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Monday, March 31, 2008

Gore Begins New Program on Global Warming

Al Gore is starting another ambitious effort in raising awareness in the area of global warming. Through the non-profit "The Alliance for Climate Protection", there are plans to spend 300 million over the next several years educating the American public on these issues. Their slogan is "We can solve it" and they claim to have one million members signed up to their website already. You can access their website and sign up here:

It is important to be knowledgeable in this area and for each of us to do our part. To read more on this initiative by Al Gore, here is a good read in the Washington Post:

Spring is Here - Baseball has Started - Bush gets Booed

For a moment, all is good in the world. One can almost smell the hot dogs on the grill, the roasted peanuts in the air and hear the vendors shouting "ice-cold beer here"! It is the beginning of the professional baseball season and dreams loom large for fans who hope this is the year for their team.

Even President George W. Bush was on hand last night to throw out the traditional first pitch for the Washington Nationals in their brand new park. However, he was nearly booed out of the stadium as he ran out to the mound. You can watch it here:

Although I am not a Nationals fan, it was an opening day baseball game and I was enjoying watching a pitching duel, an unusual occurrence in baseball of late. In the top of the ninth, the Braves tied the game 2-2 with a double and a passed ball that allowed the pinch runner to score from third base. In a script written for the home team, the Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman hit a game winning home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth for the 3-2 final score.

The Baltimore Orioles, a team I have followed since I was thirteen in 1966, begin their season today at 3:00 pm at Camden Yards. I have been to numerous opening day games but alas, I will not be there today. Instead, I will be resigned to watching at home or trying to catch a live stream on my computer.

While this year will be the beginning of a rebuilding effort of the Orioles, my hopes will be high when they meet Tampa Bay today. After a decade of losing seasons, the Orioles have decided to go in a new direction, concentrating on youth with potential instead of trying to plug holes with free agents. So watching the new players may well add excitement and raise expectations for the team.

On second thought, I may just sneak over to a friends home for a dog and a cold one. For all you baseball fans out there, best wishes for your team and let's hope for a great season.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Will DNC Chair Howard Dean Survive Until the Convention?

Howard Dean has a not so glowing history with his experience in national democratic politics. In 2004 he rose from obscurity as a former Governor of Vermont to being the front runner in the democratic party primary prior to the caucuses in Iowa.

He ran an insurgent campaign relying heavily on the use of the Internet and a campaign strategy similar to what former President Carter used in his successful 1976 election. Carter pinned his hopes on winning Iowa, the traditional first state to kick off the democratic party primary schedule.

His campaign hoped that by winning there, he would gain the national exposure that was necessary and additional wins would follow. Fortunately for him, his strategy worked and he would go on to win the democratic party nomination and ultimately, the presidency.

For Howard Dean, the strategy of putting all your eggs in one basket failed as Senator John Kerry (Mass.) who ran a stronger field campaign in Iowa finished first and would go on to become the nominee. Not only did the unfair media coverage of Dean's scream at a rally with supporters the night of the Iowa caucuses do him in, his campaign was broke, having spent 50 million prior to Iowa.

After John Kerry lost to incumbent President George W. Bush in the 2004 election, Howard Dean effectively used his grass roots network to help him become chair of the Democratic National Committee. As an outsider to national politics and an insurgent, his time as chair has been filled with mixed results.

Dean has had significant battles with democratic congressional leaders over the strategy to be implemented by the DNC. He has stuck to his position of a 50 state strategy of building a presence in each state and not conceding any seat in congress.

This has led to battles with representative Rahm Emanuel who is presently caucus chair of the democratic congressional campaign committee. Emanuel's and others argue it is better to spend resources on candidates and campaigns in which there is a reasonable measure of success.

In 2006 the congressional elections resulted in a democratic majority and the first woman speaker, Nancy Pelosi. In 2008, it is important for the democrats to increase their majority in the House and the Senate and most important to win the Presidency. President Bush has clearly shown that the ability to issue a veto that is unable to be overridden by congress gives the executive branch tremendous power.

Howard Dean as chair of the DNC was unable to reach consensus in the adding of several states to the traditional two states (Iowa and New Hampshire) in the month of January of the democratic primary schedule. Only Nevada (for western exposure) and South Carolina (for southern exposure) were added and the earliest next primary date in the schedule was the 5th of February, the new super Tuesday.

This is what led to the Michigan and Florida debacle with both states wanting to receive more exposure by moving up their primary and the DNC issuing sanctions stripping the states of their delegates. This essentially made these primaries meaningless as all the candidates did not campaign in the states and many did not even appear on the ballot.

The failure of the DNC to handle this issue in an appropriate manner which did not disenfranchise their voters has come back to haunt them in a close primary election. In addition, Dean is saying he wants the nominee to be chosen by July 1st to avoid a broker-ed convention.

The convoluted manner (delegates awarded by proportion of total vote, proportional vote by district along with superdelegates) in which the democratic party conducts their primary schedule with some states holding caucuses and some states having traditional votes has also led many to wonder if their vote really does count.

Adding to all these woes for the DNC is they have little cash on hand. The fate of Howard Dean depends a lot on how these many issues facing the democratic party play out.

Stay Tuned.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sunday Morning 3-30-08 "Talking Heads"

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (Dem) is on "Face the Nation" - CBS. James Carville has now explained his "Judas" remarks toward Richardson as being the results of claims by senior aides to Senator Hillary Clinton being mislead by Richardson as to his endorsement that went to Senator Barack Obama last week. Richardson is sure to be asked about this and it will be interesting to hear his response.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson (Dem) will be on C-SPAN "Newsmakers" and also on CNN "Late Edition". He recently indicated that he will introduce a bill that would do away with the electoral college used in the general election for president and propose using the popular vote in it's place. After the "hanging chads" debacle in the 2000 election and this year's sanctions by the DNC stripping Forida of it's delegates at the democratic national convention, it's not hard to see why he is proposing this change.

ABC - "This Week" has a little Obama-Clinton action with Governor Ed Rendell (D-Pa.) who has endorsed Senator Clinton appearing with Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) who has endorsed Senator Obama. Although Clinton has a sizable lead in Pennsylvania in the polls, it has been reported that Obama has bought 1.6 million in media time in the state.

Here is a full lineup from "Sunday talk show tip sheet"

Friday, March 28, 2008

Let Democrats Vote

George Wenschhof

Why all the fuss about the democrats needing to settle on their nominee for president? It seems every day there is a democratic official calling for the primary to end so further damage to the party can be avoided.

Here is a article about how Governor Phil Bredesen of Tennesee believes the nominee will be determined by the superdelegates. He proposes the superdelegates meet and vote to determine the nominee in June after the conclusion of the primary schedule but prior to the convention in late August. Here is a good read in the

Today, it was U.S. Senator Pat Leahy (Vt.) calling on Senator Hillary Clinton to drop out and support Senator Barack Obama.

The chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Howard Dean has also expressed his concern about the nomination being determined at their convention in August. He agrees with Governor Bredesen that the superdelegates should meet in early June.,8599,1726131,00.html

How about letting the voters in the eight remaining states, Guam and Puerto Rico express their thoughts on who the nominee should be? It would seem that the most democratic action would be to support and encourage the voters in the remaining states to participate.

Contrary to what some democratic party leaders may feel, this is the first time in many years when the vote in each state will make a difference in determining the democratic party nominee for president. While voters are saying "McCain who?", the attention is on the democratic candidates as they express the need for a change in the present republican George W. Bush administration.

Instead of fretting and pooh poohing the situation, party leaders should be rejoicing at the record number of voters participating in each state as a result of the quality candidates the party has running in this election.

While they are at it, they should be encouraging a traditional state run revote in Michigan and Florida paid for by both the Obama and Clinton campaigns with financial assistance from the Florida and Michigan state democratic parties, whose actions precipitated the draconian sanctions by the DNC.

Forget about mail in primaries in these two states and forget about whether or not a democratic voter voted in the Republican primary of the previously sanctioned democratic primaries. Just have a redo state run primary for registered democrats in Michigan and Florida. A failure to have a do-over primary in these two states will have a much more harmful effect to the democratic party than a broker-ed national convention.

Howard Dean and the DNC should be preparing for the possibility of a broker-ed convention by making sure rules and guidelines are in place for the elected delegates who attend. This should not be looked upon as a negative, but rather as a positive. The democrats holding a convention that actually means something and where democracy will be in action would be a pleasant surprise.

As one who voted for Senator Obama, I want him to be the nominee as a result of the voters in all the states having the opportunity to vote in the democratic primary schedule.

Stay Tuned

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Former Alabama Governor Siegelman Released From Jail

This caught my attention when CBS "Sixty Minutes" ran a story on it a few weeks back and the name Carl Rove popped up amid the discussion. It appeared to be, at first glance, a classic story of a Governor accepting bribes in return for favors.

Don Siegelman was a popular Democrat Governor who caught the ire of the George W. Bush administration and not surprisingly, this is where Carl Rove pops up in the story. The Justice Department has denied any political influence was involved in their prosecution of the Governor who was convicted and received a seven year sentence.

However, when the "Sixty Minutes" story aired recently, it was mysteriously blacked out in areas of Alabama but nowhere else in the country. This weird occurrence has only added to the questions surrounding this case.

Don Abrams of MSNBC has also been calling for review of this case. Today, a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that Siegelman's appeal be heard and ordered him released from jail after he had served nine months of the seven year sentence.

Here is a good read on the story:

Stay Tuned

Obama and Clinton Discuss the Economy

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In the 1992 presidential campaign it was Bill Clinton who made points with the saying "It's the economy, stupid". Today, in the eight year of the Republican George W. Bush administration the economy again is the number one concern of American voters and the new phrase may well be "it's a stupid economy".

The factors are many that have led the country into the current economic morass ranging from the sub prime mortgage market debacle, a falling U.S. dollar, loss of jobs overseas, the failure across the board in efforts to deregulate energy costs, increased national debt and reliance on foreign investment to back the debt, and the list goes on...

The presidential candidate that presents a economic plan that strikes a chord with American voters will benefit at the polls in November.

Here is a good read by Reuters on the economic plans of the candidates for president.

Will Indictment of Puerto Rico Governor Impact Democratic Race?

Puerto Rico Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila has been indicted on charges of public corruption by the U.S. Justice Department.

On February 13th, the Governor endorsed Senator Barack Obama. Although the residents of Puerto Rico can not vote in the U.S. national election, they are able to weigh in during the democratic party primary.

Puerto Rico has a total of 55 pledged delegates and 8 superdelegates with Governor Vila being one of the superdelegates. Vila's endorsement was expected to aid in Senator Obama winning the majority of these delegates.

In a little publicized move that I reported on earlier, Puerto Rico changed from a caucus form of primary to a traditional vote and moved their primary from June 7th to June 1st. This move was expected to aid Senator Hillary Clinton who has not fared well in the caucuses to date.

Realizing the importance of Puerto Rico in her bid to obtain the democratic party nomination for president, Clinton has given attention to Puerto Rico.

Stay Tuned

How About A Gore - Obama Ticket?

A Gore-Obama democratic ticket in November sounds pretty far fetched, but is it? With the possibility of a deadlocked democratic convention in August, a new candidate could emerge as the nominee. Read more here:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Gravel Leaves Democratic Party

Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, a democratic party candidate for president has left the Democratic Party and says he is joining the Libertarian Party. Although he had continued campaigning for the democratic party nomination, his poor showings in the primaries led to him being left out of all the recent televised debates.,0,7746093.story

How many Democrats will Support McCain?

Here is a new poll by

It shows 28% of the supporters of Senator Clinton would vote for Senator McCain over Senator Obama for president. On the other side, 19% of the supporters of Senator Obama would support Senator McCain over Senator Clinton.

There is always a cross over of votes in both the Republican and Democratic parties in the presidential election so don't be overly alarmed by these early poll results prior to the determination of the Democratic party nominee.

What Next in Pakistan?

The U.S. Bush administration sent deputy secretary of state, John D. Negroponte to Pakistan to meet with the new Pakistan prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani as well as President Pervez Musharraf.

Negroponte was accompanied by Richard Boucher, assistant secretary of state for south asian affairs. They also met with Nawaz Sharif (PML-N) and Asif Ali Zardari (PPL-Bhutto) who are the leaders of the new coalition in the national assembly.

Here is a good read in the New York Times:

When elected prime minister, Gilani called for the release of the judges held under house arrest since their removal from office by Musharraf when he suspended the constitution. There are reports that the barricades have been removed from outside the homes of the Judges.

The next move by Gilani may be to try to reinstate the Judges and if successful, this would surely mark the end for Musharraf. There are also reports that two senior military officers, loyal to Musharraf have stepped down. While the Pakistan military has stayed out of the political upheaval in the country, this is another ominous sign as to the fate of Musharraf.

The envoys sent by the U.S. Bush administration were informed that a new comprehensive approach was needed in the battle against terrorism. One that includes opening dialog leading to diplomatic solutions and not one that totally relied on military force. Here is a good read by

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Politics is personal Repeat three times

Jack Lynch

While it may be the issues, or public interest you hear spoken about in groups or the papers – clearly, what really gets the blood flowing is personality and personal problems between politicians.

It doesn't even have to begin with a direct attack. Or mud. Just a disagreement over an issue, especially when the background consists of a local challenger who may have a broad base and the experience to easily dispose a long serving Delegate.

The slightest comment in the newspaper, or online forum, or in a speech, becomes fodder for rampant mistrust and hatred and envy and attack. The politicos know that the power of an idea, or symbolic affront, can have great effect, and affect.

Let us gaze into the crystal ball.

In Frederick County, Maryland the 2006 House of Delegates election brought a bit of a surprise in district 3-A where two delegates are elected to office. This district encompasses the City of Frederick and some adjoining areas. Sue Hecht (D) returned to office replacing incumbent Patrick Hogan (R). Ms. Hecht was a former two-term delegate from the district who ran unsuccessfully for state senate against incumbent Republican Alex Mooney in the 2002 election. Incumbent democrat Galen Clagett narrowly won reelection, capturing the other delegate seat with a 200 vote advantage over republican Patrick Hogan.

Interestingly in the district 3-A democratic primary, incumbent Galen Clagett won only 45%, to Sue Hecht's 55% of the 8700 votes cast.

Jan Gardner easily won reelection to the Frederick County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) with 45,000 votes. Having served not only as BOCC chair, but Chair of Maryland Association of Counties (MACO), and now on the Governor's Growth Task Force, Jan is clearly poised to rise to state politics, if she so chooses. A local wag suggested that she had already parked her yacht in Annapolis. As an original 'Mommy Monger' she has a base of activist female voters, coupled with those men like myself who admire her even handedness and clarity and responsiveness in office, and her growth and infrastructure views bringing her to a state task force on growth.

While the writing may not yet be on the wall, it is clear that Delegate Clagett should be feeling the heat from Winchester Hall – and you can bet that's very personal. There's clearly a history there.

There is a clear contrast between Delegate Clagett and Frederick County Commissioner Jan Gardner. It is not just powerful man of state versus an up and coming, powerful woman. It is not just the tension of contrasting positions or issues, or allegiance to development over managed growth, yet it is that too.

In addition to his being a Democrat, I was drawn to Clagett for his environmentalist record. It contrasted with everything he seemed to support regarding his interests in the development community. He scored a perfect ten on the Maryland League of Conservation Voters scorecard, and always seemed to favor Bay issues. I wondered how he supported his thinking, that contradiction.

Now I'm thinking that the League's scorecard is missing one of its most important elements – the decisions about local growth and development issues. There Gardner wins hands down, and Clagett's positioning seems more a shill rather than a defining issue.

Then, even more directly in the limelight, is the still burning issue of Maryland slots. Clagett a slots supporter and promoter, wants slots here in Frederick County. Gardner opposed placing them here, and led the BOCC to zone them out of the county. She worked with Weldon to amend the authorizing bill and keep them out of consideration in Frederick County.

Charter government – Clagett for it, Gardner, maybe only guardedly supports it.

Delegate Clagett clearly overplayed his hand with the interference into the county process by his text amendment bill. He purported to fix a problem that wasn't evident, and cover his tracks with unnamed petitioners and no examples. His bluff called, he saw his legislation watered down until it looked like a codification of the existing process. Its final fate is still undetermined, but a county body opposing a local privilege bill will look pretty weak, even if it sails through. Luckily for him, the majority attention will fall elsewhere in the final days of the session.

So it would seem to come down to – who is champion of the ballot box in Frederick County, and how will that affect the legislative positions at the next election. Clagett hears those footsteps coming up from behind and is running scared. If it came down to himself versus Gardner, he stands to lose – his toughness would look like further bullying, and his accomplishments would fade against his negatives – it's a brave new world in Frederick County, and much of his positioning appears out of sync with voters.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Help Teach Autistic Children Today

I received this email from Chris Patterson today and wanted to share it with you. I did not include the attached Flier. If you live in the Frederick, Maryland area, try to stop by the California Tortilla on your way home from work this Thursday. Grab a bite to eat and help in this worthy endeavor. Also take time to check out their website

Just a reminder that Teach Autistic Children Today will benefit from your purchases at California Tortilla (at the corner of Rt 26 and Monocacy Blvd in Frederick) from 5 to 9 pm, Thursday, March 27. Just say the secret word "AUTISM" when you order and 25% of your purchase will go to TACT for families who need help paying for therapy for their children with autism.

Also, let them know when you order if you cannot have gluten. The restaurant is generously working with us to keep gluten away from the food if you can't have it. They are offering gluten free (100% corn) tortillas and chips! And Please say thank you to manager ANDY and the staff for going above and beyond to accommodate this need!!!

Autism can be overcome with your help. Please come dine with us on Thursday for these beautiful children. A flier is attached for you to print, share, copy and otherwise get to everyone you know! Members of TACT's Board of Directors will also be there throughout the evening to answer your questions about TACT and about our upcoming walk on April 19 - Give Them Wings 2008! or email us at

Thank you for your continuing support!

Chris Patterson
Board President
Teach Autistic Children Today, Inc
PO Box 487
Braddock Heights, MD 21714-0487

New Pakistan PM Gilani to Issue Order to Release Judges

As expected, Yousaf Raza Gilani was elected prime minister by a vote of 264-42. Chaudhry Pervez Elahi of the PML that supports Musharraf was easily defeated.

Gilani indicated he would order the release of the Judges who were removed from their positions and placed under house arrest by President Musharraf when he suspended the constitution.

Gilani also called for an independent UN investigation of the death of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

If Gilani intends to reinstate these Judges, it will create an immediate battle between the new Parliament and Musharraf who is expected to officially swear-in Gilani as the new prime minister tomorrow.

To read more from

Update on Maryland House Bill 370

Guy Djoken

Last week, following the call of the Maryland State NAACP, we asked the general public to contact our Delegates and Senators in Annapolis to state our firm opposition the DNA Bill that we believe will disproportionally affect the poor and minority population in the state.

For the record, we do not oppose the collection of the DNA of those who have been convicted in a court of law. Our fundamental problem is that the Bill that was approved 134-4 without debate on the House floor requires those accused of a number of felonies to submit a DNA sample, so that police can determine if the suspect is linked to other crimes.

Knowing that Black, Latino and other minorities are disproportionally stopped by law enforcement in the state of Maryland it is very important that safeguards be put in place to make sure that these stops are not used as a way of collecting DNA for people who are innocent.

I will like to take a moment here to extend our gratitude to Baltimore City Delegate Jill Carter for voting against the measure, along with Republicans Michael Smigiel, Richard Sossi and Donna Stiffler. Hon. Marvin L. 'Doc' Cheatham, Sr., President of the Baltimore City Branch of the NAACP clearly stated the following in a letter expressing his disappointment to the Delegates following the approval without debate. "Please explain your position on HB 370 and how it has nothing to do with the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution. We would really like to read your explanation why HB 370 has nothing to do with the 4th Amendment. Maybe you have a point of view that the civil rights community is not cognizant of."

House Bill 370 is now before the Senate which will consider its own version of the Bill today. Please contact your senator to express your opposition to this Bill.

Some thoughts on the Economy:

At the time when we are bowing our heads for the grim milestone death of 4000 brave service men and women in Iraq, bad news about jobs, gas prices, drop in home values, inflation, the dollar free fall and the unstable stock market is squeezing the middle class like no time before in recent memories. The unprecedented number of foreclosures call for a new leadership that may help end what some are calling the "Bush depression."

This depression, still referred to by the Bush administration as recession, is a result of a failed policy that was implemented to wage a war on the middle class. It is yet to be known how much the successive drop of short-term interest rates by the FED to a historic 2.25 percent will provide some relief to the remaining homeowners with mortgages on the verge of losing all their personal equity in their houses.

After the first Bush-Chaney administration in 2004, the U.S. Census Bureau's statistics 2004 showed the official poverty rate at 12.3 percent in 2006. That means 36.5 million people in poverty in 2006. The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 44.8 million (15.3 percent) in 2005 to 47 million (15.8 percent) in 2006.

Guy Djoken is President NAACP, Frederick County, Maryland Branch

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Change in Pakistan?

George Wenschhof

If everything goes as planned, the Pakistan Parliament will meet tomorrow and vote to elect their prime minister. Here is a good read by the

While the new majority coalition in parliament has championed democracy, the leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party (Bhutto - Zardari) and the Pakistan Muslim League -N (Nawraz Sharif) have a history that hardly embraces democracy.

Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of deceased former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was known as Mr. Ten Per Cent for the fee he charged individuals for doing business with the government. He was unable to run for parliament for he did not meet the eligibility requirements and he still faces legal charges for his actions during the time Bhutto was prime minister.

The other leader of the new coalition, Nawaz Sharif was deposed by Pervez Musharraf in a bloodless coup and exiled from Pakistan.

Interestingly, the person who will be nominated by this new coalition to be Prime Minister is Yousaf Raza Gillani who was speaker of the parliament when Bhutto was prime minister. He was jailed for four years by Musharraf for making illegal appointments. Here is a good read by

The fate of Musharraf remains tenuous as the incoming coalition in parliament have promised to vote to return the exiled supreme court justices to office. There is also the possibility they may try to also win the two-thirds vote needed to impeach Musharraf.

While the clamor for democracy is loud in Pakistan, the changes in parliament also reflect a support for previous leaders who suffered defeat in the past by Pervez Musharraf.

Pakistan is a country located in a strategic location in the world which also has operational nuclear weapons. The U.S. Bush administration has long been an ally of Musharraf. Fortunately, to date the military has stayed out of the politics unfolding in their country.

Reform is needed in Pakistan so lets hope that the incoming change in government is not merely a change in face in the same old ways of governing.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Will Clinton or Obama Win 2025 Delgates?

George Wenschhof

Today the current total delegate count is Obama - 1628 and Clinton - 1496 with 2025 needed to secure the democratic party nomination.

The lead by Obama expands to 1414 compared to 1246 for Clinton among pledged delegates won by results of the votes in each state.

Clinton's lead among super delegates has narrowed to 250 to 214 for Obama.

There are eight states, Guam and Puerto Rico left in the democratic primary schedule with 568 delegates at stake. There also seems to be 331 of the 796 superdelegates who have not committed to a candidate.

Senator Clinton would have to win 60% of the 899 remaining pledged (568) and uncommitted superdelegates (331) to win. This would give her a total of 2035 and Obama would have 1987.

Interestingly, there is a remote mathematical possibility that neither candidate would reach the 2025 needed to win the nomination even with the superdelegates.

The delegate numbers are from

The inability of either candidate to reach the 2025 needed would make the sanctions by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) stripping Florida and Michigan of their delegates an even more ridiculous move than it already is.

Senator Clinton's hopes to catch up in delegates suffered another blow after attempts in both Michigan and Florida to hold do-over primaries, failed for a myriad of reasons.

Senator Clinton has tried to exploit this unfortunate situation by pointing fingers at the lack of cooperation by the Obama campaign in achieving these do-over primaries.

Meanwhile, Obama has a clear cash on hand advantage over the Clinton campaign. Although there is plenty of time to raise funds between the dates of the remaining primaries.

Here is a article in which points out that Senator Clinton's chances are slim at winning the nomination.

However, many things, both at the domestic level and international arena can happen between now and the democratic convention the end of August that can impact on the democratic nomination for president. I would not count Senator Clinton out just yet.

Sunday Morning 3-23-08 "Talking Heads"

George Stephanopoulos on ABC'c "This Week" has Chuch Hagel, a Republican Senator from Nebraska. He has opposed the war in Iraq and it will be interesting to hear his thoughts after five years of disappointing U.S. entanglement in this country.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson Bill Richardson will be on "Fox News Sunday". He just endorsed Senator Barack Obama even though he was pressed hard by both Clintons for his endorsement. This has to be a blow for Senator Clinton for Bill Richardson was appointed to two cabinet positions under her husband's administration.

Indiana Senator Evan Bayh who is a supporter of Senator Clinton is on CNN "late Edition". Indiana along with North Carolina are the first states after Pennsylvania to hold a democratic primary. On May 6th, 72 pledged delegates will be up for grabs from Indiana and 115 pledged delegates from North Carolina. Senator Clinton is favored in Indiana and Senator Obama is expected to do well in N.C.

For a complete rundown has their "Sunday talk show tip sheet"

Friday, March 21, 2008

More On Passport - Gate

It only gets even more confusing as to why the State Department did not disclose for several months what now appears to be multiple breaches of passports files of the three remaining Presidential candidates.

Here is the New York Times story on the State Department news conference today:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has apologized for this happening and indicated that she would not like it if anyone was looking through her passport file. Interestingly, this is the same Bush administration that is pushing for FISA to be extended to allow the government to access even more personal files of U.S. citizens under the guise of national security while providing immunity to all the telecommunication firms that previously cooperated in this endeavor.

Gov. Richardson Endorses Obama

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has endorsed Senator Barack Obama for the democratic party nomination for President. The following is an early morning email I received from him today detailing the reasons for his endorsement.

Dear George,

During the last year, I have shared with you my vision and hopes for this nation as we look to repair the damage of the last seven years. And you have shared your support, your ideas and your encouragement to my campaign. We have been through a lot together and that is why I wanted to tell you that, after careful and thoughtful deliberation, I have made a decision to endorse Barack Obama for President.

We are blessed to have two great American leaders and great Democrats running for President. My affection and admiration for Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton will never waver. It is time, however, for Democrats to stop fighting amongst ourselves and to prepare for the tough fight we will face against John McCain in the fall. The 1990's were a decade of peace and prosperity because of the competent and enlightened leadership of the Clinton administration, but it is now time for a new generation of leadership to lead America forward. Barack Obama will be a historic and a great President, who can bring us the change we so desperately need by bringing us together as a nation here at home and with our allies abroad.

Earlier this week, Senator Barack Obama gave an historic speech. that addressed the issue of race with the eloquence, sincerity, and optimism we have come to expect of him. He inspired us by reminding us of the awesome potential residing in our own responsibility. He asked us to rise above our racially divided past, and to seize the opportunity to carry forward the work of many patriots of all races, who struggled and died to bring us together.

As a Hispanic, I was particularly touched by his words. I have been troubled by the demonization of immigrants--specifically Hispanics-- by too many in this country. Hate crimes against Hispanics are rising as a direct result and now, in tough economic times, people look for scapegoats and I fear that people will continue to exploit our racial differences--and place blame on others not like them . We all know the real culprit -- the disastrous economic policies of the Bush Administration!

Senator Obama has started a discussion in this country long overdue and rejects the politics of pitting race against race. He understands clearly that only by bringing people together, only by bridging our differences can we all succeed together as Americans.

His words are those of a courageous, thoughtful and inspiring leader, who understands that a house divided against itself cannot stand. And, after nearly eight years of George W. Bush, we desperately need such a leader.

To reverse the disastrous policies of the last seven years, rebuild our economy, address the housing and mortgage crisis, bring our troops home from Iraq and restore America's international standing, we need a President who can bring us together as a nation so we can confront our urgent challenges at home and abroad.

During the past year, I got to know Senator Obama as we campaigned against each other for the Presidency, and I felt a kinship with him because we both grew up between words, in a sense, living both abroad and here in America. In part because of these experiences, Barack and I share a deep sense of our nation's special responsibilities in the world.

So, once again, thank you for all you have done for me and my campaign. I wanted to make sure you understood my reasons for my endorsement of Senator Obama. I know that you, no matter what your choice, will do so with the best interests of this nation, in your heart.


Bill Richardson

Prediction: Bad News for Obama, the End of Post-Racial Politics

Jack Lynch

William Faulkner would likely still vote for Obama, just on principle, but after the race issue speech on Tuesday, he'd probably caution, back as he did in Mississippi's segregationist days, to "go slow now." The potential backlash and prejudice against him may be reignited by the very words that in a less cautionary time would have transcended.

Harvard lawyers will support his contentions on American society, but will unemployed white steelworkers in Pittsburgh? Not likely. For the one certainty in economic hard times is the irrationality of the fear and loathing, and the opposition to the success of the minority worker and immigrants. Even the financial markets are the product of the struggle between ego and id, no less than six-pack Joe.

Having transcended race so eloquently for so long, and in trying to address it in a national conversation, he likely stirred old contradictions and the memory of old wounds and uncertainties, he fell back to racial identification and claims of a long historical discrimination – if the key lower class workers heard about it at all, it fell on not quite deaf ears, but closed minds and engendered their antipathy towards his cause, for their cause is now survival and looking back towards a common cultural identity in the face of a doubly dangerous world of globalization and terrorism.

As Obama himself knows, this is not even close to their cultural identity, nor is it the time for their complacency in their own possible demise as self sufficient citizens, as jobs fall away and homes deflate and bills go unpaid – they look to blame, at home and abroad.

Obama served, even beyond the dubious defense of Reverend Wright's hateful and nearly treacherous public speech, to stake out the old ground of the wronged by race and to kill off his transitional symbolic self, losing his bridge between races for some, to end up camped in the eviscerated politics of a birthright long deferred by race – he is now seen by those key elements as more committed to racial issues and realignment, rather than an acceptable placeholder towards that lofty place of character and acceptance, and one post racial human family, he expounds.

David he is not, nor has he smote the Goliath of race in America.

This may be where the goodness of the liberal nature ends wrecked against the shoals of a harder experience and reality. Hillary may overcome his eloquence with a promise of a chicken in every pot.

If so, it will not be a tragedy, but an opportunity to come back and do the work to bring that vision to fruition and set the stage for the next run or the next candidate that matches the opportunity with a better grounding in the still dark side of American racial life and that ultimate prize, not of the Presidency, but the valuation of all by character and work and intellectual capacity, rather than mere skin.

I detected a note of resignation in Obama that his recent upward arc was in danger and the end result might not be the Democratic nomination. It was confirmed by post speech interviews, he said that it had "…shaken me up a little bit and gotten me back into remembering that the odds of me getting elected have always been lower than some of the other conventional candidates."

Hopefully, that will not be the lesson he ultimately takes from his efforts, whatever their ultimate outcome; he offers too much hope to lose enthusiasm for his cause. At present, he may offer too little testing and seasoning to forge his imagined steel to that will. It is now still early morning in Democratic American politics, and a truly post racial society.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Illegal Access to Obama's Passport - More Dirty Tricks?

An interesting story is being reported as I write this pertaining to unauthorized access of the passport information of Senator Barack Obama.

Three contract employees of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, which falls under the State Department, were responsible for unauthorized viewing of Obama's passport file. Two have been fired and a third person has been disciplined.

A monitoring system was tripped each time after the records were accessed. Once on January 9th, again on February 21st, and most recent on March 14th. The contract employees involved in the first two instances were fired and the third has been disciplined.

It was back in 1991, when Bill Clinton was running for president a similar violation occurred pertaining to unauthorized access to his passport information. This happened under the George H. W. Bush administration and as a result of a special prosecutor at the time, a monitoring system was put in place.

Amazingly, it was not until today that Senator Obama was notified of these violations by a phone call to his Senate office. Reportedly, the Inspector General office did not find out about these violations until today. Someone earlier in the chain determined that the information was not disseminated to others by these contract employees which would make their action a criminal act. They are saying that this action by the contract employees was not politically motivated. Another question is when was Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice informed of this violation?

Senator Barack Obama has traveled around the world and lived as a child in Indonesia so this passport information would be of interest to many from a political standpoint.

The question that became famous during my college days and Watergate will be relevant again and that is "What did they know and when did they know it"?

Stay tuned.

American Exceptionalism on the World Stage

Jack Lynch

We see ourselves as a special people in America, with greater religious and moral force, and that individuals control their lives to a greater degree than much of the world sees in both reality and belief – so that kind of special mission and internal verity lead us towards a Roman tragedy, quite unlike the Greek ones, no pride and fatal flaw, just a bombastic, belligerent, puppetry of civil discourse, and too quick and unreflective overplay of a hand. It was first noted by French traveler Alexis de Tocqueville in 1831. War has come without a cost accounting, without a clear end, without a concern for the passions and peoples involved on the ground. American exceptionalism, a rich source of national community, soon degrades into blind arrogance and ignorant ranting in the footlights as the invisible stagehand changes the scenery. I crow, therefore I am.

The need to bomb and obliterate somebody lies beneath this civil surface. The inner child rages. Iraq shock and awe gives way to incrementalism in Afghanistan. We can expect little more from the Republicans and John McCain. Recent coalition claims have presented a false front to U.S, led invasions and long engagements of little effect.

Bill Clinton was an example of limited response and multilateral action. A few Blackhawks and a few thousand troops engaged in Africa, a couple cruise missiles launched against Al Qaeda camps. The danger of limited response is in failure, or largely symbolic defeats of very limited scale. That alone does not condemn the attempt to deal with world events in a minor key. Haiti was a quick effort that established a return to power for a homegrown dictator, cynical, but effective. Bosnia was a longer run effort, and seemingly, also effective.

Much of his war actions were officially U.N. peacekeeping efforts. Some would charge he failed to see and stop the terrorist efforts, but it's a bogus charge, to expect the dramatic success of a limited number of determined subversives out of a vague regional mass of cells and activity conflicted against several national conflicts, while somewhat expected in a general sense, had few specific actionable, and clear threats before 9-11.

But what are the foreign approaches of our Democratic candidates? How would power likely play out in their hands? What world view will reign over their actions on the world stage?

Barack Obama leaves the concern that an African focus will engage us in further fruitless efforts like Somalia, in Darfur and perhaps other internecine conflicts. The poverty and genocide calls out, but the establishment of civil stability and economy seem unclear, perhaps unachievable goals. Underpinning economic progress and stable community and simple order along with opposing false ideological information sources is most paramount.

He can claim early and complete opposition on Iraq, but that seems rather knee jerk and overly liberal a response given the background, although it was a false impression. Would he engage us in lengthy resolutions of conflicts with small gains to American interests? Or build a big picture vision of what outcomes are unacceptable to our interests?

Obama's embrace of Zbigniew Brzezinski suggests a number of things, lessened support of Israel, insurgency support in Afghanistan, but also President Carter's Camp David accords. Commentaries in places like American Thinker and the Cato Institute question Obama's judgment and experience and positioning, often malleable to the point of contradiction.

Hillary Clinton has ridden the changes in national mood more closely, supporting the war and accepting its false public causes, but now declaring it must end and quickly. She gains much credibility in terms of international relationships and engagements as part of her experience, she's somewhat a known quantity, and Bill's history adds weight and hope that she would likewise heed his council and take limited engagement efforts unless a clearly unrestrained response was required.

Clinton has accepted advisers with a similar vein of thought, such as Richard Holbrook and Madeleine Albright. Her changes of position in regards to Iraq may hint at a long term strength in viewpoint that is flexible and open to conditions – she has spelled out a broad overview of her policy propositions in Foreign Affairs. In Clinton, American Exceptionalism is wedded to concrete choices about approaches to the world that engage and unify, rather than supersede and ignore history and cultural frictions. She is clearly on mark in defining our interests as strategic, whether against terror, or in service of access to natural materials.

Barry Posen, writing in American Interest posits that we should conduct our foreign policy interest to "…conceive [our] security interests narrowly, use [our] military power stingily, pursue [our] enemies quietly but persistently, share responsibilities and costs more equitably, watch and wait more patiently."

Given globalization, the diffusion of power, the rise of a Chinese economic empire, and the two tragedies of humanity in the world's population, 2 Billion people lacking basic human needs, and the tragic miscommunication of ethnic and ideological identity, and revenge conflicts – we clearly need to pursue a smarter path, and while it is clear that Clinton understands, it is still questionable whether Obama can hold hands with genocidal regimes and still stand firm to traditional American values.

Pakistan Assembly Moves Forward

George Wenschhof

Yesterday, the Pakistan Assembly elected Fehmida Mirza as their first woman as Speaker. She easily defeated Chaudry Hussain with a vote count of 249 - 70. Here is a good read by

She is a member of the Pakistan's People's Party (PPL-Bhutto) and Hussain was a representative of the Pakistan Muslim League - Q (PML-Q), the party that supports President Mussharraf.

Electing a Prime Minister is the next step and there appears to be some glitches between Asif Ali Zardari (husband of the deceased Benazir Bhutto) co-leader of the PPL and his new ally Nawaz Sharif who is head of the Pakistan Muslim League -N (PPL-N).

The initial candidate that Zardari wanted to put forward was Makdoom Amin Fahim but this person does not have the support of Sharif.

Neither Zardari or Sharif are eligible to run for they are not a member of the elected assembly. Interestingly, both of these individuals have their own issues as Sharif was ousted by Musharraf in a bloodless coup and Zardari who as husband of the late former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was given the name "Mr. 10%" for the fee he allegedly charged to anyone wanting to do business with the government.

While the victory margin in the election of Mirza as Speaker indicates a two-thirds majority in the assembly, Pakistan also has a 100 member senate.

This is important for the newly elected representatives want to reinstate the judges who were removed by Musharraf and they wish to amend the constitution. The end result of those actions would most likely result in the removal of Musharraf as President. These changes will require a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers of government.

The United States under the Bush administration, has been a staunch ally of Musharraf with unaccounted for billions continuing to flow from the U.S. to Pakistan. The Bush administration continues to hold out hope that a power sharing agreement can be established that includes Musharraf yet they they are caught in a quandary of also having to support democratic reforms in Pakistan.

Stay tuned for there is certainly more to this story.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Media Reaction to Obama Speech

Here is a list of twelve columns from newspapers around the country. Just click on the title to read the story.

Obama stands his unique ground on race

Black, White & Gray

A Speech That Fell Short

On Obama's Speech

Obama's Racial Problems Transcend Wright

Obama's Road Map on Race

Hate is Not to be Endlessly Analyzed

The Meaning of Obama's Speech on Race

Wright's Rantings Won't Sink Obama

Editorial: Sen. Obama's Speech on Race Brilliant!

Obama speaks bluntly on race

Tackling a Sensitive Topic at a Sensitive Moment, for Disparate Audiences

Obama speaking on March 18th – Political Equinox

Jack Lynch

It is commonly believed that the vernal equinox on March 20th represents an equality between day and night, but that is incorrect.*

Yet perhaps in reality, and certainly symbolically, the equality between day and night, as symbolic of the dual American experience of black and white is a fitting coincidence to Barack Obama's speech on race addressing his relationship with his church and his pastor's racial comments – in addition to the spatial realities, the conception of equinox is itself a paradox of time, in that it can only exist as an abstract moment, come then gone – or as Obama said in his speech, quoting William Faulkner, "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past."

Obama seems especially qualified to suit our interest in racial duality, or better yet, a post racial experience, because of his living with a split racial existence, he has personally experienced a transitional racial identity. The only sour note to his handling this matter seems to be the credibility of his responsiveness, as pointed out by Richard Cohen of the Washington Post. You must decide whether his message transcends belief in his purpose to disengage himself from racial remarks and campaign fortunes, whether it is simply political in the sense of self serving.

The speech itself was impressive. He called the Reverend Wright's views "…a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam. "

He also used this to point towards his support for Israel, which may also have previously left some doubts as well, calling his church experience "…the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion's den, Ezekiel's field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black…"

And discounted the Reverend's remarks as part and parcel of "…in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America."

He won points for describing the duality of divisiveness and racial antagonism coming from the prejudices and fears of all races, coloring, (no pun intended), their expressions of economic reality, and aspirations for survival and well being. He embraced a black racial experience, while holding to the values of humanity and forgiveness on each side of the historical divide – that is quite an accomplishment. He finally embraced the pastor based on his goodness and humanness, frail though its expression may be, but clearly that it is personal and just: "…As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me."

He reflected the family of white and black in his symbolic equality, aspirant and destructive, each in its own racial perspective and often hidden resentments. It was more an American sermon than a pure political speech, and it seems to reach out beyond the choir of supporters.

As he said, "…embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past."

* Technically, due to the alignment of the sun as centered on the equator, and the arc between it and the horizon, and light refraction, a complication of the sphere of the earth being projected upon by an apparent disc of light rather than a point of sunlight (lets just confess that it's a complicated physical, and physics, reality), the actual equality of daylight and night only occurs at positions about 7 degrees to the side of the equator, and it occurs a couple days preceding the vernal Equinox.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama Speech Today - "A More Perfect Union"

As Prepared for Delivery...

"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union."

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

To read the entire speech or listen to the video here is a link to the Obama website:

Obama to Give Speech on Racial Issues

In Philadelphia today at 10:15 AM, Senator Barack Obama will give a speech that could wind up being one of the most important speeches in his career and certainly of his campaign for President of the United States. will stream the speech live.

Reuters has a good article on this upcoming speech:

We will try to find a video of the speech to post later on the site.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pakistan Parliament Meets Today

The status of the government in Pakistan remains in a state of flux as the new Parliament convenes today. Here is a good read on the present situation by

Opposition parties, the PPL (Bhutto) and PML-N (Sharif) have come together with hopes to influence the vote in Parliament and the direction of Pakistan.

A Prime Minister will be elected and action will be taken to attempt a reinstatement of the Judges removed by President Musharraf when he suspended the constitution. The outcome of both of these actions will impact heavily on the fate of Musharraf. It was widely speculated that the Supreme Court Justices, prior to their removal, were set to issue a ruling that would have in effect nullified Musharraf's reelection as president.

The U.S. Bush administration continues to hold out hope that some sort of coalition government that includes Musharraf can be achieved with a power sharing agreement. President Musharraf of Pakistan, a country with nuclear missiles, has been an ally of the U.S. in the fight against Al Qaeda and terrorism.

Confronting the Housing meltdown & Calling for Action against the Governor’s DNA bill

Guy Djoken

On July 11 the NAACP filed a Federal class action lawsuit against fourteen of the country's largest sub prime mortgage lenders. The lawsuit is designed to bring about equitable lending practices that do not adversely affect borrowers based on their race. In a 2006 study, the Center for Responsible Lending found that when creditworthiness and credit risk were equal, African-Americans were still 31 percent to 34 percent more likely to receive higher rates and more expensive sub prime loans than Caucasians.

After months of hard work by the NAACP's legal team, the NAACP has generated serious momentum in the class action lawsuit against the biggest offenders.

Last week, the Los Angeles Federal Court fast tracked the lawsuit against the 18 mortgage firms that have disproportionately targeted minority homeowners for predatory loans. This victory could not have come soon enough for homeowners who are facing an unstable economy and a declining mortgage market.

While there are currently efforts underway by the government and the mortgage industry to reduce the impact of these sub prime loans, none of the remedies go far enough to protect minority homeowners who bear an unfair share of the financial burden. The NAACP legal team's victory in expediting the lawsuit brings us one step closer to justice for minority homeowners who are trapped by the unfair distribution of sub prime loans.

At the state level, the Frederick County Branch of the NAACP is joining the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP to express their strong objection and vehement opposition to the Governor's DNA bill:

The FUNDAMENTAL CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION of the bill is that is the warrant less seizure of DNA from innocent persons. Governor O'Malley recent proposed amendments DO NOT ADDRESS THE FUNDAMENTAL CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION of stockpiling the DNA of primarily the African American and Latino communities in a permanent database that will forever brand these communities as criminal suspects.

The most important changes to the bill requested by the Legislative Black Caucus, the NAACP and other civil rights organizations were rejected. Expansion of sample collection to all those arrested for a felony will further exacerbate the racial bias of the criminal justice system. The Department of Justice reports that nonwhite are arrested at nearly three times the rate of whites. The house is scheduled to vote on the bill as amended by the House Judiciary in room 145 House Office Building at 4:15pm today, MONDAY 3/17. We are urging people to gather outside room 145 to call on the Legislative Black Caucus to continue to oppose the bill.

Guy Djoken is President, Frederick County, Maryland Branch NAACP

Our Poll Results on Do-Over Primaries

Last week we asked "Should Dems hold do-over primaries in Michigan and Florida"? The results were Yes - 55%, No - 36%, Undecided - 9%.

*The polls conducted on our site are not scientific and are based on responses from viewers who choose to participate.

The news being reported so far indicates the re-do primary in Florida is still a work in progress. The vote by mail scenario appears to be failing for a variety of reasons. One being the inability to verify signatures. The state legislature also will need to approve a revote. There is plenty of momentum but a lack of direction at the moment - the best bet would be a re-do with state certification and the state being reimbursed for the cost.

The latter is what seems to be moving forward in Michigan where they appear to be heading for a re-do primary in early June.

Here is a good read entitled "Dem Convention needs Fla. and Mich."