Our Kook Does Better Than Their Kook: Kucinich Beats Trump and Palin

Many true believers on the left would love to see Dennis Kucinich become president, while those on the right might want Sarah Palin. For a brief time there was even a fair amount of support for Donald Trump on the right. Nobody really thinks that Dennis Kucinich has a chance of ever  being elected president, but he could in a hypothetical contest against Donald Trump or Sarah Palin. Public Policy Polling actually tested this:

If you want to get an idea of how bad Donald Trump’s political standing was by the end of his abortive run for President consider this- a national poll we conducted last week found that he would trail Dennis Kucinich 40-36 in a hypothetical contest.

On that poll we found that there were more Republicans (15%) willing to vote for Kucinich than there were Democrats (14%) willing to vote for Trump. And Kucinich took independents by a 40-38 margin as well…

For all of that Trump is not the weakest Republican in the two hypothetical match ups we tested with Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich’s lead over Sarah Palin if they were to face off would be 43-36. In that scenario Kucinich gets 16% of Republicans to Palin’s 12% of Democrats and leads her by 10 points with independents at 42-32.

Based upon this, as well as other poll results, Trump made the right decision in not running. Palin should do the same.

Oh, and in case I offended anyone, in the case of Kucinich I’m using kook in somewhat of an affectionate manner, although acknowledging how he might be perceived by the middle. In the case of Trump and Palin, they are just kooks, with no further qualification needed.


Tea Party Called Upon To Oppose Extension Of Patriot Act

There was a temporary victory for civil liberties yesterday as the Congressional Democrats, with the help of some Tea Party Republicans, voted down an extension of the Patriot Act.  There has always been the rare conservative who has been strong on civil liberties. The Tea Party, while generally representing the current far right Republican base, does have a variety of types of supporters and it is good to see that this does include some who are supportive of civil liberties. Unfortunately they represented only a minority of the Tea Party caucus. Twenty-six Republicans voted against the bill, including eight newly elected Republicans.

Dennis Kucinich helped establish the coalition which opposed the Patriot Act, calling for members of the Tea Party to show support for the Constitution on this matter:

“The 112th Congress began with a historic reading of the U.S. Constitution,” Kucinich said. “Will anyone subscribe to the First and Fourth Amendments tomorrow when the PATRIOT Act is up for a vote? I am hopeful that members of the Tea Party who came to Congress to defend the Constitution will join me in challenging the reauthorization.”

The full text of Dennis Kucinich’s speech against the Patriot Act is under the fold:


Kucinich Angering Left Over Health Care Reform

I never expected the health care debate to wind up pitting the liberal blogosphere against Dennis Kucinich. The House faces a close vote on adopting the bill passed by the Senate but Kucinich plans to vote against this, protesting that the bill does not go far enough. There is a cost to such ideological purity which extends beyond health care. Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos has pointed out that Kucinich has a very poor track record at actually accomplishing anything.

Markos even threatened a primary challenge (despite the fact that it is too late for anyone to actually challenge him):

Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas warned on Tuesday night that if Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) plays a role in killing health care reform, a Democratic primary challenger would almost certainly await him in the next election.

In an appearance on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Moulitsas conveyed pointed frustration with the Ohio Democrat’s pledge to oppose reform on grounds that it doesn’t go far enough. He said Kucinich was practicing a “very Ralph Nader-esque approach” to politics.

“The fact is this is a good first step and he is elected not to run for president, which he seems to do every four years,” he said. “[Kucinich] is not elected to grandstand and to give us this ideal utopian society. He is elected to represent the people of his district and he is not representing the uninsured constituents in his district by pretending to take the high ground here.”

Kucinich Makes Obama His Second Choice

As I predicted back in November, Dennis Kucinich has finally figured out what a big mistake he made in 2004. With the second choice being important in the Iowa Democratic caucus, Kucinich threw his support to Edwards, helping him come in second place. Some such as Chris Bowers are puzzled, writing “backing away from Edwards after Edwards moved even further to the rhetorical and policy left seems odd to me.” Maybe Bowers is right that Kucinich is “an odd fellow” but he’s not a total fool. As I noted at the time, in November Kucinich figured out what a phony John Edwards is and, unlike many Democrats, is not fooled by the populist pose that Edwards has taken in order to do well in Iowa.

This time Kucinich has advised his supporters to vote for Barack Obama:

Democratic Presidential candidate and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich opened the New Year by publicly asking his Iowa supporters to vote for him in the caucuses this Thursday, and suggesting that if he did not make the 15% threshold, their second ballot should be for Senator Barack Obama. “This is obviously an ‘Iowa-only’ recommendation, as Sen. Obama and I are competing in the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday where I want to be the first choice of New Hampshire voters.

“I hope Iowans will caucus for me as their first choice this Thursday, because of my singular positions on the war, on health care, and trade. This is an opportunity for people to stand up for themselves. But in those caucus locations where my support doesn’t reach the necessary threshold, I strongly encourage all of my supporters to make Barack Obama their second choice. Sen. Obama and I have one thing in common: Change.”

Those who are surprised to see such signs of sanity from someone on the far left of the Democratic Party will be not be surprised to hear that Ralph Nader remains as delusional as ever. Ralph Nader, who helped Bush get elected by claiming that there was no difference between George Bush and Al Gore, has endorsed John Edwards, supporting his “pugilistic brand of populism.” Yet one more reason to vote against John Edwards.

Iowa Remains Unpredictable, With Polling Results Contradictory

The volatility of the Iowa caucus race can be seen in how little the polls agree with each other. While I noted yesterday that John Edwards had taken the lead in the Insider Advantage poll, today we have a new poll from the Washington Post-ABC News showing Edwards back in third place. As we saw in 2004, polls are poorly predictive of the outcome of the Iowa caucus and at this point it is possible that Obama, Clinton, or Edwards could wind up winning.

There are many problems in using polls to predict the Iowa caucus. There are many undecided voters, and even many of those who chose a candidate admit that they are likely to change their minds. Another factor is that it is difficult to predict who will turn out to participate in the Iowa caucus, which is far more difficult than just quickly showing up to vote. Edwards might have the edge here because more of his supporters have attended the caucus in the past, but other polls suggest a greater intensity and determination to attend among Obama’s supporters.

Until he fell behind in most polls it was assumed that Edwards would win in Iowa, and he very well still might do much better than is currently indicated in the polls. Edwards has many advantages having campaigned there in the previous election and having started so much earlier in this campaign cycle. He particularly benefits from having spent more time in rural areas as a candidate can pick up more delegates by winning more sparsely attended rural caucuses than even if his opponent wins by larger margins in the cities.

Being the second choice of many voters can move someone into the lead as supporters of candidates with the support of less than 15% attending must choose a different candidate. Some polls have showed that Edwards is the second choice of more supporters of the second tier candidates, but Obama has been eating into this lead. In 2004 Dennis Kucinich threw Edwards his support, helping him move into second, but Kucinich finally realized this year that Edwards is not worthy of such backing.

Independents tend to be more likely to support Obama, but they are less likely to vote in the caucus. This independent support might still help Obama as Iowa voters look towards the general election, especially as Edwards only does respectable in national polls because many voters in other states still see him as a moderate. People in Iowa, as well as The Des Moines Register which decided against repeating their endorsement, are more likely to realize that Edwards is quite different, and too divisive, this year.

Obama receives more support from students, but turn out by students is poor in the best of conditions. I wonder if it will be even worse this year due to the caucus falling while some students might not even be back after the holiday break. This might potentially have an impact on Ron Paul as well in the GOP race.

The 2004 caucus was notable for John Kerry moving from forth to first in the final days. While I would not totally exclude the possibility of a second tier candidate moving up, this looks far less likely this year. By early in 2004 there were stories about Kerry’s impressive ground game and some pundits were predicting he might sneak into second place. I had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time talking with Teresa Heinz Kerry after a campaign stop in Michigan about a week before the Iowa caucus and she seemed quite optimistic about not only beating expectations but actually winning. I wonder if this was the expected optimism of a candidate’s spouse or if she had inside information which accurately predicted the outcome. Regardless, so far I don’t see anyone in the second tier showing signs of repeating Kerry’s surge, as much as I would like to see this happen.

With all the attention being placed on the Iowa caucus it is far from certain as to how much it will matter. If Obama or Clinton win big in Iowa they will be difficult to beat, but it is questionable if Edwards could use a win in Iowa as Kerry did to take the nomination. Kerry was already moving up in the New Hampshire polls even before the Iowa caucus, and Kerry’s views are far more in line with those of New Hampshire voters than Edwards’. As Edwards has devoted so much more time to Iowa anything less than a decisive victory would not be seen as very impressive. The Edwards campaign is also hampered by a poor organization beyond Iowa, in addition to a weak candidate, and even a bounce out of Iowa might not be enough to save his campaign.

Dennis Kucinich To Introduce Resolution for the Impeachment of Dick Cheney

From Dennis Kucinich’s web site:

Kucinich Will Introduce Privileged Resolution To Force Up Or Down Vote On Cheney Impeachment

Washington, Nov 2
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) announced today that he will be offering a privileged resolution on the House floor next week that will bring articles of impeachment against the Vice President, Richard B. Cheney.

“The momentum is building for impeachment,” Kucinich said. “Millions of citizens across the nation are demanding Congress rein in the Vice President’s abuse of power.

“Despite this groundswell of opposition to the unconstitutional conduct of office, Vice President Cheney continues to violate the U.S. Constitution by insisting the power of the executive branch is supreme.

“Congress must hold the Vice President accountable. The American people need to let Members of Congress know how they feel about this. The Vice President continues to use his office to advocate for a continued occupation of Iraq and prod our nation into a belligerent stance against Iran. If the Vice President is successful, his actions will ensure decades of disastrous consequences.”

The privileged resolution has priority status for consideration on the House floor. Once introduced, the resolution has to be brought to the floor within two legislative days, although the House could act on it immediately. Kucinich is expected to bring it to the House floor on Tuesday, November 6.

H. Res. 333, Articles of Impeachment against the Vice President, has 21 cosponsors. They are: Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Robert Brady (D-PA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Rep. Henry Johnson (D-GA), Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. James Moran (D-VA), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA), Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) and Rep. Albert Wynn (D-MD).

Are Conservatives Really This Confused About Health Care Plans?

The Daily Mail has an article on problems in the British health care system–a system I’ve also been critical of. It came as no surprise to review the conservative blogs and see them attempt to use this as evidence against Democratic health care plans. Some call this evidence against a single payer plan, but a single payer plan and a government run plan are two separate things. A government run plan is one form of a single payer plan, but is quite different from the plans advocated by most proponents of single payer plans in this country who advocate plans such as extending Medicare where health care is still provided by private doctors and hospitals.

Of the Democratic candidates running this year, only Dennis Kucinich has been pushing a single payer plan, and this plan is nothing like the British government-run plan. Assuming Kucinich has no chance at winning, a single payer plan isn’t even on the table. Right Wing News tries to confuse the British system with Hillary Clinton’s plans. While I’ve had disagreements with Clinton over health care, her plan is neither government-run or even a single payer plan.

While comparison of the British plan to the plans advocated by Democratic candidates is erroneous, it is valid to use this as arguments against the views of Michael Moore. I previously noted that a failing of Sicko was that, while it was of value in demonstrating health care problems in this country, it white washed the problems in other countries. It is worth noting that Moore, who advocate a government run plan, has opposed the plans of all the Democratic candidates, believing that Kucinich comes the closest but does not go far enough.

Conservatives regularly try to scare people from considering any reforms to the health care system by screaming “socialized medicine.” When they draw false comparisons between the British system and the plans advocated by Democratic candidates, I wonder if they are knowingly resorting to scare tactics or if they really have this little understanding of different forms of health care delivery. Either way, the views of those who regularly confuse these systems are hardly worth considering.

Two Potential Consequences of the AFL-CIO Democratic Debate

With so many debates so far before the election, it is questionable as to how much any of them really matter. If last night’s AFL-CIO debate impacts the race the two effects may be to further harden this as a Clinton vs. Obama battle and to increase the emphasis on health care.

To the extent that the race is perceived as a two-way Clinton vs. Obama battle, John Edwards further slips from the top tier. Last night’s debate was particularly important for Edwards as he has been hoping for the endorsement of the AFL-CIO, but the labor organization has been holding off, fearing Edwards cannot win. Edwards needed to change that perception but was unable to do so. Should members vote with their hearts rather and ignore the question of who can win, Dennis Kucinich out-performed Edwards. Edwards was further hurt by questions of hypocrisy when he questioned the sources of money for other candidates while he obtains a disproportionate share of his contributions from trial lawyers, along with his connections to hedge funds and money received from News Corp.

A fierce two way battle between Obama and Clinton might act to shut out the other candidates, but does leave them with some hope. In 2004 a battle between Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt wound up turning off the voters, giving John Kerry and John Edwards the top two spots in Iowa and ultimately on the general election ticket.

Besides Kucinich, Biden came across the strongest in the battle to follow Obama and Clinton. Dodd and Richardson also had good moments, but Richardson’s pro-business stance helps him far more with independents than among last night’s crowd. The large number of independents expected to vote in Iowa and New Hampshire could give a boost to both Obama and Richardson, while seriously hurting Edwards’ chances.

Debates often come down to one memorable moment, such as the question over negotiations in the You Tube debate. The most memorable moment of the debate last night was a question on health care:


QUESTION: After 34 years with LTV Steel I was forced to retire because of a disability. Two years later, LTV filed bankruptcy. I lost a third of my pension and my family lost their health care.

Every day of my life I sit at the kitchen table across from the woman who devoted 36 years of her life to my family and I can’t afford to pay for her health care. What’s wrong with America and what will you do to change it?

Chris Matthews commented, ““I wonder if that wasn’t a moment that’s gonna change American political history.” Opponents of health care reform sometimes try to place the blame on those who lack adequate coverage, but this provides a perfect example of hard working people who lose coverage due to no fault of their own. The differences between the Democrats on health care are not great enough to affect the nomination, but the lack of any meaningful ideas could seriously hurt the Republicans in the general election.

Giuliani Continues Usual Scare Tactics About Democratic Health Care Plans

Rudy Giuliani offered a health care plan lacking in substance, instead falling back on his usual tactic of name calling. Giuliani equated the proposals of the Democratic candidates with the views of Michael Moore, claiming the Democrats support socialized medicine.

This is the same tactic used by George Bush in 2004 when he claimed that John Kerry’s plan was a government take over of health care when it actually centered voluntary measures to assist businesses and individuals who were having difficulties with the cost of health coverage. Republicans typically scream socialized medicine when they are the ones who back increased government intrusion in health care decisions, including on abortion rights, end of life decisions, and medical use of marijuana. Giuliani has opposed allowing cancer patients to use marijuana for relief of symptoms.

Giuliani is especially dishonest when he compares the plans of the Democratic candidates to Michael Moore. While most Democrats probably agree with Moore’s description of the health care crisis, none of the candidates agree with Moore’s solutions. Of all the candidates, only Dennis Kucinich has backed a single payer plan, and Moore has said that even Kucinich’s plan does not go far enough for him.

Giuliani also promises to solve all our problems–quickly:

He said he can solve global warming in five to 15 years and would end illegal immigration in a year and a half to three years. “I give ourselves 18 month to three years to accomplish it,” he said.

Update: The New York Times has more on Giuliani’s proposals. Giuliani claims that under the current system “there is no incentive to wellness.” In general people would prefer to be well as opposed to being sick. However if promoting incentives for wellness is the criteria we judge plans by, Giuliani’s plan fails.

Giuliani is very vague on his plan, but he did discuss the use of Health Savings Accounts.  A major problem with HSA’s is that they are used along with high deductible insurance plans leading people to avoid routine care of chronic diseases and preventative care to avoid taking money out of their own plan.

Republicans Block Legalization of Medical Marijuana

The authoritarian right might have lost control of Congress, but they have enough votes to win when the Democrats are divided. The Hinchey of New York Amendment which would have permitted medicinal use of marijuana was voted down in the House, defeated by a 262 to 165 margin. Democrats supported the amendment 150 to 79, but this wasn’t enough to overcome the overwhelming opposition by Republicans, who opposed it by a vote of 183 to 15.

Freedom Democrats notes that eight Democrats voted for the amendment last year but voted against it this year. The two members of the House of Representatives running for their party’s presidential nomination, Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, both voted for the amendment.