Category Archives: Politics

Anti Palin Rally in Alaska

A bunch of pictures of that rally:scroll to the end to read the description from the woman who cooked up the idea

Psssst…pass it on!

[The] Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was to be held outside on the lawn in front of the Loussac Library in midtown Anchorage. Home made signs were encouraged, and the idea was to make a statement that Sarah Palin does not speak for all Alaska women, or men. I had no idea what to expect.

The rally was organized by a small group of women, talking over coffee. It made me wonder what other things have started with small groups of women talking over coffee. It’s probably an impressive list. These women hatched the plan, printed up flyers, posted them around town, and sent notices to local media outlets. One of those media outlets was KBYR radio, home of Eddie Burke, a long-time uber-conservative Anchorage talk show host. Turns out that Eddie Burke not only announced the rally, but called the people who planned to attend the rally “a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots,” and read the home phone numbers of the organizers aloud over the air, urging listeners to call and tell them what they thought. The women, of course, received some nasty, harassing and threatening messages.

I felt a bit apprehensive. I’d been disappointed before by the turnout at other rallies. Basically, in Anchorage, if you can get 25 people to show up at an event, it’s a success. So, I thought to myself, if we can actually get 100 people there that aren’t sent by Eddie Burke, we’ll be doing good. A real statement will have been made. I confess, I still had a mental image of 15 demonstrators surrounded by hundreds of menacing “socialist baby-killing maggot” haters.

It’s a good thing I wasn’t tailgating when I saw the crowd in front of the library or I would have ended up in somebody’s trunk. When I got there, about 20 minutes early, the line of sign wavers stretched the full length of the library grounds, along the edge of the road, 6 or 7 people deep! I could hardly find a place to park. I nabbed one of the last spots in the library lot, and as I got out of the car and started walking, people seemed to join in from every direction, carrying signs.

Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage. The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators). This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state. I was absolutely stunned. The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by. And even those that didn’t honk looked wide-eyed and awe-struck at the huge crowd that was growing by the minute. This just doesn’t happen here.

Then, the infamous Eddie Burke showed up. He tried to talk to the media, and was instantly surrounded by a group of 20 people who started shouting O-BA-MA so loud he couldn’t be heard. Then passing cars started honking in a rhythmic pattern of 3, like the Obama chant, while the crowd cheered, hooted and waved their signs high.

So, if you’ve been doing the math Yes. The Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was significantly bigger than Palin’s rally that got all the national media coverage! So take heart, sit back, and enjoy the photo gallery. Feel free to spread the pictures around to anyone who needs to know that Sarah Palin most definitely does not speak for all Alaskans. The citizens of Alaska, who know her best, have things to say.

For more click here.

Ill. Gov: Chicago May Get Troopers, National Guard

Mayor Daley Surprised by Official’s Comments
By DON BABWIN

Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Wednesday raised the possibility of bringing in state troopers or even the Illinois National Guard to help Chicago combat a recent increase in violent crime — an offer that Mayor Richard Daley didn’t know was coming.

Appearing at signing ceremony for a bill that toughens the penalty for adults who provide guns to minors, Blagojevich said “violent crime in the city of Chicago is out of control.”

“I’m offering resources of the state to the city to work in a constructive way with Mayor Daley to do everything we can possibly do to help … stop this violence,” said the governor.

Blagojevich said Daley had not asked for help and he had not talked to the mayor about offering it, adding he would call Daley after he met later in the day with the state police, National Guard and others.

Daley’s office said the mayor did not know anything about Blagojevich’s comments and did not know he was going to make them.

“The mayor welcomes partnerships, not just on this issue but on a variety of issues,” said spokeswoman Jody Kawada. “Beyond that, it is difficult to comment because we don’t have any facts.”

And police department spokeswoman Monique Bond said they learned of the comments after Blagojevich made them as well, and said it was too soon to comment.

But Bond took issue with the governor’s contention that crime is “out of control” in Chicago.

In fact, she said if the current murder rate holds in the city, 2008 may end with fewer than 500 homicides and that it is expected to be one of the least deadly years in the city in the last 40 years.

The governor’s comments come at a time when violent crime has spiked in Chicago. This spring, for example, nine people were killed in 36 shootings during a weekend and Chicago Public Schools officials say more than two dozen students have been killed by gunfire since last September.

On Wednesday, Superintendent Jody Weis was grilled by members of a city council committee, who complained both about rising crime and statistics that suggested to them that the police department wasn’t doing enough to stop it.

They also come as the governor tries to find support for a massive statewide construction program that would be funded by expanded casino gambling. So far, Daley has refused to go along because he objects to the amount Blagojevich wants to charge Chicago to run a downtown casino.

Blagojevich raised that issue as he discussed the possibility of state aid with Chicago’s crime problem.

“We need help in that legislative process and the mayor could be a big help in this in getting the House Democratic leadership to pass that big capital program or versions of it,” the governor said.

Blagojevich’s offer, whether or not it comes to anything, also puts him in the position of trying to help on an issue dominating the news in Chicago.

Blagojevich said it is far more likely that state troopers would be used than guardsmen. In fact, his office moved quickly after the governor’s comments to stress in a news release that Blagojevich was not considering bringing in National Guard troops to the city.

“The only way the National Guard would be involved, if they are involved, is with the use of tactical helicopters that are currently used in narcotics operations,” spokesman Lucio Guerrero said in a prepared statement.

Blagojevich had few details, but suggested that one possibility would be to assign state troopers to areas of the city with lower crime rates, freeing Chicago police officers for areas where there is more crime.

“Maybe we can play a role in providing more manpower so that the mayor doesn’t have to make that choice between taking a police from, let’s say the North Side, and putting that police officer on the street on the South Side,” he said.

He also suggested that retired Chicago police officers and state troopers could be hired on a temporary basis to help out during the summer months when the violent crime rate typically climbs.

Obama, Political Viagra

Now is when you get worried.

By Mark Steyn

The short version of the Democratic-party primary campaign is that the media fell in love with Barack Obama but the Democratic electorate declined to. “I felt this thrill going up my leg,” said MSNBC’s Chris Matthews after one of the senator’s speeches. “I mean, I don’t have that too often.” Au contraire, Chris and the rest of the gang seem to be getting the old tingle up the thigh hairs on a nightly basis. If Obama is political Viagra, the media are at that stage in the ad where the announcer warns that, if leg tingles persist for over six months, see your doctor.

Out there in the voting booths, however, Democrat legs stayed admirably unthrilled. The more the media told Hillary she was toast and she should get the hell out of it and let Obama romp to victory, the more Democrats insisted on voting for her. The more the media insisted Barack was inevitable, the less inclined the voters were to get with the program. On the strength of Chris Matthews’s vibrating calves, Sen. Obama raised a ton of money — over $300 million — and massively outspent Senator Clinton, but he didn’t really get any bang for his buck. In the end, he crawled over the finish line. The Obama Express came a-hurtlin’ down the track at two miles an hour.

But what does he care? Sen. Obama has learned an old trick of Bill Clinton’s: If you behave like a star, you’ll get treated as one. So, even as his numbers weakened, his rhetoric soared. By the time he wrapped up his “victory” speech last week, the great gaseous uplift had his final paragraphs floating in delirious hallucination along the Milky Way:

I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people… I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal… This was the moment — this was the time — when we came together to remake this great nation…

It’s a good thing he’s facing it with “profound humility,” isn’t it? Because otherwise who knows what he’d be saying. But mark it in your calendars: June 3, 2008 — the long awaited day, after 232 years, that America began to provide care for the sick. Just a small test program: 47 attendees of the Obama speech were taken to hospital and treated for nausea. Everyone else came away thrilled that the Obamessiah was going to heal the planet and reverse the rise of the oceans: when Barack wants to walk on the water, he doesn’t want to have to use a step-ladder to get up on it.

↓ Keep reading this article ↓

Pushing Bush to Attack Iran

By Dan Froomkin

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to use his White House visit today to push President Bush to take a more aggressive approach toward Iran — and there are some signs that he’ll have a receptive audience.

Both Olmert and Bush are badly wounded and looking for salvation. Olmert is facing corruption allegations that could drive him from office. Bush is wildly unpopular, desperate to salvage his legacy and fighting irrelevance as the general election begins in earnest — with even the Republican candidate trying to keep him at a distance.

It’s in this environment that the Jewish Telegraph Agency reports: “Ehud Olmert will urge President Bush to prepare an attack on Iran, an Israeli newspaper reported.

“Citing sources close to the Israeli prime minister, Yediot Achronot reported on its front page Wednesday that Olmert, who is due to hold closed-door talks with Bush in Washington, will say that ‘time is running out’ on diplomatic efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

“The United States should therefore prepare to attack Iran, Olmert will tell Bush, according to Yediot.”

Olmert certainly telegraphed as much in public last night. Matti Friedman writes for the Associated Press that “the Israeli prime minister told thousands of Israel supporters at the annual convention of the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Tuesday that the Iranian threat ‘must be stopped by all possible means.’

For more click here.

Press hails Obama the ‘giant slayer’

(CNN) — History in the making was how many international newspapers viewed Barack Obama’s emergence as Democratic presidential candidate, with the focus on his status as the first ever African-American to win the ticket.

Newspapers described Obama as a “political giant slayer.”

Even before Hillary Clinton admitted defeat in the hard-fought contest, some publications were already dissecting her failed campaign, analyzing where it went wrong and what the future has in store for her political dynasty.

Tuesday’s win “confirms Obama’s reputation as a political giant-slayer, who after less than four years in the U.S. Senate brought down the couple credited with creating the Democrats’ most powerful political machine,” the Guardian newspaper wrote.

The Chinese Xinhua news agency marveled at how “one year ago, it was very hard to imagine that Obama, a young politician without a strong political base and little known to the public can defeat Hillary Clinton, the heir-apparent of the Democratic Party.”

The Times of London saw Obama’s victory as evidence that “the United States remains a land of opportunity.”

“This moment’s significance is its resounding proof of the truism about America as a land of opportunity: Mr Obama’s opportunity to graduate from Harvard and take Washington by storm,” it wrote.

It said his victory also demonstrates “the opportunity that the world’s most responsive democratic system gives its voters to be inspired by an unknown; the opportunity that outsiders now have to reassess the superpower that too many of them love to hate.

“Win or lose in November, he will have gone farther than anyone in history to bury the toxic enmity that fueled America’s civil war and has haunted it ever since.”
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The Financial Times opened a post-mortem on Clinton’s campaign, indicating that her defeat was not about her shortcomings but about Obama’s political potency.

“Analysts will spend years poring over the reasons for Mrs Clinton’s failed bid and probably never reach consensus,” it wrote.

“But almost everyone, including some members of her own staff, would agree that the former first lady’s campaign looked old-fashioned next to that of Barack Obama.”

The Independent newspaper, however, placed the blame on “loyal husband” Bill Clinton who “more than anyone sabotaged his wife’s chances by airing too many outspoken opinions on the way.”

But the paper hinted the Clintons may still have another shot at the White House — although it could be a few years away.

“Hillary has been beaten. Bill has dishonored himself. And Chelsea? Chelsea need have no regrets. She may be the candidate that brings the family back to the campaign trail again. But that drama is for another decade.”

The French newspaper Le Monde also examined Bill Clinton’s role in Hillary’s failure. The former president was both her greatest asset and her worst, the paper said, delivering a blunt assessment of her campaign with an emphatic: “C’est fini.”

Obama Claims Nomination; First Black Candidate to Lead a Major Party Ticket

By JEFF ZELENY

Senator Barack Obama claimed the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday night, prevailing through an epic battle with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in a primary campaign that inspired millions of voters from every corner of America to demand change in Washington.

A last-minute rush of Democratic superdelegates, as well as split results from the final primaries in Montana and South Dakota, pushed Mr. Obama over the threshold of 2,118 delegates needed to be nominated at the party’s convention in Denver in August. The victory for Mr. Obama, the son of a black Kenyan father and white Kansan mother, broke racial barriers and represented a remarkable rise for a man who just four years ago served in the Illinois State Senate.

“You chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears, but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations,” Mr. Obama told supporters at a rally in St. Paul. “Tonight, we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another — a journey that will bring a new and better day to America. Because of you, tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.”

Mrs. Clinton paid tribute to Mr. Obama, but she did not leave the race. “This has been a long campaign and I will be making no decisions tonight,” Mrs. Clinton told supporters in New York. She said she would be speaking with party officials about her next move.

In a combative speech, she again presented her case that she was the stronger candidate and argued that she had won the popular vote, a notion disputed by the Obama campaign.

“I want the 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected,” she said in New York to loud cheers.

But she paid homage to Mr. Obama’s accomplishments, saying, “It has been an honor to contest the primaries with him, just as it has been an honor to call him my friend.”

Mr. Obama’s victory moved the presidential campaign to a new phase as he tangled with Senator John McCain of Arizona in televised addresses Tuesday night over Mr. Obama’s assertion that Mr. McCain would continue President Bush’s policies. Mr. McCain vigorously rebuffed that criticism in a speech in Kenner, La., in which he distanced himself from the outgoing president while contrasting his own breadth of experience with Mr. Obama’s record.

“The American people didn’t get to know me yesterday, as they are just getting to know Senator Obama,” Mr. McCain told supporters. Mr. Obama’s victory capped a marathon nominating contest that broke records on several fronts: the number of voters who participated, the amount of money raised and spent, and the sheer length of a grueling battle. The campaign, infused by tensions over race and sex, provided unexpected twists to the bitter end as Mr. Obama ultimately prevailed over Mrs. Clinton, who just a year ago appeared headed toward becoming the first woman to be nominated by a major party. The last two contests reflected the party’s continuing divisions, as Mrs. Clinton won the South Dakota primary and Mr. Obama won Montana.

The race drew to its final hours with a burst of announcements — delegate-by-delegate — of Democrats stepping forward to declare their support for Mr. Obama. The Democratic establishment, from former President Jimmy Carter to rank-and-file local officials who make up the ranks of the party’s superdelegates, rallied behind Mr. Obama as the day wore on.

When the day began, Mr. Obama needed 41 delegates to effectively claim the nomination. Just as the polls began to close in Montana and South Dakota, Mr. Obama secured the delegates he needed to end his duel with Mrs. Clinton, which wound through every state and territory in an unprecedented 57 contests over five months.

Every time a new endorsement was announced at the Obama headquarters in Chicago, campaign workers interrupted with a booming round of applause. They are members of Mr. Obama’s team — a political start up — that is responsible for defeating one of the most tried and tested operations in Democratic politics.

While the Democratic race may have ended, a new chapter began in the complicated tensions that have defined the relationship with Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton.

On a conference call with members of the New York Congressional delegation on Tuesday, Mrs. Clinton was asked whether she would be open to joining a ticket with Mr. Obama. She replied that she would do whatever she could — including a vice presidential bid — to help Democrats win the White House.

In his speech on Tuesday evening, Mr. Obama paid respect to his rival.

“Our party and our country are better off because of her,” Mr. Obama said, “and I am a better candidate for having had the honor to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

Before she arrived at her rally on Tuesday in New York City, Mrs. Clinton and a few close advisers huddled at her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., to discuss the timing of her departure from the race. In the afternoon conference call she conducted with fellow New York lawmakers, she asked their patience as she decides upon her next move.

Representative Nydia M. Velásquez, Democrat of New York, asked Mrs. Clinton whether she would consider teaming up with Mr. Obama. “She said that if it’s offered, she would take it,” Ms. Velásquez said.

Mrs. Clinton said she would do “anything to make sure a Democrat would win,” according to several participants on the call. While her advisers played down the remark’s significance, the Democrats on the call said that by not demurring or saying she would simply think about it, they said they were left with the impression that it was an offer that she wanted to at least consider.

“If Senator Obama asked her to be the V.P., she certainly would accept that,” said Representative Carolyn McCarthy, Democrat of New York. “She has obviously given some thought to this.”

Neither Mr. Obama nor his associates commented on the speculation, and he made no reference to it in his speech on Tuesday evening in Minnesota, which was delivered at the same arena in which Mr. McCain is expected to accept the Republican nomination at the party’s convention in September.

“You can rest assured that when we finally win the battle for universal health care in this country, she will be central to that victory,” Mr. Obama said. “When we transform our energy policy and lift our children out of poverty, it will be because she worked to help make it happen.”

The competition between Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama has been sharpening for weeks, but the close of the Democratic primary formally raised the curtain to a five-month general election contest. The race, as their respective speeches foreshadowed on Tuesday evening, will unfold against a backdrop of an electorate that is restless about soaring gas prices, mortgage foreclosures and the Iraq war.

It is also a generational battle of personalities and contrasting styles. Mr. McCain staged an evening event in Louisiana, so he would be included in the evening’s television narrative that otherwise belonged to Democrats.

About two hours later, Mr. Obama responded in a speech before a thousands of supporters.

“There are many words to describe John McCain’s attempt to pass off his embrace of George Bush’s policies as bipartisan and new,” Mr. Obama said. “But change is not one of them.”

Michael M. Grynbaum contributed reporting.

National Teacher of the Year Michael Geisen honored at White House

The Prineville science teacher takes the opportunity to push — gently and politely — for creativity over testing

by CHARLES POPE

WASHINGTON — Moments after getting a slap on the back from President Bush, Oregon teacher Michael Geisen tactfully suggested that the president rethink his landmark No Child Left Behind Act.

With a disarming mix of confidence and humor that comes from facing a roomful of seventh graders every weekday, the 2008 national Teacher of the Year used the White House photo opportunity to make a case for classroom creativity over a testing regimen.

“So often in public education, though, we squander this creativity, we squander the entrepreneurial spirit of children because we place such a high value on being right all the time,” Geisen said during the event.

“They’re not conglomerations of hormones, they’re not animals to be trained, they’re not just numbers to be measured or future commodities to produce. They are our equals. They’re the here and the now.”

Geisen is concerned that No Child Left Behind can censor innovative teachers like himself because of its heavy reliance on tests to track achievement, rate schools and punish poor performers.

Bush apparently wasn’t offended. The president’s staff didn’t change Geisen’s remarks, which he had to submit in advance. And Bush was in a happy mood, joking with Geisen and hugging him afterward.

“He was a gracious host and a terrific guy. I think he liked me. He hugged me after my speech. It was a man hug,” Geisen said.

Bush was clearly at ease with Geisen as well, so much so that the two traded quips. In introducing Geisen, Bush mentioned that the teacher had casually remarked that he liked what the president had done with the Rose Garden, the highly manicured area just outside the Oval Office.

“All I did was mow the lawn,” Bush joked.

The Rose Garden event was the pinnacle of a whirlwind day for Geisen, a 35-year-old former forester who began teaching seven years ago. After the White House, he mixed with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and finished with a formal dinner in his honor.

Reading First Doesn’t Help Pupils ‘Get it’

Other factors skewing results of study, federal officials posit
By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

The $1 billion-a-year Reading First program has had no measurable effect on students’ reading comprehension, on average, although participating schools are spending significantly more time teaching the basic skills that researchers say children need to become proficient readers, a major
federal report finds.

The long-awaited interim report from the Reading First Impact Study Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, released last week by the Institute of Education Sciences, says that students in schools receiving grants from the federal program have not fared any better than their counterparts in comparison schools in gaining meaning from print.

That central finding in the first national study of Reading First’s effect on student reading achievement, however, does not necessarily signal that the program, or the evidence-based instructional model it is based on, isn’t working, federal officials said.

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Education Week
Copyright: Editorial Projects in Education
Reading First Doesn’t Help Pupils ‘Get it’
Other factors skewing results of study, federal officials posit.
By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo