Political MoJo

Lay Off the Pot, Cops

| Thu Nov. 2, 2006 12:54 AM EST

Initiatives to make marijuana the "lowest law enforcement priority" are on ballots in five cities this year - California's Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Santa Monica, as well as Missoula, Montana and Eureka Springs, Arkansas. It's not quite as goofy an idea as it sounds - similar measures have already passed in Seattle and Oakland. No big surprise that three coastal California towns are thinking of following suit - but it sure does make me curious about Eureka Springs.

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Elections Are Great Business

| Thu Nov. 2, 2006 12:39 AM EST

Campaign spending on television ads is on track to hit a record $2 billion this year, which means a windfall for broadcasters, reports Bloomberg News (via the Wilshire and Washington blog). In some areas they're literally running out of airtime to sell; in others, they're happily price-gouging. "We start them out at the top fixed rate, which nobody pays by the way, then we double it. It will triple in the final week, " says the general manager of an Albuquerque station.

80% of Americans Think Bush's New Iraq Language is Just Spin

| Wed Nov. 1, 2006 10:00 PM EST

Via Political Wire (an excellent poll and politics site; if you haven't checked it out, you should):

"A substantial majority of Americans expect Democrats to reduce or end American military involvement in Iraq if they seize control of Congress next Tuesday, and say that Republicans would maintain -- or increase -- troop levels to try to win the war," according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

"The poll found that just 29% of Americans approve of the way President Bush is managing the war in Iraq, matching the lowest mark of his presidency. Nearly 70% of Americans said Mr. Bush did not have a plan to end the war, and 80% said Mr. Bush's latest offensive to rally public support for the conflict amounted to a change in language but not policy."

"The poll underlined the extent to which the war in Iraq has framed the midterm elections. It comes at a time when Democratic challengers across the country are running a final sweep of television advertisements attacking Mr. Bush's handling of the war and as even some Republican incumbents -- fearful of being swept out of office because of public opposition to the war -- have become critical of it."

In the generic congressional ballot, Democrats lead Republicans by a stunning 19 points, 53% to 33%.

Ann Coulter's Voting Violation! And Misuse of the Word "Ironic"!

| Wed Nov. 1, 2006 9:35 PM EST

Stop the presses! The Palm Beach Post reports that:

An alleged voting violation by GOP pundit and bestselling author Ann Coulter will be investigated by Palm Beach County State Attorney Barry Krischer's office.
Arthur Anderson, Palm Beach County's elections supervisor, said today that he would refer the accusation that Coulter voted knowingly in the wrong precinct Feb. 7 in a town of Palm Beach election to the state attorney "within 48 hours."
Anderson said that Coulter, since the allegations surfaced, made "efforts to distract and divert focus on the process regarding this complaint."
"I did express my frustration to the state attorney in a recent meeting and warned him I may need his services," Anderson said.
Ironically, Anderson said that Coulter's voting rights would not be rescinded for next week's election.

Ok, so that's not "ironic," just like rain on your wedding day or a black fly in your Chardonnay or a free ride when you've already paid aren't ironic either. These are all merely unfortunate (or perhaps, in the case of Coulter, bureaucratic.

Misuse (or abuse) of exclamation points in blog posts is, however, perfectly acceptable. Dontcha think?

There's No Apologizing in Politics!

| Wed Nov. 1, 2006 12:30 PM EST

To dip briefly into the Botchgate fray, when Bush called for an apology from Kerry during a campaign stop in Georgia yesterday it marked the tenth time that the word "apology" has been used in official speeches or remarks by the President and VP in their nearly six years in office. ("Apologize" shows up 24 times, mostly when the press apologize for interrupting, Bush for inconveniencing folks with his bike riding, etc.) Bush has always ducked from apologizing or taking any onus where things go awry, in Iraq and elsewhere. It's not like he hasn't been asked:

April 13, 2004 - Question re 9/11 Intelligence:

Q Two weeks ago, a former counterterrorism official at the NSC, Richard Clarke, offered an unequivocal apology to the American people for failing them prior to 9/11. Do you believe the American people deserve a similar apology from you, and would you be prepared to give them one?

THE PRESIDENT: Look, I can understand why people in my administration anguished over the fact that people lost their life. I feel the same way. I mean, I'm sick when I think about the death that took place on that day. And as I mentioned, I've met with a lot of family members and I do the best I do to console them about the loss of their loved one. As I mentioned, I oftentimes think about what I could have done differently. I can assure the American people that had we had any inkling that this was going to happen, we would have done everything in our power to stop the attack.
Here's what I feel about that. The person responsible for the attacks was Osama bin Laden. That's who's responsible for killing Americans. And that's why we will stay on the offense until we bring people to justice.

April 6, 2006 - Response to a Question re NSA Wiretapping:


THE PRESIDENT: I'd like to describe that decision I made about protecting this country. You can come to whatever conclusion you want. The conclusion is I'm not going to apologize for what I did on the terrorist surveillance program, and I'll tell you why. We were accused in Washington, D.C. of not connecting the dots, that we didn't do everything we could to protect you or others from the attack. And so I called in the people responsible for helping to protect the American people and the homeland. I said, is there anything more we could do.

June 14 2006 – Question re Plamegate:


Q Mr. President, when you ran for office for the first time, you said you would hold the White House to a higher ethical standard. Even if Karl Rove did nothing illegal, I wonder whether you can say now whether you approve of his conduct in the CIA leak episode, and do you believe he owes Scott McClellan or anyone else an apology for misleading them?
THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate the job that the prosecutor did. I thought he conducted himself well in this investigation. He took a very thorough, long look at allegations and rumors. And I, obviously, along with others in the White House, took a sigh of relief when he made the decision he made. And now we're going to move forward. And I trust Karl Rove, and he's an integral part of my team.


Katrina, Iraq, the list goes on. No apologies.

Democratic Ad Challenges "These Are the Stakes"

| Wed Nov. 1, 2006 12:29 PM EST

Countering the Republican National Committee's now-infamous TV ad quoting Osama bin Laden, Democrats today began airing a television spot arguing that the Iraq occupation has spread the military too thin, increased terrorism and diverted attention from seeking bin Laden's capture. It features arguments by three Iraq veterans—one of them an amputee—and retired General Wesley Clark, each of whom repeat the words, "because of Iraq."

The 30-second ad comes 11 days after Republicans began showing a 60-second spot suggesting the GOP was the only party capable of combating terrorism. To the sound of a ticking clock it featured a sepia-toned montage of terrorist leaders and their underlings carrying weapons, burning things and kicking people. It concluded: "These are the stakes." (The ad mirrored President Lyndon Baines Johnson's Cold-War-era "Daisy" ad, which helped re-elect him during the Vietnam War. That ad juxtaposed a girl plucking a daisy against an exploding nuclear bomb, saying, "These are the stakes to make a world in which all God's children can live or go into the dark.")

Sponsored by the VoteVets PAC, today's Democratic retort builds on the party's efforts to decouple the Iraq war from the War on Terror. It closes with Clark standing in front of a replay of the bin Laden ad like a well-dressed schoolteacher. "So, if you see commercials, telling you to be afraid of terrorism," he says, "remember, it's because of Iraq."

Meanwhile, the RNC moved on to more fertile national security terrain today, replacing the bin Laden ad on the front page of its website with a new spot calling on Sen. John Kerry to apologize for his comment yesterday that a poor education leads "you (to) get stuck in Iraq." Kerry said he'd meant to imply that Bush was uneducated, but the Republican ad suggested he was impugning rank-and-file soldiers—it juxtaposed the comment with quotes from Republicans lauding the troops.

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Don't Call It Civil War - OK, How About Chaos?

| Wed Nov. 1, 2006 11:14 AM EST

Just about everything you need to know about the horrendous state of Iraq is captured in this PowerPoint slide, obtained by the New York Times. Here it is in a nutshell:

iraqchart.gif

What bunch of freedom-hating doom-and-gloomers put this assessment out? None other than the U.S. Central Command.

I Had My Bible and I Had My Gun

| Wed Nov. 1, 2006 10:21 AM EST

Conrad Burns, running behind in Montana's Senate race, is the beneficiary of an advertising campaign by the National Rifle Association -- 7 billboards; 4,143 radio ads on 88 stations; 1,824 cable tv ads; and inserts in 11 newspapers.

Nationwide, the NRA is all over this election. In a video ad running on Newsmax, the NRA describes how victims of hurricane Katrina had their guns forcefully yanked out of their hands by bullying cops. One elderly woman who was trying to protect her dogs says she was slammed against the wall and put in a headlock by the invading police when they saw she was clutching a pistol in one hand. Then there's the little old African-American minister woman who was plenty put out when the cops came to her house. "Why come and get my gun?'' she says in the ad. "I am a good citizen. What are you worried about me for? I am a widow.I am 65 and I am here by myself.''

But she wasn't scared: "I had my Bible and I had my gun.''

Michigan Proposition is Ward Connerly's Latest Assault on Affirmative Action

| Tue Oct. 31, 2006 5:41 PM EST

Michigan's Proposition 2 (a dead ringer for California's Proposition 209 which passed in 1996) is in a tight spot in the polls with only a week to go.

The proposition would ban any affirmative action programs that "give preferential treatment to individuals or groups based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity, or national origin." Also known as the "Michigan Civil Rights Initiative" the proposition's campaign is funded by Ward Connerly, the same man responsible for the California proposal and is headed by Jennifer Gratz
plaintiff in the 2003 University of Michigan Supreme Court case, which upheld the school's use of race as a factor in admissions while also outlawing their formal points system in making such decisions.

Conservative students on the Michigan campus have been actively supporting the measure while the National Bar Association, the UAW, the ACLU and both the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates oppose it.

Connerly, who is African American, has spent $500,000 on the Michigan campaign, and has been on a zealous crusade to end affirmative action programs for more than a decade. As he told the New York Times, "When my toes turn up, that's when I'll stop fighting this."

Poll numbers suggest many in Michigan haven't made up their minds yet. An October 18 Detroit Free Press poll showed 41% in favor, 44% opposed and 15% undecided.

Should the measure pass California could be a window into the future, where numbers of Latino and African students in the state's University of California system have dropped significantly since 1997 (the year after Prop 209 passed). At UC Berkeley this year only 3% of the entering freshman class was African American and at UCLA the number was 2%, the lowest in 30 years.

—Amaya Rivera

No Sex Please, We're Consenting Adults

| Tue Oct. 31, 2006 4:55 PM EST

It's not news that the Bush administration doesn't want teenagers to think about sex, much less do the deed. (It's spent $1 billion on abstinence-only programs already—see "Virginity for Sale" in the current issue of Mother Jones.) But now it's encouraging grown adults not to go there, either. From today's USA Today:

Now the government is targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of its abstinence-only programs, which include millions of dollars in federal money that will be available to the states under revised federal grant guidelines for 2007. [snip]

But Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at the Department of Health and Human Services, said the revision is aimed at 19- to 29-year-olds because more unmarried women in that age group are having children. [snip]

"The message is 'It's better to wait until you're married to bear or father children,' " Horn said. "The only 100% effective way of getting there is abstinence."

Certainly, a 23-year-old can't be trusted to figure out contraception. And, let's not forget that avoiding sex before marriage will save you not just from premature parenthood but a host of other ills (to quote one federally-funded abstinence curriculum):

"Infertility, isolation, jealousy, poverty, heartbreak, substance abuse, AIDS, pregnancy, cervical cancer, genital herpes, unstable long-term commitments, depression, embarrassment, meaningless wedding, sexual violence, personal disappointment, suicide, feelings of being used, loss of honesty, loneliness, loss of personal goals, distrust of others, pelvic inflammatory disease, loss of reputation, fear of pregnancy, disappointed parents, loss of self-esteem..."

Can't wait to see the educational materials that will be coming out of the Don't Sleep With Anyone Before 30 campaign.