Monday, June 30, 2008

The Logical Solution to Gun Control

I have been reading a lot about gun control after last weeks Supreme Court decision in DC vs Heller. I still think Chris Rock has the most logical idea on the topic...

White House Blocks Release of an EPA Report Mandated by the Supreme Court

The White House is trying to block the release of an EPA report that has been mandated by the Supreme Court. It makes me wonder what part of Supreme do they not understand?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting the White House continues to fight tooth and nail to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency's from publishing a report of greenhouse gases mandated by the Supreme Court. Their motive? According to the Journal, to prevent even the possibility of the EPA establishing and enforcing any kind of restriction on greenhouse gas emissions (Subscription only):

The draft document, which has been viewed by The Wall Street Journal, outlines how the government, under the Clean Air Act, could regulate greenhouse-gas emissions ... The OMB instead wants the document to show that the Clean Air Act is flawed and that greenhouse-gas regulations should be developed under new legislation, several people close to the matter said.

The EPA document gained national attention last week when it was revealed that WH personnel refused to open the email containing it. It reportedly lays out a road map for how the EPA could regulate dangerous greenhouse gases as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Why might the Bush Administration be reluctant to hear about greenhouse gas regulations? Well, like any good rapacious neocon with their microbrains buried in the sand, they despise the Clean Air Act. Their concern, at least according to this Journal article, is that by allowing this to go forward, it might threaten Bush's legacy as a ... well I guess as a full blown, toxic, industrial sociopathic tycoon hell bent on unleashing climate destruction on a global scale.
The Daily Show gives some background information on this...

Craig - Vitter Federal Marriage Amendment

Republicans have reintroduced the Federal Marriage Amendment and 2 of the bill's sponsors are Idaho Senator Larry Craig and Louisiana Senator David Vitter.

It seems Republicans could have found 2 better guys to protect traditional marriage than one that was caught soliciting gay sex in an airport bathroom and one who was a frequent client of the DC Madam's escort service.

Thank You Senator Biden

Joe Biden talks about Bush and McCain threatening to bomb Iran.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

McCain the Elitist

This post from Matthew Yglesias is hilarious...

John McCain doesn't know how to use a computer. John McCain doesn't know when he last pumped gas or what it cost. John McCain owns seven homes and forgot to pay taxes on one of them for the past four years. But at least he's not an elitist like Barack Obama. He earned his money the old-fashioned way -- marrying an heiress.

How Much Would We Save From Drilling in ANWR?

$0.02 a gallon

From Andrew Sullivan...

The economic advantage of drilling in ANWR:

The median case suggests the effect on gasoline prices in 2025 will be a mere $0.02 a gallon. The immediate effect will be zero as we’ll have to wait a decade to see any oil from ANWR. If this is Bush’s and McCain’s answer to today’s high gasoline prices, it is no answer at all.

Add that to the $0.08 a gallon we would save by increasing offshore drilling and the Republican plan to lower gas prices would save a whopping $0.10 a gallon.

Is McCain Taking Iowa Seriously?

John McCain named his Iowa State Director last week and one of the leading journalists in the state, O Kay Henderson, had to use Google to find out information about him.

This release today from the McCain camp's Dave Roederer, the chairman of McCain's Iowa campaign through the Caucuses:

Dear Fellow Iowan,

It has been, and will continue to be, an honor to serve as Chairman of Senator McCain's Iowa campaign. Iowa is going to be a key battleground state and I look forward to helping Senator McCain bring his message of government reform, lower taxes, and American security to all Iowans. Our organization in this state continues to grow and I am pleased to announce that Charlie Liebschutz has joined the team as the campaign's Iowa State Director. Charlie and I will be working closely to expand our grassroots effort, which will be so critical in helping all Iowans to understand the substantive differences that exist between John McCain and Barack Obama.

If you have not already become involved in our grassroots organization, I ask you to sign-up to help organize your county or precinct. In the coming weeks and months, staff and volunteers will be canvassing the state to bring Senator McCain's message directly to the people of Iowa. I hope you will join this effort.

Guessing, based on the results of a Google search, that Liebschutz is a 2006 graduate of Colgate and has been on the road with the McCain campaign for months. No biographical information in the email Roederer sent to supporters, just what you read above.

Compare this to Obama's Iowa State Director, Jackie Norris, who has a long list of Iowa ties.
Norris, a long time Democratic operative, served as political director on Vice President Al Gore’s 1999-2000 Iowa caucus campaign and as finance director of Tom Vilsack's 1998 campaign for Governor. Norris worked in Washington D.C. for seven years on Capitol Hill, in the White House as a scheduler for Vice President Gore, and at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Norris teaches high school American Government and History and is married to John Norris, Chair of the Iowa Utilities Board.
I say advantage Obama.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Democratic State Convention

I didn't attend the Democratic State Convention today. I stayed home and went to the Iowa State BBQ Contest in Marshalltown. I went last night too, but the night was shortened due to rain, so I had to go again and eat some more great BBQ.

John Deeth went and has been busy liveblogging the convention.

State Convention Liveblog Part 1

State Convention Liveblog Part 2

State Convention Liveblog Part 3

Mercedes to Stop Producing Petroleum Powered Vehicles by 2015

From EcoGeek...

In less than 7 years, Mercedes-Benz plans to ditch petroleum-powered vehicles from its lineup. Focusing on electric, fuel cell, and biofuels, the company is revving up research in alternative fuel sources and efficiency.

Friday, June 27, 2008

McCain Takes Credit for Webb's GI Bill

John McCain is taking credit for the Webb GI Education Bill...

I'm happy to tell you that we probably agreed to an increase in educational benefits for our veterans that not only gives them increase in their educational benefits, but if they stay in for a certain period of time than they can transfer those educational benefits to their spouses and or children. That's a very important aspect I think of incentivizing people of staying in the military.

This is quite odd considering that McCain opposed the passage of this bill in the Senate...
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, seemed to give a thumbs down to bipartisan legislation that would greatly expand educational benefits for members of the military returning from Iraq and Afghanistan under the GI Bill.
Vote Vets put out this ad asking McCain to support the bill and support the troops.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Make McCain Exciting

After McCain's horrible speech the night Obama clinched the Democratic nomination, Stephen Colbert issued a Make McCain Exciting challenge using footage from McCain's speech.

On last night's Colbert Report, they showed a few of the entries.

IA-05:Hubler on Telecom Immunity

Rob Hubler, who is running against Steve King in Iowa's 5th District posted this comment about telecom immunity on his blog...

This is wrong. No one should get a free pass for breaking the law. Iowans and all Americans have a right to live their lives without government intrusion on their privacy.

If elected, I would vigorously oppose this measure. I believe that the constitutional rights of everyday Americans are at issue here, and full accountability is needed. No President should ever have unchecked power. Americans in the U. S. with no connection to suspected terrorists should never have their privacy abridged by an overzealous, unchecked executive branch. As Americans, we can protect ourselves without destroying our Constitutional rights. We need to focus on the very real threats we face, and not waste our resources on spying on loyal Americans.
Steve King was one of 3 Iowans in the House (along with Republican Tom Latham and Democrat Leonard Boswell) that voted for FISA bill and the terrible telecom immunity that was included in it. Democrats Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack voted against the bill.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Special Interests Spend Thousands to Influence Iowa Lawmakers

Special interests spent thousands wining and dining lawmakers during this past legislative session...

Well-heeled interest groups, businesses and some government agencies spent nearly $195,000 wining and dining lawmakers and their staffers during this year’s legislative session, according to new financial disclosure forms.

Groups ranging from the Iowa State Bar Association and the Greater Des Moines Partnership to Union Pacific spent a total of $194,848 on receptions, dinners and other social events during this year’s session, according to reports filed with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.
Some of the groups that spent the most were the Iowa Business Council, The Principal Financial Group, Iowa Gaming Association, the Iowa Wholesale Beer Dealers Association, and Hy-Vee Inc.

Now when you look at some of the big issues that were debated by lawmakers this past session you can see why these groups were so interested. These issues include: changes to collective bargaining, expanding health care to uninsured children, if casinos would be included in the smoking ban or not, and the expansion the bottle bill.

The article goes on to tell about the dramatic influence lobbyists and PAC's have on lawmakers and helping them get elected.
Disclosure reports for the year ending last June 30 showed that there were 610 groups who paid lobbyists a total of more than $8.5 million to influence lawmakers.

That financial influence was also shown in political action committee disclosures filed this month, with PACs having already given $872,509 to candidates this year.
I don't think I have heard a better reason for the need for clean elections and campaign finance reform in Iowa. Yet, political leaders refuse to allow the VOICE bill to come up for a vote. The VOICE legislation would bring voluntary clean elections to Iowa.

I'd love to sit down for dinner with Governor Culver, Sen. Gronstal, Rep. Murphy, and Rep. McCarthy and talk about the benefits of the VOICE bill, but I don't think I have enough money to afford it.

Obama Will Look at Qualifacations, Not Geography When He Names His VP

From Marc Ambinder...

In a briefing with reporters here in Washington, Obama manager David Plouffe offered the campaign's first public comments on what criteria Obama would use to choose his vice presidential ticket-mate.

Responding to a reporter's question, Plouffe said that Obama would choose someone "qualified to be president and someone who'll be a partner in governing."

"We certainly don't want to pick someone who will hurt," he said.

He then referred to President Bush's choice of Dick Cheney as any example of a pick that didn't help Bush politically but didn't hurt him either.

And he noted that the pick of Al Gore didn't help Bill Clinton win Tennessee in 1992; without Gore, Clinton would have won anyway.

Richardson and Webb have the best geographic arguments to be VP, so you'd think this might help the chances of Joe Biden and Kathleen Sebelius.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How Much Would We Save From Off Shore Drilling

It seems that we would save about $0.08 a gallon by opening up offshore drilling.

According to the NYT, the Energy Information Agency estimates that the total amount of oil in the offshore zone in question is about 16 billion barrels. If we assume that it would take about ten years from the day of authorization to get to peak production and that most of the oil is pumped out over 30 years, this would translate into a bit over 1 million barrels of oil a day.

That would be equal to about 1 percent of world production in a decade. If we assume a long-run demand elasticity of 0.3, this would imply a drop in world prices of approximately 3 percent. In today's prices, we would be looking at a drop in the price of a barrel of oil from around $135 to $131. If this were passed on one to one in gas prices (this is long-run story), we might expect to see a drop in the price of a gallon of gas from around $4.00 to around $3.92 a gallon.

Iowa Flooding Could Have Been a Man Made Disaster

The Washington Post had a story last week saying that the historic floods that hit Iowa might not be a natural disaster, but caused by human actions.

They quote Kamyar Enshayan, a college professor and Cedar Falls City Council member...

Enshayan, director of an environmental center at the University of Northern Iowa, suspects that this natural disaster wasn't really all that natural. He points out that the heavy rains fell on a landscape radically reengineered by humans. Plowed fields have replaced tallgrass prairies. Fields have been meticulously drained with underground pipes. Streams and creeks have been straightened. Most of the wetlands are gone. Flood plains have been filled and developed.

"We've done numerous things to the landscape that took away these water-absorbing functions," he said. "Agriculture must respect the limits of nature."

They discuss the changing nature of agriculture away from sustainable practices.

"I sense that the flooding is not the result of a 500-year event," said Jerry DeWitt, director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. "We're farming closer to creeks, farming closer to rivers. Without adequate buffer strips, the water moves rapidly from the field directly to the surface water."

Corn alone will cover more than a third of the state's land surface this year. The ethanol boom that began two years ago encouraged still more cultivation.

Between 2007 and 2008, farmers took 106,000 acres of Iowa land out of the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers to keep farmland uncultivated, according to Lyle Asell, a special assistant for agriculture and environment with the state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR). That land, if left untouched, probably would have been covered with perennial grasses with deep roots that help absorb water.

Value of the Iowa Values Fund

Earlier this month I wrote about Lennox planning to cut 250 jobs in Marshalltown even though the company has received millions of taxpayer money from the Iowa Values Fund.

Iowa Independent took a closer look at the Iowa Values Fund, asking Is There Value in the Iowa Values Fund?

Gordon said IDED can point to a few scattered success stories, but in the end the true impact of the Values Fund is murky at best.

"It diverts money from improving the things that truly matter to companies, and that hurts Iowa in the long haul," he said. "These incentives are a short-term, politically easy fix to a much bigger problem. If you ask a business, and they answer honestly, they will say these incentives make very little difference to their final decision of where to locate."

Feingold: Telecom Immunity Could be a Cover Up of an Impeachable Offense

Sen. Russ Feingold spoke yesterday at the New America Foundation in Washington about the nation’s intelligence needs. Feingold was asked the latest FISA bill that includes immunity for telecom companies.

“I do think this is a total farce with regard to the immunity [for telecommunications companies]. It basically guarantees the immunity,” Feingold said. “It doesn’t simply have the impact of potentially allowing telephone companies to break the law. It may prevent us from ever getting to the core issue … which is the president ran an illegal program that could’ve been an impeachable offense.”

Monday, June 23, 2008


This is so cheesy...

Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton will make their first joint campaign appearance on Friday in Unity, New Hampshire.

Both candidates received exactly 107 votes in the town during the January primary.

Vice Presidential Searches

Marc Ambinder gives some information on how Obama and McCain are conducting their vice presidential searches...

(1) Timing: the McCain campaign is looking at an early August date to reveal the choice; the Obama campaign is looking at early or mid-August; both campaigns are aware that the Olympics begins on August 8.

(2) Vetting -- having spoken with aides and advisers to folks I'm guessing will be on the short lists, neither candidate seems to be at the point where they've begun to formally vet a smaller selection of potential nominees. In general, only a handful of VP hopefuls on both sides are asked to submit to interviews with lawyers, to relinquish their medical records and tax returns, to alert the vetting teams to any potential scandal lurking in their pasts. It does not seem as if the major short list suspects have yet been contacted by the search teams.

(3) Winnowing -- My best guess is that both candidates are in the stage where they're reviewing open source political and personal data for any number of potential candidates and are in the process of figuring out whom they want their vice presidential search teams to approach.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Jim Webb: The Fire Breathing Economic Populist

The Economist takes a look at Sen. Jim Webb possibly being Obama's running mate.

Webb has great resume on foreign policy issues and opposed the Iraq War from the beginning...

In his prescience on this issue, Mr Webb, who is now a senator, has much in common with Barack Obama. The difference is that Mr Webb is a military man. He attended the Naval Academy (also John McCain's alma mater), was decorated four times and wounded twice in Vietnam, and served as Ronald Reagan's secretary of the navy. His father was in the air force; his son served in Iraq. No one, therefore, can accuse Mr Webb of being an effete peacenik.
Webb comes from a swing state and is a Washington outisder...
He is from Virginia, a battleground state with 13 juicy electoral votes. At 62, he is reassuringly older than Mr Obama, but he has been a politician for less than two years, which fits nicely with Mr Obama's message of freshness and change.
However, they conclude that Webb would be a poor choice because he is a fire breathing economic populist.
The main worry about Mr Webb, however, is that he is a genuine fire-breathing economic populist. He appears actually to believe the sort of stuff that Mr Obama only says during Democratic primaries. Since vice-presidents sometimes become presidents, this matters. American workers, says Mr Webb, “are at the mercy of cut-throat executives who are vastly overpaid, partly as a consequence of giving [the workers'] jobs away to other people.” Illegal immigration and globalisation “threaten to dissipate” the American middle-class way of life. He predicts that, unless the government acts to restore “economic fairness”, America “may well go the way of ancient Greece [or] greed-ridden Rome”.
I think that might be the biggest reason why Webb should be Obama's VP.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

FISA Capitulation

Olbermann talks with George Washington law professor Jonathon Turley...

Rep. Tom Udall (D-NM) who is running for US Senate in New Mexico released a great statement explaining his decision to vote against the so-called compromise on FISA.

The FISA bill we considered today would compromise the constitutionally guaranteed rights that make America a beacon of hope around the world.

Today's vote was not easy. I stood up to leaders of my own party and voted against this bill, because I took an oath to defend Americans and our Constitution, and it was the right thing to do.

That duty is most important when it is most difficult. We can protect our nation while upholding our values, but unfortunately, this bill falls short.

The Changing American Dream: From Surburbia to Walkable Neighborhoods

High gas prices, long commutes, and the subprime mortgage crisis have hit Surburbia hard and people have started to rethink where they want to live. People are now finding walkable urban areas and walkable neighborhoods more attractive instead of a house in suburbia.

"The American dream is absolutely changing," he told CNN.

This change can be witnessed in places like Atlanta, Georgia, Detroit, Michigan, and Dallas, Texas, said Leinberger, where once rundown downtowns are being revitalized by well-educated, young professionals who have no desire to live in a detached single family home typical of a suburbia where life is often centered around long commutes and cars.

Instead, they are looking for what Leinberger calls "walkable urbanism" -- both small communities and big cities characterized by efficient mass transit systems and high density developments enabling residents to walk virtually everywhere for everything -- from home to work to restaurants to movie theaters.

The so-called New Urbanism movement emerged in the mid-90s and has been steadily gaining momentum, especially with rising energy costs, environmental concerns and health problems associated with what Leinberger calls "drivable suburbanism" -- a low-density built environment plan that emerged around the end of the World War II and has been the dominant design in the U.S. ever since.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Teaching Real World Skills Through Entrepreneurship Education

A high school in Boston has found a program that teaches math, business, and public speaking skills through entrepreneurship education.

Entrepreneurship education is gaining popularity as a way to motivate students to master everything from math to public speaking. In the era of No Child Left Behind, it's hard for many schools to make room for entrepreneurial classes in their schedules. But groups that promote these classes, particularly in urban settings, are convinced that a curriculum about creating, financing, and owning a business can also nudge up test scores and graduation rates.

At Fenway, a high-performing public school, educators saw the value so clearly that they made the demanding "Ventures" class a requirement. The course carries into senior year with career exploration and an internship. It's one of many ways students here connect with the world beyond high school and practice the skills they'll need there.

Ventures "is about the ability to open doors for yourself in the adult work world," says Rosemary Sedgwick, who piloted the program a decade ago with funding from Adobe Systems and now is Fenway's director of development. "It leaves them with that entrepreneurial spirit that they can go out and make things happen."

Feingold and Dodd on the FISA Cave In

Yesterday, Sen. Russ Feingold released a statement about the Democratic leadership caving in on the FISA to allow Telecom immunity.

The proposed FISA deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation. The House and Senate should not be taking up this bill, which effectively guarantees immunity for telecom companies alleged to have participated in the President’s illegal program, and which fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans at home. Allowing courts to review the question of immunity is meaningless when the same legislation essentially requires the court to grant immunity. And under this bill, the government can still sweep up and keep the international communications of innocent Americans in the U.S. with no connection to suspected terrorists, with very few safeguards to protect against abuse of this power. Instead of cutting bad deals on both FISA and funding for the war in Iraq, Democrats should be standing up to the flawed and dangerous policies of this administration.
And from Sen. Chris Dodd...

I cannot support the so-called ‘compromise’ legislation announced today. This bill would not hold the telecommunications companies that participated in the President’s warrantless wiretapping program accountable for their actions. Instead, it would simply offer retroactive immunity by another name.

“As I have said time and time again, the President should not be above the rule of law, nor should the telecommunications companies who supported his quest to spy on American citizens. I remain strongly opposed to this deeply flawed bill, and I urge my colleagues in Congress to join me in supporting American’s civil liberties by rejecting this measure.”

Invest in America Again

This new ad for Al Franken for Senate successfully makes the connection that the Iraq War is hurting the economy and draining resources that should be invested in America.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Western Oil Companies to Get No Bid Contracts for Iraq's Oil

With high gas prices at the pump, politicians are talking about drilling in ANWR and lifting the ban on offshore drilling. However, there is a third option...

Imagine. At the precise moment when demand for oil was the highest in history, a recently democratized country with enormous reserves had the chance to sell extraction contracts to the highest bidder. This was a country that desperately needed the revenue to help rebuild its schools, power grid and water supply after a long internal conflict. So why did it hand out the contracts with no auction at all?
That is exactly what is happening as 4 Western oil companies are planning on getting access to Iraq's oil supply through no bid contracts.
Four Western oil companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power.

Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company — along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies, are in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields, according to ministry officials, oil company officials and an American diplomat.

The deals, expected to be announced on June 30, will lay the foundation for the first commercial work for the major companies in Iraq since the American invasion, and open a new and potentially lucrative country for their operations.

The no-bid contracts are unusual for the industry, and the offers prevailed over others by more than 40 companies, including companies in Russia, China and India. The contracts, which would run for one to two years and are relatively small by industry standards, would nonetheless give the companies an advantage in bidding on future contracts in a country that many experts consider to be the best hope for a large-scale increase in oil production.

Boswell and Blue Dogs Revolt, Democrats Cave on FISA to Allow Telecom Immunity

A compromise has been reached in Congress on the FISA bill. The so-called compromise bascially allows immunity to Telecom Companies for illegally spying on Americans.

The agreement would also pave the way for companies such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. to shed the nearly 40 lawsuits they face for allegedly participating in a prior version of the NSA program, which have cast a shadow over their reputation on Wall Street and Main Street. To win immunity, they would have to pass review from a U.S. District Court.

It faces hurdles to becoming law, namely whether it will have enough support from other lawmakers in both parties in the House. Telecommunications companies, which have lobbied lawmakers aggressively in recent weeks, support the compromise as does the White House.

Critical to sealing the deal was a compromise that would grant conditional immunity to telecommunications companies for assistance they provided from September 2001 through January 2007. If the companies can show a federal district court judge "substantial evidence" they received a written request from the attorney general or head of an intelligence agency stating the president authorized the surveillance and determined it to be lawful, the cases against them will be dismissed.

Yesterday the New York Times had an editorial saying this agreement is unnecessary and a threat to the Bill of Rights.

This week, the White House and Democratic and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill hope to announce a “compromise” on a domestic spying bill. If they do, it will be presented as an indispensable tool for protecting the nation’s security that still safeguards our civil liberties. The White House will paint opponents as weak-kneed liberals who do not understand and cannot stand up to the threat of terrorism.

The bill is not a compromise. The final details are being worked out, but all indications are that many of its provisions are both unnecessary and a threat to the Bill of Rights. The White House and the Congressional Republicans who support the bill have two real aims. They want to undermine the power of the courts to review the legality of domestic spying programs. And they want to give a legal shield to the telecommunications companies that broke the law by helping Mr. Bush carry out his warrantless wiretapping operation.

Democratic leadership in the House has caved on this bill because a handful of Blue Dog Democrats, including Iowa's Leonard Boswell.
A potential revolt by a group of Democrats pressed party leaders into compromising on a rewrite of electronic surveillance rules that could come to a House vote by week’s end, a top Democrat said Wednesday.
The House will vote on this tomorrow. If you live in Iowa's 3rd district, call Leonard Boswell and tell Telecom companies should not get immunity for breaking the law and ask him to vote against this bill.
Rep. Leonard L. Boswell, D-Iowa -- Phone: (202) 225-3806

Wesley Clark Takes on McCain

The main reason Wesley Clark should be Obama's vice president is that he can go toe to toe with any Republican on foreign policy issues.

Clark did just that last week on MSNBC's Morning Joe by going after McCain...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Independents Turned Off by an Obama/Clinton Ticket

Quinnipiac released a poll today that shows Barack Obama winning Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania over John McCain.

The most interesting numbers, however, were about an Obama/Clinton ticket.

While Democrats support the idea, independent voters in each state say Obama should not choose Sen. Clinton as his vice presidential running mate. Results are:

  • Florida: Democrats want Clinton on the ticket 57 - 33 percent while Republicans are opposed 59 - 17 percent and independents oppose it 46 - 37 percent;
  • Ohio: Democrats want Clinton for Vice President 58 - 31 percent, but Republicans say no 60 - 19 percent and independents turn thumbs down 47 - 31 percent;
  • Pennsylvania: Democrats say yes to Clinton 60 - 31 percent, while Republicans say no 63 - 20 percent and independents nix the idea 49 - 36 percent.

"If Sen. Obama seriously is thinking about picking Sen. Clinton as his running mate, these numbers might cause him to reconsider. The people who really matter come November - independent voters - turn thumbs down on the idea. And, many say they are less likely to vote for him if he puts her on the ticket," Brown added.

Why Richardson Should Not Be Obama's VP

Ezra Klein takes a look at Bill Richardson as a possible Vice President candidate. He concludes that it is a bad idea.

And that's the problem with Richardson: It's hard to trust him as president. He's incoherent on domestic policy, fuzzy on foreign policy, and clearly doesn't know anything about the Courts. During the primary, I was told by someone who worked with him that the campaign had outsourced most of its policy to a group called Policy Works -- which means he wasn't even interested enough in policy to have an in-house shop.

That's not to say Richardson has no virtues, or nothing to recommend him. He's a good campaigner. During the primary, he staked out sharply progressive positions on global warming and Iraq. His negotiating skills are arguably unparalleled. But part of thinking through vice presidential choices is figuring out who would be a good president. And it's hard to conclude that Richardson has the heft to fill that role, or even get through the campaign without embarrassing Obama.

Why Richardson Should be Obama's VP

Barack Obama has the ability to create a new map of blue states and red states. He puts a lot more states in play for Democrats to win this election than in years past.

Names of possible vice presidents, such as Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell are being mentioned by people who are only looking at the old map where Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida are the battleground states Democrats must win.

This story from last month about Obama targeting the Hispanic vote in the Mountain West tells the reason why Bill Richardson should be Barack Obama's vice president.

Polls released last week by Rasmussen Reports found Obama beating McCain in Colorado, 48 percent to 42 percent, and in New Mexico, 50 percent to 41 percent. McCain held the edge in Nevada, 46 percent to 40 percent.

Bush lost New Mexico by 366 votes in 2000, and won it four years later by only 6,000 votes.

Nevada has proved similarly competitive, with Bush winning the state both times by less than four percentage points.

In Colorado, Bush’s margin of nine percentage points in 2000 dipped to five points in 2004. Democrats have since won a Senate seat, the governor’s office, two congressional districts and control of the state legislature.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Obama Leads in Ohio by 11%

Many have questioned how well Obama would do among working class voters in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

A new poll released today by Public Policy shows Barack Obama leading John McCain in Ohio by 11%. This is a 19% swing since March.

CandidateJune 14-15March 15-17

What Obama Needs in a Vice President

The most important thing that Obama needs to consider when looking for a VP is foreign policy experience. Obama was attacked during the primary for not having enough experience and he will be attacked for this in the general election even more. However, if Obama picks a VP that has a ton of foreign policy experience, but voted for the war in Iraq then it would totally undercut Obama's message that judgement matters more than experience.

It would be helpful for the VP to put more states in play. A quality VP choice should give Obama a chance to win a few states in the Mountain West or Southwest or the mid-Atlantic regions.

It would be a plus for the VP to be viewed as a Washington outsider, as it would strengthen Obama's message of changing Washington.

Knowing that it would difficult to find a VP candidate that meets all of those, I think there are 4 names that bring the most to the table...

  • Joe Biden
  • Wesley Clark
  • Bill Richardson
  • Jim Webb
What do you think?

The Uprising

I have been reading The Uprising by David Sirota. Sirota was on PBS's NOW last week to discuss the book.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lennox to Cut 250 Jobs in Marshalltown

On Saturday the Marshalltown Time Republican reported that Lennox Manufacturing plans to cut 250 jobs in Marshalltown. 150 employees will be laid off in August and 100 more will be layed off later in the year.

In 2004, Lennox agreed to a 4 year deal from the Iowa Values Fund to keep jobs in Marshalltown.

Turning to state government, the Iowa Department of Economic Development’s (IDED) Iowa Values Fund Board is trying to save the jobs of 1,100 workers at the Lennox International plant in Marshalltown by providing $6.6 million in assistance to the company.

Of the money, $1.6 million will be used to train Lennox workers in advanced manufacturing to make the company’s operations more competitive for further investment.

The remaining funding, $5 million, is a forgivable loan to help pay for an $18.5 million upgrade to the facility, which includes new machinery and equipment, during the next four years.

The state ended up giving Lennox $6.6 million over 4 years and now at the end of agreement, Lennox is cutting almost a quarter of the workforce in Marshalltown. This is exactly why the Iowa Values Fund is a terrible program. At the end of the agreement, the state has nothing to show from its $6.6 million investment.

Drive 55 and Save Money

Slow down the next time you're driving on the highway.

A statistic that can save you money: fuel economy by speed.

15 mph - 24.4 mpg
20 mph - 27.9 mpg
25 mph - 30.5 mpg
30 mph - 31.7 mpg
35 mph - 31.2 mpg
40 mph - 31.0 mpg
45 mph - 31.6 mpg
50 mph - 32.4 mpg
55 mph - 32.4 mpg

60 mph - 31.4 mpg
65 mph - 29.2 mpg
70 mph - 26.8 mpg
75 mph - 24.8 mpg

(Adapted from Table 4.22, "Fuel Economy by Speed, 1973, 1984, and 1997 Studies (miles per gallon)", Transportation Energy Data Book: Edition 26-2007, U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

That means you save about $12 per hour on a freeway going 55 instead of 65, and only lose about 10 minutes. Compared to 75 mph, the savings are much higher. So if you don't have to get anywhere fast, drive 55 (or 50)! Use less gas and pollute less, compared with faster speeds.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Obama, McCain, and Taxes

The Washington Post put this graph together to show the amount of tax cuts people in different income brackets would receive from John McCain's and Barack Obama's economic plans.

According to a new analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain are both proposing tax plans that would result in cuts for most American families. Obama's plan gives the biggest cuts to those who make the least, while McCain would give the largest cuts to the very wealthy.

CNN took a look at this study in this report...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Obama Fills Sandbags to Help Flood Victims, McCain Issues Statement

Good for Barack...

In Quincy, Illinois, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama joined volunteers and filled sandbags to hold back the Mississippi River. Republican presidential candidate John McCain issued a statement expressing sympathy for the flood victims.
Here are some pictures of Obama helping fill sandbags.

Obama is organizing his supporters on his website to help with flood relief.

McCain Debates Himself About Running for Bush's Third Term

This video was made for Stephen Colbert's Make John McCain Interesting green screen challenge.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Obama Beats McCain in the Hispanic Vote

During the Democratic Primary, the media talked about Obama's troubles with Hispanic voters.

However, this NBC/Wall St. Journal poll released yesterday shows Barack Obama beating John McCain among Hispanic voters 62% to 28%. According to exit polls from 2004, John Kerry won the Hispanic vote 53% to 44%.

That increase in support could swing some states in the Southwest to Obama...

"That does not bode well for Republicans" in the Southwest, the Republican pollster added, in swing states such as Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, where Hispanic voters are numerous enough to tip the result. Sen. McCain, who comes from a state with a large Hispanic population and has favored liberalizing policies toward illegal immigrants, has hopes of matching Mr. Bush's record of winning more than 40% of Hispanic voters.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Friends With Benefits

I saw this story on ABC the other night...

An organization that promotes sexual abstinence for teens received a federal grant of over a million dollars, twice what it had requested, despite the skepticism Department of Justice staffers had about the group and the fact that it refused to participate in a congressionally mandated study.

So why did the Best Friends Foundation receive the grant from the Justice Department’s juvenile justice office even though dozens of competing organizations were rated higher by the office’s own reviewers? Current and former staffers say it was because of Best Friends’ powerful president and founder, Elayne Bennett.

Not only is Bennett the wife of Bill Bennett, a former Reagan and Bush administration official and conservative political commentator, but she is also personally close to the chief administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), J. Robert Flores.

DOJ staffers were deeply skeptical when Best Friends applied for a grant of around a half-million dollars last summer. For one thing, the organization had backed out of a congressionally mandated study to examine whether or not abstinence programs are effective.

Then there were the DOJ staffers own internal reviews, which placed Best Friends behind dozens of other competing organizations. Out of 104 grants in their category, Best Friends ranked 53rd.

Nothing like being able to call up a friend when you're in need of a favor.

Iowa Democratic Party State Convention is Postponed

Just found out that the Iowa Democratic Party State Convention scheduled for Saturday in Des Moines has been postponed due flooding across the state. A robo call is going out to all delegates and alternates. No word on when the convention will be rescheduled.

Obama Widens Lead In Iowa According to New Poll

Rasmussen released a new poll today showing Barack Obama has widened his lead in Iowa.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the Hawkeye State finds Obama leading John McCain 45% to 38%. This is the fourth Rasmussen poll in the state and Obama had a two to four point edge in each of the earlier polls. A month ago, Obama was up by just two percentage points.
Kos takes a closer look at the polling numbers and his conclusion is great news for Iowa Democrats...
That's a 12-point swing in Obama's direction with women, and a 14-point swing among Democrats. There's still plenty of room for Obama to grow, as he continues working to unite the party. Considering these trends, Obama will put away Iowa early.

Go Ahead, Vote Republican

My favorite, though I'll admit that I am a little biased...

I'm voting Republican so that my little Caitlin can be in the classroom with at least 30 other children. That way she can be challenged by fighting for attention.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It's All About Turnout in the General Election

From MSNBC's First Read...

Using the 2004 results as a baseline, we were curious as to which states would swing to Obama if he does raise overall turnout by 20% (approximately another 22 million voters) and wins those new voters by a 60%-40% split. Assuming an even distribution -- which we know is potentially a flaw in this estimate, so back off! -- a 20% turnout increase breaking 60%-40% for Obama would swing four states from red to blue (Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada, and Ohio). If Obama wins the new voters by a 65%-35% margin, two more states come over (Colorado and Florida), with another (Virginia) essentially too close too call.
Winning new voters by a 60%-40% split is definitely doable in Iowa if the same trend from the Iowa caucuses holds, where Democrats gained 60,000 registrants and Republicans gained just 7,600. That means it is all about turnout turnout in the general election.

High turnout will surely help Democrats down ballot in state house races and for county seats.

The Candidate You'd Want to Have a Beer With

Well, it's definitely not John McCain.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Marshall County Plans to Ban Plastic Bags

I have been frustrated with how reactionary local government is here in Marshalltown and Marshall County. So lets just say that I was surprised to see this story in the Des Moines Register this morning.

Marshall County officials say they intend to pass a first-in-Iowa ordinance that mandates the use of only biodegradable bags for customer purchases in retail stores.

Merchants who violate the ordinance would faces fines of up to $500 for repeat offenses.

"We have hundreds of plastic bags that find their way into farm fields and bushes and trees," said county Supervisor Patrick Brooks, who got the idea from a public television documentary on fish in Africa that mysteriously died. Researchers found the fish had eaten small pieces of plastic.

"This is a major concern, these types of issues, and we're just now starting to address them," Brooks said.

The proposal has met early skepticism from retailers who worry about the added cost.

"I really don't see how they can force someone do that," said Stan Groth of Haley's Grocery in Marshalltown, a third-generation family business.

The ordinance would also prohibit paper bags that are not recyclable.
A lot of attention is put on national issues, but this shows what electing Democrats to local position can accomplish. Republicans had dominated the County Supervisor seats in Marshall County for years. In 2006, Democrat Patrick Brooks was elected. Since then Marshall County has adopted a wind turbine ordinance to encourage small wind turbines throughout the county and now this ordinance. Both are progressive, forward looking actions.


With gas prices topping $4 a gallon, it is important to know that the way you drive can have a huge effect on your gas mileage.

Hypermiling is drastically modifying your driving habits to fuel efficiency on their vehicles. There are people who have made a sport out of doing just this, sometimes without regard to safety or traffic laws. You don't need to be that hardcore though, to see savings at the gas pump.

Here are some steps from

The first step toward saving gas and increasing mpg: Always know your gas mileage after each visit to the gas pump.

The second step: do you drive agressively but not know it?

The third step: How long are you sitting still at red lights? Video

The fourth step: Keeping yourself moving in traffic congestion

The fifth step: Slowly accelerate after stops

The sixth step: Your cruise control saves gas (but not by using it they way you might think)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Obama Expanding the Map

Polls show that Barack Obama expands the electoral map and puts some usual red states in play. You can see which of these red states the Obama campaign are targeting by looking at the first states Obama is traveling to since clinching the nomination.

From the NY Times...

On Monday, Mr. Obama will travel to North Carolina — a state that has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in 32 years — to start a two-week tour of speeches, town hall forums and other appearances intended to highlight differences with Mr. McCain on the economy. From there, he heads to Missouri, which last voted for a Democrat in 1996. His first campaign swing after securing the Democratic presidential nomination last week was to Virginia, which last voted Democratic in 1964.
On top of that Obama will be in Iowa on Wednesday, showing that they consider Iowa to be a battleground state once again this election.

It's All the Kids Fault

The Bush Administration is blaming students for the high unemployment rate recently released for the month of May.

Today’s increase in the unemployment rate reflects the fact that unusually large numbers of students and graduates are entering the labor market.
I highly doubt that the first thing students did upon graduating was head to the unemployment office.

And who gave these kids the idea that they'd be able to get a job after they graduated?

Senator Rahm Emanuel?

Robert Novak is reporting that Nancy Pelosi is privately backing Rahm Emanuel as Barack Obama's replacement in the Senate if Obama is elected President.

At first glance, I thought this was a horrible idea. Emanuel would definitely not be considered a progressive Democrat and was in opposition to Howard Dean's 50 state strategy.

Chris Bowers, however, says Emanuel moving to the Senate might be a good thing for Progressives.

I am not ready to jump on Pelosi for this, for several reasons:

  1. It simply might not be true.
  2. Moving Emanuel out of the House would also take him out of the House leadership. Rahm Emanuel is one of the few people who would actually lose power by moving to the Senate. As such, such a move would be fine with me.
  3. Moving Emanuel out of the House would open up the potential for a progressive, post-Pelosi speaker. Sure, Hoyer is listed here as a successor to Pelosi, but he is actually one year older than Pelosi. Clyburn is the same age as Pelosi. As such, right now Emanuel, who is 19 years younger than Pelosi and Clyburn, is clearly in line to be Speaker, starting sometime in the middle of next decade.
  4. Moving Emanuel out of the House would open up the potential for a progressive replacement in his House seat. Back in 2002, he narrowly won his primary against a grassroots progressive, from what I understand.
  5. In 2010, if he were in the Senate, Emanuel would undoubtedly receive multiple primary challenges for his seat, at least one of whom would probably be progressive. So, his place in the Senate would not even be a guarantee.

McCain Has No Solution to the Energy Crisis

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Barack Obama's long term solution to the energy crisis by investing in mass transit and alternative modes of transportation.

While Obama's plan is forward thinking, John McCain's plan goes backwards when it comes to investing in mass transit.

Then there's John McCain. Well, Sen. McCain doesn't have too much to say when it comes to national transit objectives (we suppose it's a case of 'if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all'). But if there's one thing that we do know, it's that McCain hates Amtrak - at least in its current state. The Arizona Senator has been attempting for years to dissolve Amtrak and create small, privately owned rail companies. In fact, McCain has sworn that if elected, the shuttering of Amtrak would be a "a non-negotiable issue."

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Change vs More of the Same

Death of the SUV

I send my condolences...

Dearly beloved. We gather here today to mourn the demise of the sport utility vehicle, or "SUV" as its friends liked to call it.

The gas-guzzler lived a full life, driving in the fast lane from the 1990s to the mid-2000s. Alas, it fell ill a few years ago and never recovered. And really, we can't say the death came as a surprise. For years, folks complained about the environmental impact of low-mileage vehicles. Over time, those voices grew louder, but still the SUV fought on, proudly taking up two parking spaces and scaring hybrids from its lane.

But then, gas prices soared and the SUV's vital signs plummeted. As much as people love large cars, the costs to keep fuel in the tank proved too much to take. As the New York Times reported, it now costs $100k to own and keep a similarly inefficient full size pickup running for five years. And so people pulled the plug on their trucks and SUVs, taking the beleaguered vehicles off life support and into the museum of dead car fads.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Lack of Posts

I am sorry for the lack of posts the past few days. Sometimes blogging can wear on you.

I will be back posting a lot more tomorrow.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Obama: DNC Will Not Take Money from Lobbyists or PAC's

Obama at a campaign event in Virginia today...

I've sent a strong signal in this campaign by refusing the contributions of registered federal lobbyists and PACs, and today, I'm announcing that going forward, the Democratic National Committee will uphold the same standard and won't take another dime from Washington lobbyists or special interest PACs. They do not fund my campaign. They will not fund our party. And they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I'm President of the United States.

Obama at the SEIU Convention

I just don't see how working class voters will vote for McCain over Obama. Obama spoke at the SEIU convention yesterday and had some great remarks about working people.

Politics didn't lead me to working folks - working folks led me to politics. - Barack Obama 6/4/08

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Races I am Watching Tonight

Tonight will decide the winner of a lot of primary races. John Deeth wrote a great run down of the contested Democratic and Republican primaries at Iowa Independent.

Here are the top 5 races that I will be keeping an eye on (with Deeth's great analysis)....

5. House District 19

Republican Chuck Gipp is retiring and four Democrats are seeking the open seat nomination. Three Decorah Democrats see an opportunity here: 2006 candidate (41%) Tom Hansen, 2004 Senate candidate (45%) John Beard, and John Franzen. The fourth Democrat is Allamakee County Supervisor Lennie Burke, of Dorchester. The winner will face Republican Decorah City Council member Randy Schissel.
4. Senate District 42
Davenport alderman Shawn Hamerlinck is favored for the GOP nomination. Republicans have touted Hamerlinck as one of the strongest challengers. His opponent, Lowe's manager and autism advocate Thomas Black, is running on an anti-smoking ban platform and refusing campaign donations. The winner will challenge Democratic incumbent Frank Wood in a competitive seat.
3. Iowa House District 69
Party loyalty is an issue in this big-spending race. Al Lorenzen of Granger, a former Hawkeye hoops player, says he was recruited to both the race and the Republican Party by former Governor Bob Ray. He's being bashed for his past Democratic affiliation by Erik Helland of Grimes, who has the requisite Iowa Right to Life and Iowans for Tax Relief backing. Unless a Democratic candidate emerges in this district, the winner will take over from retiring GOP incumbent Walt Tomenga.
2. Iowa House District 42
Teamsters leader Matt Ballard is challenging incumbent Rep. Geri Huser in the Altoona-based district. In a left-right fight, Ballard is emphasizing health care and labor-backed "fair share" legislation, while Huser is focused on economic delevopment.
1. Iowa House District 10
Three Democrats want to challenge first-term Rep. Dave Deyoe of Nevada, who beat Democrat Susan Radke by about 700 votes in 2006. Radke is running again; she'll see a primary against Josh Eaton, an IBEW member, and 20 year old Roland mayor Sam Juhl, who got national attention when he was elected mayor of Roland at age 18 in 2005.
The Secretary of State will have election results posted at their website.

WHO has by far the best election returns.

IA-03: Turnout High in Des Moines

Dave Price at WHO is reporting that turnout is much higher than expected in Polk Co. and in Des Moines, where 70% of the excepted vote will come from.

Looks like the 3rd District is stirred up a bit about this Leonard Boswell-Ed Fallon race. Polk Co Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald says turnout may approach 2006's level. Big deal, you might say? Well, it kind of is. In 2006 you'll remember we had the 3-way Democratic primary between Fallon, Chet Culver and Mike Blouin.
Fallon won that primary in Polk Co. against 2 well funded candidates that had the support from party insiders.

Price says that where turnout is high at will tell which candidate is helped out. However, I don't think people turnout in high numbers to support an incumbent with a big lead in the polls. People turnout in high numbers to vote for change and to vote against something, something like a congress with a crappy approval rating.

Obama Officially Clinches Nomination

From MyDD, via the AP...

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Barack Obama effectively clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, based on an Associated Press tally of convention delegates, becoming the first black candidate ever to lead his party into a fall campaign for the White House.

Campaigning on an insistent call for change, Obama outlasted former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in a historic race that sparked record turnout in primary after primary, yet exposed deep racial divisions within the party.

The AP tally was based on public commitments from delegates as well as more than a dozen private commitments. It also included a minimum number of delegates Obama was guaranteed even if he lost the final two primaries in South Dakota and Montana later in the day.

It's about time. Now we can focus on McCain.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Vilsack: Obama is Going to be the Nominee

From Political Wire...

"It does appear to be pretty clear that Senator Obama is going to be the nominee. After Tuesday's contests, she needs to acknowledge that he's going to be the nominee and quickly get behind him."

-- Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, a national co-chairman of Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign, quoted by the Associated Press.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Fallon Stood Up Against Iraq Invasion, Boswell Did Not

If you want to boil the Democratic primary race in the 3rd District down to one issue, it would be the Iraq War.

Ed Fallon has opposed the Iraq invasion from the start and has strongly opposed the war at every chance. When serving in the Iowa House, Rep. Fallon co-sponsored HR 17, along with 20 other Democrats, which called the President to not make a preemptive, unilateral attack against Iraq. Fallon had the judgement to know that invading Iraq would destablize the Middle East, hamper our efforts of bringing Osama bin Laden to justice, and would cost trillions of dollars and cause further federal budget deficits. Fallon has since signed on to the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq.

Leonard Boswell, on the other hand, voted in favor of the war in Iraq and was a strong supporter of the Bush administration's failed policy up until he learned that Fallon was going to run against him. Boswell began to support an end to the war in Iraq in December, after it was becoming clear that Fallon was preparing to challenge him.

In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Boswell still uses Bush's untruthful arguments for going to war in Iraq.

On Tuesday, Democrats in Iowa's 3rd District have a choice. They can vote for someone to represent them who has the judgement to make the tough decisions and wants to bring new energy to Congress or they can vote for someone who clings to the past and only changes when they are forced to do so.

Thank your Children for your Economic Stimulus Check

Make sure to thank your children for your economic stimulus check because they will be the ones that will be paying it back.

Whichever way you look at it, both the U.S. and U.K. governments are handing their citizens cash that was borrowed—and the citizens themselves are liable for the debt. If my bank manager arranged a surprise loan in my name and handed me the cash, I might feel pampered or put-upon, depending on whether I was planning to take out the loan myself anyway. Either way, doubt I would feel any richer. ...

Who will be the fall guy? We don't know for sure because we can't say whom a future government will tax. But an obvious candidate would be today's teenagers, very few of whom pay income tax today but most of whom will pay income tax in the next few years. Their best hope is that their grandparents add the tax windfall to their bequests rather than blowing the money on a weekend in the sun.