbed a lesson of 9-11: If he strikes, America will strike back, and, if he strikes before November, it is only going to help McCain politically. Bin Laden would probably not prefer a McCain presidency.

General de Gaulle used to tell about a painting that showed one poor angel trying to warn people that they were about to fall over a cliff, while they screeched at him for being a fear monger. But, the painting showed, at the last moment before the abyss, the people scrambling back for the angel's protection. This is what happened in de Gaulle's own heroic career, and it is conceivable it would happen in McCain's, but I just don't think Bin Laden is going to walk into that trap. He may be Hitlerian, but he doesn't have Hitler's impatience.

The potential angel in this case may be McCain, the scoundrel certainly is Clinton, and before the people fall into the abyss of another corrupt Clinton presidency, they might turn to the angel. But McCain's road is not likely to be easy.

Now, if Obama is the Democratic candidate and McCain the Republican, it would be a much more honorable campaign. But I'm beginning to think, based on last night's results, that Obama may never get there. Mark Halperin, Time magazine's political expert, argues this morning on "The Page" that there is an "inevitability" to the Obama candidacy, given his continued lead in elected delegates.

But I disagree. I said after the Feb. 5 superprimaries that it would all come down to Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. Clinton has now won two of those states, at least in the popular vote, and if she wins Pennsylvania her argument that she can win the big industrialized states and Obama can't will be greatly fortified. Not to mention doubts setting in among the superdelegates that he might not be up to taking on a security-oriented candidate like McCain.

In politics, trickery often will win out. It certainly did last night in Texas, and the Clintons and their Karl Rove-like guru, Mark Penn, have many more tricks up their sleeves.


Despite Clinton's popular vote victory in Texas, slowly reporting returns from the caucuses today indicated Obama won those, and, if this is so, he will actually amass more Texas delegates to the Democratic convention than Clinton.

Meanwhile, 477,000 votes, by registrars' estimates reported to the Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, remain uncounted from California's Feb. 5 primary. Many counties are simply not expeditiously counting the votes, and the press has given this little attention. As more votes are reported, Obama's percentage of the total has been slowly moving up, and has now reached 43%, compared to Clinton's 51.7%. The latest returns put Obama in the lead in his 20th county of the state's 58, Butte County. Obama is now leading in 18 counties in the Bay Area, the north Coast, the Sacramento Valley and the Sierra, and two in Southern California, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. A few more counties are very close and may tip to him. Bowen has been derelict in not enforcing the state regulations mandating that all votes be reported within 28 days of the election.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Has Hillary Found Racial Code Words? Perhaps

When Dodger baseball executive Al Campanis said that blacks "may not have some of the necessities to be, let's say, field managers, or perhaps, a general manager," and that blacks are often poor swimmers "because they don't have the buoyancy," he was fired for making racist remarks.

When Sam Yorty called Tom Bradley a militant and said he was trying to benefit from a black bloc vote, he got himself reelected in 1969, but most people understood he was using racial code words.

The same thing with George Wallace when he defeated Albert Brewer in Alabama in 1970 after calling him a "sissy" for appealing to black voters. This was not exactly as blatant as, "segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever," but Alabama voters understood the racial pitch and narrowly reelected Wallace.

And I believe that when Hillary Clinton advertises that Barack Obama is not "ready" to confront a terrorist attack, she too is making a racial argument. Will Texans be taken in? We'll find out today.

The Clintons, determined to take back power, have been searching for some time for some argument that will take Obama down. One way or another, it was going to be racial.

In South Carolina, Bill Clinton said he thought a solid black vote for Obama would generate a white backlash against him. Later, he compared Obama's South Carolina victory to primaries won by Jesse Jackson. But this was a little too blatant and crass in 21st Century America, even the Deep South. Clinton was criticized, white votes for Obama increased in subsequent primaries, and Hillary was finally forced to rein her classless "Dog Patch" husband in, for once.

But she and her advertising flack, Mark Penn, the man who almost bankrupted the Clinton campaign by raking in millions of dollars of commissions and consultants fees, were still looking for something that would do Obama in.

And maybe they found it just three days before the Texas primary, when they launched the advertisement of a call arriving at the White House at 3 a.m. with perhaps word of terrorism and asking who Texans would be most comfortable with receiving such a call.

The ad wasn't used in Ohio, which is not a Southern state. But Texans, the Clintons, must have felt, would know what this meant, and be susceptible. (In Ohio, the Clintons, through surrogates, floated rumors that Obama might be Muslim, which he is not).

Today, we'll see if all this works. But in fact Obama peaked in the Texas polls and started going down in some of them after the ad appeared.

With some experience covering Southern politics, I immediately had a strong fear this subtle racism might work.

The same thing with the Clintons' focus on the word "experience," the subject of a Time magazine cover this week. After all, hadn't Time's pro-Clinton apologist, columnist Joe Klein, just suggested a couple of weeks back, that Obama wasn't as knowledgable as Hillary?

All that means the same thing that Campanis, Yorty and Wallace meant, in this case that a black man is not "ready, " or that politicians fair to blacks, are not "ready" to assume high positions.

Never mind that Obama is much brighter than Hillary, and, in fact, as Gov. Bill Richardson said Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation, has a great deal of experience, living internationally and community organizing, that Hillary can't touch.

This is what I termed "sleazy" the other day. This is what, down South, "white trash" means.

The Clintons got away a long time pretending they were friends of black people, until a black candidate began threatening their political futures. Then, with the help of their high-priced advertising hack, they began using the same arguments former Southern politicians had -- Orval Faubus in their own state, Wallace, Bilbo, Thurmond and Watson.

Will these tired arguments work again? We're going to find out today.


Kevin Roderick, in LA Observed this morning, reports that three Pulitzer Prize winners and many other prominent L.A. Times staffers, fearful of impending cutbacks at the stricken newspaper, have filed for buyouts, and that the destructive publisher, David Hiller, and his choice as new editor, Russ Stanton, will descend on the Washington bureau this week with a big hatchet.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Obama, McCain Must Fight Clinton Point By Point

Both Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain have answered negative attacks against them in this presidential campaign, point by point. It is the only tactic that suffices when one is up against an unscrupulous opponent.

So, in South Carolina and Florida, decisive states in the battle for front runner status in the GOP primaries, McCain fought former Govs. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, going just as negative as they, and especially Romney, did. McCain had been the target of a scurrilous campaign by George W. Bush in the South Carolina Primary in 2000, that even went so far as to suggest wrongly that he was the father of an illegitimate child. He wasn't about to let that happen again, and therefore he stiffened his rhetoric when attacked. He started calling unfair as soon as things were turning unfair. He won both South Carolina and Florida, narrowly, and was on his way to becoming the presumptive GOP nominee.

Such a skillful response is also required of Obama. The Clintons, relying on their unscrupulous strategist Mark Penn, on Hillary Clinton's instinct for the gutter, and on Bill Clinton's bad temper and occasional anti-black comments, have launched one negative ad or statement after another in a racially-tinged campaign to discredit Obama and bring about a co-presidency by the Clintons. The worst was the ad suggesting Obama would not be up to responding to a terrorist attack launched at 3 a.m. when the telephone rang in the White House. Obama has pretty much given as good as he got, and has made the point that it is Clinton, not he, who is a purveyor of divisiveness and all that has been undesirable politically in American life.

Especially, the Clinton and the Romney tactics in the campaign have been reprehensible. McCain and Obama would have been swept aside had they not turned negative in turn against them.

This is a point that was driven into me in observing 40 years of politics, covering them for United Press International, Life magazine and the Los Angeles Times: The candidates who responded adequately, who got down into the dirt and fought it out with the Nixon-like, Yorty-like and Rafferty-like candidates, were the ones who succeeded in overcoming these squalid personalities. Like the Clintons, they were rotten to the core, but they ended up defeated.

Sometimes, it was only on the second or later try, however. In 1969, in a bitterly racist campaign then-Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty went after his challenger, Tom Bradley, who had led in the primary 42% to 26%, claiming spuriously that Bradley was a black militant who would let blacks take over the city. Bradley failed to respond adequately, trying to stick with his principles and stay above it all. The result was that Yorty pulled off an upset and served another four years (a good portion of it gallivanting around the world at public expense).

In 1973, Bradley and his strategists were determined not to let the same thing happen. When Yorty started throwing manure, as he had four years before, Bradley got down in the dirt with him in a nasty television debate on KNXT. He proved he could be just as tough as Yorty by attacking him just as vigorously. This time, Bradley won, and Yorty was through. So ended the career of a man who Pat Brown once called "the cleverest concocter of phony issues I ever knew."

The same thing happened when Alan Cranston ran against the demagogue Max Rafferty for the U.S. Senate in 1968. Rafferty had won the Republican primary that year against California's veteran senator, Tom Kuchel, based on such falsehoods as that Kuchel was gay and far to the left. Cranston was determined the same thing was not going to happen to him. He started yelling foul even before Rafferty had gotten into that mode in the general election. The result was that Cranston won, ending Rafferty's political career.

Rafferty came out of the campaign looking so bad that when I asked his manager, Lyn Nofziger, what, if anything, he could do to recoup politically, Nofziger told me that he had advised Rafferty to "shut up and hope the people forget." Unfortunately, for him, they did not forget. Rafferty failed to be reelected as state superintendent of public instruction, and ended up as president of Troy State University in an isolated part of Alabama.

With Nixon, he won high public office, based on the smears fashioned by his guttersnipe political advisor, Murray Chotiner, defeating both Jerry Voorhies for Congress and Helen Gahagen Douglas for the U.S. Senate. He claimed falsely that both were too close to Communists. Then he outmaneuvered Gov. Earl Warren at the 1952 Republican convention, gaining credit with Dwight Eisenhower for swinging the California delegation to Eisenhower's side in the credentials fight that decided the nomination, giving Eisenhower the victory over Sen. Robert Taft. Eisenhower rewarded Nixon with the vice presidency, and his squalid national career really began.

It was not until he faced John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election, and Gov. Edmund G. (Pat) Brown in the 1962 California gubernatorial election that Nixon was turned back, only to reemerge again as a fake "new Nixon" in the 1968 campaign, when Hubert Humphrey was besmirched by his backing for Lyndon B. Johnson's Vietnam war policy. To his great credit, then-Times editor Bill Thomas said at the time he would never believe there was a new Nixon, and he was right. (I wasn't),.

Nixon, however, fell into scandal after his first term, when it turned out he wasn't paying any income taxes to speak of, had used police state tactics against an "enemy's list," and was forced to resign in the Watergate crisis, but only after his opponents launched an impeachment drive against him and uncovered evidence that he had lied in trying to advance a cover up. At long last, Nixon's tactics were uncovered for what they were, and he might have gone to jail had Gerald Ford not pardoned him.

Some commentators on this blog have viewed me as too negative in comparing the Clintons to Nixon. But I think time will show that both of them are just as corrupt. One way to establish this would be to force the Clintons to release White House records and their tax returns.

Now, I feel that Obama and McCain must fight fire with fire -- be very strongly responsive when confronted with Clinton demagogy, to the point that like Yorty, Rafferty and Nixon, the Clintons too will eventually go down.

In appearing yesterday on CBS' Face The Nation, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, suggested that whoever comes out of Tuesday's primaries with a delegate lead should be the Democratic nominee, and that then it would be time for Democrats to resume campaigning positively.

Richardson said that Clinton's ad that Obama would not be up to responding adequately to a terrorist attack is untrue. "I happen to disagree with that ad that says Sen. Obama is not ready," he said. "He is ready. He has great judgment and internationalist background." Richardson has far more experience in foreign affairs than Clinton. He should know.

Obama has tried to respond as the opponents of Yorty, Rafferty and Nixon did. But unless he wins at least one of the two key states, tomorrow, Texas or Ohio, there can be no doubt Clinton will go on, even if she has fewer delegates. The Clintons of this world don't quit, until they are finally squashed.


I was sorry to hear today of the death Feb. 25 of Northern California journalist Mary Ellen Leary at the age of 94. Leary was the first woman to cover the California Legislature, and was one of the first women to win a Nieman fellowship. She also did a special study on how California political writers covered the 1976 political campaigns. Both gracious and able, she notably got the San Francisco Call-Bulletin, for which she worked, to oppose capital punishment at a time when virtually all the state's papers supported it.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Press Animus To Clinton Reflects Rotten Candidacy

Written from Palm Springs, California--

When the press becomes deeply hostile to a candidate, as became the case with Richard Nixon and has become so with Hillary Clinton, it reflects a deep knowledge that they do not offer the American people anything good.

That is the whole truth about the present situation. Many members of the Fourth Estate have come to perceive Barack Obama and John McCain as honorable candidates who offer a choice between often sharply conflicting views, especially on foreign policy. This blog endorsed them for their respective party presidential nominations Dec. 26.

With Clinton, there is a perception she is an awful phony, a screeching, whining harridan who would be a disastrous president, unfit in every respect for the Presidency.

The conduct of Clinton and her tempermental, philandering husband, Bill Clinton, in the last weeks, in particular, has been disgraceful. They have proved themselves what was only partially evident until recently, to be Southern racists of the old stripe, white trash dresssed up in gaudy garments.

Let's hope the people of Texas and Ohio, who may settle the Democratic primary fight, are not fooled. When they vote on Tuesday, they have as near a good and bad choice as these things rarely get. Obama is in every respect a more intelligent, principled candidate than Clinton.

I remember the foolish woman who once told me that Sam Yorty and Max Rafferty were men of the highest character. The people who think highly of Clinton are of the same order.

So not only the press corps, but the whole country will be watching Tuesday, and we pray for a good result, removing L'll Abner's low class Dog Patch from the contemporary scene and launching the nation on a new, truer course.


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hillary Clinton: Whining, Gutless And Two Faced

Written from Palm Springs, California--

Now, we're seeing the real Hillary Clinton, and she is not a pretty sight. Along with her husband, the mediocre former president, Bill Clinton, she will stoop to nothing to get herself elected. It turns out the Hillary opponents were right all along.

A sporting candidate, locked in a tight race, would restrain himself or herself, not campaign in such a way as to give the other party's presumptive nominee, in this case, Sen. John McCain, ammunition to use against the Democrats in the fall. That was the point of the Republican 11th Commandment a few years ago. For a long time, most Republicans went along. Clinton has been inappropriately negative about fellow-Democrats all along.

Clinton has made the contest with Obama a nasty race, implicitly racist, dishonest about her own record, exhibiting fake emotion, whining about an honest press simply trying to do its job, calling cravenly for votes from women simply because she is a woman.

To all this, Barack Obama has responded by pointing out some truths, and they are nothing more, really, than Matt Bai pointed out months ago in a New York Times magazine article.

One, Clinton voted for the war in Iraq. She can't honestly claim now to be against it, particularly since it is by no means likely she would honor her promises to withdraw troops. She is a hawk in sheep's clothing. McCain has an honorable, consistent position for the war. Clinton is two-faced. Obama is against it. The voters will have the final choice.

Two, Clinton was for NAFTA and now she doesn't like it. She waited until the Ohio primary to make her latest position clear. After Ohio, she will have yet another position.

Three, Clinton was for federal anti-bankruptcy legislation, and against it. In this as on other issues, she doesn't have the strength of character or the fortitude to take a position and hold to it.

Clinton and her husband are in cahoots with every special interest that will give them money.

Clinton has persistently refused to release her tax returns, in all likelihood because they would show income from unsavory sources, and very possibly that she has been cheating on her taxes.

Reminiscent of Richard Nixon? No, Nixon was more honorable.

It's now up to the voters of Ohio and Texas. If they aren't fooled, this will be all over Tuesday, and we will never have to hear from the Clintons again. They are an ugly episode in American history. They demonstrate the truth of the old adage, that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. They have grown more corrupt as time has gone on.

Fortunately, we have two honorable candidates for President -- McCain and Obama. Both have views of their own, consistent and honestly expressed, that will allow voters to make a clear choice between them.

But the Clintons, they belong in the trash can of history.