Monday, February 04, 2008

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST February 4, 2008

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From Ron Mills

In a two-person race, Obama has risen to a tie nationally in the latest CBS/NYT's poll:

Clinton 41
Obama 41
Undecided 14

Then there's the fine print (pdf), about their polling in the Feb 5th

Clinton 49
Obama 31
Undecided 16

This poll, as others, has quite a bit of undecideds. One other thing thepoll notes. 79 percent of Democrats couldn't care less about which Kennedyis endorsing whom. Among those that do think it matters and benefits Obamafor their vote (12), it's only 3 percent greater than those that see it as anegative (9).

Obama On Ted Kennedy:


The Oregonian

Obama wows them in red-state Idaho
14,000 pack a basketball arena to hear the charismatic Democratic candidate

The Oregonian
Sunday, February 03, 2008

BOISE -- On a snowy morning in one of the most Republican states in thecountry, Democrat Barack Obama attracted more than 14,000 people to a packedbasketball arena Saturday for one of the largest rallies of his presidentialcampaign.

Idaho is one of the least consequential of the 22 states that will hold aDemocratic contest on Super Tuesday, but it has emerged as a target ofopportunity for Obama, who wants to win in enough states to keep rivalHillary Clinton from gaining unstoppable momentum.

His campaign has targeted the caucus states -- Idaho is one of five onTuesday -- where the fervor of a candidate's support can count as much asraw numbers.

That's been the story in Idaho, where a group of Obama supporters builtenough of an organization to persuade the national campaign to pour moneyand staff into the state. The Obama campaign hastily set up the rally earlythis week after he canceled a trip to Salt Lake City because it wouldconflict with the funeral of Mormon leader Gordon B. Hinckley. There aremany Mormons in Idaho, and Obama expressed condolences during his speechhere.

Despite an early morning snowstorm that left slick roads, supporters jammedthe streets around the 13,500-seat Taco Bell Arena at Boise State Universitymore than two hours before the rally began. At one point, the line to get instretched a half-mile, and organizers said as many as 2,000 people were leftoutside in the cold after the arena filled.

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Miami Herald

Obama, McCain lead in Georgia

Posted on Sun, Feb. 03, 2008

Senators John McCain of Arizona and Barack Obama of Illinois hold identicalsix percentage point leads in Georgia over former Massachusetts Gov. MittRomney and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, according to a new McClatchy-MSNBCpoll.

The poll, by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, found that McCain has a 33percent to 27 percent edge over Romney in the Republican contest, withformer Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee drawing 18 percent. In the Democraticrace, the poll found Obama leading Clinton, 47 percent to 41 percent.

However, the poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus fivepercent, also found that 17 percent of likely Georgia GOP voters areundecided, while 10 percent of likely Democratic voters in the state haven'tmade up their minds.

A new series of McClatchy-MSNBC polls found Obama and Clinton locked in anationwide battle for delegates to the Democratic National Convention.Although she trailed in Georgia, Clinton had the edge in three regionalsamplings - in Arizona and California in the West, Missouri in the Midwestand New Jersey in the East - heading into a coast-to-coast rush of primarieson Tuesday.

However, because even second-place finishers win delegates in Democraticprimaries, that regional taste of the 22 Democratic contests on Tuesdaysuggests that Clinton and Obama are both likely to emerge with big blocs ofdelegates and their battle far from over.

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Miami Herald

Clinton, McCain lead among Missouri voters

Posted on Sun, Feb. 03, 2008

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Illinois Sen. Barack Obama amongMissouri Democratic voters, and Arizona Sen. John McCain is ahead amongRepublicans, according to a new McClatchy-MSNBC poll.

Going into Tuesday's primary elections, Clinton leads Obama by 47 to 41percent, with 10 percent of Missouri Democratic voters saying they're stillundecided. McCain leads former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee by 37 to 27percent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is third with 24 percent, and11 percent of GOP voters remain undecided. The poll, by Mason-Dixon Polling& Research, has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

The poll suggests that the race remains fluid in Missouri, where voters havea long history of backing the winning candidate in presidential generalelections. One in four voters said they might change their minds beforevoting.

A new series of McClatchy-MSNBC polls found McCain also leading in all fourcorners of the country heading into a coast-to-coast rush of primaries onTuesday, and Clinton and Obama locked in a nationwide battle for delegatesto the Democratic National Convention.

"For the Republicans, McCain is clearly the frontrunner. He's ahead in everystate," said Brad Coker, the managing partner of Mason-Dixon Polling &Research.

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New York Times

Editorial: Late and Lame on Warming

February 4, 2008

Even allowing for the low expectations we bring to any lame-duck president'sfinal State of the Union address, President Bush's brief discussion ofclimate change seemed especially disconnected from reality: from theseriousness and urgency of the problem and from his own responsibility forobstructing progress.

His call for a new international agreement to address global warming wasdisingenuous, coming as it did from a president who rejected the KyotoProtocol as soon as he moved into the White House. His promise to work withother nations on new, low-carbon technologies is one he has been unveilingfor the last seven years.

We were told that Mr. Bush's thinking on global warming had evolved. Sothere were slim hopes that, after years of stonewalling, he might agree towork with Congress on a mandatory program of capping carbon emissions. Thatwould begin to address the problem at home and give the United States thecredibility it needs to press other major emitters like China to act. Nosuch luck. Mr. Bush remains wedded to a voluntary approach that has notinspired industry to take aggressive action.

Meanwhile, the stonewalling continues. Despite heavy pressure from Congressand many state governors, the Environmental Protection Agency shows no signof reversing its decision to prohibit California and more than a dozen otherstates from moving forward with aggressive measures to cut greenhouse gasemissions from automobiles.

Nor has the E.P.A. made any visible effort to comply with the Supreme Court's landmark decision last spring requiring the agency to begin regulatingcarbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. Mr. Bush said he would follow thecourt's order and the E.P.A. promised at least a draft of new regulations bylast fall. We are still waiting.

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New York Times

Op-Ed Columnist: Clinton, Obama, Insurance

February 4, 2008

The principal policy division between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obamainvolves health care. It's a division that can seem technical and obscure -and I've read many assertions that only the most wonkish care about the fineprint of their proposals.

But as I've tried to explain in previous columns, there really is a bigdifference between the candidates' approaches. And new research, justreleased, confirms what I've been saying: the difference between the planscould well be the difference between achieving universal health coverage - akey progressive goal - and falling far short.

Specifically, new estimates say that a plan resembling Mrs. Clinton's wouldcover almost twice as many of those now uninsured as a plan resembling Mr.Obama's - at only slightly higher cost.

Let's talk about how the plans compare.

Both plans require that private insurers offer policies to everyone,regardless of medical history. Both also allow people to buy intogovernment-offered insurance instead.

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New York Times

Op-Ed Columnist: Dyspepsia on the Right

February 4, 2008

The prospect of John McCain as the likely Republican presidential nomineehas produced a squall of anger on the right. Normally reserved columnistsand usually ebullient talk-radio hosts vie to express their disgust withMcCain, and their disdain for the Republicans who are about to nominate him.The conservative movement as a whole appears disgruntled and dyspeptic.

Now I have nothing against a certain amount of disgruntlement and dyspepsia.The ways of the world, and the decisions of our fellow Americans,occasionally warrant such a reaction.

But American politics tends to be unkind to movements that dwell in angerand relish their unhappiness. In the era from Franklin D. Roosevelt to JohnF. Kennedy, liberals tended to be happy warriors - and that helped theircause. The original civil rights movement succeeded in part because itworked hard to transcend a justifiable bitterness. Liberalism faltered whenit became endlessly aggrieved and visibly churlish.

The American conservative movement has been remarkably successful. Weshouldn't take that success for granted. It's not easy being a conservativemovement in a modern liberal democracy. It's not easy to rally a comfortableand commercial people to assume the responsibilities of a great power. It'snot easy to defend excellence in an egalitarian age. It's not easy toencourage self-reliance in the era of the welfare state. It's not easy tomake the case for the traditional virtues in the face of the seductions ofliberation, or to speak of duties in a world of rights and of honor in anation pursuing pleasure.

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New York Times

Editorial: Empty Olympic Promises

February 4, 2008

Six months out from the 2008 Olympics, China has jailed another inconvenientdissident. Hu Jia was dragged from his home by state police agents, and lastweek he was formally charged with inciting subversion. To earn the right tohost the Games, China promised to improve its human rights record. Instead,it appears determined to silence anyone who dares to tell the truth aboutits abuses.

Mr. Hu and his wife, Zeng Jinyan, are human rights activists who spent muchof 2006 restricted to their apartment. She used the power of the Internet toblog about life under detention while he wrote online about peasant protestsand human rights cases.

Mr. Hu's recent testimony, by telephone, to the European Parliament aboutOlympics-related rights violations may have been the last straw. Ms. Zengand the couple's two-month-old baby remain in their apartment under housearrest, with telephone and Internet connections now severed.

Improving its human rights record isn't China's only unmet commitment to theInternational Olympic Committee. It also promised to improve air quality.Now athletes and their coaches are figuring out how to spend as little timeas possible in China's smog-swamped capital, where they may need masks tobreathe.

Beijing also made empty commitments about press freedoms. China has failedto lift fully the reporting restrictions on foreign journalists, includinglimits on their ability to move freely about the country. Local journalistsare as restricted as ever. There has also been increased censorship of theInternet.

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New York Times

Editorial Observer: Michelle, Maria, Caroline and Oprah on the Hustings in

Los Angeles
February 4, 2008

Forty-eight hours before the closest thing America has ever had to anational primary, four extraordinary women put on the best campaign rally I've seen in 20 years of covering presidential politics.

The pitch-perfect event in U.C.L.A.'s basketball arena started like everyother Barack Obama event - chants of "yes we can" and signs pitching thepower of hope. Mr. Obama campaigned on the East Coast Sunday, but by thetime this rally ended, Michelle Obama, Caroline Kennedy, Oprah Winfrey andMaria Shriver had crystallized the challenge Senator Hillary Clinton willface if she wins the Democratic nomination. She will have to figure out howto preserve the energy and excitement that Mr. Obama has stirred in hissupporters, especially in once-alienated young voters.

The most recent poll here suggests that Mr. Obama has cut deeply into adouble-digit lead for Mrs. Clinton in the biggest delegate prize of Tuesday's primaries. Certainly, in that moment at the rally, the Obama campaign seemedto have a monopoly on what is hip, young and glamorous in California.

Before the event got into full swing, giant screens showed a video of the Black Eyed Peas. A visually diverse lineup of stars - theactresses Scarlett Johansson and Amber Valletta; the rapper Common; thesinger John Legend; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - recited and sang along with a filmof Mr. Obama's speech the night he lost the New Hampshire primary.

The crowd was screaming with delight when it saw Ms. Kennedy, who broughther uncle Senator Edward Kennedy and now, remarkably, her cousin Ms.Shriver, wife of Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, into the Obamacampaign.

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New York Times

All You Need Is Hate

Tags: Hillary Clinton
February 3, 2008, 8:02 pm

I have been thinking about writing this column for some time, but I havehesitated because of a fear that it would advance the agenda that is itstarget. That is the agenda of Hillary Clinton-hating.

Its existence is hardly news - it is routinely referred to by commentatorson the present campaign and it has been documented in essays and books - butthe details of it can still startle when you encounter them up close. In theJanuary issue of GQ, Jason Horowitz described the world of Hillary haters,many of whom he has interviewed. Horowitz finds that the hostilecharacterizations of Clinton do not add up to a coherent account of herhatefulness. She is vilified for being a feminist and for not being one, forbeing an extreme leftist and for being a "warmongering hawk," for beinggodless and for being "frighteningly fundamentalist," for being the victimof her husband's peccadilloes and for enabling them. "She is," Horowitzconcludes, "an empty vessel into which [her detractors] can pour everythingthey detest." (In this she is the counterpart of George W. Bush, who servesmuch the same function for many liberals.)

This is not to say that there are no rational, well-considered reasons foropposing Clinton's candidacy. You may dislike her policies (which she hasnot been reluctant to explain in great detail). You may not be able to getpast her vote to authorize the Iraq war. You may think her personalityunsuited to the tasks of inspiring and uniting the American people. You maybelieve that if this is truly a change election, she is not the one to bringabout real change.

But the people and groups Horowitz surveys have brought criticism of Clintonto what sportswriters call "the next level," in this case to the level ofpersonal vituperation unconnected to, and often unconcerned with, the facts.These people are obsessed with things like her hair styles, the "strangeness" of her eyes - "Analysis of Clinton's eyes is a favorite motifamong her most rabid adversaries" - and they retail and recycle items fromwhat Horowitz calls "The Crazy Files": she's Osama bin Laden's candidate;she kills cats; she's a witch (this is not meant metaphorically).

But this list, however loony-tunes it may be, does not begin to touch thecraziness of the hardcore members of this cult. Back in November, I wrote acolumn on Clinton's response to a question about giving driver's licenses toillegal immigrants. My reward was to pick up an e-mail pal who has to datesent me 24 lengthy documents culled from what he calls his "Hillary File."

If you take that file on faith, Hillary Clinton is a murderer, a burglar, adestroyer of property, a blackmailer, a psychological rapist, a white-collarcriminal, an adulteress, a blasphemer, a liar, the proprietor of a secretpolice, a predatory lender, a misogynist, a witness tamperer, a streetcriminal, a criminal intimidator, a harasser and a sociopath. Theseaccusations are "supported" by innuendo, tortured logic, strainedconclusions and photographs that are declared to tell their own story, butdon't.

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Forwarded from Ron Mills

California Primary Preferences


Someone else6%

Among men, Barack Obama is at 45% and Hillary Clinton is at 44%. Amongwomen, Clinton is at 50% and Obama is at 34%. Clinton leads among whitevoters 50% to 38% and among Hispanic voters 57% to 23%. Obama leads amongblack voters 71% to 15%. 9% of likely Democratic primary voters inCalifornia say they would never vote for Clinton in the primary and 9% saythey would never vote for Obama.


New York Times

Male Circumcision No Aid to Women in Study

February 4, 2008

BOSTON - A number of studies showing that circumcision among men reducestheir risk of infection from the AIDS virus has raised the hope that theprocedure would also benefit their female sexual partners.

But the expectations were challenged Sunday by a new study showing that malecircumcision conferred no indirect benefit to the female partners and,indeed, increased the risk if the couples resumed sex before thecircumcision wound was fully healed, usually in about a month.

The study did confirm the benefit of male circumcision in lowering theincidence of herpes and other genital ulcers among men.

Findings of the study, which was conducted in an area of high incidence ofH.I.V., the AIDS virus, were reported at the 15th Conference on Retrovirusesand Opportunistic Infections. Although the findings did not reachstatistical significance, they still underscore the need for more effectiveeducation among men who undergo circumcision and their female partners, theauthors of the study said.

The study - conducted by the same team of researchers from Johns Hopkins andUganda who had shown circumcision's benefits among men in earlier studies -is believed to be the first clinical trial to provide scientific data on theeffects on women of circumcision in their male partners.

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Washington Post

Huckabee Rejects Spoiler Role, Vows to Continue Race

By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 4, 2008; A07

Facing heat from backers of Mitt Romney, who say his continued presence inthe race for the GOP nomination will hand that prize to Sen. John McCain,Mike Huckabee is not standing down.

Desperate to stay relevant in this contest, the former Arkansas governor isinstead dialing up his attacks on Romney and largely ignoring McCain, eventhough the latter has emerged as the clear GOP front-runner heading intoSuper Tuesday.

"Let me explain something to Mr. Romney and his supporters," Huckabee told acrowd in Huntsville, Ala., on Saturday morning. "It ain't the size of thedog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog, and there's a lotof fight left in this dog."

In Macon, Ga., yesterday, Huckabee noted that his poll numbers in Southernstates are stronger than Romney's.

"Romney's arrogance is offensive to my supporters and serves only to firethem and me up," Huckabee said. "We're even more determined to fight andwin."

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Washington Post

Some non-Christians feel left out of election

By Ed Stoddard
Sunday, February 3, 2008; 8:48 AM

DALLAS (Reuters) - In a U.S. election campaign where presidential candidatesfrom both major parties have talked openly about their Christian faith, somenon-Christians feel shut out or turned off.

Despite the constitutional separation of church and state, religion plays abig and sometimes decisive role in politics in America, where levels ofbelief and regular worship are far higher than those in Europe.

"Non-Christians are concerned that they will be excluded from the process,"said Ahmed Rehab, a spokesman with the Council on American-IslamicRelations.

"I welcome faith values if they inspire candidates to do good things. But Iworry if it is used as a litmus test to include someone in politicalparticipation."

About 75 percent of the U.S. population, long a melting pot of immigrantsfrom around the world, identifies itself as Christian, according to severalestimates.

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Pastor may help swing votes of Latino evangelicals

Posted on Sun, Feb. 03, 2008

From his office in Sacramento, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez has become thego-to pastor for presidential candidates seeking the votes of Latinoevangelicals.

Republican hopefuls Sen. John McCain and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabeehave sought the support of the president of the 18,000-church NationalHispanic Christian Leadership Conference. An aide to former MassachusettsGov. Mitt Romney also put in a call.

The Assemblies of God pastor has also talked to the Democratic campaigns ofSens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Newsweek magazine recently includedhim in its list of new leaders to watch.

"I'm being courted by a number of candidates, but it's not Samuel Rodriguezthey're courting, it's me as a symbol of the growing number of Latinoevangelicals," said Rodriguez who grew up in Pennsylvania and moved toSacramento in 2000 to found the conference.

Not only are Latinos the fastest-growing share of the electorate, they'rethe fastest-growing group of evangelicals. At least 8 million Latinosidentify themselves as evangelicals, according to the Pew Forum on Religion& Public Life.

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Washington Post

Obama vs. the Phobocracy

By Michael Chabon
Monday, February 4, 2008; 12:00 AM

There are many reasons not to support Barack Obama's candidacy forpresident, but every one of them is bad for the same reason.

Because I have come out publicly for the senator from Illinois, I am oftencalled upon to listen as people offer up -- with wistfulness and regret, orwith a pundit's show of certainty, or with a well-earned but uselessskepticism -- their bad reasons for not giving Obama their support. For along time now, I have listened to these people with forbearance and with asense of duty -- not to some principle of open debate or of the inherentmerit in the free exchange of even meritless ideas, but rather out ofobligation to the candidate whose cause I champion.

Because Obama appears to be a patient, forbearing man with a gift forlistening, I figured I owed it to him to play the thing his way. So I havenodded and looked into their eyes and hummed sympathetically as people gavetheir reasons and made their excuses and generally offered up, as if theywere golden ingots of profound wisdom, the handful of two-penny nails withwhich they plan to board up the windows of their hopes for themselves, theirfamilies, their country and the world.

But now, with everything seeming to come down, at last, to the first Tuesdayin February, and in the wake of an all-out, months-long push by the cynicismindustry to cook up an entire line of bad reasons ready to heat and serve, Iadmit that I'm getting tired of listening to rationales from people who knowthat Obama is a remarkable, even an extraordinary politician, the kind whocomes along, in this era of snakes and empty smiles, no more than once ageneration.

Oh, sure, most of these people tell me they would like to see Obama becomepresident. No question, he comes off as at once brilliant and sensible,vibrant and measured, engaged and engaging, talented, forthright,quick-witted, passionate, thoughtful and, as with all remarkable people whomexperience has taught both the extent and the bitter limits of their gifts,reasonably humble. In a better world, people tell me, in theory, sure,having a president like Barack Obama sounds great. But not, you know, forreal. Not in the base, corrupt, morally spent, toxic and reeling rats' nestthat we like to call home. Things are so bad we just can't afford to wasteour votes, people tell me, on some fantasy super-president with magicalpowers. We need someone electable, someone, as I have been told repeatedlyin the past year, who can win.

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Washington Post

Hillary vs. the Patriarchy

By Erica Jong
Monday, February 4, 2008; 12:00 AM

"Look, the only people for Hillary Clinton are the Democratic establishmentand white women," said Bill Kristol yesterday on Fox News Sunday, one of themany "news" outlets to expose Kristol's reliable sexism. "The Democraticestablishment would be crazy to follow an establishment that led it todefeat year after year," Kristol continued in his woolly, repetitive style."White women are a problem, you know. We all live with that."

Bill Kristol has been much criticized for his war mongering, arrogance, poorwriting and lack of fact checking. But at least the guy is honest. Heconsiders women a problem -- especially white women. And he feels confidentenough as an alpha male to be open about it. "I shouldn't have said that,"he demurred. But he can say anything he likes and still fall eternallyupward. He's a white man, lord of all he surveys -- including Hillary RodhamClinton.

I, too, have been watching Hillary Clinton with admiration, love, hate,annoyance and empathy since she appeared on the national scene 16 years ago.(Can it be only16 years?) I've had a hard time making up my mind about her.Perhaps that's because I identify with her so strongly.

I'm hardly the only woman who sees my life mirrored in hers. She's alwaysworked twice as hard to get half as far as the men around her. She endured ademanding Republican father she could seldom please and a brilliant,straying husband who played around with bimbos. She was clearly hisintellectual soul mate, but the women he chased were dumb and dumber.

Nothing she did was ever enough to stop her detractors. Supporting apolitician husband by being a successful lawyer, raising a terrificdaughter, saving her marriage when the love of her life publicly humiliatedher -- these are things that would be considered enormously admirable inmost politicians and public figures. But because she's a white woman, she'sbeen pilloried for them.

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Washington Post

Democratic Stalemate

By Robert D. Novak
Monday, February 4, 2008; A21

Terrence McAuliffe, the multimillionaire wheeler-dealer imposed by theClintons on the Democratic National Committee as its chairman after the 2000election, quickly paid back his benefactors. He designed a front-loadedprimary system intended to confirm Sen. Hillary Clinton as the party'spresidential nominee by Feb. 5. Contrary to expectations, however, no choicewill be made for months, and perhaps not until the national convention atDenver in late August.

There is no mathematical possibility of tomorrow's Mega-Tuesday Democraticballoting for 1,681 delegates in 22 states -- labeled the first "national"primary -- giving either Clinton or Sen. Barack Obama close to the 2,025delegates necessary for nomination. That unexpected reality is produced byObama's appeal, Clinton fatigue and the extreme proportional representationused by the Democratic Party.

The nation's two major political parties have reverted to form afterappearing to have exchanged identities. A year ago, Democrats seemed to beemulating Republican practice in settling for an early anointed candidate,Clinton, while the divided GOP field resembled historical Democraticpractice in the absence of an incumbent president. Now Republicans, whotraditionally abhor competition, are ready to crown Sen. John McCain astheir nominee tomorrow. Democrats will still be battling.

The full consequences of adopting proportional representation three decadesago finally will be realized by the Democratic Party. In 1972, supporters ofHubert Humphrey protested George McGovern's winner-take-all capture of thehuge California delegation, which clinched the presidential nomination.Appalled at being called majoritarians, McGovernite liberals adoptedproportional representation. For three decades, Democrats avoided having itcreate a stalemate, with the absence of a prolonged two-candidate contest.

Under proportional representation, a candidate collects delegates byachieving a 15 percent viability level either statewide or in acongressional district. In a four-delegate district, Clinton could win 59percent of the vote and still split the delegates with Obama, two to two.The impact of California consequently will be dissipated in view of pollsshowing Clinton's formerly double-digit lead erased. Although she may stillwin handily in New York and New Jersey, Obama will be first in Illinois andsmaller states and is strong in barometric Missouri. So the supposednational primary will settle nothing.

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Washington Post

The California Waiver
The EPA administrator's decision was wrong.

Monday, February 4, 2008; A20

ENVIRONMENTAL Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson didn't winany friends and influenced no one during a recent Senate hearing on hisdecision to deny California a waiver to implement its tough tailpipeemissions law. Claiming executive privilege because of a lawsuit filed bythe Golden State, he sent to the Environment and Public Works Committeepapers that were covered in redaction tape. In addition, Mr. Johnson wasevasive in acknowledging that global warming was a "major crisis" andinsisted on sticking to one talking point: that climate change was not"unique and exclusive" to California and, therefore, a waiver was notwarranted.

The irascible Mr. Johnson is relying on what is, at best, a legaltechnicality to justify bad policy. Because its tough laws on pollution frommotor vehicles predate those stipulated in the Clean Air Act, California wasgiven the authority to craft its own restrictions (and other states areallowed to follow). For the laws to take effect, California must get awaiver from the EPA. The administrator can reject the waiver request only ifthe state regulations are not as stringent as federal laws, he deems theregulations arbitrary or he determines that California "does not need suchState standards to meet compelling and extraordinary conditions."

We intentionally quote the law because it was Mr. Johnson's frequent use of"unique and exclusive" instead of "compelling and extraordinary" during histestimony that has critics claiming that he is acting outside the scope ofthe law. The courts will decide whether this is the case. Nevertheless, webelieve Mr. Johnson's decision was wrong.

Maryland and 10 other states have adopted California's plan to slashtailpipe emissions from cars and light trucks 30 percent by 2016, startingwith the 2009 model year. Their effort to regulate greenhouse gas emissionshas been backed up by decisions from high courts in Vermont and Californiaand the U.S. Supreme Court, which ordered the EPA to regulate thoseemissions because of their contribution to global warming.

The urgency to address climate change has been lost on the Bushadministration. Even when a presentation to Mr. Johnson by the EPA's careerstaff noted that "California continues to have compelling and extraordinaryconditions" that "are vulnerable to climate change conditions" and that theagency was "likely to lose" a court challenge if the waiver was not granted,the 27-year EPA veteran ignored his staff's counsel.

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Washington Post

Bush Unveils $3.1 Trillion Spending Plan

The Associated Press
Monday, February 4, 2008; 9:58 AM

WASHINGTON -- President Bush unveiled a $3.1 trillion budget on Monday thatsupports sizable increases in military spending to fight the war onterrorism and protects his signature tax cuts.

The spending proposal, which shows the government spending $3 trillion in a12-month period for the first time in history, squeezes most of governmentoutside of national security, and also seeks $196 billion in savings overthe next five years in the government's giant health care programs _Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor.

Even with those savings, Bush projects that the deficits, which had beendeclining, will soar to near-record levels, hitting $410 billion this yearand $407 billion in 2009. The all-time high deficit in dollar terms was $413billion in 2004.



More must be done for mental health of troops

February 4, 2008

ISSUE: Army sees increase in suicides.

The U.S. Army can truthfully say they've tried to do something about suicideamong soldiers.

They made changes to mental health programs after it was found that themilitary was failing to adequately screen troops with psychologicalproblems. There has been more training, more hiring of mental healthprofessionals, closer monitoring of troops on psychiatric medications.

All this, however, isn't enough.

In 2007, at least 121 soldiers committed suicide, an increase of 20 percentover the previous year. At least 30 U.S. soldiers killed themselves in Iraq.

Obviously, troops are in stressful situations. But it is not just the stressof actual combat causing the uptick in suicides.

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Miami Herald

Get ready for new rules for U.S. entry

Posted on Mon, Feb. 04, 2008

Many Americans may be surprised to discover that one of the first measuresto come out of the national debate over immigration and the plight of ourbroken borders is having the most significant impact not on immigrants, buton U.S. citizens. We refer to new border-crossing rules that went intoeffect last week. They tighten the ID requirements for Americans coming backinto the country. The rules no doubt will test the patience of those caughtunawares -- but they will have to get used to it. If anything, IDrequirements in the future will only get tougher.

Proof of citizenship

Until last Thursday, Americans who routinely crossed the border or enteredthe United States by land or sea could gain entry merely by showing an IDcard and making a verbal declaration that they were U.S. citizens. If thatseemed credible to the inspector, they were allowed in. In a post-9/11world, this was not good enough for Congress or for Homeland SecuritySecretary Michael Chertoff, who said he was shocked to learn how lax therules were.

The new procedures require U.S. residents who are 19 or older to show proofof citizenship when seeking to enter the country through a land or sea portof entry -- including, of course, the Port of Miami. A passport willsuffice, or, barring that, a driver's license or state-issued ID card, plusa birth certificate.

We sympathize with border-state residents annoyed by these requirements. Itcomplicates their lives and could lead to traffic jams and other delays. Butwe also note that things have gone smoothly in the first few days. HomelandSecurity officials say that no U.S. citizen unaware of the new requirementswill be turned away at the border.

Mr. Chertoff noted that, over the years, more than 8,000 differentdocuments -- including library cards -- have been used to enter the UnitedStates. In a post-9/11 world, that is unacceptable. The government has aduty to make it harder, if not impossible, for anyone trying to sneak intothe country using fake documents. By June of 2009, even the new rules willbe obsolete, and anyone trying to cross the border will have to show eithera passport or the new, smaller ''passport card'' that includes securityfeatures.

Can't have it both ways

Our support for this measure does not lessen our concerns about a relatedlaw referred to as ''Real ID.'' It requires states to produce standardized,tamper-proof identity cards and driver's licenses by 2014. This measureraises privacy issues and has been opposed by some states because the cardswill be expensive to produce. Congress should look to amend this law.Ultimately, though, U.S. citizens can't have it both ways: If they want tostrengthen U.S. borders and national security, they'll have to put up withstronger ID rules.


Miami Herald

The media's Bill Clinton problem

Posted on Mon, Feb. 04, 2008

For news media, the emergence of Bill Clinton as a key public player in thepresidential campaign of his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, raises unusualcoverage issues.

The most obvious, and the easiest to fix, is the problem of even-handedness.The former president is a celebrity of the first order. No other U.S.politician, active or retired, commands the crowds and media that heroutinely draws. So any news cycle in which he's stumping is likely tofeature not just a story about Sen. Clinton, but one about him too, hencedouble the coverage her opponents get.

Not that media attention is otherwise precisely balanced, but theex-president brings an unusually heavy finger to the scale. So the medianeed to compensate. If the campaign were a debate the solution would besimple: Bill's time comes out of Hillary's. That's the same principle themedia need to apply in getting toward even-handedness in coverage.

But the more perplexing problem, and the one that the media have only slowlybegun to address, is in figuring out just what Bill Clinton's public statusnow is, and what kind of scrutiny he -- and his own record -- ought to besubjected to.

This country treats former presidents very well indeed. They get materialease, lifetime staff and guards at public expense, and a license to get asrich as they like speaking, writing, golfing, sitting on boards,accessorizing the elites of the world.

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