Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Demanding Answers: Why is My Gas Not Cheaper Yet?

Offshore drilling ban expires today.

Why weren't the drilling experts poised and ready at the crack of dawn, bits a-spinnin', waiting for the bell to ring, signaling decades of abundant oil and unbelievably cheap gas? Why aren't Rush, Hannity, McCain, and every RedState contributor scuba-geared up and hammering the first "Freedom Holes" in the continental shelves themselves? Oh yeah...reality.

Estimates are two years to tap the first well, two more to be up to capacity, and possibly a decade or more before the glorious flow would maybe, possibly, and theoretically reduce gas prices nearly $.02. Huzzah!

Wingnuts were fooled. No surprise there. Newt said it, so it must be so. But if polls are any indicator, America at large just bought a drill bit to no where. How'd this happen? It's that damn "liberal media" again. CEPR explains:

Oil Drilling in Environmentally Sensitive Areas: The Role of the Media

September 2008, Mark Weisbrot and Nichole Szembrot

This paper examines television news coverage of proposed drilling for oil in environmentally sensitive zones in the United States. It finds that these broadcasts almost completely ignored data, and conclusions, from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Agency (EIA). The EIA finds that the benefits from such drilling would be too small to have a significant effect on the price of oil. There is no legitimate reason for this omission in the media. Just as economic reporting regularly uses data (unemployment, inflation, GDP, trade) from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, or Bureau of Labor Statistics, reporting on energy relies on data from the EIA.

The omission of the relevant data from this recent reporting may have contributed to the widespread public misunderstanding of this issue, with polls showing 51 percent of respondents believing that "federal laws that prohibit increased drilling for oil offshore or in wilderness areas" were a “major cause of the recent increase in gasoline prices.”
D'OH! Again.

Bishop, Matheson Flinch - Time to Leverage Re-Election

No matter which side you find yourself on in the bailout debate, yesterday's House vote was nothing to celebrate. The bill stunk, and the potential economic consequences of doing nothing stink even worse. And sitting atop this mighty pile of stink are Utah's federal delegates.

Cannon, with nothing to lose, voted for the bailout (as did most other retiring, exiting, or "safe district" House reps). Matheson and Bishop flinched. Bishop is up against Morgan Bowen, who has built his entire campaign around economic responsibility. Matheson is up against... well, being a Blue Dog. Bishop's post vote statements say nothing of the specifics of the bill, or what we should do instead. Matheson's are no better. They aren't opposing or supporting a plan, they're covering their asses, hoping others will step up so that they won't have to. A no vote out of principle, I could respect (in fact was hoping for on this one). But this "vote and run" behavior is abhorrent. And I would bet my own paycheck that both of them were hoping this bill would pass without their help.

Neither wants to put their name on this one, and so constituents were left with nothing. No leadership, no alternatives, and no representation. It's possible the crisis is no crisis. But it's also possible we're in for one hell of an economic ride. Either way, their "leadership" was two campaign induced "nays", and a scurry back under the re-election rock in the hopes of riding this one out without taking a political hit. There is a big difference between a cautious approach to resolution (something I advocate with this issue, especially) and running away from the responsibility of representation.

I think it's time for a populist leveraging of their re-election futures, and a demand they lead, or step out of the way of those who are willing.

Email, call, whichever you prefer. Matheson here, and Bishop here. And if you have any time or money to spare, give it to Bowen, who showed more courage speaking out on this issue than Bishop or Matheson combined.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Still Trickling Down

My only thoughts on the bailout: Let the Republicans own this one.

It's a poorly thought out plan, and attempts to address a problem resultant of all the trickling down the GOP has festered within our economy.

It's theirs.

Thanks to CQ for transcripts of the Democratic and Republican statements after the failed vote. Thanks to McCain for the overt politicization.

Friday, September 26, 2008

If BS Were Currency

NRO's Kathleen Parker bails on Palin:

It was fun while it lasted.

Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I’ve also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.

Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there’s not much content there.

[...] If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.
McCain is stuck with his choice now. Parker urges Palin to "bow out for personal reasons," but this would sink McCain '08 faster than his own campaign manager seems capable of. He made a choice that he thought would win him this election, not a choice that would ad substance to his possible presidency, making a mockery of women in politics.

Stick a fork in him.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"I'll Try to Find You Some"

(h/t JMBell)

COURIC: I’m just going to ask you one more time - not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation.

PALIN: I’ll try to find you some and I’ll bring them to you.

Attn: America

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bush's Economic Everybody Panic Speech (Shorter)

(tap tap tap) How's my hair? We on? Okay...

Good Evening.

I know many of you have questions. And I assure you your questions are very good questions that deserve answers. And in answering those good questions, I'm here to tell you this was not the Republican's fault. We don't know how these guys got the idea they could give loans to anybody wearing a hat, or how these institutions got so large that their downfall could take our whole economy with it. In fact I assure you we'll never know. Ever. Stop asking.

Hope that clears things up! Good Night.

P.S. Don't ask me where I'm getting the money. That is not a good question. Don't even think about it.

P.P.S BOO!!!

Blog Readers (Again) Smarter Than Congress?

Noticed a trend culling through diaries today for a rescue on some other/bigger blog.

There are some sound arguments and vast amounts of economic understanding posted there. By "lay-people." Perhaps it's time to take a step back and realize that $700 Billion is a lot of money, and the economic principles at work in sorting through to solution aren't rocket science, just economics. Are they really too busy to Google it?

Maybe we should just start recruiting federal candidates from blog comments.

What a Mavericky Political Stunt!

McCain Suspends Campaign. Asks Obama to call off debate.

This is no time for Democracy!

If neither the economy nor John McCain's poll numbers approve, I just can't imagine that this country will be ready for something as divisive and crudely political as a vote in early November. So here's the question: Will Barack Obama put his country first and agree to delay the election until the stock market lifts and John McCain has a better chance? Or is this all about Obama?
(A lot of effort just to avoid a debate, if you ask me.)

TPM asks McCain: What Changed Today? (Hint: Poll Numbers)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More Fiscal Conservativism

Hank and Ben's Bailout, in perspective:

  • -- $700 billion: proposed Wall St. bailout
  • -- $695.4 billion: GDP of Taiwan. If the bailout were a country it would be the 21st largest GDP, larger than most nations.
  • -- $580 billion: cost of Iraq war (so far)
  • -- $515.4 billion: proposed 2009 Pentagon budget
  • -- $315 billion: McCain's nuclear energy plan
  • -- $295 billion: amount Pentagon overspent original budgets by.
  • -- $150 billion: Obama's energy plan
  • -- $50-$65 billion: Obama's health care plan, per year
  • -- $59.2 billion: proposed 2009 U.S. education budget
  • -- $10 billion: McCain health care proposals, per year
  • -- $38 million: Hank Paulson's post-2004 salary as Chairman, CEO of Goldman Sachs
  • -- 16.1 million: number of median Ohio household incomes ($43,371 as of 2004) that would add up to the bailout -- or about THREE Ohios.

McCain Campaign Manager Was Paid by Freddie Mac

More Ooops!

One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the
credit crisis paid $15,000 a month to a firm owned by Senator
John McCain's campaign manager from the end of 2005 through
last month, according to two people with direct knowledge of
the arrangement. The disclosure contradicts a statement
Sunday night by Mr. McCain that the campaign manager, Rick
Davis, had no involvement with the company for the last
several years.

Bailouts: What's a Blue Dog to Do?

They fret.

Hoyer was clear that Congress is going to cut a deal, though it may delay going home to campaign for as long as it takes. He set a soft deadline of Friday. There are still lots of caucus meetings, nothing firm. I'm getting the sense that Democrats don't realize just how much leverage they have in this; they are scared of armageddon, without understanding that the other side is in an incredibly weak political position. They need to be on TV with pitchforks.

One sort of hilarious rumor is that Blue Dogs John Tanner and Alan Boyd are 'having heartburn' at this deal but that they recognize the politics and will let it go through. Blue Dogs are perpetually upset at things they are voting for and they think that fiscal responsibility is a slogan rather than something that means making hard choices. To them, wars and bailouts are free and the deficits are the fault of liberals. A Blue Dog is someone who eats a lot of ice cream every day, insists he is on a diet, and blames a conspiracy for his weight gain.

$700 Billion Buys a Lot of Spine!

On Congressional Democrats, no less!

And as usual, McCain is taking his policy cues from Obama.

In keeping with his tradition of following where Obama leads -- and as a way to both put fake distance between himself and Bush as well as to bury news about things like his campaign manager Rick Davis' getting $2 million over five years in lobbyist salary from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac so that he'd convince McCain to go easy on them -- McCain is now suddenly pretending he doesn't like Paulson, either, by expressing "serious concerns" and calling for the formation, according to his campaign staff, of a "high-level oversight board" staffed with famous rich people. Um, John, we already have one of those, and it comes equipped with regulatory teeth. It's called "Congress". McCain's true attitude is shown in his utter refusal to admit that his longtime backing of deregulation wasn't a factor in the financial fracas occurring now. Nice try, John, but thanks for playing! We have some lovely parting gifts for you.
Republicans, of course, see this as an opportunity, not a crisis.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hissy Fits

JMBell points out that Steve U. is just a big sissy. I have an idea where Steve U., as impressionable as he is, may be learning such behavior. TPM:

On a conference call with reporters today, Davis said only that he was involved in an effort to promote the cause of home-ownership -- but that he wasn't actually a lobbyist. "I never lobbied a single day," Davis said -- a claim that seems at odds with a Fannie exec's claim to the paper that they were giving Davis huge amounts of money on the chance that McCain might become president.

Then Steve Schmidt, the campaign's chief operating officer, aggressively took on the Times.

"Whatever the New York Times once was, it is not today by any standard a journalistic organization," Schmidt said. "It is a pro-Obama organization that every day attacks Senator McCain, attacks Governor Palin, and excuses Senator Obama."

This all begs the question; if your skin is so thin, and if you are so offended by differing opinions, why are you in politics in the first place?

Sniff.

Paradoxes of Free Market Ideology

Naomi Klein:

During boom times, it's profitable to preach laissez faire, because an absentee government allows speculative bubbles to inflate. When those bubbles burst, the ideology becomes a hindrance, and it goes dormant while big government rides to the rescue. But rest assured: the ideology will come roaring back when the bailouts are done. The massive debts the public is accumulating to bail out the speculators will then become part of a global budget crisis that will be the rationalization for deep cuts to social programs, and for a renewed push to privatize what is left of the public sector. We will also be told that our hopes for a green future are, sadly, too costly.

What we don't know is how the public will respond. Consider that in North America, everybody under the age of 40 grew up being told that the government can't intervene to improve our lives, that government is the problem not the solution, that laissez faire was the only option. Now, we are suddenly seeing an extremely activist, intensely interventionist government, seemingly willing to do whatever it takes to save investors from themselves.

This spectacle necessarily raises the question: if the state can intervene to save corporations that took reckless risks in the housing markets, why can't it intervene to prevent millions of Americans from imminent foreclosure? By the same token, if $85bn can be made instantly available to buy the insurance giant AIG, why is single-payer health care – which would protect Americans from the predatory practices of health-care insurance companies – seemingly such an unattainable dream?
Expect to hear a lot about spending from the GOP from here on, but remember as they make excuses that it was there unchecked spending until 2006 (and arguably thereafter, as they tied the new majority's hands in Congress) that ballooned the deficit, and it was their same "free market ideology" that sets the state for the bailouts they are now suddenly quiet about.

Klein's questions are important. There are no cries of "socialism!" from the right as we (the taxpayers) clean up their mess. Perhaps it's time to consider an alternative ideology than what spews from the mouths of the GOP and the "responsible" (I laugh when I type that) Blue Dog Democrats.

Reasons to Donate Time: Twelve to One

From 538's Sean Quinn:

In a Yale study by Donald Green and Alan Gerber on the effects of doorknocking in local elections, they concluded that a conservative estimate was that "12 successful face-to-face contacts translated into one additional vote."
This figure, moreover, is a conservative estimate. When calculating the effects of actual treatment, we regarded any conversation with a member of the household as a "contact." Only about half of these conversations occurred directly with a subject in the treatment group; the remainder involved urging a housemate to vote and requesting that this message be passed along to the intended subject. Had we restricted the definition of contact to direct conversations with the subject, the apparent effects of canvassing would have been much greater.
Although the study aimed at local elections, the principle is sound. Face-to-face contact is the single most important effort a volunteer can contribute to his or her candidate.

Let's do a little math. 12 face-to-face contacts is one new voter who would not have otherwise voted that you personally generated. You just doubled your own vote by speaking at the door to twelve voters. Of course, then it comes down to contact rate -- how often is the person home that you're trying to reach. A very low contact rate is probably 10%, and that happens. A very high contact rate can be 50%. Average is in the 25% ballpark. On average, you'd have to knock on 48 doors to generate 12 face-to-face contacts and one additional vote. 48 doors is a pretty standard, approximate walk list.

So if you go out one four-hour walk shift every weekend between now and the election, you've generated -- on average -- six extra votes from people who would not otherwise have voted for your candidate.
In local, state, and even federal delegation elections, these votes can make all the difference, especially in Utah, where the majority of Dem candidates are challenging incumbents in areas with a history of low voter turnout.

All of the current candidates are asking for volunteers to do exactly that. Make the time to volunteer:

District 1: Walk for Morgan Bowen
District 3: Walk for Bennion Spencer
Gov Race: Volunteer for Springmeyer

Also, check with your county party HQ for more information on canvassing for your state rep. candidates. It's an opportunity for those who cannot afford to contribute regularly (like all of us here at The SideTrack), to donate what we can: our time.

Yard signs are nice PR, but effective canvassing will bring about a win.

John Bolton is Even Crazier

Seriously. Dangerous, even.

FOX News contributor John Bolton was the sole guest on Hannity & Colmes last night (9/19/8) to fearmonger discuss the situation with Iran. Like nearly every issue on FOX News, it was soon framed as an attack on Democrats. But in a new variation on an old theme, Bolton suggested that a Barack Obama victory would spur an Iranian-induced nuclear holocaust. The only viable alternative presented by Bolton (and there was no other expert) was a military strike. Peace through war or else! With video.

Bolton, it must be noted, has a history of supporting wars he avoided fighting. So it’s not surprising that he would advocate for more Americans to die in a new war without him. He told substitute conservative co-host Rich Lowry (another chickenhawk), “I think (Iran has) basically won the diplomatic struggle. They’ve strung out the Europeans for five years of fruitless negotiations, the net net of which is that Iran is now five years closer to nuclear weapons... So I think we’ve played the diplomatic option out and it’s now Iran, basically, unimpeded in its effort to acquire deliverable nuclear weapons capability.”

Caroline Glick is Crazy

Seriously. Delusional.

Let's Think This Through

I take a break from politics for two days, and come back to Congress considering handing Bush $700 Billion to "solve" some more problems he helped to create? Are we sure this is a good idea? I mean, there's a few things we should consider...

IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION

-$142 million wasted on reconstruction projects that were either terminated or canceled. [Special Inspector General for Iraq, 7/28/08]

-“Significant” amount of U.S. funds for Iraq funneled to Sunni and Shiite militias. [GAO Comptroller, 3/11/08]

-$180 million payed to construction company Bechtel for projects it never finished. [Federal audit, 7/25/07]

-$5.1 billion in expenses for Iraq reconstruction charged without documentation. [Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction report, 3/19/07]

-$10 billion in spending on Iraq reconstruction was wasteful or poorly tracked. [GAO, 2/15/07]

-Halliburton overcharged the government $100 million for one day’s work in 2004. [Project on Government Oversight, 10/8/04]

KATRINA

-Millions wasted on four no-bid contracts, including paying $20 million for an unusable camp for evacuees. [Homeland Security Department Inspector General, 9/10/08]

-$2.4 billion in contracts doled out by FEMA that guaranteed profits for big companies. [Center for Public Integrity investigation, 6/25/07]

-An estimated $2 billion in fraud and waste — nearly 11 percent of the $19 billion spent by FEMA on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as of mid-June. [New York Times tally, 6/27/06]

-“Widespread” waste and mismanagement on millions for Katrina recovery, including at least $3 million for 4,000 beds that were never used. [GAO, 3/16/06]

DEFENSE CONTRACTS

-A $50 million Air Force contract awarded to a company with close ties to senior Air Force officers, in a process “fraught with improper influence, irregular procedures, glaring conflicts of interest.” [Project on Government Oversight, 4/18/08]

-$1.7 billion in excessive fees and waste paid by the Pentagon to the Interior Department to manage federal lands. [Defense Department and Interior Department Inspectors General audit, 12/25/06]

-$1 trillion unaccounted for by the Pentagon, including 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units. [GAO, 5/18/03]

Friday, September 19, 2008

McCain Vs. The Economy

The McCain/Palin Economic Proposal, as I understand it:

1. The Fundamentals of our Economy are Strong
2. She is a Hockey Mom
3. The Fundamentals of our Economy are Strong
4. Hockey Mom

Rinse, repeat...

Some haters aren't buying it.

Username Clarity

Just got off the phone with my new columnist BFF (and by new BFF I mean he was foolish enough to give me his email address and keeps replying) and an interview discussing future of bloggers, populism and political campaigns. I'd link to the audio, but I have no idea what they are going to do with it.

Part of our discussion lead to the relative anonymity of blogs that sometimes allows for a heightened level of jackassery. Things like this slip past be because...well, I don't care, so I assume others don't. And I don't require anonymity to be a jackass.

But upon my BFF's recommendation, I want to quickly clarify where you may see me posting, and under what names, if only for the sake of clarity.

Here on The SideTrack and around the Bloghive I show up as JasonThe. The user name has longevity and sentimental value on it's side. Plus, it's already monogrammed on all of my underwear. Occasionally I guest post as the same at The (new and improved!) Utah Amicus, and there may be a few posts at Cache Democrats as well, as we help them step into the blogging world. You will not see that name at JMBell.org, because he's like a nazi when it comes to message control, and there's not enough room for another smart ass there.

On KVNU's For the People, I post with my full name, Jason Williams, because that's how I introduce myself on the radio show. It kind of just made sense.

I hope that clears up any misconceptions and grand conspiracy theories of blogger takeover astute readers have put into question.

This is of course exactly what I would say if there was such a conspiracy, and simply wanted to throw studious readers off my trail.

Isn't the internet scary?!

211 Emails

By 7am.

Part of me wants this election to be over.

Coffee shuts that part up though.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Suddenly Privacy Matters?

While I recognize the assault on good taste that is people hacking into other people's email accounts, I have to admit there is part of me laughing that suddenly right-wingers cannot find time enough to defend privacy in an increasingly technological age.

Suddenly indignant so soon after indifference.

The stupid, it burns.

It's Not A Statistical Dead Heat!

Ok, this is mostly a personal gripe of mine, and it's neither pro-Obama or pro-McCain. It's anti-person on teevee telling me that a race is a statistical dead heat because a poll is within the margin of error. That's not what the margin of error means!!!!!!!

!!!

(Seriously, it pisses me off)

And now some background on the margin of error.

Those who conduct a poll require a specific level of confidence. And they set the level of confidence, typically to 95% (or 90%). When the level of confidence is 95%, it means if you asked 1000 different people 1000 times (or whatever), 95% of these samples would fall within the margin of error, in this case 3 %.
And just in case Salon isn't convincing for you, here's the National Council on Public Polls.
Certainly, if the gap between the two candidates is less than the sampling error margin, you should not say that one candidate is ahead of the other. You can say the race is "close," the race is "roughly even," or there is "little difference between the candidates." But it should not be called a "dead heat" unless the candidates are tied with the same percentages. And it certainly is not a “statistical tie” unless both candidates have the same exact percentages.
So the bottom line is if the poll has a margin of error of say 4, you and someone has a lead of +1, then you can be pretty sure that they're actually somewhere between -3 and +5, but saying it's tied is about the same as saying it's -3 because really we just don't know.

So could everyone stop saying 'statistical tie' or 'dead heat' and lets just say that the election, as it stands now, is pretty damn close.

Sarah Palin - One Speech Fits All

Sarah Palin turned a corner this week in the veep race, seemingly going 'off script' this past week with some new lines against Obama, and of course, pointing out that she was aware of the current state of the economy.

Palin did address the financial crisis on Monday -- saying the market system “needs some shakin’ up and some fixin’” -- but she quickly reverted back to her standard remarks. She also surprised the press corps by enunciating the role she envisioned for herself in the McCain-Palin Administration, focusing on energy independence, government reform, and families facing disease and disabilities.
The new lines don't appear to be helping her image any, as her favorable numbers continue to fall. Perhaps something more than her convention speech would help those falling numbers out, but I'm not holding my breath.
Perhaps her scripted nature was best on display Wednesday, when she joined McCain for her first town hall meeting in Grand Rapids, MI. After giving opening remarks with no new material, McCain tackled the first question on fighting terrorism. Palin quickly chimed in -- “can I add something?” she asked McCain -- and returned to lines she has used daily on McCain’s leadership for the surge in Iraq. Answering audience questions, she mixed and matched lines directly from her normal remarks, speaking of her opposition to earmarks in Alaska, equality for women, and energy independence. When topics arose that Palin hadn’t previously delved into, she stayed silent.
I wonder what she'll do if a promter ever actually breaks?

Gender and the GOP Convention Bounce

More men than women.

Is the Media Stepping Up?

There is still plenty of room for debate on overall media performance. E&P though, has at least one good sign:

NEW YORK The fact-checkers have gone wild in the past two weeks, but even before Barack Obama and John McCain were officially selected for the final leg in the race for the White House, political editors and reporters had done some soul-searching, leading many to a new commitment to studying, and maybe correcting, the record when needed.

Bill Adair is the Washington bureau chief of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times — and godfather of PolitiFact, a joint venture with Congressional Quarterly. It grew out of an idea that is so basic, yet not widely employed. "We felt that we had done a disservice to voters [in 2000 and 2004] where we were passing along claims about candidates that were not true, and feeling that it was up to the voters to decide," he says. "So, about a year ago, my editors came up with the idea of a Web site that would be a sort of daily journal and archive where voters could look things up and see if these claims were true."

Initially, Politifact's only tool was the Truth-o-Meter, with varying degrees: There's true, mostly true, half true, barely true, false, and pants-on-fire. The same rating system applies to The Attack File, which looks at mudslinging, chain e-mails, and more. But the feature that has driven Politifact to the forefront in this election season is the site's Flip-o-Meter, which tracks accusations of flip-flopping leveled at the two candidates.

Reagan Style Extremism

Sirota:

For partisans concerned only about Obama winning the election, McCain's 180 on regulation opens up an obvious chance for Democrats to label him a against-it-before-I-was-for-it, say-anything-to-get-elected hypocrite - and Obama is (finally) moving to seize that opportunity.

For ideological progressives long fighting the good fight to resurrect the common-good regulatory agenda of the New Deal, McCain's shift reflects a broader shift in the public debate. Suddenly, regulation isn't a four-letter word anymore. Suddenly, even John "I'm always for less regulation" McCain is for regulation. That rhetorical shift could help create an election mandate forcing whoever wins the presidential contest to actually move away from Reagan-style extremism for the first time since, well, Reagan.

[...] we have to all follow the money and the actions. Both Obama and McCain have taken huge sums of cash from the industries that caused this crisis. Both Obama and McCain continue to rely on Wall Streeters who engineered the meltdown as their top economic advisers (though only McCain employs lobbyists intimately involved in the crisis). That kind of influence doesn't just slink away with a boom-bust crisis - it fights hard to make sure nothing concrete comes out of the situation (think the weak Sarbanes-Oxley after Enron).

Whether we get the kind of populist reforms will be decided by how much grassroots pressure is put on either of these potential presidents when they reach the Oval Office.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Matheson's CYA Addition to Energy Bill

Jim Matheson, still afraid to lead.

WASHINGTON - Utah and other Western states could open up vast fields of oil shale for development under a measure put forward by Rep. Jim Matheson and passed Tuesday by the House.

Matheson's provision permits Utah, Colorado and Wyoming to choose whether to allow companies to extract what supporters insist is a large source of energy locked in rock deposits in the region. Opponents argue harvesting that energy would be environmentally damaging and isn't commercially viable.

The Utah Democrat's insert - tucked inside an energy bill that passed Tuesday night 236-189 - would bypass a ban on finalizing the rules on how oil-shale leases on federal lands are doled out. The current ban expires Oct. 1 but is likely to be renewed.

"I don't want to oversell that production is ready - that you're going to see production tomorrow," Matheson said Tuesday. "I understand there are technological advances that are going to have to happen. But I thought it was important for the state and industry to have the opportunity to pursue those resources."

Matheson voted for the overall bill, which includes opening up some off-shore drilling at a coastal state's discretion, while Utah's GOP representatives, Rob Bishop and Chris Cannon, voted against it. Republicans maintain the energy measure doesn't go far enough to unshackle domestic energy production.
Many will again argue that this is just politically smart for Matheson, and they may have a point. But at some point in time, Matheson is going to have to test the waters act like a real Democrat. Kids in school or not. While acknowledging his role as the solitary Democrat in Utah's federal delegation, Matheson consistently passes up opportunities to lead the direction of the debate, choosing instead to roll over for the Republicans with lightning quick ease. Common sense too often takes a second seat to maintaining a conservative image. And there is no common sense in Oil Shale or Offshore Drilling as a solution to our energy crisis.

Matheson and the Blue Dog Caucus has been a gigantic failure when it comes to leadership, getting more Democrats elected, and respectable legislation.

Nader Again, Or Just A Bad Poll?

I don't think he'll be in the spoiling role again, but someone's polls disagree with me.

CNN / TIME / ORC
9/14-16/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Florida (907 RV, 3.5%)
McCain 48, Obama 48
Obama 48, McCain 44, Nader 4, Barr 1, McKinney 1

Indiana (890 RV, 3.5%)
McCain 51, Obama 45
McCain 48, Obama 43, Nader 4, Barr 2, McKinney 1

North Carolina (910 RV, 3.5%)
McCain 48, Obama 47
MCain 46, Obama 45, Nader 2, Barr 2, McKinney 1

Ohio (913 RV, 3%)
Obama 49, McCain 47
(9/2: Obama 47, McCain 45)
Obama 46, McCain 44, Nader 4, Barr 2, McKinney 0
(9/2: Obama 45, McCain 44, Nader 5, Barr 2, McKinney 1)

Wisconsin (950 RV, 3%)
Obama 50, McCain 47
Obama 49, McCain 45, Nader 3, Barr 1, McKinney 0
Now as much as I want to believe these results (I mean come on, Florida tied, Obama up in Ohio!!!) the fact that Nader is doubling up his previous high in each of these states makes me a little skeptical of this particular poll. But then again, maybe there's something happening in camp Nader that I'm not aware of. A recent google news search comes up with:
Granted these are all telling the same story, but can a guy talking to a bird give him a 4 point bump in a handful of swing states? If so, someone should tell Obama and McCain.

Palin's Expertise

Sullivan:

I know it's terribly elitist to believe that a potential president might actually have a single coherent public statement on foreign policy before her selection as veep-candidate; it's unforgivably snooty to believe that someone who had no opinion on the surge except that it should be an exit plan is self-evidently unfit to be John McCain's running mate; I know that it's now hyper-lefty and condescending to believe that a candidate should actually care whether what she says is true or not.

But what does it say about a candidate whose sole alleged expertise is energy and whose sole experience is in Alaska ... that she cannot get a basic fact right about the only area where she is supposed to know anything? And then keeps repeating a lie about it? Remember how John McCain introduced her:

Gov. Sarah Palin "knows more about energy than probably anyone in the United States of America." - Sept. 10

Just no more than a ten year old with access to Google.

John McCain wants to take the substance out of this election.

Don't let them help him.

Offshore Drilling Vote Comes and Goes

Is gas cheaper yet?

Didn't think so.

It's worth noting, however, that after all the tears and heartbreak Republican's feigned over not getting this vote, it sure looked like they wanted to avoid it today.

Perhaps it's because (thanks to a roll-over congress, and a vision-less speaker) they've now lost 90% of their downticket campaign strategy.

When this one goes no where, let's all remember to thank Rob Bishop for his grand leadership. Seriously, Rob. We owe you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Economic Ideology

Eric Rauchway (via Ezra):

Responding to the collapse of several major investment banks this week, John McCain reassured us, "I think still -- the fundamentals of our economy are strong." That move comes from an old playbook: On Oct. 25, 1929, Herbert Hoover declared, "The fundamental business of the country, that is the production and distribution of commodities, is on a sound and prosperous basis."
hoover.jpg
Ouch. It's important to note that an aversion to regulation is one of the rare things that's actually older than John McCain. For all his posturing as a sui generis politician, he, like most everyone involved in politics, cannot know about all subjects from all angles and so has fitted himself into an intellectual tradition whose values he likes and whose solutions he broadly agrees with. That tradition is economic conservatism. At times, that may be the right tradition for a president facing the particular array of ills facing the country. It's extremely hard to argue, however, that it's the right tradition for this moment in the economy, when even George W. Bush's Federal Reserve Chairman and Treasury Secretary are having to engineer interventions of unprecedented scale.

McCain may have been an excellent candidate for 2000, and you could even argue he had some real advantages in 2004. But a massive financial crisis brought on by exactly the sort of deregulation he's spent his career advocating is not the sort of moment that he's proven himself suited to managing. This is a guy who has said, proudly, "I'm always for less regulation" and who elevated Phil Gramm -- arguably the politician most responsible for the current crisis -- to a top economic job. This is a guy who, three years ago, wanted to turn Social Security over to Wall Street. It may indeed be that McCain realizes his traditional opinions are unsuited to this moment and will gesture towards some new opinions, but two weeks of rethinking is no substitute for years of engagement with a more appropriate theory of governance. Sometimes, it's not about the person, or the character, or the honor. It's about the ideology, and its engagement with the moment.

Morse Be Damned!


(h/t Oliver Willis)

The Living Room Candidate

I get an ever increasing percentage of my political information from Comedy Central's Indecision Blog these days. I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Anyway, they tuned me in to this:

The Living Room Candidate
Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952 - 2008.

My favorite: How innocent Nixon looks in this ad.

More of This, Please

Quote of the day:

"...if you think those lobbyists are working day and night for John McCain just to put themselves out of business, well then I've got a bridge to sell you up in Alaska."

Winging It

Campaigning with a complete disregard for truth:

Pfft. Yet another lie. Yet another easy debunking. Yet another time to ask the question: why on earth would they even bother lying on this stuff?

At a fundraiser in Canton, Ohio, this evening, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had an interesting description of her speech to the Republican convention.

"There Ohio was right out in front, right in front of me," Palin said. "The teleprompter got messed up, I couldn't follow it, and I just decided I'd just talk to the people in front of me. It was Ohio."

Nope. Didn't happen.

This struck many of us -- who, as she spoke, followed along with her prepared remarks, and noted how closely she stuck to the script -- as an unusual claim. (Especially those of my colleagues on the convention floor at the time, reading along on the prompter with her, noticing her excellent and disciplined delivery, how she punched words that were underlined and paused where it said "pause," noting that "nuclear" was spelled out for her phonetically.) [...]

"The teleprompter did not break," wrote Politico's Jonathan Martin. "Sarah Palin delivered a powerful speech last night, but she did not 'wing it'..."

I mean, c'mon. We've already gone past Mencken's prophecied point, happily electing an outright moron, but is it truly necessary to make Orwell obsolete as well? This one is just stupid -- lying for the sake of lying. Lying, frankly, like a child.

Also, news today that McCain invented the Blackberry.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Karl Rove: McCain Ads Go Too Far

Damned Liberal Media! Fox News, today:

WALLACE: All right, and for fair game, what is McCain doing that goes a step too far?

ROVE: Well, McCain has gone in some of his ads -- similarly gone one step too far, and sort of attributing to Obama things that are, you know, beyond the 100-percent-truth test.
The Obama Team responds:
The Obama campaign, not surprisingly, jumped on Rove's remark, emailing out this from spokesperson Tommy Vietor:
"In case anyone was still wondering whether John McCain is running the sleaziest, most dishonest campaign in history, today Karl Rove -- the man who held the previous record -- said McCain's ads have gone too far."
This is an honor indeed.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"Terror" Ads Running in Many Swing State Newspapers

Following an email tip from an astute reader, we did some digging into an ad tucked into newspapers in key swing states for a DVD Fox News fans may remember well from Fox's "just before the election" 2006 "expose" on. Titled "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," it goes without saying that this was right up Fox's alley. Now, in newspapers in Florida, Nevada, Ohio, New Mexico - just to name a few - the DVD is being promoted once again as an opportunity for voters to "educate themselves."

The film has been produced by ClarionFund, an organization about which little information exists. According to their website, they are a 501(c) org. that "does not accept funding from government, political institutions, or foreign organizations." They are also behind a website many might be familiar with, the laughable radicalislam.org, promoted as their "online educated" outreach...one of their three methods of "educating," including documentary production, and targeting institutions of higher education (Remember David Horowitz's 2007 "Boo!" college tour? Yep, these guys made that happen.).

If there is any doubt of the "education" being promoted to swing state voters here, take a look at the first article in the "recent news" section of the website: Radical Islam Given Podium at Democratic Convention. I wonder what ongoing war and presidential candidate promising to extend it indefinitely this group endorses? Edumacational!

UPDATE: Once again, bigger and better blogs have more info.

Palin's Growing Pattern of Deception

Palin claimed to have visited Iraq, McCain defended her against those who questioned it (indignantly, of course), but today we learn (again) she lied:

WASILLA, Alaska -- Aides to Gov. Sarah Palin are scrambling to explain details of her only trip outside North America -- which, according to a new report, did not include Iraq, as the McCain-Palin campaign had initially claimed.

Palin made an official visit to see Alaskan troops in Kuwait in July of 2007. There, she made a stop at a border crossing with Iraq, but did not actually visit the country, according to a new report in the Boston Globe.

Earlier, McCain aides had said that Palin visited Iraq, and expressed indignation at questions about her slim foreign travel.

The campaign also said she had been to Ireland; that turned out to have been a refueling stop.

In her ABC interview, Palin said she had also been to Canada and to Mexico, where her advisers said she went on vacation.
I've been on a lot of vacations.

159 Lobbyists = Reform?

John McCain approved this message.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pop Meets Politics

McCain stepped in into "The View" today. It didn't go well.

1. Joy Behar said to his face that his recent ads about Obama were lies

2. Barbara Walters pointed out that he himself uses "lipstick on a pig" and that Obama's reference was not about Palin.

3. McCain said Roe vs. Wade was a bad decision to booing from the audience.

4. Whoopi Goldberg said that appointing strict constitutionalists, the GOP mantra, would return her to slavery.

5. Barbara Walters kept pressing McCain on just what Sarah Palin was supposed to be coming to Washington to reform and suggested it was he who needed reforming.

6. They forced McCain to talk about separation of church and state and how a Palin administration, if it came to that, might not see a need for much separation.

UPDATE 7. They told him that Palin did accept earmarks and he responded with the whopper "not as Governor she didn't."
When even Bab's roasts your ass, things are pretty bad.

Gut-Check for Republicans

Reformed Neo-Con, John Cole (via Ballon Juice, emphasis mine):

Sarah Palin is the distilled essence of wingnut. She has it all. She is dishonest. She is a religious nut. She is incurious. She is anti-science. She is inexperienced. She abuses her authority. She hides behind executive privilege. She is a big spender. She works from the gut and places a greater value on instinct than knowledge.

And most dangerous of all, she is supremely self-confident to the point of not recognizing how ill-equipped she is to lead the country.

George Bush in a dress. The Palin interview should be a gut-check for Republicans and conservatives who think the last eight years has been a perversion of conservative principles. I am betting most of them will not even put down their pom-poms, though.
This is why the Democrats have rallied. Make this a fight between Obama and McCain, there's "play" room typical of any election. Make this a fight between Obama and the past 8 years of a Bush White House, and McCain falls flat. Palin has done exactly that.

Change, Still

Two new ads from the Obama campaign today: Change and Still.

The ads themselves may or may not be the most effective attacks, but it's very encouraging to see them act so quickly in response to the supporter driven demand that the campaign go on the offense.

Ads were accompanied by this from David Plouffe:

In recent weeks, John McCain has shown that he is willing to go into the gutter to win this election. His campaign has become nothing but a series of smears, lies, and cynical attempts to distract from the issues that matter to the American people. But as Barack Obama said earlier this week 'enough is enough.' We will respond with speed and ferocity to John McCain's attacks and we will take the fight to him, but we will do it on the big issues that matter to the American people.
I also think the "enough is enough" charge will resound well in the aftermath of the lipstick on the pig the Palin pick.

Palin Was a Mistake

A link, because I'm too lazy to cut and paste.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

She's Clueless, He's Worse


Nice to see some aggressive messaging working it's way out. From PDA:

Ignorance is bliss, which perhaps explains Gov. Sarah Palin being so confidently wrong about the root cause of the federalization of most of the nation’s mortgage market. But what is Sen. John McCain’s excuse? Both act as if the financial meltdown of the U.S. economy has nothing to do with the policies of the political party they represent—but she at least may not know any better.

Distracted momentarily from her campaign revelries of maverick opposition to the “bridge to nowhere,” which she had supported until it became a public relations debacle, and congressional earmarks for which she, as a small-town mayor, had hustled piggishly at the federal trough, Palin made the mistake of dealing with an unscripted subject.

Referring to the government’s bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Palin opined that the two had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers,” displaying abysmal ignorance of the fact that only now will those privately owned banks become a huge taxpayer obligation, as the federal government takes them over.
Piggishly. Nice.

McCain's New Pro-Child Molester Ad

Sirota on McCain's misleading new ad:

In airing this ad, McCain has done something I never thought I would see: He has sponsored a new television commercial that effectively declares his support for child molestor rights.

I'm dead serious here: The ad explicitly criticizes Obama for supporting state legislation that the Kansas City Star notes was designed to give "schools the ability to warn young children about inappropriate touching and sexual predators."

So by basic logical deduction, then, McCain's ad attacking Obama for supporting that bill means McCain would have opposed it - meaning he would have taken the side of the Pedophilia Lobby that wants young children to not understand when they are being molested. I'm wondering - is there a NAMBLA endorsement in the works for McCain?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vote Early, Vote Often

Early voting times and locations for Utah are on the state’s election website. Here are some counties of interest.

Weber County

Weber County Library Oct. 21-24 & 27-31
131 South 7400 East 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Huntsville Oct. 25, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

North Ogden City Offices Oct. 21-24 & 27-31
505 East 2600 North 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
North Ogden Oct. 25, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Weber County Library Oct. 21-24 & 27-31
1950 West 4800 South 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Roy Oct. 25, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Weber Center Oct. 21-24 & 27-31
2380 Washington Blvd, 1st Floor 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Ogden Oct. 25, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Weber Ice Sheet Oct. 21-24 & 27-31
4390 Harrison Blvd. 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Ogden Oct. 25, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Marriott-Slaterville City Offices Oct. 21-24 & 27-31
1570 West 400 North 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Marriott-Slaterville
Cache County
Cache County Administration Bldg. Oct. 21-24, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
179 North, Room 109 Oct. 25, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Logan Oct. 27-30, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Oct. 31, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Cache Utah State University Monday-Friday (starting Oct. 27-Oct. 30)
Taggart Student Center 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m
Juniper Lounge
Logan

Hyrum City Office Monday-Friday (starting Oct. 27-Oct. 30)
83 West Main 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Hyrum

Smithfield Fire Station Monday-Friday (starting Oct. 27-Oct. 30)
325 West 100 North 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Smithfield

DFA Ad: Unfit to Lead

Democracy for America has a new ad with Dr. Phillip Butler (Commander, US Navy - Retired), hitting McCain hard. DFA is offering a sneak peak at the ad, and asking for help getting it on the air.

It's time for America to hear from someone who served with John McCain. Dr. Butler has known John McCain for decades. Dr. Butler not only served with him in Vietnam, but was a prisoner of war with him at the Hanoi Hilton. Please watch the ad and then contribute $50 to help us cover the air waves with the truth.
Contribute here.

Bennion v Chaffetz @ Sutherland (Video)

This was a very good debate. Bennion shows his skills while Chaffetz comes across as whiny, petty, and - quite frankly - like the mouthy little pipsqueak everyone knew in high school that you kind of felt bad for, but at the same time really enjoyed finally seeing get his ass kicked in the parking lot in your senior year.

Amicus has the video:

Bennion vs. Chaffetz at The Sutherland Institute.

-Part One
-Part Two
-Part Three

McCain's Fannie and Freddie Problem

Ah, the many benefits of fiscal conservatives lobbyists in high places.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac "spent a combined $170 million" over the past 10 years on lobbying activities aimed at creating "a sort of regulation-free zone around their businesses." Although McCain and Palin are correct in naming lobbyists as "primary contributors" to the current crisis, their feigned outrage rings hollow because "at least 20 McCain fundraisers have lobbied on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac" in recent years. In all, these 20 fundraisers earned "at least $12.3 million in fees" from the two institutions. More troubling, however, is the fact McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, "served as president of an advocacy group led by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac" that worked to cripple regulatory initiatives in Congress. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac founded the lobbying organization because they feared that "congressional meddling would lower their healthy profits." During his tenure, Davis moved to challenge even the smallest measures to make sure that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are be held more accountable for their actions.
As with everything else, I'm sure this is good for McCain.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sutherland's Paul Mero Takes on Huntsman, Gore, and Global Warming

A new feature of KVNU's For the People, the Mero Moment.

Listen here.

Agree or disagree, Paul will make you laugh, and think.

Ron Paul on Montana Ballot in November

As a candidate of Montana's Constitution Party.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, runner-up in Montana's Republican presidential caucus last winter, will appear on Montana's November ballot as the presidential nominee of the Constitution Party of Montana, it announced Monday. David Hart of Kalispell, who ran Paul's campaign in Montana, predicted that Paul's candidacy would hurt the other four candidates on the state's presidential ballot, particularly McCain. 'Here in Montana, I think it's pretty much sealed the deal that McCain will not win Montana,' Hart said.
More bad news for McCain.

The L-Word

Finally seeing some use.

Despite being discredited over and over again by numerous news organizations, the McCain campaign continues to repeat the lie that Sarah Palin stopped the Bridge to Nowhere. John McCain has voted with George Bush 90% of the time and he and Sarah Palin will continue Bush's economic policies, his health care policy, his education policy, his energy policy, and his foreign policy. McCain and Palin will say or do anything to make people believe that they will change something besides the person sitting in the Oval Office. That's the kind of politics people are tired of, and it's anything but change.
As has been pointed out, McCain is lying to voters, and you don't lie to people you care about and respect.

Attacks on Palin suddenly have Republicans acting like the worlds whiniest feminists, and using the "L" word usually meets with the tsk-tsk-ing response (used far too often by Utah reps. as well - See Rob Bishop's staff) of "Oh, how mean!"

It's time to get mean.

Campaign Button

Monday, September 8, 2008

So You're A Political Guru? WaPo Contest

Fill out the map. Get it right, then you win prizes.

Here's my map.

<p><strong>><a href='http://projects.washingtonpost.com/2008/pick-your-president/'>2008 Election Contest: Pick Your President</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the 2008 presidential election and enter to win a $500 prize.</p>

Palin Stumbles

That didn't take long.

Huntsman is an Idiot

Nothing to do with this post really, other than he was stupid enough to repeat the "Alaska is close to Russia = Foreign Policy Experience" meme, making us look like a state of dupes for electing him. But anyway, I liked this simplifed description - with informative links - of why McCain would take us nowhere good (which explains Huntsman's endorsement) and why Utahn's, again, will vote against their own economic interests and values just looking for the "R" on the ballots.

- Corporate Tax Cut: A major aspect of McCain’s economic plan - Jobs for America - is a cut in the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%. McCain claims this will help businesses grow and create jobs, but as the Wonk Room has previously noted, a cut in the corporate rate would do nothing for job creation. The Congressional Budget Office has said that cutting the corporate rate “does not create an incentive for [corporations] to spend more on labor” and “is not a particularly cost-effective method of stimulating business spending.” Meanwhile, the U.S. already brings in below average corporate tax revenue due to “the tax loopholes, shelters, and giveaways that minimize, or completely eliminate corporate taxes.” Simply put, the cut means that corporations will pay less taxes, with no incentive to pass those savings on to anyone else.

- Drill, Drill, Drill: During the Republican National Convention last week in St. Paul, the crowd broke into chants of “drill, baby, drill.” McCain, in what he called “a capitulation to the oil companies,” has already flipped on lifting the federal moratorium on offshore drilling, which he once opposed. And while McCain has not come out in favor of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), favors drilling in ANWR, and said she would “beg to disagree with any candidate who would say we can’t drill our way out of our problem.” All this, despite the Energy Information Administration’s assessment that drilling “would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.”

Read more...

Coffee Squirts Out of My Nose


PPPPPHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA, AAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA... Ha. Hem. Ahem.

America is in a fight for her future—a fight we can't afford to lose.

That's why Chuck Norris, martial arts master, actor, and political activist, wrote his new book Black Belt Patriotism. Norris explores the dangers that are threatening our country, and the solutions we need to strengthen our great nation and reawaken the American dream.

Norris is not a Washington insider. He is a concerned parent and citizen, just like you. And he sees too many things in this country going in the wrong direction.

Aheh. Heh. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA...

Heh. Hmmm. Anyway, he's going to be on Hannity and Colmes tonight at 7pm MST.

Rob Bishop: Rude, Sleazy

HJ Letters:

To the editor: I was not surprised when I learned that Rob Bishop interrupted Iraq War veteran Marshall Thompson’s question at the town meeting the other day. I am also not surprised that he couldn’t or wouldn’t meet with Thompson in Washington D.C.

As Marshall Thompson wrote in the Herald Journal blog, he had sent formal requests to all the Utah delegates weeks in advance and everyone agreed to meet with him to talk about problems he’d seen in Iraq. Everyone, except for Rob Bishop, welcomed him to their office. Marshall Thompson felt like he was able to communicate and make some progress with all the delegates, except of course, Rob Bishop. Sen. Hatch was out of town but set up a time with one of his top aids and Thompson appreciated Sen. Hatch’s response. From Rob Bishop, however, he got a flat no. Rob Bishop was also slated to speak to returning soldiers in Cache Valley in July and missed that meeting. Thompson’s question to Rob Bishop, if he had not been rudely interrupted, would have been how Rob Bishop could improve outreach to veterans.

I’m not surprised at Rob Bishop’s rudeness because I saw him in a “meet the candidates” night back in ‘02. My daughter had some school assignment to fulfill so I drove her to the meeting. Rob Bishop did OK speaking — he is a competent speaker and a conservative Republican, about what you’d expect from a guy who now has voted along party lines 97 percent of the time. The problem was his behavior when the other candidates were speaking. Then he’d roll his eyes, make faces and smirk. He showed no respect for the others. My daughter turned to me and said, “Daddy, he’s rude, he’s sleazy.”

Sunday, September 7, 2008

OPEC Considers Cutback in Production

Pause for the "Drill Here Drill Now" screeches... then read:

VIENNA, Austria — With oil prices off nearly 30 percent from their highs of almost $150 a barrel, OPEC oil ministers are considering what was unthinkable just a few weeks ago — cutting back output to prop up the price of crude.

No one is predicting much of a cutback — if any at all. Still, such a move would not even have been thought of with oil prices setting record after record back in July.

But the bull run appears to have paused, if not ended, which means a new look at options for Tuesday's meeting of the 13 ministers at OPEC's Vienna headquarters.
That pesky world market...

Bringing McCain/Palin Around

A thought, via 538 (h/t BTD), on going after McCain/Palin... or "not taking the bait," as Armando puts it:

She can make game-changing agitation plays that rouse her home team and provoke the other side into counterattacks that – 100% of the time – end up punishing the team who hits back. Democrats would be smart to understand her as such, and I see a lot of reaction that doesn't seem to grasp what Palin is doing and the value she's providing. I see a lot of Democrats taking a lot of bait.

This applies more to Democratic surrogates than it does to the top-ticket duo. Joe Biden had the smart response yesterday – naming the behavior – expecting it, and then riding through without taking the bait . . . And that’s all he says of Palin’s antics. Name the behavior, even praising the skill with which the agitation was attempted, and then back to focus. It's "the economy, stupid."
McCain wants to feed the "game-changer" meme more than anyone (it's his only shot, to be honest), and picking at the many possible scandals (and admittedly, possible duds in the news cycle) makes for entertaining TeeVee, but isn't a winning strategy.

Palin brings nothing more to the debate than a new voice, and a new attack dog. But the message will be the same, and we've been here before during the primaries, and the start of the GE. For all the "Troopergates" and pregnant teens sucking energy from the chatter, only "earmarks" and "Bush's Third Term" policy ideas will resound with voters in November. There is opportunity immediately with the community organizer digs (a friend emailed me my favorite: Jesus was a community organizer, Pontius Pilate was a governor... it's funny because it's true) and the ludicrous claim of foreign policy experience because "Alaska is so close to Russia," but outside of that, once the dust settles, it's still Republicans asking us to reward the last 8 years with another 4. Biden has already started down this road, and Obama's recent ads have amplified the refrain. Smart.

The game hasn't changed, only the faces. McCain/Palin offers nothing new.

UPDATE: Rosenberg disagrees.

Obama's Executive Order

From ScienceDebate2008 (h/t Craig Axford):

• Appoint individuals with strong science and technology backgrounds and unquestioned reputations for integrity and objectivity to the growing number of senior management positions where decisions must incorporate science and technology advice. These positions will be filled promptly with ethical, highly qualified individuals on a non-partisan basis;

• Establish the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to ensure that our government and all its agencies have the right infrastructure, policies and services for the 21st century. The CTO will lead an interagency effort on best-in-class technologies, sharing of best practices, and safeguarding of our networks;

• Strengthen the role of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) by appointing experts who are charged to provide independent advice on critical issues of science and technology. The PCAST will once again be advisory to the president; and

• Restore the science integrity of government and restore transparency of decision- making by issuing an Executive Order establishing clear guidelines for the review and release of government publications, guaranteeing that results are released in a timely manner and not distorted by the ideological biases of political appointees. I will strengthen protection for “whistle blowers” who report abuses of these processes.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Filter

Assimilate yourself.

How Democrats Talk

Makes me proud.

McCain has vowed to wipe out earmarks, which are targeted funding for specific projects that lawmakers put into spending bills. As governor, Palin originally supported earmarks for a controversial Alaska project dubbed the "bridge to nowhere." But she dropped her support after the state's likely share of the cost rose. She hung onto $27 million to build the approach road to the bridge.

Until Saturday, Obama had refrained from criticizing Palin directly, saying only that she, like McCain, would continue the Bush administration's policies.

Democrats have debated how to deal with Palin. They want to avoid charges of sexism but find ways to highlight what they see as her political weaknesses.

Obama delivered some of his most withering criticisms yet of McCain, although he did so with chuckles and an air of mock disbelief. McCain has acknowledged voting with President Bush 90 percent of the time in Congress, Obama said.

"And suddenly he's the change agent? Ha. He says, 'I'm going to tell those lobbyists that their days of running Washington are over.' Who is he going to tell? Is he going to tell his campaign chairman, who's one of the biggest corporate lobbyists in Washington? Is he going to tell his campaign manager, who was one of the biggest corporate lobbyists in Washington?"

"I mean, come on, they must think you're stupid," Obama said as the crowd laughed and cheered.
UPDATE: One Utah has the video.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Biden Responds to Rove "Blowhard Doofus" Comments

Heh. I like Joe.

Bush Administration Issues Premature Oil Shale EIS

From today's press releases (which for some reason are flooding the Inbox all at once):

Bush Administration Issues Premature Oil Shale EIS

Rush to Score Political Points Places Americans, Lands in Harm’s Way

(Washington, D.C.)— Statement by Wilderness Society Energy Policy Advisor Chase Huntley on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Publishing of a final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for commercial oil shale development:

“The Bush administration has moved forward on its plan for commercial oil shale development without any clear understanding of the impacts on local communities, the environment, or the region’s economy. The administration and their boosters in Congress are pushing the promise of oil shale in the hope of scoring political points by leading Americans to believe it will lower today’s high energy prices. It will not. Putting politics ahead of responsible governance could cause more harm than good.

“In fact, this reckless hurtle toward oil shale development puts thousands of residents of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming at risk of an economic catastrophe not seen since the Black Sunday collapse of the Colony Oil Shale project in 1982. This move also promises significant and potentially devastating environmental consequences for nearly two million acres of Western public lands.

“Responsible stewardship of these public resources requires the Bureau of Land Management to ensure that industry has viable technology to commercially harvest oil shale before proceeding toward commercial leasing. But technologies to melt oil from rock efficiently, cost-effectively, and safely do not exist anywhere in the world.

“Americans want real energy solutions, not an unproven promise. Discussion of oil shale is just a distraction from effective clean energy policies such as increased energy efficiency measures and investment in renewable technologies. We should not sacrifice quality of life of local residents of these states on the alter of eleventh-hour politics.”

Find out quick facts on oil shale here.

[http://wilderness.org/Library/Documents/upload/TWS_oil_shale_fact_sheet_050808.pdf]

Find other fact sheets on oil shale here.

[http://wilderness.org/OurIssues/Energy/Oil_Gas_Drilling_and_Gasoline_Prices.cfm]

Read what the Denver Post and The Salt Lake Tribune had to say about oil shale.

[http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_9570992]

[http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_9604954]

John Bush

Widespread Public Misunderstanding

Fair:

CEPR co-director Weisbrot's research shows that, out of 267 TV news stories that mentioned the offshore drilling proposal, only one report cited the Energy Information Agency's finding that this would take 20 years to have an insignificant effect on gas prices:

Broadcasts almost completely ignored data, and conclusions, from the U.S. Department of Energy’s EIA. The EIA finds that the benefits from such drilling would be too small to have a significant effect on the price of oil. There is no legitimate reason for this omission in the media. Just as economic reporting regularly uses data (unemployment, inflation, GDP, trade) from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, or Bureau of Labor Statistics, reporting on energy relies on data from the EIA.

Citing polls in which over half of those surveyed call environmental protections a "major cause of the recent increase in gasoline prices," Weisbrot very reasonably posits that "omission of the relevant data from this recent reporting may have contributed to the widespread public misunderstanding."


Thursday, September 4, 2008

RNC Live Blogging - Palin's Running Mate (Part Two)

8:32 "It doesn't matter that you fight, what you fight for is the real test." HUH?

8:35 Senator Obama passing "corporate w8elfare bills for Oil Companies." Oh yeah, he went there. "Back to Basics" (like Keating 5, $27 million in earmarks, etc). "We're all gods children" (I'm looking for that "Build the Fence" sign in the crowd, not seeing it tonight).

8:40 Corporations are sending jobs overseas because we tax them too much. I'm still reeling from a fairly random "Indian" reference. It's the jigsaw speech... grab everything and hope it comes together in the end as something coherent and inspiring. My remote hand is itching. I'm sure ER is on. I hate that show, but it would be more sincere. "We're going to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries who don't like us." (We can't afford to keep it up... this war is expensive!)

8:47 School choice. Make-up beginning to run. Still no mention of immigration. I can no longer pretend to take this seriously. He should have had Palin's speechwriter help him out with this. Offshore Drilling! Woop! Bomb Iran. Russia/Cold War Redoux: Booga Booga Booga! (I thought Sarah had Russia under control up there in Alaskee) "We can't turn a blind eye to international lawlessness..."

8:51 This all sounds very warm and fuzzy, but expensive... could I hear more about your "magical revenue elves" tax plan again?

8:54 Start getting things done for the people who are counting on us (read: again, the people who drove me here tonight)

8:57 POW! story begins, signaling a wrap up (still no I-word). Again, this story has merit and deserves telling to a national audience, but to see it exploited so blatantly is a disgrace to POW's throughout history. Didn't he not want to talk about this anymore?

9:00 If it hadn't been for POW! stories, this speech would've been 11 minutes long.

9:03 When he gets excited, he sounds like a munchkin. I know that's not insightful, but at this point it's the only reaction I have left. I really feel dirty just having watched. Cindy on stage. Seriously, $300,000 for that dress? Someone got screwed.

Final Thoughts: This wasn't the speech he should have given. Not even close. Opportunities existed, he didn't take them. Someone is still giving McCain some very bad advice. Words not mentioned: Immigration. George W. Bush. Lobbyists. I predict a moderate 3-5 day bounce (from Palin's speech, not this one), then a steady, consistent, unwavering decline. Offshore drilling and POW stories can only carry a candidate so far, and I didn't hear much else throughout this convention.

Andrea Mitchell Update: Andrea is NOT enjoying these balloons falling on her during a very serious analysis of the debate. Trailing off each time she sees one...



(Check Back for Updates on the Speechifying)

RNC Live Blogging - Palin's Running Mate (Part One)

8:04 Video tribute. Third word in POW! Video is actually kind of humorous. 2 minutes in, they assert he was chosen by god to make this run for president (subtly, of course). When you've lived in a box... (I want to respect his service, but they're making it very, very hard).

8:12 What's with the green screen? "My Friends." "Dank." Thanks 41 for his outstanding service. Can't imagine a life without his family (and Cindy's money beer money). My thanks to all of you who stood by me (this is probably a dig at the RNC, who literally tried everything to keep this guy from becoming the nominee).

8:20 A word to Obama. "You have my respect and admiration. We are fellow Americans." You of course have never been in a box, so suck it, pointed-headed professor man! Blue background now. More complimentary to age spots than the green. Crowd getting unruly. Someone escorted out. Pepper spray imminent.

8:25 Hey! Elaine form Seinfeld. Or is it Tina Fey? Oh, Palin. "Warshington D.C." On Palin: tackled tough problems, cut taxes, taken on special interest, reached across the isle, gave birth, run a small business, good with her hands, knows how much gas costs, knows she works for me, doesn't like to sit down. Can't wait to introduce her to Warshington.

8:30 Holy Jeebus this is the most circular speech in the history of American politics. Get the point Maverick! "I don't work for a party or special interest, I work for you..." and these lobbyists out back who drove me here.

8:30 Lots of "Reform" signs handed out by the "homemade sign" branch of the RNC. Let's take a guess where this campaign message is going.



(Check Back for Updates Throughout the Speechifying)