Tuesday, October 30, 2007

GOP Front Runners to Black Voters: We are the Grand Old "White" Party

AAPP says: Well the grand old party is doing it's racist thing again. A month or so ago, I wrote in the Huffington Post about how the GOP Won't Even Talk with Black Folks. Since that time nothing has changed. The Grand Old "White" Party is establishing itself as the New White Citizens Council of the 21st Century. Here is the scary thing, not many black people are surprised.


Hat Tip Huffingtonpost.com and Michael Roston who are reporting on the Republicans avoiding a second black voter forum, which has now been postponed.

Michael Roston says: In recent weeks, Republican presidential candidates have found time in their busy schedules to speak or debate before the Republican Jewish Coalition, "Value Voters," conservative Floridians, even Wyoming Republicans, who hold virtually no sway in the primary race. They've also agreed to appear at the CNN/YouTube debate they at one point shunned.

2007-10-30-debate.jpgBut it appears that some GOP frontrunners are once again letting an opportunity to appear before African-American voters lapse, just as they decided to sit out a black voter forum hosted last month by Tavis Smiley.

The Congressional Black Caucus Institute announced in September that it had scheduled a debate for November 4 on Fox News for Republican presidential candidates. But a spokeswoman for the group confirmed to the Huffington Post that it has now been postponed, with no new date set.

"The debate will not take place on November 4, and we're still considering the debate schedule," said CBC Institute spokesperson Georgella Muirhead.

Republican candidates have cited scheduling conflicts in resisting new proposed dates, Muirhead said.

"It's the same issue they had with some of the other debates," she added. "We're getting a new working date, that's what's being considered."

The CBC Political Education and Leadership Institute is a non-profit organization linked to the Congressional Black Caucus, which includes 43 African-American members of the House and Senate. Read more of Micheal Roston's report HERE

Monday, October 29, 2007

Barak Obama vs Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton

Why is it that a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Barak Obama by more than 20 percent, with a lead of 13 percent among African American voters? While some say the Polls don't reflect Obama's star power. I remember writing some time ago that I felt Obama had peaked much to early. I also mentioned that Howard Dean peaked to early as well.

The Washington Post wrote recently, "Obama's campaign could certainly use reenergizing. Since he announced his intention to run for the presidency, Obama -- and the powerful ebb that surrounded him wherever he woke, spoke, ate and sat -- seems to have withered beneath the supernova that is the Clinton campaign." Now Obama vows to challenge Clinton more forcefully

AAPP: Have black folks begun to give up on Obama? Should black folks listen more to voices like Randall Robinson, (Who by the way left America) is living on some Island, enjoying warm sun, beaches and no longer experiencing all the hatred of American society. Damn, how fortunate is he and his family? I wonder if Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton are is bad as he makes them out to be? Is Mia T on to something? Check out the video again. Listen clearly to the words of Mr. Robinson. I think he may be on to something.

Thoughts anyone?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Liberal Journal Man on Hillary: "Cross her off your list."

The following is a guest-post from the author of the Liberal Journal blog. I invited him to write this post so that I could offer counter-points to his points one by one:

Francis Holland graciously invited me to write this column on the Democratic race, so first, I would like to thank him for this opportunity.

Hillary Clinton’s nomination as the Democratic Presidential candidate in 2008 appears more inevitable with each passing moment. Her numbers are strong across all Democratic constituencies, including African Americans. But I’m writing not only because I think other candidates offer more, but also to encourage folks to completely cross her off the list for the Democratic nomination.

Pragmatism over Principle

There are principles which we should stand firm in. Democrats have become so accustomed to losing elections that we have desperately reached for centrism as a key to power. We are afraid to stand up for what we believe in because those who do, like Dennis Kucinich, are marginalized. But should we be pragmatic? If so, then why not bring Zell Miller back to the Party so we can win a seat in Georgia?

Look at the Democratic Congress now. It has operated out of fear and concession, and their approval stands worse than Bush’s. That doesn’t mean Americans believe in Bush’s worldview, but that Democrats are unwilling to mount a strong challenge. They are too weak to end this war, restore checks and balances, and a whole slew of other issues. Should we conform our views to the government, or should government conform its views to ours? It seems support of Hillary for pragmatic purposes would be in favor of the former.

The most common arguments against what I’ve said appear to be concessions to practicality. For example, ‘Well, Hillary is a machine, only she can beat the right wing.’ Or, ‘You can’t expect the huge reform we all want, so why not go with what we know, the person who will best represent our interests.’

I disagree with these premises. First, she is vulnerable. A poll a few months ago found that 52% of Americans would not vote for her, and 48% would. A poll released last week found the numbers virtually the same, with 50% saying they would never vote for her. Even supposing those numbers are a little fungible, that is an extremely low ceiling. John Kerry received 48% in his loss in 2004.

Hillary is the one candidate who the Republicans unite the most against. Republicans raise more money when they attack her specifically. A prominent Missouri Democrat stated that we can “write off” the state if she is the nominee. A South Carolina Democratic official also expressed concern of her ability to unite the GOP. That’s not to say they will absolutely be proven right, but it’s risky.

The Republican nominee will also likely play up her many suspect fundraising connections, such as:

Fugitive Norman Hsu bundled huge amounts of money for her. Hillary’s campaign only got rid of the donations after learning of his status, although it is a legitimate question whether she turned a blind eye. Initially, her campaign promised to return only the money from Hsu directly, then decided to return the whole $860,000 he bundled for her.

Other bundlers have somehow managed to procure donations in the thousands from working-class citizens in Chinatown. It is a legitimate question whether all of these folks are really giving the money out of their own pockets, or if it is being funneled through them by wealthier individuals. How well does this play in the swing states?

So I seriously question whether Clinton would be as strong in the general election as we’re told.

Second, should we negotiate our principles, as was done in the 1990s? Which brings me to…

The (Bill) Clinton Record

Hillary likes to run on her husband’s record when it’s convenient (she has said things were pretty good under husband), and distance herself from it when it’s not. Because of her record of centrism and triangulation since joining the Senate, her adherence to most of Bill’s ideas and because of her invocation of Bill’s record, I will look at Bill Clinton’s record as a whole. I think it’s only fair.

Bill Clinton’s presidency was more about style than substance. Bill Clinton came into office on a liberal platform but quickly deviated from it. The Clintons’ universal health care plan was ambitious, but failed because of pressure from the insurance industry and the Right. Honestly, I can’t fault them for trying on the healthcare issue. But instead of pushing it, Clinton began to move to the Right to appease his critics and hold onto the Presidency.

He completely turned his back on the unions which helped put him in office in 2002 when he pushed supported NAFTA, a conservative, free market policy goal. It was crafted by George Bush Sr. Later, Clinton supported Most Favored Nation (“MFN”) trading status with China. (Can you say lead toys and child labor?)

He also signed bills which cut back welfare, expanded the federal death penalty, passed a bill very favorable to the Telecom industry, cut capital gains taxes, and stayed clear of any attacks which be called pro-gay, as he implemented the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in the military and passed the Defense of Marriage Act. (A further note on the death penalty: Bill went to Arkansas to personally witness the execution of African American Ricky Ray Rector, whose mental competency was highly in question.)

Bill Clinton’s accomplishments, meanwhile, can be counted on one hand. Legislatively, he passed the Family Medical Leave Act, worked with Republicans to balance the Budget, and increased the minimum wage. He also nominated two liberal-leaning members to the Supreme Court in Ruth Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer.

In the foreign policy realm, while the intervention in Kosovo has been seen as a success, he failed to intervene in Rwanda. It is said that the reaction of American soldiers being dragged through the streets in Somalia in 1993 made us averse to military interventions in Africa, and this is why Clinton did what he had to do—which was nothing. In my view, this is unforgivable. As Randall Robinson has pointed out, Clinton sold out black Caribbean nations.

We are told Clinton grew the economy. Unemployment and interest rates went down. But they have remained down with Bush. The economic situation of many working class Americans is such that they are working long hours for lower wages with fewer benefits. We have experienced a steady widening of the gap in income disparity. These trends started in the 1980s with Reagan, continued under Clinton, and also under Bush.

Clinton believes in the same pro-corporate and neoliberal trade views as the Republicans. Hillary has paid lip service to free trade, but has not fully repudiated our damaging free trade agreements which are currently in place. (Neither has Al Gore, and I haven’t left him off the hook on that either.)

So the Clinton presidency may have been the best of the last 30 years, but that isn’t saying much.

The (Hillary) Clinton Record

Hillary Clinton followed her husband’s appeasement in the Senate. She voted for the Iraq war in 2002, and for years stubbornly refused to call it a mistake. She also refused to set “a date certain” for withdrawal. Earlier this year she stated on troop withdrawals, "we cannot lose sight of our very real strategic national interests in this region."

She voted for the Patriot Act, and then a slightly less intrusive version of it in 2006. She has had a mixed record on trade, and supports, as her husband did, MFN status for China. She voted for No Child Left Behind. Then, she stated that it wasn’t working because Bush wasn’t funding it. Then, no, it was because the bill focuses on testing rather than learning. She has a mixed record on the death penalty, having stated support for it, but also DNA testing.

One of Bush’s post-9/11 stances has been the role of a powerful executive (or the “unitary executive”). We have seen how dangerous this can be. Yet Hillary seems to be looking forward to the widening executive power, having stated she is “a strong believer in executive authority.”

The prospects for our foreign policy under a Hillary regime are scary. Along with her 2002 vote for the Iraq war, Hillary recently voted for the Iran bill which declared its Revolutionary Guard a “terrorist organization.” Her explanation was that it would encourage diplomacy. If this sounds absurd, it is. Iran quickly moved to declare our own armed forces terrorist organizations. Hillary has called herself "an emphatic, unwavering supporter of Israel’s safety and security.”

To her credit, some of her notable achievements were voting against the nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, as well as the Bush tax cuts, and the Military Commissions Act.

The Right’s Second Choice

Some elements of the Right even see Hillary’s centrism/pragmatism to be an acceptable alternative:

Conservative blogger Patrick Ruffini called Hillary, “a George W. Bush Democrat.” Neoconservative columnist Charles Krauthammer said he could live with a Hillary presidency because, “Her liberalism, like her husband's -- flexible, disciplined, calculated, triangulated -- always leaves open the possibility that she would do the right thing for the blessedly wrong (i.e., self-interested, ambition-serving, politically expedient) reason.” Another Neocon and Fox News-er, Bill Kristol, said of Hillary, “Hillary Clinton is becoming the responsible Democrat who could become commander in chief in a post-9/11 world.”

Looking at fundraising, Hillary has raised as much from defense contractors as 60% of the entire Republican field. After the mess of Halliburton and Blackwater, why is she even accepting any of this dirty money, which has come from Bush’s crony contracts for this illegal war and the aftermath of Katrina?

Is this the person we want as our nominee? Would we feel the same way if her name was Joe Lieberman?

Is it also not hypocrisy for Democrats to rail against Fox News, when its owner, Rupert Murdoch, has admitted to using the network to manipulate support for the Iraq war, has held fundraisers for her? And what of her relationship to Alan Quasha, who bailed out Bush Jr. back in the 1980s? Now, Quasha’s business associate is one of Hillary’s top fundraisers.

A Critical Eye

Upon closer inspection, Hillary’s record, like her husband’s, is not one to brag about. The Bush and Clinton clans have become quite close, which has led Barbara Bush to call Bill Clinton like a “son.” This is the same Barbara Bush who said that Hurricane Katrina refugees were doing “very well” because they were underprivileged anyway.

Maybe the Bush-Clinton families have become closer and closer because they share the same broad economic viewpoints of neoliberal trade and the exploitation that comes along with it. Or maybe because they can always serve as perfect foils and pass the presidency back and forth.

These are serious questions for our nation and our democracy, which faces the prospect of continuous dual-family rule. Our democracy, which has been deteriorated through voter suppression, which has seen the executive branch expand itself so forcefully in the name of fighting terrorism, and whose foreign policy now resembles British imperialism.

Some may point to how much more America was ‘beloved’ in the eyes of the world during the Bill’s presidency. Why are we to believe any other Democrat wouldn’t do the same, or better?
Hillary has been a fairly strong liberal on social issues, but again, are we to believe that any other Democrat wouldn’t do the same, or better?

Black voters should also think about her husband’s actions, in the Caribbean, in Africa, in the Rector case. When white America really didn’t want to help black people, Bill folded. Do we want to return to that?

Shouldn’t we look at Hillary through the most critical eye? For instance, can we trust Rupert Murdoch’s judgment? Or Charles Krauthammer’s? Or the arms industry’s? Or the Israel Lobby’s? Should we even risk it?

It is my fervent belief that if we consider these and the other aforementioned questions, and in light of our other alternatives, such as Barack Obama, one cannot support her.

(In the interests of full disclosure, I have endorsed Dennis Kucinich, but Barack Obama would be my far and away favorite of the “electables”.)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Edwards Ties His Slip in Iowa Polls to "Nuanced Differences."

In an article entitled "Clinton Takes Lead for Democrats," the Des Moines Register reports that Hillary Clinton is six points ahead of John Edwards in the latest poll of Iowa caucus-goers:

Hillary Clinton has climbed into first place in a new Des Moines Register poll of Iowans expected to participate in the state's Democratic presidential caucuses, with John Edwards and Barack Obama both in striking distance.

The Iowa Poll shows 29 percent of likely caucusgoers preferring Clinton, a New York senator, an improvement from the Register's most recent poll in May.

Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, was the choice of 23 percent in the new poll, slipping from the top spot since the May survey to nearly even with Obama.

Obama, an Illinois senator, was at 22 percent , virtually unchanged from May.  Des Moines Register

Edwards has responded with a surprising spate of semantic nonsense, saying,

"The nuanced differences between where she is, where I am and Sen. Obama are is very small."

Do we really need a phrase like "nuanced differences" to describe the six point difference between Clinton and Edwards in this poll, or has Edwards resorted to semantic bird droppings in an effort to fudge his reduced standing with voters? Edwards is flummoxed.  Aside from the fact that the noun ("nuanced differences") and the verb ("is") in this sentence don't agree, we usually use the phrase "nuanced differences" to describe complexities far more subtle than the difference between the numbers "29%" and "23%."  For example,

The author cites his book "The Book of Wellness: A Secular Approach to Spirituality, Meaning and Purpose," and says that who ever has read even few essays of his book, would agree that meaning and purpose are complementary but with nuanced differences. According to the author, in a wellness context, meaning is an outcome or consequence; purpose is a goal or organizing concept. Reading Level (Lexile): 850;  Britannica.Com

The difference between 29% and 23% is quite a large "nuance," but then John Edwards is a very successful trial lawyer, so perhaps we should expect him to begin to wax semantic when the facts don't support his theories.

Edwards also said, "If somebody's up two points or down one point, that could be literally nothing except noise."  Actually, in this poll Clinton appears to be up by three times more than the "two points" that Edwards acknowledges here.  Quad City Times

Considering that Edwards admits that his only chance at the presidency is to win in Iowa, it's clear that he is simply flummoxed by his drop in the polls there.  The Des Moines Register reports,

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said Sunday his slip from the top spot in the Des Moines Register's latest poll can be attributed to his competitors' emphasis on T.V. advertising.

"It's a little difficult to figure out where to go with me because I haven't spent any money on ads," said Edwards, a former North Carolina senator.  DMRegister.Com

If the relative lack of television ads can really drive the poll numbers, then Edwards can expect to be trounced in Iowa and elsewhere, since Edwards has about one third the money for ads that Clinton and Obama have.

Iowans are known as plain-talking people.  They might be turned off by Edwards' "nuanced differences" as well as his excuses.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Larry Craig Decision Sets Reasonable Boundaries for Gays, Others in Public Bathrooms

Cross-posted at the Francis L. Holland Blog

and the Political Fleshfeast.

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Trial Court Decision in the Larry Craig Case

Even though Senator Larry Craig is a homophobic anti-gay Republican, I feel some compassion for him because he is appears to be a gay man making his way in a virulently homophobic society.  The fact that he is an agent of the homophobia shouldn't cause us to entirely discount the fact that he is a victim of it as well.

In addition to determining whether he can try to hold onto his Senate seat (which I hope he won't), the decision of the Trial Court helps us to understand the boundaries of sexual behavior for gays and heterosexuals in public bathrooms and elsewhere, and so I'm taking a look at that here.

I think I agree with the decision of the Trial Court about the appropriate boundaries of behavior in a public bathroom.  Craig was arrested because he physically invaded a bathroom stall, a place where a stranger has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Most of us men would be shocked and angered if another man put his eye up to the crack in our bathroom stall to make eye contact with us or ogle us while our pants were down.  That is the behavior to which Larry Craig plead guilty, and so it is not unreasonable that he should be punished for it.  This behavior would be just as offensive between as man and a woman as between a man and another man.

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To understand why Larry Craig's behavior is problematic, you have to imagine how you would feel if someone peered into into your stall through a crack while you were undressed in a public bathroom.  It is conceivable that the public policy purpose in forbidding this behavior is not to penalize gay sex specifically or homosexuality in general, but rather is meant simply to compel all of us to observe the privacy rights of others while using public bathrooms.

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In it's decision here, the Trial Court was careful not to criminalize all gay sexual behavior that might take place in a public bathroom, ruling only against physical behavior that  invades the privacy of another.  So, if the "other" invited the behavior and the sharing of physical space was was consensual, then this decision leaves room for such an instance not to necessarily be criminal.  If the Senator had waited for the police officer to exit the stall and then verbally invited him to go to a hotel room for free sex, then perhaps he would not have been charged, since his behavior would not have invaded the private stall of another.

And if the Senator had pled innocent, he could have argued that he believed he had the consent of the police officer, because the officer acted as if he wanted Craig to share his bathroom stall.

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But one aspect of this case that makes it hard to have any sympathy for Craig, even as a gay man in the closet, is that he waived the right to an attorney.  The normal Republican approach to this incident would have been to lawyer up, deny everything, and insist that he was innocent until proven guilty.  But Senator Craig was so afraid of facing this situation that he apparently did not talk to a lawyer at all before pleading guilty, even though two months elapsed between his arrest and his guilty plea.  He appears to have been in utter denial, and hoping that the world would stay in denial as well.

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Had he consulted a lawyer, a lawyer surely would have advised him (a) not to plead guilty, because he might be able to mount a successful defense and pleading to these facts would ruin his career, and (b) the contents of the criminal file were sure to receive public attention regardless of what he did.

Larry Craig is surely wealthy enough that he could have obtained counsel.  Again, we almost have to feel sorry for him, or be furious with him, for his desperate attempts to keep his misdeeds secret, like the pedophilic Catholic priests using one machination after another while trying to save their careers and their reputations, and deny that they are pedophiles.

Larry Craig was running scared, and that's why he didn't get the a lawyer.  He was scared that people would discover that he is gay, it appears.  And he was scared the world would discover that he is a phenomenal hypocrite for voting against gay rights while secretly living a gay lifestyle.  He's a tragic figure living a tragedy partly of his own creation and partly of this society's creation. 

Discovering the Masterful Clinton Cackle

Cross-posted at Political Fleshfeast
and the Democratic Afrosphere.

There's been a lot of discussion in the media over the last week concerning the way Hillary Clinton laughs, but with few sources considering the context and obvious intentional purpose of her laugh. The New York Times gets it most right:

At that moment, the laugh seemed like the equivalent of an eye-roll - she felt she was being nitpicked, so she shamed her inquisitors by chuckling at them (or their queries). New York Times

Watch the video (below). Clinton was being interviewed by on Face the Nation when Bob (whatisname) asked her, "Last week was a big one for you, Senator. You rolled out your new health care plan, something the Republicans immediately said was going to lead to socialized medicine . . . "

If the public decides that Clinton's plan is "socialized medicine," it will not be approved, even though Clinton is elected president. So, Clinton understands that this question goes to the heart of her potential success as president.

Had Clinton responded with a wonkish explanation of the difference between socialism and capitalism, the word "socialism" would have stayed in the public's mind more than anything else she could have said.

But look how masterful her response was. What is remembered from this exchange is not the question itself, or her response to the question, but the fact that she laughed heartily. The message is clear: 'The question itself is too silly for words.' If this approach discourages others from asking this question, Hillary Clinton may be one step closer to being elected president and implementing a program of national healthcare.

In fact, the pure capitalist approach to health care would be "everybody for himself." Likewise, the pure capitalist approach to the US corporate take-over of Iraq's oil wells would require Halliburton and Exxon to gather up their own armies to invade Iraq - at their own expense - instead of depending on a "government takeover of invasions." And yet, the Government spearheads invasions that only help corporate interests while leaving citizens high and dry when it comes to organizing a health care system that would allow each of us to see a doctor and get medicine when we need to do so.

Now, should Hillary have responded as I have, leaving her audience with their eyes glazed over, bewildered by a response that most would not understand and the rest would disagree with? Clearly not! The best response was to simply laugh at that question about socialized medicine, and I believe she will laugh at that question quite a few more times before she is inaugurated in January 2009. The best way to diffuse Republican nonsense, Hillary is saying, is to start by laughing at it like one laughs at any silliness that is ridiculous.

Meanwhile, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post says that Hillary Clinton is taking advantage of the tremendous affection for Bill Clinton and nostalgia for a more prosperous, more peaceful administration:

Hillary Clinton is nearly ready for her Restoration. The front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination has been talking much lately about those happy days when Clintons were in the White House and all was right with the world.

"Some of you might remember," she told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute yesterday. "We began with an agenda to address how to keep young Hispanics in school. . . . Well, that agenda unfortunately was put into cold storage. We're taking it out and we're warming it up and we're going to go back to business together."

Two hours later, Clinton strolled anew down memory lane as she accepted the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers. "We're going to be able to encourage Americans once again to believe that we can solve our problems," she told the union, informing its members of a need "to act like Americans again." Washington Post

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Majority of Democratic and Democratic-Leaning Independent Voters Now Supporting Clinton

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

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The Washington Post reports today that for the first time Hillary Clinton is polling with over half of the Democratic and Independent voter electorate supporting her, and opening up a wide lead against Obama and Edwards, with all other candidates in single digits:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has consolidated her place as the front-runner in the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination, outpacing her main rivals in fundraising in the most recent quarter and widening her lead in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

For the first time, Clinton (N.Y.) is drawing support from a majority of Democrats -- and has opened up a lead of 33 percentage points over Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.). Her popularity, the poll suggests, is being driven by her strength on key issues and a growing perception among voters that she would best represent change.

( . . . )

Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, 53 percent support Clinton, compared with 20 percent for Obama and 13 percent for former senator John Edwards (N.C.).

Despite rivals' efforts to portray her as too polarizing to win the general election, a clear majority of those surveyed, 57 percent, said Clinton is the Democratic candidate with the best chance on Nov. 4, 2008. The percentage saying Clinton has the best shot at winning is up 14 points since June. By contrast, 20 percent think Edwards is most electable and 16 percent think Obama is, numbers that represent a huge blow to the "electability" argument rivals have sought to use against her.
Washington Post

The question now is, "What can Obama and Edwards do that will best assure a Democratic victory in 2008?" Although they may be tempted to try to drive up Hillary's negatives in advance of the Iowa caucuses, they should instead focus on the positive and try to position themselves for the vice presidency or other important positions in a new Democratic administration. For either of them, being perceived as a spoiler now could end their political viability for the future.