The Herald-Dispatch |

I Have Issues (A Political Blog)
Coverage and opinion of political and social issues, as well as commentary on local, state and world news and coverage of the ongoing 2008 political campaign.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Interesting ad from that ketchup guy

I notice after the TV ad for Democratic Supreme Court hopeful Menis Ketchum moves past the segment offering cutesy takes on how to pronounce his name, the narrator says he'll restore integrity to the court.

Usually when someone makes that claim, it's a veiled reference to a current controversy.

In this case the big one involving the court is the ties to Massey CEO Blankenship of Justices Maynard and Benjamin.

The ad doesn't mention Blankenship, though.

Wonder why?

From the Daily Mail in February:

At least two candidates for the state Supreme Court - Beth Walker and Menis Ketchum -met with Massey Energy chief Don Blankenship prior to filing for the election this year.


Scorched Earth to continue

Patrick Leahy, one of the top Democrats in the Senate, called on Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race, noting that her campaign is hurting Democratic prospects for the fall:

"Senator Clinton has every right, but not a very good reason, to remain a candidate for as long as she wants to. As far as the delegate count and the interests of a Democratic victory in November go, there is not a very good reason for drawing this out. But as I have said before, that is a decision that only she can make," Leahy said in the statement.

Today, Clinton cited this poll when discussing why she's staying in.

Twenty-two percent (22%) of Democratic voters nationwide say that Hillary Clinton should drop out of the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination. However, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that an identical number--22%--say that Barack Obama should drop out.

Rasmussen's results are not surprising. The media has been portraying the Democratic contest as a neck-and-neck horse race and not mentioning the fact that, mathematically, Clinton can't win. It's understandable that voters would see no reason for a candidate who supposedly has an equal shot at the nomination to drop out.

Politico summed it up well last week;

In other words: The notion of the Democratic contest being a dramatic cliffhanger is a game of make-believe.

The real question is why so many people are playing. The answer has more to do with media psychology than with practical politics.

Journalists have become partners with the Clinton campaign in pretending that the contest is closer than it really is. Most coverage breathlessly portrays the race as a down-to-the-wire sprint between two well-matched candidates, one only slightly better situated than the other to win in August at the national convention in Denver.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sen. Byrd featured in Donahue's Iraq War film

Excerpted from Amy Goodman's latest:

Tomas Young was one of those injured, on April 4, 2004, in Sadr City. Young is the subject of a new feature documentary by legendary TV talk-show host Phil Donahue and filmmaker Ellen Spiro, called “Body of War.” In it, Young describes the incident that has left him paralyzed from the chest down:


The film documents his struggle, coping with severe paralysis and life in a wheelchair, its impact on his psyche, his wrecked marriage, his family and his political development from military enlistee into a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Donahue has his own personal link to the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. It was just weeks before the invasion that his nightly program, MSNBC’s top-rated show, was canceled. As revealed shortly thereafter in a leaked memo, Donahue presented a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war. He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration’s motives … at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.”


“Body of War” depicts the personal cost of war. In one of the most moving scenes in the film, Young meets Sen. Robert Byrd, the longest-serving senator, with the most votes cast in Senate history (more than 18,000). Byrd said his “no” vote on the Iraq war resolution was the most important of his life. Young helps him read the names of the 23 senators who voted against the war resolution. Byrd reflects: “The immortal 23. Our founders would be so proud.” Turning to Young, he says: “Thank you for your service. Man, you’ve made a great sacrifice. You served your country well.” Young replies, “As have you, sir.”


"Body of War" Web site can be found by clicking here.

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Off topic Thursday

This one takes me back to 10th grade...


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

UC to host famed television psychic Bill Kristol

Bill Kristol, son of conservative leader Irving Kristol, is coming to the University of Charleston.

From a press release:

Bill Kristol, Editor of the influential Washington-based political magazine, The Weekly Standard, will appear at the University of Charleston as part of UC’s Speaker Series sponsored by Dow Chemical at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, in Riggleman Hall’s Geary Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Kristol's Miss Cleo-like powers have given him the ability to make such amazing observations as these:

Kristol on April 4, 2003:

“There’s been a certain amount of pop sociology in America … that the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular.”

Kristol on April 28, 2003:

The United States committed itself to defeating terror around the world. We committed ourselves to reshaping the Middle East, so the region would no longer be a hotbed of terrorism, extremism, anti-Americanism, and weapons of mass destruction. The first two battles of this new era are now over. The battles of Afghanistan and Iraq have been won decisively and honorably.

Kristol on Sept. 18, 2002:

A war with Iraq “could have terrifically good effects throughout the Middle East.”

Courtesy of William K. Wolfrum, whose piece, " If Bill Kristol can get a job at Time Magazine, so should a bad golf prognosticator," at is a must-read.

Kristol is also one of the heads of Project for a new America Century, a conservative group who pushed for war with Iraq long before 9-11. The group said the process of transforming America into the foreign policy player they dreamed of would be a long process, "absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.”

So they had no problem linking Iraq to 9-11 in their push for war. When crisis struck, they saw opportunity.

Bill Maher had a good take on Kristol:

And now Mr. Kristol proposes immediate action against Iran predicting the Iranians will thank us for it. Hey, you know what, Nostradamus, why don’t you sit this one out? We’ll get by using the magic 8-ball for a while, because you guys have been so wrong about so much for so long that people are actually turning to the Democrats.

Surely UC and Dow Chemical can provide students with intellectual stimulation from a better source than a guy with such a dishonest track record. Or is a man who's had to run retractions to his NY Times column twice in the first six months their idea of someone students should look up to?

Will UC also book someone who actually got it right on the war like Scott Ritter or Hans Blix? You know, those guys who had this crazy notion that there were no WMDs and that the inspectors had destroyed the stockpiles?

Or what about the commentators who knew what they were talking about prior to invasion like Amy Goodman or Phil Donahue?

And lest I forget, the man Kristol's been wanting for president since before 2000? John McCain.

Kind of makes McCain's sabre-rattling against Iran look a bit more ominous, doesn't it?

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Recommended reading: Juan Cole

I was introduced to this guy from his appearances on the Sam Seder Show.

Juan Cole is President of the Global Americana Institute. If you tire of having the situation in Iraq broken down in empty terms of "us" vs. "Islamofascists" and want thorough, insightful and truthful analysis of news from Iraq that actually gives you the background on the ethic factions and players involved, this is your guy.

His blog, "Informed Consent" can be found here.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

For the global warming deniers

This has been predicted for years. Now it's happened.

Will the rightwing commentators, who like to use the intellectually dishonest technique of cherry-picking scattered reports of record snows in their effort to "prove" warming is not taking place, mention this one?

Don't hold your breath.

From AP (The bold is key):

WASHINGTON -- A chunk of Antarctic ice about seven times the size of Manhattan suddenly collapsed, putting an even greater portion of glacial ice at risk, scientists said Tuesday.

Scientists flocked to take pictures and shoot video after a massive chunk of the Wilkins ice shelf collapsed in Antarctica.

Satellite images show the runaway disintegration of a 160-square-mile chunk in western Antarctica, which started February 28. It was the edge of the Wilkins ice shelf and has been there for hundreds, maybe 1,500 years.

This is the result of global warming, said British Antarctic Survey scientist David Vaughan.


Monday, March 24, 2008


As the 4,000th American soldier dies in Iraq, Sen. Robert C. Byrd reflects on the war:

As we mark this painful milestone, we must ask ourselves: what is the moral
justification for allowing this war to continue? Can we honestly say that the
disastrous mission in Iraq warrants the sacrifice of more of our troops and the
heartache and loss that so many loved ones continue to suffer?

In March of 2003, just prior to the invasion of Iraq, I made a final plea to the
administration and my colleagues in Congress to avert a war that I believed
would reap sorrowful consequences for our nation. In a speech entitled "We Stand
Passively Mute", I expressed my outrage at the fact that the United States
Senate -- the world's greatest deliberative body -- stood "for the most
part-silent-ominously, dreadfully silent" on this monumental question.

Sadly, my worst fears have been realized. The decision to invade Iraq may go
down as one of the gravest foreign policy blunders in our nation's

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Don't play this

If you do, I apologize.

But is it for real?

However, this one's great

My conversation with Jeff Cohen

My interview with Jeff Cohen is up over at WVaBlue. Here's an excerpt:

Jeff Cohen is the founder of Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting and the author of the 1995 book "The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error" one of the first investigations into the inaccuracies of conservative talk radio.
He was the producer of MSNBC's "Donahue"program in 2003, but his time at the network was cut short when the show was canceled. An internal memo from network heads showed that the program was axed for opposing the war with Iraq, despite the fact that it was MSNBC's number one show at the time.
His book, "Cable News Confidential," tells the story of his experience as an on-air pundit at the cable networks.

In most "conservative vs. liberal" debates on cable TV, they often take a hard-right, activist conservative and pair them with a centrist, establishment Democrat. As a result, the debate frame is limited to the center-right. Do you think this is an intentional effort or are the producers of these programs simply ignorant as to what an actual liberal is?

It's more of the former. It's more a conscious effort to construct a spectrum that would comfort those at the top of the media and those in our political elite. I think they understand that a center-right spectrum won't get them into trouble with corporate sponsors and won't get them in trouble with the Bush administration.
It was constructed during the Reagan era. I've been talking about this issue since the 80s. It's not a new thing. It didn't begin with "Hannity and Colmes" on FOX news. The major factor is this is their comfort level - these are their beltway friends. Their idea of the American spectrum is the rightwing of the Democratic Party and the rightwing of the Republican Party and thereby excludes close to 50 percent of the country.
I think it's mostly a conscious, semi-conscious "This is the establishment spectrum and this is the spectrum we're going to put on our channel." A slight percentage of the problem is just their ignorance, but mostly it's going to their comfort level. They're going to the establishment voices that are funded by corporations on both sides - the Democratic voices that are corporate friendly and the Republican voices that are corporate-friendly.
It's rare on TV that you see a pundit that is firmly aligned with the labor movement. I was one and I was a huge exception. Very rarely do you pundit on TV, a regular pundit, who sees himself aligned with the peace and justice movement. I was one of those and one of the only ones. But on TV, you see all sorts of pundits that are aligned with the rightwing movement. Patrick Buchanan has been on American television day after day for 25 years.
Read the rest here.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

The New Deal turns 75

This month marks the 75th anniversary of The New Deal. Kind of timely, as we're looking for a way out of another depression.

And just like 1929, we're looking at another economic downturn caused by a generation's worth of conservative economic policies of deregulation and Wall Street running free of public safeguards like labor, environmental and consumer standards.

You surely won't hear about this milestone from our media conglomerates. The legions of rightwing commentators dominating cable news have spent the last 28 years glorifying the corporatist scheme of conservative economics that began with Ronald Reagan.

Recalling FDR's policies might not be something they'd want to have burst their Gipper-idolizing bubble.

What's even more disturbing is the lack of mention given to the anniversary by Democratic Party leaders. You'd think the most popular president in the party's history (and one who frequently makes the top 3 in historians' greatest presidents lists) might be someone they want to look up to and learn from.

But after a generation of leadership by the conservative Democratic Leadership Council and its "me, too" approach to pandering to big business, the party has been running away from Roosevelt's sensible policies. Abandoning FDR-style liberalism led to the loss of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years. Still there are apologists for the conservative approach like James Carville and the Clinton team of advisers who try to scare the rank-and-file into shying away from the values of the Left.

Thankfully, with the rejection of Hillary Clinton's candidacy, it looks like things might be swinging back to a grassroots approach to Democratic politics.

The Nation has an excellent piece on Roosevelt's legacy and why The New Deal still matters:

Poll after poll, after all, shows that Americans are ready for more government of the kind the New Deal represents--more caring, more equitable, more willing to counterbalance the private power of corporations and concentrated wealth--and they are, frankly, tired of GOP pieties (and invective) about high taxes, big government and endless deficits. (Quick quiz for your conservative relative: who was the last Republican President to actually balance the budget? Answer: Eisenhower.) By twenty-point margins or more, voters are telling pollsters they trust Democrats over Republicans to tackle the big issues of our time.

This tectonic shift in public opinion today isn't the only good reason for celebrating what Roosevelt did. Most historians, after all, rank him as the greatest of our modern Presidents. And for Democrats, constantly fretting about "electability," he is the only President to have been elected four times. So he must have done something right--something we can learn from and use in this new century.

Historian Howard Zinn says The New Deal was a result of nationwide organizing at the grassroots level and calls for another such effort.

How refreshing it would be if a presidential candidate reminded us of the experience of the New Deal and defied the corporate elite as Roosevelt did, on the eve of his 1936 re-election. Referring to the determination of the wealthy classes to defeat him, he told a huge crowd at Madison Square Garden: “They are unanimous in their hatred for me–and I welcome their hatred.” I believe that a candidate who showed such boldness would win a smashing victory at the polls.
The innovations of the New Deal were fueled by the militant demands for change that swept the country as FDR began his presidency: the tenants’ groups; the Unemployed Councils; the millions on strike on the West Coast, in the Midwest and the South; the disruptive actions of desperate people seeking food, housing, jobs–the turmoil threatening the foundations of American capitalism. We will need a similar mobilization of citizens today, to unmoor from corporate control whoever becomes President. To match the New Deal, to go beyond it, is an idea whose time has come.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Obama in Beckley

Went to see Obama in Beckley yesterday.

My estimate of the crowd was about 3,000. A good mix of ages, gender and ethnicities. Lots of young people. Obama was introduced by Jay and Sharon Rockefeller.

Sen. Rockefeller said to expect more Obama visits to southern WV and the state in the month leading up to the WV primary.

Obama's effectiveness as a speaker is something that has to be seen in person. Quick on his feet and informal, he holds the crowd in the palm of his hand. The comparison to a rock concert is pretty accurate.

Some highlights:
- Asked about mountaintop removal during the Q&A by environmental activist, Larry Gibson, he said that the clean water act needs to be enforced, called for a balance between economic gain and preserving the environment and stressed the importance of being stewarts of the land and leaving it for future generations.
When I talked to them afterwards, MTR opponents seemed cautiously optimistic about his answer.

AP's take:

Beckley gave Obama a taste of the complexities of West Virginia politics when Chad Foreman of Fayetteville asked the candidate a question about mountaintop removal mining.
Obama’s answer didn’t give much red meat to either environmentalists or coal supporters, both of which had loud contingents in the audience.

He stressed the need for a balanced approach between environmental concern and preserving jobs.

“I’m not just going to take a bunch of contributions from the coal industry and do their bidding, any more than I would only listen to the environmentalists,” Obama said. “I want to listen to everybody.”

He did, though, come out in favor of clean coal technology, something many environmental activists find to be a misleading name.

- Pledged to sit down with West Virginia's Congressional delegation and work out a mine safety plan.

- Said that he would pay for his programs by ending the war, making the top 1% pay their fair share in taxes. Said he would use a pay-as-you-go approach, rather than the current administration's tactic borrowing from "The bank of China."

- Said that he would use force to strike enemies if necessary for defense, but would advocate more diplomacy in foreign affairs, with both friends and foes. As to the claim by Bush, McCain and Clinton that he can't meet with hostile nations, "Just watch me.," he said.

- On gas prices, said instability in the Mideast is a cause, but the "hard truth" is that the country hasn't developed an efficient energy policy since the 70s. Would invest more in renewable energy, raise fuel efficiency standards.

WVaBlue has a slideshow here.

Video of his answer to one of the energy questions here:

Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., waits behind the curtain to speak at a town hall meeting at Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center Arena in Beckley, W.V., Thursday, March 20, 2008.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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Meltdown at FOX

Even a rightwinger like Kilmeade has his limits.

From HuffPo:

Fox News' very own anchors are speaking out — and walking off — over what they perceive to be "Obama-bashing" on their network.

This morning on "Fox and Friends," Brian Kilmeade walked off the set after a dispute with his co-hosts Gretchen Carlson (she who celebrates deadly floods) and Steve Doocy over Obama's comment that his grandmother is a "typical white person." Kilmeade argued that the remark needed to be taken in context and eventually got so fed up with his co-hosts that he walked off set.

The race-baiting is in full swing at FOX. They've been looking for any excuse to portray Obama as "the black candidate" and are using the Pastor Wright media firestorm to try to scare their audience with every vile stereotype they can think of.

This came out of the mouth of Tom Sullivan of FOX Radio:

Is black America going to throw their hands up and say, "Man, you know, I thought we were getting somewhere in this country, but this is just a bunch of racial bigots in this country and they still hate blacks and, I mean, if Barack Obama can't get elected, then we're never gonna have anybody that's a black that's gonna be elected president." And will there be riots in the streets? I think the answer to that is yes and yes.

Fair and Balanced as always, eh?


A very merry belated off-topic Thursday to you

From time to time, I get critical feedback — from "Your blog is an Obama lovefest" to "What's wrong with Blankenship?"

But the one I hear the most is "All of this primary coverage is well and good, but what I really want from a political blog is a commercial for a defunct 1980s breakfast cereal starring some weird creature singing like Jimmy Durante."

Fret no more, dear reader.



Looks like John McCain aggressively sought that endorsement from nutjob televangelist John Hagee. At least that's how Hagee tells the story.

McCain has attempted to distance himself from some of Hagee's views, much as Barack Obama is doing in relation to Rev. Jeremiah Wright. But unlike McCain, Obama has not stood on stage with Wright and accepted his accolades this year.

Interviewed by Deborah Solomon, Hagee refused to discuss his statement that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for a gay rights parade in New Orleans, calling it "so far off-base." He claims, "Our church is not hard against the gay people. Our church teaches what the bible teaches, that it is not a righteous lifestyle. But of course we must love even sinners."

Count on a majority of those in the media tokeep giving the ol' "maverick" a pass.

And the man McCain hails as his spiritual adviser, nutty televangelist and faith healer Rod Parsley, has some interesting views.

Republican presidential hopeful, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks at a press conference with Rev. John Hagee, a televangelist from Cornerstone Church, and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in San Antonio, Texas, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Recommended reading: Five years later

Curt Guyette of The Metro Times in Detroit writes "The Left was Right."

They take no satisfaction in knowing that they were right in opposing this
ill-fated Iraq war from the outset. All they want is for people to listen to
them now.

And what they have to say is this: If we are ever going to get all of our
troops out, it will be because of pressure that starts at the grassroots level
and works its way up to the top of the political chain - not the other way

When the Bush administration was spewing its lies and the mainstream media
marched behind in lockstep, trumpeting myths about weapons of mass destruction
and fantasies about invading troops being greeted with tossed bouquets, members
of the peace movement were trying to warn us not to make what became a mistake
of epic proportions.

But America didn’t listen. The drumbeat for war was too loud, drowning out
the voices of opposition. Shoved to the margins, they were all but invisible.
When not being ignored by mainstream media they were on the receiving end of
ridicule from squawking chicken hawks.


Candidates on mountaintop removal

Faithfull at DailyKos has Hillary Clinton's answer on mountaintop removal.

Clinton on West Virginia Public Radio:

I am concerned about it for all the reasons people state, but I think its a
difficult question because of the conflict between the economic and
environmental trade-off that you have here.

I'm not an expert. I don't know enough to have an independent opinion, but I sure would like people who could be objective, understanding both the economic necessities and environmental damage to come up with some approach that would enable us to retrieve the coal but would enable us to do it in a way that wouldn't damage the living standards and the other important qualities associated with people living both under the mountaintop and people who are along the streams.

You know, maybe there is a way to recover those mountaintops once they have been stripped of the coal. You know, I think we've got to look at this from a practical perspective.


Obama spoke on the issue in an August 2007 stop in Kentucky:

He said the country also needs a forward-thinking energy policy, and he
alluded to his disapproval of the coal mining process of mountaintop

"We're tearing up the Appalachian Mountains because of our
dependence on fossil fuels," he said, sparking loud applause.

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Candidates in our region

As predicted, the W.Va. primary is in play for the first time in years.

Both Clinton and Obama are going to be around here for the next few days.

Clinton: First a town hall meeting at Capital High School in Charleston at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. The event is free and open to the public. Then she'll be in Huntington, where she'll talk with veterans at the American Legion Post 16 at 4:15 p.m.

Obama: First, he'll be in Charleston for a speech at 9:30 a.m. at the University of Charleston in the Geary Auditorium on Thursday. This event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Then he's headed to Beckley for a town hall meeting at 4:30p.m. at the Raleigh County Convention Center. This one's also free and open to the public, tickets required. (ticket info is on his site)

Update: Looks like Obama in Charleston tickets are gone, according to his WV campaign site:

There is confusion about the Charleston event. It is a much smaller event than the one in Beckley and right now tickets are all out. We are working on finding out if more will be allocated. However, the Beckley Event is a much larger venue. Keep checking in.


Reducing our carbon footprint

WVU students and faculty are pushing the school to become more green in its energy use.

To give you more info on the effort, here's an excerpt from a message sent by Cheyenna Weber, a WVU graduate and one of the organizers of the WVU Green Fund to fellow alumni.

As you consider your own carbon footprint, have you ever considered the impact of our fine alma mater? Perhaps you have heard that West Virginia University is becoming a cleaner, greener, more sustainable institution. Perhaps you were excited by this, and even wondered to yourself, "Hey, I sure wish I could play a role in saving the planet, and I sure wish I could tie it to West Virginia." Well, this is your lucky climate-change averting day.

The WVU chapter of the Sierra Student Coalition has proposed a substantial program to boost energy efficiency, cut emissions and promote a greener institution. The new WVU President, Mike Garrison, already met with them once, made encouraging noises and agreed to more meetings. Faculty and staff are signing on in support, and the time has come for alumni support. (How? Hang on.)

We all know making buildings more energy efficient and creating renewable energy infrastructure is expensive. In fact, although it saves money, (and the planet), in the long-term it is often so cost-prohibitive schools can't make the changes. WVU already has presented this argument, but luckily there is a simple solution: the WVU Green Fund.

Here's how it works: WVU establishes an endowed fund that is invested in environmentally sound companies. The returns from those investments then are earmarked for green campus projects. The more money donated to the fund, the more is invested, the greater the returns. The principal is never touched-which means green projects won't be dependent on an annual fund-raising campaign or the whims of the WVU Foundation. So simple, right? Right.

Except, of course, we have to convince WVU to do it. To do that we have to show there is support for a WVU Green Fund. Now, we all could cut checks and send them to WVU, but there's nothing to keep the school from refusing to set up the endowed Green Fund and using up all the money on a single project. So instead, I'm asking people to sign the petition, located here

A similar campaign is being started up by student groups at Marshall University as we speak and we'll probably be hearing a lot about it in Huntington soon.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The speech

The best way to do this is just to let it speak for itself


Monday, March 17, 2008

Another day, another Kristol screw-up

You may remember Bill Kristol as the guy who said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the war would go perfectly and would pay for itself, etc. He was one of the key guys behind PNAC that pushed for the war long before 9-11.

He's also the son of neoconservative Irving Kristol and inherited Daddy's access to the media.

In January, The New York Times, supposedly the epitome of that darn Lib'rul Media BiasTM, decided to give the great psychic Kristol a regular column to represent the delusional side of the political spectrum.

He's also a FOX News contributor, but we know what their standards are..

In today's NYT piece, Kristol claims that Obama "was in the pews" during one of pastor Wright's controversial statements.

Turns out it wasn't true. Kristol had to issue a retraction because he didn't check his source.

Before you think this is a forgiveable slip, bear in mind this is Kristol's second retraction in less than three months. In his first Times column, he misattributed a quote from a column he cited.

John Stewart recently said it best, "Oh, Bill Kristol, Are you ever right?"

Kristol's career consists of a trail of factual errors and inaccurate predictions that would make The Amazing Criswell blush.

Why is this guy still getting a regular forum from the mainstream media?


Friday, March 14, 2008

The spoiler effect

We see this every four years or so. A major party angers a group of voters by taking them for granted, then acts outraged when said voters form a third party. We then get the whining about the "spoiler effect," claiming the effort will elect the worst of all evils.

One possible solution to the problem is instant-runoff voting, which would eliminate the spoiler effect, by giving voters the option of a second choice should their candidate not get enough votes to be viable.

This would, of course, end the two-party system, allowing multitudes of parties to flourish, which is why it will never pass.

Julie J. Rehmeyer, writing for Science News Online takes a look at various voting systems. Our current system, in which the candidate who gets the most votes, regardless of a majority wins, is known as the plurality system.

Mathematician Donald Saari tells Rehmeyer "The plurality vote is pretty much the worst voting system there is."

As Rehmeyer's article shows, even if IRV passed, how to count the votes poses all sorts of questions:

Though this example is especially dramatic, Saari has found that determining voters' preferences from their ballots is often tricky. For example, suppose three candidates, A, B, and C, are competing. The preferences of the voters are as follows:

  • 3 people rank A first, B second, and C third;
  • 2 people rank A first, C second, and B third;
  • 2 people rank B first, C second, and A third; and
  • 4 people rank C first, B second, and A third.

Plurality voting would name A the winner, with 5 votes.

On the other hand, suppose one wanted the candidate that was least disliked. Six people rank A last, two people rank B last, and three people rank C last, so in that case, B should win.

Yet another method would be to assign 2 points for a first place vote, 1 point for second place and none for third. In this method, known as the Borda count, C walks away the winner with 12 points, beating out B's 11 points and A's 10.


Obama responds

To the statements of Rev. Wright in a column for Huffington Post.

Some excerpts:

Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.


As I have written about in my books, I first joined Trinity United Church of Christ nearly twenty years ago. I knew Rev. Wright as someone who served this nation with honor as a United States Marine, as a respected biblical scholar, and as someone who taught or lectured at seminaries across the country, from Union Theological Seminary to the University of Chicago. He also led a diverse congregation that was and still is a pillar of the South Side and the entire city of Chicago. It's a congregation that does not merely preach social justice but acts it out each day, through ministries ranging from housing the homeless to reaching out to those with HIV/AIDS.


The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign. I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church.

Let me repeat what I've said earlier. All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn. They in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country.
Definitely worth a read.

Photo: Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., speaks to press on the plane as he headed from Chicago to Washington, Thursday, March 13, 2008.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Also of note: Obama'a West Virginia campaign has launched.

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More from Tibet

Police and protestors clash

From AP:

Eyewitness accounts and photos posted on the Internet portrayed a chaotic scene in Lhasa, the provincial capital, with crowds hurling rocks at security forces, hotels and restaurants. The U.S. Embassy said Americans had reported gunfire. U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia reported two people were killed.

At a demonstration outside the United Nations in New York, Psurbu Tsering of the Tibetan Association of New York and New Jersey said its members received phone calls from Tibet claiming 70 people had been killed and 1,000 arrested. The reports could not be verified.

Also a crackdown in Nepal:

Police scuffled Friday with about 1,000 protesters, including dozens of Buddhist monks, during a rally in Katmandu in support of demonstrators in Tibet. About 12 monks were injured.

The U.S. ambassador has urged China to use restraint:

He also recalled that Washington has "consistently urged the Chinese government to engage in a dialogue with the Dalai Lama," the Tibetan spiritual leader.

Speaking of the Dalai Lama:

DHARMSALA, India - China must stop using force against protesters in Tibet, the Dalai Lama said Friday, calling the demonstrations a manifestation of the "long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people."

The Tibetan spiritual leader and head of Tibet's government-in-exile said in a statement that he was "deeply concerned over the situation that has been developing in Tibet following peaceful protests."
Photo: Indian police drag Tibetan protesters who were protesting outside the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, India, Friday, March 14, 2008. Police have clashed with scores of pro-Tibet protesters near the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, arresting dozens of them. (AP Photo/Mustafa Quraishi)


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Countdown to the Olympics

From AP:
DEHRA, India - More than 100 Tibetan exiles began a hunger strike Thursday after police in northern India dragged them away from a six-month march to their homeland to protest China's hosting of the Olympic Games.

The demonstrators had vowed to march from India to Tibet to coincide with the start of the Aug. 8-24 Games. Indian officials — fearing the march would embarrass China — banned the exiles from leaving the Kangra district that surrounds the city of Dharmsala — the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile in India.
And from Times Online:

Beijing laid siege to at least three monasteries in Tibet today, leaving monks trapped with dwindling food supplies, as the biggest anti-Chinese demonstrations in nearly two decades intensified.

Monks at Ganden monastery, located on a hilltop near the regional capital Lhasa, were reported to have started a hunger strike to protest against the deployment of armed paramilitary police, who continued to surround them today after being sent in to restore order yesterday.

Soldiers were today also reported to have been stationed around the Sera and Drepung monasteries. Drepung, in particular, was surrounded by "three layers" of army personnel, a witness told the AP news agency, while the Sera monastery was surrounded by more than 2,000 police.
China continues to brutally occupy Tibet, support the military rulers of Burma and has worked to undermine the UN mission to Darfur. The Olympics will be a boost to the totalitarian government in Beijing and it's time for the calls to boycott the games and its sponsors to kick into high gear — not to mention an overdue reevaluation of U.S. trade policy (though that may be difficult, as our 'leaders' in Washington have this nation in debt to China to an appalling degree).

Photo: Indian police detain Tibetan protestors at Dehra, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Kangra district boundary that surrounds Dharmsala, the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile in India, Thursday, March 13, 2008. Police detained more than 100 Tibetan exiles marching in northern India to Tibet in protest of China's Olympic Games early Thursday morning, organizers and officials said. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)

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'No one could discriminate against anyone'

DailyKos and WVaBlue contributer Carnacki has a lengthy piece on Cabell County Delegate Kelli Sobonya's comments from last week.

There are four passages in the Bible regarding homosexual acts and more than 3,000 passages about caring for the poor. Do you think Kelli Sononya has ever stood and railed that the state is not doing enough to help poor people? Has she ever railed against the sins of greed? Of course not.

So when Sononya pleads for "tolerance for those with true, deep-seated convictions based on Bible teachings" she ignores the log in her own eye. I can quote passage after passage of Jesus condemning hypocrites, but none where Jesus condemned homosexuality.

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DCCC thinks Capito can be defeated by Barth

As posted at Daily Kos, The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has released it's red-to-blue list of districts they think can be flipped in the House elections.

Kay Barnes (MO-06)
Anne Barth (WV-02)
Darcy Burner (WA-08)
Robert Daskas (NV-03)
Steve Driehaus (OH-01)
Jim Himes (CT-04)
Christine Jennings (FL-13)
Larry Kissell (NC-08)
Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24)
Eric Massa (NY-29)
Gary Peters (MI-09)
Mark Schauer (MI-07)
Dan Seals (IL-10)


Off topic Thursday

Tomorrow marks the 104th birthday of the unstoppable Doris Eaton-Travis, last surviving star of the legendary Ziegfeld Follies and family performers The Seven Little Eatons.

She’s also been an author, columnist, dance instructor, rancher and horse breeder, dance studio entrepreneur, actress in silent films and early talkies and she toured the U.S. with Babe Ruth in the 1920s. She got her GED at the age of 76 and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from at the University of Oklahoma at 88. In January of this year, she was the grand marshal for Miami’s Art Deco parade.

"I lived a very normal life," said the centenarian, who never smoked or drank alcohol. "I have no secret."
She’s still dances to this day and, every year, goes to New York to appear at the Broadway Cares AIDS charity benefits.

Here she is going strong in 2006 at the age of 102.


Nader on the courts

Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently received the James Madison Award for Distinguished Public Service, Ralph Nader weighs in on Scalia from Princeton:

Nader referenced Scalia several times during his talk, mentioning that he has written several times to the justice but has yet to receive a response.

"This country is not designed for corporate supremacy. The preamble of the Constitution ... is 'We the people,' not 'We the corporations,' " Nader said.

While courts have interpreted the 14th amendment to protect rights of corporations, Nader does not believe that corporations and private citizens deserve equal consideration.

"[A corporation] doesn't vote. It doesn't die in Iraq. It doesn't raise children. Yet it has been given every single constitutional ight you and I have except the fifth amendment against self-incrimination," Nader said.


Massey case returns to court

The one at the heart of the Maynard-Blankenship story.

And Benjamin's still there.

From AP:

CHARLESTON -- In a case rocked by European vacation photos showing its chief executive with the chief justice, Massey Energy Co. asked West Virginia's Supreme Court on Wednesday to echo its earlier conclusion and reverse a $76 million judgment against it in a coal contract dispute.

Lawyer D.C. Offutt said that the high court got it right in November when it ruled that a clause in the underlying supply agreement should have precluded the case brought by Harman Mining Co.

In January, the court erased November's 3-2 ruling and voted to rehear the case.

Offutt also agreed with the November decision's finding that a Virginia lawsuit, filed by Harman over the contract, should have resolved all related issues.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Web fun

Lauren Kirchner at Sam Seder's blog reports that the RNC is purchasing up domain names related to Clinton and Obama for use in the fall. Names such as and barack You get the idea.

She offers several suggestions of her own.

My favorite:

Approaching the five-year mark

Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimates that the Iraq War will cost the U.S. $3 trillion.

Stiglitz writes:

The Bush team not only misled the world about the war’s possible costs, but has also sought to obscure the costs as the war has gone on.

This is not surprising. After all, the Bush administration lied about everything else, from Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction to his supposed link with Al Qaeda. Indeed, only after the U.S.-led invasion did Iraq become a breeding ground for terrorists.

The Bush administration said the war would cost $50 billion. The U.S. now spends that amount in Iraq every three months.

My favorite politcical cartoonist, Tom Tomorrow, takes a look at just what $3 trillion would have paid for in his latest cartoon, "Remember when they told us the war would pay for itself?"

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Another primary update

Obama wins big in Mississippi. 60-38%

Marc Ambinder reports that the idea of a mail-in redo of the Florida primary is dead.

Survey USA's North Carolina poll show Obama leading 59-39.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Election-y goodness

Another funny video from the Election08 crew.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Momentum swinging back to Obama?

Rasmussen poll seems to indicate he's starting to retake control of the race:
On Monday, the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll shows—for the first time in a week--Barack Obama with a slight advantage over Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination. It’s Obama 46% Clinton 44%. Yesterday, Clinton was up by two points (see recent daily results). Clinton is viewed favorably by 73% of Likely Democratic Primary Voters. However, that figure includes just 55% of Obama voters. Obama is viewed favorably by 69% of Likely Democratic Primary Voters, a figure that includes 43% of Clinton supporters.

Why bother with primaries?

Just declare yourself the winner regardless of the voting. That's what the Clinton spokespeople are doing.

From Meet the Press:

TIM. RUSSERT: Governor Rendell, if, in fact, Barack Obama goes to the convention in Colorado in August with the most elected delegates, having won more contests and a higher popular vote, the cumulative vote, could he be denied the nomination?

GOV. ED RENDELL (Pennsylvania) : Well, sure, Tim, because, number one, Hillary Clinton has won states with about 260 electoral votes. Barack Obama has won states with about 190. And we decide the presidency not by a popular vote, we decide it by the electoral vote. And the traditional role of the superdelegates is to determine who's going to be our strongest candidate. Tim, you and I have been doing this for a long time, as Tom has, and we know the big four in any presidential election recently are Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and Michigan. And in all four of those states--Pennsylvania hasn't voted yet, but I assume we're going to do real well--Hillary Clinton will have taken those states, if it--she takes Pennsylvania, and will have taken them by significant majorities. She's clearly the strongest candidate in the states that Democrats must win to have a chance. Look, it's great that Barack Obama is doing wonderfully well in Wyoming and Utah and, and places like that, but there's no chance we're going to carry those states. Whether he gets 44 percent as opposed to 39 percent doesn't matter, but we're not going to carry those states. We do have a chance to carry the big four. We've got to in three of the big four. Hillary Clinton's the strongest candidate to do that. That's been proven by the voters in the--those states and hopefully by Pennsylvania as well.

Yes, she actually said that

On the bill that would have prohibited employers from firing people based on sexual orientation, Cabell County Representative Kelli Sobonya has some ... well ... interesting views.

From The Register Herald:

“Where’s the tolerance for those with true, deep-seated convictions based on Bible teachings relating to homosexuality?” Sobonya wondered after the meeting.

Conceivably, under the bill, she said, a cross dresser could demand to put on whatever he pleases while teaching in a public school to express “sexual orientation.”

“Homosexuality is an abomination to God based on the teaching of the Bible,” she said.

There's more, but the summary of her closing comments makes your jaw drop.

Eventually, she said, if the trend continues, no one could discriminate against anyone for any reason.

C. Richard Cobb left the story, along with this description of the bill in the comments section of an earlier entry on this blog:

As the chairperson of the City of Huntington Human Relations Commission, I wanted to let everyone know that we have been working to have Senate Bill 600 approved by the House of Delegates and sent to the Governor for his signature. The bill will add "sexual orientation" and "age" as protected classes in the West Virginia Human Rights Act.

Every citizen must be treated fairly in the area of acquiring housing and in the area of employment. Being able to rent an apartment or home, or purchase a home should be based on a person's ability to pay the rent, or make a mortgage payment - and NOT on their sexual orientation, or perceived sexual orientation. Obtaining and retaining a job should based on the criteria of qualifications and performance - NOT sexual orientation, or perceived sexual orientation.

Equal rights should apply to all citizens of our state. However, some folks need to be protected by law in order to be able to share rights that many of us take for granted.

Sobonya's opposition to the bill should come as no surprise to anyone. As "MadAnne" at Wvablue points out, Sobonya's Web site proudly lists her work as a lobbyist for the WV Christian Coalition and the West Virginia Family Foundation (an affiliate of the controversial American Family Association) among her achievements.

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WV legislature to hear about climate change

From OVEC:

WV E-Council lobbyist Vickie Wolfe says, "This legislative session, Delegate Barbara Fleischauer (D-Monongalia) introduced five energy-related bills. Only one passed; it will allow counties and municipalities to enter into contracts for energy savings. None of the others even made it onto a committee agenda. So, Barbara has taken it on herself to try to educate the legislature about climate change. She has lined up a speaker --Dr. Nikki Roy -- from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change to come to Charleston and address the legislature in the House Chamber (inside the State Capitol building) on Tuesday, March 11 at 1:00 p.m."

Friday, March 7, 2008

From a guy whose been there

Gary Hart, whose race against Walter Mondale in 1984, shared many of the same dynamics as the current nomination battle, weighs in on the Clinton campaign's tactics:

By saying that only she and John McCain are qualified to lead the country, particularly in times of crisis, Hillary Clinton has broken that rule, severely damaged the Democratic candidate who may well be the party's nominee, and, perhaps most ominously, revealed the unlimited lengths to which she will go to achieve power. She has essentially said that the Democratic party deserves to lose unless it nominates her.

As a veteran of red telephone ads and "where's the beef" cleverness, I am keenly aware that sharp elbows get thrown by those trailing in the fourth quarter (and sometimes even earlier). "Politics ain't beanbag," is the old slogan. But that does not mean that it must also be rule-or-ruin, me-first-and-only-me, my way or the highway. That is not politics. That is raw, unrestrained ambition for power that cannot accept the will of the voters.

It's short, but the rest is worth a read.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Rahall to endorse Obama

According to CQ Politics, he says he'll make it official before the primary.

Barack Obama will pick up an important industrial state endorsement from veteran Rep. Nick J. Rahall II before the May 13 West Virginia primary.

Rahall told CQ Politics Thursday that he privately made his commitment to Obama about 10 days ago and will officially endorse the delegate leader in the Democratic presidential primary sometime before voters in his state go to the polls.

“The new voters he has brought to the process this year and the new direction, in my opinion, add up to what our country needs,” Rahall said.

Obama has struggled to win the support of the type of working-class white voters who populate much of Rahall’s 3rd district in the southern portion of the state. In the Ohio primary on Tuesday, many of them backed Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Rahall acknowledged that his pick may be out of step with the leanings of the Democratic voters in his district.“I recognize this may not be a popular decision in my district,” he said. The district has the third‑lowest median income in the country


Off-topic Thursday

Pee-Wee wants to save the animals. PSA fun from the 80s.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Can't make stuff like this up

(Found at WVaBlue)

The WV legislature is considering a bill to add sexual orientation to classes protected under the Human Rights and Fair Housing acts. The Senate passed it. The House is looking it over now.

Opponents are trotting out the old "homosexuality is a choice" spiel.

From AP:

"You are subject to homosexual acts in prison today, whatever the reason, but as soon as people go out of prison, many of them never return to that lifestyle," said Ray Lambert of the West Virginia Family Foundation.

I don't think I have to add anything to that one. It speaks for itself.

But wait, there's more!

Lambert warned that the bill would have the state following the lead of California, where "Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has recently put into law and mandated that homosexuality be taught from kindergarten up through grade 12 as an acceptable lifestyle.

Which is an interesting way of spinning the record:

Schwarzenegger signed a measure into law in October that would bar discrimination based on a student's sexual orientation, and require teachers and administrators to enforce anti-bias laws to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender students. Christian groups have sued to overturn the law, which advocates argue clarifies the 1999 addition of sexual orientation to California's hate-crimes law.

By the way, The West Virginia Family Foundation is an affiliate group of The American Family Association, a fringe organization whose members, when not preoccupied with determining the sexuality of cartoon characters, spend their time celebrating in print natural disasters that kill hundreds.

Not all of the coverage has been concerned with the failures at the federal or state level. The American Family Association's Agape Press published praise for the hurricane's destruction as an instrument of God's mercy, in that it "wiped out rampant sin".

In further bizarre and twisted coverage, Rev. Bill Shanks, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans, said "God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again." Furthermore “New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now," Shanks says.

And then there was was this little number they ran through Agape Press regarding the Sago mining disaster in W.Va., which I'm sure most will think reflects moral values:

Conservative Christian leader Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council said yesterday that, although millions of prayers were being offered across the nation, he was struck by the irony of the situation, which he feels demonstrates a sad truth about America. "We often turn to God only when we feel like nothing else can be done," Schenck notes. "And, in the Bible, God rebuked nations who only turned to Him in their most extreme moments of need."

But sadly, the Christian activist observes, "That has been our tradition in the United States. Whenever we find ourselves in a situation where we get to the end of our own resources, we turn to God." Schenck says it is ironic that a culture that tries to banish God from its existence seeks His intervention under circumstances like the tragedy that unfolded in West Virginia this week.


Another call for investigation of Maynard-Blankenship

By opposing candidate WVU professor Bob Bastress


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - At least one fellow West Virginia Supreme Court candidate believes Chief Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard has been less than forthcoming about his ties to Massey Energy Co. chief executive Don Blankenship.

Bob Bastress echoed calls Wednesday for an independent investigation in the wake of vacation photos that show the two men together in Monaco in 2006. The Richmond, Virginia, energy company had several cases pending or headed toward West Virginia's sole appeals court at the time.

Maynard has since recused himself from 3 of those cases, but Bastress believes unanswered questions remain about the trip and the pair's longtime friendship.


Looking ahead: A divided house

Even with victories on Ohio and Rhode Island (and likely Texas, as of this writing) tonight, Clinton still can't top Obama in pledged delegates.

The only way she gets the nomination is by taking it to the convention and hoping the superdelegates vote her way.

As Newsweek's Jonathan Alter points out, even under the most optimistic numbers with Clinton winning all remaining states, she can't get a pledged delegate majority without superdelegates.

For all of those who have been trashing me for saying this thing is over, please feel free to do your own math. Give Hillary 75 percent in Kentucky and Indiana. Give her a blowout in Oregon. You will still have a hard time getting her through the process with a pledged-delegate lead.

The Clintonites can spin to their heart's content about how Obama can't carry any large states besides Illinois. How he can't close the deal. How they've got the Big Mo now.

Tell it to Slate's Delegate Calculator.

The next months will be rough. Clinton can't get a "clean" win and the longer she stays in, the harder it will be for Obama to get the amount needed for nomination. He'll still lead, but he may not reach the mark.

Both candidates will then put the nomination in the hands of superdelegates, who will have the choice of ratifying the pledged total for Obama or stepping in on behalf of Clinton.

Tom Brokaw, acting as commentator on MSNBC tonight, said this could be worse than the infamous divided 1968 Chicago convention. He may be right.

The split is very similar, with Clinton representing the establishmnet LBJ/Humphrey wing and Obama carrying the mantle of McCarthy and RFK.

Tom Hayden, one of the leaders of the '68 protests and defendant in the subsequent Chicago 7 trial wrote about this possibility earlier this year.

[...] I would not be surprised to see hundreds of thousands of young Obama supporters silently circling the Denver convention petitioning the party to recognize their historic achievement.

It may not happen that way. But it could.


By June, Obama needs to be ahead in the total popular vote, the total number of states won, and at least be neck-and-neck in the delegate count. He has to show a significant margin of difference over Clinton in match ups with John McCain. He will have to demand that Howard Dean and the DNC hold firm against the contaminated outcomes in Florida and Michigan.

At some point, perhaps, a pact between the candidates will be possible.

If not, the massive and peaceful pressure for transformation heading into Denver may be unique in the history of American social movements. One generation of reformers, exhausted but still fighting, will have to decide whether power is so important that they are willing to roll over young people no different than themselves three decades ago.

Never underestimate the ability of the Democratic establishment to seize defeat from the jaws of victory.

With a massively unpopular Republican president on his way out, a GOP nominee that turns off the base and a reinvigorated Democratic Party under Howard Dean, this election is the Democrats' to lose.

But Clinton's scorched earth strategy and win-at-all costs campaign may eradicate all of those advantages.

The party now faces the option of nominating Clinton in a win seen by many in the grassroots and youth (who overwhelmingly back Obama) as a "steal" or nominating a potentially-damaged Obama candidacy. Either scenario does not play out well.

It hasn't been reported widely, but polls have shown McCain closing the gap on Obama and building on lead over Clinton.

Could the DLC machine be keeping Clinton, who has no chance of a pledged majority, in the race to sabotage an Obama candidacy? The corporatist wing has controlled the party since 1992 and may not be ready to cede power just yet.

The idea of the Clintons putting personal ambition ahead of loyalty to any cause should surprise no one. This is after all the same people who hired rightwing pollster Dick Morris to devise a strategy for Clinton to co-opt the GOP agenda in the 90s, distance himself from the Democratic leaders in Congress and leave the party twisting in the wind, losing House, Senate and governor's offices while he personally coasted to re-election.

After Wyoming and Mississippi, this thing moves on to Pennsylvania. The Clintons warn that they're just getting started and are ready to go "all the way."

That should send a chill down the spine of anyone hoping for a Democratic win in the fall.

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. acknowledges supporters during a primary night rally Tuesday, March 4, 2008, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

--- and the really bad news, regardless of your affiliation, is that Pennsylvania doesn't vote until April 22, so we have to go through this for another month and a half at least.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

McCain reaches the nomination mark

Huckabee says he's out.

Bush set to endorse McCain tomorrow.


The other contests tonight

Buried in all of the presidential coverage are two important Congressional races.

The first is Ohio's Dennis Kucinich. The conservative DLC wing of the party has mounted an intense primary challenge to the Cleveland area progressive, outspending him 5-1. The challenge was strong enough to puch his long-shot candidacy out of the presidential race to force him to defend his seat.

City Councilman Joe Cimperman, once a Kucinich admirer, has raised nearly $500,000 and landed high-profile endorsements from the mayor and the city's daily newspaper in a feisty campaign heading into Tuesday's Democratic primary.
He faces multiple opponents in the primary and may benefit from a split in the other side.

On the GOP side, the Texas Republican establishment is mounting a primary challenge to Rep. Ron Paul in the form of Friendswood mayor Chris Peden. No maor polls on this one so far, but Paul, a 20-year Congressman has name recognition and more cash on hand, though his position at odds with the GOP and his district on foriegn policy makes him a target tonight.

Photo: U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, stands with his wife, Elizabeth, right, after announcing his congressional re-election bid at the Laborers International Union hall in Cleveland in this, Jan. 9, 2008 file photo. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Update: Paul pulled it out and Kucinich was leading as of late Tuesday night.


Saturday, March 1, 2008


Going to be away for a bit. Enjoy Mr. Chaplin until I get back.


Re-examining the Nader factor

Apparently, there's another Heath H. out there.

Writing for The Denver Post, independent journalist Heath Haussamen says Nader deserves a large share of credit for the Democratic Party's recent resurgence.

Nader has taken the time during his presidential runs to foster excitement in independents and young people, and he had some success in 2000. That scared Democrats. But instead of looking inward and considering why they were failing to bring Nader supporters into the Democratic Party, they blamed Nader for Bush.

That’s like saying the car manufacturer is responsible when a drunken driver crashes its automobile into a crowd of people. Or like saying the gun maker is responsible when a psychopath goes on a rampage on a college campus. Nader didn’t force people to vote for him. They made that choice.

As proof that Nader wasn’t to blame for Gore’s loss, an equally uninspiring John Kerry lost four years later without Nader garnering any significant support. The problem wasn’t Nader. It was the Democratic Party.


I give Nader some of the credit for the Democratic Party’s awakening. The support he gained in 2000 forced the party to begin a serious examination of its own problems. It took another devastating loss in 2004 for the party to really take those problems seriously, and in 2008 we’ve seen a slate of Democratic presidential candidates much different than any in this nation’s history.

He's right.

Nader has pushed the party to reconnect with its base. They could have learned this as early as 2000.

Gore trailed Bush badly for the first half of that year. It wasn't until Nader began drawing nearly 10% of the vote in polls that Gore decided to retool his message and adopted a populist approach. The result had Gore leading Bush going into the fall.

This was a lead he maintained until he a abandoned the populist approach and agreed with Bush on nearly every issue in the debates. Immediately after, his lead evaporated and the two were in a dead heat going into election day. We all know what happened next.


Three days to go

It looks like Hillary Clinton will be using the classic "Be afraid. Be very afraid" strategy. Take this ad, for instance.

From The Swamp:

FT. WORTH, Texas—Democrat Hillary Clinton made it clear to reporters aboard her campaign plane today that in the final days of the Texas-Ohio delegate spectacular, her focus will remain on portraying herself as stronger than Barack Obama on national security.

Clinton, a New York senator, said now that voters know Sen. John McCain of Arizona is the presumed Republican presidential nominee, they also know what to expect from him—using the GOP playbook to focus on the national security issue. She said that’s why she’s brought it up, in her speeches and a controversial ad, and rejects any charges from the Obama camp that she’s engaged in fear mongering.

“My opponent says it’s fear mongering to talk about national security and the fact that we’re at war,” Clinton told a crowd at the historic stockyards in Fort Worth. “Well, I don’t think people in Texas scare all that easily.”

And on a "completely unrelated in any way whatsoever" note, check out this video of Bill Clinton from 2004: