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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's Official: Clinton Lost Texas

The Texas Secretary of State is set to certify the official election results for the Democratic primary. As predicted, Barack Obama has beaten Hillary Clinton. While Clinton won the state's popular vote, Obama racked up more caucus support, so that, now that the final tally is in, the Lone Star state's delegate total reads:

Obama: 61 delegates from the popular vote + 38 delegates from caucuses = 99 delegates.

Clinton: 65 delegates from the popular vote + 30 delegates from Caucuses = 95 delegates.

So news people can now stop saying "two big wins in Ohio and Texas." Big win in Ohio, sure, but not Texas.

A further analysis of the delegate race over at DailyKos reveals that Clinton's supposedly big week has actually resulted in a net loss of 15 delegates to the front-runner. That's right, Obama continued to widen his delegate lead, and will certainly add to that margin (as well as to his lead in the popular vote) after today's contest in Mississippi.

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Sinbad Unloads on Hillary Clinton

Finally, the Barack Obama campaign has found a big gun to help shoot down Hillary Rodham Clinton's self-proclaimed foreign policy experience. And he may be the wackiest gun of all: Sinbad, the actor, who has come out from under a rock to defend Obama in the war over foreign policy credentials.

Sinbad, along with singer Sheryl Crow, was on that 1996 trip to Bosnia that Clinton has described as a harrowing international experience that makes her tested and ready to answer a 3 a.m. phone call at the White House on day one, a claim for which she's taking much grief on the campaign trail.

Harrowing? Not that Sinbad recalls. He just remembers it being a USO tour to buck up the troops amid a much worse situation than he had imagined between the Bosnians and Serbs.

In an interview with the Sleuth Monday, he said the "scariest" part of the trip was wondering where he'd eat next. "I think the only 'red-phone' moment was: 'Do we eat here or at the next place.'"

Clinton, during a late December campaign appearance in Iowa, described a hair-raising corkscrew landing in war-torn Bosnia, a trip she took with her then-teenage daughter, Chelsea. "They said there might be sniper fire," Clinton said.

Threat of bullets? Sinbad doesn't remember that, either.

"I never felt that I was in a dangerous position. I never felt being in a sense of peril, or 'Oh, God, I hope I'm going to be OK when I get out of this helicopter or when I get out of his tank.'"

In her Iowa stump speech, Clinton also said, "We used to say in the White House that if a place is too dangerous, too small or too poor, send the First Lady."

Say what? As Sinbad put it: "What kind of president would say, 'Hey, man, I can't go 'cause I might get shot so I'm going to send my wife...oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.'"

As you may have guessed by now, Sinbad isn't supporting Clinton for president. He's an Obama guy. All because of Clinton.

"What got me about Hillary was her attitude of entitlement, like he messed up her plan, like he had no reason to be there," Sinbad said. "I got angry. I actually got angry! I said, 'I will be for Obama like never before.'"

But he's less ticked off with the Clinton campaign than he is with Saturday Night Live for its Hillary-loving sketches that portray Obama as an unqualified nervous Nelly. What really bothers him is SNL's choice of actor (Fred Armisen) to play Obama.

"My problem is -- you couldn't just temporarily hire a black man to play Obama? You had to put a white man in a black face? You couldn't find a light-skinned brother to play Obama?"

The Clinton campaign doesn't seem amused by Sinbad's commentary or his recollection of the 1996 Bosnia trip as more depressing than harrowing.

Defending Clinton's characterization of her Bosnia mission, campaign spokesman Phil Singer kindly provided experts from news stories written about the trip at the time, including a Washington Post story from May 26, 1996, that said, "This trip to Bosnia marks the first time since Roosevelt that a first lady has voyaged to a potential combat zone."

Singer also cited a Kansas City Star article from September 2000 that quoted Sinbad as describing the situation in Bosnia as "so tense. It was Crips and Bloods." (And that's how Sinbad continued to characterize the situation in our interview Monday. He said, "At the time, we didn't realize how crazy it was between the Bosnians and the Serbs. I didn't realize how much hate was going on.")

Still, defending Clinton against Sinbad the refuter, Singer said, "The sad reality of what was going on in Bosnia at the time Senator Clinton traveled there as first lady has been well documented. It appears that Sinbad's experience in Bosnia goes back further than Senator Obama's does. In fact, has Senator Obama ever been to Bosnia?"

Snarky, snarky!

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OEA issues endorsements in state and federal races today

Today, OEA delegates from across the state cast their votes in the Oregon Education Association endorsements. Oregon's teachers union, the OEA/PIE endorsement is considered one of the most important endorsements to win.

For President, OEA endorsed Barack Obama. In the US Senate race, OEA endorsed Steve Novick. In the 5th Congressional District, OEA endorsed Kurt Schrader. And with less drama, they also endorsed for re-election Congressmen David Wu, Earl Blumenauer, and Peter DeFazio.

In the state Treasurer's race, OEA endorsed Ben Westlund. For Attorney General, John Kroger won the endorsement. And for Secretary of State, OEA endorsed Kate Brown. The Secretary of State race required a second round of voting, featuring a run-off between Kate Brown and Brad Avakian.

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Obama scoffs at Clinton's vice-presidential hint

Barack Obama shares a joke with his supporters at a campaign stop at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP

Mississippi voters go to the polls this morning after confirmation from the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama that he would not accept any prospective down-ticket offer from his rival, Hillary Clinton.

At a rally in Columbus, Mississippi, last night, Obama drew cheers from the 1,700-strong crowd when he scoffed at Clinton's hint that she would offer him the vice-presidential job. Clinton's team had suggested a Clinton-Obama ticket would be popular, and formidable, against the Republican nominee, Senator John McCain, in November.

"I don't know how somebody who is in second place is offering the vice-presidency to someone who is first place," Obama said.

"I don't want anybody here thinking that 'Somehow, maybe I can get both'," by nominating Clinton as president and assuming he would be her running mate, he said. "You have to make a choice in this election."

Obama reiterated the sentiment in a later interview, saying he would "absolutely close out any possibility" of taking the ticket's second spot. "I am not running for vice-president, and don't intend to be the vice-president."

Obama is hoping to increase his delegate count lead in the Democratic contest with a second-straight primary victory today.

Mississippi, which will award 33 delegates based on today's vote, is predicted to go Obama's way. The Illinois senator has won every southern state, except his rival Hillary Clinton's former home, Arkansas, where her husband, Bill, was governor. More than half of Mississippi Democratic voters are black, a voting bloc which has carried Obama to victory in other states.

Obama's camp rides into Mississippi with some momentum after Saturday's victory in the Wyoming caucuses. His win there reinvigorated his campaign after Clinton put the brakes on his nomination drive with crucial wins in the mega-states of Ohio and Texas, and a further victory in Rhode Island, last week.

Obama is ahead in the overall delegate count, with 1,578 compared to Clinton's 1,472, according to an Associated Press tally. With 2,025 needed to clinch the nomination, neither candidate will be able to reach that number without the votes of about 800 superdelegates - Democratic party insiders and elected officials who are not bound to the results of the state votes. Obama and Clinton have been courting superdelegates aggressively.

Last night, Obama's campaign moved to counter Clinton's allegations that their candidate is unqualified to be commander-in-chief of the armed forces by rolling out three former military chiefs.

The former secretaries of the army, navy and air force said Obama's judgment, temperament and ability to inspire were more important factors than a lack of executive experience, which he shares with Clinton and Republican nominee John McCain.

The secretaries, who worked in past Democratic administrations, including that of Clinton's husband, also said Obama's ability to manage an effective presidential campaign confirmed his administrative prowess.

"If the phone rings in the White House in the middle of the night, the thing you most need is a plan, a policy and an organisation that can actually do something," said F Whitten Peters, secretary of the air force under President Bill Clinton, "otherwise why get up."

Peters said Obama's ability to draw young voters would aid military recruitment efforts, because he would inspire youngsters to serve their country.

Clifford Alexander, secretary of the army under President Jimmy Carter, dismissed Clinton's touting of her relationships with military brass and foreign leaders as inconsequential.

"It's important not to count the number of countries you've gone into, not to count the number of people that you know, but to understand fully that you are going to be a better leader if you have consistency, good judgement thoughtfulness and an ability to execute," he said.

President Clinton's navy secretary, Richard Danzig, spoke of Obama's "freshness of vision", which he said would restore America's standing in the world. Danzig spoke against what he described as McCain's "militarisation of national security".

The three secretaries spoke after a rough period for Obama's campaign that saw Clinton leap on comments made by two foreign policy advisors. Austan Goolsbee, a University of Chicago professor, recently appeared to indicate in a meeting with Canadian officials they should take Obama's political pronouncement on the North American Free Trade Agreement with a grain of salt.

Last week, one of his foreign policy advisors, Samantha Power, was forced to resign after referring to Clinton as a "monster". She also said Obama's ultimate Iraq policy may differ from what he proposes on the campaign trail. The Clinton campaign sought to use her statements as evidence that Obama was not being candid with voters.

The Clinton campaign remained on the foreign policy offensive yesterday, holding a conference call with reporters to attack Obama's Senate record on Iraq.

Retired general Joe Ballard, who has endorsed Clinton, reiterated the position that experience is more important than "a great speech" and "a great staff", comparing running the military to milking a cow.

"When you look at what Senator Obama would bring to the table, there's no doubt in my mind that he probably can recognise a cow, but his body of experience doesn't necessarily make him an expert on how to milk one," he said.

Lee Feinstein, a foreign policy advisor to Clinton, accused Obama of populist policy-picking: "[He] didn't introduce a plan to withdraw from Iraq until he started running for president. He didn't oppose funding the war until he started running for president."

Original here

Obama Camp: Clinton Foreign Policy A Dramatized Assertion, Clinton Calls His Iraq Plan "Just Words"


The Obama campaign has released an exhaustive memo on Hillary Clinton's foreign policy experience. They argue that Sen. Clinton's claim that she has passed a Commander-in-Chief threshold is "mere assertion, dramatized in a scary television commercial." They also detail each of the foreign policy situations -- Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda and China -- that Sen. Clinton has mentioned during the campaign.

Meanwhile, Sen. Clinton has sought to preempt a scheduled environment speech for Obama today. Co-opting his phrase, she calls both his environmental policy and his promise to withdraw from Iraq "just words."

Read Obama's memo (Clinton statement below):

To: Interested Parties From: Greg Craig, former director, Policy Planning Office, U.S. State Department RE: Senator Clinton's claim to be experienced in foreign policy: Just words? DA: March 11, 2008

When your entire campaign is based upon a claim of experience, it is important that you have evidence to support that claim. Hillary Clinton's argument that she has passed "the Commander- in-Chief test" is simply not supported by her record.

There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton played an important domestic policy role when she was First Lady. It is well known, for example, that she led the failed effort to pass universal health insurance. There is no reason to believe, however, that she was a key player in foreign policy at any time during the Clinton Administration. She did not sit in on National Security Council meetings. She did not have a security clearance. She did not attend meetings in the Situation Room. She did not manage any part of the national security bureaucracy, nor did she have her own national security staff. She did not do any heavy-lifting with foreign governments, whether they were friendly or not. She never managed a foreign policy crisis, and there is no evidence to suggest that she participated in the decision-making that occurred in connection with any such crisis. As far as the record shows, Senator Clinton never answered the phone either to make a decision on any pressing national security issue - not at 3 AM or at any other time of day.

When asked to describe her experience, Senator Clinton has cited a handful of international incidents where she says she played a central role. But any fair-minded and objective judge of these claims - i.e., by someone not affiliated with the Clinton campaign - would conclude that Senator Clinton's claims of foreign policy experience are exaggerated.

Northern Ireland:

Senator Clinton has said, "I helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland." It is a gross overstatement of the facts for her to claim even partial credit for bringing peace to Northern Ireland. She did travel to Northern Ireland, it is true. First Ladies often travel to places that are a focus of U.S. foreign policy. But at no time did she play any role in the critical negotiations that ultimately produced the peace. As the Associated Press recently reported, "[S]he was not directly involved in negotiating the Good Friday peace accord." With regard to her main claim that she helped bring women together, she did participate in a meeting with women, but, according to those who know best, she did not play a pivotal role. The person in charge of the negotiations, former Senator George Mitchell, said that "[The First Lady] was one of many people who participated in encouraging women to get involved, not the only one."

News of Senator Clinton's claims has raised eyebrows across the ocean. Her reference to an important meeting at the Belfast town hall was debunked. Her only appearance at the Belfast City Hall was to see Christmas lights turned on. She also attended a 50-minute meeting which, according to the Belfast Daily Telegraph's report at the time, "[was] a little bit stilted, a little prepared at times." Brian Feeney, an Irish author and former politician, sums it up: "The road to peace was carefully documented, and she wasn't on it."

Bosnia:

Senator Clinton has pointed to a March 1996 trip to Bosnia as proof that her foreign travel involved a life-risking mission into a war zone. She has described dodging sniper fire. While she did travel to Bosnia in March 1996, the visit was not a high-stakes mission to a war zone. On March 26, 1996, the New York Times reported that "Hillary Rodham Clinton charmed American troops at a U.S.O. show here, but it didn't hurt that the singer Sheryl Crow and the comedian Sinbad were also on the stage."

Kosovo:

Senator Clinton has said, "I negotiated open borders to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo." It is true that, as First Lady, she traveled to Macedonia and visited a Kosovar refugee camp. It is also true that she met with government officials while she was there. First Ladies frequently meet with government officials. Her claim to have "negotiated open borders to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo," however, is not true. Her trip to Macedonia took place on May 14, 1999. The borders were opened the day before, on May 13, 1999.

The negotiations that led to the opening of the borders were accomplished by the people who ordinarily conduct negotiations with foreign governments - U.S. diplomats. President Clinton's top envoy to the Balkans, former Ambassador Robert Gelbard, said, "I cannot recall any involvement by Senator Clinton in this issue." Ivo Daalder worked on the Clinton Administration's National Security Council and wrote a definitive history of the Kosovo conflict. He recalls that "she had absolutely no role in the dirty work of negotiations."

Rwanda:

Last year, former President Clinton asserted that his wife pressed him to intervene with U.S. troops to stop the Rwandan genocide. When asked about this assertion, Hillary Clinton said it was true. There is no evidence, however, to suggest that this ever happened. Even those individuals who were advocating a much more robust U.S. effort to stop the genocide did not argue for the use of U.S. troops. No one recalls hearing that Hillary Clinton had any interest in this course of action. Based on a fair and thorough review of National Security Council deliberations during those tragic months, there is no evidence to suggest that U.S. military intervention was ever discussed. Prudence Bushnell, the Assistant Secretary of State with responsibility for Africa, has recalled that there was no consideration of U.S. military intervention.

At no time prior to her campaign for the presidency did Senator Clinton ever make the claim that she supported intervening militarily to stop the Rwandan genocide. It is noteworthy that she failed to mention this anecdote - urging President Clinton to intervene militarily in Rwanda - in her memoirs. President Clinton makes no mention of such a conversation with his wife in his memoirs. And Madeline Albright, who was Ambassador to the United Nations at the time, makes no mention of any such event in her memoirs.

Hillary Clinton did visit Rwanda in March 1998 and, during that visit, her husband apologized for America's failure to do more to prevent the genocide.

China

Senator Clinton also points to a speech that she delivered in Beijing in 1995 as proof of her ability to answer a 3 AM crisis phone call. It is strange that Senator Clinton would base her own foreign policy experience on a speech that she gave over a decade ago, since she so frequently belittles Barack Obama's speeches opposing the Iraq War six years ago. Let there be no doubt: she gave a good speech in Beijing, and she stood up for women's rights. But Senator Obama's opposition to the War in Iraq in 2002 is relevant to the question of whether he, as Commander-in-Chief, will make wise judgments about the use of military force. Senator Clinton's speech in Beijing is not.

Senator Obama's speech opposing the war in Iraq shows independence and courage as well as good judgment. In the speech that Senator Clinton says does not qualify him to be Commander in Chief, Obama criticized what he called "a rash war . . . a war based not on reason, but on passion, not on principle, but on politics." In that speech, he said prophetically: "[E]ven a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences." He predicted that a U.S. invasion of Iraq would "fan the flames of the Middle East," and "strengthen the recruitment arm of al Qaeda." He urged the United States first to "finish the fight with Bin Laden and al Qaeda."

If the U.S. government had followed Barack Obama's advice in 2002, we would have avoided one of the greatest foreign policy catastrophes in our nation's history. Some of the most "experienced" men in national security affairs - Vice President Cheney and Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others - led this nation into that catastrophe. That lesson should teach us something about the value of judgment over experience. Longevity in Washington, D.C. does not guarantee either wisdom of judgment.

Conclusion:

The Clinton campaign's argument is nothing more than mere assertion, dramatized in a scary television commercial with a telephone ringing in the middle of the night. There is no support for or substance in the claim that Senator Clinton has passed "the Commander-in-Chief test." That claim - as the TV ad - consists of nothing more than making the assertion, repeating it frequently to the voters and hoping that they will believe it.

On the most critical foreign policy judgment of our generation - the War in Iraq - Senator Clinton voted in support of a resolution entitled "The Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of U.S. Military Force Against Iraq." As she cast that vote, she said: "This is probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make -- any vote that may lead to war should be hard -- but I cast it with conviction." In this campaign, Senator Clinton has argued - remarkably - that she wasn't actually voting for war, she was voting for diplomacy. That claim is no more credible than her other claims of foreign policy experience. The real tragedy is that we are still living with the terrible consequences of her misjudgment. The Bush Administration continues to cite that resolution as its authorization - like a blank check - to fight on with no end in sight.

Barack Obama has a very simple case. On the most important commander in chief test of our generation, he got it right, and Senator Clinton got it wrong. In truth, Senator Obama has much more foreign policy experience than either Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan had when they were elected. Senator Obama has worked to confront 21st century challenges like proliferation and genocide on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He possesses the personal attributes of a great leader - an even temperament, an open-minded approach to even the most challenging problems, a willingness to listen to all views, clarity of vision, the ability to inspire, conviction and courage.

And Barack Obama does not use false charges and exaggerated claims to play politics with national security.


After seven years of an energy policy written by and for the oil companies - with help from Dick Cheney - oil has now reached $107 a barrel - and gas prices in some areas are approaching $4 a gallon.

I understand Senator Obama is talking about energy today, right here in Pennsylvania. And that's great. But talking about problems is easy. Solving problems is hard. And speeches are no substitute for solutions. Speeches won't lower gas prices, stop climate change, or lessen our dependence on oil from Saudi Arabia.

The true test comes when it's time to match rhetoric with results. And unfortunately, we've seen that Senator Obama's promises and speeches are often just words.

On the campaign trail, Senator Obama talks about clean energy. But in the Senate, he voted for Dick Cheney's energy bill loaded with new tax breaks for oil companies. When he faced a tough choice, his support for a clean energy future turned out to be just words.

It's like how he talks about fixing NAFTA. But his top economic adviser assured the Canadian government that he wouldn't really follow through. His position? Just words.

Senator Obama promises to withdraw from Iraq within 16 months. But his top foreign policy adviser said he's not really going to rely on that plan. I guess that plan is just words, too.

We need a president who will solve problems. Who will fight for our families long after the speeches are over and the cameras are gone. That's the choice in this campaign: Solutions you can rely on - versus words you can't.

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Sources: Ex-Wife of Pardoned Fugitive Gave $400,000 to Clinton Library





Hillary Clinton and Denise Rich at an Awards Luncheon in 1999
JONATHAN ELDERFIELD/LIAISON









The former wife of fugitive financier Marc Rich contributed about $400,000 to the Clinton presidential library, legal sources tell TIME. This revelation is likely to deepen suspicions of congressional investigators looking into the controversial pardon given to Rich by President Clinton — that Denise Rich's financing of Clinton political and personal projects influenced his decision to give amnesty to her ex-husband.

The sources said Denise Rich gave money to the library after consulting with Beth Dozoretz, a close Clinton friend and major Democratic fund-raiser who discussed the pardon of Marc Rich with the President nine days before he granted it. The timing of the library contribution and its proximity to the pardon were not immediately obtainable.

Denise Rich's generosity aroused the suspicion of Republican investigators from the moment Clinton pardoned her ex-husband of 1983 charges that he evaded $48 million in taxes and engaged in illegal oil sales with Iran. She gave over $1 million to Democratic campaigns in the Clinton era and at least $70,000 to Hillary Clinton's U.S. Senate race as well as $10,000 to the President's legal defense fund.

Only her contribution to Clinton's library remained a secret. Officers of the $150 million project have refused to divulge their funding sources, but Denise Rich's lawyer, Carol Elder Bruce, fueled speculation when she told House investigators, as they recalled it, that her client gave an "enormous sum of money" to it. The GOP probers want to know if any of the funds originated with Marc Rich and asked Denise Rich to answer questions for a Government Reform Committee hearing Thursday.

She refused to respond, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Reached Thursday night, Bruce declined to comment on the library gift, but noted a statement by her client's publicist that said Bruce told House investigators that Rich had "contributed generously to the party, the candidates and the presidential library."

Dozoretz's name surfaced at the hearing in a Jan. 10 e-mail from a Marc Rich confidant in Switzerland to Jack Quinn, the former White House counsel who lobbied Clinton on the pardon. The message reports on a conversation with Denise Rich, who was visiting Aspen with Dozoretz, identified as "B" in the e-mail. "Her friend B... got a call from Potus who said he was impressed by [Quinn's] last letter and that he wants to do it and is doing all possible to turn around" the White House counsels, it said. Denise Rich, it went on, "thinks he sounded very positive but that we have to keep praying."

Dozoretz, who named Clinton a godfather to one of her children, could not be reached for comment. A source close to her confirmed the call from Clinton and said Dozoretz had raised the pardon issue with the President. The source insisted, however, that Clinton never told her he was trying to "turn around" his White House lawyers.

Clinton has insisted his decision was based on the merits of the case and not on any friendship with Denise Rich, who had written him asking for the pardon.

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Once an Enemy, Health Industry Warms to Clinton

When she tried to overhaul the nation’s health care system as first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton alienated some people and institutions in the health care industry by championing a huge expansion of the federal role. She provoked a fierce reaction from the industry, which mocked her proposal in television advertisements and dispatched lobbyists who ultimately helped kill the plan.

But times change. As she runs for re-election to the Senate from New York this year and lays the groundwork for a possible presidential bid in 2008, Mrs. Clinton is receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from doctors, hospitals, drug manufacturers and insurers. Nationwide, she is the No. 2 recipient of donations from the industry, trailing only Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a member of the Republican leadership.

Some of the same interests that tried to derail Mrs. Clinton’s health care overhaul are providing support for her Senate re-election bid. The Health Insurance Association of America ran the famous “Harry and Louise” commercials mocking the Clinton health care plan as impenetrably complex. Some companies that were members of that group are now donating to Mrs. Clinton.

Charles N. Kahn III, a Republican who was executive vice president of the Health Insurance Association in 1993 and 1994, now works with the senator on some issues as president of the Federation of American Hospitals, a lobby for hospital companies like HCA and Tenet. He describes his battles with the first lady as “ancient history,” and he said health care executives were contributing to her now because “she is extremely knowledgeable about health care and has become a Congressional leader on the issue.”

Senator Clinton has received $150,600 in contributions from insurance and pharmaceutical companies, which she accused in 1993 of “price gouging” and “unconscionable profiteering.”

The financial support is an intriguing turn of events for a political figure who became a pariah for many in the health care industry after President Bill Clinton appointed her to head the Task Force on National Health Care Reform. The recommendations spawned by that panel — calling for universal health care, minimum coverage requirements and potential limits on health care spending increases — were derided as “Hillarycare” by opponents and arguably cost Democrats control of the House of Representatives in the 1994 midterm elections.

The rapprochement partly reflects how Mrs. Clinton has moderated her positions from more than a decade ago, proposing legislation to increase Medicare payments or stave off cuts in payments to doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, managed care companies and home health agencies.

She has introduced a bill to lower the cost of malpractice insurance for doctors who disclose medical errors to patients. With strong support from the industry, she has pushed legislation to promote the adoption of health information technology. Providers and consumers praise her efforts to expand insurance coverage for mental health care and to finance long-term care for older Americans living at home.

Mrs. Clinton often disarms health care groups by saying she learned from her past wars. “We tried to do too much too fast 12 years ago, and I still have the scars to show for it,” she said in an address in March before the annual conference of the Federation of American Hospitals.

While some people in the health care industry are still wary of Senator Clinton, many say they see her as the likely next Democratic presidential nominee and are moving to influence her agenda on an issue that polls indicate is of growing concern to voters.

Frederick H. Graefe, a health care lawyer and lobbyist in Washington for more than 20 years, said, “People in many industries, including health care, are contributing to Senator Clinton today because they fully expect she will be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2008.”

“If the usual rules apply,” Mr. Graefe said, early donors will “get a seat at the table when health care and other issues are discussed.”

Tellingly, one of her fund-raisers in the industry is a Republican, William R. Abrams, executive vice president of the Medical Society of the State of New York.

Some Republicans accuse Senator Clinton of political opportunism in courting old foes. Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, questioned the sincerity of Senator Clinton’s new, more pragmatic approach on health care.

“This reveals that Hillary Clinton is a politician more concerned with campaign contributions than policies she claims to support,” Ms. Schmitt said of the senator’s efforts to court the health care industry. In fact, during her 2000 Senate campaign, she sharply criticized her opponent, Rick A. Lazio, as being beholden to the pharmaceutical industry for taking donations from drugmakers.

Kenneth E. Raske, the president of the Greater New York Hospital Association and a Clinton fund-raiser, said the relationship between Mrs. Clinton and some industry leaders got off to a “rocky start” in the early 1990’s. But, he said, many now believe that she was right in what she said about problems plaguing the industry, and think she is in a strong position to take a lead on the issue once again.

“I think right now the issue of health insurance and the worries of the American public about losing insurance are a political gold vein waiting to be tapped,” Mr. Raske said. “You have to think health care is going to be a major issue in ’08.”

Separate analyses by the Center for Responsive Politics, an independent group that tracks campaign finance, and by The New York Times show that Senator Clinton has received $854,462 from the health care industry in 2005-6, a larger amount than any candidate except Senator Santorum, with $977,354. Other industries have opened their wallets to Senator Clinton, a formidable fund-raiser. But none warred with her as the health care industry did.

Contributions to Senator Clinton over the last 18 months include more than $431,000 from doctors and other health care professionals and more than $142,000 from hospitals and nursing homes.

For example, she has received $1,000 from America’s Health Insurance Plans, the main lobby for insurers; $1,000 from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association; $7,770 from Pfizer and its employees; $10,500 from Roche Group and its workers; and a total of $16,000 from three big companies that manage prescription drug benefits under Medicare and private health plans: Caremark Rx, Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions.

While the health care industry was among her top supporters in her 2000 Senate race, the trend has accelerated in 2006 as her political prominence has grown and as she has become an important legislative player on health care issues. With about four months left before Election Day, Senator Clinton has already raised more money in this campaign from the health care industry than she did in her 2000 run.

Senator Clinton has received more money from health care providers than from insurers, in part because she has been more outspoken in support of the providers, while criticizing insurers from time to time. But the fact that she has received tens of thousands of dollars from insurance companies and their employees underscores the shift in their view of her. Beyond that, Mrs. Clinton, a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, has been helpful to insurers in New York, responding to their concern that they were not being adequately paid for their participation in Medicare.

State Senator Kemp Hannon, a Long Island Republican who is chairman of the Health Committee in Albany, expressed surprise at the amount of money that the industry, particularly insurers, had pumped into Senator Clinton’s campaign coffers.

But upon reflection, he said, it makes sense, given that many in the industry regard her as an authority on health care who can help advance the industry’s agenda. “She’s already paid the intellectual dues of struggling to learn the system,” he said.

Some health care providers are giving more money to Republican candidates over all, but they are hedging their bets by donating to Senator Clinton as well.

“Regardless of any future office she may seek, she will be a player on the national scene for as long as she wants to be,” said Mr. Abrams, the executive at the New York medical society.

Last year Mr. Abrams and Mr. Raske, the head of the hospital association in New York, held an event in New York City that raised tens of thousands of dollars for Senator Clinton from dozens of prominent doctors and hospital executives.

Mrs. Clinton has changed her style and toned down criticism of the industry in speeches about health care. But her audiences still see flashes of the old populism.

Speaking to a conference of the American Medical Association in Washington this year, she said, “Money is leaking or even escaping out of the health care system in record profits for pharmaceutical and insurance companies.”

Also, hospital executives now say they welcome Senator Clinton’s attention to the plight of the uninsured — a problem that has severely strained the finances of many hospitals.

Carol A. McDaid, a health care lobbyist in Washington, said she recommended that clients consider making contributions to Mrs. Clinton because the senator had been a champion for health care providers and the people they served.

In the early 1990’s, many health care executives said her proposals would strangle them with red tape and endanger the quality of care.

Mr. Abrams said that Senator Clinton now “understands that change is incremental,” compared with her stance in the 1990’s, when she proposed immediate and sweeping changes.

Of Senator Clinton’s image within the health care industry, Mr. Abrams said, “To the degree skeptics were there, I think she has dispelled any of the skepticism.”

Original here

Ferraro: Obama is lucky he's black

More classiness, from one of Clinton's top surrogates, Geraldine Ferraro.

If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.

Ferraro isn't some unknown lower-level or obscure advisor, but one of her top fundraisers, member of Clinton's finance committee, and a former Democratic vice presidential nominee.

Update: Comment by slatersan:

She's half right

If he were a white man...

the race would be over...

and he'd be the nominee.

Original here

Clinton Remained Silent As Wal-Mart Fought Unions

Tapes Reviewed by ABC News Show Clinton As a Loyal Company Woman


In six years as a member of the Wal-Mart board of directors, between 1986 and 1992, Hillary Clinton remained silent as the world's largest retailer waged a major campaign against labor unions seeking to represent store workers.

Clinton has been endorsed for president by more than a dozen unions, according to her campaign Web site, which omits any reference to her role at Wal-Mart in its detailed biography of her.

Wal-Mart's anti-union efforts were headed by one of Clinton's fellow board members, John Tate, a Wal-Mart executive vice president who also served on the board with Clinton for four of her six years.

Tate was fond of repeating, as he did at a managers meeting in 2004 after his retirement, what he said was his favorite phrase, "Labor unions are nothing but blood-sucking parasites living off the productive labor of people who work for a living."

Wal-Mart says Tate's comments "were his own and do not reflect Wal-Mart's views."

But Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and other company officials often recounted how they relied on Tate to lead the company's successful anti-union efforts.

An ABC News analysis of the videotapes of at least four stockholder meetings where Clinton appeared shows she never once rose to defend the role of American labor unions.

The tapes, broadcast this morning on "Good Morning America," were provided to ABC News from the archives of Flagler Productions, a Lenexa, Kan., company hired by Wal-Mart to record its meetings and events.

A former board member told ABCNews.com that he had no recollection of Clinton defending unions during more than 20 board meetings held in private.

The tapes show Clinton in the role of a loyal company woman. "I'm always proud of Wal-Mart and what we do and the way we do it better than anybody else," she said at a June 1990 stockholders meeting.

Clinton would not agree to be interviewed on the subject but now says she no longer shares Wal-Mart's values and believes unions "have been essential to our nation's success."

The videotapes do show that Clinton used her role to push for more environmentally friendly policies and better treatment of women.

"We've got a very strong-willed young woman on our board now; her name is Hillary," said Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton at a 1987 stockholders meeting in describing Clinton's role in pushing for more women to be hired in management positions.

Critics say Clinton's efforts produced few tangible results, and Wal-Mart is now defending itself in a lawsuit brought by 16 current and former female employees.

"I don't doubt the sincerity of her efforts, but we don't see much evidence that conditions for women at Wal-Mart changed much during the late 1980s and early 1990s," said Joe Sellers, one of the lawyers suing Wal-Mart on behalf of the women.

Wal-Mart declined to comment to ABC News about the lawsuit, but the company has said previously that it is confident it did not discriminate against female employees.

Sen. Clinton has recently sought to distance herself from Wal-Mart.

In a campaign speech last year in New Hampshire, Sen. Clinton said, "Now I know that Wal-Mart's policies do not reflect the best way of doing business and the values that I think are important in America."

Her Senate campaign returned a $5,000 contribution from a Wal-Mart Political Action Committee, although ABCNews.com discovered another $20,000 in contributions from Wal-Mart executives and lobbyists.

Clinton spokesperson Howard Wolfson said, "There is no basis to return" the money.

According to the New York Times, Sen. Clinton "maintains close ties to Wal-Mart executives through the Democratic Party and the tightly knit Arkansas business community." The May 20, 2007 article also reported that her husband, former President Clinton, "speaks frequently to Wal-Mart's current chief executive, H. Lee Scott Jr." and held a private dinner at the Clinton's New York home in July 2006 for him.

President Clinton defended his wife's role on the Wal-Mart board last week after the issue was raised by Sen. Barack Obama in a CNN debate.

His wife did not try to change the company's minds about unions, the former Arkansas governor said.

"We lived in a state that had a very weak labor movement, where I always had the endorsement of the labor movement because I did what I could do to make it stronger. She knew there was no way she could change that, not with it headquartered in Arkansas, and she agreed to serve," President Clinton said.

In a written statement, Clinton spokesperson Wolfson said, "As President, she will fight alongside labor to promote the economic growth of America's middle class." He said Clinton strongly believes Wal-Mart workers should be able to unionize and bargain collectively.

He did not directly respond when asked why she did not quit the board over the conpany's anti-union efforts. "Wal-Mart was Arkansas's largest employer when Sam Walton asked Sen. Clinton to join the board," he said. "As the first woman to join Wal-Mart's board, she worked hard to make it a better corporate citizen."

In its statement, Wal-Mart described Sen. Clinton as "a valuable contributor" who "pushed us to be a better company."

Original here

Vermont towns vote to arrest Bush and Cheney

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Voters in two Vermont towns on Tuesday approved a measure that would instruct police to arrest President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for "crimes against our Constitution," local media reported.

The nonbinding, symbolic measure, passed in Brattleboro and Marlboro in a state known for taking liberal positions on national issues, instructs town police to "extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them."

Vermont, home to maple syrup and picture-postcard views, is known for its liberal politics.

State lawmakers have passed nonbinding resolutions to end the war in Iraq and impeach Bush and Cheney, and several towns have also passed resolutions of impeachment. None of them have caught on in Washington.

Bush has never visited the state as president, though he has spent vacations at his family compound in nearby Maine.

Roughly 12,000 people live in Brattleboro, located on the Connecticut River in the state's southeastern corner. Nearby Marlboro has a population of roughly 1,000.

(Writing by Andy Sullivan, editing by David Wiessler)

Original here

Lawmaker's attempt to criminalize anonymous posting doomed

Kentucky lawmaker Tim Couch has proposed a bill that would criminalize anonymous Internet posting. Web site and forum operators would be forced to collect and publicly disclose identifying information about all of the visitors who post content on their sites. Failing to do so would lead to a fine of $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.

The bill, which extends Chapter 369 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes, would mandate collection of the complete name, mailing address, and e-mail address of all visitors who post Internet content. Web sites would have to display names next to all relevant content and establish procedures that enable anyone to obtain the rest of the information. The bill stipulates that mailing address and e-mail address only have to be supplied to supplicants in cases where someone has posted "false or defamatory" information.

Case law has unambiguously established that state regulation of the Internet constitutes a violation of the Commerce Clause. Couch's proposal also likely falls afoul of the Constitutionally-guaranteed right to freedom of speech. If passed, Couch's proposal would be doomed to a swift demise in the courts. In addition to serious legal obstacles, Couch's bill would also face insurmountable implementation challenges. Web site operators have no means with which to validate the identification information they receive from users or guarantee its accuracy. If it were even legally permissible, a state-wide ban on anonymous posting would have little impact because it would not be enforceable against web sites outside of the state of Kentucky. Indeed, such a law would likely compel site operators to move their web sites out of Kentucky.

Finally, the proposal itself is ideologically antithetical to American culture and values. Anonymous publication is a time-honored tradition that has figured prominently in America's literary and political landscape. Early American political philosophy was heavily influenced by Thomas Paine's anonymous pamphlet Common Sense, and by Cato's Letters, which were anonymously published by British writers John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon. Some of America's greatest literary works have also been published under pseudonyms—for instance the works of Mark Twain, who we know today as Samuel Clemens.

Couch—who says that he has been the victim of anonymous Internet criticism himself—acknowledges that the bill is probably unconstitutional and claims that his goal is to draw attention to Internet bullying, which he says is a serious concern for many young people in his district. He does not intend to rally support for the proposal. "I think right now (online posting) is pretty much just on its own. It's a machine that's going to go its own way," Couch told the Lexington Herald-Leader. "The state can try to pass some rules, but I don't really think it would do anything."

Proposing an inane, unconstitutional, and unenforceable law seems like a poor way to raise awareness of an issue. It looks like Couch needs some remedial education in civics and constitutional law, and I'm sure plenty of anonymous critics on the Internet will have similar opinions to share.

Origianl here

NSA quietly expands domestic spying program, even as Congress balks

"The central role the NSA has come to occupy in domestic intelligence gathering has never been publicly disclosed," The Wall Street Journal's Siobhan Gorman reports on Monday page ones. "But an inquiry reveals that its efforts have evolved to reach more broadly into data about people's communications, travel and finances in the U.S. than the domestic surveillance programs brought to light since the 2001 terrorist attacks."

"According to current and former intelligence officials, the spy agency now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic emails and Internet searches as well as bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel and telephone records," Gorman adds. "The NSA receives this so-called 'transactional' data from other agencies or private companies, and its sophisticated software programs analyze the various transactions for suspicious patterns. Then they spit out leads to be explored by counterterrorism programs across the U.S. government, such as the NSA's own Terrorist Surveillance Program, formed to intercept phone calls and emails between the U.S. and overseas without a judge's approval when a link to al Qaeda is suspected."

"The NSA's enterprise involves a cluster of powerful intelligence-gathering programs, all of which sparked civil-liberties complaints when they came to light," he continues. "They include a Federal Bureau of Investigation program to track telecommunications data once known as Carnivore, now called the Digital Collection System, and a U.S. arrangement with the world's main international banking clearinghouse to track money movements."

Excerpts follow:


The effort also ties into data from an ad-hoc collection of so-called "black programs" whose existence is undisclosed, the current and former officials say. Many of the programs in various agencies began years before the 9/11 attacks but have since been given greater reach. Among them, current and former intelligence officials say, is a longstanding Treasury Department program to collect individual financial data including wire transfers and credit-card transactions.

...

Two former officials familiar with the data-sifting efforts said they work by starting with some sort of lead, like a phone number or Internet address. In partnership with the FBI, the systems then can track all domestic and foreign transactions of people associated with that item -- and then the people who associated with them, and so on, casting a gradually wider net. An intelligence official described more of a rapid-response effect: If a person suspected of terrorist connections is believed to be in a U.S. city -- for instance, Detroit, a community with a high concentration of Muslim Americans -- the government's spy systems may be directed to collect and analyze all electronic communications into and out of the city.

The information doesn't generally include the contents of conversations or emails. But it can give such transactional information as a cellphone's location, whom a person is calling, and what Web sites he or she is visiting. For an email, the data haul can include the identities of the sender and recipient and the subject line, but not the content of the message.

...

Two current officials also said the NSA's current combination of programs now largely mirrors the former TIA project. But the NSA offers less privacy protection. TIA developers researched ways to limit the use of the system for broad searches of individuals' data, such as requiring intelligence officers to get leads from other sources first. The NSA effort lacks those controls, as well as controls that it developed in the 1990s for an earlier data-sweeping attempt.

...

NSA gets access to the flow of data from telecommunications switches through the FBI, according to current and former officials. It also has a partnership with FBI's Digital Collection system, providing access to Internet providers and other companies. The existence of a shadow hub to copy information about AT&T Corp. telecommunications in San Francisco is alleged in a lawsuit against AT&T filed by the civil-liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation, based on documents provided by a former AT&T official. In that lawsuit, a former technology adviser to the Federal Communications Commission says in a sworn declaration that there could be 15 to 20 such operations around the country. Current and former intelligence officials confirmed a domestic network of hubs, but didn't know the number. "As a matter of policy and law, we can not discuss matters that are classified," said FBI spokesman John Miller.

The budget for the NSA's data-sifting effort is classified, but one official estimated it surpasses $1 billion. The FBI is requesting to nearly double the budget for the Digital Collection System in 2009, compared with last year, requesting $42 million. "Not only do demands for information continue to increase, but also the requirement to facilitate information sharing does," says a budget justification document, noting an "expansion of electronic surveillance activity in frequency, sophistication, and linguistic needs."

Original here

Rove taunted at University of Iowa

Rove spoke at the University of Iowa Sunday.

(CNN) — Former top Bush aide Karl Rove didn't get the friendliest of receptions at the University of Iowa Sunday, CNN affiliate KCRG reports.

Rove, who was paid $40,000 to speak at the University, was confronted with an at-times hostile crowd of 1,000, and was interrupted on several occasions.

At one point during the speech, Rove reportedly lashed out at some of the students, saying, "You got a chance to ask your questions later and make your stupid statements, let me make mine."

Police also were forced to remove two people after they tried to perform a citizen’s arrest on Rove for what they said were his crimes while a member of the Bush Administration.

At one point, a person asked Rove if he has ever shed a tear over the war in Iraq.

"I shed a lot of tears and I have been inspired by many of the people who feel their son or daughter should not have to die in vain," he replied.

Toward the end of the speech a member of the crowd yelled, "Can we have our $40,000 back?"

Rove replied, “No, you can't.”

Radio Iowa also reports one audience member told Rove that MSNBC's Keith Olbermann named him the "worst person ever."

"Ever?" Rove joked. "Yea, worse than Hitler, worse than Stalin, worse than Mao and worse than the person who introduced aluminum baseball bats."

Cameras were only allowed to film the beginning of the speech.

Original here