Monday, June 30, 2008

A Disastrous Budget Process

Guest Perspective/Lee Hamilton
Congress has slipped into uncharted and dangerous waters this summer. According to the rule books, this should be a time when the federal budget gets scrutinized and pieced together by a broad array of congressional committees and members on the floor. The last time Congress actually played by these rules for all of its spending bills was 14 years ago. This year, it’s barely even trying.
To be sure, both the House and the Senate passed a budget resolution in June, the first time since 2000 that they’ve adopted this formal guide to what lies ahead in an election year. This may be a small sign of growing dedication to the regular budget process, but it is still just a blueprint for spending, not the actual decisions to spend.
Setting the actual appropriations for the year looks much less promising. The Democratic leadership in Congress does not want a repeat of last year’s budget “negotiations,” in which they felt the White House essentially refused to negotiate. Since the White House is once again showing little sign that it is willing to find common ground, the Democratic leadership has signaled that it is comfortable waiting until next year for a new President, and possibly more Democratic seats in the House and Senate.
What seems to be a momentary standoff, though, is in fact a symptom of true political illness. Congress has lost the institutional ability to follow an orderly budget process. As a result it has undermined its own committees, shunted most of its members to the policy sidelines, failed to maintain the constitutional balance of powers, condemned the people who administer federal programs to season after season of uncertainty, and eroded the consensus-building, transparency, and accountability that keep our democracy vital.
Preparing the budget and setting the spending lies at the heart of what Congress does. It is how the Congress puts its stamp on the federal government. So its failure to adhere to effective process weakens it as an institution and weakens the country.
What should the process look like? As it evolved over many decades, it came to involve hearings and consultations by a multitude of committees, which would “authorize” spending by the federal agencies and departments for which they were responsible. Then appropriations subcommittees and the full appropriations committees would take up the task of actually approving the money to be spent, before sending separate bills for the various federal departments to the floor.
It was an orderly process that gave committee members a chance to examine the operations of the federal government and allowed ordinary House and Senate members to debate and amend the appropriations bills at several steps along the way. In other words, it promoted deliberation and the democratic give-and-take essential to a free society.
These days, we’re lucky if there’s more than one bill. The massive omnibus bills that Congress has gotten into the habit of passing wreak havoc with good governance and the democratic process. By shoving the entire budget into a single measure comprising thousands of pages, the leadership makes it virtually impossible for members of Congress to read through — let alone understand — what they’re being asked to vote on; undercuts members’ ability to ask hard questions and offer policy alternatives, represent their constituents, or file amendments; and makes planning ahead nearly impossible for everyone from the people who administer federal heating assistance to local school boards to federal contractors.
So why does Congress bypass transparency and accountability for a secretive and undemocratic form of policy-making bedlam? As the Congressional Quarterly Weekly put it not long ago, “There is a growing realization these days that the most powerful forces in the process — the congressional majority leadership, appropriators in both parties, the outside advocates who focus on spending-bill line items, and the president — actually stand to benefit.”
The leadership likes it, of course, because it focuses power in their hands; same with members of the appropriations committees, who find it easier to slip language into the bill behind closed doors. Lobbyists much prefer to focus on just a handful of members out of the limelight. And when the president needs to negotiate with only a few people on a single measure, his power is much greater than if his representatives are trying to juggle a multiplicity of members and bills. The only losers seem to be ordinary members of Congress and the American people.
There is a simple solution to all this. It’s called “the regular order.” For many years, Congress took up individual appropriations bills, debated them, and passed them on time. That process evolved for a reason: It safeguarded public discourse, enhanced congressional oversight, and buttressed the vital role Congress plays in forging consensus among diverse regions and constituencies.
If Congress wants to remain relevant and legitimate in these challenging times, it can start by reviving its disciplined approach to budgeting.
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.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

DEVO friggin' rule ...

I went to see DEVO on Friday night at Harborlights in the Seaport District of Boston with a couple of friends. I was going to write a review for the blog, but a writer for the Boston Herald has a pretty good one here: ["Devo whips Pavilion crowd into frenzy with back-to-futuristic set"].
I will add that I also could have done without Booji Boy aka Mark destroying the absolute otherwise amazing "Beautiful World," one of the best DEVO songs. I was also disappointed that "Through Being Cool" was not done, one of my faves. That said, they were really, really good and surprisingly so. "Gates of Steel," another favorite of mine, could be a hit today. Despite the almost 30-years-old material, it all stood the test of time, especially with the mix of older analog synthesizers and newer, digital technology. I went for a bit of nostalgia and to be entertained and I came away with an even deeper respect for the band than I already had.
The Tom Tom Club was OK. I have never been a huge fan and my friends were late arriving with my ticket, so I didn't really notice that the band was that loud from outside. That said, they weren't too bad either.
Boston music scenester Brett Milano, who was at the show, has this interview from Friday's Herald: ["The world finally catches up (devolves?) to Devo"].

Edwards top VP choice of some Iowa Dems

From ["Edwards remains a favorite in Iowa even if it is for VP"].
While this is very interesting, I doubt Edwards will be picked and despite my admiration for the guy, I hope he isn't picked for VP. I hope he is picked as Attorney General, something also mentioned by speculators. And yeah, the nation needs a hard-hitting trail lawyer who gives a damn about the poor in the AG's office so bad it isn't even funny.
I find the comment about Sen. Dodd being Secy of Labor a bit perplexing. Dodd voted for NAFTA, the worst thing to happen to organized labor and workers in the last 20 years. He's the last person who should be put in that office. As well, old dogs like Dodd, Sen. Biden, etc., aren't change. They are part of the problem in Washington. If Obama wins, he should be looking at new folks and new blood for some of these cabinet positions.

Supreme Court decision on gun ban was the correct one

I haven't finished reading through the 157 page, very complicated briefing by the Supreme Court on overturning the D.C. gun ban. A PDF of the decision is here: ["Syllabus: District of Columbia et al. v. Heller"].
But if the media is correct in their coverage of the decision, I'll admit that I'm quite happy about it. I also don't often agree with the UL editorial board but I saw this editorial this morning and it sums up some of my sentiments on the issue: ["Freedom rings: The 2nd Amendment lives"].
I don't, however, agree that just because a Democrat is elected in November for the presidency, more liberal judges will be appointed. That is a possibility, but not a guarantee.
I also worry about the court glossing over the other part of the 2nd Amendment which is very, very important: The right of revolution.
The Founders were extremely worried about tyrannical governments ruling over citizens and they had reason to worry. The last couple of presidents have shown that the Founders' fears were legit even if they were made more than 220 years ago. Starting under Clinton and continuing under Bush 43, the Bill of Rights have been shredded and Americans are now being spied on and regulated at a unprecedented rate. We are slowly becoming a banana republic.
That said, modern warfare and weaponry makes it impossible to overthrow a tyrannical government even if every single American believed it needed to be done. It would be impossible. Ordinary Americans would never been allowed to have the armaments needed to overthrow a corrupt administration. So, we'll all just have to be happy with the fact that this decision allows us to be safe and secure with regulated weapons in our homes. At least for now.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Live talk radio on Saturday morning

To Politizine readers:

Just a quick note to let you know that I will be a guest on "The Samantha Clemens Show" from 9 to 11 a.m. this Saturday on WMFO 91.5 FM, the Tufts community radio station out of Medford, Mass.

Don’t know what all the topics will be yet … we’re sorting that out now. A couple of months ago, we had a pretty good time chatting about politics and other things. So, it should be a fun time again this weekend.

If you want to listen in online or maybe even call in, feel free. The Web site is The phone number is 617-627-3800.

Norm Colemans' hilarious anti-Franken Web ad

I don't want to get too distracted with some of the Senate and Congressional campaigns going on in other states. However, I did see this Web ad and, frankly, I think it's pretty funny:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Riding the Rails

Guest Perspective by Ralph Nader

With the rapid expansion of federal spending responding to the perceived national security requirements after 9/11, passenger railroad supporters looked forward to a tripleheader.

First passenger railroad service would have to be upgraded and expanded to facilitate mass population evacuations from cities during attack emergencies.

Second, by embarking on a “national defense” passenger rail program, there would be less consumption of gasoline and less gridlock on congested highways.

Third, the energy efficiency of transporting people by intercity rail and commuter rail would diminish some of the buildup of greenhouse gases.

Right after 9/11, the airlines descended on Washington, D.C. and got a package of loans, guarantees and other federal assistance amounting to $15 billion.

AMTRAK got just about nothing. But then for this vast nation with large pockets of consistently clogged highways, AMTRAK has been getting very little federal aid since its creation in 1971 as a public service corporation. President Bush wants to cut what little (just over $1 billion a year) AMTRAK receives.

Consider this: according to the Government Accountability Office, AMTRAK has received a total of $30 billion during the last thirty six years in federal aid for its intercity train service over the entire country. A few weeks ago, the Federal Reserve bailed out Bear Stearns, a large, reckless investment banking firm on Wall Street for just under $30 billion.

Japan and Western European countries have modern, fast rail services, with modern equipment and solid rail beds coursing throughout their territories with governmental assistance. They are a public service, not meant to make a profit, anymore than public libraries or public schools, although the rail passengers do pay for their tickets.

In our country, AMTRAK has been starved by the federal government which lavishes taxpayer money on the airlines in a variety of ways.

As a result, AMTRAK has aging equipment, has to use the freight railroad beds and has very little money for rolling stock and track capacity, especially at critical “chokepoints” where delays occur with freight trains.

With soaring gasoline and airfare prices, more Americans are taking mass transit and AMTRAK to get to their destinations. AMTRAK is on the way to a record year, transporting over 27 million passengers in 2008, with ridership up over 12 percent from last year.

AMTRAK and its equipment suppliers, constrained by money, have been shrinking. Routes have been abandoned. Manufacturers of rail cars and locomotives have also diminished. So, expansion to meet the growing demand will be difficult and take some time. This passenger railroad carries less than 5 percent of the domestic passengers carried by the airlines.

Losing about $1 billion a year, AMTRAK’s financial needs are trivial compared to large for-profit corporations who feed from the public trough in Washington, D.C. Some Congressional help is finally on the way.

The House and the Senate have passed the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act with veto-proof margins to over-ride a threatened veto by George W. Bush.

Assuming no major changes in the House-Senate conference on the bill, AMTRAK will receive annual appropriations closer to $2 billion a year, compared to the current level of $1.2 billion. This includes money for capital investment, for reducing debt and expanding operating budgets for more passengers. There is also a matching-grant program for the states to expand service, similar to the program long in place for highway construction.

The large freight railroads are pressing Congress for public money and tax credits to upgrade railroad beds and pay for track expansion, which could redound to the benefit of passenger rail service as well.

The American people have to ask themselves how robust and convenient a modern passenger rail system they want. As good as the one in Canada? As good as the systems in France and Germany?

Given the way the federal government wastes money, there are many ways to justify a first-class, high-speed passenger rail system that will save more than it costs—especially in a security emergency, a national disaster like Katrina and the delays, fuel and pollution avoided.

All in all, a worthy topic for public debate during this political year.

NH Citizen Coalition Announces Public Funding of Elections Commission

On Wednesday, June 25 at 1:30 p.m. in the Legislative Office Building Lobby in Concord , the New Hampshire Coalition for Public Funding of Elections announced and celebrated the appointment of the Public Funding of Elections Commission.

Established by HB794, the commission will develop a plan to create and fund—without relying on the general fund—a voluntary system of public financing for election campaigns for the offices of governor, executive councilor and state senator. The commission’s report and recommendations are due December 1, 2008.

New Hampshire Coalition for Public Funding of Elections Steering Committee member, Commission Appointee, and Former State Senator Jim Rubens announced the appointments to the commission. In addition to himself, the appointed commissioners include John Rauh, president of Americans for Campaign Reform; Abigail Abrash Walton, faculty member at Antioch University New England; and Stuart Comstock-Gay, director of the Democracy Program at Demos: A Network of Ideas and Action.

By law, the commission should have been appointed by June 16. The governor’s two appointments are expected soon, after which the secretary of state is free to make his one appointment. Commissioners are appointed for their support of and expertise in public funding of elections and their knowledge of state budget issues, with an eye toward equal representation of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

The cost of running a successful campaign for state senate can exceed $100,000, research by the New Hampshire Coalition for Public Funding of Elections shows. This effectively bars many qualified people from public service. Voters support public funding because it reduces the influence of wealthy special interests in politics and controls the spiraling costs of campaigns.

Senator Jackie Cilley, who left twenty years of teaching with its secure income and benefits to run for office, reflected on her experience. “My husband and I are not wealthy people. We invested in our resources in raising five sons, rehabbing our home and building a business; we had no fat nest egg to support a campaign. In the current system, the only way to run successfully is to join the money chase, begging donors for dollars.”

Public financing of elections makes it possible for a wider range of people to run for office— candidates with different perspectives and fresh ideas to bring to policy-making. Candidates qualify for funding by gathering a certain number of signatures and small dollar donations; once they agree to certain conditions, such as using no private money and participating in a certain number of debates, they are provided enough money to run a competitive race. The system is voluntary—no one is required to use it. But those who opt in can use the time they would otherwise spend with big donors talking with voters about issues.

Said Senator Cilley, “It’s true there’s not much scandal in New Hampshire , but this isn’t about influence peddling. It’s about strengthening our democracy by leveling the playing field so we can draw upon the widest range of talent and perspective for our elected leadership. Public funding of elections returns control to the voters; elected officials answer only to the voters, not big donors.”

Echoing Cilley’s comments, House Finance Committee Chair Marjorie Smith said, “Our elected officials should be accountable to all the citizens of the state always. No legitimate candidate should be denied an opportunity to run because she cannot afford to spend $50,000 or $100,000 to run and win. Public funding of elections helps to place accountability where it should be—the candidate and the voters.”

Public funding of elections enjoys broad bi-partisan public support in New Hampshire , which is poised to become one of the first states in the union to adopt it, after Arizona , Maine , and Connecticut . Reflecting this broad support, speakers from across the political spectrum emphasized the importance of public financing and expressed confidence in the commission and excitement over its promise.

"I am excited that we have a bi-partisan commission studying the issue of public financing of campaigns,” said Senator Peter Bragdon. “There are certainly many questions to be answered before it can move forward, but if we never stop to look at the questions we will remain mired in the current system. This issue needs to be discussed in an open, bi-partisan manner, and the new commission provides a forum for this public discussion." Senator Bragdon’s prepared remarks were delivered on his behalf by Jim Rubens.

Representative Jim Splaine, sponsor of the bill that establishes the commission, said, “I think this seven-member commission will have talented people with the passion and insight to come up with an innovative public funding system for New Hampshire that will make our democracy and election process stronger and more honest for the years to come."

Given New Hampshire ’s current budget situation, public funding supporters acknowledged the challenges the Commission faces in identifying funding for a new program, but all expressed confidence.

"The state's budget difficulties are no less pressing than our need for a campaign funding system that restores the primacy of voters over donors,” said Rubens. “I am confident that this commission has the ingenuity required to find the needed funding sources.”

“The commissioners have been given a difficult task,” said Smith. “I have faith in them and in the people of New Hampshire to find a way to support public funding of elections.”

When asked about the commission’s prospects, Rep. Jane Clemons, Election Law Committee Chair, had this to say, “The majority of the House Election Law Committee enthusiastically supported this commission. We heard the people and their interest in changing the way we fund campaigns. This commission’s appointees have a serious and difficult mission ahead of them. I thank them for taking on this task and look forward to hearing from them periodically. We wish them success in this important endeavor for the process and the people.”

The New Hampshire Coalition for Public Funding of Elections includes individuals who have long fought for public financing—including Doris “Granny D” Haddock, and citizen organizations such as the League of Women Voters and New Hampshire Citizens Alliance.

Friday, June 20, 2008

U.S. House honors American hero, Christa McAuliffe

U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey. D-Mass., joined his colleagues in passing legislation yesterday to establish a scholarship program in honor of Christa McAuliffe, the teacher-turned-astronaut whose journey captivated a nation and sparked a renewed interest in space exploration. McAuliffe grew up in the seventh congressional district in Framingham, Mass. and later attended Framingham State College, as well as a teacher in Concord, N.H.

Rep. Markey said in a press release, “Despite the tragic Challenger explosion that claimed her life along with the lives of her fellow astronauts, Christa’s courage, creativity and curiosity embodied the best values of our educational system and remain an inspiration to students around the world. She was a true American hero.

“This scholarship will encourage women to enter the space sciences, a fitting goal considering Christa’s life work. While women have made significant gains in the last few years, they continue to be underrepresented in space sciences and aeronautics. There is no better way to honor a pioneer that inspired millions while promoting education and space exploration than with a scholarship program to advance that very cause.”

The Christa McAuliffe scholarship program passed the House of Representatives as an amendment to H.R. 6063, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008. H.R. 6063 now moves to the Senate for approval.

The dish on Lynch challenger Kathryn Forry

She supports broad-based taxes, according to this morning's UL editorial: ["Lynch and taxes: A challenger emerges"]. Well, that solidifies my vote for John Lynch in the primary.
I'll have an update of my piece on the Concord candidates because it seems as though some folks jumped into the state rep. race at the last minute. In addition, it looks like Liz Hager has changed her mind and decided to run again after all. I have an email in to her which she hasn't answered yet.

One-day workshop available for citizen journalist, newshounds

Interested in citizen journalism and understanding the news? There is a class next week for those who are just dipping their toes in. Here are the details:

To English/History/journalism educators:

To traditional media and citizen bloggers/reporters:

Are you interested in "news literacy" and teaching news-writing skills to students and citizens? Want to hear from the author of "Be the Media," a guide to making your own news and message? Are you concerned about legal rules governing linking or copying?

Attend a unique, one-day workshop for teachers, advisors, professors, editors and citizen journalists on Sat., June 28, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Univ. of Mass. Lowell campus. A featured participant: Howard Schneider, former editor of Long Island Newsday and head of the national news-literacy curriculum development project at Stony Brook University -- funded by the Ford, Knight and MacArthur fundations. Also former New York Times correspondent Doug McGill, who runs the Largemouth Citizen Journalism Workshops in Minnesota. And David Mathison, author of the just-published "Be The Media."


SHARING THE NEWS: Reaching students, training citizens A one-day workshop for teachers, advisors, professors, editors and citizen journalists Saturday, June 28, 2008 / UNiv. of Mass. -- Lowell -- off I-495

9 a.m.-4 p.m.




Bill Densmore, director/editor

The Media Giraffe Project Journalism Program

108 Bartlett Hall

Univ. of Massachusetts

Amherst MA 01003

OFF: 413-577-4370 / CELL: 413-458-8001

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Ron Paul Republican Reformation?

Guest Perspective by Rich Rubino

Even with John McCain as the presumptive Republican nominee, supporters of Texas Congressman Ron Paul remain vociferous in their support of his presidential candidacy, and in earning him a prime-speaking slot at the Republican National Convention. Paul’s vision of lassie-faire economics, non-interventionist foreign policy, and maximized civil liberties may become the prevailing Republican orthodoxy within the next 20 years.

The current coalition which brought Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1981 include “Theo-conservatives” who advocate a greater government involvement in enforcing a moral code by promoting traditional values, “Supply-siders” who believe tax cuts bring in enough revenue to pay for themselves, and “Neo-Conservatives” who believe that the U.S. must promote Democracy abroad, with force if necessary, in hopes of creating a world free from despotism.

This coalition consisted of many refugees from the Democratic Party who felt that the Party, which championed tax-cuts, idealism, assertiveness in foreign policy, and the values of the middle-class under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, had become an amalgamation of special interests and liberal intellectuals. The “Reagan Coalition” reached its high watermark in 1984 when Reagan was re-elected in a 49-state landslide. The Coalition was also largely responsible for George H.W. Bush’s successful presidential bid in 1988.

However, like all political coalitions, the house Reagan built could be gradually reaching its crescendo. Many Republicans have become disillusioned with the way President George W. Bush has governed; using what could be an antiquated Reagan model. The President’s assertive foreign policy has led to a widely unpopular war in Iraq, which many believe is not in the interest of the country. As more and more Americans are living by the paycheck, spending $12 billion a month in Iraq for Bush’s idealistic vision of “ending tyranny in our world” is seen as an ill-advised use of American blood and treasure.

Ron Paul’s vision is not new to the Republican Party. It could be that the Republican Party in a post-Iraq, post-Bush world will go back to a pre-Reagan vision, the status-quo-ante, “the way things were before,” when the Republican Party advocated a platform very similar to Paul’s. While many today consider Paul’s image out of the mainstream, it was once the prevailing sentiment among the Party elites.

This winning coalition under presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge from 1921-1929 championed the doctrine of non-intervention in foreign policy. Harding asserted, America should “be a party to no permanent military alliance. It can enter into no political commitments, nor assume any economic obligations which will subject our decisions to any other than our own authority." In the domestic arena, taxes and spending were reduced simultaneously, and the federal government actually paid off debt. In addition, the General Accounting Office was established for the specific purpose of identifying and spotlighting wasteful government spending.

The last major advocate of this philosophy was the defacto leader of the Republican establishment in the 1940s and early 1950’s, Ohio Senator Robert A. Taft, who at the time was known as “Mr. Republican.” In addition to advocating fiscal austerity at home and non-interventionism abroad, Taft (like Ron Paul) championed civil liberties. Taft opposed prohibition as well as the military draft. Gradually, during the period of the cold war, that message lost its resilience. However, the Ron Paul movement seems to be the beginning or its renaissance.

Often, as political coalitions atrophy, a successful political salesperson modernizes the message to fit the times. For example, the New Deal-Great Society Coalition of Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson predicated on labor unions, minorities, liberal intellectuals, conservative southerners and party regulars, dominated the political landscape from 1932-1968. However, the coalition became antiquated, resulting in the Democrats holding the White House for only four of the succeeding 24 years. The coalition had in fact devolved into a confederation of special interests and intellectual liberals. Consequently, many blue-color Democrats abandoned the party at the national level, giving electoral landslides to Republicans Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush.

It took the candidacy or Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton in 1992 to modernize the prevailing ideology of the Democratic Party. Clinton challenged what was becoming conventional belief that the Democratic Party was a conduit for redistributing wealth. Clinton pledged to expand opportunities through economic growth. He offered “a hand up, not a hand out.” Instead of expanding federal spending, Clinton emphasized Deficit Reduction. What is more, Clinton took on labor unions by supporting expanded trade. This helped to attract urban professionals, suburbanites, and fiscal conservatives into the Democratic fold.

Furthermore, many “Reagan Democrats” who had jettisoned the party in the 1980s came back to the Democratic Party. Many had come to see Democrats as tribunes of the welfare state. Clinton changed that image by pledging to “end Welfare as we know it” and by expanding the federal death penalty. He even left the campaign trail to go back to Arkansas to preside over an execution.

The result of Clinton’s re-orientation of the party put the Democrats in the White House for two straight terms. Unfortunately for the Democrats, Al Gore changed course, running an unsuccessful populist campaign in 2000. His campaign slogan was: “The people versus the powerful.” Perhaps the message should have been: “Let’s continue the prosperity.”

Clinton was not the first proponent of this “New Democrat” philosophy. During the 1980s, presidential candidates Gary Hart, Bruce Babbitt and Al Gore ran on a similar message. However, the party instead nominated vestiges of the “has been” Democratic coalition, nominating Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis. The result of this strategy was landslide defeats. It was only after these electoral disasters that the party re-branded its image by nominating a different type of Democrat in 1992, Bill Clinton.

A similar scenario could gradually play out in the GOP. Many Republicans are coming to see their party leaders as advocates for U.S. presence all over the globe, and proponents of increasing the size and scope of government. Many traditional mainstream Republicans are also frustrated by their leadership providing tax cuts without paying for them, leading directly to a ballooning deficit. Some of these dissatisfied Republicans may end up migrating to the Democrats.

Upon choosing some unsuccessful presidential candidacies, the Republican Party will eventually come to nominate someone more ideologically compatible with Ron Paul. To be sure, it would likely be someone more palatable to a wider segment of Americans than Ron Paul. And certainly many of Paul’s ideas, especially closing the CIA, privatizing entitlements, and returning to the gold standard will be moderated. But the important factor here is the likelihood that Paul’s vision may move from the shadowy fringes to the sunlight, and will be embraced by mainstream Republicans and a successful Republican presidential candidate. A revitalized Republican Party may actually emerge in the not so distant future.

Rich Rubino, a resident of Marblehead, Mass., 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. He also has a new political Web site called

Corporate Complacency

Guest Perspective By Ralph Nader

Here is a counter-intuitive story for you. Why don’t organized corporate interests challenge damage or risks to their clear economic interests?

Think about oil prices for big consumers, not just your pocketbook. Airlines are groaning, limiting flights, and laying off employees because of the skyrocketing price for aviation fuel. Executives in that industry say that fuel costs are close to 40 percent of the cost of flying you to your destination.

The powerful chemical industry is under pressure from the prices they’re paying for petroleum—probably their main raw material.

The powerful trucking industry is beside itself with diesel fuel going to $5 per gallon.

You can add your own examples—cab companies, tourist industry, auto companies, etc.

Why aren’t these very influential lobbies throwing their weight around Washington to get something done about the speculators on Wall Street determining what is paid for gasoline and related petroleum products? It is in their own economic interests.

To do what? Well, for starters, push Congress to legislate higher margin requirements for the speculators at the New York Mercantile Exchange—the same fellows who, based on rumors, took the price of a barrel of oil up another $10 in one day.

Higher margin requirements (and wider disclosure rules) result in dampening speculation by reducing the amount of borrowed money these traders can use in their gigantic commodities casino.

Long-time member of the New York Stock Exchange, Michael Robbins—an astute and fair analyst—says margin rules have historically been used to dampen speculation on stock exchanges. He mentioned a time years ago when the Federal Reserve raised the margin requirement to ninety percent—meaning the traders had to put up 90% of their own money on trades.

There are other moves that can be made by Washington to ease the oil price crisis that is fueling inflation throughout the economy and shocking consumers. Suffice it to say that ExxonMobile testified earlier this month in Congress that absent the speculators, the price of a barrel of crude oil would be half what it is today. That would mean about $65 a barrel instead of $130 a barrel.

What else do these big corporate buyers of oil need?

Another area of major business firms not acting in their own interests involves the proposal in Congress (HR 676) to establish a single-payer health insurance system. That would mean government health insurance, private delivery of health care, free choice of doctor and hospital and saving about half a trillion dollars in insurance company administrative expenses and computerized billing overcharges a year.

Presently, tens of millions of workers have employer-based health insurance. For years, CEOs have complained that this cost puts them at a competitive disadvantage with their corporate competitors abroad and in Canada where there is universal government health insurance.

Former General Motors CEO, Jack Smith, publicly approved of the Canadian medicare system, which he had experienced when he was head of GM Canada. Under full medicare, these companies will pay less even with an assessment.

So, what’s up here? We don’t see these weighty corporate lobbies on Capitol Hill supporting the 91 House members who have endorsed HR 676.

Then there is the small business lobby ostensibly represented by the large National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). Small business is regularly subject to government policies and market discriminations that put them at a disadvantage with their large competitors.

Presently, for example, a Small Business Administration report concludes the following:

“Small businesses in their commercial sector faced a 30 percent price differential for electricity and a 20 percent price differential for natural gas. In the manufacturing sector, small businesses faced a 28 percent price differential for distillate fuel oil, a 27 percent price differential for natural gas, and a 14 percent price differential for coal.”

Are these volume discounts all fair for the Big Boys? Doubtful. Don’t count on the NFIB to protest. More often than not, the NFIB talks small business but walks the walk of the National Chamber of Commerce, which primarily lobbies for the interests of large companies.

So, why the overall reticence to fight for their own economic interests? First, corporations do not like to fight each other because they may need each other on other matters. Second, hey also have exposable skeletons in their own closets. Third, they do not have to initiate a business war of retaliation. Fourth, they do not want to give their traditional labor, environmental and consumer adversaries cause to strengthen their own power by, in effect, siding with these groups’ traditional causes.

If investors in this country had any power over the companies they own—as individuals, or through mutual funds and pension trusts—an inquiring process could open up on this fascinating question.

But as Robert Monks—a leading shareholder activist and writer—has said many times, those same CEOs have their own economic interests—think CEO compensation—in keeping investors powerless.

No respect for the dead?

You know, we all make mistakes. And in the media, we make even more mistakes then regular folks do. So, imagine the shock seeing this email from the Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting just a bit ago: ["Remembering Russert"].
When I saw the headline I thought, Oh, this should be interesting. But then, I saw what they wrote. They have no respect for the dead at all. Tim Russert isn't even in the ground yet and FAIR has to send this out?
I've always respected and supported FAIR even if I didn't always agree with their opinions or perceptions about the media. But this is just low.
A more tasteful thing to have done would have been to send a memo to NBC News and noted some of the problems with the previous productions of "Meet the Press," and even made recommendations about a Russert replacement.
It's always said that you shouldn't speak ill of the dead. I've always tried to live that way. Sometimes I succeed. Other times, I'm so angry I fail. But something like this is too much. We saw this when Ronald Reagan died and it was disgusting. If you can't say anything good about someone who has died, which might hurt someone else during a time of mourning, be quiet and move on.
This is one of the things that has always bothered me about "progressives" ... they don't know went to let go and they don't know when to get off their high horses. They are always right ... even when they are nailing the coffin over your head.

Heh, heh, heh: Nader's VotePact idea:

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Primary ballots heating up for Concord voters

Friday was the last day to file for state and county elected offices and Concord voters will have a bunch of candidates to choose from on Sept 9.
Gov. John Lynch, to the surprise of many, will face opposition in the primary via the candidacy of Kathryn Forry of Jaffrey.
Joseph Kenney of Wakefield will be the Republican nominee for governor.
At least two people have filed intentions to run as indies for governor: David Boyle of Concord and Susan Newell of Winchester. Not much is known about Boyle except that in 2006, he formed a political action committee [DAC PAC] to stimulate discussion about a potential independent or Libertarian gubernatorial candidacy. Newell also has Libertarian-leanings according to a Google search. She was a selectwoman in Winchester and serves on the Town Budget Committee.
For the U.S. Senate seat, incumbent John Sununu will have a primary opponent in libertarian-leaning Tom Alciere of Hudson, a former state representative from Nashua. Tom has a Web site here: [""].
Over on the Democratic side, former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen will face off against Raymond Stebbins of Nashua, who recently received more than 50,000 votes in the vice presidential primary. Stebbins does not have a new Web site up for his Senate campaign.
Libertarian Ken Blevens of Bow is also seeking ballot access for the final election.
For Congress, in the Second Congressional District, incumbent Democrat Paul Hodes has filed to run for a second term. He has not primary opposition.
On the GOP side, five candidates have filed to run. They are:
Grant Bosse of Hillsboro, an award-winning radio journalist and former staffer for Sen. Sununu: ["Bosse2008"].
Bob Clegg, a state Senator from Hudson: ["Clegg for Congress"].
Jennifer Horn, a talk show host and newspaper columnist from Nashua: ["Jennifer Horn"].
Alfred L'Eplattenier of Rindge: ["Border Secure"].
Jim Steiner of Concord, an attorney and former Green Beret: ["Join Jim 2008"].
Chester L. Lapointe II of Swanzey will seek to gain ballot access on the Libertarian line and Roy Kendel of Fitzwilliam will also run as an indie.
Democratic Executive Councilor John Shea will have a Republican opponent, once they shake things out. County Attorney Dan St. Hilaire, Businessman Bernie Sparks, and Richard Wasson are all competing for the seat.
State Sen. Sylvia Larsen will again face off against Republican Kristie MacNeil for the seat.
With St. Hilaire running for Executive Councilor, the County Attorney's seat is open. On the Democratic side, Ted Barnes will oppose former City Councilor and Mayoral candidate Kathy Rogers. Republican Tom Reid is also seeking the seat.
With Rogers running for County Attorney, the County Commissioner seat is open. Running for that seat on the Democratic side are City Councilor Elizabeth Blanchard and former City Councilor Doris Ballard.
Sheriff Scott Hilliard, a Republican, has won his election by default since he had no challengers this year.
Concord has 13 state representatives in three districts. Some of the districts will have primaries. Some won't. Democrats have escaped primary battles in District 10 [Ward 1, 2, and 3] and District 12 [Ward 5, 6, and 7] but not in District 11 [Ward 4, 8, 9, 10]. Republicans have no primaries for state rep. seats in the city.
In District 11, six candidates will seek five seats on the Democratic side: Incumbents Candace Bouchard, John DeJoie, Tara Reardon, and Bob Williams, will face off against challengers Michael Barlett and Klee Dienes.
Five Republicans are also running: Incumbent Jim McKay, and challengers Lynne Blankenbecker, Elizabeth Cheney, Jeff Newman, and Frank Rosano.
District 10 will see Democrats Mary Stuart Gile, Fran Potter, and Steve Shurtleff, all incumbents, and challenger William Stetson, facing off against Republican challenger Angela Harman.
In District 12, incumbent Democrats Jessie Osborne and Mary Jane Wallner, along with challengers Harold "Chip" Rice and Rick Watrous, will face off against Republican challengers Pamela Ean and John Kalb. Dwight Haynes of Concord will be running as an independent for one of the four seats.

When penises fly ...

Friday, June 13, 2008

R.I.P.: Tim Russert

This is shocking news: ["NBC's Tim Russert dead at 58"]. I'm just so shocked by this I have nothing else to say.

Update: Dan Kennedy has a pretty good post here: ["Tim Russert, 1950-2008"]. Here's hoping they don't dumb down "Meet the Press." We've had enough of that already.
According to someone on the Boston Radio Archives board last night, Tom Brokaw will be sitting in this week.

Update 2: John Nichols has this piece here: ["Tim Russert and the End of No-Talking-Points Journalism"]. Kennedy has another post up about potential successors being David Gregory, Chris Matthews, or Joe Scarborough ... Scarborough? You're kidding, right? If he is in the running, I should be the next host of "Meet the Press"! Seriously though, maybe NBC should do a nation-wide search for a new host and find a real, working class hero kind of journalist to host the show.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Casinos on Wall Street

Guest Perspective by Ralph Nader

Move over Las Vegas. The big time gamblers are on Wall Street and they are gambling with your money, your pensions, and your livelihoods.

Unlike Las Vegas casinos, these big investment banks, commercial banks and stock brokerage houses are supposed to have a fiduciary relationship with your money. They are supposed to be trustees for the money you have given them to safeguard, and tell you when they are making risky investments.

Because Washington, D.C. has increasingly become corporate-occupied territory, the Wall Street Boys have been taking even greater risks with your money. The more they produce cycles of financial failure, the more they pay themselves through their rubberstamp boards of directors.

With each cycle of failure, the burden of government bailouts grows larger, meaning debt, deficit and your tax dollars. The Savings and Loan collapse in the late Eighties—costing before the bailout instruments are paid off at least $500 billion, looks small by comparison with what is going on today.

Why is it that these financial bosses never learn? Because they never pay for their gambling. They may be let go, as happened recently to the CEOs of Merril Lynch and Citigroup, but they ride away from their managerial wreckage loaded with compensation and severance gold. Some of it is clearly hush money from those buddies they left behind.

Now comes the latest installment of disastrous management that has been running the venerable Wall Street investment bank, Lehman Brothers. With its stock plummeting because of avaricious risktaking with other people’s money, mixed up with their huge pay packages, Lehman Brothers’ employees look to their leader, Richard S. Fuld. For some time, he and his fellow executives would exude confidence about their ability to manage their risking financial instruments compared to their tanking competitors.

This week, the Lehman Emperor really had no clothes. Mr. Fuld reported a staggering $2.8 billion loss in the second quarter, exceeding the most dire forecasts. Even the hedges that Lehman used to temper the losses from its mortgage investments soured, adding to the losses.

It was just last April that Mr. Fuld announced his belief that “the worst is over” in the markets. For this type of management, he got paid $40 million last year, or nearly a million dollars a week, not counting vacations.

The Wall Street Boys, like all charlatans, develop words and phrases to dress up their megagambling practices. They say they are trying to avoid a “crisis of confidence” when these proclaimed capitalists go to Uncle Sam for a socialistic bailout. That only increases the “moral hazard”—another euphemism—and sets the stage for another round of reckless Wall Street Goliaths being deemed “too big to fail”.

One of Wall Street’s sharpest analysts—Henry Kaufman—believes that the “too big to fail” phenomenon undermines market discipline and encourages the smaller firms to merge with the larger companies to avail themselves of Washington’s bailout criteria.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal last August, Mr. Kaufman acutely traces the growth of ever more complex, abstract financial instruments, removed from their empirical underpinnings in the economy, accelerated by the lightening speed of computerized transactions. He called for “increased supervision over financial institutions and markets.”

“Supervision” was once called federal regulation. Call it what you will, Mr. Kaufman is not expecting anything soon. He writes: “In today’s markets, there is hardly a clarion call for such measures. On the contrary, the markets oppose it, and politicians voice little if any support. For their part, central bankers [read, the Federal Reserve] do not posses a clear vision of how to proceed toward more effective financial supervision.”

Though couched in polite, non-normative language, this is a very troublesome indictment of corporate intransigence and regulatory paralysis. Since August 2007, the situation has gotten worse with the Wall Street Boys producing more huge losses and phony asset valuations.

A few weeks ago, former Federal Reserve Chairman, Paul Volcker, delivered an address in New York voicing similar worries and calls for “supervision,” as did Mr. Kaufman, though in his own inimitable style.

Other astute, former men of Wall Street, have raised alarms about the stock and derivatives marketplace, including former SEC chairman, Arthur Levitt and William Donaldson. Long before anyone came cautionary wisdom of John Bogle, who pioneered stock market indexing and launched Vanguard Fund. (See his new book, The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns)

Still, there is no regulatory action in Washington which doesn’t even move on behalf of consumers to regulate the New York Mercantile Exchange where rampant speculation, not supply and demand, decides what you are paying for gasoline and heating oil.

With the politicians sleepwalking in Washington, while their campaign pockets are filled by Wall Street cash, isn’t it time for the people of America to rouse themselves civically and politically? Act before the financial sector, using your money, shreds itself under the weight of its own top-heavy greed and cliff-hanging mismanagement.

For starters, start demanding more from your politicians, much more!

Monday, June 9, 2008

How Do We Reduce Partisanship?

Guest Perspective/Lee Hamilton
There are times when Congress and much of the political class in Washington remind me of a child who can't resist sneaking a handful of cookies from the jar: They know that too much partisanship is getting them in trouble, but they can't help themselves. Politicians want one more maneuver to make the other side look bad; one more hunk of red meat tossed to the party's base; one more legislative stand-off to show their partisans they mean what they say. Then they'll reckon with the public's clear preference for political leaders who know how to work together.

I know that politics is a contact sport, and hard-hitting partisan competition is unavoidable, even desirable. It offers clear choices and different approaches to solving our problems, and it enhances the accountability of those in power when the other side is willing to point out weaknesses in their thinking or their performance.

Still, the country at large yearns for less polarization these days, and believes that partisan engagement has gone too far. Even Washington insiders acknowledge that the extreme partisanship of recent years has made it more difficult to govern productively, leading more often to stalemate than to policy advances. They go to great oratorical lengths to deplore how partisan the institution has become. Acknowledging the problem, though, is easier than knowing what to do about it.

For it's a tough one. As a nation, we remain closely divided in our political philosophies. The upshot in Congress is that party leaders assess each bill for how it will help or hurt chances to pick up seats; the lens through which they see legislation too often has to do with power, not effective policy making.

So what can we do? The first step, I believe, rests with American voters. However slowly, Congress responds to what its members hear back home. A drumbeat of dislike for mean-spirited partisanship and insistence on working through differences will eventually get through. Members of Congress must be held responsible for the kind of institution they inhabit.

There's a tougher nut to crack, too, which has to do with rebuilding the strength of the dormant center in American politics. On this front, there are any number of steps that might make little difference alone, but together could add up to a sea change in how Washington operates.

One of them is already happening: the rise of the internet for fundraising. The ability to go over the heads of well-heeled special interests and fund a campaign through the small donations of ordinary Americans has the potential to rewrite political candidates' loyalties once they're in office. The less financial influence wielded by groups with a specific cause, the better the chance that our essential moderation as a nation will get reflected in Washington.

Equally important is a growing restlessness with how congressional districts get drawn. For the most part, district maps are designed by state legislatures, which often defer to the wishes of their congressional delegations. Somehow, these maps nearly always produce safe districts for one party or the other, instead of competitive districts that would produce candidates adept at forging coalitions of independents and moderates of both parties. Turning redistricting over to independent commissions charged with crafting districts based on commonality of interest and geographic compactness, rather than partisan affiliation, may not be a panacea, but it would make a difference.

There is work to be done on Capitol Hill, too, though it might not seem like work: Legislators need to get to know one another. It is hard to attack someone you know well. Yet the congressional schedule – constant travel back home to meet with constituents, the need to raise money, the pressures of campaigning – keeps members of Congress and their families out of Washington, away from their colleagues, and far less likely to find time for forging friendships across partisan lines.

It's also important for members of Congress to look deliberately for issues that hold the hope of successful bipartisanship. Our nation's need for investment in its aging infrastructure – its roads, bridges, and transportation networks – offers one such possibility. It's not a partisan issue; it's a good governance issue.

Then, once Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have come together to resolve a few problems like this, they may come to understand what ordinary Americans have known for some time: that the only way to solve our really tough problems – health care, energy independence, the rise of terrorism, the challenges posed by globalization – is to work together as a nation. In a nation as closely divided as ours, political leaders who know how to emphasize the common purpose – rather than their own party's monopoly on the truth – will ultimately be the ones to lead us from our current partisan morass.

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.

Tan, not so rested, ready ...

After a short weekend away, I'm back in the region again. I was surprised to find out it was hotter in New Hampshire than Miami yesterday!
Thanks go out to Southwest Airlines for, again, getting me to and fro safely, and, again, doing it at a reasonable price. Of course, it was fully-packed, again, like a bus, but hey, that is the nature of the beast these days.
In all the years I have been using Southwest, I don't have anything bad to say about them. The flight attendants were super nice and very helpful. The pilots are funny, getting us in early even.
Although, on my flight down on Friday night, all three of the attendants kept coming by my seat during take off and landing to tell me to put my seat in its full, upright position. The seat was broken so it wouldn't go up. Each time, the attendants didn't believe me and two of them even attempted to push it up for or with me.
I smiled the first time and the second time. But by the third time, deep into my book, I snipped, "This is the third time you guys have asked me to do this and the third time I've told you that the seat is broken ..." She didn't believe me and attempted to pull it up, with my help. Afterwards, I just smiled and went back to my book.
I understand that they are only doing their jobs and trying to be safe. But you would think after three times, they would let it go. You would think after three times, they would realize the seat is broken! I mean, it was only about an inch off. It wasn't like I was all the way back, annoying the person behind me.
On the way to Miami, I had a giggle when The Replacements "Waitress in the sky" kicked on the mp3 player mid-flight ["You ain't nothing but a waitress in the sky ..."]. Hah, I don't remember putting that on there. But there it was. Paul Westerberg can be such an ass.
One last note before going back to work: I'm almost through "Everything I'm cracked up to be," by Boston rocker Jen Trynin. I bought it in paperback ages ago and never got a chance to read it. In nine hours, I totally have devoured it.
One critical note: She used a lot fake names to protect the "non-innocent," which I think is one of the major flaws of the book. I understand her need not to create a ton of waves in the business but readers deserve to know who the creeps are ... especially if they are thinking about getting into the business. It is a hilarious read and a bit girlish, not unlike Lisa Suckdog's "Drugs are nice." Trynin does note that a lot of the original folks like Mikey Dee and those of us at WMFO and other stations who helped break her in, which was nice to read. I think I played her "Beg" single every week on my show for months [as well as other tracks]. So, that was nice to read. And, little did we know the rollercoaster ride she was on during all of that major label stuff. Anyway, a worthy read ... even though I'm not quite done with it.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Warning: Don’t wear loose clothing when traveling via airplane

For the first time in years of airline travel since Sept. 11, I was frisked by a TSA Officer during check in. The reason? I had loose-fitted clothing on. Never mind that I had nothing on my persons – everything was emptied into their little trays to be inspected – nope, didn’t matter.
The TSA Officer was quite polite and professional, and didn’t pat down any areas that I wouldn’t particularly like a TSA Officer patting down. But, it was all just a little weird. The wife of the couple behind me, who was Asian, was also asked to step aside for a frisk. She wasn’t wearing loose clothing but did have an infant and a toddler with her. The husband was not frisked. Female officers patted down the Asian woman.
In the age of airport security, it might be time to rethink all of this. I mean, when I have nothing on my persons and step through the security machine and nothing goes off, why should a XXL shirt require me to be frisked?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Nader on the ballot in Arizona?

Looks like it: 65,000 signatures handed in; 21,000-plus needed.

R.I.P.: Jim Mitchell

Local radio broadcaster Jim Mitchell and the owner of MainStreet BookEnds in Warner has passed away: ["Radio newscaster Jim Mitchell dies at 58"].
Jim was one of the good guys in the radio business. A total professional and a good acquaintance.
I interviewed him on a couple of occasions and had long talks with him about broadcasting and books. This is such a terrible tragedy.
I was just thinking about him the other day and how I haven't ventured up that way in a while. I was thinking how I might make a day trip of it with the kids, maybe to Sunapee or something, stopping by his store to say Hi and then venturing up to the lake.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Youth Voting Rights

Guest Perspective by Ralph Nader

You are sixteen. You can legally work, drive a motor vehicle and with parental consent get married in most states. Why can't you legally vote?

Good question, and one that supporters for dropping the voting age from eighteen to sixteen will be asking politicians more and more. Much has been made of the youth vote this year amid evidence that more young people are turning out to vote in the primaries than ever before. Let's take it to the next step.

I argued for the voting age drop from twenty one to eighteen back in the Sixties before it finally happened in 1971 with the ratification of the Twenty Sixth Amendment to our Constitution. The absence of a vibrant civic culture inside and outside our schools drained away much of the potential of this electoral liberation for youngsters. Their turnout was lower than older adults.

Sixteen year olds are likely to be more excited. They are studying and learning about the country and the world in high school. They're still at home and can bring their discussions to their parents, who may turnout at the polls more as a result.

Fifteen year old Danielle Charette, writing last January in the Hartford Courant says: "Consumed in the distraction of their first semester at college, many eligible voters fail to arrange for absentee ballots. Of course, if annual voting became more habitual starting in high school, reading up on the candidates and voting while away from home wouldn't seem out of the ordinary."

Moreover, social studies teachers in high school would be keener on non-partisan class analyses of candidates if their students were able to vote.

Ms. Charette made another telling point. Sixteen year olds who also work pay taxes but they have no vote. This is "taxation without representation,” she exclaimed.

Austria lowered its voting age to 16 last year, prompting similar proposals by New Zealand legislators. One Swiss Canton (Glarus) lowered the voting age to participate in local and cantonal elections to 16 in 2007. British member of Parliament, Sarah McCarthy-Fry expects a debate on the 16 year old vote issue soon in the House of Commons.

Austrian Social Democrat Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer said that lowering the voting age was a "challenge to Austria's school system" in the field of political education. While New Zealand MP, Sue Bradford ties this voting reform in her proposed legislation with making civics education compulsory in high school to enhance students' understanding of the political system.

Bills in Minnesota and Michigan have been introduced to lower the voting age. Their rationale is to give a "real opportunity for young people to vote on something that affects their daily lives," according to Sen. Sandy Pappas of St. Paul.

Now it's time to hear from these young Americans. They can exchange and spread words faster and cheaper than any generation in history – what with YouTube, MySpace and Facebook communications.

Here is some advice to them: First don't just make it a matter of your voting right as "citizens now," not citizens in waiting. Recognize your responsibilities and duties of engaged citizenship.

Second, raise some compelling changes and redirections that will improve life in America especially for you and generally for all Americans. You know lots of them. Just ask yourself, as you shop, study, work, play, breathe the air and drink the water, and watch the TV news, what kind of country do you want to see in the coming months and years?

To jumpstart the 16 year old voting movement, youngsters need to start jumping. Needed are rallies, marches, and personal group visits to your members of Congress and state legislatures at their local offices, especially when the lawmakers are not in session and are back in their home communities.

Don't over rely on the Internet. The impact from showing up in person is far greater.

I'll be talking up the sixteen year old vote. But it will only become a reality if a teenage political revolution makes it happen.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

'My Math Beats Clinton's Math ...'

Went over to DailyKos earlier to check out some of the headlines. This one was one of the first: ["My Math Beats Clinton's Math"].
This person really lays it out. Even with all these Clinton wins in big states, when you throw in the caucus votes, Obama has the popular vote. He has the popular vote, he has won more states, and he will soon have more than enough delegates to win.
Sorry Hill-Billary. It's freaking over.

Clinton wins Puerto Rico but it isn't enough ...

Obama is within 50 delegates of the nom. His officials say they will have it before the end of the week:

Puerto Rico

Clinton: 53,451 68 percent 28 delegates
Obama: 25,593 32 percent 14 delegates

I, though, don't expect Hillary to go quietly into the night. I suspect that she is going to turn this entire thing into a spectacle and have a floor fight at the convention. I have been predicting for almost two years that there would be a brokered convention this year and I still believe there will be.
The talking point will become what the Obama campaign's talking point was not too long ago: She has the most popular vote and therefore, she should be the nominee no matter what the super delegates do. This was Obama's talking point not long after Feb. 5, when everyone thought that the super delegates were all going to board the Clinton bandwagon and steal the nom from the guy who was winning all the caucuses. Tit for tat, I guess, no pun intended.
However, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Hillary may have a point here and can use the Obama campaign's words against him. The question is this: If the convention turns around and denies Obama the nom, will his people bolt like Hillary's people are threatening to do now?
Will Obama be foolish and instead, offer her the VP slot just to shut her and her people up? I certainly hope not. Or, if he does, and they both beat McCain together in November and are actually sworn in [insert Cheney coup conspiracy here], Obama better have someone testing his food before every meal ... 'cause he will not be long for the world.