Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tom Vilsack Officially Announces Presidential Run

Tom Vilsack has made it official: he's running; here's the story from Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times:
Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa formally opened his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday, billing himself as the not-from-Washington candidate who would strive to renew a forgotten sense of community across America and offer common-sense judgment in foreign policy.

Mr. Vilsack, who is stepping down in January after two terms as governor, was the first Democrat to declare his presidential intentions officially. He staged a rally in his adopted hometown, Mount Pleasant, Iowa, before setting off on a five-day tour to the early primary states of New Hampshire and South Carolina, as well as his native Pennsylvania.

“I have always been an underdog and a long shot,” Mr. Vilsack said, addressing one of the biggest challenges he faces in a fiercely competitive 2008 campaign. “I’ve always been inspired by the stories of ordinary citizens who worked hard, overcame adversity and succeeded.”

It begins. A presidential campaign to chart a new course for the nation and bring a close to the radical right wing agenda of today's Republicans won't be finished at least until the next presidential election. Vilsack is clearly a moderate; the only caution I would urge is not to emphasize too much the idea of not being from Washington. That was Jimmy Carter's main theme in 1976 and although he won, his lack of knowledge about Washington did not serve him well.

Vilsack, like possible presidential candidate Bill Richardson, has the advantage of being a governor and therefore the image of a seasoned executive. Though Bush had the same initial image of being a governor and an executive, voters will be more discerning this time and Vilsack will come across as a capable candidate. As of now, Vilsack inherits the advantage that Mark Warner would have had by running as a former governor but Warner has definitely dropped out to pursue a different course.

Tom Vilsack, however, lacks some of the foreign policy experience some of the other likely candidates have but he's off to a good start by simply talking about common sense—something that has been lacking from our foreign policy for the last six years.

Let's hope the Democrats get someone who can win the presidency this time. I think we'll have a good line-up of candidates, including Tom Vilsack.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

It's Sad When They Get What They Wish For

Bush and his advisers were hoping a trip to Jordan would distract media attention from the Baker report due out from the Iraq Study Group. They got their wish but not in the way they intended. Here's the story from Dan Froomkin of White House Briefing:
Mike Allen writes for Time that White House aides are delighted that the U.S. television networks are sending their news anchors to Amman, "ensuring massive coverage of an event that the White House has said is unlikely to produce any major announcement or development."

Why? Because the White House is simply happy to have Bush in the spotlight -- rather than James Baker, whose bipartisan Iraq Study Group has been garnering so much attention in Washington these past weeks.

The Maliki no-show debacle on Wednesday unfortunately did nothing more than highlight a presidency in disarray. I would laugh but the Bush presidency has become the bitterest of tragedies. And the price for this theater is steep. The senior Bush is King Lear. And junior is the reckless and ambitious Edmund. I prefer watching Shakespeare, though, rather than the Bush tragedy that has become so laced with farce.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

If He Runs, Wesley Clark Promises to Enter Presidential Race Earlier This Time

When Wesley Clark ran for president in 2004, he joined the marathon late in the race. For a man with almost no political experience, he did well at times but it was a steep learning curve and there were times when Clark's inexperience showed. But no one questioned his basic ability and experience.

MSNBC carries an AP story that suggests Wesley Clark may soon decide if he entering the 2008 race:
Wesley Clark said Tuesday he wants to avoid waiting too late to make a decision on whether to run for president - a mistake he made in his failed 2004 bid.

"I think it was clear that I got in too late last time," the retired general and former NATO commander told The Associated Press in an interview.


Clark is considering running again, but he said the late start was one of the mistakes he learned from in his last attempt.


"I think that it's more clear than ever before that the country is an era of profound national security challenges," Clark said.

Clark said Iraq will be a focus of the 2008 campaign. He disagreed with suggestions by some members of Congress that more U.S. troops should be sent to help stabilize Iraq. Neither would he begin reducing U.S. forces in Iraq within the next six months, as others have suggested.

"It's not a matter of fiddling with troop levels," Clark said. "It's a matter of politics inside Iraq and diplomacy in the region. ...

For Democrats, 2003 was a strange pre-season for the 2004 campaign. The presumed front-runner, John Kerry was slowed down by surgery early in 2003 and was slow finding his campaign voice. There was uncertainty about the strength of other candidates and Wesley Clark sounded very sharp and informed on TV, particularly when discussing the war in Iraq. Wesley Clark was urged to run while there was still time to be a factor.

I don't know how much of a chance the former general has of winning the nomination but I hope he enters the race. The American people need to hear well-informed voices and he would keep the other candidates on their toes whenever the subject of foreign policy is raised. These are critical times and it's important for the Democrats to raise the level of discussion even if Republicans continue to insist on irrelevant sideshows. Americans know we have major problems and that Bush and his fellow Republicans have made a mess, and not just in Iraq. Let's hope Wesley Clark has learned much in the last three years.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Would Hillary Clinton Do Better Than John Kerry in 2008?

It's worth remembering that John Kerry got 9 million more votes than Al Gore did in 2000; unfortunately, our failed president had such a good campaign team that he managed in 2004 not only to obscure his poor record, he also managed to get 12 million more votes than he did in the 2000 debacle (though the swiftboating of Kerry by those who didn't serve with him was clearly a factor). So John Kerry, in a sense, did well but not enough to take the presidency. Can Hillary Clinton improve on the numbers and win in states that Kerry lost?

One of the things Clinton has been fighting for years is a smear campaign that started back in 1992; Republican pundits and operatives painted her as a raging leftist but she was never the caricature that Republicans painted. The reality in the last six years is that she has been a very hardworking senator for the state of New York and she leaves no doubt that she is very smart and very capable. But who is Hillary Clinton these days and can she win in 2008?

Dick Polman of the Philadelphia Inquirer looks at the so-called conventional wisdom on Hillary Clinton and then comes up with his own thoughts: the spirit of contrarianism, here are four reasons why Hillary Clinton actually might be well-positioned for an '08 victory:

1. The rap on Clinton, even among her fans, is that she couldn't possibly win a single state beyond the 20 that Kerry captured two years ago. But now the national map has opened up, courtesy of the '06 elections, thereby potentially giving her a wider playing field. Seemingly impregnable red states tilted blue this year: Ohio, Missouri, Virginia, Colorado, Arizona. If those states stay in play two years hence, Clinton would have more ways to build on Kerry's 252 electoral votes and reach the magic 270.

Granted, the '06 results aren't automatically transferable to '08; even though '06 swing voters in red states rebuked President Bush for Iraq and the GOP Congress for its sleaze, this doesn't mean they are poised to go Democratic in a presidential race. But clearly, the GOP "brand" has been somewhat devalued, to the point where more voters might well view Clinton with a more open mind.


... Clinton has demonstrated bipartisanship by partnering on a range of issues with a gamut of Senate Republicans, including Rick Santorum, Sam Brownback, Bill Frist and Lindsey Graham. As Graham himself remarked this month, "She has the power to change minds. Those who stereotype her don't know what they're talking about."

The real question that Hillary Clinton is going to have to settle once and for all is whether she's a true progressive moderate or whether she's Republican-lite as some Democrats claim. It's good that she has notable bipartisan skills with people like Lindsey Graham despite his very conservative tilt, but Rick Santorum, Sam Brownback and Bill Frist? How much does one have to compromise to reach those three?

A related question that Senator Clinton will have to answer is who's interests will she serve? Will she serve the interests of average Americans or the interests of those who will be funding her presidential run? Bill Clinton was a fine president but times have changed in the ten years since the last time a Clinton won a presidential election and we're in a new era with major problems that can't be put off until some future president down the road. We need a president now who will address our problems and the first chance we have to get one is two years from now. Will Hillary be that person? She has a year to show who she really is.

Note: this is part of a series on Democratic contenders for president. Here are recent posts on John Kerry, Tom Daschle, John Edwards, and Tom Vilsack.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Kerry Pays Price for Verbal Gaffe

According to Survey USA, it looks like that verbal gaffe last month caused a negative reaction in Kerry's Massachussets poll rating. Senator Kerry now has a 50% disapproval rating and only a 48% approval rating. Those could be his worst numbers ever. He has his work cut out for him and will have to mend some fences with Massachussets voters, and perhaps national voters as well if he's still serious about running for president.

I like John Kerry but he needs to work on why he gets wonkish or tongue-tied at times.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Is Tom Daschle Running for President?

At one point, there were fourteen potential Democratic candidates for president (Warner and Feingold are not running; Al Gore says he's not running). All along, Tom Daschle has been near the back of the pack but he's a good man. Without a ton of money, it's difficult for anyone to break into the upper tier of candidates for the top job. That's too bad. We sometimes lose good people because there isn't a place for them. Sometimes, I wish we could elect maybe a dozen or so national senators who could act as a bridge from one presidential administration to another and maybe circle the wagons when there's an incompetent like Bush. Daschle might have been a good pick for a job like that.

Here's an article by Scott Waltman from the Aberdeen News about Daschle that came out just before the election:
Two years removed from being ousted as the nation's top Democrat, Tom Daschle still considers politics to be a huge part of his life.

Indeed, the 58-year-old Aberdeen native still considers himself a politician.

"I must say, the interest hasn't dropped off. I follow (politics) closely, sometimes hourly, certainly daily," Daschle said in a telephone interview with the American News.


He's on the boards of the Mayo Clinic, CB Richard Ellis Real Estate and Prime BioSolutions. He also works with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and the Council on Foreign Relations, does public speaking and stumps for Democratic candidates.

Daschle and former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., are wrapping up a series of speeches on politics. Daschle and former Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., debated political policies twice in October.

"It's virtually all fun and no pressure," Daschle said of the debates.

Debating when you don't need to court voters is easier, he said. The consequences aren't as dire as "when your name is on the line."


Daschle is contemplating a run for president. But, he said, he has deferred any serious thought until early next year. He said he's not leaning one way or the other.

Here's another South Dakota newspaper with a different take on Daschle as reported by David Kranz of the Argus Leader:

Former Democrat Gov. Harvey Wollman says he is not looking for a rock star politician to support.

“The person we need has to be very intelligent and have a world view and be experienced. Al Gore was really elected in the first race against Bush and deserves another chance,” Wollman said.

Hillary Clinton is “unelectable” and Obama has some growing to do, Wollman said.
Daschle is in the “too early to commit” stage, too. He remains in the thought process stage of his own presidential candidacy. But as Obama absorbs many of his former valued staffers, the possibility of a Daschle candidacy seems to diminish.

When it comes to Daschle choosing, he also has a dilemma, having worked in the Senate with many of the possible Democratic contenders, including Clinton of New York, Edwards of North Carolina, former Vice President Gore, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, among others.

The guess here is that he would go with Clinton or Obama.

Or run for president. We'll see.

We forget that Daschle was very much in the thick of things four to five years ago. Here's an excerpt from an interview with Michael Isikoff, co-author of Hubris, in the Baltimore Chronicle:

[Michael Isikoff:] There is no easy answer to the question of why we went to war. As we show, Bush really did have this personal and very visceral antipathy to Saddam. It was startling to hear, as our sources related to us, how the president would explode with expletive-ridden tirades when the issue of Saddam came up. I still find pretty eye-popping the scene where the president flips his middle finger just a few inches from Tom Daschle’s face when the subject of Saddam was raised. But that is only part of the story. You have the machinations of the neoconservatives like Wolfowitz and Perle who had been promoting the idea of overthrowing Saddam for years. You had Cheney and Rumsfeld, who wanted to reassert American strategic power. You had the whole post-9/11 emotional mood of the country. ...

And finally, there's this from Matt Bai of The New York Times:
Back in February 2002, some colleagues and I sat down to lunch with Tom Daschle, who was then the Democratic majority leader of the United States Senate. This was in the months just after the fall of the twin towers and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan, when most of America — and at least publicly, most Democrats in Washington — seemed eager to support the president. On this day, however, Daschle, a mild South Dakotan whose idea of being confrontational is to interrupt without saying “excuse me,” seemed to have lost patience with George W. Bush and his entire administration. He talked with very little prompting about the way the president and his political adviser, Karl Rove, refused to compromise on legislation, bullied their own party’s senators and ignored leaders of the opposition. Daschle said he hardly ever spoke to anyone at the White House. I asked him whether he thought this kind of arrogance would eventually come back to hurt Bush’s presidency.

“I’d like to think so,” Daschle said, “but I just don’t know.”

I put the question to him another way: in all his years in politics, I asked, had he ever seen anyone act so imperiously and not eventually lose power as a result? Daschle shook his head. “No,” he said. “I never have.”

I have found myself recalling that exchange many times since, and it was very much on my mind as I stood in the offices of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on election night, watching young aides with markers erase and replace the latest election numbers on a white board, effectively wiping away what remained of Bush’s influence in Washington. The next day, I called Daschle at his law office and reminded him of our conversation. “No doubt about it,” he said. “I think the American people got really tired and fatigued with the arrogance and style of this administration. Someone told me early in my career: ‘If you want to get elected, learn to speak. If you want to stay elected, learn to listen.’ ”

Whether Daschle runs for president or not, I hope he keeps himself useful. This is the kind of guy you want on a special commission or to handle a difficult job for Congress or the White House.

Note: This is part of an ongoing series on potential Democrats running for president. The lastest two posts in the series were on Tom Vilsack and John Edwards.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Keith Olbermann on Bush's Tilted History

In the 1970s and 1980s and 1990s, the overwhelming majority of Americans moved on. But not the right wingers and not, apparently, a realist or two. In the minds of George W. Bush and Henry Kissinger, the saga of Vietnam goes on. These two didn't learn a thing. Kissinger seems to be backing off some of his advice to the younger Bush about Iraq but he too never came to terms with the failure to correctly perceive a country trying to get rid of its occupiers and trying to end a thirty-year civil war.

The history of Vietnam in the last seventy-five years is complicated but not that complicated. The simple view is that the Vietnamese were never thrilled about being a French colony. In World War II, the Japanese took over and the Vietnamese were not thrilled about that. When the Japanese were kicked out, the French returned. Once again, the Vietnamese were not thrilled. When the French left, the Americans showed up on the doorstep and, to put it bluntly, not only failed to appreciate the situation, but chose the losing side of an ongoing civil war. I suppose it's just speculation but if we had never shown up, Vietnam might have gone capitalist twenty years sooner than it did.

Keith Olbermann had an excellent commentary Monday night; here's some excerpts courtesy of Truthout which carries the full transcript:
It is a shame and it is embarrassing to us all when President Bush travels 8,000 miles only to wind up avoiding reality again.


Asked if there were lessons about Iraq to be found in our experience in Vietnam, Mr. Bush said that there were, and he immediately proved he had no clue what they were.

"One lesson is," he said, "that we tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take a while."

"We'll succeed," the president concluded, "unless we quit."


the one over-arching lesson about Iraq that should've been written everywhere he looked in Vietnam went unseen.

"We'll succeed unless we quit"?

Mr. Bush, we did quit in Vietnam!

A decade later than we should have, 58,000 dead later than we should have, but we finally came to our senses.

The stable, burgeoning, vivid country you just saw there, is there because we finally had the good sense to declare victory and get out!

The domino theory was nonsense, sir.

Our departure from Vietnam emboldened no one.

Communism did not spread like a contagion around the world.

And most importantly - as President Reagan's assistant secretary of state, Lawrence Korb, said on this newscast Friday - we were only in a position to win the Cold War because we quit in Vietnam.

We went home. And instead it was the Russians who learned nothing from Vietnam, and who repeated every one of our mistakes when they went into Afghanistan. And alienated their own people, and killed their own children, and bankrupted their own economy and allowed us to win the Cold War.

We awakened so late, but we did awaken.

Somebody needs to give the president some smelling salts and waken him from the bubble he's been sleeping in. Meaningless buzz words this late in the day like 'victory' or 'winning' or 'success' ring hollow in Bush's delusional world. It's become absolutely clear that Bush has no idea whatsoever what it is he's trying to accomplish. It's time to end the fiasco. This is not how you impose democracy on another country. This is not how you engage in foreign policy. This is not how you run an American presidency.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Even Members of Mainstream Media Getting Tired of Mainstream Media

It isn't just bloggers. It turns out some journalists in mainstream media have also been getting tired of the mainstream media and the many failures of conventional wisdom in Washington about how things should be done and talked about. That's certainly true of Keith Olbermann, although he's always been a little of a gadfly (that's a compliment, by the way).

Now The Washington Post is losing two of its reporters who are developing an enterprise on their own, including a website (blog, internet magazine, a combined mag/blog?) and a hitch on TV once every other week. Here's the story from Fishbowl DC:
Huge, huge moves taking place in Washington this morning as two of the Washington Post's top rockstars (and two of the best political reporters in the country, period) -- Jim VandeHei ...and John Harris ... announced this morning that they are leaving the Washington Post to recreate the Capitol Leader and start something much bigger, sources tell FishbowlDC.

It's complicated and things are still being ironed out, but we'll do our best to explain when you click below to read more...

VandeHei and Harris are starting a new multi-platform company (owned by Albritton Communications, which also owns the Capitol Leader) anchored on the Web that just does politics (a sort of one-stop shopping for your political news and coverage online). The decision by both VandeHei and Harris is premised on the belief that the "old media" way of doing things simply doesn't work for political coverage. Their venture seeks to be a new, more conversational, more provocative and more interactive way of delivering political news that is truly down the middle of the political spectrum (i.e. without inherent institutional biases). Their website will place a heavy emphasis on video, interactivity and databases.

The criticism that the mainstream media has of the Internet and blogs is beginning to be pointless in the face of rapid changes. But this also means that blogs and some of our familiar media sites may be under assault in the next few years by the 'professionals,' as they start to move into the neighborhood. And yet, I think a number of bloggers will hang in there just fine, as long as they remember their 'roots.'

As for Cold Flute, I don't see it becoming a big blog. It came out of Donkey Path which is doing just fine and growing, so that seems to offer the freedom to wander off a bit. Sometimes that's a good thing. Lately, I've been feeling an itch to stretch my legs, to get outside the political box a bit and talk a little more about literature again and the world at large. I'll still talk about the 2008 Democratic presidential candidates though. That's important to me. But let's just take one day at a time.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

John Edwards on Book Tour

Former Senator John Edwards is still thinking about the 2008 presidential race and is currently on a book tour touting his book on the idea and value of home. ABC News has a story and several excerpts from the book:
"Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives" compiles 60 Americans' thoughts on the place in their lives that that has meant most to them.

Some of the contributors are well-known, like actor Danny Glover and football star Joe Montana. Others may not be household names but are notable for their work, like social worker Robert Carr.


From the Introduction of Home:

Home. The place that helps to define how we see ourselves and how we choose to make our way in the world — the blueprint of our lives.

Where we learn to dream. Where we become who we are. And where we can always return. The A-frames and split-levels and mansions and ranches and apartments in this book are as different as the people who have lived in them. But this isn't a book about houses; it's a book about homes. About the values they rest on, the dreams they are filled with, and the people they have shaped.

The houses and circumstances are different, but much of what you find inside will be familiar. Much of what you find will be what you already know — that America at its best is a place of amazing opportunity, deep values, and unlimited optimism. That, given half a chance, we are a people who can accomplish anything. And that no matter where we come from or what we have done, our values are common and our dreams are shared.

There's three more pages of excerpts. I particularly liked the excerpt from Danny Glover's contribution where he talks about hunkering down by the heater. When I was a kid, I was always cold when I woke up so I was first to get the heater going in the winter and would stay there until the heat soaked into my bones.

At a book reading in Maryland, John Edwards had a few things to say:
Stopping in Maryland to promote his new book, Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards came bearing a warning for his newly empowered Democratic colleagues: don't pop the champagne corks yet.

"What really happened was people said, 'look at what's happened the last six years, America's better than this both at home and abroad...and we may as well give the other guys a chance,'" he said, cautioning Democrats not to let their sweeping victories in both the House and Senate allow them to grow complacent and corrupt. "The question is now, will we step to the plate and meet our responsibilities?"


...questions quickly turned to politics and whether the former North Carolina senator plans to run for president.

Edwards, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate in 2004, said he "might very well" run and coyly told the audience to check his Web site in the coming weeks for "something new and interesting."

Standing on a makeshift stage at a suburban bookstore, Edwards decried what he described as the pervasive "toxicity" and lack of candor in American politics.

(snip) that Democrats are finally in power, he said the stakes are too high to behave irresponsibly.

... "If our leaders or our party allow power to corrupt us, it won't be just the Democratic Party that pays the price, it's America and the world that will pay the price."

I have promised myself to listen to what all the other candidates have to offer but I have to say that John Edwards seems to get it. I get the strong feeling he's paying close attention, perhaps more so than any other potential candidate (too bad Russ Feingold and Al Gore aren't running). The media is making a mistake by overlooking him, though he almost always is mentioned as a third or fourth choice in a crowded field. It's important to find a candidate that can convey optimism but it's also important to find someone who knows what he's talking about and knows we're entering an era where we can't kid ourselves anymore. He's still very much worth watching. I suspect a lot of people who have met him in the last three years would agree.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Leader of the Free World Isn't Leading

The most right wing president since the 1920s cannot expected to lead. Even when he talks about being the leader of the free world. Too often, George W. Bush has been President Walking Backward. It's time for President Bush to change.

Steve Soto of The Left Coaster has the latest example of the last national leader in the industrialized world to cling to the past (there's also several good links):
Bush is now the last holdout in opposition to an international Kyoto-type carbon trading system: Australia now wants to deal with global warming, isolating the United States the only industrialized country in the world that has fought this. With Barbara Boxer about to push aside the neanderthalic James Inhofe as chair of the Senate Committee on the Environment (Baucus and Lieberman will already have other committee chairmanships), the bipartisan calls by John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Dianne Feinstein for such a carbon trading system here at home just got one step closer to reality.

The GOP has softened its reluctance to deal with global warming over the last two years, and the multi-billion dollar slab of energy industry corporate welfare that was the 2005 energy bill will soon be re-opened and significantly changed by a Democratic congress. The only question is whether or not veto-proof majorities can be cobbled together in each house to force Bush's hand on the issue.

In 2008, we need a president who isn't just trying to beef up the family firm. We need a president who actually cares about the future. We'll soon know whether Bush is interested in salvaging his presidency or whether his stubbornness and pride will be put ahead of the national interest. And we'll see if Republicans in Congress can help the president start paying attention to the American people instead of GOP campaign contributors.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Environment: Running Out of Shortcuts

Terrell of Alone on the Limb has pictures of the way the world is supposed to look in the fall here and here. When people talk about protecting the environment, this is what they're talking about. Also Tom of If I Ran the the Zoo has different pictures from the other side of the country (in the Sierras) here. Whether the world is outside our back door or three hours away or up in a National Park, there is a priceless heritage we need to do a better job of protecting. Protecting our children's future and the world they and their children will be living in is high on that list.

As the population of the world grows, as new countries join the industrialized world, we are running out of environmental shortcuts that allow certain businesses to save a buck. The reality is that if you value something, it will create jobs; doing a better job of protecting the environment and creating technology that will help in that work, will create jobs.

A fact has been apparent for some years all the across the world: from now on, every shortcut, every delay in dealing with environmental problems, exacts a price. The more shortcuts, the bigger the price tag down the road. We're seeing the cost in our water, in our soil, in the falling populations of fish in the sea, and in the air. If you live somewhere that doesn't look polluted, the pollution is above you in the greenhouse zone where large amounts of greenhouse gases are gathering. It's no longer a matter of how much time we have but when we begin doing what we already need to do.

With Bush's veto, getting much more serious about cleaning up the environment may not get much of a start in the next two years. But the winds are definitely changing; here's a story from Common Dreams:
Environmentalists in the United States say they hope the removal of global-warming skeptics from powerful positions on Capitol Hill will present a new opportunity to force the Bush administration to tackle climate change.

This week's seizure of both houses of Congress by the Democrats means that two key Republican opponents of action to confront climate change - Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Richard Pombo of California - will lose their positions as the chairmen of Congress's two environmental committees.

Mr Pombo, who lost his bid for re-election, will leave the House altogether. Mr Inhofe, who once said the threat of global warming was, "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people", will probably be replaced by the California Democrat Barbara Boxer. She has promised to curb carbon emissions and strengthen environmental protection legislation.

Even if Senator Boxer is not able to pass much legislation in the next two years over Bush's veto, she can start building consensus on environmental issues; she can provide an important service if she uses her committee to hold hearings that inform Americans about what is happening to the environment and what we can do about it. For the last six years, Republicans have refused to look at the environment. Their attitude has been that if you don't look at the problems, they don't exist. That's exactly the attitude they took in Iraq for more than three years. It's time to find out where we are.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

After the Elections: There's Still Work to Do

It was great that Democrats won Congress in 2006 but to prevent right wing Republicans from roaring back in 2008, Democrats need to win again in 2008 and pick up a few more seats until Republicans decide it's time to rebuild their party with mainstream Republicans. Besides, as things now stand, Democrats are the ones with the ideas. Our country has tried right wing Republicanism and it doesn't work. Katrina, Abramoff and Iraq speak volumes and they are all we need to say on the Bush/DeLay/Hastert style of governing.

Maybe it's worth taking a break from politics for a few weeks. I can see the merit of it. I just wish Karl Rove and his friends saw it that way too. Kiosan of A Voce suggests now is not too early to be thinking about the next one:
In an election year when Democrats nationwide swept into the once sacrosanct offices of Republican incumbents, Georgia Democrats were well and truly spanked. They took no new seats, barely held onto the ones they had, and lost vacancies to the GOP. They're now looking for ways retool the state party, hoping to hit the ground walking in 2008. ...


I have some unsolicited advice.

1) Prove you exist.
Yes, cogito ergo sum, but that doesn't matter much in the world you inhabit. It's all well and good to have a statewide party blog that has seen exactly one update since July of 2006, or a website boasting one update since August 2006, but it's not exactly visible. I take that back - it's not all well and good. It's downright bad, smacking of disinterest and lethargy. Better to have no blog or website at all than one you can't be bothered to update even when you're trying to convert the state. Update your electronic media regularly - and tell people it exists, for pete's sake.

Do the same for your candidates, whom the state party largely left out to dry this year. After I finally figured out what my new congressional district is, I googled for the Democratic challenger, whose name I did not know and had to locate, and eventually found his website. Took me the better part of a day - and, I'm very interested in politics. Your average citizen is not, and will not take the kind of time I did to find someone if they don't show up on the first page of Google after a three-word search.

You don't exist if we can't find you.

She goes on to make several more suggestions. Give her a read and begin thinking about next time whether Democrats won in your district or not. When you're ready, jump in.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Tom Vilsack Running for President

Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa is just finishing his second term and is running for president. He's in the second tier of candidates and has a long uphill battle but he's a serious candidate and is worth watching. Mike Glover of AP has the story in The Washington Post:
Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack says he moved quickly to declare his presidential plans because of the need to raise money and lay the groundwork for his longshot campaign.

Vilsack, a two-term Democratic governor who opted not to seek re-election this year, played down the timing of his announcement, which came just hours after news of the Democrats' midterm election gains.


Iowa's leadoff precinct caucuses could be especially challenging because as a former governor, the expectation will be an easy win. Anything less could badly damage his prospects.

Vilsack said he's ready.

"We have to begin the process of encouraging Iowa Democrats to look at this campaign as a viable campaign," said Vilsack.

Apparently, Vilsack has plenty of friends in Iowa and his chances may not be that far outside. Here's a story in The Hawkeye of Burlington, Iowa:
Area residents weren't especially surprised to learn of Gov. Tom Vilsack's decision to seek the presidency, with some saying he would make an excellent commander–in–chief.

Vilsack made an official announcement Thursday after fellow Democrats overwhelmingly won offices at the state and federal levels in Tuesday's general election.


"I think it's fantastic," said Dave Helman, chairman of the Henry County Democratic Party. "I have great admiration for the Vilsacks. How many people would do this? How many people would take on this tremendous challenge?"

Helman said Vilsack's decision didn't surprise him because he knew the governor was considering it for a while. Helman said Vilsack would be an excellent president.

It's hard to say how far Vilsack will go. If he wins Iowa, he may simply be considered a 'favorite son' and that may or may not carry over into other primaries.

I wish Vilsack well but I'll be covering other candidates from time to time now that midterm elections are over and Americans are wondering who can lead us out of the debacle that is the Bush presidency.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

More Perspective on Tuesday's Elections

Winning a small majority in the House of two or three votes might have been enough to check George W. Bush. Winning a significant majority in the House is big news. Adding a few Democrats to the Senate despite a Republican majority would have been helpful. But Democrats have gained a marginal majority with the help of two independents. This is a big deal. George W. Bush must now come to terms with his failures and change course. This will take work on the part of Congress and on the part of the American people. I guarantee progressive bloggers will be watching things closely and others will be doing so as well.

William Rivers Pitt of Truthout has a post on the election. He expresses his relief but makes clear there is still much work to do:
Let us be absolutely clear on what has taken place. This was not simply a midterm election, not just a historic running of the table, not just a scathing repudiation of virtually everything the Bush administration has stood for since they swaggered into Washington six long years ago.

It was so very much more than this.

The back of the "Neo-conservative Revolution" has been broken, perhaps not for all time - simply because nothing truly evil ever really dies - but for a good long while. The ideology foisted upon an unwilling public by the likes of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Ledeen and the rest, the ideology that has given us slaughter in Iraq and a ravaged reputation abroad, has been exposed and eviscerated. The Project for the New American Century, and all that was spawned from it, has been relegated, for now, to the dustbin of history.


These cancers have not been cut out simply because of an election, of course. But the first, vital step towards repairing our shared heritage was taken on Tuesday night, simply because we have at long last returned to the basic Constitutional requirement of checks and balances within this government. No longer will the best interests of the people be slapped aside by people who have no patience for the process that was laid out by wiser and better men. Some logs have been thrown in the road, and for now, a real chance for healing has been gifted to us by the very democratic institutions these people would shun and shatter. The power of the vote, so often maligned and disdained, has been restored.


"U.S. envoy tells Iraqis election won't change policy," reads the Associated Press headline from Wednesday. That, in and of itself, says all we need to know about what remains to be done. For the first time in far too long, however, an opportunity has arrived to do more than scream into the thunderstorm and damn the rain.

The real work begins now.

It's going to take more than one election to repair the damage that Bush and his fellow ideologues have done. And it's going to take time for Americans to realize just how bankrupt the right wing ideology is that Republicans allowed to dominate their party. They shunned the middle and shunned much that has always made America strong. In the next few months, a lot of vigilance will be needed to make sure the will of the people is not undermined. Americans called for a change, they called for a new direction in Iraq (meaning that we start withdrawing as soon as it's doable); and they called for the corruption in Washington to be cleaned up. Many of us worked hard because we know there is work to do to keep our nation healthy and strong; we'll be making our case in the months and years to come but at least there is chance again for average Americans to be heard.

John Murtha on Bush's Press Conference

Rep. John Murtha is a stand up fighting Democrat. He was slow to come around on the war in Iraq but when he did—after long talks with the generals—he came out fighting for a new policy. I hope he gets a leadership role in the new Congress. Who can forget how he took on a houseful of Republicans all by himself a year ago. Republicans couldn't fight him on the issue so they tried to smear him. That didn't matter. John Murtha stood his ground and kept knocking down whatever the Republicans said by staying focused on the issue.

Here's what Murtha has to say on The Huffington Post about Bush's press conference the day after the midterm elections:
Yesterday I heard the same old rhetorical garbage in the President's press conference. America remains a nation at war, but the enemy that attacked us on September 11th is not the enemy we are fighting in Iraq. As of Tuesday, the President can no longer mask an Iraqi civil war as part of the real war on terrorism.

This election was a referendum on the President's disastrous course in Iraq, and the American people clearly had ENOUGH.

I don't agree with Murtha on every issue but I like a fighting Democrat. Until Bush admits he's made some serious mistakes, we need to keep leaning on him to do the right thing. Murtha can do that. And he has a great pipeline to the generals so that the Democrats in the House will know what the real story is and won't have to rely on Bush's political spin.

Allen Concedes: Democrats Control Senate

The final results: Republicans, 49 senate seats; Democrats 49 senate seats; independents 2 seats. The two independents say they will caucus with the Democrats. Democrats have clear control in the House and nominal control in the Senate.

Let's hope our nation can get back on track and take on the real problems facing American with a common sense approach.

Here's the story on Senator Allen from the Los Angeles Times:
Virginia Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) conceded today, putting the Senate in Democratic hands for the first time since 2003 and giving the Democrats a sweep of both houses — a seismic shift in the Washington political climate .

Montana Republican Sen. Conrad Burns conceded earlier today in his reelection bid, even though his Democratic challenger, Jon Tester, claimed victory Wednesday.

Coupled with Allen's defeat, those Senate victories give the party a 51-49 Senate majority, counting two independents who are expected to caucus with the Democrats.

In conceding to Democrat Jim Webb, Allen said that he felt a recount would only increase the acrimony that has recently characterized the political landscape.

"I do not wish to cause more rancor for a recount that in my judgment would not alter the results," he said.

Republicans are going to have to do more than just wait for the next election. They're going to have to start shedding their right wing ideas and biases and rebuild their party on new principles, principles that bring unity to America, rather than appealing to the worst instincts of the voters. Leadership should never be based on irrational fears and hates. We have work to do in America and it begins by looking out for one another and thinking beyond our narrowest interests that don't serve any of us well in the long run.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Voters Have Spoken and George W. Bush Will Have to Listen

Wow, I feel like I worked 24 hours yesterday! It was worth it! The Democrats won and maybe our democracy has a new lease on life, if, as Ben Franklin said, we can keep it. Americans from all over the land came together last night to send a messsage to George W. Bush: whoa, just one doggone moment, hang on there, where ya with going with our constitution? The voters have pulled the nation from the brink.

Here's a post from S.W. Anderson of Oh!pinion who summarizes the situation rather well:
Suspension of political disbelief hit a wall Tuesday, and the wall won. The same electorate that so generously bestowed benefit of the doubt on President Bush and the Republicans two years ago called all of it back.

It’s a bit early to tell for sure, but three decades of neoconservative control of the Republican Party and dominance in American politics might be over with.

Why the change in public willingness to believe what Bush and the Republicans told them, in complete disregard of facts and experience?

Simply put, Republican performance and results got so bad, their dishonesty and arrogance became so blatant, that a busy, distracted, none too politically involved public could no longer ignore what was going on. When people tuned in, they saw incompetence, bungling, failure, corruption and that they were being routinely lied to.

S.W. has more to say, so give him a read. I'll have more to say as soon I stop reading and relishing dozens of blogs and articles! I've been working for four years to stop the Bush juggernaut. It's good that the nation finally stopped the nonsense. We're too great a democracy to be forgetting our values.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

One Party Rule Is Dead; Nation Now Debates Future

The debate begins. Democrats have won control of the House. Democrats have 48 Senate seats and are leading in the last three races in Montana, Missouri and Virginia.

It is time for President Bush to listen to the American people.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Time for Bush Republicans to Go

The United States hasn't seen Republicans this dishonest since the 1920s when government officials were running scams on oil and rigging the stock market for their friends. The 1920s were simpler days and have long passed into history. We need people in Washington who will mind the store. Think Progress offers a 109 reasons to reject the 109th Republican Congress; here's a few of them:
1. Congress set a record for the fewest number of days worked — 218 between the House and Senate combined.

2. The Senate voted down a measure that urged the administration to start a phased redeployment of U.S. forces out of Iraq by the end of 2006.

3. Congress failed to raise the minimum wage, leaving it at its lowest inflation-adjusted level since 1955.

4. Congress gave itself a two percent pay raise.


9. Congress fired the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, the lone effective federal watchdog for Iraq spending, effective Oct. 1, 2007.


15. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said Donald Rumsfeld “is the best thing that’s happened to the Pentagon in 25 years.”


33. Both the House and Senate voted to open up our coasts to more oil drilling, “by far the slowest, dirtiest, most expensive way to meet our energy needs.”


36. Only 16 percent of Americans think Congress is doing a good job.


39. Congress raised the debt limit by $800 billion, to $9 trillion. [!!!]


53. Conservatives repeatedly tried to privatize Social Security, a change that would lead to sharp cuts in guaranteed benefits. [Bush hasn't given up this radical idea]


74. Congress refused to swear in oil executives testifying about high prices.


85. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) said “if you earn $40,000 a year and have a family of two children, you don’t pay any taxes,” even though it isn’t true.


101. Congress won’t let the government negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs for people on Medicare.


109. There were just 12 hours of hearings on Abu Ghraib. (There were more than 100 hours of hearings on alleged misuse of the Clinton Christmas card list.)

These are the ones that caught my eye but all the reasons Think Progress gave are good and they give links for each one. I suspect another twenty or thirty could have been added. For example, the Republicans in Congress have shown no interest in any kind of real energy bill or the kind of hearings necessary to find out what's going on. Aren't Republicans even curious about our future? We need change.

I hope the voters come out tomorrow and send a powerful message to Bush that we've had enough of his incompetence and divisiveness. Our children and grandchildren deserve a future.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Just a Question

I have a question: who's running the country while Bush, Condi Rice and Dick Cheney are out on the campaign trail? Even Frist and Hastert are out trying to save Bush's radical agenda. Are there any lights on in Washington? Is anybody working this week?

I know the Republicans have nothing to run on, but I would feel better if I knew someone was minding the store.

But that's what this election about: sending people to Washington who will mind the store. Vote this Tuesday. Send a message to George W. Bush.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Oceans Have Limited Capacity for Life

I've known for a long time that our oceans are in trouble. Forty years ago, it was assumed that when the human population grew a certain size, the 'enormous' resources of the ocean would be the thing that saved us. About ten years ago, I came across a map that showed the density of nutrients in the ocean and surprise, it's in the places where we already have famous fishing grounds. In the middle of the ocean, however, there are large, vast deserts that have life but not as much as we once thought. Part of it has to do with currents and prevailing winds and the life cycles of things like plankton and larger forms of microscopic life.

A study has come out and it's not good news about the fish populations of the world; here's the version I found in the San Jose Mercury News:
All of the world's fishing stocks will collapse before mid-century, devastating food supplies, if overfishing and other human impacts continue at their current pace, according to a global study to be published today by scientists in five countries.

Already, 29 percent of species that are fished -- including bluefin tuna, Atlantic cod, Alaskan king crab and Pacific salmon -- and an array of California fisheries have collapsed and the pace is accelerating, the report says.

If that trend continues, the study predicts that ``100 percent'' of fished species ``will collapse by the year 2048 or around that,'' said marine biologist Boris Worm, who led the research team. A fishery is considered collapsed if catches fall to 10 percent of historic highs.

Without more protection, the world's ocean ecosystems will not be able to rebound from the shrinking populations of so many fish and other sea creatures, the scientists reported in the journal Science.

What does all this mean? It means the carrying capacity of the earth is limited and humans are not helping matters with overfishing and pollution. It means we need to start thinking a little more carefully about the future and where we're going.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Party of Values Continues Downward Spiral

The Republicans call themselves the party of values while feeding at the public trough and ignoring millions of Americans. But Americans are catching on. We'll know by the morning of Nov. 8 how many Americans care enough to force changes in Washington. For the sake of our nation, for the sake of our future, I hope the voters turn their backs on Bush and his Republicans enablers. These aren't the Republicans of old.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has a post on some of the latest examples of Republican behavior problems:
Okay, let me see if I can give a run-down here.

We have Rep. Foley (R-FL) accused of various inappropriate sexual contact with underage congressional pages.

Then we have Rep. Gibbons (R-NV) in an on-going story about allegedly accosting/propositioning a woman other than his wife in a parking garage in Las Vegas. Gibbons is currently running for governor. And there's a separate dimension of this scandal where his cronies are trying to cover up what happened. I guess this explains how things that happen in Vegas stay in Vegas.

Next we've got the older story of Rep. Don Sherwood (R-PA) who allegedly tried to strangle his mistress.

Then just last night we learned that the apparently more traditionally-minded Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY) "got into [a] verbal argument [with his wife] that turned a little physical by her being grabbed by the neck and pushed around the house."

Although not directly implicated, Marshall should have mentioned Dennis Hastert and the Republican leadership which may have deliberately ignored the Foley problem or at the very least specialized in looking the other way. Hastert has ignored other scandals under his nose. Looking the other way will be what Hastert is remember for when he eventually leaves Congress. This is the party of moral values?

Here's another list of Republicans involved in corruption scandals courtesy of TPMMuckraker:
The list isn't exhaustive, and no doubt we'll be adding entries as readers request them. Does some name keep cropping up in these stories and you have no idea why? Let us know, and we'll explain.

The Duke Cunningham Investigation:

Duke Cunningham
Brent Wilkes
Kyle "Dusty" Foggo
Mitchell Wade
Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA)
Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL)
Thomas Kontogiannis
Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA)
Jeffrey Shockey

The Jack Abramoff Investigation:

Jack Abramoff

Inner Circle
Michael Scanlon
Alexander Strategy Group
Tony Rudy
Ed Buckham
Grover Norquist
Ralph Reed

Members of the Administration
David Safavian
J. Steven Griles

Key Lawmakers
Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT)
Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX)
Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH)
Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA)

Other Lawmakers Involved in Abramoff Scandal
Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA)
Rep. Don Young (R-AK)
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)

And we still have no explanation of where all the money went in Iraq for reconstruction. And where is all the money going for Hurricane Katrina? Republicans have spent far less time dealing with Iraq and the issues of the day than feeding at the public trough it appears. If there are still Republicans with integrity in Congress, and I suppose in a sense there are, they've done a very poor job of holding their fellow Republicans accountable and that includes the president.

Between Bush's numerous failures and the neglect of important issues by the Republican-controlled Congress, we need some real change in Washington. Discussing anything else, including Kerry's mangled Bush joke, is a sideshow. Republicans have nothing to run on. That's the bottom line.