Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Now In Danger, Your Right To Vote

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

By the Too Sense afrosphere blog, via the Afrosphere Associated Press (AAP)

The news that the Supreme Court is going to consider the constitutionality of certain voter ID laws is anything but good, given the court's current political makeup.

The Supreme Court said yesterday that it will consider whether state laws requiring voters to present photo identification at polling places unfairly discriminate against the poor and minorities, injecting the justices into a fiercely partisan battle just before the 2008 elections.
Just in time to give the GOP an advantage by ruling as constitutional laws that have been consistently shown to discourage minority voting. Voter fraud, which these laws are meant to prevent, has been found not to be widespread, which calls into question the Supreme Court's decision to review the case. How is reviewing these laws urgent, except in light of an upcoming election in which polls consistently show the Republican Party at a disadvantage? From an April 2007 article in the NYT:
A federal panel responsible for conducting election research played down the findings of experts who concluded last year that there was little voter fraud around the nation, according to a review of the original report obtained by The New York Times.


And two weeks ago, the panel faced criticism for refusing to release another report it commissioned concerning voter identification laws. That report, which was released after intense pressure from Congress, found that voter identification laws designed to fight fraud can reduce turnout, particularly among members of minorities.

The previous Supreme Court had no problem making Bush president by judicial fiat in 2000. Imagine how far this court will go to give an advantage to the Republican Party.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Debate No-Shows Worry GOP Leaders

GOP Candidates Are Urged (in vain?)
to Attend Forums Sponsored by Minorities

As so often happens lately, after reading in the AfroSpear about the lack of Republican participation in the Tavis Smiley presidential debate, I see that the issue is now getting more coverage in the corporate media as well. The Washington Post reports today,
Key Republican leaders are encouraging the party's presidential candidates to rethink their decision to skip presidential debates focusing on issues important to minorities, fearing a backlash that could further erode the party's standing with black and Latino voters.

The leading contenders for the Republican nomination have indicated they will not attend the "All American Presidential Forum" organized by black talk show host Tavis Smiley, scheduled for Sept. 27 at Morgan State University in Baltimore and airing on PBS. Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former senator Fred D. Thompson (Tenn.) and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) all cited scheduling conflicts in forgoing the debate. The top Democratic contenders attended a similar event in June at Howard University.

"We sound like we don't want immigration; we sound like we don't want black people to vote for us," said former congressman Jack Kemp (N.Y.), who was the GOP vice presidential nominee in 1996. "What are we going to do -- meet in a country club in the suburbs one day? If we're going to be competitive with people of color, we've got to ask them for their vote."

Read the rest at the Washington Post

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New York Times, WaPost Laud Hillary's New Approach to Health Care

Cross posted at Political Fleshfeast.

I can't believe the Iowa Caucuses are just three months away! I've been writing and publishing essays on behalf of Hillary Clinton for about eighteen months now, so I'm very excited to see how much things have progressed.

There are a lot of reasons why I strongly support Hillary Clinton, but her determination to make health care available to everyone in America is one of the foremost reasons. It's easy to say you support national health care, but there's only one candidate in the race - Democratic or Republican - who is universally known for her commitment to universal health care, and that candidate is Hillary Clinton.

A CBS News poll released Monday night suggests that Mrs. Clinton has already turned the health care issue from a liability to an asset, at least among Democratic primary voters: 61 percent said they had confidence in her ability to make the right decisions on health care, compared with 42 percent who felt that way about Mr. Obama, and 39 percent about Mr. Edwards. The survey also found that few voters held her responsible for the failure to pass universal health insurance during her husband's presidency. New York Times

Now, based on a wealth of experience that no other candidate can match, Hillary Clinton has presented a new health plan that has the advantage of being based on all that she learned, politically and substantively in the fight over the old one. I feel so encouraged that last night I started a new blog, the Americal Health Choices Plan Blog, just to have a place to post this new health plan in a way that it will be readily available (not in PDF) for all to study and discuss.

And it's clear Hillary has learned a lot. The New York Times reports today,

Mrs. Clinton and her aides emphasized that her plan would not create any new federal agencies, a senior adviser did acknowledge that the government would need more workers to oversee the expanded options. It is too early to say how many workers, or at what cost, the adviser said.

The candidate and her aides also underscored that her plan was a broad outline, that it would change in the political process and that she was keenly aware of a need to build consensus. New York Times

The Clinton team eagerly points out the lessons they learned from the unsuccessful efforts to implement national health care back in 1993:

Gene Sperling, a campaign adviser who worked on the first Clinton health-care effort when he served on the White House staff, said the Clinton plan would be financed by letting elements of the Bush tax cuts affecting high-income earners expire, although he said over time that her proposals for reducing medical costs would also help pay for the program.

"She felt very strongly it was important to show we were reversing the irresponsibility we've seen over the last years," Sperling said.

Sperling said there were at least three major differences between the 1993 proposal and the current one: It would not require patients to enter into a national alliance, but instead allow people to keep their existing coverage; it would not have a single government entity making decisions; and it would not penalize small businesses for failing to provide insurance but would instead encourage them through tax credits.

"It is a simpler plan," Sperling said. "It allows people who are happy with their coverage to keep their coverage. It not only doesn't have any major new bureaucracy, it relies much more on choice and competition to keep prices down."

"We're not writing every single detail of this plan," said Laurie Rubiner, Clinton's top health-care policy adviser, adding that Clinton learned her lesson in trying to be overly prescriptive. "We're going to leave a lot of this to the congressional committees." Washington Post

Although all Democratic presidential candidates realize that health care will be perhaps the most important domestic policy issue in the 2008 race, and they are all promising to implement national health care, it is unlikely that any candidate can show as much knowledge of the issue in a debate, both substantively and in terms of the political struggle that is to come.

The New York Times reports today,

In Mrs. Clinton's speech on Monday and in policy briefings afterward, her camp emphasized that many of the powerful interest groups around health care - including business, labor, consumer advocates and hospitals - had begun to seek common ground as the number of uninsured approaches 50 million. But even as Mr. Edwards sought to portray her as insufficiently independent of special interests, Mrs. Clinton said she would not shrink from a fight with drug and insurance companies.

She said she would put new regulations on the insurance industry, "eliminating discrimination" against those with health problems. Doing so, she acknowledged, will not make her the industry's "woman of the year." New York Times

2007 GOP Won't Even Talk to Black Folks


Hat Tip: Huffington Post
2007 GOP Won't Even Talk to Black Folks
I guess Fred Thompson and his Grand "Old" Party don't see "2007 as the Year of the Black Republican." In fact, it appears that Fred Thompson and his Grand "Old" Party see 2007 as a year for "old" white Republicans standing their ground and preparing an old fashioned dish of classic old school race politics for black folks to eat. More HERE

Monday, September 17, 2007

AfroSpear Bloggers Address Edwards Campaign's Statements About Diversity in the Democratic Nomination Process

AfroSpear bloggers are expressing disappointment that recent statements by the John Edwards presidential campaign may reflect resentment toward in diversity in the 2008 Democratic presidential nominating process. On June 17, in Carol, Iowa, John Edwards implied that only a white man can win the presidency, saying,
"It's not just a question of who you like. It's not just a question of whose vision you are impressed with. It's also a question of who is most likely to win the general election. It's a pretty simple thing. Who will be a stronger candidate in the general election here in the State of Iowa? Who can go to other parts of the country when we have swing candidates running for the Congress and the Senate? Is the candidate going to have to say, 'Don't come here. Don't come here and campaign with me. I can't win if you campaign with me.'"Iowa Independent
He added later,
"I think it's just a reality that I can campaign anyplace in America." Iowa Independent
Edwards appeared to be implying that he should be the Democratic nominee because he is a white man.

Then, Elizabeth Edwards, in an interview with CIO Insights’ Edwards Cone, published August 6, 2007, said,
“We can't make John black, we can't make him a woman. Those things get you a lot of press, worth a certain amount of fundraising dollars. Now it's nice to get on the news, but not the be all and end all.”
Many AfroSpear bloggers interpret that statement as an expression of the Edwards campaign’s resentment at having to compete in a diverse candidate field. The Slant Truth AfroSpear blog said,

Did you just read what I just read? Elizabeth Edwards just played the "what about teh menz" and the "what about teh white folks" card in a single hand. And she did so in reference to a medium that is supposed to help democratize political participation in the U.S.. Does she really expect anyone to believe that her husband is at a political disadvantage because he is a white male? Slant Truth

The PlezWorld AfroSpear Blog was equally critical of the Edwards campaign, calling Elizabeth Edwards' recent comments "absurd."

The implication that Obama and Hillary consider getting attention for being black or a woman "the be all and end all" is, of course, completely absurd, especially given how much black-on-black racism the Obama campaign has faced, and how dizzy everyone got when Hillary showed the tiniest bit of cleavage.

[Elizabeth Edwards] remarks are also the ultimate in irony. She spent the article praising the Web; now that same engine will work overtime to crucify her. PlezWorld

Now, in a September 17 New Yorker article, Edwards told the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza,

“The difference between them, Edwards told me, is the difference between “Kumbaya” and “saying, ‘This is a battle. It’s a fight.’” (Emphasis added.) September 17 New Yorker article,

To this, the Too Sense AfroSpear blog says,

Edwards To America: "I'm The White Guy." That's the subtext of this WaPo article, and I would be entirely skeptical were it not for recent comments made by his wife and the cover of last month's Esquire, but it really seems like appealing to white America's sense of its own victimhood is becoming an election strategy for the Edwards campaign. Too Sense
A brief study of the history of the word "kumbaya" shows that the word is inherently linked to the Black struggle for freedom and equality in the United States:

O "spiritual" foi a primeira manifestação musical norte-americana, pois clássicos europeus, baladas inglesas, hinos e cantos irlandeses dominavam a música dos Estados Unidos até os escravos criarem seus cânticos de sofrimento e esperança.

Translated: The spiritual was the first North American music [in the Colonial period], because European classics, English ballads, Irish cantos and hymns dominated United States music until the [Black] slaves created their own songs of suffering and hope. Electronic Brazil
Wikipedia says:
Originally titled "Come By Here", it first appeared in "Revival Choruses of Marvin V. Frey", a lyric sheet printed in Portland in 1939. In 1946, the song returned from Africa with a missionary family, who toured America singing the song with its now world famous Angolan text "Kum Ba Yah". ( . . . ) The song enjoyed newfound popularity during the folk revival of the 1960s, largely due to Joan Baez's 1962 recording of the song, and became associated with the Civil Rights Movement of that decade. Wikipedia: Kumbaya
Although Edwards may not have meant to reference Obama’s African heritage by disparaging his efforts using the African word “kumbaya,” which is the name a song that symbolizes the American Civil Rights Movement, still Edwards has left the impression that he may resent running in a diverse and competitive field.

Comments such as these risk leaving the impression that John Edwards seeks to highlight the fact that he is a white man as a selling point in his competition for the Democratic nomination.

Many AfroSpear bloggers have welcomed the Edwards campaign’s focus on poverty and New Orleans. However, we regret comments and statements that appear to express resentment at competing in a diverse and strong field of candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Francis L. Holland, Esq.
The Francis L. Holland AfroSpear Blog
Democratic Afrosphere

BlackWater, Republicans, and Time for Change

The Politics of War in Iraq - Elections at Home

For Iraqi's Blood Is Thicker Than Blackwater
. Blackwater USA a private military company (ie mercenary) and security firm. Founded in 1997 by Erik Prince and Al Clark, has been banned from working in Iraq after the fatal killing of civilians in Iraq. As you can see from this YouTube Report by Jeremy Scahill, he describes the rise of Blackwater Shadow U.S. Army that has been getting paid big time by the U.S. government.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund reports on how the Iraq's Interior Ministry has banned the American private security firm, Blackwater USA, from operating in Iraq after eight civilians were killed after Blackwater members guarding a State Department motorcade allegedly responded to gunshots with open fire. In 2003, the Bush administration awarded the firm a $21.3 million no-bid contract to provide security for then-Amb. Paul Bremer. In 2006, the company moved from solely providing private security details "to a more 'overt combat role,' essentially becoming an army for hire." Though dozens of Blackwater mercenaries have been killed or wounded in Iraq, notably the four guards who were killed in Fallujah in 2004, the Pentagon does not include these causalities in its official tally. Iraq's Interior Ministry has indicated it will investigate Sunday's incident and press charges against the individuals involved. It is unclear whether the Iraqi government has the authority to prosecute Blackwater employees. As the AP notes, "Unlike soldiers, they are not bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Under a special provision secured by American-occupying forces, they are exempt from prosecution by Iraqis for crimes committed there."

Let's see who gets involved in a coverup on this one. Have any ideas?

BlackWater USA From Iraq to New Orleans. Is your city next?

Don't even think about voting for a Republican next year. If a Black Republican suggest that you vote Republican ask them to read this blog, read this post, and watch this video.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Clinton Hails Appeals Court Decision in Jena Six Case

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Hat Tip to Zimbel!

At an NAACP banquet in North Charleston, SC today, Hillary Clinton made many of the policy promises and provided advocacy support that it will take to solidly cement her status as the leader for African America's primary votes in 2008. She spoke forcefully against the injustice in Jena Louisiana just for days before the Jena Six Justice March:
She applauded the Friday decision by an appeals court in Louisiana tossing out the aggravated battery conviction that could have sent a black teenager to prison for 15 years in last year's beating of a white classmate in the racially tense town of Jena.

The teenager, 16 at the time of the December beating of a white youth, should not have been tried as an adult, the appeals court ruled. He is one of six black students charged in the attack and one of five originally charged as adults with attempted second-degree murder.

The charges have brought criticism that blacks are treated more harshly than whites after racial confrontations.

"There is no excuse for the way the legal system treated those young people," she said. Yahoo News
Unveiling her agenda to promote civil rights, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton told the NAACP banquet Saturday that the "scales of justice are seriously out of balance" for black Americans," according to Yahoo News.
"We have had an attorney general who doesn't respect the rule of law or enforce the civil rights laws on the books," she told about 900 people at the annual Freedom Fund Banquet of the Charleston National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Earlier Saturday, the New York senator issued a release in which she said she will focus on the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, including adding to its budget, as part of an effort to "undo the damage done under President Bush."

Clinton said during her speech that too many people are invisible to the nation's leaders.

"You're invisible to the president even when you are on CNN," she said, referring to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina two years ago.

Clinton, rival Barack Obama and other presidential candidates are heavily courting the black vote as they trek through this early voting state. Nearly half the voters in the 2004 Democratic presidential primary here were black.

Clinton said her administration would seek to rebuild the Justice Department's traditional role in defending civil rights and to review charges of improper, politically motivated hiring to determine whether any laws were broken.

"We have to believe justice is blind in America," she told the audience.

The earlier campaign statement accused the Bush administration of driving the Civil Rights Division "toward an agenda driven by partisanship, cronyism and ideology" and cited media reports that state political appointees have dominated the hiring process under Bush.

Last month, Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim, the Justice Department's top civil rights enforcer, resigned after more than a year of criticism that his office filled its ranks with conservative loyalists instead of experienced attorneys. The Justice Department said his office had set record levels of civil rights enforcement. Yahoo News

Clinton addressed a series of other issues of fundamental importance to Blacks, and her substantive commitments on voting rights, accessibility, and DC statehood are sure to cement her role as front-runnner for the support of Black Americans.
Clinton's other proposals include combatting voter ID laws, letting ex-felons who have completed their sentences regain their right to vote and making Election Day a federal holiday to make voting easier. She said she would press for Washington, D.C., to get a seat in the House of Representatives.

Clinton also is proposing an expansion of federal hate crimes legislation to include crimes committed against people based on their gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Yahoo News
This comes at a time when Blacks are concluding that Barack Obama, while a very compelling candidate and one whom Blacks would like to support, still simply doesn't have the experience, the political chops or offer a sufficient rationale to unseat Clinton's front-runner status for Black votes and win the general election in 2008. Field Negro and Comments to Field Negro's diary: "I have to leave the bandwagon: But I could be back."

Edwards Camp Acknowledges, Ignores Democratic Afrosphere Criticisms

Cross posted at Political Fleshfeast
and the Francis L. Holland Blog.

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John Edwards Calls Obama "Kumbaya" Candidate,
While Edwards Camp Practices Blog Apartheid

Yesterday afternoon, at the Democratic Afrosphere blog, I published an article strongly criticizing Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards for referring to Barack Obama as a "Kumbaya" politician, for implying that only a white male candidate can "run anywhere," for Edwards' staff's apparent failure to include any Black bloggers on an Edwards bloglist at DailyKos, and for Edwards' wife insistence that Edwards runs with as the underdog in 2008 because he is a white man!

In fact, these statements have caused considerable consternation in the Afrosphere (the Black blogosphere), and have caused many Black bloggers and voters to decide conclusively that they will not support John Edwards and will instead oppose his candidacy. John Edwards is not ready for prime time in the Black community.

John Edwards Calls Obama "Kumbaya" Candidate, While Edwards Camp Practices Blog Apartheid

This morning at 2:21:53 AM, the Edwards campaign in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (see graphic above) received an e-mail regarding the Democratic Afrosphere article and visited the blog to review the article. However, the Edwards campaign still has not addressed the criticisms, still has not apologized for the offensive statements, and still has not addressed the apartheid blogging policies of its supporters in the whitosphere.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

John Edwards Calls Obama "Kumbaya" Candidate, While Edwards Camp Practices Blog Apartheid

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One of the reasons that many Black bloggers refuse to participate in the whitosphere is "bloglist apartheid." Many pseudo-progressive whitosphere bloggers simply refuse to link to any Black blogs in their bloglists. Although not universal in the whitosphere, some white bloggers' bloglists evince a clear policy of pretending that Black-operated blogs ("Black self-determination blogs") don't exist at all.

Tracy Joan says she "works" on behalf of John Edwards at DailyKos. Look at her bloglist. Because I'm no expert on whitosphere blogs, I cannot say with utter certainty that none of the blogs on her bloglist is Black owned and operated. I likewise cannot assert with utter certainly that none of the blogs on her bloglist is owned and operated by Latinos.

However, I am a member of the AfroSpear, the largest national group of Black bloggers, born in March and now with over sixty Black blog members from across the United States and in five countries and three continents. I can say with utter certainly that none of the blogs on Tracy Joan's bloglist are member of the AfroSpear.

I have also reviewed the bloglists of all sixteen of the blogs on Tracy Joan´s bloglist. Among all of the blogs on the bloglists of those sixteen blogs - literally hundreds of blogs - I can only find one blog that I know with certainty is a owned and operated by a Black person. This tendency toward bloglist apartheid obviously puts John Edwards at a distinct disadvantage as he tries to reach out to Black voters.

The 96% white CIA-sponsored(?) MAMZosphere, that practices blog apartheid and bloglist apartheid, is supporting John Edwards for the presidency. That's a blog-apartheid sponsored endorsement that will be heard loudly and clearly in the Afrosphere and in Black Democratic neighborhoods throughout America.

This tendency to ignore and reject Blacks (even while claiming that poor people are the focus of his campaign) explains why John Edwards has been unable to gain significant support among Black people. Recognizing this, Edwards seems to have a new strategy: emphasizing that he is the only white man among the top three candidates. The following is excerpted from a diary posted at the John Edwards website:

Somehow certain folks think that John Edwards was using a racial slur when referring to Barack Obama as a "kumbaya" candidate.

I read these comments in yesterday's Huffington Post, under an article with the title "Edwards Smacks Obama As "Kumbaya" Candidate" (link is here: Huffington Post ). This is actually an excerpting of a larger article in the New Yorker (link here: New Yorker).

Just for the record, here is the exact quote from the article:

"...Edwards dismisses Obama's argument that more consensus is needed in Washington. The difference between them, Edwards told me, is the difference between "Kumbaya" and "saying, `This is a battle. It's a fight.'..." (Emphasis added.)

Well, it seems that Edwards didn't use the phrase "Kumbaya candidate," but he may well have used Kumbaya as an codeword, an epithet to subtly remind white voters that Obama is Black.

A brief study of the history of the word "kumbaya" shows that the word is inherently linked to the Black struggle for freedom and equality in the United States:

O "spiritual" foi a primeira manifestação musical norte-americana, pois clássicos europeus, baladas inglesas, hinos e cantos irlandeses dominavam a música dos Estados Unidos até os escravos criarem seus cânticos de sofrimento e esperança.

Translated: The spiritual was the first North American music [in the Colonial period], because European classics, English ballads, Irish cantos and hymns dominated United States music until the [Black] slaves created their own songs of suffering and hope. Electronic Brazil

Wikipedia says:

Originally titled "Come By Here", it first appeared in "Revival Choruses of Marvin V. Frey", a lyric sheet printed in Portland in 1939. In 1946, the song returned from Africa with a missionary family, who toured America singing the song with its now world famous Angolan text "Kum Ba Yah". ( . . . ) The song enjoyed newfound popularity during the folk revival of the 1960s, largely due to Joan Baez's 1962 recording of the song, and became associated with the Civil Rights Movement of that decade.Wikipedia: Kumbaya

Needless to say, disparaging Africans, slaves and the Civil Rights Movement might endear John Edwards to Republicans, but it won't help him to win Black or real progressive votes in the Democratic primaries.

Now, John Edwards is not so obtuse that he didn't understand that "kumbaya" (a word that, like macacca, is not of English origin) would be interpreted as a disparagement of somebody else's origins. If he wasn't trying to disparage Black people, then what did he mean? Was he trying to disparage Joan Baez and the anti-war protesters of the 1960's? In this case, he disparaged both at once!

This controversy comes on the heels of a string of efforts by Edwards and his wife to assert that (a) 'only Edwards can "run everwhere" because he is a white man, and (b) Edwards would get more media attention and campaign contributions if only he were a woman or a Black person."


Elizabeth Edwards: "We can't make John black, we can't make him a woman. Those things get you a lot of press, worth a certain amount of fundraising dollars."

Edwards Implies in Iowa that Only a White Man Can Win the Presidency

Saturday, September 8, 2007

OPRAH: Is the 'Queen of Talk' also an Obama Kingmaker?

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The Chicago Tribune

By Christi Parsons and John McCormick, Chicago Tribune staff reporters
September 8, 2007

MONTECITO, Calif. - Barack Obama was running late for work at the U.S. Capitol one day, when a beefy security guard in dark sunglasses stopped the senator's car and peered in sternly to ask for identification.

All of a sudden, though, the Senate ID wasn't necessary for the freshman Illinois lawmaker.

"Hey, you were on 'Oprah'!" the man said, stepping back to direct Obama's car through the checkpoint with a friendly wave.

"It's at that point that I realized the power of Oprah Winfrey," Obama recalled in an interview Friday about his talk-show-host friend. "Her reach extended beyond the stereotypical demographic ... And the appearance on her show amplified my profile around the country."

By that time, Obama was several months past the 2004 Democratic National Convention speech that made him a political star, and his first published memoir was selling well.

But an appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" had widened his path into the world of pop culture, a critical domain as he began to build his celebrity-infused political portfolio. The relationship has grown along with Obama's rise, as the two Chicago celebrities have turned a passing acquaintance from the city's social circles into a powerful friendship with national implications. Chicago Tribune ( . . . )

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Clintonism, Iraq, Polling and Pragmatism

Cross-posted at the Francis L. Holland Blog.

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One of the most substantial objections of the Left against Hillary Clinton's candidacy is her 2002 "yes" vote on the Iraq War Resolution, as well as the well-fanned fear that she might prolong the Iraq War when she is elected president in 2008, and even invade Iran. The IWR complaint is legitimate, but the substantial apprehensions about her intentions for Iraq and Iran are based on fear rather than logic.

Having studied the Clintons closely over the last 15 years, I believe I can help readers to understand Hillary Clinton better, although what I offer, while supportive overall, may make some readers like Clinton even less and infuriate her supporters as well as her detractors. That will be my goal from now until the inauguration of President Hillary Clinton in January, 2009.

I also hope to offer facts and reasoning to undermine the spurious rationalizations of the 43-term white male monopoly of the presidency, and the white male supremacy paradigm in general. Therefore, much of what I write about Hillary's race will be useful to Barack Obama and future minority and women candidates for any office, as much as it helps Hillary Clinton in 2008.

Today, I address the question, "What would President Hillary Clinton do with Iraq and Iran beginning in January 2009?" Some on the Left are arguing that, if elected president, Hillary Clinton will continue the war in Iraq and maybe even invade Iran. However, a careful analysis of the history of Clintonism and of the Iraq War prove that the opposite is most likely to occur.

When Hillary voted "yes" on IWR in 2002, every thinking Democrat, including Senator Hillary Clinton, knew that President George W. Bush was corrupt and that his war would, in all likelihood, be an utter failure, militarily and diplomatically, in the long term.

So, why did John Edwards, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Tom Harkin, Evan Bayh and Hillary Clinton all vote "yes" on the Resolution? PBS noted on September 18, 2002,

A recent poll released by ABC News said 68 percent of the American public support military action against Iraq, an increase of 12 percentage points from August. PBS

On March 17, 2003 USA Today reported,

By a 2-to-1 ratio, Americans favor invading Iraq with U.S. ground troops to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Not since November 2001 have they approved so overwhelmingly. ( . . . ) By a ratio of more than 2-to-1, most Americans say the Bush administration has done a good job handling diplomatic efforts with other nations. USA Today

John Edwards, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Tom Harkin, Evan Bayh and Hillary Clinton voted "yes" on IWR because they knew that:

(a) the war was popular among much of the American public at the time, including a substantial part of the Democratic Party (the part most willing to consider voting for Republicans in subsequent elections), and voting against a significant part of the public's wishes would carry a heavy political price, and

(b) voting against the war, even though correct on the merits, would make them forever vulnerable to being cast by Republicans as yellow-bellied pacifists, which might well end their Senate careers and which would certainly prevent them from ever becoming president of the United States. Because, no politician who is perceived as a yellow-bellied peacenik has ever won the presidency.

In essence, they voted for the war out of political expediency or political reality, depending upon how generous you want to be. They believed that it would be impossible to assemble a governing majority behind a Democratic presidential candidacy in the future otherwise.

If Hillary's vote for the IWR makes her "unqualified," then it must logically also render Senators [John Edwards,] Joseph Biden, Tom Harkin, Evan Bayh, and John Kerry "unqualified," because qualifications are not subjective, they are objective [applying to everyone equally]. Francis L. Holland's DailyKos Diary, November 19, 2006.

As it was, Hillary voted "yes" on IWR, and then still did extremely well in her 2006 re-election bid. Clinton's Resounding Victory Sets the Stage Both in New York and nationally, it was more politically risky to strongly oppose the IWR than to support it.

Another way to understand (without necessarily approving of) Clinton's vote is to remember that the Clinton family's successful strategy for winning the presidency has been to be perceived as centrists. When you consider the number and names of the Democratic US Senators who voted "yes" on the IWR in 2002, you realize that Clinton would have converted herself into a publicly perceived Leftist outlying anomaly if she had opposed IWR, while these 28 other Democratic senators voted for it: Baucus, Bayh, Biden, Breaux, Cantwell, Camahan, Carper, Cleland, Daschle, Dodd, Dorgan, Edwards, Feinstein, Harkin, Hollings, Johnson, Kerry, Kohl, Landrieu, Lieberman, Lincoln, Miller, Nelson, Nelson, Reid, Rockefeller, Schumer and Toricelli. US Senate IWR Roll Call

So, Hillary Clinton's 2002 motives ultimately are quite clear and clearly were not very different from the motives of the other candidates and potential candidates - to preserve her political career and, ultimately, the presidential electability of herself and Democrats in general.

Although readers may have a different theory of how these elected leaders proceeded, it is really fairly obvious why they did what they did. And no one can say with utter certainty that the Democrats would now be ascendant if they had vigorously opposed Bush's war back in 2002. They are ascendant because Bush's war went forward disastrously. So, here I am not talking about what they should haveSHOULD have done, but rather discussing what they actually DID do and why they did it.

It's quite clear now that voting AGAINT the IWR in 2002 was NOT a sure winner with voters, then or now. If voting "no" in 2002 guaranteed victory with voters, then Barack Obama (who opposed the war from the outset) would be ahead of Clinton and Russ Feingold (who voted against the war) would be leading the pack in the presidential race. As it is, Clinton is polling ahead of Obama and Russ Feingold is out of the race entirely, having made a calculation that even his principled "no" vote on IWR was no guarantee of electoral victory in 2008. Americans want a strong president and her ability to be perceived as such is what Clinton defended by voting "yes" on IWR in 2002.

By now, most of the readers are furious with me, but that's alright. My purpose here is to not to please readers, but rather to examine what that history tells us Hillary Clinton would do as president, with Iraq and Iran starting in 2009. The answer is paradoxical, but clear:

If political considerations compelled Clinton's vote "yes" on IWR in 2002, the very same political considerations - the public will and the preservation of her career, would compel her to withdraw troops from Iraq in 2009 and to refrain from starting a half-baked war with Iran.

When Bill Clinton was in office, the Republicans and many Democrats constantly accused him of "government by polls," a leadership strategy that infuriated the Republicans because it repeatedly and successfully rallied public support behind the Democratic President, Bill Clinton. Quoting the Washington Post, The Nation said of Bill Clinton's pollster, Mark Penn,

"In a White House where polling is virtually a religion," the Washington Post reported in 1996, "Penn is the high priest." The Nation

In fact, as far back as 1992, the Clintons were accused by Republicans and Democrats of operating a poll driven candidacy and presidency, and of doing whatever they thought was most popular with the American public - "government by polls." Bill Clinton's pollster, Mark Penn, is now Hillary Clinton's pollster today.

In light of our experience with the Iraq War, would presidential decision-making , "government by polls," really be so bad today? Isn't our foremost argument for ending the war the fact that Americans overwhelmingly oppose it? If we had a president today who was guided by the wisdom of the popular will, as represented by polling data, as Bill Clinton was, then the she would immediately withdraw from Iraq, because the public doesn't support the war.

It is crucial to distinguish between the role of the legislator in making war and the role of the president. When war is to be made, it is made because the president convinces the public of the necessity, not the other way around. In fact, the last US intervention motivated by the popular will was probably WWII.

In 2008, can we afford to risk electing another president who exclusively "does what he thinks is right" in Iraq instead of electing a president who does what the electorate most desires? What if an inexperienced president is unable to forge a peace and decides that more war is necessary, "because he thinks it's right"?

The Washington Post said,

If Clinton seems cautious, it may be because [Mark] Penn [her pollster] has made caution a science, repeatedly testing issues to determine which ones are safe and widely agreed upon (he was part of the team that encouraged Clinton's husband to run on the issue of school uniforms in 1996).

( . . . )

Yet [Mark] Penn also has everything that Clinton would want in a senior consultant: undisputed brilliance and experience, according to even his enemies; clear opinions, with data to back them up; unwavering loyalty; and a relentless focus on the endgame: winning the general election. And Clinton clearly adores him. She describes Penn in her autobiography, "Living History," as brilliant, intense, shrewd and insightful. Clinton's Power Pointer

If it's true that the Clintons were and are very much poll-driven, it must also be true that a polls telling them the Iraq War is extremely unpopular would lead them to wind down the Iraq War.

President Bill Clinton refused to prolong the involvement in Somalia and refused to intervene in Rwanda precisely because he knew (a) that the United States could not prevail in these conflicts without massive loss of US lives and (b) the American public would not forgive Clinton that loss of life because the did not perceive that US interests were sufficiently at stake. Certainly, Clinton could have tried, as Bush repeatedly has, to whip the country into a war-making fury. Unlike Bush, Clinton understood that the public's patience would quickly wear thin in the face of mounting causalities and back-to-back military defeats.

Although Hillary Clinton voted for IWR in 2002, along with too many others, today, the political climate has changed, the rationale for the Iraq War has been utterly discredited, and the vast majority of Americans have become convinced that the war cannot be won and that Bush has the country on the wrong track. The troops should come home. With the 2012 re-election campaign in mind, what would Hillary Clinton do under these circumstances?

As her position has evolved, from initial support for President Bush to fierce criticism of the war's management, Clinton has sought a careful balance, one that maintains her image of strength on national security while not antagonizing the staunchly antiwar elements of her party. WaPost Article

Unlike George W. Bush at present, history would seem to indicate that Hillary Clinton is going to be heavily guided by poll numbers as she decides what to do with Iraq. And what do the polls say? Americans want to get out of Iraq as quickly as is safely possible. In fact, Clinton's position has tracked the American mood and Clinton has adopted precisely that position.

Indeed, Rich Lowry, a conservative critic who literally wrote a book on criticizing the Clintons, calls Bill Clinton a "hyper-cautious" and "poll-driven." If that is so, would a poll-driven President Hillary Clinton, with an electoral mandate to bring the troops home, instead maintain the war in Iraq, losing more and troops daily? Obviously a poll-driven president would do exactly the opposite, knowing that she must stand for re-election in four short years, most of which will be spent campaigning as well as governing.

And what of invading Iran? Would a "hyper-cautious" "poll-driven" president invade Iran? The only Americans who want to invade Iran are the neo-conservatives and even they perceive a need to propagandize the public and lie a lot more before doing so.

In 2009, a poll-driven Clinton president would bring the troops home, because that's what most Americans want, but she would also be careful to avoid a civil war - a war for which she would inevitably be blamed, because polls would show that such a result would be very unpopular.

Like poll-driven Bill Clinton in Somalia and Rwanda, she would weigh the US interest in saving Iraq lives against the US determination to avoid American casualties. So, she would do exactly what she says she would do: emphasize negotiation and peacemaking while redeploying US troops out of harm's way, with UN and multinational involvement in a peaceful resolution to the conflict, like in Bosnia.

And what of Iran? A "hyper-cautious" Clinton president would avoid combat with Iran like the plague, because such combat, obviously, would spiral into an all-out regional conflict whose results would be utterly unpredictable. Hyper-cautious presidents do not engage in unpredictable wars whose goals and objectives are specious and uncertain. Bush was not hyper-cautious. Hillary Clinton clearly is.

So, in 2009, both in terms of Iraq and Iran, a poll-driven, hyper-cautious president is exactly what the American Left needs to wind down the Iraq war and avoid starting another similar war in Iran.

Mark Penn, Clinton's chief pollster, has said,

We might all learn a lesson from Bill Clinton in 1992. He won by making the Persian Gulf War irrelevant to the election. He focused on swing voters, with plans for welfare reform and middle-class tax cuts, and he drove the economy, not the war, as the central defining issue. In 1996, he focused on a plan to balance the budget and cruised to a landslide victory. Mark Penn, Myth of the Vanishing Swing Vote

The Iraq War will not be irrelevant in the 2008 election. But, if Clinton can convince America that she will successfully wind down the Iraq War, then America will become willing to turn its attention to its domestic needs.

At no time during the eight years that Bill Clinton was in office, with Mark Penn as his pollster, did they opt for war as a way to drive their poll numbers or to achieve any other political objective. In spite of, or perhaps because of their craven addiction to polling, Bill Clinton NEVER, EVER - not once - took the US to a significant war or offensive war during his eight years in office.

Once elected, the president sets the agenda in international affairs. With President Bill Clinton setting the national agenda, the polling always confirmed that while America wanted a strong president and wanted to feel safe, it also wanted peace instead of war. Bill Clinton NEVER sought to convince America that an unnecessary was necessary, the proof being that he never took America to war at all.

The Clintons habitually don't win presidential elections by starting new wars or by perpetuating old ones. They win by convincing voters that they can and will work for peace internationally, successfully prosecuting any war ably if a war becomes necessary, but, deftly refocusing the country's attention to its domestic needs, like national health care, because most wars really are optional.

Some readers will demand to know, "What about the issues where doing what's right is un-popular?" Such readers should reflect on Bill Clinton's 1993 determination to let gays serve openly in the military. Clinton took that position because (1) it would fulfill a campaign promise that was popular with his base, and (b) it was the right thing to do whether it was popular or not. It should also be remembered that even poll driven decisions require great leadership; There are often several courses of action that are potentially politically expedient, and the president chooses among them based on his/her values.)