Friday, August 18, 2006

Withdrawal As Wedge

First the Dems on getting out of Iraq;

Among Democrats, comparable levels of support for bringing the troops home are found among liberal Democrats (62%) and among those who consider themselves moderate or conservative (66%). And among both groups, bringing the troops home is more likely to mean a gradual withdrawal (45% among moderate and conservative Democrats, 42% among liberal Democrats) within the next 1-2 years rather than an immediate pullout.

So both the left and the right of the Democrats support bringing the troops home within the next year or two. The party is unified. What about Republicans:

By contrast, there is a sizable gap on this question between conservative Republicans and their moderate to liberal colleagues. Eight-in-ten conservative Republicans favor keeping troops in Iraq; among moderate and liberal Republicans, 59% agree.

So, as expected, the wingnuts want to stay in Iraq come hell or high water. But 41% of moderate Republicans are open to withdrawal. How to withdraw is where the wedge comes:

Nearly two-thirds of conservative Republicans (63%) say the troops should stay in Iraq until things stabilize and that there should be no timetable for withdrawal. But just 38% of moderate and liberal Republicans agree with this position, which best approximates the position of the Bush administration.

So when it comes to withdraw, only 38% agree with the president's stay the course, stand up/stand down time table. Or to put it another way, 62% favor some sort of withdraw. The same as moderate and liberal Democrats.

This election is going to be about contrast. If Democratic candidates - especially in GOP leaning districts like those here in Illinois - want to contrast themselves with their Republican opponents, the way to do that is to talk about withdraw from Iraq and holding Bush accountable for his mistakes in Iraq. Conservative Republicans will hate this. But they'll never vote for a Democrat anyway, so who cares. Moderate Republicans, on the other hand, will listen. These are the only Republicans Democrats have a chance of swinging, and they agree with us.

Taking an aggressive position on Iraq troop withdrawal will excite the Democratic base. It will push Iraq to the front of the debate. It will make GOP opponents defend their support for an unpopular president and his unpopular war. Taking a stand on accountability and withdraw from Iraq will resonate with moderate Republicans and Independents and Democrats.

Failure to take an aggressive stand and try to play GOP-lite will lead to disaster. As Jonathan points out:

If Democratic candidates try to blur the line between their position on Iraq and that of their Republican opponent, they do so at their own peril. Americans are ready to see change in the policy towards Iraq -- they're not only ready, they're clamoring for it -- and if the Democratic Party is unable to offer that change, it runs the risk of blowing it's best opportunity for Congressional pick-ups in more than a decade.

Stand up/stand down, faulty intelligence, and the rest of the Bush BS needs to go by the way side. It's time to offer a clear contrasting message on Iraq that involves holding the Bush administration accountable and withdrawing troops.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

He'll Hear About It?

Have you seen those commercials featuring ComEd CEO Fred Clark telling us how much he and ComEd care about it's customers, as they are about to significantly raise rates? I keep seeing these commercials repeatedly each night. I'd guess I see them 2-3 times a night, and I'm not a heavy TV viewer.

So here's my question: What does an ad campaign with this much air time cost? And, guessing that it's not pocket change, why is the CEO of ComEd spending that kind of money to tell me that he's going to raise my electric rates? Why not just drop the self serving TV media blitz, and save us both some money?

When I see commercials like this, repeatedly like this, I get worried. Where's this rate hike going?

From the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago I found this:

Under the new tariff, ComEd will no longer generate or purchase electricity to serve its customers.  They will only move power through their distribution system.  Regulated customers will purchase electricity from suppliers who "win" the ComEd-sponsored "reverse" auctions, which will take place on September 5, 2006.

The same reverse auction processes have recently been held in the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland.  These auctions all yielded price increases of 50% or more from the previous regulated power rates for commercial and industrial customers.  These results do no bode well for business owners using the ComEd system.

Gee whiz, I won a 50% rate increase! Now that's an aution to win! But with rates not hiked in years, ComEd must be hurting. Or not:

Groups opposing the proposed energy purchasing scheme and rate hikes maintain that ComEd and the other energy firms have fared well under the cap. They warn that raising rates by 37 percent or more could open the state up to "market gaming" reminiscent of Enron’s swindling of California. ComEd parent Exelon made $1.9 billion in 2004, and its stock has steadily risen to one-and-a-half times what it was in 2000.

Luckily, that's why we've got the Illinois Commerce Commission:

State utility regulators Wednesday granted Commonwealth Edison Co. a far smaller power-delivery rate increase than the utility requested, prompting ComEd’s president to say the company is reconsidering its proposal to phase in a hike in electricity bills that’s projected to exceed 25% beginning next year.


A forecasted big increase in power costs, to be set in a state-run auction of power generators in September, is expected to drive up ComEd bills by 25% or more beginning in 2007. Electric rates in Illinois have been frozen under state law for nine years.

And ComEd's reaction from the same article:

But, said ComEd president Barry Mitchell, “we know enough to know it’s a very disappointing result for us. … It just doesn’t reflect the real costs of running the business.”

He said ComEd is almost certain to appeal the commission’s ruling to the Illinois Appellate Court.

In addition, “it certainly means we’re re-evaluating everything we do,” he said. That includes ComEd’s proposal to cap the increase in rates over the next three years at 8% in 2007, 7% in 2008 and 6% in 2009, he said. Under that proposal, which is pending before the commission, the deferred portion of the rate increase would then be collected with interest beginning in 2010.

And just what those costs of doing business be that ComEd is looking to recoup?  Pension obligations and "overhead":

In Wednesday’s action, the commission disallowed two big-ticket costs that ComEd wanted included in the rates it charges. They were an $850 million contribution that ComEd parent Exelon Corp. made recently to shore up ComEd’s pension fund and an increase of over 50% in overhead expenses.

So again, I'll ask. How much does running 30-second spots in regular rotation on network TV during prime time cost? I think that money could be better spent on overhead costs that would save me money come my 2007 electric bill.


Are They Finally Sobering Up?

You have to wonder what universe the bobbleheads live in that it's taken them nearly six years to come to the conclusion that those of us in the realty based community came to years ago:

Yes, you read that right. That's "Is Bush an Idiot" on the screen of Scarborough Country. Joe Scarborough, right-wing former US Representative who thinks the right is great, is finally asking if Bush is an Idiot. Well, duh, Joe.

But this is important. This isn't the New York Times asking this. It's Joe "Mr. Right" Scarborough, talking head pundit and blatherfest blowhard supreme wondering what we've all been saying for years. That's significant.

So is this from CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The judge said the president is violating the first amendment, the fourth amendment and the foreign intelligence surveillance act, FISA, passed by congress in 1978, specifically to reduce this kind of abuse of power. That's why the FISA court was created in the first place.

What does this mean? It means President Bush violated his oath of office, among other things when he swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States. It means he's been lying to us, when he tells us there's nothing illegal he's been doing.

And a 75-year-old black female judge in Michigan has finally stepped in and done the job that Congress is supposed to do, namely oversight of the executive branch over government.

But the Congress is controlled by Republicans and they are controlled by the president and they'd have done nothing in the way of oversight.

I hope it means the arrogant inner circle at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue may finally have to start answering to the people who own that address, that would be us, about how we conduct our country's affairs."

Jack Cafferty. CNN. President Bush violated his oath of office.

Could our long national nightmare really be coming to an end with people starting to sober up after their 9-11 hysteria finally realizing that the smirk wasn't confidence, but a realization that he was pulling a fast one on the American people.

What's that Mr. President? A terrorism plot? Raise the terror warning alert to Elmo quick like your poll numbers and Republican election hopes in November depended on it!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Iraq Accountability Will Play in the IL-06 Race

Lamont was a test case. His race tested what Democratic activists like myself have been saying for some time: Holding Bush accountable for the Iraq war is a major issue Democrats can run on in 2006. Now Connecticut is a little bluer than say IL-06. But I don't care. Democrats who stand up and say in no uncertain terms that the Iraq war was wrong, Bush is lying about it, and he needs to be held accountable are going to gain points not just among their Democratic bases - but among Republicans.

I've been saying this for some time, so I'll repeat myself yet again: races like IL-06 are going to be about contrast. If Duckworth can contrast herself clearly with Roskam, she will gain Republican votes from moderate Republicans who feel - like the majority of Americans - that the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Now my gut feeling - as expressed above - is born out by new polling just released by MyDD and the Courage campaign. The numbers are pretty clear. Republicans will support this.

First the numbers:
  • 63% of Republican voters believe that Bush has made some or a lot of mistakes in Iraq. 24% of Republican voters believe that Bush has made ‘a lot of mistakes in Iraq’, and another 39% believe that Bush has made ‘some mistakes in Iraq’.

  • 34% of Republican voters believe that Bush has definitely or probably not told the truth about the situation in Iraq. 14% believe that Bush has ‘definitely’ not told the truth about the situation in Iraq, and another 20% believe that Bush has ‘probably’ not told the truth about the situation in Iraq.

  • 34% of Republican voters believe that Bush should probably or definitely be held accountable for the situation in Iraq. 19% of Republican voters believe that Bush should ‘definitely’ be held accountable, and 15% believe he should ‘probably’ be held accountable.

  • 48% of Republican voters believe that the Democratic Party is likely to hold Bush accountable for mistakes in Iraq, versus only 19% who believe that the Republican Party is likely to hold Bush accountable.

Now this is not liberal solid blue Connecticut here. This is GOP leaning CA-50. Since the poll was done in a GOP leaning district like this causes me to believe that these numbers would see similar results in GOP leaning IL-06.

These numbers are significant. Take a look at the extremes again: 24% of Republicans think Bush made A LOT of mistakes in Iraq. 14% of Republicans think Bush has definitely not told the truth (a.k.a. lied) about Iraq. 19% of Republicans think Bush should definitely be held accountable for his mistakes in Iraq. 48% of Republicans think that Democrats would hold Bush accountable. This is not the liberal left fringe here. This is a sizable percentage of Republican voters.

So tell me again how IL-06 is a GOP leaning district and we have to appeal to the middle? Here it is. Stop with the stand up - stand down faulty intelligence crap that has been Bush's standard talking points for over a year and get on this horse and ride.

Stand up and say that Bush needs to be held accountable, and that as a Democrat, you're gonna do it. You are going to call him on his lies and hold him accountable for what he's done in Iraq. Just like a sizable percentage of Republicans want to do.

Sounds crazy leftist liberal? Sure. That's what makes this a no-brainer win/win line of attack. It will excite your base. But it will also resonate with the 24% of Republicans who think Bush screwed up badly, the 14% of Republicans who think he lied, and the 19% of Republicans who think Bush should be held accountable.

So lets just say Tammy carries only the 44% Cegelis earned against Hyde. Add the minimum of Republicans from this poll - the 14% who think Bush lied - and you've got 58%.

Fifty-Eight percent is a lot of things. It is red meat for your base. It is clear contrast with Roskam (you think he's gonna hold Bush accountable?). It is a majority. It is a win. It is a Democratic pickup.

Play to the middle, play  the typical finger pointing "he's corrupt" politics, play I'm a tough chick GOP-lite, and we lose.
Take stand, fight for what is right, and follow the polling (not the D3C), and we win.

Just like Lamont who beat an 18 year incumbent Senator and former Vice Presidential nominee.