2016 election

I, Virginia Bergman, pledge not to vote for a male presidential candidate in 2016 just because he's male.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

One Woman Speaks Out: “The Democratic Party Can Fend for Itself”


So why didn't Democratic Party leaders speak out against the sexist assaults on Hillary Clinton by the liberal media throughout the primary?


Once again I have Tennessee Guerilla Women to thank for linking to an important article. Titled the Democratic Party Maybe Presumes too much - about Women, this one was written by Robin Lakoff, professor of linguistics at UCC Berkeley and published at SFGate, home of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Lakoff discusses “the failure of party leaders to comment on the sexism rampant in the media, especially the liberal media, for months on end;” and she wants to know: “Why did the superdelegates move in such numbers to support Obama? Why did this occur, especially after Clinton victories?”

Lakoff concludes:

“I am reminded of a particularly chilling passage in Vladimir Nabokov's novel "Lolita." Humbert Humbert, after raping the 12-year-old, is pondering why she has come back to his bed. "You see," Humbert tells the reader, "she had absolutely nowhere else to go."

“That's just how I feel. And they want my enthusiastic support? The Democratic Party can fend for itself.”

Must-read at TominPaine: "Barack the Clown"

Photo credits: courtesy of Tominpaine

Go here to read Marc Rubin’s satirical piece at Tominpaine on the latest Howard Dean/DNC scheme to raise money and increase attendance at the upcoming, not-so-open Democratic convention this August.

Shades of the Democratic Primary: Obama Plays the Race Card - Again!

photo credits: AP

Clinton supporters are still shaking their heads in disbelief when recalling the several occasions when the Obama campaign or its supporters accused Bill and/or Hillary Clinton of racism – two political leaders with a long record of fighting for equal rights for women and minority groups. Sean Wilentz, a Princeton historian, debunked these outrageous accusations by the Obama camp in an op-ed titled The Obama Team’s Strategic Use of the Race Card, published in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Eventually, well after the damage was done, Obama publicly hung his head, apologized and admitted during a debate, “The Clintons are not racists.”

Lately, Obama has made several inflammatory remarks accusing the McCain campaign of racism. Jake Tapper in Political Punch at ABC News, has posted a piece titled Did Obama Accuse McCain of Running a Racist, Xenophobic Campaign? Tapper reports several incidents in which Obama has arguably played the race card in his campaign against John McCain.

Tapper begins by quoting Obama’s recent mention of race in his comments about his Republican opponent:

‘“John McCain right now, he's spending an awful lot of time talking about me,’ Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said today in Rolla, Mo. ‘You notice that? I haven’t seen an ad yet where he talks about what he’s gonna do. And the reason is because those folks know they don’t have any good answers, they know they’ve had their turn over the last eight years and made a mess of things. They know that you’re not real happy with them.’

“Obama continued: ‘And so the only way they figure they’re going to win this election is if they make you scared of me. So what they’re saying is, ‘Well, we know we’re not very good but you can’t risk electing Obama. You know, he’s new, he’s... doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency, you know, he’s got a, he’s got a funny name.”’

Read more here.


The Denver Group: Don’t Count Hillary Out!

Hillary is still in the picture.

The Denver Group continues to attract media attention. Yesterday at the Huffington Post, Carol Felsenthal published an interview with Heidi Li Feldman and Marc Rubin, the Denver Group’s co-founders.

Feldman and Rubin effectively made their case for keeping the Democratic convention democratic this August:

“If Heidi Li Feldman, a blogger and a professor of law (and philosophy) at Georgetown University Law Center, and Marc Rubin, a blogger, veteran ad man, and movie and TV writer -- head writer for "The White Shadow" -- happened by, they would say there is no nominee yet, that the two ended the primary/caucus season in "a virtual tie," in Feldman's words, neither of them having the requisite number of pledged delegates to claim the prize. 2118 are needed; Obama got there only with the help of superdelegates who are free, Feldman says, to change their minds until they actually cast a vote at the convention in Denver late next month. That's when, if Feldman and Rubin, who co-founded and are the only official members of The Denver Group, have anything to say about it -- and of course they don't -- the superdelegates, in accordance with DNC rules and bylaws, should be called on to reconsider who is the stronger candidate against John McCain.

“Both candidates, Feldman says, must be placed in nomination "and superdelegates left to vote as they see fit because ....[they] are specifically charged" with the duty of making certain that the party's candidate is electable. She refers to the McGovern Commission that set up the superdelegate system to provide a "safety hatch" after the "McGovern debacle" of 1972. The Denver Group duo claim that superdelegates are having "buyers' remorse," that they are coming to believe that Obama is not electable.”

Read more here.

Must-Watch Video: Leave Barack Alone!

I apologize to my readers this morning for linking to the HuffingtonPost several times. But there are so many items of interest there at present I just couldn’t resist.

A must-watch video titled Leave Barack Alone is introduced as follows:

“What if Britney Spears' most notoriously emotional defender was a fan of Barack Obama too?

“Thanks to Slate (with voiceover by Christopher Beam), now we know. Leave Barack aloooonnnee!!!”

Watch the video here.

"Progressives" Petition Obama to Return to His Principles


Barack Obama’s sudden lunge to the center following the conclusion of the Democratic primary continues to distress many of his most ardent extreme left followers who have usurped the label of progressives. (No one has informed Obama's base yet that authentic progressives don't typically assign negative stereotypes to women or seniors.)

Katrina Vanden Heuvel reports at the Huffington Post an open letter signed by several big-name, so-called progressives urging Barack Obama “to stand firm on the principles he so compellingly articulated in his successful primary fight.”

Vanden Heuvel’s invitation to other members of Obama’s base to sign on reads as follows:

“Please join Phil Donahue, Barbara Ehrenreich, Studs Terkel, Walter Mosley, Gore Vidal, Bill McKibben, Jane Hamsher, Tom Hayden, Zephyr Teachout, Juan Cole, Matt Stoller and many others in signing this open letter which will be delivered to the Obama campaign before the Democratic National Convention begins on August 25.

“We are posting the letter today at TheNation.com.

“The Letter praises the dramatic grassroots movement that has built up around his candidacy.”

Read more here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Obama, the Democrats’ Presumptuous Presumptive Nominee

Many of us out here in the blogosphere have previously pointed out that the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee is more than a little presumptuous. In today’s Washington Sketch, Wapo columnist Dana Milbank has finally got the picture:

“Barack Obama has long been his party's presumptive nominee. Now he's becoming its presumptuous nominee.

“Fresh from his presidential-style world tour, during which foreign leaders and American generals lined up to show him affection, Obama settled down to some presidential-style business in Washington yesterday. He ordered up a teleconference with the (current president's) Treasury secretary, granted an audience to the Pakistani prime minister and had his staff arrange for the chairman of the Federal Reserve to give him a briefing. Then, he went up to Capitol Hill to be adored by House Democrats in a presidential-style pep rally.

“Along the way, he traveled in a bubble more insulating than the actual president's. Traffic was shut down for him as he zoomed about town in a long, presidential-style motorcade, while the public and most of the press were kept in the dark about his activities, which included a fundraiser at the Mayflower where donors paid $10,000 or “more to have photos taken with him. His schedule for the day, announced Monday night, would have made Dick Cheney envious:

“11:00 a.m.: En route TBA.

12:05 p.m.: En route TBA.

1:45 p.m.: En route TBA.

2:55 p.m.: En route TBA.

5:20 p.m.: En route TBA.”

Read more:

Denver Group’s Latest Ad Features Obama’s Wise Grandmother

Today, July 30, the Denver Group’s latest ad appears in the print edition of CQ Daily, occupying a full page. The Denver Group explains: “We thought it high time to remind Democratic party leaders about the nature of fair play. We will remind these leaders as often as we can, with continuing ad buys including TV and other newspapers, with the continued support of those who have so generously donated to The Denver Group.”

Money Changes Everything : Superdelegates Are For Sale

A must-watch video titled Money Changes Everything : Superdelegates Are For Sale. Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLPoV4diMjk

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Defining “Open Convention” for the DNC

Since I’m no longer a member of the Democratic Party, I didn’t receive the email from the DNC that Heidi Li Feldman responded to yesterday at her blog. Reading this latest outrage from Democratic Party officials confirmed the wisdom of my choice to register this time around as non-affiliated.

It was necessary for Heidi Li, a law professor at Georgetown University, to define “open convention” for the DNC.

To read the DNC’s email to party members and Heidi Li’s post titled The DNC stoops to new lows in latest propaganda, go here.

To read Marc Rubin’s response to the same email from the DNC, go here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

And It Came to Pass: the Story of Obama’s Pilgrimage

Gerard Baker at the Times Online has gifted his readers with a fine piece of satire describing Barack Obama’s recent overseas tour. It begins:

“And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.

“The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.

‘“When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: ‘Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?’”

To read the story in its entirety or better yet, watch Gerard Baker read it on video, go here.

Will Democratic Party Leaders Act in the Spirit of the Founding Fathers?

I’ve long been passionate about the democratic political process, and I’ve followed presidential campaigns with heightened interest from the first stump speech to the inaugural address. Until this year’s race, I’ve been a dedicated member of the Democratic Party. Regular readers of Katalusis are aware that several weeks ago, I re-reregistered as non-affiliated. I felt that was the only means left to me to let the DNC know that its sexist efforts, in collusion with the male-dominated media, to force Hillary Clinton out of the race, beginning shortly after the Iowa caucus, were simply not acceptable.

Even as Clinton was being browbeaten by party leaders to restrain her criticism of Obama while she was still a contender, those of us who have continued to support her have been ordered by many of our friends and acquaintances in the Democratic Party to more or less “sit down, shut up, and get with the program.” We’ve been repeatedly warned that if we do not get in line, we’ll be solely to blame for a McCain presidency that will bring great harm to all people throughout the world.

Merely mentioning that Obama has not yet been officially elected as the party’s nominee is enough to send chills down the spines of faithful Democrats. They tremble in fear that any controversy at the convention will mean they’re going to once again lose their chance to win the White House. Accordingly, those of us in rebellion are supposed to choke back our outrage at the treatment of Hillary Clinton, easily the best-qualified candidate in the race, and prepare ourselves to humbly cast our vote in November for the lesser of two evils.

Heidi Li Feldman’s post today at Heidi Li’s Potpourri reminds us the founders of our nation did not appear to think “the way to accomplish their objectives was to put on a unity show.”

In refuting a contention made by Gordon S. Woods, the author of Revolutionary Characters, Feldman states:

“Professor Woods also holds that today's politicians simply cannot act in the principled fashion he attributes to the founders, precisely because the founders created a country founded on the idea of egalitarian democracy, with a large roll for the non-elite general population. Professor Woods argues that such a population cannot handle political figures who act on principle, who combine idealism with pragmatism. In short he thinks that the very polity created by the founders makes it impossible for politicians today to act as they did.”

Feldman continues:

“With all respect to Professor Woods - and my respect for his work and scholarship is tremendous, I disagree. I think Americans today are starved for principled political leadership, sick of panderers, and tired of pretenses as opposed to honest talk about everything ranging from whether the Democratic Party actually already has a nominee to whether U.S. foreign policy is mitigating, fostering or leaving unaffected the outbreaks of terrorism around the world.

‘“I think that millions of ‘ordinary’ and ‘common’ Americans yearn for leaders who combine substantive ideas with political savvy. Many of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's supporters admire precisely this about her. She is a woman of ideas and a woman of tremendous political skill able to take ideas and use politics to put them into practice. And she is a hero to millions of Americans, who seem to recognize this combination in her.

“And millions of Americans are disenchanted with a Democratic Party whose top officials refuse to recognize Senator Clinton as a potential nominee for the Party's candidate for President this year. Those same millions are even more disenchanted by the ceaseless parade of half-truths and evasions the DNC's top leaders put forth about the state of the Party, whose support it needs to survive as an institution, and whether it can muster that support both this fall and in the years to come.

“It may seem radical to ask Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi, among others, to act in the principled and high-minded way that Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Adams, and the other founders did. But as the ordinary people whose lives, liberty and opportunities to pursue our happiness the founders fought for, I think it would be far more radical - and certainly sad - if we did not demand this of Dr. Dean, Speaker Pelosi, and the rest. If we do not demand that that Democratic Party leaders act in the best traditions of the founders, then we are saying that we have given up on the project that they begun: an ongoing republican democracy where citizens and politicians alike may have real and public differences, but where they share ideals of justice and fairness to all.”

Feldman concludes:

“Even though I hold Professor Woods' scholarship in the highest esteem, I would like to see today's Democratic politicians discredit his pessimism about the possibility of politicians today acting in the spirit and tradition of the revolutionary characters. Moreover, I believe that if Dr. Dean, Speaker Pelosi, and all major Democrats started acting more like the founders and less like Professor Woods thinks politicians now have to act, the great project that is the United States of America would come through with flying colors.”

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What Did Obama Learn in Iraq?

During the run-up to the war in Iraq, Barack Obama was a part-time Illinois state legislator who made a speech opposing the US invasion at an anti-war rally. Throughout the Democratic primary, Obama repeatedly proclaimed his good judgment in opposing the war from the beginning, but not once have I ever heard him mention he was not a member of the US Senate at the time the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq was passed. As a result, thousands of Americans no doubt continue to believe that Obama actually voted against the Iraq War resolution.

Few question any longer that the male dominated media (97% males in decision-making roles) favored Obama versus Clinton in the primary. So I was surprised this morning to read John Dickerson’s article in Slate titled What Did Obama Learn in Iraq? The senator hasn't shown us much yet. In reviewing the history of Obama’s position on the Iraq War, Dickerson, Slate’s chief political correspondent, actually provides the complete facts before discussing Obama’s take on the results of the surge.

Dickerson contends:

“These are not academic questions. Some people would say the vote on the surge was one of Obama's most important as a senator. As Obama pointed out regularly during the Democratic primaries with Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, both of whom voted to authorize the Iraq war, a person's past vote tells you something about his or her judgment. Obama has talked a lot about the clarity of his judgment in opposing the Iraq war. He also once suggested that if he'd been forced to cast an actual vote for or against the Iraq war as a senator, his view might have been complicated. On the surge, we get a chance to watch Obama grapple with similar complexities in real time. Or, at least, we should.”

Dickerson reports:

“Before Obama flew to Baghdad, I asked his top foreign-policy adviser, Susan Rice, what kinds of questions he'd asked of his advisers over the months to test whether his Iraq withdrawal plan still matched the realities on the ground in Iraq. Rice gave me no examples. And now that the trip is over, we have no better sense of how Sen. Obama thinks about Iraq. It's not that I expect grand revelations. But Obama still holds the same policy views he did more than a year and a half ago, even though a lot has changed since then in Iraq, and a lot of those events appear to contradict his earlier views. We know that Obama hasn't moved, but we don't know, really, why that's so.”

To read more of Dickerson’s thoughtful analysis of Obama’s current position on the Iraq War, go here.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The John Edwards “Love Child” Story

Alex Koppelman at Salon summarized on Friday the latest reports on the John Edwards “love child” story. Koppelman begins:

“The sordid story of an alleged affair between former Sen. John Edwards and Rielle Hunter has popped up again, courtesy of a National Enquirer article saying that the paper's reporters caught Edwards going to meet with Hunter and the couple's purported "love child" at a Los Angeles hotel.

“I know what you're thinking: Why even bother with anything printed by the Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid you probably think of as the kind of "newspaper" that focuses on rumors that Elvis Presley is alive -- and leading a band of rampaging space aliens? That's certainly the message Editor and Publisher's Greg Mitchell sent in an item he published at the Huffington Post on Friday. That's not really the Enquirer's niche, though. It gets confused with publications like the defunct Weekly World News, but in fact the Enquirer is surprisingly good at reporting on these kinds of stories, and it has a decent track record with them. It was the Enquirer that published the photo of Donna Rice sitting on Gary Hart's lap. It was the Enquirer that broke the story of Rush Limbaugh's addiction to painkillers. And new information about the Edwards story makes the Enquirer's reporting on it look more solid.”

Koppelman continues:

The Enquirer had first alleged that Edwards and Hunter were having an affair last year; it later reported that Hunter was pregnant with Edwards' child, though Andrew Young, a friend of Edwards', has said the baby is his. The latest chapter in the saga happened earlier this week, when reporters from the paper claimed that they spotted Edwards -- and confronted him -- at the Beverly Hilton on Monday night after being told beforehand that the former Democratic vice-presidential nominee would be there to meet with Hunter and the baby.

“These stories have largely been ignored by the mainstream press, but new details that emerged Friday lend some credibility to the Enquirer's account, though they're not proof of it. FoxNews.com has now published a story based on an interview with one of the security guards at the hotel, who gave an account of intervening ‘between a man he identified as former Sen. John Edwards and tabloid reporters who chased down the former presidential hopeful.”’
Read More:

Rising Above the Fascism of America’s Extreme Left and Extreme Right

In the heat of the Democratic primary, the netroots were on the leading edge of the extreme left. Predominantly young, white, and male these kings of the internet could be accurately described as progressive in most ways other than their ugly sexism and misogyny, which they unleashed on Hillary Clinton, and their equally cruel and abusive ageism targeting John McCain.

I soon concluded there was little difference between the extreme left and the extreme right, as they obviously mirror each other in their fascist behavior.

Charles M. Blow’s op-ed in today’s NY Times concurs with my conclusion. He begins:

“Can you hear that? I can. It’s the sound of political action committees and party extremists sharpening their wedge issues and setting the timers on their bombshells. The fall’s battle is looming. It’s going to get ugly.”

Here’s the picture, Blow explains:

“Once again they’ll cast the opposition as binary caricatures to rally their bases, swing the independents and capture the defectors.

“The left will be reduced to fist-bumping blacks and intellectual elites with gun aversions and gay agendas. An amoral, tale-tucking lot that coddles criminals, raises taxes and has gone Chicken Little over global warming.

“The right will be lambasted as ultra-conservative cretins who want to conflate the Constitution and the Bible, are pro-life before birth and pro-death after trial and blindly follow war-hungry fear-mongers who obsess over “terrorists” like a Tootsie Roll commercial.

“And, never the twain shall meet. Left or right? That narrow view is just wrong. Americans are much more complex. Sadly, battle cries drown out nuance in campaigns.”

Blow guides us to a deeper understanding of the major issues our country is facing:

“So, in these relative calm days of summer, with Barack Obama on his way back from a rock-star tour of the other side of the pond and John McCain shadowboxing the media stateside, let’s pause and recognize that Americans overwhelmingly agree on many of the big issues and are changing their minds on others. It’s just that those shifting views, when taken as a whole, don’t neatly line up with either party’s platform.

“Here are a few examples, according to Gallup polls taken over the last eight years:

“• Six in 10 Americans believe that conservation should be emphasized to solve the energy problem, 7 in 10 favor the death penalty for murder and don’t want to ban the sale of handguns, and 8 in 10 believe in God but also believe that abortion should be legal, at least under certain circumstances.

“• Nearly half now believe that we are unlikely to win the war in Iraq and that the war has made us less safe from terrorism.

“• An increasing number of people believe that religion as a whole is losing its influence on American life and an increasing number want it to have less influence.

“• While more bemoan the worsening state of moral values in the country, we are increasingly shifting our opinion on what is morally acceptable. Now most believe that getting divorced, engaging in premarital sex and having babies outside of marriage are morally acceptable. Nearly half also say that gay relationships are morally acceptable.”

In effect, as Blow explains, the middle ground is the higher ground to which we are called:

“Remember this when the attack ads start up and the divisive rhetoric starts to bore into our brains. Remember that campaigns are not just about the people on the placards but about parties and power, and that the wizards behind the curtains specialize in amplifying differences that stoke our fears. Remember, and resist.”

I suggest we do more than resist. It is especially important for Americans to stand up and let our political leaders and the media know that discrimination and hate mongering against any group of people - whether it’s based on religion, race, gender, age, sexual preference, or national origin – will no longer be tolerated.

P.S.
It’s past time for members of the netroots to grow up.

Friday, July 25, 2008

When Obama’s Not So Kewl Anymore, and the Kewl Kidz Jump Ship

Every so often I come across a reader’s comment out in the blogosphere that makes as much or more sense than the original article, or it is so to the point that I can’t resist posting it here at Katalusis.

“Crosspatchon” was responding to Obama’s Unforgivable Stumble in Germany by the Strata-Sphere's AJStrata, who was unhappy with Obama over his decision not to visit wounded American troops in Germany.

Crosspatchon (comment is in dark red) doesn’t zero in on AJStrata’s specific criticism; instead, he tackles the Obama phenomenon in general:

# crosspatchon 25 Jul 2008 at 7:30 pm

Supporting Obama is the fashion right now among the “hipsters”. Once it becomes socially “ok” to criticize him, his support will melt like a stick of butter in Gerlach on Labor Day.

He peaked too soon, by the time election day comes, he will be “so 5 minutes ago”. It’s just empty rhetoric by a politician whose only claim to fame in national politics is being a one-term US Senator.

I am already starting to hear the cracks appearing in talk from people in the San Francisco Bay area.

The song goes kinda like this: Obama runs for office. It becomes the “counter-culture” thing to do to support him. It means you are one of the Kewl Kidz. Then everyone else wants to be like the Kewl Kidz and jump on the bandwagon. Then it isn’t so Kewl anymore to be with the mainstream … so the Kewl Kidz jump ship and maybe support Hillary or if they want to be REALLY daring, find a way to rationalize how one can be for McCain since he isn’t really all that “Republican”. And that is the point where Obama’s artificial horizon indicator begins to read negative.

Crosspatchon has precisely summed up my own take on Obama’s candidacy since day one.

A Presumptuous Presumptive Democratic Nominee Could Lose in November

Toby Harnden, US editor of the Daily Telegraph of London, has a word of warning for the Democratic party’s presumptive nominee, Barack Obama. Harnden begins:

“There was a spring in Barack Obama's step and a sense of heady excitement in the air as he took to the stage beside Berlin's Victory column for his latest Big Speech. Members of his expansive entourage could have been forgiven for dreaming about the West Wing offices they will occupy in January.

“By any yardstick, the first half of the Illinois senator's foreign tour was everything his campaign staff had wished for and a little bit more. Wherever he went, world leaders wanted to bask in his reflected glory as the presumed next president.”

Harnden reports Obama’s successes on his trip abroad while seemingly upstaging John McCain at every turn:

‘“Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq's welcoming gift was an endorsement of Obama's troop withdrawal plan. King Abdullah of Jordan was happy to be his limo driver in Amman while Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted she ‘wouldn't resist’ another presidential back massage.

“No wonder some in corridors of London's Foreign Office fear that Obamamania has taken such a grip on 10 Downing Street that the eagerness of Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his acolytes to get a sprinkling of the stardust might alienate John McCain”

But here’s Harnden’s warning to the rock star candidate:

“Obama is the presumptive Democratic nominee. Americans admire self-confidence up to a point, but fueling the notion that he's a presumptuous nominee is a good way to lose in November.”

Catch Up Time at Home in St. Paul

I made it back to Minnesota yesterday around noon after attending my family reunion in northwestern Ohio and spending several pleasant days at the country home of my niece and her husband. We rose at 4:00 a.m. yesterday to make my early morning flight to Chicago and then on to Minneapolis-St. Paul - I was pretty drowsy by the time I got home.

I didn’t spend too much time on my vacation following news reports of Obama’s trip. Interesting to note that despite all of the adulation Obama received from the media, RCP’s latest national average shows the rock star candidate with only a 4.2 lead over McCain.

For those of you who have been following the Denver Group’s efforts to keep the Democratic primary democratic this August, Heidi Li’s Potpourri this morning provides the essential convention rules going forward:

“The Call to the Convention serves as a blueprint or governance document specifying how the convention will be convened and what will happen there. The first parts deal with how people other than superdelegates (or as they are officially called "automatic delegates) can qualify to become delegates to the National Convention. The later sections specify how the Convention is to operate.”

Read more here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hillary Clinton Sounds the Alarm on Behalf of Women's Rights

Today is the last day of my vacation in Ohio, and I'll be back in St. Paul tomorrow (Thursday). While scanning news sources this morning, I came across this op-ed by Hillary Clinton in which she takes on the Bush Administration for once again trying to undermine women's rights. As always, Sen. Clinton's knowledge of the issues and sense of right and wrong shines through. She begins:

'"The Bush administration is up to its old tricks again, quietly putting ideology before science and women's health. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is poised to put in place new barriers to accessing common forms of contraception like birth control pills, emergency contraception and IUDs by labeling them "abortion." These proposed regulations set to be released next week will allow healthcare providers to refuse to provide contraception to women who need it. We can't let them get away with this underhanded move to undermine women's health and that's why I am sounding the alarm."'

Read more here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Media's Ongoing Love Affair with Obama

Vacationing at home in Ohio where I grew up has been a heartwarming and relaxing experience these past few days. The rain clouds melted away on Sunday in time for a great family reunion with 56 family members present.

Needless to say, I haven't spent much time following Barack Obama's travels abroad in his last minute attempt to burnish his foreign policy credentials; I think he would have done a lot better by fulfilling his responsibilities in the Senate some time ago and convening at least one oversight hearing on Afghanistan.

From quickly scanning news sources this evening, it appears the media has been trailing after the Democratic party's presumptive nominee on his trip and as usual swooning at his feet wherever he stops.

Not surprisingly, Rasmussen has just reported poll results that half of Americans think the press is trying to help Sen. Barack Obama win the presidential election.

The poll also found:

'"Asked a backward-looking question, about which 'major presidential candidate' – Obama, McCain, or Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton – had received the most favorable coverage overall, 57 percent said it was Obama. Twenty-one percent of respondents named McCain, with 11 percent choosing Clinton."

We knew that.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

When Obama’s Away, Wapo Will Play, er, Investigate!

Yikes! While Barack Obama is off touring war zones and visiting Europe, the Washington Post decides to call him to account for not following the rules he set out in campaign financing:

“IT WASN'T so long ago -- last September, to be specific -- that a senator with a particular interest in campaign finance reform introduced a bill to provide important transparency in presidential campaigns. The measure, S. 2030, would require presidential campaigns to report the names of fundraisers who bring in "bundles" of individual contributions totaling $50,000 or more. The campaigns would have to report the occupations of the bundlers and the specific amounts they are credited with raising. This was a terrific idea. It's too bad that the bill's sponsor, Barack Obama, is failing to follow the rules he set out.

“If you spend enough time hunting around on Mr. Obama's Web site, you might be able to unearth a list of his bundlers. (Hint: go to http://barackobama.com, click on "contact us," click on "answer center," click on category "fundraising," go to Answer 24.) You will see the names of those who bundle between $50,000 and $100,000 for Mr. Obama, the $100,000-to-$200,000 folks, and the $200,000-and-up crowd. Recently, prodded by a letter from campaign finance reform groups, and after the New York Times pointed out that the Obama campaign had not updated its bundler list for months, the Web site added a flotilla of names, along with each bundler's city and state. However, the Web site does not provide the bundlers' occupations or employers, although those should be readily available to the campaign from the bundlers' individual contributions.”

Read more here.

Obama on the Ground in Afghanistan

At the NY Times, Carlotta Gall and Jeff Zeleny report:

“Senator Barack Obama arrived in Afghanistan Saturday morning, opening his first overseas trip as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, to meet with American commanders there and later in Iraq to receive an on-the-ground assessment of military operations in the United States’ two major war zones.”

Read more here.

P.S.

I'm glad the NY Times identified Obama as the "presumptive" Democratic presidential nominee. It's too easily forgotten that he has not yet been officially nominated at the convention.

A Family Reunion on the Anniversary of the First Women’s Rights Convention

It was just coincidence that my family planned its reunion on the weekend of the 160th anniversary of the first women’s rights convention.

Today, July 19, 2008, I'll be traveling from St. Paul to near Findlay, Ohio where I graduated from high school more years ago than I care to admit. Tomorrow we’ll gather at a local park for a picnic and lots of fun and games for both grown-ups and kids - I’m looking forward to pitching a few horseshoes.

It’s been awhile since the last time I was back home in Ohio, and I’m planning to spend a few days there before returning next Friday, July 25, 2008. I’ll continue to post at Katalusis from time to time, as I want to keep up with Barack Obama’s trip abroad. So please do check back.

In the meantime, best wishes to all Katalusis readers on the anniversary of the first women’s rights convention. If you missed it earlier, you can read Sen. Hillary Clinton’s letter commemorating the event here.

Obama Reaches for Ronald Reagan’s Mantle

Photo credits: Composite image by Politico.com

It was customary during the Democratic primary for the Obama campaign to dismiss the achievements of the Clinton Administration and smear Bill and Hillary Clinton with whatever false charges were handy; for example, a favorite ploy was labeling the Clintons as racists.

But the real kicker by BO and his followers has been their repeatedly expressed admiration for Ronald Reagan, aka “the Great Communicator.” At Politico this morning, July 19, 2008, David Paul Kuhn reminds readers of how Obama keeps returning to Reagan:

“It could have been a coincidence when Barack Obama gave a major policy speech last week at a building named after Ronald Reagan. But it comes from the same campaign that until yesterday had pushed to hold a major foreign policy address at the Brandenburg Gate, where Ronald Reagan in 1987 famously demanded of his Soviet counterpart, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!’

“During his bid for the presidency, Obama has repeatedly praised the political gifts of Reagan, the modern president most revered by Republicans, and whose policies are still held in contempt by many leading liberals.

“A year ago Obama compared Reagan favorably to President Bush in a primary debate while defending his pledge to meet directly with the leaders of hostile nations without preconditions. ‘Ronald Reagan called [Russia] an evil empire,’ said Obama, but he also ‘spoke to the Soviet Union.’

“In January, Obama came under fire from within his party after casting himself as an emotive heir to Reagan. ‘Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America,’ Obama told a Nevada newspaper in January, noting that Reagan ‘tapped into what people were already feeling, which is we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.’

“David Bonior, then the campaign manager for John Edwards, charged that Obama was ‘wrong, frightfully so, in using Ronald Reagan as an example of voters reaching for change. The breadth of change Ronald Reagan brought was crippling for millions of Americans.”’

Read More.

Friday, July 18, 2008

On Women’s Rights, the Media is Still 160 Years Behind

Statue of Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the U.S. Capitol. CREDIT: Horydczak, Theodor. "Statues and Sculpture. Suffrage Leaders Mott, Anthony, and Stanton in U.S. Capitol Basement." Circa 1920-1950. Washington as It Was: Photographs by Theodor Horydczak, 1923-1959, Library of Congress.

Saturday, July 19, 2008 marks the 160th Anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention commemorated by Sen. Hillary Clinton in a letter to her friends and supporters posted earlier at Heidi Li’s Potpourri.

Today, Heidi Li Feldman, author of the above blog, posted Chapter IX of Eighty Years And More: Reminiscences 1815-1897 by Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) New York: T. Fisher Unwin, 1898.

Chapter IX is titled The First Women’s Rights Convention, and as I read Stanton’s words, I was reminded that as far as the media is concerned, women haven’t come very far. Stanton describes the first women’s rights convention held on July 19 and 20, 1848 as “in every way a grand success.”

But, much to the surprise of those who had organized it, the media offered a different take on the convention. Stanton reported:

'“No words could express our astonishment on finding, a few days afterward, that what seemed to us so timely, so rational, and so sacred, should be a subject for sarcasm and ridicule to the entire press of the nation. With our Declaration of Rights and Resolutions for a text, it seemed as if every man who could wield a pen prepared a homily on 'woman's sphere.' All the journals from Maine to Texas seemed to strive with each other to see which could make our movement appear the most ridiculous.”'

Some 160 years later, as I posted earlier, a CBS News poll showed that nearly half of voters (45 percent) thought the media had been harder on Sen. Hillary Clinton than they had been on other candidates. Sixty-seven percent of those who thought the media has been harder on Clinton felt that it was at least somewhat the result of her gender.

In the same post, I also noted that Carol Jenkins, the president of the Women’s Media Center, recently reported in the Christian Science Monitor: ‘“Research from the Annenberg Public Policy Institute found that just 3 percent of the ‘clout' positions – the owners, publishers, and other ultimate decision makers – are women. The net effect of this is that almost everything we know about our world is cast through the male perspective. Women are just beginning to catch on to this fact.”’

As we pause this Saturday to recognize the efforts made on our behalf by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and many others of her time, let’s remember that we still have a long way to go and continue to hold the media to account for widespread gender bias that very likely cost Sen. Hillary Clinton the Democratic nomination.

Denver Group’s Ads Hit a Nerve with Howard Dean

Photo credits: Evan Vucci/AP

Chris Bowers at Open Left yesterday, July 17, 2008, summarized a 20-minute interview with Howard Dean. Evidently Dean attempted to smear the Denver Group, founded by Heidi Li Feldman and Marc Rubin, for running ads recently in the Chicago Tribune and Congressional Quarterly demanding that Hillary Clinton’s name be on the ballot at the Democratic convention in August.

In response to Dean’s reported remarks, Feldman and Rubin, on behalf of the Denver Group, have published an open letter to Dr. Dean, which begins:

“Dear Dr. Dean,

Through the wonders of the internet The Denver Group has learned that you have reportedly discussed us in an interview today. Since the purpose of our ads has been to make our points partly to you as well as the rest of the DNC and Democrats as a whole, normally we'd be pleased to know they are getting through to you. But based on the interviewer's characterization of your comments, we don't think you actually know much about The Denver Group, its founders, and its goals. The interviewer writes:

“When asked about the ads criticizing him and Speaker Pelosi for Clinton supposedly not being on the ballot at the convention, he [Howard Dean] scoffed. Clinton will be on the ballot at the convention, and will be speaking there. Dean indicated that the rules were so clear on this matter, that the groups running these ads and spreading these rumors must be associated with the other internet rumors going around, such as Obama being a Muslim. He also speculated that McCain supporters might be behind these rumors.”

Read the Denver Group’s entire open letter here.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Letter from Senator Clinton



In recognition of the 160th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, Senator Hillary Clinton has written a letter to all her friends thanking them for their support. Read Sen. Clinton's letter here.

Keeping Hillary Clinton’s Name on the Ballot in Denver


Marc Rubin posted a heads up for the latest ad from the Denver Group at Heidi Li’s Potpourri. Published in the CQ Daily on July 17, Rubin notes the ad targets Hill Democrats and other major DC players. The ad asserts Hillary Clinton’s right to be on the ballot in Denver, pointing out that in 1932 FDR won only on the fourth ballot in a contentious convention.

In bold letters, the ad asks if Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi would have kept FDR's name off the ballot.

To see an enlarged version of the ad, click here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Daily Show: New Yorker Cover Finally Gets Some Laughs

Jon Stewart on the Daily Show uses humor to put into perspective the “controversial” New Yorker cover that has been condemned by both the Obama and the McCain campaigns and has had the media in an uproar for the past two days. Watch the video here.

Today’s Must-Reads at Guerillawomen

Katalusis readers owe it to themselves to check out today’s edition of Guerillawomen for news of a crowd erupting in applause at Obama’s mention of Hillary Clinton; definition of Obamania; superdelegates switching over to Clinton prior to Denver; a word about the latest polls, Rasmussen Finds Hillary Would Do Better Against McCain:Obama currently leads McCain 47% to 45%, according to Rasmussen, but Hillary beats McCain by 8 points!
and more.

It’s Not Too Late for Democrats to Nominate the Better-Qualified Candidate

Photo credits: AP/Susan Walsh

Two of the three articles I’m linking to this morning are related to the current positions staked out on the war in Iraq by Barack Obama and John McCain. The third article highlights the closeness of the general election race that many would argue ought to be Obama’s to lose.

WaPo Criticizes Obama on Iraq War

An editorial in today’s Washington Post turns Barack Obama’s criticism of President Bush and John McCain for their rigidity on the Iraq War back onto Obama:

BARACK OBAMA yesterday accused President Bush and Sen. John McCain of rigidity on Iraq: "They said we couldn't leave when violence was up, they say we can't leave when violence is down." Mr. Obama then confirmed his own foolish consistency. Early last year, when the war was at its peak, the Democratic candidate proposed a timetable for withdrawing all U.S. combat forces in slightly more than a year. Yesterday, with bloodshed at its lowest level since the war began, Mr. Obama endorsed the same plan. After hinting earlier this month that he might "refine" his Iraq strategy after visiting the country and listening to commanders, Mr. Obama appears to have decided that sticking to his arbitrary, 16-month timetable is more important than adjusting to the dramatic changes in Iraq.

Read more:

Obama's Web Site Deletes Surge References

Touching on the related matter of Obama’s initial opposition to the surge, Andrew Malcolm's post at Top of the Ticket (the LA Times) reports how the Obama campaign has lately deleted relevant references on its Web site:

“A funny thing happened over on the Barack Obama campaign website in the last few days.

“The parts that stressed his opposition to the 2007 troop surge and his statement that more troops would make no difference in a civil war have somehow disappeared. John McCain and Obama have been going at it heavily in recent days over the benefits of the surge.

“The Arizona senator, who advocated the surge for years before the Bush administration employed it, says the resulting reduction in violence is proof it worked with progress on “15 of 18 political benchmarks and Obama's plan to withdraw troops by now would have resulted in surrender.

“When President Bush ordered the surge in January, 2007, Obama said, "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse," a position he maintained throughout 2007. This year he acknowledged progress, but maintained his position that political progress was lacking.

“Tuesday, while Obama gave a speech on foreign policy, the New York Daily News was first to notice the removal of parts of Obama's campaign site listing the Iraq troop surge as part of "The Problem." An Obama spokeswoman said it was just part of an "update" to "reflect changes in current events," as our colleague Frank James notes in the Swamp. The update includes a new section on the rise of al-Qaeda violence in Afghanistan.

“But some might see the updating as part of Obama's skip to the political center now that he's secured the Democratic nomination. "Today," McCain said Tuesday, "we know Sen. Obama was wrong" to oppose the troop surge.

“An old quote of Obama's criticizing the "rash war," which helped him with the left wing of his party and helped differentiate his stand from that of Sen. Hillary Clinton, a primary opponent who voted for the use of force in Iraq, has been replaced on his site by one saying that ending the Iraq war will make America safer. That's more of a general election message.

“And hat tip to the folks over at the Wake Up America blog for their continuing trenchant analyses of the summer campaigns in general and, specifically, for highlighting the video below that contrasts Obama's pre-surge position with a more recent interview of David Axelrod, his chief campaign strategist, denying Obama's statements. A reminder of how carefully voters must listen during these last four campaign months.”

Watch the video here.

Are Obama and McCain Ebbing or Flowing?

Finally, Tom Edsall at the Huffington Post, wants to know if Obama and McCain are ebbing or flowing:

“About a week ago, Republican media specialist Alex Castellanos asked pollster Scott Rasmussen to add a question to one of his surveys: If the November election were between Barack Obama and George W. Bush, who would you vote for? Obama crushed Bush 54-34.

‘“Noting that tracking polls generally show just a 2 to 4 point edge for Obama over John McCain, Castellanos said the most obvious conclusion is that "McCain is not Bush." But more importantly, Castellanos argued, ‘It means McCain is not running against the Obama who won Iowa, but [against] the more polarizing Democrat [who] Hillary Clinton was beating like a drum in Texas, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, etc.’

‘“In the current political environment, according to Castellanos, ‘where the GOP is in disgrace, the President is unpopular, gasoline is 5 bucks a gallon, housing prices are sinking, and the economy is in the toilet,’ Obama's slim lead ‘means he is not an acceptable Democrat. . . . Obama is in big trouble.”’

Following the Rules in Denver

I would argue it’s the Democratic Party that’s in big trouble. But it still has a chance to set matters right in Denver with Hillary Clinton’s name on the ballot and a roll call vote. Obama has not yet been duly elected as the party’s nominee even though the DNC has rented a football stadium for his “acceptance speech.” We can still hope for a last-minute upset by Sen. Clinton, who is easily the better-qualified candidate.

For more on keeping the Democratic Party's convention democratic, check out the Denver Group and Heidi Li's Potpourri.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Only Three Percent of Media Decision Makers Are Women

On June 3, 2008, the day Barack Obama claimed the title of presumptive nominee of the Democratic party, CBS News released a poll that showed that nearly half of voters (45 percent) thought the media had been harder on Clinton than they had been on other candidates. Sixty-seven percent of those who thought the media has been harder on Clinton felt that it was at least somewhat the result of her gender.

I was reminded of the results of that poll today when I read the article by Carol Jenkins in the Christian Science Monitor titled Voices Too Often Missing In Op-Ed Land: Women's. Jenkins, the president of the Women’s Media Center, reports: “Overall, the figures on women syndicated opinion writers have been locked under 25 percent for years now. At the {Washington} Post, 17 of their 19 weekly or biweekly columnists are men. This pattern is repeated in many major publications in the United States.”

Jenkins goes on to say:

“But the problem goes beyond the bylines. The dismal representation of women on the op-ed pages is just the tip of the iceberg. Research from the Annenberg Public Policy Institute found that just 3 percent of the "clout" positions – the owners, publishers, and other ultimate decisionmakers – are women. The net effect of this is that almost everything we know about our world is cast through the male perspective. Women are just beginning to catch on to this fact.”

Given the male dominance of the media, it’s no wonder that throughout her campaign, Hillary Clinton faced an uphill battle against sexism and misogyny in news coverage. Tragically, not once did Democratic party leaders step forward to condemn this outrage. In fact, as I’ve said repeatedly, the DNC was only to happy to collude with the good old boys network in the media to hand the Democratic party’s nomination to Barack Obama.


Come Denver, Superdelegates Could Change Their Minds

Photo credits: courtesy of cdn.channel.aol.com

Craig Crawford’s post yesterday, July 14, at Trail Mix (CQ Politics) summarizes how the importance of the role of the Democratic Party’s superdelegates in choosing the nominee has shifted along with the fortunes of Barack Obama since day one of the primary.

Crawford writes:

“There was a time months ago -- when Hillary Rodham Clinton led the Democratic nomination race -- that party superdelegates were the bad guys according to the rhetoric coming out of Barack Obama's camp.

“Obama supporters trashed the unelected, automatic and unpledged delegates as undemocratic autocrats when it looked as though they might put Clinton over the top. Not anymore.
“With the dust settled on the primary season, one thing is clear: Obama is the presumed nominee thanks only to superdelegates. He never did win enough pledged delegates to reach the winning number, falling about 350 votes short. His expected victory stems from beating Clinton among superdelegates 463-257, according to a tally on Real Clear Politics.

“All the more reason for Obama to make sure that there is no roll call including Clinton's name on the ballot at the national convention -- which a few die hard fans of the former First Lady are still clamoring for.

“Why highlight just how close the Democratic contest really was? And there is certainly no gain for Obama in dwelling on how he had to depend on superdelegates to win the nomination.”

Crawford links to an earlier post at CQ by staff member, Shawn Zeller that reports a conversation with Heidi Li Feldman, a Georgetown University law professor.

Feldman contends: "‘…there’s still ‘no way of predicting’ the outcome should there be a fair vote. That’s because Obama has not secured enough pledged delegates to ensure the magic number of 2,118 needed to claim victory; the Illinois senator has gone past that benchmark only with the pledges of about 390 superdelegates — and they can change their minds at any time up to the moment they cast their ballots.

‘“If they had a meaningful vote, I have no idea who would win. But I know that if Sen. Obama were sure he would win, there wouldn’t be a negotiation about Clinton’s role at the convention.’

“So Feldman, who says she has raised about $100,000 for Clinton, has turned her prowess to raising money for advertising demanding a convention vote, and she has teamed with a fellow pro-Clinton blogger, Marc Rubin, to form the Denver Group to lobby the Democratic National Committee, much of the staff of which has already moved from Washington to Chicago to work for Obama.

“Feldman says she won’t vote for Obama if Clinton doesn’t get a convention vote. Rubin says he might not. Both say they aren’t worried that their efforts will continue to divide Democrats at a time when they should be uniting to take on Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona. In fact, they argue, many Democrats might stay home if they feel Clinton gets short shrift.

‘“What they have to do is make it possible for people to say to themselves that there was a fair and correct process,’ Feldman says.”’

Monday, July 14, 2008

If Only Sexism and Misogyny Were Off Limits, Too!

Controversial New Yorker cover by Artist Barry Blitt

The cover for the current issue of the New Yorker is pasted all over the Internet today, which is kind of unfortunate because it likely distracts from Ryan Lizza’s fine article inside titled Making It: How Chicago Shaped Obama.

The cover by artist Barry Blitt was intended as satire. Blitt told the Huffington Post: “I think the idea that the Obamas are branded as unpatriotic [let alone as terrorists] in certain sectors is preposterous. It seemed to me that depicting the concept would show it as the fear-mongering ridiculousness that it is.”

Blitt and David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, ought to have known better. Racism and religious bigotry have justifiably been completely off limits since day one of the Obama campaign and even satire is now being held accountable for violating sensitive boundaries.

One can only wish that sexism and misogyny were also forbidden; Hillary Clinton might well be the Democratic Party’s nominee today instead of Obama. Clinton is easily the better qualified candidate for the presidency.

In any case, do read Lizza’s article.


Obama Campaign Suffering Cash Shortage

Obama campaign manager, David Plouffe, soliciting cash from supporters.

Not very long ago, Barack Obama’s campaign was so flush with cash he thought it was smart to break his pledge to accept public financing as he anticipated his fundraising would continue at its earlier record-breaking pace.

Now campaign manager, David Plouffe has released a video warning of Republican dominance if Obama’s supporters do not increase their giving. Obama has repeatedly boasted of the 1.7 million donors supporting his campaign with small donations that he claimed would keep him going through November. So it’s a little startling to see David Plouffe in the begging mode in mid-July.

You have to wonder if the threats from the left-wing base, concentrated among the net-roots, to withhold financial support in response to Obama’s recent flip-flopping are having an effect.

Obama’s Latest Position on Iraq and Afghanistan

In his New York Times op-ed this morning, July 14, 2008, Barack Obama once again reminds us “he opposed the war in Iraq before it began…” And as he has done consistently since the day he launched his campaign for the presidency, Obama fails to note that he was not eligible to vote for the Iraq War Resolution at the time it was passed by the U.S. Senate.

Obama was an Ill. state legislator when he took his no-risk stand at an anti-war rally in Chicago. Since his election to the U.S. Senate, Obama has acknowledged he did not know how he would have voted on the Iraq War Resolution had he been eligible, and he has voted in favor of every bill related to funding that war.

In the meantime, Obama was appointed as chair of a foreign relations subcommittee on Afghanistan. When confronted in a debate by Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary, Obama admitted he had never convened the committee on Afghanistan because, as he explained, he had been busy running for president.

In today’s op-ed, Obama carefully repositions himself on both the Iraq War and the war in Afghanistan, which Michael Falcone summarizes in the Caucus (NY Times):

"Senator Barack Obama wants the United States to increase troop levels in Afghanistan by about 10,000 and would support a phased redeployment of troops In Iraq within 16 months of taking office leaving a residual force to carry out “limited missions.”

'"In the article, Mr. Obama also notes: 'In carrying out this strategy, we would inevitably need to make tactical adjustments. As I have often said, I would consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government to ensure that our troops were redeployed safely, and our interests protected.'

"The Times’s Jeff Zeleny points out that Mr. Obama is sharpening his policy toward Iraq and Afghanistan as he prepares to visit both countries later this summer."

Obama’s plans to visit Iraq and Aghanistan for the first time since 2006 were obviously made in response to John McCain’s challenge earlier in the general election campaign.

After his hurry-up visit to America’s two war zones, the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee will trek to Denver where he anticipates his coronation. He may be in for a surprise. The Denver Group recently published an ad in the Chicago Tribune urging that the Democratic Party not become the Boston Tea Party at its convention in August.

The Denver Group’s main goal is for Hillary Clinton’s name to be on the ballot and placed in nomination so superdelegates will have the opportunity for a meaningful vote. To see the ad, go here.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

“How Chicago Shaped Obama” or "Whatever It Takes to Win"

Barack Obama received the title of presumptive nominee of the Democratic party over a month ago, and the latest LATimes/Bloomberg poll shows President Bush’s approval rating is at 23%. Given the circumstances, you could legitimately expect Obama to have a solid lead over his Republican opponent John McCain, especially since Obama has repeatedly charged that McCain’s election would essentially mean a third Bush term. Instead the RCP average shows the national race in a dead heat with Obama barely maintaining a 3.8 lead.

Over at Newsweek, Jonathan Darman suggests that Obama’s falling poll numbers might result from his vigorous efforts to reposition himself after his left-wing base - with a mighty boost from the DNC and the liberal (except for women’s rights) media - propelled him to victory in the primary.

Hang tight, Obama supporters; your candidate knows what he’s doing. Ryan Lizza’s well-researched, 13-page article in the New Yorker, Making It, How Chicago Shaped Obama, could just have easily have been titled, The Obama Saga: Whatever It Takes to Win.

Here’s how the story begins:

“One day in 1995, Barack Obama went to see his alderman, an influential politician named Toni Preckwinkle, on Chicago’s South Side, where politics had been upended by scandal. Mel Reynolds, a local congressman, was facing charges of sexual assault of a sixteen-year-old campaign volunteer. (He eventually resigned his seat.) The looming vacancy set off a fury of ambition and hustle; several politicians, including a state senator named Alice Palmer, an education expert of modest political skills, prepared to enter the congressional race. Palmer represented Hyde Park—Obama’s neighborhood, a racially integrated, liberal sanctuary—and, if she ran for Congress, she would need a replacement in Springfield, the state capital. Obama at the time was a thirty-three-year-old lawyer, university lecturer, and aspiring office-seeker, and the Palmer seat was what he had in mind when he visited Alderman Preckwinkle.”

Palmer lost the congressional race and decided to run again for her former seat in the state senate. Lizza describes below how Obama used Chicago-style operators to win the race:

‘“… Publicly, Obama was conciliatory about the awkward political situation, telling the Hyde Park Herald that he understood that some people were upset about the “conflict between old loyalties and new enthusiasms.” Privately, however, he unleashed his operators. With the help of the Dobrys, he was able to remove not just Palmer’s name from the ballot but the name of every other opponent as well. ‘He ran unopposed, which is a good way to win,’ Mikva said, laughing at the recollection. And Palmer said last week, ‘Anyone who enters Chicago politics and can’t take the rough and tumble shouldn’t be there. Losing the seat was just that—not the end of the world.’”

Here’s the eye-opening message to Obama’s left-wing base in the Democratic party who earnestly believed that Obama represented the answer to all their prayers. As Oprah put it: “He’s the one we’ve been waiting for.”

Lizza explains:

'“Perhaps the greatest misconception about Barack Obama is that he is some sort of anti-establishment revolutionary. Rather, every stage of his political career has been marked by an eagerness to accommodate himself to existing institutions rather than tear them down or replace them. When he was a community organizer, he channelled his work through Chicago’s churches, because they were the main bases of power on the South Side. He was an agnostic when he started, and the work led him to become a practicing Christian. At Harvard, he won the presidency of the Law Review by appealing to the conservatives on the selection panel. In Springfield, rather than challenge the Old Guard Democratic leaders, Obama built a mutually beneficial relationship with them. 'You have the power to make a United States senator,' he told Emil Jones in 2003. In his downtime, he played poker with lobbyists and Republican lawmakers. In Washington, he has been a cautious senator and, when he arrived, made a point of not defining himself as an opponent of the Iraq war.”'

Lizza points out:

“Like many politicians, Obama is paradoxical. He is by nature an incrementalist, yet he has laid out an ambitious first-term agenda (energy independence, universal health care, withdrawal from Iraq). He campaigns on reforming a broken political process, yet he has always played politics by the rules as they exist, not as he would like them to exist. He runs as an outsider, but he has succeeded by mastering the inside game. He is ideologically a man of the left, but at times he has been genuinely deferential to core philosophical insights of the right.”

After reading Lizza’s article in its entirety, no Obama supporter should suffer any further pangs of disillusionment as the remainder of the general election campaign unfolds. The would-be-inheritor of the legend of Camelot (as promoted by Ted and Caroline Kennedy) has already been revealed as just another calculating, poll-driven, old-style Chicago politician.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Obama Is Just Not That Into You: A Play in One Hopeless Act!

Photo credits: Associated Press

There are times when I take politics far too seriously. To preserve my sanity, I have to leave off visiting Web sites like the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Huffington Post, and Politico and instead visit a few of the pro-Hillary blogs that consistently offer professional ethics, brains, creativity, talent, original thought, and a sense of humor in their continued support of the obviously best qualified presidential candidate.

Riverdaughter features a drama today posted by madamab. Here’s the scene:

THE SCENE: The bottom of a church basement, the place of many an AA meeting. Coffee cups, cigarette butts and cookie crumbs are strewn everywhere. A long cafeteria-style table is at the front of the room, with a podium next to it. Seated at the table are MARKOS MOULITSAS, CHRIS BOWERS, ARMANDO LLORENS (BIG TENT DEMOCRAT), JOHN ARAVOSIS, ANDREW SULLIVAN and ARIANNA HUFFINGTON. The boys all wear chinos and button-down shirts. KOS has an orange band around his head - almost like a crown. ARIANNA is wearing her traditional camisole-as-shirt and eyeing the men flirtatiously. SULLIVAN sports a snappy bowtie.

At the podium are the authors of the book, “He’s Just Not That Into You,” GREG BEHRENDT and LIZ TUCILLO. Throughout this whole play, GREG and LIZ speak to the bloggers in a typical motivational-speaker way - in other words, as if they are eight-year-old children.

Above the podium a sign reads, “HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU.” GREG and LIZ also have nametags on. LIZ bangs a gavel to bring the meeting to order.

To enjoy this must-read drama, go here.

Reality Check: What Might Americans Expect from an Obama Presidency?

Posting at Politico, Stanley Renshon, a professor of political science at the City University of New York and a certified psychoanalyst, moves beyond the adulation of the extreme left that propelled Obama to his standing as the Democratic party’s presumptive nominee and the hate-mongering of the extreme right to offer an unusually objective look at what Americans might expect from an Obama presidency.

Renshon’s conclusion is likely to disappoint his already disillusioned left-wing base:
“So if Obama cannot count on either the American people coalescing around a new progressive majority or controlling the terms of the public discussion, what are his leadership options?

‘“The most likely one is a strong emphasis on rhetorical pronouncements and attempts to shape legislative support by the use of bridging euphemisms such as ‘fair,’ ‘common sense,’ ‘reasonable’ and ‘balanced.’ This would be coupled with efforts to make the legislative wording more closely conform to his progressive policy preferences. But this is likely to be difficult to finesse, because opponents would expect him to adopt this strategy and the specific wording of proposed legislation is already widely available for analysis and criticism.

“In the end, an Obama presidency, should it come to pass, would be a highly symbolic one, full of political firsts because of Obama’s racial heritage. It would nonetheless add up to much less than the transformation that he promised and that his followers are demanding.

“This is not to say that his presidency cannot be successful in enacting domestic policy programs. Obama will certainly be able to boast, as most presidents can, of legislative lists proposed and signed into law. It still remains to be seen, however, whether this can be translated into a true progressive realignment.”

To read Renshon’s post in its entirety, go here:

More on Obama’s Promise to Expand Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative

Susan Jacoby at The Secularist’s Corner (Washington Post) probes more deeply into Obama’s promise to expand government funding for faith-based programs if elected president.

Jacoby’s analysis of the church’s influence in the historical civil rights movement is well worth reading. She points out:

“The civil rights movement was not animated by the cooperation of religious institutions but by the moral force of people, both religious and non-religious, who agreed that this country must address racial discrimination as its major problem.”

Read more:

Friday, July 11, 2008

Poll Shows Obama’s Image Damaged as Arbiter of New Politics

The latest Newsweek poll shows Barack Obama already paying a price for his lunges to the Right in recent weeks. Obama now leads McCain by only 3 points, 44 percent to 41 percent. In last month’s Newsweek poll, Obama led McCain by 15 points, 51 percent to 36 percent.

Newsweek’s Jonathon Darman reports:

“Obama's reversal on FISA legislation, his support of faith-based initiatives and his decision to opt out of the campaign public-financing system left him open to charges he was a flip-flopper. In the new poll, 53 percent of voters (and 50 percent of former Hillary Clinton supporters) believe that Obama has changed his position on key issues in order to gain political advantage.

“More seriously, some Obama supporters worry that the spectacle of their candidate eagerly embracing his old rival, Hillary Clinton, and traveling the country courting big donors at lavish fund-raisers, may have done lasting damage to his image as an arbiter of a new kind of politics. This is a major concern since Obama's outsider credentials, have, in the past, played a large part in his appeal to moderate, swing voters. In the new poll, McCain leads Obama among independents 41 percent to 34 percent, with 25 percent favoring neither candidate. In June's NEWSWEEK Poll, Obama bested McCain among independent voters, 48 percent to 36 percent.”

The Newsweek poll shows Obama and McCain with nearly identical favorable and unfavorable ratings of respectively 56 to 32 and 55 to 32.

The Denver Group’s Question: The Democratic Party or the Boston Tea Party?

In fulfilling its mission to help keep the Democratic party democratic, the Denver Group’s first ad appeared today, Friday, July 11 in the Chicago Tribune: “Will Howard Dean and the DNC turn the Democratic Party into the Boston Tea Party?” To see an enlarged online version of the ad, go here.

Founded by Heidi Li Feldman (Heidi Li’s Potpourri) and Marc Rubin (TominPaine), the Denver Group’s specific goals are listed below:

An open convention;

Senator Clinton's name placed in nomination. No symbolic roll call vote;

Speeches allowed by supporters of Senator Clinton on behalf of her candidacy;

A genuine roll call vote with Senator Clinton as a legitimate candidate; and

No coronation.

The Denver Group’s email address: The Denvergroup@Gmail.com

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sen. Clinton a Political Force for Years to Come


When Sen. Clinton stood up and voted no to the Senate’s version of the FISA bill yesterday; whereas, the Democratic Party's newly selected presumptive nominee, Barack Obama, caved and voted yes, the news was blasted around the world.

Once again, we were harshly reminded that the Democratic elite in collusion with the media had forced the more reliable and better-qualified candidate out of the race to hand the nomination to Obama.

But according to the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder, Clinton is wasting no time in gearing up for the future:

“Hillary Clinton has reconstituted her political action committee -- another sign that she plans to remain a political force for years to come.

“Clinton has asked Capricia Marshall, a long-time Clinton friend and former White House social secretary, to be HillPAC's executive director. In that role, Marshall will coordinate Clinton's extracurricular political activities, including her fundraising for other candidates and non-Senate-business political travel.”

Ambinder reminds us:

“In its time, HillPAC was one of the most active PACs on the planet; it went dormant during Clinton's primary campaign and today, its website features a only an e-mail sign-up and a contribution solicitation. When Clinton closes out her campaign account, several staffers and advisers will transfer over to the HillPAC operation. They won't have to move: part of the campaign's Arlington headquarters will become HillPAC central."

Ambinder suggests that fundraising is now the critical issue:

“Fundraising begins soon; the PAC has only about $5,000 cash on hand, according to OpenSecrets.org.

“A Clinton spokesman did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment, but two other Clinton insiders confirmed Marshall's role and the PAC's impending re-opening. Clinton fundraisers have circulated an e-mail asking donors if they wanted to transfer their donations to Sen. Clinton's general election account to the PAC.”

Clinton boasts a considerable following. Ben Smith at Politico recently commented on her powerful email list. Referring to former presidential candidates, Smith reported:

'“It’s Clinton, however, who is the most imposing new member of the legacy candidate club. Aside from her e-mail list, she has direct access to even more supporters on social networks that didn’t exist in 2004. She has more than 158,000 'supporters' on Facebook and more than 191,000 'friends' on MySpace."'
Keep in mind that although the Democratic primary was artificially concluded in June, few if any of Clinton's 18 million supporters have agreed to sit down, shut up, and get with the program dictated by the party elite and its media allies.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Liberal Blogosphere Outraged at Obama

Posting at the Caucus (NY Times) this evening, Michael Falcone reports:

“It should come as no surprise to Senator Barack Obama that his vote today in favor of expanding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is drawing cries of outrage from many corners of the liberal blogosphere. After all, the senator’s own campaign Web site had become a focal point for his supporters to express their displeasure with Mr. Obama’s stance on the bill.”

Falcone includes samples of the above outrage at the one the Left thought it had been waiting for and offers in passing a brief word of acknowledgment for Hillary Clinton for having the courage to vote no on the bill. As usual, Clinton receives only grudging respect from the Left, no matter how badly the once idealized Obama has betrayed its members.

Read more:

Sen. Clinton’s Statement on Voting No on FISA

Photo credits: AP/Susan Walsh

Sen. Hillary Clinton showed outstanding leadership today as she voted no on the senate version of the FISA bill. Below is her statement (courtesy of Jeralyn at TalkLeft):

One of the great challenges before us as a nation is remaining steadfast in our fight against terrorism while preserving our commitment to the rule of law and individual liberty. As a senator from New York on September 11, I understand the importance of taking any and all necessary steps to protect our nation from those who would do us harm. I believe strongly that we must modernize our surveillance laws in order to provide intelligence professionals the tools needed to fight terrorism and make our country more secure. However, any surveillance program must contain safeguards to protect the rights of Americans against abuse, and to preserve clear lines of oversight and accountability over this administration. I applaud the efforts of my colleagues who negotiated this legislation, and I respect my colleagues who reached a different conclusion on today's vote. I do so because this is a difficult issue. Nonetheless, I could not vote for the legislation in its current form.

More...


The legislation would overhaul the law that governs the administration's surveillance activities. Some of the legislation's provisions place guidelines and restrictions on the operational details of the surveillance activities, others increase judicial and legislative oversight of those activities, and still others relate to immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in the administration's surveillance activities.

While this legislation does strengthen oversight of the administration's surveillance activities over previous drafts, in many respects, the oversight in the bill continues to come up short. For instance, while the bill nominally calls for increased oversight by the FISA Court, its ability to serve as a meaningful check on the President's power is debatable. The clearest example of this is the limited power given to the FISA Court to review the government's targeting and minimization procedures.

But the legislation has other significant shortcomings. The legislation also makes no meaningful change to the immunity provisions. There is little disagreement that the legislation effectively grants retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies. In my judgment, immunity under these circumstances has the practical effect of shutting down a critical avenue for holding the administration accountable for its conduct. It is precisely why I have supported efforts in the Senate to strip the bill of these provisions, both today and during previous debates on this subject. Unfortunately, these efforts have been unsuccessful.

What is more, even as we considered this legislation, the administration refused to allow the overwhelming majority of Senators to examine the warrantless wiretapping program. This made it exceedingly difficult for those Senators who are not on the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees to assess the need for the operational details of the legislation, and whether greater protections are necessary. The same can be said for an assessment of the telecom immunity provisions. On an issue of such tremendous importance to our citizens – and in particular to New Yorkers – all Senators should have been entitled to receive briefings that would have enabled them to make an informed decision about the merits of this legislation. I cannot support this legislation when we know neither the nature of the surveillance activities authorized nor the role played by telecommunications companies granted immunity.

Congress must vigorously check and balance the president even in the face of dangerous enemies and at a time of war. That is what sets us apart. And that is what is vital to ensuring that any tool designed to protect us is used – and used within the law – for that purpose and that purpose alone. I believe my responsibility requires that I vote against this compromise, and I will continue to pursue reforms that will improve our ability to collect intelligence in our efforts to combat terror and to oversee that authority in Congress.

FISA Bill Passes: Clinton Votes No; Obama Votes Yes

Photo credits: AP

Glenn Greenwald reports on Salon minutes ago the results of today's Senate vote on FISA:

“The Democratic-led Congress this afternoon voted to put an end to the NSA spying scandal, as the Senate approved a bill -- approved last week by the House -- to immunize lawbreaking telecoms, terminate all pending lawsuits against them, and vest whole new warrantless eavesdropping powers in the President. The vote in favor of the new FISA bill was 69-28. Barack Obama joined every Senate Republican (and every House Republican other than one) by voting in favor of it, while his now-vanquished primary rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, voted against it. The bill will now be sent to an extremely happy George Bush, who already announced that he enthusiastically supports it, and he will sign it into law very shortly.

“Prior to final approval, the Senate, in the morning, rejected three separate amendments which would have improved the bill but which the White House had threatened would have prompted a presidential veto. With those amendments defeated, the Senate then passed the same bill passed last week by the House, which means it is that bill, in unchanged form, that will be sent to the White House -- just as the White House demanded.”

Greenwald noted that on the cloture amendment:

“Obama voted along with all Republicans for cloture. Hillary Clinton voted with 25 other Democrats against cloture (strangely,Clinton originally voted AYE on cloture, and then changed her vote to NAY; I'm trying to find out what explains that).

On Obama’s betrayal, Greenwald points out:

“Obama's vote in favor of cloture, in particular, cemented the complete betrayal of the commitment he made back in October when seeking the Democratic nomination. Back then, Obama's spokesman -- in response to demands for a clear statement of Obama's views on the spying controversy after he had issued a vague and noncommittal statement -- issued this emphatic vow:

“To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.”

Greenwald continues:

“But the bill today does include retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies. Nonetheless, Obama voted for cloture on the bill -- the exact opposition of supporting a filibuster -- and then voted for the bill itself. A more complete abandonment of a clear campaign promise is difficult of imagine. I wrote extensively about Obama's support for the FISA bill, and what it means, earlier today.”

To read Greenwald’s post in its entirety, go here. It’s well worth it.

Obama Can’t Use Brandenburg Gate as Campaign Backdrop

Geir Moulson reports at the Huffington Post: “German Chancellor Angela Merkel has signaled unease over the prospect of a possible speech by Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama at Berlin's historic Brandenburg Gate, a spokesman said Wednesday.”

The Obama campaign has begun to use increasingly dramatic show business techniques on behalf of the candidate, e.g., moving his planned acceptance speech at the convention in Denver to Invesco Field at Mile High, which can accommodate over 75,000 fans.

Evidently Obama’s advisors had envisioned him following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan who spoke at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987 and Bill Clinton who spoke on the east side of the historic site in 1994 to announce, “Berlin is free.”

Moulson reported via Merkel's spokesperson that the chancellor had expressed “skepticism” about plans to use the Brandenburg Gate as a “campaign backdrop.”

Skepticism, indeed. With Obama’s scant record of achievement on the national or international scene, it must be difficult for his handlers to figure out ways to elevate his stature at the onset of the general election.

Obama's skimpy resume (not all that outstanding even as a legislator in his home state of Ill.) might also explains the fake presidential seal his campaign came up with awhile back. That idea tanked pretty fast, too.