After a McCain surrogate took the amazingly reasonable and intelligent position, attributing it to his boss, of opposing telco amnesty "unless there were revealing Congressional hearings and heartfelt repentance from those telephone and internet companies," the campaign has backtracked substantially. Because, after all, how can he continue Bush's third term without a big ol' smooch to the telcos?
On Friday, after the story was picked up by some big liberal blog [that would be us], that change of course appears inoperative.
McCain's online outreach manager Patrick Hynes wrote THREAT LEVEL to say the story "incorrectly represented" McCain's position on freeing telecoms from the civil suits pending against them, saying the campaign regretted any confusion.
John McCain through his votes and statements has shown a commitment to winning the battle against Islamic fundamentalists whose quest is to destroy the United States. John McCain believes that as part of this battle, companies who assist the government in good faith should not be punished, but he also believes that Congress must put forth clear guidelines for requesting the participation of private companies, provide proper Congressional oversight of any such participation and protect all Americans privacy.
After careful and deliberate consideration, fact-finding, and exploration of options, John McCain has continued to support renewal of the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act. The granting of retroactive immunity supports the continuing efforts of participating companies yet should be done with explicit statements that this is not a blessing for future activities.
While THREAT LEVEL doesn't like to nit-pick, it is important to note that the 1978 FISA law is not expiring. Passed in the wake of massive invasive government surveillance abuses, that law explicitly requires particularized court orders for any foreign intelligence wiretaps inside the United States that could snag an American's communications.
So after that refreshing departure from the Republican script, McCain is right back on track, deception about the FISA law included. How predictable was that?
There's one thing, though, that the Bush/Cheney/McCain crowd has yet to explain. How exactly does rewarding AT&T for breaking the law help us "win the battle against Islamic fundamentalists"? Can we win it retroactively? Because, if we didn't win that battle back when the telcos were spying on us illegally, how does granting them retroactive amnesty exactly help now?
Never mind that the script doesn't make any sense. McCain is back on it, riding the Straight Bush-Talk Express to more of the same.
As TPM Election Central first reported a week ago, Obama is on a purple Western state campaign swing this week, targeting New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado.TPM Reader BC makes an interesting point:I think there's a bit more than meets the eye to Obama's[...]
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That’s about the average for government and private-run insurance plans. And you thought you were priceless.©2008 Garling Gauge. All Rights Reserved..
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Today, President Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will hold a joint fundraiser in Phoenix. But McCain has been doing everything possible to avoid a public appearance with the President, as the event will be private and “out of the public eye.” Politico’s Jonathan Martin adds that in “its daily e-mail update to reporters this morning, McCain’s campaign made no mention that the leader of the free world would be appearing with the candidate tonight.”
Republicans are having a hard time finding candidates to run for the seat being abandoned by Rep. Vito "Families Guy" Fossella (R-NY). That's what former congressman and Staten Island GOP heavyweight Guy Molinari tells TPM Election Central.[...]
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Bringing a stack of books to Drinking Liberally tonight, 6-? at Tangier at 18th and Lombard, in case anyone wants them. I'm starting to get multiple copies of stuff sometimes. You know you want to be the proud owner of Kathleen Parker's "Save the Males."
Hmm..I’m watching Obama on MSNBC right now talking to families in Las Vegas and he’s wearing this oatmeal colored suit, he looks good of course but I’ve never seem him wearing anything other than black or blue before did Michelle finally buy him a new suit? lol.When I find a pix of him in it I’ll post [...]
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A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Larry Beinhart
"In 2001 painstaking postmortems of the Florida count, one by The New York Times and another by a consortium of newspapers, concluded that Mr. Bush would have come out slightly ahead, even if all the votes counted throughout the state had been retallied."
Alessandra Stanley, New York Times, May 23, 2008 in a review of the HBO television movie, Recount
That's not true. The New York Times did not do its own recount. It did participate in a consortium. Here's what they actually said:
Bookmark/Search this post with: buzzflash | delicious | digg | technorati Technorati Tags: Guest Contribution Larry Beinhart Recount HBO George W. Bush Florida 2000 hanging chads
It is my expectation that at the end of this process, Barack Obama will have had more voters go to primaries and caucuses expressing support for him than Hillary Clinton. In short, I believe Barack Obama will win the popular vote and thus his likely nomination will reflect the will of the people.
I imagine the above paragraph will be viewed as a strange opening graf to defend Hillary Clinton's right, indeed, duty, to fight to see that all the votes are counted. But there it is. I believe the Democratic nominee should be the choice of the People (as defined by the Democratic Party, the electorate eligible to vote for our Democratic nominee in the nominating contests). As Jeralyn's post below conclusively demonstrates, there is virtually no moral imperative in terms of the Will of The People attached to the pledged delegate count. Not only is it fundamentally flawed and undemocratic, the pledged delegate count has no rules based mandate either. So when Barack Obama trumpets his so called winning of a majority of the pledged delegates (excluding Florida and Michigan), it is an entirely trumped up metric, as Jeff Toobin of CNN pointed out. As for the popular vote, even opponents of Hillary Clinton, as Greg Sargent points out, like Hendrik Hertzberg are forced to concede the moral weight of the popular vote:
[T]he popular vote, however juridically meaningless, carries immense moral and political weight with Democrats, for whom the 2000 travesty is a station of the cross and vote-counting a kind of sacrament. The superdelegates understand this. Thats why it has been clear all along that if one of the candidates is able to claim an indisputable majority of actual flesh-and-blood Democrats it will be difficult to deny himor herthe nomination.
I agree with Hertzberg on that. But of course, Hillary can not be allowed to escape unscathed, even when she has a point. Thus Hertzberg, sadly, feels compelled to treat a fight to COUNT the votes as an evil act:
In an eerie echo of the Brooks Brothers riot depicted in the HBO movie, when shouting Bush operatives and Republican congressional staffers who had been dispatched to Florida managed to shut down the Miami-Dade County recount, CNN reported on Thursday that Clinton supporters are planning to swarm the capital in a little over a week to pressure Democratic Party leaders as they gather to decide the fate of the Florida and Michigan delegations. In 2000, the candidate most willing to deploy principles and trash them, according to the tactical needs of the moment, was awarded the prize. In 2008, maybe not.
Hertzberg equates a protest to COUNT the vote with a Republican operation to STOP THE COUNT of votes. But this is the landscape we occupy now. Up is down. Paul Krugman is evil and deranged. Andrew Sullivan is wise and progressive. Counting votes is bad. Not counting them is good.
Of course, Hertzberg's article is an attempt to deflate a point that he knows is powerful - count the votes. The value of the popular vote. And in order to do this, he seems intent on delegitimizing Clinton's perfectly honorable efforts to have the votes counted. And by delegitimizing the popular vote total in this contest, Hertzberg is implicitly arguing that the moral imperative for super delegates is to follow the pledged delegate leader, even though it is, in Hertzberg's words, "juridically meaningless." And we also know it is morally meaningless as well because the pledged delegate selection process is fundamentally flawed and undemocratic. It does not provide the imprimatur of the Will of the People.
Indeed, these glaring flaws have been, sadly, studiously avoided by the Media and major blogging figures. None have examined the pledged delegate system and how it is Obama came to hold a lead under that system. A look at the system leads to the inexorable conclusion that it is utterly undemocratic and flawed.
Both in ways intentional and unintentional, votes are diluted and over represented. And in many cases in contradictory ways. In Nevada and Iowa, rural voters are given extra weight, in Texas, urban voters given extra weight.
And just by awarding delegates by Congressional district, the DNC has chosen to dilute votes - 2-2 districts versus 3-2 districts is the most obvious example. A candidate can win 61% of the vote in a 2-2 district and get a split of the delegates while another candidate could get 50.1% of the vote in a 3-2 district and get a 3-2 split of the vote.
Consider also the absurdity of Texas' dual primary and caucus system which proved just how disenfranchising the pledged delegate selection system is. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over 100,000 votes. Then a second contest was organized, from a smaller subset of the larger electorate which voted in the primary, to participate in a caucus. Obama won the undemocratic, voter excluding contest. Clinton won the democratic, voter inclusive one. Obama lost Texas according to the will of the People but got the most delegates. Thus, the DNC sanctioned voter dilution. There is not other word for it. If this system were submitted to the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, it would be laughed at and thrown out on its ear. And yet this is not worthy of even a mention from Hendrick Hertzberg, or indeed, anyone at all in the Media.
Leaving all that aside, the question is what should the Super Delegates do if there is not clear expression of the Will of The People? In my view, vote their conscience. Consider whatever legitimate factors they deem relevant. Including, electability in November.
And it goes to this final point. while it is my belief that the Super Delegates will now go for Barack Obama no matter what, in fact Obama has NOT clinched the nomination. By any rules based metric. He has not achieved 2026 delegates nor 2210.
But Hillary Clinton is treated as delusional, evil even, for staying in the race and making her case. To me that is the ultimate grotesqueness of all of this. That someone who is playing by the rules and fighting for her supporters and views is treated as a scourge. All because they want the votes counted.
Yes there was an earlier episode when something like this occurred. In 2000. And the person who suffered this type of abuse was named Al Gore. History repeats itself.
By Big Tent Democrat
Last we checked in with Bob Schaffer, the GOP's Senate candidate in Colorado was fending off news reports about parasailing in the Mariana Islands on Jack Abramoff's dime while supposedly personally investigating the plight of foreign workers there.
Now we learn about a federal criminal case in Colorado against former business and political associates of Schaffer's involving government contracts with a nonprofit foundation where Schaffer was a member of the board of directors.
Schaffer, a former House member who is battling with Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) to replace the retiring Sen. Wayne Allard, has not been accused of any wrongdoing. But the federal prosecutor handling the case told TPMmuckraker in a telephone interview that Schaffer was added to prosecutors' witness list in the federal fraud trial of Bill Orr, a Denver businessman accused of bilking the government out of more than $2 million.
Orr's trial is currently underway, and the jury has been deliberating since last week. Schaffer could still be called to testify in Orr's sentencing if Orr is convicted.
Orr successfully lobbied Congress in 2000 for a $3.6 million earmark, which he said he would use to develop a new clean-energy fuel that would emit less pollution. It's not yet known which member of Congress inserted Orr's earmark. Prosecutors say he "falsely represented" the scientific tests that convinced the EPA to turn over more than $2 million of the earmark money. Orr had created a separate not-for-profit group called the National Alternative Fuels Foundation to utilize the federal money.
And that's where Schaffer comes in. After leaving Congress, Schaffer was a "director" at the NAFF from October 2004 to March 2005, according to his Senate financial disclosure form. That's not a very long time, but it overlaps with the time frame when prosecutors say the NAFF was wrongfully accepting government cash -- from December 2001 through December 2004.
Schaffer's campaign did not respond to our call Monday for comment, but Schaffer's campaign manager, longtime GOP operative Dick Wadhams, told Roll Call in a story posted online today that Schaffer joined NAFF in part because of his interest in the development of alternative fuels:
Schaffer is "intrigued by the technology that the company was working on ... the fact is Bob has had a longstanding interest in renewable fuels technology," Wadhams said.
Wadhams also said Schaffer's interest in NAFF -- and his decision to join the board in 2004 -- came about on the recommendation of longtime political associate Scott Shires.
Shires ran some of Schaffer's local and statewide political campaigns, including fundraising operations and campaign committees. ...
Wadhams said his departure was a direct result of news that federal investigators were looking into the group and Orr's handling of the earmark.
"As soon as he learned of the investigation, he resigned. He was barely on the board," Wadhams said.
Scott Shires was indicted in the case along with Orr back in 2006 and has since pleaded guilty to knowingly failing to file a tax return and agreed to testify against Orr. Shires was the treasurer for NAFF and the registering agent on Schaffer's successful campaign for the Colorado Board of Education in 2006. Shires has not yet been sentenced in the case.
Among the questions that remain: Did Schaffer play any part in securing the earmark for Orr in 2000, when Schaffer was still in the House? Among those also appearing on a witness list for the trial were Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and former Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA).