Volcker Endorses Obama

31 January 2008

Former Federal Reserve Chairman (1979-1987) Paul Volcker endorses Barack Obama, as revealed in today's Wall Street Journal. On the other side, Hillary Clinton gets the crucial Belvis nod.

Brian Lehrer on Mitt Romney

30 January 2008

Chasing Rudy

Mysterious Traveler Entrances Town With Utopian Visions of the Future

Mysterious Traveler Entrances Town With Utopian Vision Of The Future

Why is this guy taken seriously?

Since when does this ridiculous bullshit pass for journalism? I know that the media has generally been obsessed with the race and gender angle of this presidential race, but Dick Morris just took it to a whole new level of stupidity by baselessly suggesting that John Edwards supporters are racists.

UPDATE: The most generous (and undeserved) interpretation one could give Morris here is that he thinks Edwards supporters strategically think that a white male would have a better chance in the general election. But while it is true that Edwards supporters are more likely to say that America is "not ready" for such a president compared to Hillary and Obama supporters (duh), it's absolutely 100% unwarranted to say that this is or ever was their primary concern. Furthermore, there is a huge difference between saying "America is not ready" for a woman or minority president, and saying that their primary concern is "which they don't like more - a black or a woman getting elected."

To an ordinary observer, it's pretty obvious that Morris is just race-baiting here, and it is completely absurd.

John Edwards: Out of the Race

Rudy Giuliani: Out of the Race

29 January 2008

Congratulations, America.

Happy Birthday, Thomas Paine!

McCain Lies About Romney

In one of his recent attack ads in Florida, John McCain says this about Mitt Romney:

McCain Radio Ad
Narrator: They say Mitt Romney likes numbers. His campaign says he likes to look at data. Well here are some numbers that should scare every Florida Republican. . . .
20 billion dollars that’s what Romney promised Detroit to bail out the auto industry on the back of taxpayers.

I'm no fan of Mitt Romney, but this is a highly dishonest mischaracterization of his position. What Mitt Romney said was this:
Romney (Jan. 14, 2008): If we're going to be the world's greatest economic power, we also have to invest in the future. It's time for us to be bold. I will make a five-fold increase – from $4 billion to $20 billion – in our national investment in energy research, fuel technology, materials science, and automotive technology. Let's invest in our future.
That is certainly not a bailout. It is an investment in technology and energy research - something we need if we're going to lessen our dependence on oil. This is particularly dishonest since McCain himself has claimed that he can make America "oil-independent" somehow within five years (!), a ridiculous claim on its face, and one that would absolutely require far more than $20 million in energy and technology investment.

Why is this guy labeled the "straight talker"?

UPDATE: Here is McCain lying about Romney's position on abortion. It looks like McCain will probably end up winning Florida today, but it's certainly a dirty win in my mind.

Can We Agree That This Guy Is Nuts?

28 January 2008

Illinois Legislators Respond

27 January 2008

Illinois state legislators respond to Clinton's disingenuous attacks on Obama's "present" votes:

"To insinuate the 'present' vote means you're indecisive, that you don't have the courage to hold public office, that's a stretch. But, it's good politics," said state Rep. Bill Black (R), a 22-year veteran of the House and his party's floor leader.

In fact, he said, Illinois legislators get attacked for their "present" votes nearly every campaign season. "It's always been a campaign gimmick, really. If you vote 'present' once in 23 years, somebody will bring it up."

The "present" vote in Illinois is sometimes cast by state lawmakers with a conflict of interest who would rather not weigh in on an issue. Other times, members use the option to object to certain parts of a bill, even though they may agree with its overall purpose.

"The 'present' vote is used, especially by more thoughtful legislators, not as a means of avoiding taking a position on an issue, but as a means of signaling concerns about an issue," said state Rep. John Fritchey (D), an Obama supporter.

Brian Lehrer on Clinton and Edwards

Barack Obama Wins South Carolina

26 January 2008

PBS Frontline: Pakistan Blackout

Read This Website

Super Delegates

Hillary Clinton Wants to Change the Rules - Again

Last year, the DNC decided that only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina would be permitted to hold primaries/caucuses prior to Super-Mega Tuesday. This was done to avoid the endless jockeying to be the first primary state - and, hence, the focus of national attention. Michigan and Florida, however, broke those rules and attempted to push their primaries forward. In response, the DNC stripped them of all their delegates. Of course, this was a very strong reaction, effectively stripping the states of their say in who gets elected. But all of the major Democratic candidates agreed to this, explicitly promising not to "participate" in any of these states. In fact, all of the major candidates took their name off the ballot for Michigan. All of the candidates, that is, except for Hillary Clinton. Now that she has won the Michigan primary, being the only major candidate on the ballot, she wants those delegates to count.

This is a transparent power-grab, and an unethical attempt to game the system. Particularly since this is such a close race, and it could ultimately be decided by a very close delegate-count.

Josh Marshall has a post up at TPM about Hillary Clinton's attempt to change the primary rules mid-stream:

The Clinton camp really needs to be shut down on this new gambit of theirs to muscle the party and the other candidates into seating the Michigan and Florida delegate slates.

And let me be very clear about what I mean. It was very debatable decision whether the DNC should have punished Florida and Michigan with the loss of their delegates slates because they broke the rules the party had set down for scheduling their primaries. By 'debatable' I don't mean it was right or wrong, only that it was a pretty draconian move and I know there was a lot of discussion about whether or not it was the right thing to do.

But that was the decision -- one that each of the candidates at least implicitly agreed to. Indeed, each agreed not to campaign in either of these states, again implicitly agreeing to the decision not to seat the delegates.

The Clinton camp is just pushing to seat these delegates now because the contingencies of the moment mean that the decision would favor Hillary. She was the only one whose name was on the ballot in Michigan, thus insuring her win. She has a wide lead in every Florida poll taken this month.

Even Michigan was a matter of her basically pulling a fast one on the other candidates by not taking her name off the ballot. Each of the major candidates signed a pledge not to "campaign or participate" in any primary or caucus prior to Feb. 5th except for Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. The other major candidates adopted what seems like the only reasonable interpretation of the pledge (see text here) and pulled their names from the ballot.

But then Hillary didn't, thus in essence guaranteeing her win in Michigan.

The Clinton campaign said taking her name off the ballot wasn't required by the pledge. But what can "participate" mean over and above "campaigning" other than formally being a candidate in the race?

In any case, by gaming the process Clinton already insured her win in Michigan, though it seemed only for a symbolic victory, not real delegates.

But all these particulars are secondary to the principle, which is that you don't change the rules in midstream to favor one candidate or another. This is no more than a replay, with different factual particulars, of the attempt to outlaw the at-large caucuses in Nevada after the Culinary Union endorsement made it appear they would help Barack Obama.

Perhaps there's some detail of this question that I'm not aware of. And if there is I'll revise my opinion accordingly. But based on what I know now this is pretty clear-cut.

Hillary can muscle for every advantage she wants. Good for her. She's a fighter. But everyone else should see this for what it is and say No.

That really seems to sum things up well. She did the same exact thing in Nevada, where she had all the time in the world to complain about the at-large precincts the DNC approved months in advance. There was not a single protest from Clinton when she thought she could benefit from the at-large precincts. But as soon as Obama secured the culinary union's endorsement, Clinton protested (with some dubious claims that the casino votes would count "five times" as much as anyone else's).

Can't she just play by the pre-decided rules and let the voters evaluate each candidate on the merits?

UPDATE: Just to remind everyone, Clinton was only able to secure 55% of the Michigan vote, despite being the only major candidate on the ballot. That means that a significant number of Michigan voters preferred to count themselves as "undecided."

Bill Clinton: President Doesn't "Run a Bureaucracy"

25 January 2008

Bill Clinton recently had this to say about the role of President of the United States:

“The President is not called the Chief Executive Officer of America for nothing. You don’t run the bureaucracy but you are responsible for seeing that your ideas turn into positive changes in other people’s lives.”
Sounds sensible (although the President is explicitly called the "Executive" in the Constitution). Particularly since this guy was a President previously, and probably knows how it works. But then how do you explain Hillary Clinton's sharp criticism of Barack Obama for saying this:
"But I'm not an operating officer. Some in this debate around experience seem to think the job of the president is to go in and run some bureaucracy. Well, that's not my job. My job is to set a vision of 'here's where the bureaucracy needs to go.'"

UPDATE: Here is the audio:

PBS NOW: Democrats Divided 2008

Brian Lehrer Discusses Barack Obama

This Week's Links

24 January 2008




Election 2008:


Sen. Russ Feingold on FISA

Kucinich: Dropping Out Tomorrow

For more coverage of Dennis Kucinich, go to the Openers blog.

Why Lorna Brett Howard Switched From Clinton to Obama

New Obama Ad

23 January 2008

Here is Obama's new radio ad: Audio.


Obama: "I’m Barack Obama, running for president and I approve this message."

Announcer: "It’s what’s wrong with politics today. Hillary Clinton will say anything to get elected. Now she’s making false attacks on Barack Obama.

"The Washington Post says Clinton isn’t telling the truth. Obama 'did not say that he liked the ideas of Republicans.' In fact, Obama’s led the fight to raise the minimum wage, close corporate tax loopholes and cut taxes for the middle class.

"But it was Hillary Clinton, in an interview with Tom Brokaw, who quote 'paid tribute' to Ronald Reagan’s economic and foreign policy. She championed NAFTA –- even though it has cost South Carolina thousands of jobs. And worst of all, it was Hillary Clinton who voted for George Bush’s war in Iraq.

"Hillary Clinton. She’ll say anything, and change nothing. It’s time to turn the page. Paid for by Obama for America."

I think that the first part of this ad is dead-on. As I've written before, it's been shameless the way Bill and Hillary Clinton have taken Obama's comments out of context and pretended that he endorses Ronald Reagan's economic policies (which he clearly does not). I think that you can make a great argument that Clinton will just "say anything" at this point to get elected. Particularly since she has also distorted his ethics reform bill, his position on the PATRIOT Act, his Rezko ties, his "present" votes, his position on abortion, and his position on the Iraq war.

That being said, I don't think that the proper response is to "fight fire with fire." In the Brokaw book, unless I'm mistaken, all that Hillary said was that she preferred Ronald Reagan politics to Karl Rove politics. That's a fair thing to say. Also, Clinton seems to be praising his political skills when she says, "He played the balance and the music beautifully." But this doesn't imply that she supports his economic policies (the book explicitly says that his tax cuts "went too far"). I think that this part of the ad is a big mistake.

Of course, her support for NAFTA is certainly fair game. So is her vote authorizing the Iraq war. Also, I think that you can make a good argument that she will "change nothing" (see here for more). But I don't think that turnabout is fair play on the Reagan issue.

UPDATE: Politically, I guess that it's smart. The Clintons can't really defend against this attack without admitting the blatant dishonesty of their initial "Obama says that the GOP has good ideas" attacks. But still, I think that it's an inaccurate and improper counter-charge to imply that Hillary likes Reagan's economic and foreign policies.

UPDATE II: Here is the video of Obama from the debate:

In this context, Obama seems to be pointing out the Reagan/Brokaw thing just to highlight the "irony" of the recent criticism coming from the Clintons. If that's all that this is, then it's certainly a fair point to make.

Economic Stimulus Plans

The Washington Post rates the various economic stimulus plans being discussed. You can read the article yourself, but here is the basic run down:

Al Gore on Gay Marriage

Hillary Continues to Distort Obama Statement

This is pure dishonesty. There's no way to honestly argue that Clinton thinks this is anything other than misleading. The obvious intent of this ad is simply to muddy the waters and create a false impression among South Carolina primary voters that Obama supports these ideas, which he obviously does not (for example, he voted to increase the minimum wage, contrary to what this ad implies). Furthermore, as I've noted before, this is a gross mischaracterization of what Obama actually said in that particular interview (note the very real difference between "ideas" and "good ideas").

He called her out on this at the last debate, so there is no excuse that she simply misunderstood his comments the first time (a dubious claim in the first instance).

UPDATE: Ben Smith at Politico:

In this negative spot sent to reporters by the Obama campaign, Clinton continues to take Obama's line that Republicans were the "party of ideas" to suggest that Obama backs specific Republican ideas, which is a stretch.

UPDATE II: Hillary Clinton's website dissembles and pretends that this ad doesn't imply what it so obviously does.

Fred Thompson: Out

22 January 2008

Thompson just released a statement:

"Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for President of the United States," read the statement. "I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort. Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people."

Delegate Head Count - Part II

(Note: This count excludes super delegates)

Clinton Has a Dream

Barack Obama at Dr. King's Church

21 January 2008

Lederman Explains the Nevada Caucus

20 January 2008

Over at Balkinization, Georgetown University Constitutional Law professor Marty Lederman explains what happened at the Nevada caucus and what it means.

Graph: Rudy Giuliani's Strategy

19 January 2008

This Week's Links





Economic Plans

Bill Moyers: Clinton, Obama, King and Johnson

John McCain and the Economy

John McCain recently said this while campaigning in South Carolina:

Mr. McCain called for cutting the corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent — which Rudolph W. Giuliani has also called for — as well as making Mr. Bush’s tax cuts permanent, establishing a tax credit for research and development, and repealing the alternative minimum tax.

And Mr. McCain proclaimed himself a believer in the notion that cutting taxes increases revenue for the government by spurring economic growth. “Don’t listen to this siren song about cutting taxes,” Mr. McCain told supporters gathered here under a tent in a driving rain. “Every time in history we have raised taxes it has cut revenues. And is there anybody here that needs to have their taxes increased?”

But nobody at the New York Times bothered to check the accuracy of that statement about cutting revenues. The fact that it seems so counterintuitive should have tipped them off.

Jon Chait looked into this claim, and actually went back to the last tax increase - back in 1993. He found revenues to steadily increase.

The same is true for previous tax increases. Notably during WWII, when taxes were increased and revenues quintupled.

Maybe we shouldn't be too surprised about this, given McCain previous admissions:
Take, for example, John McCain’s admission that economics isn’t his thing. “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should,” he says. “I’ve got Greenspan’s book.”

UPDATE: McCain also claims that tax cuts increase revenue.


18 January 2008

Hillary Clinton recently said this about Barack Obama:

"I have to say, you know, my leading opponent the other day said that he thought the Republicans had better ideas than Democrats the last ten to fifteen years. That's not the way I remember the last ten to fifteen years.

"I don't think it's a better idea to privatize Social Security. I don't think it's a better idea to try to eliminate the minimum wage. I don't think it's a better idea to undercut health benefits and to give drug companies the right to make billions of dollars by providing prescription drugs to Medicare recipients. I don't think it's a better idea to shut down the government, to drive us into debt."

Never mind that Obama never supported any of those things, and never said that any of them were "better ideas."

Now, Bill Clinton just said this:
"Her principal opponent said that since 1992, the Republicans have had all the good ideas," Clinton told a crowd in Pahrump this morning. "It goes along with their plan to ask Republicans to become Democrats for a day and caucus with you tomorrow, and then go back and become Republicans so they can participate in the Republican primary. I'm not making this up, folks."

Actually, he is making this up. Obama never said that the Republican party was the party of "good ideas." He said that they were the party of "ideas" (note how he didn't say "good ideas") in the sense that they "were challenging conventional wisdom." He then proceeded to give an example of one such idea (steering the debate on economic policies so that now "it's all tax cuts") and explained how he thought that wasn't a good idea. As far as the plan to "ask Republicans to become Democrats for a day," that's a reference to a mailer sent out by an independently operating Obama precinct captain. When the Obama campaign learned of it, they explicitly disavowed the mailer and asked that people stop distributing it.

This is all very discouraging.

The main reason why this bothers me is that our politics seems to follow a formula. All you have to do is parse someone's words, turn it into something that obviously wasn't intended, drum up outrage by mischaracterizing the statement, then repeat. The same thing happened just last week when Clinton rightly protested to her own words being taken out of context. Now she turns around and does the exact same thing.

Politics as usual.

UPDATE: Also, it bothers me that a former president has twice come out on the eve of a primary to make disparaging comments about Barack Obama (before New Hampshire, he came out arguing that the media's coverage of Obama's Iraq war position was the "biggest fairy tail I've ever seen").

UPDATE II: With regard to the precinct captain, it's worth pointing out that the Clinton campaign's county chair sent out an email falsely claiming that Barack Obama was a Muslim who attended a radical Madrassa as a child. Of course, this smear was way worse than encouraging Republicans and Independents to vote in an open primary. In the end, Clinton did the right thing and disavowed the email. But the point is that overzealous campaigners will occasionally go off message, and it's disingenuous to attribute previously disavowed comments/mailers/emails to the opponent himself. Furthermore, if that were an acceptable strategy, it would apply with greater force to Clinton herself.

UPDATE III: As recounted by Tom Brokaw, this is what Hillary Clinton had to say about Ronald Reagan not too long ago:
"She also believes that modern conservatives such as Karl rove are 'obsessed' with defeating her. She prefers the godfather of the modern conservative movement, Ronald Reagan. He was, she says, 'a child of the Depression, so he understood it [economic pressures on the working and middle class]. When he had those big tax cuts and they went too far, he oversaw the largest tax increase. He could call the Soviet Union the Evil Empire and then negotiate arms-control agreements. He played the balance and the music beautifully.' In 1969, who would have imagined that the Hillary Rodham on the Wellesley commencement stage would find herself thirty-eight years later paying tribute to Ronald Reagan?"
Does this mean that she endorses Ronald Reagan's economic and foreign policies? Of course not.

UPDATE IV: Bill Clinton said this while dedicating the Reagan library:
"The only thing that could make this day more special is if President Reagan could be here himself. But if you look at this atrium, I think we feel the essence of his presence: his unflagging optimism, his proud patriotism, his unabashed faith in the American people. I think every American who walks through this incredible space and lifts his or her eyes to the sky will feel that…. This is a great day for our country. This is a day of honoring the legacy of President Reagan, remembering the service of President Wilson, and rededicating ourselves to the often difficult but ultimately always rewarding work of America. As I stand within the Reagan Building I am confident that we will again make the right choices for America, that we will take up where President Reagan left off -- to lead freedom's march boldly into the 21st century."
Does this mean that he wants the next president to continue Reagan's legacy? Of course not.

UPDATE V: Jake Tapper at ABC recounts what Obama actually said and covers the issue here:

Sen. Clinton twisted this into: "I have to say, you know, my leading opponent the other day said that he thought the Republicans had better ideas than Democrats the last ten to fifteen years."

That's not what Obama said.

And in Buffalo, N.Y., former President Bill Clinton twisted this into Obama "said President Reagan was the engine of innovation and did more, had a more lasting impact on America than I did. And then the next day he said, 'In the 90s the good ideas came out from the Republicans. Which it'll be costly maybe down the road for him because it's factually not accurate.”

What's factually not accurate is what President Bill Clinton said.

I know he wants his wife to beat Obama. And it seems that unleashing the Big Dog seems to be working for the Clinton campaign.

Perhaps some voters are even touched by his passion.

But let's be clear -- Bill Clinton is spreading demonstrably false information.

There's winning ugly, and there's winning with honor.

UPDATE VI: You can watch the entire interview with Obama here.

UPDATE VII: Sen. Moynihan (Sen. Clinton's predecessor) called the Republican party the "party of ideas." Does that mean that he likes their ideas? Of course not.

Graph: Huckabee's Fair Tax

16 January 2008

(via Fact Check)

It looks like Mike Huckabee's "Fair Tax" would increase the tax burden on those earning $15,000-$200,000, and significantly ease the burden on those earning more than $200,000 (and, to a lesser extent, those earning less than $15,000).

Why do people keep calling him a "populist"?

UPDATE: This is what Mike Huckabee's presidential website says about the Fair Tax:

When the FairTax becomes law, it will be like waving a magic wand releasing us from pain and unfairness.
You can't make this stuff up.

Hillary Clinton on Barack Obama and Ethics Reform

13 January 2008

On her website, Hillary Clinton says the following in big, bold letters:

Sen. Obama's Bill Allows Lobbyists To Wine and Dine Members of Congress, As Long As They Are Standing Up

At the recent Democratic debate in New Hampshire, moderator Charles Gibson said something similar about Obama's ethics reform bill:

GIBSON: They can now buy food for members of Congress if the members of Congress are standing up. That's my understanding of what the rules have changed. You can't sit down and eat, but you can stand up and eat. Tell me why that's change.

OBAMA: Here's what we did. They can't buy meals. They can't provide gifts. They can no longer lend corporate...

GIBSON: They can have huge parties for you as long as you're standing up.

However, both are mischaracterizing the ethics reform bill. First of all, from these comments, you'd think that the ethics reform bill created a positive right to throw parties for Congressmen, where none existed before. That is simply not the case. Nor does the bill create a right for lobbyists to take Congressmen out to restaurants for some bizarre no-chairs dinner.

Go ahead and read the bill for yourself. You won't find any mention of a sitting/standing distinction. As political scientist Norm Ornstein (who helped write the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Bill) has said:
"The notion that the ethics bill only allows lawmakers to eat with lobbyists while standing up is an urban myth -- as is the idea that the ethics and lobbying reform bill was more of the same. It was a tough and meaningful reform, the most meaningful in a generation."
In the end, what this bill did was significantly reduce the "wining and dining" of Congressmen (which is precisely why it has been so widely praised). Lobbyists can no longer buy meals for Congressmen under the bill. More public disclosure is required for lobbyist activity and funding. Mandatory disclosure is now required for earmarks.

It should also be noted that Clinton herself voted for the bill she is now mischaracterizing and mocking. Furthermore, if Clinton thinks the ethics reform bill didn't go far enough, why didn't she do something about it herself? After all, she is a United States Senator.

Now, it is true that lobbyists can still hold receptions where food of "nominal" value is served, but the serving of cookies and desserts poses far less of a conflict of interest than those prevalent under the previous ethics bill (which permitted lobster dinners). Perhaps the current ethics bill should have gone farther. But this isn't what Hillary Clinton is arguing. If this were her argument, it would apply with greater force to herself, since she did nothing to strengthen the ethics reform bill.

Furthermore, if Clinton believes that such "nominal" value foods amounts to unethical "wining and dining," how does she reconcile that belief with this:
Clinton, D-N.Y., plans to attend a dessert reception in Wilmette, Ill. -- minimum contribution: $1,000 per person -- at the home of Kevin Conlon, the founder and president of Conlon Public Strategies. Conlon is registered with the federal government to lobby for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to receive federal subsidies.
Politics can be really frustrating sometimes.

UPDATE: Think On These Things has developed a chart comparing Obama and Clinton on Transparency, Lobbyists and Ethics. Obama seems to be the clear winner on this (although I wouldn't include a section asking whether the candidates "Passed ethics legislation at state level," since Clinton wasn't a state Senator, as Barack Obama was, and therefore wouldn't get a similar opportunity to do so).

UPDATE II: According to Newsday:
On ethics reform, Obama has pushed hard for creation of an independent panel to investigate allegations of ethics violations. Clinton has twice voted against it.
UPDATE III: Tom Hamburger has an interesting article at the Los Angeles Times titled "Clinton Rolls a Sizable Pork Barrel." You can probably guess what it's about.
Clinton supported those basic reforms, but she and other Democratic senators running for president balked at a proposal by Obama that would have required members to disclose their proposed earmark requests, not just those that were enacted into law.
This is a very serious issue in the presidential campaign, and it really boggles my mind that Hillary Clinton is attacking Barack Obama on ethics reform, of all things.

UPDATE IV: John McCain on Hillary Clinton and earmarks.

UPDATE V: This is what Clinton herself said when the ethics reform bill was passed:

But Clinton didn't always speak so negatively of the lobbying legislation. In fact, according to Clinton’s Jan. 18 speech from the Senate floor on the bill, she lauded it as "much needed and long-awaited." She even said it bans meals.

“The American public deserves to be certain that their elected officials are not being swayed by lavish gifts offered as quid pro quo for promoting special agendas,” Clinton said, per a search of the Library of Congress database. “To that end, gifts from registered lobbyists have no place in our legislative process. For that reason, I support the sweeping ban on lobbyist-paid gifts in the Senate bill. This ban includes not just meals but also gifts of travel and lodging, areas that have been the subject of notorious abuse."

She closed her speech this way: “The reforms contained in both the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007 and the Lobbying Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007 enact much-needed and long-awaited reforms that move us toward those goals.”

Barack Obama @ Google

12 January 2008

Poll: CNN Reporting

Rush Limbaugh on Barack Obama

11 January 2008

College dropout Rush Limbaugh has once again shown that he cannot be bothered with basic fact-checking. He recently said this on his radio program:

The fact that [Hillary Clinton is] losing to somebody with no experience, the fact that she's losing -- do you know this guy [Barack Obama] -- you look at his record in the Senate, you won't find a Senate bill with his name on it. You won't find a Senate bill with the Breck Girl's [John Edwards] name on it -- other than a couple of post offices being named for people in North Carolina. First-term senators don't get much done, certainly not under their own names. And she's losing to somebody with veritably no experience whatsoever.
Actually, Obama sponsored 152 bills and resolutions brought before the 109th Congress, and cosponsored another 427. In the 110th Congress, he has introduced 55 bills, and is listed as a sponsor for 113 bills and resolutions. All this took was a simple search through the Library of Congress website. It's really easy to do, for those of us who have access to the Internet.

Simply put: you will find his name on plenty of Senate bills.

However, one must keep in mind that during the 109th Congress, there was a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, as well as a Republican President wielding the veto power. This makes it very hard for a junior Democratic senator to get legislation actually passed.

Also, as I've noted before, the 110th Congress has been marked by record-breaking use of the filibuster by the Republican minority, as well as veto threats by the President. Again, this is an environment that makes it very difficult to pass legislation.

Nonetheless, Obama was able to pass the "Coburn-Obama Transparency Act" in 2006, providing for greater openness and transparency in government expenditures. It even resulted in an online searchable federal spending database, where anyone can go to see where their tax dollars are being spent. He also passed the "Honest Leadership and Open Government Act," strengthening public disclosure of lobbyists' activity and funding, putting more restrictions on the ability of Congressmen to accept gifts, and establishing mandatory disclosure of earmarks in expenditure bills.

Of course, not everything Obama proposes will make it past his colleagues, or survive a veto threat. But there certainly are "Senate bills with his name on them," and to say otherwise is extremely poor journalism.

UPDATE: Just in case you might have mistaken Limbaugh for a serious commentator, take note that this is how he covers Barack Obama.

UPDATE II: Nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas repeats this false meme.
The Congress, of which Obama is now only a freshman member with no legislation he can point to that has his name on it. . . .
UPDATE III: Just to give some more examples of legislation bearing Obama's name:
S.116 : A bill to authorize resources to provide students with opportunities for summer learning through summer learning grants.
Sponsor: Sen Obama, Barack [IL] (introduced 1/4/2007) Cosponsors (3)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
S.453 : A bill to prohibit deceptive practices in Federal elections.
Sponsor: Sen Obama, Barack [IL] (introduced 1/31/2007) Cosponsors (20)
Committees: Senate Judiciary
Senate Reports: 110-191
S.697 : A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to improve higher education, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Obama, Barack [IL] (introduced 4/5/2005) Cosponsors (2)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

South Carolina Debate Highlights

Rudy Giuliani and New Hampshire

10 January 2008

It seems to be the conventional wisdom these days that Rudy Giuliani finished so poorly in New Hampshire simply because he decided to focus on the later states. But this narrative overlooks quite a bit:

Statistics compiled by ABC News Political Unit and ABC News' team of off-air reporters indicate that Giuliani held more events in this first-in-the-nation primary state than any other Republican except for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in neighboring Massachusetts. He also spent more on TV ads than anyone except for Romney and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
I recommend reading the rest of this article, as well.

Delegate Head Count

09 January 2008

A lot has been made of Hillary Clinton's last-minute turnaround and victory in the New Hampshire primaries, but I think it's interesting to note that Barack Obama actually picked up more New Hampshire delegates than Hillary Clinton did. According to CNN, Obama picked up 12 New Hampshire delegates, whereas Clinton only gathered 11. Each candidate picked up the same number of state delegates (9), since the overall popular vote percentages were so close, but the state's superdelegates broke for Obama.

In Iowa, despite Obama's large margin of victory, he ended up getting 18 delegates to Clinton's 17 - a one delegate margin of victory. Again, this is due to the voting patterns of superdelegates (read: party bosses from the DNC).

Also, it looks like the superdelegates will overall end up in Clinton's camp.

Ah, the peculiarities of our electoral system.

UPDATE: Here is the GOP delegate-count so far:

(via Matthew Yglesias)

Chris Matthews on Hillary Clinton - Part IX

Part I: "Chinese" Clapping
Part II: "I hate her"
Part III: "Women with needs"
Part IV: "Our big number is the number five"
Part V: "Nurse Ratched"
Part VI: "Being for Hillary makes you feel subservient"
Part VII: "Castratos in the eunuch chorus"
Part VIII: "Female editors"

Just in Case You Forgot Where FOX News Stands...

08 January 2008

Just in Case You Forgot Where the New York Post Stands...

07 January 2008

Rupert Murdoch's New York Post has a new column about the presidential candidates, titled "BAM: Our First Woman Prez?" In it, the columnists describe Barack Obama as being "like a woman: slim, good looking, with long elegant fingers, appealingly dressed - all terms more typically ascribed to female candidates." They go on to describe Hillary Clinton as having "long been accused of androgyny - trying to sound like a man, flexing her rhetorical muscle." John Edwards is described "as a cute 8-year-old boy."

Contrast these descriptions to those of the Republican candidates. Mitt Romney is "the CEO with movie-star looks." John McCain is "the war hero and straight shooter." Mike Huckabee is "the parochial religious orator and weight loser."

Does anyone else see a discrepancy here?

Bill O'Reilly on John Edwards

06 January 2008

During the O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly said the following:

O’Reilly: As for John Edwards, Good grief! this guy has no clue. (plays clip)

Edwards: … and tonight, 200,000 men and women who wore our uniform proudly and served this country courageously as veterans will go to sleep under bridges and on grates. We are better than this. (see Edward’s speech here)

O’Reilly: That was Edwards’ concession speech last night. I mean, come on. The only thing sleeping under a bridge is that guy’s brain. 10 million illegal alien workers are sending billions of dollars back home and Edwards is running around saying nobody has any money. Hard to believe.

Why is O'Reilly making fun of this specific point, and what do "illegal alien workers" have to do with it? When O'Reilly says that "[t]he only thing sleeping under a bridge is that guy’s brain," it certainly appears that he is challenging the factual accuracy of Edwards's claim. But there really are 195,827 homeless veterans, and there is certainly something wrong with that.

UPDATE: The Washington Post has more here:
Several readers have asked us to check this surprising statistic, often used by Edwards. The language may be overly dramatic, but the figure is an official one, from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The department believes that one-third of the adult homeless population of the United States "have served their country in the Armed Services." A posting on the department Web site says that about 195,000 veterans are "homeless on any given night" and perhaps twice as many experience homelessness at some point during the course of a year.

Barack Obama and the PATRIOT Act

At last night's Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton made the following charge against Barack Obama:

"You said you would vote against the PATRIOT Act -- you came to the senate and voted for it."
On her website today, Clinton repeats the charge without expanding on it. However, there are a few problems with this contention.

First, as a point of clarity, Barack Obama was not a member of the United States Senate in 2001, and did not vote on the original PATRIOT Act. Senators Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, however, both voted in favor of it.

Second, Obama joined a filibuster that blocked a reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act, which would have made permanent 14 of the 16 original PATRIOT Act provisions.

Third, Clinton herself voted for the same bill she is now criticizing Barack Obama for supporting.

Fourth, Obama supported a separate act (the SAFE Act) that would have contained broader checks and balances than the original PATRIOT Act.

Fifth, Obama said the following when he ultimately supported a compromise act (the one Clinton is now criticizing him for supporting):

Let me be clear: this compromise is not as good as the Senate version of the bill, nor is it as good as the SAFE Act that I have cosponsored. I suspect the vast majority of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle feel the same way. But, it's still better than what the House originally proposed.

This compromise does modestly improve the PATRIOT Act by strengthening civil liberties protections without sacrificing the tools that law enforcement needs to keep us safe.

In this compromise:

  • We strengthened judicial review of both national security letters, the administrative subpoenas used by the FBI, and Section 215 orders, which can be used to obtain medical, financial and other personal records.
  • We established hard-time limits on sneak-and-peak searches and limits on roving wiretaps.
  • We protected most libraries from being subject to national security letters.
  • We preserved an individual's right to seek counsel and hire an attorney without fearing the FBI's wrath.
  • And we allowed judicial review of the gag orders that accompany Section 215 searches. The compromise is far from perfect.

I would have liked to see stronger judicial review of national security letters and shorter time limits on sneak and peak searches, among other things.

Senator Feingold has proposed several sensible amendments--that I support--to address these issues. Unfortunately, the Majority Leader is preventing Senator Feingold from offering these amendments through procedural tactics. That is regrettable because it flies in the face of the bipartisan cooperation that allowed the Senate to pass unanimously its version of the Patriot Act--a version that balanced security and civil liberty, partisanship and patriotism.

The Majority Leader's tactics are even more troubling because we will need to work on a bipartisan basis to address national security challenges in the weeks and months to come. In particular, members on both sides of the aisle will need to take a careful look at President Bush's use of warrantless wiretaps and determine the right balance between protecting our security and safeguarding our civil liberties.

This is a complex issue. But only by working together and avoiding election-year politicking will we be able to give our government the necessary tools to wage the war on terror without sacrificing the rule of law.

So, I will be supporting the PATRIOT Act compromise. But I urge my colleagues to continue working on ways to improve the civil liberties protections in the PATRIOT Act after it is reauthorized.

In the end, it looks like Obama came to the Senate promising to reform the PATRIOT Act, he took some real steps towards that goal, helped to block a reform that would make things worse, and ultimately voted on a compromise bill that reformed some (but not all) of the problems with the original. It appears to me that Hillary Clinton's criticism is off the mark.

If Clinton was arguing that Obama should have fought for a tougher compromise, or should have worked in more safeguards for civil liberties, that would be a real issue worth discussing. But that's not what she's arguing (if that were her argument, then it would apply with equal force to herself - she was, after all, a Senator who voted in favor of both the original and the compromise acts). Instead, this really appears to be either a criticism for "flip-flopping" or for talking too big a game. But if that's what this is, then that's clearly a misplaced criticism.

UPDATE: For more on the problems with Clinton's criticism, see here and here.

Graph: Employment-Population Ratio

05 January 2008

(via Paul Krugman)

Chris Dodd Pulls Out of the Race

04 January 2008

Obama Wins Iowa

Pat Robertson and the Election

03 January 2008

Every year, Pat Robertson pretends to speak with God and then makes some crazy, ambitious, and often very wrong, predictions. This is what Robertson sees for 2008:

"He told me some things about the election, but I'm not going to say, because some old man on "60 Minutes" would make fun of me, so I'm not going to tell you who the winner's going to be," Robertson said, in apparent reference to CBS humorist Andy Rooney, who turns 89 on Jan. 14.
That hardly inspires confidence. Perhaps Robertson has learned from his past failed election predictions. He had previously pronounced that God gave him some inside information that President Bush would win the 2004 elections in a "blowout." Bush ended up getting just 51% of the vote, though. In 2006, Robertson told his television audience that “the outcome of the war and the success of the economy will leave the Republicans in charge.” That obviously didn't pan out, either.

Given this man's obvious delusions, and his failed attempts at magic, why do Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney pander to him so much? Can't we all just acknowledge that this man is crazy and move on from there?


UPDATE II: Oh, so he's not really even sure he heard from God this time:

Mike Huckabee on Mitt Romney

Mike Huckabee recently ran this attack ad against Mitt Romney, accusing him of dishonesty. What I found particularly mind-bending was that Huckabee criticized Romney because of the "No Executions" during Romney's stint as governor. First of all, that's a pretty bizarre criticism coming from somebody running so heavily on the fact that he's a former minister. I'm not quite sure that Jesus would approve of such a position* (although Huckabee has suggested in the past that he would).

Second, and most damning for Huckabee, is the fact that Massachusetts does not employ the death penalty. For someone harping on "dishonest attacks," this is really a pretty big deal. He's criticizing Romney here for not doing something that he had no legal ability to do. Furthermore, it's important to point out that Romney attempted (and failed) to restore the death penalty in Massachusetts.

I personally don't like Huckabee or Romney, but I'm really sick of these false and misleading advertisements. Especially since Huckabee himself ends the ad by saying, "If a man is dishonest to obtain a job, he'll be dishonest on the job."

*According to the Sermon on the Mount: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you." When a woman was about to be stoned to death for adultery, Jesus came to her aid and said "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." I'm not aware of any Jesus quotes endorsing retribution (the Old Testament God, on the other hand, suggested that we use the death penalty to kill homosexuals and disobedient children). Plus, he might be a bit sensitive about how he was subject to the death penalty, himself.

UPDATE: Factcheck.org has more on this ad here.

Campaign Ads

02 January 2008

Barack Obama:

Rudy Giuliani

Mitt Romney: