December 30, 2007

Iowa '08 brings unprecedented GOTV efforts

You often hear pundits expounding about a candidate's "organization" as a factor in how well they may do, and particularly in Iowa. Organization is often considered to be a Clinton strong point, due to the extensive connections both Clintons have established over the decades as well as their ties to traditional Democratic organizations.

Edwards too is said to be likely to benefit from the fact that he's already been part of a team that won the Iowa caucuses and thus knows the voters who are most likely to actually go to the caucuses and vote. As noted in a previous post, his campaign has also employed a smaller version of Howard Dean's "fight for every state" strategy for the national party, in that they've made it a focus of their campaign to cover every single rural county in the state.

The Clinton and Obama campaigns are focusing on identifying new voters who've never participated in caucuses before, while the Edwards campaign, curtailed by the fact that they couldn't afford to decline public matching funds as Clinton and Obama have and thus having to operate under spending limits, has chosen to focus on voters who've caucused in the past.

A piece in the New York Times reveals some of the methods candidates are undertaking to get every single potential caucus voter out and voting for their candidate in all 1,781 Iowa precincts, including employing some marketing alchemy to try to scientifically smoke out hapless Iowans who are, at least according to the numbers, more likely to vote for Candidate A, then deluging them with gee-gaws, letters, visits, and entreaties, up to and including shoveling the walks of elderly women who may be reluctant to emerge from their homes if there's snow on the ground on caucus day. (The Clinton campaign has already laid on a supply of shovels for just that purpose.)

If I were an Iowa voter, I'd feign undecided until caucus day and milk the campaigns for everything I could think of. I'd have them shovel my walk, tune up my car, pay for a massage, and if I told them I was going to stay home that day to paint my house, they'd probably take care of that too.

It's beyond insane the amount of money that is spent on campaigns, and Iowa in particular. The money spent per vote figure is going up to the point where the candidates could have just made one of the voter's car payments or bought them a new washer and dryer. It's simply crazy, not to mention a terrible waste of hundreds of millions of dollars that could do so much good spent elsewhere. But that's another matter.

Some of the things campaigns are doing include:

In addition to the snow shovels, the Clinton campaign is also stocked with door hangers printed in extra large type, due to extensive market research showing that,
"...women over 65 were inclined to support her, in particular widows or married women, but only those married to a Democrat or independent. Using that model and state election records, they searched for Iowans who had voted in regular elections but had not caucused." which research has shown to be most likely to vote for her.

"[The Clinton campaign]...contracted with a local supermarket chain to deliver platters of sandwiches for pre-caucus parties at caucus sites late Thursday afternoon. The idea is to entice people to arrive early and thus give Clinton aides time to see who has not shown up and get them to the caucus before the doors close at 7 p.m."

"[The Clinton campaign]...mailed refrigerator magnets marked with the caucus date to the women they have identified as first-time caucus goers who might determine her fate."

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, in the first mailing to first-time caucus goers who pledge to support her, includes porcelain lapel pins identifying them as Clinton supporters. Mrs. Clinton looks for women wearing those pins at her events and praises them for caucusing for the first time.

Mr. Obama is focusing on younger voters, who have brought considerable energy to his campaign but who as a group have not tended to turn out to vote in large numbers in past presidential elections. As supporters walk into a campaign stop for Mr. Obama, separate lines are designated for high school and college students to receive specific instructions for caucus night. After his speech, he holds a brief meeting and photograph session with his young supporters who belong to a program called Barack Stars.

Obama supporters of all ages receive a yellow slip of paper — a “Ticket to Change” — with directions to their caucus site and a telephone hot line (one for each of Iowa’s five area codes) to answer questions.

To expand the universe of caucus participants, the Obama campaign hired Ken Strasma, one of the leading Democratic specialists in finding voters through microtargeting. Maps of Mr. Strasma’s efforts hang throughout the campaign’s state headquarters on Locust Street here, color-coded with shades of prospective pockets of supporters

To find its supporters, the Obama campaign spent months developing models of who their likely supporters would be, focusing particularly on previous caucus voters as well as Iowans who voted in the 2006 governor’s race but had never caucused. Months ago, strategists saw one of the biggest areas of potential supporters to be independent voters under 50, as well as men registered as Democrats.

“What’s the one thing that will determine this election? The campaign that does the best job of turning out the highest percentage of their supporters,” said Mr. Plouffe, the campaign manager for Mr. Obama. “We’re maniacally focused on that.”

Must see TV

Meant to get this up earlier, but wanted to issue a strong recommendation that you tune in to watch "Jesus Camp" at 9 p.m. tonight (Sunday) on the A&E cable channel.

When I saw "Jesus Camp" before it made such a powerful impression that I ended up writing a post about it and provided a link to the trailer for the film, and it's truly an eye-opening peek behind the scenes in the evangelical movement, particularly it's efforts to prepare young children for holy war.

If it's at all possible, please tune in or tivo it or otherwise record it if possible. I'll wager you had no idea what some so-callled Christians are up to in this country and what you'll see might shock you.

And the part where they interview the good Rev. Ted Haggard (pre-meth and gay prostitution scandal) alone is worth the effort to catch this award winning documentary.

If you read this too late, "Jesus Camp" will also be re-aired at 1 a.m. Monday morning. Set your VCRs if you can record it.

December 29, 2007

Today's quiz

This one comes via a friend who recently shared this vexing question.

The subject is human hair and its apparent intelligence, for lack of a better word.

Let's take the hair on one's arm, for the sake of illustration.

The hair begins to grow at some point, reaches it's prescribed length, determined through centuries of evolution and dictated by it's location on the body.

So it's reached it's length and somehow knows when it's time to stop growning.

How does it know when it's reached it's prescribed length and to stop growing at that point?

My wild guess would be something to do with hormonal signals. But that's not the real question here. It gets better.

Now say that you accidentally singe off a patch of hair on your arm. Or for some reason it gets shaved off.

Here's the real mystery.

How do individual hairs:

A. Tell that it's been cut or burned off, and
B. What causes the hair to then begin growing again until it reaches its set length, and then stop growing?

Being perpetually curious, this one has me utterly stumped. I'd bet that biological science has solved this one, though I've never learned the answer.

Any of my many learned readers care to speculate as to how our hair appears to have a mind of its own? Or better yet, provide a plausible answer?

December 28, 2007

Bad Business

Benazir Bhutto is dead, assassinated at a campaign rally as you surely know.

Her father was executed by President Zia in the late '70's during a military coup, and two of her brothers were "disappeared" and murdered in suspicious circumstances, to put it mildly. Now the Harvard and Oxford educated former prime minister, who could have easily lived a life of aristocratic wealth and ease for the rest of her life, but choose to return into the snake pit of Pakistani politics, a woman of extraordinary courage and commitment, is silenced as well.

This is a bit of bad business that will surely have a wide ranging ripple effect and may prove as seismic an event as the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand.

Since little can be done other than speculate as to those responsible and how things may play out, all I can do is offer a few observations this close to the event.

Firstly, the old axiom applies to this situation when trying to ascertain who is responsible... who stood to benefit? This would point to the dictatorial Musharraf regime first, and Islamic rebels second, though in this spot of nasty business, they may have found themselves in league with each other.

Musharraf had promised investigations into the mass killing and bombing that occurred in November when Bhutto returned to Pakistan, yet nothing has been done. It's doubtful we could expect anything remotely credible as far as determining who was responsible for this attack either in the near future or ever.

The reaction of presidential contenders was revealing.

On the Republican side, they all tried to use it as justification for yet more military adventurism, even if they didn't say so directly.

Pundits on the Republican side also rushed to deflect blame or finger-pointing from their guy Musharraf, whom Bush has stead-fastly propped up to the tune of over $5 billion in aid since 2001. They point out that Musharraf himself has been the target of several assassination attempts, which clearly doesn't absolve him of involvement in this, though they gamely try to suggest it does.

Rudy mouthed some general platitude about how this proves we need to "redouble our efforts in that area", ignoring of course that it was Bush who heedlessly paid little attention to the powder keg in Pakistan and Afghanistan and instead put all his (and our) eggs in the right wing neocon wet dream of taking over Iraq.

Romney said something. Doesn't really matter as it was eminently forgettable as always.

McCain laid the blame at the feet of al Queda and used it as a call to again increase our military adventures.

None addressed the root cause of the turmoil, namely, as many diplomatically put it, Bush's "flawed" policy in the region, including his stubborn support of Musharraf in the face of a myriad of serious actions which show he is more interested in placating al Queda and Islamic extremists to retain power and save his own skin than doing anything to promote democracy.

The fact that Musharraf had actually cut back on security for Bhutto is telling as well. Bhutto even went as far as sending an e-mail to CNN under the condition it could never be released unless she were assassinated, detailing security measures which were not being provided, and directly blaming Musharraf were she to be harmed or murdered. She detailed the lack of security efforts, citing that they routinely left her vulnerable to attack. The fact that a person with a handgun was allowed to get within feet of her is clear evidence that security was poor at best.

Many measures such as radio jammers, armored vehicles, escort vehicles on all four sides of her vehicle, and many other standards security procedures were glaringly not provided to Bhutto, despite the fact that she had requested them.

Joe Biden stated today that he'd written Musharraf personally citing these security concerns and urging him to provide specific security measures to try to ensure Bhutto's safety, but they were ignored. Bush's pal instead blatantly left Bhutto with inadequate protection, even though his government had pledged to provide it.

The Dems weren't much better, and the troubling thing about their responses were that they were all over the map, often directly contradicting each other.

While this situation is so unknown and unknowable at the time, that's not too surprising, but it is a bit disconcerting.

Bill Richardson, who has a stellar diplomatic resume and has accomplished amazing feats of international negotiation, was the only candidate who openly suggested that Musharraf should step down, a call that was immediately and roundly condemned as irresponsible by several of his fellow Democratic candidates, who asserted that it would only destabilize the situation further, leaving open the possibility that radical Islamists could then rush in to fill any vacuum left by the absence of any pro-democracy candidate with the loss of Bhutto.

Edwards, who talked with Musharraf immediately after the assassination, said he pushed him to do a credible investigation, including letting outside investigators handle the job, and pushed Musharraf to not do anything to further jeopardize the efforts to establish democratic reforms in his country. Edwards seemed to express serious exasperation with Musharraf and it could be surmised that he'd do all he could to promote the moderate majority in Pakistan rather than continue to prop up a dictator who shelters terrorists were he elected.

Biden, who often has the most credibility on these matters, was clearly at the end of his rope with Musharraf as well, but cautioned against trying to change the status quo too quickly. Biden also clearly spelled out how the Bush policy of benign neglect, simply throwing billions at a military dictator in hopes he'd control his own country, rather than actively supporting and promoting pro-democracy moderates such as Bhutto, has directly led to the situation being nearly out of control.

Biden also strenuously urged that the elections in Pakistan, scheduled in only 14 days, to go on as planned, citing that it would be needed to retain stability.

Chris Dodd in an interview with Keith Olberman, in addition to condemning Richardson's call for Musharraf to step down, felt directly the opposite of Biden, saying that the elections should be delayed and rescheduled in order for Bhutto's party to reorganize and field a candidate. He felt, and I agree, that simply going through with a sham election immediately after Musharraf's opponent, and the candidate nearly universally expected to win the election, has been brutally assassinated, will do little to restore any faith in democracy there, and such an election would not be seen as legitimate at all.

I really don't understand Biden's call for the elections to go forward, as it would seem a waste of time. The only other pro-democracy candidate who has been forced out of the race, is calling for a boycott of the election, and if it were held the Pakistani people would never consider it truly legitimate, especially when millions will firmly believe it was Musharraf himself who had Bhutto killed.

Obama mouthed a stilted and rather emotionless pronouncement saying the usual things about how this isn't a good thing, that Bush blew it, but little else.

Clinton on the other hand spoke with some authority and personal feeling, citing her long friendship with Bhutto and her visits to meet with her in Pakistan in the past and said that we must support pro-democracy elements in the region and get away from the failed Bush policies.

Chris Matthews rushed to push the story-line that this will suddenly catapult the more hawkish candidates straight to the top, predicting it will mean a massive bounce for Clinton and McCain. I sincerely doubt it will be that dramatic.

Bush, meanwhile, in his usual Orwellian style, read some pronouncement in which he blamed "extremists", which was refreshing if only that he didn't try to pin it on the usual "terrists" or al Queda specifically, and also warned those who opposed democratic reforms in Pakistan, which, after all, includes his boy Musharraf and elements of his military.

In doing so, he described Pakistan as a "democracy", which is clearly a pipe-dream and laughable on it's face. But then again, we've long since seen that George W. Bush has an incredibly flexible vision of what exactly a democracy is.

Bhutto's assassination stands to have far-reaching consequences, both within Pakistan as it creates further caos in an already unstable country, giving Musharref an excuse to further enact anti-democratic measures, and in the region including Afghanistan and India, and literally across the mid-east and around the world. It could open up a vacuum into which Islamic extremists, allowed to survive and thrive in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan with the complicity of Musharraf, and by extension George Bush, might be able to capitalize upon and secure even greater power in Pakistan, with the spill-over being that they would also gain power in Afghanistan where the government is already pathetically weak, controlling most of Kabul, and little else.

Bhutto herself often stated that Democracy needs to be fought for and demanded forcefully, and fought for continually.

When I hear folks on the right like Pat Buchannon, and even worse, Democrats like Chris Dodd and others trot out the "better the Devil you know" theory as justification for continued support for a military dictator who coddles bin Laden and terrorists, subverts democracy, rigs elections to deny the moderate pro-democracy majority of Pakistan a right to choose their own government, and quite possibly is complicit in assassinating pro-democracy opponents, it is very discouraging to say the least.

It seems the D.C. establishment is still entrenched with supporting power no matter how odious or dicatorial it is, as long as they play ball. This is a costly and dangerous approach to cling to in this era.

Until some leaders stand up and stop supporting and financing those who thrwart the very democracy they so fervently give lip-service to at every opportunity, then it doesn't take a genius to realize that we we never achieve democracy in such areas as Pakistan and elsewhere.

The situation calls for the most skilled diplomatic and covert actions, and a deft and nuanced hand.

And with Bush/Cheney and their Keystone Kops of foreign policy at the helm, God help us all.

December 27, 2007

Pop Quiz

Just for kicks, today's question is:

What proportion of the world's population would you say celebrates Christmas?

Answer in a couple days.

The answer is... approximately 1/3 of the world's population observes Christmas. (according to the stat given in a show about Christmas technology on the History Channel.)

I was expecting that most guesses would overestimate the number, seeing as when you've been surrounded by it you might tend to do so, as well as the tendency of nationalistic folks to imagine that the world is pretty much like us.

But those who ventured opinions were damn close to correct, and actually underestimated the number, much to my surprise.

December 22, 2007

Clinton v Romney

That's my prediction for next year's presidential race. (NOT necessarily my preference, just how I see things shaking out.)

What's yours and why?

Woulda been worth a shot

I don't know if I can cope with the guilt over having failed to put an end to all war and negativity on the planet, but is it my fault I found out too late?

I heard about this only a few hours too late. (best I can figure, we were supposed to participate at about 5 after midnight, or 12:05 a.m. Saturday morning.)

If world peace breaks out tomorrow, now you'll know why. And if it doesn't, (which it most certainly won't.) you'll know that these folks are barking mad, (which of course, they are). Either that, or they're onto something and not enough of us participated. Of course, if you participated without even knowing it, you're covered.

Nice idea though, and harmless. Too bad it's lunacy. Kind of puts me in mind of that old Coke ad where they want to teach the world to sing... only different.

Click on the "Intentions" link at the top, and then click to watch the introductory video (or as much as you can handle) to watch the older couple apparently responsible for this idea give incredibly weak answers to obvious questions.

Oh well, I guess the bright side is that we have another year to practice, practice, practice.

December 20, 2007

Unanswered Questions

Daniel Engber writes a column for Slate Magazine called "The Explainer" in which he fields often strange questions submitted by readers and attempts to answer them.
This is a take-off on the legendary "Straight Dope" columns by Cecil Adams begun years ago in the Chicago Reader newspaper.

Engber offers an interesting piece listing some of the interesting questions that remain unanswered. Maybe YOU can be the one to provide the answer to any of these burning questions of the age, such as:

• Hello. I am an editor and writer and I would like for everyone to change some letters that are now in lowercase to uppercase. An example would be the 18th century to the 18th Century. Where does one go about starting to do this?

• Is it "open sees me" or "open says me"?

• Can dogs be mentally retarded? (Sure. How else do you explain George W. Bush?)

• Why does having a foreign accent make a person seem more attractive?

• How often are presidents born, and how often do they die? Do they die in bunches, or on average every four years?

• I haven't seen this in the news, but perhaps you could explain it anyway. Why do people feel like destroying things when angry?

• Why do most reptiles go to sleep when you rub their bellies? I have done it myself with everything from domestic water dragons to wild alligators, but I heard recently that it is bad for them—and they only appear to be sleeping, when in fact they are having trouble breathing. Is this true?

• Would it be possible to "shoot" someone with "lightning"? Like, a Taser with no electrodes.

• Why do men almost never win on ABC's Wheel of Fortune?

Read the rest here.

Is Obama actually the anti-change candidate?

Progressive economist Paul Krugman on Obama:
On health care Obama is behaving as kind of, "Let's make a deal." The idea that he would be talking even in the primary campaign about the big table is suggesting that he is not all that committed to taking on special interests.

On the big problems there's a fundamental, deep-seated difference between the parties. I've always just felt that his tone was one suggesting that his inclination is to believe that we can somehow resolve these things through a kind of outbreak of good feeling...

Among the Dems he seems to be the least attuned to what progressives think.

Broadly speaking, the serious contenders for the Democratic nomination are offering similar policy proposals — the dispute over health care mandates notwithstanding. But there are large differences among the candidates in their beliefs about what it will take to turn a progressive agenda into reality.

At one extreme, Barack Obama insists that the problem with America is that our politics are so “bitter and partisan,” and insists that he can get things done by ushering in a “different kind of politics.”

At the opposite extreme, John Edwards blames the power of the wealthy and corporate interests for our problems, and says, in effect, that America needs another F.D.R. — a polarizing figure, the object of much hatred from the right, who nonetheless succeeded in making big changes.

Over the last few days Mr. Obama and Mr. Edwards have been conducting a long-range argument over health care that gets right to this issue. And I have to say that Mr. Obama comes off looking, well, naïve.

The argument began during the Democratic debate, when the moderator — Carolyn Washburn, the editor of The Des Moines Register — suggested that Mr. Edwards shouldn’t be so harsh on the wealthy and special interests, because “the same groups are often responsible for getting things done in Washington.”

Mr. Edwards replied, “Some people argue that we’re going to sit at a table with these people and they’re going to voluntarily give their power away. I think it is a complete fantasy; it will never happen.”

This was pretty clearly a swipe at Mr. Obama, who has repeatedly said that health reform should be negotiated at a “big table” that would include insurance companies and drug companies.

On Saturday Mr. Obama responded, this time criticizing Mr. Edwards by name. He declared that “We want to reduce the power of drug companies and insurance companies and so forth, but the notion that they will have no say-so at all in anything is just not realistic.”

Hmm. Do Obama supporters who celebrate his hoped-for ability to bring us together realize that “us” includes the insurance and drug lobbies?

O.K., more seriously, it’s actually Mr. Obama who’s being unrealistic here, believing that the insurance and drug industries — which are, in large part, the cause of our health care problems — will be willing to play a constructive role in health reform. The fact is that there’s no way to reduce the gross wastefulness of our health system without also reducing the profits of the industries that generate the waste.

As a result, drug and insurance companies — backed by the conservative movement as a whole — will be implacably opposed to any significant reforms. And what would Mr. Obama do then? “I’ll get on television and say Harry and Louise are lying,” he says. I’m sure the lobbyists are terrified.

As health care goes, so goes the rest of the progressive agenda. Anyone who thinks that the next president can achieve real change without bitter confrontation is living in a fantasy world.

Which brings me to a big worry about Mr. Obama: in an important sense, he has in effect become the anti-change candidate.

The rest of Krugman's piece in the NYTimes.

December 17, 2007

Dust off your balls

It's prognostication time again boys and girls.

Time for you to flex your political forecasting muscles and tell us who is going to win the Iowa caucusesssessesssss. (Or would that be caucci? Which begs the question, could the Hawkeye caucci be cock-eyed? But I digress.)

Taking into account the factors listed in the post below, list your prediction for who will place first, second, and third in Iowa for both parties if you please. Short explanations are appreciated, but not necessary. If you're particularly psychic, you can even predict margins if you dare.

You can also offer your picks for New Hampshire or other state's primaries if so inclined.

Good luck.

Edwards gets cover treatment, Lieberman endorses McCain, and papers issue endorsements

John Edwards gets some love from Newsweek with a cover and accompanying story, which explains that his campaign is hoping that his work in rural areas of Iowa (Edwards has visited every one of Iowa's 99 counties) will gain enough votes to offset any possible losses in the states larger cities. As the story notes, in Iowa, "... a precinct where 25 people show up to vote gets the same number of delegates as a place that packs in 2,500."

It's good to see some media attention to a campaign that is actually in a statistical dead heat with both Obama and Clinton in Iowa.

Edwards also scored another "get" when he received the endorsement of Iowa first lady Mari Culver, wife of Iowa governor Chet Culver, who is remaining officially neutral in the race. (turn down your volume before watching this QC Times video clip. It's insanely loud.) The Des Moine Register account notes that former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack's endorsement of John Kerry was regarded as important in his upset Iowa victory in '04 and he hopes Culver's will have the same effect.

Edwards also stands to gain due to the little mentioned but very important "second choice" factor in Iowa.

According to Iowa caucus rules, a candidate has to get at least 15% of votes in a caucus for their votes to be registered. If they fail to meet that threshold, that candidate's supporters are then free to switch their votes to any candidate who does meet the threshold.

This means that supporters of Kucinich, Biden, Dodd, and Richardson are being courted by the big three. These "second choice" votes could make the difference in a tight race. Polls show that among supporters of second tier candidates most likely to fall below the 15% threshold, Edwards leads as their second choice.

Another little mentioned factor is that many college students will be returning home for vacation over the holidays and thus not able to caucus. This of course could potentially hurt any candidate who could otherwise expect a strong showing from younger voters, such as Obama.

It's definitely a jump ball in Iowa and January 3rd should prove exciting.

And our old pal Smokin' Joe Lieberman, a loathsome creature whom I've long held in low regard and whom many commenters here have angrily defended, has decided to see if he can impart some of that legendary "Joementum" on Republican Sen. John McCain by endorsing him for president. Guess he couldn't find a Dem that loves the war as much as he does. So glad the Dems picked him to be on the ticket in 2000.

Considering that Lieberman came in 5th in the New Hampshire primary when he ran, it's amazing that McCain even accepted the endorsement. Lieberman is undoubtedly a schmuck who wouldn't even be in the senate if it hadn't been for Republican support for his campaign. All the more reason to work for a large Dem senate pick-up to relegate Joe to the obscurity he deserves.

And for what it's worth, the Des Moines Register has issued their primary endorsements, backing Hillary Clinton in the Democratic field and John McCain for Republican.

The Boston Globe, the biggest paper in the New Hampshire market, has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain.

War been berry berry good to me

A commenter recently predicably scoffed at the very notion that this administration was motivated by greed and profit in their mad push to invade Iraq and trying the same old bamboozle to get us to attack Iran.

Here's a piece that explains a little of how Bush/Cheney and those close to them have made out so far in the "War on Terra".

Of course, this doesn't even touch the list of campaign contributors and other Republican connected profiteers who have scored like bandits, often inventing companies out of thin air to reap the windfall.

There was a story a few days back about people who've actually set up charities obstensibly to help wounded veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, and paid themselves half million dollar salaries with only a tiny fraction of the millions raised actually being spent for the intended purpose.

The head of one enormous charity which took in $72 million in donations, "Help Hospitalized Veterans", is currently on the lam and can't be located.

Congress is investigating. Lots of harumphing, but will anything be done?

December 16, 2007

Mormonism explained

... in a way even monster truck fans might comprehend. Told in the inimitable and perversely wonderful style of Jack Chick.

But perhaps lost in the weirdness is the fact that everything he says about Mormon beliefs are true. I'm not sure which is more bizarre, the fact that Chick as a Christian clings to many fables himself, or the Mormon fables that he holds up as evil and dangerous.

For hours of disturbingly hilarious fun, rummage through the vast trove of Chick tracts. I'm sure you'll learn things you never hoped to know.

This is something that the media has silently agreed was strictly taboo, and that's to actually mention anything about what Mormonism actually teachs.

You'll be waiting a long time before you hear anyone in the media suggest that maybe it's not that odd to question the wisdom of electing someone president of the United States who truly believes that they'll get to become a god on their own private planet after they die. (Or someone who doesn't believe in evolution, for that matter.)

Seriously, how is wearing sacred underwear and thinking you'll get your own planet, or stating that you essentially don't believe in science (evolution) any different from a candidate coming out and in all seriousness announcing that they believe in the tooth fairy or the easter bunny?

Why is believing in particularly bizarre religious fairy tales that fly in the face of all reason or logic accepted unquestioningly by millions, while any candidate espousing the equally goofy belief that the Easter Bunny exists would have their sanity questioned and be roundly mocked and dismissed?

I guess Republicans aren't really troubled by quasi-lunatics as their front-runners.

Laideeeeees and Gentleman! I give you, your 2008 Republican presidential prospects!

December 11, 2007

Voters prefer Edwards among Democratic candidates against all Republicans

A CNN/Opinion Research poll released today shows that registered voters would be more likely to vote for John Edwards over any of the Republican candidates. In specific matchups between each top Democratic candidate and each Republican candidate, Edwards emerged as voter's clear choice over both Obama and Clinton.

The question asked voters was:
"If (specific Dem candidate) were the Democratic Party's candidate and (specific Rep. candidate) were the Republican Party's candidate, who would you be more likely to vote for -- (specific Dem candidate), the Democrat, or (specific Rep. candidate), the Republican?
(IF UNSURE:) As of today, who do you lean more toward?"

Against Giuliani:

Edwards 53% .... Giuliani 44% .... Margin 9
Obama 52% .... Giuliani 45% .... Margin 7
Clinton 51% .... Giuliani 45% .... Margin 6

Against Romney:

Edwards 59%.... Romney 37%.... Margin 22
Obama 54% .... Romney 41% .... Margin 13
Clinton 54% .... Romney 43% .... Margin 11

Against McCain:

Edwards 52%.... McCain 44%.... Margin 8
Obama 48%.... McCain 48%.... Margin 0
Clinton 48% .... McCain 50%.... Margin -2

Against Huckabee:

Edwards 60%.... Huckabee 35%.... Margin 25
Obama 55% .... Huckabee 40%.... Margin 15
Clinton 54%.... Huckabee 44%.... Margin 10

It's also of note that the ONLY matchup where a Republican is preferred over a Dem candidate is John McCain over Hillary Clinton (though it's within the margin of error of +/- 3pts,) McCain also does best overall against Democratic challengers.


So why is Edwards not getting the blanket coverage that Clinton and Obama receive? Does the unwritten rule of the press that they only discuss the top two candidates of either party at any particular time serve the public?

Given the results of this poll, why is Edwards not polling better in New Hampshire and Iowa (where he's within striking distance)?

To what extent does his struggle to compete in campaign cash and publicity reflect the machine nature of Democratic politics? To what extent does it reflect the all-pervasive influence of campaign money? To what extent does it reflect the media's seeming inability to focus on anyone beyond the current top two candidates from either side, whomever they may be at the moment?

Why the disparity between press attention and campaign cash and the results of this poll?

December 10, 2007

Pity the poor paranoids and war mongers

Joe "Bomb Iran now" Lieberman and the rest of the witless boobs trying to pull the wool over American's eyes for a second time must be having a difficult time these days.

And where's the Chicken Little commenter who obsessed with arguing that I was absolutely NUTS to suggest that Iran wasn't as dire a threat as we were being told by the administration? I know you're out there. What's your story now? The laughable pretense being peddled by John Bolton that THIS National Intelligence Estimate is politically motivated and therefore suspect, but the proven politically influenced and doctored ones leading to the invasion of Iraq weren't? Good luck with that, though I suppose if anyone can spot a politically doctored intelligence assessment, it would be Bolton.

Or have people within the government finally decided to actually stick to facts, at the risk of severe punishment from those to whom reality is regarded as a threat to their lust for immensely lucrative war and control of mid-east oil?

Word is that some in the intelligence community were so thoroughly disgusted with the Bush administrations perversion of the intelligence function of government and efforts to bury data that showed Iran not to be the dire threat of World War III that Bush and minions were busy peddling that they threatened to personally leak this NIE themselves if its release continued to be blocked, even though doing so would risk imprisonment.

From Joe Conason in the NY Observer:
Even when George W. Bush tells the truth, he cannot quite bring himself to tell the whole truth. Although the White House released a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, indicating that the Iranians shut down their program more than four years ago, the president treated those conclusions as a vindication more than an embarrassment.

With the usual propagandists at Fox News Channel and elsewhere filtering the N.I.E. to cover up their mistakes, it is worth reproducing a few of the new report’s most salient quotes. “We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program,” said the N.I.E. text, reflecting a strong consensus among the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies. “Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005 [when the intelligence community prepared its last N.I.E. on this subject]. Our assessment that the program probably was halted primarily in response to international pressure suggests Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issue than we judged previously.”

It is encouraging to learn before, and not after, a military invasion that the weapons of mass destruction don’t exist, possibly avoiding unnecessary loss of life, treasure and national reputation. Considering that the Bush regime remains in charge, such a reversal of events can only be regarded as progress.

The NIE also contained this passage:
"Our assessment that Iran halted the program in 2003 primarily in response to international pressure indicates Tehran's decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic, and military costs....."

In other words, Iran determined the cost of such an effort wasn't worth the benefits.
"Tehran's decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs," states the NIE. Asked if this meant the Iranian regime would be "deterrable" if it did obtain a weapon, a senior official responded, "That is the implication." He added: "Diplomacy works. That's the message."

Yet according to Bush and many Republicans, and the lemmings so eager to quake in their boots and believe them, the leadership of Iran were all completely insane, evil-doing madmen.

It would appear the government of Iran is more sane than our own administration and most of the Republican party.

If only THEY'D done a cost/benefit analysis without ignoring all evidence that couldn't be twisted into justification for their reckless actions, we'd now be MUCH better off, not to mention Iran wouldn't be sitting pretty as they are now. Iran has benefitted enormously from Bush's misguided Iraq invasion.

This of course doesn't even delve into the overwhelming evidence that Bush knew about what was contained in the NIE and continued to beat the drums for war with Iran, constantly following the tired old fear and doom playbook he's stuck to for so long, then denied knowing anything about it until last week. This doesn't even pass the laugh test for most of Washington, not to mention the country.

And of course, Bush then simply did what anyone would expect from such a person. He came out and said that this evidence doesn't change anything, that we still should be very afraid of Iran, etc. etc. After all, he reasoned, what's to say they might not start a nuclear weapon program someday?

Well, what's to say Burkina Faso might not too? We better be prepared to be VERY scared for ... well, forever. What if other countries get nuclear weapons? What about Russia, China, India, Pakistan (Home of bin Laden (r)), or North Korea? Oh wait. Nevermind.

Bush simply ignored the facts of a full 14 of the country's intelligence agencies and said nothing had changed.

A pathological presidential liar, or an idiot-in-chief? Some people aren't too happy about it.

December 9, 2007

Weirdness at the Double O corral

Did anyone else happen to see the entire Obama campaign event in Des Moines featuring Oprah Winfrey?

I just want to check to see if I'm the only one that felt it was a disaster, that Obama seemed almost drunk and completely off-balance for at least the first ten minutes of his appearance, and that he seemed to have lost his composure for most of the rest.

Granted, I saw the C-Span broadcast live, and as was the case with the famous incident where Howard Dean was unfairly crucified for simply letting out a whoop, when you're watching an event with a huge boisterous and vocal crowd, but you're only hearing audio from one person's microphone, it often sounds weird, as the speaker is hearing things you're not, and reacting to them. The speaker's voice also seems WAY louder than necessary, as you're not picking up the deafening roar of the crowd that they're shouting over.

But Obama rambled, and I mean rambled, for far too long when he came on stage in attempt after attempt to praise Oprah to the heavens, even comparing her to Martin Luther King, Jr. at one point. Weird.

He went on and on and on like this, as if he simply was stalling for time until he could remember what he was supposed to say in his actual speech. Then he seemed shaky in getting to the actual speech, his microphone kept cutting out as he shouted so loudly into it the sound was distorted almost to the point where you couldn't make out what he was saying.

In other words, at least from the position I viewed it, it seemed like a disaster, and only more so due to the massive hype that has been given to the fact that Oprah was going to go on the stump for him.

It was a golden opportunity, with a massive crowd that even a candidate used to attracting huge crowds couldn't have drawn on his own. The media were focused like a laser beam. It was Obama's day in the sun.

And it seemed like an embarassing train wreck in my view.

Click the C-Span link above to view the event online.

Anyone else see it and have a different perspective?

Willard's no J.F.K.

A nugget from a quote within Maureen Dowd's latest pretty much sums up Romney's big speech about his Mormonism (in which he mentioned the word "Mormon" exactly once.):
"J.F.K.'s speech was to reassure Americans that he wasn't a religious fanatic," Mr. Krakauer agreed. "Mitt's was to tell evangelical Christians, "I'm a religious fanatic just like you.'"

One other observation about Romney; he seems to have no clue why he's running for President. There is no apparent reason, rationale, or purpose to his campaign, other than perhaps he's been so successful at everything else and he's so spookily artificial and generic, thus marketable, that he figured, why not?

December 8, 2007

Pre-Iowa caucus message from Michael Moore

Who Do We Vote For This Time Around? A Letter from Michael Moore

January 2, 2008


A new year has begun. And before we've had a chance to break our New Year's resolutions, we find ourselves with a little more than 24 hours before the good people of Iowa tell us whom they would like to replace the man who now occupies three countries and a white house.

Twice before, we have begun the process to stop this man, and twice we have failed. Eight years of our lives as Americans will have been lost, the world left in upheaval against us... and yet now, today, we hope against hope that our moment has finally arrived, that the amazingly powerful force of the Republican Party will somehow be halted. But we know that the Democrats are experts at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and if there's a way to blow this election, they will find it and do it with gusto.

Do you feel the same as me? That the Democratic front-runners are a less-than-stellar group of candidates, and that none of them are the "slam dunk" we wish they were? Of course, there are wonderful things about each of them. Any one of them would be infinitely better than what we have now. Personally, Congressman Kucinich, more than any other candidate, shares the same positions that I have on the issues (although the UFO that picked ME up would only take me as far as Kalamazoo). But let's not waste time talking about Dennis. Even he is resigned to losing, with statements like the one he made yesterday to his supporters in Iowa to throw their support to Senator Obama as their "second choice."

So, it's Hillary, Obama, Edwards -- now what do we do?

Two months ago, Rolling Stone magazine asked me to do a cover story where I would ask the hard questions that no one was asking in one-on-one interviews with Senators Clinton, Obama and Edwards. "The Top Democrats Face Off with Michael Moore." The deal was that all three candidates had to agree to let me interview them or there was no story. Obama and Edwards agreed. Mrs. Clinton said no, and the cover story was thus killed.

Why would the love of my life, Hillary Clinton, not sit down to talk with me? What was she afraid of?

Those of you who are longtime readers of mine may remember that 11 years ago I wrote a chapter (in my first book) entitled, "My Forbidden Love for Hillary." I was fed up with the treatment she was getting, most of it boringly sexist, and I thought somebody should stand up for her. I later met her and she thanked me for referring to her as "one hot s***kicking feminist babe." I supported and contributed to her run for the U.S. Senate. I think she is a decent and smart person who loves this country, cares deeply about kids, and has put up with more crap than anyone I know of (other than me) from the Crazy Right. Her inauguration would be a thrilling sight, ending 218 years of white male rule in a country where 51% of its citizens are female and 64% are either female or people of color.

And yet, I am sad to say, nothing has disappointed me more than the disastrous, premeditated vote by Senator Hillary Clinton to send us to war in Iraq. I'm not only talking about her first vote that gave Mr. Bush his "authorization" to invade -- I'm talking about every single OTHER vote she then cast for the next four years, backing and funding Bush's illegal war, and doing so with verve. She never met a request from the White House for war authorization that she didn't like. Unlike the Kerrys and the Bidens who initially voted for authorization but later came to realize the folly of their decision, Mrs. Clinton continued to cast numerous votes for the war until last March -- four long years of pro-war votes, even after 70% of the American public had turned against the war. She has steadfastly refused to say that she was wrong about any of this, and she will not apologize for her culpability in America's worst-ever foreign policy disaster. All she can bring herself to say is that she was "misled" by "faulty intelligence."

Let's assume that's true. Do you want a President who is so easily misled? I wasn't "misled," and millions of others who took to the streets in February of 2003 weren't "misled" either. It was simply amazing that we knew the war was wrong when none of us had been briefed by the CIA, none of us were national security experts, and none of us had gone on a weapons inspection tour of Iraq. And yet... we knew we were being lied to! Let me ask those of you reading this letter: Were YOU "misled" -- or did you figure it out sometime between October of 2002 and March of 2007 that George W. Bush was up to something rotten? Twenty-three other senators were smart enough to figure it out and vote against the war from the get-go. Why wasn't Senator Clinton?

I have a theory: Hillary knows the sexist country we still live in and that one of the reasons the public, in the past, would never consider a woman as president is because she would also be commander in chief. The majority of Americans were concerned that a woman would not be as likely to go to war as a man (horror of horrors!). So, in order to placate that mindset, perhaps she believed she had to be as "tough" as a man, she had to be willing to push The Button if necessary, and give the generals whatever they wanted. If this is, in fact, what has motivated her pro-war votes, then this would truly make her a scary first-term president. If the U.S. is faced with some unforeseen threat in her first years, she knows that in order to get re-elected she'd better be ready to go all Maggie Thatcher on whoever sneezes in our direction. Do we want to risk this, hoping the world makes it in one piece to her second term?

I have not even touched on her other numerous -- and horrendous -- votes in the Senate, especially those that have made the middle class suffer even more (she voted for Bush's first bankruptcy bill, and she is now the leading recipient of payoff money -- I mean campaign contributions -- from the health care industry). I know a lot of you want to see her elected, and there is a very good chance that will happen. There will be plenty of time to vote for her in the general election if all the pollsters are correct. But in the primaries and caucuses, isn't this the time to vote for the person who most reflects the values and politics you hold dear? Can you, in good conscience, vote for someone who so energetically voted over and over and over again for the war in Iraq? Please give this serious consideration.

Now, on to the two candidates who did agree to do the interview with me...

Barack Obama is a good and inspiring man. What a breath of fresh air! There's no doubting his sincerity or his commitment to trying to straighten things out in this country. But who is he? I mean, other than a guy who gives a great speech? How much do any of us really know about him? I know he was against the war. How do I know that? He gave a speech before the war started. But since he joined the senate, he has voted for the funds for the war, while at the same time saying we should get out. He says he's for the little guy, but then he votes for a corporate-backed bill to make it harder for the little guy to file a class action suit when his kid swallows lead paint from a Chinese-made toy. In fact, Obama doesn't think Wall Street is a bad place. He wants the insurance companies to help us develop a new health care plan -- the same companies who have created the mess in the first place. He's such a feel-good kinda guy, I get the sense that, if elected, the Republicans will eat him for breakfast. He won't even have time to make a good speech about it.

But this may be a bit harsh. Senator Obama has a big heart, and that heart is in the right place. Is he electable? Will more than 50% of America vote for him? We'd like to believe they would. We'd like to believe America has changed, wouldn't we? Obama lets us feel better about ourselves -- and as we look out the window at the guy snowplowing his driveway across the street, we want to believe he's changed, too. But are we dreaming?

And then there's John Edwards.

It's hard to get past the hair, isn't it? But once you do -- and recently I have chosen to try -- you find a man who is out to take on the wealthy and powerful who have made life so miserable for so many. A candidate who says things like this: "I absolutely believe to my soul that this corporate greed and corporate power has an ironclad hold on our democracy." Whoa. We haven't heard anyone talk like that in a while, at least not anyone who is near the top of the polls. I suspect this is why Edwards is doing so well in Iowa, even though he has nowhere near the stash of cash the other two have. He won't take the big checks from the corporate PACs, and he is alone among the top three candidates in agreeing to limit his spending and be publicly funded. He has said, point-blank, that he's going after the drug companies and the oil companies and anyone else who is messing with the American worker. The media clearly find him to be a threat, probably because he will go after their monopolistic power, too. This is Roosevelt/Truman kind of talk. That's why it's resonating with people in Iowa, even though he doesn't get the attention Obama and Hillary get -- and that lack of coverage may cost him the first place spot tomorrow night. After all, he is one of those white guys who's been running things for far too long.

And he voted for the war. But unlike Senator Clinton, he has stated quite forcefully that he was wrong. And he has remorse. Should he be forgiven? Did he learn his lesson? Like Hillary and Obama, he refused to promise in a September debate that there will be no U.S. troops in Iraq by the end of his first term in 2013. But this week in Iowa, he changed his mind. He went further than Clinton and Obama and said he'd have all the troops home in less than a year.

Edwards is the only one of the three front-runners who has a universal health care plan that will lead to the single-payer kind all other civilized countries have. His plan doesn't go as fast as I would like, but he is the only one who has correctly pointed out that the health insurance companies are the enemy and should not have a seat at the table.

I am not endorsing anyone at this point. This is simply how I feel in the first week of the process to replace George W. Bush. For months I've been wanting to ask the question, "Where are you, Al Gore?" You can only polish that Oscar for so long. And the Nobel was decided by Scandinavians! I don't blame you for not wanting to enter the viper pit again after you already won. But getting us to change out our incandescent light bulbs for some irritating fluorescent ones isn't going to save the world. All it's going to do is make us more agitated and jumpy and feeling like once we get home we haven't really left the office.

On second thought, would you even be willing to utter the words, "I absolutely believe to my soul that this corporate greed and corporate power has an ironclad hold on our democracy?" 'Cause the candidate who understands that, and who sees it as the root of all evil -- including the root of global warming -- is the President who may lead us to a place of sanity, justice and peace.


Michael Moore (not an Iowa voter, but appreciative of any state that has a town named after a sofa)

December 7, 2007

Ah those were the days

Since I'm utterly devoid of any will to post things which only attract a bevy of dull witless comments, here's a slew of posts from back in the day. Still interesting. Take a stroll down memory lane and see what things were like. It even includes the now famous researcher/masseuse story regarding Sen. Jacobs. I miss being threatened dozens of times a day by the completely unhinged.

This is a page of archives from February of 2006.


I've noticed that the Republicans are finally getting bogged down in the tar pit of their own making, namely, the ridiculous rhetoric of so-called "social conservative" issues.

These issues have never made much sense, and amounted essentially to those with nothing better to do bitching and complaining and ranting about those who are different from themselves and trying mightily to shove these people into second class citizenship.

And of course, they're absolutely obsessed with what other's do in their bedroom.

Add to that the fatal effort to repeal legal abortions, and they were doomed from the start. The country simply isn't that religiously rigid, and most people, regardless of their feelings on these "hot button" issues, simply don't feel the country should be turned into a theocracy as many in power desperately desire.

Witness the recent Republican debate where they came out of the chute making fools of themselves arguing about who hated immigrants the most. It was farcical as Giuliani tried to blast Romney for having hired a lawn care outfit that happened to employ some undocumented immigrants, and Romney stammering and sputtering while trying to blast Giuliani for having refused to boot the children of illegals out of school. It's simply jaw-dropping that this is what the level of discourse has sunk to on the right. It's sure not what made America great.

It's a fool's errand to try to turn back the clock, hold back time, and turn the country back into the fantasy ideal of June and Ward Cleaver. Good luck with that.

When Romney was asked what he'd do to address the ongoing and hugely damaging epidemic of black on black crime which is plaguing our country, he actually said that he'd somehow make sure that kids had a mom and dad.

Think about that.

Black people live with this every day. It's like living in Bagdhad in some cities. Young black boys are being essentially slaughtered, and if they survive the carnage, they're ending up in prison.

What does Ward Cleaver think will solve this difficult problem? Why, somehow forcing parents to get married, and stay married I guess.

Can any reader tell me just how a government is supposed to accomplish this? Seriously.

How can a serious candidate for the presidency stand up there and mouth drivel about kids having both parents to raise them and not get laughed and hooted off the stage?

I'm not saying that stengthening families isn't a tremendous deterant to this problem and many others, don't leap to that false conclusion. But what I am saying is that government simply can NOT legislate that women will not bear children, or that fathers will always be good and committed fathers, or that those who are married will stay married, and on and on. To suggest that as a solution to this problem is absolutely stupid and ridiculous on its face.

But the "social conservatives" eat it up with a spoon. They don't care if it's even remotely possible or practical, nor whether it's the role of the government to even be involved in an issue. As long as it sounds good and sounds like someone will do something about people who aren't able to live as they do, then they eat it up with a spoon.

Does it make a lick of sense? No. But that rarely matters to these voters.

Likewise, there was a plain spooky question from a really spooky guy who repeatedly shoved the Bible into the camera while repeatedly asking if the candidates believed that "every word in this book is true." Even more bizarrly, he prefaced the question by saying that their answers would, "tell us everything we need to know about you."

There were other questions directly designed to test the poor boob's religiousity. Attempts to force them to stand there and out-Christian each other. It was ugly.

Not only was it ugly, but it was wholey and completely unconstitutional, and not one person on the stage thought to mention that religion is a personal matter which doesn't belong in that forum.

They are the ones who insist on wearing their faith on their sleeves, and now they're getting ripped up by finding themselves in the middle of that briar patch themselves. It's a good thing.

Perhaps this bloodbath amongst the Republicans will finally show more people of that persuesion that the social hot button issues are, in the end, losers.

The Republicans this election will likely be sunk by their efforts to placate and pander to the religious right, and if there is a God, it will mark the beginning of the end of this divisive and wrong-headed effort by the religious right to intrude into government in every way they can.

While watching these supposedly sane people spout the most amazingly religiously beligerant views, often intended to show how anxious they are to slaughter those of a different faith, it's impossible to avoid seeing the fact that they are increasingly acting exactly like the mullahs and ayatollahs in the mid-east that they constantly villify.

A large majority of the country has always rejected the antics of these power grubbing religious types, though you'd never know it because they've always weilded far, far more influence and power within the Republican party than their true number would reflect. But this may signal a slow death to their continued strangle-hold over the Republican party, as Republicans wake up to the fact that these divisive and often outright biggoted views will spell their doom if they continue to cling to them.

December 3, 2007

Grab bag

Too busy to do a full post, so here's some recent items in the news. Chime in if you have any feelings about any of them.

Rudy Giuliani deals with terrorist harboring pals. (What would Republicans do if it were revealed that Clinton was making millions knowingly dealing with sheiks who harbored al Queda leaders?)

Rudy romps with a woman not his wife in the posh Hamptons and bills security cost to city agencies. (again, can you IMAGINE if Clinton did anything like that? Instead, this is the guy that Pat Robertson endorses for President!)

Trent Lott bails out just ahead of lobbying reform that would make him wait two years before cashing in.

Huckabee surging in polls. Many voters flocking to anti-Iraq "war" libertarian Ron Paul,feeling he's the only "real" Republican running. Paul is still holding on to a boost after raising millions almost overnight.

The corporate shill heading the FCC is trying to ramrod through further media conglomeration, allowing corporations to own both newspapers and TV stations in the same market, only allowing a week for public comment.

Old Henry Hyde died. Remembered for being a pompous boob leading the House impeachment "managers", invoking all the dead soldiers of WWII and solemnly saying that if they didn't impeach Clinton, the nation would crumble and collapse. Shortly after, Henry made a name for himself when it was revealed that he'd had an affair with a married woman which broke up her marriage. Hyde then dismissed the entire sordid mess as a "youthful indescretion". Hyde was in his mid-40's at the time and cheating on his wife as well. Swell guy.

The depressingly boring and embarassing mess in Springfield continues unabated.

The latest, for those of you scoring at home, is that Mayor Daley and the Chicago boys wanted the lege to sign over some big money to keep the Chicago Transit system from shutting down due to lack of funds. These funds aren't available because the lege still hasn't passed a capital budget. The senate has passed one, but the House still hasn't.

Without getting too far into the weeds, it's a battle between three primary figures, none of which is covering themselves with glory, Governor Blagojevich, Senate President Emil Jones, and House Speaker Mike Madigan.

Blago just called the 17th special session of the legislature to try to deal with this mess. (it's past the point of rationality already.)

While Speaker Madigan thinks the CTA should get their needed bailout. A coalition of downstate legislators headed by Sen. John Sullivan, of Quincy decided to attempt to play hardball to shake things loose and get the capital budget passed and finally get all the stuff for downstate that it contains. Sullivan you may recall was prominently mentioned as a possible candidate to fill Lane Evan's position as U.S. Rep.

If you're still following, it seems that this coalition, long suffering from the power of the Chicago crowd and feeling slighted when it comes to funding, has decided to try to use the CTA as a level to force the passage of a capital budget which contains funds for dozens of local projects throughout the downstate area such as infrastructure projects like bridges, etc. and various other things, such as the WIU project in Moline whose fate has been swinging in the breeze awaiting whether the state leaders can somehow get over their personal grudges long enough to pass the damn budget.

So Sen. Sullivan and his coalition told the leaders that the only way the CTA could get it's emergency funds was if it were coupled with passage of the capital budget and it's long awaited funding for downstate projects.

I get drowsy trying to read reports about this, and frankly, I don't know where things stand at the moment. Anyone who knows or cares is free to bring us up to date. But PLEASE, just state the facts and avoid trying to make it look as if one person is single-handedly saving the day, or another is single-handedly bringing the entire state crashing down. (spare us the hype.)

And it's a bit old, but very important. Little Scotty McClellan, Bush's former press flack, has come out and stated clearly that Bush himself, along with Rove, Cheney, and chief of staff what's his name, were all involved in sending him out to lie to the country and the world by catagorically denying that Rove or Cheney had anything to do with the outing of incredibly beautiful CIA agent Valerie Plame. ( you can keep Ann Coulter and her Adam's apple.)

Anything else you want to add to the list, feel free.

That'll be a little something for you to chew on while I get ready to go feel the warm sand between my toes somewhere in a more agreeable latitude.