Thursday, April 24, 2008

Black Congressman Denounces Bill Clinton’s Remarks

This from the NY Times blog:

The third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives and one of the country’s most influential African-America leaders sharply criticized former President Bill Clinton this afternoon for what he called the former president’s “bizarre” conduct during the Democratic primary campaign.

Representative James E. Clyburn, an undeclared superdelegate from South Carolina who is the Democratic whip in the House, said that “black people are incensed over all of this,” referring to a series of statements that Mr. Clinton has made in the course of the heated race between his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, and Senator Barack Obama.

Mr. Clinton was widely criticized by black leaders after he equated the eventual victory of Mr. Obama in South Carolina in January to that of the Rev. Jesse Jackson in 1988 – a parallel that many took as an attempt to diminish Mr. Obama’s success in the campaign. In a radio interview in Philadelphia Monday, Mr. Clinton defended his remarks and said the Obama campaign had “played the race card on me” by making an issue of those comments.

In an interview with The Times late Thursday, Mr. Clyburn said that Mr. Clinton’s conduct in this campaign has caused what might be an irreparable breach between Mr. Clinton and an African-American constituency that once revered him. “When he was going through his impeachment problems, it was the black community that bellied up to the bar,” Mr. Clyburn said. “I think black folks feel strongly that that this is a strange way for President Clinton to show his appreciation.”

Mr. Clyburn added that there appears to be an almost “unanimous” view among African-Americans that Mr. and Mrs. Clinton “are committed to doing everything they possibly can to damage Obama to a point that he could never win.”

The Clintons have more problems:
Hillary Clinton's campaign debt at the end of March was bigger than it appeared because she didn't list the $5 million she loaned herself, a campaign finance watchdog group reported this afternoon.

Clinton, in her filing with the Federal Election Commission, reported that her campaign had $9 million in cash on hand as of March 30, and $10 million in debts.

"The Clinton campaign itemizes its debts to vendors, totaling $10.3 million by the end of last month, but since January, when Clinton infused her campaign with $5 million, the campaign hasn't been adding in that loan when reporting its overall debt to the Federal Election Commission," the Center for Responsive Politics said.

The press is piling on Barack Obama right now. It makes for more drama. But if they were fair we would hear more about Hillary's duplicity. Obama misspeaks. Hillary lies:
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., hit Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., for having served on the board of a Chicago nonprofit with Bill Ayers, a former member of the 1960s-era left-wing radical group the Weather Underground. "What they did was set bombs, and in some cases people died. I know Sen Obama is a good man and I respect him greatly but this is certainly something the Republicans will be raising."

Obama hit back, pointing out -- as I did in February -- that Clinton had her own ties to the group.

"President Clinton pardoned two members of the Weather Underground," Obama said, "which is a bigger deal than serving on a board with someone."

As I reported in February when the Clinton camp first raised the issue, in 2001 then-president Bill Clinton pardoned Susan Rosenberg, a Weather Underground member arrested in 1984 while unloading 740 pounds of dynamite from the back of her car.

But Clinton indeed pardoned a second -- Linda Evans, who had been convicted of several charges stemming from a series of bombings in the 1980s.

Hillary Clinton on Larry King Show 4-21-08: Transcript

An arrogant Hillary at her very best:

KING: How do you respond, Senator, to the complaints that the campaign -- both campaigns, in a sense -- have gotten so negative?

Robert Reich, the former Labor secretary in your husband's administration, a longtime friend of yours, is one of the people who says that he's now backing Obama.

Here's what he told CNN. I'd be interested in your comment.


ROBERT REICH, FORMER SECRETARY OF LABOR: But this crescendo of negative mudslinging from the Clinton camp, diverting attention from the big issues this country faces.

I just thought, I can't be silent any longer. I've got to take a stand and I've got to follow my conscience.


KING: Did that hurt you?

CLINTON: Well, I don't think that he's followed the campaign very closely, because, clearly, there has been a relentless series of attacks coming from the other side.

I've spent the vast majority of this campaign giving very specific speeches about the solutions that I offer on all of the important issues facing our country. And, in fact, the press that covers me on a regular basis, I think, is kind of bored, because I just talk about solutions and what we're going to do to get more jobs and get health care for everyone and make sure we have a clean, renewable energy future and all of the other concerns that voters talk to me about.

But in the last, you know, couple of weeks, Senator Obama's campaign has become increasingly negative. He says one thing on the stump and his campaign does something else.

I'd like nothing better than to stay focused on the differences between our health care plans. I have a plan that will get to universal health care and cover everyone and he doesn't.

I have a plan to end the home foreclosure crisis and I don't think his measures up.

So I would be really pleased to talk about a lot of the hard questions that are going to face the next president. But, you know, in a campaign, it does get sometimes back-and-forth. Actually, I think this has been, on balance, a pretty civil and positive campaign, compared to many that we've seen in the last years. And it is fair to compare and contrast the differences between us. And voters get to make up their own minds about, you know, who they can count on to make the very difficult decisions and bring about the positive results we need.

Hillary doesn't care what the people think. She is going to do whatever it takes to win, regardless of what the people think:
We have an e-mail from Collins in Riverview, Florida, who says: "I've noticed you started with the negative ads once you fell behind in the nomination race. So my question is, do you think you'd be in contention at this point if you had not gone negative?"

Now, you don't think you've gone negative.

Would you agree that a lot of the public thinks you have?

CLINTON: Well, I don't know what the public thinks. But I certainly believe that any fair reading of this campaign, the kinds of things that my opponent's campaign has said, the kind of ads that they and their allies have run, the sort of phone calls and mailings -- remember in Ohio, I had to call them out on the misleading, negative mailings that they were sending out about my health care plan and about my position to change and fix NAFTA.

And I think the people of Ohio took a hard look at who was being misleading and who wasn't, and that's why I won such an overwhelming vote in Ohio.

So I can imagine the people who only, you know, follow it from, you know, some of the snippets on TV might, you know, not be sure exactly who's saying what and what the campaigns are doing.

But the people in the states where we're competing who follow it very, very closely, I think, are well aware of, you know, who is running what kind of ads and the fact that Senator Obama is outspending me three or four to one and, you know, literally just running ads around the clock. You know, that's all part of the campaign. And at the end of the day, voters get to decide who they think would be best suited to do the tough job that the next president will face.

Economy in Crisis: Food Shortage in America?

We need to start being concerned about food shortages/hunger inside America eventhough the press and the presidential candidates are not showing concern. The Costco story is another sign of things to come:

THE panic over global food shortages and rising prices gripping developing nations has spread to the world's wealthiest countries, with giant US-based retailer Wal-Mart rationing rice sales.

Wal-Mart's warehouse chain Sam's Club became the second retailer in the US to limit bulk purchases of rice this week, citing "recent supply and demand trends". Earlier in the week, Seattle-based Costco Wholesale Corporation imposed limits in some stores on bulk rice purchases.

The extraordinary move constitutes the first time food rationing has been introduced in the US. While Americans suffered some rationing during World War II for items such as petrol, light bulbs and stockings, they have never had to limit consumption of a key food item.

World rice prices have more than doubled in the past year as demand has outstripped supply, with the drought-ravaged Australian crop blamed for contributing to the problem.

Australia's rice production has collapsed, with many farmers given a zero water allocation from the Murray River. This year's crop will be the smallest since 1960, with exports barely a 10th of recent years.

Until 2002-03, Australia exported on average 620,000 tonnes of rice a year - or 80 per cent of what it produced. But figures compiled by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics show the 2007-08 export crop will be 70,000 tonnes, with no improvement the following year.

Around the world, countries are restricting exports of rice and other grains as food prices rocket and nations move to ensure their own food security. The international price of rice has risen 118per cent in the past year despite world rice exports rising from 22.7 million tonnes in 2000 to a forecast 29.6 million tonnes this year.

Gary Helou, chief executive of Australian rice exporter Sunrice, said the accusation that the drought in Australia was causing food rationing in the US was "terribly ill-informed", saying Australia was a small player in the global rice market.

Ricegrowers' Association president Les Gordon agreed, saying prices were high due to "a straight-up case of supply and demand". "Supply has been slowly dwindling all around the world for the last 10 years, and it became apparent to our grain marketers 12 months, two years ago that it really was heading for a very low level," he said.

He is bemused by US supermarkets blaming Australia for shortages. "I can understand them having a run on rice in the supermarkets, but how they could tag that to drought in Australia is ... nonsense. None of our rice goes to America."

In Britain, rice is being rationed by shopkeepers in Asian districts to prevent hoarding.

More signs of an economy headed towards crisis:
Sales of new homes plunged in March to the lowest level in 16½ years as housing slumped further at the start of the spring sales season. The median price of a new home in March compared to a year ago fell by the largest amount in nearly four decades.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that sales of new homes dropped by 8.5 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 526,000 units, the slowest sales pace since October 1991.

The median price of a home sold in March dropped by 13.3 percent compared to March 2007, the biggest year-over-year price decline since a 14.6 percent plunge in July 1970.

The dismal news on new home sales followed earlier reports showing that sales of existing homes fell by 2 percent in March. Housing, which boomed for five years, has been in a prolonged slump for the past two years with sales and home prices falling at especially sharp rates in formerly boom areas of the country.

For March, sales were down in all regions of the country, dropping the most in the Northeast, a decline of 19.4 percent. Sales fell by 12.9 percent in the Midwest, 12.5 percent in the Midwest and 4.6 percent in the South.

In other economic news, orders to factories for big-ticket manufactured goods fell for a third straight month in March, the longest string of declines since the 2001 recession, while applications for unemployment benefits fell by 33,000 to 342,000.

The Commerce Department said that demand for durable goods dropped by 0.3 percent last month, a worse-than-expected performance that underscored the problems manufacturers are facing from a severe economic slowdown. The last time orders fell for three consecutive months was from February to April of 2001, when the country was sliding into the last recession.

The weakness in manufacturing orders was led by a 4.6 percent drop in orders for autos, a sector that has been hard hit by soaring gasoline prices and the weakening economy, which have cut sharply into car sales. Orders in the category that includes home appliances fell by 6.6 percent. This industry has been hurt by the two-year slump in home sales.

President Bush on Tuesday said the economy was not in a recession but a period of slower growth. However, economists who believe the country has fallen into a recession pointed to the string of declines in manufacturing orders to support their view.

Israelis Claim Secret Agreement With U.S.

This story proves that Bush is an obsequious tool of the neocons and the Israeli lobby. It also proves that this President has no interest in supporting negotiations for peace between the Palestianians and the Israelis. The White House got caught and are now lying about it:

A letter that President Bush personally delivered to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon four years ago has emerged as a significant obstacle to the president's efforts to forge a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians during his last year in office.

Ehud Olmert, the current Israeli prime minister, said this week that Bush's letter gave the Jewish state permission to expand the West Bank settlements that it hopes to retain in a final peace deal, even though Bush's peace plan officially calls for a freeze of Israeli settlements across Palestinian territories on the West Bank. In an interview this week, Sharon's chief of staff, Dov Weissglas, said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed this understanding in a secret agreement reached between Israel and the United States in the spring of 2005, just before Israel withdrew from Gaza.

U.S. officials say no such agreement exists, and in recent months Rice has publicly criticized even settlement expansion on the outskirts of Jerusalem, which Israel does not officially count as settlements. But as peace negotiations have stepped up in recent months, so has the pace of settlement construction, infuriating Palestinian officials, and Washington has taken no punitive action against Israel for its settlement efforts.

Israeli officials say they have clear guidance from Bush administration officials to continue building settlements, as long as it meets carefully negotiated criteria, even though those understandings appear to contradict U.S. policy.

Many experts say new settlement construction undermines the political standing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas -- who is to meet with Bush today at the White House -- and adds to Palestinian cynicism about the peace process. Palestinians view the settlements as an Israeli effort to claim Palestinian lands, and in a meeting yesterday with Rice, Abbas said settlement construction was "one of the greatest obstacles" to a peace deal.

U.S. and Israeli officials privately argue that Israel has greatly restricted settlement growth outside the settlements it hopes to retain in a peace deal with the Palestinians, and Olmert has said Israel has stopped building new settlements and confiscating Palestinian lands.

Housing starts -- not counting the Jerusalem settlements -- have declined 33 percent since 2003, according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics. But officials say it is politically damaging for Olmert to admit that, so instead he publicly emphasizes that he is adding to the settlements, which now house about 450,000 Israelis.

"It was clear from day one to Abbas, Rice and Bush that construction would continue in population concentrations -- the areas mentioned in Bush's 2004 letter," Olmert declared in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, published Sunday. "I say this again today: Beitar Illit will be built, Gush Etzion will be built; there will be construction in Pisgat Ze'ev and in the Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem," referring to new settlement expansion plans. "It's clear that these areas will remain under Israeli control in any future settlement."

In a key sentence in Bush's 2004 letter, the president stated, "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949."

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