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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

If Hillary Clinton Can’t Run A Campaign Then How Can She Run A Country?


Two weeks hence, the results of the all-important Pennsylvania primary will be in and poor Hillary Clinton will have to once again put those big goalposts on her itty-bitty shoulders and carry them on to the next round of primaries.

Yup, I’ve given up on Clinton having the sense to gracefully bow out because she is neither graceful nor a bower outer although she will not have the pledged delegates, superdelegates and popular votes to wrest the nomination from Barack Obama.

Pennsylvania will only widen the gap.

I am the rare soul who predicts that Obama will squeeze by Clinton in Pennsylvania, yet another state seemingly tailor made for her. Most of the latest polls tend to back me up as she ham-handedly deals with a crisis affecting her labor union supporters of her own making and other core constituents dribble away from her in large enough numbers that she appears to have no chance of scoring a decisive win. The only question is how narrow the margin of her victory — or defeat — is.

Lost in the daily Sturm und Drang is that Clinton has never broken 45 percent in the national polls even as John Edwards and other candidates before him dropped out. She ended up losing Texas and might have lost Ohio as well had she not done some fancy footwork concerning NAFTA (more about that later), while the negative campaigning of Angry Bill Clinton and other surrogates have had the result of covering herself in more mud than Obama.

Which begs a very big question: If Clinton can’t even run a successful campaign with all of her built-in advantages, how can she be expected to successfully run a campaign against John McCain, let alone run the US of A?

It’s not just that her campaign got off on the wrong foot in building an imperious top-down operation that disdained the hard work of grassroots organizing and positioned her as the experienced insider who deserved the nomination with no thought given to how she might try to earn it. It’s that three months after Barack Obama threw a monkey wrench into the works by winning the Iowa caucuses, Clinton’s campaign continues to be her own worst enemy.

The campaign has been unable to shift gears as Obama has caught up to and passed Clinton, and has suffered one distracting crisis after another, most recently the semi-dismissal of campaign strategist Mark Penn after Clinton finally was tripped up on the free-trade deceit that she had used to such good effect in blue-collar Ohio.

Fast forward to blue-collar Pennsylvania where a coalition of labor unions called her out on her claim that she opposed a bilateral U.S.-Colombia trade agreement while Penn was meeting with the Colombian ambassador to seal the deal.

Penn’s tandem roles as Clinton’s wise man and chief executive of Burson-Marsteller, the global public relations firm, is not merely a conflict of interest. It is a window into who Clinton really is once you scrape away the tight-lipped smile and mascara.

Let’s get beyond Penn’s personal negatives, which include an overweening arrogance, being a crass manipulator and a legendary abuser, including throwing things at people. Chinese take-out food is said to be a favorite.

Can you imagine Obama choosing as his key campaign operative a man whose firm represents Dow Chemical, Countrywide Financial and Blackwater Worldwide, among other pillars of corporate arrogance, as well as specializes in union busting?

Of course you can’t. But it never occurred to Clinton that Penn is viewed by many people as a corporate shill and poster boy for much of what is wrong with the country she wants so desperately to lead. All that mattered to Clinton and her husband was that Penn was unflinchingly loyal; a trait a certain sitting president values above all others.

So loyal that her public statements that Penn is no longer with the campaign are demonstrably false and keeping him on board would seem to be more important than hanging onto blue-collar support in a state that like Ohio is bleeding jobs because of, in part, sweetheart deals with countries like Colombia.

I have some reservations about whether Barack Obama is big enough for the job and will discuss them at length when the Democratic slugfest is finally over.

But I do know that Hillary Clinton is committed to the very kind of inside deal making and principle-free politics that have allowed the upstart freshman senator from Illinois to have her for lunch in state after state — and now possibly Pennsylvania, as well.

Original here

How Hillary lost my vote


I really wanted you to be the Democratic candidate and the next president of the United States.

In order to do that, I needed you to be the person I felt you were capable of being. I knew you were smart, funny and kind to your friends and family - I wanted you to demonstrate fairer play in the political arena.

I identified with you because we have some very important things in common.

I, too, am a baby boomer who came of age when women were just starting to enter the professions. I didn't know how I was going to do it, but, like you and so many others, I believed I had the ability, motivation and the perseverance to be successful.

It has never been easy.

Like so many women in our generation, I was often blindsided by the condescension of men toward women, regardless of our credentials (and theirs!) simply on the basis of gender.

Like you, my father and grandparents were from Scranton, and I spent many days there as a child.

Martha's Vineyard is also my favorite vacation spot. I've been visiting for the better part of 25 years and would own a home there . . . if I won the Powerball.

I know that despite all my educational and professional accomplishments, my proudest achievements are my two wonderful daughters. Chelsea is clearly yours, too. They always knew they came first, as did yours, I'm sure.

From what I can tell, you are an outstanding mother. When I took my older daughter to college, I tried to help her unpack, and as she shooed me out the door, I said, "But Hillary got to help when Chelsea went to Stanford!"

I believed you had a marriage that made sense to you, even if it didn't to anyone else. I have been a couples therapist for 30 years, and I know that marriages are incredibly complex. Every marriage, even a public one, is composed of very private spheres.

No one, not even a therapist who hears the most confidential information, can know the relationship exactly as it is for the people inside it.

A marriage is more than a love relationship - running a family is like running a business. There are products and services that must be managed, and that's not always sexy. At the time most people get married (at least for the first time), they believe that love and romance are enough . . . but they aren't.

It's hard to keep the vow of "for better or for worse" when it gets really bad, but you have - and I'm sure you've agonized over it. But I admire you for your commitment. I've been married for 28 years - and have the scars to prove it.

I believe you are a person of faith. Unlike some politicians who merely cloak themselves in a vague religiosity, you apparently regularly attend services and are a member of a bipartisan Bible group.

I admire your capacity for pragmatic diplomacy. Once you became a senator, you reached across the aisle to GOP members, even though some were especially vile to you and your husband during his presidency.

I DIDN'T HOLD YOUR vote on the Iraq war against you.

If you'd had all the information then that we have now, perhaps you wouldn't have.

If you had voted against it, would you have been able to have a seat at the table with the big boys or been derided as a weak sister who didn't have enough patriotism to put country ahead of politics?

I think it was a no-win situation at the time, and seems only clearer in hindsight.

I believe you felt you could outrun all the boys in this race - if the others were Joe Biden, Bill Richardson and Chris Dodd.

You were blindsided by Barack Obama - and felt he needed more seasoning, that it wasn't "his turn." And I stayed with you, rooted for you (even though I've admired Obama for four years).

Perhaps I could have continued to hold on, if only you'd stayed on the moral high ground and told the truth.

I don't expect politicians to deliver on all their initiatives. You are a policy wonk, in a way that - even with all my education - I'm not. I don't expect to ever read or understand every detail in your health-care plan. But I'm almost as old as you, and I know that initiatives don't necessarily translate into law, that politicians have to cut deals or they will get nothing done.

I thought it was unfair that likability was considered so much more important in a president than brains. Perhaps I'd enjoy a barbecue at the ranch with President Bush, but what would we talk about? I need someone who can, at least occasionally, use three-syllable words accurately.

To a great extent, I have to vote for the person of greater integrity, who will try to do the right thing most of the time - and I've lost faith in you. You finally lost me at Bosnia. Your claim to have been there during active hostilities has been roundly disproved, and your explanation that you misspoke or were too tired is, at best, lame.

And I'm sad. I wanted you to be what I think is the best part of you.

But, perhaps even more than that, I don't want John McCain. Don't get me wrong, I wish he (or anyone) had beaten Bush in 2000.

But after eight years of ineptitude, lack of moral rectitude and incompetence, I can't think of any reason that a Republican who has cuddled often enough with the Bush administration should be allowed to continue its missteps.

I will cast my vote in the primary for Obama, and hope that, while not perfect, he can unite the red and the blue into a purple nation.

I tried, Hillary. I just wish

you had fulfilled your incredible potential. *

Ann Rosen Spector is a Center City psychologist and an adjunct member of the Psychology Department at Rutgers-Camden.

Original here

New Book: McCain Once Physically Attacked Fellow Congressman

UPDATE: McCain has responded to the report below. Watch the video here.

* * *

Appearing on Fox News this past Sunday, Sen. John McCain attempted to turn his infamously combustible temper from an electoral liability into political strength.

"If I lose my capacity for anger, then I shouldn't be president of the United States," the Senator explained to host Chris Wallace. "When I see the waste and corruption in Washington, I get angry."

But how much of McCain's legendary anger streak does the public actually know? Judging from snippets of Cliff Schecter's new book "The Real McCain" - an advanced copy of which was obtained by the Huffington Post - the answer may be surprisingly little.

Take for instance the verbal-turned-physical attack McCain put on his fellow Arizona Republican, Rick Renzi, which Schecter uncovered through his research:

Perhaps the most remarkable story of McCain's temper involved Arizona Congressman Rick Renzi. Two former reporters covering McCain, one who witnessed the following events and one who confirmed the facts provided by the first, relayed it to me as follows: In 2006, the Arizona Republican congressional delegation had a strategy meeting. McCain repeatedly addressed two new members, congressmen Trent Franks and Rick Renzi, as 'boy.' Finally, Renzi, a former college linebacker, rose from his chair and said to McCain, "You call me that one more time and I'll kick your old ass." McCain lunged at Renzi, punches were thrown, and the two had to be physically separated. After they went to their separate offices, McCain called Renzi and demanded an apology. Renzi refused. Apparently this posture made McCain admire him, as they became fast friends.

2008-04-08-realmccain.jpgThe anecdote comes with the caveat that the sources -- in this instance, two reporters -- have insisted on anonymity and that no one reported on this story at the time when it occurred. Matt Yglesias touched on this issue in a blog post today.

That said, the episode fits into McCain's history of similarly explosive behavior. As Washingtonian magazine documented (and Schecter notes in the book), McCain once "scuffled" with the Senate's then oldest member, Strom Thurmond, during a Senate Armed Service Committee hearing in January 1995. Three years later, the Associated Press article reported that McCain dropped F-Bombs on at least three fellow Republicans.

"I'm calling you a f------ jerk!" he once retorted to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.

And in a opinion piece last year on, Sidney Blumenthal, now an adviser to Sen. Hillary Clinton, wrote that McCain once told Sen. Ted Kennedy to "shut up" on the Senate Floor, referred to a fellow Republican as a "shit head" and offered a downright vicious and doubly-offensive joke in 1998 Republican fundraiser about then first daughter Chelsea Clinton.

"Do you know why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly?" he asked. "Because Janet Reno is her father."

On Monday, moreover, the website Raw Story obtained a separate anecdote from Schecter's book, in which McCain berated his wife in the full view of aides and reporters during a 1992 campaign stop.

Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain's intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." McCain's excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.

Original here

Which Democrat Has the Administrative Experience to Be An Effective President? Compare How Well They've Managed Their Campaigns

None of the presidential candidates has experience managing a large executive branch agency or serving as governor. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain have all served as legislators, but never in executive office.

The largest organization any of them have led is their respective campaigns. So if you want to learn something about how well they will manage the people in their administrations, you can learn a lot by seeing how well they have managed the people in their campaign organizations.

In this department, the race is not even close. Barack Obama has proved himself a much more capable executive and leader than Hillary Clinton -- despite her claim of superior "experience."

The weekend saw yet another eruption of organizational dysfunction in the House of Hillary. Mark Penn's demotion from the post of chief strategist capped months of organizational in-fighting that has apparently turned the Clinton campaign into a latter-day Beirut-on-the-Potomac.

Of course you have to question Hillary Clinton's judgment for entrusting Penn with the position of her chief strategist while she allowed him to continue as chairman of one of the world's largest special interest PR and lobbying firms (Burston-Marsteller). And the arrogance of Penn's attempt to manage the effort to enact the Colombia Free Trade Agreement at the same time he oversaw the campaign of a presidential candidate that opposed the agreement is breathtaking.

But Penn's demotion is apparently just a symptom of a broader organizational disease. The Clinton campaign has been marked by discord and disorganization. Campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle and deputy campaign manager Mike Henry have been forced out. The campaign had no "Plan B" when it failed to score a knock-out punch on Super Tuesday. The poor planning has led to money shortages, big payments to consultants and the failure to effectively compete in many of the smaller states where Obama has run up his insurmountable lead in pledged delegates.

Penn's mismanagement and brusque management style have infuriated other key campaign staffers and led to sinking morale.

But in the end, the buck stopped with the campaign's leader, Hillary Clinton, who showed that she either had no desire or lacked the ability to put together a well-managed, effective campaign organization.

Contrast the Clinton campaign's organizational debacle to the focused, mission-driven, high-morale Obama operation.

Campaign manager David Plouffe, chief strategist David Axelrod, and deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand have been effective managers, and cool under fire. They've assembled a team of dedicated professionals like Iowa state director Paul Tewes who executed at every level with precision, and who didn't leave even a pebble unturned in pursuing victory. The Iowa operation, for example, was the best field operation in modern presidential politics.

They understood how to combine Barack's inspiration with flawless, no-nonsense execution. They planned for the long game, learned from their mistakes and maintained a team spirit that had no room for internal recriminations or backstabbing. Obama's campaign is loaded with innovative talent of the sort that created the most effective grassroots-based, internet fundraising system in American political history.

Even in its darkest moments the Obama organization has never resorted to the kind of desperate "kitchen sink" negativism that has now backfired on the Clinton campaign.

Now I ask you: which candidate has shown the ability and experience to lead and manage a large organization like a presidential administration?

Barack Obama has won the most states, the popular vote and the most pledged delegates. He's also won the contest of who is the better leader and manager.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist and author of the recent book: "Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win," available on

Original here

The Troops Like Obama

PFC Jeremy Slate said he supported Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., because of his stated intention to pull out of Iraq right away.

"That would be nice," Slate said, "I'd like to be home, yea."

SFC Patricia Keller also expressed support for Obama, citing his representation for change.


Spc. Imus Loto said he supported Obama. "It will be something different. But he's out there and he'll probably support us a lot more."


Spc. Joseph Lindsesdt, who is from Alaska, said he was watching for consistency of the candidates' views. "The steadiness of the candidate, whether they've changed their views, constantly, over time, or with political wind, as I like to put it."

To that end, Lindsesdt's pick is Obama. "The fact that he's followed his views, regardless of what they have been [sic] and whether I've agreed with them or not, sometimes. But he's been steady the entire way."

When asked if he was concerned about criticism that Obama had less political experience than some of the other candidates, the battle-weary soldier replied, "No, I think being a decent leader doesn't have to do anything with experience much."

This article suggests that Obama is the overwhelming pick of the military. Of course to be fair, I'm not sure how widespread it is. But I think the preconceived notion that since the military is arguable more conservative they will go with McCain might not be accurate. I assume a lot of the soldiers over there don't want this war to continue for an indefinite time period. I've been critical of Democrats who have jumped on McCain's 100 years comment because I don't think that's what he meant, but regardless, we do know that with McCain as president there is almost a guarantee that this war will continue for quite some time. I'm skeptical that both of the Democrats in this race will bring the troops home as quickly as they say they will, but it will be a lot sooner than McCain, that's for sure. Those in the military understand this.

Original here

Hillary says Memphis National Champ Despite KU Having More Points

In a move that's sure to be seen as controversial, Hillary has contacted the NCAA Board of Directors to argue that Memphis is actually better qualified to be National Champion.

Ms. Clinton stated that Memphis, while losing the game, had actually shown more ability to act like a National Champion on Day One. She argued that Memphis had passed every test during the game, including scoring more points than Kansas for 38 minutes. For 38 minutes they had shown the experience necessary to be National Champion. "Just because some team comes along in the last minute and scores more points than the other guy doesn't mean they're necessarily able to be National Champion on Day One."

Ms. Clinton further stated that Memphis should've won the game had Derrick Rose's second half three pointer been allowed to count. Instead, it was ruled a two after review by the officials. His foot was clearly inside the line. Memphis coach John Calipari said he would ask that the rule allowing monitor review of shots be changed after this season. Hillary said she seconded that, and pointed out had Memphis been allowed to count a three that wasn't really a three they would've won. "It doesn't matter what the rules of the game are before it starts. What matters is how we change the rules after the game so we can have the winner we want."

Kansas, for its part, had this to say to Hillary: "Barack Chalk Jayhawk!"

Congratulations Jayhawks! National Champions!

Original here

Louisiana Lawmakers Consider Castration for Sex Offenders

BATON ROUGE, La. — Castration could be a sentencing option for some sex offenders in Louisiana under a bill approved by a state Senate judiciary committee.

The bill by Senator Nick Gautreaux, an Abbeville Democrat, requires a judge to order treatment for certain second-offense sex criminals with a specific drug designed to diminish male sexual urges — if a medical expert agrees that the treatment would be effective.

An offender who doesn't want the treatment could opt for physical castration. Gautreaux says some offenders may indeed want castration in hopes of avoiding the drug's side effects or permanently ending the sexual urges that led to their crimes. His bill goes next to the full Senate.

Original here

Documents prove FBI spying tracks emails, cell phones, IMs

FBI also spies on home soil for military, documents show; Much information acquired without court order

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been routinely monitoring the e-mails, instant messages and cell phone calls of suspects across the United States -- and has done so, in many cases, without the approval of a court.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act and given to the Washington Post -- which stuck the story on page three -- show that the FBI's massive dragnet, connected to the backends of telecommunications carriers, "allows authorized FBI agents and analysts, with point-and-click ease, to receive e-mails, instant messages, cellphone calls and other communications that tell them not only what a suspect is saying, but where he is and where he has been, depending on the wording of a court order or a government directive," the Post says.

But agents don't need a court order to track to track the senders and recipients names, or how long calls or email exchanges lasted. These can be obtained simply by showing it's "relevant" to a probe.

RAW STORY has placed a request to the Electronic Frontier Foundation for the new documents, and will post them upon receipt.

Some transactional data is obtained using National Security Letters. The Justice Department says use of these letters has risen from 8,500 in 2000 to 47,000 in 2005, according to the Post.

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union released letters showing that the Pentagon is using the FBI to skirt legal restrictions on domestic surveillance.

Documents show the FBI has obtained the private records of Americans' Internet service providers, financial institutions and telephone companies, for the military, according to more than 1,000 Pentagon documents reviewed by the ACLU -- also using National Security Letters, without a court order.

The new revelations show definitively that telecommunications companies can transfer "with the click of a mouse, instantly transfer key data along a computer circuit to an FBI technology office in Quantico" upon request.

A telecom whistleblower, in an affidavit, has said he help maintain a high-speed DS-3 digital line referred to in house as the "Quantico circuit," which allowed an outside organization "unfettered" access to the the carrier's wireless network.

The network he's speaking of? Verizon.

Verizon denies the allegations vaguely, saying "no government agency has open access to the company's networks through electronic circuits."

The Justice Department downplayed the new documents.

A spokesman told the Post that the US is asking only for "information at the beginning and end of a communication, and for information "reasonably available" by the network.

The FBI's budget for says the collection system increased from $30 million in 2007 to $40 million in 2008, the paper said.

Original here