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      One of the great crimes and tragedies of our world is how we treat the animals we eat (or whose milk or eggs or other products we eat and use.) Factory farming keeps them in tiny enclosures, feeds them monotonous foods, and then when they’re slaughtered it’s a terrible experience: they’re terrified and die in […]
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Daggett wins second debate for NJ Governor

Daggett's Sea of Green

Daggett's Sea of Green

I got a call the other day from the Daggett campaign, the independent candidate for governor of New Jersey, to meet for a rally before the second and last debate in the race.  The debate was yesterday at William Paterson University in Totowa NJ.  All of the usual suspects were there.  Corzine’s crew brought in a lot of union guys.  The Republicans had their anti-choice crowd.  There were a surprising number of conspiracy theorists who turned out to protest childhood vaccinations and specifically the H1N1 vaccine.  Don’t even get me started.

And then there was the Daggett campaign.  We had about as many ralliers as the other two campaigns and some nifty bright green signs and T-shirts.  Green sort of speaks to Daggett’s environmental creds. He’s been endorsed by the Sierra Club. By the way, Daggett’s campaign staff is drop dead gorgeous.  His rally coordinator is so hot you could bake cookies on him.  One of his staff, a tall beautiful blonde, was wearing a very fashionable sweater minidress that showcased the most amazingly long, perfect legs.  Just before the debate started, she strutted across the loge, like Joan Holloway on a mission, right in front of a bunch of Corzine supporters.  Their jaws dropped and every pair of eyes, mine included, followed her shapely gams right up to her callipygian butt.  Well done!  You can be smart and smokin’ hot.  Too bad you missed it, myiq.

The debate was sponsored and obviously controlled by the local Fox affiliaate.  I managed to snag a ticket for the debate literally minutes before it began. (Thank you, hot cookie guy!)  I don’t know the criteria that was used to give out advanced tickets but it was clearly rigged in Chris Christie’s favor.  Like I said, there weren’t an overwhelming number of Republicans outside but, judging by the cheering and applause, Republicans inside Shea PAC outnumbered the other campaigns by about 2:1.  Bostonboomer, who liveblogged the debate last night, reported that the Fox commentators talked over Daggett’s responses and occasionally Corzine. allowing Christie to pontificate in his big beefy goodness without interruption.  As we were outside during the rally, one Republican operative approached our group and said, “How does it feel to be marginalized?”  He seemed disturbed.  We were cheerily unperturbed.  We know there are a lot of New Jerseyans who are registered ‘unaffiliated’. All they need is a good reason to vote for the third guy.  (Note to Daggett’s campaign: I know your poll position is crappy.  So, why not take a cue from Joe Lieberman’s senate campaign in 2006 and create and ad with a snappy mnemonic so that voters can find you?)

Now, onto the debate.  I was transfixed.  I’ve never been to a live debate before.  And while this wasn’t as high stakes as a presidential debate, I have to give a lot of credit to the organizers and the candidates for sticking to the rules.  There were no gotcha questions.  The Lightening Round was a chance for the candidates to reveal their personalities and turned out to be pretty funny.

In short, this should be a model for all debates going forward.  I learned a lot about all three candidates and their approach to fixing what ails New Jersey.  But it was Daggett who stole the show.  Seriously, guys, I could vote for this man for president.  He’s got that Hillary Clinton policy wonk thing down cold.  He was well prepared for most questions and for the ones where he didn’t have an immediate answer, I got the sense that his mental gears were clicking.

Daggett could have a lot of appeal to both Democrats and Republicans.  He is liberal on social issues, prudent and conservative on fiscal issues.  He emphasizes tax cuts for homeowners and corporations.  I’m a little worried by how he intends to pay for it but his idea of expanding the sales tax to items that the upper middle and upper class purchase is a step in the right direction.  In fact, he could go even further and impose a small sales tax on most consumer goods (2-4%?  It would still be lower than surrounding states).   In New Jersey, we don’t have a sales tax on food or most consumer items.  There is a restaurant tax but if you go to the grocery store, no tax on most products.  New York, by contrast, has up to a 9% tax on just about everything (See Ann’s comment for more precise details).  So, you can see why New Jersey is an attractive place to shop.  On the other hand, our property taxes are through the roof.  For example, I pay more than $500 on my little townhouse – per month.  Yep, after the ridiculous federal, social security and state income taxes are paid from my generous paycheck, reducing me to just average Jane Bagodonuts, I pay more than $500 per month on a house with no property.  Personally, I don’t mind shifting some to that tax to consumable goods.  Let the people who buy the luxury cars and high end consumables pick up the tab.  Daggett also proposes a tax on gas to pay for transportation infrastructure and mass transit.  I think this is a good idea, especially if it encourages more use of mass transit in a state as congested as New Jersey.

Where I had some issues with Daggett was his approach to health care.  His opposition to the public option is not necessarily a dealbreaker for me.  I think policy wonks are able to see permutations to solving these kinds of problems because they understand the mechanisms of government.  So, if we ended up with a German type of health care, ie private insurance but highly regulated, that would be Ok with me as long as everyone is covered, insurance companies and health care providers are held accountable with mandates  for basic policies  and public funds are used to provide subsidies for those individuals who can’t afford it.  I don’t think that’s what we’re getting with Obamacare where the mandates seem to be falling more heavily on the individual and choice of insurance company is limited.  While single payer would eliminate a lot of our administrative headaches and it works for other countries, it’s not the only answer.  There’s no reason to suppose it couldn’t work here but we can’t rule out other models that check the health care industry just as well.

Daggett also didn’t have an answer for how to fund state colleges and universities.  Well, he’s got a couple of weeks to come up with an answer.  To be fair, Corzine and Christie weren’t any better on this question.  Corzine points to state financial aid grants as a sort of bandaid on the problem. Christie got all sentimental about sending his four children to local schools but added nothing to the conversation.  Daggett at least acknowledged that there was a problem with the underlying structure of state aid to colleges and universities that needed to be addressed.  He just needs to find a funding mechanism.  Might I suggest one?  Ok, this is going to sound crazy and bring out the MADD crew but most New Jersey restaurants do not have liquor licenses.  Yep, if you want to go out to a nice, new restaurant for a special dinner, you’d better call ahead because you might have to brown bag it, and drink everything you bring with you.  There aren’t that many licenses available and most of them are bought up by big chain restaurants and, I suspect, the mafia.  If you go to New York or Pennsylvania, this is never an issue.  You can get a nice glass of chard just about anywhere.  So, sell more liquor licenses, license grocery stores to sell wine and beer and watch the revenue flow in.  This leftover from Prohibition is only benefitting organized crime.

The dynamics of the debate were also pretty interesting to watch.  After Daggett’s responses to questions, Corzine frequently agreed with him in response but never once referred to him by name.  Corzine continued to frame the debate as between two party representatives, him and Chris Christie.  I think that might have worked in any other year when there wasn’t such a strong, articulate, engaging third party candidate.  I’m not sure it will work this year.  In Daggett’s closing statement, he makes a point of reminding the audience that in spite of what Corzine and Christie’s wishful thinking, there *is* a choice this year.  There is a third party candidate who offers something new, different and positive.

Go, Daggett, GO!

PS:  This race is phenomenally expensive and Daggett has chosen to run on public funds.  Corzine has spent $20 million on ads attacking Chris Christie’s waistline.  Daggett is trying to run a positive campaign on limited funds.  Just sayin’.

Note: The second debate will be televised tomorrow.  I’ll try to do another live blog because I think it is important to think outside the box, especially when there is a viable third party candidate like Daggett.  These people need more attention and support to give voters more choices and keep the other parties on their toes.

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Tuesday: In my mind I’m going to Carolina

Whoever keeps scheduling these training classes on primary days is a sadist. I’ll try to check in during breaks but I’m going to have to leave it to others to make posts for much of the day. You’re probably bored with me anyway and Kbird, BB, ronk and gary are my favorite reads these days.

So, Hillary should win Indiana. Of that we are fairly certain. It would be nice to win by 10 but we will be happy with winning. Carolina though is still anyone’s guess. Obama is likely to win it but by how much is just speculation at this point. Jerome Armstrong has been pretty good at predicting these things and he says Obama by 6. Or 12. *sigh*

Just keep sending good thots to Hillary. It’s going to be a good day for her.

In other news:

  • Obama tries to woo white working class voters by taking his jacket off and loosening his tie. This is to dispel the notion that he and Michelle are elitist intellectuals. Well, I would NEVER call Obama an intellectual. He’s smart, sure, but hardly an egghead. Hey, I’ve got an idea! Why doesn’t he stop calling them bitter and undignified? Or better yet, he could stop acting like an extra $30/month is pocket change. Or not call them cheap dates.
  • Gas tax? In Obama is wrong about the gas tax, George Frost at Salon says Obama was for it before he was against it. Obama voted to lower the gas tax in Illinois in 2000 and guess what? Some of that savings went into consumers’ pockets. Fancy that!
  • Joan Walsh talks about Michael Wolff’s sex life and projection. Apparently, Mr. Wolff thinks that we stupid old women should give up our sex lives like adults give up getting lots of gifts for Christmas. It’s just part of getting old for women. Men on the other hand, spend their middle age figuring out how they can have affairs with younger women and get away with it. And this is an explanation for what in this political season? That middle aged men can’t identify with any of the candidates and Obama is too young? Wha? Huh? How come Obama is the same age as me but he’s young and I’m old? Joan is right. The endless primary season is making people progressively sillier.

OK, Conflucians, here’s a fun little exercise. We know that Hillary will have a good day today so how will the media sing her death knell? Last night, Hardball raised expectations for her to stratospheric heights. If she doesn’t trounce him by 35 points in both states, she’s a loser. For some reason, they’ve also got it into their pinheads that she’s looking for a VP position if she doesn’t win North Carolina. That’s some mind reading because, to *me*, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Why would tbe more qualified person want to take second place to a guy she’s beaten in the primaries? Oh, I forgot. Guam was an Obama win so it counts. Florida and Michigan were Clinton wins so they don’t. All’s right with the world.

So, predict the spin tonight. Will it be, “Now that she’s won Indiana and held Obama to a single digit win in North Carolina, her campaign must be trying to figure out how to concede gracefully. She can’t keep winning like this and actually expect the superdelegates to make her the nominee. Howard, what’s your take on this? Will she sweep the remaining primaries and THEN concede or will it be sooner than that?”

“Mitchellism”

I am coining a new term today.
Mitchellism: The tendency of the media to see American politics through its own eyes and to over value its impact on the voting public.

This tendency has been noted before by other bloggers who have referred to the Washington DC press corps and pundits as The Villagers, that self-selected authority of knowledge of what the voters will or will not tolerate. High-Brodersim is another variation and is the belief that the root of the problem in American politics is too much partisanship and if the Democrats would just sell out all of their beliefs and try to meet Republicans half way, there wouldn’t be any more fights and there would be unity and much rejoicing and we could all buy the world a Coke. Barack Obama is a disciple of High Broderism.

But Andrea Mitchell is the high priestess of cluelessly arrogant Mitchellism. This was brought home to me this morning when she snippily and half mockingly told Howard Wolfson that the gas tax idea was DOA in Congress, it would never get passed and anyway, the NYTimes had already weighed in on this issue and concluded that Hillary was insincere for even proposing it.

Wolfson deftly put her in her place by saying something like, (paraphrasing heavily) “A politician makes a proposal, it goes in front of the public, their representatives hash it out, public opinion gets shaped one way or another and things get voted on. It’s called Democracy, Andrea. You should look it up sometime.”

Ohh, SNAP! He told her. You should have heard it. It was a thing of beauty. Of course, it doesn’t fit with Andrea’s worldview where the responsibility of the media is to tell people what to think and how to vote. But I have noticed a curious thing happening this primary season. I don’t think the voters trust the media much these days. Just think about what happened in PA. Nearly every paper in the state endorsed Obama. And Hillary won by 10. Oh and then there was Massachusetts. Same thing. Obama, Obama, Obama! Voters said, “ehhhhh, not so much”. In fact, the media has relentlessly fluffed Obama. He literally can do nothing wrong. His campaign is crack, his family is beautiful, his every pronouncement stirring and inspirational. Yet, the voters stupidly go for Clinton over and over again.

Remember back in November and December of 2000? The media went all Chicken Little on us and told us the country would fall apart if Gore didn’t concede? And remember how the Weapons of Mass Destruction would rain down upon us in 45 minutes if we didn’t go into Iraq right now, RIGHT NOW, I SAY, and disarm Hussein? And how did both of those scenarios go? So, now, the media is starting to rev up the noise about how Clinton threatens the party and the country if she challenges the DNC at the convention (or before) on the resolution of the FL and MI delegations. I think Lincoln wisely remarked on fooling all of the people all of the time. There is a limit to how much of this stuff you can get away with and it has been reached. One of the most beneficial things that can come out of this protracted primary season is that we may finally be able to retire people like Andrea Mitchell, David Broder, Cokie Roberts and the other Villagers. Nobody’s listening to them anymore anyway.

Monday: The Homestretch

Today is going to be frantic. Hillary has added two new events in North Carolina. She’s probably got one of those Hermione Granger hourglass thingies where she can squeeze two lives into the same hour. What’s really spooky is meeting yourself at the airport.

What does it say about the state of the race in NC that she is adding events there? Obama is doing the same, by the way. To this semi-amateur politician (I *did* win a school board election. /snark), it sounds like there are numbers that show it really close. Maybe she can’t win it but she can shave enough points off of his lead so that his aura of invincibility is severely quashed,leaving WKJM and the OFB weak in the knees. Oh, zealots will always manage to tell themselves a new fantasy and regroup. The problem is, there may not be a sufficient supply of true believers in the other remaining primary states. The OFB may start to look like a bunch of left wingnuts pretty soon. I mean to the rest of the country. They’ve looked like that for awhile to us.

And here is where Obama may have made a fatal mistake: The Gas Tax. I don’t know who’s been giving Clinton advice lately but this was pretty, fricking brilliant. WE know that any gas tax holiday would be short term, made up with taxes on excess profits and those taxes could be structured to take the incentive out of manipulating the markets. The benefit to consumers would be small but not insignificant. And out comes Obama with an ad that essentially tells consumers to suck it up because Clinton is pandering to them. Then he offers them a tax cut. Bwahahahahah! I swear, Obama and his fanbase have no clue. They want so desperately to jettison the working class. They think they can win without them. We’ll see. One thing I know for sure: undecideds make up their minds based on the last thing they heard as they walk into that voting booth and Hillary always has a killer ad on the last day.

In other news, the Shrill One recaps recent efforts by the Fed’s Ben Bernanke to head off a financial meltdown in Success Breeds Failure. The problem is that in doing so, he gave the financial institutions in question enough strength to resist further reforms. It’s sort of like alcoholic co-dependence. If we could only figure out a way of isolating the institution in question and limit the damage to it and no one else…

This piece on NPR this morning about Mazdar City in the United Arab Emirates is very exciting. The UAE is partnering with MIT to design a city in the desert without a carbon footprint. Yeah, imagine that. Instead of spending billions of dollars to seize the oil fields, They’re planning on investing in a city that’s totally green.