Must-see VoteVets.org video

In this ad from VoteVets.org, Iraq War veterans - people who have actually been to Iraq and know firsthand what the situation is like - note that supporting the troops and opposing the escalation go hand in hand.

"If you support escalation, then you don't support the troops." How true.


Ehlers: State of the Union "focused on issues and answers"

While many Republicans distance themselves from President Bush, Congressman Vern Ehlers is choosing not to.

"President Bush gave a good speech tonight that focused on issues and answers and stayed away from partisanship and divisions. It is my hope that the members of Congress who listened to the speech can take that spirit of cooperation, set aside partisan differences and work to move our nation forward.

"I was especially heartened by the President’s call to strengthen the math and science skills of our children. Since joining Congress, one of my top priorities has been to improve the math and science standards in our nation’s schools. I agree with the President about the importance of ensuring that our children receive the best education and training possible to equip them for the jobs of the future. This will allow our nation to remain competitive in the world economy. I also look forward to working with the President on his pledge to review and improve the No Child Left Behind Act, as I serve on the Education & Labor Committee, which has jurisdiction on this important legislation.

"I agree with President Bush about the necessity for our nation to reduce its dependence on foreign oil. Although I may not agree with all of his solutions, we certainly agree on the need to develop alternatives to fossil fuels. His proposal to reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent over the next 10 years is a laudable goal – and one that we can achieve if we truly dedicate ourselves to it. I personally look forward to the opportunity to work to make this goal a reality."

"Finally, I appreciate the President’s call to seek ways to provide health care insurance to the 47 million Americans who don’t have it. There are promising initiatives in the states, particularly Gov. Mitt Romney’s plan in Massachusetts and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal in California. I hope President Bush and Congress pursue this goal and that, together, we can reach a solution."

For what it's worth: Romney is a likely contender for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination.


Kerry won't run again in 2008

It looks like the Democrats' 2004 nominee won't try again:

Democratic Sen. John Kerry, who fell 118,601 Ohio votes short of the White House in 2004, said Wednesday he will not run for president in 2008.

"We came close ... certainly close enough to be tempted to try again," the Massachusetts senator said, recalling his defeat.

"There are powerful reasons to want to continue that fight now. But I have concluded this isn't the time for me to mount a presidential campaign."

His decision leaves a field of nine Democrats running or signaling their intention to do so, including Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, and John Edwards, Kerry's 2004 vice presidential running mate.
Many people are glad Kerry won't run again because he's been our nominee and he wasn't successful, so it's time for someone new. The fact that he lost the election is not what bothers me; the fact that he lost to Bush - and the numerous less-than-intelligent things he has said - do bother me.

Kerry's many slips of the tongue include his 'botched joke' just before the 2004 elections, calling Green Bay's Lambeau Field 'Lambert Field,' and saying he "voted for the $87 billion before I vboted against it." With all due respect to Kerry, he is, quite frankly, one of the more embarrassing Democrats today.


Newsweek poll: 2008 race is a toss-up; Americans trust Democrats and want change in Iraq

Newsweek's numbers don't lie.

When Americans were asked if they would rather see a Democrat or a Republican in the White House two years from now, Democrats lead by 21%. However, when you add names to the mix, it's very close: Hillary leads John 'Surge' McCain - I mean, John Sidney McCain - by one point, while Obama leads McCain by two points and Edwards by five. Giuliani beats Hillary by a point and Obama by two, while Edwards outpolls Rudy by three.

No surprise, Bush's approval rating is 31%. (Then how the heck do 41% believe he's a strong and ethical leader???) On another note, while only 36% approve of how the new Democratic-controlled Congress is doing, just 23% disapprove.

Regarding Iraq: By a nearly 2:1 ratio, voters trust Democrats to make better decisions on Iraq than Bush. They also believe, by a nearly 3:1 ratio, that the US is losing ground in Iraq, and by a more than 2:1 ratio they say the Iraq War has not made America safer from terrorism. And of course, America continues to say no to the surge.

Got that, Washington?


Bits of Tid: January 20, 2007

Every so often I come across news items that I want to include in this blog, but I don't feel deserve their own separate entry. Plus, I occasionally see a few cool links on the web that I also believe don't deserve their own blog entry. Bits of Tid is the name I have chosen for my new periodical series that focuses on these news items and other sorts of fun info. ('Bits of Tid' comes from separating the word 'tidbits' into two seperate syllables - 'tid bits' - and adding the word 'of.')

And with 731 days (exactly two years - including the leap day on 2/29/08) left until America gets a new president, I am pleased to launch the first ever edition of Bits of Tid!

  • First of all, as you can tell I have finally fulfilled the promise I made last month and revamped this blog. No longer is it named Scott Does Politics; earlier this week I renamed it Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Scott. That is taken from a couple of LiberalLucy's suggestions. I have also changed the template and added a few links on the sidebar. Hope you enjoy it!

  • One of the new links is the new 'watch blog' I started a few weeks ago focusing on US Rep. Vern Ehlers. I am collaborating with a few other writers from the Grand Rapids area in Eye on Ehlers.

  • Matt (from CMU's College Dems) and I worked hard yesterday to start the new blog of CMU's College Democrats, Blue Chips ('Blue' for Democratic Blue and 'Chips' for Chippewas).

  • Speaker Pelosi's website discusses the accomplishments Democrats have made since taking charge. They got through their 100 hour plan in less than fifty hours!

  • Either Wesley Clark, Aaron Gandhi, or Sanjay Gupta will likely come to CMU soon. (BTW: Here's CM Life's writeup of Jesse Jackson's visit on Tuesday.)

  • I would like to buy a digital camera in the not-too-distant future. If you hve any suggestions as to what kind to get or where to get one, please share.

Senators Clinton, Obama, and Brownback are in

Exactly two years remain until our 44th President is sworn in. Declaring that "America's future is calling us," Hillary Rodham Clinton has launched her campaign to be the one who takes that oath of office on January 20, 2009:

I grew up in a middle-class family in the middle of America, where I learned that we could overcome every obstacle we face if we work together and stay true to our values.

I have worked on issues critical to our country almost all my life. I've fought for children for more than 30 years. In Arkansas, I pushed for education reform. As First Lady, I helped to expand health care coverage to millions of children and to pass legislation that dramatically increased adoptions. I also traveled to China to affirm that women's rights are human rights.

And in the Senate, I have worked across party lines to get billions more for children's health care, to stop the president's plan to privatize Social Security, and to make sure the victims and heroes of 9/11 and our men and women in uniform receive the fair treatment they deserve. In 2006, I led the successful fight to make Plan B contraception available to women without a prescription.

I have spent a lifetime opening opportunities for tens of millions who are working hard to raise a family: new immigrants, families living in poverty, people who have no health care or face an uncertain retirement.

Meanwhile, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) has also jumped in:

Sen. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, became the second member of Congress on Saturday to formally announce a run for the White House.

"Today my family and I are taking the first steps on the yellow brick road to the White House," said Brownback, referring to the sections of "The Wizard of Oz" -- the popular story with a Kansas theme.

Brownback -- the first Republican to declare his pursuit of the GOP presidential nomination in 2008 -- is strongly aligned with many positions of the religious right, including the stand that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

And just a few days ago, Barack Obama (D-IL) said he would take the plunge:

I certainly didn't expect to find myself in this position a year ago. But as I've spoken to many of you in my travels across the states these past months; as I've read your emails and read your letters; I've been struck by how hungry we all are for a different kind of politics.


We have to change our politics, and come together around our common interests and concerns as Americans.

This won't happen by itself. A change in our politics can only come from you; from people across our country who believe there's a better way and are willing to work for it.

Years ago, as a community organizer in Chicago, I learned that meaningful change always begins at the grassroots, and that engaged citizens working together can accomplish extraordinary things.

So even in the midst of the enormous challenges we face today, I have great faith and hope about the future - because I believe in you.


2008 Michigan statewide races

Cross-posted at Michigan Liberal

There's nothing wrong with thinking ahead. Here are the incumbents in statewide offices whose terms end in 2008.

Carl Levin (D) - Elected in 1978, last re-elected in 2002; Chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee; Foreign-relations and defense policy genius; named one of "America's 10 Best Senators" by TIME Magazine; longest-serving US Senator in Michigan history; brother of Congressman Sander Levin; all-around amazing guy

John C. Austin (D) - Elected in 2000; Senior fellow with the Brookings Institution; ran for Dem nomination for Secretary of State in 2002; possible rising star in our party?
Kathleen Strauss (D) - Elected in 1992, re-elected in 2000; President of the Board of Education since 2001; involved in numerous boards and groups

Laurence B. Deitch (D) - Elected in 1992, re-elected in 2000; attorney; former MDP treasurer
Rebecca McGowan (D) - formerly worked in offices of Senators Adlai Stevenson and Frank Church; senior staffer for VP Mondale and deputy director of his 1984 campaign

Dorothy V. Gonzales (D) - Elected in 1992, re-elected in 2000; former state House research analyst; former education policy advisor under Governor Blanchard
G. Scott Romney (R) - Appointed in August 2000, re-elected three months later; Son of former Governor George Romney; brother of Massachusetts Governor and possible 2008 Presidential candidate Mitt Romney

Paul Massaron (D) - Elected in 2000; Hyper-active with the UAW and AFL-CIO, including serving as a legislative director, Region 1-B International rep., and top aide to the UAW President
Jacqueline Washington (D) - Elected in 2000; Chairwoman of the Board of Governors; past president of Planned Parenthood of SE Michigan; Michigan Women's Hall of Fame inductee

SUPREME COURT (officially non-partisan):
Clifford Taylor (R) - Appointed in 1997, elected to partial term in 1998, elected to full term in 2000; Chief Justice since 2005


America says NO to Bush's proposed 'surge'

An AP poll says 70% of Americans say President Bush's proposed 'surge' in troops being sent to Iraq is a bad idea. That includes 56% of conservatives.

Wesley Clark thinks it's a bad idea:

The recent congressional elections - which turned over control of both houses to the Democrats - were largely a referendum on President Bush, and much of the vote reflected public dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq. Most Americans see the US effort as failing, and believe that some different course of action must be taken. Most favour withdrawing forces soon, if not immediately. The report of the Iraq Study Group is widely seen as a formal confirmation of US failure in Iraq.


What the surge would do, however, is put more American troops in harm's way, further undercut US forces' morale, and risk further alienation of elements of the Iraqi populace. American casualties would probably rise, at least temporarily, as more troops are on the streets; we saw this when the brigade from Alaska was extended and sent into Baghdad last summer. And even if the increased troop presence initially intimidates or frustrates the contending militias, it won't be long before they find ways to work around the obstacles to movement and neighbourhood searches, if they are still intent on pursuing the conflict. All of this is not much of an endorsement for a troop surge that will impose real pain on the already overstretched US forces.


The truth is that, however brutal the fighting in Iraq for our troops, the underlying problems are political. Vicious ethnic cleansing is under way right under the noses of our troops, as various factions fight for power and survival. In this environment security is unlikely to come from smothering the struggle with a blanket of forces - it cannot be smothered easily, for additional US efforts can stir additional resistance - but rather from more effective action to resolve the struggle at the political level. And the real danger of the troop surge is that it undercuts the urgency for the political effort. A new US ambassador might help, but, more fundamentally, the US and its allies need to proceed from a different approach within the region. The neocons' vision has failed.

So does John Edwards:

"George Bush's expected decision to adopt the McCain Doctrine and escalate the war in Iraq is a grave mistake.

"The new Congress must intercede to stop Bush from stubbornly sticking to the same failed course in Iraq and refuse to authorize funding for an escalation of troops. They should make it clear to the President that he will not get any money to put more of our troops in harm's way until he provides a plan to turn responsibility of Iraq over to the Iraqi people and to ultimately leave Iraq. George Bush wants to dig a deeper hole, but we need to climb out.

"The situation in Iraq demands a political solution — the Iraqi people must take responsibility for their country. Escalating the war in Iraq, which our own generals agree won't help, sends the wrong message to the Iraqi people, to the region, and the world. In order to get the Iraqis to take responsibility for their country, we must show them that we are serious about leaving, and the best way to do that is to actually start leaving and immediately withdraw 40–50,000 troops. Once the U.S. starts leaving, the Iraqi people and other regional powers will be forced to step up and engage in the search for a political solution that can bring an end to sectarian violence and allow reconstruction to take hold, creating — as should have been done long ago — Iraqi jobs for Iraqis."

Not to mention Carl Levin:

“An escalation of American troops is a flawed strategy for two reasons: it implies that there is a military solution to the violence when what’s needed is a political solution among the Iraqi leaders, and it suggests that the future of Iraq is in our hands not theirs.

“More promises by the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future and more statements by the President on the need for doing so are no substitute for U.S. actions to force political compromises by the Iraqis. The President did not set benchmarks for the Iraqis that have hard deadlines and clear consequences for failure.

“The President's long-overdue words are that we are ending the open-ended commitment to Iraq, but the reality is that he is sending the opposite message to the Iraqis by putting more American military men and women in the middle of Iraqi sectarian violence.

Of course, John McCain thinks the surge is a great idea.

With so many Americans saying the surge is the wrong way to go, is it any wonder Rasmussen says Bush's approval rating is the lowest it's ever been?


Jesse Jackson coming to CMU; Butch Jones named football coach

Just days before I return to CMU for my fourth semester (already!!), I came across two big news items on the school's web site.

First, the legendary Jesse Jackson will be coming to CMU as part of the school’s Martin Luther King Week festivities.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, a leading national civil rights and political figure, will visit Central Michigan University Jan. 16 as part of its weeklong commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.

Jackson, president and founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, will provide a keynote speech at 7 p.m. in Rose Arena. Admission is free and open to the public.

Jackson began his activism as a student leader in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and eventually became King's assistant. Jackson went on to direct Operation Breadbasket and founded People United to Save Humanity in 1971.

He was an early advocate of national health care, a war on drugs and the campaign to end apartheid in South Africa. In 1984 and 1988, he ran as a Democrat for the presidency, winning 10 million votes combined, and is credited for inspiring millions of new voters to register and join the political process. He often has served as an international diplomat, sometimes negotiating the release of U.S. military personnel held captive overseas.

And as for the school’s new football coach: Say hello to Butch Jones.

"I am excited to have Butch Jones leading our football program," Heeke said. "We are fortunate to have someone here from an outstanding program like West Virginia and his experience with one of the most successful spread offenses in the country will help further develop our offense.

"Butch has all the skills to be a highly successful head coach," Heeke added. "As we went through the entire interview process, it continued to become more and more clear that Butch Jones was the right man for this job. He will provide the leadership necessary to help take our program to the next level-winning consistently and competing for championships on an annual basis."

Jones has spent a total of 11 seasons as an assistant at the Division I-A level. He has served as the offensive coordinator at three different schools, spanning eight seasons, and has worked directly with 24 all-conference selections in 15 years as a full-time position coach.


A native of Michigan and a former offensive coordinator at CMU, Jones returns to Mount Pleasant after spending the 2005 and 2006 seasons as an assistant coach at West Virginia University. The Mountaineers, ranked 13th in the most recent Associated Press Top 25, rallied for a 38-35 victory over Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl on New Year's Day. West Virginia, employing a spread offensive attack, ranks second in Division I-A in rushing offense (302.3 ypg), tied for third in scoring offense (38.9 ppg) and fifth in total offense (463.0 ypg).


Under Democratic control, 110th Congress hits the ground running

How sweet it was to watch the 110th Congress of the United States convene yesterday, with Democrats in control for the first time in twelve years.

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA; pictured) was elected the first female Speaker of the House. Because the Speaker of the House is second in line to become president after the VP, Pelosi is closer to becoming President than any other woman has ever come (although I'm pretty certain she will not run for that post.) Now if only there can be a Lewinsky-esque scandal so we can impeach them or they can resign... Hey, one can hope. (Read the transcript of Pelosi's address on becoming Speaker.)

In the Senate, Harry Reid (D-NV) became the new Majority Leader, while Mitch McConnell (R-KY) replaces former senator Bill Frist as Republican Leader. Here's a
transcript of Reid's Opening Speech. Meanwhile, Vice President Cheney gave the oath of office to 10 new senators and 23 Senators who were re-elected in November, including Debbie Stabenow and Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile the Democrats say they plan to hit the ground running on ethics reform, health care, renewable energy... oh, and by the way, Iraq.

Now, skeptics may say that, because Bush still has the power to veto legislation, the Democrats will have little power. First, when the Democrats pass legislation through Congress and fsend it to the White House, one of three things will happen:

1. Bush will sign it.
2. Bush will veto it, but the veto will be overridden.
3. Bush will veto it, and Republicans will stop it from being overridden. If this is the case, then Republicans such as John McCain and Sam Brownback - both of whom are likely candidates for President - will be on record opposing ideas that are likely to be popular.

Second, the GOP Congress has consistently given Bush a 'blank check' to do whatever he wants. If Bush wanted it, Congress gave it to him. With Democrats in charge, he will not be able to get what he wants as easily as he used to. This is what James Madison and the framers of the Constitution desired when they implemented the system of checks and balances into our Constitution.

Behold, All Things Have Become New: Happy 2007!

Can you believe another year has come and gone? I just cannot get my mind around the fact that this is 2007!!

Boy, 2006 flew right by us! What were some of my highlights?

  • Joining the Knights of Columbus the first week of the year
  • Participating in Wheeler Hall’s Open Mic Night
  • Joining the SGA Senate
  • Easter Vigil at St. Mary’s in Mount Pleasant (and having my dorm room to myself that weekend, as couple of roomies went to see Dane Cook and the other - like most on campus - went home for the weekend
  • Becoming a precinct delegate
  • A lengthy campaign season in which my emotions fluctuated between hope and despair for our governor, while assuming (until the last few weeks) that Congress would stay in GOP hands
  • Casting my first vote ever - to renew a school district sinking fund in February (it passed)
  • Voting, first in the primary, and then by absentee for the general election
  • A joyous election night that already seems so long ago

2006: What a ride.

How I celebrated 2007
On Sunday Mom and Dad went to a New Year’s Eve party, so my dogs, birds, and I stayed home. I took the dogs for a walk. Our walk route included a couple of Little League baseball fields. As we paused at a couple of the fields, I thought of the many kids who played ball and made so many memories on those fields this summer - memories they will cherish for a lifetime. I will probably be the last person to walk on these fields in 2006, I thought to myself.

I turned on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” at 10. Dick Clark himself was still not in the best of shape after suffering a stroke a couple years ago. But he was better than last year. His countdown was a little In the last few seconds, his countdown was a bit off. Still, I enjoyed watching it. Then at midnight, I kissed my dog Lucy and kind of sang along as‘Auld Lang Syne’ played on TV.

Some of these predictions for 2007 are based on historical precedent, while others are just guesses.

  • An assistant coach at U-M or MSU will become CMU’s new football coach. Just a guess.
  • The Colts will win the Super Bowl. Their time has come.
  • Two governors will resign. Just a guess
  • Bush will veto more bills this year than Granholm. A Democratic Congress will pass more bills Bush won't approve of, but a State House in Democratic hands will mean not as much bad legislation will get to the Governor's
  • Sorry, Al Gore - no Oscars. I just don't feel it happening.
  • Hillary Clinton will NOT run for President. Either Feingold or Bayh will reconsider their decision not to run. Meanwhile, Vilsack will drop out of the race sometime in the summer or early fall.
  • There will not be any contested races for Kentwood City Commission. Grand Rapids will see two. (Kentwood has seen just two contested City Commission races in the last four odd-numbered years.)
  • The Tigers will again make it to the ALCS and, perhaps, the World Series. The team is largely unchanged from 2006, but it will have Gary Sheffield.
  • I will decide by May 1 who I will support for the Democratic nomination. I settled on Howard Dean pretty early in 2003, but then I switched to Bob Graham, then Dennis Kucinich, then Wesley Clark, then back to Dean until he dropped out of the primaries.
  • Osama bin Laden will not be found. He hasn't been found yet, has he?

In each of the last few years I have made vague resolutions to lose weight, be financially better off., and treat myself well. This year, I plan to save some of the cash I earn working, but also drink six glasses of water per day. Water helps with weight loss. I will also work to get higher grades. (Dean’s List anyone? Okay perhaps I’m being a wee bit optimistic. But it’s good to be optimistic.)

So here’s to an amazing 2007 for you, me, and our entire nation and world!

(PS: "Behold, all things have become new" comes from 2 Corinthians 5:17.)