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January 1, 2008

17:23

What is your best blog post from 2007? That's the question that faux-conservative Jon Swift asked of those who are on his blogroll, and the list of responses makes good reading.

I'd like to ask you to do the same. Please add a comment identifying the single best thing you've written this year, either at Daily Kos or at your own blog. Give us the title and a one-sentence description. Try to avoid identifying anything written during the last week. We want the best from the year, not just the latest thing you're proud of.

Alternately (or in addition), you're welcome to nominate one post by another dkos member, the one blog post you think could be their best of the year.

What don't we want on this thread? (a) candidate diaries, (b) lists. Give us the very best, not all the rest.

No doubt you'll find plenty of interesting posts to read and comment on here. Enjoy!

Categories: Politics
15:32

Don't call it an endorsement - I have a preference I feel I should be open about, but in the final analysis it's just me. I'm explaining myself, not trying to convince anyone else.

Things I know:

  • Any of the Democratic candidates (not counting Mike Gravel) would make a fine president. Several could be presidents to be proud of; who knows, even great ones.
  • On Tuesday, January 8, I will have to vote for one candidate only in the New Hampshire primary.
  • Being an indecisive person confronted with several choices with much to recommend them and some things to be held against them is a kind of hell.

In the end, my answer is the same as it was in the beginning: Ever-questioning, but nonetheless identifiable, for John Edwards. Here is a bit of my thinking, stripped as much as possible of reference to the other candidates I still would support enthusiastically in a general election. Qualities that appeal to me in Edwards are not necessarily missing in other candidates, but I feel them most strongly from him.

While I could cite specific Edwards policy positions that draw me (healthcare comes immediately to mind), the tipping point for me lies in the style of politics he espouses and has built into his campaign.

I feel a deep urgency about this election. I feel it as someone who recently spent two years with inadequate health insurance, learning the kind of fear you live with every day. I feel it as I watch our dwindling New England winters. I feel it when I read about death after death in Iraq, and torture inflicted by our government.

John Edwards is the candidate I see expressing that same sense of urgency.

I believe, as a general principle and particularly with regard to the Republican party as it now is, that change requires struggle. Powerful institutions will have to be dragged kicking and screaming even into policies that are overwhelmingly popular with the American people.

John Edwards is the candidate I see committing to that struggle, acknowledging how hard he will need to fight for his agenda, and asking for voters to be partners in that.

I believe that electoral politics must be joined with movement politics, and in recent years, no national-level politician has been as committed to the labor movement as John Edwards. Labor is of particular interest to me, but the simple fact of movement involvement is as important to me as the specific issue. And not just working with issue groups, but working with groups in which members, not bureaucrats, set the agenda and create the energy.

On the issues, my support for Edwards derives from domestic more than foreign policies. If he had not strongly repudiated his Iraq vote, I could not consider supporting him, and that vote continues to be a blot on his record. But he has been speaking consistently and strongly against the war for some time now, and the other candidates I have most seriously considered are imperfect here too.

My greatest concerns about Edwards center on some strategic questions. Plenty has been written at this site about the problems with Edwards' decision to take public financing. I think it was a mistake that could needlessly weaken his general-election candidacy and that will not take the money out of the race, instead shifting it into less transparent entities. But I don't think it's a disqualifier.

Then there's his problem with the press. As Hunter wrote a few months ago,

Where Edwards has fallen flat is in his relations with the press, which from this far-off vantage point seem dismal, or at least aggressively apathetic.
--snip--
This isn't a small point. If the press decides to bury a candidate, he gets buried.

I saw this in person in August. I had a brief interview with Edwards, and the man I saw then was flatter and less engaged than the man I've seen in campaign appearances. If it seemed to be an anomaly - that I'd gotten him when he was tired, that he didn't feel a need to put on all his charm for a blogger - that would be one thing. I wasn't personally offended that when a major presidential candidate gave me (me, seriously?) an individual interview, he didn't suck up to me. If anything, it's kinda nice that he gives more attention and energy to people in his audiences. But unfortunately, from what I hear he's often disengaged with reporters, and it is reflected in the treatment he gets. With many more people exposed to him through the media than through personal appearances, that's a problem.

These concerns are real, and they've kept me teetering for a while. Most of all, I want the nomination to be decided so I can commit myself wholeheartedly to a candidate and work with all of you to obliterate the Republican nominee on November 4, 2008. But taken as a whole - not just the candidate as an individual, not just the policies, but people around him (David Bonior is a big plus for me), and the kind of politics built into the campaign - and because I have to make one choice, for me, it's John Edwards.

Categories: Politics
14:43
  • Do you ever wonder which campaign ads are being run in different states? You can check out a collection of this year's campaign ads here.  Interested in looking at some famous campaign ads throughout history? The Living Room Candidate has your fix.
  • Despite rumors to the contrary, Mayor Bloomberg insits he isn't running for president.  We all know how politicians like to keep to their word, right?
  • Senator Obama on potential voting issues in 2008:  "If for any reason this thing is close, we will fight it tooth and nail till the end. The nice thing is, I'm a voting-rights attorney as well as a civil rights attorney."
  • Freshman Representative John Yarmuth(KY-03) on Iraq:

    Yarmuth says he’s made the right votes on Iraq, tying war funding to a draw down of American troops, putting pressure on President Bush.

    "Many of the people who have gone to Iraq in recent weeks have come back and said that the citizens are saying one of the reasons there is less violence right now is that they all understand that we’re leaving."

  • Ever loyal to his Republican base, Connecticut for Lieberman Senator Joe Lieberman will begin campaigning with Senator McCain.  
  • The NYT describes how Benazir Bhutto's shady and corrupt husband is seizing control of the family's party. - smintheus

Categories: Politics
13:52

Digby:

There are reasons why the country has been polarized, but it's not because of Al Gore or John Kerry. (And anyway, Gore won the popular vote by more than half a million votes. There was a little issue down in Florida that lost that one.)

I guess there's nothing wrong with running against former Democratic candidates, but it seems kind of gratuitous. Maybe it'll work, though. Everybody knows that divisive Democrats are the problem (although it's the first time anyone's made a point of that in a Democratic primary. Bold move.)

Ezra Klein:

On the down side, some of [Obama's] closing-weeks attacks are a bit, err, worrisome. Going after trial lawyers, for instance? Flooding the radio with ads claiming "Clinton would force people to buy insurance even if they can't afford it" and "Barack Obama will cover everyone"? The first two statements are simply conservative arguments being uttered by a progressive, the last isn't true. On some level, this is politics, and all these folks are trying to win, and you're not going to find any candidates pure as the driven snow and innocent as the newly-born. But Obama's comfort attacking liberals from the right is unsettling, and if he does win Iowa, it will not be a victory that either supporters or the media ascribe to the more progressive elements of his candidacy. Instead, they will search for the distinctions he's drawn, and, sadly, a number of those distinctions point away from the heart-quickening progressivism of much of this race, and back towards the old politics of centrist caution and status quo bias.

Matthew Yglesias:

[I]f Edwards wins in Iowa by running left and pissing people off, that'll be a good thing for the world. By contrast, while there's a lot I like about Barack Obama, if he wins Iowa it won't have been by running hard on the things I like best about him.

You know, I was going to vote for Obama and even announced that a week or so ago. But this is a great example of why it's best to wait and see how things shake out. Not being blinded by candidate worship, it's easier to sniff out the bullshit. And you have to have your head stuck deep in the sand to deny that Obama is trying to close the deal by running to the Right of his opponents. And call me crazy, but that's not a trait I generally appreciate in Democrats, no matter how much it might set the punditocracy's hearts a flutter.

I don't get to vote for another month, so we'll see how the next four weeks go. Certainly none of these guys have earned my vote yet.

Amazingly enough, none of them walk on water, no matter what their frenzied supporters might think.

Categories: Politics
12:46

It's about time:

DENVER (AP) — With the presidential race in full swing, Colorado and other states have found critical flaws in the accuracy and security of their electronic voting machines, forcing officials to scramble to return to the paper ballots they abandoned after the Florida debacle of 2000.

In December alone, top election officials in Ohio and Colorado declared that widely used voting equipment is unfit for elections.

"Every system that is out there, one state or another has found that they are no good," said John Gideon of the advocacy group Voters Unite. "Everybody is starting to look at this now and starting to realize that there is something wrong."

Acknowledging the problem of vulnerable and/or malfunctioning voting machines is the first step. Dealing with the aftermath of that acknowledgment is another issue entirely:

Now some states are turning back to paper — in some cases, just weeks before primary elections.

California, Ohio and Florida have chosen to use scanning machines that count paper ballots electronically.

In Colorado, which has spent $41 million in federal grants on electronic systems, many of the state's nearly 3 million registered voters — and the county officials who conduct the voting — don't know what their elections will look like in 2008.

Coffman and Colorado's clerks and recorders are in a dispute over whether to use mail-in ballots or cast paper ballots at polling places.

All fear time is running out.

"We look at each other and go, 'We have used this equipment in three elections. Why did it get taken to a test board and get decertified?'" said Debbie Green, who heads the Colorado County Clerks Association and is the clerk and recorder of rural Park County. "There are some counties having elections in January and February and they don't have any election equipment."

It's been seven long years since the infamous "hanging chads" of the 2000 Florida debacle, and the greatest democracy on earth still hasn't gotten that "democracy" part quite right.

It hasn't been, of course, from a lack of effort.  Members of Congress (most notably Representative Rush Holt and Senator Barbara Boxer, among a handful of dedicated others) have led the charge for voter-verified paper trails and the implementation of a ballot system that American voters can rely upon.  But election reform, as the Help America Vote Act of 2002 proved, can be a complicated issue, made more so by the fact that it gets little attention during the year.  After all, the integrity of the ballot isn't as sexy as some other items on the legislative agenda, and the media's eyes only seem to drift to the issue right around election day.

And so we continue to play this game. During the year, individual states endeavor to fix this vulnerable and broken system.  Molasses-like progress is made on a national level as various election reform bills slink through committees.  And as primaries and general elections roll around, Americans shuffle to the polls, touching screens that should never have been certified and trusting their votes to systems that have less verification than ATMs. The press, in turn, does it part, with video clips of long lines and blurbs about sporadic machine malfunctions. And as long as the margin of victory is large enough to make people nod their heads and move along, we engage in a national shrug and move along ourselves, deceiving ourselves that this fragile system based entirely on trust is worthy of repetition again.

Great progress has been made at the state level, but Congress needs to act with urgency to enact meaningful, comprehensive legislation that will restore confidence in our voting system. Most critically, there must be an acknowledgment that a patchwork system of voting methods--some of which are more secure and verifiable than others--is simply unacceptable.  It is not enough to call for reform. It's not even enough to pass bill requiring reform.  What is needed is an aggressive, sustained cooperation between state and federal governments to fully fund a renovation of America's voting procedures.

It's taken our nation seven years to accept that the process by which we exercise our right to vote is deeply and disturbingly flawed.  Let it not be another seven years before we fix it.

Categories: Politics
11:23

Psst, Barack, slamming John Kerry and Al Gore is what Republicans do. Not Democrats.

Making an argument for his electability, Obama said, "I don't want to go into the next election starting off with half the country already not wanting to vote for Democrats -- we've done that in 2004, 2000," according to a person at the event (rush transcript).

Funny, that. Last time I checked, Gore won his election. And really, is Obama going to argue now that the nation was divide because of the Democrats' fault? Is that the latest right-wing talking point he wants to peddle?

And Trippi slams the Obama campaign for its braggadocio.

Joe Trippi, a senior strategist for John Edwards, blasted Barack Obama's field program in Iowa on New Year's Eve, bluntly rebutting the Obama Campaign's attempt to promote its large crowds as a sign of momentum in the homestretch. "If the crowd numbers are that huge, and ours are this small, and they're going to kick our ass then there's no reason to explain it. Just show up and kick our ass. It's better if you don't say anything about it," said Trippi, who has overseen caucus campaigns for Howard Dean and Walter Mondale. "Anytime anybody starts throwing those kinds of things around, it's because they're in deep shit," he told The Nation.

And if anyone knows this, it's Trippi. Who can forget the Dean's campaign bragging on Iowa's Eve 2004?

Obama's recent embrace of right-wing talking points and wholesale embracing of Broderite "Unite 08" talking points suggests that he's giving up on Iowa and playing to the independent vote in New Hampshire. He has to stay close in Iowa to remain viable in New Hampshire, but I'm not sure why else he would decide to shit on Democrats at such a rapid clip these past few days.

Update: Hmm, the Obama partisans' response appears to be "it was a bogus quote". Well, tell that to ABC News which has independently reported the same quote. And Digby has more.

Categories: Politics

December 31, 2007

23:20

(Tonight's selections are brought to you courtesy of the Rescue Rangers. SusanG)

Looking forward to 2008, and the last year of President Bush's term?  Don't forget to look back. Louisiana 1976 reminds us that over two years ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and there is much work yet to be done in Dear kos: Remember New Orleans.

Tonight's Rescue Rangers are taylormattd, srkp23, Shayera, vcmvo2 (extra thanks for extra help), watercarrier4diogenes, YatPundit making his Ranger debut and Avila as editor.

sardonyx has Top Comments: Life, the Universe, and Everything Edition.

Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve. Please promote your own favorite diaries in this open thread.

Categories: Politics
23:07

Polling the Iowa caucuses is notoriously difficult, and while none nailed the entrance poll results in 2004, the Des Moines Register's effort came closest by far:

Just hours ago, the Register released its final poll of the contest:

Des Moines Register. 12/27-30. Likely Democratic caucusgoers. (11/25-28 results)

Obama 32 (28)
Clinton 25 (25)
Edwards 24 (23)

Past performance is no guarantee of future results, and all that jazz. It's a poll, and one that doesn't seem to pick up the Edwards surge we've seen in other polls. The Edwards campaign is defensive about the results, which I guess is understandable but whatever. It's all spin at this point. This thing is tight enough that the second-choices can push anyone over the top. This poll has Richardson at 6% (much lower than in some other polls, which show him breaking into double digits), Biden at 4%, Dodd at 2%, and another 6% uncommitted. Throw in Kucinich's 1 percent, and we have 19 percent of caucus goers who can tip any of the top three candidates over the top. And that's assuming no deals are cut between candidates.

Despite the cheers of some candidates' supporters, and the wails of others, all this poll tells us is what all the other polls have told us -- any of the top three candidates can win, and anyone that tries to "predict" which one will do so has the same 1 in 3 chance of getting it right as anyone else.

Categories: Politics
23:04

(Bumped and happy new year to the east coast - MissLaura)

What are you looking forward to in the new year?

I'm looking forward to Netroots Nation and the Democratic National Convention.

I'm looking forward to having a nominee, and kicking Republican ass at all levels in November.

Update: Happy new year to the, um, central time people.

Second update: Happy new year to the mountaineers.

Third update: Happy new year to the west coast.  And Hawaii, in case I'm not still up then.

Categories: Politics
22:08

Another open thread for all the people like me who had many fine options and chose not to dig out the driveway but to stay home with their computers.

Last year Elise and I made this drinking game:

If your representative is a Democrat, drink a glass of champagne.  If your representative is a Republican, say "I'll do whatever it takes to win next time" and do a shot of hard liquor.

If you donated to one Blue Majority candidate this year take one drink. Take one additional drink for each Blue Majority candidate you donated to this year.

Take one drink for each time you canvassed in 20067 for a Democratic candidate.

Take one drink for each time you phone-banked in 20067 for a Democratic candidate.

If you have accused someone of personally insulting you at DKos take one drink. If you have written a diary about "civility" at DKos take 5 drinks.

Do a shot if you've ever visited Cheers & Jeers.

Do a shot if you've ever visited Top Comments.

Take three drinks if you've written a Letter to the Editor in the last month.

Take a small sip for every time you cursed Republicans today. (Just a small one, we don't want you unconscious for midnight!)

A couple updates for 2007:

DO NOT take any size of drink for every time a Democrat in Congress has said that this time they're going to stand firm and not give Bush what he wants, only to give Bush what he wanted within a week. We don't want to kill anyone.

If the number of recommends you've given to people who support your candidate is more than 3 times the number of recommends you've given to people who support other candidates, or the number of TRs you've given to people who support other candidates is more than 3 times the number you've given to people who support your candidate, slap yourself across the face. Make it good and hard.

So play, drink up, and tell us what you're doing.

Categories: Politics
21:35

In an interview today with BBC Urdu, the militant leader whom the Pakistan government accuses of having planned the assassination of Benazir Bhutto called for an independent investigation into the killing. From Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Pro-Taliban militants on Monday demanded an independent inquiry into the assassination of Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, according to a local media report.

The pro-democracy icon, 54, was killed last Thursday in a gun-and- suicide bomb attack that government officials claim was carried out by the followers of Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the newly formed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) (Taliban Movement Pakistan).

'The government is carrying out a propaganda campaign against Baitullah Mehsud and the Taliban is unfairly being alleged for the attack,' the militant group's spokesman Maulvi Omar told the BBC's Urdu service by telephone from undisclosed location.

He said any independent inquiry that was free from US and British influence would be acceptable for them.

Cernig comments...

Either Mehsud is playing an astute game of destabilisation or he really didn't order the killing.

Of course Mehsud wants his call for an independent inquiry to be interpreted as a mark of innocence. On the other hand, he could well be innocent of this particular murder. The allegation by Pakistani authorities that they intercepted a message from Mehsud congratulating the killers hasn't been corroborated by other intelligence agencies and certainly looks for all the world like an official stitch-up.

Bhutto supporters are skeptical of the reports' veracity. "We do not know if it is a genuine transcript or one created by the intelligence agencies," says PPP party spokesman Farhatullah Babar. Mehsud has become a convenient scapegoat in recent terrorist attacks, sometimes standing in when investigators turn up empty handed.

My guess is that this interview is intended mainly to stir up further unrest in Pakistan against Pervez Musharraf and to paint his opposition to an international investigation as evidence of a conspiracy.

Stranger and stranger.

Categories: Politics
20:35

I know the "War on New Years" made this year's celebrations seem tenuous at times, but we somehow pushed back those forces of darkness and saved our precious champagne-soaked holiday. Yeay! I'll claim credit!

So a big adios to this one; bring 2008 on!

Be safe.

Categories: Politics
18:50

Ron Paul says some of his best friends are black.

It just happens, Tim, that I get more support from black people today than any other Republican candidate, according to some statistics.

First of all, "[more] than any other Republican candidate" is probably the lowest bar ever set.

Second of all, do they know about his history of racism? (Hilariously, some Paulbots are claiming that the Ron Paul Political Report wasn't written or edited by, well, Ron Paul. That the piece in question was written by a staffer. If so, was a retraction printed in a subsequent edition of the newsletter? If not, the excuse doesn't fly.)

Third of all, while he's clamped down his overt racism, it's still bubbling near the surface:

MR. RUSSERT: I was intrigued by your comments about Abe Lincoln. “According to Paul, Abe Lincoln should never have gone to war; there were better ways of getting rid of slavery.”

REP. PAUL: Absolutely. Six hundred thousand Americans died in a senseless civil war. No, he shouldn’t have gone, gone to war. He did this just to enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic. I mean, it was the–that iron, iron fist.

MR. RUSSERT: We’d still have slavery.

REP. PAUL: Oh, come on, Tim. Slavery was phased out in every other country of the world. And the way I’m advising that it should have been done is do like the British empire did. You, you buy the slaves and release them.

And:

MR. RUSSERT: You would vote against the Civil Rights Act if, if it was today?

REP. PAUL: If it were written the same way, where the federal government’s taken over property–has nothing to do with race relations [...]

it has to do with the Constitution and private property rights.

Follow this link for a full evisceration of these ridiculous (and very much fringe) views.

Finally, given the comments and emails from the Paulbots, I'm led to believe that they support Ron Paul for one reason and one reason only -- because he opposes the war and American imperialism. Well, if that's the case, why don't these people support Dennis Kucinich. True, I don't think much of Dennis, but at least his anti-war creds aren't sullied by noxious views on any number of other issues.

Update: Oh, another point since some Paul supporters seem to think that Ron Paul is blameless in all the problems foisted on us by the GOP majorities this past decade and somehow he's the only one that can fix things: Ron Paul enabled the GOP congress, voting for Tom DeLay as majority leader during the DeLay era. He could've quit the GOP and gone Independent or Libertarian, but instead he choose to cast his lot with the warmongering and free-spending Republicans. Perhaps the $6,000 he received from DeLay's ARMPAC was enough to buy his loyalty?  

Categories: Politics
16:56

Enough to lie to them and slap them in the face. Twice just this week.

We take you back to July 20th...

Bush, July 20, 2007:

I’m joined by veterans and military families here to express support to our troops and their mission in Iraq. I want to thank you all for being here today. We’ve just finished a really good meeting. In our discussions, these folks had a message that all of us in Washington need to hear. It is time to rise above partisanship, stand behind our troops in the field, and give them everything they need to succeed. In February I submitted to Congress a Defense Department spending bill for the upcoming fiscal year that will provide funds to upgrade our equipment for our troops in Iraq and provides a pay raise for our military - a comprehensive spending request - that Congress has failed to act on.

Bush, May 16, 2007:

Military Pay: The Administration strongly opposes sections 601 and 606. The additional 0.5 percent increase above the President’s proposed 3.0 percent across-the-board pay increase is unnecessary.

That was Bush's "Statement of Administration Policy" on H.R. 1585, the "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008," the bill that contained the authorization for that pay raise.

Bush, December 28, 2007:

I am withholding my approval of H.R. 1585, the "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008," because it would imperil billions  of dollars of Iraqi assets at a crucial juncture in that nation's reconstruction efforts and because it would undermine the foreign policy and commercial interests of the United States.

[...]

The adjournment of the Congress has prevented my return of H.R. 1585 within the meaning of Article I, section 7, clause 2 of the Constitution. Accordingly, my withholding of approval from the bill precludes its becoming law. The Pocket Veto Case, 279 U.S. 655 (1929). In addition to withholding my signature and thereby invoking my constitutional power to "pocket veto" bills during an adjournment of the Congress, I am also sending H.R. 1585 to the Clerk of the House of Representatives, along with this memorandum setting forth my objections, to avoid unnecessary litigation about the non-enactment of the bill that results from my withholding approval and to leave no doubt that the bill is being vetoed.

And why was he vetoing authority for a pay raise for the troops, again?

To block the enactment of a provision in the bill that allowed former American prisoners of war held by the Saddam Hussein regime to recover damages for the torture they say they endured while serving under arms for the United States.

Bush is vetoing the military pay raise in order to keep American POWs who were tortured from recovering for their injuries.

Forget for a moment that he's trampling on the Constitution to do it. Forget asking how much more of this the Congress can take.

How much more "support" like this can the troops take?

Categories: Politics
16:10

I am really starting to see Obama as someone who will rush to embrace every right-wing talking point against every Democratic constituencies.

In one of his standard riffs, Obama asserts that his career choices -- community organizer, civil rights lawyer, elected official -- underscores his commitment to public service and to bringing about political and social change. He always mentions the lucrative job offers he turned down, but today he added a new line.

"That's why I didn't become a trial lawyer," Obama told the Newton audience -- a clear dig at Edwards, who made millions in the courtroom.

Apparently, trial lawyers can't have a commitment to public service and bringing about political and social change...

Categories: Politics
14:40

Surprise, surprise:

Mississippi Republican Rep. Roger Wicker will be named today as Gov. Haley Barbour's pick to replace former Sen. Trent Lott, according to sources both in Mississippi and Washington.
Barbour is expected to make the announcement this morning and Wicker has already submitted his letter of resignation from his 1st District House seat.

Wicker will become just the fifth man to represent Mississippi in the U.S. Senate since 1947, after James Eastland, John C. Stennis, Thad Cochran and Trent Lott. Wicker, 56, has served in Congress since 1994, having replaced his former boss, conservative Democrat Jamie Whitten (who had held the seat for 54 years).

Wicker was probably the safest, most conventional choice that Barbour could have made. It’s not bad for us, in that Barbour, at least, didn’t appoint a relative youngster like 32-year old Secretary of State Tate Reeves or 45-year-old Rep. Chip Pickering, both of whom could have held that seat forever and a day, as Wicker’s predecessors did.

What will happen next is not exactly clear. There should certainly be a special election for MS-01 scheduled within 60 days, and the election must take place within 60 days after that. There has not yet been any speculation on who will run for this newly vacant seat from either party. The district is very Republican, R +10, but conservative Democrats are somewhat viable here, having picked up two State Senate seats last fall located within the First District.

As for the Senate seat, Mississippi law mandates that for a Senate vacancy, a special election be held within 90 days...except that on a technicality, Barbour believes he can schedule the special for Election Day 2008:

In an exception to the 90-day rule, the law says the governor "shall designate" the special election for the same day as the general election if a vacancy occurs the same calendar year as a statewide election. Mississippi had a statewide election earlier this month, so Barbour would be setting the special election for the next statewide election in 2008.

The secretary of state in Mississippi is Eric Clark, a third-term Democrat. His spokesman agreed that Barbour was using a technicality.

The Mississippi Democratic Party and Attorney General Jim Hood believe otherwise, however:

The Mississippi Democratic Party, however, said it expects Barbour to call an earlier election.

The law "makes clear that if Sen. Lott does indeed resign during this calendar year, as stated, then Gov. Barbour must call a special election for within 90 days of making a proclamation — which he must issue within 10 days of the resignation — and not on Nov. 4, 2008, as he has announced he intends to do," state Democratic Chairman Wayne Dowdy said.

AG Hood has made it clear that he is prepared to file suit if Barbour tries to avoid the earlier special election, so we will see what the courts do.

The Democratic candidate generally identified as the strongest for this seat, former Mississippi AG Mike Moore, opted out of the race in December. Next up on the list are former Governors Ronnie Musgrove and Ray Mabus. Musgrove has shown a great deal of interest in the race so far, and his polling numbers are fairly good: a Research 2000 poll conducted for Daily Kos showed him trailing Wicker 47-39, but that poll heavily undersampled African-Americans.

Another poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner showed Musgrove defeating Wicker, 48-34.

I haven’t seen any head-to-head polls involving Mabus and Wicker. If both former Governors opt out, AG Hood and former Agriculture Secretary and U.S. Rep. Mike Espy have been mentioned as possible candidates, but there’s been little more than speculation about either of them.

Musgrove should announce his plans fairly soon, and that will certainly give a somewhat clearer picture of what the race will look like.

Of course, we don’t know when the Senate special will actually be held at this point.

Stay tuned.

Categories: Politics
13:36
  •  Reminder: Today is the last day of the fundraising quarter! If there are any Democrats you've been meaning to give to, now is the time. If you need inspiration, check out some of the excellent candidates on the Blue Majority list, or just peruse ActBlue. -DavidNYC
  •  Dahlia Lithwick over at Slate documents The Bush Administration's Dumbest Legal Arguments of the Year.  - SusanG
  • A list of overused cliches and mind-numbingly overused phrases is offered up in a university's annual list of words most deserving to be banned. It's a "perfect storm" for word geeks. - SusanG
  •  The Ball Goes Green:

    The New Year's Eve ball in New York's Times Square is
    celebrating its 100th birthday by going green, after being revamped with
    energy-efficient lights.

    The new 6ft (1.8m) ball, weighing about 1,100lbs (500kg), is covered
    with 9,576 light-emitting diodes that use the same amount of electricity
    as 10 toasters.

     - Plutonium Page

  •  Just when we thought the 2008 election was shaping up to be (insert name here) against (insert name here), Mike Bloomberg is saying that he is considering a run as an independent in 2008.
  •  California State Senator, Don Perata, was  carjacked in his own district.  The thief got away in his state-issued vehicle.
  • Over the weekend, we featured some pollster.com pieces about Iowa polling that raised some questions. Today, Mark Blumenthal addresses the trend estimates with Q&A about "what are the different colored lines?", and "how does this match the RCP average you often hear about?" - DemFromCT
  • In Florida, Republican state Senate President Ken Pruitt is accused of massive corruption.  - smintheus

Categories: Politics
11:26

Four years and eight months after the mission was accomplished in Iraq, 2007 ends as:

...the deadliest for the U.S. military since the 2003 invasion, with 899 troops killed.

But apparently this is good news, since fatalities have decreased in recent months, with only 21 U.S. troops and 710 Iraqi civilians killed in December.  This brings the total U.S. fatalities for Bush's fiasco to 3,902. And the Iraqis, now that someone has decided to count their deaths?    

For the year, 18,610 Iraqis were killed. In 2006, the only other full year an AP count has been tallied, 13,813 civilians were killed.

It's not quite clear how you can have nearly 5,000 more deaths this year than last, while:

Iraqi civilian deaths have tracked that decline and overall violence across the country is down roughly 60 percent...

...but who are we to argue with success?  

And while crediting George Bush's escalation of troops for all of this progress, the article fails to mention that the stated purpose of his, "surge," has failed, with the political benchmarks, once vital for success in Iraq, long forgotten.  But if we keep our fingers crossed, and if three former and current declared enemies of the United States cooperate, 2008 can be just as successful.  All we need is for Muqtada al-Sadr to continue to rein in his 10,000 strong Mahdi Army, for Iran to continue to lessen their aid to Shiite extremists, and for 56,000 former Sunni insurgents to find a job.  

Of the more than 70,000 fighters in the awakening councils, only 20 percent are expected to be absorbed into the Iraqi security forces. The rest are to receive job training through a joint $300 million program Iraqi and American officials are creating.

That program is in its beginning stages and there are few details about how it will be carried out, but analysts say it must succeed or the Sunni fighters who do not join Iraq's military may sell their services to the insurgents.

They're now in the process of creating a plan that, "must succeed"?  Shades of the Bush administration's plans for postwar Iraq.  

You can almost taste victory, can't you?

Categories: Politics
09:57

Where would an avowed Creationist get to spout unchallenged about scientific accuracy, let alone biology, with any credibility? If you're Mike Huckabee in America 2007, that would be on Meet the Press this weekend:

MR. RUSSERT: Some Americans believe that life does not begin at conception, and that it's...
GOV. HUCKABEE: Well, scientifically I think that's almost...a point that you couldn't argue. How, how could you say that life doesn't begin at conception...
MR. RUSSERT: Right. Do you respect that view? [..]
GOV. HUCKABEE: I respect it as a view, but I don't think it has biological credibility.

Imprecise use of the term conception has served as the fulcrum for simplistic, semantic arguments against reproductive choice for decades. The typical usage one encounters among anti-choice proponents and religious opportunists is that life begins at conception. The statement is often made with complete confidence, as though it's the uncontroversial scientific truth when in fact it's nothing of the sort.

Human fertilization, what most right-to-lifers seem to define as the start of life, AKA conception, is a state of transition between two human gametes, both of which are quite alive.

Evil Wiki -- To reach the oocyte, the sperm must pass through the corona radiata and the zona pellucida; two layers covering and protecting the oocyte from fertilization by more than one sperm. ... [...] When the sperm penetrates the zona pellucida, the cortical reaction occurs: cortical granules inside the secondary oocyte fuses with the plasma membrane of the cell, causing enzymes inside these granules to be expelled by exocytosis to the zona pellucida. This in turn causes the glyco-proteins in the zona pellucida to cross-link with each other, making the whole matrix hard and impermeable to sperm.

A lot has to happen before the centriole in the sperm remnant helps create a spindle, where the first full set of diploid chromosomes begins to assemble. That's a whole 'nother another list of complex, exquisite, processes ... Where does one draw the line?

There are probably developmental scientists and medical researchers reading this and groaning at my laughable simplicity so far. And that’s partly because they know human fertilization is a complex, transient, and continuous process in which most every microbial actor starts out alive and ends up dying, while a tiny handful sometimes go on to produce a blastocyst. From start to finish, only the slimmest fraction of gametes make it through fusion and implantation, and even then they often fall prey to early rejection or later miscarriage.

In simplest terms, you generally start with two living things and end up with one, so clearly at least one was lost along the way even under the best circumstances, eh? The fact is what usually happens during fertilization is death and destruction on the scale of a micro-genocide, with an occasional lone pair of improbable survivors fusing in the midst of the chaos. But scientifically, if you want to be simple and accurate, there is not a single step in early human development that goes from non-life to life.

That’s just a sample of what science says. If Huckabee claims that science says anything remotely different or pro-life friendlier, he's either fabricating expedient stories or parroting false soundbites; or possibly just imagining things.

Categories: Politics
09:07

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE...

2007 Flashback, Part II

For those of you who missed Part I of our 2007 Year-in-Review (Jan.-March), a brief Review-in-Review: Walter ReedGate... U.S. AttorneyGate... TortureGate... SurgeGate... Saddam's Botched HangingGate... iPhoneGate... Robert Gates.

The remaining nine months of the year saw Republicans saying cute things like "Double Guantanamo" and "Waterboarding 4 Evuh!" Two Democratic debates scheduled to air on Fox News were cancelled because...well, because they were scheduled to air on Fox News. We lost Vonnegut and Gilliard. Tony Blair turned into a kidney pudding-eating surrender monkey by announcing the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq and his own withdrawal from 10 Downing Street. America finally---FINALLY!---got the "War Czar" we needed, and he immediately set out to perfect the 'gay bomb' that would "end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy." And Congress was...well, Congress.

Meanwhile Bush, Cheney, Rice, McCain and Lieberman all flew to Iraq to proclaim how safe it was...if you can call flying in steep and fast and unannounced under the cover of darkness so you don’t get blown out of the sky "safe." And General David Petraeus did indeed help calm some violence over there so that the Iraqi parliament could Get some work done sit on their asses and bitch about everything and then take the entire month of August off while your tax dollars and mine paid for our troops to hold down the fort.

Oh, and we also found out that all the saber-rattling toward Iran was bullshit and Bush knew it. Another fine addition to his legacy. I think his presidential library will end up being scaled down to the size of a phone booth.

But if you thought 2007 was nutso, just wait 'til we close the books on 2008. Buy yourself a good pair of waders...the shit's gonna get deeper. And yet, through it all, I remain an innocent [flutter flutter flutter] doe-eyed optimist. Maybe...just maybe...this'll be the year when Atrios makes me a Wanker of the Day.

Without further ado, Cheers and Jeers revisits the final nine months of 2007 in There's Moreville... [Swoosh!!]  Right now!  [GONG!!]

Categories: Politics