Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tancredo Will Likely Drop Out and Run for Senate

This is absolutely stupendous news if it's true.

Tancredo would be very likely to win the GOP primary as Colorado Republicans tend to invariably choose crazy right-wingers in their primaries, which is part of the reason they haven't done so well recently in the state.

Mark Udall would absolutely crush him.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty!

So Ellen Tauscher has introduced a non-binding resolution urging the Senate to consider and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. While it won't have any binding effect even if it passes, it's good to send the upper house a message.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

No More Death Penalty in New Jersey!

Great news! The bill to repeal the death penalty in New Jersey has now passed both houses of the NJ legislature

My awesome Governor (despite some of the grumbling and his lack of popularity in polls, I'm very happy with him) Jon Corzine, who opposes capital punishment, is going to sign the bill.

The vote follows approval by the state Senate on Monday, and the measure is now expected to be signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, a foe of capital punishment

My personal thoughts on the death penalty are as follows: In theory, I don't have a serious moral objection to executing first-degree murderers (although I'm not supportive of it even in theory). I have three big problems with it. In order of importance:

  1. It's irreversible. Our justice system isn't perfect. New evidence has turned up in many cases exonerating those on death row. Innocent people have almost certainly been executed; nothing overrides that. Life without parole as the maximum sentence means if there's new evidence, that person can be freed and only years of their life will have been taken instead of life itself

  2. It hasn't been applied fairly. If you look at the people Texas has executed, almost none of them have even graduated from high school. They're poor. While there may be proportionately more murders committed by those with less education (I don't know), it's definitely not even close to that overwhelming. It's clear that those with more education and money get top-notch lawyers who ensure that they don't get the death penalty.

  3. It's too expensive. It's cost New Jersey millions and millions and millions in extra court costs for appeals and such, and nobody's been executed (thankfully) in the 40 years we've had it

A look at the vote in the Senate is interesting:

3 Dems voted NAY (Madden, Sacco, Scutari) and 3 Repubs voted YEA (Allen, Coniglio, Martin, Palaia). I guess bipartisanship is still possible in NJ (40 person Senate).

R0|\| |>4v1 is crazy!!!!!!!

I found a solid, solid smackdown of Ron Paul on Youtube.

It's got nearly everything. But it is missing a few things.

These include:

Ron Paul's racist voting record: against giving Rosa Parks a Congressional medal of honor, against the Voting Rights Act, if he'd been there, against the Civil Rights Act, that's more than enough evidence.

Ron Paul's anti-Israel voting record: Nobody goes against AIPAC and stays in office. Nobody!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why Bill Shaheen is Wrong

First I want to note that this "concern" about Obama's past drug use is despicable, and that if she doesn't immediately drop Shaheen as her New Hampshire campaign chair, she risks losing a lot of Democratic votes in the general election. I haven't heard any Democratic candidate or their campaign surrogates bring up Vince Foster or claim Hillary is a lesbian.

But I have a separate point to make: past history proves Shaheen is wrong.

See, Obama first admitted his drug use in Dreams of My Father, published in 1995.

Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack, though,

So it was well established when he ran for the open United States Senate seat in 2004. You can be certain the Republican National Senatorial Committee read through his book. And even if they didn't, The Associated Press ran a story about it in March of 2004, before Ryan even dropped out, so they knew about it.

They were very competently run that year (George Allen is much better at running campaigns than at running for elections). Moreover, since George Allen was the chair, we know they weren't shy about making ads to play on racial stereotypes/fears.

And we know the NRSC can make some dynamite racist ads.

Not that that one really worked, either. Ford did significantly better on election day than the polls indicated he'd do, matching Al Gore's 2000 numbers.

And the NRSC had pretty good recruitment that year for open seats/incumbent races. In addition to the 6 seats they picked up and Tom Coburn in Oklahoma, there was Rep. George Nethercutt and millionaires Tim Michel and Pete Coors.

Not close to as good as Schumer's recruitment for 2006, but not bad.

And yet, look at what happened after Jack Ryan was forced to drop out of the race due to his penchant for public sex and the Republicans were able to choose a new nominee.

According to Bill Shaheen, the Republicans had a dynamite chance here. They were running against a black guy with a first name coming from Arabic and a last name sounding like the first name of the man who the Bush administration has so far failed to bring to justice. And he'd admitted to drug use!

Especially then, Illinois was no Massachusetts. It was full of ambitious A-list statewide Republican politicians who were waiting for a "great opportunity" like this to manifest itself. There was:

There were also numerous Republican millionaires in the state who could've run, including Jim Oberweis, Andy McKenna, David McSweeney, and many others

But not only could they not get any of them to run, they couldn't get anyone from the state of Illinois to run. Nobody considered even minimally decent from Illinois felt they had a shot at victory at that point.

They were forced to go with nutjob Alan Keyes of Maryland. Alan Keyes is despised by the Republican party, and for good reason. His presidential runs have been basically to attack the party for not being sufficiently hateful towards gays and women, and he's just generally nuts. Witness his performance in today's presidential debate (shame on the Des Moines Register for letting him in the debate but excluding Dennis Kucinich, who is polling as well as Chris Dodd, at 1%).

Moreover, Keyes hadn't done all that well in (admittedly somewhat more Democratic) Maryland, getting 38% of the vote in 1988 and 29% of the vote in 1992 in Senate races (Mikulski's opponent in 1998 did just as badly, and moderate Republican state Senator E.J. Pipkin got 33% against her in 2004, so Keyes wasn't that bad; Keyes 1988 performance vs. Sarbanes was several points better than that of Republican Congressman Lawrence Hogan in 1982 against him; fellow carpetbagger former Senator Bill Brock managed 40% against him in 1994; the 2000 candidate also did worse than Keyes). Even the very, very strong Michael Steele got only 44% of the vote.

And Obama, of course, demolished him in the general by a (possibly) unprecedented 71-27.

So that leads to 3 possible conclusions.

1. No Republican in Illinois felt it (and his name and everything else about him) was enough to give them a chance at victory.
2. Every single Republican in the state of Illinois tried cocaine, too, so they couldn't use it.
3. There was a vast conspiracy by the Republican party. They were so confident that he'd run for and win the presidential nomination in 2008 that they were willing to sacrifice a Senate seat (and, as it turns out, Senate control right now) in order to use it against him this year and thereby retain the White House.

I'm thinking it's probably #1.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stupid and Wrongheaded "Christmas" Resolution Passes Overwhelmingly

So the House passed a resolution by Steve King "Recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith"

It passed overwhelmingly, with 372 YEA, 9 NAY and 10 PRESENT

It was mostly bland and non-controversial, except for these parts:

Whereas Christians and Christianity have contributed greatly to the development of western civilization;

Whereas the United States, being founded as a constitutional republic in the traditions of western civilization, finds much in its history that points observers back to its roots in Christianity;

and this part

(4) acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States and in the formation of the western civilization;

Sadly, only 18 Democrats (and oddly, Mike Pence) were willing to vote NAY or PRESENT (I don't care which, I just find YEA offensive).

Most of the founding fathers were Deists or even agnostics (Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson), not Christians, and Christianity had no part in the founding of this country. As a Jew, I'm offended that they passed this. Western civilization really got off to a start when non-Church learning was disseminated during the Renaissance.

Thankfully, my Representative, Rush Holt, was one of the few with the courage to oppose this resolution.

The others included African-American members of Congress (who probably have an issue with Christianity-sanctioned enslavement of their ancestors being a contribution to Western civilization) Yvette Clarke, Alcee Hastings, Barbara Lee, Bobby
Scott, John Conyers and Donald Payne, atheist Congressman Pete Stark, Jewish members of Congress Gary Ackerman, Barney Frank, Jan Schakowsky, Allyson Schwartz, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and John Yarmuth, as well as progressive white Christians Rush Holt, Jim McDermott, Diane DeGette, Lynn Woolsey and Peter Welch.

I want to say that I'm very disappointed with the Jewish Democratic members of Congress who voted for this tripe.

Shame on them.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Huckabee Still Wants Log Cabin Republican Support

Mike Huckabee still stands by his belief that gay Republicans should support him.

Unfortunately, he also stands by his beliefs that being gay is unnatural and sinful.

During his Senate run, Huckabee also told the AP in the questionnaire that he found homosexuality to be "an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle."

Speaking Monday in Miami, Florida, Huckabee said he still stands by his earlier remarks on homosexuality.

"Let's understand what sin means," Huckabee said. "Sin means missing the mark. Missing the mark could mean missing the mark in any area. We've all missed the mark."

He's also made his stance on marriage clear. Unlike Larry Craig, it's not a wide stance.

The former Baptist minister said the "proper relationship" is one between a married man and woman having children.

I'm glad to see him take this view. I hope he'll join me in outlawing straight divorce; he'd be narrowing his competition to Willard Romney and R0|\| |>4u1 were my proposals made law, after all.

Of course, as long as it's between a man and a woman, it's acceptable to Huckabee. After all, Mike Huckabee is a big supporter of rapist's rights to be free and continue to prey on women.

Two former parole board members in Arkansas said yesterday that as governor, Mr. Huckabee met with the board in 1996 to lobby them to release the convicted rapist, Wayne DuMond, whose case was championed by evangelical Christians.

In fairness, this may be because Huckabee's positions on social issues are unflinchingly taken from whatever the religious right says, no matter how outlandish.

And of course, he fails to retract his 1992 statements that AIDS patients should be quarantined.

Responding to an Associated Press questionnaire, Huckabee said steps should be taken to "isolate the carriers of this plague" during his failed run for a U.S. Senate seat from Arkansas 15 years ago.

This was bad enough then, 2 years after the Ryan White Act had passed the Senate 95-4
and the House 408-14.

But as long as 7 years ago, 2000, objections to the Act had vanished. It passed the Senate by unanimous consent, and even the supposedly principled Ron Paul didn't vote against it (he missed the vote, perhaps intentionally, perhaps not).

This man is disgusting.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Cynthia McKinney for President! (as a Green)

Last year the good people of Georgia's 4th district elected staunch progressive (and Buddhist!) Hank Johnson to represent them in Congress over incumbent Cynthia McKinney. McKinney had punched a Capitol Hill police officer last year, and is a notorious anti-Semite, having blamed "the Jews" for her primary loss to Denise Majette in 2002 (she regained the seat in 2004 when Majette inexplicably decided to run for the Senate).

She's now running for president as a member of the Get Republicans Elected Every November party (a.k.a. the Greens).

It looks like she'll have a pretty easy time at getting the nomination, since income tax conspiracy theorist Cindy Sheehan has endorsed her, and she holds more sway in purity troll circles than anyone except St. Ralph the Nader, who, despite my demands at the September 15th war protest (Video with my demands clearly audible can be found here), has not yet apologized for enabling the Iraq War.

And Ralph likely will go with her as well.

So the question is, who will she pick as her running mate. My guess is former Republican state Representative from Louisiana David Duke. He's of course a big fan of Ron Paul today along with the rest of the white supremacists. But Paul may not run in the general. More importantly, David Duke's big issue has always been the Jews, not the blacks. When he ran for Senate in Lousiana, his campaign managers wanted him to stick to attacking blacks, because they felt it would help him. But he focused almost exclusively on Jews. So I think they can bond on their hatred of Jews and have a balanced ticket getting the crazies on both sides of the spectrum to vote for them.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Clinton Campaign Bribery via Charitable Contributions

I wouldn't bring this up except that the Clinton campaign has accused Barack Obama of bribery & violating campaign finance laws due to the PAC having given money it had left to the campaigns of Democratic candidates in early states.

Turns out the Clinton campaign has done the same thing via charitable contributions

African American Museum of IACedar Rapids, IA$909/18/2007
Assumption Greek Orthodox ChurchManchester, NH$1757/13/2007
Bobby Stephens' Fund for EducationManchester, NH$5003/16/2007
Capital Pride FestivalWashington, DC$1256/8/2007
Capitol City PrideDes Moines, IA$1006/12/2007
Democracy Fest, Inc.Pittsford, VT$2506/7/2007
New Hampshire Polit LibraryConcord, NH$1,5003/16/2007
Reno-Sparks NAACP Branch #1112Reno, NV$1005/25/2007
Rich Eychaner Charitable FndnDes Moines, IA$2506/12/2007

That's 3 donations to Iowa, 3 to New Hampshire, and 1 to Nevada, in addition to one to D.C. and one to Vermont. Is the extreme disproportion a coincidence? Very hard to believe.

Now, why is the Clinton campaign making charitable contributions in the first place? My guess is that it was money received from criminal sources that they didn't want to directly return.

After all, they've pledged to donate the $23,000 Norman Hsu had given Hillary in the past to charity. Will that money be going to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada as well? They need to answer this question now, because the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries occur before the 4th quarter filing deadline.

Rhode Island Gay Couples Can Marry, Not Divorce

Cross-Posted from Hat Thief

There's been a big setback for equal rights in the state of Rhode Island.

As you may recall, last year, the Massachusetts Superior Court ruled that Rhode Island couples could get married in Massachusetts, because "No evidence was introduced ... from Rhode Island that explicitly deems void or otherwise expressly forbids same-sex marriage."

Earlier this year, a greater victory came when the Rhode Island Attorney General issued the following statement: "Rhode Island will recognize same-sex marriages lawfully performed in Massachusetts as marriages in Rhode Island,"

But yesterday, this advance hit a setback, with the following ruling:

In a 3-to-2 decision, the court ruled that it was up to the legislature, not the court, to determine whether same-sex marriages and divorces would be recognized in Rhode Island.

The court said its role was “not to determine policy, but simply to determine legislative intent.”

The ruling said, “The General Assembly has not granted the Family Court the power to grant a divorce in the situation described.”

I fully support this ruling, and I think it's our highest priority to extend it to prohibit divorce among opposite-sex couples as a stopgap measure to prevent the destruction of marriage.

I have two legislative proposals to help that happen.

First of all, the Defense of Marriage Act must be amended by adding the following provisions:

1. No state (or other political subdivision within the United States) need recognize a divorce, even if the divorce was concluded or recognized in another state.
2. The Federal Government may not recognize divorce for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.

This will help preserve marriage from the secular progressives who want to destroy it.

And it'll be a huge below to the feminists, who, as the extremely Reverend Pat Robertson notes, are nearly as big of a danger to our country, and are also big divorce fans

The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.

Second of all, the House of Representatives must immediately move on Lincoln Davis(D-TN) proposal to protect the sacred insitution of marriage.

Representative Lincoln Davis
Marriage is for life, and this amendment needs to include that basic tenant. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I think we should expand the scope of the amendment to outlaw divorce in this country. Going further Mr. Speaker, I believe in fidelity. Adultery is an evil that threatens the marriage and the heart of every marriage, which is commitment.
And, Mr. Speaker, I personally think child abuse may be the most despicable act one can commit. This is why if we are truly serious about protecting marriage to the point we will amend the constitution, we should extend the punishment of abuse to prevent those who do such a hideous act from ever running for an elected position anywhere.

We should also prevent those who commit adultery, or get a divorce, from running for office. Mr. Speaker, this House must lead by example. If we want those watching on CSPAN to actually believe we are serious about protecting marriage, then we should go after the other major threats to the institution. Not just the threat that homosexuals may some day be allowed to marry in a state other than Massachusetts. An elected official should certainly lead by example.

Granted, if this passes, it'll be a big blow to the presidential campaigns of Fred Thompson, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel, but that's a small price to pay for saving marriage.

Victory for Lamar!

Lamar Alexander has won the race for the Republican Conference Secretary position being vacated by Senator Kyl thanks to Senator Lott's decision to retire. His victory was lopsided, 31-15, despite the fact that his opponent, Richard Burr(R-NC), received the strong backing of Senator and presidential afterthought John McCain.

Interesting trivia note: Before Senator Kyl, the Republican Conference Secretary position was held for six years by none other than Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum.

Can we expect such great things from Lamar!? Only time will tell. I sure hope not, though.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Gravel's Awesome Video

Power to the People! Give Peace a Chance!

If this doesn't get him support, nothing will.

My personal opinion is that nothing will. Still, the video is worth watching again and again and again and again.

Pages Gone Wild!

One remembers the huge outrage (read: no outrage) from Republicans when Florida Congressman Mark Foley was caught preying on House pages, among other things, asking them if he made them horny, as well as to get out a ruler and measure the length of their genitals.

But with a new page scandal, Ginny Brown-Waite and Shelley Moore Capito are so distressed that they've resigned from the House Page Board.

What's the scandal?

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Florida, Friday said she resigned because she was angered to learn that two pages had oral sex in public areas of the their Capitol Hill dorm. The pages were dismissed from the program, but Brown-Waite said the incident is an example of lax supervision of the teens.

That's right. A page had consensual oral sex with another page of the same age. Of course, they got dismissed, but that's not enough for Rep. Brown-Waite.

"It wasn't kissing and hugging -- let me put it that way," Brown-Waite said. "It did go beyond that, there were not only a young male and female involved, but there were also observers and other page participants who were, let's say, enablers."

"This had been going on for months," she said. "Almost all of the pages knew about it."

That's right. It wasn't even depraved homosexual consensual oral sex. And she's outraged, just outraged! Ms. Brown-Waite, this sort of thing has almost certainly always happened, and the, uh, ringleaders got dismissed. Nothing to get upset about. I don't recall you calling out Dennis Hastert or Tom Reynolds or John Shimkus for covering up Foley's preying on underage kids, which was a real issue.

I'd like to close with some solid language usage from CQPolitics on Speaker Pelosi's response to this scandal.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday ordered an internal probe into whether proper adult oversight exists at the residence halls for the 72 House pages.

Bob Latta: Good Friends with Corrupt Tom Noe.

Bob Latta, candidate for Ohio's 5th district, was very good friends with Tom Noe, who robbed the Ohio State Worker's Pension Fund, a very despicable thing to do.

So don't vote for Bob Latta

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Judge Upholds DNC Refusal to Seat Florida Delegates

Man, Florida don't get no respect when it comes to upholding their voting rights in court. Judge Robert Hinkel has ruled that under the First Amendment's rights to freedom of association, the Democratic party has the right to set its primary calendar and punish those who violate.

Ironically, the lawyer on behalf of Floridians was none other than U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey, who also argued on behalf of the Gore campaign in Bush v. Gore.

Attorney Kendall Coffey, a veteran of the 2000 post-presidential race litigation, unsuccessfully asked Hinkle to make the DNC recognize the Florida delegation because the Jan. 29 primary date was set by the state Legislature. He said the DNC's alternative — picking delegates in congressional district caucuses after the primary — was unsuitable. Absentee and overseas votes couldn't participate, Coffey said, and there would be only about 150 caucuses, compared to about 6,000 polling places in the primary.

Coffey is infamous for having bitten a stripper after losing a tough case. Read Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway for hilarious insight into Coffey and our amazing government and political system, especially if you're a fan of giant prehistoric zucchini.

This decision is, more than anything else, a blow to the Clinton campaign. Clinton supporters Senator Bill Nelson and Representative Alcee Hastings were behind the lawsuit, unsurprising as Clinton has been polling very well in polls of Florida.

However, it's also a big blow to the voters and Florida. Voters should not be disenfranchised because of where they live [as a student in D.C., this is a rather big deal for me].

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Peru Free Trade Agreement Passes Senate

The Senate has just approved the Peru Free Trade agreement 77-18, with the 5 presidential candidates not voting

Although this bill was by far the most labor and environmentally friendly free trade agreement ever negotiated by the U.S. (thanks to the insistence of the Dems on the House Ways & Means Committee, Bush was forced to renegotiate it to be more labor and eco-friendly; otherwise, they'd have voted it down), it still had some problems, leading Change to Win, Public Citizen and many other progressive groups opposed it. The AFL-CIO took no position.

John Edwards, in particular, has been vocal in opposing this agreement

1. The Clinton campaign just yesterday issued a fiery statement stressing the importance of a legislators duty to vote. It would've been nice to see them hold that position for a full 24 hours.
2. The Senate is full of traitor DLC Vichy Dems!
3. The Democratic Senators first elected in the fall of 2006 voted quite well; 7 of 10 of them opposed it. Bob Casey, Sherrod Brown, Amy Klobuchar, Claire McCaskill, Jon Tester, Bernie Sanders, and Sheldon Whitehouse all voted NAY.
4. The other Democratic Senators were terrible; only 11 of 40 of them opposed it.

But the most important question: What the hell is with Jim Webb's vote?

He made economic fairness a central tenet of his campaign. He released an ad in the primary denouncing his opponent, Harris Miller, as the "anti-christ of outsourcing."

And yet he's one of the few to vote for this bill?

Hutchison Drops Out; Lamar! vs Richard Burr

From Politico via CBS:

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) has withdrawn from the leadership race for Senate Republican Conference chair, according to Republican insiders.

The Conference Chair position is being vacated by extremely far-right Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona. He's currently runnning unopposed for the position of Minority Whip.

The current minority whip, Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, shocked the political world by stating his intention to resign after managing to be one of the few Republican Senators re-elected in the fall of 2006

There are several thoughts on why Senator Lott might be leaving.

1. Lott wants to avoid the new Democratic lobbying rules that close the revolving door allowing members of Congress to lobby their former colleagues after just one year.

All that's changed since Lott won last year is an ethics rule that slightly infringes -- slightly -- on a lawmaker's ability to make millions off his public service the moment he steps through that revolving door. By resigning before the end of the year, Lott sidesteps the rule, which doubles to two years the waiting period before senators can lobby former colleagues.

2. He's "not gay" just like Senator Craig, but has more shame:

Rumors have been floating around about Lott being involved with gay escort Benjamin Nicholas (Nicholas has issued a not-so-clear denial).

Escort Benjamin Nicholas denies that he ever had a "working relationship" with the anti-gay senator from Mississippi.

I have a third theory.

Remember what lost Senator Lott the position of Majority Leader?

I want to say this about mah state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either.

So I think the real issue is that he was misled by the term "Minority Whip." Now that he's found out it doesn't involve whipping minorities, he has no desire to stay in the Senate.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Good News on the Transit Front

I am a huge advocate of mass transit, to the extent that I don't yet have a driver's license (I've had a permit for well over a year, but I haven't yet had the time or need for a license, nor can I afford to buy a car or pay for the insurance).

Anyway, I love mass transit, especially rail transit. In the past year, I've ridden MARTA (Atlanta), NJ Transit on the Northeast Corridor (New Jersey), Newark City Rail(Newark, NJ), PATH (NY/NJ Port Authority), MTA (New York), Subte (Buenos Aires), Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (right now only Hudson County, NJ), Metro (Washington, DC), the El (Chicago) and of course Amtrak.

The Subte in Buenos Aires stood out from all of them. First of all, it cost 70 centavos (about 20 cents American at the time) to ride anywhere. Second of all, it was jam-packed as tightly as possible with people during times even close to rush hour. I mean jam-packed tightly! Granted, Buenos Aires is far, far more densely populated than most American cities (this was clear when comparing the overhead nighttime view of Buenos Aires [tightly packed going quickly to rural in terms of lighting] to that of Houston [godforsaken sprawl from hell].

Anyway, there's some good news in the transit world:

The #7 line on the MTA is being extended to 10th Avenue by Hudson Yards (granted, the subway already goes within about a half mile of just about everywhere on Manhattan Island, still, it could be a quarter).

Phoenix's light rail system is beginning to be tested in traffic and will hopefully soon be in operation [hopefully with expansion].

Paul Wolfowitz is Back. To Start Another Iraq?

That's right. The man who admits he failed badly on getting us into Iraq and stacked the World Bank with his cronies to such an extent that you'd think it was located on K Street is back in the Bush administration. (in fact, it's located across the street from my dorm last year at 1900 F)

Condoleeza Rice has offered him the Chairmanship of the
International Security Advisory Board at the State Department.

This board was formerly known as the "Arms Control and Nonproliferation Advisory Board."

The State Department website description:

The Secretary of State's International Security Advisory Board (formerly called the Arms Control and Nonproliferation Advisory Board (ACNAB)) provides the Department with independent insight and advice on all aspects of arms control, disarmament, international security, and related aspects of public diplomacy. The ISAB is sponsored and overseen by the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security. The Board provides its recommendations directly to the Secretary of State. The Board currently has 18 members and is chartered to have up to 25. Board members are national security experts with scientific, military, diplomatic, and political backgrounds. The Board meets in a plenary session on a quarterly basis.

This is a very disturbing place for the man arguably most responsible for spinning the intelligence on WMDs and rounding up the support in the Bush administration to get us into Iraq.

Of course, Director of National Intelligence McConnell just released a report stating Iran halted its weapons program in 2003. But knowing Wolfowitz, he'll find a Slider, Sinker, or most likely, a Screwball who gave "intelligence" that contradicts that finding, and play it up as much as possible.

If this were an office filled by appointment and subject to Senate consent, I'd be less worried; Harry Reid, after all, played hardball for the last two weeks by holding pro-forma sessions to prevent recess appointments.

But it doesn't look it is.

Incidentally, the man he's replacing? Fred Thompson.

Wolfowitz will probably take the job more seriously, but I'd rather have Grandpa Fred doing nothing than Wolfowitz doing horrible things.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Craig: "Not concerned About Criticizing Boxer's Stance"

Senator Craig may be having sex with 8 different men, but that hasn't stopped the good Senator from continue his important work in ensuring that global warming continues unabated.

His latest target: Senator Barbara Boxer and the Lieberman-Warner bill on Climate Change.

While there are some real problems with this bill from a progressive standpoint-Friends of the Earth contends it's full of obscene giveaways to polluting industries, it's a start.

And it's certainly far too much to stomach (which is saying something!) for Senator Craig.

Granted, Craig pales in comparison to Inhofe, who's famous for claiming that global warming is "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" (evolution is second, the geocentric theory of the solar system is 3rd, and the moon landing rates at a dismal 4th for the senior Senator from Oklahoma).

But one can't deny that the Senator is working his ass off in trying to thwart Senator Boxer's attempt to get this legislation to the floor.

My job is to get this bill as far as I can, and get it to the floor of the Senate," Boxer said in a recent interview. "We'll work on this all night if we have to."

Whereas Craig says that

would cost thousands of jobs and "demonstrate nothing more than her intent to revert the United States to a developing country."

One wonders at the audacity of Craig's coming out in such full force on this issue when he has other things to worry about.

In his defense, his spokesman, Sidney Smith, made the following remarks:
Sidney Smith, a spokesman for Craig, said Craig was "not concerned about criticizing Sen. Boxer's stance on climate change," even though she heads the ethics panel.

He doesn't elaborate on the Senator's own stance, but we can safely assume that it's wide.

One final note of interest

Boxer and Craig may be able to debate the bill in Bali, where both are scheduled to attend a United Nations conference next week on climate change.

Craig, who has attended three previous U.N. climate conferences, said he expects a familiar scene: "Sen. Boxer will be welcomed as the liberator, and Al Gore will probably receive another award, but in the end, the only impact the conference will have will be the pollution and consumption they all create in traveling to Bali in the first place."

Two main points in this blurb:

  • Larry Craig has, contrary to popular opinion, NOT been banned from airports

  • He's obviously leaving something out of his "familiar scene". I don't even want to think about what

Ron Paul Wins Virginia Republican Straw Poll

That's right. DR. RON PAUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! got 38 percent (182 of the 479) votes cast at the Virginia Republican Advance

That put him ahead of Frederick's of Hollywood (112 votes), I <3 Huckabees (at 51), Willard (45), The Serial Adulterer Ghoul(43), John McCain (23), Military Industrial Complex Patron Hunter (19), and 4 votes for the Native American candidate [his name sounds suspiciously Italian, though].

Some might explain this victory simply by claiming that Ron Paul supporters are "organized" and enthusiastic.

I have another theory-Ron Paul is the natural candidate of the racists who are in charge of the Virginia Republican party.

My evidence:

  • Fairfax County Republican roast full of racist jokes
  • Rep. Virgil Goode bashed Muslim African-American Rep. Keith Ellison and use that to bash immigrants [Ellison was born in Detroit]
  • George Allen-noose-hanging, Confederate-flag lover who lost his race by disgusting Independent Virginians with his racist attack on S.R. Sidarth
  • Ron Paul, the candidate of white supremacists, won the straw poll

For good measure, let's end with the famous "Macaca video." The applause of racism by the Republican rank and file really brings my point home.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Chris Dodd: Stop Killling the Democratic Party

That may be a little bit harsh. But only a little bit. If these were black voters or Jewish voters or female voters or any other voters they were trying to disenfranchise, this big of a deal would be made.

Note what the Dodd campaign has said about college-age kids who've been showing more enthusiasm for the Obama candidacy than college students have shown about any presidential candidate since Eugene McCarthy's anti-Vietnam war candidacy in 1968 [Clinton, incidentally, was one of the many students at Massachusetts colleges who went to New Hampshire to campaign for Eugene McCarthy].

Dodd on Iowa students who have become so into the process that they're willing to cut short their winter break solely to come back and caucus in the state where, by the way, they're registered to vote. You can't vote absentee in the caucus. If I went to school in Iowa or New Hampshire or Nevada or pretty much anywhere else that has representation , I'd be registered there too. After all, I live at college for more than 2/3 of the year. As it is, Republicans have chosen to continue to disenfranchise D.C. residents, so I vote absentee in Princeton, New Jersey where I can actually have a say.

“I was deeply disappointed to read today about the Obama campaign’s
attempt to recruit thousands of out-of-state residents to come to Iowa for
the caucuses. Given that the Obama campaign once said they
‘absolutely condemn any attempt to fraudulently influence the caucuses,’ we had
hoped they’d follow the Dodd campaign’s lead in working to protect the
integrity and spirit of the caucus process.

“‘New Politics’ shouldn’t be about scheming to evade either the spirit
or the letter of the rules that guide the process. That may be the way
politics is played in Chicago, but not in Iowa.”

They need to listen to what Howard Dean said about young people at the YearlyKos convention this past August.

So what, you might say? Where are the young people going to go? The Republican party?

In most years, all that would happen is that they wouldn't vote. This is bad enough; we can't afford to turn off young people; the ideologies shaped today will likely stay with them for the rest of their lives.

However, this year, there's a worse danger that comes in the form of Ron Paul. Ron Paul has a huge following among young people; he's the overwhelming leader on Facebook among Republican candidates, and he's widely expected to make a third-party run after he inevitably loses the GOP nomination.

What attracts young people to Paul?

1. His Opposition to the Iraq War
2. His Opposition to the Drug War
3. His Opposition to Taxes

That should be scary enough, having young people get involved in a campaign that's based primarily on eliminating the government and sending us back to the 1880's robber-baron era.

But it gets worse. Ron Paul's campaign is the #1 choice of white supremacists. And the Paul campaign chooses to embrace them. They have refused to return a $500 donation from Don Black.

Don Black is probably the 2nd most influential white supremacist in the U.S. after former Republican state Representative David Duke (also a Paul fan).

From Wikipedia:

Don Black ([1]) (born July 28, 1953) is an American white nationalist neo-Nazi. He is the founder and current webmaster of the "Stormfront" forum and former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). He was convicted in 1981 for attempted armed overthrow of the Dominican government in violation of the U.S. Neutrality Act.

And the rank-and-file white supremacists are just as gung-ho about Ron Paul. The prospect of young people's political ideologies being shaped by a campaign full of white supremacists, is, to say the least, terrifying.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Pelosi Stands Strong-For Now

We're all worried that the Democratic Congress will again capitulate to the man down the street with the 30% approval rating [a.k.a President Bush]. After all, they did so in May by significant margins.

And then we hear this today from Rep. John Murtha, Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

I think the ’surge’ is working.

This let Republican whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) issue the following statement:

With one of the Democrats' leading war critics now saying the surge in Iraqis working, it's difficult to understand why the majority continues to push an irresponsible withdrawal plan that jeopardizes critical support funding for our troops. It can't be the facts on the ground that are influencing their decision-making: After all, our servicemen and women have made tremendous progress the past six months, with fewer attacks on our troops, greater security in historically insecure areas, and terrorist insurgents on the run.

I'm baffled by Murtha's willingness to enable the party that has said these things about him:

Mean Jean Schmidt(R-OH)
A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bop, Ohio Representative from the 88th district in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do. Danny and the rest of America and the world want the assurance from this body – that we will see this through.

Louie Gohmert(R-TX)

thank God he was not here and prevailed after the bloodbaths at Normandy and in the Pacific or we would be here speaking Japanese or German.

At any rate, one would expect that Speaker Pelosi would compromise/capitulate.

But CNN's latest story makes it appear otherwise

But a spokesman for Pelosi, Nadeam Elshami, said Democratic leaders do not plan to change this timeline or bring anything back to the floor before Congress leaves for the year.

"The speaker has said we will not initiate any funding legislation for the war this year," Elshami said. "The House has already passed $50 billion."

Of course, she may capitulate in 2008, or she may change her mind.

But for now, she seems to be standing strong. I'm grateful for that.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

CAFE Standards Increase Has Loopholes

So says CNN.

This is unbelievable. Dingell claims "we've got to do it in a way that doesn't destroy our industry or manufacturing" and "We have to address the Senate bill to make sure we don't combine light trucks and automobiles in a way that will destroy them."

Every industrialized country and many developing countries have higher fuel economy standards.

Later in the presentation, when discussing automotive fuel economy standards, Gore - speaking at a venue about an hour from Detroit, and in the midst of some of the worst months in the history of the American auto industry - seemed to pull some of his punches. "Forgive me if this is a sensitive topic," Gore said before producing a chart that showed American fuel economy standards far below those of the European Union, China, Japan, Australia and Canada.

While noting efforts by the American auto industry to block California legislation that would bring the state's emissions standards closer to China's, Gore was quick to add that he doesn't own a foreign car: "I'm loyal to GM and Ford and the United Auto Workers," he said. "I just want them to make more stuff that's good for the environment."

This hasn't stopped China from having massive economic growth. The problem is that the United States hasn't been willing to take action against China through the WTO (whether the WTO was a good idea can be left for another diary). China's been violating international law and basic human rights left and right, but we're doing nothing.

Why? Because we need China to finance our unnecessary wars and low taxes-and it sounds like we may be somewhat scared of them too based on the recent U.S. Navy vessel incident in Hong Kong.

So it's not going to hurt the auto companies. It will, however, hurt the oil companies over the long term. Better mileage means less consumption, which means we won't have a supply shortage (we don't have one yet, mind, but it's coming).

All it will do is continue to allow huge, wasteful vehicles on the public roads.

Large "work trucks" like the Dodge Ram, the Ford F-150 and the Chevrolet Silverado would be exempt from the 35 mpg standard, according to sources involved in the negotiations.

There's no reason why these pickup trucks shouldn't be able to 35 mpg when not carrying a load. Our engineers are more than smart enough.

New Primary Opponent for Wayne Gilchrest

Of the 200 or so Republicans in the House of Representatives, the one I'm probably least concerned with beating is Wayne Gilchrest. He's pro-choice, pro-environment, wants to leave Iraq and has a relatively moderate voting record on economic issues.

And his district is pretty heavily Republican (62-38 for Bush in 2004, 57-40 for Bush in 2000). So even a True Believer® will be tough to beat here.

Wayne's biggest fight has always been in the primary. He's nearly been Clubbed for GrowthTM several times now.

And Pat Toomey's organization is at it again with a new attack website, Wayne Gilchrest is a Liberal.

This is the same strategy they used to help True Believer® Tim Walberg take down Rep. Joe Schwarz, another moderate Republican. Well, that and $500,000 in Schwarz-bashing ads.

So True Believer® State Sen. Andrew Harris is running as a "real conservative" and could well take him down.

But it looks like Gilchrest may have some good news. State Senator E.J. Pipkin has announced his intentions to run against Gilchrest as an "Eastern Shores conservative," and pundits believe this will help split the anti-Gilchrest vote.

The Club for Growth will stick with Harris (they've been a conduit to raise money for him); however, E.J. Pipkin is a multi-millionaire and is willing to spend vasts sums of money, so he'll get himself some exposure.

Frankly, I think that may be a good thing. In heavily Republican districts, I'd much prefer a moderate Republican to a far-right Republican.

However, there is always the possibility that Gilchrest could choose to run as an Independent and skip the primary; he's popular enough to do that.

It wouldn't be the first time a Republican left the party (or made noises about it) after a Clubbing for Growth.

  • Lincoln Chafee left the Republican party after narrowly winning his primary against CFG-backed Steven Laffey and then losing the general

  • Joe Schwarz has made noises about leaving the party

  • Arlen Specter, who was challenged by now-CFG president Pat Toomey, would probably leave if he wasn't a coward-he Bloomberged his way into the Republican party [Bloomberg = running as a Republican for city office to avoid heavily ethnic Democratic primary]; he should Bloomberg his way out again

  • Bob Smith endorsed John Kerry for president after losing his primary to CFG-backed John Sununu

Rest In Peace, Henry Hyde

Former U.S. Representative from Illinois Henry Hyde(R-Chicago suburbs) has passed away. Hyde entered the House in the Democratic landslide year of 1974, and left it in the Democratic landslide year of 2006.

He'll be remembered in history for two things.

1. The Hyde amendment-staunchly anti-choice, Henry Hyde introduced an amendment in 1976 which prohibited federal funding of abortions. Currently, it requires coverage of abortion in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment, but prohibits it otherwise.
2. His instrumental role as Judiciary Chairman in the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

But I prefer to remember Henry as a relic of a simpler time. See, Henry had normal, simple, adulterous sex scandals. They ruined families, true, but nothing special.

You don't see that anymore.

These days we see:
Ted Haggard-party n play gay sex with prostitutes
Mark Foley-dirty e-mails with underage pages
Larry Craig-wide stance on not being gay in airport bathrooms
Rudy Giuliani-has taxpayers pay for his affair, dumps his wife on TV, lives with gay couple

So, rest in peace, Henry Hyde. We'll miss your simplicity.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Americans Overwhelmingly Support the Writers

A new poll from SurveyUSA tells us how the public feels about the writer's strike.
Their key finding:

Americans Seven Times More Likely to Back WGA as Studios

About 70% of those polled claimed familiarity with the strike.

Of those familiar, 49% side with the writers, 7% side with the studios, and 42% side with neither.

SurveyUSA releases cross-tabs for their polls. The results here are just as striking.


Even among Republicans and conservatives, no more than 10% side with the studios and over 35% side with the writers.

Why is support so overwhelming?

One reason might be that people consider intellectual property rights and royalties more important than they consider, say, health care; this would explain the differences in public support.

However, I think the most pertinent reason is the way the question was framed.

Which side are you on? The writers? The studios? Or neither?

Setting the question up as worker versus faceless corporation probably makes a big difference in public perception.

That difference may be necessary. After all, the mainstream media is owned by the same conglomerates that aren't paying WGA members the royalties they deserve.

See, for instance, how CNN (owned by Time Warner) covers CBS (owned by CBS corporation, but with basically the same ownership as the new Viacom)'s canceling of the Democratic debate due to the network's failure to agree to pay the writers what they deserve:

Democrats abandoned their plans for a December 10 debate at CBS studios in Los Angeles, blaming the continuing writers strike for the cancellation. Most of the candidates, including the three frontrunners, had said they would not cross picket lines set up outside the event site in Los Angeles.
CBS had asked the WGA to suspend picketing on that day, but the union did not respond to that request.

One expects that the media owned by News Corp, Disney, GE/NBC Universal and perhaps under the Bush administration, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, is doing the same sort of thing.

This is, again, one of those cases where Web 2.0 media is crucial.

wgaamerica is the #4 most subscribed Youtuber this week, 20th most subscribed this month, 79th most viewed this month.

Of course, the Writer's Guild of America has a huge advantage in this area. Their members know how to write scripts that'll make people want to watch.

Still, there have to be some lessons that the rest of the labor movement can take from this.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Keith Ellison's Bill Will Fix the Peru Free Trade Agreement

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives approved the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (Peru FTA), and the Senate is expected to approve it in the near future. Thanks to the pressure put on Bush by the Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, this agreement contains real labor and environmental standards that led the AFL-CIO to state that "undoubtedly, the Peru TPA, as amended, marks a substantial step forward toward a trade model that will benefit the working people of both countries."

However, there are still serious problems with this agreement. The biggest is that enforcement is up to the executive branch. And as John Edwards' campaign site notes:

Despite progress on labor and environmental standards, worker rights are no stronger than George Bush's willingness to enforce them. He has proven his indifference to workers through seven years of inaction.

Keith Ellison also understands this problem. That's why he's introduced a bill which will force the executive branch to ensure that these provisions are upheld.

Representative Ellison has introduced a bill with former mill worker Mike Michaud of Maine "to allow United States citizens to bring civil actions against persons who fail to perform an act or duty under the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act."

The full text of the bill is as follows:


Section 102(c) of the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act is amended to read as follows:

`(c) Third Party Right of Action Allowed- Any citizen of the United States may commence a civil action on his or her own behalf or in a representative capacity against any person (including the United States or any other governmental instrumentality or agency to the extent permitted by the eleventh amendment to the Constitution) who is alleged to have knowingly failed to perform any act or duty under this Act. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia shall have jurisdiction, without regard to the amount in controversy or the citizenship of the parties, to issue appropriate orders requiring such person to perform such act or duty.'.

Guaranteeing every American standing to sue for failure of action is very important. Without it, the courts will likely find that potential litigants have no standing to bring the suit. This guarantees it, and makes court-ordered enforcement a real possibility if the executive branch fails to enforce provisions.

One might wonder why this was not introduced as an amendment to the Peru Free Trade Agreement.

The problem is that the House and Senate signed away their ability to amend or filibuster or in any way hold up the passage of the Peru (or Central America or Oman or Chile or Panama or South Korea or Colombia) Free Trade Agreements back in 2002 when the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the Baucus-Grassley amendment to the Andean Trade Pact, which gave the president fast-track negotiating authority for any trade agreement negotiated before July 1, 2007.

Fast-track negotiating authority does the following:

If the President transmits a trade agreement to Congress, then the majority leaders of the House and Senate or their designees must introduce the implementing bill submitted by the President on the first day on which their House is in session. (19 U.S.C. § 2191(c)(1).) Senators and Representatives may not amend the President’s bill, either in committee or in the Senate or House. (19 U.S.C. § 2191(d).) The committees to which the bill has been referred have 45 days after its introduction to report the bill, or be automatically discharged, and each House must vote within 15 days after the bill is reported or discharged. (19 U.S.C. § 2191(e)(1).) In the likely case that the bill is a revenue bill (as tariffs are revenues), the bill must originate in the House (see U.S. Const., art I, sec. 7), and after the Senate received the House-passed bill, the Finance Committee would have another 15 days to report the bill or be discharged, and then the Senate would have another 15 days to pass the bill. (19 U.S.C. § 2191(e)(2).) On the House and Senate floors, each Body can debate the bill for no more than 20 hours, and thus Senators cannot filibuster the bill and it will pass with a simple majority vote. (19 U.S.C. § 2191(f)-(g).) Thus the entire Congressional consideration could take no longer than 90 days.

Basically, it's a huge giveaway of authority and power to the executive branch. One wonders why Congress would ever willingly do so.

So thanks to fast-track, Representative Ellison is required to introduce this as a stand-alone bill.

Unfortunately, it has little chance of becoming law unless we can somehow get the Dem leadership to put it into a must-pass bill in conference (if they decide to capitulate and give Bush more money sans timetable, this would be one good provision to put into it).

However, the model of ensuring standing for citizens who may not be able to prove they've been directly affected by governmental [and non-governmental] negligence/lawbreaking is a very good one.

Consider the whole telecom immunity issue. One of the biggest reasons as to why the issue is so important is that the courts have said that most people lack standing to sue the NSA directly, as they can't prove they were the target of illegal surveillance, whereas customers of phone companies who illegally gave the NSA access do have standing (under breach of contract, I think; the important thing is that they have standing). If those companies were given immunity, we'd have no way to subpoena and find out the details and scope of the lawbreaking.

However, if a bill giving telecom immunity also incorporated a provision allowing any citizen standing to sue over breach of the FISA law, that would no longer be an issue. Of course, there'd still be the issue that telecom immunity = corporate welfare, but the worst parts of telecom immunity would no longer be relevant.

Presidential candidates running on reform would do well to put the assurance of citizen standing to sue in their platforms. Presidential candidates who want to look better on trade would do even better to introduce Representative Ellison's bill in the Senate.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ron Paul's running mates-David Duke, Lou Dobbs, Dennis Kucinich

So DR. RON PAUL!!1!!11!!1!1! has been raising tons of money from a diverse group of libertarians, paleoconservatives, anti-war purist morons, conspiracy theorists, gold bugs, nativists, white supremacists and severely misguided, high, anti-entitlement college students.

He's been polling surprisingly well lately;

8% in South Carolina [with McCain at 9%, Huckabee at 12%, Giuliani at 13%, and Thompson and Romney tied at 21%].

About 7% in Nevada, with Huckabee at 5%, McCain at 8%, Thompson at 14% Romney at 21%, and Giuliani at 28%.

8% in New Hampshire, several points ahead of Huckabee and Thompson.

6% in Iowa, tied with McCain.

Although his numbers have gone up, he has no real shot at the Republican nomination. If school was in session, he would definitely have done well enough in Story County (Iowa State) and Johnson County(U of Iowa) and maybe some other counties with university to reach the viability level and get some state delegates. With break, he may not be able to; either way, he has no chance of winning the Republican nomination, because he has a relatively low maximal support, and once the field thins to him and one or two others, he'll never be able to do well enough.

But there are still 2 important questions to be answered.

1) Who will his supporters decide to switch to at the Iowa and Nevada caucuses, and will it make a difference?

This sort of thing is always difficult to predict, even with candidates with similar constituencies who aren't fairly out of line with their party. After all, Dennis Kucinich was the left-wing candidate in 2004-one would've expected him to push his supporters to go with either the labor candidate (Gephardt) or the anti-war candidate (Dean). If they'd gone with Dean, Dean would've probably finished a fairly weak second and/or the scream thing might've gone differently, and Edwards would've been a weak third. This might well have set up Wes Clark as the anti-Kerry candidate (or maybe Dean would've managed to win NH), and would've meant Edwards would've faded and probably wouldn't be running this time.

However, I'll give the best predictions I can.

Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are at the top in Iowa, with a big gap. I highly doubt Paul supporters will be going with someone perceived as extremely disingenuous and flip-flopping and "ask my lawyers if torture is okay" (Romney) or as somewhat populist (Mike Huckabee), and Thompson's so old and boring.

Had McCain not decided to be so resolutely pro-war this cycle, I'd think they'd go with him; he's had the most consistently anti-spending/pro-balanced budget record of any of the candidates and he opposes torture.

Giuliani has got to be the least likely, though. His ideology can be summed up by 9/11 and "I'll protect you from the terrorists and criminals". This pisses off pretty much the entire Paul constituency. The conspiracy theorists think the U.S. government did it, the white supremacists think the Jews/Israel did it, the libertarians hate the loss of liberty it spouted, and the students/potheads despise his record on crime.

So I'd guess McCain (then again, he may not make it to 15% even with the Paultards).

2) Paul has really not been spending much money. Before the start of the 4th quarter, he had more money on hand than John McCain (and way more than Huckabee who raised only a total of $1 million; businesspeople don't like him in the primary) with Giuliani being the only one with more than twice what he had on hand

He managed to raise $4.2 million online at the beginning of this month in honor of Guy Fawkes Day, and his supporters are trying to raise $10 million in honor of the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party [I expect them to raise several million at least].

I expect the reason he's not spending very much money now is that he's planning an independent general election run and he can use the money he's raising to promote his candidacy until the Republican National Closet-in in St. Paul (honoring Larry Craig).

Of course, he needs a vice president. Three possibilities are David Duke, Lou Dobbs and Dennis Kucinich.

Paul has recently taken a hit from white supremacists because some "Jews for Ron Paul" (as my good friend GoldnI says, What a Shande) and worse (or perhaps equivalent, I don't understand racists), "Zionists for Ron Paul" online groups have been coming into being. They're also worried that he's going to succumb the "neo-commie Jew filth" (or whatever they'd say; I prefer not to read their sites) at the Anti-Defamation League.

The Anti-Defamation League has also demanded that he return the donation he was given by Don Black, former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard and webmaster of the racist skinhead website Stormfront, convicted of trying to invade Dominica and get the white leader back into power.

In order to re-assure these guys, he could pick David Duke, well-known former Ku Klux Klan leading anti-Semite, Republican State Representative from Louisiana, and twice the Republican nominee for statewide elections in Louisiana.

But Duke would probably hurt him among the other constituencies that probably couldn't stomach the overt racism.

Lou Dobbs would probably be a better-choice. He's made noises about running, and his nativist (anti-immigrant/anti-outsourcing etc.) rantings on CNN has made his show one of the most-watched on cable news. Nativism has often been good for quite a few votes in American history (from the Know-Nothing party to Ross Perot; major parties have adopted it in the past as well); Dobbs as VP would help get those constituencies and could really help such a ticket.

Finally, there's Dennis Kucinich, who recently said he'd be okay with being on a ticket with Paul. Kucinich might freak some of his other constituencies.

However, as a proud leprachaun, Dennis Kucinich is almost certainly more than okay for gold bugs.

His staunch anti-free trade record makes him well-liked by the nativist crowd.

His staunchly pro-civil liberties and hard-core anti-war/anti-defense spending record (at least since he became pro-choice) will be enough to make libertarians overlook his somewhat socialist economic positions [in the #2 role].

And it'll guarantee him a whole host of idiots on the left, especially if Hillary is the Democratic nominee.

He has no chance of winning the general, but getting 10% is very possible.

Why Be Scared of (Bringing Up) Social Security

Most of us in the progressive blogopshere have long been calling Democratic elected officials spineless cowards for failing to take progressive actions on things like abortion, gay rights, civil liberties and energy.

Why, then are we scared of taking progressive actions on social security?

Eliminating the cap makes basic progressive sense; there's little dispute on this issue (or there should be).

The main worry stated is that bringing up Social Security plays into the Republican's hands.

Those worried have forgotten what happened in 2005. The public didn't outright reject changes, and the public still thinks overwhelmingly that Social Security needs some changes (a poll from October this year by CBS [see Polling Report] revealed that 30% think it's in a crisis, 36% think it's in serious trouble, and 26% think it's in some trouble, with only 5% thinking it's in no trouble at all). That's a powerful mandate against doing nothing.

Instead, the public emphatically rejected the Republican proposal of privatization and started the sequence that sent their party from their strongest position in decades to their current weak, pathetic state.

And polls show that raising or eliminating the cap is the solution the public prefers.

Finally, we need a revenue increase.

So what is there to be afraid of?

Details on polls thanks to one of the best sites for polls, Polling Report:

Polling OrganizationDatePrivatization (Support/Oppose)Increase Cap (Support/OpposeRaise Tax Rate (Support/OpposeRaise Retirement Age (Support/Oppose)Slow Down Benefit Increase (Support/Oppose)
CBS/NY Times6/10/05-6/15/0545/5063/3041/5430/6759/35

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Stem Cell Breakthrough Proves Government Intervention Works

I have several reactions to the breakthrough allowing researchers the flexibility of embryonic stem cells without requiring the destruction of an embryo.

1. I'm glad that "embryonic" stem cell research will now get adequate funding (moderate but staunchly anti-choice Republican Chris Smith's bill to fund non-embryo-destroying stem cell research passed the House with "Dr." Ron Paul casting the lone NAY vote.
2. I'm disgusted that the Bush administration chose to hold up life-saving research for over 6 years.

However, there's another very important lesson that I don't expect the media to pick up on, if only because it's contrary to the interests of the media conglomerates which stand to be broken up if government intervention comes into vogue again.

Government intervention and restriction WILL spur innovation

While I heartily disapproved of the Bush administration's decision to prohibit funding for embryonic stem cell research, there's no denying that it spurred this innovation.

Scientists overwhelmingly believe that embryonic stem cells have the potential to save far more lives (and make more money) than adult or cord blood cells.

The federal government's refusal to fund embryo-destroying research created a powerful incentive to get around the restriction by creating "embryonic" stem cells without destroying embryos.

This government-provided incentive combined with American ingenuity resulted in this new technique.

This same principle applies to environmental and energy legislation.

Consider this new ad being run by Ford Motor Company.

Those are some pretty pitiful numbers for fuel efficiency. The market recognizes that gas prices are higher and that more people are caring about fuel efficiency numbers, but it's doing almost nothing to increase those numbers.

Automakers (including not just the Big Three, but Toyota as well) have lobbied Congress against increasing fuel efficiency standards, claiming, among other things, that it'll hurt their industry.

Conservatives have opposed strict carbon caps and elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels on the same grounds. They claim, again, that It's bad for business.

On the DC metro en route from Foggy Bottom to Union Station, I saw an ad sponsored by the National Resources Defense Council (I can't find it online, unfortunately). The ad advocated carbon caps and trading, making the claim that this intervention and restriction by the federal government would result in unprecedented innovation in efficiency and clean energy to meet these caps.

The stem cell breakthrough proves the NRDC's point in a way that should really hit home.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Give Harry Reid The Praise He's Due

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is once again the subject of criticism for spinelessness for what seems like a capitulation on war funding. This criticism is well-deserved.

However, Reid also deserves credit for his willingness to play hardball with President Bush when it comes to nominations and recess appointments.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said he would schedule "pro forma" sessions during the two-week break, even though lawmakers will be absent and no business will be conducted.

According to the Senate website, traditionally, a pro-forma session is "a brief meeting ... held usually to satisfy the constitutional obligation that neither chamber can adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other." When confronted with a non-traditional president like George W. Bush, it has another use.

Pursuant to Clause 2 of Section 2 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution, the president

by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for.

When the Senate is not in Session, Clause 3 of that section states that

[t]he President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies
that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall
expire at the End of their next Session

According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, the purpose of the power in this clause was "to allow the President to maintain the continuity of administrative government through the temporary filling of offices during periods when the Senate was not in session."

However, in recent times, Presidents have used recess appointments to confirm nominees who might be rejected if the Senate were to vote on them. George Bush has used the recess appointment for this purpose more than any other president, and for some of the extremely unqualified and controversial appointees.

Some of the worst:

The Bush administration made a decision (which they almost certainly regret) to inform Senator Reid that they'd be making some recess appointments during the Thanksgiving recess. However, in violation of long-standing tradition, Bush has totally ignored Democratic recommendations to such important agencies as "the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission."

Reid decided he wouldn't let the administration have their way this time. He's scheduling pro-forma sessions throughout the Thanksgiving break to keep the Bush administration from making any recess appointments.

For this, at least, he deserves praise.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Tyranny of the People's Republic of China.

First of all, I despise the name People's Republic of China. Calling the ruling party the Communist party doesn't make the country communist or even socialist, any more than my calling myself the "Duke of awesome" makes me royalty. They're fully neo-liberal or corporatist on the economic spectrum.

On the social spectrum, they're in line with Stalin, true, but also with Hitler and Pinochet-staunchly fascist.

The latest outrage is the Three Gorges Dam, detailed by the New York Times in their series on the problems posed by China's pollution. For an American like myself, this dam is a net positive. It's an alternative to building more coal power plants, and this dam does minimal global damage.

But for the Chinese people, it's severely damaging.

Last year, Chinese officials celebrated the completion of the Three Gorges Dam by releasing a list of 10 world records. As in: The Three Gorges is the world’s biggest dam, biggest power plant and biggest consumer of dirt, stone, concrete and steel. Ever. Even the project’s official tally of 1.13 million displaced people made the list as record No. 10.

As you can imagine, the Chinese people aren't that keen on getting displaced. Of course, they have riot police to quell resistance.

Resettlement remains a volatile issue. Two years ago, more than 100,000 people protested the Pubugou Dam project in Sichuan Province, until the riot police crushed the demonstration.

This is one advantage our political system clearly has on China. As much as our Congress loves pork, Congress would never willingly force 350,000+ Americans to relocate-we are, after all rebuilding New Orleans. Of course, by the same token, we'll never be able to store our nuclear waste anywhere-a solution might be to pay the Ukraine to make a sector of the Chernobyl region the world's nuclear waste dump; it's already uninhabitable, after all. And unlike us, they're not giving any sort of compensation or doing insurance reform (they may not have the hell of insurance yet in China)

Residents now are supposed to relocate to a new village site less than a mile away. But many people did not get enough compensation to pay for new housing. “We have three family members,” Ms. Han said. “We only have 10,000 yuan (about $1,300). With such a small amount of money, I can’t even build a first floor.”

Farther upstream, people in Jianmin Village are in the same predicament.

Around daybreak on June 22, Lu Youbing awoke to the screams of her brother-in-law and the sickening sensation of the earth collapsing. Her mountain farmhouse in Jianmin Village buckled as a landslide swept it downhill. In all, 20 homes were demolished. Five months later, Ms. Lu is living in a tent, fending off rats and wondering where her family can go.

“We have nothing left,” she said. “Not a single thing.”

At any rate, these are just some of the latest human rights abuses in China. And the U.S. continues to do nothing to pressure them; according to Senator Joe Biden, we could take action against them through the WTO. According to Representative Dennis Kucinich, we could modify our most-favored nation status with them and take action that way. But we haven't done so. We just don't value human rights enough.

The Problem with Hillary: On Openness

I've been cursed with a lack of ability to "read" people. I'm always wondering, "How does she feel about me?", "Is he offended by that remark?", "Is there a subliminal meaning behind that?" Those are the good days, though. Many days I'm left to stare blankly and think (or say) "Whaaaaaaaaaaaatttt?" or "I don't get it ......." (both of these remarks made my CTY class t-shirt in 2003, mostly thanks to me).

However, when it comes to politics, I'm in the same boat as everybody else. One of the primary goals for a politician has become to prevent anybody from finding out anything about you.

Consider, for instance, the job of the president's press secretary. Initially, this position was to facilitate the dispersal of information from the presidency to the American people at large, as the president was too busy to be constantly interviewed.

Today, this job requires someone with the ability to give non-answers to every conceivable non-softball question.

Scott McClellan was the master of this. He was able to give extremely long-winded non-answers to every non-softball question, and this usually satisfied our current excuse for a White House press corps.

Of course, members of Bush's cabinet have done the same thing, dancing around or simply "not recalling" things. Alberto Gonzales did this to such an extent that even Arlen Specter was getting furious, although he remained too cowardly to actually support taking any action.

Senator Clinton has been doing the same thing at the last few debates. Consider her answer to the driver's license question at the October debate.

Or consider her inability to recall Ross Perot, who ran against her husband twice.

The American people are more fed up with Washington now than they were when Perot got nearly 20% of the vote [and would've gotten more if people hadn't figured that he had no chance] than they've ever been before.

As Bill Richardson has put it

"The Congress today is at an 11 percent approval rating. You know what's higher than the Congress? Dick Cheney," he said. "The only entity that is less popular than Democrats is Republicans in Congress and the president."

No matter how progressive Hillary may be, this is a serious problem.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Why is Chris Dodd Voting With Lieberman on Iraq?

Chris Dodd's honeymoon with the netroots may be coming to an abrupt stop.

Consider his answer on the relative importance of human rights and national security.

BLITZER: What is more important, human rights or national security?

DODD: Obviously, national security, keeping the country safe. When you take the oath of office on January 20, you promise to do two things, and that is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and protect our country against enemies both foreign and domestic. The security of the country is number one, obviously.

Compare that to the answers of Edwards, Obama and Richardson.

EDWARDS: Well, I think, first of all, we have some basic goals that we need to be focused on with respect to Pakistan.

One is to make sure that the extremists in northwest Pakistan are under control; second that we provide support for the democratic reformers; third, as Senator Biden just spoke about, to make sure these elections take place in January; and, fourth, we need to make certain that the nuclear weapons are under control.

Now, this leads to a bigger questions. I think Pakistan is the living, breathing example that America's ad hoc policy of dealing with the spread of nuclear weapons, while it's absolutely required in today's world given what's happening with Iran, given what we see today in Pakistan and the incredible fragility of the administration in Pakistan and the presidents of an extraordinary extremist element within Pakistan.

But this is the living, breathing example of a policy that will not work over the long-term -- I'm about to finish. What we have to do, what America needs to do and what I will do, as president of the United States, is to lead a long-term international effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

OBAMA: The concepts are not contradictory, Wolf.

They are complementary. And I think Pakistan is a great example.

Look, we paid $10 billion over the last seven years and we had two goals: deal with terrorism and restore democracy.

And we've gotten neither.

And Joe and Bill are exactly right on this. Pakistan's democracy would strengthen our battle against extremists.

The more we see repression, the more there are no outlets for how people can express themselves and their aspirations, the worse off we're going to be, and the more anti-American sentiment there's going to be in the Middle East. We keep on making this mistake.

As president, I will do everything that is required to make sure that nuclear weapons don't fall into the hands of extremists, especially going after Al Qaida in the hills between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But we've got to understand that, if we simply prop up anti- democratic practices, that that feeds the sense that America is only concerned about us and that our fates are not tied to these other folks.

And that's going to make us less safe.

Yes because I believe we need to find ways to say to the world that, you know, it's not just about what Halliburton wants in Iraq. It's also about our values of freedom, equality. Our strength is not just military and economic.
Our strength as a nation is our values: equality, freedom, democracy, human rights.

But this pales in comparison to his vote against cloture on the Iraq withdrawal bill this morning.

My good friend andgarden noted Wednesday night that 231 House members voted to reject a motion to give Bush a no-strings bill

As Kagro X often explains, there is a split between those who believe that motions to recommit are purely procedural and those who believe that they carry all of the meaning of a proper amendment. In this Congress, they have mostly been given the latter meaning.

In that context, the vote on the motion to recommit on tonight's Iraq supplemental funding appropriation seems especially important to me. 223 Democrats voted no on that motion, which would have given the President $50B, no questions asked. They were joined by 8 Republicans.

To me it seems obvious that the President could be in dangerous territory: the House could actually have the votes to defeat ANY clean funding bill. We might, against all odds and predictions, actually be able to end the war during this Congress.

The bill passed the House 218-203, with 15 Democrats voting no; these were a combination of Bush Dogs and Kucinich purity trolls.

This morning, the United States Senate rejected a cloture motion on this Iraq withdrawal bill

Every Democratic presidential candidate was in attendance. Trent Lott and John McCain were absent.

48 Democrats and Bernie Sanders voted for cloture, as did Hagel, Smith and the 2 Senators from Maine.

Every other Republican, Joe Lieberman, and Chris Dodd, voted NAY.

There are three possible explanations for Dodd's vote:

  • It was a mistake

  • He's decided to become a Kucinich purity troll

  • He's decided to change his mind on Iraq.

Or there may be something I'm overlooking.

Whatever it was that caused him to vote against cloture, Chris Dodd owes us an explanation.