It should mean a great deal to progressives that in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination Sen. Ted Kennedy favors Sen. Barack Obama over two other colleagues he has worked with in the Senate. No one in the history of that institution has been a more consistent and effective fighter than Kennedy for an enlightened agenda, be it civil rights and liberty, gender equality, labor and immigrant justice, environmental protection, educational opportunity or opposing military adventures.
Kennedy was a rare sane voice among the Democrats in strongly opposing the Iraq war, and it is no small tribute when he states: “We know the record of Barack Obama. There is the courage he showed when so many others were silent or simply went along. From the beginning, he opposed the war in Iraq. And let no one deny that truth.”
But that is precisely the truth that Sen. Hillary Clinton has shamelessly sought to obscure. Her supporters have accepted Clinton’s refusal to repudiate her vote to authorize the war, an ignominious moment she shares with other Democrats, including presidential candidate John Edwards, who at least has made a point of regretting it. It was a vote that has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, 3,940 U.S. service members—five more on Monday—and a debt in the trillions of dollars that will prevent the funding of needed domestic programs that Clinton claims to support. And it doesn’t end with Iraq. Clinton has been equally hawkish toward Iran and, in a Margaret Thatcher-like moment, even attacked Obama for ruling out the use of nuclear weapons against Osama bin Laden. [complete article]
LLate on Sept. 6, 2005, a private plane carrying the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra touched down in Almaty, a ruggedly picturesque city in southeast Kazakhstan. Several hundred miles to the west a fortune awaited: highly coveted deposits of uranium that could fuel nuclear reactors around the world. And Mr. Giustra was in hot pursuit of an exclusive deal to tap them.
Unlike more established competitors, Mr. Giustra was a newcomer to uranium mining in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic. But what his fledgling company lacked in experience, it made up for in connections. Accompanying Mr. Giustra on his luxuriously appointed MD-87 jet that day was a former president of the United States, Bill Clinton.
Upon landing on the first stop of a three-country philanthropic tour, the two men were whisked off to share a sumptuous midnight banquet with Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, whose 19-year stranglehold on the country has all but quashed political dissent.
Mr. Nazarbayev walked away from the table with a propaganda coup, after Mr. Clinton expressed enthusiastic support for the Kazakh leader’s bid to head an international organization that monitors elections and supports democracy. Mr. Clinton’s public declaration undercut both American foreign policy and sharp criticism of Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record by, among others, Mr. Clinton’s wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York. [complete article]
In six years as a member of the Wal-Mart board of directors, between 1986 and 1992, Hillary Clinton remained silent as the world’s largest retailer waged a major campaign against labor unions seeking to represent store workers.
Clinton has been endorsed for president by more than a dozen unions, according to her campaign Web site, which omits any reference to her role at Wal-Mart in its detailed biography of her.
Wal-Mart’s anti-union efforts were headed by one of Clinton’s fellow board members, John Tate, a Wal-Mart executive vice president who also served on the board with Clinton for four of her six years.
Tate was fond of repeating, as he did at a managers meeting in 2004 after his retirement, what he said was his favorite phrase, “Labor unions are nothing but blood-sucking parasites living off the productive labor of people who work for a living.” [complete article]
Is endorsing Barack Obama the new cool? Not long ago, Hillary Rodham Clinton was the seemingly inevitable front-runner for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Obama was the insurgent. He was pulling in young voters, independents and new voters, but he lacked the blessing of the party’s heavyweights.
That’s changed. Obama’s success in moving beyond the traditional party base — combined with serious Clinton fatigue — is leading many seasoned Democratic leaders to rethink their earlier assumptions. John Kerry, Patrick Leahy, Claire McCaskill and Tom Daschle, among others, have lined up behind Obama, and the last few days brought Obama a surge of new, high-profile endorsements from such luminaries as Ted Kennedy and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison.
His endorsers are right to see Obama as their party’s best hope for 2008. Though skeptics contend that Obama lacks “experience,” this concern makes sense only if you think you have to be a Washington insider to be qualified to run for president. Obama began his career as a community organizer and civil rights attorney in Chicago — relevant background for someone who will have to deal with tough economic and social justice issues as president. He was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996 and the U.S. Senate in 2004; in all, he’s spent 11 years being directly accountable to voters (that’s four more than Clinton). [complete article]
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, the latest big name to endorse Sen. Barack Obama, could give the Illinois Democrat a boost by lending his gravitas in the financial world to a presidential candidate whose biggest hurdle is to convince voters he is experienced enough.
“After 30 years in government, serving under five Presidents of both parties and chairing two non-partisan commissions on the Public Service, I have been reluctant to engage in political campaigns. The time has come to overcome that reluctance,” Volcker, a Democrat, said in a statement today. “However, it is not the current turmoil in markets or the economic uncertainties that have impelled my decision. Rather, it is the breadth and depth of challenges that face our nation at home and abroad. Those challenges demand a new leadership and a fresh approach.” [complete article]
A $32 million month.
That’s how much Senator Barack Obama has raised so far in January, according to his campaign manager, David Plouffe, who announced the first fund-raising tally of 2008. The campaign attracted 170,000 new contributors during the month, he said.
“Obviously this contest could go on for some time in the primary.’’ Mr. Plouffe said, speaking to reporters on a conference call earlier this morning. “We think the strength of our financial position and the number of donors does speak to financial sustainability.” [complete article]