The Case for Iowa

It's great to beat up on Iowa for their priviledged position in selecting candidates (especially since so few Iowans participate in the caucuses.)  But the New York Times has an interesting profile of the Iowa voter who asked Hillary Clinton about her Iran vote (only to be labeled a plant.)  It turns out he has gotten to ask questions to many of the candidates.  Click through to see what  he asked, and the responses he got, but here's the bottom line.  He's undecided:

So, with 12 weeks remaining before casting his vote, he confesses that he is torn.

"My ideal candidate is one that inspires like Obama, is experienced as Biden, who understands diplomacy as Richardson with the vision of Edwards," Mr. Rolph said. "With that in mind, there's something to be said for gene splicing."

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The thoughts of billionaires

The New York Times has a really excellent article on The Richest of the Rich, Proud of a New Gilded Age and it will really turn your stomach.  To pick one guy:

And Kenneth C. Griffin, who received more than $1 billion last year as chairman of a hedge fund, the Citadel Investment Group, declared: "The money is a byproduct of a passionate endeavor."

Mr. Griffin, 38, argued that those who focus on the money -- and there is always a get-rich crowd -- "soon discover that wealth is not a particularly satisfying outcome." His own team at Citadel, he said, "loves the problems they work on and the challenges inherent to their business."

Well, he should have stopped talking there, because he almost had me fooled.  Here's his views of taxes:

"The income distribution has to stand," Mr. Griffin said, adding that by trying to alter it with a more progressive income tax, "you end up in problematic circumstances. In the current world, there will be people who will move from one tax area to another. I am proud to be an American. But if the tax became too high, as a matter of principle I would not be working this hard."

I don't know which is more astounding: that he expects us to believe that even though he is still working after making a billion dollars last year, he'd stop working if he had only made $900 million after taxes, or that he is quite pleased to threaten to leave the country even though he supposedly loves his work and America.

I think we know that all the major Democratic candidates are close to Wall Street, but we have got to somehow return to a balance in this country.  The article does a great job discussing the 50s and 60s, when tax rates were higher.  I hope whoever win, Clinton, Obama, Edwards, etc., really takes the problem seriously.


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Adwatch: NJ-SEN Bob Menendez

New Jersey is famous for the huge number of negative ads that characterize its campaigns.  While we can argue about how much this contributes to the well-known suspicion voters have of BOTH parties, it certainly means that a direct strong ad is expected and necessary.  This isn't a state where the candidates mince words and have to appear polite.

Here's the first Menendez ad:

Menendez at

Here's an ad that comes out and criticizes George Bush and links the opponent to him.  There's a strong anti-war stand, but no specifics about withdrawal, splitting the country, or any of the other things the Busby poll suggests no one believes anyway.  We don't hear the word accountability, but the message is very clear.  There's no mention of Democrats, but note the emphasis that Menendez is now a Senator and the patriotic flag that dominates the imagery.  The visuals of the ad reject any link of anti-war views with anti-Americanisms.  I think it's effective.

I notice Tom Kean, Jr. is not named.  Again, I'm happy to agree with that.  The father, Tom Kean, Sr., is well-liked so we can expect an effort to separate them.  But this first ad establishes Menendez as the one who will oppose Bush.  

Any comments?

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