Monday, April 30, 2007

REACTION: A new presidential hotlist


Ok, I'm back as promised, and looking back on old posts this morning, I discovered there's a relatively wide gap between some things I said about presidential candidates during my last active period and how I feel about them now. So it seemed to make sense for me to re-do my hotlist, with a better knowledge of several candidates and a better reflection of my current feelings. All candidates will be listed with both pros and cons:


John Edwards:
I've been calling him the likely nominee for some time now, but it's probably time to back off that. I think he's running a better campaign than he ran in 2004, and he's been the first out of the gate with specific proposals on issues, including a very specific health care plan. The fact that he's no longer a senator leaves the door open for him to campaign all the time without having to worry about missing votes or casting votes that could hurt him.

On the downside, I think the early spotlight is shooting some holes in his image. I ranted a bit last week about news coverage of his haircuts, and I don't think it should be an issue, but the fact remains that he's living big time while talking about how we need to do more for the poor, and he's heating and air conditioning a 28,000 square foot house while encouraging us to reduce our carbon footprints. He's still the candidate I'm most likely to support, but it's more questionable now.

Barack Obama: He draws huge crowds wherever he goes, he's charismatic and he seems to be able to run a campaign on broad themes without anyone asking him why he's not specific on anything. Of all the Democrats, he seems the most likely to win in November. It's quite possible he's the only candidate in the field that doesn't need to run negative ads. His debate performance looked skilled and practiced. He was the only candidate that answered the "elephant in the room" question without tripping over it.

But, I don't think he's prepared to be Chief Executive. I think he lacks the experience. The fact that he's entirely non-specific on issues means I have no idea what I agree with him on. I talk to people everyday who support him but can't name a single reason why. I think eventually there will be a large block of voters out there saying things like, "We're electing a Commander in Chief, not a Head Rock Star." If he doesn't start coming out with specifics soon, it's going to look like he's only doing it to appease those people.


Chris Dodd:
He jumped into the upper half of my list by being the first to advocate for public financing of campaigns in the debate. He's gotten decent press coverage over the last week, creating a pretty good first impression on a lot of voters. He has good experience and comes across as intelligent.

With that said, he's way back of most of the field. I'm glad he's running in Iowa, but he feels like more of a "I have something to add to the conversation" candidate than a true contender. He's a northeastern Democrat and a lifelong politician, both of which would get the crap beaten out of him in a one-on-one matchup. He's got a small window of time to convert a lot of people, which won't be easy to do with his preferred kitchen-table sized events.

Bill Richardson: He brings incredible foreign policy experience to the race. He may be the last presidential candidate in my lifetime to bring 4 Nobel Prize nominations to the table. He's the only candidate in the race from farther west than Illinois. He might also be the only candidate that doesn't scare the crap out of the NRA.

However, his admission that he hadn't advocated for the firing of the Attorney General because Alberto Gonzales is Hispanic was flatly racist, and there's no excuse for it. It creates a fair question about how he is currently managing personnel in New Mexico and how he would do it at the next level. I'd love to have him as Secretary of State or somewhere else where his foreign relations experience could be helpful, but I'm unwilling to support him for anything beyond that. He actually probably belongs on the cold list.


Joe Biden:
He's friendly and likeable. He's got mounds of experience. Thus far he's the only candidate to show a plan to fix the situation in Iraq, not just pull our troops out. He'll chew your ear off with ideas if you let him. He's probably raised more cash than any 2 candidates not named Clinton or Obama.

Really, though, one outburst near the end of the debate was a deal breaker for me. Less than an hour after being asked if Americans could trust him to mind his manners on the world stage, he called it "Happytalk" when other candidates were talking about ending war. I understand his point, that sometimes preemptive strikes are necessary and have worked wonders in other places, but I was appalled by the way in which he stated it, which might as well have started with "You're a moron." Pacifism is more than just "Happytalk." It's a legitimate desire to do everything we can to end the unnecessary shedding of American blood. And if Joe Biden can't hear talk of it without going off on an unprompted rant, then he's not worthy of the office.

Hilary Clinton:
She didn't embarrass herself in the debate. She's putting a happy face on her years of controversy and blaming them on "sticking up for her beliefs," which is partially true. She's got enormously huge money and the capacity to out-advertise any of her opponents 2-to-1.

She's also the candidate the Republicans can't wait to face. I'm a firm believer that voters should never choose a candidate just because they can beat the Republicans, but there's an argument to be made that there's no way she could beat a Republican. Months before the caucuses there are polls showing her with unfavorable ratings over 50%. There are whole libraries of old video that could be used against her day after day to convince dyed in the wool Democrats to stay home and Republicans to go out to the polls even if they'll die on the way home. Simply put, I don't think she stands a chance of being elected president.

Dennis Kucinich
Mike Gravel


IF YOU'RE BORED: Monday, April 30 is...

Liberation Day (Vietnam)

Yesterday was Greenery Day in Japan, and I celebrated it by going outside. Today is Liberation Day in Vietnam, and since it's supposed to get hot this afternoon, I'm going to liberate myself by going outside this morning.

I'll be back with an updated presidential hotlist this afternoon.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

READS: Thursday, April 26 is...

Take your kids to work day (US)
Union Day (Tanzania)

Today I feel a rare symmetry. I have no kids, but as my job search continues, I also still have no work. So it all works out.

Not a lot of news today, but big news:

The Civil Rights Bill, perhaps partially thanks to the efforts of many of you, passed relatively overwhelmingly last night. The Register, Bleeding Heartland and John Deeth all have coverage worth reading this morning.

Here's an interesting discussion to be had: Ticket quotas. According to today's Register, Pleasant Hill has been accused of having them. I'm not sure where I stand on them. On one hand, removing the element of discretion from an officer is certainly a bad idea, and accusations like this
Zimmerman's complaint alleges that another officer "was ordered to write a ticket to a subject every time he searched a car ... and write two tickets per shift."
are certainly disconcerting. On the other hand, if you're an advocate of responsible budgeting, then having an accurate estimate of the revenue generated by traffic citations is pretty useful. I'd be curious to hear what you, gentle reader, think.

Finally, the first presidential debate of the 2008 cycle is tonight. I'll be DVR'ing it and watching it later, as I do with most TV these days. But if you're interested in watching them with a group, or have a debate watching group you'd like to publicize, check out this post at Bleeding Heartland for a full listing.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

READS: Wednesdau, April 25 is...

Secretaries Day
Flag Day (Swaziland)

Perhaps today you can say thank you to your secretary by getting them a flag from Swaziland. It is a pretty cool one:

I wanted to take a moment today to draw your attention to the legislative session, which may wrap up as soon as Friday, but seems to have enough to do to stretch into next week. There are a couple pieces of legislation hanging out there that still have a chance, but they need our help.

VOICE: Bleeding Heartland has a post up today from the Public Campaign Action Fund letting us know what we can do to help get Clean Elections legislation passed. It's still being held up by leadership in committee, but perhaps if enough of us get behind it was can shove it through this roadblock.

CIVIL RIGHTS BILL: Both Common Iowan and John Deeth have a post up today noting that the bill could come up for a vote as soon as today, and listing people you can get in touch with if you have a story to share or an opinion to express.

These are two great pieces of legislation that would work wonders in helping move Iowa forward. If you've got a moment to spare today, consider lending a hand to help get them passed.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

READS: Tuesday, April 24 is...

Children's Day (Iceland)

Apparently in Iceland, every day is not Children's Day.

I'm going to have to make this quick, I'm working on wrestling stuff today:


John Edwards is the favorite candidate of Thoughts from the Oasis Amidst the Corn, and I think anyone who's voting for a candidate because they're not white or male should read why.

Bill Richardson
's TV ads are online. They're both focused on his foreign relations experience, which I think will resonate. If he had talked about foreign relations when he met with bloggers months ago, he may have done more to resonate with me.

Joe Biden is today's topic at Century of the Common Iowan.

Legislative Session:

Iowa sheriffs and prosecutors are upset, and reasonably so, over the failure to do anything to fix the unworkable 2000 foot law.

David Yepsen and John Deeth also have session roundups.

That's all for now. If you're still craving more, I'd recommend trying some ice cream.


Monday, April 23, 2007

More on Dodd

Seeing as I mentioned this morning that I don't know much about Dodd, I think it's only fair that I also point out that I just received the chance to learn a bit more.

This USA Today piece caught my eye while I was putting gas in my car this morning, so I picked it up. If you don't know much about Chris Dodd, or perhaps even if you do, it's worth reading.


READS: Monday, April 23 is...

Independence Day (Israel)

Ok, it's been a while, but I think it's finally time to bring the blog back. I've missed an awful lot, but I'm not going to go through it all in one sitting, so here are the reads I found notable from the past week or so:

According to Bleeding Heartland and others, Bill Richardson will be going up on TV today with an ad that's "Very out of the box and funny." I still don't like Richardson's Iowa chances, but if he can separate himself from the other candidates with some humor it will dramatically help him. I'm a firm believer that humor in political ads is both refreshing and attention grabbing. To stand a chance, Richardson needs to be both of those things.

My job search (which is ongoing, by the way) has taken me downtown several times over the last couple of weeks, giving me plenty of opportunities to drive past the Chris Dodd for President office set up on Grand. The first time I drove by it, I had a "He's still running?" moment. Apparently most voters in Marshall County's bean poll didn't know either. Dodd's 1 bean gives him slightly less than 1% in the poll, putting him even with Mike Gravel, and behind Dennis Kucinich. I recognize the highly unscientific nature of these polls, but when 105 people vote and only one of them votes for you, that typically means you've got a problem.

Apparently some people are concerned that John Edwards spends too much on his haircuts. I'm going to make this real simple:

If you're the kind of person who picks a candidate based on their hairstyle, close this blog and feel free to never come back.

Who cares where John Edwards gets his haircut? This quote from Dubuque barber Gene Sand is asinine:
"You know, I contributed to Edwards' campaign four years ago," says Sand, who has been cutting hair in this downtown shop since 1964. "I don't think I'll be going down that road again. He kind of blew it with me over this. I had my picture taken with him and they put it in the newspaper. I gave him money. You're sure about $250? You're not kidding me about that?"
Gene, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but your donation didn't buy you the right to cut John Edwards' hair in perpetuity. Apparently it did buy you some free advertising in the Register, though.

One last presidential note for today: Common Iowan remains the Iowa blogosphere's best voice on immigration issues, check out this post he wrote on his recent Tom Tancredo experience.

As it turns out, today's post is a bit light on local issues, but I do need to touch on VOICE. I think it's encouraging that the bill has gotten as far as it has this session, even if it does appear to be on its last legs. It's discouraging, however, to hear that my State Rep., Jo Oldson, is holding it up in committee, and it's even more discouraging to read reports that Mike Gronstal is cursing out supporters of the bill in the Capitol. Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Apparently a Democratic trifecta isn't enough to get VOICE legislation debated on the floor. There's still too much big money floating around.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Don't call it a comeback...

But I'm almost ready to come back.

Don't get me wrong, a break has been nice, but I've been hearing every so often that there are people out there who miss me.

I just need to find a new job, then I'll be good to go.

Maybe Monday? We'll see.