Democrats Face Off in Crucial Debate for Clinton

by Mara Liasson and Robert Siegel

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February 26, 2008 · Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has lost 11 nominating contests in a row, and even her husband has said the New York senator's candidacy could be over if she loses in Texas and Ohio next week. That makes Tuesday night's debate between Clinton and her rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, more important than ever.

NPR's national political correspondent, Mara Liasson, talks to Robert Siegel about what to expect from the debate in Cleveland. A transcript follows:

Siegel: In tonight's debate, it's hard for me to ask you what Sen. Clinton needs to do because she seems to have tried to do everything already. What do you expect to happen tonight?

Liasson: Well, I think it would be fair to expect that she will continue some of the many lines of attack that she's tried out against Sen. Obama on the campaign trail in recent days. She's said he's not ready to be commander in chief; that he's naive in his foreign policy; he's hypocritical in his campaign tactics.

But in the last debate, we expected some of those too, and she came off as very collegial, very reflective at the end. Some people thought it was almost a concession when she said: No matter what happens, I'll be fine. But I think one of the most important things she's tried to communicate to the voters and to her own supporters this week is that she is not giving up, she's still fighting, and I do expect we will see some of that fight tonight.

Let's say that she does very well in the debate and goes on to win in Ohio next week, or for that matter, in Ohio and Texas. Does she conceivably retake the lead?

It would be very hard for her to retake the lead in delegates, even if she wins Ohio and Texas. Let's look at the numbers. Because the Democrats give out their delegates on a proportional basis, if she won Ohio, for instance, 52 to 48, she'd only get five more delegates than Obama. If she won by 60-40, which would be an incredibly big —

It's a landslide.

Big landslide — she'd get 30 more delegates than him. In Texas, if she wins 55-45, which the polls don't suggest that she would do, she'd get 19 more than him.

So the point is that to get back in the lead, to become a true front-runner again in terms of delegates, she'd have to win very, very big. Her own campaign has said flatly, they have predicted that after March 4, they will be within 25 delegates of Obama.

And as of now, before the primaries in Texas and Ohio, the gap in delegates is about what?

Is a little bit less than 100 delegates, including superdelegates. He has 1,300-and-something and she has 1,200-and-something, depending on who's counting.

Now another wrinkle: Ohio is a straight primary, but Texas is a combination primary and caucus.

That's right. If you have voted in the primary, you are allowed to come back at night and participate in the caucus. Some of their delegates are given out through the caucuses; the rest of them are given out in the primaries. The other thing about Texas — very similar to states like Iowa — the delegates are awarded on state Senate districts, and the number of delegates that each of these districts get is based on the turnout of Democrats in the last general election.

So, districts that have a high turnout tend in Texas to be the African-American districts where Obama is expected to do well. They have a higher number of delegates to be awarded. In the districts that are highly Hispanic districts, where Sen. Clinton is expected to do well, they have fewer delegates because historically they have turned out in lower numbers.

And then the dimension of the caucus, if history is any guide here, would benefit Sen. Obama as well.

And she has complained bitterly about the caucus system being basically slanted against her kind of voters, who can't take two hours off from work.

Now, when you watch, say, tonight's Democratic debate, I want you to describe the experience of a political journalist. Because you're on the receiving end — you're not just watching the debate — you're on the receiving end of real-time, rapid-response e-mails.

That's right. In the old days, you had to go into the spin room after the debate to get this onslaught of opinion. But now it just kind of comes into your computer. And the minute Obama says something that the Clinton camp feels is not correct, they'll send you within seconds a list of fact-checks, and if she says something that they think is particularly wonderful, they'll immediately send out a headline that says "video moment of the debate" and they'll have a link to YouTube.

The other thing that we're getting now is we're not only getting e-mails from both campaigns furiously through the night, we're getting e-mails from the RNC — the Republican National Committee — slamming both candidates. Lately, they've been slamming Obama more. That just tells you who's in the lead.

This transcript has been edited for clarity.


In Major Poll, U.S. Religious Identity Appears Very Slippery

An article published on Tuesday, February 26, 2008 (Page A01) by Michelle Boorstein and Jacqueline L. Salmon both Washington Post Staff Writers states that a major survey released yesterday has shown that more than 40 percent of respondents told pollsters that they had changed their religious affiliation since childhood.

Tom Smith, director of a major sociological survey at the University of Chicago explains that "Some trends show there is less support for organized religion but either a steady or, by some measures, rising support for personal religious beliefs.”

It appears that many do not find their spiritual satisfaction in these organized religions of the west. Instead many are looking for alternatives such as Buddhist or even the Islam. However the group that has grown the most is made up of those who are unaffiliated, including people who call themselves atheist and agnostic.

Some contribute this disinterest in God to the current ever growing feeling of hopelessness and dissatisfaction with their lives.

As Anh Khochareun, a teacher's assistant from Manassas explains, "she was raised as a Buddhist in Vietnam, but she converted to Catholicism as a teenager after immigrating to this country. Now, she said, she and her husband don't identify with any denomination, and she is no longer sure that she believes in a God. We make our own faith," she said, "within what we can do for ourselves in our own lives right now."

In light of such research shouldn't we ask ourselves, what is the cause of this new trend?

Where is this new trend leading us?

Does this new trend possibly explain the motivation behind the suicidal actions of some radical Islamic groups who fear that the western influence will lead to a destruction of their faith?

A fear that is supported by an ever growing a moral emptiness and greed?

Maybe we all should take a long look at our own live, to determine what role does wealth and fame play in our life?


The Michelle Obama's controversial comments

I can't understand why people get so upset if an American is criticizes the United States.

What is criticism? The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition of 2000 defines criticism among other things as “a critical comment or judgment.”

A critical judgment is what has been missing in the United States of American for a long, long time. If people would have been more critical the image of our country would not be in shame.

And by saying that “for the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country because people are hungry for change” Michelle Obama did not say that she is unpatriotic rather she is saying that there have been many occasions where she as American has not felt as proud as she is feeling now.
To interpret her commands as being unpatriotic strengthens the sentiment
of theses people who are only responding in their typical, superficial and uncritical way or of these people who over analyze everything. At the same time, however, these people are overlooking the real meaning of Michelle Obama's words.

I wounder how many other Americans feel similar to
Michelle Obama?
How many are full of hope that politics may change and the voice of the people is being heard and have meaning again?

If people would have been more
critical of the Bush Government, we would not be in a war in Iraq. The United States would not have such a high deficit. And the United States would enjoy the respect people have been waiting for in anticipation for the last 8 years.


Exxon Oil Spill Case May Get Closure

You should also read the appalling story about the Exxon Oil Spill!

It took almost 20 years after the Valdez Wreck for justices to weigh in.

The Washington Post writes, “When a federal jury in Alaska in 1994 ordered Exxon to pay $5 billion to thousands of people who had their lives disrupted by the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill, an appeal of the nation's largest punitive damages award was inevitable.

But almost no one could have predicted the incredible round of legal ping-pong that only this month lands at the Supreme Court."

Continue reading this story here

This story shows how American corporate values have being dominated by greed and are dominating politics in the United States all the way to the Supreme Court. However, corporations have become so powerful that they are now almost untouchable. Such system thrives on the ability of the wealthiest to control and manipulate the system.

It is time that America returns to a true system of checks and balances. A system that is fair and just! A system where every one is equal regardless of how much money one has. A system where each person has an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic rights and liberties for all. However, justice requires the maximization of the total or average welfare across all relevant individuals. Something that has been missing in today's corporate world.

The people of this world are yawning for equality and justice!

Do the American really have the interests of Taiwan in mind or only their own interest?

In a report published on Sunday, February 24, 2008 by P. Parameswaran, AFP, it was stated that the successor of U.S. President George W. Bush “should move to beef up Taiwan's military and forge a bilateral free trade pact as part of a common agenda to mend souring tie.”

Moreover it was warned that “the current "broken dialogue" between the United States and Taiwan "increases the likelihood that what is now a dangerous situation will develop into an even more dangerous crisis.”

One should question here the interests of such a report. Do these “American experts” really have the interests of Taiwan in mind or only their own interest? I would suggest to be Vigilant and highly critical of such reports since Taiwan has been under the control of the USA for too long.

In my opinion, the United States of America is only supporting Taiwan because Taiwan is a strategic asset to the US-Military Strategy in this region. Moreover, the US weapon industry is interested in maintaining the“dangerous crisis” with China, so that the US weapon industry is able to sell more weapons to Taiwan. That's why” the State Department and Pentagon chiefs to announce[d] a new "common agenda" with Taiwan to boost the island's military capability, including anti-submarine warfare as well as air and missile defense.”

Why don’t we let Taiwan sort out their difference with China without the interference of the United States of America? I am sure that Taiwan is capable of making its own decisions and resolve any differences with China.

We should not tell Taiwan what is good or bad for them.
Taiwanese people are capable of deciding their own destiny.

Who says that an independent Taiwan would be happier and more prosperous than it is now? China and Taiwan are separated by a strait but they have more in common that the USA wants to admit. The United States is concerned over China's military buildup and wants to retain Taiwan as it's buffer. And Taiwan may be crushed between there two rivals.

Stop claiming that "Taiwan remains a potential international flash point for a great power war."


Extraordinary rendition

Extraordinary rendition is a term heart all over the news today.

After consistently denying that Britain had any role in America’s controversial “extraordinary rendition” flights, the government on Thursday admitted that two such flights did land on U.K. territory in 2002 for refueling. Foreign Secretary David Miliband apologized to MPs for the previous denials but insisted that they were made in “good faith.”

What is extraordinary rendition?

Human rights groups charge that extraordinary rendition is a violation of Article 3[2] of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), because suspects are taken to countries where torture during interrogation remains common, thus circumventing the protections the captives would enjoy in the United States or other nations who abide by the terms of UNCAT.

Its legality remains highly controversial, as the United States outlaws the use of torture (at least they claim they do) and the U.S. Constitution guarantees due process. Rendered suspects are denied due process because they are arrested without charges and deprived of legal counsel.

Although the procedure was developed by CIA officials in the mid-1990s who were trying to track down and dismantle militant Islamic organizations in the Middle East, particularly Al Qaeda.

However, does it make it right?

Let's pay more attention to what our government is doing, openly and secretly!

What is true about the McCain story?

”For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk” writes the New York Times in the article written by JIM RUTENBERG, MARILYN W. THOMPSON, DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and STEPHEN LABATON which was published on February 21, 2008.

When Arizona Senator John McCain ran for the first time for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers. Executive Editor Bill Keller of the New York Times had reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist’s client. However, the former McCain campaign associates said, that some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement.

Now Mr. McCain, 71 is denying that he had ever had a romantic relationship with the telecommunications lobbyist Vicki Iseman, 40. Some of her clients had business before the Senator Commerce Committee that McCain then chaired.

The McCain camp and the Republican Party also sent out fundraising appeals accusing the Times of a sleazy smear.

Doesn’t this sound like President Bush denying accusations by the median that President Bush was misleading the nation and the world prior to the Iraq war, which later turned out as being a true accusation?

Are we going to trust a man who might be a hero and looks as honest as Bush did prior the 2000 election?

Beware of the lies we have been exposed to over last eight years by the Republican Party. Don’t let Senator John McCain use his power and suppress the truth again!

Suppress the truth for the safety of the nation!

Doesn’t this sound familiar?


Six Questions on How the GOP Will Run Against Obama for John Brabender

BY Ken Silverstein
PUBLISHED February 12, 2008

in © The Harper's Magazine

Barack Obama doesn’t have the Democratic presidential nomination sewn up, but barring some very unexpected results tonight the odds seem to be moving in his favor. Obama has proved to be a formidable campaigner, as former frontrunner Hillary Clinton can testify. He’s smart, charismatic, inspiring and other than his ties to Antoin Rezko almost entirely untainted by scandal. So how does the GOP run against Obama if he does in fact secure the nomination? I asked that question of John Brabender, Chief Creative Officer and managing partner of BrabenderCox, a leading GOP media firm. His past and present clients include Senators Tom Coburn, David Vitter and Rick Santorum, as well as the Rudy Giuliani for President campaign.

1. Barack Obama has waged a strong campaign against Hillary Clinton. If he wins the nomination, would he be the favorite in the November general elections?

A cursory look at recent presidential elections suggests that the race this fall is going to be very close, regardless of who the nominees are, especially with no incumbent running. In 2000, we had roughly a tie and in 2004 the margin of victory was narrow. Barack Obama is a different type of candidate who brings a lot to the table in terms of electability. In a presidential race, the issues are somewhat secondary to leadership, hope and vision, which seem to be strong suits for Obama. The question becomes whether that’s enough to get him to the finish line against John McCain.

2. But how can a Republican candidate, presumably McCain, campaign against Obama? Unlike the case with Hillary Clinton, there aren’t a lot of negatives?

I watched Obama during the debates. Just like everyone else, I said, ‘This guy is good,’ but he also brings serious problems to the table. If you want to reduce political campaigns to marketing, Obama is a great new product with great packaging and people are anxious to try it, but they don’t yet know whether it’s a product they want to use over and over again. People know McCain. He is Coca-Cola. You might not always want a Coke, but you always know what it’s going to taste like and that it’s good when you’re thirsty. These are turbulent times and the safe pick might be the best pick. The race will be about Obama, not McCain, and we still don’t know a lot about Obama. At some point, he is going to have to defend a pretty liberal record in both the U.S. Senate and especially the Illinois Senate. He hasn’t had to do that in the Democratic primaries, but in a general election, his record could cause alarm to those in the middle. He has not gone through the rigors of a general election campaign, which is very different from a primary. He can say in a Democratic primary that he wants to sit down and talk to leaders in Iran, but Republicans and some in the middle hear that and cringe –are we just going to roll over for countries like Iran and let them build a nuclear bomb? I don’t want to diminish the fact that he is a different kind of candidate, but it’s too early to know whether Americans will see him as the right candidate at the right time.

3. Would Hillary Clinton be an easier opponent?

Yes. Hillary is a known entity with high unfavorables and she motivates the core Republican base. There’s not that same fear about Obama, but part of that is that the base knows so little about him. If you ask people what they think about Hillary, they’ll talk about her health care plan or her husband. If you ask about Obama, they say, ‘I don’t know much about him but I think he’s very charismatic.’ He’s had the luxury so far of being more like a TV personality than a candidate. When he walks into the room, he gives a powerful speech, Oprah is there and everyone waves signs, but at some point that is going to change. He was the underdog and underdogs often get a free pass, but after tonight, he is likely going to be the frontrunner. He’s a charismatic, attractive candidate, and would be formidable in November, but it would be a great mistake to think the general election would unfold like the primary race has so far, and to count out McCain.

4. If Hillary were the nominee, I would assume Republicans would hit her hard, but Obama doesn’t generate the same sort of animosity. How specifically do you run against him?

There are two ways to go after Obama, and you have to factor in McCain’s temperament here. He won’t personally go after Obama, nor will Obama personally go after him. The debates would be similar to the last Democratic debate—there will be strong disagreements, but it will be cordial. They’re not going to embrace each other, but it’s not going to be like the Bush-Gore debates from 2000. McCain will try to attack by making 1,000 small cuts; he’s a master at that. He’ll concentrate on the world we are in today. Russia is becoming an energy superpower, Iran seems to be on verge of getting a nuclear bomb, there’s Iraq, China, Islamic fundamentalists. Who’s going to be tough enough to deal with these threats: a guy whose only full terms were as a state senator from Illinois, or McCain, who has a lifetime of service to the country? That will be a long, drawn out comparison.

5. What’s the second tactic that will be used to run against Obama?

There will be efforts by Republicans in general, not by McCain himself, to say, ‘Wait a minute, do you understand just how liberal Obama is?’ I’m sure there’s been significant research done on his voting record in Illinois and in the U.S. Senate and that will be brought forward. McCain is in the middle of the road on the GOP side and Obama has been in lockstep with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. He hasn’t had to worry about that so far because during the Democratic nominating process, the most liberal Democrats are the ones who come out to vote, and his record will appeal to them. But in the general election, voters in battleground states like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania could view his liberal record differently.

6. What about the age factor? Does that hurt McCain?

Some people say McCain’s age will be a negative, but it might be one of his biggest assets. When they are side by side, Obama is going to look very young, maybe too young to be president. He’ll look like a kind young man and McCain will look like an elder statesman: That visual works to McCain’s advantage. The less sure Americans feel about their security, the more people will feel better about McCain. Obama has many appealing features, and in many ways, he’s what’s right about America. He shows that anyone can rise up if they’re smart enough and talented enough, but the question is whether he has the experience to lead the country in turbulent times. That’s a huge question mark. McCain is a PC and Obama is Mac. People like the look of Macs but there are a lot more PCs out there. McCain is an extremely safe choice for America and people may decide they can’t afford to do anything but make the safe choice


Hillary Clinton wants to bend the rules...

Although Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was declared the winner of the New Mexico caucuses, a Feb. 5 state that took its time tallying the results, she wants now that the delegates from Michigan, Florida caucuses are counted. Clinton wants to change the rules set and agreed on by Democratic National Committee (DNC) as well as by herself and Obama last summer, because she is running behind on the number of delegates.

The DNC penalized Michigan and Florida for moving their primaries to earlier dates in violation of party rules. Both states were stripped of their delegates, and the party’s presidential candidates signed a pledge not to campaign in either state. Florida lost 185 delegates; Michigan, 128. I guess Hillary Rodham Clinton was not present during this pledge!

Nonetheless, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign has pushed hard for both states’ delegations to be seated. Why? Because Clinton won Florida’s primary Jan. 29 and Michigan’s Jan. 15, but was the only candidate to appear on the Michigan ballot after the other candidates removed their names.

Well, how can you call this an election?

So, hey Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton, you can’t change the rules in the middle of a competition, Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton because you are behind!

Such actions have been taken by the current government (Bush ans co.) over the last seven years and we don’t want another president who bends the rules as it pleases, just to stay in power.


Larry King & Michelle Obama

Larry King carries an extended interview with Michelle Obama, covering a wide range of topics concerning the campaign, her family, and more. It gives you an inside into the next first lady.

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (born January 17, 1964), is an American lawyer and the wife of Illinois senator Barack Obama, a candidate for the 2008 Democratic Party nomination for United States President.
She met Barack Obama when they were the only two African Americans at their law firm and she was assigned to mentor him while he was a summer associate.
Barack and
Michelle Obama married in October 1992.They have two daughters, Malia Ann (born 1999) and Natasha (known as Sasha) (born 2001).


Oprah at UCLA

Oprah rouses the crowd at a Get Out The Vote Rally in Los Angeles. February 3, 2008.

"... we can feel the spirit and the energy and intelligence he (Obama) has brought already to this election process!..."
"....because he is brilliant.."
"... it's not about race or gender.."
" ... you can help us to change how the rest of the world sees us..."
"... we have won the struggle..."
"... and now we are vote our hearts and minds... and vote as we believe..."

Bush Unveils $3 Trillion Budget Proposal

President Bush unveiled a "tough-minded", $3 trillion (1 followed by 12 zeros: one million, million; 1012; written as 1 followed by 12 zeros =>1,000,000,000,000 US dollars) budget proposal for fiscal 2009 that would slice (cut) $14.2 billion from the growth of federal health-care programs, eliminate scores of programs and virtually freeze domestic spending -- but would still record a $407 billion budget deficit.

Among the programs Bush would eliminate are commodity price supports for farmers, research assistance to manufacturers, career and technical education grants, weatherization assistance, community development grants, graduate medical education at children's hospitals and a public housing revitalization program that the House just overwhelmingly reauthorized. (Well, is there anything left? Hey, why don't we cut the salary of the Republican Party? We could save a lot more there !)

As Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) noted in a statement, "The President proposes more of the same failed fiscal policies he has embraced throughout his time in office -- more deficit-financed war spending, more deficit-financed tax cuts tilted to benefit the wealthiest, and more borrowing from foreign nations like China and Japan. The result can only be the same -- a further explosion of debt and the undermining of our nation's economic security."

Oh help us god!
Where are we going to wind up if the government is continuing to spend our taxes and on top of it gives more to the wealthiest as well?

Please don’t elect another president who claims to have experience and the racks the budget to feed the wealthiest and takes it from the ones who need it most!

What about the ones who have worked all their life, paid taxes and social securities?
Are they going to get anything back?
I guess they are old now. They have done their duty and forget about them. Or maybe we deal with them like with an old horse and shoot them. Then there is not one who complains any more.


The debate

This was a splendid debate tonight again, although Sen. Barack Obama could have been a little stronger. However, that also showed that Obama will be a president who would restore the honor of the presidential position again. In other words, we will see a president who is more trustworthy and will really care about the people.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton also showed more restrained than before. However she never answered the question if she can restrain her husband, Bill Clinton.

Is Bill going to be the vice president, if Hillary gets elected?