Friday, November 30, 2007

Breaking News: Man takes hostages at Clinton campaign office

Let's all hope for a peaceful outcome.

A man claiming to have a bomb was holding one or more hostages at Hillary Clinton's campaign office Friday, police said.

The man had what appeared to be a bomb strapped to himself, said Bill Shaheen, a top state campaign official. The two hostages were volunteers, Shaheen said.

Clinton was not believed to be in the office at the time.

Authorities were sending a tactical bomb unit to assist local police, and the area was evacuated, said Maj. Michael Hambrook of New Hampshire State Police. A nearby school also was in lockdown.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

GOP Debate

It's going on right now - share your thoughts. And someone please, please remind me why Huckabee is a bad guy. Right now he's praising government's abilities to educate undocumented students. Sounding like a liberal smacking Romney around..

He's just so likeable and (not) chubby!

Bill Clinton Tells Iowans He Opposed Iraq From Start

I have to admit Bill Clinton (Slick Willie) was a better president than Bush, but he was a supporter of the war in Iraq and he blazed the path to the war in his own presidency. His own sanctions were responsible for the deaths of 500,000 INNOCENT CHILDREN. Now he tells us he is against the war in Iraq? Can we trust someone who lied to us before? The images below are a testament to his lies.
Former president Bill Clinton said yesterday that he "opposed Iraq from the beginning," glossing over the more nuanced views of the war he has expressed over time. Clinton made the remarks while campaigning for his wife in Iowa -- a state where many Democrats are against the war -- and as he expressed bitterness over getting a tax cut with money that could have been spent on the military.

But past remarks made by the former president do leave open a question about how fervently Clinton opposed the war at the outset and before it grew widely unpopular. In immediate hindsight, Clinton did not sound like a fierce critic.

"I supported the president when he asked for authority to stand up against weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," Clinton said on May 18, 2003, during a commencement speech at Tougaloo College in Mississippi.

Monday, November 26, 2007

SCHIP and GOP stupidity

In writing my part 2b, there was a big chunk I was leaving out when it came to health care, which the NYT article touched upon.

That economic populism extends, for many candidates, to a new emphasis on expanding health coverage. Congressional Democrats who lived through the Clinton administration’s failed effort to create a national health insurance plan, which many believe was a crucial factor in the Democrats’ losses in 1994, have been wary of broad health legislation for years. (And being in the minority, they were unable to do much about it, regardless.) But the class of ’06 is adamant that something major can, and will, be done.

As noted in the NYT article, expanding health care is an economic populist issue. The battle over SCHIP was a prime example of that. Even some Republicans admitted that Bush vetoing the SCHIP expansion and House Republicans helping him sustain the veto was going to hurt the GOP in a major way in 2008.

Other Republicans are concerned about the political cost the debate over SCHIP could have in November 2008. “What will happen is they’ll lose the override. They’ll make cosmetic changes and our guys will cave,” Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) said Tuesday during an appearance at the National Press Club. “And at what cost? Our guys will get beaten up ... SCHIP is a dumb fight.”

And denying children health insurance just sounds so... cruel.

It was back in 1993, as the Clintons prepared to roll out their new universal healthcare plan, that Bill Kristol wrote a memo to fellow conservatives and Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill warning them that their goal must be to "kill," not amend, the Clinton plan. "Healthcare," Kristol wrote, "is not, in fact, just another Democratic initiative ... . It will revive the reputation of the ... Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests."

That's why bloggers call him William "The Bloody" Kristol. Of course, it'll be the GOP that gets bloodied up when ads like this really start running all over the country, say, in October 2008.

But how effective will those kinds of emotional ads be? Is the public really behind this effort to expand children's health insurance, even if it means paying higher taxes? Why, yes. I did a detailed diary on this very issue back in July, focusing on the New York Times/CBS News poll (.pdf). Check out these numbers to see what Americans really think.

Should government guarantee health insurance for all?

      Yes    No
Now   64%   27%
2000  62%   29%
1996  56%   38%

Would you favor or oppose expanding this program to include ALL uninsured children?

      Total  Rep  Dem  Ind
Favor    84   72   93   82
Oppose   11   21    5   11
DK/NA     5    7    2    7

Yes, even 72% of Republicans favor expanding SCHIP. But the nail in the coffin is the final question that completely destroys the GOP's talking point about higher taxes, which is absolutely fundamental to their core ideology. Of the 84% of Americans that said they'd favor expanding the SCHIP program, they asked this question on taxes.

What if that meant you would have to pay more in taxes? Then, would you favor or oppose expanding the government program to include all uninsured children?

      Total  Rep  Dem  Ind
Favor    80   79   82   80
Oppose   15   17   14   15
DK/NA     5    4    4    5

80% of 84% is 67.2%. So over two-thirds of all Americans would favor personally paying more taxes in order to insure the uninsured children in this country. There was basically no difference in the partisan breakdowns for this question. (This is also assuming exactly 0% of that 11% that would oppose expanding the program in the first place, and that 5% who weren't sure, would want their own taxes raised to pay for it; otherwise the 67.2% would be even higher.)

Now, that poll was from July. And it's only one poll. Any given poll can be an outlier. Well, in October, the Washington Post/ABC News poll basically verified everything in the NYT/CBS News poll.

Bush and the Republicans may also be headed for a political setback from the fight over the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), even if Congress does not override Bush's threatened veto.

More than seven in 10 in the poll support the planned $35 billion spending increase, and 25 percent are opposed. About half of all Americans "strongly" support the increased spending; 17 percent are firmly against the additional funds. Eighty-one percent of Democrats, 69 percent of independents and 61 percent of Republicans are in favor.

Scroll down to Question #9 for the SCHIP question. The respondent was informed that the expansion would be paid for via an increase in cigarette taxes. Given that information, along with quick pro and con statements, a whopping 72% of Americans supported the SCHIP expansion that Bush vetoed last month, including a supermajority of 61% of Republicans.

Enough House Republicans stuck with Bush in helping him sustain the veto, even though 44 Republicans did cross the aisle to join Democrats on the veto override vote. For that, they should suffer the consequences at the ballot box in a major way next November. We're just gonna have to help remind voters of this, over and over again. :-)

Part 2b: Populism and 2006

OK, so before I get to part 3, as an addendum to part 2, I came across this New York Times article written the weekend after the midterm elections. It came up in the GOP's meme that the elections were actually somehow a "victory" for conservatism. Hah! Markos and DemFromCT (who's taught at UCLA previously) both dispelled that myth quite nicely. The Financial Times even got it.

Defeated Republicans have found solace in the fact that many of their victorious Democratic opponents are "social conservatives". They point to James Webb, who surprised everyone by winning the bitter and close Senate race in Virginia on Thursday, giving his party a majority of one in the upper house tom complement its decisive victory in the House of Representatives.

However, neither Mr Webb nor the majority of the Democratic freshmen who won elections this week can so easily be fitted into that category. Punching the air and holding up the dusty boots of his son who is serving in Iraq, Mr Webb told cheering supporters in Arlington that his election was as much a vote for economic fairness as it was for a change of course in Iraq.


One or two of his colleagues, including Bob Casey, the new senator for Pennsylvania, and Heath Shuler, a Democratic representative for North Carolina, are "pro-life" but the large majority of new Democrat lawmakers support the woman's right to choose.

More significantly a majority of the intake, including Mr Webb, are economic populists who are deeply suspicious of free trade and quick to blame China and other developing countries for the loss of US jobs. Some, such as Sherrod Brown, the new Democratic senator for the key Midwest state of Ohio, which has lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs since Mr Bush came to power, won the election virtually on that issue alone.

"We will focus on economic fairness in a country divided too much by class in an age of the internationalisation of American corporations," said Mr Webb in a victory rally speech that devoted more to the economy than all other themes combined. "At a time when profits are at a record high and wages are at a low, we will focus on bridging the class divide."

The New York Times got it. The headline of that article was Incoming Democrats Put Populism Before Ideology. In interviewing many of the new freshmen Democrats, they came to this conclusion:

Many of them say they must also, somehow, find a way to address the growing anxiety among voters about a global economy that no longer seems to work for them. There is a strong populist tinge to this class.


Conservatives tend to highlight the conservatism in the new class as a sign that Democrats are essentially ceding ground to the right on issues like gun control and abortion.

But many of these freshmen Democrats are hard to pigeonhole ideologically. Even among the most socially conservative, there is a strong streak of economic populism that is a unifying force.

Heath Shuler, for example, the former professional football player and newly elected House Democrat from North Carolina, is anti-abortion and pro-gun, but sounds like an old-style Democrat on economic issues.

“I was taught at a very, very young age about faith and personal responsibility, and through that, that responsibility was about helping those who cannot help themselves,” Mr. Shuler said. “If you look at what the Democratic Party stands for, it is about helping others who can’t help themselves.”

Like other Democrats, he supports legislation to increase the minimum wage and make college tuition tax deductible. He also opposes trade agreements that he says have led to a 78 percent loss in textile industry jobs in his state.

Similarly, Ms. Boyda of Kansas, a first-time office holder who relied on lengthy newspaper inserts to make her case to the voters, said, “The rural economy has been left out.” She added: “A lot of my district feels a great deal of insecurity about their jobs, their health care, their business, their family farm. They feel like they’re just kind of hanging out there.”

Carol Shea-Porter, a social worker and new House member from New Hampshire who considers herself a populist, said, “The theme of my campaign was, I’m running for the rest of us.” She added that no matter how much the Bush administration boasted of job growth, her voters “understood those were Wal-Mart jobs.” And, she said, “They understood when they talked about the stock market boom, that half of Americans aren’t even in the stock market.”

Jim Webb, who defeated Senator George Allen of Virginia, campaigned heavily on the idea that the middle class was increasingly at risk in an age of growing inequality. Bob Casey, who overwhelmingly defeated Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, said he looked forward to “a really intensive focus on health care that I hope to be a part of.”

That economic populism extends, for many candidates, to a new emphasis on expanding health coverage. Congressional Democrats who lived through the Clinton administration’s failed effort to create a national health insurance plan, which many believe was a crucial factor in the Democrats’ losses in 1994, have been wary of broad health legislation for years. (And being in the minority, they were unable to do much about it, regardless.) But the class of ’06 is adamant that something major can, and will, be done.


Representative Sherrod Brown, who is moving to the Senate from the House after beating Senator Mike DeWine of Ohio, argued: “Tell me a whole lot of Republicans won’t work with us on finding a way for middle-class kids to get a college education, to vote for embryonic stem cell research, to raise the minimum wage. John McCain is already out there talking about prescription drug issues.”

The entire article is well worth the read, with additional interviews and quotes from freshmen Dems Dave Loebsack (IA), Steve Kagen (WI), Ron Klein (FL), Ed Perlmutter (CO), Gabrielle Giffords (AZ), Joe Sestak (PA), and Tim Walz (MN).

Finally, some more on Mr. Shuler and the others from former Bruin Dem Ezra Klein (who's getting more and more TV time on MSNBC now, woo-hoo!), who debunks even more of that win-for-conservatism myth.

What it does have to do is punch back against the remarkably coordinated and quick campaign from the right (and sometimes the right includes the left) seeking to paint this election as some sort of victory for ... conservatism.

The ideological spectrum is a tricky thing. Take Heath Schuler, exhibit A in the rightwing Democrats meme. He's a cultural conservative, no doubt. But however far right he drifts on those issues -- which, under a Democratic Congress, he won't be voting on because they won't be brought to floor -- he's notably left on economic issues. Today, for instance, he's giving a press conference under the auspices of the United Steelworkers with Great Liberal Hope Sherrod Brown, where they'll discuss the need for new trade policies and their success in making active opposition to NAFTA a winning issue. That's not centrist Democrat. It's not moderate liberal. That's populism, kids, and it's leftier than polite company has allowed for quite some time.

So is Shuler right-wing? Seems like a tough case to me. Sherrod Brown? Liberal as they come. Defeating South Dakota's abortion ban initiative? Passing Missouri's stem cell initiative? All those progressives who toppled liberal Republicans in the Northeast? Somebody think they won in the blue bastions with roaring conservatism? Meanwhile, the most conservative of the serious Democratic challengers this cycle, Harold Ford, went down to defeat. Bravely fought race, tough environs, etc. But with an out-and-out liberal winning Ohio and a right-of-center Democrat losing Tennessee, we're really going to call this election for conservatism?

I don't think so. That distorted interpretation is being promoted by an array of right-wingers and self-styled centrists anxious to constrain the new majority's perceived range of motion. Some of them are conservatives trying to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Others are "centrist" Democrats look to grad defeat from the jaws of victory. Both are, for ideological reasons, afraid that a Democratic majority will govern like...Democrats.

Keep all this in mind about where the message of economic populism can get us.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Torres Gives Passionate Defense of Feinstein

California Democratic Chairman Art Torres gave a rigorous defense of Senator Dianne Feinstein at her censure hearing, shortly before the measure was crushed. He even pulled out the A and S words (ageist and sexist) in response to the ubiquitous online use of pictures of Feinstein walking carefully while clutching onto President Bush.

In any event I'm rambling, check out the short video yourself. It's definitely worth a watch if you've been following this hoopla.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Man + box turtle, question mark?

Yes!!! These videos are now online on the Daily Show website!! This first one was one of the funniest videos in all of 2004. Sadly, it turns out Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) did not actually say that part. It was written by a speechwriter, and included in the press packet that went out to reporters, but Cornyn at least had enough sense to remove that portion when he gave the actual speech.

The second was one of the best examples of Jon Stewart exposing Fox News for how they use the question mark to shape opinion and make insinuations, all while posing as a real news network. CNN isn't much better in this regard.

GOP's dirty tricks on CA electoral vote caught on video at UCSB

Erik Love of the Courage Campaign has the story. At UCSB, these petition gatherers are asking students to sign a petition involving money for cancer research. Awwwwww.... who wouldn't sign that? But then they ask the students to sign two or three more other papers underneath, with a rubber band holding the papers together right where the text of the petition is, so the student can't read the rest, unless they first remove the rubber band. And unless they're suspicious, they usually don't.

Here's the video of them on the UCSB campus.

Notice that they do say what the petition is for, but only says they're "trying to redistrict the electoral college". WTF does that even mean? You "redistrict" congressional districts after a census (and mid-decade too, if you're Tom DeLay). The guy is spewing nonsense, hoping he's not caught in his bullshit. And while it's not on video, the student interviews show that those guys are lying to UCSB students about what the petitions are truly for, which is a crime under California election law.

Hopefully the Courage Campaign will go back with hidden cameras, posing as UCSB students (or get real students to help them out), and capture these guys on film openly lying about the petitions. Because these people need to be sitting in prison for pulling a dirty trick like this.

The stench of 15 rotting corpses

Maybe this isn't the post you want to read right before Thanksgiving, but it is important to highlight the corruption and fraud and waste that's going on in Iraq.

Vanity Fair has a very disturbing story about massive fraud and war profiteering by Kellogg, Brown & Root, a former Halliburton subsidiary, including the nauseating tale of a container with rotting corpses being used to store ice for our soldiers. Read the whole story, if you dare.

Consider the case of Grayson's client Bud Conyers, a big, bearded 43-year-old who lives with his ex-wife and her nine children, four of them his, in Enid, Oklahoma. Conyers worked in Iraq as a driver for Kellogg, Brown & Root. Spun off by Halliburton as an independent concern in April, KBR is the world's fifth-largest construction company. Before the war started, the Pentagon awarded it two huge contracts: one, now terminated, to restore the Iraqi oil industry, and another, still in effect, to provide a wide array of logistical-support services to the U.S. military.

In the midday heat of June 16, 2003, Conyers was summoned to fix a broken refrigerated truck—a "reefer," in contractor parlance—at Log Base Seitz, on the edge of Baghdad's airport. He and his colleagues had barely begun to inspect the sealed trailer when they found themselves reeling from a nauseating stench. The freezer was powered by the engine, and only after they got it running again, several hours later, did they dare open the doors.

The trailer, unit number R-89, had been lying idle for two weeks, Conyers says, in temperatures that daily reached 120 degrees. "Inside, there were 15 human bodies," he recalls. "A lot of liquid stuff had just seeped out. There were body parts on the floor: eyes, fingers. The goo started seeping toward us. Boom! We shut the doors again." The corpses were Iraqis, who had been placed in the truck by a U.S. Army mortuary unit that was operating in the area. That evening, Conyers's colleague Wallace R. Wynia filed an official report: "On account of the heat the bodies were decomposing rapidly.... The inside of the trailer was awful."

It is not unheard of for trucks in a war zone to perform hearse duty. But both civilian and U.S.-military regulations state that once a trailer has been used to store corpses it can never again be loaded with food or drink intended for human consumption. According to the U.S. Army's Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, "Contact with whole or part human remains carries potential risks associated with pathogenic microbiological organisms that may be present in human blood and tissue." The diseases that may be communicated include aids,hepatitis, tuberculosis, septicemia, meningitis, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human variant of mad cow.

But when Bud Conyers next caught sight of trailer R-89, about a month later, it was packed not with human casualties but with bags of ice—ice that was going into drinks served to American troops. He took photographs, showing the ice bags, the trailer number, and the wooden decking, which appeared to be stained red. Another former KBR employee, James Logsdon, who now works as a police officer near Enid, says he first saw R-89 about a week after Conyers's grisly discovery. "You could still see a little bit of matter from the bodies, stuff that looked kind of pearly, and blood from the stomachs. It hadn't even been hosed down. Afterwards, I saw that truck in the P.W.C.—the public warehouse center—several times. There's nothing there except food and ice. It was backed up to a dock, being loaded."

As late as August 31, 11 weeks after trailer R-89 was emptied of the putrefying bodies, a KBR convoy commander named Jeff Allen filed a mission log stating that it had carried 5,000 pounds of ice that day. This ice, Allen wrote, was "bio-contaminated." But to his horror, on that day alone, "approx 1,800 pounds [were] used."

Conyers and Logsdon say that R-89 was not the only truck that was loaded with ice after being used as a mortuary. They attribute this state of affairs to a chronic shortage of trucks brought about by systemic failures in KBR's operation. The firm had purchased some 200 reefers in Iraq, but only a quarter of them worked. "We had crap-assed trucks they'd bought from local dealers," Logsdon says. "Often you'd be driving one they'd pieced together from several just to get it on the road." He and other former KBR workers say that even new vehicles, some of which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, often broke down because of an absence of affordable spare parts. Instead of paying to repair them, the company often burned disabled trucks in pits or by the side of the road. Conyers tried repeatedly to draw his superiors' attention to these and other alleged abuses, but to no avail. (In an e-mailed statement, KBR denied that it "did or does" order defective vehicles, adding that it disposes of equipment only with "the approval of designated Army personnel.")

Even more disgusting is that the Department of Justice would be trying to stonewall Grayson's investigations.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Utterly Disgusting

Despicable...Simply despicable...

The U.S. Military is demanding that thousands of wounded service personnel give back signing bonuses because they are unable to serve out their commitments.

To get people to sign up, the military gives enlistment bonuses up to $30,000 in some cases.

Now men and women who have lost arms, legs, eyesight, hearing and can no longer serve are being ordered to pay some of that money back.

Person of the Week: Republican Senator Chuck Grassley

Calm down,there's a good reason why a Republican Senator is the Person of the Week .


Senator Chuck Grassley is turning heads in Washington for going after the so-called Money Ministries who take advantage of their tax-exemption. I personally think religious institutions should get no tax exemption, but this is better than nothing.

Excerpts are below. Full article is here.,8816,1684552,00.html

"On the website for their ministry based in Newark, Texas, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland commit to "teach Christians worldwide who they are in Christ Jesus and how to live a victorious life." And they appear to be victorious in theirs, with books in 22 languages, a global crusade schedule and a TV show reaching millions. No less a luminary than presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee is advertised to appear on the show for six days straight to discuss "character in the Bible."

Huckabee might want to opt out. On Nov. 6 the Copelands got a saw-toothed, 42 point questionnaire inquiring into their own character from Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Finance. Grassley wanted to know how Kenneth Copeland--who as a church leader pays no taxes but is expected to plow revenue back into the public welfare--got a private plane and whether flights to Hawaii and Fiji qualified as business trips. Grassley sought credit card receipts and the numbers of the church's offshore bank accounts.

Copeland wasn't Grassley's only pen pal. He also wrote to the Revs. Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Eddie Long, Joyce Meyer and Paula White, in total six televangelists who are part of an evangelical subculture known loosely as Prosperity gospel. "Recent news reports regarding the possible misuse of donations made to religious organizations" prompted the probe, Grassley wrote. The ministers' responses are technically voluntary, but the Senator has asked for them in a month and has mused that the replies could lead to testimony under oath. If so, Grassley could end up wiping out what some consider a kleptocracy but what is certainly the public face of a popular theology."

"The larger conservative Christian community has not been supportive. "Grassley has a shotgun, and lead is spraying all over the place, but I'm looking at the good that can be done," says Marvin Olasky, editor of the evangelical weekly World. J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine, where some of the six advertise, hopes all can prove their innocence, but he adds, "If God wants to use a Senator to help the American church clean up its act, then I say bring on the Reformation."

But should Grassley play the role of Martin Luther? Some see Grassley's acts as a religious vendetta, launched by a white-bread Evangelical who doesn't get the group's view of rich pastors as a sign of divine grace. Grassley has hinted that his purpose may be to revamp tax laws to keep up with rapacious preachers. Remarks Charles Haynes, senior scholar with the First Amendment Center: "I'm worried that [the six] might be used to push for stringent transparency regulations that would affect all religious groups. They are extreme, and extreme cases can lead to bad law."

Grassley rejects the criticism. "We're not looking at doctrine. I don't know much about the words Prosperity gospel," he says. But he acknowledges that religious-freedom concerns may make an investigation a "little more difficult to defend." Fellow Senators--"I won't give their names"--have asked what they should tell the preachers. Says Grassley: "My answer was, 'Tell them to do what all the other nonprofits do--answer my letter.'" And hope for a different kind of grace.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Part 2: The Democrats' Da Vinci Code in 2006

This is a follow-up to Part 1, which introduced the must-read David Sirota piece on economic populism. He wrote that in December 2004. What I'll do here is extend his examples to the 2006 midterm elections, and how the themes he described played out even more this time around. Look at what happened in some of the key Senate races last year.


This is a two-fer. Congressman Ted Strickland had consistently won in a red district, and was now looking to run for Governor. Yes, Ken Blackwell (R) had major issues with the voters stemming from what he did to disenfranchise voters in 2004 as Secretary of State, and outgoing Governor Bob Taft (R) was insanely corrupt. But Blackwell didn't just lose. He was CRUSHED by Strickland, who got over 60% of the vote in a key swing state.

But fine, you say, Blackwell was hated. OK, how about Sen. Mike DeWine (R)? He was not tainted with any of the corruption that was hovering over other Ohio Republicans. Sherrod Brown (D) was one of the most progressive members of the House, and was the leader in the Democratic effort to block CAFTA. (That was the infamous vote that passed 217-215 when the GOP-controlled House deliberately kept voting open well past the 15-minute alloted time, and got Robin Hayes (R-NC) to swich votes at the last minute, and then shut down voting.) Again, the theme of fighting for the working class appears here.

Even the bloggers didn't realize this message. In an infamous posting, Markos Moulitsas, founder of DailyKos, railed against the Democrats when hearing of a memo that said Democrats wanted to run on the economy instead of Iraq. It turned out to be a bit misleading. Certain campaigns were, like Sherrod Brown's. I gotta toot my own horn here, I called it back then when the blogs were freaking out over the memo on the economic issues. So, was Brown hurt by focusing on an economic populist message? Hah! He cruised to a 12-point victory over DeWine, 56%-44%.


Bernie Sanders is so far left, he's a socialist. But fine, you say, it's Vermont. Ah, but he was still able to win the conservative (and very anti-gay) "Northeast Kingdom" in Vermont by hefty margins too as a pro-gay rights candidate. And when Jim Jeffords (a Republican-turned-Independent) retired, Sanders upgraded to the Senate. How did he do in his Senate race against "Richie Rich" Tarrant (R), a corporate Republican if there ever was one? He got over 65% of the vote, winning a majority in every single county in the entire state. Even the Republican areas voted for Sanders over the corporate shill.


Most of us remember this race for the infamous "macaca" moment from George Allen (the shame of UCLA, even if he only was here for his freshman year). Or about how Jim Webb (who attended USC before going into the Navy and then Vietnam) was Reagan's Secretary of the Navy who had only recently left the Republican Party and become a Democrat. Much was made of Jim Webb's strong military credentials, and how his son was serving in Iraq. But if you watch the videos from his stump speeches, day in and day out, the war was actually secondary to his main theme: economic populism. He highlighted over and over the disparity in worker pay as compared to CEO pay, railing against corporations that were destroying the very fabric of our country. And when he finally ended George Allen's political career, look at what he wrote in the conservative op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal the following week. It's titled Class Struggle, and it holds back nothing in slamming corporations for their misdeeds and greed. Or how about his response to Bush's 2007 State of the Union address? Don't remember it? Yeah, his speech fell down the memory hole. You should have seen the looks on the CNN anchors' faces after he finished, it was like he had exposed their entire corporate organization for what it was. And BTW, since Republican pundits keep saying the 2006 elections were a "victory" for conservatives by touting Webb's win (as if Allen wasn't???), keep in mind Webb opposed the gay marriage ban ballot measure that PASSED by a sizable margin in Virginia last November.


Organic farmer Jon Tester lived paycheck to paycheck his whole life. He is an unabashed economic populist with a libertarian streak. His campaign was similar to that of Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer (D), whose winning 2004 campaign David Sirota worked on as a consultant.


Talk to Democrats from the state, and they'll tell you that infamous ad of "Harold, call me!" was just one of several factors in Harold Ford's defeat. That ad alone did not cause Ford's defeat. Now head of the DLC, Ford did everything Sirota warned against in his campaign, playing up the "corporate Dem" factor to the max. And so we now have Senator Bob Corker (R).

This carried true in the House too. Keep in mind all these districts were Democratic pick-ups that had been voting for Republicans for quite some time. Read this piece by fellow Bruin Dem Ezra Klein on the "conservative win" myth. Specifically, Heath Shuler (D-NC), who may be conservative on social issues, actively opposes NAFTA and is, whaddaya know, an economic populist! Jason Altmire (D-PA), another surprise win, campaigned on what you could call "health care populism", specifically railing against the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, and also opposing the free trade agreements NAFTA and CAFTA. Steve Kagen (D-WI), a noted allergist, ran on a platform of providing affordable health care to all Americans, calling it "No Patient Left Behind", and has refused to participate in the Congressional health care plan until all Americans have affordable health care. Tim Walz (D-MN) was a graduate of Camp Wellstone, a training program geared towards pushing a progressive agenda, named after the late Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, who was about as progressive as you could get. John Yarmuth (D-KY) used to publish an alternative weekly in Louisville. Interestingly enough, he co-founded the paper with then-Louisville basketball coach Denny Crum, who of course you should all know played at UCLA for John Wooden.

As Mike Lux wrote:

The campaigns that tended to win last year were the aggressive, populist outsider campaigns. Sherrod Brown, Jon Tester, and Jim Webb each upset their opponents by running those kinds of campaigns, while Harold Ford played defense and lost. In Pennsylvania, establishment defender Lois Murphy lost while aggressor Patrick Murphy won. In Kentucky, establishment defender Ken Lucas lost while populist aggressor John Yarmuth won.

Also in Connecticut, of the three Democrats challenging GOP incumbents, the one who didn't want to be associated with Ned Lamont, CT-04's Diane Farrell, lost her race to incumbent Chris Shays, while the other two Dems knocked off the incumbent. As Tim Tagaris wrote:

I didn't lose a wink of sleep over her loss. She spent more time figuring out ways to get Ned Lamont literature out of canvass bags than she did trying to pull her voters.

Time and time again, we saw the message of populism triumph last November, and those "establishment" candidates trying to take over Republican seats fared much more poorly. The House candidate then-DCCC chair Rahm Emanuel poured the most money into was Illinois' Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War vet who lost both her legs. You would think that would've been an incredibly powerful message, even in a Republican district. But her campaign was pretty much all about Iraq. Pete Roskam ran a standard Republican campaign, and won.

So what does this mean for 2008? That will be answered in part 3.

Who Dunit?

With 53 days left until the Iowa caucus, vicious tactics seem to be increasing in frequency and scale. On the Democrats side, the Hillary campaign may or may not have damaging information that they may or may not be spreading around Democratic circles. (The column that started it all) Could be true, could be a Republican tactic to divide, but either way I do not trust Robert Novak after the Valerie Plame debacle.

Then there are the Republicans. As much as I hate dirty campaigning, I have to admit that I am amused when they use swift-boat tactics on one another.

Apparently someone has been push polling (pretending to poll, but really trying to influence voters) in Iowa and New Hampshire. Eight years ago, President Bush's campaign allegedly used push polling to insinuate that John McCain had an illegitimate black daughter. Nowadays, someone is using push-polling to highlight Romney's flip-flopping and make bigoted remarks about Mormonism. (Politico article).

I would actually love to know who is behind all of this. Unlike 2000, there are so many different players with different motives. My favorite theory is that this is done by the Democrats because they are most afraid of Mitt Romney. Setting aside my hatred of Romney- that is just silly. I think Giuliani would be a tougher fight. I even think Huckabee would be a more serious challenge- and not just because he has Chuck Norris on his side.

Bets on who's behind the anti-Romney, anti-Mormon push polling?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Send Sen. Feinstein a Message!

Dear fellow Californian,
Last week, every member of the Senate had a chance to take a stand against torture. Most Democrats did—they opposed the nomination of Michael Mukasey for Attorney General because he left the door open to torture. He wouldn't, for example, say whether water-boarding—an interrogation technique that simulates drowning—constituted torture.
But Senator Feinstein wasn't with the majority of Democrats—she actually cast a pivotal vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee to confirm him.
And that's not all. In recent months, Senator Feinstein backed the president on issues ranging from right-wing judges to immunity for phone companies that broke the law.
Now, California Democrats—led by our friends at the Courage Campaign—are seriously organizing to get her attention. They've launched a grassroots campaign to ask the California Democratic Party to officially censure Senator Feinstein when its executive board meets this weekend.
We only have a few days before the meeting, so it's important to make our voices heard right now. Can you sign the Courage Campaign's petition asking the California Democratic Party to censure Senator Feinstein? Click here to sign:
Only 29% of Californians—and just 9% of California Democrats—approve of the president, but Senator Feinstein has sided with him on key issues.
On Torture: Senator Feinstein recommended Michael Mukasey for Attorney General, despite his refusal to call the practice of water-boarding "torture."1
On Judges: Senator Feinstein was the deciding vote to confirm Judge Leslie Southwick,2 even though Southwick had ruled that a white employee couldn't be fired for using a demeaning and offensive racial slur towards an African-American co-worker. Southwick also took custody of an eight-year-old girl away from her mother, because the mother was living with another woman in a "lesbian home."3
On Wiretapping: Now Senator Feinstein says she is going to support immunity for phone companies that helped the Bush administration illegally spy on the phone calls and emails of innocent Americans.4
When Senator Feinstein sides with President Bush and the Republicans on key issues like these, she not only goes against what a majority of her constituents want—she gives cover to other weak Democrats, too. This means it's even harder for Congress to make progress on the critical issues that so many voters care about.
Senator Feinstein isn't up for election again until 2012, but we can't afford another 5 years of this. She needs to hear from Californians that she needs to start siding with them—not George Bush.
A censure from the California Democratic Party is the strongest way to send that message.
Can you add your name to the Courage Campaign's petition asking the California Democratic Party to censure Senator Feinstein? Click here to sign:
Let's send Senator Dianne Feinstein a message she can't ignore.
Thanks for all you do,
–Wes, Ilyse, Joan, Carrie, Tanya, Marika and the whole Political Action Team
Thursday, November 15th, 2007


CNN debate: the Las Vegas disgrace

Remember that final question about diamonds vs. pearls? Well, it seems that student wanted to ask a serious question about the Yucca Mountain, but CNN wouldn't let her.

Maria Luisa, the UNLV student who asked Hillary Clinton whether she preferred "diamonds or pearls" at last night's debate wrote on her MySpace page this morning that CNN forced her to ask the frilly question instead of a pre-approved query about the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

"Every single question asked during the debate by the audience had to be approved by CNN," Luisa writes. "I was asked to submit questions including "lighthearted/fun" questions. I submitted more than five questions on issues important to me. I did a policy memo on Yucca Mountain a year ago and was the finalist for the Truman Scholarship. For sure, I thought I would get to ask the Yucca question that was APPROVED by CNN days in advance."

Here's CNN's defense.

But in the network's defense the spokesperson also says that the girl wasn't "forced" to ask it. She submitted the question in advance -- it was her question -- and voluntarily agreed to ask it. CNN selected the question and asked her towards the close of the debate if she wanted to ask it. She said yes.

As MissLaura sarcastically notes:

Oh, well then, that's ok! No problem with a so-called news network focusing on the appearance and devotion to consumerism of the first serious female presidential candidate ever. I'm so glad they cleared that up. Otherwise I might have had to question my faith in the awesomeness of CNN.

From a Las Vegas Democrat who was in the audience, though, she was very disappointed in the audience reaction of booing Hillary's main rivals when they started criticizing Hillary. Even the Hardball crew the next day noticed the intense pro-Hillary crowd. Chris Matthews even said the audience was "clearly prompted" in favor of Hillary, and later also said this on Friday's show:

"Anybody who boos on Peruvian trade deals, and has enough emotion to boo that one, clearly was prepped. Why would you boo about Peruvian trade in Nevada??"

He also talked about that "ringer" in the audience who was deliberately trying to shout down Obama when he was responding to questions early on. It got bad enough that Wolf Blitzer had to ask the audience to stop it. It didn't.

After the debate, many people were upset that a close friend of the Clintons, James Carville, was not disclosed as a Hillary supporter when he was doing the post-debate analysis. The New York Times even picked up on it, and CNN's president has apologized for the error.

CNN executives said they routinely reminded viewers of Mr. Carville’s affiliation in his segments. On Thursday, Anderson Cooper, the CNN host who moderated the round table, said, “I should point out David Gergen was an adviser in the Bill Clinton White House, as, of course, was James Carville.”

That was not enough for Jonathan Klein, the CNN president who said in an interview that the disclosure fell short.

“He’s not on the Hillary payroll, but he’s on the Hillary bandwagon, and that should be disclosed as much as we can,” Mr. Klein said. “I wasn’t comfortable with it myself as I watched it.

“He has disclosed all of this previously and repeatedly on our air,” he continued. “He happened not to last night, and it’s an unfortunate omission.”

All in all, it was a disgrace for CNN.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Krugman on Social Security

When it comes to Social Security, today's column by Paul Krugman has him not-so-happy with one of our frontrunners. The column is titled Played for a Sucker. Obama supporters may want to avoid this piece.

But the “everyone” who knows that Social Security is doomed doesn’t include anyone who actually understands the numbers. In fact, the whole Beltway obsession with the fiscal burden of an aging population is misguided.

As Peter Orszag, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, put it in a recent article co-authored with senior analyst Philip Ellis: “The long-term fiscal condition of the United States has been largely misdiagnosed. Despite all the attention paid to demographic challenges, such as the coming retirement of the baby-boom generation, our country’s financial health will in fact be determined primarily by the growth rate of per capita health care costs.”

How has conventional wisdom gotten this so wrong? Well, in large part it’s the result of decades of scare-mongering about Social Security’s future from conservative ideologues, whose ultimate goal is to undermine the program.

Thus, in 2005, the Bush administration tried to push through a combination of privatization and benefit cuts that would, over time, have reduced Social Security to nothing but a giant 401(k). The administration claimed that this was necessary to save the program, which officials insisted was “heading toward an iceberg.”

But the administration’s real motives were, in fact, ideological. The anti-tax activist Stephen Moore gave the game away when he described Social Security as “the soft underbelly of the welfare state,” and hailed the Bush plan as a way to put a “spear” through that soft underbelly.

Fortunately, the scare tactics failed. Democrats in Congress stood their ground; progressive analysts debunked, one after another, the phony arguments of the privatizers; and the public made it clear that it wants to preserve a basic safety net for retired Americans.

That should have been that. But what Jonathan Chait of The New Republic calls “entitlement hysteria” never seems to die.


Which brings us back to Mr. Obama. Why would he, in effect, play along with this new round of scare-mongering and devalue one of the great progressive victories of the Bush years?

I don’t believe Mr. Obama is a closet privatizer. He is, however, someone who keeps insisting that he can transcend the partisanship of our times — and in this case, that turned him into a sucker.


We all wish that American politics weren’t so bitter and partisan. But if you try to find common ground where none exists — which is the case for many issues today — you end up being played for a fool. And that’s what has just happened to Mr. Obama.

There's some more good commentary on the Social Security issue here.

Krugman: Edwards gets it right on health care

I was pointed to this February column by Paul Krugman when John Edwards first unveiled his health care plan. If you want to know what Krugman thinks about Edwards' plan, his column is titled Edwards Gets It Right.

At first glance, the Edwards health care plan looks similar to several other proposals out there, including one recently unveiled by Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. But a closer look reveals extra features in the Edwards plan that take it a lot closer to what the country really needs.

Like Mr. Schwarzenegger, Mr. Edwards sets out to cover the uninsured with a combination of regulation and financial aid. Right now, many people are uninsured because, as the Edwards press release puts it, insurance companies “game the system to cover only healthy people.” So the Edwards plan, like Schwarzenegger’s, imposes “community rating” on insurers, basically requiring them to sell insurance to everyone at the same price.

Many other people are uninsured because they simply can’t afford the cost. So the Edwards plan, again like other proposals, offers financial aid to help lower-income families buy insurance. To pay for this aid, he proposes rolling back tax cuts for households with incomes over $200,000 a year.

Finally, some people try to save money by going without coverage, so if they get sick they end up in emergency rooms at public expense. Like other plans, the Edwards plan would “require all American residents to get insurance,” and would require that all employers either provide insurance to their workers or pay a percentage of their payrolls into a government fund used to buy insurance.

But Mr. Edwards goes two steps further.

People who don’t get insurance from their employers wouldn’t have to deal individually with insurance companies: they’d purchase insurance through “Health Markets”: government-run bodies negotiating with insurance companies on the public’s behalf. People would, in effect, be buying insurance from the government, with only the business of paying medical bills — not the function of granting insurance in the first place — outsourced to private insurers.

Why is this such a good idea? As the Edwards press release points out, marketing and underwriting — the process of screening out high-risk clients — are responsible for two-thirds of insurance companies’ overhead. With insurers selling to government-run Health Markets, not directly to individuals, most of these expenses should go away, making insurance considerably cheaper.

Better still, “Health Markets,” the press release says, “will offer a choice between private insurers and a public insurance plan modeled after Medicare.” This would offer a crucial degree of competition. The public insurance plan would almost certainly be cheaper than anything the private sector offers right now — after all, Medicare has very low overhead. Private insurers would either have to match the public plan’s low premiums, or lose the competition.

And Mr. Edwards is O.K. with that. “Over time,” the press release says, “the system may evolve toward a single-payer approach if individuals and businesses prefer the public plan.”

So this is a smart, serious proposal. It addresses both the problem of the uninsured and the waste and inefficiency of our fragmented insurance system. And every candidate should be pressed to come up with something comparable.

Yes, that includes Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. So far, all we have from Mr. Obama is inspiring rhetoric about universal care — that’s great, but how do we get there? And how do we know whether Mrs. Clinton, who says that she’s “not ready to be specific,” and that she wants to “build the consensus first,” will really be willing to take on this issue again?

Yes, since then, Hillary has come out with a plan that looks largely similar to Edwards' plan.

Bruins are Ready for 2008

In case you missed it, the Daily Bruin ran a piece about the presidential candidate groups sprouting across campus. It's definitely worth the two-minutes it takes to read.

I'm not posting this article because I'm quoted in it, but rather because it introduces the players in the 2008 primary campaign here at UCLA. The cast includes Bruins for Hillary, Bruins for Obama (my personal favorite), Bruins for Kucinich, and, of course, Ron Paul 2008 (perhaps they decided against a "Bruins for" moniker because they disdain government involvement in public education?).

Many students berate the Daily Bruin -- in a lot of cases, rightfully so -- but it's good to know that they have their eye on the ball as far as the upcoming primary is concerned. Writers Ravi Doshi and Tessa McClellan told me that the paper is creating a specific "beat" for the 2008 primary contest. Now, that's good news.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rudy and 9/11

Funniest. Video. Ever.

It's near the end, starting at the 4-minute mark. Jon Stewart ponders what Rudy's dream may be.

Love Letters: Bruin Republicans on Islamo-Fascism

In response to the Bruin Republican's Islamofascism awareness week we here at the Bruin Democrats wrote letters condemning the week as intolerant and debasing the political dialogue at UCLA. Members' letters attacked the lack of nuance the Bruin Republicans approached their "awareness" campaign with and their tacky and offensive initiative trying to force the MSA into condemning terrorism.

Recently, we received letters back. While response letters failed at any attempt at enlightened political discourse, some were kind of funny in regards to just how ridiculous or off base they were. Some were pretty clever in their own right.

For your viewing pleasure, I present the cream of the crop:

If you'd like to discuss Islamofascism and all it's problems just comment here or e-mail us!

NM-Sen: Udall in!

Exciting news (from last week) in the Senate race. So you know how I had New Mexico as a Tier III race? Well, that all changed when Sen. Pete Domenici (R) announced his retirement.

And while the Draft Gore movement didn't seem to work, the Draft Udall movement did, and Rep. Tom Udall (D) is going to run for Domenici's seat! Now, his cousin Mark Udall (D) is already running for Senate in Colorado to replace the retiring Wayne Allard (R), and conventional wisdom would indicate Mark has the edge in that race. So we may see the two cousins in the Senate come 2009!

The Udall family is one of the staunchest environmental families in America. Tom's father Stewart Udall was JFK's Interior Secretary, and he was basically responsible for all the groundbreaking environmental legislation we have today. He was like the Al Gore of the 1960s in protecting the environment.

(In an ironic twist, we're working to defeat another cousin of the Udalls, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR). Yep, Smith is their cousin currently serving in the Senate. He helped Dick Cheney violate the Endangered Species Act in 2001, which resulted in the largest fish-kill in Oregon history. Way to jeopardize the ecosystem there, Smith.)

Anyway, with all three New Mexico House members now running for this Senate seat, two polls done last week show Udall with a commanding lead over either Heather Wilson (R) or Steve Pearce (R).

Research 2000:

Udall (D): 55
Wilson (R): 38

Udall (D): 54
Pearce (R): 37


Udall (D): 55
Pearce (R): 37

Udall (D): 56
Wilson (R): 38

So suddenly, the New Mexico Senate race has become a Tier I race.

BTW, former Senator Bob Kerrey (D) has said he will not run in Nebraska for his old seat, so that falls from Tier IA all the way back down to a Tier III race, though there's now a Draft Kleeb movement to get the ladies' favorite, Scott Kleeb (D), into the race.

Part 1: The Democrats' Da Vinci Code

David Sirota is the author of last year's New York Times bestseller Hostile Takeover.

He's worked on the campaigns for both Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I) and Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer (D). So he knows how to WIN in red areas, unlike, say, someone like Bob Shrum, who only knows how to LOSE the South in presidential elections (8 of them, in fact). Sirota is not your typical inside-the-Beltway consultant. So when he speaks, it would behoove us to listen.

To that end, one of the most important things he's ever written was a piece called The Democrats' Da Vinci Code back in December 2004. Remember, at that time, we were all still in a state of depression over Kerry's loss to Bush. Our Senate leader, Tom Daschle (SD), had been taken down. We lost several more House seats, and four overall Senate seats. Each party picked up two of the other's governorships. Things were looking very bleak.

And yet despite the national losses for the party, Sirota shows that across the country, there were quite a few Democrats that bucked the national trend, winning races in "red" districts and states. How did they do it? Sirota finds a common theme.

The answers to these and other questions are the Democrats’ very own Da Vinci Code — a road map to political divinity. It is the path Karl Rove fears. He knows his GOP is vulnerable to Democrats who finally follow leaders who have translated a populist economic agenda into powerful cultural and values messages. It also threatens groups like the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), which has pushed the Democratic Party to give up on its working-class roots and embrace big business’ agenda. These New Democrats, backed by huge corporate contributions, say that the party must reduce corporate regulation and embrace a free-trade policy that is wiping out local economies throughout the heartland. They have the nerve to call this agenda “centrist” even though poll after poll shows it is far out of the mainstream. Yet these centrists get slaughtered at the ballot box, and their counterparts — the progressive economic populists — are racking up wins and relegating the DLC argument to the scrap heap.

Progressive economic populism.

That's what gave us victories and brought us people like Colorado Senator Ken Salazar, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer (in a state where Kerry couldn't even get 39% of the vote), and South Dakota Rep. Stephanie Herseth (Kerry did worse here than in Montana). It's what got people like North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan and Congressmen David Obey (WI), Bernie Sanders (VT, and a socialist!), Mike Michaud (ME), Ted Strickland (OH), Tim Holden (PA), Peter DeFazio (OR), and Gene Taylor (MS) consistently elected in GOP-leaning districts. This works in the red areas of blue states, and works in the red areas of red states.

Sirota also shows examples of the "corporate Democrat" and the DLC-backed Democrat losing key Senate races. John Edwards won his Senate seat in the first place with a healthy dose of economic populism. Even with him on the Presidential ticket that year, Erskine Bowles (D) lost to Richard Burr (R) in part due to Bowles being the free trade architect of the Clinton years. In Louisiana, John Breaux's annointed replacement Chris John (D) lost handily to moral crusader David Vitter (R), who we now know as a diaper dandy.

Now keep in mind he wrote all this in December 2004. If anything, the 2006 elections proved Sirota even more right. In Part 2, I'll pick up where he left off, looking at some of the key races Democrats won and lost in 2006. Some of the names mentioned above play key roles here again.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Serious People Think Dennis Kucinich/Ronald Reagan/Jimmy Carter Were Onto Something...

Former pilots and officials call for new U.S. UFO probe

An international panel of two dozen former pilots and government officials called on the U.S. government on Monday to reopen its generation-old UFO investigation as a matter of safety and security given continuing reports about flying discs, glowing spheres and other strange sightings.

"Especially after the attacks of 9/11, it is no longer satisfactory to ignore radar returns ... which cannot be associated with performances of existing aircraft and helicopters," they said in a statement released at a news conference.

The panelists from seven countries, including former senior military officers, said they had each seen a UFO or conducted an official investigation into UFO phenomena.

These are not tin-foil hat wearing technogeeks, these are serious former pilots and government officials. How is it that after 9/11, we can be satisfied with getting many radar returns of objects, and yet have absolutely no idea what they are? How is it that we can have hundreds of sightings - some videotaped over major American cities, and yet not be worried...or even slightly curious? Incidents are happily ignored, or laughed off with little green men jokes.

But is it not our position as liberals to be open-minded? To search for truth? Why admonish and ostracize those who claim to have seen UFOs? Not all of them are Indiana hicks:

Former presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter are both reported to have claimed UFO sightings.

This is not only an issue of national security, but also fundamental scientific and human curiosity.

Why not reopen the files? The truth, after all, is out there.

Huckabee Surging

This warrants a flashing siren - and Drudge provides it.

Poll from CBS to be released Wednesday of GOP Contest in Iowa:

IOWA: Romney 27; Huckabee 21; Giuliani 15; Thompson 9

It appears that the media has found their golden boy - and the Kossacks' worst nightmare.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Jefferson-Jackson dinner speeches

(h/t to Raising Kaine for the videos)

So on Saturday night, the main Democratic candidates were at Iowa's Jefferson-Jackson dinner, a huge event for the Iowa Democratic Party. Here are the video clips of their speeches, as much as could be found. They are in the same order as how the candidates spoke.




(Intermission with Rep. Leonard Boswell acting as auctioneer in auctioning off some items, including Nancy Pelosi's scarf.)


End of Hillary's speech (this was all her campaign put online):


Person of the Week

As a self annointed judge of good deed and character, I have decided to bestow the coveted "Pour-Ghasemi's Person of the Week" (i ran out of alliteration) Award upon.....King Juan Carlos of Spain! Despite not doing a single thing I have deemed worthy of recognition since that brief run of their's in the 1500's, the larger Iberian nation has finally done something I can approve of. King Juan Carlos told Hugo Chavez to shut up. King Juan Carlos told Hugo Chavez to shut up! That just felt so good typing, I had to put it in there twice. Here is the full article on the bbc. I had to outsource my news source because cnn only runs stories about the first lesbian couple being eliminated on the amazing race and a deer leaping into a polar bear exhibit. Anyways, Hugo was blustering on and on at the Ibero-American summit in Chile and referred to Spain's former prime minister, Aznar, a conservative, as a "fascist" during his speech. When Spain's current Prime Minister (a socialist) defended Aznar, Chavez tried to interrupt, despite his mic being turned off (wish that would happen more often). King Juan Carlos, aka Captain Awesome, then said to Chavez "Why don't you shut up?" Moreover, he used a familiar term used only for close friends (obviously they're not) and children (hahahahahhahaa pwn). Hugocito then got all pissy and used Nicarauguan President Daniel Ortega's alloted speaking time to issue his retort. I'm so glad that someone is standing up to Chavez, albeit in a small way. Carlos' command is indicative of the opinion of most of the world and its about time Chavez heard it. So props to you King Juan Carlos. You are my person of the week. Bada bing bada boom.

Hillary plants questions at Iowa forum.

''This is not standard policy and will not be repeated again,'' the campaign said in a statement issued Friday night. Clinton herself did not know when she called on the student that the question had been suggested by one of her staff, the campaign said.

''The senator had no idea,'' Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee told the Associated Press.

Is it me , or is this disturbing on more than one level? She had no idea! If she doesn't know what is going on in her campaign, how can we trust her to know what is going on as the chief executive of the United States? I think the federal government is a tad bigger than her campaign staff. Maybe Clinton does want start a conversation with the nation, unfortunately it is more of a monologue.

Carbs <3 Huckabee

A slightly....rotund Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee might be a bit closer to our positions on government.

Taken from Drudge's page today: Whatever taxes you pass, you will have nothing but my profound thanks

Hillary is so Scary...American Flags Jump Out of Her Way

This is on the very tip-top of the Drudge Report's page, if you can believe it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Regarding UFOs

So I finally took the time to vote in the UFO poll, only to see that quite a few people have voted that they do not exist. Now, not to sound like an asshole, but how can that be? UFO means Unexplained Flying Object, so if anyone saw anything they couldn't explain, it would be a(n) UFO. This doesn't mean it has to be an alien starship, but perhaps it was a kind of bird you'd never seen before?

As far as aliens go, though, I think claiming they do not exist would be a legitimate claim. I may be a bit of a closet trekkie (hell, I used to wake up at like 5am to watch it on Maine Public Access TV when I was in elementary school), but regardless of any cool fantasies, it seems to me that if the universe is as infinitively large as it is, it would only make sense that life of some sort could have evolved elsewhere. Or are we no better than the philosophers of old who thought it would only make sense for Earth to be the center of the universe? What makes US so special?

Gabe, hope this makes you happy! I haven't bashed any 08 candidates in this post. :)

I'm just sayin...

Seeing as we're all Democrats, maybe we could stop using this blog primarily as a tool to push our favorite candidate? I've probably been guilty of it in the past, but it seems like thats all it's being used for nowadays. I mean, I'm not sure the last time I read a post from Kyle that didn't bash Obama, or Sean that didn't show some poll proving why Edwards will win the nomination (in fairness, I'm sure us Obama-ites are guilty of it as well). OK, I'm exaggerating for dramatic effect, but I do feel like we're all getting a little caught up in the media frenzy surrounding the impending election, and we should all try to break out of it a little bit. There are still like, issues our country is facing, and Republicans trying to fuck it up.

So whata you say? You guys with me? Let's try to keep shit a little more constructive and save the fellow-Dem-hating for other forums?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Courage over caution: Caucus4Priorities endorses Edwards

Edwards Picked Over Obama as 'The Un-Hillary'

Caucus4Priorities, a group seeking to redirect spending from the Pentagon to domestic needs, plans to endorse John Edwards Friday in Des Moines.

The decision to endorse Edwards over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama came down to "courage versus caution," according to the group's executive director.

"There's a rhetoric gap with Obama," executive director Peggy Huppert told ABC News. "He told me personally: 'Trust me. Ideologically, I'm with you.' But people have told him to be afraid of being pushed too far to the left. He doesn't bring up [cuts in Pentagon spending] on his own. He doesn't incorporate it into his speeches. He skirts around it. He talks around the edges. He never gets to the heart of it in strong, bold language."

Edwards, by contrast, won over the group with his harder edge.

He impressed the group on Oct. 26 when he demonstrated during an Iowa town-hall meeting that he would not back down in the face of Republican attacks. The day before, during an interview with a conservative talk-show host, Giuliani said that Democratic support for lower Pentagon spending showed a lack of concern for what Giuliani calls "the terrorists' war on us."

"Edwards gave an excellent answer," said Huppert. "He said we have to stop buying into their frame which equates spending money on the Pentagon with keeping us safe. He also said we can't have a Democratic candidate who cowers and runs away from this issue."

"For whatever reason," she said, "John Edwards has decided he is going to take this on and he has staked out the position quite convincingly of being the un-Hillary."

Although Clinton filled out the group's detailed policy questionnaire, she was not among the final two candidates under consideration for the endorsement.

"She didn't answer any questions 'yes' or 'no,'" said Huppert. "She has a refusal to commit to anything."


The overriding goal of Caucus4Priorities, a group whose logo is a pie chart showing how Pentagon spending dwarfs domestic discretionary spending, is to redirect $60 billion in federal funds away from the Pentagon and toward education, health care, energy independence, job training and deficit reduction.

Its endorsement was coveted by the Democratic presidential hopefuls, all of who filled out the group's questionnaire, because it has found 10,000 Iowans who have signed a nonbinding pledge to caucus on behalf of the candidate endorsed by the organization.

"We're not going to change people's minds," said Huppert, referring to people who have decided to support someone other than Edwards since filling out a Caucus4Priorities pledge card. "But we hope to shore up support for Edwards and to be a tipping point for people who are still undecided."

The names given by 28 percent of the 10,000 "pledgers" are exact matches with Iowans who have participated in previous Democratic caucuses.

This group is the Iowa arm of the Priorities Action Fund.

"We have lots of friends in this race but only one champion," wrote Ben Cohen, creator of Priorities Action Fund and the founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. "Without question, John Edwards is the most committed and best prepared to bring about the kind of real change Washington desperately needs. John Edwards is uniquely qualified to take on Washington lobbyists and defense contractors and break the stranglehold they have on the nation's pocketbook and reins of power." The group took into account electability, a questionnaire, and an online poll of the 10,000 pledges.

You know Ben & Jerry's, the ice cream brand where Stephen Colbert has his own flavor, the Americone Dream.

Oh, and since we had the EMILY's List training a few weeks ago, I thought I'd throw this out there too. Kate Michelman, the President of NARAL for 20 years, retired from her position at NARAL to become a senior adviser to the Edwards campaign.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Youth Vote

Some new numbers are out outlining where America's young Democrats are flocking to.

Have a great weekend everyone, go UCLA!

I feel like I clog up the blog a lot...but people need to vote in the UFO poll!


And It Turns Ageist

It is sad that of the few acceptable forms of discrimination left in America, Barack Obama has hit on two of them in less than two weeks time. I know folks laugh when, as a gerontology minor, I bring up ageism from time to time. But it is important to remember that ageism can be just as damaging as any other form of discrimation or stereotyping.

Ultimately, stereotypes are dehumanizing and promote one-dimensional thinking about others. Elders are not seen as human beings but as objects who, therefore, can be more easily denied opportunities and rights. For example, elders are frequently misdiagnosed or denied medical treatment because they are seen as "old" and, therefore, incurable. Elders are also frequently denied employment or promotion opportunities because they are "old" and less productive. Such discrimination is also evident on the social policy level where the elderly are blamed for having medical problems and consuming public resources rather than seeing them as having human needs requiring appropriate social responses. Seeing people as objects also increases the likelihood that they may be subjected to abuse and other cruel treatment.

A final consequence of ageism is that by devaluing this segment of the population, a vital human resource is lost. This is contrary to many American values which entail respect for human worth and dignity. Cumulatively, the elderly represent a vast amount of experience, skill, and knowledge which this country needs to remain strong and true to its ideals.

Obviously I don't think he's a bigot, but this casts serious doubt on his ability to 'unite the country' if he's going to continue tossing under the bus nearly half of America's voters. At least they'll have company with the gay folks under there...

And speaking of gay folks, let the flaming begin!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Olbermann on Mukasey and waterboarding

A must-see, again. Keith speaks for true Americans.

And Dianne Feinstein needs to retire. She's now one of the "torture Dems" by allowing this to happen.

"Obama supporters pressed officials to keep Colbert off ballot"

I love how the Obama people had their panties in a bunch over a JOKE candidate campaigning in ONE state. Guess it's lucky for them that, due to the strike, the show isn't producing new episodes - Colbert would absolutely nail them for this headline.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

SNL opening sketch

Some of you will absolutely love this sketch. Others won't, as much. This is the opening bit from last night's Saturday Night Live.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Andrew Sullivan Tells Us what 2008 is About

It has been quite a while since I posted on the Bruin Democrats blog. I'm sure our readers are relieved to know that I am, in fact, still alive. Midterms and other commitments have not yet buried me.

I want to share an intriguing piece on Barack Obama written by conservative (note the small "c") Andrew Sullivan. For those of you who don't know, Sullivan is one of the more interesting intellectuals of our time. In the past couple years or so, he has undergone a transformation from one of the Iraq war's most vocal supporters into one of the its most vocal opponents. And, yes, as mentioned a few sentences ago, he identifies as a conservative. Nonetheless, he is still one of Barack Obama's most significant supporters in the blogosphere.

His latest piece on Obama -- which appears in The Atlantic -- discusses how an Obama presidency has the potential to actually build the bridge to the 21st century that President Clinton talked about in his second term. Rather than emphasizing Obama's position on ending the war in Iraq, Sullivan emphasizes Obama's position on ending the culture war. It's a lengthy, but incredible article. I have selected some money quotes for Bruin Democrats' reading pleasure:

"This is the critical context for the election of 2008. It is an election that holds the potential not merely to intensify this cycle of division but to bequeath it to a new generation, one marked by a new war that need not be—that should not be—seen as another Vietnam. A Giuliani-Clinton matchup, favored by the media elite, is a classic intragenerational struggle—with two deeply divisive and ruthless personalities ready to go to the brink. Giuliani represents that Nixonian disgust with anyone asking questions about, let alone actively protesting, a war. Clinton will always be, in the minds of so many, the young woman who gave the commencement address at Wellesley, who sat in on the Nixon implosion and who once disdained baking cookies. For some, her husband will always be the draft dodger who smoked pot and wouldn’t admit it. And however hard she tries, there is nothing Hillary Clinton can do about it. She and Giuliani are conscripts in their generation’s war. To their respective sides, they are war heroes."

"Consider this hypothetical. It’s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can."

"He is among the first Democrats in a generation not to be afraid or ashamed of what they actually believe, which also gives them more freedom to move pragmatically to the right, if necessary. He does not smell, as Clinton does, of political fear."

"Obama’s racial journey makes this kind of both/and politics something more than a matter of political compromise. The paradox of his candidacy is that, as potentially the first African American president in a country founded on slavery, he has taken pains to downplay the racial catharsis his candidacy implies. He knows race is important, and yet he knows that it turns destructive if it becomes the only important thing. In this he again subverts a Boomer paradigm, of black victimology or black conservatism. He is neither Al Sharpton nor Clarence Thomas; neither Julian Bond nor Colin Powell. Nor is he a post-racial figure like Tiger Woods, insofar as he has spent his life trying to reconnect with a black identity his childhood never gave him. Equally, he cannot be a Jesse Jackson. His white mother brought him up to be someone else."

"At a time when America’s estrangement from the world risks tipping into dangerous imbalance, when a country at war with lethal enemies is also increasingly at war with itself, when humankind’s spiritual yearnings veer between an excess of certainty and an inability to believe anything at all, and when sectarian and racial divides seem as intractable as ever, a man who is a bridge between these worlds may be indispensable."