Friday, February 29, 2008

3 AM

Hillary Clinton has a new ad that can simply be labeled as fear mongering...

Barack Obama responds by saying the president needs to be someone who had the judgement to oppose the Iraq War from the start.

But they might not want to break the law in the future

That is the reason George Bush gave for granting telecom immunity at a press conference this morning.

You can't expect the phone companies to participate if they feel that they are going to be sued... How can you listen to the enemy if the phone companies aren't going to participate with you?
This article from the Economist responds to this claim...

How are you going to listen? Well, presumably by way of lawful court orders or emergency certifications, as authorised under the old FISA statute, and now also on the independent authority of the attorney-general and director of national intelligence even without a court order, assuming some version of those expanded powers eventually passes. When surveillance is conducted pursuant to the law, there is no question of whether telecom firms will "cooperate" or "participate", like children at day camp. They will comply, and they will do it because they are required to.

The worry about "participation" makes sense only if you anticipate asking these companies to turn over information outside the law, without a court order or any statutory authority. But that is precisely why we have laws establishing penalties for unauthorised data disclosure: To deter them from helping the government to circumvent the law. If you think they should help the government circumvent the law, then it seems you ought to stop poncing about with ad hoc amnesties and simply do away with the data disclosure statues, at least as they apply to information sharing with intelligence agencies.

NAFTA and Immigration

A forgotten aspect of NAFTA is its affect on immigration. This story from the NY Times back in 2003 takes a look at this...

The more than $10 billion that American taxpayers give corn farmers every year in agricultural subsidies has helped destroy the livelihoods of millions of small Mexican farmers, according to a report to be released on Wednesday.

Prepared in advance of critical trade talks next month, the report by Oxfam International argues that the subsidies given American corn farmers allow them to sell their grain at prices far below what it costs to produce. That has led to cheap American corn flooding the Mexican market and pushing the poorest Mexican farmers out of business, the report said.

''There is a direct link between government agricultural policies in the U.S. and rural misery in Mexico,'' according to the report entitled, ''Dumping Without Borders: How U.S. agricultural policies are destroying the livelihoods of Mexican corn farmers.''

Mexico, the birthplace of corn, opened its borders to American corn exports after signing the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994. Within a year, corn imports from the United States doubled and today nearly one-third of the corn used in Mexico is imported from the United States. The United States is the biggest exporter of corn in the world and the biggest exporter of corn to Mexico.

The report said the price of Mexican corn has fallen more than 70 percent since Nafta took effect, severely reducing the incomes of the 15 million Mexicans who depend on corn for their livelihood.
Many of the Mexican families in Marshalltown were farmers in one rural area in Mexico. Farming is no longer a viable option to make a living and they are left without many options except to move their families and they chose to come to the United States.

The United States can do as many raids and build as many border fences as we want, but we will not come up with a solution to the immigration issue unless the problem with dumping corn in Mexico is solved.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Obama's VP

The American Prospect takes a look at possible VP's for Obama. The two names that came up the most in the discussion were Senators Jim Webb of Virginia and Joe Biden of Delaware. I think both would be excellent, with a slight edge going to Webb. Biden is a Washington insider and Webb is less connected to DC, while still bringing foreign policy experience (the same could be said for Bill Richardson).

There are a lot of Clinton supporters listed (Ted Strickland, Wesley Clark, Tom Vilsack, Evan Bayh, and Ed Rendell) and I would think if Obama names a Clinton supporter as VP then it would probably be Hillary herself.

The most intriguing name listed was Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. He is a solid progressive and could help turn Montana, Nevada, and Colorado blue.

The most interesting long shot was former Colorado Senator Gary Hart, who has a long resume on foreign policy and terrorism, but would bring some monkey business to the campaign trail.

After Chris Dodd endorsed Obama yesterday, I was surprised his name wasn't even on the list. Matt Browner-Hamlin, who worked for Dodd's Presidential campaign, takes a look at a possible Obama-Dodd ticket.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It's Over

Chris Bowers takes a look at Hillary Clinton's best case scenario when it comes to the number of pledged delegates. Bowers uses the most recent polls in all of the upcoming contests until May 6th to determine the number of pledged delegates each candidate will likely win.

Even though Clinton is polling ahead in some of the states, she only gains a total of 4 pledged delegates when Obama currently has a lead of over 160 pledged delegates. Bowers concludes that Obama's lead in the number of pledged delegates is insurmountable.

Clinton now faces an insurmountable pledged delegate deficit. At this point, her only path to the nomination is to vastly outperform polling in most remaining states, and then utterly dominate Obama among superdelegates / uncommitted delegates and also to receive favorable rulings from the credentials committee.
Bill Clinton has said that Hillary has to win Texas and Ohio. That isn't true. Hillary has to win Texas and Ohio by 15% - 20%, hope to get momentum to win Pennsylvania and the rest of the states by that same amount. Current polls show Obama winning in Texas, Clinton leading by around 5% in Ohio, and Clinton lead in Pennsylvania shrinking.

Wrong Then and Wrong Now

Back in 2003, Tim Russert asked "Senator McCain, realistically, how long will American troops be in Iraq, and how much is it going to cost us?"

McCain's answer...

I don't know the answer to that, but I'm telling you what the question is, and the critical aspect of this is: What happens in the next few months? Time is not on our side. People in 125-degree heat with no electricity and no fuel are going to become angry in a big hurry. The sophistication of the attacks on U.S. and allied troops have increased. And what we do in the next several months will determine whether we're in a very difficult situation or not, and there's still time, but we've got to act quickly.
Now 4 and half years later and McCain and the Republicans like Grassley and Latham are still giving the same answers.

Responding to Republican Lies about Domestic Spying

Connecticut Bob made this great response to an ad being run by a Republican special interest defending domestic spying and granting telecom immunity.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

RJ Reynolds, Mid American Energy, and other Corporations Target Democrats

A group funded by RJ Reynolds, Mid American Energy, and other corporations is running TV and radio ads that target a handful of incumbent House Democrats that includes Elesha Gayman, Eric Palmer, McKinley Bailey, Bob Kressig, and Art Staed. The ads attack the candidates on the issues of property tax relief and fair share (which isn't even being debated this year).

The ads have run on cable TV and are paid for by the Iowa Leadership Council, a group organized under the Internal Revenue Code that allows it to raise unlimited contributions.

The council raised $214,550 in the last six months of 2007, according to IRS records, with the largest donors the Reynolds American tobacco company, which gave $40,000, and MidAmerican Energy Holdings, which donated $25,000.
These ads are applauded by Cyclone Conservative who goes searching for a slogan Republicans can spin in the election. He says that Republicans need to start the attacks now and repeat a slogan over and over again.

The slogan that he comes up with is that Democrats are against property tax relief and against keeping jobs in the state. This is absolutely ridiculous. He makes it sound like Democrats want all Iowans to be unemployed and want to force them to hand over all of their money in property taxes.

After running on slogans like "God, Gays, and Guns" for years now, Republicans should realize by now that they no longer are working. Republicans need to forget the slogans and focus on ideas. All of their ideas have run there course and now what is left, is an empty party that is only able to push wedge issues, while they attempt to come up with more meaningless slogans.

Getting Rid of the Enablers

Al Franken makes a good point in this quote...

We don't only need to get rid of George W. Bush in this election. We need to get rid of his enablers too.
If you look at some of the key players in the Bush administration, many had held positions in previous administrations. Donald Rumsfield was Sec. of Defense under Ford, Dick Cheney was Chief of Staff under Ford and Sec. of Defense under George H.W. Bush, and John Negroponte was an Ambassador under Reagen.

Feingold Votes for Obama

Last month, I wrote about Sen. Russ Feingold being undecided on who he would vote for. After Wisconsin's primary last week, Feingold was asked who he voted for and as usual he gave a direct answer...

"I voted for Barack Obama," said the senator, who indicated that he was "extremely likely" to cast his superdelegate vote at the Democratic National Convention for his colleague from Illinois.
Feingold had this to say about Obama...
"I really do think that, at the gut level, this is a chance to do something special," Feingold said of the Obama campaign and the potential of an Obama presidency, which he said has "enormous historical opportunities for America and for our relationship with the world."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Republicans Face a Daunting Task of Recruiting Candidates in Marshall and Hardin Counties

After the retirement of two incumbent legislators, the Republican Party in Marshall and Hardin Counties are now facing the daunting task of recruiting candidates for two closely contested, high priced races. The deadline for candidates to fill for a run is March 14, which leaves less than 3 weeks to find candidates to run.

Polly Granzow
in retiring in Iowa House district 44. In 2006, she beat Tim Hoy by less than 300 votes. Over $200,000 was spent by both sides in House District 44. Hoy announced last month that he is running again for the seat.

Larry McKibben
announced earlier this month that he is retiring in Senate district 22. McKibben had a close race in 2004 against Wayne Sawtelle, winning by less than 800 votes. Over $400,000 was spent by both sides in Senate District 22. Democrat Steve Sodders announced last fall that he is running for the seat in Senate District 22.

Both of these races were expected to be hotly contested and will require the candidate to raise a large amount of money. Republicans will need to quickly find candidates, so they can begin raising the necessary money and are able to get out in the district to campaign.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Des Moines Register Poll: Obama Beats McCain, McCain Beats Clinton

The Des Moines Register released results from a poll that shows Barack Obama would win Iowa in the general election against John McCain. However, the poll shows McCain would win in a matchup against Hillary Clinton.

Obama 53%
McCain 36%

Clinton 40%
McCain 49%
These results are similar to Survey USA's poll released earlier in the week.

The most interesting thing from the Des Moines Register poll was Obama's strength throughout the entire state of Iowa and among woman voters.
Other good news in the poll for Obama includes a decided advantage among female voters, who preferred him over McCain by a margin of more than 20 percentage points.

Obama also beats McCain in each of Iowa's five congressional districts, including the GOP-heavy 5th District in western Iowa. Obama also pulls more support from the opposing party than either of the other two candidates, with 14 percent of Republicans saying they would vote for him.
These numbers show that Obama would help Democratic candidates up and down the ballot. Having Obama on the ballot would be a boost to Congressional candidates in Iowa's 4th and 5th Districts and help Democrats get a larger majority in the Iowa House.

You Get What You Pay For

A popular topic of discussion in my town seems to be how crappy the roads have been all winter. The discussion has moved into the local newspaper and into the city council chambers.

I have to agree with a lot of the criticism because many of the roads that I drive on everyday are pretty bad. However, I do not blame the city council or the city workers for the ice covered and snow packed roads. I put the blame on the anti-tax crowd that gets all worked up about any discussion of property taxes. Every time a new budget is discussed the anti-tax gets all riled up about property taxes without stopping and thinking about what we actually spend our money on. This lack of rational debate has caused us to become a low-tax minimal-services society.

If you think it is a wise investment to pay overtime for city workers to hop into their snow plows in the middle of the night to clear the roads, then you might just have to pay a couple more dollars on your property taxes.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of all taxes. I understand that our tax money is wasted over and over again by the federal, state, and local governments. I don't like the fact that $9 billion of tax payer money is missing in Iraq. I don't like the fact that the state promoteshat corporate welfare if the company promises to locate jobs in the state. I don't like tacities abuse TIF districts that divert tax payer money away from schools and other services. It is too bad the anti-tax aren't as vocal on these issues.

The question isn't how much we pay in taxes, the question is about the the quality of services we receive from those taxes. Unfortunately, we have become a low-tax minimal-service society. So if you complain then you need to understand that you get what you pay for.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Upholding the Constitution

Republican Rep. Polly Granzow is Retiring

Republican Rep. Polly Granzow announced on Friday that she will be retiring from the Iowa House following this session. Granzow, from Eldora, represents district 44 which includes Hardin County, a large portion of Marshall County, and part of Franklin County. Granzow has served in the Iowa House since 2002.

Granzow is the second retirement in the area after State Senator Larry McKibben announced he would not be running in Senate District 22 either. That leaves area Republicans scrounging to find candidates to run for the 2 closely contested seats.

Running for the seat in House District 44 on the Democratic side is Tim Hoy, who lost to Granzow by less than 300 votes in 2006. Hoy is a former mayor of Eldora. He and his wife own and operate Eldora Valu-Rite Pharmacy and Ahoy Fountain.

Friday, February 22, 2008

General Election Polls from Swing States

Chris Bowers at Open Left has a great list of general election polls from swing states. Here is his conclusion...

Compared to Clinton, Obama holds an overall polling advantage against McCain, but Clinton keeps it close by polling better in Florida, Missouri, and Ohio.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Important News Out of Wisconsin

Here's the important news from the Wisconsin primary last night.

From Daily Kos...

Total Democratic vote in Wisconsin: 1,110,702
Total Republican vote in Wisconsin: 409,078

The story of the primary is not just the D turnout, but the idea that Obama is running a campaign that is more than 50+1 (aka a Bush mandate, aka McCain's strategery). He brings in new and younger voters, the kind of voter that campaigns are taught 'don't count on them, they won't show up'.
Wisconsin was a swing state, but this shows the state has a great chance of voting for a Democrat in the general election. The same could be said for the turnout in the Democratic caucuses in Iowa.

Fidel Castro's Resignation

David Letterman had a pretty funny joke last night about Fidel Castro's resignation...

Many observers believe Fidel Castro will either be replaced by his brother Raul, or by his idiot son, Fidel W. Castro.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New General Election Poll Shows Obama beating McCain, Clinton Losing in Iowa

A new poll by Survey USA shows Barack Obama winning Iowa over John McCain by 10%. The poll shows Hillary Clinton losing to McCain by 11%.

Obama 51%
McCain 41%

Clinton 41%
McCain 52%
I am not surprised that Obama would win Iowa. However, I am surprised about how far behind Clinton is. McCain barely even campaigned in the Iowa. I thought some Iowans might hold that against McCain and some might not know him well enough to decide to support him over Clinton. It looks like I was wrong.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Clinton Plagiarizes Obama's Speeches

With all the talk about Obama plagiarizing parts of a speech, I was reminded about Hillary Clinton using Obama signature line at events before the Iowa caucuses by saying she is fired up and ready to go.

Does that mean Clinton's campaign lacks substance?

Polls Show Obama Beating McCain in Pennslyvania, Colorado, and Oregon

Last week, I posted about how Obama would get to 270 electoral votes in the general election against John McCain.

Here are 3 polls that show Obama beating McCain, while Clinton loses, in 3 key states...


Obama: 49%
McCain: 39%

McCain: 44%
Clinton: 42%


Obama: 49%
McCain: 40%

McCain: 45%
Clinton: 42%


Obama: 46%
McCain: 39%

McCain: 49%
Clinton: 35%

I think Obama would win Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, and Virginia. The big question would be Ohio and we will see how much support Obama has there in a few weeks.

Adding a couple more states where Obama does better than Clinton against McCain...

New Hampshire:

Obama: 49%
McCain: 36%

McCain: 41%
Clinton: 43%

Obama: 50%
McCain: 38%

McCain: 49%
Clinton: 40%

Voter Owned Iowa Clean Elections

Popular Progressive had this post over the weekend asking if Voter Owned Iowa Clean Elections or VOICE will be heard during this session.

He also had a link to an interview with Adam Mason from Iowa CCI about VOICE.

What difference would Clean Elections make in IOWA, especially in reference to the issues you work on at ICCI?

Money talks less, and people talk more. The hope is that, with voter education, voter participation will be increased and to restore faith in government, and to reaffirm that the government is by the people and for the people. With Clean Elections, legislators can focus on constituents. In reference to farm factories, local people can have control of factory farms, giving them the chance to approve or deny farm factory licenses, where now legislators are backing out of their promise to give local control over factory farms because they fear the loss of their campaign contributions from factory farm owners and corporate interest wins, grassroots people lose. With Clean Elections, law makers would not have to rely on special interest money.

I have been disappointed about the lack of discussion about VOICE and clean elections. Before the caucuses, I heard over and over again from people on both sides about the ridiculous amounts of money candidates were spending on Presidential campaigns. Now is the time to have the debate.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Future of Our Infrastructure

The collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis was a wake up call about the needed maintenance of the country's infrastructure. This article at World Changing discusses the future our infrastructure and concludes that we must rethink our investments in certain infrastructure to fit the needs of the 21st century.

America is falling apart at the seams. Our power grids, our rail system, our roads and bridges, our drinking water and drainage systems, our dams, our ports, our dumps: they're all failing, sometimes in visible catastrophic ways, often in just slow losses of service and usability.

There are three major schools of thought about what to do. The first is the status quo among politicians: do nothing, and hope nothing major happens on our watch. The second is the status quo among many chambers of commerce: rebuild the old systems with updated versions of the old technologies, paying a bonanza to construction and engineering corporations and turning the repaired systems over to private, for-profit utilities. These are both terrible ideas. There is, though, a third way. We might look into this unfolding disaster and see an opportunity for real change.

Most of the infrastructure we use today was designed a century ago: some of it is based on ideas that go back to the Roman Empire. Almost all of it is at best industrial in its thinking. Essentially all of it was designed for a world without climate change, resource scarcity or any proper understanding of the value of ecosystem services. In other words, most of the systems upon which we depend are not only in a state of critical disrepair, they're out-dated and even out of touch with the realities of our century.

As we undertake their repair and replacement, we ought to be thinking like people native to the 21st century. We ought to be imagining systems which aim to provide the end services we want (access, communications, food, water, sanitation) in the most efficient, flexible and sustainable ways possible.

There are many opportunities in Iowa to rethink our infrastructure needs. There is a lot of talk about how to fund road expansion, yet little talk of alternative transportation such as high speed rail. Expansion of broadband to rural areas would be a big boost to economic development in the state. The states waterways are polluted, yet we continue to allow large hog confinements overwhelm them with waste. And finally, as we strive to become the renewable energy capital of the world, we are about to pour billions into two coal-fired power plants.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Will Boswell be Writing a check for $540,000?

Leonard Boswell's campaign wrote a letter to Ed Fallon's campaign asking that he return all money that was raised after Democracy for America sent an email asking its members to donate to the Fallon campaign.

"In light of your criticism of Leonard Boswell for accepting support from Political Action Committees (PACs), I was rather dismayed to see you accepting support and soliciting money for your candidacy from a PAC," wrote JoDee Winterhof, a senior adviser for the Boswell campaign.
Fallon countered back saying that he has never taken money from a PAC and never will...
"I've never taken contributions from lobbyists or PACs, and I won't in this campaign either," Fallon said. "We're pleased to receive the endorsement of DFA, which urged its individual members to make contributions to my campaign through ActBlue, an online clearinghouse for donations to Democratic candidates."
This entire situation is pretty funny considering that Boswell raised $730,00 in 2007 with $540,000 coming from PAC's.

There is a huge difference between Boswell accepting checks written directly by corporate PAC's and a PAC asking its individual members to donate to a campaign. Fallon's donations come from real people, not an accounting department. Since so much of Boswell's money is coming directly from a PAC, it draws questions to whom Boswell actually represents.

So suddenly the Boswell campaign now thinks it is wrong for a candidate to accept money from PAC's. I want to know if Boswell will be giving back the money he accepted from PAC's and if he's going to be writing a check for $540,000?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Fallon Opposes Telecom Immunity While Boswell Takes Their Money

Ed Fallon is in favor of tracking down terrorists. However, he isn't in favor of immunity for telecom comapanies who knowingly broke the law.

I am opposed to giving immunity to the telecom companies. This is an area where Boswell has repeatedly sided with Bush and against his fellow House Democrats, as when he voted for the Protect America Act and the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act. I am critical of his record because I believe such legislation is too sweeping in granting new police powers to the government and, as a result, infringes on the civil rights and liberties of Americans.
Boswell on the other hand likes the telecom companies because they help fund his campaign. AT&T gave Boswell $5,000 in donations last year.

So how does Boswell repay these telecom companies? He writes a letter to Democratic leadership in the House saying that he will side with the Republicans and Bush and won't vote for telecom immunity.

No, You Can't

From Billionaires for Bush...

Best line...

Nothing can stand in the way of the power of our power keeping us in power.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Republican State Senator Larry McKibben Retiring

State Senator Larry McKibben (R-Marshalltown) has officially announced that he will not be running for re-election in Senate District 22 in Marshall and Hardin counties.

Last month, Iowa Politics ran a story saying that McKibben was contemplating retirement. Since then the speculation was that McKibben and the Republican Party were busy looking for someone else to run in his place. As of now there seems to be no candidate that is waiting in the wings to run for this seat.

That leaves Steve Sodders running on the Democratic side in a race that was decided by 800 votes in 2004. Sodders is a Deputy Country Sherriff and raised over $17,000 last fall.

After hearing that state Republicans will most likely not be putting as many resources into Senate races and the closeness of this District in 2004, this seat is looking like it will be a Democratic pickup come November.

Republicans, FISA, and Telecom Immunity

From Matthew Yglesias...

It is fascinating that the Republican Party would rather allow what they believe to be a critical national security law lapse than allow it to be extended without the extension containing a rider immunizing large telecommunications firms from the consequences of prior illegal activity. It's almost as if the Republican Party exists to serve the interests of large business enterprises and very wealthy individuals, and tends to use national security and cultural anxieties as a kind of political theater aimed at securing votes so that they can better pursue their real agenda of enriching the wealthy and powerful.

Fallon Endorsed by Democracy for America

Democracy for America announced today that they will be endorsing Ed Fallon in the primary in Iowa's 3rd District.

Last Tuesday, our Primaries Matter campaign delivered results and helped lead Donna Edwards to a resounding 24-point victory over Bush-Democrat Al Wynn in MD-04.

Ed Fallon is the next DFA-List endorsement and he's taking on Bush-Democrat, Rep. Leonard Boswell in IA-03.

Contribute $20.08 right now and support a Democrat with the backbone to stand up for progressive values.

Ed Fallon is a true progressive and he has a record of beating out-of-touch Democrats in Iowa. In 1992, he beat 10-year incumbent Gary Sherzan with 63% of the vote and became a State Representative. When the conservative party establishment tried to primary Ed out of the state legislature, Ed won again with 68% of the vote.

Now, with your help, Ed will beat Bush-Democrat Leonard Boswell. Here's a breakdown of some of the important differences between them.

As I wrote a couple weeks ago, national recognition from groups like DFA and national blogs can help level the playing field when it comes to fund raising. Boswell relies on corporate PAC's to give him money, Fallon will rely on small donations from Iowa and around the country.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tax Cuts and the Stimulus Package

After hearing some Republicans talk about the need to extend Bush's tax cuts for the most wealthy 1% of Americans, I have a question about the economic stimulus package.

Bush's tax cuts for the most wealthy 1% of Americans have been in place since 2002. If these tax cuts are good for the long term growth of economy then why the heck are we need of an economic stimulus package?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Big Night for Obama

Obama won the primaries in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC tonight by big margins.

Obama delivered his victory speech in Madison, Wisconsin where he spoke strongly on trade and the war, two areas where Clinton is weak. The trade is issue will be big in Ohio and in Wisconsin also. On Wednesday, Obama will be speaking at a GM plant in Janesville, WI. The tone of the speech will show a lot about Obama's strategy for the next few weeks.

All the talk has been about delegates and tonight Obama expanded his delegate lead. Kos is reporting that Chuck Todd said...

Clinton has to win TX, OH and PA by 63% or so to catch Obama after Wisconsin and Hawaii. I'd like to see the math, but if so, that's insurmountable. She won't get those numbers.

How Does Obama Get to 270 Electoral Votes?

Yesterday, desmoinesdem at Bleeding Heartland asked how Obama would get 270 electoral votes in the general election.

Kos answers the question...

Iowa, Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico, Arkansas, Virginia, Ohio, and Nevada.

That's 76 electoral votes, already past the 42 sure-things that Jerome thinks Hillary gets (and really, Florida?). So if nothing else changed from 2004, that would be a 328-210 Obama victory. Beyond that, Obama will be competitive elsewhere. What, does Jerome really think that Latinos will choose McCain over Obama after 10 months of Republican immigrant bashing in the news (which will happen, whether McCain joins in or not), or that women will sit November out?

McCain is hated in Alaska for his position on ANWAR. Obama is also against such drilling, of course, but they expect that out of a Democrat. A Republican who opposes it is a traitor. Alaska would be my sleeper call for 2008. Arizona would be in play. Montana could be in play. Kentucky could be in play. West Virginia could be in play. Florida might be in play. And if nothing else, Obama would help close the margin in a lot of Red states, forcing cash-strapped Republicans to play defense across something closer to a 50-state strategy than the inevitable 18-state strategy we'll see out of Clinton. Heck, you're seeing it in this primary, with Obama running in every state, while Clinton brags about sitting out the various states (in an attempt to minimize his victories in places like Louisiana and Washington). She increases the battlefield over 2004, no doubt, but not as wide as Obama does through sheer appeal to independents and even some Republicans.

And yes, running tighter in Red states matters. Not only does it build toward the future (the 50-state strategy, of course), but it certainly matters to Democrats running down the ticket. Go around the country, especially in Red states like I have, and there's no doubt that just about ever Red state Democrat on the ballot wants Obama headlining this November.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Good Luck With That in November

Good luck with that in November!

Meet Steve Novick

I saw a couple great TV ads last night for Steve Novick, a Democrat who is running for Senate in Oregon against Republican incumbent Gordon Smith, and I thought I'd share them.

After seeing that ad, I looked up some background information about Novick and found some pretty amazing stuff...

Novick was born with significant physical disabilities which include a missing left hand and missing fibula bones in his legs. As a result he uses a hook prosthesis and stands approximately 4'9" tall. His unusual physicality has prompted him to use the slogan "The Fighter with the Hard Left Hook." ... In 1977, after low funding caused Novick's junior high school to close, he enrolled at the University of Oregon. After graduating at age 18, he attended Harvard Law School, earning a law degree at age 21.

Talk about using this to his advantage.

Novick is running in a primary against Jeff Merkley, who has an outstanding resume himself. It is great to see Democrats with two great candidates for a chance to unseat a Republican in the Senate.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Obama Has Out-campaigned Clinton

Andrew Sullivan says that Obama hasn't just out-dreamed her. He has out-campaigned her.

The evidence of this is Obama blowing Clinton out in nearly all caucus states where organization is key.

The consequence seems to be Clinton parting ways with her campaign manager.

Bush Administration Argues That Veterans Aren't Entitled to Medical Care

Lawyers for the Bush Administration are arguing that veterans have no legal right to medical care and the government isn't responsible to provide care to returning veterans in a lawsuit in federal court.

The arguments, filed Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco, strike at the heart of a lawsuit filed on behalf of veterans that claims the health care system for returning troops provides little recourse when the government rejects their medical claims.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is making progress in increasing its staffing and screening veterans for combat-related stress, Justice Department lawyers said. But their central argument is that Congress left decisions about who should get health care, and what type of care, to the VA and not to veterans or the courts.

A federal law providing five years of care for veterans from the date of their discharge establishes "veterans' eligibility for health care, but it does not create an entitlement to any particular medical service," government lawyers said.

They said the law entitles veterans only to "medical care which the secretary (of Veterans Affairs) determines is needed, and only to the extent funds ... are available."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Michigan Should Have Stayed on February 9th

The Michigan Primary should be taking place today, February 9th. However, they decided to break DNC rules and move up their primary to make it more meaningful. The DNC stripped the state of the their delegates, rendering the earlier primary meaningless and now Michigan is complaining about not having delegates.

As I predicted back in November, if the Michigan primary was today, it would have been very important in the process. It is a large state with a lot of delegates and the candidates would have been campaigning there all week. Instead Obama has been campaigning in Nebraska and Maine. Michigan really dropped the ball on this one.

Together we rock!

Here's a video from the 10,000 Hours Show that will be taking place in Iowa City later in the spring. It is a free concert, but to get tickets, you must volunteer for 10 hours in the community.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Predicting the Presidential Race

I found this analysis of the Presidential race to be right on the money in most places (though I am not sure if I totally agree with the prediction at this point.).

I got this sinking feeling watching his remarkable speech Tuesday night. Obama is not the first visionary, change-oriented candidate to come along in the past three or four decades. Instead of Bobby Kennedy we ended up with Nixon. Instead of Teddy Kennedy we got ... Instead of Gore we got Bush ... Instead of Dean we got more Bush. Every single time. The issue deep down goes beyond the candidates, it lies with the split of the American people - who keep electing these folks.

If Hillary takes the Democratic primary, it will be very difficult for her to win the general election. It's not just about "change." More than anything else we are seeing a breakdown of old political patterns and a shift to a post-partisan politics of the sort that Ron Inglehart identifies, overlaid with a growing "throw-the-bums-out" sentiment. McCain appears more in line with post-partisanship, even if that is more image than reality: Clinton's entire campaign is about the power of partisanship. Of course, the media will drag out all the stuff from the last Clinton administration - the pardons, Whitewater, Monica-gate (even I get an icky feeling just thinking about it). And there are many Americans who when push comes to shove (even if they don't like McCain a whole lot) will decide they want to put an end to 20 years of the Bush-Clinton dynastic politics. If Obama fails to win the nomination, the ability for the Dems to bring in new voters will be hugely deflated.

So my prediction: Get ready for a McCain administration. With Huckabee on the ticket he will energize conservatives, the Republicans will come together, and he will clean up independents from Hillary. And then what will become of change and post-partisanship? Well, what exactly has McCain said he will do? a) fight the "islamo-facists" (what an awful, loaded term), b) stay for 100 more years in Iraq, and c) that he doesn't know much about the economy, but he's certain it's doing a whole lot better than in the 1990s.

A Young Hillary Supporter

After Super Tuesday it is clear that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have their base of support. Obama draws from the young crowd and African Americans, while Hillary wins support from woman, people older than 60, and Hispanics.

I found this article at Slate about a male college student that supports Hillary to be very funny...

My Obama-loving friends—that is, all my friends—have tried to rationalize my support in a number of ways. Maybe I have a thing for older women? Or it's some sort of latent Oedipus complex? Dear God, I hope not. Am I just doing it to get a date? No, and unfortunately, it's having the opposite effect. Being a college guy who supports Hillary is a like being the jock who takes the women's studies class to pick up girls. It just does not work. It is as if my lack of a second X chromosome sends a signal to women that I am an interloper in Hillaryland, and my support is less than genuine.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Romney's Out, McCain's In

Mitt Romney dropped out of the Presidential race today, essentially making John McCain the Republican nominee.

That means this November, Americans have a choice between continuing the war in Iraq for 100 years or more or actively pursuing al Qaeda throughout the world, between bombing Iran or a surge in diplomacy, and between more wars or a regional solution in Iraq.

From Marc Ambinder...

According to a campaign adviser, Sen. John McCain plans to arrive for his CPAC speech with Ex-VA Sen. George Allen.
Could Allen be on McCain's shortlist for VP? Allen would help McCain shore up the South and would balance the age of the ticket.

Education Spending

President Bush's budget would freeze education spending, essentially cutting programs while expanding a controversial reading program and spending money on school vouchers.

The budget would add $300 million for Pell Grants for Kids, a new voucher program aimed at giving low-income students in struggling schools aid to help them switch to private schools. It also would provide $1 billion for Reading First, up from the $393 million that Congress appropriated for the current fiscal year. The reading program has been beset by allegations of conflicts of interest.
It seems this is a last ditch effort to advance the Rightwing's goal to privative the education system with vouchers, while the rest of the education system will suffer from no extra funding.

At the state level, the Iowa House approved a 4% increase in allowable growth for 2009-2010 school year.
House File 2140 would set allowable growth for the 2009-10 school year at 4 percent or $112.6 million in state aid and $45 million more from local property taxes due to increases in assessed valuation, according to an analysis by the Legislative Services Agency. The increase would boost the state average per pupil cost from $5,546 to $5,768 or $222.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Univeristy of Iowa to go Smoke Free

The University of Iowa announced that they will be going smoke free next year...

Smoking already had been banned in various facilities around campus and within 25 feet of building entrances. On Monday, UI president Sally Mason announced UI was taking the next step recommended earlier by a task force: banning smoking altogether on its campus beginning July 1, 2009.

Mason said in a news release that employees and students will have access to smoking cessation programs and services at either no cost or sharply discounted rates.

I have asthma and allergies. At a checkup with my allergist during my first year of college my doctor asked me out of curiosity how many students I see smoking on campus. We laughed at the students who would go be outside the dorms smoking at midnight in the middle of winter. He commented that he believed no one would smoke in 20 to 25 years.

I applaud the University of Iowa for being proactive and deciding to do this. With the University of Iowa Hospital right there, they see first hand the health consequences of smoking. This decision will help cut down on the number of people who smoke and maybe in 20 to 25 years smoking will be relic from the past.

Super Tuesday Analysis

Last night was pretty much a tie in terms of delegates won and the number of states won.

What you need to look at is which states did a candidate win that they weren't supposed to win. Obama won Connecticut and Missouri (and maybe New Mexico) after being down in the polls by double digits recently. Obama also had a wider margin of victory in his home state of Illinois than Clinton did in her home state of New York. That puts Obama slightly ahead in my opinion.

For a closer look at the numbers from Super Tuesday check out John Deeth's analysis.

What is this 'Iraq war' charge on my bill?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Democratic Primaries in Red States

Ezra Klein wrote about an email from the Clinton campaign saying that because Hillary won Arkansas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma means that she can win in red states.

Klein had this humorous response...

I think it's worth remembering that Democrats always win Democratic primaries in red states
I am getting bored watching all the talking heads overreact on every little change in the polls. I am going to go and do something else for awhile until there are actually results.

It's Time to Play Offense

Cenk Uyger of the Young Turks wrote an endorsement of Barack Obama where he says it is time for Democrats to play offense for once.

If we choose Hillary, then we have to defend her for the next nine months. I can and I will. But I'd rather play offense. I'd rather talk about how inspirational and hopeful and terrific our candidate is, and honestly, how theirs isn't. It should be the Republicans playing defense this time around. Let's make them.

Let's vote for the guy that history has brought us. We have a chance to pick a once in a lifetime, inspirational, transformational candidate. Are we really going to pass that up?

Obama's Youth Turnout

Here is a video about the huge increase in youth turnout for Obama that includes clips from Obama's speech in Iowa City on Earth Day.

Monday, February 04, 2008

More Fallon News From Open Left

Open Left once again has a post about Ed Fallon challenging Leonard Boswell in a primary in the 3rd district. They take a look at what PAC's Boswell is getting money from and has some links about the race.

And finally, we have Ed Fallon challenging Bush Dog Leonard Boswell in Iowa. Boswell endorsed Clinton in the primary, an embarrassment showing he was out of step with his own constituents. Ed Fallon, the progressive primary challenger, is generating good headlines, radio, and TV, while Boswell is doing standard message-testing with polling in district for the June primary. Boswell has around $700k on hand, with about 74% of that coming from PACs, including your standard AT&T, Boeing, Conagra, Northrup Grumman, Lockheed Martin, the NRA, Raytheon, Verizon, and Walmart. There's also a good amount of labor money, and a bunch from sitting members of Congress (including progressives), and most of the non-PAC money came from high dollar individuals.

Fallon says Boswell hurts Dems' long-term prospects (Des Moines Register)

Fallon: Iowa voters want change (Associated Press)

Fallon run sparks blogs (Des Moines Register)

Ed Fallon says Leonard Boswell's time is up in Third District seat">Ed Fallon says Leonard Boswell's time is up in Third District seat (The Daily Iowan)

Fallon says Boswell "status quo" politician who'll fail in "change" election (Radio Iowa)

Primaries are really expensive, and Leonard Boswell has a lot of cash. The wild card here is whether outside groups will be a part of the race, and whether the overall change environment can impact lower ticket races. We'll know more soon.

The netroots has been writing about and raising money for Donna Edwards in Maryland and Mark Pera in Illinois as they challenge incumbents in primaries this month. After they are done, there is a chance that Fallon's candidacy becomes more talked about. Boswell is getting money from outside of Iowa from Corporate PAC's and maybe Fallon will start getting money from real people through the netroots. This could even the playing field moneywise.

The Need for Judgement, Not Triangulation

Former Sen. Gary Hart (D-CO) wrote an article at the Huffington Post that looks at the Iraq War vote and the judgment of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. However, what stuck out from the article was Hart's conclusion about the effects of centrism on the political process and the Democratic Party.

"Triangulation" and "centrism" may have led to eight years of a Democratic presidency in the 1990s.. But it also blurred the principles of the Democratic party. It led young politicians to believe that the safest course was in some vague middle ground. And, tragically, it led too many Democrats to believe they had to prove their national security credentials by voting for any military misadventure right wing hawks could think up.

This nation needs a president who will question the conventional wisdom, who will exercise skepticism concerning foreign entanglements, who will have the courage to resist pressure from the narrow-minded bellicose right, who will admit to error when major mistakes are made, and who can look farther over the horizon than most of us. Most of all, we need a president who can restore America's honor, respect, and moral authority in the world.

That president is not Senator Clinton. That president is Barack Obama.

Bye Bye Plastic Bags

The use of plastic grocery bags is nearly non-existent in Ireland after a tax has made it socially unacceptable to use them.

In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags; customers who want them must now pay 33 cents per bag at the register. There was an advertising awareness campaign. And then something happened that was bigger than the sum of these parts.

Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable — on a par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after one’s dog.

This is an example of how a tax can be useful to promote positive behavior. It is a common sense solution to a problem and would in the end save money, oil, and help our environment.

Last year at a breakfast with local Democrats where I was chatting with a local elected official and the discussion turned to plastic bags. He said that he was driving on the highway one day and a plastic bag blew across the road. He wasn't in a hurry, so he stopped and picked it up. He glanced in the ditch and found about a half dozen more.

This got the group thinking about things that could be done to limit the use of the plastic bags, resuse them, or encourage the use of cloth bags. A fee on the bags was brought up and but the consensus among the group was that the no-tax crowd would throw a hissy fit about the idea of a tax or a fee on the use of plastic bags.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Fallon's Grassroots Support

Gavin Aronsen has a great in-depth article at Ames Progressive about Ed Fallon's run for Congress. The article focuses on how Fallon has assembled grassroots support and how the media and establishment doesn't understand the strong coalition he has built.

“There are a lot of people who are very, very dissatisfied with Leonard Boswell,” Fallon explained. “They don’t like his voting record; they don’t like where he stands on the war [or] on the Patriot Act. He supported No Child Left Behind; he supported the $14 billion for the tax breaks and incentives for the oil and gas companies; he supported repealing the estate tax….

“I think [Boswell is] an honorable man who has served with integrity and dignity, and he’s done some good things,” Fallon continued. “Certainly he’s done some great things for veterans. But I hear a real, strong sense that people want somebody who votes differently, [and] they want more energy; they want more passion, more engagement.”

In short, said Fallon, that passion rests with “the folks who really are the Democratic Party” who have long been hungry for change. “It’s rank-and-file voters who are fed up with the status quo. To me, it’s exciting to have been on the cutting edge of that and now to see it finally really coming into fruition.”

Listening to Fallon, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Borsellino’s article that still rings true more than two years later. It concluded with a series of personal voter testimonials that commended Fallon for his inclusive brand of politics that brought together such a diverse spectrum of individuals.

“I heard all that,” wrote Borsellino, “and I got to thinking about how Ed Fallon is also reminding a lot of Democrats why they’re still Democrats.”

$43 million Spent on Campaign Ads in Iowa

Iowa Politics has a study posted about campaign ads so far this election cycle. The study shows that the most money on campaign ads was spent in Iowa with $43 million. 22,000 ads were played in the Des Moines costing $15 million alone.

Cheerleader for War

This video might be a little harsh, but it shows exactly why I didn't support Hillary Clinton. I just don't trust her when she says she is going to end the Iraq War. She voted for the war and then, more importantly, she was one of the wars biggest cheerleaders until she decided to run for President.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Yes We Can

Barack Obama's speech after the New Hampshire Primary inspired of the Black Eyed Peas to put the speech to music. Here is a music video featuring appearences from stars like John Legend, Scarlett Johannsen, Herbie Hancock, Kate Walsh, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Adam Rodriquez, Kelly Hu, Amber Valetta, and Nick Cannon.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Being Right on Day One

The moment worth remembering from last night's Democratic debate in Los Angeles was Barack Obama drawing distictions between his judgement on the Iraq War and Clinton's vote to go to war.

Fallon and National Blogs

The Daily Iowan has a story today about the support Ed Fallon is already getting from national blogs.

Chris Bowers and Matt Stoller, cofounders of the website Open Left, are both backing Fallon in his attempt to unseat Boswell...Ultimately, Bowers said, the only way to make a difference is to spend resources to pay for advertisements, automated phone calls, and other standard election tactics. Along these lines, Bowers and Stoller said they hope to help Fallon in fundraising as well as in attempting to draw in national media attention...However, he said, the Internet has proven to be an effective fundraising and buzz-generating tool. Because Boswell is an incumbent, Redlawsk said, he already has an established national fundraising network, thus support from the blogosphere could potentially help to level the playing field.

How Obama and Clinton Plan to Implement Change

George Lakoff wrote yesterday at the Huffington Post about the differences between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He lays out how each candidates plans to implement bold, progressive change. He says it comes down to values.

Obama understands the importance of values, connection, authenticity, trust, and identity.

But his vision is deeply progressive. He proposes to lead in a very different direction than Reagan. Crucially, he adds to that vision a streetwise pragmatism: his policies have to do more than look good on paper; they have to bring concrete material results to millions of struggling Americans in the lower and middle classes. They have to meet the criteria of a community organizer.

The Clintonian policy wonks don't seem to understand any of this. They have trivialized Reagan's political acumen as an illegitimate triumph of personality over policy. They confuse values with programs. They have underestimated authenticity and trust.

Lakoff then look at three major areas that divide the Democratic party and shows how Obama plans to accomplish dramatic change and implement progressive policies.

This nomination campaign is about much more than the candidates. It about a major split within the Democratic party. The candidates are reflecting that split. Here are three of the major "issues" dividing Democrats.

First, triangulation: moving to the right -- adopting right-wing positions -- to get more votes. Bill Clinton did it and Hillary believes in it. It is what she means by "bipartisanship." Obama means the opposite by "bipartisanship." To Obama, it is a recognition that central progressive moral principles are fundamental American principles. For him, bipartisanship means finding people who call themselves "conservatives" or "independents," but who share those central American values with progressives. Obama thus doesn't have to surrender or dilute his principles for the sake of "bipartisanship."

The second is incrementalism: Hillary believes in getting lots of small carefully crafted policies through, one at a time, step by small step, real but almost unnoticed. Obama believes in bold moves and the building of a movement in which the bold moves are demanded by the people and celebrated when they happen. This is the reason why Hillary talks about "I," I," "I" (the crafter of the policy) and Obama talks about "you" and "we" (the people who demand it and who jointly carry it out).

The third is interest group politics: Hillary looks at politics through interests and interest groups, seeking policies that satisfy the interests of such groups. Obama's thinking emphasizes empathy over interest groups. He also sees empathy as central to the very idea of America. The result is a positive politics grounded in empathy and caring that is also patriotic and uplifting.

For a great many Democrats, these are the real issues. These real differences between the candidates reflect real differences within the party. Whoever gets the nomination, these differences will remain.