Thursday, July 31, 2008

McCain's maturity

McCain is old. That's old news, you were all aware. But he's acting like an eight-year-old. Check out his latest ad, "Celeb":

Paris Hilton? Britney Spears? SERIOUSLY?

McCain's insinuation that coverage of Obama is frivolous and unwarranted is not only insensitive and offensive, but also incredibly childish.

He kind of redeems the ad by making statements about actual political issues, but McCain's message on Obama lately--Obama the celebrity--just reeks of immaturity. While Politico thinks this spin has some traction, and the New York Times says the opposite, let's take a second to admire the utter inanity of McCain's message.

Barack Obama is a U.S. Senator. He's running for President. He was a law professor at UChicago. He has written two very successful books. Also, HE'S RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT. To claim that covering what he says is akin to chasing an ambulance that might contain Britney Spears is idiotic.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Aaron Brown: Union Choice Matters

This will be my second post about Unions, but Aaron Brown at Minnesota Brown has a great post on the employee free choice act.

It's a must read, he starts:

One of the great setbacks in Minnesota's U.S. Senate campaign is how Republican operatives -- more specifically big business operatives -- have been able to cloud the water over the issue of the Employee Free Choice Act. Their ads featuring mobster-like figures pressuring pleasant looking workers into joining unions have fueled many misconceptions held by people unfamiliar with the goals of the labor movement and have even confused some voters into thinking that they might lose their "secret ballot" for public elections, too.

If you want a specific example of Employer abuse (although not from Minnesota) check out my previous post about Smithfield Pork.

Franken's Energy Plan

MN Publius reports on Al Franken's energy plan, which he outlined at a press conference at independently-owned gas station Super Day in St. Paul.

Aaron Landry's recap:
1. Making commodities trading more transparent, thereby working to eliminate the “spectulator tax.” He referenced research and and reports that confirmed that speculation has added as much as $40 per barrel to the price of oil.
2. Increasing supply by releasing 50 millions of barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Franken referenced instances in 2000 and 2005 where Clinton and Bush both used the SPR to stabilize markets.
3. Expanding the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). He noted that WAP has reduced heating bills as overall household energy costs significantly.

If you need reminding, Republicans in Congress--including our very own Norm Coleman--blocked three Democratic bills attempting to help Americans afford $4 a gallon gasoline, all to push offshore drilling rather than innovation.

It's a political issue and an environmental issue, of course--but Republicans in Congress should keep in mind that the price of gas is also a social justice issue. It has the biggest effect on the lowest-income Americans, especially those outside major metropolitan areas with reliable public transit.

If you can't afford to drive to work, you can't work. If you can't afford both food and gas, you're in a world of trouble.

Franken's plan makes an immediate change, the kind these working people need. Republicans want more drilling, and more oil, and that's it. Democrats like Franken, who's also in favor of renewable energy innovation, know that's an unsustainable solution.

Sarvi Campaign Earns IP Endorsement

Minnesota has a strong history of independent voters and independent thinkers. How strong? Our Democratic party is not known as a Democratic party, but rather it is known as the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL). We have a strong third party, the Independence Party (which has candidates in various districts and the state wide Senate race). In the 2nd Congressional District though, the Independence Party has thrown in its lot with DFL candidate Steve Sarvi. Here is an excerpt from their press release.

“The Independence Party occasionally endorses a candidate from a different party when we do not have a candidate from our own party,” said Marian Brown, Second District chair. To be cross-endorsed, the candidate must agree with at least 75 percent of our key issues and meet several other qualifications. We look forward to having Steve Sarvi represent us in Congress.” The party’s core values include preserving the democratic process, justice, social inclusiveness, fiscal responsibility and protecting the environment.

“As I have gotten to know the members of the Independence Party, it has become clear to me that if anyone wants a change in course, it’s them,” said Steve Sarvi. “They want real fiscal responsibility – not politicians who run up our deficits and spend endlessly in Iraq while talking about fiscal responsibility. They want government that represents everyone – not just members of one party or donors with powerful corporate interests. They represent one special interest: making sure we leave a better world for our children and grandchildren. That’s what I want, and it’s what my supporters want. I’m proud to have this endorsement, and I look forward to having the Independence Party as an integral part of our team working for victory.”

Washington Post Gets it Wrong

The Washington Post tends to get things right. Dana Milbank is generally a good journalist, however this morning they ran with a quote that was entirely taken out of context.

The Washington Post reported that Obama the House Democratic Caucus that

"This is the moment . . . that the world is waiting for," adding: "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."

Sounds pretty presumptuous huh? Barack Obama is a SYMBOL of America? Man he must think this is all about him. In fact, that fits with the tone of Milbank's article entitled "President Obama Continues Hectic Victory Tour".

But here we go again...FACTS!

CBS News publishes the entire quote, with some commentary:
It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign, that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It’s about America. I have just become a symbol...”

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., who was in the room, pointed out to Fox News that the line was taken completely out of context.

"It was not about him," Clyburn said.

Let's see if anyone else follows CBS's lead and publishes the facts.

CarlDems Movie Reviews

There are two movies coming out this fall that are worth noting. "W." a biopic by Oliver Stone and Harry Potter. One looks mildly depressing, and the other one looks AWESOME!!! Yes, I realize this post reduces the credibility of this blog, but it's 7:15am and sometimes it's important to take a step back and realize what's really important in life.


Harry Pottah'

Also, out right now! THE DARK KNIGHT.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Unions Work: Don't Buy Smithfield Pork

Al Franken has recently been attacked for supporting card-check proposals that would allow workers to unionize without giving employees an opportunity for abuse. Why do people need Unions and card check? Because people need to be protected

Check out this ad from Smithfield Justice, and don't buy smithfield pork. If the problems below aren't enough, check out the labor violations as documented from the National Labor Relations Board and the U.S. court of appeals. Also, this lengthy investigative report from Rolling Stone magazine. See the three ads from Smithfield justice below.

For more information click here or paste it into your browser

Media Matter's Response to McCain Media Love

Unsurprisingly, Media Matters for America agrees with me. Again, not sure this really gets traction, but it seemed relevant given my post earlier today.

Who Speaks for John McCain?

So, who speaks for John McCain? The logo says John McCain for President. The surrogates claim they speak for themselves, but when John McCain contradicts himself, apparently "the campaign" has final say.

Yesterday, John McCain told George Stephanopoulos that he would consider tax hikes to help fix social security.

From the transcript:

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, that means payroll tax increases are on the table, as well?

MCCAIN: There is nothing that’s off the table.

And yet, this morning McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds told Fox News:

Tucker Bounds told Fox News' Megyn Kelly: "There is no imaginable circumstance where he'd raise taxes; it's not even in his record, and it's not in any proposal that he's put forward. I can tell you that with 100% certainty."

Think Progress reports that this is not the first time that the campaign has contradicted the candidate.

On July 25th, economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin declared:
He has certainly I’m sure said things in town halls that don’t jibe perfectly with his written plan. But that doesn’t mean it’s official.

What the candidate says is not official?

Then, just yesterday (July 28th) CNN reported:
Sen. John McCain said Sunday he supports an Arizona ballot initiative aimed at ending race- and gender-based preference programs — an announcement his rival cast as a reversal from his previous stance.

In 1998, McCain called a similar ballot measure "divisive."

How did the campaign respond?
But McCain's own campaign refused to say whether it stands by the candidate's announcement that he supports the ballot initiative.

Worth remembering what McCain and his campaign said after top economic adviser Phil Gramm referred to us as a "nation of whiners."

"Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me."

Makes you wonder. Did McCain check with his campaign before he said that? And better yet, who runs his campaign?

A quick blog search shows that 1115 has posted a similar post.

How do you Lexis Liberal?

You may have heard about how Monica Goodling, senior council to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, screened potential career (non-career positions) by asking probing questions such as (via TPM Muckraker):
Tell us about your political philosophy. There are different groups of conservatives, by way of example: Social Conservative, Fiscal Conservative, Law & Order Republican.

[W]hat is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?

Aside from the President, give us an example of someone currently or recently in public service who you admire.

Why are you a Republican?

What if she didn't believe the person she was interviewing or if she needed the authoritative background on the applicant (never mind that Justice Dpt. applicants probably receive FBI background checks)? Well, Monica Goodling was no dummy (after all she got her law degree from Pat Robertson's school Regent University). She knew that she could find out about the candidates via the News and Law search engine Lexis Nexis. The report shows that Goodling used the following formula to search for information about candidates:

[First name of a candidate]! and pre/2 [last name of a candidate] w/7 bush or gore or republican! or democrat! or charg! or accus! or criticiz! or blam! or defend! or iran contra or clinton or spotted owl or florida recount or sex! or controvers! or racis! or fraud! or investigat! or bankrupt! or layoff! or downsiz! or PNTR or NAFTA or outsourc! or indict! or enron or kerry or iraq or wmd! or arrest! or intox! or fired or sex! or racis! or intox! or slur! or arrest! or fired or controvers! or abortion! or gay! or homosexual! or gun! or firearm!"

Search for [candidates name] within 7 words of:
Iran Contra
Spotted Owl
Florida Recount
Lay Off

I've highlighted probably the two silliest: Spotted Owl and of course SEX!!!!

I've removed most of the repeats from the list. I would write more about how dumb this blatantly INAPPROPRIATE. But I think that you're probably tired of this, I know I am. Can our nation wait 175 days (until we have a new president)? I don't think I can.

Read (download)the full report here: DOJ 140 page Report.

YouTube Bashes McCain

(H/T Ben Smith)

This is a funny post. I'll say that there are parts that are arguably unfair, but I think it's pretty obviously a fun video, not a bonafide attacked.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know.

S. Robert Lichter: The Media Bashes Barack

For the past week we've heard the media narrative (driven by the McCain campaign) that the media is squarely in Barack Obama's pocket. They point to a report from Pew that:
Obama has appeared as a leading newsmaker in 78 percent of election stories, and McCain in 51 percent.
(via Howard Kurtz) However, that report does not state how much of the coverage was positive and how much as negative.

If you've been reading the news or watching any of the cable channels you've probably heard the media bashing themselves for covering Obama so much and for being "in love" with Obama. The McCain campaign made some videos which were supposed to portray the media fawning over Obama. Aside from a few clips (mostly of Chris Matthews) that showed some questionable quotes, the video showed clips of media talking heads arguing that that the media was supporting McCain.

Well, now a top media watchdog, S. Robert Lichter, and his team at the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) are replacing the speculation with (hold your breath)...FACTS! The CMPA did a study of ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, and Fox Special Report (first half hour) from June 8, 2008 to July 21, 2008. They were looking at those broadcasts which are most supposed to be non-biased, the shows that have the highest ratings and that Americans most count on for even-handed analysis.


Since the primaries ended, on-air evaluations of Barack Obama have been 72% negative (vs. 28% positive). That’s worse than John McCain’s coverage, which has been 57% negative (vs. 43% positive) during the same time period.

When linked with the previously mentioned Pew study (which might not be kosher, b/c I don't know the Pew methodology), that might mean that not only is the media more harsh on Obama, that harsh coverage takes up more broadcast time.

For the record, S. Robert Lichter has been a commentator for Fox News and has been criticized for being funded by conservative sources and for having "a conservative world view".

Facts...pretty important.

For much more on media mistakes for McCain click here.

I'm not a fan of bashing the media. The way the system works, the media reports those stories that they hope will sell best. I don't like the system, but I don't think anyone gets anywhere by complaining about it. But when a meme like, "Barack Obama controls the Media" comes out without any facts (contrary to the facts), someone has to say something.

The New Volunteer State

Minneapolis-St.Paul is ranked among the top three large cities for volunteering.

Carleton strongly supports volunteerism through its ACT (Acting in the Community Together) Office. Here are some Carleton programs that deal with some of the issues Paul and Sheila Wellstone fought so hard to bring to the surface:

Northfield Community Action Center Food Shelf and Clothes Closet

The HOPE Center, which provides advocacy for sexual assault survivors

Ruth's House of Hope, which makes 9-10 units of transitional housing available to homeless women and their children, many of whom are fleeing abusive environments.

For a larger list of Carleton ACT programs, check out their web site.

Freakin' hippies!

Representative Michele Bachmann (R, MN-06) freaking hates hippies, says her opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal (also hates hippies). I'll leave it to BarbinMD at DailyKos to summarize:
Michele Bachmann (R-MN) warns that when it comes to drilling for oil, Democrats are up to their old tricks. The want drilling done in an environmentally safe way, they want the work done by union workers and they want to force those poor oil companies to either develop the leases they already hold or lose them. Damn libruls!

Now, I'm willing to guess that, even though Michele Bachmann just returned from ANWR, she's not an expert on oil drilling. I'm not either. So I consulted one. The Energy Information Administration. The official federal source for energy statistics.

Know what they said?

The impact on world oil prices from drilling in ANWR would be negligible, maybe a reduction of 75 cents a barrel, which today costs $121.78. And that's over more than 10 years. Pardon me for not wetting my pants in excitement.

(Furthermore, EIA reports, as so many have, that we really can't be sure how much oil is actually there. While our estimates are informed, they're just estimates.)

Considering the devastatingly small rate of return, Bachmann's bitterness toward ethical environmental and labor policies becomes even more petty.

The answer to this problem isn't simple, and it's probably not in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We need members of Congress to stop recycling inefficacious and inviable "fixes" and start talking about the necessary revolution.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Compare and Contrast

In a recent
interview with People
, Barack Obama says that he used to do the grocery shopping and the laundry (but not the folding, *blush*):

In normal times, what's the division of labor at home between the two of you?
Barack: I was doing the checkbook, the house and car repairs, the grocery shopping.


In a recent YouTube video, John McCain struggles with grocery shopping:

Even though the Wall Street Journal reports that four in ten Americans think Obama has a backround they "can't relate with", I think it's important to keep in mind that Obama did grocery shopping and laundry (he tried, people!), and McCain just kinda forgot about his seven beach houses and made all that apple sauce fall down.

Sure, stances on the issues are all well and good--and I would argue, far more important than we make them--but it's nice to be reminded that "engaged" and "average guy" can still be the same.

(That said, I would never, ever call Obama an "average guy". He can frickin' bench press a house and not make applesauce fall over.)

Friday Fluff: Obama Curls 70 lbs

It's not good enough that Barack Obama travels around the world giving hope to millions.


It's not good enough that Barack Obama spoke to 200,000 in Germany. Nor is it good enough that he became best friends with former Bush amie French President Sarkozy.


Now we have a report that he's strong enough to take down Osama Bin Laden by himself. Rocky Balboa style.

This report from the German paper BILD claims that he lifted 70 lb (32kg) dumbbells in each hand, with ten repetitions, without breaking a sweat. I'm sure Arnold lifts more...but I think you'd have a hard time finding any other politician with muscles like that.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

New Franken Ad "No Joke"

Norm Coleman has been trying to slam Al Franken with stupid quotes from Franken's books. Now Al Franken is hitting back and he is showing that he's got what it takes to be a serious Senator. Check out the video:

Obama Berlin Video and Pictures

Full Video of Speech

The crowd is being estimated at 200,000!

Obama's Speech in Berlin

Here's the Text of Barack Obama's Speech from Real Clear Politics Video will be posted as soon as possible

It's called A World That Stands As One
Berlin's Victory Column in Tiergarten Park
Berlin, Germany

Thank you to the citizens of Berlin and to the people of Germany. Let me thank Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier for welcoming me earlier today. Thank you Mayor Wowereit, the Berlin Senate, the police, and most of all thank you for this welcome.

I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen - a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

I know that I don't look like the Americans who've previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father - my grandfather - was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning - his dream - required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.

That is why I'm here. And you are here because you too know that yearning. This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life.

Ours is a partnership that truly began sixty years ago this summer, on the day when the first American plane touched down at Templehof.

On that day, much of this continent still lay in ruin. The rubble of this city had yet to be built into a wall. The Soviet shadow had swept across Eastern Europe, while in the West, America, Britain, and France took stock of their losses, and pondered how the world might be remade.

This is where the two sides met. And on the twenty-fourth of June, 1948, the Communists chose to blockade the western part of the city. They cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin.

The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.

And that's when the airlift began - when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.

The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.

But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city's mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. "There is only one possibility," he said. "For us to stand together united until this battle is won...The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world: now do your duty...People of the world, look at Berlin!"

People of the world - look at Berlin!

Look at Berlin, where Germans and Americans learned to work together and trust each other less than three years after facing each other on the field of battle.

Look at Berlin, where the determination of a people met the generosity of the Marshall Plan and created a German miracle; where a victory over tyranny gave rise to NATO, the greatest alliance ever formed to defend our common security.

Look at Berlin, where the bullet holes in the buildings and the somber stones and pillars near the Brandenburg Gate insist that we never forget our common humanity.

People of the world - look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.

Sixty years after the airlift, we are called upon again. History has led us to a new crossroad, with new promise and new peril. When you, the German people, tore down that wall - a wall that divided East and West; freedom and tyranny; fear and hope - walls came tumbling down around the world. From Kiev to Cape Town, prison camps were closed, and the doors of democracy were opened. Markets opened too, and the spread of information and technology reduced barriers to opportunity and prosperity. While the 20th century taught us that we share a common destiny, the 21st has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human history.

The fall of the Berlin Wall brought new hope. But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers - dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean.

The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.

As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.

Poorly secured nuclear material in the former Soviet Union, or secrets from a scientist in Pakistan could help build a bomb that detonates in Paris. The poppies in Afghanistan become the heroin in Berlin. The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow. The genocide in Darfur shames the conscience of us all.

In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them. Yet, in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth. And if we're honest with each other, we know that sometimes, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny.

In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe's role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth - that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.

Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more - not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.

That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.

So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.

That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads, and people to assemble where we stand today. And this is the moment when our nations - and all nations - must summon that spirit anew.

This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.

This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war. I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO's first mission beyond Europe's borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.

This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love. With that wall gone, we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom. It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.

This is the moment when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday. In this century, we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad. In this century - in this city of all cities - we must reject the Cold War mind-set of the past, and resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must, and to seek a partnership that extends across this entire continent.

This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all.

This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions. We must support the Lebanese who have marched and bled for democracy, and the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a secure and lasting peace. And despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.

This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations - including my own - will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.

And this is the moment when we must give hope to those left behind in a globalized world. We must remember that the Cold War born in this city was not a battle for land or treasure. Sixty years ago, the planes that flew over Berlin did not drop bombs; instead they delivered food, and coal, and candy to grateful children. And in that show of solidarity, those pilots won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds; love and loyalty and trust - not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here.

Now the world will watch and remember what we do here - what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?

Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words "never again" in Darfur?

Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don't look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

People of Berlin - people of the world - this is our moment. This is our time.

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we've struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We've made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived - at great cost and great sacrifice - to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom - indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us - what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America's shores - is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.

Those are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. Those aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of those aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of those aspirations that all free people - everywhere - became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of those aspirations that a new generation - our generation - must make our mark on history.

People of Berlin - and people of the world - the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. Let us build on our common history, and seize our common destiny, and once again engage in that noble struggle to bring justice and peace to our world.
Barack Obama, a Democratic Senator from Illinois, is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

Interview with Northfield Mayor Lansing

While there are many important elections on November 4, 2008 one of the more important election for the city of Northfield will be the election for mayor. Over at Locally Grown, Representative Journalist Bonnie Obremski is starting a series of interviews with the candidates for Mayor. Today's interview is with incumbent mayor Lee Lansing. You can read more about the elections here.

Check out Obremski's post here.

We will continue to post about important local issues and elections.

Bush Bans Foreign Service Officers From Attending Obama Rally

Obama had a great speech in Berlin today, too bad Americans in Germany couldn't be there.

Katherine Zaleski reports on the Huffington Post that:

Although it appears most of Berlin is heading to Obama's speech today, US Foreign Service personnel will be banned from the event.

This report comes through the Washington Post, which reports that the Bush administration has prohibited state department employees in Germany from attending Obama's speech. The State department claims that this is standard protocol, however the American Foreign Service Association is pretty steamed about this ruling Karen DeYoung reports:
the union of the diplomatic corps, objected to the ruling, calling it an "unnecessarily narrow interpretation" of the Foreign Affairs Manual. "The fact that you are working for the U.S. government overseas should not preclude political activity that you could engage in in the United States," one retired senior Foreign Service officer said.

This seems to be like a blatant partisan move by the Bush administration. There is a big difference between political activity that ought to be forbidden because it interferes with foreign officer's jobs(fundraisers, direct political activity) and attending (not endorsing, attending) a major speech by a candidate for President of the United States of America (your prospective employer).

Would Foreign Service Officers be banned from attending a McCain speech?

There will be FRIED FOOD

So, as I announced earlier, this summer I'm interning at Majority Whip James E. Clyburn's office. Why?

Well, check out the this post from the Washington Post blog, which was supposedly about David Plouffe meeting with Congressional Democrats. It's actually about how Democrats, specifically Majority Whip Clyburn, want fried food.

Plouffe and other Democratic representatives also allayed concerns about another rumor flying through Democratic circles: The food at the Democratic National Convention next month in Denver would be all weird and healthy. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) reassured those assembled that House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) had insisted on plenty of fried food -- and that he will get his wish.

Just a quick somewhat unrelated reminder: I blog entirely for myself and not for anyone else, and that everything published on this blog reflects the opinions of me myself and I and no one else. This blog does not represent my current office or any other groups that i may be affiliated with, including the Carleton Democrats.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

YouTube does Minnesota

(H/T Polinaut)

YouTube wants you to be involved in the Minnesota Senate race (Al Franken D. vs. Norm Coleman R.). They have gotten both candidates to agree to answer your questions that you post on YouTube. They will answer the top five questions (by ratings and views) posted in for the candidates, on August 7th. In order to participate you need to post a response to the call for questions which you can view below.

You can watch You Tube Political director Steve Groves (Carleton '00; Convocation Speaker Fall '07) explain the competition here. You can send your questions as a video response to his call for questions.

This is your opportunity to directly engage with these two very high profile candidates.

If you want to post a question right now, simply click here; in order to watch the video on the You Tube Page where you can read comments, post comments, or do most anything else, you can click here. This is a great opportunity to get involved in this very important Senate race. Bonus points if you make a video and wear either a Carleton shirt or CarlDems shirt.

Monday, July 21, 2008

RNC in Minneapolis; Check it out

As many of you probably know the Republican National Committee is meeting in Minneapolis from September 1-4. Appropriately, there are several events going on in reaction to the event.

The protest the RNC 2008 website, seems to be the best site to get information on the protests.

The Carleton Democrats may be organizing events, depending on the number of people who will be around on those dates (obviously school doesn't start until later).

One of the more impressive protests being organized is a truckers protest being planned that would incorporate 100-300 semis.

Also, I plan on attending this concert to be held on September 2nd.

You can read about the concert below, from the Minnesota Independent:

While Styx is performing "Come Sail Away" and other 30-year-old hits at a private party held in conjunction with the GOP convention, activist/musician Michael Franti (Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Spearhead) will be performing songs like "Stay Human" on the lawn of the State Capitol during Ripple Effect, a free, day-long festival on Sept. 2 that includes performers such as punk band Anti-Flag and local band Wookiefoot with special guest Matisyahu. The event comes the day after Steve Earle and Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello will be performing at SEIU’s Labor Day festival on Harriet Island.

Keep reading to stay updated on protest plans, and Carleton events.

Awesome Ventura Video

Fmr. Minnesota Ventura was on Fox and Friends this morning absolutely befuddling Brian Kilmeade. This is enjoyable. Give it a watch.

Jill gets a response.

Jill Rodde, (the other frequent author of this blog) is a great author (as you no doubt noted) and a good friend of mine. This is why I am happy to congratulate her on a feat most of us, writing on the web, can only hope to achieve.

Frequently, we write about policy, opinions, paradigms, news and rarely hope to get a response beyond our own regular readers. Jill managed more than that. David F. Bedey, conservative author and professor at West Point spent the entirety of his monthly column responding to Jill's response to his post from last month.

Quick Recap. David F. Bedey wrote this article about the problems with "liberal" colleges and universities because they have caused students to be unable to realize how silly "hope" is.

Jill responded to the article with this post on Free Exchange on Campus. To paraphrase: She pointed out that there are entire fields that are about challenging established paradigms (contrary to Bedey's claim) and that many of us have had professors (even at Carleton) whose political affiliations are well hidden behind very real apolitical research attitudes.

Then today, Bedey used his monthly column to respond to Jill. How did he do? AWFULLY.

Jill owned him. He spends his entire first non-introductory paragraph attacking the organization that hosted Jill's post. Obviously engaging the issues at hand.

Then, he continues to argue that Jill didn't do a holistic study of colleges and classes to attack his points. She wrote a 475 word post! Are you serious? More to the point small data set studies are used all the time. She mentions Carleton and Carleton anecdotes three of four times in the post. She was obviously providing a compelling counter example to Bedey's broad claim. Carleton is a well-known liberal campus which exhibits characteristics that Bedey would associate with liberal academe and a "failure of higher education." Yet, Jill points out several examples from her own experiences on campus which seem to counter Bedey.

David Bedey, you got owned by Jill Rodde. Join the Club.

P.S. In case he (Bedey) is reading this, this post was not meant to thoroughly argue the points, nor was it an academic paper for the purposes of debate nor thorough reasoning so don't treat it as such...having said that, I think I owned you too.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

McCain's Jokes show a Dark side

John McCain is well known as an angry man.

This campaign season however, it's his jokes that are getting headlines. The media frequently discusses his self deprecating jokes which are apparently "endearing." I find this interesting because most of the jokes that I have heard from him are downright mean.

I think we can all agree that there are certain jokes which can be deemed off-color, not funny, or not appropriate. Those jokes are in one league. However John McCain's jokes are plain ol' mean.

Which jokes am I discussing? Many.

In 1986, Representative John McCain was accused of telling this joke:
Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, "Where is that marvelous ape?"

Yes, you were correct. John McCain, presumptive Republican candidate for president was accused of telling a joke about a woman enjoying rape by an ape. WHAT!? Let's ignore the fact that like other McCain jokes, it just not funny. IT'S OFFENSIVE. I'm not going to discuss how disgusting joking about rape is. Evidence? Yeah we got that too.

I said that John McCain was accused of saying this. Who was he accused by? Well it was published in the Tucson Citizen. The response of the campaign at the time was that John McCain didn't recall telling the joke. Hmm? The McCain campaign didn't deny that he told the joke, they denied that McCain remembered telling the joke. Who did remember him telling the joke? Bruce Wright, "a former aide to Rep. Morris K. Udall, D-Ariz., ... and Leigh Larson a Nogales lawyer.

At the end of the article, we learn about another joke that McCain told. Again from the Tucson Citizen:
McCain sparked a controversy early in his Senate campaign with another "joke," when he referred to the retirement community of Leisure World as "Seizure World."

Seizure World? Really?

The jokes didn't stop there.

In 1998, John McCain made a joke that began "Why is Chelsea Clinton so Ugly?" For the Record Chelsea Clinton was 18 and entirely out of the media spotlight (as much as a first daughter could be).

Fast forward to this campaign season.

In 2007, John McCain jokes that the solution to problems in Iran is to "Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran."

In 2008, he jokes about beating his wife.

He jokes that maybe American cigarette sales are our method of killing Iranians, all Iranians.

Not only does John McCain have a bad sense of humor. He doesn't seem to understand that rape, seizures, war, killing civilians, lung cancer, and domestic violence are not funny to Americans.

Let me make it clear. It's not that John McCain told these jokes once. No, John McCain has shown a trend of jokes that show a disgusting dark side. The media should be reporting this. Americans wouldn't be laughing.

This Week in Reproductive Justice

Woman charged in unborn baby's death

Police in Florence, Alabama have accused a 30-year-old woman of manslaughter, alleging she cut the umbilical cord of her seven month fetus in utero, causing its death. Comments at Feministing explain why that's a pretty fishy allegation--mostly that it's pretty gosh darn hard to reach inside your uterus with an object sharp enough to sever an umbilical cord, actually find said umbilical cord, and cut it without shredding your insides.

Police, however, say that the evidence is "overwhelming"--apparently, the fact that the fetus was born with a severed umbilical cord is evidence enough--and have not attempted to discover if the woman had, you know, "help". As Jill at Feministing points out, this is just another example of the criminalization of pregnant women who don't spend their entire day sitting at home calculating how much folic acid they've consumed that day.

Ruling Gives South Dakota Doctors a Script to Read

A script, that is, for women seeking abortions. Doctors must tell women seeking abortions that a fetus is "a whole, separate, unique living human being," and that "abortion increases the risk of suicide ideation and suicide," and they are to tell her this no earlier than two hours before the procedure.

Naturally, it really drives me batty when pro-lifers assume that women get abortions because they don't realize that abortions kill their babies.

For the record, as of 2005, 98% of South Dakota counties had no abortion provider, and 78% of South Dakota's women lived in a county with no provider. There are two--count 'em, TWO--abortion providers in the whole state of South Dakota.

It's not like pregnant women are just walking down the street and see an abortion clinic and go, oh hey! An abortion! Cool! The decision requires thought, planning, and lots of emotional turmoil. We should really stop treating women like idiots.

In case you were wondering, Alabama also has pretty restricted access to abortion clinics--there are 13 in the state, and about 93% of counties have none. (Incidentally, Minnesota is actually worse than Alabama, with just 11 providers in 5% of counties.)

So, John McCain, you have eight really awkward seconds to figure out how to assure that women have access to reproductive health services. Ready...go!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

McCain on the Economy

Here's a great video from Move On about John McCain and his understanding of our economy. A quick note. $4.00 Gas is real. Increasing home foreclosures are real. A slowing economy at risk of inflation is VERY REAL. None of this is psychological. Now on with the film.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A different kind of President

One of the neat things about working in a semi-corporate environment is the office gossip. It's especially neat when said environment has some considerable political swing. I get to hear all kinds of stories about political folk and their foibles.

As you may know, the American Federation of Teachers (with whom I'm interning this summer) supported Hillary Clinton in the primary. They've since turned their full support to Obama (we all just got our Obama swag today, in fact!) but, not unlike in the U.S. generally, there's still some ill-will from Clinton people.

And Obama isn't doing much to help. Here's a video of his speech at the AFT convention in Chicago last weekend:

Did you make it through? You get a cookie. I'm about as in love with Obama as a person can be, and I could only watch about two minutes of that speech.

So, teleconferencing isn't always the most efficient. If only Obama could have been there in person. Except--wait!--he was in Chicago, at the hotel at which most of the AFT delegates were staying, at a fundraiser. (Incidentally, Obama also mispronounces one of the executive board members' name.)

My boss mentioned that Obama had made a point of blowing off unions of late. He spouted off a list that I won't attempt to recreate, but there were several.

So, what do we think, Democrats? Unprecedented? Unwise? Is Obama THIS different kind of President? Or just the different kind who bought his kid sister Our Bodies, Ourselves? (That is, the awesome kind.)

In other news, seriously, AFT freaking loves Hillary Clinton:

More Problems in the Airforce

The Washington Post reports that the air force's leadership is spending money designated to fight terrorism, to fight discomfort.

The Air Force's top leadership sought for three years to spend counterterrorism funds on "comfort capsules" to be installed on military planes that ferry senior officers and civilian leaders around the world, with at least four top generals involved in design details such as the color of the capsules' carpet and leather chairs, according to internal e-mails and budget documents.

They would be provided:
"aesthetically pleasing and furnished to reflect the rank of the senior leaders using the capsule," with beds, a couch, a table, a 37-inch flat-screen monitor with stereo speakers, and a full-length mirror.

How much would this cost?

In all, for the past three years the service has asked to divert $16.2 million to the effort from what the military calls the GWOT, or global war on terrorism.
Changing the seat color and pockets alone was estimated in a March 12 internal document to cost at least $68,240.

What are the effects?

the top brass's preoccupation with creating new luxury in wartime has alienated lower-ranking Air Force officers familiar with the effort, as well as congressional staff members and a nonprofit group that calls the program a waste of money.

This is the same group that bungled the Air Force contract for a new tanker.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

John McCain Will Destroy the Assyrians

Jimmy Kimmel does a funny in response to John McCain's invocation of the state of Czechoslovakia (which hasn't existed in 15 years).

Warning: History knowledge will enhance these jokes.

92 Million in the Bank

Barack Obama and the DNC have disclosed their fund raising numbers for the month of June. You may remember John McCain announcing his remarkable fund raising month of June raising 22 million. Well check this out:

WASHINGTON - Democrat Barack Obama raised $52 million last month for his presidential campaign, more than twice as much as Republican rival John McCain in a significant boost to his financial cache for the fall contest

This news destroys two ridiculous media narratives. The first narrative is that Barack Obama is a typical politician and that he will fundraise with big money and that he will abandon his small dollar donors in favor of big ticket fundraisers. Oh yeah? Well guess what. Not only has his total fundraising number increased (this is his second biggest donation month ever, he raised 55 million in February), his average donation amount has decreased from $100 in May to $68 in June.

However, this story also shows the lunacy of McCain claiming to be the underdog (follow the link towards the bottom. Despite the DNC having one of its best fund raising months ever, team Obama (Obama+DNC) still lags 3 million dollars behind team McCain (McCain+RNC). The Republican National Committee accepts donations from lobbyists and PACs unlike the Democratic National Committee. Frankly the RNC can tap big business anytime they need. John McCain is an underdog? What a joke.

Jib Jab (as seen all over TV)

The Jib Jab video from 2004 was well known only because of word of mouth promotion. Now it goes straight to MSNBC. In case you haven't seen it (it's pretty good).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Obama "The Terrorist" on New Yorker Cover pt. 2

I realize that there's another entire post about the New Yorker Cover not to mention nearly 2,000 News Articles. But there was one article that I think offers a great view. Today's guest article by Timothy Egan discusses how Obama and the New Yorker play far from the ubereducation wine a cheese crowd rumoured to be Obama's base. You can read the article here.

This pretty much encapsulates the points:

The furor over this week’s New Yorker cover — the satirical cartoon of Barack and Michelle Obama in Muslim and black-militant poses — boils down to this: We get it, but what will those folks in fly-over country think?

The answer is that they get it as well. Irony, it turns out, does cross the Hudson River. And if they don’t get it, if they see the cover as affirmation of the sludge they’ve heard on talk radio or certain cable outlets, they’re never going to vote for Barack Hussein Obama anyway.


“There’s a lot of talk about Obama and guns, and — I’ll be honest with you — a lot of fear,” said Tawney. “But at least he’s not trying to fake it. Not like John Kerry with a dead goose over his shoulder and new hunting outfit one month before the election.”

The biggest misperception of people in Montana, he said, is that everyone is a rube just off the hay truck. That’s not to say there aren’t militia wackos hiding in the hills, trading toxic nonsense about Obama’s secret Muslim past.

But for every nut, there’s a New Yorker reader — and then some.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Nation of Whiners

So, last week, from Florida Senator Phil Gramm complained that America is a nation of whiners. McCain ran away as fast as he could, the usual fare ensued, etc.

This morning in the Express (right next to the Sodoku) was the daily comment board, where readers respond to a question. (You can read the print version in PDF here.) The question was, of course, Are we a nation of whiners? 65% said yes.

The two comments posted from Yes voters were, paraphrased: we love blaming other people for things, just look at how ligitious we are; and the kids who get everything love to whine about the one thing they don't have.

What these commenters fail to recognize is that the people who are doing the most "whining" about the economy are the people who can't afford a lawyer and who are "complaining" about not just the one thing they don't get, but the many, vital, things they don't get, like health care, transportation, and food.

People who think this way demonstrate a pretty deep privilege. Look, after all, at all the people saying the severe downturn in our economy is "no big deal". How many of them are choosing between gas and prescription medication?

Let's not pretend everyone's just having a rough day. The economic concerns of this country--especially for the middle and working classes--are deep and worrisome. Let's not pretend otherwise.

Monday, July 14, 2008

McCain Surrogate Speachless on Economy

Remember how I talked about McCain's surrogate problems last week?

Well here's a clip of a top McCain surrogate, Mark Sanford, Governor of South Carolina, at a complete loss when asked how McCain's economic strategy is any different from the Bush/Economic plan.

McCain/Bush '08? or was that just Mark Sanford's last TV appearance?

Obama "The Terrorist" on New Yorker Cover

The New Yorker, the magazine best known for its sometimes inscrutable cartoons has published a cartoon that has taken on Danish proportions in the Media. The cartoon is intended to be a satire of all the false accusations against Barack and Michelle Obama. If you haven't seen it click here.

Here's the funny part.

All the commentators have said that the problem with the cover (which you will notice I am not posting here), is that while New Yorkerer readers probably understand it is satire, the rest of the public won't. Translation. That cover, which you ostensibly published for your 1.1 million (liberal, east coast, well-off) readers and other people from that demographic, won't be understood by the millions of people who watch television or see the Newspapers that will reprint this cover tomorrow. HUH!?

This is ridiculous. Do we really live in an age when publications above a circulation of 10,000 need to think about how their writing or pictures will play in DC, or Iowa, or Pakistan? Where does responsibility lay in this case? Should the New Yorker have to think about how their cover will play to their reading audience (like they do for every article or cartoon they write)? Or should the greater media be more conscience about distributing the image beyond where you would find it anyway (a New Yorker cover).

I guess those are the questions we have to face on a slow news day in the 21st Century.

More on T. Boone

The Chicago Tribune has more on T. Boone's plan. It's one of the better article's I've read. Find it here:

In a visit to the Tribune editorial board last week, Pickens used an easel and a green marker to draw a picture of a country in crisis—and in denial. Net oil imports needed to meet daily demand have nearly doubled in the past 35 years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, to nearly 60 percent from 35 percent. That's $700 billion a year draining out of the country.

"This is very close to war for this country," said Pickens.

He proposes replacing the 22 percent of electricity the nation gets from natural gas with wind energy. That would free up that natural gas to become an alternative fuel for cars. He says cars running on natural gas could cover 38 percent of U.S. transportation needs.

Pickens is on to something here.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Obama Does Nascar

Nothing more needs to be said, just read this from Sports Illustrated: has learned that for the first time in history, a major presidential candidate may sponsor a race car in NASCAR's premier series. According to sources, Barack Obama's campaign is in talks to become the primary sponsor of BAM Racing's No. 49 Sprint Cup car for the Pocono race on August 3. Details of the agreement are expected to be worked out over the coming days.

A BAM spokesperson has revealed the team will hold a press conference July 23 in Miami to reveal the partnership, currently a proposed one-race deal with an option to continue. Obama will be at the briefing, which will be tied to the "Get Out The Vote" campaign message he spread throughout the 2008 primary season.

Use your imagination.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Barack Obama: Steady as a Rock

I like Daily Kos. I read it everyday and I usually agree with a lot of what's posted (even when I don't agree, I find the posts interesting).

And yet, there's a reason I don't write for Daily Kos. The reason is primarily that I don't agree with some of their writers hard left ideology, an ideology that seems to be adhered to by the most of the Kos community.

Like most Americans, I am a middle of the road pragmatic. Yes, I am proudly a liberal. Yes, I vote reliably Democratic. Yet, I also try to maintain a civil discourse, and realize that not everyone does or necessarily should have the same point of view as me. Also, there are various extreme points of view that simply aren't practical. For example, I disagree with all moves to impeach President Bush because of the many reasons laid out by Nick in a previous post and because it could end up with the Presidency of Richard Cheney (I think we can all agree a terrifying prospect).

The hard left has been attacking Barack for "moving to the center." They say in Arianna Huffington's words that he has been "tacking to the center...pandering". They claim he has betrayed their vote, their trust. They are especially incensed about Barack Obama's vote for the FISA bill, which controversially provided partial retroactive immunity.

This implies that he started out on the left, and sold himself as being on the left. Let's look at the facts. Barack Obama first came on the national scene with a speech in front of the Democratic National Convention. A speech in which he said:
The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an "awesome God" in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
The entire speech was about bringing the country together and standing for a safe, prosperous America. It was about an America where we take care of each other and where we hope for a better future.

Barack Obama's entire campaign has been about bringing the country together. In the words of New York Times Columnist Gail Collins "Exactly where did everybody think this gathering was going to take place? Left field?"

She made several great points in today article about Obama (read it here). Some of those points are worth repeating:
When an extremely intelligent politician tells you over and over and over that he is tired of the take-no-prisoners politics of the last several decades, that he is going to get things done and build a “new consensus,” he is trying to explain that he is all about compromise.

Obama himself has addressed this issue several times, in Atlanta he said:
“Look, let me talk about the broader issue, this whole notion that I am shifting to the center,” he told a crowd gathered at a town hall-style meeting in this Atlanta suburb. “The people who say this apparently haven’t been listening to me.”
The blogging left claims that Obama voted for FISA because that was the politically expedient thing to do. How? Any campaign strategist would have told him to either skip the vote (like John McCain) or to vote against cloture in order to satisfy his base. Instead, he voted his conscience, he voted for what he saw as a necessary security bill and he voted for what he saw as a compromise. I disagree with the vote. I will not attack him, his character, his campaign, or threaten not to vote for him because of it. Barack Obama is looking to bring America together, not be the "blogger" President.

Straight Talk Express Derailed

The McCain Campaign is very much off-message and having problems coordinating its top surrogates and the campaign.

All week, McCain has been talking about the economy and has been trying to get past his incompetence on the issue (see here, here, and here). His genius economic plans includes both cutting taxes and balancing the budget. You read that right, he plans on both cutting revenue and cutting expenditures. How?
“The McCain administration would reserve all savings from victory in the Iraq and Afghanistan operations in the fight against Islamic extremists for reducing the deficit. Since all their costs were financed with deficit spending, all their savings must go to deficit reduction.”
Of course! The victories in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wait, hasn't most of that money already been spent? And we're guaranteed victory in time to balance the budget? Right...

Well, either way, John McCain is in Michigan continuing his economy tour. Meanwhile his economic advisor, Sen. Phil Gramm (McCain's economic brain) spoke to the Washington Times and said
"We have sort of become a nation of whiners," he said. "You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline" despite a major export boom that is the primary reason that growth continues in the economy, he said.
He also said,
"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession,"
While we're on the subject of Phil Gramm, John McCain is showing bad judgment by associating with him. This is the Senator who wrote the Enron loophole, and the now UBS executive failed as an executive. Why would any Presidential candidate step within 10 miles of this man?

The other instance of bad coordination has to do with health care (another fairly important topic). From Dana Milbank's blog/column
Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief who is now the Republican National Committee’s “Victory Chairman,” was discussing consumer-driven health insurance at a breakfast with reporters when she proposed “a real, live example which I’ve been hearing a lot about from women: There are many health insurance plans that will cover Viagra but won’t cover birth-control medication. Those women would like a choice.”
This seems like a fairly basic talking point, but clearly McCain's staff did not brief him on the talking point. The campaign was not coordinating with the RNC's "Victory Chairman" or vice-versa. As I write this, Nancy Pfotenhauer, McCain's Senior Policy Advisor and Spokesperson is on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer endorsing Fiorina's point. But when McCain was asked about this, here was his response:

REPORTER: Insurance companies cover Viagra but not birth control.

MCCAIN: I certainly don't want to discuss that issue.

REPORTER: It was unfair that health insurance companies cover Viagra but not birth control. Do you have an opinion on that?

[awkward 8 second pause]

MCCAIN: I don't know enough about it to give you an informed answer.

You can also read about it here.

It's hard to be "on message" about things you don't know.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Micro-Cosm of Bad Media; Books to read before you die?

I frequently critique main stream media, unconventional media (blogs), and right wing attack dogs (FOX). The problem is that the media business is built around selling stories. How do they sell stories? By exaggerating. I found a non-consequential example that exemplifies this problem. On AOL you can find the "10 Books to Read before You Die". Sounds good enough, but then you look through the list and realize that it has many books that aren't often considered books that belong in the category of books most prominently both popular Dan Brown books, Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code. I've read both of these books and they are certainly good. They are NOT within the top ten books that anyone should read before the die...maybe the top twenty.Probably not. Also, on the list is Ayn Rand's conservative manifesto, Atlas Shrugged. While I have not read the book, I have never seen it recommended as a top ten literature book.

How was this list compiled? Who decided that these ten books are the top ten books you should read before you die? one.

There was a poll of "2,413 U.S. adults" which asked them "to name their favorite books." And thus, AOL decided that Americans top 10 favorite books equals the top 10 books that YOU should read. This would be better titled "Top 10 books you are statistically likely to have read and maybe liked." Dumb.

John McCain is kind of not a nice guy

John McCain has a plan to deal with the mounting tensions with Iran.

AP did a fun analysis of how trade continues between the U.S. and Iran even though we kind of technically aren't supposed to let them have stuff anymore. Apparently, we send them tons of bull semen. And cigarettes.

"Maybe that's a way of killing 'em," McCain said to reporters during a campaign stop in Pittsburgh.

Stellar strategy.

Jesse Ventura for Senate? And Franken's New Ad.

This is a tough issue. Franken is right that there are too many Congressmen and women who leave Congress to lobby. Some even leave early. However, it's a shame that some of our most civic-minded and hard working citizens (good ex-congresspeople) would be prohibited from advocating for their causes because so many bad congressmen have sold out their souls for big business and more precisely big oil. This is tough issue, but Al Franken has the best solution for America. Certainly better than Norm Coleman, who is currently part of a sweetheart deal with his campaign consultant who is providing him a room on the cheap.

In other Senate news, looks like Jesse Ventura might enter the Senate campaign. He was quoted as saying that he's considering running because he's angry about Coleman's support for the War in Iraq he said:
"That's the reason I run, not to sell books. I run because it angers me," Ventura says.

Note the tense.

He currently denies it, but I wouldn't put it past him. A quote that his advisers (does Jesse Ventura have advisers?) probably have posted around the office:
University of Minnesota professor Larry Jacobs says that he thinks Ventura could win a three-way Senate race based on recent polls showing that the former governor already has the support of a quarter of poll respondents.

That's higher than the support he had at this point in 1998, when he went on to win election as governor.

I could see a coalition of disgruntled DFLers (Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer and Mike Ciresi supporters), disgruntled GOPers (don't like the current party and are mad about Coleman's lack of spine) and Independents/third party supporters coming together around Ventura. He did it in 1998, it could happen again.

I think that if Ventura ran it would take much more away from Norm Coleman than from Al Franken. Ventura could help Al Franken in his fight to the Senate. Interesting polling data (interesting but nearly irrelevant).