Court Of Impeachment And War Crimes: Campaign Round-Up: (This Stuff Is Getting To Be Squirrel Food!) Going Nuts Over Politics!

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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!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Campaign Round-Up: (This Stuff Is Getting To Be Squirrel Food!) Going Nuts Over Politics!

Campaign Round-Up: (This Stuff Is Getting To Be Squirrel Food!) Going Nuts Over Politics!

Today’s installment of campaign-related news items that wouldn’t generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers:

* Uncommitted superdelegates seem to be falling off the fence this week in far larger numbers. Yesterday, Hillary Clinton picked up support from Puerto Rico’s Luisette Cabanas, and today she’ll get the endorsement of Connecticut DNC member and state AFL-CIO head John Olsen.

* Obama has added to his superdelegate total as well. Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) threw her support to Obama yesterday, and the campaign announced this morning that it would pick up three more next week when the Democratic Party of Illinois meets to finish filling out its delegate slate.

* Perhaps most notably on the superdelegate front, former DNC Chairman Joe Andrew, who had endorsed Hillary Clinton the day she announced her campaign, switched to Obama yesterday and encouraged his colleagues to “heal the rift in our party” and unite behind the Illinois senator. The AP reported, “Mr. Andrew said the Obama campaign never asked him to switch his support, but he decided to do so after watching Sen. Obama’s handling of two issues in recent days. He said Sen. Obama took the principled stand in opposing a summer gas tax holiday that both Sens. Clinton and McCain supported, even though it would have been easier politically to back it. And he said he was impressed with Sen. Obama’s handling of the controversy surrounding his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.”

* As of now, among endorsements from Democratic members of Congress, Clinton and Obama are tied at 97 each.

* Perhaps concerned with how voters might perceive the Clinton/McCain gas-tax-holiday idea, the Obama campaign unveiled a new ad last night featuring comments from an Obama speech this week: “I’m here to tell you the truth. We could suspend the gas tax for 6 months, but that’s not going to bring down gas prices long-term. You’re gonna save about $25, $30 dollars or half a tank of gas. That’s typical of how Washington works.” He called idea a “short-term quick fix,” which it is.

* Mason-Dixon has Obama leading Clinton in North Carolina by seven, while Insider Advantage has Clinton up by two over Obama in the same state.

* Rasmussen shows Clinton leading Obama in Indiana by five.

* New data from Quinnipiac shows Clinton polling better than Obama in general-election match-ups in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

* To pay for his admittedly thin health care plan, McCain may end up raising taxes a bit on those with expensive health plans.

* Among Dems nationwide, Obama leads Clinton by three, 46% to 43%, according to the latest NBC/WSJ poll (pdf). A month ago, the two were tied at 45% each.

* In the latest NYT/CBS poll, however, Dems nationwide prefer Obama to Clinton by a wider margin, 46% to 38%. The same poll gives Clinton an edge, though, in the general election against McCain — Obama and McCain are tied in the poll, while Clinton leads him by five.

* Dennis Kucinich has a plan to distribute Michigan and Florida delegates based on poll results.

* And, oddly enough, both Dems lose to McCain in his home state of Arizona, but Obama is within single digits.

Daily Digest: The Online Cacophony Gets the Vanity Fair Treatment
By Joshua Levy, 05/01/2008 - 12:09pm

The Web on the Candidates

  • Barack Obama supporters are up in arms over a series of robo-calls placed by Women’s Voices Women Vote, a Democratic GOTV group that includes, among others, former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta and OpenLeft’s Mike Lux on its board. Originally reported by Chris Kromm at the site Facing South, the calls went out “to an untold number of North Carolina voters telling them that they need to fill out a registration form before they vote,” and that the calls were targeting “black neighborhoods,” according to TPM Muckraker’s Paul Kiel. The problem is that the registration deadline for the primaries was April 11, causing confusion for many folks and raising the suspicions of Obama activists. The Politico’s Ben Smith points out that the story broke in the blogosphere, with DailyKos diarists accusing the group of deliberating confusing voters to aid Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, WVWV founder Page Gardner writes that this was an honest mistake. Kromm doesn’t buy it. He writes that her statement “in no ways refutes, or even addresses, any of the basic facts put forward by our investigation,” and offers up a bevy of evidence for his case. And North Carolina Attorney General has opened an investigation. You’ll be hearing much more about this.

  • In case you haven’t been paying attention to the election (but reading this site?) SlateV has a fun primer, telling you everything you know about the Democrats in seven minutes. It’s all there: Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, Clinton crying in New Hampshire, Obama wearing Somali headgear, Iowa surprises, etc. Man, this thing has been slogging on…

  • Vanity Fair’s James Wolcott has a fantastic piece on the growing schism in the Democratic party between Clinton and Obama supporters and how it’s playing out online. This quote alone makes it required reading: “Daily Kos dominates the firmament as the Battlestar Galactica of Net-roots activism, an electronic-beehive amalgam of fund-raising machine, bulletin board, crisis center, poll-data aggregator, diary showcase, and collective mood ring that proved its mettle with the Democratic victories in 2006, due in no small part to the Great Orange Satan’s ability to pinpoint winnable races, mobilize donation support, and stoke morale.” Wolcott does a good job of teasing a narrative out of the liberal blogosphere’s cacophony, making it tangible to outsiders and insiders alike. Of course, Wolcott’s narrative is just one of many you can make; it’s quite possible that the splits he emphasizes for dramatic effect will fade away come this fall.

  • Congressional Quarterly has a new March Madness-inspired game that lets the public weigh in on who John McCain should choose as his running mate. In the first round you vote for an unspecified number of candidates (it’s a little clunky), and these will be gradually winnowed down to a winner on May 22. It’s also simply a good way to learn more about the prominent Republicans who are being considered — we hope the CQ staff makes the instructions a bit easier to understand.

  • A new campaign from the Association of Unity Churches International is seeking to turn negative campaigning on its head. “When a negative political ad comes on the TV or radio, mute the sound or change the channel,” suggests The key is to repeat this affirmation: “I make a positive difference. I look for the good in this situation and respond with love, wisdom and understanding.” Who can attack that?

The Candidates on the Web

  • The MOMocrats blog, disappointed with the last ABC News Democratic debate, asked its readers for questions for Barack Obama and submitted them to the Obama campaign. Today the campaign responded to five of those questions, covering poverty, the credit crisis, torture, child care, and maternity leave. Kudos to the MOMocrats crew for getting this through, and to the Obama campaign for participating (if you don’t have time for the lengthy responses check out Off The Bus’ recap).

  • Blogger jlarson at the progressive blog One Million Strong noticed that the Obama campaign has added a new graphic to its home page showing the total number of delegates for Clinton and Obama and the number needed to win. “I like it because it defines the contest and lets us all know that we are no longer so far from the end,” jlarson writes. Ain’t that the truth. Just for clarity’s sake, it’s helpful to know what the Obama campaign officially thinks the totals are — we’d like to see the Clinton campaign do the same thing.

In Case You Missed It…

Micah Sifry has some quick takes on the three campaigns’ ups and downs in YouTube-land: Will Hillary Clinton’s difficulties finding the rest-stop coffee machine ON button go viral? Judging by the more than 225K views its gotten since last night, the answer is yes. Does anyone want to go “Behind the Scenes” with John McCain? Did Obama’s denounce-and-reject press conference have the Wright stuff?

After weeks of gotchas from the e-paparazzi, which seemed to suggest Web Video is the medium only of the gaffe, Dan Manatt discovers a Web Video exposé that restores faith in the new citizen medium.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Dennis J. Kucinich has proposed a plan to seat delegations from Florida and Michigan at the Democratic National Convention based on the results of a fresh round of polling in the two states.

The Democratic Party stripped the states of their delegates as punishment for holding primaries in January in violation of rules designed to preserve the role of early primary states, including Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, in the nominating process.

Kucinich’s proposal, a copy of which was obtained by CQ Politics Wednesday, has been circulating among Democratic members of the House for nearly a week.

The plan would base the distribution of delegates on polling conducted by three firms, one selected by each campaign and a third chosen by the other two companies. Delegates would be apportioned based on the composite findings of the three polls. None of the firms could have previously been employed by either campaign.

“The Democratic Party faces the intolerable prospect of disenfranchising Florida and Michigan’s voters from choosing our presidential nominee in this closely contested primary election,” Kucinich, who represents a Cleveland-based district, wrote to his colleagues in a letter dated April 24. “This makes finding a remedy a political requirement and a democratic necessity.”

On Tuesday, four leading Michigan Democrats sent a plan to the state party chairman suggesting a delegate allocation for the state that would give New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton 69 delegates and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama 59 delegates. Clinton won 55 percent of the vote in Michigan’s unsanctioned January primary, but Obama and most of the other Democratic candidates were not on the ballot, having withdrawn their names to comply with the national party’s wishes. Most Obama voters cast ballots for “uncommitted.”

The Michigan proposal, written by Sen. Carl Levin , Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick , United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger and DNC member Debbie Dingell, “splits the difference between the 73/55 position of the Clinton campaign and the 64/64 position of the Obama campaign,” according to its authors.

In his letter to colleagues, Kucinich noted that his is a less-than-perfect plan for rectifying a less-than-ideal situation.

“Simple, accurate and cost effective, this solution is nevertheless no substitute for actual voting,” he wrote. “But it is better than any other solution proposed thus far.”

New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton would defeat Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain by signficant margins in the key states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, according to a newly released poll, while McCain would run a close race with Ilinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama in Florida and Ohio, but lose to Obama in Pennsylvania.

The data comes from the latest swing state survey conducted by Quinnipiac University, which has gauged the sentiment of Ohio, Pennyslvania and Florida voters every few weeks for the last two years. It was Clinton's strongest showing since the institution started its polls. Polling institute assistant director Peter A. Brown attributed Clinton's lead in those states to her appeal to white working class voters.

"Voters in Ohio don't trust her, but think she'll fix the economy, is a strong leader and cares about people like them," said Brown. "In that way, she's like her husband."

Quinnipiac is continuously polling in those three states because nobody has won the White House since 1960 without winning two of them, said Brown.

"If the super delegates are looking at electability, these results could be a shot in the arm for Sen. Clinton," he continued, calling McCain's ties to Bush "a significant problem" to voters. Bush's approval rating is under 25 percent in all three states, the poll found.

The survey of 1,127 Ohio voters conducted from April 23 to 29 found that Clinton would beat McCain in Ohio by a 48 to 38 percent margin. It put McCain ahead of Obama by a 43 to 42 percent spread - within the poll's 2.9 percent margin of error.

In Pennsylvania, it found Clinton would beat McCain 51 to 37 percent, while Obama would beat him by a 47 to 38 percent margin. Florida voters prefer Clinton to McCain by a 49 to 41 percent spread, and prefer McCain over Obama by a 44 to 43 percent margin, the poll said.

Since Air America came on the scene—restoring my sanity and belief in journalistic truthfulness—I’ve been spouting the idea of having a dream ticket: Clinton/Obama ’08. Not many takers in my house. Grumblings about he’s too young, he’s black, he’s too smart … we’re not ready for 3 in 1. Friends were appalled to learn that I thought Hillary should lead the ticket based solely on name recognition. Didn’t I know that I was from Illinois? Didn’t I know that I’m African American? Where’s my friend who was a Jackson delegate in ’88?

I’m not ashamed to admit that I get it wrong sometimes. (shh, don’t tell my husband I said this, m’kay? As far as he’s concerned, I’m ALWAYS right.) It’s based on fear, caution, hedging of bets. I didn’t think Keith Ellison had a chance. I truly didn’t. But my husband did and he supported him. And shut my mouth, Ellison is perhaps the most prolific, progressive congressman I’ve ever known.

So keeping my milk-toastiness at bay, I started paying attention far earlier than my political biological clock said I should, and began handicapping the candidates. And found that I liked most of them. Edwards, Kucinich, Richardson and Obama, in that order, were the candidates who addressed my highest ideals for a mo’ betta’ republic. With Senator Obama’s victory in Iowa, my weak-kneed support found solidity, and I committed to his candidacy 100%. I made phone calls, worked events and canvassed my community.

I became an Obama delegate to the Senate District convention on February 5th. Then I applied and interviewed to become a member of the DFL’s senate district executive committee. “I am the future that I’ve been waiting for” was my new mantra.

Not knowing that my interview had been successful and was being offered a position to Congressional District 5 to represent SD61, I chose the hard way, to run from the ‘convention floor’ for an officer position—and won. Delighting in winning, I chose to further my meteoric climb to DFL greatness and ran for state delegate status. And got an alternate spot. Not what I hoped for, but at least I’m invited to attend without voting. It’s like being brought to the cool kids’ party, but asked to remain in the kitchen so the drinks and snacks keep flowing.

Yes I can … a bastardization of my presidential candidate’s motto was the new mantra. He needed people like me in Denver. Winners who cheer loudly. I didn’t need to work at, learn more or campaign for the ‘big show:’ it was destiny because I can. I’m all that and a bag of bull.

People. I couldn’t have been more deluded. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

At the endorsement convention for Keith Ellison, CD-5 had 8 Obama and 2 Clinton delegates to vote on. My last experience with this kind of convention was 20 years ago. Youthful inexperience and undeniable poverty kept me from pursuing the trip to Atlanta then. Not that I didn’t think I could win it, but stalwart, cash-infused ‘middle-aged’ Dems convinced me I couldn’t. This year, I thought: ‘I’m still broke, but I’m mature enough, and dog-gone-it, I’m a winner.’

Some 100 people submitted their interest to represent our congressional district in Denver. 100! And many of those running had GAME. Bottled water with their pictures pasted on ‘em. Posters. Buttons. Fortune Cookies. YouTube videos and, to my horror, personalized Obama t-shirts, showing the prospective delegate with the Senator.

Reality showed its ugly head, and I felt the stress of my feckless venture into political gamesmanship, with the realization that the campaigns to which I’d given my support with time and interest had no support for me. (One delegate candidate shared, “Did you know candidate so-and-so called me and offered to make calls to delegates for me?” NO, but how nice—boy, you’re lucky.) The need for me to admit that I had no juice made me into a whining, surly, churlish witch. I had to leave—make it stop. I had to get out of that place. So, at 3:00 p.m., I got up in front of the 100 or so Obama delegates and announced my withdrawal from running for national delegate.

People were nice about it. And if I’d stopped at flashing the hang-ten, devil grin, it would’ve been fine. But I didn’t. Displaying ignorance beyond the pale, I stated my support for another delegate and asked others to consider her as well. The cacophonous echo of boos was deafening. I was ordered to relinquish the mike. Blushing, stammering apologies to the party-faithful-insiders, I stumbled out of the auditorium. It stung to be rebuffed so utterly. Ignoring candidate tables and their volunteers in the long hallway to the door I took a deep breath, and stole SD61’s mylar balloon. I thought I’d earned it.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is not a whore? Who knew!

Now This Makes sense…

Poll: Bush most unpopular in modern history
By davidswanson
"Bush's approval rating, which stands at 28 percent in our new poll, remains better than the all-time lows set by Harry Truman and Richard Nixon (22 percent and 24 percent, respectively) but even those two presidents never got a ..

Get your US Flag pin on! You’re gonna be proud of America once again!

Righting the Wrongs of the Right

In Dante's Inferno, deceivers are sentenced to have their souls encased in flames, hypocrites are forced to wear cloaks weighted with lead, and those who use their powers of persuasion for insidious ends are doomed to suffer a continual fever so intense that their bodies sizzle and smoke like a steak splayed upon a George Foreman grill. But the worst affliction is reserved for those who know better and don't act on that knowledge. If we are going to avoid that fate, we need to purge ourselves of the media toxicity that has allowed the Right to flourish, and encourage those who know better to stand up and speak the truth.

Why have we been so vulnerable to such a brazen takeover of our foreign policy—allowing the launch of an immoral, unnecessary, and ultimately catastrophic war? Why have we tolerated staying on this disastrous course despite all evidence that it is leading us over a cliff? Why have we allowed the shredding of our Constitution— warrantless mass eavesdropping on American citizens, firing of U.S. Attorneys, quashing of dissent? Why have we enabled the corruption of American values—allowing torture to become policy, and permitting such obscenities as Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo to replace the glory of Omaha Beach and the bold vision of the Marshall Plan?

Why have we capitulated to the undermining of science—the suicidal denial of scientific reports on global warming and stem cell research? And nearly a century after the Scopes trial, why are we once again allowing the armies of ignorance to assail Darwin and evolution? With the consequences of the media's failure to do their job over the last seven years raining down on us every day, it's easy to point the finger of blame at our toothless journalistic watchdogs. It is indeed beyond time for reporters to become intrepid again and for the pundits to free themselves from the conventional wisdom.

And it is just as easy to put the blame on our Democratic leaders who again and again became enablers, behaving more like loyal lackeys than the loyal opposition. It is also beyond time for them to stop being so easily cowed by attacks on their patriotism and by the cynical exploitation of fear and the now ritual waving of the banner of national security. But, ultimately, to put an end to the madness inflicted on us by the Right, we need to address the root causes of the rot afflicting our politics. And nothing is more central to this task than character. After all, not everyone is equally affected by the fear-mongering and the pressure to capitulate. Some—whether in the media or in elected office— manage to remain uncontaminated, or recognize their contamination earlier than others and join the fight against the forces polluting their judgment and their courage.

Otherwise, why did Jack Murtha change course on the war in 2005 while Joe Lieberman never managed to see through the fog of lies and manipulation? What made the late Paul Wellstone, even though he was facing a tough reelection battle, immune to the fears that led so many of his colleagues to vote for a war authorization resolution they knew was wrong? And what made Chuck Hagel stand up to his own party once the overwhelming evidence convinced him that the war was wrong?

In a word: leadership.

In this time of Lilliputian public figures it's clear that to end the hijacking of America by the Right each one of us needs to take up the gauntlet and stand up for the truth, no matter how many in the corridors of power or at the top of the media food chain would prefer to maintain the status quo. Leadership is a risky business requiring wisdom, courage, and fortitude—and as my compatriot Socrates put it, courage is the knowledge of what is not to be feared. Leadership has always been about seeing clearly while most around you have their vision clouded.

The American genius is about bringing out the extraordinary in ordinary people. Picture Jimmy Stewart's Jefferson Smith going to Washington or Gary Cooper's Longfellow Deeds going to town. It wasn't elected officials who led the struggle for civil rights or the drive for women's rights or the fight to end the war in Vietnam or the war in Iraq. It was the people. And once again it will be the people trusting the truth they see—no matter how often it is denied by those in power—that will put America back on the road to goodness and to greatness.

The Right's orgy of greed, hubris, and arrogance will go down as an era marked by the celebration of selfishness and naked brute force. Over this past year it seemed, thankfully, that America was poised to turn a new page and close the book on this tragic chapter of our history. The nomination of John McCain, however, will change this. McCain is the Trojan Horse the Right desperately needed to put a faux maverick, faux independent, faux straight-talker imprint on the same ruinous policies that have taken us down this dark road.

Though the era of the Right has exhausted its historic course, collapsing in moral, political, and economic bankruptcy, the transformation and co-opting of McCain shows the durability of the Right and the lingering danger it poses. There is nothing automatic about its disappearance from the stage. Not unless we, together, give it—and John McCain—a mighty push into the wings and out the stage door.

-Arianna Huffington-

On Iraq: "When the Right calls progress in Iraq a mixed bag, that’s like a doctor saying that your acne has cleared up but you have a brain tumor—and calling the diagnosis a mixed bag."

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