Saturday, February 16, 2008

Concerns Over Party Cause Gore to Remain Neutral For Now

This NYT article by Don Van Natta Jr. and Jo Becker ties in with my diary posted at Daily Kos yesterday. Former Vice President Al Gore and a number of other senior Democrats plan to remain neutral for now in the presidential race in part to keep open the option to broker a peaceful resolution to what they fear could be a bitterly divided convention, according to party officials and aides.

It's crucial that we keep our party strong. The only way to do that is to avoid a summer debacle in Denver. The will of the Democratic voters needs to take the front seat. Howard Dean's strength has always been in his message of change and people-power. This is the time for him to show that he's meant it all along, which I believe he has.

Party unity should be of the utmost importance now. None of us should underestimate the goals of the GOP to undermine our unity. It's time to hang strong with one another...and much of that example of leadership needs to come from the party chair, party leaders, and the candidates themselves.

To Howard Dean: Take this Hint
by Iddybud
Daily Kos Februray 15, 2008

The Democratic Party seems headed for a train wreck this August. If neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama surges before the primary season ends on June 7, the party may well get a brokered convention in Denver, with unelected superdelegates holding the balance of power.

From the Readers' Page
Syracuse Post-Standard/

There's no doubt that 2008 has been an historic Democratic primary season, if not only for the reason that the two candidates remaining in the running are running neck-and-neck. In today's Syracuse Post-Standard, Glenn Altschuler, professor of American Studies at Cornell University and Robert J. Spitzer, professor of political science at SUNY Cortland have a suggestion: "How the Democratic candidates for president can avoid disaster." They ask DNC Chairman Howard Dean to press both candidates to publicly pledge to commit to support whichever of the two candidates who, after the primary/caucus voting is over and done with, receives the most pledged delegates from the most Democratic voters.

The authors quote Sen Barack Obama and invite Howard Dean to take his suggestion seriously for the sake of the party and their strongest chances in November:

"My strong belief," [Sen Barack Obama] said in Seattle last week, "is that if we end up with the most states and the most pledged delegates from the most voters in the country, it would be problematic for the political insiders to overturn the judgment of the voters." By implication, he has bound himself to step aside if the senator from New York commands the majority.

Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean should take the hint and press both candidates to sign off on such an arrangement, in public and as soon as possible. The scheme has several benefits for the party, which has a history of blowing good opportunities in the general election with lengthy, divisive, nomination conflicts.

Why would this work best for the Democrats?

It would, first and foremost, ratify the Democratic candidate as the democratic choice by siding with the majority of party voters. Second, it would eliminate the prospect of bitter infighting -- and recriminations -- between June and August. Third, it would give the nominee time to raise money, organize and focus on the contest against John McCain. And fourth, it would end wrangling about the role of delegates from the renegade states of Michigan and Florida, which were denied seats at the convention because they violated party rules and moved their primaries to January.

Why should Hillary Clinton sign on to such a risky agreement?

On the surface, the arrangement seems less desirable for her. So far, more superdelegates have expressed support for her than for Obama. She scored victories in Florida and Michigan, and might well do so should a re-run primary or caucus be scheduled.

Nonetheless, with her campaign faltering, it's actually in Clinton's interest to roll the dice. Superdelegate support is hardly firm, and may well evaporate if Obama continues to rack up victories. Equally important, a victory that seems the product of a brokered convention could be a pyrrhic victory. Hillary Clinton does not want to run in the general election as the candidate of insider Democratic, wheeler-dealer bosses.

Trying to parlay victories in Michigan and Florida into convention votes is also a losing gambit. When Clinton declared her intention to do so last month, she was skewered in the media as self-serving and sneaky, and took a tumble in the polls.

Most importantly, Clinton has a good chance to emerge with more delegates than Obama on June 7. After her losses in the Chesapeake primaries (Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.), and likely defeats in Hawaii and Wisconsin, she gets to contest Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, three large states, each with a demographic mix favorable to her. If she runs the table, she'll take the lead in delegates, and Obama will have to bow out. If she doesn't, she probably won't get the nomination anyway.

By rolling the dice, Clinton can burnish her public image. She'll look fair-minded and statesmanlike, by putting the will of the people and the good of her party ahead of her self-interest. The strategy might get her some additional votes in the primaries and, if she's the nominee, improve her ability to unite the party and appease Obama's supporters.

Your thoughts?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Women Who Blog Politics

Catherine Morgan lists over 300 women who are currently blogging politics.

What Was Mark Halperin Thinking?

Time's Mark Halperin used inappropriate words and a harsh tone on Sirius Radio's Bill Geddie show that this Edwards supporter did not appreciate in the least. According to blog sources, he has apologized. I notice a trend among professional journalists to lean toward the shock-jock style of political talk in this 2008 primary season. I find it distasteful.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

On Valentines Day

Photo credit: Vanity Fair

My Valentines Day post this year is a tribute to the love between John and Elizabeth Edwards and the strength and inspiration they've projected as a team. They've been a guiding light to me for the last few years because of their firm and constant dedication to family, country, and progress - especially in their hard work to see an end to persistent poverty in this country and in our world.

I also send out a special Valentines' Day greeting to and Bobbie and Wallace Edwards, John's mother and father, who raised him to be the caring man he is today and have steadfastly supported each of his causes and efforts. It's a blessing to have loving parents standing by your side and showing that they believe in in you.

Photo credit:

Kristen Breitweiser on Swing State Math

Kristen Breitweiser has a new column up at The Huffington Post about the reality of the swing-state math in the Democratic primaries and caucuses and how it will (and will not) apply to the general election.

An excerpt:

What does this all mean?

For starters it means that on Election Day 08 it doesn't matter a hill of beans that Barack Obama beat the pants off Hillary Clinton in places like Idaho. Idaho hasn't figured into Democratic numbers/analysis for years. So cool your jets with the whole Obama momentum bit.

Likewise it doesn't matter that Obama may have better national poll numbers against McCain. National numbers don't mean squat on Election Day.

Fifteen states, folks. That's all that matters. Those 15 states should be our sole focus TODAY. Because if we want the Democrats in the White House in 08 then we need to support the Democratic Candidates who run best in the crucial swing states. And that means we need to support BOTH Hillary and Barack until we have a more definitive answer. Period. End of Story.

Like it or not, the hard, undeniable, and very real numbers speak for themselves. Neither candidate can (as of yet) win the vital swing states alone which is why both Obama and Clinton need each other on Election Day 08.

Democrats it is time for us to grow up, smarten up, and rise up above ourselves and our differences (however big or small they may be) because we've got a WH to win back.

Once again, I reiterate: UNITY TICKET 08

Amen, Kristen. Pearls of wisdom from a woman who, most sadly, cannot celebrate Valentines day with her husband Ronald except in spirit, for she lost him on September 11th, 2001.

Monday, February 11, 2008

International News Summaries


Turkey's parliament has voted in favor of overturning a ban on the Islamic headscarf in universities.
In the 1980s the headscarf was also prohibited at all universities, declared a symbol of political Islam.

Turkey's current government, led by religious conservatives, has long pledged to overturn that.

But it is a highly controversial and divisive issue.

[BBC News]

[Related Story at Yahoo/UK: FACTBOX - Policies on Muslim scarves and veils in Europe]

Dutch Cabinet wants school burqa ban
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) The Dutch Cabinet said Friday it wants to ban burqas from all schools and prevent government employees from wearing the head-to-toe Islamic robes, but said it was impossible to outlaw them altogether.
In a policy letter to Parliament, the Cabinet said it would send a proposal to lawmakers within a few months on banning burqas in schools and said it would push government offices to forbid burqas in their staff dress regulations.

The move is largely symbolic as only around 150 women are believed to wear burqas in this country of 16 million. But it is another sign of the turning tide of Dutch tolerance as the nation seeks to assimilate its Muslim population of about 840,000.

"I value being able to look somebody in the eye," Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said, referring to the fact that the robes cover a woman's face. "I find it unpleasant."

Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst said the Cabinet concluded there was no need to legislate a total burqa ban. "Many organizations already have tools with which they can prohibit the wearing of a burqa," she said.

The government has been under pressure from conservative parties to ban burqas outright and Friday's announcement is unlikely to satisfy those calls. But legal experts have said that a total ban would be unconstitutional and breach international agreements.



Russia ready for re-match over Kosovo
A far more confident Russia now is poised for a re-match on behalf of its Serb ally, after Kosovo Albanians declare the province independent of Serbia on Sunday.

Russia can't stop independence but has blocked recognition by the United Nations, where it plans a legal challenge. This could help Serbia deprive the new state of the Serb-majority enclave in the hinterland of the northern city of Mitrovica.


Serbia Worries over Kosovo
Slobodan Samardzic08 February 2008 Belgrade _ Serbia’s Minister for Kosovo has said that, according to intelligence reports, UN-administered Kosovo is to declare its independence from Serbia on February 17.

"Information we are receiving indicates that [Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim] Thaci will illegally declare Kosovo’s independence on February 17," Slobodan Samardzic, said after meeting senior EU official Stefan Lehne on Friday.

Earlier this week the Kosovo daily Koha Ditore said independence would be declared on February 17, a day before EU foreign ministers are due to meet. Read more

Samardzic, a close associate of conservative Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, said that "the European Union cannot expect Serbia to sign off on Kosovo’s independence" by signing a political and trade agreement, offered by the 27-nation bloc.

Kostunica is opposed to the agreement, arguing that it would amount to Belgrade’s implicit endorsement for the EU’s policy of backing Kosovo’s forthcoming independence with a police and justice mission.

Serbia's government has been on the verge of collapse this week after both the cabinet and parliament were blocked from meeting by rival supporters of the prime minister and the much more pro-European President, Boris Tadic.

[Balkan Insight]

Russian proposes new U.S. dialogue
Russia on Sunday proposed a new strategic dialogue with the United States with the aim of re-starting arms control talks and establishing closer cooperation in combating terrorism. The proposals, outlined in a speech by Sergei Ivanov, Russia's deputy prime minister and a former defense minister, marked a shift in tone and content, compared with a speech last week by President Vladimir Putin and a speech Putin delivered at the Munich Security Conference here a year ago. In both cases, Putin had spoken of a new arms race, laying the blame squarely on the United States, particularly its plans to base pieces of an anti-ballistic missile shield in Eastern Europe. But Sunday, Ivanov, speaking in English in the presence of Robert Gates, the U.S. defense secretary, and scores of foreign and defense ministers, adopted a new style.


Bosnian Serbs Meet on Constitution
February 2008 Banja Luka - The six main Bosnian Serb parties have adopted a joint platform on planned changes to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s constitution.

The platform envisages keeping the key elements of the Dayton peace accord that ended the 1992-95 war, and left the country divided into two entities, initially arranged along ethnic boundaries. [..]

[..] After meeting representatives of the six parties on Monday, the recently-elected Bosnian Serb President, Rajko Kuzmanovic, said that "the Dayton peace accord must be the basis for further talks about constitutional changes."

The international community has been pressing for amendments to the constitution since 2005.

[Balkan Insight]


Burma promises democratic elections
Military leaders' plans for a new constitution, followed by democratic elections, is met with skepticism and international criticism.

[Christian Science Monitor]
[Related story at BBC News]


Elmo Has a Question: Who Voted For the Kurd? by Weam Namou - 2/10/2008
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said that participation had "exceeded all expectations." Meanwhile, President Bush remarked, "By participating in free elections .. [Iraqi] men and women have taken rightful control of their country's destiny, and they have chosen a future of freedom and peace." Typical Bush administration, an American would say.

These elections no more reflected the will of the Iraqi people than did the elections held between 1925 and 1958 under the British occupation. During that time, the British struggled to end the violence while teaching Iraq democracy and keeping their foot in the door. They came up with this solution: place on the throne an Iraqi king, foreign born, and surround him by expatriate military officers who had spent most of their adult lives elsewhere. Sounds familiar?

The United States Constitution, adopted in 1788, provided for an elected government and protected civil rights and liberties. Already in the colonial period before 1776 most adult white men could vote. American women have had the right to vote since 1920, and they’re almost equal in number to American men, but their political roles have been minimal. Not until 1984 did a major party choose a woman, Geraldine Ferraro of New York, to run for vice-president. And it wasn’t until 1965 that the United States arrived to a complete form of democracy, allowing African-Americans to vote.

In America, there are 81.7% whites and 12.9% blacks. (2003 est.), nearly the same figures as Arabs vs. Kurds in Iraq. But while after hundreds of years of democracy, America hasn’t yet voted a black man for president, Iraq, a tribal nation, has appointed an outsider, a former enemy, as its leader? That’s like America, on the basis of him speaking English, electing someone with an Arabic accent as U.S. president.

[Global Politician]

Sunday, February 10, 2008

MSNBC Has Been Sinking in My Eyes

The Shuster Incident Was Bound to Happen
Conditions Lately at MSNBC Have Infected the Field for Such Rot

The Moderate Voice is talking about the unfortunate incident on MSNBC late last week when David Shuster, subbing for Tucker Carlson, used a term that sounded pejorative to the Clinton campaign ( and to me ) about the intentions of young Chelsea Clinton. Had he made the same comment about one of Obama's relatives, I suspect it may have gotten the journalist fired by now or the apology would've come more quickly and more sincere-sounding. [Remember what was done to Don Imus]. I'm not saying the firing would be justified, but I think I have a good handle on the decidedly different levels of reactions from MSM [particularly MSNBC] when a comment is made by a journalist that is deemed or considered to be race-based vs. sexist.

We cannot and should not tolerate double-standards.

Shuster is One of the Best They Have and Should Not Be Fired

No one has asked that Mr. Shuster be fired...nor do I think he should be. [The stuff I see going around the blogosphere about Hillary asking for Shuster's head seem to be pure hype...not true as far as anything I've officially seen].

I'm tired of the witch-hunts on individual journalists when the network itself is clearly the problem.

I appreciate David Shuster and the work he's been doing at MSNBC. On many occasions, I've seen him stand up to the decidedly loud-mouthed Joe Scarborough and challenge him with reality-based facts when Scarborough's off on one of his fact-free rants. [SEE THIS EXAMPLE]

I deeply regret that Mr. Shuster made this kind of comment about Chelsea Clinton's part in her mother's close and historic campaign against Barack Obama. I think he should've just apologized right away when Mrs. Clinton and her campaign communicated a strong opinion on the matter. The e-mail trail [see it HERE] between Mr. Shuster and Philippe Reines, Press Secretary for the Clinton campaign makes it quite apparent that Mr. Shuster did not wish (or was not ready, for whatever reason) to take responsibility for what I see as clearly an obnoxious, sexist, and unprofessional thing to have said about Chelsea Clinton...whether or not she's submitted to any of MSNBC's request for interviews. When a refusal of an interview from a campaigning family member is set as part of a fitting reason for harsh commentary, which can be clearly inferred from this professional journalist's subsequent communications, I think that the Clintons have a right to call for corrective action.

Mr. Shuster's e-mail to Mr. Reines with the interview-rationalization for his "pimped-out" commentary seems to have been a strawman thrown up in the e-mail reply to the Clinton campaign as Mr. Shuster's own [decidedly unconvincing] self-defense.

As a mother of a young adult myself, I don't think that Chelsea Clinton deserved to be classified as little more than a political whore for the Clinton campaign. (What else does the wiseguy-term "pimped-out" figuratively refer to and why are Cable News network pundits thinking they should be loosely throwing around such talk and not expect public outrage?) For the love of decency, the act of a daughter campaigning passionately for her mother, the first woman who stands a great chance to be elected President of the United States, is not at all what I'd call "unseemly".

I suspect MSNBC is caving to the effects of the Obama campaign whining "Unfair!" that Mrs. Clinton has an ex-President for a spouse and a former "first-daughter" campaigning for her in this historic and suspenseful race. It doesn't mean the public thinks it's unseemly for them to be making calls to key people on his wife's (or her mother's)behalf. Why should MSNBC be so willing to contribute to building such a frame?

There are individual occasions when many of us, as individuals, have failed to see how we've hurt or done harm to others. I have a feeling that David Shuster didn't initially realize, in the heat of slipping into the Tucker Carlson-mode on MSNBC, that he said something that a lot of us..especially women..saw as dreadfully mean-spirited and unprofessional.

I've personally heard Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews and some others on MSBNC say a good many more things in passing about Hillary Clinton - much of it sexist tripe - that I've lately been disgusted about. It started before the South Carolina primary with the manufactured race-card hype and has gotten only worse since that time.

For one example, there are more Democratic voters in Florida alone than there are in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina combined. DNC-sanctioned or not, the Florida primary took place. Obama-backer John Kerry called it a "fabricated race" because no delegates would be produced after the many real votes from real voters cast that night in Florida. Wolf Blitzer of CNN was up on the big projection screen at the Signature Grand Hotel in South Florida on the night of the primary while voters awaited the primary results and what was on MSNBC? Nothing. You wouldn't have even thought one Democrat in Florida had driven to the polls that evening. Yet, if a tree falls in the woods and no one's there to hear it, and more than a million leaves were cast from the tree, does it mean the tree didn't fall? If you're MSNBC, the vote never took place...a million or more votes were cast away and no one was supposed to even LOOK.

Going back to my own Daily Kos commentary:

Hillary Clinton showed respect for the voters..real citizens with no convention voice, by simply going to them after all was said and done and simply THANKING them for her victory [in Florida].

I noticed that MSNBC last night failed to even SHOW the results of Florida on the FLA updates last night, while both CNN and FOX didn't hide them from our sight.

Who was playing politics? MSNBC.

When we, voters from across the country, are barred from seeing the progress of one state's Democratic primary simply because the DNC took their delegates from the state (punishment enough), I see it as a form of censorship that shouldn't happen in MSM.

There was still voting in that state...and millions voted! Hardly something to be ignored for its raw result, delegates notwithstanding. - January 30, 2008
I've turned MSNBC off since that night. I wonder if they'll try to change?

Bottom-line, I like David Shuster. It's his network I'm far more concerned about.



- [Media Matters/David Brock] Statement from David Brock on Pattern of Sexist/Misogynistic Outbursts on MSNBC: "The Time for Apologies Has Passed"

- [Media Matters on how the rot spreads] Wash. Post suggested Clinton camp's "outrage" over Shuster comments is inconsistent with Chelsea's continued role
Summary: A Washington Post article stated that Chelsea Clinton "is continuing to campaign for her mother despite the campaign's outrage over a remark made by an MSNBC host, David Shuster, that she is being 'pimped out' by the campaign on her mother's behalf"; the article did not explain how the two facts are inconsistent.