Friday, November 30, 2007

How about an Obama - Bloomberg Ticket?

Marc Ambinder is reporting Barack Obama met with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for breakfast this morning.

Sen. Barack Obama will set vice presidential speculation on fire with a brief stop to say hello to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, himself an occasional presidential flirt. The meeting appeared on Bloomberg's schedule, which was distributed to reporters last night.

An Obama aide said the meeting was scheduled because of "mutual interest" and did not know whether the two had met before.

You hear rumors all the time about possible Clinton Vice Presidential candidates, such as Wesley Clark, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, but this is the first name mentioned as a possible VP candidate for Obama. I think the perfect VP candidate for Obama would be Richardson. However, Obama could tout his bipartisan approach by appointing someone like Bloomberg or Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA).

Huckabee Gets a Phone Call from God

Before Rudy was getting calls from one of his wives, Huckabee got a phone call from God.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Anti-Romney Ad

Here's an anti-Romney ad that shows his flip flopping on the abortion issue...

As Jon Stewart says about Mitt Romney while showing a pictures of John Kerry on the screen...

....a patrician flip-flopper from Massachusetts... good luck with that.

Ilegal Immigrants Don't Cause Problems in the Health Care System

A new study shows that illegal immigrants don't cause the problems we see in the health care system.

Illegal immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries are 50% less likely than U.S.-born Latinos to use hospital emergency rooms in California, according to a study published Monday in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

The cost of providing healthcare and other government services to illegal immigrants looms large in the national debate over immigration.

In Los Angeles County, much of the focus of that debate has been on hospital emergency rooms. Ten have closed in the last five years, citing losses from treating the uninsured, and those that remain open are notorious for backlogs.

By federal law, hospitals must treat every emergency, regardless of a person's insurance -- or immigration -- status. Illegal immigrants, who often work at jobs that don't offer health insurance, are commonly seen as driving both the closures and the crowding.

But the study found that while illegal immigrants are indeed less likely to be insured, they are also less likely to visit a doctor, clinic or emergency room.

"The current policy discourse that undocumented immigrants are a burden on the public because they overuse public resources is not borne out with data, for either primary care or emergency department care," said Alexander N. Ortega, an associate professor at UCLA's School of Public Health and the study's lead author. "In fact, they seem to be underutilizing the system, given their health needs."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Edwards Starts Online Petition About Taking Money From Lobbyists

John Edwards is taking his call to Americans not to vote for candidates that accept money from lobbyists on step further by starting an online petition.

Edwards is seeking 1 million signatures at the website America Belongs To US.

For too long, our political leaders in Washington have looked the other way as lobbyists and irresponsible corporations have fought against efforts to achieve real change in America. Enough is enough.

We need a president who will fight for the American people every day. We don't need a defender of political contributions from Washington lobbyists and irresponsible corporations. The truth is, America belongs to us.

Please sign the “America Belongs to Us” Pledge, and join together with Americans from all across the country who are taking a bold stand to make sure that our next president belongs to the people -- not the lobbyists.

Dodd Becomes 4th Candidate Eligible to Accept Public Financing

From the Washington Post...

The Federal Election Commission declared Democratic candidate Sen. Christopher Dodd eligible for federal matching funds today, making him the fourth candidate to qualify for public financing. Sen. John McCain was the first to become qualified in August, and since then Rep. Tom Tancredo and former senator John Edwards have both been declared eligible. One other Democratic candidate who may be pursuing matching funds is Sen. Joe Biden, who asked his supporters last week to "Double your impact!" by giving up to $250 that the campaign would presumably put toward its application for public financing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Drive a Hummer or Die

At first I thought this was another Tom Tancredo ad, but this Hummer ad is basically saying you need to drive a Hummer or you are going to die.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Still Undecided

I have seen all the candidates in person (Edwards 7 times, Obama 6, Biden 5, Dodd 4, Richardson 4, and Clinton 3), been to the Harkin Steak Fry and the Jefferson Jackson Dinner, read the candidates positions on the important issues, and seen all the TV ads.

Most every candidate has positives that interest me. I like the fact that Edwards is pushing the important issues (Health care, Fair Trade, etc). I am impressed with Dodd's leadership on protecting the constitution and standing up against domestic wiretapping, and he is excellent on education. Biden is extremely knowledgeable on foreign policy and I like his straight forward attitude. When I see Obama and talk to his supporters, I feel that I might just be missing out the movement of my generation. Out of all the candidates, when it comes to Iraq, I agree most with Richardson.

Now consistent readers of this blog can probably tell what candidate is the flavor of the week by who I am posting the most about. However, with less than 40 days to go until the Iowa caucuses, I have yet to commit fully to one candidate.

Chris Bowers at Open Left
writes about the reasons he is still undecided. While I don't agree with everything Bowers writes, his article sums up my feelings pretty well.

At the same time, when the nomination is decided, I don't think I will lament the loss of any of the six candidates who don't win. Even leaving specific issues aside, this is because, at some fundamental level, I don't really trust any of them. Biden has always struck me as someone who talks a good game, but mostly seems to enjoy having the spotlight on himself and gets little done policy-wise for progressives. Clinton seems to vote well, but I can't shake the feeling that on many issues she has her finger in the wind, and will turn to the right as soon as it is politically advantageous to do so. Where was Dodd on these big fights before he started running for President? Edwards has changed so much over the past ten years that I have to wonder how complete or how permanent his progressive transformation is. Kucinich seems self-aggrandizing, occasionally loopy, and uninterested in doing what it takes to change a national campaign. Obama doesn't seem to actually like the activists who are supporting him, and he strikes me as more of a technocrat than a progressive. Richardson has a serious gaffe problem, and also has a real libertarian streak on things like taxes and government spending. While I can see good things coming from any of them winning the nomination and the presidency, I can just as clearly see moments when I will feel betrayed by all of them.
Bowers go on to talk about two of his favorite candidates and how these candidate fail to stack up...
While I can see arguments for why one candidate would be better, or at least less worse than others, the only candidate I have really ever felt that way about was Howard Dean. Notably, I also felt that way about Russ Feingold, and worked quietly behind the scenes to support him during much of 2005 and 2006, but he didn't run. When it comes to both Dean and Feingold, there are issues on which we disagree. However, I never had the sense that supporting them and working hard for them would make me feel used. When I have disagreed with Dean or Feingold, I never felt that it was because either was fundamentally conservative in any way, that they were elitists, that they valued power more than treating their supporters and allies decently, or that they were following a politically expedient path instead of sticking to their guns. It always felt compatible, open, and honest. It felt like they would have my back. Even when they made mistakes, they would never do so for underhanded reasons or because of bad motives. Dean even sometimes reminded me of my father, I trusted him so much.

This post is a bit confessional, but I felt a need to say it nonetheless. Yesterday, when I was removed a four-year old Howard Dean sign from the back of my brother's car, I felt there had to be a good reason, apart from just policy, that was keeping me from making up my mind in the 2008 primary campaign. I think, in the end, it comes down to a question of trust. If I am going to really put myself on the line for a candidate, I have to trust that person even when I disagree with him or her. When it comes to the current crop of Democratic candidates, I just don't trust any of them strongly enough to volunteer for them during the primary. With only a few weeks to go, it is hard for me to see that change now.
I don't see myself being undecided up until the day of the caucus. However, I am no closer to deciding who to support now than I was back in March. I guess I will just wait and see how things play out the next few weeks.

Poll: Who Should Run in the 4th District?

I have a new poll up asking which Democrat should run in the 4th district. The poll opened up over the weekend and will run until December 11th. The choices are McKinley Bailey, Daryl Beall, Sue Dinsdale, Paul Fitzgerald, Lisa Heddens, Jack Kibbie, Mark Kuhn, and Mark Smith.

Earlier this month, I wrote about possible candidates in the 4th district to run against Tom Latham. Cyclone Conservative posted a response to my post yesterday. He said the Democrats don't have a candidate because Latham is such a good Representative. Not surprisingly, I disagree. I think a big reason is Iowa will be losing a House seat in 2012, so people don't want to leave a safe seat in Des Moines for a few years in DC.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Over this Thanksgiving holiday, while everyone is snacking on leftovers, I will be digging up some notes from events I attended the past year that never got posted. So stop back for some Thanksgiving Leftovers.

In October, I attended a lecture at Iowa State by John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. Perkins was on a book tour for his new book, The Secret History of the American Empire. He started off by saying he hopes that when we walk out of this room, we will be willing to do the right, pragmatic, and sensible things to make this a stable, peaceful, and peaceful world.

Perkins outlined how the United States created a global empire, not through the use of the military, but primarily through economics and without the public even being aware of it. He explained the process through which Economic Hit Man work. First, the United States identifies a 3rd World country that has a resource we want. Then Economic Hit Man arrange loans to the country through the World Bank or IMF. The money goes to US Companies to do the construction of the project and to a few rich people in the country. The majority of the people in the country get nothing. Then Economic Hit Man will go back and ask for favors from this country because the country owes a lot of money. The favors might be deals on oil, important votes in the UN, or to send troops to conflicts elsewhere in the world. If the Economic Hit Man fails, then the jackals from the CIA comes in to overthrow the government or assassinate the leader. If the jackals fail, then the military goes in.

In the 1970's, Perkins was an Economic Hit Man. He was recruited by the NSA, but worked for a private company. Perkins then tells the story of him being sent to the country of Seychelles, a small island off the coast of Africa, to see if their new leader France-Albert Rene was corruptible. Perkins says he was called off the job and later remembered watching the failed assassination attempt on the national news in 1981. 46 jackals, disguised as a rugby team, were caught in a firefight at the airport when one of their guns were discovered. The jackals hijacked an airplane and flew to South Africa. When they landed they gave themselves up, however, they knew the police that caught them. They were sentenced to prison, put in jail for 3 months, then quietly released. South Africa ended up paying Rene's government $3 million and Rene became our friend because he knew if he didn't then his days would be numbered.

Perkins left the company he was working for shortly after and stopped being an Economic Hit Man. He said he wrote the book because Americans didn't have any understanding of the reasons behind 9/11, about the causes of terrorism, and why we are really in Iraq.

Perkins then switched gears and began talking about what we need to do create a stable, sensible, peaceful world. He said we have reasons to be optimistic about the world we live in because we know in our hearts we need to do the right thing. He said if the United States is an global empire, then we must have an emperor, which is the corporatocracy, whose goal in life is to make windfall profits. The corporations have great power, but we, as consumers, have great power over them. We can use this power to transform the empire into a viable model.

We must use consumer demand to change the corporatocracy's goal from windfall profits to creating a stable, sensible, and peaceful future. No CEO wants Florida to go under water, terrorism, or polluted water. They all have kids and want them to have a quality life.
Perkins said this will be the easiest revolution ever because it is bloodless and the opponent, deep down in their hearts, is on our side, even if they don't realize it. He said, "we need to turn the intent of our economy around." He asked the audience to be conscience of where you purchase things and to donate to organizations you believe in. He ran through a list of examples of companies changing their habits to create a more stable, sensible, and peaceful world. These including cleaning up rivers, hiring more women and minorities, putting seat belts in cars, etc.

During the question and answer portion, Perkins was asked if corporate personhood should be revoked. Perkins said companies have the rights of individuals, but do not have the responsibilities of individuals. We want companies to have the responsibilities of individuals. To strengthen his point, Perkins said in World War II corporations paid 50% of the nation's taxes and in 2006 they paid just 8%.

When asked about government contractors and paid mercenaries in Iraq, Perkins told us we should ask candidates that are coming to Iowa what they are going to do change the country's economy from a militaristic one, to one that promotes a sensible, stable, and peaceful world.

Perkins concluded with a line from Shakespeare's King Lear...
The weight of this sad time we must obey; Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
He left repeating that he used throughout the speech...
Every single day do something that honors your passion and utilizes your talents to create a stable, sensible, and peaceful world.

Trade is a Big Issue in Iowa

The Wall Street Journal has a story, which was run on the front page of the Des Moines Register over the weekend, about trade being an important issue in Iowa.

Iowa's anxiety stems from a mix of factors, many of which are also at play in other Midwestern swing states. By many measures, the global economy has been good for the state. Boosted by the ethanol and biofuels craze and surging demand for crops and farm equipment world-wide, Iowa's exports are up 77% over the past four years versus 50% nationally. The state's unemployment rate hovers around 3.7%, below the national 4.6% average.

But the past couple of decades have seen a steady decline in once-prized factory jobs, from a high of 252,700 in 1999 to 231,000 today. Just this year, Iowa lost about 1,800 jobs when appliance-maker Maytag, now owned by Whirlpool Corp., shuttered its plant in its home town of Newton. (The jobs moved to Ohio, but foreign competition was a key reason Maytag was acquired by Whirlpool.) Wages haven't kept pace with inflation, and employers here, as elsewhere, have been paring health and retirement benefits.

Many Iowans blame their difficulties on global trade. A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll of Iowa Democrats conducted in September found that by 42% to 33% they favored a candidate who believes trade pacts hurt the U.S. economy over one who believes they benefit the economy; Republicans were evenly split at 39%. (The balance said they didn't know or hadn't a preference.)

Earlier this month, David Sirota wrote about John Edwards and Mike Huckabee that are campaigning on the issue of trade and are seeing results in Iowa from it.

What explains the unlikely rise of these two dark horses?

It's the populism, stupid.

Huckabee and Edwards are the only two major candidates staking their campaigns on an indictment of economic inequality, corporate power and corruption. As the latest Democracy Corps poll shows, these are the very societal ills angering a middle class whose real-life struggles with stagnant wages, layoffs, debt, foreclosures and health care costs chafe against a pop culture and political system that glorify fabulous affluence. The country, in short, seems ready to embrace Huey Long's "Share Our Wealth" ethos, and these two southerners are resurrecting the best of the famed Louisiana governor's legacy.

Just look at the stump speeches.

"The most important thing a president needs to do is to make it clear that we're not going to continue to see jobs shipped overseas, jobs that are lost by American workers, many in their 50s who, for 20 and 30 years, have worked to make a company rich and then watch as a CEO takes a $100 million bonus to jettison those American jobs somewhere else," Huckabee said at a recent Republican debate. "That's criminal — it's wrong."

Edwards presents arguably the boldest challenge to the political Establishment of any major presidential candidate in contemporary history. Proposing sweeping health care, tax, trade and labor law reform, he says the only way "people who are powerful in Washington" are "going to give away their power is if we take it away from them." The system, he says, is "controlled by big corporations, the lobbyists they hire to protect their bottom line and the politicians who curry their favor and carry their water."

Huckabee and Edwards benefit from facing icons of the very problems they attack.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Richardson Lays Out Plans on Iraq

Over this Thanksgiving holiday, while everyone is snacking on leftovers, I will be digging up some notes from events I attended the past year that never got posted. So stop back for some Thanksgiving Leftovers.

Two weeks ago Bill Richardson held a campaign event in Marshalltown. Nearly 150 people attended the event on a blistery fall evening. Richardson focused on caring and honoring our veterans and on his Iraq policy.

Richardson laid out 4 things he would do to honor and take better care for veterans. First, Richardson would introduce a Hero's health card that veterans can use anywhere. Second, he would provide life insurance to soldiers and paid leave for family members who are forced to care for an injured troop. Next, Richardson would guarantee funding for the VA. Finally, Richardson would give all veterans a 5% cut in their federal income taxes for the rest of their lives, an idea introduce by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA). The tax cut garnered support from a couple veterans during the question and answer portion.

Richardson then discussed what he would do in Iraq. He stressed that he would have all US troops out of Iraq in 1 year with no residual forces. He said he is not just saying it, he means it. A jab at other candidates who have been less clear on their Iraq plans. Richardson referenced a poll of Iraqi's that said 65% of Iraqi's believe that it is ok to shot an American soldier. He says that real peace can not begin in Iraq until all US troops are out.

Richardson said the Maliki Government won't change because they are in power and they won't change until they have to. Richardson said that we won't just leave the Iraqi's to fend for themselves. He would lead a diplomatic effort between the Sunni, Shia, and Kurds to set up a power agreement, with perhaps a soft partition. UN peacekeepers would be sent in from countries that are stakeholders in the region, like Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey. The there would be a US led donor conference with countries in the region to help fund Iraqi reconstruction because an unstable Iraq is not good for the region.

Richardson stressed his experience as a diplomat throughout the event. He even told a story of Saddam Hussein telling him a joke in the middle of negotiations for the release of some prisoners.

One of the best lines of the night was when Richardson said, "the US can't be the world's policeman, but we can be the world's conscience."

I agree the most with Richardson's views on Iraq. I believe our troops have accomplished their mission and it is time to bring them home because they are now fueling the violence and are stuck in a civil war. All the candidates talk about withdrawaling troops from Iraq and using diplomacy, but Richardson is the only one who talks about in this way and has firsthand experience in diplomatic efforts worldwide.

Huckabee: Don't Penalize Kids for Something They Can't Help

Mike Huckabee was asked to respond to other candidates saying he was soft on immigration.

"We penalize law-breakers. We don't penalize their children for something they can't help.

"If a child is gasping for air, asthmatic, and he's on the hospital steps, what do the other candidates suggest we do, let him sit there and gasp until he doesn't have any air left and he dies? If a child comes to our school -- and our law, by the way, in most of our states, mine certainly says you've got to educate a child if he's of child age -- what do you, break your own law and say, `No, you can't come in the schoolhouse door'?

"No, you don't do that. What you do is you elect a president who will fix the problem where it needs to be fixed: At the border. But if your government at the federal government is so incompetent that it fails to secure the border, you don't then grind your heel into the face of a 6-year-old child over it. That's not what this country does. We're a better country than that."

I absolutely agree with Huckabee on this. You can micromanage immigration and pass laws restricting what immigrants do, but if you don't solve the problem you will always have a problem. Let's focus on solving the problem of immigration instead of trying to criminalize everything immigrants do.

Unlike Huckabee, I believe you fix the problem, not at the border, but with employers. As Obama said at the debate in Las Vegas, "they're not coming here to go to the In-N-Out Burger." They come here for work and we solve the problem if we crack down on employers who hire undocumented workers.

Friday, November 23, 2007

What Would Jesus Buy This Christmas?

Rev. Billy is pretty darn funny and makes an important point that Americans spend a lot of money on crap and stuff we don't really need. I wonder what what the right-wingers think of him.

Results of the November Common Iowan Straw Poll

The voting for the November Common Iowa Straw Poll ended earlier this week. A record 684 voters were cast.

Here are the results (September results in parenthesis)...

Chris Dodd 23% (45%)
Joe Biden 19% (2%)
Barack Obama 19% (11%)
John Edwards 17% (30%)
Dennis Kucinich 11% (1%)
Bill Richardson 4% (11%)
Hillary Clinton 3% (2%)

The results don't mean much, except to give a little insight on how strong a candidates support is online. Last month's winners (Dodd, Edwards, and Richardson) weren't nearly as strong this month. While Biden, Obama, and Kucinich increased their numbers. I did track visitors coming from Biden's and Obama's campaign blog, while some Dodd supporters came via Facebook.

I will post a new poll right before the caucuses.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stop the Falsiness

This isn't new, but I saw it for the first time last night.

Vilsack Says Clinton was the Face of the Administration on Foreign Affairs

Tom Vilsack made some interesting comments while being interviewed on MSNBC, saying Hillary Clinton "was the face of the administration in foreign affairs."

From the Washington Post...

But Vilsack -- who dropped out of the race early on and is now rumored by many to be seeking a slot alongside Clinton if she wins the nomination -- took it a questionable step further.

"There is no question she was the face of the administration in foreign affairs," Vilsack said.

Really? Hillary Clinton was the face of the Clinton administration in foreign affairs? More than, say, the secretary of state? Or his vice president? Or his, um, ambassador to the United Nations?

Au contraire, said New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who served in the last of those jobs - -and is now seeking the presidency himself.

"Gov. Vilsack's enthusiasm for his candidate has clouded his judgment," Richardson spokesman Tom Reynolds said on Tuesday night. "Considering that Gov. Bill Richardson served as a Special Envoy and US Ambassador to the United Nations under President Clinton, we take some exception to this opinion. I also think Madeline Albright might disagree too." No word yet from former Pres. Clinton, who was known to conduct some foreign policy himself from time to time

These comments seem pretty ridiculous and it has seemed to offend Richardson, who has been telling people to focus on a positive campaign.

Maybe Vilsack wanted to get his name out there since Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Gen. Wesley Clark have been making the round for Clinton in Iowa lately.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Soldiers Must Pay Up

This is so amazingly wrong...

The U.S. Military is demanding that thousands of wounded service personnel give back signing bonuses because they are unable to serve out their commitments.

To get people to sign up, the military gives enlistment bonuses up to $30,000 in some cases.

Now men and women who have lost arms, legs, eyesight, hearing and can no longer serve are being ordered to pay some of that money back.

America At Its Best: That's Progressive

From the Center for American Progress...

Fundraising in Iowa Senate District 22

On Saturday, I attended a trivia night fundraiser for Steve Sodders, a candidate for Iowa Senate in District 22 (Marshall and Hardin Counties). The seat is currently held by Republican Larry McKibben and is being targeted by Democrats. McKibben defeated Wayne Sawtelle in 2004 by less than 800 votes. Over $425,000 was raised for the race by the two candidates.

The trivia night consisted of 6 teams, with 10 people on each team, and lasted 10 rounds with 10 questions each round. Though my team didn't win (we didn't get last either) we all had fun and over $1,000 was raised.

Back in early October, Sodders told me that they had surpassed their fundraising goal for the year already. Since then, Sodders has held two fundraisers in the district, one attended by Gov. Culver, and has knocked on doors in almost all of the rural towns in the district.

Huckabee's Ad with Chuck Norris

Mike Huckabee's ad that features Chuck Norris drew some chuckles, however, it was a horrible way to introduce himself to Iowa voters. I usually like humorous ads, but this was not a good way to introduce himself to Iowa voters. Huckabee is moving up in the polls and he needed to run a more serious ad that would convince Iowans to take him more seriously.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Government is Not the Solution; Government is the Problem

Kos has an opinion piece in Newsweek that takes a look at the Republicans failed governing philosophy.

In his first Inaugural Address, Ronald Reagan remarked that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." While the quip has provided Republicans with a cheap slogan for two decades, the philosophy behind it is beginning to box them in. If they govern effectively, they invalidate their own antigovernment ideology. And when you elect people who believe that government won't work, you shouldn't be surprised when government stops working [...]

Democrats should and will use Bush and his destructive policies on the campaign trail as the primary example of what happens when people who hate government are elected to run it. The message will be that Bush isn't a historical anomaly: he's the embodiment of modern conservatism.

If Americans want willfully ineffective government, they'll have a Republican Party desperate for their votes. But with 70 percent of the American people thinking the nation is on the wrong track, it's clear they expect the opposite. As long as Democrats make that contrast clear—and Bush's record will be integral to that argument—they should be headed for victory in 2008.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It's a Three-Way Race in Iowa, Even if the Media Doesn't Want it to Be

I watched Iowa Press on IPTV this morning and was surprised about how easy the talking heads, David Yepsen, Mike Glover, O Kay Henderson, and Jeneane Beck, fell for the line the mainstream media is trying to peddle, that it is a race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

However, when discussing these campaigns the talking heads stressed the importance for Clinton to get woman out to the caucuses and for Obama to get young people out to the caucuses and questioned if these campaigns will be able accomplish that. Yepsen added that Clinton's campaign has been sloppy the past few weeks.

The talking heads then blew off John Edwards' chances to win the Iowa Caucuses. They all said Edwards sounds too angry, is too wishy-washy on the issues, and Yepsen even said that Richardson has a shot pass Edwards for 3rd place. None of the talking heads even gave Edwards a chance to be in the top 2.

I agree with Iowa Independent's Chase Martyn, who ranked John Edwards first in his Democratic Power Rankings.

Edwards started about a year ago with the best organization in Iowa, and most of the foundation he built here is still in place. Although concerns persist that his sharpening rhetoric may be alienating a few of his earliest supporters, his solid performance at the Jefferson Jackson dinner, his endorsement from Caucus 4 Priorities (and the potential 10,000 caucus-goers it could bring him), and his ongoing commitment to retail politicking keep him in the top spot -- for now.
A Zogby poll earlier this month, showed Edwards wins the most support when you calculate people's second choices. Edwards has spent the least amount of money on ads in Iowa. Jerome Armstrong from MyDD points out...
On the Democratic side, for every 1 ad that Edwards has run, Obama has ran 9, and Clinton has ran 5, and yet, when you look at who regularly attends the caucuses, John Edwards has the lead; and even among those polled is right there in the mix. I think given Obama's huge spend at this date, he's probably reached his ceiling of support in the state. The other candidate thats already blown his wad in Iowa is Richardson, who got a bump off of it, but hasn't been able to keep growing his numbers. And it looks like, if Biden can get the money, that he's going to see some upward movement. And if I were to guess at whose expense a Biden bump would be, it'd be Clinton & Richardson I'd choose.
The point Yepsen, Glover, Henderson, and Beck missed is that Clinton and Obama's support is not as strong as the polls in Iowa show and that Edwards' poll number are more firm.

Now, I am not saying that John Edwards has Iowa locked up, but that it is a three way race in Iowa, even if the media wants to make battle between Clinton and Obama.

Immigration Con Artists

David Sirota takes a look at the cause of illegal immigration in his latest column...

Republicans like Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.) are demanding the government cut off public services for undocumented workers, build a barrier at the Mexican border and force employers to verify employees' immigration status. Democrats like Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) are urging their allies to either embrace a punitive message aimed at illegal immigrants, or avoid the immigration issue altogether. And nobody asks the taboo question: What is illegal immigration actually about?

The answer is exploitation. Employers looking to maximize profits want an economically desperate, politically disenfranchised population that will accept ever worse pay and working conditions. Illegal immigrants perfectly fit the bill.

Politicians know exploitation fuels illegal immigration. But they refuse to confront it because doing so would mean challenging their financiers.

Instead we get lawmakers chest-thumping about immigration enforcement while avoiding a discussion about strengthening wage and workplace safety enforcement — proposals that address the real problem.

Equally deplorable, these same lawmakers keep supporting trade policies that make things worse. Just last week, both Emanuel and Tancredo voted to expand NAFTA into the Southern Hemisphere. This is the same trade model that not only decimated American jobs and wages, but also increased illegal immigration by driving millions of Mexican farmers off their land, into poverty and ultimately over our southern border in search of subsistence work.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Clinton Laughs About NAFTA

This video is from David Sirota and highlights Clinton talking about NAFTA at Thursday debate in Las Vegas.

It's About Time

From Yahoo...

Sen. John Kerry, whose 2004 presidential campaign was torpedoed by critics of his Vietnam War record, said Friday he has personally accepted a Texas oilman's offer to pay $1 million to anyone who can disprove even a single charge of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

In a letter to T. Boone Pickens, the Massachusetts Democrat wrote: "While I am prepared to show they lied on allegation after allegation, you have generously offered to pay one million dollars for just one thing that can be proven false. I am prepared to prove the lie beyond any reasonable doubt."

Kerry, a Navy veteran and former prosecutor, said he was willing to present his case directly to Pickens, who provided $3 million to bankroll the group during Kerry's race against President Bush.

Kerry said he would donate any proceeds to the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Patriot Tax on Gasoline

I am not a huge fan of Thomas Friedman, but he has a pretty interesting idea in his latest column.

In the wake of 9/11, some of us pleaded for a “patriot tax” on gasoline of $1 or more a gallon to diminish the transfers of wealth we were making to the very countries who were indirectly financing the ideologies of intolerance that were killing Americans and in order to spur innovation in energy efficiency by U.S. manufacturers...You’d think that one person, just one, running for Congress or the Senate would take a flier and say: “Oh, what the heck. I’m going to lose anyway. Why not tell the truth? I’ll support a gasoline tax.”...

I can’t believe that someone could not win the following debate:

REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: “My Democratic opponent, true to form, wants to raise your taxes. Yes, now he wants to raise your taxes at the gasoline pump by $1 a gallon. Another tax-and-spend liberal who wants to get into your pocket.”

DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: “Yes, my opponent is right. I do favor a gasoline tax phased in over 12 months. But let’s get one thing straight: My opponent and I are both for a tax. I just prefer that my taxes go to the U.S. Treasury, and he’s ready to see his go to the Russian, Venezuelan, Saudi and Iranian treasuries. His tax finances people who hate us. Mine would offset some of our payroll taxes, pay down our deficit, strengthen our dollar, stimulate energy efficiency and shore up Social Security. It’s called win-win-win-win-win for America. My opponent’s strategy is sit back, let the market work and watch America lose-lose-lose-lose-lose.” If you can’t win that debate, you don’t belong in politics.
h/t to Popular Progressive.

Did Obama Win the UAW's Endorsement?

Did Obama win the UAW endorsement? Well, yes and no.

From Marc Aminder...

(0) Sen. Barack Obama won a straw poll of UAW Region 4 locals. Region 4 includes Iowa.

(1) 48% of the voting members of UAW's Region 4 came from Illinois. Barack Obama comes from Illinois.

(2) 22% of the voting members come from Iowa. It turns out that, in today's straw balloting, John Edwards won twice as many Iowa locals as Obama did.

But the strength of Obama in Illinois overwhelmed Edwards (and Clinton).

(3) What happened today in Dubuque was not an official endorsement -- it was a recommendation to endorse -- the UAW technically hasn't given its regional council permission to endorse.

(4) Obama probably will get the UAW endorsement in Iowa... and it's certainly a helpful endorsement.... but it should not be treated as a surprise... nor should it technically be treated as an endorsement just yet.

It is looking like the Iowa delegates from the UAW will be split between Edwards and Obama, even if Obama officially wins the endorsement.

You have to remember that Gephardt won the UAW's endorsement in 2004 and that didn't help him much. On the flip side, many think it was the UAW's endorsement that carried Chet Culver to victory in 2006.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Should We Spend $240 Million for Prison Upgrades?

From the Des Moines Register...

A committee of the Iowa Legislature has proposed nearly $240 million in prison construction, including a new maximum-security facility at Fort Madison and expansions of the Mitchellville and Newton prisons.

The State Prison System Study Committee voted 7-2 Wednesday to send the recommendations to the full Iowa Legislature, which convenes in January. Lawmakers said they would finance the projects by issuing bonds that would be repaid over a period of years.
I understand that the prison in Ft. Madison is ancient and facilities need to be upgraded. However, that is not the main reason that is being given.
Sen. Eugene Fraise, a Fort Madison Democrat who is co-chairman of the panel, said lawmakers have no choice but to approve the construction because of prison overcrowding and projections for future growth of Iowa's inmate population.
Instead of building more prisons to house more inmates, I wonder how the $240 million could be used on programs that help prevent people from becoming inmates in the first place. As a teacher, I see children everyday who have the deck stacked against them. They face so many hurdles in life at such a young age that it will be difficult for them to become successful adults. What can we do help these children overcome some of these hurdles?

In the last legislative session preschool was expanded to all 4 year olds in Iowa for a mere $15 million for 3 years and teacher's salaries were raised by $70 million. That is $85 million on improving education and would leave $155 million of the $240 million left. We could take half of that and put it towards improving the facilities at our prisons because there are some criminals that definitely need to be locked up. That would leave over $75 million that could spent on helping people get out of poverty, for substance abuse counseling, and for improving education.

A few years ago, there was a little girl in my class. She was intelligent and everyone's friend. That year her mother stole a car and went to jail on theft and drug charges. I talked to a veteran teacher about this situation and it happened that this teacher had the mother in class back when the mother was in third grade. The teacher said that she could have guessed the mother would be in jail way back when the mother was 8 years old. What can we do help the little girl that was in my class reach her potential?

It sounds pretty certain the $240 million will be spent. Should we spend it all on a new prison or should we spend it on a combination of programs and upgrades to facilities?

We must think about what our priorities are. Do we believe more people should be locked up or do we believe that we should do everything we can to make sure people have a chance to succeed in life and try to prevent people from becoming criminals in the first place?

Problems with Polling Iowa Caucus Goers

This article from Jay Cost at Real Clear Politics explains why it is hard to find accurate polls of Iowa caucus goers...

A poll of Iowa Democratic caucus goers does not really mimic the process in which they participate. In a general election - you go into a voting booth, select your first choice, leave the booth, and drop the ballot in the box. And so, a poll that asks you for your first choice and then moves on to other questions does a reasonably good job of mimicking the act of voting.

However, this is not the experience of Democratic caucus goers. Iowa Democrats begin by standing in an area designated for their first choice candidate. Then, for thirty minutes, they either persuade or are persuaded by others to switch their choices. At the end of the half hour, electioneering is halted and caucus officials count the number of supporters that each candidate has. Candidates who have less than 15% or 25% are deemed not to be viable. And so, another thirty minutes for electioneering is once again granted. The supporters of nonviable candidates must find new candidates to support, team up with supporters of other nonviable candidates to make their candidate viable, or abstain.

The longtime Iowa voter probably knew this already, but the article goes much more in depth and worth looking over.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Apollo's Fire

Apollo's Fire is a new book out that discusses the economic impact of going green will have on the United States.

Culver's Jefferson Jackson Speech

Considering this is an Iowa blog, I thought I should mention some things about Chet Culver's speech at the Jefferson Jackson dinner.

I thought Culver gave a very good speech. It wasn't on par with the speeches later in the night, but no one expected him to be that good. Culver used Eleanor Roosevelt's quote about the future belonging to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

Culver tied all the accomplishments from his first year in office to the dreams of Iowans. He mentioned raising the minimum wage, increasing teacher pay, lifting the ban on stem cell research, expanding health care to children.

However, when he talked about expanding health care to children, Culver missed an opportunity to use the bully pulpit to talk about expanding SCHIP. I would have liked to have heard Culver mention Bush's veto of SCHIP and how an extension to SCHIP affects Iowa's children.

Excellant Question?

You've got to be kidding me?

John McCain is asked at a campaign stop in South Carolina, "How do we beat the bitch?"

McCain laughs it off and says it was an excellent question before saying he respects Sen. Clinton.

If McCain truly respected Sen. Clinton, he would forcefully said that and insisted that everyone else show her, a US Senator, the same respect. This shows McCain is past his prime. The fact this isn't all over the news shows that he truly is not a top candidate.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Edwards New TV Ad About Health Care

John Edwards has a new TV ad (which I just saw on TV as I was writing this post) about his plan to take away members of Congress health care away if they fail to pass universal health care.

Edwards says...

But if you don’t pass universal health care by July of 2009, in six months, I’m going to use my power as president to take your health care away from you.

Matt Stoller at Open Left wonders if this message will resonate with voters.
96 percent of voters in 2006 had insurance. It is one of strongest predictors of turnout.

In other words, it doesn't matter if this ad resonates among the uninsured, because the uninsured tend not to vote. That may change with the increase in youth voter and single women voting registration efforts, but these efforts are unlikely to impact the Iowa caucuses.

Will this ad resonate among Iowa caucus-goers themselves? It's hard to say. Universal health care is something Democrats believe in as a matter of principle, but a whiter, older, married population of caucus goers is unlikely to take the issue itself into account when choosing their candidate. The goal, of course, is to tell a story about what kind of President Edwards will be, to draw out a character issue and say that Edwards is with the dispossessed rather than the elite.

Out of all the candidate's speeches, this line from Edwards drew the most applause at Saturday's Jefferson Jackson dinner in Des Moines. The audience at the Jefferson Jackson dinner was a white, older, married population of caucus goers and they loved the message.

Who should run in the 4th District?

Last month, Selden Spencer surprised many when he announced that he would not run again in Iowa's 4th district. That left Democrats searching for a candidate to unseat Rep. Tom Latham, who votes with President Bush nearly 90% of the time. I know party leaders have been asking different people about a possible run, but with no luck.

William Myers from Humboldt is an Iraq Vet who is considering a run, but he is virtually an unknown among Democratic activists in the district. Also, I have rumors that Kevin Miskell, who is Vice President of the Iowa Farmer's Union, is considering a run.

I thought I would rank the possible candidates that could run in the 4th district. My criteria are experience and location within the district. One problem with Spencer's campaign was it was very Ames (Story Co. ) centered. The size of the district (28 counties) means the candidates must do well in Ft. Dodge (Webster Co.) and Mason City (Cerro Gordo Co.) and not just Story County to win. The candidate also needs a hook that would make them credible with rural voters.

Here are my rankings of possible candidates to run against Latham in Iowa's 4th District...

1. Daryl Beall- State Senator from Ft. Dodge. Would help win Webster County and probably has better name recognition throughout the northern parts of the district. Not up for reelection in 2008.

2. Jack Kibbie - One reason Democrats might be having a hard time recruiting a candidate is because it is the expected the 4th district will be redistricted out when Iowa loses a House seat in 2012. Running for Congress could cap off a long political career for Kibbie, who first served in the Iowa House in the 1960's and then later ran for the Iowa Senate in 1988. Kibbie currently is the Senate President and is up for reelection in 2008.

3. McKinley Bailey - Bailey was elected to the Iowa House in 2006 and is only 26 years old. However, his experience serving in Iraq would instantly make him credible on the top issue in the campaign. Bailey represents Webster County, an area Democrats must win to beat Latham.

4. Lisa Heddens - Heddens is currently an assistant Majority Leader in the Iowa House, where she has served since 2002. Iowa has never elected a woman to Congress or as Governor and Heddens would be a strong opponent. She is from Ames and would need to campaign hard in northern Iowa. If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and there is a large turnout among woman, Heddens could win.

5. Story County Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald - Fitzgerald's brother, Michael, is the State Treasurer. Since he is up for reelection as County Sheriff, he'd be a longshot to run.


  • State Rep. Mark Kuhn of Charles City
  • State Rep. Mark Smith of Marshalltown
  • State Sen. Amanda Ragan of Mason City
  • State Rep. Marcella Frevert of Emmetsburg
  • activist Sue Dinsdale
  • John Norris, who ran against Latham in 2002
  • A young activist from the Ames area - There are many from the area who have worked on campaigns the past few years that could step into the race.
Please chime in with your thoughts.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ranking the Speeches at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner

I posted this on Daily Kos yesterday and meant to post it here, but didn't get around to it.

Here are my final rankings of the speeches at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner...

1. Barack Obama - This was the 5th time seeing Obama in person and he gave the most passionate, strongest speech I have heard. Most in attendance would say he was one of the best and the press, including David Yepsen, declared him the winner too.

2. John Edwards - Led off the night with a riproaring speech that fired up the crowd. However, he was probably hurt by going first on a long night of speeches. He didn't get the media bump, but the 9,000 likely caucus goers left impressed with Edwards. I put it right up there with his speech at his campaign announcement in Des Moines back in December.

3. Hillary Clinton - It seemed like a great general election speech. Some have said her new theme "turn up the heat" and exchange with the crowd seemed to rehearsed and robotic. I didn't get that feeling the first time I heard it. She mentioned the support she is getting from red state politicians like Sen. Evan Bayh and Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, but no mention of the Vilsacks.

4. Joe Biden - Biden's best part of his speech was when he said he can't wait to debate Republicans on values. Something probably everyone in the audience wants to see happen. Biden showed his experience by talking about Pakistan and the need for bipartisan support. In the end, Biden came back to Iraq showing everyone that he is one of the most qualifed to lead on foreign policy. However, I get the feeling Democrats badly want this election to be about more than just Iraq and I am afraid Biden can't give that to them.

5. Bill Richardson - Was in a tough situation of following Edwards. Richardson's best moment came when he said he would have all the troops out of Iraq by 2013 and the top candidates aren't sure if they can get that done by 2013. Richardson's support unfurled a banner that read "2013?" to strengthen his point. Drew applause from the audience and from Clinton, when he said Democrats need to keep the campaign positive and discuss the issues.

6. Chris Dodd - Dodd speech just seemed flat. I am not sure if was his spot in the order. He came right in the middle and pretty much everything he said was already mentioned by Edwards, Richardson, or Biden. Or it could have been him following Boswell's auction. Dodd talked about restoring the Constitution, which is mightily important, but seemed to focus on it too long. To top it off, all of Dodd's supporters were in yellow t-shirts, but they seemed to just blend with all of the Clinton supporters wearing yellow shirts also.

Before it's too Late

Tom Tancredo's new TV ad on the air in Iowa is just plain scary.

Before it's too late, I take back everything nice I said back in April. This guy is a wackjob.

Does Hillary Think Iowans Are Stupid?

David Sirota thinks she does...

Hillary Clinton thinks Iowans are stupid - very stupid. Here's what I'm talking about.


"Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton says she wants to take a close look at foreign trade deals. She says she'll call a 'time out' on trade agreement if she wins the White House to see if the deals are draining jobs from the U.S.Clinton, who spoke to a regional conference of the United Auto Workers in Dubuque today, says she'll do everything she can to 'move toward smart trade.'" - Associated Press, 11/12/07


"Clinton Says Yes to Peru Deal...Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, after prodding from a rival campaign, has issued positions on several trade deals currently before Congress, including her support for an agreement with Peru that is dividing her party." - New York Times, 11/8/07

As I said, Hillary Clinton clearly thinks Iowans are stupid. In this special edition of Strategery, I would suggest that treating voters like they are stupid is not a good strategy.

Another example of double talk from Clinton that Edwards mentioned during the last debate.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Video of Obama's Speech at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner

Obama was the final speaker of the night at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner. When his name was mentioned, the crowd went wild. Obama probably had the most supporters in the crowd.

Obama strayed away from the traditional intro music and instead played the Chicago Bulls intro music. Obama began by going through some of the Republican failures and said come election day we need ask what's next. Said we can't be the party of triangulation and had this great quote...

This party of Jefferson, Jackson, Roosevelt, and Kennedy has made the biggest difference when we lead not by polls, but by principle.
Obama says he is running to offer change American can believe in. Said he has done more than any candidate to take on lobbyists and lobbyists won't drown out the voice of average Americans. He is tired of Democrats thinking the only way to look tough on national security is to talk and vote like George Bush Republicans. On Iraq, he said as President he will have our troops home in 16 months. America, our moment is now.
I don't want to spend the next 3 or 4 years refighting the fights of the 1990's. I don't want to pit Red state vs Blue State, I want to be President of the United States of America.
Obama said we can make this election about the future and not about fear and not only will that be a Democratic victory, but an American victory.

This was the 5th time I have seen Obama speak and this was the most fired up, strong, and most passionate speech he has given. His speech was clearly the best of the night.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Video of Edwards Speech at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner

Edwards was the first speaker at Saturday's Jefferson Jackson Dinner gave a great speech that gave the Democratic base a lot to cheer for. Edwards began by saying that Democrats need to stand strong and have a backbone and then went through things Democrats need to stand up for.

We do not believe in allowing lobbyists to write the laws of the United States of America, and we do not believe that we are above the law. What we believe is we believe in the promise of America for every American.
The body of Edwards speech focused on health care. He garnered huge applause when he said that if Congress doesn't pass universal health care by July 2009 then he will use his power as President and take health care coverage away from the Congress, Cabinet members, and members of his administration. Edwards gave a great speech and was getting applause from all over the auditorium. He will be tough to follow.

2007 Jefferson Jackson Dinner Liveblog

Here are some notes I jotted down from the 2007 Jefferson Jackson Dinner.

Lt. Governor Patty Judge said we are building a bio-based economy here in Iowa. I wonder how 2 new coal-fired powered plants fit into that.

Governor Chet Culver outlines the accomplishments that were made during the last year including raising the minimum wage, increasing teacher pay, lifting the ban on stem cell research, expanding health care to children. Culver said in Iowa our dreams do come true.

Now onto the Presidential candidates.

John Edwards is up and gives a great speech that gave the Democratic base a lot to cheer for. Edwards begins by saying that Democrats need to stand strong and have a backbone and then goes through things Democrats need to stand up for.

We do not believe in allowing lobbyists to write the laws of the United States of America, and we do not believe that we are above the law. What we believe is we believe in the promise of America for every American.
The body of Edwards speech focused on health care. He garnered huge applause when he said that if Congress doesn't pass universal health care by July 2009 then he will use his power as President and take health care coverage away from the Congress, Cabinet members, and members of his administration. Edwards gave a great speech and was getting applause from all over the auditorium. He will be tough to follow.

Bill Richardson thanks the Democratic activists and caucus goers for showing how a strong democracy works. Richardson says Iraq is the number one issue and he is the only candidate here that says all the troops will be out in one year. He thanks Iowans for being so welcoming and for cheering on the underdog. He says it is important that Democrats don't tear each other down and keep a positive campaign.

Joe Biden is up next and begins by saying he owes Rudy Giuliani an apology. He said in the last debate that the only things Rudy says in a sentence is a noun, a verb, and 9/11. However, after Pat Robertson endorsed Rudy, he now adds an amen in there. Biden theme is that we need to level with the American people. To accomplish anything we need more than a 51% majority, we need to establish a consensus to solve education, health care, and global warming. Says in the last debate everyone talked about Iran, but he talked about Pakistan. These problems all relate to one another and as long as we are in Iraq, no other country will follow our leadership in other hotspots in the world. Biden says he can't wait to debate Republicans on values. Asks what is a more important value, insuring every child in America or giving more tax cuts to the wealthy. Says the Democratic Party will be judged harshly if they are unable to bring the nation together and the world together. Has a great line, "don't tell them what they want to hear, tell them what they need to know."

Taking an intermission from the Presidential candidates by letting Iowa's delegation in the House speak. Boswell then shows off some mad auctioneering skills as they auction off a signed donkey and Nancy Pelosi's scarf, which goes for $6,000.

Some of the supporters from the first 3 candidates have left. The Richardson section is nearly empty.

Back to the Presidential Candidates. Chris Dodd's turn. Dodd leads off with some jokes that seem to fall flat. Says the first thing he will do is protect the constitution. On the very first hour on the very first day as President, he will restore the constitution. Adds in there something about retroactive immunity to telecom companies. Says he will have all of our troops out of Iraq by 2013 and that he saw the banners up in the balcony. Says there shouldn't any candidate up here tonight who doesn't get our troops out of Iraq by 2013. He discusses electability, which draws some cheers and boos among the crowd. He says to solve our problems we need a candidate that can work together with Republicans. Finishes with the theme that Chris Dodd will get the job done on universal health care, education, and winning the White House.

Before the main attractions of Hillary and Barack, Sen. Tom Harkin's will be speaking. Harkin focuses on stem cell research and the Farm Bill. Says he is happy to be a Progressive voice for Iowa and lead Iowa on a Progressive agenda. Harkin clearly has plenty of fire left in him and is on his way to be re-elected to his 5th term.

Clinton's up now. Looking at all the signs her supporters are holding up, her theme for the night is 'turn up the heat." Clinton is hitting on the experience theme by saying change is just a word if you don't have the strength and experience to make it happen.
We must nominate a nominee who has been tested and elect a president who is ready to lead on day one.
She is discussing her background and says she is glad to have fought for healthcare and this time around she will finally get health care for every American. Says there are some who say they are unsure where she stands. She stands in the same place she has stood for 35 years where she has fought for children. Clinton says we need to attack the problems we face and we need to turn up the heat on the Republicans.

Clinton's speech is very good and sounded very much like a general election speech that brings people together. She discusses her support from elected leaders in red states and includes possible VP candidate Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana and Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio, who is in the audience. I wonder what Tom Vilsack thinks about that.

Obama is the final speaker of the night. When his name is mentioned, the crowd goes wild. Obama probably has the most supporters in the crowd. Obama strays away from the traditional intro music and instead plays the Chicago Bulls intro music. Obama begins by going through some of the Republican failures and says come election day we need ask what's next. Says we can't be the party of triangulation and comes out with this great quote...
This party of Jefferson and Jackson, of Roosevelt and Kennedy has made the biggest difference in the lives of the American people when we lead not by polls, but by principle.
Obama is running to offer change American can believe in. Says he has done more than any candidate to take on lobbyists. Says lobbyists won't drown out the voice of average Americans. He is tired of Democrats thinking the only way to look tough on national security is to talk and vote like George Bush Republicans. Says as President he will have our troops home in 16 months. America, our moment is now.
I don't want to spend the next 3 or 4 years refighting the fights of the 1990's. I don't want to pit Red state vs Blue State, I want to be President of the United States of America.
Obama says we can make this election about the future and not about fear and not only will that be a Democratic victory, but an American victory.

This is the 5th time I have seen Obama speak and this is the most fired up, strong, and most passionate speech he has given.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Iowans for Sensible Priorities to Endorse Edwards

Bleeding Heartland has the story that Iowans for Sensible Priorities is going to be endorsing John Edwards today. Edwards wins the endorsement over Obama. I know that Biden and Richardson were also lobbying hard to win this endorsement. Richardson has even worn the groups lapel pin at some of the debates.

This quote from ABC news really stuck and explains why Edwards won the endorsement and hits Obama hard in the process.

The decision to endorse Edwards over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama came down to "courage versus caution," according to the group's executive director.

"There's a rhetoric gap with Obama," executive director Peggy Huppert told ABC News. "He told me personally: 'Trust me. Ideologically, I'm with you.' But people have told him to be afraid of being pushed too far to the left. He doesn't bring up [cuts in Pentagon spending] on his own. He doesn't incorporate it into his speeches. He skirts around it. He talks around the edges. He never gets to the heart of it in strong, bold language."

I think the "courage over caution" theme is one Edwards can use to distinguish himself over the other top tier candidates. It shows Obama is more like Clinton and the Washington establishment.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Don't Illegal Immigrants Need Driver's Licenses To Get to Work?

Our current immigration laws are pretty much written for corporations to bring in as much cheap labor as they want and then if the companies are caught they get off without a fine. So since our laws encourage this, don't illegals need driver's licenses to get to work?

The point is nothing changes until you enact and enforce laws preventing companies from hiring illegal immigrants. People don't immigrate to the United States to drive to the mall and stop at convenience stores. The vast majority of immigrants come here to work, earn money, and get an education for their children. If companies aren't able hire illegal workers then the people won't come here illegally.

Michigan Should Stick With February 9th

Yesterday a judge ruled against Michigan moving their primary to January 15th. Michigan is considering January 5th or 12th or to their original date of February 9th.

I think Michigan should stick with their original date of February 9th because this would give the state the most influence in the nominating process. When they first decided to move up their primary date, the candidates pledged to not campaign in Michigan and all the candidates except Clinton, Dodd, and Kucinich took their names off the ballot. This won't change if Michigan decides to go on January 5th or 12th. That leaves February 9th.

If Michigan held their contest on February 9th they could be the ones who decide who the nominee. Now if Hillary Clinton wins Iowa, the nomination is pretty much locked up. However, it is entirely possible that someone else wins Iowa and Hillary holds onto New Hampshire, the Iowa winner takes Nevada and Hillary wins South Carolina. If 3 or 4 candidates are still competitive in the race on February 5th, the chances of the candidates each winning a couple states is high. That would leave Michigan (and Nebraska and Louisiana) on February 9th to maybe tip the scales one way or another to the eventual winner.

Michigan would be smart to move back to February 9th and hope for competitive contests in the early states.

We Want Stronger Representives, Not More Liberal Ones

Cenk Uyger hits the nail on the head in an article at Huffington Post about some Democratic Senators caving in on waterboarding and torture and saying they will support Michael Mukasey nomination as Attorney General.

There is this misconception in the press and in Washington that the netroots and other progressive activists want their representatives to be more liberal. The myth is that we want to drag the party all the way to the left and take them away from the center. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We don't need elected officials to be any more liberal or progressive; we just need them to be stronger. Is Senator Schumer's problem that he isn't liberal enough? I don't think so. His problem is that he caves in to the Bush administration on anything that might vaguely be in the "national security" realm because he's scared and miserably weak.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Should We Withdraw from the Geneva Conventions?

Andrew Sullivan thinks it is something that should be debated.

My own view at this point is that the Congress should debate whether to remain a party to the Geneva Conventions or not. We can withdraw from treaties if we want to. So let's debate it, shall we? And let the Congress decide, as it is constitutionally empowered to do.
We have already gotten rid of Habeas Corpus, why not the Geneva Conventions too. This might just be an issue that will slide by unless it is debated and people actually hear how ridiculous it is that we are discussing if we should torture prisoners or not.

New Zogby Poll in Iowa

There is a new Zogby Poll that shows a tight race in Iowa getting even tighter.

Here are the results (results from August in parenthesis)...

Clinton: 28 (30)
Obama: 25 (19)
Edwards: 21 (23)
Richardson: 9 (10)
Biden: 3 (3)
Dodd: 1 (0)
Kucinich: 0 (1)
Unsure: 12 (13)
The race even gets tighter when you take out the candidates that don't reach the 15% threshold to become viable.
Clinton: 30
Obama: 29
Edwards: 27
Not Sure: 15
According to Zogby...
However, the race tightens dramatically when second choices are factored into the mix – a critical wrinkle in the Iowa caucuses. In the caucuses, a first round of “balloting” is conducted, and those candidates who do not win at least 15% support are ruled “unviable” and supporters are directed to a second choice among those who remained “viable” before a second round of “balloting” is conducted.

The survey shows Edwards wins second–choice support from Richardson backers and from Biden backers – both experienced pols with long Washington resumes. Obama also benefited more as a second choice than Clinton, making the race extremely tight.
Being a caucus-goers 2nd choice is also important because of the viability threshold of 15% in the Iowa caucuses. Even Clinton, Obama, and Edwards might not be viable in every precinct, so you can win someone's vote by being their 2nd choice. Zogby has some insights on people's 2nd choices...
However, the picture changes a bit among second–choice voters, where Edwards wins 25% support, compared to 23% for Obama and 18% for Clinton.
This poll shows this race is a 3-way race and it is far from over in Iowa. The media will continue to try to make it a Clinton-Obama matchup, but Edwards is neck and neck with them here.

(Updated) Iowa City to Vote on 21 Ordinance

Today people in Iowa City will be voting on whether to allow 19 and 20 year olds to enter bars (but not to drink) or to pass an ordinance stating that after 10:00 pm only people 21 or older will be able to enter bars.

T.M. Lindsay has an interesting look at this over at Iowa Independent.

While John Deeth sums it up in a great rant about why 18 year olds should be able to drink.
When you're 18, you're an adult.

End of story. Vote no.

**Update on 11/6 at 8:45 pm**
It's looking like the ordinance passed by just 51% to 49% or just over 200 votes. This means bars in Iowa City will only be open to those 21 and over. Someone better be making plans to open up a mini golf course near campus.

**Update on 11/7 at 8:10 am**
I guess the ordinance was defeated 57% to 43%. I was puzzled at first at how this passed with so many students voting early at satellite voting around campus.

From the Popular Progressive...

In an unusual turn of events story, the 21-only bar referendum failed as absentee ballots which had not been counted when all the polls had closed, were added up. The tipping point came after the last city precinct to report, City High, toppled the race to the "Yes" side by about 200 votes, after the "No" vote led all evening. At 9:50, the auditors office reported the margin had shifted dramatically back to the "no" side by a count of 8,895 to 6,606.

Rudy the Megalomaniacal Nutcase

That's what Andrew Sullivan says...

Chris Orr sums it up:

To recap: Rudy Giuliani has now argued that his tenure as Mayor of the Universe New York City gives him better foreign policy credentials than Joe Biden, a keener understanding of torture than John McCain, more experience at Ground Zero than the actual recovery workers, and a unique ability to secure the nation's borders against illegal immigrants.

At least now his contention that his wife is a bioterror expert thanks to her nursing background seems a little less out of left field.

Why is Giuliani even a faintly serious candidate? He's a megalomaniacal nutcase.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

No Child Left Behind Won't Be Debated This Year

From the AP...

The top two lawmakers on the Senate Education Committee said Friday they are putting off consideration of a new No Child Left Behind law until next year.

Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., have decided that there's not enough time this year to complete work on the legislation, which has not yet been formally introduced.

This means the the No Child Left Behind bill will be pushed back until next year, which might make it more difficult to pass meaningful reform because it is an election year.

However, it may be even more difficult to pass a rewritten No Child bill next year because it is a presidential election year. It is harder to get the bipartisan consensus needed to pass major legislation against the backdrop of an intense presidential campaign.

"No Child Left Behind is important to our children's future. We will not and cannot rush it," Enzi said in a statement. "Sen. Kennedy and I have agreed that our goal must be to produce solid legislation — not to meet an arbitrary deadline."

Monday, November 05, 2007

Clinton's Yes or No Answer

The Edwards campaign have found one question where Hillary Clinton answered a question with a yes or no.


Like a Hawk in Washington

In a speech today in Iowa City today, John Edwards had this quote about Hillary Clinton's use of double speak.

Senator Clinton is voting like a hawk in Washington, while talking like a dove in Iowa and New Hampshire.
John Deeth has coverage of Edwards' speech on his blog.

The Need for Progressive Taxation

Last week, I overheard a conversation amongst 5 co-workers, who all happen to be Republicans, talking about an interview with Warren Buffett.

An interview with Tom Brokaw broadcast this morning on NBC's Today Show gave Buffett an opportunity to direct attention to the unfairness of a system that taxes income earned through labor at a higher rate than income earned through investments.

"The taxation system has tilted toward the rich and away from the middle class in the last ten years. It's dramatic and I don't think it's appreciated. And I think it should be addressed."

Buffett asked the employees in his office to calculate the percentage of their income that they pay in income and payroll taxes. Buffett, who said that he does his taxes without an accountant and does not use tax shelters, revealed that he paid 17.7 percent of his income in taxes, while the average for his office staff was 32.9%. None of Buffett's employees paid as low a rate as he did.

All of these Republicans agreed that this wasn't fair and that income earned through investments should be taxed at a higher rate than income earned through work. It was good to hear this idea of progressive taxation being discussed.

George Lakoff explains why we need a system with progressive taxation.
Ordinary people just drive on the highways; corporations send fleets of trucks. Ordinary people may get a bank loan for their mortgage; corporations borrow money to buy whole companies. Ordinary people rarely use the courts; most of the courts are used for corporate law and contract disputes. Corporations and their investors — those who have accumulated enough money beyond basic needs so they can invest — make much more use, compound use, of the empowering infrastructure provided by everybody's tax money.

The wealthy have made greater use of the common good—they have been empowered by it in creating their wealth—and thus they have a greater moral obligation to sustain it. They are merely paying their debt to society in arrears and investing in future empowerment.

This is the fundamental truth that motivates progressive taxation.

November Common Iowan Presidential Straw Poll

It's time for another Common Iowan Presidential Straw Poll. This poll will run for 2 weeks.

Chris Dodd supporters flocked to the last straw poll and propelled Dodd to the victory. Here is a look at the results from September...

1. Chris Dodd 43%
2. John Edwards 30%
3. Bill Richardson 11%
4. Barack Obama 7%
5. Hillary Clinton 2%
6. Joe Biden 2%
7. Dennis Kucinich 1%
8. Mike Gravel 0%
You can see results from past polls in March, August 2006 and from April 2006.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Feingold to Vote Against Mukasey

This is noteworthy because Feingold usually votes for the President's nominees because he says they should have the right to choose they work witht. In the past Feingold has voted in favor of John Aschcroft, John Roberts, and Condileeza Rice among others.

Here is Feingold's statement on why he is not supporting Mukasey...

I will vote against the nomination of Judge Mukasey to be the next Attorney General. This was a difficult decision, as Judge Mukasey has many impressive qualities. He is intelligent and experienced and appears to understand the need to depoliticize the Department of Justice and restore its credibility and reputation.

At this point in our history, however, the country also needs an Attorney General who will tell the President that he cannot ignore the laws passed by Congress. Unfortunately, Judge Mukasey was unwilling to reject the extreme and dangerous theories of executive power that this administration has put forward.

The nation's top law enforcement officer must be able to stand up to a chief executive who thinks he is above the law. The rule of law is too important to our country's history and to its future to compromise on that bedrock principle.

Democratic Halloween Party at the Clinton's

From Saturday Night Live with a guest appearance from Barack Obama...

2008 Hotlist

I posted my first hotlist almost a year ago and thought I'd chime in again with how the candidates rank in my opinion. I am only including the 6 candidates that are actively campaigning in Iowa.

John Edwards
Chris Dodd

Bill Richardson
Barack Obama
Joe Biden

Hillary Clinton

Throughout the week, I will post my explanation of each candidates rankings.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Draft Gore TV Ad On the Air

The Draft Gore group is running this TV ad on CNN and in New Hampshire. The ad is called Imagine and uses clips from previous Gore speeches.

"Al Gore still has time to jump into this race," said Draft Gore chair Monica Friedlander. "He maintains a massive base of support, as evidenced by recent polls and the unprecedented strength of this truly grassroots movement that's sweeping the country unlike anything we have seen in recent political history."

A CBS News poll released last week shows the undeclared Gore running a strong second at 32 percent among Democratic voters nationwide, only five points behind presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton. Moreover, Gore polls much better than Clinton against Republican frontrunner Rudy Giuliani, 52 percent to 46 percent, compared to Clinton's 49 to 47 percent, according to a poll released by CNN on Oct. 21.

National Experts Testify in Opposition to Marshalltown Coal Plant

I received an email yesterday from Plains Justice, who is opposing the proposed coal plant in Marshalltown. The email included testimony from national experts, including climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, an Iowa native.

Here is part of the email...

The 660 MW coal plant proposed by Wisconsin-based Alliant Energy would emit approximately 6,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year. Alliant projects a 40% increase in emissions in the next 7 years, making them one of the worst global warming offenders in the Midwest. The Iowa Utility Association, of which Alliant is a member, recently commissioned a study that demonstrated that capacity for nearly 1,000 MW of cost-effective energy efficiency potential is available in their service territory in the next ten years at half the cost of Alliant's proposed coal plant. Kansas and Florida regulators rejected similar large coal plant proposals in 2007 because of global warming impacts.

Sally Wilson, a biology professor at Marshalltown Community College and member of Community Energy Solutions, opposes the plant as a private citizen. "We deserve clean air and water as much as any other town in Iowa," says Wilson. "There's no reason for Iowa to be building more coal plants. It is critical that we protect our environment for the health of our community and its members. We are dependent on clean air and water," says Wilson. "It makes no sense to build a coal plant when much better alternatives are now available."

The Iowa Utilities Board will hold public hearings starting January 14th in Marshalltown.

"The single most important action needed to decrease the present large planetary imbalance driving climate change is curtailment of CO2 emissions from coal burning," said Dr. Hansen. "Because of the danger of passing the ice sheet tipping point, even the emissions from one Iowa coal plant, with emissions of 6,000,000 tons of CO2 per year, could be important as 'the straw on the camel's back'."

The full text of the Plains Justice petition and the direct testimony of the joint intervenors' four expert witnesses are available at their website.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Key Democrat Gives In Because Bush Stands Tough on Attorney General Nomination

Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has decided to support Bush's nominee for Attorney General, Michael Mukasey.

Schumer's announcement followed a private meeting Friday with Mukasey to discuss waterboarding.

"I deeply oppose it," Schumer said of waterboarding. "Unfortunately, this nominee, indeed any proposed by President Bush, will not agree with this. I am, however, confident that this nominee would enforce a law that bans waterboarding."

So basically since Bush won't nominate someone Schumer agrees with, so he is rolling over and playing dead on the issue.

Mukasey isn't sure if waterboarding is torture and if Democrats believe torture is wrong and that waterboard is torture then they need to be against this nomination. Unfortunately, Schumber's statement is just another example of establishment Democrats showing no spine and not standing up for what they believe in.

**Update [11-2 at 9:45] **
Conservative Andrew Sullivan chimes in...
Every time the Democrats fold on these matters, Cheney tucks a precedent under his belt. Every time they cave into their cowardice and fear, another critical part of our liberty disappears. These precedents are designed to destroy the rule of law and replace it with the rule of a Decider. And they will last for ever, as will the right to torture, because this war is for ever. This is how democracies perish. The rule of law no longer has any party to defend it. The Republicans want no check on the powers of our de facto protectorate. And the Democrats have no spine. We live under the lawless protectorate we deserve. And such lawlessness is always the result when cowards refuse to confront bullies.

How Healthy are Food Subsidies?

How healthy are food subsidies? Not very.

If the amount of federal food subsidies paid by the government actually lined up with the nutrition recommendations made by the government, it looks like healthier food would be more affordable and unhealthy options would be more costly.

We the People

Here's a good article from Huffington Post about our government being we the people and Republicans being against this entire concept.

The other day I brought up the example of Ronald Reagan's famous saying, "Government is the problem." When you look at that saying in this new way, he is saying "We, The People are the problem." Doesn't that sound like he is expressing a profoundly anti-democratic sentiment? Is that really what we want our leaders to be promoting?

How many other places do we discover similar anti-democratic sentiments? How about when we hear about "limited government?" Are conservatives saying that they want to limit the power of the people? What about when they talk about getting rid of government regulations? Do conservatives want to stop the people from regulating what corporations do? When you think about what their words really mean, it sure starts to sound that way.

The author concludes by saying...

So when conservatives say more decisions should be made by the private sector than by the government, aren't they saying that instead of We, The People making decisions we should hand the decision-making power over to the corporations? Is this really what we want?

Sure, the words about "smaller government" and "deregulation" sound good, but when you really think about what they are saying, maybe it isn't such a good idea after all. At least, if we think democracy is a good idea, that is.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Importance of Union Endorsements and Key Endorsements Left to Be Won

Marc Ambinder has a couple posts up about union endorsements.

First, he writes about the key endorsements that are left to be given out.

1. Former vice president Al Gore. He's said he'll endorse. Last cycle, he picked Howard Dean during the second week of December.

2. Former presidential candidate John Kerry. Here's betting that John Edwards will NOT get this one.

3. Sen. Ted Kennedy -- an endorsement that matters in Iowa and New Hampshire for Dems.

4. The Culinary Workers Local 226 in Nevada. They're in the middle of contract negotiations with Strip hotels right now, but almost every weekend, their elaborate endorsement process continues. Obama and Clinton are said to have an edge, but many rank-and-file members of this UniteHere local like Edwards. There are 60,000 active 226ers.

5. The Iowa Auto Workers. They're endorsing by region. And region 4 includes Iowa.. and Illinois and other Midwestern states. So it's a union that leans in Obama's direction...or maybe there'll be enough Obama support to ward off an endorsement of Hillary Clinton. John Edwards doesn't have much of a shot at this one. The Iowa UAW nod can be particularly helpful in cities like Waterloo, where they have 4,000 active and retired members. Statewide, the Iowa UAW has more than 85,000 members.

Ditto re: contract negotiations that are more important to their members than a presidential endorsement. The UAW

6. The National Education Association -- state affiliates will each endorse a slate of acceptable candidates.

7. Who's missing?

In Iowa, I think the UAW endorsement is very big. Some think Culver's UAW endorsement is what on him the Democratic primary for Governor last year and propelled him to beating Nussle. Obama has an advantage for the UAW endorsement because Illinois is included with Iowa when they make their regional endorsements.

I'd think union endorsements are more important than politician endorsements because a union endorsement comes with volunteers and money attached. Gore, Kerry, and Kennedy have name recognition, but they bring the political machine that unions have.

Ambinder also takes a look at if union endorsements matter anymore and he concludes that union endorsements didn't mean much in 2004 because they were made from the top down and didn't excite the membership base. However, this cycle the endorsements are being made at a state or regional level and is more grassroots.

Most of Gephardt's union endorsements were presented to the rank and file from their executive boards. Few of the unions back then had a true grassroots process to determine who the endorsee would be.

Grassroots legitimacy was never developed, and union members in Iowa wound up voting for their favorite candidates... just not the candidate who happened to be the favorite of union leaders in Washington.

This year, the candidates are fighting union-by-union, even local-by-local in some cases for endorsements.

When John Edwards failed to secure enough support on the SEIU's board for an international endorsement, the union threw the process back to its state councils. And that forced Edwards to work the process -- to do direct member to member engagement, to earn it on the ground.