Monday, May 26, 2008

Lobbyists and ....

I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists — and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president.

— Barack Obama, Speech in Des Moines, IA, November 10, 2007

All candidates talk about taking on the lobbyists. They claim to oppose lobbyists' influence over Washington and loudly and proudly talk about not take money from lobbyists. But what really happens when the camera and lights go off? The facts have been reported on the internet but in very large part, the MSM has virtually ignored this issue. You decide:

the Illinois Democrat's policy of shunning money from lobbyists registered to do business on Capitol Hill does not extend to lawyers whose partners lobby there.

Nor does the ban apply to corporations that have major lobbying operations in Washington. And the prohibition does not extend to lobbyists who ply their trade in such state capitals as Springfield, Ill.; Tallahassee, Fla.; and Sacramento, though some deal with national clients and issues.

snip ...

Some of the most influential players, lawyers and consultants among them, skirt disclosure requirements by merely advising clients and associates who do actual lobbying, and avoiding regular contact with policymakers. Obama's ban does not cover such individuals.

snip ...

In Tallahassee, Obama held a fundraiser attended by several statehouse lobbyists, taking checks from lobbyists for trial attorneys, the insurance industry, fast-food chains and sugar cane growers. State and federal issues often are related, as noted by the law firm Akerman Senterfitt, whose Florida-based members donated $7,000 to Obama. On its website, Akerman notes it combines Tallahassee connections with "an involved federal political action committee" to provide its clients "with an enviable level of access."

snip ...

On May 2, Obama is scheduled to attend a $2,300-per-ticket breakfast 10 blocks from the Capitol. The hosts include 22 lawyers. Although they are not federal lobbyists, three in the past have been registered lobbyists; they all work at firms that have Washington lobbying operations or hire outside lobbying firms to contact lawmakers. ... One lawyer co-hosting the Obama event has represented companies fending off litigation over toxic waste cleanup, and another represents employers on affirmative action requirements, force reduction and early retirement programs, their firms' websites say.
- An Asterisk To Obama's Policy On Donations, Dan Morain; Los Angeles Times; Apr 22, 2007; A.1

So, is it only a matter of semantics, or is it more of the same? "I don't take money from lobbyists," only from the lawyers that represent them and their corporate interests. Is this a distinction without a difference? If a candidate or Senator is willing to mingle with, to lend an ear, to accept large sums of money from those in DC and the 50 states who represent lobbyists, and large corporate and monied interests, then what do words really mean?

Maybe its all about truly ignoring lobbyist influence and not allowing money and lobbyists to influence legislative agendas. That would be a good thing. You decide:

Away from the bright lights and high-minded rhetoric of the campaign trail, Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has quietly worked with corporate lobbyists to help pass breaks worth $12 million.

In his speeches, Obama has lambasted lobbyists and moneyed interests who "have turned our government into a game only they can afford to play."

"It's an entire culture in Washington -- some of it legal, some of it not," the Democratic hopeful told a New York crowd in June, rallying support for his ethics reform agenda.

But last year, at the request of a hired representative for an Australian-owned chemical corporation Nufarm, Obama introduced nine separate bills exempting the company from import fees on a range of chemical ingredients it uses in the manufacture of pesticides and herbicides. Nufarm's U.S. subsidiary is based in Illinois.
- The Blotter: Despite Rhetoric, Obama Pushed Lobbyists' Interests; Justin Rood;; July 6, 2007

But, Obama responds that he was really only helping his constituents in Illinois. He was simply making those foreign products from NuFarm more available and cheaper for his constituents. Now, that sounds good, working hard on Capitol Hill for local constituents. But, then reality sets in:

In a statement to ABC News defending the measures, Obama's spokesman echoed Junker's argument.
"Just like he fought for funding to ensure Chicago's transit system remains affordable and to invest in ethanol research, Senator Obama helped keep costs low for Illinois residents by helping them get the goods they need to do their jobs," Ben LaBolt wrote.

But the company's financial reports indicate that may not be the case. In a glowing financial report issued just two months after Obama introduced Nufarm's numerous tariff-lifting bills, Nufarm told its shareholders it was making more money than ever before in North America because it had increased its prices on its U.S. and Canadian customers, predominantly farmers.

Nufarm saw "strong revenue growth" in North America, it said in a July 31, 2006, company report. "Net profit was also up strongly," driven in part by "price rises on key products," it said. Nufarm trades on the Australian Stock Exchange.
- The Blotter: Despite Rhetoric, Obama Pushed Lobbyists' Interests; Justin Rood;; July 6, 2007

And, what about lobbyists and monied influence and protecting the environment? That's a key issue in the current campaign, right. Against lobbyist influence, and pro-environmental reform? You decide:

However, the Illinois senator's stance on pending legislation and his adviser's ties to the mining industry are raising questions in a state where mining is an economic engine in rural areas. Democrats will vote in presidential caucuses Jan. 19, and Obama's position could help him against rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards, who have not taken a clear position on the bill.

snip ...

The General Mining Law of 1872 allows the mining industry to pull gold, silver and other minerals from federal lands without paying royalties. The industry opposes changes to the law and several efforts to reform it have failed.

A House-passed bill would impose a royalty of 4 percent of gross revenue on existing hard-rock mining operations and 8 percent of gross revenue on new mining operations. The reform bill also would put new environmental controls on hard-rock mining, set up a cleanup fund for abandoned mines and permanently ban cheap sales of public lands for mining.

Obama said the legislation, favored by environmentalists, "places a significant burden on the mining industry and could have a significant impact on jobs." He also opposes the proposed fees.

Obama's statements are largely in line with the those of Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, a miner's son who has long fended off significant reform and defended the industry as critical to the rural West. Nevada is the largest gold-producing state in the nation and ranks behind only South Africa, Australia and China internationally.

Vassiliadis, a longtime Nevada power broker, is a member of Obama's Nevada steering committee and has contributed $2,300 to his campaign. He is a lobbyist for the Nevada Mining Association at the state level and the chief executive of the advertising and lobbying firm hired by two mining companies to lobby for them in Washington.

Denver-based Newmont Mining Co., one of the world's largest gold producers, hired Las Vegas-based R&R Partners' Washington, D.C. office in January. The firm has represented silver and gold miner Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp., in Washington since 2006.
Obama-Mining Lobbyist Ties Scrutinized; WJLA-TV; November 14, 2007

Monied influence seeps from political campaigns. That includes Obama's and his opponent's. Actions and facts belie public speeches and the oft-stated position that lobbyists will not influence actions.

Friday, May 23, 2008

To Embargo or Not to Embargo, That is the Obama Question

In the past, Obama has repeatedly stated that he opposes or would end the U.S. Cuban embargo. His position, at least in the past, has been based on principle, to help the Cubans, and because it has not worked. He has described it as a failed policy of the past. I agree with that position. He has also said he would meet with the Cuban leader without precondition:

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said at tonight’s CNN debate in Austin that he would be willing to meet immediately with Cuba's new leader, Raul Castro. But Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said she would not.

In fact, Obama broadly extended his policy of being willing to meet with dictators without preconditions, while Clinton holds the more traditional position that a U.S. president should hold such negotiations only after extensive groundwork has been done.

“Not just in Cuba, but I think this principle applies generally,” Obama said. “I recall what John F. Kennedy once said: We should never negotiate out of fear, but we should never fear to negotiate.

In January 2004, he stated:

In 2003, when running for Senate in Illinois, Obama stated:
in 2003, while running for a Senate seat, Obama filled out a questionnaire saying he favored normalized relations with Cuba without any qualifiers.

His position was clear, honest, and fresh.

Now, when speaking before Cuban-Americans this week, Obama flipped his position. CBS reports:

Sen. Barack Obama, who once said he would meet Cuban leader Raul Castro without preconditions, added Friday he would do so "only when we have an opportunity to advance the interests of the United States and to advance the cause of freedom for the Cuban people."

Any meeting would occur "at a time and place of my choosing," the likely Democratic presidential nominee told an audience of Cuban-Americans that applauded his remarks.

He said he would maintain the existing trade embargo to use as leverage for winning Democratic change in the Communist island-nation.

TPM also raised the issue recently:

I asked a serious person, Susan Rice, what she thought of our US-Cuba policy on a recent Obama campaign conference call. I respect Rice who is on leave from Brookings now while advising the Obama campaign. However, her response on the embargo seemed the same kind of triangulation on the issue that a calculating political cynic might offer -- not a campaign ready to crash through cynicism and more optimistically rewire and redraw the lines of how we think about U.S. foreign policy challenges.

I asked Rice if Obama -- who has been the most progressive among the three standing presidential candidates on US-Cuba policy -- would at least go back to the 'status quo' during the Bush administration in 2003. Before Bush tightened up the noose on Cuban-American family travel, remittances, and other exchanges, there was quite a bit of "non-tourist" travel to Cuba -- usually for educational and cultural reasons.

Rice's response was "no." She said that those kinds of openings for non-tourist travel would depend on Cuba having "fair and free elections", releasing political prisoners, adherence to human rights conventions, and the like.

This is out of the playbook of Republican Congresspersons Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the Diaz-Balart brothers of South Florida.

Now, what could be the reason for Obama's change in opinion, policy or principle? What is going through his mind that he would abandon a principled position so utterly and completely? From my perspective its political pandering pure and simple; the basest form of politics. After abandoning FL and its voters for months now, after repeatedly telling Floridians their votes don't count in the Democratic primary, Obama now must face his music and the facts: the fact that he needs FL in the fall if he is nominated; the fact that the voters in Florida do count and they do vote; the fact that now that he thinks he is getting close to nomination and a general election, he knows he must carry FL. And, he knows he needs the large Cuban-American population to do so. So, he abandons principle, and panders voters. The same pandering and the same old political nuance he claims to disdain.

Debunking the Disenfranchised Voter

Excellent trashing of Clinton's disenfranchised voter B.S.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Clinton Further Revealed

I know what solidarity will say, but I don't care. The paragraphs below are from an AP story today. Further proof that Hillary Clinton is prepared to destroy the party's chances to beat McCain this year so she can run again in 2012.

Hillary Clinton agreed to rules that disenfranchised Florida and Michigan voters. Now, because she ran a pitiful campaign and lost, she poses as a champion of Florida and Michigan voters. Now, it's imperative for democracy that their votes be counted, even though Obama wasn't on the ballot in Michigan, and no one campaigned in Florida, even though it's changing the rules in the middle of the game. But then, what can we expect from a Clinton? They are absolutely devoid of any sense of fair play. Their only ethic is ruthlessness and lying. They are absolutely disgusting.

Excerpt from AP story

In an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press, Clinton said she is willing to take her fight to seat Florida's and Michigan's delegates to the convention if the two states want to go that far.

Asked whether she would support the states if they appeal an unfavorable rules committee decision to the convention floor, the former first lady replied:

"Yes I will. I will, because I feel very strongly about this."

"I will consult with Floridians and the voters in Michigan because it's really their voices that are being ignored and their votes that are being discounted, and I'll support whatever the elected officials and the voters in those two states want to do."

Taking her battle to the convention would fly in the face of an increasing number of party leaders who say the contest needs to be wrapped up shortly after the last primary on June 3 to prepare adequately for the fall election.

Asked if she now envisioned the race extending beyond June 3, Clinton replied: "It could, I hope it doesn't. I hope it's resolved to everyone's satisfaction by that date, because that's what people are expecting, but we'll have to see what happens."

But trailing Obama by almost 200 delegates, even seating both Florida and Michigan delegations in the way most favorable to Clinton would still leave her behind the Illinois senator.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Politics of Sexism and Media Bias this Primary Season

The media has played an extremely important and misplaced role in helping select the Democratic Party nominee. In doing so, the media displayed its true sexist nature and the sexist nature of American politics. A cursory review of what has happened over these past few months reveals the extent of the problem during these primaries:

UPDATE May 21, 2008 11:45 am
Last night as Clinton blew out Obama in Kenbtucky: CNN Analyst says it's accurate to call Hillary a bitch.


1. Obama-Backing Congressman Compares Hillary Clinton to Glenn Close in 'Fatal Attraction'

Chris Rock said it last month: "It's going to be hard for Barack to be president. ... Hillary's not going to give up. She's like Glenn Close in 'Fatal Attraction.'"

Then NPR political editor Ken Rudin made the joke, saying on "CNN Sunday Morning" that Clinton was "Glenn Close in 'Fatal Attraction' -- she's going to keep coming back, and they're not going to stop her." (Rudin later apologized.)

This week, Obama-backing Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said on local television, when asked about Sen. Clinton, that "Glenn Close should have just stayed in the tub."
2. From our friends at the BBC:
The candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton refuses to die. She has been compared to the Duracell battery bunny that keeps on shuffling when others, powered by lesser fuel cells, have ground to a halt. Less kindly she has been likened to Glenn Close in the film "Fatal Attraction", who is supposed to have been drowned in the bathtub but then comes back in one last terrifying moment, wielding a carving knife.
3. Clinton Campaign Brought Sexism Out of Hiding - and there is more so read the commentary.

I will not miss seeing advertisements for T-shirts that bear the slogan "Bros before Hos." The shirts depict Barack Obama (the Bro) and Hillary Clinton (the Ho) and they are widely sold on the Internet.

I will not miss walking past airport concessions selling the Hillary Nutcracker, a device in which a pantsuit-clad Clinton doll opens her legs to reveal stainless steel thighs that, well, bust nuts. I won't miss television and newspaper stories that make light of the novelty item.

I won't miss episodes like the one in which the liberal radio personality Randi Rhodes called Clinton a "big f---in' whore" and said the same about former vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro. Rhodes was appearing at an event sponsored by a San Francisco radio station, before an audience of appreciative Obama supporters -- one of whom had promoted the evening on the presumptive Democratic nominee's official campaign Web site.
4. From the Columbia Journalism Review: Camp Clinton as Cast by MSNBC

As cast by MSNBC commentators on the night of Hillary's huge 2-1 shellacking of Obama in West Virginia:

If you got your West Virginia primary coverage from MSNBC, then you know:

1) Hillary Clinton is thisclose to becoming “the Al Sharpton of white people,” per Chris Matthews, what with all of her talk about “white people” and her “so loosely say[ing] ‘hardworking white workers’” (a step up, for sure, from another recent Hillary Clinton comparison: Rep. Steve Cohen, D-TN, likening Clinton to Glenn Close’s bunny-boiling Fatal Attraction character).

2) To Keith Olbermann’s eyes, the Clinton campaign’s fundraising efforts are thisclose to becoming:

OLBERMANN: I don’t want to use the term Ponzi scheme, but if we were not talking politics and the chance for a pay off for people who were investing or donating to the campaign were as little as it is for those people donating to Senator Clinton, we might use the word pyramid or Ponzi scheme. At what point does it become some sort of political scam to be insisting to people this can happen when the odds are the proverbial odds of passing the camel through the needle?

TIM RUSSERT: Terry [McAuliffe, Clinton’s campaign chairman] tried to frame it the last three days, with all his appearances on TV shows, anything is possible. As long as there’s a possibility, everything is done with the most noble intentions.

5. From Media Matters; Please read the entire article:

After vowing not to underestimate Clinton, Matthews asserted, "[T]he reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around"

6. The Matthews Video of January 9, 2008, after Clinton's NH victory:

7. Hecklers feel emboldened by the Media's sexism, or maybe it's the other way around:

8. Sexism alive and well in American business:

9. And from the left-wing:

An Example of Disgusting Sexism against Senator Clinton

Most of the time when he mentions Senator Clinton's name, he refers to her only as "Bill's lover" and "the woman who stood by him when he got a blow job from Monica Lewinsky." He has no respect for Hillary Clinton at all, even though since 1992 he has been singing the praises of the Clintons. Suddenly she is a "witch", and a "broad." He has demonized her completely, and it's so shocking to me.
10. Comparing Clinton to "everyone's first wife standing outside a probate court"

On the January 23 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, during a discussion of the January 21 Democratic presidential candidates debate with an all-male panel that included co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist, and guest co-host David Shuster, political and social commentator Mike Barnicle said of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY): "when she reacts the way she reacts to [Sen. Barack] Obama [D-IL] with just the look, the look toward him, looking like everyone's first wife standing outside a probate court, OK? Looking at him that way, all I could think of ... was this fall, if it's [Sen. John] McCain [R-AZ] that she's facing, McCain is likable. She's not." All three MSNBC co-hosts laughed at Barnicle's comparison of Clinton to "everyone's first wife standing outside a probate court," with Scarborough interrupting Barnicle by laughing loudly before saying, "I'm sorry. Go ahead."
11. Comparing Clinton to Tonya Harding

On the May 15 edition of MSNBC Live, while previewing an upcoming interview with former figure skater Tonya Harding, anchor Tamron Hall stated: "Well, remember when there were those reports out that Hillary Clinton would use the so-called 'Tonya Harding strategy' to perhaps take out Barack Obama? Well, we're going to talk to the real Tonya Harding about her place in history and now her infamy within American politics. Yes, really, Mika." MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski responded: "Oh, my God." Hall said: "That's ahead on MSNBC. No, really. Really, we are." Brzezinski added: "I can't believe that. It's great."

12. Kondracke echoed Maureen Dowd "theory" that "Hillary's a vampire ... sucking the blood out of Barack Obama"

During the "All Star" panel on the May 5 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, Roll Call executive editor Morton M. Kondracke presented a "theory" for why Sen. Hillary Clinton may be having a "good time" on the campaign trail: "[S]omebody I know has a theory about this. Remember back when [Bill] Clinton was president of the United States, people said that he's really Satan because he walks through life and people collapse around him and go to jail and die, and all this kind of stuff? Well, this person says Hillary's a vampire. She's sucking the blood out of Barack Obama, and you can watch him wilt and she gets healthier and healthier every day."

13. So Now the Press Tells Candidates When to Quit?

Until this election cycle, journalists simply did not consider it to be their job to tell a contender when he or she should stop campaigning. That was always dictated by how much money the campaign still had in the bank, how many votes the candidate was still getting, and what very senior members of the candidate's own party were advising. ...

And the fact is, the media's get-out-now push is unparalleled. Strong second-place candidates such as Ronald Reagan (1976), Ted Kennedy, Gary Hart, Jesse Jackson, and Jerry Brown, all of whom campaigned through the entire primary season, and most of whom took their fights all the way to their party's nominating conventions, were never tagged by the press and told to go home.
"Clinton is being held to a different standard than virtually any other candidate in history," wrote Steven Stark in the Boston Phoenix. "When Clinton is simply doing what everyone else has always done, she's constantly attacked as an obsessed and crazed egomaniac, bent on self-aggrandizement at the expense of her party."

14. Pat Buchanan said of Sen. Hillary Clinton's speech following the Pennsylvania primary that "only once or twice did that voice start rising to the level that every husband in America at one time or another has heard. You know, where it starts going up -- "

15. More from MSNBC: The Cackling Hillary Pen:

16. The media, Hillary is a b****:

17. More from In recent days, members of the media asserted that Sen. Hillary Clinton displayed "mood swings," "could be depressed," "[r]esembl[ed] someone with multiple personality disorder," and "has turned into Sybil."

18. More of the b-word:

So, what is really happening in the media?

The fact is, it's ok to call Hillary Clinton a bitch, because in our present society, it's ok to call a woman a bitch. Its no different in politics, and the media plays this up for as long as it can get away with it. The media has fed this for some time now, and made it almost impossible for Hillary. If she's aggressive she's a "bitch." If she's softer, she's "soppy." If she refuses to quit, even though her opponent does not have enough delegates to win yet, she's crazy and suffering a "Fatal Attraction."

The media bias in this campaign is clear and irrefutable. Some will try, but the fact is that the media has continually denigrated Hillary Clinton because she is a woman running for president.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Alleged Media Bias Against Clinton

I know solidarity has questioned my right to comment at all, since I'm not a Democrat, but I'm gonna anyway. I hope that you, pdrez or anyone else harboring the misguided notion that the media is biased against Hillary has, at long last, disabused yourself of that falsehood. Have you observed the coverage of the Wright distraction? Have you observed the campaign analyses since PA? The bias allegation always was B.S. I hope you can acknowledge that now. All the whining about how the media said only Clinton couldn't win enough delegates was completely bogus. Every story I read or watched said neither could win sufficient delegates. It wasn't the media that was suggesting it might be time for Clinton to fold her tent. It was party folks. Get off the media's back and tell your candidate to take responsiblity for her own actions, as hard as that might be for a Clinton.

Peace through sniper fire in Bosnia and opposition to NAFTA.

Clinton and O'Reilly Best Buds

So, Hillary goes on O'Reilly's show to keep the Rev. Wright distraction alive. Talk about a despicable act by a low-life politician. Following this campaign, by what right will Hillary Clinton call herself a Democrat? Her gasoline tax suspension idea? Pitiful. Will increase demand without while reducing supply, raise prices, pump more profits into the oil companies' pockets, and undermine the fight against climate change. Great consumer and energy policy. What bold, enlightened leadership. Just the kind we need in the White House.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The "Rules"

Many of us out here talk about the Democratic Party Delegate Selection "Rules." But, how many of us who talk about them have actually read them, especially those who condemn Hillary Clinton for making her stand in state after state. You can find them here: DNC Delegate Selection Rules

Despite many loud claims to the contrary in the media and from Clinton opponents:

1. There is no Rule "agreed to" by the candidates, but there is a Rule imposed by the party which prohibits a candidate from campaigning in a state that violates the early primary rule: Rule 20.C.1.b. Candidates did sign a pledge not to campaign in FLA and MI, including television ads.

2. There is also evidence that Obama may have violated that pledge or Rule: Obama's national television ad plays in Florida.

3. The DNC Rules do not call for or mandate a complete loss of delegates for holding an early primary; they call for a 50% reduction in delegates and alternates: Rule 20.C.1.a and 20.C.4. (Yes, I realize the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee may choose to impose greater sanctions: Rule 20.C.5.)

4. Even if a state changes the democratic primary date to an impermissible early date, according to the "Rules" that state should not suffer any penalty at all if it is shown that the change was a result of a "state law" and that the Democratic leaders took all positive steps and acted in good faith to oppose that change in state law moving the primary date: Rule 20.C.7.

Of course we all know that the Florida State Legislature is 2-1 Republican and that it has a Republican Governor (Jeb Bush). Let me know how the Dems were supposed to stop the maneuver by the Republican majority to move the date to an impermissible date.

5. You will also find among the party "Rules" many are fond of talking about that any ruling or decision by the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (the committee which chose to impose the death penalty on Michigan and Florida voters) may be appealed to the National Convention in Denver. In other words it is provided for in the "Rules" to challenge any ruling by the committee, including its decision to disenfranchise the FLA and MI voters. It is the Convention that is the final rule maker. Rule 23.D.

6. You will see nothing in the "Rules" which calls for ignoring the popular vote as an indicator of a candidates support.

7. You should also know that Obama voluntarily removed his name from the Michigan ballot; and, he did so in a blatant (albeit successful) attempt to pander to the voters in Iowa (and notice the dates on these articles):
Michigan, Iowa and the Games the Politicos Play
Off the ballot in Michigan

There simply is no DNC rule that a candidate must remove their name from the ballot in a state with an impermissible early primary or caucus. So of those so inclined, yell all you want that Obama wasn't on the ballot so we can't count the votes in Michigan. The "rules" do not support your, pardon me, Obama's, position. In an act of political pandering Obama chose to remove his name from the Michigan ballot. It is fair to say then that he must live with his decisions, good or bad in the end, after all he is running for the presidency. Because he voluntarily chose to remove his name from the ballot due to political pandering that fact certainly should not be used to support an argument that Michigan voters should be disenfranchised. Obama did it to himself.

8. People can accuse Clinton all thay want about the rules, but I believe it is the height of hypocrisy for anyone to run a self-styled campaign of "inclusion" and then turn around and say "don't count the votes."

Hillary Clinton will follow the Rules as they were written and adopted. And, just like Obama, she will use the ones that help her case. She won't ignore the Rules or break them; she will use them, just like Obama. Now that the Rules are known, Obama's arguments seem to be less genuine and much more political.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Obama Goes Negative and Lies

After months of preaching against negative campaigning, Senator Obama has decided to go negative, running an attack ad misrepresenting Senator Clinton's health care plan. The negative spot is currently airing throughout Pennsylvania. From the Clinton Campaign:

1. The Obama ad claims that Hillary’s “plan forces everyone to buy insurance even if you can’t afford it.” Health policy expert Ken Thorpe reviewed this claim and found it to be false. Under Hillary's plan, everyone will be able to afford coverage.

"Ken Thorpe, a health-policy expert at Emory University who has advised all three major Democrats, said he ran cost estimates for the Clinton plan at the Clinton campaign's request, and found there should be enough money to make insurance affordable for all." [Wall Street Journal, 12/5/07]

2. The advertisement also claims that that Hillary's plan would make people who fail to enroll "pay a penalty." Sen. Obama's own plan would fine parents who fail to enroll their children and he has said he will consider imposing penalties on people who don't enroll.

Hillary would consider a range of ideas, including automatic enrollment, to ensure everyone is covered. Sen. Obama's plan, would, experts agree, leave 15 million people out.

3. The ad also claims that Sen. Obama's plan reduces costs more than Hillary's plan. There is no citation for this claim because it is false. Hillary's plan has more aggressive cost cutting measures and has more generous subsides. Because Sen. Obama's plan leaves 15 million people out, it would drive costs up, because everyone would have to subsidize emergency care for the uninsured.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Philly Debate: Disturbing on Several Fronts

The Philly debate ranked as a low point in the Democratic campaign. The moderators were absolutely disgusting. Georgie Boy should have been required to disclose, prior to the questioning, that he served as communications director for Bill Clinton. Then, to spend the first 45 minutes on BS that already had been hashed and reheashed ad nauseum -- an extreme disservice to voters and the public. The questions? Do you think Rev. Wright loves American as much as you do? How come you don't wear a flag pin on your lapel? Are you kidding me? How come Clinton, Georgie Boy and Gibbons Monkey weren't wearing flag lapel pins? What possible difference does it make in the qualifications to be President whether Obama's pastor is as "patriotic" as Obama?

Obama's responses to the gotcha questions disappointed. He allowed himself to get dragged down into the mud again. He should have refused to answer the BS by dimissing the inquisitors as distraction mongers and than talking about health care, the economy and other issues that matter in folks' lives. He didn't. And while he handled it largely with grace, he would have been better served to marginalize the idiots who asked the questions and focus on real issues.

Both candidates showed a disturbing expertise in distortion-by-wordplay. Clinton said of her Bosnia tale that she said things she knew were not consistent with reality. In other words, she lied. Both candidates' answers on the gun control issue were examples of politicians contorting words beyond any meaning. Both candidates unwisely pandered in their "pledges" not to raise taxes on the middle class, though Obama seemed to leave himself some weasel room on Social Security.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment was on foreign policy. Disappointed might be the wrong word, since both candidates have made their positions pretty clear. But the debate drove home this point: Either Clinton or Obama may get us out of Iraq. But neither will end the underlying policies that place our country under the constant threat of war, war and more war.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Although "Clumsy," Obama's Remarks Are a Critical Democratic Issue

Obama's word choice was clumsy, as he stated himself, there is no doubt about that. And while I do not believe that an apology is required, his remarks indicate political pandering to an audience very much unlike the subjects of his words. Pandering is politics, you can't please everyone all the time, and often words are used to get votes, this is Washington politics and Obama is not above it and employs it on a regular basis.

But the conversation about his remarks needs to be steered away from the controversy, and towards Obama's underlying intentions with the statement. He clumsily brought up a critical voting bloc issue that has plagued the Democrats for the past few election cycles: the so-called "values voters" voting Republican. These are the working-class, predominantly white voters that have given their allegiance to the Republican party of late. As Dan Schur astutely points out in a New York Times op-ed , these blue-collar Americans routinely "cast their ballots on social and values-based issues like gun ownership, abortion and same-sex marriage rather than on economic policy prescriptions." Democratic presidential candidates have been vexed as to why this is, and I think Obama was addressing this phenomenon because it is something that needs to be tackled if the Dems are to win the White House. They have to convert these former Reagan Democrats. It is a must for them to convince these voters to not vote solely on gun rights, immigration, and religion, and to win them back Obama and Clinton must appeal to their economic needs.

As the aforementioned NY Times Op-ed suggests, the manner in which Obama discussed the matter was ill-conceived, however. The words "cling" and "bitter" connote an air of elitist thought over these voters. Whereas the environmentally sensitive, pro-choice, pro-stem cell, pro-tax upper class San Franciscan Democrat is lauded for his open-mindedness and financial selflessness, a rural Pennsylvanian who "clings" to guns and xenophobic grudges, his vote must be justified for some reason, to be written off as simply "bitterness" over economic hardships. As Schur points out, it is a double standard to "diminish these cultural beliefs as a byproduct of economic discomfort." Their vote is as thought out as their San Franciscan counterpart, and to insinuate that their vote requires some justification is ill-advised if you are seeking to win their vote.

To finish, I don't believe Obama was intentionally being insensitive, but I do understand those that were upset with the comments. He was addressing an important Democratic issue for the fall, one that both candidates must win in order to reclaim the White House.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Obama's "Bitter" Remarks

So by now you've probably all seen the quote that Obama made in reference to small town people at a fund-raiser in San Francisco:

"It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who are not like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations," the senator had said.

The fact that these comments were made in San Francisco frustrate me as much as the comments themselves. It just goes to show that he is willing to pander to an audience.

Can we at least get an apology Senator Obama?

"If I worded things in a way that made people offended, I deeply regret that," Obama was quoted as saying in an interview with the Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Journal.

It's not so much the way he "worded things" as the entire content of his quote. For a campaign that preaches unity, I would expect at least a simple apology for such divisive remarks.


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr.: American Icon

May we honor one of the greatest Americans in our nation's history, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by remembering his profound "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington in 1963. Aside from perhaps the Gettysburg Address, I don't know of a more inspiring speech in American history. Enough to give any American goosebumps...

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Iraq Stategy

What we learned today from the New York Sun:
A key adviser to Senator Obama’s campaign is recommending in a confidential paper that America keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as of late 2010, a plan at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office.

According to the Sun, Colin Kahl, the author of the confidential paper, is the day-to-day coordinator of the Obama campaign's working group on Iraq.

Keeping between 60,000 and 80,000 American troops means that we will be keeping half of our current troop levels in Iraq under Kahl's plan.

To be fair, Mr. Kahl stated that the paper did not express the campaign's position. But, what is the Obama campaign's actual position on Iraq. If his main adviser on Iraq advocates keeping up to 80,000 American troops in Iraq until the end 2010, then what will Obama do if he is elected? Throw out his adviser, change stated policies, or more likely, keep his current policy which does seem to allow for what Kahl advocates. The Sun article also reminds us that during the Iowa campaign. Obama stated that he was not opposed to having American troops remain in Iraq to train Iraqi military forces, and that he would remove combat troops but would keep a residual force of American troops in Iraq.

His campaign web site under "Bringing our Troops Home" indicates that he does intend on keeping what might be called residual troops in Iraq.
Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.

But, it doesn't say how many or for how long. Does Kahl's confidential paper reveal some unstated specifics of the Obama strategy for Iraq? If it does, is it a good plan? If residual American troops remain in Iraq, what will happen if the insurgency attempts to draw them into the Iraqi civil war? How will we keep them from remaining targets for insurgent attacks?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Dean Offers Hope To Enfranchise Floridians

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has not figure out a resolution to the electoral debacle that once again is Florida. But he has offered hope.

"It is our intention to do everything we can and we believe we will absolutely seat the delegation from Florida at the convention," Dean said. But, he added, it's "critical'' that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are ‘‘comfortable with the compromises that have to be worked out."

So, basically the situation has not changed, but there is at least movement on the ground to seat the Florida people's voices at the convention in some fashion, and this is a positive step in the nomination process. It would be an egregious injustice if these delegates are not seated. Dean has pointed out that is now up to the candidates to compromise on a resolution to this debacle, and it is going to be interesting to see how both approach the situation as we get closer to June, if the race is still as close or even closer than it is now. From Dean's comments, it seems that Florida will be seated, but the effect that this will have is still unclear, and the manner in which the delegation is seated rests in the candidates' hands.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Is The Tide Turning In The Media?

Lou Dobbs, with whom I rarely agree, seems to have gotten it right. In strongly worded comments he recognizes and acknowledges the inherent unfairness in the national mass media treatment of Clinton when it comes to the delegate count and each respective candidate's ability to win the nomination.

He recognizes the media's overt fondness for saying that Hillary cannot win, while ignoring that Obama also cannot win enough delegates. He points out the media's "compulsion, this insistence" that Clinton cannot win when "neither can Senator Obama."

The media has allowed the Obama campaign to frame the issue, to write the script, and to prematurely write-off Clinton. But, maybe, just maybe, the media is finally realizing that it has been taken for a ride, and that it has been ridden by Obama like a wet horse. That the media has become Obama's mouthpiece on this issue of carrying the nomination. Well, maybe it's about to end and people will realize that the numbers are the numbers, and the rules are the rules.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Hillary is a liar? The little Bosnian girl is the liar!

I think this video clears Hillary's name. How can you argue with video?

Who Has The Numbers

I have hesitated to write another post about the Democratic Primary, but too much hot air is being blown by too many party big wigs and mass media lately about how Hillary Clinton should drop out of the race. These party big wigs cite two reasons for their somewhat self-serving declarations: one, that the primary battle is bad for the party's chances in November, and two, that the delegate numbers are against Hillary.

The delegate numbers may be against Hillary, but, those same numbers are also against Obama. The simple fact is that neither Obama nor Clinton currently has enough delegate votes to win the nomination and neither will have enough next week, or next month, or in June. Neither Clinton nor Obama has been able to convince enough voters or caucus goers to take a majority of delegates, and neither will have enough pledged delegates to win the nomination by the time this primary season is over in early June.

Just as important, from all accounts, this extended race is bringing in many,many new voters to the Democratic Party in PA, which bodes extremely well for our party and our country come November.  

Yes, Obama currently leads in pledged delegates (but it is well-know that he will not carry enough to Denver to win), and he leads in the so-called popular vote. But, by how much. According to RealClearPolitics, his current lead is less than 3% if you do not count FL or MI. If you count FL then his lead dwindles to 1.4%. (Yes, I will count FL for two simple reasons, it is the right thing to do and the DNC's ruling only strips delegates not the popular vote. Floridians count as much as any other people in the popular vote, and more so in November as a swing state).   

It also looks more and more likely that Clinton will close, and perhaps overtake some of the present pledged delegate and popular vote gap with expected primary victories in PA, KY, WV and PR, and maybe IN.

And, Clinton leads in electoral votes, which are what counts in the general election.
Both Obama and Clinton will need a lot of so-called superdelegate votes to win the nomination, and both are campaigning for them.  It is totally legitimate for both to do so.  Those are also the rules.   

So, let's just all relax. Let's not be afraid of the process and the voters. Let's welcome all those new voters and new Dems. Let's not be afraid. Let's continue.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Al Gore's slim chance for candidancy

Al Gore for President?

I'm not going into detail about this because I don't have time right now, but Clinton is being pressured to drop out by some delegates including Pennsylvania's senator who's primary is coming up soon. There are disillusioned people that believe Al Gore may have a chance to steal delegates if he decides to make a late run and she drops out. This would stir up more trouble to a democratic fight that is getting more fierce by the day. The party is being torn apart while McCain is gaining strength with the Republicans. It's very doubtful, but more entertaining then anything.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Evenly Split

There are even more poll numbers showing that the Dems are evenly split, and I mean right down the middle. Rasmussen reports that among Democrats, 22% want Clinton to drop out of the race, and 22% want Obama to drop out. Also, in an indication that at least Democrats want this to go on, 67% say they are not ready for the race to end.

So, where does that leave us?

It's simply too easy to say that either candidate should drop out. In my opinion, the media and the pundits have all too often called a race over when fewer than 1% of the party members have voted, right after the IA and NH caucus and primary, maybe waiting until after SC. But, the people, at least Democrats, are speaking now, let us vote too, and it's about time the media settled down and let the voters vote.

In this day and age with a dozen cable news channels frantic to find something to say 24 hours a day, 7 days a week it has become almost impossible for any candidate to speak candidly. Their words are taken out of context, their mistatements become lies, their gaffes become headline news for several days, and their policy statements garner little more than a short article in the paper, or a few seconds on the nightly news. And, both Democratic candidates fuel this problem with the media. They pander to the press, slipping photos to reporters, irrationally emailing so-called news about the other candidate to the media, eagerly and constantly exaggerating the perceived errors of the other candidate.

It's no wonder other polls temporily show people claiming to want to jump from the party. In the end, McCain should lose much of that thin, very thin, current support.

That's not to say that during the heat of a campaign a candidate should not point out the other's mistakes, engage in argument, call -out her/his opponent on issues that matter, and even on their character. Those are all legitimate issues for the candidates and the voters. And, the Rasmussen poll numbers showing that 67% of us want this race to continue indicates that Democratic voters agree. But the level of drama over disagreements about things like Democratic party rules, whether elevated by a willing 24 hour a day media out for ratings, by unwitting (or witting) candidate accomplices, or by lowly supporters, should be tamped down before the alienation becomes permanent.

Democratic Infighting Could Spell November Disaster

Do Democrats really want John McCain as their future President? Do they want, as Barack Obama has dramatically put it, "four more years of George W. Bush?" The latest polling seems to suggest that the intense Obama-Clinton race, with the media coverage feverishly playing up only the negative aspects, has become a bloodbath between both the candidates, and, more importantly their supporters. It has produced a kind of bitterness that surely only aids McCain's pursuit of the White House. The latest Gallup Poll shows some startling figures:

28% of Clinton supporters would vote for McCain over Obama, while 19% of Obama supporters would vote for McCain over Clinton.

What is going on here??

If you are a hard-nosed, yellow-dog Democrat it borders on lunacy to abandon your party and either vote for John McCain, or ignore the voting booth altogether. What good does that do? Again, as I have stated before, Obama and Clinton are glaringly similar on policy, and I would think that (call me naive) most fair-minded Democrats would rather see a Clinton or Obama White House than a McCain one. At any cost. Myself being more of a moderate, independent voter, a McCain presidency is not the end of the world for me, but to see these rank and file Democrats polling like this is surprising to say the least. These are significant percentages, and could hand McCain victory.

I do want to stress that these are just polls in March, in the heat of the battle, and that of course things will be different come September. But these numbers should not be cast aside entirely, for they serve to highlight the growing divisiveness of this contest as it drags on. Hatred is brewing between the two camps, and although I believe that much will be reconciled by November (quite possibly by a shared ticket to appease both camps), if even a small percentage of Democrats stay home or pull the lever for McCain, in the tight contest I believe the general election will be, those votes will matter and could decide the outcome.

Clinton has vowed to stay in the race through the end of primary season, which means another two and a half months at least. And while I believe it is well within her rights to see how some key midwestern primaries shape out and to see the end result of the Michigan-Florida debacle, her commitment to the cause means the bitterness will only grow stronger and could push right up to the convention in August. This will leave the Democratic Party with precious little time to launch a general election campaign to thwart the Republican machine. Let's hope both candidates run a civil and noble campaign focused on the issues from here on out, and that embittered Democratic voters do not trade in their values for pride in November.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

McCain Does It Again: The Mortgage Crisis

Yesterday, McCain himself once again proved why he should not be president. The NY Times and other media reported that he sees no reason for the government to get involved in the mortgage crisis simply because
"Some Americans bought homes they couldn’t afford, betting that rising prices would make it easier to refinance later at more affordable rates ...”
He apparently doesn't understand the current crisis. He said,
“Government assistance to the banking system should be based solely on preventing systemic risk that would endanger the entire financial system and the economy,”
What is wrong with this man? How did he ever get nominated? Maybe, just like good ole GWB, he just doesn't read newspapers or watch news. The Dems must have been real lucky because the GOPhers nominated this clueless individual. Otherwise, we Dems would be in real trouble this fall. This man epitomizes the reasons why America is almost ready to finally rid itself of the republican party. That party lost track of America, forgot the needs of the people, mistook aggression for compassion, took us to where we are now, and now, refuses to accept responsibility.

If I remember correctly the Bear Stearns debacle occurred because of its subprime lending practices. And, please, someone tell McCain that Bear Stearns' fall could be the precursor to a world-wide economic crisis. It's time call out McCain for what he is, to question him, to investigate him, what he says, and what he says he believes. If he truly believes that the US should reserve "bail-outs" for systemic risks, and he doesn't believe that we should be offering assistance now, then what does he think just happened, and is continuing to happen.

Tens of thousands of Americans are losing their homes and their future to foreclosure. The FDIC is bracing for about 150 US bank failures in the coming 3 years. Home prices are in steep decline. already reaching record drops all across our nation.

So, why won't the national media call him out on his ridiculous economic views? If he doesn't think we are at systemic risk right now, then where are we? Is he having visions? Does he think he can dream us out of this economic mess? This man should not be president. We cannot afford it.

Monday, March 24, 2008

John McCain: Republican Enigma

John McCain is a principled man, and he relies on his principles to guide his policy decisions. It is an unfortunate reality of any presidential election season that the candidates move to the poles of each of their respective parties in order to build a solid base to carry the nomination. So, of course, McCain has begun to sell himself as a conservative Republican, when most of the electorate knows he is not a Bush Republican. He is an independent thinker on many issues, and hardly embodies the conservative movement. This is why he has consistently been vilified by the right wing of the party, from Falwell to Limbaugh. McCain is a moderate politician, which is why he scores so well with independent voters. I believe it will be difficult to position himself as "your conservative Republican candidate," and two instances, brought to attention in today's NY Times, offer insight into the psychology of the Arizona Senator, and underscore how one is hard-pressed to really put a political label on him.

Disenchanted with the Republican party after his failed attempt to be its nominee in 2000, McCain deliberated leaving the party and becoming an independent. He had talks with leading Democrats on the matter, and whichever camp you want to believe, that either McCain and his team approached the Dems, or vice-versa, it is a telling sign that McCain was even pondering leaving his party. A proud "conservative Republican" would not seriously discuss this with the rival party. Not three years later McCain had talks with John Kerry about a potential shared ticket for the 2004 Presidential Election. While such a ticket seems ludicrous, what with Kerry's antiwar posture and McCain's hawkish foreign policy, the fact that McCain flirted with the idea means he is not in the right wing of his party. He is a centrist Republican, and in all honesty, I think positioning himself in such a way now that he has wrapped up the nomination will better serve him. With Bush's abysmal polling and the 2006 Democratic Congressional victories, it is apparent America is jaded by the Republican party, especially it's right wing. Selling himself as a moderate Republican will give him a better chance in November I believe, because that's what he is.

He favors deficit reduction to Bush's constant tax cuts (although in this political season he has flip-flopped on the matter, a bad move in my estimation). He originally opposed Bush's tax cuts because of how disproportionately it favored the wealthy, and I think this gives insight to where he stands on tax issues. He has long been a champion of campaign finance reform, he has been at odds with Bush on environmental issues, taking a more regulation-based stance. He has been outspoken about alternative fuels and our need to reduce foreign oil dependence, and has taken a stronger stance on global warming. He voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, he supports stem cell research and has sided with prominent Democrats on immigration policy. A victim of torture himself, he has consistently butted heads with Republicans on America's interrogation tactics, and has been vehement about the US upholding international standards and immediately ceasing any torture being implemented.

While McCain is definitely a Republican, he is hardly the conservative Republican he is now claiming he is, and would be better served by positioning himself as the moderate Republican he is, and not falling victim to partisan hackery that plagues this nation. We need more independent thinkers in Washington, and McCain is a good example of a politician that is not afraid to alienate his party to stand up for his principles.

Governor Richardson on Super Delegates

Richardson endorsed Obama last week as a superdelegate. But listen to what he said just last month to the New York Times about how those delegates should cast their ballot:
It should reflect the vote of my state; it should represent the vote of my constituency ... it shouldn't be because you're a fund-raiser or a big-shot. Super delegates should reflect their state or constituency.

- Bill Richardson
February 17, 2008
New York Times

Now , the very next month the man has flip-flopped. The governor now apparently fancies himself a party big-shot, who as a super delegate can turn his back on his constituency, the people of New Mexico, and anoint the next nominee; who can go back on his word because he wants to. Because, while it was a by a very thin margin, Clinton won New Mexico. Words, they can mean so much, and they can also come back to haunt you.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Why Deny This Man Resident Status In U.S

After having given four years of military service to our country during the U.S. Iraq occupation, Samam Kareem Ahmad sought to become a permanent resident of the United States. Despite “put[ting] his life on the line with, for, Coalition Forces on a daily basis,” the Bush administration said , “No.”

The Department of Homeland Security apparently chose to ignore his patriotic and selfless service in war, and chose instead to consider only his past membership in the Kurdish Democratic Party, a group DHS has now labels an “undesignated terrorist organization,” whatever that means. And, why you wonder would that group warrant that label? Because it sought to overthrow Saddam Hussein!!

So, Samam once belonged to an organization that sought to overthrow Sadam Hussein. Then he joined the Coalition and American Forces that actually overthrew Sadam Hussein, and that's reason enough for the Bush Administrations to label him a terrorist. Is that a bad joke or what.

Sometimes it's almost impossible to understand where our government is at. Seems as though our Fatherland Security Department has lost all common sense, relying instead solely on inflexible rules - that our government repeatedly violates - that serve to hassle, discriminate against, and deny basic rights or humane treatment, to those of us who are born U.S. Citizens, and those who seek to become U.S. Citizens.

Something basic is wrong here. What has happened to our country?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Obama Campaign Leaks Bill Clinton-Reverend Wright Photo

I had mentioned in an earlier post the inevitability of Barack Obama succumbing to "the real world of Washington politics," and that he would eventually go negative. Well he has done just that. Late yesterday, the above photo of President Clinton and the now infamous Reverend Jeremiah Wright shaking hands was provided to the NY Times by the Obama campaign. The shot was taken at a 1998 annual prayer breakfast at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, where Bill Clinton addressed a group of high-profile clerics, outlining his affair with Lewinsky and confessing his sins.

Why, oh why, would Obama release this photograph at this time? Perhaps to divert attention away from the Wright mess he brought on himself? What is he saying here, that Hillary Clinton should be subject to the same ridicule over Mr. Wright that Obama has? Just because the Clintons invited him to this prayer breakfast? Come on. That is weak, and reflects so poorly on Barack. It shows vulnerability in the face of the first big challenge of his campaign. There can be no other explanation for releasing the photo than to play negative politics. No other reason. And what is funny is that it is not even good negative politics, how does this hurt Hillary? I don't see how. The American people are not going to fall for this ill-advised tactic, and I hope Obama gets some flak for it. Alluding to a prior post, is Obama abandoning his promise of "no negative attacks?" I think he is on a slippery slope, and if he falters then his campaign is running on an idea of nothing. No change, just same old, same old. Clinton spokesman Jay Carson put it best by saying:

"The Obama campaign put this photo out? How pathetic. Less than 48 hours after calling for a high-minded conversation on race, the Obama campaign is peddling photos of an occasion when President Clinton shook hands with Rev. Wright. To be clear, President Clinton took tens of thousands of photos during his 8 years as president."

I fully agree with the Clinton camp, and I believe America will as well. Weak, Obama... weak.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

McCain Takes Fallible Stance For Facing The Blues

McCain finally got back in the headlines by suspending a staffer today for posting a video about Obama and his pastor Wright. Apparently aired on YouTube, the video implied that Obama was somehow unpatriotic and included the now recognizable clips of the Reverend's sermons.

What is interesting here though, is not the scandal of the video, but the stance that McCain is taking. He is touting, publicly, that he will not engage in personal attacks with Democrats. Does he expect us to forget his campaign against Mitt Romney. Granted, Obama and Clinton are distracting enough but you cannot imagine the people who are truly passionate about politics to forget the heated debates where Huckabee pleaded to be heard with comments such as: "I didn't come here to umpire a ballgame between these two [McCain and Romney]... I came to take a swing at a few myself."

I do not think this is an attempt to gain media attention; he did the right thing to refute his staffer's opinions. I do think that he his choosing his words a little too carefully. We have seen him succumb to personal attacks before so why would that be different when he is facing opponents that aren't even a part of his own party? It seems like he might be trapping himself.

No one should ever intentionally say things meant only to hurt feelings or point out baseless flaws, but occasionally there are aspects of a person's life that should be highlighted in order to get a better view of the whole picture. By promising not to use personal comments in debate, he may be gaining some short term publicity and respect for his ethical decisions, but he will be limiting himself in the future at best, and at worst, he will be condemned as a hypocrite. This is a lofty strategy and one that could come back to haunt him.

Clinton Tops Polls; Still Faces Uphill Battle

In the latest Gallup Poll, Senator Clinton has taken a sizeable advantage over Senator Obama. Clinton took her first lead in the weekly poll since Super Tuesday, with Democratic voters now handing her a 49% to 42% edge over Obama. In another poll, Clinton has more than doubled her lead to 16 points in Pennsylvania, 51% to 35%.

Is this due to the Reverend Wright episode? While we may never be completely sure, it is a telling statistic that the week Obama faces his first wave of scrutiny of his past or the people he associates himself with, he slides dramatically in a national popular poll. At the same time, we should keep in mind that these polls were taken before Obama's response speech on Tuesday. Even so, Obama's surge to front-runner status has been viewed by observers like me with skepticism and bewilderment, and both the Wright fiasco and these polls perhaps indicate that some Americans are feeling tentative about nominating a politician with which they have precious little history. This is Obama's first negative press, and while I think he handled it sufficiently, I do believe it proves that he could be susceptible to harsh attacks in the general election, and his slipping in the polls may put question to his electability.

Things have looked brighter for Clinton of late, and although she has widened her leads in PA and US polls, she still has a mountain to climb. The New York Times notes that Clinton needs "three breaks" to take the nomination from front-runner Obama. She absolutely must defeat Obama soundly in Pennsylvania, we are talking by at least 15 points if not more. The above poll definitely boosts confidence for Clinton's campaign on this note. Second, and with much more difficulty, she needs to come to the Convention in Denver with a lead in the national popular vote. Let's face it, she is not going to make up the pledged delegate deficit, so count that out. But having a lead in the popular vote will make her case to be the nominee much more credible. Finally, The Times states that she must win over the hearts and minds of superdelegates.

For her efforts in trying to seat Michigan and Florida's delegates, the Obama campaign will go on portraying Clinton as a politician who will do "anything to win", which is the Obama camp playing Washington politics at its finest. I have been disheartened to see Obama ducking the issue with generic responses like "we will play by the rules" and will do "whatever the DNC proposes to seat these delegates," yet castigating Clinton for her attempts to enfranchise these voices. Obama is playing the way he needs to play to win, and so is Clinton. You cannot tell me that if the situation were reversed, that Obama would not be lobbying day in and day out for those votes to count. Let's be real people. Clinton needs these votes to cut into both his delegate lead, and more importantly, his popular vote lead. So what she is doing is perfectly normal. If FL and MI are not counted, she has what seems to be an insurmountable hill to climb.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

It’s Not Guilt By Association; It’s Guilt By Participation

Yes, we can all agree that Obama gave a very impassioned speech on race in America. In many, if not most, respects he is right. The American experience revolves around race, for all of us. For asking us to look at those issues, he should be thanked. It was a very good speech. Especially when taken out of the primary presidential campaign context. Obama would be much more believable on the issue if he had made this speech at the beginning of his campaign; if he had acknowledged that race was an issue in his campaign early on, instead of repeatedly denying that fact. In this speech made toward the end of the primary campaign, he finally admits that race is, and always has been, an issue for him and his community, much as it has been for most citizens of this great country.

But, did Obama actually address the real issue before him and those of us who must choose the nominee of our party, or the next president; the issue of the hateful, divisive, ugly words and ideas professed many, many, times by his pastor, his self-admitted spiritual advisor for these past twenty plus years, for virtually his entire adult life.

I do not believe he did.

The fact is that Obama made this speech, at this moment, out of political necessity, not out of any moral imperative. He saw his support falling dramatically over the past week, and he knew that he had to change course, to take on an issue that he had before publicly chosen to ignore. And, while that certainly does not mean he was insincere in most of what he said; it does mean that he saw a political reality, so he changed his mind. I am convinced that he would not have made a similar speech if he had not been confronted by public disclosure of the hateful divisive language uttered by his pastor, at least not during the campaign.

He did artfully and impressively manage to change the issue from that of anti-American hateful religious rhetoric to one solely about race. I will not repeat what Wright told his congregation on all those Sundays. I realize that race is a factor in what Wright preached, but it certainly is not the only or greatest factor. Politics played just as important of a role in those sermons. Just replay the one about Hillary Clinton. That was pure politics.

Obama skirted around the political tone and content of Wright’s preaching and focused on race. I believe he did so because as a politician in a close race for the nomination he could in no way politically justify his past close and continuing relationship with an individual who preaches that we Americans are responsible for 9-11-01; that we Americans are responsible for HIV/Aids; that we Americans intentionally infected people of color with HIV/Aids in some racially inspired war. Such words are political suicide for any presidential candidate. They are also words not only about race, but about politics, and beliefs deeply held. So, in the end Obama disowns the words, but continues to embrace the man who preaches them.

Obama chose the following words: “I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother … .”

It is simply is not fair or genuine to suggest, as did Obama, that choosing to remain a member of a religious congregation is the same as remaining a brother or grandson or nephew; that choosing and keeping a spiritual advisor is the same thing as loving or keeping a daughter or mother or cousin. Obama chose to join Wright’s congregation. He chose to stay in the pews and listen for 20 years. He chose to stay with his pastor despite hearing those hateful and inflammatory words. He chose to place Wright on his presidential campaign committee knowing that he had uttered those sermons; and Obama chose to keep Wright on his campaign committee until news about those sermons broke. Obama chose to stay and participate in Wright’s congregation.

In the end it is not an issue of guilt by association; it’s an issue of guilt by participation.

Five Years in Iraq

Five years ago today US and coalition forces began operations to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, thus beginning one of the most controversial wars in American history. Across the mainstream media and the blogosphere, people will no doubt be painting starkly contrasting assessments of this endeavor, from hysterical cynicism to blind optimism. There will be those that broadcast the casualties while muting any successes. And there will be those like Dick Cheney that continue to wear blinders, and refuse to acknowledge the glaring errors made by this administration and pay only lip service to the terrible sacrifices this country has had to make in the name of this war. We invite all opinions on this blog for sure, but in looking back on these past five years and on into the future, I feel a candid and reasoned assessment, avoiding useless hyperbole, is needed.

In critiquing the early stages of the war, there is little to write positive. I, for one, was initially against the war, feeling that the Bush administration had not given enough solid evidence that Hussein possessed WMD, and that we were rushing throwing our troops into Iraq with no legitimate 'smoking gun.' History will write that the administration's grounds for the war was at best unauthentic, and at worst sinister deception. Iraq had no WMD and Saddam was seemingly not an 'immediate threat.' He did have relations with Al Qaeda and other terrorist agencies, but did not coordinate 9/11 nor any other US terror attacks. No one can deny the world is a better place without the likes of Saddam Hussein running nations, but on the same token no one can deny that the Bush administration cataclysmically blundered the initial occupation after toppling Hussein. You can't quell insurgency and occupy without troops, and Donald Rumsfeld should be vilified in history for his appallingly stubborn decisions to not increase ground troop levels throughout his abysmal leadership at the DoD. His actions were indefensible, it should have been obvious that more troops were needed to reduce violence, and should not have taken until 2007's surge tactic to realize this point.

We are a nation divided because of this war. I believe this is in large part due to the way we discuss this war. This should not be a partisan war, this should not be a war dominated by both poles throwing flames at each other. There needs to be practical and useful discourse. So on a day like this, we should talk about the Iraq War's past, but we should focus on the future. I am sick and tired of talk about 'who supported the invasion' and who 'from day one did not.' We are in Iraq. That is the bottom line. Yes it may have been blind arrogance and unfettered hubris that got us there, yes the post-invasion agenda should have been managed better, and yes American lives are being lost everyday. But let's focus on what our next step will be without taking cheap shots at other parties. A stable Iraq is a positive for the entire world, especially an America fighting the cult of terrorism. So while I did not initially support the invasion, I do advocate remaining in Iraq until stability is secured and Al Qaeda is drastically weakened or eliminated from Iraq altogether. I have seen positives from the recent surge, and I rack my brain thinking that maybe so much violence could have been avoided had Bush listened to Powell and utilized more troops from the start. What happens to Iraq if we fully withdraw? For those that desire either a quick or sustained withdrawal, if our next President implements such a strategy, I only hope that he or she fully sees the reality of such a decision, where Iraq is embroiled in chaos. I only hope that such a decision does not mean that the US is right back in Iraq in 5 or so years. Let's hope such a decision is made with extensive contingency planning, and a much better sense of reality than the Bush administration had post-invasion.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama Delivers Passionate Speech on Race in America

Amid the race and gender firestorm that has recently engulfed the Democratic presidential nomination contest, Sen. Barack Obama today delivered a heartfelt and passionate speech focused race relations in our country and on his own experiences as a biracial American. Watch and read the full text of the speech here.

The man nailed it on the head. There is no doubt about that. Already well-known as a great orator, Obama's speech today has only served to enhance that reputation. His assessment that "race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now... that we would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America - to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality" is spot on. He acknowledges that race is the terrain of American society that we have not yet conquered when he says, "the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through - a part of our union that we have yet to perfect."

It was good to see him address race. I apologize if this is an inaccurate assessment, but it seems that he has somewhat just glazed over the subject in this campaign, with the occasional word but no in-depth speech like this. It was a breath of fresh air to hear him say that race is not something we need to dodge as a campaign subject, it is something we need to discuss in a calm and politically correct fashion.

I implore all of you to read the transcript and watch the speech.

Donkey Daze

According to CNN, Obama and Clinton are in a stastical horse race when polling against McCain. With all of the divisiveness of the democrative party; voting problems in Texas, Florida and Michigan, claims of unfair criticism regarding both sex and race as well as the continued outbursts from representatives and close friends that need to be publicly refuted by the candidates, I am surprised that more Democrats aren't bewildered rather than polarized within their own party.

Celebrities are endorsing both sides. Comedy shows are mocking both sides. And we are talking about one party here. Just the democrats. McCain is barely even talked about these days unless it is when comparing whether or not it would be Obama or Clinton that could beat him. With so many passionate people in the democratic party it will be interesting to see whether or not this will divide the party (remember that Ralph Nader will be an easy alternative choice for pride hurt blues) or maybe the opposite will happen. The democrats are getting so much media attention and people are getting more involved; could this snowball to a powerful force in the future?

I, for one, am confused. These two are fairly similar on policies with minor discrepancies (depending on perspective). They both are representative of underrepresented minorities. And we also know exactly who each would be running against. Can we end this already so I can start focusing on the next choice? I have considered all the differences and am ready to move to the next step, but feel like I am in purgatory, being punished for years of allowing a Bush administration to rule over us by watching the Democrats tear themselves apart. Get me out of this Donkey Daze.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Political Absurdity

The democratic process has been violated to the utmost with an upper case 'U.' The other day in the local Camden at Gaines Ranch (my apt complex) monthly meeting of residents and potential residents and visitors curious about our community, some very disturbing events took place. In what was suppose to be a vote if we should begin recycling glass, turned into a dictatorship and put an asterisk next to the meeting minutes in the history books. It's a given that I want to recycle glass but I can only make a decision based on perspectives from both sides. The fact that Tom Morecilli wasn't allowed to explain why recycling glass would be a burden on our community forced local residents to vote without necessary and complete information. I'm a fair person and maintain a strict diet of supplements from local stores but when I'm forced to vote without the proper information to make a qualified decision then our so-called apartment community who boasts a 'democratic' community is clearly nothing more than a mockery of something that could be such a great thing.

End the Charade with a National Primary

As a change of pace, let's talk not about the candidates, but the system as a whole. Who here supports a National Primary?

I believe that we are currently employing an unfit system that does not give voice to our country as a whole. Too much importance is placed on the early contests like New Hampshire and Iowa, which do not represent the whole country. They are white, rural states and having them determine who will be each party's nominee is unfair and undemocratic. We have all seen so many candidates drop out after getting trounced in early states, when having other states go first could have lead to an entirely different outcome. Proponents of our current system play up that state and local issues are at the forefront of the nomination, something that can sometimes be lost in national elections. But, these candidates are running for just that, President of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. So it pains me to see candidates tailor their platforms to each individual state, then move onto the next state and completely change the dialogue. This a national political office, and so the candidate should have a national campaign. And just how sincere is the candidate being when they bring up local/state issues in each state? The website cites a The Economist article: "A good example is 'one topic all presidential candidates agree on in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses (is) ethanol production is a very good thing and should be handsomly subsidized' (The Economist, 2004, pg. 24). Did they all think that way before running for President?" I, for one, highly doubt it.

So, in sum, I feel that our nominating process for President should mirror our process for selecting the President in November, with a national vote on the same day. Most other nominating processes in each state are done this way, from the Senate to the judiciary to State Legislatures. Why not Presidential primaries? I suggest all readers visit the aforementioned website (which seems to date back to 2004, but is still relevant in this year's heavily contested race). Go to

Your thoughts please on this highly important matter...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Texas Caucuses and Clinton

No doubt we will all be hearing or reading a great deal in the next few days about the letter the Hillary campaign sent to the Texas Democratic Party.

"Therefore, it is our understanding that the results will be counted and delegates awarded based on a count of votes without any and without any certification by the Precinct Chairs or County and Senate District Chairs that they completed a thorough review of the eligibility of participants and delegate candidates.

. . .

We believe this is in direct contravention of the Rules, which require that the Party determine the eligibility of participants and that only the votes of eligible participants are counted. Moreover, if the Party's reason for not ensuring that only eligible participants are counted is based on the fact that the Party cannot complete the review process prior to the scheduled date of the County and Senate District Conventions, the campaigns can't possibly complete this review in a timely fashion. Credentials challenges are presently due March 26.

We believe that (1) it is a violation of the Party's Delegate Selection Plan and Rules for the Party not to ensure that the eligibility of participants was determined before their votes are counted; and (2) if the Party cannot complete this task in time to hold the next level conventions on March 29, those conventions must be postponed until such time as accurate presidential preference counts can be made based on a review of each and every sign in sheet to determine eligibility of participants and delegates.

It is a violation of the rights of legitimate participants to have their true vote count distorted by violations of the Party's Rules.

It is the Party's responsibility to ensure the integrity of the precinct convention process by making sure that the Rules were followed and that the final official results of the precinct conventions are accurate and in compliance with the Rules.

Therefore, we respectfully request that the Party explain to both campaigns what procedures will be followed to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the precinct convention results and agree to postpone the County and Senate District Conventions until such time as that process can be completed."

It seems the Texas Democratic Party, despite clearly published rules requiring it to verify county convention delegates' eligibility prior to the county conventions taking place, refuses to do so. Also, you will notice that the Hillary's campaign described in detail the rules violations that allegedly occurred at many precinct caucuses on March 4, including sign-ins by people not eligible to vote at the caucuses, the assignment or selection of delegates ineligible to serve as delegates to the county conventions, failure to ratify or certify the selection of the delegates by the precinct convention that night, failure to allow voter sign-in and basing candidate support percentages on head or hand counts; all in direct violation of party rules, and basic tenets of participatory democracy at caucuses.

And, no doubt we will begin to hear the cries from the other candidate that he supports the process and that Clinton is simply trying to once again disenfranchise the voters:

“We don’t think that the record-breaking number of Texans who stood up to be counted on March 4th would appreciate the Clinton campaign’s attempt to disenfranchise them and silence their voices just because the outcome wasn’t politically beneficial to Senator Clinton” – said Obama spokesman Dan Pfeiffer.
So, the lines have been drawn and the hypocrisy will begin to fly, and, no doubt, the media will once again let Obama off easy.

Since when is it wrong to make certain that only those eligible to vote at the caucuses did so! Since when is it wrong to verify that clearly laid out caucus rules were followed the night of March 4! Since when is it wrong to make certain that the state Democratic Party complies with its own rules on selecting delegates.

If by "disenfranchising" Obama means we should allow ineligible people to vote for him at the precinct caucuses, then he is a hypocrite. If by "silencing" voices he means allowing ineligible people to serve as delegates for him to our Party's conventions, then he is a hypocrite. If he thinks Texas Democrats "appreciate" violations of the rules, then he is simply wrong.

Obama has long taken the position that we must follow the party rules and not change them during the campaign, even if it meant disenfranchising millions of voters in Florida and Michigan; and he still takes that position. And for the most part, that is one of his strongest positions. But, now, much the same as his position on the so-called super delegates, he doesn't believe the rules really matter, or that they should be followed. Somehow, to him, following the Texas Party rules will disenfranchise voters, when, in fact, those rules are designed, when followed, to enfranchise voters.

Just imagine what the media and Obamatons would be yelling if there was evidence that hundreds or thousand of ineligible voters showed up at the polls on March 4th and voted in the primary en masse for Hillary, and the State Party refused to ensure voter eligibility prior to certifying the primary results. We know what would happen.

The problem is, although nothing new to the Obama style of saying one thing but then saying the opposite if it helps you win, that the rules remain the rules. The rules in Texas have been set for a very long time now, and are no less rules because we are not Florida. The State Party must verify the eligibility of caucus voters and delegates prior to the county conventions on March 29, especially considering the alleged violations that occurred in many of the precinct caucuses. The party is now refusing to do that. Clinton is well within her rights to demand that the Party follow the rules, and should make that demand, as should Obama.

And, for the candidate - Obama - who continues to demand that we follow the rules and disenfranchise two entire states' democrat voters, even to the extent of refusing to agree to a re-vote, I say stop being such an obviously self-serving old-style Chicago machine politician, and agree to follow the rules even on those occasions when it may not help you win.

But, I predict the media, if it picks up this story, will once again crucify Hillary, labeling her as someone who will do anything to get elected; they will once again follow the Obama line, ignore the truth, that Hillary is simply trying ensure that the Texas rules are followed.