Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stop the Oil Speculators

Guest Perspective/Ralph Nader

What factors are causing the zooming price of crude oil, gasoline and heating products? What is going to be done about it?

Don’t rely on the White House—with Bush and Cheney marinated in oil—or the Congress—which has hearings that grill oil executives who know that nothing is going to happen on Capitol Hill either.

Last week the price of crude oil reached about $130 a barrel after spiking to $140 briefly. The immediate cause? Guesses by oil man T. Boone Pickens and Goldman Sachs that the price could go to $150 and $200 a barrel respectivly in the near future. They were referring to what can be called the hoopla pricing party on the New York Mercantile Exchange. (NYMEX)

Meanwhile, consumers, workers and small businesses are suffering with the price of gasoline at $4 a gallon and diesel at $4.50 a gallon. Suffering but not protesting, except for a few demonstrations by independent truckers.

A consumer and small business revolt could be politically powerful. But what would they revolt to achieve? Their government is paralyzed and is unable to indicate any action if oil goes up to $200 or $400 a barrel. Washington, D.C. is leaving people defenseless and drawing no marker for when it will take action.

Oil was at $50 a barrel in January 2007, then $75 a barrel in August 2007. Now at $130 or so a barrel, it is clear that oil pricing is speculative activity, having very little to do with physical supply and demand. An essential product—petroleum—is set by speculators operating on rumor, greed, and fear of wild predictions.

Over the time since early 2007, U.S. demand for petroleum has fallen by 1 percent and world demand has risen by 1.3 percent. Supplies of crude are so plentiful, according to the Wall Street Journal, “traders of physical crude oil say their market is suffering from too much supply, not too little.”

Iran, for instance, is storing 25 million barrels of heavy, sour crude oil because, in the words of Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, Iran’s oil governor, “there are simply no buyers because the market has more than enough oil.”

Mike Wittner, head of oil research at Societe Generale in London agrees. “There’s various signals out there saying for right now, the markets are well supplied with crude.”

Historically, oil has been afflicted with the control of monopolists. From the late nineteenth century days of John D. Rockefeller, and his Standard Oil monopoly, to the emergence of the “Seven Sisters” oligopoly, made up of Standard Oil, Shell, BP, Texaco, Mobil, Gulf and Socal, to the rise of OPEC representing the major producing countries, the “free market” price of oil has been a mirage. Despite the breakup of the Standard Oil company by the government’s trustbusters about 100 years ago, selling cartels and buying oligopolies kept reasserting themselves.

In an ironic twist, the major price determinant has moved from OPEC (having only 40% of the world production) and the oil companies to the speculators in the commodities markets. What goes on in the essentially unregulated New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX)—without Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) enforced margin requirements, and, unlike your personal purchases, untaxed—is now the place that leads to your skyrocketing gasoline bills. OPEC and the Big Oil companies reap the benefits and say that it’s not their doing, but that of the speculators. Gives new meaning to “passing the buck.”

Deborah Fineman, president of Mitchell Supreme Fuel Co. in Orange, New Jersey, summed up the scene: “Energy markets have been dictated for too long by hedge funds and speculators, who artificially manipulate the numbers for their own benefit. The current market isn’t based on the sound principles of supply and demand but it is being rigged by companies and speculators who are jacking up prices for their own greed.”

Harry C. Johnson, former banker who worked for many years inside Big Oil and ran his own small oil company in Oklahoma, blames the CFTC, the Department of Energy, the Administration, and Congress, as “asleep at the switch on an issue that is probably costing U.S. consumers $1 billion per day.”

He cites “some industry experts, who profit greatly from the high price of crude, and have stated openly that the worldwide economic price of crude, absent speculators, would be around $50 to $60 per barrel.

Imagine, our government is letting your price for gasoline and home heating oil be determined by a gambling casino on Wall Street called NYMEX. The people need regulatory protection from speculators and an excess profits tax on Big Oil.

In addition, a sane government would see the present price crises as an opportunity to expand our passenger and freight railroad capacity and technology.

A sane government would drop all subsidies and tax loopholes for Big Oil’s huge profits and other fossil fuels and promote a national mission to solarize our economy to achieve major savings from energy conservation technology, retrofitting buildings, and upgrading efficiency standards for motor vehicles, home appliances, industrial engines and electric generating plants.

Those are the permanent ways to achieve energy independence, reduce our trade deficit, create good jobs that can’t be exported and protect the environmental health of people and nature.

Those are the reforms and advances that a muscular consumer, worker and small business revolt can focus on in the coming weeks.

What say you, America?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bob Barr wins Libertarian nomination ...

On the sixth ballot, former GOP U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia has won the Libertarian Party nomination. With Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney guaranteed to get 20 or more state ballots, this is going to be a very interesting election.

Update: Thinking a little more about this, after the Dem contest has been settled [OK, let me rephrase, after Hillary comes to her senses and ends her campaign ...], Barr, McKinney, and Nader, should meet in a joint press conference and call on the two major party candidates to allow them into multiple debates between September and November, maybe even completely bypassing the Presidential Debate Commission. For whatever reason, the independent candidates refuse to come together in this way, calling on all to be seated. Well, now is the time.

Build Consensus Even When It's Hard

Guest Perspective/Lee Hamilton

If you believe, as I do, that building consensus among competing factions is the only way to tackle the persistent challenges that threaten to hamstring our nation, then you have to be prepared to deal with one hard truth: It's extraordinarily difficult to do.

The diversity of public opinion, the intense partisanship of recent years, media coverage that thrives on division - all this and more makes hammering out agreement on difficult issues seem a Herculean task.

Yet Americans want their elected leaders to work across party lines. Over the past year or so, I've been asked on any number of occasions how two groups on which I served, the 9/11 Commission and the Iraq Study Group, managed to encourage men and women with partisan commitments to produce forward-looking policy ideas on two highly charged issues. We did this in spite of a truly venomous partisan atmosphere in Washington and our keen awareness that powerful interests had much at stake in what we'd end up saying.

Admittedly, both groups were far less complicated than the Congress or a state legislature, where consensus has to be built on scores of issues, not just one. Yet the core principles of consensus-building, I believe, apply no matter how large the body.

Congress certainly understood this in the past. Many times over the years, it has worked in a cooperative way to build consensus behind major legislation. The GI Bill, the Marshall Plan, welfare reform in the 1990s - all took considerable bipartisan legwork to pass. As political scientist Paul Light concluded in his recent book about America's 50 greatest legislative achievements over the past half-century, these accomplishments "reflect a stunning level of bipartisan commitment."

Greatness in policy-making, in other words, requires great effort in consensus-building.

To begin with, it's crucial to work cooperatively, rather than confrontationally. It was clear from the start that in order to do our work well, both the 9/11 Commission and the Iraq Study Group would have to delve into arenas that were politically touchy for the White House. Rather than trying to bludgeon the administration into submitting information we needed, however, we kept lines of communication open and spent many hours in dialogue with them; we understood their concerns for national security and the prerogatives of the presidency, and wanted to make sure they grasped our determination to fulfill our mandates by having access to key officials and documents.

Some of Congress' greatest achievements have unrolled in the same fashion: by members working closely with one another and with the White House to craft legislation that took into account the concerns of all involved.

Our commissions also came to understand something that veteran members of Congress already know: it helps enormously to find informal ways of getting together. This takes an investment of time that lawmakers these days often feel they dont have, yet it pays big dividends. It is pretty hard to get and stay mad at someone when you know them well. Building a rapport allows people to surmount tensions that might otherwise derail them. They let humor defuse sticky arguments, and build a respect for one another that ensures that disagreements will focus on the issues at hand, not on party interests.

These relationships also encourage lawmakers, commission members and any other group of people considering policy options to take the time they need for vigorous debate - in other words, to deliberate carefully and build consensus methodically.

Perhaps the most important step, though, is to focus on facts. The facts of the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath, the facts of what was taking place in Iraq - these were neither ideological nor partisan. By agreeing on what had happened, we could deliberate fruitfully on our recommendations and sidestep arguments about whether the Clinton and Bush administrations had done enough to combat terrorism, or which past U.S. policies deserved support or condemnation. In a city where partisanship is as much part of the atmosphere as nitrogen and oxygen, this was an invigorating move. Focusing on the facts may not guarantee agreement, but it enhances the prospects of reaching agreement.

In the end, building consensus is straightforward. Work cooperatively, not confrontationally. Look at your colleagues as colleagues, not political adversaries. Agree on facts before you apply your ideology to policy. Take ample time to understand different views and deliberate on where you're going. Search for areas of agreement, and do not exaggerate areas of disagreement. Get people focused on the national interest, not on partisan advantage. And decide from the get-go that you're going to reach an agreement, not use disagreement to score political points.

I believe Americans are starved for just this sort of approach. Let us hope that our elected leaders are ready to give it a try.

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

NY radio ads cause a stink ...

These billboards around NYC have caused a big stink.
I caught this story on the posting board. Apparently, K-Rock wanted to get some attention for their new, tweaked format. Well, they did. And a lot of folks are ticked.
You know, I can understand why these very sexist ads might offend some folks. But, on other hand, the female form is such an awesome, beautiful thing. As well, it isn't called "sex, drugs, and rock and roll ..." or "sex, hugs, and rock and roll," if you are Meatloaf, for nothing.
The new billboards will now feature a big swath of red paint with the word "CENSORED" over the backs of the ladies.

Slot cars!

I started resubscribing to the WSJ. I decided to let my UL subscription lapse instead. I really missed getting the Journal. Of course, I didn't get the Saturday edition today. So, three days into my new resubscription, the delivery problems have already started. Sigh.
Although, in today's edition, there is this story, about the new high-tech digital slot car racing, including a pretty good video too.
This is why folks are reading the newspaper online. You really do get more. But, it just isn't the same as reading the physical newspaper.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Nader and Barr poll numbers ...

Reuters/Zogby released a poll yesterday:

Barack Obama: 47 percent
John McCain: 37 percent
Ralph Nader: 4 percent
Bob Barr: 3 percent
Not sure/Other: 10 percent

I wonder who the "Other" is.

Hang tough Barack ...

She can't be on the ticket: ["Can Clinton muscle to a VP nod?"]. Trust me. You'll lose the presidency.

You know times are hard when ...

A representative to Congress can't make the mortgage payment: ["Congresswoman denies foreclosure report"]. Feel free to yuck it up ...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rice and Richardson for Vice President? Perhaps Not Such a Good Idea

By Rich Rubino

She is an African-American, holds a PhD in Political Science, is the former Provost at Stanford University, served as Senior Director of Soviet and East European Affairs, served as National Security Advisor, and is currently U.S. Secretary of State.

He is half Latino, served 14 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, held the post of Ambassador to the U.N. and was U.S. Energy Secretary. He is currently Governor of New Mexico and is very popular in that important swing state, having garnered 69% of the electorate in his re-election bid.

Republican Condoleezza Rice and Democrat Bill Richardson appear to be superlative candidates for Vice President. Rice’s resume will likely be scintillating to presumptive Republican nominee John McCain. Richardson’s resume and perceived electoral potency will undoubtedly bring serious consideration from the Democratic presidential nominee.

However, as the old axiom goes, “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” While on paper, Rice and Richardson appear to be outstanding vice presidential candidates; both would create serious problems for their respective tickets.

Rice’s problem comes primarily from her tenure as National Security Advisor. If Rice were to get the nod, Democrats would assail her for her failure to take the Al-Qaeda threat seriously prior to 9/11. Ad makers would be elated with thoughts of using clips from Rice’s 2004 testimony before the 9/11 Commission when commission-member Richard Ben-Venise asked Rice: “You acknowledge that Richard Clark [Counter-Terrorism Coordinator] told you that Al-Qaeda cells were in the United States. Did you tell the President anytime prior to August 6 [2001] of the existence of Al-Qaeda cells in the United States?” Rice answered: “I don’t remember the Al-Qaeda cells as being something that we were told we needed to do something about.” The ad might then show Ben-Veniste asking Rice: “Isn’t it a fact Dr. Rice that the August 6 PDB [Presidential Daily Briefing] warned against possible attacks on this country, and I ask you weather you recall the title of that PDB.” Rice responded: “I believe the title was Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.”

The ad would then display the title of Rice’s 2003 article published in the New York Times: “Why We Know Iraq Is lying.” Her article makes the case that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction. The ad would conclude with a still photo of Rice with a voice-over saying: “Condolezza Rice --- Wrong on Al-Qaeda --- Wrong on Iraq. Can we trust her to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency?”

Richardson’s tribulation stems from his time as U.S. Energy Secretary. In 2000, while Richardson was spending much time campaigning for presidential candidate Al Gore, two computer hard-drives with designs of the nation’s nuclear labs went missing from the Los Alamos Nuclear facility following a fire. They were later found behind a copy machine. During a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Richardson suffered a bi-partisan excoriation for a perceived malfeasance and inattention to his job. Members of his own party, including West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, lambasted Richardson for refusing to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the grounds that he had no answers. Byrd said to Richardson: “You have shown a supreme, a supreme contempt of the committees of this Congress . . . you have squandered your treasure, and I am sorry.” The following warning might follow this sound-bite: “If members of his own party can’t trust Richardson with national security matters, can we?”

It is extremely important that a vice presidential running-mate not antagonize the base of the presidential candidate’s party. John McCain is presently trying to establish rapprochement with the conservative base. Many conservatives are incensed with McCain’s deviations from right-wing orthodoxy on a litany of issues such as illegal immigration, Campaign Finance Reform, and climate change. Rice’s vice presidential candidacy may make a rapprochement impossible. Rice leaves the conservative reservation on what for many conservatives is a litmus test issue: abortion. She calls herself: “mildly pro-choice.” To many conservatives, opposition to abortion rights is non-negotiable, and the thought of a potential president who does not share their views could force them to sit out the election.

Richardson ran to the left during his now aborted presidential campaign. When the Democratic base looks at his history, they will find two major departures from the Left Wing. The first was Richardson’s strong advocacy for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which many liberals blame for job hemorrhaging. In fact, Barack Obama, Richardson’s potential running-mate, slammed the treaty for shipping “jobs overseas and forcing parents to compete with their teenagers to work for minimum wage at Wal-Mart.” Richardson, a Congressman at the time, orchestrated the successful effort to Shepard NAFTA through the House when he was Chief Deputy Whip. Richardson’s prior support of NAFTA will have the duel distraction of alienating the Democratic base and de-energizing swing-voters in the critical NAFTA-sensitive industrial mid-west.

Richardson’s second major departure from Left-Wing orthodoxy was his advocacy for maintaining U.N. sanctions on Iraq. Many liberals maintained that the sanctions dramatically debilitated Iraq’s economy. UNICEF, for example, contends that the sanctions led to the deaths of over a million Iraqis, including over half a million children due to malnutrition, lack of medical supplies, and diseases caused by a lack of clean water and chlorine. Dennis Halliday, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Baghdad, resigned in protest, saying: “I don't want to administer a program that satisfies the definition of genocide.” Former Democratic Minority Whip David Bonier called the policy: “infanticide masquerading as policy.”

In 2005, when challenged by Voice Of America’s Amy Goodman, “Do you think the price was worth it, 500,000 children dead?” without challenging the premise of the question, Richardson deadpanned: “Well, I believe our policy was correct, yes.”

If Richardson garners the vice-presidential nomination, that clip will be played ad nauseam in the media. Hearing a potential vice-president callously defending the death of 500.000 children can only lead to consternation among his Democratic base and will cause Richardson to spend critical time defending himself.

Both Rice and Richardson have attractive resumes, but if chosen, McCain and the Democratic nominee had better have a plan for dealing with the firestorm of criticism their choices will surely elicit. Proponents of Rice and Richardson should be careful what they wish for.

Rich Rubino, a resident of Marblehead, Massachusetts, is a political advisor specializing in independent political campaigns. He is a graduate of Assumption College and holds a Masters Degree in Journalism from Emerson College. He was a policy advisor to the Christy Mihos 2006 Massachusetts Gubernatorial Campaign.

Is Obama eyeing Kansas?

Some weird traffic on the Web has me wondering whether or not Barack Obama is planning on choosing Kan. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as a running mate.
I don't want to go into why I am speculating about this. But let's just say that some folks in D.C. are casting a very wide search net, gathering data from around the Web about John McCain's shellacking at the hands of Mike Huckabee in the Kansas primary back in February.
This is pure speculation on my part. I'm just putting 2 and 2 together to see if the answer is 4 or not. I could be totally wrong on this.
But if Obama does pick Sebelius, it would be a safe bet. She is on everyone's short list right now. She would also deflect major criticisms of an Obama general election campaign: He would be joined on the ticket by a midwestern, more conservative Democratic woman. How could the Hillary supporters complain at that point?
As well, if Obama can hold the Kerry states, win back Iowa and New Mexico to the Democrat side, and win Kansas' 6 electoral college votes, he would beat McCain, 270-268. Obama wouldn't need Ohio or Florida.
Ideally, I would prefer to see Obama pick U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, a champion of worker's rights and an anti-NAFTA activist that Naderites and Perotistas could get excited about. That might just be enough to pull the election off, assuming McCain makes a really stupid VP pick or stumbles badly this fall.

Obama inches over majority delegate threshold but ...

Hillary won't quit. She's also $31 million in the hole now, money that Obama will be expected to help her raise if he wins the nomination. So, let me get this straight: Hillary can continue to burn through money like this, hurting Obama's general election chances, but he will be expected to help her raise more money to pay off her bills? And we wonder why Democrats can't be trusted to run things? That's not party unity, that's insanity. That's rewarding backstabbing. It's ridiculous.

Clinton: 459,145 65 percent
Obama: 209,771 30 percent
Uncommitted: 18,029 3 percent

McCain: 142,855 72 percent
Huckabee: 16,239 8 percent
Paul: 13,439 7 percent
Uncommitted: 10,630 5 percent
Romney: 9,151 5 percent
Giuliani: 3,126 2 percent
Keyes: 2,138 1 percent

Obama: 330,533 58 percent
Clinton: 235,937 42 percent

McCain: 262,433 85 percent
Paul: 45,978 15 percent

Anyone know what John Cox received since some of his campaign folks are still saying that there is going to be a floor fight on the GOP convention floor and he will slip in as the nominee?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

'To know and not to do is not to know'

By Ralph Nader

Mountain View, California – An invitation to visit Google’s headquarters and meet some of the people who made this ten year old giant that is giving Microsoft the nervies has to start with wonder.

The “campus” keeps spreading with the growth of Google into more and more fields, even though advertising revenue still comprises over 90 percent of its total revenues. The company wants to “change the world,” make all information digital and accessible through Google. Its company motto—is “Do No Evil,” which comes under increasing scrutiny, especially in the firm’s business with the national security state in Washington, D.C. and with the censors of Red China.

Google’s two founders out of Stanford graduate school—Sergey Brin and Larry Page—place the highest premium on hiring smart, motivated people who provide their own edge and work their own hours.

We were given “the tour” before entering a large space to be asked and answer questions before an audience of wunderkinds. E-mail traffic was monitored worldwide with a variety of electronic globes with various lights marking which countries were experiencing high or low traffic. Africa was the least lit. One of our photographers started to take a picture but was politely waved away with a few proprietary words. A new breed of trade secrets.

I noticed all the places where food—free and nutritious—was available. The guide said that food is no further than 150 feet from any workplace. “How can they keep their weight down with all these tempting repasts?” I asked. “Wait,” he said, leading us toward a large room where an almost eerie silence surrounded dozens of exercising Googlelites going through their solitary motions at 3:45 in the afternoon.

“How many hours do they work?” one of my colleagues asked. “We don’t really know. As long as they want to,” came the response.

In the amphitheatre, the director of communications and I started a Q and A, followed by more questions from the audience. It was followed by a YouTube interview. You can see both of them on: (Q&A) and (Interview)

Google is a gigantic information means, bedecked with ever complex software, to what end? Information ideally leads to knowledge, then to judgment, then to wisdom and then to some action. As the ancient Chinese proverb succinctly put it—“To know and not to do is not to know.”

But what happens when a company is riding an ever rising crest of digitized information avalanches without being able to catch its breath and ask, “information for what?” I commented that we have had more information available in the last twenty five years, though our country and world seem to be getting worse overall; measured by indicators of the human condition. With information being the “currency of democracy,” conditions should be improving across the board.

“Knowledge for what?” I asked. Well, for starters, Google is trying to figure out how to put on its own Presidential debates, starting with one in New Orleans in the autumn. Certainly it can deliver an internet audience of considerable size. But will the major candidates balk if there are other candidates meeting criteria such as a majority of Americans wanting them to participate?

The present Commission on Presidential Debates is a private nonprofit corporation created and controlled by the Republican and Democratic Parties (see They do not want other seats on the stage and the television networks follow along with this exclusionary format.

Google, with its own Foundation looking for creative applications that produce results for the well-being of people, should hold regular public hearings on the ground around the country for ideas. They may be surprised by what people propose.

In any event, the examples of knowing but not doing are everywhere. More people succumbed to tuberculosis in the world last year than ten years ago. Medical scientists learned how to treat TB nearly fifty years ago. Knowledge alone is not enough.

For years the technology to present the up-to-date voting record of each member of Congress has been available. Yet only about a dozen legislators do so, led by Reps. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Chris Shays (R-CT). Recalcitrant power blocks what people most want directly from their lawmakers’ website. Here Google can make the difference with Capitol Hill, if it wants to connect information technology to informed voters.

When the internet began, some of us thought that it would make it easy and cheap for people to band together for bargaining and lobbying as consumers. At last, the big banks, insurance companies, credit card companies, automobile firms and so forth would have organized countervailing consumer power with millions of members and ample full time staffs. It has not happened.

Clearly technology and information by themselves do not produce beneficial change. That depends on how decentralized political, economic and social power is exercised in a corporate society where the few decide for the many.

I left Google hoping for a more extensive follow-up conversation, grounded in Marcus Cicero’s assertion, over 2000 years ago, that “Freedom is participation in power.” That is what connects knowledge to beneficial action, if people have that freedom.

I hope my discussions with the Google staff produced some food for thought that percolates up the organization to Google’s leaders.

Wow ... Howie Carr surprises me ...

Howie Carr just opened the show by saying that they would not allow tasteless comments on the program today.
"Let's keep it on a decent level today," he said. "It's a sad day for his family. We don't wish this on anybody."
All I can say is Wow.

Ted K has a brain tumor ...

It's malignant and it's all over the news. My first thoughts were, Boy, that sucks. Second thoughts? He should call it a day and retire from the Senate. It would be a free-for-all campaign not unlike 2004 when everyone and his uncle was thinking about running for the supposed open John Kerry seat. Third thoughts? What will Howie Carr do today at 3 p.m.

Standing head?

["Bush intends to attack Iran before the end of his term"]

Monday, May 19, 2008

Massive crowds

This picture says it all: ["Obama's swept away by sea of supporters 2 days before Oregon vote"]. And this is just sad: ["As Time Runs Short, Clinton Claims Lead In Popular Vote"]. I find it funny that Hillary is dragging this out when in 1992, the Clintons did everything they could to make Jerry Brown quit the race. They are pathetic.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Piling on Hillary ...

The Edwards endorsement of Obama is clearly a move to pile on.
I just took a quick look at the C-Span footage of Edwards and Obama from Michigan and while Edwards was extremely gracious towards Clinton in his speech, this move is a clear message: It's time to get behind the person who is going to be the nominee.
"When this nomination battle is over ... and it will be over soon ... we must come together as Democrats ..." etc.
Drudge is wondering if Obama and Edwards are "The Ticket?" but I doubt that is going to happen. I think if Edwards had stayed in and had more than 26 delegates on hand, maybe. The New York Times is reporting tonight that Edwards might reconsider his earlier comments that he would consider the VP slot or a cabinet position: ["John Edwards endorses Barack Obama"].
I like John Edwards a lot. I voted for him in the primary. His message is clear and he is correct. But he was not the best VP candidate in 2004 [granted, that was mostly John Kerry's campaign's fault, handcuffing him] I don't know if he would be the best one for Obama. I don't know who would be but I don't think Edwards is the best choice.
However, check out this line in the Times story:
But privately, he told aides that he would consider the role of vice president, and favored the position of attorney general, which would appeal to his experience of decades spent in courtrooms as a trial lawyer in North Carolina; and his desire to follow in the footsteps of Robert F. Kennedy, one of his heroes.
Now, that's the way to do it. Edwards as the AG would almost be as good as Ralph Nader being the AG. That's the way to go. Let's hope Obama is smart enough to make this move.

Edwards to endorse Obama

WMUR-TV and CNN are reporting that John Edwards will endorse Barack Obama, according to a source within the Obama organization. Interestingly, not a single former candidate has endorsed Clinton. Dodd, Edwards, and Richardson have endorsed Obama; Biden and Kucinich have been quiet; Gravel bolted for the Libertarian Party.

Update: Well, maybe this has changed. CNN has just taken off the banner headline announcing its breaking news about Edwards. So, maybe something has happened ... Did Bubba start screaming at him and Elizabeth?

Update 2: Whoops, never mind. Here's the story, literally updated a minute ago: ["Edwards to endorse Obama"].

Obama gets hammered in WV ...

But does it matter?
Clinton, 238,941, 67 percent, 20 delegates
Obama, 91,613, 26 percent, 8 delegates

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

'Liberty needs a voice and America needs a choice ...'

Those are the words of former GOP Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia as he announced he would be a Libertarian candidate for the presidency. Here is his YouTube announcement:

Russ Verney of Ross Perot fame is an advisor, according to press reports.
On half the issues facing the nation, Barr is dead-on correct. On others, he is bats.
If the two major party candidates are smart, they will agree to face off against Barr, Ralph Nader, and Cynthia McKinney, in televised debates and not be scared of the independents like the candidates of the past. 2008 could get very interesting.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Members of PrioritiesNH and New Hampshire Citizens Alliance "stirred it up" Thursday, as they celebrated their "mixer" over ice cream treats with Ben & Jerry's co-founder Ben Cohen.

PrioritiesNH, the campaign for sensible budget priorities known for its colorful pie charts and eye-catching vehicles, has become a project of New Hampshire Citizens Alliance. The PrioritiesNH campaign calls for cutting off funds for Pentagon waste and obsolete weapons and using the savings to fund priority programs like education, healthcare and energy independence.

As an affiliate of US Action, New Hampshire Citizens Alliance promotes the Invest in America's Future campaign, which calls for safely, responsibly ending the U.S. occupation of Iraq and making public investments in the same priorities: education, quality, affordable healthcare for all, and energy independence.

As a special guest of the "Stirring Committee" of the two groups, Cohen launched the "mixer" by stacking Oreo cookies to demonstrate the lopsided priorities of the federal budget. "We're still spending about $60 billion a year on weapons that are designed to fight the Soviet Union," said Cohen. "That money could be used to renovate and rebuild all the schools in the U.S., or provide healthcare to all the kids who don't have it, or help us gain energy independence."

NHCA Board of Directors Chair Margaret Duffy said, "There's great momentum here to build on. Bringing our organizations together strengthens our work to shift national priorities in directions that better meet the needs of us all."

Bob Marley's "Stir it Up" played in the background as the crowd at the Common Man Restaurant in Concord enjoyed Ben & Jerry's ice cream treats and wrote their ideas for the next phase of the campaigns on giant sheets of paper on the walls.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

For Hillary, the end is near ...

North Carolina

President - Dem Primary
721 of 2817 Precincts Reporting - 26%

NamePartyVotesVote %
Obama, BarackDem384,39960%

Clinton, HillaryDem246,41138%

No PreferenceDem7,7841%

Gravel, MikeDem4,2611%
President - GOP Primary
714 of 2817 Precincts Reporting - 25%

NamePartyVotesVote %
McCain, JohnGOP135,17275%

Huckabee, MikeGOP21,27112%

Paul, RonGOP13,2747%

No PreferenceGOP6,9834%

Keyes, AlanGOP4,3382%

President - Dem Primary
3537 of 5230 Precincts Reporting - 68%

NamePartyVotesVote %

Clinton, HillaryDem440,94953%

Obama, BarackDem391,76647%
President - GOP Primary
3540 of 5230 Precincts Reporting - 68%

NamePartyVotesVote %
McCain, JohnGOP233,60677%

Huckabee, MikeGOP31,36510%

Paul, RonGOP23,1248%

Romney, MittGOP14,6785%

Monday, May 5, 2008

It's kinda official: Hillary's chances are very slim

The NYT has this very cool delegate calculator showing what percentages of the remaining primaries and super delegates both Hillary and Obama need to win the Democratic nomination: ["Delegate Calculator"].
They show results based on each candidate's best result, as well as an average of the results.
For example, if Hillary gets election returns close to her best state - Arkansas, 77 percent - she will still need to win every state by that amount AND need 32 percent of the remaining super delegates to get the nom. If Obama can win the rest of the primaries by 53 percent, he will only need 22 percent of the leftover super delegates to win.
If this data is correct - and I have no reason to believe that it isn't - Hillary can't win. It's completely unrealistic to believe that she can. This means that she has no reason to stay in the race at this point unless she is a) gunning for the VP slot with Obama, which isn't going to happen, b) is hoping for a brokered convention where she can deny Obama the nom, or c) going to help McCain - willing or unwillingly - sink Obama so she can run against Huckabee or Romney in 2012.
As I have said for more than two years, it is going to be brokered convention. It's going to be mess. And I'm going to friggin' enjoy every minute of it!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

More evidence that Terminator is here ...

Creepy spider bug weapons are on the way: ["Robobug goes to war: Troops to use electronic insects to spot the enemy 'by the end of the year'"] and ["War of the future; Robot versus robot"].

Follow up: A blogger runs for reelection ...

Editor's Note: After the 2006 election, I found out that one of the new representatives to the New Hampshire Legislature was a blogger. Margaret Porter ousted Republican insider Tony Soltani for the seat. I decided to send her a follow up email to see what she thought of her first term.

First, have you decided whether you will be running for reelection?

I've already committed to running for re-election, and earlier in the year informed both my town committee and the Majority Office.

What do you think you have accomplished as a state representative in the last 18 months?

Where do I start? Such a busy, productive time!

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to vote in support of legislation that I feel benefits New Hampshire's citizens and their quality of life. Defining an adequate education, raising the minimum wage, re-establishing job training funding, providing financial support to higher education, ensuring civil unions for same-sex couples, expanding health care and preventative health care programs, eliminating straight-ticket voting, supporting small business and agri-business, approving North Country employment initiatives, protecting the state's natural resources, and providing a funding source for the L-CHIP program.

In the aftermath of the recently completed Fish & Game Department Performance Audit, I was appointed to the legislative subcommittee that will review some of its recommendations and craft appropriate legislation.

Within my district, I've closely tracked the environmental studies and findings related to the flooding of the Suncook River, which has had considerable local impact. I participated in the naming of the Epsom Traffic Circle for Officers Michael Briggs and Jeremy Charron. Recently, at the instigation of Congressman Hodes, I became involved in economic stimulus efforts in Pittsfield and attended the recent summit he convened in the town.

I'm responsive to the individual constituents who contact me--about pending legislation, or for assistance or information or resources. I help them to the best of my ability.

Two of the biggest issues, tax policy and education funding, still seem unresolved. Do you have any thoughts on why they are unresolved? In addition, what do you think will occur during the next session to remedy these issues?

Tax policy cannot be substantially altered by the Legislature as long as there is a Governor unwilling to approve any substantial change in the status quo. With regards to education, the Legislature has followed the timeline set by the court: last year, in bi-partisan fashion, we defined the components of an adequate education by the deadline imposed. In the next few weeks we should complete the adequacy costing analysis. The funding source can't be determined until the costs are known. I'm afraid I can't predict how these issues will be resolved in the next depends on numerous factors. For example: how the costing formula turns out, whether the Governor takes The Pledge again, if his Constitutional Amendment makes it onto the ballot in November, the decline in the economy, our state revenue shortfall, which party holds the majority.

Lastly, has it hurt or helped you to have come in as a writer/blogger/concerned citizen instead of a retiree and attorney?

I like to think that my background and all my life experiences provide a useful perspective. Certainly it helps that I'm accustomed to reading and analyzing printed materials--we deal with a lot of paper! My public speaking experience came in handy on occasion when I addressed the House. Though there are plenty of retirees in the House, their professions and expertise are broad and varied. I've encountered relatively few attorneys. In the area of Representatives Hall where I sit, there are young or middle-aged professionals. And college students!

Democrat Rep. Margaret Porter serves Merrimack County District 8 which represents Allenstown, Epsom, and Pittsfield. Her Web site is

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Surge technology?

Wow, check this out:

Question: Can anyone - anyone - hot rod my Honda Civic to do this? I spend $240 to $300 per month in gas to get to work. I will pay anyone a year's worth of gas - up to $3,600 - to upgrade my Honda to run on nothing but magnets. My email is above.

Speaking of gas, I have to agree with Barack Obama on the gas tax holiday thing. It's a completely silly argument and both Hillary Clinton and John McCain are pandering. Sure, I could use the $3 to $4 per week I pay in gas taxes back in my pocket. But gas taxes, for the most part, go toward road repairs and bridge construction. And after years and years of decay, our infrastructure is crumbling. So, the last thing anyone should do is roll back the gas tax. What should be done is that the government should implement price controls and they should do it now.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Trippi's regret is ours too ...

From Political Wire via Campaigns & Elections Magazine:
"I didn't tell him what I should have told him: That I had this feeling that if he stayed in the race he would win 300 or so delegates by Super Tuesday and have maybe a one-in-five chance of forcing a brokered convention. That there was a path ahead that would be extremely painful, but could very well put him and his causes at the top of the Democratic agenda. And that in politics anything can happen -- even the possibility that in an open convention with multiple ballots an embattled and exhausted party would turn to him as their nominee. I should have closed my eyes to the pain I saw around me on the campaign bus, including my own. I should have told him emphatically that he should stay in. My regret that I did not do so -- that I let John Edwards down -- grows with every day that the fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continues."
Ya know Joe, your regret is ours too. Now we are stuck with two mediocre candidates - one who is a borderline empty-suiter and the other who is obsessed with power. Next time, like in the past, don't hold back it and keep it on full throttle. I predicted almost two years ago that there might be a brokered convention. I still think there might be. But if Edwards had a few hundred delegates, he could have been a bigger player.