More Hypocrisy from John Edwards on Fund Raising

After eight years of George Bush, I sure hope we don’t have to put up with his doppleganger from the left. There’s enough of a credibility gap from government without having to put up with more of how John Edwards stretches the truth.

This presidential campaign is a perfect example of how our politics is awash with money. I have raised more money up to this point than any Democratic candidate raised last time in the presidential campaign — $30 million. And, I did it without taking a dime from any Washington lobbyist or any special interest PAC.

What Edwards leaves out is that over half his money is from a single source–trial lawyers. A candidate who receives such a large percentage of his contributions from a single source is in no position to take such a high moral ground. Edwards also didn’t come out too well when The Washington Post looked at how pure the candidates were on campaign finance issues. Edwards was the most secretive with regards to revealing the identities of his big fund raisers:

Edwards is no less tainted by the trial-lawyer money he scoops up by the bucketful than he would be by lobbyist contributions…

Indeed, who takes money from lobbyists is the wrong question about an essential subject. Instead, voters who care — and I think voters should care — ought to ask: What is the candidate’s history on campaign finance reform, lobbying and ethics rules, and open government generally? How transparent is the candidate about campaign and personal finances? What steps will he or she take to limit the influence of money during the current campaign?

On these, there are revealing differences among the Democratic front-runners.

Edwards was part of the legislative team working to pass the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, but lobbying and campaign reform were nowhere near the top of his agenda in the Senate.

During the 2004 campaign, Edwards gave a useful speech outlining his plan to limit lobbyists’ influence. But, unlike the other Democratic candidates, he refused requests to reveal the identities of his big fundraisers. This time around, after considerable prodding, Edwards agreed to release the names of fundraisers — all his fundraisers, with no specifics about how much they had collected. His campaign argues vehemently that it should be praised for this avalanche of information, not faulted. But the candidate knows who has reeled in $1,000 and who raised $100,000. Why shouldn’t voters?

Hillary Clinton also responded to these attacks from Edwards regarding taking money from lobbyists:

If Mr. Edwards is so concerned about the influence of special interests, he should give back the hundreds of thousands of dollars he’s taken from health care, securities, and insurance companies.

Obama Controversy Bigger In Netroots Than in Real World

Those who read the blogs the last few days as opposed to the mainstream media would have a totally different view of the Obama campaign. Not only has Obama been the subject of numerous attacks for having McClurkin at his campaign’s gospel concert, but some are even writing off the campaign as dead. I’ve written in the past of the tendency of some bloggers to greatly exaggerate the importance of the netroots, and this is about as good an example as I’ve ever seen.

I disagree with Obama’s decision to invite McClurkin, as well as oppose the mixing of religion in politics. If we had a perfect candidate (who responded to questions of religion in a political campaign in this manner) this might be enough to take Obama out of consideration. Unfortunately none of the candidates are so great as to allow me to discount one based upon who they have at a concert.

Often overlooked in all the controversy is the actual positions of the candidates, as well as Obama’s statements of disagreement with McClurkin. If we are limited to the three candidates which the media has declared are the ones with a chance, Obama is preferable to Clinton and Edwards issues related to separation of church and state and on gay issues. While I would prefer he hadn’t done so, having McClurkin at a concert was far less objectionable than Bill Clinton’s advice to John Kerry (which I suspect his wife went along with) to endorse the anti-gay marriage amendments where they were on the ballot in order to pick up more votes. If we are going to look at who a candidate associates with, Mother Jones says of Hillary:

Through all of her years in Washington, Clinton has been an active participant in conservative Bible study and prayer circles that are part of a secretive Capitol Hill group known as the Fellowship. Her collaborations with right-wingers such as Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) grow in part from that connection. “A lot of evangelicals would see that as just cynical exploitation,” says the Reverend Rob Schenck, a former leader of the militant anti-abortion group Operation Rescue who now ministers to decision makers in Washington. “I don’t….there is a real good that is infected in people when they are around Jesus talk, and open Bibles, and prayer.”

The effects of this mistake on Obama’s campaign have been greatly exaggerated, largely as few outside of the liberal blogosphere are even aware of this. The Democratic Strategist writes:

To read many progressive bloggers, Obama’s decision to involve McClurkin (introduced to him, reportedly, by Oprah Winfrey) was a cataclysmic mistake. So says Kos, who called it the lowpoint of the “worst [week] I have seen from any candidate in this presidential cycle.” So says Atrios, who described Obama’s explanation of his decision as “incredibly insulting” to, well, just about everybody. So says Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake, who dismisses arguments that Obama just screwed up, and accuses him of “dog-whistle outreach” to gay-bashers.

So how did the brouhaha play down in South Cackalacki itself? Well, the Columbia State, which features massive political coverage every day, didn’t bother to cover Obama’s Columbia event. It did publish an AP story with the title: “McClurkin Wins Cheers At Obama Event Despite Gay Protests,” which gives you an idea how seriously the writer took the cataclysmic-disaster interpretation of Obama’s gospel tour.

These different optics reflect the very different issues Obama’s campaign was dealing with in putting on this kind of event. On the one hand, it deeply offended not only gays and lesbians, but many progressive activists who want to support Obama as an alternative to Clinton, but suspect his commitment to the kind of ideological rigor and partisan zeal they consider essential in a nominee. On the other hand, it might have done him some good in SC, where his candidacy may ultimately rise or fall based on his ability to wrest a sizable majority of African-American votes away from HRC.

I realize I am analyzing this episode from a purely political, not moral, point of view. But so, too, are many of those who are blasting Obama nonstop today. Nobody really believes that Barack Obama is homophobic, and nobody (at least on the Left side of the political spectrum) really doubts the sincerity of his religious faith. There’s no contradiction there, since Obama belongs to a faith community, the United Church of Christ, that proudly ordains gay and lesbian clergy.

I suspect that much of the attack against Obama was motivated largely by support for other candidates. Some bloggers also have taken offense that Obama is not running what they consider a progressive campaign representing the predominant views of the netroots on all issues. The fact that he is not running a campaign of this nature is what makes him appealing to many others.

Giuliani Found Distorting Truth on Abortion and Health Care

Rudy Giuliani has a hard time sticking to the truth. I’ve had posts fact-checking Giuliani many times before, and there are two new  reports this week showing how Giuliani has twisted the truth on health care and abortion.
The Los Angeles Times reports on Giuliani’s twisting of the facts on abortion and adoptions:

Striving to find the “middle ground” on abortion — that is, coming up with ways acceptable to pro-choice and pro-life Americans alike to reduce the number of abortions in the United States — is a worthwhile undertaking. But it also has given rise to some fairly resilient myths about the best way to achieve this goal.

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani prominently featured one such myth in his speech Oct. 20 to a group of social conservatives. The former New York City mayor stated that “we increased adoption by 133% over the eight years before I came into office. And we found that abortions went down by 18% during that period of time. I believe we can do that in the United States.”

But Giuliani’s implied causality between these two statistics is unsupportable for this simple reason: The increases he cites were in the rate of adoptions of children out of New York City’s foster care system, not in the rate at which women were continuing unwanted pregnancies and placing their infants for adoption rather than having abortions. Nothing in the data he cites indicates that there was any significant increase in the city’s newborn relinquishment rate while he was mayor.

Political Radar reports on an incorrect claim from Giuliani in comparing the American system to the British system.

To hear Rudy Giuliani describe it in his new radio ad, the British medical system is a scary place.

“My chance of surviving prostate cancer — and thank God I was cured of it — in the United States: 82 percent,” Giuliani says in a new radio spot airing in New Hampshire. “My chances of surviving prostate cancer in England: Only 44 percent, under socialized medicine.”

But the data Giuliani cites comes from a single study published eight years ago by a not-for-profit group, and is contradicted by official data from the British government.

According to the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics, for men diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1999 and 2003, the “five-year survival rate” — a common measurement in cancer statistics — was 74.4 percent.

The statistics show that the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer victims in the UK has been steadily rising to approach the survival rate Giuliani cited for the United States.

The 74.4 percent survival rate “was 3.6 percentage points higher than the rate of 70.8 per cent for men diagnosed during 1998-2001,” according to a British government report published in August…

Don McCanne, a senior health policy fellow at Physicians for a National Health Program, conceded that the five-year survival rate for cancer diagnoses is higher in the United States than in many countries that have single-payer systems, though the disparity is not as great as Giuliani claims in his ad.

But he said that any such comparison is flawed, since it fails to take into account the additional investment in cancer education and screening in the United States. Much of the gap would be closed if other countries invested similar sums in catching cancer early.

If all Americans had access to preventive care, screenings, and treatment — through a single-payer system or another universal healthcare plan — the five-year survival rate would almost certainly be increased, since cancers would be caught sooner.

“It’s not a result of the healthcare-financing issue. That’s not what this is about at all,” McCanne said. “Under a universal system, we would increase access to preventive screening.

It should also be kept in mind that most advocates of changes in the health care system in this country are not advocating plans similar to the British system.

Richardson Picks Up Endorsement of Portsmouth Mayor

While the campaign for the Democratic nomination increasingly looks like a two person contest, other candidates are still seeking support and the possibility of a dark horse upset victory cannot be excluded. Bill Richardson continues to show signs of life in the early states. His campaign has announced a New Hampshire endorsement which might be of some benefit in the primary:

The Richardson for President campaign today announced a crucial endorsement from Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand, one of New Hampshire’s brightest and most talented young leaders.

Steve Marchand, 33, was elected mayor of Portsmouth in 2005 with over 67 percent of the vote. He has been praised for his successful stewardship of green energy initiatives as well as his fiscal leadership in introducing transparency and accountability to the city budget. The Portsmouth Herald wrote of Marchand, “the guy has guts, energy and ambition.” He previously was named New Hampshire’s political “Rising Star” of the year by the website

Mayor Marchand will join the Richardson for President campaign as a Senior Advisor. He also will maintain a robust surrogate speaking schedule, traveling the Granite State and stumping on Governor Richardson’s behalf.

“Bill Richardson is the most experienced candidate in the race, the most determined to end the war in Iraq, and the most capable of bringing about the real change that America needs,” Marchand said.

Richardson had previously received the endorsements of former New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair George Bruno Manchester former Manchester Mayor Bob Baines.

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Association for Science Education on Intelligent Design

The Association for Science Education which has issued a statement (PDF) on science education, intelligent design, and creationism. (Hat tip to Panda’s Thumb.)  One section discusses whether intelligent design should be taught as part of science education:

The rationale for science education involves the stimulation and motivation of young people towards appreciating and understanding some of the key ideas in science. It aims to engage them in exploring first hand the processes of science through experimentation, investigation, argument, and modelling thereby teaching them how science works in both an historical context and within the social community which is science. In doing so, science education explores the relationships between evidence and theory whilst appreciating the provisional nature of scientific ‘knowledge’. Such an education should prepare learners to be confident in engaging with scientific issues and be able to take a critical approach when evaluating claims which are ‘scientific’, thereby making an assessment of what might be seen as ‘good science’ and ‘poor science’.

When set against this rationale it is clear to us that Intelligent Design has no grounds for sharing a platform as a scientific ‘theory’. It has no underpinning scientific principles or explanations to support it. Furthermore it is not accepted as a competing scientific theory by the international science community nor is it part of the science curriculum. It is not science at all. Intelligent Design belongs to a different domain and should not be presented to learners as a competing or alternative scientific idea. As such, Intelligent Design has no place in the science education of young people in school.

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