Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mount Pleasant Should Model San Diego Public Transit Systems

Upon returning from the San Diego area, I realized that rather then it just being colder here; the San Diego area had one of the best transit systems that I have ever utilized in an urban area. I have traveled to many cities like Chicago, Boston, and New York where I have used many different transit systems. I found though, that the San Diego area arguably has one of the best transit systems in the country. Using the coaster, trolley, or propane powered bus to transport people, the system was very
efficient and effective in moving citizens all over southern California.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System or MTS highlights that public transit can provide numerous benefits for the environment and help eliminate the high costs of owning and operating a personal vehicle. The following facts are some examples of how Public Transit can be a “smart move.”

• A typical family can save more than $6,000 per year if just one person uses public transportation.
• Saving one gallon of gas eliminates 19 pounds of carbon emissions.
• Public transportation produces 95% less carbon monoxide for every passenger mile traveled.
• Annually, in the United States, public transit saves more than 855 million gallons of gasoline or about 45 million barrels of oil which is equal to about one month of oil imports from Saudi Arabia.
• In 2006, there were 10.1 billion trips taken on public transportation, the highest in 49 years.
• Compared to private vehicles, public transportation produces nearly 50 percent less carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide per passenger mile.
• U.S. public transportation systems save 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline every year, the equivalent of 108 million cars filling up in a year.
• The Federal Transportation Administration values the aggregate benefits from transit related congestion relief provided by Public Transit at $19.4 Billion annually.

Michigan is far behind other states in modernizing transit systems that are effective in distributing workers, families, and citizens to various areas within towns and cities. A healthy transit system (besides just busses) can bring commerce to Michigan’s urban areas and districts. Thinking locally I came up with a model idea that would help describe the utility of a short trolley system right here in Mt. Pleasant.

If the City could harness some type of state bond or the money needed to create a small trolley, it could functionally transport people from the CMU campus to the downtown business district. Its benefits would be plenty. Some of these benefits would include bringing more business and activity to the downtown area, reducing the dangers of drinking and driving activity, the encouragement of conservation of fossil fuels, a creation of a number of jobs for the city, incremental building of tax revenue based on user fees, and the establishment of an attractive model system for other towns and cities in Michigan. As a major accredited college institution in this state, Central Michigan could seriously show how transit modernization is possible. A project that could make our engineering department shine cooperatively with the city and the state.

So visualize a colorful short trolley ride from the campus to the downtown business district filled with small shops night life and interesting attractions. All just a five minute ride from campus. The city should consider such a dream.

-Andrew Thibodeau
Political Advisor for the ICDP

Friday, January 25, 2008

Billionaires Got Millions Under Bush - Here's Your $600


A $600 check will be in the mail. After the American treasury has been squandered to benefit the military-industrial complex and tax cuts for the rich have wasted another trillion, ordinary Americans must be delighted.

Poor working families with a lot of kids may get a little better break, but its hard to feel that is anything but another giveaway to bail out wealthy investors from losing their butts in the stock market.

Economic stimulus is just another admission that conservative ideas on taxes and foreign policy are bad for America, the world and those of us not in the top 2% of annual earnings.

So pardon me if I am not uber-delighted to know I may be getting a check some time in the next many months. I'll just take an extra swipe at a car payment or mortgage.

No, I will not go out and buy a bunch of foreign-made goods with American names on them, although it is difficult not to. Our trade balance is so out of whack it is ridiculous.

Let's get those idiots out of the White House before they do any more damage to America.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Primary results and musings

  • Hillary won an underwhelming 55% of the vote, while 40% voted Uncommitted. The Democratic National Convention delegate counts are as follows:
    • Statewide: Hillary 73, Uncommitted 55
    • At-Large: Hillary 16 (8 men, 8 women), Uncommitted 12 (6 men, 6 women)
    • Fourth District: Hillary 3 (two men, one woman), Uncommitted 2 (one man, one woman)

  • I call Hillary's win underwhelming because she was supposed to dominate this election. As John Nichols of The Nation writes:
    As the only leading Democratic contender to keep her name on the ballot after Michigan officials moved their primary ahead of the opening date scheduled by the Democratic National Committee, Clinton was perfectly positioned. She had no serious opposition. She also had the strong support of top Michigan Democrats such as Governor Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow.

    Usually, a prominent presidential contender running a primary campaign without serious opposition and with strong in-state support from party leaders can count on winning 90 percent or more of the vote. That's how it went for George Bush when he was running without serious opposition in Republican primaries in 2004, and for Bill Clinton when he was essentially unopposed in the Democratic primaries in 1996.
  • On Michigan Liberal:
    • Mark Grebner tells us how each district voted.
    • Phil offers an analysis of West Michigan numbers.
    • Nirmal crunches the exit poll data.
    • Laura analyzes the youth vote numbers. Uncommitted actually outperformed Hillary among young voters!

  • You gotta love it: The Michigan Republican Party erroneously sent out a press release congratulating McCain on the victory he didn't have. Oops.

  • One more bit from Michigan Liberal, written by yours truly. Did holding the primary early have the desired effect of giving Michigan more influence in the nominating process? No.
    Had we held a February 5 caucus - an idea which I supported even when the caucus was set for February 9 all the while other states were moving theirs to February 5 - Michigan would have been the fourth-largest state with a primary or caucus that day (and the second-largest not including the home states of the front-runners). Candidates would have come to Michigan, and their campaigns - as well as our Party - would have been better for it.

    Yet some people decided that it was better for Dems to break DNC rules (arcane as they are) and base our delegate count on a primary that would not have gone on if not for four extreme conservatives on the state Supreme Court. MDP leaders knew that some of the candidates would not be campaigning if they decided to go with a primary, yet most of them chose to go ahead with it anyway.

    The result? Instead of having more influence in our nominating process, we have at the moment pretty much no influence (and it is uncertain whether we will have influence in the end). Instead of unity, as the LA Times put it, we have rancor. Instead of Michigan issues being at the forefront of the campaign, we are once again seen as a laughing stock to the rest of the country.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Don't underestimate New Hampshire Ground War For Clinton

It is always fascinating to watch the MSM pundits pontificate about the reasons they think New Hampshire voters voted this way or that way and their conclusions may have some validity, but....

Actually, there are a lot of buts. Voter studies and research that I have read informs me that voting can be emotional or rational and all shades in between. They also inform me that there are many reasons why people cast a ballot one way or another and why those choices may not seem rational. Of course, for the person making that choice, it is rational to them.

So, if an older woman who saw the video of Hillary cast her ballot out of sympathy for another older woman " because Obama didn't need my vote with a 10 point lead" that was her rational choice. She was an Obama voter with mixed feelings. It doesn't really matter whether Glenn Beck thinks the emotions were faked or not. The vote was cast.

Kudos to CNN for following up to reveal a bit more about the woman who asked the question that made Hillary respond emotionally. Great little piece of story-telling there that may reveal the truth or not. But the woman really was an Obama supporter.

If other women felt the progressive boys were "ganging up" on Hillary and gave her a sympathy vote, that is simply another reason for voting for a candidate. The votes were cast.

But with a large number of voters still undecided as they walked into the New Hampshire voting places, a well organized ground war, even a modestly well organized ground war on Monday and Tuesday could easily have made the pollsters look silly. It wasn't that those votes shifted at all. The uncertainty didn't subside until they stepped into the polling place.

Polls, of course, only measure where people are at a point in time. The polls were most likely accurate, but things changed or were changing. Change happens in elections. That's what makes them fun and a bit unpredictable.

And a good ground war, which seems to be the case for Hillary in New Hampshire, may have kept it from going the other way -- a 2 point Obama victory.

Ground wars are hard to cover and perhaps they should be.

Is Hillary Our Nixon? Some Reflections on New Hampshire 2008

As an aging boomer, I came of political age during the political career of Richard M. Nixon. Nixon suffered from political scandal early in his career but became Eisenhower’s VP during the 1950s. He suffered political setbacks in the early 1960s (losing the presidential election of 1960 and the California gubernatorial election of 1962). He made a remarkable comeback, beginning in the late 1960s, by winning elections to the Presidency twice (1968 and 1972). Nixon was not an appealing person, due to his stiff manner, and enigmatic and somewhat paranoid personality.

Nevertheless, he was a masterful party politician and there was something about him personally that attracted the core Republican base of his time. Perhaps it was because he was a self made man who could articulate the Horatio Alger myth that Republicans hold so dear. As a candidate, he ran for nomination and election as a conservative but governed from the center. Both his domestic and foreign policies were centrist to moderately liberal. Nixon’s last years in office were marred by political scandal, namely “Watergate,” that led to an attempt to impeach him and his eventual resignation.

I find the parallels between Richard Nixon and Hillary Clinton numerous. Like him, she is uncharismatic with a personality that puts off many Americans but is very effective in intra-party politics. She played a VP like role in Bill Clinton’s administrations and, along with him, experienced numerous political ups and downs, particularly associated with various scandals. The Clintons also were involved in an impeachment imbroglio. On a political level, Hillary is very popular among traditional segments of the rank and file of her party’s base. She especially embodies ideals that are important among Democratic Party women of a certain age, those who are strongly pro choice and mobilized by women’s identity politics and issues. Like Nixon, she campaigns in a way that is ideologically in tune with her base (in her case as a “liberal”) but all indications are that she will govern with moderate to moderately conservative domestic and foreign policies. Why do I say this? She and Bill Clinton have a long history of association with the Democratic Leadership Council, which represents the conservative wing of the Democratic Party. As President, Bill Clinton partnered with Republicans and Democratic neo-liberals on many issues, bringing us pro globalization type (NAFTA) policies. He also introduced “welfare reform” that utilized a Republican framework and concepts. Bill Clinton seemed more interested in maximizing his own political position, as opposed to building support for the Democratic Party as a progressive force in American society. In the international arena, both Bill and Hillary have supported the Republican “war on terror,” including the invasion of Iraq.

The parallels that I see between Richard Nixon and Hillary Clinton are among the many reasons why I support Barack Obama over Hillary. The relevant parallels for Obama are ones with Robert Kennedy, a genuine progressive who could bridge racial and class gaps among the American people. An Obama administration would not be a “restoration” with a rerun of similar policies and personnel from the 1990s, but something more genuinely liberal and better. Granted, Hillary Clinton would be an improvement over Republican rule, but, if you’re a progressive, an Obama presidency promises so much more. -----John D

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Does Hillary Need A $400 Haircut To Save Her Campaign?

The spouse made an interesting observation during the Saturday night debate. "Hillary needs a different hair cut."

"It makes her look like an old man."

Perhaps Clinton needs to talk to Edwards for hair image advice. "He looks ten years younger," the spouse says.

It's a risky strategy for South Carolina, but after Hilary loses New Hampshire by a hair even Entertainment Tonight will get involved in the most interesting debate in the campaign thus far. The new hairstyle will take Britney Spears off the front page.

New Hampshire Saturday Night Debate- Clinton Hot, Obama Cool

TV is a hot medium and although it didn't get THAT hot at the four way ABC Democratic debate on Saturday night, Hillary Clinton might have blown her single opportunity to score big.

Quip of the night had to go to Bill Richardson for his remark that he had seen more civil exchanges during hostage negotiations. But the message of Obama and Edwards that the Clintons were yesterday and voters wanted change is likely to resonate better than the 35 years of experience assertion from Hilary.

Thirty five years? Which campaign consultant thought that would be good to say? Or was that Hillary"s mistake? Or Bill's blunder? It played right into the hands of the Obama/Edwards point about change is better than experience. Iowa stats already showed that dog don't hunt and will definitely not resonate with New Hampshire's independents and Democratic progressive activists who make up the core of New Hampshire primary voters.

New Hampshire Democrats are not the same as New Hampshire Republicans. Southern New Hampshire is full of ex-Massachusetts imports. Although some of them are conservative Manchester Guardian suburban Republicans, many of them are not.

At this point on Sunday I think that Obama and Clinton will be within two points of each other with Edwards falling a tad further behind. McCain will edge Romney but not by as much as the MSM are predicting right now. McCain is not conservative enough for many New Hampshire Republicans. Ron Paul could do better here too than the MSM pundits may think.

Is that the final word on New Hampshire? Not hardly. We still have another two days and the ground war, not the media war will determine what happens now.

Maybe the young voters will see more e-mails and Facebook messages from Obama than from Clinton. But the MSM still hasn't figured out how Obama energized young voters in Iowa. Old folks and pundits watch TV. Young people don't.

Friday, January 04, 2008

REAL Iowa Message -- Real Change -- Not More of the Same

A 68% message was delivered to Democrats in Iowa last night.

Don't look back -- look forward to real change.

Progressives won Iowa in a landslide on Thursday with the Barack Obama/John Edwards message of change the real winner. The Obama-Edwards message won, but Obama clearly said it better and more positively taking the George Lakoff approach to heart. While Iowa voters may have preferred Obama to Edwards, the clear message was a large majority don't want to look back to another Clinton in the White House -- they wanted a clear change.

Yesterday afternoon we predicted Obama with 39%. We were mistaken. He only got 38%. We predicted Edwards with 28%. He got 30%. My prediction totaled 69% for Obama and Edwards and it came out to be just 68%.

I underestimated Hilary Clinton's Iowa support at 24%, but she got 29%. I didn't realize Emily's List was making a huge effort for Hilary. Despite that, Obama won more support from women than Hilary did.

I knew Obama had targeted young people and independents for special attenti0n, but I wondered whether that tactic would work. Young people still turn out less than older people that Hilary had targeted. Surprisingly, the Obama strategy worked. Young is in, old is out.

Was history made, or will New Hamphire tell us a different story? More about that later.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Kucinich Could Be More Important Than Oprah in Obama Iowa Victory Tonight.

Dennis Kucinich doesn't stand much of a chance in tonight's Iowa caucuses and he knows it. He has already signaled his supporters to go with Obama this evening and that could make all the difference in a close 3-way race. Kucinich's single digit numbers in recent polls have made his outcome a forgone conclusion and the recent death of his brother and the holiday break may have taken the energy out of the Kucinich campaign.

But there are some indicators that Obama's strong Iowa organization may not need any additional help other than to add to his margin.

My prediction for Iowa- Obama with 39 %, Edwards with 28% and Clinton with 24%. Let's see how far off that is.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Bush and Cheney Must Face Justice After 2008 Election

We now know for sure that our President and Vice President have violated federal laws, our Constitution, the Geneva Convention and international law. The only question remains is when and how will they be brought to justice. Here’s one of the scenarios that asserts that Bush is likely guilty of war crimes. We know a lot more.

We also know our own Democratic Congressional leaders did not have the courage of their convictions, but thanks to a Michigan journalist who sidled up to a bar with one of the most powerful men in Washington, we now understand a bit more of the reasoning that went into the decision not to pursue impeachment after the 2006 election.

What could be worse than not righting the wrongs of the worst administration in American history? Apparently, another four or eight more years of Republicans in the White House was the main concern.

Jack Lessenberry’s interview of Rep. John Conyers at the Dearborn Hyatt Regency in early December amplifies what Conyers has already said, but goes a bit further. It’s not just that the votes aren’t there to impeach and convict. An unsuccessful impeachment could set up a scenario that could lead to a Democrat losing to a Republican in 2008. Under one scenario, where Cheney is impeached GW could appoint perhaps Giuliani the veep leading to an eventual 2008 Republican win. Stealing elections is only possible when they are close, or seem to be. And Conyers who has already played a major role in two impeachments knows better than most what the stakes are.

Conyers has been a hero to most progressives who saw his voice as the only one willing to pursue hearings on election stealing, torture and the cover-ups of Bush administration abuses of the Constitution. When others were silent, he was vocal. Now he is one of the most powerful and most frustrated members of Congress. He seems most frustrated by us, his friends, because he has no answers for us that we want to hear. He seems to think there isn’t much he can do at this time because the numbers aren’t on our side.

But is it wrong for Congressional Democrats to think there is nothing they can do? Continuing to shed light on Bush administration misdeeds and the blatant support of Republican rubber stamps for those abuses is important. Evidence gathering is an important first step and whether it comes in a US or international courtroom, justice must be done in the future.

Of course, we need to redouble our efforts in 2008 to restore our democracy and our respect in the world by electing a president and Congress that truly reflect our values of respect for every individual and fair treatment for all. Peace and prosperity with integrity is what we all want.

An end of the year New York Times editorial takes a hard look at where we are today, but doesn’t go quite far enough. The new president will have his or her hands full dealing with the fallout of the worst administration in our history.

But for the long term interests of our democracy we must pursue justice, not revenge. We must bring the Bush administration evil doers to face their accusers in order to assure that it does not happen again. Reagan escaped his abuses of power and we cannot let GW do the same. Letting go of the pursuit of justice in the name of “bringing the country together” after a Democratic victory will teach our country nothing.

In order to restore our democracy and our moral authority in the world, we owe it to ourselves and the rest of the world to make Bush and Cheney defend themselves and their abominable record of abuses, lies and cover-ups. Surrendering them and their cohorts to an international tribunal would allow the next administration to focus on redeploying our armed forces and rebuilding America.

Mike Huckabee.... Another Typical Republican

Don’t let Mike Huckabee fool you with his kind congenial language and his strong rhetorical mannerisms. Yes, a good man, but listen to his stance on issues and see how he does not offer change for the average citizen, the middle class, or the little guy. Sure he is professional and even is convincing to moderate democrats. But his stance on the issues are that of a typical of a republican, offering no progress.

Family Values and Strong Marriages…. We have heard this before. Defining family values or what a strong marriage is. Republicans preach often about freedom of government in our lives, but then turn around and try to define our family structure. This is not freedom. Everybody’s family values are different. Who says gays can’t have a “strong marriage” or who says single parent divorced mothers still can’t raise a family. Families are all different in structure and contingency, it is not governments place to define what a “strong marriage” is or what family values are. The only thing we can say is that love holds a family together and that comes in all forms without concise definition.

Fear Tactics… Again we hear about the possibility of getting “hit” again by a terrorist attack. That we don’t want our children to wake up in the morning or going to bed at night with this fear in their minds. Huckabee relates that so carefully to the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and preparing for nuclear war. His memories of hiding under a school desk for protection form nuclear attack. Sorry, but these are two different things. That was the cold war with one basic enemy, communism. You will never win a war on terrorism. It is impossible to stop a motivated terrorist who will take their own life to hurt you. You cannot gauge fear this way, and fear should not be used to win votes. Roosevelt said it best in his First Inaugural Address. You want to reduce the chance of another attack, then become more friendlier around the world. Use multilateral lateral diplomacy to solve problems, not preemptive invasions of autonomous countries.

Huge Military…..Mike will tell us that he wants us to have the strongest military in the world, and that he will use it carefully and truthfully. Well, that costs money and tons of it. Basically what Mike is telling us is that he will do what a typical republican will do, that is big defense spending bills. This country can’t even afford to provide health care and public education to all its people, but we can build more bombs to kill people, our people and others around the world. Obtaining a political office should rely on a candidate’s commitment to public service. This includes human services for all American citizens? Inflated defense budgets don’t achieve this goal.

Gun Control…..Huckabee is sure to stress the point about freedom and guns. That it is not about hunting or preserving hunting, but about freedom to bare arms. Again, another strong NRA focused stance on the issue. He trumpets his definition of the constitution his own way. That owning and possessing a firearm is an inherent right as an American citizen. Charlton Heston could not have put it better. Again, a typical republican stance on an issue that blankets over the sickness of Virginia Tech and Columbine.

In all Mike Huckabee is a typical republican. Just like the ones we have seen in the past. For the most part, closed minded conservatives are all similar on most issues like these. American people need to understand typical republicans don’t offer change, something this country needs. And even though Mike comes off as a good competent gentleman, he is just like the rest of em’.

-Andrew Thibodeau