Thursday, January 31, 2008

Texas Governor Rick Perry to Endorse McCain

First California's governor now Texas'...

From the Dallas Morning News:

LOS ANGELES – Texas Gov. Rick Perry will endorse John McCain for president, saying he is the best candidate in the GOP field to fight the war on terror.

The Texas governor's first choice, Rudy Giuliani, dropped out of the presidential sweepstakes and on Wednesday endorsed Mr. McCain.

"For the governor, it came down to a very simple calculation: The single dominant issue is the war on terror," said Perry spokesman Robert Black. "And he believes, looking at the field, the single best individual to be commander in chief and not flinch in this war is John McCain."

The endorsement from the red-state governor comes just days before the Super Tuesday primary in which 21 states will weigh in. Mr. Perry will formally make his endorsement Thursday afternoon in Austin.

Getting endorsements from the governors from the two most populous states in the nation back to McCain lost a lot of points in border states by appearing weak on illegal immigration. However previous Texas polls put McCain ahead of Romney by a two to one margin with Huckabee actually being in the lead. With Giuliani dropping out and endorsing McCain in theory that should put McCain in position to rake in a ton of delegates come March fourth.

The Govenator Endorses McCain

That puts McCain up on Huckabee by one in the action movie hero primaries.

From Bloomberg News:

Schwarzenegger Calls McCain a `Hero' in Endorsement

By Hans Nichols

Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed John McCain's bid for the Republican presidential nomination five days before the state's delegate- rich primary, calling him an ``American hero'' who is unafraid to work on bipartisan solutions.

``I am endorsing Senator McCain to be the next president of the United States, because I am interested in a great future'' for the country, Schwarzenegger said after the two men toured a solar roofing manufacturer in Los Angeles. McCain has shown ``over and over again'' that he will reach ``across the aisle in order to get things done,'' the governor said.

The endorsement is a reversal of a vow made by the governor earlier this month to stay neutral in the race.

Unfortunately for Huckabee, Ahnold actually holds apublic office and that means theat Huckabee will have to earn the backing of Bruce Willis and Steven Seagal to stay competitive. That is unless McCain also wins the endorsement Jean-Claude Van Damme which would offset his Rambo endorsement.

More on the action movie hero primaries as it develops.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

McCain Routs Romney in Florida

John McCain beat Mitt Romney by five percent in the Florida primary. Not the widest of margins but enough for McCain to continue forward momentum. Mike Huckabee despite having not won a primary since Iowa has said he'll stay in the race. That means he'll continue to act as spoiler continuing to deny Romney the Evangelical vote he needs to best McCain. Additionally Rudy Giuliani is allegedly dropping out of the race and endorsing McCain further strengthening McCain position going into Super Tuesday.

Looks like Mitt Romney is going to get tag teamed on Tsunami Tuesday.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Kennedys Pass the Torch

To Barack Obama

First Caroline Kennedy:

My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.

We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960.

And now Teddy Kennedy:

"When John Kennedy thought of going to the moon, he didn't say no, it was too far, maybe we couldn't get there and shouldn't even try," he said.

"I am convinced we can reach our goals only if we are not petty when our cause is so great -- only if we find a way past the stale ideas and stalemate of our times -- only if we replace the politics of fear with the politics of hope -- and only if we have the courage to choose change.

"Barack Obama is the one person running for president who can bring us that change. Barack Obama is the one person running for president who can be that change."
When you put both endorsements together they are huge symbolically. But I think that both backed Obama for different reasons. Aside from thumbing their nose at the Clinton wing of the party that is. Whereas Caroline Kennedy sees someone that can inspire and unite Teddy Kennedy also sees someone who harness substantive thought, hard work, and even compromise in order to help as many people as possible. As Kevin Sullivan puts it someone like him
In Obama, Kennedy no doubt sees the inspirational rhetoric and youthful energy of his brothers. But more importantly, Obama possesses a message that matches up to his own legislative record. A candidate who would govern the executive branch with a deliberative philosophy, Obama doesn’t resemble the lofty–and sadly, mostly unrealized–ambitions of Jack and Bobby, but rather, the more grounded and gritty ambitions held by Teddy himself. After eight years of what has been dubbed the “imperial presidency,” Barack Obama’s message of change, unity and progress obviously resonates with a legislator who has spent years clawing and compromising for bills he believed in.
Simply put Obama is left of center but he's smart, tactful, and pragmatic enough to know when to compromise in order to get at least get what results are possible done. So whereas Bill Clinton compromised because he had no choice (usually after a knock down drag out bout of mud slinging) Obama seems more likely to compromise to preserve good will and then try to get the rest through later. So rather then the continual partisan fighting of the Clinton era we'd be more likely to see constant give and take

Of course that strategy has its own difficulties. Because while Republican law makers have no choice but to compromise when they're in the minority many Dems resisting the move to post partisan politics. After all for many partisan warfare is all the know. However I'm also fairly certain that they'll wait until after Obama's approval rate slips below fifty percent. After all politician's don't eat their own until they can no longer ride their coat tails to reelection.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Things I Have Learned

Lectric shave works really well. But I'm not ready to smell like Grandpa.

"Rambo" Endorses McCain

Apparently there's some sort of action movie star primary going on too. First Chuck Norris endorses Huckabee and now this:

Now all we have to wait for is Bruce Willis to endorse somebody and this "primary" will be over. I'd include Ahnold but since he currently holds a political office of real import his endorsement might actually carry some weight.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Kucinich Quits the Campaign

Apparently the mothership told him it was time to bail.

From the AP:

Democrat Dennis Kucinich is abandoning his second, long-shot bid for the White House as he faces a tough fight to hold onto his other job — U.S. congressman.

In an interview with Cleveland's Plain Dealer, the six-term House member said he was quitting the race and would make a formal announcement on Friday.

"I will be announcing that I'm transitioning out of the presidential campaign," Kucinich said. "I'm making that announcement tomorrow about a new direction."

Kucinich has received little support in his presidential bid; he got 1 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary and was shut out in the Iowa caucuses. He did have a devoted following.

Kucinich, 61, is facing four challengers in the Democratic congressional primary March 4, and earlier this week he made an urgent appeal on his Web site for funds for his re-election. Rival Joe Cimperman has been critical of Kucinich for focusing too much time outside of his district while campaigning for president.

Not an unexpected turn of events. He was essentially the left's equivalent of Ron Paul (but he made less sense). While I didn't agree with any of his positions I have to admit that his absence at debates will be noticed. After all you never knew what he was going to say next.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ron Paul Vs Giuliani? Paul Wins.

File this one under "Whodathunkit?"

From The Politico:

Ron Paul continues to best Giuliani

Ron Paul, the Texas congressman frequently dismissed as a long shot candidate with no real chance at winning the Republican presidential nomination, has won nearly twice as many total votes to date as Rudy Giuliani, a candidate still widely viewed as a strong contender.

With his second place finish in Saturday’s Nevada caucus, where Paul defeated Giuliani in every county in the state, the Texas congressman has now received 106,414 votes to 60,220 for Giuliani. Both candidates have collected zero actual delegates.
Literally if you had bet me four months ago that Ron Paul would beat then pundit predicted front runner Rudy Giuliani in every one of the races prior to Florida I'd have taken that bet and then asked you what you were smoking. Looking at it now I think it goes to show exactly how much strength Paul's message has with people and that Rudy's strategy was a total gamble. Frankly I hope Paul beats Giuliani in Florida too. That would shut down Rudy's campaign and possibly enable McCain to win on Tsunami Tuesday and still give Paul's campaign enough impetus to continue onward.

As predicted Paul isn't going to win the nomination. But I think its important for Paul's ideals to to receive as large a forum as possible. However given the recent brouhaha over his old newsletter I don't see him running past Tsunami Tuesday. He can't run on a third party ticket without excerpts from his newsletter being thrown in his face continually. So while I applaud him for reengaging disaffected voters and spreading libertarian ideas I think Feb. fifth is the perfect time to separate the message from messenger.

McCain Leading in Florida Polls

But only within the margin of error. According to recent poll by the St. Petersburg Times Romney and McCain are now statistically tied after Thompson exited the race. Apparently two out of the seven percent of Thompson supporters went McCain's way. Why? I've given this a lot of thought and I am convinced that there is only one possible explanation for their defecting to McCain.

They just really dig geezers.

In truth I think it has to do with authenticity. Because whether or not you love or hate Thompson you have to admit that he is what he is. The same can be said for McCain. So while Romney picked up the three percent of Reagan loving conservatives that want to back a potential winner that isn't John McCain. McCain picked up the two percent of supporters that want a leader rather than a politician. End result? A tie. However with Giuliani and Huckabee tied for third place at fifteen percent all McCain has to do is siphon off enough Rudy supporters to eke out a win. And that's actually a possibility.

Man, its election years like this that make blogging fun.

Quote of the Day

Normally I don't do this type of thing but this one made me laugh. Byron York of the NRO took a Republican friend to see Obama speak in SC and his friend had the following to say afterwards:

“Oh, s—t.We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

I don't agree with many of Obama's positions but I can't fault him on his speaking ability. Give him a big enough forum to be heard in and he could possibly sway enough hearts and minds to win.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fred Thompson Tucks His Tail

Pardon the inflammatory title. Sometimes in the quest for alliteration sacrifices must be made.

Fred Thompson bowed out of the race for the GOP nomination today.

From The AP:

NAPLES, Fla. (AP) - Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson quit the Republican presidential race on Tuesday, after a string of poor finishes in early primary and caucus states.

"Today, I have withdrawn my candidacy for president of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort," Thompson said in a statement.

Thompson's fate was sealed last Saturday in the South Carolina primary, when he finished third in a state that he had said he needed to win.

In the statement, Thompson did not say whether he would endorse any of his former rivals. He was one of a handful of members of Congress who supported Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2000 in his unsuccessful race against George W. Bush for the party nomination.

Additionally the unofficial word is that Thompson is not planning on endorsing anyone. Fox News' Carl Cameron believes that he is not doing so in order potentially secure a VP slot. I have to admit that a Romney/Thompson ticket would definitely help Romney once Huckabee drops out after Tsunami Tuesday. However Thompson's decision to exit prior to Florida puts John McCain in a real bind as Thompson's supporters are much more likely to back Romney than him. Additionally this will be the first time McCain has faced Giuliani in a state that Rudy has been actively campaigning in. Since they will both be competing for similar voters Thompson bowing out seriously works in Romney's favor.

Personally I never saw Thompson's appeal. A long time political insider, lawyer, and former lobbyist seemed to me like the last thing we needed for president. While I could agree with half of his positions on the issues he wasn't really bringing anything new to the table. He is an old school conservative who appeals to core GOP supporters. I never saw him as anything but a promogulater of policies past at best or a candidate that people projected their own positions on (ala Wesley Clark) at worst. Ultimately his absence's effect may prove to be more interesting than his campaign.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mike "Mitt-Killer" Huckabee?

Over at The Politico Jonathan Martin posits that Huckabee is running for VP and is in fact running interference for McCain by intentionally locking up the Social Conservative vote.

From The Politico:

COLUMBIA, S.C. — For people reading between the lines, Mike Huckabee’s concession speech here Saturday night dropped some enticing hints that his presidential campaign now has an agenda other than getting elected president.

Huckabee’s new role: Mitt killer.

The former Arkansas governor threw air kisses on primary night to winner John McCain, praising him for “running a civil and a good and a decent campaign.”

He also signaled clearly that he is staying in the race, despite losing three straight states. Exit polls in South Carolina indicated — as they had in the previous three contests — that Huckabee did virtually nil with voters beyond his base of conservative evangelicals, raising doubts that he has a plausible path to the GOP nomination.

But as long as Huckabee is campaigning vigorously, he is likely to draw a sizable bloc of social conservatives — and deny former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney the direct one-on-one contest he is hoping for against McCain.

Now that the race is headed to a critical showdown in Florida, Huckabee is well-positioned to play the same spoiler role that Thompson did in South Carolina. Only registered Republicans can participate in Florida — no independents, who gave McCain a boost in New Hampshire and South Carolina. These rules give more leverage to social conservatives, who are unlikely to back Rudy Giuliani under any circumstances but might be enticed into backing Romney if they had no Huckabee alternative.
It almost sounds like a wonk's conspiracy theory except for the fact that it does make a certain amount of sense. This is McCain's lat chance at the presidency and the GOP base isn't fond of him. But if he gets the nomination and Hillary wins the Dem nomination the base will rally to him just to keep her out of office. Huckabee in return gets either the VP slot or a cabinet post and is in a better position to run again in 2012 or 2016. Even if McCain loses the race Huckabee walks away with increased name recognition and at the very least an excellent shot at a senate seat in 2010 which in turn puts him in a position to run again once McCain is out of office. If this scenario proves to be true you have to give Huckabee major points for shrewdness.

Assuming Huckabee is running to be VP. McCain is the most logical choice. If he backs Rudy Giuliani he loses his authenticity with the base. Romney on the other hand is a Mormon and to many a flip flopper on social issues. Comparatively McCain is at least consistent on his issues and a "regular Christian". Hence by backing McCain Huckabee preserves his authenticity. What remains to be seen is whether or not what may be Huckabee's plan B proves true is whether or not he withdraws after losing Florida. If he continues after then he may prove to be enough of a spoiler on Super Tuesday to put McCain over the top on delegates. If that proves to be the case it'll show what level of politics Huckabee is capable of playing at and exactly just how desperate McCain is to be president.

Sayonara Central Sanity

One of the blogs I occassionally contribute Central Sanity is closing its doors. I had this to say by way of a farewell post.

I was a reader here long before I ever started posting. I really came to appreciate how the authors on this blog were able to cut to the chase and say in a few paragraphs what it took other bloggers an essay to say. Hence when I was asked to contribute here I jumped at the chance. Central Sanity, I think, became a blogger's blog. So while it never had the readership of The Moderate Voice it became a place that many bloggers visited to test the metal of their opinions. So while some of the authors here have stopped contributing due to real life a number of authors here have moved on to bigger and more influential blogs in the centrosphere.

So ultimately what made Central Sanity great also in part lead to the circumstances that are causing it close. Central Sanity has effectively acted as a springboard to many of its contributors....
So while on one hand I'm sorry to see a good blog go. I'm glad to see the authors of it sharing their points of view with a larger audience. In the end Central Sanity may ultimately end up "Supporting the rebellion of reasonable people in an unreasonable world." just not in the way it intended.

TMV Donation Drive

The Moderate Voice is currently running a donation drive to help stabilize and develop the site. Please drop and hit the tip jar and help support a great site. I've already put my money where my mouth is. Thanks.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Things I Have Learned

Tequila and full moons don't mix. Under any circumstances. Ever.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Monkeys Can't Sue? Who Knew?

Everybody but PETA apparently.

From the San Antonio Express News:

Court: Monkeys, chimps can't sue

The 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio has rebuffed efforts by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to gain legal standing for chimpanzees and monkeys that were brought to San Antonio's Primarily Primates sanctuary in 2006.

The appeals court Wednesday affirmed a decision by District Judge Andy Mireles, who dismissed the case in September 2006, saying the nine animals and two human plaintiffs didn't have a legal right to sue.

The animals came to Texas from Ohio State University with $324,000 that the university pledged for their care. PETA charged the sanctuary was substandard and wanted the animals and money moved to another sanctuary.

A later legal action by the Texas attorney general put the sanctuary into receivership for six months, during which time most of the animals involved in the suit were taken to Chimp Haven sanctuary in Louisiana. Primarily Primates now is suing to force their return.

PETA said it was evaluating whether to appeal the latest ruling. It issued a prepared response noting the findings of the court receiver.

In general I don't blog about PETA because I don't think they need any publicity from me. The right wing noise machine gives them all the free press they need in my opinion. I'm also of the opinion that if they'd stop talking about their every court case and publicity stunt PETA would slowly fade away. (Of course I also believe the same thing holds true for Al Franken and Michael Moore.) But PETA hasn't monkeyed around in my back yard since I've been blogging.

However one thing about this whole mess remains unclear. If lower life forms can't sue what are we going to do about all of the unemployed civil trial lawyers?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Now Ad Free

I've scrapped all of the ads on this blog. I didn't start blogging with the hopes of making a money. This blog was originally created for the sole purpose of venting my political views and frustrations. However I had forty bucks accrued in ads from a site I used to run and I wanted to eventually cash out so I put ads on the site. Having achieved that end the ads are history. Simply put the fact that I have proven Paul Burka's theory that "In the blogosphere everyone is famous to fifteen people." wrong, that many of my readers are bloggers that I consider superior to myself, that bloggers whose opinions I respect link here unsolicited, and finally that I continue to be invited to post on blogs that I consider "must reads" is all the payment I need.

To each and every one of those mentioned above and to all of my readers please consider this a token of my appreciation. Thanks to each and every one of you.



Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Please Sir Can I Have Some More?

Imagine the President of the United States of America, with hat in hand, begging the leader of a third world country for anything. Today George W Bush did just that.

From ABC News:

Bush Asks Saudi King to Open Oil Spigots
Makes Personal Appeal After Public Rejection

One hour after his plea for more Saudi oil was publicly rejected by the kingdom's oil minister, President Bush made a private visit to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah to again ask him to open the spigots.

The White House revealed Bush's private meeting with the Saudi monarch to reporters aboard Air Force One as the president flew to Egypt on the next leg of his Mideast trip.


Earlier Tuesday, Bush made his case for having OPEC, and particularly American ally Saudi Arabia, increase oil production as the price of gas hovers around $3 a gallon.

The Saudi oil minister, however, waited only a short time before announcing that oil prices would remain tied to market forces — a direct slap at Bush.

The president went over the head of the oil minister and made his case to King Abdullah and White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said the private conversation may have yielded some daylight in the Saudis' hard-line stance.

"The king says that he understands the situation. He's worried about high oil prices and how they can negatively affect economies around the world," Perino said aboard the presidential jetliner. "The president said there's a hope that as a result of these conversations that OPEC would be encouraged to authorize an increase in production … to help deal with the tight supply problems in this time when we have growing economies across the world, especially in China."

Simply put OPEC isn't going to increase supply until high prices drive down demand enough so that they start losing money. And they'll keep playing that game until we actually knuckle down and start moving towards true energy diversity/independence. Until that happens president after president will have to beg for more oil. Until we elect leaders that will do more than subsidize corn farmers and promote the agenda of lobbyists (for example the nuclear power companies or coal companies) this problem isn't going to get solved anytime soon.

We need leaders that understand the connection between oil consumption and terrorism (and/or global warming). That means electing leaders on a federal, state, and city level that will promote public transportation, increased energy efficiency, renewable energy (particularly switchgrass based ethanol), and eschew money from lobbyists. Where will find such leaders? I'm not sure. But we can start by voting for those that we believe are both pragmatic and principled and work our way from there.

Of course until that happens we could actually opt to bite the bullet and conserve.

h/t to Done With Mirrors

**Note** I originally screwed up and typed W's dad's name when I posted. I suck at both names and typing.

Huckabee Shows His True Colors

Looks like he's shed his populist image for a more comfortable Christianist one.

From Raw Story:

The United States Constitution never uses the word "God" or makes mention of any religion, drawing its sole authority from "We the People." However, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee thinks it's time to put an end to that.

"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution," Huckabee told a Michigan audience on Monday. "But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view."

Of course the odds of him being elected POTUS and then getting such an agenda past a Democrat controlled House and Senate are infinitesimal.

Meanwhile over at Donklephant Justin Gardner
declares Huckabee done for. I beg to differ. Given the possibility of Clinton being the GOP nominee there is a very real chance that Huckabee manages to cement a VP slot in order to garner the evangelical vote for Romney or McCain in a race against Clinton. McCain has no stock with evangelicals and many distrust Romney due to his Mormon faith. Additionally on the off chance that Giuliani's late primary strategy pays off he'll also need the evangelicals to have a chance of securing a win against Clinton. That means he'll need Huckabee too.

Love or hate Huckabee you have to appreciate him for being shrewd enough to come up with with an excellent plan B.

Fill in the blank and Huckabee in 08 anyone?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mitt Mauls McCain in Michigan

Romney pulls in 39% of the vote compared to McCain's 30%

From the NY Times:

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who ran as a son of Michigan though he left the state nearly 40 years ago, won a commanding victory Tuesday in the Republican primary here with a message aimed at voters deeply anxious about the state’s ailing economy.

Mr. Romney defeated his principal rival, Senator John McCain of Arizona, by winning a clear plurality of Republicans and conservatives, who turned out in greater numbers than they had in the 2000 primary, which Mr. McCain won.


With 97 percent of the electoral precincts reporting, Mr. Romney had 39 percent of the vote, compared with 30 percent for Mr. McCain and 16 percent for Mr. Huckabee. Ron Paul, the antiwar congressman from Texas, came in fourth with 6 percent of the vote.

Mr. Romney’s victory here means three different Republican candidates have won each of the first three major contests. The race moves to South Carolina and Nevada this weekend with no clear front-runner and two credible candidates, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, and former Senator Fred D. Thompson of Tennessee, yet to seriously contest a state.

Katon Dawson, the Republican chairman in South Carolina, declared the race for the party’s nomination wide open.

With Romney winning his first serious victory its looking like there will be no clear GOP front runner going into Super Tuesday. I don't see Romney winning any of the primaries prior to then. I think SC will be a toss up between McCain and Huckabee and Romney is polling fourth in NV. That means that no candidate will have any perceived momentum prior to Super Tuesday. That suggests that those primary wins may well be split along regional (and religious) lines. That scenario ultimately would lead to the thing Captain Ed says the GOp fear most. A brokered convention.

McCain and Romney in 08 anyone?

Monday, January 14, 2008

US Government to Monitor All of Cyberspace?

For our security of course.

From the Wall Street Journal

Spychief Mike McConnell is drafting a plan to protect America’s cyberspace that will raise privacy issues and make the current debate over surveillance law look like “a walk in the park,” McConnell tells The New Yorker in the issue set to hit newsstands Monday. “This is going to be a goat rope on the Hill. My prediction is that we’re going to screw around with this until something horrendous happens.”

At issue, McConnell acknowledges, is that in order to accomplish his plan, the government must have the ability to read all the information crossing the Internet in the United States in order to protect it from abuse. Congressional aides tell The Journal that they, too, are also anticipating a fight over civil liberties that will rival the battles over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Ok, blatantly obvious privacy concerns aside I see this creating a slippery slope. By that I mean how long until this technology goes from being used to protect us from being used to protect us from ourselves? Eventually someone is going to wonder if its possible to use this to protect children by tracking or blocking visitors to kiddie porn sites. Then some administration down the road decides to do the same with sites that depict the denigration of women. Then another decides to do the same with hate speech and another cruelty to animals and so on and so on until eventually we're behind the equivalent of a moral Great Firewall of China.

To me that is the problem with such broad ranging surveillance initiatives. It's not always the government of today one needs to fear, it's the unforeseen administrations of tomorrow.

Plus there is always the chance that any such security initiative will be rendered obsolete by a sixteen year old kid in Micronesia a week after it's rolled out.

h/t to Donklephant

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Things I Have Learned

Never allow a pregnant and nesting woman into a facility that adopts out animals.

What's Bloomberg Waiting For?

I think I've figured it out. Simply put he's waiting to see who the nominees are. By that I mean that his candidacy wouldn't have the same traction in an Obama vs McCain race as it would in a Clinton vs Romney or Giuliani race.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Case Against Ethanol

I've long been an opponent of ethanol as a viable source of alternative energy for America. At best it's a short sighted and inefficient attempt at energy independence at worst its just another way to subsidize corn. Over at Scientific American the recently published an article showing the results of a five year study on switchgrass and found that acre per acre it produces over twenty one times more energy than ethanol.

But yields from a grass that only needs to be planted once would deliver an average of 13.1 megajoules of energy as ethanol for every megajoule of petroleum consumed—in the form of nitrogen fertilizers or diesel for tractors—growing them. "It's a prediction because right now there are no biorefineries built that handle cellulosic material" like that which switchgrass provides, Vogel notes. "We're pretty confident the ethanol yield is pretty close." This means that switchgrass ethanol delivers 540 percent of the energy used to produce it, compared with just roughly 25 percent more energy returned by corn-based ethanol according to the most optimistic studies.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is partially funding the construction of six such cellulosic biorefineries, estimated to cost a total of $1.2 billion. The first to be built will be the Range Fuels Biorefinery in Soperton, Ga., which will process wood waste from the timber industry into biofuels and chemicals. The DOE is providing an initial $50 million to start construction.

"Cost competitive, energy responsible cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass or from forestry waste like sawdust and wood chips requires a more complex refining process but it's worth the investment," Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said at the Range Fuels facility groundbreaking in November. "Cellulosic ethanol contains more net energy and emits significantly fewer greenhouse gases than ethanol made from corn."

Additionally switchgrass can be grown on land that is of marginal use to farmers meaning that farming it won't raise the price of food the same way diverting corn to ethanol production has.
There is bound to be resistance to the loss of corn subsidies to be sure. However those lawmakers that do resist are most likely much more interested in staying in office (by securing pork/subsidies) than they are in solving problems. Hence those are exactly the type of lawmakers we can do without.

H/T to The Glittering Eye

Word of the Day

Overbearing pride or presumption.

For example:

"If you have a social need, you're with Hillary. If you want Obama to be your imaginary hip black friend and you're young and you have no social needs, then he's cool," - a "Clinton adviser" to Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland.

Also Appearing at

The inestimable MVDG has asked me to contribute at The PoliGazette. Since I am always looking for new people to annoy I of course accepted. So please drop by and see whats going on there. Its a good blog despite the fact that MVDG allows me to post there.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Unity 08 Closes Shop

Unity08 announced today that its closing the doors on its current incarnation due to a shortage of both members and money.


The past year has taught us that it's tough to rally millions to a process as opposed to a candidate or an issue. In the past, third party movements that have broken through the monopoly of the established parties have always been based on a person (Teddy Roosevelt in 1912 or Ross Perot in the last decade) or a burning issue (slavery in the case of the insurgent Republican party in 1860). Stirring people and moving them to action about a process change - replacing the quirky primary system that tends to drive candidates to the extremes with something more inclusive and sensible - has proven to be a lot harder than we expected.

And the Federal Election Commission hasn't helped. The Commission has taken the position that we are subject to their jurisdiction (even though two United States Supreme Court decisions hold exactly opposite) and, therefore, that we are limited to $5000 contributions from individuals (even though the Democrat and Republican Parties are able to receive $25,000 from individuals). Needless to say, this position by the FEC effectively limited our fundraising potential, especially in the crucial early going when we needed substantial money fast to get on with ballot access and the publicity necessary to build our membership.

We were caught in a peculiar catch-22; we wanted to break the dependence on big money by getting lots of small contributions from millions of members, but needed some up-front big money to help generate the millions of members to make the small contributions. And the FEC (in effect, an arm of the parties) didn't let that happen. We have challenged this ruling in the federal courts, but are still awaiting a decision and time is running out.

When I first heard of Unity08 I thought it was needed, an interesting proposition, and so crazy that it just might work. Which of course meant that it needed my help. And while it may have failed to to achieve its purpose it did manage to create a platform and a purpose that allowed moderates, centrists, and independents to network and organize in a way that hadn't previously been available. Additionally it did help promote certain centrist blogs. So while it may not have caused the center to coalesce, it did at least make it congeal a little. That in and of itself is no mean feat because as any of Unity08's leaders could probably tell you organizing moderates is about as easy as herding cats. So while I'm sorry to see Unity08 go I know that they did have an impact of sorts. So on that note I say to them,"So long and thanks for all the fish."

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Bill Richardson Bows Out

Looks like he knows when the getting is good...


MERRIMACK, N.H. - New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will announce Thursday that he is ending his campaign for the presidency, sources inside the Richardson campaign confirmed to NBC News on Wednesday.

Sources told The Associated Press and NBC News about the withdrawal plan on condition of anonymity in advance of the governor's announcement.

The Richardson campaign would not comment on the governor's decision, reached after a meeting with his top advisers Wednesday in New Mexico.

I think had Obama not entered the race his bid for the nomination might have had more traction. However with his resume I'm sure he'll land on his feet. Perhaps he'll even end up being someone's running mate.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Clinton Clinches New Hampshire

It was an exceedingly close victory though Clinton's 39% to Obama's 37%

From ABC News:

Sen. Hillary Clinton has narrowly won the New Hampshire primary, becoming the first woman -- and the first-ever former first lady -- to win the first-in-the-nation contest.

Clinton beat out Sen. Barack Obama, who, riding a wave of momentum from his Iowa caucus victory, battled for a close second place in the Granite State.

Never thought to be a major factor in New Hampshire, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards came in a distant third in the state and will now focus his limited resources on South Carolina, where he won in 2004.


The tight race has also secured Obama as a formidable opponent for Clinton, setting up what may become a bloody political battle between the two Democratic rivals going into the big-state primaries Feb. 5.

Man if this had been a football game Clinton won it by a field goal. Despite the loss Obama has shown that he is capable of effectively competing with Clinton. That'll mean a lot going into South Carolina where I believe concerns about his electability originally kept him polling low. I expect SC to be a close race but I believe Obama has a good chance of pulling it off. On the republican side McCain finally had his day beating Romney by a five percent margin. My question is can McCain win anywhere else?

What been odd is watching the media cover this. Both CNN and Fox news commentators called Clinton's win an upset. First they called her inevitable, then kicked her while she was down for a week after her Iowa loss, and now they are trumpeting her previously predicted win as an upset. Looks like the media only loves you when you're winning Mrs. Clinton.

Racist Rants Return to Plague Ron Paul

Over at TNR James Kirchick tracked down some of Ron Paul's old newsletters and discovered that the allegations of their racist content were in fact true.

From TNR:

Finding the pre-1999 newsletters was no easy task, but I was able to track many of them down at the libraries of the University of Kansas and the Wisconsin Historical Society. Of course, with few bylines, it is difficult to know whether any particular article was written by Paul himself. Some of the earlier newsletters are signed by him, though the vast majority of the editions I saw contain no bylines at all. Complicating matters, many of the unbylined newsletters were written in the first person, implying that Paul was the author.

But, whoever actually wrote them, the newsletters I saw all had one thing in common: They were published under a banner containing Paul's name, and the articles (except for one special edition of a newsletter that contained the byline of another writer) seem designed to create the impression that they were written by him--and reflected his views. What they reveal are decades worth of obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays. In short, they suggest that Ron Paul is not the plain-speaking antiwar activist his supporters believe they are backing--but rather a member in good standing of some of the oldest and ugliest traditions in American politics.

Ron Paul responded stating:

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA – In response to an article published by The New Republic, Ron Paul issued the following statement:

“The quotations in The New Republic article are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed. I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts.

“In fact, I have always agreed with Martin Luther King, Jr. that we should only be concerned with the content of a person's character, not the color of their skin. As I stated on the floor of the U.S. House on April 20, 1999: ‘I rise in great respect for the courage and high ideals of Rosa Parks who stood steadfastly for the rights of individuals against unjust laws and oppressive governmental policies.’

“This story is old news and has been rehashed for over a decade. It's once again being resurrected for obvious political reasons on the day of the New Hampshire primary.

“When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publicly taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.”

Anyway you slice it its ugly. If he isn't a racist he allowed himself to be used as a tool by racists (for a suspiciously long time). Unfortunately this is exactly the type of stuff that will allow mainstream Republicans and the media to disregard the positions and ideas that Ron Paul has espoused. Ultimately it will have to be his supporters that carry them forward after the elections are over by staying engaged in both politics and public discourse. Otherwise they'll just be smothered under the weight of the "racist" tar and feathers.

The Song Remains the Same

But this time its a Dem accused of taking bribes in return for earmarks. Is this just the tip of the iceberg?


Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) today sent a complaint to the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District for Louisiana and the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, asking for an investigation into whether Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) violated federal bribery law by including a $2 million earmark for Voyager Expanded Learning in a bill a mere four days after receiving $30,000 in campaign contributions from company executives and their relatives. CREW also asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the matter.
Call me cynical but part of me is just waiting for the Dem's to start showing the same degree of corruption we saw when the government was under GOP control. We need meaningful election/ campaign finance reform. However until that happens I'm going to continue backing publicly financed campaigns on a state level.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Obamania Hits South Carolina

Ok, I may have been wrong about Obama needing NH to guarantee a win in SC.

from Rasmussen:

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in South Carolina shows that Barack Obama has opened a double digit-lead over Hillary Clinton in the January 26th Primary Election. It’s Obama 42% Clinton 30%. John Edwards attracts 14% of the vote and nobody else tops 3%.
In South Carolina, Obama now attracts 58% of the African-American vote, up from 50% in December. Earlier in the year, Obama and Clinton split this important constituency fairly evenly. Now while Obama enjoys a 2-to-1 advantage over Clinton among African-American voters, white voters are split fairly evenly between three candidates--it’s Clinton 32%, Edwards 29%, and Obama 27%. For Obama, that reflects a 13-point improvement from the previous survey.
I do think a Clinton win in NH could make SC a tight race between the two. However what's it say about Edwards that he polls better in Iowa and New Hampshire than he does in his home state?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Obama Now Ahead in NH Polls

Looks like his win in Iowa answered that electability question.

From CNN:

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) — MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) — Two days before New Hampshire's Democratic primary, Sen. Barack Obama has opened a double-digit lead over Sen. Hillary Clinton in that state, a new CNN-WMUR poll found Sunday.

Obama, the first-term senator from Illinois who won last week's Iowa caucuses, led the New York senator and former first lady 39 percent to 29 percent in a poll conducted Saturday and Sunday — a sharp change from a poll out Saturday that showed the Democratic front-runners tied at 33 percent.

Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina is at 16 percent in the new survey, down four points from Saturday. Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico is in fourth place, with the support of 7 percent of likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters, with Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio at 2 percent.

A USA Today poll confirms this but also shows that Huckabee isn't receiving a similar boost from his win. Both show McCain in almost a dead heat with Romney.

The rundowns:


Obama: 41%; up from 32% in the last USA TODAY/Gallup New Hampshire poll, taken in mid-December.
Clinton: 28%; down from 32%.
John Edwards: 19%; up from 18%.
Gov. Bill Richardson: 6%; down from 8%.
No one else above 3%.


McCain: 34%; up from 27% in mid-December.
Romney: 30%; down from 34%.
Mike Huckabee: 13%; up from 9%.
Rep. Ron Paul: 8%; down from 9%.
Rudy Giuliani: 8%; down from 11%.
No one else above 3%.

If I were betting on this race I'd put my money on Obama and McCain due to their broader appeal to independents. However Clinton has invested serious money and manpower in New Hampshire and it may pay off for her. NH is the least predictable of the early primary states after all. One thing I'm certain of is that if Obama wins NH he'll also win South Carolina. If he can win all three he'll have the momentum he needs to go toe to toe with Clinton on Super Tuesday.

h/t to Memeorandum

Friday, January 04, 2008

I'm Getting Hitched

As of 10:30am tomorrow I will officially be off the market. Ladies, please try to keep the wailing and gnashing of teeth to a minimum. Thanks.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Obama and Huckabee Win in Iowa

Definitely an upset for the predicted winners Clinton and Romney.

From Reuters:

Obama and Huckabee win first 2008 vote

DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - Barack Obama took a big step on Thursday toward becoming the first black U.S. president when his campaign for change caught fire in Iowa and swept him past Hillary Clinton in the opening Democratic nominating contest.

Republican underdog Mike Huckabee capped a stunning political rise to beat rival Mitt Romney in Iowa, despite being dramatically outspent by the wealthy former Massachusetts governor and venture capitalist.

Obama, an Illinois senator, captured the first Democratic prize on the road to the White House with a comeback triumph over New York Sen. Clinton and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who were in a tight battle for second.
Turnout among Democrats topped 220,000, smashing the previous record of 124,000 in 2004 -- testament to the high enthusiasm among Democrats heading into November's election.

Conversely only 90,00 Republicans turned out for the promaries. Is this a harbinger of GOP turnout in other primaries?

I seriously doubt that Huckabee can get enough momentum out of this to win NH however the post Iowa primary bump may position him to win in South Carolina. Obama on the other hand has to face Clinton's well oiled and funded NH machine as Clinton is seriously hedging her bet
by concentrating her resources on NH. I strongly believe that Obama has to win NH in order to guarantee a win in SC. If Clinton and Obama go into SC with only one win apiece Edwards home field advantage could snag him a win there effectively leaving the field wide open.

Whats surprising is that Clinton placed third. I guess there ain't no such thing as inevitable in Iowa.