Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Clinton's throw in the towel

For a while there, it seemed Bill and Hill were deserately groaping around looking for someone, ANYONE other than Howard Dean. But now that we heard Ex-Clinton Aide Hardold Ickes, Jr backs Dean for DNC we know they have given up on finding their own Tim Roemer.

``I think all the candidates who are running have strong attributes, but Dean has more of the attributes than the others,'' said Ickes, who considered running for chairman himself before dropping out in early January. ``Many people say Howard Dean is a northeastern liberal, he is progressive, but his tenure as governor of Vermont was that of a real moderate.''

Ickes, who heads the political action committee of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton....While Ickes would not comment on the Clintons' preferences, he is a close ally and would not be endorsing Dean against their strong objections."

To be sure, their fear of Dean was different than say, Al From's. The Clintons liked the old chair, not because of his ideology, but because he was their guy. Having a wide-open race for DNC chair meant that they had lost their control over the party to a degree.

It reality though, it could have been a smart vote. Howard was on the cusp of winning for sure, but he was also "a lock" about this time of year for the Nomination too and look out that worked out. Now, in theory, the good doctor "owes" the Clintons for his victory.

The timing of Ickes was impecible, just before the ASDC was about to endorse on Monday, which might or might not of sealed the deal for Howard anyway. This way, the Clintons can at least claim they influenced that outcome.

This is all very bad news for people like Frost or Roemer, who had hoped the Clintons would endorse them in the last minute and save their candiacy from an uncertain (Frost) or certain (Roemer) fate.

All the wannabes like Rosenberg and Fowler must be quite dissipointed too. They will never know if their complex strategies for taking down Dean without attacking Deanism would have worked.

Now the real question is, who will this help in the 2008 primaries? Certainly not Kerry or Bayh or Biden, maybe Boxer, maybe Clark, Clinton if she gets in, I doubt it would help Edwards, and rest of the cast of characters have yet to emmerge.

Friday, January 28, 2005

9 years and counting

The quote of the day:

"Well, I quit drinking in '86"

-- Bush, asked by C-SPAN's Brian Lamb if he sees "ghosts of past Presidents"

George doesn't have a reflective bone in his body, and I think that is what some people like about him. But there is a big drawback to moving ever forward without looking back or admitting mistakes: repeating past mistakes over and over again.

Bush likes loyalty, but what he has gotten in return has been good (Rove) in parts, but mostly horribly incompetant (Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, Gonzales, etc.). To have yet another trite but true saying, "be careful for what you wish for, just might get it."

Remember the days?

The GOP increased the majority they gained in '94 this cycle, but with the retirements in '04, there are even fewer GOPers who remember life in the minority. Only 79 GOPers have served as the minority party. On the Dem side, 88 members served in the majority. Less than 40% of House members have memory of what it's like on the other side -- one wonders if any institutional memory will be utilized in the GOP's aggressive agenda for the 109th Congress.

--From National Journal's House Race Hotline.

This is the major problem with the Democrats in the House, they keep acting like they are in a decade-long nightmere and that sooner or later, they will awake to see they still have an overwhelming majority in the House. Meanwhile, their GOP counterparts have lost their way and forgotten what got them to power: the Contract with America. "To restore accountability to Congress. To end its cycle of scandal and disgrace." Look down the list of their pledges and you will see that the majority of them never came to be and GOPers have actually gone backwards towards accomplishing these goals, which are basically copied from H. Ross Perot.

All of a sudden, the majority isn't interested in term limits or having the rules apply to them, they aren't interested in anything but Tax Cuts for corporations and other forms of Corporate Welfare (see Social Security Privatization).

On one side there is a stench of arrogance, on the other, handwriting and speechifying with no results. Chris Bowers at myDD says that the DCCC targeted 13 races last year, and they were down 13 races PLUS they were bound to lose some in Texas. In other words, they had consigned themselves to defeat. I feel sad for many House Democrats I really do, but many of them have been there for decades and really done all they could to stall progress in order to enhance their careers (see Dingell, John). I have trouble feeling pity for those who win with over 80% of the vote and sit on their hands when others who barely win or lose come begging for help.

We need to clean house on both aisles. If we truely want reform, we will have to through the bums out, all of them (those who are bums that is). I would do this through redistricting reform.

Another interesting development in redistricting is the "compromise" legislation that would give Utah another seat in exchange for letting DC's delegate be a real House member and vote on bills. In theory, it would be a wash for both parties and thus amenable to all. I bet Jim Matheson would run in the new 4th district. The state legislature already has made a map of a 4-district state in case they won that Supreme Court challenge involving the uncounted missioniares and North Carolina. The 4th district would basically be Taylorsville and surrounding areas of Salt Lake County exurbs(like Draper) and involve much of Jim's 2000-2002 district which he did well. This would be a compact district again like his old district and urban versus the incredibly rural-urban mix of the current 2nd district.

I wish I could find a map of the old plan, but I can't here is the bill, but not the map. Oh and the governor signed that too, so this should be a speedy process.

So if Jim does run in the 4th or against Cannon (another favorite option of mine, since the man is an idiot and has never had a real race), who runs in the new 2nd? I doubt Scott Matheson would run again and I can't think of anyone who they could get to run, maybe St. Sen. Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich (sp?) who basically owns the Price-area. Further South than that, and the pickings get really slim for Utah Democrats.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The first firing?

Good news. The biggest incompetent of the War in Iraq, the War on Terror and just about everything else, is "resigning" to be "closer to his family." Maybe this is the way Bush likes to fire idiots who are loyal to him.

Douglas J. Feith, the Pentagon's top policy official who became a lightning rod for issues including intelligence on Iraq and information warfare, said Wednesday that he would resign this summer.

Feith had the Midas touch
, turning everything he got himself involved in, whether it was warplanning, post-war planning, troop training, intelligence gathering to find proof for the war, finding the non-existent Saddam-9/11 connection, into a complete disaster for the President.

Douggie even got entwined in an FBI investigation over DOD being too cozy with Israeli intelligence via IPAC.

The man was a wrecking ball at the DOD policy shop. This is what happens when you put ideologies in positions of power where they should be off writing nasty letters instead. Like Bush, it seems Doug didn't bother himself with "facts" he just went about his business to prove the unprovable to make plan with so many built-in erroneous assumptions that they were bound to fail. He was too busy worrying how many roses the Iraqis would use up to greet American soldiers as liberators to worry about guarding arms depos or the Iraqi Museum or provide enough armor for the troops.

Now I have another reason to look forward to the summer. Good riddance.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

A cry for help

St. Louis mayoral candidate/school board member Bill Haas (D) says in his blog "that loneliness, depression and financial problems have led him to consider suicide." Haas writes that his blog "his 'last day' may come sometime this spring or early summer after he euthanizes his three-legged cat and other pets." Haas: "In a nutshell, I'm 60 years old, still all alone. ... Unless something breaks professionally in the next couple of months, I'm going to be out of money and then I'm going to put the animals to sleep and take my life."

Haas "confirmed" to the Saint Louis Post Dispatch 1/25 "that he posted the blog and has contemplated suicide." Haas: "Being out of money and alone are bad things for me. I'm not going to be on the street and watch my life spiral down." Haas "has moonlighted as a sex columnist" while on the School Board, "ran ads for a rich wife" to help fund his '97 mayoral bid, applied for "American Candidate," ran for the House, the MO Legislature and circuit atty, "and continues to bombard the city's media daily with meandering e-mails." His blog is titled "Run Bill Run." The subtitle: "Bill Haas' journey in the Mayor's Race of St. Louis, but mostly about his life, and possible death."

Haas, who has two Ivy League degrees, is an adjunct instructor at Harris-Stowe State College "and a customer service manager at Wal-Mart" (Wagman, St. Louis Post Dispatch, 1/25).

I don't know if I should be drawing any further attention to him, since clearly that is what he wants. He seems to crave public attention and perhaps even sympathy. I am sorry that his life hasn't panned out the way he hoped but sucicide and in particular killing your pets is NOT the way to go.

Down the line

It looks like the spine transplants were sucessful: every Democrat in the Senate Judicary Committee voted against confirming Alberto "Torture Memo" Gonzales.

While Rice will probabbly sail though, the vote on Gonzales will be much closer. Thank goodness. We want our allies across the world to know that at least 48% of the population don't think it is ok to torture some one in the name of "the war on terrorism" (sorry I hate the name).

I am looking forward to watching the Battle Royale on C-SPAN, but I am a politics nerd.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

IA Docs Say No to Pharma

great news from the Hawkeye statevia Yahoo! News:

"It's just plain ethically wrong and it's designed to color our judgment," Dr. Dean Abramson of Gastroenterologists P.C. said of the practice. "I don't think patients realize how much drug companies spend on this." Accordingly, he and other doctors in Iowa have made a pact to not accept all those free trinkets and lunches from drug companies. In fact he called it "a bribe."

CalPIRG claims that Pharma spends as much as $5 billion annually, whose costs are passed on to consumers.

If you thought the lobbying groups do to politicans is bad, I would have to say Pharma peddling drugs is far worse. All those "free samples" to get people on their product can lead to incedents like those with Vioxx.

This isn't candy folks, these medicines could save your life, give you complications, or even kill you.

Rice v. Gonzales

It seems like Senators will do a bit of speechifying (their favorite thing) on Rice, but I doubt more than 10-20 senators will vote against her, even though she should have been fired, let alone promoted.

However, the real fight seems to be Alberto Gonzales. Even Joe Biden, who whimped out on Condi, will vote no on Gonzales. I urge all my readers to contact their senators to ask them to condem Gonzales as a supporter of Torture. We hear more stories daily about how bad things are in Gitmo, Iraq, and Afghanistan holding cells. All this is a direct result of Gonzales giving his blessing to torture. Gonzales should also be disbared for lying to a judge and prosecutor to get then-Gov. Bush out of jury duty in 1996. Furthermore, he failed to do his duty as council to then-Gov. Bush to look at the clemency cases and properly brief Bush. This man is directly responsible for the miscarriage of justice, the death, and torture of people.

How could any one sleep at night if they voted for him? Count me in as a NO vote.

AARP is back

After being embaressed by backing Bush's Rx drug plans, the group is coming out strong against Social Security Destruction/Privatization. The GOP for its part is quibbling over the term "personal accounts" versus "private accounts." You don't have to spin your plan if it is good at first glance.

Conducted 12/6-23 by Roper Public Affairs; surveyed 1,501 adults 30 or older; margin of error +/- 3% (release, 1/24).

Would You Favor Private Accounts If It Meant ...? Favor Oppose
No withdrawals prior to retirement 33% 56%
Lower Social Security benefit in retirement 27 64
Stock market fluctuations result in decreased money 25 62
Still need to reform Soc/Sec to meet financial needs 24 62
Losers of private accounts will need more help from govt 22 65
Workers pay management fees associated with accounts 21 67
$1T needed to pay benefits of current retirees 18 68
Children will be confronted with two bills: one for
current shortfall another to meet additional shortfall 17 68
New government agency created to administer program 18 70

Keeping Soc/Sec As Is? All 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+
Strongly support 37% 27% 30% 35% 53%
Smwht support 29 35 27 30 26
Smwht oppose 14 16 17 16 8
Strongly oppose 11 16 14 12 5

Not Confident Soc/Sec Will Be There When You Retire?
30-39 40-49 50-59 60+
Not too confident 28% 40% 31% 13%
Not at all confident 44 25 18 9

Agree Strongly/Smwht Strongly Smwht
Private accounts will hurt Social Security 32% 22%
It is not fair to saddle children with additional debt
created by private accounts 58 14
Soc/Sec should be protected as a guaranteed benefit 63 15
Soc/Sec should be strengthened not replaced 66 17
Problems with Social Security can be fixed 68 24
Problems should be fixed sooner rather than later 71 20
We have a responsibility to meet our obligation to
children to make sure that Soc/Sec is there for them 77 15
We have a responsibility to meet obligation to people
currently on Soc/Sec 84 11

Overall View Of Soc/Sec Trust AARP For Accurate Soc/Sec Info?
Very fav 15% 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+
Smwht fav 47 Strongly 19% 27% 35% 32%
Not too fav 23 Smwht trust 57 55 42 46
Not at all fav 12

From release: "Approximately 4 in 10 respondents (43%) initially favored private accounts. However, those who initially favored private accounts dropped off substantially once they were exposed to any of the consequences associated with the implementation of private accounts. Opposition to private accounts increased to as much as 70% depending on the items or 'consequences' presented" (1/24).

courtesy of the National Journal

Smokey Valley

This is what the Utes (or was it Piutes), the native Americans to the Salt Lake Valley, called the area. This is a good description because every winter, high pressure fronts trap clouds and, nowadays our polution, in the valley for weeks at a time.

For the past two weeks, I have not seen the sky or the sun and the weather has stayed about 35 degrees with toxic air. In Park City, a thousand feet or so above Salt Lake, is sunny and in the 40s. So all the Hollywood types up at Sundance are enjoying themselves, blistfully unware.

I had so many books and gear to haul over to the law school today that I rode my bicycle over. Big mistake. I couldn't catch my breath it was so smoggy and disguesting. It has been about 30 minutes and I can still feel it in my chest, and would say I am in decent shape.

According to the local TV news, it yesterday was the most depressing day in Utah, due to the weather. No wonder I have been feeling down these last days; Bush only made it worse.

These days I have gotten myself entwined in another DLC-related comment thread on myDD, which seems determined to churn up the hate toward the organization while making a half hearted effort to inform the bloggers of what the group really does and does not do.

Monday, January 24, 2005

List of the Day :
By Eric Maierson

"Now, see, you can't just go and do something like that. That would be illegal."

"Boy, someone's gonna get fired for that."

"Wasn't that the one who made all the mistakes? Why is she getting promoted?"

"Come on, in real life you'd never get away with something like that."

"They really expect us to believe that?"

"Am I the only one confused here?"

"Does this make any sense to you?"

"Why is this still on?"

Pro Bono

This morning, I went down to the Rocky Mountain Innocence Project to begin volunteering . This place is dedicated to helping truly wrongfully convicted inmates in Nevada, Idaho, and Utah get out of prison. Two of my classmates also had stopped in and it seems like it will be an interesting and worthwhile use of my Monday mornings. For about 2 hours each week, we will read through letters that inmates and their relatives send us, and decide whether their case is worth investigating further.

The center is not in the habbit of defending "innocent" people or ones who write enough letters, but only actually innocent people who we can prove that they are not guilty-- i.e. convicted rapists whose DNA doesn't match the rape kit or the like.

We spent most of the time this morning discussing a case involving a man who was visiting a convience store/gas station at early in the morning out on the Westside of the Valley somewhere. Appearantly one guy saw him, and other guy saw the perpetrator, and the two witnesses agreed that this was the same guy. The victim's head was appearantly stomped to death, yet there was no blood found on the clothing or shoes the inmate claims he was wearing that night (moreover, his shoes don't match the bloody footprints found on the scene, both in size and type).

The timeline via the survielence camera gives the inmate 5 minutes to knock the victim down to ground and beat him to death with his feet (his middle finger of his right hand was broken a week prior to the incident and he was right handed). In letters and interviews he claims was waiting for his girlfriend to pick him up. No blood or trace evidence was found in her car or his car afterwards.

Sounds like he is innocent right? No real evidence other than two witnesses collaporating to describe what they saw early in the morning in the dark 75-232 feet away. But since our inmate wasn't picked up until a few days later, this gives the prosecutor a chance to argue that he threw away the murder clothes. My guess is that a gang of thugs with bats and the like (who were spotted in the area earlier in the evening by residents and by the suspect himself upon reflection) were the ones who did the horrific deed, either by group or group pressure on one.

Personally I don't see how he could have knocked down and then beaten to death a man in five minutes yet have no blood on him when he came back into the store nor be out of breath. Just goes to show you, don't hang out at the gas station in a "bad neighborhood" late at night.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

We are locked in

It is official, I am going to Oslo and Copenhagen and Hamburg for the honeymoon. Now all we have to do is find a way to pay for it. The usual spacy guy who misspells and leaves out crucial words here managed to book hotel rooms, buy a Eurail pass, and a ferry berth for two.

This past week was difficult for me, partially the school work and partially the events going on in the real world. I keep hoping that I will wake up and Bush won't have won, that Condi Rice won't be our new Secretary of State, or that Alberto Gonzales won't be our new Attorney General. At least in Ashcroft we got a guy who was more interested in seeming important than slavishly following the orders from the President. At least in Powell we got a guy trying rather weakly to have his views spread around the world, instead of slavishly parroting the Presidents.

Another interesting Washington Parlor game, who will replace Colin's son, Michael at the FCC? Which White House puppet will it be? How much money will Michael make in the private sector? Even if Colin wanted to run against Hillary or Spitzer in his native Empire State, would he have a ghost of a chance? I think not. After all, he bungled miserably on the international stage. I would say he is a good man but a terrible leader and terribly weak and indecisive. He failed to pursuade the President when it counted. While his people tried to get the press to say going to the UN was his idea, it really was the one requirement of Tony Blair's, not Powell's.

To think he could have been either parties' Nominee when he retired from the Army, to think that he might have beaten Bill Clinton in 1996 for the presidency. Colin Powell will now go down in history as one of the least effective, least influential Secretary of States in our history, especially considering the circumstances. Maybe his tell-all biography will recast his image some, but I expect it to tarnish Bush more than shine Powell.