Hillary Clinton's campaign thought she had a chance in the Old Dominion. Yet Obama won Virginia by a huge margin, 63%-37%, basically winning in every region (Northern Virginia, the Tidewater, the Blue Ridge mountains, the border counties with North Carolina, the southeast coastal areas) except the southwest, and also posted these numbers, according to the NBC exit polls: he won among Democrats 59-41, he won among independents 66-33, he won among Republicans (!) voting in the Democratic primary 70-26. He won among White male voters 55%-45%, among Black voters 90%-10%, and among Latinos 55%-45%. Among White women, he lost to Hillary Clinton 42%-58%.
But most remarkably, he received 274,000 more votes than her, and combined, they outpolled all the Republicans on the ballot (McCain and Huckabee, as well as Ron Paul, and the ghosts of Romney, Thompson, Giuliani, etc.) by 479,230 votes. That is nearly half a million more votes, or about the margin by which Gore defeated W in 2000. I think this bodes very well for Obama, very well for the Democrats in general, and ill for McCain, the presumptive nominee, and whomever he picks as his running mate. McCain in fact received yet another scare from Huckabee. Voters are obviously both energized and fed up, and these higher Democratic vote totals (save for Alabama and Georgia, I believe), both in the primaries and in the caucuses, are a harbinger of November's results.
But let me not stint Maryland or DC. In Maryland, as I type this entry (about 75% of the precincts are reporting), Obama is winning by a 60%-37% margin over Clinton, who alone has received nearly as many votes (220,000 vs. 225,000) as all the Republicans combined; Obama is ahead with about 359,700 by himself. One of the best stories out of Maryland is the victory of progressive Democrat Donna Edwards over Albert Wynn, a teddy bearish corporate sellout who had repeatedly voted against his constituents' interests again and again (cf. Bankruptcy Bill, etc.). Nearly two years ago I highlighted her primary run against Wynn, which she lost, but thanks to online supporters, she was again able to compete, and she did it! The House will have won less DINO and one more Democrat whose platform directly addresses the needs and dreams of her constituents.
In DC, Obama defeated Clinton 75% to 24%. I think it's fair to say this was the least surprising outcome of all.
These vote margins have given Obama enough delegates to tie or pass Clinton, depending upon who's counting/how they're counted. The next state up is Wisconsin, which Obama should win, and then it's on to Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the first two of which Clinton is banking on. But I'll save that discussion for another day. For now, once again, congratulations Senator Obama!
Now the bad news: today the Democratic-controlled US Senate capitulated (again) to George W. and Dick Cheney, and voted 68-29 to give the telecommunications industry retroactive immunity as part of a bill vesting the president with expanding powers to spy on American citizens.
(W spokesdissembler Dana Perino even accidentally admitted today that the telecom companies spied on US citizens. Because they were "patriotic.")
It also shuts down pending lawsuits against the telecoms, possibly ensuring that we might never learn what the W administration was up to with its spying, not only after the September 11, 2001 attacks, but, as a trial involving former Qwest executive Joseph Nacchio has shown, as early as a few weeks after W and Cheney took office. In fact, Helen Thomas's question about this earlier spying led to Perino's unplanned candor. (And we should never forget the dramatic Joseph Comey testimony about the administration's attempts to force John Ashcroft, on his sickbed, to sign off on activities so troubling that he refused to do so, and which Comey also refused to do.)
One of the chief toadies this time was Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, who all but turned procedural back flips to deny the advancement of the Justice Committee bill, which did not include telecom amnesty was scrapped in favor of the Intelligence Committee bill, which gave the telecoms everything they wanted, and to ensure that any Democratic challenges, led primarily by former presidential candidate Chris Dodd and Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, were defeated. The other was the pusillanimous Jay Rockefeller, who, assuming the role of a ventriloquist's dummy, repeatedly recited RNC and Bush administration propaganda on the floor of the Senate, which was apparently persuasive enough (or cover, either way) for Democrats to join in on the "surrender to terror" and give Bush a huge valentine. This bill, as Glenn Greenwald noted today, is so outrageous that it actually empowers Bush the right to ignore its statutory effects if he so deems it necessary.
The Republicans, unsurprisingly, voted in Bush-enabling lockstep (and yes, that includes those "moderates" like John Sununu and Olympia Snowe), as they have done since 2001, while the Democrats could only muster 29 votes in opposition. Nominally, of course, they control the Senate; in reality, they remain marionettes for corporate lobbyists and the W Gang to run ragged as they see fit. Barack Obama voted no, as did his fellow Illinoisan, Dick Durbin, both of New Jersey's Senators, and the handful of other consistently liberal members of the pathetic, phantom majority (Dodd, Feingold, Kennedy, Kerry, Murray, Cantwell, Boxer, Brown, etc.).
Hillary Clinton did not cast a vote.
At this point, this egregious farce will become law unless the House stands firm when the bill goes to conference, as it did not approve telecom amnesty. I should add, not that it matters a dime, that polls have shown a clear majority of Americans do not want the telecoms to be given retroactive immunity. There are laws already on the books protecting them if they act in good faith, but apparently, as we've seen again and again since 2000, the laws of this country do not apply to this president or his cronies. Nevertheless, the folks at Firedoglake are trying to get people to contact their House representatives via petition. Please do go this route, but even better, send a fax or letter to your Representative, telling her that you do not want the telecoms to receive immunity. W's lawlessness, which will probably never be punished, should still be investigated by a court of law.
As for the US Senate, just go here, find your Senators, and praise them or rant by phone, fax or email. (Praise if they've done the right thing for a change always is important too.)
Australia has finally decided to apologize to its Aboriginal peoples for decades of sustained state, individual and symbolic violence, and social, political and cultural discrimination and marginalization. New Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has asked the Australian parliament to approve an apology he will deliver at tomorrow's opening session. The apology states in part that "We [the Australian state] apologize for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians." The text is particularly aimed at the "Stolen Generations," those thousands of Aboriginals and mixed-race children who were stolen from their families and raised by whites as part of the state's white supremacist social policy, which, in 1930s Northern Territory "chief protector of the Aborigines" Cecil Cook, aimed to "breed out the color."
Unfortunately, the apology appears to be mostly rhetoric and no action; the Aboriginals will receive no reparations, remuneration, nothing, at least no time soon, beyond the Labour Party's earnest words, which also include a bit about "a future where we harness the determination of all Australians, indigenous and nonindigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity," because, as you might have guessed even if you know nothing about Australia, by every social index measure, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are worse off than white Australians. Mmm hmmm, sounds familiar.
One thing this news brought to mind was the concept of apologies, what they aim to achieve, especially beyond the symbolic, and why it's so difficult for some people to utter or issue them, or why they think that grudging ones (cf. David Shuster to Hillary Rodham Clinton) or non-apologies are sufficient. Here's an extremely brief piece by Jess Perriam on philosopher Aniello Ianuzzi's discussion of the philosophy of apologies. Ianuzzi says:
"Increasingly in today's society, it's perhaps becoming harder still because in many ways we're becoming a more individualistic society and also in many ways the black and white between right and wrong has become very much blurred."
"Therefore people don't generally believe they're wrong anymore."
Dr Ianuzzi gives this the definition of 'moral relevatism' and explains it like this, "We believe we have the rights and abilities to make our own definitions of right and wrong, and therefore we can impose our views on others."
"The ego gets in the way and then of course, sorry becomes that much harder."
On a happier note, today the New York Times's Felicia Lee (one of my favorite reporters from that paper) focuses on the work of one of the major contemporary choreographers, Ronald K. Brown. Lee provides some history on Ron's company, Evidence Dance Company, which he founded in 1985 at the age of 19, and goes on to talk about the often groundbreaking work he's done over these last 23 years, emphasizing in particular the ways in which the African Diaspora is central to his work. Accompanying Lee's article is a fine photo essay (say what you will about the Times these days, but its photo slide shows rarely fail to catch the eye). Below, Ron, foreground, rehearsing his piece "Upside Down," with members of his troupe. On Tuesday night, Evidence opens its annual New York season at the Joyce Theater. (Photo: Andrea Mohin/The New York Times)