The Independent

An Independent View on News, Sports and Politix in San Antonio

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wesley Clark Endorses Lukin Gilliland for TX-23

This is pretty big news--not many national Dems have paid to the race for the recently redrawn 23rd Congressional district in Texas, but Wesley Clark's endorsement of Lukin Gilliland might be huge.

I haven't seen any polling data for this race, but my guess is that either Bonilla wins this thing barely on election day, or we go to a runoff between Bonilla and Gilliland, Ciro Rodriguez or Cuellar. Anyone out there have updated polling on this race?

Texas Political Roundup

*The District 118 race between Republican George Antuna Jr. and Farias is getting really nasty:

Last week, Republican George Antuna Jr.'s campaign accused Democrat Joe Farias in a mailer of accepting a bribe several years ago when he sat on the Harlandale school board.

The allegation stemmed from an affidavit by architect Louis Cruz, who pleaded guilty in 2002 to bribing board members.

Farias, 60, who at least twice tried to fire Cruz as a Harlandale project manager, angrily denied the allegation.

Within days, Farias' supporters quietly circulated a 2000 police report and a 2002 vehicle accident report involving Antuna, though neither accused him of any wrongdoing. Farias' camp, meanwhile, is planning a mail-out this week based on the reports, campaign manager Roger Garza said.

In one incident, a Selma police officer arrested Adrianne Rebeca Gonzalez, then a South San Antonio school board member, on a drunken driving charge in the early hours of July 21, 2000, after pulling her over on Interstate 35 for speeding.

According to the report, Antuna — a special assistant in then-Lt. Gov. Rick Perry's office at the time — was asleep in the passenger's seat and the officer smelled "a very strong odor of an alcoholic beverage in the interior of the truck."

After waking him, the officer reported smelling alcohol on Antuna's breath and asked him if he was capable of driving. Antuna answered that he believed he was, but a field test indicated he was inebriated, the report said.

For more info on Antuna, read Matt Glazer's, "George Antuna: Alcohol, Accidents, Ambulances and Lies" at BOR.

*Burnt Orange Report reports on how Chris Bell is doing very well among college students at the University of Texas:

This poll was taken Monday night of a random sample of 230 UT students, unweighted. It has a 5.4% MoE @ 90% confidence.

46.5% Bell (D)
18.3% Friedman (I)
16.5% Perry (R)
10.0% Strayhorn (I)
04.3% Werner (L)
04.0% Undecided
*Nelson Balido continues to struggle in the last weeks of this election, largely because of continued concerns about his close ties to Tom Delay and TRMPAC (Balido has received approximately $40,000 from TRMPAC, an organization which was central in the criminal indictment of Tom Delay for corruption charges)
Balido has also struggled to to get voters to forget his own criminal record with respect to illegal substances, a record which Balido has admitted he's not proud of:

Balido acknowledges that he received deferred adjudication on a felony charge of unlawfully obtaining steroids while he was attending Texas Tech University in 1993.

The State Democratic Executive Committee put out a mailer about it, stating plainly: "Nelson Balido Broke the Law. Can we trust Nelson Balido to represent our values?"...

..."I'm not happy or proud of what I did," Balido said. "But I've never tried to hide it. It was just wrong."
(San Antonio Express News, "District 125 contest is spirited ; Bilingual Republican, hometown Democrat square off," Jaime Castillo, October 31, 2002, p. 1B)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Rush Limbaugh Smears Michael J. Fox

This is truly sickening--Rush Limbaugh has lost all civility and morals...

Fed Up With Everybody by Bob Herbert



OP-ED COLUMNIST

Fed Up With Everybody

By BOB HERBERT
Published: October 26, 2006

In South Bend, it’s Republicans versus non-Republicans.


South Bend, Indiana

In the campaign headquarters of Representative Chris Chocola, a Republican running for re-election in Indiana’s bellwether Second Congressional District, there is a large photo of Ronald Reagan on the wall, but no picture of President Bush.

Mr. Bush, once such an asset for Republican candidates, has become a potentially devastating liability for campaigns like Mr. Chocola’s.

“He’s not as popular as he was,” the congressman said in an interview, “but I would say he’s still respected.”

Mr. Chocola is in big political trouble and he knows that President Bush is much more the cause than the solution. Any mention of the Bush administration tends to turn local Republicans as chilly as the dusting of lake-effect snow that fell over South Bend the other night.

Lucy McKee, a 40-year-old part-time supermarket clerk, told me, “I voted for Bush twice. Now I just want him gone.”

Mr. Bush has come into this northern Indiana district to raise money for the Chocola campaign but he has not been asked to appear with the congressman publicly to rally the dispirited troops.

“I don’t know that it would help me,” said Mr. Chocola. He candidly acknowledged that being seen as aligned with Mr. Bush “is not as much of a positive as it used to be.”

With control of the House at stake, the G.O.P. can hardly afford to lose Mr. Chocola’s seat. Two years ago he defeated his Democratic opponent, Joe Donnelly, by roughly nine percentage points. Mr. Donnelly is his opponent again this year, and a recent public poll showed him leading Mr. Chocola by about five points. Mr. Chocola said his own internal polls showed the race as a dead heat.

Democrats seem confident they will win control of the House on Nov. 7, and Mr. Chocola is not convinced they are wrong. “If you listen to the news every night,” he said, “it would be hard to say that’s not possible.”

His district, which has been hurt by the downturn in the auto industry, is more of a bellwether than most. “If I win,” said Mr. Chocola, “then I think there is a reasonable chance we will hold the House. If I don’t, I think there’s a reasonable chance we won’t.”

To win, Mr. Chocola and the G.O.P. will have to deal with the unhappiness of voters like Ms. McKee and like Jeri Niazi, a 60-year-old South Bend resident who works as a security monitor at the University of Notre Dame and describes herself as a “lifelong registered Republican.”

“What’s happening now is frightening to me,” she said. “The war. The deficit. The cronyism. I’m the kind of Republican who signed on for balanced budgets, minimal government and letting people go about their lives. I feel like somebody has thrown away that playbook.”

Ms. Niazi said she is pro-business but she “never dreamed” that corporate interests would achieve the kind of overwhelming and corrosive influence on the federal government that they have under President Bush.

“They are cleaning up,” she said, “while people here are having a tough time making ends meet.”

The overwhelming sense I took away from interviews with voters in and around South Bend was a feeling of disillusionment with government. Republicans and Democrats spoke sourly about the Bush administration, but no one expected dramatic changes if the Democrats gained control of one or both houses of Congress. “People say the Democrats are weak, and frankly, I think they are,” said Vernon DeWitt, who recently moved to Mishawaka from St. Louis. “I’m fed up with everybody.”

The big issue here, as in most of the country, is Iraq, which will have claimed close to 3,000 American lives by the end of this year, and which has lasted almost as long as the U.S. involvement in World War II.

“The war creates stress on the electorate,” said Congressman Chocola. “I think it wears people’s patience. They don’t see a clear light at the end of the tunnel. They see every night on the news the bad things going on, and they almost never see any of the good things going on.”

It’s understood that this is a very tough political environment for Republicans. People want change. But the lack of great enthusiasm for the Democrats is an indication that the system itself is not working well, and that would be a problem more serious than even Iraq.

There are only two major parties. Where do troubled voters turn if the country is in a serious fix and neither party is seen as having an adequate solution?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Week 7 Fantasy Starters: Fantasy Football

Here are some of the not so obvious strong starts for week 7 in fantasy football:

QBs
Brett Favre--Green Bay takes on a suspect Miami defense, could score 2 TDs and good pass yds
Joey Harrington--Miami takes on a suspect Green Bay secondary, see above.
Byron Leftwich--JAX plays the Texans, but make sure he's playing. Backup Garrard might be a sleeper if he plays.
Chad Pennington--Jets take on the woeful Lions secondary.
Jon Kitna--The Jets seconday isn't that great either.

RBs
Ronnie Brown--Miami should have good rushing against GB.
Fred Taylor and
Maurice Jones Drew--The Jags are playing the Texans, folks. The Texans. 'nuff said.
Kevin Jones--The Lions take on a pretty weak Jets rush defense that's given up big yds and TDs on the ground
LT--Always money. Always. He'll score big against the Chiefs, even if it is at Arrowhead.
Deshaun Foster--Bengals rush defense still is mediocre.
Laurence Maroney--The rookie Patriot should have big numbers against a weak and hurting Bills D.
Tatum Bell--Broncos are playing the porous Browns D.
Edgerrin James--Finally, he gets to play the Raiders. Could be huge.


WRs:
Greg Jennings and Donald Driver: Favre should find these two against Miami often
Chris Chambers: Ditto for Harrington against GB
Reggie Williams: It's the Texans folks.
Laveranues Coles: Lions secondary is suspect, and Coles is on fire. Check injury status.
Doug Gabriel: Brady should find his man against suspect Bills secondary.
Donte' Stallworth/Reggie Brown: If Donte's healthy, could have huge game. Otherwise, it's what can brown do for you?
ALL ARIZONA RECEIVERS: C'mon people--it's the 0-5 Raiders.


Matt Leinart--The rook is going to go wild against the Oakland Raiders.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Train Derails in San Antonio, Destroys 2 Homes

The Express News reports more on today's dramatic train derailment in San Antonio today, and the fallout from that accident:

Around 11 a.m. today a Union Pacific train carrying auto parts and paper goods derailed near the intersection of Fredericksburg and Culebra roads on the city's Northwest Side.

No one was injured, but two homes were destroyed when 17 railcars jumped the tracks along a three-block stretch.Residents and one business in the immediate area were evacuated, but were allowed back into the area once officials determined no hazardous cargo was aboard the train.



Thank god no one was hurt in this accident. But apparently, there's been quite a few derailments recently, according to the article.

Report: Nelson Balido Broke Texas Law; Pled Guilty to Unlawfully Obtaining Dangerous Drugs

In addition to refusing to return money that he received from Tom DeLay's TRMPAC (over $41,000), Republican Nelson Balido is still haunted by illlegal, criminal conduct he committed while at Texas Tech University in 1993. As the Express-News noted in its October 31, 2002 article on the race for District 125, Nelson Balido violated Texas law when he illegally obtained steroids:

By putting so much of an emphasis on his experience, Balido has had to make controversial admissions about his past. Balido acknowledges that he received deferred adjudication on a felony charge of unlawfully obtaining steroids while he was attending Texas Tech University in 1993.

The State Democratic Executive Committee put out a mailer about it, stating plainly: "Nelson Balido Broke the Law. Can we trust Nelson Balido to represent our values?"...

..."I'm not happy or proud of what I did," Balido said. "But I've never tried to hide it. It was just wrong."

(San Antonio Express News, "District 125 contest is spirited ; Bilingual Republican, hometown Democrat square off," Jaime Castillo, October 31, 2002, p. 1B)
What's interesting is that there is no mention of crime as an issue on the Nelson Balido campaign website, and you have to wonder if this is because he wants to avoid looking like a hypocrite.

Still, in a year when so many Republican Congressman and politicians have been dogged by scandals, ranging from the Tom Delay-TRMPAC scandal in which DeLay diverted money illegally to candidates via TRMPAC (again, recall that TRMPAC donated $41,000 plus to Balido, money which he still refuses to return despite its questionable legality), to the Mark Foley page scandal, you have to wonder if Balido's admission to obtaining illegal steroids, in violation of Texas law, may come back to dog him again in the upcoming election.

Balido's illegal obtaining of steroids begs another question: should someone be disqualified for running for state office if they have committed a felony under Texas law, or have plead guilty or "no contest" to committing a felony under deferred adjudication?

It's also unclear what "deferred adjudication" on the felony charge actually means.

Out of curiosity, I decided to find out more about deferred adjudication. Here's one explanation:

Deferred Adjudication is a plea bargain agreement between a defendant, and a Texas Criminal Court in which formal judgment is withheld or "deferred" pending the outcome of the probation period. If an individual is given deferred adjudication and he or she successfully completes the probation and conditions assigned by the court, the charges are dismissed. In order to obtain DA from the court, the defendant MUST either enter a plea of "guilty" or a plea of "no contest". Essentially, both pleas mean the same thing; with the exception being that a plea of "no contest" has certain advantages as far as protecting the defendant against any subsequent civil litigation proceedings related to the original crime he/she was originally charged with.

Even though a successfully completed deferred adjudication will ultimately result in charges being dismissed by the criminal court, itis extremely important to take note of the fact that two very important records will remain in existence... and will be viewable by the general public... for the rest of that person's life. These two records are:

(1) The original arrest record which contains the arresting officers notes, reports, etc. This arrest record will also usually contain police investigator's notes, photographs, confessions, or any other evidence seized or testimony taken during an arrest

(2) The record of the action of the court. This document is usually the order of probation that you, the defendant signed in order to qualify for deferred adjudication. This paper, with your signature on it, also contains your plea of guilty or "nolo contendere" (no contest).


So according to this explanation, Balido did indeed plead guilty or no contest to illegally obtaining steroids or illegal substances, which is a felony under Texas law.

Apparently, a bunch of politicians in Texas have some blemishes on their criminal record which they wanted to wipe clean when they run for office, so in 2003, the legislature passed a law allowing those with deferred adjudication convictions to have those convictions expunged.

But given that this law was passed in 2003, AFTER Balido's first run in 2002, it was too late for Nelson--his deferred adjudication conviction for steroids was still public record in 2002.

And because of that, and his own public admissions in 2002 to the Express-News, it's still public record in 2006.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday News

A video update from 60 minutes on the Duke Lacrosse Rape case and more...

An article on what caused the Hawaii Earthquake.

Another article on jumping fish and the Hawaiian earthquake. Fish and animals apparently feel and can sense seismic activity long before humans do.

North Korea to Test Second Nuclear Bomb?

South Korean intelligence reports that Kim Jong Il and the North Koreans may be planning for a second nuclear test very soon.

Crap. Am I the only one worried here? What's wrong with the Bush administration? Why did we invade Iraq, a country with no nukes, while we sit around and allow Iran and North Korea, the other two "axis of evil" nations to quietly carry on with development of thier own nukes?

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson Supports Partion Plan for Iraq

According to this Chronicle report, Senator Hutchinson now joins other well-known political leaders in Congress, including Tennessee's Harold Ford, in calling for partioning Iraq by ethnicity.

Allowing the Kurds, Sunni and Shia to govern their own territories while sharing in Iraq's oil revenues through a national revenue stream could help quell the bloodletting, Hutchison told the Houston Chronicle editorial board.

"We have to step back and stop trying to put our American ideas onto this problem and start trying to get an understanding of their views, and strong-held prejudices and biases and ethic preferences," said Hutchison, who serves on the defense appropriations subcommittee.

Unfortunately, some, including Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki are getting frustrated with support for partition, arguing that such talk is actually undermining his government presently.

Al-Maliki complained Monday to President Bush that talk of partition was undermining the Iraqi government, White House spokesman Tony Snow said.

Great Post on Kinky Friedman and Blogosphere

The Express-News has an excellent article about how political blogs like the Burnt Orange Report have exposed and aired audio clips of some pretty racist comments made by Kinky Friedman:

During the recent gubernatorial debate, independent Kinky Friedman cast the Internet as "the work of Satan." Considering the swipes bloggers have taken at his campaign, his stance may be understandable.

Last month, a Democratic-leaning blog called the Burnt Orange Report posted audio of a racially charged joke the satirist made during a 1980 performance he later said — in news reports that followed the posting — was packed with material to offend everyone.

The blog and others also recycled an excerpt from a cable news interview a year ago in which Friedman said sexual predators should sit in prison with "a Negro talking to himself."

In many ways, the blogosphere's work on the racism of Kinky Friedman mirrors the "Macaca" incident that has dogged Senator George Allen's re-election campaign. If you're running for office, and you're a racist, there's a pretty good chance the blogosphere will NOT let you get away with it unnoticed. And that's a good thing.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Nelson Balido Took More than $40,000 from Tom Delay's TRMPAC

Politics is getting pretty polarized in San Antonio. Part of this may be a legacy of the post-Tom Delay era, given that Delay hammered through a partisan gerrymander designed to unseat Democrats and also disenfrancise Latino voters. It wasn't until this year that a federal court undid part of Delay's gerrymander, ruling that the Delay redistricting illegally redrew districts so as to dilute the voting power of latinos in South Texas--specifically in Webb County/Laredo.

With wave after wave of Republican scandals in the past year, starting with Delay's own criminal indictments for violating campaign finance laws, the DeLay-Abramoff scandal, and now Republican Mark Foley's internet sex/instant message scandal, one would hope that the legacy of scandal and corruption is behind us.

Not so fast. Unfortunately, dozens of Tom DeLay's disciples and proteges are running for office THIS YEAR statewide--and according to this article, Tom Delay's scandal ridden TRMPAC gave money to local candidate Nelson Balido. Here's more:

A good analogy is the mythical Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter, who somehow survives as a being by putting little bits of himself in various people on the earth. Many of the candidates who received money from DeLay's TRMPAC are now candidates for state office again in 2006 in Texas, and Democrats must still contend with these proteges of DeLay. One such candidate is Nelson Balido, a candidate for state representative for District 125 of the Texas State Legislature.

Texans for Public Justice report that Tom Delay's own TRMPAC (the same TRMPAC for which DeLay was indicted for using corporate contributions for campaign expenditures, which is illegal under Texas law), funneled money directly into Nelson Balido's campaign.

In fact, if one pulls up Nelson Balido's own disclosure statement of campaign contributions (go to page 6 of the 15 page report) filed with the Texas State Ethics Commission (Report #207345--the 8 Day Before Election Report), which was filed on October 28th, 2002, you see an interesting contribution line:

Date Full Name of Contributor Amount Contributed Amt. Contributed
10/26/2002 TRMPAC $39976.70 $39,976.70
*Delay's Texans for a Republican Majority PAC


On the fourth line, it indicates that this sum, almost 40 thousand dollars, went to pay for "Mailing Services."

Wow. But it gets worse. (Keep a tally of the total, so we can check our math at the end...)

In another filing report filed on January 15, 2003, Balido reports receiving $1,304.64 from DeLay's TRMPAC for "Phone services," which he reports receiving on November 13, 2002.

And in a recent filing on July 17,2006, Balido reports receiving $500 from the American Dream PAC, a PAC that funneled money directly to DeLay for his redistricting efforts and to cover expenses for DeLay's legal defense fund!:

When Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Tex.) took charge of an independent political fund called American Dream PAC in 1999, he made clear that its mission was "to give significant, direct financial assistance to first-rate minority GOP candidates."

Since then, only $48,750 -- or 8.9 percent -- of the $547,000 the southwest Texas congressman has raised for his political action committee has gone to minority office-seekers while more than $100,000 has been routed to Republican Party organizations or causes, including a GOP redistricting effort in Texas, a legal defense fund for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.) and Bonilla's reelection campaign. Most of the remainder of the money went to legal fees, fundraisers in Miami and other cities, airline tickets, hotels, catering services, consultants and salaries.

So let's add up the totals. $39,976.70 + 1,304.64 is $41,289.34.

So Nelson Balido took $41,289.34 from Tom Delay's TRMPAC. Plus $500 from the shady "American Dream" PAC.

On top of this, Balido has also taken $15,000 from Bob Perry, the head of the right wing group, "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," according to this report filed by Balido with the Texas Ethics Commission on July 17th, 2006 (on page 18 of the 88 page report).

They say you can learn a lot about a candidate by looking at where they get their money from.
Do we really want to elect another Tom DeLay clone to the legislature?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sports Wrapup: Texas Rolls Over Baylor

A busy day in college football today. The Texas Longhorns pummeled Baylor today 63-31. Ouch.

In other news, OU star running back Adrian Peterson broke his collarbone and is out for the season. Double ouch. Let's wish him a speedy recovery.

Finally, in MLB news, the Detroit Tigers swept the Oakland Athletics to cruise to the World Series, where they will await the winner of the St. Louis Cardinals-New York Mets Series. The Cardinals lead 2-1.

Are Democrats Hotter than Republicans?

Okay, so the Washington Post still isn't writing news stories about Tara Reid's botched plastic surgery, or about the latest drama or tiff between Patrick Dempsey and Isaiah Washington on Grey's Anatomy.

And they're not even gossiping about how country singer Sara Evans quit Dancing With the Stars because of a divorce with her husband (allegedly because of porn and adultery).

But they came awfully close to tabloid journalism today in writing about how Democratic candidates this year are considered to be much "hotter" than their Republicans on average:

The research is unambiguous that Ferrin is right: Attractive politicians have an edge over not-so-attractive ones. The phenomenon is resonating especially this year. By a combination of luck and design, Democrats seem to be fielding an uncommonly high number of uncommonly good-looking candidates.

The beauty gap between the parties, some on Capitol Hill muse, could even be a factor in who controls Congress after Election Day.

Democratic operatives do not publicly say that they went out of their way this year to recruit candidates with a high hotness quotient. Privately, however, they acknowledge that, as they focused on finding the most dynamic politicians to challenge vulnerable Republicans, it did not escape their notice that some of the most attractive prospects were indeed often quite attractive.

The Post even lists some of the "hottest" candidates and weighs in on who's hot and who's not in the Ford-Corker race in Tennesee:

In most of the races, the Democratic challengers look a lot like standard-issue politicians -- not likely to impress the judges at Atlantic City. But there are others who, while they might not have movie-star looks, are certainly well above the C-SPAN median.

The list is decidedly unscientific, but it includes several whose names come up often on Capitol Hill for reasons other than their policy platforms. Among those on it, in addition to Arcuri, are Brad Ellsworth, a swaggering Indiana sheriff; businesswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who has chiseled features and rides a motorcycle; and Heath Shuler of North Carolina, a strapping former quarterback for the Washington Redskins. In Tennessee, Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr., a lean and stylish 36-year-old, has drawn admiring looks.

Republican Bob Corker, who is running against Ford, has acknowledged the disparity. "I know I'm not as good-looking," Corker said. He hopes his business experience will compensate.

The crop of eye-pleasing pols has party operatives calculating the politics of beauty. "There's a fine line, and you can't cross it," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Voters don't like men who look like pretty boys or women who resemble bimbos. "If you're too good-looking, people won't take you seriously," Emanuel said.

Emanuel's comment here is rather amusing. "Pretty boys" or "bimbos."

Is this what our politics have been reduced to?

TX-125: Express News Endorses Joaquin Castro over Nelson Balido

The San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board released its endorsements for the legislative races this week.

In District 125, the Express-News has endorsed Joaquin Castro--here's more on what they had to say:

Democratic state Reps. José Menéndez in District 124 and Joaquín Castro in District 125 also deserve re-election.

Menéndez serves on the House Appropriations Committee and has been instrumental in securing funding for Bexar County, including the important South Texas Blood & Tissue Center.

The fact that Menéndez landed an appropriations seat under a Republican speaker demonstrates his ability to work in a bipartisan fashion.

Castro serves on the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues committee and represents his district well.

The Republican in this race, Nelson Balido, has been struggling to gain traction in this race. Word on the street has it that Balido is trailing badly according to internal polls for both campaigns, and an influx of cash from national Republicans does not appear to be helping much.

The Express-News also endorsed George Antuna, a Republican, for District 118, a competitive race. Antuna is running against Joe Farias.

Ridiculous Campaign Ads: Rick Perry and Chris Bell the Giant

Here is the latest negative ad from Governor Rick Perry:

Daily Show: Bush's General Excuse

Is Chivalry Shivved: Maureen Dowd

Is Chivalry Shivved?

By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: October 14, 2006

John McCain must be wary as he figures out how to push Hillary Clinton around.


Washington


Hillary Clinton became a senator because men abused her. Her husband humiliated her in public and her opponent, Rick Lazio, hounded her in a debate. She was a sympathetic figure to many voters only after she went from pushy to pushed around.

So John McCain must be wary as he figures out how to push her around. He must slide in the shiv chivalrously.

This week, he managed to attack her three ways in one sentence: as a senator, as a wife and as a future opponent. This raises the question: Is it a smart move, pleasing a base that cringes at stories of these celebrity senators palling around, knocking back drinks on an overseas trip? Or is it a misstep, making Mr. McCain look like a sexist bully for pointedly blaming his fellow senator for her husband’s old policies — and calling her “Mrs. Clinton” just to rub it in?

On a trip to Detroit to campaign for a Republican Senate candidate, Mr. McCain singled out Hillary for a shellacking on North Korea. “I would remind Senator Clinton and other Democrats critical of Bush administration policies that the framework agreement her husband’s administration negotiated was a failure,” he said.

The next morning on CBS’s “The Early Show,” he was asked why he would blame the Clintons for North Korea’s batty behavior.

It’s clear, after all, that the North Koreans are acting immaturely in response to W. acting immaturely. They want attention because the Bush administration inexplicably refuses to talk to them. And they know, in the pre-emptive world ordained by nutty Dick Cheney, that the best way to protect themselves from the fate of Saddam Hussein is to actually go nuclear, rather than merely fantasizing and boasting about it.

But the Republicans love to blame Bill Clinton for everything, from the radioactive Congressional page explosion to the radioactive North Korean explosion.

Mr. McCain told Hannah Storm that he “was responding to attacks made on President Bush by Mrs. Clinton, Senator Kerry, Senator Reid and other Democrats.” Hillary advisers noted that she was called “Mrs.” while the others were called “Senator.”

Just as the male Republican front-runner, known for a short fuse, must be careful how he attacks the female Democratic front-runner, the former first lady must be careful how she attacks the war hero.

If she doesn’t respond forcefully, she’s not fit for the alpha chair in the Oval; if she responds too forcefully, the Republicans will try to paint her as an angry harridan who would nag us to death, or go all hypersensitive on us.

“It hurts her when she gets in a defensive crouch on her husband’s record,” a McCain adviser said.

Clearly, the missus does not think so. Billary has their 2008 war room running and finger-wagging. Just as they teamed up recently to punch back when Condi and Bush boosters accused Bill of being lax with Al Qaeda before 9/11, Hillary swiftly rebutted the charge that Bill was lax with North Korea, calling it “ridiculous.”

Privately, Hillary’s camp was not overly upset by the McCain swipe because it suspected he was doing the bidding of the White House and that he ended up, as one adviser put it, “looking similar to the way he did on those captive tapes from Hanoi, where he recited the names of his crew mates.” Besides, Senator Clinton does like to cruise on her husband’s coattails and remind Americans that the economy was exploding and the world wasn’t.

Hillary’s people think she’s better off tying herself to les bon-temps-roulez Bill years than Mr. McCain is tying himself to the war-without-end W. years. “It’s bad enough that he strapped himself to a broken Acme rocket on Iraq and the economy, now he’s strapping himself on North Korea,” said one. “People were enamored of his independence, but now he just seems like Bush’s windup toy, the obedient corporal.”

Linking to W. may become even more problematic if Republicans lose the House next month, and Democrats begin a lollapalooza of investigations into W.’s economic policies, Katrina management methods, Iraq military plan and Iraq reconstruction record.

But Hillary and her first lad have their work cut out for them in trying to take out a popular war hero, according to Mark Halperin and John Harris, authors of “The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008.”

“Our sense right now,” Mr. Halperin says, “is that McCain would beat any Democrat including Hillary Clinton, and Clinton would beat any Republican except for McCain.”