Saturday, May 31, 2008

ABC Shoots Low for Fall Season with "Border Security USA"

This is lame:

A Cops-like show covering the U.S. government's war on undocumented immigrants is billed by its producers as a celebration of anti-terrorism efforts.
A new ABC unscripted series will take an unprecedented look behind the scenes at the government's fight against terrorism. The network has ordered 11 hours of Border Security USA.... The series will focus on the efforts of border protection agencies to halt illegal smuggling and immigration.

With this conflation in mind, it will be interesting to see how many episodes focus on the Mexico/U.S. border vs. the Canadian border, whence came the only actual terrorist intercepted at a U.S. land border, the so-called Millennium Bomber.

Very lame.

Bumped by the Attorney General

Here at KSL studios, and I was just informed that I've been bumped as a guest on JM Bell's Left of the Dial by none other than the Attorney General.

Apparently he's upset with Jeff for last week accusing the AG of stealing office supplies.

Try again next week... stay tuned.

Is This Thing On?


Take two of capitalizing on the invitation to be a guest on JM Bell's new radio gig happens today at 4pm.

We'll be talking technology and politics. Pro's and con's of technology in our politics. Use of tech versus fear of tech in our politics. Etc.

Tune In.

DNC RBC Meeting, So Far

MyDD doing an detailed live blog of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting, for those interested (or bored enough).

Read here.

And you can watch live here and watch/chat live here.

Three Former Gitmo Detainees Make Stateside Address Today

Amy Goodman:

The US prison camp at Guantanamo has become a symbol of the so-called “war on terror” since it was created more than six years ago. Over 800 men and boys, so-called “enemy combatants,” have been held without charge at Guantanamo since January 11, 2002. Not one of these prisoners has been put on trial. Hundreds have been released without charge after years behind bars. Four prisoners have committed suicide; many others have tried to do that, as well.

This weekend, three former Guantanamo prisoners will talk for the first time to a US audience about their prison experiences. The event is being organized by the Guantanamo Testimonials Project, a University of California, Davis-based effort to catalog accounts of prisoner abuse. I’ll interview the three former prisoners via videoconference from Sudan. All three men—Adel Hassan Hamad, Salim Adam and Hammad Ali Amno Gad Allah—were classified and imprisoned as enemy combatants and held without charge for years before being released without explanation.
Listen here.

Insomnia and Betty White

Can't get to sleep. William Shatner Roast on Comedy Central.

There is something universally wrong, but strangely hiliarious about hearing Betty White say the words "Sulu's cock-ring."

On a less Golden-Girl-Talks-Dirty comedic note, Jon Swift is back. Woot.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Utah for Obama FUNd-Raiser: Keynote Speaker, Pete Ashdown

From Utah for Obama:

"Got Hope" FUNdraiser event:

Have a Fun Evening of Entertainment and Enlightenment while showing Utah's Support of Senator Obama!

Date: Friday, May 30, 2008

Place: Salt Lake City Library (auditorium)
210 East 400 South
Time: 7:30 to 9:30 pm (doors open at 6:30 pm)

FREE underground parking at Library

Emcee: Gary Stoddard
Anthem: Marianna Estrada
Feature Band: Slick Rock Gypsies
Singer: Marianna Estrada
Harpist: Cynthia Douglass
Singer: Marianna Estrada
Singer: Timothy Jindra
Keynote Speaker: Pete Ashdown
Iraq Vet: Gary Barkley
Environment: Dr. Brian Moench
Faith: Rev. Sean Parker-Dennison
Call to Action: Scott Daniels
“O2B1” Answering the Call to Unify: Jim Stitley


Donate NOW at utah4obama.org to reserve your seats!

...OR DONATE AT THE DOOR

Let’s show Senator Obama... UTAH supports him!

Contact Tresa for any questions or more information at:

info@utah4obama.org
801.260.0265

Realizing the Political Advantage to An Aggressive Response

Democrats have spent the past two decades responding to an image created by Republicans that has so encased our political debate that even some Democrats (cough, Matheson's Blue Dogs) have adopted emulating conservatives as a "Democratic" strategy for election.

At some point, many of us have stopped asking if this image truly reflects what we know to be true about what it means to be a Democrat, and many elections have been lost to Republicans running with little more than talking points (cough, Chris Cannon).

It's long overdue time that Democrats played a hand in defining their own image, carving out a reputation built on Democratic ideals that we already know appeal to a majority of Americans.

The areas that pose the greatest challenge, where Republicans have most co-opted the message are issue of national security and foreign policy. But evidenced in the public support for Democrats' stand against the President on warrant-less wiretapping and retro-active immunity for Telco's, a tidal shift is under way that Democrats only need to capitalize on with aggressive positioning.

Shorter version: A little less John Kerry, a little more Biden and Dodd, and 2008 is in the bag for a Democratic Majority.

TAP:

It's possible to build a compelling national security message by tying traditional progressive themes into the ideas of Soft Power: promoting a foreign policy that reflects our values and traditions; reestablishing our moral authority in the world; using all of our tools to tackle complex problems. All of these messages reflect the thinking behind Soft Power but do not connote weakness.

Even more important than the specific wording is the manner in which the message is delivered. Poll after poll has found that when Democrats respond aggressively to claims that they are not equipped to defend America they are able to offset Republican advantages. In the run up to the 2006 mid-term elections when Republicans began accusing Democrats of being soft on terrorism because of their opposition to warrantless wiretapping, a Democracy Corps study found that the best response was to take the argument head on. What mattered was less the substance of the argument than the fact that Democrats were unafraid to defend their ideas. Similarly, when Democrats stood up to the president in March 2007 and passed legislation to end the Iraq War, their poll numbers on security improved -- not because they were taking the traditionally "hard" position but because they were asserting themselves.

Perhaps the best lesson that Democrats can draw is from Barack Obama's forceful response to President Bush's claim that having a dialogue with Iran is the equivalent of appeasement. Obama did not try to prove his toughness with hawkish saber rattling about war. Instead, he couched his progressive, smart argument that there is a value to communicating with those we have strong disagreements with in the most assertive terms possible: "If George Bush and John McCain want to have a debate about protecting the United States of America that is a debate I am happy to have any time, any place."
Crushing the Republican mythology that has seeped into our culture and been accepted as truth by all too many voters is not an easy task (it took the Republicans a decade to put it in place to begin with), but there is no reason to delay the process further. No more evidence will exist for the breaking the Neo-Con hold on our country than the Occupation of Iraq, and the filleting of our Constitution under the rule of today's Republican Party.

For more information, read Paul Rosenberg's ongoing series via Open Left: Constructing a Liberal Identity; Values and Narrative for a Political Realignment.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Off The Radar

How does the longest war in American history slip off of the media's radar screen? From the American Journalism Review:

A daily tracking of 65 newspapers by the Associated Press confirms a dip in page-one play throughout the country. In September 2007, the AP found 457 Iraq-related stories (154 by the AP) on front pages, many related to a progress report delivered to Congress by Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. Over the succeeding months, that number fell to as low as 49. A spike in March 2008 was largely due to a rash of stories keyed to the conflict's fifth anniversary, according to AP Senior Managing Editor Mike Silverman. [...]

By March 2008, a striking reversal had taken place. Only 28 percent of Americans knew that 4,000 military personnel had been killed in the conflict, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Eight months earlier, 54 percent could cite the correct casualty rate.
The theories for the decline range from economic downturn (both as a story itself, and it's effect on newsroom budgets for overseas correspondents), to the drawn out primary, to - get this - American Idol.

But in reality, Iraq coverage is in decline because of one simple fact: nothing has changed. From a journalistic perspective, there is no longer a story in Iraq. If you exclude the mounting death tolls, there is nothing new to report. Which makes it a non-story for the traditional media, who are driven by circulation numbers, ad revenue, and ratings.

This can be taken two-fold. One as a statement on our media, and the responsiveness they have to public whims of interest (and our own complicity in constant search for distraction from reality). Two, as a clear picture of the circular, endless endeavor that is George Bush's War.

That alone should be a story worthy of at least A3. Or so you'd think.

How to Respond to Race Issues When Running for President, Step 1

I wish I had said this...

It was tragic to see so many interviews with folks in Kentucky and West Virginia saying point blank that they wouldn't vote for Obama because he was a colored. The conclusion always was, "Wow this is a huge problem for Obama," not "Wow. this is a huge problem for these people."

I know that seems backward, but roll with me for a second: We can all agree that a presidential election is an extremely important event, arguably the most important mass event in the country. If you have voters who essentially disqualify candidates, on race alone, isn't that, like, kind of a problem for the voters? Please do not counter with "but blacks vote for Obama on race!!" As I've said before, it ain't the same dog. Blacks--because we've basically had no other choice--have a long record of voting for white people, and will continue to do so. A guy who openly says "I'm not voting for a black guy," get's no such consideration.

Saturday DNC Rules Meeting: What Will They Be Deciding?

CQ Politics answers the five most burning questions regarding the DNC Rules meeting this Saturday that may decide the future of the Democratic nomination race.

The Democratic National Committee’s 30-member Rules and Bylaws Committee will meet Saturday in a Washington hotel to discuss what to do about Florida and Michigan. Once the exclusive province of political insiders, the Rules and Bylaws Committee has become central to the ongoing battle for the Democratic presidential nomination because the states’ 366 delegates, if seated, could affect the balance of the tight contest.

Florida has 210 delegates and Michigan has 156 (including superdelegates). According to the Associated Press, Barack Obama currently has 199 more delegates than Hillary Rodham Clinton .

CQ Politics answers some of the central questions regarding this weekend’s tete-a-tete [...]

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

REMINDER: Peace and Human Rights Rally, Tonight

Tonight, 5:30.

The Most Radical Idea In America

"A Long Memory is the most Radical Idea in America."

-Utah Phillips, from the Democracy Now! Podcast: Remembering Utah Phillips

Bennion

Maybe it's just something in the way he speaks, or perhaps it's the dry sense of humor.

Either way I was reminded of Obama while editing Bennion Spencer's convention address. Check it out.

Out-Fundraising Excel

It's gonna be a good year for Democrats.

The record-shattering fundraising by Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton has reshaped the financing of presidential elections and generated breathless coverage and analysis of the otherwise arcane area of campaign finance.

Yet it’s had another consequence that has gone all but unnoticed. The campaign finance reports filed by Obama and Clinton have grown so massive that they’ve strained the capacity of the Federal Election Commission, good government groups, the media and even software applications to process and make sense of the data.

A milestone of sorts was reached earlier this year, when Obama, the Illinois senator whose revolutionary online fundraising has overwhelmed Clinton, filed an electronic fundraising report so large it could not be processed by popular basic spreadsheet applications like Microsoft Excel 2003 and Lotus 1-2-3.

Those programs can’t download data files with more than 65,536 rows or 256 columns.

Eight Million "Unfriendly" Americans: Are You On The List?

I guarantee, under this administration, that we are. From Radar Online:

According to a senior government official who served with high-level security clearances in five administrations, "There exists a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived 'enemies of the state' almost instantaneously." He and other sources tell Radar that the database is sometimes referred to by the code name Main Core. One knowledgeable source claims that 8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect. In the event of a national emergency, these people could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention.
I joke, but the article in it's entirety is a pretty frightening read. One of those things you know goes on, but rarely are reminded of so bluntly. As the blurb you'll see says, this is basically a road map to martial law.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Pick A Facebook Group Poll

Very creative method of polling from MoveOn.org to gage the pulse of the Democratic primary. Via The SideTrack inbox:

We're in a sorta crazy political moment right now, and we'd love to get a better sense of what people are thinking.

So we created some Facebook groups, to gauge opinions.

Can you join the group that best represents your current take on the election?



We'll be watching these groups closely—both their initial size and how they grow over the next week.
For those who don't use Facebook, you can weigh in here.

Utah Democratic Candidates, Online

In response to my Utah Convention Day Rant, Vice- Boss Chair Rob Miller called me out. He was right to do so. To paraphrase him; If you are going to bitch, be willing to back your words up with action.

The result? A large part of the 2008 Utah State Democratic Convention is now available online, and just waiting for you all to send it "viral." More to come still, but check out a few highlights so far.

Rob Miller: "Don't Let Them Forget It"

Jean Welch Hill, Democratic Nominee for Attorney General:
Part One: Introduction by Wayne Holland and Former AG Paul Van Dam.
Part Two: Nomination Address

Bennion Spencer, Democratic Nominee for CD-3:
Part One: Endorsement from Dick Nourse
Part Two: Nomination Address

Morgan Bowen, Democratic Nominee for CD-1:
Part One: Introduction/Nomination Address
Part Two: Nomination Address (Cont'd)
And for a bit of comic relief with a message, meet The Mayors.

President Albatross and the GOP Downticket

TPMelectioncentral:

The Senate Republicans are expected to have a rough time of it this year, but even this is big news: A new Rasmussen poll puts Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) behind his Democratic challenger, businessman Bruce Lunsford:

Lunsford (D) 49%
McConnell (R) 44%

Sample size: 500 likely voters.
Margin of error: ±4.5%

Party leaders are often considered safe bets for re-election, but McConnell's ties to President Bush obviously haven't helped his own prospects even in this red state. And with the DSCC out-raising their GOP counterparts, expect the Dems to make a play for this seat and others all over the map.

Why is this such a significant indicator?

McConnell has been one of the most visible and outspoken proponents of Bush's domestic security policies, from warrantless wiretapping to drilling in ANWR. He stands resolute with the president on retro-active immunity for law-breaking Telco's and shipping jobs over-seas in the name of "national security." His voting history in the Senate is a long trail of crony-ism, opposition to transparency, and following Senators like John McCain in "cut and run" votes regarding our troops and veterans. And let's not forget McConnell was a prominent mouth-piece for the President's surge, while simultaneously blocking the debate over sending more troops into Iraq.

In short, McConnell embodies everything that got George Bush a second term, and despite being a once popular incumbent, he is set to lose his seat to a relatively unknown Kentucky Democrat.

Arguably, McConnell stands as an icon of Bush's failed policies, and the policies John McCain promises to continue without question. Look at Mitch as the GOP canary for the 2008 elections. And the canary has a nasty cough.

Watchdogs



Help place this ad.

Take the High Road Tomorrow Night

Join us in Salt Lake City tomorrow night.


What: Rally for Peace and Human Rights. A gathering of active citizens saying “No More” to: disastrous war, deceit, domestic spying, unconscionable and illegal kidnapping and torture, flagrant violations of the Constitution, and crimes against humanity.

Who: Daniel Ellsberg

Legendary voice of conscience who disclosed the lies that led to the Vietnam War. Author of Secrets – A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. Founder of the Truth-Telling Project.

Marshall Thompson

Iraq veteran and peace activist who walked the entire state of Utah calling for withdrawal from Iraq.

Kathy Snyder

Mother of serviceman who was killed in Iraq. She wrote “Not Another Mother's Son Should Die in Iraq.”

Rocky Anderson

Former Mayor of Salt Lake City; Founder and President, High Road for Human Rights Advocacy Project.

EMCEE Troy Williams / MUSIC BY Rich Wyman

www.peaceandhumanrights.com for more information.



When: Wednesday, May 28, 2008

5:30 – 6:30pm

Where: Washington Square
451 South State Street,
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Sunday, May 25, 2008

FISA Battle Returns: Telco's Buying Immunity?

Salon:

One of the benefits from the protracted battle over telecom amnesty is that it is a perfect microcosm for how our government institutions work. And a casual review of the available evidence regarding how telecom amnesty is being pursued demonstrates what absurd, irrelevant distractions are the pro-amnesty justifications offered by the pundit class and the Bush administration.

Just in the first three months of 2008, recent lobbyist disclosure statements reveal that AT&T spent $5.2 million in lobbyist fees (putting it well ahead of its 2007 pace, when it spent just over $17 million). In the first quarter of 2008, Verizon spent $4.8 million on lobbyist fees, while Comcast spent $2.6 million. So in the first three months of this year, those three telecoms -- which would be among the biggest beneficiaries of telecom amnesty (right after the White House) -- spent a combined total of almost $13 million on lobbyists. They're on pace to spend more than $50 million on lobbying this year -- just those three companies.

Let's pause for a brief minute to reflect on how ludicrous and deceptive -- laughably so -- are some of the main FISA/telecom claims that are being advanced.
So far, Democrats in Congress have kept this issue under control, if not completely resolved without handing our Constitution over to the Telecommunications Industry, as Orrin Hatch and Chris Cannon, in their lack of understanding would have us willing do.

But the issue is also cooling, and could be easily weighed under by the upcoming general election. Instead, this issue should part of the general election, and all down ticket elections. Any Congressperson or Senator who supports immunity for Teclo's at the expense of our right to protection from government largesse and warrantless spying on Americans should be shown the door in November. There is no justification for our acceptance of such behavior. To accept it would be to give up everything that makes America what it is.

Talkin' to you, Chrissy.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Guilt By Association?

I've been associated with people who could be accused of extremism. The first example that comes to mind is my association with what some might call Christian fundamentalists. These are some of the people who argue that the fate of our world will dbe etermined by the seemingly never-ending, "us against them" or "Christianity vs. Islam" battle. They say that we stand at the edge of "Armageddon", that this is "the End of Days" and thus, we must fight the good fight against our enemies and the evils of the world. These positions are equally if not more fervently possessed by extremists on the opposite side of the argument, extreme Islamic fundamentalists. That, to me, is the big problem with pointing to people like Jeremiah Wright as "the problem" in the midst of this presidential campaign.

Jeremiah Wright on many counts seems to be speaking from a less extreme position than those in the Bush administration and many other religious leaders in our own country. The "Axis of Evil" and "Evildoers" are the antagonists in their clear-cut, black and white, right and wrong, us against them yarn. God is with us, despite our evils, against them because of theirs. For some reason, people buy the cock-and-bull story that because we are nation founded in righteousness, and recipients of the blessings of democracy, that we are somehow immune to the influence of or subject to the evils we denounce. Because we aren't responsible individually for the wrong-doing of our Presidents and evil acts of our government, it's easy for us to view an attack against our nation as being perpetuated by those who, "fear freedom". But that is an excuse, a justification. The truth is that we are guilty as a nation of atrocities. Some of those atrocities have been acted against other people, in other nations. A remarkably larger number have been committed against our fellow-citizens. Be it the inexcusably slow response to Hurricane Katrina, the unlawful dismissal of Habeas Corpus, or illegal wire-tapping approved by the President, we are victims of the iniquities of our government as often as we are beneficiaries of it's virtues. So, we either expect to have improvements made to our government and honest, righteous people installed at its' head, or we choose to allow the current version to ride in its' ruts to the end, taking us with them. As Thomas Jefferson said, "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent".

Ask yourself, five years after "Major Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended", do you still consider our war in Iraq just and honorable? Are we still the righteous nation laying waste to the "evildoers"? Are we completely free of taint despite the thousands of American Troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians who have been killed as a result of the invasion? Knowing now that Saddam Hussein in fact posed little threat to the U.S., that the premise for the war was built on lie upon lie, if not determination built upon nescience, are we still the righteous nation we started out as? We, as individuals may still feel that way, but I believe that polls showing 82% of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track points to the fact that we recognize now that we've been wronged. Wronged by the same President and government we so devoutly supported after September 11th.

I believe that many of us feel guilty for having gone along with it for so long. And to hear Jeremiah Wright say, in essence, that we do share culpability for our nations' actions and that we, as a nation, are reaping what we've sewn cuts many to the quick. But is that much of his argument untrue? While I disagree vehemently with some of the views I've heard spoken by Reverend Wright, I still agree completely with those of Barack Obama's, and I have the ability to distinguish between the ideas and spoken beliefs of the two. While some are quick to accuse Obama of sharing the same views as Jeremiah Wright, I'd ask that you provide an example in which Obama sided with Wright's brand of extremism, as opposed to disowning it. For those of you who find it so hard to believe it impossible to maintain your own views while associating with somebody with those different than yours, I feel badly for you. Perhaps that's an indication that you are so subject to the influence of others--to the adoption of their thoughts as your own--that you can't imagine a man or woman wise enough, or courageus enough, to do their own thinking despite the din of ideas or thoughts around them. Perhaps that's why you, like many others, went along for the ride with the Bush administration for so long.

Barack Obama, however, is a man and Presidential candidate capable of thinking for himself, and divesting himself from rhetoric and ignorance as well as the people spewing them. And that is why I will be voting for him in November.

JM Bell's Left of The Dial Gets Technical (UPDATED)


First day back, and I'll be a guest today on JM Bell's Left of the Dial, where the topic will be technology, how it's effecting our political landscape, and our lives.

Check it out at 4pm. 102.7fm, 1160am.

UPDATE: Due to poor time management on my part, I will be a guest next Saturday rather than today. If he bad mouths me on the air, I will deserve it.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The GOP and "New Racism"

The politics of the color barrier:

If you were born before 1970 or if you read public-opinion polls, then you cannot doubt the profound transformation wrought by the civil rights era. In 1944, the National Opinion Research Center asked whether "Negroes should have as good a chance as white people to get any kind of job, or [whether] white people should have the first chance at any kind of job"--and 55 percent still thought white people should have the "first chance." By 1972, only 3 percent thought so. But some academics--noting the bitterness of battles over busing, affirmative action, and aid to cities, as well as the evolution of the GOP into a virtually all-white party--reasoned that racial prejudice remained, even if it was no longer overtly expressed. They believed it had simply changed form. Their challenge was to define and to demonstrate the existence of this new racism.
It's a topic no one wants to address. Understandably, no one wants to be called a racist, and only those with no care for credibility will throw the word around flippantly. Still, it is an issue that I think was evidenced best by the subtle racism inherent in the national freak out over Scary Black Man Reverend Wright.

Racism does not always manifest in white hoods and burning crosses. Sometimes it's as simple as caring more about the color of a persons skin than you do what direction they will take our country in 2009 and beyond.

Perhaps I am missing something, but I don't give two shits what Obama's pastor said. Yeah, it made good teevee, and yeah Wright seems a little "out there." Should I care more about that than McCain's foreign policy floundering? Should that outweigh the responsible approach to policy Obama has exhibited in contrast to McCain posturing for war, more war, and even more war?

I should hope not.

When Adults Discuss Foreign Policy

Via The Left Coaster.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

John McCain, Confused

What? Where Am I? Are these my pants?

My previous post referred to John McCain’s confusion over who really sets Iran’s foreign policy, as demonstrated under questioning by reporter Joe Klein.

KLEIN: According to most diplomatic experts, the supreme leader Ali Khamenei is the guy who’s in charge of Iranian foreign policy, and also in charge of the nuclear program. But you never mention him. Why do you always keep on talking about Ahmadinejad since he doesn’t have power in that realm?

MCCAIN: Again, I respectfully disagree, when he’s the person that comes to the United Nations and declares his country’s policy is the extermination of the state of Israel, quote, in his words, “wipe them off of the map” then I know that he is speaking for the Iranian government, and articulating their policy, and was elected, and is running for reelection, as the leader of that country…The fact is that he’s the acknowledged leader of that country. You may disagree, that’s your right to do so, but I think if you asked any Average American who the leader of Iran is, I think they’d know.

The fact is that John McCain is confused as to who is really the leader of Iran. (Big hint: He has the words “Supreme Leader” in his title.) There is no real dispute here: Iranian foreign policy is formulated and set by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iran’s National Security Council, currently headed by Ali Larijani. Ahmadinejad may make a lot of ridiculous statements, but the fact is that he has very little influence in this regard.

A note to my Republican friends: I am actually very sorry that this is all you have to cast a vote for. My sympathies.

Beware The Senior Citizen

Democratic Strategist:

Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, has a New York Times op-ed that merits a careful read by all Democratic candidates, especially Senator Obama. Kohut warns that "The personal and social resistance of older voters to the party’s likely nominee could well keep a Democrat out of the White House and reverse the nationwide Democratic trend," and he provides polling evidence to make his case. Kohut cites an 8 point advantage (51-43) for McCain over Obama in favorability ratings by seniors in recent Pew Research Center polling, and notes,

...older voters — many of whom supported Democrats over the years — seem reluctant to support Mr. Obama. Hillary Clinton has carried the vote of people over 65 in 26 primary elections. And looking forward to the general election, the national polls now show John McCain running better against Mr. Obama among this older age group — as well as among middle-aged voters and younger voters.

The senior vote is becoming more important every election, because it is growing and because of seniors' high turnout rates. The Kiplinger Retirement Report notes, for example, that "In the 2000 elections, people age 65 and older cast 25% of the votes although they made up only 12% of the U.S. population."

In his Newsweek article "Generation Gap: Obama is trailing with older voters. Can he win them over?," Jonathan Alter writes that "40 percent of the voters in Pennsylvania were over 60, which is not surprising considering that Pennsylvania trails only Florida as the oldest state in the union."

Obama has built an army of small donors and young voters. It may come down to this; will they come out in record numbers for him again in November, or at least large enough numbers to counter the Bingo Players Coalition for Grandpa McCain?

This is where the blogs step in. More on this later.

Solid Campaign Coverage

Taking a page right out of Bill O'Reilly's playbook, we are given very important news everyone needs to know before voting.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Hillary Clinton is smart and forceful, John McCain is proud but has a volatile temper, and Barack Obama is a diplomat who deals well with different people and situations.
ADVERTISEMENT

At least, that's what graphologists say their handwriting reveals about them.

"Handwriting is a reflection of the inner personality. It shows a person's ego strength, how good they feel about themselves, their intellectual, communication and working styles," graphologist Sheila Lowe, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Handwriting Analysis", told AFP.

Graphology -- the study of how we loop our Ls and cross our Ts -- is not taken as seriously in the United States as in Europe.

But every four years, when a US presidential election rolls around, practitioners of the arcane science are much sought after as Americans try everything to analyze contenders for the White House.
Or not.

"The Real McCain" Goes Viral

#1 on YouTube.



Check out TheRealMcCain.com

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

42,000 Troops Deployed

Democracy Now:

In military news, the Pentagon has announced the upcoming deployments of more than 42,000 troops, including 25,000 active-duty Army soldiers who will be headed to Iraq. The new deployments will allow the US to maintain a presence of 140,000 troops in Iraq through the end of the year.
That good ol' surge, still-a-workin'.

McCain Courting Progressives?

And progressives falling for the sham?

Check out the last twelve posts on John McCain's campaign blog, which account for all content on McCain's blog over the past month:
  1. McCain on Saturday Night Live
  2. McCain launches eco-friendly store
  3. McCain tackles climate change
  4. McCain, his mother, and Katie Couric
  5. John McCain on the Daily Show
  6. McCain loves his mother
  7. McCain celebrates Cinco de Mayo
  8. McCain health care town hall
  9. McCain offers health care solutions
  10. McCain will lower health care costs, and make it available to everyone.
  11. John McCain visits the 9th Ward in New Orleans
  12. John McCain in Selma, Alabama, honoring civil rights

These twelve articles cumulatively paint a shocking fraudulent image of John McCain as a hip progressive. He appears on cool, supposedly center-left media, like SNL and the Daily Show. He is in with Latinos and African-Americans, honoring their holidays and memorials. He loves this mother and Katie Couric. He cares about the environment and global climate change. He will lower the cost of health care and make it available to everyone. The blog messaging is 100% progressive.

This all comes from a candidate who, back in November, had the word "conservative" appear on his website 291 times, while only using the word "bipartisan" 33 times. A few months earlier, McCain led all Republican candidates in the use of the word "conservative" on his website. Suddenly, he has shifted from being the great conservative champion to the cool, hip, progressive.
I don't know about you, but I watched McCain on The Daily Show. He was funny. He was personable. Jon was slightly nice to him.

I still would rather have a fork stuck in my eye than cast a vote for him.

Maybe I'm too idealistic, but I'd like to believe voters are smart enough to see this for what it is... campaign tactics and smoke screens. But Stoller argues otherwise.

Blog Topic: Things Younger Than John McCain

Funny because it's true.

John McCain was born on August 29th, 1936. His father was born in 1911 and his mother was born in 1912. If elected, he would be the oldest person inaugurated to that office.

[...] Am I being “age-ist”? Maybe. But maybe not. The world is a pretty complicated place right now and I’m thinking that it’s not such a great time to elect our oldest President ever. So sue me.

Fun With Stereotypes

Comic Relief for you Wednesday Morning from Red State Update.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bush's Iran Plan?

Raw Story:

An article in Tuesday's Jerusalem Post claims that US strikes on Iran are imminent.

"US President George W. Bush intends to attack Iran in the upcoming months, before the end of his term, Army Radio quoted a senior official in Jerusalem as saying Tuesday," the Israeli newspaper reports.

However, the White House immediately denied the report this morning.

"An article in today's Jerusalem Post about the president's position on Iran that quotes unnamed sources — quoting unnamed sources — is not worth the paper it's written on," White House press secretary Dana Perino said in a statement.

The John McCain Underpants Gnome Strategy for Success

For those of you not familiar, the Underpants Gnome Strategy goes like this:

1. Collect Underpants
2. ?
3. Profit


Step one and three - beginning and end - of the strategy they have down, it's just that troublesome middle step, the "how" of achievement that they are missing. And it's funny, because it's a cartoon.

But you know when it's not funny? When the same strategy is suggested by a candidate for President of The United States.

The Attorney General Battle Begins

Tonight, 4-6pm.

Listen, or watch here.

World Politics Food Fight

This is a great representation. (h/t The Monkey Cage)

McCain Runs Away from Blogger Attack on Fiscal Policy

The Wonk Room.

Late last week, the Wonk Room reported a new analysis by the Center for American Progress Action Fund finding that John McCain would recklessly exacerbate the fiscal irresponsibility of the Bush Administration and create the largest deficit in 25 years.

When contacted by Slate magazine for a response to our deficit analysis, the McCain campaign offered this:

Spokesman Brian Rogers dismissed the CAP study as coming from “a left-wing Democratic front group” but did not provide alternative figures. “The fact that they falsely criticize Sen. McCain’s policy proposals is unfortunate, but it’s hardly surprising,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Well, needless to say, we don’t believe our analysis is false, and we are very open to a debate on its merits. Note that you can read our methodology in detail on page 3 of the report.

Where is Iraq in the Campaign Coverage?

Missing.

I'm constantly amazed how Iraq is whitewashed out of the campaign narrative. After all, at the Presidential level, there's no 'pattern' of participants 'finding women less plausible military commanders than men', since the number of serious female Presidential candidates in American history can be counted on one finger. A more plausible explanation is Democrats following the long-standing pattern of antiwar voters voting against politicians that support unpopular gratuitously unnecessary wars.

The evidence suggests this is what happened. While earlier states saw split demographic trends, as the campaign wore on it's pretty clear Obama locked up the most anti-Iraq war constituency groups - African-Americans and liberals - whereas Clinton locked up the most pro-Iraq war constituency groups - older white people.

I'm with Yglesias, there is simply no way anyone has oxygen against Clinton if she votes against the war in Iraq, or even speaks out against it relatively soon after voting for it. It was only her obstinate support for the war in Iraq, support which lasted until 2006 or so, that saw her open up space for a rival. It's refreshing to have Obama hitting back against McCain on his own terms and shuffling up the village idiots on foreign policy.
And unfortunately this is compounded by the mainstream media's seeming ignorance that there is even a war still going on.

It's going to be up to bloggers and independent media to push the war back into the forefront of every voter's mind.

Google's Chat With Joe Lieberman

During which they advise him to kindly, please, for the love of God, JUST SHUT UP!

Senator Lieberman's staff identified numerous videos that they believed violated YouTube's Community Guidelines. In response to his concerns, we examined and ended up removing a number of videos from the site, primarily because they depicted gratuitous violence, advocated violence, or used hate speech. Most of the videos, which did not contain violent or hate speech content, were not removed because they do not violate our Community Guidelines.

Senator Lieberman stated his belief, in a letter sent today, that all videos mentioning or featuring these groups should be removed from YouTube -- even legal nonviolent or non-hate speech videos. While we respect and understand his views, YouTube encourages free speech and defends everyone's right to express unpopular points of view. We believe that YouTube is a richer and more relevant platform for users precisely because it hosts a diverse range of views, and rather than stifle debate we allow our users to view all acceptable content and make up their own minds. Of course, users are always free to express their disagreement with a particular video on the site, by leaving comments or their own response video. That debate is healthy.
Joe's ever failing quest to retain relevance continues...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Obama is No John Kerry

And that's a good thing.

Ronald Reagan, Appeaser

I thought this was a very fitting example of the stupidity lying at the heart of attacks on Obama as a "Chamberlain-like Appeaser" by the Preznit and John McCain. Not only is the attack irresponsible, in that it fosters an unnecessary disdain for the most human of all abilities to problem solve - talking - but in that it also contradicts the mythology of the Neo-Cons, that of Reagan as the Messiah, Ender of Cold Wars.

This is the same exact insult, grounded in the same war-cheerleading mentality, that was hurled by the extreme Far Right at Ronald Reagan in the 1980s because he sought to negotiate with that decade's Evil Empire. Conservative Caucus Chair Howard Phillips, for instance, "scorned President Reagan as 'a useful idiot for Kremlin propaganda,'" and published ads which, according to a January 20, 1988 UPI article (via LEXIS):

likens Reagan's signing of the INF Treaty to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's signing of an accord with Nazi Germany's Adolf Hitler in 1938. The ad, with the headline, "Appeasement Is As Unwise In 1988 As In 1938," shows pictures of Chamberlain, Hitler, Reagan and Gorbachev overhung by an umbrella. Chamberlain carried an umbrella and it became a World War II symbol for appeasement.
According to the January 19, 1988 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, when Pat Robertson was campaigning for President in Missouri in 1988, he "suggested that President Ronald Reagan could be compared to Neville Chamberlain . . . by agreeing to a medium-range nuclear arms agreement with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev." The Orange Country Register editorialized in September, 1988 that "Ronald Reagan has become the Neville Chamberlain of the 1980s. The apparent peace of 1988 may be followed by the new wars of 1989 or 1990."
So, George and John, as my mother used to say... sit down and shut up.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

McCain's Little YouTube Problem

Republicans are still crying foul over a DNC ad pointed at John McCain and his 100 Years in Iraq comment. But their cries of "unfair" and (of couse) "out of context" have fallen at the feet of one simple, irrefutable fact: There was video.

Now McCain once again faces the challenge of interlacing what he said then, what he's saying now, and what he plans to say into one consistent message as a candidate for the Presidency. Trouble is, once again, video.

Brave New Films:

There's no question John McCain is getting a free ride from the mainstream press. But with the power of YouTube and the blogosphere, we can provide an accurate portrayal of the so-called Maverick. We can put the brakes on his free ride!

Since we first released The Real McCain a year ago, our REAL McCain series has garnered close to 2 million views, with over 13,000 comments and tens of thousands more in petition signatures! Clearly, John McCain's record is something the public wants to discuss, and yet the corporate media is doing NOTHING to present the truth. We feel obliged to continue countering the mainstream media's love of McCain. And so we thought it was high time for a sequel: The Real McCain 2.

Watch the video http://bravenewfilms.org/watch/18994559/39179

We're doing everything to get the facts out there about McCain. Join us in making a concerted effort to tell the story that corporate media refuses to tell. E-mail this video to all of your friends and family members, news blogs and other local media outlets. And don't forget to Digg it!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

WaPo Opinion Page: "Don't Even Bother to Vote"

Friday, May 16, 2008

Slippery Slopes

Thursday's ruling by the California State Supreme Court may or may not have a monumental impact on the right of gays in the U.S. to be married. Whether it does or not, brace yourselves for the upcoming deluge of "slippery slope" arguments--such as the one made in these comments left by Dave Hodges on the Irrational Optimism blog--that will likely flood the blogosphere in record proportions.

To quote Mr. Hodges:

"...if the state can redefine terms at the whims of the populous, define
marriage to be between two men, [why] can't they define a chimp to be a person to
collect benefits from the government? What is stopping them from
redefining marriage to be between a man and a child? Or an animal? Or an
inanimate object? What is to keep a man from wanting to marry his other
personality?"

Of course, this sort of ridiculous, homophobic rhetoric is neither without precedent, nor is it necessarily reserved only for the completely ignorant or uneducated masses. What I find so surprising--aside from the lack of reason in these arguments--is that their purveyors miss the irony that they are serving as examples of the much more dangerous slopes we, as Americans and people in general, find ourselves prone to slipping down.

Those making arguments such as Mr. Hodges' don't seem to realize that they are themselves standing--or more correctly, sliding--down the slippery slopes of fear, intolerance, and bigotry. By the false logic of their own vehement debate, would it not be fair to conclude that they themselves are only a few steps removed from committing hate crimes out of unbridled prejudice, or perhaps locking themselves in their homes, guns at hand, fearfully preparing themselves and their families for some sort of imagined "gay invasion" because of their unchecked fear?

If Mr. Hodges and those sharing his deluded ideas aren't careful, they may find themselves slipping further and further down the slope, until they themselves are resting at the bottom of an abyss of inhumanity and hatred. Tread lightly.

Funding the Future, Made Easy

ActBlue:

Unemployment is at its highest since Katrina. The nation has lost more than a quarter of a million jobs since January. The housing market has collapsed, credit and financial crises have collided to imperil the financial security of millions of Americans, and energy and food prices continue to rise.

But lest we fear, the President has introduced the rebate check, tossed from the windows of the White House like a sandwich to Charlie on the MTA.

You know the song. Poor Charlie gets caught on the subway without enough change to get off. And no matter how good his wife's aim, her sandwiches don't fix Charlie's problem. He may be full, but he's still stuck on the train.

And so it will be for some 130 million families this month, when the first round of six-hundred-dollar checks hits the post. They'll open their mailboxes and find a lovely surprise—enough to buy a few tanks' worth of gas, or a few weeks' worth of groceries—but they will still be undeniably stuck.

This is not the best we can do.

When your check comes in the mail, make a statement about the kind of government you want.

Invest 10% of your rebate check in better ideas than rebate checks.

Go to www.actblue.com, find your favorite Democratic candidates, and put your 60 dollars—or 30 or 100—to work. It's an investment in the future, and one we're proud to support.

Build a Democratic future with us.

Ask A Working Woman Survey (2008)

Lend your voice:

This data, from a report by the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees, touches on just one of the many "challenges," to utilize a euphemism, U.S. working women face today.

Working women have lots of concerns. Equal pay. Balancing work and family. Job security. Health care coverage. Paid maternity leave.

The AFL-CIO and our community affiliate, Working America, are providing a chance to share those concerns through our just-launched online 2008 Ask a Working Woman survey. The bi-annual survey enables working women to share workplace concerns about such issues as equal pay and stronger family and medical leave laws. (Click here to take the survey and here to share it with other working women.) The Ask a Working Woman survey runs through June 20.

We'll compile the survey results and give them to candidates running at all levels of public office to help shape the policy agendas of incoming lawmakers.

Fred Thompson, Blogger

There are many things I never thought I would never get to write about. This is definitely one of them.

But you better believe this is one RSS feed I couldn't subscribe to fast enough.

Salt Lake County Democrats Holding On to #3 Spot


CLICK HERE and scroll down to "hot pages" to help push them to #1.

"Resolution of Disapproval" for Media Ownership Rules

In a landslide vote of support, the Senate yesterday approved a "Resolution of Disapproval" for the FCC's plan to deregulate media ownership. Courtesy of StopBigMedia.com:

Last December, the FCC voted to remove the “newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership” ban that prohibits one company from owning a broadcast station and the major daily newspaper in the same market. The resolution of disapproval (Senate Joint Resolution 28), introduced by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), would nullify the FCC’s new rules if passed by Congress and signed by the president. The House version of the resolution was introduced by Reps. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) in March.

Today, the Bush administration issued a statement opposing the resolution and threatening to veto it. The statement called the FCC’s new rules the product of “extensive public comment and consultation” but failed to mention that only 1 percent of public comments supported the administration’s position.

Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, which coordinates the StopBigMedia.com Coalition, made the following statement:

“Today’s historic Senate vote is a resounding victory for the vast majority of Americans who oppose media consolidation. We applaud the bipartisan leadership of Senators Dorgan and Snowe for acting in the public interest. But to stop Big Media from polluting our local airwaves with more junk journalism and propaganda, we need the House to move this legislation forward quickly."
Anyone else getting the impression that if the Preznit threatens a veto a bill, it most certainly is/was a good idea?

He's become our very own litmus test for intelligent legislation.

Two thumbs up for the Senate's decision on this.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Oil: Consume It, or Store It

Krugman simplifies oil market speculation:

One of the things I find puzzling about the whole oil market discussion is how complicated people seem to make it. They get all wrapped up in stuff about forward markets, hedge funds, etc., and lose sight of the fundamental fact that there are only two things you can do with the world’s oil production: consume it, or store it.

[...] So my challenge to people who say there’s an oil bubble is this: let’s get physical. Tell me where you think the excess supply of crude is going.

I See Dead People... Voting.

Can dead people vote? Seriously. It's a valid question.

National Flaming Racist Idiot Week

The Stupid, It Burns...

Did someone declare this National Flaming Racist Idiot week, and I just didn't notice until now? You have got to read Michael Medved's latest foray into pseudoscience: he has declared American superiority to be genetic, encoded in our good old American DNA. Because our ancestors were immigrants, who were risk-takers, who were selected for their energy and aggressiveness. Oh, except for those who are descended from slaves...

After Surprising Losses, GOP in "Crisis Mode"

Republicans are searching desperately for a rebrand, after losing three consecutive special elections, in what were consider +R districts. CQ Politics:

The leadership team met in crisis mode Wednesday, one day after Democratic candidate Travis W. Childers bested Republican Greg Davis 54 percent to 46 percent in Mississippi’s 1st District.

The victory by Childers, who is expected to be sworn in next week, followed similar Democratic wins in Illinois in March and Louisiana earlier this month, and it set off a day of soul-searching.

Rep. Thomas M. Davis III , a past chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), issued a blistering memo.

“The political atmosphere facing House Republicans this November is the worst since Watergate and is far more toxic than the fall of 2006, when we lost 30 seats (and our majority),” wrote Davis, R-Va., who criticized the party’s “inarticulate and unfocused national leadership.”
Incidentally, guess who they're blaming?

Do We Blog to Get Attention?

I can be a real cynic.

Campaign slogans do more to repel me and encourage scrutiny than they do rally me. A mob jumping on a bandwagon raises my hackles to an irrational level of avoidance. Family and friends constantly ridicule my hatred of Independence Day (a movie I liked when I saw it on opening night, and hated by the end of that summer, after everyone else had). This same inclination keeps me watchful of organized religion, social movements, and other cultural "phenomenon" in general, that I suspect many can just enjoy for the harmless ride (C'mon, at least one of you reading has done The Macarena, right?).

So often times, I have a hard time explaining - to those who know me well enough to have experienced this quirk in me - why I want so much to see a movement sweep the nation, and reclaim our institutions of people powered politics. Why do I not have the same reservations about such a collective experience as a grassroots uprising as I do dedicated fans of American Idol?

I don't know for sure, but when I read things like this, I think it must be close to an explanation:

Dave Neiwert and I were talking yesterday about the need for an AA for bloggers, because you get sucked in to the constant stream of information and research and debate. And the next thing you know, you've lost several hours on the computer or with your nose in a book or magazine. My suggestion was that there needed to be a further chapter of Blog-Anon for family members of bloggers who need to vent about their computer-addled spouses. The worst part is that sometimes it feels like no matter how much time you put in, how many hours of research, how much discussion or calls or...well, it just feels like you are running in place in quicksand some days.

And then I got an e-mail from a reader with a link to this YouTube, and I wanted to work even more. You'll see what I mean when you watch it.

In case anyone is wondering, this is how we get more and better Democrats -- better educated voters, found and nurtured one at a time, registered and ready to vote. People who, through the magic of human contact and a spark of inspiration from talking to someone else who is willing to put themselves on the line for a cause greater than themselves, also see the possibilities in a collective push to make things better.
There is nothing superior in my tone. I'm just admitting a difference I feel between myself and a good chunk of my own generation. And perhaps bandwagons, in and of themselves, are not evil. Perhaps the mob isn't always out to squelch dissent. And perhaps the distinctions we must make between lazy acceptance of our leaders - excused away by our individuality in a sea of individuals - and over zealous quests for influence is simply to question the intended result.

In being mutually cohesive with one and other, are we in search of like minds to justify our weaknesses, or are we banding together, as this brilliant woman writes, in a "collective push to make things better?" Do we do "things" to get "things," or do we follow what we feel is right? Do I blog to get attention, or do I want to make a difference? Maybe all of the above? I think all of this is worth a pause, now and then, to ask.

Don't get me wrong, I read Harry Potter and liked it, and I tap my foot every time I hear my boy JT singing "Sexyback," just like anyone else (with rhythm in their soul, that is, cause dammit, it had a beat), but that cannot, possible, be enough.

No offense, Justin.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

One Hundred Years, One Hundred Lobbyists

Meet the John "100 Years" McCain Team:

Charlie Black is John McCain's senior counsel and spokesperson, and epitomizes everything that's wrong with these lobbyists-for-hire working on the campaign. Black and his lobbying firm BKSH have a long history of hiring themselves out to brutal tyrants such as Mobuto Sese Seko of Zaire and Somali dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, as well as shady groups and individuals such as Blackwater and Ahmed Chalabi.

But Charlie Black isn't the only one. Senator McCain's other lobbyist-advisers have worked for clients such as the United Arab Emirates (helping with their public relations after a class action lawsuit concerning the enslavement of boy camel jockeys) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [...]

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. McCain still has more than 100 lobbyists working on his behalf—including at least ten who represent brutal dictators, human rights abusers, and other unsavory foreign interests.
Help CREDO Action hold McCain accountable.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

SUMP: Frank Has Done It Again

I've written this a few times before, but conservative blogger Frank Staheli has an ability, using his SUMP blog, to foster reasonable, and valuable debate in the comments of his posts.

Check out his latest topic for discussion: Rush Limbaugh Wants People to Be Stupid.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bush Approval Ratings: It's All About The Gas, Dummy!

From an ABC News/Washington Post poll:

"Eighty-two percent of Americans now say the country's
seriously off on the wrong track, up 10 points in the last year to a point from
its record high in polls since 1973. And 31 percent approve of Bush's job
performance overall, while 66 percent disapprove.

The country's mood -- and the president's ratings -- are
suffering from the double whammy of an unpopular war and a faltering economy.
Consistently for the last year, nearly two-thirds of Americans have said the war
in Iraq was not worth fighting. And consumer confidence is near its lowest in
weekly ABC News polls since late 1985. "

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino responded to the poll in today's press briefing by setting the record straight, explaining the obvious reason for the record-low approval ratings:


"Well, look, we're aware of polls. They're something that I know that news
media organizations love to do, and in fact it helps -- every week you could see
a new poll from multiple organizations. So I think that what we would say to
that is that, one, we understand that the war in Iraq has brought down -- has
brought negative feelings about where the country is headed. But also, one thing
you can track over and over again through the years is high gas prices. High gas prices have a really
negative effect on the psychology of the country, as well as on the economy.
It's like a drag on the economy and a tax on the working people...

...the most important thing we can do is make sure that, first of all, Congress doesn't do any more harm to the problem and exacerbate higher gas prices."


Thank you, Ms. Perino, for helping me realize why we Americans are so disapproving of and disgusted with this President and his administration. Of course, the price of gas is more upsetting to most than the loss of nearly four thousand brave American Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention tens of thousands of seriously injured and disabled veterans, many of whom return both physically and psychologically scarred, without adequate support from the country they served).

Americans I know get far angrier watching the digital meter zoom past $50 when they fill up their mini-vans and SUV's than they do contemplating the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians killed since our disgraceful invasion began.

And not even the loss of some of my most preciously-held civil liberties pisses me off as much as the thought of CONGRESS being allowed to screw me over and make my morning commute even more expensive!

Since there's such a simple reason for these disapproval ratings, all Bush should have to do is put his foot down and say "enough is enough" to his buddies in Big Oil who continue reaping record profits at our expense! I'm pleased to acknowledge that one of my new home state's Senators (Maria Cantwell-D, WA) has been doing what she can for the last two years to combat this problem. Of course, nothing says, "we care about the high price of gas" like the White House immediately threatening to veto the legislation she proposed a year ago that would make gas price-gouging a crime.

Domestic Wiretapping Up, Terrorist Prosecutions Down

Investment: flaying of civil-liberties that are the core of what it means to be an American. Return: Um...

The number of Americans being secretly wiretapped or having their financial and other records reviewed by the government has continued to increase as officials aggressively use powers approved after the Sept. 11 attacks. But the number of terrorism prosecutions ending up in court -- one measure of the effectiveness of such sleuthing -- has continued to decline, in some cases precipitously.

The trends, visible in new government data and a private analysis of Justice Department records, are worrisome to civil liberties groups and some legal scholars. They say it is further evidence that the government has compromised the privacy rights of ordinary citizens without much to show for it.
If the Bush Presidency (and McCain's promised extension of the same business model, despite condemning warrantless wiretapping in 2006) were a business, stockholders would be jumping ship.

Consider this post an inside trading tip for stockholders voters in November.

Life-long Republicans for Obama?

Moveon.org member generated video, "Obama in 30 Seconds":

Tipping Point

Convention coverage from A Liberal Mormon.

I was impressed by stories of their efforts to mobilize their districts and promote liberal values in counties much less liberal than my own. It’s impressive not only to see their drive, but their renewed hope in the current political climate. I’m not about to handicap any races or predict any changes in the balance of power. But I can see for certain that more people have been galvanized by the national and local events of the past several years to become involved and are determined to make a change in Utah politics. There seems to be more excitement than I’ve seen before. Who knows what might be possible if all that frustration, determination, and hope translates into grassroots activism? Maybe we have reached a tipping point here in Utah.
Galvanized. I've been trying to think of that word for months now to describe what I see going on, and it was always on the tip of my tongue, but never came.

In the immortal (is he still alive?) words of Phil Collins... (Click on the link... C'mon I dare you)

Rocky

...is back.

When Rocky Anderson exited office, he left a lot of gaps. The Legislature lost its whipping boy; reporters, their favorite quote; Davis County, the devil; and the capital, its protester in chief.

The latter seems clear as nary a protest has been announced for later this month - May 28 and 29 - when President Bush taps the Beehive State for John McCain money with trusty ATM card Mitt Romney.

Anderson, now engulfed in his nonprofit High Road for Human Rights and too busy to rally residents against Bush's war, is nonetheless riled.

"These same people who are contributing these enormous sums to McCain are the same ones who are enjoying the biggest tax cuts during this fiscal disaster," the former mayor laments. "This is not my father's Republican Party."

And Anderson is miffed that the advocacy community seems MIA.

"Frankly, I'm wondering where all the young people are?" he asks.[...]
It is impossible not to like the guy.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Josie Valdez

Alerted to this by Bob Springmeyer's Facebook updates, and found more here and here.

Great choice.

Happy Mother's Day From The Sidetrack!

Greetings from the beautiful Northwest!

To all our mothers, Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or Republican, and all the mothers who read The Sidetrack, "thank you!", and Happy Mother's Day.

And you thought I didn't contribute to The Sidetrack anymore...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Oh, Was There a Democratic Convention Today Too?

My email to Ric Cantrell of The Senate Site:

Ric,

I'm going to have my liberal card revoked for writing this email, but writing it I am, nonetheless.

What you guys have done with the convention website, and coverage is admirable and impressive.

What better lesson for Democratic leadership in the state that their voice is all but silent today. Even those like myself with allegiance to the party and Democratic ideology are turning to the "Leadership" site (and Tom Gover's live blogging as well, heh) for news of Utah elections. I couldn't even begin to put my frustration at that reality into words right now.

I have to assume we would disagree greatly on what's best for the future of our state when it comes to policy, but you have my utmost respect for what you are bringing to the table in engaging citizens in the process.

Regards,
Jason
The SideTrack
thesidetrack.blogspot.com
Trust me folks, this was a very difficult email to write, but I believe that it's important to give credit where credit is due.

And there is no way around this one: The Utah Republican Party is kicking our ass in utilizing new technology to engage voters in the state. I've talked to a multitude of Democrats in the state today that have been relying on the Republican Party's convention website for news (which of course means that the Republican Party currently has total message control for concerned citizens). I've even talked to Democrats who weren't aware there even was a Democratic convention today, where it was, or where they could find information online about how things were going. And I don't need to tell those of you proficient in 21st century technology that this fact is a near polar opposite of the experience voters in other states experience. The national Democratic Party leads by a mile on utilizing cheap, and easy online resources for messaging, fundraising, and building coalitions.

Unexpected circumstance keep me at home today, instead of in the trenches of the convention floor as I had planned, and if I didn't have a good set of cell phone numbers in my contact list, and the sheer nerve to keep calling and pestering folks for updates, I would have no idea (as is probably the case for most other Democrats in Utah right now) what was going on in my own party's convention.

Ridiculous, to say the least.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Higher Gas Prices ---> Less Gas Consumed?

Eventually, Krugman explains:

In the long run, the best estimate of the price elasticity of demand for auto fuel seems to be -0.7. That is, a 10 percent rise in prices will reduce gas consumption by 7 percent. Of this, 4 points come from shifting to cars with better mileage, 3 points from driving less.

Of course, you go into an energy crisis with the auto fleet you have, not the auto fleet you want. So right there is a reason for a much lower short-run demand response. Plus, a good part of the reduction in miles driven involves long-term choices too — where you choose to live and/or work, how you arrange your life. So the short-run elasticity of demand is fairly small.

Given time, however, higher prices could lead to a repeat of the 70s-80s experience, when the US auto fleet became a lot more fuel efficient.


The long term consumption isn't easily changed. I can't change the gas mileage my vehicle gets , or the distance I have to travel to get to work, the grocery store, etc., overnight. But as gas prices rise, and stay high, I'll move closer to work, buy a hybrid, use more public transportation. My oil dependency would decrease.

Now as my oil dependency decreases, companies that make money off of my oil dependency will have to find a way to make up for the revenue they're losing from me (obviously, they won't care much about one person, but you get the idea). And now we have Exxon looking for alternative energy sources in an attempt to make money (they are used to billions in profit after all).

I hate going to the gas station as much as anyone right now, but (and maybe I'm just being overly optimistic) if we look at things to fix the short term gas prices (like gas tax holidays, drilling in ANWR, building more refineries, or easing government regulations), we prevent, or at the very least slow, the incentive for people to change their oil consumption habits. Given that oil is a limited resources, incentive for decreasing our consumption habits isn't a bad thing (oh, that and funding terrorists and stuff).

At least that's how I make myself feel better about seeing how much a tank of gas costs, that, and knowing that people in Europe pay a lot more.

Cheney - The Economy Is Great!

He even said it with a straight face:

Vice President Dick Cheney, who declared $2.5 million in taxable income last year and $8.8 million in 2006, says America's economy is strong as ever.

[...]

Cheney said that the US economy “remains the envy of the world,” and that the recent “slowdown” might have been worse had Bush not enacted tax cuts in 2001 and 2003.

Because of this, he said, “the slowdown that did come was a fairly mild one.”

“For the better part of six years now, this nation's economy grew without pause,” Cheney added.
It's good to see that near lame duck status hasn't made him lose his sense of humor . . . .

FISA - Now We're Back To Immunity???

This can't be good

Have Dem leaders really moved in the discussions from whether to provide amnesty to how to provide it? Beyond that, why in the hell do the telcos have a seat at the negotiating table on this issue at all?

I doubt Congress invited the Mafia to the table when it wrote the RICO Act. Seems pretty unlikely that there were any drug kingpins at the table when Congress wrote the Continuing Criminal Enterprise statute. But AT&T gets to write this one?

The telcos participated in illegal, warrantless spying--not a "controversial government electronic surveillance program"--in illegal spying. They broke the law. They should have their day in court along with the plaintiffs in the cases against them. But they shouldn't be writing the damn law that lets them off the hook.

Brew Your Own Ethanol

Without driving up food prices?

E-Fuel Corp unveiled on Thursday the "MicroFueler" touting it as the world's first machine that allows homeowners to make their own ethanol and pump the brew directly into their cars.

The portable unit that sells for $10,000 resembles a gasoline station pump and nozzle -- minus the slot for a credit card, or the digital "SALE" numbers that whir ever faster at retail pumps as global demand pushes fuel prices to record levels.

Instead of tapping gasoline from an underground tank, the pump's back end plugs into home power and water supplies to make ethanol for as little as $1 a gallon (3.8 liters), according to E-Fuel.

The company says one of the machine's top selling points is its sweet tooth. It ferments fuel from sugar, the price of which is historically cheap as global supplies are glutted.
Often such announcements fizzle out without fanfare due to that always anticipated "catch." I haven't found one here, yet, but even if (when?) I do, it's encouraging to read, if only as reminder that there are many working toward responsible energy independence.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ethan Done Said It

Time to legalize it?