Thursday, December 27, 2007

Holiday Hiatus/Linkfest

I have my son for winter break so I'll be on hiatus till the Iowa primaries. Until then, as my belated Christmas present to you, I present the holiday linkfest. Just leave your blogs title and address in the comments of this post and I'll put a link here (as long as it doesn't promote anything illegal, immoral, or light beer). Feel free to link back.

A Gentle Reminder

If you itemized your deductions last year and owed the IRS money and plan on owing next year this week would be a good time to donate to your favorite charity. After all NGOs are normally much more efficient than the federal government.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

Nativity set plus a four year old equals:

(Click picture to enlarge)
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king behold there came three wise men, a golem called Optimus Prime, and a pirate captain named Jack....

The Gospel According to Mattel 2:1

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Torture and the '08 Elections

I've talked a fair bit about torture here and it's greatly influenced my decision making as to who I'm going to vote for. Over at TMV David Schraub concludes that the entire election is about torture. And he's right in that we do need to have a national debate about torture in order to decide what America is. However I think that the point his title makes needs to be explored in a different manner. To me the questions about torture are an excellent barometer of any candidate's morales.

Here's the way I see it. If you ask the question WWJD in regards to torture the answer is readily apparent. However many candidates seem to be at odds with the beliefs they claim they have and their position on torture. If they can't follow the dictates of their own faith how can we expect them to follow "lesser dictates" like international law or the Constitution (or even tell the truth consistently for that matter)? There has to be some minimum bar for morality in a president and sadly enough this election we're debating the value of hitting rock bottom in that area.

If I'm right about what a candidates stance on this issue says about them then I have four choices this election season; John McCain, Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee and every Dem candidate that isn't Hillary Clinton. Since I don't think that Ron Paul or Huckabee can win (or even want Huckabee to) the GOP nomination who I'll be voting for will most likely be decided by the winnowing process that is called the primaries and the sad thing is that in the end I may end up with a choice of lesser evils. Again.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Glow Softly and Carry a Big Stick

Tired of paying high electric bills but don't want your Redstate reading friends making fun of your solar panels? Thanks to the new Home Nuclear Reactor from Toshiba your fiscal conservatism can now be nuclear powered!

From Wired:

If we lived in a world where everyone was (a) smart and (b) trustworthy, Toshiba's micro-sized nuclear reactor, small enough to fit in the basement or a large shed, would be a slam-dunk solution to the energy/climate crisis.

Twenty foot long by six foot wide, the reactors produce 200kW of energy and run themselves: the entire thing is manufactured with the fuel within, and when it runs out, they can just send a truck to pick it up.

"Unlike traditional nuclear reactors the new micro reactor uses no control rods to initiate the reaction. The new revolutionary technology uses reservoirs of liquid lithium-6, an isotope that is effective at absorbing neutrons. The Lithium-6 reservoirs are connected to a vertical tube that fits into the reactor core. The whole whole process is self sustaining and can last for up to 40 years, producing electricity for only 5 cents per kilowatt hour, about half the cost of grid energy."

And if you happen to already own a USB missile launcher you'll soon be the envy of all of your hawkish conservative friends. Buy one today! (Warning: May cause nausea, vomiting, hair loss, IAEA inspections, UN sanctions, acts of terrorism, and mutually assured destruction. Read instructions and consider moral implications before use. Waste disposal system not included.)


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

OMG They Killed Kenny!

or Hentish as the case may be.

Looks like Blackwater is back in the news yet again first it was the murder of Iraqi citizens, then it was for its employees allegedly gang raping a coworker and now they've shot the NY Times dog.

From Reuters:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. embassy in Iraq is investigating another deadly shooting incident involving its Blackwater bodyguards -- this time of the New York Times's dog.

Staff at the newspaper's Baghdad bureau said Blackwater bodyguards shot Hentish dead last week before a visit by a U.S. diplomat to the Times compound.

Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said the dog had attacked one of Blackwater's bomb-sniffer dogs while a security team was sweeping the compound for explosives.

At this rate the next salvo of negative press launched against Blackwater will involve children. I'm betting that it will eventually be alleged that Blackwater employees were either found running a sweatshop using forced child labor or that they were caught selling diminutive prosthetic limbs on the Iraqi black market. That is of course provided they aren't caught offing Oxfam's cat first.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Court Strikes a Blow Against Excessive Secrecy

And it'll be hard for the right wing noise machine to claim the presiding judge is judicial activist this time. Why? Because in order to do that they'd first have to admit that Reagan was wrong.

From the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House visitor logs are public documents, a federal judge ruled Monday, rejecting a legal strategy that the Bush administration had hoped would get around public records laws and let them keep their guests a secret.

The ruling is a blow to the Bush administration, which has fought the release of records showing visits by prominent religious conservatives.

Visitor records are created by the Secret Service, which is subject to the Freedom of Information Act. But the Bush administration has ordered the data turned over to the White House, where they are treated as presidential records outside the scope of the public records law.

But U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled logs from the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's residence remain Secret Service documents and are subject to public records requests.

Lamberth, who served in the Justice Department before President Reagan put him on the federal bench, has roiled Democratic and Republican administrations alike with rulings rejecting government secrecy claims.

Occasionally one runs across a public figure that we really need to clone and Judge Royce C. Lamberth seems to fit that bill. I've only said that about one other person and that was former congressman Pete McCloskey. Since it appears that once a year I become aware of people whose actions for the American people merit that their value to this country warrants that a copy of them be made I hereby create the Meritorious Cloning Award and bestow it upon them both. The winners of said award will receive a certificate of merit, a cotton swab, a small plastic bag, a set of instructions, and a prepaid return envelope.

H/T to Done With Mirrors

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ron Paul Beats Own Fundraising Record

If the momentum keeps going at the current rate he'll crack eighteen million for the quarter by midnight pacific standard time.

From the Boston Globe:

On Nov. 5, supporters of Ron Paul raked in more than $4.2 million in donations in 24 hours, mostly of them collected over the Internet.

Today, they're at it again. Hoping to detonate what they call a "money bomb," the supporters started fundraising at midnight Saturday and have already raised $2 million as of about 10:30 a.m. today, more than at this point on Nov. 5, according to figures they posted online. They hope to collect a total of $10 million by midnight Sunday.

Last time, they tied their fundraising to Guy Fawkes Day, which commemorates a British mercenary who tried unsuccesfully to kill King James I on Nov. 5, 1605. This time, they're seizing on the 234th aniversary of the Boston Tea Party and converging on this snowy city to rally.

The WaPo confirms that this money bomb has met its goal and adds that he is the only candidate to achieve continual upward fundraising momentum.

He's the only candidate, Republican or Democrat, to increase his fundraising haul with every quarter, raising $640,000 in the first quarter, $2.4 million in the second, $5.1 million in the third. And more than two-thirds of the money, his aides say, has come from the Internet. In what was first seen as an overly ambitious goal, aides said they needed to raise $12 million by Dec. 31 to be able to stay competitive in the early primary states. With the money raised, campaign spokesman Jesse Benton said Paul bought television spots in Iowa and New Hampshire and radio ads in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and Florida. Benton added that the campaign has attracted 107,000 donors this quarter, with the median contribution of about $50.
Amazing what people will do for you when you allow them to use their own methods and ideas to support you rather than continually reigning them in.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

New Jersey Abolishes Death Penalty

Looks like NJ Dems were able to push it through using a fiscal responsibility argument.

From the WaPo:

NEW YORK, Dec. 13 -- New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday became the first in the nation to abolish the death penalty since the Supreme Court restored it in 1976. Opponents of capital punishment hope the state's action may prompt a rethinking of the moral and practical implications of the practice in other states.

New Jersey's Democratic-controlled General Assembly voted 44 to 36 on Thursday to repeal the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without parole. The action followed a similar vote by the state Senate on Monday. Gov. Jon S. Corzine, a Democrat and a death penalty opponent, has said he will sign the legislation.

The U.S. Supreme Court has effectively declared a moratorium on executions since it decided to take up in this term the question of whether lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. In recent decisions, the high court has narrowed the use of capital punishment, ruling that it is unconstitutional to execute the mentally retarded or those who committed crimes as juveniles.

Public opinion across the United States still remains solidly in favor of capital punishment, with 62 percent supporting the death penalty for murderers and 32 percent opposed, according to January polling figures from the Pew Research Center in Washington. And in New Jersey, the most recent poll this week, released by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, showed that New Jersey residents oppose abolishing the death penalty 53 percent to 39 percent.

Where there is a discernable shift underway -- and what has partly driven the repeal in New Jersey -- is when residents are offered an alternative; the death penalty, or life in prison without parole. Given the choice, New Jersey residents backed life without parole over the death penalty, 52 percent to 39 percent.

In the end, the most compelling case for New Jersey lawmakers was the economic one. Keeping inmates on death row costs the state $72,602 per year for each prisoner, according to the commission. Inmates kept in the general population cost $40,121 per year each to house. The corrections department estimates that repeal could save the state as much as $1.3 million per inmate over his lifetime -- and that figure does not include the millions spent by public defenders on inmates' appeals
In theory I support the death penalty. I'm of the opinion that anyone that commits particularly heinous acts of murder, kills multiple people, kills children, or kills police officers should be put to death. In fact after a few drinks I'd probably add serial rapists and child molesters to the list. Having said that I also think its important to look at the history of the death penalty and consider the facts that its application presents us. We've executed innocent people, those that can afford better lawyers normally manage to avoid it, and its costlier than life in prison. Given the choice of supporting an irrevocable penalty that is unfair, imperfect, and financially imprudent or abolishing the penalty altogether I'm for scrapping it.

I said that so you'd understand exactly what I meant when I said the following:

Way to go New Jersey.

Interview With Ron Paul at RCP

Over at RCP John Stossel has posted his most recent interview which is of Ron Paul. Here are a few highlights:

What should government do?

Ron Paul: Protect our freedoms. Have a strong national defense. Look at and take care of our borders. Have a sound currency. That was the responsibility of the federal government, not to run our lives and run everything in the economy and extend the interstate-commerce clause and the general-welfare clause to do anything they want to do.

So defense, the military, police forces enforce contracts, and that's about it?

That's it. We would have a court system to enforce contracts, and when people do harm to others, when they take property or injure property, or pollute a neighbor's air, I think there's a role for government to protect our environment through private-property rights.

So keep us safe, enforce contracts, run the courts, pollution rules and otherwise butt out? Leave us alone?

Basically that, which would mean if I'm elected, I should immediately take a pay cut. You know, because I wouldn't have so much to do.

I'm really hoping Ron Paul keeps up enough momentum, money, and media buzz to keep going after the early primary states. Hopefully the longer the better he does the more likely the GOP is to see the folly of its base pandering, morality dictating, fiscally irresponsible ways.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Donklephant Donation Drive

Over at Donklephant Justin Gardner has started his first ever donation drive. The purpose? As Justin put it:

  1. A significant redesign that will look better, have more community features and enable us to offer you more content from sources like news feeds, video feeds and more.
  2. Change our hosting plan so the site is more secure and loads faster.
  3. Hire an admin to keep tabs on the site so we experience virtually no downtime.
  4. Expand the site to include subdomains about technology, business, entertainment and more. This way you can get more of the news that’s important to you all in one place.
So please drop by and join me in hitting Justin's tip jar. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Clinton's Plan B

Looks like Clinton is taking Obama seriously enough to have a back up plan after Iowa.

From the WaPo:

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Hillary Rodham Clinton's backup plan if she falters in Iowa can be summed up in two words: New Hampshire.

Clinton's Democratic team is preparing television ads here criticizing Barack Obama's health care plan and working to build what campaigns call a firewall. If the Obama presidential campaign ignites in Iowa, she wants to be ready to cool him off in a state where her organization is strong and her support has proven durable.

This past weekend, the Clinton campaign already had volunteers going door-to-door with fliers criticizing Obama on health care. Possible TV ads to run against him also have been previewed in the state.

Advisers to the New York senator acknowledge there's been uneasiness as Obama has risen in national and several early state polls, including Iowa and New Hampshire. But they insist their master blueprint emphasizing Clinton's experience, toughness and ability to withstand Republican attacks remains sound.
Clinton advisers believe she can survive a loss there to Edwards, who is running well in Iowa but who has smaller organizations in the other early voting states.

Edwards' campaign, meanwhile, hopes for a repeat of the Howard Dean-Dick Gephardt scuffle in Iowa that resulted in John Kerry's nomination four years ago. The former North Carolina senator is hanging back and hoping Clinton and Obama destroy each other.

Placing second in Iowa to the well-funded, well-organized Obama, the Clinton people acknowledge, could be a much more severe blow.
Clinton has toned down her sharp criticism of Obama, just days after raising questions about his character and accusing him of peddling "false hope." Her advisers say she had needed to set the record straight after absorbing months of criticism from her rivals, but they have since concluded her barrage didn't work.

Even so, Clinton's tongue-lashing of Obama laid the groundwork for a story line her advisers believe will serve her well over time: that little is known about the young Illinois senator, and that his record bears considerably more scrutiny and vetting.

For her part, Clinton has a very different challenge: winning over voters who believe they know her too well.

With her long record in public life, her advisers are searching for ways to cast her as an agent of change in a political environment where voters _ especially Democrats _ say they are eager for a new direction. The campaign has sought to reframe the issue, painting Obama as someone who talks about change while Clinton actually makes it happen.

Looks like Clinton has realized that her recent salvo in the press against Obama failed to have the desired effect so she has opted to ramp up the ground war in New Hampshire against him. The question is will it work? With New Hampshire traditionally being a highly unpredictable primary state the results of her efforts may yield very little. Both Clinton and Obama need to win both Iowa and New Hampshire in order to guarantee a win against Edwards on his home turf. If each of the three top Dem candidates come out of the early primaries with one win apiece we'll be looking at a protracted battle for the nomination the likes of which we haven't seen in a long while.

It is however worth noting that Clinton's plan B shows one thing. That she learns from her mistakes and that is more than I can say for our current leader.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Truth About Hunting

Over at The American Thinker they have a highly interesting interview with Frank Miniter a senior editor of Outdoor Life magazine and also the executive editor of American Hunter magazine who recently wrote The Politically Incorrect Guide to Hunting. In the interview he addresses some of the most common myths about hunting:

Miniter: Many nonhunters think hunters are simply bloodthirsty. I dare any nonhunter who feels that way to go to a hunting club, lodge, or hunting show and meet hunters, or simply to read a hunting magazine. If they do they'll find that hunters care deeply about our natural resources. I'm a bird-watcher, hiker, kayaker, wildlife photographer, and yes, hunter.
Another underlying myth about hunting is that if you don't hunt, eat meat, or wear leather products you are somehow beyond reproach. This myth falls apart when you realize that every farmer-and this goes double for small organic farms-has to control wildlife populations lethally in order to have crops left to harvest. If farmers don't use hunting to control deer, elk, geese, and other wildlife populations then those species propagate to the point and eat their crops. When you step back and look at the big picture you realize wildlife and humans are living in the same ecosystems. We're all competing for the same resources. We have to balance our needs with those of the wildlife around us. This is why farmers need hunters and why even vegetarians owe hunters.

Another myth I hear every time I debate someone who has a negative view of hunting is that hunters only want to kill "trophy" animals. The truth is that hunters today kill more does (female deer) than they do bucks. In fact, many states have "earn-a-buck" programs that force hunters to kill a doe before they can shoot a doe. From a big picture perspective, hunters kill 8-10 million whitetail deer every year in the U.S. There are an estimated 32 million whitetail deer in the U.S. right now (there were only 20 million when Columbus discovered this continent-there are more today because of farms and other habitat changes we've made). As a result, wildlife biologists who work for state wildlife departments see hunters as their best tools for our nation's burgeoning deer populations. Right now there are already 25,000 people injured and 200 people killed every year in deer-auto collisions. What would happen on our roadways and farms if hunters weren't killing those 8-10 million deer per year?

Glazov: Tell us some of the benefits that hunting provides us.

Miniter: Hunters pay the bulk of conservation funding. Hunters pay the Pittman-Robertson taxes of 10% on ammunition, firearms, clothing, and other goods. This tax raises about $150 million annually. This money is sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and then funnelled back to the states where it has to be used for conservation projects. Hikers, mountain bikers, rock climbers, and so on don't pay these taxes. Hunter license fees and other expenditures also fuel conservation, habitat restoration, and even endangered species protection efforts.

Glazov: What effect does hunting have on the environment?

Miniter: Deer, when left unchecked, are a threat to themselves and to every other animal in our fields and forests. When a deer herd grows beyond what its habitat can support deer begin to over browse the habitat. When they do this they eat everything they can reach; as a result, other species begin to disappear. Many species of songbirds, for example, can't live in an over-browsed forest, because they need nesting cover. Other animals, such as rabbits, grouse, woodcock, groundhogs, and turtles, all need vegetation on the ground to survive. This is why the New Jersey Audubon Society recently opened up their lands to hunting. And this is why Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park, where hunting is forbade, is desperate for a way to control its surging population of elk.

Another good example of how hunting helps the environment is happening in Louisiana where the state's Marsh-to-Market Program has been credited with saving millions of acres of wetlands. Here's a synopsis: Landowners are allowed to kill alligators that are over a certain size every year. These gators are taken to state-processing sheds where their meat and skins are sold. The funds raised then go to the landowners and to fund alligator-conservation projects. This program gives landowners an economic incentive not to drain and develop swamplands. There is also an added side benefit: By killing the largest alligators they are also saving human lives. Louisiana has an estimated 1.5 million alligators; Florida has an estimated 1 million alligators; Florida has had over 400 people attacked and 21 killed by alligators since the 1950s; in Louisiana no one has been killed or even attacked in recorded history. This is because Louisiana's program aggressively uses hunting to control its alligator population-hunters in Louisiana kill nearly 10 times as many alligators as hunters are allowed to in Florida.
Miniter touches on a few of the pros of hunting but I think he missed a few of the more important ones. For example back when the GOP ran the show it was only a coalition of hunters and anglers that were able to stop the gutting of the EPA, prevent a massive public lands sell off at bargain basement prices, and stop the the weakening of EPA standards in regards to the clean water act. Simply put when the GOP runs the whole show sportsmen are the last line of environmental defense. Additionally hunting continues to provide much needed dietary and economic relief to rural poor. Simply put every dollar not spent on food enables them to better afford things like clothes, health care, and pay their utilities on time.

During the Great Depression at age 12 my Grandfather used to take two shotgun shells, shoot two rabbits, trade one for two more shells, and feed the family with the other. Of course if he missed one he just traded the one for two more shells.My father began hunting in the Appalachian mountains to supplement his family's diet around the same age and continues hunting 50 years later. He feeds the homeless with his excess through a program called Hunters for the Hungry. I myself began hunting around the same age to supplement my families stores although since I was raised on an organic homestead it was more about self sufficiency than survival.

The long and short of it is that hunting has always been an integral part to humanities success. And if those opposed to hunting would bother to set aside their anti-gun and/or pro-animal bias and check their Darwin's Manual they'd find that not only are we fulfilling our role, given the fact that we have minimized our competition, we are also ensuring the survival of many of the species we in America are preying upon.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Clinton Losing Lead in SC Polls

She's down to within the margin of error against Obama.

From Rasmussen Reports:

New York Senator Hillary Clinton’s lead over Illinois Senator Barack Obama in South Carolina’s Presidential Primary has disappeared. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of the race shows Clinton with 36% of the vote while Obama is the top choice for 34% of the state’s Likely Primary Voters.

... Obama’s showing has improved significantly among black voters. He now attracts 51% of the African-American vote in South Carolina while Clinton picks up just 27%. A month ago, the candidates were even in this important constituency (Obama 46%, Clinton 45%). There is virtually no movement among white voters in the state--Clinton now earns 43% of the white vote, Edwards 22%, and Obama 17%.

In the South Carolina survey, African-Americans constitute 49% of Likely Democratic Primary voters.

The poll also notes that Huckabee is in the lead on the GOP side. Not at all surprising given the state in question. Given that Obama has pulled nearly even with Clinton in all three of the early primary states one might wonder about the secret to his success. I think the electability question is being laid to rest. He's fared well enough in the debates, raised enough funds, and garnered a good enough base that those that originally passively supported other candidates due to fears about Obama's electability (particularly Hillary) have migrated back to his banner.

I think the electability question has given Obama the ability to gain more momentum than other candidates as the race progresses. My working theory is that if he wins Iowa and New Hampshire he'll beat Clinton is SC. However if he loses one it'll be a really close race. After SC the question mark for me is who will Edwards support after he drops out? If Obamania hits a stumbling block that may be the sixty four thousand dollar question and the election decider.

Clinton Campaigner Swiftboated Obama

Looks like a Clinton county chairperson was circulating some of those emails the WaPo mentioned last week.

From TPM Election Central:

A day after the Hillary campaign hit the Obama camp for bullying voters in nasty phone calls, the Hillary crew has just acknowledged that an Iowa county chair volunteering for the campaign passed along the now-notorious email that smears Obama as a Muslim by repeating the false claim that he attended a madrassa as a child.

The Hillary campaign confirms that they are asking the county chair to step down from the campaign.

What Hillary and her campaigners don't realize is that as long as Obama is publicly perceived as taking the high road they are going to have to play chess with him instead of fighting the usual mud slinging war. I think he's realized that he can't beat Hillary toe to toe in a slugfest and is trying to force her to play a more subtle game. If she doesn't adapt her tactics her current strategy will work against her. She'll be perceived as ruthless and mean and given the bias against her that'll dissuade voters that only tacitly support her. Its time for her to fight smart rather than hard otherwise she risks losing more support to Obama and second tier candidates.

San Fransisco Straw Poll Cancelled

Due to too many Ron Paul supporters showing up. Apparently the headline speaker there was stumping for Fred Thompson.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Monday, December 03, 2007

NIE: No Nukes in Iran

A declassified version of the 2006 national intelligence estimate of Iran was released today and according to it Iran has no nuclear weapon program and could not achieve that capability (on its own) before 2010.

From the NY Times:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 — A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen, contradicting judgment two years ago that Tehran was working relentlessly toward building a nuclear bomb.
The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate that represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies, states that Tehran is likely keeping its options open with respect to building a weapon, but that intelligence agencies “do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.”
The new report comes out just over five years after a deeply flawed N.I.E. concluded that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons programs and was determined to restart its nuclear program — an estimate that led to congressional authorization for a military invasion of Iraq, although most of the report’s conclusions turned out to be wrong.
That certainly undermines any argument for military action against Iran in the short term. However it leaves the door open enough for this to be a cause for concern. I say that because if I were an Iranian nationalist hardliner given the fact that America invaded two of my neighbors for supporting terrorism I'd want the capability of deterring the US from invading my country for the same reason. After all if they punished my neighbors for actions they also accuse me of it would be logical to assume I'm next on the list.

Unfortunately I don't think W is going to deal with this on his watch. Like Iraq and Afghanistan he is going to pass that buck onto the President. Fotunately we have a little breathing room in which to allow sanctions and diplomacy to have an effect before we have to seriously start considering any meaningful military action against Iran. Given the fact that 2010 will roll around on the next POTUS' term you should take a really hard look at your preferred candidate's position on dealing with Iran. This weight will fall on their shoulders after all and you need to make sure that their strategy is one you can live with.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Inevitability Denied

According to the latest poll from the DesMoines Register Hillary Clinton is now lagging behind Barack Obama. Amongst GOP contenders Huckabee is the front runner enjoying a 5% lead over Romney. Here are the numbers of the top three contenders for each party:

Obama 28%
Clinton 25%
Edwards 23%

Huckabee 29%
Romney 24%
Giuliani 13%

Considering the results of the recent NH polls it looks like Clinton is going to have to fight for every single vote. Obviously the wonks didn't learn anything from declaring Dean inevitable during the last presidential election. Bad news for wonks. Good news for the American people. Apparently we'll actually have the luxury of choice in the primaries.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Clinton's Support Eroding in NH

Oddly enough it seems to be going to second tier candidates...

From Fox News:

A FOX News poll of likely New Hampshire Democratic voters finds that Clinton has the support of 30 percent followed by Obama at 23 percent. Edwards comes in third with 17 percent, Richardson receives the support of 12 percent. All other candidates receive 3 percent or less.

Although Clinton has a slim advantage in the trial heat, slightly more Democratic primary voters say they would be very or somewhat satisfied if Obama (74 percent satisfied) were the party’s presidential nominee than if Clinton won (69 percent satisfied).

"We seem to be seeing a softening in the Clinton vote everywhere," said Opinion Dynamics CEO John Gorman. "The inevitability of a month ago has been replaced by serious sound thoughts. What’s interesting is that this seems to be not a surge to second place Obama, but reexamination of candidates even farther down the list. Edwards is closer to Obama than Obama to Clinton and Richardson closer to Edwards than Edward to Obama. An Edwards second or a Richardson third might shake things up as much as a Hillary defeat."
Interestingly enough a recent Rasmussen Reports's poll shows the same trend:

In New Hampshire, home to the first-in-the-nation Presidential Primary, Hillary Clinton’s lead over Barack Obama is now measured in single digits.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone poll of the state’s Likely Primary Voters shows Clinton with 33% of the vote while Obama attracts 26%. John Edwards is the top choice for 15% while Bill Richardson earns 9% of the vote. Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich are each preferred by 4%.
So on the off chance that the margin of error goes in Obama's favor that puts him within 1% of Clinton. Given the topsy turvy history of New Hampshire's primaries I'd be sweating if I were Clinton. Because if Obama pulls 1st in either Iowa or New Hampshire he'll dispel fears about his electability in South Carolina making SC a very tight race for Clinton given Edwards home field advantage. So much for Clinton's inevitability. Looks like she'll have to fight to the finish.

h/t to Memeorandum

U.S. Food Banks Going Broke

Apparently tighter inventory controls by retailers, the mortage crisis, stagnant wages, lack of grain surpluses and higher gas prices have combined to create a perfect storm.

From the NY Times:

MANCHESTER, N.H., Nov. 26 — Food banks around the country are reporting critical shortages that have forced them to ration supplies, distribute staples usually reserved for disaster relief and in some instances close.

“It’s one of the most demanding years I’ve seen in my 30 years” in the field, said Catherine D’Amato, president and chief executive of the Greater Boston Food Bank, comparing the situation to the recession of the late 1970s.

Experts attributed the shortages to an unusual combination of factors, including rising demand, a sharp drop in federal supplies of excess farm products, and tighter inventory controls that are leaving supermarkets and other retailers with less food to donate.
“Donations are down, and people who need help is up,” said Liz Carter, executive director of the food bank. “So what are we going to do. We just made the decision that instead of giving people six or seven days worth of food, we’re going to give them three or four days of food, which is a drop in the bucket.”

Ginny Hildebrand, executive director of the Association of Arizona Food Banks, said many pantries were facing similar situations.

At a recent conference for food bank employees, Ms. Hildebrand said, “Everybody was saying the same thing. They’re all hit by an increase in demand, all hit by the impact of the higher costs of food, and all hit by federal reductions. We just don’t have the quantity of products available that we used to.”

Ross Fraser, a spokesman for America’s Second Harvest, which distributes more than two billion pounds of donated food and grocery products annually, said the shortages at food banks were the worst the organization had seen in 26 years.

“Suddenly it’s on everyone’s radar,” Mr. Fraser said. “Food banks are calling us and saying, ‘My God, we have to get food.’”

So this holiday season please take some time to clean out your pantry, pick up a few extra nonperishables, and drop them off at your local food bank or collection center. Thanks.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Last Call

Over at TMV Pete Abel has put in his last call for moderate Republicans and Independents to sign The Letter (full text below). Simply put if you believe that America would benefit from a more moderate Republican party please take the time to sign it by emailing Pete at

December 3, 2007

House Republican Conference
Republican National Committee
Republican Governors Association
Leading GOP Presidential Candidates
National Republican Senatorial Committee

We, the undersigned, are moderate Republican and Independent voters who represent a growing force within the electorate.

Republican candidates will need to increasingly reckon with us in the months and years ahead, as we mobilize for no purpose less dramatic than the rescue of this Party and the refocusing of its platform on the bedrock principles of individual liberty and limited government; lower taxes and free markets; a strong national defense and collaborative foreign policy.

We intend this letter as an encouragement to GOP leaders who (a) embrace the principles outlined above; (b) recognize that the narrow-minded strategies of certain social conservatives have made the Party a shadow of its former self; (c) reject these social conservatives’ alienating approach; and (d) prefer what former U.S. Senator John Danforth has labeled a politics of “reconciliation,” a politics wherein we seek to emphasize what unites rather than what divides us. If you fit in this category, we encourage you to speak up and boldly state your beliefs, without equivocation. And if certain social conservatives attack you for doing so, we will be there to lend our support.

We believe the wise use of taxpayer dollars requires our government to avoid deficits and the enormous and unnecessary burden those deficits will place on future generations.

We believe in personal responsibility, self-reliance, capitalism, and the power of markets – markets that are allowed to operate with the least possible degree of regulation that is necessary to safeguard fair play and equal opportunity.

We believe in prudent actions that advance our national security, grounded in a foreign policy that, quoting former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, is “premised on the understanding that the rest of the world matters to us,” and that thus we should guard “against becoming ensnared in nation-building enterprises and push for policies that engage us with the world community and show, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, ‘a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.’”

We believe in the U.S. Constitution, its checks and balances, and importantly, the protections it affords our citizens such as habeas corpus. We further believe habeas corpus and other fundamental cornerstones of our Republic should be carefully guarded and delicately balanced during both times of peace and times of war, especially during extended, complex, and largely open-ended conflicts like today’s war on terror.

We believe in maximizing personal liberty and minimizing government interference in our private lives, including the lives of pregnant women, terminally ill patients, gays, lesbians, and all other categories of responsible, law-abiding adults. Again quoting Governor Whitman: “The defining feature of the conservative viewpoint is a faith in the ability, and a respect for the right, of individuals to make their own decisions – economic, social, and spiritual – about their lives. The true conservative understands that government’s track record in respecting individual rights is poor when it dictates individual choices. Accordingly, the conservative desires to limit government’s reach as much as possible. Traditional conservatives adhere to the maxim, often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, that government governs best that governs least.”

We further believe that the truest pro-life position is one which allows and encourages the ethical pursuit of all scientific research that holds promise for mitigating diseases that afflict our families and friends.

We believe the education of our young people is critical to our future as a nation and that realistic, fiscally conservative policies should be developed to further advance educational standards, opportunities, and access, from the lowest grades to the highest, from kindergarten through college.

We believe in reasonable policies that will advance the health of our citizens, with an emphasis on children, seniors, and others who are truly in need and cannot otherwise afford health care.

We also believe in reasonable policies that will advance the health of our environment, with careful attention paid to protecting our economic vitality and objective analyses of the pro’s and con’s of alternative energy sources.

In summary, we embrace what management guru Jim Collins – in his bestselling book Built to Last – called the “Genius of the AND.” We believe the GOP and its members can and should be simultaneously pro-choice and pro-life; pro-environment and pro-economy; pro-family and pro-liberty; pro-budget and pro-opportunity; pro-security and pro-Constitution. These beliefs need not be contradictory nor exclusive.

If you are and/or know an incumbent or prospective GOP candidate who shares these beliefs and wants Republicans and Independents to stand united behind him or her, we encourage you to let us know, so we can add you and/or those you know to the roster of leaders we will support with our votes, voices, volunteers, and dollars.

Huckabee Surges in Iowa

Apparently that Chuck Norris endorsement did the trick.

From the LA Times:

DES MOINES — With 34 days remaining, the Republican presidential race in Iowa has broken wide open, as Mike Huckabee surges into contention with the longtime front-runner, Mitt Romney.

Polls show the two former governors running nearly even in Iowa, which will cast the first votes of the 2008 campaign, despite Huckabee's meager resources and the large amounts of time and TV advertising that Romney has lavished on the state. Earlier this month, surveys had Huckabee trailing Romney by double digits.

Huckabee's strong showing, one of the biggest surprises of the presidential race, is threatening the foundation of Romney's candidacy and has shaken up the GOP contest across the country.

On Thursday, Huckabee savored strong reviews for his performance the previous night in the CNN-YouTube debate, at which the former Arkansas governor delivered one-liners, played up his humble roots and proposed abolishing the IRS in favor of a national sales tax.
Looks like the dark horse has finally caught his stride. He had a good debate performance and many considered him to be the winner. Romney on the other hand came off poorly particularly on the torture question where McCain took him to task for his calculated non-answer. Additionally Huckabee has been gaining momentum amongst evangelicals and social conservatives. The question is can Huckabee also pull in enough moderates and independents to have a real shot at getting the nod from the GOP? Frankly I think if he fails get the moderate vote a McCain/Huckabee ticket would be a good plan B since each candidate would bring to the table what the other lacks. That is of course provided we don't see a Huckabee/Norris ticket which is probably only slightly less likely.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Murtha Backs the Surge

Looks like hades is a little frosty today.

From the Pittsburg Post-Gazette:

Murtha finds military progress in trip to Iraq

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. John Murtha today said he saw signs of military progress during a brief trip to Iraq last week, but he warned that Iraqis need to play a larger role in providing their own security and the Bush administration still must develop an exit strategy.

"I think the 'surge' is working," the Democrat said in a videoconference from his Johnstown office, describing the president's decision to commit more than 20,000 additional combat troops this year. But the Iraqis "have got to take care of themselves."

Violence has dropped significantly in recent months, but Mr. Murtha said he was most encouraged by changes in the once-volatile Anbar province, where locals have started working closely with U.S. forces to isolate insurgents linked to Al Qaeda.

He said Iraqis need to duplicate that success at the national level, but the central government in Baghdad is "dysfunctional."

With Murtha's verification of what the administration and others have been saying there is little room for doubt. Now the question is what can be done to light a fire under the Iraqi governments keister and get them to start making real progress? For those running for POTUS that may prove to be the fifty thousand dollar question. And I, for one, will be listening intently to their answers.

Ron Paul's Kucinich Moment?

Last night on CNN's YouTube debate Ron Paul answered the question, "Do you believe in a conspiracy to make a new (North American) union? While his answer wasn't as damning as Kucinich's UFO statements it certainly didn't help Paul out any.

WaPo Swiftboating Obama?

They certainly aren't doing anything to dispel rumors that he's a Muslim. In fact they are propagating them. Case in point:

Foes Use Obama's Muslim Ties to Fuel Rumors About Him

In his speeches and often on the Internet, the part of Sen. Barack Obama's biography that gets the most attention is not his race but his connections to the Muslim world.

Since declaring his candidacy for president in February, Obama, a member of a congregation of the United Church of Christ in Chicago, has had to address assertions that he is a Muslim or that he had received training in Islam in Indonesia, where he lived from ages 6 to 10. While his father was an atheist and his mother did not practice religion, Obama's stepfather did occasionally attend services at a mosque there.

Despite his denials, rumors and e-mails circulating on the Internet continue to allege that Obama (D-Ill.) is a Muslim, a "Muslim plant" in a conspiracy against America, and that, if elected president, he would take the oath of office using a Koran, rather than a Bible, as did Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the only Muslim in Congress, when he was sworn in earlier this year.

As if the title isn't bad enough if you read the whole two page article you'll not that they list every Muslim related rumor against Obama without ever bothering to verify the validity of them. In so doing they lend the assertions passive merit. At best its really shoddy journalism at worst its an attempted hatchet job. Its a sad day for journalism when a major media outlet allows itself to devolve into a half baked partisan blog.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Of Note

Michael J Totten is back in Iraq and blogging from Fallujah.

Over at The Glittering Eye Dave Schuler takes a look at what the Middle East was like prior to Israel.

At Sideways Mencken Michael Reynolds gives his take on the GOP candidates.

Ron Paul Won't Run as an Independent

Last night on the YouTube debate Mr. Paul gave the most concrete answer to date.
"I have no intention of running as an independent."

There is one loophole in that statement though. Would he run as The Constitution Party's candidate?

Featured Post: It's Lonely at the Top

Below is an article from author Helene Beauchemin one of the authors of the book Winning Without Compromising Yourself. In addition to having the author available throughout the day to respond to your comments there is an ongoing contest related to this post. Grand prize winner receives a copy of the book Winning Without Compromising Yourself and other prizes are available.( See rules for details.)

It’s Lonely at the Top: When a Professional Coach Can be of Value

Who do you safely share your doubts and anxieties with when you are at the top of the pyramid? Colleagues? Staff? Family? Friends?

Many leaders have learned to rely on family and a few trusted friends and associates as a safe place to bare their soul as well as explore new possibilities when faced with the huge responsibilities that their positions entail. These relationships are invaluable to the well-being of the leader. However, these same people, because of their caring for you and their knowledge of the demands the position makes on you, often tend to protect you from hard reality and are not always capable of showing you the darker side of your actions or motivations thus not allowing you to grow into the leader you want and need to be in the circumstances. For this reason, more and more senior executives and political leaders are also turning to professional coaches in order to create the safe space that one needs to honestly explore the numerous challenges one is facing.

A coach accompanies you on part of your journey while offering you the opportunity for self-reflection as you go along. In addition to challenging your assumptions, a coach will assist you in addressing the ways those same assumptions influence your actions and self-image. When leaders are challenged or seduced by power, a coach can reflect back to them the important core values that brought them to public life or senior positions in the first place.

Political leaders often have a constellation of experts hovering around them: campaign managers, party loyalists, lobbyists, advisors, “policy wonks,” spin doctors, etc. This same pattern exists at the uppermost echelons of governments, with the added culture of respect for hierarchy and the ingrained awe reserved for players in the senior executive boardroom. While all of these people are usually well-intentioned, their focus – which often has a partisan perspective, is on “protecting their guy” or ideas, or on persuading political leaders to go along with policies that will benefit them. Even in the so called apolitical realm of government bureaucracies, a given program or policy may be defended just as fiercely by its proponents or by the teams that developed the idea in the first place or are ensuring program delivery.

Who do you, as leader, believe in these circumstances?

Over time, it is a well known fact leaders of all stripes, political as well as those working in the corporate and/or not for profit world, become isolated and can begin to believe their own rhetoric, becoming blind to the consequences of their own way of decision making or blind to signals coming from the population or from consumers.

Usefulness of a coach

This is where a coach can be invaluable. A coach does not have the same emotional and personal investment in seeing you keep your current position or adhere to past statements as do the people in your immediate circle of influence. In my own career as a senior government executive and now as a coach, I have often seen how easy it is for political leaders to be misled by those around them. The world of politics is one where the immediate trumps the long term, where people surrounding the leader get to confuse their personal interest and agenda with that of the leader they serve. In this world, loyalty is the most valued currency. Loyalty, however, does not often allow “speaking truth to power”.

This is another benefit of working with a professional coach. A top political coach or executive coach will be totally committed to you and to allowing you to excel. A coach will have the courage to assist you when facing dilemmas and assist you in staying true to your core values. As a coach, my focus is on you, my client, achieving results, while maintaining your integrity and creating the conditions to ensure your long term success as well as having your personal and familial well being in focus.

Copyright 2007 Winning Without Compromising Yourself, All rights reserved.

Helene Beauchemin, PCC
Contributing author to Winning Without Compromising Yourself (2007)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Something New - My First Contest

I've been approached by a publishing company who asked me to assist in promoting one of their books "Winning Without Compromising Yourself"in return I get to post an article by one of their authors andf they'll drop by a couple of times tomorrow to field questions in the comments section AND one lucky reader will win a copy of the book with the first and second runners up winning Dyre Portents T-Shirt or a Dyre Portents coffee mug. (Didn't know they existed? Me either.) additionally everyone who enters receives a free link to their blog or website.

Rules for winning the book, shirt, mug, and linkage:

1: To enter contestants must post a link to tomorrow's featured post on their blog, website, LJ, myspace page etc then post a link to it in the comments thread of the featured post within 48 hours of my posting it.

2: On Friday November 30th all URLs will be placed into a hat and the three winners will be drawn and posted on this blog along with the URLs of all those that didn't win (aka Honorable Mentions).

3: The three winners must then email me and shipping arrangements will be made. Please note that winners of the hat and mug must reside in North America in order to win. The Juncture Company will be handling the shipping of the book so residents outside of North America are eligible.

4: In the event that any of the winners fail to email me within 48 hours a second chance drawing will be held using the list of honorable mentions

5: Sites that promote illegal or pornographic content are ineligible URLs for the purpose of entering the contest.

6: Please direct any and all complaints to

Monday, November 26, 2007

Making Marriage a Private Affair

From the NY Times:

WHY do people — gay or straight — need the state’s permission to marry? For most of Western history, they didn’t, because marriage was a private contract between two families. The parents’ agreement to the match, not the approval of church or state, was what confirmed its validity.

For 16 centuries, Christianity also defined the validity of a marriage on the basis of a couple’s wishes. If two people claimed they had exchanged marital vows — even out alone by the haystack — the Catholic Church accepted that they were validly married.
Not until the 16th century did European states begin to require that marriages be performed under legal auspices. In part, this was an attempt to prevent unions between young adults whose parents opposed their match.

The American colonies officially required marriages to be registered, but until the mid-19th century, state supreme courts routinely ruled that public cohabitation was sufficient evidence of a valid marriage. By the later part of that century, however, the United States began to nullify common-law marriages and exert more control over who was allowed to marry.
Possession of a marriage license is no longer the chief determinant of which obligations a couple must keep, either to their children or to each other. But it still determines which obligations a couple can keep — who gets hospital visitation rights, family leave, health care and survivor’s benefits. This may serve the purpose of some moralists. But it doesn’t serve the public interest of helping individuals meet their care-giving commitments.

Perhaps it’s time to revert to a much older marital tradition. Let churches decide which marriages they deem “licit.” But let couples — gay or straight — decide if they want the legal protections and obligations of a committed relationship.

This article raises a point I made before in regards to the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Who marries who isn't the government's business. That until the latter half of last century it wasn't even the state's business. Giving the number of unwed mothers in the US I'd argue that the standards for what constitutes a valid marriage needs to be greatly relaxed if only to ensure that children produced in less formal relationships are provided the financial support and increased stability that they deserve. As for wiping out legal marriage altogether I'm not entirely convinced its the best course. Based on my previous argument I'd prefer to see the standard relaxed to "provable legal marriage" which could be established after the fact if need be. The ironic thing is that the party that has traditionally supported reduced government meddling in people's private lives would now be the first to oppose such changes on the grounds of religion/family values. As though somehow our great grandparents were less moral than we are today. Gotta love the GOP base's logic.

Taliban Resurgent

From Reuters:

Resurgent Taliban closing in on Kabul: report

The conflict in Afghanistan has reached "crisis proportions," with the resurgent Taliban present in more than half the country and closing in on Kabul, a report said on Wednesday.

If NATO, the lead force operating in Afghanistan, is to have any impact against the insurgency, troop numbers will have to be doubled to at least 80,000, the report said.

"The Taliban has shown itself to be a truly resurgent force," the Senlis Council, an independent think-tank with a permanent presence in Afghanistan, wrote in a study entitled "Stumbling into Chaos: Afghanistan on the brink."

"Its ability to establish a presence throughout the country is now proven beyond doubt," it said. "The insurgency now controls vast swaths of unchallenged territory including rural areas, some district centers, and important road arteries."

Senlis said its research had established that the Taliban, driven out of Afghanistan by the U.S. invasion in late 2001, had rebuilt a permanent presence in 54 percent of the country and was finding it easy to recruit new followers.

It was also increasingly using Iraq-style tactics, such as roadside and suicide bombs, to powerful effect, and had built a stable network of financial support, funding its operations with the proceeds from Afghanistan's booming opium trade.

"It is a sad indictment of the current state of Afghanistan that the question now appears to be not if the Taliban will return to Kabul, but when," the report said.

This proves the point that my original opposition to the war in Iraq was based. Unlike many I thought it was a bad idea from a purely strategic standpoint. First I'm a big believer that you don't start a new task until you have finished the last one. Secondly given Afghanistan's history winning the country has always been harder than keeping it. As a result of our optional involvement in Iraq we have given the Taliban enough breathing room to regroup. Hence we may be forced to choose which war we want to win. Fortunately for W should it come to that he won't be burdened by that decision. That may very well be the job of the next POTUS. And for that reason alone this election may be the most important one in a generation.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thompson Alleges Fox News is Biased Against Him

Fox News? Biased? Say it ain't so! But against a mainstream Republican? That's new.

From The Hill:

Thompson charges Fox News is biased against his campaign
Former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) suggested on Sunday that Fox News is biased against his campaign, charging that the network highlights commentators who have been critical of his run for the presidency.

In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," host Chris Wallace pressed Thompson on how some conservatives have lambasted Thompson's campaign and showed clips of Fox conservative commentators Charles Krauthammer and Fred Barnes criticizing the former senator.
Thompson said, "This has been a constant mantra of Fox, to tell you the truth." He noted that other conservatives have praised his bid for the GOP nomination and took issue with a Fox promo that focused on polling in New Hampshire, where Thompson is registering in the single digits.He said he is running second in national polls and has been leading or tied for the lead in South Carolina for "a long, long time."

Thompson, in a firm, but measured tone, scolded Wallace: "...for you to highlight nothing but the negatives in terms of the polls and then put on your own guys who have been predicting for four months, really, that I couldn't do it, kind of skew things a little bit. There's a lot of other opinion out there."
Frankly I think Thompson is just catching flack for not being the ultimate conservative candidate his pre-announcement supporters made him out to be. Combine that with the lack of energy his campaign has shown and his dropping poll numbers and disappointment turns into ire. Fox on the other hand has reported the facts if only the negative ones. I don't hold Fox to any journalistic standards of fairness but this represents a new low for them. Make no mistake if this type of slanted coverage continues Thompson is done for. It proof positive of how important some vaguely resembling in journalism is even if it is from a partisan point of view.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stem Cell Debate Defused?

From the NY Times:

Two teams of scientists reported yesterday that they had turned human skin cells into what appear to be embryonic stem cells without having to make or destroy an embryo — a feat that could quell the ethical debate troubling the field.

All they had to do, the scientists said, was add four genes. The genes reprogrammed the chromosomes of the skin cells, making the cells into blank slates that should be able to turn into any of the 220 cell types of the human body, be it heart, brain, blood or bone. Until now, the only way to get such human universal cells was to pluck them from a human embryo several days after fertilization, destroying the embryo in the process.

The need to destroy embryos has made stem cell research one of the most divisive issues in American politics, pitting President Bush against prominent Republicans like Nancy Reagan, and patient advocates who hoped that stem cells could cure diseases like Alzheimer’s. The new studies could defuse the issue as a presidential election nears.

I for one am glad to see the ethical ramifications of this laid to rest. I however never saw it in that light. My support for stem research is similar to my support for first trimester abortion. In developed nations 25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage and 33% of all pregnancies in third world nations. To me that means either one of two things either individuality isn't imparted by the divine until after the first trimester or that the creator is capricious and cruel. Given the choice between the two I chose to believe the former. Hence for me this has always been a political issue with the right opposing stem cell research in order to curry favor with its base and the left doing the same. Fortunately for those who have loved ones whose well being seemed to be hanging on the outcome of this debate the passion play may very well be over.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

SCOTUS to Take on 2nd Ammendment

From Scotusblog

After a hiatus of 68 years, the Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to rule on the meaning of the Second Amendment — the hotly contested part of the Constitution that guarantees “a right to keep and bear arms.” Not since 1939 has the Court heard a case directly testing the Amendment’s scope — and there is a debate about whether it actually decided anything in that earlier ruling. In a sense, the Court may well be writing on a clean slate if, in the end, it decides the ultimate question: does the Second Amendment guarantee an individual right to have a gun for private use, or does it only guarantee a collective right to have guns in an organized military force such as a state National Guard unit?

The city of Washington’s appeal (District of Columbia v. Heller, 07-290) seeking to revive its flat ban on private possession of handguns is expected to be heard in March — slightly more than a year after the D.C. Circuit Court ruled that the Second Amendment right is a personal one, at least to have a gun for self-defense in one’s own home.
I for one am highly curious as to how they will rule. The ruling will in essence set a precedent for states since Dc is sort of a state unto itself. Additionally the law only forbids handguns hence it sidesteps the "keep and bear arms" part of the constitution by allowing citizens to own firearms that are normally used for hunting. Furthermore this ruling will be highly telling about the philosophy of the newer appointees. Given how fine this court has split legal hairs in the past it'll be a highly indicator in regards to newer members views of Constitutional vs states rights.

Frankly I'd prefer they shoot it down. I don't like laws that impinge on the rights of a majority for the actions of a minority. DC could have easily required all handgun owners to have licenses or outlawed all handguns under .38 caliber (the cheap ones) both of which would have prevented this legal showdown.

Chuck Norris for Huckabee Ad

Probably the funniest campaign ad this election season so far.

h/t to Donklephant

Ron Paul Tops Thompson in NH GOP Polls

Placing him in fourth place according to a CNN poll. Meanwhile Giuliani and McCain are within the margin of error for second place with Romney solidly in first. Ron Paul's ad blitz is having an effect and Thompson's lack of well anything resembling momentum, excitement, or organization have cost him dearly. I think McCain isn't as much gaining momentum as he is picking up Giuliani defectors as Giuliani has been making it very clear that he'll trade his values for votes. I'm betting after NH we'll see the GOP lineup pared down to the top four. Frankly I'm hoping McCain ends up beating Giuliani and Ron Paul does better than the poll estimates once all the votes are tallied in NH.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Little Perspective

I keep seeing a little ticker on blogs that counts the number of US Servicemen killed in Iraq and I recall thinking about a year ago, "We lost more than that on D Day." Now I've studied enough history to know that troop losses in Iraq are in fact tiny compared to most of the other wars we fought. In fact the current losses in American troops don't equal the losses of certain single battles fought in previous wars. Below are a few examples:

Battle of Shiloh 1754 Union Soldiers killed 1728 Confederate soldiers killed

Battle of Gettysburg 3,155 killed Union Soldiers Killed 4,708 Confederate Soldiers killed

Civil War 110,000 Union Soldiers killed 93,000 Confederate troops killed

World War I 5,525,000 Allied troops killed

Battle of the Bulge 19,276 American Soldiers dead

Battle of Normandy Beach 1,465 American troops dead

WWII 407,300 American soldiers killed

Korean War 36,516 Americans troops killed

Tet Offensive 6,328 Allied Troops Killed

Viet Nam 58,209 American soldiers killed (200,000+ veterans still homeless 30 years later)

Iraq War to Date 3,865 American troops killed

Just food for thought.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Republicans for Obama?

Looks like he's getting up to 15% republican volunteers in some areas of Iowa in addition to placing third in a poll of Iowa caucus goers according to the blog The Iowa Independent.

Obama Touts Republican Crossovers

The campaign for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has been listening as Iowans have gathered in small groups to whisper about the one thing they most worry about: electability. In response to those concerns, the campaign has released a list of 268 Iowa Republicans who will be crossing party lines to caucus with Democrats on Jan. 3, 2008.

"To Iowans, electability means that we need to win this election," said Dale Hedgecoth, one of Linn County for Obama's most out-spoken and active volunteers. "There are some of these other candidates that are carrying too much baggage. We need a cross-over vote from Republicans in this primary and we need independents to come over as well. I believe that will happen at caucus time and, if Barack Obama is the candidate, I believe it will also happen during the general election."

Hedgecoth estimates 15 percent of the people walking into and volunteering at the Linn County for Obama office are Republicans or former Republicans. Electing someone who can represent and find support on both sides of the political spectrum, he said, should go a long way to ending "the political gridlock" of recent years.

Heck, I'm worried about his electability too. But this is part of a trend of Republicans crossing the line to support Obama and that along with the fact that many moderates and male Democrats don't like Clinton may prove to be Obama's best hope of getting the nod. If he can even out his performance in debates and speeches and continue to verbally go toe to toe with Clinton he'll have a decent chance. If not well then he's one of Unity08 picks.

h/t to The Daily Dish

She's Got a Point

Probably one of the best arguments against federal poverty based entitlement programs I've heard in a long while courtesy of Wendy McElroy

I'm all for helping the poor. I just think it should be private, and voluntary.

At this point I usually hear the objection, "But that's not enough! Small scale solutions like that will never solve the problem!"

Today it hit me: why the hell not?

To be more specific: the question should not be how do increase the scope of the (private) solution. It should be, why is the problem so damned big?

Let's face it: if you're living in a society in which anywhere from one-quarter to one-half of the population can't meet their basic needs through their own efforts -- where a half-trillion dollar enterprise is needed to "help the poor" -- then there is something fundamentally wrong with your society; and redistributing wealth, from those who have managed to succeed to those who have not, is avoiding the real problem. Whether the problem is the legions of overpaid bureaucratic parasites, the erosion of savings through inflation, confiscatory taxation, the countless costs of busybody legislation, or all of the above, you need to fix the underlying cause before you can ever really help people.

Put another way: if transfusing a few units of blood doesn't help the patient's condition, you'd better start looking for the bleeding....not look for more blood donors.

I have problems with such programs on a federal level mainly due to the rampant inefficiency of such programs. Similiar programs sponsored by states tend to waste less money (on average) but private charities regularly outperform both. For example the United Way manges to use 90% of its money for its programs. Thats anywhere from twenty to thirty percent more than similar federal programs. And frequently charities have a better turn around time than the federal government. Simply put I just want my money spent wisely and well.

h/t to Pagan Vigil

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

An Evangelical on Torture

Over at The Evangelical Outpost Joe Carter tackles the question, "Who would Jesus waterboard?" His answer? No one.

Who allowed our country to succumb to such fear and moral cowardice that we parse the the meaning and definition of "torture?"

I blame myself, and implicate my fellow Christians. We have remained silent and treated an issue once considered unthinkable--the acceptability of torture--like a concept worthy of honest debate. But there is no room for debate: torture is immoral and should be clearly and forcefully denounced. We continue to shame ourselves and our Creator by refusing to speak out against such outrages to human dignity.


As Christians we must never condone the use of methods that threaten to undermine the inherent dignity of the person created in the image of God. ... There is something clearly repugnant about our unwillingness to distance ourselves from the fear-driven utilitarians willing to embrace the use of torture.

I've wondered "Where is the evangelical outrage?" before and its good to see evidence that there is some. However unlike others I don't believe that there is any type of implicit consent amongst evangelicals towards the use of torture. I am of the opinion that they, probably like many Americans, simply have a hard time believing that those charged with leading and defending this great nation are capable of sinking that low and thus passively choose to write it off as improbable. After all its easier to continue believing in the goodness of America than it is to change one's view and then wrangle the ensuing ramifications. The problem is that in doing so too many are giving passive consent to torture by their silence.

Monday, November 12, 2007

McCain Campaign Bouncing Back?

From Rasmussen Reports:

Election 2008: Clinton vs. McCain & Romney
McCain Leads Clinton By Two While Clinton Tops Romney by Five

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Election 2008 shows Arizona Senator John McCain (R) leading New York Senator Hillary Clinton (D) by just two percentage points, 47% to 45% While the “lead” is statistically insignificant, it’s the first time since May that McCain has had any advantage over Clinton. The election poll also found Clinton leading former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney 47% to 42%. But, Romney is gaining some ground on the Democratic frontrunner. Romney trailed Clinton by six in August.

But given how fluid the Republican nominating contest is proving to be, McCain may have a chance to jump-start his campaign. His strong performance in general-election match-ups with top Democrats may help. McCain is virtually tied with Senator Barack Obama and trails former Senator John Edwards by a modest amount. At the moment, McCain polls better against Clinton than either Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson.

Given the fact that Fred Thompson has fizzled, Romney is seen by many as a flip flopper, Giuliani is increasing moving to the authoritarian right, and Clinton is the single most polarizing figure in office outside of W himself McCain might prove the old adage "slow and steady wins the race" true if current trends hold. Heck, given the choice between Giuliani, Clinton, and McCain I'd pick McCain any day of the week.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

W's First Veto Override

From the NY Times:

Senate Overrides Bush Veto on Water Bill

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush suffered the first veto override of his seven-year-old presidency Thursday as the Senate enacted a $23 billion water resources bill despite his protest that it was filled with unnecessary projects.

The 79-14 vote included 34 Republicans who defied the president. Enactment was a foregone conclusion, but it still marked a milestone for a president who spent his first six years with a much friendlier Congress controlled by his Republican Party.

Now he confronts a more hostile, Democratic-controlled legislature, and Thursday's vote showed that most of the Republicans will defy him on spending matters dear to their political careers.

Bush's spokeswoman portrayed the issue as a divide between a budget-conscious president and a big-spending Congress.


The bill funds hundreds of Army Corps of Engineers projects, such as dams, sewage plants and beach restoration, that are important to local communities and their representatives. It also includes money for the hurricane-hit Gulf Coast and for Florida Everglades restoration efforts.

The House voted 361-54 to override the veto Tuesday. Both votes easily exceeded the two-thirds majority needed in each chamber to negate a presidential veto.


The bill, the first water system restoration and flood control authorization passed by Congress since 2000, would cost $11.2 billion over the next four years, and $12 billion in the 10 years after that, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Flood protection projects along the Gulf Coast, including 100-year levee protection in New Orleans, would cost about $7 billion if fully funded. The bill approves projects but does not fund them.

The bill would authorize the construction of navigation improvements for the Upper Mississippi River, at an estimated federal cost of $1.9 billion, and an ecosystem restoration project for the Upper Mississippi costing $1.7 billion.

The Indian River Lagoon project in the Florida Everglades would be funded at about $700 million.

The bill calls for an independent peer review process of all Army Corps projects costing $45 million or more, a bid to cut down on wasteful spending.

The bill also green lights several projects in Texas

Dallas Floodway, if the project is deemed feasible and environmentally sound, $298 million federal money; $161 million nonfederal money.

_Corpus Christi Ship Channel dredging, $88 million federal; $100 million nonfederal.

_Johnson Creek flood project in Arlington, $52 million federal, $28 million nonfederal.

_Gulf Intracoastal Waterway dredging, $17.3 million federal funds for area from Brazos River to Port O'Connor; $14.5 million for area from Sabine River to Corpus Christi.

_Sale of 900 acres by Army Corps of Engineers of Lake Texoma in Denison.

_Study of Onion Creek, Austin flood project.

_University of Dallas, $5 million for transboundary water resource management in the southwestern U.S. research.

Its funny time for W to start trying to appear to be a fiscal conservative. The sad part is what does it say about our leaders when the only things they can agree on are pork laden bills and giving themselves raises? Pork may be a fact of political life but I'm of the opinion that our elected leaders should only get the same percentage based cost of living increase given to those on social security. After all thats only fair, right?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pat Robertson Endorses Giuliani

Somewhere right now John McCain is laughing. McCain got Brownback's endorsement and Giuliani gets this....

From the WaPo:

Pat Robertson Endorses Rudy:
Deems Him 'More Than Acceptable to People of Faith'

Pat Robertson, one of the most influential figures in the social conservative movement, announced his support for Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid this morning at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Robertson's support was coveted by several of the leading Republican candidates and provides Giuliani with a major boost as the former New York City mayor seeks to convince social conservatives that, despite his positions supporting abortion rights and gay rights, he is an acceptable choice as the GOP nominee....

Good news for Giuliani? Well having a supporter that can move hurricanes with his mind is always a good thing. However given Robertson's previous comments about the US deserving 9/11 many independents might start looking for another candidate. Over at The Carpetbagger Report Steve Bennen notes the following:

Robertson, even in religious right circles, is considered something of a clown. He has a cult following that keeps the Christian Broadcasting Network afloat, but Robertson’s Christian Coalition has practically been driven out of business, and other leading evangelicals are embarrassed to be seen with him. You’ll notice, for example, that at last month’s “Values Voter Summit,” the largest gathering of the year for the movement, Robertson wasn’t invited and played no role whatsoever.
I'm inclined to think that the votes of CBN viewers aren't going to outweigh the number of moderates and independents that this endorsement will cost him. The more I see of Rudy, the more I think he is the greater evil.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

California Electoral Votes Imperiled Again?

If you can't beat 'em then sneak in referendum so that you can...

From the AP:

Effort to apportion California's electoral votes raises $540,000
SACRAMENTO—Republican donors have given about $540,000 to help qualify a ballot measure that could give the 2008 GOP presidential candidate a bounty of electoral votes from California.

The group needs to gather about 650,000 valid signatures by the end of the month to qualify the measure for the June ballot. That effort will take at least $2 million, according to David Gilliard, who is managing the campaign.

Gilliard said the campaign has less because it has been raising money for just 10 days.

"A lot of the people on there are capable of contributing quite a bit more," he said. "They're also the types that are able to attract others."

Darrell Issa, a wealthy Republican congressman from the San Diego area, gave $50,000, according to the fundraising report filed Tuesday with the secretary of state's office.

Floyd Kvamme, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who is supporting Rudy Giuliani for president, also gave $50,000. Jerrold Perenchio, the former head of Univision, gave the same amount.

Currently, California gives all 55 of its Electoral College votes to the statewide winner in the presidential race.

The proposal would change that so the statewide winner received two electoral votes and the rest were apportioned to the winner of each of the state's 53 congressional districts.

Odds are they'll shoot to get this on the ballot by primary day so that low voter turnout will play a huge factor in its passing, Then all they have to do is whip the GOP core in the state into a frenzy and presto the Dems are screwed. Its already been tried and shot down a few mos ago. So the odds are it'll fail again. Speaking as someone that lives in a die hard red state I'd love to see all states adopt this system as I'd actually like for my vote to count on the years I vote for Dem. Presidential candidates. Plus there's the fact that such a system would allow for the creation of viable third parties. And thats a win win situation for us all.

h/t to TMV