Court Of Impeachment And War Crimes: The Morning After Cleveland...Plus a News Round Up On Our Issues!

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Imbush Peach

An interview with Naomi Wolf about the 10 steps from democracy to dictatorship!

Stop The Spying Now

Stop the Spying!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Morning After Cleveland...Plus a News Round Up On Our Issues!

Impeach Bush And Cheney,

News From Cleveland,

Clips that matter and calls for action.

FISA {The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act], Lying On Spying!

Cleveland Debate Transcript (Plus),

McCain Campaign Infractions Challenged,

Kucinich Re-Election News and Issues,

News From/Of New England Activists,

The Bottom Line: The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush, and new friends we met

Yesterday at The Press Club in Washington DC.

The New York Times, Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox lead with yesterday's Democratic debate in Ohio, where Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama clashed over a number of issues, including campaign tactics, Iraq, health care, and NAFTA. As opposed to the largely cordial encounter last week, the sharp words began almost as soon as the debate got started yesterday, although it did remain "generally civil," as the WP points out. There was huge anticipation for the 20th, and maybe final, Democratic debate of the primary season, which was seen as possibly the last chance for Clinton to stop Obama's momentum before the contests in Ohio and Texas that have been described as must-win states. But, overall, nobody thinks Clinton was able to drastically change the race last night with her criticisms of Obama.

Whoever ends up winning the nomination will face a tough time against Sen. John McCain, notes the Los Angeles Times in its lead story. A new in-house nationwide poll shows 61 percent of voters view McCain favorably. McCain holds an advantages in several fronts as voters are more likely to rate him as the strongest leader who has "the right experience" and would be better at protecting the country and dealing with Iraq. On the economy, McCain gets higher marks than Obama but not Clinton. In a hypothetical matchup, McCain gets more support than either of the two Democratic contenders, leading Clinton by 6 percentage points and Obama by 2 points, which is within the poll's margin of error. USA Today leads with the as many as 3 million people in Florida who were left without power yesterday. A malfunction forced two nuclear reactors to shut down and led to a blackout that affected "one-sixth of Florida's population." Energy experts are now trying to figure out what happened. Although officials contend the nuclear reactors were meant to shut down in order to avoid more damage, they still don't understand why the blackout was so expansive.

Everyone was expecting last night's debate to be confrontational, and the NBC moderators seemed to do everything in their power to encourage the fighting from the beginning by starting out with clips that showed Clinton's criticism of Obama's campaign flyers. After some back-and-forth about tactics, where Obama countered her criticism by saying he has also been on the receiving end of attacks "and we haven't whined about it," the candidates launched into a 16-minute familiar argument over health care. The LAT emphasizes that when the discussion turned to trade, both candidates said they would threaten to opt out of NAFTA if Mexico and Canada didn't agree to renegotiate the deal.

Clinton also directed criticism at the news media and asked why it is that she seems "to get the first question all the time?" In a move that the LAT describes as "a clear ploy for the sympathies of women voters," Clinton then went on to reference a Saturday Night Live skit that portrayed reporters as being madly in love with Obama. "Maybe we should ask Barack if he's comfortable and needs another pillow," she said. (In a piece inside, the NYT says: "She has a point." Clinton has been on the receiving end of the first question in all of her one-on-one debates with Obama.) A while later, almost seeming to prove her point, Tim Russert asked her to name the man who Russian President Vladimir Putin has named as his successor, Dmitry Medvedev. (She sort of got it right: "Medved ... Medvedeva ...") The NYT's Alessandra Stanley, who has the only quasi-critical look at the operational side of the debate, notes that the encounter "did look a bit like the SNL parody."

Overall, TP is surprised there aren't more critical stories about Russert's performance yesterday, which included an almost surreal question where he asked the contenders to give a specific answer to an incredibly detailed hypothetical question that involved Iraqis kicking out all U.S. troops, a resurgence of al-Qaida, Iraq going "to hell," and the possibility of a re-invasion of Iraq (but what if it's raining?). When Clinton confronted Russert on the hypothetical nature of the question, he answered: "But this is reality."

In an analysis piece, the LAT notes that while Obama "did not walk away unscathed from the debate, the damage Clinton inflicted was minor." The NYT's Adam Nagourney agrees, noting that "Obama had the advantage" last night and was helped along by Russert's "aggressive questioning" of Clinton. The LAT goes on to say that both candidates "were tipped off balance by tough questions" from the moderators and mentions how Obama "stuttered a response" to Russert's question about whether he would reject the support from Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. After Russert found it necessary to remind viewers of Farrakhan's opinion of Judaism, and some interjection from Clinton, Obama said he "would reject and denounce." The LAT says that although this might not matter now, "his hesitancy could provide an opening for Republicans."

The LAT's poll shows Obama is beating Clinton 48 percent to 42 percent, although Clinton still holds a lead in states that haven't voted yet. But "one of the most striking findings" of the poll is that when Democratic voters were asked whom they support now, regardless of what vote they may have already cast in an earlier primary or caucus, Obama leads by 20 percentage points.

The LAT and NYT both front the latest bleak news about the economy. New inflation figures reveal prices were up 7.4 percent compared with a year ago, which is the highest rate since 1981. Meanwhile, other new figures showed home prices fell 8.9 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, which is the steepest decline in 20 years. "Consumers are getting squeezed on all sides," an economic analyst tells the LAT. The increases are largely being fueled by higher energy and food prices. The NYT focuses on how the increasing price of oil is "finally showing up at the pump," and it "could not come at a worse time for the economy." All this is adding up to the worst consumer confidence in five years, which, as the LAT points out, "risks making a sharp economic pullback a self-fulfilling prophecy."

The WP, LAT, and WSJ front the performance given by the New York Philharmonic in North Korea. The concert opened with the national anthems of both countries, and finished with a roaring standing ovation that went on for five minutes. Although no one thinks the one performance will automatically lead to better diplomatic relations, "it was an exceptional moment for two nations mired in six decades of mistrust, with political and economic policies in direct opposition," notes the WSJ.

The most interesting parts of the dispatches from North Korea involve the reporters' descriptions of what the WP calls "the undertow of strangeness, fakery and fear that infects life in this country." For example, reporters, who always had to travel with "minders," were taken to the Grand People's Study House, where there appeared to be a grand theatrical scene going on with hundreds of people who had supposedly decided to attend classes there that day. "No one was waiting; no one came, and no one left," notes the NYT. At one point, a librarian said the huge building had millions of foreign-language books, but when she pulled out some of them for the visitors to see, they were all about computers.

Liberal House Democrats are pushing for a closed session to discuss the legal underpinnings of President Bush’s intelligence surveillance program.

They believe that the more members know about it, the less likely they will be to support Bush’s wish to make it permanent.

“I haven’t heard anything in closed session that makes me think we need the Protect America Act,” said Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), an Intelligence Committee member, referring to a White House-backed interim wiretapping bill that lapsed this month. “Or that FISA [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act], with modest modifications, isn’t the way to go into the future.”

The request for the closed session came in a letter coauthored by Holt and Reps. John Tierney (D-Mass.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Holt refused to confirm the letter, but other Democrats say it was brought up at Tuesday’s Democratic Caucus meeting.

The three want all members allowed to see documents that outline the administration’s legal opinions on the program. So far, only Intelligence and Judiciary Committee members have been allowed to see them.

The three believe it is impractical to have all members go to the secure offices of the Intelligence Committee to review the documents. Instead, they want a presentation before the whole House, but in a closed session because the information is classified.

“It’s hard to make a decision on something like immunity when you don’t even know what it’s for,” said Schakowsky. “I think everyone should learn the highlights.”

Schakowsky presented the idea Tuesday to Pelosi during a discussion on FISA at the caucus meeting. Pelosi said she would review the details, but did not give a decision.

The request comes as Democrats are feeling more confident in their defiance of Bush on his signature issue of national security.

“The pendulum is swinging back on the issue of civil liberties,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) “We may be finding an atmosphere that’s much calmer.”

Democrats Tuesday voted down 212-198 an attempt by House Republicans to bring up the Senate-passed version of the surveillance bill, which would shield from lawsuits the telephone companies that participated in the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.

Democratic leaders dialed up their rhetoric, accusing the administration of whipping up the public’s fear to hide its own questionable conduct.

“They think they did something wrong and they don’t want it disclosed,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). “It has nothing to do with our nation’s security.”

Republicans said it has everything to do with the nation’s security.

“Every day that the House Democratic leadership delays, we are losing valuable information about terrorists’ plans. That is wrong and dangerous, and I welcome any Democratic member who agrees to vote with us,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

The House-passed surveillance bill, written by Democrats, does not grant immunity to the carriers and grants more power to the FISA court, which has traditionally overseen foreign intelligence surveillance. The Senate passed a bill earlier this month, with strong GOP support, that includes immunity. The White House has threatened to veto any bill that does not shield carriers from lawsuits.

House and Senate Democrats have been meeting to resolve their differences on the surveillance legislation.

Republicans have declined to attend the meetings, saying Congress should pass the Senate version of the bill with no changes.

Boehner’s spokesman, Kevin Smith, derided the secret session proposal as a stalling tactic.

“There are clear rules and procedures for how Congress handles classified information,” Smith said. “This nonsense is nothing more than another stalling tactic from a bunch of liberals who don’t want to give our intelligence officials all the tools they need to keep America safe.”

Secret sessions are fairly rare, according to the House Historian’s Office. Since 1830, the House has met behind doors only three times; 1979, 1980 and 1983.

There are other ways the House can meet behind closed doors, but that, too, is rare. In July 1998, the House held a secret “briefing” from law enforcement officials in the chamber about the shooting of two Capitol police officers earlier that month. In March 1999, the House had a secret “meeting” on classified emerging ballistic missile threats.

But this was not considered a “secret session,” according to the historian’s office, because it was held by a former defense secretary chairing a commission on missile threats.

In May 2007, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) tried to get the House to go into closed session to discuss earmarks in the Intelligence authorization bill. His motion failed 207-217.

Almost a month without eating! Leslie Angeline suggests a ...
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OpEdNews - Newtown,PA,USA
We then directly asked her what her reservation is about signing on to Wexler's call to hold hearings. Lofgren repeated again what she said at the last ...

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Here's an updated list of letter signers. Where's YOUR representative?

Ex-candidate Dodd endorses Obama

| Tribune correspondent

5:45 PM CST, February 26, 2008

CLEVELAND - Veteran Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) on Tuesday became the first former candidate in the Democratic presidential campaign to endorse a rival, urging Democrats to unify behind Barack Obama's candidacy and warning against harsh attacks that could damage the party's nominee in the fall election.

"It is now the time to come together as a Democratic Party," Dodd said at a morning press conference, adding a few moments later, "I don't want a campaign that is only divisive here. And there is a danger of it becoming that."

Dodd's candidacy never achieved a significant popular following, so his endorsement may not have much impact with the public. But he has considerable potential influence within the party's political establishment to make the case that other party leaders need to throw their weight behind Obama to bring the contest to a close.

Cleveland DebateTranscript

The Democratic Debate in Cleveland



MR. WILLIAMS: A lot has been said since we last gathered in this forum, certainly since -- in the few days since you two last debated. Senator Clinton, in your comments especially, the difference has been striking. And let's begin by taking a look.

SEN. CLINTON: (From videotape.) You know, no matter what happens in this contest -- and I am honored, I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored. (Cheers, applause.)

(From videotape.) So shame on you, Barack Obama. It is time you ran a campaign consistent with your messages in public. That's what I expect from you. Meet me in Ohio. Let's have a debate about your tactics and your -- (cheers, applause).

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Clinton, we're here in Ohio. Senator Obama is here. This is the debate. You would agree the difference in tone over just those 48 hours was striking.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, this is a contested campaign. And as I have said many times, I have a great deal of respect for Senator Obama, but we have differences. And in the last several days, some of those differences in tactics and the choices that Senator Obama's campaign has made regarding flyers and mailers and other information that has been put out about my health care plan and my position on NAFTA have been very disturbing to me.

And therefore, I think it's important that you stand up for yourself and you point out these differences so that voters can have the information they need to make a decision.

You know, for example, it's been unfortunate that Senator Obama has consistently said that I would force people to have health care whether they could afford it or not. You know, health care reform and achieving universal health care is a passion of mine. It is something I believe in with all my heart. And every day that I'm campaigning, and certainly here throughout Ohio, I've met so many families -- happened again this morning in Lorain -- who are just devastated because they don't get the health care they deserve to have. And unfortunately it's a debate we should have that is accurate and is based in facts about my plan and Senator Obama's plan, because my plan will cover everyone and it will be affordable. And on many occasions, independent experts have concluded exactly that.

And Senator Obama's plan does not cover everyone. It would leave, give or take, 15 million people out. So we should have a good debate that uses accurate information, not false, misleading, and discredited information, especially on something as important as whether or not we will achieve quality, affordable health care for everyone. That's my goal. That's what I'm fighting for, and I'm going to stand up for that.

MR. WILLIAMS: On the topic of accurate information, and to that end, one of the things that has happened over the past 36 hours -- a photo went out the website The Drudge Report, showing Senator Obama in the native garb of a nation he was visiting, as you have done in a host country on a trip overseas.

Matt Drudge on his website said it came from a source inside the Clinton campaign. Can you say unequivocally here tonight it did not?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, so far as I know, it did not. And I certainly know nothing about it and have made clear that that's not the kind of behavior that I condone or expect from the people working in my campaign. But we have no evidence where it came from.

So I think that it's clear what I would do if it were someone in my campaign, as I have in the past: asking people to leave my campaign if they do things that I disagree with.

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, your response.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, first of all, I take Senator Clinton at her word that she knew nothing about the photo. So I think that's something that we can set aside.

I do want to focus on the issue of health care because Senator Clinton has suggested that the flyer that we put out, the mailing that we put out, was inaccurate. Now, keep in mind that I have consistently said that Senator Clinton's got a good health care plan. I think I have a good health care plan. I think mine is better, but I have said that 95 percent of our health care plan is similar.

I have endured over the course of this campaign repeatedly negative mailing from Senator Clinton in Iowa, in Nevada and other places suggesting that I want to leave 15 million people out.

According to Senator Clinton, that is accurate. I dispute it, and I think it is inaccurate. On the other hand, I don't fault Senator Clinton for wanting to point out what she thinks is an advantage to her plan.

The reason she thinks that there are more people covered under her plan than mine is because of a mandate. That is not a mandate for the government to provide coverage to everybody; it is a mandate that every individual purchase health care.

And the mailing that we put out accurately indicates that the main difference between Senator Clinton's plan and mine is the fact that she would force in some fashion individuals to purchase health care.

If it was not affordable, she would still presumably force them to have it, unless there is a hardship exemption as they've done in Massachusetts, which leaves 20 percent of the uninsured out. And if that's the case, then, in fact, her claim that she covers everybody is not accurate.

Now, Senator Clinton has not indicated how she would enforce this mandate. She hasn't indicated what level of subsidy she would provide to assure that it was, in fact, affordable. And so it is entirely legitimate for us to point out these differences.

But I think it's very important to understand the context of this, and that is that Senator Clinton has -- her campaign, at least -- has constantly sent out negative attacks on us, e-mail, robocalls, flyers, television ads, radio calls.

And, you know, we haven't whined about it because I understand that's the nature of these campaigns, but to suggest somehow that our mailing is somehow different from the kinds of approaches that Senator Clinton has taken throughout this campaign I think is simply not accurate.

MR. WILLIAMS: And Senator Clinton, on this subject –

SEN. CLINTON: But I have to -- I have to respond to that because this is not just any issue, and certainly we've had a vigorous back and forth on both sides of our campaign. But this is an issue that goes to the heart of whether or not this country will finally do what is right, and that is to provide quality affordable health care to every single person.

Senator Obama has a mandate in his plan. It's a mandate on parents to provide health insurance for their children. That's about 150 million people who would be required to do that. The difference between Senator Obama and myself is that I know, from the work I've done on health care for many years, that if everyone's not in the system we will continue to let the insurance companies do what's called cherry picking -- pick those who get insurance and leave others out.

We will continue to have a hidden tax, so that when someone goes to the emergency room without insurance -- 15 million or however many -- that amount of money that will be used to take care of that person will be then spread among all the rest of us.

And most importantly, you know, the kind of attack on my health care plan, which the University of Pennsylvania and others have said is misleading -- that attack goes right to the heart of whether or not we will be able to achieve universal health care. That's a core Democratic Party value. It's something that ever since Harry Truman we have stood for.

And what I find regrettable is that in Senator Obama's mailing that he has sent out across Ohio, it is almost as though the health insurance companies and the Republicans wrote it, because in my plan there is enough money, according to the independent experts who've evaluated it, to provide the kind of subsidies so that everyone would be able to afford it. It is not the same as a single state trying to do this, because the federal government has many more resources at its disposal.

SEN. OBAMA (?): (Inaudible.)

SEN. CLINTON: So I think it's imperative that we stand as Democrats for universal health care. I've staked out a claim for that. Senator Edwards did. Others have. But Senator Obama has not.

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, a quick response.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, look, I believe in universal health care, as does Senator Clinton. And this is -- this is, I think, the point of the debate, is that Senator Clinton repeatedly claims that I don't stand for universal health care. And, you know, for Senator Clinton to say that, I think, is simply not accurate.

Every expert has said that anybody who wants health care under my plan will be able to obtain it. President Clinton's own secretary of Labor has said that my plan does more to reduce costs and as a consequence makes sure that the people who need health care right now all across Ohio, all across Texas, Rhode Island, Vermont, all across America, will be able to obtain it. And we do more to reduce costs than any other plan that's been out there.

Now, I have no objection to Senator Clinton thinking that her approach is superior, but the fact of the matter is, is that if, as we've heard tonight, we still don't know how Senator Clinton intends to enforce a mandate, and if we don't know the level of subsidies that she's going to provide, then you can have a situation, which we are seeing right now in the state of Massachusetts, where people are being fined for not having purchased health care but choose to accept the fine because they still can't afford it, even with the subsidies.

And they are then worse off. They then have no health care and are paying a fine above and beyond that.

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you.

SEN. OBAMA: That is a genuine difference between myself and Senator Clinton.

And the last point I would make is, the insurance companies actually are happy to have a mandate. The insurance companies don't mind making sure that everybody has to purchase their product. That's not something they're objecting to. The question is, are we going to make sure that it is affordable for everybody? And that's my goal when I'm president of the United States.

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator, as you two –

SEN. CLINTON: You know, Brian -- Brian, wait a minute. I've got -- this is too important.

You know, Senator Obama has a mandate. He would enforce the mandate by requiring parents to buy insurance for their children.

SEN. OBAMA: This is true.

SEN. CLINTON: That is the case.

If you have a mandate, it has to be enforceable. So there's no difference here.

SEN. OBAMA: No, there is a difference.

SEN. CLINTON: It's just that I know that parents who get sick have terrible consequences for their children. So you can insure the children, and then you've got the bread-winner who can't afford health insurance or doesn't have it for him or herself.

And in fact, it would be as though Franklin Roosevelt said let's make Social Security voluntary -- that's -- you know, that's -- let's let everybody get in it if they can afford it -- or if President Johnson said let's make Medicare voluntary.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, let me –

SEN. CLINTON: What we have said is that at the point of employment, at the point of contact with various government agencies, we would have people signed up. It's like when you get a 401(k), it's your employer. The employer automatically enrolls you. You would be enrolled.

And under my plan, it is affordable because, number one, we have enough money in our plan. A comparison of the plans like the ones we're proposing found that actually I would cover nearly everybody at a much lower cost than Senator Obama's plan because we would not only provide these health care tax credits, but I would limit the amount of money that anyone ever has to pay for a premium to a low percentage of your income. So it will be affordable.

Now, if you want to say that we shouldn't try to get everyone into health insurance, that's a big difference, because I believe if we don't have universal health care, we will never provide prevention.

I have the most aggressive measures to reduce costs and improve quality. And time and time again, people who have compared our two approaches have concluded that.

SEN. OBAMA: Brian, I'm sorry.

SEN. CLINTON: So let's -- let's have a debate about the facts.

SEN. OBAMA: I'm going to get filibuttered -- I'm getting filibustered a little bit here.

MR. WILLIAMS: The last answer on this topic.

SEN. OBAMA: I mean, it is just not accurate to say that Senator Clinton does more to control costs than mine. That is not the case. There are many experts who have concluded that she does not.

I do provide a mandate for children, because, number one, we have created a number of programs in which we can have greater assurance that those children will be covered at an affordable price. On the -- on the point of many adults, we don't want to put in a situation in which, on the front end, we are mandating them, we are forcing them to purchase insurance, and if the subsidies are inadequate, the burden is on them, and they will be penalized. And that is what Senator Clinton's plan does.

Now, I am -- I am happy to have a discussion with Senator Clinton about how we can both achieve the goal of universal health care. What I do not accept -- and which is what Senator Clinton has consistently done and in fact the same experts she cites basically say there's no real difference between our plans, that are -- that they are not substantial.

But it has to do with how we are going to achieve universal health care. That is an area where I believe that if we make it affordable, people will purchase it. In fact, Medicare Part B is not mandated, it is voluntary. And yet people over 65 choose to purchase it, Hillary, and the reason they choose to purchase it is because it's a good deal. And if people in Cleveland or anywhere in Ohio end up seeing a plan that is affordable for them, I promise you they are snatching it up because they are desperate to get health care. And that's what I intend to provide as president of the United States.

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator, I'm going to change the subject.

SEN. CLINTON: About 20 percent of -- about 20 percent of the people who are uninsured have the means to buy insurance. They're often young people –

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator –

SEN. CLINTON: -- who think they're immortal –

SEN. OBAMA: Which is why I cover them.

SEN. CLINTON: -- except when the illness or the accident strikes. And what Senator Obama has said, that then, once you get to the hospital, you'll be forced to buy insurance, I don't think that's a good idea. We ought to plan for it –

SEN. OBAMA: With respect –

SEN. CLINTON: -- and we ought to make sure we cover everyone.

That is the only way to get to universal health care coverage.

SEN. OBAMA: With respect –

SEN. CLINTON: That is what I've worked for for 15 years –

SEN. OBAMA: With respect –

SEN. CLINTON: -- and I believe that we can achieve it. But if we don't even have a plan to get there, and we start out by leaving people, you'll never ever control costs, improve quality, and cover everyone.

SEN. OBAMA: With respect to the young people, my plan specifically says that up until the age of 25 you will be able to be covered under your parents' insurance plan, so that cohort that
Senator Clinton is talking about will, in fact, have coverage.

MR. WILLIAMS: Well, a 16-minute discussion on health care is certainly a start. (Laughter.) I'd like to change up –

SEN. CLINTON: Well, there's hardly anything be more important? I think it would be good to talk about health care and how we're we going get to universal health care.

MR. WILLIAMS: I -- well, here's another important topic, and that's NAFTA, especially where we're sitting here tonight. And this is a tough one depending on who you ask. The Houston Chronicle has called it a big win for Texas, but Ohio Democratic Senator Brown, your colleague in the Senate, has called it a job-killing trade agreement. Senator Clinton, you've campaigned in south Texas. You've campaigned here in Ohio. Who's right?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, can I just point out that in the last several debates, I seem to get the first question all the time. And I don't mind. I -- you know, I'll be happy to field them, but I do find it curious, and if anybody saw "Saturday Night Live," you know, maybe we should ask Barack if he's comfortable and needs another pillow. (Laughter, boos.) I just find it kind of curious that I keep getting the first question on all of these issues. But I'm happy to answer it.

You know, I have been a critic of NAFTA from the very beginning. I didn't have a public position on it, because I was part of the administration, but when I started running for the Senate, I have been a critic. I've said it was flawed. I said that it worked in some parts of our country, and I've seen the results in Texas. I was in Laredo in the last couple of days. It's the largest inland port in America now. So clearly, some parts of our country have been benefited.

But what I have seen, where I represent up-state New York, I've seen the factories closed and moved. I've talked to so many people whose children have left because they don't have a good shot. I've had to negotiate to try to keep factories open, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, because the companies got tax benefits to actually move to another country.

So what I have said is that we need to have a plan to fix NAFTA. I would immediately have a trade timeout, and I would take that time to try to fix NAFTA by making it clear that we'll have core labor and environmental standards in the agreement.

We will do everything we can to make it enforceable, which it is not now. We will stop the kind of constant sniping at our protections for our workers that can come from foreign companies because they have the authority to try to sue to overturn what we do to keep our workers safe.

This is rightly a big issue in Ohio. And I have laid out my criticism, but in addition my plan, for actually fixing NAFTA. Again, I have received a lot of incoming criticism from Senator Obama. And the Cleveland Plain Dealer examined Senator Obama's attacks on me regarding NAFTA and said they were erroneous. So I would hope that, again, we can get to a debate about what the real issues are and where we stand because we do need to fix NAFTA. It is not working. It was, unfortunately, heavily disadvantaging many of our industries, particularly manufacturing. I have a record of standing up for that, of chairing the Manufacturing Caucus in the Senate, and I will take a tough position on these trade agreements.

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator, thank you.

Before we turn the questioning over to Tim Russert, Senator Obama.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think that it is inaccurate for Senator Clinton to say that she's always opposed NAFTA. In her campaign for Senate, she said that NAFTA, on balance, had been good for New York and good for America. I disagree with that. I think that it did not have the labor standards and environmental standards that were required in order to not just be good for Wall Street but also be good for Main Street. And if you travel through Youngstown and you travel through communities in my home state of Illinois, you will see entire cities that have been devastated as a consequence of trade agreements that were not adequately structured to make sure that U.S. workers had a fair deal.

Now, I think that Senator Clinton has shifted positions on this and believes that we should have strong environmental standards and labor standards, and I think that's a good thing. But you know, when I first moved to Chicago in the early '80s and I saw steelworkers who had been laid off of their plants -- black, white, and Hispanic -- and I worked on the streets of Chicago to try to help them find jobs, I saw then that the net costs of many of these trade agreements, if they're not properly structured, can be devastating.

And as president of the United States, I intend to make certain that every agreement that we sign has the labor standards, the environmental standards and the safety standards that are going to protect not just workers, but also consumers. We can't have toys with lead paint in them that our children are playing with. We can't have medicines that are actually making people more sick instead of better because they're produced overseas. We have to stop providing tax breaks for companies that are shipping jobs overseas and give those tax breaks to companies that are investing here in the United States of America.

And if we do those things, then I believe that we can actually get Ohio back on the path of growth and jobs and prosperity. If we don't, then we're going to continue to see the kind of deterioration that we've seen economically here in this state.

MR. RUSSERT: I want to ask you both about NAFTA because the record, I think, is clear. And I want to -- Senator Clinton. Senator Obama said that you did say in 2004 that on balance NAFTA has been good for New York and America. You did say that. When President Clinton signed this bill -- and this was after he negotiated two new side agreements, for labor and environment -- President Clinton said it would be a force for economic growth and social progress. You said in '96 it was proving its worth as free and fair trade. You said that -- in 2000 -- it was a good idea that took political courage. So your record is pretty clear.

Based on that, and which you're now expressing your discomfort with it, in the debate that Al Gore had with Ross Perot, Al Gore said the following: "If you don't like NAFTA and what it's done, we can get out of it in six months.

The president can say to Canada and Mexico, we are out. This has not been a good agreement." Will U.S. president say we are out of NAFTA in six months?

SEN. CLINTON: I have said that I will renegotiate NAFTA, so obviously, you'd have to say to Canada and Mexico that that's exactly what we're going to do. But you know, in fairness –

MR. RUSSERT: Just because -- maybe Clinton –

SEN. CLINTON: Yes, I am serious.

MR. RUSSERT: You will get out. You will notify Mexico and Canada, NAFTA is gone in six months.

SEN. CLINTON: No, I will say we will opt out of NAFTA unless we renegotiate it, and we renegotiate on terms that are favorable to all of America.

But let's be fair here, Tim. There are lots of parts of New York that have benefitted, just like there are lots of parts of Texas that have benefitted. The problem is in places like upstate New York, places like Youngstown, Toledo, and others throughout Ohio that have not benefitted. And if you look at what I have been saying, it has been consistent.

You know, Senator Obama told the farmers of Illinois a couple of years ago that he wanted more trade agreements. I -- right now –

MR. RUSSERT: We're going to get -- we're going to get to Senator Obama, but I want to stay on your terms –

SEN. CLINTON: Well, but that -- but that is important –

MR. RUSSERT: -- because this was something that you wrote about as a real success for your husband. You said it was good on balance for New York and America in 2004, and now you're in Ohio and your words are much different, Senator. The record is very clear.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I -- I -- you don't have all the record because you can go back and look at what I've said consistently. And I haven't just said things; I have actually voted to toughen trade agreements, to try to put more teeth into our enforcement mechanisms. And I will continue to do so.

But you know, Tim, when you look at what the Cleveland Plain Dealer said when they examined the kind of criticism that Senator Obama was making of me -- it's not me saying it -- they said it was erroneous. And it was erroneous because it didn't look at the entire picture, both at what I've said and what I've done.

But let's talk about what we're going to do. It is not enough just to criticize NAFTA, which I have, and for some years now. I have put forward a very specific plan about what I would do, and it does include telling Canada and Mexico that we will opt out unless we renegotiate the core labor and environmental standards -- not side agreements, but core agreements; that we will enhance the enforcement mechanism; and that we will have a very clear view of how we're going to review NAFTA going forward to make sure it works, and we're going to take out the ability of foreign companies to sue us because of what we do to protect our workers.

I would also say that you can go back and look at from the very beginning -- I think David Gergen was on TV today remembering that I was very skeptical about it.

It has worked in some parts of America. It has not worked in Ohio. It has not worked in upstate New York. And since I've been in the Senate -- neither of us voted on this. That wasn't something either of us got to cast an independent vote on. Since I have been in the Senate, I have worked to try to ameliorate the impact of these trade agreements.

MR. RUSSERT: But let me button this up. Absent the change that you're suggesting, you are willing to opt out of NAFTA in six months?

SEN. CLINTON: I'm confident that as president, when I say we will opt out unless we renegotiate, we will be able to renegotiate.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Obama, you did in 2004 talk to farmers and suggest that NAFTA had been helpful. The Associated Press today ran a story about NAFTA, saying that you have been consistently ambivalent towards the issue. Simple question: Will you, as president, say to Canada and Mexico, "This has not worked for us; we are out"?

SEN. OBAMA: I will make sure that we renegotiate, in the same way that Senator Clinton talked about. And I think actually Senator Clinton's answer on this one is right. I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage to ensure that we actually get labor and environmental standards that are enforced. And that is not what has been happening so far.

That is something that I have been consistent about. I have to say, Tim, with respect to my position on this, when I ran for the United States Senate, the Chicago Tribune, which was adamantly pro-NAFTA, noted that, in their endorsement of me, they were endorsing me despite my strong opposition to NAFTA.

And that conversation that I had with the Farm Bureau, I was not ambivalent at all. What I said was that NAFTA and other trade deals can be beneficial to the United States because I believe every U.S. worker is as productive as any worker around the world, and we can compete with anybody. And we can't shy away from globalization. We can't draw a moat around us. But what I did say, in that same quote, if you look at it, was that the problem is we've been negotiating just looking at corporate profits and what's good for multinationals, and we haven't been looking at what's good for communities here in Ohio, in my home state of Illinois, and across the country.

And as president, what I want to be is an advocate on behalf of workers. Look, you know, when I go to these plants, I meet people who are proud of their jobs. They are proud of the products that they've created. They have built brands and profits for their companies. And when they see jobs shipped overseas and suddenly they are left not just without a job, but without health care, without a pension, and are having to look for seven-buck-an-hour jobs at the local fast-food joint, that is devastating on them, but it's also devastating on the community. That's not the way that we're going to prosper as we move forward.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator, two journalists here in Ohio wrote a piece called "Business as Usual," which is very well known, suggesting it wasn't trade or manufacturing jobs that were being lost because of it, but rather business as usual: lack of patents, lack of innovation, lack of investment, 70 percent of the Ph.D.s in biology, chemistry, engineering leaving the state.

The fact is, exports now have the highest share of our national income ever. Ohio ranks fourth in terms of exports to Canada and Mexico. Are you sure this has not been better for Ohio than you're suggesting?

SEN. OBAMA: I'm positive it hasn't been better for Ohio. But you are making a very legitimate point, which is, is that this trade (can/can't ?) be the only part of our economic agenda. But we've seen seven years in which we have a president who has been looking out for the well-heeled and people who are doing very well in the global economy, in the financial industries, in the telecommunications industries, and has not been looking out for ordinary workers.

What do we have to do? We're going to have to invest in infrastructure to make sure that we're competitive. And I've got a plan to do that. We're going to have to invest in science and technology. We've got to vastly improve our education system. We have to look at energy and the potential for creating green jobs that cannot just save on our energy costs but, more importantly, can create jobs in building windmills that will produce manufacturing jobs here in Ohio, can put rural communities back on their feet by working on alternative fuels, making buildings more energy efficient.

We can hire young people who are out of work and put them to work in the trade. So there are all sorts of things that we're going to have to do to make the United States economy much more competitive, and those are plans that I have put forward in this campaign and I expect to pursue as president of the United States of America.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, on the issue of jobs, I watched you the other day with your economic blueprint in Wisconsin saying, this is my plan; hold me accountable. And I've had a chance to read it very carefully. It does say that you pledge to create 5 million new jobs over 10 years.

And I was reminded of your campaign in 2000 in Buffalo, my hometown, just three hours down Route 90, where you pledged 200,000 new jobs for upstate New York. There's been a net loss of 30,000 jobs. And when you were asked about your pledge, your commitment, you told The Buffalo News, "I might have been a little exuberant." Tonight will you say that the pledge of 5 million jobs might be a little exuberant?

SEN. CLINTON: No, Tim, because what happened in 2000 is that I thought Al Gore was going to be president. And when I made the pledge I was counting on having a Democratic White House, a Democratic president who shared my values about what we needed to do to make the economy work for everyone and to create shared prosperity.

They've created several hundred thousand new jobs, and these are jobs that can't be outsourced. These are jobs that have to be done in Youngstown, in Dayton, in Cincinnati. These are jobs that we can create here with the right combination of tax incentives, training, and a commitment to following through. So I do think that at least 5 million jobs are fully capable of being produced within the next 10 years.


MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, yesterday Senator Clinton gave a speech on foreign policy and I'm going to read you a quote from it. Quote, "We've seen the tragic result of having a president who had neither the experience nor the wisdom to manage our foreign policy and safeguard our national security. We cannot let that happen again. America has already taken that chance one time too many." Some of the comments in the speech were more pointed. The senator has compared your foreign policy expertise to that of George W. Bush at the same period. Provided you could be going into a general election against a Republican with vast foreign policy expertise and credibility on national security, how were her comments about you unfair?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, Senator Clinton I think equates experience with longevity in Washington. I don't think the American people do and I don't think that if you look at the judgments that we've made over the last several years that that's the accurate measure. On the most important foreign policy decision that we face in a generation -- whether or not to go into Iraq -- I was very clear as to why we should not -- that it would fan the flames of anti-American sentiment -- that it would distract us from Afghanistan -- that it would cost us billions of dollars, thousands of lives, and would not make us more safe, and I do not believe it has made us more safe.

Al Qaeda is stronger than any time since 2001 according to our own intelligence estimates, and we are bogged down in a war that John McCain now suggests might go on for another 100 years, spending $12 billion a month that could be invested in the kinds of programs that both Senator Clinton and I are talking about. So on Pakistan, during the summer I suggested that not only do we have to take a new approach towards Musharraf but we have to get much more serious about hunting down terrorists that are currently in northwestern Pakistan.

And many people said at the time well, you can't target those terrorists because Musharraf is our ally and we don't want to offend him. In fact, what we had was neither stability in Pakistan nor democracy in Pakistan, and had we pursued a policy that was looking at democratic reforms in Pakistan we would be much further along now than we are. So on the critical issues that actually matter I believe that my judgment has been sound and it has been judgment that I think has been superior to Senator Clinton's as well as Senator McCain's.

MR. WILLIAMS: Well, Senator Clinton, in the last debate you seemed to take a pass on the question of whether or not Senator Obama was qualified to be commander in chief. Is your contention in this latest speech that America would somehow be taking a chance on Senator Obama as commander in chief?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I have put forth my extensive experience in foreign policy, you know, helping to support the peace process in Northern Ireland, negotiating to open borders so that refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing would be safe, going to Beijing and standing up for women's rights as human rights and so much else. And every time the question about qualifications and credentials for commander in chief are raised, Senator Obama rightly points to the speech he gave in 2002. He's to be commended for having given the speech. Many people gave speeches against the war then, and the fair comparison is he didn't have responsibility, he didn't have to vote; by 2004 he was saying that he basically agreed with the way George Bush was conducting the war. And when he came to the Senate, he and I have voted exactly the same. We have voted for the money to fund the war until relatively recently. So the fair comparison was when we both had responsibility, when it wasn't just a speech but it was actually action, where is the difference? Where is the comparison that would in some way give a real credibility to the speech that he gave against the war?

And on a number of other issues, I just believe that, you know, as Senator Obama said, yes, last summer he basically threatened to bomb Pakistan, which I don't think was a particularly wise position to take. I have long advocated a much tougher approach to Musharraf and to Pakistan, and have pushed the White House to do that.

And I disagree with his continuing to say that he would meet with some of the worst dictators in the world without preconditions and without the real, you know, understanding of what we would get from it.

So I think you've got to look at, you know, what I have done over a number of years, traveling on behalf of our country to more than 80 countries, meeting and working out a lot of different issues that are important to our national security and our foreign policy and our values, serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee for now five years. And I think that, you know, standing on that stage with Senator McCain, if he is, as appears to be, the nominee, I will have a much better case to make on a range of the issues that really America must confront going forward, and will be able to hold my own and make the case for a change in policy that will be better for our country.

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, a quick response.

SEN. OBAMA: Let me just follow up. My objections to the war in Iraq were simply -- not simply a speech. I was in the midst of a U.S. Senate campaign. It was a high-stakes campaign. I was one of the most vocal opponents of the war, and I was very specific as to why.

And so when I bring this up, it is not simply to say "I told you so," but it is to give you an insight in terms of how I would make decisions.

And the fact was, this was a big strategic blunder. It was not a matter of, well, here is the initial decision, but since then we've voted the same way. Once we had driven the bus into the ditch, there were only so many ways we could get out. The question is, who's making the decision initially to drive the bus into the ditch? And the fact is that Senator Clinton often says that she is ready on day one, but in fact she was ready to give in to George Bush on day one on this critical issue. So the same person that she criticizes for having terrible judgment, and we can't afford to have another one of those, in fact she facilitated and enabled this individual to make a decision that has been strategically damaging to the United States of America.

With respect to Pakistan, I never said I would bomb Pakistan. What I said was that if we have actionable intelligence against bin Laden or other key al Qaeda officials, and we -- and Pakistan is unwilling or unable to strike against them, we should. And just several days ago, in fact, this administration did exactly that and took out the third-ranking al Qaeda official.

That is the position that we should have taken in the first place. And President Musharraf is now indicating that he would generally be more cooperative in some of these efforts, we don't know how the new legislature in Pakistan will respond, but the fact is it was the right strategy.

And so my claim is not simply based on a speech. It is based on the judgments that I've displayed during the course of my service on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, while I've been in the United States Senate, and as somebody who, during the course of this campaign, I think has put forward a plan that will provide a clean break against Bush and Cheney. And that is how we're going to be able to debate John McCain. Having a debate with John McCain where your positions were essentially similar until you started running for president, I think, does not put you in a strong position.

Tim Russert.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I guess that –

MR. RUSSERT: Let me talk about the future -- let me talk the future about Iraq, because this is important, I think, to Democratic voters particularly. You both have pledged the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. You both have said you'd keep a residual force there to protect our embassy, to seek out al Qaeda, to neutralize Iran. If the Iraqi government said, President Clinton or President Obama, you're pulling out your troops this quickly?

You're going to be gone in a year, but you're going to leave a residual force behind? No. Get out. Get out now. If you don't want to stay and protect us, we're a sovereign nation. Go home now." Will you leave?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, if the Iraqi government says that we should be there, then we cannot be there. This is a sovereign government, as George Bush continually reminds us.

Now, I think that we can be in a partnership with Iraq to ensure the stability and the safety of the region, to ensure the safety of Iraqis and to meet our national security interests.

But in order to do that, we have to send a clear signal to the Iraqi government that we are not going to be there permanently, which is why I have said that as soon as I take office, I will call in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we will initiate a phased withdrawal, we will be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. We will give ample time for them to stand up, to negotiate the kinds of agreements that will arrive at the political accommodations that are needed. We will provide them continued support. But it is important for us not to be held hostage by the Iraqi government in a policy that has not made us more safe, that's distracting us from Afghanistan, and is costing us dearly, not only and most importantly in the lost lives of our troops, but also the amount of money that we are spending that is unsustainable and will prevent us from engaging in the kinds of investments in America that will make us more competitive and more safe.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, if the Iraqis said I'm sorry, we're not happy with this arrangement; if you're not going to stay in total and defend us, get out completely; they are a sovereign nation, you would listen?

SEN. CLINTON: Absolutely. And I believe that there is no military solution that the Americans who have been valiant in doing everything they were asked to do can really achieve in the absence of full cooperation from the Iraqi government. And –

MR. RUSSERT: Let me ask -- let me ask you this, Senator. I want to ask you –

SEN. CLINTON: And they need to take responsibility for themselves. And –

MR. RUSSERT: I want to ask both of you this question, then. If we -- if this scenario plays out and the Americans get out in total and al Qaeda resurges and Iraq goes to hell, do you hold the right, in your mind as American president, to re-invade, to go back into Iraq to stabilize it?

SEN. CLINTON: You know, Tim, you ask a lot of hypotheticals. And I believe that what's –

MR. RUSSERT: But this is reality.

SEN. CLINTON: No -- well, it isn't reality. You're -- you're -- you're making lots of different hypothetical assessments.

I believe that it is in America's interests and in the interests of the Iraqis for us to have an orderly withdrawal. I've been saying for many months that the administration has to do more to plan, and I've been pushing them to actually do it. I've also said that I would begin to withdraw within 60 days based on a plan that I asked begun to be put together as soon as I became president.

And I think we can take out one to two brigades a month. I've also been a leader in trying to prevent President Bush from getting us committed to staying in Iraq regardless for as long as Senator McCain and others have said it might be, 50 to a hundred years.

So, when you talk about what we need to do in Iraq, we have to make judgments about what is in the best interest of America. And I believe this is in the best interest.

But I also have heard Senator Obama refer continually to Afghanistan, and he references being on the Foreign Relations Committee. He chairs the Subcommittee on Europe. It has jurisdiction over NATO. NATO is critical to our mission in Afghanistan. He's held not one substantive hearing to do oversight, to figure out what we can do to actually have a stronger presence with NATO in Afghanistan.

You have to look at the entire situation to try to figure out how we can stabilize Afghanistan and begin to put more in there to try to get some kind of success out of it, and you have to work with the Iraqi government so that they take responsibility for their own future.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Obama, I want you to respond to not holding oversight for your subcommittee. But also, do you reserve a right as American president to go back into Iraq, once you have withdrawn, with sizable troops in order to quell any kind of insurrection or civil war?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, first of all, I became chairman of this committee at the beginning of this campaign, at the beginning of 2007. So it is true that we haven't had oversight hearings on Afghanistan.

I have been very clear in talking to the American people about what I would do with respect to Afghanistan.

Tonight in Cleveland, the Democratic candidates meet in what may be their final debate. With Hillary lagging in delegates, Obama on a roll, and the candidates sniping at each other, the MSNBC moderators will be tempted to play "gotcha" -- trying to capture press by baiting the candidates into turning on each other.

But tonight, why not take a break from the horse-race speculation, the preoccupation with campaign hype and candidate jabs, and focus instead on the real deal? As anyone who has been to Ohio can tell you, the voters in Ohio -- like voters across the country -- are looking for very concrete answers to staggering right-now problems.

Ohio, a proud and prosperous manufacturing and farming center of America, is being ravaged by a trifecta of devastation. Its families are struggling with our global crisis, our housing crisis and with entrenched structural poverty. They are looking for help.

Ohio is the center of the catastrophic trade policies that are laying off workers, shipping good jobs abroad and driving down wages and benefits at home. Ohio has lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs since George Bush took office; the nation has lost about one in five manufacturing jobs. These are good jobs with family wages, health care, pensions and paid vacations. When the plant closes and the jobs are taken offshore, workers take a hit. Jobs with similar pay and benefits aren't being created. Families suddenly watch their dreams crushed. Communities are devastated as their tax base evaporates. Across Ohio, voters want to know: How do we get out of this hole?

Ohio is also the epicenter of the housing bust. Some 150,000 homes went into foreclosure last year. Across the country, one in 10 homes are "under water" -- worth less than their mortgages. That ratio is much worse in Ohio. In Cleveland, there are so many foreclosures that HUD is selling homes for less than the cost of a cup of coffee. You can pay for your tall latte at Starbucks with a $5 bill and use the change to pick up a house from HUD. Responsible homeowners have lost the savings they built in their homes. Communities once more find their tax base decimated. This starts a vicious cycle of cuts in police and schools; vandals sack empty homes; and prices continue to plummet.

In the Appalachian areas of southern Ohio and in its inner cities, families struggle with a structural poverty that is getting worse. A coal miner dies from black lung disease every six hours. Young people face what's called a "back door draft." If they want to get to college or to advanced training, they have little choice but to join the military. In a country where poverty is up, homelessness is up, malnutrition and obesity are up and more children go without health care, these voters are looking for a way out.

Let's focus the debate tonight on the trifecta of devastation. Clinton and Obama are quarreling about who is more opposed to NAFTA. No more NAFTAs is a step, not a strategy for the future. Let's probe who has a plan to change our global strategy and get good jobs back into Ohio. Who has the best plan on the housing mess? Who has a plan for Appalachia or for the children at risk in Cleveland's poorest neighborhoods?

Ohio's traumas are real and present. People there don't have the luxury of politics as a spectator sport. They are looking for answers. The moderators of MSNBC would be doing the nation and the voters of Ohio a service if they skipped the froth and focused on the economic storms that are wracking Ohio and spreading across the country.

Clinton’s superdelegates rejecting pleas to switch
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Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY) are rejecting Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (Calif.) plea that lawmakers not overrule voters should they be in a position to decide who ...

Obama, Clinton Fill Superdelegates' Wallets
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20th Democratic Debate: Tax Returns, Farrakhan, Building Windmills and More
By Susan Jones Senior Editor
February 27, 2008

( - Meeting for their 20th debate of the campaign season Tuesday night in Cleveland, Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) covered many of the same topics they've been raising on the campaign trail -- NAFTA, universal health care, job creation, national security.

On a few occasions, however, moderator Tim Russert managed to put each candidate on the spot. For Obama, it was a question about Louis Farrakhan's support; for Clinton, it was question about releasing her tax returns and documents pertaining to her tenure as first lady.

Pressed on her refusal so far to release her tax returns, Sen. Clinton said she will release them eventually, upon becoming the Democratic presidential nominee -- "or even earlier." Before next Tuesday's primary? Russert pressed her.

"Well, I can't get it together by then, but I will certainly work to get it together. I'm a little busy right now; I hardly have time to sleep. But I will certainly work toward releasing, and we will get that done and in the public domain," Clinton responded.

Russert noted that on January 30th, the National Archives released 10,000 pages of Clinton's public schedule as first lady. Those documents are now in the custody of former President Clinton, Russert said. Will Clinton release those documents to the public -- to let everyone know "what you did, who you met with during those eight years?"

"Absolutely," Clinton replied. "I've urged that the process be as quick as possible. It's a cumbersome process, set up by law. It doesn't just apply to us, it applies to everyone in our position. And I have urged that our end of it move as expeditiously as we can. Now, also, President Bush claims the right to look at anything that is released, and I would urge the Bush White House to move as quickly as possible."


Russert asked Sen. Obama if he accepts the support of Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan, a man who once called Judaism a "gutter religion."

Farrakhan praised Obama over the weekend, calling him "the hope of the entire world."

"You know, I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments," Obama responded. "I think that they are unacceptable and reprehensible. I did not solicit this support. He expressed pride in an African-American who seems to be bringing the country together. I obviously can't censor him, but it is not support that I sought. And we're not doing anything, I assure you, formally or informally with Minister Farrakhan."


On other topics, the candidates were asked if they would be willing to opt out of the North American Free Trade Agreement in six months, if they can't renegotiate the treaty to their satisfaction.

Clinton said she's confident that as president, she could force renegotiation.

"I will make sure we renegotiate,"Obama agreed. "I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage to ensure that we actually get labor and environmental standards that are enforced."

Obama said as president he would be an "advocate on behalf of workers," a reference to factory workers who have seen their "jobs shipped overseas and suddenly they are left not just without a job, but without health care, without a pension, and are having to look for seven-buck-an-hour jobs at the local fast-food joint, that is devastating on them, but it's also devastating on the community. That's not the way that we're going to prosper as we move forward," Obama said.

Let them build windmills

Obama called for a greater investment in the nation's infrastructure: "And I've got a plan to do that. We're going to have to invest in science and technology. We've got to vastly improve our education system. We have to look at energy and the potential for creating green jobs that can not just save on our energy costs but, more importantly, can create jobs in building windmills that will produce manufacturing jobs here in Ohio, can put rural communities back on their feet by working on alternative fuels, making buildings more energy efficient.

"We can hire young people who are out of work and put them to work in the trade. So there are all sorts of things that we're going to have to do to make the United States economy much more competitive," he said.

5 million new jobs

Clinton said her target is to create at least 5 million new jobs. "I'm not just talking about it," she said. "I helped to pass legislation to begin a training program for green collar jobs. I want to see people throughout Ohio being trained to do the work that will put solar panels on roofs, install wind turbines, do geothermal, take advantage of biofuels, and I know that if we had put $5 billion into the stimulus package to really invest in the training and the tax incentives that would have created those jobs as the Democrats wanted, as I originally proposed, we would be on the way to creating those."

Re-invade Iraq?

If U.S. troops are pulled out of Iraq and "al Qaeda resurges and Iraq goes to hell," what would Clinton or Obama, as president, do at that point? Tim Russert asked the candidates. "Do you hold the right, in your mind as American president, to re-invade, to go back into Iraq to stabilize it? " he asked.

Neither candidate gave a direct answer.

"You know, Tim, you ask a lot of hypotheticals," Clinton said. "I believe that it is in America's interests and in the interests of the Iraqis for us to have an orderly withdrawal. I've been saying for many months that the administration has to do more to plan, and I've been pushing them to actually do it. I've also said that I would begin to withdraw within 60 days based on a plan that I asked begun to be put together as soon as I became president. And I think we can take out one to two brigades a month. She said she opposes any long-term commitment of U.S. troops to Iraq.

Obama said he would reserve the right for the president -- as commander in chief, I will always reserve the right to make sure that we are looking out for American interests. And if al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad. So that is true, I think, not just in Iraq, but that's true in other places. That's part of my argument with respect to Pakistan.

I think we should always cooperate with our allies and sovereign nations in making sure that we are rooting out terrorist organizations, but if they are planning attacks on Americans, like what happened in 9/11, it is my job -- it will be my job as president to make sure that we are hunting them down."

(Sen. Clinton objected that Obama got off the hook -- that Russert's question was about re-invading Iraq. Brian Williams said it was time for a station break.)

Why am I questioned first?

Early on in the debate, Sen. Clinton took issue with the media coverage she's getting from NBC. She said she found it "curious that I keep getting the first question" at the last several debates.

She told debate moderators Brian Williams and Tim Russert she doesn't mind -- she's happy to "field" the questions asked of her -- "but I do find it curious, and if anybody saw "Saturday Night Live,'' you know, maybe we should ask Barack if he's comfortable and needs another pillow." (SNL parodied the soft treatment Obama is getting from the media.)

"I just find it kind of curious that I keep getting the first question on all of these issues, Clinton said -- then launched into a defense of her position on NAFTA.

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In Cleveland, Obama Speaks on Jewish Issues
By Staff Reporter of the Sun
Obama's presidential campaign: OBAMA: If I was so smart I would just say I'll take questions because I could not be a more effective advocate for myself than Robert Wexler who has been just a great friend. Although I am not Jewish, ...

Group Launches Ads Pressuring Dems on Surveillance Bill

By Paul Kiel - February 25, 2008, 1:03PM

Dear Ed.,

Please join the emergency petition to STOP TELECOM IMMUNITY, and if you have not had the chance, check out the video of Americans speaking out that we produced with our allies at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Nearly 15,000 activists have already signed, and the video has been featured on many of the nation's leading progressive blogs like DailyKos and Crooks and Liars, but we need more signatures before we deliver the petition to Congress.

Our Contempt of Congress petition that made such a difference had 45,000 signers. Help us match that with this petition. Sign today and ask your friends to sign as well.

-- Your Allies at People For the American Way

Stepping up the pressure on House Democrats, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies has launched a national ad campaign criticizing Democrats for not passing the Senate's surveillance bill.

According to the group's press release, the ad "will be seen on cable and satellite stations throughout the country and is also seen locally in 17 media markets across the United States." The ads target 15 House Democrats, such as Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN). Brian Wise, the spokesman for the group, told me that the group had chosen the 15 because they were Dems "who we believe understand the issue and who would be the most effective to pushing the House leadership to vote on this." He added: "politics really has nothing to do with it."

You can see the ad here:

2/25: You Ain't Crashing This Party
By Ian Faerstein
One thing is clear, however: as much as the netroots criticize Congressional Dems for capitulating on issues such as Iraq and warrantless surveillance, they still believe that the Dem party is the best (and perhaps the only) vehicle for ...

OpEdNews - Newtown,PA,USA
That's what Kucinich responsibly did (as an aside, if you have a buck or two send it to Dennis to help his Congressional re-election and send a truly ...

BEER!!! Kucinich stands with union truck drivers for jobs
By rjones2818(rjones2818)
Kucinich appealed for the Teamsters’ help to stop the effort to silence his voice on behalf of labor in Congress and received a standing ovation. Afterwards Max Zemla, the local’s principal officer, read from the list of corporations ...

House leaders picking their primary favorites
The Hill - Washington,DC,USA
, who appears especially vulnerable in a race against Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman, has received no party help to this point — be it ...

OpEdNews - Newtown,PA,USA
Now his Congressional re-election bid is being similarly attacked. The intensity is increasing as the March 4th primary gets closer. ...

Cimperman Is Doing Corporate Work
Cleveland Leader - Cleveland,OH,USA
For them, he’sa chance to retire Kucinich permanently. It’s too bad because Cimperman is one of the brightest Council members in years, ...

Democracy not spectator sport
Nashua Telegraph - Nashua,NH,USA
Betty Hall, D-Brookline, introduced a historic resolution calling for impeachment proceedings to begin against President Bush and Vice President Cheney. ...

Code Pink Fasts for Cheney's Impeachment
to begin impeachment hearings against Vice President Dick Cheney. "I'm really concerned that the Bush and Cheney administration have committed so many impeachable offenses," Leslie Angeline, a member of Code Pink told Cybercast News ...

Cheney Impeachment: Courageous, but Not Surprising
For the first time since the Bush administration took office, three members of the House Judiciary Committee, Robert Wexler (D-FL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), are calling for hearings on the impeachment of Vice ...
PDA National News -

Indicting Bush in His Family's Home Town
US Senate Candidate Laurie Dobson to Deliver “The Bush-Cheney Indictment Resolution” Press Conference Tuesday, February 26, 2008, 12 Noon Where: Kennebunkport Town Offices, Elm St., Kennebunkport, ME ...

Roberts and Silber: The USA stands for lies, torture and ...
By judasnoose
It failed again when the Democrats refused to impeach Bush and Cheney. Without the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, America can never recover. … Today Congress is almost as superfluous as the Roman Senate under the Caesars. ...

To Impeach or Not To Impeach

by Tom Chartier and Elizabeth Gyllensvard

Could the Democrats in the House be slithering out of a primeval slime to evolve from a pusillanimous sea slug (native to the Sea of Hypocrisy), into something that breathes air, walks upright and as a rule does not eat its own young? Since September 11th, the Democrats in Congress have been on a downward evolutionary spiral; could that trend have been thrown into reverse by the doings of an even more degenerate species?

To be sure, some members of Congress have been doing their duty to uphold the Constitution. John Conyers has been actively pushing impeachment of Bush and Cheney since 2005. And Rep. Robert Wexler has his campaign. Last November, Rep. Dennis Kucinich led the charge to “send a resolution considering the impeachment of Vice President Cheney to the Judiciary Committee.” Republican Texan, Rep. Ron Paul has condemned the White House “demented philosophy of conquest.

Recently, this bravery was followed up by Congressional issuance of contempt citations to that disgraceful duo Joshua B. Bolton and Harriet E. Miers. What’s more, on the same day, Democrats in Congress refused to make permanent the temporary the Protect (George W. Bush from) America Act. Words fail me. Imagine that.

Joined by three Republicans, including Rep. Ron Paul, House Democrats finally did their job by protecting Americans from Bush.

Who will protect George W. Bush and his friends from the anger of Americans? What’s Bush’s overall job rating? Latest polls show that only 20% of Americans support Bush. Who would have guessed it was that high? It isn’t; we rounded up. Only Pervez Musharraf has such bad numbers. Looks like the tar is boiling and the feathers are ready; all we need is the rail.

Condemning the Democratic refusal to obey Bush, GOP Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia, said “They're just playing with fire on this.” Does this means the GOP Congressmen and women are so full of hot air they’re going to blow?

How dare the Democrats put the best interests of the country above those of King George? In response to the blatant audacity of the Democrats, the bulk of Republican members of Congress rose to their feet and walked out of the building. As if drawn by the magnet of microphones and the siren call of TV cameras, the GOP Congressmen marched down the Capitol steps… laughing that “they got the right message!” I think it’s often a joke but do Republican members of Congress agree with my assessment that what they do for a living is a laughing matter?

Republican Minority leader John Boehner couldn’t even get it right. The fact is FISA will still be in effect even if the Protect America Act is tossed out with the fish heads where it belongs. Maybe if it was correctly titled the “Spy on Americans Act” we’d feel better about it. Contrary to Bush’s claims, without renewal of the Act, Americans will still be as safe as ever… more so actually, if someone remembered to lock the Congressional door behind those huffy, departing GOP members.

Last week’s act of defiance by the Democrats was long overdue. The fact is this Democratic-led congress was elected with… you guess it… a clear mandate to end the war in Iraq and to stop the Runaway Shrub. Maybe the Democrats have read Glenn Hurowitz’s opus Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party?

Which brings up the big I word… Impeachment.

To impeach or not to impeach, that is the question.

If the esteemed members of the House of Representatives all had the same courage as John Conyers and Robert Wexler and Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, that answer would be an unequivocal yes!

Way back in June, 2003, on the subject of the missing WMD in Iraq, former Nixon counsel John W. Dean wrote: “To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be “a high crime” under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony ‘to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose.’”

So… When do we start cooking?! It’s time to fire up the old Weber BBQ! People are starving. We got us some Texas Pachyderm to roast!

The list of “controversies” set off by George and Dick is longer than War and Peace and it just keeps growing.And “those two” are still busy. Iran is next. So little time, so much to ruin.

What has been holding back the Democrats in Congress? You’ve got to ask yourself: Just what is Congress afraid of? That’s the million-dollar question. Are they afraid to be carried aloft triumphantly by a cheering American Citizenry…not to mention being honored by the rest of the world?

Makes you wonder if the US voter is being two-timed. Does some other entity come first in the affections of Congress? Is there an entity so seductive and powerful that it can override the will of the US voter?

Who or what is this powerful entity? Who or what would think it’s in their best interests to have “those two” considering other preemptive schemes despite the Bush regime’s obvious incompetence and corruption? When asking what this entity might be, I think we can safely rule out most Americans. This powerful entity must have a whole heap of influence over congress and the press as well.

Can you think of any country with a powerful lobby in the U.S. that is powerful enough to get “those two” to destroy Iraq, contemplate the obliteration of Iran with nukes and start WW III… or is that WW IV?

Mum’s the word. These days in polite society one does not name the entity that must not be named or question its actions. That’s too bad because a thorough going debate would be in everybody’s best interest. No, we must not name it even when everybody knows exactly what it is.

As long as Bush and Congress are in the thrall of the entity that must not be named, America will continue to rattle sabers at Iran. Congress will continue to be intimidated by something more influential than the American Public or the U.S. Constitution. There will be no withdrawal from Iraq, Bush and Cheney will not be impeached and the era of endless war will not end. One wonders if the rhetoric of fear is a ploy by “those two” to avoid a war crimes tribunal?

This cannot be allowed to continue.

What is at stake is not American security from terrorists. “Those two” have provided us with plenty of terror. What is at stake is our freedom.

And the last remaining tool to restore our freedom may be the U.S. Constitution’s trump card of impeachment provided by this little clause (Article II, section 4). The legal ability to remove a corrupt leader is the one thing that sets us apart from the citizens of, say, Zimbabwe.

Do you want to give up your freedom? Use it or lose it.

If ever there was a time for impeachment it is now. Without impeachment, the precedent set by Bush and Cheney will enable the next president to continue what “those two” have begun. And the Power of the People will be gone forever.

Click here: 'Anyone who does not fight war crime is condoning war crime' | Politicker ME

Amnesty Day for Bush and lawbreaking telecoms

Acts of Fortitude and Integrity of Impeachment
OpEdNews - Newtown,PA,USA
by Dom Jermano Page 1 of 2 page(s) Obama is not putting forces together to impeach Bush and Cheney. He will make himself a deceiver if he supports ...

If you thought the Bush administration couldn't get any scarier, they have a new surprise for you: In a dangerous precedent, the administration wishes to grant India an exemption from the long-standing nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Fortunately, Rep. Howard Berman (Dem., CA 28th) has introduced H. Res. 711, and you can help by taking action here. H. Res. 711 attempts to hold the administration accountable not only to common sense but to the Hyde Act ("United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation act of 2006", which President Bush himself signed into law on December 18, 2006.

H. Res. 711 resolves there be no change to nuclear guidelines relating to India until the administration addresses inconsistencies between its new nuclear cooperation agreement and the Hyde Act. The full text of the resolution also notes, among several sobering points, that "an unqualified exemption for India would create a strong incentive for India to negotiate nuclear cooperation agreements with other countries..."

For a fascinating, closer look at the players and factors in the global nuclear game, see this excellent chart from the Carnegie Endowment.

Please help keep the nuclear genie bottled up as much as possible. Take action! Tell your Congressman to vote for H. Res. 711. Send a message by clicking here.

ACTION ALERT: Stand Up Against Administration Fear Tactics

The Bottom Line: The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush

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