PUMA = GOP Dirty Tricks

In the past month, Hillary Clinton dropped out of the Democratic Primary, endorsed Barack Obama and has begun campaigning to get him elected the next President of the United States.

Yet since then, a number of groups have popped up claiming to be made up of of Hillary supporters, yet pledging to do everything they can to defeat Barack Obama.

This doesn’t make any sense. If you were a Hillary supporter, you believe in things like providing more Americans health care, ending the war, fixing the economy, solving global warming, restoring America’s military strength and reputation abroad, etc. On these issues, Clinton and Obama’s positions are nearly identical; defeating Obama would mean electing McCain, who represents the same failed policies that we Democrats have been fighting since 2001.

Yet, these supposed Hillary supporters–for some reason–would rather see a President McCain than a President Obama. They love their candidate enough where they can’t bring themselves to vote for the candidate who defeated her, yet they don’t love her enough to follow her lead and support Barack Obama.

Well, that’s because the founders of these groups aren’t Hillary supporters; they’re not even Democrats. Take Darragh Murphy, the founder of PUMA PAC. Rumproast did some digging on Murphy, and turned up some interesting facts:

Darragh…describes herself as a lifelong Democrat who thinks Obama is an “illegal candidate” and invites others to join her who have been “disheartened, discouraged, or disgusted by the actions and inactions, the divisiveness and discriminations of the Democratic party, the press, the mainstream blogs, and many political leaders.”

Now, if you search for Darragh Murphy in the FEC database, this is what you find:

MURPHY, DARRAGH C.
CARLISLE VALLEY, MA 01741
HOMEMAKER

MCCAIN, JOHN S.
VIA MCCAIN 2000 INC
02/28/2000 500.00 20990076175

Yeah, that’s right. This supposed lifelong Democrat’s only political contribution in the FEC’s database is a $500 donation to John McCain in 2000.

Rumproast published her response:

Thank you as well for reminding me that I DID EVERYTHING I COULD in 2000 to prevent GEORGE BUSH from becoming the Republican nominee, including donating money to McCain’s campaign and voting for him in the Republican primary here in Massachusetts because I was confident that my hero, AL GORE, would win the primary for the Democrats.

I then went on to vote for Al in November of course. And WE ALL know how THAT turned out.

Now, if you were a lifelong Democrat who thought Al Gore was going to win 2000, why would you bother getting involved in the GOP primary? Why would you donate $500–a sizable sum–just for the sake of sinking a potential nominee for the other party?

Plus, in 2000, McCain was seen as far bigger threat to the Democrats than George Bush–Bush was a little-known Governor from Texas, while McCain was, at the time, known for being a reform-minded moderate and a Vietnam war hero to boot.

Also note that Murphy didn’t give a penny to her “hero” Al Gore–not in the primary, and not in the general, not at any time.

Also, note that she says she voted for McCain in the primary–last time I checked, Massachusetts has a closed primary. You have to either be a registered Republican or not registered with any party to vote–now, why wouldn’t a self-described “lifelong Democrat” be registered as a Democrat?

Face it, Darragh Murphy’s story doesn’t hold up. The facts say she’s a diehard McCain supporter, manipulating people’s emotions to trick disaffected Democrats into voting against their beliefs. The vast majority of groups like PUMA–supposedly made up of Hillary supporters who are refusing to support Obama–are nothing but GOP dirty tricks.

Unfortunately for them, we Democrats are too smart to fall for GOP manipulations; the quicker these Republican phonies are exposed, the easier it will be to bring everyone together to defeat John McCain and to end George Bush’s failed policies.

A Place Called Unity

Today’s Electoral Map (From FiveThirtyEight): Obama 319.9 EV ; McCain 218.1 EV

The Washington Post reports:

Obama and Clinton will travel to the town of Unity, N.H. — which gave each candidate 107 votes in its January primary — this morning for their first public appearance together.

[…]

Yet both campaigns said that the planning of the Unity event has been smooth, with Mo Elleithee, a Clinton spokesman, and Kim Molstre, a scheduler, handling much of the back-and-forth on behalf of the shuttered campaign.

Donors said they have found similar signs of progress. Kirk Wagar, a top Florida fundraiser for Obama, said that he has “been shocked at how quickly a lot of my friends who were helping Senator Clinton have come on board” and that “I would like to think our folks would have gone as quickly, but I don’t know that.”

He added: “It’s been a lot less bumpy than I expected.”

Longtime Clinton fundraiser Robert Zimmerman also said he has seen progress over the past few weeks.

“Look, you don’t achieve energy and excitement through a press release or a sound bite or a rally. It takes time,” he said. “I have never seen a candidate work as hard as Hillary has to build unity.”

Zimmerman said that he has spoken with Obama advisers and that he thinks they are sincere in their desire to see him and others join the campaign.

“I think they’re clearly making efforts,” he said. “From my discussions, they are very committed to including the Clinton fundraisers. It’s funny: The stakes are so high, and the choice is so clear, that it’s now beyond partisan politics. It’s really about changing the direction of the country. Everyone is really pulling together. Every day, I see new examples of that.

“Everyone has checked their egos at the door.”

Our nation stands at a crossroads. Either we will go right and continue the failed policies of George W. Bush and his Republican Party, or we will go left and usher in a new era of change in progress in this great country of ours.

Changing the future of a nation isn’t easy. We’re going to need all the help we can get–we’re going to need every change-minded, conscientious American working hard to get this done. America is hungry for change, and the first stop down the road to fixing this great country of ours is right in Unity, New Hampshire.

You can watch the event live on CSPAN.

SCOTUS Overturns DC Gun Ban (UPDATED)

Today’s Electoral Map (from FiveThirtyEight):  Obama 342.6 EV ; McCain 195.4 EV

ABC reports:

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the District of Columbia cannot ban a citizen from keeping a handgun at home, throwing out one of the nation’s strictest gun control laws.

Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said that the Constitution protects an individual’s right to keep and carry a gun. The decision will affect gun control laws across the country.

“We hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession in the home violated the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense.”

Personally, I agree with the ruling–the second amendment is part of the Constutituon, and it guarantees individual American citizens the right to own firearms.  Of course–like with many of our constitutional rights–we accept reasonable limits on that right, but the basic constitutional guarantee cannot be denied.

Of course, I hope the Supreme Court is as willing to uphold all our other constitutional rights as they are willing to uphold this one.  The Bush administration and their Republican cronies have taken away a lot of rights I and millions of other Americans want to see restored.

UPDATE: TPM reports that both Obama and McCain agree with the SCOTUS ruling, though on different grounds. McCain tries to clumsily shoehorn an attack on Obama into his response, while Obama talks about the importance of upholding all of our constitutional rights.

McCain:

Today’s decision is a landmark victory for Second Amendment freedom in the United States. For this first time in the history of our Republic, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms was and is an individual right as intended by our Founding Fathers. I applaud this decision as well as the overturning of the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns and limitations on the ability to use firearms for self-defense.

Unlike Senator Obama, who refused to join me in signing a bipartisan amicus brief, I was pleased to express my support and call for the ruling issued today. Today’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller makes clear that other municipalities like Chicago that have banned handguns have infringed on the constitutional rights of Americans. Unlike the elitist view that believes Americans cling to guns out of bitterness, today’s ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right — sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly.

This ruling does not mark the end of our struggle against those who seek to limit the rights of law-abiding citizens. We must always remain vigilant in defense of our freedoms. But today, the Supreme Court ended forever the specious argument that the Second Amendment did not confer an individual right to keep and bear arms.

Obama:

I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms, but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through common-sense, effective safety measures. The Supreme Court has now endorsed that view, and while it ruled that the D.C. gun ban went too far, Justice Scalia himself acknowledged that this right is not absolute and subject to reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe. Today’s ruling, the first clear statement on this issue in 127 years, will provide much-needed guidance to local jurisdictions across the country.

As President, I will uphold the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun-owners, hunters, and sportsmen. I know that what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne. We can work together to enact common-sense laws, like closing the gun show loophole and improving our background check system, so that guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists or criminals. Today’s decision reinforces that if we act responsibly, we can both protect the constitutional right to bear arms and keep our communities and our children safe.

Setting The Record Straight

Today’s Electoral Map: Obama: 340.3 EV ; McCain: 197.7 EV

The McCain campaign is spinning hard and fast on Obama turning down the public financing system, and the media is—unfortunately—helping them along.

Most egregiously, the media is ignoring the fact that John McCain–during the primary–knowingly broke campaign finance laws. Here’s the short of it–McCain opted into public financing, tried to back out of public financing, was told by the (Republican-appointed) chairman of the FEC that he couldn’t back out, then broke the public financing spending limit with full knowledge that he was still bound by law to that limit. The DNC already filed a complaint with the FEC over this, and just today they filed a lawsuit over McCain’s apparent lawbreaking.

Second—and let’s be perfectly clear about this—Obama never pledged to take public financing. At no point during the campaign did he say he definitely would. John Wilson at The Huffington Post has a rundown of what Obama has said about his intentions regarding public financing–here’s part of it:

1. Even in February 2007, before Obama’s massive fundraising became evident, Obama’s staffers were explicit in stating that public financing in the general election was an “option” and not a commitment.

2. The March 2, 2007 New York Times reported Obama’s campaign saying that he would “aggressively pursue an agreement.”

So from the very beginning, the Obama campaign stated over and over again that public financing in general election would require an extensive agreement that went beyond merely having both parties accept the funding.

3. In response to a November 2007 questionnaire to the Midwest Democracy Network and Common Cause, Obama wrote: “My plan requires both major party candidates to agree on a fundraising truce, return excess money from donors, and stay within the public financing system for the general election….If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.”

[Emphases Added]

Obama wanted to work out an agreement with the Republican nominee that would involve both candidates taking public financing as well as setting and following a variety of other spending and fundraising guidelines. Unfortunately, McCain wasn’t interested in pursuing an agreement, and thus Obama’s plan to implement strict guidelines fell apart.

Let’s look at this from another angle. Let’s say the United States comes up with a preliminary plan in regards to North Korea–In exchange for North Korea dismantling their nuclear program, we would provide them with foreign aid. Now, let’s say that North Korea has no interest in negotiating and no interest in holding up their end of the bargain–in fact, instead of ending their nuclear program, they step it up. In that case, would we be required to give them the aid we promised?

Of course not, because our action was based on the other side meeting certain conditions that they refused to even consider. Thus, we’re not obligated to give them what we pledged, since it was conditional.

In this case, McCain had no interest in following Obama’s proposed guidelines. And that’s fine—he has the right to run his campaign however he wants, as long as it’s inside the law. But Obama’s plan was conditional–if McCain doesn’t want to hold up his end, he can’t expect Obama to do the same.

I can understand why John McCain and the Republicans are making an issue out of this–in all likelihood, Obama is going to raise huge amounts of money from his people-powered campaign, while McCain’s big-donor-based fundraising has left him coming up short. But just because it’s understandable doesn’t mean it’s right, and it doesn’t erase the GOP’s hypocricy–their candidate freely broke campaign finance laws, and now they’re dishonestly hitting their opponent for ‘breaking’ a ‘promise’ he never actually made.

Oil! (UPDATED)

Today’s electoral map: Obama: 332.8 EV ; McCain: 205.2 EV

Let’s talk about ANWR, which has become the latest Republican MacGuffin. They say that, if we approved drilling there, we could drive down the price of gas almost instantly.

Well, sorry to say, but once again the Republicans are lying to us. Let me tell you why.

ANWR stands for the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. What does that mean? Well, it means there’s nothing up there. There’s no infrastructure–no roads, no bridges, no electricity, no plumbing, no nothing; it’s barren tundra in the middle of nowhere in Alaska. Even if Congress passed a bill today authorizing drilling in ANWR, it would take years–the most conservative estimates say 5 years–before we could even start getting oil out of the ground.

Not only that, but it’ll take even more years for the oil companies in ANWR to reach peak drilling capacity., meaning that we’d have to wait anywhere from 5 to 10 years before the oil companies got any significant amount of oil out of ANWR.

But just how much oil is in ANWR, anyway? Well, according to conservatives like Jonah Goldberg, ANWR’s promise is 10 billion barrels. Sounds like a lot, right? Well, it turns out that the United States uses 20.73 million barrels a day. Do some math–10 billion divided by 20.73 million means that ANWR will give us enough oil to power the United States for 482 days, or 15 months. That’s right–ANWR only has enough oil to power the United States for a year and three months (and that’s assuming our oil consumption doesn’t increase between now and then.)

Not only that, but part of the problem is refining capacity–since 1985, the United States has only increased it’s refining capacity by 1.7 million barrels a day. In a country that uses 20.73 million barrels per day, that isn’t a lot of growth, especially when you consider that our oil consumption has increased exponentially since 1985. Remember, oil pulled up out of the ground is useless until it’s refined, and if we don’t have the capacity to refine more oil, it doesn’t matter how much drilling we approve.

Finally, there’s no guarantee any company drilling in ANWR will sell that oil to the United States. We can’t force them to sell us their oil unless we nationalize the Alaskan drilling operation. Short of such a drastic step, there’s always a chance another customer could come along and buy our ANWR oil right out from under us.

Look, drilling in ANWR is a band-aid solution pushed by politicians hoping to get big fat checks from Big Oil sometime before November. With the time and money we’d waste getting 15 months of oil out of ANWR, we could invest in renewable energy that will free us from our dependence on foreign oil and all oil, period. Tired of paying huge prices at the pump? Then tell the politicians in Washington to invest your tax dollars in renewable energy, because in the time we’d waste getting the first drop of oil out of ANWR, we could, instead, make the pumps themselves a thing of the past.

UPDATED: The NRDC gives us this graph:

DDay at Hullabaloo has this to say:

With the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, you’re talking about dropping the price of a barrel of oil between $0.50 and $2 over a 30-year time horizon when the price has gone up $100 since the beginning of the Bush Presidency. It’s the same for drilling offshore.

And Environmentalist at Daily Kos brings us this:

Between 1999 and 2007, the number of drilling permits issued for development of public lands increased by more than 361%. And did you see your gasoline costs drop? How about your electricity costs? Propane? natural gas? Uh…no. There is absolutely no correlation between the industrialization of public lands and the price of fossil fuels.

[Emphases Added]

UPDATE II: I used Goldberg’s estimation of how much oil was in ANWR because it was a gross overestimation; people who actually know what they’re talking about have found that there’s far less oil in ANWR than 10 billion barrels:

In all three ANWR resource cases, ANWR crude oil production begins in 2018 and grows during most of the projection period before production begins to decline. In the mean oil resource case, ANWR oil production peaks at 780,000 barrels per day in 2027. The low- resource-case production peaks at 510,000 barrels per day in 2028, while the high- resource-case production peaks at 1,450,000 barrels per day in 2028. Cumulative oil production resulting from the opening of ANWR from 2018 through 2030 amounts to 2.6 billion barrels in the mean resource case, 1.9 billion barrels in the low resource case, and 4.3 billion barrels in the high resource case.

I gave conservatives the benefit of the doubt in terms of how much oil is in ANWR for the purpose of my calculations, but keep in mind that the actual amount of oil there isn’t anywhere near their gross overestimations.

Changing The Map

Today’s Electoral Map: Obama 317.2 EV ; McCain 220.8 EV

And Electoral Vote has nearly the same numbers: Obama with 317 EV and McCain with 221.

Currently, Obama is winning all the states John Kerry won in 2004 (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, MD, DC, MI, IL, WI, MN, CA, WA & OR) as well as Ohio, Missouri, Colorado and New Mexico.

Ohio is no longer close–two recent polls show Obama with leads of at least 9%. Currently– depending on who you ask–Virginia is either a tie or gives a slight edge to Obama. Nevada is also a dead heat.

What we’re seeing here is Barack Obama delivering on his promise to change the electoral map.  Of course, a lot can–and will–change between now and November, but the fact that Obama has such a strong lead this early on is telling–at the same time in 2004, Electoral Vote showed Kerry losing to Bush 258 to 276 (the eventual result was 251 to 286).

I’m not going to be putting any champagne on ice anytime soon, but I will be prepared to work hard to get Barack Obama elected President.  We know it can happen–we see that the map can be changed.  And hopefully revelations like these will end the media’s myopic focus on last election’s swing states once and for all.

John McCain’s (Continuing) Lobbyist Problem (UPDATED)

The Public Campaign Action Fund has released a new report on John McCain.

And the findings aren’t pretty:

One hundred and eighteen lobbyists aiding McCain’s campaign have received $496 million in lobbying contracts from domestic clients since 1998.McCain has received $1.2 million from lobbyists, their spouses, and their firm’s political action committees, and his 70 lobbyist-bundlers have raised at least $4.15 million for him so far.McCain has received more than $8.9 million from his lobbyists’ clients and their affiliated PACs.

If nothing else, this proves that John McCain is politically tone-deaf. At a time when corrupt lobbyists like Jack Abramoff are going to jail for peddling influence, buying votes and ripping off the American people, John McCain can’t help but take lobbyist money hand-over-fist and hire lobbyists to run his Presidential campaign.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama is refusing money from federal lobbyists and special interest PACs, and he’s now he’s made sure the Democratic National Committee follows the same rules.

Isn’t it time we took special interest money out of politics? Isn’t it time to start putting the people ahead of lobbyists? Isn’t it time we rejected money-hungry politicians like John McCain?

UPDATE: Then there’s this:

The McCain campaign is strongly denying the paper’s reporting that in 2005, a White House National Security Council staffer called John McCain’s Senate office to complain that [McCain campaign manager] Rick Davis’ lobbying firm was “undercutting American policy on Ukraine” by representing a Kremlin-backed politician….

The story also raises the possibility that Davis’ firm may have violated the anti-espionage Foreign Agents Registration Act, by failing to register work for Yanukovich with the U.S. government….

If the account of the NSC staffer’s call is true, it suggests McCain should have known about the work by Davis’ business — but installed him as campaign manager anyway.

[Emphasis Added]