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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Noteworthy Political Scientist Says Clinton Was For Characterization Of Working-Class Voters Before She Was Against It

Oh, noes! Would it crush anyone's beautiful velveteen pony to learn that Hillary Clinton hasn't always been a duck-hunting, beer-drankin', Senator-Saint who walked among the commoners and lived as they do? It's true, it's true, and apparently, there are witnesses!

Harvard University political scientist Theda Skocpol - also an elite, I guess! - provided Talking Points Memo with a following statement, which, in part, reads:

I have been in meetings with the Clintons and their advisors where very clinical things were said in a very-detached tone about unwillingness of working class voters to trust government -- and Bill Clinton -- and about their unfortunate (from a Clinton perspective) proclivity to vote on life-style rather than economic issues. To see Hillary going absolutely over the top to smash Obama for making clearly more humanly sympathetic observations in this vein, is just amazing. Even more so to see her pretending to be a gun-toting non-elite. Give us a break!...

This has to be one of the few times in U.S. political history when a multi-millionaire has accused a much less wealthy fellow public servant, a person of the same party and views who made much less lucrative career choices, of "elitism"! (I won't say the only time, because U.S. political history is full of absurdities of this sort.) In a way, it is funny -- and it may not be long before the jokes start.

Perhaps, however, it can be said that Pennsylvanians are not "bitter," at least, relative to their candidates.

[hat tip: to Isabel]

Original here

Barack Obama in Steelton, PA


From NBC/NJ's Carrie Dann
GOLDSBORO, NC -- As is evident from political journalists' email boxes today, the Clinton campaign appears to believe it's found a silver bullet -- served with a side of brie and chardonnay -- in Obama's recent controversial comments.

On the same day that Obama's opponents keep their eyes peeled for outrage from small-town America, Bill Clinton is doing a marathon six-stop campaign day in rural eastern North Carolina, a swing billed by one supporter as a "Barbeque Tour."

But the issue doesn't seem to be sticking. Clinton himself has been silent on the issue. But at the first two events of the day, the campaign has sent one of Carolina's hometown boys out to push the issue before Clinton takes the stage. Tom Hendrickson, a Clinton supporter and former Democratic Party chairman, included a reading of Obama's comments in his introduction of Clinton.

"Senator Obama, don't pity us and think that we're bitter and frustrated," he said in Winterville this morning. "We are hard-working family folks who are smart, and we get it. We don't need pundits to tell us what to think."

Hendrickson repeated the sentiment at a later stop in Winston, but dropped the direct mention of Obama as the source of the quote.

In both instances, Hendrickson's speech evidenced little reaction from the crowd, which had been waiting for the main event for over an hour, and appeared to have little tolerance for a parade of surrogates.

By the third stop of the day in Goldsboro, Hendrickson did not even take the stage.

In Goldsboro, close observers noticed a (light) smattering of stickers being worn by attendees. "I'm not bitter!" read the simple rectangular label on the lapels of a couple dozen in the crowd. The campaign says that the stickers are evidence of outrage at the grassroots level.

Yet it's unclear how spontaneous the sentiment was. A boxful of the stickers was spotted at Clinton's first event of the day -- being whisked backstage.

*** UPDATE *** The Clinton campaign in NC takes responsibility for the stickers, per a campaign aide, but says that the idea originally came from a volunteer.

Stickers have been distributed by volunteers -- given a "green light" by staff -- at four of Bill Clinton's events yesterday.

Original here

Obama's Words about "Bitter" Workers, Guns, and Religion: No Big Deal

Barack Obama has been receiving considerable flack about this statement made earlier in the week - "It's not surprising then they [economically hard-pressed workers] get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." Hillary Clinton and John McCain have gleefully called such words "elitist," Obama has regretted and clarified them, and the media have been having their customary field day, ever on the lookout for a possible slip by a major contender.

You know what I think? It's no big deal.

Why should working families having trouble making ends meet take offense at a Presidential candidate recognizing that they may be feeling bitter? That's a normal human reaction, and ignoring or denying it - as Clinton and McCain are doing - is plain hypocrisy.

What about the linking of religion to this? Well, I thought that was supposed to be one of the social purposes of religion - giving solace and comfort to people who may be frustrated for whatever reason. How is what Obama said an insult?

And the reference to guns? As any psychologist will tell you, feelings of powerless can indeed sometimes lead to violent fantasies - and realities. (Not videogames, by the way, and not television - but real life frustration.) So in what way was Obama so wrong to make this point?

All in all, this is another tempest in the teapot, stirred by Obama's opponents and happily carried by the media.

You know what else?

I think the workers of America - including Pennsylvania - are far too bright to fall for this.

Original here

Obama's vision is reason to nominate him

Pennsylvania's Democratic voters on April 22 will choose between two candidates in the presidential primary. Both are qualified to become the nation's chief executive. They have more similarities than differences. But, The Morning Call recommends that Sen. Barack Obama be nominated, and we offer three reasons.

The first is the quality of his campaign. It has surprised the experts by moving him close to the finish line against bigger, more established political machines and it has communicated his basic ideas well.

The second is his message of hope and change. It conveys a vision of the nation's future that is in tune with the tenor and consensus of most Americans.

And third, and most important for the Democratic Party at this moment in history, there is Sen. Obama's ability to inspire.

The other Democratic candidate on the ballot here, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, has focused their criticism on Sen. Obama's relatively short resume. But there is nothing naive or amateurish about the campaign he has assembled. We wish he (and Sen. Clinton) had paid more attention to the Lehigh Valley, of course. It is Pennsylvania's third-biggest metropolitan area and it deserves better than one visit by him and zero by Sen. Clinton this deep into the campaign.

But, he has done a good job of building a Pennsylvania organization. It has had to climb a steep hill, given that Sen. Clinton has the biggest share of high-profile Democratic officials' endorsements. Using the Internet, e-mail and old-fashioned storefront headquarters, he continues to build a corps of supporters here. And, at least so far, his has done a better job than the Clinton campaign of keeping the campaign positive.

In fact, while both candidates are members of the same U.S. Senate, Sen. Obama is the one who has distinguished himself as the better agent for changing Washington. Remember, on the issues, the differences between the Obama and Clinton platforms are thin or non-existent. He has set himself apart by enunciating a vision of a different America, one that people recognize as resting on the nation's founding principles. His vision calls upon ''the better angels of our nature'' just as Abraham Lincoln did in 1861.

Sen. Obama offers that vision to a nation that, like President Lincoln's, is divided. It is not about to set out on a literal civil war, but Republican and Democrat, young and old, conservative and liberal have much to fight about and are at each other's throats with little provocation. Finding common ground is the key, and Sen. Obama is better able to do that than Sen. Clinton. She has become a polarizing figure, an image that stems in part from the bitter partisanship of Washington during President Bill Clinton's administration. It was not for nothing that the journalist James B. Stewart called his book about the politics of those years ''Blood Sport.'' That rancor was not primarily Hillary Clinton's fault, but it is real, it persists, and her campaign so far has not dealt effectively with quelling it.

Then, there is his ability to inspire. It starts with his unmatched oratorical skills. His speech in Philadelphia on March 18 about race in America will join the greatest speeches in this nation's history in future textbooks on that topic. The combination of his scholarship, career experience and personal style leaves listeners at first rapt and then inspired. His oratory soars because he has a desire to listen to and represent all Americans -- the ''vision thing'' as President George H.W. Bush once called it. Sen. Clinton, by contrast, too often just sounds like a partisan, and that isn't change.

Sen. Clinton has made much of her ''ability to lead'' on day one in the Oval Office. Past experience like hers is one thing, but leadership also depends on having a vision, plans to pursue that vision, and an ability to inspire others to follow. On those grounds, Sen. Barack Obama is well-suited to lead, and The Morning Call recommends his nomination in the Democratic primary.

Original here

Barack Obama, for leadership

All of the myriad issues facing the next president of the United States coalesce into a single question: Who can best lead?

For Pennsylvania Democrats, the best answer in the April 22 primary is Barack Obama.

In a nomination campaign that has defied convention, Mr. Obama has energized an entire generation of voters that, for the most part, otherwise had checked out of political participation. That, at least, portends a new approach to governance that can help to dissipate the political miasma that has engulfed Washington at least since the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is an extremely talented politician who already has secured a unique place in U.S. political history. She repeatedly has proved her political death notices to be premature. She also has demonstrated that she is a master of public policy. And — this is not and should not be taken lightly in an area that prides itself on family and a tradition of supporting its own — the Rodham family has deep Scranton roots.

But Mrs. Clinton also is a political lightning rod. There is little doubt that a second Clinton presidency would further the deep divisiveness that characterizes American politics — a divisiveness that dug itself deep during the Clinton presidency, and even deeper during the Bush-Cheney years.

The first task for the next president is to get past that. And it might not be possible if the presidential cycle goes Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton.

In a sense, Mr. Obama’s clear lead in the national race itself is proof of a changing party and a changing electorate. A generation ago, it would have been inconceivable for two history-making candidates — either the first African-American or first woman to be a major-party presidential nominee — to be locked in a nomination battle this late in the game. Party leaders simply would not have allowed it, and Mr. Obama would have had to “wait his turn.”

Mr. Obama decided not to wait his turn, however, and neither have Democratic voters. Democratic registration and voter turnout have soared in most of the states where he has been in play, including in Pennsylvania.

Mrs. Clinton has dismissed much of what Mr. Obama has had to say as “just words.” But they are words that millions find inspirational. Therefore, they are words that can be translated into action.

On policy matters, there are more similarities than differences between the candidates. The real difference lies in their likely ability to build the consensus needed to realize their vision. The advantage, in that regard, clearly lies with Mr. Obama.

Original here

Hillary Is Like The Annoying Contact Lens Stuck In My Eye

11 Responses to “Hillary Is Like The Annoying Contact Lens Stuck In My Eye”

  1. John Dewey theorized that taste is not inherited, but rather develops through experience. I was born, however, with a taste for barbecue and truth (of which a well smoked spare rib is an obvious instantiation). Truth is better than lies—that much I did learn from experience. In fiction, lies are alluring and exciting and their tellers are the masters of situations they control with their lies. But in real life, lies are unutterably banal, little or giant nothings that spring from weakness, not strength.

    Hillary has become especially hard to take because she can’t get what she wants without lying a lot, and nobody any longer believes a thing she says. It would help were she as good a liar as her nominal husband is, but even Bill Clinton can’t lie like a Clinton any longer. Even the price of Clintons in China has gone through the floor.

    Please Satan, god of politics, rid us of this cackling harridan!

  2. Please Satan, god of politics, stop the Clintons! |…

    \r\nHillary has become especially hard to take because she cant get what she wants without lying a l…

  3. I just love it with how annoyed the left has become with Hillary. These were often the same people who were positively fawning over this ’strong woman’ even 18 months ago. Now, she’s the political fad that’s ’so yesterday’, they are flummoxed that she just doesn’t go away and make way for the ‘newest thing’.

    I’ve got news for you: her irritating mannerisms and moral flexibility with the truth is not like some new disease she contracted recently. It has been integrated in her for decades, getting her fired at the age of 28 from her Watergate-related job. It’s nice to see that it’s only taken the left 16 years longer to come to this epithany that it did us ‘right-wingers’.

  4. I’m not a big fan of her either. She’s been caught is some pretty major exaggerations recently. I decided to make a website: which has a cute little speech bubble above her head explaining how she’s really a robot cyborg who fights the never ending war against fast food (updated several times a day).

  5. Curious. We hear the media sensationalizing every litlle faupa provided by Clinton or Obama, but hear very liltle about McCains much more significant campaign blunders (can you say the Middle East?).

  6. [...] Hillary has become especially hard to take because she can’t get what she wants without lying a lot, and nobody any longer believes a thing she says. It would help were she as good a liar as her nominal husband is, but even Bill Clinton can’t lie like a Clinton any longer. Even the price of Clintons in China has gone through the floor.… [...]

  7. Okay, I hate Hillary, too, but explain to me exactly how she is different from any other dildo politician.

  8. Me either! I hate Hillary Clinton!

  9. We Chaos-ters are enjoying our popcorn by the 55 gallon drum. We feel the same way towards HillBill as you guys do to W.

  10. Her voice drives me insane… She’s a ROBOT !!!

  11. Hillary Clinton could stay in the race until the cows come home for all I care–IF she can keep from lying and slinging mud at her Democratic Colleague! All she has done during most of the campaign is show the lack of integrity and good judgment she really has. Not only that, she continues to give amunition to the McCain campaign.
    Clearly, she has no merits of her own or she would be running on those merits rather than trying to smear and bring down a Democratic Colleague who does have excellent merits.
    I was pretty much neutral about her before the race, but since she has shown what a nasty, ugly, vengeful and childish person she really is, I would not vote for her if she were the only candidate out there! I would write in my dog before I vote for someone who doesn’t know the difference between honor and dishonor, between truth and deception. I can’t even describe how much I dislike that scag!

Original here

Obama's "Bitter" Comment

Maybe it's just me, but it seems that people may be making too much of Obama''s "controversial" comments that came out Friday about small town America. See his comments below:

"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them.And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not."

"And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Hillary Clinton has pounced on this. Read what she said at a campaign stop today:

"Now, like some of you may have been, I was taken aback by the demeaning remarks Senator Obama made about people in small town America. Senator Obama's remarks are elitist and they are out of touch. They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans. Certainly not the Americans that I know - not the Americans I grew up with, not the Americans I lived with in Arkansas or represent in New York."

"You know, Americans who believe in the Second Amendment believe it¹s a matter of Constitutional rights. Americans who believe in God believe it is a matter of personal faith. Americans who believe in protecting good American jobs believe it is a matter of the American Dream."

"When my dad grew up it was in a working class family in Scranton. I grew up in a church-going family, a family that believed in the importance of living out and expressing our faith."

"The people of faith I know don't 'cling to' religion because they're bitter."

"People embrace faith not because they are materially poor, but because they are spiritually rich. Our faith is the faith of our parents and our grandparents. It is a fundamental expression of who we are and what we believe."

"I also disagree with Senator Obama's assertion that people in this country 'cling to guns' and have certain attitudes about immigration or trade simply out of frustration. People of all walks of life hunt - and they enjoy doing so because it's an important part of their life, not because they are bitter."

Obama is fighting back. Read his remarks today on the stump and you can watch the video here

The problem is our politics doesn't let the American people get heard. People know that it's not easy solving some of these problems but they want to feel like at least someone is fighting for them.

It's interesting. Lately there has been a little typical sort of political flare up because I said something that everybody knows is true which is that there are a whole bunch of folks in small towns in Pennsylvania, in towns right here in Indiana, in my hometown in Illinois who are bitter.

They are angry.

They feel like they have been left behind. They feel like nobody is paying attention to what they're going through.

So I said well you know when you're bitter you turn to what you can count on. So people they vote about guns, or they take comfort from their faith and their family and their community.

And they get mad about illegal immigrants who are coming over to this country or they get frustrated about how things are changing.

That's a natural response.

And now I didn't say it as well as I should have because you know the truth is that these traditions that are passed on from generation to generation those are important. That's what sustains us.

But what is absolutely true is that people don't feel like they are being listened to. And so they pray and they count on each other and they count on their families. You know this in your own lives. What we need is a government that is actually paying attention. A government that is fighting for working people day in and day out making sure that we are trying to allow them to live out the American dream. And that's what this campaign is about.

We've got to get past the divisions. We've got to get past the distractions of our politics and fight for each other.

That is why I am running for president of the United States. And I think we've got an opportunity to bring about that change right here and right now.

Look, could Obama have said the whole thing better? Sure. The "cling" word as it relates to religion makes it seem that these people are needy in some way. "Cling" is not the best word to use.

The word "bitter" wasn't the best choice in the context he used it in but he was trying to make a broader point. I guess those are the pitfalls of being really smart.

But to say that these comments are "elitist" or are "demeaning" seems to be a big time stretch. It's hard to paint Obama as an "elitist" while at the same time he's described as hip, cool and relates to the younger generation. That makes no sense.

Maybe he could lay off the Grey Poupon and go with the French's mustard but give the guy a break.

Here's the best Hillary can hope for from this. She can try and make the case to the super delegates that comments like this show that Obama is "green" and "inexperienced" and who knows what he will say when he's on the World stage as President. I'm not saying it's an argument that will work but these comments give her some amunition. A few weeks back he also said how he wouldn't want his daughters "punished" with a baby. She can try and argue that this is a trend.

Still, I know Obama is getting blasted for these comments but to me this seems like a case of piling on. We talk alot in Christian circles about giving people "grace" but in politics those same rules don't apply.

Original here

Bill Clinton, China linked via his foundation

Eugene Hoshiko, Associated Press
IN HANGZHOU: President Clinton gave the keynote address at a 2005 conference organized by Alibaba, hailing the Internet as “an inherently cooperative instrument.”

A firm that has donated to the president's charity is accused of collaborating with the government in its crackdown on Tibetan activists. Hillary Clinton has spoken out against China's actions.
By Stephen Braun, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
April 13, 2008
NEW YORK -- As Chinese authorities have clamped down on unrest in Tibet and jailed dissidents in advance of the 2008 Olympics, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has taken a strong public stance, calling for restraint in Tibet and urging President Bush to boycott the Olympics opening ceremonies in Beijing.

But her recent stern comments on China's internal crackdown collide with former President Bill Clinton's fundraising relationship with a Chinese Internet company accused of collaborating with the mainland government's censorship of the Web. Last month, the firm, Alibaba Inc., carried a government-issued "most wanted" posting on its Yahoo China homepage, urging viewers to provide information on Tibetan activists suspected of stirring recent riots.

Alibaba, which took over Yahoo's China operation in 2005 as part of a billion-dollar deal with the U.S.-based search engine, arranged for the former president to speak to a conference of Internet executives in Hangzhou in September 2005. Instead of taking his standard speaking fees, which have ranged from $100,000 to $400,000, Clinton accepted an unspecified private donation from Alibaba to his international charity, the William J. Clinton Foundation.

The former president's charity has raised more than $500 million over the last decade and has been lauded for its roles in disaster response, AIDS prevention and Third World medical and poverty relief. But his reliance on influential foreign donors and his foundation's refusal to release its list of donors have led to repeated questions about the sources and transparency of his fundraising -- even as Hillary Clinton has talked on the campaign trail about relying on him as a roving international ambassador if she is elected president.

Foreign contributions to American-based charities are allowed under U.S. law, but political and philanthropy ethics advocates worry that Bill Clinton's reliance on international businesses and foreign governments to finance his worldwide charity campaigns raise issues of potential conflicts of interest if he were to take an active role in his wife's administration.

"This is a perfect example of why it's critical for both Clintons to provide prompt and complete disclosure of all their sources of income, not just personal sources but also his foundation," said Sheila Krumholz, executive director for the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, a government reform advocacy group.

The Clinton foundation and the former president's library in Little Rock have received millions of dollars in donations from the Saudi royal family and the Middle East sheikdoms of the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar, along with the governments of Taiwan and Brunei.

Fueled by such cash, the foundation has grown into a worldwide philanthropic dynamo, using its financial clout and influence with business leaders to streamline solutions for logistical logjams that have long plagued charity operations. The foundation has pressed to lower the price of expensive AIDS medications and set up long-term projects across the Third World.

But like many charities, the Clinton foundation maintains a strict policy of keeping its donations confidential to protect the privacy of donors. Still, partial lists have emerged in the foundation's tax filings and in press accounts, leading to growing scrutiny of the activities of some contributors.

Some human rights activists suggest that the Clinton foundation's contribution from Alibaba undermines his wife's outspoken stance on China's internal crackdown.

"A former president of the United States received a donation from a Chinese firm that is involved in censorship, and now his wife is running for president. This is a shame of the U.S.," said Harry Wu, an exiled Chinese activist based in Washington.

Wu was imprisoned by Chinese authorities in 1995, then released shortly before then-First Lady Hillary Clinton spoke out during an official Beijing visit about the government's role in abuses against women and dissidents.

A candidate's position

In recent months, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly referred to her 1995 speech in Beijing as a foreign policy accomplishment that showed her crossing "the commander-in-chief threshold." Clinton upbraided China's government for infanticide and other human rights abuses in her address to the U.N.-sponsored Fourth World Conference on Women.

Just last week, Hillary Clinton pressed the Bush administration to boycott the opening of the Summer Olympics. "The violent clashes in Tibet and the failure of the Chinese government to use its full leverage with Sudan to stop the genocide in Darfur are opportunities for presidential leadership," she said. "These events underscore why I believe the Bush administration has been wrong to downplay human rights in its policy toward China."

When asked to comment on the impact of Bill Clinton's dealings with Alibaba, Hillary Clinton's campaign deferred to her husband's foundation. A spokeswoman for the foundation stressed, "President Clinton is not involved with Alibaba and is opposed to censorship and the repression of political dissent." The spokeswoman added, "Sen. Clinton's position on human rights, both in China and elsewhere around the world, is unwavering."

But her husband brushed aside a similar opportunity to address China's jailing of dissidents when he spoke at the conference hosted by Alibaba in 2005. Days before his appearance, two prominent rights groups, Human Rights in China and Reporters Without Borders, asked Clinton to raise Internet freedom issues during his speech and address the plight of Shi Tao, a Chinese writer arrested in 2004 after Yahoo's China operation provided state security authorities with private Internet data.

In his keynote address, Bill Clinton hailed the Internet as "an inherently cooperative instrument and an inherently shared technology. The Internet has the potential to put power through information and communication in the hands of ordinary people."

But he said nothing about China's Web censorship or Shi Tao's arrest. Asked later why, he said he was unaware of Shi Tao's jailing. "Unfortunately, there was no discernible result or response" from Clinton, said Carol Wang, a program officer with Human Rights in China.

The Clinton Foundation spokeswoman would not divulge the amount of Alibaba's donation but said the firm "paid a portion of the travel expenses and contributed an amount beyond that to the foundation." Alibaba Vice President Porter Erisman declined to comment on the donation and the firm's dealings with the former president.

Congressional scolding

Last year, Yahoo's senior executives were scolded by a congressional committee for the company's dealings with Chinese authorities. In a legal settlement that followed a lawsuit by attorneys for Shi Tao and another jailed dissident, Yahoo also agreed to provide financial aid for their relatives and press for their release.

"We've met with the State Department and met with Chinese officials to ask for assistance in securing the release of some of these individuals," said Michael Samway, a Yahoo vice president and the firm's deputy general counsel. "We're hopeful that with the Olympics approaching there will be progress."

Human rights activists complain that Alibaba has not followed Yahoo's lead. Jack Ma, a former official with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Trade who built Alibaba, has often dismissed concerns about his firm's scrutiny of the Internet for the Chinese government. "As a business, if you cannot change the law, follow the law," he said the morning after Clinton's 2005 speech. "Respect the local government."

Ma has insisted that Alibaba operates independently from the Chinese government. But Ma's official background and China's tight oversight of its homegrown Internet and e-commerce firms are examples of the "blurred line between government and corporation," said Jonathan Zittrain, an Internet regulation expert who teaches at Oxford and Harvard universities and is co-director of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

"A Chinese government official doesn't have to order a local Internet operator to censor something," Zittrain said. "They might advise them that a certain article on their site doesn't look too kosher. It's communicated in code." The result, Zittrain said, is "the great firewall of China."

Other firms besides Yahoo and Alibaba have been criticized for cooperating with China's Internet monitoring. Google and Microsoft's MSN site have taken flak for decisions made by their China partners. And Chinese search engines and e-commerce firms that dominate the mainland market have routinely aided state security prosecutions, said Morton H. Sklar, Shi Tao's American lawyer.

'Most wanted' posting

Human rights activists said clear evidence of Alibaba's collaboration with China's state security apparatus surfaced last month with the appearance of a "most wanted" posting for Tibetan rioters on the firm's Yahoo China homepage.

The postings, which appeared March 15 on both Yahoo China and Microsoft's MSN China homepage, carried photos of suspected rioters and a phone number for informants to call. The postings vanished later the same day after news accounts highlighted them.

Yahoo officials said they had no advance warning from Alibaba that the postings would run. "We made our concerns known that the displays were inappropriate," one Yahoo official said, but were told by Alibaba officials "that it was a standard news feed."

The Clinton foundation spokeswoman would not address Alibaba's role in aiding the crackdown in Tibet. Instead, she emphasized the former president's efforts to push AIDS relief in China. "He has both pushed and helped the government of China to acknowledge and tackle the growing HIV-AIDs crisis facing their country," she said.

"You have to applaud President Clinton for his philanthropic interests," said Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy. "I wouldn't want to discourage it. But he certainly wouldn't want to be used as a tool for special interests to have undue influence."

Original here

newstopia: US electoral system explained

Obama's money

Where he got it

After Harvard Law, Obama didn't exactly rake in the big bucks. He led a voter-registration drive and then worked for a Chicago law firm that specializes in civil rights and employment discrimination.

He earned $60,000 as an Illinois state senator, plus another $32,000 as a lecturer in constitutional law at the University of Chicago.

Michelle Obama, however, worked for a while as a big-firm lawyer, leaving to take jobs in the nonprofit sector. She wound up as vice president for community affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals, a position that paid nearly $317,000 a year.

She resigned in May and also left her post as lead independent director of Tree House Foods, a private-label food business.

According to the Obamas' tax return (Obama and Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut are the only candidates to release one), their income hit $1.7 million in 2005 and $991,000 in 2006.

The big boost came from his writing, following the stirring speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention that made him famous.

First came a memoir, "Dreams of My Father," and later "The Audacity of Hope," which was on the New York Times bestseller list for 30 weeks.

Where it goes

Excluding Michelle Obama's retirement plan, whose value needn't be reported, the couple has about $715,000 in investments. All the money except for two very large checking accounts is in mutual funds.

About $350,000 is divided between Vanguard FTSE Social Index Fund, a socially responsible fund, and Vanguard Wellesley Income, which has a mix of 60 percent bonds and 40 percent stocks.

How he could do better

The Obamas have about 40 percent of their money in cash - about right for now, says Jason Mirsky of RiskMetrics: "They may need that much cash to tide the family over without Michelle's income."

Later, however, the Obamas should ramp up their stock allocation to about 70 percent. With their earning power, they can take more risk, adding small-cap and international funds.

They could also venture into real estate investment trusts or commodities. They should start 529 college savings plans for their two girls.

Original here

Bill Clinton Flashback: "All These Economically Insecure White People...Are Scared To Death"

As the rumination continues over Barack Obama's comments about economically-depressed small town voters, statements made by Bill Clinton on the same topic -- uttered while he was running for president in 1991 -- have now surfaced.

"The reason (George H. W. Bush's tactic) works so well now is that you have all these economically insecure white people who are scared to death," Clinton was quoted saying by the Los Angeles Times in September 1991.

A couple months later, Joe Klein, writing for the Sunday Times, reported that Clinton made the following remarks:

"You know, he [Bush] wants to divide us over race. I'm from the South. I understand this. This quota deal they're gonna pull in the next election is the same old scam they've been pulling on us for decade after decade after decade. When their economic policies fail, when the country's coming apart rather than coming together, what do they do? They find the most economically insecure white men and scare the living daylights out of them. They know if they can keep us looking at each other across a racial divide, if I can look at Bobby Rush and think, Bobby wants my job, my promotion, then neither of us can look at George Bush and say, 'What happened to everybody's job? What happened to everybody's income? What ... have ... you ... done ... to ... our ... country?'"

For comparison's sake, here is Obama's statement, reported by Mayhill Fowler for Huffington Post's OffTheBus:

Here's how it is: in a lot of these communities in big industrial states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, people have been beaten down so long, and they feel so betrayed by government, and when they hear a pitch that is premised on not being cynical about government, then a part of them just doesn't buy it. And when it's delivered by -- it's true that when it's delivered by a 46-year-old black man named Barack Obama (laugher), then that adds another layer of skepticism (laughter). [...]

But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

What do you think -- are they similar?

Update: Jason Linkins notes a statement from Harvard political scientist Theda Skocpol to Talking Points Memo, which reads in part:

I have been in meetings with the Clintons and their advisors where very clinical things were said in a very-detached tone about unwillingness of working class voters to trust government -- and Bill Clinton -- and about their unfortunate (from a Clinton perspective) proclivity to vote on life-style rather than economic issues. To see Hillary going absolutely over the top to smash Obama for making clearly more humanly sympathetic observations in this vein, is just amazing.

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In Searching for New Job, Gonzales Sees No Takers

WASHINGTONAlberto R. Gonzales, like many others recently unemployed, has discovered how difficult it can be to find a new job. Mr. Gonzales, the former attorney general, who was forced to resign last year, has been unable to interest law firms in adding his name to their roster, Washington lawyers and his associates said in recent interviews.

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Alberto R. Gonzales

He has, through friends, put out inquiries, they said, and has not found any takers. What makes Mr. Gonzales’s case extraordinary is that former attorneys general, the government’s chief lawyer, are typically highly sought.

A longtime loyalist to George W. Bush dating to their years together in Texas, Mr. Gonzales was once widely viewed as a strong candidate to be the first Hispanic-American nominated one day to the Supreme Court. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he carried an impressive personal story as the child of poor Mexican immigrants.

Despite those credentials, he left office last August with a frayed reputation over his role in the dismissal of several federal prosecutors and the truthfulness of his testimony about a secret eavesdropping program. He has had no full-time job since his resignation, and his principal income has come from giving a handful of talks at colleges and before private business groups.

“Maybe the passage of time will provide some opportunity for him,” said one Washington lawyer who was aware of an inquiry to his firm from a Gonzales associate. “I wouldn’t say ‘rebuffed,’ ” said the lawyer, who asked his name not be used because the situation being described was uncomfortable for Mr. Gonzales. “I would say ‘not taken up.’ ”

The greatest impediment to Mr. Gonzales’s being offered the kind of high-salary job being snagged these days by lesser Justice Department officials, many lawyers agree, is his performance during his last few months in office. In that period, he was openly criticized by lawmakers for being untruthful in his sworn testimony. His conduct is being investigated by the Office of the Inspector General of the Justice Department, which could recommend actions from exonerating him to recommending criminal charges. Friends set up a fund to help pay his legal bills.

Asked about reports that law firms have not taken up feelers from Mr. Gonzales, Robert H. Bork Jr., a corporate communications specialist and his spokesman, said Mr. Gonzales was talking to many people about the next steps in his career. “He is considering his opportunities in law and business,” Mr. Bork said, “but after many years in public service he is considering his options carefully.”

He said Mr. Gonzales “looks forward to the conclusion of the department’s inquiries and getting on with his life.”

While he has not taken any full-time job, friends said he was probably receiving as much income from speaking engagements as he did as attorney general with its annual salary of more than $191,000. Places like Washington University in St. Louis, Ohio State University and the University of Florida have paid him about $30,000 plus expenses for appearances, and the business groups pay a bit more, said sources at the schools and elsewhere who are familiar with the arrangements. Pomona College debated inviting him and decided he was not worth the money, the college newspaper reported.

His first speech at the University of Florida last November was interrupted by protesters dressed as detainees.

Original here

Clinton Becomes A Gun Lover

CNN reported Saturday that Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton touted her experience with guns and hunting to a crowd in Indiana:

Hillary Clinton appealed to Second Amendment supporters on Saturday by hinting that she has some experience of her own pulling triggers.

"I disagree with Sen. Obama's assertion that people in our country cling to guns and have certain attitudes about trade and immigration simply out of frustration," she began, referring to the Obama comments on small-town Americans that set off a political tumult on Friday.

She then introduced a fond memory from her youth.

"You know, my dad took me out behind the cottage that my grandfather built on a little lake called Lake Winola outside of Scranton and taught be how to shoot when I was a little girl," she said.

"You know, some people now continue to teach their children and their grandchildren. It's part of culture. It's part of a way of life. People enjoy hunting and shooting because it's an important part of who they are. Not because they are bitter."

Clinton said she has hunted ducks.

ABC News later reported that Clinton also visited a restaurant in Crown Point, Indiana to share a shot of whiskey with the locals:

Clinton stood by the bar and took a shot of Crown Royal whiskey. She took one sip of the shot, then another small sip, then a few seconds later threw her head back and finished off the whole thing.

Clinton later sat down at a table and enjoyed some pizza and beer, and called over Mayor Tom McDermott of Hammond, Ind., to come join the table.

"Every time I get around you we start drinking, senator," the mayor exclaimed.

Clinton nodded and raised her glass.

"It's Saturday night, though, Tom," she said.

Original here

Two hundred-millionaires attack Obama for being “out of touch”

Without a doubt, this was a poorly-worded statement on the part of Barack Obama:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

As a former resident of Pennsylvania (though not a small town), it’s true that there is bitterness there. And it’s true that much of that bitterness is due to economics– the massive closing of steel plants in Pittsburgh, for example. But it’s not true that that economic bitterness completely explains people’s faith or their feelings on the second amendment (though it does largely cover the anti-immigrant and anti-trade sentiments). It was a poorly-worded statement, as Obama has acknowledged, but to call it offensive is a reach.

The irony about all the “outrage” that’s being manufactured over this statement is that it’s coming exclusively from out-of-touch rich people who are making the assumption that this is something small-town Pennsylvanians should be offended by. I have yet to see a single quote from an actual small-town Pennsylvanian who has taken offense to Obama’s statement.

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton called the comments “elitist” and “out of touch,” and claimed that Pennsylvanians who face hard times aren’t bitter (which in itself is a wildly out of touch sentiment). John McCain’s campaign said Obama’s statement “shows an elitism and condescension towards hardworking Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking.”

But let’s take a step back here for a moment.

Hillary Clinton’s tax returns show that she and Bill have amassed $109 million in the last eight years– mostly from speaking fees, book royalties, and overseas investments. But long before that, at the age of 31, she moved into the Arkansas governor’s mansion with Bill, and has lived there or in the White House or in their million-dollar Chappaqua estate ever since.

John McCain is married to the heiress of a $100+ million fortune, a woman whose family trust fund has helped finance his congressional and senate campaigns for decades. He owns $4 million in real estate and $25 million in various trust funds.

Five years ago, before his speech at the 2004 national convention and his subsequent bestselling book, Barack Obama was a state senator and constitutional law lecturer earning $92,000 a year. He and his wife Michelle were raising two young daughters and still paying off their student loan debt.

A quick glance at the estimated net worth of each candidate pretty much tells you all you need to know about who is closest to the average American. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that neither Hillary Clinton nor John McCain have driven a vehicle for themselves, folded their own laundry, or gone into a grocery store and purchased a carton of milk in decades.

Yet over the next week or so, and certainly again in the fall, we can expect to hear many lectures from two super-rich, Washington lifers about what they think small-town America should take offense to.

UPDATE: Surprisingly, CNN gets it. People in small-town PA are bitter over job loss, and they have every right to be. To suggest that they’re not is ridiculous. It’s rose-colored, revisionist, political spin. It’s like saying Americans were optimistic but not angry after 9/11.

Original here

Clinton attacks Obama for small-town voter remarks

US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) addresses the audience at the Allegheny County Democratic Committee's Jefferson/Jackson Dinner at Heinz Field, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania April 10 2008. (REUTERS/David DeNoma)

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Democrat Hillary Clinton criticized presidential rival Barack Obama on Friday for describing small-town Pennsylvania residents as bitter and said she would help economically struggling communities, not look down on them.

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Clinton, whose big Pennsylvania lead over Obama in opinion polls has been shrinking before their April 22 primary election showdown, said residents in small towns suffering from job losses across the state were resilient and optimistic.

"Pennsylvania doesn't need a president who looks down on them," she said at a rally in Philadelphia. "They need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them, who works hard for your futures, your jobs, your families."

Obama, an Illinois senator, told a crowd in San Francisco this week he understood why residents of towns hard hit by manufacturing job losses would feel bitter.

"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them," Obama was quoted as saying by the Huffington Post.

"And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

At a town hall meeting on Friday, Obama said he made the comment because some supporters heard he was having trouble attracting working-class voters. He was trying to say he empathized with them.

Clinton, a New York senator and former first lady, once led Obama by double digits in Pennsylvania, the next battleground in their bruising battle for the Democratic nomination to face Republican John McCain in November's presidential election.

That lead has slowly dwindled to about 4 to 6 points in recent polls. Clinton's biggest backers in Pennsylvania have been blue-collar voters, but the state has sustained job losses.

A loss in Pennsylvania would almost surely doom Clinton's uphill race to catch Obama, who leads in delegates who will select the nominee at the August convention.

The McCain campaign also criticized Obama for the comments, saying that "it shows an elitism and condescension towards hard-working Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking."


In Indiana, Obama bristled at the suggestion he did not understand voters' concerns.

"Out of touch? Out of touch? I mean, John McCain -- it took him three tries to finally figure out that the home foreclosure crisis was a problem and to come up with a plan for it, and he's saying I'm out of touch?" Obama said.

"Senator Clinton voted for a credit card-sponsored bankruptcy bill that made it harder for people to get out of debt after taking money from the financial services companies, and she says I'm out of touch?" he told a crowd in Terre Haute, Indiana. "No, I'm in touch. I know exactly what's going on. ... People are fed up. They're angry and they're frustrated and they're bitter."

Clinton, whose father was from Pennsylvania, said in Philadelphia she had a lot of affection for the state and enjoyed traveling through it.

"It's being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter. Well, that's not my experience," she said.

"As I travel around Pennsylvania, I meet people who are resilient, who are optimistic, who are positive, who are rolling up their sleeves. They are working hard everyday for a better future, for themselves and their children," she said.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)

Original here

It's Obama, stupid: Carter and Gore to end Clinton bid

On the slide: Hillary Clinton at a committee hearing on Capitol Hill. Political oblivion beckons if she fails to win big in Pennsylvania. Photograph: Getty
On the slide: Hillary Clinton at a committee hearing on Capitol Hill. Political oblivion beckons if she fails to win big in Pennsylvania. Photograph: Getty

DEMOCRAT grandees Jimmy Carter and Al Gore are being lined-up to deliver the coup de grâce to Hillary Clinton and end her campaign to become president.
Falling poll numbers and a string of high-profile blunders have convinced party elders that she must now bow out of the primary race.

Former president Carter and former vice-president Gore have already held high-level discussions about delivering the message that she must stand down for the good of the Democrats.

"They're in discussions," a source close to Carter told Scotland on Sunday. "Carter has been talking to Gore. They will act, possibly together, or in sequence."

An appeal by both men for Democrats to unite behind Clinton's rival, Barack Obama, would have a powerful effect, and insiders say it is a question of when, rather than if, they act.

Obama has an almost unassailable lead in the battle for nomination delegates, and is closing the gap with Clinton in her last stronghold, Pennsylvania, which votes on April 22.

Clinton remains publicly defiant, insisting she will continue the battle with Obama all the way to the Democratic convention in August – when superdelegates, or party top brass, will have the chance to add their weight to primary votes.

But the party's top brass have concluded her further participation in the race can only harm the party as Republican nominee John McCain strives to take advantage of her increasingly bitter battle with Obama.

Both Carter and Gore occupy the rarefied position of elder statesmen – in addition to their White House past, both are winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, giving them additional gravitas to carry the party with them.

Neither of them is likely to object to the role of bringing down the curtain on Clinton. While neither man has formally endorsed either her or Obama, both have clashed in the past with the Clintons.

Gore blames his loss to George Bush in the 2000 presidential election on the impeachment of Clinton triggered by his White House affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Carter, who has carved out a successful career as an international mediator, is believed to detest the flashy style of the Clintons. He recently told an interviewer that his entire family are committed Obama supporters.

A number of options are being considered by the higher echelons of the Democrats, but they fall roughly into two categories. One is for Carter and Gore to go to Clinton privately and ask her to step down. The other is for both men to appear in public and endorse Obama – a move which would see a majority of superdelegates go with them.

The campaign to force Clinton to make an early exit is being masterminded in Congress, home to the most influential of the superdelegates. Senate Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have called on superdelegates to hold an unofficial congress in early June to anoint a winner, rather than waiting for the convention in Denver.

Pelosi has drawn withering fire from the Clinton camp for saying that these superdelegates must follow the national vote, with Clinton insisting that they should "vote with their conscience".

Yet some in the Democratic elite are wary of moving too soon. Polls show that 30% of Clinton's supporters would vote for McCain if she fails to become the nominee. To close off Clinton's bid before millions have had the chance to vote risks causing the very split that officials are desperate to avoid.

But a loss to Obama, or even a single-digit victory, in Pennsylvania will seal Clinton's fate. Pennsylvania is the last big state left in the race, and the last chance for Clinton to claw back Obama's delegate lead. "If he (Obama] wins (Pennsylvania] flat out, I think the big foot will come down," a source said.

Anything less than a resounding victory by her will probably see the race choked off ahead of the final primaries on June 3.

In the 10 remaining primaries, only a catastrophic loss of support by Obama will see Clinton overcome his lead of 160 delegates.

She admits she has little chance of winning the public vote, and is basing her strategy on convincing party-appointed superdelegates that she is, in her own words, the more "electable" of the two candidates.

Clinton enjoys strong support among superdelegates, many from a party elite who worked for her husband Bill during his years in the White House. There are more than 350 superdelegates who have yet to show a preference, potentially enough to rub out Obama's lead and give the presidency to Clinton.

But historically, superdelegates have never gone against the public vote, and party insiders say they would face a revolt, or even riots, if they were to do so now.

Obama's campaign has been a phenomenon in American politics, bringing in record numbers of new voters and record funding, and few think the superdelegates would dare deny him victory if he wins the popular vote.

It would also invite the unedifying spectacle of a mostly white elite denying an African American candidate a chance for the presidency. "It would cause a scandal to do that," says one party official. "To turn around to the black community and say, 'You got the most votes, but no'? Unlikely."

Clinton insists she will see her campaign through to the final primaries in June, and then on to the national convention, where her supporters have powerful lobbies in the organising committees.

But a chain of events in the past two weeks has worked to undermine this strategy, pulling the rug from under her claim to be more experienced and better organised than Obama.

It began with her extraordinary suggestion that she braved sniper fire during a trip to Bosnia in 1996, a statement contradicted by TV footage showing the event was peaceful.

There are suggestions that the long list of wealthy benefactors may be expecting favours to be returned once Hillary is in the White House, suggestions sharpened by the Clinton's refusal to release the list of donors to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library.

Such conflict-of-interest issues came into the open last week when it emerged that Clinton's chief campaign strategist, Mark Penn, was lobbying for the Colombian government to secure a free trade agreement with America, despite Clinton's public opposition to such a deal. Penn stepped down, the second high-profile sacking of a campaign manager this year.

Together with reports that Clinton's money troubles have left her unable to pay event organisers and even the health insurance of her staff, the impression is of a campaign in trouble.

These issues have undermined Clinton's claim to be more "electable", with her own stormy campaign contrasting with the disciplined control of Obama's organisation.

Obama himself has refrained from criticism on these issues, his staff keen to portray their candidate as "presidential" and above the fray.

Conspiracy theorists among her opponents claim Clinton is prolonging the race not because she hopes to win, but to inflict such damage on the party that a weakened Obama loses to John McCain in November, allowing Clinton to have a second tilt at the nomination in four years' time.

For Clinton, defeat in the nomination process would mean consignment to the political wilderness.

Losing nominees rarely get a second chance to run, and although Clinton's seat as a New York senator seems safe, failure in the nomination process leaves her politically neutered.

Talk of a possible consolation prize, in awarding her the job of Senate Majority leader, has petered out with several more senior senators also coveting the job.

Meanwhile, Clinton's poll numbers continue to slide. Obama now leads her nationally by about 10 points, and a CNN poll in Pennsylvania showed him closing the once-yawning gap to just three points.

Should Clinton lose Pennsylvania, the defection of growing numbers of superdelegates from her to Obama could become a flood.

After Pennsylvania

Possible outcomes of the crucial Democrat primary of April 22.

1. Clinton wins big

A win of 20 points or more over Obama in Pennsylvania would keep Clinton's campaign alive. She would also have to replicate this result in the nine states still to vote, narrowing the gap with her rival and convincing the all-important party superdelegates to choose her as nominee.

2. Clinton wins small

A victory in single digits, in a state where Clinton was once 20 points ahead, would make little difference to Obama's lead. Yet a win is a win, and she would be likely to try to stay in the race until June, unless superdelegates stepped in.

3. Obama wins small

A single figure victory on Clinton's 'home turf' would cement Obama's claim to the nomination. Superdelegates would be likely to declare him the nominee before June.

4. Convincing win for Obama

A double-digit Obama victory would be the shock of the primary contest. It would be followed by a stampede of superdelegates rushing to be front of the queue to embrace him.

Obama forced to backtrack

DEMOCRAT Barack Obama last night conceded that comments he made about bitter working-class voters who "cling to guns or religion" were ill chosen, as he tried to stem a burst of complaints that could hurt his chances in upcoming primaries in Pennsylvania and Indiana.

"I didn't say it as well as I should have," he
said, at a campaign rally in Indiana.

As he tried to quell the furore, presidential rival Hillary Clinton hit him with one of her lengthiest and most pointed criticisms, saying: "Obama's remarks were elitist and out of touch."

At issue are comments Obama made privately at a fundraiser last Sunday. He explained his troubles winning over white, working-class voters, saying they have become frustrated with economic conditions: "It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment to explain their frustrations."

The comments, posted on the Huffington Post political website, set off a storm of criticism and threatened to highlight an Obama Achilles' heel – the image that the Harvard-trained lawyer is arrogant, aloof and carries himself with an air of superiority.

Original here

Stick Your Elitism Where the Sun Doesn't Shine

Let me get this out of the way out front: by every measure, people are free to consider me part of the "elite." My wife and I make substantial income, live in a nice house, buying an even nicer one, drive nice cars, hold good jobs with pensions and health care paid for, are overeducated, hold positions of respect and power within our communities, etc., etc. Hell, we even live near Washington, D.C., home field for the elite.

But you damn sure better never call me an "elitist."

Elitism, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, is the following:

The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.

That ain't me. And neither is it Barack Obama.

I don't have any perceived superiority. I don't believe in favored treatment just because of my status. I feel damn lucky to be where I am. I work hard, just like lots of Americans. But not nearly as hard as some. Not nearly as hard, for instance, as the South Asian guy who runs my local 7-11 where I pick up my morning coffee. He's there every stinkin' day, managing that place, early morning to late evening. I once saw him in the grocery store with his FIVE small boys. I've gained a ton of respect for that man.

And I'm sure if Barack Obama met him, he would have a ton of respect too. Because Obama worked with folks like him in his community organizing days, when he didn't have to. Because Obama was raised by a single mom, without any particular inherent advantage, and received top notch schooling to get ahead. Because Obama personifies the damn American dream...that given an equal shot, we all can get ahead.

And let's not kid ourselves. That's what the American Dream is. Not "work hard, and you'll get ahead." I know plenty of people that work their asses off -- friends of mine -- and they can't get ahead. No, the dream is to have an equal shot to get ahead, and you too can make it.

And that equal shot is not forthcoming. And damn right people are bitter about it.

You want elitism? Try being married to an heiress to a beer distribution fortune and being stuck in the most exclusive club on earth inside the beltway for the past twenty years. THAT'S elitism.

You want elitism? Try making $109 million over the past six years and running for President by virtue of the fact that your husband has already been President. THAT'S elitism.

You want elitism? Try being a pundit that been ensconsed inside the ultimate insider world of Washington politics, and then poo-pooing telling the truth about the mood in the countryside as being "condescending." THAT'S elitism.

I have a news flash for all these elites...


You are projecting the fact that you are elitist yourself, knowing full well YOU are the ones out of touch with America. I mean, do you seriously want us to believe that the American public isn't pissed and bitter with our government when the public approval of all of our branches of government is at all time lows? Do you really want us to believe that the "resilient" American public is walking around with smiles on their faces thinking "happy days are here again"?

Of course, you, as the elite, are so far from a home foreclosure, a job loss, or taking your kids to Mickey Ds to feed your family that you would even know what it is like to be a "real American."

It reminds me recently of a party I had at my house, where my father-in-law, in his prime earning years and quite comfortable, was shocked to learn that two friends of mine in their early to mid-thirties, who work hard in service industries, had no 401ks, IRAs, or even benefits like health care. It was just assumed that they would. I knew they didn't, like a lot of my friends. But that's the benefit of real world "experience" beyond one's own bubble. And it's time for Washington to wake up.

Simply put, Obama's words were only condescending if you are an elitist.

To the rest of America, they are the TRUTH.


Are you an elitist?

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Here We Go Again

You know, I just spent seven and a half years disagreeing with the administration that has given us an unprecedented military and economic mess. I saw it coming, it came, and in some ways it was worse, and promises to get worse, than I foresaw. I the course of these seven years, I have had my patriotism questioned and demeaned fairly often. I was even put in a book, as one of a hundred people who were hurting America. When I got into this book, my relatives worried that I would get shot by some rightwing nut, even though several of them were and are rightwing nuts themselves (and they carry guns). All this time, though, I considered myself a patriot and a loyal American because I was able to see the destruction that was being wreaked upon the nation, and in particular, upon the middle and working classes, by the Republican liars and war criminals and job outsourcers and health care destroyers and army wreckers and infrastructure ignorers and media whores and agriculture blackmailers (see this month's Vanity

So now, Barack Obama tells the truth about conditions as we know them--that the countryside and the small towns are dying in many places in our country, and that the corporatocracy doesn't care enough to do a thing about it. He points out that immigrant-baiting, gay-baiting, gun-baiting, and religious pandering have helped to destroy those towns and that countryside, that those being destroyed have been cynically enlisted by their very own destroyers to provide the votes that help accomplish the destruction. And this is what Senator Hillary Clinton says about it: "Senator Obama's remarks were elitist and out of touch. They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans."

From Senator Clinton's remarks, I infer that to actually see what has gone on in the US in the last 20 years is unAmerican. It doesn't matter who you are, where you were born, what you pay in taxes, what else you might have contributed to the culture, how you vote, who you support. If you don't support fundamentalist religion, job outsourcing, and free access to guns, then you are not even American.

I cannot believe how angry this makes me. I cannot believe that after the last seven and a half years, I can even get this angry. Yes, I know she is pandering to her audience. Yes, I know she will do anything to get elected. Yes, I know that she and Bill Clinton are corrupt to the core, and that I should have never expected anything better of her. But, please, any of you angry white women who still support this craven shill, don't mention it to me. Do me the following favor -- apologize to your children for not stopping the war that HIllary voted for, the war that is going to impoverish them. Then apologize to them for the effects of global warming that are going to make their lives hell. Then apologize to them for the school shooting they may someday see, the one where the kid gets the guns out of his father's gun case, or buys at a gunshow. Apologize to them for the meaningless wars they are going to fight and pay for. Then tell them that "American values" killed their hopes and maybe killed them. And ask them if they think it's going to be worth it.

Original here

You're Darn Right I'm Bitter

One of the most refreshing things about Barack Obama is his fearlessness when it comes to voicing a hard truth. It's an ice cold glass of unsweetened lemonade: hard to swallow, but unmistakably pure. The truth is, if you aren't bitter, you're probably voting for someone who is going to give us more of what we've been getting all along. And all Clinton and McCain seem to be saying is "Let them eat Lemons."

Both Clinton and McCain's response to Barack's comments about voters were incredibly elitist, which is funny since that seemed to be their charge. Hillary said we aren't bitter, we're resilient. In other words, we can take it, right? We can take our wages being frozen while the cost of living doubles. We can take lucrative jobs packing up and moving overseas. We can take the oil companies turning less than a 20% increase in operating expense into a 200% increase in profits. Hey, it's all part of being American. We take a beating and still wake up with a smile on our faces. Since Clinton is so sure the voters are just hunky dory with the way things are going, what would be her imperative to bring rapid and meaningful change? Clinton is completely out of touch. Hilldog, the thousands of people losing their homes right now aren't feeling very tough. They're feeling pretty bitter.

McCain's people had the nerve to call Obama's label of "bitter" condescending and elitist. From the camp of a politician whose first response to the housing crisis was to essentially allow fiscal Darwinism to run its course, this accusation is laughable. There is nothing condescending or elitist about Barack's assessment. In fact, it is just the opposite.

While Clinton and McCain live within the pomp and circumstances of their political propaganda, Obama is showing that he truly understands where voters are coming from. It is why he is winning. Obama's assessment that we are bitter comes directly from understanding that we are tired of the things that come from status quo politicians like Clinton and McCain that have driven the middle class to the edge of extinction. We should be proud to be bitter. It's not a bad thing to be, it just means you have been impacted, and it's not okay.

Of course, the real culprit here is the media. You would expect journalists to know a thing or two about the English language. The use of words like 'Typical' and 'Bitter' to skew a message, apply a racist tone, or deem verbage an insult, is a practice true writers should be abhorred to participate in, and journalists who play into these games should forfeit any claim to integrity. Isn't it more newsworthy that campaigns twist a word to political game, marginalizing our intelligence and language for petty trickery?

It requires minimal intelligence to interpret that Obama meant we were Bitter in that we are fed up, turned off, and have had enough of politics as usual. Personally, I've voted in 5 presidential elections; when I look at what has become of this country during the course of those 20 years, I do feel intensely acrid on the inside. Over the last eight years in particular, when our leaders talk about how they are going to fix something I do respond with cynicism.

So yes I am bitter, and you should be too, and in November we should all vote bitterly against the status quo and for a leader that truly knows how to make Lemons into Lemonade.

Original here

How I spent my Sunday with Obama and the Mayhill Fowler Agenda

I was at the Obama fundraiser in San Francisco that has gotten so much attention of late. It was a small event, maybe 250 people. Having seen Obama speak at large rallies, this event had more of a living room feel, despite the fact that people were packed in like sardines in a large private house. Obama's speech was part stump speech, part relaxed conversation with his supporters.

At the end of this small event Obama took four questions, one of which was from a couple of supporters going to Pennsylvania to work for the campaign. They wanted to know what kinds of questions they could expect to get from people in Pennsylvania. Obama began to answer their question by talking about the cultural and geographic diversity in Pennsylvania. He then proceeded to talk about what kind of attitudes and obstacles they might run into in the parts of the state that had been economically devastated by job loss. He talked about the fact that they would run into great cynicism about Washington or any promise of political change. He talked about the frustration and yes, bitterness, in some of these areas, where people had lost industry and jobs twenty five years before, jobs that never came back. He talked about the culture in these communities and what people had done to cope with economic hardship. This was an attempt both to tell these supporters what they might run up against and what were the challenges for the campaign in the industrial Midwest as a whole. Obama was both giving a speech to the supporters present at the event and a heart-to-heart to this couple that was ready to go door-to-door in Pennsylvania.

Imagine my surprise to see an article in the Huffington Post by Mayhill Fowler describing his answer as "a problematic judgment call in trying to explain working class culture to a much wealthier audience." and his answer being like "explaining the yawning cultural gap that separates a Turkeyfoot from a Marin County." I guess Ms. Fowler thought that, unlike herself, the other attendees had never gone outside the large house in Pacific Heights where the event was held. I grew up working class in Texas. I thought it ironic that Ms Fowler, was attempting to paint Obama as a condescending elitist, while at the same time she was stereotyping everybody at the event with her omniscient insight. In any case, her agenda was clear. Despite Ms. Fowler talking about the people at the fundraiser being middle class in an earlier post, the "rich man poor man" theme fit better with the "Obama as a judgmental elite, talking to judgmental elites" spin. This also seemed to fit with some of her earlier articles where she had described Obama as cocky, arrogant, and even "flirty". What a coincidence that she now writes an article putting another twist on Obama's personality. All she had to do was a sneak a recorder in an small event for Obama supporters and do a little bit of crafty writing and out of context editing. Now Fox News and Lou Dobbs are having a field day.

It was great seeing Obama in a relaxed setting, talking both in detail and inspiring prose, in what was essentially a large living room.

Too bad there were roaches under the sofa.

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Back to Tuzla

On the trail in Indiana, Mike Memoli transcribes Bill Clinton telling his version of Tuzla:

And, you know. I got tickled the other day. A lot of the way this whole campaign has been covered has amused me. But there was a lot of fulminating because Hillary, one time late at night when she was exhausted, misstated and immediately apologized for it, what happened to her in Bosnia in 1995. Did y'all see all that? Oh, they blew it up.
Let me just tell you. The president of Bosnia and General Wesley Clark -- who was there making peace where we'd lost three peacekeepers who had to ride on a dangerous mountain road because it was too dangerous to go the regular, safe way -- both defended her because they pointed out that when her plane landed in Bosnia, she had to go up to the bulletproof part of the plane, in the front. Everybody else had to put their flak jackets underneath the seat in case they got shot at. And everywhere they went they were covered by Apache helicopters. So they just abbreviated the arrival ceremony.
Now I say that because, what really has mattered is that even then she was interested in our troops. And I think she was the first first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt to go into a combat zone. And you woulda thought, you know, that she'd robbed a bank the way they carried on about this. And some of them when they're 60 they'll forget something when they're tired at 11 at night, too.

For those who forgot about the Tuzla rabbit hole, the speech where she got in trouble for “misspeaking” about arriving under sniper fire was in the morning, she told the story more than once, she didn’t acknowledge that she misspoke until more than a week after giving the speech (and long after the comedian Sinbad had disputed her recollections of the Bosnia trip), … and Pat Nixon visited Saigon in 1969 .

And here's the explanation that two Clinton aides who accompanied the First Lady gave last week in the New York Times.

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