Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Meanwhile in Afghanistan--A Diplomatic Triumph

++Ashraf Ghani has been sworn in as President of Afghanistan in the first democratic transfer of power in that country's history. 

++After a contentious election, which saw a huge turnout,the United Nations was called on to audit the vote. Ghani beat out Abdullah Abdullah, who had been perceived as the American favorite. In months of shuttle diplomacy by John Kerry and personal phone calls by President Obama, the two men reached a power-sharing agreement.

++President Obama has been widely criticized by conservatives for not getting a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq. That criticism was echoed recently by Leon Panetta in his words against Obama's ISIS strategy.

++Yesterday,there was signed a Bilateral Security Agreement that allows the United States to train, equip, advise Afghan military and police beyond this year.

++Most remaining foreign troops will leave by the end of the year. But,yes,there is a Status of Forces Agreement (BSA), which allows the US to keep some bases and 9,000 troops. The agreement provides the legal protection for US military personnel from being tried for crimes in Afghanistan.

++Times have certainly changed when a diplomatic triumph on a major American war has been so soft-pedalled. There is no guarantee the power-sharing arrangement will hold or that the Taliban's offensive all not succeed. But it curious that the response in the  media is so subdued.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Blues

++President Obama came out yesterday to say the Democrats will win the Senate.

++Sam Wang is recalculating. He still has Republicans at 51 seats and a rising meta-margin. The other aggregators like Nate Silver and the New York Times have the GOP now overwhelming odds.

++Sam and others point to the burst of Ernest in Iowa,Cotton in Arkansas,Gardner in Colorado, and Sullivan staring to lead in Alaska. 

++Landrieu in Louisiana and Hagan in North Carolina have slim leads.

++The Supreme Court by a 5 to 4 put a hold on the Circuit ruling ruling blocking Ohio's restriction on early voting. Blocking Sunday and early voting in Ohio favors the Republicans and pointedly restricts the Africa-American vote.

++The controversy over the intruder into the White House reveals he got further inside the White House than previously reported. In the Post article on the story,there was one ominous line. President Obama has experienced three times more threats than any of his predecessors.

++President Obama seems to have surfaced in recent days with sharp the detailed speeches. His speech before the Congressional Black Caucus was a rousing defense of his own administration and promises to do more. His appearance on 60 Minutes was a cool, sober assessment of the Middle East.

++This afternoon Turkish tanks moved toward the border of Syria to prevent ISIS' advance. In Baghdad, ISIS came close to the outskirts of town and reported conducted two massacres of Iraqi military personnel. Private reports indicate that the Iraqi military are lying about their progress and Shiite militias are killing young Sunni men. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Baseball Goodies

++Jordan Zimmerman became the first player in the history of the Washington Nationals to pitch a no-hitter. He blanked the Marlins 1-0 and pitched a perfect game until the 6th. The last Washington player to have pitched a no-hitter was an obscure player by the name of Bobby Burke in 1931.

++The Yankees beat the Boston Redsox by 9 to 5. But the key moment was Derek Jeter's last major league at bat. He singled a run in and was promptly taken from the game and the stadium erupted.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I Don't Know

++I wish more pundits and Beltway types would say,"I don't know." The fog of war clouds the analysts and policy-makers alike.

++For instance,if ISIS is an existential threat and as Lindsey Graham says," we are all going to die", then shouldn't our response be proportionate to the threat? Shouldn't Congress come back into session to declare war? And what is the legal basis for us to bomb Syria? President Obama fudged our legal basis in Iraq but at least drew two claims: 1.) the humanitarian;2.) our national interests because huge numbers of Americans are in Baghdad and Erbil.

++President Obama leaped into another rationale during his UN speech. That is that ISIS is a threat to world order and is antithetical to all the values held up by the global community. Today, his talk to the nation was how America leads the world. The Economist sees him come reluctantly to this position and that it was about time and congratulated him on his adroit policy of creating a coalition that has the predominately Sunni theocrats involved. He has also brought Europe along with Belgium, Denmark, Holland joining the UK,France and Germany.

++There have been a slew of articles criticizing the President's strategy and carping at the coalition partners. The effect of his actions have not unified a country or silenced critics as the second invasion of Iraq had done. There is a silent stirring. No one can quite formulate a rational response.

++We have the fear-mongers. But consider this,after 9-11,we have had only a few botched terrorism plots and the Boston Marathon bombings. Intelligence officials say that the number of Americans with ISIS has been vastly overblown. We have our own Christian jihadists who want to invoke a holy war against ISIS. Ted Cruz just wants to bomb them without any thought to the politics on the ground. 

++With the media ramping up the war talk,do we not believe that the trillion plus we put into creating the Department of Homeland Security and the whole anti-terrorism apparatus works? Has all the effort to create Gulag airlines and all the inconveniences put into to make the average American's life miserable been a waste? Is the vast NSA spy apparatus which Edward Snowden revealed just a scam? I could see that. But I have to wonder how rapidly Americans have taken the war bait and thrown all these considerations out the window.

++In the last few days, Administration spokespeople have put a three-year time frame on the ISIS operation. But we know from the past that it could be perpetual. What is the end-game? How does that become self-evident? Is it just when we get tired? When General Marshall analyzed America's stomach for war, he basically said that the American people had a four year tolerance. This was before an all-volunteer military and charging wars to the national credit card.

++The Republicans are campaigning on their great terrorist hunting prowess, which puzzles me given their past. But they will debate the issue in the new Congress, not the lame duck session. And how much will President Obama give them? More austerity and cutting the safety net so he can have free reign on this fight. 

++What disturbs me is that it is rapidly becoming clear that the fight against ISIS will take up the rest of his term. That is a pity. He only got half a pivot to Asia.And he will face defensive action to defend what he has achieved. I just hope I make it to Medicare before the GOP dismantles Obamacare.

++Are we going to have a nuclear deal with Iran? Will Congress allow any such deal or are we going to retrace the steps of the past? Is Iran sacrificing Al Qaeda in Syria for a better deal? Cadres of Al Qaeda who were held in Iran for several years had been allowed to cross Iraq into Syria. It is clear that Tehran has allowed them to be targeted. Is Turkey reluctant to get involved in the Syrian conflict because of their relationship with Tehran?

++And what is America's interest in remaining so upfront in the Middle East when the economic interests at this stage are minimal? 

++As I began,"I don't know." This is no sense pretending to know because anything being said now is high-brow gossip.

++These are complex issues and fascinating when you get into the weeds to try and understand them. But one of the most important issues is how they impact on our constitutional order. And again,"I don't know".

++I would like to see the American public have some skin in the game. I would like to see a Financial Transaction Tax and luxury good tax to pay for these adventures. I would like to see a new type of draft--military or public service. Otherwise, what does your opinion really mean? The odds of you being a victim of a terrorist attack are practically nil.So what practical effect do you have on what is transpiring? Again," I don't know."

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sam Wang Moves

++Sam Wang moves. Senate conditions now are at GOP at 51 and Democrats and Independent at 49. The meta-margin for the Republicans is +0.1%

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Little Things That Obama Can Still Accomplish

++It's the Little Things that add up and make a difference.

++President Obama today created the world's largest fully protected marine reserve in the Central Pacific Ocean.

++Previously, the reserve which stretched from Hawaii has covered 86,888 square miles. Through executive action ,President Obama extended the marine reserve to 490,000 square miles, making it the largest in the world.

++Don't say he didn't do anything lately.

Eric Holder To Announce His Resignation

++63 year old Eric Holder will announce he is resigning today. He plans to say he will stay until a new Attorney General is confirmed. Holder makes good on his promise that he will not be dragged through the final days of the Obama presidency.

++Our first African-American Attorney General,he has been vigilant on the issue of voter registration suppression and actively pushing back on the wave of state restrictions. As we have seen in the Ferguson case, he and the DOJ have been aggressive in the issue of police shootings on young African-Americans.

++The ding on his record will be his very personal and intense push against national security leaks and upholding the law in areas of national security.

++The GOP will be delighted he is gone because he seemed to be the Red Flag on their hobby horses--Fast and Furious, the strange gun smuggling sting that resulted in one AFT agent killed,voter registration issues which the GOP wanted to pass, and even Obamacare, which he defended.

++He goes out with a solid record and had the pleasure celebrating a whole host of anniversaries of civil rights achievements.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Totally Confused

++I will admit I am totally confused over what I think about the recent aerial attacks on Syria and the ultimate stakes of the game. 

++Michael Tomasky advises us that Obama's war is not like George W. Bush's for a variety of reasons. His primary focus is on the fact that the reasons for President Obama's actions are rather self-evident and not based on lies or mistruths such as WMD or Saddam's non-connection to 9-11.

++Tomasky believes Obama's coalition is more consequential than W's because of the array of Sunni nations actually involved and flying fighter jets. Andrew Sullivan quarrels with this saying that George H.W. Bush's coalition was more substantial during the Gulf War.

++But Andrew raises the question so many people have raised--the legal justification of the aerial attacks and the potential--or likelihood--of producing more terrorism and actual threats to the United States.

++Ross Douhat has actually been writing sane articles in the New York Times suggesting that a goal of degrading and containing is plausible but beyond that there are no players on the ground who can fill the political and military vacuum.

++President Obama has eschewed the rhetoric about freedom and democracy and has basically asserted the priority of a stable region. Chris Dickey in the Daily Beat has been very skeptical of this saying that the status quo is gone and can't be fixed.

++One theme that comes up, which perplexes me. Writers are saying that the aerial bombing of Syria will strengthen Assad's regime and the Syrian rebels whom we support are against the strikes. How can Assad be stronger? If you have lost over half your country and the other half is in exile,how do you become stronger--and over what? This is like saying Hitler in the Bunker could hunker down and wait out the onslaught. The problem is that the United States sort of wants--really--wants Assad gone but needs him around to tolerate the airstrikes. But what happens afterwards.

++It is quite clear that the United States is coordinating their attacks with Iran and informing the Syrian foreign ministry of all impending strikes. The U.S. weird dance with Tehran has Israel upset. Bibi Netanyahu met with President Obama to express concerns that he will go wobbly on the nuclear talks and loosen the sanctions because of Iran's cooperation in both Iraq and now in Syria.

++The veteran reporter Walter Pincus has shown his chops recently in the Washington Post in his articles outlining how and what President Obama's strategy is. His articles are actually very appreciative of how President Obama has assembled his international coalition and exactly what its goals are.

++President Obama made his annual presentation to the United Nations today and talked about ISIS as being the incarnation of evil whom the entire global community must resist.

++Russia informed the United States that the coalition wasn't a private club and they would participate even if not asked. 

++Charlie Rangel, Democrat from New York,raised issues near to my heart. Charlie wants to re-instate the draft and adopt a war tax. Funding for this adventure has not been discussed by the debt-conscious Congress.

++Leon Panetta appeared on Meet the Press and said that he had favored keeping troops in Iraq. He didn't mention that the Iraqis didn't want us there any longer and their parliament passed a law eating a date for our exit. He also said that he was for arming the Syrian "moderates" as were the entire NSC. this sounds damning of President Obama but as John Kerry tells it the United States could not make any effective moves until al-Malicki was removed in Iraq. 

++General Hugh Shelton appeared on C-Span and mentioned that our troops on the ground were the 250,000 some Iraqis trained by American forces and if they could not resist ISIS the region had more problems than we can handle. He also mentioned something that is dear to my heart--"What possesses our political leaders to say publicly what we will or will not do." This goes for W and it goes for Obama. Sometimes the optics are that the President is less clear than he actually is.

++Oh, by the way, Hillary Clinton says she agrees with President Obama's strategy. Marine General Conway says it doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of succeeding.

++So far,my original complaint that there are too many moving parts that have to work right holds. I also don't see how this unfolds over time. The true "Unknown Unknowns". 

++But if this is too confusing, you might get outraged that President Obama saluting his Marine President Guards while holding a latte. If you are outraged,the RNC says you can donate to the Republican candidate of your choice.

++ISIS has been a bonanza for Republican candidates. All of the Senate candidates like Brown in New Hampshire claim they know who the enemy is and they are better than their opponent at fighting them. Polls do show a wide margin in favor of the GOP in fighting terrorism and in foreign policy,both issues the Democrats had the edge from 2008 until today. So watch this space,national security could become the GOP trump card, even though they aren't in session.So you have to take them on trust.

++Dana Millbank makes the overall point that on issue such as fighting ISIS, immigration reform,and healthcare, President Obama has outflanked the Left. If President George W. Bush had done the recent acts in Iraq and now Syria,the Left would be storming in the street. I don't know. But I think I agree with Rachel Maddow that President Obama has signed onto perpetual war.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Arkansas Poll

++Hickman Analytics conducted a poll in Arkansas, which shows Senator Pryor up 46-43 against Republican Tom Cotton.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The People's Climate March

++The night before, organizers promised 100,000plus would show up. Considering the importance of the issue for the fate of planet earth you would expect the media to be out in force.

++Congratulations to the organizers and Bill McKibben of 350.org. By midday, conservative estimates had the march at 300,000plus and NYPD thought 500,000 attended.

++Democracy Now had a wall-to-wall broadcast led by Amy Goodman. The MSM media had brief glimpses and the March made it below the fold in the Washington Post. Considering the success, they should have declared themselves Tea Part Patriots and gotten coverage on the major networks.

++Over 1,500 organizations, faith groups,native American nations,environmental groups,and over 300 American collages and universities attended. Even the Secretary-General of the United Nations marched.

++More stunningly, the People's Climate March was accompanied globally by 2,000 rallies in 166 countries. Also, the March was duplicated throughout the United States.

++This should spark a discussion on whether such demonstrations of solidarity can move the needle.

++I should also mention that there was supposed to be a march for the American Autumn by the same people who brought you the American Spring. No one showed up.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Clayton Kershaw wins his 20th

++Kershaw has been nominated for both the Cy Young Award and the MVP. Today's Dodger victory cinches a playoff berth, while they remain in 1st in the NL West.

Last Kansas Polls

++Rasmussen: Orman 45 Roberts 40.

++Fox News:    Orman 48 Roberts 42.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Kansas Supreme Court Rules

++Kris Kobach, is famous for his advocacy of voter suppression,had refused to remove Chad Taylor for the ballot in the Kansas Senate race after the Democrat bowed out and asked his name taken from the ballot.

++The Supreme Court ruled his name is to be removed, dealing a blow to the GOP, since Greg Orman, the independent, has moved into a position to challenge Roberts.

++Kobach insisted that the Democrats would have to hold another convention and select another candidate. The Supreme Court did not comment on that suggestion.

Sam Wang Hangs Tough

++With the last few days of polling producing volatile results sometimes in the same race, I noted Princeton had cut today's probability down, but remained optimistic for election day.

++Karl Rove had warned Republicans that their edge in the Senate had been lost because of a lack of money. He promptly went off to Adelson for new bucks to CrossRoads USA.

++By late afternoon, Sam Wang was again bullish. He has the prediction at 51 Democrats and Independents 49 Republicans,the meta-margin back up to 1.7. 90% if the election were held today and 70% on election day.

++The DailyKos has been warning readers off some of the recent polls, especially Quinnipiac on the Senate races which have GOP candidates making surprising strides.

++Let's hear out for Scotland. 97% of the population registered to vote and an expected 92% are to cast their ballots today.

After a Tough Day, Congress adjourns again

++The House adjourned after approving a budget bill that keeps government open until December and granted President Obama's request for funding to train the Syrian "moderates". The Tea Party members swallowed and allowed the Export-Import Bank, which has been in existence since 1934, to continue to operate.

++The Senate has to pass the bill to fund the Syrian opposition and then the Congress critters will be off until mid-November after the elections.

++They did not entertain the idea of voting on whether President Obama could go to war without an explicit vote from Congress. Cool. They were too exhausted.

Angels Win AL West Title

++ L.A. Angels won the AL West title by blanking the Mariners 5-0. This will be the first playoff year for Albert Pujols and Mike Trout together.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Great Idea of the Year!

++The Occupy Wall Street movement produced one of the most innovative concepts around--the Rolling Jubilee,which buys debt. Now the Rolling Jubilee has abolished $4 million in loans owed by college students. This affected 2,761 people.

++They have announced a new Debt Collective Initiative, modeled after the old trade union movement. The idea is "You are not a Loan" and encourages debtors to act collectively.

++So far the Rolling Jubilee has eradicated $13.5 million in medical debt and $1.2 million in personal debt by buying it at cents to the dollar. 

++This is truly a great idea for a debt burdened country.

More Poll Predictions

++Bookies in the UK are banking On Scotland remaining in the UK. The last polls showed Scots preferring to remain in the UK by 52-48%. Curiously,these percentages match those of the much maligned Sam Wang at Princeton.

++Huffpost Pollster's Tracking Model has the probability of the Democrats retaining control of the Senate at 53% and Republicans at 47%.

++Election Lab at the Washington Post ran their numbers 10,000 times and come up with a 50-50 split,literally very small differences between the two parties.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Orioles Clinch 1st AL East Title since 1997

++The Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8 to 2 for their first AL East title since 1997.

Nationals First Team To Clinch Division Title

++The Washington Nationals clinched the National League East Title by beating the Atlanta Braves 3-0. They are the first team this year to clinch their title.

North Carolina

++Public Policy Polling:
Kay Hagan 44% to Thom Tillis 40%, Sean Haugh 5%. The libertarian has dropped from the past 11%. With PPP reallocating his vote, Hagan still leads 46% to 42%.

Nate The Great,"It's Pretty Darn Close."

++Nate Silver of ESPN fame says the GOP edge has shrunk. He puts the odds for the GOP at 55% and admits it is really a toss-up about the Senate.

Election Lab

++The Washington Post's Election Lab to monitor the mid-terms now had the Democrats at 51% chance of retaining the Senate. Two months ago,the GOP had a 80% chance. To cover their behinds,they cite Charlie Cook and Stu Rotheberg saying the GOP's chances have increased, not decreased.

++Two days ago, Jay Carney said that the GOP's wins in the Senate would be crushing.

PPP Kansas Poll

++Times' Upshot has the Senate down to 51% for top versus 49% Democrats. San Wang hangs tough.

++PPP--Greg Orman has a 41%-34% lead over Senator Roberts. 6% still want to vote for Chad Roberts, the Democrat who withdrew.

++This morning Andrew Sullivan takes some heat for his criticism of Barack Obama's campaign on ISIS. Check out his long posts on the Middle East issue yesterday where the various reporters eviscerate the U.S. plans against the group.

Monday, September 15, 2014

PPP-Maine Governor Race

++Independent Senator Angus King endorsed third party candidate Eliot Cutler in Maine's race for governor saying he would be the best governor of the bunch.

++This is infuriating Democrats because a one-to-one race would defeat Teabag Governor Paul LePage.

++PPP shows Mike Michaud at 43% to Paul LePage at 42%. Cutler is still shrinking at 11%. The majority of Cutler's voters would vote for Michaud.

The Odd Election

++Presidential approval ratings are said to be normative in predicting mid-term elections. But we have entered the zone of disapproval ratings. 72% of Americans disapprove of Republicans in Congress, according to a Washington Post poll. 54% of Americans disapprove of President Obama and 61% disapprove of congressional Democrats.

++Sam Wang this morning confirms his prediction of a 50-50 Senate with basically the same fundamentals as last week. He notes that other outfits are drifting into his direction because polls are now determining their predictions. On the House side, Wang predicts the GOP will gain from 3-9 seats.

++As we move toward the elections,remember we will probably not know who is in control of the Senate until January. On the night of the election itself, we have a very late call on Alaska. Louisiana is looking like a run-off and Georgia may be too. If Georgia heads to a run-off, we are looking at January for the final judgment on who controls the Senate.

++The DailyKos Poll Explorer is claiming that Kansas didn't change their raising the Democrats odds on holding the Senate. Rather Kay Hagan,Mary Landrieu and Braley in Iowa are showing resilience with the latest polls. Begich in Alaska is now back at over 50% odds of keeping his seat. The one candidate that seems fading is Pryor in Arkansas.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Illinois Governor's Race

++Chicago Tribune poll. Democratic Pat Quinn 48,Bruce Rauner 37,libertarian Chad Quinn 5% and 8 percent undecided. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Florida Governor's Race

++ Rasmussen has a new poll out. Charlie Crist leads Rick Scott 42 to 40. 8% are for someone else.

++ For me the most astonishing number is that both candidates have unfavorable ratings at 51% for Scott and 50% for Crist. In the not-to-distant past,35% unfavorable meant you were at risk and 40% meant you were a dead duck. 

++This is like everyone squawking about President Obama's rating at 43-44% approval rating. No one is talking about the GOP's 33% approval rating or Congress' 13% approval rating. The old bromide that the President's approval rating affects mid-terms might have to be examined when everyone else's is so bad. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Georgia On My Mind

++Landmark polling on Georgia's senatorial and governor's races:
     Michelle Nunn 46 David Perdue 43
     Jason Carter 47   Nathan Deal 44.

++AJC poll:
     Nathan Deal 43   Jason Carter 42.
     David Perdue 45  Michelle Nunn 44

Sam Wang Is Still Not Impressed

++With the drumbeat of dire predictions and companies and banking threatening to leave Scotland if the people voted for independence, not even with Prime Minister Cameron flying to Scotland to say that they leaving the UK would break his heart, even with the Queen weighing in, Sam Wang is still not impressed.

++Scotland will not leave the UK,according to Sam Wang,because there is a 95% probability that the referendum will fail. The No vote will win by 4% plus or minus 1.3%. He says the 8% undecided do not cut one way"yes" or "no" and that there is no well of yes votes waiting to be had. 

++His stance reminds me of the delightful moment during one of the debates in 2012 where he admitted he didn't watch and it didn't matter. The great surging Romney support was a whopping 1%. He was right. It didn't matter. So enjoy all the ink how Scottish Independence would be the worst decision since the Great Depression--an actual story tonight.

The Dish at the End of the Day

++Be sure to check out the Daily Dish on the various reactions to our new war in the Middle East. Andrew Sullivan has posted a new spot of all the things that need to happen to make the strategy work, all of which are beyond our control. This makes more sense about my critique that the strategy has too many moving parts. He cites Z. Beauchamp's analysis of the sequence of things that must go right and most are political.

The GOP's 1st 100 Days

++The Hill published today that GOP's plan for the 1st 100 days if they win the Senate.

++They will pass the authorization for the Keystone XL Oil pipeline.

++They will approve "fast-track" approval of the trade authority for the President to OK the trade pacts he has been negotiating with the Pacific and the European Union.

++They will wipe out environmental regulations and roll back any restrictions on coal-burning plants.

++They will repeal the Medical device tax, which for some reason they have been fixated on.

++They will restore "reconciliation" of the budget--something they used under Bush but opposed under Obama.
++They will vote to repeal Obamacare.

++They will try to raise the age of Social Security and limit expenditures in Medicare.

++They claim they will move to tax reform.

Already they have gamed out the number of Democrats who would support each of their proposals to ensure they pass. 

It actually sounds awful but they claim this would be good for the economy. 

Back to ISIS

++Yesterday we left everyone just as Andrew Sullivan fell in despair over the President declaring war against ISIS. Today, the president's advisers debated whether it was in fact war and eventually it was agreed that it was. Andrew is trying to avoid hysteria today but he rightly notes that we have Americanized a war which should properly fought by those most threatened--namely neighboring Arab states--and he fears we are just going down another sinkhole. He urges all readers of The Dish to call their congress critters and urge them to vote no on any military appropriations for this adventure.

++The Israeli defense and intelligence officials were in town for the periodic strategic talks but were most concerned that Iran might win brownie points for fighting ISIS and the Obama Administration would weaken the sanctions on Iran for their nuclear program. 

++The "moderate" Syrian "rebels" have formed a non-aggression pact with ISIS around Damascus. Others have joined ISIS because they pay OK and provide housing and food.

++John Kerry got the Arab League, including Egypt,Saudi Arabia and Lebanon to sign the Jeddah Statement vowing cooperation with the international efforts against ISIS.

++Booman at Booman Tribune writes that he spoke for an hour and a half with Obama officials before the President's speech and came away satisfied that they were intelligent and understood the pitfalls in this plan. They said that it took a while for the Obama Administration to successfully conclude a regime change in Iraq and until then the administration did not want to seem to be the Shiite air force.However, he did note that the Syrian angle in this plan is weak because we don't have a viable partner to push back against ISIS and no plans for the endgame.

++Brookings put out all the tweets of their scholars on this strategy and all of them zeroed in on the problem in the Syrian dimension. Ken Pollack from the Iraq War days came up with a long and tortured plan about how to build a new conventional Syrian Army.

++Syria,Russia and Iran protested Obama's speech because it may violate international law but mostly because they were not included. 

++Rachel Maddow showed the interview with the deputy Syrian foreign minister, where he implied sort of that they might shoot down American planes. What has been going on behind the scenes is that the Administration has been quietly informing the Syrians of their plans. Review the Maddow segment. It isn't quite clear that the Syrian minister really suggested that or put out a quiet reminder that they want to be told of any flights.

++The House withdrew at President Obama's request the temporary Government funding bill so that it could include the $500 million for the Syrian opposition and the on-going Iraq mission. The GOP is divided because they would like a separate vote on the funding. 

++Congress itself will not vote on any up and down resolution until October at the earliest. Most do not want to consider it until next year.

++Chris Dickey has become hawkish in his old age. He chastised the United States for not having the imagination to fight Islamic terrorism and urged Americans to get into their heads. He pointed out that the whole bureaucracy of Homeland Security equals all of ISIS and that we spent trillions post 9-11 to combat people who spent $500 to crash into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Dickey's point is a good one--our gigantism creates reactions that are not proportional to the real threat. He also cautioned those who say ISIS poses no threat to the United States because our bureaucrats said the same thing before 9-11 about Al Qaeda.

++The CIA ramped up its estimate about how many ISIS members there were. At about 35,000, some analysts are saying they are greater than many armies. But just as a parallel, the Salvadoran guerrillas at their height had about the same amount of people.

++David Ignatius in the Washington Post said that Obama as "the reluctant warrior" will generate a coalition that will work with the United States because it does not look like an American crusade. John Stewart did a brilliant spot that in fact the coalition right now looks alike like Christians going after Muslims. 

++General Petraeus weighed in that he approved of the President's strategy.

++Reading about 50 articles analyzing the strategy, what strikes me is that it is too "intellectual". The timeframe given means that someone other than Obama will have to finish out the job. It reminds me of the complexity of the Affordable Care Act and why people still prefer single payer. The plan has too many moving parts and questionable assumptions. 

++The Main thrust of the strategy is based on an analysis of why the Arab Spring failed and how deep the religious and ethnic animosities are in the Middle East. If you have an enemy who is absolutely loathsome like ISIS, which is hated by everyone in the region, the hope is that you can at least get tactical alliances which will overcome the Sunni-Shiite divide and eventually establish a stable, more pluralistic Middle East. 

++Andrew Sullivan has pointed out that so-called coalition partners like Turkey and Saudi Arabia have really not stepped up to the plate. Others have ridiculed the notion of a coalition by pointing out that the UK and Germany have refused to fly missions in Syria. But all of the partners have agreed to parts of the overall strategy. Australia, Britain, Germany have participated in the humanitarian missions in Iraq. France has agreed to fly missions, even into Syria. When compared to the coalition of the willing in the second Iraq war, you now have France,Germany and even Turkey who did not participate then.

++Eventually the Obama Administration has to come clean on what they want Russia, Syria and Iran's role to be in the effort. Quietly,they have asked China to participate. After all China is now the largest consumer of Saudi oil. But what about Russia? ISIS has threatened terrorism in Russia. ISIS has drawn Chechen recruits. Would Russia agree to dump Assad with a guarantee about Tartus to enter the game? 

++Currently, our "real" boots on the ground are the Iranian forces in Iraq led by General Sulieman. We are already coordinating airstrikes with the Iranian forces on the ground and with Iranian airstrikes.

++But move into Syria,Iran keeps Assad afloat with the Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah. I have heard that cooperation with Iran is a "red-line" and that the United States must dismantle the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq if we are to succeed. But this is impractical and we saw with a full force in Iraq we could't do it.

++Other analysts say that there is an opening to defeat ISIS. Their military prowess in Iraq is the result of former Iraqi military officers from Saddam's regime. They formed a tactical alliance with ISIS because they want to get back into influence in Iraq. But they are Baathists and secular. These are the people Paul Bremmer removed when he disbanded the Iraqi military. The problem is that Sunnis in Iraq feel more comfortable with these forces around than those of the Shiite dominated government.

++I sometimes feel as gloomy about the situation as Andrew Sullivan. We have a President who is enamored with the Special Forces as JFK was. And we know where that got us with his successor in Vietnam.

++I think it will be very hard for President Obama to keep selling this strategy. While he made his case,he has to make his case over and over again to an increasingly skeptical public and Congress. While Republicans are using this as a "Gotcha" and a revival of everyone who got us into Iraq in the first place, ultimately they don't have the stomach for a long war in the Middle East. 

Polls Galore

++Sam Wang has the Senate back to 50-50 this morning but the probabilities the same and the meta-margin is still D 1.0. Sam says to watch the meta-margin for a sense of where the Democrats are.

++Meanwhile, real polling season has hit. We are seeing some of the stranger characters from the 2012 elections commence their polling and some of the regulars.

++North Carolina Senate: Civitas. Hagan 46--Tillis 43.
++Colorado Senate: Survey USA. Udall 46 to Gardner 42. 
++Michigan Senate: Suffolk. Peters 46 to Land 37.
                Glenngariff Group: Peters 47 to Land 37
                                PPP:      Peters  43 to Land 36.

++New Hampshire Senate: 
                Global Strategy: Shaheen 48 Brown 41.
++Georgia Senate:
                Survey USA: David Perdue 47 M. Nunn 44.
++Virginia Senate:
            Christopher Newport: Warner 53 Gillespie 31
++Kentucky Senate:
   This poll is important because the Mellman Group polled the Harry Reid race and got it right when others didn't.
                     Alison Lindren Grimes 43 McConnell 42.

Rob Portman, the Ohio Senator who heads the Republican Committee, told reporters that a Republican-controlled Senate would repeal Obamacare.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Illinois Governor's Race

++Yes, I know it's Sullivan, not Sullvan.

++ In the bizarro world of Illinois politics, the Global Strategy Group on behalf of the Democratic Governor's Association,polled the race for Governor. It has been widely assumed that Businessman Bruce Rauner would win handily. But he has been bogged down by revelations he has parked funds in the Cayman Islands and is a member of a wine club, which costs him the equivalent of two middle-class salaries. 

++So for the first time,Pat Quinn takes a lead. He is now at 43 to 40 over Rauner.

David Frum, Josh Marshall and Andrew Sullvan

++David Frum who gave us the axis of evil opines that Obama's speech was poor and Obama can not answer what ISIS has to do with threatening the United States. As opposed, I guess, to Bush claiming Hussein did. But Frum has a point, which goes to a larger one, in the 21st Century when the Middle East is no longer necessary for our energy sources,what is the national interest? Frum claims that Obama didn't mention the other nasty folks--the Iranian regime, Assad and Hezbollah. Which raises another question? What is our national interest, other than sentimentality, of protecting Israel?

++Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo wrote an interesting column today on the real 9/11. Many Americans, including myself, thought 9/11 ushered in an age of terrorism. But it did not. Josh writes that in retrospect it looks like 9/11 was an anomaly. He raises the thought experiment about what if we just mourned and had the funerals and did nothing. Yes, we interrupted a few plots like the underwear bomber but did the fight against terror have to costs trillions of dollars,an invasion of two countries, and substantial loss of our civil liberties? Josh looks around at the terrorist manques and doesn't find many heavyweight contenders. As one leftwing blogger cheekily wrote, "More Americans are killed by toddlers than terrorists."Even at once in ten years, you would have to say terrorism is an anomaly.

++I share much of Andrew Sullivan's concern about Obama losing his narrative. But his response to ISIS is not Bush-lite. I have serious reservations about his strategy. Markos Malitkos at the Daily Kos complains why do we have to fight somebody else's wars? For instance, where are the great armies of the Middle East on this issue? David Frum is right that the Iranians are really our foot soldiers now. And President Obama's incremental increase of our soldiers to Iraq to over 1,500 is inching to the number he wanted as the residual force in Iraq anyway. I agree with Andrew that a residual force in Iraq would not have made much difference. I was there and outside of the Green Zone, it was still a carnal house. 

++Mossad influence Debkra said that there would be coordinated 9/11s all over the world today and that they were saving the United States for a few months. The New York Times printed a story of how the media and the pundits have exaggerated the threat of ISIS to the United States. Remember after 9/11, the Bush Administration said there were 1,000s of Al Qaeda cells all over the country? Our Homeland Security says today there are "Zero","Zilch" ISIS cells in the United States. In fact, military analysts have done thorough analyses of ISIS military capability and found them severely lacking. 

++Before we succumb to the war psychosis,we should release the chapter of the 9/11 Report on Saudi Arabia and the whole torture report on what we did post 9/11. Whatever myths exist that torture de-railed domestic terrorist plots have to be exposed. Reporter after reporter has debunked this myth. It took simple detective work without torture and rendition to solve the terrorist plots.

++Andrew Sullivan has hoped that President Obama could have escaped the world of the neo-cons. But knowledgeable students of the Terrorist Industrial Complex from Dana Priest to Rachel Maddow to Bacevich have all warned how extensive this combine is and how it is so woven into our economy and policy-making. It would take something even more than the collapse of the global economy to change the dominance the MIC in the old language has over the society and our politicians. 

++The terrorist "scare" goes back to Woodrow Wilson's time with the original "Red Scare", which crushed the labor movement, socialist entities and anyone who even remotely had a radical idea. The terrorist scare is an instrument to enforce conformity.The wish to break out of that surfaces from time to time like with the Occupy Movement but it is crushed by the State. To believe that President Obama faced with ceaseless opposition by our most entrenched interests could move this rock is to be naive. 

++It seems to me that citizens should start asking some basic questions? What are our real national interests in the Middle East? What is the real threat of terrorism and how much is it costing us? Who is paying for these operations? And how long are these operations supposed to last? Andrew's point about seeking some legality to our actions is a good one. European allies are starting to back away from air strikes in Syria because there are serious issues about international law. 

He's No Ronald Reagan

++That's Scott Walker in Mary Burke's new ad talking about Walker's tax hikes on working people and tax cuts for the rich. 

++Gov. Walker has other problems. The John Doe investigations now center on his role in coordinating illegal campaign contributions. But that's not all. It seems his budget deficit has ballooned since the passage of the Budget Repair Act, which he used to bust unions. Walker has owned up to his failure at job creation. He's been a big dud.

++The Republican Governors' Association is going after Mary Burke as being part of the 1%. That's rich. Walker has probably the closest relationship with the Koch Brothers.

++A WeAskAmerica poll, which is a creation of the Republican-leaning Illinois Manufacturer's Association, has Mary Burke leading Walker 48 to 44.


++PPP has Charlie Crist at 42 over Scott's 39. Libertarian Andrew Wyllie is at 8.

++Quinnipiac has Tom Wolf at 59 over Tom Corbett's 35 in Pennsylvania. 

++Rasmussen on the North Carolina Senate race. Among Likely voters Kay Hagan at 45--Tom Tillis 39 and other 6%.

++South Dakota Senate Race. Survey USA poll. Rounds 39, Rick Weiland 28, Larry Pressley 25 and conservative independent Gordon Howe 3.

++Georgia poll. Jason Carter 45-44 Deal.
Georgia Senate: Perdue 47 to Nunn 44.

Sam Wang Still Not Impressed

++Sam Wang still keeps his prediction of Democrats+Independents at 51 and Republicans at 49. Today's probability is 85% for Dems, election day 70%. The Meta-margin is D 1.0.

++Two days ago Nate Silver, who gives the GOP a 65% chance of taking the Senate,tweeted he wanted to bet Sam a bundle. Sam wasn't taking,chiding Nate as the Celebrity Nerd. 

++The DailyKos Poll Explorer has the Dem chances now of taking the Senate at 45%. They point to Kansas as throwing their predictions out of whack.

Andrew Sullivan Depressed

++"A Pragmatism Too Far" by Andrew Sullivan reacts to President Obama's speech with despair that he basically through the narrative of his presidency out the window. Andrew felt that President Obama gave the United States the last chance at abandoning the Bush-Cheney foreign policy where we reacted to every Islamic lunatic and that now with last night's speech President Obama is now playing on Dick Cheney's turf.

++Andrew understands President Obama's urge to act, particularly with the war panic of the Beltway punditry and the drumbeats for war by the media. Andrew thought President Obama had courage to resist this and is crushingly disappointed he couldn't .

++Andrew thought of the Obama presidency as a return to normalcy. We would abandon our fixation on terrorism,obtain national health insurance,and do nation-building at home, and setting the country's fiscal house in order for a recovery based on steady growth. Andrew never had any illusions that President Obama was any kind of liberal. Just a sane man in an insane political world.

++Andrew also urges his readers to start insisting that the Senate force President Obama to get legal authority if the war lasts past mid-October. Even if the effort fails, at least it would get the Congresscritters on record whether they support an unintended war or not.

++Andrew Sullivan has had many shows of hysteria over the Obama presidency but has been a steady supporter. 

++Do yourself a favor and read Andrew's piece and subscribe to The Dish. He still provides some of the most thoughtful reflections on a day-to-day basis compared to our Beltway Pundits.

Happy #Benghazi! Day

++Since high-school graduates won't remember much of the real 9-11,they can always remember Benghazi and the House next week will start their star chamber on that tragedy after countless review boards,Senate and House committee hearings. One of the Republican members of this non partial hearing says "the enemy is at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

++Meanwhile the President gave his nationally televised ISIS talk. It was very short and succinct. What bothers some people is that the President cast the ISIS problem as part of his counter-terrorism strategy and not as a declaration of war. I thought the speech dealt with the issue as best it could. 

++There are a few problems with President Obama's strategy. l. Yes, it would be good of the Iraqi government were inclusive and gave confidence to its ethnic and religious minorities, particularly to the Sunni population, which has been having its own Arab Spring for the past three years only to face enormous our repression. If we couldn't engineer such a government after all these years,there is no reason to believe we can now. What one USAID official told me when I was in Iraq was that "we created one of the most corrupt governments in the Middle East." It is unlikely to change anytime soon.
2. The unicorn of the moderate Syrians will be given priority even though evidence has shown that they sold their arms which we gave to them to Al Qaeda.
3. At some point, President Obama is going to have to admit that we are coordinating our actions on the ground with Iran and the Iran-backed militias in Iraq.
4. Going for a twofer--destroying ISIS and toppling the Assad regime--will be difficult to pull off.

++Yes, there really is a broad coalition against ISIS. But what they will do remains to be seen. Unlike W's Iraq War, we have the cooperation of France,Germany and Turkey. The Arab League unanimously supports the policy. The Saudis have agreed to allow the US to train the Syrian "moderates". Britain will not fly airstrikes in Syria. Turkey,once again, will not allow its territory to be used to launch airstrikes. 

++President Obama cited the examples of Yemen and Somalia as successes of his counter-terrorism policies. In terms of body count, he is right but not in terms of any political stability. The two examples should dramatize how President Obama thinks about the actions he has and will take. His administration has been concerned about two basic things: non-proliferation of nuclear arms; and terrorism. 

++Jonah Goldberg has a piece in the Atlantic which showcases that President Obama is the greatest terrorist hunter in our history and that one of his greatest achievements in the Middle East was the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles, which have been destroyed. Goldberg points out what amazing problems we would face if that had not been achieved.

++On the domestic front, President Obama faces the issue of whether he has to seek approval for his actions from Congress. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell as well as many Democrats have insisted he must. Harold Koh, the former counsel for the State Department, has argued he must secure permission from the UN Security Council.

++Studiously absent from his speech was the word Israel. Others have pointed out that President Obama left out details from his strategy because he did not want to upset the discussions Secretary of State John Kerry was having with the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia.

++I expect that the Republicans will get their opposition into gear in the next week. 

++Neo-con Eliot Cohen writing in the Imperial Post asked the reader "Do you feel safer today than you did on 9-11?" My answer is absolutely yes because we have an alert, reasonable and practical Commander-in-Chief.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Really Incredible

++Just when I thought Congress might do decent things as they did with the Senate voting to forward the repeal of Citizens United, Ezra Klein at the Vox ruins the atmosphere by reminding us all that Congress only has four full legislative work-days scheduled in the next 9 weeks!  That's 4 days in 9 weeks. Oh, Ezra says in his reasonable manner, they can always schedule more. Sure. Do you know what fat chance means?

++This Congress is on record and I am sure they will make it--to become the least productive Congress in the history of the United States. 

++So I want to know why the traffic reporters blame the traffic on Congress being back in Session. They aren't there. 

++They still have to pass a temporary funding bill or else the government shuts down. The conservatives in the House want to wage battle on the Export-Import Bank, which has been around since 1934 and doesn't cost anything.

++Do you think they'll vote on anything President Obama proposes on ISIS and war in the Middle East?

++This has gotten ridiculous. Why do we listen to these guys on all the talk shows and Sunday News Shows when they are simply AWOL? Why doesn't Sweeney Todd ask one of his guests--"Why should anyone listen to you since you are never doing your job?"

++Think about the political campaigns? Is there a single thing being debated that really could be done? 
If you think the American citizen has no say in issues of war and peace,then it's even worse that the elected representatives don't even try.

++Do yourselves a favor. Turn off the TV. Don't listen to a single political ad. But vote. Vote for someone you think actually cares about the common good if you can find that candidate.

Amazing! Unbelievable!

++ I thought it was just a procedural vote to allow the measure to be voted on. Apparently, the Senate really did vote to advance a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. The vote was a stunning 79 to 18.

++The idea has been supported by Bernie Sanders for months and the Vermont Legislature passed a similar measure but I thought it was a nice idea, which didn't have a chance.

++Of course,the prospect of a constitutional amendment actually being approved by 2/3rds of the states is slim. But the power of the idea has shown its popularity. 

++For the disbelievers and cynics such as myself, I applaud the vote, which makes one less despairing of our Congresscritters.

Obamacare the GOP Nightmare

++TPM today has a good piece about how the ACA has turned out to be the Republican nightmare. Instead of the death spiral of dwindling enrollment and the premium spikes, the tale of the tape shows 8 million enrolled in the exchanges,7 million benefit from the Medicaid expansion, and another five million enrolled in insurance outside of exchanges and benefited from the no-precondition regulation. 20 million people in the first operating year. Not Bad.

++Meanwhile at DailyKos, Brainwrap aka Charles Gaba has been spiking the football as he should about everything from premium declines,additional Medicaid expansion states and the high numbers on the exchanges. All along Gaba has been right on the money. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Obama Postpones Immigration Action

++President Obama announced to day or, at least the White House did, that he would postpone actions on immigration until after the mid-term elections. The White House says that President Obama still insists that he has the legal authority to change immigration priorities by executive order.

++A disappointment for those urging some movement in that area. Politically,Harry Reid and the incumbent Democrats urged the President not to move until after the elections because they feared it would negatively impact elections in Red States. 

++Frankly,I think this is lame. The President said he would do it after Labor Day because of the obstructionism of the Republicans. Today, the White House claims that he now wants to do it in a sustainable way. It seems he is listening to John Boehner who promised that immigration reform would be done this year after the elections. I doubt it because the GOP is not going to pay a price at the poll for either their anti-immigrant stance or their obstructionism in general.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Jobs Report

++The Jobs Report was the most disappointing in 8 months snapping the streak of 200,000+ months. The markets had anticipated a 230,000 number. Instead, the job market added 142,000 and unemployment dropped to 6.1%. Not good news.

Sleeper Senate Race?

++The conventional wisdom and the leadership in both parties view South Dakota as going to the GOP this year as Democrat Tim Johnson is retiring. 

++As readers of this blog might remember, I like Rick Weiland because of his campaign style, visiting every populated area of his state. An underdog from the start against well-financed and more well-known GOP candidate Mike Rounds,PPP says don't rule him out just yet.

++According to PPP, Rounds leads 39-33 and 17% for independent former Senator Larry Pressler and 4% for Gordie Howe, not the Hockey Player.

++Rounds led in April by 10, which dropped to 8 in early August and went down to 6 in late August. 

++The more voters get to know Weiland they like him. He has a 48% favorable to 27% unfavorable rating. While his competitor is at 44% favorable,47% unfavorable rating. 

++The most surprising element is that given another choice,supporters of Pressler go 48 to 29 for Weiland.
If past history is any guide, the third party vote should diminish the closer we move to election day. 

++PPP pulled Pressler out of the mix and found that Rounds led Weiland by only 45 to 42. 

++It would be nice to see this race tighten.

++Note: Sam Wang dropped yesterday's odds 5% on the ambiguity of the Kansas situation. So Democrats still have a 60% chance of retaining the Senate.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

More Judgments

++Richard Posner, the Reagan appointed judge, wrote the decision as the 7th Circuit Court rules that the same sex marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana are unconstitutional. Posner's opinion is withering on the advocates of same sex marriage bans and the argument on "preserving tradition."

++A Judge overruled the Attorney General of Ohio and enforced the extended voting time that the Republicans had wanted to cut, which would have encouraged voter suppression in the African-American communities.

++The Jury found that Gov.McDonnell of Virginia was guilty of all counts on the corruption charges.

++Chad Taylor to be kept on the ballot in Kansas. National GOP has taken over Roberts campaign.

Here Come The Judges

++The D.C. Court of Appeals vacated the Halbig decision which banned subsidies for health insurance plans bought on the federal exchange. The original decision was 2 to 1 by a three-judge panel, consisting of two Republicans and 1 Democrat. Today,they decided to review the case with a full court, which is heavily Democratic. Conservatives are trying to short-circuit this by trying to appeal directly to the Supreme Court. With this decision,that way is short-circuited.

++Yesterday, a Louisiana judge became the first federal judge to uphold that state's same-sex marriage ban. The decision will go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

++The Department of Justice is going to investigate not just the shooting of Michael Brown but the entire police department of Ferguson, Missouri.

Kansas Changes Daily Kos Poll Explorer

++ At Daily Kos, the Democrats' odd of retaining the Senate were stuck at 45%, inching up to 46% on Wednesday, but with the news out of Kansas it hit 55% retaining the Senate. See the site for the explanation and how the percent jumps.

Sam Wang Says Kansas Game Change

++The Washington Post tried to explain why the GOP's probability for taking the Senate dropped to 55%. Their explanation was that probabilities increased slightly for candidates like Michelle Nunn, which lowered the GOP odds but not by much.

++Now Sam Wang enters with his new assessment that the Democrats will retain control of the Senate with 51 seats to the GOP's 49. Today's snapshot has the Dems at 90% and their election day probability as 85%. 

++The change, according to Wang, is the weird situation that developed yesterday when Democrat Chad Taylor dropped out of the race for Senate in Kansas and threw his support to independent Greg Orman, who has been both a Democrat and a Republican. In a two-way race, Orman has a ten point lead over Roberts and has been a big fund-raiser as well as a wealthy man himself. Wang puts Orman as a 85% favor over Roberts, who beat a tea bagger in a contentious election. 

++This scenario had been suggested by Martin Longman at Washington Monthly this past week. Chad Taylor had actually been closing in on Roberts but Orman's continued strength made the move logical.

++In other news,a CNN/ORC poll, conducted before Mitch McConnell's manager had to resign because he had received funds from Ron Paul to switch his vote in the Iowa Caucus from Michelle Bachman, has McConnell at 50% and Alison Grimes at 46%. 5% said they were undecided. So Mitch has solidified his race but may experience some slippage if the scandal affects him.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bizarre Political News

++A WRBL poll conducted by a Republican strategist has Michelle Nunn leading David Perdue by 45 to 43. This is the second straight Republican-oriented poll which shows Michelle Nunn in the lead.

++I couldn't understand all the fund-raising pleas by the Democrats for the House. Conventional wisdom has the GOP holding the House and Politico reports that the GOP is dismayed that they will not win 11 seats this year but more like 3 to six. 

++But PPP and MoveOn.org polled and found that 29 Republicans out of 36 districts polled are endangered.

++So far the wave has not materialized for the GOP but we will see further into the month.

Huffington Post Senate Odds

++Huffington Post's polling unit puts the odds of the Republicans winning the Senate at 48%. 

Monday, September 1, 2014


++BorntoRunNumbers starts off the final leg to the elections with a Senate prediction. Democrats hold Senate 51 to 49. Check out the website and notice all the toss-ups so far. BTRN says it may come down to Louisiana and that the Senate will not be decided until December because of Louisiana strange runoff system.

++So far, over $1 billion dollars has been spent on elections so far this year. 

++If you have a television, which I don't, make sure you turn it off and enjoy yourself. If you are not registered to vote, do so. And if you are,vote.

Let Us Praise American Activists

++"The arc of the physical universe is short and bends toward heat." Bill McKibben

++Bill McKibben finished his stint as guest editor at Andrew Sullivan's The Dish by leaving his family recipe for granola for the readers. He had extravagant praise for the staff and left an appreciation of the work he takes to generate copy at time limits spaced throughout the day.

++One of the things I didn't know or have long forgotten was that McKibben wrote for the New Yorkers' Talk of the Town section. He also helped create the homeless shelter at the Riverside Church in Manhattan.

++Do yourself a favor and watch McKibben's sermon at Riverside Church entitled "God's Taunt"at the church's website or the Daily Kos, where he urges the congregation to continue to mobilize for climate change awareness.

++McKibben points out the difference between this movement and the civil rights movement. Bayard Rustin made the remarkable claim that the thing he remembered about Freedom Summer was that it was fun. Police dogs and fire hoses and beatings? Fun? Yes,Bayard said,"The cause was just and we knew we were going to win." The difference McKibben says about the climate change movement that there is no guarantee it will win but at least people are called to "witness."

++In his sermon, McKibben starts with Job as the first serious writing on nature and points to a cranky Old Testament God asserting his mastery over the earth and dictating when the waves should stop. McKibben says we have gotten to the point where humanity's actions are challenging that position because we have caused the seas to rise and the polar caps to melt and drought to plague the land.

++McKibben makes the case that climate change is the justice issue of our time and not the province of white rich liberals. He points to his five-year old 350.org, which has organized thousands of demonstrations around the world and that it is predominantly poor,black, brown, and young like today's global demographic. We can absorb the slight increase in Cornflakes caused by drought but the peasant who depends on cornmeal and tacos in the developing world can not.

++After writing on climate change for 25 years and being jailed countless times for his activism,McKibben has helped organized the People's Climate March in New York City on September 21. 

++In his piece at The Daily Dish,McKibben answers the questions readers had about such an endeavor. Yes, they will be using fossil fuels to get there. Yes,it would be better if there was a carbon tax. Yes, it would be better still to move to alternative fuels. He points to the uphill struggle against companies who have made more money than any companies in the history of the world.

++Against all odds,McKibben has been the mover on the divestment movement by colleges,universities and cities to dump fossil fuel stocks. Encouraged by Desmond Tutu, one of his advisers,this movement will not dent the profit margins of the oil and coal industry but is aimed to make a statement that it is not moral to turn the sky into a sewer.

++Bill McKibben is an exemplar of those who create activist organizations and carry on a grand American tradition. Long may he carry on.