Saturday, March 22, 2008
Then again, the Associated Press did just publish a rather large and embarrassing article about how Hillary was often in the White House while Bill Clinton was asking Monica for oral sex, so it's understandable why the Clinton campaign is now trying to change the subject. I suspect that come the fall, were Hillary our nominee, the Republicans will be talking about Monica and Bill's sex life 24/7. And trying to call John McCain unpatriotic in order to stop the Monica sex talk just isn't going to cut it. The Clintons need to explain to the superdelegates and the country how they're going deal with the Monica problem come the fall. It's not a nice topic, but it's one that's going to come up, early and often, and as Hillary always reminds us, it's better to vet the scandals now so we can see how well our candidates will truly do against the Republicans. So, let's vet.
The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America hailed Webb’s bill, calling educational benefits “the military’s single most effective recruitment tool” and emphasizing that “an expanded GI Bill will play a crucial role in ensuring that our military remains the strongest and most advanced in the world.”
Today, The Hill reports that Webb is still waiting for an important co-sponsor who could help push other Republicans to approve the bill: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):
McCain prides himself on being “a tireless advocate of our military.” Yet this is hardly the first time that Webb has taken McCain to task when it comes to veterans’ advocacy. In September, McCain refused to support Webb’s bill to ensure service members get adequate time at home between deployments. McCain castigated the effort, declaring he “hoped” Congress would reject the bill because it “would create chaos.”
“McCain needs to get on the bill,” Webb told reporters after a Christian Science Monitor breakfast meeting on Wednesday. He said legislation mirroring the post-World War II GI bill should not be considered a “political issue.” […]
Webb’s bill has 51 co-sponsors, including nine Republicans. Webb, a former secretary of the Navy, said he may have to get 60 co-sponsors to ensure Senate passage, but then added that many more Republicans could vote for the bill if McCain endorsed it.
McCain boasts on his website that he “fought to extend the availability of G.I. bill education benefits for Vietnam veterans.” Yet he has been notably silent on extending those same benefits to today’s veterans. Perhaps, like the Pentagon, he is resisting the bill “out of fear that too many will use it.”
McCain has repeatedly voted to funnel billions of dollars to fund the war in Iraq, whose costs along with the war in Afghanistan, according to some experts, have already totaled more than $3 trillion. By contrast, the cost of the new G.I. bill is projected to be about $2.5 billion a year — roughly the cost of U.S. operations in Iraq for one week.
However, the the U.S. intelligence community disagrees. A National Intelligence Estimate on Iran released last December stated unequivocally that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. But also, Iran has never “declared” its intention to acquire nuclear weapons and in fact, it has publicly stated the opposite:
- "Iran has repeatedly denied seeking nuclear warheads, and its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a religious edict in 2005 forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of such weapons."
- Iran expert and former Bush administration official Suzanne Maloney: “The Iranian government is on the record across the board as saying it does not want a nuclear weapon.”
- Non-proliferation expert Joe Cirincione: “Iran has never said it wanted a nuclear weapon for any reason. It’s just not true.“
The experts added that Bush’s claim is “troubling,” “as uninformed as [Sen. John] McCain’s [R-AZ] statement that Iran is training al-Qaeda” and “only produces” such rhetoric from Iran.
White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe stretched to explain Bush’s gaffe, saying “the president shorthanded” Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s desire “to wipe Israel off the map.” Asked about Iranian leaders’ potential to exploit Bush’s false claim for political purposes, Johndroe said “I’m not concerned about that. If they want to spin it a certain way, they can do it any way they want.”
Indeed, Bush’s “shorthand” with the facts in the run up to the Iraq war is exactly what led to the “most dangerous” foreign-policy blunder since Vietnam.
Update: Dan Froomkin notes that Bush "said almost exactly the same thing" last August. Bush: Iran "has proclaimed its desire to build a nuclear weapon."
In case you missed it, Rush Limbaugh, the nation's top-rated talk radio host, was urging Republicans in Texas and Ohio to skip their party's primary on March 4 and instead cast a vote for Hillary Clinton in order to prolong the fight between her and Barack Obama. And that Tuesday, as media in both states reported, thousands of Republicans did just what Limbaugh and others had suggested -- they changed parties to vote for Clinton.
"I want Hillary to stay in this, Laura," Limbaugh told Laura Ingraham on Feb. 29, near the start of his Hillary crusade. "This is too good a soap opera. We need Barack Obama bloodied up politically, and it's obvious that the Republicans are not going to do it and don't have the stomach for it, as you probably know."
And on Wednesday, the day after the Ohio primary, Fox News asked Clinton if she owed Limbaugh a thank you. "Be careful what you wish for, Rush," she replied. Later that day, Limbaugh played the Fox tape on his show and said, "How do you interpret this, folks? She could have said thank you. She could have said thank you! In fact, I was expecting in her victory speech last night to be thanked.
"I helped give Mrs. Clinton the biggest and happiest moment and night of the campaign season so far, maybe her life, and she tells me, "Be careful what you wish for, Rush"? Why, that sounds like a threat, does it not? I've got a Democrat presidential candidate threatening your host. Why, I am stunned! After all I did ..."
While this all makes for great talk radio and sounds like fun, there is one catch: What Limbaugh encouraged Republican voters to do in Ohio was a fifth-degree felony in that state, punishable with a $2,500 fine and six to 12 months in jail. That is because in order to change party affiliation in Ohio, voters have to fill out a form swearing allegiance to that party's principles "under penalty of election falsification."
On Thursday, March 20, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the "Cuyahoga County Board of Election has launched an investigation that could lead to criminal charges against voters who maliciously switched parties for the March 4 presidential primary." According to the report, "One voter scribbled the following addendum to his pledge as a new Democrat: "For one day only."
"Such an admission amounts to voter fraud," the report continued, attributing that conclusion to BOE member Sandy McNair, a Democrat. The report said the four-member board -- two Democrats and two Republicans -- had yet to vote on whether it would issue subpoenas, although Ohio's secretary of state, Democrat Jennifer Brunner, is empowered to cast tie-breaking votes when the BOE is deadlocked. (More)
1. She can’t win the nomination without overturning the will of the elected delegates, which will alienate many Democrats.
2. She can’t win the nomination without a bloody convention battle — after which, even if she won, history and many Democrats would cast her as a villain.
3. Catching up in the popular vote is not out of the question — but without re-votes in Florida and Michigan it will be almost as impossible as catching up in elected delegates.
4. Nancy Pelosi and other leading members of Congress don’t think she can win and want her to give up. Same with superdelegate-to-the-stars Donna Brazile.
5. Obama’s skilled, close-knit staff can do things like silently kill re-votes in Florida and Michigan and not pay a political price.
6. Many of her supporters — and even some of her staffers — would be relieved (and even delighted) if she quit the race; none of his supporters or staff feel that way. Some think she just might throw in the towel in June if it appears efforts to fight on would hurt Obama’s general election chances.
7. The Rev. Wright story notwithstanding, the media still wants Obama to be the nominee — and that has an impact every day.
8. Obama might not be able to talk that well about the new global economy, but she (and McCain) can’t either.
9. Many of the remaining prominent superdelegates want to be for Obama and she (and Harold Ickes) are just barely keeping them from making public commitments to him.
10. She can’t publicly say more than 2% of all the things she would like to say about race, electability, beating McCain and experience.
11. If she somehow found a way to win the nomination, she would have to offer Obama the veep slot, and she doesn’t want to do that.
12. This is a change election, and Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton can never truly be change.
13. Obama is having fun most days, and she isn’t.
14. Even though her campaign staff is having more fun than it has for a long time, there’s hardly anyone there who, given half a chance, wouldn’t slit Mark Penn’s throat — and such internal dissension won’t help her in the home stretch.
Despite spending some $12 billion dollars a month in Iraq, the Bush administration has failed to pay most of the Awakening members and their patience is all but gone. Thousands of men have given up and walked away from the program and resentment toward the U.S. has reached a boiling point. This video from The Guardian is a real eye opener as they go inside these groups and let them tell their stories in their own words.
They hear news accounts that the U.S. military is taking credit for the surge and they are angered. They feel that they are doing the dirty work that Americans should be doing and they feel they’re being used as propaganda to sway the U.S. presidential elections. Senator John McCain has staked his entire presidential campaign on Iraq and the success of the surge. I hope that he, along with all Americans, has the chance to watch this video and see the real surge.
In an order released by the D.C. Court of Appeals, a three-judge panel stripped Libby of his ability to practice law after he was found guilty last year of obstructing the investigation in the CIA leak investigation.
“When a member of the Bar is convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude, disbarment is mandatory,” reads the ruling, citing D.C. Code. Read on…
Luckily for old Scooter, he won’t need a license to practice law to make the six or seven figure salary he’s sure to procure in the near future. Wingnut welfare will see to it that he can maintain the lifestyle he enjoyed before he committed treason against his country and then lied to the feds.
LSB: Emphasis added is mine.
Heather has also posted the online only Real Time Overtime if you’re looking for more with Bill Maher and guests Barney Frank, PJ O’Roarke, Jon Hamm and Maelissa Harris-Lacewell.
New Rule: Old soldiers never die, they get young soldiers killed. This week John McCain said for the third time in two days, that Iran, a Shi’ite stronghold was training al Qaeda a militant Sunni organization. That the Hatfields of the Muslim world would be working with the McCoys is so not true even Dick Cheney hasn’t said it. Now the press, which loves McCain because he feeds them BBQ, dismissed this as just one of those senior moments. Not to worry, he’s only
going to have his finger on the nuclear trigger.
But it’s not just a ‘gaffe,’ it’s what McCain really thinks. And therein lies the paradox of this campaign: McCain’s strength is really his weakness. He’s a warrior who’s dumb about war. Whoever read The Art of War, chapter three of The Art of War says, “Know thy enemy.” And John McCain plainly doesn’t. He thinks the solution is our presence in the Middle East. No, the problem is our presence in the Middle East.
That’s why I don’t care if John McCain is better than Bush on global warming or torture or campaign finance, because he’s exactly the same as Bush on the war. They both don’t get the same thing. As long as we’re setting up shop in the heart of the Arab world, we’re not keeping America safer. Bin Laden goes ballistic over cartoons in Danish newspapers, and Goober and Grandpa want to put up a Hooters in Fallujah. They don’t “hate us for our freedom,” they hate us for our fiefdom.
Winning the War on Terror comes down to this: what will make us safer from pissed off Arab teenagers who are willing to die? There are a number of good answers to that question, but occupying their land for the next 100 years is not one of them.
Some people look at McCain and see a tough guy who is going to protect us from the “Islamofascists.” I look at him and see a walking Tom Clancy action figure who is going to get us all killed. And yet a new poll shows that a majority of Americans believe John McCain is the candidate best qualified to answer when that red phone rings at 3:00 a.m., because he’d be up anyway, trying to pee. Yes, 55% of Americans think it’s McCain who should answer that phone, because they know John McCain is a warrior. He will not waver or hesitate. He will answer that phone and give the order that sends men to die and it will turn out to be a recording asking him if he’s happy with his mortgage.
The Clintons are now saying that literally tens of thousands of people got their photos snapped with Bill Clinton. True, but we're all aware that the Clinton White House was hardly cavalier about invitations. An invitation to their White House was a favor doled out to special people (Lincoln Bedroom, anyone?). And in any case, of those tens of thousands of photos, how many of those people actually got invited to a formal meal with the president at the White House? I've been in DC for 20 years and never got invited to dine at the White House. You have to be fully vetted, and placed on the special suck-up list, for something like that. The Clinton campaign is now calling it "pathetic" that this photo has come to light. I'd say. After the Clinton campaign peddled the Rev. Wright story for weeks, now we find out that Bill Clinton himself invited Wright to dine at the White House. Yeah, saying anything to win is definitely pretty pathetic.
And in any case, would the Clintons now have us believe that each and every one of those tens of thousands of photos included a personal "repentance" from Bill Clinton over the Monica scandal?
Hillary was there, so who's the guy sitting next to her? If it is Wright, it's kind of hard to imagine that they'd sit an "America hater" next to the woman who singlehandedly brought peace to Northern Ireland. You don't put random people next to the First Lady. And you REALLY don't put just anybody next to the First Lady during a speech in which you know that Bill Clinton is going to talk about Monica. This had to be a horrible scene for Hillary - you had better believe that the man sitting next to Hillary was vetted to the moon and back. He was chosen as the best man in the room. So who was he? Sure looks like Rev. Wright. More from the NYT. (Full disclosure, I lightened the photo with Hillary so as to make Wright's facial features more visible, for comparison sake.)
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.
The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.
Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution - a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.
And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part - through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.
This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign - to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together - unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction - towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.
This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.
I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners - an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.
It's a story that hasn't made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts - that out of many, we are truly one.
Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.
This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either "too black" or "not black enough." We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.
And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.
On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.
I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely - just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.
As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems - two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.
Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way
But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth - by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:
"People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend's voice up into the rafters... And in that single note - hope! - I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion's den, Ezekiel's field of dry bones. Those stories - of survival, and freedom, and hope - became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn't need to feel shame about... memories that all people might study and cherish - and with which we could start to rebuild."
And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions - the good and the bad - of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.
Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.
But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America - to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.
The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through - a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.
Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.
Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students.
Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments - meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today's urban and rural communities.
A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families - a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods - parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement - all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.
This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.
But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it - those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations - those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician's own failings.
And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.
In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience - as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.
Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.
Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze - a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns - this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.
This is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy - particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.
But I have asserted a firm conviction - a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people - that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.
For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances - for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives - by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.
Ironically, this quintessentially American - and yes, conservative - notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright's sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.
The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country - a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen - is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds - by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.
In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.
For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle - as we did in the OJ trial - or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.
We can do that.
But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.
That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.
This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.
This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.
This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.
I would not be running for President if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation - the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.
There is one story in particularly that I'd like to leave you with today - a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King's birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.
There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.
And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.
She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.
She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.
Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother's problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn't. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.
Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."
"I'm here because of Ashley." By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.
But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.
LSB: Will this soothe the critics? Maybe. Maybe not. It does prove, at least to me, that this is an inspiring man... and I like feeling inspired. I'm tired of voting "against" a candidate; I want to vote "for" a candidate. Perfect? No such thing, but I'm willing to take the journey with Sen. Obama.
This is the legacy of President Bush. This is the legacy of the enabling and entirely complicit Republican-controlled Congress. This is the legacy John McCain is promising to continue.
Mr. Bush said he was optimistic because the economy’s “foundation is solid” as measured by employment, wages, productivity, exports and the federal deficit. He was wrong on every count. On some, he has been wrong for quite a while.
Mr. Bush boasted about 52 consecutive months of job growth during his presidency. What matters is the magnitude of growth, not ticks on a calendar. The economic expansion under Mr. Bush — which it is safe to assume is now over — produced job growth of 4.2 percent. That is the worst performance over a business cycle since the government started keeping track in 1945.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Q: But was that experience, do you think, that is -- having a lot of influence with advisers, giving private advice to her husband -- was that experience that has helped prepare her to be commander in chief?
Craig: Oh, I don't doubt that. The point that I am making is that her claims of the nature of that experience are overstated. The fact is she did not sit in on national security meetings. She did not have a security clearance. She did not attend meetings in the situation room. She conducted no negotiations. She did not manage any part of the national security bureaucracy. She did not have her own national security staff. That's the fact. Now the experience that she did have -- watching and sometimes sitting in the room where discussions were going on and also meeting heads of state and foreign ministers -- that is good experience, and it's invaluable to understanding how the world works when it comes to international organizations as well as international negotiations.
The Clinton camp responded quickly, noting a contradiction between this statement and other statements. Only last week Craig claimed:
When your entire campaign is based upon a claim of experience, it is important that you have evidence to support that claim. Hillary Clinton's argument that she has passed "the Commander- in-Chief test" is simply not supported by her record.
The comments by Craig come at a time when the Clinton camp is facing increasing scrutiny over the former First Lady's record.
The Boston Globe reported this morning that Sen. Clinton had less to do with the passage of the SCHIP program in the early 90s, and cites Republican Orrin Hatch who, with Sen. Ted Kennedy, helped spear the legislation:
"The White House wasn't for it. We really roughed them up" in trying to get it approved over the Clinton administration's objections, Hatch said in an interview. "She may have done some advocacy [privately] over at the White House, but I'm not aware of it."
"I do like her," Hatch said of Hillary Clinton. "We all care about children. But does she deserve credit for SCHIP? No - Teddy does, but she doesn't."
Sometime soon, the U.S. military will suffer the 4,000th death of the war in Iraq.
When the 1,000th American died in September 2004, the insurgency was just gaining steam. The 2,000th death came as Iraq held its first elections in decades, in October 2005. The U.S. announced its 3,000th loss on the last day of 2006, at the end of a year rocked by sectarian violence.
The 4,000th death will come with the war further out of the public eye, and replaced by other topics on the front burner of the U.S. presidential campaigns. (More)
Lots and lots of whining from Team Clinton over the challenge for her to be transparent. Why is that? And, who knew they were so fragile. How would Team Clinton ever handle the GOP if they can't take this scrutiny from Obama?
While the Clinton campaign is busy holding conference calls to spin the media and complain that Obama is being mean, the Obama camp is busy racking up delegates. He picked up 14 more delegates yesterday. That's how you win the nomination. And, that's why Hillary Clinton is losing.
A bailout is not going to be cheap so where is the money going to come from? As a country, how can we afford Iraq, Wall Street bailouts plus the normal services that Americans want, need and deserve? It's obvious taxes now have to go up thanks to Republican mismanagement of the economy but that's only just the start.
World markets respond to Bernanke's latest knee jerk rate cut - and it ain't pretty. The dollar crashes to yet another new low, oil jumps yet again and all of the major markets in Asia and Europe are selling and deep into red. We are all supposed to be impressed because Bear Stearns execs are being shoved out the door without the usual golden parachute. Sure, it's a start but considering the money they've all made from pushing junk the last few years, it doesn't even matter. Their actions went well beyond not deserving a golden parachute.
But hey, Wall Street can surely drum up a few more laughs about Spitzer. Did you know he had sex with a prostitute? Keep talking about sex so Wall Street, the Fed and Paulson can pull a few more fast ones on all of us.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
While New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was paying an ‘escort’ $4,300 in a hotel room in Washington, just down the road, George Bush’s new Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Ben Bernanke, was secretly handing over $200 billion in a tryst with mortgage bank industry speculators.
Both acts were wanton, wicked and lewd. But there’s a BIG difference. The Governor was using his own checkbook. Bush’s man Bernanke was using ours.
This week, Bernanke’s Fed, for the first time in its history, loaned a selected coterie of banks one-fifth of a trillion dollars to guarantee these banks’ mortgage-backed junk bonds. The deluge of public loot was an eye-popping windfall to the very banking predators who have brought two million families to the brink of foreclosure.
Up until Wednesday, there was one single, lonely politician who stood in the way of this creepy little assignation at the bankers’ bordello: Eliot Spitzer.
Who are they kidding? Spitzer’s lynching and the bankers’ enriching are intimately tied.
How? Follow the money. Read on…
The whole Bear Stearns bail out is hilarious when you consider how horrified these ‘free market’ proponents are at the thought of say, socialized medicine, but barely bat an eye at socialized banking. Privatize profits and nationalize losses, anyone? Meanwhile, decades of Republican economic strategy has brought us to a recession, if not teetering on the edge of a depression (The similarities in the economy of the 1920s and today are there for the finding). What will be telling is what kind of bonuses will be handed out to Bear Stearns executives in light of this massive failure of management.
The report was to be posted on the Joint Forces Command website this afternoon, followed by a background briefing with the authors. No more. The report will be made available only to those who ask for it, and it will be sent via U.S. mail from Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia.
It won't be emailed to reporters and it won't be posted online.
Asked why the report would not be posted online and could not be emailed, the spokesman for Joint Forces Command said: "We're making the report available to anyone who wishes to have it, and we'll send it out via CD in the mail."
Another Pentagon official said initial press reports on the study made it "too politically sensitive."
ABC News obtained the comprehensive military study of Saddam Hussein's links to terrorism on Tuesday. Read the report's executive summary HERE.
The study, which was due to be released Wednesday, found no "smoking gun" or any evidence of a direct connection between Saddam's Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist organization.
The report is based on the analysis of some 600,000 official Iraqi documents seized by US forces after the invasion. It is also based on thousands of hours of interrogations of former top officials in Saddam's government who are now in U.S. custody.
Others have reached the same conclusion, but no previous study has had access to so much information. Further, this is the first official acknowledgement from the U.S. military that there is no evidence Saddam had ties to Al Qaeda.
The study does, however, show that Saddam Hussein did much to support terrorism in the Middle East and used terrorism "as a routine tool of state power." Saddam's government, for example, had a program for the "development, construction, certification and training for car bombs and suicide vests in 1999 and 2000." The U.S. military is still dealing with the fall-out from this particular program.
The report says Saddam's bureaucrats carefully recorded the regime's connections to Palestinian terrorists groups and its financial support for the families of suicide bombers.
The primary target, however, of Saddam's terror activities was not the United States, and not Israel. "The predominant targets of Iraqi state terror operations were Iraqi citizens, both inside and outside of Iraq." Saddam's primary aim was self preservation and the elimination of potential internal threats to his power.
Bush administration officials have made numerous attempts to link Saddam Hussein and the Al Qaeda terror group in their justification for waging war against Iraq.
"What I want to bring to your attention today is the potentially much more sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al Qaida terrorist network," former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told the United Nations February 5, 2003.
On June 18, 2004 the Washington Post quoted President George W. Bush as saying: "The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda: because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda," Bush said.
"This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda," The Washington Post quoted Bush as saying. "We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda."
"We know he's out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons and we know that he has a long-standing relationship with various terrorist groups, including the al-Qaeda organization," Vice President Dick Cheney said on NBC's Meet The Press March 16, 2003.
"But the cost is far less than it will be if we get hit, for example, with a weapon that Saddam Hussein might provide to al-Qaeda, the cost to the United States of what happened on 9/11 with billions and billions of dollars and 3,000 lives. And the cost will be much greater in a future attack if the terrorists have access to the kinds of capabilities that Saddam Hussein has developed," Cheney said.
''There is no question but that there have been interactions between the Iraqi government, Iraqi officials and Al Qaeda operatives. They have occurred over a span of some 8 or 10 years to our knowledge. There are currently Al Qaeda in Iraq,'' former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in a interview with Infinity CBS Radio, Nov. 14, 2002.
We do need to note that. And, it should probably be noted that five deferment Cheney also passed up the opportunity. If it's so romantic, maybe the Bush twins and the son-in-law to be should do a tour of duty in Kabul.
George W. Bush laments that his advanced age doesn't let him participate in his own screw-ups:
"I must say, I'm a little envious," Bush said. "If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed."
"It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks," Bush said.
Need we note that when Bush had an actual opportunity to put his life on the line in a war, he chose to avoid doing so?
If the Federal Communications Commission were a cop on the beat, congressional watchdogs contend, it would have a lousy conviction record. They find that most of the government agency's investigations fail to result in any enforcement.
According to a report released on Thursday by the General Accountability Office, only about 9% of the completed investigations resulted in enforcement action, while 83% resulted in no enforcement.
The GAO said it could not determine why the investigations were closed without action because "FCC does not systematically collect these data."
Congressional critics of the agency say the report proves the commission lacks respect for the consumers it is supposed to protect.
"When more than 80% of complaints investigated by the FCC are closed without any meaningful enforcement action, and it isn't possible to determine why no action was taken, then it appears that the FCC has abdicated its duty to protect consumers," said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich.
LSB: Has this administration EVER missed an opportunity to stand up for industry at the expense of the consumer?
LSB: I have come to the conclusion, sadly, that if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic candidate for President in 2008 that this will be the first time in my life I will stay home from the voting booth. Although she was always my least favorite candidate, I felt that I could pull the lever for her over any Reublican candidate. I no longer feel that way. And even though I feel that this is setting a bad precident for my nieces and nephews (not voting), I reject that I have to vote for "the lessor of two evils." I'm tired of voting against someone; I want to vote for someone. So a message needs to be sent to the Democratic Party: don't count on me if your candidate isn't ethical and can't play by the rules - rules that they knew about and played by until those rules didn't benefit them.
Sen. John McCain plans at least one campaign event on his week-long congressional trip to Europe and the Middle East: a March 20 fundraiser in London. An invitation sent out by the campaign says the luncheon will be held at Spencer House, St. James's Place, "by kind permission of Lord Rothschild OM GBE and the Hon Nathaniel Rothschild." Tickets to the invitation-only event cost $1,000 to $2,300. Attire is listed as "lounge suits."According to the McCain campaign, in keeping with U.S. law, only Americans can contribute. But, the damn thing is being hosted by a Brit. They are not Americans.
Just for one second imagine the outcry on Fox News and right wing talk radio if a Democrat had a fundraiser in London hosted by a British Lord or any foreigner.
Obama answers Rezko questions in "uncommon detail." Waiting for full disclosure from Hillary Clinton. Can she meet Obama's "standard for candor"?
Yesterday, Obama sat down with the Chicago Tribune to discuss all the details of his relationship with Rezko. The Trib is the hometown paper of Obama and Rezko. The reporters and editors in that room actually know the Rezko story inside and out. So, Obama went into the lion's den -- and based on the report in the Tribune, it worked out well:
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama waited 16 months to attempt the exorcism. But when he
finally sat down with the Tribune editorial board Friday, Obama offered a lengthy and, to us, plausible explanation for the presence of now-indicted businessman Tony Rezko in his personal and political lives.
The most remarkable facet of Obama's 92-minute discussion was that, at the
outset, he pledged to answer every question the three dozen Tribune journalists
crammed into the room would put to him. And he did.
After the meeting, the Tribune stood by its endorsement of Obama noting:
The Tribune is right that Obama should have answered these questions already. But, he's done it now. And, Obama has now set the "standard for candor" for the other candidates in the race:
When we endorsed Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination Jan. 27, we sad we had formed our opinions of him during 12 years of scrutiny. We concluded
that the professional judgment and personal decency with which he has managed
himself and his ambition distinguish him.
Nothing Obama said in our editorial board room Friday diminishes that verdict.
Good point. Can anyone imagine Hillary Clinton sitting down with a pack of reporters and editors to answer questions about her scandals -- like her missing tax filings from 2001 to now, all Clinton's earmarks since 2001, the missing schedules from the White House years and the funding for the Clinton library, to name but a few. Quite a list -- sure seems like Hillary is hiding something.
Obama should have had Friday's discussion 16 months ago. Asked why he didn't, he spoke of learning, uncomfortably, what it's like to live in a fishbowl. That made him perhaps too eager to protect personal information—too eager to "control the narrative."
Less protection, less control, would have meant less hassle for his campaign. That said, Barack Obama now has spoken about his ties to Tony Rezko in uncommon detail. That's a standard for candor by which other presidential candidates facing serious inquiries now can be judged.
The Rezko chapter is closed absent some new revelation and as the Tribune noted:
Obama's critics have waited 16 months for some new and cataclysmic Rezko moment to implicate and doom Obama. It hasn't happened.So, all the questions that Mark Penn and his colleagues keep throwing out have been asked by the reporters from the paper who really know the backstory about Rezko. That's what the Clinton campaign wanted, right? Now, as we saw in today's conference call, Team Clinton tried to change the rules, again. But, the ball is in their court.
Let's do what the Chicago Tribune suggests and judge the other presidential candidates facing serious inquiries by the "standard for candor" set by Obama. Hillary, you're up. After all, the Clinton campaign sure likes to raise issue about disclosures from other campaigns. Now, it's her turn. Can Hillary Clinton meet Obama's standard for candor?
And for all those who think this is piling on, keep in mind that if Hillary somehow manages to get the nomination (as unlikely as that is), she will be forced to release info during the general election. The Republicans probably already know the stuff she's hiding. So if she is able to steal the nomination, we'll all be forced to defend what she kept hidden from Democrats during the nomination process. Think about it -- if Hillary has nothing to hide, why is she being so secretive and evasive?
The worst of this bailout is that the US government is committing so many billions without even debating where the money goes or who is it helping. Are we now picking up the tab for Wall Street bonuses? Let Wall Street pay back the commissions and bonuses that were based on this trash and then let's talk. Their excuse is that they need to retain the good people who weren't part of the problems. Frankly, I don't care. The management made these problems and even today, we have Prince (Citibank), O'Neil (Merrill Lynch) and others who walked away with tens of millions all based on buying and selling trash. Let them pay it back and let's ask for all of the money that others made on selling trash and then let's talk. If they don't want to, fine, but don't ask for more money. Why are we giving bailout money without debate?
LSB: Emphasis added is mine.
Chris in Paris, AmericaBlog.com: You know, the men who were caught cheating on their wives that have long been forgotten. Spitzer was wrong, but weren't they as well? Why are both still in office while Spitzer has resigned? I'm still trying to figure out how it is that Spitzer resigned within days, yet Larry Craig and David Vitter are still in office. The GOP was rolling on the floor laughing this week when Spitzer went down, but I'm almost surprised that Fox didn't interview Newt Gingrinch, Vitter or Craig and have them tell us about the evils of sex outside of marriage and how it's destroying America much the way the media has used Bill Bennett when they are seeking moral guidance on one issue or another. It's a tricky game to understand who is supposed to resign in disgrace when you see this.
Meanwhile, while Wall Street and the GOP were all laughing, Americans shoveled $200 billion to Wall Street all based on a guarantee of $200 billion in subprime loans that nobody was ever going to buy. Funny, isn't it? Ha, ha, ha. Joke's on us.
LSB: Emphasis added is mine. LOL! Good one, Chris! Sadly, I'm sure if FAUZ New had thought of it, they would have put them on the air. Maybe the wives (and ex-wives) of these philanderers put their collective feet down and said something like, 'We won't stand up there on that podium a second time, assholes! We've been humiliated enough.'