Blogs

Hillary Clinton's NEW Plant Problem (It's CNN's Problem, Too)

| Thu Nov. 29, 2007 12:12 AM EST

keith-kerr.jpg The gay general (as he shall forever be known) who asked a question about gays serving in the military at the just-completed Republican YouTube Debate is apparently a member of a Hillary Clinton's "LGBT Americans For Hillary Steering Committee." This was not disclosed by the general, the Clinton campaign, or by CNN during the debate.

The man's name is Keith Kerr and he's a retired Brigadier General who served for 43 years. He was actually seated in the crowd tonight and was invited by Anderson Cooper, CNN's host, to provide comments after the candidates tried to answer his question. (Romney's answer was particularly pathetic, because he once said he "looked forward" to the day when gays could serve openly in the military, causing yet another flip-flop. Romney has a troubled history with gay rights, from the Republican point of view.) Kerr went on for some time, drawing scattered boos from the Republican crowd.

They would have booed louder if they had known that Kerr is with the Clinton campaign. The questions become: Did Cooper know about this? If so, why didn't he disclose it? Did the Clinton campaign coordinate with Kerr? If so, is it accurate to say Hillary Clinton has another plant problem? And if not, Kerr probably just gave the campaign he supports an additional headache.

Kerr's question is after the jump.

Update: Clinton camp denies the General was planted. CNN denies knowing he is affiliated with the Clinton campaign. "Certainly, had we had that information, we would have acknowledged that in using his question, if we had used it at all," said Anderson Cooper.

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Holiday Music Mercy Courtesy of The Killers

| Wed Nov. 28, 2007 9:17 PM EST

The holiday season offers no shortage of peril: themed turtleneck sweaters, Bûche de Noël, office party punch. And of course, the one holiday intrusion that none of us can avoid, from the dawn of Black Friday through 'til Christmas Day, is the ubiquitous playing and marketing of Christmas music. This year, if all the harking of angels on high and Beach Boys covers are getting you so down that even Neil Diamond's "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" can't raise you up, The Killers have just the song for you. "Don't Shoot Me Santa" is the feel-good—in a super dark way—iTunes download of the season, with all its proceeds going to AIDS charities as part of Bono's RED campaign. For those of us who have always dreamed of tying up Brandon Flowers with tinsel and tormenting him in the desert, Christmas has come a little early this year.

God Does A Flip-Flop - Tells Richard Roberts To Resign From ORU

| Wed Nov. 28, 2007 8:52 PM EST

Richard Roberts resigned as president of Oral Roberts University today. He did so against his will, because, he said, God told him to do it. According to Roberts, the son of ORU founder Oral Roberts, God has been waffling lately with regard to Roberts' future.

A lawsuit accuses Roberts of lavish spending while the university faced more than $50 million in debt. According to the suit, he went on shopping sprees, bought a stable of horses, and sent his daughter to the Bahamas aboard the university jet. Referring to the three former professors who filed the suit as his "persecutors," Roberts said that God had originally instructed him to deny all allegations, but on Thanksgiving Day, did a turnaround and told him to resign his post.

The lawsuit was not just about Roberts' alleged spending during a time when ORU was $50 million in debt, but also included an allegation that Roberts illegally mobilized students to campaign for a Republican mayoral candidate. Another allegation was that Roberts' on-campus house had been remodeled fourteen times in eleven years, and one that did not make the lawsuit was that Roberts used university-purchased cell phones to text messages to under-age males in the middle of the night.

Here is the text of what Roberts said God told him after God had a change of mind about the matter: "We live in a litigious society. Anyone can get mad and file a lawsuit against another person whether they have a legitimate case or not. This lawsuit ... is about intimidation, blackmail and extortion."

Not all of the news was bad. According to Roberts, God also said that something miraculous would occur on the university's behalf if he resigned. And now Mart Green, founder of the Christian office and educational supply store chain Mardel, said he would immediately give $8 million to the university, with another $62 million to come after a review of the university's financial records.

Clean Up the Coal Plants, Then Clean Out the Fridge

| Wed Nov. 28, 2007 8:38 PM EST

pacoalpowerplant.jpg

While the filthy coal industry touts its far-off "clean coal" technology to help keep federal subsidies flowing, perhaps there's a simpler solution to the emissions and toxins these plants belch. A Texas company called Skyonic has developed a process it claims can reduce smokestack carbon by up to 90 percent by transforming the C02 into solid NaHCO3, better known by the brand name Arm & Hammer. Hey, baking soda from coal waste! Great idea, especially if—as the company claims—the stuff comes out food-grade clean. (Even so, I think I'll just use mine to eliminate fridge odors.)

The process, which is now being tested on a pilot scale in Texas, is driven by heat from the waste gases. It involves an input of sodium hydroxide (lye), which is produced on-site, and produces as byproducts hydrogen and chlorine gases, which could be sold at a profit along with the baking soda, the company says.

Skyonic CEO Joe David Jones told ZDNET, where you can read more on this, that his company's "SkyMine" technology also eliminates 97 percent of the heavy metals and most of the acids and nitrogen compounds, which would eliminate the need for pricey smokestack scrubbers. The company is working on a full-scale system it hopes to install in 2009 that would, it says, absorb the waste output of a large (500MW) plant—which includes about 338,000 tons of carbon annually.

Sounds almost too good to be true; pie-in-the-SkyMine, you might say. Still, if it pans out, there'll be plenty of baking soda for that pie, and one less reason to hate the coal industry. 'Course, there is a little matter of blowing the tops off mountains. ...

Clean Up the Coal Plants, Then Clean Out the Fridge

| Wed Nov. 28, 2007 7:46 PM EST

pacoalpowerplant.jpg

While the filthy coal industry touts its far-off "clean coal" technology to help keep federal subsidies flowing, perhaps there's a simpler solution to the emissions and toxins these plants belch. A Texas company called Skyonic has developed a process it claims can reduce smokestack carbon by up to 90 percent by transforming the C02 into solid NaHCO3, better known by the brand name Arm & Hammer. Hey, baking soda from coal waste! Great idea, especially if—as the company claims—the stuff comes out food-grade clean. (Even so, I think I'll just use mine to eliminate fridge odors.)

The process, which is now being tested on a pilot scale in Texas, is driven by heat from the waste gases. It involves an input of sodium hydroxide (lye), which is produced on-site, and produces as byproducts hydrogen and chlorine gases, which could be sold at a profit along with the baking soda, the company says.

Skyonic CEO Joe David Jones told ZDNET, where you can read more on this, that his company's "SkyMine" technology also eliminates 97 percent of the heavy metals and most of the acids and nitrogen compounds, which would eliminate the need for pricey smokestack scrubbers. The company is working on a full-scale system it hopes to install in 2009 that would, it says, absorb the waste output of a large (500MW) plant—which includes about 338,000 tons of carbon annually.

Sounds almost too good to be true; pie-in-the-SkyMine, you might say. Still, if it pans out, there'll be plenty of baking soda for that pie, and one less reason to hate the coal industry. 'Course, there is a little matter of blowing the tops off mountains. ...

Habeas Corpus: Don't Leave Home Without It?

| Wed Nov. 28, 2007 7:29 PM EST
card_member500.jpg

Is it me, or is this American Express ad trying to turn extraordinary rendition, black sites, and military tribunals into a tagline? Or is it just a sad reminder that even a credit-card company is more committed to due process than the U.S. government? (Spotted on the Vanity Fair website, where I was considering equally unsettling images of Christopher Hitchens getting his inner thighs waxed. Seriously.)

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Huckabee Explains Himself on Abortion Inconsistency

| Wed Nov. 28, 2007 7:02 PM EST

I exchanged emails with Mike Huckabee's director of research this afternoon. The topic was Fred Thompson's assertions that Huckabee once supported the federalist position on abortion, which Thompson currently supports. If true, this would undercut Huckabee's standing as the strongest pro-lifer in the race, and make him look inconsistent. The research director denied Thompson's claims and said "Gov. Huckabee has always supported passage of a constitutional amendment to protect the right to life."

Thompson's claim rests on two quotes his campaign was able to drudge up. They are both on display at the link I provide above. In regards to the first, from the Washington Times, the Huckabee campaign says that GOP was having an internal debate over abortion's place in the party platform in 1995. The debate was between federalist language (overturn Roe and leave it to the states) and no language whatsoever. Choosing between those two bad options, Huckabee supported the federalist language.

In regards to the second passage, from Right Wing News, in which Huckabee says explicitly "first of all, it should be left to the states," the campaign provided no explanation. I asked mulitple times.

I also asked for a quote from 2006 or earlier in which Huckabee demonstrated support for the Human Life Amendment and they did not supply one. It is possible, of course, that Huckabee did support a HLA before 2007 but simply did not have his position recorded by the press.

If I hear more, I will write more.

In Iowa, a Complicated Threesome, as Edwards Aims at Obama

| Wed Nov. 28, 2007 6:30 PM EST

John Edwards has generally gone easy on Barack Obama. His wife Elizabeth in August did call Obama "holier than thou." Edwards has gently questioned Obama's commitment to establishing a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, and he has wondered aloud about Obama's willingness to fight special interests and lobbyists, citing Obama's talk about bringing people together and rising above the political fray. But following a key rule of politics, Edwards has shot most of his arrows at front-running Hillary Clinton. That may be changing.

Obama has taken the lead in the most recent poll in Iowa, a do-or-die state for Edwards, who lags in third place behind Clinton. So today Edwards, who just last week was defending Obama from an Clinton's mockery, took direct aim at Obama. In a statement, Edwards denounced Obama's health care plan:

We need true universal health care reform that covers every single man, woman, and child in America. It is wrong to leave anyone without the care they need. A universal system will work better for all of us – delivering better care at lower cost. Barack Obama's plan leaves out 15 million people. The truth is that some people will choose not to buy insurance even though it's affordable, knowing that the rest of us will pay for their emergency room visits.

Edwards is jumping into the fight that has been going on between Clinton and Obama regarding their respective health care proposals. It's not a tremendous blast. But is this a sign that Edwards will be gunning for Obama and that the Democratic race, as the Iowa caucuses approach, will turn into a circular firing squad--which is what's been happening on the Republican side? In politics, as in much of life, a threesome can get quite complicated.

Should Spanking Your Kid Be Illegal?

| Wed Nov. 28, 2007 3:25 PM EST

spanking.jpg

It's a question a political reporter might want to put to Mitt Romney and the Five Brothers, as the Massachusetts state legislature is currently considering legislation that would make it a crime for parents to spank their children in their own homes. Does Mitt support the bill? Inquiring minds want to know!

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Won't Disclose Donors Without a Fight

| Wed Nov. 28, 2007 3:18 PM EST

For years, big (and often unpopular) corporations like drug and tobacco companies, have used innocuous-sounding trade associations to lobby on their behalf, without having to disclose who picks up the tab. But a new law Congress passed earlier this year is designed to put an end to the practice. Under the threat of criminal penalties, the lobbying reform act requires trade groups to disclose members who contribute more than $5,000 in a quarter and who are involved in planning or directing lobbying activities. Not surprisingly, big businesses are not happy about this, particularly the criminal penalty part.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers fired the first shot across the bow yesterday, sending a letter to the Secretary of the Senate and the clerk of the House asking for "guidance" on how to interpret the new reporting requirements. They're essentially asking to exempt a lot of people who might otherwise be outed by the new law on the grounds that the law is an unconstitutional intrusion into their inner workings.

The chamber isn't fond of disclosure. For instance, the Institute for Legal Reform, the chamber's $40 million-a-year tort reform lobbying arm, failed to disclose to the IRS four years and millions of dollars worth of taxable spending on political races. A few years ago, it secretly bought its own newspaper in Madison County, Illinois, where it was spending millions to defeat liberal state court judges. The paper generated a regular stream of chamber propaganda that got treated like bona fide news until its owners got outed by the Washington Post. Despite the chamber's complaints about the evils of the American legal system, yesterday's letter is a pretty good indication that it will spend some time there before it ever gives up exactly how much radioactive industries contribute to its lobbying efforts.