Saturday, March 15, 2008

Media bias? Try media ignorance

By Edward Copeland

During the 6 p.m. newscast of my local NBC affiliate, in their "Sky Center" segment reporting on events in the nation and the world, they announced that Obama and Clinton were facing off again today in the Wyoming caucuses.

I phoned their news tip line to break the news that they were a week off and Wyoming was already over and the young sounding woman who answered the phone said, "Oh" and thanked me. Of course, they didn't make a correction on that newscast or the one at 10.

On the plus side, maybe they won't hear about Obama's pastor problem until after November.


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Iowa again? -- yes, and Obama picks up more delegates

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Iowa held 99 county conventions today to elect delegates to the state convention.

Wait... what? You mean it's not over in Iowa? Weren't the caucuses held back in January? Didn't Obama win 16 delegates to Clinton's 15 and Edwards's 14? Well, sort of. Actually, those January precinct caucuses only elected delegates to the county conventions.

And, based on the results of today's conventions, the new estimated delegate allocation is as follows:

  • Obama: 23
  • Clinton: 16
  • Edwards: 6
As NBC's election guru Chuck Todd notes, the six Edwards delegates "will be up for grabs, perhaps, at the Iowa Democratic Party state convention in June". Today's results suggest that, while Clinton held steady, Obama's significant gain was at Edwards's expense.

Todd also has the latest delegate numbers:

  • Pledged Count: Obama leads 1,407-1,252
  • Superdelegates: Clinton leads 253-217
  • OVERALL TOTAL: Obama leads 1,624-1,505
For more on the Iowa process, see here.

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To hell with Florida and Michigan

Guest post by Greg Prince

For the latest on the delegate debacle, see this piece in the NYT. -- MJWS.


I'm sick to death of the arguments over delegate counts for Florida and Michigan for so many reasons. But the first reason has to be simply this: It doesn’t matter.

That's right. It's not warm and fuzzy to face this little dose of reality, but it really doesn't matter. As things stand, Obama is the clear leader in popular vote, states won, and delegate count.

If they split the contested delegates between the campaigns and allow them to be seated, then Obama will still be the clear leader in popular vote, states won, and delegate count.

That's just the reality of it -- Hillary doesn't have a majority of the votes. Period. End of discussion. And the only way that's going to change is if they bring on an accountant from the Bush Treasury.

From some of the incendiary rhetoric emanating from the Hillary campaign you'd think nefarious forces of evil were conspiring to disenfranchise hosts of anxious voters. That is revisionist bilge. Two states chose not to participate in the process by deliberately and willfully violating the policies everyone agreed to well in advance. Another facet of reality is that we choose our actions but not necessarily the consequences of those actions. If we want to fall off the "fairness" cliff, how about we pause to consider the interests and fairness to the voters in 48 states who followed the rulebook ratified by all 50 states?

Florida and Michigan knew the rules. Florida and Michigan agreed to the rules. Then Florida and Michgan broke the rules and are now demanding to issue a signing statement. I'm sorry, but rules are rules, and, particularly in elections, you don't change the rules mid-stream. The current administration notwithstanding, we are not a banana republic!

Look, nobody would be happer than I to see a shakeup in the process, especially one that gets rid of the sanctified status of Iowa and New Hampshire. But Florida and Michigan must be penalized. Period. Otherwise, the party loses control over its entire nominating process.

If the rule-breakers want pledged delegates to be seated at the convention, let them hold a legal primary or caucus, at their own expense, to assign them. And, in the interim, the whiners can quit their bitching. Do the math. No matter what ultimately happens, Obama is still in the lead.

Hillary would be a credible candidate and would probably win in November. Hillary would do a respectable job as president. But nominating someone because it's his or her turn is how the Republicans do things, not Democrats, not liberals, and not progressives. I have problems with Obama, just as I have different problems with Hillary, but he too would do a respectable job as president, and would probably win in November. And I don't see how Hillary pulls this out without destroying the party's ability to compete in the fall. And we really don't want the risk of a third Dubya term.

John Aravosis asks:

Hillary can only tell Democratic voters so many times that McCain is more qualified to be president than Obama before her supporters (and lots more Americans) end up listening to her. Or is that her plan after all? If Hillary can't win, then no Democrat deserves to win?

My friend Michael Stickings has a good analysis of the topography, including the question of what the candidates want. Good commentary, but if we get too focused on what the campaigns "want," we veer back into banana republic territory. I recognize the political reality and danger of not seating any delegates from those states, but a way needs to be found to accomplish representation that doesn't compromise the rules. Allowing the system to be gamed establishes a catastrophic precedent.

Kos gives a good discussion of eight ways in which Hillary is losing -- similar to my thinking. only he tallies everything up. He concludes:

Team Clinton has nothing except schemes of coup by super delegate, which they apparently think they can do by insulting entire Democratic constituencies and most of our nation's states.

But really, what else do they have? Their campaign is losing by every metric possible.

This is an issue only because Hillary refuses to see the writing on the wall. It's nice to have the attention on Democratic issues, but this party needs to be unified going into the fall.

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Obama: "I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy."

By Michael J.W. Stickings

As I mentioned yesterday, there has been much ado over some inflammatory comments by Jeremiah Wright, the retiring pastor of Obama's church in Chicago, Trinity United Church of Christ.

There has also been a good deal of unfairness and imbalance in the coverage of this alleged controversy, one fed lustily by Obama's opponents and willingly taken up by a debased media establishment out to boost ratings and its own narcissistic sense of self-importance by sensationalizing the Obama-Clinton race and more specifically to take down the frontrunner -- namely, Obama himself. There has simply been no equal and parallel coverage of McCain's ties to John Hagee and the christianist right, nor of Clinton's ties to Republican christianist fundamentalists in Washington. Instead, the focus has been disproportionately on Obama, and, as a result, he has been forced to respond.

And he did so yesterday at The Huffington Post. Make sure to read the entire piece. Here are a few key passages:

Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.


The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign. I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church.

Let me repeat what I've said earlier. All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn. They in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country.

An admirable and worthy response, in my view.

No doubt it will not be enough to satisfy Obama's opponents, however, both those who support Clinton and Republicans generally, but he affirmed here that he is a proud and patriotic American, a man of genuine Christian faith (even if Clinton, who knows better, waffles when asked whether he might be a Muslim; even if 13 percent of Americans think he's a Muslim, for such is the power of the smear campaign lined up against him; and even if his opponents are appealing to "casual prejudice," to anti-Muslim bigotry), a presidential candidate who can defend himself magnanimously yet forcefully, a leader who can rise above the ugliness of the political world while still battling to make that world a better place.

No, his opponents won't be satisfied, but, then, they never will. Campaigning from the gutter, all they can do is hurl mud and dirt and filth and shit at him, hoping something, anything, will stick, the lies and delusions of foul and corrupt politics, and of desperation.

But Obama has done what he needed to do, and he did so without lowering himself to that level, without succumbing to the allure of the gutter.

Is it any wonder he continues to inspire so many of us? Is it any wonder he has become one of the great leaders of our time?

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Friday, March 14, 2008

It is called "backbone"

By Carol Gee

A number of U.S. House Democrats must have gotten a spinal transplants in the last few weeks as the FISA fight progressed. Many of us who regularly cover this subject have been sitting on the edges of our chairs and the various vote counts emerged. And today, HR-3773/Civil-Liberties-Plus-Protection won, 213 to 197, 1 voting "present".

Hats off to several House Members who were particularly effective during the past week. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said repeatedly, and I think with effect, the "President Bush is wrong on this, and he knows it." Her sidekick, Steny Hoyer, made a very good closing speech today during the debate. His style and words hit just the right tone of impassioned wisdom. His decision to call the Republicans' bluff on last nights secret session, evidently helped wavering Members to see that the Hush-hush stuff promised by Ray Blount was (probably) just another fear-mongering tactic. Today, Judiciary Chairman John Conyers projected just the right firm elder statesman persona as he generously shared all his time with a roster of great Dem debaters and civil libertarians, such as Rush Holt and Jerry Nadler. My own Texas Rep Sheila Jackson Lee projected good knowledge ability and intelligence authority. She is clearly a strong ally of both Conyers and Intel Chair Sylvestre Reyes, a fellow Texan. Reyes, not an accomplished rhetorician, did a creditable job with his debate time. It has been so delightful to see those around him support and assist him in standing tall. Finally Leonard Boswell, not a House star, spoke with the Democrats after having voted with the Republicans previously. Tall and white-haired, he was beautiful in his dignity.

Glenn Greenwald's analysis is worth looking at. And he rightfully celebrates just a bit that the "Targeting Bad Democrats" campaign in which he and several other prominent FISA advocates participated may have been a factor. I agree that it was very likely a significant help to the backbone-growing amongst district-vulnerable Democrats. -- (See Marcy's list).

There still remains a lot to do before we can breathe more easily about a final stand-up-straight FISA outcome in the Senate. Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker lists the Democratic Senators voting "badly" last month to give retroactive immunity in the Senate version of a FISA bill. This last time they had a real opportunity to do the right thing they behaved spinelessly, in my opinion. They may be open to pressure/support to do what is right as the conference process emerges in the coming weeks. Congress is out for their Easter break; I don't know when their office staff will be in to take messages; they may stay in Washington. These calls are very easy and you are not trying to convince the staff member. Just leave a message with your preference s. Here are the free "1-800" numbers to the capitol, where you can get your call transferred to a Senator or House Member's office:

  • 1-800-828-0498
  • 1-800-459-1887
  • 1-800-614-2803
  • 1-866-340-9281
  • 1-866-338-1015
  • 1-877-851-6437
This is a good day!

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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A trip down Hillary lane -- 2007 edition, Part I

By Edward Copeland

The 2007 installment of my
Copeland Institute posts about Hillary is even fuller than that for 2006, so I'm dividing it up into at least two posts, if not three. This one only covers January through April 2007. If you missed the 2006 installment, click here.

JAN. 18, 2007

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) offered her harshest assessment to date of President Bush's Iraq war strategy yesterday, continuing her steady evolution from one of the war's staunchest supporters to one of the administration's most prominent critics.
Her long support for the war and past reluctance to break more significantly with the administration have left her at odds with many liberal activists, who will play an influential role in the Democratic nomination battle. Yesterday, she stopped short of embracing a timetable for withdrawing troops from the conflict, an idea many activists support.
Tom Matzzie, Washington director of, which has been pushing to block the new troop deployments, challenged Clinton to follow through. "A key test is how any senator puts words into action," he said in a statement.

JAN. 21, 2007

New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday launched a long-anticipated 2008 presidential campaign that could make her the first female president in the nation's history and the only former first lady to follow her husband in the White House.
In her video statement, Clinton made only a glancing reference to the war in Iraq. She has emerged as a vocal critic of the president and opposes his proposal to send more than 20,000 additional troops into the conflict. But she voted for the war in 2002 and angered some party antiwar activists by standing behind that vote until last month.
The size and experience of the Democratic field underscores the reality that, for all of her support, fundraising potential and political muscle, Clinton continues to face questions about whether she can win a general election.
But many Democrats say she will have to work to overcome skepticism about her candidacy inside the party. "Can they [voters] finally see the reality of Hillary Clinton, not the myth of Hillary Clinton?" said Mickey Kantor, who was commerce secretary in the Clinton administration and supports the senator's candidacy. "The money will be there. . . . The experienced people will be there. All those things she will have. But the image [is something] she will have to turn around in some parts of the country."

JAN. 29, 2007

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa ..."Competent and capable, but she's my fourth choice," said Dale Hedgecoth, a carpenter at a local high school.
But even those who want to see a woman elected to the White House worry that Clinton may not be able to win a general election, given her political baggage. "I think that it would be amazing to have her be our president," said Hollyanne Howe, a high school student. "I fear that if she is nominated, she won't be electable. I would love to see her get elected, but my biggest fear is that it won't happen and we'll get stuck with another President Bush or whomever else."
Most of those in the group strongly oppose the Iraq war, and Clinton's 2002 vote authorizing Bush to go to war rankles many. Several said they want to hear fuller explanations from her about why she voted the way she did and how she would try to end the war and bring the troops home.
"That's what concerns me," responded Roy Porterfield, an unemployed automotive manager. "Is there any single greater issue than the war? She better offer a solution to that real quick."

JAN. 31, 2007

"She uttered the most irritating and disingenuous nine words in politics: “If we had known then what we know now. ...”
Jim Webb knew. Barack Obama knew. Even I knew, for Pete’s sake. The administration’s trickery was clear in real time. Hillary didn’t have the nerve to oppose a popular president on a national security issue after 9/11, and she feared being cast as an antiwar hippie when she ran. Now she feels she can’t simply say she made a bad decision. And that makes her seem conniving — not a good mix with nurturing."
Maureen Dowd

FEB. 3, 2007

When is a Democrat not a Democrat? When she's Hillary Clinton
By Lila Garrett
Here's a riddle. When is a Democrat not a Democrat? Answer: When she's Hillary Clinton.
On January 27th 400,000 activists met in Washington to protest the funding of the war in Iraq. About 40 women from Code Pink went to Hillary Clinton's office with signs like IT TAKES AN INVASION TO RAZE A VILLAGE....They also had a letter for Hillary to sign pledging to stop the funding. Instead of accepting the letter, acknowledging this passion for peace, congratulating them on their well thought out demonstration, expressing sympathy with their desire to end the war in Iraq, ...which Hillary now claims to share, the chief of staff had them arrested. Six of these magnificent women were thrown in jail where they spent 8 uncomfortable hours.....for what? For having the audacity to oppose the war that Hillary Clinton had spent 4 years defending. Now she says she's against it. When challenged to put up or shut up what's her reaction? She has voters for peace thrown in jail
How can Hillary Clinton raise more than 150 million dollars? By encouraging special interests to fund her campaign. Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, right wing nightmare of the Media industry, threw her a huge fund raiser in which undisclosed millions were raised. She not only accepted his largess, she did so with pride.
Meanwhile campaign finance reform is at the heart of taking the election process out of the hands of the special interests, like the credit card companies, the insurance industry, big oil, the arms industry and giving it back to the people. It is no exaggeration to say, public funding of elections is the engine from which democracy springs.
Is that a priority of Mrs. Clinton? Apparently not. Now that she's declared a pox on public funding, other candidates are eager to jump on board. Mitt Romney quickly said "me too". John McCain is making noises like he's next. The fact that as co-author of campaign finance reform bill he has an obligation to follow its mandate doesn't break his stride for a minute. And Barack Obama isn't committing himself one way or the other. (We all know what that means.) Like a house of cards, once Hillary pulled out, the only genuine reform in our voting system started to collapse. We, the people, have lost another chance to make our vote count. But that's okay with Hillary. Her special interest donors couldn't be happier.

FEB. 11, 2007

CONCORD, N.H. -- Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton faced questions Saturday from New Hampshire voters skeptical about her stand on the Iraq war, including one who demanded that she repudiate her 2002 Senate vote to send U.S. troops into battle.
Her toughest question came in Berlin, a struggling mill town in northern New Hampshire.
Roger Tilton, 46, a financial adviser from Nashua, N.H., told Clinton that unless she recanted her vote, he was not in the mood to listen to her other policy ideas.
"I want to know if right here, right now, once and for all and without nuance, you can say that war authorization was a mistake," Tilton said. "I, and I think a lot of other primary voters - until we hear you say it, we're not going to hear all the other great things you are saying."
In response, Clinton repeated her assertion that "knowing what we know now, I would never have voted for it," and said voters would have to decide for themselves whether her position was acceptable.

FEB. 14, 2007

Yet another man has betrayed Hillary Clinton. This time it's George W. Bush, who not only deceived her about weapons of mass destruction but, when granted congressional authorization to go to war in Iraq, actually did so. This, apparently, came as a surprise to her, although in every hamlet and village in America, every resident who could either read or watch Fox News knew that Bush was going to take the country to war. Among other things, troops were already being dispatched.
Somehow, Bush's intentions were lost on Clinton, who then as now was a member of the United States Senate. This was the case even though she now rightly calls Bush's desire to topple Saddam Hussein an "obsession." "From almost the first day they got into office," Clinton said last weekend in New Hampshire, the Bush administration was "trying to figure out how to get rid of Saddam Hussein." If that was the case -- and indeed it was -- then how come she now says she did not think Bush, armed with a congressional resolution, would hurry to war?
So I do not condemn Clinton and other Democratic presidential candidates -- Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and John Edwards -- for voting for the war because I would have done the same. I fault them, though, for passing the blame to Bush as the guy who misled them. They all had sufficient knowledge to question the administration's arguments, and they did not do so. Not a single one of them, for instance, could possibly have believed the entirety of the administration's case or not have suspected that the reasons for war were being hyped. If they felt otherwise, they have no business running for president.
Too often when a candidate throws his hat into the ring, he tosses principle out the window. Yet this is precisely what we want in a president -- principles and the courage to stick to them. Instead of Clinton saying she had been misled by Bush and his merry band of fibbers, exaggerators and hallucinators, I'd like to hear an explanation of how she thinks she went wrong and what she learned from it. I don't want to know how Bush failed her. I want to know how she failed her country.

Today, Hillary Clinton seems almost uncannily positioned to become the Ed Muskie of 2008. She opposes the U.S. military presence in Iraq but not with the specificity, fervor or bona fides of her leading Democratic rivals. As Muskie did with Vietnam, she supported the legislation enabling the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and she has been slower and more inconstant than her party rivals in coming around to opposing the continued U.S. occupation.
Entering the race, Clinton has institutional advantages that Muskie could scarcely have dreamed of -- an unparalleled network of financial and political supporters, a universal level of public recognition. But, like Muskie, she is out of sync with her party's -- to some extent, her country's -- voters on the major issue of the day. In a Gallup Poll released Monday, the public favored, by 63 percent to 35 percent, Congress setting a timetable for withdrawing all U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of next year. The public's position is thus aligned more closely with those of Barack Obama and John Edwards than with that of Clinton, who has yet to commit to a timetable for withdrawal.
Indeed, so strong is support for a withdrawal that Edwards and Obama would by no means face the general election wipeout that was McGovern's fate. (Besides, Nixon ran against the antiwar movement and the fomenters of social tumult. Today, while opposition to the war is widespread, there isn't really an antiwar movement -- not one resembling what emerged in the '60s, anyway -- for hawks or Republicans to run against.) And should Americans still be fighting and dying in Iraq when the next election rolls around, the Democrats probably could win with Dennis Kucinich as their nominee.
I can understand some of the political calculations behind Clinton's reticence on the war -- chiefly, that a female candidate must seem as ready to use force as her male counterparts. That leaves the whole Democratic presidential pack, however, freer to lash out at the bloody absurdity of President Bush's war than she. And it leaves Clinton locked into a reckless cautiousness at a time when the electorate is looking for a decisive change.

CONCORD, N.H. -- ...(Monique) Cesna, 47, a nurse turned third-year law student, then bore down for the cross-examination: Candidate Clinton insists she wouldn't have taken the country to war in Iraq had she been president, yet Senator Clinton voted to authorize President Bush to go to war.
"How can you then explain the seeming contradiction?" she asked -- and again the crowd went wild.
Iraq was the throbbing toothache of Clinton's weekend visit here. The state she once took pains to avoid for fear of igniting presidential rumors -- she hadn't been here since 1996 -- will be key to her ambition to become the second President Clinton. But here and in Iowa, she faces a ferociously antiwar electorate unhappy with her positions, past and present, on Iraq.
For the moment, Democratic primary voters don't want Kerryesque parsing. "Let the conversation begin," Clinton's banners proclaim, but she's not saying what many of them want to hear -- words like "mistake" and "sorry."

FEB. 27, 2007

It slipped Sen. Hillary Nothing-But-Ambition Clinton's mind five times since 2001 to mention in Senate financial disclosure forms that she and her hubby have operated and been able to shield $5 million+ of their income while only disbursing about a quarter of the foundation's funds to actual charities.

MARCH 4, 2007

Hillary pretends to be a Southerner.

MARCH 10, 2007

Sen. Hillary Nothing-But-Ambition Clinton puts her finger back down after measuring which way the wind is blowing again and decides that now she does support a timetable for getting out of Iraq.

MARCH 20, 2007

No wonder Bush 41 and Bill have grown so close. Really, the similarities between the two families are frightening, especially between Hillary and Dubya. As I've said before, she's Dubya with a brain in women's clothing. Still running scared of Obamamania, now they are trying to spread lies about his record of opposition to the Iraq War to cover for her own refusal to say her vote was a mistake. (Why should she when she also says she plans to keep troops there when she's president at the same time she promises crowds she has withdrawal plans?)

MARCH 29, 2007

This is the tale of two women in politics: One worked hard, rose through the ranks of Congress and was elected the first female speaker of the House. She never said, "Pick me. I'm a woman." She earned her high office and though she's made mistakes along the way of her brief tenure, she's also shown brightly in standing up to an intransigent president and his disastrous invasion of Iraq. "Calm down with the threats. There is a new Congress in town," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a Capitol Hill news conference. "We respect your constitutional role. We want you to respect ours. ... This war without end has gone on far too long and we are here to end it." Pelosi continued, "So I just wish the president would take a deep breath, recognize again that we each have our constitutional role, and we should respect that in terms of each other."

The second woman rode her husband's coattails to a Senate seat and her eventual plan to win his former job as president of the United States. She declared her "feminist" credentials and
won the backing of the National Organization for Women as well as famed former tennis star Billie Jean King. She runs on a sense of entitlement, stressing that people should vote for her because she is a woman. There's no reason a woman shouldn't be president, but don't back someone who says she deserves your vote because of her genitalia. Barack Obama is not running saying he should win your vote because of his African heritage. Mitt Romney doesn't argue that he should win because a Mormon never has. John Edwards doesn't want a vote based on sympathy for his wife's cancer. Hillary Nothing-But-Ambition Clinton isn't against such base appeals, because she sure as hell won't win people over with her stances which blow with the wind. She tells some crowds she thinks troops should leave Iraq, tells others that she plans a permanent U.S. presence there if she's elected president. She never admits mistakes. She doesn't allow criticism. Remind you of anyone? Someday a woman will be president, but it shouldn't be this one. Candidates don't deserve votes based on race, religion or gender; they deserve votes based on what they plan to do and the confidence they inspire. Hillary inspires none of that.

APRIL 21, 2007

Hillary Nothing-But-Ambition Clinton gave her post-Imus speech at Rutgers, delayed several days by weather (I'm sure Virginia Tech had nothing to do with it), but columnist Colbert I. King takes her to task in The Washington Post for her hypocrisy for talking about hip hop's debasement of women while gladly pocketing cash from the same musical artists for her campaign.
Put me in the camp of those who implore Sen. Hillary Clinton to give it back -- "it" being the reported $800,000 that's sitting in her presidential campaign coffers thanks to a fundraiser hosted in her honor March 31 in the Pinecrest, Fla., home of a huge Clinton fan who refers to himself as Timbaland.
You would not be reading about Clinton or about Timbaland -- who entered this vale of tears 36 years ago in Norfolk under the name Timothy Mosley -- were it not for the fact that he is a well-heeled hip-hop producer and noted performer of the kind of misogynistic and denigrating lyrics that informed Don Imus's derogatory comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team.
Mrs. Clinton, you may recall, took umbrage at Imus's remarks, branding them "small-minded bigotry and coarse sexism." His words, she said in an e-mail to supporters, "showed a disregard for basic decency and were disrespectful and degrading to African Americans and women everywhere."
Good for her, I say, except it must be asked why she was down in Florida making nice to -- and pocketing big bucks from -- a rapper whose obscenity-laced lyrics praise violence, perpetuate racist stereotypes and demean black women.
This much I do know: If Hillary Clinton wasn't playing a hypocrite in the Don Imus episode and is, in fact, a leader who matches her lofty ideals with stand-up behavior, she should return the $800,000 Timbaland raised for her at his swank affair.

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Much ado about Jeremiah Wright

By Michael J.W. Stickings

There is much ado at the moment over some imflammatory comments made by "Obama's Pastor," Jeremiah Wright. In brief, Wright has said that the U.S. government gives drugs to and builds prisons for blacks, that blacks should sing "God Damn America," not "God Bless America," and that it was America's own terrorism that brought on the attacks of 9/11.

Now, to be fair, some of what Wright said is fair game. Like it or not -- and the truth hurts -- the U.S. did drop atomic bombs on Japan, killing tens of thousands, and the U.S. has supported some rather nasty regimes throughout its history, notably during the Cold War years but also during the present so-called war on terror. Is there a connection between America's foreign policy and what happened on 9/11? Yes. Osama bin Laden himself has said so quite clearly again and again. Does that excuse what heppened on 9/11? Of course not.

But let's leave all that aside for now. I'd like to make a few comments as this story relates to the current presidential race:

1) Obama has been quite close to Wright. Obama has referred to him as "an old uncle". Wright married Obama and his wife. He also baptized their two daughters. Conservatives like Roger Simon are saying that Obama has some explaining to do, and, to be fair, I do think Obama needs to respond more forcefully than he has to some of Wright's comments, not least because, with this, Wright has become both a campaign issue and a media sensation. And yet, he has already distanced himself from Wright. "The violence of 9/11 was inexcusable and without justification," he has said. "It sounds like he was trying to be provocative." A bit too provocative, no doubt. Obama's opponents are trying to connect him more closely to Wright -- guilt by association and all that -- but Obama has been clear in his condemnation of his pastor's inflammatory comments.

Steve Benen: "I suppose the reflexive response would be to argue that if John McCain's embrace of John Hagee and Rod Parsley are offensive, then Obama's connection to Wright is just as bad. Perhaps, but there is a key difference -- Obama has denounced Wright's more extreme statements and made clear he 'deeply disagrees' with the offensive remarks. McCain prefers to pretend that Hagee's and Parsley's extremism is innocuous and barely worth commenting on."

Which brings me to:

2) While there has been much ado over the Obama-Wright connection, just as there was much ado over the supposed Obama-Farrakhan connection, there was almost no ado over the much closer and much more noxious McCain-Hagee connection. While Obama has rejected and denounced Farrakhan -- remember Clinton's desperate pushing of that point? -- and has similarly come out firmly against Wright, McCain has accepted Hagee's embrace without the media bothering to call him on it. While McCain gets away with cozying up to an equal opportunity bigot (anti-Catholic, anti-Muslim, etc.), Obama finds himself the target of yet another smear campaign, one his opponents are more than happy to feed and the media are more than happy to report with glee.

3) Meanwhile, speaking of smear campaigns, a new poll shows that 13 percent of Americans think Obama is a Muslim. Not that there's anything wrong with being a Muslim, of course, even if some on the right think there is (Muslim = terrorist), but this is a direct result, I think, of the appeal to "casual prejudice" that is a key component of the Republican attack machine, as well as of the Clinton campaign (if to a less malignant degree). Now, the implication will be that Obama is either a Muslim or a member of an anti-American, quasi-Christian church. Either way, the smearing will continue.

4) Obama is being forced to address not just his faith but the practice of his faith, forced to answer questions about his church and his pastor. But what about McCain? Again, the media have shown little to no interest in exploring and exposing the Hagee connection, or in addression McCain's religious views generally. And what about Clinton?

Yes, as we begin a new paragraph, what about her? Let me quote again from a Mother Jones article on which I posted early last month: "Through all of her years in Washington, Clinton has been an active participant in conservative Bible study and prayer circles that are part of a secretive Capitol Hill group known as the Fellowship. Her collaborations with right-wingers such as Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) grow in part from that connection."

As I put it then: It would be good to know what Clinton's views are with respect to this "spiritual war," would it not? Surely there are other faith groups she could have joined. Why this one? Was it all an act of triangulation, an effort to reach out to conservatives -- and in particular to her conservative colleagues in the Senate? Or does she actually believe in the Fellowship and its goals, in bringing Jesus, the christianist Jesus, into public life, into her public life, into whatever office she holds? If so, what specifically does she believe? Or is she somehow being duped, an victim of the christianist strategy of "cobelligerency," whereby "conservatives sit pretty and wait for liberals looking for common ground to come to them," pulling them to the right and turning them into allies, witting or otherwise, of their noxious agenda? More urgently, what would any of this mean if she were elected to the White House in November? Are we confident we know the real Hillary Clinton? Would she work to guide the country in a more progressive direction, or would she be, in essence, the Fellowship's liberal in the Oval Office, a friendly liberal willing and eager to do some christianist bidding?

Valid questions, no? And yet the media aren't exploring and exposing this either. It is Obama who is forced to distance himself form the likes of Farrakhan and Wright, while few if any questions are asked about McCain and Hagee or Clinton and Santorum and Brownback and their secret little christianist group on Capitol Hill.

Yes, Obama may need to say more about Wright, but there is clearly a disturbing imbalance here.

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Just another day in the life and death of Iraq LXXV, LXXVI, LXXVII, and LXXVIII

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Needless to say, there have been many more days of violence than those upon which we have reported. There is only so much we can do, after all. And, lately, most of our attention has been on the U.S. presidential race. But let us turn, in this post at least, to the ongoing Iraq War and Occupation. Here are some stories from the past few days:

-- Monday (WaPo): "Eight U.S. soldiers died in separate attacks here and in the eastern province of Diyala on Monday, the deadliest day for U.S. troops in more than two months." (More from NYT.)

-- Tuesday (AP): "Violence reportedly killed at least 42 people Tuesday in Iraq after the deadliest day for U.S. troops in precisely six months." (More from CNN, LAT.)

-- Wednesday (AP): "Three U.S. soldiers were killed in a rocket attack in southern Iraq on Wednesday, bringing to 12 the number of Americans who have been killed in Iraq over the past three days."

-- Wednesday (AP): "U.S. soldiers fired a warning shot near a woman who 'appeared to be signaling to someone' along a dangerous stretch of road north of Baghdad, but the bullet killed a young Iraqi girl."

-- Thursday (AP): "A parked car bomb exploded in a commercial district of central Baghdad Thursday, killing 11 people and wounding 57, police said."

And so it goes...

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The Jerry Brown of 2008

By Michael J.W. Stickings

According to Mark Schmitt, it might be Hillary: "It's well past time to enter the gracious winding-down stage of this long, and until recently, healthy campaign. The last candidate I can remember to keep punching like this even after the race was effectively decided was Jerry Brown in 1992. I'm sure Clinton remembers the unpleasantness of that 1992 convention. I doubt that she wants to be that guy."


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What to do about Florida and Michigan?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Personally, I don't know why the U.S. needs 50 states.

Why not just let Florida and Michigan go their own way? Or why not let them go and add, say, D.C. and Puerto Rico to keep the number at 50?

Problem solved. No new flag required.


But seriously.

Right now, in the Democratic presidential race, Florida and Michigan don't count. Or, rather, the results of their primaries don't count. With both states stripped of their delegates to the national convention this summer for breaking party rules and moving up their primaries, there was no campaigning in Florida and Clinton was the only major candidate on the ballot in Michigan. Yes, Clinton "won" both states, but neither vote was legitimate.

So what to do? Sit the delegates or not? And, if so, who won how many?

There are a number of different options being discussed. For example:

-- Nothing would be done. The delegates wouldn't be seated at the convention or at least wouldn't be able to vote. As it is now, the two primaries wouldn't count.

-- The illegitimate results would be made legitimate. In other words, the results would count.

-- There would be do-overs in both states. At some point, perhaps in June, each state would hold another primary.

-- Instead of primaries, the do-overs would be caucuses (see here).

-- The results of the illegitimate Florida primary would count, since all the candidates were on the ballot, but there would be do-over caucuses in Michigan, where Clinton essentially ran against "Uncommitted," not Obama and Edwards (see here).

The first option -- do nothing, don't seat the delegates -- seems unlikely at this point. Given the closeness of the race, the fact that these are two of the biggest states, and what would look like the disenfranchisement of voters in those states, it seems to me that a solution to seat their delegates will need to be worked out. In the end, Florida and Michigan will count.

Now, some sort of do-over is required for Michigan, where the results of its illegitimate primary (Clinton v. Uncommitted) could not be used to allocate delegates. Florida is another matter. The results of its illegitimate primary could be used.

What do the candidates and their campaigns want? For Clinton, primary do-overs in both states would seem to be the preferred option. Although she would likely win Florida by a narrower margin than she "won" the illegitimate primary, she needs to keep the race going as long as possible, with as many boosts as possible, if she is to have any chance of winning it. She has a good shot at winning Pennsylvania on April 22, along with a few of the remaining states (like Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia), and a win in Florida along with a possible win in Michigan in June would do just that. Even if Obama retained a lead in pledged delegates by the end of the primary season, Clinton would be able to make the case that she won two more big states and that the superdelegates should put her over the top. Plus, a lot could change between now and then. The longer the race goes, the more likely it is that the Obama campaign weakens or even collapses.

But what about Obama? Here's how The Plank's Josh Patashnik put it: "What's worse for Obama, taking the delegate hit that would result from seating Florida's delegation as is (in the neighborhood of a net 35 delegate loss), or going forward with a revote? The consensus -- which seems right to me -- is that he'd probably lose again, but by a narrower margin, with a delegate loss maybe half that, or less. What's more important -- the delegates or the perception of late momentum?" Tough call. Not just for the Obama campaign, for which a do-over is risky, but for Florida itself, which doesn't seem to know what it wants to do, the party divided over this as over the race generally. Josh thinks that a do-over is the better option for Obama, but fellow Planker Issac Chotiner disagrees: Obama would give up a bigger net loss of delegates if delegates were allocated according to the first (and illegitimate) primary, assuming that a do-over would be closer, but he would prevent Clinton from winning a big state late in the race, which would provide her with momentum, a persuasive argument superdelegate support, and, of course, generally enthusiastic media coverage: "[I]f I were Obama," Issac suggests, "I might rather go into the convention with a 110 delegate lead and Florida a distant memory than with a 130 delegate lead and a slew of bad headlines. Makes sense to me, as long as a fair solution could be found for Michigan.

As Time's Mark Halperin is reporting, though, there is a new plan "under discussion" that would, from Obama's perspective, and from the perspective of Obama supporters such as myself, be far more preferable:

– Michigan’s 156 delegates would be split 50-50 between Clinton and Obama.

– Florida’s existing delegates would be seated at the Denver convention -- but with half a vote each. That would give Clinton a net gain of about 19 elected delegates.

– The two states’ superdelegates would then be able to vote in Denver, likely netting Clinton a few more delegates.

This would avoid the risk involved with holding do-overs, both of which Clinton could win. Clinton's "win" in Florida would be legitimated, but the net loss of delegates for Obama would be cut in half. As for Michigan, Obama could win do-over caucuses there, but a do-over primary would be tough. A 50-50 split would be a suitable compromise. Isaac again: "Call me crazy, but isn't this a fantastic deal for Obama? He puts the Florida and Michigan results behind him, and assures that he goes into the convention with a 125 pledged delegate lead. Moreover, there is no possible Clinton momentum from re-scheduled primaries. What am I missing?"

I don't think he's missing anything. It does indeed seem like a fantastic deal for Obama. The problem is, the Clinton people must know this. Unless this is the only workable solution, the only option other than doing nothing -- and, for Clinton, this would be better than nothing -- why would they agree to it?

More to come, of course. Stay tuned.

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China cracks down on Tibet -- again

By Michael J.W. Stickings

From the NYT:

Chinese security forces were reportedly surrounding three monasteries outside Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, on Thursday after hundreds of monks took to the streets this week in what are believed to be the largest Tibetan protests against Chinese rule in two decades.

The turmoil in Lhasa occurred at a politically delicate time for China, which is facing increasing criticism over its human rights record as it prepares to play host to the Olympic Games in August and is seeking to appear harmonious to the outside world.

Needless to say, China is one of the world's worst abusers, and its brutal oppression of Tibet is a decades-long crime against humanity.

And yet it was awarded the Olympics -- which says a lot about the IOC.

And multinational businesses are thriving there -- which says a lot about corporate ethics and priorities.

And Western liberal democracies like the U.S. are playing along, profiting where possible and offering mild and ineffectual criticism where necessary -- which says a lot about our alleged commitment to the spread of freedom and democracy.

Meanwhile, the Tibetan people, like other people under the Chinese yoke, are continuing to suffer -- and to fight for their freedom.

They deserve our support, our committed and meaningful support. Instead, all we are doing is enabling their oppressors.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

When the magic is over...

By Carol Gee

When reputation is lost, things are not the same any more. -- Today's post looks at the current news about lost reputations, and the resulting loss of illusion among those who had believed in them. The reputation of former Governor Eliot Spitzer in the crusader community was shredded in just a matter of days by revelations of his alleged involvement in a prostitution ring. The reputation of Senator Clinton in the Democratic community is under attack because of the candidate's lukewarm criticism of the hurtfully dismissive comments about Senator Obama's candidacy by her former surrogate, former VP candidate Geraldine Ferraro. The reputation of the U.S. in the world community has been in decline almost since the turn of the century. In all three cases, when the magic is over, there is hell to pay.

Why is the price so high? It is hard to live with disillusionment. We want to think the best about those leaders in whom we place our trust to do the right thing. We are willing to be followers of those who merit their good reputations because they are believed to be among those who will do the right things. But when we find out that is not the case, the magic is over. Things are not the same thereafter for loyal followers.

Eliot Spitzer -- The former governor of New York made his reputation by rooting out white collar law-breakers, often the last to be found out in our corporation-run society. The hypocrisy of Spitzer's apparent double standard, and the use of his own methods against him, brought this leader down in a matter of just days. To quote from Intel Dump:

Follow the money. That's the age-old guidance for prosecutors, investigators and journalists who want to get to the bottom of anything. If you can find and document the money trail for any organization, you can usually figure out what it's doing, why, and prove it in court.

According to yesterday's New York Times, that's precisely how the federal government first learned of NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer's indiscretions and alleged criminal conduct. A "suspicious activity report" was filed with the IRS — not because someone suspected him of sexual improprieties, but because his bank thought he might have been hiding cash, possibly the result of corrupt activity.

Senator Hillary Clinton -- The Clintons have had a reputation as fighters for civil rights and helpers in the advancement of opportunities for African Americans since former President Bill Clinton took office. The Clinton administration made far more progress than any other administration in integrating African Americans into positions of true power in that administration and in governance in general. And Senator Clinton's apologies may or may not be enough to repair the damage. Memorandum has the late-evening 3/12 story, "Clinton Apologizes to Black Voters," here via and Devlin Barrett at the AP. To quote:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton did something Wednesday night that she almost never does. She apologized. And once she started, she didn't seem able to stop.

The New York senator, who is in a tight race with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, struck several sorry notes at an evening forum sponsored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a group of more than 200 black community newspapers across the country.

U.S. President George W. Bush -- The decline of the reputation of the United States as the nation to whom all others look for leadership seems unprecedented in history. The current administration's record of torture, lying, law-breaking, fiscal profligacy, and subversion of world community institutions would be hard to top by any subsequent administration. To quote the article from the International Herald Tribune (3/12/08):

Bernard Kouchner, the foreign minister of France and a longtime humanitarian, diplomatic and political activist on the international scene, says that whoever succeeds President George W. Bush may restore something of the United States' battered image and standing overseas, but that "the magic is over."

When the magic is over, we have several choices of action. We can deny that anything is different, hoping against hope that "this is all a bad dream." We can pile on, getting caught up in endless cycles of recrimination. Or we can allow ourselves to feel angry for a time about being disillusioned, and then move on to acceptance and forgiveness (not for the offender but for ourselves). Remember, just the passage of time alone can make things better, if we allow it by letting go.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Sex and the shitty

By Carl

I think it's about time to weigh in on a topic that's troubled me all of my adult life, but has been crystalized this week with the scandal surrounding soon-to-be former
New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.

The topic is morality.

I think we can all agree, left and right, that the fundamental struggle for humanity is the balance between individual rights versus society's betterment.

I think we can all agree, as well, that no one gets it right. Or wrong, for that matter.

We liberals are often accused of situational ethos: what's good for the goose is not always good for the gander, depending on the circumstances.

In other words, we strive to protect the individual against the "tyranny of the majority," to use Mill's phrase.

The right wing would claim that they uphold society's rule over the "tyranny of the minority".

Well, neither side has either a lock on morality or a lock on consistency, which is where the "details devil" lies.

For example, the right wing hasn't eaten its own when it comes to Senators David Vitter or Larry Craig, two men who also committed adultery and committed crimes in executing those adulteries (Craig's was not a felony, to be sure). Yet the right wing sure was quick to level calls for Spitzer's resignation.

Similarly, rather than admit that the campaign Hillary Clinton has run is a
winning strategy, liberals have painted her as a "Republican lite," as if there was some moral good to come out of running a clean campaign in the primaries, and then gearing up for the general election in a defensive shell.

Myriad other examples abound, of course, and I'll probably include them as this piece goes on, but let me jump ahead a bit.

The fundamental flaw in American society is this: the economic system and the "morality" system are nearly diametrically opposed.

America was created in a Judeo-Christian form, where fair play and compassion for one's neighbors was tantamount.

The American economy was founded in a morally disinterested theory that the individual, striving for his self-betterment, would contribute to society's overall welfare. Yesterday, I wrote how that evolved into a society where
government had to step in to fix deeply entrenched social problems, despite the supposed counterbalance of America's moral code.

See, the thing is, money talks. It is objective, easy to measure, has great utility for everyone, thus makes the perfect vehicle for measuring the progress of a nation.

We talk often about the
Gross Domestic Product.

When was the last time you heard someone talk about the Gross Moral Product of the country?

It is against this backdrop that morality plays out: my morality and your morality and the right wing morality all must compete head-to-head in an environment where winners are easily found.

You know the bumper sticker: "He who dies with the most toys, wins."

In truth, whatever moral code we have is pretty arbitrary, despite the facade that it is strict, Christian, and widely enforced by society.

It's an extension of the dichotomy you raised in Sunday School: Thou shalt not kill, but people fight wars in God's name, or kill abortion doctors, or bomb Federal offices in Oklahoma City.

There's always a loophole.

This "loopholic morality" becomes magnified the closer you come to real power: it's moral for George Bush to lie us into war, some would say, but not moral for Eliot Spitzer to pay to get laid.

(I'm disregarding the legal aspect of the case: a bad, immoral law should not be obeyed anyway.)

I've even heard liberals make the claim that it was OK for Bill Clinton to have a mistress but for Eliot Spitzer to pay for sex was wrong.

Actually, I thought of a rationale for Spitzer that made pretty good sense to me: by not getting involved with "that (generic) woman," Spitzer avoided dragging another person into his sordid psyche, but also he could portray this as a business decision to have sex for relaxation or release or because he was kinky and his wife wouldn't do whatever it was he needed, like, say diapering.

Getting caught with either a mistress or a hooker would be a bombshell, true, but there's an implied contract, I think, in hiring a hooker. It may not be enforceable like attorney-client privilege, but a hooker who blabs about her (or his) clients will soon find he has no clients at all.

All this leads to the point of this post: sexual mores.

If Bill Clinton made the rest of the world, particularly Europe, embarassed for us, what do you think the reaction is about this story in, say, England, which 50 years ago had it's own
"showgirl" scandal, complete with Soviet espionage thrown in as a bonus?

Not surprisingly, they focus on
Sptizer's hypocrisy, being known as a straight-arrow, no nonsense prosecutor. There is something to be said about applying one standard of behavior for yourself and then a different one for others. It's not about sex, it's about standards.

Trouble is, those standards, in this instance, wouldn't exist if it wasn't about the sex. There's the rub.

America has a pretty repressed attitude about nearly all things sexual. Most people find something someone else does abhorrent, deviant, and therefore immoral behavior.

Me, I'm pretty tolerant. I don't care if you're an athletic handsome Lothario who travels the country on business getting laid in every town by frustrated housewives, or a fat ugly bisexual domme wannabe who swaps partners like I'd swap baseball cards, that's OK.

I'd like to think that's the way most people are, but I have a sneaking suspicion, based on how sex gets manipulated and perverted by people for other advantages, that I'm in a minority.

Take the woman who gets pregnant, marries the father, then a few years later kicks him out and demands alimony and child support. Sex was a weapon.

Take the guy who demeans his rival by saying to a potential date that he's a womanizer because he has a lot of female friends who find him attractive. "Fear of sex" as a weapon: "Look at all those chicks around him! Look at how he flirts with them!"

Or just look at the gay marriage struggle. Or the abortion fight. Or the persecution of any politician who has even the slightest hint of impropriety in his demeanor.

In this atmosphere, does it surprise anyone that there are women and men, mostly women, who make a pretty good living by indulging sexual fantasies? We're terrified to ask for anything in a relationship that doesn't involve a man, a woman, and a horizontal space.

And does it surprise anyone that, in a society where normal sexual urges are repressed, channeled, and put into boxes like "marriage", "commitment", "romance", and "fidelity", that people will not only stray, but having strayed and found it exciting and good, stray even further? To the point of self-destruction in "polite" society?

I wonder when America is going to grow up?

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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We don't need no education -- again

By Capt. Fogg

We dont need no education.
We dont need no thought control.
No dark sarcasm in the classroom.
Teachers, leave those kids alone.

-- Pink Floyd

It's not always necessary to apply reductio ad absurdum to a situation. Sometimes things start out at the level of absurdity. You may have read that Michael Sheridan, an eighth-grade honors student in New Haven, Connecticut, was suspended from school, barred from attending an honors dinner and summarily removed as class vice president. Dope? Weapons? Peeking into the girls' locker room? No, he was hungry and bought some skittles from a classmate.

That's right, the school has a no-tolerance "wellness" policy, wellness being a euphemism for health which seems, well, so unhealthy, and "no-tolerance" meaning, for the most part, brainless. Who wants to introduce cogitation into the school system? -- that's just too liberal for America. The comfortable binary form of artificial intelligence that passes for thought in conservative utopias has brought us many examples of kids having had their educational prospects damaged because of aspirin or a nail clipper or items even more trivial. Of course some like to call this sort of thing "politically correct" in their politically correct fashion, or even "liberal" in their self contradictory manner, but I just call it bone headed conservatism. A restriction of rights is not liberal and a judgment as to whether something is allowed under one's political views is ipso facto politically correct. That's why I avoid falling into the tar pit of those terms whenever I can.

Of course the news got out on CNN last night and the sheepish sheep in New Haven had to give the kid a reprieve, the excuse being ignorance of the commandment "thou shalt eat only what, when and where we tell you to." Lets not talk about no tolerance for ignorance please -- my head hurts already.

Michael's "permanent record" will not reflect his sucrose abuse or his illicit candy deals and he will be free to go and not transgress the rules of "wellness" any further. As long as he keeps his boots shiny, pledges to worship god and the flag and avoid high fructose corn syrup, the ridiculous right wing school board of New Haven, Connecticut will allow him some portion of his civil rights and the people who truly love the idea of a country where we all obey the president and think no thoughts against the party and trust in a particular deity will be relieved and will continue to giggle about "liberals."

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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That way madness lies: Olbermann on Clinton, Ferraro, and the appeal to "casual prejudice"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Brilliant Olbermann.

"This is not a campaign strategy. This is a suicide pact." Olbermann urges Clinton to reject it. The problem is, attacking Obama, and doing so by appealing to "casual prejudice," is what the Clinton campaign is now all about. Indeed, for all intents and patterns, it is the campaign strategy. For Clinton to reject it would be to reject her very own campaign.

Which would be the best thing for her to do.

Here's the video. Make sure to watch it in full.

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The appalling bigotry of Sally Kern

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It didn't get much attention when it broke a few days ago, not nearly enough attention -- the national media are alternatively oblivious and complicit with respect to the right-wing agenda that drives the news -- so here's the story:

At a recent event in Oklahoma, Republican Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern gave a speech in which she claimed, among other things, that homosexuality is "the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam" and that proponents of "the homosexual lifestyle" "want to get [children] into the government schools so they can indoctrinate them." She also made the remarkable, and remarkably stupid, claim that "no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted for more than, you know, a few decades."

Note that she referred to Islam as a threat in and of itself. Note, too, that she thinks that gays and lesbians are more of a threat to the United States than terrorists. As for her claim that societies that embrace homosexuality don't last long, societies are only now coming to do so, of course, and I suspect that my country, Canada, will be fine, as will other countries, like the U.K., Spain, and Germany, that have adopted equal rights for -- or, rather, recognized the equal rights of -- gays, lesbians, and others outside the heterosexual "lifestyle."

But why bother responding at length? Kern is an idiot and a bigot. She did not realize her hateful speech was being recorded -- yes, this is what (some) Republicans talk about in private, when they don't think anyone's listening -- but recorded it was, and it made its way onto the Internet, including YouTube (see below). The media didn't pick up the story -- too busy have they been sensationalizing the Obama-Clinton race (and the relatively tame Powers and Ferraro comments, the former much tamer than the latter) -- but some smaller outlets did, as did some in the blogosphere, including Crooks and Liars. Meanwhile, Chuck Wolfe of The Bilerico Project posted an open letter to Kern, and, on the whole, voices were raised in opposition to this appalling bigotry.

But Kern refused to apologize for her remarks -- indeed, she continued to defend them after the fact, claiming that she "said nothing that was not true" and "said nothing out of hate." And it's not just that she made those claims. From what I can tell, she genuinely believes that she was speaking the truth. And therein lies the problem. These bigots, bigots like Kern, actually believe in their own honesty and righteousness. For them, such bigotry just isn't bigotry at all.

What is concerning as well is that Kern is an elected official, not just some crazy bigot spewing hatred from some remote corner of the blogosphere. She is a former social studies teacher who promotes creationism. As a legislator, she is chair of the House Social Services Committee and a member of the Education Committee, and a promoter of creationism, bringing religion into the schools, and anti-gay legislation. (On this last point: "[T]he very first act of this sad, delusional and obsessed woman when she managed to get into the legislature in 2005 was to introduce a bill, H.R. 1039, which urged library officials to restrict children's access to books with homosexual themes. The following year she introduced H.R. 2158, which would have mandated the state to withhold funding to any library that refused to 'segregate' books with homosexual or sexually explicit material from children's sections.")

And on Monday she received a standing ovation from her fellow Republicans in Oklahoma's House of Representatives. Rather than censuring her, which is what she deserves (at a minimum), her colleagues are celebrating her. Yes, it seems, Kern's bigotry plays well with like-minded bigots.

Pam Spaulding has more here, here, and here. (Thank you, Pam, for covering this story so extensively.)

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ferraro finally quits

By Edward Copeland

Days after continuing to defend and escalate her insane comments about Barack Obama getting all the breaks because we know how easy it is for African-American men in the United States, former Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro finally has resigned her post on the finance committee for Hillary's campaign.

Ferraro's statement reads:

"I am stepping down from your finance committee so I can speak for myself and you can continue to speak for yourself about what is at stake in this campaign," Ferraro wrote in a letter to Clinton. "The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you. I won't let that happen."

What's really crazy, as are most things in the upside-down black-is-white, day-is-night world of the Clinton campaign is not only that it took so long for Ferraro to get the boot, but the reluctance of Hillary's campaign to even think it was anything except an "unfortunate" comment after they forced out Obama adviser Samantha Power for daring to correctly identify Hillary as a monster, weeks after they whined to MSNBC about a comment by David Shuster resulted in a two-week suspension of Shuster.

The real head-scratcher came from Clinton campaign manager Maggie Williams, who had the gall to accuse the Obama campaign's reaction to Ferraro remarks as "playing the race card" and a calculated attack on Hillary.

I never thought I'd find political partisans crazier than the Bush true-believers, but Hillary's hard-liners are getting close to that mark as they repeatedly denounce anything perceived as an attack on them, even if it is a reaction to attacks FROM them. As with everything in this campaign, the Clintonistas believe there are different rules for them and for everyone else.

By the way, tune in to Keith Olbermann tonight: He's finally had it as well and will deliver a Special Comment about the way Hillary Clinton's campaign behaves. You go, Keith.

In a related note from last night's Mississippi primary results, exit polls show that Republicans did follow Rush Limbaugh's advice and vote in the Democratic race to help Hillary. 24 percent of her voters were Republicans, nearly 1 in 4 of every vote cast for her.

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The right to vote

By Capt. Fogg

It's too bad the Republicans don't have a candidate worthy of my support, because my feelings about the way the Democratic party esteems my right to vote has me in the mood to kiss the lot of them goodbye. Yes, I live in Florida.

CNN contributor Roland Martin feels otherwise. Our nasty Republican governor should have followed the rules of the Democrats, says he - or at least should have instructed the Florida legislature to "stop grandstanding" by moving up the primary. I wonder whether he has ever seen a governor successfuly "instruct" a legislature, particularly when it comes to insisting that they set aside the needs of the State that elected them in favor of DNC rules.

"But folks, I'm sorry. Knowing full well how the two political hacks --­ also called governors of Michigan and Florida -- deliberately chose to ignore the Democratic Party rules and try to leapfrog the other states, I just don't have any compassion for them,"

says Martin, as though his compassion were worth having, as though it were the Republican governor suffering here and not the voters and contributors of the opposing party. What is worth having is the right to vote and to have a party that puts that right above their bizarre need to have the least relevant states vote first. It isn't the governor - a Republican - who is being disenfranchised Rolly old chap, it's me and my fingers may not yet be cold and dead, but you'll not pull my vote from them without at least being called a smug hypocritical hack trying to make an ethical issue out of your private agenda.

I raised holy hell about the unconstitutionality of the SCOTUS interfering with my state's right to recount its own votes and so did the Democratic party. I was apoplectic when a Republican hack removed tens of thousands of Democrats from the voter rolls in 2000. I feel just as strongly about the Democratic party making my vote irrelevant by putting their rules ahead of the will of the voters and the future of the nation and I say that even though I didn't vote for the winner.

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