Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More on Nader ...

Ralph Nader's friends have launched a new Web site: ["Nader Explore 08"]. On the site, the campaign volunteers, a lot of the same faces from 2000 and 2004, make their case:

Maybe we're wrong.

Maybe the Democrats and Republicans will nominate Presidential candidates this year who will stand up against the war profiteers, the nuclear industry, the credit card industry, the corporate criminals, big oil, and the drug and health insurance industries.

We doubt it.

But hope springs eternal.

In the meantime, take a few minutes and explore with us an idea.

The idea is this—1,000 citizens in every Congressional district.

Each and every one committed to challenging the corporate powers that have a hammerlock on our political and economic systems.

Organized citizen power facing off against corporate power.

In this election year – 2008.

Instead of spending this election year sitting back and watching the corporate candidates spin their vapid mantras – hope, experience, change.

Instead of spending the year complaining about inertia, exhaustion, and apathy.

Let us instead weigh the possibility of pulling together half a million dedicated citizens collectively rising up off our couches and organizing a ground force in every Congressional district in the country.

A ground force of citizens who are informed, committed, tenacious advocates for a just future.

This is what we are contemplating.

Something new.

Something big.

Something bold.

Something that works.

Something that will prod young and old alike.

To join in a mass push back against the corporate powers that are dictating our future.

No one person can get us there.

But one person is ideally suited to lead this grassroots force – if he chooses to do so and runs as the citizens’ candidate for President in 2008.

And that one person is Ralph Nader.

In the 1960s, Nader brought together a group of young people who challenged the corporate status quo.

The press dubbed those young people Nader’s Raiders.

And the rest – as they say – is history.

Here's the idea—1,000 active and informed citizens in each Congressional district ready to take on the corporate political structure in this 2008 election year.

Half a million citizens – mobilized, informed and powerful, organized for a common cause – facing off against corporate power and corporate control.

It is a pretty lofty goal. Let's see how it goes.

Edwards suspends campaign ... Nader dips in ...

Edwards will have a press conference in about 15 minutes announcing that he is getting out of the presidential race. The AP's Nedra Pickler has a pretty good overview here: ["Edwards to Quit Presidential Race"].

And Rick Klein has the Nader news here: ["Ralph Nader Flirts with Presidential Bid"].

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

2008 delegate race update

Here are the latest delegate race totals:
_______CNN __ MSNBC
McCain ---95------93

1,191 needed to win.
_______CNN/MSNBC [with super delegates]

2,025 needed to win.

AP is reporting that Giuliani will endorse McCain tomorrow: ["Giuliani will endorse McCain"]. This, frankly, is amazing. Giuliani got a single convention delegate ... for $47.2 million. Absolutely amazing.

The Washington Post has some interactive maps of Florida here: [Interactive map].
A couple of things worth pointing out: On the Dem side, Edwards won more counties, 11, than Obama won [9]. Their county wins ran from the panhandle across the top of the state, the more conservative and black areas of Florida. Edwards placed second in many of northern border areas and the more suburban areas of the middle of the state.
Over on the Republican side, Huckabee won four counties towards the top of the state. He also placed second in eight counties and third in 27 counties. Giuliani placed third in most of the southeastern counties.

Close to final Florida votes:

6709 of 6913 Precincts Reporting - 97%

NamePartyVotesVote %
Clinton, HillaryDem850,17050%

Obama, BarackDem563,14733%

Edwards, JohnDem246,09714%

Biden, JoeDem15,2381%

Richardson, BillDem14,6551%

Kucinich, DennisDem9,4591%

Dodd, ChrisDem5,3530%

Gravel, MikeDem5,2070%
President - GOP Primary
6709 of 6913 Precincts Reporting - 97%

NamePartyVotesVote %
McCain, JohnGOP686,24636%

Romney, MittGOP589,59031%

Giuliani, RudyGOP279,33915%

Huckabee, MikeGOP256,70613%

Paul, RonGOP61,4383%

Thompson, FredGOP22,1121%

Keyes, AlanGOP3,9610%

Hunter, DuncanGOP2,7470%

Tancredo, TomGOP1,5390%

AP calls Florida for McCain

Where did Gravel's votes go?

AP has corrected its vote totals. Here is where they are now:

2917 of 6913 Precincts Reporting - 42%

NamePartyVotesVote %
Clinton, HillaryDem470,68752%

Obama, BarackDem271,66230%

Edwards, JohnDem142,64216%

Biden, JoeDem8,6651%

Richardson, BillDem8,4691%

Kucinich, DennisDem5,6361%

Dodd, ChrisDem3,0500%

Gravel, MikeDem2,9380%

But the question remains: Where did Gravel's votes go? He had 21,124 40 minutes ago! Is there more vote fraud going on again?

Update: Looking at these numbers, it is more than just Gravel's numbers. Where did Biden's votes go? Where did Kucinich's votes go? This is amazing. A total turn around in vote totals from one figure to another figure.

Too close to call in Fla ...

With 30 percent in, McCain has a 9,700 vote lead over Romney. It's going to be a nail biter.

McCain leads in early voting ... Gravel gets 3 percent

With 24 percent reporting in Florida, McCain has a 20,000 vote lead:

McCain 228,505 - 34 percent
Romney 208,162 - 31 percent
Giuliani 107,061 - 16 percent
Huckabee 94,125 - 14 percent
Paul 21,466 - 3 percent
Thompson 9,755 - 1 percent
Keyes 1,413
Hunter 1,102
Tancredo 574

Over at the Dem side, Clinton will win it:

Clinton 303,639 - 48 percent
Obama 186,698 - 30 percent
Edwards 91,366 - 15 percent
Gravel 21,124 - 3 percent
Biden 13,064- 2 percent
Kucinich 5,748 - 1 percent
Richardson 5,253 - 1 percent
Dodd 1,962

Exit poll data from GOP Florida voters

According to Tim Russert, the economy blew away all other issues in the campaign. The economy was cited by 47 percent of voters as the most important issue. Terrorism came in at 19 percent. Illegal immigration came had 17 percent and the war in Iraq had 13 percent. This is bad news for John McCain and Rudy Giuliani and probably good news for Mitt Romney. I have a sense it is going to be a long night tonight.

The stimulus package is phony baloney

I could only stomach a few short minutes of the idiot-in-chief last night on the radio in what had to have been the most watered down State of the Union address in history. I think President Bush was possessed by Rodney King, with all his, Can't we all get along? crap. Where was the "political capital" he planned on spending or the arrogance of power he already threw at everyone?
Well, maybe it is best to get out on the mild side. It is just too bad he didn't just run his presidency that way in the first place, as a uniter not a divider, or as a compassionate conservative, the way he campaigned into office. We all would not have had to go through these very difficult seven-plus years.
I do, however, have to say some things about this silly stimulus package though and I will probably get pilloried for my comments. But, whatever. Politizine is getting about 100 hits a day now, which is great. I certainly hope that folks will read a bit more into this post than the others because I really think it is relevant.
First, $150 billion handed out in very small amounts [$300 to $1,600] to ordinary folks is not going to turn the economy around. It may help you for a week but it will be a blip on the screen. You may be able to pay some bills or fill up the oil tank, if you live in an area that is cold right now, but it is not going to fix the economy long-term. It will, however, keep you from taking up arms to overthrow the bastards who put us in this fix. It will arrive just in time to pacify the masses before the election. But it won't fix the economy.
Essentially, the federal government is just borrowing this money and putting it on the deficit for our children to pay down many, many years later. It is essentially going to the foreign bankers who are loaning us the money and they will collect interest on it for years and years to come. And, if you go out and use the money to buy a big screen TV, like some of the editorial cartoons have suggested, the money is going straight to China or wherever the TV was made. The foreigners win twice: They get more guaranteed debt and its interest, and they get the cash from the biggest consumer nation in the world. It is all a fraud created by both political parties to keep the American public from looking at the mess these people have perpetrated upon us [As an aside, you would be stupid to spend this money on a new TV. The two big companies selling these TVs will give you free interest for years and years to buy one. So long as you make the payments, it is the same as cash. So, if you really want that new TV, go get it. But don't use this "windfall" money on a new TV].
Granted, if I get the stimulus money, I'm going to take it. Don't get me wrong: I'm no fool. It is already my money and they are giving me a bit back. But, if you're smart, you'll do what we're going to do - you'll pay bills with this money or put this money in your kid's college fund or put it in your own retirement fund and earn some interest on it because we are all going to pay for this later. Better to earn some interest on it now before the bill comes due later. Again, interest on savings is free money.

But if the government really wanted to fix the economy, there are tons of things they could do.
First, they should give everyone $10,000 back, not a $1,000. Why, you ask? Well, that kind of money would actually fix some things in the economy. Car sales are down? Give everyone enough to buy a new or used car! No one has the bloated sub-prime mortgage payment available? Give them some mortgage payments! All those repossessed properties at a bargain basement price need buyers? Give folks the down payment to buy the properties back at a fire sale price.

Sidebar: I saw a pretty skewed "60 Minutes" report Sunday by Steve Kroft about the sub-prime mortgage mess. While he delved into the Wall Street swindlers and the loan officers who were ripping people off and giving them mortgages they never should have received, he seemed to spend way too much time on a few people who reportedly borrowed more than the house was worth to spend the equity. I seriously wonder how many people actually did that compared to the millions of people who were cheated and swindled or did not read the fine print. It is an outrage that anyone was able to do this to the most basic American Dream: Owning your own home.
Now granted, buyer beware. If you didn't read the fine print, you were stupid not to have read the fine print. You really should have. But for the others who were swindled, it is so, so sad.
In the report, Kroft stated that homes were selling for 70 percent below the original asking price in this one town in California, where the houses were totally built on speculation, not unlike Miami, Atlantic, and other places. This means, essentially, that the rich folks will win again. They are the only ones with the money to gobble up all these homes at basement prices. They'll sit on them for a bit and when the economy turns around - and it will - they'll sell them again and make a killing and we'll be on the rollercoaster again.
Well, I have a better idea: with so many homeless folks out there - as we know, there are 200,000 military veterans sleeping under bridges and on grates, according to veterans activists - why aren't these homes being used to help others? If the taxpayers are going to have to bail these folks out - and we will, we always do - shouldn't we be solving problems with the bailouts and not just shuffling money to more folks who will get a cut? Empty condo skyscrapers in Miami? No more, there is an instant public housing unit for the government at pennies on the dollar! Empty homes everywhere? Instant new G.I. Bill. We have vets coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan and many of them need or want homes. Let's give the homes to them at pennies on the dollar [Why am I the only one who seems to think of these things?]

Back to the rant: Instead of this little stimulus refund or an even bigger one, how about a target spending stimulus package?
Expand that hybrid tax credit so that people will buy hybrids. Give people the difference between a Honda Civic - about $17k if you pay full price - and a Prius or Civic hybrid, about $22k to $24k. If they need a bigger car, give them the difference between a Ford Escape and a Ford Escape hybrid. Instant energy consumption savings, instant gas savings for the taxpayer's pocketbook, instant carbon emissions curbing, and the money was spent in the economy, creating jobs, helping those auto companies who have been thinking about the future and not wasting money building Hummers.
How about solar panels or other energy conservation materials which are really expensive to buy? Poof, the government will give you a subsidy to lower your electric bill by installing a solar panel. Instant consumer savings, instant carbon emissions curbing, and money spent to grow the economy and create more green jobs.
Hell, go beyond that: Require every new home to have a solar panel built into it to heat your hot water. The cost is minimal, about $5,000, and will produce free hot water! Again, lowering consumer bills, energy consumption savings, creating jobs, and helping to sustain the home building market by building homes people want and need.
Why is it, that when it comes to consumer spending and war, there is an endless bucket in which to throw resources into but when it comes to anything that will actually fix the nation - either by creating these green jobs or lowering consumer spending, so they can actually deal with the free market economy - there is nothing?
In the end, the real causes of the economic problems are not credit problems or housing problems or even retail spending problems. The economic problems are earning and debt problems. Workers in the United States don't earn enough, we spend too much, and we have too much debt. On top of that, the cost of everything, based on the wars and fuel costs, have created the consumer problems. You can't allow the oil companies to jack up gas by a $1 a gallon over a year and then say, too bad. That sucked up a huge amount of money from the disposable economy which then filtered into the cost of everything, since everything is trucked around the country or shipped around the globe.
In addition, admittedly, most of the debt problems come back to the issue of earnings. Many Americans don't earn enough to sustain the lifestyles they want or have been tricked into believing they should have. So, they spend more and borrow against the future to sustain their lifestyles. I think it is safe to guess that a huge chunk of the population is doing this.
Now, some of this debt is OK. If you have to buy a new car and don't have the money, you pay it off in installments. If you need new equipment for your small business, you borrow money and get it, and pass the cost off to your customers. Sure, buy the new TV, but use the retail company's desperation to sell that TV to your benefit. Two years free financing, same as cash. But anyone who is charging a meal at a restaurant when they could go to the store and buy a few days worth of food with the same amount of money is a fool and that is part of the problem.
And let's be even more honest: There is a good chance that everyone is going to go out and buy a big screen TV when they get that cash. People are stupid like that. So, the money will just be a blip on the economic screen for a couple of weeks. None of the major problems - earnings, spending, and debt - are solved.
I'm in the minority but I think it is time for the nation to start discussing more regulation and more controls over things that are total necessities of life, like gas prices and utility costs, to start. We do this with milk because milk is a necessity to raise children. It is subsidized and regulated. Why don't we do this for gas? Why don't we have this for electricity?
So while you may think the stimulus package is a cure-all or a good idea, I think the opposite. It is foolish and, again, consensusitis between the two political parties to bring us a bunch of phoniness which will not work.

More drug allegations forwarded about Obama

I don't know if this is true or not, but here are more allegations about Barack Obama and drug use. This time, mixed up with homosexual sex in the back of a limo in 1999. I received a forward about this overnight, which is why I'm posting it. It was also reportedly on WRKO yesterday morning. Frankly, this seems more like the Arkansas state trooper allegations against then-Gov. Bill Clinton from the late 1980s, when he was allegedly having them pull over hot chicks so he could get some in the back of his car. Or, the allegations Clinton's own brother Roger made about him to federal authorities: His nose is like a Hoover vacuum cleaner. So, take this with a big, big grain of salt [or crack, if you like]:

Monday, January 28, 2008


Guest Perspective/Ralph Nader

For Bill and Hillary Clinton, the ultimate American dream is eight more years. Yet how do you think they would react to having dozens of partisans at their rallies sporting large signs calling for EIGHT MORE YEARS, EIGHT MORE YEARS?

Don’t you have the feeling that they would cringe at such public displays of their fervent ambition which the New York Times described as a “truly two-for-the-price-of-one” presidential race? It might remind voters to remember or examine the real Clinton record in that peaceful decade of missed opportunities and not be swayed by the sugarcoating version that the glib former president emits at many campaign stops.

The 1990’s were the first decade without the spectre of the Soviet Union. There was supposed to be a “peace dividend” that would reduce the vast, bloated military budget and redirect public funds to repair or expand our public works or infrastructure.

Inaugurated in January 1993, with a Congress controlled by the Democratic Party, Bill Clinton sent a small job-creating proposal to upgrade public facilities. He also made some motions for campaign finance reform which he promised during his campaign when running against incumbent George H.W. Bush and candidate Ross Perot.

A double withdrawal followed when the Congressional Republicans started roaring about big spending Democrats and after House Speaker Tom Foley and Senate Majority Leader, George Mitchell, told Clinton at a White House meeting to forget about legislation to diminish the power of organized money in elections.

That set the stage for how Washington politicians sized up Clinton. He was seen as devoid of modest political courage, a blurrer of differences with the Republican opposition party and anything but the decisive transforming leader he promised to be was he to win the election.

He proceeded, instead, to take credit for developments with which he had very little to do with such as the economic growth propelled by the huge technology boom.

Bragging about millions of jobs his Administration created, he neglected to note that incomes stagnated for 80% of the workers in the country and ended in 2000, under the level of 1973, adjusted for inflation.

A brainy White House assistant to Mr. Clinton told me in 1997 that the only real achievement his boss could take credit for was passage of legislation allowing 12 weeks family leave, without pay.

There are changes both the Clinton Administration actively championed that further entrenched corporate power over our economy and government during the decade. He pushed through Congress the NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements that represented the greatest surrender in our history of local, state and national sovereignty to an autocratic, secretive system of transnational governance. This system subordinated workers, consumers and the environment to the supremacy of globalized commerce.

That was just for starters. Between 1996 and 2000, he drove legislation through Congress that concentrated more power in the hands of giant agribusiness, large telecommunications companies and the biggest jackpot—opening the doors to gigantic mergers in the financial industry. The latter so-called “financial modernization law” sowed the permissive seeds for taking vast financial risks with other peoples’ money (ie. pensioners and investors) that is now shaking the economy to recession.

The man who pulled off this demolition of regulatory experience from the lessons of the Great Depression was Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, who went to work for Citigroup—the main pusher of this oligopolistic coup—just before the bill passed and made himself $40 million for a few months of consulting in that same year.

Bill Clinton’s presidential resume was full of favors for the rich and powerful. Corporate welfare subsidies, handouts and giveaways flourished, including subsidizing the Big Three Auto companies for a phony research partnership while indicating there would be no new fuel efficiency regulations while he was President.

His regulatory agencies were anesthetized. The veteran watchdog for Public Citizen of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Sidney Wolfe, said that safety was the worst under Clinton in his twenty nine years of oversight.

The auto safety agency (NHTSA) abandoned its regulatory oath of office and became a consulting firm to the auto industry. Other agencies were similarly asleep—in job safety (OSHA) railroads, household product safety, antitrust, and corporate crime law enforcement.

By reappointing avid Republican Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, Mr. Clinton assured no attention would be paid to the visible precursors of what is now the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Mr. Greenspan, declined to use his regulatory authority and repeatedly showed that he almost never saw a risky financial instrument he couldn’t justify.

Mr. Clinton was so fearful of taking on Orrin Hatch, the Republican Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that he cleared most judicial appointments with the Utah Senator. He even failed to put forth the nomination of sub-cabinet level official, Peter Edelman, whose credentials were superb to the federal appeals court.

Mr. Edelman resigned on September 12th, 1996. In a memo to his staff, he said, “I have devoted the last 30-plus years to doing whatever I could to help in reducing poverty in America. I believe the recently enacted welfare bill goes in the opposite direction.”

Excoriated by the noted author and columnist, Anthony Lewis, for his dismal record on civil liberties, the man from Hope set the stage for the Bush demolition of this pillar of our democracy.

To justify his invasion of Iraq, Bush regularly referred in 2002-2003 to Clinton’s bombing of Iraq and making “regime change” explicit U.S. policy.

But it was Clinton’s insistence on UN-backed economic sanctions in contrast to just military embargos, against Iraq, during his term in office. These sanctions on civilians, a task force of leading American physicians estimated, took half a million Iraqi children’s lives.

Who can forget CBS’s Sixty Minutes correspondent Leslie Stahl’s tour through Baghdad’s denuded hospitals filled with crying, dying children? She then interviewed Mr. Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeline Albright and asked whether these sanctions were worth it. Secretary Albright answered in the affirmative.

Bill Clinton is generally viewed as one smart politician, having been twice elected the President, helped by lackluster Robert Dole, having survived the Lewinsky sex scandal, lying under oath about sex, and impeachment. When is it all about himself, he is cunningly smart.

But during his two-term triangulating Presidency, he wasn’t smart enough to avoid losing his Party’s control over Congress, or many state legislatures and Governorships.

It has always been all about him, Now he sees another admission ticket to the White House through his wife, Hillary Clinton. EIGHT MORE YEARS without a mobilized, demanding participating citizenry is just that—EIGHT MORE YEARS. It’s small wonder that the editors of Fortune Magazine headlined an article last June with the title, “Who Business is Betting On?” Their answer, of course, was Hillary Clinton.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

2008 delegate race [updated]

With Obama's huge victory in South Carolina tonight, here are some updated Democratic delegate race numbers [including super delegates, as reported by CNN]:

Clinton 230
Obama 151
Edwards 61
Gravel 0

Needed to win: 2,025

Romney 73
McCain 38
Huckabee 29
Paul 6
Giuliani 2

1,191 needed to win.

MSNBC has it this way:

Obama 63
Clinton 48
Edwards 26

Romney 59
Huckabee 40
McCain 36

In South Carolina, it's an Obama rout

With 99 percent of the returns in, here are the numbers:

Obama 295,091 - 55 percent
Clinton 141,128 - 27 percent
Edwards 93,552 - 18 percent
Richardson 725
Biden 693
Kucinich 551
Dodd 247
Gravel 240

Obama's speech was very good and better than other speeches he has made so far. While his speeches are good, I have not been impressed by Obama's debate performances. He seems slightly aloof and unsure of himself, often stuttering with the "ahs ..." almost thinking while he is speaking, which is not a good idea. Compare that to Edwards and Clinton, who know their points and make them. Debate performance is a problem for me, especially when it comes to facing off against the Republicans, if he becomes the nominee. However, when he has the TelePrompTer, he can deliver a great speech. And he did so tonight.

There are rumors that the top people in Edwards campaign reached out to the Obama campaign tonight about some sort of deal but were rebuffed. Obama's campaign reportedly told the Edwards people to run their own campaign and that they would deal with him later if they needed to. This came from Howard Fineman on MSNBC so who knows if it is legit or not.
Even if Edwards is thinking about a deal, like the VP slot, I don't know if this would be the best thing for Obama. Edwards would make a great president. He is a powerful person to have on the ticket. But he was unable to help Kerry win a single southern state. At the same time, admittedly, Kerry was a terrible candidate. And Edwards was allegedly handcuffed by Kerry's campaign and not allowed to campaign in the states he wanted to campaign in or with his own message. So, that could be part of the reason why Edwards did not help Kerry.
Obama will really need a governor or someone with some executive experience to balance out the ticket and give voters a reason to feel safe and secure with the hopeful choice. Inspiration alone is not going to do it. Just off the top of my head, maybe someone like former Sen. Bob Graham, who was also a governor and has solid foreign policy credentials, would be a good choice. Or a Mayor Mike Bloomberg-like person, with private sector experience, if he were a Democrat. Maybe Gov. Bill Richardson.
If Edwards asked for the AG's position or something where he could utilize his legal experience to "fight for us," then that should be a deal Obama should take. After Obama's two terms, assuming he was elected and reelected, Edwards could always run again. He would still be relatively young - 62.

Some of the exit polls showed that not only did Obama get more than 80 percent of the black vote, he received 24 percent of the white vote. Edwards received 40 percent of the white vote, the most, so he clearly hurt Clinton's results in the state. White women were split between Clinton and Edwards. More than half of voters under 30 went with Obama. Lastly, 20 percent of black voters said they would be upset if Clinton became the Democratic nominee, a bad sign for the Dems heading towards November especially if she starts winning some of the big Feb. 5 states.

If anyone needed another reason not to vote for Hillary Clinton, her husband has given the voters that other reason. This line, caught by Jake Tapper over ABC, is despicable:
"Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in '84 and '88. Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here."
The comment was in response to a question about Obama saying, "[it] took two people to beat him." Obama did not say anything about Jesse Jackson but "black men" were clearly on the former president's mind. Oh man.
I'm not a big fan of Joe Klein. I think it is kind of pompous. Not as bad as Fineman though. However, I agree with this post from South Carolina: ["Tonight in South Carolina"]
"Make no mistake: What happened in South Carolina today was a moral reprimand delivered to Bill and Hillary Clinton by a united Democratic Party--but especially by the African-American segment of that party."
Perfectly stated.

Clinton attacks Edwards
According to The Page, Clinton ran anti-Edwards ads in South Carolina: ["Daughter of a Curtain Salesman Attacks Son of a Millworker"]. There is no proof that these ads hurt Edwards, but one has to wonder. Tonight, Edwards lost to Clinton by almost 50,000 votes. He really needed second place tonight. At the same time, Edwards finished with 18 percent when he was polling at 9 or 10 percent just two weeks ago. Edwards says he will continue. He says he is still raising a great deal of money online. He also has about $30 to 50 million in personal wealth he can draw on if he chooses to. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., is predicting the race will go to the convention, according to Edwards.

This is John McCain's hilarious anti-Mitt ad. Look familiar?

McCain's big endorsements
Yesterday, it was Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla. Today, it is Gov. Charlie Crist, R-Fla. Also today, it was members of the NYPD. It feels like the establishment is starting to get behind McCain. Are they worried about "Multiple Choice" Mitt's chances in the general election? Is this about burying Rudy Giuliani? Only time will tell.

Updates later today

I'm sorry Politizine, I've been ignoring you lately. But, you know, your editor has had a very busy week this week and it will be an even busier weekend. However, I have a few things to post tonight so please do bear with me. The South Carolina Democratic primary will be tonight, so I'll have some results from that [Why can't we vote on Saturdays here in New Hampshire like other states do?]. I'll also have a bit on Kucinich dropping out of the presidential race and some more on the New Hampshire recounts. See you later.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

MLK III to Edwards: 'Keep going ...'

Whoa, check this out: ["MLK III to Edwards: 'My father would be proud'"].
So, I urge you: keep going. Ignore the pundits, who think this is a horserace, not a fight for justice. My dad was a fighter. As a friend and a believer in my father’s words that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, I say to you: keep going. Keep fighting. My father would be proud.
Gotta love it.

'Grandpa' Fred Thompson out!

AP has it here: ["Fred Thompson Quits Presidential Race"].
Well, at least he left the race with enough time for the other contenders to gobble up some of his meager support. I know there are Thompson people moving around, with at least one major one from Georgia going to Mitt Romney's campaign. Another one here in Mass. moved over to the Paul campaign a couple of months ago.
But, I wonder if John McCain doesn't benefit from this. As noted in the article, Thompson assisted McCain in 2000. In the debates, Thompson thrashed on Romney, standing up for McCain. Mike Huckabee is also bound to benefit because Thompson was trying to play up that southern thing. With him out, Huckabee is the only southerner or midwesterner left standing.
Drudge is noting that Huckabee is having some money problems. This can happen once a campaign starts to build. The money for media is always reimbursed to a campaign. However, those media outlets can take their own sweet time paying so, this seems like a good move, short-term.

Nader contemplating another run

It looks like Ralph Nader will make a decision about whether to run or not next month: ["Nader to decide soon on possible presidential run"].
I will be honest and say that I hope Nader decides not to run. And I say this not for the reasons most people would think, that he cost Al Gore the presidency and all that other bogus crap. As Nader's New Hampshire coordinator in 2000, I know that what they are saying about what happened is not true. But I say that I hope he will not run because I sincerely think Nader needs to move on from seeking the presidency and let others take up the mantle.
Ideally, he is the perfect person to be president. He has shown through tireless work that he would be the greatest advocate for the American people. There is nothing Ralph Nader has not done and we owe him so much - from car safety, to food safety, to clean air and water - the list goes on and on. Unlike most politicians, Nader has actual ideas and proposals which will work. Despite all the claims by his enemies, he does not run because of his ego; he runs because he truly believes there can be a better America.
And although he is probably the best person to be president, he has already done enough for us. It is time for the American people to elevate themselves to do the job that Ralph Nader has already done and continue to pave the way for change. It is time for us to make the sacrifices. It is time for us to say that the time we spend improving the nation as a whole is better than the time we spend doing things for ourselves.
While Nader does not care about his legacy, as he politely stated in the new documentary, "An Unreasonable Man," when asked, some of us do care about his legacy. We want his legacy preserved and cherished. We want people to understand what this man has already done for America and how we could do and be so much more as a people.
So long as fools continue to denigrate the man, we will be unable to get to his message, and that is key. We don't want people to use the man as a scapegoat for bad Democrats who continue to assist in electing even worse Republicans. Nader, not unlike Jesus Christ, as a political and spiritual figure, has shown us the way. And we either need to take the reins ourselves and move our country forward or live with the government we have.
In some ways, the candidacies of former Rep. Cynthia McKinney and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg are very intriguing. McKinney, who is openly seeking the Green Party's support, will elevate the party nationally. She, like Nader, is a serious contender. Bloomberg has the money to actually throw himself into a rigged political system without all the instability of the Perot movement. It is such an interesting time to be living. And with these potential indies waiting to jump in, there probably is no room for Nader.
And we only have to look at last night's Democratic debate [admittedly, I only saw clips] to realize that the Democrats still don't get it. Poor John Edwards. He is the man who needs to lead the Democrats and he is caught in the wrong moment in time. The "frontrunners," yelling and screaming at each other, are a diversity nut's wet dream - a serious female and serious black candidate running for president. But, you know, the black candidate needs to get back to hoping and let the Clinton muck slide off him while the witch needs to control her friggin' husband.
Or, actually, don't do that. Scratch that. Continue what you're doing and by some hope of a miracle Edwards will win South Carolina and slide back into contention. Or, go ahead, continue what you are doing. Create the list of Republican talking points for the general election. What fools. Again, bad Democrats potentially electing very bad Republicans. It is so hard to watch. They both think and act like they are owed the nomination. It is so sad.
But back to Nader for a second. While it may seem like I am lecturing him, I don't mean to be. I'm not asking him to do anything that I have not done myself. My own move from part-time political activism into full-time journalism about eight years ago was a similar decision as the one Nader has to face [I've been working in media part- and full-time for more than 20 years but only as a full-time journalist in the last eight]. I was sick and tired of the lack of coverage for important stories in the news and decided that maybe I should try and get into the business and contribute instead of criticizing. Quite by accident, and with the help of others in the business, I became a pretty good community journalist. While I have no regrets on how I have lived my life, this is what I probably should have been all along. In all fairness to myself, if I had not done the previous political work I probably never would have stumbled into journalism. As many people saw, I was doing political journalism while being involved in politics. In many ways, it happened the way it was supposed to happen.
Maybe it is time for Nader to go back to the past and try and work how he used to work: Gathering together all kinds of young minds and molding them into a new generation of Nader's Raiders. Maybe those minds will have a political bent to them instead of an activist bent. Maybe there could be a whole new generation of potential Democratic or Green Party candidates with the principled, unwaivering, stalwart, granite persistence that is Ralph Nader. I know that I would love to cast a vote for that kind of American.
In the end, as I have written before, Ralph Nader will make his own decisions and he should be allowed to. I may even consider voting for him again. I don't know. I'll need to see who else is running. But whatever the case, what I truly hope is that he makes the right decision and not just for himself but also for the rest of us.

Monday, January 21, 2008

New Hampshire recount update

Here is a ballot hand recount update from the Secretary of State's office here in New Hampshire: ["Recount"]. These are just the Dem numbers. The Republican ones will probably be done later.
The volunteers counting the ballots have gone through a slew of cities and towns at this point and have shown no vote fraud evidence or major miscount problems by the machines.
According to the Union Leader, there was a shift in Manchester Ward 5 ballots due to human error. The clerk in that Ward added votes for the vice presidency in with the presidential votes [we can vote for VP here in New Hampshire and, yeah, some guys actually run for VP]. This took away votes from some of the candidates.
More than 50 cities and towns have been counted at this point and most of the machine count returns match the hand count returns. In some communities, the machines were not perfect but very, very close.
For example, in Amherst, 2,923 votes were cast. In the recount, Clinton lost seven votes [she went from 970 to 963], Edwards gained three votes [he went from 424 to 427], Obama lost one [1,309 to 1,308] and Richardson lost two [155 to 153]. What is interesting is that the recount does not say who gained the extra votes beyond Edwards. One candidate gained three votes, three other candidates lost 10 votes. No one else gained or lost votes. Where did the other seven votes go?
Very strange. However, what has been proved is that the machine counts were as accurate as they could possibly be. Nothing is ever 100 percent ... but this was close enough.

Quick update on GOP polls

A quick update on some polls released today further proving my theory that the nominations are two three-way races.
First, a new Quinnipiac poll from Florida shows McCain with 22, Giuliani with 20, and Romney and Huckabee at 19 percent, essentially a four-way tie.
Rasmussen has this from Florida: Romney 25, McCain 20, Giuliani 19, and Huckabee 13.
In New York, Siena College Research Institute has a new poll showing McCain at 36 an Giuliani 24. Everyone else is way below those numbers.
Marist College has these numbers from New York: McCain 34, Romney/Giuliani 19, and Huckabee 15.

Well, there is a new political site in the state, and James Pindell, formerly of the Globe and is running the show: [""]. I'm pretty impressed with the site and glad to see it is up and running.
Speaking of sites, the New Hampshire Union Leader has totally revamped the front page of its Web site and it looks pretty snazz: [""].

Down to two three-way races ...

Over at Media Nation, Dan Kennedy has been having a discussion about the GOP race and where things stand. He first thought that the McCain victory in South Carolina made him the frontrunner. The next afternoon, he revised his thoughts calling it a two-person race between McCain and Romney. He made some pretty good points and I agree with the premise overall - that "Romney's personal fortune and his willingness to say absolutely anything to get elected" gives him "the edge."
However, I don't think Mike Huckabee [and to a lesser extent, John Edwards, on the Dem side] can be counted out just yet. They will remain factors in the race. Do I think they have shots at the nomination? Very slim, admittedly. But their tenacity and ability to run relatively low-dough campaigns will make them a thorn in the sides of the supposed frontrunners for at least another month.

GOP side
Nationally, Huckabee is still polling well in future states and while polls are just a snapshot and not actual results, that is what we have to look at for speculation purposes. While there will be some consolidation around a leader, on the Republican side, probably McCain and Romney, neither has a lock on the nom and won't by Tsunami Tuesday, Feb. 5. Same for the Dems.
Let's look at some of the poll numbers on the Republican side to see if this theory hashes out:
Florida is the next contest, on Jan. 29, and over the past four weeks, there have been eight polls: Huckabee has led in two polls, McCain has led in two, and Giuliani has led in four. In all the polls, Romney has been bunched up with all the others at the top. A lot has changed in four weeks so let's look a the two most recent:
Insider Advantage from four days ago has it Giuliani 21, Romney/McCain 20, Huckabee 12; six days ago, Survey USA had it McCain 25, Giuliani 23, Huckabee and Romney 18. Or, essentially, it is still anyone's state. The vote is in eight more days. It is not an open primary, meaning indies can't vote in the primaries unless they re-registered to join either party before Dec. 31, 2007. So, it is anyone's guess who will win.
As was pointed out earlier on another board, Florida is a winner-take-all state. So, whoever wins gets the prize. Second place or less is not going to matter. Assuming Giuliani's firewall concept works [I doubt it, but whatever], it will not ensure that candidates such as Huckabee will get out of the race after losing the state.
After Florida is the Maine Caucus but there hasn't been a poll done there in more than a year so who knows how that will go.
There has not been much polling done in the Feb. 5 states for Republicans but here are some:
In California, there have been four polls done in the last month and McCain has led two and Giuliani has led in two. Here is the most recent from Rasmussen: McCain 24, Romney 17, Huckabee and Thompson at 13, and Giuliani at 11.
The Hartford Courant has a Connecticut poll from last week showing McCain at 39, Giuliani at 16, and Romney at 11. This is another winner-take-all state for the GOP, with 27 delegates, so it looks like a lock for McCain.
Huckabee led the only poll done in Georgia back in December by six points over Giuliani with 23. Romney and McCain were at 10 and 11.
There have been three polls from New Jersey in the last month with Giuliani and McCain essentially tied. Rasmussen had one six days ago showing McCain with 27, Giuliani with 25, and Huckabee/Romney with 10; Monmouth College had one eight days ago with McCain at 29, Giuliani at 25, and Huckabee with 11. Romney had 10. So, Huckabee is third there. He was also third in the Quinnipiac poll from December. Jersey is a winner-take-all state with 52 delegates.
There have been two polls from Oklahoma in the past month and Huckabee led in both of them. The most recent by Survey USA nine days ago had Huckabee with 31, McCain with 29, and Thompson with 13. So, Huckabee could potential win that state.
None of the other Feb. 5 states has polls in them but let's make some easy assumption about potential results.
Giuliani will probably win his home state of New York, another winner-take-all state, with 87 delegates. McCain will probably win his home state of Arizona. Huckabee will probably win his home state Arkansas. Romney will probably win in Utah where there are a lot of Mormon voters and where he has a home. Romney and McCain will split Massachusetts. Thompson, McCain, and Huckabee will probably split Tennessee up. And I suspect that Huckabee will do well in other southern/midwestern states, including Alabama, Kansas, and Missouri.
With so many delegates being spread out on Feb. 5 and at least three to five candidates winning some of the 20-plus states which vote that day, I suspect that there will not be a clear nominee after those races. And, since Romney has infinite assets to draw on if he needs to, no, he cannot be ruled out even if he wins few states on Feb. 5. But, at the same time, Huckabee cannot be ruled out since he will probably win more states and more delegates than Romney on Feb. 5.
After Feb. 5 comes Feb. 9 where Hawaii, Kansas, and Louisiana vote. Huckabee could potential win or come in second in two of those states.
I have been saying for a while now that I thought there would be brokered conventions in 2008 in at least one if not both party conventions. Well, the more I watch the GOP side, the more I believe they will have a brokered convention in 2008. Lastly, I think if there is a brokered convention, you may see a McCain/Huckabee ticket emerge as victorious.

Them Dems
Over on the Democratic side, it is a bit more complicated. When people joked about Hillary Clinton being "inevitable," it was not really a joke. She has led in virtually every state and national poll for about a year before the summer of 2007 when people started taking a look at Barack Obama's campaign [In 2003 the same thing happened: Joe Lieberman and Dick Gephardt were leading in most polls until a little known governor from Vermont started rabble rousing ...]
Since that time, things have leveled out a bit but Hillary still has confident poll positions in future states. Granted, we have seen the polls be wildly wrong but not completely inaccurate.
The big contest is South Carolina this Saturday and the numbers are very interesting. In the first recorded poll from December 2006, Clinton had 34, Edwards had 30, and Obama had 10. Oh how things can change.
Between February 2007 and the end of July, Clinton and Obama traded leads. Then, from August to early December, Clinton had solid leads. For the next three weeks, the polling shifted between the two. The first week of January 2008, Obama opened up a 20 point lead and has held the lead in the state over the last three weeks, with numbers anywhere from 6 to 13 percent. Clinton has gained a bit from that 20 point poll, mostly at the expense of Edwards.
Some polling suggests that unlike in New Hampshire or Iowa, where Edwards' voters second choice was Obama, votes would shift from Edwards to Clinton in South Carolina. So, essentially, Edwards staying in is indirectly helping Obama in South Carolina. This could change in future states but probably not in the south.
After South Carolina comes Tsunami Tuesday again, with 20-plus states voting. Not unlike the GOP side, there has not been a lot of polling in those states. However, here is what we have to look at.
In California, there have been four polls in the last month. Clinton has led them all. The most recent, a Rasmussen poll from last week, has Clinton at 38, Obama 33, and Edwards at 12.
The Hartford Courant has a Connecticut poll from last week showing Clinton with a sizable 41 to 27 lead over Obama with Edwards at 9, with more than 20 percent undecided [Note: in 1992, CT picked Jerry Brown over Clinton by 3 or 4 points when Tsongas was leading the state for months. Voters there are fickle even if Clinton is a senator from a neighboring state].
A poll from Georgia in December by Strategic Vision has it Clinton 34, Obama 27, and Edwards 12.
A December poll from Tribune/WGN has Obama winning his home state of Illinois by a two-to-one margin.
There have been two polls from New Jersey in the last three weeks and Clinton leads both of them by 12 to 19 points.
Clinton leads the only poll done in her home state this month by an almost two-to-one margin.
One poll in Oklahoma in the last three weeks shows Clinton at 41, Edwards at 25, and Obama at 19.
In the other states, who knows.
Black voter turnout will be crucial for Obama and, as we have seen, female voters are coming out to support Clinton. If Edwards stays in this thing and continues to peel off white voters from Clinton, as he seems to be doing in South Carolina, this could get interesting.
And even though his numbers are low, I suspect that Edwards will reach the 15 percent area in most of those states if not all and will continue to gather up delegates. We'll see what happens after Saturday.

Editor's Note: This is an updated of a previous edition.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Noise Top 30 Chart/February

Stations reporting: WAAF, WBCN, WFNX, WMBR, WMFO, WTCC, WZBC

1. Bobb Trimble – Iron Curtain Innocence
2. A.K.A.C.O.D. – Happiness
3. Fire on Fire – EP
4. Hallelujah the Hills – Collective Psychosis Begone
5. Cheater Pint – Cheater Pint
6. Concord Ballet Orchestra Players – Flying Together
7. The December Sound – The December Sound
8. Freezepop – future future future perfect
9. Campaign for Real-Time – LA Tracks 1933-1969
10. Black Fortress of Opium – Black Fortress of Opium
11. Emergency Music – You’ll Be the Death of Us All, Honey
12. Max G & the Spots – Shiny New Apartment
13. Mobius Band – Heaven
14. The Shills – The Shills
15. Sunburned Hand of Man – fire escape
16. Wild Light – Wild Light
17. Vagiant – Public Display of Infection
18. The Atlantics – Atlantics Live
19. The Doom Buggies – The Doom Buggies
20. Drug Rug – Drug Rug
21. Major Stars – Mirror Messenger
22. Polyethylene – What Goes On Inside Houses
23. The Set of Red Things – Who Touches the Pitch Defiles Herself
24. Tristan Da Cunha – Instanter
25. Me and Joan Collins – “Maybe You Can Breathe Underwater, Tracy”
26. Paper Thin Stages – CP/Magnum Puce Version 8.0
27. Trans Am – Sex Change
28. Annette Farrington – “Know Your Heart”
29. Dear Leader – The Alarmist
30. Various – Boston Underground 1979-1982

Duncan Hunter out

Rep. Duncan Hunter has ended his presidential campaign according to the AP.

McCain, Romney, Clinton win; delegate count update

Here are the results for today.

Clinton 5,355 - 51 percent
Obama 4,773 - 45 percent
Edwards 396 - 4 percent
Kucinich 31 votes

Romney 22,649 - 51 percent
Paul 6,0987 - 14 percent
McCain 5,651 - 13 percent
Huckabee 3,616 - 8 percent
Thompson 3,521 - 8 percent
Giuliani 1,910 - 4 percent
Hunter 890 - 2 percent

South Carolina [GOP]
McCain 140,798 - 33 percent
Huckabee 126,187 - 30 percent
Thompson 66,824 - 16 percent
Romney 63,909 - 15 percent
Paul 15,570 - 4 percent
Giuliani 8,989 2 percent
Hunter 1,024
Tancredo 114
John Cox 83
Hugh Cort 56
Cap Fendig 23

[The Dems vote in South Carolina on Jan. 26].

Here are how the delegates stack up:

Romney 72
McCain 38
Huckabee 29
Thompson 8
Paul 6
Giuliani 2
Hunter 1

1,191 needed to nominate.

Clinton 210
Obama 123
Edwards 52
Kucinich 1

2,026 needed to nominate.

In both races, it is anyone's contest, although things are starting to sift out a bit.

Political roundup
Here is a snarky blog entry over at CBS News: ["Edwards: 'What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas'"].
Apparently, Edwards' numbers are so low in Nevada because if he did not get a certain percentage of votes in each caucus, those voters had to go to another candidate. It was a caucus process and while he may have spent more time there than the other candidates, he did pull his entire org. out of Nevada months ago and had them put everything into Iowa. Regular readers here will recall that I said this was a bad move and he should leave his people there to organize the state. But, what happened to that 25 percent the Reno Gazette Journal poll show him getting? Yikes.
Overall, the turnout was more than 107,000, a record, even though the results don't reflect that. According to the policy, county convention delegates were elected on this date and then there will be another convention to elect national delegates.
Here's hoping Edwards can put something together for South Carolina. Polls there show him around 15 to 20 percent but he is drawing white voters away from Hillary so that should help Obama win the state. Drudge has a link saying he is the "kingmaker" but there is nothing attached to the link.

Obama campaign rails against Clinton's attacks
Check this out: ["Speaking of delegate fights"].
We currently have reports of over 200 separate incidents of trouble at caucus sites, including doors being closed up to thirty minutes early, registration forms running out so people were turned away, and ID being requested and checked in a non-uniform fashion. This is in addition to the Clinton campaign’s efforts to confuse voters and call into question the at-large caucus sites which clearly had an affect on turnout at these locations. These kinds of Clinton campaign tactics were part of an entire week’s worth of false, divisive, attacks designed to mislead caucus-goers and discredit the caucus itself.
I'm glad the union is trying to do something about this. Bubba going on TV, yelling at a reporter about the caucus rules which were set up and approved by everyone almost a year ago, was despicable.
As well, the at-large precincts did not seem to perform well for Obama, according to the RGJ blogger Anjeanette Damon writes:
Maybe Barack Obama should have supported that lawsuit afterall. A look at the results of the Las Vegas Strip at-large precincts shows Obama winning only two of the nine. Hillary Clinton took the rest and by huge margins in many cases.
bama won the Luxor by 10 points and Caesars by 3 points. Compare that to Clinton's win at the Paris by 37 points.
If these were indeed Culinary dominated precincts, their legendary turnout strength has been largely overestimated.
Hmm. Interesting.

Not unlike the case of Edwards losing Nevada badly, a similar claim could be made about Romney losing South Carolina badly. David Bernstein over at the Boston Phoenix notes that Romney spent a lot of money in South Carolina: ["Don't Be Fooled -- Romney Wanted SC"]. A lot of money. And he came in fourth.

More on the recount as well as other stuff tomorrow.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Howard secures cash for GOP recount

This email was just sent out on a Libertarian list:
The money for the New Hampshire recount has been secured. The ball is rolling!!

We need multiple thousands of volunteers to help oversee the ballots as they are counted.

Come to Concord, New Hampshire.

Thanks again for your support.

Albert Howard
It was best to have a recount on both sides to either find fraud or debunk the conspiracies.

Minor inaccuracies in N.H. recount so far

Here are some of the numbers posted with the hand recount of optical scanning machines in New Hampshire, as posted by the Secretary of State's office: ["Recount results"].

Again, like I have stated a bunch of times, these machines are not 100 percent accurate ... they are 99.9 percent accurate. And, that is pretty good in my mind.

So far, in Manchester's 12 Wards, here are vote gains for the candidates:

Clinton 40
McCain 24 [write in]
Obama 14
Edwards 11
Romney 11 [write in]
Richardson 8
Paul 7 [write in]
Giuliani 3 [write in]
Biden 2
Hunter 1 [write in]
Kucinich 1
Thompson 1 [write in]

Vote losses?

Dodd 6
Hewes 1
Hunter 1
Keifer 1

More than 20,300 votes were cast. And this is the result difference? Hmm. The machine count result was off by 6/1000th of 1 percent. That seems pretty accurate to me.

Update: I just realized something. If you take out the write-ins, which technically aren't Democrats, the shift is even less than that. It is about 3/1000th of 1 percent.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What the candidates avoid

Guest Perspective/Ralph Nader

Here is a short list of what you won't hear much of from the front-runners in this presidential primary season. Call them the candidate taboos.

* You won't hear a call for a national crackdown on the corporate crime, fraud, and abuse that have robbed trillions of dollars from workers, investors, pension holders, taxpayers and consumers. Among the reforms that won't be suggested are providing resources to prosecute executive crooks and laws to democratize corporate governance so shareholders have real power. Candidates will not shout for a payback of ill-gotten gains, to rein in executive pay, or to demand corporate sunshine laws.

* You won’t hear a demand that workers receive a living wage instead of a minimum wage. There will be no backing for a repeal of the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which has blocked more than 40 million workers from forming or joining trade unions to improve wages and benefits above Wal-Mart or McDonald's levels.

* You won’t hear for a call for a withdrawal from the WTO and NAFTA. Renegotiated trade agreements should stick to trade while labor, environmental, and consumer rights are advanced by separate treaties without being subordinated to the dictates of international commerce.

* You won’t hear a call for our income tax system to be substantially revamped so that workers can keep more of their wages while we tax the things we like least, such as pollution, stock speculation, addictive industries, and energy guzzling technologies. Nor will you hear that corporations should be required to pay their fair share; corporate tax contributions as a percent of the overall federal revenue stream have been declining for 50 years.

* You won’t hear a call for a single payer health system. Almost sixty years after President Truman first proposed it, we still need health insurance for everyone, a program with quality and cost controls and an emphasis on prevention. Full Medicare for everyone will save thousands of lives a year while maintaining patient choice of doctors and hospitals within a competitive private health care delivery system.

* There is no reason to believe that the candidates will stand up to the commercial interests profiting from our current energy situation. We need a major environmental health agenda that challenges these entrenched interests with major new initiatives in solar energy, doubling motor vehicle fuel efficiency, and other quantified sustainable and clean energy technologies. Nor will there be adequate recognition that current fossil fuels are producing not just global warming, but also cancer, respiratory diseases, and geopolitical entanglements. Finally, there will be no calls for ending environmental racism that leads to more contaminated water, air, and toxic dumps in poorer neighborhoods.

* The candidates will not demand a reduction in the military budget that devours half the federal government's operating expenditures at a time when there is no Soviet Union or other major state enemy in the world. Studies by the General Accounting Office and internal Pentagon assessments support the judgment of many retired admirals and generals that a wasteful defense weakens our country and distorts priorities at home.

* You won't hear a consistent clarion call for electoral reform. Both parties have shamelessly engaged in gerrymandering, a process that guarantees reelection of their candidates at the expense of frustrated voters. Nor will there be serious proposals that millions of law-abiding ex-felons be allowed to vote.

Other electoral reforms should include reducing barriers to candidates, same day registration, a voter verified paper record for electronic voting, run-off voting to insure winners receive a majority vote, binding none-of-the-above choices and most important, full public financing to guarantee clean elections.

* You won’t hear much about a failed war on drugs that costs nearly $50 billion annually. And the major candidates will not argue that addicts should be treated rather than imprisoned. Nor should observers hope for any call to repeal the "three strikes and you're out" laws that have needlessly filled our jails or to end mandatory sentencing that hamstrings our judges.

* The candidates will ignore the diverse Israeli peace movement whose members have developed accords for a two state solution with their Palestinian and American counterparts. It is time to replace the Washington puppet show with a real Washington peace show for the security of the American, Palestinian, and Israeli people.

* You won’t hear the candidates stand up to business interests that have backed changes to our civil justice system that restrict or close the courtroom to wrongfully injured and cheated individuals, but not to corporations. Where is the vocal campaign against fraud and injury upon innocent patients, consumers, and workers? We should make it easier for consumers to band together and defend themselves against harmful practices in the marketplace.

Voters should visit the webpages of the major party candidates. See what they say, and see what they do not say. Then email or send a letter to any or all the candidates and ask them why they are avoiding these issues. Breaking the taboos won’t start with the candidates. Maybe it can start with the voters.

Mitt wins Michigan

By more than 80k!

Romney 337,847 - 39 percent
McCain 257,521 - 30 percent
Huckabee 139,699 - 16 percent
Paul 54,434 - 6 percent
Thompson 32,135 - 4 percent
Giuliani 24,706 - 3 percent
Uncommitted 17,971 2 percent
Hunter 2,823

Clinton 328,151 55 percent
Uncommitted 236,723 - 40 percent
Kucinich 21,708 - 4 percent
Dodd 3,853 - 1 percent
Gravel 2,363

[Note: Michigan Dems lost all of its convention delegates due to the fact that it broke the DNC's rules by having an early primary. Half of the GOP's 60 delegates will not be seated for the same reason.]

2008 Delegate Results:
Clinton 190
Obama 103
Edwards 151
Kucinich 1

Romney 52
Huckabee 22
McCain 15
Thompson 6
Paul 2
Giuliani 1
Hunter 1

New Hampshire Dem recount underway

WBZ-TV is reporting that recounts of Democratic ballots are underway: ["N.H. Primary Democratic Re-count Underway"].
Kucinich was smart to target Manch. That is where I would have started a recount too.
A poster over at BlueMassGroup alleges that PayPal has frozen the assets of a GOP online recount online fundraising drive: ["No recount in New Hampshire?"].
More later.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Some things going on ...

Here are some links worth looking at. I'm going to try and catch up with work stuff over the rest of the week so I will be on a bit of a hiatus. Of course, if something major happens, I'll post it. Also, I'm working on a health care piece which will be posted later this week.

Buried ... AGAIN!

OK, we should all be used to these New England winters. But, it has not been this snowy in a long, long time. This is the fifth or sixth storm this winter and we are only halfway through the month of January. How bad is it today? Well, look at this picture:

Yup, we got 11 inches today, as of noon. More is expected to come down later this afternoon.
Snow budgets this year have been busted for sure. We'll see if we get anymore snow.

The college student vote in the New Hampshire primary

Late last week, there was some discussion on another blog about the low college student turnout in the New Hampshire primary, votes that were expected to buoy Barack Obama to a win in the state. As many have already said, the exact opposite happened: While college turnout was good and Obama did well in those towns, undecided women and last minute decision makers buoyed Hillary Clinton to the win, with Obama coming in a very close second. The turnout was a record.
As readers know, college turnout was on my mind too as the returns were coming in. Would there be enough in those communities to push Obama up over the 5,000-plus vote lead Clinton had over him before the state was called?
While thinking about it, I started looking at numbers from previous elections to see what expected numbers might be in a larger turnout race.
The main college towns here are Durham, Hanover, Keene, and Plymouth. Both Concord and Manchester have colleges but those tend to be commuter schools. There are some other satellite towns which have college students living in them - like Lebanon - but it is not considered "a college town."
Most of the students at Keene and Plymouth are in-state students. Both schools were out of session, so they probably voted in their hometowns which are scattered around the state. Durham is a mixed bag. While there are thousands of students from NH there, a lot of out-of-staters go there too. Dartmouth, in Hanover, has a ton of out-of-state students but students returned to class on Jan. 7, the day before the primary. Some of the other college students may have come back to work on campaigns or to follow the primary, but the bulk of out-of-state students were probably at their real homes for the break.
So, any candidate hoping that tens of thousands of college students would vote on primary day in these four towns would be wishing. It was not going to happen. And, the numbers pretty much show this to be true.
In Durham in 2004, about 6,000 people voted in the general election. In both the Republican and Democratic primaries, about 3,500 people voted, or a difference of 2,500 voters. In Hanover in 2004, about 6,600 people voted in the general election. About 5,800 voted this year in both contests. A lot closer between elections but still lighter. In Keene, more than 12,400 people voted in the 2004 general election while about 9,000 people voted in the primaries this year [a 3,400-plus difference]. And in Plymouth, about 3,500 voted in the 2004 election while about 2,300 voted in the 2008 primary, or about 1,200 less.
During the election returns, Scott Spradling of WMUR-TV was reporting live from the Clinton HQ and he stated that the campaign did not want to declare victory until those late towns reported, even though AP had already called the state for Clinton, with a 7,000 vote lead.
Clinton eventually won the primary by about 7,500 votes. The difference in turnout between the 2004 general election and the 2008 New Hampshire primary in those four towns was about 8,000 voters. So, in order for the turnout in the college towns to affect the race, it would have needed to be at 2004 levels and Obama would have needed every single one of those votes, a near impossibility.
In other words, it was not going to matter.
Keene reported relatively early so those numbers were on the board while the totals were being accumulated for the night. The other three towns came in later but as you can see, it still would not have been enough to make up the difference.
The issue of whether college students vote in their "real homes" or at their college homes has been a sticky issue in the state, especially in the wake of Kerry winning in 2004. Republicans were angry that college students were allowed to vote and they believed those numbers helped Kerry win the state [Kerry won here by more than 9,000 votes. Kerry beat Bush in Durham by more than 2,500 votes, in Hanover by more than 3,700 votes, in Keene by more than 4,300, and in Plymouth by more than 1,100 votes.
More than likely, even if all the college students in those towns were not allowed to vote in those towns, Kerry still would have won the state. If the Kerry college students could not vote, neither would the college Bush supporters. So, those totals would need to be subtracted from Bush. However, it would have been a much tighter election in New Hampshire than it was. But that isn't really the point for the state GOP, it was the principle of "permanent residency" versus "temporary residency" or college attendance.
State Republicans were also furious about the fact that they saw school buses from Massachusetts cities and towns busing voters around to locations in the southern part of the state during 2004. They accused local Dems of busing in people from Massachusetts to vote, abusing our same-day voter registration policy. The allegations were all over Boston talk radio at the time although nothing more came of the allegations.
There have also been rumors from people I know in Boston who claim there are people doing this. One activist I know has claimed that electrical workers have done this the last two election cycles. I don't know if this is true, but the accusation has been raised.
Of course, Democrats and union officials who were using the buses countered that the buses were rented for the day to assist with GOTV operations - not to stuff ballot boxes.
In 2005, the Legislature had a number of bills come up during the session, mostly forwarded by Republicans, to address the issue of tighter same-day registration policies as well as college kids voting. I covered a lot of the Election Committee hearings as a radio journalist during that time. Essentially the Republican's logic - and I have to agree with them slightly - is that dorm rooms in college towns are not homes. Out-of-state students live in other places and come to New Hampshire to go to school. So, they should vote absentee in their home states, not at their colleges.
In an effort to increase younger voter turnout nationally, a lot of college towns across the country have made it easier to vote in their towns, loosening registration requires.
In Massachusetts, for example, you don't have to show any proof of residency. However, the issue of easy registration leads to some consternation in swing states, as you can imagine. In New Hampshire, you used to have to show a utility bill or a license to vote and now, it looks like those requirements are no longer policy, opening up the state to massive fraud by anyone with the ability to organize such a fraud [I'm in the process of clarifying whether this is true or not].
But the question remains: Why should a student from New York vote in Hanover when all their stuff is in New York and their parents live in New York? In addition, if a student has received local college aid, and changes their voter registration, therefore, changing their residency, they could risk losing their college aid. This has been known to happen in the past.
The Legislature rejected all the measures forwarded and the issues have remained but it made for some interesting news stories and debates.
If we had a popular vote election, in would not matter where the college students voted. Since we have an Electoral College system, based on the state wins, it becomes an issue. Whether or not there is fraud is another issue entirely. New Hampshire has pretty loose rules when it comes to checking things, if you have the money to do it. Obviously, with so many people seeing things they cannot explain or do not understand, every step should be taken to double-check and make sure that things are legal.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ron Paul ends N.H. recount effort

This letter was just sent out by a Ron Paul supporter:

Update: Vote fraud at Iowa caucuses

This is an update to the previous entry I put together in the wake of the Iowa Caucuses about a week ago: ["Rumor: Vote fraud at Iowa Caucus?"].

Unity08 folks packing up their tent?

It looks like it. Here is an email I received on Thursday [yeah, I know, I'm just getting to some emails now]:

One of our principles at the outset of this audacious project was transparency and openness. Too often in our recent political history, what you see has not been what you get.

For this reason, we are writing you today to lay out the current status of Unity08 and its possible paths going forward.

First, however, it's important to reflect upon what we have accomplished together in shaping the current political discussion and building a sense of what is possible in this crucial election year. Two of our core ideas, the importance of a centrist, bi-partisan approach to the solving of our nation's problems and the possibility of an independent, unity ticket for the presidency, have already come from far-out to mainstream.

Barack Obama, for example, has made the theme of unity and the necessity of bridging the partisan divide an absolutely central theme of his campaign. And just last week, a group of former and present national office holders comprised of independents, Republicans and Democrats met in Oklahoma for the sole purpose of stating their belief that at the present perilous moment, a unity government is the only hope of solving the nation's mounting problems. When you find agreement between the likes of former RNC chairman Bill Brock and Gary Hart, you're onto something.

And, of course, waiting in the wings should the divide persist, is the potential of a serious non-partisan candidacy in the person of the Mayor of New York (two of our founders, Doug Bailey and Gerald Rafshoon, have stepped down from the board and may have more to say about their plans in the near future).

Waiting in the wings, should the divide persist, is the potential of a serious non-partisan candidacy by Mike Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York (two of our founders, Doug Bailey and Gerald Rafshoon, have stepped down from the board and may have more to say about their plans in the near future).

Can Unity08 take full credit for these remarkable developments? Of course not. But through this website, your active involvement, innumerable news stories, op-eds, and public appearances by friends like Sam Waterston, we certainly have helped to bring these ideas to the forefront of the current political discussion.

So in a larger sense, we have accomplished a major portion of what we set out to do. But in the specifics and logistics, we have fallen short.

At the current moment, we don't have enough members or enough money to take the next step toward achieving ballot access in 50 states, reaching the goal of establishing our online convention, and nominating a Unity ticket for president and vice president this coming fall.

The past year has taught us that it's tough to rally millions for a process without a candidate or an issue. In the past, third party movements that have broken through the monopoly of the established parties have always been based on a person (Teddy Roosevelt in 1912 or Ross Perot in the last decade) or a burning issue (slavery in the case of the insurgent Republican party in 1860). Motivating people to fix a broken system that drives candidates to the extremes by creating something more inclusive and sensible has proven to be a lot harder than we expected.

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

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

And so reluctantly, especially given the volatility of the present situation, we're forced to scale back, but not cease our operations, and suspend our ballot access project. Our website will become less interactive (it takes staff to answer hundreds of e-mails a day) and we can't in good faith make the $5 million commitment necessary to make a serious start on ballot access.

But we're not closing our doors. We believe it is important to see our case against the FEC through (both for Unity08 and any similar movement in the future) and be ready to gear up if (when) we win our case and political circumstances warrant later this spring. Unity is in the air right now, and Mayor Bloomberg seems poised to run on his own campaign (and the fact is that two independent candidacies wouldn't work) if the parties leave the sensible center open. But all this could change in a matter of weeks.

We still believe strongly that we have the right idea, but it just might (emphasize "might" because who knows what can happen in the next month) not be the right time. In the meantime, a sincere, profound thanks for your help, involvement and support so far and please keep pushing for the simple, but very powerful, idea that solutions to our nation's problems are going to take ideas and hard work from all Americans, and that a political system whose stock-in-trade is division may well be the biggest problem of all.

Please know that you have already made a difference and are at the forefront of a movement that may yet save the country.

Robert Bingham
Angus King
Peter Ackerman
Zach Clayton
Lindsay Ullman

Board of Directors, Unity08

While I would like to see what happens and keep quiet on this, I can't. This seems like another lost opportunity which is really too bad.
Of course, there are rumors all over the place about Bloomberg thinking about a run, with Sen. Chuck Hagel as a possible VP. That seems to be separate from the Unity08 project. But after repeated denials about running, are we supposed to trust Bloomberg now? The guy even went on TV saying, I'm not running. How is he going to get out of this one? The American people convinced me to change my mind? When? Where? Bloomberg would have been smarter to have taken the honest route and either played coy or not talked about it.
And while I truly want to hope that all these folks toying with the idea of a centrist/bi-partisan movement have the best interests of the nation at heart, I can't help but feel even more leery about them. I see the names of some of the people involved in some of this bi-partisan/centrist thing and know that the American people should probably fear this movement. I could be wrong, but that's my gut instinct.
Here's why: The simple fact is that sometimes consensus, or "consensusitis," as I like to call it, is the worst possible public policy solution. It often brings havoc and destruction upon the American middle class and the working families of our country. It also ends up approving things which never should be approved in the first place. Any time you see one side of a major project or argument start talking about bringing people together, harden your position or run the other way. It is often a trap. I have seen it happen again and again. 'Let's bring everyone together,' they'll say, and the next thing you know, the worst outcome happens. Be fearful of "community studies" and planning arrangements where a whole slew of people say one thing, and then on the report, the exact opposite is written by the one person in control of the study [The 9/11 Commission is a good example of these kinds of errors. They ignored comments by hundreds of witnesses which is no surprise when you find out that the guy who wrote the thing was a member of the NSA. Even Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton are rejecting parts of their own commission at this point].
Take a look at the language this group forwards. It isn't about "divisiveness," it's about left and right; it isn't about joining the nation in reality, it is about keeping the extremes from getting the nominations and dividing the nation. But there are good ideas on both the extreme sides of the national parties ... ideas supported by millions and millions of people.
For example, fair trade versus the cult of free trade are championed by both extremes of each party. I would contend, and I bet the majority of Americans would agree, that this is good, sound public policy. Even Libertarians agree that tariffs are better than income taxes. Yet, every single one of the people thinking about this "centrist/bi-partisan movement" is a free trader and would even call "the Halloween Coalition" of Jerry Brown, Ralph Nader, Ross Perot, and Pat Buchanan as extreme. Well, sorry, they're wrong on this and most Americans know it.
Here is another example: Most of the people involved in this movement are defense hawks and supported the blowing out of federal budgets for more and more defense and intelligence spending. As I have noted before, these are the same people who couldn't defend the country from 9/11 and they all got more and more money! The extremes of both political spectrums, Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, Dennis Kucinich, and Ralph Nader, want these budgets slashed in order to bring about peace in the world and prosperity at home. These people in "the centrist/bi-partisan movement" would stand against that, instead probably wanting more money to be spent on these things. But most Americans are worried about their health care and the economy more than terrorism - by huge margins.
On the same theme, look at social spending. Many of these people support privatization of Social Security because, while they were elected officials, they blew through all the extra Social Security surplus and replaced it with IOUs to foreign banks. The system will go broke in about 35 years. Instead of fixing it - by slashing defense spending, foreign aid, and other things, along with eliminating loopholes on corporate welfare, subsidies, and giveaways - all of these people want to cut social spending. Most Americans polled don't support this. They support putting the money back and having everyone pay their fair share, whatever that is. This policy isn't just coming from the liberal perspective. Even Ron Paul says we have to cut the foreign war money and pay for our own people. Think about that for a second.
Those are just three public policy issues where these people are dead wrong and the extremes are correct. So, who is really the problem here?
Initially, I thought the Unity08 idea was an interesting one and even signed on to vote in the online primary. Since I'm an indie, why not? But, as I said when I first heard about this, getting on all 50 state ballots is a huge undertaking. It can't be done without the candidates being ready. You can't have an online convention in September and hope to get on enough ballots to compete. The system is rigged against that. So, from the start, this group was going to have problems.
In the long haul, as they have hinted at in this letter, 2008 might not be the election to attempt this. But if not now, when?
While thinking about all this though, here are some other ideas this group could work on. Maybe they should analyze ballot access laws [Richard Winger of Ballot Access News could help with that] and attempt to change the laws in each state to make it easier to get indies on the ballot late in the game. That would be worthy of a massive fundraising effort on the part of this group. Pick the worst states and fix the problems. This way a future online convention and late-starting indie campaign like this group suggested might easily become a reality - especially in light of the possibility that the nominees of both parties, especially Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side and Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney on the Republican side, might be extremely divisive. That would be just one worthy endeavor of this group.