Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Nothing's what you get for free

You've gotta dig, dig, dig, dig for your dinner,
Nothin's what you get for free.
You've gotta dig, dig, dig, dig for your dinner,
Never was a money tree.
And furthermore, my friends, I must repeat,
Nobody's livin' down on Easy Street;
And if you want to owe for groceries,
You're gonna get an awful lot of "No sir-ee's."
You've gotta dig, dig, dig, dig for a dollar,
'Taint as simple as you think.

-- "Dig-Dig-Dig for Your Dinner," lyrics by Mack Gordon, music by Harry Warren, sung by Gene Kelly in Summer Stock

"Once again tonight, you and I stood together and showed America what we're made of," Hillary Clinton declared in last night's Kentucky primary victory speech. "Every time we win another state, we prove something about ourselves and about our country. And did we ever prove something tonight in Kentucky. We showed America that the voters know what the 'experts' will never understand -- that in our great democracy, elections are about more than candidates running, pundits commenting, or ads blaring."

And, yes, despite the false media narrative that the race is over, despite the rants that Hillary should drop out, Hillary won Kentucky last night, adding yet another state to her list of recent victories which most recently includes West Virginia and Indiana. 700,690 Democrats went to the polls and voted. Hillary beat Barack in a 35.5% win with 459,093 voters selecting her -- nearly 250,000 more votes than he received (his total is 209,869). Third place went to "UNCOMMITTED" (17,526 votes) and, coming in dead last, John Edwards (14,202 or 2% of the vote). (Results posted here at Kentucky's Secretary of State website.)

In her victory speech, Hillary pointed out, "Some have said your votes didn't matter, that this campaign was over, that allowing everyone to vote and every vote to count would somehow be a mistake. But that didn't stop you. You've never given up on me because you know I’ll never give up on you." Voters tend to agree judging by exit polls. CNN notes 49% of those voting in the Democratic primary (which was a closed primary) declared that if Hillary was not the Democratic Party nominee come November, John McCain and not voting become their choices with 33% choosing McCain and 16% choosing to abstain from voting in the presidential race -- an increase of 5% from West Virginia where 44% stated they would vote for McCain or not vote if Barack was the nominee in November.

In today's New York Times, Adam Nagourney and Jeff Zeleny don't lead with that information and pretty much disregard the rising anti-Barack sentiment (he peaked in Februrary) and stress his campaign's claim (as opposed to reporting) that, come November, he will be able to pull her "supporters into his camp; winning over elements of the Democratic coalition like working-class whites, Hispanics and Jews". Not very likely. Not only is Hillary ahead in the popular vote, Barack can't connect with working-class voters as a group. He remains distant and detached from them and that connection is not a 'skill' you suddenly pick up. His disdain for them and his campaign's disdain for them has been apparent throughout the primary cycle. This is not something you easily 'heal' in a matter of months especially when you avoid visiting states. (He would not have done significantly better in those states had he visited during the primary. The issue is that by refusing to campaign there he only solidified the message that he doesn't care for those voters.)

Two weeks ago, when Barack made his showy campaign appearance (a violation of House rules) on the floor of the House of Representatives, he couldn't stop yammering -- while repeatedly pleading for reporters to leave him alone. And, check the video, one thing he promised then was that he would be in Kentucky. He was not. It goes to "empty words" when someone's already against you. It's one more barrier, one more hurdle to overcome.

As Ava and I noted:

Barack has a real problem with working Americans and that's no one's fault but his own. There was no reason to speak in Iowa about the price of arugala at Whole Foods. Iowa doesn't have a Whole Foods store anywhere in the state. There was no reason for him to sneer that working class Americans "cling" to guns, religion and anti-immigration attitudes. That last one gets left out by Jeanne and her crowd. If you include it, Barack can't -- as he does these days -- lie that he wasn't insulting working class Americans. If you include it, he can't dance around what he said and insist it wasn't an insult.

The insult was real, people are aware of it. Barack's got serious electability problems and they're not going away. In addition, Hillary now leads in the popular vote. His campaign was the one that repeatedly cited "the will of the people." As the press rushes to credit his self-created, self-defined delegate count as a 'milestone,' the other one his campaign repeatedly trumpted ("the will of the people") gets forgotten. One of the few following that was Michael Saul (New York Daily News) who noted back in March:

The two numbers don't always jive: Clinton handily won the Nevada caucuses, but Obama won more pledged delegates from the Silver State because of a weighted allotment system.
Obama now wields a nearly insurmountable lead in pledged delegates. But if Clinton has boffo showings in the Pennsylvania primary April 22 and nabs repeat wins in the re-do of Florida and Michigan, she could surpass him in the popular vote.

And of course US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was telling Bloomberg in February:

"It's not just following the returns; it's also having a respect for what has been said by the people. Pelosi said. It would be "a problem for the party if the verdict would be something different than the public has decided," she said.

That's a "milestone" and it's one that's forgotten by the press today and it's also a "milestone" that Barack's campaign created very early on.

The race isn't over. Montana, South Dakota and Puerto Rico still have to vote and, despite the press cuddling of Barack, there is not going to be a winner from the awarding of delegates. Neither candidate will reach the required number of awarded delegates. (Super delegates count . . . on the convention floor. That's the way it's supposed to work.) Barring one of the candidates dropping out of the race, by all rules and guidelines, it now continues to the convention floor in August.

The same press that refused to question Bully Boy refuses to question Barack. He didn't reach a "milestone" yesterday. It's amazing that some Democrats pretended to be outraged over the last seven years about a press that didn't tell the truth -- apparently the issue was never about the truth, it was just 'bitter' (to use Barack's term) grapes over the fact that it wasn't the spin they wanted to hear.

No milestone was reached by Barack. No winner has emerged (nor will one from awarded delegates). What is known is that as voters get to know more and more about Barack, they like him less and less. No surprise and no wonder the Obama campaign worked so hard to push Hillary out of the race repeatedly. Crushes often fade. He is now the weaker candidate and Hillary is now the strongest. Elaine outlines several markers that should guide the decision at the convention. The race isn't over.


Turning to Iraq . . .

Maybe it's because the Bush administration didn't anticipate that the U.S. military would have to deal with detaining minors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or maybe it anticipated that grim possibility, but didn't care to come up with guidelines for how to handle these teens, some as young as 13.
Either way, a new report by the United Nations to the U.N.'s Committee on the Rights of the Child reveals that our war on terrorism has resulted in the detention of up to 2,500 minors, mostly in Iraq.

The above is from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's "Iraq And Afghanistan: Recruiting young." On that topic, Human Rights Watch (via Relief Net) lists somethings that need to be done:

To date, the United States has not released statistics on the number of children it has transferred to Iraqi custody for trial. According to UNAMI, 89 children transferred from US to Iraqi custody had been convicted of offenses by December 2007. Between December 2007 and March 2008, there was a drop of 450 children in US custody, but the United States has not made known whether they were released or transferred to Iraqi custody.
Human Rights Watch calls on US military forces in Iraq to:
- Ensure children in its custody receive prompt access to independent legal assistance and family visits;
- Provide children with prompt review of detention by an independent judicial body;
- Release children who have been detained for more than a year, in compliance with Section 6, Article 5 of Coalition Provisional Authority Memo 3 (revised) of June 27, 2004;
- Separate very young and other particularly vulnerable children from other detainees;
- Allow UNICEF, UNAMI, and other independent monitors confidential access to children in US custody;
- Refrain from transferring physical custody of children to Iraqi authorities pending trial when there is reason to believe they will be at risk of abuse; and,
- Ensure the right to education and recreation of all children in US custody.

Near the end of April, the United Nations' News Centre published "Iraqi children are silent victims of ongoing violence, says UN envoy:"

Wrapping up a six-day visit to Iraq, the United Nations human rights envoy tasked with protecting the rights of children caught up in armed conflict said that the war-ravaged country's children are silent victims of the continued violence.

"Many of them are no longer go to school, many are recruited for violent activities or detained in custody, they lack access to the most basic services and manifest a wide range of psychological symptoms from the violence in their everyday lives," said Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.

She urged religious, political, military and community leaders to encourage children to stay out of the violence and return to their studies.

Martha Neil covers the topic for the ABA in "US Now Holding 500 Juveniles in Iraq; Was Holding 2,500:"

In a report to a United Nations committee, the United States says it is holding 500 juveniles, apparently in adult detention facilities, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2002, a total of some 2,500 have reportedly been detained as suspected "unlawful enemy combatants."

And the US government has already issued a statement (which I can't find) noting that Iraq is a war and that "unlawful enemy combatants" isn't the term they use for those imprisoned in Iraq. The statement also maintains that the Geneva Conventions are followed. (So with that whopper included, it's probably not worth finding the statement; however, before some right-winger e-mails to whine, it's been noted.)

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