Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 489
Just a couple of paper bullets from the brain while I'm thinking of them.
1: You Know You're the Front Runner When...
As everybody knows by now, Hillary Clinton put out the final piece of her health care plan here in Des Moines yesterday. No sooner had the words, 'health care' left Senator Clinton's mouth than the reactions from the rest of the Democratic field began to pile up in my in box:
Chris Dodd had this to say:
"While she talks about the political scars she bears, the personal scars borne by the American people are far greater. The mismanagement of the effort in 1993 and 1994 has set back our ability to move toward universal health care immeasurably.
"We've known what the problems have been for nearly 15 years, and what the solutions could be. What's been missing is leadership that knows how to bring people together and get the job done.
"To ensure all Americans have affordable health care will take more than leadership that simply knows how to fight - it will take leadership that knows how to bring people together and win."
Here is part of John Edwards' lengthy statement:
"I'm glad that, today, the architect of the 1993 plan has another care proposal - and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then I'm flattered.
"But unless Senator Clinton's willing to acknowledge the truth about our broken government and the cost of health care reform, I'm afraid flattery will get us nowhere.
"The lesson Senator Clinton seems to have learned from her experience with health care is, 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.'"
Barack Obama chimed in with:
"I commend Senator Clinton for her health care proposal. It's similar to the one I put forth last spring, though my universal health care plan would go further in reducing the punishing cost of health care than any other proposal that's been offered in this campaign. But the real key to passing any health care reform is the ability to bring people together in an open, transparent process that builds a broad consensus for change. That's how I was able to pass health care reform in Illinois that covered an additional 150,000 children and their parents, and that's how we'll prevent the drug and insurance industry from defeating our reform efforts like they did in 1994."
Bill Richardson's statement was in a similar vein:
"Health care affects the people of this country more directly than any other issue in this campaign, and I am pleased that Senator Clinton finally has joined the debate," Governor Richardson said. "I also am proud to see that she supports most of the initiatives I have outlined in my comprehensive proposal."
You've gotta love being Hillary Clinton - in statements regarding the same speech, she's snarkily "welcomed" to the health care debate, praised by her opponants for mirroring their own proposals, and castigated by them for her record on the issue.
And that's how you know you're the front runner.
2: Habeas Corpus
Of more urgent note this week, the Senate is due to vote on a measure to restore Habeas Corpus tomorrow. Habeas Corpus is the simple, basic right for anyone accused of a crime to appear before an impartial court and demand their accusers produce compelling evidence to back up the charges made against them. It is a cornerstone of liberty, and was severely weakened just before last November's elections with the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
A bill to restore the right of habeas corpus by repealing parts of the Military Commissions Act is now pending in the Senate. Predictably, Republican senators opposed to this bill are threatening a filibuster to prevent what they are otherwise fond of referring to as a "straight up or down vote" that would likely see the bill pass.
In the decisive final hours before the scheduled vote in the Senate, Chris Dodd is spearheading a drive for public pressure on senators who either oppose the bill or have not yet stated their support. If you care at all about civil liberties, or America's moral standing in the world, or upholding human rights in places like Guantanamo, or just want to take back part of your birthright as an American, you should take a moment right now to click over to the Restore Habeas Corpus site and find out how you can help.
A relentless devotion to the Constitution, as evidenced once again by this latest initiative, is the principal thing that makes Chris Dodd worth listening to in a field crowded with better-known candidates. He's got my wholehearted support on this bill.
3: Apparently, There Are Twenty "Top" Iowa Caucus Counties. Do You Live in One of Them?
And finally, tonight, more from Chris Dodd, though, unlike the preceding item, not one for the highlight reel. The Dodd campaign issued a news release this afternoon trumpeting "the announcement of County Chairs for the state’s top twenty Democratic caucus counties."
And which Iowa counties made the cut of the top twenty? Glad you asked! In the order listed by he Dodd campaign, they are: Polk, Linn, Scott, Johnson, Blackhawk, Dubuque, Story, Woodbury, Pottawattamie, Clinton, Cerro Gordo, Des Moines, Dallas, Warren, Lee, Muscatine, Marshall, Webster, Wapello and Marion.
So, if you're in one of the 79 Iowa counties not listed, you'll just have to try harder. Also, no mention in the release of whether counties further down the list of twenty would be able to move up in the rankings. But if supporters in, say, Marshall were to bundle together a few tidy contributions for the campaign, I dare say the sky's the limit.
This could open an entire second front in the Leapfrog Wars.