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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Purple Obama

It was hard to know where the good news ended for Barack Obama after the Potomac primaries. There had been no question that Obama would dominate in DC and Maryland. But his overwhelming romp in Virginia--one of a handful of formerly "red" states that are tossups for 2008--made the best case yet that the Illinois senator just might live up to his promise of blasting the red-blue electoral map to smithereens come November.

Meanwhile, the surprising Republican results in Virginia, where Mike Huckabee gave John McCain a scare, bolstered Obama's argument just as effectively. It wasn't a shock that McCain fared poorly among right-wing Christians and the sort of NASCAR Republicans who have been guffawing happily over the revelation that the genial theocrat from Arkansas fried squirrel in a popcorn popper during his heck-raising college days. But the results underscored a point that defies conventional wisdom: McCain's shakiness among the very voters--suburban independents--who are supposed to be his ace in the hole. While Obama was winning over all kinds of Virginians he was not supposed to have a prayer with, McCain was losing some of those he absolutely has to have. And losing them in a state that he has to carry to have any chance of becoming President.

Like Missouri and Colorado, both of which Obama won on Super Tuesday, Virginia can make a valid case for being the Ohio of 2008--the next ideologically mixed, demographically topsy-turvy state where Republicans will have to fight mighty hard to defend their turf. With the influx of nonnative professional types and Latino immigrants into northern Virginia in recent decades, the Old Dominion has become a thoroughly middle-American state of the twenty-first century in terms of its politics--a lively mash-up of conservative Christians, blue-state liberals, rural populists and swelling ranks of independents (more than one-third of Virginians no longer register D or R). It's American politics in miniature. And that's what makes the results--on both sides--so revealing.

Obama won pretty much every constituency he's presumed to be weakest with: women (60 percent in rough exit polls), rural voters (narrowly), Latinos (54 percent) and folks with no college education (63 percent). He won handily among those who think Iraq matters most, who think healthcare matters most, who think the economy matters most. He took more than 60 percent of the vote among those making both less and more than $50,000. Obama narrowly carried the white vote in Virginia, building on his momentum among the notoriously stubborn Caucasian Democrats of Dixie, having won 25 percent of white votes in South Carolina (when the race was still three-way) and then bucked it up to 43 percent in Georgia on Super Tuesday. He also won the stubbornest demographic in Virginia: whites over 65. Only white women went for Hillary Clinton, and by nowhere near Obama's eighteen-point margin among white men.

As Democrats look forward to a matchup with McCain, one set of numbers sticks out from the rest: Obama got double Clinton's vote among white independents in Virginia, winning 66 percent. Meanwhile, in the single most stunning number of the night, McCain actually lost among independents who cast their ballots in the Republican primary. His margin of victory came not from independents but from Republicans--a terrible omen for his "electability." Huckabee also ran close to McCain in those bastions of independent (but also, of course, megachurch) voting, the suburbs, while Obama was pulling 60 percent of suburbanites on the other side. The other prime indicators of how independents might vote in November looked equally good for Obama and lousy for McCain: while Obama won big with under-45 voters, who are the most likely to register independent, McCain lost big among the youngest voters (under 30) while taking 53 percent of the 30-to-44 age group. To add just one more bit of sour news for McCain, fewer independents voted in the Republican primary in Virginia this year: 76 percent of the voters were card-carrying GOPers, as opposed to 63 percent in 2000.

On the night when McCain vanquished his last remaining (long-shot) competitor, Republican voters made one thing bleedingly evident: they'd like nothing more than a do-over of this whole nomination business. Preferably with an entirely different cast of candidates. Meanwhile, the optimistic but fretful Democrats soldier on toward March 4, when Obama gets his chance to deliver a knockout punch in Ohio and Texas. It's still presumptuous--as the change-monger himself likes to say--to count Clinton out. Obama will have to earn those victories, and earn them in the most valuable way--by selling himself to two vital groups of purple-state folks he hasn't convinced yet: white economic populists in Ohio (who tend to vote a whole lot like white Southerners) and Latinos all across the Lone Star State. But a distinct pattern has already emerged: Obama runs stronger where the party has a historic chance to win back the middle, states like Iowa, Missouri, Colorado--and now Virginia.

Purple America is ready, and eager, for Obama. His popularity with young voters, independents and suburbanites could very well translate into general-election victory. As for McCain--who is being hectored to pander even more to the GOP's right-wingnuts, which will only further alienate his former independent fans--his chances seem to boil down to one increasingly improbable headline: Hillary Clinton Wins Democratic Nomination.


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Constitutional scholar pans Clinton for fleeing from FISA fight

Constitutional lawyer Jonathan Turley criticized the Senate for bowing to President Bush's demands for more spying power and amnesty for potentially law-breaking telecommunications companies.

"The fix has been in for some time on the unlawful surveillance program and the torture program," he said Wednesday on Countdown with Keith Olbermann. "Many Democrats and Republicans were aware of the program and they are actively helping the White House to try to shut down any confrontation on the issue. This is also helped by the fact the telecoms are one of the five most powerful lobbying forces in Washington, and many of these members have close ties to those lobbyists."

Turley panned presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who skipped the politically tricky and controversial Senate vote on the spy law Tuesday even though she had been campaigning in Washington that day.

"It really, I think is symbolic of this disconnect ... here you've got someone who is campaigning for the President of the United States, making pitches to civil libertarians, but doesn't even show up -- when she's in the neighborhood -- to vote against telecom immunity," Turley charged. "I'm not just dumping on her. The fact is there has been a lot of really duplicitous work being done by both parties."

Republican John McCain and Barack Obama both voted on amendments to the measure; Obama opposed telecom immunity, while McCain supported it. Clinton left town early to get to a campaign stop in Texas.

Although he voted to sustain a filibuster on the FISA update, Obama left Washington for a campaign stop in Wisconisn without voting on the final bill.

It is up to the House to decide whether to let telecoms off the hook in about 40 civil lawsuits alleging their participation in President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program. A temporary extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance act expires at midnight Saturday, and the House on Wednesday failed to extend that deadline.

The ACLU is urging the House to let the temporary FISA extension, the Protect America Act, expire rather than let itself be bullied into caving again to Bush.

Olbermann and Turley had some especially harsh words for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"Harry Reid made some decisions that made it virtually impossible for civil libertarians to win," Turley said.

This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast February 13, 2008.




Transcript via closed captions

:: when the original secretary of homeland security said he dint know why they told him to raise the terror level, we must acknowledge we live not in an age of terror, but when it's exploited by politicians sworn to protect us from terror. we have not had exploitation of terrorists since this morning. the senate legalized ease dropping and to cover it up by not saying how it happened. unlike the senate, democratic leaders in the house passed a version of the wiretapping law fisa, last year. this morning, mr. bush said if the house does not yield and give them immunity, we will all die. i'm para phrasing, but not by as much as you might think.

:: good morning, at this moment, somewhere in the world, terrorists are planning attacks on our country. their goal is to bring deskrux to our shore that is make september 11th pale by compareson. there's no reason, we cannot pass the senate bill immediately. to not pass it will jeopardize the security of our citizens.

:: this afternoon, the house leadership failed to pass the fisa act. republicans want it to expire. they also think the presidents statement was an exploitation of terrorist attacks.

:: put the senate vote in perspective for us in terms of protecting the constitution for covering up white house crimes.

:: the bill is trying to preserve. it was designed to circumvent the fourth amendment. it has no public interest value. it's there to extinguish dozens of suits before federal court. it's in contempt before they can say what the president did is illegal. the senate is working with the white house to cover up a crime and you have this bizarre situation with the executive and legislative branch to shut down and keep judges from declaring an unlawful program.

:: so, if every plausible argument got a proposed amendment yesterday, the fisa court would vet the lawsuits. these are all rejected by the republicans. is it purely to stop the lawsuits and stop information from getting out? there's been some estimation that this is spinning forward to protect whatever the white house has next?

:: it's not just republicans. in case you noticed, there's more than 31 democrats in the senate. only 31 people voted against the immunity program. the fix has been in a long time. many democrats and republicans were aware of the program and they are actively helping the white house sto shut down a confrontation on the issue. it's helped by the fact the telecoms are one of the largest forces in washington. many of them have ties to the lobbyist.

:: if it passes, it may be unstoppable at this point, could the next congress revoke it and number two, could a democratic president have his or her attorney general investigate the bush officials who ordered the wiretapping in the first place?

:: it's going to be hard to get it to walk back wards. the question about the next president is a good one. hillary clinton didn't show up to vote. she was in the area campaigning. her opponents mccain and obama showed up. here you have someone campaigning for the president of the united states, but doesn't show up when she's in the neighborhood to vote against telecom immunity. i'm not just dumping on her. there's been a lot of work being done by both parties to shield what has been a very fixed deal from the beginning on telecoms.

:: let's point the finger at one of the parties. senator dodd has a filibuster. harry reed let a democratic fail even though it has 57 votes. a virtual filibuster without making them a filibuster. where's the democratic party on this.

:: you're right. this is a case where the democrats couldn't make a claim they couldn't block the vote. they could have done it easily. the republicans do it all the time. harry reed made decisions that made it virtually impossible for them to win. he favors the intel committee. they concealed the program and he let them take the lead. it made it difficult for them to prevail.

:: jonathan, great thanks.

:: thanks, keith.


Original here

Obama Likely to Get SEIU Endorsement

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Union officials tell The Associated Press Sen. Barack Obama is likely to be endorsed by the Service Employees International Union on Friday.

The SEIU endorsement is one of the most coveted in organized labor, and it would give Obama a boost against Hillary Rodham Clinton in the March 4 primaries in Ohio and Texas.

The 1.8 million-member union would only say that President Andy Stern and Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger will make a major political announcement on Friday.

The organization has donated more than $25 million, mostly to Democratic candidates, since 1989. The union also has a powerful get-out-the-vote structure and has been courted by all the Democratic candidates since the beginning of the race.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.

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Obama Release on Superdelegate

Former Clinton Superdelegate Switches to Support Barack Obama for President

WEST ORANGE, NJ –Christine “Roz” Samuels, a superdelegate from Montclair, New Jersey, who was supporting Hillary Clinton announced she was now supporting Senator Barack Obama for President today, citing his ability to unite the country:

“I now support Barack Obama because he has brought about a new wave of hope and energy to this country, especially among our young people, who represent our future. People want to see change. Barack can help unite this country and help us embrace our diverse nation.

“I am also proud to support Senator Obama because he spoke clearly and forcefully against the war in Iraq from the start. I know he has the leadership to make sure we bring our young men and women home as quickly and carefully as possible, and ensure all Americans have access to affordable health care.”

Samuels served as Secretary-Treasurer of the Newark Teachers’ Union, Local 481 from 1995 until 2007. Samuels is a former Commissioner of the Essex County Board of Elections, a member of the Montclair Democratic Committee, and active in the Montclair and state-wide NAACP.

Original here

Everything You've Ever Wanted To Know About Delegates And Superdelegates

Max Follmer

BIO

Max Follmer

The Huffington Post


Here's everything you always wanted to ask but never dared to about the Democratic delegates and superdelegates.

Who are the Democratic delegates and are they the same as superdelegates?

Yes and no to that last question. All superdelegates are delegates but not vice versa. Among the regular delegates, there are two sub-categories: pledged and non-pledged. All three types of delegates will attend the Democratic National Convention in Denver this summer. A majority of their votes will be required to name the Democratic nominee for President.

How many delegates are there in total?

The convention will host delegations from each of the 50 states, several US territories, and a contingent of "Democrats Abroad." Because some delegates, those from American Samoa, Democrats Abroad, Guam, and the Virgin Islands cast only fractional votes, there will be 4,070 delegates casting a total of 4,047 vote.

How does a candidate win these delegates?

The short answer is by winning primaries and caucuses as each state has a certain amount of delegates apportioned to it.

The longer answer is more complex and often confusing. Not all states apportion the delegates in exactly the same way. And, sorry, but there are different sub-categories among these delegates: pledged and unpledged.

OK, we'll bite. What's the difference?

Pledged delegates are awarded proportionally to candidates based on the results of the primary or caucus results in each state and primary and will support a particular candidate at the national convention.

Pledged delegates are selected both at the Congressional District, and statewide levels.

So even though Candidate X might win a particular state, Candidate Y can still pick up a number of delegates based on their performance in individual congressional districts. Because different districts are weighted differently than others, a candidate can even lose a state by popular vote but still win a majority of delegates. This is the case in Nevada, for example, where Hillary Clinton won by a 10 point margin, but where Barack Obama picked up 13 over her 12 delegates.

We're afraid to ask, but are there different types of pledged delegates?

Yes. There are three types of pledged delegates:

Congressional District Level delegates are chosen at the local level, based on the voting results in that particular district.

At-large delegates are elected at the state level to reflect the proportion of the statewide vote a presidential candidate received.

There are also a number of statewide spots reserved for state elected officials (such as mayors and state legislators) who pledge their support to an individual candidate. They are also elected in proportion to the statewide vote.

Do pledged delegates have to vote a certain way? Can they change their minds?

According to the DNC, "this is one of the biggest myths of the delegate selection process. Delegates are NOT bound to vote for the candidate they are pledged to at the Convention or on the first ballot." Delegates sign a pledge of support, but there is no rule requiring them to honor that pledge.

OK, Ok, however arcane the system might be, in the end, whichever Democratic candidate wins the most of these delegates from the primary and caucus process will win the nomination, right?

Not necessarily. The magic number to clinch the nomination at the convention will be 2,025. But most mathematical projections now agree that it is virtually impossible for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama to finish with this many delegates. One or the other candidate might, indeed, finish with a plurality but not an outright majority.

How is that possible? If there's only two candidates how can one of them not have a majority when it's all over?

Thanks for asking about the superdelegates! About one out five of the Democratic delegates - 794 to be exact--are these so-called superdelegates and their votes will make the difference in reaching a majority. They vote at the convention at the same time the other delegates do, but they got there a different way. The superdelegates are seated automatically, based solely on their status as current or former elected officeholders and party officials

The 794 superdelegates consist of :

• All members of the Democratic National Committee (elections to the
DNC are held in each state and territory).
• All Democratic members of the House of Representatives
• All Democratic members of the United States Senate
• All Democratic governors
• All former Democratic presidents
• All former Democratic leaders of the United States Senate
• All former Democratic Speakers of the House
• All former Democratic House Minority Leaders
• All former Chairs of the Democratic National Committee

Do superdelegates have to vote a certain way? Can they change their minds?

Superdelegates do not have to pledge to vote a particular way at the convention (although many announce their support for a candidate in advance). Regardless of any stated endorsement, superdelegates can vote however they choose and are free to change their minds.

Who created these superdelegates, anyway? Isn't the whole thing undemocratic?

After the disastrous, 1968 Democratic convention, the so-called McGovern-Fraser Commission instituted a series of reforms to make the nomination process more transparent and democrats, less beholden to party leaders. But the Democratic establishment thought things went too far and in 1980 created the superdelegates system precisely to give the party machine a way to put the brakes on too much bottom-up initiative if necessary. The whole idea was to return a portion of power to the unelected party managers and incumbent office holders.

Have superdelegates ever decided a Democratic nomination?

Yes, in 1984. Walter Mondale was slightly ahead of Gary Hart at the time of the Democratic convention and superdelegate support put Mondale over the finish line. The Democrats lost that election. In 2004, the opposite occurred. Howard Dean won the most number of superdelegate pledges but John Kerry won an outright majority of delegates through the primary and caucus elections. Kerry also lost the general election.

Hey, what about those delegates from Michigan and Florida? We've heard their votes aren't going to count. Why not?

Both states were punished by the DNC when they advanced their primary calendars too far ahead of the schedule decided on by the national party and were told that their candidates would not be seated at the convention.

Now the DNC says the state parties in Florida and Michigan have two options if they want their delegates to be seated:

1) Appeal to the Convention Credentials Committee. The Convention Credentials Committee determines and resolves any outstanding questions concerning the seating of delegates and alternates to the Convention. The Credentials Committee is expected to meet sometime in July or August prior to the Convention, when it could take up the matters of Florida and/or Michigan.

Members of the credentials committee are selected by the delegates from each state.

2) Michigan and Florida could still choose to run a new party process (some sort of election or caucus), as Delaware did in 1996, to select delegates to the convention. This process must be held between now and the second Tuesday in June, in accordance with DNC rules.

Original here

Fox News Radio's Tom Sullivan aired "side-by-side comparison" of speeches by Hitler and Obama

Summary: Fox News Radio host Tom Sullivan took a call from a listener who stated that when listening to Barack Obama speak, "it harkens back to when I was younger and I used to watch those deals with Hitler, how he would excite the crowd and they'd come to their feet and scream and yell." Sullivan then played a "side-by-side comparison" of a Hitler speech and an Obama speech. Sullivan mimicked the crowd during both speeches, yelling, "Yay! Yay!" When a later caller complained that Sullivan was "denigrating" Obama with the comparison, Sullivan said he wouldn't play it again, then begged: "Can I, please, one more time? Just one more time? Then I won't do it again. ... Until the next time."

On the February 11 broadcast of Fox News Radio's Tom Sullivan Show, host Tom Sullivan took a call from a listener who stated: "Listening to [Sen. Barack] Obama ... it harkens back to when I was younger and I used to watch those deals with [Nazi dictator Adolf] Hitler, how he would excite the crowd and they'd come to their feet and scream and yell." Sullivan replied: "Oh, yeah, yeah ... I presume you're not saying he's Hitler, but I understand your point." Following the commercial break, Sullivan stated the caller "wasn't calling Barack Obama Hitler. He was just talking about how Hitler got the crowd all excited, and Barack Obama got the crowd all excited." Sullivan then stated that he would do a "side-by-side comparison" of a Hitler speech and an Obama speech. Sullivan then introduced the "comparison" by stating: "So, ladies and gentlemen, from the past, a little archive, a little walk down Der Fuehrer's memory lane. Here he is, the one, the only, Adolf Hitler!" Sullivan proceeded to play a clip of a Hitler speech, followed by Obama's February 9 speech at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Richmond, Virginia. Sullivan mimicked the crowd during both speeches, yelling, "Yay! Yay!"

Following Sullivan's "comparison," a listener called in to say: "I resent the fact that you would compare -- I am a black man -- you would compare Barack Obama to Hitler, because we need leaders that can inspire us, to hope for the future. We need people like him." Sullivan replied: "I love his speech." The caller then asked: "Then why would you bring Hitler in on it?" Sullivan responded: "I didn't. The caller brought Hitler in on it. The caller said he sounds like Hitler." The upset caller responded: "Well, why would you even pick it up? It's denigrating his character." Sullivan replied: "No, it's not." Sullivan later stated: "Well, I understand that Hitler is hated by, and should be, by most everybody in civilized society. ... But the point being, you must remember something. Adolf Hitler was able to gather a country of people and get them excited about whatever it was that he was talking to them about. He was a very fiery, enigmatic -- I'm not sure -- I mean, he was -- I mean, he really got the people all thrilled, and I'm sitting there going,' I hadn't thought about him being associated in any way with Clint' -- and I asked the guy, I said, 'Are you saying that Obama is like Hitler?' And he said, 'No, it's the speaking style, that's all.' And the speaking style is actually kind of similar." Before Sullivan ended the segment, he stated: "All right, we won't play Hitler any more, then." But Sullivan then pleaded: "One time -- oh, come on, one more time? Can I, please, one more time? Just one more time? Then I won't do it again." He then added: "Until the next time."

According to his bio on FoxNews.com, Sullivan has "been a regular fill-in for the most listened to talk show in the world, The Rush Limbaugh Program, for a number of years" and "now anchors the 10AM-Noon (Eastern Time) show on the FOX Business Network."

Media Matters for America has previously documented numerous other examples of conservative media figures comparing progressives to Nazis. For example, on December 13, 2007, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly responded to guest Jane Hall's assertion that actor Tim Robbins, who was campaigning for John Edwards, made "valid" criticisms of the media by stating: "But [Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim] Von Ribbentrop in the Nazi hierarchy made valid points, Jane." O'Reilly has also claimed there is "no difference between" the Nazis and progressive blog Daily Kos. On January 11, nationally syndicated radio host Michael Savage declared that Media Matters is "run by a bunch of fascist homosexuals. They're the brownshirts of our time." In April 2007, Savage also called a speech by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton "Hitler dialogue."

From the second hour of the February 11 broadcast of Fox News Radio's Tom Sullivan Show:

CALLER: Listening to Obama, and what I've seen on TV. I'm 65 years old, and it harkens back when I was younger and I used to watch those deals with Hitler, how he would excite the crowd and they'd come to their feet and scream and yell.

SULLIVAN: Oh yeah, yeah.

CALLER: And I don't think -- I can't think of any other politician that has excited them as much as he has.

SULLIVAN: He -- I presume you're not saying he's a Hitler, but I understand your point.

CALLER: Right. He's exciting the people, he's igniting them, and are they even thinking about what he's saying?

SULLIVAN: No. Because I'll tell you, if you listen to him, he sounds -- how can you argue with a guy who says he's for hope, he's for a great America, he's for a great country, we're great people. We can do anything we want, you can be anything you want.

CALLER: Yep, and he ain't telling them to get off their seats and go do it themselves.

SULLIVAN: I know -- well, we -- don't now -- don't ruin a good story with trying to get the details. No, I understand your point, [caller]. You're absolutely right. The details will have to come out. We'll be right back.

[...]

SULLIVAN: For those of you who heard the call from the guy in Texas who said that Barack Obama reminds him of Hitler, well, I take up the challenge. You decide for yourself. Here is -- oh-oh, one minute, OK, we got -- we need -- I thought you were signaling that you were ready. We're putting -- we're finding -- we have had to go to our global resources now, to find out of our German file a speech or two from Der Fuehrer and find out -- I have no idea what he was saying in this speech, but we'll see. I wonder what -- if it sounds at all like -- I mean, he wasn't calling Barack Obama Hitler. He was just talking about how Hitler got the crowd all excited, and Barack Obama got the crowd all excited. Let's take a phone call and we'll come back and we'll see if we can do a little side-by-side comparison.

[...]

SULLIVAN: But they certainly knew the Republicans were spending more than they possibly should have. Let's take a short break and come back. No, no, can we get this in now? OK. Before the break, a caller just before the bottom of the hour said that Barack Obama's speech reminds him of hearing the speeches of Adolf Hitler. So, ladies and gentlemen, from the past, a little archive, a little walk down Der Fuehrer's memory lane. Here he is, the one, the only, Adolf Hitler.

[audio clip of Hitler speech]

SULLIVAN: Yay! Yay! All right, great. I don't know what he said. Here's Barack Obama.

[audio clip of Obama speech]

SULLIVAN: Yay!

[audio clip of Hitler speech]

SULLIVAN: Yay!

[...]

SULLIVAN: Now we're getting -- now we're getting requests -- we're kind of like the Top 40 music station. We're getting requests for different speeches that were being played. Yes, just name your speech, and we will see if we can play it for you, the Top 40 speech.

[...]

SULLIVAN: Back to the phones we go. [Caller] in Columbus, Ohio. Hi, [caller]. How have you been?

CALLER: I am here. Thank you for the opportunity to be on the show.

SULLIVAN: You bet.

CALLER: I resent the fact that you would compare -- I am a black man --

SULLIVAN: Yes, sir.

CALLER: -- you would compare Barack Obama to Hitler, because we need leaders that can inspire us, to hope for the future. We need people like him.

SULLIVAN: I love the -- I love his speech. I told you I sat there and I went -- I'm going -- I'm listening to his speech --

CALLER: Why would you bring Hitler in on it?

SULLIVAN: I didn't. The caller brought Hitler in on it. The caller said he sounds like Hitler.

CALLER: Well, why would you even pick it up? It's denigrating his character.

SULLIVAN: No, it's not.

CALLER: Well, Hitler has nothing to do with what is right and honorable and what the country should be looking forward to. And I believe this, I believe that the intellect of Barack Obama is strong enough to bring in a cabinet and to surround himself with men who can -- can run -- help him run this country. No president has everything, all the knowledge needed, but his intellect to be able to bring men into his cabinet who can steer this country, is what it's all about, and I think he's got the intelligence to do it.

SULLIVAN: Who are you for?

CALLER: I -- actually, I happen to be a Republican because of my morals. But I believe that Barack Obama -- I don't like McCain, I really don't.

SULLIVAN: Yeah, you don't -- yeah.

CALLER: I don't like McCain, I really don't. But Barack Obama, I would vote for him because I believe that he has some level facts about his thinking, but I'm thinking that he would be a good president to inspire us for the future and equality for everybody.

SULLIVAN: Are you sure you're not a seminar caller? We had one a few minutes ago.

CALLER: No, I have not ever been on your show before.

SULLIVAN: We had -- no, we had a different caller, but I'm just going, are you guys all coming from the Barack Obama seminar on how to call talk shows and talk good about him?

CALLER: I am a truck driver running the road right now through Harrisburg, and I got a Sirius Radio that I was listening to. But I just said that I had to call because I resent the fact that you're picking up on that thing with Hitler.

SULLIVAN: Well, I understand that Hitler is hated by, and should be, by most everybody in civilized society.

CALLER: Yes, even you. Even you.

SULLIVAN: But the point being, you must remember something. Adolf Hitler was able to gather a country of people and get them excited about whatever it was that he was talking to them about. He was a very fiery, enigmatic -- I'm not sure -- I mean, he was -- I mean, he really got the people all thrilled, and I'm sitting there going, "I hadn't thought about him being associated in any way with Clint" -- and I asked the guy, I said, "Are you saying that Obama is like Hitler?" And he said, "No, it's the speaking style, that's all." And the speaking style is actually kind of similar.

CALLER: But part of being a good leader and a motivating leader is to be able to inspire people. That's part of being a good leader.

SULLIVAN: Yeah, Oh, yeah.

CALLER: -- denigrating because you have --

SULLIVAN: I think -- don't you think I've made a very good point of the difference between his leadership speaking style and Ms. Clinton's speaking style?

CALLER: Yeah, I think you do. If you had left Hitler out of it, you'd have had a perfect show.

SULLIVAN: All right, we won't play Hitler any more, then.

CALLER: Oh, I --

SULLIVAN: One time -- oh, come on, one more time? Can I, please, one more time? Just one more time? Then I won't do it again.

CALLER: Well, sure, but I think --

SULLIVAN: Until the next time.

CALLER: -- some in the audience that don't appreciate that --

SULLIVAN: All right, all right. I'll take your cautionary words in stride. I appreciate it, thanks, [caller]. Short break. We'll be right back.

—L.K.A.


Romney to endorse McCain

Mitt Romney plans to endorse John McCain Thursday. (Photo Credit: AP)

(CNN) — Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is expected to endorse U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who was Romney's rival in the Republican race for the White House, two sources familiar with the decision told CNN Thursday.

They said Romney wants the 286 delegates he won to go to McCain, who now has 827 delegates, and is the Republican front-runner.

To clinch the Republican nomination 1,191 are needed.

An announcement is expected at 3:30 p.m. ET in Boston.

Romney dropped out of the race Feb. 7, after a poor showing on Super Tuesday. He said he pulled the plug on his Republican presidential campaign "for our party and for our country."

Continuing his campaign would have delayed the Republicans from shifting attention to the general election campaign against whichever Democrat wins the nomination of their party, he said at the time.

Programming note: Watch Larry King’s exclusive interview with GOP front-runner John McCain tonight on Larry King Live at 9 P.M. Eastern.

– CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this report

Filed under: John McCainMitt Romney

Original here

Jewish Rep. Cohen Battles Antisemitism and Racism In Re-Election

If you thought race was an uncomfortable issue in the Democratic presidential primary, wait 'til you get a load of what's going on in the Democratic primary in the Memphis area's 9th District of Tennessee, where a shockingly worded flier paints Jewish Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) as a Jesus hater.

"Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen and the JEWS HATE Jesus," blares the flier, which Cohen himself received in the mail -- inducing gasps -- last week.

Circulated by an African-American minister from Murfreesboro Tenn., which isn't even in Cohen's district, the literature encourages other black leaders in Memphis to "see to it that one and ONLY one black Christian faces this opponent of Christ and Christianity in the 2008 election."

Cohen's main opponent in the August 5 Democratic primary in his predominantly African-American district is Nikki Tinker, who is black. The Commercial Appeal wrote an editorial in Wednesday's paper condemning Tinker for not speaking out against the anti-Semitic literature.

"What does Nikki Tinker think about anti-Semitic literature being circulated that might help her unseat 9th District Congressman Steve Cohen in the Democratic primary next August?" the editorial asked. "The question goes to the character of the woman who wants to represent the 9th District, and 9th District voters deserve an answer. But Tinker declined to return a phone call about the flier."

The editorial also noted that last summer Cohen came under attack from black ministers who challenged the congressman's support for federal hate crimes legislation to protect gay rights. The paper wrote that the "real motive" behind the ministers' attacks was revealed later by Rev. Robert Poindexter who, according to the Commercial Appeal, said of Cohen: "He's not black and he can't represent me, that's just the bottom line."

Cohen tells the Sleuth it was "shocking" to receive the flier, "particularly coming from an African-American the week after Dr. King's birthday. This was just such an ignorant and racist and prejudiced type of flier -- it's hard to fathom we're in the 21st century," Cohen says.

The first-term congressman hopes Barack Obama's success will trickle down. "Obama is showing us that Americans have gotten beyond race. He's gotten a good number of Caucasian votes, so I think we're making advances," says Cohen, who endorsed Obama.

While he says he has plenty of support from the "old guard" African-American leaders in his district, Cohen is having difficultly wooing influential black colleagues from Congress to campaign on his behalf. He'll surely be looking for support from Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who is scheduled to be honored as this year's April 4th Foundation awards banquet in Memphis along with actor/singer Harry Belafonte - whose sister, Shirley Cooks, coincidentally, serves as Cohen's chief of staff.

Cohen battled racial and religious innuendo in his 2006 campaign for Congress, but not anything as blunt as the flier he received last week. After winning, he tried unsuccessfully to become the first white member of the Congressional Black Caucus, leaving him decidedly white.

"It's a chink in my armor," Cohen says. "I'm always going to be white. I don't have to always be Jewish -- but I am, and will be."

Original here

Obama Camp: Now "Next To Impossible" For Clinton To Win Most Delegates

Sen. Barack Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe argued on Wednesday that it is now "next to impossible" for his candidate to lose the pledged delegate lead he has amassed in the Democratic primary.

"We have created such a buffer in terms of the pledge delegate lead that we think it is highly unlikely that it will be eroded," he said.

Speaking on a conference call to reporters, Plouffe put Obama's delegate lead over Clinton at 136, following wins in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. that netted the Senator 25, 16, and 9 pledge delegates respectively.

The gap between the two candidates, he added, was now great enough that Clinton would have "to win most of the remaining contests in blowout form," if she wanted to catch up.

"It is next to impossible for Senator Clinton to close that pledge delegate count," he said. "The only way she can do it is win contests [later, he specifically mentioned Texas and Ohio] by 25 to 30 points. And we don't see contests were she can do that."

Later in the day, the Clinton campaign, on a conference call of its own, challenged the notion that Obama's pledge delegate lead was insurmountable.
"We think that at the end of the day on March 4 we will be within 25 delegates," said Clinton aide Guy Cecil, before adding that the margin would be less than 1 percent of total delegates committed.

Of course, super-delegates could also help Clinton close the margin, and Plouffe addressed that issue too, arguing that, come time to vote, those Democratic insiders should take their cues from the pledge delegates.

"At the end of the day we think the pledge delegate situation is going to drive events here," he said, and I think that's where the focus is going to be in regards to super delegates."

Original here

Obama’s Lead in Delegates Shifts Focus of Campaign

WASHINGTON — Senator Barack Obama emerged from Tuesday’s primaries leading Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton by more than 100 delegates, a small but significant advantage that Democrats said would be difficult for Mrs. Clinton to make up in the remaining contests in the presidential nomination battle.

Neither candidate is expected to win the 2,025 pledged delegates needed to claim the nomination by the time the voting ends in June. But Mr. Obama’s campaign began making a case in earnest on Wednesday that if he maintained his edge in delegates won in primaries and caucuses, he would have the strongest claim to the backing of the 796 elected Democrats and party leaders known as superdelegates who are free to vote as they choose and who now stand to determine the outcome.

Mrs. Clinton’s aides said she could still pull out a victory with victories in the biggest primaries still to come, including Ohio and Texas next month. But Mr. Obama’s clear lead in delegates allocated by the votes in nominating contests is one of a number of challenges facing her after a string of defeats in which Mr. Obama not only ran up big popular vote margins but also made inroads among the types of voters she had most been counting on, including women and lower-income people.

Should the cracks in her support among those groups show up in Ohio and Texas as well, it could undermine her hopes that those states will halt Mr. Obama’s momentum and allow her to claim dominance in many of the biggest primary battlegrounds.

With every delegate precious, Mrs. Clinton’s advisers also made it clear that they were prepared to take a number of potentially incendiary steps to build up Mrs. Clinton’s count. Top among these, her aides said, is pressing for Democrats to seat the disputed delegations from Florida and Michigan, who held their primaries in January in defiance of Democratic Party rules.

Mrs. Clinton won more votes than Mr. Obama in both states, though both candidates technically abided by pledges not to campaign actively there.

Mr. Obama’s aides reiterated their opposition to allowing Mrs. Clinton to claim a proportional share of the delegates from the voting in those states. The prospect of a fight over seating the Florida and Michigan delegations has already exposed deep divisions within the party.

Julian Bond, the head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, called for the delegates to be seated, saying failure to do so would amount to disenfranchising minority voters in those states. But on Wednesday, such a move was denounced by the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York, who said many people in those states did not go the polls because they assumed their votes would not count.

Mrs. Clinton’s advisers acknowledged that it would be difficult for her to catch up in the race for pledged delegates even if she succeeded in winning Ohio and Texas in three weeks and Pennsylvania in April. They said the Democratic Party’s rules, which award delegates relatively evenly among the candidates based on the proportion of the vote they receive, would require her to win by huge margins in those states to match Mr. Obama in delegates won through voting.

The delegate math set up a new front in the battle for the party’s presidential nomination, one based on competing views of how the party leaders and elected officials whose vote will determine the outcome should make their decisions.

Mrs. Clinton’s aides said the delegates should make their decision based on who they thought would be the stronger candidate and president. Mr. Obama argues that they should follow the will of the Democratic Party as expressed in the primary and caucuses — meaning the candidate with the most delegates from the voting.

Mr. Obama’s aides said they hoped to end the voting season with a delegate lead of more than 100, which they would seek to portray as a decisive affirmation by Democratic primary voters of Mr. Obama’s candidacy. Mrs. Clinton’s advisers said they were looking to bring the margin down significantly below 100 in hope of arguing that the result was too close for delegates to consider in deciding how to vote.

Much for Mrs. Clinton depends on shoring up her support in the portions of the electorate — including women, low- and middle-income voters and Hispanics — that have provided her with victories in key states.

“Hillary does better with blue-collar voters, working-class voters, union members,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, the Ohio Democrat who has not endorsed anyone in the race. “Barack does better among African-Americans and younger voters and upper-income voters. If that holds, Ohio tilts toward Hillary.”

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign showed signs of being buffeted by conflicting forces as it sought to grapple with a dwindling number of options. Mrs. Clinton’s advisers, after some discussion about whether to focus exclusively on Ohio and Texas for the next three weeks, finally decided to send her for three days this week to Wisconsin, which votes next Tuesday.

Mrs. Clinton’s advisers said that they did not think she could win there but that they had concluded at this point they could not afford to leave any delegates on the table or allow Mr. Obama to run up another big margin of victory in the popular vote.

Mrs. Clinton’s aides said they would also argue to superdelegates that they should give less deference to a lead from Mr. Obama because much of that had been built up in states where there were caucuses, which tend to attract far fewer voters than primaries, where Mrs. Clinton has tended to do better than she has done in caucuses.

“I think for superdelegates, the quality of where the win comes from should matter in terms of making a judgment about who might be the best general election candidate,” said Mark Penn, Mrs. Clinton’s senior campaign adviser.

The final Democratic primary contests are in early June; Montana and South Dakota vote June 3, and Puerto Rico four days later. It would then be almost three months until the Democratic convention, a period in which, if enough superdelegates have not expressed a firm preference to decide the outcome, the party could face a period of intense horse trading or worse.

Meanwhile, the likely Republican nominee, Senator John McCain of Arizona, would have a long period to rally his fractious party to his side and hone his attacks on the Democrats.

A delegate count by The New York Times, including projections from caucuses where delegates have not yet been chosen, showed Mr. Obama with a 113-delegate lead over Mrs. Clinton: 1,095 to 982.

Delegate counts by other news organizations and by the campaigns showed somewhat different results, reflecting the difficulty of trying to make exact delegate counts at this point in the process. The figures do not include superdelegates.

Mr. Obama’s campaign said that he had a lead of 1,139 to 1,003; by the count of the Clinton campaign organization, Mr. Obama was doing even better: 1,141 to 1,004 for Mrs. Clinton.

There are 1,082 delegates left to be selected.

By any measure, Mr. Obama is in a much stronger position on Wednesday than he was just a few days ago and in a significantly stronger position than Mrs. Clinton thought he would be at this point. That is because Mr. Obama not only won a series of states, but also won them by large margins — over 20 percentage points — so that he began picking up extra delegates and opening a lead on Mrs. Clinton.

And that is the problem for Mrs. Clinton going forward. If these were winner-take-all states, Mrs. Clinton could pick up 389 delegates in Texas and Ohio on March 4. Now she would have to beat Mr. Obama by more than 20 percentage points in order to pick up a majority of delegates in both states.

“We don’t think our lead will drop below 100 delegates,” David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, said in an interview. “The math is the math.”

Mr. Plouffe said by his count, Mr. Obama had won 14 states by a margin of over 20 percentage points or more; Mrs. Clinton has won two states by that margin.

Mr. Penn said the Clinton campaign believed that it could mitigate the losses she suffered by winning in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. In addition to whatever demographic advantage she might have in Ohio, Mrs. Clinton enjoys the support of the governor, Ted Strickland.

“They are working very hard on her behalf,” said Chris Redfern, the party chairman, who is neutral in the race. “It’s not one of those ‘we show up the last week and do a press conference’ things.”

In Texas, Mr. Penn said Mrs. Clinton would be helped by the Latino vote — which he said could ultimately be as much as 40 percent of the electorate.

But Mrs. Clinton faces another problem there in the form of that state’s unusual delegation allocation rules. Delegates are allocated to state senatorial districts based on Democratic voter turn-out in the last election. Bruce Buchanan, a professor of political science at the University of Texas at Austin, noted that in the last election, turnout was low in predominantly Hispanic districts and unusually high in urban African-American districts.

That means more delegates will be available in districts that, based on the results so far, could be expected to go heavily for Mr. Obama. Mrs. Clinton, Dr. Buchanan said, “has got her work cut out for her.”

Original here

Behind Obama's Wave of Victories: The More They Know Him.....

In a race where Clinton seemed to have every advantage, why has Barack Obama now won eight primaries and caucuses in a row? If you look at the rhythm of the campaign, this is the first point where most of America's voters have a chance to consider him as a candidate with a serious chance of victory, and to genuinely engage his message. Democrats passionately want a candidate they can believe in, but also one who can win--and reverse the Republican disasters. As the presumed nominee, Clinton did everything she could to play on this, proclaiming herself as tough, experienced, and capable of taking everything the Republicans could throw at her. She lined up massive insider support, including commitments from 154 superdelegates (versus 50 for Obama) before a single vote was cast.

But as Obama began winning, voters who'd been paying only peripheral attention have started taking him seriously. The more familiar they've become with him, the more they've liked his message and chances, while their reservations about Clinton have only grown. Now, she and her surrogates are in a position of trying to rationalize eight straight Obama wins, including his 29-point Virginia victory in a state where she was up by 24 points less than four months ago, and her-23 point loss in Maryland, which she also led by roughly the same margin.

These recent losses, claims Clinton, were due to states with caucuses, major African American populations, or large numbers of young liberal professionals. But not only did Obama rout Clinton in Virginia among younger voters, African Americans, and independents, he also won a majority of white voters, staked a 55-to-43 lead among white men, and led among voters in every income and education level. Maine is one of the whitest and poorest states in America, yet Obama won it convincingly despite election-eve reports that blue-collar women might hand it to Clinton. And if you compare caucus margins, Obama won Iowa by a modest nine points and narrowly lost in Nevada. Since then, he's now won Washington, Nebraska, Georgia, Colorado, Minnesota and Kansas by more than 35 points, and Idaho and Alaska by more than 50. In my state of Washington, Obama took every single county, including the highly conservative rural ones, and the blue- and white-collar suburbs and exurbs. These weren't just latte-drinking liberals. Participants in my caucus couldn't stop talking about relatives and friends who'd never voted Democratic in their life, but were inspired by Obama's message.

The pattern in every state has been the same: Clinton started out with a massive early lead based on her (and Bill's) huge name recognition, connections with Democratic insiders, and the early endorsements gained in significant part on the desire of key leaders to go with the inevitable winner. Then Obama started campaigning, people responded to his story and his message, and the gaps begin to narrow. As recently as mid-October, national polls had Obama 28 points behind, and he trailed by 20 points going into the Iowa caucuses. He's now won 22 of the 32 legitimate elections, not counting Michigan and Florida. And given that he's now far ahead in recent momentum, even or ahead in national polls, and ahead in elected delegates, Democratic voters who earlier dismissed him as a candidate are far more primed to take his message seriously.

Before Super Tuesday I remember thinking, "if Obama only had three more weeks." To establish his electoral viability, he had no choice but to focus overwhelmingly on Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, hitting town after town to convince people who'd barely heard of him that he should be America's next president. He had no choice about doing this--a Rudy Guiliani big-state strategy would have been disastrous, as it was even with Guiliani's far greater name recognition. But it meant that Obama had no chance to create more than the most fleeting presence in the 22 states that voted on February 5th.

Although Obama and the other candidates did campaign earlier in some of those states, few voters were paying much attention until the caucuses and primaries began. And because of the massive compression of schedule, Obama didn't have time to do more than jet in and out of states that represented over half the total convention delegates. Think about the states that Clinton ended up winning that day. Following his initial Iowa victory, Obama had time for just three brief visits to California, one to New York State, one to Massachusetts, two to New Jersey, one each to Arizona and New Mexico, and none at all to Tennessee, Arkansas, or Oklahoma. Clinton faced the same time constraints, but began with infinitely more name recognition and institutional connections, and a superstar surrogate in Bill, so needed the boosts from her personal visits far less. By the time most Super Tuesday voters began to realize that Clinton was no longer inevitable, Obama barely had a chance to do more than briefly get their attention.

That doesn't even count the impact of early voting, where people made up their mind before they had the chance to be seriously exposed to Obama's ideas. As many as half the California ballots may have been cast well before Super Tuesday--before the Kennedy endorsement, Obama's major California campaign stops, or the massive Los Angeles Oprah rally. Most were cast before Obama's massive South Carolina victory, and the backlash against Bill Clinton's racially charged attempts to dismiss it. Early voting had a comparable likely impact in New Jersey, Arizona, New Mexico, and Tennessee, with Obama surging late, but with much of this momentum being moot for the significant numbers of people who'd already voted. In the words of Clinton campaign director, Ace Smith, "our whole campaign is based on reaching those voters....with millions and millions of ballots cast before election day. And we've been trying to identify those people for months." No doubt the Obama campaign tried to reach these voters too, but they had far less initial visibility to use as leverage. Obama still emerged from the day with a plurality of delegates, but would certainly have had even more if voters had just had more time to get to know him.

Even in constituencies where Obama is still making up ground, you see the same pattern. White voters backed him in Virginia, for the first time in a Southern state. Maine was supposed to go to Clinton because of blue-collar women, but Obama won by 18 points. He got 26% of the Latino vote in Nevada, and polls before Super Tuesday showed him getting just 19% of the national Latino vote. But he averaged 35% on Super Tuesday, even counting the early voting and other obstacles, and actually won Virginia's small Latino population. Clinton began with massive advantages among Latino voters, having locked up early endorsements from people like LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros, and United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta. Their political networks helped immensely, but mostly the margin has been simple name recognition. Clinton supporter Huerta joked that when Latino voters were interviewed about Obama, "A lot of them would say, 'Señor como se llama?' They didn't know Obama's name." But as Obama stressed in one of the debates, Latino voters did vote for him in his Illinois races, and are beginning to in his presidential quest. In the words of Obama supporter Miren Uriarte, head of a Latino research center at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, "What we've seen is the longer people become familiar with Obama's thinking, the more prone they are to vote for him." So his challenge with Latinos really does rest significantly on their simply not knowing him--a situation he's now beginning to change.

All this creates a critical argument to stress, both to residents of states yet to vote and to the superdelegates who will hold the convention's balance of power. In addition to Obama's dramatically expanding Democratic participation among young voters, African Americans and independents, and polling ahead of Hillary when matched against McCain, it means that his baseline of support may actually be much greater than we've seen so far. Those of us who support Obama need to raise this not as an excuse for complacency--we'll need to keep doing everything we can to get him nominated in August and elected in November. But we can make clear that his potential electoral strengths may just be starting to come into play. It seems the more voters know him, the more they like him.


Paul Rogat Loeb is the author of The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear, named the #3 political book of 2004 by the History Channel and the American Book Association. His previous books include Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time. See www.paulloeb.org To receive his articles directly email sympa@lists.onenw.org with the subject line: subscribe paulloeb-articles

Original here

McCain adviser won't campaign against Obama

by Mark Silva

Earlier today, the Swamp noted that Mark McKinnon, a senior campaign adviser to both President Bush and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, had said some time ago that he could not serve McCain if Sen. Barack Obama became the Democratic presidential nominee.

And now this evening, the Republican consultant is reaffirming his stance that he will have to step out of his advisor's role for the campaign if Obama wins the Democratic nomination. He explained his aversion to campaigning against Obama in an interview aired by National Public Radio, where Michele Norris interviewed him for All Things Considered:

"You told Cox Newspapers last summer – and you repeated this in a new Texas Monthly interview published soon – that you would, quote,' not work in the general election' if Barack Obama is the opponent. Why?'' Norris asked.

"That’s referring to a confidential communication that I had with the McCain campaign when I came abroad, and I don’t really want to say much more than that, except to say that under any circumstances, depending on who the nominee is, I will be supporting 100 percent John McCain,'' McKinnon said.

"But I just want to clarify... that you wouldn’t work in the general election, you’d be supporting him on the sidelines?'' Norris asked.

'I will be supporting from the sidelines,'' McKinnon said.

"Why... sit this out if you have such strong feelings for John McCain, if Barack Obama is the opponent. What is it you’re concerned about?'' he was asked.

"I met Barack Obama, I read his book, I like him a great deal,'' McKinnon said. "I disagree with him on very fundamental issues. But I think, as I said, I think it would a great race for the country, and I would simply be uncomfortable being in a campaign that would be inevitably attacking Barack Obama. I think it would be uncomfortable for me, and I think it would be bad for the McCain campaign.''

Original here

Clintons' InfoUSA Ties Scrutinized

Political campaigns spend thousands, even millions of dollars to acquire good mailing lists.

Last year, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton took the unusual step of renting out some of her lists. The transaction once again highlights the Clintons' connections to a businessman who now faces questions from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Reports from Clinton's campaign show that on Dec. 3, it collected payment for renting out three mailing lists, the sale of which netted them $8,225.

It was an unusual transaction, according to Roger Craver, a liberal guru of the political direct-mail industry.

"As a general rule, a campaign will not let its donor list out into the markets until the campaign is over," he said. "This is the mother's milk of small-gift fundraising, and they use these lists frequently."

There are no records that any other presidential candidates rented out mailing lists last year.

Several sources who work in political consulting and in direct mail, who would not speak for attribution, said they were surprised by the deal, as well as its low price.

According to one direct-mail professional, $800,000 would have seemed like a more plausible price for a quality list. A political consultant suggested that the list broker's unidentified client could have rented the list as a sample one — to do a test-run mailing.

But most intriguing of all was the renter of the Clinton list: a list brokerage company that is a subsidiary of one of the data-collection industry titans, Info U.S.A.

Info U.S.A.'s CEO is Vinod Gupta, a close ally of both Clintons. Gupta's empire also includes the Opinion Research Corporation, which conducts the political polling for the television network CNN.

Vin Gupta has a long history of giving and raising campaign money for the Clintons, and gave $1 million for the 2000 Millennium Celebration, a New Year's Party thrown by the Clintons.

When he was president, Bill Clinton named Gupta to the Kennedy Center board of directors. Gupta also got to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom. He gave another million to the Clinton Presidential Library.

The library is run by the National Archives, but Bill Clinton raised the money for its construction and always refused to identify his major donors.

Last fall, ABC News reported that the library rented out a portion of its donor list to a list broker — the same one that rented Hillary Clinton's campaign lists.

Gupta spent $900,000 of corporate money flying the Clintons to various destinations. The Clinton campaign said in May that Info U.S.A. had been reimbursed to comply with federal campaigning and ethics rules.

After the Clintons left the White House, Gupta hired Bill Clinton as a consultant. It's one of two continuing business relationships he has had since leaving office, and it has been worth $3.3 million, in addition to the options on 100,000 shares of stock.

When challenged about that outlay of cash to the former president, Gupta has said Clinton is worth $40 million to the company.

Kevin Starke is a stock analyst in Connecticut who follows Gupta's company.

"If it were me, and I had hired Bill Clinton to the tune of $3 million, I think I would try to make a fairly distinct case for why that was money well spent, and I'm not entirely clear on why he hasn't done so," Starke said.

The corporate spending on behalf of the Clintons helped fuel a shareholder lawsuit against Gupta and 10 corporate directors.

There are plenty of other allegations in the suit about homes, cars, and a yacht for Gupta. A Delaware chancery court judge dismissed some of the allegations involving the Clintons. But the case is still proceeding. It has led to an informal inquiry by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is also asking if Gupta misspent corporate funds.

"It's not a company that's threatened with bankruptcy or anything like that. It needs probably to be run with more of a view toward generating value for all shareholders, and not just the main shareholder," Starke said.

Info U.S.A. did not respond to interview requests this week.

The Clinton campaign said Wednesday that the lists were rented out by her 2006 Senate campaign committee — and that the rentals took place before she began her formal campaign for president last January.

That would mean the rental fees went unpaid for at least 11 months. Starke, the analyst, cites Info U.S.A. data showing that on average, it settles accounts within 64 days.

Free Thought Takes on Organized Religion in National Billboard Campaign

BBSNews 2008-02-12 -- In early February, the freethinkers group Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) debuted its 14 X 48-foot stained glass style billboard with the message "Imagine No Religion" in Columbus, Ohio.

The national campaign is an effort to let Americans know that there is room for reason and clarity of thought, free from the dogma that organized religion uses to keep its flock in line; as well as donating.

Dan Barker, Foundation co-president and author of 'Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist' said "Many of our members, including generous sponsors in Ohio, want to balance all that religion on the roadside with some reason on the roadside."

According to the FFRF, one of the local Ohio donors to the new nationwide sign campaign said, "Gov. Ted Strickland apparently needs to be reminded that many wonderful, patriotic, hard-working Ohioans do not 'support churches.' In fact, they believe that too much religious influence over state government is harming the state. In recent years, state officials have caved to the religious right on issues such as gay rights, the right of other consenting adults to live as they wish, and the display of Christian symbols on state property. These divisive actions have driven people from Ohio and distracted the state from the serious economic problems it faces."

Ohio faced pressure from FFRF last year over nativity scenes on state public property, and Governor Strickland was accused by the group of giving an unlawful order to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, putting back the contentious nativity scenes on public property after DNS had ordered them removed.

Drama Rises Over Billboards In Pennsylvania

A billboard company contracted to run the "Imagine no Religion" signs in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, put up the first of the signs, scheduled to rotate between three locations, and then followed that run with a sign of their own with a disclaimer - "In God We Trust: Kegerreis Outdoor Advertising LLC.." Underneath are the words: "The previous sign posted at this location does not reflect the values or morals of our company. Thank you."

According to an article in The Chambersburg Public Opinion, Dusky A. Chilcote, senior account executive for Kegerreis Outdoor Advertising, Chambersburg, said "We received only a couple of negative calls about the (first sign)," Chilcote said on Monday. "We were concerned about the impact of how people see our company."

She claimed that there was some sort of deception on the part of the FFRF donor who sponsored the sign, FFRF denied that allegation yesterday saying "The Freedom From Religion Foundation did not (needless to say) deceive the billboard company's agent or pretend to be a local church!"

In God We Trust

A national group that bills itself as "In God We Trust" (IGWT) has jumped into the fray with familiar divisive language. Anyone who has ever had to sit through an anti-gay diatribe, strident calls to suppress woman's rights, or the ever popular among the right-wing crowd, 'let's move twelve to twenty million Hispanic immigrants out of the country and construct a huge wall to keep them out', will recognize the rhetoric.

IGWT has done the world of free thought a valuable favor, by publicizing during their campaign the very essence of free-thought and a wide ranging breakdown of the issues surrounding the stranglehold that organized religion currently has on America. On their Web site where they are also soliciting for donations (of course) they've posted a nice list, comprised largely of Dan Barker's writings as well as founder Laurie Gaylor and a sprinkling from FFRF press releases.

It's a must read these writings from the FFRF that IGWT has provided, and very hard to dispute. IGWT is to be commended for helping to get out the message that sanity and reason can replace religious dogma and the knee-jerk fundamentalist Christian philosophy that has driven American domestic and foreign policy throughout George W. Bush's two administrations, much to America's detriment.

Trying to foment "Armageddon" and the discredited "Crash of Civilizations" theory has squandered America's image as a major player in the world that follows the rule of law and maintains religious freedom as well as freedom from religion. Instead of the entirely false notion that the United States is somehow a Christian theocracy, hopefully reason and fact-based reality will root in its place.

A message from on high, in the form of a well placed billboard, can at least get the conversation started.

Imagine no religion. A world free from dogma. It's a beautiful and long overdue freedom of thought.

Original here

Crucifixion: Our Dying Constitution

the American spirit is dead thanks to disgraceful congressional leadership


I can fairly say now, that I’ve never been more ashamed to be an American. In addition to being subject to the leadership of the worst presidential administration in American history, the Senate just voted to grant immunity to telecommunications companies that were complicit in illegal surveillance activity against Americans. Of course, because this criminal activity occurred over the tenure of the Bush Administration, Congress will gladly give them a pass because they were acting based on a sense of “patriotic duty”.

In his closing speech on the Senate floor, Chris Dodd brought up September 28, 2007, what he calls the darkest day in the Congressional chamber. If the date doesn’t ring a bell, it was the day that the not-so-honorable Senators voted to deny Habeas Corpus and allow torture to take place at the hands of our agents. Senator Dodd argued that today, February 12, 2008, is a close second, as the action taken today further serves to deny the constitutional safeguards that our founders intended to protect our citizens.

What Chris Dodd’s entire argument revolved around was simply allowing lawsuits to go forward and be decided by the appropriate branch, the judiciary. President Bush insisted that he would veto any FISA legislation that didn’t include telecommunications immunity for his top secret surveillance activity. Instead, what the legislature is doing is denying Americans the right to know what is going on in our government. Today, government secrecy emerged victorious.

America’s Shame and why I’m proud to be “un-American”

Americans no longer have an understanding of what it means to be free, we’ve become so accustomed to big brother’s hand that torture, spying without warrants, and engaging in illegal wars of aggression are to be expected. Many of the candidates running for president campaigned hard on these issues, insisting that we would “remain on offense” in the propaganda-ridden war on terror. What Americans need now is a miracle, we need a hero or group of heroes to stand up in our legislature and fight for them. We don’t need more government parenting and rules that cater to corporations and fear.

Terrorism should be a tool that only the enemy is allowed to use. Illegal government activity should not be tolerated in its current form. Soon, we will lose a part of ourselves, the American spirit will die. This country is no longer FDR’s America, it isn’t JFK’s or Reagan’s America. It most definitely is not Bill Clinton’s America, yet his wife was curiously absent from the Senate floor on this most important matter. Unless our voters and elected officials stand up and fight for freedom, we’re going to lose this fight for our country. If you feel even a modicum of pride and love left for this nation that people the world over once admired, equip yourself with knowledge and do your part so that our country won’t slip away into the dark abyss of fascism.

I’m afraid we’re already there, but there may be hope and that hope begins with you.


Your idiot legislators at work

Original here

EUROPE Turn Out the Red Light?















Amsterdam plans to close down its most famous district, citing sleaze, criminal activity and human trafficking. Not everybody is happy about it.


A woman waits in the window for customers in Amsterdam's famed Red Light District.

Two weeks ago a young Dutch fashion designer named Bas Kosters opened a new store. His colorful and sumptuous creations—skirts, handbags, sweatshirts—merit attention. But the most striking aspect of his new venue is the location. Kosters's work is on display in Amsterdam's Red Light District behind two tall windows that until recently were used as a brothel. The ladies have vanished. The red lights and curtains have been removed and replaced by Kosters's hyperfashionable clothes.

Kosters found this studio thanks to an ambitious plan by the Amsterdam city government. Arguing that too many brothels and sex bars are linked to criminality, the authorities plan to all but erase the Red Light District. If the plan goes through, the peep shows, sex shops and prostitute windows that line the small alleys and canals will have to go, giving way to galleries, boutiques and upscale restaurants and bars. Goodbye to the big neon signs advertising every possible form of sexual indulgence.

Amsterdam without the Red Light District? Wouldn't that be like Paris without the Eiffel Tower? Amsterdam's mayor, Job Cohen, and his aldermen have demonstrated little nostalgia for the district, which has been the world's most famous home of sexual permissiveness since the 15th century. They first unveiled the plan to close it in December; last month they revoked the licenses of two widely known sex venues, the Casa Rosso and the Banana Bar. The next step is to buy out the real estate owners. Last fall the city struck a deal with a powerful brothel owner, Charles Geerts (known as "Fat Charlie"), to buy 20 buildings.

The driving force behind the cleanup is Lodewijk Asscher. A young star of the Dutch Labour Party and deputy mayor of Amsterdam, Asscher believes it's time to deliver his hometown from sleaze—even if he's scuppering a $100 million-a-year industry in the process. He is pleasantly surprised, he says, by the public support he's gotten for the plan. "Every day I get e-mails," he says. A recent survey confirms the sentiment: the city administration's polling agency found that 67 percent of Amsterdam's population supports a clampdown on sketchy business. The Amsterdam City Council approved the plan about two weeks ago by an overwhelming 43-2 majority.

But not everybody is happy about the change. Jan Broers, owner of Royal Taste, a hotel in the heart of the Red Light District, and eight prostitute windows, has formed a protest committee called Platform 1012 (named after the area's ZIP code). He claims to have collected thousands of signatures. This week the group staged a protest march, starting in front of the Casa Rosso and ending in Dam Square, where thousands of people shared a minute of silence. They carried pink balloons and signs saying "Hands off the Red Light District" and a poster of Asscher doctored to look as if he was with a street hooker.

Broers is afraid that fewer tourists will come to a sexless Amsterdam, harming legitimate, legal businesses. Most of all, he says, he feels "stigmatized" by the city government. "With all his rhetoric, deputy mayor Asscher is giving the district a bad name throughout the world," he says. "People phone me up from abroad every day, worried we might be gone already." Broers questions the city's premise that prostitution leads to criminal activities in the area. Indeed, the city, which is acting under laws that require only a suspicion of criminal activity, can point only to studies from the mid-1990s. "It's a shield. The city just wants to gentrify the neighborhood, so they can make some good money. And they're using public funds to buy all the real estate."

And what about the ladies? The Red Light District has about 450 windows where women offer their services. The majority of those will be closed down. Where will the inhabitants go, once they're forced out of work? Asscher says most of the prostitutes are part of international human-trafficking networks that draw on women from Eastern Europe, and they will most likely move on to Antwerp, Hamburg and other European cities. For those that remain, the city administration may start certifying pimps and require that prostitutes who work for them to be 21 years old.

The Dutch Sex Workers Union fears that many women and girls will be forced to start walking the streets. On its Web site the union calls the city's plans to certify pimps "bizarre." Since prostitution has been legal in the Netherlands since 2000, it argues, sex workers don't need pimps to find a place to work. Ruth Hopkins, a Dutch-English investigative journalist who has written extensively on prostitution in Amsterdam, says the city government overstates the extent of involuntary prostitution. "Even though there are gangs of pimps, a lot of women, mostly Africans and Latinos, do their work in complete independence," she says. Hopkins fears that a cleaned-up Amsterdam will be a boring city.

The crackdown fits into a nationwide backlash against the excesses of 1960s "happy-clappy" liberalism, as a conservative Dutch member of parliament recently put it. Over the last few years the Netherlands has adopted a stricter policy on selling marijuana, and a ban on hallucinogenic mushrooms is slated to go into effect later this year. "People in Amsterdam and the rest of the country are starting to discern real tolerance from bogus tolerance," says Asscher. "When Rudy Giuliani started to clean up Times Square in the mid-'90s, some people were warning that no one would ever again want to come to New York City. But as far as I know, it has had record tourist numbers each year since." Perhaps Giuliani, who this week dropped out of the U.S. presidential race, should run for office in the Netherlands.

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Update..Video: Al Qaeda in Iraq BURNS Hostages ALIVE!

Just when you think it can't get any worse with alQaeda they now burn hostages alive. Video shows dousing their victims with some type of flammable liquid and throwing them into a burning pit while shouting "Allah u Akhbar".

h/t Canadian Guy from LGF link thingy.

Video is below the fold and I warn you it is extremely graphic..

Update: Just to clarify Howie said this video was released a month or two ago.

Update #2: To clear up anymore confusion about this video. The video is indeed an al-Qaeda one. It was released on a forum on 12/26/07. The link given was to liveleak which apparently has been removed. A commentor states "it is unreleased footage captured from the ISI by ISF, CC or shia militias."

The source for the video on the forum was from this anti al-Qaeda film posted on Google Video 12/18/07. In it you will see the scene of the brutal killing of these prisoners as well as others.

Various pro al-Qaeda jihadis use the same clip from the anti al-Qaeda film in their sick snuff porn videos.

MEMRI stated the burning image was on the "Front Page of Turkish daily Hurriyet: "Al-Qaeda Savagery" . Apparently the men being savagely burnt to death were Iraq's taken as prisoners. God rest their souls.

Warning extremely graphic


KUCINICH: destroy the federal reserve

“Washington needs to understand how we’ve been mired in debt & are staying there with the help of this fractional reserve bank. Questions must be raised about why did we give up our control of being able to issue money - why did we give it to the federal reserve?”

House GOP stages walkout over surveillance, contempt resolution



House Republicans just staged a walkout on Capitol Hill as Democrats considered a resolution that would hold some of President Bush's aides in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions before the Judiciary Committee.

"They're more interested in a political witch hunt than in keeping America more secure before they leave Washington for a week," Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Fla., says on the steps outside the Capitol. "America's national security it too important to be passed on an installment plan. We demand that Congress stay in session and take up the Senate bill" reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The bill at issue would find Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, and Josh Bolten, the president's former chief of staff, in contempt of Congress because they didn't comply with subpoenas issued as part of the committee's probe into the firings of federal prosecutors.


House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., says that when it comes to the surveillance bill, Republicans are engaged in the "politics of fear, unfounded fear."

"It is somewhat ironic that on the one hand they say we ought to be doing something, on the other hand they walk out to preclude us from doing our business," Hoyer says.

The White House has cited executive privilege as grounds for not complying with the subpoenas. As for the contentious surveillance bill, President Bush announced earlier this afternoon that he would be willing to postpone a trip to Africa in order to pressure the House to adopt a version of the legislation that the Senate approved earlier this week.

Update at 2:09 p.m. ET: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the Republicans are exaggerating the need to pass a bill before the current version of the Protect America Act expires at midnight on Saturday. She quoted a Justice Department official who told The New York Times that the expiration of the law will not effect any of the intelligence community's existing wiretaps, just new applications.

(Top photo by Mark Wilson, Getty Images; Bottom photo of Nancy Pelosi by Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images.)

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