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A Vagueness in Obama’s Message

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Posted on Jan 11, 2008

By Bill Boyarsky

Hopefully,  the results of the New Hampshire primary will eliminate Barack Obama’s use of the vague and misleading words hope and change in his presidential campaign. 

With early contests finished in two small states with disproportionate influence—New Hampshire and Iowa—we move into bigger states more typical of the rest of the country.  But even if the two small states are untypical, lessons can be drawn from them, particularly from New Hampshire.

The most important to the Democrats is to avoid a campaign like Obama’s, built on his soaring words of hope and change.

I’ve been put off by those words, which became the centerpiece of Obama’s campaign.  Maybe I am too cynical or too old or too disillusioned from being burned by past failed crusades.  But words and elevated oratory are not enough for me.  Nor were they enough for New Hampshire Democrats.

They wanted substance. Although the unemployment rate is not especially high in New Hampshire, too many jobs are in low-pay retail and service and have small or no health insurance benefits.  A union leader in Concord, N.H., told me that many of the state’s residents have to work two or three jobs.  Sen. Hillary Clinton, ridiculed by her many critics for policy-heavy speeches and question-and-answer sessions, was in sync with voters facing an uncertain economic future.

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Clinton captured the Democratic base.  She beat Obama 40 percent to 31 percent among union households, and won by 15 points among voters with households earning less than $50,000 a year and by 18 points among voters with no more than a high school diploma.  “Voters in the primary election were looking for a candidate with whom they agreed on the issues rather than a candidate whose personal qualities appealed to them,” said CBS News political consultant Monika L. McDermott in an analysis of exit polling.  “This was likely a key to the Clinton victory.” 

Women were, too.  They favored Clinton 46 percent to 29 percent.  The political reporters, drawn to simple narratives and engaging anecdotes, attributed this big margin to Clinton’s brief show of emotion in a coffee shop.  I think it was something more basic: the vote of the overworked woman juggling a household, a job or two, children and a worried, discouraged spouse.  I don’t have any statistics to prove this, but neither do the reporters enamored of the “Hillary’s tears” explanation.  Common sense tells me my theory is valid, along with many conversations with people worried about hard times.

Obama’s fans invoke the name of Robert Kennedy when they are talking about their candidate.  There was, however,  a big difference between Kennedy and the way Obama has campaigned so far.

Kennedy was an edgy, high-risk politician who wasn’t afraid of confrontation.  In speeches and in symbolic gestures he told the world he was on the side of the poor and the middle class.  He visited Cesar Chavez, a powerful gesture that proclaimed his support of the farm workers and his opposition to the powerful growers who ran California agriculture.  As U.S. attorney general, he went to impoverished Southern areas and sent his aides south on dangerous missions to enforce the law against segregationist opposition.

So far, Obama has offered a gentler approach, everyone around the table, drug companies, doctors, health care reformers, lawmakers, presided over by a compassionate Obama who believes in the power of hope and change.

As John Edwards has pointed out, that won’t work.  Yes, Edwards is still in the race, although he has dropped from the attention of the national political media after his third-place finish in New Hampshire.  Perhaps another reason Edwards has lost coverage is that two-person narrative is much easier for reporters to handle.

And remedies are complex, as Clinton points out, to the boredom of the press corps.

Obama is certainly capable of taking his message beyond the vagueness of hope and change and bringing it into the streets where people live, work and lose their jobs.  He demonstrated his understanding of such an approach in 2005 when he spoke at the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award ceremony in Washington, D.C.

“Within the confines of these walls and the boundaries of this city, it becomes very easy to play small ball politics,” he said.  “... And yet as this goes on, somewhere another child goes hungry in a neighborhood just blocks away from one where a family is too full to eat another bite.  Somewhere another hurricane survivor still searches for a home to return to or a school for her daughter.  Somewhere another 12-year-old is gunned down by an assailant who used to be his kindergarten playmate and another parent loses their child on the streets of Tikrit.”

There was bite in those words, a hint of a politician unafraid to fight the powerful.

Obama will get plenty of conflicting advice, and he may be conflicted himself.  As an African-American, he will be warned against being divisive.  People will tell him that blacks will come out for him under any circumstances.  What he has to worry about are whites, Latinos and Asians.

I hope he doesn’t follow that advice.  Hope and change are appealing and nonthreatening words for the more affluent white people who voted for Obama in New Hampshire and Iowa.  But they are not enough for the battle ahead.  If he’s bland, if all he talks about are vague concepts, not enough people—black, white, Asian or Latino—will follow. 

Kennedy’s path for America was difficult but honest.  Nothing would come easy.  Longtime enemies wouldn’t sit around a table like new best friends.  That’s life in most of America, and Obama should acknowledge it.


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By Paracelsus, February 4, 2008 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment

It would only be a matter of time for a Clinton operative to expose Obama’s recent use of crack cocaine in 1998.

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By cann4ing, February 4, 2008 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment

My first choice was Dennis Kucinich, but he dropped out.  My second choice was Edwards, gone again.  Since Clinton represents the interests of the corporate state more than any other candidate, Republican or Democrat, there is only one reasonable choice still available—Barack Obama.

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By Maani, February 3, 2008 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment

Gordon:

If you are going to cite Carl Bernstein as a source, then let’s look at something else he said. Bernstein claims that Hillary was dead set AGAINST NAFTA, and even argued with Bill about it numerous times, quite angrily.  She warned him about the dangers of it, particularly the loss of American jobs.  Yet because Bill was president and Hillary did not feel comfortable challenging him publicly, she did not do so.

Bernstein is no Hillary-lover.  His book is no love song to or apologia for her.  So there seems no reason why he would make this up.

Given that NAFTA is second only to Hillary’ vote for the Iraq war resolution in the minds of the Hillary-bashers here, this should give them SERIOUS thought about the comments they have been making in this regard.

Peace.

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By Paracelsus, February 3, 2008 at 12:35 pm Link to this comment

Barrack is too much of a weak link. All it would take is for some Republican operatives to investigate Barrack’s homosexual jaunts as well as hooking up with his cocaine dealers to spill the beans on Obama’s cocaine smoking activities which were as recent as 1998. The Establishment has less to worry about with the Clintons, because people with embarrassing stories are wont to end up dead. Please don’t give me a bunch of caca about me being a Republican operative, for I am just as contemptous of the “other side”.

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By Paracelsus, February 3, 2008 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment

If Hillary wins, it just affirms my worst suspicions of the system. I will be confirmed that electoral poliics is a dead end. There will be not real change if Hillary becomes President. It would be the same for McCain.

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By cyrena, February 3, 2008 at 10:29 am Link to this comment

Thanks Gordon. I agree with your analysis here…100%.

In fact, Obama has indeed been as explicit as any candidate can be, a year out. And, what I’ve noticed from those who claim otherwise, (the vagueness and such) that he’s been far MORE ‘specific’ than any other candidate, aside from Dennis Kucinich, who is no longer on the ticket.

Like you, I will vote for Hillary if she wins the nomination, but I’m convinced that Obama can do far more for the nation as a whole. Because, despite the fact that Hillary may have long ago changed her Goldwater alligence, I still see her very beholden to the corporate interests that have brought us to this abyss.

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By Gordon Marion, February 2, 2008 at 12:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I haven’t heard misleading words of hope and change in Obama’s campaign. He has been as specific as a candidate can reasonably be a year before taking office. I am as clear as I can reasonably expect to be about the policies that Obama would pursue as President. Not only that but he has a record that can be examined and compared with his expressed intentions.
The author’s words “vague and misleading words ‘hope and change’” sound like an opponent’s negative campaigning.
In that vein, you might want to check into why Carl Bernstein says Hillary is not “authentic.” This matches my observation of Hillary over the years. I have only a vague idea of the policies she’d pursue and only a hope that she’d perform better than I expect. If she wins the nomination, I will, nevertheless, vote for her. After all, it took less than her 1st year at Wellesley to switch from a Goldwater Republican to a Democrat. That’s a plus for her intellect. Still, I wonder if forty-odd years have been enough to wash off all the Republican stains.

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By tek, January 16, 2008 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Rovian attack? This post shows the biggest problem with Obama and his supporters. Any criticism of Obama, no matter how valid, is instantly characterized “an attack,” while the Obamanians use the strategy: ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK. Obama is bad person who is Swift Boating people in his own party for his own self-aggrandizement.  By the time Democrats figure this out, the country will have another sleazy, incompetent leader.

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By waxman, January 15, 2008 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment

boggs, You scare the hell out of me. Not one ounce of your post is true.  You’ve never listened to Hillary as she can answer any question off the top of her head intelligently. If you don’t like her you don’t like her but don’t make up garbage like you just spewed in you post.

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By loveinatub, January 15, 2008 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment

It was a great intervivew. But Shelby Steele is a conservative and no liberal and in the end, I really don’t care for his analysis of whether a black person is a bargainer or challenger.

I’m white and I supported Jesse Jackson’s bid for the presidency in ‘84 and in ‘88! What does that say? That now if I support Obama I’m supporting a bargainer but back in the 80’s I supported a challenger?

I don’t care! It’s your position on the issues! I don’t care how much Obama engratiates himself with the rich whites as long as he could actually propose some historic change in government policy. But has Obama done that??? NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Which is why I CAN’t support Obama. It has nothing to do with his skin color. Does Obama support a physician run, single payer health care system? Does he support a decriminalization of marijuana? Does he support draining the Lake Powell? Does he support ending the war on drugs? Will he promise to take all American troops and mercenaries OUT of Iraq within the first year of his presidency?

No, no, no, and no! This is why I support Kucinich. Because with Kucinich, it’s not about race or gender. It’s about his stands on the greater issues of the day.

And it’s a tragedy someone like Kucinich can’t get elected because of the average stupidity of the American voter who always has to vote for a “winner” and can’t seem to vote for a candidate who doesn’t raise the most money.

What a terrible representative democracy this country purports to be…..

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By ricksramblings, January 14, 2008 at 8:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Barack is an inspirational speaker but what else? The people of New Hampshire wanted to know. Remember the Music Man was set in Iowa for a reason.I personally don’t think he has anything else. Talk is cheap making thing happen is hard work.Where is his list of accomplishments that makes him worthy to be the head of the most powerful nation in the world. We have a guy now that was an unaccomplished fellow and look what he got us into.

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By Tony Wicher, January 14, 2008 at 7:06 pm Link to this comment

Hillary Clinton is projecting feminine kindness on “Meet the Press” while her surrogates outdo themselves in being outrageous slimy baldfaced liars. Obama surrogates have also deliberately misinterpreted statements from both Clinton while Obama projects his “above the fray” image.

I guess I will have to decide which one is dirtiest. Right now Clinton is well ahead in the contest for the sleaze trophy. By Feb. 5, if they are both so coated with sleaze that I can’t tell the difference, I’m voting for Kucinich.

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By VillageElder, January 14, 2008 at 5:50 pm Link to this comment

Thanks for the link.  I have not heard a credible estimate of getting the troops out of Iraq in under a year to 16 months.  The size of the convoys required to accomplish this feat would have to be about 200+.  It’s like shipping all the illegals back to where they came from—using all the greyhounds it would take about 20 years.

Iraq will be with us for a long time and paying for this misadventure will take longer.  Even thugh Bush has broken the military and the empire the financial state of our country will suffer for years as we pay off Bush’s Folly.

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By reason, January 14, 2008 at 5:47 pm Link to this comment

“Hopefully, the results of the New Hampshire primary will eliminate Barack Obama’s use of the vague and misleading words hope and change in his presidential campaign.”

The first sentence of this article is a good indication of how the voters are being manipulated. Voter anxieties about the economy, the war, illegal immigration, etc. are obviously understandable but let’s face it; no candidate (republican or democrat) can make sincere promises at this stage of the electoral process. (Once nominated, they may be held accountable for what they promise the electorate.) Promises from candidates in the primary election process of how they will address issues is to ask for lies since candidates cannot know all pertinent factors that will affect their the promises. It is more realistic for those interested in evaluating candidates to listen to them discuss issues and what believe they can do to improve or eliminate them, as they do this you will get the best evidence the candidate’s intelligence, integrity, sense of honor and motivations. (“Given enough rope they will hang themselves” or not.)  The political polls and attack ads generated by election managers do not serve voters seriously seeking to make the best possible voting decisions. If you are going to vote to sustain a political party, (democrat or republican) consider the records of both parties in the past years, and if you still feel comfortable voting for a political party; our country is beyond hope.
Personally, I feel a persons vote is too valuable to entrust to political hacks that only care about what voters think when it is possible their candidate will lose. 
Obama’s use of the word “hope” and “change” is an indicator he has a reasonable understanding of the voter’s serious loss of faith in “career politicians and their parties” who have made many promises but delivered little. As an independent voter, I agree with him on this point and I will listen closely to him in hopes of hearing him expand on his vision of the efforts needed to achieve hope for all Americans and change from the corrupt autocratic politicians that have usurped the democratic principles on which this country was founded.

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By donroy2003, January 14, 2008 at 4:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I too am disappointed by Obama’s use of words rather than substance.  I voted for Nader when Gore would not tell me what he was “fighting for”  If he had said one time he was fighting for universal healthcare I would have voted for him.

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By Douglas Chalmers, January 14, 2008 at 3:58 pm Link to this comment

Re: I Love the Words Hope and Change…

By Maani, January 14: “Obama gave his standard speech, and either didn’t have a Q&A;at all, or had a short Q&A;.... Hillary…gave about a 10-minute speech, and then answered questions for up to TWO HOURS.  And those who were there say that she was not only NOT “vague,” but had cogent, coherent answers for every question.  Even the two Obama supporters… were unexpectedly impressed…”

Well, that IS “the public sphere, Maani - Hillary doesn’t really have to “translate it” - its just there for all to see. Peace.

Then again the NY Times political Caucus blog is at it now too with the sexist slant, something they didn’t do at first last year. It seems that political favoritism is now justified as a means of creating distorted attacks and all semblance of honesty has left the journalistic profession, such as it is.

The sad reality, though, is that the real issues are left untouched and the real damage to the USA is perpetuated by such distractions. Political correctness has now become an excuse for obliquely using racism to justify sexism http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/the-clintons-and-history/index.html?8au&emc=au

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By homovivens, January 14, 2008 at 3:39 pm Link to this comment

“Hopefully, the results of the New Hampshire primary will eliminate Barack Obama’s use of the vague and misleading words hope and change in his presidential campaign.” [However, Hillary and everyone else have co-opted them and utter them as often as possible in subsequent talking points. As the NYT pointed out—more often than Obama now.] 


“I don’t have any statistics to prove this, but neither do the reporters enamored of the “Hillary’s tears” explanation.  Common sense tells me my theory is valid, along with many conversations with people worried about hard times.” [No statistics, yet he builds his entire narrative upon his gut feeling of “common sense.”]

“So far, Obama has offered a gentler approach, everyone around the table, drug companies, doctors, health care reformers, lawmakers, presided over by a compassionate Obama who believes in the power of hope and change.” [This is nothing but a cynical, sarcastic parody—Saturday-Night-Live style.]

In sum, this is the next page of Bill Clinton’s fairytale narrative—something Edwards disclaimed and Rove approves.

Boyarsky denigrates his impressive resume with this Rovian attactic: obliteration of fact through disregard for fact—Rove’s malevolent twisting of one’s opponent’s strength by flat out lying about it. Boyarsky does precisely this in repeating the ridiculous canard that Obama has no policy and runs around prophesying and promoting an amorphous hope and change unattached to any reasonable policy strategies, as they had been presented in detail time and again in all format-technologies available (Google “Obama and topic”). Boyarsky merely repeats an unsupported conclusion to which he attempts to give credibility through mere repetition of the unsubstantiated (a lie).

Rove’s distortion of “Cogito, ergo sum” misinterpreted as “I think it, therefore it is” is the first premise of and necessary condition for Rove (and now Hillary’s junta) to make whatever lie is propitious seem to be the truth. Truth will win if you stand with it. Courage (L cor, heart) is a necessary ingredient for the triumph of everything good and true and beautiful.

By the way, Bill playing “the heavy” is going to backfire, as he was what was most liked about the Clintons. Two bad cops a winning strategy?

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By Nomascerdo, January 14, 2008 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

Great interview by Bill Moyers this weekend with Shelby Steele who wrote a book on Obama.  Excellent discussion of race in America, the Obama campaign, etc.

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01112008/profile2.html

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By Frostedflakes, January 14, 2008 at 10:21 am Link to this comment

I’ll be the only to say it. You are a complete idiot, comparable to your beloved prez. Obviously you believe anything spewed forth from this regime, so when you’re finished ranting I have a bridge I’ll like to sell you in Brooklyn.

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By Maani, January 14, 2008 at 10:19 am Link to this comment

This is not what I heard from a number of people “on the ground” in New Hampshire.  I know at least half a dozen people who went to various rallies and other appearances of the candidates.  According to them, at most stops, Obama gave his standard speech, and either didn’t have a Q&A;at all, or had a short Q&A;at which he provided some coherent answers to the questions.

On the other hand, at three of the four events that Hillary held, she gave about a 10-minute speech, and then answered questions for up to TWO HOURS.  And those who were there say that she was not only NOT “vague,” but had cogent, coherent answers for every question.  Even the two Obama supporters I know who were there were unexpectedly impressed.

Now - why Hillary seems mostly unable to translate that into the public sphere is another question, and a good one.

Peace.

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By cann4ing, January 14, 2008 at 9:58 am Link to this comment

Precisely what I would expect from you, Doug.  You begin your prior post by saying referring to my observation that Clinton and Obama are two sides of the same corporate coin as “credulous garbage.”  You support this by raising a straw man, the bogus assertion that I do not see the Republi-crooks as part of the same form of illegal tender.  When I demolish that straw man and point out that it is you who are shoveling the garbage, you feign indignation that “I” am the one who is being “nasty.”

The level of your intellectual dishonesty may be disturbing but certainly not surprising.  To the contrary, it is precisely what I have come to expect from your mumblings.

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By boggs, January 14, 2008 at 9:37 am Link to this comment

Obama’s words “Change and Hope” may be vague but I haven’t a problem with them because I know where they come from, and they are filled with hope. On the other hand I find fault with the vagueness of Hillary’s answers to any question. She is truly a professional when it comes to tapdancing around a direct question. Her answers are so vague that I have to wonder if her problem is
that of being uninformed or is it a matter of hiding the true answers???
She also is proving to be very adept at playing dirty tricks with little verbages that harm another but almost seem like she didn’t really utter them.
Hillary is so cunning and sly and corporate, that it scares the hell out of me.

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By Tony Wicher, January 14, 2008 at 9:22 am Link to this comment

Guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

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By VillageElder, January 14, 2008 at 8:17 am Link to this comment

This should work

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-schlesinger/hillary-clinton-is-a-subs_b_81211.html

It is Schlesingers saying Hil is a substantive candidate.  Three paras on a proposal for the economy.

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By Maani, January 14, 2008 at 7:57 am Link to this comment

FYI All:

Seems the economy is now trumping Iraq as the #1 issue for most Americans (though it is still true that 70% oppose the war and want the troops out).

Here is the NYT editorial, as well as economist Paul Krugman’s opinion piece:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/opinion/14mon1.html?ref=opinion&pagewanted=print

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/opinion/14krugman.html?ref=opinion&pagewanted=print

Peace.

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By Maani, January 14, 2008 at 7:36 am Link to this comment

MackTN:

You ask, “Who among us doesn’t wish that we could be the ones asking questions of these candidates?”

Absolutely.  And my very first question would be this:  “Can we get a firm, unwavering commitment from you right now that, if elected, you would, within your first 100 days, undo, rescind, repeal and otherwise reverse all of the signing statements, executive orders and back-door machinations that Mr. Bush undertook to shred the Constitution, undermine our freedoms, civil liberties and privacy, and centralize power in the executive branch?”

I’d REALLY love to hear their responses to this.

Peace.

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By Maani, January 14, 2008 at 7:31 am Link to this comment

I take exception to two comments here.

First, he says “So there was the former president chastising the press for the way it was covering the Obama campaign and saying of Mr. Obama’s effort: “The whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.””

It is clear watching the video that BC was NOT referring to “Mr. Obama’s effort” - i.e., his entire campaign - but rather his specific position on the Iraq War. That a man with as much integrity as Bob Herbert should so willfully misreport this is stunning.

As well, referring to the hype surrounding the campaign, he says, “And there were disturbing signs that Senator Obama himself had bought into the hype.”

Poppycock.  Mr. Obama was the chief architect of the hype.  He had nothing to “buy into” since he was its progenitor.

Otherwise, I felt this piece was quite on-target.

Peace.

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By Douglas Chalmers, January 14, 2008 at 1:18 am Link to this comment

By cyrena and Tony Wicher, January 13: “Tony…in response to this from DC… I find your view of that speech twisted. It shows that you are unwilling to see things as they are, and fit everything into your preconceived ideology….  it WAS an honest speech…”

Ha ha, an “honest” dishonest speech. What more do you want to affirm disavowal and denial? Refusal is a form of delusional mental state, or, take “cognitive dissonance” as the lesser if you wish.

Unable or unwilling to see things as they are, you two merely stamp your feet and demand that everything fits into your preconceived ideology, uhh.

BO is/was a typical Machievellian (stealth and deceptiion) war monger and he insulted the anti-war rally with his self-aggrandizing words there - designed to pander to AIPAC and similar manipulative forces (namely the military-industrial complex).

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By kath cantarella, January 14, 2008 at 12:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think you’re on the money, Bill. Obama’s vagueness is exactly why, personally, i don’t appreciate him. It’s dishonest to try and get elected on charm and rhetoric, without stating your positions.
And if Hilary equivocates, well it’ll be a nice change from ‘You’re either with me or against me’ Bush. As long as she does it thoughtfully.
If i really believed that HRC was a hawk, i wouldn’t speak a word in her defence. To me, she doesn’t seem like a hawk, she just seems like she’s trying not to alienate the right.
She’s resilient and she’s competent. And she will pull female votes from the center right, which Obama won’t get near.
That’s how i see it, anyway.

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By Paracelsus, January 13, 2008 at 10:53 pm Link to this comment

So Brzezinki’s urging of the Chinese to support Pol Pot is alright with you? His strategy of tension in Afghanistan is no “Zbiggy”? Guess who got his start in Afghanistan with Zbiggy’s help. That ‘s right: Osama bin Laden. I am tired of being governed by psychopaths. So you grabbed one foot of the devil, while Dershowitz clasps the other foot.

Do you remember that Rockefeller dispatched Zbiggy to start up the Trilateral Commission, a globalist organization?

We are hated all over the world because we are in everybody’s backyard. How would you like if you have the planes, bombs, and tanks of some great power in your own land? It doesn’t matter if you in live Germany or in some Pacific Island. Our soldiers f**k
your women for money and puke in your bars. It’s bound to annoy and bother. How would American citizens like a Chinese barracks in their backyards.
Zbiggy wants this sort of thing. He thinks we should populate all the break away Russian republics with American barracks, which we already do. And yet Bush still wants to look into Putin’s eyes for his soul. My government is the oppressor and goon force for a global elite. Zbiggy is another fat man for this elite.

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By cyrena, January 13, 2008 at 10:41 pm Link to this comment

Tony,

I’m not shocked about Dr. Brzezinski, and from what I’ve interpreted from him, I would agree with your own assessment.

I do think he well represents the support of the progressive Jewish community.

I wasn’t aware that you’d hooked them up, so I think you SHOULD be proud. (even if you HAVE been designated as the ‘new kid on the block’) wink

(Sorry, but I did find that to be a rather amusing, and revealing comment from our most prolific Maani, whose chosen to speak for those who have ‘been around these threads a week or so).

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By cyrena, January 13, 2008 at 10:26 pm Link to this comment

This is an interesting assessment, (from yesterday’s paper I think). I always appreciate Bob Herbert’s honesty.

Of Hope and Politics
  By Bob Herbert
  The New York Times

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/011208D.shtml

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By Paracelsus, January 13, 2008 at 10:20 pm Link to this comment

“...that results in weakness, fear, resignation and finally total and abject cowering compliance.”

Perhaps in you. For me I realized that voting this party or that is no solution. The system is agenda driven no matter who is in power.

True freedom lies in owning land that you can grow your food on. As soon as you get ensnared in the system by getting a factory job or a white collar job, then that is when your troubles multiply.

“Oh, I am unemployed. I need therapy. Oh no, I need food stamps. Oh I have an addiction and I need to go to rehab. Oh I need a loan for my education. Oh my wife doesn’t love me anymore for my love of cheap thrills or her love of cheap kicks.”

Own your land underneath your feet. The freedom of the Roman people became imperiled after the veterans brought home slaves from the defeat of Carthage. You had surplus labor. You had yeoman farmers thrown out of work by slave labor plantations. Then all these people need bread doles, when that had not been much of a problem before the Punic Wars.

Then there were the farmers of Sumer. What need did they have of their government There was a tax for burial, and then a head tax, a beer tax, a marriage tax, and a tax for wheat grown. Most of Sumer’s cities were filled with bureaucrats and the artisans who catered to their trade. Though this is was the start of civilization, you can see that in extreme cases the cities can drain the rural areas of their vital energies.

Urban centers have much to contribute but if you are dependent too heavily upon them, then you leave yourself vulnerable to economic cycles. Many in the Russian peasant movement of the 19th century saw their expulsion from agricultural areas as a way to force them to work in factories as a great insecurity and threat to their survival.

Look at how agricultural the United States was before the Great Depression. What are we to do now should our country go through another depression?

Yes, government can do much good, but at the end of it all, if you are dependent upon them, then you are at their mercy. Yes, you can keeping voting in the party with most generous subsidies to your class and position, but don’t you think you will end being abused like a rented jackass with the strings attached? How long will it be that they will require a camera up your ass and a chip inside your brain as a stipulation to get whatever benefit you need?

Am I a Republican? Am I a Democrat? What I am is plebe who feels subject to a despotic system that can demand that I debase myself for whatever cheese I may require.

What I would want is a large wholly owned spread, so that I can evict any agent of the government on my land without a court order. I don’t need vaccinations, war spending, global military bases, the FBI, the IRS, the BATF, NAFTA, illegal alien amnesty, Federal Reserve and the UN.

I know this sounds thoroughly 18th century, but I do not want to be anybody’s serf.

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By cyrena, January 13, 2008 at 9:48 pm Link to this comment

Tony…in response to this from DC

•  I find your view of that speech twisted. It shows that you are unwilling to see things as they are, and fit everything into your preconceived ideology.

Just for the sake of saying it, I find this twisted view in just about everything he posts. There are a FEW exceptions from time to time, but they’re so few and far between, that one can get really tired wading though it. Mostly, it’s just nasty and negative nitpicking, and the rest of the time it’s totally irrelevant to the topic at hand.

But, there’s still that 1st amendment. I guess we have to take the good with the bad. That’s the reality of it. Besides, there’s actually something to be learned from such a collection of personality disorders.

Meantime, it WAS an honest speech, and I suspect that the biggest trouble with Obama right now, is simply that he’s being too ‘cautious’. I’m inclined to agree with mackTN, if he wants to break passed the pack, (and right now, I’m still putting my own vote on Kucinich, this first time around) then he’ll need to throw all caution to the wind, and SPEAK UP.

Because, while he’s playing Mr. Nice Guy, and avoiding the nastiness and the dirty tricks, (and I’d say most of the Dems have so far, with the exception of Hillary, and that’s just an honest call) he’s also not getting the substance of his message across.

And, if John Edwards can do it, then Obama should as well. And, John Edwards HAS. There’s no denying a very notable change in him since the beginning days of this, and believe that people respect that.

Meantime, Obama is far more in step with the John Edwards ideology, and has far more in common with him, than he does with Hillary. Now of course if Obama were to seem less of a threat to HER, and Edwards becomes (perceivably at least) MORE of a threat to her, (he’s already got the corporate elite shaking in their sueded boots) then she’ll start swiftboating HIM, and Obama may catch a break. (at least temporarily…long enough to say what he’s got to say.)

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By mackTN, January 13, 2008 at 9:00 pm Link to this comment

Who among us doesn’t wish that we could be the ones asking questions of these candidates?  I am wholly disatisfied with their responses on a number of subjects and can’t understand why the moderators won’t pin them down on their statements.  The only Dem is has answered questions unequivocally to my satisfaction is John Edwards—but I am particularly receptive to his stance against the rise of the corporatocracy.

Obama won’t win by being cautious.  Lately, in interviews, I’ve heard him provide more detail in his answers but still, I’m not sure what his priorities would be his first year in office and how he would go about acheiving them.  The Hope and Change thing will take you only so far, and now it’s so overused to become a Leno joke. 

If Obama had knocked Hillary out of the race in New Hampshire, he could have coasted to super tuesday.  But whatever mysterious force affected the outcome of the New Hampshire primary to save Hillary is still out there.

Obama needs to go for it, throw caution to the wind.  There are political forces out there in the piney woods, and he should be afraid, very afraid.

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By Maani, January 13, 2008 at 7:53 pm Link to this comment

In fact, it is virtually identical, with only minor details being different.  And BTW, Hillary was the first to offer this specific approach; i.e., before either Obama or Edwards.

Peace.

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By Tony Wicher, January 13, 2008 at 7:50 pm Link to this comment

#By Ernest Canning, January 13:
#By Ernest Canning, January 13: “...there is some remarkable garbage being deposited on this site.  Time you woke up and got a whiff of what it is you have been shoveling…”

Nasty, EC, really nasty, uhh!

“#By Tony Wicher, January 13: “Obviously Obama was telling the people at the anti-war rally that he was with them in opposing the Iraq war…”

Hardly, TW. If he was worried about being seen as a pacifist, he shouldn’t have been there. As it was, he was just exploiting the opportunity - jiving them, that is. Really strange…..”
—————————————————————————-
Why is he “jiving”? It was an honest speech. He says he’s against the war but he’s not a pacifist. Both things are true and there is no contradiction.
I find your view of that speech twisted. It shows that you are unwilling to see things as they are, and fit everything into your preconceived ideology.

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By Douglas Chalmers, January 13, 2008 at 7:33 pm Link to this comment

#By Ernest Canning, January 13: ”...there is some remarkable garbage being deposited on this site.  Time you woke up and got a whiff of what it is you have been shoveling…”

Nasty, EC, really nasty, uhh!

#By Tony Wicher, January 13: “Obviously Obama was telling the people at the anti-war rally that he was with them in opposing the Iraq war…”

Hardly, TW. If he was worried about being seen as a pacifist, he shouldn’t have been there. As it was, he was just exploiting the opportunity - jiving them, that is. Really strange…..

By Paracelsus, January 13: “I’ll tell you what I mean, “I hate my government.”

Its an unhappy feeling, isn’t it, Paracelsus? Depressing thoughts only result in powerlessness, though. They wear you out with their contempt and disregard because it drains you emotionally.

Thus, it creates negative changes in the endocrine system and that results in weakness, fear, resignation and finally total and abject cowering compliance.

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By cyrena, January 13, 2008 at 7:33 pm Link to this comment

I posted this on another thread. Just so no one is confused, (as I temporarily was) this is NOT the same piece by Bill Boyarsky as we’ve been discussing here. And, even though it’s attributed to Truthdig, (and probably properly so) I’ve not seen THIS piece posted on the TD site yet. So, this is actually from TruthOUT, (and they routinely do included pieces from TD on their site) and I thought I’d share it with you.

The Battleground of New Hampshire
  By Bill Boyarsky
  Truthdig

The war is so costly, no president will be able to tackle key domestic issues like health care until we exit Iraq.

  Manchester, NH - When Hillary Clinton, seriously set back by the Iowa caucuses, landed in New Hampshire to resuscitate her presidential campaign, the first question from the audience was unsparingly blunt: “When will the troops come home?”

  She replied, as she has done before, that she hopes to begin bringing them home a brigade or two a month, but will leave enough troops in Iraq to protect themselves, American civilians and Iraqis who have helped the United States. That’s not too much different from what has been proposed by Barack Obama and John Edwards.

The rest at the link:
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/010908E.shtml

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By Guy Honda, January 13, 2008 at 7:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

ditto.  I learn a lot more from sites like this than I do than from the stupid “filtered” media.

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By TRUECRISTIAN, January 13, 2008 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment
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I don’t see what George Bush has done wrong, he’s destroying a bunch of people who shouldn’t be in the 1st place. I say the Iraqis are just here to take up space on this planet. They’re not doing anything to benifit us. George Bush is doing a great job where he is. I hope he sends a nuke to Iraq and just wipe that country out of the map. The only thing the Iraqis know how to do is terrorize countries, they’re all terrorists.Ok, I’m going to say it, I think George Bush is good. He’s one of the greatest president ever.. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! he attack Iraq and many Iraqis died.. so what? I hope he bombs Iraq again, I seriously don’t give a crap if the Iraqis die, I hope bush kills them all, bomb the hell out of Iraq. serioulsy I think the Iraqis are nothing but terrorist and George Bush is doing the world a favour by bombing them and killing them.  they just like to bomb the hell out of each other, so the Americans attacking Iraq doesn’t really make that much of a difference, they’re just speeding up the process. So I solute George Bush

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By cann4ing, January 13, 2008 at 6:55 pm Link to this comment

You’ve got to be kidding, Doug.  Do you really believe that someone like me who consistently supports Dennis Kucinich is suggesting that because I decry the sell out of the Democratic base by the Clintons and the Obamas that I am suggesting that the Republi-crooks are better?

When it comes to the global class war, the difference in the policies of the Republi-crooks and the corporate sector of the Democratic Party entail mostly tactics, but the goal is always the same—perpetuation of the global corporate project and massive inequality at the expense of the middle class aspirations of working class people everywhere.

Your right, Doug, there is some remarkable garbage being deposited on this site.  Time you woke up and got a whiff of what it is you have been shoveling!

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By Paracelsus, January 13, 2008 at 6:54 pm Link to this comment

#By Ernest Canning, January: “Hillary & Obama are two sides of the same corporate coin….”

D’ya mean that the GOP candidates aren’t???

*******************

I’ll tell you what I mean, “I hate my government.”

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By Tony Wicher, January 13, 2008 at 6:18 pm Link to this comment

I wanted to look at your link but the Yahoo server is saying not found. Can you supply the original Huffington Post link?

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By VillageElder, January 13, 2008 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment

Just read this on Huff Post and thought it might add to the discussion
http://news.yahoo.com/s/huffpost/20080112/cm_huffpost/081211;_ylt=Aiav5QqmurZD.4oj7B.iP8us0NUE

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By Tony Wicher, January 13, 2008 at 5:46 pm Link to this comment

DC,

I don’t see anything strange about it. Obviously Obama was telling the people at the anti-war rally that he was with them in opposing the Iraq war while at the same time guarding himself against charges of “pacifism” which would make him unelectable.

Tony

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By Douglas Chalmers, January 13, 2008 at 5:12 pm Link to this comment

By Tony Wicher, January 13: “Do you oppose all wars? I don’t…. the vague rhetoric of “change you can believe in” is wearing thin…”

Nevertheless, it was a strange speech to give to an anti-war rally, TW.

But, instead of simply pretendiong that “I have a dream”..... I had this dream that Obama actually mentioned THE ECONOMY!!!

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By Tony Wicher, January 13, 2008 at 4:40 pm Link to this comment

This is the one in which he said “I don’t oppose all wars” three times at least…..”

DC,

Here we go again. Do you oppose all wars? I don’t. What I oppose, as Obama has said also, is dumnb wars and policies which lead to war. We will not have wars if we have an intelligent foreign policy, a policy that puts human rights and international law above imperialism.  Making the speech Obama made at the time he made it, when he was running for the Senate showed courage and good judgment. But we can probably agree that that one speech can only carry him so far, and the vague rhetoric of “change you can believe in” is wearing thin.

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By cyrena, January 13, 2008 at 3:46 pm Link to this comment

Thank YOU, Village Elder, for such an excellent commentary.

And, you are correct in that John Edwards is the only one who has CONSISTENTLY addressed this, as has Dennis Kucinich.

Now, I must also say that Barak Obama HAS ‘addressed’ it in his speeches. Several of them actually. However, I will admit that I’ve not seen anything in any ‘published policy’ that takes this to task.

I’ve also not looked at John Edwards’ website recently, so I don’t know exactly how he plans to tackle it. Dennis Kucinich DOES have a plan on his own, which puts me in mind of the New Deal, and the Great Society. It worked then. We sure need something now, and damn fast.

Matter of fact, we need to try to make it retroactive some sort of a way.

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By Tony Wicher, January 13, 2008 at 2:56 pm Link to this comment

Under the so-called “free market”, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Marx was right about that at least. The only remedy for poverty is socialism.

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By Maani, January 13, 2008 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment

Dearest Cyrena:

If I were a sexist (which I fully expect you to accuse me of), I would say you are getting hopelessly hysterical.

You say, “This is NOW, and it’s a whole new ball game, because we are on the brink of destruction, and I’m not sure if ANYONE can ‘save’ us, but I know that a continuation of Hillary policies at this time, ISN”T GOING TO DO IT.”

You have yet to articulate how Hillary’s policies are different from Obama’s.  Indeed, other than repeating his rhetoric, or giving generalities, you have dodged this question now for well over a week, on at least half a dozen threads.

You say, “You’ve got a hate campaign to run, and I will not interfere with it.”

At no point have I suggested, or even implied, that I “hate” Obama.  I do not.  I like him alot.  I just think he is getting a “free ride” on his rhetoric, and not being called to account for what words like “hope,” “change” and “turn the page” MEAN to him, his candidacy or his potential presidency. Indeed, this is TRULY an example of the pot calling the kettle black, since it is YOU who have been running a VERY overt “hate campaign” against Hillary.

You say, “...and I consistently evaluate my own opinions, based on the ever changing realities.”

Really?  Well, that’s a good thing.  So why is that when Hillary does it, you call it “flip-flopping” or “political convenience” or other cynical terms? And why haven’t I heard you say the same thing about Obama?  Or is he somehow “perfect” in this regard?

You say, “If you wanna spew hate propaganda, you can, if only because the 1st amendment provisions still exist…”

As noted, I challenge you to find a single word that I have said on ANY thread that indicates that I am “spewing hate” re Obama - or even comes close. Yet I would have NO problem going through half a dozen threads and finding continual, unrelenting hate-spewing from you re Hillary.

Better take the log out of your own eye before you take the splinter out of mine…

Peace.

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By Tony Wicher, January 13, 2008 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment

Maani,

Thanks for your kind words.

Cyrena and I both like Kucinich and we have both been supporting Obama against Clinton for some time on the grounds that Obama could unify the Democratic party and build a national progressive coalition. Maybe I have been watching too much TV, but I was impressed by Hillary’s performance in New Hampshire, and also on Meet the Press today, and now I am wondering why she isn’t just as likely to be able to build such a coalition, and also whether a Clinton-Obama ticket would be a good way to go.

One point that will probably shock some people on this post concerns Zbigniew Brzezinski. I actually feel partially responsible for helping Brzezinski be Barack Obama’s foreign affairs advisor, and I’m proud of it. You will recall that Brzezinski introduced Obama at a foreign policy speech back in August and was heavily criticized by Alan Dershowitz and other Zionists or this. They accused Zbig of “anti-Semitism” and demanded that Obama repudiate him. I considered this charge as outrageous as the similar charge they leveled against Jimmy Carter and his book, “Palestine, Peace not Apartheid”, which I consider that if anything understates Israel;s violations of the human rights of Palestinians. I consider Israel to be a democracy in name only and Jewish supremacy state or a theocracy in reality. I believe support for Zionism is very bad for the United States as it makes us hated all over the world. I think Brzezinski’s views on the Middle East are Israel-neutral and his foreign policy is more likely to be good for this country than one recommended by Dershowitz. I also believe that Zionists are reactionaries who do not speak for the majority of American Jews, who are progressive Democrats. I was able to set up a contact between a a prominent progressive Rabbi and Dr. Brzezinski where he and Jimmy Carter were assured of the support of the progressive Jewish community. Since then I am happy to see that he has remained as Obama’s advisor.

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By Douglas Chalmers, January 13, 2008 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

I can hardly believe the credulous garbage being posted here today…......

#By Ernest Canning, January: “Hillary & Obama are two sides of the same corporate coin….”

D’ya mean that the GOP candidates aren’t???

#By Tony Wicher, January 13: “I have been supporting Obama for over a year because of his intelligent and courageous Iraq speech in October of 2002…”

This is the one in which he said “I don’t oppose all wars” three times at least….. as well as extolling the supposed virtues of “the crucible of the sword”.....

#By Liza, January 13: “Do you want a Drama Queen for president…. Clinton 92-2000 was nothing BUT drama…”

Talk about living in the past, uhh. Hillary’s a woman so she must be a “drama queen”??? Well, that’s half right….. then there are BO’s speeches, uhh.

By the way, guess who just discovered THE ECONOMY??? “You’re likable enough, Hillary” so I copied all of your policies, ha ha…....

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By cyrena, January 13, 2008 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment

•  No, you DON’T “know” what you’re getting with Hillary (in the sense you mean it); you are PRESUMING that.  And this is the underlying failure of yours, and others’, positions here re Hillary: you are conflating your PERSONAL feelings about her with FACTS about her positions and policies

Oh, just STOP it Maani. I’ve already told you to quit telling me what I think, because you don’t know what I think, and you’re just an arrogant and obnoxious bore; A gadfly who tries to swoop in on unsuspecting people, and you’re revealed soon enough.

So, stop with the bullshit, and all of the attempts to play dr. philistine. Save it. I’ve already told you that I DO know what we’ll get with Hillary, and I’ll agree with Tony that I never gave a rat’s ass about whatever sexual antics Bill may or may not have been up to, and I’ve listened to HIM speak before on a variety of topics, and I was ALWAYS impressed by HIS intelligence.

I did NOT agree with every action or decision that HE made, but overall, I didn’t have any major complaints about his administration. However, that was THEN, and I speak only to how my OWN life was affected at the time. This is NOW, and it’s a whole new ball game, because we are on the brink of destruction, and I’m not sure if ANYONE can ‘save’ us, but I know that a continuation of Hillary policies at this time, ISN”T GOING TO DO IT.

So, stop arguing with me on this Maani. You’ve got a hate campaign to run, and I will not interfere with it. I actually prefer watching your types self-destruct. But you need to STOP telling me or anyone else, what we think, because I KNOW what I think, and I consistently evaluate my own opinions, based on the ever changing realities.

So I told you before, buzz off, and stay out of grown folks conversations. If you wanna spew hate propaganda, you can, if only because the 1st amendment provisions still exist in limited spaces and locations. But you can and SHOULD stop telling other folks what they think. If you’re tempted to carry out this same behavior in real time and space locations, in face to face interactions, somebody is going to kick your ass!!

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By VillageElder, January 13, 2008 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

“so little coverage (e.g., the race and gender factors are so much more compelling than poverty)”  Poverty and the plight of the working/middle class constitute the 800 lbs gorilla in this nation.  We regularly hear about the 47 million working folks without health insurance.  We are now hearing about the millions who may lose their homes as a cover for the bail out of the financial industry.  We hear about the lack of savings.  We hear about the loss of jobs.  We hear about the number of folks who are about one paycheck away from being homeless.

Poverty and those who may easily become poor are the biggest threat to this consumer driven economy.  No health insurance?  One major medical incident and you may/will be bankrupt.  Those who earn a wage are forgotten by those who truly have.  Edwards speaks for us as does Kucinch.  But there is nothing sexy about trying to undo the economic rape committed under the guise of an ownership society.  In a massive loss of class awareness the working people vote for the very people who will put in place programs, policies, and regulations counter to the well being of the working class.  The MSM has presented the Horatio Alger story so often that many people still believe it can happen.

The ownership society means that them what own it can do what-ever-the-hell they want with it.  There is a myth of corporate citizenship and a social contract between the corps and society; between the government and it’s citizens.  Broken meaningless phrases.  The onslaught was really unleashed by the policies and practices of Ronald Wilson Regan.  Let’s close the asylums and turn the inmates out on the street.  Sure saved money and gave homelessness a helluva start.  Now we have veterans ....

The owners, that top couple of percent that have about a third of the income, are not threatened by the same calamities we face.  They have the money to buy their way out.  We don’t!

Poverty and its causes must be addressed.  Thank you John Edwards for doing so.

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By Maani, January 13, 2008 at 12:31 pm Link to this comment

Tony:

You are a breath of fresh air here.  Thanks for joining us.  And your recent post, buried below as a reply, deserves to be repeated:

“I was there. I voted for Clinton twice. It was mostly the Republican smear machine that made it a “drama”. I certainly didn’t give a damn about Clinton’s sexual pecadillos. This country has lost its common decency for such things to be part of public discussion. The Clinton impeachment was a travesty. Clinton did a pretty good job of running the country, especially given the reactionary Republican Congress he had to deal with. We drove into a ditch with George Bush in 2000. You can talk about 28 years of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton, but PEOPLE WHO THINK THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GEORGE W. BUSH AND HRC MUST BE BLINDED BY THEIR IDEOLOGIES.  As to Obama, he is going to have to make me believe he is significantly better than Hillary by taking stands that clearly distinguish him from Hillary. I don’t see him doing that right now. I have called his campaign to tell them this, and I get the feeling they are not listening.” (Emphasis mine.)

Setting aside the Kucinich discussion (which I fully support), you might as well be inside my brain re the Obama-Hillary discussion.  Your other posts similarly take the words right out of my mouth.

Thanks!

Cyrena:

You say, “The theoretical ‘difference’ between Hillary and Barak is that with Hillary, we KNOW what we’re getting…more of what we’ve had for 2 decades.”

No, you DON’T “know” what you’re getting with Hillary (in the sense you mean it); you are PRESUMING that.  And this is the underlying failure of yours, and others’, positions here re Hillary: you are conflating your PERSONAL feelings about her with FACTS about her positions and policies.

Indeed, you add, “We honestly DON’T know what we’re getting with Obama.”  Wrong again.  We DO know what we will get with Obama, since his actual positions - as even some of your fellow Hillary non-supporters here have noted - are not all that different from Hillary’s on most of the major issues: Iraq, Iran, Israel, taxes, health care, energy, climate change, torture, etc.

Finally, you say, “I don’t believe any of the ‘connections’ that the less mentally stable among these posters in trying to give him..CFR, Zbrig, etc, etc.”

You don’t “believe?”  What does THAT mean?  These are FACTS about Obama, whether you want to ACCEPT them or not.  Brzezinski IS his chief foreign policy advisor.  Obama IS a member of CFR (as are most of the candidates).  “Etc., etc.”

I can barely believe the depth of your willful ignorance about Obama, and your equally willful right-wing rhetoric about Hillary.  Indeed, I am FAR more likely to agree with those who see them as “two sides of the same coin” (or even the same side) than to consider them to be as far apart as you make them out to be.

Peace.

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By Tony Wicher, January 13, 2008 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment

I would have to say at this point that a vote for Kucinich is a protest vote, which means a vote for a candidate who has no chance in order to make a statement. I could go that way on Feb. 5. Meanwhile, I am staying tuned, watching TV, listening to their speeches. I am actually starting to like Hillary more. It’s like she did prove herself in New Hampshire somehow, did “find her voice”. She sounds more like her own woman now, less dependent on Bill. I actually admire the way she’s held up under fire. I’m watching to see how Obama does.

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By Tony Wicher, January 13, 2008 at 11:59 am Link to this comment

Or join stalwart minority who are betting on the coin falling on edge.

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By Tony Wicher, January 13, 2008 at 11:39 am Link to this comment

I was there. I voted for Clinton twice. It was mostly the Republican smear machine that made it a “drama”. I certainly didn’t give a damn about Clinton’s sexual pecadillos. This country has lost its common decency for such things to be part of public discussion. The Clinton impeachment was a travesty. Clinton did a pretty good job of running the country, especially given the reactionary Republican Congress he had to deal with. We drove into a ditch with George Bush in 2000. You can talk about 28 years of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton, but people who think there is no difference beween George W. Bush and HRC must be blinded by their ideologies. As to Obama, he is going to have to make me believe he is significantly better than Hillary by taking stands that clearly distinguish him from Hillary. I don’t see him doing that right now. I have called his campaign to tell them this, and I get the feeling they are not listening.

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By Tony Wicher, January 13, 2008 at 10:42 am Link to this comment

EC,

When Kucinich announced his candidacy, and said that “this time, I fully expect to win”, my heart wanted to believe, but my cynical old brain would not go along. I know well Chomsky’s theory of “manufacturing consent” in a corporate democracy. It seems that the media “anointed” Clinton, Obama and Edwards as “front runners” and “marginalized” everyone else - not only Kucinich and Gravel, but even Biden and Dodd and Richardson. How did this come about? Was it really deliberate control by corporate owners of the media, as Chomsky would have it, or is this just the way popularity contests work? Because that is what a democratic election is -a popularity contest. Those of us who study the issues are a minority. So we intellectuals are marginalized. We’re doomed, that’s all there is to it - doomed to watch a political “American Idol” forever.

I continue to make regular contributions to Kucinich, because even though he is not going to win, he is doing valuable work. Nevertheless, I continue to watch Hardball and other such shows with amusement, and on Feb. 5 I may find myself leaning more to either Hillary or Obama. I guess I’m one of those “undecided” voters at this point. But I tell you what: on Feb. 5, if I am exactly balanced, I’ll vote for Kucinich.

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By cyrena, January 13, 2008 at 10:17 am Link to this comment

Tony,

Please don’t do it!! The Hillary thing that is. If you’re frustrated with Obama, take the plunge, and give Kucinich your vote. Seriously. What harm can their be in it? I mean, it’s like Ernest said, if enough of us break away from the pack, and follow what we know to be in ALL of our best interests, we might have a shot at survival.

With Obama, my honest take it that he is simply being overly cautious. That may or may not be a good thing, but in his position, I don’t see that he has another choice. So to be frank, I don’t think we’re GOING to hear a whole lot more from him about his intentions, UNLESS he were to get the nomination. So, if that’s what you’re waiting on, it would just be best to vote your conscience, and we’ll see where it all shakes out.

I have to respectfully disagree with those who suggest that Hillary and Barak are the opposite sides of the same coin, but I also accept that I could be wrong, because of the very thing that we’re talking about. He has NOT stated any radically different policies or positions. Not whether or not that is political manipulation, (to an extent it has to be) or that he really is the opposite side of the coin is something that we can’t honestly say either way at this point. There’s nothing (in my opinion) that says he IS, and there’s nothing that says he is NOT. He walks a fine line.

I too was inspired by Obama originally, but I was realistic enough to know that his would be the typical fine line (plus some) of the political games, once he decided to run. There is no way to get around the ugliness of US politics, which is why Kucinich has been so marginalized. We have NOT been a nation of ‘people of substance’ for at least 40 years. If that were the case, we would have elected Kucinich in 2004. I voted for him in THAT primary, but others had already ‘decided’ on Kerry.

The theoretical ‘difference’ between Hillary and Barak is that with Hillary, we KNOW what we’re getting…more of what we’ve had for 2 decades…Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton. We honestly DON’T know what we’re getting with Obama, and I admit that. Although, in the same breath, I should say that I don’t believe any of the ‘connections’ that the less mentally stable among these posters in trying to give him..CFR, Zbrig, etc, etc.

Still, Obama is ‘untested’ in the overall scheme of things. So yeah, that would be a ‘roll of the dice’ if we want to call it that. It still isn’t the same as accepting more of what we already know has put us on the path to destruction, which is right around the corner.

I think of it like this. We’ve got a fatal illness, and it’s advanced to the point where radical treatment is required, to at least STOP the devastation –first-. And, then…try to begin reversing it. I don’t know if Obama can do any of that. I know that Hillary will NOT. There’s no logical reason to believe that she’s going to even stop it, let alone reverse any damage.

On the other hand, Dennis Kucinich can. So, it’s like you go to the doc. He says..you have cancer. Your cells are eating each other up, or whatever. Now, we can send you over to this other doc/specialist, and he can STOP the on-going destruction. Then, he can start you on a treatment program, that will eventually repair the damage. (Kucinich). OR you can try another guy, who may or may not stop and then repair, because we don’t really have a track record for that one.(Obama) OR, you can keep doing what you’re doing, (nothing-Hillary) and you’ve got 6 months to a year. 

And, there you have it. Now you only have to convince the rest of ‘we the people’ that it’s not just YOU that has the fatal illness, with only 6 months to a year, but ALL of us. And, if we don’t ALL get ‘the treatment’ we’re all going down.

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By cann4ing, January 13, 2008 at 9:34 am Link to this comment

TW:  The only reason Dennis Kucinich has “no chance to win” is that otherwise intelligent individuals like yourself have, from day one, bought into the corporate media propaganda that he has “no chance to win.”

Real change will “never” occur until the vast majority of Americans, the working and middle classes, come to understand that the power of the ballot is effective only when they vote based on the substance of the candidate.  You have but one vote in the primary.  Why waste it on a corporate shill—Obama, Clinton (take your pick)?  Have the courage to break away from the herd and support Dennis Kucinich.  Unless you are a resident of either Iowa or New Hampshire, it is not too late to do so.

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By Liza, January 13, 2008 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

Do you want a Drama Queen for president? 

If so, vote for Hillary.  Don’t believe me?  Clinton 92-2000 was nothing BUT drama.

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By Liza, January 13, 2008 at 9:20 am Link to this comment

Tell me again why Obama should like Hillary?  Telling her that she is “likeable enough” is probably the best he could do without retching.

The op-ed writers should not be defining this campaign as they have in the last week.  Everything has been about speculation on whether or not Hillary might actually have feelings and whether or not Obama is too vague as Slick Willie and Hillary would have us believe.

ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hillary is so hoping to catch Obama in one of those Howard Dean “hee haw” moments.  She so wants him to say the one wrong thing that will finish his campaign. 

In the meantime, she and Slick Willie wag their tongues saying anything they please.  I’m tired of it.

Did you notice that the saga of poor Britney Spears has had to go back to the Entertainment pages?  That is because Hillary is providing the drama now.

Go away, Clintons.

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By Blackspeare, January 13, 2008 at 9:18 am Link to this comment

Don’t worry about gender or race by the time the two parties select their candidates and perhaps a third party enters the election, the US will be undergoing a serious recession——all the signs are there.  The economy will always trump gender and race.  Things will get quite interesting in about 4-6 months when the recession will be quire evident.  Bloomberg understands this and a severe recession will booster his chances to dictate terms in the final selection.

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By Tony Wicher, January 13, 2008 at 9:10 am Link to this comment

I have been supporting Obama for over a year because of his intelligent and courageous Iraq speech in October of 2002 which in my mind set him apart from all other Democratic candidates except Kucinich. I agree with Kucinich much more than any other Democratic candidate but I knew he had no chance to win the nomination. Obama seemed capable of reuniting the party and the country, of building a broad-based progressive coalition.

But I am getting tired of hearing about “change you can believe in” over and over without any clear stands on specific issues. The word “change has become meaningless for me. In fact, Hillary is beginning to sound more honest than Obama. I could well end up voting for Hillary on Feb. 5 unless Obama starts to define himself much more clearly.

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By cann4ing, January 13, 2008 at 8:55 am Link to this comment

To Maani and the other posters taken in by image:  Hillary & Obama are two sides of the same corporate coin.  If you believe their hype, you will join the crowd that keeps voting against its own interests.

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By jackpine savage, January 13, 2008 at 8:37 am Link to this comment

You make some excellent points, Cyrena.  And you’re spot on about NAFTA being only part of the problem.  Actually, NAFTA is a logical extension of the economic system in place.  But that economic system has been in place for more than 150 years with almost no change; moreover, Dickens was writing the same critiques of it then as are written now. 

This is not to say that capitalism is bad, but our method of implementing capitalism continues to be based on the realities of the 19th century, which causes us to be stumbling into the 21st.

When the industrial revolution started, labor was relatively expensive.  The opposite was true for resources.  And waste hardly mattered.  Consequently, the drive towards efficiency was one of simple economics, i.e. produce the product at the lowest possible cost.

This model, however, is dependent on externalizing a great many costs inherent in the supply chain.  For a long time such externalization was easy, but the times they are a changin’.  150+ years of industrial production and consumption have brought those externalized costs into our laps.

What we need, in my humble opinion, is a redefining of efficiency.  If you measure our economic efficiency in terms of resource use and waste generation we fail miserably.  Soon enough, we will have no choice about changing our measurements as the price of resources rise and the cost of disposing of waste rise as well.

One of the best examples is agriculture, which has become amazingly economically efficient, but requires massive external costs, energy input, and waste output to achieve all those cheap calories on supermarket shelves.  There are a growing legion of people called “grass farmers”; actually they raise livestock.  But rather than ship them to feed lots to be fattened on grain, these farmers actually graze their grazing animals.  Their goal is not to increase the profit margin by higher production levels; rather, they strive to reduce their costs.

So rather than building a feedlot and paying someone else to grow corn to be shipped and milled before feeding, they establish sod for the cows to eat.  Rather then expending their energy to harvest the feed and bring it to the cows, they have the cows do the work themselves.  Rather than collecting all the manure in a cesspool and paying to dispose of it, the cows lay it on the field.  Chickens get sent out after the cows to spread the manure and eat the grubs that grow in the manure.

You can’t eat a tractor or a manure spreader.  But you can eat a cow and milk a cow.  In fact, you can buy a whole herd of cows for the price of a combine…and combines don’t reproduce.

These farmers are not only economically successful (even before the higher prices commanded by healthy meat, milk, and eggs), they are elegantly efficient.  And the farmers call themselves “grass farmers” because they’re only real job is to grow grass.  This is the kind of efficiency we need to be aiming for.

Free trade is a great thing, unless we are all completely dependent on trade.  Corporate profits, i.e. economic efficiency, has been maintained by moving the location of production.  When China gets too expensive, Africa is next on the list.  We should trade with each other, if only because we each of commodities that are unique.  But what gets called “free trade” isn’t about trade at all, its about propping up a system that is no longer efficient.  It is not “trade” to buy a toy manufactured in China by an American company, because nothing has been traded.

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By Bella81, January 13, 2008 at 3:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve long thought that while there are many “reasons” John Edwards receives so little coverage (e.g., the race and gender factors are so much more compelling than poverty), the most plausible explanation is that he is understood to be the biggest threat to a continuinh business as usual.

He says what he thinks right out loud, and he thinks Washington is in the grip of private business which yjerefore is holding the Constitution and all of us, as hostage. This is well-known but does not universally evoke the indignation it deserves.

Now, in a renewed effort to keep Edwards on the fringe, he’s being characterized as “amgry,” which he may be, but since when is anger a bad thing, when harnessed for the common good? Besides, for all the underhanded meanness that abounds in our culture John Edwards’ anger also is open hearted and frank. I’d even debate that he demnonstrates anger so much as sheer intensity.

So we have Clinton, surely angtry and entitled and acreful and by golly she reminds me of Liebernam; and Obama, who is also extremely careful to not ally him,self with blacks specifically lest he lose the white vote; yet he dare not declare his conservative leanings lest he himself bne sidelined for not being progressive enough.

An article of interest (and which has made me very worried if those two are still duking it out some months from now—and I hope John Edwards is still around to pick up the pieces and walk to the podiujm at the Convention) is linked below. Obama has a very bad record. He is quoted on his strenuous objections to filibustering to stall the Justice Alito appointment (hell-o, what’s that?); he the reason John Edwards gets so little coverage

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By Expat, January 12, 2008 at 11:35 pm Link to this comment

By Paracelsus, January 12 at 6:58 am #
(225 comments total)

Obama’s Advisor, Zbig, speaks of American Hegemony

With the re-emergence of Russia as a global player it would appear American dreams of hegemony are over.  Russia is now usurping us in Persia.  China and India seem to be making nice along with Russia.  Maybe not today, but soon, one or all will be a counter to our governments imperialist direction.  That is my fervent hope.

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By Maani, January 12, 2008 at 8:30 pm Link to this comment

From Frank Rich’s column in the Sunday NYT, which is by no means a Clinton apologia:

“One cliché about Hillary Clinton is true. For whatever reason — and it’s no crime — the spontaneous, outgoing person who impresses those who meet her offstage often evaporates when she steps into the public spotlight. But in the crucial debate before the New Hampshire primary, the private Clinton popped out for the first time in the 2008 campaign. She parried a male inquisitor’s questioning of her likability by being, of all things, likable.

“Not only did Mrs. Clinton betray some (but not too many) hurt feelings with genuine humor, she upped the ante by flattering Barack Obama as “very likable.” Which prompted the Illinois senator to match Mrs. Clinton’s most human moment to date with the most inhuman of his own. To use family-newspaper language, he behaved like a jerk — or, to be more precise, like Rick Lazio, the now-forgotten adversary who cleared Mrs. Clinton’s path to the Senate by boorishly waving a paper in her face during a 2000 debate.

“Mr. Obama’s grudging “You’re likable enough, Hillary” made him look like “an ex-husband that was turning over the alimony check,” in the formulation of Paul Begala, a Clinton backer…

“The question for the two top Democrats, whose specific positions on most issues vary only by increments, is who can best convince the country that they can deliver that change. Mr. Obama’s powerful speeches alone can’t accomplish that, and neither can Mrs. Clinton’s born-again vow to make her emotions and campaign appearances more accessible to voters and the press.”

The rest of the article is here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/opinion/13rich.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&ref=opinion&pagewanted=print

Peace.

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By cyrena, January 12, 2008 at 8:24 pm Link to this comment

Well vic,

This is in fact mostly true stuff. However, they’re no longer the first or the worst. (bad yes, but nothing compared to the current criminal gang).

Matter of fact, this stuff is almost child’s play compared to what the Dick Bush gangsters have done.

And actually, now that I think about it, Nixon had the most cabinet members to come under criminal investigation.

On the rest though…The Distrit of Cheney gansters have beat all of the numbers, and the only difference is that there’s been NO accountibility for any of it. Instead, they’re still at it.

And if Hillary comes up, you can rest assured that they will NEVER be held accountable for any of it.

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By cyrena, January 12, 2008 at 7:27 pm Link to this comment

And, YOU STILL haven’t come up with any evidence. But, the evidence that I was speaking of has been presented in STATS, (how many ‘affluent’ white people do you think put selected Obama in their primary in Iowa moron?)

Iowa is 97% white. How “affluent” do you think they are?

Look at the other threads moron, I’ve left plenty of reading material for you. But, since you don’t even read the opinions of other posters, and prefer instead to speak down to us all in such a condescending manner, like we’re just some dumb hicks that can’t read or discuss issues and options as we know them to be, it’s unlikely that you’ll avail yourself of anything that might conflict with you hate agenda.

So, buzz off, and stay out of grown folks’ conversations. I’m sure that P.T. does NOT take offense to my comments, as they are simply that…comments on a discussion board that we’ve all exchanged views on, long before you came along, and hopefully long after you’re gone.

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By Expat, January 12, 2008 at 7:22 pm Link to this comment

Thanks for this article.  I found this very interesting and informative.

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By cyrena, January 12, 2008 at 7:08 pm Link to this comment

Part I
Maani,

I wonder if others have picked up the irony of your rhetoric at this point. You don’t’ seem to have any idea, that everything you are accusing OTHERS of, is exactly your own very entrenched position. And, I’ve even pointed it out to you before, but it’s typical that you wouldn’t get it. So, just think about how you might come across, in what has become a broken record of your negative campaign. You NEVER focus on what is ‘good’ about your candidate, but only what is BAD about her opponent. (with all emphasis on Obama, even though he is NOT her ‘only’ opponent). Now, check this out…

•  “No, the reason why Obama has chosen not to provide substance to back up the fumes of his rhetoric is because if he did, people would find out (i) that his actual positions on most of the major issues are identical (or close enough) to Hillary’s, (ii) that his Senate voting record is virtually identical to Hillary’s on ALL issues, including the Iraq War (with the sole exception of Hillary’s original vote, which was taken before he got there …”
I take this first, because it’s sort of ‘jumped out’ at me before. (you’ve written the same thing, more than a dozen times. So, are you suggesting that Hillary’s positions and policies are SO BAD, that Obama doesn’t want anybody to know that he agrees with some of them? Now, as an aside, I should first correct you on the very ‘vague’ and general nature of your DISinformation, since he obviously does NOT agree with all of hillary’s positions on major issues, nor has his vote been identical. So, if you’re going to keep speaking in these very vague terms, you’re going to lose any intelligent audience that can check the records, and figure this out for themselves.

Still, back to my point. Is that what you want us to believe? That Obama has nothing of substance, because his positions are the same as hers, and she has no substance to any of her own shit? Or, would you do better to give some thought to the fact that they may actually AGREE on many issues, since they are both progressive democrats? And, in the voting, which doesn’t allow for any more than a yes, no, or I don’t vote at all, could there not be some differences of ideology and policy position that wouldn’t be reflected, in JUST THOSE CHOICES? I mean, unless either one of them is the sole author of the language of any bill or legislation, we really don’t know HOW much of if they approve of, or disapprove of, now do we? We’d certainly have to judge by more than just their yea, ney, or not present.

Let’s take a specific example, since YOU refuse to do this, or even respond when someone else does. Let’s talk about their plans for universal health care. YOU say, that they are EXACTLY the same. Well, guess what? OBAMA said the same thing, and long before you did. He said it quite matter-of-factly, on a program with I believe Timmy Russert. (who I’ve long since stopped watching) Now, Obama came up with his plan sort of early on in his campaign. I can’t really remember when this particular MTP episode was aired. But, he came up with it AFTER hiring a team of experts from across the health care spectrum. And, at the end of that study, he came up with what looks and sounds very much like Hillary’s. And, that’s EXACTLY what he said to Russert, when he asked him about it. He said, “Well you know, my plan is not that much different than what Mrs. Clinton has put forth”.

Now, there IS one difference that I noticed myself, and much later. His does not require a mandatory participation. This may not seem like a big deal, but in the reality of how it is likely to be implemented, it actually IS a big deal. Still, this was apparently the best he thought he could do, which was no better than what she had. How does that reflect badly on HIM, but not on HER?

And, while you’re explaining THAT, can you finally tell us what OTHER identical ‘votes’ they’ve made, that are EQUALLY BAD for overall policy, and ‘we the people?”
TBC

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By cyrena, January 12, 2008 at 7:06 pm Link to this comment

Part 2
Then there’s this, which is where you really reveal yourself.

•  You know, if you and others want to hate Hillary - for things either real or perceived - that is your right.  It is also your right to vote against Hillary SOLELY for that reason (though I believe this would be a stupid reason to do so). …But what seems to be occurring is that, in the heat and passion of the debates here (and elsewhere), people are conflating their personal feelings with ACTUAL POSITIONS AND POLICIES.”

Actually Maani, this is exactly what you’re doing, and the language says it all. You consistently talk about people voting AGAINST Hillary, instead of voting FOR whomever they choose to vote for, based NOT on ‘hating Hillary” but because they prefer the policies, positions, or whatever else they perceive they may gain from another candidate. And, it’s quite STUPID for you to tell somebody that they shouldn’t allow their personal feelings to have an effect on that. And, we really don’t need for you to tell us what our ‘rights’ are.

Are you honestly so arrogant and obnoxious as to believe that EVERYONE has the same concerns and issues as everyone else, and that Hillary will address them ALL, equally, regardless of what their own priorities are? And you call ME arrogant? Do you READ any of these other posts, or are you just so determined to ram your opinion down everyone else’s throat, that none of their priorities matter?
There are many citizens for whom the wars in the Middle East are the primary concerns and issues. Others may really not care a whit about that, and may be far more focused on what any candidate promises or alleges to do about the economy, global warming, the real or perceived problem of immigration, education, jobs, terrorism, (real or perceived) and on and on. Hillary does not necessarily share the same policies or positions on all of those issues, and we’re tired of you demanding that we believe that she does. So in reality, you’re coming across as a HATE OBAMA campaign manager, and that doesn’t help your ‘cause’ at all.

Here you go again:

•  “So if you are going to vote against Hillary, by all means do so.  But don’t claim it is based on positions and policies; be honest with yourself and others that you are doing so based solely on your personal feelings.”

What you’re saying is that if we vote for anyone other than Hillary, we’re voting AGAINST her, and not FOR our own chosen candidate, and then you throw in some extra insults and demands along with it. And, you’re giving us ‘permission’ to do so. We’re supposed to be ‘honest’ with ourselves and ‘others’ and say that it’s based SOLELY on our ‘personal feelings’ because you apparently think that we’re too STUPID to base our selections on our own interpretations of what we prefer in a new leadership, based on the ISSUES that are most important to us, and the way WE perceive the candidates to present them, and how WE believe they will be carried out.

You really are too much Maani. But guess what? At the end of the day, we STILL get to make our selections however the hell we want to make them, without a dictation or demand from YOU! Like let me ask you? Who the hell are YOU?

And now that I’m at it, let me just go on and fill out my absentee ballot, and get it in the mail. You’ve annoyed me so much that I’ve decided not to think on it anymore. And, just so you know…I will not be voting AGAINST Hillary, because I do not HATE her. Rather, I will be voting FOR Barak Obama, because I think he can do the best job, among those most likely to get the larger percentage of support from the general populace. And, I’ll even drop Barak a letter, and ask him to select Dennis Kucinich as his running mate, and hope that Kucinich will be willing to accept.

Meantime, you need to get back to work on your hate campaign, so you can convince other dummies to ‘vote AGAINST’ Obama, just because you say so. As of now, your material is really getting stale.

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By VillageElder, January 12, 2008 at 6:23 pm Link to this comment

Think class not color we are all in the same sinking boat with a rotten hull.  Rational policy specifics must trump gender and race.  Don’t buy the lies.  This is a society divided by by class - economic class.  The gap has been widening for 40 years.  Look at who is in the life boat with you.  We are all of the same economic class despite earnings by labor be it “blue or white collar”,color of skin, belief system, point of national origin or education.

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By Maani, January 12, 2008 at 6:15 pm Link to this comment

Yup, keep repeating those claims and, like the Bush-Cheney repetition of a connection between 9/11 and Iraq, people will definitely believe them.

From an exhaustive article on presidential misconduct by Sean Wilentz (April 2006):

“By contrast, the most scandal-ridden administration in the modern era, apart from Nixon’s, was Ronald Reagan’s, now widely remembered through a haze of nostalgia as a paragon of virtue. A total of twenty-nine Reagan officials, including White House national security adviser Robert McFarlane and deputy chief of staff Michael Deaver, were convicted on charges stemming from the Iran-Contra affair, illegal lobbying and a looting scandal inside the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Three Cabinet officers—HUD Secretary Samuel Pierce, Attorney General Edwin Meese and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger—left their posts under clouds of scandal.  In contrast, not a single official in the Clinton administration was even indicted over his or her White House duties, despite repeated high-profile investigations and a successful, highly partisan impeachment drive.”

As well, as Wilentz points out, the Bush presidency is not yet over, but most of his numbers will unquestionably outdo those of Clinton.

In addition, you seem to forget (or simply support) how outrageously partisan the Starr investigations were; that the entire impeachment fiasco was simply a (successful) attempt to prevent Clinton from accomplishing ANYTHING in his second term.

This is not to say Clinton is an angel, or provide an apologia for his misconduct, and that of many of his aides and associates.  But make sure you are not simply regurgitating the rhetoric of the right.

Peace.

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By Maani, January 12, 2008 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

You may find this eerily apropos of your comment…

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/12/opinion/12burka.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&ref=opinion&pagewanted=print

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By VillageElder, January 12, 2008 at 6:01 pm Link to this comment

I really is time for the repuglicans to get over Bill Clinton.  Let us talk about the repugs in the rest rooms of train stations, airports, parks and bus stations with illict sex of all types.  How about hookers and repugs in the reflectings pool.  Repugs and pages.  Henry Hyde saying his long term affair, was a boyish indecresion. The hypocrisy is tiring; go to a right wing christy repug fascists board where people will agree.

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By Douglas Chalmers, January 12, 2008 at 5:53 pm Link to this comment

Felicity:You said, “And perhaps when

By Maani, January 12: “the reason why Obama has chosen not to provide substance…. is because if he did, people would find out (i) that his actual positions on most of the major issues are identical (or close enough) to Hillary’s…... that his advisors are no more or less entrenched party hacks (and sometimes warmongers) than Hillary’s…”

Yes, Maani (excuse my interjection), this is the typical lawyer at work. Making a ploy out of nothing in order to construct a case out of something seemingly different which is substantially the same. Jiving people, that is, uhh.

Today’s dramatic electoral upset in Taiwan is a microcosm example of the disaster a lawyer-led government can get itself into and the resultant sudden stark change brought about by peoples’ dissatisfaction with corruption and incompetence and threats of conflict.

The KMT won its landslide victory “because Taiwanese people have used their wisdom to vote against corruption and incompetence in the government,” said Tsai Chin-lung, who won a seat in Taichung for the party. “Taiwanese people are really outraged with what the government is doing,” he said.

The result shows that the people of Taiwan want change, said Chao Chien-min, professor at National Chengchi University. “The second thing is the economy: Chen Shui-bian doesn’t understand the economy. He always thinks it’s OK just to be political.” http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTP33709720080112?sp=true

It is all the more instructive because the DPP’s Chen Shui-bian (colloquially “Ah-Bian”) who has now resigned as the party’s leader was not only popular but seemingly had an ideal humanistic background. Nevertheless, both he and his wife have been the subject of recent serious scandals http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chen_Shui-bian

Thus, another pro-USA government has fallen. The rhetoric of change he advocated was not enough in itself. Finally, “Its the economy, stupid!” became the catalyst for change in a way he would not have forseen in 2000. Mainland China’s nemesis, the KMT, is now back in power by popular demand along with closer ties to communist China.

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By Thomas Billis, January 12, 2008 at 5:39 pm Link to this comment

Maybe because of race it is impossible to say that Obama is so full of shit he would need two rolls of toilet paper.Rudy says 911 and Obama says change.Meaningless words without a program.You have to think Obama watched George Bush get elected with meaningless phrases like “compassionate comservatism"and concluded that the American people will buy any shit as long as it is wrapped in pretty catch phrases.You no what?They are probably right.

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By vic, January 12, 2008 at 5:33 pm Link to this comment

Why anyone will want to vote all this baggage back into the White House is beyond me…

I would rather have a fresh start and roll the dice with Obama than go back to sleezy scandals in the White House

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By vic, January 12, 2008 at 5:25 pm Link to this comment

Maani,

Hillary is running on a joint platform with Bill, talking credit for everything that happened during his presidency. 

If we get Hill, we get Bill and we also get this part of the Clinton dynasty:

Clinton scandals:
- The only president ever impeached on grounds of personal malfeasance
- Most number of convictions and guilty pleas by friends and associates*
- Most number of cabinet officials to come under criminal investigation
- Most number of witnesses to flee country or refuse to testify
- Most number of witnesses to die suddenly
- First president sued for sexual harassment.
- First president accused of rape.
- First first lady to come under criminal investigation
- Largest criminal plea agreement in an illegal campaign contribution case
- First president to establish a legal defense fund.
- First president to be held in contempt of court
- Greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions
- Greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions from abroad
- First president disbarred from the US Supreme Court and a state court

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By Maani, January 12, 2008 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment

Felicity:

You said, “And perhaps when he’s on the stump he holds back on ‘specifics’ because he’s equally uncomfortable with dissimulation, dissembling, innuendo, obfuscation and demigoguery - the ‘substance’ of political speak.”

No, the reason why Obama has chosen not to provide substance to back up the fumes of his rhetoric is because if he did, people would find out (i) that his actual positions on most of the major issues are identical (or close enough) to Hillary’s, (ii) that his Senate voting record is virtually identical to Hillary’s on ALL issues, including the Iraq War (with the sole exception of Hillary’s original vote, which was taken before he got there), (iii) that his advisors are no more or less entrenched party hacks (and sometimes warmongers) than Hillary’s, and (iv) that despite all the sweetly inclusive talk of “we,” if he is elected, it is HE - individually, without your personal help - who will have to deal with Congress, government agencies, foreign leaders, etc.

You know, if you and others want to hate Hillary - for things either real or perceived - that is your right.  It is also your right to vote against Hillary SOLELY for that reason (though I believe this would be a stupid reason to do so).

But what seems to be occurring is that, in the heat and passion of the debates here (and elsewhere), people are conflating their personal feelings with ACTUAL POSITIONS AND POLICIES.

So if you are going to vote against Hillary, by all means do so.  But don’t claim it is based on positions and policies; be honest with yourself and others that you are doing so based solely on your personal feelings.

Peace.

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By cann4ing, January 12, 2008 at 4:59 pm Link to this comment

News flash, Mr. Boyarsky!  With rare exceptions (Kucinich, Nader, Paul), vague messages are the essence of all U.S. campaigns, which are driven by a corporate media with a substance deficit disorder.  Candidates are sold by the PR industry the same way that industry creates demand for products—by carefully erected image and by deception.  Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton can not come out and tell the American people that they are running to protect the interests of the ruling class.  That is why they will pretend to empathize with the plight of the under-insured even as they advance policies intended to head off the only real reform—single-payer—that could eliminate the core of the problem.

In “Failed States” Noam Chomsky notes that the deceptive nature American elections has given rise to a “democracy deficit”“—the significant gap between the policy positions of the electorate and their elected representatives.  One example is Reagan’s “landslide victory’ of 1984” where “just under 30 percent of the electorate voted for Reagan.  Of these, 4 percent gave as their primary reason that he’s a real conservative.  Therefore, 1 percent of the electorate voted for a ‘real conservative’ in what was described as a powerful mandate for ‘conservatism.’...polls showed that by 3 to 2, voters hoped that Reagan’s legislative program would not be enacted….that the public favored tax increases devoted to New Deal and Great Society programs…..Cuts in Social Security were opposed with near unanimity, cuts in Medicare…by well over 3 to 1.  The public preferred cuts in military spending to cuts in health programs by about 2 to 1.”

Chomsky went on to observe:  “None of this matters as long as elections are skillfully managed to avoid issues and marginalize the underlying population…freeing the elected leadership to serve the substantial people.  And it did.”

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By Maani, January 12, 2008 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena:

“P.T…You’re very much off track on this particular issue, and I feel very confident in assuring you that Obama’s white support is NOT affluent, unless you choose to count the minority of the Hollywood establishment. He DOES have their support.  And, if you give it a little thought, you’d guess that the only reason his CHANGE and HOPE message has had any traction (and it HAS) is because it IS directed at the working and middle classes. How important do you believe CHANGE is, for the affluent white populace? Don’t you figure they’re probably perfectly OK with the current status quo? I mean, unless they happen to have a real conscience, they would be far more likely to be in Hillary’s corner.”

Isn’t this exactly what you accused ME of?  Making conjectural statements without providing support for them?  Where is your support for this claim?  In fact, P.T. is correct re the Iowa and NH votes.

“I feel very confident in assuring you…”  Really?  Based on what evidence, stats, etc.”

This is unbelievably shoddy for someone who just chastised me for doing this exact thing.

Peace.

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By Maani, January 12, 2008 at 4:40 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena:

“A lot of us, me included, plan to sully ourselves morally and philosophically by playing with the Republicans for the day.”

And do you expect to be admired or respected for this?  Why on God’s earth would you knowingly and dishonestly engage in this type of thing?

This certainly won’t help to raise your profile here.

Peace.

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By Margie Bernard, January 12, 2008 at 4:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hi Bill, it’s been many years since meeting you while in Des Moines in ‘76 for the Sen. Fred Harris Campaign. As for me in the current Democratic line-up, only John Edwards come close to the principles that Fred stood for. The last woman & black I campaigned for was Rep. Shirley Chisholm…wonder who she would support in this contest. I just cast my CA absentee ballot for Edwards as I currently reside in Co. Donegal, Ireland.
Best wishes to an astute reporter!

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By Douglas Chalmers, January 12, 2008 at 3:38 pm Link to this comment

Truthdig Editorial Staff is Pathetique

By Gabir, January 12 at 10:45: ”...how pathetic Mr. Scheer and his staff are in their attempt to derail Mr. Obama’s campaign…..  attempt to hold contempt for Hillary Clinton , but covertly , she is their candidate of choice…”

Indeed, Gabir, if women bemoan breaking through the glass ceiling , what is it like for a black presidential candidate? Actually, Truthdig DID do their best to smear and denigrate Hillary Clinton last year. Times have changed in as much as she has retained her popularity and so now they are turning their misogynist attention to Barack Obama.

Sexism is easliy replaced by racism. Things will get get worse here in the coming days. That leaves those of us who want to make genuine criticisms in a quandary as regards how to go about it. Sadly, it has been compounded by the trite but shrill petulant demands of some who instantly decry any criticism whatsoever of a black/colored person as racist.

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By cyrena, January 12, 2008 at 3:22 pm Link to this comment

Part 1
P.T…You’re very much off track on this particular issue, and I feel very confident in assuring you that Obama’s white support is NOT affluent, unless you choose to count the minority of the Hollywood establishment. He DOES have their support.

And, if you give it a little thought, you’d guess that the only reason his CHANGE and HOPE message has had any traction (and it HAS) is because it IS directed at the working and middle classes. How important do you believe CHANGE is, for the affluent white populace? Don’t you figure they’re probably perfectly OK with the current status quo? I mean, unless they happen to have a real conscience, they would be far more likely to be in Hillary’s corner.

So on this one at least, I think you have it backwards.

As for NAFTA, that happens to be a double-edged sword that not many people want to see as such. On the one hand, we hate that we’ve lost so many jobs to the ‘free market’ and we incorrectly perceive that ALL of the jobs have actually gone overseas, because in reality, many have simply been ELIMINATED. But, we LOVE being able to buy our stuff cheap..MUCH cheaper than we could buy it, if it were manufactured here, with American labor, even at the minimum wage.

That’s not to suggest that I’m apologizing for it, because of course the policy in the hands of the neoconners, AS WELL AS the neo-liberals, has been a major disaster. Still, there is more to the thing than seems to meet the average eye. The REASON that NAFTA is such a disaster, is because of the grotesque and out-of-proportion profits that wind up in the hands of the Corporate Oligarchy, which includes the Clintons.

A quick example on the effects of this, over say the past 15 years: I purchased my first computer from Gateway about 12 years ago. It was a desktop with the smallest hard drive, and the slowest processor. If memory serves me, I paid somewhere around $1,700. for it; maybe more when a few extra gadgets were thrown in. It was manufactured in South Dakota, which means that it presumably provided lots of jobs for US citizens.
The customer service was EXCELLENT, and I’m not kidding on this. I’m a customer service connoisseur, of the old style. I believe in giving the customer what they paid for, and maybe even a bit extra, and doing it with a smile. So believe me, I definitely got my money’s worth on that computer, because I probably talked to customer service and tech support, IN SD, several times a week. Suffice to say that despite my long term computer use on my own job, I didn’t know a thing about PC’s or the Windows operating system. With the help of the skilled and friendly folks at Gateway, (in South Dakota) I taught myself how to use it, and pretty efficiently. When I whacked it up on a few occasions, (because I didn’t know what I was doing) they either walked me through repair, or sent someone out. No charge. They replaced a circuit board one time, that I had probably jacked-up myself.

Six years later, I purchased another one from Gateway, this time a laptop, with more bells, whistles, higher capacity and faster everything. I paid about the same as I had for the first one. (by then, the desktops could be had for almost half of what I’d paid for the first one). THAT purchase however, was shipped from Shanghai, even though I’d ordered it from Gateway in SD. Shortly thereafter, Gateway began closing all of its service centers, (that one could walk into) and the customer service and tech support were strictly limited. Unless one paid for some extra package of “X” number of hours of tech support, each call generally involved a fee.

I said that to say that not only had they outsourced the manufacturing of the units themselves, (to China) but they’d virtually eliminated trained personnel for customer service.

TBC

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By cyrena, January 12, 2008 at 3:21 pm Link to this comment

Part 2
This is not unusual, as my own industry has done the same thing over the past 2 decades. What the commercial airline industry hasn’t ‘outsourced’ to contract companies for services such as fueling, security screening, some baggage handling, etc, they’ve virtually eliminated by switching as many of those tasks as possible, to automation. For instance, in my very small local airport now, one cannot even find a ticket agent for some of the airlines. If ya don’t have your ticket already purchased before you get there, you’re just SOL. And for the most part, you’re expected to have your own boarding pass, or get it from a machine at the airport. In short, if you need a real live person for anything, you could be looking for a long time, because they are in short supply. Now those jobs haven’t been ‘outsourced’ as much as they have been eliminated. At the same time, the air fares are considerably higher than they were when service actually was available. And what human employees DO remain, are losing pay and benefits faster than a busted levee loses water, and working like plantation slaves.

That’s not the case with the actual GOODS – like computer manufacturing that has been outsourced to overseas locations. But the SERVICES, (which is just another component of the phenomena) have either been outsourced, (like when you call your local cell phone company, and get somebody in INDIA) or simply eliminated. (like when you can never get beyond a ‘menu’ on the telephone, to ask a simple question).

So, on the ‘goods’ side of it, we’re generally happy enough to pay cheaper prices for the things we want. On the services side of it, we’re still losing jobs, and the consumer is NOT adequately served. On the ‘goods’ side of it, the pragmatism speaks loudly enough. To make the same stuff here, would simply cost a whole lot more than it does in many other countries; where a worker is quite well paid, even at $20.00 a day. (and that doesn’t even require sweatshop conditions, though they certainly exist). These are countries that don’t have to pay $1,500/month for a studio apartment, or $400.00 a month for utilities, or jillions to feed themselves. Now we COULD still manufacture these things here and pay at least minimum wage, (though nobody can really exist on a minimum wage) but we also have to be prepared to pay more for them, and more importantly, the corps would have to give up a portion of their obscene profits, and of course that includes, WALL STREET and all of the stock holders. Now I personally don’t mind paying more for American made goods, and services provided by Americans. I would prefer to. But I couldn’t afford to pay the workers AND the obscene corporate profits as well. So, something’s gotta give.

So, this isn’t an argument in favor of NAFTA, (since I highly disapprove of it). But, it is a reality check on just where the losses and gains are happening as a result of it. In other words, it’s not JUST NAFTA that is responsible for this. The busting up of labor unions and the elimination of the collective bargaining power of the American worker has been in the process for well over 2 decades now. Without that decline, NAFTA could never have had this effect. And when a corporate exec earns 800% more than the highest paid laborer in the same corp, and pays the SAME or LESS taxes, there’s THAT problem as well.

NAFTA is only part of the problem.

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By Jacks, January 12, 2008 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment

How’s he going to “heal” our country again?  You do realize that politics deals with conflict, right?  No one should be foolish enough to believe that the right wing will be any less rabid, or that corporate interests that are parasites upon our democracy will be any less influential.

Oh, and on his “conscience:” check his Iraq voting record.  Obama has the same conscience as Clinton.  Obama is the cynic, for peddling “hope” and “change” when he knows he offers neither.  And where his conscience when he sought out the support of McClurkin?  The man is a politician—not a God.

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By Jacks, January 12, 2008 at 3:11 pm Link to this comment

Obama is a hawk: increased defense spending, increased military intervention, increased nation building, and unilateral action and preemptive strikes are on the table.

Obama and Clinton are political *twins.*  Also, Z is the one who once stated that he thought the threat of Islamic radicalism was a joke.

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By vic, January 12, 2008 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment

Found this in Washington Post on Obama’s record:

Judge Him by His Laws
By Charles Peters
Friday, January 4, 2008;

People who complain that Barack Obama lacks experience must be unaware of his legislative achievements.

Since most of Obama’s legislation was enacted in Illinois, most of the evidence is found there—and it has been largely ignored by the media in a kind of Washington snobbery that assumes state legislatures are not to be taken seriously.

I am a rarity among Washington journalists in that I have served in a state legislature. I know from my time in the West Virginia legislature that the challenges faced by reform-minded state representatives are no less, if indeed not more, formidable than those encountered in Congress. For me, at least, trying to deal with those challenges involved as much drama as any election. And the “heart and soul” bill, the one for which a legislator gives everything he or she has to get passed, has long told me more than anything else about a person’s character and ability.

Consider a bill into which Obama clearly put his heart and soul. The problem he wanted to address was that too many confessions, rather than being voluntary, were coerced—by beating the daylights out of the accused.

Obama proposed requiring that interrogations and confessions be videotaped.

This seemed likely to stop the beatings, but the bill itself aroused immediate opposition. There were Republicans who were automatically tough on crime and Democrats who feared being thought soft on crime. There were death penalty abolitionists, some of whom worried that Obama’s bill, by preventing the execution of innocents, would deprive them of their best argument. Vigorous opposition came from the police, too many of whom had become accustomed to using muscle to “solve” crimes. And the incoming governor, Rod Blagojevich, announced that he was against it.

Obama had his work cut out for him.

He responded with an all-out campaign of cajolery. It had not been easy for a Harvard man to become a regular guy to his colleagues. Obama had managed to do so by playing basketball and poker with them and, most of all, by listening to their concerns. Even Republicans came to respect him. One Republican state senator, Kirk Dillard, has said that “Barack had a way both intellectually and in demeanor that defused skeptics.”

The police proved to be Obama’s toughest opponent. Legislators tend to quail when cops say things like, “This means we won’t be able to protect your children.” The police tried to limit the videotaping to confessions, but Obama, knowing that the beatings were most likely to occur during questioning, fought—successfully—to keep interrogations included in the required videotaping.

By showing officers that he shared many of their concerns, even going so far as to help pass other legislation they wanted, he was able to quiet the fears of many.

Obama proved persuasive enough that the bill passed both houses of the legislature, the Senate by an incredible 35 to 0. Then he talked Blagojevich into signing the bill, making Illinois the first state to require such videotaping.

Obama didn’t stop there. He played a major role in passing many other bills, including the state’s first earned-income tax credit to help the working poor and the first ethics and campaign finance law in 25 years (a law a Post story said made Illinois “one of the best in the nation on campaign finance disclosure”). Obama’s commitment to ethics continued in the U.S. Senate, where he co-authored the new lobbying reform law that, among its hard-to-sell provisions, requires lawmakers to disclose the names of lobbyists who “bundle” contributions for them.

Taken together, these accomplishments demonstrate that Obama has what Dillard, the Republican state senator, calls a “unique” ability “to deal with extremely complex issues, to reach across the aisle and to deal with diverse people.”

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By bg1, January 12, 2008 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/video/2008/jan/04/ken.silverstein

Worth watching.

Also,http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/video/2008/jan/08/obama

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By yours truly, January 12, 2008 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Why is that?”

“Either we end the Iraq war or it’ll be the end of us.”

“So who do we support?”

“A candidate who upon being elected will make good on his or her campaign promise to end the Iraq war.”

“And then what?”

“Empowered by our having ended the Iraq war, we go on to change the world, that’s what.”

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By cyrena, January 12, 2008 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment

Felicity,

I love this. Good enough reasons for me.

(I’m not really sure that’s how Bush got elected though..but I DEFINITELY get your point)

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By sns, January 12, 2008 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Obama is the superior pick over Clinton for too many reasons to enumerate….and at this stage of the game it might be better to roll the dice on a fresh face than get more of the same…......Obama is sharp and will learn quickly…..and he hasn’t cultivated his Washington enemies….yet….like the other candidates already have….....

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By felicity, January 12, 2008 at 12:40 pm Link to this comment

vote BECAUSE he looks very uncomfortable when asked a policy question requiring a PHD thesis to answer - and he has 30 seconds.  And perhaps when he’s on the stump he holds back on ‘specifics’ because he’s equally uncomfortable with dissimulation, dissembling, innuendo, obfuscation and demigoguery - the ‘substance’ of political speak. (How do we think Bush got elected?)

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