What a free speech zone looks like in Denver this week

Free Speech.

Does free speech means you can say whatever you want as long as it’s away from anyone who might be disturbed by the content of the message? I don’t think so. The whole idea of free speech is to have your message out where people can hear it.

Here’s where today’s march for Hillary supporters was shunted to.

This is what a marching permit gives you in Denver this week–at least for Hillary supporters. Down an alley and into this bit of sidewalk. A huge parking lot separates the marchers from anyone who might inadvertently catch a glimpse of a Hillary rally sign.

This is what Democracy looks like.

UPDATE: For video of the cages, barbed wire, stun guns, etc. prepared for protesters, here is the link. My favorite, after a 40 minute walk I find the actual “Free speech zone and test the live mic. And here is the YouTube I made of the occasion for posterity.

Why Barack Obama should tap Hillary for VP–and why she should accept

The Pumas over at pumapac.org had a minor squabble today as some of them tried to make “Nobama” the official creed of the website.  In other words, they don’t want Hillary to accept the Vice Presidency and they won’t vote for Obama even if Hillary is on the ticket.

The Hillary supporters are understandably alienated from the Democratic party. Their candidate was attacked primarily for being female, not for any policy positions or leadership qualities she does or doesn’t have.  She “threw the kitchen sink” at Obama?  What’s that about?  Now the Obama campaign says McCain that he is throwing “everything” at Obama.  Why is the “kitchen” reference being dropped now?  And when Barack and Hillary met at Unity New Hampshire for their joint speech, all Obama could talk about was how she “could do it in heels” as if she were some sort of mysterious monster who didn’t have feet like the rest of us.  I don’t remember seeing her in heels, quite frankly.  And she looks shorter up close than on stage. If she had heels on she would probably look a bit taller.

Even now the party regulars are talking about Hillary’s “historical candidacy”, not her capable candidacy and whether or not she actually got a majority of the popular vote.  While the differences between male and female in the political arena are not obvious to me, at every turn, the Obama campaign pulled out something about her that was distinctly female, not global that everyone could relate to, as if to say, see?… she’s not like us.  If you would turn that around and start making constant racial references about, say, shining shoes or eating watermelon or fried chicken or even just easier suntanning, I bet there would be a very quick public recognition of unfairness, but using female stereotyping doesn’t seem to register on the public psyche.

The gender war extended to informal talking points as well.  The whisper campaign in Chicago was “a candidate needs to be strong”.  Even now the street people lurch around downtown muttering about politics, apparently unaware that the primary season is over, and saying “men are stronger than women”, therefore you have to vote for the man.  Of course, when a woman does appear to be strong or comes right out and says “I am a fighter”, then she is not seen as a proper female, and she starts to lose the educated white males, who don’t think women or anyone else should turn to fighting instead of diplomacy.

Okay, you get the idea.  Everything thrown at Hillary was gender based.  Not just the B-word in the songs played at official functions and worse all over the Obama official website.  Not just the crude anatomical remarks in the blogs.  But also the organized talking points and twists of phrasing and emotionally loaded content worked into comments and campaign speeches. And as for Hillary’s supporters, well, they don’t have valid interests, like the mortgage crisis or health care or social security or anything, they’re just having emotional storms.   It’s all about stuff like catharsis.  Silly hysterical women.  How quickly the DNC accepts that type of argument.

So what are the choices that Hillary’s supporters now have?

1. Keep trying to get Hillary the nomination.  After all, the convention is not over, the vote was close, and neither Hillary nor Barack has enough votes to win without the superdelegates.  I say go for it.  The process was put in place for a reason.  They should follow it.

We already have one president who doesn’t think he should follow the rules in everything from reporting for military service to writing “signing statements” about which parts of every new law he doesn’t intend to follow. We don’t need another president who ignores the law and ends up with approval ratings in the dungeon.

If Hillary had not dropped out of the race when she did, she would have been able to continue to collect contributions through August, and pay down considerably more of her campaign debt.   She did drop out, and for the benefit of the Democratic party, not for her own benefit. The party has not helped her and has marginalized those who supported her, whose interests she represented. You see the talking points all over the blogs: “you lost, get over it”.  The Democratic leadership considers Hillary’s supporter to be losers, not voters. The message the DNC gives them is not “your interests are important and will be represented by us in some way” but “you are not important.”  When that happens, voters go looking for someone who says they are important and who will represent their interests.

In the likely event that Hillary does not get the nomination, the followers will then have new choices.

1) Hold their noses and vote for Obama.

2) Write in Hillary’s name, possibly invalidating their ballots.

3) Vote for McCain.

4) Vote for a third party candidate, like Nader, Barr, or McKinney, thus helping McCain win but in way that shows dissatisfaction with the Democrats rather than satisfaction with the Republicans.

5)  Forget about the presidential race and work to elect candidates to the congress who will stop voting with Bush and who will bring back peace and prosperity. Politics is local.

Quite frankly , I think there is room under the Puma umbrella for all of the above positions. But I don’t think the Pumas should write off the idea of Hillary as vice president until the moment  Obama actually names someone else, if he does.

Usually the arguments for Hillary as Vice President are advanced along lines of winning the general election.  Swing states. Electoral votes.  Hillary won these states, they say, and Obama can win them with Hillary on the ticket.  Okay that’s important, but I want to go beyond the math.

What would an Obama/Clinton ticket be able to accomplish for the country?  What would the next four years look like?  First of all, whether you are a true believer Koolaid drinker or an empty suiter Clintonista, you have to admit that Obama can deliver a speech. Imagine the next four years with stunning rhetoric and even more stunning delivery.  And vision.  Not to mention hope, change, and audacity.

Now, everyone pretty much admits that Hillary is a tireless policy wonk.  3AM and all that. Also that she knows how to meet endlessly with foreign leaders and people who can help her legislative agenda.  She’s hardly a noob with either domestic or foreign policy. Now, imagine Hillary explaining things to Obama’s speechwriters.  Oooh! I like this more and more. Obama can be like Ronald Reagan and sit in the oval office like teflon while Hillary and the minions keep everything running smoothly.

But here is the real reason Hillary should be VP.  It’s no secret that Hillary wanted Obama as her VP when she was the frontrunner.  She could have run an attack machine like McCain is running now, but she pulled her punches.   She said he didn’t have “experience”.  Now you can’t get over having an evil character, but you can get over not having experience, just by getting some experience–as a VP under an experienced president.  So Obama could have gotten his experience under her, if indeed he is capable of working under any woman, and that would have moved his career along.

Instead, Obama (and Axelrod) mounted a campaign that tore apart the Democratic party, painted the Clintons as racists, when I believe they are not, and possibly damaged Hillary’s career.  Even more important is the gender based attack they used.  This type of attack invalidates the career and character of every woman in America.  It cannot be allowed to stand.  It cannot be allowed to win.  Many women would rather see McCain win that see a malicious and evilly misogynist campaign like this succeed.  It must fail.

Either that, or Obama and Axelrod must build the party back up with Hillary–and the voters she represents–as part of the process.  It’s the pottery barn argument. Obama and Axelrod have set back women’s issues in this country considerably but not irrevokably.  Wouldn’t it be lovely if David Axelrod could use his considerable public relations skill to restore the Clinton presidency to the place in history it deserves, and reverse the damage the Obama campaign has done to Hillary, to the Democratic party, and to American women everywhere?

Sioux Falls Argus Leader endorses Hillary Clinton

The Argus Leader –whose interview with her yielded the controversial RFK assassination soundbite– today endorsed Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama for the Democratic race. And surprise, surprise, they endorsed McCain for the Republicans.

They had some nice things to say about her command of the issues:

Her mastery of complex policy detail is broad and deep, and her experience as a senator and former first lady matches that.

as well as her character:

Her resilience and determination never should be questioned. She has met or overcome every challenge or roadblock in her way, and there have been many. Her determination to carry the nomination process through to its real conclusion has perhaps earned her a grudging respect from those who would never support her.

Clinton might not win this race. In fact, it’s a long shot. But whatever some might say, the race is not over, and her name is on the ballot. Win or lose, she’s also the best Democratic candidate for South Dakota.

The big South Dakota issue seems to be ethanol. Hillary’s interview with the Argus Leader was pretty impressive–I admit to playing it over and over–and not just to get the transcript right, but because the policy questions were interesting. A lot of those policy questions turned up in the paper’s endorsement. They weren’t thrilled with Hillary’s assessment of corn–a major South Dakota cash crop–as a minor player in the ethanol game, but agreed that she was probably right. Her stances on Native American issues and partnering university research with industry also drew comment. South Dakota has always placed a high priority on education. It’s universities are top notch and brains are one of it’s biggest and least recognized exports. The high school students back then, instead of saying “outa sight”, used to say “outa state”–recognizing the probable location of their potential opportunities.

The Argus Leader is a major paper in the state, not to mention that they have always had the best Sunday funnies, in color….Blondie, Dick Tracy, Lil Abner, Orphan Annie, Peanuts… It will be read by many in the region, not just in Sioux Falls.

I was browsing some Clintonista websites yesterday: hillaryis44, hillaryclintonforum, hillaryresponders, and one of them, I forget which one, had Hillary’s Sioux Falls interview playing as the soundtrack. If you haven’t heard it yet, give it a listen.

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Hillary supporters at the Park Ridge Memorial Day Parade Take it to the Street

“That is the parade I marched in every year as a Brownie/Girl Scout or just as a kid who decorated her bike!”, says Hillary Clinton of the Memorial Day parade in Park Ridge, Illinois.

Some Hillary supporters met at Park Ridge on Monday to cheer the Memorial Day parade and wave their Hillary signs. During the parade they looked in vain for superdelegate Jan Schakowsky who had brazenly and flagrantly endorsed Hillary’s opponent, then turned up in Hillary’s own home town for the parade.

At the end of the parade, the Hillary supporters were so overcome with the spirit of the event,–and with not having seen Representative Schakowsky during the parade–that they took to the streets, intending to march past the reviewing stand.

As a police squad car moved up behind them, they moved to the side of the street to let it pass. But after some initial confusion it was clear the squad car intended to bring up the end of the parade. “Take the street,” he urged. “Take the street. We’ll worry about a parade permit later….. I’ve got your rear.”

Take the street they did, to much cheering by the locals–except for one curmudgeon who insisted Hillary had already had eight years as president.

The complete set of unedited photos is uploaded |here|.

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Phantom Jan Schakowsky evaporates from Hillary’s home town Park Ridge Memorial Day parade

Hillary Clinton’s supporters were in good spirits for the Memorial day parade in Hillary’s home town of Park Ridge in Illinois last weekend–except for one thing. Jan Schakowsky.

That would be superdelegate Jan Schakowsky, jan schakowsky with hornsas in U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky who represents the Illinois 9th district. Every time the nice weather and friendly smalltown parade threatened to put them in a good mood, they remembered Jan Schakowsky. Oh, yes, they were on the lookout for her.

Jan Schakowsky was going to be in the parade, it was rumored. How dare superdelegate Jan Schakowky come here, right to Hillary’s very home town, after endorsing Hillary’s opponent in the presidential race. The same Jan Schakowsky who has spoken out so strongly for having more women in public office.

But the elusive Jan Shakowsky was one step ahead of the rumors all day. It was rumored she was going to be on the reviewing stand. Hillary’s supporters took to the streets at the end of the parade, hoping to see her at the reviewing stand. But the peripatetic Jan Shakowsky was not there. Yes, she had been marching in the parade behind a certain vehicle for most of the route. Yes, someone confirmed she had been standing right there at the bottom of the steps. She must have gone thataway. Where?–fumed Hillary’s supporters. But Jan Shakowsky had another engagement and was already out of Dodge. Almost as if she knew.

The Black and White Hillary Icon Poster

You’ve seen all the street poster art for Obama. Interesting stuff visually, even if you aren’t into Soviet-era and totalitarian propaganda art and the “Obey” posse trademark.

Well, I’ve decided it’s time for Hillary to get some of her own street cred.

So here’s the iconic Hillary. To see everything that’s available with this design, check out the Hillary Icon shop.

You can get t-shirts, buttons, magnets, dog shirts, and yes, a 16 X 20 poster, in case you want to go for a little stroll some night and decorate your home town. Google a good wheat paste recipe, and oh, yes, do be sure to check your local ordinances before putting up anything.

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Assassination! Assassination! Eeeek! Now, what was the question again?

The continuing fervor over Hillary Clinton’s mention of the RFK assassination puzzles me. I have already pointed out that it is not the Clinton campaign that is spreading cries of “Assassination!” all over the mainstream media. I don’t think it’s the McCain people either.

And I certainly interpreted the RFK assassination reference as a memory key about primary election dates for those of us who lived through those troubling days of losing JFK, RFK, and MLK, our cultural heroes of the sixties. The Argus Leader editors interpreted it that way too. So did RFK’s son. The memory of those times is something that ties us boomers together.

Why then was the Obama camp excited enough to issue a press release? And send their own reporters to the taping of the Olberman hissy fit at MSNBC? And have their main media consultant hand carry the Olberman videotape to the other mainstream news sources on a three day weekend.  And have their candidate mention Robert Keennedy several times in a commencement speech–isn’t he supposed to be worried or something?  Why are the obamabots going ape in the online forums?

Possible reasons:

Possibility #1: Obama and is genuinely concerned that he will be the target of an assassin.

But ALL the candidates have been threatened. McCain by immigration foes, Obama by white supremacists, and Clinton by an O’Reilly blogger. And those are only the threats that have been made public. The secret service probably has a drawer full of them.

So what would make Obama think he owns the assassination trademark?

And if Obama was really so concerned about the dangers of publicity, why didn’t they go quietly to the FBI, or to Hillary’s camp and ask her privately to stop–after all, the RFK reference has been a staple in her canned remarks for some time. Why issue a public press release?

Possibility #2: The Obama camp is threatened by what Clinton was saying and wants to take attention away from it, like a mother bird that pretends to be wounded in order to lure predators away from the nest of hatchlings . “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”, they say. “The real show is up here”. “Assassination!” “Assassination!”

So what was Hillary Clinton saying, again? Well, she makes a pretty good case against the people who are trying to strong-arm her into dropping out of the race.

Hillary was saying…

Hillary Clinton is ahead in the popular vote, depending on how you count Michigan and Florida, and she claims more people have voted for her in the primary than have ever before voted.

Hillary Clinton says she can win the electoral college. She has a map. She says that an aggregation of polls, leaked from Karl Rove’s office, shows Clinton beating McCain, and McCain beating Obama. She says she does well in states with primaries, while her opponent does well in states with caucuses where activists, not ordinary voters, control the outcome. “It’s not the math”, she says. “It’s the map”.

And then there’s those superdelegates. Their whole reason for existing is to save the Democratic party from another embarrassment like the 1972 election, where McGovern carried only two states. Show me your map of how Obama can win the electoral college, Hillary tells the superdelegates.

So another more ominous scenario emerges. For the sake of party unity, Obama could have quietly supported Clinton–who a year ago was the heir-apparent to the Democratic nomination–and gotten the VP slot for himself. But he decided instead it was his year to make a bid for the presidency. What if he has put himself forward before all his ducks are in a row? What if he is successful in winning the superdelegates, but not the electoral college? The first black man to run for the presidency, and he ends up splitting the Democratic party and losing to McCain? Not a good scenario for the Democrats or for Obama. Oh, he’d keep his senate seat. Maybe they could even give him Nancy Pelosi’s chair.

But the Republicans would be laughing–all the way to the bank—again.

The Clinton camp claims that every time a pundit publicly calls for Hillary to leave the race, her contributions start to dry up. She has until August for her campaign to repay her $20 million personal loan.

You would think that if she is really toast, as her opponent claims, that he would just leave her alone and let her try to recoup her loses. But they aren’t doing that. The Obama camp is fighting, and fighting hard. Assassin, schmassassin.

In the meantime, Hillary continues to gain speed while being outspent three to one, four to one, five to one.

“Assassination!”

“Assassination!”

“Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain!”

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