Zorn on the Abortion Votes

He gives the complete time line and talks (has talked) to many of those involved over time.

A fairly big chunk of text, but not much compared to the whole thing which you should go read.

You’d think the March, 2003 Senate committee action by Obama and five other Democrats to deep-six the most recent versions of the “born-alive” bills even after the federal language was added would have played a big role in the debates on this issue during the 2004 campaign.

And you would be wrong.

Stanek didn’t bring it up during an extensive online debate with me on this issue in 2004 (some of which survives here) and my search for contemporary news articles or blog entries on  the SB 1083 amendment issue has so far come up empty.

Indeed, when he left a comment on my blog last Thursday, Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee in Washington D.C. referred to the March, 2003 committee records as “new documents that came to light this week” and “newly released Obama documents.”

Not quite. The committee meeting and the votes were held in public, and the records were there all along for anyone who cared to ask for them. The Associated Press even reported the story briefly the following day and the Illinois Senate staff documented the vote.

But to get get back to the narrative:  In 2005, after Obama was in the U.S. Senate, yet another “born-alive” bill was introduced in the Illinois House–  HB 984, sponsored by Harrisburg Democrat Brandon Phelps.

It was assigned to the House Civil Judiciary Civil Law Committee, chaired by Chicago Democrat John Fritchey.

“I told the proponents that the bill simply wasn’t ever going to get through as long as there was suspicion that it was a back-door way to get at Roe v. Wade or criminalize abortion in Illinois,” Fritchey told me today.

Why wasn’t the Federal “neutrality language” good enough?

Because the Federal bill was widely seen as window dressing; a proclamation more than a law with almost no potential impact on abortion law in the states. At the state level, particularly with the companion bills for punishing doctors, the proposal looked significantly more fraught.

“I told the proponents, `Just give us some extra  language that will establish a comfort level for the pro-choice community,'” said Fritchey.

Here were two provisions Fritchey added:

(d) Nothing in this Section shall be construed to affect existing federal or State law regarding abortion.
(e) Nothing in this Section shall be construed to alter generally accepted medical standards.

“They fought me on that language,” Fritchey said. “They said it wasn’t acceptable. They said the feds didn’t need those kinds of words, why did we need it?”

The question, of  course, is why would the language be a problem if the point of the legislation wasn’t to intimidate doctors from performing abortions?  Look–over there!

The Problem With Stanek’s Entire Argument

Stanek’s claim is that Obama was stopping a bill to outlaw infanticide and that such a law was required in Illinois because of what she claims occurred at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn.  However, the response from the Illinois Attorney General to the claims points out that if such events occurred, those events would already be illegal.

Media Matters makes the point:

The July 2000 letter was a response from Ryan’s office to Concerned Women for America regarding a complaint by nurse Jill Stanek, who claimed that fetuses that were born alive at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, were abandoned without treatment, including in a soiled utility room. In a letter on Ryan’s letterhead, chief deputy attorney general Carole R. Doris wrote in part:

On December 6, IDPH provided this office with its investigative report and advised us that IDPH’s internal review did not indicate [emphasis added] a violation of the Hospital Licensing Act or the Vital Records Act.

No other allegations or medical evidence to support any statutory violation (including the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act about which you inquired) were referred to our office by the Department for prosecution.


While we are deeply respectful of your serious concerns about the practices and methods of abortions at this hospital, we have concluded that there is no basis for legal action by this office against the Hospital or its employees, agents or staff at this time.

From that letter, Freddoso concludes that the state found that “[i]n leaving born babies to die without treatment, Christ Hospital was doing nothing illegal under the laws of Illinois.” But the state’s conclusions regarding the law were reportedly the opposite of what Freddoso claims — IDPH reportedly concluded that if the hospital had done what Stanek alleged, its actions would have been illegal under existing law. (The word “indicate” is in italics above because in his quotation of the letter, Freddoso substitutes the word “include” for the word “indicate.”)

In an August 2004 email discussion with Stanek, Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn quoted IDPH spokesman Tom Shafer stating, apparently in reference to Stanek and another nurse, Allison Baker: “[W]hat they were alleging were violations of existing law. … We took (the allegations) very seriously.” Zorn wrote further: “Shafer told me that the 1999 investigation reviewed logs, personnel files and medical records. It concluded, ‘The allegation that infants were allowed to expire in a utility room could not be substantiated (and) all staff interviewed denied that any infant was ever left alone.’ “

From Zorn’s 2004 blog post:

As you well know, Jill, the Illinois Atty. General’s office, then under abortion foe Jim Ryan, was quite concerned about your allegations and directed the Illinois Dept. of Public Health to conduct a thorough investigation of the claims made by you and Allison Baker.


“Because what they were alleging were violations of existing law,” IDPH spokesman Tom Shafer told me yesterday. “We took (the allegations) very seriously.”

Shafer told me that the 1999 investigation reviewed logs, personnel files and medical records. It concluded, “The allegation that infants were allowed to expire in a utility room could not be substantiated (and) all staff interviewed denied that any infant was ever left alone.”

Shafer was quick to add that neither he nor the IDPH report concluded that your testimony was untruthful or exaggerated to help advance your anti-abortion views — simply that their investigation did not substantiate the allegations.

In other words, contrary to Freddoso’s claim, the IDPH’s reported position supported Obama’s explanation: Current law already “mandated lifesaving measures for premature babies.” Freddoso writes of Obama’s assertion: “This is not true. Such measures were not already the law in Illinois. Not according to the Department of Public Health. Not according to Attorney General Ryan” [emphasis in original].But the letter does not, as Freddoso claims, assert that “[s]uch measures were not already the law in Illinois.” Nor does the IDPH; indeed, Zorn quoted the IDPH spokesman saying that the actions alleged by Stanek would have violated the law at the time.

The entire argument is bogus.  Infants were protected in Illinois prior to 1999 and after 1999.  No law had to be passed–it was a rather obvious effort to overturn Roe v. Wade.

And people who worked for Jim Ryan should know that.

Wondering What the McCain Ad is Supposed to Be Doing


So, I see a bunch of warm and fuzzy images and Obama intermixed with only one negative graphic before 22 seconds.  Errr…most people have tuned out by then and will remember the warm and fuzziness with Obama.

This is the second McCain ad I’ve watched and wondered if they aren’t great ads FOR Obama.

Power and Persuasion

John Maki has a really good article in the Windy Citizen regarding Obama’s past work as a community organizer and how it can uniquely qualify him to be President. Here’s an excerpt, but go read the whole thing

Here is a typical community-organizing scenario. Let’s say you are a community organizer who has cultivated and trained a strong base of support and identified a particular problem to attack. You then target a public official who can get you something you want. Let’s call him Official X. He chairs an appropriations committee that is deciding whether to fund a program your base supports. You and your base request a meeting with him. Official X agrees and asks that you come to his office. Before you go, you coach a core group of your base, the people you call ‘your leaders,’ on what to say and how to behave at the meeting.

After painstakingly rehearsing everyone’s roles, so that no part of the meeting is left to chance, you are ready to do the real thing. You take your leaders to the meeting, and you have one of them present your base’s demands. Your leader explains to Official X what you want him to do, and why it is in his self-interest to do so. Whatever arguments your leader uses to make their case, he also makes sure that Official X understands that he will pay a price for not helping. If Official X stands in your way, your base is going to try to find a way to hurt him, whether it’s by attacking him through the press, or turning out people to vote against him. If this tactic makes Official X angry, you could care less. You do not want people in power to like you. As a community organizer, you want them to respect and fear you.

But you also make sure that Official X knows so long as he helps you out, you will help him out too. After all, as a community organizer, your job is not to change the system; it is to master and use the system’s rules to your advantage.

If you think these tactics resemble standard forms of political intimidation, you are right.

Many of us have bad memories of the twits who wanted to be community organizers because they wanted to ‘bring people together’ and ‘help’ them.  When they failed out of organizing they show up in political science or sociology grad school being bad at being a scientist as much as they were bad at organizing.

Good organizers understand, as John points out, it’s about raw political power and being such a pain in the ass that others with power want you to go away enough to give you what you want is the way to be effective.  Of course, good organizers don’t go away either and just keep moving goalposts as they slowly achieve objectives.

The Presidency is the ultimate community organizer in many ways.  Neustadt talks about the Presidency being mostly about the power to persuade.  That’s exactly what a community organizer does.  An organizer doesn’t have any formal power, but instead stitches together coalitions based on shifting interests and allegiances, exactly as a President does.  Go check out John’s piece, I think it’s one of the more thoughtful pieces on Obama and his style we’ve seen.  Admittedly, the national press has set a low bar, but several local writers have done better and John is amongst them.

Why Going to Denver is an Empty Threat


While many are panicking over Clinton taking the fight for the delegates to Denver, it’s a non-credible threat.  More frustrating is that Ickes and others presenting the outcome of the May 31st meeting as somehow determinative truly misrepresents what has occurred.

If you take the Democratic Convention Watch numbers for if Michigan and Florida had been seated fully with Obama receiving 22 of the 55 uncommitted candidates (leaving 33 still uncommitted) we see that Obama would need 124 delegates of those remaining and Clinton would need 234.  Let’s split the remaining uncommitted in Michigan as a likely scenario and you get 108 and 218. Now split Montana and South Dakota to make it easy.  93 for Obama, 203 for Clinton.  Take todays vote in Puerto Rico and you go to about 170 for Clinton 72 for Obama.  Barring a few remaining uncommitted that leaves about 220 Superdelegates to fight over.

She’d have to win 77 % of the Superdelegates leftover then.  He’d have to win 33 percent of the remaining to win even with Florida and Michigan full reinstated, and Obama taking 38 of Michigans 55 uncommitted delegates and splitting Montana and South Dakota. 

A challenge at Denver is pointless and the problem with Ickes little show yesterday is it continued to play into the notion that somehow the decision made determined the outcome of the nomination. That’s bullshit and when anyone talks about how Obama has to get Hillary supporters on board, he cannot do that until that campaign declares to its supporters that it is over. Now, if that happens on Wednesday or Thursday, that’s fine. But if we continue with this notion that there is someway to overcome Obama by taking it to the convention, that is nonsense and needs to stop.  It cannot happen and it will not happen. Playing it out until this week is fine.  After that, the Clinton campaign needs to explain the reality to its supporters. 

In reality, this was over when Obama kept Texas close.  There were at least scenarios where Michigan and Florida could have changed that, but they were unlikely given both broke the rules.  But one could see the argument for the Clinton campaign to continue.  That has not been true since North Carolina and Indiana when the election was truly over regardless of what happened with Michigan and Florida.


The Stupid Discourse Goes Stupider


Ultimately, the latest right wing blog attempt at fact checking rests upon the notion that there is no possible way that genealogy records could be wrong. 

I’ll let those who have ever done such research stop laughing.  The proof that Obama must be wrong was that the genealogy records were for Charles W.  Payne, not Charles T. Payne. 


Although we were not able to reach Payne directly, Payne’s son, Richard Payne, said his father "definitely served in the 89th Infantry Division" and confirmed that Obama’s account was substantially accurate, except for identifying the wrong concentration camp. Richard Payne declined to say anything further.

Mark Kitchell, who maintains a Web site dedicated to the 89th Infantry Division, said he was able to locate a list of servicemen that includes a Pfc. C. T. Payne who served in the K Company of the 355th Infantry Regiment of the 89th Infantry Division. The list included only the initials for first names.

The 355th Infantry Regimen was the one that liberated Ohrdruf, Kitchell said. Kitchell, the son of 89th veteran Raymond E. Kitchell, obtained the list from the official Division History book, written shortly after the war.

Finally, the National Personnel Records Center, an operation of the federal government’s National Archives and Records Administration, put this question to rest.

Researchers confirmed to PolitiFact that Army personnel records for Payne would have been destroyed in a 1973 fire that consumed many such archives, but they dug up a "Morning Report" dated April 11, 1945, showing Pfc. Charles T. Payne was assigned to the 355th Regiment Infantry, Company K. The Records Center provided a copy of the report. A faxed copy provided to PolitiFact was legible enough for us to make out Payne’s information, but the faxed photocopy of the record is too grainy to be of use if posted here.

There’s no question Obama misspoke when he said his uncle helped to liberate the concentration camp in Auschwitz.

But even with this error in locations, Obama’s statement was substantially correct in that he had an uncle — albeit a great uncle — who served with troops who helped to liberate the Ohrdruf concentration/work camp and saw, firsthand, the horrors of the Holocaust. We rate the statement Mostly True.

Charles Payne is 83, lives in Chicago and apparently never talks about the liberation of the camp.  It’s too bad it had to be brought up again because of a bunch of slobbering children who think they’ve found a conspiracy afoot because a wrong initial in records. 

MoveOn Ad Competition Winner

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/YvO1xELHp3k" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

My favorite was this one:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Vn55ZdmBPJ4" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

I have to admit the first is better for a general audience.

Steve Chapman on the Presidential Race


It came as a revelation to hear that Obama, who I thought was plotting to become president, has been shrewedly maneuvering to lead the pom squad at McCain’s inauguration. But there was something else that struck me as strange about Clinton’s reaction: Obama was not the first of the two Democrats to say something nice about the Arizona senator. He was the second.

A few weeks ago, campaigning in Texas, Clinton sounded downright glowing about McCain. Referring to those 3 a.m. phone calls at the White House, she said, “I think you’ll be able to imagine many things Sen. McCain will be able to say. He’s never been the president, but he will put forth his lifetime of experience. I will put forth my lifetime of experience. Sen. Obama will put forth a speech he made in 2002.”

Let’s review. Clinton criticized Obama for ranking McCain No. 3 in a four-person assessment, ahead of Bush. But Clinton herself put McCain No. 2—or maybe even in a tie for No. 1—in her evaluation of the three candidates.

She thinks McCain is better than Obama and McCain is no better than Bush. Which can mean only one thing: Bush is better than Obama!

Of course that’s probably not what she actually believes.

But it’s a tribute to her talent for bold deceit and bizarre logic that she can attack Obama for doing something that she herself had done so recently, and more fervently.

The Cost of Waiting

Obama cannot role out a 50 State Strategy for the General Election. That said, this is a good first step:

CHICAGO, IL—Senator Barack Obama’s campaign today announced the kickoff of Vote for Change, an unprecedented 50-state voter registration and mobilization drive. The campaign will work with grassroots volunteers and partner with local organizations to register new voters and boost engagement in our Democratic process. The program will launch on May 10 with dozens of events around the country.  

“If we’re going to push back on the special interests and finally solve the challenges we face, we’re going to need everyone to get involved,” said Senator Obama. “Over the next six months, Vote for Change is going to bring new participants into the process, adding scores of new voices to this critical dialogue about our future. I started my career as a community organizer, and I worked to register voters in communities where hope was all but lost. I’ve seen what can happen when Americans re-engage and take ownership in the process.”  

 “We’ve already seen amazing new enthusiasm and involvement over the course of this campaign, and now we’re taking that excitement to the next level in all 50 states,” said deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand. “We’ve seen too many elections where turnout was less than 50 percent. At this critical time in our history, we know we can do better—this year and beyond.”  

The campaign has launched a web site to help people get involved no matter where they live:  http://my.barackobama.com/voteforchange. The site has information about 83 Vote for Change registration kick-off events on May 10, and also allows visitors from all 50 states to fill out a mail-in voter registration form, volunteer to register others to votes, and invite others to take part in the program.  

The campaign’s recent voter registration drives have registered more than 200,000 new Democrats in Pennsylvania, more than 165,000 new Democrats in North Carolina, and more than 150,000 new Democrats in Indiana. Those numbers just scratch the surface of what’s possible. 

This primary election is about another repeat every Democratic election since 1980 or a 50 State Strategy that improves our state and local parties as well.  Finding those voters we’ve ignored for too long with have both immediate benefits and benefits for years to come.

‘See, It Asks a Question’: A Mind So Open His Brains Dripped Out

South Carolina Preacher:

The sign in front of a small church in a small town is causing a big controversy in Jonesville, S.C.

Pastor Roger Byrd said that he just wanted to get people thinking. So last Thursday, he put a new message on the sign at the Jonesville Church of God.It reads: “Obama, Osama, hmm, are they brothers?”
Byrd said that the message wasn’t meant to be racial or political.

“It’s simply to cause people to realize and to see what possibly could happen if we were to get someone in there that does not believe in Jesus Christ,” he said.

When asked if he believes that Barack Obama is Muslim, Byrd said, “I don’t know. See it asks a question: Are they brothers? In other words, is he Muslim ? I don’t know. He says he’s not. I hope he’s not. But I don’t know. And it’s just something to try to stir people’s minds. It was never intended to hurt feelings or to offend anybody.”

Obama has said repeatedly during his campaign that he is a Christian and attends Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.Despite some criticism, Byrd says that the message will stay on the sign. He took the issue before his congregation Sunday night, and they decided unanimously to keep it.

Byrd also said he doesn’t want it to look like controversy forced him to take the sign down.

Steve Rauschenberger now in the WSJ:

 “Barack was one of the smartest people I ever worked with, but he was more interested in moving up,” says Republican Steven Rauschenberger, who served with Mr. Obama in the state senate. “I never thought he was very engaged in the state senate, because he didn’t think that much of it.”

Steve Rauschenberger then (S-T September 6, 2003)

He has suggested to Obama that they split from the pack and debate Lincoln/Douglas-style, across Illinois.

The most qualified candidate of both parties by legislative experience running for the U.S. Senate nomination is a Republican, Steve Rauschenberger, the first freshman and youngest senator to be named chairman of Senate Appropriations back when the GOP was in control. Now the 47-year-old Elgin legislator has taken a daring tack. He has suggested to state Sen. Barack Obama (D-Chicago), whom he regards as the most formidable of the eight major Democratic contenders, that they split from the pack (Rauschenberger faces six Republicans) and debate–just the two of them–Lincoln/Douglas-style, across Illinois.

Obama, an eloquent African American who was president of the Harvard Law Review, is considering it, and if he accepts, the Senate race would be suddenly lifted out of sound bytes and 20-second TV spots. This much is clear: If some day Illinois could be represented in the Senate by both Rauschenberger and Obama, it would come closest to the golden era when brilliant opposites, Everett Dirksen and Paul Douglas, jointly served.

Oversampling Just Isn’t that Hard to Understand People

Some of the dimmer lights in the blogosphere aren’t quite understanding the concept of oversampling for subgroups as NBC/WSJ did for the African-American sample in their latest poll.

It’s fairly simple. There is a general sample of 700 respondents with 11% African-American and 75% White respondents. Looking at their subsamples, there are 520 white respondents which is approximately 75% of the whole sample. If you read what the WSJ and Chuck Todd say is that they added 100 African-American respondents to the crosstabs–or the breakdowns by race. This means that in the general sample there are 77 African-Americans and in the smaller African-American sample there are 177 African Americans.

Before trying to discredit the poll or acting all outraged, do the math. All one needs is a basic understanding of percentages.

Furthermore, Taylor Marsh is very upset that the poll includes Republicans.  I kid you not. She might read the poll results with questions from the article she linked to and notice that it only includes Democrats and likely Democratic primary voters if they identify themselves that way. But shiiiiiiiiittttt, we’d hate to read the damn thing and know something about what we are talking about.

The Thing About Going Negative

It hurts you too:

As expected, one of the two major Democratic candidates saw a downturn in the latest NBC/WSJ poll, but it’s not the candidate that you think. Hillary Clinton is sporting the lowest personal ratings of the campaign. Moreover, her 37 percent positive rating is the lowest the NBC/WSJ poll has recorded since March 2001, two months after she was elected to the U.S. Senate from New York.

Here’s one of the most basic rules of campaigning.  Negative campaigning hurts your opponent, but it also hurts you.  Your hope is that it hurts your opponent more, but there is one big problem for some candidates. If your unfavorability is already higher, your unfavorability might drop enough so the other candidate still stays on top.  I e-mailed this to a friend probably a month ago in saying how she couldn’t go too negative. Of course, she can go that negative, it’s just not going to help her win.

Congratulations Clinton camp–you screwed yourselves and the party.

For those ranting about new polling showing Obama falling in some states, both are falling and will continue to fall as long as this crap continues.

Feeling Kind of Used

What’s stunning to me is that as many of us have spent time trying to point out that a big portion of the right wing noise machine is not credible and shouldn’t set the agenda after watching the Clinton’s get cut up by it for 8 years, Clinton is now embracing those sources as reasonable sources to work though:

Phil Singer cites the American Spectator 

Hillary dumps on Wright in front of….Richard Mellon Scaiffe 

Next she’ll go watermelon hunting with Dan Burton.