FDR: Florida Demands Representation

 (sent to me in NH from a friend in FL)

From FDR to all:

SATURDAY, APRIL 26, 2008
FLORIDA COUNT OUR VOTES RALLY & PETITION DRIVE

Next Saturday there will be rallies in St. Petersburg and Orlando. Information is posted on the event organizers web site: http://www.fldeservesrecognition.com/
This is an independent group not associated with any campaign or political party but like all Americans they value the concept of one person one vote.

SAINT PETERSBURG, FLORIDA, RALLY PETITION DRIVE
10:00AM-2:00PM
GLADDEN PARK BALLFIELD - SAINT PETERSBURG
3901 30th AVENUE NORTH

ORLANDO, FLORIDA, RALLY PETITION DRIVE
10:00AM-2:00PM
LAKE EOLA PARK AMPHITHEATRE - DOWNTOWN ORLANDO
195 N Rosalind Avenue

Rallies will also be held in TALLAHASSEE, VOLUSIA COUNTY, and BROWARD COUNTY.

contact FDR for details:  888.599.1586 or by email at FDRJim@fldeservesrecognition.com

Also go to website (link below) to download petition(s).  There are two, one for Florida residents and another for everyone else.  Please join FDR in Washington D.C. in June to present the  petitions to the DNC. Contact Jim at 888.599.1586 or by email at FDRJim@fldeservesrecognition.com for details.

Here's an excerpt from petition:

Count our Florida Votes Petition
Florida Voters For Due Process

On January 29th, 2008 Florida held primaries for both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.  More than 1.7 million registered democrats went to the polls and exercised their constitutional right to vote.  We did this honorably and dutifully.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is not recognizing the voice and the votes of millions of Democrats who set aside time to participate in a Democratic process.  The failure of the DNC to recognize Florida's Democratic voters and to seat our delegates based on the January 29th primary is counter to Democratic principles and is an act of disenfranchisement.

As Floridians and as registered voters, we are being penalized for decisions in which we were not active participants.  This is neither fair nor democratic.  Further alienation may result in protest votes for non-democrat presidential candidates or worse, lack of future participation in the electoral process.

I, the undersigned, urge the Democratic National Committee, to reconsider its position:  recognize Florida's primary results and seat our delegates at the Democratic National Convention in accordance with the Democratic Primary results held on January 29th, 2008.  Please do not disenfranchise me from the political process.
........

To everyone outside of Florida, be sure to go to FDR website and download your petition to sign and return to FDR.  Thank you so much for every single signature.

http://fldeservesrecognition.com/FL_Peti tionMail.html
................

Also here's an excerpt from a St. Petersburg Times article on FDR:

Delegate Fray Stirs Grassroots Petition Effort
By Jose Cardenas, Times Staff Writer
http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/ar ticle427481.ece

Jim Hannagan is not politically connected or active in the local Democratic Party establishment. But he is a lifelong Democrat who rushed home from a trip to Massachusetts on Jan. 29 just to cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary. Now angry his vote may not count, Hannagan has launched an effort to get the Democratic National Committee to relent and seat Florida's delegates during its convention. His strategy: Get Democrats throughout Florida who voted or are registered to vote to sign petitions Hannagan will deliver to the DNC.

And why go to the trouble? Hannagan said he is a loyal Democrat who is fed up with his party. He wants to show that someone outside the party establishment can make a difference through grassroots organizing.  "This is the first time really I've ever done anything like this," he said. "I'm really outraged and frustrated."

.............

FDR is the truest of a grassroots movement.  We are not funded.  We are not tied to any campaign.  We do not endorse a specific candidate.  Our organization is comprised solely of volunteers each of whom supports their own candidate. That support is a private and personal issue not relevant to the cause and mission of FDR.

FDR calls upon all voters, nationwide, to stand with us.  Help us change our democracy.  

Statewide Volunteer Coordinator        
    FDRvolunteer@fldeservesrecognition.com

http://fldeservesrecognition.com/home.ht ml

There's more...

Obama's Big Money

I've been curious about Obama's money connections and found two articles on the subject, excerpts of which I want to share with you.  I know he receives lots of small campaign donations, but I've been especially wondering where all his big money is coming from. The first article excerpted below covers the financial support he has received from the subprime lending industry. I also came across a fairly recent article by Pam Mertens which has proved quite helpful in my inquiry, focusing on the Obama campaign's "bundling" technique used to sidestep the actual money it's received from lobbyists.   It's a long, detailed, and well-researched account, so I'm providing just an excerpt here, which focuses on Obama "bubble".  Click on links below for full articles (and to read Mertens' analysis of Wall St. and Real Estate bubbles.)  

Obama and His Subprime Supporters -- Are His Words For Real?
  Gerald McEntee,   March 27, 2008

Thanks to the collapse of the subprime housing industry, millions of families stand at risk of losing their homes, in large measure because of unscrupulous lending policies by some of the biggest corporate hucksters this country has seen since the dawn of the Great Depression. Now, the nation's housing industry and overall economy is paying the price: foreclosure rates are skyrocketing across the country, while the nation teeters into a recession.

There were some interesting articles in Sunday's Washington Post regarding proposed solutions to this crisis. One of the articles that caught my eye came from the Obama campaign. It was written by Austan Goolsbee, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, who serves as senior economic adviser to Senator Obama's campaign.

Professor Goolsbee assures us in his Post article that Senator Obama would take immediate steps to fix the foreclosure crisis. There's a problem, however. Just a year ago, Professor Goolsbee was defending subprime loans against critics who suggested that when high payments kicked in, borrowers would risk losing their homes. Having been fooled once by Goolsbee's public proclamations on a significant economic policy, we should be cautious before we accept his newfound support for mortgage reform.

There's an important reason to doubt the Obama campaign's public expressions of support for reform of the subprime lending industry: Contributors from the industry have provided more than a million dollars to Senator Obama's campaign. In fact, Senator Obama has taken $1.8 million from the folks who have pushed these loans on unsuspecting working families. He's taken more money from the top ten subprime issuers -- more than $400,000 -- than any other presidential campaign. Even today, following his economic speech in New York, the senator scheduled a fundraiser at Credit Suisse, one of the top sub-prime underwriters in the country.

Does Professor Goolsbee's get tough approach on sub-prime lenders really reflect Senator Obama's plans? Or do the lenders who have given so much to Senator Obama's campaign know something different? Is the Obama campaign once again talking tough in public while sending private messages behind the scenes?

Senator Obama should answer this simple question: Is he planning on following the public advice of Professor Goolsbee on the subprime crisis, or is he working behind the scenes (a la NAFTA/Canadians) to keep his fat cat contributors happy?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gerald-mce ntee/obama-and-his-subprime-su_b_93778.h tml
.......................................

The Obama Bubble: Why Wall Street Needs a Presidential Brand  
Wednesday, 05 March 2008
by Pam Martens

Despite Barack Obama's claim that his campaign represents a mass "movement" of "average folks," the initial core of his support was largely comprised of rich denizens of Wall Street.

What we're actually witnessing is Obama mania, the third and final bubble orchestrated and financed by the wonderful Wall Street folks who brought us the first two: the Nasdaq/tech bubble and a subprime-mortgage-in-every-pot bubble.  We are asked to believe that those white executives at all the biggest Wall Street firms, which rank in the top 20 donors to the Obama presidential campaign, after failing to achieve more than 3.5 per cent black stockbrokers over 30 years, now want a black populist president because they crave a level playing field for the American people. (Yes, the other leading presidential candidates are taking money from lobbyists, but Senator Obama is the only one rallying with the populist cry that he isn't. That makes it not only a legitimate but a necessary line of inquiry.)

The Obama campaign's populist bubble is underpinned by what, on the surface, seems to be a real snoozer of a story. It all centers around business classification codes developed by the U.S. government and used by the Center for Responsive Politics to classify contributions. Here's how the Center explained its classifications in 2003:

"The codes used for business groups follow the general guidelines of the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes initially designed by the Office of Management and Budget and later replaced by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)..."

(otherwise known as "bundling")

The Akin Gump law firm is a prime example of how something as mundane as a business classification code can be gamed for political advantage. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Akin Gump ranks third among all Federal lobbyists.  But when its non-registered law partners, the people who own this business and profit from its lobbying operations, give to the Obama campaign, the contribution is classified as coming from a law firm, not a lobbyist. The same holds true for Greenberg Traurig, the law firm that employed the criminally inclined lobbyist, Jack Abramoff. Its partners and employee donations to the Obama campaign appear not under lobbyist but the classification lawyers/law firms, as do 30 other corporate law firm/lobbyists.

Additionally, looking at Public Citizen's list of bundlers for the Obama campaign (people soliciting donations from others), 27 are employed by law firms registered as federal lobbyists. The total sum raised February 16-29, 2008 by bundlers for Obama from these 27 firms: $2,650,000. (There are also dozens of high powered bundlers from Wall Street working the Armani-suit and red-suspenders cocktail circuits, like Bruce Heyman, managing director at Goldman Sachs; J. Michael Schell, vice chairman of Global Banking at Citigroup; Louis Susman, managing director, Citigroup; Robert Wolf, CEO, UBS Americas.) Senator Obama's premise and credibility of not taking money from federal lobbyists hangs on a carefully crafted distinction: he is taking money, lots of it, from owners and employees of firms registered as federal lobbyists but not the actual individual lobbyists. But is that dealing honestly with the American people? Those critical thinkers over at the Black Agenda Report have zeroed in on the making of the Obama bubble:

"The 2008 Obama presidential run may be the most slickly orchestrated marketing machine in memory. That's not a good thing. Marketing is not even distantly related to democracy or civic empowerment. Marketing is about creating emotional, even irrational bonds between your product and your target audience."

And slick it is. According to the Obama campaign's financial filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and aggregated at the Center for Responsive Politics, the Obama campaign has spent over $52 million on media, strategy consultants, image building, marketing research and telemarketing. The money has gone to firms like GMMB, whose website says its "goal is to change minds and change hearts, win in the court of public opinion and win votes" using "the power of branding - with principles rooted in commercial marketing", and Elevation Ltd., which has "a combined experience well over 50 years in developing and implementing advertising and marketing solutions for Fortune 500 companies, political candidates, government agencies".

Why would the super wealthy want a percieved "black populist" to become the nation's chief executive officer? The "Obama bubble" was nurtured by Wall Street in order to have a friend in the White House when the captains of capital are made to face the legal consequences for deliberately creating current and past economic "bubbles." Wall Street desperately needs a president who will sweep all the corruption and losses, would-be indictments, perp walks and prosecutions under the rug and get on with an unprecedented taxpayer bailout of Wall Street. The Wall Street plan for the Obama-bubble presidency is that of the cleanup crew for the housing bubble: sweep all the corruption and losses, would-be indictments, perp walks and prosecutions under the rug and get on with an unprecedented taxpayer bailout of Wall Street.  Who better to sell this agenda to the millions of duped mortgage holders and foreclosed homeowners in minority communities across America than our first, beloved, black president of hope and change?

Why do Wall Street and the corporate law firms think they will find a President Obama to be accommodating? As the Black Agenda Report notes, "Evidently, the giant insurance companies, the airlines, oil companies, Wall Street, military contractors and others had closely examined Barack Obama and found him pleasing." That vetting included Obama's remarkable "yes" vote on the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, a five-year effort by 475 lobbyists, despite appeals from the NAACP and every other major civil rights group. Thanks to the passage of that legislation, when defrauded homeowners of the housing bubble and defrauded investors of the bundled mortgages try to fight back through the class-action vehicle, they will find a new layer of corporate-friendly hurdles.

Corporate interests have had plenty of time to do their vetting. Democracy demands no less of we, the people.

Pam Martens worked on Wall Street for 21 years; she has no securities position, long or short, in any company mentioned in this article. She now lives in New Hampshire and writes on public interest issues.  She also is the recipient of the Woman of Courage Award from the National Organization for Women and the Susan B. Anthony Award from its New York City Chapter

http://www.blackagendareport.com/index.p hp?option=com_content&task=view& id=548&Itemid=34

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Ralph Nader to Hillary

(Maybe Obama progressives will listen up to Ralph too!)

"Senator Clinton:

Just read where Senator Patrick Leahy is calling on you to drop out of the Presidential race.

Here's my advice: Don't listen to people when they tell you not to run anymore. That's just political bigotry.

Listen to your own inner citizen First Amendment voice. This is America. Just like every other citizen, you have a right to run. Whenever you like. For as long as you like.

It's up to you, Hillary. Just tell them -- It's democracy. Get used to it.

Yours truly, Ralph Nader"

http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0 308/Whos_got_her_back.html

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Do words matter?

Jane Hamsher (firedoglake) makes an interesting point, quoting the Governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, on superdelegates (from a CNN interview on February 25):

RICHARDSON: Who elected these people? I think it's important that those...

BLITZER: Well, you're a superdelegate. You were elected by the people of New Mexico.

RICHARDSON: Well, that's right, ...

I think superdelegates should vote according to who they represent. If somebody's appointed as a superdelegate because they're Hispanic or a governor, they should pay attention to what their voters and their constituencies are saying.

.............
p.s. In New Mexico, Hispanics voted two to one for Hillary. (and Hillary won the state.) Does this mean that although BR has just endorsed BHO, he'll be casting his superdelegate vote for HRC?

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0 802/24/le.01.html

http://firedoglake.com/2008/03/21/the-un answered-questions-of-bill-richardsons-o bama-endorsement/

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What are you afraid of, Senator Obama?

What are you afraid of, Senator Obama?  

Why are you afraid to let the Democratic voters of Michigan and Florida vote?  

Are you afraid of democracy?

Why are you afraid to take up Senator Clinton's offer to join her in a town hall type forum?  In the town forum, you and Senator Clinton could together engage the electorate, take questions from the citizens, and contrast your respective plans for the country's future.  

Are you afraid of democracy in action?  

What are you afraid of, Senator Obama?

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Show Horse or Work Horse

Let's focus a bit on commitment and responsibilities.  Along these lines, I want to repeat something from a recent Irish Times article (link below) that stuck out for me, referring to Irish heads of state meeting with Hillary:

"When they visited Washington last year, First Minister Ian Paisley said he APPRECIATED THE SACRIFICE MRS. CLINTON WAS MAKING IN TAKING TIME OUT OF HER PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN, which was already intense a few weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses."

Compare that to the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on European Affairs. You know who that is.  When asked why he hasn't convened any oversight meetings (none, zero, zip), he said he was too busy running for president.  Maybe Senator Obama has missed a good opportunity to build upon his qualifications and experience in foreign affairs.  And maybe if he didn't have time for an "ambitious round of hearings" as suggested below, then maybe just one or two hearings. But since he didn't have time for any at all, maybe he should resign the position so someone who does have the time could do the job.

A Salon article by Joe Conason speaks of what can be learned in this position now chaired by Sen. Obama:

Joe Biden, D-Del., chaired the Europe subcommittee for many years during the Cold War. Biden effectively exploited the chairmanship to transform himself from a junior member into one of the Senate's most knowledgeable experts on arms control, nuclear weapons, European attitudes toward America and the Soviet Union, the European Union's policies, and the role of NATO, which also comes under the subcommittee's mandate. As a result, Biden starred in Senate hearings on the SALT II arms treaties and eventually established himself as a leading national voice on foreign policy.

As subcommittee chair, Obama could have examined a wide variety of urgent matters, from the role of NATO in Afghanistan and Iraq to European energy policy and European responses to climate change -- and of course, the undermining of the foundations of the Atlantic alliance by the Bush administration. There is, indeed, almost no issue of current global interest that would have fallen outside the subcommittee's purview.

Perhaps he could not have been expected to undertake an ambitious round of hearings when he was in the midst of deciding to run for president -- but that decision may merely point up the conflict between ambition and experience that has raised questions about his candidacy.

http://www.salon.com/opinion/conason/200 7/12/29/obama_europe/

http://www6.lexisnexis.com/publisher/End User?Action=UserDisplayFullDocument& orgId=574&topicId=100007429&docI d=l:758457504&start=25)

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Inside Guys' Strategy: the Real Race Card

Here's some interesting insights from Reese Schonfeld, co-founder of CNN and a former VP of UPI News.  (I've had similar thoughts myself.)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/reese-scho nfeld/#blogger_bio

I grew up in Newark where all politics was ethnic. I've never gotten over it. But, for the past six months I've heard pundits prattle and seen the writers writhe in print as they endeavor to explain the roll of "race" in the Democratic primaries. It's like, "Gee, do you think that race has anything to do with Obama's candidacy?" Come on guys. We all know it does.

Here's what I think really happened. A bunch of guys -- none of them Bill Clinton fans -- decided that the Democratic Party needs a candidate who isn't named Hillary. But it looked like Hillary couldn't be beaten -- she owned the black vote. Her husband was the "first black President". How can you beat her?

Everybody I grew up with in Newark knew the answer to that. You take the black vote away from her. You find a black-black man who can deprive her of her advantage with blacks. Quickly you discover you don't have too many options.

Jackson and Sharpton are yesterday and they carry a lot of baggage. There's a new governor in Massachusetts, but nobody's ever heard of him. Herald Ford, the ex-Congressman from Tennessee would have been perfect, but he lost his bid for the Senate last year and he's on the sidelines now. And then there's, Barack Obama.

Obama's smart, looks good on camera and hasn't been around long enough to make any major mistakes. He's the right guy in the right place at the right time. If we play our cards right it totally changes the primaries. Obama gets ninety percent of the black vote, Hilary loses her ethnic edge and we go on to victory.

It's a genius strategy, and every ward politician I grew up with in Newark would've figured it out in a second-and-a-half. If you wanna beat the other guy, steal his base.

So, how'd Obama get the nod? Just lucky, I guess.
...................

I myself would also add to Mr. Sconfeld's analysis:

Those same guys who set the strategy to get Hillary's AA vote also made sure things got royally screwed up in Florida so the advantage goes to Obama again.

Sadly, the devastating side effect of the inside guys' strategy has been the dividing of the Democratic Party, and we're pretty much doomed now in the General Election. If Obama's the nominee he'll get AA and young "progressive" voters in the GE; can't exactly win with that. And FL and MI Dem voters are so alienated by the failure of the DNC to protect their voting rights, they'll sit out GE. If Hillary gets the nomination, the AA vote will be so disappointed their guy didn't get it that they may sit out GE.

Sometimes it seems like the DNC is working for Karl Rove. Republicans couldn't be happier with this whole scenario.

p.s.  re: Schonfeld's reference above to the "lucky nod"; maybe Gerry was right.

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Obama Lets Bush Off the Hook Again

At a speech in Pennsylvania yesterday, Obama repeated the old Iraq Resolution lie:  

"Hillary Clinton gave George Bush a blank check for war."

There was no blank check.  Even Sandra Day O'Connor has said there was no blank check.  

In Resolution HR114/SR45, Bush agreed to, quote:

"work with the U.N. Security Council to meet the common challenge posed by Iraq"

On 3/7/03 the U.N. inspectors reported there was no evidence of a WMD program and requested more time to complete their work.  Bush dismissed their report and gave Hussein a 48-hour eviction notice, declaring the U.S. forces were on their way.  Mr. Bush did not abide by his own resolution to work with the U.N. to meet the challenge of Iraq and broke his word to our own representatives in Congress and the Senate.  Instead of putting the blame where it belongs, squarely on the shoulders of George Bush, Obama is shifting blame to his fellow Democrats who did everything they could to make sure the U.N. was involved and to keep the U.N. inspectors in there to finish their work.

Along these same lines, former Ambasador Joe Wilson (you know the guy whose wife the Bushies set out to destroy because he courageously put out the truth about Nigerian yellow cake) has said:

"Obama never mentions that Hans Blix, the chief United Nations weapons inspectors, declared that without the congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force the inspectors would never have been allowed into Iraq. Hillary's approach -- and that of the majority of Democrats in the Senate -- was to let the inspectors complete their work while building an international coalition. Hillary's was the road untaken. The betrayal of the American people, and of the Congress, came when President Bush refused to allow the inspections to succeed, and that betrayal is his and his party's, not the Democrats."

Obama, I implore you to read that section of the resolution which stated the important condition of U.N. involvement, and I further implore you to stop repeating the lie that George Bush was given a blank check for his pre-emptive war.  NOT!!!

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Letter from Florida Dem Chair

Florida Democratic Party

Dear Democrat,

For a year now, the Florida Democratic Party has tried to comply with the Delegate Selection Rules of the Democratic National Committee.

We researched every potential alternative process - from caucuses to county conventions to mail-in elections - but no plan could come anywhere close to being viable in Florida.

We made a detailed case to the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee, but we were denied.

Our Democratic legislators in Tallahassee tried to set the Florida primary on Feb. 5, instead of Jan. 29, but of course, their proposed amendment to House Bill 537 was greeted with laughter and derision from the Republicans who control the state government. Listen here:

http://www.dangelber.com/audio/RepGelber exchangewithRepRivera3May2007.wma

Does '537' ring a bell? It should. It's the number of votes that separated Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore in Florida in 2000.

It's the number that sent this country and this world in a terrible direction.

We can't let 537 - or the Republicans - determine our future again.

President Bush plans to stop in Florida tomorrow to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Republican National Committee's efforts to elect his successor in November.

The last thing America needs is a third Bush term. Despite the widespread anxiety that working families feel, not to mention the broad agreement among economists that we are in a recession, President Bush and John McCain blindly believe that the economy is strong.

And let me remind you that John McCain endorsed President Bush's decision to deny health care to thousands of Florida children by vetoing an expansion of the successful SCHIP program. McCain also promises to jeopardize the financial security of Florida seniors by privatizing Social Security. He continually threatens to push Florida's military families to the brink by keeping American troops in Iraq for "100 years" or more.

This is why we are Democrats, and this is why we must stick together, no matter where this ongoing delegate debate takes us.

Last week, the Florida Democratic Party laid out the only existing way that we can comply with DNC Rules - a statewide revote run by the Party - and asked for input.

Thousands of people responded. We spent the weekend reviewing your messages, and while your reasons vary widely, the consensus is clear: Florida doesn't want to vote again.

So we won't.

A party-run primary or caucus has been ruled out, and it's simply not possible for the state to hold another election, even if the Party were to pay for it. Republican Speaker of the Florida House Marco Rubio refuses to even consider that option. Florida is finally moving to paper ballots, which is a good thing, but it means that at least 15 counties do not have the capacity to handle a major election before the June 10th DNC primary deadline.

This doesn't mean that Democrats are giving up on Florida voters. It means that a solution will have to come from the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee, which is scheduled to meet again in April.

When this committee stripped us of 100% of our delegates last year, some members summed up their reasoning by saying, "The rules are the rules." Unfortunately, the rules did not apply to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina when they, too, violated the DNC calendar by moving from their assigned dates.

As the late great Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "We must adjust our ideas to the facts of today... Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are."

The Florida Democratic Party has stuck to its principles throughout this debate. We've remained open-minded while never wavering from our commitment to an open and fair election that would allow all Florida Democrats to participate, whether serving in Iraq, retiring in Boca, studying abroad or entertaining at a theme park.

Another late great President -Abraham Lincoln, a Republican - said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

If Democrats heed this wisdom, we will win in November.

America needs a great president again, but a President McCain will settle for the status quo and carry on the disastrous Bush tradition.

President Clinton or President Obama will make history and lead this nation in a new direction.

Let's remember this as the delegate debate continues. We must stick together as Democrats. The stakes are too high and the opportunities too great.

I will keep you posted on any major developments. Thank you for your concern and your commitment.

Sincerely,

Congresswoman Karen L. Thurman
Chair, Florida Democratic Party

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Lanny Davis to Obama Campaign

Correcting the Obama Campaign's ongoing lies and distortions is getting to be more than a full-time job.  I hope Lanny Davis's letter will help put a stop to it.  After Lanny's letter to O people, I'm also including the Irish Times report on the same subject, which also sets the record straight.  STOP THE LIES.

Here's Lanny's piece, with link below:

OBAMA MEMO-WRITER STRIKES -- AND IS WRONG -- AGAIN

Dear Barack Obama campaign,

The author of the "attack Hillary" record memo recently widely distributed by your campaign was, in my opinion, filled with distortions and personal innuendo -- written by someone who was carries "former" titles from Clinton administration only because of the Clintons.

Regarding her role in Northern Ireland in the peace process, which the uninformed memo writer falsely belittles, objective observers should read yesterday's newspaper story from the Scranton Times. Not only does it quote the Irish Prime Minister confirming the important role she played, but many other key Irish leaders.

And as with other members of his campaign who have made false accusations against Senator Clinton, Senator Obama should show the grace and good judgment to repudiate the author of this memo and ask him either to do better research before attacking Senator Clinton again.

The Obama campaign claims George Mitchell, the person in charge of the investigation, supports their view that Hillary's claims about Northern Ireland are exaggerated. John Hume, who won the Nobel Prize for Peace for his work on Northern Ireland:

I can state from firsthand experience that she played a positive role for over a decade in helping to bring peace to Northern Ireland... Anyone criticizing her foreign policy involvement should look at her very active and positive approach to Northern Ireland and speak with the people of Northern Ireland who have the highest regard for her and are very grateful for her very active support for our peace process.
George Mitchell, who is cited in the Obama memo as an authoritative source, told Katie Couric last night that Hillary played "a helpful and supportive role" in Northern Ireland that ended up making "a difference in the process." He described what Hillary has said about her role as "accurate."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lanny-davi s/the-obama-memo-writer-str_b_91888.html

from The Irish Times:

Obama Campaign Accuses Clinton of Inflating Northern Ireland Role
Irish Times,
by Denis Staunton, March 12, 2008

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have clashed over the former first lady's record in Northern Ireland, with Mr. Obama's campaign claiming that she has exaggerated her part in the peace process. In a memo published yesterday, the Obama campaign accused Mrs. Clinton of inflating her role in the North.

In a memo published yesterday, however, the Obama campaign accused Mrs. Clinton of inflating her role in the North.
"It is a gross overstatement of the facts for her to claim even partial credit for bringing peace to Northern Ireland," wrote Greg Craig, a former state department official who is backing Mr. Obama.  

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams told The Irish Times that, although he admires all three remaining US presidential candidates and is not endorsing any of them, Mrs. Clinton is justified in claiming a role in the peace process. "Senator Clinton played an important role in the peace process," he said. "I met the senator on many occasions when she was First Lady, and subsequently when she became a senator for New York State. I always found her to be extremely well informed on the issues."

Former SDLP leader John Hume has come to Mrs. Clinton's defense, expressing surprise that anyone should doubt the importance of her contribution.  "I can state from first-hand experience that she played a positive role for over a decade in helping to bring peace to Northern Ireland," he said in a statement posted on Mrs. Clinton's website. "There is no doubt that the people of Northern Ireland think very positively of Hillary Clinton's support for our peace process, due to her visits to Northern Ireland and her meetings with so many people. In private she made countless calls and contacts, speaking to leaders and opinion makers on all sides, urging them to keep moving forward."

Mrs. Clinton visited Ireland seven times between 1995 and 2004, both as first lady and as a US senator. She went beyond the traditional, ceremonial duties of first lady, however, particularly in facilitating the engagement of women in the political process by introducing Vital Voices, an international organisation she founded with former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, to the North.

Former senator George Mitchell, who chaired the talks leading up to the 1998 agreement, said this week that he believed that Mrs. Clinton's characterisation of her role was generally accurate. "She was helpful and supportive, very much involved in the issues. She knew all of the delegates," he told CBS News.  "Her greatest focus was on encouraging women in Northern Ireland to get into and stay in the political process and the peace process and as I've said publicly many times and wrote in my book, the role of women in the peace process in Northern Ireland was significant."

Since becoming a US senator, Mrs. Clinton has visited Ireland twice and is one of the most accessible figures on Capitol Hill for visiting Irish politicians. Her staff liaise regularly with Irish and British diplomats in Washington on Northern Irish issues and maintain contacts with all the parties in the North.  When they visited Washington last year, First Minister Ian Paisley said he appreciated the sacrifice Mrs. Clinton was making in taking time out of her presidential campaign, which was already intense a few weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

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