Category ►►► Elections

November 5, 2012

Why Romney Will Win

Elections
Hatched by Korso

Let me start out by saying this is completely unscientific, largely anecdotal, and conceived under the influence of some St. Bernardus Christmas Ale -- but since it all still seems logically sound the next morning, I'm going to go out on a limb and tell you why I think that at the end of Tuesday night, Mitt Romney will emerge as president-elect of the United States.

  1. Polling. It isn't so much that I have a tremendous amount of faith in polling data; but given that most of the surveys done so far have oversampled Democrats anywhere from six to eleven points, it's astounding that Romney is tied or even ahead of Obama by a point or two. I don't, however, believe that the electorate favors Democrat turnout nearly that much, which means that the support Obama actually has is probably overstated by several points.
  2. Enthusiasm. The Romney campaign has been like one of those little sleeper movies that builds an audience by word of mouth, week after week until it finally turns into a box-office juggernaut. Ever since his stellar debate debut against Obama, the Republican base has been fired up about Romney in a way I haven't seen since -- well, probably since Reagan ran against Mondale in 1984. That kind of enthusiasm is contagious, as we've seen from the massive crowds that Romney has been drawing. When you've got 30,000 people in the audience -- and you're in Pennsylvania, for frak's sake -- you know that there are plenty of non-Republicans who have joined the party as well. There's just a general sense that this is Romney's moment, which will only attract even more voters as election day comes.
  3. The alienation factor. Barack Obama ran in 2008 as a centrist and then immediately made a sharp left turn after he got to the White House. In the process, he betrayed a lot of independents and moderate Republicans who bought into his Hope 'n Change shtick. Since then, he's tacked even harder to the left in order to shore up his base. A lot of Catholics who voted for Obama were outraged by his mandate that religious institutions provide insurance coverage for drugs and procedures that violate their faiths. Ditto black evangelicals over Obama coming out for gay marriage. These are not people who will vote for him again. And while all of them may not go out and vote for Mitt Romney, some may just decide to stay home. Either way, Obama gets a smaller portion of a shrinking voter pool.
  4. Common sense. Americans are a fair people. Obama came to them in 2008 with a paper-thin resume and no executive experience, but with a grand (if risible) vision of a post-partisan, post-racial nation that could do great things if everybody worked together. It sounded good, so voters gave him a chance. Since then, though, Obama has failed to deliver on almost every level. Rather than unite us, when things got tough he fell back on the old Saul Alinksy/community organizer playbook and tried to pit rich against poor, black against white, women against men. Rather than act as a responsible steward of the public's money, he spent wildly on a stimulus that left nothing to show in its ruinous wake. And rather than focus "like a laser" on jobs as he promised, he spent two years ramming through health care "reform" that nobody wanted, and that America could ill-afford. The country is more divided, more insecure and more broke than ever before. Americans believe rightly, fairly, that it's time to give someone else a chance.

So there you go. With any luck, we'll know early on Tuesday night if I'm right or not. Might not be a bad idea to stock up on some more beer, though.

Dafydd adds: I prefer tawny port. Graham's 10-year tawny is excellent, and BevMo typically has it on sale for less than $30 a bottle. If you're well heeled, the best port I've personally tasted is Sandeman's 20-year tawny port; but I rarely purchase it, as it demands something north of a Useless S. Grunt (half a century) per bot.
Korso adds: My old college town has a great little winery, Messina Hof, that makes a world class port called Papa Paulo Texas Port. It won't cost you an arm and a leg -- and they ship, too!

Hatched by Korso on this day, November 5, 2012, at the time of 7:54 AM | Comments (0)

November 2, 2012

Working for the Weekend

Elections
Hatched by Korso

Well, we finally made it: the last weekend before the Election That Will Change Everything (or possibly give us More Of The Same, depending on which way Cthulhu, dark lord of the underworld and political campaigns, smiles). I've stocked up on some pretty good beer to get me thorugh the next few days of media angst and spin, which is likely to grow into a superstorm all its own, as the usual alphabet soup of suspects -- ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, et. al. -- pulls out all the stops to drag Barack Obama, peace be upon him, across the finish line for a second time.

The question is, do they have anything left of their wad to shoot? My guess is probably not much. From the looks of things, the media were hoping to turn the coverage of Sandy into an Obamapalooza, showcasing our president out there acting all presidential and stuff. And while New Jersey seems more than happy to cooperate, sadly the folks who run New York haven't been getting with the program. Between Nanny Bloomberg telling Obama to take a hike and a disaster response that seems to have lost all touch with reality, the optics haven't been too good over there. It also doesn't help to have the good folks of Staten Island telling Chuck Schumer that they're dying over there, or the evening news showing clips of New Yorkers dumpster diving to get food. To the media, it's all just too close to Katrina for comfort.

So what could have been an antidote to the steady drip of new Benghazi outrages has pretty much turned into a bust -- which means Obama will be going into the final days of his campaign essentially naked. Demonizing Mitt Romney hasn't worked, his attempted October surprise has fizzled, and now Barack Obama is facing the one thing he's never had to face in his entire political career: an honest, competitive race. No wonder David Axelrod and the rest of the gang back in Chicago are in full-on panic mode.

Now it's all a matter of turnout. Who wins will be decided by who generates more enthusiasm -- and so far, it seems as if Romney has the advantage. My own prediction, for what it's worth? Romney will win the nationwide vote by five points. Of course, that and a nickel won't even pay the parking meter, but that's why I blog under a pseudonymn.

Hatched by Korso on this day, November 2, 2012, at the time of 1:06 PM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2012

Debate II: Electric Boogaloo

Elections
Hatched by Korso

As is the case with most sequels, this one wasn't as good as the original. But whereas most of the time studio execs blame the writer, this time most of what was bad about last night's debate was squarely the fault of the director. Like Ralph Bakshi butchering The Lord of the Rings by turning it into a rotoscoped acid trip, Candy Crowley seemed to be trying her level best to make sure everyone in America understood that this debate was all about making Barack Obama look good by making Mitt Romney look bad.

Did she succeed? Meh. I think most Americans don't like to see a deck unfairly stacked against anyone, so in terms of her overall impression with independent voters, Crowley only made herself look foolish. How that translates into goodwill toward Romney remains to be seen, but in the end I believe it will only underscore the impression of weakness around Obama. In spite all of the bluster and his attack puppy demeanor, it always seems like the president can never quite make it on his own -- that he always needs the press to give him a leg up. Romney, by contrast, was out there on his own, operating in a tricky environment and answering questions cherry-picked by a hostile moderator from voters in a reliably liberal state.

Given the huge handicap, I'd say that Romney did remarkably well. Granted, the punditry this morning largely agree that he missed a huge opportunity by not going after Benghazi as much as he could have; but he did land some very effective jabs, particularly in regards to how oil production on federal lands has plummeted and Obama's running off to Vegas after Chris Stevens was killed. He also brought up Fast & Furious in response to the gun-control question -- though I wish he had spent more time on that, rather than going on about better education will reduce gun violence.

The lowlights? That equal pay question. Out of all the issues we face, Crowley picking that one to discuss only proves that she was completely in the tank for Obama. Same goes for bringing up contraception. Honest to God, who cares? But it gave the president another softball, and that was the point.

Bottom line: Democrats will say their guy had a great night, Republicans will say theirs did well (though not as good as the first debate). In that respect, it was rather like last week's vice-presidential debate. Sure there were some sparks, but ultimately independent voters will probably be more turned off by Obama's aggressiveness than turned on by it. Obama also didn't say anything new, and offered no real vision for a second term. As they say, you can wrap a pretty bow around a turd but that doesn't make it Godiva chocolate. And four more years of the same isn't exactly an enticing pitch for voters.

So call it a draw, if you want. Romney may not have helped himself, but he didn't hurt himself either. I do, however, think that he learned a few lessons last night, so come the next debate he'll be even more prepared. And given that the next one is about foreign policy, Romney will have a lot of juicy targets. That's when the gloves will really come off.

Hatched by Korso on this day, October 17, 2012, at the time of 7:48 AM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2012

Young Turk vs. Grinning Jerk

Elections
Hatched by Korso

To be perfectly honest, what I expected from last night's VP debate and what I got were two markedly different things. In one of my tweets, I characterized the contest as "Forrest Gump vs. Clarence Darrow" -- but in reality, it seemed more like Mr. Furious vs. Mr. Rogers. At one point, I actually thought that Joe Biden's hair plugs might pop right off the top of his head and spray Paul Ryan like a hail of birdshot. I got two words for you Joe: anger management. Check it out.

But, apparently, it must've been what the focus groups told David Axelrod that the liberal base wanted -- and in that respect, at least, ol' Smokin' Joe delivered in spades. He was loud, arrogant, nasty and condescending (and that was just to the moderator), and proved once and for all the campaign still has some feistiness left to it. I'm quite sure that Obama voters loved it. I'm just not so sure it gave them what they needed.

Here's why. In sending out Joe Biden to be his designated pit bull, Barack Obama has only underscored his own weakness (already telegraphed to obvious effect in last week's presidential debate). He's a lot like the kid who gets pushed around on the playground, cries like a baby in front of everyone, and then sends his big brother in the next day to finish things up. Whatever the outcome, it won't buy the kid any respect because it's clear he can't fight his own battles.

And that's assuming big brother can actually beat the other kid up. In Paul Ryan's case, Biden got in a couple of punches but never landed anything hard. In the process, though, the vice president came off as a real jerk -- laughing derisively, constantly interrupting, living up to the Democrat mascot and making a complete ass of himself -- which, from most of the press coverage today, seems to be the one thing that everybody remembers. How this plays with the almighty swing voters remains to be seen, but I don't think it'll be good.

Ryan, meanwhile, kept his cool and stayed above the fray. He seemed a bit shaky on some of the foreign policy questions, but when it came to economic issues he came across as firmly in command of the numbers and full of new ideas on how to turn things around -- something that the Obama administration (four more years of the same!) is sorely lacking.

Moreover, Ryan continued to project the image from last week of a reasonable alternative to Obama's tax and spend regime. Some conservative pundits may complain that he didn't soar the way Mitt Romney did, but to me that's rather the point: Ryan's job first and foremost is to do no harm and further the goals of his boss. Ryan got that job done -- in workman like fashion, to be sure -- but he did it nonetheless. That he didn't allow Biden to rattle him was also proof that the young man knows how to handle himself.

Bottom line: You could call the debate either way, depending on your leanings. However, Biden with all his huffing and puffing probably didn't help the ticket with independents -- and with the trends moving in Romney's direction, that's bad news for Obama.

Hatched by Korso on this day, October 12, 2012, at the time of 7:16 AM | Comments (0)

October 4, 2012

And The Winner By Knockout...

Elections
Hatched by Korso

After last night's debate, I'm firmly convinced: Mitt Romney really is Batman.

Unfortunately, at least for Barack Obama, Mr. Hope 'n Change was far from a worthy adversary. Rather than playing the Joker to Romney's Conservative Crusader, he more resembled one of those lame-o villains like Crazy Quilt. I'm tellin' ya, when you've lost James Carville and Michael Moore, you know you've got problems.

Mitt Romney came out swinging from the very start, and never let up. He was in command of the facts, and used them to very good effect against Obama's tired talking points. My favorite line of the night was when the president prattled on about companies getting tax credits for shipping jobs overseas, to which Romney shot back, "I've been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you're talking about." Another fine moment was when Obama insinuated that Romney was looking for a $5 trillion tax cut. Romney slammed the door hard on that one too, telling Obama he never said any such thing.

But, without a doubt, the money shot came when Obama went on his rant about Big Oil and complained about the $2 billion in tax credits they get. Romney correctly pointed out that most of those credits go to smaller subsidiary companies to help fund new exploration and drilling -- and then zinged Obama with the inconvenient fact that the president had thrown $90 billion at so-called "green energy" companies, most of which had gone bankrupt! Romney also slipped in an aside about how some of those companies were owned by Democrat contributors, a brilliant move that really put Obama on edge.

From there, Obama just seemed to slump into a pit of despair. Not used to being called on his bogus talking points, I think he got a little gun shy for fear of turning another whopper loose and having Romney shoot it down. Without a teleprompter to fall back on, Obama didn't have much left to throw back at his opponent. He spent the remainder of the debate dissembling about this and that, meandering all over the place. He looked like a guy trying to run the clock out just so he could get the hell out of there.

Romney, on the other hand, looked like he was having fun -- and I imagine he was. The man has made a fortune out of going into failing businesses, studying every detail about them, and then coming up with a plan to turn them around. You can't be good at that without really loving it, and you could really tell that Romney has put that same passion into his plans for fixing the economy. He knew his stuff, backwards and forwards. Obama, on the other hand, is the kind of man who leaves the details to others -- and it showed.

What'll be interesting to see is how the president reacts in the next debate. You remember back in 2000, when Al Gore came off as huffy and petulant against George W. Bush in their first encounter, how Gore seemed like he had popped one too many Ambien in the second debate? Look for the opposite to happen with Obama. After the savaging he took over his performance last night, he'll come out as hyper-aggressive in the next round -- which, I think, will make him look even worse. Obama has a tendency to get petty when he's hacked off, and petty will not endear him to undecided voters.

On the other hand, it should make for some entertaining television.

Hatched by Korso on this day, October 4, 2012, at the time of 5:58 AM | Comments (0)

October 3, 2012

Free Advice, Cheap at Twice the Price

Elections
Hatched by Korso

Since everybody else is armchair quarterbacking what Mitt Romney should say in tonight's debate, why should I deny myself a little bit of fun? With regards to the economy, when (as it's inevitable) Barack Obama says that he just needs a little more time for his policies to kick in, here's a plain folks way to respond:

"Mister President, with all due respect -- the idea that businesses are just going to pick up and start hiring again is wishful thinking at best, a dangerous fantasy at worst. Businesses need a reason to hire -- and right now, as far as they can see, there's nothing on the horizon to make them think that the economy is going to get better any time soon.

"Now I could go on and on about market forecasts, corporate taxes, what have you, but it really is a lot simpler than that. You see, businesses react a lot like people do. Right now, far too many of them are in the same position as families all across America. They haven't had a raise in years. Even worse, some of them have seen their pay cut or their hours slashed because business has been so slow. They're not sure of how much income they'll have next year, because of taxes and regulations.

"On top of that, they've seen the price of gas and food take bigger and bigger bites out of their paychecks. In short, they're scared because they don't know what's going to happen. Now a typical family when faced with a situation like that -- do you think they're going to take that trip to Disney World, or put an addition onto their house, or buy a new car? Or are they going to hold on to as much money as they can, and ride out the storm until they have a better idea where things might be going in another year or two?

"That's where we are with business in America. And no matter what the president says, no matter how many speeches he gives or how many wishes he makes, things aren't going to change -- not until our leadership changes, and people have a reason to be confident again. It doesn't have to be this way. And God willing, after November 6th, it won't be that way anymore."

Hatched by Korso on this day, October 3, 2012, at the time of 12:35 PM | Comments (0)

October 1, 2012

State of the Debate

Elections
Hatched by Korso

I still think that we could really make an extravaganza out of the event if we got Don King to promote it, but this Wednesday's upcoming debate between Barack "The Stick" Obama and Pretty Boy Romney looks to be generating a good deal of heat all its own. For political junkies, it's like the Rumble in the Jungle and the Thrilla in Manila rolled up into one epic match. How this didn't make the cut on pay-per-view I'll never know.

It's pretty interesting, though, how the Obama hacks are already positioning our pugilist president as the anti-Muhammad Ali in this fight. At least so sayeth David Plouffe on ABC's This Week when giving his assessment of Mitt Romney's combat skills:

He's prepared more than any candidate I think maybe in history, certainly in recent memory. He’s been a good debater in the past. He’s very prepared. He’s got all these clever zingers and lines in his pocket, so we understand he’ll probably have a good night on Wednesday night.

Yeah, kind of like when Clubber Lang went up against Rocky Balboa for the first time. Plouffe is pretty much saying the same thing that Mickey Goldmill grumbled before that fight: "He'll knock you into tomorrow!" Of course, that was because fame, money and a fawning press had turned his champion into a flabby, lazy pretender who wasn't hungry like his opponent. Oh, and the same thing happened to Sly in the movie too.

So what does it say about you when your own people are downplaying expectations for your performance? Well, for one thing it shows how great the fall has really been for Barack Obama. The man who once stood astride the world, godlike and omnipotent, is now revealing how much of that was just plain hooey. But, a bit more insidiously, it also sets up the narrative that the media will use to explain away any mediocre showing on Obama's part. Romney, they'll say, may have won on style and "zingers," as Plouffe mentioned, but it was Obama's arguments that had more substance.

On top of that, they'll also try to cast Obama as the new underdog -- an outsider who met so much hostility from the Washington establishment that he simply couldn't push through the needed reforms to get the economy moving again. Contrast that with Mitt Romney, the consummate insider -- a slick and packaged product, more of the same old same-old, a political robot who looks perfect in the debates but lacks heart. Now, how the media will square this with their other narrative -- Romney the non-stop gaffe machine, too dumb to know why airplane windows don't roll down -- remains to be seen, but don't sell them short. After all, they do write creatively for a living.

Hatched by Korso on this day, October 1, 2012, at the time of 8:17 AM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2012

Akin Breakin' Heart

Elections
Hatched by Korso

It's not exactly the kind of blowback one would get from dissing the Twilight books, but I get the feeling that I might have poked the hornet's nest just a bit with my Claude Akins -- er, Todd Akin -- post. Truth be told, it's heartening to see the subject stir so much passion. Conservatives get tired of seeing one of their own pilloried by the Republican Party, and you can certainly count me among that bunch. In the case of Akin, though, I maintain that the GOP really didn't have much choice but to offer him up as a ritual sacrifice. Here's why.

First off, we live in a media-saturated culture. Unfortunately, that media largely tilts left -- which means that anything and everything that conservatives do will be analyzed, parsed, distorted and Martinized to the point where even the most innocuous remark (anybody remember Trent Lott saying nice things about Old Man Thurmond on his 100th birthday?) will be portrayed as racist, sexist, mean-spirited and just flat out un-American. In other words, you don't hand them a sword with which to slay you -- which is exactly what Akin did.

Second, this had nothing to do with the party trying to overturn the primary system. The GOP has no power to make Akin drop out of the race, which is plainly in evidence because the man is still running for the Senate. The party is not, however, under any obligation to fund his race if it decides that it no longer wishes to be associated with his campaign. If I'm taking money from someone, it only stands to reason that I need to stay in my benefactor's good graces. Just because you win the nomination, that doesn't mean you're entitled to a spigot of cash no questions asked.

Third -- and this is the most important -- conservatives are better than that. Democrats always circle the wagons no matter how outrageous or illegal the behavior of their pols (how else do you explain the long careers of the likes of Teddy Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Robert Byrd, Chris Dodd, Charlie Rangel -- the list goes on and on). Republicans don't. The media don't let us get away with anything, to be sure -- but more than that, we don't let our own slide because we realize the importance of standards in our elected officials. It's a tough standard to live up to, but the country is better off for it.

Ultimately, the voters in Missouri will decide whether or not Akin has the right stuff to represent their state in the Senate. But I do think that his refusal to set aside his own ambitions for a higher cause says a lot about his character.

Hatched by Korso on this day, August 30, 2012, at the time of 3:26 PM | Comments (1)

August 28, 2012

The Akin Diet

Elections
Hatched by Korso

I guess I'm late to the party with all this Todd Akin mania. I was sort of hoping it would go away like Miley Cyrus, but no such luck -- it appears that the man who strung together the words "legitimate" and "rape" will be with us at least through the end of the Republican Convention, so I suppose I'd better throw in my two cents while I still have the pennies to rub together.

Politicians say dumb things. One could even argue that politicians are uncommonly good at saying dumb things (Joe Biden has turned it into an art form), and Akin sure did his darnedest to live up to that expectation. In fact, I had to go back to the IMDB just to make sure it was Claude Akins and not Todd Akin who played the bumbling titular character in The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo. The two certainly have their share of traits in common, not least of which is the uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. As hard as Claire McCaskill is trying to lose her Senate seat in Missouri, dammit, Akin seems determined not to let her do it.

Which brings us to the one thing that offended my sensibilities more than Akin's boneheaded grasp of biology, and that is his singular refusal to own up to his responsibilities and take one for the team. I'm not talking about the Republicans, by the way -- I'm talking about these here United States of America. With the very future of the nation hanging in the balance, and so much depending on regaining control of the Senate, Akin has decided that his political career is far more important than the rest of us schlubs who are dying out here under Barack Obama's crushing economic policies.

If I may offer Akin a bit of advice, please take a look at what happened to Charlie Crist when he made a similar decision to give his party the finger and go his own way. The big difference is that we were lucky in Florida and had Marco Rubio to take us across the finish line. Not so in Missouri. If Akin loses there, he loses for all of us.

Hatched by Korso on this day, August 28, 2012, at the time of 1:09 PM | Comments (3)

August 17, 2012

I'll Buy That for a Dollar

Elections , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Korso

So, the Obama campaign is offering to back off Mitt Romney and his taxes, but only if Romney releases five more years worth of returns. What a deal! Mitt would be crazy not to snap that up! And while he's at it, maybe he can score some big campaign cash by giving that Nigerian general's wife his checking account number so she can move her husband's millions out of the country.

Word of advice to the Obama minions: Leave the con games to Bernie Madoff. You're not very good at them.

First off, the offer is phony on its face. Does anybody honestly think that the Obama campaign, after poring over Romney's returns, will ever say, "Wow, I guess Mitt really did pay his fair share! Oh, well." No, they'll hammer every little item demanding an explanation for this and and explanation for that, because that's the entire point of this exercise: keeping Romney on the defensive so that Obama doesn't have to talk about his failed record.

Secondly, it asks something for nothing. Even if the moon ends up in the second house and Jupiter aligns with Mars and the Obama campaign stops harping on Romney over his tax returns, you can bet your sweet derriere that the super PACs will keep the hits coming. Obama, meanwhile, will just shrug and give another speech about how we've got to get the big money out of politics -- all while his surrogates keep right on doing his dirty work.

Bottom line, there is no upside on this. Romney's a smart enough businessman to know that, which is why he won't take the deal. He can, however, make a counter-proposal: more tax returns in exchange for Obama's academic records during his lost years at Occidental College and Columbia University. If we're talking about transparency, why not go all the way?

Ball's in your court, Barack.

Hatched by Korso on this day, August 17, 2012, at the time of 5:55 AM | Comments (1)

August 13, 2012

The Ryan Riposte

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

What I most like about the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI, 80%) as Mitt Romney's running mate is that it sends a message as clear as finest crystal that this election will be a pitched battle between the forces of Progressivism and those of Americanism. No half-measures, no compromise of minimalist spending cuts, no patronizing head-pats: Mitt Romney and especially Paul Ryan will look Barack "You didn't build that" Obama (and fill in the blank) in the eyes and make the strongest case ever made in a presidential election for the moral necessity of Capitalism, self-determination, American exceptionalism, and fundamental human liberty.

Then our Trillion-Dollar Taxman must perforce either make his strongest case for socialism, subjugation, small-ball Eurozone sychophancy, and a slinking, servile citizenry... or else paint a perjured portrait of himself and his (criminal) record so delusional, so outlandish and confabulated, that every American of at least average intelligence will feel dirty and cheapened by the sheer audacity of Obama's fantasy. (And please, Fate, let "fill in the blank" be Hillary Clinton, America's Fishwife in Chief, architect of the most humiliating and costly State-Department ineptitude since Jimmy Carter felt a malaise coming on!)

As always, I put my faith in the American people, for I love America; so do Romney and Ryan, who stand athwart Barack H. Obama's threnody of disrespect, deprecation, and discouraging words.

I like those odds.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 13, 2012, at the time of 12:27 AM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2012

Hey Girl, It's Paul Ryan

Elections
Hatched by Korso

Wow, just when you thought that Saturday mornings were exclusively for cartoons and hangovers, Mitt Romney goes and announces none other than Paul Ryan as his running mate! Nice flair for the dramatic, if I may say so. It might have been cooler to see them do the whole thing dressed up as Batman and Robin, but there's always Halloween coming up in a couple of months. In the meanwhile, I couldn't be happier with the choice.

Not only is Ryan a true conservative, he's also a guy who makes both the Tea Party and the Libertarian types swoon -- no easy feat, mind you. It's kind of like your daughter bringing her new boyfriend home and you realizing that you're almost as crazy about him as she is. Ryan also drives all the right people nuts, which proves his bona-fides about as well as anything can.

More than that, however, this choice proves that Mitt Romney is actually serious about tackling Washington's spending problem once he's elected president. Given Ryan's reputation as a budget wonk, and the serious proposals he has made for keeping entitlement programs from devouring the federal budget like a horde of zombies descending on a Rotary picnic, I very much doubt he would have signed on unless he had assurances that a Romney administration would not just be business as usual.

For those who worry about Romney being a squish, the choice of Paul Ryan can only offer reassurance. It also means this campaign just got a lot more interesting. I can't wait to see the first debate between him and Smokin' Joe Biden.

Hatched by Korso on this day, August 11, 2012, at the time of 2:47 PM | Comments (0)

July 31, 2012

You Better, You Better, You Bet

Elections
Hatched by Korso

Picked up on an interesting article at CNBC, detailing how Wall Street expects the election to turn out this November:

One analysis concludes that last week's sharp three-day market surge can only mean that Wall Street is banking on a victory from Republican Mitt Romney.

That's the logical interpretation one can draw from a rally amid conditions that otherwise would demand a selloff, Morgan Stanley chief U.S. equity strategist Adam S. Parker said in an analysis that asserts there is no other reason now to like stocks than a Romney win.

In other words, stocks are on the uptick even though the economic news is all bad -- so in Wall Street's view, an impeding Romney win is the only thing that will save the day! Hardly a ringing endorsement of our current president's tenure, is it?

Ironic, considering how Barack Obama was Wall Street's golden boy back in 2008 (though how a quasi-socialist wealth re-distributor with radical ties got the high-finance guys all giddy remains a mystery to me). It just goes to show you how the Wizards of Smart aren't nearly as smart as they all think.

Still, I hope they're right on this one. After all, it ain't just their money riding on the outcome.

Hatched by Korso on this day, July 31, 2012, at the time of 7:47 AM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2012

Warrior Mitt?

Elections
Hatched by Korso

Common in the Korso household is a certain uneasiness about the November election. Yes, we're a family of poll watchers and news junkies -- and, quite frankly, when you immerse yourself in that stuff day after day, you're bound to occasionally fall prey to the "Obama is inevitable" meme peddled by Democrats and their minions in the media.

There are, however, some reasons to think otherwise -- like Mitt Romney's speech to the NAACP convention yesterday. The media, of course, are all about telling you how much he got booed, and now all the talking heads are going on about how Romney "insulted" his audience with platitudes about work and family. But all of this prattling kind of misses the larger point of how gutsy it was for Romney to speak to a group of people fervently dedicated to re-electing his opponent.

Think of Barack Obama addressing a meeting of the Federalist Society or the NRA, and you get the idea. No way in hell would the fundraiser-in-chief venture that deep into unfriendly territory -- but there Romney was, making his pitch without getting the least bit rattled, laying it on the line instead of just telling the audience what they wanted to hear.

That's not the mark of a squishy candidate. That isn't to say that Mitt Romney is cast in the same mold as Reagan -- Lord knows, the Gipper was one of a kind -- but for anybody who thought that Romney would go soft in the general election against Obama, this is a reason to take heart. The man we saw out there yesterday was a fighter.

And maybe -- just maybe -- he gave a few people in that crowd something to think about.

Hatched by Korso on this day, July 12, 2012, at the time of 11:52 AM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2012

An Equal and Opposite Distraction

Court Decisions , Elections , Supreme Beings of Sleazure
Hatched by Korso

Yesterday, the Democrats threw themselves a pretty good party. There were the usual suspects dancing with lampshades on their heads (the DNC's Patrick Gaspard: "It's consitutional. Bitches.") and streaking through the front yard (Obama himself: "Still a BFD."); but in the cold light of day, it appears as though a bit of a hangover has set in. Quoth Bill Nelson, the erstwhile Senator from my home state of Florida:

A lot of us feel the health-care law wasn’t perfect. But it was needed. Our system was broken and we had to do something. Insurance companies were refusing to cover people or dropping those who got sick. So, we passed legislation to prevent insurers from running roughshod over people. And today, the Supreme Court upheld most of these reforms. Now, I think it’s time we finish the job of fixing our economy and creating more jobs.

Move along, folks, nothing to see here.

I've actually heard a few Dems using that same talking point, about how we needed to "do something" about health care, as if this in and of itself is a noble act. Lost in translation is whether or not ObamaCare is the right thing to do, a question that Nelson never answers.

It's not surprising, though. Nelson is in a tight re-election race; and while he has to justify his original vote in favor of ObamaCare, he also has to face a lot of voters who are outraged over yesterday's Supreme Court ruling. Simply put, he wants to get on both sides of the issue.

I imagine you'll see a lot of Dems parroting this same talking point in the coming months. Personally, I'm thrilled. Charlie Crist tried it in 2010, and now he's doing late-night TV ads for an ambulance-chasing law firm.

If enough voters catch on, perhaps we can consign the rest of the Dem Senate majority to a similar fate.

Hatched by Korso on this day, June 29, 2012, at the time of 1:38 PM | Comments (2)

December 28, 2011

Okay, Folks, Time to Get Real

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

On November 6th, we will hold an election. This is an election, not a debate, not a head-cutting contest, not a demonstration of ideological purity über alles: Two men will be nominated, and one of them will take the oath of office on January 20th, 2013.

Anybody here actually want to see the current Occupier get another term?

I like Newt Gingrich. I like Rick Perry. I like Cain, Bachmann, and I even like Ron Paul (as a dinner guest). But it's time to put away childish things; we must put on our manly gowns, gird our loins, and pull up our socks.

Among those actually running, there is one and only one presidential candidate for the Republican Party who is actually presidential; his name is Mitt Romney.

Romney is not my fantasy candidate; that would be Marco Rubio or George Prescott Bush (neither of whom would I actually vote for next year; too young and callow, they are). But Romney is the same candidate I pushed for, unsuccessfully, in 2008 -- I think he would have beaten Barack H. Obama, as it turns out; and I'm pushing him again.

The only other vaguely viable candidate at the moment is Newt... and I'm quite convinced that if Newt Gingrich is our nominee, President B.O. will waft across the country for another four years. Gingrich has so many soft spots that virtually any random attack on the Newtster will draw blood. They could accuse him of being a bank robber, a penguin, and a militant agnostic ("I don't know whether God exists, and neither do you!")... and they'd likely find three or four skeletons in his closet that buttress those charges.

So I'm joining Power Line's John Hinderacker and many other AntiLiberals in urging all conservatives, Capitalists, constitutionalists, Republicans, libertarians, neocons, and other lovers of liberty and individualism to put the toys back in the toychest and throw our support to Mitt Romney.

He wins. Every other GOP candidate likely loses. It's not worth the price to roll the dice for the sake of "purity of essence."

Vote for Romney; let's break up the circular firing sqad and instead unite against the corrupt, despotic, and ideologically insane Obama.

All right, I'm done. Anybody got an actual beef with my central point?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 28, 2011, at the time of 2:05 AM | Comments (10)

November 1, 2010

2010 Mid-Term Elections - post-WWII Historical Benchmarks

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

To better help readers put tomorrow's election into context, here are four historical benchmarks to compare, once we get the full magnitude of the current Republican victory.

Note: Figures updated to take into account the fact (which I previously forgot) that Alaska and Hawaii were not admitted to the Union until 1959; so the U.S. Senate had only 96 senators before 1959.

Since the House of Representatives has 435 seats (and has since 1913), compared to the Senate's 100 (post-1959) or 96 (pre-1959), one Senate seat "equals" 4.35 House seats (post-1959) or 4.53125 (pre-1959), in a numerical sense. Therefore, I have combine the pickups in the two chambers of Congress by that formula: The total number of House seats won, plus 4.35 (or 4.53125) X the number of Senate seats won, equals the "win-factor" of that election. Since that gives us a single number measuring the sweep of an electoral victory, we can use it to rank them.

Here are the top five post-War historical benchmarks in countdown order, based on win-factor:

  1. 1974 mid-terms: Democrats gain 49 House seats and 3 Senate seats; win-factor = 62.1
  2. 1994 mid-terms: Republicans gain 54 House seats and 8 Senate seats; win-factor = 88.8
  3. 1946 mid-terms: Republicans gain 55 House seats and 12 Senate seats; win-factor = 109.4
  4. 1948 presidential: Democrats gain 75 House seats and 9 Senate seats; win-factor = 115.8
  5. 1958 mid-terms: Democrats gain 49 House seats and 16 Senate seats; win-factor = 121.5

(1958 was kind of an oddball election; it's only number one because of the enormous pickup in the Senate.)

So what would it take for this election to grab the top spot, the biggest pickup of the entire post-War era? Here are a few examples; for each number of Senate pickups, I list the minimum number of House seats to break the 1958 record:

  • 8 Senate seats and 87 House seats (win-factor = 121.8)
  • 9 Senate seats and 83 House seats (win-factor = 122.2)
  • 10 Senate seats and 79 House seats (win-factor = 122.5) -- 78 House seats would exactly equal the 1958 record
  • 11 Senate seats and 74 House seats (win-factor = 121.9)
  • 12 Senate seats and 70 House seats (win-factor = 122.2)

Submitted for your viewing pleasure. Wagering is encouraged. And remember: If you must drink, drive responsibly.

Pop that corn, kick back, and enjoy those returns!

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 1, 2010, at the time of 7:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A Truly Bizarre Tale of Two Models

Elections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

A Democratic polling firm, Public Policy Polling, has abruptly shifted its turnout model in their poll (taken largely over the week-end, which typically favors Democrats); what's a bit surprising is the direction and magnitude PPP has shifted in a single week.

In PPP's earlier poll of 10/21 - 10/23, their sample of "likely voters" included 34% Republicans and 47% Democrats, giving Democrats a whopping 13-point advantage; that is, if you'll recall our earlier post -- in which columnist Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics educated us about turnout in the 2006 and 2008 elections and polling turnout models for this year's contest -- PPP's turnout model last week contemplated a Democratic advantage over Republicans even larger than the 12 points they enjoyed in the 2008 presidential election... a Democratic tidal wave!

Consequently, they confidently announced that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA, 100%) was leading Republican challenger and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina by a strong 9 points; while retread gubernatorial candidate Jerry "Governor Moonbeam" Brown was crushing Republican challenger and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman by a resounding 11 points.

But a whole week has passed; that's a lifetime! (Well, to a mayfly.) In today's release, conducted 10/29 - 10/31, the roster of "likely voters" includes 37% Republicans and 44% Democrats, or a 7-point Democratic advantage; in Trende-speak, that's a turnout model for the current poll just slightly higher than the Democratic advantage in the 2006 (not 2008!) election. From a 13-point advantage down to a 7-pointer in just one week.

Not surprisingly, the leads dropped as well: Today, PPP has Boxer over Fiorina by 4 points; not 9, and Brown leads Whitman by 5 points, not 11. Now that's momentum! (And remember, PPP is an openly Democratic polling company which prefers to poll on week-ends.)

Recall also that all signs indicate Republican enthusiasm is much, much higher than it was in 2006, or even 2004 (when Democrats in California also enjoyed a 6-point turnout advantage over Republicans). In fact, it appears even higher than in 1994; which means, in my moderately informed opinion, that we're very likely to see a much lower Democratic advantage in California even than the 6% of 2004 and 2006 -- as low as 2 or 3 points, or maybe even no advantage at all.

If turnout in this state is at that level, then instead of a Democratic lead of 4% for Boxer and 5% for Brown, this very poll recalculated to those numbers would show both Democrat leads in the 1% to 2% range -- noise, in other words.

And now, the rest of the story.

Another poll was released today, this one from SurveyUSA. It was taken roughly over the same period of time and was also an update, one week later, of a previous SurveyUSA poll. This makes for a perfect trend-comparison with the Democratic PPP poll.

SurveyUSA has also changed its turnout model -- but in the opposite direction, now predicting a greater Democratic advantage than last week:

  • In last week's SurveyUSA poll (10/21 - 10/25), they used the turnout model of an 8-point Democratic advantage over the GOP; this is more than the 2006 election, but still much closer to that than to the 2008 election.
  • But today's release, taken from 10/26 - 10/31, contemplates a Democratic advantage over Republicans of 10 points; this is, of course, significantly closer to the 2008 election turnout than the 2006.

If we believe this poll is honest, we must conclude that everything the SurveyUSA pollsters have seen, coupled with their years of experience, tells them that over the past week, Democratic enthusiasm and eagerness to show up and vote has surged forward! In the last week, they've become almost giddy in anticipation of a monumental, historic victory over the GOP.

Contrariwise, Republicans are increasingly disspirited, apathetic, and beaten down. ("Pay no attention to those so-called Democratic pollsters at PPP; they're all a bunch of crypto-fascist Republican stooges. Progressives rule!")

This is astonishing, so astonishing that we have, I believe, but two possibilities:

  • Either the SurveyUSA pollsters are all dolts, because Democrats have certainly not become more confident and enthusiastic over the last week;
  • Or else this last SurveyUSA poll before the election is simply dishonest.

I cannot believe the statisticians who work at SurveyUSA are that incompetent; draw your own conclusion.

The astonishing part is not that Democrats would be jubilant and triumphant heading into tomorrow's election. Everyone knows they're precisely the opposite and getting gloomier by the hour, and what is obviously false therefore cannot astonish.

But I certainly do find it astonishing that a respected pollster would be so willing to traduce its own reputation and (formerly) good name, to hurl itself under the bus and make itself a laughingstock, all in service to the "great cause": desperately trying to stave off the utter defeat of its allies in the Democratic Party.

It's a sad day. There was a time, in the not too distant past, when polls actually meant something.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 1, 2010, at the time of 5:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 31, 2010

It’s Clobberin’ Time!

Elections , Liberal Lunacy
Hatched by Dave Ross

Two years ago my liberal friends, and to a degree my conservative ones, sniggered when I said I would trade four years of Obama for 12 or 16 years of Republicans. I said I was sure that the Democrats would overreach themselves and that we would probably see another 1994 election. Now they aren’t laughing so hard.

I was wrong about one thing, though. This isn’t 1994. This year is to ‘94 as Mount St. Helens is to a popping champagne bottle.

It is, as the Thing, Ben Grimm, says, clobberin’ time. Liberals: we know where you live and you won’t be living there much longer! It’s about now that I’ll start to needle my Democrat friends into making improvident wagers about the election. And they’ll take me up on the ridiculous odds that I’m offering. Democrats aren’t good gamblers -- except when it comes to their children and grandchildren’s money.

Why is this going to happen? Because Barack Obama engaged in the most blatant bait and switch of any politician in living memory -- at least my living memory, and my memory is augmented by reading many books on politics. The country voted for one thing and was stunned to find that what they elected was very different from what they thought they were voting for. Certainly they knew that they weren’t going to get a right wing agenda, but they certainly weren’t expecting to get the most blatantly liberal agenda since 1964.

Both parties, when they win large majorities, assume that the populace loves them. They overreach. Republicans assume that when they win an election that this gives them license to prepare a Christmas gift for the fundamentalists. They are able to get away with that more than the Democrats because there are now more than twice as many conservatives in America as there are liberals. But there are also LOTS of libertarian leaning voters, whose interests don’t include many of the goals of the religious right.

But when the Democrats overreach, oh brother!

As Patrick Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen pointed out in a Washington Post column on Saturday, the same candidate who pledged that the end had come to the divide between Red and Blue America was the same president who urged Hispanics to “punish” their “enemies” on Tuesday. Hardly the words of a post-partisan messiah! He is, in fact, the most divisive, partisan president of our time. Beware candidates who, like Richard Nixon in 1968, pledge to “bring us together.”

But we never should have expected anything like that anyway. Politics is not about bringing people together, it is about winning enough votes to push your programs through. But it is also about having the wisdom not to push through programs that are wildly unpopular with the majority of voters. Given that the Obama and his lieutenants, Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) and Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%), still maintain that their policies are not unpopular, merely not communicated well, it may well be that the Democrats won’t learn the lessons of this election in time to apply them to the next.

At least I hope so!

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, October 31, 2010, at the time of 3:00 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 28, 2010

Pro-Choice Lizard Applauds "Personhood" Vote

Abortion Distortion , Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

The good rednecks in Mississississississippippippi (I never know where to stop!) have an astonishing, utterly original idea that nobody seems ever to have thought of before: Rather than debate the extent of a woman's "right" to abort a zygote/embryo/foetus, they first want to settle whether that entity is a legal person:

A traditional-values group is jubilant at the renewed likelihood that Mississippi voters -- among the most pro-life in the nation -- will have a "personhood" measure on their 2011 ballots....

Measure 26 would amend the Mississippi Constitution to say that "the term 'person' or 'persons' shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof."

I think the theory is that, at whatever point the entity becomes a legal person (fertilization or later, as the state initiative specifies), aborting it is killing a person and can only be justified on grounds that would justify killing someone who had already been born (perhaps only to save the life of the mother). One presumes a determination that the entity was a person would also turn an assault that led to miscarriage into a homicide.

The flip side, of course, is that before reaching the personhood-point, the entity is not a legal person; it does not have a "right" to life; and it can be legally aborted for much lesser cause, perhaps even for convenience.

Of course, Misisipi (is that too few?) notwithstanding, a "personhood" initiative need not specify fertilization as the point at which personhood obtains. A state initiative could specify some other point of gestation instead; some other, not quite so anti-abortion group could put a measure on the ballot to declare that personhood began at the beginning of the third trimester, or when it reached some particular developmental stage. (My personal preference is that the foetus becomes a person when the cerebral cortex activates, which should be detectable in each individual case, if absolutely necessary, via a PET scan.)

In Colorado, for example, abortion prohibitionists tried a similar initiative two years ago, Colorado Amendment 48; it was crushed at the polls by 46 points, 73 Nay to 27 Yea. But an initiative that set personhood to begin at some defined later point in the pregnancy might have a much better chance of passing in a less-conservative state like Colorado or California, Florida or Washington, New York or New Mexico. I suspect most folks are more comfortable defining personhood as occuring later than conception -- but long before the eighth or ninth month, possibly even before the third trimester.

My point for decades -- ever since Roe v. Wade, actually -- has been that both sides are fighting the abortion wars bass-ackwards; instead of pushing for laws banning abortion or court cases declaring abortion a sacrament, we should begin with first principles:

  1. You first must decide at what point of gestation, between conception to birth, the growing entity becomes a legal person.
  2. The personhood decision can only be made via a vote by the peoples' representatives in the legislature or by the people directly by referendum.
  3. The personhood point must be written into the state constitution, not merely the state code, to prevent state judges from simply throwing it out at whim.
  4. It must pass muster with the U.S. Supreme Court, so that local federal district and circus courts cannot throw it out, either.
  5. After which, abortion and every other related question will simply fall out without tears from the personhood determination.

But wait... If each state can pass its own personhood amendment setting a unique point where the entity becomes a legal person, and if some states can decline to pass any personhood initiative or bill at all, then won't a disparity exist from state to state on the legality of abortion? You might have a case where a girl could get a abortion in one state but not in another.

Why yes, Poindexter, it will; but that's a feature, not a bug: It's the essence of federalism. If somebody doesn't like the personhood declaration in his state and the abortion and assault laws it yields, then he can move. Just as he can move if he doesn't like the taxes in his state, or the way the state and local law-enforcement authorities handle drug cases, or the policy of his state on health insurance, energy, water, welfare, banking, business licences, or having to use a "jug handle" to make a bleeping left turn (hello, Garden Staters!)

There are no internal passports required; if you don't like your local laws, move to a different locality. And if you are a sexually active female under the age of consent, and you live in a state like Mxyzptlki that declares a zygote to be a legal person, thus banning abortion -- then perhaps you should rethink your social relationships, at least until you're old enough to move to Colorado, or somesuch.

So even though I would personally vote against Mrs. Hippie's Measure 26, since I don't believe one fertilized cell constitutes a legal person, I applaud the fact that the state is trying to define personhood first, before embarking on a campaign to end abortion. On one of the great moral arguments of our society, the rest of the United States should look to Mississippi. (There, see? We may veer back and forth; but we always comes our right in the end.)

Everything is back to norbal.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 28, 2010, at the time of 6:20 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

October 13, 2010

Meg Whitman vs. Jerry Brown - Steel-Cage Smackdown

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

In a wide-ranging, freewheeling debate last night between the two candidates for governor of California -- Attorney General and former Gov. Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown (Democrat) and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman (Republican) -- each disputant made one major gaffe; but Brown's was worse than Whitman's, in my opinion.

Too, Whitman was overall more focused and on-message, more believable, and more coherent by a long shot. Brown by contrast rambled on like your crazy uncle who lives in the basement, hurling out incomprehensible numbers so rapidly that even I, who follow politics like a fiend, couldn't follow him. Half the time, I had no idea what the heck he was even talking about.

NBC anchor and ultra-liberal Democrat Tom Brokaw actually did a pretty good job of being even-handed this time; I have a feeling even he and his cohorts are rather skeptical of another term for Mr. Brown. But Brokaw lost control frequently, as each candidate ignored Brokaw's attempts to move on to the next question and instead persisted in responding to what his opponent said. I applaud this; I'm much more interested in follow-up As between the candidates than in listening to Brokaw's carefully stage-managed laundry list of Qs.

I cannot imagine that Jerry Brown did himself any good with this debate. For one thing, Whitman was the clear aggressor; she was on offence, leaving Brown to play defense. (Very defensively: Brown's shocked look, as he peered left and right whenever she attacked his record or his campaign proposals -- What... me? You're mean me? -- was simply priceless!)

But Whitman certainly regained the aura of leadership that she held before the first debate, which I didn't see (it wasn't broadcast, only webcast). Once polls finally start flowing here in the Golden State, I expect we'll see Whitman moving up at Brown's expense.

But let's get to the juicy stuff...

The gaffes - Whitman flubs the whore shot

Brokaw brought up the "whore" incident... and I expect I must explain exactly what that was:

Background: Both Brown and Whitman had been seeking the support of police and fire-fighter unions, but Whitman got all but one of them. In particular, both campaigns went after the Los Angeles Police Protective League.

Whitman is pushing for reform of public-employee union pensions, which are bankrupting California (and many other states); she wants to switch those pensions from defined benefit funds -- where a specific, dollar-amount monthly pension is awarded after retirement -- to defined contribution funds, where the state contributes a specific amount to a 401K plan, to which the employee also contributes. The former leads to economic catastrophe, as the pensions rise and rise without limit, eventually eating up the entire state budget; but the latter are more manageable, with the state contribution being strictly limited.

So Whitman wants to switch to defined contribution for future hires; but she makes an exception for police and firefighters (about 25% of public retirees) -- on grounds, she says, that they put their lives on the line every day for Californios.

About a week or so ago, Brown called up the LAPPL, hoping for an endorsement; he got voicemail and left his pitch. But either he or a staffer inexpertly hung up the phone, and an ensuing lively conversation among Brown and his campaign workers was recorded for posterity on the LAPPL's answering machine.

In the course of that discussion, some still unknown (or at least unrevealed) person suggested calling Meg Whitman a "whore" because she had agreed to support a "defined benefit" pension fund for police and fire pensions. One presumes the caller meant the term in the sense of "will change her position for money;" but the word certainly has a very nasty connotation when applied to a particular woman.

Since the Police Protective League had already decided to endorse Meg Whitman instead, because she would crack down harder on crime and criminals, they decided to share the unintended recording with various newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the L.A. Weekly.

So as I said, Tom Brokaw asked about the "whore" comment, which he called the "hundred thousand pound gorilla in the room," during the debate. Specifically, Brokaw asked Brown whether the word "whore," applied to a woman, was as bad as the N-word applied to a black person. After a half-apology, Brown dismissed the comparison -- eliciting loud moans throughout the audience; at that point, the crowd was thoroughly on Whitman's side, and she could have hammered the point home.

But then Brown turned the tables, demanding to know whether Whitman had reprimanded her campaign chairman, former Gov. Pete Wilson, for calling Congress generally a passle of whores. Evidently caught off guard, Whitman responded very lamely: "Now you know that's a completely different thing," she said (to the best of my recollection).

This immediately flipped the audience against her; they hooted derisively. In the end, I think it became a neutral issue, rather than hurting Brown.

What should she had said? I have a much better answer... and had she been prepared for the countercharge, I suspect she would have thought of this as well. I would have advised her to say the following:

I think it was rude and offensive when Pete said that, fifteen years ago. But it's one thing to use an offensive term as a general attack on Congress -- it's much, much worse to use that same word to directly attack an individual person, an individual woman. One of the best scenes in the movie Mean Girls was when the girls' gym teacher got them to stop calling each other "ho's," and taught them instead to give other girls -- and boys -- the respect we all deserve.

Because it really is different, of course, to talk about a parliament of whores than it is to point at a particular woman and call her, personally a whore. If you're interested (and even if you aren't!), here is the 1995 Pete Wilson comment in context, followed by the Brown campaign worker's comment in full:

After learning that a federal judge had ruled California might be liable for up to $500 million in damages over its issuance of IOUs during a budget crisis in 1992, [Gov. Pete] Wilson lashed out at Congress for having approved the Depression-era Fair Labor Practices Act.

"I don't blame the judge; he is interpreting the law," Wilson said during a speech before the National Association of Wholesalers Wednesday. "I blame the Congress for being such whores to public employees unions that they would pass that kind of legislation."

And the Brown campaigner:

In the call recorded by the Los Angeles Police Protective League (which sent the audio to the Weekly and other outlets), Brown seems frustrated by pressure to vow to protect law enforcement pensions at a time when such benefits are under scrutiny for the heavy burden they place on taxpayers.

" ... I have been warned if I crack down on pensions ... they'll go to Whitman, and that's where they'll go because they know Whitman will give 'em ... a deal, but I won't," Brown said.

His associate then says, "What about saying she's a whore?"

Brown declines the offer to colorfully portray Whitman in television as a patsy to the police unions.

The gaffes - Brown's Homer-Simpson moment

Jerry Brown performed his own interpretation of one of those scenes where Homer is thinking the truth and telling a fib, but he gets mixed up and accidentally thinks the fib and tells the truth instead.

Whitman had hit Brown several times with the fact that the police and firefighter unions were all supporting her, while the other, less savory public-employee unions were all financing Jerry Brown's campaign -- and incidentally paying for the "independent" attack ads against Whitman.

Brown objected strenuously, trotting out his endorsement by the California Police Chiefs Association. Now bear in mind, police chiefs are not the same as police officers; in fact, police chiefs (or police commissioners) often aren't even police officers at all, and may never have served for a single day on the streets. They are politicians appointed by other politicians (mayors, city councils) to supply civilian control to the police department.

Even when the police chief is an actual cop, he has generally long since ceased doing real police work, becoming an administrator instead; and he is never picked for his policing ability but rather for purely political reasons. So it's no surprise that the CPCA and the LAPPL are often at odds with each other... for example, when the Los Angeles Police Department's Chief of Police throws rank-and-file officers under the bus over an excessive-force accusation, rather than defending the cops.

Anyway, Jerry Brown objected to Whitman saying she had the support of police and firefighters; he wanted to say he has the backing of the chiefs of police, but it didn't quite come out that way:

Brown, meaning to say “I’ve got the police chiefs’ backing,” instead started “I’ve got the police chiefs in my back [...]” before pausing to correct himself. Whitman interrupted, laughing as she said, “I think he said he’s got the police chiefs in his back pocket.”

Doh!

While I don't think such minor gaffes generally make much of a difference in a race (there are exceptions, such as President Gerald Ford misspeaking in a debate, saying that Poland wasn't dominated by the Soviet Union), I nevertheless believe that Brown's gaffe was much worse than Whitman's: She only said that calling a group of people "whores" was not the same thing as calling a specific individual woman a whore; this is true, even if it sounds a little trite, in the absence of explanation.

But Brown inadvertently blurted out a deep truth: He has the police chiefs, and indeed the non-security-related public-employee unions, in his back pocket... and more sinisterly, they have him in theirs.

This plays directly into one of Whitman's campaign themes, that Brown is beholden to all the various left-liberal money machines who paid for his campaign; and he will do their bidding if he gets back into the governor's mansion. By contrast, Whitman's self-funded campaign leaves her independent of the special interests, owing nothing to anybody but the California voters.

Wrapping up

Democratic partisans swear that Brown delivered a "TKO" to Whitman in this debate; Republicans say she mopped the floor with him. But bottom line, as best I can call it, folks who are actually deciding who to vote for on the basis of this debate are much more likely to swing to Meg "Glam With a Plan" Whitman than to Jerry "Crazy Uncle" Brown.

I suspect that isn't very many people... but in a race this close -- Brown is ahead by 5.33% in the RCP average -- even a small number of people landing on Whitman's side can give her the victory. But we really can't tell much; inexplicably, there hasn't been a poll released in either this race or the California U.S. Senate race in nine days, just 20 days out from the election.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 13, 2010, at the time of 6:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 6, 2010

Shocked Democrats Discover - Hispanics Are Americans!

Asquirmative Action , Elections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

A report released yesterday by the Pew Hispanic Center has bewitched Democrats for two reasons:

  • It shows that Hispanic registered voters are much less enthusiastic about voting on November 2nd than are registered voters in general; this "enthusiasm gap" almost certainly means they will end up voting in much lower numbers than they did in 2008, when Hispanic voters helped propel Barack H. Obama into the White House and a huge gaggle of Dems into Congress.
  • But the same report also indicates that Hispanic registered Republicans are significantly more enthusiastic about voting. Which equally implies that the percent of Hispanics voting Republican will be far higher than in 2008, as Republican Hispanics vote while Democratic Hispanics sulk at home.

What bothers liberals, like a thorn in the heel, is that Hispanics in the United States appear to react much the same as other Americans: Those on the left are demoralized, those on the right happily anticipate the elections. Quelle dommage!

According to the PHC report, 50% of registered voters in general have given the upcoming elections "quite a lot" of thought, but only 32% of Latino registered voters; similarly, 70% of registered voters generally say they are "certain" to vote, but only 51% of Latino registered voters. However, among Latino registered Republicans, 44% have given the election "quite a lot" of thought. (Alas, Pew didn't tell us the gap between Latino Democrats and Latino Republicans on how certain they are to vote, so we must use the first question as a proxy for the second.)

But there is another result in this poll that will truly bewilder the Left. As the Washington Times discovers:

Pew interviewed 618 registered Hispanic voters in August and September. One surprising finding was that immigration does not top the list of concerns of Hispanic voters.

"Rather, they rank education, jobs and health care as their top three issues of concern for this year's congressional campaign. Immigration ranks as the fifth most important issue for Latino registered voters," said Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director of the center and the report's author. [The deficit ranked number four. -- DaH]

That finding surprised Clarrisa Martinez De Castro, director of immigration and national campaigns at the National Council of La Raza, who said fights over issues such as Arizona's immigration law play an "energizing role" for turning out Hispanic voters.

Thankfully for the country, the Democrats' dogma may bite them right in their aspirations. The Democratic Party and Latino groups such as La Raza and MEChA are shackled to their ideological premises, one of which is that Hispanics care first and foremost about immigration; consequently, that is the one issue through which they traditionally appeal to Latinos -- as Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%) attempted to do in the last regular session of the 111th Congress:

Democratic lawmakers seeking re-election are hoping immigration is a motivating factor.

Just before Congress adjourned for the campaign season, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to force a debate on a bill to legalize illegal immigrant students, known as the Dream Act. He tried to have that debate as part of the annual defense policy debate, but it was blocked by Republicans who said that was the wrong forum for considering immigration.

Mr. Reid, a Nevada Democrat, is counting on a large turnout of Hispanics to boost him in his re-election bid against Republican challenger Sharron Angle.

But Republicans, Tea Party activists, and conservatives can approach Hispanics on issues of education, jobs, health care, and the deficit, which are not only the top four concerns of Hispanic voters but are also top Republican strengths -- along with taxes, spending, small businesses, and of course national security, all of which should resonate very strongly with Hispanics. So Democrats have "no hand and no draw," as they say in Texas Hold 'Em.

Democrats are only capable of seeing "special interest" groups like Hispanics as one-note ponies: The Left demands that Hispanics care about immigration (in this case, code for "amnesty") above everything, just as they demand that blacks care about nothing but affirmative action, that gays care only about same-sex marriage, and that union members care about nothing but higher wages and pensions.

The idea that members of any of these groups might care more about the bread-and-butter issues that affect all Americans than about their liberal-selected, parochial, identity-politics issues... well, that thought simply doesn't cross the liberal consciousness. And when circumstances (actual votes) forcibly bring such dissent to their attention, liberals denounce dissenters as "inauthentic" (fill in the blanks). (How galling it must be for a Hispanic conservative to be told he's not authentically Hispanic... by an ivory-white "progressive" like Pinky Reid.)

And that might very well explain the enthusiasm gap between liberal and conservative Hispanics... as well as liberal and conservative blacks, gays, and union members. What we're really seeing is an ideology gap.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 6, 2010, at the time of 3:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 4, 2010

The Loudest Minute Defended

Elections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Commenter MikeR asked in comments to the first installation of this mini-series of posts, the Loudest Minute, whether I had seen the related posts at the New York Times blog FiveThirtyEight, written by former Daily Kos blogger and statistician Nate Silver... posts that (not surprisingly) extolled the accuracy of polling.

I seem to have misunderstood MikeR's point, which was merely to draw the posts to my attention. See, at first glance, the FiveThirtyEight posts appear to contradict my back-of-the-pants analysis of races in which the well-known incumbent is unable to rise into a comfortable majority in the polls, despite being up against a much more obscure opponent. Thus I mistakenly thought MikeR wanted me to "square" my analysis with that of FiveThirtyEight, when he was only curious whether I'd seen them.

But since squaring that circle makes a more compelling post than simply writing, "No, I hadn't read them until now," I shall continue hence as originally posted.

It's easy to square my analysis with that of FiveThirtyEight because we're not in conflict: Not even Nate Silver says polls are always accurate... just that they're generally accurate.

Let's look at his table of accuracy, the one he introduces in The Uncanny Accuracy of Polling Averages*, Part II (I'll only look at Senate races, for illustrative purposes).

His database includes all elections that took place on normal November election dates since 1998, in which multiple pollsters produced polls about thirty days out from the election; in this case, we're looking at 76 Senate elections:

Performance of (Senate) candidates with lead in simple polling average 30 days before election
Polling lead Number of races Won - lost Win percent
0 - 3 points 15 8 - 7 53%
3 - 6 points 12 9 - 3 75%
6 - 9 points 7 7 - 0 100%
9 - 12 points 9 9 - 0 100%
12 - 15 points 8 8 - 0 100%
15+ points 42 42 - 0 100%

(Note that the percentages in my table differ from those in Silver's, because I'm only looking at Senate races.)

Let's look at the three races I cited as examples where the candidate currently behind will likely win, because the better-known candidate has a small lead, but remains mired below or right at 50% (thus is "unable to close the deal" with voters).

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%), currently ahead by 1.4 points in the RCP average.
  • Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA, 95%), currently ahead by 3.3 points in the RCP average.
  • Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA, 100%), currently ahead by 6.2 points in the RCP average.

According to Silver's own chart, Nevada (Reid) is in the category where 53% of leading candidates won their races; Washington state (Murray) is in the category where 75% of leading candidates won; and California (Boxer) is in the category where 100% of leading candidates won.

Let's leave the California race for last. In the first two, the lead does not create a particularly daunting challenge: Silver himself would say that the Nevada and Washington races were reasonably likely to go to the challenger, because historically, a reasonably large number did just that. Therefore, in two of my three examples, the "null hypothesis" is not ruled out; there is no discrepency between what I wrote and what Nate Silver wrote, therefore nothing to explain, justify, or square.

So let's turn to the one exception, the California race between Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiornina. In that race, Boxer is 6.2% ahead in the RCP average, landing in the category that has a 100% reelection rate since 1998. Does that mean Boxer is destined to hang onto her seat?

No, because it's not as simple as that. Admittedly, the California election is dicier than the other two; but let's turn to Mr. Silver again:

Mr. Toomey, for instance, is regarded as a 92 percent favorite by our model, which corresponds quite nicely to the 89 percent winning percentage that I described above. His winning percentage is a tiny bit higher than it might be for another candidate with a similar lead in the polls, because some of the other factors we account for in our model. For instance, there are an especially large number of polls in Pennsylvania, and they are all quite consistent with one another, which speaks toward his lead being slightly more robust than usual. In other cases -- if the polling is sparse or inconsistent, or if an unusually large number of undecided voters remain in the race -- the model will increase the uncertainty it attaches to a forecast.

In the Boxer-Fiorina race, the incumbent is 6.2 points up; but there is a relatively large 11.2% undecided, nearly double Boxer's lead. Fiorina can win the race by capturing 78% of the undecided vote, without having to flip a single Boxer supporter.

Too, the polls in the California race are not "consistent with one another;" the polls in the month of September range from Fiorina up 2 to Boxer up 9, an 11-point variance. By contrast, in the Pat Toomey race in Pennsylvania (which Silver cites as an example and stepping-off point for his post), the September polls range from Toomey up 3 to Toomey up 9, only a six-point variance, just over half that of the California race.

The most recent CNN/Time poll in California came in very high for Boxer; it's the highest lead any non-partisan poll has given her since May, and it's likely an outlier. By contrast, the most recent poll, SurveyUSA, gives Boxer a lead of only one-third the CNN poll.

If the next CNN poll comes out with Boxer up 4 instead of 9 (which is what the previous CNN in early September found), then Boxer would only be ahead by an RCP average of 5.3 points -- which would put the race in the same category as the Washington state Senate race. In that category, three out of 12 elections in Silver's database went to the underdog in the poll. Only a single poll -- a likely outlier at that -- puts the California race into the "6 to 9 point" category... so I give it less credence.

In any event, we'll see fairly soon; I stand by my prediction that all three Republicans will win.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 4, 2010, at the time of 7:10 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

What Next in California's "FireGate?"

Elections , Immigration Immolations , Liberal Lunacy
Hatched by Dafydd

Jerry Brown's catspaw, Gloria Allred, still refuses to say in what legal action she "represents" Nicandra "Nicky" Diaz Santillan, erstwhile housekeeper for Brown's opponent in the California gubernatorial race, Meg Whitman. One can only assume Allred intends to file a lawsuit against Whitman for -- what, rightful termination?

Allred (and Santillan) appear to be charging our next governor with waiting until good evidence of Santillan's illegality appeared before Whitman fired her, rather than seizing the opportunity to fire her years earlier on the basis of flimsy inuendo.

Then in the English-language debate held between Brown and Whitman, Jerry Brown -- the state Attorney General -- accused her of violating federal immigration and Social-Security laws, state disclosure law, and perjuring herself.

Once the absurdity of the charge is manifest, any slight advantage it affords candidate Brown dissipates. Then what to do, what to do?

There is only one course open, when the present alarums and excursions go pfft, like a snuffed candle: Jerry Brown, acting in his capacity as the chief law-enforcement official of the Sovereign State of California, will have to indict his electoral opponent for not having fired Santillan in 2003:

  • Brown can argue that any reasonable person would have inferred from the letter sent by the Social Security Agency -- the letter which included the admonition, "Moreover, this letter makes no statement about your employee's immigration status" -- that Santillan was an illegal alien.
  • Brown can cite legal cases, "points and authorities," to the effect that the phrase "Any employer that uses the information in this letter to justify taking adverse action against an employee may violate state or federal law and be subject to legal consequences" requires the employer to take adverse action against an employee using the information in that letter.
  • And he can conclude that by obeying the law, Whitman has proven herself a menace to society who should be locked up.

Besides, think how much an October-surprise indictment will damage Meg Whitman's campaign -- and by an amazing coincidence, propel AG Brown into the governor's mansion!

Snidery and sarcasm aside, in reality, I believe indicting Whitman would be the most politically foolhardy move of all of 2010... and that's saying quite a lot, since it competes with Rep. Loretta Sanchez's (D-CA, 90%) heartfelt cri de coeur:

The Vietnamese and the Republicans are, with an intensity, trying to take this seat from which we have done so much for our community -- to take this seat and give it to this Van Tran, who is very anti-immigrant and very anti-Hispanic.

...As well as Rep. Alan Grayson's (D-FL, 100%) attack on his Republican opponent, Daniel Webster, as a draft dodger, as blatantly unpatriotic, as a man who does not love America, and as "Taliban Dan Webster."

...And who can forget the third nominee in the category of self-immolating campaign buffoonery below and beneath the call of duty: Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-NC, 95%), in a drunken stupor, physically assaulting a student journalist for daring to ask Etheridge, "do you fully support the Obama agenda?"

...Heck, it would even beat out every exaggeration, every puffery, every weirdity, and each and every nuttery utterance of Republican congressional nominee Christine O'Donnell!

It's hard to think of anything that would backfire quicker than Jerry Brown indicting his own Republican opponent for governor. And the truly creepy element is that we're seriously discussing such a banana-republic gambit... from a former two-term governor of California.

I am unalterably convinced that if Brown were to push for an indictment or arrest of Whitman on this bogus charge, Meg Whitman would win the race in a landslide -- even from a jail cell. But even if Brown can control himself for the next four weeks, the fact that he appears to have focused his entire final push on snapping Ms. Whitman with a wet towel named Nicky Santillan tells me that he is utterly desperate.

My guess is that Brown's campaign mangler showed him the campaign's own internal polling... and ordered Brown to pull a rabbit from his hat immediately. Alas for the Democrats, the only rodent that Brown could find in his Sordid Hat was a gerbil.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 4, 2010, at the time of 2:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 1, 2010

Migra, Migra!

Elections , Immigration Immolations , Liberal Lunacy
Hatched by Dafydd

Anent the story which the California (and national!) media have siezed upon to try to derail Meg Whitman's campaign for governor in California...

Four facts appear undisputed:

  1. In 2000, Whitman used an employment agency to hire a housekeeper, Nicandra "Nicky" Diaz Santillan, at $23 per hour.
  2. Santillan had earlier presented the agency with a California driver's license and Social Security card, copies of which the agency provided Whitman.
  3. Those documents were in fact fraudulent -- they belonged to one of Santilan's sisters who lived in San Francisco.
  4. In 2009, Santillan disclosed to Whitman that she was an illegal immigrant and that the papers she had shown to Whitman were fraudulent; at that point, Whitman let her go, as the law requires.

A couple of days ago, grandstanding liberal activist attorney Gloria Allred -- who has donated money to Jerry Brown, Whitman's opponent in the gubernatorial race and an ancient relic of an earlier, loonier time in California history -- called a press conference to announce that she was representing Santillan (in what action?), whom she calls her "client." She triumphantly announced all of the above points, including that Santillan was in the country illegally and had used fraudulent documentation to get herself hired by Whitman. (I'm not sure how this helps her client, unless her real client is Jerry Brown.)

Allred also produced a 2003 letter to Whitman and her husband, Griffith Rutherford Harsh IV, from the Social Security Administration... not from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, as it was called then. The letter "raised discrepancies" about Santillan's documents, which even AP says was only "a possible tip-off that she could be in the U.S. illegally."

In fact, as Whizbang reports, the Social Security letter was about retirement and disability insurance... and the only reference it made to immigration was to forcefully note that nothing in the letter should be used to infer Santillan's immigration status!

The letter is posted in its entirety at TZM Documents, and it includes this paragraph:

This letter does not imply that you or your employee intentionally provided incorrect information about the employee's name or SSN. It is not a basis, in and of itself, for you to take any adverse action against the employee, such as laying off, suspending, firing, or discriminating against the individual. Any employer that uses the information in this letter to justify taking adverse action against an employee may violate state or federal law and be subject to legal consequences. Moreover, this letter makes no statement about your employee's immigration status.

Hm.

Allred argues that the letter constituted absolute evidence that Santillan was in the country illegally... and that Whitman must somehow have known about it and realized she was employing an illegal all the way back in 2003.

My problem with this hit job is simple: Can somebody please tell me exactly what charge Gloria Allred is leveling at Whitman? I know this can't be right, but it seems for all the world as if Allred -- liberal activist, immigration activist, and feminist activist -- accuses Whitman of failing to harm Allred's client in a timely manner.

Whitman didn't fire Santillan in 2003 on the basis of a simple inquiry letter from the SSA -- a letter which threatens "legal consequences" against anyone using that letter as the basis of "laying off, suspending, firing, or discriminating against the individual." Instead, she waited until Santillan actually informed her she was illegal. Only then did Whitman reluctantly fire her longtime friend and housekeeper, as the law requires.

Am I misunderstanding this? Is Allred's attack on Whitman really that the gubernatorial candidate failed to jump to conclusions, failed to violate state and federal law, and failed to fire the woman at the first conceivable opportunity, only doing so when she had actual proof that Nicky Diaz Santillan had defrauded her and was breaking the law?

(And suppose Whitman had fired Santillan back in 2003; would that, then, form the basis of Allred's attack... that Whitman broke the law by discriminating against her friend and employee without any solid evidence of illegality?)

More bizarreness:

One of the state's largest public employee unions immediately released a Spanish-language attack ad accusing Whitman of a double standard on illegal immigration.

You mean... one standard for businesses, which requires them actually to investigate the residency status of their employees -- and another standard for individuals, which requires only that they not knowingly hire illegals? That's the "double standard" that outrages the Hispanic community in California?

What would they prefer? A mandate that even private individuals hiring maids, nannies, and housekeepers launch full-scale investigations and background checks to determine who is here legally? I suspect the natural response to such a draconian requirement would be not to hire anyone at all, but simply to make do without.

Somehow I'm not getting the point of this entire hit piece. It appears that an ultra-liberal Jerry Brown surrogate, Gloria Allred, is charging Meg Whitman with failing to racially discriminate against Santillan.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 1, 2010, at the time of 12:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 30, 2010

The "Loudest Minute" Begins in Florida as Crist Sinks

Elections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

In yesterday's post, the Loudest Minute, I offered a few examples of longtime incumbents in Washington state, California, and Nevada who couldn't break through the 49%-52% ceiling of support; I opined thus:

These are classic examples of incuments who simply cannot close the deal. Given that, I expect that starting in October, Rossi, Fiorina, and Angle will "unexpectedly" surge forward by at least the amount of the undecided respondents, which ranges from three to eight percent.

We're starting to see some actual "unexpected" surging in the U.S. Senate race in another state, Florida... not for front-runner this time, but for runner-up:

[Coat-turning Gov. Charlie] Crist had been leading the state's three-way Senate race in surveys taken after he abandoned his failing Republican primary campaign in April and switched to independent, presenting himself as a middle-of-the-road alternative to both parties. His campaign envisioned a formula of centrist Democrats, liberal Republicans and independents -- a counterweight, strategists thought, to the tea-party movement boosting his chief competitor in the race, GOP nominee Marco Rubio.

But surveys now show [Marco] Rubio, a former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, taking the lead and Mr. Crist dropping into a battle for second place with Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek, a congressman from the Miami area. Mr. Rubio is ahead among independents and Mr. Meek is beating Mr. Crist among Democrats, according to a Mason-Dixon poll released over the weekend.

The survey showed 40% of voters backing Mr. Rubio, 28% Mr. Crist and 23% Mr. Meek.

Notice how close Kendrick Meek is to Crist; we'll come back to that point in a moment.

While the Rubio surge may be news to the conventional-wisdom media, it actually began a month and a half ago. Crist had elbowed his way into the lead even before May 13th, the day he renounced his Republicanism and declared himself "unaffiliated with any party" -- running as a squishy, "third way," grey area between the liberal Kendrick Meek and the conservative, Tea-Party-esque Marco Rubio. Looking at the RCP polling history, Crist was solidly in the lead in the three-man race by anywhere from three to 11 points in every single poll except Rasmussen. (Rasmussen continually showed Crist tied with or trailing Rubio.)

Crist's front-runnership lasted right up until August 9th-11th, when both Rasmussen and Mason-Dixon noticed a Rubio surge. A Quinnipiac poll a few days later still found Crist ahead by 7 points, but that proved to be a late outlier; in fact, since August 16th, every single poll conducted by anyone has shown Marco Rubio with a substantial lead. And since September 11th, Rubio has led in every poll by double digits.

The latest Mason-Dixon poll that the Wall Street Journal is so het-up about is just one of seven polls that show Rubio with a commanding lead of 11 to 16 points. Simply put, Charlie Crist is toast, and Marco Rubio is the next senator from Florida.

Ergo, the Florida race for the lead is not really an example of a well-known incumbent running ahead or neck and neck with an unknown challenger in a two-man race: It's a three-way, not a two-way race; Rubio is nearly as well known as Crist; and he has been running strongly ahead of the sitting governor for many weeks. The main event fits none of the three criteria from our previous post.

But there is a perfect example lurking in the sideshow of this race, far away from the big top... and that is the race for the silver medal between Crist and Kendrick Meek:

  • The race for "first loser" is a two-man contest between Crist and Meek.
  • I cannot imagine that Meek is anywhere near as well known as either Gov. Crist or the high-profile former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Marco Rubio. Meek's electoral victories have all been pro-forma events, as his district is so liberal that Meek ran unopposed all four times. In fact, in 2008, he was "automatically elected" without even being on the ballot, as he had no opposition at all -- not even a write-in candidate. I suspect that he is little known outside his own district.
  • Meek has been behind Crist in every three-way poll, but not by much; Crist has been unable to nail down second place.

Taking the September polls and ignoring front-running Rubio, we see the following pattern:

Lead-in paragraph:

Caption here
Poll/date Crist Meek Crist lead Undecided/other
Sunshine St. News 9/7 34 24 10 5
CNN/Time 9/7 34 24 10 6
Fox News 9/11 27 21 6 9
Reuters 9/12 26 21 5 13
Rasmussen 9/14 30 23 7 6
Mason-Dixon 9/22 28 23 5 9
Quinnipiac 9/26 30 18 12 3
CNN/Time 9/28 31 23 8 4
Rasmussen 9/28 30 21 9 8

The important numbers here are those in bold italics, and the take-away is that in all but two polls (marked in blue), Crist's lead over Meek is very close to the the number of undecideds and those voting for some other candidate; that is a tenuous lead for a sitting governor and arguably the best known candidate in Florida; it indicates a very strong chance that Charlie Crist will in fact come in third in the Senate race, as the undecideds break for Meek or for Rubio, abandoning the Ineffable Crist.

The "why" is fairly obvious in this case: Republican partisans dislike Crist because he turned his coat; Democrat partisans dislike him because he used to tout himself as a staunch conservative; and the vast middle of liberal Republicans, moderate Democrats, and Independents -- the constituency he targeted for his run -- dislike him because he flip-flopped on a number of hot-button issues, such as ObamaCare... and because most voters really don't like candidates who are neither fish nor fowl, "beyond Left and Right," no matter what they tell pollsters about the joys of "centrism."

In reality, we like to enforce centrism by electing lefties and righties and letting them duke it out... not by electing squishy, indecisive, "on the one hand, on the other hand" ditherers whose position on actual bills is always a deeply shrouded mystery until the roll is actually called.

But watch your hat and coat, because the race for first loser fits the Lizardian paradigm: If Crist manages to eke out a second-place finish, it will be by the film on his unbrushed teeth.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 30, 2010, at the time of 1:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 29, 2010

The Loudest Minute

Elections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

A Lizardian maxim is that in elections, the last minute is the loudest minute. That is, last-minute roaring surges are the norm, rather than the exception.

In particular, in a race in which incumbent (or much better-known) nominees are running against little-known challengers, the same pattern typically emerges: If the incumbent cannot break through the 50% ceiling by a significant margin -- say consistently averaging 54% or better -- then in the last month, undecideds will generally break for the challenger.

The reason is simple. Voters have waited and waited for the incumbent to give them a reason to reelect him; but if he cannot make the sale by October, he likely won't do it at all: He's so well known already that he has no surprises left. By contrast, the lesser known candidate still has a great surprise-potential; and as voters become impatient for a reason to reelect the incumbent, they take a longer, friendlier look at the challenger.

I dub this the "stale incumbent" factor.

Of course, the challenger's "surprise" could also be something terribly negative, leading to a surge for the incumbent. It doesn't usually happen; if such a deal-killer existed, it would almost certainly have already come out earlier. In Delaware, Democrat Chris Coons is wasting no time bringing out all the nutter utterances of Tea Partier and Republican nominee Christine O'Donnell; he's not waiting for the last week, he's been pounding on her since the moment she won the nomination!

In most (two-person) elections where (a) an incumbent is not noticibly above 50% by October, and (b) the challenger or his party has a tailwind, the challenger will win -- even if he is running somewhat behind the incumbent right up through the last poll.

I think we're seeing that dynamic right now in Washington state, based upon Paul Mirengoff's reporting in Power Line. He begins:

I've been a bit disappointed by the polls I've seen of the Senate race in Washington State. Dino Rossi, an attractive Republican challenger who very nearly was elected Governor in 2004, has been consistently behind incumbent Patty Murray. Murray's average lead, according to Real Clear Politics is 5.3 percentage points.

The pattern occurs in many, many races this fall:

  • Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA, 95%) has led challenger Dino Rossi in the U.S. Senate race there in sixteen out of 24 polls since January (one was a tie), and this month she has led by 5-9 points. But she has never managed to get to 54% the entire year -- not even once. In fact, in all the polls in which she has been ahead, she has only been above 50% four times. Most of the time, Murray has been mired in the 40s, even when she led Rossi.
  • Similarly in California, Barbara Boxer (D-CA, 100%) is limping along in the mid-to-high 40s in most polls (the CNN/Time and the LA Times polls have her above 50%, but no others). Republican nominee Carly Fiorina is riding 6.8% behind... which would be a likely loss, if the split were Boxer 53 to Fiorina 46, instead of Boxer 49.5 to Fiorina 42.5.
  • And in Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%) has never been above 50% in any poll this year, and he only touched 50% one time. (Republican nominee Sharron Angle hit 50% three times, and once she even nosed above to 51%.)

These are classic examples of incuments who simply cannot close the deal. Given that, I expect that starting in October, Rossi, Fiorina, and Angle will "unexpectedly" surge forward by at least the amount of the undecided respondents, which ranges from three to eight percent.

As Paul reports, such a jump seems to have begun a bit early:

But two very recent polls suggest a closer race. A Survey USA poll released on September 23 shows Murray leading by a margin of 50-48. And a Fox News/Pulse Opinion Research survey of 1,000 likely voters, taken on September 25, has Murray leading by only 48-47. Both "leads" are within the margin of error.

That puts the race dead even within the margin of error. But there is another factor at play here: When voter sentiment for Republicans is rising, pollsters typically underestimate it; but when voter sentiment for Democrats is rising, pollsters typically overestimate it. I call this the "I can't believe it's not butter!" factor: Pollsters see surging Republicans -- and they just can't believe it.

They conclude they must have accidentally "oversampled" GOP respondents, so they "correct" their mistake by reweighting the poll, reducing the number of likely GOP voters by enough of a percent that the final results show... well, whatever number seems more "reasonable" to the pollster.

They're not deliberately cheating; they're just dead certain that Republicans cannot possibly be doing that well, and they don't want to report such an obvious "outlier" and be embarassed on election day. And hey, none of their friends are voting for the Republican; how well could the GOP possibly be doing?

Contrariwise, when a typical pollster sees Democrats rising, it's just what he's been expecting all along. He gets excited and again monkeys with the weighting of likely voters, giving the Dems the boost that he believes, to the bottom of their soles, is what's really happening.

This pro-Democrat, anti-GOP fudge factor typically amounts to at least 2% and sometimes as high as 5% - 6%. The "I can't believe it's not butter!" factor and the "stale incumbent" factor are additive: If Republicans are ascendent in an election cycle, most races in which the final poll is 50-50 or even 52-48 for the Democrat -- will "unexpectedly" break for the Republican when the actual vote is counted, prompting Democrats to file a lawsuit and try to sue their way into office. (And assuming Democratic voter fraud is not so rampant that it overcomes all obstacles.)

That is why we predict that the GOP will in fact win all the so-called "toss-up" races in November and may even pick up one or two Democratic leaners or likelies. And that is why we're nor surprised to see Dino Rossi suddenly neck and neck with "Patsy" Murray.

Nor will Bill Clinton campaigning for Murray turn the race around; nobody in Washington state doubts that Murray is a good liberal or that Clinton supports Democrats over Republicans... so of what value is a campaign turn by the popular former president?

In general, campaigning by more senior politicians only has a significant impact when the lucky recipient of such help is himself little known; in that case, support from a better-known and popular figure can reassure the base. For example, Sarah Palin campaigning for her virtually unknown "Mama Grizzlys" is extremely helpful. But Bill Clinton stumping for embattled incumbents -- not so much.

I'm pretty sure Rossi will win on November 2nd... just as I'm pretty sure Carly Fiorina will beat Barbara Boxer in the Golden State and Sharron Angle will defeat "Pinky" Reid in the Silver State. None of the incumbents seems capable of closing the sale, despite -- or because of -- many years in office.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 29, 2010, at the time of 5:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 27, 2010

Paladino (R) vs. Cuomo (D) - Steel-Cage Death Match, Loser Leaves Town!

Elections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

In this follow-up to a follow-up, we have one new and very welcome piece of news on the New York governor's race. Our two previous posts on this topic are here:

In our second post above, I included this mini-prediction:

And despite the possibility that Rick Lazio could run as a third-party Conservative -- which I doubt, actually, if it looks like it would throw the race to Cuomo -- the Quinnipiac poll found only 1% of respondents saying they planned to vote for someone other than Cuomo or Paladino in the election; so it's a two-man race.

Well now it's officially a two-man race (aside from fourth-party loony-tunes), as Rick Lazio has bowed out of the race for exactly the reason we predicted:

Lazio, who lost the Republican primary to Paladino, said at a Manhattan news conference today that staying on the ticket made a Cuomo win more likely....

“While my heart beckons me forward, my head tells me that my continued presence on the Conservative line would simply lead to the election of Andrew Cuomo and the continuation of an entrenched political machine,” Lazio said.

Instead, Lazio will accept a nomination to the New York Supreme Court -- which is what most states would refer to as Superior, District, or Circuit Courts, since it's an ordinary trial court. (What the rest of us call a Supreme Court in that state would be the New York Court of Appeals.) Evidently, this is one of the few ways he can actually force his own removal from the ballot.

He had been representing the Conservative ballot line; historically, Republicans rarely get elected statewide in New York if they don't represent both the Republican and Conservative lines; and the Chairman of the Conservative Party of New York, Michael Long, really hates Carl Paladino:

As recently as last week, however, Long intimated he'd rather lose the governor's race than see Tea Party Paladino win it, slamming the WNY businessman's "hateful rhetoric" and praising Lazio's intention to tackle an "out-of-control" Legislature.

During their meeting, Long, Lazio and Paladino discussed "the right way to do this. Carl wanted Rick's support, and Rick wanted Carl to stay focused on the issues about what's wrong with Albany and leave out the personal attacks," the second source told Lovett.

However, Long appears to have come to his senses. In the Bloomberg story linked above, he says:

Lazio, who lost the Republican primary to Paladino, said at a Manhattan news conference today that staying on the ticket made a Cuomo win more likely. The Conservative Party will probably vote to nominate Paladino on Sept. 29, Chairman Michael Long said.

“If there’s anything that all conservatives are in agreement on, it’s that Andrew Cuomo should not be the next governor,” Long said in an interview.

Long said he intends to campaign for Paladino, and the party will nominate Lazio for a judgeship.

On the polling front, Cuomo still leads Paladino by a wide margin; but on the other hand, a second nationally respected pollster, SurveyUSA, joins Quinnipiac in showing Cuomo below the magical 50% level, indicating the Man Who Would Inherit the Governor's Mansion still hasn't closed the deal with New York voters.

Keep watching the skies, and let's see how much of Lazio's Conservative support Paladino picks up over the next couple of weeks.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 27, 2010, at the time of 5:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 23, 2010

The Pledge Report

Confusticated Conservatives , Econ. 101 , Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Today, the Republicans released what they call, with obvious reference, their Pledge to America. Many fiscal conservatives and TPers are savaging the Pledge on grounds that it doesn't go nearly as far as necessary; a good example is Karl, a too-infrequent guest poster at Patterico's Pontifications. (Note to Patterico: More Karl, please!)

Karl inexplicably sees the Pledge less as a political campaign document than as a roadmap (if I may use that term) to how the new GOP majority will govern... and by this analysis, the Pledge comes up wanting:

This year, with the odds already favoring the GOP regaining a House majority, it is again better to judge the new “Pledge” -- which this year’s candidates are not even formally agreeing to support -- on the basis of how well it serves as a governing document and potential confidence builder....

The rise of the Tea Party was driven in no small part by failures in political leadership, particularly Republican leadership. The political task of Republican leadership now is to reconcile the demands of the Tea Party (and, more broadly, the small-government base of the GOP) with the limits imposed by a divided government and the need to attract swing voters who are voting more for gridlock than they are for Republicans. There is not much in the Pledge to suggest the House GOP has figured out how to square that circle.

I don't follow Karl's logic. The main beef every other detractor has against the Pledge is that it comprises nothing but vague generalities; how can that be a governing document, when governing documents tend to be tortuous, byzantine exercises in lawyerese? At best, the Pledge to America is a restatment of the foundational principles of the United States of America, axioms which the GOP now pledges to rededicate itself to restoring.

I have a very different take than Karl: Pledges are useful distractions; by nature, they're all nothing but campaign broadsides:

  • Pledges always materialize before the election, never after. Obviously they're intended to affect the outcome in a way favorable to the pledgers.
  • It's impossible to know exactly how the new majority will govern, because you never know in advance the contours of victory. Will the new Squeaker of the House have enough hegemony to control the agenda? Will the Senate majority be filibuster-proof? Will the president decide to cooperate with the new Congress in order to leave a legacy -- or fight hammer and tooth out of quixotic principle, quasi-legal bribery from special-interest lobbyists, or out of sheer cussedness?
  • Nobody knows for sure how the new majority will vote in the congressional leadership elections, hence who will be running the show.
  • Nobody knows what unexpected crises will derail the entire agenda. Think of mid-September 2001 for an extreme example.
  • Nobody can say for sure how the judiciary will respond, and how that might reshape the majority's governance.

Once in power, the majority will decide and revamp its own agenda on a continuing basis, and it may or may not resemble any previous pledge. Furthermore, voters will approve or reject it based upon its ongoing content -- not whether it conforms with a campaign promise.

I mean what I write: I don't believe significant numbers of voters really care whether an elected representative does what he said he would do; they care that he does what they (now) want him to do! On some occasions, voters may actually demand that an earlier pledge be broken; think of those hapless Democrats elected in 2008 on a pro-ObamaCare platform, who today feel compelled to run away from the very package for which they voted, threatened by the very constituents who were for it before they were against it!

For that matter, think of Barack H. Obama in the 2008 elections: The only people who cared that he broke his solemn oath to accept public funding -- were those who never had any intention of voting for him in the first place. His supporters didn't give a rat's badonkadonk.

In any event, earlier pledges are far less important than what the majority does in office. Case in point: Tea Partiers will be furious if the new GOP majority doesn't cut the budget significantly below its level in November 2008; but their anger will be just as great given the Pledge to America -- which only promises a cutback to the last George W. Bush budget, which in this scenario the GOP fulfills -- as they would have been had the GOP promised to cut back to, say, the 2004 budget, then broken that promise.

The anger is the same; they would just use different words to describe it... "fiscal irresponsibility" in the first scenario, "a broken pledge" in the second.

As a campaign tactic, I think the Pledge works just fine. It aligns the GOP with the midpoint on the anger scale... going not as far as Tea Partiers would want but probably further than many Independents and "moderate" Democrats (Jim Webb, e.g.) prefer.

(I called pledges "useful distractions" above; they're useful because they can help boot Democrats out of office; they're distractions because they discombobulate the multitudinous liberal talking heads, since a good pledge must be answered by some handwaving -- time those master debaters could have better spent going on the attack instead of playing defense.)

As far as governing, the test will be who gets the chairmanships of which committees, and what they do once ensconced in their new chairs. We need to see some significant shakeups in the current heirarchy to be reassured it's not just business as usual. If every financial, banking, taxing, and spending committee chairmanship slides automatically to the ranking Republican, and if the current Republican leadership moves seamlessly from minority to majority, then we'll know that the tin-ear GOP has done it again -- and 2012 may become another 2006.

But if a few ranking old toots on critical committees find themselves passed over in favor of younger, more dynamic, and more economically conservative members, we should be optimistic that Republicans have finally learnt their lesson.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 23, 2010, at the time of 11:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 22, 2010

Cuomo Drops Below 50% - and Lizards Say He's Goin' Down

Elections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

A follow-up on our previous post, Oh Don't Be Such a Baby, about the hard charging Republican Carl Paladino, who is giving heir apparent Andrew Cuomo an unexpected run for his gobs of money in the New York gubernatorial race.

After paraphrasing Abe Lincoln by saying "I like this Republican; he fights," I added the following parenthetical and perhaps cryptic remark:

(Check back in two weeks and see whether Andrew Cuomo has dropped below 50% on Rasmussen; if he has, he's toast.)

Obviously I had no foreknowledge, or I would have written, "Check back tomorrow." Because today -- yesterday's tomorrow -- I woke up to this New York Times story about "Republican" Mayor Michael Bloomberg of NYC endorsing Democrat Andrew Cuomo, son of liberal icon, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.

And why is Bloomberg endorsing Cuomo? First, because Bloomberg is that rara avis, an actual, honest-to-wickedness RINO, a lifelong Democrat who switched to the GOP just because the Democratic mayorial primary was too crowded; and second, because of this tidbit buried in the story:

Released Wednesday by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, the poll found that Mr. Cuomo, the state attorney general and Democratic candidate for governor, leads Mr. Paladino by just 49 percent to 43 percent among likely voters, driven by overwhelming support for Mr. Paladino by voters considering themselves part of the Tea Party movement.

The poll surveyed 751 New York voters defined by Quinnipiac as likely to vote in November -- as opposed to earlier polls that surveyed all registered voters -- and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.

This is the first poll in the entire campaign in which Andrew Cuomo was not above 50%, and generally far above -- as high as 60% in the last Quinnipiac poll less than a month ago.

Why did I write that slipping below 50% likely means that Cuomo is "toast?" It's a well-known maxim of polling: When the incumbent is below 50% in a two-person race this close to the election, and the challenger seems to have momentum, then the incumbent is very likely to lose.

The reason is that the incumbent in a race is a known quantity; voters have had years to decide what they think about him -- there's nothing new and exciting about the office-holder. Contrariwise, a challenger is often new and fresh, and he always has room to grow in stature and popularity... or to plummet to the depths.

But with the election looming, almost certainly anything really bad about the challenger that can be brought out already has been, especially if the incumbent is a savvy campaigner. Typically, the race "tightens" as the election looms... which usually means the challenger moves closer to the incumbent.

Andrew Cuomo is not actually the incumbent, of course; it's an open seat, as current appointed Gov. David Paterson is not running for "reelection" -- an odd word for a man who was never actually elected on his own to any post higher than state senator. Paterson withdrew from the race due to widespread voter anger at his fiscal mismanagement of the state and looming witness-tampering and Superbowl tickets scandals, all of which led to an unpopularity that made the idea of Paterson running for reelection almost a joke.

But Cuomo now occupies the "pseudo-incumbent" position: The entire electorate knows every detail about his career, his positions, his plans, his rhetorical style, his ambition, his ruthlessness, his parentage, and everything else, and has known for nearly three decades. Andrew Cuomo personifies the political establishment and "business as usual" in New York state.

It's unlikely that anybody who is not supporting Cuomo today will suddenly decide to support him on election day; typically, the undecideds at that point will break to the challenger... if Cuomo could have made the sale with them, he already would have. And despite the possibility that Rick Lazio could run as a third-party Conservative -- which I doubt, actually, if it looks like it would throw the race to Cuomo -- the Quinnipiac poll found only 1% of respondents saying they planned to vote for someone other than Cuomo or Paladino in the election; so it's a two-man race.

Barring some really nasty October surprise regarding Carl Paladino (which seems unlikely, given the unfriendly media scrutiny so far), I believe Paladino will continue drifting up, while Cuomo slowly sinks:

  • Following Paladino's primary victory on September 14th, Cuomo's lead over Paladino plummeted from 30-40 points down to 16 points from Rasmussen, and now down to a scant 6 points from Quinnipiac; the last Quinnipiac poll in August had Cuomo ahead of Paladino by 37 points, and the previous Rasmussen poll in July had Cuomo ahead by 29 points. Paladino has all the "big mo."
  • Much of Paladino's support comes from Tea Partiers, whose number is growing.
  • The enthusiasm gap strongly favors Republicans this year.
  • By a large plurality (41%), likely voters in the Quinnipiac survey say that the most important quality that will guide their choice for governor is that the candidate "can bring about needed change to Albany" -- beating "shares values" (22%), "Honest/Trustworthy" (21%), and "Right experience" (10%). "Change" always favors a little-known challenger over a better-known establishment figure (think Barack H. Obama over John McCain, or George W. Bush over Al Gore).

For all these reasons, unless this Quinnipiac poll turns out to be an outlier, I say Andrew Cuomo is toast -- and Tea-Party Republican Carl Paladino is the next governor of New York state.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 22, 2010, at the time of 5:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 15, 2010

O'Donnellphobia

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

I still think it's going to be very, very difficult for Christine O'Donnell, the GOP nominee for U.S. senator from Delaware, to win the general election there. Not impossible, but a lot less likely than, say, Joe Miller's chances in Alaska (which are excellent).

It's not just the 10-point deficit -- which will probably instantly drop to about a 5-point deficit, now that she's the nominee. The problem is the problematical nature of the problem-child herself: Christine O'Donnell is simply a lousy candidate; she only won in the primary because Tea Partiers wanted another scalp, and they didn't care about the long term consequences (where "long term" in this case means "49 days from yesterday").

She can't answer simple policy questions, she has a history of financial flakiness, she has no experience in office, and she seems a bit, well, loopy. As we get closer to November 2nd, I believe her manifest unfitness for the job will cause the gap against her to widen, not shrink, as her primary-victory bump recedes; she'll end up losing to Democrat Chris Coons by about 7 or 8 points.

But honestly, I don't see what all the hysterics are about. Until recently, I didn't believe Republicans had a chance in a million of picking up ten Senate seats this year -- which is what it takes for the GOP to seize the majority. But now, I think we have an excellent chance -- with or without Delaware.

Here are the 19 Democratic seats up for election this year::

Democratic seats up for reelection
State Candidate RCP polling category
Arkansas Blanche Lincoln (incumbent) Safe Republican
California Barbara Boxer (incumbent) Toss-up
Colorado Michael Bennet (incumbent) Toss-up
Connecticut Richard Blumenthal Lean Democrat
Delaware Chris Coons Likely Democrat
Hawaii Daniel Inouye (incumbent) Safe Democrat
Illinois Alexi Giannoulias Toss-up
Indiana Brad Ellsworth Likely Republican
Maryland Barbara Mikulski (incumbent) Safe Democrat
Nevada Harry Reid (incumbent) Toss-up
New York Chuck Schumer (incumbent) Safe Democrat
New York (special) Kirsten Gillibrand (appointed) Likely Democrat
North Dakota Tracy Potter Safe Republican
Oregon Ron Wyden (incumbent) Likely Democrat
Pennsylvania Joe Sestak Lean Republican
Vermont Pat Leahy (incumbent) Safe Democrat
Washington Patty Murray (incumbent) Toss-up
West Virginia Joe Manchin Lean Democrat
Wisconsin Russell Feingold (incumbent) Toss-up

We assume Republicans will pick up all seats labeled Safe Republican, Likely Republican, Lean Republican, and Toss-up. There are no seats currently held by the GOP that fall in the categories of Toss-up, Lean Democrat, Likely Democrat, or Safe Democrat; thus, we assume Republicans will hold all their current Senate seates. Thus, we should have a net pickup of ten from the low-hanging fruit alone... and note that does not include a pickup in Delaware, which RCP now rates as "Likely Democrat."

But in a strong GOP year like this one, we should pick up at least half of the "Lean Democrat" seats; that gives us an additional seat from either West Virginia or Connecticut, for a net pickup of 11 for Republicans.

Finally, there are three "Likely Democrat" seats; I'd bet that with a Cat-5 Republican hurricane, we can even pick up one of those, choosing from Delaware, Oregon, or the New York special election (to fill the seat currently occupied by Kirsten Gillibrand, appointed to Hillary Clinton's seat after the latter became Secretary of State). That means a net pickup of 12 seats for the GOP... just based on current polling. (And I expect the polling to get even better for the Republicans by election time, since Democrats seem intent upon alienating as many voters as humanly possible.)

I allocate all the "Safe Democrat" seats to the Democrats.

That means, when the smoke clears, I predict the GOP will hold 53 seats in the U.S. Senate, while Democrats (and third-party groupies) will hold but 47. On a good day, we hold the other "Lean Democrat" and maybe a couple of the "Likely Democrat" seats for a majority of 55 Repubs to 45 Dems. If the day breaks badly for the GOP, we capture only the Republican-leaning and toss-up seats for a scant majority of 51 Repubs to 49 Dems.

But were we to fail even to achieve a majority, that almost certainly means we lose several of the toss-ups, as well as all the Democrat-leaning races. Under those distressing conditions, we'll probably lose half the toss-ups, thus ending up with a net pickup of only seven, for a total of 48 Repubs to 52 Dems... still enough to sustain a filibuster but not enough to hail Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, 96%).

The odds that we would pick up exactly nine Democratic Senate seats, such that Christine O'Donnell's victory yesterday would actually cost us the majority, seem remote to say the least: Either we'll easily surpass 10, or else we'll fall significantly short of that mark.

So let's all buck up, support O'Donnell (as the National Republican Senatorial Committee is now doing, with the maximum contribution allowed by law), and understand that a GOP majority in the Senate is not going to hinge on Delaware, come what may.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 15, 2010, at the time of 5:59 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 26, 2010

Pyrrhic Evictory - the World Nods to the Lizards

Elections , Injudicious Judiciary , Kulturkampf , Liberal Lunacy , Matrimonial Madness , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

We published a post titled "Pyrrhic Evictory" a couple of weeks ago, just a week after Judge "Dredd" Walker issued his August 4th ruling -- a date which will live in infamy -- that the traditional definition of marriage is and always has been unconstitutional. Walker's ruling would have come as a great shock to the authors of the Constitution; if the original Federalists were alive today, they'd be spinning in their graves.

In that post, I suggested that one of the most immediate serendipitous fallouts of the ruling would be in the race for California's governor, between the former eBay CEO Meg Whitman in the Republican corner, and the former worst governor in California history, Democrat Jerry Brown. (Actually, I believe he still defends the title.) Why this race in particular? Because Jerry Brown, now the Attorney General of California, flatly refused to defend the voter-enacted, state constitutional amendment Proposition 8 in court. Working in concert with "Republican" Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brown hoped that by the pair's refusal to defend the law, it would be swiftly overturned in federal district court by default judgment.

But Judge Dredd had other plans: He intended to hold a show trial to humiliate opponents of same-sex marriage (SSM), and no two elected pantywaists were going to thwart him! Accordingly, Walker allowed standing as defendants for a group called ProtectMarriage.com, the group that brought Proposition 8 to the ballot and got it enacted.

However, directly the show trial ended, Walker announced that in his august (and August) opinion, ProtectMarriage.com inexplicably lost the standing Walker himself had granted them, presumably on grounds that they're nothing but a bunch of bigots and homophobes... as proven by the fact that they dared defend Proposition 8. Consequently, Judge Walker has essentially ordered the Ninth Circuit and the Supreme Court not to accept any appeal of or writ of certiorari anent his Prop 8 decision... now that the urgent task of making a statement in favor of SSM is already accomplished.

This brings us, by a commodious vicus of recirculation, back to my prediction. In case you've forgotten in all the excitement, I predicted a fortnight ago that the ruling would terribly damage Jerry Brown's re-gubernatorial campaign, since he was one of those who said the people should not be represented in a case about -- the constitutionality of an amendment enacted by the people.

Today, the first post-Dreddnought Rasmussen poll was released... and Meg Whitman has leapt from -2 against Brown the day before the ruling -- to +8 today. That's a 10-point surge for the next governor of the Golden State.

Now some of that is simply that Brown's aggressively slanderous campaign against her had pretty much ended (except on Power Line <g>). The charges were not merely false but ludicrously so, and voters wised up fairly quickly. But since then, Whitman has come out foursquare in favor of Proposition 8, stating that when she is governor, she will defend it vigorously. I cannot but attribute at least some significant portion of her remarkable climb to the epic battle to defend Proposition 8 and traditional marriage.

Even many voters who opposed Prop 8 and support SSM are nevertheless beside themselves with outrage at the way the federal judiciary simply swatted aside a huge, statewide vote of 13.5 million citizens -- with the active connivance of our liberal Democratic state Attorney General and "Republican" governor. Patterico, of P's P, is one of them; he supports SSM and voted against Prop 8... but he accepts the finality of the vote, at least until a later vote might overturn it. (At which point, I would sadly accept the finality of that vote, and would fight to defend it against judicial tyranny.)

Patterico represents many tens of thousands of citizens, here and in every other state. Outraged Californios are already taking out their frustrations on Jerry Brown, and I predict a lot more will pile on by November 2nd. (Schwarzenegger is term-limited out, which is why Brown and Whitman are tussling over his soon to be former office.)

Even for supporters of SSM, the Prop 8 shenanigans perfectly mirror the genesis of what we have been calling the popular front for Capitalism and against government expansion: When the people vote, then berobed overlords unvote our vote with no better reason than their "superior, enlightened" vision -- then the proper response is first to chuck out all the bums who support those judges; and then, with a friendlier Congress, to impeach the kritarchs and kick out the JAMs. Via Rasmussen (and very soon other pollsters), the world is visibly catching up to our Big Lizards prediction. As Browning put it:

The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn
;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven --
All's right with the world
!

No more playing defense with those who would sell out our liberty for their power. Starting today, let us prey.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 26, 2010, at the time of 4:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 25, 2010

Murkowski Miller Prediction: It's Miller Time!

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

I'm looking at the unofficial results of the Alaska election, in particular at the Republican senatorial primary, pitting establishment candidate and incrumbent Lisa Murkowski (R-AK, 68%) against the Sarah-Palin backed Tea Partier, "Average" Joe Miller.

Full disclosure: Of course I support Miller; I think the whole Murkowski family is of suspect ethics, and I despise the way Lisa Murkowski got her seat... Her dad, the former senator, was elected governor of Alaska -- so he appointed his daughter to fill the remainder of his term. Can the Murkowski clan spell nepotism?

Anyway, as of this moment, the vote count stands thus:

  • Joe Miller - 46,620
  • Lisa Murkowsi - 45,128

Differential: Miller is ahead by 1,492 (what a curious number...)

99.54% of the precincts have reported, and I understand about 7,500 absentee ballots remain to be counted. Thus, as a rough guess, the incumbent would have to win the absentees by about 4,500 to 3,000. In other words, Murkowski must win 60% of the absentees to claim victory in the primary.

Since she lost the poll race by more than a point and a half, and since I haven't seen any evidence that the absentees are breaking so much more strongly for Murkowski than those who voted at the polls, I conclude that the most likely outcome is that Joe Miller wins the primary and becomes the Republican nominee.

My guess is also that in this year, in this state, it's going to be awfully difficult for Democrat Scott McAdams, who only got about 15,000 votes in his primary to win it, to overcome Joe Miller in the general election. (For reference, the entire leftist field, Democras plus a Libertarian, got about 30,000 votes, versus 90,000 for the Republican field.)

So things are looking pretty good in the Last Frontier (Alaska's rather egotistical state nickname).

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 25, 2010, at the time of 5:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 15, 2010

Math-terful Solution

Elections , Mathemagics
Hatched by Dafydd

I must admit, this creative solution to an electoral dilemma in Port Chester, NY, strikes me as quite intriguing. Ordinarily, I don't like voting gimmicks; they're generally just special pleading accompanied by "affirmative action" under another name. But this system appears to be designed specifically to avoid racial preferences.

First, the problem:

Although the village of about 30,000 residents is nearly half Hispanic, no Latino had ever been elected to any of the six trustee seats, which until now were chosen in a conventional at-large election. Most voters were white, and white candidates always won.

Federal Judge Stephen Robinson, nominated by George W. Bush and confirmed in 2003, found the current situation to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act; something had to be done.

Of course, the best solution to this problem is to encourage Hispanics to turn out in greater numbers; and let's take it as given that various groups, both within and without the Hispanic community, tried to do so -- yet failed to budge the meter. Now, the normal tack taken in this liberal age would be to change the voting to district by district, then gerrymander one or two of them so that a Hispanic trustee was guaranteed. Indeed, Robinson considered that suggestion and rejected it.

But here is what he did decide instead:

[Judge Robinson] approved a remedy suggested by village officials: a system called cumulative voting, in which residents get six votes each to apportion as they wish among the candidates. He rejected a government proposal to break the village into six districts, including one that took in heavily Hispanic areas.

Let me explain, since it seems a bit confusing at first. Under the old rules, there were six seats and some number of candidates, larger than six. Each voter could cast one vote for up to six different people, and the top six vote-getters were elected.

For sake of clarity, let's change the situation from one of race, which carries too much emotional baggage, to one of party affiliation. Let's assume a hypothetical in which the voting pool comprises 10,000 people, 5,500 of them Democrats and 4,500 Republicans. And let's further assume that for each of the six seats, one Democrat and one Republican runs. Finally, we assume that 90% of Democrats will vote for the Democrat in any contest, while 90% of the Republicans will vote for the Republican.

In each of the six races, the Democrat will get 5,400 votes, while the Republican gets 4,600. That is, despite a 55-45 split among voters -- which, if carried onto the Board of Trustees, would yield 4 Democrats and 2 Republicans -- the actual result is 6 Democrats and 0 Republicans; the Democrats overpower the Republicans on each and every seat.

But under a cumulative-voting system, each voter gets six votes, which he can cast any way he wants -- including all six for the same candidate. Note that every voter, without exception, gets six votes to cast any way he or she desires... not just the minority.

(Giving extra votes just to the minority is the sort of system championed by Lani Guinier, Bill Clinton's nominee to be Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division; which is why she was forced to withdraw a month after being nominated.)

Under the system Judge Robinson ordered, in our hypothetical example, the Republicans can focus like a laser beam on, say, only two of the six GOP candidates, Ron Nahasapeemapetilon and Nancy Ginsburg: Each Republican voter casts three votes to Nahasapeemapetilon and the other three to Ginsburg.

Assuming the Democrats don't try to vote defensively but instead vote as normal, then Nahasapeemapetilon and Ginsburg will each be elected with more than 12,000 votes; and the Board of Trustees will have four Democrats and two Republicans... which is certainly more representative than six and zip.

The scheme relies upon the strong probability that getting at least a couple minority candidates elected will be more important to minority voters than blocking them would be to the majority; minority voters are more likely to concentrate their votes than majority voters.

Thus even in the real world, where an election will always see both minority defections and some members who cannot bring themselves to throw four of their six candidates under the wolves, the odds are still pretty good that both Nahasapeemapetilon and Ginsburg will be elected.

Or in the case at hand, that a couple of Hispanics will, in fact, be elected to the BoT. Yet no racial or ideological group is being singled out for special preferences; in theory, the majority could focus their own votes to keep both of the two (or three) "focus" minorities off the board; it's just very unlikely to happen for the reason above.

I haven't studied this fully, and I'd like to see some real-world examples; but it is at the least an interesting example of sideways thinking, which I always admire even on those occasions where I oppose the sideways thought itself.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 15, 2010, at the time of 4:53 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 28, 2010

The Democrats' New Map

Elections , Health Insurance Insurrections , Liberal Lunacy
Hatched by Dafydd

Or, why I am not convinced that either Pelosi or Reid has the votes

The New York Times, of all venues, sculpts the slope the Democrats must scale to summit Mount Reconciliation:

Of the 219 Democrats who initially voted in favor of the House measure, roughly 40 did so in part because it contained the so-called Stupak amendment, intended to discourage insurers from covering abortion....

An additional 39, like Mr. Kratovil, are fiscal conservatives who voted no the first time around. Ms. Pelosi is hoping that she can get some to switch those no votes to yes in favor of Mr. Obama’s less expensive measure.

Let's run some numbers, shall we?

The House version of ObamaCare -- the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) -- passed on November 7th last year in a vote of 220-215. Ordinarily, 218 Yeas are required to pass a bill in the House; but since that vote, three representatives have left Congress, one of them horizontally. With only 432 current members, the magic number for a majority is 217 (216 is only 50%, which is not a majority).

The three who left are all Democrats who voted for the House version of ObamaCare the first time around: retirees Robert Wexler (FL) and Neil Abercrombie (HI), and John Murtha (PA), who left feet first this month. In addition, Rep. Ahn "Joseph" Cao (R-LA, not yet rated), the only Republican to vote for the bill, has since repudiated that vote and says he will certainly vote against the Senate/reconciliation version of ObamaCare when that comes up for a vote. So Pelosi starts with only 216 of the necessary 217 votes.

We know for certain that unless the Senate agrees in advance to the Stupak Amendment, which bans any and all federal funding of abortion (and even funding of insurance carriers who pay for abortions), Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI, 90%) will also vote against it; he has too much "face" bound up in that prohibition to overlook it. I consider it virtually impossible that the Senate would agree to a Stupak Amendment, so that drops the number of Yeas to 215.

Thus the real question is this: Can Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) bully enough Democratic former Nays to switch to Yeas so that the total will be two higher than the number of Yeas who switch to Nays? In other words, if 20 of the 40 Stupakers vote Nay on the Senate version, then Pelosi must scrounge up 22 representatives who voted Nay last time to vote Yea instead. Otherwise, she has less than the 217 needed.

Looking ahead, it's hard to see why any representative who voted against ObamaCare before will be persuaded to vote for it this time: The cost differential between the House and Senate plans is negligible; the Senate version doesn't include the "government option," which the House Democrats liked; and in the meantime, voters have made their disgust with the government takeover of health care clear and vivid.

Scott Brown's election to the Massachusetts Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy scared the bejesus out of many representatives, especially those who represent districts that went to John McCain in the 2008 presidential election; many will try to innoculate themselves from the consequences of the last vote by turning thumbs down on ObamaCare this time.

The only real hope Pelosi has is with those Democrats who voted against the bill last year, but who have decided not to run for reelection this year. However, at the moment, there are only three: Reps. John Tanner (D-TN, 89%), Bart Gordon (D-TN, 89%), and Brian Baird (D-WA, 80%). Even if all of them switch, that brings the total only to 218; if two or more representatives flip the other way, from Yea to Nay -- two out of the 40 who only voted for the bill because of the Stupak amendment, for example -- then Pelosi falls short.

My back of the thumbnail estimate is that at least 20 of the 40 Stupakers vote Nay, while only two of the lame-duck Democrats go the other way (Tanner has already said he will not switch to Yea); that would land the Squeaker into a 200-232 deficit. An AP article confirms this:

In fact, Democrats following the legislation say House Democratic support for the legislation has sunk to 200 votes or less in recent weeks, following the stunning GOP victory in last month's special Massachusetts Senate election and the bill's modest showing in polls.

Where "modest showing" has the tendentious redefinition of "catastrophic collapse." I would guess another five Democratic Yeas vote Nay when it becomes clear the votes aren't there anyway; why go down with a sinking ship?

It's hardly any better on the Senate side, where they must pass the "reconciliation" changes to the Senate bill that (they hope!) will keep some Democratic House members from desperately dog-paddling towards the shore. Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%) is not doing very well, despite only needing a simple majority to pass the package:

Under the Democrats’ tentative plans, the House would pass the health care bill approved in December by the Senate, and both chambers would approve a separate package of changes using a parliamentary device known as budget reconciliation.

The tactic is intended to avoid a Republican filibuster, but in the Senate, the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, faces challenges if he tries to use it. He is having trouble persuading a majority of his caucus to go along.

Despite their gigantic majorities in both chambers, despite a still-personally popular Democratic president who has made this his make-or-break issue, Pelosi, Reid, and the Democratic leadership still can't seem to round up enough Yeas to spit in the voters' faces. Funny, isn't it?

The calculus is fairly simple; AP quotes a couple of members of the House Democratic caucus explaining the problem:

"People who voted 'yes' would love a second bite at the apple to vote 'no' this time, because they went home and got an unpleasant experience" because of their votes, said Rep. Jason Altmire, a moderate Democrat from Pennsylvania. "On the other hand," he added, "I don't know anybody who voted 'no' who regrets it...."

Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., said he chatted at the House gym Friday morning with fellow conservative Democrats and found that Obama's session had produced no new momentum.

"I don't think it made a nickel's worth of difference," he said, adding, "It's fair to say the trend is going against the bill."

I don't believe that Scott Brown's victory alone redrew the Democrats' electoral map; but it definitely shone a spotlight upon it... and any Democrat who plans to run for reelection ignores it at his political peril.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 28, 2010, at the time of 3:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 15, 2010

And Another Dem Bites It. Like Flies, I Tells Ya! UPDATED

Dancing Democrats , Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Now it's Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN, 70%) announcing he won't run for reelection:

In his remarks, Mr. Bayh expressed frustration at what he described as an increasingly polarized atmosphere in Washington that made it impossible to get anything done.

“For some time, I have had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should,” he said. “There is much too much partisanship and not enough progress. Too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem solving.”

This was a Senate seat that the Democrats already marked down as a dead-cert hold; but now it's just one more open seat in a state that went for Barack H. Obama by the narrowest of margins (50-49) in the heavily Democratic year of 2008. But that was thirteen months and a thousand years ago; a poll of Obama's support in Indiana today would find probably find 35%-40% job approval, with even lower marks for Congress.

Conservative former Republican Sen. Dan Coats (Wolf Howling's best friend!) was already edging his way into the race against Bayh; with Bayh out, the edging will likely turn into a sprint, and then a stampede, as several other Republicans join the wild hunt. Indiana is now an excellent opportunity for another Republican pickup.

Reading between the lines, I don't believe Bayh is leaving because he thinks he can't win; rather, he's leaving because he's disenchanted by today's Democratic Party:

He cited two recent examples of the Senate not stepping up – the voting down of a bipartisan commission to deal with the federal deficit and the stymied attempt to craft a jobs bill....

Mr. Bayh had been growing increasingly discontent with the Senate, an associate said, and told some advisers in 2006, when he briefly explored a presidential bid, that he did not know whether he would seek re-election to the Senate. He was seen by some fellow Democrats as someone who was not very active in the chamber on a daily basis. He often popped in for votes and was quickly gone, only occasionally giving floor speeches. He was also known to make time for the school and sports events of his children. [Great Scott, sounds like a conservative! -- DaH]

In the past two years, Mr. Bayh has been focused on budget and fiscal issues and frustrated some of his colleagues by balking at the Democratic budget proposals. According to analysis by The Times of Mr. Bayh’s voting history, he has voted with a majority of the Democratic caucus roughly 71 percent of the time during the 111th Congress — the lowest percentage of his career. (He has also been the Senate Democrat least likely to vote with the party this Congress.)

We may be seeing the beginning of a flood of disenchanted Democrats, the radioactive fallout of the Obamacle's scorched-earth radicalism: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 85% Dem) was driven out of the party for being insufficiently belligerent and bellicose; Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%) has moved sharply to the left since the inauguration; Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) is practically running the Senate. Many Democrats who are not in Ted Kennedy-land must be finding the environment much like Yellowstone National Park: scalding hot and stinking like rotten eggs.

They've seen Republicans retake seats that switched to the Democrats in 2008; and in some cases, like Scott Brown grabbing Kennedy's seat, winning seats that have been Democratic since the Cretaceous Period. Like the dinosaurs of that time, Democrats are starting to go politically extinct.

Keep watching the skies, and expect more and more defections, rejections, and insurrections over the next couple of months; 2010 could turn out to be a bigger year for the GOP than 1994.

UPDATE: John Hinderaker at Power Line passes along a rumor that the next Democratic senator out the door will be Barbara Mikulski (D-MD, 95%). The skies, I tells ya; keep watching the skies!

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 15, 2010, at the time of 6:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 19, 2010

As of 6:24 PM PST...

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley just conceded. State Sen. Scott Brown will be the new U.S. senator from Massachusetts.

 

 

 

Hip hip, chin chin, the rhythm section.

 

 

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 19, 2010, at the time of 6:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is High Turnout in "Massachusettes" Bad? Not Necessarily!

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Dennis Prager said the turnout in the Massachusetts special Senate election was high. I don't know whether he is correct, whether he misheard -- or even whether some left-leaning reporter tendentiously reported such when it wasn't true; but certainly the Conventional Wisdom ™ is that a low turnout helps the Republican, while a high turnout means the Democrats have gotten their base excited.

I still have no idea about today's turnout in the Bay State -- but I utterly reject the Conventional Wisdom ™ regardless.

If all the polls are accurate, then the enthusiasm is all on Scott Brown's side, not "Marcia" Coakley's. Thus, a big turnout would seem more likely to be due to those who are already enthusiastic... turning out enthusiastically.

A big turnout in Massachusetts would make me think that a whole bunch of Independents, who ordinarily don't vote in special elections, had motivated themselves to the polls to vote for Scott Brown -- and against Martha "Chokely" Coakley, Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%), and Barack H. "Lucky Lefty" Obama. And as Glenn Thrush at Politico suggests (hat tip to Paul at Power Line), even if part of the increased turnout comprises Democrats, they may very well be Democrats rushing out to vote for Scott Brown:

A Democratic operative familiar with the get-out-the-vote push by Martha Coakley's team and boosted late in the game by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, says that outreach workers in and around Boston have been stunned by the number of Democrats and Obama supporters who are waving them off, saying they'll vote for Scott Brown.

So even assuming the turnout in Massachusetts is high, that's no reason to despair: It could just be the next pre-wave to the tsunami washing towards the Democrats in November.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 19, 2010, at the time of 12:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 17, 2010

B.O. in Boston - a Very Impotent Person

Elections , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

I see that Barack H. "Lucky Lefty" Obama is personally headed to "Massachusettes". Does anybody in either hemisphere fail to understand what an admission of looming failure that is?

POTUS and TOTUS are rushing into the Bay State in a desperate, last-ditch effort to stave off electoral disaster. The congressional Democrats may see the election of Republican Scott Brown as God's gift of an exit strategy from ObamaCare, but the president himself has no plausible denial for his campaign frenzy: It's obvious that MA Attorney General Martha "Chokely" Coakley is about to be shellacked like a '73 Ford Pinto at Earl Scheib ("I'll paint any car for ninety-nine ninety five!").

And I say -- good on yer, B.O.! Rush off to Boston to appear at another closed-door fundraiser for Chokely. Make yourself as visible as possible...

Because when Scott Brown wins anyway, you will look like the most impotent tool in America: the Democratic president who couldn't even keep a firm grip on Ted Kennedy's seat (well... you know what I mean).

Have you thought this one through, Mr. O.? Too late to back out now; you'd lose even more face than you're already set to lose on Tuesday.

Am I gloating? Yep. Prematurely? Of course: the vaunted Democratic vote machine might still turn out more committed voters (or voters who should be committed, once you exhume and resurrect them) to squeak out a razor-thin victory for the Choke.

But I have a feeling about this race... and it's a wonderful feeling. Keep watching the skies, jackaroos and jillaroos.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 17, 2010, at the time of 1:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 22, 2009

Pinky's Puppies

Congressional Calamities , Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

I take as my thesis that the Senate Democrats, by voting unanimously for cloture on the ObamaCare bill (or PinkyCare, after Sen. Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid, D-Caesar's Palace, 70%), have made themselves very vulnerable in 2010 and 2012. I also take it that the more Republican the state, the more trouble that state's incumbent Democratic senator is.

But how to quantify that vulnerability? Here is a first stab.

In the first table, I rank the Democratic Senate seats up for grabs in November 2010 and November 2012 in order of how Republican or Democratic the state is -- based upon its vote in the presidential elections last year; a state that voted for John S. McCain makes a Democratic incumbent more vulnerable than a state that voted for Barack H. Obama; and a state that strongly voted for McCain makes the Democrat more vulnerable than a state that narrowly voted for the Arizonan.

(Note however that these are paper vulnerabilities that do not take into account the candidates' skills at campaigning, debating, or the money he can raise for his run.)

In this first table:

  1. The first column is the state;
  2. The second is which presidential candidate got that state's electoral votes (M for McCain or O for Obama);
  3. The third is the margin of victory of the candidate in the second column;
  4. The third is the name of the incumbent Democratic senator, if any;
  5. The fourth is the Democratic voting percentage, as calculated by the Americans for Democratic Action... a higher number means a more partisan Democrat;
  6. And the sixth column is the class of the senator, whether he is up for reelection in 2010 or in 2012.

The Democratic senators (and those running for an open Democratic seat) are listed from most vulnerable (Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas running next year) to least (Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, not running until 2012):

2010, 2012 Democrat Senate targets by vulnerability
ST Pres Marg Senator's name Dem % Class
AR M 20 Blanche Lincoln 80% 10
NE M 15 Ben Nelson 75% 12
WV M 13 Robert Byrd 79% 12
ND M 9 Byron Dorgan 95% 10
ND M 9 Kent Conrad 90% 12
MT M 2 Jon Tester 85% 12
MO M 0 Claire McCaskill 84% 12
IN O 1 Evan Bayh 70% 10
FL O 3 Bill Nelson 95% 12
NM O 4 Jeff Bingaman 100% 12
VA O 6 Jim Webb 95% 12
CO O 9 Michael Bennet N/A 10
PA O 10 Arlen Specter (as Dem) N/A 10
PA O 10 Bob Casey Jr. 90% 12
MN O 10 Amy Klobuchar 100% 12
NV O 13 Harry Reid 70% 10
WI O 14 Herb Kohl 95% 12
WI O 14 Russ Feingold 100% 10
NJ O 15 Bob Menendez 100% 12
OH O 15 Sherrod Brown 95% 12
OR O 16 Ron Wyden 100% 10
MI O 16 Debbie Stabenow 100% 12
WA O 17 Patty Murray 100% 10
WA O 17 Maria Cantwell 100% 12
CT O 22 Chris Dodd 100% 10
CT O 22 Joe Lieberman (Dem caucus) 85% 12
CA O 24 Barbara Boxer 100% 10
CA O 24 Dianne Feinstein 100% 12
DE O 25 Ted Kaufman (open) N/A 10
DE O 25 Tom Carper 85% 12
MD O 25 Barbara Mikulski 95% 10
MD O 25 Ben Cardin 100% 12
IL O 25 Roland Burris (open) N/A 10
NY O 27 Kirsten Gillibrand N/A 10
NY O 27 Chuck Schumer 100% 10
RI O 28 Sheldon Whitehouse 90% 12
VT O 37 Patrick Leahy 100% 10
VT O 37 Bernie Sanders 100% 12
HI O 45 Daniel Inouye 94% 10
HI O 45 Daniel Akaka 100% 12

2012 is a long way off, but 2010 is just around the bend; correspondingly, this table is restricted to those Democratic seats up for reelection next November.

I added the current Rasmussen polling in the last column in place of the class (which is fixed at 2010 in this table). The polling number shown is the spread of Democrat over Republican; a -7 would mean the Democrat trails by 7%, while +2 would mean the Democrat leads by 2%.

When there are multiple GOP candidates, I picked the one who does best in the polling against the incumbent Democrat; that is the real vulnerability factor in the incumbent's reelection. When there are multiple Democratic candidates, I report the polling of the incumbent. If there is no incumbent and multiple Democrats, I won't post a number at all, because the dynamics are too complex:

2010 Democrat Senate targets by vulnerability
(with Rasmussen polling)
ST Pres Marg Senator's name Vote % Polling
AR M 20 Blanche Lincoln 80% - 7
ND M 9 Byron Dorgan 95% - 4
IN O 1 Evan Bayh 70% - 12
CO O 9 Michael Bennet N/A - 9
PA O 10 Arlen Specter (as Dem) N/A - 4
NV O 13 Harry Reid 70% - 6
WI O 14 Russ Feingold 100% N/A
OR O 16 Ron Wyden 100% N/A
WA O 17 Patty Murray 100% N/A
CT O 22 Chris Dodd 100% - 13
CA O 24 Barbara Boxer 100% + 11
DE O 25 Ted Kaufman (open) N/A N/A
MD O 25 Barbara Mikulski 95% N/A
IL O 25 Roland Burris (open) N/A N/A
NY O 27 Kirsten Gillibrand N/A N/A
NY O 27 Chuck Schumer 100% N/A
VT O 37 Patrick Leahy 100% N/A
HI O 45 Daniel Inouye 94% N/A

Note that only one race, California, shows the Democrat ahead; in all others, he or she trails the GOP.

The final table shows the 2012 Democrats up for reelection; this time, polling was not included because it's meaningless this far out:

2012 Democrat Senate targets by vulnerability
ST Pres Marg Senator's name Vote %
NE M 15 Ben Nelson 75%
WV M 13 Robert Byrd 79%
ND M 9 Kent Conrad 90%
MT M 2 Jon Tester 85%
MO M 0 Claire McCaskill 84%
FL O 3 Bill Nelson 95%
NM O 4 Jeff Bingaman 100%
VA O 6 Jim Webb 95%
PA O 10 Bob Casey Jr. 90%
MN O 10 Amy Klobuchar 100%
WI O 14 Herb Kohl 95%
NJ O 15 Bob Menendez 100%
OH O 15 Sherrod Brown 95%
MI O 16 Debbie Stabenow 100%
WA O 17 Maria Cantwell 100%
CT O 22 Joe Lieberman (Dem caucus) 85%
CA O 24 Dianne Feinstein 100%
DE O 25 Tom Carper 85%
MD O 25 Ben Cardin 100%
RI O 28 Sheldon Whitehouse 90%
VT O 37 Bernie Sanders 100%
HI O 45 Daniel Akaka 100%

I'll be happy if this series of three tables allows readers to follow the vicissitudes of the political contests to come. If it allows the National Republican Senatorial Committee to focus its efforts on those Democratic "moderate" senators most vulnerable within their own states, I will be ecstatic.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 22, 2009, at the time of 9:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 19, 2009

If Joe Lieberman Is the Democrats' "Lindsey Graham"...

Elections , Opinions: Nasty, Brutish, and Shortsighted
Hatched by Dafydd

...Are we required to despise him too?

Politico notes that when Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 85% Dem) announced he would not merely vote against ObamaCare but would filibuster it -- at least the final motion to call the question -- he burnt many bridges back to the Democratic Party:

“My sense is that when he announced he would filibuster the public option, he was saying goodbye to the Democratic Party,” said Doug Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac University poll in Hamden, Conn. “My sense is, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

In a new Quinnipiac poll, Connecticut voters said by a 2-to-1 margin that Lieberman’s views on the issues put him closer to Republicans than to Democrats....

In an interview, Richard Blumenthal, the state attorney general, said he’s getting more encouragement from Democrats in Connecticut to consider a challenge to Lieberman in 2012. A February Quinnipiac poll found that Blumenthal would beat Lieberman by a 28-point margin.

Sounds grim, until one reads the next paragraph:

A September Research 2000 poll found that Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell would defeat both Blumenthal and Lieberman in a potential three-way 2012 matchup; the same poll found that 68 percent of the state’s voters support the public option.

Lieberman has turned into quite a Republican ally in this medicine-war for the soul of America:

Lieberman said it’s the “wrong time” to create a government insurance program, claiming it would increase the national debt, probably raise taxes and increase premiums for insurance holders.

But Democrats said that Lieberman is employing GOP talking points in distorting the virtues of a public option, noting it’s the one entity that could control costs -- by adding a major new provider to the marketplace that would force private insurers to reduce their costs.

Yes, "control costs" by using the same tactics as Great Britain's National Health Service (NHS): rationing or denying medical care; encouraging the old and feeble to die quickly to spare their children; and jacking up both taxes and federal debt simultaneously, thus making it nearly impossible even to pay for the programs already in place, let alone all the new or expanded programs Barack H. Obama hopes to institute.

I would find it sad but amusing if Lieberman were to lose his bid for reelection -- only to be replaced by a popular Republican former governor. But the important question remains begged: If we "Ned Lamont" Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC, 82%), will we retain that seat? Or would it turn out the same as when Ned Lamont "Ned Lamonted" Lieberman in 2006?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 19, 2009, at the time of 5:28 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 4, 2009

Batting .750 Ain't Bad

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

I must admit, I developed an emotional attachment to the NY-23 congressional race; so it got me right in the kischkes when Democrat Bill Owens topped Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman. If it's any consolation, Hoffman is much better known now than he was just a month ago; which means he may be a formidable candidate in the Republican primary in 2010 -- just a few months away -- and in the November 2nd general against Owens as well.

That was the one prediction we lost; but we successfully predicted not only that Republican Robert McDonnell would power over Democrat Creigh Deeds in Virginia -- everyone got that one right, though the margin, 18%, shocked the nation -- but also that Chris Christie (R) would prevail over the most corrupt sitting governor in the United States, Jon Corzine of New Jersey.

Hugh Hewitt is fond of writing books with the title "If it's not close, they can't cheat;" pundits (I no longer must write "pundants," now that GWB has retired) mulled that Christie would have to get at least 3% over Corzine to make up for the "fraud factor." Since CC won by a resounding 5% (or as near as makes no difference), I think the victory is safe from the Halloween undead rising from their graves to force Corzine back into the governor's mansion.

While I'm wistful that Hoffman couldn't quite overcome the anti-GOP bitterness stirred up by DIABLO Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava, realistically speaking, it's much more important that we won two governorships. Recall that New Jersey hasn't elected a Republican since Christie Todd Whitman (is the name similarity just a coincidence?) won reelection a dozen years and five governors ago.

But wait; that only adds up to a batting average of .667. Where does the other .083 come from?

Well, I'm also counting as a signal victory what happened in Maine: Voters rejected a legislatively enacted same-sex marriage (SSM) law in by about 53 to 47. Thus in every election where the people themselves have had the chance to vote on SSM, they have voted it down. And that's not just once or twice but 31 times out of 31 elections.

Maine is not exactly a conservative state; in fact, the last time Maine voted for a Republican in the presidential race was George H.W. Bush in 1988. And Maine's two senators, while both technically Republicans, are about as liberal as can be: Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME, 12%) and Susan Collins (R-ME, 20%). (Their ADA ratings are 80% and 75% respectively, as liberal as many Democrats.)

Thus, SSM has now lost among voters in every region of the country and in conservative, moderate, and very liberal states. While we made no prediction in this race, we'll happily take the results!

All in all, some very, very good news indeed for Republicans and conservatives... and likely a harbinger of what is to come in 2010, despite Paul "Sourpuss" Mirengoff's best efforts to harsh our mellow...

Not an especially good day to be Barack H. "Oogo" Obama, though. I feel his disdain.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 4, 2009, at the time of 5:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 2, 2009

NY-23: New York Race - Chicago Rules, and What Dede Learned From David

Elections , Politics 101 , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

As the Permanent Presidential Campaign rolls along, the most recent victims are the Republicans of New York's 23rd district... who awoke today to discover something truly remarkable about erstwhile congressional candidate Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava -- that "lifelong Republican" who swore she would never leave the GOP -- and her seemingly inexplicable endorsement of the Democrat remaining in the race, Bill Owens, rather than the conservative Republican, Doug Hoffman.

They learned (if they read the news ) that -- drum roll, please: The betraying endorsement was engineered by the Barack H. Obama White House.

Politico reports that the administration and Friends of Barack lured Scozzafava to the dark side by playing on her senses of grievance and entitlement:

The story of how it went down began in Washington, where the White House and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee quarterbacked the effort to secure Scozzafava’s endorsement.

According to several senior Democratic officials, Rep. Steve Israel, a Long Island Democrat and DCCC official, was dispatched to meet face to face with Scozzafava in her upstate New York district, within hours of her departure from the race, to make the case on behalf of the national party. He carried the proxy of the White House and congressional Democrats.

Scozzafava, according to one account, was receptive to the entreaties after becoming a target of intense conservative opposition over the past month. The nomination of the moderate to liberal assemblywoman who was backed by the national GOP establishment had become a rallying point for conservative grass-roots activists, who argued that she was far too liberal for them to support.

“She’s devastated that these outside interests are trying to hijack her moderate wing of the party," said one New York Democrat who had spoken to Scozzafava.

Hijack? Those forces (outside or in) were trying to push the moderates aside and support the conservative wing... just as the moderates did the exact opposite when eleven GOP party bosses anointed DIABLO Scozzafava to succeed RINO John McHugh, who jumped at the chance to join the Obama administration. (For those of you who have lived in Plato's cave for some months now, RINO is of course "Republican in name only," while DIABLO, coined by Mark Steyn, stands for "Democrat in all but label only.")

Of course, by "outside interests," the unnamed "New York Democrat" meant only conservatives across the country who rallied to Hoffman's cause, and possibly Hoffman himself, who resides in a nearby district. For some reason, the specter of a far-left president and his top aides, most from Chicago, don't count as "outsiders;" and neither do other New York Democrats who reside all over the state.

What they're really saying seems clear to me: Dede Scozzafava thought the fix was in, and she was gobsmacked by the speed of the unraveling.

She was selected by the Republican nomenklatura to succeed John McHugh; sure, she was trailing Bill Owens in the polls, but that was all just for show. When election time rolled around, Scozzafava was sure the conservatives, having made their displeasure known, would hold their noses and vote for her. After all, they had nowhere else to go.

(The same dynamic had already happened with the national GOP and several big names in the party; having nowhere else to light, they smiled and nodded and gave Scozzafava their blessings.)

She would be elected, and her life would be set: She would serve several terms then be appointed a federal judge; or perhaps she would receive a succession of appointments at la Casa Blanca, culminating in a minor cabinet position... perhaps Secretary of Health and Human Services or Director of the EPA under President Biden.

Sure, this is rank speculation on my part; but her reaction to conservatives in her own district rallying to Doug Hoffman, the collapse of her own support, her whiny departure, and her immediate embrace of the Democrat tells me that she herself feels "betrayed" by her own party... and she's lashing out in angry revenge. Hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned.

In fact, Dede Scozzafava reminds me a lot of David Brock. Brock is a former Republican investigative writer who flipped to the Democratic side, reportedly because he was furious over being snubbed by a few conservatives at cocktail parties. (He could only name one such snubbery, by R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. of the American Spectator, Brock's former employer.)

Short detour: Brock was the toast of Washington after his first and still best book, the Real Anita Hill. In that book, he took apart the self-serving portrait of Clarence Thomas' wannabe political character assassin, Nina Totenberg of NPR, exposing her as an ultra liberal, Democratic Party hatchet-girl. Brock argued (with good evidence) that Totenberg and her fellows in the anti-Thomas brigade of the "shadow government" suborned perjury by Anita Hill.

They worked hand in sock puppet with top Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to attempt to destroy Thomas -- for the crime of being a conservative black man. Or as Emerge, a black magazine, so graciously put it -- "Uncle Thomas, Lawn Jockey for the Far Right."

Brock did yeoman work exposing this dark undercurrent of Democratic racism and dirty tricks. He rightly noted that if Republicans had tried the same vile tactic to defeat a black liberal Democratic Supreme-Court nominee -- accusing him of uncontrollable sexuality, a traditional racist attack on black men -- the screams of rage from Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the usual ranks fo the perpetually aggrieved would have rolled three times 'round the world. David Brock was feted and petted, courted and bedded.

But after his second book, the Seduction of Hillary Rodham -- in which he was perceived as having cuddled a bit too close to his subject -- he drifted off everybody's A-list.

Gone were the invites to cocktail parties starring top congressional Republicans, the talk-show circuits, the frequent appearances as guest commentator on TV ("the Republican," given twenty seconds to counter the six Democrats who had yammered on for twenty minutes about whatever issue burned that day).

Brock reportedly flew into a Rumplestiltskin-like rage at his maltreatment, especially at parties; he flipped completely, turning not only Democrat but attack-dog Democrat. He published Blinded by the Right, an unreadable screed against everyone he had formerly worked with; and he accused Republicans of rejecting him because he was openly gay.

Of course, he was openly gay when he published the Real Anita Hill, and that didn't seem to bother Republicans. Logic is not the long suit of avatars of self pity.

I have no idea whether Scozzafava ever met David Brock; the latter quickly dropped off the radar, after the sensation of his complete betrayal and subsequent toadying up to the far left lost its novelty. But she is following the same pattern as he, and I strongly suspect for the same reason: Thwarted entitlement.

Just as Brock believed his future was set (he was going to be the next conservative icon, a literary Rush Limbaugh, and incidentally a multimillionaire best seller), so Scozzafava -- judging by her campaign, her collapse, and her subsequent openness to complete betrayal of her former party -- saw the actual vote as mere formal flummery. She had already won the seat when the boys in the back room anointed her. They promised!

It turns out, Politico notes, that Scozzafava was promised power, prestige, and support if she flipped -- especially if she formally turned her coat. Such promises are invariably part of the wooing process... and almost always disingenuously so:

Also critical was [New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon] Silver’s assurance, in a phone conversation with Scozzafava, that the state Assembly Democratic caucus would embrace her if she chose to switch parties, now viewed as a real possibility after her endorsement Sunday of Owens.

Yep. I'm sure that next year, New York state Democrats will be eager to shove aside some life-long Democrat in favor of a humiliated and crushed erstwhile Republican, hated by a huge number of voters in the district, who just lost an election that was expected to be a shoe-in. Lots of luck, Dede.

I make a further prediction: After tomorrow, when Hoffman wins the race -- or even if Democrat Bill Owens squeaks out a narrow victory -- the Chicago Left will toss Scozzafava aside like a used Kleenex.

She may think she will be showered with gratitude from the president; she may fantasize that she'll have an honored place in the pantheon of New York liberals; but the reality is that nobody ever trusts a traitor again, especially not the beneficiaries of her partisan treason. Instead, Scozzafava will be utterly marginalized and shunted aside, abandoned, and embittered... just as was David Brock. (Anybody hear from him recently? Perhaps, continuing our Rumplestiltskin comparison, Brock stamped his foot so hard, he opened a crack and fell through the Earth.)

Such is the fruit of betrayal. I can't work up much sympathy, either for the party bosses who called themselves "the moderate wing" of the Republican Party or for Dede Scozzafava herself; I'm repelled by those who see the democratic process as nothing but a necessary and annoying evil, the klunky mechanism for their own career ambitions -- and to hell with what their constituents want.

But I do feel some pity for those honest moderate GOP voters: It's bad enough to lose what amounts to a post-hoc primary against the conservatives, without having to be humiliated by the thoughtless and insulting antics of their erstwhile standard bearer. Gracious and fairminded Democrats must have felt the same sinking horror in 2000, as they watched Al Gore try to sue his way into the White House.

Perhaps moderate New York Republicans should likewise think a second time before picking the next champion of their cause.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 2, 2009, at the time of 4:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Scozzafava Scandals

Confusticated Conservatives , Elections , Liberal Lunacy
Hatched by Dafydd

Ordinarily, I dote on every word writ by Rich Galen, cybercolumnist extraordinaire, proprietor of Mullings, my favorite non-blog blog (neg-blog?) Alas, I think he has really gone off the Newtonian end on the NY-23 race.

In today's Mullings, Rich writes the following:

The Conservatives nominated a guy named Doug Hoffman who does not live in the District, but is true to Conservative principals. [Er... sic, I think! Unless he means Ben Stein: "Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?"]

Nevertheless, the National Republican Congressional Committee and other big-time Republicans supported her on the grounds that the locals know their District and having someone like Howard [sic] in the race splitting the GOP vote might well give the seat to the Democrat Owens.

I agreed. Someone e-mailed me the other day saying that people like me who live in Washington don't understand what is going on out in the "hustings." I responded that upstate New York is as "hustings" as it gets and they picked Scozzafava.

Well, no, Rich. "They" didn't pick Scozzafava. As I documented in a previous post here, she was selected in a back-room deal by eleven county GOP committee apparatchiks. The very fact that she recently plummeted in the polls, to the point where she fell off the radar in this race -- which is the only reason she dropped out, she was afraid of making an utter fool of herself if she stuck around -- proves that "they," the actual residents of that district, did not pick Scozzafava. Her support was probably below that of "don't know/no opinion" when she stalked off in a huff.

But here is the kicker to Galen's piece:

I have spent my adult life helping to elect Republicans all across the GOP spectrum. The only vote I care about is the first one: will it be for the Republican candidate for Speaker (in the House) or Majority Leader (in the Senate)? After that first vote they're someone else's problem.

If that's Galen's lone criterion, he made a very bad decision to endorse Scozzafava. Given her subsequent betrayal of the very GOP that "nominated" (selected) her, endorsing the Democrat in the race and urging all of her supporters (both of them) to vote for Democrat Bill Owens instead of Conservative Republican Doug Hoffman, what makes Galen so sure Scozzafava would have voted for John Boehner (R-OH, 92%) -- rather than Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) -- in that all-important first vote?

I think it would have been a 50-50 bet at best. Clearly, Scozzafava's liberalism trumped her party affiliation by so much that she couldn't even stand neutral; she practically fell over her own feet rushing to endorse the liberal Democrat, Bill Owens.

Given that Hoffman is no more conservative than Boehner; given that Scozzafava's liberalism is as near as makes no difference to Pelosi's; and given the former's eagerness to stab her own party in the back -- I think Galen went all-in on a three-card inside straight when he endorsed Scozzafava.

Alas, he is so off on this call, I just can't keep my lip zipped: A political party must stand for something, or it's nothing but a Alinskyite power grab. What principle (or principal) of the Republican Party does Scozzafava embody?

She's a social liberal and a fiscal train wreck. She evidently hates conservatives, one of the core groups of the GOP, with such passion that she would rather see a liberal Democrat win than a Republican who calls himself conservative, no matter how reasonable. Either that, or she was so enraged at the very idea that some peon dared interfere with her free ride to the Capitol dome, that she decided if she couldn't win, she would make damn sure no Republican would win.

That's a pretty despicable instance of playing dog in the china shop.

I don't believe for one second Galen's claim that "the only vote [he] cares about is the first one," the organizing vote. When he wrote that, he included a huge bunch of implied but unstated caveats:

  • He certainly would not support a Republican who was also a Ku Klux Klansman, such as David Duke.
  • Nor would Galen support a corrupt politician just because he was the Republican.
  • And I suspect there are policy positions that are so outrageous, Galen would hold his nose and vote for the Democrat rather than a Republican who espoused them; for an obvious example, suppose a "Republican" ran on a platform of ObamaCare, the energy cripple and tax bill, declaring defeat and withdrawing from Afghanistan and Iraq, doubling all federal taxes, and enacting a federal law reimposing racial preferences on all those states that have repudiated them. I would be shocked if Galen could possibly imagine supporting such a nominee... even if he promised faithfully to vote for Boehner in the organizing bill. Oh, wait...

A political party must stand for something; and when the "nominee" (selectee) is as far outside the foundational principles of the Republican Party as Scozzafava appears to be, then even if it throws the election to the Democrat, one cannot in good conscience vote for her. Galen made the same sad error that Newt Gingrich made. Each fell into the sin of thinking of this election as nothing more than a political game and point tally, rather than what it is: a decision that could turn out to be life or death (for our military personnel, for example) and could turn out to be existential for the GOP.

There is a fine line here: We don't want to throw over reasonably good incumbents and establishment candidates running in purple districts; we don't want a policy of always supporting the hardest-right candidate in the GOP, because that could easily end up electing the Democrat, if the district as a whole is not as conservative as the candidate picked by the local GOP. More often than not in politics, the best is enemy of good enough.

But on the other hand, there are some principles that a candidate simply may not violate if he wants Republican support. While Dierdre Scozzafava is nowhere near the sludgey bottom of people who call themselves Republicans (David Duke springs to mind), she is certainly far enough down the pickle barrel -- and Hoffman is a good enough gamble -- that we should leave the DIABLO to ferment all on her own, rather than run the risk of letting her drag the party down to the depths along with her.

Galen and Gingrich should have thought a second time before leaping aboard the Establishment Express.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 2, 2009, at the time of 5:49 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 31, 2009

Wow, That Was Quick: Scozzafava Drops Out of NY-23 Race

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

I think my predictions for the special election in New York's 23rd district are pretty safe now:

Republican Dede Scozzafava has suspended her bid in next Tuesday’s NY 23 special election, a huge development that dramatically shakes up the race. She did not endorse either of her two opponents -- Conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman or Democrat Bill Owens.

The decision to suspend her campaign is a boost for Hoffman, who already had the support of 50 percent of GOP voters, according to a newly-released Siena poll, and is now well-positioned to win over the 25 percent of Republicans who had been sticking with Scozzafava.

Heh. Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava must have been reading Big Lizards. In our previous post, I made my predictions quite explicit:

You may or may not have read it here first, but I think I might have been the first among all those blogs I personally follow -- that would be three, counting Big Lizards -- to flatly predict that:

  • The race will, in the next couple of days, come down to a two-way between Doug Hoffman and Bill Owens;
  • And that Hoffman will win -- and win convincingly. Perhaps not with an outright majority, unless Scozzafava sees the "mene mene" on the wall and drops out; but a solid victory of 5-8 points over Owens, with Scozzafava in third by double-digits.

As usual, when Big Lizards predicts, we invite everyone to track our predictions and see if we know what we're talking about... or whether we fall flat on our egg.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 31, 2009, at the time of 1:31 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 29, 2009

NY-23: Hoffman Leads - and Now It Looks Like He Really Does!

Confusticated Conservatives , Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Politico now reports new polling in the NY-23 special election that shows that the previous poll by the Club for Growth, which we talked about in an earlier post, was no fluke: Even the Daily Kos's polling now sees a huge surge towards conservative candidate Doug Hoffman in the last week before Tuesday's vote.

And just as we predicted, DIABLO* (Democrat in all but label only) Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava, the liberal Republican hand-picked by eleven GOP committee apparatchiks, as we reported in More On Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava, has all but fallen off the radar. The race has come down to a face-off between Hoffman and Democratic candidate Bill Owens:

The latest round of polling gave evidence that Hoffman is on the rise and has pulled even with, or ahead of, Owens as Scozzafava has fallen into third place. In a newly-released poll commissioned by the liberal blog Daily Kos, Hoffman is within one point of Owens, 33 percent to 32 percent, with Scozzafava lagging well behind in third place with 21 percent....

Even more encouraging to Hoffman’s backers, the Daily Kos poll shows Hoffman is winning over more Republican voters than the GOP’s own nominee. He leads Scozzafava 41 to 34 percent among Republicans -- a sign that GOP voters are increasingly identifying with Hoffman as the true Republican candidate.

And he holds a 19-point lead among independents over Owens, 47 percent to 28 percent, suggesting that his outsider message is resonating, and that his support isn’t confined to the conservative base.

Evidence is mounting (a favorite liberal-stream media word) that far from making a "blunder," Sarah Palin had her finger on the crystal ball: Hoffman looks like a winner now, and Palin was the first Republican heavy-hitter to come out for him. (Fred Thompson was an earlier endorser; but Thompson is a spent force. As great a guy as he usually was, he is the GOP's past, not its future.)

And at last, Hoffman is getting some lovin' from "mainstream" (that is, more conservative) Republicans: Politico reports that National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX, 92%) is making it clear that the Republican conference would be very pleased if Hoffman is elected:

“He would be very welcome, with open arms,” Sessions told POLITICO in an interview off the House floor.

And former NRCC Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK, 88%) now supports Hoffman's insolent campaign against Democrat Owens and formal Republican candidate Scozzafava. Meanwhile, Hoffman's popularity is still growing among the rank and file:

Hoffman, whose campaign barely had a presence in the district as recently as two weeks ago, is getting help from a well-oiled conservative ground game, with hundreds of volunteers from tea party groups and leading conservative organizations working in upstate New York to help him get out the vote next Tuesday.

Hoffman’s campaign now has five campaign offices teeming with volunteers across the sprawling district. By contrast, Scozzafava’s campaign has just one office in her home base.

The anti-tax Club for Growth, pro-life Susan B. Anthony’s List, Eagle Forum and anti-illegal immigration Minuteman PAC all have staffers on the ground knocking on doors, making calls to Republican voters and delivering pro-Hoffman literature to churches.

You may or may not have read it here first, but I think I might have been the first among all those blogs I personally follow -- that would be three, counting Big Lizards -- to flatly predict that:

  • The race will, in the next couple of days, come down to a two-way between Doug Hoffman and Bill Owens;
  • And that Hoffman will win -- and win convincingly. Perhaps not with an outright majority, unless Scozzafava sees the "mene mene" on the wall and drops out; but a solid victory of 5-8 points over Owens, with Scozzafava in third by double-digits.

As usual, when Big Lizards predicts, we invite everyone to track our predictions and see if we know what we're talking about... or whether we fall flat on our egg.

 

* The term DIABLO does indeed appear to have been minted by Mark Steyn; Charles "the Sauerkraut" Krauthammer was merely the fence.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 29, 2009, at the time of 5:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 26, 2009

NY-23: Hoffman Leads - Unless He Doesn't

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

In the special election in New York's 23rd district to replace Rep. John McHugh (RINO-NY, 40%), who just accepted Barack H. Obama's appointment to be Secretary of the Army, a new poll for the first time finds Conservative Doug Hoffman winning with 31%; Democrat Bill Owens comes in second with 27%, while DIABLO (Democrat in all but label only) Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava trails badly with a scant 20% -- even less than the undecided response of 22%. (Sarah Palin endorsed Hoffman last week, leading to an additional $116,000+ in fundraising.)

All right, that's the good news; the skepticism-inducing news is that the poll was conducted by the Club for Growth, the pro-Capitalism group that has backed Hoffman to the tune of $600,000; thus the poll was conducted by the very people who recruited Hoffman and desperately want to see him doing better than Dede Scozzafava, which would bolster their argument that Republicans should coalesce around him, not her. (It's like the poll commissioned by Daily Kos that showed Bill Owens winning and Hoffman in third place.)

Too, the poll of 300 likely voters has a margin of error of 5.66%... which means that Owens is as likely to be ahead of Hoffman as the reverse (though that would still leave Dede -- does "DD" stand for Democratic Decoy? -- out of the running).

Take it for what you will; I think the poll is probably accurate, and I believe the race, in the end, will come down to Hoffman versus Owens. Scozzafava will fade as she comes to be seen, over the next eight days, as nothing but a stalking-horse for the Democrats: Her only function is to split the Republican vote.

I believe that on November 3rd, in a head to head race, Hoffman will overwhelm Owens, and the seat will go to the conservative -- for a year. What happens in 2010, however, will depend entirely on how well Hoffman serves. So it's a good shot for another fiscally conservative representative in Congress, but it's not part of a permanent "revolution" unless we can sustain the gain next year.

Oh, one other unintended consequence: I see this election as completing the marginalization of the famous endorser... but I don't mean Sarah Palin. At the eleventh hour, former Speaker, guru, revolutionary, conservative, whatever Newt Gingrich announced his endorsement -- of the stalking-horse!

Newt used to represent the cutting edge of a conservative revolution; today, he represents the failed policies of the GOP congressional establishment prior to 2006 -- the same folks who cynically picked (in a back-room deal) a out and out liberal, who agrees with Democrat Owens right down the ideological line, to replace the previous RINO McHugh.

The Gingrich endorsement of Scozzafava is just the last nail in the coffin of Newt's reputation. What a shame... I really liked and respected him in the 1990s.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 26, 2009, at the time of 12:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 24, 2009

Three Cheers for Palin's Latest "Blunder"!

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

This last June 2nd, Barack H. Obama decided he felt so comfortable and compatible with "Republican" Rep. John McHugh (RINO-NY, 40%) that he named him Secretary of the Army. This leaves New York's 23rd congressional district with an open seat; a special election is scheduled there for November 3rd, I believe, the same day the Republicans are set to win the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races.

In this hotly contested election, we have already noted that instead of a single Republican nominee, there is a very liberal Republican, Assemblywoman Dierdre Scozzafava, and a much more traditional conservative accountant running on the Conservative Party line, Doug Hoffman. (Scozzafava is the woman for whom Charles "the Sauerkraut" Krauthammer coined the acronym DIABLO -- Democrat in all but label only. Actually I don't know for sure Krauthammer personally made that up, but he is the one I heard say it.)

To her everlasting credit, Sarah Palin has become, I believe, the first major Republican Party heavy-hitter to come out swinging on behalf of Hoffman, the conservative, in despite of the New York GOP establishment's favorite-daughter selection of Scozzafava. Palin made her endorsement via her Facebook page (I hope that link works; it might require the reader have a Facebook account):

Our nation is at a crossroads, and this is once again a "time for choosing."

The federal government borrows, spends, and prints too much money, while our national debt hits a record high. Government is growing while the private sector is shrinking, and unemployment is on the rise. Doug Hoffman is committed to ending the reckless spending in Washington, D.C. and the massive increase in the size and scope of the federal government. He is also fully committed to supporting our men and women in uniform as they seek to honorably complete their missions overseas.

And best of all, Doug Hoffman has not been anointed by any political machine.

Doug Hoffman stands for the principles that all Republicans should share: smaller government, lower taxes, strong national defense, and a commitment to individual liberty.

(As this is a political endorsement, and she clearly wants as widespread a distribution as she can get, I will cross my fingers and put her entire Facebook entry into the "Slither on" extended section of this post. If she or someone else with authority objects, I will remove it; but I think this does not violate any copyrights.)

In response to Palin's endorsement (and the $116,000+ in cash it helped raise for Mr. Hoffman), a peevish blogger at the Washington Post, Stephen Stromberg, has declared it "Sarah Palin's latest blunder." He "reasons" that she will only alienate the GOP establishment and disrupt their vital mission of moving the Republican Party further to the left, so that they can finally win... not that such a pyrrhic victory would matter:

If Hoffman -- somehow -- wins with her help, she will have alienated a GOP establishment desperate to reconstruct past majority coalitions that included moderates, both because she will have hurt their cause and because they will fear her influence among true believers. In return, she might continue to appeal to some far-right primary voters in 2012, but that only gets you so far (a possible victory in Iowa, owing to the heavy social conservative vote in the caucuses there, and perhaps respectable showings in the South). In other words, in this best-case scenario, she will have begun to lay the groundwork to be the Mike Huckabee of 2012. Except in 2012, she will probably be running against, well, Mike Huckabee....

More than anything, though, Palin’s endorsement probably makes an Owens victory more likely. That would not just be a humiliation for Palin. It would be a notable loss for her party as it is trying to shake off years of electoral debacle.

Heh. I always love it when liberal Democrats give Republicans and conservatives helpful advice on getting our mojo back. (For further amusement, the blog Stromboli, or whatever his name is, writes for is titled "PostPartisan"!)

I suspect that if Palin draws the ire of liberals by endorsing Hoffman, she's on the right track. In any event, she is already alienated from the moderate-liberal, neocon, GOP-establishment leadership. But this was also true of Ronald Reagan (cf. Don Regan, George Schultz, et al): The Realists (the establishmentarians of the 1980s) hated Reagan, and some made it clear that they would rather see Carter or Mondale win than Reagan.

But at least Palin is holding the line on at least some traditional Republican principles, something beyond political calculation and Realpolitik; from her Facebook post:

Political parties must stand for something. When Republicans were in the wilderness in the late 1970s, Ronald Reagan knew that the doctrine of "blurring the lines" between parties was not an appropriate way to win elections. Unfortunately, the Republican Party today has decided to choose a candidate who more than blurs the lines, and there is no real difference between the Democrat and the Republican in this race. This is why Doug Hoffman is running on the Conservative Party's ticket.

I think this is something we need, and I highly doubt that such a stance will hurt her political future in the party; most rank and file Republicans appear to believe we need much more principle and a lot less accomodation of the hard Left, whether Democratic radicals or Republican establishmentarians.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Here is Sarah Palin's entire endorsement of Doug Hoffman from her Facebook page (open Facebook, search in the upper-right for Sarah Palin, click her name, then click the "Notes" tab):

The people of the 23rd Congressional District of New York are ready to shake things up, and Doug Hoffman is coming on strong as Election Day approaches! He needs our help now.

The votes of every member of Congress affect every American, so it's important for all of us to pay attention to this important Congressional campaign in upstate New York. I am very pleased to announce my support for Doug Hoffman in his fight to be the next Representative from New York's 23rd Congressional district. It's my honor to endorse Doug and to do what I can to help him win, including having my political action committee, SarahPAC, donate to his campaign the maximum contribution allowed by law.

Our nation is at a crossroads, and this is once again a "time for choosing."

The federal government borrows, spends, and prints too much money, while our national debt hits a record high. Government is growing while the private sector is shrinking, and unemployment is on the rise. Doug Hoffman is committed to ending the reckless spending in Washington, D.C. and the massive increase in the size and scope of the federal government. He is also fully committed to supporting our men and women in uniform as they seek to honorably complete their missions overseas.

And best of all, Doug Hoffman has not been anointed by any political machine.

Doug Hoffman stands for the principles that all Republicans should share: smaller government, lower taxes, strong national defense, and a commitment to individual liberty.

Political parties must stand for something. When Republicans were in the wilderness in the late 1970s, Ronald Reagan knew that the doctrine of "blurring the lines" between parties was not an appropriate way to win elections. Unfortunately, the Republican Party today has decided to choose a candidate who more than blurs the lines, and there is no real difference between the Democrat and the Republican in this race. This is why Doug Hoffman is running on the Conservative Party's ticket.

Republicans and conservatives around the country are sending an important message to the Republican establishment in their outstanding grassroots support for Doug Hoffman: no more politics as usual.

You can help Doug by visiting his official website below and joining me in supporting his campaign:
http://www.doughoffmanforcongress.com/donate3.html.

- Sarah Palin

As the young, exciting candidates used to say back in the 1960s, Right on, baby!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 24, 2009, at the time of 9:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 23, 2009

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Sanity Clause

Elections , Liberal Lunacy
Hatched by Dafydd

From the Washington Post -- which seems to be edging ever so gingerly away from the One They Have Been Pining For:

Sensing that victory in the race for Virginia governor is slipping away, Democrats at the national level are laying the groundwork to blame a loss in a key swing state on a weak candidate who ran a poor campaign that failed to fully embrace President Obama until days before the election.

Wait, you sure it's not George Bush's fault?

Okay... so Virginia voters are upset that R. Creigh Deeds didn't climb into Barack H. Obama's lap and let him stick his hand up Deeds'... well, you get the sock-puppetry picture: Voters are angry at Deeds and less willing to support him because he's not singing the Obamalujah chorus.

So that's why they're voting for the Republican, Robert McDonnell. Hey, makes sense to me!

But why is it so important to blame everything on Mr. Deeds? That's easily explained:

A loss for Deeds in Virginia -- which for the first time in decades supported the Democratic presidential candidate in last year's race -- would likely be seen as a sign that Obama's popularity is weakening in critical areas of the country. But the unusual preelection criticism could be an attempt to shield Obama from that narrative by ensuring that Deeds is blamed personally for the loss, particularly given the state's three-decade pattern of backing candidates from the party out of power in the White House.

Whoosh! Mr. Deeds goes under the bus. "That's not the R. Creigh Deeds I knew."

But national Democrats are contrasting Deeds with New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine and New York congressional candidate Bill Owens, who they say have more actively sought the White House's help and more vigorously and publicly backed its agenda. Polls show Corzine in a competitive position in New Jersey and Owens ahead, while Deeds has turned aggressively to Obama voters in recent days in an effort to overcome a significant deficit in the polls.

Let's un-vague-ify those WaPo weasel words:

  • By "polls show Corzine in a competitive position," the Post means that John Corzine was being walloped by Chris Christie until mid-September, when "independent" Chris Daggett entered the race and began sucking votes away from Christie... in the polls, that is. Now Corzine and Christie are tied.
  • And by "[Bill] Owens ahead" in the special election for New York's 23rd congressional district, they actually mean that Democrat Owens has a slight plurality over his two opponents, liberal Republican Dierdre Scozzafava -- whom Charles Krauthammer says is not even a RINO; she's a DIABLO, a Democrat in all but label only -- and Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman; the two split the un-Democratic vote, allowing Owens to sneak ahead with 33%-35% support.

    But if the Republicans and Conservatives can coalesce on a single candidate, that candidate would crush Owens like a bongo drum, winning by eighteen or nineteen points... even on the Daily Kos poll!

In the real world of the voting booth, I believe all three of these races will go to the Republican -- or in New York, to the Conservative Party nominee, who will, I believe, suck a huge chunk of votes away from the soft-hearted, soft-headed Dierdre "Hillary" Scozzafava. (Since the GOP establishment backs Scozzafava, a lot of more conservative Republicans tell the pollsters that they're doing the same. But once they're in the privacy of the curtained room of democracy, it will be a different story.)

In any event, regarding the pathetic Mr. Deeds of Virginia... put a sock on him, he's done. As Queen might have sung, "another one bites the bus!"

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 23, 2009, at the time of 11:31 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 14, 2009

Is Obama '12 the new Clinton '96?

Elections , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

According to John Hinderaker at Power Line, some Democrats are already comparing the reelection attempt by Barack H. Obama in 2012 to the successful reelection of Bill Clinton in 1996. I say the analogy is not just flawed but ludicrously so.

Those Democrats who see Clinton '96 as the prophetic analogy for Obama '12 miss a huge distinction: Clinton did not win reelection; rather, the Republicans threw away their chance to defeat him by nominating the Most Boring Candidate Since the Mesozoic -- Senate Majority Leader Blob Dole.

I believe Clinton was eminently defeatable that year, had Republicans simply nominated someone more dynamic, even exciting; the only excitement in the entire Dole campaign was when he inadvertently dove into the mosh pit at some campaign event.

A more fiscally conservative and dynamic GOP nominee might have kept H. Ross Perot out of the '96 race, or at least held his numbers down to the traditional 1% - 1.5% of a normal third-party candidate (Perot took 8.7% in the actual election). Then the Republican would have only had to take a tiny bit more of the vote in some key states to dethrone the unprincipled one.

(Note that Clinton beat Dole by 8.5%, more than Obama beat McCain by; yet Clinton managed only 49.9% of the vote against a weak spread. That is the mark of an electorate dissatisfied with the field.)

But the race in 2012 will likely include several very exciting GOP candidates, including possibly Mitt Romney (in what will assuredly be an "it's the economy, stupid!" election), Eric Cantor, Bobby Jindal, and possibly Sarah Palin (though I consider that unlikely), any one of whom is far better a candidate than was Dole (yes, even Palin). Depending on how much voters blame the man sitting in la Casa Blanca for the idiocy of the Democratic Congress, Obama might well be sitting on a lower job approval in 2012 than Clinton had in 1996; Clinton was above 50% in the polls for many months prior to the November election.

I think it's a bad analogy all around; a better analogy might be Jimmy Carter, except that the 1980 race had its own distorting factor involving the Republican nominee, this time in the opposite direction: It's impossible to say whether Carter would have been reelected if George H.W. Bush had eked out a primary victory to become the nominee instead of Ronald Reagan.

The presidential election of 2008 was absolutely unique, and it may turn out that the presidential reelection attempt of 2012 is similarly sui generis. But certainly it's not plausibly modeled by the reelection campaign of Clinton in 1996; that's just Democratic wishful thinking.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 14, 2009, at the time of 2:57 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 22, 2009

L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa Drops Out of California Gubernatorial Race

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

In a stunning turn of events (well it stunned me, at least), Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who I had thought the odds-on favorite to be the Democratic nominee for governor of California in the 2010 election, just announced today that he will not run for the office. He says that Los Angeles residents are in crappy enough financial shape that he doesn't want to abandon them.

I always thought former "MEChAnista" Villaraigosa was likely to beat out Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA, 100%) for several reasons, not least of which that he would be the first elected Latino governor since we became a state in 1850, and the first Latino governor to serve since Romualdo Pacheco, who succeeded in 1875 to the office after the previous governor was elected to the United States Senate. (Pacheco served for a few months until a new governor was elected.)

As the Hispanic population of California has become significantly larger, and as Hispanic voters tend to coalesce around Hispanic candidates regardless of whether the two groups actually agree on many issues, I was more worried about a Villaraigosa candidacy than any other Democratic candidate, from Feinstein, to former Gov. Jerry Brown, to San Francisco Mayor and lawless radical Gavin Newsom, to any of the also-rans.

So who will take Villaraigosa's place on the ballot?

  • With Villaraigosa out, Feinstein becomes the default front runner. She certainly has the most extensive political experience as mayor of San Francisco, state senator, and United States senator. She also came close to beating then-Sen. Pete Wilson in the 1990 governor's race.
  • If anybody has a shot at displacing her on the ballot, I would guess it would be the ultra-ultra-liberal Newsom... who burst on the scene in 2004 when he unilaterally, without any legal authority, ordered San Francisco to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples (Newsom is himself heterosexual). The State Supreme Court later nullified all those "marriages"... though of course it subsequently ordered the state to start doing what it had just slapped Newsom for doing... for which the voters slapped back with Proposition 8.
  • Jerry Brown is a spent force, in my opinion; the only reason he can even run is that the term limits law doesn't count gubernatorial terms served before 1990.
  • There is always the faint possibility that former Lt.Gov. Cruz Bustamante will run; but he has been virtually invisible on the momentus political and economic issues facing this state recently, focusing instead on a much more urgent project: "Lose weight now -- ask me how!"

On the Republican side, I'm placing my bets on Meg Whitman, former President and CEO of eBay from 1998 to 2008. I think she would be especially strong against Sen. Feinstein:

  • Feinstein will be 77 years old on election day (today is her 76th birthday); Whitman will be 54.
  • To be perfectly blunt, Whitman beats out Feinstein for the pulchritude prize walking away. If you don't think that can make a difference in an election, ask President John S. McCain. All right, there were some other issues; but the visual chasm between the virile, young Obamacle and the Methuseloid McCain surely played a major role, especially with younger voters.

    Anyway, judge for yourselves -- from these two admittedly tendentious photos, which I deliberately chose to make Feinstein look awfuler than she really does, and Whitman look better than she really does:



DiFi - the horror, the horror!    Meg Whitman

Dianne "DiFi" Feinstein vs. Meg "Megawatt" Whitman -- choose your poison

  • Feinstein has never done anything in her life other than politics. Whitman has never before done politics. I believe this is a positive, not a negative, because she is extremely well known in [stealth correction] "Silicon Valley," the high-tech sector of California. I see young people, conservatives, techies, women, and anybody who actually works a real job for a living finding Whitman's biography compelling... and Feinstein's biography dull as dishwater.
  • Related to the above, Feinstein has many decades of corrupt and compromising baggage she must explain away. It has hurt her in past elections.
  • Meg Whitman earned her own personal fortune by building eBay up from a handful of employees to the juggernaut it is today; Dianne Feinstein married money for her third husband, Richard Blum.
  • Whitman totally neutralizes the gender issue, as both are, you know, women.
  • She also neutralizes the personal-fortune issue, as she is ten times as rich as Feinstein... but unlike the latter, Whitman earned her own wealth.
  • Whitman also has a better shot at winning the "I can fix the California economy" sweepstakes... though this could cut the other way, too, if voters decide Schwarzenegger's failure was due to his inexperience with stroking the Democrat-dominated legislature. In reality, he failed because the Democratic legislative majority is too busy sticking its head in an ostrich to actually help ordinary Californios crushed by the insanity of the state budgets the majority has enacted for years and years.

    But of course, any GOP nominee would have to define this issue in favor of truth, and not allow the Democrats to define it self-servingly. Again, I like Whitman better than any other Republican candidate.

  • Whitman is simply a more galvanizing speaker than snoozy Feinstein.

I have to like our chances in the California governor's race a lot better today than I did yesterday. I can see the light at the end of our rope.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 22, 2009, at the time of 6:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 13, 2009

George Voinovich Retiring. Can We Get a Republican Instead?

Congressional Calamities , Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

George Voinovich (RINO-OH, 48%) has announced that he won't run for reelection. He joins Mel Martinez (R-FL, 80%), Sam Brownback (R-KS, 95%), Kit Bond (R-MO, 83%), and possibly Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX, 88%) in the list of Republican senators who have either announced they won't run for reelection in 2010 or, in Hutchison's case, appears ready to resign to run for governor of Texas.

Voinovich has been a thorn in the eyes of the GOP for his entire tenure as U.S. senator. Probably for that very reason, his prospects for reelection in 2010 were already dicey.

While Voinovich gives the usual phoney-baloney reasons for not running for reelection -- wants to do the work of the people instead of campaigning, wants to spend more time with his family, yak blah -- the real reason for his departure may be somewhat more prosaic:

In announcing that he would not seek another term, Mr. Voinovich avoids what could have been a difficult re-election fight. As recently as December a Quinnipiac University poll found that fewer than half of all voters in the state -- 44 percent -- said he deserved to be elected to a third term. And voters were nearly evenly split on the question of whether they would vote for him or an unnamed Democrat.

Voinovich won handily the last time he ran, winning by 64 to 36 against Mike Fingerhut; but this was in 2004, during Bush's successful reelection. He also won fairly easily the first time he essayed the Senate in 1998, 56 to 44; in that election, he "ignored" (Michael Barone's word) the attacks of his opponent, County Commissioner Mary Boyle, and ran on his record as Governor of Ohio, winning the seat vacated by American hero turned Clinton lickspittle John Glenn.

But in the new, more Democratic Ohio of 2006 (Sherrod Brown beats Mike DeWine at the peak of the Ohio GOP scandal) and 2008 (Ohio narrowly goes for Barack H. Obama as the financial "cratering" -- George W. Bush's word -- looms); with tepid polling; and with Voinovich being already 72 years old (74 when the next election is held), he evidently sees the "mene mene" on the wall.

But I'm not convinced that the public is rejecting Voinovich because, with his 2007 48% rating from the American Conservative Union, is too conservative. It's much more plausible that his low ratings derive from Republican reluctance to reelect yet another tax-hiking, gun-grabbing, war-defeatist surrender monkey RINO back to the Senate.

I'd love to see an actual Republican run to replace him in what used to be the Republican state of Ohio. The question is, can an actual Republican be elected? I say Yes, Rob Portman can -- for reasons detailed below.

The $1.2 trillion question is this: Has Ohio fallen fully under the sway of the Dark Side, or was 2008 just a "Democratic year," with the normal pattern of favoring the "out" party returning in 2010? Is a GOP election victory in Ohio even possible?

First, note that Obama beat John S. McCain there by only half the margin (4%) last year that Sherrod Brown beat Mike DeWine by (8%) in 2006. While there certainly are confounding factors, I would imagine that Obama nevertheless was at least as appealing a candidate to Ohioans as Brown... implying that the taint of the Gov. Robert Taft corruption scandal and the Jack Abramoff-related scandals in that state may not be long lasting.

Whether or not a real Republican can win, I still want to see a more conservative -- or libertarian-conservative -- nominee for the Voinovich seat than the departing man himself. At the very least, I want to see what happens, how well an actual Republican like Portman does in that state. I suspect that he will begin with an approval rating north of Voinovich's current 44%.

Rob Portman is, in fact, the supposed favorite to replace Voinovich on the GOP ticket; Portman is the former director of OMB under President Bush and a former Ohio congressman:

Among those who are reportedly angling to replace Mr. Voinovich is a former Ohio congressman, Rob Portman, a Republican who served as director of the Office of Management and Budget and United States Trade Representative during the Bush administration.

Mr. Portman has not yet announced his candidacy, but Matt Miller, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, sought to pre-empt him on Monday.

“It’s jaw-dropping,” Mr. Miller said, “that Republicans would seem to turn to a Washington insider like Rob Portman who was one of the architects of the Bush economic policies that have run up trillions in deficits and shipped jobs overseas.”

That "trillions in deficits" argument may not fly as well as a pig in 2010, after two years of Barack Obama's "stimulus" package.

Portman's last ACU rating (2004) was 88%, nearly twice that of Voinovich. Everyone seems to "expect" him to declare his candidacy today. He won all of his elections (general and primary) easily; but the second district of Ohio is staunchly Republican: Portman's successor, Jean Schmidt, even won in the debacle year of 2006 (albeit narrowly), then won reelection more substantially last year.

Even so, my intuition tells me that we're considerably better off in 2010 running Portman than Voinovich in the senatorial election, for all that we're swapping an incrumbent for an open seat.

The other states mentioned where Republican senators have decided not to run in 2010 (or in Hutchison's case, might decide to resign) seem reasonably safe to me: Only Florida went to Obama last November, and that extremely narrowly; Kansas and Texas were solidly for McCain, while Missouri remained red in the election's closest squeaker, 0.13%. But no congressional seats changed parties in MO in the 2008 election. (Several did in Florida, but they were nearly all attributable to the individual Republicans being personally enmeshed in either the Mark Foley or the Jack Abramoff scandals.) I don't see any projectable trend in those states from red to blue.

So far, at least, the retiring GOP senators have probably done us more good than bad by getting out now. I think that's certainly the case for Sen. Voinovich.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 13, 2009, at the time of 1:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 7, 2009

Coldcocked Coleman vs. Hammerin' Hal

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line has a great post up about the failings of Sen. Norm Coleman's (R-MN, 64%) post-election campaign: While failed comedian Al Franken fought vigorously to find every, last vote that could possibly end up being counted for him, Coleman's campaign sat back "a bit like an NFL team sitting on a two-point lead in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter and playing zone defense."

(I don't actually understand what that means. To me, football comprises 22 men suffering from gigantism battling each other for a peculiar, little pointy object. But I surmise from Paul's analogy that such a strategy in such a situation would be politically lame and fraught with danger.)

Here's Paul:

One overlooked aspect of the process is the different approaches the two campaigns took once the recount began. From the outset of the recount process, the Coleman campaign has been remarkably passive in its approach. They have improvised strategy from day to day and spent too much time "spinning" the Franken campaign's activities, while expecting their lawyers to protect them. They have not appeared to me to have a handle on what was happening or on what was likely to happen.

Franken's campaign recognized immediately the opportunity to "find" more votes with the "improperly rejected" absentee ballots. The Coleman campaign may have erred at the outset when it failed to initiate its own efforts or craft a countervailing strategy.

The Coleman campaign appears to have bet they could create a legal firewall that would prevent the "improperly rejected" absentee ballots from getting counted. In any event, the Coleman campaign appears to have been caught flatfooted when the Minnesota Supreme Court decided these ballots should be included in the recount subject to agreement of the parties (and also subject to the possibility of sanctions for withholding agreement in bad faith).

Actually, I bring this up to make two points, the first purely mathematical, the second purely political. Paul notes the only source of votes left for Coleman:

The Coleman campaign has nevertheless identified 654 "improperly rejected" absentee ballots from Republican counties that were excluded from the recount (and that may be included in the election contest).

This is in addition to the 130 Franken votes that were evidently counted twice. Let's assume, as is likely, that these 130 double-counts are reversed; that reduces Franken's 225-vote majority to only 95 votes.

  1. How strongly must Coleman win among those 654 "improperly rejected" absentee ballots in order to overcome that remaining deficit and win the election in the end?

The answer depends upon how many of those ballots are finally counted. If it's all of them, then Coleman must win them by a 58% to 42% margin. But if only, say, two-thirds of them end up being accepted by the courts, so that the pool shrinks from 654 to 436, it will be much harder. In this scenario, Coleman would have to win that ballot pool by a somewhat larger 61-39 margin.

So Coleman must generally win those ballots by about 60-40 to have a shot at prevailing. As these mostly come from Republican-Coleman districts, that's not impossible or even improbable... but we'll see.

Now to the more interesting political point:

  1. Democrat opposition to Coleman has skyrocketed, and they appear prepared to prevent him being seated even if he wins the election, court or no court. At the same time, the Democrats have softened their opposition to the seating of Roland Burris, nominated by embattled and soon-to-be-impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojovich's to take Barack H. Obama's seat in the U.S. Senate; swearing Burris in as a senator now appears inevitable, and the Democrats don't even seem to be very upset about it.

First, the Burris story:

Senate officials in both parties, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly for Senate members, said there is a growing expectation on Capitol Hill that the saga will end with Burris being seated....

Burris met for 45 minutes Wednesday morning with [Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid, D-Caesar's Palace, 85%, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, 95%]. Only days ago, both senators were arguing that Burris' nomination was so tainted that he should not be seated and would be blocked.

"Only days ago..." But think how many momentous events related to this appointment have happened in the past two or three days! For one thing, the Democrats suddenly discovered that Roland Burris is black, like Barack Obama -- and that after President-elect Obama left for Washington D.C. to be sworn at, there wouldn't be any other black senator.

Surely that's enough to cause anybody to change his mind about Burris; any political objection they had to a man nominated to a Senate seat by a governor indicted for trying to sell that Senate seat has been quashed by the abrupt realization of Burris' race, and any qualm they had about his ability to effectively legislate has been soothed by the "D" after his name.

But we see a far less conciliatory Reid in the Politico piece:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered the toughest language he has ever used in arguing that Norm Coleman’s career in the Senate is finished.

“Norm Coleman will never ever serve [again] in the Senate,” Reid told Politico’s Manu Raju. “He lost the election. He can stall things, but he'll never serve in the Senate.”

Taking the Majority Leader at his word, I must conclude that Reid is saying that even if the court ultimately declares Coleman the winner, Reid and his Democrats will overturn the court decision by refusing to seat Coleman. This would give Democrats one more seat in the Senate, and near immunity to a filibuster, if they can hold ranks and gain but a single GOP turncoat for cloture.

They still must contend with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 70%-D), of course, as well as several other nominally "conservative" Democrats elected in recent years... e.g., Jim Webb (D-VA, 85%) and his incoming fellow Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (as yet unrated); but Democrats have a much stronger history than Republicans of drowning their own ideals and principles in the ocean of "party discipline."

These two political about-faces open a brand, new phase of Democrat resistance to and aggression against the GOP, indicating that the Democratic Party plans to continue its warfare against the opposition unabated from the level they hit during the 2004 election and after, when the pandemic of Bush Derangement Syndrome swept through the Left like ebola. BDS has clearly mutated and metastisized into RDS; any and every Republican is now hated by the Democrats with the fervor previously reserved for Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, and of course the idiot-savant "mastermind" of the "criminal Bush regime," Bush himself.

This is not only bad news for the country -- no respite from the Left's politics of perpetual personal destruction -- but for the incoming President Obama as well... who had clearly signalled that he planned to govern as much more a centrist than his campaign rhetoric implied. Evidently, the congressional Democrats intend a far more serious challenge to Obama from the Left than their previous acquiescence to Obama's charge to the center implied.

Given that Obama is a political tabula rasa who will probably move, like Bill Clinton, in whatever direction offers the least resistance, I think it now likely that Obama's previous moves notwithstanding, the radicalized Democrats in Congress will push him into a far more strident, shrill, and deeply partisan presidency than he intended.

Obama clearly thought to "Deleno-ize" himself -- fireside chats and liberal fascism with a smiley face. This might have allowed him to set up, for the 2010 midterm elections, the "1934 scenario," in which the Democrats, instead of losing seats (as the norm), picked up nine seats in both the Senate and the House, dropping the Republicans to 26% in the former and below 24% in the latter. But if Obama is pushed far left by the congressional Democrats, this may very well set up the "1994 scenario" of the Gingrich revolution instead.

This would be very good for the Republican Party, of course -- but woe to the country in the interim! Expect a very tense, anxious, crisis-ridden, and "interesting" (in the sense of that fictional "Chinese proverb") next two years.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 7, 2009, at the time of 4:05 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 21, 2008

Found: Source of All Those New Democrats

Dancing Democrats , Educational Elucidations , Elections , Future of Civilization , History of Moral Philosophy
Hatched by Dafydd

We've all been wondering -- oh, all right... I've been wondering -- whence came all those gazillions of Democratic voters who propelled the over-the-top Barack H. Obama over the top. Well, it appears that a new survey by the Josephson Institute of Ethics may have found part of the answer:

Teenagers lie. They cheat and steal, too. And they are doing it more often and more easily than ever.

That is the conclusion of the latest “Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth”, released this week by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, a partnership of educational and youth organizations. The institute conducted a random survey of 29,760 high school students earlier this year (as they have every two years since 1992) and found that the next generation of leaders have a somewhat casual relationship with the truth.

Among the findings:

  • 30% of teenagers (35% of boys, 26% of girls) claim to have stolen something from a store in the past year.
  • 42% (49% M, 36% F) said "they sometimes lie to save money;" I'm envisioning 14 year olds crouching down in front of the Mann theaters ticket office, and in a squeaky voice, insisting they're only 12. But in addition, 83% told their parents a lie about "something significant;" again I'm guessing, but I'd say about smoking, drinking, toking, or, er, going a little too far with their boyfriends or girlfriends.
  • 64% -- nearly two-thirds! -- cheated on a test; 36% let their mice do the writing, turning in papers they downloaded off the internet. (Perhaps these are the future Joe Biden voters?)
  • And to make things worse (and even more confusing), a quarter of respondents confessed that they lied about "one or two" of the questions on this very survey! Of course, that begs the question: lied which way, to make themselves sound more honest and trustworthy, or more wicked cool?

What this survey, which shows a growing trend of falsity, cheating, and amorality, tells us is that we are not only raising yet another generation of kids without a functioning moral compass, but more threateningly, a generation of kids who haven't the slightest idea that there is a real world out there where lying, cheating, and stealing not only won't get you anywhere, it can destroy your life.

I wonder how this recklessness with the truth -- heck, recklessness even with the things they make up -- affects their romantic relationships, their friendships, their own self respect? How can a person honestly, deep down, respect himself if he knows he's a lying sack of offal?

Of course such truth-challenged, reality-denying kids would be much more likely to grow into Democrat-voting young adults; the Democratic Party is the party of fantasy, denial, and situational ethics. Naturally, not every Democrat is dishonest... but the contemporary Democratic Party rewards brazen dishonesty in a way that I don't believe any previous political party in the United States has done.

Heck, look who just got elected president... and how he did it.

I firmly believe this is the result of leftist government schools (followed, after a while, by secular private and even religious schools) ceasing to teach ethics, civics, or even basic right and wrong, for fear of trampling on some kid's "right" to choose his own "values." (For that matter, even the substitution of "values," a content-neutral term, for "virtues," which implies a fixed moral code, is a terrible symptom of the disease of nihilism.)

My worthy co-conspirator in a number of projects, Brad Linaweaver, has recently coined a neologism to describe another aspect of this; he refers to members of ELF, ALF, PETA, and other such eco-nut radical activist groups as "econihilists;" I believe he defines the term to mean self-identified ecologists who are so anti-human and pro-nature that they actually ache to see the entire human race destroyed, to make room for the more "moral" species -- spotted owls, blue whales, blue-green algae, Ebola viruses, and the like. I don't think they would put it exactly that way, but that's the gist of their practical philosophy, such as it is.

Both the econihilists and the teens in the Josephson Institute's survey seem to share a deep loathing of the human race... which I can only conclude comes from a deep inner loathing of themselves. Paradoxically, I believe this self-loathing stems from the self-inflicted soul-wound of lying, cheating, and stealing; it is both cause and effect.

By being afraid to tell kids that there is a real right and a real wrong -- that some moral codes are absolute, not subject to the whim of the actor -- we may be sowing the seeds of our species' own destruction.

Perhaps it's time to tell the leftists running the nation's schools to go take a long walk on a short shrift. In my political manifesto, I shall declare that it's time for the GOP, marginally better on absolute morality than the Democrats, to seize the schools back from the dark side... "for the sake of the children." It's one of several strategic goals that the Republicans must pursue with vigor, making the case without compromise, now that we're completely cut out of the legislative and executive power.

To paraphrase Janis Joplin, "Political freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 21, 2008, at the time of 6:07 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

December 16, 2008

The Party of Pre-Americans

Econ. 101 , Elections , Immigration Immolations , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

In today's topsy-turvy world, best described by Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland --

"Let the jury consider their verdict," the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.

"No, no!" said the Queen. "Sentence first -- verdict afterwards."

-- I thought it best to present my conclusions first, then tuck all the boring explication and justification into the slither-on. This will make it easier for 95% of readers to skip the post entirely, and the remaining 8 to proceed to the argumentum already in a state fit to be tie-dyed.

Accordingly, I conclude that the Republican Party cannot survive as "the native-born American party." We have no option but to reach out to all those immigrants and children of immigrants who come here because they love America and what she stands for. Instead of discouraging or even stopping immigration, we must encourage it -- but only by the right people, those who come here anxious to assimilate, who already believe in American values, no matter where they were born. We need more, not less, immigration by folks who were already American in their hearts long before they immigrated here.

I call such folks "pre-Americans." If we don't want to repeat the same mistake with the rising population of Hispanics that we made with blacks, the Republican Party must become the party of pre-Americans. Here are the three main reasons I discover:

  • Without Hispanic votes, we are sunk as a viable party;
  • Without (pre-American) immigrants, we cannot survive economically;
  • Nor can we win the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis.

All else is dicta. Please read the dicta before raining katzenjammers on us in the comments section.

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that my earlier prediction was correct: The anti-immigration hysteria of some putative "conservatives" during the 109th Congress, while the immigration-reform bill was under consideration, has so poisoned the well that we may never win another national election -- unless we act immediately to undo what a few prominent Republicans did.

I'll call them the Tancredistas, not because Tom Tancredo was the leader of the opposition (he wasn't), but because his anti-immigrant rage -- not simply anti-illegal immigrant, but anti-immigrant, period -- exemplifies all that is wrong with the GOP's approach to the subject. Angry opponents of what they were pleased to call "amnesty" often demanded a moratorium on all immigration; this went far beyond mere opposition to fence-jumping and cut right at the heart of America, which has always been a nation of immigrants.

Worse, whenever any pro-legal immigrationist wondered why the Tancredistas thought we needed to curtail all immigration, the stock answer was invariably that Hispanics "refused to assimilate," or even that it was impossible for Hispanics to assimilate. Sometimes Moslems were tossed into the mix as non-assimilationers, as well; but the Tancredistas never complained about non-assimilating Europeans or Canadians. Evidently, Italians and Albanians were quite willing and able -- just not Hispanics and Moslems. (I wondered aloud about immigrants from Spain, but no one rose to clarify.)

I am quite convinced that the number of out and out racists among the Tancredistas was always very, very small. Most in the anti-"amnesty" camp believe, in their hearts, that they're only opposed to illegality, to lawbreaking, to flouting our national borders.

Alas, even the non-racists adopted exclusionary language, phrases that could hardly be distinguished from those signs during Jim Crow that read "No dogs, Jews, or Coloreds allowed." This sort of cold, harsh language was frequently coupled with irrational arguments: A few La Raza activists parading through Los Angeles carrying Mexican flags and chanting "Aztlan!" were equated to the entire Hispanic population of the United States, for example; any method of regularizing illegals already living here was dubbed "amnesty," even if it involved punishment; and any call to reform the legal immigration system was rejected as "selling out to Ted Kennedy."

Tancredistas offered increasingly pugnacious counterproposals:

  • Closing the borders (that permanent "moratorium" on immigration)
  • Mass round-ups and deportations
  • Kicking "illegal" children out of school
  • And denying citizenship to the children of illegals, even if they were born in the United States

All of this energetic and frankly over-the-top anti-immigrant activism has convinced a great majority of American Hispanics, both immigrants and first- or second-generation native-born Americans, that the Republican Party hates them and wants to deport them all -- not just the illegals, but those here legally as well. I believe that most of those I'm labeling Tancredistas (let alone other Republicans) don't really want to deport legal Hispanic immigrants. But that's the way it comes across; and in politics, perception is just as important as reality.

Democrats constantly try to hang a label of racism on us; they hoot that the GOP cannot survive as "the white party." That's certainly true, but it's a vile smear, well befitting their general approach to life: "It's not how you play the game, it's whether you win -- and utterly destroy your opponent." I've never heard anybody inside the Republican Party suggest we should be "the white party."

But a more appropriate and accurate variation on that vile, racist, anti-GOP slander is also true: We cannot survive as "the native-born American party;" we must, must reach out to those who come here wanting to become Americans, those who come here anxious to assimilate, those who come here with American values, no matter where else they had the misfortune to be born. Let's call these folks, those who were already American in hearts and minds even before coming here, "pre-Americans": We must rebrand the Republican Party as "the party of pre-Americans." (Note, I'm not saying exclusively pre-Americans.)

Once our immigration laws become more rational, predictable, and fair, then and only then we can equate pre-Americans with legal immigrants. But our laws are neither rational nor predictable nor fair; they are arbitrary, capricious, and unjust to a staggering degree. (Their only virtue is that they're nowhere near as irrational, unpredictable, and unfair as those of every other nation on the planet.)

Thus, the first step in rebranding the GOP is for the GOP to unify behind a legal-immigration reform law -- which could be separate and distinct from a decision on what to do with illegal immigrants already here, about guest workers, and so forth. The sole purpose of the legal-immigration reform law should be to make the system:

  • Rational. Agents should decide who gets residency and citizenship on the basis of assimilability and American values, not irrational criteria such as country of origin or whether the applicant has a cousin with a green card.
  • Predictable. Applicants must know in advance how likely they are to gain residency or citizenship... and more important, what steps to take to increase their odds. Thus, those who really want to become Americans and are willing to work for it will have a clue what to do.
  • Fair. Agents must decide based upon the individual applicant, not some larger group over which he has no control and may disagree vehemently ("Sorry, we've already admitted our quota of PhDs; we're only admitting plumbers now"). They must also decide based upon known and published criteria that do not change from day to day, depending on which agent or office the immigrant happens to get.

Reform is a good first step, but it's not sufficient to woo back Hispanic Americans who feel betrayed by the GOP. In politics, it's not just what you say but how you say it. Too many Republicans picked an incredibly toxic way to argue against a plan they thought too generous towards illegal aliens... and the words they used convinced tens of millions of immigrants and children of immigrants that they were unwanted nuisances polluting the precious bodily fluids of the United States.

This reaction may be unfair; reality often is. However, given John S. McCain's dismal performance among Hispanics in November -- he was equated with the Tancredistas by a series of Spanish-language ads run by Obama, despite McCain being the leading Republican voice for immigration reform -- it's almost undeniable at this point that the GOP "brand" among Hispanics and other ethnically foreign populations within the country is more unpopular than New Coke.

Therefore, we not only must support significant reform of the legal immigration system, we must start to rebuild our relationship with, in particular, Hispanics. Having given them the impression we were spitting in their faces, we must now show regret for the intemperate language used and begin using much more inclusive language in the future.

There is no need to compromise on the fundamental requirement of controlling our borders; but we must finally recognize that most illegal immigrants are not "criminals," not in the commonly understood sense of a convenience-store robber or a carjacker. Most are simply responding irrationally to an irrational and unjust immigration system. Correct the system -- which we should do anyway for our own reasons -- and we'll see a huge drop in illegal entries, as those pre-Americans who rationally should be admitted are allowed in legally.

But it is important to show sympathy and support for those "huddled masses yearning to breath free" who desperately desire to become real Americans -- those that already have the distinctive American values and virtues. Instead of talking about a moratorium on immigration (which comes across as "There are too many of your sort here already"), we must say, in essence, "While it's important to enforce our territorial integrity, we understand that many folks see America as a 'shining city on a hill,' and we'll do everything in our party's power to open the gates to all those who are truly American at heart... no matter where they were born."

Then actually do it.

When the legal immigration procedure is more rational, predictable, and fair, the honest will use it rather than trying to swim the Rio Grande. With a much smaller rate of illegal border crossings, we could focus much more attention on those who still feel the need to sneak into the United States; likely, there is a very good reason why they cannot immigrate legally. And we would be able to use harsher, more authoritarian means to crack down, since (again) when the honest can enter honestly, only the dishonest persist in entering dishonestly.

Not only do Republicans (and the nation) need pre-American immigrants for economic reasons (they're far better for our country than "guest workers" who feel no affiliation or affinity with the United States), but they would also benefit and strengthen American borg culture, as has every other wave of immigration. American immigration has always been another example, besides Capitalism, of the "creative destruction" that signals a nation rising, rather than the cultural stagnation that betokens a nation in decline. And that's something we desperately need, as we're engaged in a true Kulturkampf (and I don't mean against American liberals).

We're at war with a vicious culture that worships a murder-totem who demands endless human sacrifices; that militant Islamist culture wants to overwhelm the West and institute so-called "sharia" law, enslaving both Christendom and the rest of Islam to its bloodthirsty death cult. All Western, Judeo-Christian and anti-militant Moslem cultures must join forces to defeat the Moloch worshippers.

We cannot retreat into ethnic enclaves and still win that war. Yes, admitting massive numbers of pre-American Hispanics will change American culture... just as did admitting massive numbers of Russians, Poles, Chinese, Irish, Catholics, Jews, and of course Africans. Allowing anyone other than British Anglicans or German Lutherans, the dominant groups when the country was founded, to become American necessarily changed American culture.

But there's nothing inherently wrong with changing American culture; what matters is how it's changed. And there is nothing within traditional Latin-American culture that's incompatible with the deepest American values; it's not like admitting tens of millions of Ayatollah-Khomeini followers. If anything, Latin-American values of work, family, and entrepeneurship are a perfect compliment to the corresponding Republican (and American) values.

The same could have been said of black values back before the civil-rights era... and had we taken the route of eliminating institutionalize state racism, empowering individuals through Capitalism and home-ownership, and raising victims of discrimination up to meet the universal standards (instead of lowering the standards to make it easier for the class of all blacks to exceed them), then I believe we would have a black voting population today that cast its individual votes on the basis of individual opinion, instead of a black voting population that is wholly captive to a single party -- one that does not have the best interests of individual black families at heart.

Ergo, if we don't want to repeat the same mistake with the rising population of Hispanics, the Republican Party must become the party of pre-Americans. I reiterate the three reasons, in increasing order of importance:

  • Because without Hispanic votes, we cannot survive as a viable American political party;
  • Because without pre-American immigrants, we cannot survive economically;
  • Because without pre-American immigrants, we cannot win the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis.

It's long past time to swallow our pride and accept the inevitable: There are going to be millions of Latin American immigrants into the United States annually for the forseeable future. The only question is whether they come in through the gate or over the fence... and whether we make it easy for the law-abiding and hard for the bad guys by reforming our broken system -- or do nothing, leaving it equally easy for everyone, righteous or rotten, to enter anywhere and everywhere.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 16, 2008, at the time of 8:25 PM | Comments (41) | TrackBack

December 15, 2008

Standing Tall Against Standards

Elections , Liberal Lunacy
Hatched by Dafydd

(I feel a bit like I'm poaching on the home turf of Power Line and Captain's Quarters Ed Morrissey's Hot Air posts; but it is a national story. Honest!)

In the drawn-out Senate race still crawling along in Minnesota, the battle lines have at last become clear: Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN, 64%) wants clear statewide standards before considering rejected absentee ballots -- while failed comedian Al Franken has gone to court to reject all standards and allow local Democrats to decide which absentee ballots to accept and which to reject.

From the first story:

Sen. Norm Coleman’s (R) campaign has asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to issue a stay in a decision Friday by the state’s Board of Canvassers that could significantly sway the razor-thin margin in Minnesota’s still-undecided Senate race.

The Board recommended that Minnesota’s 87 counties open and count absentee ballots that were disqualified for no stated, legal reason. The Coleman campaign said Monday it had asked the state’s highest court to put a halt to that count until it could determine uniform standards for counting the ballots, estimated to number more than 1,000.

"The Supreme Court ought to direct the local officials to step back, take a breath, and allow the Court to set a uniform standard," Coleman campaign attorney Fritz Knaak said Monday in a conference call.

And here is the response from the Franken campaign to Coleman's call for uniform standards, as reported in Politico's second article:

Democrat Al Franken’s campaign on Monday accused Sen. Norm Coleman’s (R) campaign of trying to halt the recount in the state's contested Senate race and disenfranchise Minnesota voters whose absentee ballots were improperly disqualified.

"The Coleman campaign went to the state’s highest court to stop the counting and overrule a unanimous decision by the canvassing board," Franken campaign attorney Marc Elias said in a conference call Monday.

The state's Board of Canvassers recommended on Friday that counties to open and count more than 1,000 absentee ballots they said were disqualified for no stated, legal reason. The Coleman campaign filed a suit with the Minnesota Supreme Court asking the court to stop counties from tallying the ballots until the Court can establish a uniform standard for reviewing the uncounted ballots....

Franken’s campaign accused Coleman’s suit of really trying to overturn the board’s decision last week, and prevent the votes from being counted. Elias said that a clear, uniform standard for counting the ballots already exists in the Minnesota election code.

"Norm Coleman didn't get his way on Friday, so he's suing to stop the counting of lawful ballots and disenfranchise voters who did nothing wrong," Franken spokesman Andy Barr said. "That may be characteristic of his approach to this entire process, but it's entirely un-Minnesotan."

(How long before Franken's charge that Sen. Coleman is "un-Minnesotan" metastisizes into accusing Coleman of being unAmerican?)

The contrast could not be clearer... and it exactly mirrors the central argument in Bush v. Gore, the 2000 Supreme Court case about counting, recounting, and revoting the votes in Florida: The very reason that seven out of the nine Justices voted to stop the chad-count was that there were no uniform statewide standards; the precincts simply made ad-hoc rulings higgledy-piggledy. (Which meant in practice that conservative precincts tried to be unbiased and neutral, counting every legitimate vote; while liberal precincts decided their mandate was to count every Al Gore vote, legitimate, illegitimate, or imaginary.)

As Dennis Prager frequently notes, clarity is often more important that agreement; now at least everyone in the country clearly knows where Franken and the Democrats stand!

I'm now in a position to predict that this race will not be settled by January 6th, when the Congress is seated, nor on January 20th, when we swear at the president-elect. I'm not even sure it will be settled by the 2010 election. Al Franken and the Democrats plan to drag this out "forever and a day," on the theory that a 58-41 majority is better than a 58-42 majority -- so they'd rather force the seat to remain open as long as possible.

Democrats: "Holding firm against the courage of any convictions whatsoever!"

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 15, 2008, at the time of 4:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 3, 2008

Has Al Franken Snapped?

Elections , Liberal Lunacy
Hatched by Dafydd

The campaign of failed comedian Al Franken has just made an astonishing announcement: They now claim that Franken is ahead of Norm Coleman (R-MN, 64%) in the recount:

Minnesota Democratic Senate candidate Al Franken’s campaign said Wednesday that the comedian has taken the lead in his race against Sen. Norm Coleman (R).

Franken’s lawyer, Marc Elias, has been pressing for the media to focus on the campaign’s internal vote totals of the recount, which as of Wednesday showed Franken opening a lead of 22 votes.

Of course, nobody else sees Al Franken with a lead; he would have to use a very special metric to arrive at that conclusion... and of course, he does. This is the key:

The media have reported that Franken trails in the recount by around 300 votes, but that includes challenged ballots. Coleman’s campaign has challenged several hundred more ballots than Franken’s, but the vast majority of challenges are generally rejected.

Elias argues that, since most challenges will be invalidated, a more accurate count would not include those challenged ballots.

In other words, Politico reports that the Franken team is subtracting from the count all ballots that have been challenged by either side. Politico reports that the Franken campaign claims that when they do so, Franken picks up a net 320+ votes, putting him into the lead.

But there is a problem with the statement, and I don't know whether the mistake was Marc Elias's or Politico's: If it's true that "the vast majority of challenges are generally rejected," then what the Franken campaign means is that they want to count all the ballots... including the ones that are challenged, on the theory that the "vast majority" of challenges (not ballots) will be rejected.

Since the Coleman campaign has challenged more ballots than the Franken campaign, then if all the challenged ballots are added back in, Franken would pick up more votes than Coleman. That is the only calculation that makes sense (from the Franken point of view), so that must be what Elias said (or at least what he meant to say). Either Elias misspoke, or more likely, Politico miswrote.

But this opens up another can of monkeys; by suggesting this metric for determining who is ahead at any moment, Elias makes the hidden assumption that all challenges are equally invalid -- that the challenges made by Coleman against Franken votes) are no more likely to be found valid than the challenges made by Franken against Coleman votes. You follow?

This is the classic "split the difference" fallacy: You have two kids, John and Mary, and one pie. John wants to divide the pie into two equal pieces... but Mary thinks she should get the whole pie to herself. Seeing the impasse, Mary suggests she and her brother "split the difference" -- and give Mary 3/4ths of the pie.

The fallacy is the assumption that all claims are equally valid. In fact, facially, John's claim seems much more reasonable, while Mary's appears more frivolous. Further information can change this presumption: Perhaps Mary won the pie in a contest against John. In that case, Mary's claim is valid, and John's is frivolous or even mendacious. But in neither case is the proper answer to "split the difference;" the individual claims must be adjudicated.

In the present context, Coleman wants each challenge to be evaluated; but Al Franken simply wants all of them summarily rejected, thus giving him a huge chunk of votes. But what if Coleman has more challenges that are likely to be ruled valid than Franken? In that case, fewer of Coleman's claims would be rejected, so he would actually pick up votes, not lose them. It's irrelevant which side has filed more challenges; it only matters how many challenges on each side will be accepted.

Even if Al Franken has lost his mind, his campaign mangler has not. If they are calling for all challenges to be dropped, then they must believe they've made far more frivolous claims than has Coleman. Thus they expect to lose even more votes once the challenges are adjudicated, and they would be overjoyed to see all challenges wiped away, putting them on top. Simply put, the Franken campaign is not going to call for a remedy that would leave Franken in a worse position than he would be under the default remedy of deciding each individual claim on its merits.

The only fact situation that fits Franken's new metric is that far more Coleman challenges are valid than Franken challenges... and Al Franken (and Marc Elias) are well aware of it.

But every challenge on either side occurred with poll watchers from both campaigns present; Coleman's campaign watchers must know the character of all of Franken's challenges compared to their own.

This, then, is a wild "hail Mary" play; Franken has the audacity to hope that the Coleman campaign is so incompetent or so lazy, it agrees simply to hand the election to Franken, rather than go through all the fuss and bother of actually evaluating each challenge, case by case.

I ask whether Al Franken's mind has snapped because no rational person would expect his opponent to concede a race that he believes he has won, and in which he is ahead in the count. It would be like Gore demanding Bush agree to divide Florida absentee ballots equally between them; only a madman would make such a bizarre (and DOA) proposal. A sane candidate would want to preserve at least a shred of dignity, if not decency, and retain his viability for future campaigns.

Nor will this influence Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 85%) to take up the progressive man's burden and try to put together a Senate majority to seat Franken, not Coleman, in January. Reid won't move on this plan; not unless he doesn't mind a seal-kill of Democrats in 2010. Nobody cares that much for Al Franken. Not even Harry Reid.

I believe the fat lady -- or in this case, the humor-impaired "comedian" -- is singing "uncle."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 3, 2008, at the time of 6:23 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

November 10, 2008

Unterschtandink Ahnold

Constitutional Maunderings , Elections , Politics - California , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

What on earth was California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger thinking? (Don't worry, I'll tell you.)

Understanding Arnold is not easy in the best of circumstances -- and I'm not even talking about that thick Teutonic accent that he practices into a tape recorder every night. He almost epitomizes the cult of macho, and he's very pro-business; but on the other hand, he's a typical handwringing Hollywood liberal on every soft-hearted, soft-headed social issue you can imagine.

On the specific issue we're on about today, same-sex marriage (SSM), he's been all over the map: He first said he was opposed to SSM but supported domestic partnerships; in fact, in 2005 he famously vetoed SSM legislation passed by the California legislature on the grounds that the people of the state had spoken in Proposition 22 five years earlier, and the will of the people was paramount:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today delivered on his promise to veto legislation that would have given same-sex partners the right to marry, but said he would not support any rollback of the state's current domestic partner benefits.

But today, after the people spoke yet again -- this time with a state constitutional amendment, Proposition 8 -- Schwarzenegger suddenly decided that the will of the people is not paramount -- not when it conflicts with the vision of the judicially anointed. He called upon the California Supreme Court to declare the constitutional amendment unconstitutional... which I think might be a first:

Reporting from Sacramento and Lake Forest -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sunday expressed hope that the California Supreme Court would overturn Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that outlawed same-sex marriage. He also predicted that the 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who have already wed would not see their marriages nullified by the initiative.

"It's unfortunate, obviously, but it's not the end," Schwarzenegger said in an interview Sunday on CNN. "I think that we will again maybe undo that, if the court is willing to do that, and then move forward from there and again lead in that area."

The theory, evidently, is that an amendment to the constitution is unconstitutional if it conflicts with any previously adopted section of the constitution... including whatever section it amends! If you follow this reasoning, it means that no constitution can ever be amended, except to add new rights that never previously existed. (For example, the Twenty-First Amendment is "unconstitutional" because it repeals the Eighteenth Amendment allowing the prohibition of alcohol.)

Schwarzenegger is very politically savvy; given that Proposition 8 passed handily, primarily due to the votes of Hispanics and blacks, isn't it a rather peculiar flip-flop for Schwarzenegger to undertake? What in the world is going on here?

All right, I said I would tell you what he's doing; here we go. There are a few California facts you must bear in mind:

  1. California has term limits for governor, and Arnold Schwarzenegger must leave office following the 2010 election. He still has aspirations for national elective office, however.
  2. At the same time, longtime Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA, 90%) has been dropping hints all over the place that she plans to run for governor in 2010, when she wouldn't have to face the Schwarzenegger juggernaut. (Her term doesn't expire until 2012, but as governor, she could appoint her successor -- as Gov. Pete Wilson did following the 1990 gubernatorial election.)
  3. Here's where it gets interesting... if Feinstein is vacating her seat to run for governor, and Schwarzenegger is vacating his seat because of term limits, then it makes perfect sense for each of them to grab for the other's seat. It's the best chance for both of them to strike for an open seat, rather than trying to knock off a longstanding and popular incumbent.
  4. But there's a problem: The Republican brand is at a pretty low ebb in California right now. And in any event, Feinstein is certainly not going to appoint a Republican to replace her.

So my prediction is this: Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to switch parties and then run for Dianne Feinstein's Senate seat in 2012; he might even lobby her to appoint him in her place, if he agrees to caucus with the Democrats for the first two years. Then he would endorse her and campaign for her as governor.

Even if she won't appoint him, he will still have a very good shot at winning in 2012, since whoever replaces her will not have the name-recognition and built-in base that Feinstein enjoys.

Now, it would be ludicrous for Schwarzenegger to switch from Republican to Democrat immediately after campaigning for the GOP nominee for president; so my prediction is actually that he will switch parties to independent after he leaves office, then run for the Senate two years later -- either as the incumbent, if Feinstein appoints him, or as the challenger of an unelected appointee.

Eventually however, probably after the 2012 election, I believe Schwarzenegger will caucus with the Republicans; he will become our Joe Lieberman.

The change in his stance on SSM, then, can be seen as an "olive branch" to the left-leaning independents and moderate Democrats in this state. He assumes he'll retain most of his Republican base anyway; after all, they know he's been a liberal Republican (on social issues) for a long time -- no surprise there.

So I predict that Arnold Schwarzenegger will switch to independent and run for Dianne Feinstein's Senate seat. Just remember, you read it here first!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 10, 2008, at the time of 4:09 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 8, 2008

Conservatives: Obama's Secret Army

Elections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

According to the Ass. Press:

Democrats made up 39 percent of the electorate and Republicans 32 percent in a national exit poll for The Associated Press and television networks. That left the share of voters considering themselves members of the GOP lower than in any presidential election since 1980 and was a sharp contrast with the 37-37 split between the two parties in the 2004 election.

But there was virtually no change in the ideological spectrum: This year 22 percent called themselves liberal, compared with 21 percent in 2004; 44 percent moderate, compared with 45 percent; and 34 percent conservative, same as four years ago....

Then again, some voters can't be pigeonholed by ideology. For instance, one in five self-described conservatives voted for Obama. One in 10 liberals voted for Republican John McCain.

Let's hop aboard my Syllogismobile and go for a ride...

  1. 34% of voters called themselves "conservatives."
  2. Of that 34%, 20% voted for Barack H. Obama; that means 6.8% of the electorate both called themselves conservatives and also voted for Obama. (Would that include Christopher Buckley and his ilk?)
  3. Contrariwise, only 10% of self-dubbed liberals voted for John S. McCain. Conservatives defected at twice the rate of liberals.
  4. Suppose, just for a giggle, conservatives had only voted for Obama at the same percentage that liberals voted for McCain... in other words, that conservatives were no more likely to defect than liberals. In that case, half of the conservative defectors would have remained loyal, and 3.4% of votes would shift from Obama to McCain.
  5. According to the most recent quasi-official unofficial tally, the popular tallies for the two nominees were 52.6% for Obama and 46.1% for McCain.
  6. Switching 3.4% from left to right yields 49.2% for Obama and 49.5% for McCain. (Note McCain number higher than Obama number.)
  7. Conclusion: Had conservatives defected at the same rate as liberals, instead of twice the rate, then John McCain would have won this election.

Thanks, guys!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 8, 2008, at the time of 4:36 AM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

November 7, 2008

The Great Leap Forward: How the Heck Can We Win Anyway?

Elections , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

It's a serious question: If a candidate like John S. McCain can be beaten by an empty suit with no experience spouting policies that "seem vague but are in fact meaningless," then what the heck are we supposed to do in order to win next time?

Surprisingly enough, I'll tell you what we should do. So there.

What's past...

In this election, each side did a great job of turning out their partisans: CNN's exit polling shows that McCain got 90% of the GOP vote, while Barack H. Obama got 89% of the Democratic vote. But Obama surged among independents by 8%, 52 to 44 for McCain. As far as ideology, Obama did somewhat better among liberals (89%) than McCain did among conservatives (78%); but again, it was the moderates that really killed McCain's chances, giving Obama a 21-point advantage, 60-39.

Clearly, Republicans are not able to appeal to independents merely by running "centrists"; it didn't work with McCain, George W. Bush, Blob Dole, nor George H.W. Bush. The last time Republicans won the nonaligned vote was with Ronald Reagan (remember those "Reagan Democrats" and "neoconservatives?") -- but Reagan was certainly not a moderate.

But on the other hand, running a staunch conservative is no guarantee of success, either, as President Barry Goldwater can attest.

Perpetual guest blogger DRJ at Patterico's Pontifications has an interesting take; I think she is correct but too specific... her thesis can be broadened a bit. She argues that what doomed McCain's candidacy was that he never presented (or even developed) a comprehensive economic policy with, one presumes, an overarching philosophy. Obama did -- however vague it was -- and that made all the difference on the issue of the economy... which turned out to be the only issue that mattered in this election.

But let's broaden this out a bit. It doesn't matter even if a candidate has a comprehensive economic policy, if he's unable to communicate it effectively to voters. And everything said about McCain's inability to communicate a comprehensive economic policy (whether or not he had one) can also be said about his inability to communicate a comprehensive policy on energy (drill everywhere -- except ANWR"), on climate change (his "drill, baby, drill" motto conflicts with his insistance that globaloney is real and the most urgent problem we face), on the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis (fight the war with everything we have -- but don't harshly interrogate captured terrorists, don't hold military tribunals, close Guantanamo Bay, and release the prisoners), on immigration (he argued for a process to allow eventual legalization of illegal aliens but never explained how that helps the American economy or national security).

I believe that all of those cases could have been made. Some would have required McCain to change some of his policies:

  • Coming up to date about the new evidence casting much doubt upon anthropogenic global climate change;
  • Admitting that oil can be drilled from ANWR without damaging the environment;
  • Dropping or at least mitigating his objections to harsh interrogation techniques and agreeing that terrorist combatants should not receive civilian trials alongside carjackers and check kiters.

But other cases could have been made by more effectively explaining the very positions he already held: for example, the benefit to our economy and even our national security by immigration reform and a process of legalization of those here illegally. But the fact is that John McCain never really made any of those arguments; in some instances, such as energy and immigration, he didn't even try.

...Is prologue

He never even really articulated a long-term plan for resolving the financial meltdown, nor for dealing with the real root causes -- the "money for nothing" syndrome so evident not only in subprime lending but also in the Social Security and Medicare boondoggles. McCain really needed to tie everything together under a few simple precepts:

  • Money has to come from somewhere. Ultimately, every dollar spent comes from your pockets. That doesn't mean we shouldn't spend anything; but it does mean we must be honest about how we're going to pay for things we like... including retirement programs; medical programs for senior citizens, veterans, and the poor; and rescuing American citizens from the folly of Wall Street bankers.

    We must cut expenses, or America is going to go bankrupt. And that means finding a better way to fund Social Security (privatize), reforming and revamping Medicare and other medical entitlement programs (ownership, portability, innovation, defined contribution, MSAs), and being more careful about how we inject liquidity into the mortgage market (lending rather than letting government buy -- partially nationalize -- the banking industry).

  • Energy is not "free" either; all of the electricity, gasoline, and natural gas that we use to power our society comes at the expense, to some extent, of the environment. The only way to prevent 100% of all environmental damage would be to smash all the technology and go back to the way people lived in the Dark Ages.

    We cannot power our country on biomass, solar cells, and wind; but they can help somewhat in the margins, and we should pursue them, so long as it's not too expensive. That said, we must strike a balance between the environment, which we all need and which we all want to be able to enjoy, and the raw energy we need to live, work, and prosper. My administration will pursue every, last method of producing energy, but we'll do so in as environmentally friendly a way as practicable. Sometimes that will mean less energy and more wilderness; but other times that must mean less wilderness for more energy.

  • Immigration also requires a delicate balance: On the one hand, we must control our borders; that's the primary duty of any country. But on the other hand, we cannot allow a population in the millions that lives inside our borders -- but as outsiders to society. On the third hand, we haven't the means to round them up and deport them... and it would kill our economy, which has come to rely upon lower-wage workers in many areas.

    The solution is an overarching policy that America is for those of any nationality who have American values: We should only admit immigrants who plan to become citizens... and only immigrants who are willing to assimilate and Americanize. No "guest workers," no hordes of immigrants who want to turn the United States into a carbon copy of whatever country they left behind. But no immigrant who truly wants to become an American should be rejected arbitrarily or without being told why, and what he can do to qualify next time.

President Who?

I believe that the next Republican nominee for president must himself have a comprehensive and consistent set of policies, driven by an optimistic and truly American overall philosophy:

  • One that can easily be explained to people (the philosophy, not necessarily each individual policy);
  • Whose pieces should all fit together;
  • And the whole of which, while small-c conservative and big-C Capitalist, should be neither rigid nor inflexible, nor seem censorious, dour, defeatist, or gloomy.

Nor should it be some airy-fairy fantasy about getting everything for nothing when "the world all comes together as one." We need realism, optimism, consistency, and an overall guiding philosophy... coupled with the ability to fully and effectively articulate this vision to the entire country.

That is what Ronald Reagan offered, but not a single Republican nominee since then has even attempted. Instead, except for 1988, Republicans have tried to negotiate the presidency. (In 1988, George Herbert Walker Bush simply coasted into la Casa Blanca by sheer momentum of the Reaganism that he personally despised).

We keep trying to put together a coalition of special interests (military hawks, deficit hawks, entrepeneurs, free-traders, libertarians, and social conservatives), then pick one from Column A, two from Column B, and so forth. This has usually worked, but it's not reliable -- as we just saw, where a decent, intelligent man of substance by beaten by a shiny, rainbow-colored soap bubble.

I think what I'm saying is that we need to nominate a great communicator and leader, not a great compromiser; not a nominee designed to appeal to just enough members of each interest group to hold the coalition together. There's a saying that a camel is a horse designed by committee; since our last strong horse in 1980, we've nominated nothing but camels, camels, camels, all the way down.

I also agree that we should look beyond the "usual gang of idiots" to candidates outside the D.C. beltway. Sarah Palin was a great choice precisely because she was the governor of an important state that was about as far away from the District of Columbia as possible (Hawaii is too liberal). Her problem was twofold: She was too recently elected, and the McCain camp did not let Sarah Barracuda be herself; they tried to micromanage her into a John McCain "mini-me." The electorate had never heard of her before the nomination, and many moderates and independents were furious that an "inexperienced" and "out of her depth" "lightweight" was put into such an important role.

The McCain campaign really blew the roll-out; but that shouldn't hurt Palin herself in 2012, provided she follows my advice below.

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is also a strong contender... another "beltway outsider" with real experience governing. But we could look even further afield. How about Gen. David Petraeus? If it turns out that he has a comprehensive and consistent overarching philosophy of government that fits within the GOP orbit (which I strongly suspect to be true), he might be a fantastic candidate. We already know he's a wonderful communicator.

President -- how?

But whoever is the nominee should make it clear very soon now -- no more than a year from today -- that he (or she) is going to run for president. Then he should barnstorm the country, talking to anyone and everyone: from the Elks and Masons, to the local councils of La Raza, to NRA chapters, to businesses large and small, to campus groups -- lots and lots of campus groups! -- to various forums to which women voters pay attention, to organizations of black businessmen, to churches, synogogues, and mosques, and so forth. It doesn't matter if the group agrees or disagrees with the future candidate's policies; what matters is that he makes it clear that they matter to him.

And I have one final suggestion: When the campaign starts in earnest, I want this candidate to refuse to participate in mass "debates." Instead, he should challenge every other major candidate to a one-on-one debate... and offer to pay for it.

Any opponent who refuses should be mercilessly mocked for being afraid to face the candidate. These mass "debate" events are monkey debates; they're not really debates at all but just collective press conferences. The one-on-ones that our candidate offers would be real debates, a town-hall format where, besides questions from the audience, each candidate also puts questions to his opponent.

I think voters would find this format far more interesting, stimulating, even exciting, than the warmed over mashed potatoes we get nowadays. And it would also play to the strengths of the outsider candidate, rather than consummate insiders like John McCain, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden.

In other words, a presidential election is a nonviolent war, where the stake is leadership of the free world; for God's sake, can't we plan the next one with the same intensity that we would plan a military campaign?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 7, 2008, at the time of 8:33 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

November 3, 2008

A Different Kind of Unity

Elections , Liberal Lunacy , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dave Ross

As the country collectively gets ready to point a gun barrel into the roof of its mouth and pull the trigger, it’s interesting to reflect that for most of the two years that Barack Obama has been running for president, his main theme is that he is the kind of guy who can bring us all together in love and unity.

Increasingly it is becoming clear that the Obama formula for unity is to silence those who disagree with him as much as possible -- or else to make sure that those on a soapbox aren’t able to shout their messages very far.

It never was particularly believable to begin with, given that roughly half of the country is going to object to a straight socialistic program that isn’t really different in any signficant degree from the left-wing programs that the Demcoratic party has been banging the drum on for many decades.
It’s just that this time, the country as a whole is allowing its deep disgust with the Republicans to translate into turning over the reins to what will, at best, be an extremely liberal program.

There’s certainly going to be as many people on the right objecting to Obama’s left-wing program as there were vocal left-wingers who objected to George W. Bush’s programs. Remember, Bush was supposed to be the president who was going to bring us together and be bipartisan.

Or going back even farther in history, here’s a statement that Richard Nixon made right after his 1968 win over Hubert Humphrey: “I saw many signs in this campaign. Some of them were not friendly. Some were very friendly. But the one that touched me the most was -- a teenager held up the sign ‘bring us together.’ And that will be the great objective of this administration, at the outset, to bring the American people together.”

Bring us together might acquire a similar meaning under Obama. Bring us together -- forcefully, might be more what we’re talking about. Kind of makes you wonder what Obama is thinking when he calls for a “civilian national security force,” as he did in a recent speech.

Now, that could be something perfectly innocuous, like a beefed up CERT force, funded with federal dollars and ready to help with emergencies like Hurricane Katrina; but it does set the suspicious mind ruminating.

I’m not one of those people who, when Bill Clinton was president, predicted darkly, “when it comes time for his term to end, he’ll find some excuse not to have an election,” because I know that our republic is strong enough that if a president were fruity enough to try that, he would not be obeyed.
When Congress returns to do its work under the new president, it will be interesting to see just how many of the liberals in the chamber will be true to the liberal tradition of supporting freedom of speech.

Conservatives expect -- because liberals have been pretty open about it, that there will be a strong attempt to bring back the Orwellian “fairness doctrine,” which is about as fair as infanticide is “pro life.” The purpose of regulating the airwaves in this way is to return all major media to their proper orientation, i.e. towards the Left.

Talk radio will not go quietly into that good night. And given that talk radio hosts helped orchestrate the defeat of “comprehensive immigration reform” last year, the Democrats may wish that they had done something less painful, such as stepped naked into a nest of rattlesnakes.

Still, if they have the 60 seat majority in the senate, they may be able to force it through.

That wouldn’t shut down Rush Limbaugh and company, although it might force them into exile on Satellite and Internet radio.

Once again, is a battle of this kind what Obama has in mind when he talks about bringing us all together in unity and brotherhood?

This willingness to trash freedom of expression isn’t confined to the leaders of the Democratic party. The rank and file, when polled are quite comfortable with it, especially when it is pointed out that a reimposition of the doctrine will drive shows like Limbaugh and Sean Hannity off the air.

“Bring it on!” the Left seems to be saying.

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, November 3, 2008, at the time of 7:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 22, 2008

Do You Really Think Obama Will Get That "15% Bounce?"

Elections , Predictions , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

That's what Huge Hewgitt said today, echoing what Fred Barnes said yesterday and the McCain campaign has been pushing for a week or so now. But I think it's nonsense on stilts.

Why do candidates traditionally get a bounce from their parties' conventions? Because until then, they've barely been seen by ordinary (non-activist) voters; they've popped up in occasional televised clips from some speech on the nightly news, in a campaign ad, maybe a newspaper interview. In ordinary elections, the convention is the first time that a whopping, huge segment of voters actually tunes in to see what the candidate is all about: Thus, many of them form their first impressions during or after the convention.

If the candidate has anything at all going for him, he gets a bit bounce, as people say, "So that's who he is! Nice feller." Of course sometimes, the reaction is, "So that's who he is -- what a pompous jackass!" Then you have the Kerry Phenomenon... a 1-point "bounce" in the polls (otherwise known as a 1-point dull, sickening thud).

But season we've seen wall-to-wall coverage of every last prophetic revelation by the One. The TV and radio stations follow him around with cameras and microphones, and they broadcast every utterance that trickles from his lips.

Breathes there a man or woman in America today who hasn't had his brain saturated, even oversaturated, with lashings of Barack H. Obama for the last twelvemonth? We've all been force-fed his vapid speeches, his cheap audacity, his empty-suited hope. Everybody knows virtually everything about the man -- and many of them are already annoyed at his grandiosity, his hyperinflated self-esteem -- "We are the Ones that we have been waiting for," sooth! -- and his ludicrous pretensions and self-delusions:

Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that, generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war, and secured our nation, and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth!

Who in this last, best hope on Earth -- apart from those actively working on his campaign, who are probably already in his corner -- is burning with curiosity to see Obama give a speech? How many more are burning with exasperation that they can't hardly swing a dead cat without hitting Obama making yet another speech carried live by all eighteen networks? Who besides yellow-dog Democrats is going to breathlessly tune in to the Democratic National Convention from Monday through Thursday to be transported across Elysian fields by the transcendent rhetoric of Senator B.O.?

I have a feeling this is going to be a very disappointing "bounce" for the Democrats this year, just as I (correctly) predicted the same for 2004. I think Obama's bounce is going to be no more than a jumping flea... say, 5% at most; and it will be gone by the time the GOP convention begins on September 1st, just four days after the Democratic convention ends.

Contrariwise, a lot fewer people know anything about John S. McCain, other than the disrespectful and risible caricature pushed by the elite media and by Obama himself in campaign ads. I suspect that a lot more truly undecided voters will watch the Republican National Convention, many of them moderate Republicans, independents, and even moderate Democrats; and they will come away much more favorably impressed by McCain than they were beforehand. Therefore, McCain will get a bigger bounce from the GOP convention than will Obama from the Democratic convention.

Who's with me on this? Do you all think this is going to be a blowout bounce for Barack?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 22, 2008, at the time of 6:55 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

August 20, 2008

The McCainville Nine-Pointer

Elections , Predictions , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Back in June, I wrote a post, Obama Campaign More or Less Concedes Ohio and Florida to McCain, in which I finished with an obscure reference that I think needs amplification:

All in all, I believe McCain has many more paths to victory than does Obama; and I also believe that if John McCain will finally take off the gloves and start fighting Obama in the center, this will not even be a close race:

  • McCain can make an excellent start by aggressively pushing to drill for oil everywhere that he has not already taken off the table -- which only includes the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the actual coastal waters of states that reject drilling.

    That still leaves the outer continental shelf on both oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, the Bakken shale-oil formation, and other shale-oil sites. He can also push for liquification of coal, natural gas, and continue his quest for more gasoline refineries and nuclear power plants... "Drill here, drill now, pay less." Surveys show that Americans now strongly favor drilling, drilling, and more drilling;

  • He can aggressively pursue a constitutional amendment to undo the horrible Supreme-Court decision last week in Boumediene and dare Obama and the Democrats to oppose it: "Obama and his Democratic friends think foreign terrorists fighting America deserve more rights than our own soldiers," he can argue;
  • He can hammer Obama on the staggering taxes he plans to raise, on Obama's complete indifference to gasoline prices, his refusal to visit Iraq or meet with Gen. Petraeus before yanking the troops out, his wildly liberal stances on abortion, same-sex marriage, and guns, and his complete ignorance of how most people in the United States live and worship;
  • And he can tie Obama more directly to the latter's prediction that the counterinsurgency strategy would be a complete failure and disaster: If we had followed Obama's strategy, we would have withdrawn from Iraq in defeat. Fortunately, we followed McCain's judgment... and we have pretty much won, with some mopping up left to do.

...

If McCain gets ahead of the power curve on the issues listed above, I believe this will be a 9-point election... and we won't have to worry about this or that little state: McCain will take many states that Kerry held last election.

So what do I mean by a "9-point election?" I don't literally predict that John S. McCain will win by exactly nine points; a "9-pointer" is like a "quarter pounder": It's just a name, not a precision measurement.

But I do mean that I conditionally predicted -- and since the condition has by and large been met, I now turn this into a full-scale prediction -- that McCain is going to win this presidential election by a fairly substantial margin: More than 6% nationwide and around 350 electoral votes. Maybe more.

In the entire twentieth century, how many presidents were elected by less than 5%? Only four, I believe: Woodrow Wilson in 1916, John F. Kennedy in 1960, Richard Nixon in 1968, and Jimmy Carter in 1976. There were, of course, 25 presidential elections from 1900 through 1996 (I cut it off there, not at 2000, because the 2000 election was for a term that began in the 21st century) -- so 16% of 20th-century elections were really close.

And then, 24 years after the Carter election, we had back to back "really close elections" in 2000 and again in 2004. It's not normal to have such close elections, and I don't believe we'll see one in 2008; so the only question is who ends up on top.

For a number of reasons -- none related to polling, though that too is starting to confirm my sense of flow -- I do not believe that Barack H. Obama is about to surge. In fact, I believe he already peaked, and it will be John S. McCain who surges right into the White House. Putting A and B together to get 4, I believe that McCain will win the election by more than 5%.

But in fact, Obama is a particularly bad candidate who is woefully underperforming the "generic Democrat," while McCain is very much outperforming the "generic Republican." So I'm giving him that extra edge: If I must pick a number, I'll say he wins by 7% over Obama, or 52.5% to 45.5%, with 2% going to other candidates.

That isn't a landslide, by the way; Ronald Reagan beat Carter by almost 10% and Mondale by more than 18%. Still, 7% is a substantial win with no wiggle room for Democrats to cheat or sue their way into the White House... and so decisive that they cannot even whine about it. (Well, maybe that's going too far.)

That big a win translates into a lot of close states going to McCain -- Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and many others; the Electoral College tends to magnify victory. So I predict 350 electoral votes for McCain, leaving 188 for Obama. (As a subsidiary forecast, I prognosticate that Larry Sabato's "Crystal Ball" will prophesy that Obama will win... until about a week before the election, at which point Sabato will abruptly reverse himself, jumping aboard the gravy wagon.)

Also, a substantial win in the presidential race should translate into a number of victories in the congressional races; we'll likely still lose some seats, but it won't be anywhere near the debacle that "pundants" are predicting today.

I'm staking my claim now, once again cutting against the conventional wisdom. I'm often right -- as when I predicted more than a year and a half ago that Hillary Clinton would not be the Democratic nominee; but I have certainly been wrong, as I was about the 2006 elections, when I failed to take into account the GOP's astonishing talent at self immolation.

We'll see. At the moment, I think I'm the only person predicting a "9-pointer." Even the McCain campaign is saying it will be razor-close... though I think they're just playing the expectations game. So write this day in your diary, as it will either mark the point at which the Lizard demonstrated his political prescience... or the day he went off the rails on the crazy train!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 20, 2008, at the time of 6:29 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

August 5, 2008

An Army of Apathetics: Registration Legislation and Nonvoters

Elections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

The Democratic National Committee has found a "new" crusade -- that hardy, hoary perennial: voter registration of traditionally Democratic constituencies, such as blacks, Hispanics, unmarried mothers, and the homeless.

By targeting such "potential voters," notes the Wall Street Journal, groups such as ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), the National Council of La Raza ("the race"), the Urban League, and other partisan shills masquerading as civic-minded community organizers hope to pack the Senate with a filibuster-proof majority, the House with a conscience-proof majority, and propel fellow "community organizer" Barack H. Obama into the White House... all to usher in a new era of government of the downtrodden, for the downtrodden, and by -- the anointed elite.

They plan to register an additional 1.2 million welfaristas, felons, and bums before the November election; the Times jubilantly announces that the efforts have borne much fruit, reporting a shift in voter registration towards the Democrats in many states since 2005:

Well before Senators Barack Obama and John McCain rose to the top of their parties, a partisan shift was under way at the local and state level. For more than three years starting in 2005, there has been a reduction in the number of voters who register with the Republican Party and a rise among voters who affiliate with Democrats and, almost as often, with no party at all....

In six states, including Iowa, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, the Democratic piece of the registration pie grew more than three percentage points, while the Republican share declined. In only three states — Kentucky, Louisiana and Oklahoma — did Republican registration rise while Democratic registration fell, but the Republican increase was less than a percentage point in Kentucky and Oklahoma. Louisiana was the only state to register a gain of more than one percentage point for Republicans as Democratic numbers declined.

But what the Times doesn't see fit to print -- not until "after the jump," on page 2 of the story -- is that the shift away from Republicans nearly all comprises a shift not to Democrats but to "unaffiliated":

In the 26 states and the District of Columbia where registration data were available, the total number of registered Democrats increased by 214,656, while the number of Republicans fell by 1,407,971.

Thus, at most, 15% of Republicans who reregistered became Democrats; the other 85% changed to independent, unaffiliated, or some minor party. There is no significant trend towards the Democrats; more likely, reregistration is a protest aimed at the "spend everything and then some" Republicans, who controlled Congress prior to the 2006 elections.

Here is the biggest problem with the chimera of registration drives: It is so easy to register today -- with registration booths at supermarkets, post offices, malls, churches, missions, flophouses, schools, and street corners, let alone the near-automatic registration schemes like "motor-voter" -- that one almost has to consciously reject voting to remain unregistered. Thus, those people still not registered are disproportionately those who have simply dropped out of civic society.

They have dropped out, not because Bull-Connor Republicans are using whips and firehoses to prevent blacks, Hispanics, and bums from registering, but because those particular people are simply apathetic about voting. Thus, just because you register them doesn't mean they're any more likely to vote in November.

It's well known that voter turnout in the United States (unlike countries that compel voting) centers around 50%. Some localities have much higher turnout each election cycle; but in every election, a very large percentage of registered voters don't vote.

I don't think it's a stretch to posit that those qualified adults who remain unregistered until someone form ACORN rushes up to them, pushes a registration form at them, and tells them that if they sign it, they'll get money for housing... are precisely those newly registered apathetics who will not bother to vote on election day.

Why turn to something nebulous and impossible to measure like turnout among the newly registered, when there is a much simpler explanation for the 2006 GOP losses? Voters were turned off by the GOP they saw running the 109th Congress -- the Republicans of earmarks, drunken spending sprees, and Mark Foley.

But this election is about a different GOP, one that is now more in touch with the electorate than the Democrats; now the Democrats are seen as a "culture of corruption" and as wild spenders, ineffectual and inept, aristocratic, unconcerned, and aloof. It's the "Marie-Antoinette Democrats," as Hugh Hewitt now calls them, who won't do anything (or anything good, at least) about energy woes, taxes, the Iraq war, small business, or the economy in general. And there is no reason to believe that a "massive" increase in Democratic party registration (all of 3%!) presages a wholesale shift to liberalism on the part of the electorate.

In fact, the Times itself admits that one reason Democrats are doing better is that they are running candidates who are, on paper, more conservative... winning candidates like Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA, 85%) and Gov. Tim Kaine, also of Virginia. Webb ran as more conservative than incumbent Sen. George Allen... and even so, it took the "Macaca" gaffe to give Webb the narrowest of victories. And Kaine calls himself personally anti-abortion, he supports a ban on partial-birth abortion (with the Kerry exception, of course), gun rights, and is fiscally centrist.

And now Webb votes 85% of the time with the hard-liberal Americans for Democratic Action. I don't know how he would fare if he had to run for reelection this year, but he's going to have a lot of splainin' to do in 2012. And both Webb and Kaine endorse and campaign for leftist Barack Obama.

Here is another way to look at the question: If registration is such a big determinant, why is Barack H. Obama dropping and John S. McCain rising in the polls?

It's not just the horserace aspect: Look at the internals of the Rasmussen daily tracking poll, which has the candidates tied. The incredibly useful section they call "by the numbers" reports polling on specific issues and character questions:

Of the major issues, Obama is statistically ahead of McCain (outside the margin of error) only on three:

  • Environment - Obama + 8
  • Health care - Obama + 5
  • Education - Obama + 4 (right on the edge of the margin)

In none of these three issues -- typically Democratic issues -- does Obama even top 50%.

But McCain beats Obama on eight major issues, with two over 50% (in blue):

  • Iraq policy - McCain + 12
  • Immigration - McCain + 9
  • National Security - McCain + 8
  • Taxes - McCain + 7
  • Social Security - McCain + 6
  • Abortion - McCain + 6
  • Negotiating trade agreements - McCain + 5
  • Energy - McCain + 4

The candidates are tied (within the margin) on the economy, ethics, and who can better balance the federal budget. This is vastly better than McCain was doing against Obama just a month ago, when the tracking poll had him 5-6 points behind Obama and losing on most of the issues.

We see a similar pattern on character issues:

  • Who would be the better leader? McCain by 6 points;
  • Who will raise government spending more? Obama by 21 points;
  • Who will raise taxes more? Obama by 23 points;

And some really interesting ones... 27% see McCain as too old to be president, but 41% see Obama as too inexperienced. And respondents see McCain as believing in the fundamental fairness of our society by 70% to 15%... but they're split on the Democrat, with 43% saying Obama believes American society is fundamentally fair, while a plurality of 46% says he believes our society is fundamentally unfair.

Since the American people themselves believe our society is fundamentally fair by about 75% to 25%, that puts Obama on the wrong side by a whopping margin. Again, all these numbers were much worse for John McCain a month or two ago -- despite the fact that this massive registration drive has proceeded apace, and the gap between the number of Democrat and the number of Republicans is not narrowing significantly... whether you measure by actual registration, as the Times evidently did, or by voter perception of their party affiliation, as Rasmussen does.

On a nutshell, in recent elections, the number of registered voters in each party does not appear to correlate to that party's fortunes in the election. I suspect that earlier models that showed close tracking were based upon the correspondingly earlier registration rules, when it actually took some effort on the voter's part to get registered; this meant that back then, a registered voter was much more likely to be politically aware and active, hence more likely to vote. Since motor-voter especially, I believe voter turnout has been lower... as groups like La Raza and ACORN are registering a great many apathetics who simply don't turn out and vote anyway.

So worry not and pay no attention to voter-registration drives among society's dregs; that's not going to have any significant effect on future elections. But what will have a very great effect are the policies and legislation enacted by the two parties... and the campaigns they craft based upon those actual facts on the ground. On that playing field, the GOP is doing much better indeed than in 2006.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 5, 2008, at the time of 7:32 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 16, 2008

Obama Campaign More or Less Concedes Ohio and Florida to McCain

Elections , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

In a telling and fairly stunning series of conversations, Barack H. Obama's campaign mangler, David Plouffe, has been telling "donors and former supporters of Hillary Rodham Clinton" that Obama can win without siezing either Ohio or Florida from the Republicans. Their new strategy hinges on capturing Virginia (13 electoral votes) or Georgia (15):

"You have a lot of ways to get to 270," Plouffe said. "Our goal is not to be reliant on one state on November 4th."

Plouffe has been pitching such a new approach to the electoral map in calls and meetings, according to several people who discussed the conversations on the condition of anonymity because they were meant to be private. Plouffe confirmed the descriptions in the interview.

Plouffe and his aides are weighing where to contest, and where chances are too slim to marshal a large effort. A win in Virginia (13 electoral votes) or Georgia (15 votes) could give Obama a shot if he, like Kerry, loses Ohio or Florida.

In 2004, George W. Bush beat John Kerry by 34 electoral votes (286 to 252); so Obama would have to flip at least 18 electoral votes to win cleanly, 270 to 268. If he flips exactly 17, the race goes to the House of Representatives -- which votes by delegation, one vote per state; Republicans currently control 21 state delegations, the Democrats control 27, and 2 are split; Obama would be almost certain to win if the candidates tie 269-269. Therefore, Obama must win a net 17 electoral votes worth of states that George W. Bush won in 2004 to take the election.

Flipping either Florida or Ohio would do the trick, but only if John McCain is unable to capture any of the states that went to John Kerry in 2004 -- a very big "if." Plouffe, however, appears to be skeptical that either of those states will flip: He calls them "competitive," but plans for victory without them -- a dead giveaway. As well, there really are several "blue" states ripe for the picking by McCain:

The presumed Democratic nominee's electoral math counts on holding onto the states Kerry won, among them Michigan (17 electoral votes), where Obama campaigns on Monday and Tuesday. Plouffe said most of the Kerry states should be reliable for Obama, but three currently look relatively competitive with Republican rival John McCain - Pennsylvania [21], Michigan and particularly New Hampshire [4].

Neither Virginia nor Georgia by itself would do the trick for Obama, since he needs to flip 17. Indeed, Plouffe is also eyeballing Colorado (9), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), Montana (3), Alaska (3), and North Dakota (3). But if McCain is running well in the center, these states will be very hard to steal from the GOP.

If McCain flips either Michigan (which went for Kerry by a scant 4%) or Pennsylvania (for Kerry by 2.5%), the race is probably over: Obama would have to flip Virginia, Georgia, and several other states -- a very unlikely scenario.

In his Southern strategy, Plouffe is relying on turning out new black voters to knock off one or more Dixie states:

The key, Plouffe told supporters, will be to register new black voters and new young voters in Virginia.

Likewise, Georgia has many unregistered black voters who could turn out in record numbers to support the first major-party nominee who is black, he argued. Plouffe said the campaign also will keep an eye on Mississippi and Louisiana as the race moves into the fall to see if new black voters could put them within reach.

But of course, the very quality of the nominee that would make him attractive to black voters in the South -- being an ultra-liberal senator who uses his race as a major campaign draw -- makes him correspondingly unattractive to white Southern voters, who will remember his deep connections to Jeremiah Wright and other black activist, anti-white demagogues.

All in all, I believe McCain has many more paths to victory than does Obama; and I also believe that if John McCain will finally take off the gloves and start fighting Obama in the center, this will not even be a close race:

  • McCain can make an excellent start by aggressively pushing to drill for oil everywhere that he has not already taken off the table -- which only includes the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the actual coastal waters of states that reject drilling.

    That still leaves the outer continental shelf on both oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, the Bakken shale-oil formation, and other shale-oil sites. He can also push for liquification of coal, natural gas, and continue his quest for more gasoline refineries and nuclear power plants... "Drill here, drill now, pay less." Surveys show that Americans now strongly favor drilling, drilling, and more drilling;

  • He can aggressively pursue a constitutional amendment to undo the horrible Supreme-Court decision last week in Boumediene and dare Obama and the Democrats to oppose it: "Obama and his Democratic friends think foreign terrorists fighting America deserve more rights than our own soldiers," he can argue;
  • He can hammer Obama on the staggering taxes he plans to raise, on Obama's complete indifference to gasoline prices, his refusal to visit Iraq or meet with Gen. Petraeus before yanking the troops out, his wildly liberal stances on abortion, same-sex marriage, and guns, and his complete ignorance of how most people in the United States live and worship;
  • And he can tie Obama more directly to the latter's prediction that the counterinsurgency strategy would be a complete failure and disaster: If we had followed Obama's strategy, we would have withdrawn from Iraq in defeat. Fortunately, we followed McCain's judgment... and we have pretty much won, with some mopping up left to do.

David Plouffe is right, but not quite the way he imagines, when he says:

"You have a lot of ways to get to 270," Plouffe said. "Our goal is not to be reliant on one state on November 4th."

If McCain gets ahead of the power curve on the issues listed above, I believe this will be a 9-point election... and we won't have to worry about this or that little state: McCain will take many states that Kerry held last election.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 16, 2008, at the time of 3:34 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

May 14, 2008

Mississippi: All Politics Is Loco

Congressional Calamities , Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Democrat Wins by Running for Protectionism

In Mississippi's First congressional district, a special election was just held to replace Rep. Roger Wicker (R-MS, 96%), who was tapped to fill the rest of term of former Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS, 86%). Wicker was a strong conservative who typically won his district with 70% of the vote; in 2004, President Bush won the district by 62-37, and by 59-40 in 2000. Nevertheless, the Democratic candidate, Travis Childers, won yesterday by a relatively narrow 54-46, beating Southaven mayor Greg Davis.

The first question is, Why? Is Mississippi turning liberal? Does this indicate Republicans are going to be slaughtered in 2008?

Not necessarily. First, the Democratic Party was again quite clever in selecting a socially conservative populist for its candidate; Childers is just as anti-abortion and pro-gun as the Republican nominee.

Where they differed was mostly in economic policy: Judging by the campaign "news" that Childers chose to put on his website, his main line of attack against Davis was on the issue of free trade vs. "fair" trade -- that is, protectionism. Childers pummeled Davis over the Colombian Free Trade Agreement... and he demagogued it to death, saying that if it passed, Mississippi jobs would be "exported" to South America:

Travis Childers, the Democratic candidate for Congress in Mississippi's 1st Congressional District, today signed a “No New Trade Deals” pledge outside a closed plant in West Point and stressed the need to stand up for Mississippi's working families by fighting for fair wages and bringing good jobs back to the district.

Childers called on his Republican opponent, Greg Davis, to also pledge not to support new trade deals that unfairly send Mississippi jobs overseas. So far in his campaign, Davis has stayed silent, not denying that he would be a rubberstamp for trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA that are bad for the region.

“Sadly, my opponent, Greg Davis, continues to stay silent on the most important issues we face -- keeping our jobs,” Childers said. “Greg Davis has been silent on trade in the campaign, and so I'm sure he won't stand up for our jobs in Congress.”

“As an economic leader and small businessman who created more than 1,000 new jobs in my community, I will always stand up for the needs of working Mississippi families,” Childers continued. “I have pledged to fight against unfair trade deals that send our jobs overseas and fight for fair wages so the working people of Mississippi can make ends meet.

So why did this work? Why was Childers able to ride opposition to Capitalism into the Capitol? I think we get a clue from the next paragraph in that "news" item:

Davis recently received the support of a business group known for opposing minimum wage increases and has not said how he stands when it comes to trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA. And on Davis 's Web site, he does not focus on trade, jobs or economic development.

In fact, Davis doesn't even mention them! Looking at Greg Davis' own website, under "Issues" -- which you cannot reach directly from the front page; think about that -- here is the totality of what issues Greg Davis stood for in yesterday's runoff election:

Taxes and Spending
Make the Bush tax cuts permanent. Bury the death tax. Restrain spending.

[Probably not the best idea to lead off by mentioning President Bush, but at least this is a specific policy that Davis can defend; the rest of his issues are like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall.]

National Security

Support our armed forces by insuring they have the manpower and equipment to fight and win.

[This is so vague that even Democrats could say it; remember when they complained about body armor and jerry-rigged up-armoring of Humvees?]

Illegal Immigration

Protect the border. Enforce our immigration laws. Require proof of U.S. citizenship to obtain taxpayer-funded benefits.

[Democrat Childers also campaigned on taking a "tough stand to stop illegal immigration into our country."]

Mississippi Values

Defend our values. Support the Second Amendment. Stand up for the unborn.

[Childers is right with Davis on both of these vague issues, along with opposing same-sex marriage.]

Business

Advocating policies that strengthen our economy by focusing on lower taxes, a simpler tax code, fewer regulations, and less government red tape.

[Childers: "Even John McCain said that Congress has been spending like 'drunken sailors.' As someone who has been balancing a family checkbook for years and has run two businesses, this defies all common sense. As Chancery Clerk, I balanced 16 consecutive budgets. As Congressman, I'll fight for balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility."]

So what, exactly, did Republican Greg Davis do to differentiate himself from Democrat Travis Childers? In particular, what was Davis' response on the free-trade/protectionism debate?

With Childers hammering Davis on the issue, Davis desperately needed to campaign up and down the state, correcting Childers' misstatements and fabrications about free-trade agreements and defending in particular the Colombia FTA, which is before Congress at this very moment. But trade doesn't even appear as an "issue" or campaign news item on his website.

In fact, Googling for about a half hour, I couldn't find a single statement by Davis on free trade. This is the central policy attack launched against him by the Democrat, and he's evidently barely responding. This is surreal.

So what "issue" did Greg Davis run on? Oh, a huge one for Mississippi (dripping irony alert):

Davis, the mayor of Southaven, launched a new TV ad this week linking Childers with Obama and Wright.

The ad blasts the Prentiss County chancery clerk for his silence when Wright "cursed America, blaming us for 9/11...

"Travis Childers - he took Obama's endorsement over our conservative values," the ad concludes. "Conservatives can't trust Travis Childers."

(Alas, as it turns out, Davis was likewise silent about Jeremiah Wright, a fact which Childers gleefully pointed out, of course. Home run for the Democrats.)

Longtime Democratic Speaker of the House Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill was fond of saying "All politics is local;" he meant that in the end, at least in House elections, people tend to vote not on grand national issue but on local issues: city streets and county roads, public transportation, local businesses, sales and property taxes, and so forth.

There are seeming exceptions, such as the 1994 Contract With America; but even then, the contract had to be sold locally in each district. (It was, which is why Republicans swept into power then.) National goals, like requiring a 60% majority in the House to pass a tax increase, had to be brought down to the local level: Each Republican had to show voters how tax increases hurt them more than they helped.

In this case, from what I can tell from 2,000 miles away, Childers was running an entirely local campaign based on bread-and-butter district issues:

  • He attacked free trade by claiming Mississippi-1 would lose jobs;
  • He claimed that Davis was in the pocket of Big Oil and other special interests and argued that this meant higher gas taxes, which he claimed Davis had supported;
  • He claimed that Davis had opposed funding education in the district.

In response, Davis seemed to hang his campaign on linking Childers to ultraliberal Obama and Wright. When has this ever worked? Certainly never when the local pol has never campaigned alongside the national figure and disagrees with him on numerous issues important to the region.

Didn't anybody tell Davis that neither Obama nor Wright was on the ballot in his district? If his entire campaign was to tie Childers to Obama, then he had to do something to prove that Childers was somehow like Obama... he had to find a local issue on which Childers was unacceptably liberal, then pound on it like a beatnik on a bongo.

So what is being done by the National Republican Congressional Committee, the arm of the Republican National Committee that is supposed to recruit and help elect Republican candidates for the House? Evidently nothing: Candidate recruitment is clearly lagging (especially in MS-1!) -- how many Iraq or Afghanistan war vets are running? how many popular political figures? how many experienced administrators? -- and messaging is frankly pathetic.

Here's Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK, 100%), Chairman of the NRCC, from the NYT article linked above:

Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said the party was disappointed and needed to be better prepared to deal with conservative Democratic candidates, but he warned that time is short.

“Voters remain pessimistic about the direction of the country and the Republican Party in general,” Mr. Cole said. “Republicans must undertake bold efforts to define a forward-looking agenda that offers the kind of positive change voters are looking for.”

Yeah; that would be nice.

The NRCC should set up a local task force for every, single endangered GOP congressional district, plus another for each district where the Democratic incumbent is at all shaky. Each task force must determine the major problems in its district, what the voters are most worried about. Then they must craft both policy and messaging that (a) would resolve or at least mitigate the problem, while (b) fitting within the overarching Republican philosophy of trusting individual people, families, and business owners rather than the government.

This is nothing new; in the past, the NRCC has done this very well. But I've seen little to nothing of this sort done for 2008... has anyone seen anything?

Then the NRCC should hook up with (or recruit) GOP candidates in each of these districts and work with them to merge Republican policies and messages with that of the candidate. For example, such a task force in MS-1 would have identified voter fears about free-trade agreements, and it would have developed messages pounding home the fact that Colombia can already sell all its goods here without any tariff... but American companies -- including those in Mississippi -- have tariffs slapped on them when they try to sell American goods in Colombia. And that is what the Colombian FTA would overturn, allowing Americans, even those in Mississippi, to export more products to South America.

They could have worked with Greg Davis to promote job training programs. A campaign could have pointed out that less than 10% of Mississippi jobs are export related, about half the national average. Why should this be?

Together, national and local GOP could have created a hopeful, forward-looking vision: If the state of Mississippi and the counties inside the district were to promote and invest in export industries (chemicals, paper products, and such) by lowering corporate taxes and relaxing some regulations, then with the free-trade agreements already in place, upper Mississippi would start attracting jobs and luring companies to MS-1, not "exporting" jobs and hemorrhaging businesses. They could attract both American-owned companies and also at foreign-owned companies operating in Mississippi.

That is what a local-issues campaign looks like. That is how Davis could have clearly differentiated himself from Childers. He could have presented his bold vision of a reviving and thriving local economy, versus Childers' defeatist holding action, clinging to the old economy because he's so terrified of change. Davis could have brought in more Haley Barbour and Bobby Jindal and less Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, and Jeremiah Wright. And I think he would have won; if not, at least he would set himself up for a rematch in November, if Childers turns out to be more liberal than advertised -- which is probable, as Childers "grows in office." (Like Sen. James Webb, D-VA, who now has an 85% "liberal quotient" from the Americans for Democratic Action for 2007.)

Instead, Davis went for a silly scare campaign that nobody believed (Childers is just Obama in drag!) and squandered a conservative district; and the national Republicans were no real help at all -- not in pushing Davis to enunciate policy differences, and certainly not in messaging. Wonderful job there by the NRCC.

Tom Cole had the last year and a half to "define a forward-looking agenda that offers the kind of positive change voters are looking for.” Now he has less than six months. I think it's time for Rip Van Cole to roll out of his hammock and get on the hump... we've got some heavy-duty campaigning to do.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 14, 2008, at the time of 6:33 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 10, 2008

Who Is the Republican Core Anyway?

Confusticated Conservatives , Elections , Liberal Lunacy , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

In a comment on another post, commenter Caustic Conservative gloomily wondered whence would come the electioneering energy for John McCain:

I still worry about who it is that will be financing the McCain campaign, and manning the phone banks this fall. There is an energy gap to his candidacy--you see it in turnout between R's and D's--that maybe no GOP candidate could overcome this year, but given McCains prior antagonism of his conservative base could be very costly to him.

A McCain fan I know says the cure for this comes in two words: Hillary Clinton. I agree to a certain extent, but I no longer believe her candidacy is even likely at this point. If that is the best argument to get out the vote for McCain in the fall, where do we stand in the end?

Many conservatives seem to have an appalling paucity of imagination. Why do they suppose that the core of any Republican campaign must comprise conservatives? Can they really not imagine any other core Republican voters but themselves?

I know for a fact (because I knew many of them) that in 2000, a great deal of George Bush's army of volunteers were moderates, not conservatives. Remember, Bush ran not as a conservative but a "compassionate conservative," which everybody understood to mean a center-right, big-government Republican who was hawkish on taxes and some social issues (such as abortion), but who was not particularly interested in a conservative foreign policy. (That last changed in September, of course.)

Come to that, I suspect I'm far more of a core Republican than the huge majority of conservatives; yet I'm not a conservative. I actually support the Democrats on many issues; and in the past, I usually voted Democratic. But the Democratic Party has become so toxic on certain subjects I consider existential -- the war against global hirabah, for example, but also taxes, spending, same-sex marriage, energy, globaloney, and in general, their increasing captivity to socialism -- that I cannot vote for any Democrat, anywhere, anytime, until the party changes drastically.

I'll note that in 2004, I remained optimistic and encouraged people to get out and vote and even converted many of my more libertarian friends to being GOP voters -- while at the same time, hard-core conservatives (most of you know who I mean) spent the whole summer predicting utter ruin for the GOP, being roundly pessimistic, and doing their best to depress Republican turnout by saying, in essence, that Bush couldn't possibly win reelection.

With conservatives like that, who needs RINOs? (They came around later in the year; but I was consistent in my optimism and American spirit all year.)

Ever since Reagan in 1980, conservatives (with very bad memories) have flattered themselves that they are the true core of the GOP. I say "bad memories" because it wasn't even true back in 1980: the very term "neocon" originally meant a Democrat who was converted to Republicanism by the candidacy of Ronald Reagan. Remember "Reagan Democrats?" Those were Democrats disgusted by the leftward lurch their party had taken, and especially revolted by the anti-American, feckless, belly-crawling, malaise-spreading surrender monkey, Jimmy Carter, who therefore voted for Ronald Reagan instead. This, by the way, describes many of the people crowing today about their "true core" status.

(I find it particularly surreal when neocons in the original sense like Michael Medved and much of the current dextrosphere -- including many of my favorites -- rail against people like Mitt Romney for being late converts to conservatism.)

As I said earlier in comments to another post, this is a mistake: The "core" of any party comprises all those who always turn out to vote for that party, who campaign for it, and who donate to it. That is the basic definition. In some elections, nearly all of those people called themselves "conservatives." But more commonly, that core group includes both conservatives and other Republicans -- who are just as much the "base" of the party as conservatives.

From 1900 through the entire FDR era (including Truman), the GOP was more what we would today call "country-club conservatives," who had more in common with "limousine liberals" than they did with entrepeneurs, working men, and soldiers. They opposed Roosevelt's economics not on free-market grounds but on the principle of conservation of the wealthy elite; and they certainly didn't have a more aggressive foreign policy than President Roosevelt! Even the William F. Buckley of that era was quite different from the later Bill Buckley, who called himself a libertarian conservative. It was a different universe.

In the Dwight Eisenhower administration, the GOP was quite moderate. Richard Nixon was a committed anti-Communist, but he was never a conservative; that's why the election of 1960 was a dead heat: There wasn't a dime's worth of difference between Nixon and JFK on foreign policy, and the only difference on domestic policy was that Kennedy was marginally more conservative (on taxes, for example, where Kennedy was somewhat of a supply-sider; Nixon, by contrast, famous remarked, "We're all Keynesians now" in 1971.)

Thus, for practically the first three quarters of the twentieth century, until 1972 (with the exception of Barry Goldwater in 1964, a candidate for conservatives only), conservatives were on the outside looking in. The GOP was pretty much dominated by establishmentarians, moderates, Realists, anti-Communists, and what we would today call RINOs -- liberal Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller. This was "the great silent majority" that Nixon relied upon.

Conservatives like Bill Buckley spent as much time bemoaning the Republicans as the Democrats. They didn't like the GOP, but they certainly weren't going to move en masse to the Democrats, where they would have to link arms with Southern segregationists, which movement conservatives refused to do. The probably held their nose and voted Republican most of the time... but they were not the party's core; they were estranged stepchildren.

But in 1972, when Nixon was running for reelection, the Democratic Party lurched to the hard left and nominated George McGovern, a peacenik who was soft on the Soviet Union... resulting in a massive landslide for Nixon. This remained the Democratic position right up until Bill Clinton in 1992... thus, the conservatives -- terrified of the alternative -- had no choice but to join with anti-Communist moderates -- and that coalition was the core of the party for eight election cycles, from 1972 through the 1988 presidential election.

In 1976, Nixon's so-called "corruption" (it's worth reading Silent Coup, by Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin, for a revisionist history of this subject), coupled with the Andrew Johnson-like weakness of the appointed President Gerald Ford, led to the very narrow victory of another peacenik Communist appeaser (who sailed during the election under false colors as a foreign-policy hawk). But when voters realized who Jimmy Carter really was, he was crushed the next election by Ronald Reagan.

Yet even then, the "core" of the GOP in 1980 still included a lot of moderates and even some converted liberals. In fact, we can make this into a general rule, which should be obvious: Whenever a party has a "big tent," its core is necessarily heterogenous. But when the core is homogenous, that typically means the party is not attracting any but true believers; hence it typically loses a lot and wins only narrow victories.

Reagan's main rival in the primaries was George H.W. Bush, who -- as we all remember -- was the man who first used the phrase "voodoo economics" to describe the combination of huge tax cuts, a major cut in the prime lending rate, gigantic increases in military spending, and draconian spending cuts in non-military spending (the last was killed by Congress, alas) that we now call "Reaganomics."

During the hapless presidency of George H.W. Bush, the moderates decided that there was nothing left to tie them to the GOP: Reagan was gone, and Bush was a poor substitute. Most of them flirted with the bizarre but charismatic H. Ross Perot, in whom some saw a new Reagan; others joined with Bill Clinton. The 1992 election was a muddle; and even by 1996, Clinton still couldn't get a majority... Ross Perot sucked off some of the moderate vote. But in 1992 and 1996, only conservatives really consistently backed the GOP candidate (GHW Bush and Bob Dole, respectively); and of course it was conservatives who led the way in the Republicans' 1994 congressional victory. These three elections, plus 1964, 2004, and 2006, are the only times that the Republican core has really been completely conservative.

In 2000, Bush was the establishment GOP candidate, McCain was the maverick party straddler, and the conservative vote was splintered between Gary Bauer (religious Right), Steve Forbes (free-market conservatives), and Alan Keyes (social conservatives), with the last being the last man standing. (Pat Buchanan was a relict even back then; his heyday was as Ronald Reagan's speechwriter.)

I can make a good argument that conservatives were the core of the GOP in 2004, as most of the Bush moderates jumped ship to John Kerry; had they not, then Bush would have enjoyed the usual incumbent's advantage and won by 56% to 43%. And of course, in 2006, conservatives were the only ones to vote Republican -- which is why the GOP lost a bunch of seats.

And there you have it: Conservatives have been "the core of the Republican Party" only six times in this century or the last: 1964, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2004, and 2006; on four of those six, the GOP lost.

In all the other elections since 1900, so far as I can determine, the Republican "core" comprised a coalition between two or more groups -- sometimes including the conservatives, but sometimes not (I think a lot of conservatives probably supported the somewhat more conservative JFK over the liberal Richard Nixon). Thus, conservatives are not "the core" of the GOP except occasionally, or when they join with other groups in a core coalition.

So back to the original question: Who is going to work energetically for John McCain? For heaven's sake, he has an army of people who dote on him, and have done since at least 2000. Many of them are moderates who sometimes vote Democratic; but this time, they'll throw everything they have into getting McCain elected president.

Well, this year, just as in 1980, we're going to have another anti-American, feckless, belly-crawling, malaise-spreading surrender monkey as the Democratic nominee, no matter which of them wins. In addition, the Democrat will be either corrupt to the core -- or else a complete vapid naif with no experience whatsoever. Arrayed against her or him, we'll have a charismatic leader with a very compelling personal history of almost unimaginable courage under torture, and with a whole warehouse full of substantive ideas (which everyone will applaud partially and reject partially).

I think we're going to have a huge passel of volunteers... it's just that many of them won't be hard-core movement conservatives. Just as with Reagan.

Alas, this is all played out against the backdrop of a successful war rendered unpopular by the relentless misreporting and deliberate lying of the elite media and the Democrats. I suspect the war will be nowhere near this unpopular by November; but it won't yet be remembered fondly (that comes later, after some time for the American people to reflect). Plus, the economy will be thought to be shaky, even if it's improving: Public opinion is always a lagging indicator.

I believe, in the end, the voters will choose the charismatic leader with real ideas (love them or loathe them) over either the dull as dishwater candidate espousing the tired, old policies of yesteryear, or the charismatic but content-free orator whose politics is just as far to the left as Jimmy Carter's (and I mean the Carter of today, not the Carter of 1976).

And if McCain does win, he will win because the core of the Republican Party is once again a coalition of many different kinds of Republican.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 10, 2008, at the time of 7:42 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

February 5, 2008

A Man Who Can Get Things Done

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Yeah, yeah, I know he's a Democrat... but this is one fantastic ad!

 

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 5, 2008, at the time of 12:50 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 9, 2008

Michigan Will Be - Ah - Interesting

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Let's start with (you'll pardon the obscene language) the polling...

At the moment, the RCP average for MI has Mitt Romney up over John McCain by 0.8%, over Mike Huckabee by 1.3%, over Rudy Giuliani by 10.0%, and over Rip Van Thompson by 15.0%. In other words, the top three candidates are tied.

That includes polls from December; however, even if we only look at polls this year, the top three are just as tight: McCain at 23.5, Romney at 21.0, and Huckabee at 20.5. The span from top to bottom is still within the margin of error.

Now for the structural dilemma: Michigan is one of those states that has an open primary: I believe any voter, no matter what his party affiliation, can request the ballot for any party's race. In other words, not just Independents but also (I think) Democrats could, if they wished, vote in the Republican primary in Michigan.

At the same time, both Barack Obama and John Edwards (not to mention Joe Biden and Bill Richardson -- who Drudge is reporting has just dropped out) withdrew from the Michigan primary last year and were thwarted in their attempts to get back on the ballot. Thus, the only top-tier Democrat in the Michigan race is Hillary Clinton.

Because the Democratic race is a foregone conclusion (and is worth exactly zero delegates anyway, since the DNC chose to strip the state), it's entirely possible that an angry mob of pitchfork-brandishing Democrats will join the bored mob of frozen cherry-pie wielding Independents and vote in the GOP primary, just to make mischief.

But on the third hand, John McCain is not the immortal beloved of Indies in Michigan that he is in New Hampshire; so it's not clear who this potential spoil of lefties will support: If they imagine that John McCain would be the tougher Republican to beat (because he would draw more non-Republicans than other candidates), they might pour their support into his chief rival, Mitt Romney. Or into the coffers of Huckabee, reasoning that a religious zealot like him can't possibly win.

But on the fourth hand, even if McCain or Huckabee wins Michigan on the strength of non-Republican voters, that doesn't really tell us much about the future... since in the mega-states (California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Ohio), none is an open-primary state, I believe. In the others, you have to be a registered Republican to vote in the Republican primary (which is as it ought to be, forever and ever, amen).

A more appropriate metric for predicting the rest of the race is to look at who wins the Michigan race among Republican voters only... particularly since the RNC cut Michigan's GOP delegate count in half, so it doesn't make that big a contribution to the overall total.

On the fifth hand (is this a centipede?), Michigan is undergoing a "one-state recession;" and in New Hampshire, McCain won fairly strongly among those who were worried about the economy, while Romney did better among those who were not worried.

On the sixth hand (I think it's a millipede), Mike Huckabee would be cutting into this same group of hardscrabble voters; if he and McCain split it, that would be good for Romney.

On the seventh hand, if Romney doesn't win in Michigan, then most likely, one of the other two top candidates will have two wins, and might vault into the lead in delegates.

And having reached the seventh hand of the seventh voter, we may as well stop here... with the conclusion that Michigan will be -- as stated -- interesting.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 9, 2008, at the time of 10:27 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Oddities and Entities of the New Hampshire Primaries...

Elections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

The night of the New Hampshire primary election, CNN did something I haven't seen before: It released all its exit polling data in a slick, easy-to-read format. This gives us a fairly unprecedented glimpse into the mad world of presidential primary elections.

Exit the Republicans...

Let's start with the Republican exit polling. Here are some interesting tidbits gleaned from the (longish) whole...

  • First, John McCain won both sexes and all age groups among Republicans -- except those 65 and older. Go figure.
  • McCain won the votes (narrowly) of those who think debates are "very important" and those who think debates are "not too important;" but Mitt Romney won the votes (even narrowerly) of those who think debates are "somewhat important." Yeesh.
  • I find this datum particularly damning: Romney won the votes of those who are "enthusiastic," those who are "satisfied," and in a different question, those who have a "positive" view of the Bush administration. Contrariwise, McCain won the votes of those whose reaction to President Bush is "dissatisfied," "angry," or "negative."

    Evidently, the elite media is still doing a bang-up job recruiting for the McCain campaign by telling the country Bush is the worst president in all of American history.

  • McCain won the votes of those who think the next president should "continue" the Bush policies... and the votes of those who think the next president should be "less conservative" than Bush; Romney, of course, won the votes of those who think the next president should be "more conservative" than Bush. I think Hugh Hewitt might have something in his oft-repeated claim that McCain would take the country in a more liberal direction than Romney.
  • If you're worried about the economy, you're a McCainiac; if you're not, you're a Romnoid.
  • Here's a real head-scratcher: Despite McCain's deserved identification with the Iraq war (as the only candidate to advocate we switch to a counterinsurgency strategy, even back in 2006), Romney gets a huge nod (almost 2-1) from those who "strongly approve" of the "U.S. war in Iraq;" but McCain gets those who "somewhat approve," "somewhat disapprove," and "strongly disapprove." Explain that one, if you dare...!
  • And finally, this is my very favorite: Mitt Romney wins among those respondents who say they "strongly favor" their candidate; but John McCain wins among those people who say they have "reservations" about their candidate!

Exit the Democrats...

Now let's spin down to the Democratic exit polls. There really are only a couple of fascinating bits here, but they're whoppers:

  • Those Democratic voters who want us out of the war immediately -- went very strongly for Hillary Clinton, the gal who still talks about leaving a substantial portion of the troops in Iraq; those voters who want any withdrawal to be gradual, and those who want U.S. troops to remain in Iraq, both went for Barack Obama... the guy who talks about an immediate withdrawal. Do Democratic voters know something about these two candidates that eludes those of us on the right?
  • The second funky question is this: If Bill Clinton could run again, would you rather vote for him, or for your own candidate? Among Obama supporters, 47% would vote for Obama anyway, while a scant 24% are pining away for Bill. But for Hillary supporters, only 27% would still vote for her, while a hilarious 58% say they would rather vote for Bill than Hill!

Isn't it amazing the things one can discover peeping through keyholes?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 9, 2008, at the time of 6:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 8, 2008

New Hampshire: Hillary Pulls Huge Upset; McCain Does Predictably

Elections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Well, another state has passed into the rear-view mirror in our breakneck drag race through the abbreviated primary season. New Hampshire is now irrelevant once more.

On the Republican side, the night started out looking like John McCain was going to swamp Mitt Romney, crushing him like a grape beneath an elephant's foot. But in the end, it appears that a later swing to Romney left the race at just about what the pollsters had predicted: McCain won by 5%, slightly more than the 3.8% predicted on today's RCP average, according to CNN with 90%+ of the precincts reporting.

The more-or-less total count (here is CNN's primary page) has McCain up 37% to Romney's 32%.

But there is no question that on the Democratic side, the pollsters were utterly flummoxed: There was no huge wave of young voters for Barack Obama; Hillary Clinton was not buried; and female voters returned to the Red Queen -- who also won among Democrats. Most specifically, although there were more Independents among Democratic voters than Republican -- 40% among Dem, 33% among GOP -- Obama's edge among Indies was obviously not sufficient to overcome his deficit among Democrats.

Hillary was supposed to lose to Obama by 8.3%; instead, she won by about 2%, meaning the pollsters were off by upwards of 10%. That's seriously mistaken, implying a completely incorrect turnout model.

Three first impressions:

  • It appears that a lot more Independent voters chose to vote in the GOP race than were expected; this would explain McCain coming in slightly higher than the polls reported today, but right on the polls of yesterday: If the Independents had been only 28% of the Republican numbers instead of 33% (AP says they accounted for "about a third of Republican ballots"), the race would have ended up almost exactly where the RCP average predicted: McCain ahead by 3.8%.

    But 5% more Independents in the Democratic race wouldn't, by itself, have given Obama the 6- to 10-point victory that virtually all pollsters predicted. Thus, Obama must have gotten a smaller percentage of those Independents -- and possibly a smaller percentage of Democrats -- than were showing up in the polls, as well. (Sachi suggested that Hillary's crying jag must have worked. Say, maybe she'll cry before every primary from now on!)

  • The Democrats still have somewhat of an advantage in terms of total votes cast: 258,600 to 213,400 for the Republicans. I don't know how this translates into the general election, since Independents are gaming the system.
  • Among Republicans, immigration was the metric: Those who favor deporting illegals by and large voted for Romney; those who favor a path to citizenship mostly voted for McCain (I know you're shocked to hear that....)

    Among those voting Republican who named immigration as one of the nation's top issues, Romney was the big winner (which bodes well for the border states); among those who picked the economy or Iraq but not immigration, McCain did very well (which probably bodes well for big eastern states, though McCain will have to fight through Rudy Giuliani on that front).

Bottom line: The pollsters did pretty well on the Republican side but completely missed the boat among Democrats. Make of that what you will.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 8, 2008, at the time of 9:52 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 7, 2008

Captain Head-Fake

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

I have suddenly realized something sad about Michael Medved: He never was pro-Huckabee, as he appeared; I doubt he is now really pro-John McCain. What he has always been in reality... is an "Anybody But Romney" fanatic.

I now think he supported and defended Mike Huckabee only because Huckabee was Romney's chief rival in Iowa; and today, Medved has become John McCain's biggest fan only because McCain is Romney's chief rival in New Hampshire. What's sad is that there really is nothing in Romney's background, proposals, or current demeanor that would justify such desperate opposition, except for the one possibility that I prefer not to think (but am starting to be driven to wonder about): religion.

I certainly hope that's not what's driving Medved, but I have a hard time understanding his animosity otherwise. (It can't be Romney's so-called "flip flopping" for reasons discussed below. Of all people in the world, Michael Medved should be the last to object to a candidate making "right turns.")

What really convinced me was a caller to Medved's show today, and the host's non-response to the caller's challenge. Medved had gleefully noted that during one of the debates over the weekend (I think the Saturday debate on ABC), Romney said that his ads did not refer to the McCain's immigration bill as "amnesty." But during a talk-show appearance the next day, the host (Medved mentioned the name, but I've forgotten) played Romney's current ad -- which repeatedly referred to the bill as amnesty.

Medved has a point: Whether you think the bill was amnesty, as do most conservatives, or think it was actually more like a plea bargain (as I do), Mitt Romney was either lying, or he was irresponsibly endorsing commercials that he had not, in fact, seen.

But then Michael Medved took a call from a caller who offered a great "challenge": John McCain has repeatedly said that he does not now support, and never has supported, amnesty for illegal aliens. Yet a quotation surfaced last July, found and reported by Politico (hat tip to Patterico's Pontifications):

“Amnesty” now is a political dirty word – the favorite slur of the bill’s opponents. But it was not always thus. The Googling monkeys discovered that McCain himself embraced the term during a news conference a few years ago in his office in Tucson, Ariz. “McCain Pushes Amnesty, Guest-Worker Program,” reported the Tucson Citizen of May 29, 2003. The senator is quoted as saying: “Amnesty has to be an important part because there are people who have lived in this country for 20, 30 or 40 years, who have raised children here and pay taxes here and are not citizens. That has to be a component of it.” The newspaper also quoted McCain as saying: “I think we can set up a program where amnesty is extended to a certain number of people who are eligible and at the same time make sure that we have some control over people who come in and out of this country.”

From here on, what follows is an approximation of what the caller and Michael Medved said... a "squortation," my portmanteau neologism for "squirmy quotation," since I don't have a transcript. Therefore, I'm not putting anything I don't explicitly remember into "quotation marks;" I'll use 'single-quotes' instead:

'Well?' asked the caller; 'If you're going to call Romney a liar for saying he didn't call the McCain-Kennedy bill amnesty when he did -- shouldn't you also call McCain a liar for saying he never supported amnesty... when he did support it, explicitly, as recently as 2003?'

The caller even cited some talking head who read that quotation to McCain over the weekend during an interview. Yet later that same day, McCain repeated his claim that he had "never supported amnesty."

After some fumbling around, Medved finally responded thus: 'McCain's bill wasn't amnesty.'

The caller pointed out the irrelevancy of that response, which parrots what McCain says (today): 'It makes no difference whether you think the bill was or was not amnesty; what matters is that McCain explicitly supported amnesty in 2003, by name, and now says that he never supported amnesty. And said it after having been confronted with the very quotation. Isn't that just as big a lie as anything Romney has said?'

Medved: 'The immigration bill was not amnesty. I don't know why people keep saying it was!'

Medved then went on to say that this "lie" (note the actual quotation marks now), coupled with "Romney's repeated flip-flops," should probably sink the "plastic" Romney's candidacy.

Repeated flip-flops? Coming from a guy who, by his own admission (in writing!), used to be a leftist, anti-war radical and now calls himself a right-wing conservative, this is a bit thick.

If merely changing one's mind constitutes "flip-flopping," then does Medved consider himself a serial flip-flopper too? In my opinion, to be a "flip-flopper," you have to move from A to B and then back to A on some major issue of principle, shifting back and forth with every passing wind, like a weathercock.

Simply moving one time from A to B is not flip-flopping: It's evolving. It may be evolving in a conservative direction (like Mitt Romney) or a liberal one (like, say, David Brock); but it's not a John Kerry-esque flip-flop.

I've come to the reluctant conclusion that today, Medved simply will say anything to promote McCain over Romney in the New Hampshire primary. But wait; didn't he used to be willing to say anything to promote Huckabee over Romney in the Iowa caucuses?

What is the common theme here?

I find I haven't really been listening to Medved much lately; I'm put-off by his rudderless animosity and snideness towards any caller who supports Mitt Romney: Every pro-Romney argument is instantly dubbed a "Romney talking point," as if the caller must be receiving orders e-mailed from the former governor's campaign headquarters. I only tuned in today because I wasn't doing anything else at that moment. And lo! Within minutes, there he was, attacking Mitt Romney again... but this time not on behalf of Mike Huckabee, who has no chance in New Hampshire, but on behalf of John McCain, the only man with a good shot at stopping Romney.

I used to like Medved. I thought he had interesting things to say, a different perspective from the Christians who dominate talk-radio and even from his coreligionist, Dennis Prager. But recently, Michael Medved has become a crashing bore. I don't think I'll be listening to him in future.

Honestly, I think it a sad day when the Republican coalition turns on itself like a pack of cannibals... when a once-interesting conservative engages in a kind of self-immolation to stop Mitt Romney at any cost. It reminds me inescapably of the career sacrifice that comedian Mort Sahl committed in his efforts to destroy Richard Nixon; or more recently, what Al Franken and Garrison Keillor have done to their careers in order to stop Republicans generally.

It's the kind of thing I associate only with Democrats and sordid leftists; it troubles me that conservative Republicans (rather, neo-conservatives -- in the original sense -- like Michael Medved) are now aping the self-destructive strategies of their New Left counterparts.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 7, 2008, at the time of 5:08 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

January 3, 2008

Iowa Caucuses... Lizardly Predictions Part II

Elections , Predictions , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

The predictions --

We got some things right and some things wrong. Here were our predictions:

  1. Mitt Romney wins the Iowa GOP meet & greet, beating Mike Huckabee by about 6 points;
  2. Barack Obama beats Hillary Clinton in the Democratic contest by less than Romney beats Huckabee;
  3. On the Republican side, John McCain will be third;
  4. Nobody will care who was fourth;
  5. McCain will certainly stick it out through New Hampshire; but when he loses (narrowly) to Mitt Romney, he will pull out before South Carolina (but possibly after Michigan and Nevada).

The results --

The final numbers, so far as I can tell (hat tip to DRJ at Patterico's Pontifications), are as follows.

Democrats:

  1. Barack Obama 93,951 - 38 percent
  2. John Edwards 74,377 - 30 percent
  3. Hillary Clinton 73,666 - 29 percent
  4. Bill Richardson 5,278 - 2 percent
  5. Joe Biden 2,329 - 1 percent (has now dropped out of the race)
  6. Uncommitted 345 - 0 percent
  7. Chris Dodd 58 - 0 percent (has now dropped out of the race)
  8. Mike Gravel 0 - 0 percent
  9. Dennis Kucinich 0 - 0 percent

Republicans:

  1. Mike Huckabee 39,814 - 34 percent
  2. Mitt Romney 29,405 - 25 percent
  3. Fred Thompson 15,521 - 13 percent
  4. John McCain 15,248 - 13 percent

The other four Republicans were not reported after a certain point; this is where they were with 93% of the precincts counted:

  1. Ron Paul 11,232 - 10 percent
  2. Rudy Giuliani 3,853 - 3 percent
  3. Duncan Hunter 499 - 0 percent
  4. Tom Tancredo 5 - 0 percent

The analysis --

  1. Mitt Romney wins the Iowa GOP meet & greet, beating Mike Huckabee by about 6 points;

Dead, flat wrong.

  1. Barack Obama beats Hillary Clinton in the Democratic contest by less than Romney beats Huckabee;

Aside from the prepositional phrase, the other half of this was correct. 50% correct.

  1. On the Republican side, John McCain will be third;

Hm... more or less correct, as McCain and Thompson pretty much tied for third (a difference of 273 votes out of more than 100,000 cast). I'll say this is correct within the margin of counting error.

  1. Nobody will care who was fourth;

Pretty correct on the Democratic side: The only person who cared who was number four was Joe Biden -- who was number four. He cared enough to drop out of the race.

On the Republican side, there really was no number four; there were two number threes, followed by a number five... and nobody really cared about Ron Paul. So I'll say this is about 75% accurate.

  1. McCain will certainly stick it out through New Hampshire; but when he loses (narrowly) to Mitt Romney, he will pull out before South Carolina (but possibly after Michigan and Nevada).

TBD

So of the four predictions it's possible to judge now, I have an accuracy rate of 56.25% by my own calculations. Not great, not bad, just fair.

Did you do better?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 3, 2008, at the time of 11:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 1, 2008

Iowa Caucuses... Lizardly Predictions

Elections , Predictions , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Getcher red-hot predictions here!

I always like to make hard and fast predictions right before a measurable contest, presenting the maximum opportunity for looking like a blooming idiot.

With that cheery thought in mind, I predict:

  1. Mitt Romney wins the Iowa GOP meet & greet, beating Mike Huckabee by about 6 points;
  2. Barack Obama beats Hillary Clinton in the Democratic contest by less than Romney beats Huckabee;
  3. On the Republican side, John McCain will be third;
  4. Nobody will care who was fourth;
  5. McCain will certainly stick it out through New Hampshire; but when he loses (narrowly) to Mitt Romney, he will pull out before South Carolina (but possibly after Michigan and Nevada).

Let's see if I can manage to miss all five predictions and suffer utter humiliation!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 1, 2008, at the time of 5:40 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 20, 2007

Today's Huckalunacy: Back to the Future? No, Forward to the Past!

Afghan Astonishments , Elections , Iraq Matters , Military Machinations , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Some evangelicals, such as Lee Harris at TCS (Technology, Commerce, Society) Daily, passionately believe that conservatives (and even non-conservatives such as myself) who say bad things about Mike Huckabee's campaign for the presidency, are simply haters who despise religious people. We spend our time nitpicking every word that Huckabee utters, find absurd conspiracies (such as the "floating cross" in his Christmas TV ad that was actually a reflection off his bookshelves), and even fabricate supposed faux pas out of thin air. We are the polar opposites of those believers who see Jesus in a tortilla and the Virgin Mary in a rock formation.

Not so! In fact, I knew absolutely nothing about Huckabee until I began to hear his own words. I have assumed from the git go that he is no more or less religious than that other evangelical, born-again Christian who currently occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. And everything I have attacked about Huckabee's campaign has been based upon his own words, either spoken, or in the case of his Foreign Affairs article on his deep, surethoughted foreign policy, written after careful pondering and the hiring of a skillful ghostwriter... thus all, one presumes, the considered position of Gov. Mike Huckabee himself.

So I feel no guilt for bringing to your eyes what I just heard with my own ears, on just about the most friendly venue Huckabee can possibly get: the Michael Medved show, a one-on-one conversation with a pal who has pulled out all the stops to turn his show into a virtual daily campaign spot for Gov. Huckabee.

Today, Medved began by asking Huckabee about the section of his article where he says he wants to build up the military much more rapidly than President Bush is doing. As a reminder, this is what Huckabee wrote, or at least put his name to; I include annotations from myself:

The Bush administration plans to increase the size of the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps by about 92,000 troops over the next five years. We can and must do this in two to three years. [Considering that the president has just barely met his own expansion rate, how exactly does Huckabee plan to double it? Care to tell us?] I recognize the challenges of increasing our enlistments without lowering standards and of expanding training facilities and personnel, and that is one of the reasons why we must increase our military budget. [How would increasing our DoD budget cause recruits to magically appear -- and to magically get 4-5 years of training in 2-3 years?] Right now, we spend about 3.9 percent of our GDP on defense, compared with about six percent in 1986, under President Ronald Reagan. [At the peak of the Cold War.] We need to return to that six percent level. [So he wants to add another $240 billion per year to the DoD budget... if he has a plan for getting Congress to vote this -- without a staggering tax increase -- does he care to share?] And we must stop using active-duty forces for nation building and return to our policy of using other government agencies to build schools, hospitals, roads, sewage treatment plants, water filtration systems, electrical facilities, and legal and banking systems. [That would be a great idea, if we could recreate the Foreign Office of the British Empire; but when has America done such a thing in the middle of a war? The Marshall Plan came after Germany was utterly razed.] We must marshal the goodwill, ingenuity, and power of our governmental and nongovernmental organizations in coordinating and implementing these essential nonmilitary functions.

If I ever have to undertake a large invasion, I will follow the Powell Doctrine and use overwhelming force. [A force that took months and months to settle in the friendly country of Kuwait -- which had just been invaded by Iraq, thus was willing to allow us to do so. Which country in the Middle East would have been willing to make itself a target over a six-month period prior to launching our own invasion of Iraq?] The notion of an occupation with a "light footprint," which was our model for Iraq, is a contradiction in terms. [Oddly, though, it seemed to work -- as even Gov. Huckabee admits a couple of sentences later.] Liberating a country and occupying it are two different missions. Our invasion of Iraq went well militarily, but the occupation has destroyed the country politically, economically, and socially. [Destroyed it? It appears to be doing significantly better by many measures than it was under Saddam Hussein.] In the former Yugoslavia, we sent 20 peacekeeping soldiers for every thousand civilians. [And say, that's worked out well, hasn't it!] In Iraq, an equivalent ratio would have meant sending a force of 450,000 U.S. troops. [Great leaping horny toads. And where were we to get the extra 200,000+ troops? Can Huckabee the Great conjure 20 divisions out of his hat?] Unlike President George W. Bush, who marginalized General Eric Shinseki, the former army chief of staff, when he recommended sending several hundred thousand troops to Iraq, I would have met with Shinseki privately and carefully weighed his advice. [Before or after he publicly smeared you with his "advice" at a Congressional hearing?] Our generals must be independent advisers, always free to speak without fear of retribution or dismissal. [Where "our generals" includes Eric Shinseki, but not, evidently, Tommy Franks.]

Look at that -- lots of attacks on Huckabee's ideas, yet not a single reference to "knuckle-dragging evanvgelicals" or "protofascist Christian theocrats!"

But Gov. Huckabee's military naïveté is perfectly encapsulated by a pithy, sententious aphorism he just delivered on the show, which is what spurred me to write this post. Here is what he said -- transcript from my own memory (but as you'll see, it would be hard to get this wrong):

Donald Rumsfeld famously said, "You don't go to war with the Army you'd like; you go to war with the Army you have." But I say, you don't go to war with the Army you have... you go to war with the Army you need. And you don't go to war until you have the Army you need!

(Actually, what Rumsfeld said was "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time." But Huckabee's paraphrase is near enough to the meaning.)

Think about that for a moment. How many things are wrong with that sentiment?

  1. How do you calculate "the Army you need?"

    Huckabee would use the Powell Doctrine -- where we essentially refight World War II in every military conflict we undertake. The Gulf War was a classic force-on-force confrontation not that different from Patton's North Africa campaign or the Battle of the Bulge. But wars in the future will not much resemble those of the 20th century; and if we're still trying to fight campaigns against agile, assymetrical insurgents with the bigfooted approach of a Colin Powell -- well, look at our Iraq tactics of 2005-2006 and how effective they were.

    And for how many years could we have supported that size of a force in Iraq, by the way?

  2. How long do you wait to go to war, trying to raise the Army you think you need under the Powell Doctrine?

    When Colin Powell fought the Gulf War, he had the advantage of the Reagan Army build-up already under his belt. I understand that Huckabee wants to build up our armed forces; but he's still only talking about another 92,000 troops -- in three years. But he now says we should have used 450,000 soldiers in Iraq, which is more than 200,000 more than we used. So should we have waited six years to attack Iraq?

    What kind of WMD would Saddam Hussein have had by now, had we done nothing for the last six years?

  3. Where exactly would Huckabee have staged an Allied Expeditionary Force of near half a million? Turkey? Kuwait? Iran? Has the governor even thought this through? Which Moslem country was going to allow us to build up such a massive force of crusading Christians on its territory, in the era of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda?
  4. Perhaps Huckabee is covertly saying he wouldn't have invaded Iraq at all; that like President Clinton, he would have been content with occasional bombing runs to "keep Saddam Hussein in his box." And when the sanctions regime collapsed under the weight of the UN's Oil for Fraud bribery scheme, we would have grimly watched -- while building our mighty, Cold-War sized Army -- as Hussein rebuilt his entire arsenal of chemical and biological weaponry.

    (Which, by the way, he might have used against neighboring civilian populations or even his own people, rather than against our soldiers... and the civilian death toll could have been much, much higher... even as high as the ludicrous Lancet guesstimate of 655,000 deaths, or the even more risible Opinion Research claim of 1.2 million.)

    If that is what Huckabee is saying, I wish he would just straightforwardly make that case, so we could confront his arguments... instead of advocating policies that would force us down that road, willy nilly, in future.

  5. And what if our goal to add another 20-30 divisions were delayed indefinitely by a Congress unwilling to increase the military budget by 65%? How long do we wait before going to war... not just in Iraq, but anywhere?

    Years? Decades? Never? But even Huckabee admits that "our invasion of Iraq went well militarily."

    It seems he would preferentially never invade anywhere at all if he couldn't get enough troops to do it more or less like Operation Overlord on D-Day. This is like the king who had the largest army in Europe -- but would never fight for fear of "breaking" it.

Pace, Lee Harris, but this is why so many Republicans don't think much of "President" Mike Huckabee. Those of us who are not captive to the identity-politics of evangelism realize that electing yet another naïve Arkansas governor with no foreign policy experience to the White House is probably a bad idea during an existential war against global hirabah. Heck, the first was bad enough during the American vacation from history!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 20, 2007, at the time of 1:37 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

December 16, 2007

Another Day, Another Huckasmear

Elections , Liberal Lunacy
Hatched by Dafydd

Can't Huckabee open his yap without spewing offense?

The liberal Republican from Arkansas (on every issue, it seems, but abortion) has once again managed to say something absurdly offensive; but this time, it's truly of Kerryesque proportions. Ironically, the Huckster committed today's offensive gaffe while defending himself from yesterday's offensive gaffe: describing President Bush's foreign policy as an "arrogant bunker mentality" that is "counterproductive at home and abroad;" demanding that America do a 180 to finally become "generous in helping others;" and comparing the United States to a maladjusted high-school boy who nobody likes because he's a bully. (Paul Mirengoff at Power Line did a magnificent job of skewering yesterday's gaffe... but I've got the jump on the lads with today's!)

So after Mitt Romney tore into Mike Huckabee about this adolescent attack on the Bush administration, with the implication that a Huckabee foreign policy would more or less resemble Barack Obama's, the Huckaschmuck shoehorned himself onto CNN and gamely (or rather, lamely) tried to defend himself by saying "I didn’t say the president was arrogant; I said that the policies have been arrogant."

Oh. Well, that makes all the difference.

Then the CNN host -- unnamed in the Times story -- asked him about a piece by Rich Lowry of the National Review where Lowry compared Huckabee to Howard Dean. And here (at last!) is today's Kerryesque offensive gaffe:

Mr. Huckabee suggested that such criticism came from people whose concerns were not those of ordinary voters.

“I’m connecting to the people they don’t know,” Mr. Huckabee said, people “who are out there waiting tables and driving cabs.” He alone among the candidates, he said, had “actually had to work for a living.”

The obvious intent here is to smear his opponents by painting them as being either so upper-class and elite that they never had to work a day in their lives; they just sat around and clipped coupons. Or else they were so lazy that they just loafed, until some mysterious magic wand smacked them on the noggin, and they found themselves running for president.

By contrast, Mike Huckabee has been out in the real world, "waiting tables and driving cabs," honestly "work[ing] for a living." And he's the only one!

(This parallels the emblematic quote by John Forbes Kerry:

You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.)

"He alone among the candidates, he said, had 'actually had to work for a living.'” Take a moment to ponder the breathtaking stupidity of that claim. Recall that he earlier claimed -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he was the only man in the race "with a degree in theology." (It seems he has been lying about having a masters degree in theology for years; it's still in his InfoPlease biography as a former governor.) Talk about your "arrogant bunker mentality..."

So let's run through the curriculum vitae of a few of Gov. Huckabee's rivals, starting with the Mormon he loves to hate...

Williard Mitt Romney

After graduating from high school and briefly attending Stanford, Romney went on mission in France. For 30 months, he traveled around France with several other LDS missionaries, trying to convert French Catholics and Protestants. But perhaps Southern Baptist minister Mike Huckabee doesn't consider missionary work to be working for a living. So let's skip ahead.

After France, Romney returned to university, this time Brigham Young U., then on to Harvard, where he earned both a JD and an MBA simultaneously. After which, he went to work for the Boston Consulting Group. Three years later, in 1978 (Romney was 31 at this time), he became a vice president of Bain & Company, Inc., also of Boston. In 1984, at the age of 37, he left Bain & Company to co-found a spin-off, Bain Capital, where he stayed for the next 14 years.

In 1990, he was asked to simultaneously return to Bain & Company as CEO, which was headed for financial collapse; he saved the company.

Then in 1998, he left both Bains to rescue the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics bid... which he did over the next four years. He turned a $379 million shortfall into a $100 million profit -- and he donated his $825,000 salary to charity during that time.

So evidently, we can conclude that to Mike Huckabee, working as a manager and an executive doesn't count as "work[ing] for a living."

Huckabee knows that Romney was governor of Massachusetts, so clearly he doesn't consider working as an elected public official to be "work[ing] for a living," either.

But maybe the problem is that Huckabee is simply envious of those born well-to-do, and he doesn't consider the work of rich people to really constitute "work." After all, Romney's father George worked his way up to CEO of American Motors by the time Romney was seven.

Maybe Huckabee meant he was the only presidential candidate who "had to work for a living," as in, couldn't rely upon an eventual inheritance and was forced to scratch for his own seed, to "root, hog, or die."

(This begs the question, though; doesn't it say something important about a person's character if he doesn't need to work for a living -- but he does anyway?)

So let's "move on" to another rival...

Rudolph William Louis "Rudy" Giuliani

Unlike Romney, Giuliani was born to "working class" parents who were both first-generation Americans. Giuliani's father Harold was convicted of assault and robbery and did a stretch in Sing Sing; after getting out, he became a Mafia enforcer for his brother-in-law, the loan shark. This is not a mob position generally regarded as wildly lucrative.

Despite this background, Giuliani managed to graduate from Manhattan College in Riverdale, a Roman Catholic college for boys in the Bronx, and then from the law school at New York University School of Law. He graduated with a JD in 1968, at the age of 24. After clerking for a federal judge, Giuliani joined the US Attorney's Office in 1970.

From 1975-1977, he worked as a Justice Department lawyer, prosecuting corruption cases; then he entered private practice during the Carter years. When Reagan was elected, Giuliani returned to the Justice Department as an Associate Attorney General, where he supervised the Department of Corrections, the DEA, and the U.S. Marshals Service.

In 1983, Giuliani was named U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. There he stayed until 1990, when he moved to private practice after losing the 1989 mayoral race; he was elected Mayor of New York City in 1993.

So I reckon we can also add "attorney" and "prosecutor" to the professions that do not constitute "work" to Mike Huckabee. Let's see who's next...

Freddie "Fred" Dalton Thompson

After graduating high school, Thompson worked for a year or so at the post office, moonlighting at a bicycle assembly plant. He graduated from college in 1964 -- the first of his family ever to attend university -- and got his JD degree from Vanderbilt on scholarship in 1967.

We already know that Huckabee doesn't consider being an attorney "work[ing] for a living;" so we'll skip over all that.

Thompson began his acting career in 1983, playing himself, oddly enough, in the film adaptation of a book about a famous wrongful-termination trial; Thompson had represented Marie Ragghianti... who had been fired for refusing to let out inmates, even after they had bribed aides to her boss, Democratic Gov. Ray Blanton of Tennessee.

Since the 1985 release of Marie, Thompson has acted in 29 movies and 150 television episodes, mostly on various incarnations of Law & Order.

All right... so "salaried actor and entertainer" is yet another in the rapidly expanding list of occupations which Mike Huckabee rejects as "work[ing] for a living." And that brings us to...

John Sidney McCain III

McCain was born to a career naval officer -- named John Sidney McCain, jr., oddly enough -- in 1936, five years after McCain, jr. was commissioned. (Most likely, McCain's father was a lieutenant at the time.) McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone.

Like most Navy brats, McCain moved around a lot during his early years. He believes he attended about 20 different schools before entering Annapolis. He graduated and was commissioned in 1958, at age 22.

McCain was trained at NAS Pensacola (naturally), becoming a Naval Aviator in 1960. He flew carriers until 1962, then served a shore tour at NAS Meridian (Mississippi) as flight instructor. He returned to carrier duty in 1966.

He began Vietnam ops in 1967, as part of Operation Rolling Thunder. Later that year, Lt.Com. McCain was almost killed in the infamous USS Forrestal fire: McCain's plane was the one struck by the misfired missile from another plane, while he was readying for takeoff; he managed to blow the canopy and climb forward, across the nose to the refueling probe, jump to the burning deck, and escape with his life. The fire killed 132 sailors, injured 62 others, and destroyed 20 aircraft.

While the Forrestal was being repaired, McCain volunteered for the USS Oriskany, which ironically enough had just suffered its own devastating fire, losing 44 crew -- including 24 pilots. The Oriskany had also lost many pilots during flight ops, so they were desperate for more aviators.

Alas, on McCain's first mission off the Oriskany, his A-4 Skyhawk was shot down over Hanoi. After breaking both arms and a leg in the SA-2 missile strike, McCain ejected. On the ground, he was beaten by a mob, had his shoulder crushed by a rifle butt, and was bayonetted in the foot and the abdomen. He was later beaten again, this time by interrogators in a POW camp.

The next year, 1968, the solitary confinement and torture began (to this day, he cannot raise his arms above his shoulders). In 1969, McCain was transferred to the "Hanoi Hilton" (the Hoa Loa Prison). He remained a POW until 1973, spending five and a half years in captivity.

The next year was spent in physical therapy and other treatment, and he was restored to flight status in 1974. McCain remained in the United States Navy until his retirement in 1981 as a Captain, adding up to more than 22 years of active-duty military service, not counting the four years at the USNA.

Guess what else Mike Huckabee doesn't think constitutes "work[ing] for a living?"

So now we know what Huckabee thinks doesn't count as "work": Being a manager or executive at a company, being a prosecutor, supervising federal agencies, being an actor or entertainer, and being a career military officer and combat veteran. I leave it up to the readers to decide how many Americans this smears with the "elite" or "lazy" tag.

So what does count as work to him? He uses himself as the exemplar of work -- "He alone among the candidates, he said, had 'actually had to work for a living.'" Let's see what that work comprised...

Michael Dale Huckabee

Like Bill Clinton, Mike Huckabee was born in Hope, Arkansas. His first job at age 14 was reading the news and weather at a local radio station.

For his next job at age 23, after graduating from Ouachita Baptist University and dropping out of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Huckabee worked for televangelist James Robison as a staffer. From then until 1991, he worked as the pastor of various churches around Arkansas, as president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, and as "president" (whatever that means) of religious television channel KBSC (now KLFI).

Then in 1993, he took the oath as Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas. Apart from the CV above, I was unable to find any other jobs he claims to have worked -- not even on his own campaign web page. I admit I haven't read any of his books, so maybe he mentions some there.

But barring that, I think we can tentatively conclude that, while Mike Huckabee rejects business, the law, acting, and the military as professions where one might "work for a living," he evidently does count being a church pastor and running a religious television station.

Well... if he says so, who am I to disagree?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 16, 2007, at the time of 7:37 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

December 12, 2007

Yeah, I think Huck Crossed Way Over the Line

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Michael Medved is frantically trying to spin another stupid thing that Gov. Mike Huckabee said. Again.

Medved seems to spend a lot of time on this; if I believed in campaign-finance reform, I'd suggest he be investigated for giving corporate in-kind contributions...

He's currently screaming about the AP article; yes, you know which one I mean:

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, asks in an upcoming article, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"

The article, to be published in Sunday's New York Times Magazine, says Huckabee asked the question after saying he believes Mormonism is a religion but doesn't know much about it. His rival Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, is a member of the Mormon church, which is known officially as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The authoritative Encyclopedia of Mormonism, published in 1992, does not refer to Jesus and Satan as brothers. It speaks of Jesus as the son of God and of Satan as a fallen angel, which is a Biblical account.

Assuming this isn't just a flat lie -- and I would be pretty shocked if it were, given how easy it would be to debunk -- this is akin to asking, "Don't Christians believe you can commit any sin you like, and as long as you believe in Jesus, you're forgiven?" (Actually, that last is fairer, as -- unlike the LDS smear -- it has at least a few ordained adherents.)

The AP article claims that Huckabee asked the question out of the blue, after first saying that he thought Mormonism was a religion, not a cult. Medved, however, furiously pointed out that in reality, Huckabee asked the question out of the blue, after first saying that he thought Mormonism was a religion, not a cult. Ergo, per Medved, the AP article is a dirty lie.

I confess I didn't quite follow the point.

Medved also believes that the phrase "asks in an upcoming article" would make anyone believe that Huckabee wrote the article. Maybe it's just me, but that doesn't jump out at me either.

Honestly, it really sounds to me as if the Huckster simply decided to toss a vicious smear of Mormonism into his magazine interview (by which I don't mean to say Huckabee interviewed himself; pace, Michael Medved). As even Medved admits, the governor was not responding to any question about Mormon theology; he just eructated his rhetorical question as a complete non-sequitur, then turned to another topic.

Frankly, I think this is... well, not quite despicable, I suppose, but certainly very disturbing. Such an attack furthers Huckabee's campaign theme, that voters should elect him because he's "the Christian" in the race. Well, you know, Romney is a Mormon, Giuliani is a Catholic, and McCain is a warmonger; no Christians in that lot!

I'm more and more fascinated to learn how much of this alleged Huckasurge will actually translate into caucus-goers on January 3rd. If Huckabee sails into the caucuses with a 15-point lead over Romney, but then Romney wins because his incredible organization gets more people to the actual precincts... then wouldn't that be a huge boost to Mitt "the Comeback Kid" Romney?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 12, 2007, at the time of 1:30 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 11, 2007

Read This Column!

Elections , Future of Civilization , God and Man In the Blogosphere , History of Moral Philosophy
Hatched by Dafydd

I rarely do this. You know I rarely do this, and you know why: I'm far too enamored of the sound of my own typing to spend my time hyping someone else's griping.

But I have to say, just click here and read this splendid piece by Dennis Prager... and I don't say this just because I'm trying to suck up to the man (not just because).

Just a para or three, for the flavor:

It is not for this Jew to define a Christian. I only explain evangelical Christian opposition to Mormons calling themselves Christians to make the point that even as I understand their opposition to Mormons calling themselves Christian, I equally oppose voting for anyone based on his theology. Evangelicals have the right to proclaim Mormons as non-Christians, but they hurt themselves and their country if they measure a candidate's theology. They should concern themselves with a man's theology only when choosing a religious leader. When choosing a political leader, theology should not count.

The reason is -- and I have come to this conclusion after a lifetime of interaction with people of almost all faiths and writing about and studying religion -- theology does not appear to have much impact on people's values. Liberal Christians and Jews share virtually no theological beliefs yet think alike about virtually every important social value. So, too, conservative Christians and conservative Jews share virtually no theological beliefs, yet they think alike about virtually every important social value.

Meanwhile liberal and conservative Protestants are in agreement on theological matters -- both believe in the Trinity, in the Messiahship of Jesus, on Jesus being the Son of God, on salvation through faith rather than through works, and more -- yet they differ about virtually every social value. Obviously, shared theology doesn't create shared moral or social values.

It is, of course, a meditation on those evangelicals and others who call themselves Christian but don't appear to practice much Christian charity... on those men who wear their religion on their ballots, and who loudly proclaim they can never vote for Mitt Romney because Mormonism is "a cult." (What do they think Christianity started out as, during the days of imperial Rome?)

It's a fine, fine hymn which every him and her should hear.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 11, 2007, at the time of 4:01 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

December 5, 2007

Pay Attention to These Polls!

Elections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Predictions , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Remember earlier this month, when we warned you to Ignore This Poll? Well that's still good advice; the Zogby Interactive online poll isn't worth the paper it's not printed on.

But that's blogporridge in the pot, nine days old. As of right now, we instruct you to pay attention to these real polls, as collected by our friend and old blogmeister, Captain Ed Morrissey; they all show Queen Hillary hemorrhaging support like a New Orleans levee in a mild drizzle.

Rudy Giluliani is also losing steam, Mitt Romney and John McCain are staying about the same, and Mike Huckabee is shooting up. I suspect the last will drop again, and I don't expect him to win Iowa (turnout is much more important in a caucus state than popularity in polling); but no question, this race is tightening considerably.

If Hillary loses Iowa and New Hampshire, she's a goner. Her only real strength is the aura of inevitability; lose that, and all you have left is the grimace-inducing, anti-charismatic, lamp-hurling fishwife of a reasonably popular but inconsequential past president.

I again note for the record that I have predicted all along that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-Carpetbag, 95%) will never be the Democratic nominee for president. I have never tried to weasel out of that prediction, and I'll stand or fall by it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 5, 2007, at the time of 1:26 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 26, 2007

Ignore This Poll!

Elections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Don't pay any attention to this poll showing Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-Carbetbag, 95%) running behind all of her major Republican opponents in the presidential race; as enjoyable as all the hype may be, the source -- Zogby Interactive -- is completely unreliable.

Sorry to burst the bubble, but John Zogby's "interactive" -- that is, online -- polling is execrable. It's untrustworthy when it goes against Republicans; and it's equally untrustworthy when it cuts in our favor.

Here is the key graf from the Breitbart story, and the only thing you need know about the poll:

The Zogby poll was conducted online among 9,150 likely voters across the United States between November 21 and 26, and carried a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point.

So yeah... among Americans who spend significant time online and are willing to answer polling questions at a web site -- Hillary now runs behind. But besides looking at an incredibly volatile group, it's also very small and highly unrepresentative of the voting population as a whole.

The Zogby online poll is very much like the infamous 1948 Chicago Daily Tribune poll during President Harry Truman's reelection campaign; the Trib conducted the poll by telephone, and it ended with Truman, newly reelected, holding up the election-day plus one edition of the Tribune with the banner headline "Dewey Defeats Truman."

And as Isaac Asimov pointed out, the poll was perfectly accurate: If the election were limited to only those people who owned telephones in 1948, then ultra-liberal Republican Gov. Thomas Dewey of New York would have won.

In the Zogby case, we do actually allow those who don't camp online -- in fact, even those who don't have computers at all! -- to vote for president; the poll is wildly unrepresentative... no matter who an individual instance of it supports.

Look, I do believe that current polling has an inherent partisan Democrat bias: They poll over the weekend, which favors Democrats; they overpoll big cities, which favors Democrats; and just in general, Democrats tend to be more willing to sit still for a call from a political pollster... Republicans are much more likely to hang up. Pollsters could fix this bias by simply asking party affiliation, comparing the percentages to the percentages in the districts in which they poll, and then weighting the responses accordingly.

But they refuse. Pollsters claim that respondents answer the party registration question not according to how they are actually registered, but according to how they feel about their party's candidates that day instead. In other words, suppose the Gallup poll calls a person who is registered as a Republican; if he likes the Democratic candidate better that day, he'll sail under false colors and claim that he's a registered Democrat. Ergo, when they get a big imbalance in favor of Democrats, that just means lots of Republicans like the Democrats better, and they're lying about their own registration to jump on the Democratic bandwagon.

I find this argument risible. For one thing, the imbalance exists even when the Republican wins the race. Do pollsters really want us to believe that Republican respondents are so down on the GOP that they falsely claim to be registered Democrats -- and then go ahead and vote Republican?

The more plausible explanation is that the heuristic that pollsters use to select samples of respondents tends to skew Democratic; therefore, they should weight their samples to match the partisan breakdown of the actual population of voters, according to previous votes. Picture this silly example: If Gallup polled exclusively at singles events, would that be a reasonable sample base from which to project an electoral winner? Of course not: Singles are much more Democratic than married couples. Alternatively, if they polled only at churches, that would be equally skewed towards the right.

It's not an exaggeration to say that the sample "makes" the poll. When the sample differs significantly from the population -- such as when it consists exclusively of people who own computers, spend much time online, and are willing to take the time to answer an online poll -- it loses all predictive value.

I do believe that Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and John McCain would actually be running ahead of Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham if the poll samples were more accurate. Alas, nothing by John Zogby can be counted as evidence of such.

But keep watching the polls; I suspect they'll start to change as the primary process kicks off. And in particular, when the two nominees are known, that's when we'll really start seeing some movement.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 26, 2007, at the time of 2:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 24, 2007

More On the Clintonian Culture of Corruption

Congressional Corruption , Elections , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

An innocuous AP story -- "InfoUSA discloses SEC investigation of company spending" -- hides deep within its bowels another serious indictment of corruption and incuriosity by Bill and Hillary Clinton about the likely criminal source of their donors' money. It's hard to believe the Clintons don't know about it -- assuming they read their own "home state" newspaper.

And even the New York Times itself goes to some effort to hide the real story from our eyes. Evidently, they're worried we might not have enough of a nuanced, sophisticated view to understand that there's really nothing to see here. But before blasting back to the dim mists of this spring, let's return to the Associated Press:

The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation into spending by database marketer InfoUSA Inc.

The Omaha-based company said in a filing Tuesday that it would cooperate with the SEC's request for documents related to expense reimbursement, transactions with related parties, some corporate expenditures and certain trades of company stock.

The company did not specify what spending the SEC is looking for, but a lawsuit two hedge funds filed earlier this year may offer some clues.

Ho-hum; MEGO; who cares... another company being investigated by the SEC, right? I never would have noticed this article had it not been reposted by Newsmax; and I never would have read it had they not given it a more revealing title: "SEC Investigates Co. with Clinton Links."

(As always with Newsmax, I distrust their objectivity; so when they post a story on their site, I always hunt for a more authoritative source. Since this International Herald Tribune version is word-for-word identical to what Newsmax reposted, I believe this is what AP actually moved on the wire.)

Reading further into the article, we see that AP unquestionably buried the lede; recall, the SEC is investigating InfoUSA because of allegations that surfaced in a lawsuit filed by a couple of hedge funds:

The lawsuit also questions why [InfoUSA founder Vin] Gupta used private jets to fly Bill and Hillary Clinton on business, personal and campaign trips, and why Gupta gave Bill Clinton a $3.3 million (€2.2 million) consulting contract.

According to the lawsuit, InfoUSA has spent nearly $900,000 (€607,533) since 2001 flying the Clintons to domestic and international locations and political events.

Has this previously been disclosed by the Clinton campaign? On its face, it would seem to violate campaign finance rules banning corporate (and union) political "in-kind" contributions to members of Congress. And that three-million dollar "consulting" contract to Bill Clinton could easily be seen as an end-run around the ban on direct corporate contributions to federal campaigns -- hey, it's not for Hillary, it's for Bill!

The Clintons insist that they did disclose and "reimburse" InfoUSA, and its Clintonista founder Vinton "Vin" Gupta, for some of its contributions, according to the New York Times version of the AP story; though so far, this is based entirely on the Clintons' word:

Mr. Gupta has been a major donor to Democrats and gave at least $1 million to Mr. Clinton’s presidential library in Arkansas. Mr. Gupta also took part in a June fund-raiser for Mrs. Clinton in Manhattan.

A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton said in May that all the flights connected to InfoUSA were reimbursed and disclosed in accordance with Federal Election Commission and Senate ethics rules.

Note that Hillary Clinton's campaign only claims that they reimbursed the air transportation; they say nothing about reimbursing or returning the multi-million dollar contract... to Bill Clinton. But Gupta has a long history of financial support of the Clintons, both as fundraiser and individual contributor, which bought him a night in the Lincoln bedroom and not one, not two, but three offers of appointment by President Clinton, only the last of which -- to the board of directors of the "prestigious" John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts -- did Gupta accept.

But the truly damning part of the AP story linked at the top is what else InfoUSA has been doing. Take a gander:

The company has come under scrutiny for its policies concerning the sale of personal information.

The New York Times reported in May that InfoUSA, which compiles consumer information and sells it to direct marketing companies and others, sold the names of senior citizens, including millions with Alzheimer's disease and others whom it identified as gamblers, with labels that said things such as, "These people are gullible."

The company has denied those allegations and said it does everything it can to ensure it does not do business with scam artists.

Curiously, this nugget did not find its way into the Times' version of the AP story. But perhaps they weren't aware of it?

That defense is a tad unlikely, when one reads this other NYT article, published way, way back -- in May of this year. The Times published what must be the definitive, multi-page article on the despicable, criminal behavior of InfoUSA (one of a series on corrupt corporations)... and gives us a much clearer view of the sort of folks who become top donors to Hillary Clinton's presidential and senatorial campaigns, and of course to Bill's campaigns and his presidential library (though the earlier NYT article leaves that part of the story unmentioned):

Bilking the Elderly, With a Corporate Assist

The thieves operated from small offices in Toronto and hangar-size rooms in India. Every night, working from lists of names and phone numbers, they called World War II veterans, retired schoolteachers and thousands of other elderly Americans and posed as government and insurance workers updating their files.

Then, the criminals emptied their victims’ bank accounts.

A 92 year old veteran of the Army during World War II, Richard Guthrie lost his entire life savings to thieves from India. And where do you suppose they got Guthrie's name and the idea that he would be a prime target for their scams? I'm sure you never saw this one coming...

Mr. Guthrie, who lives in Iowa, had entered a few sweepstakes that caused his name to appear in a database advertised by infoUSA, one of the largest compilers of consumer information. InfoUSA sold his name, and data on scores of other elderly Americans, to known lawbreakers, regulators say.

InfoUSA advertised lists of “Elderly Opportunity Seekers,” 3.3 million older people “looking for ways to make money,” and “Suffering Seniors,” 4.7 million people with cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. “Oldies but Goodies” contained 500,000 gamblers over 55 years old, for 8.5 cents apiece. One list said: “These people are gullible. They want to believe that their luck can change.”

Would the Clinton campaign consider "reimbursing" Mr. Guthrie, and all of his fellow "gullible" elderly, sick veterans and other victims?

The thieves would call and pose as government workers or pharmacy employees. They would contend that the Social Security Administration’s computers had crashed, or prescription records were incomplete. Payments and pills would be delayed, they warned, unless the older Americans provided their banking information.

Many people hung up. But Mr. Guthrie and hundreds of others gave the callers whatever they asked.

“I was afraid if I didn’t give her my bank information, I wouldn’t have money for my heart medicine,” Mr. Guthrie said.

Most of these listsellers, certainly including Mr. Gupta's InfoUSA, are well aware that they're selling to thieves and con artists; but they continue to do so, even after law-enforcement authorities warn them -- repeatedly -- who their "clients" really are. It's crystal clear to enforcement agencies that companies like InfoUSA know exactly what they're doing, and also know that the odds of them being convicted in court are quite low.

Perhaps especially if they have influential politicians in their back pockets.

Although some companies, including Wachovia, have made refunds to victims who have complained, neither that bank nor infoUSA stopped working with criminals even after executives were warned that they were aiding continuing crimes, according to government investigators. Instead, those companies collected millions of dollars in fees from scam artists. (Neither company has been formally accused of wrongdoing by the authorities.)

“Only one kind of customer wants to buy lists of seniors interested in lotteries and sweepstakes: criminals,” said Sgt. Yves Leblanc of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. “If someone advertises a list by saying it contains gullible or elderly people, it’s like putting out a sign saying ‘Thieves welcome here.’ ”

Naturally, this being the world of the elite media, there is no mention of the Clinton connection in the Times article about the horrific scams committed by thieves working hand in glove with InfoUSA. They never even mention that InfoUSA is run by long-time Clintonista Vin Gupta, or the efforts Bill Clinton made to get him on the government payroll.

But even creepier, the Times' version of the Associated Press article on the SEC investigation of InfoUSA -- which discloses the fact that founder Gupta is one of the Clinton's most prolific and reliable donors and fundraisers -- completely omits the following paragraph from the AP story and other papers' versions (e.g., the IHT version linked above):

The New York Times reported in May that InfoUSA, which compiles consumer information and sells it to direct marketing companies and others, sold the names of senior citizens, including millions with Alzheimer's disease and others whom it identified as gamblers, with labels that said things such as, "These people are gullible."

So the New York Times printed two articles about InfoUSA:

  • The first discussed how InfoUSA criminally preyed upon "gullible" elderly victims, including veterans and Alzheimers patients -- but didn't mention the Clinton connection;
  • The second, published six months later (when the first article would have dropped into the memory hole), discloses the deep Clinton connection to InfoUSA through founder Vinton Gupta... but never mentions the earlier investigative report on InfoUSA's aiding and abetting of criminals who prey upon senior citizens.

One would think that a top Clinton donor making millions of dollars by knowingly selling victim-lists of "gullible" elderly and/or sick vets to heartless con artists, who then bilk the victims out of their life savings, would qualify as part of "all the news that's fit to print;" but evidently, when it comes to the Clintons, the motto mutates to "all the news we see fit to print."

If blogs came with soundtracks, I think I would insert the infamous clip of Hillary cackling madly, as heard on Hugh Hewitt's show and your local "internets."

But of course, this is just another eddy of the cylone of coincidence that forever swirls around the Clintons, which always fascinates but never illuminates: from astonishing luck in cattle futures to mysteriously vanishing Rose Law Firm billing records (which reappear, equally mysteriously, in the residence wing of the White House), to the amazing number of pardoned felons -- like multi-millionaire Marc Rich -- who just happened, by merest chance, to have donated huge sums to the Clinton Presidential Library.

Nothing to see here, folks; it's time to move on...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 24, 2007, at the time of 4:39 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 17, 2007

Blood's a Rover

Elections , Iraq Matters , Liberal Lunacy
Hatched by Dafydd

Clay lies still, but blood's a rover;
Breath's a ware that will not keep.
Up, lad: when the journey's over
There'll be time enough to sleep.

A.E. Housman, a Shropshire Lad, poem IV

Over on his own blog, frequent commenter Rovin asks what I think the impact of immigration, illegal aliens, the failed immigration bill last year, and the drivers' licences for illegals position of the Democrats will be on the 2008 elections.

In general, I think it cuts slightly against the GOP right now, mostly because if they had passed the bill, they could have beaten the Dems about the head and shoulders for not building the wall. But immigration will not determine this election.

As it stands, if the GOP attacks the Dems for not building the wall, the Democrats can respond that when the Republicans controlled congress, they couldn't even pass an immigration bill with Democratic help. That reminds us of other GOP failures -- such as the failure to rein in spending -- that hurt the Republican argument that we're the adults.

The drivers' license question will not hurt any Democrat with Democratic voters; a few independents might be annoyed, but they won't base their vote on the question. GOP voters might be somewhat more motivated to head to the polls, increasing turnout. On this particular aspect (drivers' licenses for illegal aliens), slight benefit to the GOP.

Look for the Dems to propose a bill similar to what the GOP rejected in 2006, but with real amnesty (not the fake kind that conservatives pretended to find in the previous bill) and with little to no border security provisions. When the Senate GOP filibusters it, the Dems will try to ride that into electoral gain: "The Republicans won't even meet us halfway on immigration... it's 'my way or the highway' to Mitch McConnell!" This will help drive Dems to the polls; slight advantage to the Democrats on this particular aspect.

Added together, they mostly balance out with, as I said, a slight edge to the Democrats.

But I believe this election is going to be dominated by the Great Game being played out right now, where our military is winning a tremendous victory in Iraq -- while the Democrats are desperately trying to force defeat upon us by starving the Army. If the eventual Republican candidate can frame this issue properly, it can inflict a catastrophic blow not only on the Democratic presidential candidate (presumably Hillary) but upon Democratic swing seats in Congress.

The theme should be "they're trying to force another Vietnam-style, manufactured defeat on us, just like they did in 1974."

The biggest danger to the GOP is not that we'll sound alarmist; threats to national security are so serious in people's minds that they won't hold mere alarmism against us, so long as we don't sound hysterical. The biggest danger is that the GOP might be bullied by Democrats and their press gang into muting itself on this issue, so as not to sound "extreme."

Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice -- a marvelous saying I just made up. (I'm thinking of making up another one that goes, "Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue," but I haven't decided yet.) Let's grab the bull by the tail and look the facts in the face: I don't mean this personally or with any disrespect, but the Democrats surrendered to the Communists in 1974, and now they're trying to surrender to the militant Islamist terrorists in 2008.

In fact, I would love to see the following scenario play out during a debate between the Republican and Democratic nominees: They start arguing about national security. In a desperate ploy to save the Democrat, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asks a stupid question about global warming or some such asinine subject.

And the Republican, instead of answering, says... "If you don't mind, Wolf, we're having a serious discussion about national security. Sen. Clinton can decide which question interests her, but I'm going to stick with the important issue." Then he goes back on the attack against the defeatist Democrats, completely ignoring the global warming stupidity.

Heck, he could go ahead and make nearly the entire debate about national security... why not? Nobody ever won a war by "wishin' and hopin'." You win wars with brains, guts, and steel: the intelligence to come up with a winning strategy; the will to implement it and ride it all the way; and enough men and materiel to achieve victory.

Where are the Democrats on any one of these three utterly necessary resources? They have no plan for winning, no stomach for the fight, and they want to starve the Army to buy health insurance for the entire middle class.

Bang on the theme; force the Democrats to defend their wretched record. Be loud enough that they cannot just walk away. Force them to make the argument that imperialist America is causing all the problems in the world... it will only reinforce what we're saying about Democratic America-hatred.

If the Dems want to argue about who really lost Vietnam, great! That's a fight we can win. And far from being ancient history, we can bring it into the present by pointing out that they're doing the exact, same thing today.

Vietnam was an inevitable defeat? You mean, just like you think the Moslem terrorists will inevitably win this war? Vietnam was an imperialist war of aggression -- so what would you call the Islamist militants' attempt to seize Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan -- which has nuclear missiles -- and even France, Germany, and Australia? What do you call their demand for a world-wide Caliphate... with them in charge?

Our "Sister Souljah" moment will come when the GOP nominee has the guts to talk directly to American Moslems and call on them to join the fight against terrorism and extremism in the name of their religion:

Where are you? Where are the Moslem organizations? Are you going to let the Hamas front-group CAIR speak for you?

This is the American Moslem moment: Stand up, denounce all terrorists -- including the animals who kill Jewish babies in Jerusalem -- and join the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, or the Marines. Sign up with the CIA. Take back your mosques from the radicals and shake some sense into your children. More than any other group in America, this fight needs modern Moslems who love life, and who love liberty and freedom, more than they hate supposed "infidels" and "apostates."

And demand that the Democrats join in this call for national wartime unity. Make them squirm.

If they ignore the issue, then the GOP nominee should accuse them of starving our troops and not even caring how many get killed because of their fecklessness. "Pelosi, Reid, and Hillary Clinton won't even debate the issue... it's not important enough to them. They only want to talk about defeat -- and how much they can raise your taxes to buy more pork."

The lay-off notices that the DoD is going to have to start sending out to civilian employees of the military and to defense contractors, if the Dems keep up this tactic, will deal the Democrats yet another body blow: "The Democrats are forcing the military to shut down, all because they hate George Bush more than they love America."

I'm actually getting a bit more confident about the Congressional elections; I've always been confident about the presidential election. I assumed that the Dems would have learned their lesson and started listening to folks like Rahm Emanuel and John Podesta; instead, they're still listening to Nancy Pelosi and MoveOn.org.

  1. The more we win in Iraq, the more desperate they become to force a loss;
  2. The more desperate they become to force a loss, the more obvious they are;
  3. The more obvious they are, the easier it will be to portray them as cowardly and unAmerican in 2008.

I don't understand why they're doing this; but for as long as they continue, we need to pound on them for betraying American soldiers in the field. It's a powerful theme and one they'll be hard-pressed to refute (original definition).

At some point, if they stop, then we can sound the theme that "we forced the Democrats to come to their senses at long last; now let's hope the damage they did to our military can be reversed, before it's too late."

Follow-up with a series of GOP proposals to support the war and help the troops, and let's see how far we can push them -- incidentally pissing off their anti-American base and depressing their turnout.

I know this isn't the analysis that Rovin was looking for; but honestly, because of the stunning success of the Petraeus counterinsurgency, immigration isn't going to have much of an impact on the presidential or Senate races. It may have a larger affect on congressional and gubernatorial races; but those will be driven by unique, local situations impossible to analyze unless you're living in the middle of them.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 17, 2007, at the time of 4:31 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

October 30, 2007

Dem Prez Candidates Find Unanimity - Opposing Presidential Authority!

Elections , Hillary Hilarity , Terrorism Intelligence , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL, 95%), Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-Carpetbag, 95%), and ex-Sen. John Edwards have three things in common:

  • Each is a current (or former) member of the Senate;
  • Each is running for president... a.k.a. "chief executive";
  • Each claims he wants presidential power curtailed, making the president little more than a congressional catspaw.

How's that last one again? I think Hillary expressed it best (with a hat tip to Real Clear Politics):

The Attorney General is the chief defender of the rule of law in our country. After Alberto Gonzales's troubled tenure, we cannot send a signal that the next Attorney General in any way condones torture or believes that the President is unconstrained by law.

What exactly does this mean? The Democrats made the meaning explicit a few days ago, as we faithfully reported in Mucking About With Mukasey: When Democratic senators write "condones torture," you should read "refuses to declare the use of waterboarding anathema, forbidden under any or all circumstances, no exceptions."

Attorney General Designate Michael Mukasey, in his Senate confirmation hearings, has so far refused to declare waterboarding to be torture or to agree to forbid the president to order it (though how Mukasey -- who works for the president, not the other way around -- could enforce such a ban is left hanging). Thus, Clinton and Obama have both declared they will not vote to confirm him. Can't have an Attorney General who thinks the president is "unconstrained by law!"

But wait -- how is waterboarding related to the "rule of law," of which the Attorney General should be "the chief defender?" No bill declaring waterboarding to be an act of torture has ever been enacted into law in the United States. In fact, Congress has never sent such a bill to the president to be vetoed. While "torture" is banned, it is left up to the president to determine how to execute that law -- specifically, to determine what does and does not constitute torture, using broad guidelines contained in various acts and treaties.

But these Democratic candidates want to remove that task from the president's plate. Rather, they want the president's understanding of the laws banning torture -- Title 18, part I, chapter 113C, § 2340 of the United States Code, for example -- to shift with every shift of the majority wind blowing from Congress, without the tedious necessity of Congress passing bills that the president is willing to sign... or (in a pinch) overriding the president's veto.

What these candidates demand is that President Bush declare waterboarding torture for no other reason than that a majority of Congress considers it torture -- as if the president himself should have no say in the matter. The so-called Commander in Chief and Chief Executive becomes a congressional spokesman, fit only to echo the understanding of the law as enunciated by congressional leaders.

The president thus becomes Chief Executive Secretary to the majority leader of the Senate and the squeaker of the House.

On a related point, recall that Democratic senators routinely ask judicial nominees, during their confirmation hearings, how they will rule on various cases. In particular, they invariably ask nominees to federal district courts, circuit courts, and the Supreme Court whether they will uphold a woman's "right" to get an abortion, with the clear understanding that if they will not, or if they refuse to answer, that senator will oppose their confirmation. This is just as improper as demanding that an incoming Attorney General agree to congressional policy decisions that will bind the president as a condition of his confirmation; and it indicates a very disturbing pattern:

Democrats evidently believe that, while we have three coequal branches of government, one is more coequal than the others.

But it's not just my inference here; we can take the direct word of John Edwards. While Edwards has become almost a fringe candidate, he speaks for a great many other Democrats in the Senate and House. In his own statement rejecting Mukasey (though he has no say in that question), he included this paragraph:

Mukasey has also said that the president doesn't necessarily have to abide by acts of Congress. We need an Attorney General who will put the rule of law above the administration's short-term political interests, and Mukasey has already shown that he's unwilling to do that.

Sadly, Edwards actually appears to believe that a president must "abide by acts of Congress"... all of them. (The statement makes no sense unless we assume that Edwards meant to allow no exceptions; if exceptions are allowed, then anything can be an exception!) But what if a runaway Congress enacts a patently unconstitutional law? Must the president abide by it anyway?

Here is the scenario: Suppose John Edwards becomes president; and because of the Silky Pony's feckless policies, we are hit with another terrorist attack -- but this one is a widespread, distributed attack on America's malls. In 12 Gallerias across the country, a series of coordinated bombings kill 23,000 last-minute shoppers during Christmas week.

Al-Qaeda swiftly claims credit for the attacks, and within a couple of days, the attacker are identified; all are Arab Americans. In a spasm of rage, Congress passes a law ordering the immediate arrest and detention of all Americans of Arabic descent. President Edwards valiantly tries to stop the madness, but Congress overrides his veto.

He is now faced with a constitutional crisis: The act is clearly unconstitutional and should be overturned when the courts get around to hearing it. But they're in no hurry, just as they were not in 1942. So should President Edwards go ahead and implement this obviously unconstitutional act of Congress? Or should he exercise his authority -- and duty -- as a coequal branch of the government to ignore the act, on his own authority?

The point of the exercise is that "the law" is not solely determined by statutory law enacted by Congress: It also includes the Constitution, the bedrock law of our government, along with caselaw.

Likewise, Congress is not the sole arbiter of what the Constitution and the law require, either. The Supreme Court obviously plays a role; but so too does the president, in his capacity as the executor of the laws of the land -- including the most basic law, the Constitution of the United States of America.

But while Congress seems willing to include the Court into the club of those who get to determine what is constitutional, it is equally pleased to include the president out of that fraternal order. And since many senators also believe they should only confirm judges who agree in advance to decide certain cases in favor of the senator's position, these members of Congress quite clearly believe that Congress should be preeminent in determining what "rule of law" means. This tendency crosses party lines, by the way; cf. Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA, 43%), Lindsay Graham (R-SC, 83%), and everyone on the Gang of Fourteen.

This is almost an attempt at a slow-moving, bloodless coup d'état... well, "bloodless" in the sense that they do not openly espouse killing the president; but they do push policies that are likely to get a lot of Americans killed, in the guise of protecting their "civil liberties." From Hillary again:

We need to restore the nation’s confidence in the Department of Justice. The Department must once again defend our Constitution and the rule of law without regard to ideology and partisanship. And we need to protect the country from terrorism while also respecting Americans’ civil liberties.

It's not quite clear to me how waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- a Kuwaiti on the lam, who was captured by Pakistani troops in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, with or without CIA participation, and was transferred to CIA custody -- impacts "Americans’ civil liberties." Perhaps Hillary Clinton will elaborate when she's asked that tough question during tonight's Democratic candidates' debate. [Note for the irony impaired...]

In fact, I do not believe there is any evidence that any American citizen or legal resident has ever been waterboarded in order to obtain information. However, we have waterboarded many American soldiers and CIA interrogators as part of their training for either resisting that interrogation technique (in the case of soldiers) or using it on captured terrorists (in the case of CIA interrogators).

Also, at least one reporter, Fox News Channel's Steve Harrigan, voluntarily underwent three of the reputed five stages of waterboarding for a video report. Harrigan pronounced it "torture," but he also noted that just a few minutes after each session, he felt perfectly fine -- which makes his pronouncement a bit dicey, as all definitions of psychological torture I've seen, including the legal one above, require "prolonged mental harm" resulting from the session.

Others who have undergone it, including many military and CIA personnel, say it's not torture. The point is not to prove one way or another (though I believe it is not torture, and I would happily undergo it just out of curiosity) but to prove a much easier point: That waterboarding is a controversial issue with people of good faith and strong experience landing on both sides.

In other words, it's a perfect candidate for a case by case determination whether it's legitimate to use waterboarding to obtain intelligence information, based upon the criticality of the information sought, the particular person it's sought from, and any prevailing exigent circumstances. Implementation like this is precisely the purview of the Executive branch, not the Legislative -- which creates one size fits all rules for everyone -- or the Judiciary -- which decides ex-post facto whether information gathered can be used at trial; nobody has ever attempted to use a "confession" obtained by waterboarding in court as evidence at the confessor's criminal trial.

Whether or not to use waterboarding to obtain critical intelligence is a job for Super President, not Glacially Ponderous Judge or Mealy-Mouthed Congressman. But to the top three Democratic candidates for Chief Executive Secretary of the United States Congress, branches one and two need only ask Congress what they think, and then rubber-stamp the congressional leadership's decision... the president as puppet.

I wonder: How much of this do they truly believe and would actually follow through on if elected... and how much is just electoral hype in the never-ending Democrat hit single, "The Bushies Have Bushwhacked America"?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 30, 2007, at the time of 6:26 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 26, 2007

Cheap-Jack Way to Get Another Post Up

Elections , Hippy Dippy Peacenik Groove
Hatched by Dafydd

I really love this advert -- taken from the best line of the most recent Republican candidates' debate:

You can see it in all its glory (and embed it, whatever) here.

Say, look at that -- a three-minute post! (Hat tip to Paul at Power Line, who also used it as a cheap-jack way to get another post up. But we are all honorable men...)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 26, 2007, at the time of 5:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 25, 2007

Jindal Bells Ring In a New Era

Elections , Enviro-Mental Cases
Hatched by Dafydd

In a stunning victory that few expected so early in the Louisiana election process, Rep. Bobby Jindal won election as governor last Saturday (October 21st, 2007) by garnering more than 50% of the vote in a crowded field. Jindal will be the youngest governor in the United States at 36 years old.

(And contrary to apparently widespread belief, Jindal is eligible to run for president, as he is a native-born American, not an immigrant._

Our previous Jindal Bells post is here.

What may also be unexpected is the way that Louisianans have faced up to the catastrophe that is the current governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco; they now embrace the view that the Katrina disaster was largely a failure of state, not federal response:

Mr. Jindal’s victory over a state Democratic party weakened by perceptions of post-hurricane incompetence and corruption was expected, as he has had an overwhelming lead in polls for months. The incumbent, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, hurt by stumbles after Hurricane Katrina, did not seek re-election....

Mr. Jindal campaigned as a cautious reformer, promising a more ethical government, for example, with greater transparency from lobbyists and legislators. His extensive résumé helped him project an image of competence, as did his detailed if conventional policy prescriptions — both evidently appealing to voters here weary of missteps in government since Hurricane Katrina.

While it may be easy for those "on the spot" -- in Hollywood, Chicago, and DC -- to spout the traditional Democratic "Katrina Truther" storyline of a heroic Gov. Blanco begging for help from a cold and callous Bush administration determined to permanently evacuate all the blacks out of New Orleans (failing that, to drown them by blowing up the levees)... those ordinary people actually living in Louisiana cannot help contrast the cleanup, reconstruction, and building efforts in the Pelican State with that of neighboring Mississippi (the Magnolia State, in case you're interested).

While Mississippi has done a fairly good job of rebuilding -- enough so that the elite media seems uninterested in reporting on the progress -- Louisiana has lagged, and its citizens have noticed. But the lag is not universal; it's much worse on projects controlled by state and local authorities than on projects paid for and run by private individuals or companies -- and don't think the residents haven't noticed that, too:

Two years after the devastating floods that followed Hurricane Katrina, the rebuilding of New Orleans, and much of the Gulf Coast, has largely taken two paths: communities that have rebuilt themselves using private funds, insurance money and sheer will -- and publicly funded efforts that have moved much more slowly.

Federal, state and local governments have struggled to speed up the release of funds and restore infrastructure. None of the 115 "critical priority projects" identified by city officials has been completed: For example, New Orleans' police superintendent still works out of a trailer, as do most of the city's firefighters. And analysts at the city's crime lab don't have a laboratory to match DNA samples.

The delays have affected the poor the most — those dependent on government assistance to rebuild their lives. While middle- and upper-class neighborhoods have rebuilt using private insurance and contacts, residents of low-income areas such as the Lower 9th Ward and Holy Cross — roughly 20,000 of them — for the most part remain scattered throughout the region, their return uncertain.

However, it's not lack of federal funds, as the USA Today article suggests; by July of 2007, Congress had already allocated $128 billion worth of tax credits, loan guarantees, but mostly direct block grants to the states affected by Hurricane Katrina. The problem, as the libertarian Reason Magazine points out, is that nobody really knows how to spend that money:

So it's not a lack of funding that's the problem. It's spending the money. Under existing laws, FEMA can't simply write checks to Katrina victims. Some recipients would undoubtedly squander their funds, and there would be widespread fraud. This isn't idle speculation. According to the Government Accountability Office, immediately after Katrina hit, about a billion dollars of emergency aid—16 percent of the total—was lost to fraudulent claims. Even legitimately obtained pre-paid debit cards given to aid Katrina's victims were used to buy champagne, guns, tattoos, and porn.

Unfortunately, the other option -- the one currently in place -- isn't any better: government micromanagement of payouts. This is where you get the [Louisiana] Road Home program's Byzantine policies, which includes dozens of dizzying, intermediate steps between filing a claim and the receipt of funds and, consequently, the plodding pace of recovery we've seen over the last two years. Because of legitimate fears that money will be squandered, mismanaged, or lost to fraud, the money sits unused.

But while Mississipians seem by and large satisfied with the actions by Gov. Haley Barbour, Lousianans did not the feel the same about Gov. Blanco. In fact, opposition to her was so intense that last March, Blanco dropped out of her own reelection campaign. Thus ends the short, hapless career of Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.

In 2003, she beat Jindal 52-48 in an election marred by very questionable eleventh-hour ads Blanco ran accusing Jindal of throwing tens of thousands of poor patients off of Medicaid when he was Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals from 1996 to 1998. Considering the bitterness of that race, it must truly gall Blanco that she will be succeeded by the very man she worked so hard to destroy.

Jindal was also the top vote-getter in 2003's first round of voting; but this year, he did 20 points better, actually finishing above the 50% mark; thus the first round of voting is the only round... almost unheard of for a candidate who is not the incumbent and has never been governor before.

But the main change in Louisiana politics is likely to be on the ethics front. In most people's minds, Louisiana edges out Hawaii, Illinois, and New Jersey to win the prize as the most corrupt state in the union. The image is propelled by the state's history, from Huey P. "the Kingfish" Long to Rep. William "Cold Cash" (a.k.a. "Freezerburn") Jefferson (D-LA, 60%). Long was the governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932 (and nominally U.S. senator from Louisiana from 1931 -- yes, he was both governor and senator simultaneously -- until his assassination in 1935); William Jefferson is the Louisiana representative in whose freezer the FBI found $90,000 in cash.

Jindal insists that his first action will be to clean up Baton Rouge, the state capital, and then the rest of the state government apparatus. It's an open question whether the Louisiana State Legislature, heavily dominated by Democrats in both chambers, will permit an end to the corruption they have come to accept as a mandatory perk of public office. But I have no doubt that Jindal himself is sincere and will fight hard to legitimize his state.

And then, will this young, energetic, conservative, charismatic, born-again Roman Catholic Indian American run for the presidency? If so, he will make a formidable opponent to whichever old, entrenched, left-liberal, peacenik the Democratic Party nominates that cycle.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 25, 2007, at the time of 6:27 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

October 19, 2007

An Inconvenient Demographic Truth

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL, 95%) is on a tear. He demands the arrest and execution -- all right, he demands the firing of the head of the Justice Department's civil-rights division, John Tanner, for allegedly racial comments Tanner delivered at the National Latino Congress. According to Obama, the comments were "patently erroneous, offensive and dangerous, and they are especially troubling coming from the federal official charged with protecting voting rights in this country."

(John Tanner of the DoJ is not to be confused with Rep. John S. Tanner, D-TN, 55%.)

So what, exactly, did the hapless Tanner say that got Sen. Obama so het up? This is according to AP, which got it from YouTube:

John Tanner's remarks came during an Oct. 5 panel discussion on minority voters before the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles. Tanner addressed state laws that require photo identification for voting, saying that elderly voters disproportionately don't have the proper IDs.

"That's a shame, you know, creating problems for elderly persons just is not good under any circumstance," Tanner said, according to video posted on YouTube. "Of course, that also ties into the racial aspect because our society is such that minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first.

"There are inequities in health care. There are a variety of inequities in this country, and so anything that disproportionately impacts the elderly has the opposite impact on minorities. Just the math is such as that," Tanner said.

So was Tanner's remark evidence of a deep-seated bias against minorities? Is Tanner, as Obama so clearly suggests (though he's too slick to openly accuse), a racist? Judge for yourself:

When I watch that video, and when I read the transcript, I actually get the opposite impression: I think Tanner is too closely aligned with the Democrats on the race issue. First of all, he laments that blacks and Hispanics don't have as long a lifespan as whites -- and then he immediately attributes this to "inequities in health care."

This is a liberal slogan -- "slogan," from the Gaelic sluagh-ghairm, "battle cry" -- similar to "tax cuts for the rich" or "speak truth to power." Nearly everybody who utters the phrase "inequities in health care" is either a liberal or is quoting one.

Long sidebar

What inequities are those? Is he saying that doctors look at a black patient and say, "oh, he's black -- let's not treat him?" Is he saying that surgeons operate less attentively on "minorities" than on whites, making more mistakes?

He does not even consider the possibility that the shorter lifespans could have a non-discriminatory cause: Eating and exercise habits, rate of smoking and drinking alcohol, differing cultural norms of how often to visit a doctor for routine checkups, and so forth.

Much of the lifespan gap can be attributed to poverty, particularly for blacks: As of 2006, the non-Hispanic white poverty rate is 8.2%, the Asian poverty rate is 10.3%, Hispanic is 20.6%.. and black is 24.3%, nearly three times the white rate. It should hardly shock anyone that poor people often have inadequate health care... and not for lack of federal programs to offer health care to the poor; rather, because government-run health-care facilities and government-supplied health insurance is not as good as privately run facilities and private health insurance.

So are more blacks and Hispanics poor because of racism? I suspect a tiny portion of the gap may be explained by that; but most is explained by behavior and mindset. Poverty is not "the lack of money;" people can be broke but not poor. In a capitalist country like the United States, poverty is primarily caused by a poverty mindset -- thinking and acting in identifiable ways that lead to repeated economic failure:

  • Bad work habits
  • Violence
  • Substance abuse
  • Crime
  • Laziness
  • Lack of education (which means lack of interest in an education, as education is widely available)
  • Not being married (married couples have a significantly higher income level than singles)
  • Refusal to accept personal responsibility for one's own condition

Sadly, the black culture in America today tends to encourage, to a much greater extent than the white culture, exactly these negative traits: Poor blacks aren't poor because of their skin pigmentation but because of the lousy black cultural elements they have internalized.

The proof is that blacks who don't evince such a mindset tend to do very well in society and have no obvious "ceiling" -- as testified by Sen. Barack Obama himself, as well as Justice Clarence Thomas, Secretary of State and former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell, Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson, talk-show hosts Tavis Smiley and Larry Elder, tens of thousands of black executives, hundreds of thousands of black entrepeneurs, and the 2.5 million black families earning more than $75,000 per year... all of whom are just as black (racially) as those blacks in poverty. The difference is cultural mindset. (And notice that I didn't even bother listing any entertainers or sports figures.)

Among Hispanics, I would guess that a large portion of the poverty gap is explained by immigration status and by lack of English language skills; again, that is not racism, and it is remediable.

So let's get back to poor John Tanner (remember him? this post is all about him!) We've established that Tanner believes that the life-expectancy gap is due to "inequities in health care." This is not only wrong, it's a liberal shibboleth: If you don't loudly and frequently proclaim that racism is responsible for all the ills (in this case, literally) of minorities in the United States, I think they yank your ACLU card.

I convict John Tanner of harboring and expressing liberal ideas. If he is a racist, it's only in the liberal mode of assuming that the fate of minorities lies not in their own hands but those of their oppressors.

Was Tanner wrong?

But let's get to the meat of Obama's complaint. He lambastes Tanner's remark -- which, in case you've forgotten in all the excitement, was that "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first" -- as "patently erroneous, offensive and dangerous."

I cannot speak to whether it was offensive; if Obama says he was offended, I'll take his word for it. But being offensive is not a firable, uh, offense; otherwise, the president, the Court, and the entire congressional leadership (both sides) would be in the unemployment line.

Was it dangerous? Perhaps -- but I suspect Obama and I would disagree about which was the dangerous part: the bit about minorities not living as long as whites, or the explanation that this was due to "inequities."

So let's stick to the only Obama claim that is actually testable: Was Tanner's off the cuff remark "patently erroneous?"

AP takes a stab at answering this question:

It is well documented that black Americans - particularly black males - have shorter life expectancies than whites. But blacks do live to become senior citizens.

A black person born in 2004 had an average life expectancy of 73.1 years, about five years less than for whites, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Alas, this is risible. They look at the lifespan of blacks and whites born in 2004, who will not hit the "Social Security retirement age" of 67, typically thought to be the beginning of "senior citizen" status, until 2071, long after the period of enforcement of voter ID laws we're talking about today. But hold on, partner -- will the Social Security full-benefit retirement age still be 67 in 2071?

Hardly likely: As lifespans increase, causing a huge increase in the percent of living adults who are older than 67 (by then, they will probably outnumber working adults who are younger than 67), we will have to make radical changes in Social Security; it will collapse otherwise, for the obvious reason that one worker cannot walk around carrying two retired people on his back. Clearly, we will be forced to privatize the system; but we will also be forced to raise the "retirement age" significantly -- which makes sense in a world of people routinely living to 120 (or older).

So if it were really true that the expected lifespan of blacks born in 2004 were 73 years, that would almost certainly be less than the "retirement age" (for Social Security purposes) then. Fortunately, it's poppycock to assert that human lifespans will be so short seventy years from now. That expectation assumes that a life-expectancy curve that has been rising exponentially abruptly turned linear three years ago, and that there will be no stunning medical breakthroughs in the next seven decades. I believe it's far more likely that human lifespans will be measured in centuries by 2071.

In any event, AP completely misses the target: The question is not how long blacks will live by 2071. Tanner made his remarks this year, speaking in the present tense; and he didn't say "senior citizens" -- he said "elderly," which is quite different. He was not predicting whether minorities would tend to reach Social-Security retirement age 67 years from now; he was talking about how many lived to become "elderly" today.

Well... how many do? Again, we turn to the United States Census, the best arbiter of such questions. And let's take a stab at what "elderly" means.

I argue that 67 should not be considered "elderly" in the sense that Tanner uses the term. He isn't saying that people over 67 tend not to have drivers licenses; that's absurd. But at older ages, people do start having problems passing a drivers license vision examination; they start having difficulty driving and may lose their licenses because of too many infractions or collisions; they start being required to take driving tests each time they renew their licenses, and they can fail those tests.

If an oldster loses his drivers license, he loses his photo ID. He must make a special effort to get a new, different form of ID -- a state-issued ID card, a passport, something. The idea is that some portion will simply not care enough to get the ID, thus disenfranchising themselves.

(But of course, if the penalty for not getting new ID was the loss of the right to vote, then elderly voters -- who vote much more assiduously than youths -- would have more incentive to get the ID.)

In any event, the loss of driving ability is more associated with those over 80 than those aged 67. But let's be generous and give Sen. Obama the benefit of the doubt; let's say 70 and older is "elderly." To be 70 or older today, one must have been born in 1937 or earlier. So what was the lifespan of blacks, Hispanics, and Asians born then?

Alas, the numbers are sketchy that early; Table 27 (linked above) shows the figures for those born in 1900 and in 1950, but nothing in between. However, we can interpolate: The life expectancy for blacks born in 1900 was 33.0 years; for blacks born in 1950, it was 60.8. If we assume a linear increase, that would mean 0.6 extra years of lifespan per year of birth. Thus, blacks born in 1937 would have an interpolated life expectancy of just about 53 years.

Using the same rough interpolation model, whites born in 1937 would have a life expectancy of about 63.5 years. It should be obvious to all that the percent of blacks who are currently 70 and older will be much less than the percent of whites that old.

I don't have a similar table for Hispanics, but I would not be surprised if they fell somewhere in between white and black life-expectancy rates. Asians may well have longer expected lifespans; but they're a much smaller percent of the "minority" population of the United States.

The point of which is simply that Tanner's offhand remark -- was, in fact, factually correct: Blacks and Hispanics, as a group, do not "become elderly the way white people do;" they do, in fact, tend to die instead -- at a much larger rate than whites. It is a simple (and sad) fact of demography.

Clearly, even if a voter-ID bill had a significant impact on the enfranchisement of older voters, it would have a less-significant effect on blacks and Hispanics -- because fewer of them live to be elderly. And no scientific study I've heard of shows that whites and "minorities" of the same age have different rates of photo-ID possession.

Final thought

But somehow, I doubt that matters; nor does the strong likelihood that John Tanner, "head of the Justice Department's voting rights division," is in fact fairly liberal. I believe what really upsets Obama is not that small thing Tanner said in service to making a point about alleged and unnamed "inequities" in health care.

Rather, it is this:

Obama also criticized Tanner for clearing [approving] a Georgia law that requires voters to show government-issued photo IDs at the polls. It was upheld by a federal judge last month.

Opponents say photo ID laws will disenfranchise minorities, the poor and the elderly who don't have driver's licenses or other valid government-issued photo IDs. Supporters of such laws say they are needed to prevent voter fraud.

The Left profoundly believes, as an article of faith, that not only do voter-ID laws discriminate against minority voters... but that such discrimination is the core intent of conservatives who promote such laws.

Democrats and liberals believe that voter-ID laws will hurt them at the polls; which is true enough, since without the votes of aliens, felons, repeat-voters, and the dead, many fewer Democrats would hold office. But this doesn't require Republicans to be racists, as none of these types of people is a legitimate voter anyway.

But what the Left actually believes is that, for some odd and never explained reason, blacks, Hispanics, and single women don't carry drivers licenses. So any voter-ID law would turn away many valid voters who tend to vote Democratic.

I have no idea why liberals think that; perhaps it's the soft bigotry of low expectations rearing its ugly head again. But if true, and if that really were the intent of conservatives, then it would be reasonable to call conservatives racists and sexists.

The conservatives I know, however -- and even those liberals who support voter-ID, such as (I believe) John Tanner -- do not believe that such laws stop blacks, Hispanics, or single women from voting; rather, they believe it stops fraudulent voters from voting. There is no evidence at all that John Tanner is a racist... even though he supports voter-ID laws and even approved the one in Georgia.

But reality doesn't really matter, does it? Under the Democratic definition of racism, a person is a racist if his "victims" feel as if they have been racially abused, no matter what the "victimizer" did or did not do. As Alexander Meiklejohn said (or at least, it has been attributed to him), "Some crimes are so heinous that not even innocence is a defense."

So brace yourselves for another hellstorm of hysteria from the Left, led in this case by Sen. Barack Hussein Obama, the man who would be America's second black president.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 19, 2007, at the time of 7:40 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 12, 2007

The Shia Awaken

Elections , Iran Matters , Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

We've talked about this in previous posts -- for example, in The "Don't Make Waves!" Theory of Iraqi Politics -- but it occurred to me as soon as I began hearing about the "Anbar awakening" that the same dynamic would apply to the Shiite areas of Iraq: In short order, the Shiite militias were sure to go overboard in their thuggish, homicidal zeal, and begin brutalizing the Shia... just as al-Qaeda in Iraq did against the Sunni. At that moment, time would be ripe for a "Shia awakening," where Iraqi shia would turn on the militias that presume to speak for them.

Surprise, it's starting to happen... and even the New York Times has sat up and taken note:

In a number of Shiite neighborhoods across Baghdad, residents are beginning to turn away from the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia they once saw as their only protector against Sunni militants. Now they resent it as a band of street thugs without ideology.

The hardening Shiite feeling in Baghdad opens an opportunity for the American military, which has long struggled against the Mahdi Army, as American commanders rely increasingly on tribes and local leaders in their prosecution of the war.

The Times does a remarkable job (for the elite media) of fairly and in unbiased fashion describing the mechanism of Shiite discontent (apologies for the long quotation):

In interviews, 10 Shiites from four neighborhoods in eastern and western Baghdad described a pattern in which militia members, looking for new sources of income, turned on Shiites....

The street militia of today bears little resemblance to the Mahdi Army of 2004, when Shiites following a cleric, Moktada al-Sadr, battled American soldiers in a burst of Shiite self-assertion. Then, fighters doubled as neighborhood helpers, bringing cooking gas and other necessities to needy families.

Now, three years later, many members have left violence behind, taking jobs in local and national government, while others have plunged into crime, dealing in cars and houses taken from dead or displaced victims of both sects.

Even the demographics have changed. Now, street fighters tend to be young teenagers from errant families, in part the result of American military success. Last fall, the military began an aggressive campaign of arresting senior commanders, leaving behind a power vacuum and directionless junior members.

“Now it’s young guys — no religion, no red lines,” said Abbas, 40, a Shiite car parts dealer in Ameen, a southern Baghdad neighborhood. Abbas’s 22-year-old cousin, Ratib, was shot in the mouth this spring after insulting Mahdi militia members.

“People hate them,” Abbas said. “They want them to disappear from their lives.”

A mouthpiece for Iranian puppet Muqtada Sadr carefully explained that all of the Mahdi Militia members committing criminal violence against Iraqis are actually -- by that very act -- not members of the Mahdi Militia... a useful and fluid redefinition that allows the militia to slough off all accountability for the violence that continues, albeit at a much slower rate.

And as Sachi has argued many times in this blog, when Sadr does return from Iran (like the Turkish ambassador to the United States, Muqtada Sadr was withdrawn to his host country Iran for "further consultations"), he will not only find that the remnants of the Mahdi Militia don't want him or any of his "loyal lieutenants" back, but that there's no more militia to return to anyway.

I may as well go public with a bold prediction I have privately made to several friends: Big Lizards predicts that the Iraq insurgency is going to collapse much faster than anyone has publicly dared suggest. First AQI dangles at the end of its rope (there's a nice visual); now the Shia turn on the Mahdi and Badr militias. So who's minding the insurgency?

The collapse of the insurgency would have happened much earlier, in my opinion, were it not for the intervention of foreign forces. No, I don't mean the United States and the Coalition... I mean Iran's aggressive warmongering and the foreign hirabis from central al-Qaeda. Both Iran and al-Qaeda -- the latter may be funded by the former -- saw a national or ideological interest in fomenting a civil war in Iraq.

However, because of the essentially tribal -- not sectarian -- nature of Iraq, coupled with a cohesive Iraqi identity binding the tribes together, both Iran and al-Qaeda were unsuccessful; there never was a real civil war in Iraq... not even in 2006, after AQI blew up the golden-domed al-Askiri Mosque in Samarra on February 22nd. Both sects carried out a long wave of gangland massacres; but neither fielded armies or set up shadow governments.

As it becomes clear that there never will be a civil war, and that the Iraqis have turned against the joint insurgencies (Sunni against al-Qaeda and Shia against Iran), rather than being driven by fear into the arms of their Islamist "saviors," I strongly believe the principals will pull back. In the long run, neither has the resources to remain engaged in a losing war.

This will happen months before the November elections; and the victory in Iraq will play a major role. Simply put, the Democrats have some small nits against the GOP, but they're old chestnuts such as abortion and tax cuts; the only major new argument was over Iraq. In the 2006 elections, the Iraq war appeared to be a loser -- and so too were the Republicans. But they didn't lose as much as the Democrats had predicted; many voters took a "wait and see" attitude.

And good thing they did. If the war goes as I predict, and the very significant drop in violence we've seen continues, accompanied by a significant drop in the level of U.S. forces in Iraq (possibly to as low as 75,000) and a concommitent drop in American casualties, Iraq will increasingly and correctly be seen as a historic American victory.

Bear in mind, this is no guarantee that the voters will reward the Republicans: A Democratic President, Woodrow Wilson, and a Democratic Congress entered into World War I in 1917, won it handily in 1918... and in that same year, the GOP captured both houses of Congress. Two years later, Republicans solidified their congressional gains and added the presidency, all in a landslide. Even so, it's surely better for the sane party if Iraq is considered a victory, not a defeat.

Let's invite the Times to pen the Mahdi Militia's epitaph:

Ali, the Ur businessman, said he expected the Mahdi Army to be much smaller in the future. People simply do not believe its leaders anymore. “There is no ideology among them anymore,” he said.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 12, 2007, at the time of 11:11 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Le Duc Tho, Jimmy Carter, Yassir Arafat - and Al Gore?

Elections , Hillary Hilarity , Nobel Nitwittery , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

As you've all no doubt seen, the whispers turned out to be correct, for a change: Algore, in conjunction with the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, has won the Nobel "Peace" prize.

Now perhaps someone can explain to me what on earth global warming has to do with "world peace"...

Oh, wait; here we go:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said global warming, "may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth's resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world's most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states."

Well! Who can argue with that?

Drudge has already linked to speculation that this will propel Algore into the presidential race, a possibility that Friend Lee and I were kicking around recently:

All of Gore's body language and every answer he has given to questions about running have been to discourage the idea that he would become a candidate. But for whatever reason, he has declined to make a definitive statement taking himself out of the running.

Only he knows the reason for that. Is it just to play with the press and the political community and then revel in the absurdity of all the speculation or is it because he actually believes there might be a set of events that would make is possible for him to run and win?

I assume that if Gore does decide to run, his entire campaign will more or less revolve around implementing some draconian, Luddite shutdown of industry in order to appease the Globaloney gods. Will that, combined with his status as the angriest dog in the world, be enough to knock Hillary off her pedestal of clay?



Rantin' Al    Hillary Bugeyed

"Rantin'" Al vs. "Hell-to-Pay" Hill -- the main event!

I have long believed that Hillary Clinton's only political asset is the "aura of inevitability" that surrounds her like a foggy, opalescent soap bubble; a serious campaign kafuffle could puncture it. Within the soap bubble, an old and familiar dust-devil still swirls around Sen. Clinton (D-Carpetbag, 95%), like the cloud constantly following around Pig Pen in Peanuts: a curious Clintonian cacophany of coincidence, inside of which weird things just... happen.

  • A thousand dollars of aimless investment miraculously turns into $100,000 worth of cattle futures;
  • Billing records vanish, then just as mysteriously reappear after the statute of limitations has run;
  • The Attorney General of the United States abruptly cannot bear to appoint an independent counsel to investigate even the most well-founded allegations of gunpowder, treason, and plot;
  • Documents disappear from the National Archives and are destroyed, and the miscreant -- former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger -- not only gets off with a slap on the well-padded wrist, he ends up advising Hillary on national-security issues. Son of a gun! Wonder how that just happened to... happen?

None of these incidents has any real cause, and certainly nobody is to blame; they're just -- amazing coincidences. Nobody in the elite media would dream of questioning the First Lady or the senator (now) from the great state of New York; and like Mary Poppins, she never explains anything.

But this is possible only because of the magic bubbles that others have always lent her, hiding the cacophany of coincidence: First, President Bill prevented those prying eyes, for his own reasons, by coarse and vulgar threats. Then she was shielded by being the senior junior senator from New York, with all the political power that carries.

And now, the aura of her inevitable presidency -- created by the press, the Democratic primary voters, and even the other Democratic candidates -- shields her from questions she shies from answering and arguments she shrinks from debating, even during a so-called "candidates' debate."

But now, if Mr. Inconvenient Truth decides to ride his Oscar, Emmy, and Nobel steed into the Democratic primary (campaign slogan: "Re-elect Al Gore!"), how long before his rusty sword lances that boil of inevitability? There is real bad blood between the Clintons (especially Hillary) and the Gores (especially Tipper -- mee-ow!); I think the latter believe that all the money, political muscle, and attention lavished upon the former played a major role in the latter winding up unemployed and overweight in 2001. All the king's Carvilles and all the king's Begalas were so busy getting Hillary the Roman toga she was promised, in exchange for not divorcing Bill, that they were unavailable to help push Vice President Gore over the top.

I believe there is at least a 50% chance that the Democratic race for the nomination is about to go from Clintonian coronation to globaloney Gore-gasm in sixty seconds. If Rantin' Al Gore decides to throw his head into the ring, then all bets are off.

And who knows? I might even pull an incredible victory out of a prediction I had long since written off as failed. And that would make it all worthwhile.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 12, 2007, at the time of 3:50 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

October 10, 2007

Are We Going to HillaryFare?

Econ. 101 , Elections , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-Carpetbag, 95%) was roundly mocked for her "Hillsbury Doughboy" proposal, which she made before a forum hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus, to dig down deep into other people's pockets to send $5,000 to every newborn in America. So she dumped it as casually as she threw Billy Dale under the bus. What are black voters going to do -- vote Republican?

Now she has a new scheme to lurch America further along towards Socialism: She wants the federal government to pay $1,000 in "matching funds" every year to every (low-income) American who puts $1,000 in a fake, government-run "401K". What a wonderful, new way to create yet another government piggy bank -- in addition to Social Security -- that the liberals can loot whenever they run short!

(Nota bene: That's $1,000 matching funds to lower-income investors only -- under 60 Gs; higher-income investors, 60 to 100 grand, only get $500 per year in matching funds. $100 thou a year, and you're SOL.)

The tens of billions of dollars to fund this scheme would come from heavily taxing "large" estates. So let's think this through: We kill the rich and feed them to the poor, forcing middle-income people to liquidate family farms and family businesses, so that we can redistribute that (clearly unearned) wealth to the poor. Sounds familiar, somehow...

Let's call Hillary's new welfare program "HillaryFare" for short.

Of course, it likely wouldn't pass Congress; but that's not the point, is it? It serves to burnish Hillary's credentials with the all-important MoveOn.org, George Soros, "two Americas" crowd, thus further crippling the anemic campaign of the Silky Pony, John Edwards, and causing Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL, 95%) to become even more tongue-tied in debates:

While many Democrats would embrace an estate tax freeze, many Republicans and antitax stalwarts would oppose it, and Democrats would probably have a hard time passing such legislation in the United States Senate, where the party’s majority is currently razor-thin.

But suppose enough Democrats are elected that President Hillary is able to get this thing passed as she proposes it. Has anybody bothered to run the numbers, here?

Hillary boldly estimates that the whole pyramid scheme would only cost "$20 billion to $25 billion a year." Let's assume that half the "investors" in this government numbers racket fall in the under sixty thousand category, while the rest are between sixty and a hundred. Then the average per capita payment by the federal government is $750 per year; the total cost, allowing for about 40% in overhead costs (which is typical of government programs), would be $1,250 per person, per year.

The $20 billion to $25 billion that Hillary proposes for this, er, idea would cover only 16 to 20 million people (the way the Times writes it, it appears to be open to every person, not every family).

So what if instead, after a year or two, we have 40 million families taking advantage of the government's largess? It shouldn't be that tough to get 13% of the population to go for it; heck, even higher-income earners wouldn't sneeze at a guaranteed 50% return on investment. I would take it!

All right; with 40 million fake investors, now the cost is up to $30 billion of actual matching funds, which works out to $50 billion per year in total costs to the government. That's a lot of samoyans. But in fact, Hillary is far more grandiose -- though she keeps this part of the mathematics pretty close to her vest. Viz:

“We’ve got a lot of workers -- more than half in America right now -- without any employer-based retirement system,” she added, noting that the number included about 770,000 workers in Iowa.

Half of all workers in America: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics household data, "total employment" in the United States is currently 146.3 million (page 2, table A). So if half of those don't have an "employer-based retirement system," and those are the targets of HillaryFare -- then is she really planning on sending those $500 and $1,000 matching-fund checks to 73.15 million people every year?

That's $55 billion dollars a year just in matching funds; add in the overhead, and you get an annual price tag of over $90 billion each and every year.

But wait -- just like the Ginsu knives, there's more! Of course, the investment ceiling of the program would have to have its own growth curve; in ten years, $1,000 won't be worth what it is today. If Social Security and welfare programs are any indicator, that growth curve will be significantly steeper than the inflation index. So how long before HillaryCare is costing us $100 billion, $130 billion, even $180 billion per year in a new middle-class entitlement program?

So in addition to HillaryCare II -- where 25 year old children whose families make up to $80 thousand a year get government-run health-care plans -- the good senator more or less from New York also promises to put half the whole country on the government welfare rolls.

But all is not lost. Having learnt her lesson from the 1994 HillaryCare I debacle, Sen. Clinton now supports individual choice:

As with her biggest policy plan for universal health insurance, Mrs. Clinton cast her savings proposal in terms of choice: If Americans like their 401(k) plans and other retirement accounts, they can keep those, while those who lack any savings plan will have a chance to start one with government help and save $5,000 a year on a tax-deferred basis.

In other words, those who like HillaryFare better than their own retirement accoutns will be lured from private to public funding... just the way the new Democratic S-CHP proposal lures millions of families from private medical insurance for their kids to government-run health care. So it's not just the 73.15 million people above; we may well be paying matching funds to a bunch of people who currently do have an employer-based retirement system!

Can we go back to the $5,000 baby bounty instead?

You know, the way Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham is going, I fully expect that by this time next year... she'll be offering to buy our children at birth and raise them in liberal incubators.

Sen. Clinton has a simple philosophy about our golden years:

“Saving in the accounts will be easy -- it should not require a Ph.D. to save for retirement,” Mrs. Clinton said.

She's right, it doesn't take a Ph.D. It takes a village idiot.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 10, 2007, at the time of 3:18 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

October 3, 2007

New Hsus for Old

Elections , Hillary Hilarity
Hatched by Dafydd

So Hillary swamped the field by raising $27 million in the third quarter for her presidential coronation.

But I'm driven to wonder: How much of that money comes from actual contributers carefully weighing the alternatives and deciding on the Divine Mrs. C.... and how much comprises Norman Hsu-like bundled donations from reimbursed contributers, extorted contributers, and fake people?

Inquiring minds want to know -- and so should the Federal Elections Commission!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 3, 2007, at the time of 3:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 27, 2007

Identity Crisis

Elections , Politics 101
Hatched by Dafydd

This term, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case turning on whether it's constitutional to demand that voters present a picture ID card before voting:

With the 2008 presidential and Congressional elections on the horizon, the Supreme Court agreed today to consider whether voter-identification laws unfairly keep poor people and members of minority groups from going to the polls.

The justices will hear arguments from an Indiana case, in which a federal district judge and a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in January upheld a state law requiring, with certain exceptions, that someone wanting to vote in person in a primary or general election present a government-issued photo identification. Presumably, the court would rule on the case by June.

Before the law was enacted in 2005, an Indiana voter was required only to sign a book at the polling place, where a photocopy of the voter’s signature was kept on file.

This issue fascinates me because it touches on a critical philosophical difference: Is it unconstitutional to require voters to undertake a series of steps before they can exercise the franchise, merely because the people most likely to be too lazy to undertake them also tend to vote for one major party more than the other? For that is the real issue here:

Writing for the majority, Judge [Richard A.] Posner acknowledged that the Indiana law favors one party. “No doubt most people who don’t have photo ID are low on the economic ladder and thus, if they do vote, are more likely to vote for Democratic than Republican candidates,” he wrote.

But the purpose of the law is to reduce voting fraud, “and voting fraud impairs the right of legitimate voters to vote by diluting their votes — dilution being recognized to be an impairment of the right to vote,” Judge Posner said. And assertions that many people will be disenfranchised, or that there is no significant voter-fraud problem in Indiana, are based on unreliable data and “may reflect nothing more than the vagaries of journalists’ and other investigators’ choice of scandals to investigate,” the judge held.

In dissent, Judge Evans wrote that the Indiana law imposed an unconstitutional burden on some eligible voters. “Let’s not beat around the bush,” he wrote. “The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic.”

Of course, we already require such steps: Registering, for example -- though many activists now demand that this requirement too be done away with, allowing into the ballot booth anyone who shows up with the ability to sign his name (or someone's). But it's hard to believe that the Court would strike down an election law that includes the mere requirement that you pre-register. But that means they (and most people) accept in theory the strategy of requiring a certain degree of hoop-jumping before voting; we're only arguing about how many hoops and how high they can be mounted.

The judges on the 7th Circus split (surprise!) along partisan fault lines: Posner and Diane S. Sykes, in the majority, were appointed by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, respectively; while the dissenter, Terence T. Evans, was a Bill Clinton appointee. And as the New York Times hastens to point out...

In general, Republicans argue that identification laws reduce voter fraud, while Democrats oppose them on grounds that they lower the turnout among people who tend to vote Democratic.

Yes: convicts, illegal aliens, folks from neighboring states, and people who already voted six times that day. The mainstay of the Democratic electorate, without whom they would be a minority party today.

I confess I have little sympathy -- well, none, actually -- for the Democratic argument: If your party is going to derive at least some of its support by pandering to the scum of the earth, then you've no right to kick and scream when the scum fails to climb out of the gutter and vote.

The Times piece seems to be fairly even-handed, so let's turn to the real issue. Democrats argue that anything that makes it more difficult to vote will necessarily reduce voter turnout; in addition, it will reduce it more among the "poor," who tend to vote more Democratic; therefore (Democrats conclude) the law is unconstitutional.

But this argument is disingenuous, because it quietly assumes that the reason fewer poor people vote is that their grinding poverty physically prevents them from doing so: They cannot get to the polls because they have no cars, or because their Simon Legree-like bosses won't allow them to leave, or because the Gaza-like hellholes where they live contain death squads that will shoot them if they try to vote.

But this is nonsense on stilts. Nothing stops the poor from voting; most live within walking distance of their polling places; they can vote in the evening; we have no poll taxes anymore; and I have never heard of gang-bangers in the Bronx or East L.A. warning residents not to vote on penalty of a drive-by.

In fact, I am utterly convinced that older, married poor people have a significantly better voting turnout than teenaged and early-twenties middle- and upper-middle-income unmarried kids, simply because the latter group has an appalling record of not voting, no matter what their income. (Which I think is actually good, because the fewer people who vote, the better: I prefer that only those who really care about the issues vote, which disincludes that lot.)

"The poor" is an inadequate term, because there are really two classes of poor: A minority of the poor worked hard all their lives; but through a series of misfortunes or nasty government policies, they lost much of what they earned and now fall under the poverty line -- widows and orphans, workers whose employer went bankrupt, taking their entire pension with them, and so forth. These used to be called the "deserving poor," meaning they deserved to be helped by the more fortunate.

But then we have the large majority, who are poor precisely because they are lazy slobs, drug addicts, psychotic, or any combination of these. This group is the "undeserving poor."

It is the undeserving poor who skew the voting statistics for "the poor" as a lump: Fewer undeserving poor vote because the same sort of person who is too drunk, crazy, or lazy to work is equally uninterested in voting. In polls, if you ask them, they would certainly be far more Democratic and liberal (even Socialist) than the average population; but it's a canard to say they support the Democratic candidate, because they never remember to get to the polls, or else they think about it but decide to drink another bottle of Thunderbird instead.

If Indiana requires a picture ID to vote, the deserving poor will happily get one, if they don't have one already (which I suspect virtually all of them do). The undeserving poor -- who may very well not have drivers licenses, since that requires taking classes and passing a test -- will use the requirement as another excuse for not voting... and good riddance. That the Democrats want to cater to this group of ne'er-do-wells, brigands, scoundrels, bounders, pimps and ho's, drunks and the wasted, is a contemptible national disgrace.

The alternative view (of, e.g., Judge Evans) is that it's always better when more people vote, no matter whence you dredge up those extra warm bodies. I suspect they would prefer a law that sent poll workers into Skid Row (or as Friend Lee puts it, "Bums R Us") and had them shake awake the passed-out hobos and ask who they want for president. But do we really want people voting who literally don't even know that presidents are elected, let alone who is running and what their platforms say?

I surely hope that the Court takes this golden opportunity to reaffirm that voting is a right -- but one that entails a duty to show at least enough commitment to get some picture ID, so we're sure it's not one of those "mainstays" above whose maxim is "vote early, vote often," or who is voting while on weekend furlough from the Indiana State Prison.

But with Justice Anthony Kennedy, you never know; it could turn into a disaster if he sides with the Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter quadrumvirate.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 27, 2007, at the time of 4:31 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

September 23, 2007

Sheer Heart Attack in Mackinac

Elections , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Although Mitt Romney has seen much of his early lead evaporate in New Hampshire, he still leads the pack by an average of 4.7%, according to Real Clear Politics. He's ahead in Iowa by a whopping 16.4%. And he's the "favorite son" in Michigan, where Romney's father, George W. Romney, was governor in the 1960s; Mitt Romney leads the polls there by 7.6%.

As Hughitt has said, if Romney wins Iowa, New Hampshire, and Michigan at the very beginning of the caucus/primary parade, it will be mighty hard for any Republican candidate to dethrone him for the nomination.

This weekend, Michigan held a straw poll at what was advertised as "the biggest gathering of Michigan Republicans before their January 15th primary." So how did Romney do, exactly? According to Real Clear Politics, he beat the field by 12% -- more than half again as much as his lead in the polls:

The results, which come close to mirroring recent polls (Romney leads by 7.6% in the latest RCP Michigan Average) again show that [Fred] Thompson's rise to the top will not be easy. [Sen. John] McCain's second-place finish, despite a blow he suffered when Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox left his camp last week, may mean he still has some fight left in him, though he places fourth in the RCP Average. And [Rep. Ron] Paul, who beat out both Thompson and [Rudy] Giuliani, continues to show surprising grassroots-level support. Whether he can translate that into votes remains, however, to be seen....

Here are the official results:

  • Romney 39% (383 votes)
  • McCain 27% (260)
  • Paul 11% (106)
  • Giulaini 11% (104)
  • Thompson 7% (70)
  • Huckabee 3% (25)
  • Hunter 1% (12)
  • Brownback <1% (3)
  • Tancredo 0% (0)
  • Uncommitted 2% (16)

But according to another source -- Real Clear Politics -- Romney did poorly, was ill-received, and cannot generate any enthusiasm in Michigan:

Jonathan Martin reports on Mitt Romney's speech yesterday at the Mackinac Leadership conference this weekend:

In a lunchtime speech to over a thousand Michigan Republicans gathered here for a retreat, Romney cast himself as a "Republican for change" and told the faithful in a marked denunciation of his own party that the Washington branch of the GOP has lost its way....

Romney was reading from a teleprompter and punctuated his statement with emphasis -- clearly indicating that it was meant for applause. But there was none.

A bit later Martin says there was "an awkward moment when one person began to clap but nobody else in the crowd joined."

That doesn't sound like a very impressive showing, especially for a candidate who is the state's favorite son.

Oh fudge. We appear to have a tale of two Mackinacs. Will the Real Clear Politics please stand up?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 23, 2007, at the time of 2:05 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 28, 2007

Spin City, Here We Come

Elections , Immigration Immolations
Hatched by Dafydd

So, hardly surprising, the immigration reform bill is now dead. But before conservatives begin doing their best impersonation of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%) -- pumping their fists in the air and screaming "we killed the Patriot Act immigration reform!" -- we might want to think this through a bit more intelligently.

As you know, I have supported this bill all along; but given the reality that it's dead and buried and not going to rise again until (at the earliest) 2009 (under a new Congress and a new president), I now shift gears to try to mitigate any harm the bill's failure may have on future Republican election chances.

I know that some conservatives insist that killing the bill will have only positive effects; the whole country, weeping tears of gratitude, will rally around the Republican nominees in 2008 and elect a GOP president, Senate, and House. Please pardon me if I'm a bit skeptical that such a big chunk of the electorate is now cheering for the Republican congressmen who heroically skewered immigration reform... I suppose anything's possible, but I doubt it; and that's certainly not how the media are spinning the defeat.

I believe there is a potential for a serious downside effect among Hispanic voters, who have become an increasingly important and volatile share of voters: Ronald Reagan got about 50% of the Hispanic vote in 1984, and I believe Bush got over 40% twenty years later... but those days are behind us, and we'd be darned lucky to get 30% in 2008.

But since I believe people mostly make their own luck, we need to position the defeat of this bill in such a way that we make it much more likely we'll get 30% -- which could still make it possible to win -- than, say, 15%, which would mean a stunning Democratic sweep of both houses of Congress and the presidency. (In which case, kiss goodbye to the war against global jihadism and start pining for the Bush tax rate, the 109th Congress's spending restraint, and even the border security fence.)

The elite media have already started their own spin cycle. AP's version of "the story":

President Bush's immigration plan to legalize as many as 12 million unlawful immigrants while fortifying the border collapsed in the Senate on Thursday, crushing both parties' hopes of addressing the volatile issue before the 2008 elections.

The Senate vote that drove a stake through the delicate compromise was a stinging setback for Bush, who had made reshaping immigration laws a central element of his domestic agenda. It could carry heavy political consequences for Republicans and Democrats, many of whom were eager to show they could act on a complex issue of great interest to the public.

The Washington Post version:

The vote was a major defeat for President Bush, dealt largely by members of his own party. The president made a last-ditch round of phone calls this morning to senators in an attempt to rescue the bill, but with his poll numbers at record lows, his appeals proved fruitless. Bush has now lost what is likely to be the last, best chance at a major domestic accomplishment for his second term.

Chicago Tribune (from "the Swamp," whatever that is):

For President Bush, who invested much of what little political capital he had remaining in the effort to get the bill through the Senate, it was perhaps his last chance of his presidency for a significant domestic legislative accomplishment, further accentuating his lame duck status.

Well, you get the idea; it's divide and conquer: The Democrats and their willing accomplices in the media desperately want Republicans to start attacking Bush on every occasion, setting elements of the party at each other's throat. The New York Times wasn't too bad; but many other media sources have already spun this as a terrible defeat of the impotent, lame-duck president and a victory by hard-core, right-wing conservatives. And sadly, some of the relentless attacks on the president from conservatives have been harsher than anything published in the MSM.

To be fair, harsh attacks have come in the other direction as well, particularly from Sens. John McCain (R-AZ, 65%), Lindsay Graham (R-SC, 83%), and Trent Lott (R-MS, 88%). They need to knock off the bitterness, link arms, and hotly defend all those areas where they agree with other conservatives (which in McCain's case may well be just the war!) But for both sides of the GOP, the "first rule of holes" applies. And we cannot hope to win in 2008 by attacking our own president.

Honestly, people, this is not how you win an election. Too many conservatives are pointing to the election in France of Nicholas Sarkozy, proclaiming that the way for Republicans to win in 2008 is to campaign against President Bush, to be even more stridently anti-Bush than the Democrats will be. As a campaign strategy, this is absolute nutter stuff.

The Sarkozy analogy doesn't work at all; Sarkozy didn't win because he decided to attack Jacques Chirac; he decided he had to attack Chirac because Chirac, along with hand-picked successor and prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, had embraced policies much closer to the Socialists than the conservatives (the dominant party at this time, the UMP -- Union for a Popular Movement -- contains elements of both Left and Right); and Chirac's policies, especially economic, were in tatters. But Bush has never, as a general policy, embraced "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," as Sen. Paul Wellstone used to put it.

In the last presidential election in France:

  • Sarkozy won because he was running against a proud Socialist, Ségolène Royal, who edged close to Communism in some of her insane proposals.
  • Sarkozy won because the French, especially Parisians, felt themselves under seige by Moslem "youths" in their own country, with daily riots and 20,000 cars torched every year.
  • Sarkozy won because the French economy is in a shambles due to the Socialist policies of (among others) Chirac in his second term (he was more conservative the first time around).
  • And Sarkozy had to run against Chirac, because the latter had completely tied himself to the Socialist Left... probably because he so feared Sarkozy himself.

Jacques Chirac led the opposition to anything America did to combat radical Islamism, while Sarkozy rightly understood that the West had to unite against al-Qaeda. Chirac (former member of the Communist Party), in his second term, embraced the Socialists' economic plans, including the 35-hour week and virtual ban on firing anyone, even for incompetence. Finally, Chirac is well known to be utterly corrupt; were it not for the immunity granted to French presidents, he would have been indicted years ago.

But President Bush has done none of the above. On a couple of issues (notably immigration reform and affirmative action), he has tried to bridge the gap between Left and Right. But on most issues, especially the most important -- federal judges (which is paying major dividends right now), taxes, the war against global jihadism, reforming entitlement programs, abortion, stem cell research, faith-based initiatives, and at least recently, congressional spending -- he is firmly on the side of conservatives.

Sarkozy considered most of the government initiatives of the last five years a complete failure; since they were all intimiately tied with President Jacques Chirac, of necessity, Sarkozy had to run against him.

But conservative Republicans, no matter how angry they are at Bush today, in fact agree with nearly all of his major initiatives:

  • Aggressively fighting the war, expanding and rebuilding the military, and trying to transform it into a 21st-century fighting force;
  • Lowering taxes and making the cuts permanent;
  • Security measures such as the Patriot Act, the NSA al-Qaeda intercept program, the SWIFT surveillance program, National Security Letters, and so forth;
  • Allowing faith-based organizations to fully participate in charitable governmental functions;
  • Reform of Social Security, MediCare, and other entitlement programs to introduce at least some element of privatization;
  • The various border-security and employer-enforcement provisions of the recently killed immigration bill, all of which Bush supports (and none of which the Democrats support);
  • Appointing federal judges who believe in judicial restraint;
  • Firm opposition to abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, particularly federal funding;
  • Unwavering support for traditional marriage and opposition to same-sex "marriage".

The areas of disagreement, while often intense, are dwarfed by the areas of complete agreement; and in one of the areas of disagreement, federal spending, Republicans are just as complicit as the president and hardly in a position to throw stones.

We now invoke the Big Lizards self-evident article of common electoral sense: You cannot run in favor of the president's policies -- and simultaneously run against the president as an incompetent booby. If he's a booby, then his policies would be boobish... which makes you a booby for supporting them!

This poses no problem for Democrats: They call Bush an idiot, they call his policies idiotic, and they vehemently oppose both. But Republicans intend to run on most of the ideas above; they intend to point to the truly great economy as an example of Republican principles in operation; they intend to vigorously pursue the "Bush Doctrine" of holding sovereign nations accountable for what they allow terrorist groups to do on their soil, and suchlike.

How do you manage all that while "running against the president?"

The long and the tooth of it is that Republicans can only win by embracing President Bush... even while disagreeing on a few subjects important to them. In fact, even in areas where they disagree -- such as immigration -- it's political suicide to attack Bush's motives, his integrity, or to tie him too closely to Democrats... which I've seen a lot of in the past couple of months.

Folks may differ about what path to take; but John Cornyn (R-TX, 96%), Jon Kyle (R-AZ, 92%), and certainly President Bush have the same goal in mind: To drastically reduce illegal border crossings and overstaying of visas, allow in sufficient people willing to work at jobs that most Americans shun, and fundamentally reform the legal immigration policy to entice immigrants who are more assimilable and less likely to pose security threats.

Conservatives killed the bill because they believed it would not move us towards those goals; but the president pushed it because he thought it would -- not because he wants to flood the country with illegals and create an "open border" society. Republicans must not be seduced by a wish-fulfillment theory of the French election, lest we slay any chance of retaining the White House and recapturing one or both houses of Congress.

We might survive conservatives killing comprehensive immigration reform; but we would not survive conservatives polishing off the entire legacy of Pesident George W. Bush.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 28, 2007, at the time of 5:34 PM | Comments (37) | TrackBack

June 21, 2007

Picking a Blog Feud - Real Clear Politics

Blogomania , Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

John McIntyre of Real Clear Politics published a post today analyzing the fallout from the potential presidential campaign by former RINO, now IINO Michael Bloomberg, multibillionaire Mayor of New York City. His basic question was who would be hurt worse by such a run: Democrats or Republicans.

I agree with his broad conclusion -- that it hurts the former more in nearly all cases -- and disagree with his thought that under the circumstance of a Mitt Romney - John Edwards tussle, Bloomberg would hurt Romney more; but I'm mainly interested in one nugget that John tossed rather nonchalantly upon the table:

What makes this more intriguing is that the likelihood of Bloomberg getting in is inversely related to the strength of the eventual major-party nominees. A Romney-Edwards general election would be Bloomberg's best hope and in the unlikely event they are both the nominees I think a Bloomberg run becomes a near certainty, with a Bloomberg presidency a possibility.

If John means a Bloomberg win is a "possibility" in the narrowest logical sense -- for example, Bloomberg would win if uncontrovertible evidence emerged one week before the election that both Mr. Romney and Mr. Edwards were on Osama bin Laden's payroll as sleeper agents -- then I have no problem with this paragraph. But if, as I believe likely, John meant that there were reasonably plausible circumstances in which Bloomberg would win the race, then I think John is dreaming (a nightmare, I will assume).

There are only two ways to win the presidency (since Bloomberg won't be running as anyone's running mate):

  1. By amassing a majority of electoral votes;
  2. Or in the event that nobody does, by gaining an absolute majority (26) of state delegations in the House of Representatives.

(2) is politically impossible; no state delegation except perhaps New York would vote for the independent, as they are all controlled by either Democrats or Republicans (mostly Republicans), and Bloomberg does not have any national following anyway.

So let's concentrate on states that Bloomberg could plausibly win in the general election. First of all, he must win Republican states to win the presidency: Since the Republican won the last two presidential elections, Bloomberg cannot win with only Democratic states, not even if he gets all of them.

Second, Bloomberg will not get all of the Democratic states, because many of them (big states) are very liberal and will certainly vote for a liberal Democrat over a moderate whatchamacallit: California, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts alone account for 119 electoral votes, or 47% (!) of John Kerry's 252 votes; and they all went for the Democrat by more than ten points.

So the question reduces to this: How many Republican states can Bloomberg plausibly win? It must be quite a few, to make up for the liberal Democratic states he will assuredly lose. And here is the big problem: There were very few "purple" states in either 2000 or 2004. Defining a purple state as one where the spread between Bush and Kerry was 5% or less, Kerry took six purple states for 69 electoral votes, and Bush took another six for 73 electoral votes. Even if Bloomberg took them all -- itself very unlikely -- that's only 142 electoral votes, just slightly over half of what he would need.

In other words, to have any possibility of winning, Moderate Mike would have to take a number of conservative states away from the conservative Republican nominee and/or a number of liberal states away from the liberal Democratic nominee. How is that supposed to happen? Does Texas decide that Mitt Romney is too conservative, so they vote instead for that guy from New York City?

In the general election, I doubt that even New York state would vote for Bloomberg; though if he were very popular, he might split the Democratic vote there between himself and the actual nominee, handing the state to the Republicans (30% of the Democratic vote going to Bloomberg would do it, if the Republicans held their own). I doubt it would happen, however; New York liberals are not utter fools.

So respectfully, I think John's final, almost parenthetical comment -- that "a Bloomberg presidency [is] a possibility" -- is a load of peanut butter waffles.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 21, 2007, at the time of 4:14 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 9, 2007

Immigration as a GOP Talking Point in 2008

Elections , Immigration Immolations , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

With the deep freeze of the immigration bill, spin season begins now. We cannot afford to wait until the Democrats establish the storyline that the immigration bill died because "Bush didn't push the radical right hard enough;" that would be politically catastrophic for Republicans candidates in the next election, branded as both extremist and feckless.

The best position to take -- and the one that, coincidentally, is closest to the truth -- is that it was Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%), a Democrat, who pulled the plug on the immigration bill... not because there wasn't enough enforcement, but because it was becoming clear that conservative Republicans were making headway in getting more enforcement into the bill.

Democrats were upset at Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D-MA, 100%) deal to expand the list of criminal offenses that would bar illegals from getting a Z visa, which was the only reason that the similar but harsher amendment by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX, 96%) was defeated. And there were upcoming amendments, e.g., to force the deportation of illegal aliens convicted of crimes within the United States after they served their sentences and a good shot at revisiting the issue of "sanctuary cities" -- either in this bill or (more likely) via other federal legislation. (I can picture the campaign Democrats would have to run against such a measure.)

Republican supporters of the immigration bill were far more amenable to increased enforcement measures than were Democratic supporters; Republicans such as Sen. Jon Kyle (R-AZ, 92%) were the ones who insisted upon the strong enforcement measures in the bill in the first place, including the triggers. And judging from the mood of the country, Republicans might well have been able to increase the "trigger level" for the fence, for example, to construction of the entire thing, rather than just half, before any regularization could occur.

The other element that most bothered conservatives was that the "Parole Cards" (as Kyl called the provisional Z visas) were open-ended: Once an illegal signed up and got one, there was no inherent pressure to upgrade to a full Z visa; the only pressure was that it was a necessary step for citizenship, so only those immigrants who ultimately wanted to become citizens were motivated to move any farther than a Parole Card.

But with the pressure from not only Republicans but even Democrats and independent voters for much stronger border-security measures, I think it entirely possible -- especially as the bill worked its way through the House of Representatives -- that the Parole Card would have been given an expiry date, forcing illegals who received one to take steps towards actually undergoing the deeper background check, paying the larger fine, and having the head of the household leave the country in order to apply for the full Z visa (the alternative is to be deported when the Parole Card expires -- a strong incentive).

Thus, any reasonable analysis of the bill is that, in order to pass through both the Senate and the House, it would have to become tougher on border security and enforcement in a number of ways.

And the longer the process continued, the closer it got to passage, the more the onus would be on the majority party, the Democrats, to make whatever compromises and sacrifices were necessary to drag it over the finish line: With enough modifications, even former opponents like Sen. Cornyn and Rep. John Boehner (R-OH, 88%) could defend to their constituents. With the proper amendments, the bill would become very, very hard for Democrats to kill. (No, I don't mean an amendment to strip out everything but enforcement; that would be easy for the majority to kill without suffering any pain at the polls.)

So I believe the Democrats were becoming increasingly worried about the monster they had created by allowing Kennedy to bulldoze them into agreeing to the enforcement measures, especially "triggers," in the first place. I suspect the Majority Leader was starting to think the Democrats had made a big mistake by starting this snowball rolling... and if they didn't find some opportunity to kill it, it would roll right over them in 2008.

So Reid forced a pair of premature cloture votes, knowing that even Republican bill supporters would vote against them, since they had given their word to bill opponents to give them an opportunity to amend it. And when the second cloture vote failed -- even though it did much better than the first -- Reid seized the opportunity to pull the bill from consideration... and blame President Bush and the Republicans.

I believe we must move quickly to prevent the Democrats from spinning this as some "failure" of the GOP. Let us make clear that the GOP was willing to embrace any level of security to make the bill palatable to voters... but it was the Democrats who panicked and yanked the bill in order to prevent future border-security amendments from passing.

That leaves only one culprit for the failure of immigration reform... and he hails from Searchlight, Nevada.

If the president is incapable of communicating this to the American people (likely), then it's up to the Republican candidates for president to stop attacking Bush and stop attacking those Republicans who supported this bill -- and instead fix the blame where it rightly belongs: On the Democrats who demanded a "grand deal" as their price for border security, then broke their word when it looked as though they might get more border security than they meant.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 9, 2007, at the time of 7:24 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

May 15, 2007

Wow, What a Difference!

Elections , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

In the last debate at the Reagan Library in Seedy Valley, California -- the one sponsored by MSNBC and run by Chris Matthews -- I was so bored, I practically had to go the Fred Flintstone route, resorting to toothpicks to prop my eyelids open.

But during this debate tonight in South Carolina, sponsored by Fox News Channel and moderated by Brit Hume, Chris Matthews, and Wendell Goler, I was absolutely riveted. I especially loved the "unfolding scenario" at the end; it fascinated me that John McCain railed against what he calls "torture" -- but then said he would go ahead and use it in the situation they described! Talk about having your omlet and eating a few eggs too...

I liked the straightforward way that both Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney made it clear that they would use any means necessary to extract the information about where the other bombs were set to go off; and I cringed with embarassment when fellow Californian Duncan Hunter -- I think it was he -- misunderstood the scenario to involve the use of nuclear bombs.

Best line of the night, even better than Giuliani's smackdown of that malignant troll Ron Paul, was one of the third-tier candidates, I forget which one, saying that Congress was spending more money than John Edwards at a beauty salon. He should have gone whole hog and called the erstwhile vice-presidential nominee the "Pink Sapphire." ("Silky Pony" would have done as well; but I think we're way, way past the "Breck Girl" phase.)

And now for the prizes...

  • Romney gets the G. Gordon Liddy Award for most directly answering all questions put to him; if Wallace asked him, "do you know what time it is?" Romney would look at his watch and say, "Yes."
  • Giuliani gets the George W. Bush Award for speaking with the most mangled syntax and sentence structure, while still somehow managing to be understandable.
  • McCain's John Kerry Trophy is for the largest number of brazen contradictions between the head and the butt of the same sentence.
  • Fred Thompson gets the C. Aubrey Smith Illustrious Gold Medallion for acting the most presidential, even though he wasn't there. Or maybe because he wasn't there.
  • Sam Brownback gets the Claude Rains Clear Ribbon for... for -- wait, was he there?
  • Wallace and Goler get a joint Charleton Heston Accolade for conspiring to make Chris Matthews sound about as serious (and bright) as a call-in to Howard Stern.
  • Fox News Channel gets the Absent Minded Professor Prize for forgetting to change the broadcast schedule they send to cable companies to include this debate... which has been planned for months; this makes it tough for those of us who TiVo or otherwise digitally record shows, but I guess the geezers who run that cable network think that's a miniscule audience which can be ignored.
  • Finally, Ron Paul gets the Shoe-Scraping Globule for least desirable person in the debate. His almost belligerent refusal even to recognize that the 9/11 attacks might have realigned our national priorities, coupled with his nigh-Dickensian obsession (think "poor King Charles' head") with a splendid isolationism that probably played very well -- in Benjamin Harrison's administration -- makes me long to see the back of him.

    If he absolutely must participate in the next debate, let him do so remotely from his home... under some bridge in southeastern Texas.

I'm eagerly looking forward to the next debate... I mean the one between Dean Barnett, Glenn Reynolds, and Paul Mirengoff over which nth-tier candidates will drop off first, and which ones will cling on like Kang the Merciless.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 15, 2007, at the time of 8:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 15, 2007

A Winning Ticket?

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Over on my favorite blog, Scott Johnson takes a break from profiling third-oboeists in Pennsylvania Dutch oompah bands ca. 1911-1923 to enthuse about a possible Fred Thompson candidacy. His post got me speculating: I'm starting to think that a Thompson-Romney ticket might be a winning combination.

First, let's note that Thompson is 5 years older than Romney (65 vs. 60); thus, Romney saves a little face, since he can say that his time will still come.

And he may be right about that: In 2008, he will be 61; if Thompson serves two terms, then Romney could run as a former governor and sitting VP at age 69 -- not a bad presidential age at all, these days. (In November 2008, Sen. John McCain will be 72.)

If Thompson turns out to be authentically conservative, much of that good feeling among conservatives will spill over to his vice president, which would file off some of the rough edges of Romney's supposed "flip flops." And one or two terms seasoning as VP will surely help people over their morbid fear of a Mormon in the White House.

Thompson's only service in elective office is eight years as a U.S. senator; but he also served as a senior legislative aide to Republican Sen. Howard Baker, and in fact was the chief Republican counsel during the Watergate hearings.

In this wacky election, where the most senior administrator running on either side is a former mayor (New York city has a third again as many residents as Mitt Romney's entire state of Massachusetts), and where the Democratic front runners are a one-term senator, a 0.67-term senator, and a candidate whose primary claim to fame is that she used to be First Lady... I don't reckon anyone will question Thompson's experience -- at least, not in the general election.

Thompson is Tennessee's favorite son -- more even than Al Gore! -- and I can't see anyone, not even John Edwards, taking a single Southern state away from him. In fact, I think he would do at least as well as President Bush did in 2004, and that is self-evidently enough to win.

But I think the addition of Mitt Romney on the ticket could really shake up the race... as I think it will throw "America's lumbar" up for grabs: I refer to the Great Lake states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and even Pennsylvania, each of which went for Sen. John Kerry in 2004 by an incredibly narrow margin.

I think Romney can help with all four states; while he is a conservative, he is neither as brash nor as "folksy" as Fred Thompson. He's more of an "educated elitist" and of the political class, which might sooth the jangled nerves of Upper-Midwesterners and Midlanticers wary of another Southerner in la Casa Blanca. And of course for Michigan, there is also the memory of Romney's father, George W. Romney -- former chairman of American Motors and popular three-term governor.

Those four states boast 58 electoral votes between them, and taking even one or two of them could render the election of a Democrat completely impossible.

I'm not predicting anything, and I don't even know if Romney would accept being Number Two. But I'm just saying...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 15, 2007, at the time of 6:40 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

April 1, 2007

The End of a 28-Year Era

Elections , Tumescent Trivialities
Hatched by Dafydd

The point is only of academic interest, and only interesting to weirdos who thrive on a diet of historical anomalies, but...

Has anybody else realized that the upcoming presidential election will be the first one since 1972 to have neither a Bush nor a Dole on the Republican ticket?

Careful now, don't topple over with astonishment. Just think through every election from 1976 on, and you'll see what I mean: eight in a row.

Odd, eh?

(Slight corrections made to make the post clearer... thanks, SeanF and myself!)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 1, 2007, at the time of 4:43 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

March 31, 2007

Former Democrat Matthew Dowd Becomes Democrat As Election Looms!

Elections , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

The media madness continues, as the New York Times has found a new, er, scandal with which to bash President Bush and portray him as a hopelessly divisive figure who has destroyed America.

In a (presumably front page) story dated tomorrow, they interview former Bush "insider" Matthew Dowd -- once a Democrat, then a Republican, now a Democrat again -- who proceeds to spout every current liberal talking point to bash Bush. Alas, this does not appear to be an April Fools wheeze.

In 1999, Matthew Dowd looked at the field of presidential candidates and evidently decided that Gov. George W. Bush had the best chance of winning. Although Dowd was a longtime Democratic operative, he switched parties, joined the Bush team as top pollster, and helped elect him over Al Gore. In 2004, the Times claims that Dowd was named chief campaign strategist; but most sources say that Karl Rove held that job... and indeed, the Times agrees that Rove was Dowd's boss. Thus, I'm not sure what actual position Dowd held in the 2004 campaign... but he certainly worked to reelect George W. Bush.

But by 2005, Dowd's "doubts," which he had "suppressed," began to overwhelm him, he now says. He decided that Bush was a divider, not a uniter. Let's take a look at what precipitated those doubts...

Bush the uniter

In the beginning, what Dowd says first attracted him to Bush as a candidate was his stance on education and immigration:

“It’s almost like you fall in love,” he said. “I was frustrated about Washington, the inability for people to get stuff done and bridge divides. And this guy’s personality -- he cared about education and taking a different stand on immigration.”

But Bush's stand on both these issues is unchanged from 1999: Every budget he has submitted has pounded more and more sand down the rathole of the Department of Education; he has never repudiated the pro-affirmative action positions he took in Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244 (2003) and Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003); and he is still today pushing harder than ever for comprehensive immigration reform... even trying to work with the new Democratic Congress to get it.

Somehow, that no longer counts as "hands across the aisle" with Matthew Dowd.

Bush the divider

Now, Dowd sees Bush as arrogant and divisive, refusing to listen to the will of the people... thus forcing Dowd to publicly attack his former boss (and incidentally flip back to being a Democrat, just in time for the 2008 campaign season). What are the issues that drove him over the edge?

  • The September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks:

    "[Dowd] said he thought Mr. Bush handled the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks well but 'missed a real opportunity to call the country to a shared sense of sacrifice.'"

Right. Of course, we mustn't consider the numerous speeches he made doing exactly that, warning of a long twilight struggle against global terrorism, and calling on every American to show the same sort of vigilance they did in World War II; going into diplomatic overdrive to get as many nations as possible involved in the fight; pushing through laws like the USA PATRIOT Act; reforming the intelligence agencies; and ordering Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to completely redesign the military to fight the threat we face, rather than the threat we used to face when there was a Soviet Union. No "shared sense of sacrifice" there!

And one certainly cannot claim that the American people responded. After all, Bush had an approval rating fell one point short of 90% on several polls -- and it only stayed extraordinarily high for a mere ten months, until July of 2002, when it finally sank into the high 60s for good. That's peanuts compared to the response a Democrat would have gotten.

Bush managed to limp along in the low-60s right up through the run-up to the Iraq war... and then, when the war started, Bush's job-approval only went back up into the 70s -- not the high 80s. That's just bubkes!

His approval did not finally drop into the low 50s, high 40s until September 2003, when it finally became obvious that Iraq was not going to be like Afghanistan, that it was going to be a long, hard war -- just as Bush said it would be back in 2002.

I'm not exactly sure what Dowd means by saying Bush "missed a real opportunity to call the country to a shared sense of sacrifice;" an approval rating well above 70% -- which he had through much of this time -- is about as "shared" as the American electorate has ever been. But of course, I am only an egg, not a deputy chief campaign strategist, like Mr. D.

  • Abu Ghraib:

    "[Dowd] was dumbfounded when Mr. Bush did not fire Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld after revelations that American soldiers had tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib." [Where "tortured" here means "frightened and humiliated".]

Fire Rumsfeld? For what, exactly? The soldiers guarding Abu Ghraib were not following any Pentagon rules when they stripped prisoners, made them wear women's underware, threatened them, engaged in mock-execution theater -- and certainly not when Spec. Lynndie England herself reportedly stripped naked and paraded before the prisoners (and her own fellow soldiers).

They were investigated long before anybody in the news found out about it; in fact, Sy Hirsch only learned of the incidents at Abu Ghraib from the report that Maj.Gen. Antonio Taguba delivered to Lt.Gen. Ricardo Sanchez. Everyone involved was court-martialed, convicted, cashiered, and sent up the river.

Yet Dowd claims to have been "dumbfounded" that Bush didn't also fire his wildly successful Secretary of Defense, who had nothing whatsoever to do with any of this... at a time when the only people calling for his head were Democrats and the elite media. (I wonder; would Dowd also suggest firing the Secretary of Defense whenever a Navy ship runs aground?)

I begin to smell a rat...

Hurricane Sheehan

Dowd wants us to believe that after Bush was reelected in 2004 as a Republican, Down was convinced that the president would start governing as a Democrat; it was his disappointment that Bush remained a Republican -- and two incidents in particular -- that sent Dowd around the bend:

He said he clung to the hope that Mr. Bush would get back to his Texas style of governing if he won. But he saw no change after the 2004 victory.

He describes the administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina, and the president’s refusal in the summer of 2005 to meet with the war protester Cindy Sheehan, whose son died fighting in Iraq, around the same time that Mr. Bush entertained the bicyclist Lance Armstrong at his Crawford ranch as further cause for doubt.

“I had finally come to the conclusion that maybe all these things along do add up,” he said. “That it’s not the same, it’s not the person I thought.”

Naturally, the Times doesn't give us any details about the Hurricane Katrina charge; when serving up a tepid charge in a hit piece, it's always best to resort to vague rumblings about the target's "handling" of such and such; such accusations can never be disproven, unless the handling was literally perfect (which would only occur if we elected God to the presidency.)

The problem is that, when you really start to break down what the president did (and when he did it) before, during, and after that hurricane, you discover that the performance was far from being the bureaucratic disaster it is routinely (and falsely) painted by the drive-by media. In reality, the Bush administration acted swiftly, decisively, and effectively to minimize the Katrina damage and loss of life.

The mistakes they made were relatively minor, especially compared to the much larger mistakes made by soon-to-be-former Lousiana Gov. Kathleeen Babineaux Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (who squeaked to reelection in 2006 by 52-48 in a runoff).

Were it not for the Bush administration's rapid pre-landing response and post-landing followup, thousands more people would be dead.

So what exactly was it about Bush's handing of the hurricane that so saddened Matthew Dowd? I would love to know if Dowd still believes the long-discredited urban legends of multiple murders, rapes, and cannibalism in the Superdome...

And now we really get to the meat: Dowd was stunned that President Bush refused to meet -- for a second time -- with Cindy Sheehan, during the time she had become "the angriest dog in the world" (that's a David Lynch reference, not a comment on her perfectly average looks): camping out in front of Bush's Prairie Chapel Ranch, calling him the most vile epithets, accusing him of "murdering" her son, and in general, acting like an unstable mental patient undergoing an episode.

But Bush should have met with her, Dowd says, because...? He offers no reason.

Has he even thought through what would have happened had Bush met with her? She would have berated him, hectored him, lectured him, screamed at him, insulted him and the office, issued diktats that he could not possibly obey, and belittled Bush, the presidency, and the United States -- all on national TV. This would be live, if Bush were foolish enough to allow cameras at the meeting; or if not, then later, when Sheehan would gleefully have reenacted her tantrum for the cameras.

It would have been a PR nightmare, and it would certainly have further damaged the war support, already precarious. If that really were Dowd's advice at the time (which I highly doubt), then thank God he's out of the White House. Were I a Democratic candidate for the presidency considering hiring him for the upcoming campaign, that comment alone would kill the deal for me.

It's as nutty as saying that Bush should attend an anti-war sit-in. It's not merely bad advice, it's stupid advice. But at last, this leads us into the crux of Mr. Dowd's complaints...

The war thing

It really seems to boil down to the Iraq war. But there is an aspect of Dowd's change of heart that particularly disturbs me (repels me, actually): Dowd admits arriving at his new moral denunciation of the war for reasons as personal, if not as drastic, as Cindy Sheehan's:

His views against the war began to harden last spring when, in a personal exercise, he wrote a draft opinion article and found himself agreeing with Mr. Kerry’s call for withdrawal from Iraq. He acknowledged that the expected deployment of his son Daniel was an important factor....

“If the American public says they’re done with something, our leaders have to understand what they want,” Mr. Dowd said. “They’re saying ‘Get out of Iraq.’ ”

First of all, there is no evidence the American people are saying "get out of Iraq." They're clearly saying they not happy with the Iraq war.

But does that mean they necessarily want to immediately abandon Iraq, the Iraqis, and all of our allies, leaving Iraq to complete collapse, to become another failed state -- and a new training and staging ground for al-Qaeda?

Or do the people mean they want to start seeing tangible victories?

To paraphrase Hermann Göring, whenever I hear a man say he is the vox populi -- I reach for my airsickness bag. Oh, please, Matthew Dowd; nobody elected you to lead the American people; they elected (twice) the guy you're now trashing!

But what tore it for me anent Dowd and his fabulous bag of Bush betrayals is his admission that what really turned him so strongly against the war was when "he watched his oldest son prepare for deployment to Iraq as an Army intelligence specialist fluent in Arabic."

That was when Dowd "[wrote] but never submitted an op-ed article titled 'Kerry Was Right,' arguing that Mr. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and 2004 presidential candidate, was correct in calling last year for a withdrawal from Iraq."

This is repugnant. Dowd was not particularly opposed to the war when other people's sons and daughters were bravely volunteering to defend democracy and modernity against the most horrific butcher in the Middle East, a man who supported barbaric terrorists and who was in talks with al-Qaeda to develop a closer relationship; he didn't speak up when other people's fathers and mothers were risking their lives to create a stable democracy in the heart of the Arab ummah, to try to rescue 25 million people from the hell of the Non-Integrating Gap and nationbuild them into the Functioning Core instead.

No, Down has his epiphany only when his own son nobly (and voluntarily) undertakes that same mission. My God, how humiliated that soldier must feel, now that the New York Times is about to plaster his father's grotesque road-to-Damascus conversion on Sunday's front page: his own father saying that this brave and committed soldier is on a fool's errand, has been duped, and is walking into an unwinnable disaster.

Dowd, with his vast military experience, must certainly know more than Lt.Gen. David Petraus and the troops who are actually on the ground in Iraq -- including, most likely, his own son, whom the Times did not see fit to interview (or perhaps they did, and they simply decided it was not part of "all the news that is fit to print"). Thanks again, Mr. D.

Of course, it's only a coincidence that a new election looms -- with Democratic candidates who might win. I'm sure that realization never factored into the calculations that led Matthew Dowd to reconvert back to the Democratic Party and start publicly Bush-bashing. Nor his decision to parrot back all the Democratic, anti-Bush talking points.

After all, he assures us he has no ambition to be involved in this year's presidential campaigns; and Matthew Dowd is an honorable man. So are they all, all honorable men:

Mr. Dowd does not seem prepared to put his views to work in 2008. The only candidate who appeals to him, he said, is Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois, because of what Mr. Dowd called his message of unity. But, he said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if I wasn’t walking around in Africa or South America doing something that was like mission work.”

He added, “I do feel a calling of trying to re-establish a level of gentleness in the world.”

So after first being "converted" to the Republican Party by the prospect of a winning presidential campaign... now Dowd feels a "calling" back to the Democratic Party -- now that there's a Democratic candidate who might be able to win. A candidate with a message of "unity" -- and a rating from the Americans for Democratic Action of 95%, the same rating as has Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sens. Barbara Boxer, Chris Dodd, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and Pat Leahy... uniters all. (Obama's rating from the American Conservative Union is 8%.)

Yes, I can see how Dowd might be attracted to such a non-polarizing figure as Barack Obama; but that doesn't explain Dowd's divisive attacks on the man he worked for, until there were no more elections in Bush's future.

This is truly sad; but it's just one more example of the biggest problem that George W. Bush had and continues to have: He has an inexplicable urge to trust liberals and Democrats in key positions and as key advisors, from liberal Republican Colin Powell as Secretary of State, to Democrat Norman Mineta as Secretary of Transportation, to Sen. Ted Kennedy as a partner on education issues and the AARP on prescription-drug policies... to Matthew Dowd as chief pollster and later deputy chief campaign strategist.

Like the scorpion and the frog, we know how that always turns out in the end.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 31, 2007, at the time of 8:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 22, 2007

New Kid On the Bayou

Elections , History , Presidential Pomp and Circumcision
Hatched by Dafydd

Warning: This is one of my infamous "too much time on my hands" offerings...

Yesterday, we noted that Bobby Jindal still stands a good chance of being elected governor of Louisiana, even after Gov. Kathleen Babineaux "Blankout" Blanco dropped out, to be replaced (everyone assumes) by the much stronger candidate former Sen. John Breaux.

Suppose Jindal does win this year and serves a full four years. Then suppose he runs for president at the next opportunity... how would the "child prodigy's" age compare to our youngest presidents?

First of all, we must clarify what we mean by the youngest president. There is no question that John F. Kennedy was the youngest person ever elected President of the United States. Kennedy was born on May 29th, 1917 -- the first president born in the twentieth century *. He ran for office and was elected on November 8th, 1960. (The first Tuesday was November 1st; but Congress in 1845 set the date for federal elections to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November; thus, the election is never held on the 1st.)

John Kennedy was thus 43 years, 5 months, and 10 days old when he was elected. Nobody else even comes within two years of that age.

However, that's not the end of it. There is another way to become president besides following your own election; and indeed, when William McKinley was assassinated, dying on September 14th, 1901, Vice President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt became president without being elected.

Roosevelt was born on October 27th, 1858; thus, he became president when he was 42 years, 10 months, and 18 days old. Kennedy became president on January 20th, 1961 -- and he had aged 2 months and 12 days to the ripe, old age of 43 years, 7 months, and 22 days. Therefore, while Kennedy was the youngest ever elected, TR beat him into the office by 9 months and 4 days.

(Roosevelt was not actually elected until November 8th, 1904, when he was a doddering ancient of 46 years and 12 days.)

So back to Jindal. He was born on June 10th, 1971. If he were to be elected president in the next election after serving a single term as governor, that would be on November 6th, 2012; and he would assume the office on January 20th, 2013: Jindal would be 41 years, 4 months, and 27 days old when elected and 41 years, 7 months, and 10 days when he assumed the office -- easily beating both Kennedy for youngest ever elected (by more than two years) and Roosevelt for youngest president (by more than a year).

But if Jindal instead serves a second successive term as governor -- which has only happened four times in Louisiana history (though some governors have served several non-sequential terms, such as Earl K. Long) -- then Jindal would leave that office in early 2016. The next presidential election would be November 8th, 2016; if he won, he would have been elected at age 45 years, 4 months, and 29 days.

That would be almost two years older than Kennedy was, but still younger than Teddy Roosevelt, the second-youngest person ever elected president. (Bill Clinton -- born August 19th, 1946 -- was elected on November 3rd, 1992, when he was 46 years, 2 months, and 15 days old.)

Jindal would, in that case, take the silver medal for second-youngest person elected, bumping Roosevelt to third youngest and Clinton out of the medals at 4th. However, because of that whole assassination thing, Jindal would only be the third youngest person (45 years old) to assume the presidency, after both Roosevelt, 42, and Kennedy, 43; Clinton would be fourth in this race as well at 46.

(If Barack Obama were to be elected in 2008, he would be 47 at both election and inauguration, far out of the running.)

In either case, Jindal would be the first former Hindu president and the first Asian.

We needn't wait for 2012; there are records poised to be made in the upcoming (2008) election as well:

  • Obama would be the first non-white and the first former Moslem;
  • Mitt Romney would be the first Mormon and probably the richest president;
  • Hillary Clinton would be the first woman -- making her both first woman and First Lady;
  • And Giuliani would be both the first Italian-American and would have the record for the most divorced president.

The first divorcé to win the presidency was Ronald Reagan; James Buchanan was the only bachelor president to remain unmarried throughout his administration, but Grover Cleveland was a bachelor until a year into his first term.

* There is some controversy about the first president born in the nineteenth century: It's either Millard Fillmore, if you count 1800 as 19th century, or Franklin Pierce (1804) if you don't.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 22, 2007, at the time of 6:51 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 21, 2007

Jindal Bells - Blanco Fires a Blank

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco has just breathlessly announced that she won't run for re-election... which is about as surprising a piece of news as if George Bush announced that he wasn't going to run for re-election, either.

Fortunately for all concerned, she managed to get through the stunning revelation without crying.

This clears the path for no-holds-barred battle between Bobby Jindal and John Breaux. While it will be a much tougher contest than Jindal vs. Blanco (which would have been a landslide for the Republican), in a way, this is better: At least if Jindal wins, nobody can say he was a weak candidate who only limped in because he was up against the thoroughly detested Blanco; the win will actually mean something.

But a win is not a gimmie; Breaux is a tough candidate... and that is exactly why I'm happy that Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco has bowed out.

I know, I'm about to have my partisan credentials yanked. But I have said before that I'm a strong believer in the two-party system; and like Horton, I meant what I said and I said what I meant (an elephant's faithful -- 100%).

What's so good about the two-party system? At its best, we boil competing philosophies of governance down to the two most important coalitions, then batter them against each other until, after due consideration, one is chosen by the people in an election.

There are always many more than two sides to every controversial issue; but more than two major parties leads to electoral debacles, party sharing, coalition government, and all the woes that plague parliaments that have more than two main blocs (think of France and Italy). So we don't want three or four major parties. But on the other hand, one-party rule leads to a situation like Iraq and Syria (worst case) or Japan (best case), neither of which is an inspiring model.

But for the two-party system to work as advertised, we need several things:

  1. Two articulate defenders --
  2. Of two distinct philosophies --
  3. Each of whom is prima facie credible --
  4. To a voter pool willing to listen to both sides before deciding.

When any of those four is MIA, the two-party system skews wildly out of control. And Gov. Blanco's candidacy broke all four of those criteria, hence was a prescription for electoral catastrophe.

The voters had already tuned her out, as evidenced by the fact that, months before the election (this October and possibly November, not in 2008), Rep. Bobby Jindal (R, 92%) was stunningly ahead of the sitting governor:

The Democratic governor’s announcement ends months of speculation in Louisiana political circles, fueled by dismal poll ratings that showed her capturing barely a third of the vote against a Republican challenger, Bobby Jindal, a congressman from the New Orleans suburbs.

Her disastrous incompetence following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita meant she was no longer a credible candidate. What platform was she planning to run on -- that she promised not to be as dreadful as she was in her first term?

As the sitting governor, her primary campaign would have to be on her experience; but that was in fact a distinct negative... so she would have to fall back on some huge policy difference between her and Jindal. But the only real difference was that Jindal has a political philosophy, whereas Blanco is a political blank slate, concerned only with amasssing money for her cronies and campaign donors. She had no great initiatives, plans, or ideas; in fact, she barely even responded to the biggest one-two punch of natural disasters ever to hit Louisiana.

So no airing of two distinct political philosophies. And of course, the idea that Blubbering Blanco could be called "articulate" is not merely a joke, it's like laughing at a cripple. Next to Blanco, George W. Bush is Demosthenes.

But John Breaux is a different story. Here are a couple of contrasts to get us started:

Age vs. youth

Breaux is 27 years older than Bobby Jindal. In 1972, Breaux had his first congressional electoral victory... and Bobby Jindal had his first birthday.

On election day, Breaux will be 63, while Jindal will be 36. While Breaux has been around for decades, Jindal is something of a child prodigy: better educated than Breaux (including a Rhodes scholarship -- which, unlike the previous president, Jindal actually completed, obtaining an MA in politics from Oxford); a string of "youngest evers," culminating with a very credible and almost successful gubernatorial run in 2003 at the age of 32.

My guess is that the age difference is less important than the generational one: John Breaux was born during World War II, and he came of age during the "Camelot" era; his philosophy seems more than anything like that of John F. Kennedy.

Bobby Jindal was born in the throes of Vietnam, but he would have first become politically aware during Ronald Reagan's presidency, which lasted from when he was 10 until he was 18, his most formative years. I would be astonished if he were not deeply affected by the Gipper.

So it's Kennedy vs. Reagan in the mangroves... and I'd much rather see that than Reagan vs. Blank-out.

Philosophies of governance

John Breaux was always considered a "conservative Democrat;" that is, he supported tax increases, but nowhere near as large or as often as his Democratic colleagues. He was more or less pro-life and pro-gun, though he would nevertheless caucus with his party, even when it was run by wool-dyed liberals who were pro-choice on killing foetuses but anti-choice on killing rapists who attack you in your own home.

But I would expect Breaux, based upon history, to be more of a local-issues, retail-politics governor who probably would not intrude himself into national politics very often; think of a Democratic version of Haley Barbour, rather than a Bill Richardson, Janet Napolitano, or Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Bobby Jindal, by contrast, is much more of a committed conservative: a convert to Catholicism (from Hinduism; Jindal's parents were recent immigrants from India when he was born), Jindal is about as hard-core anti-abortion as one can be; the only exception being that he supports "emergency contraception," which many consider to be an abortificant. But his pro-life stance makes no allowances for the issue of rape, incest, or in cases where it's called a "medical necessity."

Jindal also has a 100% rating from the NRA. But the real difference, I believe, is that Jindal seems to have a larger goal than just being an effective governor; I suspect he intends to become president one day (he was born in Baton Rouge in 1971, so is legally qualified... unlike Schwarzenegger or Jennifer Granholm).

Jindal has mostly supported a pro-enforcement immigration policy; he has voted to withhold funds from the UN until they enact the Bolton reforms; voted to permanize the Bush tax cuts, the cap-gains tax cut, and the USA PATRIOT Act; and voted against setting an exit date from Iraq.

And most important to me, Jindal voted a resounding No on House Concurrent Resolution 63, the House Iraq Cut-and-Run Cri de Coeur. He was not one of the "Surrender-Seventeen."

(Neither Breaux nor Jindal has any military service, I believe.)

I believe the 2007 election will be won or lost on leadership and on ideas. I like both candidates (assuming Breaux runs; and why wouldn't he?) But of course, I'm rooting for Jindal.

So despite the fact that it will be much harder for the Republican to win with the Democratic candidate being John Breaux instead of Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, I still prefer us to win a tough race than essentially get a bye.

Contrary to popular opinion, a mandate does not come from a landslide victory; a mandate comes from an election between two good candidates, each of whom runs on a specific and well-articulated platform; the people speak, and that gives the winner the mandate to transform that platform to actual policy. With an election blowout due to competency issues, the only "mandate" the winner has is not to be as much of a cement-head as his predecessor was.

To quote a hero of mine, bring it on!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 21, 2007, at the time of 6:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 13, 2007

Hey - Let's Accept!

Elections , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Matt Drudge is running a link to this Politico post about Air America (do they still exist?) offering to host a Republican candidates debate in four states, "tweaking" (Politico's word) Fox News Channel:

Tweaking the Fox News Channel, the president of liberal Air America Radio this morning sent a letter to the chairmen of four state Republican parties, offering to host and broadcast the state parties' upcoming presidential debates.

Agreeing to the debate “would allow Republicans to differentiate themselves from Democrats,” Air America President Mark Green wrote to the Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina Republican chairmen in a deadpan communication provided this morning to The Politico.

This picks up on the dog's breakfast the Nevada Democratic Party and the Democratic candidates served themselves a few days ago by pulling out of a Nevada debate... because Fox News was one of the sponsors.

John Edwards, covering himself with near-Marcottean glory, was first; the Nevada Democratic Party pulled out a few days later because, according to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 100%), Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes cracked a joke at President Bush's expense, implying that Bush was too dense to know the difference between Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL, 100%) and Osama bin Laden (terrorist nutcase with delusions of godhood, 100%).

(No, I don't get it either. Why should Ailes making fun of Bush mean that Fox News questioners would treat Democrats unfairly? Somebody has slipped a cog here, and I don't think it's I.)

You know what, though? Mark Green is right! Accepting Air America's offer would absolutely differentiate us from the Democrats -- and show Republicans to be unafraid of debate, to boot.

Let's go ahead and accept... but demand a partnership with another ultra-liberal (but larger) media source, like CNN; and just like the Fox News offer, demand a mix of liberal and conservative questioners... but allow Air America to supply one.

I have complete confidence that Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Newt Gingrich, Fred Thompson, or whoever is in the debate will have no difficulty fielding a question or three from an Airhead America reporter; and that some insulting, offensive, "have you stopped preventing your wife from getting an abortion yet" question will actually enhance the appeal of whichever Republican responds to it with sang-froid.

Propaganda is a very powerful tool. Gee, I wish we had someone who understood it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 13, 2007, at the time of 3:24 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 13, 2006

How Many Times Can I Post "What Is Wrong With This Picture?"

Elections , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Is there a record I can break? Does Guiness keep track?

In the AP article (carried on the New York Times) about the Federal Election Commission (FEC) fining several 527 organizations for their political activities during the 2004 presidential election, we read this:

The group listed as Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth will pay $299,500. In the 2004 campaign, the group spent $20.4 million criticizing Kerry's military record in Vietnam. Much of the group's claims about Kerry's service were never substantiated. [I'm not even going to pretend to see if anyone can guess, since it's about as subtle as an Iranian president.]

MoveOn.org Voter Fund will pay $150,000. The liberal organization challenged President Bush on various issues in the campaign. The group spent $14.6 million on television ads attacking Bush's record.

The League of Conservation Voters will pay $180,000. The group ran ads against Bush and other federal candidates, criticizing their stands on environmental issues.

A few days ago, Patterico reminded me of an old Sesame Street song:

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong...

There is one and only one group on this list whose veracity is characterized at all... and AP simply asserts, without evidence, that the Swift-Boat Vets' charges were "never substantiated." No such claim is made about MoveOn.org or the League of Conservation Voters (which is a radical environmentalist group).

Yet in reality, the SBVT claims were far more extensively documented, substantiated, and proven -- by eyewitness testimony as well as Navy documents -- than most of the charges hurled at the Bush administration by MoveOn.org or the League. It's useless to argue that out now; start with John O'Neill's book Unfit for Command, and come back when you've read it.

Many of the charges come down to he-said, he-said: eyewitnesses on both sides directly contradicting each other. But contrast that with the virtually indisputable charges leveled against Bush by MoveOn.org:

  • That "Bush lied" when he said nobody expected the levees to break during Hurricane Katrina -- because he received a briefing that warned of levees overtopping;
  • That "President Bush promised that anyone at the White House involved in the leak would be fired.... That's why we're calling on him to fire Karl Rove;" in fact, Bush said he would fire anyone who committed a crime; it is MoveOn.org which is lying;
  • That Bush gave a speech "implying that Iraq attacked us in 2001;" Bush gave no such speech, and this is a fabrication;
  • MoveOn.org brags about heavily supporting and promoting Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11, which itself is riddled with lies, fabrications, and distortions of history and of Bush policies.

The question is not whether MoveOn.org is more truthful or less truthful than the Swift-Boat Vets, but rather that AP doesn't even raise the question of veracity with either of the two Democratic groups; only anent the SBVT. This is yet another indication that within the elite, drive-by media, liberal bias is the default mode, requiring no justification.

As such, I suppose this entire post is redundant, since we already knew this. So you don't have to read it (now that you have already read to this point). I did, however, enjoy writing it... so it served some useful function!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 13, 2006, at the time of 6:05 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

November 8, 2006

Tail of the Tape: Post-Mort

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

So how did Big Lizards do on our picks? Pretty well on the specifics; pretty badly on the overall gestalt.

I made 15 specific picks in House races -- either "certain Democratic pick-up," "probable Democratic pick-up," or "Republican hold."

Of those 15, two are still in limbo: GA-8 and NM-1.

  • I thought GA-8 would go to the Democrats; the Democratic challenger, Jim Marshall, currently leads by 1,682 votes, 50.5% to 49.5%, with 99% of precincts reporting.
  • I expected NM-1 would be a Republican hold; Heather Wilson, the Republican incumbent, currently leads her challenger, Patricia Madrid, by 1,303 votes, 50.3% to 49.7%, with 99% of precincts reporting.

If those races stay the way they are, I will have predicted them both correctly. Of the 13 other House races I predicted, I got 12 of them correct; the only race I predicted and missed was OH-15: I thought it would go to the Democrats, but incumbent Rep. Deborah Pryce beat challenger Mary Jo Killroy by 52% to 48%.

So in specific predictions, I will probably end up with 14 out of 15 correct, or 93%. However, where I erred was in believing that the 16 races I called "toss-ups" were true toss-ups... that is, that they would break 50-50; had they done so, the GOP would have won 8 of them; instead, we only won 3, and one is still in question (GA-12).

Since I predicted 14 net Democratic pick-ups, the extra five from the tossups would make it 19. But the Democrats will probably end up with a total gain of 29 seats... where are the extra 10? Simple: those are races I never looked at, because they mostly were not on the list of 50 most threatened House seats.

Thus, I had no chance to make a prediction on them. I have no idea how many I would have called, so I can't include them either as hits or misses. I did, however, predict the Republicans would (by a razor's edge) hold the House... and of course, they will be down by about the same margin they are up today: 232 to 203. So that is a failed prediction. (I'll take this one, because even without the "invisible races," just the extra five from the ones I called toss-ups would have thrown the House to the Democrats.)

On the Senate side, I didn't do quite as well: I predicted 13 seats; no seats apart from those in the batch of 13 changed hands, so I had all the threatened seats at my finger-ends.

Of the thirteen I predicted, I correctly called 9, I definitely missed 2, and I will probably end up having missed 4 altogether; thus, I probably got 9 out of 13, or 69% correct. But again, I missed the biggie: control of the Senate, which (barring a miracle in Montana or Virginia) will slide to the Democrats, though I thought we'd be fairly safe.

I think Mort Kondracke gets the Prophecy Award this cycle; he hit it bang on:

Mort sees the Democrats picking up the following Senate seats: Rick Santorum (PA), Mike DeWine (OH), Lincoln Chafee (RI), George Allen (VA), Jim Talent (MO), Conrad Burns (MT), and of course holding onto both New Jersey and Maryland.

That puts his Senate percentage at, oh, carry the 2... at 100%. It would be rare to do better than that.

Fred Barnes thought we would retain Virginia and either Missouri or Montana; I can't remember which he said. It's still possible, but I doubt it.

And that's the way it was, yesterday, November 7th, 2006.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 8, 2006, at the time of 7:57 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Alas, the "Other" Turnout Model Won

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

I said before that this was "a tale of two turnouts": I believed that the Republicans would turn out more than the polls were showing; the Beltway pundits like Larry Sabato believed that if anything, the polls were underestimating Democratic turnout.

Sadly for the GOP, it appears that Sabato, Mort Kondracke, Bill Kristol, and that lot were in fact correct: that is exactly what happened.

In the House, there were a bunch of races I called as "toss-ups;" nearly every one of them has gone to the Democrats, and they will end up with a 15-20 seat majority, a pick-up of 30-35. And in the Senate, there were five races that were razor close: Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, and Virginia; it appears that the Republicans will only win Tennessee, and the Democrats will have a 1-seat majority in the Senate -- though we're still not sure about Virginia.

This is almost exactly what Sabato predicted -- though actually, he only suggested a 27-seat pick-up in the House. In fact, Mort Kondracke will probably end up being the best prophet: I still don't know what he was smoking, but I think I want some of it!

So it's going to be an interesting two years. The Democratic control in the House may actually not be enough to push through any of the nutroots wish-list, especially over a presidential veto; but a single-seat majority in the Senate is still enough to bottle up any judicial appointments in committee (the new chairman will presumably be Sen. Pat Leahy, D-VT, 100%).

But how would it play in 2008 if the Democrats simply refuse to allow any judges out of committee, killing each one off by party-line votes? Suppose Justice Stevens or Justice Ginsburg (the two oldest) retires; if the Democrats keep rejecting without letting it go to the full Senate, could President Bush just recess-appoint a strict constructionist to the Court for a year?

(As Friend Lee says, "Hello, Professor Bork? Would you be interested in a short-term engagement?")

So we certainly lost, but we'll live to play another game in just two short years. I think I'll probably sign off for a few hours, let things percolate...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 8, 2006, at the time of 12:02 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The Tail of the Tape - Big Lizards Big Election Prediction Results!

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

NOTE: This post will be pegged to the top of the blog until midnight tonight, Pacific standard time (GMT -8).

New posts will appear underneath it! So be sure to check beneath this post throughout the day, if you don't want to miss a single scintillating sibilant of the slithering saurians.

Here are the tables of House and Senate predictions. As races listed on these tables are called by Fox News Channel, they will be bolded and possibly recolored.

If Big Lizards correctly predicted the outcome, the entry will be bolded and recolored green.

If Big Lizards guessed wrong, then the entry will be bolded and colored red or blue, depending which side won it; also, a marker will be appended indicating Big Lizards was wrong. (We hope there won't be too many of these, and all will end up red-colored!)

And if the race was listed here as a "toss-up," it will be bolded and colored red or blue, but no mea-culpa marker will be added. Remember: green always means "Big Lizards predicted correctly;" red or blue means either "Big Lizards blew it" or "Big Lizards was wishy-washy."

House of Representatives - competitive races

Legend: bold blue means an unexpected Democratic win; bold red means an unexpected Republican win; unbolded red or blue or normal-color italics means a toss-up that still could go either way (50-50), or just a race I haven't updated yet; bold green means Big Lizards guessed correctly (a tag saying "Big Lizards guessed wrong!" means just what it says):

  • AZ-5 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • AZ-8 certain Democratic pick-up;
  • CO-7 certain Democratic pick-up;
  • CT-4 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • CT-5 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • FL-16 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • FL-22 toss-up;
  • GA-8, formerly GA-3; Democratic hold
  • GA-12 Democratic seat, toss-up ~NRP~;
  • IA-1 certain Democratic pick-up;
  • IL-8 Democratic seat, toss-up ~NRP~;
  • IN-2 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • IN-8 certain Democratic pick-up;
  • IN-9 toss-up;
  • KY-3 toss-up;
  • MN-6 Republican hold;
  • NC-11 probable Democratic pick-up;
  • NH-1-- not even on the chart... ouch!;
  • NH-2 probable Democratic pick-up;
  • NM-1 Republican hold;
  • NY-20 toss-up;
  • NY-24 certain Democratic pick-up;
  • NY-26 Republican hold;
  • NY-29 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • OH-2 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • OH-15 probable Democratic pick-up; -- Big Lizards guessed wrong!
  • OH-18 probable Democratic pick-up;
  • PA-4 -- not even on the chart... ouch!;
  • PA-6 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • PA-7 probable Democratic pick-up;
  • PA-10 certain Democratic pick-up;
  • TX-22 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • WI-8 toss-up ~NRP~;

Senate - competitive races

Legend: bold blue means an unexpected Democratic win; bold red means an unexpected Republican win; unbolded red or blue means a toss-up that still could go either way (50-50), or just a race I haven't updated yet; bold green means Big Lizards guessed correctly (a tag saying "Big Lizards guessed wrong!" means just what it says):

  • AZ - Jon Kyl (R) vs. Jim Pederson (D): Republican hold;
  • MD - Ben Cardin (D) vs. Michael Steele (R): Republican pick-up; -- Big Lizards guessed wrong!
  • MI - Debbie Stabenow (D) vs. Mike Bouchard (R): Democratic hold;
  • MN - Amy Klobuchar (D) vs. Mark Kennedy (R): Democratic hold;
  • MO - Jim Talent (R) vs. Claire McCaskill (D): Republican hold; -- Big Lizards guessed wrong!
  • MT - Conrad Burns (R) vs. Jon Tester (D): Republican hold;
  • NJ - Robert Menendez (D) vs. Tom Kean, jr. (R): Democratic hold;
  • OH - Mike DeWine (R) vs. Sherrod Brown (D): Democratic pick-up;
  • PA - Rick Santorum (R) vs. Bob Casey (D): Democratic pick-up;
  • RI - Lincoln Chafee (R) vs. Sheldon Whitehouse (D): Democratic pick-up;
  • TN - Bob Corker (R) vs. Harold Ford (D): Republican hold;
  • VA - George Allen (R): Republican hold;
  • WA - Maria Cantwell (D): Democratic hold;

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 8, 2006, at the time of 12:01 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

November 7, 2006

On the Other Hand in VA...

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

...Did Michael Barone just say the absentees have not yet been counted in Virginia? He also said that the Republicans made a harder push for absentee votes than did the Democrats; if that accounts for even 10% of the vote, and if Allen wins the absentees by, say, 2%, he would take the lead (if this is all correct).

That's a whole 'nother ball of fish than trying to eke 2,500 votes out of a recount -- which would be virtually impossible. Sitting tight for now, though Missouri and Montana don't look all that good at the moment.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 7, 2006, at the time of 9:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

With 100% of Precincts Reporting, Webb Is Slightly Ahead in VA

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

...But it's going to a recount, so we won't know for a while. The margin is about 2,700 votes out of 2,000,000+.

I'm not going to call this until the recount. Hang loose, don't shed your skin...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 7, 2006, at the time of 9:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Washington Post Pulls Back From Cardin MD Call

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

We'll see if this holds up; but I thought it was too early a call. Fox News hasn't called theirs back again: it all seems to depend on how many black votes Steele can "steal" from the Democrats... and nobody really knows at this point.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 7, 2006, at the time of 8:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Democrats Winning Toss-Ups, So Far

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

I don't like how the toss-ups are shaping up. So far, the only ones I've been able to call have gone to Democrats:

  • CT-5
  • IN-2
  • IN-9
  • KY-3

On the other hand, at the moment, with over 50% of precincts counted, Republicans are ahead in two toss-up Democratic seats in Georgia, GA-8 and GA-12. So keep your fingers crossed!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 7, 2006, at the time of 7:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fox News Calling MD for Cardin - With Steele Ahead and Only 1% Counted?

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

If this turns out to be accurate, I'll be annoyed, of course; but with only 1% reporting and Steele 11% ahead, Fox News Channel is going ahead and calling Maryland... for Ben Cardin!

Sorry, but I'm going to wait to change the "Tail of the Tape" until we see a lot more precincts reporting than that.

Yeesh!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 7, 2006, at the time of 6:24 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Sprinting Over the Rainbow

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

There is a lot of "paint" in this post... so beware, slippery when wet! The previous seven predictive posts on the upcoming election are here:

There was a lot of activity in the last week before today's election -- both good and bad for Republicans. First, the House on the whole got a little less friendly to the GOP; so our final prediction for Republican losses in the House has increased a bit.

But on the other side of the Capitol dome, the Senate got a little brighter... and we reduced our final prediction for Senate losses accordingly. The final estimates are GOP -14 in the House and -2 in the Senate.

Here, as promised, is Big Lizards' final prediction chart for the House, sorted alphabetically by district. We noted holds only where we had previously listed them as possible pickups. Republicans enter this election with a majority of 232 to 203 in the House of Misrepresentatives (squashing the lone "Independent" Rep. S. into the Democrats, where he caucuses -- sometimes in broad daylight and without any shame).

Legend: bold blue means a definite Democratic pick-up; italic blue means a probable Democratic pick-up; normal-weight blue means a likely Democratic hold; normal-weight red means a likely Republican hold; and normal-color italics means a toss-up that could go either way (50-50):

  • AZ-05 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • AZ-8 certain Democratic pick-up;
  • CO-7 certain Democratic pick-up;
  • CT-04 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • CT-5 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • FL-16 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • FL-22 toss-up;
  • GA-8, formerly GA-3; Democratic hold
  • GA-12 Democratic seat, toss-up ~NRP~;
  • IA-1 certain Democratic pick-up;
  • IL-8 Democratic seat, toss-up ~NRP~;
  • IN-2 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • IN-8 certain Democratic pick-up;
  • IN-09 toss-up;
  • KY-03 toss-up;
  • MN-6 Republican hold;
  • NC-11 probable Democratic pick-up;
  • NH-2 probable Democratic pick-up;
  • NM-1 Republican hold;
  • NY-20 toss-up;
  • NY-24 certain Democratic pick-up;
  • NY-26 Republican hold;
  • NY-29 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • OH-02 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • OH-15 probable Democratic pick-up;
  • OH-18 probable Democratic pick-up;
  • PA-6 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • PA-7 probable Democratic pick-up;
  • PA-10 certain Democratic pick-up;
  • TX-22 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • WI-08 toss-up ~NRP~;

But there is yet one more complication: in the past week, a number of polls have moved significantly towards the Republicans -- both the generic congressional poll and also some of the more recent polling in individual Senate races. In most districts, no polls have been conducted since October 26th, before this movement; thus, we do not know what the polls would look like today if polling had been conducted in each district this last week.

But just because we don't know doesn't mean we can ignore it. The movement in some polls was significant. So what to do, what to do? First, I decided that the movement would only really affect districts that were already toss-ups; I have marked the twelve toss-up districts with no recent polling thus: ~NRP~

I picked two different ways to take this "invisible movement" into account: in one approximation, I assumed that only one out of ever six such districts would show enough drift to the right to move from toss-up to Republican hold (12 districts, 2 would shift, which would add 1 to the Republican total... because of the two toss-ups that shift to holds, statistically, one would have been held by the GOP anyway).

In the other approximation, I assumed that one out of every three would do so (4 shifts, which would add 2 to the Republican total). This drift will be factored into the final range below.

As you can see (if you care to count), there are 6 certain Democratic pick-ups, 5 probable Democratic pick-up, and 14 Republican seats that are toss-ups; however, there are also two Democratic seats that are toss-ups, which cancel out two of the others, leaving only a net 12 toss-ups. (The one Democratic seat listed as "leans Democrat" doesn't change anything.) So here are our two approximation formulas, one where 2/3rds of the "lean Democrat" seats switch, the other where 3/4ths of them switch. In each case, half of the toss-ups switch, which means another 6:

Republican losses, low and high estimate:

  1. Low: 6 certain + (2/3 X 5 leaners) + 6 toss-ups = 15.33, which means 15;
  2. High: 6 certain + (3/4 X 5 leaners) + 6 toss-ups = 15.75, which means 16.

But from the low, we must subtract 2 seats for the "invisible movement" factor; and from the high, we subtract only one seat... so the actual range is 13 to 15, with a mid-point of 14 net seats switching from the Republicans to the Democrats. This will leave the Republicans with a razor-thin and probably unmanageable majority of 218 to 216 -- ouch!

Thus, Republican "control," if you want to call it that, of the House will be balanced on a knife-edge: the slightest jar to the left, and it will be the Democrats who have the unmanageable majority. But unmanageable or not, they'll have control of the committee chairmanships -- and then Katie, bar the door, as Sam Donaldson used to say on This Week With David Brinkley, when it still was "with David Brinkley."

(As a secondary prophecy, Big Lizards predicts that if the GOP holds on, the Democrats will frantically offer all sorts of inducements to moderate Republicans to change parties, or at least to vote Democratic in the House organization. But the Democrats will ultimately be unsuccessful in finding a "faithless Republican representative." Why? Because the Republicans know that it's very likely that 2008 will see the Republicans return to the majority -- especially if Democrats get hold of the House and spend two years "investigating" every aspect of the Bush administration. Nobody wants to turn his coat and then find himself back in the minority in two years... just ask Jim Jeffords!)

Note that the next post on Big Lizards will be pegged to the top of the page all day... so be sure to read below it for more new posts!

It will duplicate the chart above (and the Senate chart below)... but periodically throughout the day, as Fox News Channel calls races that are on this chart, the entries will be altered:

If Big Lizards correctly predicted the outcome, the entry will be bolded and recolored green.

If Big Lizards guessed wrong, then the entry will be bolded and colored red or blue, depending which side won it; also, a marker will be appended indicating Big Lizards was wrong. (We hope there won't be too many of these, and all will end up red-colored!)

For example, here is a mini-chart before voting begins:

  • CO-97 certain Democratic pick-up;
  • OH-112 Republican hold;
  • OH-118 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • GA-88 probable Democratic pick-up;

When CO-97 and OH-112 are called, the first for the Democrats, the second for the Republicans:

  • CO-97 certain Democratic pick-up;
  • OH-112 Republican hold;
  • OH-118 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • GA-88 probable Democratic pick-up;

When the GOP unexpectedly takes GA-88 (note OH-118 still hasn't been called):

  • CO-97 certain Democratic pick-up;
  • OH-112 Republican hold;
  • OH-118 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • GA-88 probable Democratic pick-up; -- Big Lizards guessed wrong!

When OH-118 is finally called:

  • CO-97 certain Democratic pick-up;
  • OH-112 Republican hold;
  • OH-118 toss-up ~NRP~;
  • GA-88 probable Democratic pick-up; -- Big Lizards guessed wrong!

Note there is no mea culpa after the OH-118 entry; this is because we didn't guess wrong... it was a toss-up. But by the same reasoning, we didn't guess right, either, so there is no green.

Now we turn to the Senate, where the news is actually better than last week's prediction.

Here is the Senate chart, alphabetical by state. There are no probables here; we forced ourselves to pick Republican or Democrat for each state. Going in, Republicans held 8 contested seats and Democrats held 5, again painting the lone "I" as a "D" for the purpose of counting noses.

Legend: bold blue means a Democratic pick-up; normal-weight blue means a Democratic hold; normal-weight red means a Republican hold; and bold red means a Republican pick-up:

  • AZ - Jon Kyl (R) vs. Jim Pederson (D): Republican hold;
  • MD - Ben Cardin (D) vs. Michael Steele (R): Republican pick-up;
  • MI - Debbie Stabenow (D) vs. Mike Bouchard (R): Democratic hold;
  • MN - Amy Klobuchar (D) vs. Mark Kennedy (R): Democratic hold;
  • MO - Jim Talent (R) vs. Claire McCaskill (D): Republican hold;
  • MT - Conrad Burns (R) vs. Jon Tester (D): Republican hold;
  • NJ - Robert Menendez (D) vs. Tom Kean, jr. (R): Democratic hold;
  • OH - Mike DeWine (R) vs. Sherrod Brown (D): Democratic pick-up;
  • PA - Rick Santorum (R) vs. Bob Casey (D): Democratic pick-up;
  • RI - Lincoln Chafee (R) vs. Sheldon Whitehouse (D): Democratic pick-up;
  • TN - Bob Corker (R) vs. Harold Ford (D): Republican hold;
  • VA - George Allen (R): Republican hold;
  • WA - Maria Cantwell (D): Democratic hold;

Thus, we predict the Democrats will pick up Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, but the Republicans will pick up Maryland. All other seats will be held by the respective parties: net loss to the Republicans of 2 seats, leaving them with a 53 to 47 majority in the Senate.

That's our story, and we're sticking to it... at least until the returns start pouring in!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 7, 2006, at the time of 1:34 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 5, 2006

Is Nancy Pelosi Predicting Failure to Capture the House?

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

I was struck by several lines in a Drudge-linked election interview with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco, 100%) on the SFGate website (carried on the front page of the print version, I believe). There are so many wonderful examples right here of everything we've been saying about the Lady from Baghdad by the Bay; but there is one thing so divisive, so loathsome, that it dwarfs every other infelicity she utters.

But I'll get to that last. Let's have some fun, first.

Most folks seem to be focusing on this particularly rational, ladylike outburst from the moderate representative from San Franciso:

"We're going to take back the country for the American people -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- because it has been held hostage by the radical right wing of the Republican Party," Pelosi said.

"This is a freak show, and it has to come to an end," Pelosi said. "This is about a Congress and White House whose purpose is to concentrate wealth into the top 1 percent of our country at the expense of the middle class."

Leave aside her direct steal of "held hostage" from Rush Limbaugh... who of course meant it as a joke, while Nancy Pelosi is deadly serious; the idea that anyone who represents San Francisco, of all places, calling any other group of people a "freak show" is hilarious ("high-larious," if you're George Will).

As is the idea that any Republican can be called a "freak" after eight years of a Democratic White House driven by alternating greed, corruption, and satyriasis -- a vacillating, rudderless administration that encompassed, and is forever defined by, the president of the United States accepting millions of dollars from the People's Liberation Army of Red China (and changing U.S. defense policy to favor the Communists), pardoning Marc Rich in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Clinton library, being impeached, and trying to explain a stain.

Then there is this:

"If indeed it turns out the way that people expect it to turn out, the American people will have spoken, and they will have rejected the course of action the president is on."

So if it doesn't turn out "the way that people expect it to turn out," will that mean the American people will not have spoken? (Actually, that is exactly what she means; read on.)

Or this, immediately following. Rep. Pelosi offers the olive branch of bipartisan reconciliation:

If they win, Democrats will immediately reach out to Bush to find a bipartisan way to begin redeploying troops "outside of Iraq," Pelosi said. They will also apply pressure to disarm the militias, amend the Iraqi constitution and engage in diplomacy in the region.

There they go again! A "bipartisan way" to cut and run. And then, after cutting, and after running, they will "apply pressure to disarm the militias." What pressure would that be? Without Coalition troops, how exactly can we pressure Iraqis to do anything at all? Why... by a vote, of course! A big, bipartisan "sense of the House" resolution that militias are icky and Iraqis should disband them. Brilliant, simply brilliant.

The plan brings to mind a wonderful sentence from the G.K. Chesterton classic the Man Who Was Thursday: "You die for Mankind first, and then you get up and smite their oppressors."

(In fact, if the Coaltion were to redeploy to Okinawa, as Rep. John Murtha, D-PA 75%, demands, militias could only increase, not decrease; if neither side could rely upon American forces to hold down the other until Iraqi democracy is established, the only alternative would be to raise tens of thousands to defend their tribal territory. I suppose this is beyond Mrs. Pelosi's ken; at least, she doesn't seem to have thought of it.)

Or this:

"It just goes to show you, though, how bankrupt the Republicans are of ideas," Pelosi said. "This election is about the president of the United States; it's not about me. But it's interesting they've made the president of the United States the political hit man, and now he's making personal attacks, not only on me, but on the city I proudly represent."

Mrs. Pelosi... the president of the United States is not up for election. You are. If the Democrats win, you will (maybe) become the Squeaker of the House... not president. The election is all about you!

And here is one where the wannabe elite medium SFGate, gushing over the Speaker of Her Mind, demonstrates just how neutral it is about this race:

The refrain of "San Francisco values" has been used in campaigns across the country to tie more conservative Democrats to the liberal politics of Pelosi and the city, in what many view as a not-so-subtle reference to the city's embrace of diversity.

Diversity! Yes, that's what we have against San Francisco... can't stand all that -- diversity.

But frivolity must end; now is the time to sober up. I found these earlier lines much more chilling:

"I know where the numbers are in these races, and I know that they are there for the 15; today (it's) 22 to 26," Pelosi said Friday. [On a completely unrelated side issue, Mort Kondracke now predicts 4 to 8 more Democratic pickups in the House than even Nancy Pelosi fantasizes!]

Pelosi cautioned that the number of Democratic House victories could be higher or lower and said her greatest concern is over the integrity of the count -- from the reliability of electronic voting machines to her worries that Republicans will try to manipulate the outcome.

"That is the only variable in this," Pelosi said. "Will we have an honest count?''

This is not the way a confident person speaks. A leader who really believes she's headed for the big office does not start laying the ground work for the López Obrador Gambit.

What does that mean? It comes from the Mexican election, won by conservative Mexican President Felipe Calderón on July 2nd of this year. Despite all legal avenues now being closed to challenge Calderón's victory, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, of the Democratic Revolution Party, has yet to concede that he lost, so far as I've seen. I'm sure there are probably still hundreds, if not thousands of his supporters crowding around Zocalo Plaza, insisting that López Obrador is the "people's president," assuming the Rev. Al Sharpton isn't busy with the title at the moment.

What is Nancy Pelosi saying here? That she's confident of victory, unless the Republicans have secretly reprogrammed the dreaded Diebold machines to steal the fourth election in a row? Is there any other way to interpret her words?

Honestly, it sounds to my ear as if she has realized that they're not going to make it... so she's setting up the next two years of Democratic false accusations: everybody knows we really won; if the count went against us, the only possible explanation is -- electronic sabotage!

I cannot imagine anything more divisive -- and destructive to America -- than convincing nearly half the population that our elections are corrupt and fraudulent and should be disregarded in favor of People-Power solutions. Is this really the world that the Democrats want to live in, a world where we have rioting in the streets after every election, as in a South American banana republic?

Do they actually think that, unable to prevail at the ballot box, they can win by mulish refusal to accept reality, suing their way into office, and when all else fails -- by riot?

This is incomprehensible to me. Even in 1980, I don't recall the Democrats claiming that Ronald Reagan's election was "stolen." This is something new and repugnant.

Say, how many levels of basement can the Democrats dig, anyway? Is it just "turtles, turtles, turtles, all the way down?"

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 5, 2006, at the time of 3:06 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Fred and Mort Hold the Fort

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

So on the Boyz 'n the Beltway today, Fred Kondracke and Mort Barnes -- oops, sorry; they seem almost like twins these days! -- gave their final predictions for Tuesday:

  • Fred Barnes prognosticates that the Democrats will pick up 4 net Senate seats and 22 net House seats;
  • Mort Kondracke prophecies a net Democratic pickup of 6 Senate seats and 30 (!) House seats.

My first question is -- what has Mort been smoking? 30 House seats is even more than super-pessimist Larry Sabato's crystal ball forecasts. For Mort to be right, Democrats will have to hold every threatened Democratic seat and also pick up every seat where they're ahead... and even three or four seats where they're behind.

He did tell us his system, however: Mort believes that the challenger will pick up every tie where the incumbent isn't over 50%. Of course (I rise tentatively to object), if the incumbent is over 50%, then there couldn't a tie, could there?

(Oh, well, maybe he meant where the incumbent's job-approval rating isn't over 50%; but he didn't say it. Or maybe he meant to say "like George Bush," but the joke went awry.)

Mort sees the Democrats picking up the following Senate seats: Rick Santorum (PA), Mike DeWine (OH), Lincoln Chafee (RI), George Allen (VA), Jim Talent (MO), Conrad Burns (MT), and of course holding onto both New Jersey and Maryland.

[What a great tyop! I just corrected "Jew Jersey" to "New Jersey," an all-timer! In my defense, if you'll look at your keyboards, you will note that the two keys literally touch corners, the northeast corner of N rubbing elbows, if typekeys can be said to have joints, with the southwest corner of J. A couple of people caught it; thanks, folks! And... where the heck were the rest of you?]

Fred agrees with Mort on every race except Virginia and Missouri, I think; actually, it's either Missouri or Montana, I forget which.

Big Lizards thinks the Republicans hold Virginia, Missouri, Montana, and win a seat in Maryland; but Big Lizards is a big chicken, and keeps hedging by saying "net 3," instead of the "net 2" this would actually imply. Somebody give the lizard a kick in the... well, I guess reptiles don't really have keysters, but you get the drift.

The Lizard is also sticking to Democrats gaining 12 in the House, though that is a little less out on a limb taking into account the pair of dicey Georgia seats held by Democrats. One of those (likely GA-12) would make up for a Republican seat unexpectedly flipping -- that Bass seat in NH-2, for instance (we consider that a toss-up that will float back to the Republicans on Tuesday).

Anyway, tune in to Brit Hume's Special Report on Fox News Channel Wednesday either to see Fred and especially Mort crowing... or eating crow!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 5, 2006, at the time of 6:04 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 2, 2006

A Tale of Two Turnouts

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Real Clear Politics links to Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball, which has just released what might be Sabato's final prediction for the 2006 midterm elections. (He could release a new one at any time, of course; it's a web page, not a print magazine!) Today, Professor Sabato predicted that the Democrats will pick up 6 seats in the Senate and 27 seats in the House, seizing control of both bodies (fairly strong control, in the case of the House).

I just went through the 50 most vulnerable races in the House and the 13 most vulnerable races in the Senate, per the RCP election pages, averaging all post-October 15th polls in every race for which there were polls, and an interesting pattern emerged:

  • In the House, Democrats are currently ahead in 29 of the 45 races in Republican-held districts; Sabato predicted they would pick up 27 of those 29, or 93%;
  • In the Senate, Democrats are currently ahead in the polls in 6 of the 8 Republican-held states; Sabato predicted the Democrats would pick up all six of these races -- 100%.

These "leads" include quite a few in the House where the lead is 1%, 2%, or 3%; and in half of the Republican Senate seats where a Democrat leads, the lead is less than 3%... in fact, it's only 1.4% in MO and 0.8% in VA. But even so, Larry Sabato predicts that Democrats will win nearly all of these -- along with holding every seat of their own: the Senate seats in New Jersey and Maryland and the two House seats in Georgia and Illinois.

In addition, three House races in New York, where Dems are ahead in GOP-held districts, include some very strange results; in NY019, NY-20, and NY-25, the only public polls putting Democrats ahead are those pesky RT Strategies/CD polls... but in each case, RT STrategies/CD gives a whopping lead to the Democrat... far more than even Democratic polls do!

  • In NY-20, two Democratic polls put Kirsten Gillibrand ahead by 2.0 and by 3.0; a Siena College poll puts Republican John Sweeny ahead by 14 points... but the last two RT Strategies/CD polls put Gillibrand ahead by 12 and 13 points, more than six times her lead in the partisan Democratic polls;
  • In NY-19, a Democratic poll actually puts Republican Sue Kelly ahead by 2 points; but two RT Strategies/CD polls put Democrat John Hall ahead by 9 points and 2 points [this is corrected, per commenter Pete; I had switched the two names... but the point is accurate: the Democratic poll has the Republican ahead -- but the RT Strategies/CD poll has the Democrat ahead];
  • And in NY-25, Democratic polls also put the Republican ahead by 2 -- while two RT Strategies/CD has the Democrat ahead by 8 and 9.

(This is one of several reasons why I have lost nearly all faith in the RT Strategies/CD poll... it's just wacky.)

Knock these three off the charts -- not even Sabato himself predicts a Democratic victory in any of them -- and we're left with the conclusion that Sabato, in order to get his 27, must be predicting Democratic victory in at least one Republican district where the Republican is currently leading.

What can explain this? Simple: Larry Sabato is actually predicting a Democratic wave that will wash nearly every close race into their pockets. In other words, he agrees that the pollsters have bad turnout models: but Sabato believes they're being too biased towards Republicans... because ordinarily, a series of toss-up races is not all won by one party.

We can only get to 27 Democratic captures in the House and 6 in the Senate if Professor Larry Sabato believes that Democrats are elated and will show up in record numbers, while Republicans are depressed and will stay home in droves. His mental turnout model has the Democrats, not the Republicans, with the better ground game, such that they win races where they are only 1 or 2 points up now, and even win races where they are 2 or 3 points behind.

By contrast, as I have cautioned many times, the Big Lizards mental turnout model is just the opposite: I see Republicans not as more enthusiastic than Democrats, but more enthusiastic than the pollsters' turnout models, meaning that the polls are slightly biased towards Democrats. Similarly, I believe the GOP GOTV is superior to the Democratic GOTV, and the former will do a better job of turning out party faithful. I believe these two points will lead to a general 3% - 4% "unexpected" bump for the Republicans (which will be portrayed by pollsters as an "election-eve rally")... and at the moment, looking at the polls of today, that would lead to a Republican loss of about 12 seats in the House and 3 seats in the Senate.

All we can say for sure at this point is that Larry and I cannot both be right: one of us is -- or both of us are -- completely, utterly, catastrophically wrong.

Thus, this race has come down to a tale of two turnouts: the one believed by Karl Rove, Ken Mehlman, Hugh Hewitt, Power Line, Big Lizards, and many other fast & furious new-media commentators... and the one believed by Howard Dean, James Carville (in public statements, at least), Fred Barnes, Mort Kondracke, Larry Sabato, and many other "Beltway Brahmins." In short, the one where Democrats have a mild breeze behind them, and the one in which it's more like a hurricane.

Am I hedging? Sure: I could be completely wrong about the turnout. Maybe Sabato (who is even wilder in his pro-Democrat predictions than Mort Kondracke) is totally right; maybe having buttered my bread, I will have to lie in it. But I'm not backing down just because a bunch of relentlessly conventional critics parrot the relentlessly conventional wisdom.

I'll see you all after November 7th -- where I will either make a triumphalist pest of myself, strutting about the board as if I were High Potentate of Next-to-Nothing and Windbag Extraordinaire; or at the very least, I'll go down swinging and take a few of the bad guys with me.

Heck, I've always wanted a honor guard on the road to Hell.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 2, 2006, at the time of 5:26 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Addendum 3 to Sprint: Will the Sleeper Awake?

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

The previous six predictive posts on the upcoming election are here:

Commenter Watchman noted three races in districts currently held by Democrats that could prove surprising upsets on Election Day; at least two of them look very intriguing indeed:

I don't want to be overly optimistic, but you don't list the Dems two seats in Georgia or Bean in Illinois, and I think the GOP has a real shot at taking all three of those.

I'm a bit dubious about the internals of IL-8 (Melissa Bean's seat): via the analysis by RCP, the Daily Herald poll that showed Republican Dave McSweeny only 3 points behind gave a nutroots third-party candidate 8% of the vote, drawn almost entirely from the Democratic side.

Usually, such third-party protests collapse at the polls. People will tell the pollsters that they're going to vote for Pat Buchanan or Ralph Nader, but when crunch time comes, they sigh, close their eyes, and yank the lever for the nearest major-party candidate. Don't be surprised if, in the end, Bean suddenly picks up an additional 5 or 6 points, as the Democrats reject "third-party anti-war candidate Bill Scheurer" when they actually step into the booth. Still, it's a possibility.

As far as GA-8, currently held by Democrat Jim Marshall, we only have Democratic Party polls, which show a solid lead of 16%. However, the internals are very mixed up: the district went moderately strong for Bush in 2004 (55 to 45)... but it also went even more heavily for Marshall, who defeated the Republican by 26%. (Marshall won the seat in 2002 by only 2 points.)

Warning: GA-8 used to be GA-3; they swapped numbers in the 2005 redistricting. So you have to look it up in Michael Barone's Almanac of American Politics by the old number, GA-3. (GA-3 -- formerly GA-8 -- is currently a very conservative seat held by Rep. Lynn Westmoreland - R, 96%.)

So it's a race to keep an eye on, but I don't think there is good public evidence yet that this will be a Republican pick-up. The mixed 2004 results indicate that Marshall has the kind of strong personal backing within the district which can weather challenges, even in a district that is more aligned with the other party. That means Marshall, an Airborne Ranger in Vietnam and very pro-military Democrat, will probably pull this race out and is likely ahead even in Republican polls... which is why nobody is talking about it much.

But Watchman is right about GA-12. I just heard about this today for the first time from Denny Hastert, who was a guest on Michael Medved's first hour; and Hastert himself said this race was on no one's radar. The GOP was caught as wrongfooted as the Democrats.

Current polling (Insider Advantage, which is usually pretty clean) has Democratic incumbent Rep. John Barrow ahead by only 3 points; this is the first public poll listed by RCP since a couple of Republican polls three and a half months ago.

Barrow beat Max Burns last cycle 52 to 48; this is the rematch. But Burns himself is a former representative of this district, having won in 2002 by 55 to 45 against Democrat Charles Walker.

The 12th went for both Gore and Kerry by nearly identical margins, 10 and 9 points respectively; it has been tighter in its congressional races than in the presidential contests, and the Democrat has not always won.

This could be the sleeper race of the South. If the GOP is to win any of these three, I think it will be GA-12, rather than GA-8 or IL-8, despite the fact that RCP ranks the Melissa Bean seat in Illinois the 29th most vulnerable and the John Barrow seat in Georgia as only 35th most vulnerable.

If there are two pick-ups, Bean will be the other. I'm very, very skeptical about GA-8; in a huge Republican year, I think it would be vulnerable... but it doesn't look so in this year. Jim Marshall seems to be well liked in his district, and that is usually decisive.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 2, 2006, at the time of 2:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Addendum 2 to the Sprint

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

The previous five predictive posts on the upcoming election are here:

Just a brief addendum. Yesterday, I listed Florida-16 as a "certain Democraic pick-up." This was the seat held by Mark Foley, which Joe Negron now runs for, hoping to hold it against the challenge by Democrat financier Tim Mahoney. I'd listed it certain pick-up for two reasons:

  1. The RCP average for October is Mahoney +5.7%; that would ordinarily have made it a probable, but...
  2. I assumed that it would be so confusing to voters, having to vote for the pervy Mark Foley in order to get the (presumably non-pervy) Joe Negron, that Negron's vote would suffer.

But I think I might have been buying into Democratic spin. Mea maxima culpa; it happens to the best of us -- me, for instance. Now, several factors make me question that judgment... all of which were brought to my attention by this curious New York Times article (curious because, five days before an election, it's actually pro-Republican, if anything)

First, the story (linked by Drudge) flatly states that Negron and Mahoney are tied:

When Mark Foley resigned from Congress in disgrace five weeks ago, his Democratic challenger seemed headed for one of the easiest victories of the election season.

But in this least predictable of states, Joe Negron, the Republican choice to run as Mr. Foley’s replacement, is getting powerful help as the clock runs down, and now appears to be running almost neck and neck with Tim Mahoney, the Democrat.

Second, I neglected to note that the latest poll in this race listed on RCP's elections page was conducted nearly three weeks ago! That is a lifetime in politics... and most particularly in this most peculiar race, the poll was conducted before the GOP hit on one of the all-time greatest campaign slogans ever devised to differentiate a disgraced pol from the honest and decent pol replacing him on the ballot:

With the National Republican Congressional Committee pouring nearly $2 million into the race and Gov. Jeb Bush campaigning at his side, Mr. Negron, a member of the Florida House, is hoping that even the misfortune of having Mr. Foley’s name on the ballot instead of his own -- a consequence of the last-minute nature of the change -- can be turned to his advantage. Republicans are posting signs urging voters to Punch Foley for Joe,” a reminder that a vote in the Foley column is actually a vote for Mr. Negron.

Finally, the NYT also mentions the following, which I had not known until I read it there:

A poll conducted in mid-October for The South Florida Sun-Sentinel [the "Research 2000" poll on RCP] showed Mr. Mahoney leading Mr. Negron by 48 percent to 41 percent, with 11 percent undecided. But this week two nonpartisan Congressional handicappers, Stuart Rothenberg and Charlie Cook, changed their assessments of the race from “leans Democrat” to “tossup.”

Well! Am I to be more conservative (small-c) than a couple of Beltway pollsters? Not this squamatan.

Consequently, I will change my rating of FL-16 from certain to toss-up as well. Thus, the new prediction chart for the House, sorted alphabetically by district and ignoring the holds; bold blue means a definite Democratic pick-up; bold black means a probable Democratic pick-up; and italics means a toss-up:

  • AZ-8;
  • CO-7;
  • CT-5;
  • FL-16;
  • IA-1;
  • IN-2;
  • IN-8;
  • MN-6;
  • NC-11;
  • NM-1;
  • NY-24;
  • NY-26;
  • OH-15;
  • OH-18;
  • PA-6;
  • PA-7;
  • PA-10;
  • TX-22;

And the new numbers: instead of 7 certains, there are only 6; and instead of 7 toss-ups, there are 8...

New first cut: 6 certain pick-ups + (4 probables X 3/4 = 3) + (8 toss-ups X 1/2 = 4) yields 13 Democratic pick-ups; this is the high-end prediction.

New second cut: 6 certains + (4 probables X 2/3 = 2.67) + (8 toss-ups X 1/3 = 2.67) yields 11.33 Democratic pick-ups.

Thus, the new range is now 11 to 13, with the middle road being 12, instead of 13 -- which is the new bottom line for yesterday's prediction.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 2, 2006, at the time of 4:50 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 1, 2006

Last Word on Kerrying Water

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Thanks to commenter Jonathan Haas, I have now viewed the comment in context (click on John Kerry Speaks a Rally In Pasadena, sic)... and it is now plain to me that it was, in fact, a botched joke.

However, it is also quite clear that Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA, 100%) said exactly what he meant to say. The reason he resisted apologizing for so long is that the "joke" was just what he said: if you don't study, you'll end up stuck in Iraq, as one of those lazy, dumb soldiers.

The opening is a series of three jokes, of which this is the third: but he says it smoothly, not stumbling; he does indeed have a smirk as he says it; and the audience laughs. There is nothing whatsoever to indicate, in even the faintest degree, that he meant to say "you end up getting us stuck in Iraq," referring to that lazy, dumb President Bush (who got at least a good a GPA at Yale and Harvard as did Kerry). Not at all.

This ends the discussion as far as I'm concerned. He was mocking the troops for being lazy and stupid; end of story, so far as this lizard is concerned.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 1, 2006, at the time of 3:12 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Revenge of Sprint to the Finish

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

The previous four predictive posts on the upcoming election are here:

In our last fit in the continuing agony, our bottom line was a Democratic pick-up of 11 seats in the House and 3 in the Senate. First, here is last week's prediction for the House of Representatives:

This works out to 2 certains, 7 probables, and 8 possibles. I gave the certains to the Democrats; and with the possibles (toss-ups), I gave the Democrats half. That makes a core of 6 pick-ups.

For the probables, I calculated them two different ways: with the Dems picking up 2/3rds of them (4-5 pick-ups), and with the Dems picking up 3/4ths of them (5-6 pick-ups). Thus, the total range is from a low of 10 to a high of 12 Democratic pick-ups. Thus, hitting right in the middle, Big Lizards is now prepared to predict a Democratic pick-up of 11 seats in the House, leaving the Republicans with a slim majority of 221 to 214.

For this week, I'm afraid I have to increase the certains from 2 to 7, reduce the probables from 7 to 4, and run with 7 toss-ups. FL-16, IN-8, OH-18, and PA-10 all go from probable to certain Democratic pick-ups (with the caveat that there has been no recent polling in OH-18); IA-1 and PA-7 stay probable pick-ups.

But I'm shifting OH-15 from probable pick-up to toss-up. Why? Because I have decided I have scant confidence in the latest round of RT Strategies/CD polling, which consistently came in significantly more Democratic than the other polling in virtually every congressional district. I suspect they have changed their turnout model to make it more Democrat-friendly. When I ignore RT Strategies/CD in OH-15, there is no recent polling. Having nothing better to do with my life, I arbitrarily call that a toss-up.

Too, I have added NY-24 to the certain pick-ups, shifting it from toss-up last time. There has been no polling in between, but I think the Eliot Spitzer juggernaut will drown Ray Meier. And I'm shifting NC-11 from toss-up to probable Democratic pick-up. CT-5 has been added to the toss-up column (from Republican hold last time) because of some recent polling that put the Democrat marginally on top.

Anyway, here is revised list, sorted alphabetically by district and ignoring the holds; bold blue means a definite Democratic pick-up; bold black means a probable Democratic pick-up; and italics means a toss-up:

  • AZ-8;
  • CO-7;
  • CT-5;
  • FL-16;
  • IA-1;
  • IN-2;
  • IN-8;
  • MN-6;
  • NC-11;
  • NM-1;
  • NY-24;
  • NY-26;
  • OH-15;
  • OH-18;
  • PA-6;
  • PA-7;
  • PA-10;
  • TX-22;

Calculating our new bottom line, we again use a couple different formulas for the probables... and this time, for the toss-ups as well. For probables, I multiply both by 3/4ths and by 2/3rds; for toss-ups, I multiply both by 1/2 and by 1/3 (on the grounds that in a toss-up race, incumbents have advantages). We'll compare results from each of these calculations to get a range.

First cut: 7 certain pick-ups + (4 probables X 3/4 = 3) + (7 toss-ups X 1/2 = 3.5) yields 13.5 Democratic pick-ups; this is the high-end prediction.

Second cut: 7 certains + (4 probables X 2/3 = 2.67) + (7 toss-ups X 1/3 = 2.33) yields 12 Democratic pick-ups.

Thus, House Democratic pick-ups range from a low of 12 to a high of 13.5, which means from 12 to 14, centered at 13... though it's actually more likely 12 than 14. But let's say 13.

That would leave the Republicans with a nigh-unmanageable House majority of 219 to 216... but for organizational purposes, I do not believe the Democrats will be able to tempt any Republicans to switch just to flip the House (since the Republicans would bargain hard in the other direction), so I believe the Republicans hold the House -- and all the committee chairmanships.

Now for the Senate. Last week's predictions:

So let's use the formula to estimate Democratic pick-ups: 2 (certain), plus two-thirds or three-fourths of the lone probable, which makes 3; but for the toss-ups, we get either 1 or 2 Republican pick-ups. Which means we would predict a Democratic pickup of 1 to 2 seats; let's be conservative and say a pickup of 2.

But I don't have as much confidence in my back of the thumb guesstimate for the Senate races as I do for the House races (since there are fewer of the former); thus, I'm going to hedge and say a Democratic pick-up of 3. (Basically, I doubt whether the Republicans can really nab any of those three toss-ups.)

The easiest thing to do is just print the new chart and reason from there. Here it is, alphabetical by state. As above, bold blue means a definite Democratic pick-up; bold black means a probable Democratic pick-up (though there are none this time); and italics means a toss-up:

  • AZ-John Kyl (R): Republican hold;
  • MD-Ben Cardin (D): Toss-up; [I still call MD a toss-up because it all hinges on the percent of the black vote that Michael Steele gets; if he gets 25%-30%, he wins.]
  • MI-Debbie Stabenow (D): Democratic hold; as promised, I checked the polls, and none show even the slightest movement towards Mike Bouchard, despite the Ford layoffs. So I have accordingly shifted this to a certain Democratic hold.
  • MN-Amy Klobuchar (D): Democratic hold;
  • MO-Jim Talent (R): Republican hold;
  • MT-Conrad Burns (R): Republican hold [aside from a Democratic poll, the most recent Rasmussen poll shows Tester ahead by 3 points -- but it was conducted exclusively on Sunday, so it's probably more like 1 to 2 points... well within the range of a good Republican ground game] ;
  • NJ-Robert Menendez (D): Toss-up;
  • OH-Mike DeWine (R): certain Democratic pick-up;
  • PA-Rick Santorum (R): certain Democratic pick-up;
  • RI-Lincoln Chafee (R): certain Democratic pick-up;
  • TN-Bob Corker (R): Republican hold;
  • VA-George Allen (R): Republican hold [I don't believe recent polls showing minor drift towards Jim Webb... it's too little, too late];
  • WA-Maria Cantwell (D): Democratic hold;

This gives us three certain Democratic pick-ups (Bob Casey defeats Rick Santorum in PA, Sherrod Brown defeats Mike DeWine in Ohio, and the amusingly named Sheldon Whitehouse defeats Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island); but I don't have any probables or toss-ups in Republican seats.

However, I do have two toss-ups in Democratic seats: Bob Menendez vs. Tom Kean, jr. in New Jersey, and Ben Cardin vs. Michael Steele in Maryland. For what it's worth, I think Steele will win but Kean will lose. This would be a pick-up of one seat for the Republicans, thus reducing net Democratic gains to 2.

But I'm still hedging. You can make a good case for calling both Montana (Conrad Burns) and Virginia (George Allen) toss-ups, if you believe that the recent polling isn't a fluke. If we do, that cancels out the NJ and MD toss-ups, leaving us with the same bottom line we had last time: a net Democratic pick-up of 3 seats in the Senate.

The next and last prediction will be sometime on Tuesday. We should know more about Montana and Virginia then. Crack your fingers that the polls don't suddenly go askew between now and then!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 1, 2006, at the time of 7:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 31, 2006

Kerrying Water for the Vision

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Power Line already beat me to the punch on this one; but the line that struck me most in John Kerry's non-apology...

Oh, wait; for all those people who turn first to Big Lizards for all the day's news (poor fools) I'll give a brief recap.

Yesterday, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA, 100%) was fairly near me, though somehow I failed to get the word. He spoke to students at Pasadena City College, promoting his fellow loser, Democrat Phil Angelides, who is running for governor -- well, "walking" would be the apter word, or even the Briticism "standing" -- against incumbent California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

All right: backpedaling; that'll do it.

And here is part of what Kerry said:

You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.

Before we get to my favorite part, let's take a look at the original faux pas and how Kerry has feebly tried to defend it.

  1. First, a plea: I would really like to see the entire passage in which this line occurs; I always like to have full context, when a politician says something so outrageous.
  2. I can think of no plausible meaning of this than the obvious: Kerry is warning students that if they're too lazy and not smart enough, they'll end up in the military.

Now, perhaps this made sense back in the days when we had a draft, and we also had student deferments: back then, before I was old enough to be drafted, if you were too lazy to study or too dumb to pass your classes, you could lose your draft deferment and end up stuck in Vietnam.

But today, we have an all-volunteer army, a robust and vibrant economy, and the only people currently in the military are those who chose, for personal reasons, to enlist -- some combination of patriotism, family history of service, a belief in the rightness of the war against global jihad, or perhaps just the burning desire to kill jihadis.

  1. Kerry (through "a source close to" him) now claims that he wasn't really talking about the troops being "stuck in Iraq;" he meant the president; he just forgot a couple of words he meant to say.

No, really. This is rich:

A source close to Kerry tells NBC News that he was trying to make a "tough and honest joke" about Bush and that in the process he omitted two words which changed the intended meaning. Per the source, Kerry meant to say that he can't "overstress the importance of a great education" and that "if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy... You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq." Kerry mistakenly dropped the "getting us" from his initial remarks.

(Hat tip to Allahpundit, among thousands of others. Remember our motto!)

Of course, it's not really just two words; if you take out the two this source suggests Kerry meant to say, you end up with this: "you end up stuck in a war in Iraq."

But that's not what Kerry said; he said "you get stuck in Iraq." Let's reinsert the two "missing" words into what Kerry actually said and see how it comes out:

You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don't, you getting us get stuck in Iraq.

All right. If that's what he actually meant to say, then I think we have an even bigger problem with Kerry, and with the party that nominated him for the presidency. I mean, "misunderestimate" and "strategery" are one thing, but "you getting us get stuck in Iraq?"

  1. Earlier today, Kerry went on the offensive; he attributed the brouhaha to "despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.... who have never worn the uniform of our country [yet who] lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have." He was referring, one can only conclude, to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ, 80%) and Lt.Col. Joe Repya.

Now, finally to my point: in all this kafuffle, the line that struck me most in John Kerry's non-apology was this one:

If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they're crazy. This is the classic G.O.P. playbook.

...But of course, in real life, "a veteran" did exactly that: one Lt. John Forbes Kerry, just returned from Vietnam, attacked his fellow crewmen and commanders of swift boats for war crimes, mass murder, cutting off body parts as trophies, raping, pillaging, and looting, and in general, behaving like "Genghis Khan," whatever that was supposed to mean.

I think that last comes from the common expression (common even in the early 1970s) that so-and-so is "to the right of Genghis Khan." I suspect Kerry mistakenly thought Genghis Khan was a Republican conservative Christian, possibly from rural Maine.

As the e-mailer to Power Line put it, "You bet your *** we think you'd slur the military because you've done it before." (I don't know whether the e-mailer wrote the asterisks or whether Paul Mirengoff edited.)

This goes to a larger point. Kerry clearly shares with many of his fellow Democrats, including fellow Democratic veterans, like John Murtha, Jimmy Carter, and Max Cleland, the notion that people in the military are just dummies. Most especially, this view is shared by the elite media and chickendoves like Howard Dean and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco, 100%).

How much does that anti-soldier attitude distort their understanding of the war in Iraq and how well or poorly it's going? If the media especially think of soldiers as uneducated rubes, rural hicks, and lazy slobs, mightn't that make them rather more willing to believe that they're screwing everything up?

And if they associate "military idiots" with "Southerners," then it makes perfect sense that they would lump Bush in with the rubes, hicks, and slobs, and be more than willing -- even eager -- to believe that Bush just bumbles everything.

Something of that ilk must be in play; because no matter how finely you slice it, it's just not possible to rationally believe the Iraq war is an unmitigated disaster, as clearly the Left and their cohorts in the media do:

  • We overthrew Saddam Hussein in record time;
  • We brought about several free elections in which the great majority of voting-age Iraqis participated (and their votes were counted);
  • We've lost fewer than 3,000 people, even after three years and seven months;
  • 16 of the 18 provinces of Iraq are relatively peaceful (as peaceful as any typical Arab country, that is);
  • We have so far prevented terrorists from turning Iraq into another Somalia;
  • Much of Iraq's economy and infrastructure is better today than it was before the war;
  • And we have trained close to 300,000 Iraqi soldiers and national police, the vast majority of whom are serving honorably to protect their fledgling democracy;
  • We haven't not been attacked since 9/11 by terrorism anywhere but where we're in combat.

Neither is it an unalloyed victory:

  • We have failed to shut down the anti-democratic insurgency;
  • There are still Salafist terrorists and Iranian-backed theocrats fighting in Iraq, in addition to the Saddamist insurgency;
  • There is still a lot of killing in the two "bad" provinces (Anbar and Baghdad), in which a huge chunk of the population lives;

  • There is still the potential -- though not yet the actuality -- of civil war in Iraq; it's still in the "gangland massacre" stage, but the possibility of expansion still exists.

The only rational conclusion is that the Iraq war currently has achieved mixed results, like the Korean war after the retreat down the Chosen and after we had begun battling our way back up the peninsula, but before the truce finally ended the war with an Allied victory. (No, Korea was not a "draw;" the victory condition for the North was to conquer the South, but the victory condition for the South was to survive as an independent nation, free of dominance by the crazy Maoists up north: that means that the good guys won in Korea.)

But if one believes that our soldiers, at all levels from raw recruit to the Commander in Chief, are complete incompetents and dolts... well, then obviously the problems in the second list are insurmountable; and the victories in the first list (to the extent the elite media even believes they happened) are attributable to the Iraqis themselves -- we had nothing to do with it. After all, how could Southern racists and ignoramuses possibly have achieved any of that?

This all flows out of what Thomas Sowell calls the Vision of the Anointed, from his book of that title. The subtitle says it all: "Self-Congratulation As a Basis for Social Policy."

Liberals don't merely believe their ideas are better than those of conservatives; they believe they are better than conservatives: intellectually and morally. This explains the repeated atttempts this year to run on the theme of "the culture of corruption," notwithstanding that Democrats are as apt to be corrupt as Republicans: "even when we take money from lobbyists or diddle the pages," they argue, "we're actually doing so to serve a higher moral purpose -- so it's totally different!"

Perhaps Liberals hate the military because they see them as stupid, inept, lazy, and inferior; therefore, like fairy-tale ogres, they break everything they touch. They despise Southerners for the same reason, and Westerners, and... well, basically everyone who doesn't share "the Vision" that Sowell discusses. Only the "anointed" -- liberal Democrats -- can be trusted with the levers of power.

And I believe that is what we just saw slip out of John Kerry's mouth when he wasn't listening (thereby joining the tens of millions of others who never listen to what he says): more than anything else, he is annoyed by menials questioning the wisdom of their betters.

Sure, Kerry himself might "criticize the more than [500,000] heroes serving in [Vietnam]" when he returns from that war; but that was totally different, not to be questioned... not by the likes of you lot. Remember, in this context, his response to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and their campaign against him: rarely did he try to argue with them, point by point; he left that to subordinates and his natural allies in the antique media.

Rather, he bitterly attacked his accusers for being the wrong class of veteran... not good ones like himself, but bad ones who don't share the Vision, hence should simply be dismissed.

That has been the liberal Democratic position for decades now, going all the way back to Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal of the 1930s. After more than seventy years of failure, they still haven't learned their lesson: like all religious faiths, the Vision is not to be questioned. Ever.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 31, 2006, at the time of 7:50 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

The Pineapple Shrub

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Say, I know this is trivial, but I think about it every election:

Do you all realize that 2008 will likely be the first presidential election in thirty-two years that does not have either a Bush or a Dole on the Republican ticket?

Every election since 1976 -- eight elections in a row -- has had the one or the other.

How about that!

The last election that didn't have one was Nixon's reelection in 1972; but unless Liddy or Jeb ends up on the ticket, 2008 will break the pattern.

But wouldn't be a sock in the jaw if Mitt Romney got the nomination -- and picked LIddy Dole as running mate?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 31, 2006, at the time of 2:00 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 30, 2006

Time Flies When Killing Nothing But Innocent Bystanders

Blogomania , Elections , Iraq Matters , Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Science - Bogus
Hatched by Dafydd

By now, everybody and his unkie's monkle knows about the Lancet survey that purports to show that the Iraq invasion has killed about 655,000 extra Iraqis -- nearly all of them innocent.

Actually, since the Lancet's survey only went through July 2006, and assuming the rate is unabated, a total of more than 704,000 "extra deaths" should have occurred by now, the end of October 2006. I shall accordingly use this figure hence.

They arrived at this figure by interviewing a small number of grieving survivors (2,000 households) and asking them, offhand, how many members of their family have been killed by the wicked infidels (actually, they asked how many had died since the invasion; I doubt the significance escaped the respondents' notice).

Then they projected this figure throughout the entire population of Iraq to get a figure that is about 14 times the (likely inflated) "maximum" figure on Iraq Body Count, 49,760, and more than 20 times the more commonly accepted figure of 35,000.

Oddly enough, however, they must not be burying their dead, because mortuary records don't show anywhere near that many burials over the last 43 months, a fact at which even the Lancet hints.

Amazingly enough, it appears that half of all extended families in Iraq have lost someone -- assuming no overlap at all: I assumed that an extended family in Iraq would consist of a mother and father, an average of three kids, an average of three living grandparents (recall that grandparents in such a society could easily be in their late thirties or early forties), an average of five living aunts and uncles, who between them would have produced about eight cousins.

I'm probably underestimating much of this -- which would mean even more families would have to have lost members to evil, wicked Coalition soldiers, in order to arrive at Lancet's (reprojected) 704,000 figure. If there is overlap, that would increase the number of families that would have had deaths: each death would kill a father, an uncle, and a cousin, of three different households, perhaps.

To put it another way, if this guess were true, the war would have considerably more than doubled the national annual death rate of Iraq (5.37 per 1,000 per year), according to the latest figures from the CIA's World Factbook (or even 5.5, as Lancet calculates it).

What would it have taken to produce such a staggeringly huge death rate? The Belmont Club can help with that; they note that the Israelis bombed the heck out of Lebanon for 34 days, and only managed to kill 1,300 Lebanese (all of them innocent, once again; it's remarkable how luckless the innocent are in these Moslem countries, while the guilty seem to lead charmed lives... perhaps somebody down there likes them).

Whenever I see numbers, I have to whip out my calculator and play. It's a nasty habit, I know; but I'm too old a dog to change Spot now.

The Lebanese death rate works out to about 38 per day -- and that's with heavy, continuous bombing, shelling, and massive, daily assaults. Let's assume that same rate of death in Iraq; how long would it take to kill 704,000 people? A simple division: it would take 18,526 days, or approximately 50 years and 9 months.

Hm. Well, that doesn't quite work out, does it!

On the other hand, we have a lot more soldiers in Iraq than the Israelis had in Lebanon... so let's look at it the other direction: assume that we have killed 704,000 people in Iraq since the invasion, which began on March 19th, 2003; what is the daily rate of killing we would have to be seeing? (Lancet concluded that 601,000 of the 655,000 deaths were violent; projected forward, that would mean 646,000 of the 704,000.)

Again, it's a simple calculation, complicated only because we must first figure out how many days it's been: from invasion to March 19th, 2006 is 1,096 days (because 2004 was a leap year), plus 225 days since then, for a grand total of 1,321 days.

704,000 divided by 1,321 equals 533 innocent civilians dying each and every day, Sundays and holidays included. (Actually, since this is an Islamic country, we would expect to see more deaths during the Sabbath -- which is actually Friday, not Sunday -- and during holiday periods, like Ramadan.) If we restrict it to violent deaths, that's 487 violent deaths per day.

There was a lull from the end of major combat operations, May 1st, 2003, until the insurgency and terrorist activity really started to uptick, say about April 4th, 2004 with First Fallujah. But on the other hand, we would assume a very much increased daily rate during the month of MCO; even if they don't quite balance, it probably doesn't change much... we can assume the daily rate after the insurgency and terrorism started to be somewhere between 550 and 650 extra deaths per day.

I doubt even the wildest-eyed anti-war fanatic sincerely believes that all the reporters, non-governmental organizations, government departments, and the other medical researchers in Iraq (who actually check physical evidence, rather than relying upon surveys) could possibly have missed an additional 500 civilians dying per day, 460 of them killed violently -- and nearly all by Coalition forces, if you can believe the Iraqi respondents. But of course, figures don't lie!

The researchers assure us that asking Iraqi respondents how many have died is perfectly sound methodology. They don't need to look at death certificates, hospital records, or mortuary records; first, those hard data may be unavailable... and second, they don't yield a high enough number of extra deaths:

When death certificates were not available, there were good reasons, say the authors. "We think it is unlikely that deaths were falsely recorded. Interviewers also believed that in the Iraqi culture it was unlikely for respondents to fabricate deaths," they write.

Fabricating deaths simply isn't done in Iraqi culture... quick, somebody, alert the Green Helmet Guy!

But I still want to know where the weekly quota of 3,731 bodies is being stashed; I should think that by now, every graveyard in the country would have been filled up, and the bodies would have to be packed into warehouses (refrigerated, one hopes) until the country can decide where to put them. Sort of like nuclear waste, I reckon.

If somebody can show me a photograph of a warehouse with bodies stacked like cordwood, or else dozens of mass graves dug post-Saddam, then I will believe it. Until then, I'm afraid I'm going to have to maintain a bit of skepticism about the Lancet's figure. It's conceivable that their methods are unsound.

So how does this relate to the election, as the category list indicates? Well, just an example of the goofy results that you can get from a poll when you deliberately disconnect it from any external, reality-based cross-checking.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 30, 2006, at the time of 6:06 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 29, 2006

The Lynne Cheney Smear Blowback

Atrocious Analogies , Elections , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

So let's take a quick look at the Lynne Cheney/James Webb imbroglio. A few days ago, Sen. George Allen (R-VA, 100%) released passages from some of the books (fiction and non-) published by his Democratic opponent, Jim Webb... excerpts that denigrate women and are very sexually explicit (and one bizarre cultural scene that probably isn't sex related, but is still awfully weird).

In a powerfully idiotic response that smacks of panic, Webb lashed out... not at Sen. Allen, but at Lynne Cheney, the wife of the vice president:

There’s nothing that’s been in any of my novels that in my view, hasn’t been either illuminating the surroundings, or defining a character, or moving a plot. I’m a serious writer. I mean, we can go and read Lynne Cheney’s lesbian love scenes if you want to, you know, get graphic on stuff.

I rely for veracity of the quote above upon CNN, which showed a clip of Webb during Wolf Blitzer's interview of Lynne Cheney -- ostensibly about her children's book, Our 50 States. I think it unlikely -- at least! -- that CNN would manufacture a fake clip just to burn Jim Webb.

Hugh's transcript of what Webb said is completely accurate: here is the YouTube clip. Webb's insert starts at 5:45 into the video:

(If this thingie actually works, it's the first YouTube video ever posted on Big LIzards!)

Let's start with the easy reasons why this is just about the worst way Webb could have chosen to respond to the Allen attack:

  1. Lynne Cheney isn't running for election anywhere. Neither is her husband, Vice President Dick Cheney.
  2. Neither of the Cheneys is from Virginia; both are from Wyoming, thousands of miles away.
  3. Lynne Cheney is a very sweet lady, beloved in most of the country (like Barbara Bush the elder); attacking her is like attacking Grandma.

See if Secretary Webb can squeeze this in between his ears: you don't attack someone like Lynne Cheney in the middle of your tight senatorial campaign. You just don't.

Why not? Does she have absolute moral authority, like Cindy Sheehan or the Jersey Girls? No, not at all; Lynne Cheney mixes it up in politics, and you can debate her (as Blitzer does) without anyone calling you a degenerate. But the reason you don't attack her is that you just end up looking like a big, mean, stupid jerk -- who doesn't think very highly of women.

  1. But here's one more reason why this particular fight picked by Webb demonstrates judgment so bad, it alone should disqualify him from public office: the very claim he made is a complete fabrication, easily disproved -- even by looking at left-liberal, Democratic websites like this one!

There are fifteen different excerpts on that site from Lynne Cheney's novel Sisters; please take the time to read them all. It shouldn't take you more than a few minutes -- five, tops. Let me know when you're back.

Dum de-dum, dum-ditty-ditty-dum-dah-DEE! ...Oops, sorry about that.

All right, now for the $20,887,197 question (that's the total amount raised in the Virginia Senate race as of mid-October, by the way): Would somebody please quote me the passage from Cheney's 1981 book that constitutes a "graphic" "lesbian love scene?" (Believe me, I've read hundreds, and I know what they're supposed to look like.)

All right... how about a non-graphic lesbian love scene? The closest we come is "Sophie" (evidently the protagonist) seeing a couple of women "embracing" in a wagon (the book takes place in 19th-century Wyoming, so you can envision this as a pioneer's covered wagon, if you please; a conestoga; a prairie schooner). Maybe you could call that a non-graphic lesbians in love scene; but that's not the same thing, is it?

You can contrast those passages you just read with these, courtesy Jim Webb. See if we can determine which of the two is "graphic."

Now honest to goodness, I have nothing against Webb writing graphic sex scenes in his books (though they appear a bit florid and forced; but maybe they're better motivated in context). I've written such myself -- and in a science-fiction magazine read by children! I think Allen's attack was silly.

And there are a number of responses Webb could have made that would have defanged the attack, maybe even turned it back on Allen. For example, "what will Geoge Allen do next... attack Murphy Brown?" Or if that's too esoteric, how about, "when I write about bad guys, I make them act really bad. That's why we call them -- bad guys!"

But I am at a complete loss here. How could a major-party candidate for the United States Senate be such a chowderhead, such a dunce, as to allow the DNC (or whoever gave him the talking points) to make a complete ass of him?

Has James Webb literally never heard of Google? Or for heaven's sake, he could have just sent a gofer down to the library to check the book out, then spent a marathon night reading the thing, before making a foolish charge so publicly.

As I said: judgment this incredibly bad, in and of itself, should DQ him from the job he's currently pursuing.

(Thanks to commenter Keys for catching a couple of typos above.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 29, 2006, at the time of 5:03 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

October 26, 2006

Dean Barnett Goes the Lizard Four Better!

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Over on Hugh Hewitt's blog, frequent guest blogger Dean Barnett makes a sensational senatorial prediction that's far more audacious even than mine (and not yet convincing to me):

But it’s in the Senate where I’m going to go out on a limb. All the close races? The ones in Virginia, Montana, Tennessee, Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland, and Missouri? We’re going to run the table except for one. I bet Ohio’s where we go down. In Pennsylvania or Michigan, either the brave Santorum or the increasingly impressive Bouchard will pull off the major upset. And in Rhode Island, heads they win, tails we lose. I personally hope the voters return Lincoln Chafee to private life where he’ll no doubt make a profound contribution to society as an eccentric philatelist or something along those lines.

In case you've lost count in all the excitement, I predicted a Democratic pickup of 3 seats (PA, OH, and Lincoln Chafee in RI). But Barnett predicts only one from the first batch he mentions. Since this list includes not one but two Democratic seats (New Jersey and Maryland), if we won all the races "except for one," that would be a net pickup of 1 seat for the Republicans, not the Democrats.

The PA and MI part would be a push as far as Barnett is concerned: either both senators retain their seats, or else they swap losses, with Rick Santorum being defeated in Pennsylvania, but so also Democrat Debbie Stabenow in Michigan.

Thus, adding in the tossed-up Lincoln Chafee (could go either way), the bottom line is that Dean Barnett predicts the Republicans will actually break even or even pick up 1 seat in the Senate.

I personally think he's crazy; but could he be crazy like Fox News? As Sarah Brightman sings, "only time will tell." And not much time at that.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 26, 2006, at the time of 7:36 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Kennedy Upset In the Making?

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

No no, you misunderstood: I'm talking about Republican Mark Kennedy, who is running against Amy Klobuchar to replace retiring Sen. Mark "Evacuatin'" Dayton (D-MN, 100%). I'm not predicting anyone will unseat Teddy!

According to John Hinderaker at Power Line, Kennedy, who has been running behind (14.6 points average behind on the Real Clear Politics Minnesota election page), is now "surging" -- perhaps in response to an ad that straightforwardly supports continuing the fight in Iraq (Minnesota is a marginally blue state, having gone for Kerry by 51% to 48% for Bush in 2004, and for Gore by 48% to 46% for Bush in 2000).

It hasn't shown up in the reported polling yet; John takes his information from internal polling in Mark Kennedy's campaign. But if this is true, if Kennedy really is surging, it would be a remarkable turnaround: it would be a fourth "toss-up" race in a Senate seat currently held by Democrats, and that could no longer be ignored. I would have to award at least one and possibly two of those to the Republicans in next Tuesday's penultimate prediction, meaning the Democrats might only pick up one or two net seats in the Senate.

I'm not at that point yet, nor will be until I see actual public polling that reflects such movement. But it's a race to keep in view.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 26, 2006, at the time of 6:51 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 25, 2006

The Friend Lee Lemma

Atrocious Analogies , Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Friend Lee, who assiduously follows all sporting events, including musk-ox racing in Nuuk Godthab, is of course watching each game of the World Series (of baseball, not poker), well-licked pencil stub in hand (yes, he's a stats freak; are you really surprised?) He suggests that we should all be rooting for the St. Louis Cardinals, because of a bizarre but nevertheless tenuous political connection. I have dubbed it the Friend Lee Lemma:

  1. In Missouri, Republican incumbent Sen. Jim Talent is running for reelection.
  2. By contrast, in Michigan, incumbent Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm wants another four years in the job, and incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow wants another six.
  3. It's a well known fact, which I just made up, that happy, gleeful voters tend to vote for the incumbent. By contrast, miserable, angry, bitter, resentful, hate-filled, and homicidal voters tend to vote for challengers.
  4. Hence, we want Missourians to be filled with transcendent giddiness, while Michiganites should be weeping and wailing and gnashing their teeth (which is also good for the economics of modern dentistry).
  5. So therefore, we should all root, root, root for the birds, not the cats. Quod erat demonstrandum, which I think means "also sprach Zarathustra."

This is what Friend Lee spends his days doing, when he's not recalculating every ballplayer's batting average, error average, and body-fat average. Gruesome, isn't it?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 25, 2006, at the time of 7:17 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 24, 2006

Sprint to the Finish Rises From Its Grave

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

The previous three predictive posts on the upcoming election are here:

It's been a while (ten days) since my last prediction on October 14th; now that the election is just two weeks away, it's high time I got the leg out and updated myself.

You may recall (but I highly doubt it, so I'll repeat it, and to heck with the lot of you!) that last time, the Big Lizards bottom line was a Democratic pick-up of 12 in the House and 4 in the Senate, although I didn't clearly articulate that prediction until the next day, with Bride of Sprint to the Finish:

Big Lizards has been bucking the tide of Republican defeatism, predicting that the GOP will limit their losses to 12 in the House and 4 in the Senate, retaining both houses.

Today, I went through every last congressional race on Real Clear Politics' "election pages," making my determination how each would go... and I have favorable revisions since last time.

Let's start with the House. I consider the following races actually in play; the rest are pretty clearly holds for the incumbent (mostly Republican but a few Democrats). Note that I call it a hold if the Republican is ahead in the most recent round of polling or if the Democrat is ahead by only 2-3 points; I believe the GOP ground-game will make up for that small an edge, thus they'll hold such seats.

Districts in bold blue are pretty certain Democratic pick-ups; boldface districts are probable pick-ups; and italicized districts are potential pick-ups. There are no Republican pick-ups, not even potentially... unless things change rather drastically in the next fortnight.

Here is the list, sorted by alphabetically by district and ignoring the holds:

  • AZ-8;
  • CO-7;
  • FL-16;
  • IA-1;
  • IN-2;
  • IN-8;
  • MN-6;
  • NC-11;
  • NM-1;
  • NY-24;
  • NY-26;
  • OH-15;
  • OH-18;
  • PA-6;
  • PA-7;
  • PA-10;
  • TX-22;

This works out to 2 certains, 7 probables, and 8 possibles. I gave the certains to the Democrats; and with the possibles (toss-ups), I gave the Democrats half. That makes a core of 6 pick-ups.

For the probables, I calculated them two different ways: with the Dems picking up 2/3rds of them (4-5 pick-ups), and with the Dems picking up 3/4ths of them (5-6 pick-ups). Thus, the total range is from a low of 10 to a high of 12 Democratic pick-ups. Thus, hitting right in the middle, Big Lizards is now prepared to predict a Democratic pick-up of 11 seats in the House, leaving the Republicans with a slim majority of 221 to 214.

Now to the Senate side of Congress. I'll mention each race here, because there are only thirteen that anybody cares about. The name is the name of the candidate from the incumbent party, whether that candidate is himself the incumbent or not.

This time, boldface means a certain pick-up (winner indicated by color); italics means probable pick-up; and color but no italics or bold means the party that currently holds that seat retains it. True toss-ups -- three of them -- are indicated by using italics with normal text color:

  • AZ-John Kyl (R): Republican hold;
  • MD-Ben Cardin (D): Toss-up; [I call MD a toss-up because it all hinges on the percent of the black vote that Michael Steele gets; if he gets 25%-30%, he wins.]
  • MI-Debbie Stabenow (D): Toss-up; [I call this a toss-up because of the recent announcement by Ford that they're laying off many thousands of workers; if subsequent polling shows that voters aren't holding that against incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow, I'll move this to Democratic hold -- though it makes no difference to the bottom line.]
  • MN-Amy Klobuchar (D): Democratic hold;
  • MO-Jim Talent (R): Republican hold;
  • MT-Conrad Burns (R): Republican hold;
  • NJ-Robert Menendez (D): Toss-up;
  • OH-Mike DeWine (R): certain Democratic pick-up;
  • PA-Rick Santorum (R): certain Democratic pick-up;
  • RI-Lincoln Chafee (R): probable Democratic pick-up;
  • TN-Bob Corker (R): Republican hold;
  • VA-George Allen (R): Republican hold;
  • WA-Maria Cantwell (D): Democratic hold;

As you can see, assuming you can figure out my cockamamie type-decoration code, we have 2 certain Democratic pick-ups (Pennsylvania and Ohio); we also have one probable Democratic pick-up.

But the three toss-ups are all seats currently held by Democrats. The rest are holds, either Repubilcan or Democrat.

So let's use the formula to estimate Democratic pick-ups: 2 (certain), plus two-thirds or three-fourths of the lone probable, which makes 3; but for the toss-ups, we get either 1 or 2 Republican pick-ups. Which means we would predict a Democratic pickup of 1 to 2 seats; let's be conservative and say a pickup of 2.

But I don't have as much confidence in my back of the thumb guesstimate for the Senate races as I do for the House races (since there are fewer of the former); thus, I'm going to hedge and say a Democratic pick-up of 3. (Basically, I doubt whether the Republicans can really nab any of those three toss-ups.)

New Big Lizards bottom line: we predict a Democratic pick-up of 11 in the House and 3 in the Senate, in each case one fewer than we predicted last time.

I will revisit my predictions again in a week, and then one more time on Election Day itself. Let's see how close we come!

~

If you're curious why others, such as Election Projection, predict higher numbers of pick-ups for the Democrats, there is an easy answer: most of the other sites look at a race like, say, Montana Senate -- where Republican Conrad Burns is running 3 points behind on the last two polls -- and they simply project that forward in a straight line and predict he will lose. But 3% is within the margin of error of each poll; that means the polls are really saying nothing more than "they're neck and neck."

With a tie two weeks before the election, I conclude the challenger has not overcome the hurdle of incumbency; Jon Tester hasn't made the sale. So with the superior GOP GOTV program, the power of incumbency, the monetary advantage of the Republicans, and the natural tendency of all polling to slightly bias towards Democrats, and where the momentum is in the Republican's favor -- I instead believe that such a razor-close race will go to the Republican.

That is, Election Projection, et al, are telling you what the result might be if (a) the election were held today, instead of two weeks from today, and (b) assuming the Republicans have no advantage because of their superior ground game, which even the Democrats admit they do.

So here we are. (I like that better than "there we are," since I needn't explain where "there" is; "here" is obvious.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 24, 2006, at the time of 10:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Obama Drama

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

(The "Elections" category refers to '08, not '06 -- forwarned is forsworn!)

So I'm just settling back down into my Hume-watching seat (which is generally lying prone on the carpet drinking a stiff apple martini through a Crazy Straw) -- having previously leapt to my feet in hilarity when Brit Hume accidentally introduced Mara Liasson as "Mort Kondrake" (I am too easily amused) -- when she said something that would have rocked me back on my heels if they hadn't been pointed ceilingwards.

Talking about Sen. Barack Hussein Obama, jr. (D-IL, 100%), Mara managed to blurt out that he had "a compelling life story."

After I ceased choking and extracted the Crazy Straw from my larynx, I ran to my infallible source, Wikipedia, to see whether there were some extraordinary event in Obama's brief life so far (he's younger than I, another reason he cannot be allowed to win the presidency).

I confess, I was surpised at what an adventurous, danger-filled life he lead, the things those oyster-eyes of his have seen. I learned a great deal I had never known about Obama. I think that after you hear about his disadvantaged upbringing and his sorrows, that you, too, will wish we could give him some sort of prize... other than the presidency, of course, since he's way too liberal and has virtually no experience. And there's that age thing, but I think I already covered that.

Obama was born in war-ravaged Honolulu in 1961 (what did I tell you?) His father was a Harvard economist, while his mother was an anthropologist from Kansas; yet despite this deprivation, Obama has gone on to be one of the most celebrated men of recent history.

He spent his formative years learning, teaching, and defending his ancestral manse from marauding members of the haole tribe, who frequently raided to capture slaves for the Dole Pineapple plantation -- which still grew pineapples, rather the tourists, in those days of yore.

During this period, Obama was described by many as the mainstay of the community, the one to whom everyone turned for advice on minimum wage, military redeployment, and animal husbandry. But then, at age two, tragedy struck: Obama's parents divorced. When Obama was six, his mother packed him off to the jungles of Indonesia, where he excelled in the simple but effective guerilla tactics that would later serve him so well as a statesman.

Rescued at age 10, when his mother returned to sanity and to Hawaii -- deadly though it may be, he still called it home -- he enrolled in the fifth grade.

We skip seven years, thankfully. I don't know if my heartstrings can take much more of this. When next we intersect the Great Man, he has graduated high school and enrolled in a junior college in Los Angeles. But he never forgot his deep, ethinic roots. Many years after leaving, he said:

The irony is that my decision to work in politics, and to pursue such a career in a big Mainland city, in some sense grows out of my Hawaiian upbringing, and the ideal that Hawaii still represents in my mind.

King Kamehameha himself would have been proud of the Kenyan-Kansan-American Obama, spiritual heir to the island majesty.

But such genius could never be satisfied by the cramped confines of Occidental College. Bursting forth, like Minerva from the brow of Zeus -- or was that Athena from the brow of Cicero? -- Obama and his entourage transferred base of operations to the world-renowned Columbia University in New York City (Los Angeles not having been quite liberal enough).

Obama was a pioneer in more ways than two: he took a daring combination major of both political science and international relations, demonstrating the finely honed ability to juggle many more balls than most men can ever dream of handling. I should rephrase that, but I'm under a deadline here.

Surprisingly, considering the manifold difficulties and dangers faced first by the boy, then the man, Obama graduated with a B.A. But he was not content to rush immediately to Harvard Law, as so many other lesser men have done. Nay, Obama knew that the first duty of any man who has clawed his way out of the Honolulu ghetto was to give back to the community.

Thus, rather than yield to his own selfish desires, Obama gave selflessly for a year at Business International Corporation, followed by a four-year stint as a missionary and freedom rider in late 1980s Chicago.

Then he went to Harvard. But you knew we were getting there eventually, didn't you? While at the world's greatest and most liberal law school, Obama became a pioneer once again, becoming the very first ever half-African, half-Kansan, who had grown up in Hawaii, elected president of Harvard Law Review. This is an inspiring "first" that no one can take away from him, no matter what else may happen in his life.

Rounding out this utterly compelling drama of his days before becoming a public servant, when he would devote the rest of his life to generously helping constituents (as all politicans do, that noble breed), I can do no better than simply to quote the great Wikipedia itself, documenting Obama's sweep from triumph to triumph:

On returning to Chicago, Obama supported a voter registration drive, then worked for the civil rights law firm Miner, Barnhill and Galland, and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School.

I truly must doff my chapeau and hold it over my heart. It is rare to be touched by such greatness, even in a country as wide and thick as ours.

But Barack Hussein Obama did not rest on his laurels nor sit down on his well-padded plaudits. Rather, he busted his accolades to rise to the high ranks of the state legislature. Alas, Obama was unaware that his life, hitherto untouched by calamity (except for his parents' divorce, several screens ago), was about to come crashing down around his well-developed earmarks.

In a devastating blow in 2000, Barack Hussein Obama was informed that he had lost the primary for the Democratic nomination to the United States House of Representatives. His career in ruins, his future shattered, Obama hit the nadir of his life. But it was there, in such adversity, that he showed the true superiority that has marked him as Fate's special star since those bitter, threat-filled days in Honolulu.

Refusing to accept failure, he came back... and in a victory described as "brilliant" by many observers, Obama managed to shepherd a law through the Illinois State Senate that made it mandatory for health insurers to cover routine mammograms. Is there any wonder that such a man should be considered presidential timber?

But as the capstone of his life -- so far! -- he ran for liberal, Democratic senator in a liberal, Democratic state to replace the conservative, Republican Peter Fitzgerald; thus did Obama avenge the shameful evil that Fitzgerald committed by defeating one of the grand dames of American politics, former Sen. Carol Mosley-Braun, in an election that was widely thought to have been corrupt, in that the Chicago dead were deliberately disenfranchised.

In the midst of Obama's historic campaign -- where he achieved yet another pioneering goal, becoming the very first descendent of a Wichita native, and whose middle name happened to be the same as a famous tyrant, ever to be elected senator from Illinois -- Obama was tapped to give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention... which was justly famous as the only political convention in modern American history not to give the party's nominee any "bump" whatsoever. But surely that cannot be laid at the doorstop of the keynote speaker!

And here comes Mr. Obama now, having served long in the Senate without even a single investigation, scandal, or night spent in detox to blot his record. Considering his mixed "salt" and "pepper" heritage, which he loses no opportunity to discuss, Obama truly is a man for all seasons.

And I'm sure it is now as clear as kristol what Mara Liasson meant by her understated description of the life of Barack Hussein Obama, with all the drama of a storybook, as simply "compelling."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 24, 2006, at the time of 5:41 AM | Comments (31) | TrackBack

October 23, 2006

Barron's Sliver Lining

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Barron's Magazine believes that the GOP will do a lot better in the looming election than anyone else has predicted, based on their own, unique predictive method (even better than Big Lizards thinks!) They will hold both House and Senate by a sliver, says Barron's.

Although I'm not entirely sure I buy the premise -- predicting electoral victory on the basis of who has the biggest war chest -- I'm also not willing to dismiss it out of hand. Barron's makes a persuasive case, marred only by my own obvious bias in the issue:

We studied every single race -- all 435 House seats and 33 in the Senate -- and based our predictions about the outcome in almost every race on which candidate had the largest campaign war chest, a sign of superior grass-roots support. We ignore the polls. Thus, our conclusions about individual races often differ from the conventional wisdom. Pollsters, for instance, have upstate New York Republican Rep. Tom Reynolds trailing Democratic challenger Jack Davis, who owns a manufacturing plant. But Reynolds raised $3.3 million in campaign contributions versus $1.6 million for Davis, so we score him the winner.

The case has been attacked by many on both left and right; for example:

  • University of Wisconsin Professor Kenneth Mayer has nought but scorn for the prediction; Power Line prints his e-mail;
  • Jay Cost flatly rejects the Barron's prediction.

But I believe both of these gentlemen have missed the actual point behind the Barron's prediction. Which is hardly surprising, as Barron's themselves missed it; the article shows significant zig-zagging between two very different points:

  • The actual dollars raised by each candidate;
  • The small-contribution dollars raised by individuals, as opposed to those received from organizations (including parties) and from multimillionaire contributers.

Both these figures are important; but they are important for reasons that are orthogonal to each other. The first tells us how much cash is available for television and radio adverts and for get out the vote (GOTV) operations; the second is a proxy for "grass-roots support," as Barron's put it.

And therein may lie the solution to this conundrum. Barron's only directly addresses this once in their article:

In Rhode Island, we predict Republican Lincoln Chafee will lose to democratic challenger Sheldon Whitehouse, a former U.S. attorney. Whitehouse has raised more than $4 million versus about $3.5 million for Chafee. According to the Center for Responsive politics, nearly 80% of the challenger's money comes from individuals as opposed to political committees. Chafee has raised about 50% from individuals. Clearly Whitehouse has a better organization.

I think Barron's is onto something; but the comparison isn't only warchest to warchest; it's also fundraising capability among ordinary people. Here is where the misunderstanding comes in; Cost devotes his post to debunking the idea that the amount of money determines who wins:

(1) A dollar is worth more to a challenger than an incumbent [because the incumbent is already well defined]....

(2) Not all campaign dollars are created equal [early money does a better job of defining a candidate and his opponent than money spent later in the campaign]....

(3) Weak incumbents raise more money than strong incumbents [because they must]....

(4) Well-funded challengers almost always have good angles [else why would big-bucks backers bother?]

I assume as a given that Jay Cost is correct on each of his points; total money doesn't always determine the wnner, but a certain amount is required to be competitive. But this analysis does not distinguish between a self-financed (or Soros-financed) challenger who pours millions into his own election, and one who has raised his money across the district or state by lots and lots of $50 donations. Alas, Barron's analysis doesn't seem to distinguish between those either, at least not systematically.

(Both Cost and Mayer also point out that the Barron's analysis only uses Q3 figures; but the Q4 figures -- those from October and the first week of November -- are critical to determining late-breaking support.)

I think there is good reason to see the ability to raise many small donations from ordinary constituents as a proxy for voting, certainly more so than answering a poll question. I am pretty sure that virtually everybody in the district who donates $50 or $100 to a candidate will also vote for that candidate. (This doesn't mean the opposite: obviously, the vast majority of people who vote for a candidate never contributed any money.) When you have a district where one candidate has raised $2 million in small donations, and the other candidate has only raised $1 million in small donations, I think that does say something about the voter support for each candidate.

Whereas, a candidate who simply pours millions into his own campaign doesn't necessarily have the level of support that the raw warchest figures would indicate... just ask "Senator" Darrell Issa, who poured $12 million of his own money into the 1998 California primary campaign, only to see himself beaten by Matt Fong, who raised $3 million.

Barron's needs to recalculate its figures, this time paying attention not only to the total warchest of each candidate, but also the percentage of money raised by small donors. They need to craft some formula to combine these two, as both are important. And they need to include at least the October figures to try to pick up the late deciders. I'd also like to see a time series, so we can see if there is any significant momentum to the donations in each race.

Reframing funding as a proxy for eventual voter support by focusing on smaller amounts of money donated by ordinary people should address some of the rebuttal points that Jay Cost raised, especially (2) -- the money may be more important earlier than later, but larger numbers of ordinary people willing to donate is more important later than earlier, since it's a proxy for people finally making up their minds.

Even so, let's not be fixated on any single proxy method of measuring voters... either political polls, warchests, or any other. All should be considered.

Alas, what is happening right now is a political Tet Offensive, where the elite media publish attacks on Republicans, on everything from Iraq to al-Qaeda to the economy to embryonic stem cells to global warming, in order to persuade Americans that defeat is inevitable.

Just as the Vietnamese Communists in 1968 and the Iraqi terrorists this Ramadan tried to make Americans think they were winning -- aided and abetted by the same elite media -- the Democrats today have decided that the best way for them to win is to convince Republican voters that their votes don't matter, because the election is already over.

They tried the same tactic in 2000, 2002, and 2004.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 23, 2006, at the time of 5:05 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 21, 2006

Ain't That a Kick In the Head!

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Just after September 11th this year, the Republicans began to move forward, picking up support in the elections. For two weeks, the GOP surged, and it started to look like they might pull the election out after all.

But all that came to a screeching halt on September 29th, when ABC and the Washington Post questioned Rep. Mark Foley, revealing for the first time that they had the explicit Instant Messages. Foley resigned that same day, and "scandal season" opened.

Bad for Republicans, right? Well, not so fast, partner!

The Democrats' support surged in the wake of the resignation; they hit their apogee about October 11th or 12th, in a series of polls that had a bunch of the antique media swooning over the possibility of a 1994-sized tsunami. Supposedly acute pundits who hadn't touched a drop bandied around numbers like 40, 45, even 50 seats changing hands from the GOP to the Democrats.

But now, two and a half weeks before the election, the pendulum begins to swing back the other direction. Republicans are starting to tick upwards again, as the scandal burns itself out -- and themes such as the vibrant economy, low taxes, and of course national security come to fore. Even Iraq now gets a vigorous defense as an integral part of the war on jihadis. The Democrats appear to have lost momentum.

But... if that is the case, then what about the earlier Republican renaissance? That would ordinarily have hit its high point about mid-October, after which the pendulum would have started swinging leftwards again. Had the Democrats ignored the Foley mess and focused on making their own electoral arguments (saying that the Bush administration hadn't made us any safer, etc.), and allowing the natural, sinusoidal wave pattern to continue... then at this very moment, we would be seeing the Democrats, not the Republicans, picking up steam.

The Democrats interrupted that natural cycle; and when it reasserted itself, the scandal had shifted it by 180°, flipping it upside-down, transposing the party that was falling (the GOP) with the party that was rising (Democratic).

In other words, the most noticible effect of the Democratic Party's scandalmongering was to prevent the Republicans from peaking too soon!

Once again, the Democrats come galluping in from stage left to rescue the GOP from its own folly. If we manage to hold both houses of Congress, I think we owe a debt of gratitude to the Democrats for nudging the cycle just when it had settled in to give them the victory.

"Thank you, masked man!"

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 21, 2006, at the time of 12:07 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

October 20, 2006

In Shocker, Arizona to Restrict Voting to Legal Voters

Court Decisions , Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

A lot of us are really scratching our heads... not at this U.S. Supreme Court ruling (overturning an injunction), but at the fact that the underlying law is even controversial at all:

Arizona voters will have to present identification at the polls on Nov. 7 after all.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that Arizona can go ahead with requiring voters to present a photo ID, starting with next month's general election, as part of the Proposition 200 that voters passed in 2004. The ruling overturns an Oct. 5 decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which put the voter ID rules on hold this election cycle.

Now, this was not a ruling on the merits of the case. Rather, the 9th Circus Court of Appeals -- the most overruled circuit court in the nation -- issued an injunction on October 5th to prevent the 2004 law from going into effect... even though it already had gone into effect during the primary election.

What happened today is that the Supreme Court overturned the injunction by the 9th Circus:

The Supreme Court on Friday did not decide whether the new voter ID rules are constitutional. That decision is still pending in federal district court.

Instead, the court decided that the 9th Circuit made a procedural error by granting an injunction to put the new rules on hold without waiting for the district court to explain its reasons for not granting an injunction.

The Court ruled that the 9th improperly rushed to grant the injunction -- in my own opinion, because they were desperate to prevent it from being applied in the 2006 general election -- and that they should have waited to hear the reasoning of the district court for why they refused to grant an injunction earlier.

Since there is no way that the district court and the appellate court can have their exchange before November 7th, that means that Arizona will become a test case for the radical, new concept that only American citizens who are legally empowered to vote -- should be allowed to vote.

It's clear why Democrats are so worried about this law, as well as a similar federal law that was passed by the House of Representatives this term... yet another great bill passed by the Republican majority with virtually no Democratic help: the final vote on September 20th was 228 Ayes, only four of them from Democrats, to 196 Nays, all but three of them Democrats (counting Socialist Bernie Sanders as a Democrat, since that's who he caucuses with).

196 out of 202 Democrats, 97% of the party, voted against requiring citizenship ID in order to vote. Why? Because a large number of Democrats are elected with the help of illegal votes from non-citizens and felons.

If a wave of states, especially in the Southwest and possibly California, begin enacting laws requiring voters to show actual proof of citizenship before voting (or if the federal Congress does so nationally), then all of a sudden, we're going to have a lot fewer Democrats in the House.

I expect the Democrats to filibuster the House bill when it comes up in the Senate during the lame-duck session following the election; and Democratic-controlled state legislatures (such as California's) will never enact such bills. But as Arizona's Proposition 200 shows, state citizens can pass referendums for such a common-sense reform.

Let's keep our fingers crossed that when the Supreme Court actually rules on the merits (as I'm sure they will, if they lifted the injunction), that they actually uphold it. It's hard to see how this could violate the National Voting Rights Act of 1965, since there is no impermissible literacy test or any other racially based test for voting. Even when the Act was passed, everybody, including every member of Congress who voted for it and the president who signed it (Lyndon Johnson). Since there is provision for indigent voters to receive their ID for free, you can't even ding it for being an illegal poll tax.

It's time we reintroduced sanity to the electoral process. No Democratic politician has the guts to stand up and actually propose that non-citizens be allowed to vote; they want the courts to do it for them.

Not even legally resident aliens supposed to vote, let alone illegals; there is no coherent reason to refuse to check voter identification... other than a desire to circumvent the law and let non-citizens determine the results of American elections, to the advantage of the Democratic Party.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 20, 2006, at the time of 5:34 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

October 17, 2006

CAN the Polls All Be "Screwy?" Of Course They Can

Elections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

Over at Power Line, John and Paul (but neither George nor Ringo) are intoning a mantra that "the polls can't all be screwy."

But in fact, they can be. I'm not saying they are; but it's entirely possible that every, last poll has made a critical false assumption that will only show up when the final vote is tallied on November 7th. However, even if this is true, it might not be enough for them to retain Congress, unless they also improve in the public polling.

(By an amazing synchronicity, just as I was finishing this post, Hugh Hewitt's show came on -- and he was interviewing Scott Rasmussen on this exact question!)

Here is what Paul wrote:

The White House is pointing out that the polls used by major news organizations to show that voters strongly favor Democrats this year all employ samples in which voter id does not reflect historical norms. Specifically, in polls by USA Today/Gallup, CBS/NYTimes, ABC/WP, Newsweek, AP/Ipsos, Time, and Pew, Democrats exceeded Republicans by margins greater than those that existed in any recent election....

But what about all of those polls by Rasmussen, et al that show Democrats ahead in so many of the key races in individual jurisdictions? As John said, "the polls can't all be screwy."

The bias problem doesn't show up much in the wording of questions; it's hard to mess up a question like "do you plan to vote for Republican Rick Santorum or Democrat Bob Casey jr.?" Especially when half the respondents hear instead, "do you plan to vote for Democrat Bob Casey jr. or Republican Rick Santorum?" Nor is there any overt, deliberate attempt to pick an overly liberal (or conservative) pool of respondents.

But before putting stock in any poll, we must understand the provenance of polling in general. What pollsters report is not the raw percentage of how respondents (hereafter, "Rs") answered the poll questions; nor should it be. If a state's electorate is 12% black, but the poll sample ended up being 18% black, then that pool of respondents is not representative of the electorate, and the responses should be "weighted" to bring that into line.

Weighting means that the number of responses for each candidate that come from (self-described) black Rs is multiplied by 12/18, while the corresponding responses from white Rs are multiplied by the corresponding fraction of 88/82, thus bringing the total responses from each group of Rs down or up to what the pollster expects. In fact, pollsters simultaneously weight for a large number of such variables, all based upon their predicted "turnout models" for each of those subgroups of voter... and therein lies the rub. [I misstated the second fraction up there, but alert commenter PBRMan Stone caught me, thank goodness. One hates being caught, but not as much as one would hate not being caught!]

In order to determine whether the poll sample includes too many or too few black, Hispanic, female, college-educated, impoverished, rich, or Catholic Rs, the pollster must first decide what the right number will be. But how do they do this?

First, of course, they look at past elections. In this case, that would mean the election of 2002, since the election of 2004 is not comparable: it's very hard to compare a purely congressional election to a presidential election, because the dynamics are completely different. But this backwards look is not sufficient, because circumstances have changed dramatically since then: for one thing, President Bush was polling at 60% or so in 2002 but only at about 40% today.

Thus, the pollster must adjust the expected turnout model to take these changes into account; and this is where the bias creeps in, probably unbeknownst to the pollster: how much less turnout should we expect from evangelical voters in 2006 vice 2002? How much more turnout of women, or blacks, or Hispanics?

Pollsters don't answer these numbers in the dark: they can start with demographic statistics from the Census Bureau, for example, telling them whether the black population of Pennsylvania has increased or decreased and by how much. But that doesn't necessarily predict whether the percent turnout of blacks in Pennsylvania will go up or down, or by how much: if a state passed a motor-voter bill that caused a big jump in registrations of 18 and 19 year olds, that doesn't necessarily imply an equivalent jump in 18 and 19 year olds actually voting.

But there is one controversial category that is the true wild card and will be the subject of the rest of this post: party identification. I'm not going to bother adding links for everything I say here; it's a research project all on its own. But here is the lowdown:

There is a huge, unresolved debate among pollsters: to what extent does party identification by an R actually reflect his party registration, and to what extent does it instead reflect which party he supports now? In other words, of all the people who now say they're "Independent," how many are actually registered Democrats or Republicans who are just saying they're Independent because they're unhappy with the direction their actual registered party has taken?

The vast majority of public pollsters resolve this problem by simply ignoring it: they use the possibility that party ID might reflect actual voter intent to reject weighting by party ID at all. In fact, of the major public pollsters, only Rasmussen weights for party ID... and even they use a turnout model based upon (wait for it) polling! Thus, they ask Rs their party ID -- and use that to weight other poll samples for party ID. Yeesh!

(Hugh failed to ask Scott Rasmussen one question, the answer to which I've been dying to hear: since Rasmussen does weight for party ID, how often is he forced to adjust in favor of the Democrats, implying an oversampling of Republicans? My guess would be that he almost always adjusts in favor of Republicans, implying his samples -- thus the samples of many other pollsters who do not weight for party ID -- tend to overpoll Democrats.)

How much to weight for party ID is a weighty question for a very weighty reason: if poll samples consistently come up with significantly more Democrats and Independents than voted in the last comparable election (and consequently fewer Republicans), does that mean that a bunch of registered Republicans now consider themselves more in the Independent or Democratic camps -- hence will vote that way -- or does it mean there is an unidentified but systemic bias in the sample selection that will disappear when voters actually go to the polls?

In other words, should polls be weighted to "correct" the typical "oversampling" in favor of the Left in the pool of Rs, or does that supposed oversampling actually reflect true voter intent -- hence should not be eliminated by weighting?

And there is a related question that even further complicates the situation: assume some number of Republicans are mad at the party, so when asked their party affilliation, they say "Independent" or even "Democrat," and when asked who they will vote for, they say "Casey." What percent of them will, in the end, come back to the fold and vote for Santorum, even if they must hold their noses while doing so? After all, if you believe that a person will "switch" his party affilliation one direction, then he could jolly well switch it back in the voting booth, too.

The reality is that the percent of overpolled Democrats and Independents who are in fact "false-flag" voters -- voters who say they're one party while actually being another -- is neither 0% or 100%; nor will all the false-flaggers actually vote for Democrats:

  1. Some of the increase pollsters see is genuine, and will result in greater turnout of registered Democrats and Independents, hence more votes for Democratic candidates;
  2. Some is false-flag, but committed: Republicans saying they're something else, but as a true sea-change in their thinking, which will carry through to the polls, resulting in more (Republican) votes for Democrats;
  3. But some is false-false-flag, meaning they're false-flagging now -- but in the end, for whatever reason, they will come to their senses and return to the fold, voting for the Republican candidate after all.

Every pollster would admit this, though you might have to get him drunk enough. But nobody, and I mean nobody, actually knows what percent of the supposed "oversampling" of the Left is actually Type 3 -- thus leading to an actual, systemic, bias in the polls in favor of Democratic candidates.

If (3) is but a small portion of the supposed overpolling, then the polls are likely fairly accurate -- as of this moment. Under this turnout model, the Left is not being oversampled much at all. But if the large increase in Democratic and Independent party ID is largely explained by false-false-flag voters, then the oversampling is real and could be significant.

The answer to this question changes from day to day, naturally: a committed false-flag voter can turn into a false-false-flag voter three days before the election, if he hears the right argument, either in an advert or from a neighbor.

For my own guess -- and that is all it really is -- I think that the percent of the overpolling that is false-false-flag is significant. Here is what the White House said in that press release linked by Paul above:

In short, between 1992 and 2004, only once did one party enjoy an advantage as large as 4 points over the other in party ID. But in recent polling samples used by eight different polling organizations (USA Today/Gallup, CBS/NYTimes, ABC/Washington Post, CNN/Opinion Research, Newsweek, AP/Ipsos, Pew, and Time), the Democratic advantage in the sample surveyed was never less than 5 points. All these organizations conducted surveys in early October. According to Winston, the Democrats held the following party ID advantages in these early-October surveys:

• USAToday/Gallup: 9 points
• CBS/NYT: 5 points
• ABC/WP: 8 points
• CNN: did not provide sample party ID details
• Newsweek: 11 points
• AP/Ipsos: 8 points
• Pew: 7 points
• Time: 8 points

While I'm sure there has been some honest "false-flagging" by registered Republicans who actually intend to vote Democratic, hence identify themselves as Independent to the pollster -- and even some actual party-registration switching away from the Republican Party -- I do not believe that it is such a staggering increase as we see here. 8 points? 9 points? 11 points?

However, there is no question that Republicans are running behind right now, even taking the false-false-flaggers into account. Rasmussen polls do weight for party ID; and even though they base their guess of turnout on polling, Scott Rasmussen just said (on Hugh Hewitt, remember?) that many of the races (including Sens. Mike DeWine and Rick Santorum) have Republicans so far behind that even upping turnout to the 2002 level doesn't put them ahead.

That is why I have estimated that systemic bias in public polling accounts for only 1% - 2%: that's my back of the pants guess of the impact of type-3 "false-false-flag" Rs.

I also guess that the advantage Republicans enjoy on GOTV, money, and general skill at closing (including the power of incumbency) will give them an additional 3% - 4% on average, though not evenly distributed among the races. Thus, most Republicans who are only down by 4% or less in the last public polls before the election have an excellent chance of pulling it out.

So in answer to John's aphorism (and Paul's quotation of John's aphorism), yes, it's certainly possible that all the polls are, in fact, screwy. But it's impossible to know that for sure until after the election.

Also, even if screwy, there is no way to measure just how screwy they are: it might not be enough to make up for the Republican deficit.

But it might change the outcome in some close races. It's certainly worth pursuing the question of trying to figure out how much of the "oversampling" actually reflects a real shift in the electorate, and how much is actually an improper oversampling that should be corrected by weighting.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 17, 2006, at the time of 4:36 PM | Comments (28) | TrackBack

October 15, 2006

Bride of Sprint to the Finish

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

The previous two posts on the upcoming election are here:

Big Lizards has been bucking the tide of Republican defeatism, predicting that the GOP will limit their losses to 12 in the House and 4 in the Senate, retaining both houses. And today, we got some support... from a couple of fellows named Bush and Rove:

Amid widespread panic in the Republican establishment about the coming midterm elections, there are two people whose confidence about GOP prospects strikes even their closest allies as almost inexplicably upbeat: President Bush and his top political adviser, Karl Rove.

Some Republicans on Capitol Hill are bracing for losses of 25 House seats or more. But party operatives say Rove is predicting that, at worst, Republicans will lose only 8 to 10 seats -- shy of the 15-seat threshold that would cede control to Democrats for the first time since the 1994 elections and probably hobble the balance of Bush's second term. [Say, Karl Rove is even more upbeat than the lizards!]

In the Senate, Rove and associates believe, a Democratic victory would require the opposition to "run the table," as one official put it, to pick up the necessary six seats -- a prospect the White House seems to regard as nearly inconceivable.

I'm sticking with my prediciton of a loss of 12 seats in the House for now; but then, I don't have access to anywhere near the level of information that Rove has: internal polling, intimate knowledge of the upcoming GOTV (get out the vote) effort, and the full accounting of the money raised by both parties. But I reserve the right to keep fiddling with my predictions every day, if I feel like it, until the day of the vote itself -- November 7th.

So take heart, and ignore the doomcryers: we optimists may be wrong, but by God and my right arm, we'll go down fighting like hell. We won't lie down and die just to avoid making a scene.

Get your rumps out of your chairs and go vote. Vote early, vote often! Make the Democrats struggle for every bloody district they win from us... give them no freebies.

From my favorite play of all time:

MACDUFF
Then yield thee, coward,
And live to be the show and gaze o' the time:
We'll have thee, as our rarer monsters are,
Painted on a pole, and underwrit,
'Here may you see the tyrant.'

MACBETH
I will not yield,
To kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet,
And to be baited with the rabble's curse.
Though Birnam wood be come to Dunsinane,
And thou opposed, being of no woman born,
Yet I will try the last. Before my body
I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff,
And damn'd be him that first cries, 'Hold, enough!'

That's how I live my life; that's how I manifest my politics. So lay on, MacPelosi!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 15, 2006, at the time of 3:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 14, 2006

Addendum to Sprint to the Finish

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

In Sprint to the Finish, I found the election picture nowhere near as bleak as does Power Line. But I neglected to add one more interesting twist to this already fascinating series of contests.

Keep your eyes on California and Florida!

  • We have a governor's race here between incumbent Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic challenger Phil Angelides; in Florida, the race is between Republican Charlie Crist and Democrat Jim Davis;
  • At first, both looked as if they would be close races; but now, Angelides and Davis are far behind and it looks like a foregone conclusion that Arnold will be handily reelected in Cah-lee-for-nee-ah and Crist breeze to the governor's mansion in Florida;
  • In fact, Daniel Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee-blog California Insider reports that the unions in the Golden state have stopped giving Angelides money... not because they don't like him anymore, but because they consider it, in Weintraub's words, a "suicide mission;"
  • Without this money, Angelides is not only unlikely to close the gap with Schwarzenegger, he may very well plummet further in the polls;
  • All of the above can have a major effect on the downticket races -- including races for the U.S. House -- as dispirited Democrats turn out in smaller numbers than expected;

California and Florida... maybe it's something in the oranges?

I don't believe there were any California Republican seats on the endangered list; and California is one of the most heavily gerrymandered states in the country. But there may still be marginal Democratic seats that could surprisingly switch to the GOP. Even one or two such could spell the difference between holding the House and losing it to the Democrats.

Alas, I can find no comprehensive list of polling in California's 53 congressional districts.

In Florida, lower Democratic turnout may help retain the Foley seat (Florida 16, contested by Joe Negron), a possible Democratic pickup where the Democrat (Tim Mahoney) has a small lead, and ensure that Katherine Harris' seat (Florida 13, contested by Vern Buchanan) doesn't go to Democrat Christine Jennings (who leads slightly), staying with the GOP.

But let's turn also to what many call the "gold standard" of election projections... the website called, efficiently enough, ElectionProjection.com.

They "project" that the Democrats pick up six seats in the Senate to take control (I'm counting Lieberman as a Democrat, since he will surely caucus with them); but you have to read between the lions a bit: when they "project" a pick up, they count every race where a Democrat currently leads... including those with very small leads.

Of the six projected "pickups," half of them are listed as "Weak DEM Gain," which means the Democrat is ahead by less than 5%. Thus, for this projection to come true, Democrats would have to win every last toss-up race where they are currently ahead.

Of course, it's also true that there are Republican holds are listed as weak; or rather, there is one: Virginia. I believe that Republican Sen. George Allen will retain his seat -- there hasn't been a single recent poll showing James Webb in the lead, and the current Real Clear Politics average is Allen +4.6.

Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez is also listed as a "Weak DEM Hold," but I think it's a lot weaker than George Allen's (Menendez's average lead is only 3.9%); thus, it's a good bet (though not a sure thing) that Allen holds and Menendez is knocked off by Republican Tom Kean, jr. Combine that with a loss of one of the three "Weak DEM Gain" projections, and the Dems would only pickup a net 4 in the Senate. If two of the three weak Democratic gains remain in GOP hands, it's only a net pickup of 3.

Over on the House side, Election Projection currently only shows a net Democratic pickup (same as the raw, since they don't project any GOP pickups) of 13 seats; but again, many of those -- 9 of the 13 -- are weak. However, in this case, there are also 16 weak Republican holds and 5 weak Democratic holds.

I typically treat those as 50-50 races, in which case we get a net Democratic pickup of 14, rather than 13. Still, that's just barely enough for the GOP to hold the House... with a 219-216 majority (with 435 House seats total, 218 is the smallest majority). Katherine Harris' seat (Buchanan) is one of the weak GOP holds, and Mark Foley's seat (Negron) is one of the weak Democratic pickups; the lopsided Florida governor's race could favorably affect both of these.

This is dicey, of course; I very much hope that the polling trend continues, with the Foley follies continuing to exeunt stage left, and national security, terrorism, North Korea, lower gasoline and heating prices, and the robust economy seizing center stage. (I'm still amazed that the Foley imbroglio has helped the Democrats at all: after all, if your big fear is that gay congressmen might have sex scandals with the pages, the solution cannot possibly be to elect more Democrats!)

So again, right at the moment, a realistic projection has the GOP retaining both houses, albeit by the narrowest margin in recent history in the House of Representatives. But with even a small breeze at the Republican's back (fading Foley, rising seriousness), the House margin should be significantly improved. Especially if there are any surprises arising from the California and Florida gubernatorial blowouts.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 14, 2006, at the time of 4:00 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Sprint to the Finish

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Power Line is pessimistic about the election (so what else is new?); but I just went through the list of all 40 competitive House races on Real Clear Politics, and I found only 8 clear pickups for the Democrats.

Of course, many of the remaining races were tossups with the Dems slightly ahead, and they will win several of them. But I still don't see a clear path to a net pickup of 15, which is what they need to take the House back.

The Republicans have an incredible GOTV (get out the vote) drive, much better than the Democrats; this is probably good for 3%-4% in the polls. And the natural bias of polls towards Democrats is good for another 1%-2%. Thus, I call it for the Democrats if they're generally winning in the polls by 7% or better; closer than that, and it's questionable whether the Dems can make it across the finish line in first place.

Another point I noticed: a number of races were much worse for the Republicans just a week or two ago... which indicates there might be some momentum back towards the GOP, just as there was right before ABC dropped the Foley bombshell, which they had sat on for months.

On the Senate side, there is no race that is a clear blowout pickup for either party: Menendez (D) maintains a slight lead in New Jersey, Santorum (R-PA) is running slightly behind, and so forth. With a really good GOTV push by the Republicans and the natural advantage of incumbency, Republicans should hold half of their eight competitive seats, which would result in a back of the thumbnail prediction of the Democrats picking up 3 or 4 net Senate seats, depending on how New Jersey goes.

Much depends upon the next two weeks: if Republicans get their "groove" back, as they had it in late September -- and if there are no more October bombshells -- then I still think the GOP is likely to retain both houses of Congress.

All in all, I'm optimistic about the election. (So what else is new?)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 14, 2006, at the time of 8:13 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

October 12, 2006

Warner Bothers

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

As everybody and his monkey's uncle knows by know, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner -- who bowed out of a prematch with Sen. George Allen (R-VA, 100%), we all assumed so he could focus his energy on winning the 2008 Democratic nomination for president -- has now blown that one off, too:

Former Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia, who has been traveling across the country for more than a year exploring a bid for the White House, said today that, after “a lot of reflection, prayer and soul-searching,” he had decided not to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008....

He said his decision was based on family considerations, but he pointedly did not rule out another try for public office later on.

A centrist Democrat who has embraced some positions more commonly associated with Republicans, Mr. Warner has been widely regarded as an attractive presidential candidate, one who might run stronger in the South and other Republican regions than other Democrats. (For example, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the 2004 Democratic nominee, did not carry any of the 11 states of the old Confederacy.)

(Ignore the New York Times' sly dig at Bush in that last sentence -- Bush is a racist supported by Confederate-flag-loving Klansmen! "Forget it, Jake; it's Chinatown.")

Tom Bevan over at Real Clear Politics smells a fish:

This is shocking news. Unlike Kos, however, I'm not totally convinced by the explanation. Maybe it was a family decision, maybe it was something else. But when I saw Warner in Chicago back in April it seemed clear he was totally committed to runnning, and he hasn't offered the slightest hint in the seven months since then to indicate otherwise. He's gotten great press and been very well received by Democrats all across the country, so I find it hard to believe he'd just up and call it quits at this moment unless there is more to the story.

I don't know what "more to the story" Tom is thinking about. A pending scandal? Is young Mark being extorted by supporters of some other candidate? Does he have a medical problem? In any event, why he dropped is less interesting to me than what the effect of that drop will be.

(Michael Barone -- see link below -- tells a cute anecdote that relates to Bevan's suspicions:

As Prince Metternich asked when informed that the Russian ambassador had suddenly dropped dead, "What can have been his motive?"

So maybe we're too deep in the weeds...)

For such analyses, my first thought is always to turn to Power Line. Not that they necessarily have the best take on such events; but they're my security blanket... and whenever I must write about something on which my thoughts are conflicted, I always look there first, hoping they'll have something I can crib and pass off as my own sage wisdom.

They didn't, but they referred me to Michael Barone as a substitute security blanket; so "God's in His heaven -- all's right with the world!"

Barone's bottom line is that this benefits the Republicans. Let me break it down (there -- that's my original contribution; think of me as "Speaker to Gentiles" for Michael Barone):

  1. We have been at partisan stalemate for the last two presidential elections.

In 2000, the popular vote percentage was about 48 to 48; in 2004, it was 51 to 48 in favor of the Republicans. But this actually extends to Congress as well, where the vote has been very close for a number of elections, which is one reason neither party has made a serious gain over the other.

(Jay Cost has a wondrous explanation of the other reasons, which is a must read... also over on Real Clear Politics. Why can't we get Cost over here as a guest blogger instead of there? Oh, yeah; 2,000 vs. 100,000, or whatever they are now after being gobbled up by Time. But that's neither there nor here; so where is it?)

  1. In order to avoid repeated ballot-box nailbiters, one or the other party has to "break out of the box" (my words, or actually, my choice to use a vapid, overused metaphor) and find a way to appeal to those who voted for the other party last time.

That means a candidate clearly identified with one party, yet who has clear appeal to members of the other. Ronald Reagan was a perfect example of that: he had been a New Deal Democrat, then he was a conservative Democrat, then eventually a conservative Republican.

He was widely and personally popular from his many years on the public stage -- first literally, as a very good actor in B-movies (and a few A-movies, like Knute Rockne, All American -- Knute is pronounced "ka-newt," by the way; just thought you ought to ka-no); then figuratively, as a spokesman for General Electric giving political talks all around the country; as the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention that nominated Barry Goldwater; and later as governor of California. During both his presidential elections, Reagan appealed to Democrats as well as to Republicans.

There is nobody on the political scene today who even begins to approach the cross-party appeal of Ronald Reagan; still, neither party can expand its electoral vote without finding someone who at least moves in that direction.

  1. Mark Warner could have been such a figure.

He ran as a conservative Democrat against John Warner (R-VA, 88%), coming much closer than most imagined he would (he capitalized on conservative Republican dissatisfaction with the incumbent). Then he ran as a centrist for governer, won, and was perhaps the most popular governor in Virginia in many decades; when he left office this year, he had an approval rating of between 75% and 80%.

Clearly, Warner had excellent appeal in Virginia; but more than that, he could have eaten deeply into the Republican stronghold of the South: flip a third of the South's electoral votes, and the GOP's back would be up against the wall. (They could still win; but they would need their own "flipper" candidate to steal away normally Democratic votes in, say, New York. Hint hint.)

  1. With Mark Warner's departure, the only candidate left who could conceivably have such cross-party appeal is Sen. Barak Obama (D-IL, 100%); but Obama is a very iffy presidential candidate.

Obama's appeal to the right is based entirely upon treating them like mushrooms (keeping them in the dark and feeding them -- well, you know the aphorism). He has never played on the national stage in any way that his appeal could be measured. And of course, he is extraordinarily inexperienced, having served only a couple years of his first national Senate term. He gave the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, a convention noted mainly for giving nominee Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA, 100%) no election bump whatsoever.

Other than Obama, the other candidates are extraordinarily party-polarizing:

  • Sen. and failed health-care seizer Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham (D-NY, 100%);
  • Former senator, vice president, failed presidential nominee, and hysteric Al Gore;
  • Sen., failed presidential nominee, and America denouncer John F. Kerry;
  • Former senator, failed vice-presidential nominee, and class warrior John Edwards.



Hillary    Rantin' Al

Sen. Hillary Clinton, Vice President Al Gore (Gore is the one on the right)



JFK    Jedwards

Sen. JKF, Sen. John Edwards (Kerry served in Vietnam)

  1. But by contrast, there are several Republican candidates who have wide cross-over appeal.

The most obvious example is former mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani (a.k.a., "America's mayor"); Giuliani tops everyone's short list of Republican candidates due to his strong and reassuring response to the 9/11 attacks; even the crazy lefties on a bulletin board I still sometimes frequent have little but praise for Giuliani.

There is little question that if Rudy Giuliani were the Republican nominee, he would trounce any of the known Democratic nominees, especially Hillary Clinton.

He is clearly more socially liberal than the great majority of the GOP... but that probably won't matter. If, as most of us believe, the only real issue right now is national security, then Republicans will probably overlook his support for abortion and embryonic stem-cell research (especially if the recent breakthrough allows such research to continue without killing embryos); they will base their primary votes on his national-security positions and experience vis-à-vis the other Republican candidates.

But Giuliani, unlike the cheese, doesn't stand alone. Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts clearly has strong support from Democrats, else he wouldn't have gotten elected in the first place. But he certainly is not as popular as governor as Mark Warner was in Virginia (though bear in mind that Virginia is nowhere near as "Republican" as Massachusetts is "Democratic").

If, as looks likely, Romney is attacked via his Mormonism either in the primaries or the general election, it will probably increase his appeal to both Republicans and Democrats: it's always a mistake to go after a man's religion, as those who attacked John F. Kennedy for being Catholic discovered.

Like it or not (the latter, in my case), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ, 80%) has a lot of support from both Republicans and Democrats. But the continuing offense he gives Republican conservatives probably precludes him from being nominated. If he can get over that hurdle, however, he will be a formidable candidate who could, like Giuliani, probably knock off any Democratic candidate we know of at this point.

Sidebar: one interesting scenario that Barone doesn't consider: suppose Giuliani or Romney were nominated on the right, and Al Gore or Barak Obama were nominated on the left -- and McCain, deciding this was his last chance, were to run as an independent. What happens then? CW says that McCain would crush everybody; but I think that's awfully superficial.

Rather, I think McCain would draw very little of Giuliani's or Romney's voters, for the simple reason that so many Republicans already detest McCain (as a politician, however they might feel about him as a man); and those Republicans who are more moderate already would have their crossover candidate as the party nominee.

By contrast, I think he would draw away a lot of the Democrat's support: Gore clearly plays to what Paul Wellstone always used to call "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," and by the time of the election, Obama would have been unmasked as another lefty. So the moderates would have no champion in the wings, and many would be drawn to McCain -- even if they knew that would hurt Democrats in the election.

So in fact, an independent McCain candidacy might actually help the Republicans, too.

Thus, unless Republicans go mad in 2008 and nominate Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN, 92%), their standard bearer will probably be a candidate who has the potential to grab a number of blue states and win the sort of decisive victory we ordinarily associate with presidential battles. Mark Warner could have countered that on the Democratic side; but his withdrawal from the race leaves a huge advantage to the GOP.

Unless, of course, some previously unknown dark horse of a different color suddenly enters the fray for the Democrats... a Democratic "Eisenhower," that is. But I can't think of any such potential candidate: Colin Powell would not generate any enthusiasm on the right, and neither would Gen. Shinseki -- they would be more like the catastrophic miscalculation of the Democrats when they nominated General George B. McClellan to run against Abraham Lincoln in 1864; Lincoln crushed him, 212 to 21.

But back to Tom Bevan: why did Mark Warner drop out of the race? What can have been his motive?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 12, 2006, at the time of 6:29 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

October 10, 2006

New GOP Bloggers straw-man poll

Elections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

...So long as y'all bear in mind that these things are completely meaningless:

  • It's a long, long road to 2008;
  • It's on the internet;
  • Since "yourself" decided to show up here and take the poll, it's "self selected";
  • It assumes everyone knows who everyone on the list is; there are some here that I know only vaguely, like Sam Brownback and Mike Hiccoughy.

So with those caveats in mind, here you go...

~

~

Have fun, kids. Be back before 11:00. No drinking, smoking dope, or knocking up the landlord's daughter.

And as David Letterman used to say, this is only an exhibition, not a contest; so please -- no wagering!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 10, 2006, at the time of 9:52 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Vote for Dems to Beat North Korea!

Elections , Mysterious Orient , North Korea Nastiness , Weapons of Mass Disputation
Hatched by Dafydd

The funny part is, I think the Democrats have started to believe their own bullroar. In their unintentionally hilarious hysteria, they blurt out arguments the GOP has made for years:

Democratic Sen. John Kerry, the president's rival in 2004 and a potential 2008 candidate, assailed Bush's policy as a "shocking failure," and said, "While we've been bogged down in Iraq where there were no weapons of mass destruction, a madman has apparently tested the ultimate weapon of mass destruction."

Hm... who was it who mocked the inclusion of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on the list of the "Axis of Evil?" Democrats said then that President Bush included North Korea only to prevent the list from being entirely filled with Moslem.

Previously, for six years under Clinton, the Democrats snoozed, confident that tossing a few tens of billions of dollars (and a nuclear reactor) to Kim Jong Il would placate the "madman."

Then when Bush initiated his policy of trying to line up allies for sanctions against the DPRK, the Democrats (especially including Sen. John Kerry, D-MA, 100%) fought it hammer and fang, every step of the way. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight Ashbury, 95%) hooted at the preposterous idea that we would ever need ballistic missile defense, and she led the fight -- successful during the Clinton Go-Go 90s -- to zero out the research on it.

So, Mr. Kerry and Mrs. Pelosi... do you finally, at long last, support missile defense? If so, then at least one good thing has come out of this piffle of a detonation.

"The Bush administration has for several years been in a state of denial about the growing challenge of North Korea, and has too often tried to downplay the issue or change the subject," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

"We had the opportunity to stop North Korea from increasing its nuclear power, but George Bush went to sleep at the switch while he pursued his narrow agenda in Iraq," added Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat in a tough campaign in New Jersey.

Wow, tough stuff! I presume Sens. Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 100%) and Bob Menendez (Temporary D-NJ, 100%) can point to a long history of pushing for much harsher treatment of North Korea... for example, by conducting direct, face-to-face negotiations with them so we can settle how much tribute to pay and how many more reactors to send to appease that failed Stalinist state.

Reid is of course "changing the subject" from his obsession with the internet peccadillos of former Rep. Mark Foley, which have occupied about 137% of Reid's always-limited attention span since September 29th.

The Democrats' main argument seems to be that North Korea's now suspect claim that they have detonated a nuke actually helps the Democrats in the upcoming election... after all, Democrats have long been known as the party of cold warriors who come down hard on Communism.

(The nuke announcement really is producing some major-league skepticism. Bill Gertz reports in today's Washington Times:

U.S. intelligence agencies say, based on preliminary indications, that North Korea did not produce its first nuclear blast yesterday.

But remember... you read it here first!)

My worthy co-conspirator, Brad Linaweaver, informs me that he just saw Dr. Helen Caldicott on some screamfest -- anybody besides me remember that energumenic refuge from Bedlam? She opined that the North Korean nuclear (?) explosion leaves America with but one option in response: we must unilaterally disarm our nuclear arsenal!

Freeze now! The survivors will envy the dead! (Probably so, for they don't have to listen to Helen Caldicott speak.)

Let's see what happens to the polls, which jumped from 0 to a 65-point advantage for Democrats in 3.4 seconds (want to buy a slightly used Dyson sphere?) But that may flip right back, now that the conversation is no longer about Gary Condit.

Oh, wait -- my mistake. That was the last congressional sex scandal, which was front-page news in every newspaper and TV broadcast in America... on September 10th, 2001. (So I reckon at least one Democrat actually cheered when the twin towers were struck.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 10, 2006, at the time of 5:21 AM | Comments (31) | TrackBack

October 8, 2006

L.A. Times Foleygate Bombshell: Mark Foley Was Gay! UPDATED

Congressional Calamities , Elections , Sex - the Good, the Bad, and the Really Bad
Hatched by Dafydd

UPDATE: See below.

In a stunning new revelation that may put the nail in the GOP coffin, ensuring without doubt that the Democrats take not only the House but the Senate, the Los Angeles Times reveals that a former page now charges that he and former Rep. Mark Foley did have sex: when the former page was 21 years old. After he had been out of the pages program for several years. In fact, after he had graduated from college:

A former House page says he had sex with then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) after receiving explicit e-mails in which the congressman described assessing the sexual orientation and physical attributes of underage pages but waiting until later to make direct advances.

The former page, who agreed to discuss his relationship with Foley with the Los Angeles Times on the condition that he not be identified, said his electronic correspondence with Foley began after he finished the respected Capitol Hill page program for high school juniors. His sexual encounter was in the fall of 2000, he said. At the time, he was 21 and a graduate of a rural Northeastern college.

This absolute shocker finally answers the most politically urgent question that hangs over the heads of the Republicans running for reelection, and answers it in a way that will shock and stun most voters: it appears that Mark Foley was indeed gay.

After the religious-right voters pick themselves up off the floor, they will surely rush to the polls -- probably before they even open -- and vote for the Democrats, who are the only party promising intense investigations of all suspected gays in Congress to see whether any of them has actually had sex with an adult member of the same gender. Finding such, the Democrats have promised to expel any such members (along with expelling any suspected heterosexual members who have ever had sex with someone other than the spouse, even if they were not married at the time).

Seriously, can somebody please explain to me how the L.A. Times advances the "Foleygate" narrative to tell us that Mark Foley, a now openly gay man, had sex with another gay man who was five years over the age of consent, a college grad, and long out of the pages program at the time? In fact, he was out of the pages program before Foley even sent him dirty Instant Messages... which were obviously not unwanted by the ex-page, since he chose (as an adult, not under Foley's supervision) to act upon them!

More stunning revelations from the Times that surely will carry this scandal forward another week:

Yet the former page's exchanges with Foley offer a glimpse of possible predatory behavior by the congressman as he assessed male teenagers assigned as House errand-runners.

In the messages, Maf54 described how years earlier, he had looked to see whether the former page had an erection in his tight white pants while the then-teenager was working near the congressman.

Good heavens! So Foley has now admitted that he looked at pages? Sure, he said nothing at the time, when the victim of his looking behavior was still an underaged page; but Foley was thinking about things -- which the Times describes as "possible predatory behavior." Good heavens.

The young man said that while serving as a page, he and his fellow pages gossiped frequently about Foley's overly friendly behavior but did not complain about him to program supervisors or other members of Congress. They nicknamed him "Triple F," for "Florida Fag Foley." One evening, four of the boys made an unannounced visit to Foley's home.

"We knocked on his door and he let us in. Nothing happened, but he was very friendly," the former page said.

They arrived at Foley's house... they went inside... Foley was "very friendly"... and then -- brace yourselves -- "nothing happened!"

I don't see how Speaker Denny Hastert (R-IL, 100%) survives this jaw-dropping accusation.

Of course, after the ex-page's experience of this "possible predatory behavior," his life was destroyed:

"It most saddens me because of the damage it could do to the program," the young man said of the page system. "It was the most spectacular year of my life. I would love to do it all over again."

Again, what is the point of this lurid, astonishingly explicit account of gay courting and sexual behavior? The only reason I can think that the Los Angeles Times would even bother printing this is one that is so bizarre and disreputable, I hesitate to suggest it even about the Times. (Maybe I should have left this to Patterico to comment on, the Times being his bailiwick.)

But the only motive I can come up with is that the paper is trying to tap into -- and attach to the GOP -- the "ick" factor most heterosexuals have when they think about gay sex. Could this very liberal newspaper actually be trying to peel away conservative votes by associated the Republican Party with normal gay sexual behavior?

I wonder why we haven't heard much (anything at all, as far as I know) about this "scandal" from Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA, 100%), or any other openly gay member of Congress. Perhaps it's time they make a noise: if the Democrats are going to "go after" the GOP by whipping up a general anti-gay frenzy, then "outing" several more gay Republicans, hoping a wave of homophobia hurts Republicans one month from today... then are Democratic gays really comfortable with that line of attack?

Which wins: Barney Frank's sexuality -- or his partisanship?

UPDATE: Patterico suggests that the L.A. Times might be trying to aid the eventual prosecution of Mark Foley under the law he himself pushed through Congress that criminalizes using the Internet to arrange sexual trysts with minors. But I don't think it's relevant: there is no example of any sexually explicit IM sent to someone who was then a minor that makes any attempt to arrange a meeting.

Were I a judge, I'd need more than that to admit this as evidence. I would have to see something obvious and proximate... if Congress were trying to criminalize mere "hot talk" on the internet between and adult and a minor, they should have said so explicitly.

If someone is merely striking up a friendship -- or even engaging in dirty talk -- with a minor, hoping that maybe sometime in the future they could get together when the minor turned 18, that shouldn't be covered by the law: the law clearly intended to stop predators from using the Internet to lure minors into illegal sexual activity.

A pathetic dweeb who more or less impatiently waits until some guy (or girl) he knows turns 18, so he can then legally hit on him (her), may be a sleazeball; but he should not be prosecuted for that.

I can make a good case for prosecuting Foley for sexual harassment of a minor, but not the Internet law above. And if that is the case, the L.A. Times story still has no relevance whatsoever.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 8, 2006, at the time of 1:35 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 7, 2006

A Kiss Before Lying

Elections , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Check out this AP story; it is, quite literally, nothing but a campaign commercial for Democratic darling Patty Wetterling, who is running for Congress from Minnesota's sixth district, which leans to the right. The media are so much in the tank for Democrats, they no longer even trouble to pretend fairness or reporting. This story is beyond obvious; it's positively brazen.

Titled "Dem Candidate Jabs GOP Over Foley Matter," the story simply retails her charge that:

A Democratic congressional candidate whose son was abducted 17 years ago said GOP congressional leadership failed to protect teenage House pages from former Rep. Mark Foley's advances.

"Foley sent obvious predatory signals, received loud and clear by members of congressional leadership, who swept them under the rug to protect their political power," Minnesota Democrat Patty Wetterling charged in her party's weekly radio address Saturday.

"If a teacher did this and the principal was told but did nothing, once the community found out, that principal would be fired."

Left unanswered:

  • What "predatory signals" did Foley send?
  • Who exactly "received" these signals "loud and clear?"
  • Since she clearly is saying members of Congress knew Foley was a sexual predator (if indeed he even is that) back in 2005, why wouldn't they have simply expelled him then, when he could easily and relatively painlessly have been replaced?
  • How would sweeping these signals "under the rug" serve to "protect their political power?"
  • Is Wetterling, in her teacher/principal analogy, literally suggesting that Speaker Hastert (R-IL, 100%) was actually told that Mark Foley had sent explicitly sexual Instant Messages (IMs)?
  • What about those who did have access to the IMs before the primary but chose to wait until now to reveal them -- now, after the deadline has passed to replace Foley on the balllot? Did Democrats put more teenaged pages at risk for purely political purposes?
  • Finally, who at AP is supposedly fact-checking her charges?

Frederic J. Frommer, who wrote the story, seems a most incurious fellow. He makes no attempt to investigate or fact check anything Wetterling has said. He doesn't even engage in the pro-forma, faux "balance" of asking Wetterling's Republican opponent, Michele Bachmann, for her response. He simply retails her charges and tries to make Republicans look stymied by her eloquence:

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., has rejected calls to resign, saying he hasn't done anything wrong. Republicans, including President Bush, have closed ranks around Hastert in recent days.

Hastert had blamed Democrats for the election-season revelations, but on Thursday abruptly changed course and took responsibility for the matter.

Why, look! Those Republicans can't even answer her! They're panicking, like deer in the headlights! It must be so, because Frommer quotes not a single member of the GOP defending his actions or questioning the Democrats' role in this October surprise.

Frommer gushes over her "hard-hitting television ad" without mentioning that even Eric Black of the Minneapolis Star Tribune has found that ad (and her previous one) deceptive and unsourced. The ad claims:

Congressional leaders have admitted covering up the predatory behavior of a congressman who used the Internet to molest children.

Even more unanswered questions:

  • Who has supposedly "admitted" to a cover up?
  • And exactly which "children" have been "molested?"

Frommer doesn't know. Frommer doesn't care. It's enough that Frommer repeats the charges, softened just enough not to make Wetterling appear the raving conspiracy nut she actually is.

This fairy tale is just a big, wet kissy-poo from Associated Press to the Democratic Party and Patty Wetterling. And of course, it ends with the obligatory paean to Wetterling's absolute moral authority on this issue, which makes it a hate crime even to respond to her -- a terrible new twist to campaigning that Ann Coulter was first to notice and identify as the "Jersey Girl" syndrome:

Wetterling's 11-year-old son, Jacob, was abducted in 1989 on a rural road. Despite a massive search effort, Jacob was never seen or heard from again. The loss transformed Wetterling from a stay-at-home mom to a national advocate for missing children.

"For 17 years, I have fought for tough penalties for those who harm children," Wetterling said. "Members of Congress are not and should not be above the law."

I wonder whether "reporters" who write such transparent muck actually think of themselves as heroic? I suppose they must.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 7, 2006, at the time of 1:11 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 5, 2006

Tom Reynolds Poll Shows No "Foley Effect"

Elections
Hatched by Dafydd

Hat tip to Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics, who mentioned a poll "containing bad news for Tom Reynolds." I followed his link to this poll by 2 On Your Side (an NBC News affilliate, judging by the stupid peacock logo).

Tom had implied that the bad news demonstrated fallout from the Foley Bergere, and I was anxious to see what he was talking about. Because really, for the life of me, I haven't seen any such a thing so far. Here is how Tom Bevan put it in an earlier post:

There's a new AP-Ipsos poll out purporting to show just how badly voters have been turned off to Republicans because of the scandal, but the news story doesn't provide any specifics. But even without specifics, you know Foleygate is taking its toll. I'm told there will be a poll out this evening showing some bad news for Tom Reynolds in New York.

And the actual link came in a later Real Clear Politics post titled "Foley Fallout By the Numbers;" I think it pretty clear what Tom implies.

But the actual poll he links shows no such "Foley effect" at all!

Instead, this is what we see:

  • In an earlier poll conducted on September 28th, Republican incumbent Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY, 83%) was ahead of Democrat Tom Davis by 2%, 45% to 43%.
  • But in the poll just released today, Reynolds is now behind by 5%, 45% to 50% for the Democrat, Davis.

Aha, you cry, but doesn't that prove there was a Foley effect after all, Dafydd? Why do you claim there wasn't? Oh... did I forget to mention that in the first poll, there was a third-party candidate?

  • Christine Murphy of the Green Party was on the ballot (and the poll) until two days before the first poll, when she was disqualified; but the pollsters still asked respondents about her anyway. She got 8% in that poll, so it was actually 45% Reynolds, 43% Davis, and 8% Murphy.
  • But for the second poll, they removed Murphy's name... and in that poll, Green-Party Murphy's 8% support disappeared -- and the Democrat saw a 7% increase. At the same time, Tom Reynolds' 45% stayed rock solid.

So the Green Party gal is DQed, and the support she had went instead to the Democrat, not to the fairly conservative Republican. And this shows what, exactly? That people who support the Green Party are more likely to vote Democrat than Republican when their candidate is disqualified.

It also shows something else. Reynolds was one of the principals in the Foley imbroglio; he was the second guy told about the e-mails (which you can read here -- which puts you one up on Reynolds, who never actually saw them); and Reynolds discussed the situation with aides to Speaker Denny Hastert (R-IL, 100%). Reynolds has been attacked, viciously and personally, by New York Democrats as the focus of evil in the whole Foley affair. If anyone was to be impacted by this, it would be Reynolds... who was already in trouble electorally, limping along with 45% in a race where he should have held a comfortable majority, especially with a leftist spoiler.

And yet his numbers haven't budged. He's now trailing, but only because the spoiler is gone; and she was disqualified long before this scandal broke, so it has nothing to do with Foley.

The NBC affilliate claims ignorance about the cause of Davis' increase in the latest poll:

It is not clear how much of the swing is due to Murphy's removal and how much is due to the involvement of Reynolds in the events surrounding former Representative Mark Foley.

But this is disingenuous, because the internals of their own poll make it clear:

Last week, 20% of Idependents [sic] voted for the Green candidate. Those votes now go disproportionately to the Democrat.

The real problem for Reynolds is one that I think he might be able to fix. In this Republican-leaning district -- it went for Bush over Kerry by 12% in 2004 and for Bush over Gore by 7% in 2000 -- Reynolds beat Jack Davis two years ago by 56% to 44%; but this year, he's pulling only 68% of the Republican vote, compared to Davis' 79% of the Democratic vote.

27% of district Republicans say they will vote for Davis, not Reynolds. This must have been pretty similar in the last poll as well, since Reynolds' total support is unchanged. (It's risible to suppose that a bundle of Republicans swung to Davis since the last poll -- and the same number of Democrats swung to Reynolds!)

All Reynolds needs to do to win is bring the Republicans home, from 68% to, say, 83% or better. If he does that, he leaps into the lead with (I reckon) about 53%... and that's good enough for a win.

But in any event, whatever may happen in the future, for the moment, there is no indication of any measurable Foley effect on this race.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 5, 2006, at the time of 11:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Democrats: Discount Every Vote

Elections , Sex - the Good, the Bad, and the Really Bad
Hatched by Dafydd

Former Rep. Mark Foley resigned. I know, this isn't news; he did it many days ago. But evidently, it's news to Democrats... who are now demanding that voters not be told that Foley is no longer the candidate, and that Joe Negron is running instead:

Rules prohibit taking Foley's name off the ballot so close to the November 7 election. So the Republicans' replaceme