Showing posts with label Hillary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hillary. Show all posts

21 January 2009

Who Needs Dubya? Texas Still Has John Cornyn to Embarass Us

Where's Waldo? Hillary Clinton, center, being crushed on the House floor, with Texas Sen. John Cornyn directly behind her. Photo by Reuters.

'His petty little snit in holding up the appointment of Hillary Clinton to State for an extra day just offers a sniff of dumbness to come.'

By Thorne Dreyer / The Rag Blog / January 21, 2009
See 'John Cornyn's True Nature Comes Out of the Closet,' Below.
Dubya may be gone (though certainly not forgotten), but his erstwhile lapdog continues to howl. How in the world did Texans reelect Sen. John “Corn Dog” Cornyn, our sad sack of a Republican embarassment? His petty little snit in holding up the appointment of Hillary Clinton to State for an extra day just offers a sniff of dumbness to come.

Sarito Neiman wrote from New York: “Can’t you guys get rid of this turkey?”

Well, he ain’t going anywhere soon.

The following comes from boadicea at Texas Kaos.

John Cornyn's True Nature Comes Out of the Closet
January 21 / 2009

As the Republican Party leaders do their damndest to reduce their relevance and constituency by being institutional assholes, John Cornyn's ambition and true nature assert themselves.
By voting against confirmation for Hillary Clinton on the day of President Barack Obama's inauguration he proved that the only thing Big about “Big John” is his pettiness.

Oh, and his ego. With John McCain back to his "I'm not any Republican, I'm a MAVERICK" schtick, and Sarah Palin back in Alaska, John figures he's the next up for a national profile, and he used his vote in the Foreign Relations committee to get him some face time with reporters.
As the GOP's new point man on Senate elections, Cornyn faces a daunting task. His party lost eight seats in November and is currently down to 41 out of 100 - a 28-year low.

But he offered a relatively upbeat assessment in his first roundtable with reporters since colleagues picked him to lead the National Republican Senatorial Committee in November.

Foremost, he said, Democrats badly mishandled the Illinois seat left open by Obama. Roland Burris - chosen by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who has been impeached for allegedly trying to sell the job - will be sworn in today.

Cornyn called the situation "a national embarrassment" that could open a GOP opportunity in a state Republicans would ordinarily have written off next year.
Really, a Texas Republican is going to try to make the case for a "national embarrassment"? The party of Tom Delay, Tom Craddick, George W. Bush, Alan Keyes, Sarah Palin, Larry "Wide Stance" Craig, and Ted Stevens is gonna make the case the the Republicans are the sane, non-embarrassing party?
That should be amusing.

The only thing Cornyn's going to confirm is that he can be counted on-whether from Terri Schiavo, Box Turtle Love, or bipartisan leadership at a critical time for the American people-to be the biggest asshole in the room.
Libby Shaw added a comment at Texas Kaos:
Let's give him hell.

I know we are stuck with him for the next six years but this does not mean Cornyn should be able to do whatever he wants whenever. He represents all Texans, not just his base of fat cats and right wingers.

Every time Cornyn does something stupid and embarrassing, which will be most of the time, let's blast him with messages of protest. I posted the info below yesterday in comments on BOR on Daily Kos after reading about Cornyn's embarrassing stunt.

We pay his salary - that dude works for us and we should remind him of that on a daily basis.
To contact Cornyn, go here.

You can also fax him at 202-228-2856 or call 202-224-2934.

The Rag Blog

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06 December 2008

Sorry Hillary : Obama Boys Behaving Badly

Jon Favreau, left, and unidentified friend with Sen. Hillary Clinton cutout. From the "44" Blog / Washington Post.
'Asked about the photos, Favreau, who was recently appointed director of speechwriting for the White House, declined comment. A transition official said that Favreau had "reached out to Senator Clinton to offer an apology."' (What woe...)
By Frank James / December 5, 2008

A colleague tipped me to a Washington Post posting from the "44" blog which reports on an incident which is like something from a "West Wing" episode.

As the WaPo's Al Kamen writes, Jon Favreau, 27, who President-elect Obama has named his speechwriting chief, did something really dumb at a party:

... Some interesting photos of a recent party he attended -- including one where he's dancing with a life-sized cardboard cut-out of secretary of state-designate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, and another where he's placed his hand on the cardboard former first lady's chest while a friend is offering her lips a beer -- popped up on Facebook for about two hours. The photos were quickly taken down -- along with every other photo Favreau had of himself on the popular social networking site, save for one profile headshot.

Asked about the photos, Favreau, who was recently appointed director of speechwriting for the White House, declined comment. A transition official said that Favreau had "reached out to Senator Clinton to offer an apology."

Considering the photo, I don't think I would have used the phrase "reached out to Sen. Clinton" in that statement.

Could you imagine being Favreau and having to apologize to the president-elect or Sen. Hillary Clinton for this? And you thought you were having a bad day.

Reminds me of that line President Bush used when he was running for the White House in 2000: "When I was young and foolish, I was young and foolish."

Source / The Swamp / Chicago Tribune

Thanks to Harry Edwards / The Rag Blog

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14 September 2008

Tina Fey as Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live


'Fey stood beside her good friend and fellow castmate Amy Poehler, whose Hillary Clinton has been one of the high points of recent "SNL" history'
By Maureen Ryan / September 14, 2008

See Video and transcript, below.
As it used to be years ago, the word "live" was appropriate.

Ever since Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was announced as Sen. John McCain's running mate, people have remarked on her strong resemblance to former "Saturday Night Live" head writer Tina Fey.

Would Fey appear on the show's season-opener Saturday, sporting Palin's trademark rimless glasses? Speculation raged about that all week, and of course, "SNL" executive producer Lorne Michaels was coy about whether Fey, who left the show a few years ago for "30 Rock," would stop by her old stomping grounds. Of course she would... right?

The end result of all the suspense: Forget DVRs, forget on-demand TV, forget YouTube, forget firing up your WiFi connection. All across America, people were parked in front of their TV sets late Saturday night.

As the program came on (at 10:30 p.m. Central time), there was Fey in a bright red blazer. She was the spitting image of Palin (or wait, is Palin the spitting image of Fey?). Even Fey's flat Palin-esque accent was perfect; Fey had obviously closely studied the interviews that Palin gave to ABC on Thursday and Friday.

TV viewers will have a tough choice this year, as they struggle to decide which is more interesting: The ongoing reality show featuring Sen. Barack Obama, McCain and Palin, or Tina Fey doing her pitch-perfect version of Palin. We should have at least a few more opportunities to observe the latter, as "SNL" exploits the foibles of the election season every weekend and on three "SNL" specials that will air on Thursdays this fall.

On "SNL," . They slung barbs that took sharp aim at Palin's experience -- or lack thereof -- and at the perception that Clinton has been relentlessly ambitious.

"Mine! It's supposed to be mine!" Poehler-as-Clinton said. "I need to say something. I didn't want a woman to be President. I wanted to be President and I just happen to be a woman."

Both women agreed on one thing: That sexism had become an issue in the campaign. It was an issue that "frankly surprised to hear people suddenly care about," Poehler-as-Clinton deadpanned.

She later warned Fey-as-Palin that she didn't "want to hear you compare your road to the White House to my road to the White House. I scratched and clawed through mud and barbed wire and you just glided in on a dog sled wearing your pageant sash and your Tina Fey glasses."

As she spoke, Fey-as-Palin struck sexy poses and pretended to fire a shotgun. "What an amazing time we live in," she said. "To think that just two years ago, I was a small town mayor of Alaska's crystal meth capitol."

Earlier, she talked up her foreign policy credentials: "I can see Russia from my house!"

Host Michael Phelps couldn't help but be overshadowed by Fey's terrific turn as Palin. Sketches about a couple's ugly children (pictured above) and a weird swim coach (below) didn't come close to the level of the opening sketch. Nothing in the rest of the broadcast did really (and Obama, after reports emerged that he would be a guest, was a no-show on Saturday; he decided not to appear thanks to the destruction Hurricane Ike was causing).

The show's "Weekend Update" segment featured some Palin comedy as well. As Poehler noted, recent polls show McCain "only six points behind Sarah Palin." Perhaps there wasn't enough Palin though -- raise your hand if you thought the "Weekend Update" commentary from the comic-strip character Cathy was a good idea.

Minutes after the Clinton-Palin sketch aired on "SNL," a spokesman for the show sent out a full transcript of the piece, and I've reprinted it in full below.

An NBC transcript of "SNL's" opening sketch:
FEY AS PALIN: "Good evening, my fellow Americans. I was so excited when I was told Senator Clinton and I would be addressing you tonight."

POEHLER AS CLINTON: "And I was told I would be addressing you alone."

FEY AS PALIN: "Now I know it must be a little bit strange for all of you to see the two of us together. What with me being John McCain's running mate."

POEHLER AS CLINTON: "And me being a fervent supporter of Senator Barack Obama -- as evidenced by this button."

FEY AS PALIN: "But tonight we are crossing party lines to address the now very ugly role that sexism is playing in the campaign."

POEHLER AS CLINTON: "An issue which I am frankly surprised to hear people suddenly care about."

FEY AS PALIN: "You know, Hillary and I don't agree on everything..."

POEHLER AS CLINTON: (OVERLAPPING) "Anything. I believe that diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy."

FEY AS PALIN: "And I can see Russia from my house."

POEHLER AS CLINTON: "I believe global warming is caused by man."

FEY AS PALIN: "And I believe it's just God hugging us closer."

POEHLER AS CLINTON: "I don't agree with the Bush Doctrine."

FEY AS PALIN: "I don't know what that is."

POEHLER AS CLINTON: "But Sarah, one thing we can agree on is that sexism can never be allowed to permeate an American election."

FEY AS PALIN: "So please, stop photoshopping my head on sexy bikini pictures."

POEHLER AS CLINTON: "And stop saying I have cankles."

FEY AS PALIN: "Don't refer to me as a 'MILF.'"

POEHLER AS CLINTON: "And don't refer to me as a [flurge]. I Googled what it stands for and I do not like it."

FEY AS PALIN: "So we ask reporters and commentators, stop using words that diminish us, like 'pretty,' 'attractive,' 'beautiful.'"

POEHLER AS CLINTON: "'Harpy,' 'shrew' and 'boner shrinker.'"

FEY AS PALIN: "While our politics may differ, my friend and I are both very tough ladies. You know it reminds me of a joke we tell in Alaska..."What's the difference...

POEHLER AS CLINTON: "Lipstick."

FEY AS PALIN: "...between a hockey mom..."

POEHLER AS CLINTON: "Lipstick."

FEY AS PALIN: "...and a pitbull?"

POEHLER AS CLINTON: "Lipstick."

FEY AS PALIN (AFTER A BEAT): "Lipstick. Just look at how far we've come. Hillary Clinton, who came so close to the White House. And me, Sarah Palin, who is even closer. Can you believe it, Hillary?"

POEHLER AS CLINTON: (AFTER A PAUSE)"I can not."

FEY AS PALIN: "It's truly amazing and I think women everywhere can agree, that no matter your politics, it's time for a woman to make it to the White House."

POEHLER AS CLINTON: "No. Mine! It's supposed to be mine! I need to say something. I didn't want a woman to be President. I wanted to be President and I just happen to be a woman. And I don't want to hear you compare your road to the White House to my road to the White House. I scratched and clawed through mud and barbed wire and you just glided in on a dog sled wearing your pageant sash and your Tina Fey glasses."

FEY AS PALIN:
"What an amazing time we live in. To think that just two years ago, I was a small town mayor of Alaska's crystal meth capitol. And now I am just one heartbeat away from being President of the United States. It just goes to show that anyone can be President."

POEHLER AS CLINTON: "Anyone."

FEY AS PALIN: "All you have to do is want it."

POEHLER AS CLINTON: (LAUGHS) "Yeah, you know, Sarah, looking back, if I could change one thing, I should have wanted it more." (RIPS OFF PIECE OF PODIUM)

FEY AS PALIN: "So in the next six weeks, I invite the media to be vigilant for sexist behavior."

POEHLER AS CLINTON: "Although it is never sexist to question female politicians credentials. Please ask this one about dinosaurs. So I invite the media to grow a pair. And if you can't, I will lend you mine."

FEY AS PALIN: And as we say in Alaska...

POEHLER AS CLINTON: "We say it everywhere..."

FEY/POEHLER: "Live from New York, It's Saturday Night!!!
Source / Chicago Tribune



The Rag Blog

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14 August 2008

Maureen Dowd on Hillary and the Dem Convention : Yes She Can

Hillary Clinton campaigning for Barack Obama August 8 in Henderson, Nevada.

'She’s amazed at how easy it was to snatch Denver away from the Obama saps'
By Maureen Dowd / August 12, 2008

While Obama was spending three hours watching “The Dark Knight” five time zones away, and going to a fund-raiser featuring “Aloha attire” and Hawaiian pupus, Hillary was busy planning her convention.

You can almost hear her mind whirring: Like taking candy from a baby, except Beanpole Guy doesn’t eat candy. In just a couple of weeks, Bill and Hill were able to drag No Drama Obama into a swamp of Clinton drama.

Now they’ve made Barry’s convention all about them — their dissatisfaction and revisionism and barely disguised desire to see him fail. Whatever insincere words of support the Clintons muster, their primal scream gets louder: He can’t win! He can’t close the deal! We told you so!

Hillary’s orchestrating a play within the play in Denver. Just as Hamlet used the device to show that his stepfather murdered his father, Hillary will try to show the Democrats they chose the wrong savior.

Her former aide Howard Wolfson fanned the divisive flames Monday on ABC News, arguing that Hillary would have beaten Obama in Iowa and become the nominee if John Edwards’s affair had come out last year — an assertion contradicted by a University of Iowa survey showing that far more Edwards supporters had Obama as their second choice.

Hillary feels no guilt about encouraging her supporters to mess up Obama’s big moment, thus undermining his odds of beating John McCain and improving her odds of being the nominee in 2012.

She’s obviously relishing Hillaryworld’s plans to have multiple rallies in Denver, to take out TV and print ads and to hold up signs in the hall that read “Denounce Nobama’s Coronation.”

In a video of a closed California fund-raiser on July 31 that surfaced on YouTube, Hillary was clearly receptive to having her name put in nomination and a roll-call vote.

She said she thought it would be good for party unity if her gals felt “that their voices are heard.” But that’s disingenuous. Hillary was the one who raised the roll-call idea at the end of May with Democrats, who were urging her to face the math. She said she wanted it for Chelsea, oblivious to how such a vote would dim Obama’s star turn. Ever since she stepped aside in June, she’s been telling people privately that there might have to be “a catharsis” at the convention, signaling she wants a Clinton crescendo.

Bill continues to howl at the moon — and any reporters in the vicinity — about Obama; he’s starting to make King Lear look like Ryan Seacrest.

The way the Clintons see it, there’s nothing wrong with a couple making plans for their future, is there? That’s the American way and, as their pal Mark Penn pointed out, they have American roots while Obama “is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values.”

The Clintons know that a lot of Democrats are muttering that their solipsistic behavior is “disgusting.” But they’re too filled with delicious schadenfreude at the wave of buyer’s remorse that has swept the Democratic Party; many Democrats are questioning whether Obama is fighting back hard enough against McCain, and many are wondering, given his inability to open up a lead in a country fed up with Republicans, if race will be an insurmountable factor.

Some Democrats wish that Obama had told the Clintons to “get in the box” or get lost if they can’t show more loyalty, rather than giving them back-to-back, prime-time speaking gigs at the convention on Tuesday and Wednesday. Al Gore clipped their wings in 2000, triggering their wrath by squeezing both the president and New York Senate candidate into speaking slots the first night and then ushering them out of L.A.

Wednesday will be all Bill. The networks will rerun his churlish comments from Africa about Obama’s readiness to lead and his South Carolina meltdowns. TV will have more interest in a volcanic ex-president than a genteel veep choice.

Obama also allowed Hillary supporters to insert an absurd statement into the platform suggesting that media sexism spurred her loss and that “demeaning portrayals of women ... dampen the dreams of our daughters.” This, even though postmortems, including the new raft of campaign memos leaked by Clintonistas to The Atlantic — another move that undercuts Obama — finger Hillary’s horrendous management skills.

Besides the crashing egos and screeching factions working at cross purposes, Joshua Green writes in the magazine, Hillary’s “hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency.”

It would have been better to put this language in the platform: “A woman who wildly mismanages and bankrupts a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar campaign operation, and then blames sexism in society, will dampen the dreams of our daughters.”

Source / New York Times

The Rag Blog

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13 August 2008

Sisters, This Is an Election We Can't Sit Out

Senator Barack Obama with Oprah Winfrey in Des Moines. Photo by Jason Reed / Reuters.
The visceral, gut-wrenching pain expressed by Clinton's supporters is real, and at least in my case, has caused me to confront my own response, not just to the challenges of the primary campaign, but to sexism and racism.
We must overcome both racism and sexism and come together to elect Barack Obama
By Rev. Valda Jean Combs / August 13, 2008.
Rev. Combs, a Texas native, is a Methodist minister in Fort Worth.
Near the end of the primary season, some of Sen. Barack Obama's black supporters circulated an e-mail about boycotting the general election if Obama was not the Democratic nominee.

I knew this would never happen. Black voters are in too much trouble to sit this one out. There's high unemployment, sub-prime mortgages and a broken public education system to consider. Nonetheless, on a personal level, I knew I would be wounded deeply if Obama did not win.

Could I swallow my anger at what I considered to be racist jabs thrown by Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign? Could I overcome the pain of being confronted with the unequivocal fact that large numbers of primary voters were not ready for a black nominee?

And what about the mainstream media that gleefully repeated every rumor and nasty innuendo about Obama and his wife? Politics divide. That is a given. I would love to say I could put aside my bitterness and put on my big-girl panties. I hope I could have done it, but we'll never know. My candidate won.

But we can all still be troubled by public rancor and downright ugliness. I saw it during the primary, but I must admit that I was so tuned in to the first viable African American candidate that I missed much of the sexism. I was so furious with Clinton by the close of the primary contest that I turned the volume down each time she came on TV.

Sound familiar?

Racism's Deafening Pain

I watch three news networks, including Fox. I read political Internet sites and blogs. I spend lots of time talking politics. However, it was not until Clinton's supporters began to express their grief and anger that I heard some of the egregious things both said and done. I wonder what made me so hard of hearing?

I'm still working that out. This political race has forced me to try and separate the ways I have experienced sexism and racism. A recent medical experience caused an epiphany.

I had a steroid injection in my back to help manage chronic pain. When I got home, I found that my shoulder hurt. When I called the nurse, she said this was common; that our brains can only process a certain level of pain. That the pain in my back was all my brain could bear, until that pain was relieved.

Is it possible the pain of racism makes it difficult to process someone else's pain?

The visceral, gut-wrenching pain expressed by Clinton's supporters is real, and at least in my case, has caused me to confront my own response, not just to the challenges of the primary campaign, but to sexism and racism.

I reject the notion that we should settle for racist or sexist remarks as acceptable political discourse. Each time I hear a talking head tell me about political races that have been nastier and bitterer, I am offended. Why should we accept that the lowest common denominator is the norm? Still, if we only feel the pain when it is our candidate (race, gender, religion . . .) we will never rise above our own stuff, and the promise of a fair and just society cannot be achieved.

Unspoken Agreement Among Women

Reflecting on the primary, I realize there was an unspoken agreement among the women in my circle that we could discuss politics in general, but not which side we were on.

It wasn't until the primary was over that I knew my own sister supported Sen. Clinton!

Among my friends, particularly white women, we sensed that our unity was too tenuous to support the issues this campaign brings to the surface. As committed as we were, and are, to our respective candidates, we recognized that the work we do together for the benefit of all women is too important to jeopardize.

Clinton sisters, I feel you. I know how it feels to lose. I know how it feels to have a dream deferred. I know how it feels to believe that your time has come, only to have someone else take your place.

In third grade I was bigger and taller than most of my classmates, certainly blacker. I remember standing in line for recess when I heard my teacher call me a "big, dumb nigger."

On more than one occasion I have walked into a courtroom in rural counties only to have the bailiff yell at me to get behind the rail, apparently unaware that lawyers look like me.

I recount these experiences not because I dwell on them, but because they shaped me.

I could recite a litany of such experiences, but what I hope you understand is that

I know how it feels when your dream gets kicked around.

Paying a Price to Sit Out

But if anger and disappointment cause some women to sit out this election, other women will pay the price.

Think of elderly women whose pension and Social Security checks can't stretch enough to cover food, medication and rising utility bills. Obama's plan eliminates income taxes for seniors making less than $50,000 and cuts the cost of prescription drugs by allowing imports. Sen. John McCain's campaign senior adviser Taylor Griffin says, "Sen. McCain believes this is so important that we do not politicize this debate during an election season."

Think of youngsters like my 16-year-old daughter and her friends who, with the hubris of youth, fall in and out of love and make poor life choices. Supreme Court justices nominated by McCain will certainly overturn Roe v. Wade.

In my congregation, several young mothers are raising families on their own. Neither they nor their children have health care. McCain voted against reauthorizing the Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides crucial coverage to children in many working families that really need it. Obama's plan ensures medical coverage for these families.

Obama has experienced the pain of growing up in the home of a single mother on food stamps. His Blueprint for American Working Women and Families includes paid sick days for low-income women and flexible work arrangements for working moms.

Perhaps the outcome of this election will not change your life in any meaningful way.

Perhaps you are financially stable and can't see how this election could impact your life. Maybe there's no threat that your job could go overseas, or the value of your home could plummet. Could be your daughter or son will never need to rely on a Supreme Court ruling for life or liberty. If that is the case, I hope you know how blessed you are.

My prayer is that you will consider the rest of us. The women and girls who suffer the slings and arrows of this economy and who flinch each time they see that the price of a gallon of milk has increased since the last trip to the grocery store.

Please come home for our sake. We need you.

Source / Women’s eNews

Thanks to Dorindo Moreno / The Rag Blog

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06 August 2008

MEDIA : The Mythical Obama Bias


Trust me, John McCain doesn't know what bad press looks like
by Eric Boehlert / August 5, 2008

Did you know the big bad media are beating up on John McCain?

For weeks, the campaign's media debate centered on whether the press was being too kind to Sen. Barack Obama -- whether it was fawning over the Democrat's historic run and drowning him in rapturous coverage. (Recent studies and analysis have cast that claim into doubt.)

But now the narrative has been expanded to include the laughable notion that, following a string of McCain campaign stumbles, including botched staging and questionable photo-ops, the press has suddenly turned on McCain and is mocking the Republican. That the same press corps that branded McCain a maverick and for years worshipped his loose-talking demeanor, has now soured on the senator. Meaning, the love is gone.

The New York Observer trumpeted that trend last week when it published a front-page article detailing the transformation from McCain-as-media-hero to "McCain-as-marginalized-victim" who's suffering "rough treatment" from journalists. The Observer piece came complete with an illustration that showed the press as a two-by-four-wielding playground bully setting his sights on a vulnerable and childlike McCain. (Run Johnny, run!)

Aside from asking for the world's smallest violin, I'd like to make the point that rather than bemoaning the type of press attention McCain has been attracting, most recent Democratic candidates for president, who were pummeled and even savaged by the press, would pay for the kind of respectful coverage McCain has accumulated this summer. They would be rejoicing if the press ever treated them as kindly and as softly as it has McCain this campaign.

Let me put it another way: When McCain gets regularly portrayed in the press as a serial liar the way Al Gore was in 2000, then he can complain about the press. When McCain is portrayed as an angry lunatic the way Howard Dean was in 2003, then he can complain. When McCain's war record is dragged through the mud while the press looks on for weeks too frightened to call out the partisan accusers, the way John Kerry's military record was, then he can complain. When McCain's campaign is defined by his haircut the way John Edwards' was, then he can complain. When McCain is portrayed as a cackling witch the way Hillary Clinton was this winter, then he can complain. When McCain is portrayed as arrogant and presumptuous the way Obama is today, then he can complain.

But pretending that when the press simply chronicles McCain's disjointed campaign means that reporters and pundits have somehow turned on the candidate -- that they are attacking him and piling on -- is just ludicrous.

It's true the McCain campaign has received some unkind press notices in recent weeks, but that's because the McCain campaign has been very poorly run. As The Atlantic's conservative blogger Ross Douthat conceded last week, "John McCain is running a staggeringly inept campaign."

That's what Republican boosters were saying about the Arizona senator. But simply acknowledging the campaign's missteps, however gingerly the traditional media have done it in recent weeks, does not mean the press is being nasty to the candidate or attacking the GOP.

What's happened in recent White House campaign cycles is that people have become so accustomed to the press openly mocking the Democrat that when that pattern is altered, however slightly, as it's been in 2008, it's perceived to be a massive shift.

Since the media are simply not trashing the Democratic nominee as aggressively as in campaigns past, conservatives are claiming that's being unfair. They liked the old model where the press effortlessly adopted GOP spin about Democratic candidates being phony and untrustworthy. That worked for the GOP. Today, that model has been modestly tweaked, and the GOP is crying foul.

That's expected. But it was distressing to see the New York Observer buy into the spin about the media turning on McCain. After all, the evidence to support the meme is quite thin. Yes, partisan Republican Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, assured the Observer that McCain "got slapped upside the head" by the media. But in terms of pinpointing actual instances of mockery, the Observer didn't seem to have much to work with. It did cite this recent cable chatter scene:

"On a recent segment on Fox News' The Beltway Boys ... Morton Kondracke, countered a little later with this: "McCain did not have a great week. His visual was riding around in a golf cart with old George Bush the First." Mr. Kondracke waved his hands in the air, comically mimicking Mr. McCain at the wheel of a golf car. Mr. [Fred] Barnes crossed his arms and chuckled.
That was the Observer's strongest piece of evidence of the media "mockery" -- of the "rough treatment" -- that McCain has had to endure? Kondracke waved his hands and Barnes chuckled.

Oh, brother. I mean, how does McCain make it through the days with that kind of media venom flowing in his direction?

I can't help thinking if Gore wouldn't have preferred suffering that kind of "mockery" as opposed to having MSNBC's Chris Matthews announce that Gore was so desperate to be president in 2000 that he would gladly "lick the bathroom floor" to get elected. Go read the Daily Howler's 2000 archives for a catalog that's as long as a fire station grocery list of the jarring insults and attacks the press leveled against Gore, who, at times, was portrayed in the press as pathological. And then compare those attacks to the light-as-a-feather mockery that McCain has supposedly had to deal with lately and tell me which is tougher.

It's the same reason that I bet Clinton would have gladly been the target of a Fox News anchor's chuckle rather than having The New York Times print a news section analysis of her laugh and then watch lots of well-paid, deep-thinking pundits and reporters at The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Cincinnati Post, National Public Radio, Time.com, Reuters, Associated Press, Politico, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, among others, pontificate about her humorous outbursts.

Indeed, way back in November 2007, months before the press really let loose on her candidacy, Greg Sargent amassed a sort of Greatest Hits of the media's phony attacks on Clinton. Read the list and try to think of a single event in the last two months in which the press, which we're told has turned on poor John McCain, ever concocted nonsense like this and targeted the GOP front-runner:
* Hillary's alleged failure to tip the Iowa waitress

* Hillary's phony southern drawl

* The supposed 20-year-plan by Hillary and Bill to take over the world, or at least deliver them both the Presidency, as alleged by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta and denied by the one person who supposedly had first-hand knowledge of their dastardly plot

* The baseless claim that Hillary eavesdropped on political opponents in 1992

* The bogus media claim that Bill Clinton accused Hillary's Dem rivals of "swiftboating" her

* The media's hyping of Hillary's supposed refusal to release Presidential records, a tale that was taken apart in today's Washington Post and which wasn't matched by any similar media outrage about Rudy [Giuliani's] refusal to release his Mayoral papers.
P.S. Don't forget the great cleavage debate of 2007.

Yet we're supposed to believe the bullying press is now mocking McCain? Give us a break.

You'll also note that with the Democratic trend with Gore, Dean, Kerry, Clinton, Edwards, and Obama, the caustic coverage candidates have had to endure almost always revolved around questions of character; being a liar, a phony, unhinged, or arrogant.

By contrast, there has not been a single, sustained press narrative pushed by the media during this entire campaign season that has ridiculed or called into question McCain's character. Not one. For the press, that kind of character exploration of McCain remains taboo. But when covering Democrats, character assassination remains routine.

Meanwhile, I can't help wondering if the press is being tagged as mean and nasty simply because reporters belatedly challenged one of McCain's many campaign lies. Because they decided to come out of their Bush-era shell and actually engaged in a rare bout of fact-checking, or what used to be called reporting, when a Republican tried to smear the character of his Democratic opponent.

The lie McCain peddled in a television ad was that Obama canceled a trip to visit wounded U.S. soldiers in Germany because the Pentagon told him he couldn't bring reporters along with him. After some initial hesitation, NBC, along with The New York Times and The Washington Post, among others, finally reported that McCain's central allegation was not supported by the facts.

On the front page on July 30, the Post's Michael Shear and Dan Balz reported that McCain continued to make the allegation, "despite no evidence that the charge is true." That might seem like a simple thing. And unfortunately the press still allowed McCain's planted lie to dictate campaign coverage last week. But for the Beltway media amidst a White House campaign, the Post's reporting was different.

As the Daily Howler noted:
"Shear's report represents a major change in the mainstream press culture of the past sixteen years. In this report, the Washington Post, on its front page, directly challenges the latest slimy "character" charge against the latest Dem White House hopeful. This represents a major change in the way this newspaper does business."
Quite simply, the Republican Party cannot afford to have the press become aggressive fact-checkers out on the trail. So in an attempt to intimidate the press back into the semi-crouch that has defined campaign journalism for the last decade, conservatives whine about how mean and nasty the media are for attacking McCain.

But the far-fetched claim just doesn't hold up to scrutiny. In fact, it directly contradicts very recent testimonials from starry-eyed journalists on the McCain beat. "Covering McCain is a blast," wrote Ana Marie Cox, in a recent issue of Radar. "He genuinely likes reporters: He'll joke with us about our drinking habits, playfully request our cell phones in the middle of a call and tell some unsuspecting editor or parent that the phone's owner has just been hauled off to rehab, and engage in gleefully sarcastic banter about both our colleagues and his."

And on MSNBC last week, Time's Mark Halperin, sounding like somebody putting off making an unwanted dentist appointment, assured viewers that, "McCain deserves scrutiny and he'll get some." Halperin couldn't quite say when that pending scrutiny of McCain would take place. (Stay tuned.)

The truth is that the press not only has not turned on McCain but it continues to act as a key campaign ally in a way it does not for Democrats.

I'm trying to imagine back during the 2004 campaign, when the debate about Iraq was raging: What if candidate Kerry had sat down for an interview on the CBS Evening News and promptly made an egregious factual error regarding the timeline of events there? Does anybody really think that rather than air Kerry's blunder, and in fact trumpet the misstep as news, that CBS would have cut away from his botched answer and replaced it with three separate spliced-together statements made by Kerry, one of which was the answer to a different question, and then not tipped off viewers that the interview had been heavily edited? Does anybody think CBS would have extended Kerry that courtesy?

That's exactly the kind of oversized life preserver Katie Couric's Evening News threw McCain when he bungled the timeline of the U.S. military's surge in Iraq during a CBS interview. In an extraordinary act of kindness, Couric and company covered for McCain -- and violated CBS' ethical guidelines in the process.

Yet today we're told the press has turned on the GOP candidate and that it's mocking John McCain?

Trust me, if the press had turned on Al Gore like that in 2000, he'd be finishing up his second term as president right now.

Source / Media Matters

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04 August 2008

Barack Obama : Pride and Prejudice

Barack Obama the new Mr Darcy? Dominic Cooper played the part in the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's 'Sense And Sensibility.'
Read 'Mr. Darcy Comes Courting' by Maureen Dowd below.
Maureen Dowd hits the nail on the head
By Steve Russell / The Rag Blog / August 4, 2008

Maureen Dowd is no Molly Ivins, but sometimes she can both hit the nail on the head and deliver a chuckle (if not the roaring belly laughs that were Molly's stock in trade).

I don't fear that progressives will not hold Obama's feet to the fire.

I fear that America is not ready to vote for a non-white President. I'll say it again: the Dems are the left party and they nominated Obama JUST BARELY. Polling suffers from the Tom Bradley error on one side and the no land line error on the other. I just don't know. I want to believe we're past color but it's hard to see right now...

Folks, when it became public knowledge that I'm enrolled Cherokee, thanks to the Austin paper, my IQ went down 20 points over night. Most of the people who did not suddenly treat me differently are on the Rag list. And my experience was AUSTIN, for crying out loud, which was weird enough to vote for me [for Travis County judge] in the first place.

I can't help but think black is a harder sell than American Indian and most of the country is not as far towards post-racialism as Austin.

Please, let me be wrong!
Mr. Darcy Comes Courting
By Maureen Dowd / August 3, 2008

WASHINGTON -- It is a truth universally acknowledged that Barack Obama must continue to grovel to Hillary Clinton’s dead-enders, some of whom mutter darkly that they will not only not vote for him, they will never vote for a man again.

Obama met for an hour Tuesday with three dozen top Hillaryites at a hotel here, seeking their endorsement and beguiling their begrudging. He opened the session by saying that he knew there had been frustration about what they saw as sexism during the primary.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Hillary die-hards want to enshrine a whine in the Democratic platform about how the primaries “exposed pervasive gender bias in the media” and call on party leaders to take “immediate and public steps” to denounce any perceived bias in the future. That is one nutty idea.

Perhaps it is because feminists are still so busy cataloging past slights to Hillary that they have failed to mount a vivid defense of Michelle Obama, who has taken over from Hillary as the one conservatives like to paint as a harridan.

Before the Obama campaign even had a chance to denounce Ludacris, one of the rappers on the senator’s iPod, Hillary Inc. started to mobilize. Susie Tompkins Buell, a former Clinton bundler, told The New York Observer that Obama had to distance himself, given Ludacris’s new song rooting for Obama to “paint the White House black” and calling Hillary the b-word.

Despite Obama’s wooing, some women aren’t warming. As Carol Marin wrote in The Chicago Sun-Times, The Lanky One is like an Alice Waters organic chicken — “sleek, elegant, beautifully prepared. Too cool” — when what many working-class women are craving is mac and cheese.

In The Wall Street Journal, Amy Chozick wrote that Hillary supporters — who loved their heroine’s admission that she was on Weight Watchers — were put off by Obama’s svelte, zero-body-fat figure.

“He needs to put some meat on his bones,” said Diana Koenig, a 42-year-old Texas housewife. Another Clinton voter sniffed on a Yahoo message board: “I won’t vote for any beanpole guy.”

The odd thing is that Obama bears a distinct resemblance to the most cherished hero in chick-lit history. The senator is a modern incarnation of the clever, haughty, reserved and fastidious Mr. Darcy.

Like the leading man of Jane Austen and Bridget Jones, Obama can, as Austen wrote, draw “the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien. ...he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased.”

The master of Pemberley “had yet to learn to be laught at,” and this sometimes caused “a deeper shade of hauteur” to “overspread his features.”

The New Hampshire debate incident in which Obama condescendingly said, “You’re likable enough, Hillary,” was reminiscent of that early scene in “Pride and Prejudice” when Darcy coldly refuses to dance with Elizabeth Bennet, noting, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me.”

Indeed, when Obama left a prayer to the Lord at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, a note that was snatched out and published, part of his plea was to “help me guard against pride.”

If Obama is Mr. Darcy, with “his pride, his abominable pride,” then America is Elizabeth Bennet, spirited, playful, democratic, financially strained, and caught up in certain prejudices. (McCain must be cast as Wickham, the rival for Elizabeth’s affections, the engaging military scamp who casts false aspersions on Darcy’s character.)

In this political version of “Pride and Prejudice,” the prejudice is racial, with only 31 percent of white voters telling The New York Times in a survey that they had a favorable opinion of Obama, compared with 83 percent of blacks.

And the prejudice is visceral: many Americans, especially blue collar, still feel uneasy about the Senate’s exotic shooting star, and he is surrounded by a miasma of ill-founded and mistaken premises.

So the novelistic tension of the 2008 race is this: Can Obama overcome his pride and Hyde Park hauteur and win America over?

Can America overcome its prejudice to elect the first black president? And can it move past its biases to figure out if Obama’s supposed conceit is really just the protective shield and defense mechanism of someone who grew up half white and half black, a perpetual outsider whose father deserted him and whose mother, while loving, sometimes did so as well?

Can Miss Bennet teach Mr. Darcy to let down his guard, be more sportive, and laugh at himself?
Source / New York Times

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28 July 2008

INTERVIEW : Barbara Streisand on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton


'There is too much at stake right now to elect another George W. Bush to the White House'
By: Jeffrey Ressner / July 28, 2008

"She sometimes answers questions by e-mail," said one of Barbra Streisand's trusted confidants, when asked if the star would consent to an interview with Politico. Streisand, who occasionally posts political statements on her own website, rarely does print Q&As and gave her last TV interview back in 2005 with Ellen DeGeneres.

So a month ago a dozen e-mail questions were sent off, nearly all regarding the presidential race. Late last week, we received her answers on shifting her support from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama (“immediate”), racism (“naïve to think [it] won’t be a factor”), how things might play out this year (“close”), and much more.

Here are our questions and her answers in full, minus one exchange that substantially overlapped with another.

You strongly supported Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Was switching to Sen. Barack Obama difficult?

We had a very deep bench of Democratic Presidential candidates in the primary, and we were very lucky to finally have two capable, dynamic and intelligent candidates vying to be the nominee. Supporting Sen. Obama for President was an immediate decision for me after Sen. Clinton ended her bid for the Democratic nomination. Throughout this process, they challenged each other to be better. It was a historical race, with Hillary breaking through that glass ceiling for all women and Barack inspiring young kids that they can overcome their circumstances to reach greatness.

Will you be doing any concerts to support Obama and the Democrats before the election?

I would absolutely consider performing for Sen. Obama and for the Democratic Party.

What do you say to Hillary’s fans that might be moving to vote for McCain — a figure that’s been estimated to be as high as 15 percent of her supporters?

I would urge those voters to take a step back and realize that our country is at an extremely serious crossroad . . . . There is too much at stake right now to elect another George W. Bush to the White House. And John McCain is just that. He has stated that the issue of economics is not something he’s understood as well as he should. He does not support reproductive rights for women, increased veteran’s benefits and ending the war in Iraq. There is just no reason for Sen. Clinton’s supporters not to back Sen. Obama.

Have you spoken with Obama? If so, what did you talk about?

I have met and spoken to Sen. Obama, but I don’t discuss my personal conversations with the media.

Which Clinton policies do you think Obama should embrace, and what role would you like to see her have in his administration should he be elected?

I would like to see him embrace her universal healthcare policy. But it is ultimately up to the two of them to decide whether she will be more effective as a leader in the Senate or if she should work in the Administration. She has years of experience in public service and her work serving the needs of children and poor and working class Americans is incredibly admirable.

A lot of folks object to "Hollywood celebrities" participating in political discourse. Aside from pure disagreement over certain issues, why do you think there's such a backlash when you or other well-known performers speak your mind?

On a very basic level, many people think celebrities have too much already so we shouldn’t be entitled to our political opinions. Also, the other side objects to the fact that we might be listened to. But, I see myself first and foremost as a citizen of this country. And I am outspoken about the issues I care about like healthcare, global warming, the war in Iraq, energy independence, education, poverty and so on.

I think we are all lucky to live in a country where people have the constitutional right to voice their opinion and speak their mind without punishment or penalty. Everyone should exercise that right, because it engages people in the political process and forces our candidates to be clear about their stances on important issues affecting all Americans.

Do you have any friends or family members who are conservative and/or Republican?

I do have friends that are Republicans and we have very spirited conversations on a whole range of issues. I am often baffled by why they are Republicans, but I enjoy the dialogue and can move beyond politics to find common ground in my personal relationships.

How do you think the election will play itself out over the next four months? Do you think the subject of race will continue to be a factor?

As we head toward November, I think the race will continue to be close -- although I hope I am wrong. But this country likes tight races and I am afraid it will ultimately come down to which campaign turns out the most voters on Election Day.

I want to believe that our country can see beyond race as a factor in voting for a Presidential candidate…that instead, a candidate’s intellect, vision, political values and policies override any consideration of his skin color. But on some level, it would be naive to think that race will not be a factor. I do believe, however, that there is much less racism, sexism and homophobia among the younger generation and that we have come a very long way.

There's been a lot of discussion about Israel during this race so far. Should this issue have a major place in this year's election?

Issues of foreign policy have a place in every election for President. As a woman, a Jew, and a strong supporter of Israel, I am confident Sen. Obama is committed to Israel's safety and security.

Aside from the presidential contest, are there any other races around the country that you're following?

Yes, Yes, Yes! I am closely following the Senate races. We need to reach a 60-seat majority in the Senate. There are 35 Senate races, of which 5 are open challenges. Democratic strategists believe with varying degrees of probability that the following states are at least a possibility for turnover: Alaska, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon and Virginia.

If the Democrats win the Presidency, we will need a strong mandate in the Senate to break the gridlock of filibustering that the Republicans have used over the past four years. For that to happen, Democrats need to capitalize on picking up key seats in states where Republican support is waning. I can’t imagine a Supreme Court with another judicial appointment like Scalia, Thomas, or Alito.

Source / Politico

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21 July 2008

McCain's War on Women


'To vote for McCain, a feminist would have to be insane.'
By Kate Sheppard / July 21, 2008

Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) campaign and the media would have us believe that herds of disaffected women voters will be stampeding to the Republicans this year because a woman candidate won't be on the presidential ballot in November.

McCain's campaign has been making a clear play for women voters in recent weeks, hosting conference calls with Republican women and touting that his policies on national security, the economy and healthcare appeal to women voters.

But the suggestion that women -- and feminist women, at that -- will be lining up behind him is a fairytale. At least, it should be. McCain's record and policies on issues of importance to women are neither moderate nor maverick.

In The Nation, Katha Pollitt put it simply: "[T]o vote for McCain, a feminist would have to be insane."

But the chatter about the voting decisions of former presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) supporters continues. Much of the recent talk has focused on PUMAs (the acronym stands for "Party Unity My Ass"), a group supposedly so angry about the Democratic primary that they won't vote for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). But as blogger Amanda Marcotte reported, PUMA PAC was started by a McCain donor, according to the Federal Election Commission.

That doesn't mean there aren't angry Clinton voters. But the number of progressive or even moderate voters who would seriously consider voting for McCain is much smaller than the media would have you believe. Unfortunately, McCain's propaganda seems to be working, at least on those who aren't aware of his record on issues of concern to women voters.

A February Planned Parenthood poll of 1,205 women voters in 16 battleground states found that 50 percent of women voters don't know McCain's position on abortion, and that 49 percent of women who backed McCain were pro-choice. Forty-six percent of women supporting McCain said they'd like to see Roe v. Wade upheld -- though McCain says he supports overturning the decision. When they learned of his position on Roe, 36 percent of women who identified as both pro-choice and likely McCain voters said they would be less likely to vote for him.

These moderate, often suburban, middle-class women could be critical swing voters this election. At the time of the Planned Parenthood poll, Obama held only a 5 percentage-point margin over McCain with its swing-state demographic, 41 percent to 36 percent.

Planned Parenthood concludes that these findings suggest "that just filling in McCain's actual voting record and his publicly stated positions on a handful of key issues has the potential to diminish his total vote share among battleground women voters by about 17 to 20 percentage points."

"The only reason [McCain is] saying he's going after Clinton voters is because if he doesn't win their votes, he's not going to win this election," says Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood. "Even though I think it's a real wash-up for him, he's got to find some more voters somewhere. That's the political math here."

On the record

One reason many pro-choice women are confused about McCain is because he has flip-flopped on the abortion issue.

In 1999, McCain said he backed Roe: "Certainly, in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations."

But on NBC's "Meet the Press" in May 2007, responding to a question about his statements in 1999, McCain said: "Well, it was in the context of conversation about having to change the culture of America as regards to this issue. I have stated time after time after time that Roe v. Wade was a bad decision."

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan says his shifting rhetoric is an attempt to "game" the electorate and confuse voters about his actual stances. "[The McCain campaign] knows full well that women in America, especially independent and pro-choice women, will not support a candidate who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade," Keenan says. "So they're still trying to make the case that he's a moderate and a maverick, when his record proves that he is neither."

The record also shows that McCain has rarely strayed outside Republican Party line on the issue of choice. He has consistently voted against measures to provide access to contraception and sex-education, and voted to approve anti-choice judges.

Planned Parenthood and NARAL have each given him a zero for his record on women's health issues. (The record dates back to his days in the House of Representatives, between 1983 and 1986, and carries through to his career in the U.S. Senate, which began in 1987.) Of the 130 congressional votes related to reproductive freedom that McCain has cast, 125 have been anti-choice, according to NARAL.

It's a record McCain says he's proud of -- when he's not trying to appeal to women outside his Republican base.

"I have many, many votes and it's been consistent," McCain told The National Review, a conservative magazine, last year. "And I've got a consistent zero from NARAL throughout all those years. ... My record is clear." He has also bragged to the media that his record has "been pro-life, unchanging and unwavering."

On the campaign trail this year, he has been adamant, telling MSNBC's Chris Matthews in April that "the rights of the unborn is one of my most important values."

And McCain has pledged that if elected president, he will appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe. In February, he said he "will try to find clones of [Justice Samuel] Alito and [Chief Justice John] Roberts" -- two conservative Bush administration appointees -- to fill high court vacancies.

He has worked his pro-life ideology into other aspects of federal decisions. Perhaps the most preposterous example is his voting in favor of legislation to amend the definition of those eligible for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to include the unborn -- while voting against legislation to expand SCHIP's coverage to low-income children and pregnant women at least six times.

In 2003, he voted for a ban on so-called "partial-birth abortions." And in 2004, he supported the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which makes it a criminal offense to harm or kill a fetus while committing a violent crime -- essentially deeming the fetus a person in the eyes of the law.

In July 2006, McCain voted for legislation that would fine and/or imprison physicians who perform abortions on out-of-state minors if there are parental notification requirements in their home state. In October 2007, he voted for legislation that would cut Health and Human Services grants to organizations that perform abortions.

McCain is no better when it comes to the issues of providing access to contraception, family planning information and basic women's healthcare. He has voted to require parental consent for teenagers who want access to contraceptives, and against an amendment to the Senate's 2006 budget that would have allocated $100 million for the prevention of teen pregnancy by providing education and contraceptives.

He opposed legislation requiring that abstinence-only programs be medically accurate and based in science. He voted to abolish funding for birth control and gynecological care for low-income women, and against funding for public education on emergency contraception.

He also voted against a measure that would require insurance companies to cover prescription contraception, despite the fact that many currently fund male reproductive pharmaceuticals, such as Viagra.

And he supports President Bush's restoration of the "global gag rule" -- which cuts off federal funding for nongovernmental organizations that provide abortion services and information -- and he opposes funding international family planning, in general. Yet he doesn't seem particularly well-informed on the subject.

In March 2007, the New York Times' Adam Nagourney asked McCain whether grants for sex education in the United States include instructions about using contraceptives, or if they should abide by Bush's abstinence-only policy.

After a pause, McCain responded, "Ahhh. I think I support the president's policy."

Nagourney followed up: "So no contraception, no counseling on contraception? Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?"

After another pause, McCain replied, "You've stumped me."

McCain is confused about his stance on the issue of choice overall, according to other accounts. In the 2000 primary, he was asked what he would do if his daughter Meghan, then 15, became pregnant. McCain said it would be a "family decision."

"The final decision would be made by Meghan with our advice and counsel," McCain said, referring to himself and his wife, Cindy. When reporters suggested that this view made him, in fact, pro-choice, McCain became irritated. "I don't think it is the pro-choice position to say that my daughter and my wife and I will discuss something that is a family matter that we have to decide."

McCain's record on women "undermines any thought that he is a moderate or that he is someone more independent," says Planned Parenthood's Richards. "Unlike George [W.] Bush, who really had no voting record on anything, Sen. McCain has a record he has to stand by, and it's a very consistent one."

But others, including Jennifer Stockman, co-chair of Republican Majority for Choice, an organization that works to elect pro-choice Republicans, says she believes McCain would be better than Bush in the White House.

"There's more hope with McCain," Stockman says, "because of his genuine interest in being more common-sense centered and to reach out to independents and to the majority of the Republican Party [who] are people like us rather than pander to the social conservatives."

But Stockman says her group isn't going to endorse McCain, and she herself still isn't sure whether she's going to vote for anyone this year. Like many, she says she doesn't really understand where McCain's is coming from, since he's not outwardly religious, nor has he displayed a desire to pander to social conservatives on other issues.

"I don't understand, knowing him, why he's been so anti-choice," says Stockman. "His voting record doesn't really make sense to me, honestly."

But she adds that chances are, as in previous years, social conservatives will commandeer the GOP's platform and make sure anti-choice language is a centerpiece.

Education and training

McCain has an equally dismal record on other issues central to women's lives -- pay equity, fighting workplace discrimination, and supporting programs that help working mothers and their families.

In April, he skipped the vote on the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Had it passed the Senate, this bill would have restored the interpretation of the protections for pay equity in the Civil Rights Act that was overturned in a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling.

Though he didn't vote, he spoke against the bill on the campaign trail, saying in New Orleans: "They need the education and training, particularly since more and more women are heads of their households, as much or more than anybody else. And it's hard for them to leave their families when they don't have somebody to take care of them."

In addition to suggesting women need to be taken care of, the statement shows a total lack of understanding of the case.Lilly Ledbetter had worked for nearly 20 years at a Goodyear Tires plant in Gadsden, Ala., before she discovered that she was being paid less than her male counterparts -- despite having received awards for her performance. She brought an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the company to rectify the situation, but the court ruled that employees have only 180 days from when payroll decisions are made to file a wage-discrimination complaint.

McCain's allegation that Ledbetter's problem was in her preparation for the job is, at best, misinformed. At worst, it expresses ignorance of the reality of discriminatory practices against women in the workplace.

"It's not because of training and education; it's because of discrimination," says NOW Executive Vice President Olga Vives. "And he doesn't seem to get that."

The candidate, however, has said repeatedly that he's in favor of pay equity -- though there is little in his record or his platform to suggest he supports it.

"Regarding women's rights, this guy really doesn't see it," Vives says. "There's no indication in his record before then or now that he's going to be supporting the issues that are very important to women, including economic issues and health."

On civil rights issues, his record, again, is poor. He has voted in favor of banning affirmative action hiring for jobs funded by the federal government, and says he's against policies that might result in "quotas" -- an oft-repeated conservative excuse for not supporting policies that rectify systemic inequities. In the first session of 109th Congress, he voted with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's positions only 7 percent of the time.

On the economic front, McCain's platform suggests he'd perpetuate many of the Bush-era policies that have done little for low- and middle-income women and families. Although he initially opposed the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, McCain has now flipped.

In 1993, before voting in favor of the Family and Medical Leave Act -- which, among other things, allows pregnant women to take unpaid maternity leave if it's not automatically offered in the workplace -- McCain sought to weaken the measure. He proposed allowing the government to suspend the law if it found that the act would increase the cost to business.

His record on broader health issues for women and families isn't any better. McCain voted at least six times to reduce, eliminate or restrict health insurance programs for low-income children and pregnant women. In August 2007, he again voted against a bill to expand coverage of SCHIP.

In 2000, he voted against providing tax credits to small businesses that offer health insurance to their employees -- the same year he voted against a $3,000 tax credit to help seniors and their families cover long-term care.

In 1995 and 1999, he voted against measures that provided additional funding for home and community-based healthcare providers. And he has voted seven times for measures that cut or restricted funding for Medicaid, and 18 times for measures that cut or restricted Medicare.

"It's a typical conservative approach," Vives says. "As we know, that doesn't bode well for the common ordinary person, more than half of whom are women. It's the same old story of trickle-down economics."

The personal is political

Then there's what we know about McCain's personal interactions with women. In his book The Real McCain, Cliff Schecter describes one stop during his 1992 Senate reelection bid. He writes, "At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, 'You're getting a little thin up there.' McCain's face reddened, and he responded, 'At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt.' " (Schecter confirmed this remark with three reporters who were present when it was made.)

And at a 1998 Republican Senate fundraiser, McCain proffered this "joke": "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly?" Answer: "Because her father is Janet Reno."

Then, there is McCain's response to a questioner in Hilton Head, S.C., last November, who asked, referring to Sen. Clinton: "How do we beat the bitch?" McCain responded: "Excellent question."

During this election campaign, McCain has taken to talking up the sexual conquests of his youth, perhaps to appeal himself to younger voters. In March, he told a crowd in Meridian, Miss.: "I remember with affection the unruly passions of youth." He then regaled them with a story of his exploits organizing an off-base toga party for his military pals and local girls.

In another campaign stop in Pensacola, Fla., McCain recalled his days as a Florida-based fighter pilot -- dating an exotic dancer known as the "Flame of Florida" and "blowing my pay at Trader Jon's," a local strip club. Abstinence-only must not apply for the boys.

Not an easy fix

As Republican Majority for Choice's Stockman notes, if more women get wind of his record on women's issues, he'll have a problem.

"McCain's going to have to come up with reasoning about his voting record and what he really believes without flip-flopping," says Stockman. "It's very challenging for him. I don't know how he's going to handle it."

[Kate Sheppard is the political reporter for the online environmental magazine, Grist.org. She has also written for The American Prospect, Bitch, The Guardian and MSN.]

Source / In These Times

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29 June 2008

Gender Bias in the Media

Sexism Sells -- But We're Not Buying It



The Women's Media Center, along with its partners at Media Matters, launched on May 20 "Sexism Sells, But We're Not Buying It," a new video and online petition campaign illustrating the pervasive nature of sexism in the media's coverage.

According to the Women's Media Center,

"While Hillary Clinton's campaign cast a spotlight on the issue of sexism, this isn't a partisan issue: it's about making sure that women's voices are present and powerful in our national dialogue. If you haven't already, please... watch the video. You can also read a statement. about the video from WMC president Carol Jenkins. Then sign on... to join our petition campaign.

Let's send a message to the media:

Sexism Sells, But We're Not Buying It!"
Source. / Women's Media Center

Thanks to Frances Morey / The Rag Blog

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15 June 2008

Women Know When They're Being Hit On


Angry Clinton Women ♥ McCain?
By Frank Rich / June 15, 2008

Ten years ago John McCain had to apologize for regaling a Republican audience with a crude sexual joke about Hillary and Chelsea Clinton and Janet Reno. Last year he had to explain why he didn’t so much as flinch when a supporter asked him on camera, “How do we beat the bitch?” But these days Mr. McCain just loves the women.

In his televised address on Barack Obama’s victory night of June 3, he dismissed Mr. Obama in a single patronizing line but devoted four fulsome sentences to praising Mrs. Clinton for “inspiring millions of women.” The McCain Web site is showcasing a new blogger who crooned of the “genuine affection” for Mrs. Clinton “here at McCain HQ” after she lost. One of the few visible women in the McCain campaign hierarchy, Carly Fiorina, has declared herself “enormously proud” of Mrs. Clinton and is barnstorming to win over Democratic women to her guy’s cause.

How heartwarming. You’d never guess that Mr. McCain is a fierce foe of abortion rights or that he voted to terminate the federal family-planning program that provides breast-cancer screenings. You’d never know that his new campaign blogger, recruited from The Weekly Standard, had shown his genuine affection for Mrs. Clinton earlier this year by portraying her as a liar and whiner and by piling on with a locker-room jeer after she’d been called a monster. “Tell us something we don’t know,” he wrote.

But while the McCain campaign apparently believes that women are easy marks for its latent feminist cross-dressing, a reality check suggests that most women can instantly identify any man who’s hitting on them for selfish ends. New polls show Mr. Obama opening up a huge lead among female voters — beating Mr. McCain by 13 percentage points in the Gallup and Rasmussen polls and by 19 points in the latest Wall Street Journal-NBC News survey.

How huge is a 13- to 19-percentage-point lead? John Kerry won women by only 3 points, Al Gore by 11.

The real question is how Mr. McCain and his press enablers could seriously assert that he will pick up disaffected female voters in the aftermath of the brutal Obama-Clinton nomination battle. Even among Democrats, Mr. Obama lost only the oldest female voters to Mrs. Clinton.

But as we know from our Groundhog Days of 2008, a fictional campaign narrative, once set in the concrete of Beltway bloviation, must be recited incessantly, especially on cable television, no matter what facts stand in the way. Only an earthquake — the Iowa results, for instance — could shatter such previously immutable story lines as the Clinton campaign’s invincibility and the innate hostility of white voters to a black candidate.

Our new bogus narrative rose from the ashes of Mrs. Clinton’s concession to Mr. Obama, amid the raucous debate over what role misogyny played in her defeat. A few female Clinton supporters — or so they identified themselves — appeared on YouTube and Fox News to say they were so infuriated by sexism that they would vote for Mr. McCain.

Now, there’s no question that men played a big role in Mrs. Clinton’s narrow loss, starting with Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Mark Penn. And the evidence of misogyny in the press and elsewhere is irrefutable, even if it was not the determinative factor in the race. But the notion that all female Clinton supporters became “angry white women” once their candidate lost — to the hysterical extreme where even lifelong Democrats would desert their own party en masse — is itself a sexist stereotype. That’s why some of the same talking heads and Republican operatives who gleefully insulted Mrs. Clinton are now peddling this fable on such flimsy anecdotal evidence.

The fictional scenario of mobs of crazed women defecting to Mr. McCain is just one subplot of the master narrative that has consumed our politics for months. The larger plot has it that the Democratic Party is hopelessly divided, and that only a ticket containing Mrs. Clinton in either slot could retain the loyalty of white male bowlers and other constituencies who tended to prefer her to Mr. Obama in the primaries.

This is reality turned upside down. It’s the Democrats who are largely united and the Republicans who are at one another’s throats.

Yet the myth of Democratic disarray is so pervasive that when “NBC Nightly News” and The Wall Street Journal presented their new poll results last week (Obama, 47 percent; McCain, 41 percent) they ignored their own survey’s findings to stick to the clichéd script. Both news organizations (and NBC’s sibling, MSNBC) dwelled darkly on Mr. Obama’s “problems with two key groups” (as NBC put it): white men, where he is behind 20 percentage points to Mr. McCain, and white suburban women, where he is behind 6 points.

Since that poll gives Mr. Obama not just a 19-point lead among all women but also a 7-point lead among white women, a 6-point deficit in one sliver of the female pie is hardly a heart-stopper. Nor is Mr. Obama’s showing among white men shocking news. No Democratic presidential candidate, including Bill Clinton, has won a majority of that declining demographic since 1964. Mr. Kerry lost white men by 25 points, and Mr. Gore did by 24 points (even as he won the popular vote).

“NBC Nightly News” was so focused on these supposedly devastating Obama shortfalls that there was no mention that the Democrat beat Mr. McCain (and outperformed Mr. Kerry) in every other group that had been in doubt: independents, Catholics, blue-collar workers and Hispanics. Indeed, the evidence that pro-Clinton Hispanics are flocking to Mr. McCain is as nonexistent as the evidence of a female stampede. Mr. Obama swamps Mr. McCain by 62 percent to 28 percent — a disastrous G.O.P. setback, given that President Bush took 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, according to exit polls. No wonder the McCain campaign no longer lists its candidate’s home state of Arizona as safe this fall.

There are many ways that Mr. Obama can lose this election. But his 6-percentage-point lead in the Journal-NBC poll is higher than Mr. Bush’s biggest lead (4 points) over Mr. Kerry at any point in that same poll in 2004. So far, despite all the chatter to the contrary, Mr. Obama is not only holding on to Mrs. Clinton’s Democratic constituencies but expanding others (like African-Americans). The same cannot be said of Mr. McCain and the G.O.P. base.

That story is minimized or ignored in part because an unshakable McCain fan club lingers in some press quarters and in part because it’s an embarrassing refutation of the Democrats-in-meltdown narrative that so many have invested in. Understating the splintering of the Republican base also keeps hope alive for a tight race. As the Clinton-Obama marathon proved conclusively, a photo finish is essential to the dramatic and Nielsen imperatives of 24/7 television coverage.

The conservative hostility toward McCain heralded by the early attacks of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and James Dobson is proliferating. Bay Buchanan, the party activist who endorsed Mitt Romney, wrote this month that Mr. McCain is “incapable of energizing his party, brings no new people to the polls” and “has a personality that is best kept under wraps.” When Mr. McCain ditched the preachers John Hagee and Rod Parsley after learning that their endorsements antagonized Catholics, Muslims and Jews, he ended up getting a whole new flock of evangelical Christians furious at him too.

The revolt is not limited to the usual cranky right-wing suspects. The antiwar acolytes of Ron Paul are planning a large rally for convention week in Minneapolis. The conservative legal scholar Douglas Kmiec has endorsed Mr. Obama, as have both the economic adviser to Newt Gingrich’s “Contract With America,” Lawrence Hunter, and the neocon historian Francis Fukuyama. Rupert Murdoch is publicly flirting with the Democrat as well. Even Dick Cheney emerged from his bunker this month to gratuitously dismiss Mr. McCain’s gas-tax holiday proposal as “a false notion” before the National Press Club.

These are not anomalies. Last week The Hill reported that at least 14 Republican members of Congress have refused to endorse or publicly support Mr. McCain. Congressional Quarterly found that of the 62,800 donors who maxed out to Mr. Bush’s campaign in 2004, only about 5,000 (some 8 percent) have contributed to his putative successor.

It was just this toxic stew of inadequate fund-raising and hostility from the base — along with incompetent management — that capsized the McCain campaign last summer. Now the management, at least, is said to be new and improved, but the press is still so distracted by the “divided Democrats” it has yet to uncover how that brilliant McCain team spent weeks choreographing the candidate’s slapstick collision with a green backdrop and self-immolating speech in prime time two weeks ago.

The only figure in the McCain camp who has candidly acknowledged any glitches is his mother, the marvelous 96-year-old Roberta McCain. Back in January she said that she didn’t think her son had any support in the G.O.P. base and that those voters would only take him if “holding their nose.”

The ludicrous idea that votes from Clinton supporters would somehow make up for McCain defectors is merely the latest fairy tale brought to you by those same Washington soothsayers who said Fred Thompson was the man to beat and that young people don’t turn up to vote.

Source. / New York Times

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09 June 2008

Tom Hayden on Hillary's Endorsement of Obama


Hillary's Winning Speech
By Tom Hayden / June 7, 2008

Hillary Clinton’s moving and brilliant speech today cemented an independent place for herself and feminists in general in the unfolding historical drama of the 2008 presidential election.

The speech, which situated her more firmly than ever in women’s history, provided a powerful endorsement for Barack Obama while at the same time reinforcing her position as virtually his equal in the Democratic primary race.

Clinton essentially empowered her audience by implying they, more than anyone, could make the historic difference by electing an African-American president on the rising, tide of the women’s vote. She assured them that the two candidacies had shattered all gender and racial barriers to democracy’s highest office.

Hers was not the surrender pose traditionally expected of “losers” but a redefinition of what winning ultimately means. It suggested that she will be treated as a full partner in the process, and it was a victory speech for the power of social movements.

She bravely rejected the bitter destructiveness that gnaws within all campaigns that lose closely, and held the high ground.

Characterizing her decision as a “suspension”, however, still left open the prospect of hard bargaining with Obama over a range of issues, but apparently in a greater atmosphere of unity.

One wonders if she would be the nominee if she had pursued the tone of today’s speech more and the advice of her [male] advisors less. It took a year, and a string of campaign disasters, before she threw out Mark Penn, though still leaving in place a cast of male operatives like Lanny Davis who only blighted her image as an experienced, pragmatic representative of the Sixties student, antiwar and women’s movements.

Her 2002 vote to authorize the Iraq War, which opened the door for Obama’s candidacy, was advised as the way to prove that a woman could be commander-in-chief. So were her later comments about obliterating Iran. Her male advisers incessantly pressured the media to play up Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, race-baiting and red-baiting positions she never would have adopted in the late Sixties.

This wasn’t a problem unique to Clinton alone, of course. If Bill Clinton had not promoted NAFTA and the WTO, there would have been no space for Ralph Nader to run in 2000. Had John Kerry followed his 1970 anti-war, anti-establishment instincts in 2004, he probably would have been president today. The Democratic Party consultant class has been counseling retreat from the Sixties ever since…the Sixties. It has been a risk for Obama’s centrist campaign as well, although his 2002 antiwar stance and the unified enthusiasm of the black community position him firmly within a progressive history.

This basic identity confusion at the center of the Clinton strategy was the crucial reason, next to Obama’s superlative campaign, for her narrow defeat. The irony is that her resurrection can now begin.

Source. / Progressives for Obama

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04 June 2008

H. Rosen : Hillary Missed Her Chance


I Am Not a Bargaining Chip, I Am a Democrat
By Hilary Rosen / June 4, 2008

Senator Clinton's speech last night was a justifiably proud recitation of her accomplishments over the course of this campaign, but it did not end right. She didn't do what she should have done. As hard and as painful as it might have been, she should have conceded, congratulated, endorsed and committed to Barack Obama. Therefore the next 48 hours are now as important to the future reputation of Hillary Clinton as the last year and a half have been.

I am disappointed. As a long time Hillary Clinton supporter and more importantly, an admirer, I am sad that this historic effort has ended with such a narrow loss for her. There will be the appropriate "if onlys" for a long time to come. If only the staff shakeup happened earlier; if only the planning in caucus states had more focus; if only Hillary had let loose with the authentic human and connecting voice she found in the last three months of the campaign. If only. If only. I have written many times on this site about the talents of Hillary Clinton and why I thought she'd make a great President

After last night's final primary, she was only about pledged 100 delegates behind him. Ironic that after not wanting to make the decision for so long, it was in fact, the superdelegates who made the decision. But I guess they did so for another reason. It just isn't her time. It is his time. It's a new day that offers a freshness to our party that many have longed for. We felt the rush of new voices and a new energy in the Congressional sweep of 2006 and the sweep continues. It has been an organic shift. And a healthy one.

The life's work of Bill and Hillary Clinton in partnering with so many African Americans uniting our purpose and promoting our mutual issues is as responsible for Barack Obama's success as our first African American nominee as anyone. And yet, that joy is being denied for them by themselves. It is so sad.

So, I am also so very disappointed at how she has handled this last week. I know she is exhausted and she had pledged to finish the primaries and let every state vote before any final action. But by the time she got on that podium last night, she knew it was over and that she had lost. I am sure I was not alone in privately urging the campaign over the last two weeks to use the moment to take her due, pass the torch and cement her grace. She had an opportunity to soar and unite. She had a chance to surprise her party and the nation after the day-long denials about expecting any concession and send Obama off on the campaign trail of the general election with the best possible platform. I wrote before how she had a chance for her "Al Gore moment." And if she had done so, the whole country ALL would be talking today about how great she is and give her her due.

Instead she left her supporters empty, Obama's angry, and party leaders trashing her. She said she was stepping back to think about her options. She is waiting to figure out how she would "use" her 18 million voters.

But not my vote. I will enthusiastically support Barack Obama's campaign. Because I am not a bargaining chip. I am a Democrat.

Source. / The Huffington Post

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03 June 2008

Great Liberal Hope? Pilger and Hamilton on Obama

Any of you Obama supporters care to deconstruct Pilger's argument on the matter of Senator Obama? I remain open-minded, and ever-eager to be "born again."

Doug Zachary / The Rag Blog / June 3, 2008

[David Hamilton and Scott Trimble of The Rag Blog respond at the end of the following article]
From Kennedy To Obama: Liberalism's Last Fling
By John Pilger

In this season of 1968 nostalgia, one anniversary illuminates today. It is the rise and fall of Robert Kennedy, who would have been elected president of the United States had he not been assassinated in June 1968. Having travelled with Kennedy up to the moment of his shooting at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on 5 June, I heard The Speech many times. He would "return government to the people" and bestow "dignity and justice" on the oppressed. "As Bernard Shaw once said," he would say, "'Most men look at things as they are and wonder why. I dream of things that never were and ask: Why not?'" That was the signal to run back to the bus. It was fun until a hail of bullets passed over our shoulders.

Kennedy's campaign is a model for Barack Obama. Like Obama, he was a senator with no achievements to his name. Like Obama, he raised the expectations of young people and minorities. Like Obama, he promised to end an unpopular war, not because he opposed the war's conquest of other people's land and resources, but because it was "unwinnable".

Should Obama beat John McCain to the White House in November, it will be liberalism's last fling. In the United States and Britain, liberalism as a war-making, divisive ideology is once again being used to destroy liberalism as a reality. A great many people understand this, as the hatred of Blair and new Labour attest, but many are disoriented and eager for "leadership" and basic social democracy. In the US, where unrelenting propaganda about American democratic uniqueness disguises a corporate system based on extremes of wealth and privilege, liberalism as expressed through the Democratic Party has played a crucial, compliant role.

In 1968, Robert Kennedy sought to rescue the party and his own ambitions from the threat of real change that came from an alliance of the civil rights campaign and the anti-war movement then commanding the streets of the main cities, and which Martin Luther King had drawn together until he was assassinated in April that year. Kennedy had supported the war in Vietnam and continued to support it in private, but this was skillfully suppressed as he competed against the maverick Eugene McCarthy, whose surprise win in the New Hampshire primary on an anti-war ticket had forced President Lyndon Johnson to abandon the idea of another term. Using the memory of his martyred brother, Kennedy assiduously exploited the electoral power of delusion among people hungry for politics that represented them, not the rich.

"These people love you," I said to him as we left Calexico, California, where the immigrant population lived in abject poverty and people came like a great wave and swept him out of his car, his hands fastened to their lips.

"Yes, yes, sure they love me," he replied. "I love them!" I asked him how exactly he would lift them out of poverty: just what was his political philosophy?

"Philosophy? Well, it's based on a faith in this country and I believe that many Americans have lost this faith and I want to give it back to them, because we are the last and the best hope of the world, as Thomas Jefferson said."

"That's what you say in your speech. Surely the question is: How?"

"How? . . . by charting a new direction for America."

The vacuities are familiar. Obama is his echo. Like Kennedy, Obama may well "chart a new direction for America" in specious, media-honed language, but in reality he will secure, like every president, the best damned democracy money can buy.

As their contest for the White House draws closer, watch how, regardless of the inevitable personal smears, Obama and McCain draw nearer to each other. They already concur on America's divine right to control all before it. "We lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good," said Obama. "We must lead by building a 21st-century military . . . to advance the security of all people [emphasis added]." McCain agrees. Obama says in pursuing "terrorists" he would attack Pakistan. McCain wouldn't quarrel. Both candidates have paid ritual obeisance to the regime in Tel Aviv, unquestioning support for which defines all presidential ambition. In opposing a UN Security Council resolution implying criticism of Israel's starvation of the people of Gaza, Obama was ahead of both McCain and Hillary Clinton. In January, pressured by the Israel lobby, he massaged a statement that "nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people" to now read: "Nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognise Israel [emphasis added]." Such is his concern for the victims of the longest, illegal military occupation of modern times. Like all the candidates, Obama has furthered Israeli/Bush fictions about Iran, whose regime, he says absurdly, "is a threat to all of us".

On the war in Iraq, Obama the dove and McCain the hawk are almost united. McCain now says he wants US troops to leave in five years (instead of "100 years", his earlier option). Obama has now "reserved the right" to change his pledge to get troops out next year. "I will listen to our commanders on the ground," he now says, echoing Bush. His adviser on Iraq, Colin Kahl, says the US should maintain up to 80,000 troops in Iraq until 2010. Like McCain, Obama has voted repeatedly in the Senate to support Bush's demands for funding of the occupation of Iraq; and he has called for more troops to be sent to Afghanistan. His senior advisers embrace McCain's proposal for an aggressive "league of democracies", led by the United States, to circumvent the United Nations.

Like McCain, he would extend the crippling embargo on Cuba.

Amusingly, both have denounced their "preachers" for speaking out. Whereas McCain's man of God praised Hitler, in the fashion of lunatic white holy-rollers, Obama's man, Jeremiah Wright, spoke an embarrassing truth. He said that the attacks of 11 September 2001 had taken place as a consequence of the violence of US power across the world. The media demanded that Obama disown Wright and swear an oath of loyalty to the Bush lie that "terrorists attacked America because they hate our freedoms". So he did. The conflict in the Middle East, said Obama, was rooted not "primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel", but in "the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam". Journalists applauded. Islamophobia is a liberal speciality.

The American media love both Obama and McCain. Reminiscent of mating calls by Guardian writers to Blair more than a decade ago, Jann Wenner, founder of the liberal Rolling Stone, wrote: "There is a sense of dignity, even majesty, about him, and underneath that ease lies a resolute discipline . . . Like Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama challenges America to rise up, to do what so many of us long to do: to summon 'the better angels of our nature'." At the liberal New Republic, Charles Lane confessed: "I know it shouldn't be happening, but it is. I'm falling for John McCain." His colleague Michael Lewis had gone further. His feelings for McCain, he wrote, were like "the war that must occur inside a 14-year-old boy who discovers he is more sexually attracted to boys than to girls".

The objects of these uncontrollable passions are as one in their support for America's true deity, its corporate oligarchs. Despite claiming that his campaign wealth comes from small individual donors, Obama is backed by the biggest Wall Street firms: Goldman Sachs, UBS AG, Lehman Brothers, J P Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, as well as the huge hedge fund Citadel Investment Group. "Seven of the Obama campaign's top 14 donors," wrote the investigator Pam Martens, "consisted of officers and employees of the same Wall Street firms charged time and again with looting the public and newly implicated in originating and/or bundling fraudulently made mortgages." A report by United for a Fair Economy, a non-profit group, estimates the total loss to poor Americans of colour who took out sub-prime loans as being between $164bn and $213bn: the greatest loss of wealth ever recorded for people of colour in the United States. "Washington lobbyists haven't funded my campaign," said Obama in January, "they won't run my White House and they will not drown out the voices of working Americans when I am president." According to files held by the Centre for Responsive Politics, the top five contributors to the Obama campaign are registered corporate lobbyists.

What is Obama's attraction to big business? Precisely the same as Robert Kennedy's. By offering a "new", young and apparently progressive face of the Democratic Party - with the bonus of being a member of the black elite - he can blunt and divert real opposition. That was Colin Powell's role as Bush's secretary of state. An Obama victory will bring intense pressure on the US anti-war and social justice movements to accept a Democratic administration for all its faults. If that happens, domestic resistance to rapacious America will fall silent.

America's war on Iran has already begun. In December, Bush secretly authorised support for two guerrilla armies inside Iran, one of which, the military arm of Mujahedin-e Khalq, is described by the state department as terrorist. The US is also engaged in attacks or subversion against Somalia, Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bolivia and Venezuela. A new military command, Africom, is being set up to fight proxy wars for control of Africa's oil and other riches. With US missiles soon to be stationed provocatively on Russia's borders, the Cold War is back. None of these piracies and dangers has raised a whisper in the presidential campaign, not least from its great liberal hope.

Moreover, none of the candidates represents so-called mainstream America. In poll after poll, voters make clear that they want the normal decencies of jobs, proper housing and health care. They want their troops out of Iraq and the Israelis to live in peace with their Palestinian neighbours. This is a remarkable testimony, given the daily brainwashing of ordinary Americans in almost everything they watch and read.

On this side of the Atlantic, a deeply cynical electorate watches British liberalism's equivalent last fling. Most of the "philosophy" of new Labour was borrowed wholesale from the US. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair were interchangeable. Both were hostile to traditionalists in their parties who might question the corporate-speak of their class-based economic policies and their relish for colonial conquests. Now the British find themselves spectators to the rise of new Tory, distinguishable from Blair's new Labour only in the personality of its leader, a former corporate public relations man who presents himself as Tonier than thou. We all deserve better.

Source. / ZNet / Tribe / May 31, 2008
"An Obama victory will bring intense pressure on the US anti-war and social justice movements to accept a Democratic administration for all its faults. If that happens, domestic resistance to rapacious America will fall silent." -- John Pilger

Why? I see no reason why supporting Obama for president will translate into lock-step support for his every move. If he doesn't pull the troops out of Iraq in 2009, I'll certainly be in the streets again. However, we will very likely be in the position of supporting some of his policies and criticizing others. That would be a truly new situation for us, but we are quite able to discriminate and be opposed to him when appropriate.

The analogy between Obama and Bobby Kennedy is very weak. Obama did not oppose the Iraq War several years after it started because it was "unwinnable" as did Bobby Kennedy relative to Vietnam. Obama also does not enter the race with a history of supporting American aggression (Cuba, Vietnam) as did Kennedy.

Tim Weiner writes in "Lagacy of Ashes" (p.180), "Robert F. Kennedy, 35 years old, famously ruthless, fascinated with secrecy, took command of the most sensitive covert (CIA operations. . . The (Kennedy brothers) unleashed covert action with an unprecedented intensity. Ike had undertaken 170 major CIA covert operations in eight years. The Kennedys launched 163 major covert operations in less than three." That doesn't sound much like Obama. Obama is also not from a ruling class family, nor did he have an older brother who was president. He also didn't beat a candidate clearly to his left to secure the nomination.

Of course, Obama will move to the center in the general election contest. That this will happen is like a law of physics in our two party system. Would Pilger have Obama win the White House by denouncing American crimes at every campaign appearance? He could adopt the slogan, "Purity or Bust!"

Pilger's logic leads to the conclusion that the Left is better off with a Bush -- or a McCain. I argued in October 2004 that Bush would be the candidate who would do the most damage to American imperialism and that was correct. But factors in that equation were the political cowardliness, corporate ties and ruling class background of John Kerry. As for Obama, I remain infected with the hope that he is more one of us than he is able to reveal. I have it on excellent authority that he really does know Bill Ayers and did listen to black liberation theology for 20 years.

A "rapacious America" might be conducive to the growth of the domestic antiwar and social justice movements, but not much good for anyone else in the world outside of corporate CEO's. I would also point out that the historical high points of the American Left were during the 1930's and 1960's when we had relatively reformist presidents.

As of today, we are down to two choices - Obama and McCain. Nader, McKinney, and Barr are possibilities, but only given the demonstrable inadequacy and duplicity of Obama. Those who oppose him must make the argument that the US is incapable of any substantial reform. But his just being the nominee, a non-white man with a Muslim name from a middle class background, is a very most powerful argument against that position.

This is the best chance I've ever seen to elect a progressive as the US president. I never thought I'd live to see it. It wouldn't be happening except for the reaction against George Bush. We can demand political perfection, lose and embrace self-righteousness or we can seize upon the best opportunity we'll likely ever see to achieve meaningful change at the presidential level.

David Hamilton / The Rag Blog
And another view:

While I have no intention of arguing with every detail of your reply, I must refute the claim that "He also didn't beat a candidate clearly to his left to secure the nomination." While Hillary Clinton is certainly not clearly to his left, this was not always a two-horse race, and at least four of the candidates who were mainstream enough to get into the early nomination debates were clearly to the left of Obama, one of whom (Edwards) was considered a viable contender during the early part of the race.

Having said that, you are certainly correct that to some degree, however miniscule, Obama does seem better than Clinton or McCain, and as a relative unknown, does allow us some room to hope that he is a true progressive cloaking himself in neoliberalism to prevent the pro-corporate elite from removing him from the race prematurely. Yet, we must also wonder if he is such, how will he uncloak himself without suffering the fate of JFK, RFK, MLK, Malcolm X, Paul Wellstone, JFK, Jr., Mel Carnahan, etc.?

And if he is indeed the neoliberal militarist he presently purports himself to be, do you really think that Americans in significant numbers will publicly and vehemently oppose him? Realize that he is likely to be a Democratic president with a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. In 93-94, that scenario brought us NAFTA. In 77-80, it brought us no progressive gains domestically (although Carter did broker a peace deal between Israel and Egypt), and led to a conservative backlash that gave us 12 years of Republicans in the White House. In 61-68, we almost started WW3 over Cuba, then got ourselves tangled up in Viet Nam.

Certainly, escaping the Orwellian Bush administration is important, but it will take a lot more than hope to make real progress.

Scott Trimble / The Rag Blog
David responds:

Grasp the historical moment. Tonight [May 3] is big. A major party in a predominantly white nation has just nominated a man of half African descent for the presidency. This in the nation that has the worst history of oppression of African Americans. Furthermore, this African American man is favored to win. And he will probably run with a woman as his VP, another historic first. This eloquent man will deliver his acceptance speech in Denver on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. This is historically huge and it will be the principal venue of action at least until November for most activists, like it or not.

That this historic event is taking place with a candidate with all the positive qualities of Barack Obama is more than we should have ever expected given the system's past performances. And that he arrives on the scene when the Republicans are at their weakest, with a weak candidate already named, is a perfect storm.

Regardless of the issues listed as the big ones in the general election campaign - the economy, the war, health care - the central issue of this campaign will be race. Is American racism so enfeebled in its old age that it can be defeated? Can Americans learn to vote their self-interests instead of their prejudices and fears?

Hopefully, even Texas will be in play in this election. Frank Rich in last Sunday's NY Times referred to a poll that showed Noriega only 4% behind Cornyn for the US Senate seat from Texas. Obama and Noriega campaigning together across Texas could be a powerful impetus for both of them. If our luck holds, we'll be able to stay home and be part of the action, even if Texas being in play would indicate a Democratic landslide.

Pilger is right in that we are already experiencing a paradigm change. Very likely, the next president will be the first in our lifetimes against whom our opposition is not an almost automatic reflex.

David Hamilton / The Rag Blog
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