Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Gas Tax Gotcha" (with video)

Washington Post (editorial), with video from ABC News (00:47):
IF THE United States had a sensible energy policy, a higher federal excise tax on motor fuels would definitely be a part of it.
Few measures would more efficiently accomplish more worthy goals -- strategic, social and environmental. The Congressional Budget Office has calculated that a 50-cents-per-gallon increase in gasoline taxes would contribute more than $300 billion to deficit reduction over five years, while reducing traffic congestion, dependence on Middle Eastern oil and greenhouse gases. Actually, the federal gas tax has been stuck at 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993, which means that, considering inflation, it has been shrinking for the past 15 years.

Of course, enacting any gasoline tax increase, let alone an increase of half a buck, would be politically difficult in normal times. Today, when the price of regular is creeping toward $4 per gallon, it is obviously a non-starter. The best we can hope for is that politicians, especially presidential candidates, will avoid exploiting the issue for short-term political advantage. Alas, that hope was not warranted in the case of Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has followed Republican John McCain in recommending a suspension of the federal gas tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This would let Americans go on vacation without that one modest additional incentive to conserve. A nonpartisan budget watchdog organization, Taxpayers for Common Sense, estimates that a typical family would save just $18 per car. And, as we explained in an editorial last week, at a time of cramped supply, prices would probably bounce back to where they were with the tax, and refiners would pocket the difference.

We do not underestimate the impact of high fuel prices on families that need their cars to get to work and school. But the gas tax is one component of the per-gallon price that comes back to benefit the motoring public, in the form of funding for road construction and maintenance. Much of the rest leaves America, going to such places as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Ms. Clinton proposes a windfall profits tax on U.S. oil companies to recapture the revenue forfeited by her proposal. Similar ideas have failed in the Senate because of oil-state objections; this one undoubtedly would, too. We have to agree with Sen. Barack Obama, the only candidate who has refused to play this game. "It's not an idea to get you through the summer," he said. "It's an idea to get them through an election."
His opponents no doubt hope that Mr. Obama's stand will prove to be political suicide. We think it qualifies as political courage.

Ron Paul, Jeremiah Wright and The Corporate Media (with video)

You can view my latest post on the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog here.

"Tom Hayden Strikes Back"

Tom Hayden:

Editor’s note: Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges wrote in a recent essay that leftists such as Tom Hayden had lost their nerve. Hayden sent us this reply.

John MacArthur, the publisher of Harper’s, should know better than to claim that some like myself have spent our lives wanting to be “players” in the Democratic Party instead of being “outside the system.” In most countries, most activists move between social movements and political parties as the need arises. I have spent 50 years in social movements, 20 of them as an elected legislator who was opposed by the party establishment, which is far from being a “player.” I believe that change always begins with independent social movements, but movements can be expanded by political representation at certain stages.

Who, for example, can forget the willingness of Sen. Mike Gravel to read the Pentagon Papers into the congressional record at great legal and political risk to himself?

I am saddened by the strange argument of Chris Hedges, who cites MacArthur in his essay “The Left Has Lost Its Way.” Chris says we should “walk away from the Democratic Party even if Barack Obama is the nominee,” and vote for Ralph Nader. If not, “we become slaves,” a truly unfortunate analogy. What Chris misses is that millions of African-Americans and young people generally are throwing themselves into the Barack Obama campaign, and will not take seriously a white writer who preaches that they are marching in the wrong direction. The analogy to slavery is absolutely inappropriate.

My view is to be humbled and appreciative of this unpredicted upsurge of idealistic and fervent activism created in the Obama movement, and to be supportive of the candidacy while remaining independent and critical of the candidate’s moderate views on Iraq and NAFTA. It’s my sense as an organizer for 50 years that we should stand with spontaneous new waves of activism, not demand that they call off their campaigns at the most critical moment. It is possible to do so without having to surrender our independence on the issues we care most about.

For that reason, some of us have created a Web site called Progressives for Obama, including myself, Bill Fletcher, Barbara Ehrenreich, Danny Glover, Cornel West, Jane Fonda, Jim Hightower, Jean Stein, Andy Stern, Anna Burger, and 300 more.

The social movements have not disappeared in 2008 but follow a logic of their own, like a river cutting its path. If the Clintons steal the nomination, the social movements will return in force.

If Obama wins the presidency, the social movements will rise with higher expectations to demand that President Obama end the Iraq war and focus on race, poverty and environmental issues at home and around the world. The left should not be a small elite outside this process.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Jeremiah Wright, Thomas Jefferson and the Wrath of God"

John Nichols (The Nation):
"Just maybe now as that dialogue begins the religious tradition that has kept hope alive for a people struggling to survive in countless hopeless situations will be understood."

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, April 28, 2008
The right response to the controversy that has been generated with regard to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. is not to run away from the United Church of Christ pastor, to condemn him, or to try to apologize for him.

Rather, it is to listen to him and to recognize that Wright's not the disease that afflicts our body politic.

Indeed, this former Marine who became an remarkably-successful and widely-respected religious leader is in possession of the balm that has frequently proven to be the cure for what ails America -- an eyes-wide-open faith in the prospect that this country can and will put aside the sins of the past and forge a future that is as just as it is righteous.

As Wright has illustrated over the past several days, in a remarkable appearance Friday on PBS' Bill Moyers Journal and in speeches to the Detroit NAACP and the National Press Club in Washington, he is the opposite of the caricature of an angry, America-hating false prophet that has been so crudely attached to him. Deeply grounded in biblical tradition, nuanced in his understanding of race relations and historically experienced in his assessments of America's strengths and weaknesses, he has much to say to this country at this time.

Not all of what Wright says is comforting.

Nor are his views universally appealing or entirely unassailable.

But they are very much within the mainstream of American religious and political discourse.

The problem is not Jeremiah Wright.

The problem is a contemporary political culture that has come to rely on character assassination as an easy tool for reversing electoral misfortune -- and a media that willingly invites manipulation.

Let's not forget how Wright became an issue in the 2008 presidential race. Republican operatives, fretful about their party's political fortunes, decided that the only way to weaken the candidacy of Wright's longtime parishioner, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, was by suggesting the Democratic presidential front-runner was in the sway of an anti-American radical.

That end was achieved by separating out from long and thoughtful sermons regarding matters biblical and political seemingly offensive phrases and then inviting the Grand Old Party's media echo chamber to repeat the sound bites until they became conventional "wisdom."

This is a classic guilt-by-association maneuver, played out so aggressively in the current circumstance that it would make Joe McCarthy blush. But it has worked, at least in part because people of good faith have not taken the time to assess and appropriately answer the charge that Obama's connection to Wright confirms the candidate to be either a closet radical or, worse yet, a dupe of some free-floating, ill-defined but still frightful fringe.

The response of Obama -- most recently in an extended and at times painful press conference on Tuesday -- and of many of his supporters has been to try to put distance between the candidate and the preacher. "They offend me," the senator said of controversial comments by the minister who presided at his wedding and baptized his children. "They rightly offend all Americans and they should be denounced. And that's what I'm doing very clearly and unequivocally today."

That's strong stuff, to be sure. But it is not likely to end the wrangling over Wright.

While it is always good to maintain America's historic wall of separation between church and state, the Obama camp has not had a lot of success so far in separating this particular statesman from his church.

That's because the candidate and his backers have consistently come across as being embarrassed and ashamed by Wright.

That's the wrong response. It's perfectly fine to disagree with Wright. And Barack Obama should do so.

But there's little if anything about this pastor that should provoke embarrassment or invite apology.

Wright can be unsettling, thought-provoking, often right and sometimes wrong. But he is neither anti-American nor unpatriotic.

In more ways than Republican and now Democratic critics seem prepared to admit, Wright is the embodiment of an American religious and political tradition of challenging the country's sins while calling it to the higher ground that extends from the founding of the republic. No less a figure than Thomas Jefferson -- who constructed that wall of separation between church and state but who worried a good deal about questions of the divine -- worried openly about the retribution that would befall a nation that permitted slavery.

"The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other," wrote Jefferson in 1781's Notes on the State of Virginia, where he asked, "(Can) the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever."

The wrath of God brought down on a country that permits slavery? A nation damned by its original sin? God damn America?

America has been blessed from its beginnings by champions of liberty, by abolitionists and civil rights marchers, by suffragists and union organizers, by anti-imperialists like Mark Twain and challengers of the military-industrial complex like Dwight Eisenhower. Necessarily, these patriots have said some tough things about American leaders and policies. They have acknowledged flaws that are self-evident. Yet, they have not done so out of hatred. Rather, they have loved America sufficiently to believe it can be as good and as just as figures so diverse and yet in some very important ways so similar as Thomas Jefferson and Jeremiah Wright have taught us.

"Obama to 82 year old, 'Will you be my running mate?'" (video)

Horseface18, video (02:15):
"Don't hit on Hillary, bring us all back, let her do that stuff. Leave her alone, you don't need to do that, you are higher than that. Bring us up higher than that," Weiss said with 82 years of experience. Wilmington , NC. April 28, 2008

"The Wright Speech" (video)

Video (06:58):
Barack Obama, April 29, 2008.

Gutter Politics

You can view my latest post on the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog here.

"Obama Heads for Superdelegate Edge"

Wall Street Journal:
Despite his loss in Pennsylvania and other campaign bumps, Barack Obama is heavily favored to win what will be the final and decisive contest for the Democratic presidential nomination -- the "invisible primary" for the convention votes of party leaders.

[Barack Obama]

The reasons say a lot about these superdelegates' calculations for the November elections -- the presidential one, or their own.

The 795 superdelegates, who can vote for any nominee, fall into one of two groups -- the elected and the unelected.

Sen. Obama has taken the lead among elected officials, and Monday got the endorsement of New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman, though Sen. Hillary Clinton will counter Tuesday with a commitment from Gov. Mike Easley, whose North Carolina holds the next primary. Sen. Clinton still leads by double digits among nonelected national and state party officials, but her edge has been narrowing.

The elected are the party's 28 governors, 234 House members, 49 senators and assorted big-city mayors and state officeholders. Democrats in both camps say that for many, these superdelegates' decisions to endorse someone -- or stay uncommitted -- reflect their answer to the question: What is best for my political future?

The nonelected superdelegates are the more than 400 national and state party officers of the Democratic National Committee. While many lean to the candidate who would draw more votes in their states, Democrats say that for most the bigger question is this: Who has the best chance of winning the White House?

Among elected officials, Sen. Obama leads in endorsements from governors and senators. He is behind among House members by one, but both camps expect him to pull ahead unless he does badly in next Tuesday's Indiana and North Carolina primaries. If he doesn't stumble, enough elected Democrats are expected to back Sen. Obama after the last primaries June 3 to give him the delegate majority needed for nomination.

Many of them see Sen. Obama as more electable than Sen. Clinton. But even those who don't have been impressed by his grass-roots organizing and fund raising and the legions of new voters he has attracted, particularly younger and African-American voters.

The politicians -- especially Democrats with significant African-American populations or college campuses in their districts -- see benefit for themselves in these new voters. By contrast, many see Sen. Clinton's alienating some general-election voters.

A Democratic strategist to congressional candidates cites Sen. Clinton's high negative ratings in opinion polls. Politicians "all think Obama will stimulate African-American turnout, and they all know there's no way she gets independents or Republicans," says the strategist, who is unaligned in the presidential race.

Sen. Clinton still leads in endorsements from nonelected officials. Many have known her and former President Clinton since the couple's White House years, or worked for them then.

The Clinton campaign is counting on this group to be fertile ground to sow doubts about Sen. Obama's electability, citing his weaker showings in big states and among working-class whites, seniors and Roman Catholics.

The Obama camp late last week countered by emailing superdelegates a memo citing state polls to argue that either Democrat could beat Sen. John McCain, the likely Republican nominee, in the big states where Sen. Clinton beat Sen. Obama in the primaries, such as California and New York. But Sen. Obama, the memo contended, would "put new states in play."

His campaign also just announced a 50-state voter mobilization. That reflects another pitch to nonelected party officials: That Sen. Obama would work to build the party even in Republican "red" states, and has the money to do it, while Sen. Clinton focuses only on Democratic "blue" states and battlegrounds such as Ohio.

Interviews with party officials suggest this appeal has effectively exploited lingering resentments that the DNC, under President Clinton, abandoned the red states. "Obama has made it absolutely clear he's committed to the 50-state strategy, and the Clintons obviously aren't," says Nebraska party chairman Steve Achepohl, who endorsed Sen. Obama last week. "That's a major factor for all the party people in smaller states."

About 300 of the 795 superdelegates remain uncommitted; they don't have to endorse anyone until Aug. 27 at the Democrats' Denver convention. Party Chairman Howard Dean, among others, is urging them to go public after the primaries end.

Many have remained uncommitted either because they aren't sold on either candidate or, given the close race and each side's passions, they don't want to anger large blocs of voters. Also, House Democratic leaders have begun advising vulnerable Democrats against endorsing anyone.

In recent special elections in Mississippi and Louisiana, Republicans sought to tie Democrats to statements by Sen. Obama's pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., whose sermons have been criticized as unpatriotic and racially charged.

"The ones that are squirming the most are a lot of these freshmen congressmen," says longtime California consultant Bill Carrick. A number were elected from Republican-leaning districts in 2006, when Democrats regained control of Congress. "All of them assume they're going to have pretty competitive campaigns in the fall, and they don't want to have to tell one group of their constituents that they're going with the other candidate."

[The Other Primary]

When the year began, about 200 of the superdelegates had taken sides, most for Sen. Clinton. Her campaign, including Mr. Clinton, had quickly signed up Clinton-administration veterans, others on the DNC and elected officials in Arkansas and New York, so that she initially led Sen. Obama by more than 100.

But the Obama campaign correctly figured that she had gotten the easy pickings and that the rest were up for grabs. Once he began winning more states than she did, her endorsements slowed to a trickle, and her lead eroded to less than two dozen now.

Bob Mulholland, a longtime California party official, says he "absolutely" will remain uncommitted until after June 3, so voters speak first. Then the candidate with the most delegates "is going to be in very good shape to get the superdelegates."

Many superdelegates increasingly seem to share the view that ultimately they should support the candidate with the most pledged delegates. Almost certainly that will be Sen. Obama. "They argue that if the party insiders took this away from the winner of the voters' process, that could be disastrous for the party. And I agree with that," says Mr. Achepohl, the Nebraska Democratic chairman.

Clinton supporters privately contend the argument that party leaders should rubber-stamp the pledged-delegate winner reflects racial pressures. They complain that Obama backers are fanning talk of mutiny among Democrats' most loyal constituency -- black voters -- if Sen. Obama loses his bid to be the first African-American nominee of a major party after he had won the most pledged delegates. That could imperil Democrats' majority in Congress.

The Clinton side argues superdelegates should decide independently, as party rules intended, to guard against nominating an unelectable standard-bearer.

"Superdelegates must look to not one criterion but to the full panoply of factors that will help them assess who will be the party's strongest nominee in the general election," wrote 20 pro-Clinton fund-raisers last month to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They were protesting her pronouncements that superdelegates should ratify the pledged-delegates winner, and pointedly reminded her of their past contributions to congressional Democrats.

The letter angered Rep. Pelosi, but Clinton advisers say the shot across the bow was worth it.

They believe Rep. Pelosi is for Sen. Obama, rather than impartial as she insists. Their aim was the audience of uncommitted superdelegates.

"Politics: The Wright stuff"

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Editorial Board:
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright's defense of himself ought to be welcomed as an exercise of his rights. We have no idea how it will actually play into the campaign. But as pundits suggest, any mention of Sen. Barack Obama's pastor leads to the media's Pavlovian response: Run sensational video loops, check ratings, charge advertisers. Repeat.

As predictable as that may be, it's up to voters to decide how to respond, especially in deciding what, if any, significance the whole overhyped subject has to the Democrats' primary battle. Most will never like the excerpts but many already view them in a wider context of African-American history, religious and civic. A wider acquaintance with Wright and his work may neutralize the discussion.

We're certainly no experts on Wright, his congregation or Chicago. But the narrative of a wild, angry anti-American extremist doesn't ring true. As some have noted, Wright volunteered to join the Marines in the early 1960s, went on to become a Navy cardiopulmonary technician and earned letters of commendation for his White House service. A white congregant recently wrote about how Wright took hours to talk his African-American fiancée out of breaking their engagement over concerns about marrying outside her race. They've been married 25 some years.

Over the course of a long public career, Wright has misspoken a time or two. Americans can listen to him directly address the criticisms and go on to have a presidential election that revolves around greater matters.

Monday, April 28, 2008

"Obama's Outreach To Republicans"

You can view my latest guest post on the Northwest Progressive Institute Official blog here.

"Reverend Jeremiah Wright National Press Club pt.1" (video) (Updated)

Part 5 is here and Part 6 is here.
UPDATE: Part 2 of the video is here. Part 3 is here. Part 4 is here.
UPDATE: Here's the transcript.

CSPANJUNKIEdotORG, video (10:42):
April 28, 2008 C-SPAN 2
Howie P.S.: I'm still looking for parts 2, etc. and I will post them here if I locate them. If you want to watch Jeremiah Wright speaking last night at the NAACP in Detroit, go here.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"Hillary and her old enemies cuddle up for a kill"

You can view my latest guest post on the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog here.

"Why Is It So Quiet After the Moyers-Wright Interview?"

Dave Winer:
I expected a roaring debate in the political blogosphere this morning, and on cable news after the Friday night Bill Moyers interview with Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Instead, there's eerie quiet.
The most I could find was this post on Protein Wisdom saying that Moyers didn't play hardball with Wright. It's true, he didn't. Instead he did what I wish more journalists would, he interviewed him in a way that helped us get to know the person. He let him speak his piece, so we could listen.

There's so much to admire about Rev. Wright, but first, the shame of the professional media, who hounded not only Wright, but members of his congregation, including a woman in a hospice, to try to uncover more dirt about Wright and thereby embarrass Barack Obama.

Wright isn't running for office, he points out, it isn't his job to get our vote, it's his job to help his congregation, to help them understand the world they live in, to help them do better in that world, and to prepare them for what they believe comes in the afterlife.

A picture named wringer-bdy.jpgWatching Wright, I wondered if Sean Hannity's preacher could stand up to the kind of objectification this man has withstood. What about Tim Russert's? How about the people who are close to Charlie Gibson and Andrea Mitchell? And how about the CEOs of Time-Warner, GE, the Sulzbergers and the Murdochs? These people have never run for office, they've never been vetted or elected. Could they come out so well after being put through the wringer that Wright has been through.

I think the silence comes from the fact that there still is some humanity in the press and in the blogosphere, and those who watched Moyers and really listened to Wright, realized that he's not a liability to Obama, he's an asset. At least some of the polish, the quiet confidence, self-respect, intelligence and grace we see in Obama must have rubbed off this man.

Watching Wright gave me pride in being an American, and shame at the same time, for coming from a country so willing to objectify and villify this person before checking out whether the characterization was accurate. Even the supposedly courageous and thorough NY Times calls his oratory "racist" in an editorial in today's paper. Based on what? I've watched the sermons that have been excerpted; if these are racist, then every other preacher in the US is racist too.

Wright says the religion of the people on the deck of a slave ship must be different from the religion from the people under the deck. On the deck, god is justifying the practice of slavery, and below -- god gives them hope that someday they will be free. My people, the Jews, understand this very well, it's part of our tradition. We've just celebrated the holiday of Passover, a feast that's all about the pride of an enslaved people. If we're still telling the story, passing it down from generation to generation, after 3000 years, why should we be critical of the African-Americans who are telling the story of their enslavement, which ended only 145 years ago, and whose manifestations are still with us today.

We, the United States, have made mistakes, and those mistakes are as much who we are as our triumphs. The failures leave behind people and their culture, their music, their legends, their religion and their hopes. Sure it seems strange when you hear it for the first time, but that's good! Because the second time it's not so strange, and eventually it becomes part of our melting pot, and enriches all our lives.

If you haven't watched the Wright interview, make the time to do so. You won't be sorry.

"Barack Obama interview with Fox’s Chris Wallace" (with video)

Raw Replay, with video (35:33), (scroll down for video).
Howie P.S.: In his haste to get dressed for the interview, Chris must have forgotten to put on his flag pin.

Dean Duels Tim On "Meet The Press" (video)

MSNBC, video (click on "Watch the netcast").

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"No-Pin" McCain On The Campaign Trail

Early in April, I noticed that McCain was not wearing a pin as I looked at photos taken from 4/4/08 to 4/8/08. Then I went back to a photo taken at the MTV debate (top photo) and, nope, "no pin."

"Obama loss may not be about race, but gender"

Jonathan Tilove (Newhouse News Service via Seattle Times):
There has been much reporting and commentary in the aftermath of the Pennsylvania primary about Sen. Barack Obama's failure to "close the deal" with white voters.

But an analysis of Pennsylvania results indicates that Obama's trouble may not be so much with whites — working class or otherwise — but with white women. And their overwhelming preference for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton may have less to do with any resistance to the prospect of a first black president, and more to do with their powerful desire to see the equally history-making election of a first female president.
"If you really look at the numbers, it's clear that this is a gender impact," said David Bositis, a senior research associate at the nonpartisan Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington. Obama's perceived weakness with the white working class, Bositis said, is largely an artifact of Clinton's powerful appeal to women, who comprise the greater number of working-class voters in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

"The media seems to want to read race into a lot of things that are going on when it may actually have little to do with it," Bositis said.

White women, according to exit polls, made up 46 percent of those voting Tuesday, and Clinton carried them 68 percent to 32 percent.

By contrast, she carried white men by 57 percent to 43 percent, and they made up 33 percent of those voting.

Moreover, exit polls found, 14 percent of the Pennsylvania electorate were women who said the candidates' gender was important in deciding how to vote. Clinton won that group by 77 percent to 23 percent. Bositis said that means those voters accounted for 7.6 percentage points of her overall advantage over Obama, or 82 percent of her total victory margin of 9.3 points.

Yet, rather than being read as evidence of a Clinton strength, these results mostly have been interpreted as a worrying sign for Obama's ultimate general-election chances.

For Obama, Bositis' analysis is both bad and good.

The bad news is that white female voters, who exercise power in the primaries because of their relatively high turnout, continue to rally behind Clinton. They could continue to frustrate Obama's efforts to end the contest before the close of the primary season in June.

The good news for Obama is that his defeat in Pennsylvania, and his decisive loss among white voters Tuesday, may not indicate, as some observers and Clinton partisans have contended, a fatal weakness with white voters that could doom his chances against Sen. John McCain in November.

Instead, his poor fortunes with white women may be of a piece with Clinton's dismal showing with black voters, male and female. If Clinton hasn't been able to compete for black votes with a man poised to become the first black president, so too Obama, to a lesser extent, may have trouble with white female voters as he attempts to end the candidacy of the person who would become the first female president.

Despite current hard feelings, Bositis said, Obama would better McCain among female voters — who have been trending Democratic for many years — in the general election, just as most black voters ultimately would vote for Clinton if she were the nominee.

Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, who has been working hard for Clinton as head of the NOW political-action committee, agreed.

"There will be some healing to be done — there's more than a little bad blood on both sides." But, she said, she can't imagine many Democratic women deserting to McCain.

The tendency to view the Pennsylvania vote through the lens of race might be understandable.

As Obama has been closing in on becoming the first black major-party nominee in U.S. history, his campaign has been tossed by racial controversy surrounding the inflammatory sermons of his longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and a speech Obama delivered in Philadelphia attempting to place the Wright controversy in a broader context of race in America.

A subsequent controversy arose over remarks he made in California that were criticized as being condescending toward whites in small-town Pennsylvania.

But polls in Pennsylvania and nationally did not seem to record a profound negative shift in Obama's fortunes. And one would presume if there were the makings of a racial backlash against Obama, it would not be less pronounced among white men than white women.

In a pre-election Temple Poll, which completed its surveying April 9, political scientist Michael Hagen found that white men liked Obama better than they liked Clinton, although it was close. But white women had a far more favorable view of Clinton than of Obama. The only category of white women who preferred Obama were those younger than 30.

"I think a lot of people who've been thinking about this race in Pennsylvania have been so attentive to the obvious excitement of the Obama candidacy, we may have underestimated to some degree the excitement of Sen. Clinton's supporters," Hagen said. "It is an historic candidacy, after all."

For Obama, Pennsylvania was a particularly tough state because its population is whiter, far older and more working class than the national average — perfect for Clinton, who throughout the primaries has done better with older voters, working-class white voters and women.

And Clinton's support among women also may have been stoked by dismissive treatment in the news media of her candidacy, and calls for her to quit.

"Certainly the media coverage has gotten some hackles up," Gandy of the NOW said.

Or, as Ann Lewis, a senior campaign adviser to Clinton, put it: "There is a real anger among women at what people see as a pattern of trivialization of Hillary, of making jokes at her expense and minimizing her seriousness. And every time they see something like that, boy it reminds them of the times in their own lives when they've faced the same thing."

"Clinton Sidesteps Questions About Staying in the Race"

The Trail (WaPo's political blog):
GARY, Ind. -- Hillary Clinton, who vowed earlier this month to stay in the race until Democratic officials figured out a way to seat the delegations of Michigan and Florida at the party's national convention in August, hinted yesterday that she might reconsider the state of her campaign if she loses in Indiana.
In satellite interviews with television stations in Indiana and Kentucky, Clinton three times sidestepped questions about whether she would remain in the race if she lost Indiana's May 6 primary.

"We have a long way to go," Clinton told a Louisville station when asked if she would campaign in Kentucky if she lost Indiana. "I'm looking forward to coming up to Kentucky." The Bluegrass State holds a primary on May 20.

Pressed on the question, she said, "Well, I don't make any predictions or speculate on things that haven't happened yet."

Asked a similar question by a station in Evansville, Ind., she hewed to her message and avoided future commitments. "I'm thinking about how I'm going to do well in Indiana," she said.

More than a week before critical votes in Indiana and North Carolina, Clinton spent yesterday making stops in Obama country. The senator started off in Jacksonville, N.C., challenging Obama to a debate in the Tar Heel State four different times in a single speech. Obama holds a double-digit lead in some North Carolina polls and has not committed to a debate there.

Clinton then flew to Indiana, holding a rally at the University of Indiana in Bloomington, and also events in Gary and East Chicago, Ind., areas close to Chicago that are likely to be strongholds for her opponent. Clinton aides said that they hope to limit Obama's margin in areas where he is strong, and that the former first lady is determined to keep wooing college students and blacks no matter how strong Obama is among those groups.

Though polls show a deadlocked race in Indiana, Clinton cast herself as the underdog.

"It's going to be a tough state for me. About twenty-five percent of the state gets media from Chicago, which is certainly an advantage for Senator Obama," she said in an interview with an Evansville television station. "He is running a lot of ads, outspending me."
Howie P.S.: IMHO this is about trying to tamp down perceptions that she is a "dead-ender" who is more focused on her own campaign than Democratic prospects in November.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Bill Moyers & Jeremiah Wright (video)

PBS, transcript and video Pt. 1 (30:13)and Pt. 2 (22:39):

Bill Moyers interviews the Reverend Jeremiah Wright in his first broadcast interview with a journalist since he became embroiled in a controversy for his remarks and his relationship with Barack Obama. Wright, who retired in early 2008 as pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where Senator Obama is a member, has been at the center of controversy for comments he made during sermons, which surfaced in the press in March.

"Obama For America Campaign Headquarters" (video)

BarackObamadotcom, video (05:36):
CBS Nightly News with Katie Couric visits Obama Campaign Headquarters in Chicago, Illinois.
Katie follows up with this post. While I was on's YouTube channel they were posting this video from MSNBC, "Chuck Todd: 'Impossible for Obama to Lose His Lead."

"Obama-DNC Fundraising Deal"

Mark Halperin (The Page-TIME):
After a series of discussions, the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee have decided to file papers with the Federal Election Commission establishing a “joint fundraising agreement.” Under the law, such a committee can accept up to $28,500 from individuals, most of which would go to the DNC.
Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain has already formed such an alliance with the Republican National Committee. Their group — called Victory — was created in March after McCain clinched the GOP nomination and is headed by McCain adviser Carly Fiorina.

Sources say the DNC has also held talks with Hillary Clinton’s campaign about forming a separate vehicle with her, but that no deal has been struck.

The fact that the Obama campaign is moving forward and Clinton is not at this time reflects certain important realities: Obama’s team is more confident that he will win the nomination than is Clinton’s — and Obama’s campaign has the necessity and luxury of thinking about and planning for the general election to come.

As part of that preparation, the campaign is thinking about how to divide up roles and responsibilities between the campaign’s Chicago headquarters and the DNC in Washington.

The DNC has stood out during this election cycle as the one major party entity that has not been raising money like gangbusters, and officials in both camps hope the joint agreement can allow the DNC to tap into Obama’s extraordinary leverage and popularity with donors, particularly after he secures the nomination — assuming he does.

The committee formed under the agreement is still in search of a final name.

Friday Morning Obama Round-Up (excerpts)

"Obama Campaign's Memo to Superdelegates" (Wall Street Journal):
After 45 contests, Senator Obama has won more delegates, twice as many states and territories, and more of the popular vote. He's won in every part of the country, and has scored victories among every segment of electorate. He's inspired Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, building an unprecedented coalition of more than 1.4 million contributors. And when it comes to head-to-head match-ups versus John McCain, Obama performs better than Clinton in key states and shows the potential to put new states in play for Democrats up and down the ballot.
"Obama plans major drive to register voters" (Chicago Tribune):
Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign is planning to unveil a "massive" voter registration drive, one that will reach all 50 states and seeks to boost confidence in him as a potential general election candidate.

A senior campaign official is expected to provide details about the effort in a conference call Friday.
"Plouffe's Not Worried About Racial Polarization" (Marc Ambinder):
Now, listen, this is a heated contest. So our supporters, the Clinton supporters -- this question of will you vote for the other person in the election in the fall -- you know, there's hard feelings. So a lot of people are saying no, but we seem to forget history. There's always hard feelings, and then the party comes together.

"A Next Generation Vent"

Andrew Sullivan (my new Best Friend):
A reader writes:

Isn’t it crazy how all the hope you’ve had for your country your whole life can be drained out of you in one primary election cycle? I’m 26 and if this thing takes the turn it looks like it’s going to take, this will be the very last time I submit myself to this. I’m not built for this sort of disappointment. After the last 8 years, I can’t believe we are still trapped in the same gutter of fear and deception.

Maybe everyone was right about Obama. Maybe I have been naïve. The Clintons knew all along it would come to this. Maybe they didn’t expect it now, but they knew they’d have to get the White House this way. They’re just breaking out their General Election game early. And it’s genius. They ARE monsters.

But they are also wrong and it really is time to chill about the Clintons (memo to self: take your own advice).

Obama is not way to the "left" of the Clintons. (His only substantive policy difference with Clinton is on healthcare where is marginally to their right.) He obviously does care about working class voters, white and black. Why else would an Ivy League educated lawyer return to Chicago to work as a community organizer for the urban poor? He has a message and an approach that can unify - and no Democrat is going to win the White House by pivoting off white discomfort with a black man.

The next generation, meanwhile, needs to get real. This was never going to be easy or simple. Real change never is. Abandoning the process in the face of raw cynicism is what the Clintons want. They have to freeze out the millions of new voters if they are to retain their grip over their party. But the truth remains: with these millions of new voters and new donors, they can be defeated - and have been defeated. Despite massive advantages, the Clintons have been singularly unable to close the deal that was theirs' for the asking only six months ago.

What they're doing now is trying to out-psyche us. It's all they have left. Don't let them get into your head!

Dwight Pelz: "It's time for us to end this"

NY Daily News:
"It's time for us to end this," added Dwight Pelz, Washington State party chairman and undecided superdelegate. "The candidates are tearing each other apart, and it's not good for the party. I think we need to have a candidate."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

"Should Obama Play Rougher?"

Joe Klein brings the campaign talk down to sea level:
But part of the problem with editorial writers — and, truth to tell, columnists like me — is a narrow definition of the qualifications necessary to be President. It helps to be a warrior, for one thing. It helps to be able to take a punch and deliver one — even, sometimes, a sucker punch. A certain familiarity with life as it is lived by normal Americans is useful; a distance from the élite precincts of academia, where unrepentant terrorists can sip wine in good company, is essential. Hillary Clinton has learned these lessons the hard way; Barack Obama thinks they are "the wrong lessons." The nomination is, obviously, his to lose. But the presidency will not be won if he doesn't learn that the only way to reach the high-minded conversation he wants, and the country badly needs, is to figure out how to maneuver his way through the gutter.
Howie P.S.: The argument for restraint against Clinton and avoiding dealing with the "gutter" until the race against McCain is underway is about keeping the Clinton supporters on board, assuming Obama is the nominee.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Barack Obama Post-Pennsylvania Primary Speech" (video)

Veracifier, video (06:17):
Barack Obama speech following Pennsylvania primary, April 22, 2008

"The Near-Triumph Of Rovism"

You can view my latest guest post on The Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog here.

PA is Ground Zero Today

Booman lives there and breathes progressive politics 24/7.

TPM's Election Central has ongoing coverage and news from PA.

Marc Ambinder has some exit polling and other stuff.

Huffington Post has ongoing coverage and stories.

Ben Smith has got links and more.

"Norm Dicks to flip endorsement if Clinton doesn’t win 'big'"

David Goldstein (HA):
Speaking before a crowd of about a hundred Democrats at a fundraiser yesterday, U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (WA-06) reportedly said that if Hillary Clinton wins “big” in today’s Pennsylvania primary, he believes the nominating contest will go all the way to the convention, but… if she does not win big — and given the current polling he has no expectation that she will — there would be no way the math could work for her, and he’d flip his endorsement to Barack Obama in order to help end the contest sooner rather than later.

Dicks did not provide details, but he left the impression with attendees that he has discussed this scenario with several of his fellow Congressional superdelegates, and that he is alone in neither his analysis nor his intentions.

So think of Dicks as the canary in the coal mine of the Clinton campaign; if he flips, other superdelegates will likely flip with him. And that would signal the end of Clinton’s presidential ambitions.

Monday, April 21, 2008

"Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Praises Farrakhan and N.O.I." (video)

You can view my guest post on the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog here.

"Obama for America - Pennsylvania Primary Watch Party!"

Karen Russell:
Calling all Obama supporters in the Greater Seattle Area! You have made the calls, sent postcards, raised money and worked hard to get the vote out in Pennsylvania.

Now, you are invited to a Pennsylvania Primary Results Watch Party. Come and celebrate all of our hard work. Come and chat about the race with fellow Obama supporters. Stand with the people of Pennsylvania as they stand for change. As always, kids are welcome! As my friend's toddler likes to say, "GOBAMA!"

As you know, Senator Obama had the largest rally of the primary campaign season in Philadelphia last Friday when more than 35,000 people came to listen to his message of unifying America. If the polls trends hold it looks like the results will be a lot closer than anyone could have imagined only 3 weeks ago!!
Seattle Obama For America Pennsylvania Primary Watch Party
Tuesday, April 22 at 5:00 PM until ...
F.X. McRory's Steak Chop & Oyster House
419 Occidental Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98104

Please RSVP here:
Pretty please.

Howie P.S.: From
You've done it again. We asked for positive, persuasive Obama ads, and MoveOn members across the nation responded—sending in more than 1,000 creative and amazing videos.

Now, help pick a winner: watch some of these ads today, and tell us which ones you think are most powerful. The finalists will be seen by a panel of top film professionals, artists, and netroots heroes—and the winning ad will be aired on national TV.

One warning: this may be addictive. Some ads may make you laugh, some may make you cry, and we can pretty much guarantee that you won't be able to watch just one. So, that being said...

Can you start voting in MoveOn's Obama in 30 Seconds contest today? Just click here to begin:

"Face The Nation's Bob Schieffer on Patriotism and Flag Pins" (video)

You can view my latest guest post on the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog here.


VOTERSTHINKdotORG, video (10:39),from the CNN Compassion Forum. You can link to pts. 2-6 there, as well.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Meet The Press: "Lead-up to Pa. Primary" (video)

MSNBC, with video (49:18):
Two days before the Pa. presidential primary, we hosted an exclusive debate: Obama's Chief Strategist David Axelrod squared off against Hillary Clinton's new chief strategist Geoff Garin. Then, we had a political roundtable with David Brooks of the New York Times, E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post and Michele Norris of NPR.
Howie P.S.: Russert asks some of the questions about Clinton that weren't asked during the ABC debate. Andrew Sullivan casts Tuesday's election in Pennsylvania in epic terms
Even after all the hype, this Tuesday’s vote in Pennsylvania will be a watershed primary election. This isn’t because it could determine whether Hillary Clinton’s campaign continues on its brutal, nihilistic path towards the destruction of the most promising figure in the Democratic party since Kennedy.

It isn’t because it’s been an age since the last primary vote and every nasty toxin in American culture has been drawn to the surface by the Clinton poultice. It isn’t even because Pennsylvania is an indisputably important and large state that any Democrat needs to win in November.

It is because the Clintons have turned Pennsylvania into a microcosm of what they think the general election will be in November. And the Clintons are running as the Rove Republicans. If they fail to destroy Barack Obama as effectively as Karl Rove – Bush’s master of the dark arts – destroyed Al Gore and John Kerry in 2000 and 2004, with tactics just as brutal but even more personal, then they will have driven American politics to a critical point. They will have shown that the paradigm that has reigned in US politics for at least two decades has been shattered.

Barack Obama on The Colbert Report: "Manufactured Political Distractions" (video)

You can view my guest post on the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog here.

McCain: "Better Off?" (video)

You can view my guest post on the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog here.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

"Obama Delivers Message At Independence Mall" (with video)

CBS3 (PA), with video (02:01):
The Obama campaign believed that the rally at Independence Hall was a defining moment for the senator, not only because of the shear size of the crowd, but also because of the senator's message and where he said it.
Drawing from the historic grounds of Independence Hall Senator Barack Obama reached back to the country's foundation.

"It was over 200 years ago that a group of patriots gathered in this city to do something that no one in the world believed they could do," Senator Obama said.

Senator Obama then catapulted back to the present and laid down his central theme of the evening.

"This election is our chance to declare our independence, to declare our independence from the broken politics of Washington," Obama said.

A crowd of several thousands stretched from Independence Hall to the stage at the Visitor's Center making it one of Obama's biggest rallies ever.

"I thought it was awesome. I just came here from Brooklyn. I got off the bus and came right over," one supporter said.

But with polls indicating the race in Pennsylvania getting tighter, separated by just a few points, depending on the poll the goal of the Obama campaign was to also change minds.

"He was even better in person than when we've been seeing him on television," one Obama supporter said.

"We're a house divided. I'm a Hillary supporter and I came to hear him and I was very impressed. So now I'm back on the fence," the Obama supporter's wife said.

And Senator Obama will remain in the area campaigning Saturday with stops scheduled in Wynnewood and Paoli.

PASSOVER begins at sundown

I'm taking a day off from posting. You may call it spin-fatigue, Jewish guilt or sheer sloth.

Friday, April 18, 2008

"Journalists Slam ABC Debate Tactics (Open Letter)"

The Nation:
In an open letter to ABC, journalists and media commentator condemn the network's poor handling of the April 16 Democratic presidential debate.

We the undersigned deplore the conduct of ABC's George Stephanopoulos and Charles Gibson at the Democratic Presidential debate on April 16. The debate was a revolting descent into tabloid journalism and a gross disservice to Americans concerned about the great issues facing the nation and the world.

This is not the first Democratic or Republican presidential debate to emphasize gotcha questions over real discussion. However, it is, so far, the worst.

For 53 minutes, we heard no question about public policy from either moderator. ABC seemed less interested in provoking serious discussion than in trying to generate cheap shot sound-bites for later rebroadcast. The questions asked by Mr. Stephanopoulos and Mr. Gibson were a disgrace, and the subsequent attempts to justify them by claiming that they reflect citizens' interest are an insult to the intelligence of those citizens and ABC's viewers. Many thousands of those viewers have already written to ABC to express their outrage.

The moderators' occasional later forays into substance were nearly as bad. Mr. Gibson's claim that the government can raise revenues by cutting capital gains tax is grossly at odds with what taxation experts believe. Both candidates tried, repeatedly, to bring debate back to the real problems faced by ordinary Americans. Neither moderator allowed them to do this.

We're at a crucial moment in our country's history, facing war, a terrorism threat, recession, and a range of big domestic challenges. Large majorities of our fellow Americans tell pollsters they're deeply worried about the country's direction. In such a context, journalists moderating a debate--who are, after all, entrusted with free public airwaves--have a particular responsibility to push and engage the candidates in serious debate about these matters. Tough, probing questions on these issues clearly serve the public interest. Demands that candidates make pledges about a future no one can predict or excessive emphasis on tangential "character" issues do not. This applies to candidates of both parties.

Neither Mr. Gibson nor Mr. Stephanopoulos lived up to these responsibilities. In the words of Tom Shales of the Washington Post, Mr. Gibson and Mr. Stephanopoulos turned in "shoddy, despicable performances." As Greg Mitchell of Editor and Publisher, describes it, the debate was a "travesty." We hope that the public uproar over ABC's miserable showing will encourage a return to serious journalism in debates between the Democratic and Republican nominees this fall. Anything less would be a betrayal of the basic responsibilities that journalists owe to their public.

Spencer Ackerman, The Washington Independent
Eric Alterman, City University of New York
Dean Baker, The American Prospect Online
Steven Benen, The Carpetbagger Report
Julie Bergman Sender, Balcony Films
Ari Berman, The Nation
Brian Beutler, The Media Consortium
Michael Berube, Crooked Timber, the University of Pennsylvania
Joel Bleifuss, In These Times
Sam Boyd, The American Prospect
Lakshmi Chaudry, In These Times
Joe Conason, Journalist and Author
Brad DeLong, Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal and UC Berkeley
Kevin Drum, The Washington Monthly
Henry Farrell, Crooked Timber, George Washington University
James Galbraith, University of Texas at Austin
Todd Gitlin, Columbia University, TPM Cafe
Merrill Goozner (formerly Chicago Tribune)
Ilan Goldenberg, The National Security Network
Robert Greenwald, Brave New Films
Christopher Hayes, The Nation
Don Hazen, Alternet
Michael Kazin, Georgetown University
Ed Kilgore, The Democratic Strategist
Richard Kim, The Nation
Ezra Klein, The American Prospect
Mark Kleiman, UCLA/The Reality Based Community
Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed
Ari Melber, The Nation
Rick Perlstein, Campaign for America's Future
Katha Pollitt, The Nation
David Roberts, Grist
Thomas Schaller, Columnist, The Baltimore Sun
Mark Schmitt, The New America Foundation
Adele Stan, The Media Consortium
Jonathan Stein, Mother Jones Magazine
Mark Thoma, The Economist's View
Michael Tomasky, The Guardian
Cenk Uygur, The Young Turks
Tracy Van Slyke, The Media Consortium
Kai Wright, The Root
Howie P.S.: The key point
We hope that the public uproar over ABC's miserable showing will encourage a return to serious journalism in debates between the Democratic and Republican nominees this fall. Anything less would be a betrayal of the basic responsibilities that journalists owe to their public.