End the War on Hanukkah

The War on Christmas is one thing, but the War on Hanukkah is going way too far:

On Friday, Four Jewish subway riders who wished other people Happy Hanukkah were pelted with anti-Semitic remarks before being beaten, New York police and prosecutors said.

The incident was being investigated as a possible hate crime.

The four were on a train in Manhattan on Friday night, during the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights, when they were approached by a group of 10 people who offered holiday greetings. The victims responded, Happy Hanukkah and were assaulted by the larger group, police said Tuesday.

Police caught up with the train in Brooklyn and arrested eight men and two women, aged 19 and 20. They were arraigned Saturday on charges of assault, menacing, riot, harassment and disorderly conduct, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office said.

Dodd Done?

Chris Dodd may have moved to Iowa in the hopes of achieving an upset to get his struggling campaign off the ground, but he does not look like he is well prepared for the race beyond Iowa. Ballot Access News reports that Dodd has failed to file to get on the ballot for the primary in neighboring New York.

I hope his campaign at least lasts thru January as Dodd is one of the few Democrats to remain on the Michigan ballot. Most likely I’ll vote for Dodd as the most effective way of voting against Clinton here in Michigan. (My planned vote for Dodd is based purely upon the Michigan primary–I remain undecided between a few candidates with regards to my actual first choice for the nomination.)

Posted in Politics. Tags: , . No Comments »

Fox News on Global Warming


While I would like to see the proposed Science Debate to evaluate the views of all the candidates on science issues we already knows where Fox News stands on climate change–they get the facts all wrong. See the above video for some examples.  (Hat tip to Greg Laden.)

Science Debate

So far in the debates and presidential campaign we’ve learned that many of the Republican candidates do not accept established science in areas such as evolution and climate change. Even among the politicians who do not reject science we have not heard very many details as to how their views on these and other scientific issues will shape public policy. A group of almost sixty scientists have started a campaign to urge the candidates to participate in a science debate. More information is at the ScienceDebate2008 web site and the group’s press release follows:

NEW YORK – Eleven Nobel laureates, two dozen other eminent scientists, and the leaders of many of America’s pre-eminent scientific organizations and universities have joined a coalition of business leaders, writers, and elected officials of both major political parties in a call for a science-based presidential debate in 2008.

The group, which calls itself ScienceDebate2008, says such a debate is critical. “Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth, we view this as a critical part of our presidential selection process,” the group said in a prepared announcement.

It just may be an idea whose time has come, says Donald Kennedy, editor-in-chief of Science magazine. “Climate change, the space station, and stem cells are just a few of the many scientific issues that have become central in national policy. It’s about time we hear from the candidates on science issues.”

“When you think about it, nearly every major challenge the next President will face has a science or technological component,” said Lawrence M. Krauss, an astrophysicist at Case Western Reserve University and a member of the ScienceDebate2008 steering committee. “We owe it to the next generation to address these challenges responsibly.”

The group’s impressive signatory list is at http://www.sciencedebate2008.com.

The debate location and venue have not yet been chosen. The group is in talks with several major organizations, said Matthew Chapman, a writer and spokesman for the group’s steering committee, and he says at least one major presidential campaign has already indicated support for the idea. “The strangest thing about this debate is that it hasn’t already happened. It is so clearly essential.”

John Rennie, Editor-in-Chief of Scientific American, is also a member of the steering committee. “Matters of science and technology underpin every important issue affecting the future of the United States,” said Rennie. “It’s crucial for the nation’s welfare that our next president be someone with an understanding of vital science, a willingness to listen to scientific counsel, and a capacity for solid, critical thinking. A debate would be the ideal opportunity for America and the candidates to explore our national priorities on these issues.”

Clinton Going Negative on Obama

Hillary Clinton looks desperate. Marc Ambinder writes that she is planning attack ads on Obama and plans to run on claims of being more electable. He writes, “The Clinton campaign wants to spread the idea that Obama would be crushed in a general election by a Republican nominee who is more experienced and more glib than he is.” The argument that Obama can’t compete politically against Republicans immediately falls apart when we look at how Obama had done against another “experienced” politician–Hillary Clinton. Last month Clinton led Obama by ten points in New Hampshire, but today Rasmussen has Obama leading by three points. Iowa remains a dead heat in most polls, with Obama also leading in some. It is hard for Clinton to argue that Obama isn’t experienced enough to run a campaign when he has made these advances.

This whole stress on electability is based upon the myth that John Kerry won in Iowa in 2004 based on electability, with supporters of other candidates (primarily supporters of a former governor from Vermont) using this myth to claim that most people still liked their guy better, regardless of who won. The reality is that when voters took a close look at Kerry and Dean in Iowa and New Hampshire they liked Kerry better. Kerry also had a much better ground game.

Early polls in Iowa and New Hampshire are misleading because voters do not make up their minds until the last minute. In 2003 many people told pollsters they supported Dean because the media made opposition to the war virtually synonymous with supporting Dean. Once voters took a close look at the candidates, including a comparison of their positions on Iraq which were actually quite similar despite the manner in which Kerry’s position was twisted in, more chose Kerry.

This year the media proclaimed Clinton the early winner and she was the easiest name for Democrats to tell pollsters when they hadn’t made a decision. Now that people are taking a close look at the candidates, many voters aren’t falling into line. Hillary Clinton even be a victim of this early belief that her nomination was inevitable as she saw no reason to really sell herself. She played it safe, but gave voters no reason to support her beyond inevitability and now electability. The problem here is that once she looks beatable she no longer looks either inevitable or the most electable, leaving Democrats little reason to vote for her. Clinton’s argument on electabililty, or that Obama is too far left, also falls apart when we look at Obama’s greater support among independents.

One lesson from the polls, which now show a dead heat among the Democrats and Huckabee leading the Republicans in Iowa, is that looking at polls weeks or months before the Iowa caucus is meaningless. Even now it is far from certain that they reflect how the final vote will be. Far too much attention is also being paid to the national polls. For example, yesterday there was a lot of noise over a CNN/Opinion Research poll which showed that Huckabee would lose to all the Democratic candidates by double digits. Perhaps that is true, but considering how recently Huckabee became a factor it is far too early to expect national polls to accurately predict his potential. The Corner looked at the poll and questions why Edwards does so well in potential general match ups. Ross Douthat answered that well:

First of all, most voters’ image of Edwards was formed in the ’04 race, when he ran as a more centrist candidate than he’s become this time around; thus despite having move steadily leftward over the last three years, he’s still perceived as the least liberal of the Democratic front-runners by the general public. (Democratic primary voters, who are presumably paying closer attention, have a more accurate assessment.) Second, he’s a Southern white male, and even if the percentage of swing voters who would rule out voting for a woman or a black man is relatively small (and it might be large-ish), his race and sex alone would still presumably give him a slight boost. Third, he’s received considerably less press attention than Hillary and Obama over the last six months, and in a year when a generic Democrat would presumably trounce a generic Republican, he’s presumably still a more “generic” figure than either of his better-publicized opponents, and thus a better vessel for undecided voters to pour their anti-GOP animus into.