2008 - %3, June

Obama, McCain Working Together on Good Government Bill

| Thu Jun. 5, 2008 10:13 AM EDT

From the Hill:

Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are quietly working together on a good-government bill despite their campaign-trail battle over who is tougher against Washington's special interests.
McCain's Senate office contacted Obama's office Monday night asking to sign on to a bill opening federal government contracts to public scrutiny, according to three knowledgeable sources.
Before the call, Obama had been working on the measure primarily with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), an ardent proponent of eliminating wasteful government spending and an early supporter and longtime Senate ally of McCain's.
After learning that Obama and Coburn were introducing the bill without his backing, McCain's staffers immediately contacted Coburn to express concern and a desire to be named as an original co-sponsor of the update. They then called Obama's office.
Obama staffers were happy to comply with McCain's request to sign on, an Obama adviser said, because they knew support from the two presumptive nominees could propel the legislation to passage in the final months of a packed legislative schedule.

Coburn's reason for why he didn't bring McCain on from the beginning? "I'm not good at politics," he told the Hill. "I never have been." Ha.

Anyway, good for Sens. Obama and McCain. They deserve kudos not just for working together in a time when they are competitors, but also for pushing part of the good government agenda. Now they should tackle the rest of it.

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Clinton Effectively Drops Out

| Wed Jun. 4, 2008 9:43 PM EDT

Just received from the Clinton campaign:

Senator Clinton will be hosting an event in Washington, DC to thank her supporters and express her support for Senator Obama and party unity. This event will be held on Saturday to accommodate more of Senator Clinton's supporters who want to attend.

More details from the AP:

On the telephone call with impatient House supporters, Clinton was urged to draw a close to the contentious campaign, or at least express support for Obama. Her decision to acquiesce caught many in the campaign by surprise and left the campaign scrambling to finalize the logistics and specifics behind her campaign departure.

How anyone could be surprised by her conceding at this point is beyond me.

Update: The Obama campaign says it is open to paying off some of Clinton's campaign debt. "Obviously we want to help each other," says Obama surrogate Tom Daschle.

Eat Local Foods, Grow Small Farms

| Wed Jun. 4, 2008 6:58 PM EDT

461px-Fraises_1_Luc_Viatour.jpg It's not just for elites anymore. A survey of Midwesterners finds that even average food shoppers are willing to pay a premium for locally grown food. They'll pay as much as a third more if the food comes from a small local farm rather than a corporate farm. The study from Ohio State University, published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, shows that more shoppers are willing to pay for ripe local food—suggesting small farmers might be less efficient on the production side and still manage to be more profitable on the revenue side by selling at the premium price.

Shoppers were surveyed at 17 Ohio locations, including seven retail grocery stores, six on-site farm markets and four farmers' markets. They were presented with two product options. Both were baskets of strawberries, but they were presented under 80 combinations of price, freshness, farm location, and farm type. Data from 477 surveys revealed the average shopper was willing to pay 48 cents more for local strawberries. Shoppers at farm markets were willing to pay almost a third more, 92 cents above the $3 base for a quart of berries. Freshness was also important. Farm market shoppers were willing to pay 73 cents more for newly-harvested food and retail shoppers 54 cents more. The researchers tested interest in supporting small versus large farms by naming one fictional berry producer "Fred's" and the other "Berries Inc." Shoppers in grocery stores were willing to pay 17 cents extra for berries from Fred's, and farm market shoppers were willing to pay 42 cents more.

Listen up small farmers, boutique farmers, disenchanted farmers, your day may be coming (again). Many of us want fresher, tastier food grown carefully and closer to home. Rising fuel prices mean cheap cherries from Chile won't be cheap forever.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent, lecturer, and 2008 winner of the Kiriyama Prize and the John Burroughs Medal Award.

Video: Terry McAuliffe Loses It on The Daily Show

| Wed Jun. 4, 2008 4:06 PM EDT

Is he doing a bit? Is this a shoot-the-moon strategy? Is it the giddiness of a man who knows some sort of secret bombshell Obama revelation is about to hit the fan, which will somehow magically switch everybody's allegiances to Hillary? Or is he just on gigantic mounds of crack cocaine?

Update: Jonathan Stein has already noted on Mojoblog that this guy is loony tunes, but that he'd "want him in my camp." But Jonathan, think of the crack bills! No wonder they're $20 million in debt...

I Suppose This Was Inevitable

| Wed Jun. 4, 2008 3:11 PM EDT

RNC releases a Democrats against Obama ad.

Better than Republican advertisements in the past, at least.

Hillary's Historic Impact Already Felt

| Wed Jun. 4, 2008 1:41 PM EDT

I'm with Dana Goldstein:

Now that the endless primary is over, American women -- especially those engaged with politics -- owe Hillary Clinton a "thank you," no matter which candidate or even political party they support. Clinton has profoundly altered and enhanced, probably forever, the role of women in American political life....
Over the course of this historic, thrilling, aggressive primary election, we've seen more female pundits than ever before writing and speaking about presidential politics. We've experienced unprecedented interest from male politicos in women's participation in the electoral process. And demands for women's leadership have been given their fairest hearing to date in the United States, with Democrats nationwide expecting Obama to give close consideration to female vice-presidential prospects -- not only because there are a few wildly successful and talented women who would be great at the job, but also as a gesture of good will toward the feminist energy that animated so many Clinton supporters....
Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas are among the top three most frequently-mentioned vice-presidential prospects, trailing only Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia... it is inconceivable that the lady governors would be receiving anything close to a fair hearing had Clinton not first demonstrated how hungry a large segment of the Democratic base is to see a woman president. Neither Napolitano nor Sebelius endorsed Clinton, but both must feel some debt toward her path-breaking campaign, which raised their own national profiles.

Check out the whole thing.

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The Change We Need, But Whither Stem Cells?

| Wed Jun. 4, 2008 12:50 PM EDT

Barack Obama's speech last night was a changemaker, an oratory sweep full of grand pledges. And while he touched on most of the big issues with the promise of a strong agenda:

The economy, "the struggles facing working families can't be solved by spending billions of dollars on more tax breaks for big corporations and wealthy CEOs, but by giving a the middle-class a tax break."

Foreign policy, "I won't stand here and pretend that there are many good options left in Iraq, but what's not an option is leaving our troops in that country for the next hundred years - especially at a time when our military is overstretched, our nation is isolated, and nearly every other threat to America is being ignored."

Health care, "[we need a] health care plan that guarantees insurance to every American who wants it and brings down premiums for every family who needs it."

Energy policy, "[we need] an energy policy that works with automakers to raise fuel standards, and makes corporations pay for their pollution, and oil companies invest their record profits in a clean energy future - an energy policy that will create millions of new jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced."

Education, "we owe it to our children to invest in early childhood education; to recruit an army of new teachers and give them better pay and more support; to finally decide that in this global economy, the chance to get a college education should not be a privilege for the wealthy few, but the birthright of every American."

Conspicuously absent were some of the third-rail issues that will need to be reckoned with in his plans for change:

Mathematical Notes in the Wake of the Primary's End

| Wed Jun. 4, 2008 12:50 PM EDT

We finally have some hard answers on the popular vote.

According to Real Clear Politics, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote if you give zero votes to Obama in Michigan and/or you leave out estimates for the four caucus states that have not released popular vote totals (IA, NV, ME, WA).

However, if you use estimates for those four states and you give Obama the "uncommitted" vote in Michigan the final tally was:

Obama: 18,107,710
Clinton: 18,046,007

That's 48.1 percent to 47.9 percent. Obama's margin of victory was thinner than turnip soup, as Dan Rather would say.

Also, Open Left has a good rundown of when each candidate earned their delegates. (Obama pulled down more than Clinton in January and in February, there was essentially no difference in March, and Clinton beat Obama in April-June.) Noting that the only period where the results were truly lopsided was that post-Super Tuesday period in February, blogger tremayne notes:

Delegate-wise, Sen. Obama won the race by essentially tying Sen. Clinton on Super Duper Tuesday (can we go back to just regular-sized Super Tuesdays or smaller?) and then going on his "rest of Feb. run." 121 of his 126 pledged delegate margin occurred in this period. And incidentally, only 4 of those 11 contests were caucuses which benefited Obama by a margin of +48. The other +73 pledged delegates in this period came from primary states.

For an excellent article on how Obama's people understood the rules of the race and the impact of the calendar from the very beginning, check this out.

Terry McAuliffe Never, Ever Says Die

| Wed Jun. 4, 2008 12:26 PM EDT

Top Clintonista Terry McAuliffe, quoted by TNR's Michael Crowley yesterday night:

"Tonight was Hillary's night!" he exclaimed. "We won tonight! We won in South Dakota! We keep winning!"

He may be delusional, but I'd want him in my camp.

Obama at AIPAC

| Wed Jun. 4, 2008 11:24 AM EDT

Some key take-aways from Barack Obama's speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) today:

I will bring to the White House an unshakeable commitment to Israel's security. That starts with ensuring Israel's qualitative military advantage. ...I will ensure Israel can defend itself from any threat, from Gaza to Tehran. ...
As president I will use all elements of American power to pressure Iran. I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything.
That starts with aggressive, principled tough diplomacy with clear eyed understanding of our interests. We have no time to waste. ... We have tried limited, piecemeal talks, outsourced to other parties. It has not worked. It is time for the US to lead ....
I have no interest to sit down just for sake of talking. But as president I would be willing at time and place of my choosing, if and only if it advances the interests of the United States. It is time once again to make diplomacy succeed.