Obama Pulling In Large Crowds Nationwide; Video of Austin Appearance On Line

I just quoted one candidate for the nomination. If you’d like to hear another, the video of Barack Obama’s speech in Austin from Friday is available on line. The has campaign spread well beyond the traditional living rooms of Iowa and New Hampshire voters at a very early date. AP reports that Obama is building his national reputation in this manner and lining up small donors nation wide. They also report that these appearances are bringing in more people than George Bush when he speaks, as well as more than the other Democratic candidates.

“I think the crowds are indicative of people wanting a fresh face and wanting a leader who can bring America forward,” said Trav Robertson, an experienced South Carolina Democratic campaign operative who attended events for Obama and rival Hillary Rodham Clinton in the past week and hasn’t settled on a candidate to support.

Robertson said both Clinton and Obama brought out packed and excited crowds, although Obama held his event in a larger setting and seemed to bring out more people he hadn’t seen around in politics before.

Richardson Calls For Diplomacy On Iran

With Tom Vilsack out of the race, there might be an opening for Bill Richardson to get some attention from those who believe that an experienced Governor is the best choice, especially one from a red state. It is hard for the second tier candidates to get attention with such big names as Clinton, Obama, and Edwards dominating the news, but Richardson is trying to get more attention for his foreign policy views in an op-ed in today’s Washington Post. Richardson, a former ambassador to the United Nations, calls for diplomacy to handle the risk of Iran’s nuclear program. Here’s a portion:

Saber-rattling is not a good way to get the Iranians to cooperate. But it is a good way to start a new war — a war that would be a disaster for the Middle East, for the United States and for the world. A war that, furthermore, would destroy what little remains of U.S. credibility in the community of nations.

A better approach would be for the United States to engage directly with the Iranians and to lead a global diplomatic offensive to prevent them from building nuclear weapons. We need tough, direct negotiations, not just with Iran but also with our allies, especially Russia, to get them to support us in presenting Iran with credible carrots and sticks.

No nation has ever been forced to renounce nuclear weapons, but many have chosen to do so. The Iranians will not end their nuclear program because we threaten them and call them names. They will renounce nukes because we convince them that they will be safer and more prosperous if they do that than if they don’t. This feat will take more than threats and insults. It will take skillful American diplomatic leadership.

Addressing a major foreign policy issue which will be faced by the next president seems to be a better way to spend the week than fighting over what a Hollywood fund raiser had to say.

Carter Pushing For Gore To Run

Earlier in the week I wrote about speculation that Al Gore might announce plans to run for President should he be on stage to accept an Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth. While Gore won’t get the backing of the last Democratic president for obvious reasons, he does have the backing of a previous one. Jimmy Carter, in an interview to appear on This Week, expresses his support for Gore:

Carter told ABC News, “If Al should decide to run — which I’m afraid he won’t — I would support Al Gore.”

The former Democratic President asserted Gore could accomplish much more in the White House than he ever could as a private citizen, saying to Stephanopoulos, “His burning issue now is global warming and preventing it.  He can do infinitely more to accomplish that goal as in the incumbent in the White House, than he can making even movies that get — you know, that get Oscars.”

While he has been pushing for him to run, Carter does not believe this is likely to happen:

Despite public pressure from Carter and others, the former President does not believe Gore will make a second bid for the White House saying, “I don’t think he will.  I’ve put so much pressure on Al to run that he’s almost gotten aggravated with me.”

Carter told Stephanopoulos that he had not called Gore “lately” adding, “He almost told me, the last time I talked, ‘Don’t call me anymore.'”

Carter joked that Gore had offered to support him in 2008 and referred to Gore as “my favorite” in the interview, concluding, “I really have not expressed any public approval or endorsement or preference for any of the Democratic candidates except (Gore).”

Psychics Hired to Find Bin Laden and WMD

They haven’t found where Osama bin Laden is hiding. They haven’t found WMD (except in the imagination of right wing bloggers). You can’t say they aren’t trying everything. The Daily Mail reports that declassified papers from the British Ministry of Defense reveal that psychics were hired in the hopes of using them to find bin Laden and WMD:

Newly declassified documents revealed that the MoD conducted an experiment to see if volunteers could ‘see’ objects hidden inside an envelope.

It is claimed the ministry hoped positive results would allow it to use psychics to ‘remotely view’ Bin Laden’s base and also to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

However, after running up a bill of £18,000 of taxpayers’ money, defence chiefs concluded there was ‘little value’ in using psychic powers in the defence of the nation and the research was taken no further.

The study, conducted in 2002, involved blindfolding test subjects and asking them to ‘see’ the contents of sealed brown envelopes containing pictures of objects and public figures.

The MoD tried to recruit 12 ‘known’ psychics who advertised their abilities on the Internet, but when they all refused they were forced to use ‘novice’ volunteers.

Cheney Is As Nutty As The Right Wing Bloggers

Back when George Bush first picked Dick Cheney to be Vice President (or was it Dick Cheney who picked Dick Cheney?) the thought was that this older and more experienced politician would provide the benefits of his experience to the Bush administration. There was one thing about Dick Cheney that wasn’t taken into consideration–the guy is out of touch with reality.

ABC News conducted an interview with Dick Cheney which shows how far gone he is. In 1991 Cheney warned, “For the U.S. to get involved militarily in determining the outcome of the struggle over who’s going to govern in Iraq strikes me as a classic definition of a quagmire.” Cheney was asked about this by Jonathan Karl:

Karl: Back in 1991, you talked about how military action in Iraq would be the classic definition of a quagmire. Have you been disturbed to see how right you were? Or people certainly said that you were exactly on target in your analysis back in 1991 of what would happen if the U.S. tried to go in —

Cheney: Well, I stand by what I said in ’91. But look what’s happened since then — we had 9/11. We’ve found ourselves in a situation where what was going on in that part of the globe and the growth and development of the extremists, the al Qaeda types that are prepared to strike the United States demonstrated that we weren’t safe and secure behind our own borders. We weren’t in Iraq when we got hit on 9/11. But we got hit in ’93 at the World Trade Center, in ’96 at Khobar Towers, or ’98 in the East Africa embassy bombings, 2000, the USS Cole. And of course, finally 9/11 right here at home. They continued to hit us because we didn’t respond effectively, because they believed we were weak. They believed if they killed enough Americans, they could change our policy because they did on a number of occasions. That day has passed. That all ended with 9/11.

In Iraq, what we’ve done now is we’ve taken down Saddam Hussein. He’s dead. His sons are dead. His government is gone. There’s a democratically elected government in place. We’ve had three national elections in Iraq with higher turnout that we have in the United States. They’ve got a good constitution. They’ve got a couple hundred thousand men in arms now, trained and equipped to fight the good fight. They’re now fighting alongside Americans in Baghdad and elsewhere. There are — lots of the country that are in pretty good shape. We’ve got to get right in Baghdad. That’s the task at hand. I think we can do it.

Karl: But hasn’t our strategy been failing? Isn’t that why the president has had to come out with a new strategy?

Cheney: A failed strategy? Let’s see, we didn’t fail when we got rid of Saddam. We didn’t fail when we held elections. We didn’t fail when we got a constitution written. Those are all success stories.

Once again Cheney falls back on 9/11, even though there was no connection between Iraq and 9/11. Acting irrationally was hardly the appropriate response to being attacked. If occupying Iraq would lead to a quagmire, the need to go after al Qaeda provided more reason not to get bogged down there. Cheney has a strange view of success. Getting rid of Saddam was the easy part. Holding elections and writing a constitution are not true success stories unless we have a democratic government which is actually able to govern. Steve Benen also comments on the contradiction between Cheney saying the opposite yet also saying “I stand by what I said in ’91.”

Cheney was also asked about global warming and had his own views:

I think there’s an emerging consensus that we do have global warming. You can look at the data on that, and I think clearly we’re in a period of warming. Where there does not appear to be a consensus, where it begins to break down, is the extent to which that’s part of a normal cycle versus the extent to which it’s caused by man, greenhouse gases, etc.

Cheney has his own views as to what the consensus of scientists is on climate change. Last June the National Academy of Sciences published a review on climate change which was requested by Congress. They found that “recent warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia.” and that “human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming.” More recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a consensus statement stating that global warming is “unequivocal” and that human activity is the main driver, “very likely” causing most of the rise in temperatures since 1950.

Someone should explain to Dick Cheney that there is a consensus when scientists agree. The fact that anti-science conservatives disagree does not alter the consensus of the scientific community.

Ultimately Cheney demonstrates why Republican’s have failed so badly at governing. It’s one thing for the right wing bloggers to repeat this type of nonsense, but you’d expect people at the top to have some grasp on reality. Republicans succeed as an opposition party as not being bound by reality gives them unlimited grounds to attack. However government policies which are based on ideas which are counter to reality are doomed to fail.