Chris Bowers confirms that Clinton campaign staffers in Pennsylvania are emphasizing the Pastor Wright controversy as a knock on Obama's electability. Adding to the certainty, the New York Times reports today that although Clinton is not talking about Wright openly, "some allies of Mrs. Clinton said they were privately pushing the issue with key party members to lift her candidacy" and at least one prominent surrogate, Lanny Davis, "has publicly challenged Mr. Obama to answer questions about his views on racist speech and Mr. Wright."
As far as Democrat's White House hopes go, racial strife is the nuclear option and yet Clinton's people seem determined to push the red button. I am truly baffled at the Clinton campaign's blindness to the long-term implications here.
Matt Stoller reports on Open Left that challenger Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) has signed on to the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq, spearheaded by Darcy Burner (D-WA) and now supported by 22 additional House and Senate challengers around the country.
I read about the Responsible Plan on Open Left last week and immediately contacted all of Ohio's Democratic Congressional challengers about it, as I indicated in my comment here. At the Take Back America conference this week I attended the "Out of Iraq" session where the plan was unveiled, and was extremely impressed with the thought that went into it and the fairly concrete nature of the proposal. [I also met Darcy Burner when we participated in a training session for candidates about using the internet to further their campaigns, and I told her then that I thought O'Neill was likely to commit. Hopefully some of our other challengers will also see the value in this proposal.]
Although the Iraq War isn't listed as the top issue in polling on voters' concerns recently, that is misleading because the war is intrinsically bound up with the economic collapse that now polls as the #1 issue. And voters continue to regard the war as a mistake by a large margin, and a majority want the troops to come home if it can be done in a reponsible manner. Hence, the enormous appeal and fundamental importance of approaching this issue in a direct, thoughtful, informed way.
Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) is crowing about internal polling (always to be taken with a grain of salt) that shows her at only 51%, even in her base counties (Clermont and Warren), revealing just how precarious her position is despite her incumbency. Yes, Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) comes in at 33% in Schmidt's polling, indicating some damage from the insanely negative and misleading assault on her by primary opponent Steve Black, but Schmidt barely cracks the critical 50% line even without a serious primary challenge. Wulsin received 14,074 more votes than Wulsin in the March 4th primary, a troubling sign for the incumbent.
Although Wulsin hasn't been picked up by the DCCC yet, I expect it to happen. Strong institutional support was signaled by the visit yesterday of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who said "Dr. Wulsin is committed to serving the families of Southern Ohio and addressing the issues that matter most - solving our healthcare crisis, bringing our soldiers home from Iraq, and working with other members of Congress to invest in creating good jobs. I am dedicated to helping Vic win this November because we need her skills and experience in Washington.”
A gruesome profile in this week's edition of Cleveland Scene, titled "Mo' Money, Mo' Justice," spells out the highly partisan past and proclivity for favoring contributors of Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O'Connor (R), opposed in her bid for a second term by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Russo (D-Cleveland Heights).
O'Connor lost four judicial bids in the 1980s before she was appointed to the bench in Summit County in 1993, stepping down less than two years later to be appointed Summit County Prosecutor. She then displayed a rabid intensity for prosecuting petty crime, while declining prosecution of an apparently strong white collar case (involving kickbacks to secure the sale of medical insurance to the City of Cuyahoga Falls) in which the potential defendant was a contributor to the Republican mayor. She was also cited by the Ohio Election Commission for illegally soliciting employees for a Republican Christmas fund-raiser.
After a few years as Lieutenant Governor under Bob Taft, O'Connor ran for the Supreme Court despite having less than two years on the bench. She helped her campaign by signaling her willingness to uphold GOP-sponsored "tort reform" legislation, and received huge contributions from doctors and insurance companies. She also was the beneficiary of enormous indendent expenditures in support of her candidacy, including $2 million spent on TV ads by an organization run by for-profit charter school tycoon David Brennan.
In 2003, as the featured speaker at a conference luncheon sponsored by the Ohio Medical Association, O'Connor pretty much spelled out her allegiance to her contributors, saying "What I will never forget and always want to recall in sharp focus is the support I received from physicians in the state of Ohio." She subsequently joined in the high court's decision upholding statutory limitations on damages in tort cases.
The MCDAC Blog notes a Survey USA poll released yesterday, showing Clinton ahead of McCain in Ohio by 50% to 44%, and Obama behind by 50% to 43%. Among white voters, Clinton is tied with McCain at 48% and McCain leads Obama 56% to 37%.
This poll was taken after the Pastor Wright ruckus began but before Obama's major speech on race. This is the baseline for where things stand. The speech by itself will help but won't get Obama all the way back. Much more hard work by the Obama campaign and his supporters will be necessary to recover his support among white voters over the long term.
UPDATE: Looking into today's polling a bit further, it's worth noting that Obama's favorability rating plunged in a Pennsylvania poll released today. His favorability number dropped from 57% to 47% from a prior poll on month ago, and his unfavorability climbed from 16% to 25%. Like the SUSA poll in Ohio, this was taken before Tuesday's speech.
In the daily Gallup tracking poll, Clinton has edged ahead of Obama to a 49% to 42% lead, a trend that was not affected by the speech, and McCain now leads Obama by four points and Clinton by three.
The 7th District congressional race is an important open-seat contest that needs to get much more attention from the blogosphere, activists, donors, and the DCCC.
We have a smart, capable, and determined candidate in attorney Sharen Neuhardt (D-Yellow Springs). She recognizes the challenge she faces and is committed to raising the money and hiring the skilled keep necessary to running a competitive campaign.
Yesterday the Neuhardt campaign announced the hiring of Elizabeth Heller Allen, former vice president of marketing and communications for Premier Health Partners in Dayton, as its communications director. She is a veteran of 30 years in communications for top companies like Dell, Staples, Raytheon, Loral (now Lockheed Martin), and Citicorp, and she worked on the 2004 presidential campaign in Missouri.
"Elizabeth brings experience and expertise to this campaign," Neuhardt said in a press release. "Her knowledge of the defense and healthcare industries will help us develop detailed plans that will work for the citizens and the businesses of the 7th district." The new communications director praised the candidate and anticipated a strong campaign:
"Sharen is a natural leader and clear thinker," said Allen. "As a pro business Democrat, she can bring people together to solve problems, like how to grow good paying jobs in the district."
The workers in Florida's fields get only poverty wages under an antiquated piece-rate pay system, get no overtime or benefits, and endure physical abuse and miserable conditions. Even worse, there have been six successful federal prosecutions of farm labor operations for involuntary servitude in Florida over the past decade, with a seventh just initiated, involving well over 1,000 workers and more than a dozen farm employers. Read more about this issue and the petition on the AFL/CIO Blog.
McDonald's and Yum! Foods have joined petition sponsor Coalition of Immokalee Workers in efforts to improve farm labor conditions, but Burger King and others have refused. The petition calls on Burger King and other food industry leaders to pay a penny more per pound for tomatoes and ensure that the increase is passed on to tomato pickers in the form of increased wages, and to work with the Coalition to establish and enforce a human rights-based code of conduct, including zero tolerance for forced labor.
During the day we will hear from Ohio's Democratic members of Congress and challenger candidates on today's dreadful anniversary. (Just imagine for a moment that we could have known on March 19th 2003 that the war would drag on this long, with the greater number of casualties occurring long after the initial invasion!) Here is a part of what Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Twp) had to say this morning:
“I support our troops and am proud of the work they have done. However, unity in Iraq must be determined by the people of Iraq. Our country has paid an extraordinarily high price in lives lost and dollars spent on this war. It is past time to responsibly deploy our troops out of Iraq and focus on fighting terrorism, winning the war in Afghanistan, and tending to the domestic needs of our citizens. ...
... The time has come for Iraqis to take responsibility for the security and stability of their country. The most effective way to motivate the necessary political progress and spur greater assistance by U.S. Allies in the Gulf region and beyond is to establish a timetable to immediately begin redeploying our troops from Iraq.”
From Victoria Wulsin in OH-02:
... The men and women of our armed forces have done everything we have asked, serving honorably and bravely; but our leaders have failed them, failed us and failed the Iraqi people.
We have lost 3,990 American soldiers in a war that now costs us $12 billion each month. The Bush Administration set 18 benchmarks for the Iraqi government before the surge, but only 3 have been met. The price of oil has tripled since March, 2003 and still the President and his allies refuse to change course.
Constitution Party gubernatorial candidate Marvin "Pro-Life" Richardson of Idaho has legally changed his name to just "Pro-Life." No first name, just Pro-Life.
The candidate's 10-year-old son has Pro-Life as a middle name, and "Pro-Life" is a long-standing nickname for the militant anti-choice activist. However, his hopes of appearing on the ballot this year as Pro-Life were dashed by elections officials, since he was already certified as a candidate under his former name and the ballots are being printed.
On today's fifth anniverary of our nations most calamitous and tragic strategic blunder we are treated to the obscene spectacle of George Bush hailing "undeniable successes" in Iraq and arguing that the troop surge has "opened the door to a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror," even as violence escalates, political progress in Iraq stalls, and this tragic and misguided occupation saps our military and makes us less safe.
A CBS poll released yesterday reveals that only 29% of Americans agree with Bush and McCain that the results of the Iraq war were worth it, while 64% say they were not. Massive anti-war demonstrations are planned for today in Washington and smaller events will occur across the nation. Yet Bush continues to demean opposition to the war as "some in Washington" who "still call for retreat."
The troop surge, the purpose of which was to engender political progress, has failed. What McCain and the compliant media call "successes" is the utterly predictable and strategically worthless truism that greater troop presence means fewer attacks where and while the troops are present. Remove the extra troops and the violence will return, as Bush implicitly concedes by warning against troop drawdowns. The purpose of the troop surge was to engender political progress in Iraq that has not occurred, therefore the surge is a failure. As Arianna Huffington pointed out in remarks at the Take Back America conference this morning, the only thing about the surge that is working is the phrase "The surge is working."
Just announced this afternoon, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D-Columbus) has been recognized by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation for her political courage in taking dramatic steps to assure voter confidence in Ohio elections:
“As we prepare to cast our ballots for the next President of the United States, our confidence in the integrity and reliability of the voting process has never been more important,” said Caroline Kennedy, President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. “Secretaries of State Debra Bowen and Jennifer Brunner have each demonstrated exceptional leadership in working to ensure that voting systems provide a full and accurate count of the vote. Our democracy depends on voter trust. Debra Bowen and Jennifer Brunner’s efforts to earn that trust have made them true profiles in courage.
The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award is presented annually to public servants who have made "courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences," a phrase which describes Brunner's actions well. It was created in 1989 to honor President Kennedy’s commitment and contribution to public service, and is named after his famous book about eight senators who took principled stands for unpopular positions.
The committee that selected Brunner includes two Republican U.S. Senators, Thad Chochran (R-MS) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), as well as Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Caroline Kennedy and ten other dignitaries.
Jennifer Brunner has endured much criticism but stuck to her guns in ordering that paper ballots be provided to voters who request them and calling for the replacement of electronic voting systems in all 53 counties that use them before November. This is a particularly appropriate and well-deserved award.
Light posting today while I am in Washington DC at the Take Back America 2008 conference. I am here with a delegation from Ohio sponsored by Progressive Majority, the national 527 whose mission is building a progressive "farm team" by recruiting and supporting good progressive candidates for local and state office. Also in the group are Assistant House Democratic Leader Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) and State Rep. Edna Brown (D-Toledo), who are participating in panels, and State Rep. Jennifer Brady (D-Westlake) and candidates Bob Belovich (OH-17) and Matt Patten (OH-18), along with the Ohio Progressive Majority team of David Dettman and Tiff Wolf.
Rasmussen Reports has a new general election poll in Ohio, showing that McCain has jumped from a statistical tie to a significant lead over both Clinton and Obama (numbers in parens are from 2/20, before the Ohio primary):
46% (42%) McCain
40% (41%) Obama
46% (46%) McCain
40% (43%) Clinton
I hear some people saying that the protracted primary season is good for the Democratic Party because it keeps the media focus on the Democratic candidates and contested primary elections mobilize the base, but what I'm seeing all around me are accusations and recriminations and Democrats quarreling with Democrats, and this poll doesn't surprise me at all. (The pollster calls McCain "the luckiest man on the planet since Ringo Starr.") We need to get this thing wrapped up and get our artillery pointed in the right direction.
It's interesting that Clinton's numbers have dropped more, perhaps reflecting the negative character of her campaign here, but the difference is very small.
"It's the economy, stupid."
There are some good aspects to higher gasoline prices. Most countries in the world (Western Europe, the U.K. and Scandinavia, for example,) pay a LOT more for gasoline than we do. It promotes energy efficiency, public transportation, alternative fuels and conservation. All of which are very desirable, as long as they are phased in, over time, in a rational way, that does NOT cripple the lives of low income citizens. Higher gas costs actually make sense, so long as it does not destroy the ability of working Americans to get to their jobs and the grocery store, nor for senior citizens to get to medical care.
But, of course, here in Bush League USA, instead we give billions (That's "billions" with a "b", kids!) of your dollars to the fossil fuel companies, who are among the most profitable businesses in the UNIVERSE already-- and they call it an "Energy Policy."
So how does the dead tree media and the Voice of the Conglomerates cover this story? By endlessly parroting BALONEY from the Lundberg Lies (er, I mean "Letter.") This is the moral equivalent of a rapist telling their victim "it ain't gonna hurt and yer gonna like it."
The excuses they offer to get Americans to willingly accept soaring pump prices are complete manure.
Here's the truth: demand is down, way down. Americans just can't afford to drive. Truckers can't afford to run. Consumer confidence has completely tanked and discretionary spending (at least by anyone in MY tax bracket) is in the toilet.
On the other hand, supply is no problem. There have NOT been any meaningful disruptions (despite the lies from Lundberg) and OPEC has not cut back. The only major drain on supply is the multi-million gallons a day going to the occupation of Iraq.
So why are prices at the pump suddenly soaring through the roof? What about the neo-cons constant blithering about the wonderful power of the free market?
The answer is rapacious greed combined with speculation.
The problem with the reactionary claim that "the market is the answer" bloviating is that nameless, faceless multi-billionaires can MAKE THEIR OWN MARKET. It's all about the collapse of the American dollar versus every other currency in the whole freakin' world. Greed combined with speculation.
Today, we are suffering through the inevitable result of the Shrub Economy. There are no decent jobs for American workers and yet we have a whole new class that pundits are calling the "Super Rich." Real inflation is soaring, yet economic growth is in the tank.
As I mentioned, our "energy policy" is just a multi-billion dollar give away to those super rich. Our healthcare policy is a multi-billion dollar give away to Big Pharma and Big Medicine. Our farm policy is a multi-billion dollar give away to huge agri-business conglomerates at the expense of family farms. Our newest banking laws (written by banking lobbyists) give billions to the banks at the expense of consumers.
Do you notice a trend?
With GOP having effective control of Congress and the Shrub in the White House, the result are the worst economic times in a generation.
Enough is enough.
Here is Barack Obama's video response to the ruckus over controversal sermons by the recently retired pastor of his church:
State Rep. Linda Bolon (D-Columbiana) announced yesterday that the C-SPAN "Campaign 2008" nationwide bus tour will include a stop at East Palestine High School, 360 West Grant Street, on Monday, March 17th.
“I’m very excited,” Rep. Bolon said. “This is a wonderful opportunity to not only inform voters of their choices, but also to empower teachers and enrich civics education so that our young people can develop an appreciation and an understanding of our political system.”
East Palestine High School will host a special event to coincide with the C-SPAN bus’ arrival. The event begins at 8:30 a.m. with a short introduction by Rep. Bolon and will include short speeches by Columbiana County Republican Party Chairman David Johnson and State Sen. Jason Wilson (D-Columbiana). The bus is scheduled to be parked at the high school until approximately 11:30 a.m.
These events, in partnership with Comcast, are part of the bus’s inaugural “Road to the White House” tour, named after C-SPAN’s renowned political program that marks its 20th year on the air in 2008.
The 45-foot mobile production studio is on the campaign trail to promote and enhance C-SPAN’s comprehensive political coverage. It is currently traveling to major political events such as candidate debates and speeches in primary states, touring state capitols, and conducting educational programs for teachers and students. Since its January 2007 launch, the bus has been to 29 state capitals, 71 universities, and 95 schools where 278 elected officials, 2,750 teachers, more than 21,650 students, and four presidential candidates have been on board.
On this Tuesday, March 18, 2008 the moratorium against utility companies shutting off heat or lights to residential households will end. However, as you might have noticed, our state has been getting pounded by storms, cold weather and raging energy costs.
One program which was set to shut down until summer has been extended. The "E-HEAP" or Emergency Heating Assistance Program, has been extended through April 30 to allow more low and moderate income households to apply for help with their bills. This program can electronically send up to $175 to utility companies to prevent shut offs.
This program covers households with incomes up to $175 of the poverty line. For example, a household of four can earn as much as $36,137.50 per year and qualify.
In addition, there are some county programs that go up to 200% of the Federal poverty level and can pay even more. Senator Sherrod Brown deserves credit for pushing to expand funding for these programs. With so many of Ohio's citizens fighting to stay in their homes, every bit of assistance makes a difference.
This week's Roundup from the 50 State Blog Network:
After an unexpected absence last week, I'm back and so is the 50 State Blog Roundup.
How's the tension at your favorite national blog community? Take a break from all the nastiness and drop by your favorite state blog for a change. Look in on our statewide and local races.....just stay away from the presidential primary threads. They bring a whole new meaning to March madness!
Here are a few posts from last week and the roundup for March 14, 2008:
Barack Obama's ad endorsing Bill Foster for Denny Hastert's abandoned seat in the 14th District caps an exciting week of new endorsements and good news in the polls
mal contends argues that as a superdelegate, U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin should reject Hillary's burn-down-the-house strategy and throw her support to Obama
7th District special election news includes coverage of the latest debate
Senator Tom Harkin introduces The Complete Streets Act of 2008 to promote street design that benefits all users, not just motorists
Here's a fun map toy for a Friday afternoon. The DCCC is using Google Map technology to host an interactive map of targeted House races. The link above is to the Great Lakes region.
You click on the little map pointers to get into on the races. Just one problem -- the Ohio map doesn't say who the Democrats are when you click on the Republican-held targeted races (OH-01, OH-02, and OH-14). Hey, c'mon, our primary is over. Get the names and data in there!
This story at Bloomberg.com today indicates that although Clinton is slightly ahead of Obama in support from superdelegates, Obama has the momentum because more have broken for him recently than for Clinton.
At the end of the story, we find out that unannounced Ohio superdelegate (and Ohio House Democratic Leader) Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus) is under heavy pressure from her mother to support Obama:
Joyce Beatty, the minority leader of the Ohio state legislature, has heard from Clinton; her husband, former President Bill Clinton; their daughter Chelsea; Obama; and his wife, Michelle.
Beatty, the first black female minority leader in Ohio's history, is torn by competing allegiances. While her district in Columbus voted for Obama, Clinton won overwhelmingly statewide.
The toughest pressure she's feeling isn't coming from the campaigns. With a mother who supports Obama and a father who supports Clinton, she will eventually have to choose between her parents.
"I think my mother puts a lot more pressure on me than anyone," she said. "I have to look at her every day."
The subscription-only publication Roll Call has a story today about the race, called "Wulsin Waiting for Full Party Support," apparently about OH-02 not being added to the DCCC "Red-to-Blue" list the other day when OH-01 was included with 13 other challenger races. (The DCCC is expected to add more races to the list at a later date.) I haven't seen the full article, but Politics Extra reprints part of it in which former candidate Paul Hackett (D-Indian Hill) has some stinging words for current candidate Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill):
... Hackett said the consensus after last cycle — when Democrats won huge across the Buckeye State — was that if Wulsin “wasn’t able to do it in 2006, she can’t win it.”
Wulsin “has her own set of issues and problems and challenges just simply as a candidate,” he said. “In my humble opinion, she has not made the improvements that someone typically would have made if they are running their third campaign.” ...
“My concerns, on the one hand, is that Jean Schmidt has gotten much better,” Hackett said. “She’s not a dumb person. She’s a very hard-working person ... She’ll work anybody into the ground. She’s gotten, by my own personal observation, much better at the public aspects, if you will, of running for office.”
The office of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) has sent around an email listing the amendments to the fiscal 2009 Budget Resolution just passed by the U.S. Senate. Just take a moment to admire this list. Every single amendment is a solid measure to help the underserved, the middle class, and/or veterans. No pork, no nonsense. This is why we elected this guy -- he promised to fight for Ohio's middle class and he's doing it:
* An amendment to enhance manufacturing training.
* An amendment to provide $40 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which is the most immediate federal solution to the national food bank crisis.
* An amendment to create a reserve fund to allow for legislation that enhances the protection and safety of the nation’s food supply.
* An amendment to provide an additional $5 million to the military departments’ respective Boards for Correction of Military Records to expedite review of cases such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI).
* The Budget includes $6.0 billion in funding for the Department of Energy’s program for cleanup activities at the Mound and Piketon sites. Brown worked with a bipartisan group of Senators to increase the funding by $500 million more than the president’s proposed budget.
* An amendment to increase funding for the Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) grant program to $1.15 billion.
* An amendment to increase funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) by $2.6 billion.
* An amendment to provide tax relief to middle-class families and small businesses and to America’s troops and veterans.
* An amendment to increase funding for the Department of Agriculture by $1 million to provide public access to information about the sources of foods distributed through the school lunch program and other nutrition programs.
I spoke this morning to Toby Fallsgraff, campaign manager for Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell), who had heart bypass surgery on Tuesday.
"Bill is doing very well," Fallsgraff said. "I talked to him yesterday afternoon and he sounded very upbeat. He is off medication and will be out of the hospital Sunday morning."
Fallsgraff said he wouldn't be surprised if O'Neill puts up a fuss about wanting to attend Sunday's St. Patrick's Day "Primary Victory Celebration and Get Well Bill!" Brunch in person (details are here), but in all likelihood good medical judgment will prevail and O'Neill will be at home resting.
In any event, O'Neill is expected to be back on the campaign trail before his birthday (May 6th), and Fallsgraff is confident that we'll be seeing O'Neill in at least one parade on Memorial Day.
David Robinson (D), taking on entrenched incumbent Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Westerville), says that his campaign hasn't slowed down a bit since winning the primary last week.
"We're focusing on smart, efficient, assertive strategy for this campaign," Robinson wrote in an update to ODB. He has been discussing support needs with recently returned Iraq veterans, continuing outreach to the African American community, offering his expertise on climate change, and exploring the effect of progressive prison impact programs.
Also, Robinson will join other speakers at the Central Ohio Peace Network's (COPN) commemoration of the 5th Anniversary of the Iraq war on Wednesday, March 19 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Ohio Statehouse Atrium.
OK, now, Bill,
At this point, you now have the WORST patient on your hands that you have ever encountered; namely, your own darn self. Believe me buddy, "been dere." (Except I wound up with SIX stents in the ole ticker.)Those kids in Peds? Models of dignity and decorum compared to what you're gonna feel like for a while.
So in my effort to try and cheer you up, I got the greatest voices in Irish music to perform "TTWNMNBM" just for you (The Tune Whose Name Must Not Be Mentioned, of course.)
(h/t to the guys at Car Talk) And even though every time I say it Jeff (and Paul)(and Cindy)(and well, everybody) tries to slit their wrists with dull wooden spoons:
things will get better . And now, "The Leprechaun Brothers!"