BREAKING: McCain/Palin.

NBC and Fox News is confirming that the GOP ticket is McCain/Pailn.  Will update as info becomes available.

[update] cnn is also reporting...

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Politico: Clinton was never vetted.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and Clintonistas for Obama)

The Politico is reporting Hillary Clinton was never vetted for the role of VP.

Obama has often said, most recently on NBC's "Meet the Press" on July 27, that Clinton "would be on anybody's short list."

But apparently not his.

"She was never vetted," a Democratic official reported. "She was not asked for a single piece of paper. She and Senator Obama have never had a single conversation about it. How would he know if she'd take it?"

The official also said Clinton never met with Obama's vetting team of Eric Holder and Caroline Kennedy.

And the official said she was never asked for medical records or for any financial 2008 information about her or former President Bill Clinton. The last information the couple has disclosed about taxes and financial holdings was for 2007.

"This would be the biggest leap of faith ever," the official said. "She's waiting for the text message like everyone else."

So I guess we can cross this one off potentials?

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How to be a Disgusting Pig 101. [UPDATED]

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and Clintonistas for Obama)

Politico is reporting that a new conservative group has produced a television ad attacking Barack Obama for his relationship with former Weather Underground bomber Bill Ayers.

"How much do your really know about Barack Obama? What does he really believe?" asks the ad, which then cites the failed attack on the Capitol on 9/11, and links it to the Weather Underground attack on the Capitol decades earlier.

The group says it will spend $2.8 million airing the ad in Ohio and Michigan -- which would be the largest single third-party expenditure this cycle.

"Why would Barack Obama be friends with someone who bombed the Capitol and is proud of it?" asks the narrator. "Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama?"

The group, the American Issues Project, is part of a group that isn't required to disclose its donors and is a product of a coalition of conservative groups, including Iowans for Tax Relief. Its president is Ed Martin, a Missouri conservative. Another official, Ed Failor, Jr., is a former McCain aide in Iowa who left after the campaign's shakeup last summer.

The use of 9/11 imagery links Ayers, and Obama, to the American conflict Islamic terror, which is the subject of many viral emails attacking Obama.  The group's spokesman, Christian Pinkston, called the suggestion that the group is making any link with Islam "unfair."

"The idea here was to talk about the fact that his friends hate America, and that's who he's aligning himself with," he said.

It's spokesman, Christian Pinkston, is a former aide to presidential candidate Jack Kemp, and went on to run the conservative group Empower America.  Pinkston says the ad will launch later this afternoon.

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Sexism: Olympics style.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg)

Since we are now full on in the Summer Olympic games in Bejing, now is the perfect time to discuss a hot issue here in Canada.  Namely Women's Ski Jumping in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

In November 2006, the International Olympic Committee rejected the inclusion of women's ski jumping for the Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010. IOC President Jacques Rogge stated that only 80 women were competing in the sport and including it in the 2010 Games would dilute the value of medals won in other events.

Nearly all Olympic sports have both a men's and women's event, but the International Olympic Committee always has exempted ski jumping to let it be a male-only competition.  The IOC says its decision not to include women's ski jumping at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games is based on technical merit and isn't discriminatory.

However a coalition of international women ski jumpers filed a lawsuit against the Vancouver Organizing Committee in May challenging this decision. They argue that the women have been discriminated against because the Games allow only men's ski jumping. "The failure to include women's ski jumping events in the Games violates every woman's right to equal benefit under the law," according to the lawsuit filed in British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver.

In order to be considered for inclusion in the Olympic Games, a sport must have held at least two world championships. The first women's ski jumping world championships will be held this year in Liberec, Czech Republic.  

But some say the IOC is using the technical merit justification as an excuse.  Supporters of women's ski jumpers argue there are 135 women ski jumpers in 16 countries. This compares to other sports already in the Games like snowboard cross, which has 34 women from 10 countries, skier cross, which has 30 women from 11 nations, and bobsled, which has 26 women from 13 nations.  They also argue that women's marathon was added to the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles after a single world championship in 1983.  

Of note, is that the Canadian Government is fully supportive of the lawsuit and "would try to convince the IOC to include women's ski jumping at the Vancouver Games." David Emerson, Canada's federal minister responsible for the 2010 Games, said it's "extremely disappointing" women are not being allowed to ski jump at the Olympics.

"Ski jumping is an important sport and we're investing a lot in jumping and training facilities in Canada and to not have women able to participate on the same basis as men, to me, I just don't think it's right."

Deedee Corradini, who was the mayor of Salt Lake City when that city won the right to host the 2002 Winter Games, noted $580 million of Canadian taxpayers money has helped the Vancouver Olympic Games Organizing Committee (VANOC) build Olympic facilities.

"My understanding is it's against federal and provincial law in Canada to spend government money on facilities that discriminate," Corradini told a news conference Saturday at the Canadian ski jumping championships.

"To have a men's only sign on these ski jumps seems to be discriminatory and contrary to Canada's own human rights act."

Additionally a group of Canadian women ski jumpers have filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Right Commission, arguing the Olympic movement is discriminating against them.

While Corradini and members of the Canadian ski team are vocal in their dissent, the United States Ski and Snowboard Association is taking a more diplomatic tact.

The association is the governing body for ski sports in the U.S., including jumping. Tom Kelly, vice-president of communication, refused to say if he thought women were being discriminated against.

"We have great respect for the process the IOC has for bringing the sport into the Olympics.  We were disappointed when the IOC made it's decision (on 2010.)  We are very optimistic for 2014. The first world championships will be held next year and that is a critical event in the growth of the sport. When we get to the world championships, and the world sees what these women can do, that is a great message to send to the IOC."

As 16 year-old ski jumper Zora Lynch says"It's not about the competition between the sports. It's about gender equality and that kind of stuff."

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mediaFail: Green and Goldberg Editions.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg)

In the ongoing series of blogs about the mediaFail™ there are two ripe, juicy examples ready to be plucked.

The first involves Joshua Green, senior editor at The Atlantic and author of the latest hit job on Hillary Clinton.  Having worked for some serious publications, like the Washington Monthly and American Prospect, where he perpetuated lies such as: Al Gore is a serial exaggerator who said he invented the internet. Green suggests that his analysis of the Clinton memos is the "empirical truth" and was billed fantastically by fellow Altantic columnist Marc Ambinder as "the story of what really happened."

With clear disdain, Green also refers to Clinton's famed majority female staff as a "bitchy staff" which "proved to be her Achilles' heel." In spite of Hillary's bitchy staff, the vast majority of Green's piece focuses on the men in her campaign, most especially Mark Penn.  Green complains that "the candidate herself evinced a paralyzing schizophrenia -- one day a shots-'n'-beers brawler, the next a Hallmark Channel mom." 

Next up is National Review Online editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg.  In his August 15 syndicated column, headlined "Nightmare on Dem Street," Goldberg wrote of former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton's appearances at the Democratic National Convention: "Bill and Hillary are back. And forever more, Barack Obama won't be able to take a shower without fear of that curtain snapping back, as a woman -- or is that a man? -- prepares to plunge the knife into his back." Another journalist suggesting that the Clintons would use violence against Obama and other political opponents.

As MediaMatters notes:

Goldberg also compared the Clintons to fictional horror movie characters Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Dracula, writing: "Freddy Krueger always comes back. Jason re-emerges from the pond one more time. Dracula had so many comebacks, nobody was surprised to see him hanging with Abbott and Costello." Additionally, Goldberg wrote: "If the monster-movie thing is too offensive for you Clinton voluptuaries out there, think of it like this: They're like Richard Gere in 'An Officer and a Gentleman' (who, coincidentally, is hounded by a charismatic black dude but never gives up)." He added:

They've got no place else to go. And I was right. The Clintons are back. The coffin lid has sprung open, the seal of the crypt has been broken, the mutant virus has escaped the lab. Both Clintons will speak at the Democratic convention, and Hillary will get her I-told-you-so's. In the horror flicks, it's not that the creatures are impervious to damage, it's that no matter how much you hack them up, they seem to come back again. And again. And again. The Clintons have been horribly damaged, but they press on.

Who the hell are these clowns?  

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VPeed.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and Clintonistas for Obama)

Seems like the chatter on prospective VP candidates has hit a fever pitch. But historically not many cared about the vice president...

An afterthought in the construction of the Constitution, it was on Sept. 6, 1787 that America's powdered-wig wearin' Constitutional Convention approved Alexander Hamilton's proposal to create the office of the vice presidency, declaring that the Veep should be the runner-up in the race to be president.

That's how VPs were picked until the rules were changed to allow presidential nominees to pick their running mates, which has since been used as a way for candidates to garner more votes with a "more balanced" ticket.

All this speculation spent on a job that Former Vice President John Nance Garner once famously remarked was "not worth a bucket of warm piss" and which John Adams once called "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived."

A recent CBS News poll on the presidential election states that 67% say their vote will be based mostly on the candidate at the top of the ticket, while 30% said that the choices of their vice presidential running mates will have a great deal of influence on their decision. That's twice the number who said the VP picks would matter in 2000, when George W. Bush and Al Gore were preparing their campaigns.

According to the poll, voters who are still undecided are more apt than those currently favoring Barack Obama or John McCain to say the candidates' choices for vice president will be important to their vote. 48% of those voters say the choices will influence their vote while 47% say they won't. And Independents are more likely than Democrats or Republicans to say the choice of vice presidential nominee will matter.

As interesting as Obama's and McCain's choices will be, the real question is, does it matter? The answer of many voters and political commentators is, more than any other time in American history, yes. But the better question is why?

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Convention Coverage brought to you by Big Oil???

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and Clintonistas for Obama)

In case anyone missed it, ExxonMobil will be sponsoring the CNN, CBS and the National Journal's coverage of both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

And just in the nick of time, the Exxon Mobile Citizen Action Team (CAT) issued its summer newsletter.

The ExxonMobil program that provides information on public policy issues and encourages employees and retirees in the United States and those citizens living abroad to get involved in issues that affect our business, families and communities. With nearly 100,000 U.S. employees and retirees providing representation in every congressional district, the ExxonMobil family is an important political force and a vehicle for positive change. By harnessing our collective strength, we can make a difference through the elections process, lobbying and grassroots communications.

Isn't it nice seeing a corporation take an active role in democracy?

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Delegate Conundrum.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and Clintonistas for Obama)

I came across a story today about Hillary Clinton delegate Sacha Millstone of Boulder, Colorado.  Apparently Millstone has hired an attorney after she received a Democratic Party email that ordered her to come to headquarters to 'explain' disparaging remarks she made about Barack Obama.

Her attorney wrote the DNC asking for the rules that allow the party to threaten a person's removal from the state delegation. Party officials say the issue has been dropped.

Now I don't know anything about this particular person, nor her motivations.  But this raises an interesting conundrum for the Party - should delegates be free to criticize the nominee?  And if so - why would they be forced to 'explain themselves' for remarks they make.  Thoughts?

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Darfur.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and Clintonistas for Obama)

Darfur, which means 'land of the fur' is a region in western Sudan.  The region is divided into three states: West Darfur, South Darfur, and North Darfur.  Approximately the size of Spain,  the arid and impoverished region has been in a state of humanitarian emergency since February 2003.

The original conflict broke out after a rebel group began attacking government targets, claiming that the region was being neglected by its capital in Khartoum and oppressing black Africans in favour of Arabs.  

One side of the armed conflict is composed mainly of the Sudanese military and the Janjaweed, a militia group recruited mostly from the Arab Abbala tribes of the northern Rizeigat, camel-herding nomads. The Janjaweed are accused of the worst atrocities.  The other side comprises a variety of rebel groups, notably the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), recruited primarily from the land-tilling non-Arab Fur, Zaghawa, and Massaleit ethnic groups.

The Sudanese government, while publicly denying that it supports the Janjaweed, has provided money and assistance to the militia and has participated in joint attacks targeting the tribes from which the rebels draw support.

The current lines of conflict are seen to be ethnic and tribal, rather than religious, some attest that the combination of decades of drought, desertification, and overpopulation are among the causes of the conflict, because the Arab nomads searching for water have to take their livestock further south, to land mainly occupied by Black African farming communities.  There are now more than a dozen rebel groups - making peace talks extremely difficult.

The Sudanese government, led by President Omar al-Bashir admits mobilizing "self-defence militias" following rebel attacks, however it denies any links or control to the Janjaweed, who are accused of trying to "cleanse" black Africans from large swathes of territory.  Refugees say that following air raids by government aircraft, the Janjaweed ride into villages on horses and camels, slaughtering men, raping women and stealing whatever they can find.  Many women report being abducted and held as sex slaves for more than a week before being released.

After strong international pressure and the threat of sanctions, the government promised to disarm the Janjaweed. But so far there is little evidence this has happened.  Trials have been announced in Khartoum of some members of the security forces suspected of abuses - but this is viewed as part of a campaign against UN-backed attempts to get some 50 key suspects tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.  

Millions of civilians have fled their destroyed villages, with more than two million in camps near Darfur's main towns.  The Janjaweed patrol outside the camps and Darfuris say the men are killed and the women raped if they venture too far in search of firewood or water.

As the conflict enters its sixth year, with much of Darfur inaccessible to aid workers and researchers, conditions continue to deteriorate for civilians. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, even by the most conservative estimates. The United Nations puts the death toll at roughly 300,000, while the former U.N. undersecretary-general puts the number at no less than 400,000. Up to 2.5 million have fled their homes and sought safety in camps throughout Darfur, or in refugee camps in neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic.  But many of these are camped along the stretch of the borders remain vulnerable to attacks from Sudan.  As well Chad's eastern areas have a similar ethnic make-up and the violence has spilled over into the border area. Both capitals have also been attacked this year by rebel groups.  

Based on Sudan's actions over the past five years, it is clear that unless the international community imposes additional political costs for President Bashir, his government will continue to buy time by either accepting initiatives only to backtrack later or impose new conditions that render them useless.  The Sudanese government stresses that the situation and numbers are being exaggerated.

Humanitarian assistance in Darfur continues to be at risk of collapse, in part because of sustained harassment by the Sudanese government, and in part because of the government's militia allies and common criminals. In September 2006, the United Nations estimated that such a collapse would cause up to 100,000 civilian deaths every month.  Troublesome developments suggest that such a failure is becoming more likely with the World Food Program's Humanitarian Air Service receiving no funding in the first three months of 2008. Last-minute donations totaling six million dollars funded it through the beginning of May and many aid agencies working in Darfur but they are unable to get access to vast areas because of the fighting.

The Save Darfur Coalition who is raising awareness and demanding an end to the genocide describe the current situation as follows:

In the second half of 2007, the Sudanese government's divide-and-conquer strategy, described by Human Rights Watch as "chaos by design," caused an increasingly frenzied free-for-all in Darfur. Rebel groups fragmented further and criminal activity as well as intertribal fighting increased exponentially.  Still, the effects of tribal fighting should not be overemphasized. Of the eight largest displacements between January and November 2007, seven resulted from government or Janjaweed attacks. Only one was the result of intertribal fighting.  In early 2008, deaths and displacements from military operations by the government, its allied militias and rebels were even more common relative to those caused by tribal conflicts.  

Darfur activists and other human rights organizations wrote a letter to both candidates outlining the resolution SR 632:

Senator John McCain
Senator Barack Obama
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

August 7, 2008

Dear Senators McCain and Obama,

The day before Olympian Joey Cheek, a 2006 Gold Medalist in speed skating, was to travel to Beijing, the government of China revoked his visa. Mr. Cheek is one of the strongest voices in the pursuit of peace in Darfur.

Mr. Cheek and a group of other current and former Olympic athletes had been calling for an Olympic Truce for Darfur - a cessation of hostilities in the Darfur region for a period before, during and after the Games. The Olympic Truce dates from ancient Greece and has been revived as a diplomatic tool over the past several decades.

Earlier this week, Darfur activist leaders and human rights groups from across the country sent an open letter calling upon each of you, as US Senators and presumptive presidential nominees, to promptly announce your intention to co-sponsor a new resolution, SR 632, that urges the Chinese government and the broader international community to use the upcoming Olympic Games as an opportunity to push for peace and security in Darfur. We also asked that you support an Olympic Truce for Darfur in your public statements in the coming week and during the Olympic Games.

Although the Senate is in recess, additional Senate co-sponsors can submit their names now, to the offices of current co-sponsors, and those names will be officially recorded in September when the recess is over. As presumptive presidential nominees, your co-sponsorship will send a clear message to China and the international community that you are committed to help bring an end to the genocide in Darfur.

Your co-sponsorship of the resolution is critical, particularly in light of the significant advertising time your campaigns have purchased to air during the Olympic Games. We believe there is an obligation to balance the purchase of Olympic advertising time with a message about Beijing's responsibility, as Olympic host and close partner of Sudan, to do more to bring security to Darfur.

Mr. Cheek's visa revocation and Senate Resolution 632 both present important opportunities for you to act. The White House has already expressed the President's concern and instructed the US embassy in Beijing to discuss Mr. Cheek's visa with the Chinese government.

Last month, Mr. Cheek and more than 200 other athletes issued an open letter to world leaders calling for an Olympic Truce for Darfur. The athletes, including more than 70 hopefuls for the 2008 Games, called on world leaders to (1) ask the Government of Sudan to cease hostilities against civilians, at least for the 55-day truce period of the 2008 Beijing Games, (2) use the truce period to allow humanitarian workers to access the civilians in Darfur who have been without food, clean water and medical care for years and (3) make progress on deployment of peacekeepers.

We ask both of you to join these athletes - men and women who represent all that is great about American and Olympic values - and release public statements announcing your co-sponsorship of Senate Resolution 632 and your support for an Olympic Truce for Darfur.

Sincerely,

American Jewish World Service
Ruth Messinger, President
New York, NY

Americans Against the Darfur Genocide
Nikki Serapio, Director
Palo Alto, CA

Colorado Coalition for Genocide Awareness and Action
Roz Duman, Founder/Coordinator
Denver, CO

Darfur Action Coalition of Wisconsin
Sachin Chheda, Coordinator
Milwaukee, WI

Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy
Mohamed Yahya
Founder/ Executive Director
Washington, DC.

Darfur Metro
Eileen Weiss, Director
New York, NY

Darfur People's Association of New York
Motasim Adam, Director
Brooklyn, NY

Dream for Darfur
Jill Savitt, Executive Director
New York, NY

Essex County Coalition for Darfur
Gloria Crist, Founding Member
Montclair, NJ

Investors Against Genocide
Eric Cohen, Chairperson
Boston, MA

Kentuckian Interfaith Taskforce On Darfur
Bob Brousseau, Chair
Louisville, Kentucky

Louisvillians Helping to Save Darfur
Dave Robinson, Chair
Louisville, KY

Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur
Susan Morgan, Director of Communications
Boston, MA

New York City Coalition for Darfur
Sharon Silber, Director
New York, NY

Physicians for Human Rights
Frank Donaghue, Chief Executive Officer
Cambridge, MA

San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition
Esther Sprague, Executive Committee
San Francisco, CA

Save Darfur Washington State
Deborah Jones, President
Seattle, WA

Team Darfur
Martha Heinemann Bixby
Executive Director
Washington, DC

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Charlie Clements, President and CEO
Cambridge, MA

Use Your Voice to Save Darfur RI
Sandra Hammel, Director
Providence, RI

In addition to contacting both Senators Obama and McCain (who have both remained silent on this to date) to co-sponsor SR 632 , you can also contact the Save Darfur Coalition.

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Platforming It.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and Clintonistas for Obama)

Earlier this week a draft of the 54-page 2008 Democratic National Committee's platform was sent to its committee members. Since the 80's, the real writing of the platform has been done by the campaign of the presumptive nominee.  Certainly the document reads more like a stump speech from the Obama campaign than cutting edge reform.  This is not surprising.

An Obama aide, Karen Kornbluh, has been designated by the Democratic National Committee as the "Principal Author" of the document. Kornbluh is on leave from Obama's Senate office, where she serves as policy director.

Indeed the platform contains a section on fatherhood, a definition of patriotism, a section detailing Obama's economic stimulus plan, a call for more service, through an expanded AmeriCorps and Peace Corps, and several mentions of hope.  The draft's preamble uses the wording "It is time for a change.

The document did however include nods to both Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards.  

Edwards:
A pledge to elevate poverty eradication as a policy goal. "Working together," the platform states, "we can cut poverty in half within ten years."

Clinton:
Health care

In return for the guarantee, activists dropped a tougher platform amendment seeking a government-run, single-payer system and another amendment explicitly holding out Clinton's plan as the one to follow.

The party now declares itself "united behind a commitment that every American man, woman and child be guaranteed to have affordable, comprehensive health care."

Under any system in play, most people would still put out money for health insurance as they do now, but they would get help when needed.

Despite loud rumblings to amend, there were no changes made to the caucus system.  However an extensive section on women's rights was included that uses highly anticipated language many yearned to hear.

We believe that standing up for our country means standing up against sexism and all intolerance. Demeaning portrayals of women cheapen our debates, dampen the dreams of our daughters and deny us the contributions of too many. Responsibility lies with us all.

The Democratic National Convention will vote on it in Denver later this month.

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