April 12, 2008 archive

What exactly was behind Obama’s purge of delegates in California?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.  Yesterday MyDD reported that the Obama campaign had wiped over nine hundred delegates in California from its list of chosen representatives for the national convention in August.  Ostensibly, this was done to ensure only Obama loyalists would represent the senator from Illinois at the Democratic National Convention.  No big deal, right?  After all, Hillary Clinton’s campaign did a similar purge.

The problem is this: while Clinton trimmed only fifty or so delegates, down from an initial 950, Obama wiped roughly half of 1,700.  Furthermore, whereas Clinton appears to have carefully screened the delegates to be excluded, Obama’s purge list appeared random — activists with solid credentials and who worked tirelessly to campaign for their candidate were eliminated, while those who did little or nothing got to stay on the list to go to Denver.

But here’s where things get more ominous.  As MyDD points out, Obama campaigner Marcy Winograd — a woman with more than a few political credentials to her own name — seems to think the main targets were anti-war progressives.

By dusk on Wednesday, the California Obama campaign had purged almost all progressive anti-war activists from its delegate candidate lists. Names of candidates, people who had filed to run to represent Obama at the August Democratic Party National Convention, disappeared, not one by one, but hundreds at a time, from the Party web site listing the eligibles. The list of Obama delegate hopefuls in one northern California congressional district went from a robust 100 to an anemic 23, while in southern California, the list in Congressman Waxman’s district almost slipped out of sight, plunging from a high of 91 candidates to 17. Gone were strong women with independent political bases.

And the Huffington Post’s Nathaniel Bach wrote:

After completing the application process and finding my name on the official list of registered candidates, I received an email from the California Democratic Party today (Wednesday) at 4:48 p.m. informing me that the final approved lists of delegate candidates had been posted and that I should check the website. (I assume the same email went out to all the delegate candidates.) I clicked over to the website and found that, lo and behold, what had been a list of 90 candidates had been eviscerated down to only 17, and that my name was gone. I immediately checked the Obama candidate list for the 33rd District, where a friend and fellow Obama die-hard was also running for a delegate spot. His name was gone, too, and a list that formerly contained 83 names was down to a mere 20.

The ostensible rationale for the cutting of delegate candidates is to prevent “Trojan horse” delegates from making their way to the Convention floor and then switching allegiances. The vetting and removal of delegate candidates is expressly allowed by party rules. But could the 30th District really have had 73 such turncoats, and was I really one of them? I was a Precinct Captain for the Obama campaign for the California primary; I’ve donated several hundred dollars to Senator Obama’s campaign (the first politician I’ve ever supported financially); and I’ve boosted the campaign in numerous posts on this website…

It’s hard not to be cynical. Remaining on the list of approved candidates is the slate of candidates (longtime campaign volunteers) that the Obama campaign has officially endorsed, as well as several names recognizable from local politics. These delegate candidates aren’t to be faulted for being longtime political activists, but the cynic in me wonders why those names remained while the “nobodies” on the list disappeared. The Obama campaign owes those of us who were cut a fuller explanation of the decision process.

MyDD’s ‘campskunk’ clearly believes that this is not accidental, that the Obama campaign wants “people who will go to the convention and vote for Obama, no matter what.  It’s not about the issues, it’s about the candidate.  If these delegates have strong dedication to particular causes they might be persuadable, so none of those types are allowed.”

But the purge of California delegates, and the fear that anti-war activists among those sent to represent Obama in Denver come August might defect, may run even deeper than anyone suspects.  According to the New York Sun, Obama’s phony anti-occupation position stands a good chance of being exposed for the sham it is.

A key adviser to Senator Obama’s campaign is recommending in a confidential paper that America keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as of late 2010, a plan at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office.

The paper, obtained by The New York Sun, was written by Colin Kahl for the center-left Center for a New American Security*. In “Stay on Success: A Policy of Conditional Engagement,” Mr. Kahl writes that through negotiations with the Iraqi government “the U.S. should aim to transition to a sustainable over-watch posture (of perhaps 60,000-80,000 forces) by the end of 2010 (although the specific timelines should be the byproduct of negotiations and conditions on the ground).”

Mr. Kahl is the day-to-day coordinator of the Obama campaign’s working group on Iraq. A shorter and less detailed version of this paper appeared on the center’s Web site as a policy brief.

If this is true, if Obama plans to back off from any and all public pledges to withdraw from the quagmire in Iraq by the end of his first term (assuming he gets a first term), then this cynical lack of faith in his own supporters exposes a far more serious crisis.  The senator from Illinois, in spite of his alleged initial opposition to the invasion of Iraq, really does support the policy of American imperialism.  And if he’s worried enough about his true position becoming widely known that it has driven him to purge half his California delegates — thus making the prospect of a brokered convention likelier, what does that say about the worth assigned to the anti-war movement by the Democratic Party?  Not much, apparently.

Fortunately, this latest outrage by the Obama campaign has a somewhat happy ending; all of the delegates purged from California’s bloc seem to have been reinstated.  But if Obama thought these devoted supporters might have harbored plans to defect to Hillary Clinton’s camp, he may have pushed his fear one step closer to realization.

Friday Night at 8: Confusion!

I got nothing.

Tank is empty.

But of course, that has never stopped me from writing scads of words before.  Heh.



The bad news is relentless and the good news is overwhelming.  Seeing so many smart and creative people writing such illuminating essays in the midst of such pain and suffering and injustice, wowsville.

Gives me a bit of cognitive dissonance, it does.

I am in a state of confusion when it comes to politics.  And that’s just fine with me.

I won’t fight confusion, just makes it stronger and somewhat painful!

I surf it like a big wave in the ocean, let it lift me right up out of it and end up going with the flow.

It’s these times, times of confusion, that new views and new ideas are formed.

Answering the Question — “Will They Get Away with It?”

Buhdydharma, the intrepid web proprietor of Docudharma, has posted an article today asking if, after the revelations by ABC news that basically the entire top administration hierarchy has been implicated in the oversight and implementation of a secret torture program, right out of the White House, if after such a massive revelation Bush, Cheney, Rice, et al. “will they get away with it?”

History Lessons (on Bush and McCain’s Wars)

This is (a small part of a) cross-post (excerpted by permission) by THE ENVIRONMENTALIST‘s Managing Editor:

In her recent speech at the Conference on World Affairs, Rachel Maddow cited James Madison’s warning about the unitary executive, the propensity of an unchecked executive branch to lean toward war, whereas the legislature would be more likely to debate the issue before moving toward conflict.

Maddow’s supposition, that the Bush administration’s seeming incompetence, its torture memos, its rush to war, was by design — Bush and Cheney’s direct effort to shift power to the executive and, thereby, to shift the entire country to a more warlike stance — does have historical precedence.

I’m not referring to Madison, though he did warn of this, or Jefferson, who raised prescient concern about undue influence, but earlier in history to the systems that Madison and Jefferson used as the inspiration for their grand experiment: The Roman Republic of Caesar’s time and the Greek democracy of Solon.

This is not to say that George W. Bush is Julius Caesar or that any of his lawgivers (like the ones who approved that torture memo) are Solon. But there are interesting parallels to the way Caesar and his contemporaries used war to further their wealth and political ambitions, as well as to the actions that Solon’s contemporaries took to undermine codified law…

Highly recommend you link to link to the whole essay for the point it makes about Bush and McCain’s wars.

Illuminating and frightening.  

5 Years in the Life of a Child – Global Day for Darfur Sunday 4/13

This Sunday, April 13, from 12 noon to 4 pm on the National Mall in Washington, DC, Americans will have the opportunity to learn first hand what the past 5 years have been like for the children of the Darfur region of Sudan.

Sponsored by Amnesty International, STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition, the Genocide Intervention Network, and the Save Darfur Coalition, this is a unique opportunity for people to gain an understanding of the complex yet devastating nature of the conflict giving rise to the ongoing genocide in Darfur.

When Anna Schmitt of Waging Peace traveled to eastern Chad bordering Darfur in 2007 to conduct research on the humanitarian, human rights, and security situation in the region, she was told “If you really want to know the truth, speak to the children.” She collected over 500 drawings by children in the camps. You can see some of them at the Save Darfur Coalition website here, or read more about them at the Darfur section of the Waging Peace website. These drawings can break your heart.

For a million Darfuri children, they have lived their entire lives now running from the janjaweed, traveling from camp to camp, never knowing the meaning of the words “safe” or “home” — these are concepts they have never experienced.  Five years is a lifetime to a child.

Friday Philosophy: Traveling Light

I have traveled light through this world.  I intend to depart it lightly as well.

I have few things.

What stuff would that be?  And who of my family do people imagine are going to fight over what I have?  Other than my books, my clothes and my record collection…which fits in an orange crate…all my “stuff” fits in the shelves and drawers of one desk (or, as has been done before, the back seat of the car I used to have, including the records).

And most of the stuff I have has no intrinsic value.  Bits of blown glass, a few shells, a couple of rocks, some carved wood, a couple of kaleidoscopes…

I’ve gone through my life with few things.  What more do I need than what I need to get me through the day?  This day.  Maybe tomorrow.  Next month seems a world away.  

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