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!"
A note to readers - my posting will be reduced over the next few days as I prep for and attend the "Take Back America" conference in Washington, DC. I will be participating in a panel called Online Communications: Using the Internet to Recruit and Communicate with Voters, Donors and the Press with Congressional candidate Darcy Burner (D-WA), Progressive Majority's Online Director Jeff Lucas, and Progress Now's Jen Caltrider, Executive Producer of ProgressTV & ProgressRadio. And, of course, attending a lot of great sessions with candidates and bloggers from all over the country.
I expect that some of the folks with front page privileges will step into the breach while I'm otherwise occupied!
The incredible Irish band Dervish tears into the Victoria Theater in Dayton tonight. This will be, hands down, the best REAL Irish music event happening anywhere in Ohio this weekend. Highly recommended. The Vic is a cool venue and the good people from CityFolk run a great concert series. Grab a ticket and go.
These cats are a force of nature. Cathy Jordan is a powder keg of a singer. As of this moment, tickets are still available. It's a little shocking that they have any seats left. Show time is 8:00 PM. Adult beverages will be available in the lobby and the band will be around for a proper "meet and great" after the show and between sets.
Seriously, if it's about the music, this is the place to be this weekend. This is a REAL Irish band that can just properly tear it up. Here's a video clip...
As with all great Irish musicians, it is inherently, very subversive music.
Their CD "Midsummer Night" is one of my favorites of all time.
Tasty newsbits from those contests for the U.S. House of Representatives:
OH-1 - On Sunday Chris Cillizza and Shaillagh Murray of the Washington Post included OH-01 among five Republican-held Congressional districts that have large African-American populations and are expected to be hard fought this November, noting the possibility that an Obama presidential bid could have especially long coat-tails for that reason. According to the 2000 census, the district is 28.7% African-American.
OH-02 - On Tuesday Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) voted against legislation to an Office of Congressional Ethics that would introduce and review ethical complaints brought against Members and determine which cases move forward to the Ethics Committee. Schmidt was reprimanded by the Ohio Elections Commission in 2006 for making false statements about her education and endorsements, and last fall she was accused of earmarking funds that benefited a contributor to her campaign. “Jean would rather play politics than focus on ending corruption in Washington,” said opponent Dr. Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill). “Our government needs to recapture the trust and confidence of the American people. We need to put their interests first and not let politics stand in the way of accomplishing what is right."
OH-03 - There is a good interview with Jane Mitakides (D) in Monday's edition of the Greek News, a Greek-American weekly newpaper. She addresses topics including NAFTA (says she is "no isolationist" but pledges to "only vote to ratify trade deals that include enforceable environmental and labor standards"), health care (favors universal coverage), Iraq ("We must refocus our efforts from a military offensive to a diplomatic one, working to bring stability to the region while bringing our American heroes home"), and veterans ("I will work to update the GI Bill of Rights so that it meets the needs of the 21st century to offer expanded education, training, housing benefits").
He said it will be important to try to find a balance in the future on trade agreements to preserve the markets of agricultural exports, while halting and reversing the drain of industrial jobs from the state. When asked what can be done to educate the public more about farming, Wilson suggested directing additional funding to programs such as 4-H; this will educate the young people of today, who will be tomorrow’s voters.
OH-10 - The U.S. House expects to go into secret session for the first time since 1983 today, purportedly so that GOP members can explain what exactly it is that the telecoms need immunity for. However, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) and three other Democrats (Miller-CA, Stark-CA, and McDermott-WA) won't be included because they refused to sign an oath of confidentiality.
OH-11 - Yesterday Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) applauded the passage of the Second Chance Act (H.R. 1593), bipartisan legislation of which she is an original co-sponsor. It funds projects to projects to help ex-offenders with housing, education, health, employment, and mentoring services with the goal of reintegrating them into society and reducing recidivism. "The passage of this legislation has been a long time coming. I have been waiting nearly 30 years for Congress to enact meaningful reentry legislation, as I have been deeply involved in prisoner reentry issues since my days as a judge and county prosecutor in Cleveland, Ohio before serving in Congress," she said. "The facts are clear -- meaningful reentry programs significantly diminish the chances that ex-offenders will return to prison. That saves taxpayer dollars and increases public safety."
OH-13 - Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Twp) was pleased to have been graded "A+" on helping the middle class by the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy (DMI):
“I am thrilled to receive an “A+” grade on issues important to the middle class,” Sutton said. “I proudly represent hardworking families in Ohio, and I will continue to work on their behalf to increase economic opportunity, ensure our children are able to access and afford health care and a quality education, reform our trade policies and invest in our infrastructure.”
OH-16 - State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) is a co-sponsor of the Ohio Senate bill against LGBT discrimination in employment, housing, and public accomodations, sponsored by State Sen. Dale Miller (D-Cleveland).
OH-18 - Mark Jordan reports in the Mount Vernon News that Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) was speaking at the Ohio Farm Bureau in Washington yesterday when House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) walked in and announced that Congress had just voted to extend the old farm bill for 30 days to attempt one last effort to negotiate a resolution to the funding and policy impasse over the 2007 Farm Bill. Space was caught off guard like everyone else in the room, but quickly decided it was good news. Space said that Peterson was forcing a showdown, to provoke stallers into supporting the 2007 Farm Bill instead of a stripped-down bill or a complete abandonment of farm bill programs. “He basically threw a grenade onto the Senate floor,” Space said. “He’s got to resort to some kind of political pressure to stimulate some movement. I think he’s doing the right thing.” *** Space had a press conference call today to call on House leadership to advance stalled legislation that strengthens border security, increases interior enforcement, and cracks down on employers who hire illegal immigrants.
The progressive think tank Drum Major Institute for Public Policy (DMI) issues scorecards on legislation and legislators regarding their impact on current and aspiring member's of America's middle class.
The 2007 legislator rankings are out and Ohio's Democratic delegation to Congress deserves a big round of applause. Sen. Brown and Reps. Kaptur, Ryan, Space, Sutton, Wilson, all received a perfect score of "A+." Rep. Kucinich got an "A" and Rep. Tubbs Jones a "B."
On the GOP side -- not so good. Rep. Latta wasn't graded. Rep. LaTourette led the others with a "B" and retiring Rep. Regula got a "C," but Reps. Pryce and Turner got the dreaded "D" and Sen. Voinovich and Reps. Boehner, Chabot, Hobson, Jordan, Schmidt and Tiberi failed miserably with an "F."
We expect better. Grounded until further notice with no TV, and confiscate their cell phones, that's what I say.
Today we celebrate the life of a great champion of the middle class in the General Assembly and in Congress. He was a beloved figure in Ohio and is a role model for many progressive leaders.
Metzenbaum is credited with the passage of important laws to protect individual citizens, including the one that requires warning periods for large factory closures, the Brady Law which established the waiting period for purchasing handguns, and a law that prohibits federally funded adoption agencies from discriminating on the basis of race or ethnicity.
We remember him fondly and he will be a continuing inspiration to us all.
UPDATE: Here is a statement by Sen Sherrod Brown, who now occupies Metzenbaum's seat in the Senate:
“Last night, a great son of Ohio, Senator Howard Metzenbaum, passed away. Personally inspirational to so many, Senator Metzenbaum fought tirelessly – and passionately – on behalf of working families in Ohio and across the nation.
“Never afraid to challenge his Senate colleagues, he fought for people who had less privilege. And he always fought for opportunity for people of all races and both genders.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee today added thirteen challengers to it's Red to Blue program, including State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) in the 1st Ohio Congressional District. (The DCCC had previously announced a slate of open seat candidates for the program, which included OH-15 and OH-16.) The DCCC press release says that "these candidates earned a spot in the program by surpassing demanding fundraising goals and skillfully demonstrating to voters that they stand for change and will represent new priorities when elected to Congress."
The Spring 2008 Akron Buckeye Poll, sponsored by the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at The University of Akron, is out today and it's like a big wet kiss for the Democratic party:
Fifty-three percent of adult Ohioans said that Governor Strickland was doing an “excellent” or “good” job. ...
A large majority of Ohioans favor a generic Democrat over a Republican in the presidential election, and a large majority believes that the Democrats will win Ohio in November.
... [C]onfidence in state government increased compared to 2005.
... The public favors the Democrats over the Republicans on economic issues – 65 to 31 percent, and domestic issues – 58 to 38 percent, but is more evenly divided between the parties on foreign policy – 47 to 46 percent, and social issues – 48 to 44 percent.
Some more detailed numbers after the break.
Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher will headline a private reception for congressional candidate Steve Driehaus tomorrow night in Cincinnati.
Details after the flip.