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.