Sunday, November 2, 2008

"Father's Day": Tom Perriello for 5th District of Virginia, U.S. Congress

Listen to Vito Perriello's endorsement of his son: Priceless. Sphere: Related Content

SATURDAY BEFORE ELECTION DAY: Canvassing in Cumberland

Gold and orange trees with the streams of noonday sun marked the path as we moved into Cumberland County, Virginia: We had exited Interstate 64, swung South along Route 15, then east along the Rivanna River and south again into the small rural southern County of Cumberland, tucked between Prince Edward and Farmville to the South, now-largely suburban Goochland and Powhatan to the North and East, and Charlottesville-oriented Fluvanna to the West.

A lifelong Virginian, I'd seldom gone through Dixie or Columbia, Va., and I had never set foot in Cumberland Court House. Now friend Kate and I were searching for 40 or so undecided voters to urge them to vote for Obama, Warner and especially Tom Perriello for Congress, who as we found out, was probably the least well known.

At the first house, where someone was home, we met Bonnie, a 60-year-old white woman in front of her TV. Legally blind, she had already voted already as absentee.

"May we ask who you voted for?" I inquired.

"Obama" replied Bonnie. Then, her 82-year-old mother entered the room, eyes sparkling as she nodded that she too had voted for Obama.

Bonnie told us that Obama was the more thoughtful of the candidates, that McCain was just like Bush. "When he talks, his voice even sounds like Bush. I can't tell 'em apart," she said. Obama, she thought, was calmer, more presidential. She thinks he's the right one.

Bonnie had lived her entire life in this house in Cumberland.

A little later, I walked a flyer up to a house that I thought was empty. But Joe came outside. A 64-year old retired cop from Virginia Beach, he said he (and his wife) are among the one out of 7 who are undecided. "I'll decide on Monday," he said. He likes Obama but is worried about having a unified Congress and President. He does not like Nancy Pelosi so I steered the conversation back to how Obama would be good for the county, could unify and direct Congress, working across the aisle.

"He can help us with the economy," I argued. "John McCain hasn't been interested in economic issues and has even said at times that economics is not his cup of tea."

Joe nodded, he was truly undecided and he wanted to talk -- I didn't try to disabuse him of his prejudices about Pelosi. He was mad at Mark Warner because he raised taxes but seemed supportive of him as senator. He did say that he and his wife would be voting for Tom Perriello.

"Virgil Goode has been there too long," he said.

When I returned to the car, Kate said she was sorry she wasn't there with me. "I think I'm being a political therapist," I said. "People want to talk. They want someone to listen to their concerns."

Later, we wended our way along a path back to a small farm where we met the mother of a home-schooled child who told us she was voting for Obama but didn't know much about the others. We looked at her pet mule and the goats she no longer milks because her daughter is a vegan. Leaving the farm, we stopped at a whimsical wooden staircase rising up to a platform among the trees.

In a small enclave of houses in the country, we met a young African American male, who was just chilling in his yard. He couldn't vote, he said. While we didn't ask, we assumed he had a conviction. Too late to get him re-enfranchised and registered this time.

Nearby lived his aunt, a 92-year-old African-American woman. She is voting for Obama. "I loved Kennedy," she said. "I loved that man." She was unclear about the other candidates so we reminded her about Governor Mark Warner. Kate told her that Tom Perriello was cut from the same cloth, that Perriello and Warner and Obama represent a new generation of leaders. Tell your friends, we said, as we left our Perriello flyer.

As Kate drove us back toward Charlottesville, I leaned out the window taking photographs of the colors that flew past us in the diminishing light. This has been the most beautiful Fall ever.

Yes, and if we win on Tuesday, it will be even more beautiful than I could have imagined. Sphere: Related Content


Sphere: Related Content

Friday, October 31, 2008

Remembering Lady Bird Johnson: Liz Carpenter: A Hillary supporter's case for voting for Obama

In 1960, Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson took a whistle stop train tour on behalf of Kennedy-Johnson ticket through a number of small towns, including my family's hometown of Culpeper, Virginia. I have always remembered Lyndon Johnson's words as he left Culpeper in the dust -- "What has Richard Nixon ever done for Culpeper?" It amused Culpeper citizens and my family at the time and it still makes me chuckle today. I thought of that campaign fondly as I read Liz Carpenter's piece about a later campaign by the Johnsons. I hope you enjoy it. . . . Womanpolitico -- Kay Slaughter

06:11 PM CDT on Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Liz Carpenter was press secretary to Lady Bird Johnson from 1963 to 1969 and is a best-selling author. Jim Comer is a speaker and the author of "When Roles Reverse: A Guide to Parenting Your Parents."

Forty-four years ago this month, I boarded a train at Washington's Union Station with Lady Bird Johnson for a 1,682-mile whistle stop campaign. We stopped 47 times, in towns large and small. Along the way, Lady Bird faced down hecklers, spoke to hundreds of thousands of voters and made history. Just three months earlier, President Johnson had signed the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, which ended discrimination in public accommodations. For the first time, African-Americans had full access to restaurants, hotels, theaters and public transportation. Many Southerners were furious with the president.

But we couldn't write off the South in the election, and, with her blend of gentility and grit, Lady Bird was the perfect surrogate. As I planned her schedule, she told me, "Don't give me the easy towns, Liz. Let me take the tough ones."

While her charm came through, she did not mince words. In a Southern accent that she shared with her audiences, she said, "The hard duty of assuring equal constitutional rights to all Americans falls, not only on the president but on all who love this land. I am sure we will rise to that duty. We are a nation of laws, not men, and our greatness is our ability to adjust to the national consensus."

Those words were powerful but not popular. We faced hecklers at some stops, crude signs at others, and even death threats. Our roughest moments came in Charleston, S.C., where the hecklers would not stop, and neither would Lady Bird. Her courageous words got through, overwhelming the messengers of hate.

More than four decades have passed. I turned 88 a few days after the Democratic Party nominated an African-American as its candidate for president.

Much credit goes to President Johnson who persuaded senators to pass a tough civil rights bill after a hundred years of filibuster and delay. Barack Obama's nomination would not have been possible without presidential leadership and the work of thousands of unsung heroes, some who gave their lives to ensure "equal justice under the law."

Although I was an enthusiastic Hillary Clinton supporter in the primaries and feel she would make a great president, I believe her spirited contest with Mr. Obama strengthened each of them. For the last four months of the campaign, the two major candidates agreed on 90 percent of the issues.

While I look forward to the day we have a woman in the Oval Office, I'm happy to endorse Barack Obama. He is right on the issues, smart and unafraid to surround himself with people who challenge his views.

Hillary has made scores of speeches supporting Mr. Obama. If she can get over her loss, so can we. Any Democrat who considers supporting John McCain must count the cost of such a vote: Four more years of Bush policies, the continuation of the war in Iraq, expanded tax cuts for the rich, no progress in health care reform, right-wing Supreme Court justices and a vice president who is profoundly unprepared to be president. Sarah Palin is against everything the women's movement stands for: She may be female in gender, but she's a good old boy at heart.

As I cast my ballot, I'll be remembering 1964 and the Lady Bird Special slowly winding its way through the South. I'll hear the cheers and the hecklers. I'll recall the soft-spoken courage of Lady Bird, who went into her beloved South and campaigned for long-overdue change.

And I'll picture a 3-year-old named Barack Obama who grew up, believing that he, too, had a chance to become president.

Liz Carpenter was press secretary to Lady Bird Johnson from 1963 to 1969 and is a best-selling author. Jim Comer is a speaker and the author of "When Roles Reverse: A Guide to Parenting Your Parents
Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Goode Race Could Be Election Surprise
October 28, 2008
By John McArdle
Roll Call Staff

DANVILLE, Va. — When Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) finally took the stage to roaring applause from 500 supporters at the Danville Community Market on Friday, he picked up right where 5th district Congressional candidate Tom Perriello (D) left off, hammering Republicans for policies that led to the nation’s current economic crisis.
The rally in Danville was well-timed. This week, the city is set to demolish a condemned portion of the now-defunct Long Mill textile plant, which for decades was at the heart of the town’s textile industry and a major employer for Danville residents. The mill closed down in the mid-1990s, and plans to turn the site into a new shopping and residential center never materialized.

Perriello’s camp views the mill as a symbol of the economic decline that Southside Virginia has experienced under Rep. Virgil Goode (R) and an example of why new leadership, focused on reviving small businesses, is needed in the 5th district.

That message has caught fire. Now, Perriello — a 34-year old attorney who was a political unknown when he entered the race — could be the surprise of the commonwealth on election night.

If he wins, it will be a sign that the Democratic wave on Election Day has turned into a flood.

Polls taken just two months ago showed the six-term Congressman ahead by more than 30 points in this conservative south-central Virginia district. Perriello’s internal polling, taken in mid-October, showed him just 6 points behind.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sees an opportunity in the district. The committee has spent $325,000 in independent expenditures in recent weeks on the race, most of it going to fund TV ads. By comparison, Perriello’s entire media budget for the cycle is about $750,000.

As of last week, the DCCC began buying time in the Richmond media market, which covers about 15 percent of the district. It was an area that Perriello’s campaign had already deemed too expensive to play in on television, and the campaign had planned to cover the territory with mailings and field operations.

Perriello is also expected to benefit from a Democratic presidential campaign that has made Virginia a priority this cycle. That could be especially important because Sen. Barack Obama’s (Ill.) presence on the ticket is expected to boost voter turnout among the district’s 24 percent black population. Perriello’s latest polling numbers conservatively estimated that black voters would make up 18 percent of the electorate on Election Day, leaving plenty of room for growth.

“He’s young, he’s energetic, he can raise money and this is the right time,” Joyce Glaise, a former Danville City Council member, said as she headed into the Biden rally on Friday.

But another Democratic supporter noted as she was waiting in line that the 5th district “is very Republican, so it’s going to take a lot.”

The 5th district voted for President Bush by double-digit margins in 2000 and 2004, and Goode’s worst performance in six elections came in 2006 when he beat Democrat Al Weed by a very comfortable 19-point margin.

Goode does his own press and prides himself for being “hands-on” when it comes to constituent issues.

That trait — not to mention his pronounced southwestern Virginia drawl — has made it very hard for any Democrat to argue that Goode has “gone Washington” during his time on Capitol Hill.

But Goode’s hands-on approach in almost every aspect of his campaign has also been criticized by some Republicans, who say it isn’t a feasible way to run a modern campaign.

One Virginia Republican consultant argued Monday that Goode runs “a 19th-century campaign in the 21st century” and that it allowed an unknown candidate to establish himself and become credible in a contest that should have been a slam-dunk for Goode.

“At the end of the day, does Virgil lose? No. He’s too well-known. But at some point in time, this election ought to serve as a wake-up call” for how Goode runs his campaigns, the consultant said.

As the race has narrowed in recent weeks, Goode’s response has been to paint Perriello as a liberal lawyer whose political philosophy doesn’t fit with the conservative values of the district.

Perriello was raised in Albemarle County, which is home to the liberal bastion of Charlottesville, and he earned his law degree in Connecticut at Yale University. After school, he worked for a nonprofit organization in New York.

At the Biden campaign event on Friday, a Republican staging a one-man counter-rally called Perriello “a liberal carpetbagger.”

“He left here to go to New York to become a lawyer,” said Elmer Woodard, himself a lawyer in Danville. “If he was so concerned about us, why did he leave here in the first place?”

Goode said Perriello’s law school and New York connections are what gave him the ability to raise a staggering $1.5 million as of Oct. 15. Goode has raised $1.49 million this cycle. In 2006, Weed raised less than $600,000 when he challenged Goode.

“The New York money and the California money has allowed him to attract more DCCC money,” Goode said on Monday.

According to campaign finance information complied by CQ MoneyLine, Perriello has brought in just under $200,000 from New York and just over $100,000 from donors in California.

“You have to be fearful of someone like him who is New York slick,” Goode said.

Goode noted that Perriello has made much of his promise this cycle not to take donations from corporate political action committees but “corporate PACs give money to [Rep.] Charlie Rangel [D-N.Y.] and Charlie Rangel gives to him.”

Goode argues that Perriello is playing loose with the truth when he blames Goode for the region’s job losses.

“We’ve lost manufacturing jobs because of free-trade agreements,” Goode said. He said that what workers in Southside Virginia really needed in recent years was more Members of Congress voting against free-trade agreements.

But Perriello told the crowd at Friday’s rally that it’s Goode who likes to twist the truth, especially when he’s scared of losing. He cited a recent television commercial with a picture of the Democrat that Perriello says was darkened and altered in order to make him appear more sinister.

“From one side we have a politics of fear. A politics of trying to survive by convincing people just how scary the alternative is instead of offering a plan for change,” Perriello told the crowd. “We’ve seen it from my opponent, Congressman Goode. ... I tell you this: The 10,000 jobs we’ve lost during Congressman Goode’s time is a lot scarier than that picture.” Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, October 12, 2008

October 12 Electoral Map Picks by Kay Slaughter from "The Fix" Contest in Washington Post

<p><strong>><a href=''>2008 Election Contest: Pick Your President</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the 2008 presidential election and enter to win a $500 prize.</p>

I gave Obama the states Kerry won and then added in Virginia, New Mexico, and North Carolina, where I believe he is currently leading. Sphere: Related Content

THE HARDEST VOTE by George Packer, The New Yorker

Barbie Snodgrass had agreed to meet me at a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet, on a strip of fast-food restaurants and auto shops west of downtown Columbus, Ohio, but she didn’t have much time to talk. Her shift as a receptionist at a medical clinic, which got her out of the house at six in the morning, had just ended, at three; the drive home, to a housing development in a working-class suburb south of the city, took half an hour. She then had a little more than an hour to eat, change clothes, let the dog out, check up on her sister’s two teen-age daughters—Sierra and Ashley, who were under her care—and then drive back into Columbus, where she worked the evening shift cleaning the studios of a local television station, and where her day ended, at ten. She also worked some weekends. She was forty-two, single, overweight, and suffering from stomach pains.

Snodgrass sat down at my table and refused the offer of a soft drink. She was wearing a drab ensemble of gray cotton sweatpants and a loose-fitting pale-yellow knit top, and her brown hair fell in bangs just above her eyes. I asked for her thoughts about the Presidential candidates, and she said, “Someone who makes two hundred or three hundred thousand a year, who eats a regular meal, who doesn’t have to struggle, who doesn’t worry if the lights are going to be turned out—if he doesn’t walk in your shoes, he can’t understand.”

In Snodgrass’s shoes, it hardly made sense to draw a paycheck. “You’re working for what?” she asked. She hadn’t finished college, and the two jobs that kept her “constantly moving” brought in a little more than forty thousand dollars a year, but after the mortgage (a thousand a month), car payments (three hundred and fifty), levies for supplies at the girls’ public high school, fuel, electricity, stomach medicine, and a hundred dollars’ worth of groceries each week (down from eight bags to four at Kroger’s supermarket, because of inflation) there was basically nothing left to spend. She could cut corners—go out for a McDonald’s Dollar Meal instead of spending seven dollars on a bag of potatoes and cooking at home. But that meant the end of any kind of family life for her nieces.

“These days, you have to struggle,” she said. “As a kid, I used to be able to go to the movies or to the zoo. Now you can’t take your children to the zoo or go to the movies, because you’ve got to think how you’re going to put food on the table.” Snodgrass’s parents had raised four children on two modest incomes, without the ceaseless stress that she was enduring. But the two-parent family was now available only to the “very privileged.” She said that she had ten good friends; eight of them were childless or, like her, unmarried with kids. “That’s who’s middle-class now,” she said. “Two parents, two kids? That’s over. People looked out for me. These kids nowadays don’t have nobody to look out for them. You’re one week away from (a) losing your job, or (b) not having a paycheck.”

Snodgrass, who has always voted Democratic, was paying close attention to the Presidential campaign—she had taped both candidates’ Convention speeches, and watched them when she had time—but her faith in politicians was somewhere close to zero. She wanted a leader who would watch out for people in the “middle class,” people like her who had no one on their side. “I think McCain is going to be just like Bush the next eight years,” she said. “I don’t see how it’s going to change.” To her, Sarah Palin, a working mother close to her own age, felt more like a token choice than like a kindred spirit. “I think McCain picked her so women can relate to her, not because she’s the best person for the job,” Snodgrass said. “She’s more of a show for the American family.” Hillary Clinton had been better, but even she couldn’t fully apprehend Barbie Snodgrass’s predicament.

She remained uninspired by Barack Obama. His Convention speech had gone into detail about his policy proposals on matters like the economy and health care, which seemed tailored to attract a voter like Snodgrass, but they filled her with suspicion. His promise to rescind the Bush tax cuts for wealthier Americans struck her as incredible: “How many people do you know who make two hundred and fifty thousand dollars? What is that, five per cent of the United States? That’s a joke! If he starts at a hundred thousand, I might listen. Two hundred fifty—that’s to me like people who hit the lottery.” In fact, only two per cent of Americans make more than a quarter of a million dollars a year, but that group earns twelve per cent of the national income. Nonetheless, the circumstances of Snodgrass’s life made it impossible for her to imagine that there could possibly be enough taxable money in Obama’s upper-income category—which meant that he was being dishonest, and that she would eventually be the one to pay. “He’ll keep going down, and when it’s to people who make forty-five or fifty thousand it’s going to hit me,” she said. “I’d have to sell my home and live in a five-hundred-dollar-a-month apartment with gang bangers out in my yard, and I’d be scared to death to leave my house.”


Monday, October 6, 2008


Though the Commonwealth of Virginia has voted Republican in ten straight Presidential elections, a new poll by Suffolk University signals that Democrat Barack Obama is poised to break that historic streak. Obama (51 percent) leads Republican John McCain (39 percent) by 12 percentage points. "Barack Obama has built a coalition of suburban DC area progressives from the north, African-American voters from the south, and young voters statewide," said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University in Boston. “That broad-based support suggests a 44-year Republican run in the Old Dominion State, dating back to Lyndon Johnson’s victory in 1964, is in jeopardy."

The poll shows last Thursday’s vice presidential debate was a net plus for the Democratic ticket. Exactly three-quarters (75 percent) of likely voters watched and scored Joe Biden (46 percent) the clear winner over Sarah Palin (26 percent), while 20 percent said neither won the debate. When asked if the debate affected their presidential selection, 32 percent said it made them more likely to vote Obama, while 18 percent said the debate moved them to McCain, and 47 percent said the debate didn’t affect their decision.

“The toxic state of the economy in the final year of the Bush Administration is making many Republican candidates radioactive,” Paleologos said. “As has been the case in other Suffolk battleground states, the recent Wall Street and economic turmoil has been costly to the Republican party in Virginia.”

When likely voters were asked which political party -- if any -- deserved blame for the shaky economy, 39 percent blamed the Republicans; 15 percent blamed Democrats; 31 percent said neither; and 13 percent were undecided. And when asked which candidate voters trusted more, Obama led McCain 50 percent to 37 percent, a dramatic uptick from other recent Suffolk surveys in other battleground states.In the clash between the Old Dominion’s two former governors, Democrat Mark Warner (57 percent) leads Republican Jim Gilmore (25 percent). Independent Greens candidate Glenda Gail Parker secured 1 percent; 15 percent were undecided; and 2 percent refused to pick a candidate.The economy/jobs issue (52 percent) dwarfed all other issues in the survey, including the Iraq War (9 percent) and healthcare (8 percent). Taxes, moral values, terrorism, and education all tied with 6 percent.
The Virginia bellwethers disagreed on the presidential winner. In Accomack County, Obama led McCain 41 percent to 40 percent, but in the city of Chesapeake McCain led Obama 42 percent to 36 percent. Bellwether ID’s are designed to predict outcomes - not margins - and to supplement the Suffolk statewide polls.

In 2008, Suffolk University bellwethers, when they agreed on an outcome, were 95 percent accurate in predicting straight-up winners in both Democratic and Republican primaries, and, when in agreement with the statewide Suffolk polls of the respective states, were 100 percent accurate in predicting straight-up winners.

The Suffolk University poll was conducted Friday, October 3, 2008, through Sunday, October 5, 2008. The margin of error on the study of 600 is +/- 4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. All respondents from the Virginia statewide survey were likely voters. In the bellwether polls, there were 282 respondents from Chesapeake city and 303 respondents from Accomack County, and both were surveyed separately from the statewide poll. Marginals and 120 pages of cross-tabulation data will be posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site on Monday, October 6, 2008. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.

WOMANPOLITICO COMMENT: I guess I'll have to change my electoral map (see below), since I have been very pessimistic about the Democratic presidential candidate winning Virginia. If the Suffolk University poll is correct and this trend continues in Virginia, then it may be an indication that there will be an overwhelming Obama victory in the electoral college. I hope so ! Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Sarah Palin's farcical debate performance lowered the standards for both female candidates and US political discourse

Michelle Goldberg,
Friday October 03 2008 18:30 BST

At least three times last night, Sarah Palin, the adorable, preposterous vice-presidential candidate, winked at the audience. Had a male candidate with a similar reputation for attractive vapidity made such a brazen attempt to flirt his way into the good graces of the voting public, it would have universally noted, discussed and mocked. Palin, however, has single-handedly so lowered the standards both for female candidates and American political discourse that, with her newfound ability to speak in more-or-less full sentences, she is now deemed to have performed acceptably last night.By any normal standard, including the ones applied to male presidential candidates of either party, she did not. Early on, she made the astonishing announcement that she had no intentions of actually answering the queries put to her. "I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also," she said.

And so she preceded, with an almost surreal disregard for the subjects she was supposed to be discussing, to unleash fusillades of scripted attack lines, platitudes, lies, gibberish and grating references to her own pseudo-folksy authenticity. It was an appalling display. The only reason it was not widely described as such is that too many American pundits don't even try to judge the truth, wisdom or reasonableness of the political rhetoric they are paid to pronounce upon. Instead, they imagine themselves as interpreters of a mythical mass of "average Americans" who they both venerate and despise.

In pronouncing upon a debate, they don't try and determine whether a candidate's responses correspond to existing reality, or whether he or she is capable of talking about subjects such as the deregulation of the financial markets or the devolution of the war in Afghanistan. The criteria are far more vaporous. In this case, it was whether Palin could avoid utterly humiliating herself for 90 minutes, and whether urbane commentators would believe that she had connected to a public that they see as ignorant and sentimental. For the Alaska governor, mission accomplished. There is indeed something mesmerising about Palin, with her manic beaming and fulsome confidence in her own charm. The force of her personality managed to slightly obscure the insulting emptiness of her answers last night. It's worth reading the transcript of the encounter, where it becomes clearer how bizarre much of what she said was. Here, for example, is how she responded to Biden's comments about how the middle class has been short-changed during the Bush administration, and how McCain will continue Bush's policies:

Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced [sic] your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let's look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education, and I'm glad you did. I know education you are passionate about with your wife being a teacher for 30 years, and god bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right? ... My brother, who I think is the best schoolteacher in the year, and here's a shout-out to all those third graders at Gladys Wood Elementary School, you get extra credit for watching the debate.

Evidently, Palin's pre-debate handlers judged her incapable of speaking on a fairly wide range of subjects, and so instructed to her to simply disregard questions that did not invite memorised talking points or cutesy filibustering. They probably told her to play up her spunky average-ness, which she did to the point of shtick - and dishonesty. Asked what her achilles heel is - a question she either didn't understand or chose to ignore - she started in on how McCain chose her because of her "connection to the heartland of America. Being a mom, one very concerned about a son in the war, about a special needs child, about kids heading off to college, how are we going to pay those tuition bills?"None of Palin's children, it should be noted, is heading off to college. Her son is on the way to Iraq, and her pregnant 17-year-old daughter is engaged to be married to a high-school dropout and self-described "fuckin' redneck". Palin is a woman who can't even tell the truth about the most quotidian and public details of her own life, never mind about matters of major public import. In her only vice-presidential debate, she was shallow, mendacious and phoney. What kind of maverick, after all, keeps harping on what a maverick she is? That her performance was considered anything but a farce doesn't show how high Palin has risen, but how low we all have sunk.

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, September 29, 2008


By Kay Slaughter

Distress at the gas pump won’t be resolved by drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, despite the American propensity, when frustrated, to act, even if that action is largely meaningless. The politicians are pandering to polls showing that people want elected officials to do something -- anything -- to reduce the cost of gas. Drilling won't do that and politicians need to tell them.

The government’s own estimates are that, at best, the entire Atlantic Coast would yield 100 days of gasoline. There is no evidence that additional leases would lead to lower prices or that the oil, in particular, would even be used in the U. S.

Moreover, if exploration starts now, we can expect any oil to materialize in about 10 to 20 years.

The oil companies would love to have more "futures" on which to speculate and more leases to pick from.

Here are some other facts:

  • While the numbers of permits for the oil and gas development on federal lands has risen by more than 361%, gasoline prices during this same time period have also risen.
  • Moreover, only 10.5 million acres of the 44 million currently leased are producing oil or gas. Oil and gas companies hold leases to nearly 68 million acres of federal land and waters that are not producing oil and gas.
  • According to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, opening up the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions “would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.
  • Leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production would not be expected to start before 2017.”
  • Because oil prices are determined on the international market, “any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.”

But what about the environmental costs?

First, the consequences of off shore drilling on the coastal areas are often overlooked. To support oil and gas exploration and development, new roads, pipelines, ports, and industrial processing facilities must be built on the nearby coasts. In the South Atlantic, this would include the area around Virginia Beach, the outer banks of North Carolina, or nearby estuaries.
These will have devastating impact on coastal areas, wetlands and sensitive lands that are already stressed with development.

There are many consequences from the exploration and drilling:

  • “Airguns” sending thousands of blasts of seismic waves into the ocean reveal oil and gas resources. These blasts have led to mass strandings of whales and other marine mammals and harm fish, thus resulting in decreased commercial fishing catches.
  • Offshore drilling results in the discharge of substantial drilling muds and "produced waters". These contain lots of toxins including mercury, radium and other materials that are harmful to life. The dumping of muds also smothers sea life on the ocean floor. At high concentrations, the pollutants kill marine life. At lower concentrations, they cause birth defects and impaired growth.
  • Accidental oil spills resulting from human error or equipment failure cause irreversible harm to ocean life. Just remember, oil spreads on water at a rate of one half a football field per second. It is toxic to marine life, andcannot be fully cleaned up. Despite industry claims, technological advances have not protected drilling from storms or spill prevention.
  • For example, Department of Interior's Mineral Management Service reports that 435,330 gallons of oil spilled from platforms and drilling rigs during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
  • An additional 306,054 gallons of oil leaked from pipelines damaged during these storms.
  • More than 7 million gallons of petroleum products spilled from onshore operations, reminding us that the transport of oil and gas via pipeline and tankers invites many risks k of leakage and spill.
  • Air becomes polluted from oil and gas drilling due to ozone, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur compounds.
  • Ships transporting oil and gas also discharge harmful air pollutants as a result of the low-grade fuel they burn and the fugitive emissions from the materials they are carrying.

Are all these impacts worth 100 days of oil ?

According to CBS program, Fast Draw [check out the video on this page], although John McCain has ridiculed Barack Obama for his suggestions, we could save 7 billion gallons of gas from inflating tires, reducing highway speed by 5 miles AND dealing with obesity (so the cars aren’t carrying such fat people). Offshore oil drilling by contrast would bring only 1.4 billion gallons of gas.

Instead of lifting the moratorium on offshore drilling, which will not lead to lower gasoline prices, other steps, such as energy efficiency measures and the development of alternative fuels, will lead to lower fuel costs and reduced dependency on fossil fuels. We should talk about the facts to our friends . . . and to our politicians.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008


Here's the good news: Women have become so politically powerful that even the anti-feminist right wing -- the folks with a headlock on the Republican Party -- are trying to appease the gender gap with a first-ever female vice president. We owe this to women -- and to many men too -- who have picketed, gone on hunger strikes or confronted violence at the polls so women can vote. We owe it to Shirley Chisholm, who first took the "white-male-only" sign off the White House, and to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who hung in there through ridicule and misogyny to win 18 million votes.But here is even better news: It won't work. This isn't the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need. Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie.

Selecting Sarah Palin, who was touted all summer by Rush Limbaugh, is no way to attract most women, including die-hard Clinton supporters. Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton. Her down-home, divisive and deceptive speech did nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention that has more than twice as many male delegates as female, a presidential candidate who is owned and operated by the right wing and a platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton's candidacy stood for -- and that Barack Obama's still does. To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, "Somebody stole my shoes, so I'll amputate my legs."This is not to beat up on Palin. I defend her right to be wrong, even on issues that matter most to me. I regret that people say she can't do the job because she has children in need of care, especially if they wouldn't say the same about a father. I get no pleasure from imagining her in the spotlight on national and foreign policy issues about which she has zero background, with one month to learn to compete with Sen. Joe Biden's 37 years' experience. Palin has been honest about what she doesn't know. When asked last month about the vice presidency, she said, "I still can't answer that question until someone answers for me: What is it exactly that the VP does every day?" When asked about Iraq, she said, "I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq."
She was elected governor largely because the incumbent was unpopular, and she's won over Alaskans mostly by using unprecedented oil wealth to give a $1,200 rebate to every resident. Now she is being praised by McCain's campaign as a tax cutter, despite the fact that Alaska has no state income or sales tax. Perhaps McCain has opposed affirmative action for so long that he doesn't know it's about inviting more people to meet standards, not lowering them. Or perhaps McCain is following the Bush administration habit, as in the Justice Department, of putting a job candidate's views on "God, guns and gays" ahead of competence. The difference is that McCain is filling a job one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency.So let's be clear: The culprit is John McCain. He may have chosen Palin out of change-envy, or a belief that women can't tell the difference between form and content, but the main motive was to please right-wing ideologues; the same ones who nixed anyone who is now or ever has been a supporter of reproductive freedom. If that were not the case, McCain could have chosen a woman who knows what a vice president does and who has thought about Iraq; someone like Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. McCain could have taken a baby step away from right-wing patriarchs who determine his actions, right down to opposing the Violence Against Women Act. Palin's value to those patriarchs is clear: She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women's wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves "abstinence-only" programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers' millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn't spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.I don't doubt her sincerity. As a lifetime member of the National Rifle Assn., she doesn't just support killing animals from helicopters, she does it herself. She doesn't just talk about increasing the use of fossil fuels but puts a coal-burning power plant in her own small town. She doesn't just echo McCain's pledge to criminalize abortion by overturning Roe vs. Wade, she says that if one of her daughters were impregnated by rape or incest, she should bear the child. She not only opposes reproductive freedom as a human right but implies that it dictates abortion, without saying that it also protects the right to have a child.So far, the major new McCain supporter that Palin has attracted is James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Of course, for Dobson, "women are merely waiting for their husbands to assume leadership," so he may be voting for Palin's husband.Being a hope-a-holic, however, I can see two long-term bipartisan gains from this contest.Republicans may learn they can't appeal to right-wing patriarchs and most women at the same time. A loss in November could cause the centrist majority of Republicans to take back their party, which was the first to support the Equal Rights Amendment and should be the last to want to invite government into the wombs of women.And American women, who suffer more because of having two full-time jobs than from any other single injustice, finally have support on a national stage from male leaders who know that women can't be equal outside the home until men are equal in it. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are campaigning on their belief that men should be, can be and want to be at home for their children.This could be huge.

Gloria Steinem is an author, feminist organizer and co-founder of the Women's Media Center. She supported Hillary Clinton and is now supporting Barack Obama. Sphere: Related Content

Accidental President?

By Kay Slaughter

Pundits note that in naming Sarah Palin as his Veep pick, John McCain takes a political risk calculated to shore up the Republican Conservatives AND reach out to independent women and disaffected Hillary voters.

What pundits haven't recognized is that the risk is not just McCain's political calculus, but also a risk to the nation. If John McCain were elected, Sarah Palin would be a "heartbeat away" from being president; if McCain were to die, Sarah Palin would become an "accidental President."

I'm only a few years younger than John McCain, and I know that "stuff happens" as you hit your senior years. McCain has already defeated deadly melanoma twice. Every presidential candidate needs a qualified running mate. However, as an older candidate, according to actuarial tables, McCain especially needs a well qualified VEEP.

Sarah Palin is feisty. She can deliver one liners with humor, energy and good timing. But so far, she has not explained her qualifications to take over the highest office in the land. She has not explained her views on a variety of presidential matters. Even Dan Quayle (the oft-ridiculed vice president under George I) looks more qualified than Palin.

I was a Hillary supporter because I believed her to be the best qualified candidate of either party. It's an insult to think that women would vote solely on the basis of gender. I, for one, do not want an accidental female president ... especially one as unqualified and untried as Sarah Palin. Sphere: Related Content


Please take a couple minutes out of your day to watch these funny and fact based videos about how Governor Palin has completely miss-represented her record. And of course please send this along to anyone else who might be interested.

Our response should not be based on her experience or ideology, it should be based on the fact that she has lied to America about her real record. American, if Governor Palin is willing to lie about her record, what else will she lie about!?

Videos below:

Remember, Governor Palin is a complete unknown to American, and what our fellow citizens assume they know about her is that she is a "mavericky" reformer. This is a paper thin reputation that we can pop like a balloon.

If you have extra time here are some more resources:

Palin's eBay Story: What Actually Happened

So What Did Palin Request in Federal Earmarks? Seal DNA Research!

This is particularly galling because if you remember McCain is found of saying that he'll make the names of wasteful government spenders "famous"; and one of the examples he uses is a an earmark to study grizzly bear DNA. Well, evidently he has made one those wasteful government spenders quite famous!!!

Follow up post on earmarks:

Wall St. Journal: Ethics Adviser Warned Palin About Trooper Issue

Wall St. Journal: Record Contradicts Palin's 'Bridge' Claims

Media debunking Governor Palin's 'Bridge' claim summary video:


This might be the most worthwhile missive sent around so far.
Friends, compatriots, fellow-lamenters,

We are writing to you because of the fury and dread we have felt since the
announcement of Sarah Palin as the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Republican Party. We believe that this terrible decision has surpassed mere
partisanship, and that it is a dangerous farce—on the part of a pandering and rudderless Presidential candidate—that has a real possibility of becoming fact.

Perhaps like us, as American women, you share the fear of what Ms. Palin and her professed beliefs and proven record could lead to for ourselves and for our present or future daughters. To date, she is against sex education, birth control, the pro-choice platform, environmental protection, alternative energy development, freedom of speech (as mayor she wanted to
ban books and attempted to fire the librarian who stood against her), gun control, the separation of church and state, and polar bears. To say nothing of her complete lack of real preparation to become the second-most-powerful person on the planet.

We want to clarify that we are not against Sarah Palin as a woman, a mother, or, for that matter, a parent of a pregnant teenager, but solely as a rash, incompetent, and all together devastating choice for Vice President. Ms. Palin's political views are in every way a slap in the face to the
accomplishments that our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers so fiercely fought for, and that we've so demonstrably benefited from.

First and foremost, Ms. Palin does not represent us. She does not demonstrate or uphold our interests as American women. It is presumed that the inclusion of a woman on the Republican ticket could win over women voters. We want to disagree, publicly.

Therefore, we invite you to reply here with a short, succinct message about why you, as a woman living in this country, do not support this candidate as second-in-command for our nation.

Please include your name (last initial is fine), age, and place of residence.

We will post your responses on a blog called "Women Against Sarah Palin," which we intend to publicize as widely as possible. Please send us your reply at your earliest convenience—the greater the volume of responses we receive, the stronger our message will be.

Thank you for your time and action.

Quinn Latimer and Lyra Kilston
New York, NY Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, September 4, 2008

AND THEN THERE WAS ONE by Thomas Friedman, NYT Sept. 3

As we emerge from Labor Day, college students are gathering back on campuses not only to start the fall semester, but also, in some cases, to vote for the first time in a presidential election. There is no bigger issue on campuses these days than environment/energy. Going into this election, I thought that — for the first time — we would have a choice between two “green” candidates. That view is no longer operative — and college students (and everyone else) need to understand that.

With his choice of Sarah Palin — the Alaska governor who has advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and does not believe mankind is playing any role in climate change — for vice president, John McCain has completed his makeover from the greenest Republican to run for president to just another representative of big oil.

Given the fact that Senator McCain deliberately avoided voting on all eight attempts to pass a bill extending the vital tax credits and production subsidies to expand our wind and solar industries, and given his support for lowering the gasoline tax in a reckless giveaway that would only promote more gasoline consumption and intensify our addiction to oil, and given his desire to make more oil-drilling, not innovation around renewable energy, the centerpiece of his energy policy — in an effort to mislead voters that support for drilling today would translate into lower prices at the pump today — McCain has forfeited any claim to be a green candidate.

So please, students, when McCain comes to your campus and flashes a few posters of wind turbines and solar panels, ask him why he has been AWOL when it came to Congress supporting these new technologies.

“Back in June, the Republican Party had a round-up,” said Carl Pope, the executive director of the Sierra Club. “One of the unbranded cattle — a wizened old maverick name John McCain — finally got roped. Then they branded him with a big ‘Lazy O’ — George Bush’s brand, where the O stands for oil. No more maverick.

“One of McCain’s last independent policies putting him at odds with Bush was his opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” added Pope, “yet he has now picked a running mate who has opposed holding big oil accountable and been dismissive of alternative energy while focusing her work on more oil drilling in a wildlife refuge and off of our coasts. While the northern edge of her state literally falls into the rising Arctic Ocean, Sarah Palin says, ‘The jury is still out on global warming.’ She’s the one hanging the jury — and John McCain is going to let her.”

Indeed, Palin’s much ballyhooed confrontations with the oil industry have all been about who should get more of the windfall profits, not how to end our addiction.

Barack Obama should be doing more to promote his green agenda, but at least he had the courage, in the heat of a Democratic primary, not to pander to voters by calling for a lifting of the gasoline tax. And while he has come out for a limited expansion of offshore drilling, he has refrained from misleading voters that this is in any way a solution to our energy problems.

I am not against a limited expansion of off-shore drilling now. But it is a complete sideshow. By constantly pounding into voters that his energy focus is to “drill, drill, drill,” McCain is diverting attention from what should be one of the central issues in this election: who has the better plan to promote massive innovation around clean power technologies and energy efficiency.

Why? Because renewable energy technologies — what I call “E.T.” — are going to constitute the next great global industry. They will rival and probably surpass “I.T.” — information technology. The country that spawns the most E.T. companies will enjoy more economic power, strategic advantage and rising standards of living. We need to make sure that is America. Big oil and OPEC want to make sure it is not.

Palin’s nomination for vice president and her desire to allow drilling in the Alaskan wilderness “reminded me of a lunch I had three and half years ago with one of the Russian trade attach├ęs,” global trade consultant Edward Goldberg said to me. “After much wine, this gentleman told me that his country was very pleased that the Bush administration wanted to drill in the Alaskan wilderness. In his opinion, the amount of product one could actually derive from there was negligible in terms of needs. However, it signified that the Bush administration was not planning to do anything to create alternative energy, which of course would threaten the economic growth of Russia.”

So, college students, don’t let anyone tell you that on the issue of green, this election is not important. It is vitally important, and the alternatives could not be more black and white.
More Articles in Opinion » A version of this article appeared in print on September 3, 2008, on page A25 of the New York edition. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, September 1, 2008

Drilling for Oil: Another Act in the Tragedy of the Commons

The whole issue of offshore drilling for oil and gas in the Atlantic Ocean means the potential loss to others who enjoy and profit from the bounty of this common resource. The oceans of the earth are "commons" for all the peoples and shared by many nations. As with public lands within the continental borders, the U.S. has long understood that it can lease the ocean floors: that's what the offshore oil leasing program is all about.

From our British roots, this country has long utilized the concept of the commons. Even in the early years of the country, the colonists believed that the ocean, rivers and estuaries were open to all -- Native Americans, British and French traders, colonists -- to fish and to gather clams or oysters.

Although the seas were seen as common to all, by the 18th century, most nations came to recognize the sovereignty a country had over its territorial waters, defined as the the 12-miles from its shore. At the same time, the U.S. came to realize that its lands could be used for settlement, growth of the nation and profit.

In this same vein, the US now leases oil and gas exploration rights in the oceans -- it has been leasing in the Gulf of Mexico for some decades and also in the Pacific.

Now, the government through the Department of Interior may lift its decades-old moratorium on drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, opening the way for the granting of long term leases to oil and gas exploration companies.

This is another example of the loss of the commons. Currently, fishermen are free to fish in these areas. Even though they can still technically fish these areas after the oil and gas leases are in place, the impacts of these industries -- the pollution from mud drills and production waters -- will impact the fish that live in the Atlantic and the fishermen who catch them for our food and their profit.

If the politicians decide to lift the moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic, they will be bowing to public polls, not to rational arguments. (See "Gasoline Blues" below).

The true tragedy of the commons -- in classic terms -- is that as each party seeks to maximize profits by using it more, the finite commons, in this case the ocean (and yes, even the oceans are finite) will be ruined for all.

According to Garrett Hardin, the 1960s scientist who popularized this concept, the only solution to the tragedy is "mutual coercion mutually agreed upon." Hardin posits that social arrangements often do define responsibility and that in the case of the commons, society through its government needs to set the limits on the use of finite resources.

We the people need to urge the politicians to say no to lifting the moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. 100 Days of Oil estimated to be at stake is not worth the loss of yet another of Earth's finite commons. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, August 29, 2008


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In her speech at the Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton explained all the reasons she ran for the presidency, and she then said "Those are the reasons I support Barack Obama. And those are the reason you should too."

She added: "I want you to ask ourselves: were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling for cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?"

This statement goes to the core of why I supported Hillary for president: She is both a great politician and a woman who is in politics because of the changes she wants to make. I feel certain she asked herself this same question: each of us who enter politics to make the world a better place at some point have to ask the same question, which boils down to: "are you in it for the ego-kick or are you in it because you care?"

This was the right question to put to her supporters listening at home and at the Democratic Convention. Hopefully, those who have been less than enthusiastic about Barack Obama will hear the question and turn a page on the campaign of 2008 and get to work. Sphere: Related Content