Sunday, September 30, 2007

SurveyUSA: Hillary dominates in California general

(originally posted on DailyKos)

As with my previous post on the SurveyUSA numbers, they've now come out with numbers for the general election here in California.

For each GOP candidate, in the margin column I've bolded the race that would give us the best margin of victory. I've also made graphs comparing the margins of victory, cuz I know how you guys just love graphs. It's always nice to have a visual comparison. :-)

California:

GENERALELECTIONMATCH-UPS
DemocratRepublicanMargin
Clinton 57%Giuliani 37%Win by 20%
Obama 48%Giuliani 44%Win by 4%
Edwards 46%Giuliani 44%Win by 2%
Clinton 60%Thompson 34%Win by 26%
Obama 53%Thompson 37%Win by 16%
Edwards 53%Thompson 32%Win by 21%
Clinton 63%Romney 30%Win by 33%
Obama 51%Romney 36%Win by 15%
Edwards 58%Romney 27%Win by 31%




California's a wacky state. This is the ONLY state out of every single one surveyed by SurveyUSA so far that shows Hillary doing the best against all three GOP candidates. What can I say, we like celebrity (see: Arnold Schwarzenegger), and the Clintons are celebrities in California. We're wacky that way. And oh, the leads Hillary has. Why? Look at the cross-tabs, she cleans up on the Independent vote, consistently getting over 50% of them to vote for her. Meanwhile, Obama loses it each time to the GOP nominee, never even breaking the 40% mark. Edwards is a mixed bag; he loses the Independent vote to Rudy, but wins it against Thompson (barely) and Romney (by a lot).

Edwards actually gets the most crossover support from Republicans when matched against Rudy, so why is his margin the smallest there? Because Hillary keeps the Democrats in line, with few crossing over. A whopping 24% of Democrats would vote for Rudy over Obama or Edwards at this stage. I don't care, this is absolutely unacceptable. Who the hell are these Democrats?? Argh.

Now, if you consider Romney to be little more than "generic Republican" at this point in California, what accounts for Hillary and Edwards' 30%+ leads, when Obama only leads by 15%? The Democrats. Only 9% would cross over and vote for Romney when our nominee is either Hillary or Edwards. But with Obama, 18% of Democrats would rather vote for Romney (i.e., generic Republican). This is disconcerting, to say the least. Again, who the hell are these Democrats??? Also, both Hillary and Edwards win the Independents by double digits over Romney, while Obama actually loses their vote to Romney, 43%-36%.

What may be even more interesting is the age breakdown. Given that we always hear about how Obama energizes young people, these numbers come as a bit of a shock. Hillary wins the 18-34 age range over Rudy by a whopping 32%, while Rudy actually wins them over Obama (and Edwards too). All of our candidates win the youth vote over Thompson. But when it comes to Romney, another surprise comes. Hillary wins over young people by a ridiculous 72%-23% margin. Edwards wins them over by a not-as-ridiculous-but-still-ridiculous 61%-21% margin. But Obama can only get 44% of the youth vote to 43% for Romney. This defies all conventional wisdom about the race. Against the "generic Republican", Hillary and Edwards dominate the youth vote, but Obama barely scrapes by with an insignificant 1%.

Where have the Democrats gone?

There was a time when being a Democrat meant more than just watching primary debates, reading Politico, and finding yet one more fault in the rival party. There was a time when we cared about issues, not just as reasons to justify why we are Democrats, but because those issues were the reasons we are Democrats. There was a time where we were activists, outspoken about what we believed, unwilling to accept it without a fight, and unwilling to let politicking get in the way of our passions. Have these times passed?

I'm not saying there is something wrong with following the intricacies of America's political system, and I 100% believe that the Democratic party is the right party. I'm not advocating going Green or voting for Kucinich, even though I agree with him and what he stands for, because I think a vote for a solid, electable politician who can work with those who don't follow our same beliefs is better for the country.

But we need to get back to discussing the issues. For example, I am radically against the death penalty and think the fact that America is the only first world country that still engages in it is disgusting. The same for torture: why has the fact that we torture information out of criminals who are not necessarily tried in a court of law before being held indefinitely something that isn't discussed as much in the public sphere anymore? At our nations public schools, why is diversity continuing to dilute and why do textbook costs (and new editions so that we can't buy used) continue to rise? In the great healthcare debate, why is the focus more on the financial ability to provide it versus the fact that people living, both legally and illegally, in the world's richest country are receiving poor healthcare? Why do we continue to trash our environment, focusing on hot button issues like vehicle emissions allthewhile not bothering to walk a little more with that Snapple bottle in your hand to find a recycling can? I could go on...

I'm not saying that the world of politics isn't interesting, and I'm not saying we should forget about it and stand around picketing all day. But, as the future leaders of America in the best political party for our country, we need to never lose sight of why we are Democrats and what truly drives us. We can't forget that everyone in both America and the rest of the world are God's children, created equally and deserving of equal rights regardless of under what conditions they are born, and that we need to continue to fight the good fight and never give up.

Are you a 9/12 voter?

Thomas Friedman has a superb piece in the Sunday New York Times. Using a recent article from the Onion as a springboard, Friedman sharply criticizes Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani for his heavy use of 9/11 campaign imagery.

He argues that the next election is not about 9/11, but rather 9/12. In other words, the next election should be about the future, not the past.

Here are the proverbial money quotes:

"...9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again."

"Before 9/11, the world thought America’s slogan was: “Where anything is possible for anybody.” But that is not our global brand anymore. Our government has been exporting fear, not hope: “Give me your tired, your poor and your fingerprints.”"

"I just attended the China clean car conference, where Chinese automakers were boasting that their 2008 cars will meet “Euro 4” — European Union — emissions standards. We used to be the gold standard. We aren’t anymore."

"We can’t afford to keep being this stupid! We have got to get our groove back. We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy. Al Qaeda is about 9/11. We are about 9/12, we are about the Fourth of July — which is why I hope that anyone who runs on the 9/11 platform gets trounced."

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Obama Turns up the Heat (Can You Say "PWNAGE"?)

In the last Democratic primary debate, the pundits criticized Barack Obama for not turning up the heat as Hillary defended herself from the tough questions Tim Russert shot at her. Even the most fervent of the Obama faithful were a little disappointed by their candidates path of action (or perhaps more appropriately, non-action).

Then, this weekend, Bill Clinton used an interview with Al Hunt to claim that Obama is not seasoned enough to take office as president.

Obama responded to the charge by using Clinton's own 1992 campaign rhetoric against him.

Pulling the same line Clinton used to rebut George H.W. Bush's charges that he lacked experience, Barack declared that "The same old experience is not relevant. ... And you can have the right kind of experience and the wrong kind of experience." [ZING.]

But he didn't stop there. Obama proceeded to argue that "his background as a community organizer, lawyer, professor and state senator is more valuable than Hillary Clinton's experience ''working the system'' as first lady and in other roles." [ZANG.]

Ladies and gentleman, we actually have ourselves a contest now.

Some Politicians Do Have Balls

Here's a vid of the Mayor Jerry Sanders of San Diego flipping the script on his gay marriage position. Hopefully people on Capitol Hill will take something from this.


Affirmative Action

The New Affirmative Action
New York Times - September 30, 2007

Click here to read the article

Friday, September 28, 2007

Real Time With Bill Maher

FWIW, for those interested in going on Friday, October 12, they just announced some of the guests on for that day.

The View's Joy Behar
MSNBC's Tucker Carlson
ex-Mexican President Vincente Fox

and...

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman!

Quite the lineup. They didn't say which ones would be on the panel, versus appearing via satellite for an interview.

Update: Here's a clip from late August, when Maher went on The O'Reilly Factor and had his way with BillO. The second half gets into what Maher thinks about the presidential candidates on both sides. Check it out.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dirty tricks ballot initiative DOA?

Could it be? Is this just a ruse, or is it for real? The L.A. Times blog is reporting the dirty tricks ballot initiative designed to give the GOP 20 of our electoral votes has been pulled!!

Plagued by a lack of money, supporters of a statewide initiative drive to change the way California's 55 electoral votes are apportioned, first revealed here by Top of the Ticket in July, are pulling the plug on that effort.

In an exclusive report to appear on this website late tonight and in Friday's print editions, The Times' Dan Morain reports that the proposal to change the winner-take-all electoral vote allocation to one by congressional district is virtually dead with the resignation of key supporters, internal disputes and a lack of funds.

The reality is hundreds of thousands of signatures must be gathered by the end of November to get the measure on the June 2008 ballot.


If this is true, woo-hoo!!! But beware... they still could try to revive this later. They didn't seem to be able to get enough signatures for it to qualify for the June ballot, but for the November ballot........?

More commentary on DailyKos, Calitics, and an earlier piece from the New Yorker on just how dirty this trick was going to be. Looks like the revelations the other day that mysterious non-California donors connected to Rudy Giuliani were involved in this shenanigan was the final straw.

Who won yesterday's debate?

Here are some reactions about yesterday's debate.

Newsweek's Howard Fineman:

10:15 -- Could Hillary Clinton be any better prepared? Russert asks about Social Security financing; she knows that this is a topic Russert knows in his bones, and has talked about often. The debate briefly turns into Russert-Clinton, which is sort of a win for Clinton. She refuses to agree in advance to raise the payroll tax cap, currently at $97,500. That sounds statesmanlike but a little dodgy; Edwards then hits it out of the park, talking about a "protective zone" of income between $97,500 and $200,000. His proposals sounded carefully thought through—whether you agree with it or not—and was much more specific than what Obama had to say on the topic. Hillary is talking too much about what her "husband" did; she isn't being specific enough—Edwards wins the round.

10:30 -- With a half hour left I haven't seen Hillary lose this, even though her defense of Israel's attack on Syria didn't sit well with the crowd. From where I sit, Edwards has emerged so far the most forceful challenger to her (other than Tim Russert).

....

10:47 -- I gotta go back out to the Dartmouth Green for Hardball. I go with the tentative conclusion (unless something spectacular happens in the last 10 minutes) that Obama didn't do much for himself, that Hillary didn't hurt herself and that Edwards showed that if Obama isn't going to be the main challenger, he is ready to be.


The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder:

Edwards was Edwards on Centrum Silver: straightforward, confident, clear, knowledgeable, thoroughly encased in his own frame. Ying to the yang of both Obama and Clinton; If you’re new to nomination politics, then you’d think Edwards – and not Obama – was Hillary Clinton’s main foil. The war. Social Security. Health care. Campaign ethics. Clinton didn't take the punch, but she did move to dodge them, which is a victory for JRE.

....

The best answer of the night: one very prominent Republican said that Clinton gave it, when disagreeing with husband about a torture scenario – would she allow it if Al Q’s number three promised to reveal the location of a nuclear bomb.

Russert was sly, positing the scenario without identifying the author. Clinton took the bait. Russert revealed that the positor was William Jefferson Clinton. So “you disagree?” Russert asked. “Well he’s not standing here right now.”

Russert: “ So there is a disagreement?”

Clinton: “ Well, I’ll talk to him later.”

This Republican told me: “Best answer of the night. Smart and strong.”


Of course, as someone quipped, Hillary is running a good Republican campaign.

DailyKos post-debate straw poll:

Edwards 31%
Obama 20%
Hillary 13%
Kucinich 7%
Dodd 5%
Biden 4%
Gravel 3%
Richarson 3%
More than one of the above 4%
None of the above 6%

The key moment may have come with this answer highlighting the difference between Edwards and Hillary.

Cheesy Email of the Day

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Could he be More Shallow?

"I'm not beholden to any particular group for getting me into this race or for getting me elected. My family, that's the only one I'm really beholden to, they're the ones who let their inheritance slip away, dollar by dollar."
-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney

Wow. The Romney family is truly a model of sacrifice in the name of public service. Mitt's sons have not served in the military, but they have served their country by helping out his campaign. Now dad gives them another tip of the hat for putting their country first: they're letting him spend their inheritiance on running for president.

America owes the Romneys a big "thank you."

The United States cannot afford to have another president who is as clueless about national service as George W. Bush.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Let's Pre-Game for the BD Debate Watching Party

Today marks the beginning of another great year for Bruin Democrats. We're kicking things off with a debate watching party, so a little "pre-gaming" is necessary.

The New York Times ran a story today that really puts the debate in context. Since the media consensus is that Hillary is the frontrunner, we're all going to be on the edge of our seats waiting for the rest of the field to take a swipe at her.

The Times argues that Hillary's opponents still might hold-off an attack since a new poll today revealed that 55% of voters in New Hampshire still aren't solidly behind a candidate. This is great news for Edwards and Obama. Without that glimmer of hope, things would look pretty dismal for them right now. Hillary has 31% lead over Edwards and a 23% lead over Obama.

Nonetheless, it wouldn't be too surprising if Obama highlighted his differences with Hillary on Iraq in this debate. Next week, his campaign is staging rallies across the country to mark Obama's fifth year of opposition to the war. It's not implausible that he will use this debate as an opportunity to turn the media's attention his way.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New York Times Pegs Hillary as the Frontrunner

The Democratic primary is beginning to boil. As much as I hate using sports metaphors to sum up electoral politics, it is fair to say that it's a new game.

The debate over whether or not Hillary is truly the frontrunner has come to a close. Whether or not that's a good thing for Hillary is a different debate all together. In the past, early frontrunners have gone by the wayside in Democratic primaries. Then again, the candidate in this case is Hillary Clinton, not Howard Dean, Paul Tsongas, or Gary Hart.

More interesting than Hillary's undisputed rise is the political strategy behind the concession of the Edwards campaign. Senior Advisor Joe Trippi takes every chance he gets to call Clinton queen of the race. Of course, as Adam Nagourney points out in the article linked above, he is only eager to sing her praises because it brings Obama within striking distance of Edwards.

This presents a new, though certainly forseen, dynamic to the race: Edwards and Obama will battle each other over who gets to fight a war with Hillary in the end. My money is on Obama, but I'm a little biased.

John Lyman Talking Dirty (Tricks)

(h/t to Julia Rosen)

Bradley Whitford, aka Josh Lyman, is speaking out against the dirty GOP ballot initiative designed to steal California's electoral votes too.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Kleck Takes the GOP to Task

Bruin Democrats President Kyle Kleckner, a.k.a. "The Kleck," has an incredibly thoughtful article in the premier issue of the Daily Bruin. He has truly outdone himself this time. If I had to guess, he was probably up until 4 a.m. working out the kinks of this rhetorical masterpiece. For those of you who don't know, The Kleck is quite the perfectionist.

So read his scathing criticism of the underhanded GOP ballot initiative here. It's really an awesome read.

There are rumors that The Kleck's longtime friend Norman Hsu ghostwrote the article. These rumors are patently false. Anyone who speaks of such nonsense deserves a prompt punch in the mouth.

Columbia's President Lays the Smackdown!

After receiving a ton of criticism, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger delivered a blistering introduction of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Bollinger told Ahmadinejad that he exhibits "all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator." [PWNED]

This LA Times article notes that the "strident and personal nature of his attack on the president of Iran was startling."

Though it may have been a bit startling, it was certainly deserved. All I have to say is: Welcome to America, President Ahmadinejad! In a functioning republican democracy, the president must always answer tough questions, unless the question pertains to WMDs in Iraq, government wiretapping, the Katrina disaster, or the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. Questions from the legislature and the press may also be ignored. Everything else is fair game!

What Goes Around Comes Around

Paul Krugman has a great piece about the bitter dose of karma that Republicans have to swallow nearly forty years after Nixon took the presidency with his racist Southern strategy.

SurveyUSA: Edwards does best in swing & red states

(Also diaried on DailyKos here and here, with additional commentary.)

SurveyUSA finally came out with a new batch of state polls where they didn't just ask about Hillary Clinton, but about all three Democratic frontrunners, matched up against Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and Mitt Romney. They did not test John McCain, and given his Q3 numbers so far, that may have been for a reason. Finally, we can do a candidate comparison. The national comparison jamess did earlier this month was useful, but since the election is decided state by state, and not by national vote, these are much more informative.

The states surveyed were Ohio, Kansas, Kentucky, Alabama, Iowa, and Missouri. All states that voted for Bush in 2004, and all but Iowa also went for Bush in 2000. What happens in 2008?

For each GOP candidate, in the margin column I've bolded the race that would give us the best margin of victory, or at least the closest race when all our candidates would lose. Remember, Democrats aren't even supposed to be competitive in some of these states.

Ohio:

GENERALELECTIONMATCH-UPS
DemocratRepublicanMargin
Clinton 47%Giuliani 48%Lose by 1%
Obama 39%Giuliani 52%Lose by 13%
Edwards 47%Giuliani 48%Lose by 1%
Clinton 48%Thompson 47%Win by 1%
Obama 42%Thompson 50%Lose by 8%
Edwards 52%Thompson 43%Win by 9%
Clinton 52%Romney 42%Win by 10%
Obama 45%Romney 46%Lose by 1%
Edwards 56%Romney 36%Win by 20%




While everyone would lose to Rudy, the margins for Edwards against Thompson and Romney are amazing. He's well outside the margin of error in victory in those match-ups. Interesting that both he and Hillary would barely lose to Rudy 48%-47% here, but when matched up against Thompson or Romney, Edwards' leads over them are significantly greater than Hillary's leads over them.



Iowa:

GENERALELECTIONMATCH-UPS
DemocratRepublicanMargin
Clinton 50%Giuliani 42%Win by 8%
Obama 50%Giuliani 42%Win by 8%
Edwards 53%Giuliani 39%Win by 14%
Clinton 50%Thompson 44%Win by 6%
Obama 51%Thompson 41%Win by 10%
Edwards 54%Thompson 37%Win by 17%
Clinton 50%Romney 43%Win by 7%
Obama 51%Romney 41%Win by 10%
Edwards 54%Romney 38%Win by 16%




In a nutshell, we're taking Iowa back. This is the state that's been getting the most attention from candidates from both sides of the aisle. There shouldn't be name recognition problems with the frontrunners by now. We can clearly see here that any of our three Democratic frontrunners would easily win back Iowa. But the difference between winning by single digits versus winning by double digits can make a huge difference in downticket races. Wanna get rid of Steve King (IA-05) or Tom Latham (IA-04)? A Democrat at the top of the ticket who would win in a blowout would make their lives that much tougher.



Kansas:

GENERALELECTIONMATCH-UPS
DemocratRepublicanMargin
Clinton 40%Giuliani 52%Lose by 12%
Obama 40%Giuliani 51%Lose by 11%
Edwards 40%Giuliani 50%Lose by 10%
Clinton 40%Thompson 53%Lose by 13%
Obama 40%Thompson 50%Lose by 10%
Edwards 39%Thompson 46%Lose by 7%
Clinton 46%Romney 45%Win by 1%
Obama 47%Romney 41%Win by 6%
Edwards 48%Romney 34%Win by 14%




Democrats all have a very rough time in Kansas. Unless Mitt Romney is the candidate. Again, Edwards would crush Romney by double digits, when usually it's the Democrat that would lose by double digits here.



Kentucky:

GENERALELECTIONMATCH-UPS
DemocratRepublicanMargin
Clinton 41%Giuliani 51%Lose by 10%
Obama 36%Giuliani 54%Lose by 18%
Edwards 43%Giuliani 50%Lose by 7%
Clinton 45%Thompson 50%Lose by 5%
Obama 37%Thompson 54%Lose by 17%
Edwards 45%Thompson 44%Win by 1%
Clinton 46%Romney 46%Tie
Obama 43%Romney 45%Lose by 2%
Edwards 48%Romney 38%Win by 10%




This state is not kind to Obama. Hillary doesn't fare too well either. Again, the only sizable win for a Democrat is when Edwards is pitted against Romney.



Alabama:

GENERALELECTIONMATCH-UPS
DemocratRepublicanMargin
Clinton 41%Giuliani 52%Lose by 11%
Obama 32%Giuliani 59%Lose by 27%
Edwards 40%Giuliani 50%Lose by 10%
Clinton 41%Thompson 54%Lose by 13%
Obama 34%Thompson 60%Lose by 26%
Edwards 38%Thompson 50%Lose by 12%
Clinton 45%Romney 46%Lose by 1%
Obama 36%Romney 53%Lose by 17%
Edwards 45%Romney 39%Win by 6%




The only way we're winning Alabama is if Edwards is pitted against Romney. Otherwise, we can probably write it off. But hey, it is Alabama, after all. If we're actually competitive in Alabama, I don't think we have to worry too much about winning the Presidency. It would then be a matter of how big the electoral vote rout would be.



Missouri:

GENERALELECTIONMATCH-UPS
DemocratRepublicanMargin
Clinton 45%Giuliani 48%Lose by 3%
Obama 46%Giuliani 44%Win by 2%
Edwards 47%Giuliani 42%Win by 5%
Clinton 48%Thompson 45%Win by 3%
Obama 48%Thompson 45%Win by 3%
Edwards 50%Thompson 40%Win by 10%
Clinton 51%Romney 40%Win by 9%
Obama 51%Romney 40%Win by 9%
Edwards 56%Romney 32%Win by 24%




Hillary vs. Rudy seems to be the only way we can lose Missouri. Just think, Missouri swinging back to the blue column. The Romney numbers, especially, are truly staggering. Currently, Missouri's Congressional delegation has a 5-4 Republican majority. A solid win for the Democrat could again wash away one of those Republicans in the House.



So, the latest batch of SurveyUSA polls show that time after time again, Edwards performs best out of the three frontrunners in the head-to-head match-ups against the GOP frontrunners (sans McCain). And these differences cannot really be attributed to name recognition; Gallup showed that all three Democratic frontrunners have pretty high name recognition, though Hillary's is the highest. But Edwards and Obama are pretty much tied in name recognition.

Yes, these polls are just a snapshot in time, and things can change, but right now, it does seem there is a noticeable gap between Edwards and Hillary and Obama when it comes to who can win these states, or at least make them close races.

So in the final tally, when comparing one of the 18 possible match-ups against each of our frontrunners, how many would we win?

John Edwards: win 12, lose 6
Hillary Clinton: win 8, lose 9, tie 1
Barack Obama: win 7, lose 11

So, with these new numbers, let the "electability" arguments flare up once more.

(BTW, special treat if you click on the graphs themselves.)

Note: For all those who want to bash SurveyUSA as being unreliable, they were the most accurate polling firm in 2004 for the presidency. Nailed it 29 out of 30 times, with no bad misses, and with 18 of those polls being the CLOSEST out of ALL the major polling firms. Rasmussen came in second. Both these firms use recorded messages instead of a live operator asking these questions.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Quote of the Weekend

"We would certainly invite Hitler to speak."

-Columbia Dean answering criticism of Columbia's decision to allow Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a forum to speak on Columbia University's campus.

Now, I'm all for academic independence and the pursuit of dialogue - but Hitler? No really, HITLER?????

No WONDER conservative idealogues bash Ivy League schools and academia in general - you have douchebag Deans going on Fox news to invite HITLER to afternoon lectures!

Absolutely Disgusting.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Casinos and Governors

As the gubernatorial election in Kentucky approaches, the airwaves have been inundated with lots and lots of obnoxious commercials. The focal point of our election has become casino gambling. The Democratic challenger and current poll leader by almost 20 points(pick any poll you want, seriously), Steve Beshear, has said that he will allow a referendum to be put forth in order to allow the people of Kentucky to make the decision. Our current governor, Ernie Fletcher, both disagrees and misunderstands, as evidenced by his stupid commercial. Here it is. Please watch before reading further. Now after seeing that, and the tremendous logical chain of events that most certainly would have lead to her death, I feel compelled to share my gambling story. I had a harrowing 4 hour wait in the den of sin that is Amsterdam. I was wondering around aimlessly when suddenly a beacon of light caught my weary eyes. It was a flashing advertisement for the Holland Casino in the airport! The people in it were so happy and having so much fun, all the while waiting for their flight. "Amazing," I thought innocently to myself. Suddenly, two large, burly, and most assuredly evil casino employees emerged from a pit that suddenly arose from the depths of hell. The grabbed me and forced me into the casino and forced me to play. I had no say in the matter, they even took the money out of my wallet! I chose..eerrr was forced to play blackjack. I won some hands and lost some. After losing about 50 euros, i felt a twinge in my brain. "A blood clot, could it be?!", I thought to myself. Alas I did not listen and continued to play. I continued to lose and the twinge in my brain got stronger. It was exacerbated by the evil dealer laughing and wishing me better luck all the whilst flashing his horrid fangs and trying to conceal the horns that protruded out from his head with a bad comb over. Not to mention he was speaking Dutch, which is grating to the ears of a German speaking student who was being forced to play. Nevertheless, upon losing 100 euros, the blood clot in my head got stuck and I had an aneurysm. I passed out and almost died! All because of the casino, and not my own personal choices. Thankfully, governor Fletcher descended from the sky and saved me from the evil casino. Granted this story may not be true, but my point is that casinos are what you make of them and I think it's a perfectly good idea to let the people decide.

Hahaha

Can you picture this? Like seriously, wtf??

I guess he figures GOP primary voters won't be able to forgive a 3rd divorce- so he'll do whatever it takes to keep this one around.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Just a TAD Ironic

Never one to let a healthy dose of irony go unappreciated, I had to share this gem I pulled from the front page of Bill Richardson's website.

It appears that Bill Richardson (yes, the teddy-bear-like Bill Richardson) is on the crusade against America's obesity problem. Not only that, but RIGHT NEXT TO his exhortation to slim down is a youtube video highlighting his speech at Tom Harkin's steak fry. Yes, the same traditional steak fry that feeds hungry Iowans gobs of red meat and buttery bacon-laden potatoes.

Perhaps I'm just easily amused?

Stephen Colbert covers the dirty ballot initiative

We're hitting the big time! When Stephen Colbert mentions that dirty GOP trick here in California, the whole nation hears about it.



Crooks and Liars has a version you can download. The Comedy Central clip embedded here will expire in one month.

Oh, and Howard Dean was in San Francisco speaking out against it too, as even our presidential candidates are now condemning it as yet another dirty GOP trick.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force

Hillary Clinton Makes a Star Wars joke, nerds everywhere rejoice:

"Vice President Cheney came up to see the Republicans yesterday. You can always tell when the Republicans are getting restless, because the Vice President’s motorcade pulls into the Capitol, and Darth Vader emerges"


One less Rrrrrrrrr

The Dallas Morning News is reporting a state legislator is leaving the GOP and becoming a Democrat, the first time in quite a while in Texas.

State Rep. Kirk England, R-Grand Prairie, has scheduled a news conference at 10 a.m. Thursday to announce that he's switching to the Democratic Party.

"In December of 2005, when I filed to run for office, I made a promise to the hardworking families in our community to fight for our public schools, fight for affordable health care and to fight for them on pocketbook issues," Mr. England said in a statement. "After one session in the House, I found that the Republican leadership in Austin had no tolerance for the values and priorities of the folks I represent. That is why... I will announce my intention to seek re-election to the Texas House as a Democrat."

By late Wednesday afternoon, Democrats were already welcoming him to the party.

"Kirk will bring a different perspective," said state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas. "... He's trying to represent the views of his district."

The news of Mr. England's departure stunned Republican leaders.

Dallas County Republican Party Chairman Kenn George said Wednesday that Mr. England's move caught him by surprise.

"I hadn't heard about it at all," he said. "Needless to say, I'm disappointed."

....

Mr. England becomes the first Republican lawmaker in recent memory to become a Democrat. And his departure illustrates the changing political face of urban Texas counties where demographic shifts are creating opportunities for Democrats.

And though Mr. England's defection only mildly dents the Republican majority in the Texas House – it's currently 81-69 GOP – it signals that the Democratic strategy of targeting swing districts with vulnerable Republican incumbents is working.

"In the south, all the shifts have been in the other direction, said Southern Methodist University political scientist Matthew Wilson. "Ten or 15 years ago, Democrats were switching to the Republican Party and now there's a move back to parity or beyond parity.

"We're not going to see in the near future Democratic dominance like Republican dominance in the last 10 years, but certainly Democrats are becoming a lot more competitive in urban Texas areas. These are the building blocks of statewide competitiveness down the road."


Just this past year, we've seen several legislators switch to the Democratic Party in Kansas, Missouri, and Kentucky, and now Texas. More and more of the moderate Republicans are rejecting the Religious Right's agenda of forcing creationism down our throats in science classes, while neglecting people struggling to make ends meet.

Also, note that the current GOP advantage in the Texas state house is 81-69, soon to be 80-70 come tomorrow. After the Republicans won control of the state legislature in 2002 for the first time in 130 years, thanks to Tom DeLay's TRMPAC, they had a 88-62 advantage.

Burnt Orange Report has more on the significance of this switch. Welcome, Mr. England. :-)


Reminder: Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day.

By the way, the New York Times just Keeps on Giving

Let the New York Times lovefest continue! Paul Krugman has his own blog now. It's aptly called The Conscience of a Liberal. His first post was pretty interesting reading.

I know Bruinkid will appreciate it. Krugman's posts come complete with graphs and charts to demonstrate his argument. Then again, Bruinkid might also think that the columnist uses too few graphs and charts. ; )

Habeas Corpus, troop rest time killed by Republicans

Two bills were blocked by Senate Republicans, who again threatened the filibuster to demand 60 votes to pass it, instead of a simple majority, because they know they would lose if it came to a simple majority vote.

First up, restoring habeas corpus for even detainees, which was taken away in last year's abhorrent Military Commissions Act of 2006. It failed, 56-43. You can see the Roll Call vote here. Forget a "pre-9/11 mentality", this is a pre-1215 mentality. (Magna Carta, boys and girls.)

Even with 6 Republican votes, we didn't have enough. And if anyone was still unsure of where Joe Lieberman stands, he voted WITH 42 Republicans to kill it. America has been seen as the defender of human rights across the world. No more. Understand what this implies, from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT):

The sweep of this habeas provision goes far beyond the few hundred detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay, and it includes an estimated 12 million lawful permanent residents in the United States today. These are people who work and pay taxes, people who abide by our laws and should be entitled to fair treatment. Under this law, any of these people can be detained, forever, without any ability to challenge their detention in court.

This is wrong. It is unconstitutional. It is un-American.


The arguments against restoring habeas corpus are also ridiculous. John Kerry explained why last year.

Mr. President, a veteran of the Iraq War whom I know, Paul Rieckhoff, wrote something the other day that every Senator ought to think about as they wrestle with this bill.

He wrote that he was taught at Fort Benning, Georgia about the importance of the Geneva Conventions. He didn’t know what it meant until he arrived in Baghdad. Paul wrote,

America’s moral integrity was the single most important weapon my platoon had on the streets of Iraq. It saved innumerable lives, encouraged cooperation with our allies and deterred Iraqis from joining the growing insurgency. But those days are over. America’s moral standing has eroded, thanks to its flawed rationale for war and scandals like Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo and Haditha. The last thing we can afford now is to leave Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions open to reinterpretation, as President Bush proposed to do and can still do under the compromise bill that emerged last week.”


We each need to ask ourselves, in the rush to find a “compromise” we can all embrace, are we strengthening Americas’ moral authority or eroding it? Are we on the sides of the thousands of Paul Rieckhoffs in uniform today, or are we making their mission harder and even worse, putting them in greater danger if they are captured?

Paul writes eloquently,

“If America continues to erode the meaning of the Geneva Conventions, we will cede the ground upon which to prosecute dictators and warlords. We will also become unable to protect our troops if they are perceived as being no more bound by the rule of law than dictators and warlords themselves. The question facing America is not whether to continue fighting our enemies in Iraq and beyond but how to do it best. My soldiers and I learned the hard way that policy at the point of a gun cannot, by itself, create democracy. The success of America’s fight against terrorism depends more on the strength of its moral integrity than on troop numbers in Iraq or the flexibility of interrogation options.”


Mr. President, I wish I could say this compromise serves Americas’ moral mission and protects our troops. But it doesn’t. No eloquence we can bring to this debate can change what this bill fails to do.



The second thing was the Dwell Time Amendment put forth by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), former Secretary of the Navy under Reagan, and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE). Both are very decorated Vietnam vets. They understand the military and how it works. All this would require is that our troops get the same amount of time at home to rest and recover as the length of their deployment. We're sending troops back into the field with less and less recovery time, and it's putting a strain on our brave soldiers. This is unconscionable. As Webb wrote:

We will be offering an amendment that requires our troops have a 1:1 deployment-to-dwell ratio for active units and members. This is a minimum floor. The Department of Defense's historic policy and current goal is a ratio of 1:2. Currently, Army units are deployed for 15 months with 12 months at home. It is not unusual for Marines also to have less time at home than the length of their last deployment.

This amendment is vital to the continued morale and effectiveness of our Armed Forces, which are breaking under the strain of unprecedented long deployments in combat zones.




And while John McCain tried to claim Webb's amendment is unconstitutional, Webb told him to go read the actual Constitution to learn a thing or two.

Sadly, the Webb amendment also failed 56-44. Roll Call vote here. Again, 6 Republicans joined with all the Democrats, but it wasn't enough to get to that 60 mark to stop a filibuster threat. Lieberman, of course, voted with the other 43 Republicans (Saxby Chambliss of Georgia wasn't there for the habeas vote).

Senate Republicans today showed what they really think about the troops. "Support the troops", indeed. What a crock.

Why is it Democrats' Fault?

The senate refused to pass the the Webb-Hagel measure today. The measure sought to grant U.S. troops as much time at home as they spent in Iraq before being eligible for redeployment.

The New York Times reported the story under the headline "Democrats Fall Short in Vote on Home Leave for Troops," as though it reflects some sort of failure on senate Democrats. But the real failure here is on the part of senate Republicans (and Joe Lieberman). With the exceptions of Senators Chuck Hagel, Norm Coleman, John Sununu, Gordon Smith, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins, every Republican senator voted against the measure.

According to the Times, "Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, argued that it would hobble the president. “We have one commander in chief, and one only,” Mr. McCain said. The senator said the message he is getting from the troops in Iraq is simple: “Let us win.”"

Apparently, military families don't have a place in McCain's calculus, or the calculus of the vast majority of his party for that matter.

What a difference a few years makes..

Is anyone else on the verge of actually feeling bad for the GOP? Maybe its just the sympathetic bleeding heart liberal in me, but I almost just wanna step in, call the fight, let them up off the mat. Via Political Wire, it appears that "doomsday" meetings for the GOP members of Congress have become "boring." I can imagine its probably not much different than the Norte Dame locker room is starting to feel- c'mon coach, what do you want? It's hopeless. (Substitute Boehner for Charlie Weiss and I think the analogy works).

Just gotta be careful not to get cocky- remember, this was us less than 3 years ago, lost and without hope. Things can turn around in a heartbeat. But at least for now, it doesn't get much more one-sided than this.

America to the Rescue: Jon Stewart explains foreign policy

This clip really says it all about our foreign policy in the Middle East. Jon Stewart is able to cut through all the spin to get to the heart of the matter. The video will expire from Comedy Central (damn you, Viacom) on September 23, so make sure you watch it before then.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Yessssss!

The New York Times is taking down the paywall at midnight tonight! Woo! That means no more Times Select bullshit! It's about time!

If I were the Kleck, I would register right away.

The GOP Doesn't Care About Black People


The Republican presidential candidates are dropping like flies out of the scheduled PBS debate hosted by Tavis Smiley, that was to focus on African America Issues.




"There is a pattern here," Smiley told the Huffington Post. "When you tell every black and brown request that you get throughout the primary process that 'no, there's a scheduling problem.' That's a pattern... Are we really supposed to believe that all four of these guys couldn't make it because of scheduling?"
I guess old habits die hard.

Welcome To Irvine Prof. Chemerinski!

Monday Football Update (Tuesday Edition)


This weeks edition of the UCLA Football update was mysteriously lost, and so we will take this week off. See you next Monday after we meet Washington @ The Rose Bowl for a night game @ 7:15. It will be televised on FSN.

U. of Florida gets its own taser incident, with John Kerry

So John Kerry was speaking at the University of Florida on Monday when this student started asking why Kerry didn't challenge the 2004 election, brought up Greg Palast's book on how the election was stolen, and then crossed into tinfoil land by asking about Kerry being a member of Skull & Bones. Sheesh. What was he implying, that Kerry conspired to give the election to Bush? So then he gets dragged away by the cops and gets tasered in the back of the room.



Looks shocking, right? Well, this second (much shakier) video shows what happened in the minute leading up to that first one. Notice how the other people in the audience are even laughing at the student, and even applauding the cops when they physically remove him. Very reminiscent of our own Mostafa Tabatabainejad and his incident in Powell Library.



This video from the local NBC station shows what happened after he was escorted out of the hall. He starts raving about how the police are going to kill him, and asks for witnesses. Geez. Remind anyone else of that homeless LaRouchie guy?


Oh, and Mostafa, if you're reading this, you deserved to get your ass tasered for acting like a disruptive jerk who just wanted some attention so you could play the "racial profiling" card. No wonder your high-profile defense lawyer quit a mere six days after taking your case. He saw that you have no real case. I've heard from people who were there about what happened in the 10 minutes or so BEFORE the camera started recording. All they'll probably find is excessive use of force by the cops for the 4th and 5th taserings, but not the first couple. You deserved those.

And if anyone thought Mostafa had forgotten his student ID or something, you're wrong. He had it on him the entire time. He WANTED to make a scene in the library. He WANTED to cause a commotion. He made a damn mockery out of everyone who is truly fighting for the protection of our civil liberties.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Disturbing story on civil liberties in U.S.

The New York Times details the case of a British music scholar harassed by airport security and forbidden to enter the U.S.



Nalini Ghuman, an up-and-coming musicologist and expert on the British composer Edward Elgar, was stopped at the San Francisco airport in August last year and, without explanation, told that she was no longer allowed to enter the United States.

Her case has become a cause célèbre among musicologists and the subject of a protest campaign by the American Musicological Society and by academic leaders like Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College at Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., where Ms. Ghuman was to have participated last month in the Bard Music Festival, showcasing Elgar’s music.

But the door has remained closed to Ms. Ghuman, an assistant professor at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., who is British and who had lived, studied and worked in this country for 10 years before her abrupt exclusion.

The mystery of her case shows how difficult, if not impossible, it is to defend against such a decision once the secretive government process has been set in motion.

After a year of letters and inquiries, Ms. Ghuman and her Mills College lawyer have been unable to find out why her residency visa was suddenly revoked, or whether she was on some security watch list. Nor does she know whether her application for a new visa, pending since last October, is being stymied by the shadow of the same unspecified problem or mistake.

In a tearful telephone interview from her parents’ home in western Wales, Ms. Ghuman, 34, an Oxford graduate who earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, said she felt like a character in Kafka.

“I don’t know why it’s happened, what I’m accused of,” she said. “There’s no opportunity to defend myself. One is just completely powerless.”

Kelly Klundt, a spokeswoman for Customs and Border Protection in the Department of Homeland Security, said officers at San Francisco International Airport had no choice but to bar Ms. Ghuman because the State Department, at its discretion, had revoked her visa. The State Department would not discuss the case, citing the confidentiality of individual visa records.

Mr. Botstein, who wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the hope of having the visa problem resolved before the music festival, said Ms. Ghuman’s case is symptomatic. “This is an example of the xenophobia, incompetence, stupidity and then bureaucratic intransigence that we are up against,” he said, also citing the case of a teacher of Arabic at Bard who missed the first weeks of the spring semester this year because of visa problems. “What is at stake is America’s pre-eminence as a place of scholarship.”

....

Ms. Ghuman’s descent into the bureaucratic netherworld began on Aug. 8, 2006, when she and Mr. Flight returned to San Francisco from a research trip to Britain. Armed immigration officers met them at the airplane door and escorted Ms. Ghuman away.

In a written account of the next eight hours that she prepared for her lawyer, Ms. Ghuman said that officers tore up her H-1B visa, which was valid through May 2008, defaced her British passport, and seemed suspicious of everything from her music cassettes to the fact that she had listed Welsh as a language she speaks. A redacted government report about the episode obtained by her lawyer under the Freedom of Information Act erroneously described her as “Hispanic.”

Held incommunicado in a room in the airport, she was groped during a body search, she said, and was warned that if she moved, she would be considered to be attacking her armed female searcher. After questioning her for hours, the officers told her that she had been ruled inadmissible, she said, and threatened to transfer her to a detention center in Santa Clara, Calif., unless she left on a flight to London that night.

Outside, Mr. Flight made frantic calls for help. He said the British Consulate tried to get through to the immigration officials in charge, to no avail. And Ms. Ghuman said her demands to speak to the British consul were rebuffed.

“They told me I was nobody, I was nowhere and I had no rights,” she said. “For the first time, I understood what the deprivation of liberty means.”

....

Inquiries by Ms. Ghuman’s representative in Parliament and several members of Congress, including Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, have been to no avail, said Byron Adams, a professor of music at the University of California, Riverside, who said he had known Ms. Ghuman for years and respected her work.

“All of these people have gotten the runaround from the State Department,” Mr. Adams said.


Even Dick Durbin, the 2nd most powerful person in the Senate, cannot get answers from the State Department. There is no justification for how she was treated. By the way, I believe destroying government documents like a visa and defacing a passport is illegal. And yet, we still have conservatives claiming that everything's all hunky dory still, and who cares about those pesky civil liberties anyway? If someone doesn't find this story chilling to the bone, they'd probably feel more at home under an authoritarian regime than a democracy.

Another Richardson gaffe

I like the guy and think he's an excellent statesman, but geez, he can't be making these kinds of gaffes.

It seems Bill Richardson has no shortage of gaffes. Addressing SEIU today, Richardson thanked them for their applause: "Thank you, AFSCME!"

That's right, Richardson named the wrong union. And it gets worse. SEIU, unfortunately, is an organizational rival to AFSCME in many states, and SEIU's audience responded to Richardson's opening line by shouting, "S-E-I-U!"


Ouch. This is like if he had come here to speak to us, and then ended the speech by referring to us as the "USC Democrats". Not gonna go over well. Not at all.

Oh, and note the AP photo of the event when Chris Dodd spoke:



There's only, you know, TWO "SEIU" posters on the floor right in front of the lectern, not to mention the big "SEIU" purple banners hanging from the ceiling in the back. Oy. With this and saying that God intended Iowa to be first in the nation's primaries and that homosexuality is a choice.................

Sunday, September 16, 2007

What does UCLA have to do with Hillary's Latest Endorsements?

Michael Crowley offers some real top-notch campaign ’08 analysis on The Plank, which is where The New Republic “gets its blog on.”

I thought this post was particularly sharp. Ever wonder what the connection is between Hillary’s two latest endorsements from Wesley Clark and Magic Johnson? Well, UCLA has a little something do with it.

P.S. Tomorrow, or perhaps later tonight, I’m going to throw around the names Michael Crowley and Ryan Lizza in a post about what might be the beginning of a media reexamination of Hillary Clinton’s inevitability.

Controversy Comes to Westwood on Tuesday

If you happen to be in Westwood this Tuesday at 7 p.m., the Hammer Museum is hosting what promises to be a rather interesting forum.

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt--two of the foremost realist foreign policy scholars in academia--will be in town to discuss their controversial book The Israel Lobby. The book expands on the arguments they made in an article of the same name that appeared in the London Review of Books in 2006.

Some have praised their work, others have called them anti-semites. You should go judge for yourself.

Check out this interview with Mearsheimer and Walt on Foreign Policy's website for an introduction to the debate.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Chase Utley, UCLA and American hero

Phillies second baseman Chase Utley played college ball at UCLA. Now a contender for NL MVP, he also saves puppies in his spare time, has the ladies drooling over him (sorry ladies, he's married), and is now a committed environmentalist after seeing Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, and has even signed up to become a Stop Global Warming marcher.

Utley fights for the environment: Chase Utley's next goal -- after a winning a World Series -- is to make the world a cleaner place.

The All-Star second baseman was affected after seeing Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," and has become an advocate for stopping global warming. He joined an online movement to spread the word.

"Until I saw the movie, I never paid attention to it," Utley said. "It opened my eyes. We're not heading in the right direction as far as helping the environment. I'm trying to find ways to help, and trying to get people more aware. One person can't change it. I just hope to educate people a little bit."

....

For his part, Utley said he plans to buy a hybrid car that would get profoundly better gas mileage than the trucks owned by teammates Jon Lieber and Aaron Rowand. Lieber's custom-built Ford F-650 gets 12 miles per gallon.

"I don't think we're really on the same page," Utley said. "Maybe I'll show them the movie."


Yet another UCLA Bruin making us proud. :-)

Meanwhile, O.J. Simpson makes the news this week for his role in a robbery. Typical.

Another reason I hate 'SC

I know we Bruins are in no (and I do mean no) position to talk shit about college football today. But I'm going to anyways. This afternoon was an embarrassment for our team, our students, and our university. My only consolation is it wasn't a Pac 10 game. Which is not much consolation.

And even though 'SC beat the shit out of their (actually ranked) opponent, I still feel the need to talk some shit. If you go to that article, you find out that 'SC was penalized at one point for "disconcerting offensive signals." What the fuck is that?? It's only like a 5 yard penalty, but I think the point here is they find the most amazing ways to cheat, on a consistent basis. Whether its the illegal shit that went down w Reggie Bush, or committing penalties no one even knew existed (or, you know, OJ killing people, and then being invited back to their practices), these people have no shame. Which, is ultimately, why 13-9 had to happen, because eventually good must always prevail over evil.

I'm angry and upset, but I take solace in the fact that I attend the finest public university on the face of the earth, with a phenomenal family of fellow Bruins, and we will live to fight another day. Shit, we could have bigger problems than losing a football game.

Like paying $40k to go to a piece of shit school.

Go bruins.

UCI Law School Controversy Compiracy Theory

Just to continue this conversation I am having with myself regarding this matter. I think I have just stumbled across a conspiracy theory.

What does UCI and Chemerenski have to lose if he comes back as Dean? All they did was get national attention (although negative) onto their new law school. Now with the return of the exhiled law professor, the school now appears to be siding with faculty over community (positive press). Now it may be easier to recruit better faculty and students to the formerly unknown Donald Bren School of Law. Could this have been a staged plan from the beginning?

Believable?

I'll be hurt if no one judges my theory.

UCI Law School Controversy Update


The story came from LA Times. Supposedly UCI wants to rehire Chemerinski. Maybe there is still hope for the beautiful city of Irvine! Keep standing up to the OC right wing Irvine! Just like how your majority Democratic City Council has for years.

On a side note, our own LA County Supervisor Mike Antovich spoke on the matter saying...
Making Chemerinsky the head of the law school "would be like appointing al-Qaida in charge of homeland security,"
My thoughts exactly Supervisor.





Full discloser: I am from Orange County, and that means I (and I alone) am aloud to make fun of it.

He's Back................................



Just when you thought the GOP Clusterfuck to the nomination couldn't get any crazier, Alan Keyes (yes, ALAN KEYES), has decided to throw his hat into the ring.

Keyes told syndicated radio host Janet Parshall he's "unmoved" by the lack of moral courage shown by the other candidates, among whom he sees no standout who articulates the "key kernel of truth that must, with courage, be presented to our people."

He added, "The one thing I've always been called to do is to raise the standard ... of our allegiance to God and His authority that has been the foundation stone of our nation's life" – and he decried the lack of "forthright, clear, and clarion declaration" from the current crop of presidential contenders.



Get the popcorn, this is gonna get good.

Wesley Clark endorses...

Hillary Clinton. From WesPAC:

"Senator Hillary Clinton has earned the support of millions of Americans in her campaign for president -- and today I am pleased to count myself among them. The world has reached a critical point, and we need a leader in the White House with the courage, intelligence and humility to navigate through many troubling challenges to our security at home and abroad. I believe Senator Clinton is that leader, and I whole-heartedly endorse her for President of the United States. Senator Clinton and I share a worldview in which diplomacy is the best first-strike tool in our arsenal; in today's complicated global system, the United States should be making more friends than enemies."

Never before have so many Americans had our well-being so closely tied to world events. Our economic and national security has become more complicated than ever before, and we deserve a leader who draws on wisdom, compassion, intelligence and moral courage -- in short, we need Hillary Clinton. She is tough but fair, a rock-solid leader equal to the many weighty challenges ahead of us."


Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post has more analysis of this endorsement. As a Clarkie from 2004, I'm sad that this basically means Clark will not run himself.

Some Help From Magic

Though all the buzz in California was about the Oprah fundraiser for Obama, I think it was interesting that Magic Johnson held a fundraiser for Hillary "co-hosted by music industry heavyweights Quincy Jones, Berry Gordy and Clarence Avant. . . ."

The CNN article went on to note:

"The divided loyalties among blacks show "the community just isn't going to go lockstep behind any candidate, even a black one," said University of California, Los Angeles, political scientist Franklin D. Gilliam Jr . . . And independent polls in California suggest the black vote is divided,largely between Clinton and Obama."

I do not have firm loyalties to any candidate yet. However, having done fundraisers Hillary fundraisers for her 2006 Senate election with Johnson, Quincy Jones, et al, I do know that those guys bring with them a large network of black donors. I think the new dynamics of race, gender, and more make this race really exciting. And of course there was a UCLA quote, so had to put it up here.

A Late Night Blast From the Past

Below you'll find one of my favorite political moments ever. As a lot of you know, I am proudly BD's resident gerontology minor. Social Security is in my top three most-important issues. I remember watching this State of the Union back when it was on TV, and literally busting up in hysterical laughter and glee at the moment below.

Privatization of social security was one of my biggest policy nightmares, and the Democrats stood firm and resolute and beat back this horrible attempt to dismantle the most successful domestic program in United States history. It not only shows Democrats at their best, but also at their most witty and funny (and a nice shot of Hillary laughing, too). Watch:


Friday, September 14, 2007

Leave General Petraeus alone!!!!1!!1!!!



(If you've been living under a rock for the last week without any Internet, watch this, if you dare, for an understanding of why this video is so damn hilarious.)

Quite Possibly the Lamest Ad Ever

So the NRSC has wasted no time hootin' and hollerin' about former Governor and present Senate candidate Mark Warner. To show how serious they were in their opposition, they created this ridiculously moronic ad:

Why I love UCLA (Shakira edition)

So many reasons to love UCLA, I couldn't even begin to list them here. Maybe one day I'll do a post like Navid and make a similar list.

The AP just reported today that Shakira has been a UCLA student this summer, taking a course in ancient Western history! And the professor had no idea it was her the whole time!

For the past month, the Colombian pop star has been taking a class at the University of California, Los Angeles, called "Introduction to Western Civilization: Ancient Civilizations from Prehistory to Circa A.D. 843."

....

The class began Aug. 6 and ended Thursday, though Shakira didn't attended the last few classes, according to course lecturer Robert Cleve. Cleve said he hadn't known she was a celebrity during the course and was astonished to learn she was a pop star.

"She told me she was visiting from Colombia and that she was just doing this for her own enlightenment and enjoyment," Cleve said. "She looked like just an ordinary student. She wasn't flamboyant ... she didn't act like a big celebrity or anything."

Shakira, who sat near the front in the third row of the lecture hall, would often discuss the course material with him after class.

"I was really impressed with how intelligent she was," said Cleve.


Oh, UCLA. :-)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

California's Black Caucus Endorses Obama


With this and the $3.4 million Santa Barbara fundraiser/rally, is there still life in the Obama California campaign?

Why I Love America (the little reasons)

So this is my first blog post, on any blog of any sort. Woo, I think I will have some grape juice to celebrate. I realize that no one asked for my opinion, but I will share it anyway due to the fact that I have the right to freedom of expression (one big reason I love America). This is also my second time writing this because I somehow deleted it the first time. Well, I've done my fair share of travelling and I have most recently come back from Europe, where I spent most of my time in Germany. I noticed many differences between here and there and started to think of why I love America, which is a nice way of saying 'Why I think America is better.' So here are some of the little reasons:

1. Our money doesn't look like glorified monopoly money
2. I will never receive $3.94 (or euros in this respect) as a fist full of change, ahem 1 and 2 euro coins and lack of a quarter like coin
3. It can be 102 degrees outside, yet a comfortable 73 degrees inside due to the magnificence of AC, which also keeps my drink at a comfortable temperature even after the ice has melted
4. The aforementioned temperatures are quoted in Fahrenheit instead of Celsius, and the drink came with ice in it
5. The drink is also probably bigger than 0.2 liters, whatever a liter is
6. Free Refills!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111
7. When offered ketchup at McDonald's in a manner that implies it is free, I am not then charged for it (I'm looking at you The Dutch)
8. Our cars are better looking
9. Our gas isn't sold by the liter
10. We don't pretend that our national passenger rail system is cheap, easy or convenient
11. Our international country calling code is 001, yeaaaaaaaaaaaah
12. When asked why the USA gets to be 001, I can respond "because we invented the phone"
13. Our passports are blue
14. No one cares about soccer or rugby
15. We own the .gov domain and don't have to add .us or some other additive (example gov.uk or gov.au)
16. When asked why this is, I can say "Because Al Gore invented the Internet"
17. Coalition governments are horribly inefficient, in my opinion
18. We have Kentucky, So Cal is alright too

Well, this is all I have for now. I hope you enjoyed it.

Edwards buys media time after Bush's speech

So later today at 6pm L.A. time, Bush will deliver a speech where he "proposes" to withdraw 30,000 troops from Iraq, without mentioning their tours of duty were up anyway, and would HAVE to come home. It's like taking credit for gravity.

John Edwards has bought a 2-minute block of time on MSNBC to rebut Bush after his speech concludes.

"Unfortunately, the president is pressing on with the only strategy he's ever had — more time, more troops, and more war," Edwards says in the ad, according to excerpts provided by his campaign.

....

"Tell Congress you know the truth," Edwards says. "They have the power to end this war and you expect them to use it. When the president asks for more money and more time, Congress needs to tell him he only gets one choice — a firm timeline for withdrawal."


Look for it after Bush's speech ends around 6:15pm, on MSNBC. Oh, you might want to watch Keith Olbermann's show right before it too. He should have some *interesting* things to say about the upcoming speech. :-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

More on K. West's Graduation

Here's another excellent article from the Village Voice about Ye's new masterpiece. Check it out all you hip-hop fans and haters.

By the way, Kanye sold more albums than 50 Cent on Tuesday. With any luck, Fiddy will come through on his promise to retire if West outsells him in the first week.

C'mon UC Irvine!

Respected liberal constitutional scholar Edwin Chemerinsky was expected to be the dean of UC Irvine's new law school. However, UCI Chancellor Michael V. Drake reneged on the contract Chemerinsky signed with the school on August 16. Drake told the professor that he is too "politically controversial." Nevermind that Chemerinsky is considered to be one of the brightest legal minds in the United States. Some believe that the addition of Chemerinsky to UCI Law School would have propelled the institution to the forefront of legal academia.

I wonder what Aria Ghafari has to say about this?

Breaking News: Warner (Mark) to Run for VA Senate

This just in: Mark Warner, the toothy non-threateningly attractive former Virginia Governor, is set to announce his bid to replace Senator John Warner tomorrow.

Warner left office with a shocking 80% approval rating, and should easily coast to victory in Virginia barring any unforeseen circumstances.

His potential opponents include former VA Governor Jim Gilmore, the presidential candidate who know one had heard of, and some other n00b I'm too lazy to look up who doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell. Polls of the race have Warner crushing both candidates by more than twenty points.

A look at the 2008 Senate races, Part 3

(See Parts 1 and 2 for earlier installments.)

So today, I finally reveal the Tier I races, the top tier. These are the key races where party control may very well switch parties. #1 on the list is the seat most likely to change hands. And like most countdowns, we're doin' this in reverse order.

Tier I

7. South Dakota: Tim Johnson (D) had a very good week to begin September, making an emotional return to the Senate for the first time since suffering a brain hemorrhage back in December 2006. So far, his illness had made Republicans hesitant to challenge him. Governor Mike Rounds (R) would be a top challenger, but hasn’t made any indications that he will give up his governorship for the seat. State rep. Joel Dykstra (R) is the only announced candidate so far to challenge Johnson. And all indications currently point to Johnson seeking re-election. Should he not, two possible Democratic replacements are former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin.


6. Maine: Susan Collins (R) doesn’t have the stature that fellow Senator Olympia Snowe (R) has. Rep. Tom Allen (D) has announced his candidacy to challenge Collins. For some reason, nobody’s bothered to poll this matchup since late April. Joe Lieberman went to Maine in June to hold a fundraiser for Collins. Yeah, Lieberman. Well, MoveOn.org and the blogosphere responded with their own online fundraiser for Tom Allen, and ended up raising more money for Allen than Lieberman raised for Collins.


5. Louisiana: Mary Landrieu (D) is probably the most endangered Democratic incumbent in 2008. But how endangered that really is remains to be seen. She was able to win in 2002, a decidedly strong year for the GOP. Karl Rove was able to woo state treasurer John Kennedy (no relation to the Kennedy family in Massachusetts) to switch parties to run as a Republican for state treasurer for this November, and making it almost a certainty that he will challenge her in 2008. Party switching actually seems rather common in Louisiana. Landrieu’s most formidable challenger, however, is Bobby Jindal (R), who looks set to win the governorship this November. Louisiana, though, is about the only state trending red, thanks to hundreds of thousands of residents from New Orleans and the surrounding areas never coming back to the state after Hurricane Katrina.


4. Oregon: When activist Steve Novick (D) was the only announced candidate, this race seemed safer for Gordon Smith (R). Novick, after all, was born without fibulas or a left hand, and stands at 4’9” and has a hook on his left arm. But he made a name for himself at the Dept. of Justice, suing Superfund polluters, and led the Love Canal case on behalf of the government. But then, last month Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley (D) announced his candidacy. Merkley had been key in getting the Democrats the majority in the state house in the 2006 elections, and got the endorsements of current Governor Ted Kulongoski (D) and former Governor Barbara Roberts (D), the only female governor in Oregon history. Smith’s approvals have dropped significantly since the beginning of this year. A new development is that former NEA chairman and current Oregon State professor John Frohnmayer will likely enter the race... as an independent. He served under the first Bush as NEA chair, and is the brother of former Oregon Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer (R), who also used to be the University of Oregon’s president. It’s unclear if he could be a spoiler, and if so, even for which party he’d be a spoiler for. These factors make it hard to figure out where to rank this race, so I’m putting it right in the middle.


3. Minnesota: Norm Coleman (R) won this seat in 2002 only after Paul Wellstone (D) died just a few weeks before the election. Now, with Coleman still supporting Bush on Iraq, he may be committing political suicide. He’s drawn two top challengers in comedian Al Franken and lawyer Mike Ciresi. While Coleman looked safe earlier, the latest SurveyUSA poll shows both of them holding Coleman under the 50% mark. Given that little-known Jim Cohen even manages to hold him under 50% shows that he is in trouble. In July 2007, Coleman’s job approval fell into negative territory for the first time, which can’t be helping his chances. Rasmussen Reports has just released a poll also showing Coleman under 50%, with both Democrats now within the margin of error. Ciresi is known for his role in suing the tobacco companies for the state of Minnesota back in 1994, eventually winning a $6 billion settlement for Minnesota. Meanwhile, Al Franken actually outraised Coleman in the second quarter of fundraising, $1.9 million to $1.6 million, so he definitely looks financially competitive. Add to this mix Lt. Col. Joe Reypa (R), a pro-Iraq war activist who is considering challenging Coleman in the GOP primary because he feels Coleman isn’t conservative enough for Minnesota. Read this diary for a pretty detailed comparison of the Democratic candidates in this race.


2. Colorado: Wayne Allard (R) kept his pledge of only serving two terms, and is retiring from the Senate. Democrats have cleared the path for Mark Udall here. Yes, he is part of the famed Udall political family, his father Mo having run for President in 1976, and his uncle Stewart having served as Interior Secretary under JFK. He was largely responsible for just about all the environmental laws that were passed in the 1960s. On the GOP side, former Rep. Bob Schaffer is the likely nominee, after former Rep. Scott McInnis said he would not be running. Colorado has been trending bluer recently, picking up a Senate seat in 2004 (Ken Salazar), and a congressional district and the governor’s office in 2006. Schaffer had previously lost the GOP primary for that Senate seat back in 2004 to Pete Coors. Schaffer’s campaign released a poll showing him losing to Udall 45%-40%. When you’re of the incumbent party, and you’re releasing a poll showing you’re only down by 5 points, yeah, that’s not exactly a good sign. In addition, Udall is sitting on a $2.5 million warchest, while Schaffer has less than $700,000.


Which leaves the top race to....

1. New Hampshire: John Sununu (R) is about to become 2008’s version of Rick Santorum. Democrats could run a ham sandwich against him, and it would be a competitive race. No, really. A recent poll (.pdf) from the Universtiy of New Hampshire showed that if former Governor Jeanne Shaheen (D), who Sununu beat in 2002 thanks to some illegal phone-jamming on Election Day for which several GOP operatives went to prison, enters the race, she would crush him 54%-38%. She will announce her intentions later this month. A general rule of thumb: any incumbent polling under 50% in an election poll is in trouble. Under 40%, and you can start writing their political obituary. Even without Shaheen in the race, the other three lesser-known Democratic challengers who are in the race all hold Sununu under 45%. The ARG poll has even worse news for Sununu, showing him losing to Shaheen 57%-29%. I’ve never seen an incumbent poll below the 30% mark. Add to that the fact that New Hampshire strongly went blue in 2006 all over the place, and Sununu has to be considered the most endangered incumbent.


So there you have it, my personal rankings for the 2008 Senate races, as they stand in early September. Obviously, things can change quite a bit as different candidates jump in the races and others drop out. Some “dream” candidates won’t materialize, and some may materialize where nobody had suspected one would emerge. We won’t know what the national mood will be like 14 months from now. Still, given that, these are my picks, and I’m sticking with them... until my next update, at least. :-)

Discuss away.