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On one of my (many, frequent, and inadvisable) study breaks (eep!), I found this video. It's too irresistible to keep to myself. Enjoy!

"On the twelfth day of Christmas, the liberals gave to me:


  • Twelve senators failing

  • 11% Approval

  • Ten Paychecks burning

  • Nineteen thousand freezing

  • No more secret ballots

  • 700 billion in new spending

  • Six troop funding cuts

  • Hillary's Woodstock museum!

  • Four bucks a gallon

  • Al Franken ranting

  • Two liberal Udalls

  • And a tax hike for every family!


"If you thought our singing was bad... just wait until the Democrats get their hands on your paycheck next year" ~Paid for by the Republican National Senatorial Committee. (I'm sure their viewers will be glad this is what they're spending their money on)

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“It’s the economy, stupid.”

This simple phrase was the touchstone of Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign against H.W., who was trying to change the subject. The Clinton Administration presided over a period of booming economic growth, and that—more than his social or foreign policy records—is what he is remembered for.

When it comes down to social values, Democrats aren’t winning anyone over. But a healthy economy is one thing everyone can agree on—and it’s a battle that has been largely overshadowed in the early part of the millennium.

The treasury department announced a voluntary plan among lenders to help alleviate the pain of the sub-prime mortgage crisis by encouraging lenders to not increase interest rates on certain sub-prime loans. The idea is to stabilize the real estate economy to prevent economic growth from being undermined—and in the process, help out a few people who would otherwise lose their homes.

So before the Democrats leap feet-first into judgment, they should remember Clinton’s famous words. The subprime lending proposal should be evaluated strictly in terms of the health of the economy for everybody—and not just the advantage of a very small sectors such as the real estate and lending markets.

Democrats and Republicans alike don't place the economy at the forefront of their campaigns. But if partisan politicians aren't concerning themselves with the issue, the everyday American certainly is. When it comes to winning elections, the promise of a strong economy is an enticing one. The Democrats ought to use this opportunity to refocus attention where it has been severely lacking: the economy, stupid.

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Mike Huckabee on his campaign's recent surge:



I know, right?

Paul Waldman at TAPPED: "Isn't that a tad presumptuous? Or is Huckabee just saying that God is giving him a temporary bump in the polls, only to send his campaign crashing down later, in order to demonstrate to His earthly subjects the danger of hubris and the importance of early fundraising?"

MotherJones says he Huckabee clarified saying he only meant that when people pray things happen-- not that God wants him to be President. That sounds better but why isn't God listening to all the people praying for Fred Thompson? Since presumably a number of Republican candidates have people praying for them and only one can be nominated God has to be listening to some people's prayers and ignoring others. Now I'm sure He must like candidates with theology degrees; but if Huckabee thinks his supporters have the ear of God and the supporters of other candidates don't, he should just say so. All of this sounds so silly but we've seen what messianic thinking can do:



And while we're at it: why does God hate amputees?

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I just discovered this YouTube video, and it really got to me. I found it incredibly touching and thought provoking, and so I decided to share it with all of you. Watch and enjoy, or more to the point, watch and be enraged, saddened, moved, or inspired to action...



(Special thanks to Or Skolnik for finding the video!)

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According to a recent National Intelligence Estimate, Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003—but George Bush isn’t buying it. During today’s press conference with CSPAN, Bush struggled through a convoluted statement regarding Iran. Blanketed within defensive mumbles and rhetoric was the profound concern that “they could restart it.”

The NIE was called for by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who was reacting to the “scary noises” being made about a possible military strike in Iran. Many hoped the report would hush the Administration’s vague suggestions of the strike, which Bush had refused to rule out in October, after Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the possibility. Bush took the case a step further when he claimed that preventing Iran’s weapons program was essential to “avoiding World War III.”

C-SPAN press seemed skeptical of Bush’s aggressive attitude towards Iran. Many of the questions posed drew parallels to the phantom WMDs in Iraq, and at one point a reporter asked the President, “Are you concerned that the United States is losing credibility in the world and now may be seen as the boy who cried wolf?”

Granted, the report warned that Iran could enrich enough Uranium to build a nuclear weapon by 2010. But with a weapons program that has been dormant for four years, does Iran constitute a threat to world peace? Bush still thinks so. The President’s reaction to the NIE echoes a growing concern that the lame-duck President will launch a strike against Iraq before January 2009, leaving the next President with an even bigger mess to clean up.

Iran’s aggression is doubtlessly uncomfortable, and perhaps Bush is right in remaining vigilant and keeping the issue on the table. But the possibility of another strike is even less appealing, current facts considered. I think Wonkette says it best with their headline:

“Bush’s opinion on Iran hasn’t changed, and that’s why 65% of America thinks he’s an idiot.”

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Mike Huckabee is now the front-runner for the Republican nomination in Iowa. If that’s surprising to you, it shouldn’t be—though his numbers in the polls were slow to pick up momentum, there’s something about Mike that might appeal to Republican voters more than Romney’s polished charisma, Giuliani’s middle-of-the-road electability, or McCain’s resume. Huckabee has genuine, down-to-earth personality and an earnestness that just might play to his advantage in less than a month, when Iowa takes the first step towards choosing our presidential nominees.

Huckabee is now leading in Iowa polls by an even greater margin than Obama, supported by 29% of likely caucus-goers. His campaign has been slowly building him up to be a candidate with an almost universal appeal: an ordained Baptist minister, Mike plays bass in a band and is now running campaign ads that boast of Chuck Norris’ support. With his staunch Christian values and his socially conservative bent, Huckabee caters easily to values voters. But this isn’t the be all and end all of his campaign, as he is also an advocate for issues such as health care, federal arts funding, and climate change. With his wide range of issues and his pop-culture endorsements, he is reaching for the support of all conservatives.

And he just might be getting it. With the Iowa caucus just a month away, conservative voters are thinking hard about candidate electability. Only time will tell, but Mike Huckabee might pass the test. Due to the relative lack of attention given to his campaign in the early months of election coverage, he has come out with an untarnished reputation. What’s more, he has a sense of humor that might appeal to younger conservative voters.

Says Huckabee, “I certainly think social issues matter, because they go to the core of our convictions and principles. But I don’t think that’s all there is…People look at a history of effective government. People want somebody who actually has a record of being able to accomplish something — not just talk about it, but do it.”

As of now, It’s hard to tell whether voters are really taking Huckabee seriously. Still, though the cards have yet to be drawn, Democrats might be faced with an unexpected opponent next fall. The question is, how far will Huckabee’s charm take him in wooing the nation’s undecided voters?

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As I woke up today, fresh off of completing a nearly 20 page paper and gearing myself up for working on another lengthy assignment, my mind was directly fixed upon the upcoming horrors of Finals period. With exams barely a week away and assignments piling up, Georgetown students focus tends to be situated directly on their own upcoming problems. During this time we begin to lose sight of what may be going on in the world outside of the Hilltop, and proper perspective is often the first thing to go. That is why as I glanced over the news today while on CNN.com I barely registered the words in front of me. They were part of something outside of myself, something which, for the moment, I could not concern myself with. However, as my eyes meandered over the computer screen, one story stuck out at me, and, at least for the moment, has partially snapped me out of my zombie-like condition. Perhaps it is because I am woefully ignorant (a very real possibility), but this story informed me of something of which I had no idea perviously. And, more imortantly, it has made me step back and think for at least a moment. You see, up until a few minutes ago, I had no idea that today was World AIDS Day.

Now, as I said, perhaps most people are aware of this. Maybe I am simply completely uninformed and ignorant. However, if I am not, if others like me exist, than we all need to take a step back and examine our lives and values. HIV and AIDS has taken 2.1 million lives in 2007, and the numbers appear to be on the rise. Currently, around 33.2 million people have HIV or AIDS. This epidemic is devastating many areas of the world, such as Sub-Saharan Africa and Indonesia. Moreover, AIDS is becoming a growing threat in still more countries, such as Ukraine and China, with China alone at risk of having over 50 million people infected. This cannot stand. We must do more, and we must act now.

The first thing to be done, is to open up our wallets today and donate money to the cause. In America, Ron Paul, certifiably insane presidential candidate who would be perfectly content to allow Chuck Norris and Ric Flair to be our country's lone source of national defense (if they were not already supporting his only-slightly less frightening oppponent Mike Huckabee), is able to raise, in a single day, 4.2 million dollars. Undoubtedly, this sort of money would be put to much better use if it was donated to help slow the spread of AIDS. However, we cannot make a change through money alone. We must also strive to spread the word about AIDS and AIDS prevention, by encouraging testing and increasing awareness.

As I began this post, I was going to do something I seldom, if ever do. I was going to praise George W. Bush, for repeating his call on U.S. lawmakers to double support for AIDS programs to 30 billion over five years. However, after considration, I find myself in the much more comfortable and familiar position of criticizing our great Decider. It is all well and good to make such a statement once a year, on World AIDS Day, however, as president Bush can and must do more. This is an issue, which Bush, and all politicians, must place at the forefront of their agendas, and something which the entire American public must be totally aware of. Surely, if we can commit thousands of troops to Iraq in order to 'liberate the Iraqi people,' then we can make it a priority to do more in the fight against AIDS in order to save millions of lives.

And, if the government does not step up to the plate, and continues to make half-hearted calls for change, we still can do this ourselves. We can raise money, increase awareness, encourage testing, and try to make a difference. And, hopefully by next year more people will know that December 1 is World AIDS Day. I can tell you that at least one more person will.

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It is no secret that Rudy Giuliani is relying heavily on his record as the former mayor of the United States's largest city on the campaign trail: he has cut crime, cut spending, cut red tape, increased economic growth through the magic of supply-side economics, etc. What is shameful is that many of the numbers he has been touting are greatly exaggerated.

Giuliani, for instance, is fond of taking credit for the decrease in crime in New York City under his administration, but statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice indicate that the violent crime rate peaked in 1990 -- and Giuliani was not sworn into office until four years later. In a recent radio ad attempting to prove that the American health care system is superior to government-run "socialized medicine," he compares U.S. and British prostate cancer survival rates (82 and 44 percent, respectively). The source of the data used to create this statistic, however, says that the numbers were misused: the actual five-year survival rate in Britain is much higher (74 percent). Giuliani's claim to have generated a multibillion-dollar surplus by the end of his mayoral career is also false. In the final fiscal year of his administration, government expenditures exceeded revenues, and the surplus was almost entirely used up in balancing the budget.

I suppose, then, that if your accomplishments aren't good enough, you can always make them up.

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I just caught up on my wingnut television for the week. I found it entertaining enough. If you thought the Democrats were getting tough on each other check out this exchange:



While I sort of enjoy watching the Republicans alienate one of the fastest growing demographics in the country its also appalling that Republicans are bragging about not giving children money for tuition. Giuliani's tactic is interesting. Basically he's denying that New York was a sanctuary city and then justifies the City's "three exceptions". But his three exceptions are basically the components of what define a sanctuary city. I suppose that means the Giuliani camp thinks Republican voters oppose things called "sanctuary cities" but don't really know what the term means. And hey, he might be right. I'm sort of confused about the framing, though. My sense is that the term 'sanctuary' was first used by cities and immigrant rights activists. And it seems like it should be a positive frame. Sanctuaries generally connote nice, happy, places right? Like this:




But nearly every use of the term I've seen has been from conservatives. Are we gaming them or is there a better frame? I sort of like "solidarity cities".

While I sort of enjoy watching the Republicans alienate one of the fastest growing demographics in the country its also appalling that Republicans are bragging about not giving children money for tuition. Which brings me to Huckabee who *gasp* supports letting the children of immigrants have the same chance at winning a merit based scholarship as their peers.



If this had been a general election debate I could say Huckabee just school Romney here. They guy is going to win Iowa and that will probably be how Romney falls apart. I'm ambivalent about whether a Huckabee nomination would be a good thing. On the one hand, Huckabee is definitely the best Republican on domestic spending issues. The guy raised taxes so he could increase state spending by 65%- on things like health care, education and roads. The Club for Growth hates him. I mean really really hates him. Which makes me want to love him.

Unfortunately he also likes to tell women what they can do what they're bodies, tell gay people they can't get married, tell straight people they can't get unmarried, and doesn't believe in evolution. But the real reason I'm worried about a Huckabee nomination is that I think he could win. Truly, he has more political talent than any other Republican running for President. He's like Bush in 2000 except he's articulate and a real southerner. Here's more. Try to get past Tancredo's overwhelming awkwardness at the end:



Really though Mike, choosing the death penalty wasn't the only irrevocable decision you made.

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It’s basketball season, which means that our campus is once again bleeding Hoya blue. Excitement ran high after we crushed Michigan 74-52 at our last home game. But while everyone else was screaming the fight song, a friend of mine was having a nationality crisis.

She is the quintessential international Hoya—half French, half Filipino, she was born in Venezuela and raised in Singapore. (And yes, she’s in the SFS). Which explains why she might not know all of the words to our national anthem. And sure, she wasn’t wild about placing her hand over her heart and staring at the American flag, waving high above our heads in the stadium rafters. What America had to do with basketball, she wasn’t sure, though she was willing to play along. But the climax of the anthem inspired in her a profound sense of isolation, as she stood surrounded by her apparently reverent American peers. It prompted a question I stumbled over, whose answer seemed at once obvious and uncomfortable. She asked me why Americans cheer at the words “the land of the free.”

It’s true—every time I’ve heard the Star Spangled Banner, the applause is loudest at our anthem’s natural climax, the word “free” striking the song’s highest note. Nowadays, the anthem is linked to the stadium crowd, to hot-dog-and-popcorn-toting fans clutching extra-large slurpees to their chests as they murmur along with the celebrity vocalist du jour. “The land of the free” is a phrase both sets of fans in the stadium can agree on; it may be the only time during the game that the two sides are cheering for the same reason. Watching my bewildered friend describe our reaction as the “American swagger,” I couldn’t help but think of the political visions for America in 2008. For me, it begs the question, which side of the political spectrum is really fighting for the land of the free?

Americans are divided on more issues than Congress can legislate in a decade. So, too, are they divided on what freedom means for America. Democrats and Republicans alike cheer along with the stadium fans when talking about America as a free nation. But the Land of the Free is a big claim to make—and a liberal opinion of our country is not without its share of censure. Truthfully, many aspects of America are not all that free. Antiquated laws prevent certain marriages on no justifiable basis, and many poor children still receive little or no medical care. And while conservatives are all vying for the best way to defend our country from an elusive enemy, a Democratic administration will be faced with the weighty task of correcting the fractured image of America abroad. A Republican administration, on the other hand, seems to envision freedom from taxes, gun control, and atheists. Many of the issues dividing the parties boil down to various “freedoms from” and “freedoms to”—gay marriage, border control, abortion, the War on Terror, tax reform, the 2nd amendment, and civil rights, to name a few. Though the Republicans are heralded as the patriot’s party, conservative campaign slogans such as Tancredo’s “It’s your culture: fight for it!” seem to fly in the face of any logical understanding of freedom.

As a liberal, I do my fair share of critiquing the current government. But I am proud to be an American, and I am proud to stand with my hand over my heart and sing our national anthem. Yet I am not fully confident when our collective voices reach that highest note. The land of the free is a vision for the future, it is about hope and about progress. A successful Democratic administration must not compromise our freedoms for power’s sake. But just like that old joke, maybe that’s why Francis Scott Key put “freedom” such a high note—because it’s so hard to reach.

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As I’ve obsessively watched the race for the GOP nomination, I have noticed that despite its vicissitudes and seeming volatility, one thing has remained constant: Republican voters have consistently underestimated their best (perhaps only) chance of retaining the White House in 2008.

John McCain is not someone I like, but he’s someone I can respect. It’s not just that he’s a bona fide war hero. It’s not just that he has more governing experience than Romney, Giuliani, and Thompson combined. He’s the only Republican in the race with any semblance of integrity.

McCain didn’t just come out of nowhere or invent an identity to run for president. Look at the rest of the Republican field. Fred Thompson was undistinguished as a US Senator, and seems to have been largely drafted into the race by deceptively optimistic poll numbers; a wealthy lobbyist and Washington insider, he’s now being marketed as the simple man’s pickup-truck-and-gun-show candidate. Giuliani and Romney have been tripping over themselves downplaying and apologizing for their past liberal positions. Despite the extensive repackaging they’ve gone through, the only reason they’re still contenders is because they’ve had the good fortune of being mayor on 9/11 and rich, respectively. Ron Paul is still a joke; and –though he’s run a fine campaign—who the hell is Mike Huckabee?

In the parlance of our times, McCain is legit. Unlike the rest of the field, he’s running as himself, not McCain 2.0 (New and Improved), McCain* (A True Conservative - Since April 2002), or John! (Now With Personality). He may be a warmonger and an idiot, but at least you know his belligerence and stupidity are genuine and not the highly-polished product of a skilled marketing campaign to appeal to the jingoistic and dim-witted Republican electorate.

I’ve heard Republicans say that the very fact that liberals like me can respect John McCain suggests that he is too much of a moderate to be nominated by the modern GOP. But if you look at his opponents, Giuliani is clearly the most socially liberal and Huckabee is much farther to the left on economic issues, while Ron Paul takes that honor in the realm of foreign policy.

Like Barack Obama, McCain has centrist appeal without actually being a centrist on policy. Despite his reputation as a ‘maverick’, for the most part McCain’s independent image is greatly exaggerated. He has taken a lot of very public, seemingly audacious stances, breaking GOP taboos by shunning the religious right, supporting campaign finance reform, opposing Bush on torture, and taking a moderate stance on illegal immigration. Although he ultimately caved to the right on all of these issues except campaign finance, he still gets a lot of the credit for it and to this day is mistakenly referred to as independent by the media.

Republican primary voters have rarely, if ever, had the opportunity to nominate somewhat as conservative as McCain who is simultaneously adored by the media and popular among independent voters.

Thank God they’re too stupid to realize it.

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So you’re probably a relatively normal person, and as a result not nearly as excited as I am about the Republican CNN-YouTube debate on November 28th. But if you didn’t watch the Democratic counterpart in July, they actually asked some fairly original and even challenging questions that you’d never hear come out of Wolf Blitzer’s mouth.

That’s why I strongly encourage everyone with a video camera to submit your own questions for the Republican candidates by the November 25 deadline. This is your chance to call out Romney, bewilder Mike Huckabee, embarrass Rudy Giuliani, make Anderson Cooper blush, or simply make life awkward for everyone involved. Just imagine the possibilities. Are you imagining? Ok, fine, I’ll imagine for you:

This is for all the candidates who oppose embryonic stem cell research:

Imagine that a building is on fire- In one room is a dish containing three human embryos; in the other, a newborn baby. You only have time to save one. Which would you choose?


The genius of this question (which I sadly cannot claim credit for) is that for pro-life Republicans, there truly is no right answer. Since they purport that each embryo is a human life, the logical conclusion would be to save the embryos rather than the baby. But any politician who says they would save a Petri dish over a baby would come off as inhuman and unfeeling. On the other hand, if they say they would save the newborn they are essentially conceding that embryos aren’t the same value as human life, and by extension, the sort of ‘life’ that exists at conception is not equal to that of a living, breathing human. That’s why I love this question and suggest you use it to put Republicans on the spot whenever possible.

For Ron Paul:

On your website you warn Americans of a plan to build a NAFTA superhighway from Mexico to Canada, as part of a larger plot by powerful special interest groups to unite The United States, Mexico, and Canada into one nation by the North American Union. Why haven’t we heard more about this grave threat to US sovereignty in the main stream media?


This is actually the least condescending version of this question I could come up with. It also works in regards to the 17th Amendment, the gold standard, the United Nations- or any other radical position that he generally avoids talking about. Essentially, I would love to make the coalition of pseudo-anarchists, misguided stoners, and naïve college students aware that their man is a legitimate nut job.

For Mitt Romney:

In 1994, you claimed that you would be a better advocate for gay rights than Ted Kennedy. Now? Not so much. What has changed since ’94 to account for this shift: your principles, your target audience, or the gays?


You get the idea.

Sadly, I am stranded in the barrens of Western New York without a video camera; but for all of you with the technological means, this is your chance to give your favorite Republican candidate a proverbial bitch slap --phrased in the form of a question, of course. Good luck!

http://www.youtube.com/contest/RepublicanDebate

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In a strategic move that would make Josh Lyman proud, Senate Democrats are working every third day this week in order to prevent President Bush from making controversial recess appointments. According to congressional and Constitutional rules, the Senate needs to meet on the day following three consecutive days off to remain "in session". And by keeping the Senate in session (and out of recess), Senate Dems can keep Bush from making any recess appointments.

If anyone is worried about this strategy keeping Democratic Senators away from home on this holiday weekend, you should be reassured by what these pro forma sessions actually entail. In each case, a Senator (Jim Webb D-VA, Byron Dorgan D-ND, and Jack Reed D-RI have volunteered to participate) opens a session and then closes it again. In all, the process takes less than half a minute.

And with that little effort, the Senate has been able to prevent a series of controversial under-the-radar appointments. The leadership was most concerned about Bush's nominee for Surgeon General, James Holsinger Jr., who has a record of being prejudiced towards the LGBT community. What does Bush think qualifies Holsinger to be America's doctor? Well, I'm not sure, but it might have something to do with Hope Springs Community Church. Holsinger was an original founder of the Church that "ministers to people who no longer wish to be gay or lesbian." Holsinger believes that homosexuality is "an issue not of orientation but of lifestyle." I'm happy that the man who might be our next Surgeon General has such a firm grasp on these issues...

So in light of the nightmare situation that has been avoided, on this Thanksgiving I'm giving thanks for the quick-thinking Senate Dems leadership...

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You know we live in a strange world when we have spent $1.3 trillion on a misguided adventure that has made us significantly less secure, and yet we have been able to significantly improve our national security with a different effort that required only $100 million (1/13,000 of the cost). But such are the life and times of the Bush administration.

The two events I am referring to are the war in Iraq and an effort to finance the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

A new report released by Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee places the total cost of the war in Iraq at $1.3 trillion (so far). To put that in perspective, that would cost $16,500 for the average family of four. And what has the war in Iraq accomplished? It has tarnished America’s image around the world, decreasing our ability to work with foreign governments to fight terrorism and increasing anti-Americanism that directly leads to terrorism. At the same time, it has destabilized the Middle East, threatening American political and economic interests in the region.

On the other hand, since 2001, the Bush administration has commendably provided $100 million to help Pakistan secure its nuclear weapons. As Joe Biden likes to assert, the real concern about nuclear proliferation in the Islamic world is not Iran (who is years away from developing a nuclear weapon), but instead Pakistan. Many of Pakistan’s nuclear facilities are not adequately secure, and Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan was found to have sold nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea, and Libya. Due to this lack of nuclear security, there is a real risk that Islamic fundamentalists could obtain a nuclear weapon, which could then be used against the United States. In addition, Musharraf’s government is not at all stable, as he has faced three assassination attempts since 2003. If his regime were to collapse, Islamic fundamentalists could take control of the country’s nuclear arsenal. While there have been problems regarding the implementation of the nuclear security program, it is exactly the kind of effort that makes our nation more secure in a 21st-century world.

Instead of spending $1.3 trillion on a war that has made our nation less safe, we should have put the focus on financing these more mundane initiatives, such as the effort to secure Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, that actually make America safer and do it at a fraction of the cost. Unfortunately, the Bush administration’s approach with regard to Iraq was “shoot first, ask questions later."

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Yesterday, a United Nations scientific panel announced that global warming is "severe and so sweeping that only urgent, global action" can prevent it and its repercussions. The war over global warming has been raging for many years; in fact, I feel like it has been for my entire life. Yet, leading Republican officials and presidential candidates, like the illustrious Fred Thompson, continue to deny the existence of global warming and claim that liberals and progressives are overstating the dangers and the facts. Whether Friday’s U.N. report will help to convince some of the doubters remains to be seen, but it is another event which underscores the importance of global warming for not only American politics and American society, but the entire planet.

My question, then, is why aren’t we talking about this more? Why is this not a crucial aspect of the presidential race, and a crucial talking point in society? Why doesn’t everybody know the candidates’ views? Why are we allowing this, even after Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize, to be a secondary issue? I cannot answer these questions definitively. It may be that we are afraid to admit that the lifestyle we enjoy so much could be destroying our planet. Maybe admitting that our past and our present need to be drastically critiqued, and our behavior needs to be changed harms a view of American superiority. Perhaps people, like Mr. Thompson, really are this stupid. All I know is that I don’t know. However, regardless of our ignorance and avoidance, this reality is inexcusable.

Politicians often say that they are working to build a better, safer, stronger, more prosperous America for today. But surely, we must admit that working to ensure America’s survival, to ensure that our children, grandchildren, and everyone else down the line can attain these things is also an important goal. Thus, we cannot allow for more evidence to come in until we take action. We must start right now, right away, and work to ensure the preservation of our planet. I am, by no means, a crazed environmentalist. But even I can realize that the time has come, the writing is on the wall, and we need to do something about this. We need to make this an issue that America cares about first. And only then will the politicians truly begin to take notice.

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It is an old story, the 2006 midterm elections. Buoyed by voters' opposition to the Republican status quo, the Democrats found themselves with majorities in both houses of Congress. For liberals across the country, it was like an early Christmas present: after having spent the past six years being trodden upon by uncaring, corrupt, and incompetent Republicans, the forces of progressive goodness could at last claim the powers of the legislature as their own. Though voters had much to frown at, the issue that topped them all was the War in Iraq and the management thereof. While a significant majority of the electorate disapproved of the war's handling or expressed support for some form of troop withdrawal, the position of the Left in the Democratic Party can be summarized easily: bring the troops home now.

It is with these demands that the 110th Congress have been grappling, but all attempts to end the War in Iraq or to minimize American involvement in any significant way have been met with a clear resistance from Congressional Republicans and the White House. Most recently, a Democratically sponsored $50 billion funding bill for the war, the money conditional on redeploying the troops to specific missions and completing the process by mid-December next year, failed to get the 60 votes needed in the Senate. Even if the bill had passed, President Bush would have vetoed it, just as he vetoed a spending bill in May that also had troop withdrawal conditions. The Democrats in Congress are repeatedly running into the same brick wall with the same results: nothing is getting done.

Democratic leaders, I would think, recognize that, regardless of how greatly the public might disapprove of the war, nothing will get done. President Bush has staked his political legacy on the war, and he isn't about to admit that it failed. Why, then, does the Democratic Congress continue to play this game? Naturally, it is impossible to read the minds of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, but here's a guess: Hillary Clinton & Co. are not the only ones looking for success in the upcoming 2008 elections. The entire House of Representatives, in addition to a third of the Senate, are also up for re-election, and they have to look after their own interests. Casting a vote in favor of in some way limiting the extent of the War in Iraq makes for a catchy soundbite and looks good to constituents at home, even if that vote had no actual policy impact. In a broader context, Congress as a whole could use a bit of a boost. A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll put Congress's approval rating at 19 percent (for purposes of comparison, the same poll put Bush's approval rating at 31 percent -- yes, Virginia, there is an institution more unpopular than our current head of state). Imagine how much lower it would be if Congress didn't even bother to try fulfilling its mandate.

Assuming, of course, that it is possible for that number to get any smaller.

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The pro-life / pro-choice debate has long been a point of contention within American partisan politics. Simply put, democrats are pro-choice, republicans are pro-life, and the public votes along these lines. But this oversimplification is being tested now that a pro-choice Republican is running for president—and now stands as the Republican frontrunner.

Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, only two U.S. presidents have been Democrats, and nearly all of the Republican presidents have been pro-life. Furthermore, Republican administrations are responsible for 12 of the past 14 Supreme Court nominations. The issue was tested again in 1992 regarding the Casey v. Planned Parenthood decision, which overruled five provisions for abortions in the state of Pennsylvania. Abortion remains legal, despite the supremacy of pro-life administrations. But the debate persists as a key component of any candidate’s platform.

On Wednesday, Fred Thompson was officially endorsed for president by the National Right to Life Committee, the nation’s largest anti-abortion organization. He was touted as “the best candidate to beat Giuliani.” But does this matter? The coming election might test just how powerful a constituency the religious right is. The question remains, does the religious right have enough power to swing the entire primary in a more conservative direction?

A Giuliani nomination—horrifying as that may be—will stand out as a landmark for the Republican Party. Whether the religious right will endorse a third party candidate and (foolishly) split the Republican vote (handing victory to the Democrats) remains to be seen. But should they follow the Republican Party in supporting Giuliani, this might be an indicator that the religious reigns on American conservatives are loosening- or, if nothing else, that the pro-life debate is losing its sway.

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Run a search for the word “Liberal” in Google. Just a few entries down, underneath the Wikipedia articles and dictionary definitions, is Conservapedia.com’s ever-brilliant perspective. Yes, it’s their word now. The conservative website (self-titled “The Trustworthy Encyclopedia”) defines liberalism in a nut shell, beginning with the “denial of inherent gender differences, leading to things such as allowing men and women to have the same jobs in the military (while quietly holding them to different standards)” and including “support of obscenity and pornography”, “limits [to] conservative talk radio”, and “opposition to a strong American foreign policy.” The accompanying illustration, The Socialist Brain of a Liberal Democrat, provides a nice summary of today’s understanding of Liberals and their silly, self-serving, and anti-American principles.

The term “Liberal” now brands Democratic politicians—it has become an insult rather than a political position. The word is thrown around with a new conservative spin, using phrases such as “the liberal media,” “tax-and-spend liberal,” and “dirty liberal hippie” to disparage ideals once considered to be Democratic. The 21st century Liberal is imprudent, radical, even silly—and to be labeled a Liberal is political suicide. But its connotation now extends far beyond the limits of its definition; indeed, popular understanding has altogether changed the meaning of the term. Today’s most powerful Democrats refuse to call themselves Liberals, instead opting for the elusive “Progressive” label. What the substantive difference is between these two ideologies is unclear, except that the former has been hijacked by the conservative wing to represent all that is wrong with the Democratic Party in general.

First of all, let’s go back to the origins of the word “Liberal”. Having its root in the word for freedom, to be liberal is to be generous, tolerant, open, and understanding. Outside of a political context, one can give liberally, have liberal amounts of, or be liberal-minded. And Liberalism as a political ideology emphasizes freedom and equality, insisting on individual rights and equal opportunity. Now, that doesn’t sound silly to me. In fact, it sounds a lot like the platform of a Progressive—or whatever it is that the Democrats are calling themselves these days. Yet Democrats have developed an aversion to the word, succumbing to the negative spin placed upon it by conservatives. Conservatives would logically demonize Liberals—after all, they are proponents of fundamentally different values and policies. Fending off the Liberal label only legitimizes the conservative smear campaign aimed at making the Democrats into something ridiculous. But why are Democrats running from the very principles that define their Party? If they are looking for conservative approval, they are certainly not going to find it by touting Progressivism in its stead.

To be sure, the Democrats are trying to cultivate a less “radical” image to appeal to a wider audience (for wider audience, read centrist voters). Liberalism no longer represents the noble ideals the Democratic Party once stood for—instead, it seems to belong in the derogatory word pool with the Commies and the Fascists. There is no conservative equivalent to this rejected term. Calling someone a conservative merely describes his or her political position, one with which you can agree or disagree. Whereas Democrats plug their ears when they hear the word ‘Liberal’, ‘Conservative’ just doesn’t have the same ring. Republicans stand their ground on conservative issues, while Democrats waver self-consciously between left and center. They are eager to please and easy to upset, and as a result have cultivated an image insecure in their own principles. The refusal to embrace the term is a concession of sorts, admitting that there is something ridiculous about the Democratic Party. Our fear of the word ‘Liberal’ gives ammunition to the conservative campaign against the very values Democrats claim to hold.

Political success does involve compromise, and alienating more moderate voters will undoubtedly prove fruitless. But it doesn’t have to, and indeed it must not, involve sacrifice. Relinquishing control of the Liberal label to the conservatives is a political defeat that extends beyond the thesaurus. The truth is, Democrats are liberals—but liberal is not synonymous with radical. We must recover ‘liberal’ from the conservative smear machine and reestablish it in terms of truly Democratic values. ‘Liberal’ is not a dirty word, and a Liberal by any other name is still a Liberal.

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I was walking into my Defense Industrial Policy class today and heard a conversation in the hallway of the ICC. I was readying myself for 2 hours of defense policy and theory, when I heard a young man say something that grounded me back in the reality of it all. The man was a little older than me, apparently a graduate student, who was remarking that it was Veteran's Day and that the day used to mean something else to him.

He had been in ROTC during college, but I gathered he had done his time. He noted that he was glad to have followed the path to grad school instead of into the army professionally, because, "Heck, I'd probably be over there in Abu Ghraib."

It quickly saddened me to hear him say this. A once proud member of Reserves, he no longer respected the armed services as he once did, he didn't long to be a part of it any longer - it has somehow lost its shine, its pride, maybe even some of its strength.

Today is a day we should remember the fallen heroes and the ones who are still fighting, as well as those like this young man who have put in theirt time. Every man and woman in the United States armed forces deserves the respect and dignity awarded to a person who fights for democracy and freedom. Every man and woman in the United States armed forces deserves more respectable leadership than one that would allow our army and our country to the army and the country of Abu Ghraib.

We deserve better. Our brothers and sisters in uniform have worked for such respect and it is up to us, as young voters, to make our voices heard and ensure the next group of leadership and Chief Executive don't take it away from them.

Please take a moment today to think about the people across the world fighting for us. The young men and women who are not able to be in college, begin their first jobs, or start their families because they are dedicating themselves to our freedom, but also are subjected these flawed policies and undermining leaders.

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On Wednesday, when the House Education Committee considers reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, it will have an opportunity to abolish one of the most illogical and unjust pieces of legislation from the GOP’s 12 year reign of error. I’m referring to the Aid Elimination Provision, a 1998 addition to the HEA which makes students with drug convictions ineligible for federal aid.

This provision effectively denied reformed criminals and recovering addicts access to higher education, which was both coldhearted and irrational, since improving individuals’ economic status is the most effective way to reduce drug use and other types of crime in the long run. The Aid Elimination Provision took away financial aid for students with misdemeanor marijuana offenses, yet students with alcohol violations were unaffected. In fact, the restriction applied only to drug offenses –even rapists and murderers do not lose eligibility.

Between 1998 and 2006, over 200,000 students were denied financial aid. The provision was finally revised in 2006 to apply only to students who commit violations while receiving federal aid, but there are still a number of problems with this.
The Higher Education Act, part of Johnson’s Great Society agenda, was passed in 1965 in part to expand access to college by offering loans and scholarships to poor students. However, the Aid Elimination Provision primarily punishes lower and middle-income students who cannot afford college without financial aid. Furthermore, it disproportionately affects minority students because of the discriminatory way that drug laws are enforced in this country.

The presumption behind this provision is that students who are using drugs while receiving aid are wasting taxpayers’ money. Yet the law only punishes successful students since they already need to get good grades to continue receiving aid. Furthermore, the Government Accountability Office found no evidence that this penalty even helps to reduce drug use. It is simply counterproductive to kick successful, poor students out of college for drug use, increasing the likelihood that they will become a burden on the criminal justice system rather than productive, tax-paying citizens.

The Aid Elimination Provision is just another example of how the personal moral judgments of members of Congress have created an unjust and ineffective criminal justice system. Once again, the need to look ‘tough on crime’ makes for good politics and bad policy.

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I walking into my Defense Industrial Policy class today and heard a conversation in the hallway of the ICC. I was readying myself for 2 hours of defense policy and theory, when I heard a young man say something that grounded me back in the reality of it all. The man was a little older than me, apparently a graduate student, who was remarking that it was Veteran's Day and that the day used to mean something else to him.

He had been in ROTC during college, but I gathered he had done his time. He noted that he was glad to have followed the path to grad school instead of into the army professionally, because, "Heck, I'd probably be over there in Abu Ghraib."

It quickly saddened me to hear him say this. A once proud member of Reserves, he no longer respected the armed services as he once did, he didn't long to be a part of it any longer - it has somehow lost its shine, its pride, maybe even some of its strength.

Today is a day we should remember the fallen heroes and the ones who are still fighting, as well as those like this young man who have put in theirt time. Every man and woman in the United States armed forces deserves the respect and dignity awarded to a person who fights for democracy and freedom. Every man and woman in the United States armed forces deserves more respectable leadership than one that would allow our army and our country to the army and the country of Abu Ghraib.

We deserve better. Our brothers and sisters in uniform have worked for such respect and it is up to us, as young voters, to make our voices heard and ensure the next group of leadership and Chief Executive don't take it away from them.

Please take a moment today to think about the people across the world fighting for us. The young men and women who are not able to be in college, begin their first jobs, or start their families because they are dedicating themselves to our freedom, but also are subjected these flawed policies and undermining leaders.

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Amid all the hoopla about Pat Robertson’s endorsement of Rudy Giuliani last week, another endorsement got lost in the mix that may signify an even more important development.

Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, a former presidential candidate who is very respected among religious conservatives, decided to endorse John McCain for president. His logic: “I am endorsing the best pro-life candidate to beat Hillary Clinton.”

McCain’s candidacy has been thought to be dead in the water for quite a while now. The conservative base rose up in arms when McCain included a path to earned legalization in his proposal for comprehensive immigration reform. Furthermore, his unwavering support for the war in Iraq alienated his natural constituency of independents and Republican moderates.

But after all the long months of campaigns, debates, and mud-slinging, Brownback’s endorsement shows that this race could very well end up turning out the way most political observers predicted over a year ago. At that time, the three leading Republican contenders were Giuliani, McCain, and Mitt Romney. Giuliani is pro-choice and Romney was pro-choice pretty much right up until the start of his presidential campaign (in addition to being a Mormon), so many believed that the Christian right would eventually find McCain to be the only acceptable option and ensure his nomination.

No other candidate has acquired a lock on the support of religious conservatives. Fred Thompson seemed to be the perfect fit for the Christian right based on his solidly conservative voting record, but he has run an extremely lackluster campaign so far. Mike Huckabee has been gaining support among the grassroots of the religious right, but evangelical leaders have been reluctant to back his candidacy, probably because they fear he has no chance at winning the nomination due to his still-limited name recognition and poor fundraising.

This means that Christian conservatives might still end up backing McCain as the lesser of two (well, actually three) evils. Brownback’s endorsement is the first step in this process, and it means that the old and weathered warrior is certainly not down for the count.

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I don't mind people who support Hillary Clinton. I may make some noise about it sometimes, but I can understand why they do. Senator Clinton is a very smart woman, who understands the minute details of public policy better than also anyone. She is a good speaker and can be very charming in person. She is experienced in both domestic and foreign policy, and has been through enough campaigns to know how to win.

But nominating Senator Clinton is a very dangerous message to send to our country.

Our politics has devolved. Instead of nuanced, eloquent, and substantive debate about very complicated matters of public policy, ethics, culture, and law, we reward politicians who can produce the quickest, funniest, and least threatening one-liner.

Instead of respecting and encouraging a dialogue between those with differing opinions, we belittle the other side's ideas, claiming them to be the product of evil, hatred, and greed.

Instead of getting public policy passed as legislation and enacting important programs and policies, we engage in a protracted game of one-upmanship where the goal is winning elections every year. It seems that many in our politics today hope to win a long-awaited Battle Royale which one day, in the distant future, when the other party is extinct, will produce the agenda we seek.

Instead of bringing new people into the process, and inspiring our citizens to break out of their cynicism and work for a politics of producing a better world, we play to the lowest-common-denominator, producing bland proposals that aim to slightly influence a small set of middle-aged, middle income white men in the suburbs of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

This old politics has to come to an end.

But Hillary Clinton, unfortunately, can't do it.

In fact, her advisors are the problem. Take a look at what her top two advisors, Mark Penn and Mandy Grunwald, thought of the massive turnout of young people that Senator Obama brought to the Iowa Jefferson-Jackson Dinner last night.

An estimated 9,000 people showed up here at Veterans Memorial Auditorium Saturday night and the Obama campaign claimed that 3,000 of them were Obama supporters.

“The JJ is a place to deliver a message,” Tommy Vietor, Obama’s Iowa spokesman told me, “but it is also a place to show organizing muscle. It shows you can get people to show up at the same place at the same time.”

At least two of Hillary Clinton’s upper-echelon advisers, Mandy Grunwald and Mark Penn, were decidedly unimpressed .

“Our people look like caucus-goers,” Grunwald said, “and his people look like they are 18. Penn said they look like Facebook.”

Penn added, "Only a few of their people look like they could vote in any state."

Mark Penn would be a top advisor to a President Hillary Clinton. If this is the tone and opinion of one of our country's potential top White House staffers, I think we are safer without nominating Senator Clinton.

We must break out of the cycle of cynicism and the stranglehold that the chattering classes of pundits, consultants, and pollsters have on our political discourse. Mark Penn is a continuation of the past. We should not let him extend into the future by voting for his benefactor.

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In the state of Iowa, a scandal is brewing. No, it doesn't have anything to do with a stained dress or fabricated intelligence but with something far, far more urgent. Or, to be more specific, a lack thereof.

Yesterday, NPR Morning Edition aired a story in which a waitress, Anita Esterday, at a diner called Maid-Rite stated that "nobody got left a tip that day" -- and none other than Hillary Clinton and her staff had stopped by earlier for a meal. Naturally, when this little bit of news hit the internet, the campaign rushed to control the damage lest their candidate be seen as, well, less than sympathetic to the working class. Meanwhile, the Fact Hub over at the Clinton campaign refuted the claim, while a spokesman for the campaign e-mailed the folks over at NPR: "The campaign spent $157 and left a $100 tip at the Maid-Rite Restaurant. Wish you had checked in with us beforehand." NPR has since revised its story, but there are still questions circulating about where the tip ended up.

Perhaps the most poignant comment made thus far comes from Ms. Esterday herself: "You people are really nuts. There's kids dying in the war, the price of oil right now -- there's better things in this world to be thinking about."

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Michael Mukasey was confirmed as the 81st attorney general late tonight, but by a very narrow margin. The Senate voted 53-40 to confirm Bush’s nomination, only six of which were votes made by Democrats. This is the closet vote of its kind in over 50 years. When President Bush first nominated Mukasey, his victory looked promising, and many Democrats viewed the retired federal judge as a “consensus nominee”—and the best they could hope for during the tail end of the Bush Administration. However, Mukasey is now unpopular among Democrats for his weak position on the constitutionality of waterboarding. In his October 18th testimony, Mukasey would only go so far as to condemn the use of torture for interrogation purposes, but at one point refused to define waterboarding as torture. This unpopular stance was widely criticized, and the attorney general’s success seemed doubtful.

The six Democrats who voted to confirm Mukasey as the next attorney general ultimately viewed their decision as a practical matter. Though critiquing his views on the state-sanctioned use of a torture technique, Senators such as Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) considered him to be the best—and safest—compromise, especially in Alberto Gonzales’ wake. Politics aside, Democrats and Republicans alike hope that Mukasey can clean up the justice system of late. However, dissenters fear that Mukasey’s position on torture already indicates a path towards a dangerous alliance between the Justice Department and Bush’s top aides, who espouse controversial anti-terrorism techniques.

All four of the Senate Democrats running for President—Clinton, Obama, Biden, and Dodd—announced their opposition to nominee, but were not present when the vote took place. Their presence would not have been enough to avoid the nomination altogether, but a 49-44 vote is an even closer call. That another disappointing nominee has secured a position of power—despite his overwhelming lack of support from the Senate Majority—stands out as another example of Congress embracing a defeatist attitude: Attorney General Mukasey may not be the right guy, but he’s the best we can do.

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Today, Rudy Giulinai just might have secured himself the republican nomination for president. How you ask? By managing to gain the endorsement of arguably one of the most famous—and outspoken—televangelists of them all, Pat Robertson.


That’s right, Mr. feminism is a "socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians,” Mr. homosexuality will lead to hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist attacks and “possibly a meteor” has publicly given his blessing to Rudy Giuliani, and it actually means something to his campaign.

In a press conference held Wednesday at the National Press Club in Washington, Robertson said, “It is my pleasure to announce my support for America’s Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, a proven leader who is not afraid of what lies ahead and who will cast a hopeful vision for all Americans”—oh Pat, just how much of your ass did Rudy kiss (and how much money did he donate to The 700 Club) to get you behind him? Although Robertson is staunchly against abortions, he has even stated that they were the reason for the 9/11 attacks (together with the gays, feminists, pagans and those atheistic hippies at the ACLU), and Rudy has remained cautiously pro-choice thus far in his campaign, Pat was somehow able to overlook Giuliani’s baby-killing ways and find it in his heart to support him in his campaign.

It is believed that Robertson’s support will drastically improve Giuliani’s standing among evangelicals, and could in effect solidify his position as the republican presidential nominee in 2008. Rudy has been struggling with the Christian-conservative base because of his slightly more liberal stances on social issues like abortion, but with Robertson’s endorsement, much of this hesitation is likely to evaporate.

And yet, I can’t help but wonder just how Rudy was able to finagle Pat Robertson onto his team. Was it his stance on the war on terror? Was it a “donation” to one of Robertson’s organizations? Or maybe, Pat was just a fan of this.

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Still riding the wave of publicity he received after reporting a surprising $5 million dollar haul in the 3rd quarter, Ron Paul is now the beneficiary of a daylong fundraising blitz which the NYT reports netted $4.07 million.

This figure is astonishing for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that Ron Paul had almost nothing to do with this particular drive. The idea of staging a fundraising drive on Guy Fawkes Day (which commemorates the day when its namesake tried to blow up Parliament) actually arose independently from ThisNovember5th.com, and the campaign spread virally.

Thanks to this grassroots triumph, Paul has now raised $7.2 million in just 5 weeks, putting the campaign’s $12 million goal within reach. It also raises the possibility that he could conceivably lead the entire Republican field for the 4th quarter, assuming Romney doesn’t inflate his numbers with another $6 million of his own money (he will). Given the importance the media places on fundraising, how long could the GOP fundraising leader remain in 6th place in the polls?

Paul’s grassroots power may actually spell trouble for the GOP, however. He has not promised to endorse the eventual GOP nominee, and his fundraising power and internet support may encourage him to continue his campaign as a third party candidate, particularly if Giuliani is nominated. Is it worthwhile to note that Paul already made one 3rd party run for the White House as the Libertarian Party nominee in 1988.

This historic haul also suggests that the race for the Republican nomination is still wide-open, with six viable candidates if one counts Paul, as the national media will increasingly do. This dynamism is driven both by discontent within the Republican ranks and unresolved conflict between the merits of ideological purity and electability. While in other election years pro-choice or anti-war views would be a deal breaker for any potential GOP nominee, the sense that a tradition conservative can’t win following the Bush fiasco has created an opening for a Giuliani or Ron Paul.

While I still maintain that Ron Paul is too far outside the mainstream to ultimate have a significant electoral impact, his grassroots support and fundraising power are shaking up the campaign and ensuring that the Republican race will continue to be more exciting and unpredictable than its Democratic counterpart.

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Even though the filing deadline for the New Hampshire presidential primary was last Friday, candidates still do not know when the actual primary will take place.

New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner said that he will wait to set a primary date until Michigan chooses the date of their primary. Michigan has until November 14 to set their date. State law in New Hampshire dictates that the state primary must occur at least seven days before any other “similar contest”, generally interpreted to mean any other primary. Michigan is expected to choose January 15 as their primary date, which would allow New Hampshire to set its primary for January 8.

However, Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan has threatened to try and set his state’s primary date even earlier, which could force New Hampshire’s primary into December 2007. Some experts believe that New Hampshire would look ridiculous holding a 2008 presidential primary in 2007, which could significantly damage the state’s political standing in the future. This is exactly what Levin wants, as he believes New Hampshire has a disproportionate influence on the political process.

On the other hand, some political figures in New Hampshire are embracing the idea of a December 2007 primary. Jim Splaine, a Democratic state legislator in New Hampshire, is urging Gardner to set the state’s primary for December 11. We could be voting for president sooner than we think…

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After last year’s contentious midterm elections and with the presidential race for 2008 really beginning to ramp up, it seems as if the political atmosphere of this country has grown increasingly partisan. The nature of American politics has become so polarized that we often do not vote for candidates anymore, we vote for party. In fact, I am reminded of something my Catholic high school history teacher told our class one day when speaking about his role as a Republican: “If the presidential election came down to Jesus Christ, Democrat, against Genghis Kahn, Republican, I would contemplate for a moment, and then vote foe Genghis Khan. Though clearly hyperbolic, as I know the man to be religious, this statement reveals something about our country that I will not categorize as necessarily good or bad, but is an undeniable reality. Therefore, as Democrats, we have been trained to despise Republicans as the enemy, to characterize them as evil, and work as hard as we can to keep them from attaining positions of power. However, if we can place down our blinders for a moment, there are instances, though few and often far between, where we can see that Republicans, as well as Democrats, labor for the cause of progressivism in their own right.

In early 2005, my parents, and many members of my small community in Smithfield Township, Pennsylvania, organized an effort, known as The Shawnee Preservation Society, to slow the reckless and environmentally unfriendly over-development of our area and try to create pressure for local politicians to abide by the laws that were created to ensure responsible development. Very quickly, my father, Vincent Della Fera and another Smithfield resident, Brian Barrett ran for the two supervisor positions open in Smithfield. (Within Pennsylvania townships, there are three supervisors who assume both executive and legislative responsibilities within the local government. During this particular year, due to one seat being up for election at its scheduled time and another being put up for special election due the resignation of the previous supervisor, two of the three seats were up for election.)

Mr. Barrett and my father, both Republicans, went on to run on a campaign that emphasized responsible development and environmental conservation. They hoped to remove from power the corrupt businessmen who were not only cutting corners on development laws and building oftentimes sub-standard housing, but also themselves in the elected positions to decide whether or not their own developments were lawful. After a difficult campaign, which included the local Republican leadership rescinding my father’s position as candidate and nominating a pro-development candidate of their own, Mr. Barrett and my father, now as a third party candidate and registered independent, both won their elections and took their places on the Smithfield Board of Supervisors. And, during their time as supervisors, they have enacted laws which protects local wetlands and waterways, strictly enforced already-standing laws regarding property development, strove to enact new laws which will create even more responsible development in the future.

Now, almost exactly two years later, the third seat on the board is up for re-election and the local conservationists and progressives are supporting a Democratic candidate, Christine Griffin, for the third seat. And, although winning the seat may prove more difficult for her than Mr. Barrett and my father, if elected the Smithfield board of supervisors will consist of three first-term supervisors, one Republican, one Democrat, and one Independent, all working towards goals which progressives can value. Smithfield Township, I hope, can then serve as an example that Republicans, Democrats, and others can work together on some if not many issues, in the goal of allowing government and politics to be a place where people can get past their differences and strive to make a notable difference in our society.

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It's official. Stephen Colbert will not be running for president.

Yesterday on the Colbert Report, Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler for the state of South Carolina announced that the election commission had voted 13-3 to prevent Colbert's name from appearing on the ballot. Apparently, they thought Colbert was making a mockery of the South Carolina Democratic Primary.

Personally, I think Stephen Colbert was doing what every politically-aware Comedian should do--getting people excited and interested in our upcoming elections. While Stephen Colbert's presidency was short-lived, it wasn't altogether a failure. Maybe, more than another flag pin, our country needs a good laugh.




Type rest of the post here and it will be hidden with a "read more..." link

For more information about the end of Colbert's presidential campaign... http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory?id=3812312

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The confirmation battle over U.S. Attorney General nominee Michael B. Mukasey reached a new level of intensity yesterday, when President Bush delivered a speech yesterday accusing the Senate Judiciary Committee of "holding up his nomination." The point of contention, of course, is the use of waterboarding, a form of torture meant to create the illusion of drowning, and Mukasey's continued refusal to clearly comment on the (il)legality of the practice.

This controversy, however important, should not overshadow some of the larger issues at play. If the American people are looking for an Attorney General who will stand up for civil liberties, they won't find one in Mr. Mukasey, whose past record suggests that he is of the same ideological brand as the Bush administration.

In the month following the September 11 attacks, Osama Awadallah, then a college student, was detained as a possible witness in the continuing investigation regarding those attacks. The judge to whom he was brought was none other than Mukasey, who, in addition to dismissing Awadallah's claim that he had beaten while detained, ruled that he should be held indefinitely, never mind he had not been charged with any crime.

During his confirmation hearing, Mukasey has made clear his belief in the power of the executive branch to act outside of legislative bounds. When the committee asked him if the president is allowed to violate a law passed by Congress, his reply was, "That would have to depend on whether what goes outside the statute nonetheless lies within the authority of the president to defend the country."

Can Mukasey really be charged with overseeing law enforcement in this country when he himself approves of such expansive presidential power? Whether or not the Senate Judiciary Committee advances his nomination to a full Senate vote, one thing is obvious: the investigation into his record and opinions is not a light matter. It should be conducted in a thorough and critical manner, regardless of the White House's contrary desires.

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Powershift 2007, a four-day national youth conference, will convene at University of Maryland tomorrow. The conference is sponsored by the Energy Action Coalition and is expected to attract 6,000 students from all over the country (including many Georgetown students). Powershift aims to increase energy and environmental awareness among students, and encourage political participation as well. Its goals are to “to make the U.S. Presidential candidates and Congress take global warming seriously, to empower a truly diverse network of young leaders, and to achieve broad geographic diversity”.

Powershift 2007 is the largest national youth summit of its kind, and will feature keynote speakers such Nancy Pelosi and Carol Browner of the Environmental Protection Agency. After two days of workshops and panels, the conference will travel to D.C. to lobby Congress and to rally on the steps of Capitol Hill.

“Power Shift will take the climate movement to new levels. At this conference, leaders of our generation will share ideas, learn new skills, make new connections, establish a national voice for our generation, and send a united message to our national leaders: we are moving beyond the same old special interests, empty promises, and inadequate results to embrace a new paradigm that leverages our strengths and achieves what is possible for our future. Something incredible is happening.”

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The Iraqi army in training:



Oh Dear.

See John Cole

I like the guy second from the right.

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In honor of this most glorious of holidays, here's a gallery that reminds us that even politicians love putting on costumes:







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November 4, 2008. If you’re anything like me, chances are you’re waiting for this day with bated breath. But what about November 6, 2007—an election that is taking place not next year but next week? Back in my hometown, the local Democrats have spent close to a million dollars to regain control of the school board and reinforce their majority in the township board of commissioners. But this is an off-off year election, and voter turn out is predicted to be 20% at best.

When asked, I say I’m from Philadelphia. That’s because few outside of the area know anything at all about Lower Merion, the township adjacent to a city nearly 50 times its size. Politically, that puts me in Pennsylvania’s 6th U.S. congressional district, the 17th state senatorial district, and the 149th state representative district. These districts refer to our representation on a national and state level. Next week’s election, however, is an exercise in local politics. LM’s school board may be relatively insignificant when compared to the office of the President of the United States, but its outcome will have a huge effect on one of the ‘08 race’s hottest issues: education. The local public schools are outdated, inaccessible, and in various stages of disrepair. They are also far too small. Our choices? Raise property taxes to rebuild schools, or “make do” with the resources we already have. No surprises here: a democratic majority on the school board would vote to build two state-of-the-art educational facilities for the township. This would cater to the growing demands of students’ families, such as class size, handicapped accessibility, and technology. Should we fail to grab the majority of seats on the board, Lower Merion will favor the demands of large and valuable property owners, leaving the school system to quite literally gather dust until the next off-off year, meanwhile cramming more and more students into undersized classrooms.

What’s going on locally in Lower Merion has no real implications for anyone living outside of the township. So why is this important? For one thing, no Democratic presidential candidate will get those two new schools built, no matter how many educational reforms he or she signs into law. Local politics are so often obscured by national elections, whose issues seem infinitely more impending and important than the concerns of the sixty thousand residents of my town. But local elections have the biggest impact on the communities they represent, and some of the best national changes start at home.

Sure, I’m hanging on to every word of every presidential hopeful. I’ve got November 8th, 2008 circled in red on my calendar. But in the meantime, I’m sending in my absentee ballot, so that the United States has two fewer schools to worry about.

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A really cool article forecasting a new progressive era. Simon Rosenberg and Peter Leyden argue that the disaster that is the Bush Presidency combined with changing demographics could result in a huge Democratic majority and shift in the political discourse toward progressive values and issues. Their major source is a poll that came out about six months back which focused on our generation. The numbers are convincing but the whole "permanent Democratic majority" thing is exactly what conservatives were saying after 2004. Karl Rove's goal was a similar permanent Republican majority. There was a book by the always unbearable Hugh Hewitt and this Weekly Standard article.

Of course its not that this sort of prognostication have never been accurate. And I'll take the optimism.

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Texas Republican Ron Paul’s quixotic quest for the White House has received a surprising amount of sympathetic coverage in the main stream press lately. A recent St. Anselm poll showing Paul polling 7% in New Hampshire, ahead of Thompson and Huckabee, raised a lot of eyebrows (yet the 5 other polls taken within the last month showing him in 6th place are generally ignored). Despite rarely registering above 1% in national polls, Paul raised $5 million in the 3rd quarter, almost matching the $6 million raised by the man who nearly won the GOP nomination in 2000. His campaign is driven by an internet-based cult following composed largely of young people. Even more startling is the attention and support he’s drawing from liberals.

On the surface, this following makes perfect sense. He’s against the war, favors abolishing the Patriot Act and restoring civil liberties, supports legalizing medical marijuana, funding stem cell research, while opposing torture and capital punishment. Yet this is all the main stream media seems to focus on when discussing Ron Paul, which might help to explain why so many people still take him semi-seriously.

Here’s what news stories on Paul generally neglect to mention:

Ron Paul wants to abolish Federal Reserve Bank and the income tax, which as the Politico notes are “issues widely viewed as settled since their creation in 1913”. Similarly antiquated is his support for abandoning the fiat currency system in favor of tying the value of currency to gold and silver and repealing the 17th Amendment. Yes, you read that right: Ron Paul wants to take away the right to vote for Senators directly, one of the landmark democratic achievements of the progressive era, and give it back to state legislatures.

Oh, and by the way, he also would like to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Education, the Food and Drug Administration, Medicare, Veterans Administration hospitals, and welfare, while pulling out of NAFTA, the WTO, and the United Nations. But who’s going to miss any of those things?

Other parts of his platform read like they were authored by a conspiracy theorist:

“H.R. 1146 would end our membership in the United Nations, protecting us from their attempts to tax our guns or disarm us entirely.”

“NAFTA’s superhighway is just one part of a plan to erase the borders between the U.S. and Mexico, called the North American Union. This spawn of powerful special interests, would create a single nation out of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, with a new unelected bureaucracy and money system. Forget about controlling immigration under this scheme.”

“Both the WTO and CAFTA could force Americans to get a doctor’s prescription to take herbs and vitamins.”

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in order to comply with standards dictated by supra-national organizations such as the UN‘s World Food Code (CODEX), NAFTA, and CAFTA, has been assuming greater control over nutrients, vitamins and natural health care providers to restrict your right to choose the manner in which you manage your health and nutritional needs.”

It’s not that I’m seriously worried about a President Ron Paul. True libertarians cannot win national elections because Americans are inspired by candidates who promise to DO things, not restrain, cut back, and downsize. While Paul can continue to delude himself saying “the majority of Americans are with me”, the bloated federal government that he is so appalled by came about for a reason – the people demanded federal action to solve problems.

The Ron Paul ‘movement’ is based largely on ignorance of his true extremism.

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Last Tuesday, FEMA Deputy Director Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson held a press conference regarding the agency’s response to the wildfires in California. In light of the agency’s catastrophic failures during Hurricane Katrina, the questions asked by reporters seemed to be a little too soft. For example, one of the questions was, “What lessons learned from Katrina have been applied?”

Well, it turns out, the “reporters” weren’t actually reporters.

They were FEMA employees posing as reporters.

In defense of his agency’s actions, FEMA Deputy Director of Public Affairs Mike Widomski said, “We had been getting mobbed with phone calls from reporters, and this was thrown together at the last minute." You see, the agency only gave real reporters 15 minutes’ notice of the news briefing. They allowed reporters to call in and listen to the briefing, but not to ask questions. When no reporters showed up, what was FEMA supposed to do? Give reporters more time to show up? Reschedule the briefing? Perhaps the agency was afraid of showing a weakening of resolve. FEMA showed once and for all it will never give in to the, uh, traffic. The show must go on--in fact, this time it actually was a “show”.

Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff promised “appropriate discipline” against those responsible but declined to say if any employees involved would lose their jobs. At least Chertoff is being honest with us and is not pretending that there will be real accountability for this incident. He’s clearly learned from the errors made by his boss, President Bush, who in June 2004 said he would fire anyone in his administration involved with leaking the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame. When Karl Rove was named as one of the sources behind the leak, the president showed us how much his words count for.

Since the firing of the employees who participated in this charade seems to be out of the question, I have another suggestion. If these FEMA employees were so eager to pretend to be reporters, why don’t they leave FEMA and pursue real careers in journalism? Then perhaps we could get some competent people into this farce of an agency.

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I like Barack Obama. I like him even though he didn’t put his hand over his heart the last time he heard the national anthem. I like him even though he doesn’t wear an American flag on his lapel. And I still like him, even though he plans to appear on stage with Donnie McClurkin, an “anti-gay” gospel singer. I like Barack Obama because Obama is trying really hard to get me to like him.

I can understand his desire for popularity—after all, isn’t that what buys a presidential victory? Still, watching his recent campaign performances, I can’t help but wonder if Obama is trying a little too hard. Take the senator’s South Carolina Gospel Tour, for example. The Gospel Tour features predominantly African-American acts, including “ex-gay” Reverend Donnie McClurkin and other gospel singers. This sensational political strategy, focused on a state where half of the democratic voters are black, was intended to be a vehicle through which this presidential hopeful could compete with Hillary’s popularity among black voters.

Yes, Obama is trying to be original. He is trying to build support from a grassroots level by taking part in a powerful cultural identity. But in his attempt to win the support of black voters, Obama has provoked the LGBT community. His on-stage companion, Reverend McClurkin, has made homophobic remarks regarding the need to “break the curse of homosexuality,” prompting the Human Rights Commission (HRC) to condemn the senator’s affiliation with the gospel singer. Instead of taking a stance either way, Obama attempts to neutralize McClurkin’s incendiary effect by tacking on an openly gay minister to the front of his tour. The situation that ensues is abominably awkward. Obama does not support McClurkin’s homophobia, nor does he want to take any chances at offending the black community by renouncing the reverend’s partnership. By catering to both sides, he seems unassured and hesitant where he should be decisive.

Barack Obama wants everyone to like him, and that’s his biggest problem. People
do like Barack Obama. He seems to be a genuinely good guy. But the HRC is not asking for him to be buddies with a gay minister. They—along with the rest of America—are looking for leadership. They’re looking for a man with the backbone to stand up for real values and to make real change.

The Barack Obama I like tries to befriend everyone and offend no one. He cracks jokes, organizes concerts, and relates to voters on a personal level. But the Barack Obama I might vote for is a man with vision, passion, will, and the agency to replace ideals with actions. I believe in his message. I believe in his visions for the future, in his hopes and his fears. What’s more, I believe that he has the potential to make his dreams for our America into our reality. But when Obama favors popularity over principal, voters lose confidence in his efficacy as a leader. It is when he stands soundly behind his own opinions, and delivers his message with the confidence of a president of the United States, that Barack Obama becomes a man who voters can believe in.

I like Barack Obama, but I’m crossing my fingers.

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In a sign that the media & political junkies are already taking his presidential run much more seriously than the candidate himself, Rasmussen has conducted a poll with Colbert as a third party candidate. More surprising, though, is the fact that the public seems to be taking Colbert’s candidacy more seriously than he does as well.

The nationwide poll shows that in a three-way race against Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton, Colbert gets 13% of support to Clinton’s 45% and Giuliani’s 35%. With Fred Thompson as the GOP nominee (a prospect about as likely as a 3rd party candidacy) its Clinton 46%, Thompson 34%, and Colbert 12%. To put these numbers in perspective, this is almost exactly the same level of support as Michael Bloomberg drew as a hypothetical 3rd party candidate over the summer (43-37-12).

Even more impressive, Colbert draws 28% of likely voters aged 18-29 with Giuliani and 31% with Thompson, actually beating the GOP nominee in both cases.

TPM: “Colbert seems to draw most of his support from the GOP column, indicating a real unhappiness among Republican voters — either that, or conservatives who have watched his show really don't get the joke.”

Colbert announced on his show last Tuesday that he was filing paperwork to run in both the Republican and Democratic primaries in South Carolina, stating “After nearly 15 minutes of soul-searching, I have heard the call.” While to Colbert the run may simply be an ingenious way to promote his new book and television show, he is clearly creating some excitement as evidenced by the 829,845 members of his Facebook group and the frenzy it has inspired among the media.

Personally, I think it would be a fascinating social experiment if he were to take his candidacy seriously (within the limits of his character, of course). Imagine an entire campaign premised on sarcasm and scripted by comedy writers—debates, campaign ads, rallies, all with the intent of mocking the other candidates and the American electoral process. But perhaps it makes an even better point to poll 13% —more than Ross Perot got after spending $8 million in 1996—without even trying.

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