Saturday, December 09, 2006

Obama vs. The Third Tier

This may not be a fair comparison between Presidential hopefuls but this example is indicative of Obama's rising star power. This weekend in New Hampshire both Sen. Obama and Sen. Bayh are going to be up in the granite state. Though only one has sold out his events.

From the Boston Globe:

Both Senators Evan Bayh and Barack Obama will be in New Hampshire this weekend. While staff members for Bayh may have to scramble to find 50 people to show up for his three events, Obama has a guaranteed audience of 2,225.

Now I don't want to turn into a candidate troll, continually trumpeting Obama's highlights yet against Evan Bayh it really isn't hard to pick sides among the two. Sen. Bayh just doesn't mesh with my progressive politics and he hasn't been much of a leader in the Democratic Party, nor put up much campaign cash in the last election cycle. He took in plenty of money and spent plenty, but the percentage given to federal and non-federal candidates is minimal at best.

One last thing. The media is all over him and it is still 2006. As long as he drops little nuggets like these, the press will fawn over him for a long time to come

Friday, December 08, 2006

Obama's Experience

When sizing up the probable 2008 Presidential candidates, many of Obama's detractors point to the fact that he has only served two years (four by 2008) in the U.S. Senate following a stint in the Illinois State Senate.

Rich Miller of the Chicago Sun Times points out that another President that hailed from the state of Illinois had a similar amount of experience before running and winning the Presidency....way back in 1860. That's right, Abraham Lincoln served eight years as an Illinois State Rep. before being elected to the U.S. Congress for one term. Miller makes some great points in his article:

My dad has been pushing for an Obama presidency since before Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate.......

The experience issue is less of a problem for me. Abraham Lincoln's sole governmental experience was eight years in the Illinois House and just two years in Congress, yet he was one of our greatest presidents. Besides, more "experience" wallowing through the disgusting cesspool that is Washington may only hurt Obama, not help him.

Voters are growing tired of the stench in Washington these days. In fact the American people threw out a lot of the garbage last month, giving both chambers of Congress back to the Democratic Party. However the Bush Administration will fight hard against the new agenda and especially against the re-assertion of Congressional oversight that will restore the Legislative's branch's duty to provide checks and balances on the Executive's power.

In two years America will want to continue changing the political landscape by ridding Washington of the remaining Republican greed and excess, not to mention the debacle in Iraq. Obama has always been against the war where others have only recently changed their views (Edwards, Kerry, etc) and one remains a hawk (Hillary). The only other person that has been against the war from the start is Al Gore, who has continued to say he won't run.....for now.

In my book Obama is the man for the job, but I will happily take a Gore/Obama ticket when it comes time to replace George Bush on November 4th, 2008.

Do Democrats Hate Families?

Congressman Jack Kingston (Republican-GA) believes it to be true. He believes that Democrats don't care about his family or any Congressional member because of some new House rules being imposed by incoming House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer.

"Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families -- that's what this says."

What could Democrats do that warrants this accusation you ask? Well it seems that new Majority Whip Steny Hoyer wants Congress to have a FIVE DAY WORK WEEK!!!! I thought it was unbelievable too when I read it. I mean, doesn't everyone deserve a job that starts on Tuesday night and ends Thursday afternoon??? Roy Blunt who used to be the Majority whip before the Republicans took their thumping from last month's elections was a much better boss when it came to time concerns.

Obviously Steny Hoyer isn't aware that the obligation of a Congress(wo)man is to spending every waking moment trying to fundraise for the next election to hold onto power. Conducting the people's business you say? Meh! You damn idealists. Now those poor 435 souls will have to work hours like the rest of us, sort of at least.

Even Fox News network host John Gibson took issue with the (lack of) work ethic of Congressman Kingston. The press inside the beltway felt differently, as seen during Steny Hoyer's press conference the other day :

"I have bad news for you," Hoyer told reporters. "Those trips you had planned in January, forget 'em. We will be working almost every day in January, starting with the 4th."

The reporters groaned. "I know, it's awful, isn't it?" Hoyer empathized.

Starting the year on the 4th of January?!?!?! The first two weeks of the month are meant for vacations, not to deal with the wintry D.C. weather. Instead of laying on a beach somewhere off to the south, Republicans will have to endure the Democrats legislative agenda. The first 100 hours will be especially brutal.

Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."

Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.

Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds _ "I hope with a veto-proof majority," she added in an Associated Press interview Thursday.

Speaker Pelosi obviously hates the families of lobbyists, though she continues on:

All the days after that: "Pay as you go," meaning no increasing the deficit, whether the issue is middle class tax relief, health care or some other priority.

To do that, she said, Bush-era tax cuts would have to be rolled back for those above "a certain level." She mentioned annual incomes of $250,000 or $300,000 a year and higher, and said tax rates for those individuals might revert to those of the Clinton era. Details will have to be worked out, she emphasized.

"We believe in the marketplace," Pelosi said of Democrats, then drew a contrast with Republicans. "They have only rewarded wealth, not work."

"We must share the benefits of our wealth" beyond the privileged few, she added.

Are you as shocked as I am? Our country is certainly going down the tubes now. Rewarding wealth over work has been the American way least for me, I was four months old when Ronald Reagan took over.

The Death of a New York Icon

This isn't an obituary of anyone you know in New York, nor is it a history lesson about Fiorello La Guardia or Boss Tweed. The New York icon I am talking about is dying a slow death right here in our midst. The victim is the Ash tree. The culprits are greenhouse gases. The slowly warming climate is eliminating the habitat for these trees that helped build New York City in it's infancy.

These trees once dominated the landscape before the Empire State and Chrysler buildings do now.

The New York Magazine had a good article on global warming and the effects on New York. It goes into more than just the decline of the Ash (El Nino, Hurricanes, etc) so please read more here. Some excerpts concerning the Ash tree below:

....its time is about to come to an end. In recent years, foresters have quietly decided not to plant any new ash trees. Why? Because the city is becoming too warm and dry for them, and they’re dying off. Green and white ash, our local varieties, are classified as "hardiness zone three or four," northern trees that prefer moist, well-drained soil. New York used to be like that, 200 years ago—but the temperature in the past century has risen over two degrees, and it’s getting drier every year. "Last year we had stretches without rain that were practically six weeks long," says Neil Calvanese, vice-president of operations for the Central Park Conservancy, which maintains the park. And the warmer weather has introduced new wood-eating bugs that afflict the tree. Normally an ash will live 250 years, but this summer Calvanese had to chop down a majestic 130-footer when it stopped thriving. "Ash in the park," he says, "I really don’t see as having much of a future."

So he’s decided to let the ash slowly die off. An urban forester has to think decades into the future, and the city’s only going to get hotter and hotter. Instead of the ash, city foresters are starting to plant trees like the persimmon, which thrives in southern climates like Washington’s or even Atlanta’s. Because that’s what the future of New York looks like, weather-wise: There will be fewer and fewer wooden baseball bats and church pews—but plenty of reddish-purple persimmon fruit.

One of the only places to see these trees in the city reminiscent of the old days is up by the Ravine in the North Woods section of Central Park. A few places in the park offer complete isolation from the constantly humming city and this place is one of them.

The warming climate has enabled the Emerald Ash Borer to survive in what were harsher environs. Those wood-eating bugs mentioned in the article aren't only a problem in the city but in many other states as well. The little guy seen below has killed 20 million Ash trees in the midwest as well.

The emerald ash borer's small size and concealed destruction make it more difficult to identify than another exotic pest, the Asian longhorned beetle, which destroys several types of hardwood trees and set off panic when it was found in the Chicago area in recent years.

Today didn't feel like Global Warming was much of a problem. An 18 degree wind chill this morning felt quite bitter to this SoCal native. Though all we have to do is take a step back and see that the big picture shows how much the climate is changing and doing so more and more quickly as time goes on.