100 days and counting!

We’re down to the home stretch of 100 days left to Election Day on November 4th. It’s been a fascinating process thus far seeing the fall of the front runners for each party earlier this year and the first nomination of an African-American for a major political party.

A report on the last 100 days from USAToday:

WASHINGTON — The longest presidential election season in American history is about to enter its final stretch.

Count ’em: 100 days to go.

In the time before Nov. 4, running mates will be chosen and platform skirmishes fought, economic reports released and as many as one-third of votes cast early by absentee ballot and at registrars’ offices. Will more U.S. troops be pulled out of Iraq? Could a so-called October surprise be sprung, by calculation or catastrophe, that reshapes the campaign’s close?

Both campaigns are acutely conscious of the passage of time. At Barack Obama’s headquarters in Chicago, a countdown calendar hangs just outside campaign manager David Plouffe’s office. The same count appears on white boards throughout John McCain’s headquarters in a Virginia suburb of Washington.

“The momentum and intensity of the campaign builds almost every day as you approach the election,” says Tad Devine, a strategist for Democrats Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. “You spend a lot of time planning for the events you know about, and you spend a lot of time reacting to the events that just happen.”

Some of the customary rhythms of a presidential campaign were disrupted this year after the Summer Olympics were pushed back two weeks. That squeezed the end-of-summer interval for the political conventions and prompted the GOP to schedule the first major-party convention to take place after Labor Day.

Not that either side has been waiting for the traditional Labor Day kickoff to the general-election campaign. By measures such as money raised and field forces deployed, the 2008 campaign already is setting records.

GOP: McCain sides with ban on affirmative action
DEMS: Obama defends trip; changes focus to economy

Obama has been campaigning for nearly two years, since acknowledging on NBC’s Meet the Press in October 2006 that he was considering a bid for the Democratic nomination. McCain effectively has been running even longer, since his embrace of former rival President Bush at the 2004 Republican convention made it clear the Arizona senator was positioning himself for his second White House run.

Now Obama holds a lead over McCain, 49%-40%, in Gallup’s most recent tracking poll.

“Neither campaign has made the sale,” says Republican strategist Ed Rollins, who helped run presidential campaigns for Ronald Reagan in 1984, Ross Perot in 1992 and Mike Huckabee this year. “The battle is the independent vote, and they don’t make up their minds until late.”

As they do, here are events to watch between now and Nov. 4.

• Aug. 8 Fighting Olympics fever

The opening of the Summer Olympics creates a black hole for politics as voters tune in to gymnastics and swimming instead of town halls and attack ads. “The Olympics generally suck all the air out of a political campaign,” Rollins says.

How can a candidate break through during the Olympics’ two-week run?

One strategy: join the Games. The Obama campaign is buying a $5 million Olympics ad package on NBC that includes time on the broadcast network and its cable affiliates. The McCain campaign isn’t ready to disclose its plans for the Olympics time period, spokesman Brian Rogers says, though it’s unlikely to include such a pricey buy. Some advisers suggest unveiling his choice of running mate before the Games begin to seize attention.

The benefits of such advertising include wide reach, especially among women. (Past TV ratings indicate women are more likely than men to watch the Summer Olympics.) The downside is the high cost and the fact that the campaign will be paying to reach voters in states so overwhelmingly Democratic or Republican that they aren’t in play.

That’s why no previous campaign bought a significant amount of national Olympics time. Doing so underscores the advantages of Obama’s fundraising muscle — he raised $52 million last month, more than twice as much as McCain — and Obama’s decision not to accept public financing, which limits overall spending. It also reflects his campaign’s determination to reach into states from Alaska to Georgia that Democrats traditionally write off.

“As far as summer viewership and reach and exposure and the fact that not just sports fans watch the Olympics, it’s a very good vehicle for national politics,” says Evan Tracey, CEO of Campaign Media Analysis Group, a media-tracking firm.

He cautions, “I don’t think you can stick your John McCain-is-wrong spot on the Olympics coverage. It has to be in line with the goals of the event, which would mean positive, uplifting, patriotism kind of messages.”

• Sept. 15 Bringing more troops home

By week’s end, the last of the additional U.S. combat forces deployed to Iraq last year are scheduled to have been withdrawn. That will start a 45-day “pause” U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus requested before considering more reductions of the 140,000 American troops that will remain in the war zone.

So in mid-September, if levels of violence stay relatively low, Petraeus could well recommend that more troops be pulled out — perhaps a brigade or two by the end of the year. That could free up forces to be dispatched to the war in Afghanistan, where the Pentagon says they’re needed.

Michael O’Hanlon, a national security analyst at the Brookings Institution who has taken the administration and its critics to task on Iraq, says he doubts Bush would make a decision whether to pull out more troops for political reasons. He notes the president repeatedly has defied public opinion when it comes to Iraq.

Even so, there would be political repercussions from a move to bring more troops home.

“It would prove McCain right and Obama wrong on the surge,” which McCain supported and Obama opposed, O’Hanlon says.

“But Americans always care more about the future than the past,” he says, and an administration proposal to withdraw more troops would bolster Obama’s argument for a pullout. “It makes it harder to criticize his plan as being strategically imprudent. It allows him to essentially turn the issues back toward domestic policy and the economy.”

And polls show those issues overwhelmingly favor Democrats.

• Sept. 22 The vote is in the mail

Voters who can’t make it to the polls on Nov. 4 — soldiers heading abroad, students away at school, arrestees in jail awaiting trial — can begin casting ballots in Virginia on this day. That opens a voting season that now starts long before Election Day in states across the country.

In the 2002 elections, 14% of voters nationwide cast early ballots; in 2004, that number rose to 20%; in 2006, to 25%. This time, “it will certainly be over 30%, and it could be as high as a third,” says Paul Gronke, director of the Early Voting Information Center at Reed College in Oregon.

Early voting has been most prevalent in Western states, but voting changes in Florida and elsewhere after the disputed 2000 presidential election have spread the trend.

Both campaigns have intensive early-voting operations underway, including efforts aimed at reaching the approximately 500,000 active-duty military personnel deployed overseas. The growing number of Americans who vote in the weeks before Election Day has affected the way ads are scheduled and mobilization efforts launched.

“Everybody recognizes that it’s changed the game a little bit in terms of how you do your get-out-the-vote,” says Rogers, the McCain spokesman.

Early voting can make get-out-the-vote efforts on Election Day easier because some voters — usually the most committed and partisan ones — have cast their ballots, enabling campaigns to concentrate on others. It also offers some protection from the repercussions of a last-minute gaffe or disclosure that casts a candidate in a negative light. “You really can’t wait until the last minute anymore” to make an accusation, Gronke says.

• Sept. 26 Easier to lose than win

When McCain and Obama sit down at the University of Mississippi for the first of three scheduled debates, it will be the first time since such forums began to be televised in 1960 that it won’t include a sitting president or vice president. That raises the stakes, says David Lanoue, a University of Alabama political scientist and co-author of a book about presidential debates.

“Voters try to use debates to gain information about people they don’t know very well,” he says. “To some extent, that applies to John McCain — I think there’s still a lot people don’t know about him — but the obvious person is Barack Obama.” After a rapid rise from Illinois state legislator to presidential contender, he is “an unknown quantity” for many voters.

Lanoue sees parallels to the 1980 campaign. Voters “wanted a change but they were worried whether Reagan was the right guy.” When the former California governor seemed reassuring during his only debate with President Carter, “the undecideds break and he wins in a landslide.”

The debate at Ole Miss is to focus on domestic policy; the third debate, at Hofstra University on Long Island, is on foreign policy. In between, the debate at Belmont University in Nashville is a town-hall-style meeting, McCain’s preferred format.

Past debates are most remembered for missteps: Richard Nixon visibly sweating in 1960, Al Gore audibly sighing in 2000, President Ford mistakenly declaring Poland free of Soviet control in 1976. “Debates are far more often lost than won,” Lanoue says.

• Oct. 1 An October surprise?

Campaign strategists spend a lot of time scripting every moment, from making sure McCain is photographed surrounded by voters at his town-hall-style meetings to scheduling Obama’s convention acceptance speech at Denver’s Invesco Field, a dramatic setting that will echo John F. Kennedy’s nomination in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum nearly a half-century ago.

They also spend a lot of time worrying about what they can’t script, particularly the sort of late-breaking development known as an October surprise. “You do think about and preliminarily plan for how the campaign would react to one of those big, top-tier events,” says Devine, the Democratic strategist.

This year, those “top-tier events” would include a terrorist attack, a major U.S. military operation — for instance, on Iran — or a decisive turn in Iraq or Afghanistan. And there’s always the prospect of some last-minute disclosure about either candidate.

In 2004, the October surprise came from Osama bin Laden, who released a video on Oct. 29. Although it was a reminder that the Bush administration had failed to capture or kill the al-Qaeda leader, it helped Bush by spotlighting the threat of terrorism. “It did have a real impact on the campaign,” Devine says.

• Oct. 30 Watch your pocketbook

On the Thursday before the election, the Commerce Department issues its advance estimate of third-quarter GDP, a broad measure of the economy’s health. A contracting economy could signal the start of a recession, defined as back-to-back quarters of negative growth.

Defined by economists, anyway. A cascade of distressing news — falling home prices, faltering financial institutions and record gas prices — already has convinced most Americans that the economy stinks. In the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, 52% called the economy “poor,” the highest number with such a dark view in 16 years.

Last-minute good news could counter some of that gloom while more bad news would reinforce it. Economic anxiety traditionally hurts the party that holds the White House.

During the final full week before the election, the government releases a string of reports on economic fundamentals: new home sales on Monday, consumer confidence on Tuesday, durable goods orders on Wednesday and jobless claims on Thursday.

“We are at a point where people are really hurting in their pocketbooks,” says Sung Won Sohn, an economist who served on the White House Council of Economic Advisers for President Nixon and now teaches at California State University-Channel Islands. “It is the most important driver in the election, and it could tip the boat in either direction.”

Republicans could have “a dream come true” if there were a dramatic drop in the price of oil, he says, which would ease other economic problems.

The chances of that? “I would say virtually none,” Sohn says.

A video report from CBS News:

As such, we’ll be continuing to provide news, commentary, and video concerning the election. We’ll also have the full debate videos coming up in August and September.

  • Billy

    I find it very disturbing hat the press and the candidates will not set up a place for the average person to post and ask questions about things that concern them. Everybody living in those Ivory Towers seems to think that all us stupid hicks are concerned with is the war and the economy when the truth is so far away from that. Since societies first started people have worried about war and the economy, they are the reasons societies were formed to start with. If you will allow me to post it, here are some of the things that I would like to how the candidates stand on and my thoughts about them.
    INCOME TAX— I believe we should do away with this tax and institute a sales tax, I have suggested this for years and recently heard it mentioned in the primaries.
    This tax should be on everything except basic foods, exceptions could be made for clothing sold by non-profit organizations.
    This would assure that the drug dealers and all others that do not declare their income would pay their share if they wanted to buy something. There would still be those that would not pay their fair share, like those buying stolen property or drugs, but at least they would have to pay when they bought a new car or whatever. If a corporation wanted to spend a few million on a yacht for their executive, they could, but they would still have to pay the tax and not have it as a write-off. The biggest corporations and the wealthiest people are often the ones that pay the lowest percentage of their income in taxes. This would go a long way toward leveling the playing field.
    Savings would be taxed at a rate of 0% for less than $10,000, 1% for $10,000 to $100,000 and 3% for more than that, per year. My logic for that is that if you can afford to save, you can afford to pay. It would also be an incentive for people to go ahead and spend the money, which would help keep the economy moving, the savings tax rate would also apply to companies.
    Companies that wish to sell products produced elsewhere outnside this country would have to sell them to a company that is based here, the same corporation could own both the manufacturing and the distribution companies, but they must be separate entities. This has a couple of effects, yes it does raise the price slightly(like a tariff) due to the paying of a sales tax on the product bought, but more important; it give an entity inside this country that is responsible for the safety of the product and anything else that it receives from abroad. Someone that could be held accountable for high lead content in children’s toys without having to get involved in an international court fight.
    The sale of stocks would be double the national rate on the logic that if you have money to gamble with you can afford to pay the tax. I also believe that the patrons at casinos should have to pay at this rate. Bonds would have to pay at the savings rate at time of cash-in, pro-rated to the time the money was in the account and the amount cashed during that year.
    The federal sales tax could be collected by the states through the same system they use to collect their own sales tax while paying them a 15% fee for paperwork and handling. This would allow for the dismantling of the IRS except for a small number to see to the collection of these taxes from the state, except in the states where no sales tax is charged on a state level; where an IRS presence might be needed. This alone would save millions every year own our national budget.
    The major drawbacks to this that I foresee are as follows:
    The use tax forms for tax evasion charges against people like Al Capone would not be there. With high priced lawyers advertising on TV about how they saved customers one half million dollars in taxes and so on I do not think that it is being used that way anyway.
    Trying to set the tax rate initially might prove to be a bit problematic. If we were to require that the tax could not exceed the current budget income from the IRS and would have to adjust to match it within two years, it is doable. It is my believe that where we are currently paying about 30% in income tax we would find that the sales tax rate would be closer to 6%-3%. Limitations could also be set so that the tax rate could not be raised by more than the rate of the income of the average constituent to control the budget and give the politicians an incentive to keep the economy on track if they want a larger budget.

    Judicial
    We really need to turn ourselves away from the legal system and return to a search for what is justice, not what is legal. The system in this country has been so distorted by lawyers and judges that justice is almost unattainable. It is in such disarray that we make jokes about it. A good example of it is the joke where a witness is told to answer yes or no and is then asked “Do you still beat your wife?” knowing he never did beat his wife, how can he answer the question truthfully? If he says “No” it means he use to beat her, if he says “Yes” it means he still beats her; both of which are false statements. While this is funny in a sad way, it is not as extreme as you might think. People are put on the stand to testify everyday and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; but the judge will have ruled that they may not mention certain things (like past conviction of the defendant) in their testimony. How can you tell the whole truth, when you are prevented from doing so by the courts? To make matters worse, if you do tell the whole truth, you are arrested for contempt of court and sent to jail, is that justice?
    Evidence is ruled inadmissible for various reasons, but if you do not see all the evidence how can you as a juror ever know what justice is? If a cop breaks into the house of a suspected rapist and finds evidence that proves they are guilty, how is justice served by letting the rapist free to rape again and putting the cop on two months paid leave? It does not hurt the rapist or the cop that broke the law, but it sure hurts the future victims of the rapist; where is their concern for the public and for justice? It seems to me that justice would be to use the evidence to convict the rapist and charge the cop with breaking and entering (subject to twice the penalty for being a public servant). This should be enough to deter the Police from doing it on a regular basis and to make them be sure that they were right before they did it. I can say that I honestly might do it to get a rapist off the streets, the jail time would be worth it; but I would make sure I was right before I did it.
    One of the biggest problems with our system is that the judges and or their family have not been victims; most have lived their sheltered and privileged lives never knowing the pain and suffering of being the victim. In recent times there was that judge in Vermont (I think it was) that sentenced a child rapist to three months in jail, (personally, I think the judge should be convicted of child endangerment if the guy does it again) what kind of justice is that? That child will probably suffer for the rest of their lives and this guy will be back on the street to do it to another one in three months. What do you think the judge would have done if it was his grandchild that was the victim? Maybe this says something about how judges are selected on the grounds of knowing the law instead of their pursuit of justice.
    Judges need to be looking at more cost effective ways to punish crimes than just throwing people in jail all the time. Let them pick up trash along the highway, maybe shaming punishments would still work; even lashings (give them a choice, sixty days or six lashes). Why take a member out of society and make them a burden for the rest of society when a better way may be available?
    Any lawyer that it can be shown knew his client was guilty but still tried to get them off of the charges should be convicted of aiding and abetting in the crime, they are after all helping the criminal get away even more free than if they had given them a car and cash to run before the trial. The law says that a person charged is entitled to a good defense and that a lawyer must presume innocence, it does not say that the lawyer must try to free a person that they know is guilty, only that they must mount a vigorous defense on the information known to them. Knowing they are guilty a good lawyer should either dismiss himself or is obligated to try to make sure justice is done; if this is not so it needs to be corrected.
    Lawyers should be held to the same disclosure standards as the police, if they do get evidence that a person may be guilty they should not be able to hide it.
    Any lawyer found to be bringing frivolous cases before the system should be disbarred. We all know about the woman and the hot coffee at Mc Donald’s and about the judge that sued the dry cleaner for like four hundred thousand dollars for the loss of a suit that he had cleaned there. We all have seen the ridiculous warnings on products that have been brought about by these lawsuits, like the tag on an electric iron that says “Do not iron while taking a bath.” There are too many lawsuits that go against common sense and they are only brought because people and their lawyers figure that they can make a fast buck at our expense.
    Jurors should be able to ask questions of witnesses; they will sometimes think of pertinent things that others may not have. These could be vetted through the judge and copies sent to both lawyers before it is asked, they should then be asked by the judge. A juror can not determine justice by being a spectator.
    Juror should be told that they are to also use common sense to reach a verdict or lawsuit amount, that it could be as small as seems relevant for something that does not make sense to them (like a suit at the cleaners) or large enough to break a multinational corporation if it is found that the intent to allow people to get hurt or killed was there (like the tobacco companies).
    Jurors should learn to look for the intent in cases. I know I will get less upset over somebody that may take ten dollars from me by accident (miscalculation, for example) than I will if somebody tries to take one dollar by fraud or deception.
    Jurors should be able to upgrade a charge and convict on it (even if there was a plea agreement). If a D.A. has made an agreement to reduce charges on one person that helped to beat a child to death in order to get them to testify against two others, the jury upon hearing all the evidence (including why the plea agreement was made) should have the right to say the case is to outrageous to let one get away with it and sentence all of them for murder.
    Convicts should have rights, but those rights should never exceed those that any civilian on the street that has not been convicted of a crime have. They should not be moved to top of organ donor list, they should not get free penile implants, no free college educations, no free cable, no sitting around all day watching cable, and definitely no more free medical treatment than is needed to keep them alive. We have law abiding people dying of hunger, losing their homes, not getting medical care, and being pushed back on donor list to accommodate murders and rapist, this is not justice. They are entitled to enough food, shelter, medical, and clothing, to keep them alive (which is already more than we provide for some civilians); anything beyond that should have to be earned and they should take their place on the donors list like everyone else. Let them go to work each day, doing laundry, growing food, whatever, to earn more to pay for more if they want it. Let them hold down a job and get use to it. All these people talk about rehabilitation like it will just come to convicts that are use to having everything just given to them. What do they think will happen when they return to the streets not use to working for what they want and need. As it stands we are giving them free college, free medical, free cable, free food, free clothing, free shelter, free time, and surrounding them with other convicts so they can learn how to be more proficient at their crime and how to beat the legal system. How about if we teach them to work for what they want and perhaps to develop a good work ethic, that would prepare them better for release back into society.
    It is my conviction that while a person has not been found guilty they should have all the rights; except that during the commission of a serious crime those rights should be nullified. Somebody breaking into a house should not have the right to sue if they trip on a rug and break their leg. A rapist should not have the right to sue for head trauma when somebody clubs them while they are raping someone. A murderer should not have the right to sue for damages when some civilian blows his spine out while he is committing armed robbery on someone else. To put it bluntly, while they are committing the crime there is no ‘presumption of innocence’ and others should be able to use force to stop the crime and defend themselves, others, and their property.
    Prison riots have been shown on TV where they plug the toilets, flood the place, and burn the mattresses. It is my view that every cell should have a two inch high barrier to contain the water inside the cell. If the prisoners do these things they should be left to wallow in their own mess and sleep without a mattress. It was their choice to do it, let them live with the consequences, and let them clean it up. Why should others have to expose themselves to the refuse and contamination caused in these riots? When it got to stinking too much I am sure the other prisoners would make sure that they cleaned it.
    Last but definitely not least, the courts were intended to determine cases for justice and legality. I do not remember constitution giving the courts the right to pass laws by requiring actions in their decisions. A court could tell a state that a law over capital punishment in rape cases is not constitutional, but it could not require the state to execute all convicted rapist. So why are they passing laws about what is taught in school and where students must go to school? It is their job to merely say that what is in effect is not constitutional; that is all, the legislature is to make the laws.

    Legislative
    Every bill submitted should have to have a summary written in layman’s terms that tells what the intent of the bill is and why it is deemed necessary. This intent part of the bill is what should be used in the Justice Department to interpret the validity of the law and to pass judgment in criminal cases. I know of a law that was passed to say that a person could not use any part of a motor vehicle as a shooting platform to shoot at wild game, I also know of people that have been charged under this law for leaning a rifle against the tire of their car while they took off their jacket. It was admitted that if they had leaned it against a tree next to the car it would have been okay, clearly an abuse of the purpose of the law; but legal due to the “legalese” wording of it. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, how often have we heard this? There are cases everyday where lawyers argue about what a law means, how are we suppose to know what it means if we have not gone to law school and do not speak “legalese”? If ignorance of a law is no excuse, do they not have some obligation to write laws or at least a summary of intent in language that we can understand? How are we to obey laws that even they do not agree on the meaning of?
    Every bill must pass on its own merit. No more attaching several bills together. For example: A bill to set a mandatory sentence for child molestation could not have a bill attached that says Congress gets free air travel. If they want to try to vote themselves free air travel let them do it in the open, by itself; so we can see who actually voted for it without the disguise of saying they had to because the pedophiles are getting away free. I have heard the argument that there would not be enough time for them to pass every bill if they did it individually; it seems to me that maybe this would be a good thing. Every law passed restricts or removes a freedom of somebody, maybe fewer would be better, and it would force them to prioritize; like we have to with our budget. It might also help convince them to stop all of the political bickering and filibustering bull that they do and get down to work.
    . Pay for legislators should be directly set to the average income of people of this nation. If they pass good laws and people prosper their pay will go up and the reverse would also apply. This has been the most debated of all the proposals. Some feel that this might encourage taking of bribes and influence peddling. I personally think that it would make it less appealing to those that just want to become career politicians and millionaires, opening the door for more everyday people and statesmen.
    Free mailings for legislators should be limited to surveys trying to find out from their own constituents how they would like them to vote on upcoming issues, with no reference to their own feelings or past voting record. In other words, no political handshaking and re-election jargon hidden in the mailings, if they want it for free; it should serve the public, not themselves. They have election war chest for that type of mailings.
    Fact finding trips and excursions should be set up by the General Accounting Office with care that it is not just an indulgence of the legislators and that there are no excesses. They could be paid for by approved outside parties as long as representatives of those parties had no direct contact with the legislators during the trip and communicated only through the G.A.O..
    Legislators should only be able to vote themselves benefit packages (like health insurances) that are the normal in the constituency. If the average person does not have free health insurance, why should elected officials get it for free?
    All people who enter voluntarily into the realm of public service should be held to a higher level of scrutiny and moral standard; they have set themselves up as an example for the public and should be held accountable for their actions. A breach of those standards should be dealt with twice as harshly as with civilians, once as a citizen and once for the abuse of public trust. This includes all public servants from legislators to police and city clerks.
    Legislators should only be able to pass laws requiring things like auto insurance if they have set in place a system that assures that it can be obtained at a reasonable price by the public on their income level. Laws should not be allowed to be passed by the federal government that requires states to have programs that the federal government will not fund.
    We need a system of checks that must be met to show that a law would be better served being passed at this level of government than at a lower one, if it did not meet them; it could not be submitted. This should be done on all levels of government from federal all the way to county. This would put the ability to make laws concerning people back down on a more local level and help assure that the local people are better served by those laws. Certain chemicals might be outlawed because they can be used to make bombs, while theses chemicals may have no real use in the city, in the country they are a needed component in growing the food to feed this nation; to outlaw them locally makes much more sense than to do so nationally.
    Lower echelon governments could pass laws that are more restrictive than Federal ones, allowing concerns to be met on a more local level, more like the “dry” laws now are. They could not however pass laws more lenient, they could chose not to enforce the harsher standard, but that would seem to be an abuse of the oath they took.
    Any person not attending at least eighty percent of all votes and casting votes during them should be brought before the ethics committee and if they miss more than twenty five percent for other than serious illness of themselves or immediate family should have to immediately run for re-election to keep their seat or be removed.
    For Pete’s sake, legalize pot already. It does not do as much harm as booze in this country and we have thousands of people removed from society and being a burden in prison for it. Your war on drugs is not working because you are spread too thin. Legalize it, tax it like booze to the point that it sells for what the pushers are getting and take the money from it and fight the drugs like crack and meth that are destroying lives outright. Make the sale of meth and crack an attempted murder charge (susceptible to the death penalty where it is used) for by now the pushers know they are killing those people they sell too. You could still have the tax evasion charges on pot like you do tobacco and moonshine. Letting people out of jail who are convicted only on pot charges is much more palatable than releasing violent criminals early to save on the budget, as they are doing now. .
    Lobbyists are not a bad thing, legislators need a source of information on upcoming bills (even if it is one-sided), and although I do think they should listen to lobbyist it should be both for and against a bill, not just one side. Communication with lobbyist should be confined to a cafeteria in the capital for all to see and in E-mails that are public record. Any other contact (including long talks in their office) should be a breach of ethics. Information is the only thing that they should be getting from the lobbyist, not dinners, trips, or gold watches, anything other than information should be considered a bribe and prosecuted, both for the one that offers and the one that accepts and sentencing should be one year per hundred dollars of the bribe and in general population not some federal resort prison.

    Police
    Many of the police seem to feel that they are above the law and do not mind flaunting it in our faces, these are people that should be examples of how to obey the law and be a good citizen; yet they are often the worse offenders. It is little wonder that many fear that this country is fast becoming a police state.
    The police have already stated in many court cases that it is not their job to protect us, it is their job to prosecute whoever kills us, boy that makes me feel better. I think they should have to remove the “protect and serve” emblems from their cars until it is true.
    Any police convicted of any crime from speeding to murder should have to do twice that of a civilian, once for the crime and once for betraying the public trust. I know all the “equal justice” arguments, but when a person voluntarily puts themselves in a position as an example for the people and fails to carry out that obligation, there should be a punishment to go with it. The police especially since they are already allowed to use what would be prosecuted under extortion and racketeering charges if a civilian used them.
    Police need to learn that they have to obey traffic rules and regulations. I do not think this needs to be explained, how few of us have not seen it for ourselves?
    Any police car used for anything other than official police business is theft of government funds and should be prosecuted. That means no using the cruiser to go grocery shopping, run to the dry cleaners, or even taking it home for the night. This may not sound like much, but unless it can be shown the citizens actually save on the gas cost and every other way, it should be considered theft.
    Any use of sirens and lights that is not authorized (like getting to the donut shop faster) is a misuse of government equipment and needs to be prosecuted.
    Any use of force must be justified and not exceed the next level above the force that has been used on the police and as little force as possible is to be used at all times. The police are trained fighters and should be able to handle most people without resorting to weapons unless the suspect has pulled one first. If a person will not put their hands behind their back, it does not mean you can use a tazer or shoot them. When a person fights back you can only use a baton, tazer, or pepper spray if you are unable to control the situation without one of them. A knife pulled on an officer could warrant the use of a firearm, but only if a tazer would not be able to defuse the situation. Hitting an unarmed suspect that is fleeing on foot with a cruiser would be assault with a deadly weapon, the same as it would be if a civilian did it. The standards that a prosecutor would use on a civilian should be even more stringently applied to the police. The minimal amount of force should be used, once the person is not a threat all force should stop, there is never an excuse for 143 bullet holes in a corpse from police shooting, as happened a while back. I still remember watching the Rodney King tapes and found it every bit as disgusting as I did the tape of the rioter trying to kill that truck driver with a brick.
    Every police incident should be investigated by a committee of two police (one of them an Internal Affairs cop) and three civilians (serving in on it instead of jury duty), with a majority vote required on the recommendation that must be made available to the public.
    While some police are great people and truly want to help others, many use and misuse their position in small or large ways, this needs to stop. They are supposed to be examples of good citizenship and if they can not or will not fulfill that obligation they should not be police, how can they enforce the very laws they are breaking? How can we be expected to have any respect for them when we watch them break these laws and take advantage of us on a daily basis?
    Agree or not, but please; lets get to talking about them, especially with the candidates.

  • Grey

    You know, I never really gave much thought to how much of the election still lies ahead. Obama and McCain still haven’t gone head to head once yet.

    It’s incredible how much attention this election has garnered even before the main event.

    Once again I’d like to say thanks to you guys at youdecide2008 for keeping me posted on this stuff. You guys have a great thing set up here.

  • nzpudding

    Obama could really hit an home run if he did an head to head debate with McCain and came out on top, why he’s dillywitting I don’t know.

  • nzpudding, I listen to their live feeds almost daily. Trust me, there’s no homeruns for Obama in a debate. He’s “dillywitting” because he’s smart.

  • IndiMinded

    If I recall, McCain was the last one to reject proposed debates? Admittedly they were some of the debates McCain himself proposed… sometimes I can’t figure politics out.

  • IndiMinded, McCain rejected a fourth of july proposition because that was a joke, it just wasn’t funny. *L* I can’t figure it out, either, don’t feel like the lone ranger. 😉

  • IndiMinded

    hmm, well I was thinking about that exchange a while back, where McCain challenged Obama to a series to 10 townhall meetings and Obama said he would be willing to do 3 townhall meetings and McCain turned that offer down.

    The whole exchange sort of left me scratching me head trying to figure out which candidate had actually backed down. Was Obama reluctant to debate with McCain? Was it the other way around, with McCain’s challenge being a bluff of some sort? Seems kind of bizarre. Never heard any explanation as to why those 3 townhall debates aren’t happening.

  • Dreadsen

    Indiminded

    damn man that slipped right past a lot of people. I would like to hear the explanation to this.

  • nzpudding

    Obama should do a debate with McCain ASAP, because McCain can’t handle pressure that well and snaps without thinking. And in a debate Obama would probably have McCain snapping every 5 minutes. A home run for Obama.

  • Jeremy

    Are you serious Nz? Have you seen some of Obama’s impromptu media debacles? Every sentence that comes from his mouth is filled with um’s and uh’s. Obama is seriously not a good impromptu speaker.

    Obama has some pretty good ideas (and bad ideas) but left to speak next to McCain, those good ideas will get lost in the umm’s and uhh’s and he will come out looking nothing more then a fool.

    Obama is doing a very good job ‘dillywitting’.