Sunday, June 1, 2008

Lanny Davis Loses His Cool On DNC Member

A brief but spittle-filled shouting match broke out in the halls of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee hearing on Saturday between a committee member and a surrogate for Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Lanny Davis, the colorful, committed, and sometimes unrestrained Clinton supporter deliberately interrupted a small gathering of press who had come to hear Jon Ausman, a DNC member, explain the basis of his proposed Florida delegation compromise.

"I'll tell you what," Davis chimed in, "the Clinton campaign's position has been misrepresented by this wonderful love-fest, and the lady who testified for us was saying that the Obama campaign and your proposal is not generous. But it is in fact unfair. If you want to hear, now that the love-fest is over, why don't you come over and hear the counterpoint to this completely disingenuous argument."

A befuddled Ausman who had earlier proposed that Florida's 185 pledged delegates be subject to a 50 percent penalty, asked who exactly Lanny Davis was. By then, however, Davis had herded a slew of reporters around Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, another Clinton supporter, who was standing feet away and insisting that Ausman's deal was far from a "generous" token by the Obama campaign. Then, in the midst of the hastily gathered question and answer session, Ausman reemerged to defend himself.

What proceeded was a heated and, at times, unintentionally hilarious exchange, with the two standing inches apart from each other and the occasional finger pointed in the other's face.

Ausman: [My proposal] is very generous, because Obama was initially fighting for a situation where Clinton would net 6 delegates, now it's 19.

Davis: Don't say you're being generous.

Ausman: I can say we're being generous.

Davis: But you're allowed to and I'm allowed to disagree...

Ausman: But I'm the one who's on the petition...

Reporter: Ok ok, why don't we --

Ausman: Are you a representative of Clinton?

Davis: No, I'm actually just a person...

Ausman: Are you a designated representative of Clinton?

Davis: I am not a designated representative.

Ausman: Then why don't we have a designated representative speak for Clinton and you be silent?

After the fracas ended, Tubbs Jones fielded several additional questions. Arguing that the only "fair" outcome in Florida would be for the full seating of the delegation and not for those delegates to be halved, she deflected questions as to whether the Clinton campaign's proposals were, themselves, uncompromising.

"My name is Stephanie Tubbs Jones and I am the congresswoman from the great state of Ohio, and on behalf of the Clinton campaign, we don't expect that the Obama campaign could be so generous to us to give us these 19 delegates. It is in fact more generous, and more appropriate, that all the votes be counted as they were cast. And if the votes are counted as they were cast, Senator Clinton will get much more than the Obama campaign is saying will be generous."

Within minutes the congresswoman and the press had dispersed. But a heated Davis was still strolling the halls of the Marriot Hotel. Talking to a separate reporter, he acknowledged that even if Clinton were to get everything she wanted, the likelihood remained that she would still lose the nomination.

"They can give us the full 38 delegates [the net gain of counting 100 percent of the vote] and still win," he said. "So why won't they."

Asked about the exchange with Ausman, he said: "I'm f-ing angry."

Original here

Eating A Reuben Amidst A Crowd Of Protesting Clintonites

Updated below with video of angry Clinton supporter being escorted from the building.

When is a Reuben sandwich not just a Reuben sandwich? When one eats it amidst a denizen of rabidly committed, frequently vitriolic, and unapologetically devoted Hillary Clinton supporters.

The scene at Harry's Pub in the Marriott Hotel, downstairs from the site of the Rules and Bylaws Committee hearing, was emblematic of the double-edged sword that has become the Democratic primary. One the one hand was the political passion: the willingness to stand in solidarity over the idea of counting the votes in Michigan and Florida, even if such a protest was scheduled on a Saturday under torrential rain.

On the other hand were the battered emotions: the ardent vows to not support Sen. Barack Obama under any circumstances, the insistence that every insidious rumor concerning the Illinois Democrat was grounded in fact, the belief that the party itself had conspired in an effort to tear down the Clintons.

With half a dozen flat screen televisions turned to CNN, it was not difficult to ascertain just where the political and emotional center of the crowd stood. A table of three women did not deal in discretion. A sampling of their punditry:

"[Obama] is a cult. His campaign is an anti-woman cult."

"I will actively campaign against him."

"You know who is backing him is George Soros. It'll be George Soros, not Obama, who is running the country."

"South Dakota is totally rigged for Obama because of Tom Daschle. Obama's going to win South Dakota because he's buying it and rigging it."

"[Obama] is a socialist! You know what the Nazi Party was before it was the Nazi Party? It was the Socialist Party."

It was not all that different from the mood outside, where signs read, "At least slaves were counted as 3/5ths a Citizen," and some pamphlets detailed Obama's supposed dealings in drugs and gay sex. The latter being handed out by Larry Sinclair, the youtube opportunist who has claimed to have had an affair with the Senator.

"Would you rather have a president who had an affair [Bill Clinton] or one who was a murderer [Obama]?" Eve Fairbanks, a reporter with The New Republic, was asked by one protester.

Back in Harry's, passions did not ebb. Amidst the chatter came raucous cheers for any Clinton surrogate whose face popped up on the television screen. They were countered by derisive boos when CNN cut to a clip of DNC Chairman Howard Dean. It didn't matter what he said. You couldn't hear it over the crowd's hissing.

I approached a group of Clinton supporters sitting at the bar to pinpoint, exactly, the foundation of their emotions. Almost unanimously they agreed that if Florida and Michigan weren't seated in their entirety, they would never vote for Obama.

As women, were they comfortable with a candidate like John McCain who could potentially overturn Roe v. Wade?

"Oh don't pull that argument," said Valerie Duhaime of Florida. "Obama did not support a filibuster of [Supreme Court Justice Samuel] Alito and he was for [Chief Justice] John Roberts before he was against him."

Within the pub's confines, Obama was not the only persona non grata. The media, too, occupied a dark place in the crowd's heart. The group at the bar went through a litany of websites that they no longer read -- including the Huffington Post. "I only watch the BBC," said Duhaime. "We are outsourcing the fourth estate."

Shortly after revealing my publication, I was turned away. No worries, my lunch, a Reuben sandwich, had arrived. I pulled up my chair to the table and sat down to eat. Minutes later a chant began around me.

"HuffPost sucks! HuffPost sucks!" and later, "Fox News, fair and balanced! Fox News, fair and balanced!"

Update: As caught by Firedoglake, late in the day an angry Clinton supporter was escorted from the building after she went on a tirade blasting Barack Obama, a racial double standard, and the Democratic Party. "I'm no second class citizen," she declares, "and god damn the Democrats."

Original here

Crawford: Obama Has Replaced Clintons As Boss Of Party

Make no mistake about it. The decision rendered today by the Democratic National Committee's rules panel showed that Barack Obama has displaced Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, as boss of the party.

The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee gave Obama exactly what he wanted - a firm decision on seating Florida and Michigan delegates. Even though Clinton wins a small net gain in nominating delegates, it is not enough to seriously boost her chances for the nomination.

Original here


From NBC's Mark Murray and Ben Weltman
By a 19-8 vote, a compromise allocating Michigan's pledged delegates by a 69-59 forumla -- but counting each by just half a vote -- has just passed the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee.

The compromise will give Clinton 34.5 delegates and Obama 29.5 delegates. It would also seat all of Michigan's superdelegates but also give them just half a vote. Moreover, it would make the magic number to clinch the Democratic nomination 2,118.

But Clinton adviser and committee member Harold Ickes strongly disagreed with this compromise -- and said Clinton will reserve her right to take this dispute to the Democratic convention.

"This motion will hijack, hijack, remove four delegates won by Hillary Clinton and most importantly reflect the preferences of 600,000 Michigan voters. This body of 30 individuals has decided that they are going to substitute their judgment for 600,000 voters."

He noted sarcastically, "Now that's what I call democracy."

He went on to say, "Hijacking four delegates is not a good way to start down the path of party unity," he said, adding that Clinton reserves her right to take "this to credentials committee."

Original here

Don't Vote Chromosomes: The First Woman Must Be The Right Woman

I was talking to a friend about the tortured persistence of the Clinton campaign and she said: "She needs to stay in. This will be the last chance in my lifetime to vote for a woman for president."

There are a lot of women of a certain age saying the same thing. And I can only ask: what?

Could this really be the reason that Hillary polls best among older white women? Will we really vote for a woman simply based on the fact that she happens to be one?

Don't get me wrong. After a combined 16 years of intern abuse, lying to Congress, bullying, and macho posturing, I would love to see a woman's imprint on the Oval Office. But not to score one for our side. That makes as much sense as choosing Pepsi over Coke because Pepsi is run by a female.

Female management styles swing from the neighborly Meg Whitman of eBay to the head-butting Carly Fiorina, formerly of Hewlett Packard. But across the spectrum of types, women do bring a more collaborative style to leadership - a more even-handed willingness to form consensus and consider opinions counter to our own. Before she went before the cameras to scare us with tales of weapons of mass destruction, might a woman have listen more closely to evidence that didn't exist? I think so.

And I also like the idea of voting for a woman who truly cares about women's' issues. Without that, I'm not sure why women should get all that excited. In fact, a Yale study looked at voting records and found that legislators most likely to favor women's issues are men - with daughters.

Before we vote for someone simply because of chromosomes in common, it might be helpful to put the candidate to the test on both counts.

Leadership style? I see in Hillary the same calculating, "bring em on" swagger of the last eight years: Dick Cheney - only better accessorized.

With Hillary we're talking about a woman who added assassination to possibilities of the early summer political season; who threatened to "obliterate" Iran; who declared herself the candidate of "hard working Americans - white Americans."

As for her concern for women's issues, Hillary has made promises on choice, reproductive services, expanded women's health care and pay parity. Where in her Senate career do we see any serious tenure-defining effort to protect or achieve any of that?

In fact, Hillary is not nearly as progressive as some might hope. She supported the Defense of Marriage Act, she co-sponsored a flag burning amendment, she voted to send our sons and daughters into the meat grinder of an unnecessary war. And with close to 70 percent of women in most polls favoring stricter gun control laws, what are we to make of her snuggling up to the NRA with tales of her childhood shooting lessons?

You can argue that Hillary would roll back George Bush's assaults on humanity - like denying US aid to any organization that even talks about abortion as birth rates of the world's desperately poor explode. But I would answer: so would any other rational human being not in the talons of the lunatic right.

I would also kind of like to vote for a woman who earned it. It's true that a woman with Barack Obama's skimpy bona fides could never have launched a campaign. (I can't name another man who could have pulled it off either.) But you can just as easily argue that Hillary Clinton would not be where she is without a Senate seat gained largely on the fact that she was married to the former leader of the free world.

As Kate Zernike pointed out recently in the New York Times, there are more women in the pipeline than the last-chancers fear: in the Senate, in the House, in governors offices. Three years ago, who knew the name Obama? One of them might, in fact, find their way onto the ticket. I hope so.

I really do believe that America is ready - more than ready after eight years in hell - to elect a woman. But we can't simply pick the one who happens to be available, especially when she is so divisive and brings along a time bomb of a husband. Instead of moving us forward, it could set us back decades.

Our women president is out there. And I believe we'll find her sooner than we think.

Let's wait and get it right.

Original here

34 Convicted in Display At U.S. Supreme Court

Protesters who were arrested on the steps of the Supreme Court a few months ago and are now marching from the Supreme Court to the Courthouse for their day in court.

Thirty-four people were convicted yesterday of misdemeanor charges stemming from a demonstration at the Supreme Court in January in which they decried conditions at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Wendell P. Gardner Jr. said the demonstrators violated the law by protesting at the plaza of the Supreme Court, where such activities are banned. He rejected arguments that they were practicing free speech when they marched to the plaza, despite warnings from police, carrying banners and wearing T-shirts saying "Shut down Guantanamo."

The demonstration occurred Jan. 11, the sixth anniversary of the opening of the detention facility, which was set up to house terrorism suspects. During a three-day trial, prosecutors presented a videotape that showed several officers warning the protesters to remain on the sidewalk, where demonstrations are legal, or risk arrest.

During the trial, many of the 21 men and 13 women wore orange jumpsuits to show solidarity with Guantanamo detainees. When the defendants spoke, they gave their name and then the name, age and a brief biography of someone they described as a Guantanamo detainee. Many wore a tag bearing the name of a detainee.

As Gardner began explaining his ruling, one of the defendants, Paul Magno of the District, stood up and turned away from the judge. Gardner ordered a marshal to arrest Magno for contempt of court. Magno was escorted out, but not before shouting to the judge: "You have committed a crime against justice."

The judge ordered all defendants to return to court today for sentencing. Each faces up to 60 days in jail. Gardner said most will probably get probation. Those who had prior convictions, mostly for civil disobedience or disturbing the peace, could be jailed, Gardner said, to stop them from doing "the same thing over and over."

Because the charges were misdemeanors punishable by less than six months in jail, the case was heard by a judge instead of a jury.

After the decision, several defendants said they weren't surprised by the ruling but were pleased that they could voice their concerns about Guantanamo in court.

"We're sad about the convictions, but we're happy, moved and humbled to bring the stories, names and identification of the men in Guantanamo into a court of law," said Frida Berrigan, 34, of Brooklyn. She is the daughter of the late Philip Berrigan, a former Roman Catholic priest who was a major figure in the American peace movement during the Vietnam War.

The protesters are part of a group called Witness Against Torture, which has held demonstrations across the country condemning the prison. Members range in age from 19 to their early 70s.

The defendants represented themselves at trial, and their closing arguments drew emotional responses from each other and from supporters in the courtroom. Several wiped away tears as two defendants spoke on behalf of the group, citing the actions of Martin Luther King Jr. and others.

Earlier in the trial, the judge had dismissed charges against a 35th defendant because he said he had not been conclusively identified by police in a review of the videotape.

Before Gardner issued his ruling yesterday, one of the defendants stood and asked for a moment of silence for the detainees. Assistant U.S. Attorney Magdalena Acevedo quickly jumped to her feet to object.

"Your honor, this is a court of law. And no matter what we may think of their personal beliefs, it does not justify them violating the law," Acevedo said.

Original here

Clinton Supporter Thrown Out of Rules Committee Meeting