Dedicated to seeking out the misinformation of the right wing machine.
Main Entry: 1lib·er·al
1. Liberal -- Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
2. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
Everyone but Sen. Clinton knows it is over. Everyone is busy with post-game analysis of why she lost. But the reason is so obvious that it is staring us in the face. Even the best analysis, from Karen Tumulty, does not mention it, perhaps because it is too obvious.
She misread the mood and tried to run as a Washington insider/incumbent when the electorate was hungry for change.
Her strategists didn’t have a good understanding of the nomination rules. Allegedly, chief strategist Mark Penn was actually ignorant of the proportional allocation rule and thought just winning the big states would be enough to secure the nomination.
She underestimated the caucus states and chose not to put resources into them because she thought her core voters would be unlikely to caucus.
She relied on old money for fundraising and didn’t tap into the new modes of Internet fundraising.
She didn’t plan ahead for a long race and was very late to set up operations in states which voted after Super Tuesday.
What doomed the Clinton candidacy is of course, her vote in favor of the Iraq war. But, you say, so did most of her Democratic Colleagues in Congress.Yes, but none of them made it either. Apart from Kucinich, only Obama opposed the war from the beginning. Clinton was the best among the candidates that voted for the war: not only for her personal qualities, but also because of the formidable machine that she and her husband had built over the years. Between Kucinich and Obama there is no match.
It appears in hindsight that Sen. Clinton's Iraq vote was an early sign of the kind of candidate she would be. At the time she voted for that war, she was a freshman Senator. She was trying hard to establish her National Security credentials. She pulled strings to get on the coveted Armed Services Committee. She toured the world, at least on occasion with John McCain. She was trying to overcome what she thought would be her biggest liability as a Presidential candidate: a woman has to prove that she is tough, like Margaret Thatcher. What better way to show toughness than to show command of military matters? She worked hard to remove any doubt that she would be qualified to be Commander-in-Chief.
When Sen. Clinton stood up to speak on the war on Oct 10, 2002 the war was not a controversial issue among the establishment of this country. Many of the same pundits who escoriate her in the mainstream media today were braying in support of Pres. Bush. After 9/11, the Senator from New York had to be tough on terrorism. Pres. Bush had an approval rating of 64%, down from a high of 88% a year earlier, but still quite respectable. Even VP Cheney was at 54%. Congress had a rating of about 45%: quite good for that body. ( Congress as a whole always polls below individual members in their Districts). The anti-war protests appeared anemic due to the biased media coverage in the aftermath of 9/11. Quite a few Liberal Members of Congress protested the war, but they were marginalized as the `loony left' by compliant elite opinion makers. As in the letter which the DLC wrote to the members of Congress calling on them to support the President.
So it was quite easy to make the decision to support the war. She did not find it necessary to read the NIE: she already knew most of the experts personally and knew their views. That much of the evidence for WMD in Iraq was fabricated was obvious to most experts, but it is doubtful that Sen. Clinton ever even questioned it. The important thing was not to get caught on the wrong side of history, when many of her colleagues even on the Democratic side of the Senate was going to vote for it.
Yet 23 Senate Democrats voted against the war ( HT to GN1927 for correction. See comment below for complete list.) Also a Republican, Lincoln Chaffee. We must honor these honorable men and women who stood up when the nation needed them.
Fake mavericks like McCain rolled over and played nice. Sen. Clinton fully expected the Primary for Democratic nomination in 2008 to be a coronation: the real attacks would come from Republicans in the General Elections. So she was looking to the right and not the left as she made her decision. She made a crucial decision risking the lives of thousands of soldiers based on a mere political calculation.
And in case things went wrong there was always the fig leaf: she could always claim that the resolution only authorized the use of force, so it was not a declaration of war. Such distinctions loom large in the mind of lawyers, but rarely do they mater in politics. So a confident and resolute Sen. Clinton spoke in favor of House Joint Resolution 114 of the 104th Congress ( 2nd Session)
She knew then that she would be running for President. She did not know that this speech would destroy that bid. How could she? She had no original thought on the matter, no independent analysis to fall back on. She did not know specific classified information that should have raised serious questions because she had not bothered to read the NIE. She was mostly repeating in her speech the administration talking points that had also hoodwinked the New York Times, that Colin Powell had presented to the UN (to his own disgrace). She did not know that Cheney had pressured the analysts into producing papers that supported his views, because she had not dug deep into the matter.
So who could have known that this war was a dumb war? Only people who paid attention, even without any secret information available to Federal Government officials. Who knew that it was not Saddam Hussein but his mortal enemy the Al Queda that had carried out the attacks of 9/11, in spite of Cheney's claims? Everyone of course. But that was not enough for the pundits, the Congress or Sen. Clinton to oppose a war on Iraq. They let the confusion of Hussein and Al Queda stand. It was not lack of knowledge, it was lack of courage to act on what they knew. It was not only Sen. Clinton that failed. Most of the establishment of the country went along, to their everlasting shame: Judy Miller was the worst but opinion makers like Thomas Friedman, Jonathan Alter, establishment news sources like the New York Times, Washington Post, The New Republic, all went along.
But they are not running for President. Sen. Clinton is and she has never recovered from her lapse of judgement. Why is no establishment writer pointing to that as the reason why she lost? Because they are all complicit in the original sin of supporting the invasion of Iraq.
How did a minor American politician, a mere State Senator in Illinois, get it right when all these towering giants did not? It is not that Barack Obama had better information. It is not even because he was smarter. He simply had the courage to say what he knew to be true. He would, strangely, trust that the people he was addressing were adults. This peculiar approach got him elected to the US Senate. It made him repudiate the support of the DLC:
I am not currently, nor have I ever been, a member of the DLC.It does appear that, without my knowledge, the DLC…listed me in their ‘New Democrat’ directory. Because I agree that such a directory implies membership, I will be calling the DLC to have my name removed, and appreciate your having brought this fact to my attention.”
As Sen. Clinton noted, she brings many years of experience to the table as does Sen. McCain. Sen. Obama brings a speech he gave in 2002. Here is the text of that speech:
Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances.
The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union, and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil. I don’t oppose all wars.
My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton’s army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and he did not fight in vain.I don’t oppose all wars.
After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this Administration’s pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such a tragedy from happening again. I don’t oppose all wars.
And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.
What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income – to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.
Now let me be clear – I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him. But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.
I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.
So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the president today. You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s finish the fight with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings.
You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure that the UN inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.
You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.
You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn’t simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.
Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair.
The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not – we will not – travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain.
Only a few seconds of the film of that speech that survives. The words repeated by-some of his supporters- are powerful, even if, delivered without Obama's special diction.
This speech displayed the qualities with which he would defeat Sen. Clinton and win the nomination six years later. And six months after that he will defeat Sen. McCain in the General Electon and start a historic Presidency. You are right, Sen. Clinton, Obama only brought to the table a speech he gave in 2002. That was enough.
UPDATE: Arie Berman makes a similar point in The Nation
"Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again.... Whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me. There’s a pattern emerging here."
No, that wasn't Orval Faubus speaking, and you haven't been transported back to the Arkansas politics of 1957. Instead, you have entered the modern sewer of Clintonland, where anything goes and it commonly stinks to high heaven.
I'm sure you've already seen the quote or heard it played a dozen times on cable network news. Because it was, to put it mildly, upsetting to more than a few folks. Here was Senator Hillary Clinton once again -- only this time directly and explicitly -- playing the good-old-boy politics of race.
She uttered those staggering incomprehensibles to USA Today within hours of her game-ending humiliations in Indiana and North Carolina Tuesday night, so she could always whip out the excuse -- although, as we know, she never apologizes -- of sleep deprivation.
But if true, then even her non compos mentis moments are disciplined and calculated. For they just happened to square with what her campaign has been publicly circulating since South Carolina.
Hillary later "said her remarks weren’t meant to be divisive." OK. I'll let that pass. It's just too easy.
What continues to astonish and calls for comment, however, is the vast flock of Hillary supporters who remain wandering in the wilderness, seemingly oblivious to the immense urgency of her withdrawal from the race.
Oh, just let the primaries play out, they say, because she says it. What harm does it do?
The USA Today interview answered that question.
There was, late into the night of May 6 and all throughout Wednesday, a kind of settled in and laid back attitude developing within the party that, sure, letting the remaining primaries play out would probably be a good thing now. Hillary can speak her positive peace and her supporters can have the opportunity to cast their pro-Hillary votes -- sort of get it all off their chests, that sort of thing. It would be cathartic.
All would now be well, since everyone now knows that the remaining primaries are merely avenues to blow off a little steam.
But all of this was predicated on the understanding that Hillary would shift gears into a unifying and positive mode. She would, that is, attempt no further damage on Barack Obama -- no further divisiveness within or around the party.
That was the broad understanding, and it wasn't one of those subtle, unspoken understandings, either. Everyone -- including, most notably, many of Hillary's prominent supporters -- was saying and writing and emailing on election night and all throughout Wednesday that a nice, pleasant, non-divisive and positive campaign on Hillary's part was now the order of the day, and surely Hillary would adopt this approach in the interest of party unity. Because, as was enormously apparent to all, this thing was over.
And then -- bam! -- came Thursday morning's USA Today's revelation of what Hillary was already plotting and executing within hours of her electoral demise. She had no intention of laying low and no intention of tamping down party divisions. In fact, she was hitting the gas and driving the demographic wedges as deeply as she could.
And why? One word, or, rather, one year: 2012.
Hillary may be devious, but she's not idiotically devious. She knows as well as the next Democrat that Obama has the 2008 nomination locked down. So she has moved on to the next little problem: the 2008 general election. And what better way to clear the path of a Democratic loss than by sowing the seeds of racial division -- than by reminding white voters of all partisan and especially non-partisan stripes that black Obama is not one of them, and never will be.
"There's a pattern emerging here" -- and, you bet, many hard-working white Americans know it well.
It's the 21st century, folks, and these are the 1950s terms in which Hillary has chosen -- again, directly and explicitly -- to frame the presidential selection process.
In another word, it's scandalous.
Obama, of course, will have to play nice with Hillary; he'll have to ignore and dismiss such trash talk in his seemingly lone quest to unify his party. But one would think it would finally cut the progressive ties from Hillary -- that her heretofore enthusiastic progressive supporters would now say, Hillary, that's enough. The party is over, or at least our party will be if you persist in this egomaniacal destruction.
# posted by The Punisher @ Friday, May 09, 2008 0 comments
Dear Pundits who predicted Hillary would "Bow Out Gracefully"... You're fucking wrong. She's Burning Down the House.
IF SHE CAN'T HAVE THE PRESIDENCY, NO DEMOCRAT CAN. SHE MIGHT AS WELL SIGN ON WITH JOHN MCCAIN.
The New York Post: “Clinton played the race card yesterday as she dismissed Barack Obama as a candidate who will have a hard time winning support from ‘white Americans.’ It was the most starkly racial comment Clinton has made in the campaign, and drew quick condemnation from some Democrats.
“ ‘I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on,’ she told USA Today in an interview published yesterday. She referred to an Associated Press story on Indiana and North Carolina exit polls ‘that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hardworking Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.’ She added, ‘There's a pattern emerging here.’”
Here’s what some said in response: “Muriel Offerman, a North Carolina superdelegate who has not disclosed her choice, said, ‘That should not have been said. I think it drives a wedge, a racial wedge, and that's not what the Democratic Party's about.’ Asked about Clinton's comments, Massachusetts superdelegate Debra Kozikowsi said, ‘That's distressing. I'm not even sure how to respond to that.’”
The New York Daily News: “Hillary Clinton misplays race card while Barack Obama is treated like rock star.” “[S]ome of her supporters -- including Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Manhattan) -- slammed the comments. ‘I can't believe Sen. Clinton would say anything that dumb,’ Rangel told The News as he headed to the House floor, where earlier he had embraced Obama. The bitter words came as both candidates looked ahead to West Virginia's primary Tuesday and pressed their talking points -- Clinton insisting she was in the race to win, while Obama argued he could have the nomination wrapped up when Oregon and Kentucky vote on May 20.”
Peggy Noonan also believes Clinton played the race card in her USA Today interview. "If John McCain said, ‘I got the white vote, baby!’ his candidacy would be over. And rising in highest indignation against him would be the old Democratic Party. To play the race card as Mrs. Clinton has, to highlight and encourage a sense that we are crudely divided as a nation, to make your argument a brute and cynical ‘the black guy can't win but the white girl can’ is -- well, so vulgar, so cynical, so cold, that once again a Clinton is making us turn off the television in case the children walk by.”
“‘She has unleashed the gates of hell,’ a longtime party leader told me. ‘She's saying, “He's not one of us.”’
John Edwards said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that he disagrees with Clinton’s “white Americans” comment and that she's got to ask herself, "Where are the lines?" He added, “I think it’s fine for Hillary to keep making the case for her. But when that shifts to everything that is wrong with him, then we’re doing damage instead of being helpful.”
And did Edwards tip his hand on who he’s backing? He called Obama the "likely nominee.” And we’ll chalk this one up to his Southern accent, but he said he "voted for 'em on Tuesday.” (Sounded an awful lot like "him.")
Also… “I think Barack Obama’s doing pretty well without my help.” Edwards also said, “He is clearly the likely nominee at this point.”
Edwards said he may choose to publicly declare for one of the candidates, but he’s keeping it to himself “just for now.” He added, though, that he doesn’t think his endorsement matters except to “people like you all” [the media]. He wouldn’t answer if he and his wife, Elizabeth, voted for different people.
Here’s the New York Post’s headline to Charles Hurt’s column: “Desperate Hillbillies threaten to break up party.” “Well, now these racial politics have spilled out into the public and are splintering longtime, devoted Democrats into separate camps. It's become the ‘working-class whites’ versus the ‘eggheads and African-Americans.’
More: “With no one left to cry to, Sen. Clinton has gone nuclear and she's getting kookier by the minute. Yesterday she was toast. Today, she's looking more like scrambled eggs.”
Politico's Smith on Clinton's blunt talk about her white support: "Now, the press has talked about the race in these terms constantly, so I won't feign shock. But it's a bit strange to hear it so bluntly from the candidate's mouth, and probably not a great way to endear herself to African-American voters. And it's also noteworthy that the blunt talk on appealing to whites surfaces the day after the last round of primaries in which there's a substantial number of black voters."
The New York Times reports it's possible Clinton will give herself more money. "Clinton advisers said Mrs. Clinton was committed to spending more of her own cash on the campaign if necessary, although they spoke optimistically about a rise in fund-raising if she prevails in Tuesday’s primary in West Virginia." More: "Clinton had been increasingly relying on Internet donations this spring from new and small-amount contributors; the day after she won the April 22 Pennsylvania primary, the campaign brought in a record $10 million online. But Hassan Nemazee, one of Mrs. Clinton’s national finance chairmen, put the amount she collected online in the 24 hours after the Indiana and North Carolina primaries at only “$1 million-plus.”
Interestingly, the Times makes the point that Obama's big spending in PA for his nine-point loss actually may have dealt a devastating financial blow to Clinton. "Obama spent $9 million on television advertisements in North Carolina and Indiana, including a last minute $170,000 purchase in the expensive Chicago market, which extends into northern Indiana. By contrast, Mrs. Clinton spent about $4.7 million in those states, according to CMAG. Even more, said Evan Tracey, spokesman for CMAG, the fact that Mr. Obama was able to pump $10 million into media purchases in Pennsylvania in April, even though he did not win that state, forced Mrs. Clinton to spend $5 million, cash she could have used in Indiana and North Carolina.”
Yesterday, Terry McAuliffe said "seven figures." That doesn't quite confirm the million dollar Internet haul but...
During a three-state whirlwind tour yesterday of half of the remaining primaries, Clinton has altered her stump speeches on energy slightly to address the specific needs of those states, NBC’s Lauren Appelbaum notes. While Clinton emphasized coal technology in West Virginia (a topic normally included in a list but rarely specified on), she discussed wind power at more length in South Dakota. "When we get 52% of electricity from coal in the United States, coal is not going anywhere," Clinton said to applause in Charleston, WV. The New York Senator did emphasize the necessity for clean coal technology but assured the audience, which was sure to have included a good percentage of coal miners, that coal mining would not be eliminated.
None of the coal talk was anywhere to be seen in an expanded rally in Sioux Falls, SD four hours later. Instead, the focus was on wind energy production. "It's been said that America from the Dakotas down to West Texas is the Saudi Arabia of wind," Clinton said. "And, you know, that's not just Washington political hot air talking; that's actually a fact, that if we harness the wind coming off of these plains and we had an electric grid system with the distribution system to transmit it from right here in South Dakota across our country, we would be moving toward clean renewable energy."
Why go on? The New York Daily News: “Whatever happens, it's a profile in true grit. But why is she still in a race that with each passing hour appears more doomed? Admirers say she's genuinely driven to make America a better place. Critics attribute her doggedness to the consuming ambition, thirst for power and streak of narcissism she shares with her husband.”
“Movie mogul and Hillary Rodham Clinton backer Harvey Weinstein told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi he would stop fund-raising for Democrats if she refused to support new primary elections in Florida and Michigan, it was reported yesterday.”
# posted by The Punisher @ Friday, May 09, 2008 0 comments
Hillary Claims "Hard-Working" White People Support Her More Than Obama. Jesus Hillary, just say it, you think he can't win because he's Black.
Clinton touts support from 'white Americans'
(CNN) — In what appear to be the New York senator's most blunt comments to date regarding a racial division in the Democratic presidential race, Hillary Clinton suggested Wednesday that "White Americans" are increasingly turning away from Barack Obama’s candidacy.
"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," Clinton said in an interview with USA TODAY.
Clinton cited an Associated Press poll "that found how Senator Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."
"There's a pattern emerging here," she said.
Exit polls from Tuesday's primaries in Indiana and North Carolina show Clinton won about 60 percent of the white vote in both states. That percentage is down from the Ohio primary on March 4, in which Clinton won upwards of 65 percent of the white vote. Meanwhile, Clinton garnered 63 percent of the white vote in Pennsylvania on April 22.
Speaking with the paper, Clinton rejected the notion her comments were racially divisive in any way.
"These are the people you have to win if you're a Democrat in sufficient numbers to actually win the election," she said. "Everybody knows that."
Obama spokesman Bill Burton called Clinton's statements "not true and frankly disappointing."
# posted by The Punisher @ Friday, May 09, 2008 0 comments
That question has kicked up a minor ruckus in political circles this week as Arianna Huffington and the McCain campaign have traded he-said, she-said barbs.
On her Huffington Post Web site on Monday, Ms. Huffington, the liberal blogger, said she had heard Mr. McCain say at a Los Angeles dinner party shortly after the 2000 election that he had not voted for the president he has now publicly embraced in his own quest for the White House. The McCain campaign swiftly quashed the account and said Ms. Huffington had a book to promote and would make anything up.
“She’s a flake and a poser and an attention-seeking diva,” Mark Salter, one of Mr. McCain’s closest aides, told The Washington Post.
Now two other guests at the same dinner, given by the actress Candice Bergen, at her home in Beverly Hills, say they heard much the same thing as Ms. Huffington. Both of them, the former “West Wing” actors Bradley Whitford and Richard Schiff, were asked by Ms. Huffington to speak to The New York Times. Mr. Whitford said he would be supporting the Democratic nominee and had donated to Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama; Mr. Schiff is supporting Mr. Obama.
Mr. Whitford, who played Josh Lyman, the deputy White House chief of staff on the NBC series, said in a telephone interview on Thursday that he was sitting across from Mr. McCain and next to Ms. Huffington at the small dinner and that he was startled to hear the senator sharply criticize Mr. Bush. The senator has long blamed the Bush campaign for smear tactics against his family in the 2000 South Carolina primary, but by the end of the campaign Mr. McCain was publicly supporting his rival.
“McCain was just sort of going off on how much he disliked Bush and the horrible things that the Bush campaign had done to his family in South Carolina, and his exasperation with Bush about his ridiculous tax cuts and he really wanted to talk to him about it, but he said the guy doesn’t have the concentration, and you talk for 10 minutes and then the guy wants to talk about baseball,” Mr. Whitford said.
Another guest then asked Mr. McCain, Mr. Whitford recalled, whether he had voted for Mr. Bush. “And he put his finger in front of his mouth and mouthed, ‘No way,’ ” Mr. Whitford said.
Mr. Schiff, who played Toby Ziegler, the White House communications director on “The West Wing,” said he was listening to Mr. McCain from the other of the two tables in the room.
“Someone asked, ‘What do you think of Bush?’ ” Mr. Schiff recalled. “My recollection, and I have to qualify this, because I’m not 100 percent sure he used this word, but my recollection is that McCain said that Bush was dangerous and he didn’t trust him. Then this person said, ‘Why did you support him?’ And McCain said, ‘It was my obligation as a Republican to support the Republican candidate.’ And the person said, ‘Did you vote for him?’ And McCain said, ‘No.’ ”
Ms. Huffington said in her Monday blog posting that Cindy McCain, Mr. McCain’s wife, who was also at the dinner, told her that she had cast a write-in vote for her husband in 2000.
On Thursday, Mr. Salter denied the accounts of the two actors, saying, “He voted for George Bush; I know it for dead certitude.”
As for Mr. Whitford and Mr. Schiff, Mr. Salter said, “I know neither actor, but I assume they were acting.”
On Thursday night, Mr. McCain also denied Ms. Huffington’s assertion. “It’s totally false,” he told Bill O’Reilly of Fox News.
Ms. Huffington, a former Republican, said that she chose to speak out now because she felt Mr. McCain had abandoned his principles in embracing Mr. Bush and that the news media were giving him a free pass.
# posted by The Punisher @ Friday, May 09, 2008 0 comments
Hillary should take "personal responsibility" for her own debts. She owes it, she can pay it.
Obama Camp faces major obstacles in Plan to help Clinton Pay Off Debt.
by Thomas Edsall at Huffpo
Top officials of the Barack Obama campaign are privately exploring ways to help Hillary Clinton discharge her debts and pay back the $11.43 million she has loaned her organization, but they are running into two major stumbling blocks.
The first is obvious: the deep and growing animosity of Obama supporters towards Clinton, whom they see as raising issues of race and 'elitism' that will hurt the Illinois Senator in November.
In an interview with USA Today for example, Clinton declared: "I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," citing an AP article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."
The second is less obvious: Mark Penn.
For many Obama backers, Penn, the former chief strategist for Clinton and head of one of the biggest PR-lobbying conglomerates in the nation's capital, is the quintessential Washington insider, capitalizing on political connections to become a multi-millionaire.
The immediate problem with Penn -- whose conflicts of interest plagued the Clinton campaign and ultimately led to his being publicly, if not privately, repudiated -- is that if Obama helps Clinton pay off her debts, a big chunk of those debts -- an estimated $10 million or more -- is owed to Penn.
Penn is the CEO of Burson-Marsteller, which has "a global network of 94 offices and 1600 employees that brings world-class public relations to companies around the world."
Burson-Marsteller is one of the 246 companies owned by WPP, a leading global advertising and marketing services group. WPP controls a powerful array of public relations, advertising and lobbying companies, including Hill and Knowlton; Dewey Square; Ogilvy and Mather; Public Strategies Inc.; AGB Nielsen Media Research; Quinn Gillespie and Associates; Timmons and Company; Wexler and Walker Public Policy Associates; Young and Rubicam Brands.
Penn, who remains a top adviser to Clinton, was forced to step down as the face of the Clinton strategy team after disclosures that he was meeting privately with the government of Colombia to promote congressional approval of a trade agreement which Clinton - and her most loyal voters -- oppose.
Consideration by the Obama camp of providing financial help to Clinton would be part of a peace-making process in the event that she withdraws from the presidential nominating contest.
Under federal campaign finance law, the Obama campaign cannot directly pay off Clinton's debts, or the $11.43 million she has loaned the campaign, because that would violate campaign contribution limits. But if Obama is the nominee, he and his donor base could provide invaluable help to her in raising money through signed appeals, joint fundraisers and by other methods.
The Obama campaign does not want to be identified as having discussions about Clinton's finances. Obama aides used the term "chit-chat" to dismiss any such discussions.
Many of Obama's grassroots and netroots backers appear to be outraged at the thought that the Obama campaign might step in to lend a hand to get Clinton out of a financial hole -- and out of the race -- as was reported Wednesday.
The Huff Post web site was flooded with more than 1,200 complaints on this score:
"No! No! No!" wrote a commenter using the web name 'Realbluesky'. "The Clintons have proven what kind of scum they are." 'Dbrockx' wrote: "Why is she being rewarded for disrupting the Democratic party and trying to sabotage Obama?" 'Amber09' pulled no punches: "The Clintons would never help Obama if this was reversed! They would be laughing they asses off that a black man could dare to think he could beat the Clinton machine! The Clintons created the mud pond, let them now stay in the mud they created!"
Both Obama and Clinton have broken all Democratic fundraising records. Through the first quarter of this year, Obama raised $234.7 million, and Clinton $189.1 million. As of March 31, the date of the most recent FEC filing, Obama had $51.1 million in the bank and just $662,784 in debt, for a net cash position of $50.4 million; while Clinton had $31.7 million in the bank, debts of $15.2 million, and had loaned the campaign $6.4 million. (The FEC lists debts and loans separately.) More recently, Clinton disclosed that she had made her campaign additional loans, bringing the total amount she has loaned to her effort to $11.4 million. At the same time, her campaign was running close to broke for much of last month. Details of fundraising and spending for the month of April do not have to be filed until May 15.
Money is a central issue in the delicate negotiations that many expect to lead to a Clinton withdrawal. A winning candidate often offers to do whatever is legal to help a loser pay down debts. In this case, there is exceptional animosity between the two camps. Furthermore, Penn's interest in any negotiations are sure to be pressed very aggressively by the Clinton campaign's new Chief Operating Officer, Howard Paster. Paster was brought in immediately upon Penn's retreat, and, as it happens, Paster is Penn's boss. Paster is the executive vice president for public relations and public affairs at Burson-Marsteller's parent company, WPP.
In his new capacity as COO of the Clinton campaign, Paster is almost certain to be central in deciding how much of any money Obama might help raise for Clinton is used to pay off the debt to Penn. This set of relationships will undoubtedly impact the enthusiasm of Obama donors for a Clinton-Obama pact.
# posted by The Punisher @ Friday, May 09, 2008 0 comments
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Reality Has A Well Known Obama Bias.
by Cenk Uygur at Huffpo
You have to give Hillary Clinton's team credit for one thing: they have masterfully played the perception game. It might have been all smoke and mirrors, but they have done their job of keeping people confused and distracted them from what really matters.
The reality is that: 1. She has no chance of beating Barack Obama. 2. She has had no chance of beating Barack Obama for a long time now. 3. Most importantly, she has deluded people into thinking her chances of winning the nomination were improving as they were getting dramatically worse.
Meanwhile the perception has been that she won Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania and has huge momentum in this race. Her argument to the superdelegates and to the media has been that she is better suited to win the general election because Senator Obama has been stumbling and is vulnerable in the general election -- as all of her wins since March 4th show.
But as you can see from the numbers above that spin is completely unsupported by the numbers. The only reason we are continuing to have a conversation about Senator Clinton's chances is because perception has trumped reality.
She has lost over 50 delegates in the time that she has been claiming to have all this momentum. That's Joe Lieberman-like math. Next thing you know she's going to tell us she has Joementum. After all she's been telling us that her second place status is actually better than first place for a long time now. And people are still humoring that absurd idea.
I hate to put it so harshly (though I don't hate it that much), but it's time to stop humoring Hillary Clinton. To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, in this case, reality has well-known Obama bias. This race is way past over.
# posted by The Punisher @ Wednesday, May 07, 2008 0 comments
More Proof that Hillary only cares about herself.
After last nights blowout loss in North Carolina and 1.8% win in Indiana, Hillary Clinton now needs to win 90% of the remaining delegates in order to secure the democratic nomination.
However, she vowed this morning to "fight on."
Why? Does she really think she can get 90% of the remaining votes?
The truth is that Hillary doesn't care about the Democratic Party. She only cares about herself and her desire to continue to stay in the race is all about getting the Obama campaign to pay off her debt. She's loaned herself about 10 million dollars and plans to stay in the race in order to extort that money from the Obama campaign and the DNC.
There's talk that if they agree to pay off her debt, she'll withdraw.
Jesus. Imagine that, a Democrat taking money away from the general election campaign of a fellow Democrat in order to pay off PERSONAL debt.
She should be kicked out of the party.
I hope Obama just ignores her. Let her win the last few campaigns and go further and further into debt. Fuck her.
I wish the Damn Superdelegates would declare for Obama and end this farce.
# posted by The Punisher @ Wednesday, May 07, 2008 0 comments
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Clinton Camp Decides to use Anti-Intellectualism to Win an Election. They are officially Republicans.
Apparently, the singular lesson that Senator Hillary Clinton has learned from her much touted "35 years of experience" is that having a lot of experience doesn't count for jack. That's the only possible takeaway from her bitter and clingy support for a "gas tax holiday" - an idea so lacking in merit that it has required her campaign to wage a full-scale jihad against anybody who knows anything about anything other than maybe the topic of "Shots of Crown Royal make my belly say YUMMM!"
Clinton's battle against People Who Had The Traitorous Gall To Learn Things And Later Apply That Knowledge To The Real World has expanded to campaign surrogates. On this morning's Morning Joe, New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez helped to advance the cause of creepy anti-intellectualism:
BRZEZINSKI: Just tell me one economist that supports this.
MENENDEZ: You know, thank God that we don't have economists making necessarily public policy, because they don't really feel the pains of average Americans.
Really? I seem to recall that a top-flight economist named Joe Stiglitz helped Bill Clinton's administration formulate public policy, and from what I'm told, he did just fine. Stiglitz, of course, opposes the gas tax holiday, making him a model of the sort of common sense and consistency one needs to not further exacerbate the "pains of average Americans" with bad economic policies.
And, truly, in the clearest sign yet that the "gas tax holiday" is a horrible mistake, it has received the endorsement of Bill Kristol.
KRISTOL: The gas tax is I think an interesting issue. You know, the entire liberal establishment is against Senator Clinton and Senator McCain and their proposal to have a summer holiday on the gas tax. Clinton has taken on the issue. I sort of admire her for this. She has not backed up at all. She has challenged elite liberal economists. She has an ad up now in North Carolina and Indiana asking why Obama doesn't want to give consumers a little bit of a break. I actually think that she has a pretty good argument on this, that the entire establishment disagrees. If she could win taking on the entire conventional liberal establishment on an issue like this, with a populist middle-class appeal, I think that would be interesting and would say something about where the Democratic primary electorate is as opposed to where the elite opinion pages of the newspapers are.
Naturally, Kristol's contention that the "liberal establishment" is against the "gas tax holiday" fails to account for the fact that economists on both sides of the aisle are against it. As in, all of them. And you hardly need to be "elite" to be against it - students that fail to grasp the elementary nature of supply and demand rarely matriculate from ECON 101 to the exciting sequel, ECON 102.
When asked this morning by ABC News' George Stephanopoulos if she could name a single economist who backs her call for a gas tax holiday this summer, HRC said "I'm not going to put my lot in with economists."
I know several of the economists who have been advising Senator Clinton, so I phoned them right after I heard this. I reached two of them. One hadn't heard her remark and said he couldn't believe she'd say it. The other had heard it and shrugged it off as "politics as usual."
That's the problem: Politics as usual.
The gas tax holiday is small potatoes relative to everything else. But it's so economically stupid (it would increase demand for gas and cause prices to rise, eliminating any benefit to consumers while costing the Treasury more than $9 billion, and generate more pollution) and silly (even if she won, HRC won't be president this summer) is worrisome. That HRC now says she doesn't care that what economists think is even more troubling.
Meanwhile, Politico's Ben Smith notes that Clinton's campaign is arguing that the gas tax distinction is a character issue:
Clinton has been sharpening her argument that policy distinctions between the candidates -- on health care, on banning foreclosures and on the gas tax -- are really a character issue, making her in touch and Obama out of touch.
Clinton aide Howard Wolfson put it as clearly as the campaign has on a conference call just now. Obama, he said, is "somebody who just doesn't seem to understand that middle-class families are hurting, working-class families are hurting, that they need relief. He would rather side with the oil companies over the interest of middle-class families."
Sen. Hillary Clinton is sticking to her policy proposal of a gas tax holiday, and the breadth of her now-famous statement that members of Congress are either "with us or against us" has been extended to economists. Today she joined George Stephanopoulos for a "This Week" town hall.
When asked to name a credible economist who backed her idea to use a windfall profit tax against oil companies to fund the suspension of a tax on gasoline, Clinton responded:
"I'm not going to put my lot in with economists"... Clinton added that the tax holiday would work "if we actually did it right."
She continued the line of attack, criticizing more generally "this mindset where elite opinion is always on the side of doing things that really disadvantage the vast majority of Americans."
# posted by The Punisher @ Tuesday, May 06, 2008 0 comments
Get a Brain, Morans!
If you are going to lobby for English as an "official" language, make sure you spell "official" right!
Larisa Alexandrovna, Muriel Kane and Lindsay Beyerstein
MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA – In two states where US attorneys are already under fire for serious allegations of political prosecutions, seven people associated with three federal cases have experienced 10 suspicious incidents including break-ins and arson.
These crimes raise serious questions about possible use of deliberate intimidation tactics not only because of who the victims are and the already wide criticism of the prosecutions to begin with, but also because of the suspicious nature of each incident individually as well as the pattern collectively. Typically burglars do not break-into an office or private residence only to rummage through documents, for example, as is the case with most of the burglaries in these two federal cases.
In Alabama, for instance, the home of former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman was burglarized twice during the period of his first indictment. Nothing of value was taken, however, and according to the Siegelman family, the only items of interest to the burglars were the files in Siegelman's home office.
Siegelman's attorney experienced the same type of break-in at her office.
In neighboring Mississippi, a case brought against a trial lawyer and three judges raises even more disturbing questions. Of the four individuals in the same case, three of the US Attorney’s targets were the victims of crimes during their indictment or trial. This case, like that of Governor Siegelman, has been widely criticized as a politically motivated prosecution by a Bush US Attorney.
The main target of the indictment, attorney Paul Minor, had his office broken into, while Mississippi Supreme Court Justice, Oliver E. Diaz Jr., had his home burglarized. According to police reports and statements from Diaz and from individuals close to Minor, nothing of value was taken and the burglars only rummaged through documents and in Minor’s case, also took a single computer from an office full of expensive office equipment.
The incidents are not limited to burglaries. In Mississippi, former Judge John Whitfield was the victim of arson at his office. In Alabama, the whistleblower in the Don Siegelman case, Dana Jill Simpson, had her home burned down, and shortly thereafter her car was allegedly forced off the road.
While there is no direct evidence linking these crimes to the US Attorneys’ office targeting these individuals, or to the Bush administration, there is a distinct pattern that makes it highly unlikely that these incidents are isolated and unrelated.
All of these crimes remain unsolved.
A FIRE IN ALABAMA
On Feb. 21, 2007, a private residence located at 1429 West Main Street in Rainsville, Alabama caught fire. The house belonged to whistleblower Dana Jill Simpson, a long-time Alabama Republican lawyer and political opposition researcher who was then preparing to come forward in connection with the conviction of former Alabama Democratic governor Don Siegelman and his co-defendant, Republican fundraiser and businessman, Richard Scrushy.
According to the police report obtained by RAW STORY, the east side of the building was completely damaged and the entire structure sustained damages of roughly 30 percent. (See attached report.) The cause of this fire is unknown and there has been no formal investigation to date. Simpson was not home at the time of the incident.
According to Simpson's attorney in Montgomery, Alabama, Priscilla Duncan, the timing of the fire at Simpson's home should raise questions.
Jill "was talking to Siegelman's attorneys about what she was witness to, discussing going public," said Duncan in a conversation late last week. "On February 15 she also sent a letter to Art Leach [Scrushy's attorney]."
Six days after Simpson sent the letter to Leach, her house caught fire.
According to Simpson's subsequent May 7, 2007 affidavit and her sworn testimony before the US House Judiciary Committee Sept. 14, Siegelman's prosecution was allegedly orchestrated by senior officials in the Bush administration, primarily former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove.
Simpson testified that two weeks after the November 2002 election in which Siegelman was defeated by Republican Bob Riley, Republican operative Bill Canary -- who was serving as Riley's campaign advisor -- held a conference call with Riley's staffers about "how to handle Siegelman." As reported in Part I of RAW STORY's investigative series, Simpson alleges that during this call, Canary stated that "his girls" would "take care of Siegelman."
Simpson says she understood "his girls" to be a reference to Canary's wife, Leura Canary, the US Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, and the couple's long-time friend, Alice Martin, the US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. Both women had been appointed by George W. Bush in 2001 and had been investigating Siegelman since taking office. Siegelman would later be indicted in Leura Canary's district.
Karl Rove has publicly denied any involvement in the investigation and prosecution of Siegelman but refuses to testify to this under oath. Neither Bill nor Leura Canary has offered a comment for any of our articles in the investigative series.
THE CAR ACCIDENT
Less than two weeks after her house caught fire, Simpson's car was allegedly forced off the road. She was rushed to Marshall Medical Center South and was treated for bruising on her arms and chest. According to the police report of the accident, Simpson was heading northbound on U.S 431 when a "non contact" vehicle made an improper lane change into her lane. Simpson swerved to avoid hitting the vehicle, almost going into the ditch, and struck a car parked in a driveway. (In the police sketch of the accident below, Simpson's car is marked #1. The parked car is marked #2.)
According to the police report, the driver of the non-contact vehicle was Mark Roden of Rainbow City, Alabama.
Ms. Simpson told RAW STORY several weeks ago that a state trooper interviewed Mr. Roden at the scene of the accident, and "when the trooper asked him for his employment information, Mr. Roden said that he was a officer with the Attalla police department. He was then allowed to leave without a citation."
The city clerk for the city of Attalla, Alabama confirmed to us that Mark Roden was indeed a former police officer with the Attalla Police Department, but she could not provide additional information. Calls left for the Attalla police chief were not returned.
Repeated attempts to reach Mark Roden at the residence listed on the accident report have been unsuccessful.
According to Priscilla Duncan, on the day of the car accident Simpson had met with Richard Scrushy, the co-defendant in the Siegelman case, to discuss coming forward as a whistleblower.
"It is definitely coincidental," Duncan said.
FORMER GOVERNOR'S PRIVATE RESIDENCE BURGLARIZED -- TWICE
Simpson was not the only one involved in the Siegelman case to fall victim to crimes. According to Governor Siegelman's daughter, Dana Siegelman, their family returned home from a summer trip in 2004 to find the house unlocked and the doors open. Nothing had been taken, although the home contained computers, stereos, and jewelry. Ms. Siegelman explained that the only things disturbed were in Siegelman's office, including his papers, which seemed to have been rifled and were in disarray.
Ms. Siegelman says that her family experienced this once more in the summer of 2004 and that the timing of the two burglaries appeared strange, because it was during this period that charges were brought against her father by the office of US Attorney Leura Canary.
According to Siegelman's daughter, the family did not report these incidents to the police at the time because they already felt targeted by the US Attorney's office and the FBI, as well as being uncertain as to what had actually occurred.
"It was only later, when we realized how deceitful our government really could be," Dana said, "that we suspected our house might have been bugged or Dad's files had been sifted through -- when the same thing happened to his lawyer, Susan James."
SIEGELMAN'S ATTORNEY'S OFFICE BROKEN INTO
Don Siegelman was sentenced to over seven years in a state penitentiary in June 2007. He was not allowed out on bail during his appeal, but was immediately shackled, manacled and moved out of state without his lawyers being informed. The severity of the sentence prompted 44 former state attorneys general of both parties to write a letter to Congress, asking them to investigate Siegelman's prosecution, which they describe as having "sufficient irregularities as to call into question the basic fairness that is the linchpin of our system of justice."
Montgomery attorney Susan James immediately prepared to file an appeal on Siegelman's behalf with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. James had handled much of the sentencing part of Siegelman's case and was now part of the appeal team.
On July 1, 2007, James' office was broken into. As with Siegelman's home, no computers or office equipment were taken or anything of any value. James told the Associated Press, "They went through our client files."
James expanded on the break-in in a recent interview with RAW STORY. She said the burglars went through several file cabinets with documents filed under the letter "S," which might have included Siegelman's files if she had not moved them earlier after a previous break-in.
"This burglary is unusual," said James. "File cabinets were left open. Drapes were closed and the blinds were pulled down."
James said that the only reason that someone would need to close the drapes and pull down the blinds was if they wanted to turn the lights on to look for something. She asserted that the office next door to hers was not burglarized, even though it also had computers and equipment.
When asked what she made of the cases described in this article, James said she'd not been aware of the number of break-ins and the similarities between them.
"The entire scenario appears to be a pattern unrelated to just random burglaries and random crimes," James said. "Our break-in was treated as a routine burglary but when you add the facts of what appear to be other similar burglaries together, this is something that definitely bears further investigation."
Dana Siegelman says that her family now has "little doubt as to why or who was behind it," but did not elaborate.
ALABAMA BUSINESSMAN'S OFFICE APPEARS BURGLARIZED - WHILE HE IS UNDER INVESTIGATION BY US ATTORNEY
Sometime between Sunday, March 2 and early the next morning, the office of Montgomery insurance executive and life-long Republican, John Goff was vandalized by persons unknown.
"We came in to work one day and the window was knocked out," Goff told Raw Story in a phone interview. Goff explained that the $400 window described in the police report was the sliding glass front door of his office. According to the police report obtained by Raw Story (See attached report.), a large pane of glass was smashed.
At the time the of the incident at his office, Goff was the subject of what he alleges is a politically motivated prosecution orchestrated by the US Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Alabama, Leura Canary, in retaliation for a politically embarrassing lawsuit he filed against the State's well-connected Republican governor, Bob Riley, last year.
Leura Canary’s husband, Bill Canary, served as a campaign advisor to Riley when he ran against Siegelman in the 2002 election. In essence, the US Attorney appears to bringing charges against the perceived enemies of her husband’s client.
A month after the incident at Goff’s office, a grand jury indicted Goff on charges of embezzlement, mail fraud, and conspiracy. The charges stem from a dispute between Goff and two reinsurance companies over insurance premiums Goff collected from clients. The original dispute was settled by arbitration and litigation several years ago. The arbitration panel agreed that Goff had failed to pay what he owed.
Goff reached a settlement with the Alabama Department of Insurance for complaints arising from the same dispute in the spring of 2005.
It is not clear why federal prosecutors decided to revisit the matter in 2007 and launch a criminal investigation against Goff, indicting him in 2008.
Goff and his lawyers maintain that federal prosecutors with close ties to Riley are rehashing settled business in order to punish Goff for blowing the whistle on an alleged attempt at extortion by lobbyists for Riley.
They alleged that US Attorney Leura Canary has a conflict of interest because her husband, Bill Canary, is on the list of witnesses to be deposed in Goff’s lawsuit against Riley and others in his administration.
The US Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Alabama did not return repeated calls and emails seeking comment.
MISSISSIPPI SUPREME COURT JUSTICE'S HOME BROKEN INTO
The break-ins and arson are not, however, restricted to Alabama. In Mississippi, there was another alleged political prosecution, a bribery case brought by the Bush-appointed US Attorney for the Southern District, Dunnica Lampton, against attorney Paul Minor and three judges, including Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver E. Diaz Jr., Minor and two of the judges have also fallen victim to break-ins and arson.
On May 14, 2004, while Judge Diaz and his family were out of town, a neighbor noticed an intruder and called the police. According to the police report, the front door of the Diaz home appeared to have been kicked in and a window broken. (See attached police report.)
In a striking similarity to the Alabama cases, the Diaz burglars appeared not to have been interested in valuables of any sort.
"Our door was kicked in and our documents were rummaged," Diaz said in an extensive interview for Part V of our investigative series. "Televisions, computers and other valuables were not taken, despite the fact that we were out of town for several days and the home was left open by the burglars. We could not figure out a motive for the burglary and reported it to the Biloxi Police Department. The crime was never solved."
A FIRE IN MISSISSIPPI
In the early morning of Sept. 15, 2003, the Biloxi, Mississippi office of another of the defendants in the Paul Minor case, former Mississippi judge John Whitfield, was set on fire.
At approximately 3:30 am, Whitfield's secretary, Michele Herman, was awakened by a call from the fire alarm company informing her that the office was ablaze. Herman was the first of Whitfield's associates to arrive at the scene. Her boss and other colleagues joined her soon after.
Herman described what happened after she arrived.
"I rushed to the office to watch the fire department put the fire out. It was contained to my office because we close doors between offices when we leave," Herman wrote in an email. "Just about everything I had was destroyed -- over 20 years worth of my research and books and photos and paintings and such."
From the outset, the Biloxi fire and police departments treated the fire as a case of arson. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms were also involved, as were investigators from the US Attorney's office. However, the only suspect in the arson case was Whitfield himself.
"It was us, me and John [Whitfield] and a former cop that worked with us, and Mike [Crosby, Whitfield's attorney] that kept telling the fire officials that it looked like something was splashed all over the wall of the outside of the house that we used as an office," Herman stated. "They ignored us until John hired an independent fire inspector/arson expert."
According to Herman's recollection, local authorities announced that same day that they intended to confiscate files and documents that had survived the blaze. Whitfield's lawyer, Mike Crosby strongly objected to this, since he was concerned that privileged information -- including Whitfield's defense file and the case files of his clients -- would fall into the hands of the FBI and the ATF and be used against Whitfield in his upcoming trial.
In a letter obtained by RAW STORY, dated Sept. 19, 2003, Crosby wrote to the judge overseeing the seizure of files and hard drives to register his strenuous objections. The files and disks contained information that was critical to the operation of Whitfield's law practice as well as his defense file for the Diaz/Minor case. Crosby explained that he'd offered to make copies of all the materials for the investigators, if only he could have the originals back. The authorities refused. (See attached letter.)
Repeated attempts to reach Crosby for comment have been unsuccessful.
"No one has ever been charged with the crime, as far as we know," Herman added. "They dropped it after they investigated John -- he was their suspect, you know. Only problem was, he didn't own the building, had nothing to gain -- no motive for destroying the building."
YET ANOTHER MISSISSIPPI BREAK-IN
Also charged by US Attorney Dunnica Lampton was Paul Minor, a successful trial lawyer and the largest individual Democratic campaign donor in Mississippi. Minor was convicted of bribery and mail fraud and is now serving time in a federal penitentiary in Florida.
In the summer of 2003, Minor's Biloxi, Mississippi law office was allegedly broken into. According to his secretary, Janet Miller, a brick was used to shatter her office window and the break-in targeted only her office.
"I panicked because they took my whole computer -- it had all of my bookkeeping on it and I had an old back up that I had not updated since March," Miller said.
"It had a lot of Paul [Minor]'s personal stuff on it, his business, and of course it had all of the accounting for the law firm on it from 2000 forward."
Miller said that files were also rummaged through, but she could not say for sure if anything was taken because it was so chaotic. No other office in Minor's suite of offices were disturbed.
This crime, like the others, remains unsolved.
HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF?
John C. Villines, ICPS, CPP, has studied crime causation and crime prevention for 30 years. As a security consultant, he has provided services to private industry, the United States Government, law enforcement agencies, community organizations and others. He is the Director of John C. Villines LLC, often appears as an expert witness criminal cases, and was up until recently the Chairman of the Georgia Board of Private Detective and Security Agencies.
Villines was asked in the most general terms what he makes of this series of crimes. He was not provided with the names of the individuals or any information that would identify the Alabama and Mississippi cases.
"I would avoid drawing conclusions based upon the amount of information you have provided," Villines wrote in an email response. "But it would be reasonable to expect that the burglar or burglars is seeking information."
RAW STORY asked Villines if these crimes could be identity theft-type crimes or something similar.
"Certainly, identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States," Villines responded. "However, a series of burglaries and arsons such as you have described would not be the primary crimes I would expect to see associated with attempts to steal personal identifiers."
"It would seem more reasonable to expect that the burglar(s) have targeted information related to specific individuals, and that the value of the information is related to a personal motivation (either on the part of the burglar(s) or someone who has contracted their services, as in the famed Watergate burglary). Possible motives (speculation): acquire damaging information about a third party, or recover personal information to keep it from being discovered by others."
The pattern of break-ins and other crimes in Alabama and Mississippi and the serious questions surrounding possible intimidation tactics are not without precedent. From the 1960's to the 1980's, similar tactics were used by the Nixon and Reagan administrations to spy upon and demoralize their political opponents.
In 1971, a group of anonymous activists broke into FBI headquarters in Media, Pennsylvania and made off with more than a thousand documents, which were then mailed to major newspapers and politicians. The documents revealed the existence of a secret counterintelligence program -- known as COINTELPRO for short -- dedicated to investigating, undermining, and discrediting anti-war and civil rights groups. As part of this program, violent attacks against activists by right-wing groups were sometimes allowed to go forward or even incited by FBI informants within those groups.
The death of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in 1972 and strict new guidelines passed by Congress in 1976 were believed to have put an end to such abuses. Two high FBI officials were even convicted in 1980 of having ordered agents to break into the homes of friends and relatives of members of the Weather Underground, including the sister of Bernadine Dohrn.
These safeguards, however, broke down during the administration of President Ronald Reagan, who pardoned the two officials and had their convictions expunged. The FBI was once again a political tool, which not only investigated liberal members of Congress, such as Rep. John Conyers and Sen. Christopher Dodd, but also paid right-wing groups, including the followers of Reverend Moon, to spy upon and disrupt individuals and organizations opposed to the Reagan administration's support for right-wing dictators in Latin America.
Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Ross Gelbspan wrote in Break-ins, Death Threats and the FBI (1991) about "the mystery of the little-publicized epidemic of low-grade, domestic terrorism. It includes break-ins, death threats, and politically motivated arson attacks which have plagued hundreds of activists and organizations across the country for the past seven years. While the FBI has repeatedly denied any role in these activities, the Bureau has, at the same time, refused scores of requests to investigate what is clearly an interstate conspiracy to violate the civil liberties of the victims.
"From 1984, when the first reports of mysterious political break-ins and death threats began to surface, the list of such episodes has continued to escalate. ... Of nearly 200 political break-ins and thefts of files reported by Central America and Sanctuary activists, not one has been solved."
Whether or not the recent cases in Alabama and Mississippi actually represent the reemergence of COINTELPRO tactics from the past remains unclear. There is no solid evidence tying any of the cases to one another. But there does appear to be a common pattern, both in who is being targeted and also in how the burglars have conducted their operations.
Larisa Alexandrovna is the Managing Editor of Investigative News for Raw Story and regularly reports on intelligence and national security matters. She has been covering the US Attorney Scandal for over six months. Her essay on the Siegelman case appears in a newly published anthology, Loser Taker All: Election Fraud and The Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008, edited by New York University professor Mark Crispin Miller, which features a collection of essays from prominent journalists, activists, and scholars. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lindsay Beyerstein is an investigative reporter for Raw Story, regularly covering national issues relating to civil liberties, corruption, and women’s rights. She writes regularly for other publications, such as In These Times, and her photography has been published in The Austin Chronicle, Aftenposten (Norway's second largest newspaper), and Earth Island Journal. Lindsay can be reached at email@example.com
Muriel Kane is the Research Director for Raw Story Investigates.
Hillary Clinton's New Campaign Slogan: "If you can't beat 'em... Cheat 'em."
CLINTON CAMPAIGN CONSIDERS NUCLEAR OPTION
UPDATE | May 5, 11am ET : Hillary Clinton's campaign today acknowledged plans to try to win seating of the disputed Michigan and Florida delegations to the Democratic Nation Convention at a meeting of the party's Rules and Bylaws Committee on May 31.
In a statement issued in response to a story on The Huffington Post ("Clinton Camp Considering Nuclear Option," see below), the campaign declared:
"There is no secret plan.... The Clinton campaign has been vocal in stating that the votes of 2.5 million people must be respected. Hardly a day goes by when a Clinton official doesn't publicly declare that the votes of Michigan and Florida count and that the delegations from those states should be seated."
The campaign's public assertions stand in contrast to its response to inquiries prior to publication of the story. At that point, Clinton aides insisted on keeping all comments either off the record or on deep background, or did not respond to questions at all. The campaign statement appeared to be designed to try to reduce the significance of the story.
In a more typical reaction to the story, political analyst Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia said: "Wow. The nuclear option will yield nuclear winter for the Democratic Party."
Hillary Clinton's campaign has a secret weapon to build its delegate count, but her top strategists say privately that any attempt to deploy it would require a sharp (and by no means inevitable) shift in the political climate within Democratic circles by the end of this month.
With at least 50 percent of the Democratic Party's 30-member Rules and Bylaws Committee committed to Clinton, her backers could -- when the committee meets at the end of this month -- try to ram through a decision to seat the disputed 210-member Florida and 156-member Michigan delegations. Such a decision would give Clinton an estimated 55 or more delegates than Obama, according to Clinton campaign operatives. The Obama campaign has declined to give an estimate.
Using the Rules and Bylaws Committee to force the seating of two pro-Hillary delegations would provoke a massive outcry from Obama forces. Such a strategy would, additionally, face at least two other major hurdles, and could only be attempted, according to sources in the Clinton camp, under specific circumstances:
First, this coming Tuesday, Clinton would have to win Indiana and lose North Carolina by a very small margin - or better yet, win the Tar Heel state. She would also have to demonstrate continued strength in the contests before May 31.
Second, and equally important, her argument that she is a better general election candidate than Obama -- that he has major weaknesses which have only been recently revealed -- would have to rapidly gain traction, not only within the media, where she has experienced some success, but within the broad activist ranks of the Democratic Party.
Under that optimistic scenario, some Clinton operatives believe she could overcome several massive stumbling blocks:
-- Clinton loyalists on the Rules Committee would have to be persuaded to put their political futures on the line by defying major party constituencies, especially black leaders backing Barack Obama. Committee members are unlikely to take such a step unless they are convinced that Clinton has a strong chance of winning the nomination.
Former DNC and South Carolina Democratic Party chair Donald Fowler -- a Hillary loyalist -- would, for example, face an outpouring of anger from South Carolina Democrats if he were to go along with such a strategy.
-- A controversial decision to seat the two delegations, as currently constituted, would be appealed by the Obama campaign to the Democratic National Convention's Credentials Committee.
The full make-up of the Credentials Committee will not be determined until all the primaries are completed, but the pattern of Clinton and Obama victories so far clearly suggests that Obama delegates on that committee will outnumber Clinton delegates. Obama will not, however, have a majority, according to most estimates, and the balance of power will be held by delegates appointed by DNC chair Howard Dean.
For the scenario to work, then, Dean would have to be convinced of Clinton's superior viability in the general election, and that she has a strong chance of defeating McCain next November.
One of the arguments the Clinton campaign is privately making to autonomous "super" or "automatic" delegates, as well as to delegates technically "pledged" to Obama as a result of primary and caucus results, is that the campaign shifted dramatically in roughly mid-February. At that point, Clinton supporters contend, the economy replaced Iraq as the dominant issue among primary voters, and that transition led to Clinton's successes in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania.
Clinton people also make the case that the past six weeks have seen examples of Obama's political vulnerabilities: his wife's "proud to be an American" remarks, the emergence of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy, wider coverage of Obama's ties to 1960s radicals Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, "bittergate," the flag pin imbroglio, and "hand on the heart" accusations -- all impugning Obama's patriotism.
* * *
The controversy over Michigan and Florida grows out of the decision of both states to flout national party rules prohibiting all but a few states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina -- from holding primaries or caucuses before February 5, 2008. Michigan held its primary on January 15 and Florida on January 29.
On December 1, 2007, well before the contests were held, the Rules and Bylaws Committee voted to refuse to seat either state's delegation at the August 2008 convention in Denver.
When the contests were actually held, none of the candidates actively campaigned in either state. In Michigan, Obama had his name taken off the ballot. Clinton "won" both contests.
The Obama campaign contends that the primaries in the two states were not legitimate, especially in Michigan where voters could not cast a ballot for Obama. Clinton "won" the Michigan contest with 55 percent, while 40 percent voted "uncommitted" and the remainder went to minor candidates.
Obama manager David Plouffe has argued that the only way to seat the Michigan delegation would be to divide the delegates evenly between Clinton and Obama: "A 50-50 split would be fair."
Many Democrats, including DNC chair Howard Dean, believe it is critically important to reach some kind of compromise to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations in order not to alienate voters in the two battleground states, each of which could be pivotal in the November general election.
In the case of Florida, there are a number of proposals under consideration. One would be to seat the delegation as is, but give each delegate only one half a vote. Another would be to cut the number of Florida delegates in half.
Spokesmen for the Obama campaign declined to discuss their strategies for dealing with the May 31 Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting, or to speculate on what they think the Clinton forces with try to do.
# posted by The Punisher @ Monday, May 05, 2008 0 comments