Clinton and Romney Lead in the Fundraising Follies
Despite the fact that they have two of the highest 'unacceptable' ratings among candidates in their respective parties, Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney have turned in fundraising reports showing extraordinarily high totals both compared to prior years' primary campaigns at this point and compared to their competitors. Clinton has raised a whopping $26 million so far and Romney isn't far behind with $23 million. These figures are triple the records set in previous campaign years, promising that this will be the most expensive election in American history. $4.2 million of Clinton's war chest came from online contributions and she has an additional $10 million carried over from her Senatorial campaign.
Other candidates lag behind, but are still exceeding amounts raised in prior elections. In second for the Democrats is John Edwards with $14 million and Rudy Giuliani is runner-up for the GOP with $15 million. John McCain and Barack Obama have not yet released their figures. Romney raised $6.5 million of his total at a single fundraiser in Boston last month and provided another $3.5 million of his own money. Giuliani is coming on strong. Almost all of his money was raised in March alone, plus he's been endorsed by billionaire business guru Steve Forbes and is bringing Forbes into his campaign as an adviser and fundraiser.
Also making the Republican contest more interesting is the growing speculation that actor, lawyer and former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson may enter the race as a Reagan-like candidate with universal appeal. Thompson is a moderate, pro-military Republican who is basically politically indistinguishable from Giuliani but doesn't have the same vulnerability on personal issues.
The Supreme Court is Handing Down Rulings
With the Supreme Court in session, we're starting to get the first rulings and there's bound to be something to irritate everyone.
One of the rulings released today clarifies the responsibilities of the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act to regulate the carbon dioxide emissions of vehicles. It addresses concerns raised in a suit filed against the EPA by a number of environmental groups and 12 states led by California and Massachusetts demanding that clean air standards be enforced more rigorously on the federal level. The court's ruling basically says that the EPA is obligated to enforce the Clean Air Act itself rather than leaving enforcement mainly up to the discretion of the states. This is a victory for environmental interests, but increasingly irrelevant because automakers have already largely met or exceeded the standards set by the act. It would, however, make future environmental standards much more enforcable. Another ruling issued today rejects an argument from Duke Energy that older coal power plants should be exempted from emissions restrictions.
In another ruling, the court rejected an appeal on behalf of prisoners held at the military's Guantanamo Bay facility. The prisoners had claimed the right to be tried in regular courts and under U.S. law and to have their cases reviewed under the principle of Habeas Corpus. The ruling rejects their claims and upholds the Military Commissions Act and the provisions of the Geneva Conventions under which the prisonsers are currently held under military authority. Regardless of the very slow progress being made on actually trying and resolving the status of the prisoners, the court affirms that military justice is the appropriate way to deal with prisoners taken in the course of a war. This is being heralded as a vindication of administration policy by the White House.
Other rulings released today include one requiring publicly funded schools to equalize sports programs for male and female students, and one protecting the patent for the anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor against infringement by generic competitors.
Iran Hostage Crisis Continues to Escalate
While claiming that all of the British hostages taken a week ago have now 'confessed' to trespassing in Iranian waters, and also parading them on TV, the government of Iran is now suggesting that their fate will be resolved by international diplomacy rather than a show trial, if the British government will admit that the sailors intentionally violated Iranian territorial waters. This despite considerable civil unrest in Tehran with several bombings and an attack by a mob on the British Embassy. The mob was chanting slogans demanding that the hostages be tried in Iranian courts. At the same time statements were released by foreign ministers and heads of state from virtually every major Western nation promising 'appropriate action' against Iran, likely in the form of further and more serious sanctions. Continuing her efforts to become the spokesperson for the radical left, Rosie O'Donnell suggested that the hostages were deliberately ordered into Iranian waters to provoke a war.