Setting the Record Straight


Senator Racist Bites the Dust

Shed No Tears For Senator No 

           We shed no tears here at the news Jesse Helms has died. We had no choice but to cover the antics of this born, raised and died racist throughout his 30 years in the Senate.

            For his personal legacy, you have to go abroad to The Guardian for the best obituary.

            But Helms also used and twisted the parliamentary system of the Senate not for the good of the country, but to win with his own narrow, mean, minority view of how the country should be run, to suit the view of him and his fellow racists.

            The Helms legacy lives on in the Senate today as the minority uses the system he helped bring about to block the current one-vote majority from getting anything done, then putting out press releases and talking on TV about how the Democrats don’t do anything.

            Helms didn’t invent use of the filibuster as an effective tool to block legislation you don’t like but don’t have enough support to defeat by voting. But his twisted use of it led to the situation we have today.

            You’ve heard about that three-fifths vote (60) the Senate needs to take up any piece of controversial legislation.

            That replaced the filibuster in which a senator is recognized to speak and refuses to yield the floor, as is his right. But to keep the floor, as you’ve no doubt seen in many old films, the senator must keep talking and not sit down, or he can yield to a supporter for comment without yielding control of the floor.

            The filibuster was used to great effect by Helms’s predecessors, the racists senators who fought against the Civil Rights Act and similar groundbreaking and long-overdue legislation in the 1960s.

            The only way the Senate can shut off the filibuster is, after a set number of days, to file a cloture petition and after a certain amount of time, take a vote, with three-fifths of the full Senate needed to stop the filibuster.

            Helms used the filibuster so much to obstruct Senate proceedings, the mere mention he would stage one would lead the Senate majority leader to suspend the issue on the floor and turn to some other matter so the body could carry on with its business of governing.

            Thus, we no longer have filibusters, but the Senate must still have that three-fifths vote to override obstructionists and get on with the business at hand. And that is why a closely divided Senate such as the one we have now is unable to do much. Thanks a lot, Jesse.



Obama and Old, Old Politics

Not the Change His Voters Wanted



          Barack Obama’s decision to eschew public financing for the general election is disappointing at best, hypocritical at worst. We are fairly certain this is not the type of “change” his support- ers thought they were voting for during the primaries.
          The type of change they thought they were voting for was the type that followed the corrupt years of the Nixon administra- tion and its Watergate scandal that led in part to several cam- paign-funding reforms enacted into law beginning in 1974.
          We hope Obama’s decision is not some sort of old-politics manipulation to box John McCain into a corner, knowing his name is on the McCain-Feingold bill enacted into law six years ago to make several campaign reforms, i.e., plug loopholes found in those 1970s laws.
          McCain, of course, cannot risk the obvious hypocrisy of violating even the spirit of the campaign reforms since his name is on a key element of them, thus his immediate declaration he would accept public financing, Obama’s decision notwithstand- ing.
          Even in legitimate news media, there is likely to be a big brouhaha about Obama’s decision (let’s hope it is too compli- cated to deal with in the usual stupid and silly manner of tabloid cable—not). So here is why this it important, and hypocritical of Obama.
          In 1974, the same year Richard Nixon became the only president to give up the office and leave, or else be kicked out as he assuredly would have been, Congress enacted new election reforms to fix some of the glaring campaign funding abuses uncovered as part of the Watergate investigations.
          One law created the current Federal Election Commission and established a system for public funding for political parties during the general election, a sincere effort to end the rampant skullduggery inevitably attached to gathering campaign contribu- tions. But the candidates could have that public funding only if they agreed to limit the amount they spend on the election and on the contributions they receive as matching funds.
          The restrictions were challenged and the Supreme Court ruled in 1976 against other spending restrictions in the law, but upheld the constitutionality of the ones applied to candidates ac- ceptance of public funding. If they refuse to accept public fund- ing, the court said, their spending cannot be restricted. A few months later, Congress adjusted the law to comply, and that is what that little $1 box on the annual 1040 income tax form is all about.
          Until Obama, all candidates in the general election, even Ronald Reagan, even George W. Bush, have accepted public financing, even if they had eschewed it during the primaries.
          By refusing to accept public financing and thus have no restrictions on the amount of campaign money he can spend, Obama not only is reverting to the old politics he complained about during the primaries, he is practicing the old, old politics of the infamous Nixon years, politics almost as old as Obama is.
          He added to the hypocrisy by making his decision to es- chew federal matching funds less than a year after he vowed to work with his Republican counterpart to “preserve a publicly fi- nanced general election.” Discussions were held among lawyers for both camps recently to try to work out such an agreement, but they fell through.



Ignorant America Goes to the Polls

Is Our Past to be Our Prologue Again?



          An increasingly ignorant America (well, maybe half of Americans if we’re lucky, or unlucky) will go to the polls Nov. 8 to choose its next presi-dent. As we are learning with the current gas crisis and as we appear to be learning too late from the foolish Iraq invasion, history and its mistakes are repeated because we are ignorant.
          Our ignorance keeps getting us into trouble that easily could have been avoided. As a small example, although this year’s floods in the Mid-west are unusually extreme, they have occurred every year for decades and we have heard or read the same heart-rending stories every year right on schedule. No one seem to learn that rivers do flood.
         The mantra of this site is the quote from the American philosopher of 100 years ago, George Santayana:
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That is particularly a problem when you have an electorate that is ignorant of the past, much less unable to remember it.
          With all of the information at our fingertips these days, with access to minute-by-minute news from around the world, why do we fail to pay at-tention to what happened in the past and end up repeating its mistakes?
          The current gas crisis, which is driving up inflation and deepening a recession, twin ills afflicting millions, could easily have been avoided by paying attention to what happened in the 1970s. Up until that decade, ex-cept for interruptions by a couple of world wars, the price of fuel had re-mained constant since the stuff was first pulled from the ground.
          The crisis drove prices skyward, led to a shortage of gas and prompted our first serious consideration of alternative fuel sources. Pro-grams were put in place to conserve fuel. Congress imposed a 55-mile-per-hour national speed limit still in place today (although in a somewhat loosened form. The limit was imposed because 50 mph was determined to be the most fuel-efficient speed for a car to travel (It was set at 55 to satisfy the pleas of truckers).
          As Santayana had warned, in this instanceAmericans began to forget about the oil crisis of the 70s and began buying bigger and bigger cars, with pickup trucks becoming the first fad and then sports utility vehicles, all of them gas-guzzlers with a design and designation that freed automakers from fleet-average mileage requirements. The automakers fought against in-creased mileage requirements as they changed small-car production lines over to producing more-profitable pickups and SUVs. Foreign auto-makers also produced the gas guzzler, but never abandoned their fuel-efficient lines.
          As the American time machine groaned on through the 90s and the turn of the century, we became complacent and all the concerns about conserving fuel, finding alternative sources, etc., became lost in the minds of the public.
          Look as us now—right back where we were in the 1970. Auto- makers, American ones almost on their mismanagement death bed, are scrambling to get back to small cars and we are looking once again at the long-forgotten issue of alternative fuel sources. Luckily, we got a bit of a head start on those alternatives, not because of high fuel prices, but be-cause environmental concerns.
          In Vietnam, we learned our military’s reliance on superior weapons, particularly those that can be fired at an unseen enemy, were not be useful in a ground war against an enemy using guerrilla tactics. Ten years later we remembered that lesson and limited our brief war to drive Iraq out of Kuwait to air strikes. Taking over the country would have involved us in a ground war we learned from Vietnam we could not win.
          Then along came George W. Bush, playing the ever-faithful Mortimer Snerd to Dick Cheney’s Edgar Bergen, apparently deciding his father’s ad-ministration was wrong and he would correct it. We are now repeating the Vietnam mistake and are mired in a conflict that likely will have the same ignominious end.
          Who knows what a still-ignorant American public will allow our next president to blunder into. Fortunately, although the primaries may not have given us the best people for the job, they have given us two candidates who will return intelligence to the White House. The question remains, will either of them remember the past and avoid repeating American mistakes?




McCain’s Un-American Activities

McCain a Change? Not So Far



    Presidential candidates often paint themselves in shades of gray so they can attract the lowest common denominator eligible to vote. Often, this means obfuscating their positions on controversial subjects.

     Barack Obama, by being a freshman senator who has cam-paigned for president for most of his time in the U.S. Senate, has laid down little national record on which he can be judged.

     John McCain has done and said a lot, and much of it already is being closely examined. Obama has the luxury of pointing fingers at the opposition for taking positions he never had to take. John McCain does not. That situation is somewhat unbalanced, but those are the kinds of conflicts candidates have to face.

     One of these issues already has come home to haunt McCain. He paints a different picture, but the Supreme Court, the majority members of which were appointed by his own Republican Party, has rejected one of his major positions.

     McCain’s campaign site strangely uses only generalities about his efforts to combat terrorism. This immodesty is uncharacter-istic of a presidential candidate, and an examination of the issue and the Supreme Court’s take on it suggests why that is.

     Three years after the loony U.S. inva-sion of Iraq, McCain helped author the 2006 Military Commissions Act, which established procedures for denying “terrorist” detainees access to federal courts, i.e, the habeas corpus guarantee of the U.S. Constitution, the only right included in the body of the document (the rest were added as the Bill of Rights amendments). McCain and his Senate colleagues demonstrated no interest in another American standard, that a person is pre-sumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law.

     The usual argument in this case was the United States cannot afford to turn loose a terrorist and give him a chance to act again, so it had to take drastic actions. Under our legal system, judges quite often have been able to either deny bail or set bail so high it cannot be met by those charged with abominable crimes, so that is no argument.

     Despite the fact the deciding vote among 5-4 justices who struck down that law was cast by a justice appointed by Repub-licans, McCain denounced the decision as one of the worst in history.

     As McCain justifies the law, those being detained in Quantan-amo are “enemy combatants,” even before they have been adjud-icated by the U.S. court system to be so.

     One of the worst sins of the Bush administration has been the way it has chosen to combat terrorism, by abrogating the privacy rights of ordinary citizens and denying the guarantees of our U.S. Constitution, the finest example of democracy in the world, to citizens and aliens alike.

     If McCain wishes to paint himself as a presidential candidate who would not be a carbon copy of the one still in office, his failure to express a mea culpa for his role in Boumediene v Bush smeared that tint.

     And there is lots more fallout to come in correcting the Bush mess. How McCain responds to those corrections will be telling enough about how he would serve as president.



 Anti-Obama Hillary Voters: Are You Nuts?

          In the wake of Hillary Clinton’s announcement she would suspend her campaign and support Barack Obama all the way, came a spate of bitter pronouncements by alleged Clinton supporters they would vote for John McCain and not Obama.

          The voters who gave Clinton just short of half the delegates to the late-August Democratic Convention in Denver typically did not have a $2 million estate. They were not sexist, they did not benefit greatly from the Bush tax cut, they are beginning to suffer greatly from eight years of lax federal regulation, their health care in getting more expensive and harder to come by, it is getting harder to send their kids to college, their homes are not worth what they used to be, their sons and daughters are more likely to be serving, and dying, in vain in Iraq while neighbors in the ritzier suburb next door send their kids to binge-drink at a fraternity or sorority somewhere.

          Every American’s future rides on decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, the freedoms being taken away in the guise of fighting terrorism, a woman’s right to choose what happens inside her own body, the ability of the poor to get some help from the government when they need it, and the nation’s overwhelming problem of dealing with all of the ramifications of allowing widespread poverty to continue.

          All of those examples happen to be major differences between the leadership provided by Democrats and Republicans. Voters need to understand that Republicans vote for members of their party primarily to protect their money.

          In other words, any person who can identify with one of the above examples, and thus cast a vote for Clinton, would be voting against his or her own self-interest by voting for a Republican. Republicans have been doing this for four decades now, but why would a Democrat, much less a Clinton supporter?

          Racists who cannot bring themselves to vote for Obama because of his race never belonged in the Democratic Party in the first place.

          So what about the Clinton supporters who are not racist? What is their excuse?



What’s With the Hillary Hate?

This is a Family Value?

          Barack Obama will be just beginning to suffer the kind of hate-filled attacks that have beleagured Hillary Clinton for the past 16 years.
          Racism and sexism have been with us since the dawn of man, but one could more easily understand racism because it stems from xenophobia and almost always is directed at the local minority, whether it is African-Americans in the South, native-Americans in Minnesota or Mexican immigrants in the Southwest. Sexism is harder to understand since its roots cannot be traced to xenophobia.
          Stranger still is the hatred directed specifically at Clinton. It became vehement when she led the doomed fight to create national health insurance, a logical goal for the only country in the developed world without such a policy. But it has dogged her since and grew back to a vehement level in the current campaign, a vehemence that goes beyond the right-wing hatred of both Clintons. 
          We saw the ultimate use of this hatred of the Clinton family in the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton, but it continues in the hate e-mail flying around and blogs posted here and there without anyone stepping in to set the record straight.
          Early on, e-mails and blogs lifted selective quotes, labeled as “Marxist,” that she cited in speeches and writings. They are simply presented out of context to make it look as though they expressed her beliefs. Fortunately there is
Snopes and let us plug ourselves, StraightRecord.

          So what is behind this hate spread by people who identify with the party of “family values” and others?
          One explanation could be that both Clintons are highly intelligent and well-read people, whether you agree with their opinions or not. The anti-Hillary e-mails and blogs that go round and round with little correction are spread by far less-learned people and perhaps that is why they generally support someone of the opposite mien, i.e., the current President Bush.
          Even though women appear to be as well-represented among the Hillaryhaters as men, it could be they view a woman who appears to have a real shot at the presidency as “uppity,” that her place is in the kitchen. And many of the Hillaryhaters appear to harbor racist ideas as well, meaning that here in the 21st century they have not evolved along with most of the rest of the country.
          Or their problem could be something else entirely. It is a puzzle. Until they are able to explain it themselves in a literate manner and without relying on cliches, Fox-channel screaming and other unresearched statements passed around, how can we know.
          People of this persuasion form the basis of the idea Clinton is a divisive candidate and might be least likely among the Democratic candi- dates to draw the votes of the undecided needed to win the election, a feeling that probably ended up denying her the nomination.
          Clinton is vulnerable for her stances on many issues, to a lesser extent because of her iceberg personality and lack of hands-on experience, but she should not be vulnerable to attacks based solely on deep-seated hatred practiced by these strange and miserable people.



 Blow Up Your TV

      OK, the time has come. For the sake of the future of American politics, the people of this country need to blow up their TVs and get some source of legitimate and relevant news.

     Tabloid-cable has taken over so much of the public discourse with its in-your-face shouting back and forth that even the legitimate print media seems to believe it has to respond and report the same things.

      This foolishness about Hillary Clinton mentioning a couple of politics-shaking events in June as an explanation for not quitting a presidential race this soon is just the latest in a string of gotcha moments that have cluttered tabloid-cable (is there any other kind of cable news anymore?).     A few days later the tabloid-cable character assassination squad turned its guns on Barack Obama because he said his great-uncle had helped liberate the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, when it actually was at Buchenwald. That was an error that needed to be corrected, but it was not intentional nor devious and did not deserve to be blown out of proportion since the error did not change the point of his story.

     This character assassination by lifting statements out of context and misinterpreting intentions is not new. Look at Mitt Romney’s father who, as one wire service reported, misspoke by saying he was “brainwashed” by military leaders on a fact-finding trip to Vietnam when he meant he had received a “whitewash” presentation. That wire service led its George Romney story something more newsworthy. The competing wire service led with the “brainwash” statement without explanation and Romney was done for.

     But that incident was memorable because it was unique for the time. Now we are getting this type of trash reporting shoved in our faces every day. Is it harmful? You bet.

     Bubbas and sycophants have dominated this exceedingly long political season since day one. In addition to Bubbaism on tabloid cable, we had Barack Obama first gaining legitimacy because a bunch of Iowa sycophants saw him linked with TV star Oprah Winfrey.

     Candidates superior to the two eventual contestants for the Democratic nomination had to drop out before a single vote was cast in any state that came even close to reflecting the nation.

     Is any of this any way to elect a president? No wonder we got the Gingrich-Bush era and its trashing of America.

     If you want to see just how idiotic tabloid-cable is in its handling of the political contests, tune into the Jon Stewart show on Comedy Central. It’s daily montage of the screaming meemies of tabloid-cable exposes these fools for the fools they be.

     But they are allowed to keep their spot on the boob tube because fellow boobs are tuning in. Tune out and the advertisers will want someone else. Better yet, after you watch Jon Stewart, blow up your TV (with apologies to John Prine and his “Spanish Pipedream”).



 Introducing Bobby Jindal–A McCain Coup?         The speculation about who will be John McCain’s vice presidential candidate has begun. The New York Times reports that three possible candidates have been invited to McCain’s Phoenix place Memorial Day weekend.
          On the Times’ list were Mitt Romney, presumably there to assuage the right wing of the Republican Party, and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a political nobody on the national scene who presumably would be a generic sidekick unlikely to ruffle GOP feathers. It was the third name that interested us. As a reporter we spent many hours covering Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal over the course of just over a year when he was director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare.


          Jindal’s highest political achievement before that had been heading his native Louisiana’s health department at the age of 24. That is less surprising considering he finished high school at 16 and became a Rhodes scholar.
          His genius and abilities became clear over the course of the commission’s work, which was to assess the status of the Medicare system and recommend solutions to its financial problems lurking in the future. It took a genius to handle the super-egos of the commission members, a third of them members of Congress. He did so with aplomb and was able to massage a final report in 1999 that managed to balance all of the partisan tugs and pulls he faced.
          Through it all, he was a personable, helpful and available leader who astounded with his grasp of the issues and encyclopedic mind, a reminder of the high intelligence of fellow Rhodes scholar Bill Clinton. It is not Jindal’s fault the report, still considered the bible of Medicare, did not move to any great action by Congress and the administrations that followed. Nothing will be done long-term about either Medicare or Social Security because our system of government does not encourage long-term solutions.

           The selection of Jindal would be a political coup McCain badly needs. Jindal is a conservative Republican, but the stereotype ends there. He is a dark-skinned individual who surmounted politics in Louisiana, probably because he was born in 1971 in Baton Rouge of immigrants from India, which makes him less black but dark enough to make McCain’s candidacy less white against a Barack Obama challenger and one likely to help carry a state that helped give Obama the Democratic nomination. Jindal was not even old enough to serve as vice president two years ago, giving McCain some balance on the age issue that already dogs him and a counter to Obama’s youth.
          Jindal also brings an expertise to a GOP presidential candidate weak in the area of health care, which undoubtedly will emerge as one of the major issues of the fall campaign. Regardless of whether he makes McCain’s cut, keep an eye on this fellow.



 A Reporter’s View: Ted Kennedy: Maturation of a Senator

        The news that Ted Kennedy has a fatal malignant brain tumor is about to lead to a flood of eulogies about the man. He has been a Massachusetts senator since 1962. While none of the contributors to this site ( has covered Washington, much less Congress, quite that long, many of our reporting careers overlap his career.
          Here are some personal notes from one of us. 
          I have been concerned about Kennedy’s health for many years. He has been overweight to the point of obesity for more than a decade and barely able to take a breath.
          Quite often, Kennedy was one of several senators participating in a news conference about one thing or another. Invariably, he would take his turn at the lectern and then practically waddle over to the nearest seat. That usually meant he took a seat behind reporters sitting in the front row and several times that put him beside me. He would fall into the seat with a powerful sigh. He may not have remembered my name, but he recognized me as a regular of many decades, so he’d give me a friendly poke on the leg and as much of a smile he could muster between wheezes. My instinct was to nod and leave him alone as he caught his breath, but I usually wondered if he would survive the day.
          Reporters do form personal opinions about the people they cover. Readers never know what are the opinions of good reporters, because those opinions are never reflected in the news story. But we do judge people according to many criteria.
          In the early 70s, most of us correctly judged Kennedy as a light-weight. He gave little effort to being informed on the issues and relied heavily on his staff. His staff usually was the best in Congress because the Kennedy name attracted some of the best legislative and issue practitioners. Even then, Kennedy was a liberal, as is the rest of the Kennedy clan, yes even the wife of California’s celebrity governor.
          But, except for giving speeches, Kennedy was not good at his job. As reporters seeking information, we seek out the person who knows the answers and we hope that is the person in charge, the person holding the office. In Kennedy’s case in those years, it was not he, it as a staffer.
          Sitting down for a one-on-one interview with Kennedy or trying to get some substantive comments from him in a hallway or on the run used to be almost fruitless, except to get a quote from the man himself to put in the story. Sitting in his office, he would be surrounded by staffers whom he depended on to answer the questions put to him. Rarely would any of us even try to hold an in-depth discussion directly with him on the issues. He did not have a grasp of details. He was shallow.
          He was elected majority whip of the Senate in 1969 (the same year as the Chappaquiddick incident that will dog him to his grave, and he predictably was a failure at the job. The whip job requires a great deal of effort, making sure members of your party not only know how the majority leader wants them to vote, but knowing if the majority has the votes, including any from the minority, to pass an amendment of legislation. He clearly was not up to the job and was kicked out of it two years later.
          But over the years, we saw him mature and grow into the job. As he moved from subcommittee to committee chairmanships, he became more serious about the job as senator. He appeared to change after the fateful interview with Roger Mudd of CBS when he finally succumbed and entered the race for the Democratic nomination for president in 1979.
          Mudd, one of the few television network reporters who actually worked at the journalistic part of his job, was a jovial sort and not the type to ask a “gotcha question.” When he asked Kennedy in a one-on-one special interview why he wanted to be president, it was a softball question to get the interview started and set the stage for substantive questions to follow. Most of us begin an interview that way to soften up the interviewee. The toughest questions are saved until the end of the interview, in case the interviewee turns hostile and refuses to cooperate further.
          Other than running for president just because he was a Kennedy and could do so seriously, Ted Kennedy had no clue why he wanted to be president and stumbled through his answer, looking a lot like the current president.
          Whereas these days looking like a fool in an interview does not rule you out as a president, in those days it still did. His candidacy was over as quickly as it began. The same year, Kennedy became chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee simply because the job went, and still does, to the person who has been on the committee the longest.
          It is not clear whether the shock of coming off shallow in the pres- idential campaign or the huge responsibility in becoming chairman of what was then an almost-critical committee of Congress did the job, but Kennedy began to become a knowledgeable member of the Senate, well-versed in the issues before him and someone a reporter could question without having to rely on the senator’s staffers for informative answers.
          Sadly, that maturity began nearly two decades after he was first elected, but his longevity in the office has allowed him to emerge not only as one of the most liberal members of Congress, but one who can safely dare to claim the title “liberal.” Lately, it seems the more his fel- low liberals hide behind other labels and waffle on the issues, the more strident he becomes in speaking out for the cause.
          As the mantle of “statesman” is rarely worn in Congress these days, after Kennedy so will those strong enough to admit to being “liberal” be rare.



Can Obama Overcome Racism? 


           Early on in the long, hard slog of the presidential primaries, it was obvious this one was going to be unique. With nearly a year of campaigning, the Democratic Party’s selection came down to the decision of superdelegates. The jump of superdelegates to Obama’s side, as we said in another post, “Case for a Brokered Convention,” this may not have been a good idea.



          There was widespread fear in the party that dragging out the campaign between Obama and Hillary Clinton would tear the party apart, but nothing could be farther from the truth. John McCain struggled for the past several weeks to get any attention while all the news centered around the Obama-Clinton primary battles. News is just what it says–something that is new or unusual. McCain’s candidacy is neither, while the Democratic drama and the situation that fathered it remain news. Obviously, the latter got the ink.
          Getting this constant attention is good for the Democrats. It is almost like the old saying, allegedly by a bimbo actress: “I don’t care what you say about me as long as you spell my name right.” Any publicity is good publicity, and in this situation, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have been thoroughly vetted and already have taken far more heat than McCain can dish out, regardless of whether the Republican Party comes up with another Kevin Phillips, Lee Atwater or Karl Rove.
          Yes, Clinton supporters were upset and angry because their candidate did not win. But these two candidates respect each other, agree with each other 99 percent of the time and even like each other. For a long time, there was little doubt either would campaign vigorously for the other in the fall.
          As for Obama’s chances of winning in the fall? Take a look at the Boston Globe’s map of the primaries at the top of this post. That blue line of six states stretching from Louisiana through North Carolina and into the southern half of Virginia,  comprises a big chunk of Obama’s much-touted number of states won. He won those six states because only Democrats were casting the votes in a Democratic primary.

          It is sad to say this in 2008, but racism still exists in this country and racism still prevails in those six states, as it has since before and after the old-line Democrats switched parties in the aftermath of the civil rights victories of the 1960s. Obama’s chances of winning any of those states in a general election where a Republican majority will be casting votes are very slim. That is particularly true if McCain gets a boost from a new Phillips, Atwater or Rove. Perhaps 2012 or 2016 will be better years for Obama to run.
          Who wants to wager the superdelegates will not be considering the impact of an Obama fall campaign on that huge group of Electoral College votes?

          The Democratic Party’s cadre of superdelegates may be the best instrument it has if it wants to win the presidential election this fall. Those delegates would be well-advised to hang on to their convention vote instead of jumping on an Obama bandwagon now or paying off old debts to the Clintons.
          The superdelegates should take control of the party and overrule a highly flawed primary system if it they consider either candidate unelectable, for whatever reasons.
            The United States has come a long way in giving women and blacks something approaching equality with the ruling white males, but anyone with a realistic bone in his or her body has to acknowledge sexism and racism are still present in our society.
          Women, and thus Hillary Clinton as president, may be able to overcome the prejudice against a woman in the White House by their sheer numbers–a slight majority of the U.S. population, a large majority of the voters.
          But can blacks and a man of their race win a national election today? 
          Remember that map of the United States with states colored blue if they voted Democratic and red if they voted Republican? In 1964, the southern states would have been painted a solid blue (except Arizona, home state of the GOP candidate). Now the same states are quadrennially painted a solid red. What happened? Racism.
          That’s right. More than 40 years after the Civil Rights Act that singlehandedly changed the South from a swatch of blue to one of red, racism still abounds in the country. Racists and people with biases in that direction tend to vote Republican. And southern states vote Republican these days. All of the southern states voted for George W. Bush in the extremely tight 2000 election and have done so since the Democratic party and President Lyndon Johnson, an ironic Democratic son of the South, engineered the rights act.
          Yes, Obama won in those six southern states. But those were Democrats voting, in Democratic primaries. Twelve states considered southern or that usually vote with southern states next door, plus Utah, have 171 Electoral College votes. That number is just two-thirds of the 270 total needed to elected a president. In a close race in the fall, automatically losing a third of the majority of electoral votes could be disastrous for the Democrats.
          Yes, many Republican women strangely retain a hatred for Clinton, but since there are far more women voters than men voters in the United States, that hatred is not likely to be able to swing a sexist bias to an entire state.
          Superdelegates who signed on or consider signing on to an Obama bandwagon before the convention should have second thoughts. Give Obama eight more years of experience, which he sorely needs, either as a senator or vice president, and the possibility of a black president may be easier for those American racists still with us in 2016 to swallow. Let us try to break down one barrier at a time.
          (Utah is important in the calculation because while several southern states split away from red to vote for Jimmy Carter of Georgia and/or for Bill Clinton of Arkansas, Utah has been consistently red. The state is overwhelmingly Mormon, a religion that discriminated officially against blacks until 1978. Many members subscribe to the founders’ strange idea that brother-killer Cain was black, even though, according to the same Bible that discusses the slaying, only two other people existed on Earth when Cain was born–Adam and Eve.
          Obama has become the Camelot candidate for the Democrats, ginning up an excitement that harkens back to the presidency of Jack Kennedy. That may be a good feeling and something to hope for, but Democrats may be better off deferring that hope for a few more years.


























































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