Sunday, December 30, 2007

What's Behind So-Called "Unity Movement"? Fear of Economic Populism.

Okay, so this is what happening: A bunch of conservative Democrats like Georgia's Sam Nunn and Oklahoma's David Boren are teaming up with a bunch of disaffected Republicans to push for a national unity government. And, of course, D.C. establishment types like David Broder are acting like this is a good thing. Well, here's our position: like the little boy in the New Yorker cartoon when told by his mother to eat his broccoli, we say it's spinach and we say to hell with it.

Make no mistake this is a plot to make sure that an economic populist Democrat doesn't take the White House and try to take back all the goodies that the Bushies gave the rich in America. Things like cutting the top income tax rates, taxing unearned income at obscenely low levels, helping corporations pollute the environment, and making sure that free trade agreements are signed so that American workers can be intimidated into making sure they work for lower and lower wages.

If these people were so interested in bi-partisan government, why didn't they pressure Bush and Co. to include Democrats after the United States Supreme Court gave Bubble-Boy the presidency in a black-robed coup? Why didn't they pressure Bush to stop demonizing Democrats during the 2002 and 2004 general election? Why is it that we start hearing from these corporate apologists and billionaires only after Democrats take control of Congress and not before?

This is nothing more than a political shell game designed to make sure that the top 5% of America controls the political agenda now that the Republican Party has been shown to be corrupt and incompetent. Real Democrats will recognize this for what it is and they won't have any of it.

UPDATE: The populist commentator David Sirota comes to the same conclusion, but says it better. Click here to read his analysis:

John Edwards Fighting Hard in Iowa

The Washington Post has an interesting article dated December 30, 2007, about John Edwards and his campaign in Iowa. The writer apparently finds Edwards's talking about corporate greed and income inequality in America surprising. That makes sense because most candidates, including most Democrats don't talk about such matters. They are apparently too afraid of being told by the radical right-wing media machine that they are preaching "class warfare." "Class warfare" is the term that wingnuts like Limbaugh use when a politician tells working Americans how much they are getting screwed over by the rich.

This is a quote from the article:

But it is his message that is most remarkable. No thought here of finishing on a sunny and positive note, as he did four years ago. His "America Rising" theme is not a variation of "Morning in America."

It is a call to arms that is raw and angry, populist and pugnacious. It is a message that is as exhausting and is it confrontational. It is a message makes Al Gore's "people versus the powerful" seem tame and timid in comparison.

One Edwards supporter, departing after a big rally in Des Moines on Saturday night, said he hasn't heard a message as passionate or strong since Bobby Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign.

It is interesting that a Washington Post reporter would find it "remarkable" that a Democratic politician would be talking about such issues in such a tone. Well, it wouldn't have been remarkable back in the 1940s, 1950s, or 1960s. It wouldn't have been remarkable when Hubert Humphrey or Bobby Kennedy were alive. The fact that it is "remarkable" in 2007 shows how far from our roots the Democratic party has strayed. Both the United States and the Democratic Party could use some of what John Edwards is selling.

UPDATE: ABC News is reporting in a story dated December 29, 2007, that John Edwards is going to pull a 36 hour all-nighter as he tries to meet as many Iowans as possible. This campaign trip is titled "Marathon for the Middle Class". Edwards plans to introduce 36 policy ideas to help the middle class over the 36 hour all-nighter.

Does Slowdown in Home Construction Mean a Recession is Coming?

The Cleveland Plain Dealer had some stories during the last week about the slowdown in new home construction. One article dealt with the fact that new home starts in 2007 were the lowest in the last 12 years. Another article dealt with the fact that every county in the Cleveland-Akron metropolitan area has seen a significant reduction in new home sales since 2000. In northeast Ohio, the rate of new home construction has fallen by 31% during the first nine months of 2007 compared to the first nine months of 2006 and by 45% when compared to the first nine months of 2005.

In a graphic accompanying the article in the print edition, there was a chart showing the number of building permits issued for new homes in seven counties, including Medina County. According to the chart, in 2000 there were 1509 new homes built in Medina County. This year there have been only 559 new homes constructed, a drop of 62.9%. Medina County ranked ahead of Geauga, Lake, and Portgage counties, but behind Lorain, Cuyahoga, and Summit, all of which are appreciably bigger than Medina County. This slowdown is very unusual for Medina County that usually ranks in the top five counties of the state for new home construction.

Given the fact that home construction employs a lot of people, this drop in new home construction will be felt by all of us in Northeast Ohio, not just workers in the building trades. Car dealers, applicance dealers, furniture dealers, and others who sell goods to the owners of new homes or to the workers who build new homes will be affected by this slowdown in new home construction. Of course, the GOP answer will be to cut taxes and drive up the deficit even higher.

NY Times Profile on Mike Huckabee

As readers of this blog know, we have been saying for some time that Mike Huckabee could be the best Republican candidate to run for President in 2008 and, consequently, the worst Republican candidate for the Democrats. This is because of his populist message that blends social conservatism with economic populism. This message is one that could appeal to voters who are conservative on issues such as abortion and gay rights, but back programs such as Medicare, Social Security, and increases in the minimum wage.

In the past a lot of these voters voted for Reagan in 1980 and 1984, but many of them voted for Clinton in 1992 and 1996 because of economic issues. They voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004, but voted for Strickland and other state-wide Democrats in 2006. In particular these voters are important for Democrats in the southeastern part of the state, an area that is socially conservative, but needs economic help. It is no cocidence that Governor Ted Stricland comes from that part of the state. Because he came from the part of the state, working class voters who support Democrats on economic issues but disagree with the party's liberal orthodoxy on social issues felt comfortable voting for him.

The New York Times has an article up about Mike Huckabee in which Huckabee is depicted as roiling the Republican establishment by running a populist campaign. Interestingly his principal advisor is Ed Rollins who worked on the Perot campaign in 1992. That campaign, especially in Ohio, was very successful for a third party campaign. Its appeal was built on getting votes from "angry white males" and other so-called Reagan Democrats.

What is ticking off parts of the GOP is that Huckabee is not afraid of attacking the Bush adminisration on foreign policy or how it handled the war in Iraq. He is not afraid of saying that he raised taxes to pay for goverment services such as roads, schools, etc. He is described by Rick Santorum, the former right-wing Senator from Pennslyvania, as a "pairie populist" who would appeal to working class voters in the southwestern part of his state. In short, after years of using such voters to gain power and then screwing them over in favor of giving tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations, the Republican establishment is worried that they are now deciding they want to drive the bus, not just sit in the back. In will be interesting to see what Huckabee does in the Republican primaries.

Monday, December 24, 2007

News Corporation to Sell WJW in Cleveland

News Corporation, the parent company of Fox News, is divesting itself of eight television stations across the United States, including WJW, Channel 8, in Cleveland. This divesture is being reported by MediaPost Publications in a story posted online and dated Monday, December 24, 2007. It will be interesting to see if the Republican/conservative bias that some observers have noted in Fox News reports will be eliminated from WJW news reports. It will also be interesting to see if WJW remains part of the Fox Broadcasting system, although, given that Fox Sports broadcasts NFL football games, it would be likely that WJW would remain part of Fox Broadcasting under its proposed new ownership.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Clinton, Edwards, and Obama on Ending the Iraq War

If you are interested in reading how the top three candidates for the Democratic nomination plan to end the Iraq War, here are three links:

Hillary Clinton plan:

John Edwards plan:

Barack Obama's plan:

Although all three plans call for ending the war, there are distinct differences between the three candidates. This is what Clinton says about taking troops out of Iraq:

The most important part of Hillary's plan is the first: to end our military engagement in Iraq's civil war and immediately start bringing our troops home. As president, one of Hillary's first official actions would be to convene the Joint Chiefs of Staff, her Secretary of Defense, and her National Security Council. She would direct them to draw up a clear, viable plan to bring our troops home starting with the first 60 days of her Administration. She would also direct the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to prepare a comprehensive plan to provide the highest quality health care and benefits to every service member -- including every member of the National Guard and Reserves -- and their families.

Here is what Edwards says:

We must show the Iraqis that we are serious about leaving by actually starting to leave, with an immediate withdrawal of 40,000-50,000 troops and a complete withdrawal within nine to ten months. We should leave behind in Iraq only a brigade of 3,500 to 5,000 troops to protect the embassy and possibly a few hundred troops to guard humanitarian workers.

Here is what Barack Obama says:

Obama has a plan to immediately begin withdrawing our troops engaged in combat operations at a pace of one or two brigades every month, to be completed by the end of next year.

Clinton and Obama seem to allow themselves more flexibility in removing troops than Edwards does. Clinton doesn't mention how many troops should be withdrawn or what kind of troops should be withdrawn. She states that she will develop a plan within 60 days of taking office, but doesn't say how long it would take to redeploy out of Iraq. Further she doesn't state how many troops she envisions in Iraq after such redeployment. Arguably her plan would result in no American troops left in Iraq, but she doesn't commit to that result.

Obama says that he will withdraw troops that are engaged in combat and that such troops would be out within a year of the implementation of the plan, but doesn't say how many troops will remain in Iraq after the "combat troops" are withdrawn. Again, arguably, the number of troops would be relatively small, since they wouldn't be "combat troops" but it could also be that under his plan there would be thousands of troops left in bases in Iraq, but they wouldn't be engaged in combat.

Edwards, however, sets forth a timetable of 9-10 months and at the end of the process to withdraw almost all the troops from Iraq and at the end of the process envisions a brigade left in Iraq plus a few hundred additional troops to guard aid workers.

To read more about the three plans, click on the links above.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

So What is the Iraq War End Game?

On December 18, 2007, the United States Senate voted on an amendment offered by Senator Russ Feingold, (D-WI), to re-deploy United States troops out of Iraq. The amendment failed by a vote of 71 to 24, with 71 Senators voting against it and 24 Senators voting for it. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio backed the Feingold amendment, but Senator George Voinovich voted against it. So here's our question for George Voinovich and the other 70 Senators who voted against the Feingold amendment: How much longer do you see us in Iraq? Here's another question: How much more are you willing to spend to keep American troops in Iraq?

Those two questions are very seldom asked by reporters covering this war. Bush is allowed to get away with trite sayings like, "We will stand down as the Iraqis stand up", whatever the hell that means. No one wants to talk about how longer American troops will have to stay in Iraq or how much more money Bush's war will cost this country.

If Bush would have told the American people that his Iraq War would cost over 3,000 American lives, over half a trillion dollars in taxpayer money, and would last over five years, the support for his war would have measured in single digits. It was only because he and his administration basically promised a cakewalk that he got Americans to support his war. It was only because of the stupidity of the Kerry campaign ("I voted for the resolution before I voted against it) that he got re-elected. This war was sold to the American public by lies and is being maintained not because it has the support of the American people, but because the Republican members of the Congress put loyalty to Bush ahead of the desires of the American public.

So, this is no longer just George Bush's war, it is now George Voinovich's war. Ohioans need to ask Senator Voinovich just how much longer he is prepared to support keeping American troops in Iraq and just how much money he is willing to spend to keep American troops in Iraq. All that is needed now is a way to ask those questions, since it is pretty obvious that the media won't ask tough questions of this war's supporters.

Feds Reject Ohio Plan to Epand Kids' Health Coverage

The Toledo Blade has a story dated Saturday, December 21, 2007, on how the Bush Administration has rejected Ohio's bi-partisan to expand health insurance for working families. This plan, which was in the Governor's budget which passed with only one negative vote, would have expanded health insurance coverage for families up to $62,000 in family income. The Bush Administration announced this rejection with a one-sentence explanation and refused any other requests for more information.

This means that the Bush administration is not only fighting the Democratic Congress in its efforts to expand S-CHIP but is also fighting the efforts of states like New York and Ohio to use state money and federal money to insure children. This is, of course, in keeping with Bush's philosophy of trying to get uninsured children into private health insurance plans as opposed to using government funded plans. Never mind, of course, that such insurance plans are prohibitively expensive and don't really exist for working families. It's more important to Bush and his radical right-wing allies to fight for a philosophy than actually see uninsured children insured for medical purposes.

Ohioans need to recognize that Ohio can't depend on Washington to solve this problem for us. It is possible that a Democratic President will get elected and that S-CHIP will be expanded in early 2009, but it is certainly not a certainty. That's why SPAN-Ohio, which stands for Single Payer Action Network is working for a universal health insurance plan in Ohio. If you are interested in their efforts, go to You will find ways to get involved in this struggle.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Media Swooning for McCain, But Do Regular GOP Voters?

As this article by Jonathon Alter on shows, the mainstream media, aka the corporate media, is ready to swoon once again over John McCain. Quotes like this one show how much trouble any Democrat, but especially Hillary Clinton, will have with the media if McCain is the nominee:

Instead he's preparing for a possible sequel to a legendary insurgent campaign in 2000 that for reporters like me was the most fun we ever had in politics.

Political reporters like Alter seem to remember McCain's 2000 campaign the way a middle-aged man remembers the first time he fell in love when he was in college. Sort of rosy-hued with all her good points remembered and none of the bad.

What reporters like Alter are forgetting is that when the primaries in 2000 went from states like New Hampshire and Michigan, where independents could vote, to states like South Carolina and others, where only registered Republicans could vote, McCain started losing. While there is no doubt that Karl Rove's dirty tricks in South Carolina hurt McCain in 2000, what probably hurt him more is the fact that registered Republicans don't much seem to care for him. This is shown this time in Iowa where McCain isn't even competing.

So the question becomes whether the adoration of media writers like Alter will be enough to get McCain nominated. Probably not because the media has effect, but not power, if power is defined as the ability to bring about intended results. Nothing showed this more than the Clinton impeachment of the late 1990s. There is no doubt that most media types, especially those located inside the D.C. Beltway, wanted Clinton gone. Unfortunately for them, the public didn't and in the final analysis, the public got what it wanted, not what the media wanted.

Keep all this in mind when you start reading and hearing about the McCain "comeback" of 2008. Until McCain wins a state where independents can't vote in the GOP primary, such as South Carolina, all this media hype doesn't mean a thing.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Huffington Post Reports NYC Mayor Bloomberg and GOP Sen. Hagel Talking

The Huffington Post's Sam Stein has a story up that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel are holding private conversations, presumably about running for president/vice-president on an independent ticket. If that was to happen, Bloomberg would be free to use his billions of dollars to finance such a campaign. There have been reports in the past that he would use up to one billion of his own money to run for president.

Such a move, if it happens, will probably spell doom for the GOP ticket in a presidential election. It brings to mind Perot's independent run for president in 1992, which got around 18% of the total vote. Although Republicans like to argue that Perot was responsible for Clinton's victory, the truth is much more complicated. According to polls taken on election day, Perot's support came equally from both Bush and Clinton and Perot's effect was to deny Clinton a majority of the vote. This led to Bob Dole questioning the legitimacy of Clinton's victory on election night and helped fuel GOP efforts to derail the Clinton Presidency from the start.

Such a result could happen again in 2008 in the sense that a serious Bloomberg run for the presidency would mean that Republicans would be competing with Bloomberg for the votes of white men, a constituency that is vital for Republican success. In 2004, according to the CNN exit poll, Bush took 62% of the white male vote and that vote accounted for 36% of the total vote. Kerry took 27% of the white male vote. Given the fact that Bush only won by 3% nationally, competition for that vote with Bloomberg would probably make it impossible for the Republican nominee to win the Presidency against Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or John Edwards.

Another interesting thing about Bloomberg running would be that if either Obama or Clinton were the Democratic nominee, you would have a person who is Jewish, a woman or an Afro-American, and a white Christian male running for President. It would be a very historic election.

All in all, a Bloomberg-Hagel ticket probably ensures the defeat of the Republican nominee and puts a Democrat in the White House.

Dems Should Not Act as if They Were Defeated

Huffington Post has this headline up: "Defeated Dems Limp Out of Washington". The sub-headline is "Congressional Majority Fails to Alter Bush War Plans." The two headlines contain links to articles by the BBC and the Washington Post. If you actually read the two articles, however, a different picture emerges.

The Washington Post article points out the following:

Of the six initiatives on the their "Six for '06" agenda, congressional Democrats sent five to the president and got his signature on four: a minimum-wage increase, implementation of the homeland security recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, college cost reduction, and an energy measure that requires conservation and the expanded use of renewable sources of energy. Federal funding for stem cell research was vetoed by Bush.

The BBC article points out that originally Bush wanted 190 billion for his Iraq War and he got 70 billion. Clearly getting less than 50% of what he wanted is no great victory for Bubble-Boy and the Duck Hunter.

Given the facts, then why is Huffington Post depicting what happened in 2007 as "defeat" for the Democratic leadership? The reason is pretty simple: Huffington Post depends on stirring up progressives to get people to come to its website. People coming to the website brings in more advertising revenue, which makes the site profitable. Therefore, like Rush Limbaugh on talk radio, it has a financial interest in keeping its readers ticked off.

Are we saying that 2007 was a great year for Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi? No, but we are saying that it is a lot better than progressive websites want to recognize. And, it is a hell of a lot better than what would have happened if Republicans had kept control of Congress.

Bush Administration Backs Off JAG Corps Plan

Earlier this week, we posted an entry about how the Bush Administration was attempting to take control over promotions of military lawyers in order to get control of the JAG corps. The Bushies are unhappy with military lawyers who insist that Bubble-Boy doesn't have the power to suspend the Geneva Conventions when it comes to handling prisoners of his War on Terror. Their plan was to make promotion of military lawyers dependent on politically appointed civilians in the Pentagon. The implication was obvious: You buck us on torture, you don't get promoted.

Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe first reported on this plan in Saturday's edition of the Globe. After that report, the Bushies backed off. On Wednesday, December 19, 2007, Savage reported that the plan has been shelved. Now, here's the question: If Democrats didn't control the Congress, would one newspaper report have had the effect of getting Bubble-Boy and his loyalists to back off their crude attack on the rule of law?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Great Newsweek Article on why Fear Works in Political Ads

Newsweek has an interesting article in this week's edition, which deals with why appeals to fear and anger work better in political ads than appeals to reason. This is a quote from the article:

Fear makes people more likely to go to the polls and vote, which reflects the power of negative emotions in general. "Negative emotions such as fear, hatred and disgust tend to provoke behavior more than positive emotions such as hope and happiness do," says Harvard Universitypsychology researcher Daniel Gilbert. Perhaps paradoxically, the power of fear to move voters can be most easily understood when it fails to—that is, when an issue lacks the ability to strike terror in citizens' hearts. Global warming is such an issue. Yes, Hurricane Katrina was a terrifying example of what a greenhouse world would be like, and Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" scared some people into changing their light bulbs to energy-miserly models. But barely 5 percent of voters rank global warming as the issue that most concerns them. There is little public clamor to spend the kind of money that would be needed to change our energy mix to one with a smaller carbon footprint, or to make any real personal sacrifices.

If you are interested in the interaction between politics and the biology of the brain, check out this article.

Advice to Clinton and Obama Supporters: Get Over Being Self-Righteous

One of the interesting things to watch over the last couple of weeks has been the wailing and gnashing of teeth by Obama's supporters over the remark about his prior drug use by the now former head of Clinton's New Hampshire campaign. The Clinton supporter pointed out that Republicans were likely to go after Obama over his admission that he once tried cocaine, which is contained in his autobiographical book, Dreams of My Father. According to Obama's supporters this comment was beyond the bounds of good taste and was an example of dirty politics.

After the drug remark by the Clinton supporter came the comment by a western Obama supporter that Bill Clinton's shenighans was going to be a drag on the Democratic ticket if Hillary Clinton gets the nomination. Clinton's supporters couldn't believe that anyone, let alone a Democrat, would be so crass as to bring up the whole Monica Lewinsky episode.

Well, here's our point of view, for what it's worth: Both subjects are legitimate topics of political debate during the Democratic primaries. The Republicans will bring up Obama's admission of drug use and they will bring up the so-called Clinton scandals of the 1990s. Republicans don't play fair, and they fight dirty. If Democrats think that the Republicans won't try and slime the Democratic nominee for President, then we have a bridge we want to sell you.

The Republican Party has nothing left to run on. Fiscal conservatism? They lost that issue about two trillion dollars of Federal debt ago. Terrorism? The public is no longer buying that scare tactic. The economy? Basically it sucks. The Iraq War? Oh, yeah, that's a real winner for the GOP. All it can do is slime Democrats and hope for the best.

We might as well find out now how our Democratic candidates handle a tough and nasty campaign because that is what they are going to get next fall.

Medina County Voting Patterns by Age Groups

Medina County has 12,821 voters who are between 18-30 years of age. In 2006, 3,626 of them voted and 9,195 didn't vote. Those figures translate to a turn-out of 28.2%. What is interesting is to compare those figures with the age group of 31-50 year olds. In that age group there are 40,370 Medina County voters and 18,095 didn't vote in 2006. That translates into a turn-out of 55.2%, or almost 30 points greater than the 18030 age group.

Neither one of the above two age groups, however, did as good as Medina County voters age 51-65. In that age group there are 29,160 voters and only 8,144 didn't vote in the 2006 election. That translates into a turn-out of 72%. In the 66-86 age group, which did even better, there are 12,658 voters and only 3205 didn't vote, which is a turn-out of 75%.

The interesting things for Medina County Democrats is that based on the 2004 CNN exit poll for Ohio, the group that votes the least is the most likely to vote Democratic. In 2004 the CNN exit poll showed that voters in the 18-29 year old bracket voted for Kerry over Bush by 56-42%, and was the only age group in Ohio to favor Kerry over Bush. The worst age group, by the way, was 65 and older which split for Bush over Kerry by 57 to 43%.

Assuming that the CNN exit poll results for Ohio in general reflect what happened in Medina County in 2004, Medina County Democrats need to focus more attention on younger voters. Every 1000 additional votes out of that age group should result in a Democratic gain of 140 votes over Repubicans. Thus, increasing the turn-out by 5,000 votes in that age group would be worth a net gain of 700 votes. That may seem like a relatively small number until you start doing that all across Ohio. Then the number starts getting more impressive.

How About a Democratic Approach to Income Taxes? Lower Rates, Treat All Income the Same

One of the things that is puzzling is the failure of the Democrats in Congress to get behind Senator Ron Wyden's plan for income tax reform. Basically what Wyden is proposing is that the current six rates of taxation be changed to three rates; that all income be treated the same; and that most deductions, exemptions, credits, etc. be eliminated. Wyden's plan would keep the home mortgage interest deduction, the charitable contribution deduction, and the credits for education and earned income.

This plan is fair and would end the discrepancy in way that earned income is treated from unearned income. Although Bush and his Republican allies claim to value work and working families, their claim is hollow given the fact that the highest tax rate for unearned income is 15%, compared to the top rate of 35% for the highest income tax brackets.

This plan is also a way to fight the Bush propaganda on issues such as the alternate minimum income tax. Congressional Democrats want to minimize the impact of that particular tax, but to do so, they wanted to raise the income tax on hedge fund managers, whose income is taxed at the same rate as investment income. Bush and the Republicans won't support this concept because they want to help their rich business allies. They are able to get away with this, though, because they just announce their opposition to raising taxes and count on the media not to explain to the public whose taxes would be raised.

This kind of deliberate confusion would be harder to do if the Democrats adopted a comprehensive approach to taxes such as Senator Wyden is proposing. Such an approach would get attention from the media and would be easy to explain to voters. Why Democratic candidates running for president aren't jumping on Wyden's tax plan is hard to figure. Maybe they like being beat over the head by the Republicans on taxes.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Edwards Polls Best Against Republicans, Ignored by Media

Joshua Holland, in an article for, argues that John Edwards is the best candidate that the Democrats can nominate. He bases this argument on several polls which show that consistently Edwards beats all Republicans by the widest margins. The question then becomes: Why isn't Edwards getting much more media attention, given his relative strength in the polls?

Holland blames it on what he calls the "usual shoddy political journalism" that we get from most of our print and electronic media. He apparently believes that this "shoddy" journalism is a result of the media's fascination with process stories like who has raised the most money, has the most endorsements, and put together the most impressive organization.

Something else could also be at work and that is the fact that the nomination of either Clinton or Obama would be historic. No major political party in the United States has ever nominated either a woman or an African-American for president. Having the top two contenders be either a woamn or an African-American is, by definition, "news."

On the other hand, a major political party nominating a white male from the South for president is not news. It has been going on every since the development of the political party system in the U.S. Such a story has no political sex appeal. Therefore, there is not a lot of political journalists wanting to write or broadcast that story.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Another Bush Assault on the Rule of Law: Going After JAG Lawyers

The Boston Globe's Charlie Savage, who won a Pulitzer for his reporting on Bush's use of signing statements, has a story out about how the Bush Administration is attempting to gain greater control over JAG Corps attorneys. This latest attack by the Bushies on the rule of law would put approval of promotions for JAG attorneys in the hands of political appointees at the Pentagon.

This is a quote from the story:

The Bush administration is pushing to take control of the promotions of military lawyers, escalating a conflict over the independence of uniformed attorneys who have repeatedly raised objections to the White House's policies toward prisoners in the war on terrorism. The administration has proposed a regulation requiring "coordination" with politically appointed Pentagon lawyers before any member of the Judge Advocate General corps - the military's 4,000-member uniformed legal force - can be promoted.

A Pentagon spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the reasoning behind the proposed regulations. But the requirement of coordination - which many former JAGs say would give the administration veto power over any JAG promotion or appointment - is consistent with past administration efforts to impose greater control over the military lawyers.

The former JAG officers say the regulation would end the uniformed lawyers' role as a check-and-balance on presidential power, because politically appointed lawyers could block the promotion of JAGs who they believe would speak up if they think a White House policy is illegal.

Why the media, with the exception of reporters like Savage, doesn't write about how the Bush Administration is trying to undermine the rule of law in America is amazing. Since 9-11 this Administration has claimed the right to:

1. Hold Americans indefinitely without trial and without access to attorneys;
2. Torture terrorism suspects;
3. Send people to other countries to be tortured for information;
4. Hold people indefinitely without any sort of judicial or quasi-judicial review;
5. Determine what laws it will and will not enforce;
6. Intercept Americans' electronic communications without any use of a warrant;

just to name a few. Now we have this latest assault on the idea that attorneys should be free to represent their clients to the best of their ability.

If this was being done by a Bill Clinton, the right-wing noise machine would be in hysterics and the mainstream media would be echoing the shrill screams of people like Limbaugh, Hewitt, Coulter, and Beck.

Since the installation of George W. Bush as President by virtue of a black-robed coup carried out by a Republican majority of the United States Supreme Court, this country has seen all out assaults on the concept of the rule of law. The media's response: to talk about Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Mike Huckabee Moves to Gain Position as the Anti-Bush

One of the interesting things that has occurred since the Democratic take-over of both the House and the Senate in 2006 is that despite losing the mid-terms election, Republicans have been hesitant to buck Bush. On issue after issue, the Republicans follow the lead of a guy who is polling at about a 34% approval rating. Nor is this Bush support just limited to Congessional Republicans. If you listen to the Republicans running for President, you would think that Bush is the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan, the blessed saint of the modern conservative movement.

Most political writers attribute this to the fact that while Bush is unpopular with Democrats and independents, he is still relatively popular with Republicans. Fear of angering the "base" of the Republican Party leads Republicans such as Giuliani and Romney to keep praising Bubble-Boy and his diasterous administration.

Mike Huckabee, though, may be following a different path. In an recent article for Foreign Affairs, he refers to the Bush Administration as having an "arrogant bunker mentality" and criticizes Bush's decision to invade Iraq with a force that the former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said was too small.

Huckabee may have figured out that while there are many candidates trying to be like George, there isn't any candidate, with the exception of Ron Paul, who is trying to be the anti-Bush. Huckabee is in a position to fill that role because unlike candidates such as Giuliani and Romney, both of whom have problems with Christian conservatives, he has strong support among such conservatives. Having such support gives him the freedom to be more skeptical about the Bushies.

This strategy, if that is what it is, will pay off handsomely for Huckabee if he wins the Republican nomination. Putting space between himself and BB can only help him with independents and even some Democrats, who might be put off by Hillary Clinton, if she is the nominee. Hopefully, Republicans will vote against Huckabee in the primaries and make it much easier to beat them by nominating a person who will try and convince America that the last eight years was really an example of competence in goverment.

Senator Sherrod Brown Co-Sponsors Diabetes Bill

One of the real passions that drives Senator Sherrod Brown is a concern for improving the health care of Americans. His interest in this area is long-standing. It started early in his life since his Dad was a family doctor in the Mansfield area. While he was in the United States House, he took the lead on trying to get the Federal Government to do more on breast cancer. Now that he is in the United States Senate, he is taking on diabetes care and treatment. has an article up its website dated Friday, December 14, 2007 about Senator Brown working with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to pass the Catalyst to Better Diabetes Care Act, which he plans to introduce with Coryn. The reason why this caught the attention of is that since 2000 only two other counties in Ohio have had as big a jump in diabetes cases as Summit County. Those counties are Mahoning County and Montgomery County.

What's interesting about Brown working with Cornyn is that Cornyn is a very conservative Republican from the very red state of Texas. Yet, Brown is able to work with him on this very important piece of legislation. Sometimes we get so caught up in the partisan bickering in Washington that we don't realize that there are many issues which cut across partisan lines. Diabetes treatment is apparently one of them. Both Senators Brown and Cronyn deserve our thanks for working together on this legislation.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Scenes from the Silver and Blue Holiday Brunch with Governor Ted Strickland

Saturday, December 8, 2007, the Medina County Democratic Party hosted a brunch with Ohio's Democratic Govenor, Ted Strickland. Approximately 100 people came out to meet the Governor. Governor Ted Strickland gave a great speech, reminding those who attended of the importance of Ohio in the 2008 presidential election. This quote is from Governor Strickland's speech: "Ohio
is the epicenter of the political storm that is going on in America.
2008 stands to be a most important political year. By our choices, we will
have the opportunity to restore respect to our Constitution, re-build
our standing in the world, bring the war in Iraq to a conclusion, and
to do what we need to do to build a better America."

MCDAC thanks Medina County Dem Pat Chaloupek who provided us with the following pictures from the event.

Monday, December 10, 2007

L.A. Times: Military Families No Longer Support Bush on Iraq

The L.A. Times had a story dated Friday, December 7, 2007, concerning a poll that it sponsored along with the financial news organization, Bloomberg. The subject of the poll was Bush's support among military families. The poll found out that like the rest of the United States, a clear majority of military families don't support Bush's Iraq policy.

Here is a quote from the article:

Nearly six out of every 10 military families disapprove of Bush's job performance and the way he has run the war, rating him only slightly better than the general population does.

And among those families with soldiers, sailors and Marines who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, 60% say that the war in Iraq was not worth the cost, the same result as all adults surveyed.

Not only do military personnel believe that the war was not worth the cost, but 58% of them want the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Iraq within a year. Only 35% are willing to stay until victory, whatever that means in this war.

What's also interesting is that military families believe that Democrats, and not Republicans, will best serve the interests of military personnel. This is from the Times' article about the poll:

Now the disapproval of Bush appears to have transferred to his party. Republican leanings of military families that began with the Vietnam War -- when Democratic protests seemed to be aimed at the troops as much as the fighting -- have shifted, the poll results show.

When military families were asked which party could be trusted to do a better job of handling issues related to them, respondents divided almost evenly: 39% said Democrats and 35% chose Republicans. The general population feels similarly: 39% for Democrats and 31% for Republicans.

Democratic opponents of the war should be trumpeting this poll and its findings at every opportunity. Bush claims the right to define what "support for our troops" means but he is less concerned with the troops and more concerned with his own, narrow agenda. Americans need to know that supporting the troops has little, if anything, to so with supporting Bush and his incompetent administration.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Respected Republican Judge Throws Out GOP Campaign Finance Law

The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that Franklin County Common Pleas Judge John Bender, a Republican who used to be legal counsel to Bob Taft when he was Ohio's Secretary of State, has struck down the campaign finance law the GOP passed in late 2006. The bill was passed after the Republicans had lost five out of six state-wide offices. The bill was aimed at curtailing unions from engaging in politics by helping to fund political campaigns.

This paragraph from the Dispatch article explains why Judge Bender struck down the law:

After the bill passed the legislature, the House clerk’s office left out 33 pages of the final bill. It was that incomplete version that was attested to by the House speaker and Senate president, and then signed into law by Gov. Bob Taft.

After the mistake was discovered, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner let the House clerk substitute the first 33 pages of House Bill 694, even though it already had been filed with her office. The missing text dealt with union contributions; at the time, Brunner said the fixing of clerical errors was permitted in years past.

The unions sued earlier this year. Common Pleas Court Judge John F. Bender said late yesterday the General Assembly passed one bill, but the governor technically signed a different bill.

The bottom line for Bender: The governor can’t sign a bill not passed by the General Assembly, and lawmakers can’t send the governor a bill that they did not pass.

The fact that a Democratic Secretary of State allowed the Republicans to substitute the first 33 pages of the bill's text with her office, but it was then struck down by a Republican judge actually helps any future judicial review of Judge Bender's actions. What also helps is the reputation of John Bender for being a very fair judges and one who carefully considers his decisions.

This doesn't mean that campaign finance is dead in Ohio. What it does mean, if the ruling stands, is that the Republicans controlling the General Assembly won't be able to pass a one-sided bill. Of course, if they can't pass a one-sided bill, maybe they won't want to pass one at all.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Voinovich Votes Against Ending Debate on Energy Bill

So once again, good old moderate Republican George Voinovich, decides to support big business and the Bush Administration over the interests of the American people. Today the House passed energy bill, which would raise fuel efficiency standards, require electric utilities to increase the use of renewable fuels like wind, and tax big oil companies to help pay for costs associated with the bill, came to a vote in the Senate.

Under the new rules laid out by the Republicans, almost every bill has to get 60 votes or face a filibuster. The energy bill's cloture vote failed in the Senate. Fifty three Senators voted to shut down the debate, 42 voted against shutting down debate, and five Senators didn't vote. Guess how Ol' Moderate George voted? Yep, you got it, he voted with the utilities, the oil companies, and George W. Bush. That's a so called moderate Republican for you: You can always count of them to support Bush in the end.

Does Evidence Matter to People Like Bush and Huckabee

There are two great entries up at Huffington Post about Mike Huckabee's pressuring the Arkansas Parole Board to release a convicted rapist named Wayne Dumond. The first one is here and the second one is here.

Wayne Dumond was released by the Arkansas Board in 1999 and proceeded to rape two other women and murder both of them while living in Missouri in 2001. He later died in prison for the first rape and murder while the State of Arkansas was putting together charges for the second rape and murder.

In the first story linked to above, Murray Waas outlines how Dumond was convicted of raping a distant cousin of Clinton's and a daughter of a Clinton financial supporter. The Christian right in Arkansas argued that Dumond was innocent and that basically he had been railroaded by the Clinton political machine. A right-wing columnist at the New York Post wrote that Clinton had let an innocent man stay in jail for 14 years.

The second story linked to above is by Sam Stein who outlines how anti-Clinton zealots pressured Huckabee to get him to pressure the Parole Board to release this man. The second story contains the following sentence:

"The whole deal about the Dumond case, and it can be overanalyzed, was that this was a bad guy with a proven record of sexual misconduct and violence. This is the last guy you want to set free," Max Brantly, executive editor of the Arkansas Times and one of the chief chroniclers of the Dumond case, told the Huffington Post. "And Huckabee formed the judgment to do this not after consulting anyone but after being sold a story and buying it. It's kind of like Bush and weapons and mass destruction."

Now here's the thing: There was a lot of evidence around that Dumond was guilty of the first rape, the one of the distant Clinton cousin. Other women who had been raped by Dumond, or had relatives who had been raped, wrote letters to Huckabee telling him about these crimes. According to reporters who covered the trial in Arkansas, the evidence about Dumond's guilt was overwhelming. Yet, Huckabee, convinced by political allies that Clinton was corrupt and convinced by his faith that people who capable of profound change, got involved, pressured the Board, and two other women died.

This sounds a lot like Bush and Iraq, which is the point of the quote above. Bush relied on his political allies, the neo-cons, to give him evidence about Iraq. He ignored the evidence of others. He was convinced that Iraq would easily transform itself once Hussein was removed from power. In short, just like Huckabee's actions regarding Dumond were faith-based, so were Bush's regarding Iraq.

Given the diaster that Iraq has turned out to be, can America afford another faith-based presidency that ignores evidence that it doesn't agree with?

Bush's DOJ Throws Out Separation of Powers

Harper's Magazine Online has a very interesting article out which is a speech given by newly elected Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. In this speech, Senator Whitehouse discloses that he has read memos prepared by the Bush Administration's Department of Justice. Here basically is what he says the memos claim:

To give you an example of what I read, I have gotten three legal propositions from these OLC opinions declassified. Here they are, as accurately as my note taking could reproduce them from the classified documents. Listen for yourself. I will read all three, and then discuss each one.

An executive order cannot limit a President. There is no constitutional requirement for a President to issue a new executive order whenever he wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order. Rather than violate an executive order, the President has instead modified or waived it.

The President, exercising his constitutional authority under Article II, can determine whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President’s authority under Article II.

The Department of Justice is bound by the President’s legal determinations.

Later on in the speech, Senator Whitehouse puts forward in plain English that these propositions mean:

In a nutshell, these three Bush Administration legal propositions boil down to this:

“I don’t have to follow my own rules, and I don’t have to tell you when I’m breaking them.”

“I get to determine what my own powers are.”

“The Department of Justice doesn’t tell me what the law is, I tell the Department of Justice what the law is.”

True conservatives are supposed to honor tradition and not seek radical change of governmental institutions. One of the most honored traditions in American jurisprudence is the concept of separation of powers. Senator Whitehouse in his speeech sets forth how that theory is supposed to work:

Our Constitution has as its most elemental provision the separation of governmental powers into three separate branches. When the government feels it necessary to spy on its own citizens, each branch has a role. The executive branch executes the laws, and conducts surveillance. The legislative branch sets the boundaries that protect Americans from improper government surveillance. The judicial branch oversees whether the government has followed the Constitution and the laws that protect U.S. citizens from violations of their privacy and their civil rights.

This concept was set forth in the Constitution as a check on the arbitraty exercise of governmental power. As Chief Justice John Marshall established in the opinion of Marbury v. Madison, it is the province and duty of the judicial branch of government to say what the law is and how, in the final analysis, the Constitution is to be interperted.

Since Bubble-Boy and the Duck Hunter don't like their power limited, however, they get other American institutions to do their dirty work for them. One of them is the Department of Justice. Another is the Pentagon. Another is the CIA. Still another is the Department of State. All of these institutions have been corrupted by this Administration, as, indeed, has the standing of America in the world.

Why Progressives Aren't Lining Up for Ohio Supreme Court Races

Brian Rothenberg, who blogs over at Progress Ohio, has an entry up where he laments the seeming failure of Ohio's progressive movement to recruit candidates for next year's Ohio Supreme Court races. At the present time, there are no Democrats on the Ohio Supreme Court, and, with the possible exception of Justice Paul Pfeifer, no liberals. Rothenberg rightly notes that most of the campaign funds for the Republicans members of the Ohio Supreme Court are coming from big business.

The problem is that, unlike in other election cycles, groups that would normally back challengers to sitting Republican Supreme Court Justices have other places to put their money. Democratic leaning groups such as organized labor and trial lawyers have a Democratic Governor, a Democratic Attorney General, and a Democratic Secretary of State. In addition they have a veto-proof House of Representatives. This means that for at least the next four years, the tendency of the Republican Ohio General Assembly to do whatever it wants can be put in check. A Democratic Attorney General can bring class action lawsuits on behalf of consumers. A Democratic Secretary of State can undo some of the damage done to that office by Ken Blackwell. A Democratic Governor can veto unbalanced legislation.

All of this means that political dollars have some place else to go and that it likely to be into the presidential race and into an attempt to get Democratic control over the Ohio House of Representatives. This means that Democratic leaning groups aren't rushing out to find and, more importantly, fund Ohio Supreme Court Justice candidates.

Rothenberg is right to be concerned about the failure of Ohio's progressive community to line up candidates for these positions. Given the changed political realities since 2006, however, and given that political funding for judicial races is not easy, such a failure is understandable.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Did Democratic Take Over of Congress Stop War with Iran?

The McClatchy News Service has an article out dated December 3, 2007, about the National Intelligence Estimate concerning Iran's nuclear ambitions. In the article the following quote appears:

The Democratic-controlled Congress ordered the production of the NIE amid concerns that the Bush administration was hyping the threat as it had in Iraq.
The report was to have been completed last spring, but senior intelligence officials had said they wouldn't declassify the key judgments. Administration officials held internal discussions about whether or not to release unclassified portions of the intelligence estimate, said a State Department official familiar with the issue.

In the end, said the official, it was decided that if the unclassified summary wasn't made public, that would increase the chances that classified parts of the document might leak. If that were to happen, the administration would be accused of suppressing intelligence that found that Iran's nuclear program wasn't as immediate a threat as the White House had suggested.

Take away the Democratic take over of Congress and chances are that the NIE about Iran's nuclear ambitions doesn't get produced. If the NIE doesn't get produced, then Bubble-Boy and his band of crazed neo-cons never have to confront the issue of whether to release the report to avoid it being leaked to the media. If the NIE report doesn't get made public, Bush and Cheney can continue to go around and make statements about how, if Iran gets nuclear weapons, WWIII is just around the corner.

Absent the NIE release this past week, and the conditions for a war with Iran exist, just like the conditions in 2002-2003 that gave us the war in Iraq. None of the above happens without a Democratic take over of Congress.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Okay, Southern Republicans are Mostly Racists

One of the things that most of the national political media won't talk about is the fact that the Republican take-over of the South has been motivated by racism. The national political media likes to talk about how the South is culturally conservative and believes in a strong military. According to the national news media, the South going Republican is the result of these factors and not racism.

Well, here is what this analysis overlooks. The South didn't start going Republican until after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Then, it started voting Republican big time. Did Carter and Clinton make inroads into the Republican domination of the Old Confederacy? Sure they did, but even now the base of the Republican Party in the South is made up of white voters. In fact, as Paul Krugman pointed out in a recent column, white voters in the South voted 62% for Republicans in the 2006 mid-term elections.

Why are we talking about the South, Republicans, and racism? Well, this article prompted this entry. As this blogger, a lawyer from New Orleans, points out the Department of Housing and Urban Development is planning to destroy thousands of low income housing units and replace them with nothing. Here is a quote from the blog entry:

Despite Katrina causing the worst affordable housing crisis since the Civil War, HUD is spending $762 million in taxpayer funds to tear down over 4600 public housing subsidized apartments and replace them with 744 similarly subsidized units – an 82% reduction. HUD is in charge and a one person HUD employee makes all the local housing authority decisions. HUD took over the local housing authority years ago – all decisions are made in Washington DC. HUD plans to build an additional 1000 market rate and tax credit units – which will still result in a net loss of 2700 apartments to New Orleans – the remaining new apartments will cost an average cost of over $400,000 each!

Now, why would HUD do this? Well, the author goes on to explain how racial politics, Southern Republican style, is driving this decision:

Republican interests are clearly not served by the return of all African-Americans to New Orleans. Louisiana was described before Katrina as a “pink state” – one that went Democratic some times and Republican others. The tipping point for Louisiana Democrats was the deeply Democratic African American city of New Orleans. Immediately after the hurricanes struck, one political analyst said “the Democratic margin of victory in Louisiana is sleeping in the Astrodome in Houston.” Tiny turnout by African-American voters in New Orleans in recent elections has led white Republican interests to calculate immediate new political gains. Demolition of thousands of low-income African American occupied apartments only helps that political and racial dynamic.

And who is blocking Democratic sponsored legislation that would require that HUD replace each housing unit destroyed with a new public housing unit? Why, none other than Senator David Vitter, you know, the guy who hangs out with prostitutes.

Looking for Substance? How About a Two-Hour NPR Debate?

If you are looking for more substance in political coverage, NPR has the show for you. It sponsored a two-hour debate today in Iowa among Democratic candidates. The format covered just three topics: Iran, China, and immigration. The whole debate can be downloaded from the NPR website. You can also read a story about the debate. The page on the NPR site with both the article and the downloadable mp3 file is found here.

Huckabee Polls Best Against Clinton in Ohio Poll by Survey USA

Talking Points Memo has two polls up on its website. One is a national polls that shows Huckabee running second among Republicans for the nomination. The other one shows that Huckabee is the Republican polling best against Clinton in a Survey USA Poll. These polls are very fascinating.

One reason why Huckabee may have moved up is that his campaign is tapping into a circle of evangelical ministers that is helping his spread his message. Giuliani doesn't play well to evangelical Christians because of his support for gay rights, abortion, and his rather messy life with his three marriages. Romney doesn't play well because a lot of evangelical Christians don't regard Mormonism as a religion but regard it as a cult. Interestingly Huckabee is not stating his views on Mormonism being a cult.

That is a very smart political move. By not getting involved he doesn't get criticized for being intolerant of others' religion. Yet, since he is an ordained Baptist minister, he also doesn't risk offending conservative Christians as he might if he said that he thought it wasn't a cult.

In a earlier post, we wrote that Huckabee is the worst Republican nominee from a Democratic perspective, especially if Clinton is the nominee. He would bring out conservative evangelical Christians without the down side of either Giuliani or Romney. Warning to fellow Democrats: Keep your eyes on "County Boy Huck".

Will Hillary Clinton be a Drag on Local Dems?

A reader sent us an article that appeared in the New York Times dated December 4, 2007, about how certain freshman House Democrats are concerned that a Clinton nomination will hurt them in their re-election races. Although the article's headline was entitled "Vulnerable Democrats See Fate Tied to Clinton's", the writer only mentioned five Democrats by name. They were Nancy Boyda of Kansas, Zack Space of Ohio, Nick Lampson of Texas, Heath Shuler of North Carolina and Brad Ellsworth of Indiana.

The article focuses on Nancy Boyda of Kansas and what she is doing to make sure she distances herself from Clinton. The article has a great quote by Boyda:

Ms. Boyda, who is trying to establish a political identity as independent, said her intent was simply to show the voters of both parties in her district that she was delivering for them. Of the presidential race, she said: “It is something I have no control over, quite honestly. They will demonize any Democrat who becomes the nominee. I just put my head down and work.”

The Clinton campaign, of course, downplays this concern. The article quotes Harold Wolfson, Communications Director of the Clinton campaign, in the following excerpt:

Advisers to Mrs. Clinton, who has long sought to parry concerns within her party that she is too polarizing, dispute the idea that she could hinder Democratic candidates in Republican districts. They note that New York Democrats gained a net of four House seats in her two Senate elections and that she campaigned actively for House contenders in both.

“Anyone can speculate, but there are a set of facts that tell a very different story,” said Howard Wolfson, communications director for the Clinton campaign. “The actual evidence makes clear that she is an asset in tough districts."

The problem may not be in 2008, but in 2010. In 1992, Bill Clinton won election but didn't get over 50% of the popular vote. The Republicans, led by Bob Dole in the Senate, declared on election night that since he didn't win over 50% of the vote, his election wasn't really legitimate. They then proceeded to block his most popular intiative on health care. The result was that the Democatic turn-out fell in 1994, and the Republicans took control of Congress for 12 years.

The same thing could happen in 2008 and 2010. Clinton could win in 2008 and the Democrats could retain and even increase their majority in Congress. If, however, there wasn't 60 reliable votes in the Senate, the Republicans could block legislation. The result might be a depressed turn-out in 2010 and a Republican come-back in the mid-term elections.

Right now the Republican minority in the Senate is set on a course to force a record number of cloture votes, votes that are designed to end filibusters. When Democrats were in the Senate minority from 2003-2007, the highest number of cloture votes was 58 in both the 1998 and 2000 terms of Congress. At the rate cloture votes were being scheduled in July of 2007, the number for the 2006 term of Congress is projected to be 153.

There is one big difference,though, between then and now and that is that the political make-over of the former states of the Old Confederacy has pretty much been completed at the Federal level. It will be hard for the Republicans to find enough Congressional seats to take back the House in 2010 if they haven't done so in 2008.

Another possibility is that the Democrats could, if they hold on to their Senate majority, force a vote to amend the Senate rules and do away with the filibuster. The Republicans threatened to do so after the 2002 mid-term elections to get more of Bush's radical, right-wing judicial nominees confirmed. The argument was that it would only take 50 votes to change the Senate rules because the Vice-President could break a tie.

Whatever happens, Representative Boyda is correct. Down-ticket Democratic candidates can't control what Republicans do, they can only control what they do and how hard they work. No matter who is the nominee, Republicans will demonize any Democrat who gets the presidential nomination. They have to, because Bubble-Boy has failed to achieve anything other than get the U.S. involved in an endless war in the Middle-East, and run up huge budget deficits.

Monday, December 03, 2007

National Debt has Exploded Under Bubble-Boy

The Associated Press has a story out reporting that the national debt of the United States is increasing by nearly a million dollars per minute or 1.4 billion dollars a day. When George W. Bush took office, the national debt stood at 5.7 trillion dollars. Now, after nearly seven years of his administration, six of which his party controlled both houses of Congress, the national debt stands at 9.13 trillion and is set to go over 10 trillion dollars by the time he leaves office.

The article points out that the consequences of this increase in the national debt:
But the interest payments keep compounding, and could in time squeeze out most other government spending — leading to sharply higher taxes or a cut in basic services like Social Security and other government benefit programs. Or all of the above. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will have added to our nation's debt problem to the tune of about 2.4 trillion dollars over the next decade, according to the article.

What the article doesn't stress is that Bush's reckless, radical tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 greatly contributed to this problem. Between 1993 and 2000, the years of the Clinton administration, the deficit between what the government spent and what it took in as revenue decreased. This followed the 1993 tax act of Clinton's which Republicans claimed would ruin the country's economic. In 2000, the goverment actually ran a surplus of 86.4 billion dollars.

Now, it is true that in 2001 that surplus had turned into a 32.4 billion dollars because the economy had entered a mild recession. But that relatively small deficit exploded after Bush's tax cuts went into effect. Here are the numbers for the annual defict,in billions of dollars, according to the Congressional Budget Office:


As can be seen, Bush's tax cuts of both 2001 and 2003 were followed by massive increases in the deficit. Although Bush and his Republican allies tout the recent decline in the deficit as "proof" of the effectiveness of his tax cuts, 2006's deficit of 434.5 billion dollars is higher than any annual deficit under Reagan, his father, or Clinton. Boy, that Harvard MBA that his supporter bragged about in 2000 has really helped our nation.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Scenes from the Medina County Democratic Party's Holiday Brunch Featuring Representative Betty Sutton, D-OH13

Representative Betty Sutton talking to Medina County Democrats at the party's annual Holiday Brunch. Representative Betty Sutton was accompanied by her husband and several members of her staff. In her remarks Representative Sutton reminded the crowd that she actually made her first appearance as a Congressional candidate back in 2005 at the Medina County Democratic Party's Holiday Brunch.

Representative Sutton talking to Medina County Democrat Sheila Benson while Medina Township Trustee Mike Todd looks on.

Medina County Common Pleas Court Judge James L. Kimbler administers the oath of office to Sharon Township Trustee Jim Dudek who won re-election in November's election.

Medina Township Trustee Mike Todd and his two daughters at the 2007 Holiday Brunch.

Medina County Common Pleas Judge James Kimbler and Assistant Medina County Prosecutor Anne Eisenhower get Medina County Dems Mary Ogden and Anastasia Birosh to sign nominating petitions for Judge Kimbler and Medina County Prosecutor Dean Holman.

Medina County Democrat Norma Jean Madis discusses politics with Jack Schira, Democratic candidate for State Representative-69th District.

Medina County Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, Judge Mary Kovack at the 2007 Holiday Brunch.

Medina County Commissioner candidate Brian Feron with his mother, Dorothy Feron and Anne Eisenhower at the 2007 Holiday Brunch.

Representative Betty Sutton confers with Hinckley Township Democrat Ron Majeski at the Holiday Brunch.

Wadsworth Democrats Ricky, Zoe, and Keith Small at the 2007 Holiday Brunch.

Republican Scorpions in a Bottle

Ronald Brownstein, the political writer for the L.A. Times who also writes for MSNBC, has a story up on the MSNBC website dated November 30, 2007 in which he compares the Republican presidential candidates to scorpions in a bottle. This is a quote from the article:

Why is the conflict so much more dispersed in the Republican race? The biggest reason is that every other Democratic candidate understands that he cannot win the nomination without getting past Clinton. None of them have an incentive to challenge each other unless they can weaken her first.

No Republican, by contrast, has emerged as a clear national front-runner comparable to Clinton. Five candidates (Romney, Giuliani, Thompson, Huckabee, and Sen. John McCain) have a chance to win at least one of the three key early states: Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

Personally, we at the MCDAC love bitter Republican primaries so much, we want there to be 50 of them, but if we can't have 50, we will settle for 10 or so. As James Carville says, "when your enemy is drowning, throw him an anvil."

Frank Rich Column in NYT on Obama

Frank Rich has a very interesting column in the New York Times Sunday, December 2, 2007 edition about Barack Obama's chances to become the Democratic nominee. In the article, Rich points out how the "Beltway media" in D.C. has been mostly wrong about the 2008 campaign. Here is a quote from Rich:

Election year isn’t even here yet, and already most of the first drafts penned by the political press have proved instantly disposable, from Fred Thompson’s irresistible Reaganesque star power to the Family Research Council’s ability to abort the rise of Rudy Giuliani. The biggest Beltway myth so far — that the Clinton campaign is “textbook perfect” and “tightly disciplined” — was surely buried for good by the undisciplined former president’s seemingly panic-driven blunder last week.

Rich is making a very good point. Most of the time the political press does get it wrong. The political press thinks about politics all the time. It's their job. They also have to produce stories all the time. Again, because it's their job. When they produce these stories, however, they are mostly trying to predict the behavior of voters who don't have to make a decision for some time. Consequently, they have a good chance of making bad predications.

The intangible thing that Obama may have going for him is the fact that most Americans are tired of the type of politics they have gotten since the cultural wars of the 1960s. The 60s produced some very bitter struggles over civil rights, the Vietnam War, the role of women in our society, and laid the path for the battle over gay rights.

Consequently, the politics of baby boomers, who grew up in that decade, have been shaped by those same bitter struggles. We have seen that in the troubles of the first two baby-boomer presidents, Clinton and Bush. Each of them has had their own supporters and opponents who seemed determined to fight to the death. Such struggles take a toll on voters' psyches. Voters may be looking for a way to end these battles.

Barack Obama, being the youngest of all the presidential contenders in both parties, is positioned to take advantage of such sentiment, if it exists. If he was to win the Democratic nomination and then go on to win the presidency, the fact that he was born in the 1960s and therefore not shaped by its bitterness would be a big reason why.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

So What Happened to "We Are A Nation Of Laws, Not Men"?

One of proudest boasts of Americans in the past has been that "We are a nation of laws, not men." What Americans meant by that was that our leaders were expected to follow the law, even if they didn't agree with law. While that idea is a little too quaint for our current President. Our current President believes that he can sign Congressional Acts into law, but then issue so-called "signing statements" that purport to tell the Congress what laws he will obey and what laws he won't obey.

The Boston Globe has a reporter, Charlie Savage, who won a Pulitzer prize for is stories on Bush's signing statements. He had another story up on its website dated December 1, 2007, about Bush's signing statement on recent pieces of legislation. Once again our current President believes that he doesn't have to follow laws that he determines are inconsistent with his Constitutional authority.

Now this is where Bush's failure to get into the University of Texas Law School becomes a problem. If he had any inkling of the actual text of the United States Constitution he would realize that Article II of the Constitution contemplates a executive branch that is subordinate to the legislative branch. That's why Article I deals with the powers of Congress and Article II deals with the power of the President. Too bad that Bush does't really understand the Constitution he took an oath to defend and protect.

Karl Rove Manipulates History with help from the Washington Post

Karl Rove is spreading the lie that the Bush Administration wanted to wait for the resolution to authorize the use of force against Iraq in 2002. He started spreading this lie on the Charlie Rose show on public television and continued pushing it in another interview. This is from a story that appeared in the Washington Post:

Rove repeated his assertion in an interview yesterday, pointing to comments made by Democrats in 2002 that they wanted a vote. "For Democrats to suggest they didn't want to vote on it before the election is disingenuous," he said. The vote schedule, he said, was set by lawmakers. "We don't control that."

What Rove overlooks, though, is the fact that his former boss, you know "The Decider" was pushing for a vote before the 2002 midterm elections. This is from the same story:

News accounts and transcripts at the time show Bush arguing against delay. Asked on Sept. 13, 2002, about Democrats who did not want to vote until after the U.N. Security Council acted, Bush said, "If I were running for office, I'm not sure how I'd explain to the American people -- say, 'Vote for me, and, oh, by the way, on a matter of national security, I think I'm going to wait for somebody else to act.' "

Then there is this beauty, also from the same story:

Two days later, Bush sent a proposed resolution to Capitol Hill, saying: "We've got to move before the elections."

Notwithstanding the above facts, though, this is how the Post characterized Rove's remarks in the story's first paragraph:

Former White House aide Karl Rove said yesterday it was Congress, not President Bush, who wanted to rush a vote on the looming war in Iraq in the fall of 2002, a version of events disputed by leading congressional Democrats and even some former Rove colleagues.

See, for the writer of this article, Rove wasn't lying, it's just that his version of events is "disputed." It is this kind of supposed objectivity that is killing newspapers' reputations.

If someone says something that isn't true, that is demonstratively untrue, then reporters can point that out in their stories. Instead, however, perhaps because the reporter likes Rove, or perhaps because the Post is afraid of Rove, or for whatever stupid reason, the article's author chooses to use the word "disputed."

Rove isn't stupid. He knows that Iraq will go down as one of the biggest diasters in American foreign policy history. It cost the GOP control of Congress in 2006, could cost it control of the White House in 2008, and he is doing his bit to rewrite history so it doesn't happen. And just like it did in 2002 when it pushed the story line of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, the Post is there to help him.

Democrat Wins Coin Toss for Seville, Ohio Council Seat

James Lovejoy, a Democrat, won a coin toss between him and Leslie Miller,a Republican, to settle an election for Seville Village Council in southern Medina County. Lovejoy and Miller were two of three candidates running for two seats on the Council. After the unofficial count on election night Lovejoy was leading by one vote. After the official count, though, which included absentee ballots, they were tied. Ohio law prescribes that after the official count, if there is a tie, that it be settled by the flip of a coin.

Tom Wolfe, the Chair of the Board of Elections for Medina County, conducted the coin flip at the Board offices in Medina, Ohio. Since Lovejoy was out of state on a vacation, Miller got to call heads or tails. She called heads, but it came up tails, and so Lovejoy won the election. Wolfe, who is retiring after serving on the Board of Elections for 35 years, said this is the first time a coin flip has been used to settle an election since he has been a Board member. You can read more about the coin toss in the Medina County Gazette story of November 29, 2007.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Make Your Own Attack Ad with DNC's Flipper TV

The Democratic National Committee has launched a new project called "Flipper TV." This website features hours of video clips of the Republican presidential candidates. More video will be added over the coming months, including clips from the You Tube Republican debate held on Wednesday, November 28, 2007. This is a really cool idea. So, if you ever wanted to make your own attack ad, now you have the material, courtesy of the DNC.

Clinton Leads in Most SurveyUSA Polls

A SurveyUSA poll done for two television stations in Ohio has Clinton leading all Republicans listed except for John McCain. The poll was taken on November 9, 2007. A November 1, 2007 poll by Survey USA had Clinton leading all Republicans listed in Florida. A SurveyUSA poll has Clinton leading all listed Repulicans in Kentucky.

Thus, in states that were battleground states in 2000 and 2004, Florida and Ohio, Clinton leads and in a state that is usually a safe Republican state, Clinton leads. Yet, constantly from the news media we hear and read stories that question Clinton's electability. This is usually based on the relatively high unfavorables that Clinton has when compared to other Democratic and Republican candidates.

The problem with such analysis, however, is that it overlooks the ability of Republicans, with their allies in the media like Fox News, to drive up the unfavorables of any Democratic candidate who wins the Democratic nomination. Can we say "Swift-boating", children?

What we know about Clinton is that she can take and deliver a punch. We don't know that nearly as well about Obama and Edwards. The question isn't whether the Republicans are going to attack and demonize the Democratic nominee. The question is whether such Democrat will fight back. The ability and willingness to fight back may be a lot more important than the negative ratings of the eventual Democratic nominee.

"Bush Economy" Heading for a Recession?

The economy is heading toward a recession. New home sales are down 8.5% since July. Prices of new homes have fallen 7.5% from a year ago. Credit is increasingly hard to get for consumers and businesses. All of these are signs that the economy is heading towards a recession.

Ever since Bush's reckless, radical tax cuts, we have heard from his supporters and apologists about how they have helped the economy. Actually, and this is something that presidents of both parties don't want to talk about, but the Federal Reserve Board has more control over the economy than any president. If the Fed makes more money available, it helps both consumers and businesses get loans. They use these loans to buy goods and services, thereby creating more jobs for Americans.

Under Greenspan the Fed basically allowed homeowners to turn their homes into ATM units. Americans borrowed on their equity to finance everything from home remodeling to a new vacation for the grandkids.

Naturally, since Greenspan is a Republican and since Bush is an idiotic Republican, no one thought about overseeing the financial institutions making these loans. As a result, we now have a wave of losses in the billions of dollars from risky loans. Consequently, we see financial institutions, who are apparently led by people who are not real bright given their past history, sharply cutting back on new loans.

If there is a recession, look for three things to happen. One is that Republicans like Bush will push for even more tax cuts under the rationale that we need to "pump" up the economy. Two, Democrats will do even better next year than anticipated. Three, illegal immigration will become even more potent as an issue because of economic insecurity among working class Americans.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gallup Poll Shows Clinton & Obama Lead or Tie GOP Contenders

The Gallup Polling organization released a poll of nationwide voters on November 26, 2007, showing that Clinton and Obama lead all GOP contenders with the exception that Obama ties Guilliani in the poll. What is significant about Clinton's lead is that against all candidates, except Guilliani, she is doing better in her poll numbers than she was doing in a June/July poll. Regarding Guilliani, although Clinton's spread over Guilliani has increased from four per-cent to five per-cent, the numbers for both Guilliani have declined by one point each. Clinton went to 49% from 50% and Guilliani went from 46% to 44%.

Of course, we don't elect presidents in a nationwide contest, we elect them in 50 state elections which result in the selection of electors who make up the electoral college. Therefore, national polling figures are somewhat misleading. While it is probably impossible for a presidential candidate to lose the popular vote by more than five per-cent and still win the 270 electoral votes required to become president, as we saw in 2000, it is possible to lose the popular vote by 500,000 plus votes and still win the electoral college. In such a case, however, it is helpful to have the United States Supreme Court go in the bag for you.

Republican Representative Pushed Through Financial Aid for College for the Rich

Let's say that you were allocating Federal dollars for a student loan program. Would one of your priorities be getting such aid into the hands of parents who run businesses employing less than 100 people? Parents who may have a net worth in the millions of dollars? Well, if you were Republican Representative Marilyn Musgrave of Colorado that's exactly what you would do.

This is from an article on the U.S. News & World Report website dated November 16, 2007:

A little-noticed loophole written into federal college financial aid rules allows the children of wealthy entrepreneurs to collect aid intended for the needy.

In a bill passed last year, Congress decreed that when determining how much each family can afford to contribute to a child's college education, the federal government should not consider the assets of owners of businesses with 100 full-time employees or fewer. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave of Colorado inserted this exemption, noting at the time that small-business owners should be treated the same as family farmers, who aren't expected to mortgage their property to pay for college. Musgrave, a Republican, did not respond to requests for comment. The federal government will still consider the income of all business owners.

According to the article, financial planners for the rich are already taking advantage of this provision, as this quote shows:

Matt Geherin, a financial consultant in Rochester, N.Y., helped a client move property worth $700,000 into a limited partnership to reduce taxes and improve his children's eligibility for need-based aid. The new exemption could "change our advice profoundly," he says.

Major advantage. Fred Amrein, a fee-only college funding adviser based in Wynnewood, Pa., says the new exemption allowed one client's child to qualify for a federally subsidized student loan this spring even though the parent's business was worth more than $1 million. Previously, the government would have estimated those parents could have paid more than $70,000 a year for tuition and thus would have awarded the child no need-based aid. "This is a major advantage for small-business families," Amrein says, adding, "I believe the size [of the exemption] is too large."

Marilyn Musgrave: She'll fight to the death to help the rich!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Reader Submission: The Kids on my Street

On my street, the kids went to war when they graduated high school. The moms and dads had a party for the boys before they left for basic training and another one before they shipped to Vietnam. The kids on my street all went to Vietnam.

There weren’t many parties when the kid came back. Just having him back in one piece was enough. The moms and dads seemed to sink into themselves and always aged while their child was gone.

When the kid came back he was usually working at Chevy, Ford or Republic Steel before his hair grew over his ears and onto his collar. Most of the boys on my street grew their hair long after they came back from Vietnam.

The people on my street knew that the fortunate sons of privilege were not going to Vietnam. The Batchelders, Bushes and Cheneys lived on avenues, drives and boulevards where all of the children went to college and joined the National Guard or the Army Special Reserve or got themselves elected to a Government position if they ran out of deferments. These children didn’t keep themselves out of the war. Their moms and dads used their power and influence and money to keep their kids out of Vietnam.

The children on the Batchelder’s, Bush’s and Cheney’s avenues and boulevards were already working in Government when the kids on my street came back from Vietnam. The Batchelder, Bush and Cheney children never did grow their hair long and they didn’t learn first-hand about real human justice and injustice and tragedy and corruption and courage and sacrifice, but they did get a big head start in government, which is part of the reason that we are in the situation we are in, in Iraq. These sons of privilege never tested or tempered their own character in the Vietnam crucible and arrived in positions of power without the capability of exercising the thoughtful judgment that they may have possessed had they only gone to war with the kids on my street.

John Galish