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A Democrat's Lament





Updated: 2014-03-19T18:50:02.404-07:00

 



So long and thanks for all the fish...

2009-02-20T12:57:30.083-07:00

To my loyal readers (all 12 of you), you might have noticed that I stopped writing in August. Today, I am officially closing up shop. Its been fun...



In defense of arugula

2008-08-26T10:30:37.409-07:00

(image) What is up with attacking people for eating arugula ? Firstly, arugula is delicious, especially on sandwiches. It tastes much better than lettuce.

This is the one area of political discourse that really escapes me. I must be blinded by my foodie nature, but really eating a leafy green denotes something significant?



McCain closing on Obama (only if you are dumb)

2008-08-21T11:04:23.575-07:00

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The older I get the more I find it hard to listen to the MSM. It is divorced from reality and unable to grasp the most obvious details in pursuit of filling their 24/7 news cycle. The latest story is that McCain is gaining on Obama. Of course if you look at the national polls it is true. Unfortunately for McCain, it doesn't really matter. The national polls may make supporters feel good or bad, but they are meaningless (winning the popular vote is a moral victory).

The line reminds of the HRC stories about her being ahead (inevitable) in the national polls before Iowa. Note to press, the presidential race consists of 50 state-wide races that are winner take all (please ask Al Gore how it works). Obama's people seem to be doing the same things in the general that they did in the primary, using the format and rules to their advantage.
Here is the reality:


  1. Obama still leads nationally (even if it is meaningless).

  2. McCain has not put away Arizona yet, he is currently under 45%.

  3. Montana, North Dakota, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, Alaska, Indiana, Missouri, Florida and Georgia are all within 5 points. McCain cannot lose any of these without winning Ohio and some other Democratic state.

  4. Obama holds comfortable leads in most of his base states (except New Hampshire).

  5. McCain's burnrate is unsustainable, he spent roughly $10 million more than he took in last month.

  6. Obama is investing in a big victory (voter registration, traditionally Republican states and a massive field program). It is hard to know which of these will pay off, but Obama is building a huge operation while still maintaining his lead.

  7. Many Obama supporters are not being polled. If you registered recently, if you only have a cell phone, if you have not voted in many previous elections then you are not likely to be polled.

  8. Likely voters models and samples are built from the last election. This election will be very different demographically.

I am not trying to justify anything here, but just state facts and most likely scenarios. The press can say what they want, but I would not trade where we are for McCain's standing.

PS -- My ability to post is greatly diminished at the moment. I would still love to get some permanent guest posters. Email me at ademlament@gmail.com if you are interested.




Place the blame for the oil crisis on George Bush

2008-07-06T12:02:12.860-07:00

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We all remember back to 2001, when George Bush spoke to the nation after 9/11. We were a united nation with the backbone to pursue al qaeda to punish them for the attack. At that moment, if George Bush had told the nation we were going on a crash diet and cutting the use of oil by 90% in ten years, the resources would have been there and the country would have been united.
Oil has always been a national security issue. It is one of the many failings of George Bush... He could have had class, he could have been a contender. He could have been somebody. Instead of a bum, which is what he is...



2nd Amendment Decision and why it probably matters little

2008-07-03T22:09:11.442-07:00

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I don't want to take anything away from the hard fought victory that gun advocates won in the Supreme Court last week, but here is why it is not likely to matter much.

I ran across this article on the Huffington Post today. Here is the problem for gun advocates, most rights are covered by a couple of legal standards, such as "a compelling government interest" and least restrictive means (BTW -- The Supremes did not define a standard). This basically means that the government will likely have to prove in most cases that they have a compelling interest in curtailing your rights and that they are using the least restrictive means for doing it.

Fighting terrorism and securing air travel are pretty compelling government interests. The only chance that 2nd Amendment advocates will likely have is based on least restrictive means. I think ultimately the Supreme Court decision will not cause a huge ripple-affect. I suspect many governments will have to alter their laws and a lot of them will be challenged.

Free speech may hurt people feelings or sensibilities, but rarely (ever?) does speech kill or injure people. It is simple much easier for the government to have a legitimate reason for regulation when it comes to guns. There is also an unknown about where this newly incorporated right will begin and end. Do you have the right to a rocket propelled grenade launcher? An M-16 (fully automatic or semi)? Sawed off shotgun? How about the right to concealed carry? I suspect common sense would dictate that you have the right to own semi-automatic hand guns or rifles (shot guns included). You probably would not have concealed carry rights and you would probably be restricted about where you can carry them (no airports, bars, government buildings, schools, etc). Having said that, I think the government will have to provide reasonable procedures for owning automatic weapons or concealed carry.

Just for the record (as a gun owner), guns don't kill people, but they do make killing people a lot more efficient which is why the government seeks to regulate them. After all nuclear warheads don't kill people either, people in the silos who fire them do, but I digress.

One last note: This decision was clearly not based on strict constructionist principles. Reading the 2nd Amendment clearly defines the right as being related to militias. They had to reach to make this decision.



Finally, a good initiative for 2008

2008-07-03T21:58:26.490-07:00

The Arizona Republic has this story about a "homeowners bill of rights" initiative being put on the ballot by the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association.

I think even conservatives and Republicans will find this largely non-controversial. It gives homeowners a 10 year warranty on a new home, allows the homeowner to choose who does repair work, the ability to sue the home builder without paying attorney's fees and requiring model homes to (gasp) reflect the houses being sold.

As far as I am concerned this is overdue... Kudos to the Sheet Metal Workers.



Apparently there is no healthcare problem

2008-06-29T12:38:43.324-07:00

This opinion piece from the East Valley Tribune just shows how short-sighted and dumb some people in the news media can be.

The piece entitled "Shadegg has a point about healthcare" argues that no one really goes without healthcare. After all, we have a system that provides reduced or free healthcare if you cannot afford to pay or don't have insurance. Don't even get me started on the inefficiencies of running a system this way.

Ok Mr. Le Templar, while factually true that we do not turn away people in dire need of healthcare would you admit that with about 45% percent of bankruptcies being related to medical expenses that we still have a huge problem.

The problem is that the middle class gets screwed in our current system. If you are very poor, there are programs to help. If you are very wealthy it is likely that you have an employer who provides health insurance. That leaves people in the lower and middle class in a lurch if they lose their job or cannot buy healthcare on their own. I personally have been in the unenviable situation of trying to decide whether it was worth going to the doctor to have something checked knowing full well that my insurance would only cover a small portion of the cost and would likely drop or greatly increase the cost of my coverage the next year.

I doubt I am alone in making that calculation. There are many times when individuals decide to go without vital medicine or avoid going to the emergency room or doctor because they hope their problem will go away without a two or three day hospital stay putting them thousands of dollars in debt.

There is also a larger problem. The only reason I am no longer running my own business is because of healthcare. It was not that I could not afford my premiums, it was that as a two to three person company our insurance was always at risk. I could not ask my family to risk going without healthcare for the sake of my personal ambition. The satisfaction of doing what you love and being your own boss sometimes takes a backseat your family's well being. There is also the fact the no matter how much I wanted to provide insurance to my employees, it was simple financially out of reach.

I think what you are referring to is a distinction without a difference. Your argument is both specious and asinine.



Thomas Watch: Thank God for the New Times

2008-06-26T23:43:33.292-07:00

Once again, the New Times runs circles around the Arizona Republic when it comes to political reporting. This article properly covers the on-going State Bar investigation of Thomas. Let's just say that the Republic only reported part of the story. (I know, it is hard to imagine)



Email whisper campaigns and Obama

2008-06-23T11:36:16.450-07:00

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I have heard a lot of grousing lately about the whisper campaigns happening via email. The part that is bugging me are the supporters that are crying about how unfair and underhanded it is. While that maybe true, I just want to remind everyone that (once again) there is no excuse for losing a political campaign. If Obama's campaign cannot figure out an effective strategy against these sort of smears (assuming the smears are a major factor) then tough, you don't win.

Ultimately, campaigns are a meritocracy. The best candidate and campaign win. I don't care about how underhanded the Republicans become we must respond effectively. Bitchin' is not an effective response...



Nuclear power and Oil

2008-06-23T11:24:42.968-07:00

Lately, we hear a lot from conservatives that nuclear energy must be part of our energy solution. The reasoning is usually based on nuclear being a low carbon producing source of energy. There are a couple major problems with nuclear power beyond the obvious environmental issue of how to dispose of waste.

First, nuclear power is not a bargain. Here is why. Nuclear power plants are very expensive to build. Regulation is partly to blame, but my right-wing friends you must have regulation when an accident can wipe out a city. Althought the cost of production is relativly low, the up front costs are enormous.

Second and more often overlooked is that uranium is not necessarily a good hedge against energy prices. Contrary to popular belief, nuclear power is not fundamentally different than fossil fuel based power generation. You are still essentially burning, using or destroying a material to produce energy. In the case of nuclear power, the power source lasts longer and contains a lot more power per unit of mass. Here is the problem, uranium is mined in many of the same places that oil is extracted. It is subject to conflict disruptions, speculation and price spikes. I noticed this today on Bloomberg. At the moment, the price of Uranium is quite low historically. But notice that the low price of uranium is spurring the building of nuclear power plants by you guessed it, India and China.


Perhaps it is time for us to take a more innovative approach to energy policy. Everyone in the world needs clean and cheap power. We should lead, not follow... We need to invest heavily in new technologies and license those products to American companies. We should solve our energy crisis and create new jobs and industries here. Perhaps nuclear power can be part of that solution, but the current breed of nuclear power generation is too costly and inefficient to be useful.



Thomas Watch: Once again Andy whimpers when he doesn't get special treatment

2008-06-23T11:34:52.656-07:00

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I have never known a bigger cry-baby in public office than our good friend Andy Thomas. He has been upset for a while because he being investigated for his misconduct, like every other lawyer. The Arizona Republic has the response from the Bar Association.

Basically the response is cool your jets Andy, we have not even charged you with anything. He objects to the Bar Association even investigating his alleged (real) misconduct. We all know you are special Andy, but we always thought it was in a different short-bus sort of way.



Good time to kill a stupid system

2008-06-20T13:14:50.175-07:00

The East Valley Tribune has this article about the crisis in the student loan system. Perhaps it is time to do away with private indentured servitude of the current system and build one that makes more sense.

I have been very clear where I stand on this issue (education should be free), but I am well aware of the slim to none nature of it. Perhaps, if there was less capital in the system we will see the same price drop as in the housing market.

I am curious gentle readers, do you think college costs could be like housing prices? Would a drop in enrollment cause a drop in tuition. Of course, that would be a disaster for our country, but this is more an intellectual exercise.



Oh, Arizona Republic how do you get it wrong so often

2008-06-20T12:54:45.003-07:00

This article about offshore oil drilling from the Arizona Republic shows just the kind of problems that exist with reporting today. The Republic has a default bias towards Republicans, but it is not too egregious. The real problem with the Republic is that they no longer have the resources or inclination to take a comprehensive look at an issue.

Oil is a pretty simple issue and I don't understand why the paper payed attention to the least important aspect of the opposition to offshore drilling. Yes, there are tons of environmental problems that go along with drilling for oil. But how can they write an article and not even point out the highly unlikely nature of his ideas suceeding. Primarily, that most experts agree that it will not change oil prices anytime soon, if ever. At best, it probably slows the increase in prices. If George Bush announced he was going to flap his arms for future air travel would the Republic point out that Democrats oppose his wing flapping because they are afraid he would be drunk when he flies or the fact that he cannot really fly?

How about saying that Democrats oppose it for environmental reasons and expert agree that it will do little to change oil prices. Ah, yes the truth...



The oil production myth

2008-06-18T17:18:50.836-07:00

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Just yesterday George Bush said that he wanted to increase domestic oil production to elevate gas prices. Unfortunately, the idea is laughable. I suspect our oilmen in chief know it...


Here is the basic problem:



  • World oil production is 82,532,000/day. The US currently produces 5,102,000/day. The US alone consumes 20,687,000/day. World-wide consumption is 83,607,000/day.

Let's assume that we extract significantly more of than our current output, lets say we make it back to our peak oil production in 1986 of about 10.2 million barrels/day. Since oil would be sold on the open world market it would increase world oil production to 87,634,000/day or an increase of 6%. If you make the likely incorrect assumption that demand does not increase (doing simple math I know) you at best could expect a 6% decrease in oil prices. That would reduce today's price from $136 to $127/barrel. Unless my small government friends want to nationalize all remaining oil reserves and keep them in the country, this will only serve to help oil companies.



  • Untapped reserves will take years to begin producing.

Even if we begin today it is likely that market forces will change the game before any of this oil comes on the market.



  • Finally, we have picked the low hanging fruit world-wide as far as oil reserves are concerned. The remaining oil reserves are more expensive to extract. Increasing production costs lead to you guessed it, higher prices. It is not inconceivable that we could see the new oil reserves makes their way onto the market with a significant additional cost component (greater than say 6%?).

Want more info: go here and here


So, my Republican friends please spare me your non-sense. BTW -- if you want to advocate off shore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, please do it before the election, so we can lock up the state in the Democratic column.

Update: I just ran across this timely article on Salon.com and this one from the NY Times.




Grill? Oh, you mean throw softball questions...

2008-06-16T14:44:09.726-07:00

The Arizona Republic has a strange headline on an article discussing questions Joe Arpaio got on a radio show. It is not a huge deal, but it really shows the Republic's thinking on the matter of tough questions to ask a politician.

In case you don't want to read the article, let me give you an overview of the questions:

Sheriff Joe you are doing God's work, why are so many people trying to stop you from protecting our country? Why are you so great Sheriff? Why do immigrants kick their dogs? and so on...

Here are questions I would like to ask him:

Joe your office costs Maricopa County millions of dollars every year because of your gross negligence and mismanagement, should tax payers continue to be responsible for the checks your media-whore ego continues to write?

As Sheriff you have two basic responsibilities, running the jail and serving warrants. Why should we continue to elect you when you don't do a good job running the jail (cost overruns, poor management, inability to get prisoners to court, etc) and there are 40+ thousand unserved warrants? My real question is, what do you do all day?

Why are we helping the good people of Honduras when you have a budget short fall in your office that is affecting the execution of your public responsibilities?

Just a thought...



Relax, HRC supporters are not jumping to McCain

2008-06-16T12:25:58.639-07:00

This article from Slate does an excellent job of explaining the whole HRC supporters for John McCain issue. It is not that they don't exist or don't matter, it is just that the Obama campaign should not get lost in trying to convince the unconvincible. Most of the die-hards who don't like Obama will eventually come-around, but there will be a noisy contingent who will not.

Trying to convince them otherwise is a waste of time and frankly not that important to the election. That is very different than the sizable group of HRC supporters that would still prefer her over Obama, they are hugely important. Just like Dean and Edwards supporters were hugely important to John Kerry.



Yes, this guy would make a good President

2008-06-11T15:57:57.601-07:00

(image) Don't fear the reaper Bobby (he won't get you)

Bobby Jindal apparently believes in demons and has participated in an exorcism. How did so much dumb stick to him after attending Brown and being a Rhodes scholar?

WOW

There are sooo many jokes here... brain overwhelmed... cannot hold volume of ridicule... overload....



Good discussion of McCain's Arizona problem

2008-06-11T11:05:51.707-07:00

While I doubt that Barack Obama will win the state of Arizona, it is certainly possible with right culmination of events. This article gives a pretty good overview of the current situation.

The fact is that many local conservatives despise John McCain. While they are not going to cross-over in significant numbers to vote for Obama, they might stay home in large enough numbers to affect the outcome or at least make McCain sweat.

The simple fact is that Democrats are going to vote for Barack Obama and he is doing well with Independent voters. When you add the fact that many Arizonians have no history with John McCain because they are new residents, it really presents a potential problem.

Having said all of that, unless Obama is headed to a major national landslide I would expect many undecided voters to swing to McCain. I still think the article makes the most likely call that the race will end up 55 to 45 McCain. The prospect of a Ron Paul or some other strong Libertarian candidate has to keep McCain's people up at night.



Feminism has come full circle

2008-06-11T11:08:15.035-07:00

This article from Salon is really interesting to me for a couple of reasons. The article addresses the strained relationship of Alice Walker and her daughter Rebecca Walker. It approaches their relationship from a distinctly feminist view point. Basically, the author bemoans how feminist ideology has become another of many possible impediments to mother-daughter relationships.

The interesting thing to me is that the portrait of Alice Walker very much reminded me of my own overly ambitious, distant, uninterested father. I could not help, but think that feminism has largely come full circle. The last step is recognizing that highly talented, passionate and driven people are often cruel, self-centered and egotistical. This is true whether you are a man or woman. While I am sure Alice Walker was also driven by her ideology, I think it is more than likely that, (gasp) all woman are not nurturing, they don't all love children and they can have the same lofty-overwrought ambitions as men. Alice Walker is probably not much different than James Joyce, Pablo Picasso or Miles Davis; all supremely ambitious and fabulously talented and full of contradictions that cared less for domesticity than for making a mark of world. Unfortunately, people rarely make a lasting mark on the world and have a warm and loving home life.



McCain just another politician

2008-06-09T21:27:19.899-07:00

I thought this was a really interesting look at McCain. Of course, it came from a foreign paper which explains the balanced and nuanced coverage. My feeling is it that shows John McCain to be your everyday run of the mill ambitious politician, not that different from any other presidential contender in the past. He is certainly no saint or maverick. When you couple his behaviour in this article, his involvement with the Keating 5 incident and his more recent problems with lobbyists, I think it shows him to be someone who maybe has ideals, but has trouble abiding by them when they conflict with his own ambitions.

The contrast with Obama and Rezko, I think is telling. When Obama was asked about Rezko's purchase of property adjacent from his, he admitted that it was a dumb mistake and that it could legitimately raise questions. I believe that Obama sees this as a mistake that he has learned from and aims to avoid in the future. I am not sure you can say the same of John McCain.



Thomas Watch: Our Candidates Talk to You

2008-06-06T09:44:11.131-07:00

Democratic Diva and A Democrat's Lament are teaming up to help everyone get to know our County Attorney candidates. I would encourage you to give money and volunteer for one or both of them. In my opinion, this is the most important race in Arizona this year. I listed Tim Nelson first because Gerald Richard is listed first on Democratic Diva. TIM NELSON COMMENTS:Hi, this is Tim Nelson, Democratic candidate for Maricopa County Attorney. I want to thank Democratic Divas and A Democrat’s Lament for giving me this opportunity to cross-post on their blogs.I have been a proud Democrat my entire life. Democratic values — opportunity, justice, and security for everyone willing to work hard and play by the rules – are the core values I was raised with and have embraced throughout my life. I have put those values to work for scores of Democrats at both the state and national level, in both a paid and volunteer capacity.I have been active in local Democratic politics since the day I arrived in Arizona back in 1994 when my friend, Congressman Sam Coppersmith, was running for the U.S. Senate. Since then I have worked on many Arizona Democratic campaigns.I am perhaps most proud of my work with Governor Napolitano. I first worked with her in 1987, during a summer internship when I was in law school. When she ran for Attorney General, I was proud to volunteer for her campaign. Two years later, I was honored to join her staff as Special Counsel.She really epitomizes for me why it is so important to elect Democrats whenever possible. She kept the focus on running the office in a professional manner and working on problems that affect the average citizen trying to pay the bills and raise a family in peace. While I was there, I was responsible for making sure that big tobacco lived up to their promises in the large tobacco settlement of the late 1990s. I sued to force RJ Reynolds remove its Winston brand cigarette advertisements from a racetrack in Arizona. I also held Arthur Andersen accountable for defrauding our senior citizens and secured a settlement of $217 million that recouped much of the money they had lost. Before the Arizona Supreme Court, I won the right for individual citizens to initiate their own antitrust lawsuit, a big victory for consumers.When Janet Napolitano was elected Governor, she chose me to be her General Counsel and I spent five great years advising her on a wide range of policy and legal issues, writing her veto messages and executive orders.In February I left that job to take on an important task: defeating Andrew Thomas for Maricopa County Attorney. Andrew Thomas has been a uniquely bad public servant. He has wielded his great powers of issuing subpoenas and convening grand juries in abusive and un-American ways. His office’s attempt to arrest the New Times editors is only the best known example.He has also corrupted the office by giving millions of dollars in contracts to campaign contributors; using public funds promoting himself; and initiating witch hunts against political opponents like Attorney General Terry Goddard.The Maricopa County Attorney has several key tasks: issuing legal opinions to guide the actions of county agencies; representing them in court when needed; and most importantly, supervising the prosecution of criminal and civil cases. These are exactly the things I have been doing for the last twenty years at the highest levels of the public and private sectors. I believe that this makes me uniquely qualified to be your next Maricopa County Attorne[...]



Others said it better, but this is why HRC lost

2008-06-04T15:12:21.854-07:00

I have had this thought for a while, but lucky for me someone said it better than I could. The simple reasons she lost are two fold: the war and bad strategy.

Obama would not have had an opening without the war. Back when he entered the race, the only reason I considered him over HRC was the war. I was simple waiting for her to say it was a mistake to vote for it and that she learned from it. Her inability to admit the mistake pushed me to give Obama a long look. That is how I became a supporter.

The second problem I have written about previously. Her campaign ceded so much ground to Obama in the caucus states that he won the nomination based on that. Argue all you want about the validity of caucuses, but like it or not you don't cede any contest when the delegates are given on a proportional basis. Her campaign never seemed to wake up to the problem.

Congrats to Barack Obama for winning the nomination. It is time for everyone to hold hands, sing kumbaya and then elect a Democratic president.



Now for a little levity...

2008-06-03T12:19:44.330-07:00

This article from the Huffington Post made me laugh (in an very adolescent Beavis and Butthead sort of way). No offense to either of the people cited, but here is money quote:

UPDATE 12:25 PM Tuesday, June 3:
Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and Congressman John W. Olver have endorsed Barack Obama. DNC Members Debbie Dingell and Rick Wiener also endorsed Obama.
I know it is adolescent and immature, but Obama locked up Cheeks, Dingell and Wiener today, so you know he has the nomination in the bag...



A sad state and a good compromise

2008-06-01T12:13:37.884-07:00

The Rules Committee ruling yesterday was both sage and fair. However, I fear that we are heading for a very close election in the Fall because of the actions of HRC and her die hard supporters. The wounds inflicted through this process, I fear will not be soon forgotten.

I have to admit that I don't fully understand the ferocity of the anger many of her supporters feel. Anyone involved in politics has felt the disappoint and frustration when our chosen candidate loses a close election, but most of us subscribe to a higher good and we believe the Democratic Party represents the best vehicle for achieving our policy goals. Some of her supporters feel robbed by a fair process that was governed by clear rules. HRC had every advantage going into the process, but chose to ignore caucus states and run as though she was an incumbent.

I want to be unequivocal in my statement: I hope that HRC's supporters will come back to the Democratic fold. They are a large and important constituency in our party (I think most of them will), but let me be very clear, anyone considering voting for John McCain after eight years of Bush and the disasters he has wrought is not a Democrat. If you value the election of Hillary Clinton over the swing of the Supreme Court and the rights at stake, you are not a good American. If you think we are better off with four more ruinous years of Republican policies then you don't care about the future of this country. We have no room for you in our party.



Thomas Watch: Thanks Andy, Heck of a job!

2008-05-30T14:38:29.046-07:00

The East Valley Tribune has this editorial about the Maricopa County tax payers being forced to pickup the legal bills of Dennis Wilenchik. While I agree in principle that prosecutors should be protected from the financial dangers of pursuing prosecutions, I am not sure that it should be absolute. I am also not sure that private attorneys should be deputized as prosecutors. Furthermore, I am not sure someone as dumb as Andy Thomas should be allowed to contractually indemnify the County's tax payers based on his bone-headed decisions. How much will this cost us? Andy Thomas and Joe Arpaio sure cost us a lot money.

I would make this a major campaign issue if I was running against him...