Monday, April 28, 2008

Lincoln's First Inaugural Speech In 1861

Yes, I realize there is a presidential campaign going on today that is supposedly a grand epic contest. However, I continue to be engrossed in reading the archives recently provided to subscribers of the New York Times. As noted in my previous post, the New York Times has made available to their subscribers online access to articles dating back to 1851. Below is an excerpt from their March 4th, 1861 edition reporting about Abraham Lincoln's upcoming inaugural speech.
"The Inaugural will be found to treat the political crisis in a very positive, matter-of-fact manner. While the President will endeavor to conciliate the Slave States by the most positive assurances of the honesty and firmness of purpose of his Administration, he will in no manner evade the issue nor blink his policy.

He will in insist on the preservation of the Government in all its integrity. So decided is he in this connection that some of his friends have attempted to persuade him to tone it down. He replied that he had canvassed the subject throughly, and had matured his policy in accordance with his best judgment. The bold frankness of the document, which, by the way, is briefer than would be expected, will challenge the respect and confidence of the South, as well as the admiration of the North.

Mr. Lincoln stated this evening that the inaugural could not be printed, as some points might require modifying or extending, according to the action of the Senate tonight. His son is now writing copies of what is finished, one of which will be given to the Associated Press when he commences reading it.

Mr. Lincoln says nobody is authorized to speak for him as to the station assigned members of his Cabinet. He has not and will not give any one data on the subject."
Click here (subscription required) to read the entire article in PDF format. The article referenced how President Lincoln sent for Senator Seward, his former rival and future Secretary of State, who reviewed the speech and made suggestions.

How humorous to read about Lincoln's son drafting copies and only providing one draft for the Associated Press. Hardly the rapid news cycle we've become so accustomed to. It's also especially haunting to read this article knowing the bloody turmoil ahead. The gathering storm is certainly present in the excerpt above. Also referenced in the article was how a gentleman traveled incognito to Washington to present his credentials as Ambassador of the Southern Confederacy. And yet the tone of this article has a curious detachment from the metastasizing crisis that became the Civil War.

Assuming our planet and civilization survives, I wonder if 100 years from now people will review coverage of our current presidential campaign and find the emphasis oddly detached from reality. Global warming, predatory capitalism run amok and civilization itself in peril. A century from now will someone review the media's 2008 emphasis on celebrity hype and shallow symbolism and wonder how we could have been so detached from the perils confronting us?

Whatever. I just hope Barack Obama starts wearing flag pins and learns to bowl.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

February 13th, 1861

My apologies for not posting in several days. Tomorrow, I'm taking an exam important to my profession and have used my spare time for studying. During study breaks I've indulged myself with the New York Times online archives. Sadly, the corporatist sensibilities that regulate so much of the media today also heavily influences the New York Times.

Nevertheless, one benefit to maintaining a subscription is free online access to their historical archives. Previously, subscribers could only access those archives dating back to 1980. However, in recent days the New York Times have made available online archives dating back to 1851! Below is an excerpt from their February 13th, 1861 coverage of the U.S. Congress officially certifying Abraham Lincoln's election as President by the Electoral College:
"The scene in the House was very impressive. Thousands of people were present filling every available spot. As many more left, being quite unable to reach the galleries. The arrangements for keeping the peace at the Capitol, and avoiding obstruction of the passage from one House to the other were perfect.

When the Senate entered the Hall of the House of Representatives, Vice-President Breckinridge took a seat with the speaker, and assumed the Chair. Senators Seward, Douglas and Lane occupied the centre seats of the front front row of Senators. From the moment the Senators took their seat and throughout the proceedings, the audience looked on with almost breathless interest and silence, appreciating fully the grave solemnity of the occasion, and the decorum belonging thereto. There were no manifestations of applause, disapprobation or uneasiness in the audience, and when the Vice-President had announced the result, and that Lincoln and Hamlin were elected, the vast audience, satisfied that the interesting event was consummated in peace arose silently and withdrew in an orderly manner from the chamber. Vice-President Breckinridge bore himself in the proceedings with marked dignity and courtesy."
The scene described in 1861 reads rather anti-climatic considering all the tumult to soon follow with the Civil War, Lincoln's assassination and Reconstruction. I would gladly copy and past the entire article for all of you but copyright law doesn't permit me. If you're a subscriber click here to read it all in PDF format. The article also contains other interesting dispatches nationwide including a Supreme Court case in which Kansas sought compensations for losses sustained during a pro-slavery demonstration.

To this point I'm especially engrossed by the Times coverage of Abraham Lincoln, slavery, the Abolitionist movement and the Civil War. Reading coverage from that period reinforces how far we've come. Indeed, Barack Obama is the likely nominee of the Democratic Party. And yet as the recent verdict in my home state regarding the Sean Bell shooting illustrates, we haven't come far enough.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I'm A Member of & A Terrible Bowler

As many of you know by now, The Huffington Post reported yesterday that Senator Clinton slammed the activist organization at a fundraiser in February:
“ endorsed [Sen. Barack Obama] -- which is like a gusher of money that never seems to slow down," Clinton said to a meeting of donors. "We have been less successful in caucuses because it brings out the activist base of the Democratic Party. MoveOn didn't even want us to go into Afghanistan. I mean, that's what we're dealing with. And you know they turn out in great numbers. And they are very driven by their view of our positions, and it's primarily national security and foreign policy that drives them. I don't agree with them. They know I don't agree with them. So they flood into these caucuses and dominate them and really intimidate people who actually show up to support me."
You can read their entire post by clicking here where audio of Senator Clinton’s remarks is also provided. I’m hardly the first blogger to post about this and surely won’t be the last. Many across the progressive blogosphere venting about Clinton’s rhetorical cluster bomb against the Democratic Party’s activist base are far more articulate than me. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to hit back on behalf of this movement I proudly call my own.

I first became aware of when they stood up for the Constitution and supported censure over impeachment during the Monica Lewinsky scandal a decade ago. I was delighted such a movement sprang from the toxic bile of Ken Starr’s witch-hunt. Do you remember Senator Clinton how we advocated for censure as a means of “moving on”?

We were your allies against the racist and misogynist “right wing conspiracy” represented by Richard Mellon Scaife that you now sit down with to exploit racial divisions. So to paraphrase James Carville, attacking us is “an act of betrayal” that resembles Judas. Anyway, that was the beginning of the netroots movement.

After 9/11 was an oasis in a dessert of reactionary enablers that included Hillary Clinton in the lead up to the Iraq War. Sadly, Clinton even echoed the administration’s lies about connections between Saddam Hussein and al quaeda! Not only did Clinton fail to read contrary arguments about weapons of mass destruction in the mere ninety page National Intelligence Estimate, she also on the Senate floor said this on October 10, 2002:
“He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001.”
Well, nice that Clinton said “apparently no evidence"about Saddman and 9/11 but she implied there might be and the rest of the statement was an outright lie. Yet the only contrition Clinton expressed for years was “if I only knew then what I know now” while her Senate colleagues from 2002 Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, John Edwards and John Kerry eventually redeemed themselves for their transgressions by honestly acknowledging their mistakes. Clinton couldn’t even do that until recently and yes that angered members like me.

Furthermore, Clinton lied about Moveon’s “opposition” to Afghanistan. Indeed she was echoing Karl Rove propaganda about the Democrats and Afghanistan. There was no organized opposition to America’s response in Afghanistan by Speaking for myself, I knew there had to be a military response to 9/11 but for damn sure I didn’t trust the Bush Administration to do it skillfully and retain the international community’s good will. And yes I worried about the loss of innocent life, largely women and children, who would lose their lives while nothing was accomplished. Sadly, that is what has come to pass. members are my brothers and sisters. Fellow patriots and activists mobilized to reverse America’s homicidal/suicidal foreign policy and grotesque erosion of civil liberties. They represent the core of the people powered social networking netroots movement determined to make America the best America it can be. It’s rather like a large extended virtual family that has moved beyond and is really a decentralized community. We coordinate to raise money, phone bank and canvass on behalf of causes larger than ourselves.

Like all families, individual members of and the netroots as a whole don’t always agree about tactics or which candidates to support. For example, I didn’t think the “Betraus” ad last fall was very smart. Previously, I had intense email debates with other bloggers about my support for John Edwards. I had posted a heartfelt endorsement of Edwards and some Obama supporters I enjoyed email correspondences with over the years hit me hard.

On the bigger picture though we’re on the same side even as squabbles happen over how to best achieve the objectives we share. Once Edwards dropped out I put my disappointment aside because I sensed Obama’s candidacy better represented the sensibilities of this movement I’m a part of than Clinton.

I also hunger for our netroots movement to achieve critical mass beyond white liberal computer literate activists to better combine with organized labor and more effectively fight on behalf of wage earners. We're making substantial progress in that direction as the movement has grown so fast. And yet not fast enough. Hence, it’s easy to become frustrated.

But Moveon’s movement is my movement and I’m in it for the long haul no matter what happens in 2008. The netroots people powered movement is fighting to take the Democratic Party from predatory moneylenders, warmongers and corporatists and push our country towards progressive reform. A tough ongoing struggle waged against powerful interests.

These interests include the incestuous relationship between the corporate media and the military industrial complex as exists between NBC and General Electric. And if you think the recent performance of moderators Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous during the Clinton/Obama debate and the perverse reactionary values of ABC’s parent company Walt Disney are a coincidence, I have bridge in my hometown of Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

Senator Clinton’s whining about activists like myself who are informed, passionate and motivated to fight the madness that war mongering enablers like her supported is quite revealing. Her whining about funds raised online “like a gusher of money that never seems to slow down," is even more revealing. Clinton receives contributions by the banks and credit card companies “like a gusher” and supported predatory bankruptcy legislation in 2001. Big money contributors that support Senator Clinton benefit from laws that destroy the lives of families on the financial abyss whenever a loved one suffers from an expensive medical calamity.’s money doesn’t come from insurance companies, HMOs, Halliburton, Bechtel, BlackWater USA, K-Street lobbyists, banks, credit card companies or other war mongering corporatist predators. Hence, this “gusher of money” is beyond the comprehension of Clinton and Washington insiders such as James Carville. This money comes from regular folks giving what they can even as we too struggle with our groceries bill, energy costs and mortgages. Yet they call us elitists?

There is also the lie about our “intimidating” her supporters at caucuses. Listen up: I subscribe to something Howard Dean has said many times, that it would be far better for this country to have 100% voter turnout even if Republicans win. I’ve registered all kinds of people to vote who don’t share my beliefs and so have many dedicated activists who also belong to and make our voices heard in the progressive blogosphere.

I don’t own a gun or attend religious services. Nor do I wear a flag pin. Neither does military veteran and Virginia Senator James Webb. I’m also not a good bowler. Admittedly, I am “bitter” about the direction of my country. But I’m as good an American as you are Senator Clinton. And yes I’m a member of and will give another $25 to Senator Obama today. Anyone care to join me and help raise money like a gusher? If so, click here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

ABC News Is Insipid and Elitist

This post is a short and angry rant. ABC News debate moderators Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous were a disgrace this evening. Remember when Obama/Clinton debated health care for fifteen minutes prior to their contests in Ohio and Texas? There wasn't a single question about health care this evening. Over forty minutes had to pass before Iraq and Afghanistan were even mentioned. And of course not a single question about the Bush Administration's latest disgrace on torture. Nor did most of the debate address specifics about our collapsing economy such as the housing crisis, credit crunch, globalization and free trade. Overall, this evening's debate was a display of insipid futility. Apparently, ABC News believes a vacuous tabloid oriented debate is what voters really want. I'm disgusted and have nothing else to say.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Keeping It Real

Obama is getting pounded in the media to the point of absurdity about his remarks at a San Francisco fundraiser last week. Clinton is attempting to squeeze as much juice out of this orange as possible. Unlike other Obama supporters I'm not gnashing my teeth about Clinton's tactics. Politics is a contact sport and the Clintons play the game hard. Republicans will play even rougher this November. Obama's campaign needs to learn how to regain the initiative when his comments are unfairly distorted.

My sense is that Obama like most politicians spoke to the sensibilities of his audience last week. And in San Francisco those sensibilities belonged to classic limousine liberals. Politics today however is very different. What is seemingly spoken in private to one group will soon by heard by all. An important lesson he should never forget.

Obama's responded well to the incoming fire so far. Clinton's inauthentic embrace of gun culture was an overreach. McCain of course with his pro-corporatist sympathies is beyond hypocritical when calling Obama an elitist. In the YouTube below Obama fires back at Clinton and McCain, while acknowledging his semantic errors and attempts to refocus the campaign dialog about people who are struggling. The media today has mostly portrayed Obama's response as a single sound bite of him uttering the word "shame" about Clinton. So, as an Obama supporter, I'll provide more than a mere sound bite. Thank goodness for YouTube.

Wisdom From Maryscott O'Connor

There has been a lot of silliness from Clinton and Obama supporters alike as we approach the Pennsylvania primary on April 22nd. One of my all time favorite bloggers and an Obama supporter like me, Maryscott O'Connor of My Left Wing, essentially spoke for me with her most recent post:
"It's a daunting task, bringing people out of their cushy soundbite bubbles -- but if we are ever to truly affect any meaningful changes, it will have to be done. And I respectfully suggest that neither bombastic rhetoric of the impending apocalyptic doom we face nor gentle, hopeful platitudes about the power of positive thinking will do the trick. Obama is not the new Messiah of the Left; neither is Clinton the anti-Christ of Conservative Centrism. Obama will not solve all our woes, nor will Clinton catapult us into a deeper abyss. Obama has my support and preference, but I have no illusions about him. He's not going to be the President of My Dreams. But Clinton wouldn't be the President of My Nightmares, either... that role has already been filled by the nutsack currently ensconced in the White House."
Click here to read the rest of Maryscott's trenchant post. On a personal note I was delighted to read Maryscott today. She's absorbed more than her share of personal adversity the past couple years. Most recently Maryscott was inactive on My Left Wing due to her mother's health problems and the passing of an uncle. Her voice and insights are much needed this presidential campaign. Welcome back Maryscott!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

McCain & Clinton Are Calling Obama An Elitist?

Senator Obama recently made the unremarkable observation that downscale working class voters are "bitter." People are losing their jobs, health benefits, pensions and homes so how could they not be bitter? Senator John McCain and his pseudo running mate, Senator Hillary Clinton have accused Obama of elitism for making this observation. Refer to the YouTube player below for Obama's response.

Enough said.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Crunch Time In America: An Interview With Economist Jared Bernstein

How many economists have you read or watched on television in recent years that claimed the economy was performing well while you struggled to make ends meet and keep up with the cost of living? Indeed, until recently a happy talk virus had infected a cabal of conservative plutocrats who preached the virtues of limited regulation, market forces and free trade as wages declined and predatory lenders had a party. It seemed we were hearing conservative politicians and their mouthpieces at the Heritage Foundation or Fox news refer to the economy as “the greatest story never told” at every opportunity.

Now that the housing and credit crisis has metastasized, conservative apparatchiks are fighting to minimize government intervention on behalf of regular folks while preserving corporate welfare. They accuse anyone who raises a fuss of waging class warfare. Instead these agents of the status quo prefer we erroneously obsess about Social Security going bust and agree to privatize it for Wall Street's benefit.

Thankfully, renowned economist and the director of the Living Standards Program for the Economic Policy Institute, Jared Bernstein is using his megaphone to fight the madness. With his new book, Crunch: Why Do I Feel So Squeezed? (And Other Economic Mysteries), Bernstein responds to dozens of questions asked by working Americans that relate to the dollars and cents concerns of real people. Bernstein who often appears as a commentator on CNBC wrote in the preface of his book that,
“I’m tired of being stuck in the studio engaging in rants with Darth Vaders with PhDs. Wouldn’t it be more useful to have an open-ended, rant-free dialogue with real, everyday people about their economic questions.”
With Crunch, Bernstein effectively validates the daily experience of working people struggling to keep up in a treadmill economy. He also adroitly writes with accessible prose and powerful anecdotes to both educate readers about economic nuances and empower them to influence politics in a more populist direction. Bernstein contends that the rich and powerful have as much influence on who benefits from the economy as the will of the market. He therefore hopes to inspire readers not to cede any more ground to the practitioners of hyper individualism at the expense of the American community.

One of the most memorable anecdotes in Bernstein’s book describes how Circuit City announced it planned to lay off 3,400 sales associates in the spring of 2007 in order to appease their shareholders. Bernstein utilized this anecdote to illustrate how corporate greed is both heartless and self-defeating:
“Talk about in-your face management. I can absolutely see why a firm whose stock was down by a third over the past year would decide to make some big changes. But unless your workforce is truly overpaid, replacing a big chunk of it with lower-paid workers is a recipe for lousier service, fewer sales, and lower profits. At the time, many predicted that after the initial jump, stock prices would sink further. We were wrong, though. They never got that initial bump, and the stock just kept sliding, down 15 percent a few months later (while the overall stock market was up strong).”
It’s that kind of prose that led former North Carolina Senator and populist presidential candidate John Edwards to issue the following praise:
“Jared Bernstein’s new book is a must read for everyone who cares about restoring economic fairness in an America with the greatest income inequality since the Great Depression. Drawing on everyday examples, Crunch is an accessible explanation of economic principles presented with equal parts of insight, humor, and stimulation. In the process, Bernstein explains how we got to where we are, what to do to fix it, and why fighting for a fair society is so important.”
An expert on issues of labor and income inequality, he frequently testifies on Capitol Hill. Bernstein is also the co-author of eight editions of The State of Working America and he posts frequently on Josh Marshall’s blog, TPM Café. Longtime readers/listeners of the Intrepid Liberal Journal may recall an interview he did for this blog after his book, All Together Now: Common Sense For A Fair Economy was published in 2006.

Bernstein agreed to a podcast interview over the telephone about his current book and the current challenges confronting the American economy. Our conversation was approximately forty-eight minutes and among the issues covered includes the housing and credit crisis, needed regulatory reform, healthcare, globalization, Social Security, America’s investment deficit and free trade. Please refer to the media player below.

This interview can also be accessed for free by searching for “Intrepid Liberal Journal” on Itunes.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The CIA Wants Me?

So are any of you receiving spam recruitment email from the CIA? Apparently, I am. Below is an email I received from the CIA on April 2nd. That includes the picture you see to the left of happy cool people. Has the CIA become so desperate that they're reduced to sending spam emails just like Viagra? Or maybe they're hoping to influence us crazy left wing bloggers by recruiting someone on the inside? Most likely they're just pathetically incompetent. Osama Bin Laden continues to elude them so they try recruiting anti-war bloggers like me with spam email?

According to the disclaimer at the bottom, my email address "has been verified to receive online promotions and offers from one of our affiliates." Let's see which one of these sneaky affiliates could they be? Recently my cousin had a baby and I ordered flowers online. Could 1-800-Flowers be an affiliate of the CIA? Anyway, read they're lovely email to me below and have a laugh.

Our mission depends on different views. Because nothing in the world is the same.
At the Central Intelligence Agency, diversity is our strength, and a mission imperative in an ever-changing world. Find out the difference you can make for the nation in one of a wide variety of career opportunities, such as:

* Analytical Positions
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The Truth About CIA Opportunities
Some people believe that choosing a career with the CIA means they'll never see their friends and family again. Or, that they'll never make it through our stringent security clearance process unless their background is stellar. Though some of our roles do require a great deal of tact and confidentiality, these myths do not reflect what life is truly like at the CIA. The fact is, we offer a wide range of opportunities that make an important contribution to the security of our nation - from Administrative roles, to Science and Technology, to information Analysis, to Languages, to Clandestine. So, you can participate in any number of professional areas and know that you're making a difference for America.

Diversity at the CIA
On the international stage, the CIA is the eyes and ears of America and, at times, its hidden hand. Collecting intelligence that matters. Providing relevant, timely and objective analysis. Preempting threats or achieving United States policy objectives at the direction of the President through covert means. All of these activities require a workforce that reflects the talent, values and demographics of our nation - the most diverse nation on the planet. It is through the contributions of the individual expertise, dedication, perspectives and cultures of all of our professionals that we are empowered to achieve our mission objectives. Your unique qualities can become one of our most valuable assets to ensure the national security of the United States and protect our American life and ideals.

The Agency's inclusive environment challenges every member of our work force to possess and maintain the highest level of personal and professional integrity; to work effectively with others as part of a team; to be innovative and take calculated risks; to adapt to an ever-changing environment; to take responsibility and be personally accountable for all that they do; and to continuously seek to improve themselves. So, while you're working with smart, focused people from all types of backgrounds, you are expected to expand your mind. Look deeper. Understand more. And realize your unlimited potential.

You can make your individuality work for you by joining the Central Intelligence Agency, in an environment that enables you to perform your best work on a united team committed to meeting today's and tomorrow's Intelligence challenges.

Learn more about our opportunities, or apply online. Please visit us at and click on the CIA Careers link.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Clinton Stands Tall On Gay Rights

As regular readers of this blog know, I don’t want Hillary Clinton to become my party’s nominee for president. She enabled President Bush’s illegal and immoral war in Iraq. Hell, she even echoed many of Bush's false arguments about al quaeda and Iraq. Both Clinton and John McCain are guilty of not reading a ninety page National Intelligence Estimate in 2002 which contained evidence undermining Bush's rational for war and we still don't know if Clinton learned from her mistake.

I’m also offended by the subtext of Clinton's efforts to persuade the super delegates that Barack Obama can’t win in November because he’s black. No matter how you slice it, that's what "he can't win" means.

However, I must give credit where it is due. Nedra Pickler reported in the Associated Press earlier this evening that Clinton promised to be a strong advocate for gay rights. Noting how both Massachusetts and New Jersey have expanded rights for gay couples, Clinton said,
"and the federal government should recognize that and should extend the same access to federal benefits across the board. I will very much work to achieve that.”
Clinton also deserves credit for making a point of opposing a measure in Pennsylvania to ban gay marriage. Keep in mind that Clinton’s core constituency in Pennsylvania is older more culturally conservative working class voters and their high stakes primary is just nineteen days away. Nevertheless, the Associated Press quoted Clinton as saying,
“I would be very distressed if Pennsylvania were to adopt that kind of mean-spirited referendum and I hope it won't happen,"
I was especially gratified that Clinton told the Associated Press she would be “very strongly outspoken” against foreign governments that execute gays and use America’s economic and diplomatic leverage to prevent such atrocities. As I wrote in a post two years ago, gay rights are human rights. To believe anything else is immoral. Clinton assertively putting this issue front and center is a reminder of why I vote Democrat.

I remain a Barack Obama supporter. However, if Clinton can be a positive voice of conscious on such issues and in turn constructively push Obama, then perhaps she can earn back a measure of good will. Sadly, it’s impossible to reconcile someone who is so passionate advocating for gay rights while simultaneously telling skittish inside the beltway white elitists that America isn’t ready for a black president.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Warning: This Is A Horserace Post

My apologies for not posting anything new these past couple weeks. As with most of you, I’ve been following the “horserace.” Typically, I prefer to let others do horserace posts and focus on policy issues or insights about our society. Besides, there are plenty of quality horserace-oriented bloggers if that’s what you’re into as well as the punditocracy. But the stakes in the Clinton/Obama horserace are enormous and progressives are understandably preoccupied with it.

Two contrasting perspectives on the campaign today come from the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne and one of my favorite bloggers, Booman. Dionne writes,
“For all Democrats, the worst thing that has happened since January is the tarnishing of the Clinton brand. Clinton haters: Don't laugh. The truth is that when this whole thing began, the vast majority of Democrats -- including Obama supporters -- and a fair number of independents had largely positive views of Bill Clinton's record and Hillary Clinton's merits.”
In response Booman writes,
“To my way of thinking, the health and future of the Democratic Party (and, therefore, the nation) actually depends on the Clinton legacy being discredited and their brand tarnished. It's nice, and valuable, for a party to have a president in the somewhat recent past that they can point to as a positive example. For the Republicans, the cult of Ronald Reagan is more than an example; it is a recruitment strength and an ideological rallying cry. But Ronald Reagan didn't get impeached. Ronald Reagan didn't preside over huge congressional losses for his party. Ronald Reagan's presidency was validated by the election of his vice-president as a successor, not rejected in favor of a chimpanzee.

But more to the point, Obama keeps saying that he wants 'to change the mindset that got us into the war' in Iraq. A prerequisite for that, is that Democrats revise their opinion of Clinton's foreign policy. The Clintons spent the 1990's feeding us trumped up intelligence about the dangers of Saddam Hussein as a way to maintain domestic and international support for the sanctions, for an aborted coup attempt in 1996, for the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, and for the bombing of Iraq at various points throughout the decade. The Bushies then took that falsified intelligence and used it to justify the invasion and five-year occupation of Iraq. ‘"Even the Clinton administration thought he had WMD.’

Domestic affairs are a more mixed bag. Clinton did cut through some ossified liberal dogma, but the overall effect of his New Democrat policies was to complete the destruction of the party in the South, badly weaken the party in the Plains states and Interior West, and freeze the Democratic momentum in the suburbs. The Clinton presidency was partly successful because of a booming economy and relative peace, but we should never forget that he squandered the peace dividend and kept the country on a permanent war-budget footing.”
Booman is also one of many bloggers and growing chorus of Democrats agitating for Clinton to end her campaign. I definitely agree with Booman’s assessment of the Clinton brand and their culpability on foreign policy. Furthermore, I agree with progressive bloggers such as Booman that the Clinton campaign has been a graceless and joyless exercise of bottom feeding.

Clinton’s rhetorical grenades and race baiting grates Obama supporters. Her negative tone is especially off putting because Clinton doesn’t have a realistic shot at the nomination anyway. Hell, at one point Clinton even claimed McCain was qualified to be commander and chief and implied that Obama wasn't. Is she a Democrat or John McCain’s running mate?

Nonetheless, I hope Clinton continues in the race. In my opinion, Democrats are overly skittish about blowback this November from the drama of the primaries. This has been healthy for the Democratic Party’s eventual nominee. Obama needed to weather some adversity and be tested by a win at all costs opponent.

As the cliché goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and Obama’s national standing is fine. I’m not troubled by the tightness between Obama and McCain right now. Once he becomes the official standard bearer Obama will be in a very strong position to compete with McCain for independent voters. Most independents don’t want to elect a third Republican term.

In the meantime, the Clinton-Obama race has contributed to needed party building in every region. That is an essential component to Howard Dean’s fifty-state strategy which the Obama campaign organization has embraced while the Clintonites play with an outdated and static map. Even better, Obama has been compelled to campaign for older downscale working class voters because of the upcoming Pennsylvania primary. This is a constituency he’ll need to persuade this November anyway. So, as an Obama supporter I have no problem with the contest continuing. Competition and rigorous debate is good.

My problem is that the debate has not been rigorous enough about high stakes issues such as global warming, addressing national poverty and standing up for civil liberties. Instead both candidates are wrapped up in their intense personal drama. It seems Obama wants to elevate the conversation as he did with his response to the Reverend Wright controversy. But neither the media, wealthy corporatist Democratic Party donors or Senator Clinton herself believe an elevated debate is in their interest. Too often the Obama campaign has taken Clinton's bottom feeding bait.

At this point Senator Obama should ignore Senator Clinton and not allow her campaign to debase his message. It’s counter-intuitive to ignore a rival candidate’s rhetorical bombast. But Senator Clinton has crossed the George W. Bush credibility threshold in recent days. Everything she says is viewed through the prism of suspicion and disbelief. Hence, her critique of Obama is no longer effective. Obama therefore has the luxury to tweak his general election message and avoid further alienating Clinton’s supporters.

Clinton can best serve her own legacy, the party and nation if she aims for a higher tone, pushes Obama on issues such as healthcare as she has throughout the campaign and the metastasizing credit crisis. Unfortunately, she's chosen bottom feeding over honor.

Can you just imagine what position Clinton would be in today if she had seized the moment following the Reverent Wright controversy in a positive way? Obama was struggling before delivering his tour de force and Clinton had an opportunity to fill the void. But she was cautious and let the moment pass. Then following Clinton’s own controversy about her so-called dangerous mission in Bosnia, she opted to exploit white resentment and fear. Sadly, those ends justify the means tactics is a window into the kind of president she would be. Thankfully though, Clinton has strengthened and enhanced Obama's candidacy in spite of her cynicism.