Thursday, July 31, 2008

Walker, Texas Ranger and Political Absolutes

Political Absolute #341: If you find yourself on the same side as Chuck Norris, you are wrong.

When President Bush recently lifted the executive ban on offshore drilling, the ball was placed completely in Congress' court to take the next move. But instead of Congress representing the majority of Americans' wishes to drill for domestic oil, they once again are favoring a minority. Pelosi justified their inactivity by blaming the president: "What we're saying is, 'Exhaust other remedies, Mr. President.' … It is the economic life of America's families, and to suggest that drilling offshore is going to make a difference to them paycheck to paycheck now is a frivolous contention."

My first reaction to Pelosi's recent congressional energy rebellion was to say, "What an anti-American, anti-reality-based form of representation."
What is infuriating about this column (stupidity aside) is that it may possibly, however minutely, be taken serious by someone who will then go cast a vote in a very important election.

Norris begins with vague, unsubstantiated attacks, provides no relevant data (provides no data at all, really) to support his argument for offshore drilling, and wraps it all up with by kissing Rush Limbaugh's ass (with a nod to O'Reilly, Coulter and Beck, to boot).

Completely ridiculous. Were I an editor at Human Events, I would be embarrassed this published under my masthead, making a mockery of the entire organization (not that they don't deserve it).

US Dept. of Energy: 2030 Before Offshore Drilling Would Impact Oil Prices

From the one department Bush hadn't gotten around to politicizing, apparently:

"access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production would not be expected to start before 2017."

Missing Emails Ordered "Found"

I'm not sure what good such an order will do for opening the doors on one of the most secretive White Houses since Nixon, but this is an encouraging ruling nonetheless.

[...] U.S. District Court Judge John M. Facciola ordered the Bush administration to locate the missing communications on portable devices and individual workstations.

In January, RAW STORY reported on a White House chart shown to Congress which claimed that for a period of 473 days, no e-mail was archived. The chart, which was not made public, directly conflicts with White House Spokesman Ton Fratto's claim that "we have absolutely no reason to believe that any e-mails are missing."

Additionally, e-mails from Vice President Dick Cheney's office went missing during a crucial period of time when he and aides were involved in stemming the tide of the Valerie Plame scandal. Likewise, a January report by the Associated Press found that some White House e-mail back-up tapes were reused.

While the judge did not order the Executive Office of the President to make forensic copies of the workstations in question, he did say that "there likely are e-mails not currently being preserved on back-up tapes."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Win for Net Neutrality

In reaction to an encouraging 3-2 vote by the FCC against Comcast's traffic filtering practices, Common Cause's Chellie Pingree pens one of the most simple and clear breakdowns of what this fight is about I have yet to read. Via Huffington Post:

Net Neutrality -- a guiding principle of the Internet since its beginning -- means that content is all treated equally. It means that when I'm reading the New York Times online, my Internet provider lets me download the page the same way I would download, say, the pictures of Harriet Pendelton's surprise 80th birthday party on the website of my town of North Haven, Maine.

But that's not what companies like Comcast and Verizon want. They want the ability to slow down certain kinds of traffic. For example, they might decide that content providers who pay them get full-speed service, while those who don't get relegated to a "slow-lane." So without Net Neutrality, the New York Times might pop up on my screen almost instantly but I might have to wait a while to get to the important stuff (such as Harriet's birthday pictures.)

Think about what this means: small Internet startups might not be able to afford this gatekeeper's fee, and their second-class status could prevent them from competing with companies that have deeper pockets. With Net Neutrality, the level playing field that gave us Google, YouTube and eBay when they were start-ups would suddenly start to tilt in favor of the big, established players.

As president of Common Cause, I joined a coalition of groups ranging from the Christian Coalition to Consumers Union, and we went to Congress with over a million signatures asking that Net Neutrality be made law. Unfortunately Republicans in Congress refused, and without this week's FCC decision, there would have been nothing protecting American consumers from big telecoms who wanted to create a pay-to-play environment.

Two FCC Commissioners in particular -- my friends Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps -- deserve special recognition. As Matt Stoller points out, these two have been fighting the good fight for Net Neutrality and issues like media consolidation. We're lucky to have them at the FCC but all too often they've been blocked by the three Republicans on the Commission.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Congressional Criminal History

This is a great way to celebrate the final indictment of Senator Tubes. From the Washington Independent, Members of Congress Charged With a Crime, 1798 - 2008.

After the indictment of Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, on July 29, 2008, TWI got to wondering how many members of Congress came before him. The answer: at least 100. Stevens shares the list with characters like Sen. John Smith, D-Ohio, who, around 1807, was indicted for treason as a co-conspirator with Aaron Burr against the United States. He was eventually acquitted.
My favorite:
M. Alfred Michaelson (R-Ill.) 5/9/29
Violating Prohibition by importing liquor
* Acquitted 10/19/29

The Battle for Political Technology Use is Over

Laid to rest by this strangely unprofessional, weirdly devoid of cohesive message, and oddly conceived ad the RNC just emailed me. It made me laugh, but outside of that, it's obvious they've missed the boat.

Sold, to Big Oil

It never hurts to have the facts on your side, but in addition this election cycle, it has been impressive to see how focused and organized the messaging machine of the Democratic party, and various well funded coalitions has been. The latest:

Monday, July 28, 2008

McCain's Tax Soundbite, Not So True

John McCain likes to talk about how he will balance the budget. He also likes to tell those gathered to hear him speak that he will lower taxes, while Obama will raise them (h/t Salon).

"The choice in this election is stark and simple," McCain said at the Denver town hall. "Senator Obama will raise your taxes. I won't. I will cut them where I can."

But according to a respected, independent group of tax-policy experts, McCain’s plan would balloon the deficit and provide a windfall to the wealthy while affording only nominal relief to middle-class taxpayers. McCain has moved toward the Republican base on a handful of issues this campaign season, but his tax plan might actually shift the erstwhile deficit hawk to the right of the current president.

So while his tax plan (who knew there was something to the right of Bush when it came to taxes?) may not be all that budget balancing, at least he's right about Obama raising taxes, isn't he? Well, not according to his own advisers-
It's an old argument you already know — Republicans cut taxes, Democrats raise them. Except it's not true, at least not in the way that it seems. But don't take my word for it. Here is Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain's chief economic policy adviser. "I used to say that Barack Obama raises taxes and John McCain cuts them, and I was convinced," he told me in a phone interview this week. "I stand corrected."

That's because the policies proposed by Obama are, unlike sound bites, actually complicated. He would raise taxes on those who make more than about $200,000, in some cases by significant amounts, through increases in taxes on capital gains, dividends and regular income. But Obama has also proposed a whole range of other tax cuts, for health care expenses, poor seniors, working people, homeowners, parents and even renewable energy. The net effect, according to experts in both campaigns and independent analysts, is a reduction in government revenue over 10 years. In other words, a tax cut.

Iowans: Stop Immigration Raids

Rawstory:

Dozens begged a visiting congressional delegation to do everything in its power to stop federal immigration raids. The May raid in Postville at Agriprocessors, the nation's largest kosher meatpacking plant, by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials was the largest of its kind in U.S. history.

Reps. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., Albio Sires, D-N.J., and Joe Baca, D-Calif., members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, heard three hours of often emotional testimony. Women whose husbands are being detained talked about their longing to be reunited, underage workers detailed deplorable working conditions and city and religious officials lamented the impact on the community.

The speakers alternated between sharp criticism of immigration officials and the Department of Homeland Security for launching what they called an inhumane raid, and at their former employer, Agriprocessors, which they said took advantage of workers and allowed unsafe conditions. Many said they were equally responsible for the situation.

By the end, Gutierrez said he had heard enough.

"This is wrong," he said. "We've taken men and women who want to work and made felons out of them."
Others testified on the poor working conditions (12 hour workdays with no overtime) and other ways that employers were taking advantage of employees.

It seems obvious, reading the testimonies, that there is no quick, single-stroke solution (like say, a fence, or dead-of-night raids on packing plants) to our immigration issues. It's going to require a comprehensive.

The "solutions" so far do not represent American values, or the history of our country since it's founding. They are borderline inhumane.

Alberto's Department of Justice

Was a sham, an internal DOJ report concludes.

The report, prepared by the Justice Department’s inspector general and its internal ethics office, singles out for particular criticism Monica Goodling, a young lawyer from the Republican National Committee who rose quickly through the ranks of the department to become a top aide to Mr. Gonzales.

Ms. Goodling, who testified before Congress in May 2007 at the height of the scandal over the firings of nine United States attorneys, introduced politics into the hiring process in a systematic way that constituted illegal misconduct, the report found.

Last month, the inspector general, Glenn A. Fine, released a separate report that found a similar pattern of politicized hiring at the Justice Department in reviewing applications from young lawyers for the honors and intern programs. The new report released Monday goes much further, however, in documenting pervasive evidence of political hiring for some of the department’s most senior career, apolitical positions, including immigration judges and assistant United States attorneys.
And let us not forget that our President stood by this man. Defended him. Vouched for his sincerity.

Our President is a poor judge of character.

Good Work, If You Can Get It

WaPo:

The U.S. government paid a California contractor $142 million to build prisons, fire stations and police facilities in Iraq that it never built or finished, according to audits by a watchdog office.

The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) said Parsons of Pasadena, Calif., received the money, part of a total of $333 million but only completed about one-third of the projects, which also included courthouses and border control stations. The inspector general's office is expected to release two detailed audits today, evaluating Parsons's work on the contract, which is worth up to $900 million.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fox News, Classy as Always

I can tolerate most cheap shots, but not the one's that are just plain stupid.

We dug into the internals on the latest Fox News poll, and some of the questions might surprise you (or might not, since it's Fox).

Example: Have you heard any of your friends and neighbors say there is something about Barack Obama that scares them?

There's more .

Friday, July 25, 2008

Contribute to the National Democratic Platform

From the inbox:

SATURDAY—26 JULY 2008 at Noon

Morgan Bowen's Campaign Office—Behind Great Harvest *****

Input to the National Democratic Platform


The reason for this email is an opportunity that the Obama Campaign has created to open up the process for contributing to the National Democratic Platform. Here is what the Campaign says about the process:


Every four years, the Democratic Party assembles a platform that outlines the party's position on a variety of issues. Traditionally, the platform is written by paid professionals and then presented to the American people.


This year, that's going to change.


From Saturday, July 19th to Sunday, July 27th, everyday people all across America will hold Platform Meetings in their homes, or in their local churches and even coffee shops, to help build the Democratic Party's platform for change from the bottom up.


Attend a Platform Meeting and tell us what matters to you, so we can incorporate your ideas into the party's platform. A few participants may even be invited to appear and testify at the National Hearing.


Josh Der, Chair of Cache Valley for Obama, arranged with me and Morgan Bowen at the Pioneer Day parade to hold a Platform Meeting at Morgan's Congressional campaign headquarters this Saturday (TOMORROW) at noon. His headquarters is located just behind Great Harvest at 55 W Center St. (on the east side of the building), Logan.

Fannie and Freddie Bailout Cost Could Reach $100 Billion

TAP:

The Congressional Budget Office, which missed both the housing bubble and the stock bubble says the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will cost approximately $25 billion and that there is probably a better than 50 percent chance that the mortgage giants won't actually need to be bailed out.

My guess is that the price tag will be close to $100 billion. A lot of bad mortgage debt will show up in the next two years -- in many cases these mortgages are not even in trouble now, but they almost certainly will be in the future as homeowners owe far more than the value of their home. When it comes to meltdown from the bubble, we are still in the early innings.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hubris


TPM:
It's lucky for McCain that Barack Obama is the one with a hubris problem. Otherwise, this McCain poster in support of his campaign to be elected God might raise some eyebrows ...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

McCain: Media Coverage Has Been Fair

Contradicting what you may have heard on AM radio, John McCain thinks coverage of the campaign so far has been fair. Because he is, after all, a big boy:

Asked whether he believes he’d had unfair media coverage, McCain replied: “I don't think so. I think …it is what it is. I'm a big boy. And I'm enjoying every minute of the campaigning. And I'm certainly not complaining. And, in fact, I think it’s fun to watch."

Couric asked: “Do you think your campaign simply isn't as adept as Senator Obama's when it comes to facilitating media coverage?”

McCain replied: “No, I think my campaign's doing fine. We're two or three points behind. We're doing fine. I'm very happy with where we are. Senator Obama has run a very successful campaign, gaining the nomination of his party, and attracting the attention of many people. I'm happy. We're putting one foot ahead of the other. I'm happy with where we are. I relish the underdog. And I'm confident we're gonna be victorious. I'm very happy with my campaign. I'm very happy with where we are. Love the town hall meetings and I love the kind of campaigning we're doing.”

Why Morgan Bowen?

I'm getting a lot of email from friends and readers wanting clarification on my interest in UT-1 candidate Morgan Bowen's campaign, perceiving a contradiction between my personal politics, openly displayed on the front page of The SideTrack, and what they read at bowenforcongress.com

Much of the email is coming from out of state, where many understand that Utah is a "red" state, but don't fully grasp just how tragically "red" the political DNA here is. But for Utah readers, I can explain (and hopefully engage others in the district to join me).

Admittedly, I abhor the word "bipartisan." While a nice notion, it's become a dirty word in our federal and state institutions, and can be found attached most often to bad legislation, or weak minded whining during campaign seasons (watch how often you see an incumbent respond not with factual defense of a policy, but a childish "Oh, how partisan!" distraction from issues). And I'm not much more keen on the word "Independent". It means very little in Utah, where too often "Independent" simply means voting Republican without introspection while bitching about Republicans.

So, I have to acknowledge the irony in my fondness of a candidate who can easily be described as both of these things. But it's not quite that simple. Morgan Bowen is running as a Democrat for a reason; he is one. And a proud one at that. But when it comes to policy, Morgan isn't concerned with party so much as good decision making, and being true to himself, and this sometimes takes him as close to conservative policy as a Democrat can get and still use the Big D. He believes in the populist notion that the more people playing a role in his policy formation, the better it will be, and I believe if elected Morgan would hold true to this, simply because it is his nature. It is the way he reaches his conclusions that engages me, even if I might disagree with his final conclusion.

He does trend much further right than my personal politics care for, I agree, but in contrast he would also not, as a representative, fit into the cess pool that is the Blue Dog coalition. He finds the middle on issues where (I believe) there is room to do so, and to disagree about it. On the important issues, such as Iraq and energy policy (where, incidentally, he outs himself as a T. Boone Pickens fan!), he reaches the same conclusions I do, often just through different ways of thinking. And it's this pragmatic nature of his that allows me to easily put aside my quest for liberal domination in order to volunteer and support, whenever I can, a candidate that I believe deserves to be a United States Congressman much more than those we have propped up as "leaders" for far too long.

But a more specific (and being a blogger I have to say more important) reason for Morgan's appeal is an example I'll provide below that had an effect on me very similar to the reasons I became an Obama supporter very early in the primary. Morgan "get's it." This video is Morgan's response to news that Rob Bishop had accepted large sums of money from Energy Solutions this campaign season (a fact that Bishop's chief of staff would have us believe is just "nasty and thoughtless" to even point out... which still makes me laugh). It was produced by Morgan and his son from a patch of lawn overlooking the Energy Solutions Arena, then uploaded to his YouTube page later that evening. It cost him nothing but a little time and know how. And for me, watching this (beyond the merit of the message it conveys, of course) gives me hope that Utah is not completely left behind in the use of technology and responsiveness to further engage each and every voter in the political process, and how easily we all become activists for change. Morgan understands not only the necessity but also the opportunity of campaigning this way.

Enjoy. And give, dammit.

MoveOn Ad Works With Independents

Seems they don't like the idea of being in Iraq for 100 years either (from The Hill)

MoveOn.org’s controversial “Not Alex” ad did not sit well with Republicans, but it scored well with Democrats and independents, according to a recent survey.

“Not Alex,” which debuted in June, features a young woman with a baby boy named Alex sitting on her lap. She says, “John McCain, when you say you would stay in Iraq for 100 years, were you counting on Alex? Because, if you were, you can’t have him.”

A plurality of the poll’s respondents, 34 percent, rated the ad as the “most effective” out of a group of six campaign television commercials. Eight percent of Republicans said it was the “most effective” compared to 55 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of independents. The poll was conducted by Wilson Research Strategies and The Hill newspaper.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Political Videos and Google's Speech to Text.

Google's new gadget brings another direct route to the candidates, in their own words.

With the help of our speech recognition technologies, videos from YouTube's Politicians channels are automatically transcribed from speech to text and indexed. Using the gadget you can search not only the titles and descriptions of the videos, but also their spoken content. Additionally, since speech recognition tells us exactly when words are spoken in the video, you can jump right to the most relevant parts of the videos you find.
Don't tell John.

Conservative Front Group: Make Bush President for Life

Think Tank shenanigans (h/t: at-Largely)

Family Security Matters a neo-conservative based think tank has published an article advocating that George W. Bush should be a dictator for life. The organization has since taken the article down, but is still viewable via this cached link.

Conquering the Drawbacks of Democracy: By Philip Atkinson

The article written by Philip Atkinson states that Bush would fail his country by becoming an ex-President or can achieve greatness by becoming President-for-Life Bush in order to bring sense to Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Atkinson is bluntly advocating that Bush should become dictator for life with these outrageously anti-American statements.

From the article:

President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming “ex-president” Bush or he can become “President-for-Life” Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.

Atkinson also advocates that Bush should get rid of everyone in Iraq through military force and repopulate the country with Americans.

Free Market News Network investigations have revealed that Family Security Matters is a front group for the Center for Security Policy, an conservative think tank with ties to Dick Cheney.

No offense, Paul and Lyall, but sometimes I wonder if you think tank folk aren't in fact the glue-eaters of our political discourse.

Krugman, on Oil

Simply explained, prices could drop, because we'll adjust our consumption.

there’s a reasonable case for believing that oil prices will fall for a while — not because high prices were the result of runaway speculation, but because of the delayed effects of high prices on demand.
Throughout this debate on what to do about soaring gas prices the most frustrating thing I've come across is the argument from the right that supply is too low (calling it an oil shortage). Oil is so ingrained into the world's energy production that it will all sell, and we'll never have a surplus of oil. If it were cheap I'd drive more, so I assume would a large number of people. In terms of how much we'd could if it were inexpensive, we are in a shortage, but what we're seeing is high prices due quickly growing demand and limited refining capabilities.

Drilling for more oil (off shore or on) or converting tar sand and oil shale are too far out in development terms to increase supply in the next few years, and again do nothing to address our refining capabilities. And while decreasing demand in the short term is equally difficult (we bought all of those SUV's, after all), changing demand in the long term can happen more quickly than most decision makers will admit, and faster than an increase in supply can come online (think mass transit, four day work weeks, carpooling, etc.).

In terms of finding a solution, it's not exactly rocket science.

Monday, July 21, 2008

$28,200 (A Nasty and Thoughtless Post)

Total campaign contributions to Rob Bishop's re-election campaign from Energy Solutions this year: $28,200. From the Tribune (emphasis mine):

The company, which is fighting a bill in Congress that would block its attempt to import foreign radioactive waste to Utah, has given Bishop nearly $25,000 since April. That's more than one-third of Bishop's total campaign haul of $67,000 for the time period covered in campaign finance disclosures filed late Tuesday.
Bishop's opponent, Democrat Morgan Bowen, says the Salt Lake City-based company is not merely supporting a candidate it likes, it's buying one.
"He is not the people of the 1st District's congressman. He is EnergySolutions' congressman," Bowen said. "Just follow the money."
Bishop's Chief of Staff Scott Parker shot back.
"That's kind of a nasty and thoughtless thing to say, but maybe he doesn't realize Rob doesn't actually make decisions based on who might support him and who might criticize him. Rob makes decisions with his constituents in mind, and most importantly based on what he thinks is accurate and right," he said.
Oh Scott. Really?

At the risk of being "nasty and thoughtless" myself, what a complete load of steaming cow excrement, my man.

Anyone walks up and hands me $30,000, I'm at least going to feel obligated to answer their phone calls in the future, if not actively legislate in their benefit. And if you read further in the article, Parker also asserts that Bowen's objections are merely a sign of his own weakness, that he would not be as bold and clean and shiney and strong as the Invisible Congressman in accepting large amounts of money without feeling beholden to these contributors.

What tripe from a Chief of Staff. I mean I expect him to defend the congressman, it's his job, right? But this is the best he came up with? This, to him, is good enough? This is a reason for Utahn's to vote for Bishop and not Bowen? We're that gullible and uninformed?

I disagree, Mr. Parker. Utahn's are not this stupid, and the suggestion that we are with these feeble defenses of Bishop is insulting, and dishonest.

I applaud Bowen and the Tribune for bringing these donations to light. Maybe we can help balance the monetary scales in this race.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

DNC Convention Bag

Ahem.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Road Trip for Democracy 2008 (Day Two and a Half)


I lost my damn camping pillow already. Somewhere in a standard cab Toyota Tacoma, believe it or not. It was the cool one that weighed only a few ounces and folded up on itself for easy backpack stuffing.

It was red, and I hadn't even taken the price tag off. Sigh.

I haven't thought about politics at all today. Well okay, a little bit when I saw the John McCain yard sign in Haley, and just a few minutes ago when I realized I forgot to pass something very important on to Rob Miller regarding the convention trip. Rob, if you're read this, my bad!

Anyway, into the wild, beyond the reaches of cell phone signal and wireless.

Keep an eye on the Republicans while we're gone.

No word form us by Monday, feel free to launch an all out blogger search party (invite Paul Mero, I'd bet he can sniff out a stranded liberal from miles away).

Road Trip for Democracy 2008 (Day Two)


Podcasting most of the drive up here.

This one is one of my new favorites.

Political Wire's Political Podcast.

Check it out.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Road Trip for Democracy 2008 (Day One - Part Two)


Ketchum, Idaho.

Democratic candidate flyers on every bar window (and there are a lot of bars... not that I'm complaining).

The Starbucks is the most crowded place in town next to the "lunch buffet" down the street (yeah, sue me, I chose the Starbucks).

Haven't seen any of Hemingway's cats yet.

Road Trip for Democracy 2008 (Day One)


Headed north with the rest of The SideTrack staff for a little outdoor recreation (see photo for destination). We're using the excuse that it's an important step away from politics to refocus and recharge, but really someone had the idea, and we all had the time.

Light blogging ahead, but taking the wireless card and laptop, so I can blog on the drive.

I can't decide if that's cool, or sad.

If The SideTrack falls suspiciously silent from here, a bear ate us.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Oblivious


This surpassed easy partisan hits and manifested as (near) sympathy for such extreme cluelessness.

Someone please buy grandpa a globe, huh?

Cheap Entertainment

Next time you find yourself with a free afternoon (Something I do not have many of lately, which explains why I'm wasting time on YouTube instead of getting the work done... I don't respond well to deadlines.) take a moment to explore candidate videos from the 2007/08 primaries.

The Fred Thompson campaign ads, still warm at less than a year old, replay much funnier than any sitcom you'll find on primetime. And Rudy Giuliani? So easy to hate last fall. Now there is something almost endearing about his completely obtuse attitude toward the American experience and over simplification of presidential campaigning.

Good times.

Takeover

538 blog:

In Missouri, Obama will have 150 paid organizers and maintain a 12-1 paid organizer edge in my native state. Show-me, indeed. In Michigan, Obama will put an unprecedented 150 field organizers on the ground. In Ohio, why not go for 300 field organizers? That sounds like a nice, absurdly large, round number.

This is the campaign equivalent of invasion with overwhelming force. In the coming days, we should be hearing more reports like these from other battlegrounds (here's Iowa, for example), giving us a clearer and clearer picture of each campaign’s voter contact strategy. Already, however, Marc Ambinder has pointed out that:
The polls don't account for the force multiplier effect that Obama's campaign will almost certainly bring to bear with its millions of volunteers and thousands of paid staffers. Whether that effect is 1.01, 1.05 or even 1.3 -- we don't know yet. But even the McCain campaign acknowledges its existence.
Those paid organizers are each recruiting underneath them volunteers and precinct captains (themselves responsible for recruitment and management of volunteers). As I’ve said before, it’s a pyramid scheme aimed at massive voter-to-voter contact. Millions and millions and millions of voter contacts, all knocked out 5, 10, 50 at a time by volunteers.
The strategy is being lauded as genius, when in essence it's merely the common sense of reverse production of a populist movement. It seems so basic, so instinctual to political organizing, it's almost inconceivable that it hasn't been exacted before.

It is, and will continue to be awe inspiring to watch.

Winning Strategy Isn't Moving to the Middle

It's moving the middle to you.

It's good for us when positions that have been considered left wing ideas are characterized as centrist. It signals that the public . . . have decided that on some issues, anyway, what was once considered left wing heresy is now mainstream.

The Three Most Irritating Aspects of Utah Politics

1. When the Republican Party drops the ball, everyone becomes an Independent. But only Independent in name, because the "Independents" still vote for Republicans in an overwhelming majority.

2. Too many arm chair critics, not enough community organizers.

3. Steve Urquhart.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Radio Free Utah

Tomorrow KVNU's For The People (4-6pm, 610am, or live webcam chat here) will be hosted by myself and Rich Okelberry, owner of LincolnsBLOG.com, filling in for Tom and Ryan who are otherwise indisposed.

Should be some good listenin' for all. I will of course be working on not swearing. Again.

On Friday at 3pm, I will be a guest on Sirius satellite radio's Independent 110 Blogger Bunker, discussing modern politics and technology (read, blogging). I believe it is a call in show, so all Sirius subscribers come show your support for Utah bloggers.

And finally, The SideTrack is now registered for broadcasting via BlogTalkRadio. More on that later, but a big thanks to Darren for the quick setup and assistance.

Bush Lifts Drilling Ban, World Yawns

Maybe we are waking up to the realities of our energy situation, and our possible futures, or perhaps it's simply the anti-midas touch of the Preznit killing the excitement of anything he supports. Either way, today Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore drilling to very little fan fare.

Even Republicans have remained relatively quiet.

It's as if they man has no credibility. Heh.

I think, in truth, it's that most understand this was a grandstanding act of campaign gimmickry for the GOP on the President's part, as well as an attempt to frame the debate early, pressuring Congress into advance capitulation to the oil companies (who arguably gain the most from the Bush/McCain plan to drill our way further into the hole). Lifting the executive order is symbolic, and nothing more. Though the votes are there in the house to approve a drilling plan, reaction so far seems luke warm. Perhaps it's the fact that 68 million acres already approved for drilling are going unused?

It's encouraging (though admittedly I'm still gun-shy after the FISA vote). Offshore drilling will only extend our failing energy policies, and take nearly a decade to do it, at that, with little - if any - effect on gas prices more tied to refining and market speculation than crude oil itself.

We need a more comprehensive solution. Nice to see few are falling for this one.

Freedom of Information Act, Bushed

E & P:

CHICAGO (July 06, 2008) -- To open-government advocates, President George W. Bush's 2006 presidential order that federal agencies speed up their response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests was a kind of unexpected miracle coming from the leader of the most secretive administration in modern times.

But most of those who study Washington's compliance with FOIA greeted the order the way miracles should be viewed -- with plenty of skepticism. That instinct to turns out to have been the correct one.

Just in time for the 42nd anniversary of the signing of FOIA on the Fourth of July, the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government (CJOG) released a study showing that federal agencies and departments "have made little if any progress in responding to Freedom of Information Act requests, despite a two-year-old presidential order to improve service."

A Senator Not Doing His Job

The U.S. Senate voted last Wednesday on Medicare.

A bill to amend titles XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act to extend expiring provisions under the Medicare Program, to improve beneficiary access to preventive and mental health services, to enhance low-income benefit programs, and to maintain access to care in rural areas, including pharmacy access, and for other purposes.
But the Democrats won this one, thanks to a Senator from MA
His Senate colleagues had not expected to see Kennedy, who is being treated with radiation and chemotherapy, for several more weeks or longer. Some feared that Kennedy, 76, would never be well enough to return to the chamber where he has served for nearly 46 years.

But with just minutes to go in a vote to protect Medicare payments to doctors, Kennedy, beaming and laughing, walked through the back doors of the Senate chamber and gave Democrats the vote they needed to stop a Republican filibuster and pass the bill.

The entire chamber erupted in cheers and applause as Kennedy - flanked by his son, his best friend, the Democrats' presidential nominee, and his fellow Massachusetts senator - strode into the well of the Senate floor. Lawmakers from both parties mobbed him; most shook Kennedy's hand and a few pecked him on the cheek.

Then, Kennedy gazed up at the Senate clerk to do what he has done many thousands of times since he arrived in Washington in 1963, but has been unable to do for more than a month: vote.

When the din had subsided, Kennedy raised his arms jubilantly and cast his first vote, signaling not only a victory for the legislation, but a temporary win over a deadly disease that has kept him from the job he loves since he was diagnosed May 20.

"Aye," he yelled, his arms high in the air.
Kennedy's vote ensured that Republicans would not be able to filibuster the bill. The tally was one short of 100 however, and that one Senator was John McCain. Who opted - instead of casting a vote - to issue a press release on the bill:
For Immediate Release
July 9, 2008 Contact: Press Office
703-650-5550

Statement by John McCain on Senate Medicare Vote

ARLINGTON, VA -- U.S. Senator John McCain issued the following statement on today's Medicare vote by the United States Senate:

"Doctors are the heart of our health care system, and it is essential that they receive the funding needed to ensure quality care for our seniors. I fully support that aspect of this bill. However, Congressional leaders have once again decided to put partisan positioning over the well being of millions of our seniors. We should not hold our doctors and seniors hostage to political gamesmanship and political votes. While this bill does meet our obligation to provide proper reimbursements to Medicare physicians, it also rolls back important reforms, increases drug premiums, and places 2.3 million seniors at risk of losing the private health care coverage of their choice."

###
Regardless of whether you agree with his positions on the bill (I don't), shouldn't he at least bother to show up and make his voice heard. Isn't that his job still? Ted Kennedy is in treatment for brain cancer, and he made the vote! Obama has left the campaign trail several times over to vote. But evidently McCain thinks that saying he disagrees with the bill is close enough to doing his job in the Senate.

What a maverick.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

YouTube Your Way to the DNCC

DNCC Press wants to know, "Why Are You a Democrat in 2008?":

"Encouraging people to share the views and beliefs they hold dear is a fundamental value of the Democratic Party and bedrock of our democracy," said Leah D. Daughtry, CEO of the DNCC. "Much like our nominee, Senator Barack Obama, YouTube has a track record of engaging new voters - especially young voters - and giving them a platform to express themselves. We are delighted to join with YouTube to encourage even greater participation in this critical election year."

Individuals can submit video responses at youtube.com/demconvention, the Democratic National Convention's YouTube channel, until August 1. Based on the most creative and compelling submissions, the DNCC will narrow the field of entries to five and, starting August 7, the YouTube community will have the chance to vote for their favorites. The video receiving the highest number of votes will win the contest and be announced on August 14.

The winner will receive paid travel and hotel accommodations to attend the Democratic National Convention, to be held August 25-28 in Denver. The winning video will be shown in the Convention hall in front of thousands of delegates and guests and an international media audience.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Ridge

Has been cleared.

(KCPW News) Long-time Republican dissident Mike Ridgway has been cleared of a trespassing charge against the Salt Lake County Republican Party, after a judge dismissed it on Wednesday . Party Chairman James Evans and other Republicans were told the burden of proof was not met, and that a civil complaint or disturbing the peace charge would have been more appropriate. But Evans still believes that Ridgway is not a problem any more.

"We've dealt with the matter internally, and as far as I'm concerned, Mr. Ridgway's not a factor in Salt Lake County, so it's not really an issue for us," he said.

Evans said he had no opinion on the judge's ruling.

Abandoning the Free Market

James K. Galbraith, author of The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too.

Phil Gramm is not John McCain’s pastor. He’s his closest economic adviser, and according to many reports practically the designated Secretary of the Treasury in a McCain administration. John McCain believes Phil Gramm to be a great economist. To the extent that John McCain has economic ideas, he gets them from Phil Gramm. Or did, until yesterday. So it is perhaps worthwhile to ask, what kind of economist is Phil Gramm?

The public record is clear, and I summarized it a few months ago for The Washington Post: “Phil Gramm’s career was the most aggressive advocate of every predatory and rapacious element that the financial sector has. He’s a sorcerer’s apprentice of instability and disaster in the financial system.” (It is worth noting that when the Post asked Gramm about this, he denied it.)

Back in 1995, when Phil Gramm was politically invincible in Texas, various so-called friends suggested that I should be the sacrificial lamb to run against him. I ducked, as any sensible person would have. But (at their request) I did supply the Dallas Morning News with a referee report on Gramm’s dissertation, along with a few notes on that of his wife. Needless to say, hers was much better.

Agree or not, the entire article (via The Wonk Room) is worth a read.

Conservatives on 2008 Campaign: "Let's Get This Over With"

Depressed conservatives, that is.

The McCain campaign has not only failed to enthuse Republicans, but left many conservatives depressed and ready for a November defeat, said Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman of ConservativeHQ.com.

"Senator McCain has never been a conservative, is not one now, and will not govern as one. From McCain-Feingold to cap-and-trade, he is a supporter of one Big Government scheme after another. History shows that, in the Oval Office, where almost all the political pressure comes from supporters of Big Government, he would only get worse."

In a speech at Freedom Fest, a gatherigng of free market advocates, Viguerie harshly criticized Senator McCain's past history and said he would not represent conservative values if elected president, reported Christian News Wire.

"You even have some conservatives who are considering voting for Barack Obama, because they fear McCain as president would destroy what's left of the Republican brand and would finish off the conservative movement," Viguerie said. "Their mood is that of the fatally ill patient who says 'Let's get this over with'."

McCain, Guam Take on the NFL.

Not that it makes me proud the NFL will surely win over political involvement that week (and admittedly, neither McCain's speech or Guam frontloading their general election matters much in the grand scope of this election), but it sure makes for a humorous story.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Stop. Big. Media.

Via FAIR.

More than a quarter-million people took action and sent a powerful message to Washington: Big Media is big enough. The fight now moves to the House, where a bipartisan version of the Senate "resolution of disapproval" (H.J.Res.79) needs your support. Tell your representative to co-sponsor H.J. Res. 79 and Stop Big Media.

Project for Excellence in Journalism Study: The Character of the Primaries

PEJ just published their report dissecting candidate media coverage so far this year. Nothing much surprising, but it ads broad perspective to the ways mainstream media still shape (or in the case of Clinton, as you'll read below, don't shape) our opinions and attitudes in an election year.

From January 1, just before the Iowa caucuses, through March 9, following the Texas and Ohio contests, the height of the primary season, the dominant personal narratives in the media about Obama and Clinton were almost identical in tone, and were both twice as positive as negative, according to the study, which examined the coverage of the candidates’ character, history, leadership and appeal—apart from the electoral results and the tactics of their campaigns.

The trajectory of the coverage, however, began to turn against Obama, and did so well before questions surfaced about his pastor Jeremiah Wright. Shortly after Clinton criticized the media for being soft on Obama during a debate, the narrative about him began to turn more skeptical—and indeed became more negative than the coverage of Clinton herself. What’s more, an additional analysis of more general campaign topics suggests the Obama narrative became even more negative later in March, April and May.

On the Republican side, John McCain, the candidate who quickly clinched his party’s nomination, has had a harder time controlling his message in the press. Fully 57% of the narratives studied about him were critical in nature, though a look back through 2007 reveals the storyline about the Republican nominee has steadily improved with time.

Public perceptions of McCain and Obama, a companion survey shows, largely tracked with the tenor of the press coverage’s major narrative themes. With Hillary Clinton, however, the public seemed to have developed opinions about her that ran counter to the media coverage, perhaps based on a pre-existing negative disposition to her that unfolded over the course of the campaign.

PEW: November May See Highest Voter Turnout Since 1988

RawStory:

"Turnout is likely to be higher this fall -- perhaps much higher than in previous elections -- as voter interest continues at record levels," Pew said in a statement posted on its website.

And with more Democrats turning out to vote in the primaries than Republicans, the spike in interest was likely to work in favor of Barack Obama's Democratic Party, Pew said.

"Strong and consistent interest and engagement suggests that voter turnout will likely be high in November, as it was during this year's primaries... Democratic turnout could match or perhaps exceed Republican participation in November, just as it did in most states during the primaries," Pew said.

Seventy-two percent of the 2,004 Americans surveyed last month by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press said they are giving "a lot of thought" to the election.

That is "by far the highest percentage at this point in the campaign since 1988," exceeding enthusiasm levels than during the five previous presidential campaigns, Pew wrote.

Whiners!

(h/t Singer at Mydd)

A Trillion Tons of Tater Tots

Unraveling the GREAT OIL SHALE PROMISE.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is calling for Congress to lift the moratorium on commercial oil shale development, claiming, “Our western states are sitting on a sea of oil three times as large as the oil reserves in Saudi Arabia.” That “sea of oil” is in fact a geological formation with the energy density of a baked potato.

Absolutely Not

Does military service better qualify a person to lead as Commander in Chief?

"Absolutely not.... I absolutely don't believe that it's necessary."

- John McCain, 2003

Special Council

Requested for the rendition of Mr. Ayar:

"Mr. Arar's rendition to Syria, with the knowledge he would be subject to torture, demands a thorough investigation into the conduct of the Department of Justice and U.S. immigration officials," said Conyers. "Given the involvement of high-ranking administration officials in this matter, and the stonewalling encountered in the DHS Inspector General's investigation, the appointment of a special counsel is clearly necessary."

"The Inspector General’s public report reveals that Administration officials sent Mr. Arar to Syria knowing that he likely would be tortured," said Rep. Nadler. "This is at odds with everything we stand for as a free and just nation, and the Administration’s unwillingness to expose how and why this happened has fueled public concern and criticism. We urge Attorney General Mukasey to appoint an outside special counsel to investigate Mr. Arar’s case to ensure a fair investigation is conducted to examine these serious allegations of wrongdoing."

"The startling revelation that attorneys within the Office of the Deputy Attorney General were intimately involved in this case is sufficient cause for an outside review," said Delahunt. "This is the only way to make sure that those who had a hand in Mr. Arar’s rendition to torture will be held accountable."
According to the report, a Canadian investigation found no reasonable ties between Ayar and terrorist organizations.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Recapping Immunity

This FISA battle is over for now (sort of), but it's worth one final post (for now) on the issue, just to ad perspective to this issue, and provide a snapshot of the Utah Blogosphere's reactions over the past few weeks. Despite the final turnout, it has been amazing to see the way bloggers and activists have rallied toward this issue to draw attention to the travesty of granting retro-active immunity. Here are some of the highlights from...

Nationally, FireDogLake and Glenn Greewald really drove the fight against immunity. Senator Russ Feingold was a vocal critic as well.

And though the bill has passed with the support of Republicans and Democrats eager to cow to the President, both Electronic Fontrier Foundation and the ACLU have already filed suit questioning the constitutionality of granting retro-active immunity to AT&T and Verizon for participating in the surveillance without a warrant.

As a final word on the matter, a message from an unexpected source: Senator Clinton. While Clinton's campaign emulated the Republicans, her vote and statement on the bill most certainly did not.
"[A]ny surveillance program must contain safeguards to protect the rights of Americans against abuse, and to preserve clear lines of oversight and accountability over this administration. I applaud the efforts of my colleagues who negotiated this legislation, and I respect my colleagues who reached a different conclusion on today's vote. I do so because this is a difficult issue. Nonetheless, I could not vote for the legislation in its current form."

[...]"Congress must vigorously check and balance the president even in the face of dangerous enemies and at a time of war. That is what sets us apart. And that is what is vital to ensuring that any tool designed to protect us is used - and used within the law - for that purpose and that purpose alone. I believe my responsibility requires that I vote against this compromise, and I will continue to pursue reforms that will improve our ability to collect intelligence in our efforts to combat terror and to oversee that authority in Congress."

Could a Republican Please Explain This to Me?

I think it's important to keep tabs on the "other" side. So I get, among many updates from various conservative groups, the RNC campaign emails. I've finally numbed myself to McCain calling me "friend" enough that I can get through most of them without hitting DELETE. But there's one little pattern that I just can't get past.

From the most recent email I received, featuring George Bush and Mike Duncan:

Our presidential nominee is running on a clear, consistent and conservative agenda and I can assure you he does not want a lonely victory.

That is why I am personally committed to helping our GOP candidates win -- and why I am contacting you, Jason, on behalf of the Republican National Committee (RNC). The RNC is the only GOP organization permitted by law to directly support both our presidential nominee and our GOP candidates up and down the ticket.

Please help provide the maximum support all our candidates need to defeat the Democrats by making a secure online gift of $2,000, $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or $25 to the RNC today.

Your generous donation to the RNC is the single most important contribution you can make to ensure we maintain the White House and regain our majorities in the U.S. Congress.

Jason, I am looking forward to the campaign ahead. I am excited about taking our message to the American people. With your help and hard work, there is no doubt in my mind that we will win.

Sincerely,

Chairman Mike Duncan
George W. Bush
Straight-forward enough. Spell-checked. Grammar okay. Pretty much what you would expect in any national committee email pitch from either party, right? But the RNC has this consistent habit of tacking on a postscript. As such, from the same email:
P.S. Jason, Republicans have a great opportunity to retain the White House, reclaim our majorities in Congress and elect more GOP governors and state officials. Your support is critical to providing the resources our Republican candidates need to win. Please make a secure online gift of $2,000, $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or $25 to the RNC today. Thank you.
Did you catch that? Yes, the postscript and the main body of the email say exactly the same thing. I don't mean to be nit-picky or petty here, I really am just curious. If it were this one email, I'd not have even noticed. But the RNC does this on every damn email they send - McCain, congressional and senatorial races, general updates - you name it, there is always a main body, followed by a postscript that repeats the exact same message as the main body.

According to my copy of Websters, a postscript is
any addition or supplement, as one appended by a writer to a book to supply further information.
Supply. Further. Information. It says.

Not repeat the same thing you have already expressed in fewer words, all the while calling me "friend" (okay, I may not be entirely past that one). That is a summary. So what gives, my GOP colleagues? This is too consistent an event for it to be an oversight of the poor schmoo they make type these things. It's obviously intentional. But to achieve what end? I don't get it, and in all seriousness, I want to know what the RNC is trying to achieve. Or at least hear some theories you may have. Does this actually make people donate more frequently, or give larger amounts? Is there a certain demographic that can only be reached after reading the letters P and S? I need someone in the know to explain this intriguing strategy.

Help me out.

P.S. Have you noticed, Friend, that the RNC fundraising emails always contain a posscript that repeats the exact message of the main body, supplying no new appended information, but merely repeating the same message in less words? I'd like to know why they do that, because it for damn sure isn't accidental, but I don't think it's achieving what they think it is, unless the goal is to annoy me.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Headlines


Via Greenwald.

Doesn't this headline make you proud?

Word is the Electronic Frontier Foundation has already filed a lawsuit challenging the bill. Not sure where that will go.

It's time to support an actual leader, not a rubber stamp.

Listen to Morgan Bowen (and yeah that's me calling in toward the end of the first hour) on FISA from today's KVNU For the People (podcast).

The Hall of Shame

Democrats in the Senate who rolled over today for the President's illegal wire-tapping program, and the subsequent immunity cover-up.

Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Obama (D-IL)
Pryor (D-AR)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
No surprise to see Leiberman's name on there. Very disappointing to see Obama's name on there (thanks for listening Senator). And seeing McCaskill (D-MO) on there simply pisses me off. I phone banked for her campaign in 2006.

Cindy McCain's Finger

Was just not fast enough.

PITTSBURGH — Cindy McCain’s jab to her husband’s back came a second too late Tuesday to keep him from making a wisecrack about the health impact of Iran’s main import from the United States: cigarettes.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain was asked about an Associated Press report that $158 million in cigarettes have been shipped to Iran during George W. Bush’s presidency despite restrictions on U.S. exports to that country.

“Maybe that’s a way of killing them,” McCain told reporters, smiling as he waited for a cheesesteak sandwich at the Primanti Brothers restaurant. His wife, sitting next to him at the counter, poked his back without looking up.
(Emphasis mine)

Any question here on what McCain dubs foreign policy? The "Kill Em All" T-shirts I used to see at Smith and Edwards have become the Republican Party policy.

Vote for Better

From JWH's blog, recapping July 4th parade events as a Democratic candidate:

What was most surprising and enjoyable about these brief conversations, however, was the sense of hope that people seem to be experiencing in this election year. While the parade route may not be the most scientific method for determining which way the political winds are blowing, this brief moment of connection with voters did give me the sense that voters are eager for something better that the status quo we have all dealt with for so many years. Best of all, voters have real choices among candidates this year in most state and national races. Not only can they hope for better, they can actually vote for better! Now there's something to celebrate at a parade!
It may not be a scientific method, Jean, but it's definitely something meaningful, and even such a cynic as myself can't ignore the occasional sign I see that Utahn's are wanting more than we've given ourselves in the past two decades of voting against our own values.

The Shame of Congress


For more than 5 years now, communication companies in collusion with Bush have been spying on American calls and emails in a direct contradiction of the protections defined by the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

Today, the Senate will vote (most likely in favor of) the FISA Capitulation Bill that seeped out of Congress like a nasty sewage leak - a bill that grants immunity to these same communications companies, and bringing to a halt more than 40 law suits against illegal wire-tapping and government surveillance without a warrant.

This bill renders the FISA legislation impotent in the ability to protect Americans from a government over-stepping it's bounds and thumbing it's nose at the very document our elected "leaders" have sworn an oath to uphold. And Congress has crafted this bill willingly and eagerly, despite having shown in the past year that they were capable of - and gained public approval by - standing up to the President.

In the face of a very broad and continuous surveillance program functioning outside of the law, Republicans buried the last vestiges of their "limited-government" agenda in the folds of the President's jacket. Matheson's Blue Dog Democrats have, with this vote, betrayed the final vestiges of their "fiscal responsibility" cover for voting like Republicans on social, and Constitutional issues.

Today the Senate will vote for this bill and tell us that is is a wonderful "compromise," and that it helps to protect Americans. But in their vote, they are chipping away at the very principles that define us as Americans in the first place, pitting our Constitution against fear, capitulation to avoid being called "weak on terror," and (for many) providing protection to phone companies with large lobbying arms.

There is little hope the Senate will stand up on this, and our Congressional reps have already caved. Most likely, by the end of the day, AT&T will have it's immunity, the President will have his "justice," and Americans will have their phone calls recorded without even the moderate oversight of warrant from the courts.

In a few short months, Americans will have a chance to stand up themselves when Congress and the Senate would not do so. We might not be able to stop this from happening today, but we can ensure we don't end up in the situation in the future, learning from our previous mistakes in electing leaders with so little respect for the United States Constitution and our liberties, remembering who stood with the phone companies and who stood with the citizens.

I'm going to wrap this post up with a video from Morgan Bowen on his opposition to warrantless wire-tapping and granting retro-active immunity to law-breakers. It gives me something to look forward to as we watch our leaders cave in today.



Help Morgan beat Rob Bishop, who voted NO on requiring warrants for the surveillance of Americans.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

FISA for Dummies



Contact your Senator NOW!

And check out Morgan Bowen's challenge to Utah's federal delegation to oppose retro-active immunity for phone companies.

The AP, Reporting On The Important Issues

Via TPM

Here at TPM we've been chronicling some of the more ridiculous reporting on the presidential election that's been produced by the Associated Press.

But now we think we've found the most Pulitzer-worthy AP effort yet. Gaze upon this headline and subhed -- the AP actually did a poll of pet owners and found that people with animals prefer McCain!

In poll of pet owners, McCain tops Obama

Pet owners find McCain with his house full of animals more appealing than the petless Obama

Yes, this is a real AP article

How A Congressman Should Act

Press release from Morgan Bowen -

Bowen for Congress
345 North 48 West Hyde Park, Utah 84318
Phone: 435.770.1488

morgan@bowenforcongress.com

http://www.bowenforcongress.com

Contact: Morgan Bowen – 435.770.1488

Bowen Challenges Hatch, Bennett to Restore the Rule of Law
Urges Senators to vote against FISA Retroactive Immunity Bill.
Criticizes Matheson, Bishop for House Capitulation

HYDE PARK, UT: (UT CD-1) Democratic Candidate Morgan Bowen again today blasted what he calls “government run amuck.” On the day of the US Senate’s vote on whether the Congress should grant retroactive immunity to telecoms that cooperated with the government’s illegal and unconstitutional domestic spying program, Bowen released the following comments:

“I urge Senators Hatch and Bennett to protect the Constitution and to vote on this bill with the rule of law foremost on their minds. Illegal and unconstitutional acts should not be forgiven, long after the fact, regardless of excuses, or party pressure.

“Members of the Utah Congressional Delegation, including a member of my own party, have already shown unfortunate judgment on this bill and, because of the surrender of their oath to protect the Constitution, set aside by these US House members, Hatch and Bennett have the opportunity to stop this egregiously un-American bill.

“I oppose granting retro-active immunity to telecommunications companies - who willingly broke the law, when so many others refused to do so - and the illegal wiretapping of Americans on the notion that no entity or body of government is above the law, according to our Constitution.

“While we do face serious threats to our national security, it is possible to combat these threats without the erosion of our most basic liberties, and the protection from an invasive government body that the founding fathers made great efforts to include when drafting the Bill of Rights.

“This bill is nothing more than a thinly masked agenda to grant retro-active immunity and remove oversight from the surveillance process. It has little, if anything at all, to do with protecting Americans from realistic threats. I ask Utah’s Senators to keep in mind the Constitution and the laws of our great country today. I ask them to vote against this silly and senseless bill.”

Benjamin Franklin said “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."
# # #
Support Morgan's leadership via ActBlue.

Monday, July 7, 2008

McCain Policy: More Slogan than Sound Idea

Heh. Really?

On Monday the McCain campaign is going to put out a paper promising to balance the federal budget deficit by the end of McCain's first term. Much will be written tomorrow about just how preposterous the budgeting claims are, especially since McCain is also promising a big new round of tax cuts.
But there's one gem I want to zero in on -- this line, as quoted from Mike Allen's piece just out in The Politico ...
The McCain administration would reserve all savings from victory in the Iraq and Afghanistan operations in the fight against Islamic extremists for reducing the deficit. Since all their costs were financed with deficit spending, all their savings must go to deficit reduction.
How much does he expect those savings are going to come to? Is this a line item in the savings tally?
This has to be one of the better examples of McCain's penchant for policy by slogan seeping out from the campaign trail into actual policy proposals.

Defend Your Liberty with a Cell Phone

(crossposted at The Amicus. And ironically, I made these calls on an AT&T line... it felt good)

Tomorrow the US Senate will vote on H.R. 6304, a bill sent to them via a compliant Congress, eager to hand President Bush full discretion over our right to privacy and an open government process. Beyond setting a tragic precedent (sending "break the law now, we'll make it legal later" message to everyone, not just phone companies), the new bill would:

  • Grant complete retro-active immunity for phone companies who have broken the law in violating the privacy of law-abiding American citizens.

  • Allow the "bulk collection" of all international communications (even those calls not targeted for surveillance) in a "storage facility" system of questionable integrity against outside breach.

  • Strip court oversight over the use of illegally collected information.
In the interest of transparency and respect for the US Constitution, I'm urging Utah voters to pick up their phones and contact Senators Hatch and Bennett to tell them you oppose the protection of phone companies being placed before the protection of our most basic Constitutional rights.
Senator Hatch: (202) 224-5251

Senator Bennett: (202) 224-5444
Citizen patriotism can stop this abuse of power. Make some time, make some calls. Stand up for the Rule of Law.

FISA Fight: Last Chance to Speak Up

Chris Dodd in my inbox:

Do you remember the excitement when we first stopped retroactive immunity in the Senate last year?

We earned that moment together -- both the victory and the feeling that we had made a difference.

That hard-earned success felt so good because collectively we made our voices heard in the well of the Senate and in offices across DC.

On the eve of another vote, it's time for us to speak up again.

Please use the call tool created by our friends at Firedoglake and ask your Senators to vote "YES" on the Dodd-Feingold Amendment to strip retroactive immunity from FISA

http://tools.advomatic.com/7/fisa
If it goes the way it looks to be going tomorrow, we'll never know what really happened, and a sweeping federal grant of immunity will override privacy efforts even on the state level.

It's not too late to change this, but you'd have to pick up your phone (which is probably bugged already, because you're a blogger) and call a Senator (who is more concerned about phone companies than you) and complain.

And I know how bloggers hate to complain...

Make a call today in the name of protecting our Constitution.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bob's Lucky Adventure Corn Flake

Bob Viens, quit his job at the car dealership, loaded up a backpack and a bike, and began a summer long pedal tour of Canada. And he's blogging the trip. Tragically, the lucky cornflake didn't make it past week two.

Nothing political about this, I just thought it was cool.

Uh... No!

Not a joke. Or even a snide quip. This was written in all seriousness by NRO's Kathryn-Jean Lopez :

"A totally crazy Saturday-morning thought: Wouldn't George W. Bush make an awesome high-school government teacher? Wouldn't it be something if his post-presidential life would up being that kind of post-service service? How's that for a model? Who needs Harvard visiting chairs and high-end lectures? How about Crawford High? (Or wherever?) Reach out and touch the young before they are jaded, or break them of the cynicism pop culture and possibly their parents have passed down to them. Whatever you think of President Bush, he's a likable guy in love with his country with some history and experience to share."
At least she's right about the "totally crazy." How do these people get these jobs?

Betraying the Spirit of 1776

On Tuesday...

[...]the Senate will vote on the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), a bill that would betray the spirit of 1776 by radically expanding the president’s spying powers and granting immunity to the companies that colluded in his illegal program. Now that the House has passed the FAA, the Senate is the last front left in the battle against immunity, and every vote -- from cloture, to the amendments, to final passage -- counts.
Call:

Senator (R-Utah) Orrin G. Hatch's Office (801) 524-4380

Senator (R-Utah) Robert 'Bob' F. Bennett's Office (801) 524-5933

Or if you prefer, send an email or even use this form, courtesy of EFF. Considering the almost eager capitulation to Bush the House has recently shown, every vote in the Senate this week counts in protecting our rights against an over-reaching government, and the unconstitutional precedent the granting of immunity for warrantless wire-tapping sets.

And don't forget to show support for Utah's newly discovered opponent of granting retro-active immunity to law-breakers spying on Utahn's by contributing to the blogger driven 100 Donors in 48 hours effort for UT-1 candidate Morgan Bowen.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Today

Is the only day political bloggers get off. Or so a friend who's been at this since 2003 just told me.

Either way, we're all taking it. Try not to set yourselves on fire while we're out.

And remember your tin foil hats (to be worn while you help us to hit 100).

Happy Independence Day.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bob Bennett Did Something I Liked!?!?!

Just goes to show you that there are some issues that everyone can agree on. I've been against electronic voting machines without a paper trail pretty much since they've been being used, now it looks like Sen. Bennett is against them too.

“This bill will help increase voter confidence in the election process by ensuring that our electronic voting systems meet the highest security standards,” said Senator Bennett. “I am especially pleased that the bill encourages continued innovation and development in the field of election technology.”



Under the Act, voters casting their ballots using direct recording electronic (touch screen) voting systems would be able to simultaneously verify their choices by means of an independent paper, electronic, audio, video, or pictorial record. Such records would be auditable and would also be available for review in the event of a recount.
I'm not exactly sure what audio, video, or pictorial records of votes cast would be, so I'm thinking the paper option would probably be used in most cases. Another important point:
Requires voting system software to be disclosed and subject to review under certain circumstances, with procedures in place to ensure the protection of trade secrets and intellectual property rights
Because if we're going to spend millions in tax dollars to buy these voting machines, we should at least be able to check and see if they are counting votes correctly.

So, while I don't say things like this often, good job Sen Bennett (that felt weird).

Local TV News "If It Bleeds, It Leads" Mantra Reversing?

FreePress:

Scenes from the local evening news: a shrill breaking-news report from the scene of the crime; a fear-mongering story about the latest health or consumer scare; perhaps a news-you-can-use featurette that is neither newsy nor useful. For years, local news producers have led their stations in a race to the bottom, driven by the prevailing belief that "eyeball grabbers" and "soft news" are the only hope for local news in an era of declining TV audiences.

But a new study argues that they might want to rethink their approach. In "The Local News Story: Is Quality a Choice?" political science professors Todd L. Belt and Marion Just conclude that sensationalistic news does not lead to sensational ratings.

Belt, assistant professor at the University of Hawai'i, Hilo, and Just, a professor at Wellesley College and the Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, argue that the prevailing worldview in the nation's newsrooms has it all backward: Good, solid journalism, not tawdry, tabloid-style content, keeps viewers tuned to their TVs.