Polls Continue To Show Drop in Support for Edwards in Iowa

National polls at this stage mean very little, and even polls in the early states can change considerably between now and when people turn out to vote. Still, considering how heavily John Edwards has concentrated on Iowa it is significant that he continues to fall in the polls. For example, the last Strategic Vision poll showed Edwards in third place at 20%, trailing Clinton at 28% and Obama at 23%.

Considering how Kerry came back in 2004 I am reluctant to totally write anyone off, but at present the race looks like it is coming down to a battle between Clinton and Obama. Richardson had showed signs earlier in the year of breaking into the top tier, but his support has fallen to 9%. Dodd continues to be unable to attract attention beyond the blogosphere and remains stuck at 1%, while Biden has 6%.

A new University of Iowa poll released today has similar findings. Clinton leads the poll with 28.9% while Obama is at 26.6%.
Edwards has fallen six points from the last poll in August to 20%. Richardson declined from 9.4 % in August to 7.2% The poll is particularly damaging to Edwards:

For Edwards, who has basically been living in Iowa (and who parlayed a second place finish there in 2004 into a spot on the Democratic ticket), the results have to be disconcerting. Unlike Obama and Clinton, he has few other strongholds, and a poor showing in Iowa could place his candidacy in serious jeopardy.

Edwards does do better when the poll attempts to separate out those who are likely to vote, and therefore does continue to have a chance at winning, but even if his does allow him to get by with a narrow win it is doubtful it would be enough to give him a bounce elsewhere.
If the race remains as it is, Iowa’s rules might work to Obama’s advantage A candidate must have the support of 15% of those attending a caucus to be considered viable. As Obama is the second choice of the supporters of other candidates more often than Clinton he could move ahead of Clinton in the caucus vote even if Clinton starts out the day as the first choice of more voters.

Nader Supporters Finally Realizing They Were Wrong?

In 2000 the Nader supporters defended Ralph Nader’s absurd claim that there was no difference between Gore and Bush. Regardless of how obvious it became that there were significant differences, Nader continued to repeat this line. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, there were signs that Nader finally realized that there was a difference. Now we learn from The New York Daily News that Nader supporters are turning to the guy they rejected in 2000.

Right or wrong, people who voted for Ralph Nader get blamed for costing Al Gore the 2000 election.

Now, some of those very same voters are throwing themselves into a new – and nonexistent – campaign: Gore 2008.

And they say there’s no irony at all.

“In 2000, Nader was the most progressive candidate, and in 2008, Al Gore would be the most progressive candidate. There’s no dissonance at all, I would say,” argues Bud Plautz, the New York head of the movement to draft the former vice president.

That’s not just irony, that’s totally illogical. Sure, Nader was the more progressive candidate in 2000, but that’s not the point. Nader was a third party candidate with zero chance of winning. For all practical purposes, a vote for Nader was a vote to make George Bush, and not Al Gore president. It is not possible to logically argue that Al Gore was no different from George Bush in 2000 but is the best possible candidate now. Gore’s style might have changed a bit, but otherwise he is not that different now than he was in 2000.

John Edwards vs. The First Amendment

It now seems like every day that we hear more lunacy from the increasingly desperate Edwards campaign. Yesterday it was attempts to suppress news from a student journalist. His lack of respect for the First Amendment is seen yet again in his proposal to suppress advertising of new drugs.

I’ve never been very fond of such pharmaceutical company advertising as they are intended to drive sales of more expensive medications when cheaper alternatives will often work as well. However because we do not like something does not mean we should use the power of government to suppress it. This especially pertains to speech we might disapprove of.

There are alternatives to attempting to suppress free speech. When patients come in requesting a prescription based upon an advertisement I’ll often explain how the ads are used to try to sell higher priced medications which are not necessarily the best for them. All other things being equal I tend to avoid prescribing medications which are advertised. For example, when a patient needs a proton pump inhibitor, it is very unlikely I’ll prescribe a purple one. Many insurance companies are using educational programs to encourage patients to use less expensive alternatives–although this must also be watched to ensure that insurance companies are not also trying to deny patients a more expensive alternative to save money.

Following my recent criticism of Edwards’ junk economics, we also see more examples in this report from The Concord Monitor. Just as some Republicans are wrong when they claim that any government action to solve a problem is bad, Edwards is wrong in his belief that all problems must be solved by big government programs.

The News John Edwards Did Not Want You To See

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lb8r0XIZs7Y]

The news story in the video above was produced by a student at The University of North Carolina. While hardly the most critical story of Edwards I’ve seen, it does raise the suspicions which many have that Edwards is campaigning on poverty more out of political expedience than conviction.

The New York Times and The News & Observer reports on efforts of the Edwards campaign to suppress distribution of the video, including demanding that it be removed from You Tube:

A UNC-Chapel Hill journalism professor said John Edwards’ presidential campaign tried to kill a student’s video story about his campaign headquarters.

Associate Professor C.A. Tuggle said two top staffers for the former North Carolina senator demanded that the school drop the segment from the student-run television program “Carolina Week.” They also asked to have the video removed from the YouTube Web site.

Tuggle said they threatened to cut off access to Edwards for UNC student reporters and other student groups if the piece aired.

“My gosh, what are they thinking?” Tuggle said. “They’re spending this much time and effort on a student newscast that has about 2,000 viewers? They’re turning a molehill into a mountain.”

The story also summarizes the aspects of the video which the Edwards campaign objected to:

The segment, by graduate student Carla Babb, began as a look at Nation Hahn, a UNC senior interning with the campaign. During the interview, Babb asked about a recent column in The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper, criticizing Edwards’ choice of the posh Southern Village shopping center as the location for his headquarters.

Babb rewrote the piece to focus on that angle and interviewed the columnist, prompting the complaint from Edwards’ campaign.

In the video, James Edward Dillard, a columnist for The Daily Tar Heel, says that the location conflicts with Edwards’ campaign goal of reducing poverty in America.

“To pick that place as your campaign center, when you’re going to be the man who advocates on behalf of the poor, I just think, why not turn the media’s attention to somewhere where there are huge, huge problems,” Dillard said.

Beware of Protection from the DEA

The Missoulian reports on the case of a woman who committed suicide due to being unable to cope with the pain of an immunosuppressive disorder. She had received relief of her pain in the past with marijuana and believed that she would have access to medical marijuana based upon state law but found that this did not prevent the DEA from continuing raids:

She was a high-profile campaigner for the Montana Medical Marijuana Act, and like others, she was dismayed when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that drug agents could still arrest sick people using marijuana, even in states that legalized its use.

The ruling came to haunt Prosser in late March, when DEA agents seized less than a half ounce of marijuana sent to her by her registered caregiver in Flathead County.

At the time, the DEA special agent in charge of the Rocky Mountain Field Division said federal agents were “protecting people from their own state laws” by seizing such shipments.

The DEA sure did a find job of “protecting” this woman.

All of the candidates for the Democratic nomination have made statements opposing the raids, although Joe Biden’s was fairly weak. All of the Republican candidates support continuation of the current policy with the exceptions of Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo.

Obama Might Finally Explain Where His Views Differ from Clinton’s

The New York Times reports that Barack Obama has stated he will start confronting Hillary Clinton more forcefully, “declaring that she had not been candid in describing her views on critical issues.”

In an interview on Friday that appeared timed by his campaign to signal the change of course, Mr. Obama said “now is the time” for him to distinguish himself from Mrs. Clinton. While he said that he was not out to “kneecap the front-runner, because I don’t think that’s what the country is looking for,” he said she was deliberately obscuring her positions for political gain and was less likely than he was to win back the White House for Democrats.

Asked if Mrs. Clinton had been fully truthful with voters about what she would do as president, Mr. Obama replied, “No.”

“I don’t think people know what her agenda exactly is,” Mr. Obama added, citing Social Security, Iraq and Iran as issues on which she had not been entirely forthcoming.

“Now it’s been very deft politically,” he said. “But one of the things that I firmly believe is that we’ve got to be clear with the American people right now about the important choices that we’re going to need to make in order to get a mandate for change, not to try to obfuscate and avoid being a target in the general election.”

Yes it is true that Clinton has not always been very clear on her views. Unfortunately the same can be said about most presidential candidates, including Obama himself. I have looked favorably on Obama considering that, assuming that Richardson and Dodd are unable to compete with the front runners, Obama is our best hope of preventing the undesirable result of Clinton winning and the even more disastrous result of Edwards winning.

Obama has often made comments which I’ve found appealing, but too little detail was often present. There is some question as to whether attacking Clinton would distract from his message of being a unifier. This would not be a problem if he concentrated on describing his views, and how they differed from Clinton’s, while avoiding the unproductive and divisive tactics utilized by Republicans from the right and Edwards from the left. Criticism of Clinton based upon real issues and ideas would be a welcome change from the increasingly inane attacks which Edwards has been utilizing in desperation.

While I still hope for more specifics from Obama, at least from my perspective he has clear advantages over Clinton on the key issues of Iraq and health care. He deserves credit for his opposition to the Iraq war from the start and for resisting the use of mandates in his health care plan. Obama also appears more likely than Clinton to support liberal principles in other areas. Andrew Sullivan touches on this and other issues as he presents his arguments in favor of Obama over Clinton:

There are, to me, three core issues in this election: the Constitution, the war and the environment. All three are urgent, and the need for deep, radical change overwhelming. It’s vital that the next president not assume and inherit the kind of extra-legal powers that Bush and Cheney have acquired as part of what amounts to a protectorate, not a presidency. The rule of law must be clearly re-established. Only Obama has the integrity to be trusted on that matter. Clinton will never have it. It’s vital also that the next president be committed to withdrawal from Iraq as swiftly and as cleanly as possible. Again: the difference between a triangulating shell of a politician and an actual human being who was right about this war in the first place is completely clear. And we need someone in the administration – Al Gore obviously springs to mind – who can marshall the country’s resources to tackle climate change and the urgent necessity for new energy sources. Gore loathes the Clintons as much as anyone, because he saw them close-up, and knows what their cynical, ruthless machine is really about: them. On those three issues, Obama is vastly superior to Clinton, whose history of executive secrecy and privilege, whose constant triangulation on the war and whose polarization of the country would make difficult and real change impossible.

Giuliani Hardly a Liberal

As I’ve mentioned many times already, this is a very depressing year for looking at the presidential candidates. Choosing among the Republican offerings is especially difficult as the two candidates who might have offered an alternative to the religious right’s control over the GOP look the worse the more you look at them. As I’ve discussed in several previous posts, Rudy Giuliani looks more like an authoritarian warmonger than the social liberal he has been billed as, and Ron Paul is far more a social conservative with ties to the extremist right than the libertarian he has claimed to be.

The latest review of Giuliani’s authoritarian record comes from David Greenberg in The Washington Post. Greenberg shows that Giuliani’s record is not as liberal on issues such as abortion rights and gay rights as his reputation, while his record is very conservative in other areas:

Consider the first of our freedoms: free speech. One emblematic act of Giuliani’s mayorship was his 1999 attempt to censor an art exhibit because it featured a painting of the Virgin Mary that used an unusual form of mixed media — clumps of elephant dung, to be precise. (Others were also upset by the cutouts of female genitalia.) Giuliani, a Catholic who attended parochial schools and once aspired to the priesthood, understandably took offense. But he then converted his religious sensibilities into policy, unilaterally withholding a $7 million city subsidy to the Brooklyn Museum of Art. When that failed to get the painting removed, he tried to evict the museum from its century-old home. Ultimately, after losing in court, he was forbidden to retaliate against the museum. So much for moderation.

Those who deem Rudy a liberal might also recall his plan to fund parochial schools with city money. His goal went far beyond letting Bible groups meet after hours in public classrooms: The mayor personally phoned Cardinal John O’Connor to hatch a plan that would have placed public school students in church-run schools with overtly Christian curricula — including catechism and excluding sex education. It was the real liberals on the school board who stopped the plan.

Beyond religious issues, a second conservative trait defined Giuliani’s tenure: his Cheney-esque appetite for executive power. In 1999, for example, he directed (without the City Council’s permission) the police to permanently confiscate the cars of people charged with drunken driving — even if the suspects were later acquitted.

Giuliani’s record on government secrecy, too, is hardly moderate. Liberals today routinely attack President Bush’s refusal to divulge information about his domestic wiretapping program and his 2001 executive order claiming the power to close presidential papers. But they rarely discuss an equally autocratic move that Giuliani made: cutting a deal with the city as he was leaving office to assign control of his mayoral records to his own private company so that he could decide who could see them.

The fanciful notion of Giuliani’s liberalism also omits the piece de resistance of his mayorship: his flagrantly undemocratic bid to stay in office for an extra three months after Sept. 11, 2001. During earlier crises, even World War II, U.S. elections had always managed to proceed normally. But Giuliani maneuvered for weeks to remain mayor after his term-limited exit date. Only as normalcy returned to New York did his power grab fail.

Finally, don’t forget foreign policy, which has become a social issue in these parlous times. In pledging to carry on the Bush legacy abroad — seeking to assuage Americans’ feelings of vulnerability through brazen nationalism and the ready use of force — Giuliani taps the same emotions he did with his crusades against crime and vice: a sense that a frustrated people want a no-nonsense leader who will buck the weak-kneed worrywarts, be they urban school officials or Democrats who flinch at warrantless wiretapping.

Greenberg compares the belief that Giuliani is a social liberal to George Bush’s claims of being a “compassionate conservative.” He warns that, “if Giuliani becomes president, he will probably emerge as an unabashed social conservative — as seen in his judicial appointments, his efforts to aid religious schools, the free hand he gives the government in fighting crime and terrorism, and an all-around authoritarian style. Let’s not get fooled again.”

Payment from Paul Campaign to 9/11 Conspiracy Theorist Revealed

Following the recent reports that Ron Paul has received the endorsement of the white supremacist organization Stormfront, and now has received a donation from its founder, there are yet new questions raised against Paul. In the past Paul has attempted to distance himself from the support of 9/11 conspiracy theorists by saying he did not share their views. Captain’s Quarters and Hot Air have posted reports that the Paul campaign has paid out $1300 to Alex Jones, a leading “Truther” who has also contributed to Paul’s campaign.

Paul supporters have argued that Paul has no control over who contributes to his campaign. I never bought that argument as there has been plenty of evidence of Paul soliciting support from the right wing fringe groups which support him. He also has the option of returning such contributions as any other candidate would be expected to. This payment raises additional questions as the campaign has complete control over who they pay money to. It is hard to believe that Paul really has no sympathy for such groups, or that their support of him is just a coincidence, considering the decision to send money to such a group.

Paul has justifiably received some favorable attention for speaking out against the pro-war Republicans at the debates, but the media really needs to do its job and take a closer look at what Paul really stands for. Libertarians need to also consider whether they really want to taint their name by supporting a candidate who’s agenda is far from libertarian.

Update: One Question About Paul Answered But Many Ties to Conspiracy Theories Remain

SciFi Friday: News and Rumors on Star Trek, Jericho, Bionic Woman, Battlestar Galactica and 24

Screen Rant has some rumors on the plot of the upcoming Star Trek movie (skip the next paragraph if you don’t want to see any potential spoilers):

The new Star Trek film will focus much more on Spock than on the crew of the Enterprise. Also, the adventure takes place on a USS Enterprise commanded by Captain Christopher Pike(!), with Pike and crew being helped out by Kirk but not until much later in the film. It’s unknown what ship Kirk would be serving on, but he is not yet a captain at that time. There are battles with the Klingons, and we will get to see the maiden voyage of the original Enterprise: NCC-1701. Finally, none of the film takes place at all at Starfleet Academy.

Slice of SciFi has some stills from the upcoming season of Jericho. There have been rumors that CBS might move up Jericho to this fall to replace struggling shows. These rumors increased when CBS canceled Viva Laughlin but instead CBS will be showing reruns of CSI until November, followed by The Amazing Race. There’s also been rumors that Universal might move Battlestar Galactica to NBC, either starting with previous episodes seen on SciFI Channel or with the fourth season due to the possible shortage of scripts should the writers strike as feared. More recently Ron Moore was quoted by The Los Angeles Times as saying the fourth season will begin in April–which I fear might make them more likely to split the season as earlier rumored.


An April start also means that Battlestar Galactica won’t pick up for eight months after last season’s cliff hanger, but the extended episode, Razor, will be broadcast in November. It will also be shown on the big screen:

SCI FI Channel and Microsoft have joined forces for a groundbreaking partnership to bring Battlestar Galactica to the big screen. Special advanced preview screenings of the all-new two-hour extended episode Battlestar Galactica: Razor will be held in select movie theaters on Monday, November 12 – nearly two weeks in advance of the episode’s television debut on SCI FI. The event is being managed by National CineMedia LLC.

Written by Michael Taylor and directed by Emmy nominee Felix Alcala, Razor tells the story of Lee Adama’s (Jamie Bamber) first mission as commander of the Battlestar Pegasus and will reveal the story of how Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes) served her ship during the original Cylon attack on the Colonies.

Screenings will take place in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Dallas and Seattle. Admission is FREE, courtesy of Xbox360, Zune, and the new RPG space adventure game “Mass Effect.” A complete list of theaters and ticketing information are available at www.BattlestarEvent.com. Seating is extremely limited.

Razor will air on SCI FI on November 24 @ 9pm and will be followed by the release of an extended/unrated DVD edition on December 4.

bionic-woman.jpg

Flash Gordon started out a disaster, and I didn’t watch beyond the first episode. The shows producers are promising to do better and discussed planned changes in the show. Meanwhile NBC is attempting to improve The Bionic Woman. The have hired Jason Cahill, formerly a writer for The Sopranos, as the program’s new show runner.

The trailer for the seventh season of 24 is posted along with some news on the upcoming season:

Set in Washington, DC, “Day 7” opens with CTU dismantled and JACK BAUER (Kiefer Sutherland) on trial. Bauer’s day takes an unexpected turn when former colleague TONY ALMEIDA (Carlos Bernard) returns. Meanwhile, President ALLISON TAYLOR (Cherry Jones) leads the country alongside White House Chief of Staff ETHAN KANIN (Bob Gunton) and First Gentleman HENRY TAYLOR (Colm Feore).

A national security crisis prompts an investigation by a team of FBI agents including Agent JANIS GOLD (Janeane Garofalo), Agent RENEE WALKER (Annie Wersching), Agent LARRY MOSS (Jeffrey Nordling), Agent SEAN HILLINGER (Rhys Coiro) and security specialist MICHAEL LATHAM (John Billingsley). Although CTU is no longer, CHLOE O’BRIAN (Mary Lynn Rajskub) and BILL BUCHANAN (James Morrison) are back for another momentous day of shocking events.

It looks like Jack is under investigation for his use of torture, and that Tony may be the bad guy. Of course things might not turn out as they first appear.

John Edwards Moves From Junk Science to Junk Economics

I’m not sure which is worse, the junk science which Edwards sold to juries to make his fortune as a trial lawyer or the junk economics he is selling to the voters of Iowa. Edwards is escalating his attacks on the corporations. Such a populist message might pay off in rural Iowa, but it will be a tough sell nation wide.

Despite what John Edwards might want to tell you, corporations essentially are not evil. They are not good either. They are generally amoral creations primarily concerned with making profits. Profits are not evil. John Edwards should agree with that–after all he sure has made plenty of money. While sometimes corporations might do objectionable things to make the profits, and in some cases specific government action might be needed, it is also corporations which create many of the jobs in this country. To paraphrase the commercial, corporations make the things that we buy–period. If they make a profit by selling us things that we want that is perfectly fine–especially as we have the opportunity to share in the profits by investments. Edwards’ meme of making corporations the source of all evil is to economics what the junk science in his malpractice cases was to real science.

This does not mean that there aren’t legitimate areas to change the relationship between corporations and government. The energy industry should not be able to write energy policy as Dick Cheney allowed them to. The massive benefits to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries under Bush’s Medicare D plan should be eliminated along with other cases of corporate welfare. The government must remain vigilant against companies which falsely report financial data and otherwise harm investors.

While sometimes corporations cross the line, in other cases we must remember that this is a free society. This applies to businesses as well as individuals. Corporations may do things we wish they wouldn’t, such as pay executives huge salaries and retirement benefits, but government should have no control over such matters.

In 2004 John Kerry saw the problems in health care and devised a plan which experts writing for The National Journal ranked the best plan of all the candidates. Kerry’s plan concentrated on voluntary measures to assist individuals and companies obtain health care at an affordable price, but he decided against mandates. Edwards, along with most of the other Democratic candidates, have forgotten that the problem is to offer assistance to those who desire it, not shove it down everyone’s throats. Now Edwards has gone even further, not only requiring that businesses provide health care coverage. Edwards will require employers to offer a new universal retirement account to all workers.

Next I suspect Edwards will promise a chicken in every pot, or perhaps promise to each according to their needs.

Updates:
The News John Edwards Did Not Want You To See
John Edwards vs. The First Amendment