Archive for April, 2008

Spin and Facts…Who has more ‘popular votes’?

In today’s Daily Kos, there is a post on the current popular vote count. The Hillary supporters are jamming the airwaves with news that she is ahead in the popular vote count. However, their stats don’t seem to include the Caucus states. They ARE including the Florida and Michigan results to their tally total, where Obama was not even on the ballot in Michigan, thus negating their claims to being ahead! If these words are repeated often enough on the MSM outlets and the lead anchors and reporters don’t either know the stats or are not challenging them, they become a reality and truth by day’s end. Please urge your media pundits to analyze the facts – or at least stop by worthy blog posts like Daily Kos, for example, for some needed perspective. 

You can go to Real Clear Politics to get the complete stats first hand yourselves.  Here is a sampling:

Popular Vote Count
State Date   Obama Clinton       Spread
Popular Vote Total     14,417,134 49.2% 13,916,781 47.5%       Obama +500,353 +1.7%


Here’s the post from Daily Kos:

My good friend Jerome has done just that, picking up on the most ridiculous of Clinton spins today:

After last night’s decisive victory in Pennsylvania, more people have voted for Hillary than any other candidate, including Sen. Obama.

Estimates vary slightly, but according to Real Clear Politics, Hillary has received 15,095,663 votes to Sen. Obama’s 14,973,720, a margin of more than 120,000 votes. ABC News reported this morning that “Clinton has pulled ahead of Obama” in the popular vote.

Actually, that’s simply ridiculous. Go to Real Clear Politics and look at their popular vote estimates (pre-Pennsylvania):

Popular vote total: Obama +717,086
Estimate w/IA, NV, ME, WA: Obama +827,308

Popular Vote (w/FL): Obama +422,314
Estimate w/IA, NV, ME, WA: Obama +532,536

Popular Vote (w/FL *MI): Obama +94,005
Estimate w/IA, NV, ME, WA: Obama +204,227

So see what they have done — the Clinton campaign and Jerome have taken the roughly 215,000 net votes Clinton gained in Pennsylvania, and added them to the popular vote count that includes the unsanctioned contests in Michigan and Florida, and excludes caucuses in four states. How’s that for inclusiveness?

It gets worse. That Michigan vote estimate? Obama wasn’t on the ballot. If you count the “uncommitted” votes for Obama — all of them anti-Hillary votes, remember — that would add 237,762 votes to Obama’s total.

Which means that in Clinton and Jerome’s world, Clinton is ahead in the popular vote only IF you exclude four caucus states, IF you include two unsanctioned states, and IF you “disenfranchise” every voter in Michigan who voted against Hillary Clinton.

That takes a new and particularly audacious level of chutzpah.

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World Food Crisis, Rising Prices, Rationing in the US?

The impact of the world food shortages and price crisis are slowly beginning to hit home here in the US it seems.  After consistent reporting in the NYT Editorials (and here) news features in other papers, recent periodical features like the one in TIME Magazine and in the past few days, actual reporting of this crisis on local US news channels, seems to be bringing the reality closer to home.  Just today it was reported that the large warehouse, bulk shopping stores: Sam’s Club and Costco have put limits by rationing the number of bags of rice (imported) each customer can purchase.  Just last week where I usually bought ‘Buy one 10lb. bag of Basmati Rice, Get One Free’, no longer was giving the 2nd bag away for free.  Ouch. 

Ears of wheat growing in a field

Photograph: Steve Satushek/Getty Images

I never think of rice or grain shortage as a reality anyone in the US would ever have to face.  Food doesn’t run out or get rationed here.  We’ve had our fuel shortages of course, but nothing like this.  Many of us are noticing how much more food is costing these days.  Just do a survey of your weekly grocery bill and observe. At least a 10-20% increase in certain food purchases.  Add the near $4/gallon of gas price to that and even the upper middle class is feeling the pinch.

What is happening around the world is far more brutal.  Hundreds of millions are going to bed hungry.  And millions are unable to afford to buy the scarce staples of rice or wheat priced beyond their means.  Riots and killings are widespread in countries which never had to deal with severe food shortages and exponential price increases.  In many countries like Vietnam, Nigeria, Ukraine, and Haiti, food accounts for half if not more of a family’s income spending. The lack of purchasing power coupled with food shortage related price hikes is wreaking havoc in dozens of countries around the world currently.

Why this crisis?  There are many reasons and also some very sound arguments for this question.  The high cost of oil is fueling higher production costs for farmers in grain exporting countries to produce their crops, thus raising the price of the commodities.  Due to droughts in large exporting countries like Austrailia, they have had a wheat shortage which has hiked up prices and reduced their wheat exports.  Another promoter of the current shortages and pricing crisis of wheat, rice and other staple commodities is the fact that subsidies have been given to farmers who convert their crops into biofuels like ethanol made from corn and other grains, outplacing land for grain and rice crops. 

Here is another good analysis of the current food crisis and the reasons why the world is in such a vulnerable state.


Tomorrow I think I may need to go and buy a couple of bags of rice…

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President Bill Clinton on the politics of Fear vs. Hope…


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Soundbites and Context…Obama’s Words

Here’s a report from an actual attendee of the now infamous San Francisco Fundraiser for Obama.  Unfortunately, the soundbites and his impromptu response have droned on and on on the MSM outlets, and as the case usually goes, the context is not provided. 

I was hoping someone would come forward and tell a more complete and contextual account of the response Obama gave to a question from the audience at the April 6 Fundraiser in San Francisco.  I was fortunate to have attended an earlier event where Obama spoke – his ability to listen to and acutely understand your question and then provide a well thought out answer, full of detail, passion, compassion and pragmatism was remarkable [plus he’s a really witty guy, and very comfortable with who he is].  So, thank you to Mr. David Coleman for stepping forward and providing some needed perspective to this out of control spin on Obama’s latest ‘gaffe’.

I Was There: What Obama Really Said About Pennsylvania

By:David Coleman

Posted April 14, 2008 | 11:54 AM (EST) [From The Huffington Post]

Last Sunday evening I attended the San Francisco fundraiser that has been the center of recent political jousting. The next day, when asked about the talk Obama delivered, I too commented about his answer to a question he was asked about Pennsylvania. Over the past week, though, I have had a Rashomon-like experience concerning those remarks.

Clinton, McCain, and media pundits have parsed a blogger’s audio tape of Obama’s remarks and criticized a sentence or two characterizing some parts of Pennsylvania and the attitudes of some Pennsylvanians. In context and in person, Senator Obama‘s remarks about Pennsylvania voters left an impression diametrically opposed to that being trumpeted by his competitor’s campaigns.

At the end of Obama’s remarks standing between two rooms of guests — the fourth appearance in California after traveling earlier in the day from Montana — a questioner asked, “some of us are going to Pennsylvania to campaign for you. What should we be telling the voters we encounter?”

Obama’s response to the questioner was that there are many, many different sections in Pennsylvania comprised of a range of racial, geographic, class, and economic groupings from Appalachia to Philadelphia. So there was not one thing to say to such diverse constituencies in Pennsylvania. But having said that, Obama went on say that his campaign staff in Pennsylvania could provide the questioner (an imminent Pennsylvania volunteer) with all the talking points he needed. But Obama cautioned that such talking points were really not what should be stressed with Pennsylvania voters.

Instead he urged the volunteer to tell Pennsylvania voters he encountered that Obama’s campaign is about something more than programs and talking points. It was at this point that Obama began to talk about addressing the bitter feelings that many in some rural communities in Pennsylvania have about being brushed aside in the wake of the global economy. Senator Obama appeared to theorize, perhaps improvidently given the coverage this week, that some of the people in those communities take refuge in political concerns about guns, religion and immigration. But what has not so far been reported is that those statements preceded and were joined with additional observations that black youth in urban areas are told they are no longer “relevant” in the global economy and, feeling marginalized, they engage in destructive behavior. Unlike the week’s commentators who have seized upon the remarks about “bitter feelings” in some depressed communities in Pennsylvania, I gleaned a different meaning from the entire answer.

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Psst, Pass this on to Candidate Obama (…and Hillary): A Foreign Policy Road Map

If these candidates want to score some Bush-bashing points on the foreign policy front, there is excellent fodder coming out of Pakistani politics these days.  How better to make the case stronger that Bush’s foreign policy agenda: supporting a dictator, not actual democratic institutions, has continued to fail, as has been illustrated in the more recent aftermath of the post-dictatorship under the freshly minted (and freely elected) new leadership.  A new day has dawned in Pakistan, with some hope for the future (again).

As the new leadership, primarily comprised of a coalition between two political parties – the PPP (Benazir Bhutto’s Party, now led by Asif Zardari) and PML-N (Nawaz Sharif’s Party) has quickly and deftly shown, that they are working hard to promote the idea of what a ‘democratically’ elected parliament can do.  The new PM and this parliament have released the judges, foremost among them, the chairman of the Bar Association (Aitzaz Ahsan) and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Iftikhar Chaudhury) from the house arrest they had been illegally put under: by Bush’s foremost ally, Pervez Musharraf.  The new Speaker of the House is the nation’s first female speaker, Dr. Fehmida Mirza. Fahmida MirzaFahmida MirzaFahmida MirzaFahmida Mirza

 The new coalition government, headed by Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gilani, with the legal community and members of parliament sent a clear message to the US through their envoy’s (Negroponte’s) ill-timed arrival in Pakistan: “It is no longer a one-man-show”.  If the US wants to subvert terrorism and extremism, then the institutions of democracy: an independant judiciary, constitutional order, a free media, rule of law, equal opportunity and access to medical care, education, social services and economic mobility – must be supported and nurtured.  Without these basic musts in a society (which Pakistanis are working harder than ever to develop, maintain and build), the extremist elements will continue to be fueled in their absence.  Essentially, this is the argument which Senator Joseph Biden (US, Democrat, Delaware) has been vociferously making.  He has been, as they say, ‘spot on’, from the start. He gets the political nuances and also understands what is at stake for the United States.  A possible cabinet post, Secretary of State?  Here is a brief glimpse of his ‘new approach for Pakistan’:

BIDEN:  “With this election, the moderate majority has regained its voice.  The United States should seize the moment to move from a policy focused on a personality – Mr. Musharraf – to one based on an entire country – Pakistan.”
BIDEN:  “We must:  1) Triple non-military assistance and sustain it for a decade; 2) Give the new government – if it is formed consistent with democratic principles – a democracy dividend of $1 billion above this annual assistance to jump start progress; 3) Demand transparency and accountability in the military aid we continue to provide; and 4) Engage with Pakistanis on issues important to them, rather than just on those topics of interest to us.”

The war against terror must be fought significantly differently than how it has been so badly mishandled by the Bush Administration.  Surprisingly, the western and US press is finally getting it.  We need our current Presidential Candidates to jump onto this bandwagon.  It can only help them!

Two articles on the topic appeared in two publications (Huffington Post, and a Canadian source MWC).  Do read.

  1. U.S. Must Quit Bush’s Chicken Little Politics in Pakistan, Cold Turkey
  2. Pakistan Demonstrates the Wisdom of America’s Founding Fathers

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