According to Gallup:

Many credited Clinton’s strong appeal to Hispanics for helping her win the important Feb. 5 California primary, and her support among this key group gives the campaign hope for a comeback victory in the March 4 Texas primary. But the tracking data suggest her support advantage among Hispanics may be eroding, at least on a national level. In the Feb. 5-9 data, Clinton led Obama by nearly 2-to-1, 63%-32%, among Hispanic Democratic voters.

In the most recent polling, the two are essentially tied among this constituency, with 50% preferring Obama and 46% Clinton.

He’s made gains in other key constituencies as well. Interesting poll…check it out.

Hat tip: Politicalinaction.com

From Politico.com

Clinton targets pledged delegates
By: Roger Simon
Feb 19, 2008 05:48 AM EST

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign intends to go after delegates whom Barack Obama has already won in the caucuses and primaries if she needs them to win the nomination.

This strategy was confirmed to me by a high-ranking Clinton official on Monday. And I am not talking about superdelegates, those 795 party big shots who are not pledged to anybody. I am talking about getting pledged delegates to switch sides.

Rest of article is HERE.

Why don’t you mull over THAT bit of news, and form your own opinion about it. I know what my opinion is.

UPDATE:

The Clinton Campaign puts out this statement-

Hillary spokesperson Phil Singer is adamantly denying a report this morning in The Politico quoting an anonymous campaign official suggesting that the Clinton campaign will pursue Obama’s pledged delegates. Singer sends me this:

We have not, are not and will not pursue the pledged delegates of Barack Obama. It’s now time for the Obama campaign to be clear about their intentions.

I believe Roger Simon. Have no reason not to.

Hat Tip: a JJP reader

Leave it to the Brits to tell us THE TRUTH.

From the London Times:


Clinton’s camp has been circulating stories criticising the “cult” of Obama in the hope of portraying “Obamania” as a mass delusion. Media Matters, a watchdog organisation sympathetic to Clinton, compiled a report headlined, “Media figures call Obama supporters’ behaviour ‘creepy’, compare them to Hare Krishna and Charles Manson followers”.

It was forwarded by Sidney Blumenthal, a top Clinton adviser, to select reporters. The campaign entered a nasty phase last week with the determination of Clinton’s team to revive delegates from the “ghost” primaries of Michigan and Florida, by legal action if necessary.

Read the rest of the article detailing how the Clinton camp has decided on a ‘ bully’ strategy. But, as I wrote down below, I had no doubt as from where the latest Anti-Obama Memos were originating.

Distorting Michelle Obama

19 Feb 2008

Yesterday Republicans were up in arms over Michelle Obama’s alleged proclamation that she was only proud of her country because her husband was running for president. This was the quote they used:

“For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country,” she told a Milwaukee crowd today, “because it feels like hope is making a comeback.”

Naturally, the reaction on the Right was horror, horror, horror, that Michelle could make such a narcissistic statement. How could she only be proud of her country now that her husband is running for president?

Read more

That’s what’s up!!!!

hat tip, Daily Kos

From ABC

ABC’s Sunlen Miller Reports: Barack Obama jabbed at Hillary Clinton (without naming her) over who is more electable, scoffing that the argument is being made by someone with a 47 percent disapproval rating.

Obama told supporters in Portsmouth, N.H., “For whatever reason I keep on defying this notion that somehow the American people are not ready for me.”

He said it’s an argument being put out by unnamed people who sound an awful lot like Bill and Hillary Clinton.

That argument, he said, is “just is not borne out. And right now among all Democratic nominees or Democratic candidates I do better in a general election match-ups than the other candidates.

“And this argument is being pushed by the way by a candidate who starts off with a 47% disapproval rating,” Obama continued. “You know, so, I’m not going to mention names but I mean the notion that a viability or an electability argument is being made by somebody who starts off with almost half the country not being able to vote for (pause and laughter) them doesn’t make sense.”

“But you know in the end, don’t vote your fears. I’m stealing this line from my buddy (Massachusetts Gov.) Deval Patrick who stole a whole bunch of lines from me when he ran for the governorship, but it’s the right one, don’t vote your fears, vote your aspirations. Vote what you believe.”

cross-posted to goodCRIMETHINK

Doh!

A short while ago, I posted this video of Bill Clinton apologizing-but-not really for his criticism of Obama. He claimed that all of his charges were factually accurate (as opposed to the fictional accuracy so often employed?), and I pointed out that his and Hillary’s claim that Obama removed his 2002 anti-war speech from his website the next year (2003) was false. Well, not completely.

I based my claim on this video by renowned tech/copyright policy guru Larry Lessig, who used the Internet Archive to prove their statement false. In his video, Lessig said

Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton have launched an attack on Barack Obama, claiming he has been “inconsistent” about the war. Here’s what she said in one of the debates:

It was after having given that speech, by the next year the speech was off your website. By the next year, you were telling reporters that you agreed with the president in his conduct of the war. And by the next year, when you were in the Senate, you were voting to fund the war time after time after time.

Now as Hillary Clinton knows, this statement is both false and misleading. It’s false because in fact, the speech that she says was removed from Obama’s website remained on Obama’s website throughout the course of the next year. You can know that by going to this site, The Archive org’s Wayback Machine, and you can actually see copies of the web taken in every couple of month intervals from 1996 on. And here’s a copy of the Barack Obama website — we have to decode it a bit by looking at the very top line — this is a copy of February of 2003, there’s Obama’s speech.

Here’s a copy taken in April of 2003, there again is Obama’s speech. June, it’s still there… August, it’s still there… October, it’s still there. It was there the whole year. And even after that year Barack continued to lead his Foreign Policy section by describing his strong and consistent and principled opposition to George Bush’s decision to take us to war.

But the charge is also misleading, because there’s no inconsistency with opposing the war and actually supporting funding for the war once it has been launched or supporting funding for our troops once they are there. Think about Howard Dean, who was the strongest candidate in the 2004 election opposing the war: he absolutely and clearly signalled that even though he opposed the war he would not cut off funding for the troops or withdraw them immediately if he became President.

This is a kind of swiftboating — it takes the strongest feature of Barack’s political character here, the fact that he made the right decision about the war, and tries to weaken it by alleging false and misleading facts about that decision.

Indeed if you go to the Wayback Machine, you can find snapshots of Obama’s site from February, April, June, August, September, October and December 2003. The speech is in every single one, listed on the “News” or “In the News” tabs depending on which month you check out. It looked pretty cut and dried.

However, Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report (who worked with Obama during his Chicago community organizing days helping register voters) followed up with me and informed me that Obama did indeed remove the speech from his site sometime in May 2003 before restoring it later in June. How does Bruce know this? Because Bruce’s site at the time, Black Commentator, was challenging Obama’s progressive bona fides.

After Obama appeared on a Democratic Leadership Council “100 Leaders To Watch” list that year, Bruce wrote an article titled “In Search Of The Real Barack Obama: Can a Black Senate candidate resist the DLC?” The story ran on June 3, 2003. An excerpt:

Somebody else’s brand of politics appears to have intruded on Obama’s campaign. For a while the whole speech could be found on Obama’s campaign web site, a key statement of principle for a serious US Senate candidate in an election season when the President’s party threatens the world with permanent war and pre-emptive invasion, and cows US citizens with fear mongering, color coded alerts, secret detentions and the abrogation of constitutional liberties. Although Obama may have appeared at meetings of other citizens opposed to the war or let them use his name, no further public statements from the candidate on these important issues have appeared.

Then, a few weeks ago, Barack Obama’s heartfelt statement of principled opposition to lawless militarism and the rule of fear was stricken without explanation from his campaign web site, and replaced with mild expressions of “anxiety”:

“But I think [people are] all astonished, I think, in many quarters, about, for example, the recent Bush budget and the prospect that, for example, veterans benefits might be cut. And so there’s discussion about that, I think, among both supporters and those who are opposed to the war. What kind of world are we building? And I think that’s – the anxiety is about the international prospects and how we potentially reconstruct Iraq. And the costs there, then, tie in very directly with concerns about how we’re handling our problems at home.”

His passion evaporated, a leading black candidate for the US Senate mouths bland generalities on war, peace and the US role in the world. Barack Obama, professor of constitutional law, is mum on the Patriot Act, silent about increased surveillance of US citizens, secret searches, and detentions without trial. His campaign literature and speeches ignore Patriot Act 2, which would detain US citizens without trial, strip them of their nationality and deport them to – wherever, citizens of no nation.

For a black candidate who is utterly reliant upon a fired up base among African American and progressive voters, who must distinguish himself from a crowded Democratic field, this is strange behavior, indeed. Polls show Blacks have consistently opposed administration war policies by at least two to one, as does the white progressive “base” of the party. Yet Obama appears determined to contain, rather than amplify, these voices.

The story isn’t over. Black Commentator received a letter from Obama in response to the piece and ran the letter on June 19, 2003. Here’s an excerpt

To begin with, neither my staff nor I have had any direct contact with anybody at DLC since I began this campaign a year ago. I don’t know who nominated me for the DLC list of 100 rising stars, nor did I expend any effort to be included on the list beyond filling out a three line questionnaire asking me to describe my current political office, my proudest accomplishment, and my cardinal rules of politics. Since my mother taught me not to reject a compliment when it’s offered, I didn’t object to the DLC’s inclusion of my name on their list. I certainly did not view such inclusion as an endorsement on my part of the DLC platform.

As for Bruce’s larger point — that I’ve begun to water down my criticisms of the Bush administration during this early phase of my campaign — I’d invite him to join me on the campaign trail here in Chicago for a couple of days. I’m proud of the fact that I stood up early and unequivocally in opposition to Bush’s foreign policy (and was the only U.S. Senate candidate in Illinois to do so). That opposition hasn’t changed, and I continue to make it a central part of each and every one of my political speeches. Likewise, I spend much of my time with audiences trying to educate them on the dangers of both the Patriot Act, Patriot Act 2, and the rest of John Ashcroft’s assault on the Constitution. The only reason that my original anti-war speech was removed from my website was a judgment that the speech was dated once the formal phase of the war was over, and my staff’s desire to continually provide fresh news clips. The “bland” statement that Bruce offers up as an example of my loss of passion wasn’t an official statement or speech at all, but a 30 second response to a specific question by Aaron Brown on CNN about the mood of Illinois voters a few days after the war started.

In sum, Bruce’s article makes nice copy, but it doesn’t reflect the reality of my campaign. Nor does it reflect my track record as a legislator. In the last three months alone, I passed and sent to Illinois governor’s desk 25 pieces of major progressive legislation, including groundbreaking laws mandating the videotaping of all interrogations and confessions in capital cases; racial profiling legislation; a new law designed to ease the burden on ex-offenders seeking employment; and a state earned income tax credit that will put millions of dollars directly into the pockets of Illinois’ working poor.

As Bruce may tell you, I’ve always preached the need for elected officials and candidates to be held accountable for their views. I don’t exempt myself from that rule. I’d simply ask that folks take the time to find out what my views are before they start questioning my passion for justice or the integrity of my campaign effort. I’m not hard to reach.

In the meantime, I’ll talk to my staff about sprucing up the website!

Sincerely,

State Senator Barack Obama

Candidate for U.S. Senate

The June 22, 2003 Wayback Machine shows the speech on the site, and the entire news section does look spruced up and more readable, so it looks as if Bruce’s article compelled Obama to return the speech to his site. All told, it may have been down for a month.

So where does that leave us? Does this incident make Obama’s portrayal of his Iraq position “a fairy tale” as Bill Clinton would have us believe? Is Obama’s commitment to progressive causes suspect and his passion evaporated, as Bruce Dixon would have us ask? Was he watering down his criticism of the Bush administration or was the speech removed, as Obama claims, because it was judged to be dated once the formal phase of the war was over and because of his staff’s desire to continually provide fresh news clips?

Here’s my take.

I think the comparison of Obama vs. H. Clinton on the war is still very valid, regardless of this temporary website speech absence. At a time when most politicians fell in line with Bush’s warmongering, she seemed to go out of her way to exaggerate the claims against Saddam, while I do think it took courage and conviction for Obama to deliver the October 2002 speech calling this a dumb war. I also take him at his word that he continued to speak out about the war and the Bush administration attacks on the Constitution. I don’t have a way of going back, finding and listening to those speeches, so I’m choosing to believe his claims here because he seems pretty consistent at speaking his mind (to black audiences about homophobia in the community or auto manufacturers about efficiency standards or Wall Street execs about tax and economic regulatory policy – please stop telling me this brotha has no substance. just stop it).

It’s possible that Obama or his campaign removed the speech because of it’s age. If you look at that news page, you’ll see it’s the next to the last item and so might be a candidate for falling off the rotation as new items were added. He had made his point with the speech. It was on his site from October – May (7 months). If he were running away from the speech, why keep it on the site even that long?

It’s also possible that Obama or his campaign got nervous for some reason or pressured by DLC-ish forces. I don’t know. I can’t know. But I doubt it. You should draw your own conclusions, and considering the smart and resourceful folks we have at this blog, I’m eager to see what you think.

I’ve tried to address the specifics of this Clinton charge fairly and incorporated new information brought to my attention (thanks Bruce, seriously). Bruce and the folks over at BAG pride themselves on holding black leadership accountable. Just look at their no-holds-barred CBC Monitor. I respect their tenacity. Someone should do it, and they do it in a way that is grounded in information (and yeah, some speculation), but generally lacking in the unfounded, ugly and assinine charges coming out of the Clinton campaign (today’s word is: plagiarism!). We should hold all politicians accountable with such ferocity.

I also think we should take note of some important things about Obama. He responded to the pressure. He wrote back to the publication that essentially called him a (near)-sellout. He addressed all the charges (whether you believe him is up to you, but he did answer the questions). I believe he did so honestly just as he did with me when I asked him about his questionable support for “clean coal.” He “spruced up” his website and also restored the speech.

For me, this situation offers a chance to highlight my strongest reason for supporting Obama over any other candidate: civic participation and accountability. We can predict with 100 percent certainty that he will not be right 100 percent of the time. What is different about his campaign and his plans is that he offers up an unprecedented level of access to the wheels of government (chief technology officer, transcripts and videos of department meetings, access to updated searchable government data, a public commenting period on legislation and more) that no one else has offered. Actually Edwards was good but still not as comprehensive. Compare Obama’s plan to Hillary’s plan for government reform. Compare his plan for technology and media reform vs. hers. There is no comparison. He is leagues ahead of her. He doesn’t just talk about accountability and participation, he offers the tools of accountability to the people. This is a significant difference between them. These tools lack ideology. They can be used in support of his positions or in opposition.

So while I feel a responsibility to update my previous post about the speech on the website, that’s less important to me than a) the clear contrast between Obama and Clinton’s initial reaction to the war and b) the larger issue of truly distributing a bit more power to the people. I look forward to seeing these tools employed by Black Agenda Report, Jack & Jill Politics and maybe even a mainstream media outlet or concerned citizen. I hope all of us who criticize or attempt to hold Obama accountable realize that if he becomes president, such criticism will be amplified and made more effective by his own policies.

Thanks for reading. Now it’s your turn. Comment away!

Last year, Congress passed a law that was hailed as “the first major gun control legislation in a decade” in response to the Virginia Tech shootings. The legislation was supposed to close the loophole that allowed Seung-Hui Cho, who had been ordered by a judge to undergo outpatient mental health treatment, to buy a gun. The press slipped into a bipartisan rapture over the involvement of the NRA in crafting the legislation:

With the NRA on board, the bill, which fixes flaws in the national gun background check system that allowed the Virginia Tech shooter to buy guns despite his mental health problems, has a good chance of becoming the first major gun control law in more than a decade.

“We’ll work with anyone, if you protect the rights of law-abiding people under the second amendment and you target people that shouldn’t have guns,” NRA chief Wayne LaPierre told CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Atkisson.

“As the Virginia Tech shooting reminded us, there is an urgent national need to improve the background check system” to keep guns out of the hands of those barred from buying them, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

But six days before last Thursday’s shooting, Stephen Kazmierczak, a former student at Northern Illinois University, walked into a gun shop in Champaign and bought two guns he later used to kill six people and then himself in a rampage on NIU’s campus. Kazmierczak, like Seung-Hui Cho, had a history of mental illness.

The 27-year-old Kazmierczak also had a history of mental illness and had become erratic in the past two weeks after he stopped taking his medication, said university Police Chief Donald Grady.

A former employee at a Chicago psychiatric treatment center said Kazmierczak had been placed there after high school by his parents. He used to cut himself and had resisted taking his medications, she said.

Kazmierczak spent more than a year at the Thresholds-Mary Hill House in the late 1990s, former house manager Louise Gbadamashi told The Associated Press. His parents placed him there after high school because he had become “unruly” at home, she said.

Gbadamashi couldn’t remember any instances of him being violent, she said.

“He never wanted to identify with being mentally ill,” she said. “That was part of the problem.”

Whether or not Kazmierczak wanted to identify with being mentally ill, the issue seems to be that he didn’t have to. Illinois gun laws require prospective gun buyers to apply for a permit, which is more than many states require. But when Kazmierczak filled out his application form, he simply answered “no” to the pertinent questions.

Kazmierczak, 27, held a valid permit, which he recently presented to a Champaign gun dealer to buy the guns used in the rampage, authorities said.

To obtain the permit, he had to answer “no” to this question: “Within the past five years, have you been a patient in any medical facility or part of any medical facility used primarily for the care or treatment of persons for mental illness?”

Hardly a thorough background check.

Even more frustrating is that both Kazmierczak and Seung-Hui bought equipment used in the shootings from companies owned by the same online dealer, Eric Thompson. It’s not clear whether or not Kazmierczak found out about the websites from news surrounding the Virginia Tech shooting, or whether it’s simply “a coincidence”.

Eric Thompson said his Web site, TopGlock.com sold two empty 9 mm Glock magazines and a Glock holster to Steven Kazmierczak on Feb. 4, just 10 days before the 27-year-old opened fire in a classroom and killed five before committing suicide.

Another Web site run by Thompson’s company, TheGunStore.com , also sold a Walther .22-caliber handgun to Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people in April on the Virginia Tech campus before killing himself.

“I’m still blown away by the coincidences,” Thompson said Friday. “I’m shaking. I can’t believe somebody would order from us again and do this.”

I’ll avoid the obvious pun that could be made here at Thompson’s expense. But could this possibly be a surprise? How many different things can you do with a gun?

Kazmierczak may not have been flagged under current gun control laws because private mental health records are not included in the federal database–so unlike Seung-Hui, who had been ordered by a judge to undergo treatment because two female students had complained that he had stalked them and was therefore in the system; Kazmierczak’s illness was not a matter of public record because he had not been ruled mentally ill by a judge.

There seem to be at least two related problems with the existing laws that allowed Kazmierczak to buy the guns he used at NIU. The first is that Illinois laws regarding gun permits apparently don’t require applicants to undergo a thorough background check. The second is that the collaborative legislation that passed the House last year doesn’t identify people with a history of mental illness who haven’t drawn attention to themselves from the authorities.

The issue is one of privacy. It seems impossible to respect an individual’s right to keep their medical history to themselves and still have an effective database that can identify ill people who try to buy guns. At the same time, we give our medical history away when we apply to schools, and sometimes even jobs, so an argument can be made that such a history can be kept private, as long as you’re not trying to buy a deadly weapon that can be used to kill scores of people.

Is it a tremendous violation of a person’s individual rights for prospective gun buyers to have to give their medical history before buying a gun, as opposed to disclosure essentially being optional, as it was in Illinois? It seems like there would be some way to identify people with a history of mental health beyond those who have been “adjudicated” ill.

Chuck Schumer held a press conference on Saturday vowing to close the “loopholes” in existing gun laws.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), at a news conference yesterday in Manhattan, said he and congressional colleagues plan to step up efforts to close loopholes in gun-control measures and create a federal task force to come up with national school safety guidelines. They also plan to push for congressional hearings on links between mental illness and school violence.

Why do I get the feeling the NRA might not be on board this time?

Also, I gotta ask the question…have you noticed that the media is always “shocked” when I white kid picks a gun and blows away mad people, but is generally blase about death in urban communities?

I would argue it’s not a cultural problem…easy access to guns is the problem. You can have all the mental health problems you want, without a gun there’s no rampage. But white folks seem eager to attribute violence in urban communities to “a culture of violence,” why is the same not said about a larger culture that every few months or so, produces a mass murderer out of someone who goes off their meds?

Michelle Obama is the cover of Newsweek. If you’d like a peek at the article, go HERE.

Dear Senator Obama:

Congratulations on running an excellent campaign so far. I’ll make this letter short and sweet.

On the subject of accepting Public Financing of a General Election Campaign?

HELL.TO.THE.NAW.

You gotta be kidding me.

Your grassroots operation is taking in about ONE MILLION DOLLARS A DAY..

And, you’re going to let McCain, who doesn’t have a fundraising pot to piss in goad you into handicapping yourself like this?

HELL.TO.THE.NAW.

You have a public financed campaign – the hundreds of thousands of donors that have given to you.

Say that you continue to not accept lobbyist or PAC money, and be on your merry way.

Let McCain choke on Public Financing.

Sincerely,
rikyrah
Jack and Jill Politics

From The NYTimes.com:

Unofficial Tallies in City Understated Obama Vote

Black voters are heavily represented in the 94th Election District in Harlem’s 70th Assembly District. Yet according to the unofficial results from the New York Democratic primary last week, not a single vote in the district was cast for Senator Barack Obama.

That anomaly was not unique. In fact, a review by The New York Times of the unofficial results reported on primary night found about 80 election districts among the city’s 6,106 where Mr. Obama supposedly did not receive even one vote, including cases where he ran a respectable race in a nearby district.

City election officials this week said that their formal review of the results, which will not be completed for weeks, had confirmed some major discrepancies between the vote totals reported publicly — and unofficially — on primary night and the actual tally on hundreds of voting machines across the city.

In the Harlem district, for instance, where the primary night returns suggested a 141 to 0 sweep by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the vote now stands at 261 to 136. In an even more heavily black district in Brooklyn — where the vote on primary night was recorded as 118 to 0 for Mrs. Clinton — she now barely leads, 118 to 116.

The history of New York elections has been punctuated by episodes of confusion, incompetence and even occasional corruption. And election officials and lawyers for both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton agree that it is not uncommon for mistakes to be made by weary inspectors rushing on election night to transcribe columns of numbers that are delivered first to the police and then to the news media.

That said, in a presidential campaign in which every vote at the Democratic National Convention may count, a swing of even a couple of hundred votes in New York might help Mr. Obama gain a few additional delegates.

City election officials said they were convinced that there was nothing sinister to account for the inaccurate initial counts, and The Times’s review found a handful of election districts in the city where Mrs. Clinton received zero votes in the initial results.

“It looked like a lot of the numbers were wrong, probably the result of human error,” said Marcus Cederqvist, who was named executive director of the Board of Elections last month. He said such discrepancies between the unofficial and final count rarely affected the raw vote outcome because “they’re not usually that big.”

Human error.

Uh huh.


Tavis and Barack talking about the Audacity of Hope in Oct 2007 — Before the Playa-Hate

In the wake of the recent dustup between Tavis Smiley and Barack Obama, Tavis personally reached out to us here at Jack and Jill Politics to explain himself.

Well actually some probably very nice public relations people sent us a press release with no further context. There wasn’t even the usual nice little note at the top like “Hi Jill, big fan of your big bad black blog. Thought you might find this of interest to your readers.” Outreach strategies that make you go, hmmmm?

Here’s the full text of what was sent though I am omitting the publicists’ names and contact info:

TAVIS SMILEY DISCUSSES SEN. OBAMA’S DECISION NOT TO ATTEND STATE OF THE BLACK UNION

LOS ANGELES — In a radio commentary on Thursday, Feb. 14, Tavis Smiley made it clear that he has no personal “animus” toward Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. Speaking on the “Tom Joyner Show,” Smiley reminded listeners that he has enjoyed a collegial relationship with Obama for many years.

Smiley also expressed strong admiration for Obama’s wife, Michelle, and her “quintessential” American journey from the South Side of Chicago to Princeton, Harvard Law School and beyond.

Talk of a Smiley-Obama feud broke out in the blogosphere in recent days after Smiley criticized the candidate’s decision not to attend Smiley’s annual State of the Black Union forum, which will be held the weekend of Feb. 23 in New Orleans. Sen. Hillary Clinton has agreed to speak at the symposium, while Republican candidates John McCain and Mike Huckabee have not yet come to a decision.

Smiley said it would be a “missed opportunity” for any candidate to skip the forum, and that it was his duty as an outspoken black commentator to hold all political candidates accountable, particularly when it comes to issues of importance to African Americans.

He stressed that he has been close to Obama since the days when he invited the rising young political leader to address his youth leadership program. In fact, said Smiley, he has been criticized in the past by the press, including the Washington Post, for trying to “stack the deck” in Obama’s favor.

While he acknowledged the historic candidacy of an African American for the White House, Smiley also underscored his own mission as an advocate for African American issues. It’s not his job, Smiley made clear, to be in the endorsing business, whether the candidate is Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or John McCain.

# # #

I credit Tavis and/or his staff for recognizing the communications, uh, challenges here. I am a little confused by this press release since there seems to be a lot of subtext. In order to win, Obama has correctly assessed that he needs to portray himself as a universal candidate who is interested in the welfare and success of all Americans, no matter their color or creed.

Some Republicans and even Democrats are even now trying to put him back in his place as the black candidate” who will serve the interests of African-Americans above all citizens. Would attendance at the State of the Black Union weaken his universality? Probably not. But here’s what isn’t in the press release: Barack Obama offered to send Michelle Obama in his place while he continues on the campaign trail in one of American history’s tightest political fights to the finish. It feels a little like Celebrity Death Match. Here’s Barack’s recent letter dated Feb 13 to Tavis (emphasis mine):

Dear Tavis,

Thank you for the invitation to participate in the 2008 State of the Black Union forum in New Orleans, Louisiana February 21-23. The exchange of ideas raised at this annual symposium are invaluable as our nation strives to address the critical issues facing not just African Americans, but Americans of every race, background and political party.

I especially commend you for hosting this dialogue in New Orleans. On the eve of the Louisiana primary, I visited this great city for the fifth time since declaring my candidacy to share policy proposals for rebuilding the Gulf Coast so that we never experience another Hurricane Katrina. On February 9, I was deeply humbled to win the Louisiana primary with 86 percent of the African American vote and a 14 point lead among all voters who said they were adversely affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Uniting our country and creating a national constituency for fundamental change is why I am running for President of the United States. We have come a long way in this race, but we still have a long road ahead. In the final stretch, I will be on the campaign trail everyday in states like Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin talking directly with voters about the causes that are at the heart of my campaign and the State of the Black Union forum such as affordable healthcare, housing, economic opportunity, civil rights and foreign policy. I am committed to touching every voter, and working to earn their vote.

That is why with regret, I am not able to attend the forum. I understand that you have declined the campaign’s request to have Michelle Obama speak on my behalf. I ask that you reconsider. Michelle is a powerful voice for the type of real change America is hungry for. No one knows my record or my passion for leading America in a new direction more than Michelle Obama.

Tavis, this is our movement and our time. I look forward to working closely with you throughout this election. Thank you for your continued support.

Tavis — my advice to you is to stand down and give the playa hatin a rest. Accept Michelle Obama’s generous offer to attend. As an African-American, personally, I would be very interested in what she has to say. I feel I’ve heard a lot from him — half Kenyan, half Kansan — in the media, in debates, in clever YouTube music videos, etc and not nearly enough from her — regular old slave-descended black folk like me.

Allowing her to participate would the graceful thing to do. It would allow African-Americans and those who love them a chance to get to evaluate her perspective on our issues even more carefully. It might even win over older black women like my moms who might relate more strongly to Michelle’s experiences as a sister who has worked hard to get where she is today. Let Barack Obama do his thing and hopefully this time next year, he might be an even bigger audience draw and “get” than he is today. Geez — Don’t hate the playa. Hate the game.

Ari Melber has a great piece over at the Nation about Donna’s big win: The Blackroots’s Edwards Victory. CBC members who are more interested in themselves than their constituents — take note. The next step for the Blackroots, IMO, is to begin to demonstrate our fundraising potential even more dramatically in a way that cannot be dismissed or explained away. Look, if some of us can tithe 10% to the church (and you know who you are), even more of us have the power together to pool our contributions into $$$ that changes the game and flips the script in favor of candidates like Donna Edwards.

From the piece:

Across the country, over 7,000 netroots activists donated $400,000 to Edwards via ActBlue, spurred by a diverse range of blogs, while labor, environmental and women’s groups spent nearly $1 million backing her candidacy. Wynn tried to make the national support a campaign issue, blasting a “vast left wing conspiracy,” a complaint that Edwards and bloggers’ used to raise even more money and interest in her campaign. As an incumbent, Wynn was backed by the CBC and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who held a late fundraiser to boost his campaign.

Professor and blogger Spencer Overton analyzed the rise of the Blackroots in a prescient post last May:

While the “grassroots” are romanticized, in the past couple of decades Black politics has been hierarchical and limited by orthodoxy that constrains debate. An MLK/Malcolm model has defined the leadership styles and political philosophy of Black elected officials, non-elected figures like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, organizations like the NAACP, and neo-Black Nationalist commentators and figures. Those not with the program essentially had the option of becoming Black Republicans. Older Black folks often complain about complacent black youth who don’t vote, march, or otherwise live up to their model. Black blogs offer not only an opportunity to break from old orthodoxy, but to do so in a way that is flatter, and allows for more engagement through comments from readers (which are often more provocative than the posts)….

He cited the successful Fox News campaign as a “significant development” that fit into a larger effort to advance wired collaboration and force “transparency [to] hold Black elected officials more accountable.” During the Fox fight in April, Afro-Netizen blogger Chris Rabb questioned how the CBC could cut deals and take contributions from Fox while neglecting its own constituency:

Do these [CBC] folks know what the “netroots” is? Do they think it’s just made up of by young, white college-educated geeks far removed from their own congressional districts? Do they know that the vast majority of Black voters who elected them are accounted for in the much larger population of African Americans who regularly access the Internet, approximately 20 million strong? Will they come to understand that the Black netroots community is presently a slumbering giant who, it seems, only the likes of a Fox News Channel can begin to awaken?

From The Boston Globe:


Clinton is determined to “take the Democratic nomination even if she does not win the popular vote” with a plan to “persuade enough superdelegates to vote for her at the convention.” Clinton “will not concede the race to Obama if he wins a greater number of pledged delegates by the end of the primary season, and will count on the 796 elected officials and party bigwigs to put her over the top, if necessary, said Clinton’s communications director, Howard Wolfson.”

I don’t know how else to put this, so here it is:

The Clintons are going to try and STEAL the nomination away from Barack Obama.

Plain as day.

The latest anti-Obama Memos, trying to set the groundwork to ‘justify’ the Superdelegates not going to Obama.

When you begin to see the same thing, over and over again, it’s obvious that it becomes a pattern.

Barack Obama was never supposed to get this far. After all, Billary was INEVITABLE. February 5th was her coronation, and who does this Uppity Negro think he is to upset all of that?

Think I’m wrong?

Time Magazine:

This is not the race that Clinton thought she would be running. Her campaign was built on inevitability, a haughty operation so confident it would have the nomination wrapped up by now that it didn’t even put a field organization in place for the states that were to come after the megaprimary on Feb. 5.

Now, who doesn’t plan for primaries after February 5th, unless you thought there would be NO NEED.

Well, here we go with the latest anti-Obama Memos.

1. America is too racist to elect a Black President.
2. Obama has no policy substance behind him.
3. Those supporting Obama are stupid, mindless cultists, and thus their votes should be ignored.

Let’s take them one by one.

1. America is too racist to elect a Black President.

This Memo came back, front and center, as Governor Rendell of Pennsylvania said this in a meeting with a newspaper board:

“You’ve got conservative whites here, and I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate,”

Now note, this is different than last week’s memo, which was Obama couldn’t win because Latinos are racist and don’t vote for Black candidates. This week, it’s not just Latinos who are racist, but everyone else who isn’t Black.

I’d honestly like to know if Gov. Rendell thinks that anyone who wouldn’t vote a Black man would automatically vote for a White woman…seems to me that this line of discrimatory thinking belongs in the same family.

And, I’d also like for him to explain how Obama won rural Nevada, Maine, Alaska, Utah, Washington, Minnesota, Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota, Iowa, came within 2 points in New Hampshire. Last time I checked, the Black populations of those states could fit inside a figurative phone booth.

Obama received 40% of the White vote in Georgia; he received HALF of it in Virginia – home of the Capital of the Confederacy. He won the majority of the White vote in New Mexico AND California.

But, suddenly, it’s back to the ‘ Black man can’t win because White people aren’t ready to vote for him.’, which was actually disproved January 3rd in Iowa, but had to be re-affirmed on Super Tuesday.

Before you accuse me of being paranoid, I call it being observant. For we see the same Memo being spread by Susan Estrich, and Robert Novak.

What I don’t hear from the Clinton Hacks (Rendell and Estrich) and the Conservative Hack (Novak) is bringing up the FACT that HALF of this country say that they will NEVER VOTE FOR HILLARY CLINTON.

Half the country. And, this was taken in polling done a YEAR OUT from the election. That, somehow, never crosses their lips. I wonder why?

2. Obama has no policy substance behind him

From The Carpetbagger:

Obama and policy details — the little meme that couldn’t
Posted February 11th, 2008 at 1:40 pm

Matt Yglesias noted this morning that Barack Obama has been criticized, even by those sympathetic to him, for being somehow “insufficiently well-versed in policy matters.” Matt chalks this up to a lazy narrative: “Clinton is well-versed in policy but isn’t a charismatic figure, and Obama is charismatic so it ‘must’ be that he’s not well-versed in policy. He’s cool and she’s the nerd.” The narrative, of course, is bogus.

And, our own dnA wrote about this HERE.

What would this argument be without a contribution from Billary?
Here’s Bill chiming in:

“You have to decide what this election is about,” Clinton told a room of 600 students, his voice hoarse from making four campaign speeches a day earlier in the District and Maryland. “You have to decide what makes the best president. You want someone with the right vision, the right plans and ability to get the job done. If that’s the test, I don’t think the question is close.”

Outside of those traits, “all the rest is smoke and mirrors,” Clinton said in reference to his wife’s more charismatic rival.

See, he’s a Harvard-trained Senator, who used to be a Law School Professor, but, has no ‘substance’ to his policy positions. Goes with the ‘lack of experience’ Memo.
Yeah, ok. Whatever.

Truth is, he has policy papers on just about any subject that you want. Just go to BarackObama.com, and click on your issue. Do some reading, people.

3. Those supporting Obama are stupid, mindless cultists.

From Charles Krauthammer:

There’s no better path to success than getting people to buy a free commodity. Like the genius who figured out how to get people to pay for water: bottle it (Aquafina was revealed to be nothing more than reprocessed tap water) and charge more than they pay for gasoline. Or consider how Google found a way to sell dictionary nouns — boat, shoe, clock — by charging advertisers zillions to be listed whenever the word is searched.

And now, in the most amazing trick of all, a silver-tongued freshman senator has found a way to sell hope. To get it, you need only give him your vote. Barack Obama is getting millions.

Paul Krugman:

Paul Krugman, who has been attacking Obama non-stop, now insults Obama supporters,

I won’t try for fake evenhandedness here: most of the venom I see is coming from supporters of Mr. Obama, who want their hero or nobody. I’m not the first to point out that the Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality. We’ve already had that from the Bush administration — remember Operation Flight Suit? We really don’t want to go there again.

There are others: Jake Tapper, Joe Klein, Joel Stein (LATimes). They need to make up their minds, because I’m confused.

They vacilate between Obama supporters being stupid, mindless cultists on the one hand, and then call them chardonnay sipping, brie-eating elites on the other hand. I suppose you can be a well-educated stupid mindless cultist…is that what you’re saying…all that education made you vulnerable to mind control by Obama?

It’s a crock.

From The Daily Dish:


The reason Obama is winning and will win is so simple. Americans want to believe in themselves again.

Barack Obama is tapping into the American spirit. All that we were taught about in school. All that we were told makes us proud to be an American – we haven’t heard that, sincerely, from someone on the left, in a LONG TIME. For the young people in his campaign, this is probably the FIRST TIME in their lives they’ve heard it. Is is really hard to understand why they’d respond to it? Contrary to what those on the right might believe who wrap themselves in the flag so easily, those on the left love this country too…and Barack Obama is, for some, the first person in a long time to tap into that.

THAT is why he’s gone as far as he has. He’s asking for the American people to believe in this country, themselves, and to actively be a part of their country again. Why is it so hard to understand how powerful a message that is? There’s nothing cultish about it.

My Take On The Lewis Flip

15 Feb 2008

Rikyrah already gave her take below, I just wanted to cosign and add some things.

Last year, when John Lewis decided to endorse Hillary, I was pretty disappointed. This is what I said at the time:


It occur[s] to me that there’s a very real generation gap among black folks when it comes to Obama and Clinton. For people like John Lewis who lived through segregation, the idea of a black man being president in their lifetime must seem really far-fetched.

The fact that Obama has managed to stay so close to Clinton in fundraising while falling behind in the polls suggests to me that there are a great deal of people out there who would rather see him as president, but simply don’t think it’s possible for a black man to win.

But something happened between now and then. All of a sudden, it didn’t seem so far-fetched anymore:

MILWAUKEE — Representative John Lewis, an elder statesman from the civil rights era and one of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s most prominent black supporters, said Thursday night that he planned to cast his vote as a superdelegate for Senator Barack Obama in hopes of preventing a fight at the Democratic convention.

“In recent days, there is a sense of movement and a sense of spirit,” said Mr. Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who endorsed Mrs. Clinton last fall. “Something is happening in America, and people are prepared and ready to make that great leap.”

There could be no Barack Obama without John Lewis. That much is obvious. But Lewis’ initial skepticism of Obama was borne of a life and a time many of us can barely imagine. Since Montgomery, Selma and Washington DC, Lewis’ generation has inspired us. Now we have finally begun to inspire them.

But enough mushy stuff. Let’s just all enjoy this picture:

Pretty much explains the last forty years of race and gender politics in America between black men and white women, doesn’t it?

UPDATE: I know it ruins a joke if you have to explain it, but in the interest of not being taken the wrong way, what I am exclusively referring to is the fact that the liberation movements of the past hundred years have brought white women unprecedented access and proximity to power, (which is a good thing) despite the sexism still pervasive in American society. But whether we’re talking about pay disparities, elected office, or college admissions, the rest of us have been left behind. And I don’t think that’s something many people have begun to apprieciate.

From the NYTimes.com:

Black Leader, a Clinton Ally, Tilts to Obama

MILWAUKEE — Representative John Lewis, an elder statesman from the civil rights era and one of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s most prominent black supporters, said Thursday night that he planned to cast his vote as a superdelegate for Senator Barack Obama in hopes of preventing a fight at the Democratic convention.

“In recent days, there is a sense of movement and a sense of spirit,” said Mr. Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who endorsed Mrs. Clinton last fall. “Something is happening in America, and people are prepared and ready to make that great leap.”

Mr. Lewis, who carries great influence among other members of Congress, disclosed his decision in an interview in which he said that as a superdelegate, he could not go against the wishes of the voters of his district, who overwhelmingly supported Mr. Obama.

“I’ve been very impressed with the campaign of Senator Obama,” Mr. Lewis said. “He’s getting better and better every single day.”

His comments came as fresh signs emerged that Mrs. Clinton’s support was beginning to erode from some other African-American lawmakers who also serve as superdelegates. Representative David Scott of Georgia, who was among the first to defect, said he, too, would not go against the will of voters in his district.

Translation: Since she has already said that she’s going to steal this nomination ‘ by any means necessary’, my Black Butt better not be on the wrong side of this. Black folk will skin me alive.

Second Translation: Al Wynn got his butt kicked. Just what I need – a mailer with a picture of me and Hillary in 2 years….I’ze needs to keep this job.


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