Category ►►► Predictions

October 9, 2013

Shutdown Victory - a Retrospective View From 2014

Health Insurance Insurrections , Obamunism , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Contrary to the gloomy predictions of most conservative "pundants" (who tend towards pessimism even in the best of times), voters who "blame Republicans" today are unlikely still to blame them as the 2014 elections loom.

So the GOP should play this "17% shutdown" hand all the way through the debt-ceiling debate next week, without the morbid fear that the party will be demolished by the Democratic spin cycle. Even if their polling is driven down now, it will rebound sharply throughout the next year, as the horrors of Obamacare and other Obamunist policies enrage the citizenry and spook the horses.

Let's review what will have happened by October 9th, 2014:

  • The "17% shutdown" will long be over, as will the "crisis" of the debt ceiling.
  • It will have affected hardly anybody in the country beyond a quarter of the federal workforce -- who will certainly get their back pay.
  • When the truth leaks out -- and it will, you can't bury it forever -- voters will discover how they have been callously, even viciously manipulated by Barack "You didn't build this" Obama.

    They will eventually discover that throughout the shutdown and debt-ceiling "crises," it was the Republicans who sent bill after bill to the Senate that would have made life under the "shutdown" much easier: authorizing spending on national parks, the NIH, vets' health care, Medicare and Medicaid, and on and on. Voters will eventually hear about the many compromise bills they passed, and how sincerely they tried to negotiation with an intransigent president who believes that, since he won reelection, that means he's the emperor, ruling by decree.

    And they will also find out that Obama and his Democrat cronies in the Senate conspired to thwart every ameliorative bill, and did everything possible to make Americans' lives as miserable as possible, in an ugly attempt to create a phony baloney crisis... just so they could blame the GOP.

    That is not going to sit well in 2014, when Obamacare really starts hitting home.

  • The national hatred of Obamacare itself, as policy, will be much stronger and deeper, as more and more people get run over by the ObamaScare express.
  • Republicans will have gotten something out of either the shutdown or out of the debt-ceiling negotiation (more likely the latter); Obama will be unable to maintain his utter intransigence for very long, especially when the debt-ceiling debate heats up, traditionally an opportunity for the opposition to negotiate a compromise. Even Democrats will begin defecting if the president maintains his mantra of "no negotiation, only abject, unconditional surrender." So the Republican fight today won't look like an utter futility next year.
  • The GOP will convincingly be able to argue that it was only because they dug in their heels that anything positive happened; that makes the GOP fight a net positive, and they can run on that in 2014: "If it wasn't for us, you wouldn't have X, Y, and Z. Think how much worse it would be!"
  • A half-dozen more scandals will have engulfed the Obama administration by the next elections; in this case, I think we can assume that past performance does predict future results. The non-issue of the shutdown will long since have been forgotten in the wake of the more immediate corruption and tyranny to come.

A year from today, despite the best efforts of the plantation media, all of these points will be well known to voters, via the most powerful communications medium ever invented: word of mouth, the gossip mill.

And a year from today, tens of millions of voters will have severe sticker shock from the staggering premium increases of Obamacare. They will look around and realize that there are fewer Americans with insurance, not more. And they will be confusticated by the bureaucratic B.S., the political looting, the rent-seeking and kickbacks that accompany every huge government program (see the New Deal, the Great Society, the War on Some Drugs).

And worst of all, Americans will witness first-hand the uncaring, anti-life nature of government medicine around the world, where ginned-up budget "crises" result in denial of health care and literal death panels... as we see in Great Britain, Japan, Canada, and everywhere else that has foolishly enacted what the Democrats admit is their ultimate goal. I think a huge swath of voters will come to see Obamacare as fundamentally unAmerican, a perverse inversion of traditional American values and beliefs.

Given the very high likelihood of such knowledge and such painful personal experience, tens of millions of voters will retroactively decide that the GOP was right all along: Republicans did good to do everything they could to stop it from happening, or delay it until we can get a new (and probably Republican) president.

Bottom line: Hardly anybody is affected by the so-called shutdown; but a majority of voters will be very adversely affected by Obamacare itself. I predict that a year from today, Obamacare will be a raging negative, while the slowdown will be seen in hindsight as a desperate and noble attempt to save America from that government nightmare.

People are always more affected by what's happening right now than what happened a year ago, and which barely touched them even at the time. Once the immediate hysteria over the "17% shutdown" subsides, Americans will be far angrier over Obamacare itself than over the GOP attempt to prevent it.

I suspect that a great many people attacking Republicans today will claim, a year from now, that they had fervently supported the shutdown all along; and they'll say, "See? I told you so!"

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 9, 2013, at the time of 5:42 PM | Comments (0)

June 9, 2013

The Disabling Danger of Datagate

Able Danger for the Masses , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

I agree with most commentators of the Right that the program initiated by the National Security Agency some time ago -- scooping up all the "metadata" surrounding phone calls by and to Americans, immigrants, transient residents, and illegals, then trying to match the other end to known terrorists -- was probably constitutional and not necessarily intrusive to ordinary people.

Nevertheless, I have a very strong feeling (I'll make it a prediction) that, strangely enough, this non-scandal will turn out to be the most devastating scandal of the Obama administration:

  • It feels very Nixonian.
  • It enrages the Left at Barack "You didn't build that" Obama at a time when the Right is already enraged at and mobilized against him, leaving no friendly forces other than a handful of universally despised, Democratic members of Congress and the tuned-out Plantation Media.
  • Almost everybody in America now realizes that their very own "metadata" has surely been captured, along with such trivialities as credit-card transactions; this scares the bejesus out of most folks.
  • I suspect that a very large percent of those same suddenly awakened citizens believe or suspect that all their phone calls are being recorded and analyzed as well. (This is almost certainly false -- though I would never say absolutely false, considering the current POTUS; but that doesn't stop people thinking that they're phones have been "tapped".)
  • The other Obamic scandals -- especially the IRS targeting of conservatives and the potential prosecution of Fox-News reporter James Rosen -- play right into the same fear of intrusion, keyhole listening, tribalism, and a totalitarian Obamunist apparatus that wants to destroy the very concepts of privacy, liberty, and freedom.
  • It's incredibly easy for conservative or libertarian Republicans like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY, 100%) and Sillicone Valley technocrat Democrats to demagogue the issue and whip up an absolute firestorm of hysteria, and a deep distrust of the government. (I'm all in favor of the latter but not the former!)

Ergo, I see the NSA scandal twisting out of control, dragging Obama and many of his Donkey-Party allies down into the big muddy, like a crocodile's death spiral.

Keep watching the sties...!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 9, 2013, at the time of 5:32 PM | Comments (1)

May 8, 2013

"What Difference Does It Make!" -- On 2016?

Election Derelictions , La Casa Blanca , Liberal Lunacy , Predictions , Preening Progressivists
Hatched by Dafydd

PolitiFact Wisconsin has done us a great service by resurrecting Hillary "Hell to Pay" Clinton's January cri de coeur (rather, hysterical, squeaky, falsetto, voice-cracking, calculated screech) anent the Benghazi terrorism:

Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?

The attack (even the White House now admits it was an al-Qaeda terrorist assault) killed four Americans -- Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and two embassy security personnel, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. Ten others were wounded in the attack. But a few days after, then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice rushed onto nearly a thousand Sunday talk shows to pitch the rewritten, reelection-friendly talking points of the Obamunists: That the attack was unplanned, not premeditated, and was in fact an out-of-control movie review.

The PolitiFact piece is part of an "occasional feature" called In Context, a.k.a. the lazy man's journalism; it consists of taking some controversial statement, quoting several of the paragraphs surrounding it, and calling it a news story. But it is useful, providing a longer length of rope by which those afflicted by foot in mouth disease, such as Madame Erstwhile Secretary, can hang themselves all the quicker.

In context, Clinton's "What difference at this point does it make!" ejaculation is even worse than what we thought from the video snippet in January. We thought she had simply lost her temper after being badgered, bear-baited, and hogtied by some sneery senator. But the In Context piece shows a very different story: The shriek heard round the world was a planned evasion of a simple but devastating question, one that Clinton would surely know was coming -- but for which she had no good answer.

The questioner who extracted the Scream was Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI, 100%). And he really had only one simple, substantive question: Wouldn't a simple phone call to the survivors and evacuees, even a couple of days after the fact, have told us that there was no "demonstration" or "protest" prior to the assault? Therefore, that it was indeed a planned and executed terrorist attack.

Johnson asks his question several times:

Did anybody in the State Department talk to those folks very shortly afterwards?...

The point I’m making is, a very simple phone call to these individuals, I think, would’ve ascertained immediately that there was no protest prior to this.... Why wasn’t that known?...

But, Madame Secretary, do you disagree with me that a simple phone call to those evacuees to determine what happened wouldn’t have ascertained immediately that there was no protest? That was a piece of information that could have been easily, easily obtained?

But to each attempt to get Clinton to explain why she couldn't have found out almost immediately what really happened -- terrorism, not a spontaneous protest against a YouTube video -- Clinton evades, sidesteps, and tapdances... because she knows very well that, had she made that phone call, she would lose her plausible deniability; she would have owned the Big Lie of her subordinate, Susan Rice. Here are Clinton's "answers":

[O]nce the assault happened, and once we got our people rescued and out, our most immediate concern was, number one, taking care of their injuries.... We did not think it was appropriate for us to talk to them before the FBI conducted their interviews. And we did not -- I think this is accurate, sir -- I certainly did not know of any reports that contradicted the [Intelligence Community] talking points at the time that Ambassador Rice went on the TV shows.... Was information developing? Was the situation fluid? Would we reach conclusions later that weren’t reached initially?... [W]hen you’re in these positions, the last thing you want to do is interfere with any other process going on, number one.... Number two, I would recommend highly you read both what the ARB said about it and the classified ARB because, even today, there are questions being raised. Now, we have no doubt they were terrorists, they were militants, they attacked us, they killed our people. But what was going on and why they were doing what they were doing is still unknown --

Did I miss an actual answer in that pot of message? I mean, something like, "Yes, I could have called them and found out"... or even, "No, I couldn't call them, any of them, even days later, because my boss put the kibosh on any investigation until after he was safely reelected."

At the end, Johnson draws the only conclusion possible:

No, again, we were misled that there were supposedly protests and that something sprang out of that -- an assault sprang out of that -- and that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact, and the American people could have known that within days and they didn’t know that.

And that was when she unleashed her staged and rehearsed banshee wail, the silencing scream of the outraged woman under sexist assault by a Republican Fascist:

With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?

Of course she didn't dare answer! The simple and honest response to Johnson's question is, Yes, I could have found out immediately; but if I did, how could I safely send Siouxsie out to lie to the American voters just before President B.O.'s reelection?

Her hands were tied; rather, they were wired firmly over her ears. There are some things Man, or in this case a reasonable facsimile thereof, was not meant to know.

And don't think that Madame can just walk away from it. To paraphrase Josef Mengele in the Boys From Brazil: She betrayed her ambassador; she betrayed her oath of office; she betrayed her country!

If she chooses to run for president again in 2016, I expect her primary opponents won't forget to remember her lies, her multiple betrayals, her treasons, stratagems, and spoils. I stand by my prediction that Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham will never, ever be the Democrat nominee for president.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 8, 2013, at the time of 11:59 PM | Comments (3)

January 25, 2013

Determinedly, Dafydd Doubles Down on der Daring Democrat Divination

Hatched by Dafydd

Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham will never, ever, ever be the Democrat nominee for President of the United States. Not in 2016, not in 2020, not never.

Bank it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 25, 2013, at the time of 12:14 AM | Comments (1)

October 4, 2012

Hope -- Change

Predictions , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

The conventional wisdom is this: No bout adout it, Mitt "I like being able to fire people" Romney slew Barack "You didn't build that" Obama last night. The president was old, gray, and tired. Mitt the drag-on slayer! But (still conv. wisd.) it ain't over 'till it's over, and one debate does not a game change make. Obama will come roaring back in the next debate with fire in the belly and steam pouring out his ears. It will still be a razor close race; and the odds are still with the president to reconnect, reinvigorate, and regain his lead! In the end, it's anybody's race; but reelection is the way to bet it -- if you're a Republican "leader."




Let me be clear: The conventional wisdom is a load of capybara ca-ca. It's as meaningless as last year's polls. Wednesday's debate was a game changer, and Obama will never recover.

Really? Isn't the president going to take that kick in the pants to heart, and come out fighting? Won't he put on his manly gown, gird his loins, and pull up his socks?

Oh yes, assuredly: In truth, he'll perfectly emulate the last Democratic Master Debator, Albert Arnold Gore, Jr.

That is, Barack Obama will swaller three power-bars whole, chug a 64-ounce can of Rock Star, and smoke an entire pack of Marlboros simultaneously. He'll burst out of the starting gate with eyes as wide as millstones, face as red as a replacement referee, and his hair literally on fire. Half the audience will suspect he's been toking that crystal meth again.

And he'll come across as a madman, a raving lunatic ranting about signs and portents and Cassandra-like warnings of Armageddon if he's not reelected. He'll swerve back and fro on a drunkard's walk; he'll overcorrect like a Don Knotts on his first solo flight.

And Obama will lose the next debate even more decisively than last night's.

That'll be it; game over.

To put the president's dilemma in a nuthouse, Obama has never been challenged like that before; and now we know he's a little tin god with feet of clay. The great impostor has no clue how to handle such impertinence and lèse majesté; he'll bolt onto the stage next debate and explode before our very eyes, victim of Phandaal's Gyrator spell. From one extreme to the other, from somnambulance to mania, he will prove himself completely void of the temperment, humility, and stability to be America's chief executive.

So quoth the Prophet Dafydd. And if my new prediction turns out to be as wildly off the mark as my last one, I'll eat my... well, I'll eat my Reuben sandwich. So there.

'Nuff said. Excelsior!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 4, 2012, at the time of 8:02 AM | Comments (3)

June 13, 2012

Nuclear November

Election Derelictions , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Just to remind everybody -- because I like to live dangerously by making preposterous, outlandish predictions that nevertheless come true about 75% of the time -- I have predicted that the presidential election on Tuesday, November 6th (for Republicans, that is; Democrats must cast their votes on Wednesday, November 7th)... that the presidential election will not be "razor close" or even just close, as nearly every "pundant" and his signifying' monkey is predicting. Rather, I stand here with my teeth in my mouth and boldly prognosticate, prophecy, foretell that -- Mitt Romney will win in a blowout.

Note that I do not predict a "landslide" in the electoral vote à la Nixon in 1972 (49 states), Reagan in 1984 (49 states), or even the 40 states won by Bush-41 in 1988; there are a lot of states anymore that are so enchained to the sinister side that they'd vote for the Democratic nominee even if he were an eldritch, transgendered, felonious penguin. But I do predict that Romney's popular-vote majority will be 53% or greater, thus exceeding Barack "Big Stick" Obama's 2008 majority of 52.9%... and that Romney's electoral-college total will reflect that, exceeding Obama's 365 electoral votes as well.

It's a dreadful mistake for people to look at the polls today, showing a neck and neck race (in June!), and make a straight-line prediction based on those numbers; you know it's a load of codswallop when the luminary prefaces his prediction with "if the election were held today." But of course, as always, it will be held on the Tuesday between November 2 and 8, more than four and a half months from today.

(In regular English, that means the election's on the first Tuesday of November unless that falls on November 1th, in which case the election is on the 8th.)

During those four-plus months, snakebit Obama will slip and slip and slip backwards. He might occasionally spike upwards -- for example, he might get a little boost during the Democratic National Convention; but those spikes will be smaller than the Left (or media "election analysts") expect and less frequent than they seem to believe. In between these feeble and unsatisfying spurts of polling support, Mitt Romney will climb slowly, steadily.

By the time of the Republican National Convention (beginning August 27th), Romney will have been comfortably ahead in nearly every poll for several weeks. He will leap upward after that convention, probably ending about eight points ahead of Obama. Following the Democratic National Convention the next week (starting September 3th), Obama will catch up maybe two or three points, leaving Romney still 5-6 points ahead.

And there it will stick until just before the vote, say the end of October, when Romney will get one more spike in the polling on final approach. He may also outperform the polls in the actual vote.

As always, if I'm wrong, I'll own up and take my lumps. But if I turn out to be right, then I darned well expect every, single reader of this blog to send me a bottle of Sandeman 20-year tawny port. (Yes, I know it's about fifty bucks in a wine store, but it's cheaper at BevMo.)

Hey, it's the least you could do!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 13, 2012, at the time of 5:02 PM | Comments (2)

April 10, 2012

Look For a Mitt Surge

Confusticated Conservatives , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Just a quick prediction: Now that Rick Santorum, the only viable Romney rival still standing, has dropped out of the race -- that's what "suspending our campaign" means in ordinary English -- look for a rapid jump upwards in Romney's popularity and general-election polling.

Until now, every poll pitting Romney against Barack H. Obama on various issues or general popularity has had two sources of negative responses:

  1. Liberals and liberal-leaning "centrists" who genuinely like the policies of Progressivism and Leftism, and genuinely hate the policies of conservatism, Capitalism, individualism, and Americanism. These are honest disagreers.
  2. Disingenuous conservatives who desperately hoped to pull Romney down, so that a "real conservative" could take his place on the general-election ballot. Some such conservatives falsely claimed that they liked Obama, just to tarnish Romney's best argument, "electability," in the primaries. (Call them the Lampooners: "If you nominate Mitt, we'll shoot this election!")

Group B may be sizeable, including supporters of all previous and then-current "not-Romneys" -- Michelle Bachman, Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum. As Romney rarely won an absolute majority in the sundry primaries, supporters of the other candidates necessarily outnumbered him. But obviously not every member of Group B is a Lampooner, or else Obama would be ahead by a runaway landslide of 25%.

It's impossible to know for sure what percent of the not-Romneys became Lampooners, actually telling pollsters they liked, supported, or would vote for Obama in November; but whatever that percent is, it's unlikely in the extreme that they literally will do so. Why would someone who thinks Romney is too moderate strike back by voting for the ultra-Progressivist Obama? It's absurd.

Therefore, we can expect the Lampooners by and large to vote for Romney in November, except for a tiny handful who are so disgruntled, they will sit out the election. (Arms folded, glowering at their neighbors, truculent faces daring someone to make sumpfin' out of it.)

Can we estimate the size of the Lampooners and their impact on polling? Let's get some ballparking going.

On today's Real Clear Politics newest-polls page (ABC: Obama +7, Rasmussen: tie, IBD-CSM-TIPP: Obama +8, all taken before Santorum's withdrawal), Barack Obama averages 5% ahead of Romney, 47.3% to 42.3%.

But roughly half of Republican primary voters supported a candidate other than Romney; this is Group B. Let's look at two guesses of the size of the Lampooner vote, 10% of Group B and 5% of Group B.

  • Suppose that one tenth of Group B were Lampooning in those polls; that would mean, in our example, that 4.0% to 4.5% of the pro-Obama responses actually came from conservatives who, in reality, intend to vote for Romney in the general... they only said the opposite to try to influence the primary vote.

    If we shift the low end of 4% from Obama to Romney, that would make the new total 46.3% to 43.3% in favor of Mitt Romney.

  • If only 5% of Group-B Republicans are Lampooners, then we should expect to see 2.0% to 2.2% switch from Obama to Romney, making the new total 45.3% to 44.3% in favor of Obama, which is well within the margin or error -- that is, a statistically dead heat.

(If we give a higher weight to the Rasmussen survey, which polls likely voters instead of registered voters and has a better reputation than the others, this "nominee effect" is magnified; Mitt would likely then be ahead of Obama in both the 10% or 5% scenarios.)

Taking into account the concerted internet campaigns for conservatives to "false-flag" or Lampoon the pollsters, I think it very plausible that the Lampooners did indeed represent 5% to 10% of the Republican primary electorate. Ergo, I expect that over the next month or so, the polling will shift 2% to 5% away from Obama and towards Romney, putting Romney ahead or at least even.

The national conventions start with the GOP the week of August 27th, in Tampa, Florida (a swing state we'll likely recapture); followed immediately by the Democrats the week of September 3rd, in Charlotte, North Carolina (what could possibly go wrong?) By that point, I expect Mitt Romney will hold a small but statistically significant lead over Barack Hussein Obama. And we'll likely see yet another surge towards Romney in late September or early October, a month before the election, as voters take a long and sober look at the economy.

As Samuel Johnson is reputed to have said (but probably didn't, exactly), the sight of the gallows doth wonderfully concentrate the mind.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 10, 2012, at the time of 5:29 PM | Comments (6)

September 14, 2011

Predictions, Predilictions UPDATED

Hatched by Dafydd

I've been bruiting this about among friends, but I feel strong enough to go pubic...

We all know that something is rotten in the state of the European Onion; but I'll be the boldest by staking out this prediction:

Within six years from today, by September 14th, 2017, the European Union as a political body will cease to exist except on paper. And the whole sorry farce of "United in Diversity" will be nothing more than a vivid and utopian opium dream.


The Euro will no longer be a semi-pan-European currency; each country will revert to its native currency -- lira, deutschmark, drachma, pound sterling (all right, all right, the last never actually disappeared) -- and the Euro will only be honored as trade-in on the local national currency.

Remember, you read it here first!

I have a bit of vigorish here; I believe the EU (pronounced eeew!) has never really existed except on paper in the first place. Nobody really believes that Greece, Portugal, France, Spain, Germany, Bulgaria, Latvia, and the UK (pronounced yuck!) are all contained within a single geopolitical unit. It's impossible and insane.

But I mean something stronger: Under my prediction, nearly all the political entities putatively absorbed into the EU, and all of those with functioning economies without exception, will have formally repudiated any supernational "sovereignty" of the European Union; if it exists at all, it will be only as a "free-trade zone."

That's my prediction, and I stick to it. Señoritas und gentilhommes, place yer bets!

UPDATE 14 September 2011: Commenter Snochasr asked, "Any idea HOW this dissolution could be accomplished?"

Well, it's already happening; and the trigger has been the looming debt defaults (often driven by bank failures) and proposed and actual bailouts of perpetual paupers Greece and Portugal; countries with serious deficit and debt problems, such as Italy, Ireland, and Spain; and even the very powerhouse economies that are called upon to bail out everyone else: Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. (Ireland and the UK are in trouble mostly because their banking systems are integrally tied into their federal budgets.)

The most prosperous EU member states are now faced with having to choose between:

  1. Loaning staggering amounts of money to a country whose economy has (by definition!) totally tanked, money that will likely be as useful as pounding sand down a rathole. Loan packages already approved for €110 billion for Greece, €85 billion for Ireland, and €78 billion for Portugal. In May of 2010, the gnomes of the EU concocted the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), funded by €750 Billion -- about the size of one of Barack H. Obama's "stimulus" packages.

    (But who says these welfare recipients will actually fix their economies? If they don't, they'll demand and endless conveyor belt of future bailouts.)

  2. Refusing to join the lemming-like rush over the fiscal cliff, which would lead to serious legal consequences for the "stingy" member state in international courts.
  3. Or else simply quitting the EU altogether and telling their courts of "universal jurisdiction" to go suck rocks.

While the beggar's banquet of EU member states with rotten economies have their own decisions to make:

  1. Accept the bailout -- and the "austerity" measures demanded by the lenders, along with the permanent state of riot and bloody violence that invariably accompanies externally imposed austerity measures.
  2. Reject the bailout and either severely inflate their currency to pay off the debt; or else simply dafault on all or part of it, triggering a whopping fiscal crisis EU-wide.

Take Germany as one example; it doesn't want to bankrupt its relatively good economy with a succession of bailouts to the many countries in the EU that face imminent economic collapse. But on the other hand, I doubt Germany is anxious to be made into the scapegoat for the political implosion that might result from denying those bailout loans.

And there are likely legal consequences, too: By joining the EU, Germany and the other member states accepted the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union. If the other strong economies (France, the UK, others) bought into the loan package, but Germany refused, the contributors might be able to go to the Court of Justice and try to force Germany to comply.

I have no idea whether the CoJ has either jurisdiction or authority to force a member state to join a bailout... but my guess is that neither does anyone else; I strongly suspect that the rules of that court are kept deliberately vague, allowing tremendous latitude for the court itself (and favored litigants), and tremendous risk for Germany, or any other member state thwarting the decisions reached at the upper reaches of the European Parliament. I wouldn't be surprised if there was some provision allowing Germany to be haled into the dock at Luxembourg and hit with fines and potentially political punishment.

Bottom line, I don't think it's feasible for Germany to refuse to lend the money, but still remain in the European Union. (Note that this same analysis applies to every other member state expected to pour its treasure into rescue packages for the basket cases.)

So Germany, et al, have only two practical choices:

  • Bail out Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and any other collapsing state into the foreseeable future;
  • or bail out of the EU.

In the end -- if not for this bailout, then for the next, or maybe the one after (that's why I gave my prediction a six-year time span) -- the rich states will not crucify themselves upon a cross of continentalization. Either the current government, or else the next, after that government falls, will run for election on the platform of withdrawing from the EU, notwithstanding the fact that there is no provision for unilateral withdrawal.

Once some nation, Germany or another, punches the first hole in the dike, the other EU member states who have a functioning economy will disassociate from the Union rapidly. If stable states are reluctant to bankrupt themselves propping up the perpetually collapsing states, think how much more reluctant they'll be when one of more of their fellows in stability opt out: "Why should we pay tens of billions to Greece and Portugal when Germany isn't paying a single deutschmark?", the next state will cry... and that argument is pretty unarguable.

But there is another pressure pushing the EU apart: I believe that in the 2012 elections in the United States (or no later than the 2014 elections), Republicans will win the fourteen Senate seats necessary to have a filibuster-proof majority; there are 23 Democrats up for election next year, many from normally Republican states elected in the Democratic congressional landslide of 2006, versus only 10 Republican seats, pretty much all safe; and I believe Republicans will likewise win the presidency (Obama is toast) and retain the House.

The GOP will control all levers of government, and tea-party activists will control the GOP. (That reminds me of one of my favorite quotations from 1984: "Who controls the past controls the future: Who controls the present controls the past.")

If the GOP succeeds either in 2012 or at least by 2014, then we will see a flurry of pro-Capitalism and anti-Progressivism legislation, including:

  • The repeal of anti-business laws and regulations
  • The repeal of insane laws requiring banks to make home loans to applicants who clearly cannot afford them
  • The repeal of administrative rules and regulations that close off 95% of our own energy resources to exploration and exploitation
  • The repeal of ObamaCare
  • The repeal of cockamamie EPA rulings erecting a Cap and Tax regulatory regime in spite of Congress' refusal to enact Cap and Tax
  • The repeal or vacating of many endangered species declarations by the Department of the Interior, such as the Delta Smelt, that have resulted in massive economic dislocation to human populations in the United States

I predict this will induce a Reaganesque economic boom in the United States... and the contrast with the economic bust of the last few years -- as well as the economic and fiscal desolation in Europe right now -- will finally cause the non-protesting majority in the EU (which wants countries to get their own economies in order) to rise up and challenge the socialist minority, the permanent, floating protests demanding ever more government control and subsidy.

When the sane majority finally goes to war against the delusional minority, the former will start throwing out internationalist, totalitarian politicians -- not by violence but by voting them out along with their parties; this is civilized Europe, not the so-called "Arab Spring"! And again, once that "popular front for Capitalism" begins, it will snowball into a continent-wide movement.

That is how I envision the EU finally falling: via a combination of the elites refusing to bankrupt their economies in order to bail out failing member states, quitting the EU instead; and a popular uprising against socialism and Progressivism that sweeps many more capitalists into public office in European countries.

My bottom line: If a situation is intolerable, then sooner or later, it will cease to be tolerated. I have yet to see an exception.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 14, 2011, at the time of 1:10 AM | Comments (6)

October 27, 2010

On the Other Hand...

Election Derelictions , Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

I may have turned unduly pessimistic about the California gubernatorial vote too quickly. Clearly Republican Meg Whitman is running behind her cohort running for U.S. Senate, Carly Fiorina; but that doesn't necessarily mean Whitman should be out of the running, as the polling implies. There are several indicators that, as Elmer Fudd was wont to say, "there's something awfuwy scwewy going on heah!"

In the first place, let's take a step back from the trees to contemplate the forest for a moment. Why would the entire rest of the country be experiencing a Republican wave... but California be strongly surging to the Democrats? It's not completely impossible, but it does seem rather unlikely.

In those cases elsewhere in which the Republican is losing, it's nearly always because he has huge problems with money and with making crazy, radical statements; for example, Christine O'Donnell in Delaware. But the GOP candidates for governor (former eBay CEO Meg Whitman) and U.S. senator (former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina) are both (a) extremely well-heeled and self-financing, and (b) more center-right than Tea Party, which in a blue state like California should make them more attractive, not less.

I could see a situation where they were neck and neck instead of surging ahead, as in the rest of the country; but why would the retread Democrats they face -- former Gov. Jerry Brown and current incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA, 100%) -- be the ones surging ahead?

Now let's look at those polls more closely.

In an election, everything depends upon turnout; and the accuracy of the polling critically depends upon the turnout model used by the pollster.

Columnist Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics has a few words to say on that subject:

If you follow California Senate polling closely, you have to be feeling a little bit nauseated from the roller coaster ride you've been on. Some polls are showing Senator Barabara Boxer with a comfortable 9-point lead and above 50 percent, while others are showing a much closer race. One Republican pollster even shows Fiorina ahead.

What is going on here? The answer is something I've discussed before: Pollsters are having a devil of a time agreeing on what the electorate is going to look like.

Trende has a chart comparing the turnout models used by various polls from a week ago to the leads enjoyed by the Democrat in the Senate race, incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA, 100%). Not surprisingly, he finds a strong correlation between a turnout model that predicts a very high Democratic edge over Republicans in voting -- and a much larger lead by Boxer (duh).

But is more intriguing (and puzzling) to compare the turnout models to the actual results of two previous elections in California, the 2006 mid-term and the 2008 presidential election. 2006 was a big election year for Democrats: The party picked up six Senate seats and 31 House seats nationwide. In California, according to Trende's chart, exit polling showed that Democrats had a +6% edge over Republicans in turnout at the polls.

2008 was equally big for the Democrats: Democrats picked up eight Senate seats and 21 House seats. But in California, the partisan turnout edge for Democrats was double that of the 2006 election (and the 2004 election as well), a full 12%.

Note that this doesn't count early voting by mail-in balloting; but Republicans were pushing mail-in voting far more than Democrats in 2006, so Republican strength was likely underrepresented in that survey, compared to Democrats. However in 2008, Democrats had a huge and very successful mail-in voting drive, meaning they were even more undercounted in exit polls than Republicans had been two years earlier. That means the gain in partisan edge in California, from 6% to 12%, is probably understated: Democrats likely increased their lead in the Golden State by more than the 6% increase derived from the exit polling.

Now let's look at the correlation with the polling this year. Of the six pollsters who report the partisan breakdown of respondents in their polling (Rasmussen does not, for example), two (SurveyUSA and Reuters) show a Democratic edge of 6% - 7%. In other words, these two pollsters believe turnout in California is going to be pretty much like 2004 and 2006; and they show an average lead for Boxer over Fiorina of 1.5%. (Remember, this is according to the polling a week ago, the only polls for which we really have a good partisan cross-tab.)

But the other four -- Suffolk, PPP (a Democratic poll), the L.A. Times, and PPIC -- show a Democratic partisan edge of 12% - 14% in their turnout model. These four pollsters believe the partisan turnout in 2010 will mirror the turnout in 2008, that Democrats will have just as big or even bigger a turnout edge this year than the year Barack H. Obama ran for the presidency. Not surprisingly, they show a much higher average lead for Boxer over Fiorina of 7.8%.

They believe 2010 will just as big a Democratic wave election as 2008; does that make sense to anyone here?

The problem may well be the filtering question used to decide which respondents are "likely voters." Some pollsters use a very simple system: They ask respondents whether they voted in either of the last two elections, and whether they're sure they'll vote this time. Others have a more stringent likely voter test. But the loose test virtually quarantees that when the pollster picks the respondents to report as "likely voters," the turnout model will mirror 2008 -- because everyone who voted in 2008 (or thinks he did) becomes a "likely voter" for 2010.

It is, however, a very unlikely scenario in real life: This is not a huge Democratic wave election, as 2008 was; it's not even a wave election like 2006. In reality, it appears to be a massive Republican wave election, like 1994.

If anything, the Democratic edge over Republicans, even in California, should be lower than in 2006 and 2004. In all probability, even SurveyUSA and Reuters are overestimating the Democratic lead; and the other four pollsters are dramatically overestimating it. And if they're overestimating Democratic voters in the Senate race, they're simultaneously overestimating them on the governer's race, as well.

But what about the current SurveyUSA poll, released today, which shows Boxer jumping from a 2-point lead on the previous survey, October 19th, to a 5-point lead now; and for governor, Democrat Jerry Brown edging up from a 7-point lead on the 19th to an 8-point lead now? It turns out that SurveyUSA has its own special potential problem.

(To see the raw numers instead of percentages on these two SurveyUSA polls, click the drop-down on the left and select "Show Counts (Frequencies)" instead of "Show Percentages".)

First of all, the turnout model for the new survey -- that is, the partisan breakdown of respondents they choose to call likely voters -- jumped up from a 7.2% Democratic edge on the 19th to an 8.4% edge on the 26th, moving significantly closer to the 2008 model than a week earlier.

Then I began looking into the internals (and kudos to SurveyUSA for making them available to ordinary readers), and I noticed a curious phenomenon: In the previous poll, 7% of the "likely voters" (as determined by SurveyUSA) contacted by telephone only have cell phones, no landlines. But in the current poll, just one week later, that number lurches wildly upwards to 25% of the "likely voters," 3.6 times as high. Wow!

I find that very flakey; while a number of young adults only have cell phones, I suspect they are much less likely actually to vote (and SurveyUSA agrees); for one thing, it's very difficult for the parties to find those voters in order to talk to them face to face in a get-out-the-vote (GOTV) effort. In fact, we can't even know for sure whether they even reside in California and can vote here at all!

When you recalculate the current survey, using only those likely voters who have a landline (regardless of whether they were contacted by cell or landline), the numbers change dramatically.

First the Senate race:

U.S. Senate: Barbara Boxer (D inc) vs. Carly Fiorina (R)
Candidate Total # Total % Land # Land %
Boxer 266 44.8 202 45.6
Fiorina 240 4.04 199 44.9
Total 594 B-F = 4.5 443 B-F = 0.7

In other words, with the cell-only respondents included, Carly Fiorina is down to Barbara Boxer by 4.5%; but looking only at those respondents who actually have a landline (even if they also have a cell phone), she is only down by 0.7%. That's one heck of a difference, moving from leaning towards Boxer to a complete toss-up!

Let's look at the governor's race:

Governor: Jerry Brown (D) vs. Meg Whitman (R)
Candidate Total # Total % Land # Land %
Brown 275 46.3 208 47.0
Whitman 225 37.9 188 42.4
Total 594 B-W = 8.4 443 B-W = 4.6

We see exactly the same phenomenon in this case: With the cell-only respondents, Whitman is behind Brown by a powerful 8.4%; but looking only at respondents with landlines, she is only down by 4.6%, putting her solidly within striking range via a number of factors (GOTV; the wave effect -- voters in California get to see results back east before they vote, which could discourage Democrats from voting; a bad turnout model -- SurveyUSA gives an 8.4% edge to Democrats in their model, when they may only get a 6% or even lower in the actual election; and so forth).

So there still appears to be many severe problems with polling in California, problems that appear to be much worse than polling problems in other states. For that reason, I retract my prediction of doom for Meg Whitman in favor of no prediction at all. The polling is simply too wonky to trust.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 27, 2010, at the time of 4:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 26, 2010


Election Derelictions , Liberal Lunacy , Matrimonial Madness , Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Predictions , Tax Attax
Hatched by Dafydd

This is just heartbreaking. The entire rest of the country is swinging to the right; the U.S. Senate race in California is swinging to the right. But in the midst of such positive news, GOP gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman's campaign is collapsing... and it looks pretty clear that California voters are poised to elect Jerry Brown governor -- again.

Dubbed "Governor Moonbeam," Brown is widely derided as the worst governor of California in modern times. He is a radical leftist who, along with the solidly Democratic-Progressive state legislature, has virtually pledged to do to Californios exactly what Barack H. Obama and the solidly Democratic-Progressive Congress did to America... and Californians are on track to hand him a historic victory to speed him along!

Why? I'm completely at a loss to explain why Carly Fiorina, the Republican Senate candidate, is doing so well, but Whitman so badly: The latest Rasmussen poll (just out today) has Brown 9 points up, an increase of 4 points from the corresponding poll ten days ago. The RCP average now has Whitman losing by 7.4%, and that includes a Republican outlier poll that had Whitman up 1 point in mid-month... exactly one week before the election, with momentum moving against her and towards Jerry Brown.

I hate to sound like Sen. Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%), but at this point, I have to say this race is all but lost. Jerry Brown will once again be our governor -- at a time when the state is more than $20 billion in the red.

Another point: Brown, as the current state Attorney General, is one of the two officials who refused to defend Proposition 8 in court. Prop 8 is the voter-passed citizens'-initiative constitutional amendment that re-established the definition of marriage to one man plus one woman... overturning a decision of the California Supreme Court, which -- by the slim and unconvincing margin of 4 to 3 -- redefined marriage to include same-sex marriage. (The other official to refuse to defend Proposition 8 in court was... current RINO Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger).

Brown was also the official (by himself, this time) who reluctantly accepted the initiative, titled "Limits on Marriage" -- and retitled it to be more neutral, unbiased, and non-argumentative.

He made it "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry," and that's how it appeared on the November 2008 ballot. Amazingly, it passed anyway.

So what can we expect with Gov. Brown and the hyper-liberal legislature? A number of lovely prospects present themselves:

  • The California state income tax rate, already the second highest in the nation (after Hawaii), will surely leapfrog into the winner's circle. Most of us pay 8% to 9.3% with the break point about $47,000/year; I suspect over the next two years, this will skyrocket to 10% to 12%.
  • Currently, we have a de facto mortgate interest deduction, because the California tax basis starts from the federal tax basis. But there are several other instances where a federal deduction is added back in for purposes of state tax... and I gloomily predict that the new government will add mortgage interest to that disreputable list. That will push the effective tax rate much higher.
  • Too, Democrats in this state have been desperate for years to overturn the 1978 Proposition 13, the "People's Initiative to Limit Property Taxation." Prop 13 did the following:

    • Rolled property assessments back to 1975 values
    • Set the property tax rate at 1% of the assessed value
    • Limited property-tax increases for continuing ownership to 2% per year
    • Required a 2/3rds vote in each legislative house to raise taxes
    • Required a 2/3rds vote for local governments to create or raise special taxes

    It was enacted, over the vigorous opposition by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, by an overwhelming margin of 64.8% to 35.2%... because the California state and local governments had begun a wild series of property-tax increases that were literally forcing people (mostly retirees) out of the homes they had lived in for decades; and local districts were assessing special tax after special tax to pay for every liberal wish-list item that some lobbyist demanded. This immensely popular California initiative constitutional amendment sparked a tax revolt all across the United States.

    That was then; this is now. In the last debate between Brown and Whitman, moderator Tom Brokaw asked both disputants about Prop 13; Whitman said she would defend it to the hilt, but Brown waffled, saying everything, including Proposition 13, was "on the table." I take that to mean that his intense opposition to protecting homeowners from the rapacious maw of the government has neither wavered nor waned.

    And now that Jerry Brown has learnt that such initiatives can be overturned without a vote by a cunning trick -- get an ally to challenge it in court, then refuse, as governor, to defend it -- I suspect Prop 13 is going to be shredded... and the record number of foreclosures we have already seen in this state will go through the roof.

  • Brown is a skinflint in his personal finances, but a typical left-liberal spendthrift when he's handling other people's money. During that debate, he passionately defended Obamacare, both stimuli, and the government takeovers of the automotive and banking industries. He added that Obama had done a "great job" in his first two years. I strongly suspect that Brown intends to saddle California with state socialism that mirrors the federal version... and will endure even when the Republican Congress and White House wipe it away in D.C.
  • Worse, Proposition 25, on the ballot this election, will give Jerry Brown the whip-hand on spending. Currently, legislators in Sacramento need a 2/3rds vote to pass the annual budget. The Democrat/Republican mix in the state Senate is 24 Democrats and 14 Republicans (plus two vacancies), or 63% to 37%; in the Assembly, it's 50 Democrats, 27 Republicans, and 1 "Independent" who caucuses with the Democrats (again plus two vacancies), or 65% to 35%.

    In other words, under the current constitutional rules, Democrats do not have sufficient votes to pass a budget on their own in either chamber; they need at least two Republican votes in the Senate and one in the Assembly. And so far, the CA-GOP, against all expectation, has held firm, forcing concessions from the Left and preventing the progressive rampage we have seen in Washington D.C.

    So what does Prop 25 do? It lowers the budget-vote requirement down to a simple majority. If it had been in place all this time, we would probably already have government-run health care, cap and trade, a massive increase in welfare and MediCal, public-employee union pensions that are even higher than the already stratospheric pensions we have now, and three or four times the current amount of make-work spending in the state. Instead of being $20 billion in debt, we would have $50-$60 billion in red ink.

    As insane and left-partisan as this initiative is, it will probably pass... because its authors found another cunning trick: Included in the measure is a "punishment" for legislators who don't pass a budget on time... they lose their salary for every day the budget is overdue. "Yeah, let's punish those foot-draggers!" is the battle cry.

    But of course, what's causing the impasse is that the two parties are lightyears apart on how to save the state's economy: Republicans want to restore fiscal sanity; Democrats want to redouble their Keynesian stimulus schemes. But if Prop 25 passes, I guarantee the budget will be on-time... because the majority Democrats won't even bother consulting with the Republican minority. They'll just enact any stupid, self-immolating, progressive idiocy that passes through their pinheads. Great solution, voters! You sure showed those profligate Democrats!

  • The traditional definition of marriage will almost certainly be changed to include same-sex marriage, despite two separate majority votes of the citizenry to keep it as it has always been. Jerry and his pet legislators desperately want it, to pay off their gay-activist lobbyists.

Thank you, thank you, California voters. I've always wanted to live in a Zimbabwean failed state. Think of the wonderful experience I'll get, assuming I want someday to write a post-apocalyptic novel about the catastrophic collapse of a once-great civilization.

There are only three slim hopes for Ms. Whitman:

  1. The polling could be wildly off, if (for example) all the polls are using the same wrongheaded turnout model. If, for instance, fewer women than expected vote while more men do, that would make the actual vote much closer than the polling... possibly even put Whitman on top.
  2. The Republican "wave" effect could raise all boats, including the waterlogged and listing tugboat at the top of the ticket.
  3. If Whitman's ground game is ever so much better than Brown's, she could make up a lot of the deficit right there.

But let's not kid ourselves; none of those is all that likely... unlike in Carly Fiornia's case, where she can easily overcome her 3.7% deficit (not counting the Democratic PPP poll). Thus I must make the sad prediction that on Wednesday, November 3rd, we in the Golden State will most likely wake up to find it has become, overnight, the State of Brown.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 26, 2010, at the time of 6:10 PM | Comments (3) | 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

September 15, 2010


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 31, 2010

Were-Liberals of Alaska

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Libertinarians , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

I've had a hypothesis for many years. Most libertarians are actually were-liberals: Every two years come November, they lurch to the left in the voting booth.

2010 is clearly no exception... for the Libertarian nominee in the Alaska U.S. Senate race, David Haase, has offered to "step down" and allow Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK, 68%) to take his place on the ballot as the "Libertarian" candidate -- if she will verbally embrace his plan to abolish the income tax and a couple of other things, which Haase dubs, with no hint that he understands the irony, the "People's Bailout":

Although Libertarian Party officials were dismissing the idea, Senate nominee David Haase said Monday that he would give Mrs. Murkowski his line on the ballot if the Republican senator would hoist his banner on behalf of nationalizing the Federal Reserve System, paying off the entire national debt with non-interest-bearing notes and abolishing the individual income tax.

"Would I step down for her? The right question is, first, will she take up my 'People's Bailout'?" Mr. Haase said, referring to a policy paper he has been circulating on how "to return to the banking system our Founders gave us."

"If she came out for my 'Peoples Bailout' plan, it would influence me a lot because the mission is more important than becoming a U.S. senator," he added.

I'm sure it is; but his comments beg the question, what exactly is the mission?

  • First, there is virtually no possibility that Murkowski could possibly be elected running as a Libertarian in a race with both a Democrat and a Republican; she would come in a distant and humiliating third.
  • Second, Haase must know that even if Murkowski mouthed the words, and even were she elected, she would never seriously push such a plan; she is not now and never has been a radical anti-income-taxer.
  • Too, even if she did, there is no possibility it would pass either House or Senate.
  • Fourth, even if it did pass by some deus ex machina, we would end up with a grotesque value-added tax (VAT) and a national sales tax... yet we would still have the Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: You just can't get two-thirds of each chamber of Congress plus thirty-eight states to ratify a repeal of the amendment that allows an income tax. All of which means that in a couple of years time, we would have a VAT, a national sales tax, plus a brand new income tax as well!

Since I doubt that David "Schleppenwolf" Haase is an utter fool, he knows that getting Lisa Murkowski to "come out" for his "People's Bailout" would do nothing at all to implement it. Ergo, he has an ulterior motive, which I believe is threefold; in order of urgency:

  1. Gaining notoriety for himself;
  2. Positioning the Libertarian Party to receive a big batch of fundraising;
  3. Splitting the Republican vote between Murkowski and "Average" Joe Miller, thus ensuring that Democratic nominee Scott McAdams wins the election.

When it comes down to it, most libertarians (and probably nearly all capital-L Libertarians) only pay lip service to free markets; in reality, they tend to be moochers who never grow up, live with their parents until they become fifty year old "orphans," and never really get past the "oral stage" of psychological development; they smoke too much tea and eat themselves into planetoid obesity.

They are really not libertarians at all; they are libertines. Their signature issue is far more likely to be legalizing marijuana than allowing us to succeed or fail by our own efforts (i.e., liberty). In fact, when the parental units finally kick the b., many self-described libertarians find a way to live on welfare! They substitute the Invisible Teat of Big Government for the nipple they never really let out of their mouths while Mommy still lived.

In the last election, vast numbers of these "libertinarians" voted for Barack H. Obama -- then concocted some Rube-Goldbergian verbal machination to explain why Obama was the most "free market" candidate running.

There are of course mature, adult libertarians worthy of the name -- think William F. Buckley, jr. or Milton and Rose Friedman -- who make their own way, support themselves and their families, interact in a mature way with real markets, and are less interested in oral fixations like dope smoking than they are in actual liberty issues. However, adult libertarians tend to vote Republican these days.

But back to the Final Frontier, the pending election of a Tea Partier as United States senator from Alaska.

Mind, this is the same election to which the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent its chief counsel, Sean Cairncross, to counsel Lisa Murkowski how to discover or manufacture sufficient votes in the absentee ballots to reverse her primary loss -- presumably by challenging as many Miller votes as possible, especially those from members of the military. Now the putative "Libertarian" candidate schemes to nullify the Republican vote by cleaving it in twain, hoping to install the minority Democrat in that seat. Democrats and establishment Republicans have merged, and their joint rebel yell is, "Anybody but 'Average' Joe Miller!"

More predictions:

  • Miller will win the Republican nomination.
  • Murkowski will not run as the Libertarian, nor the Independent (à la Charlie Crist in Florida), nor the write-in joke candidate.
  • Scott McAdams will remain the Democratic nominee.
  • Joe Miller will win the general election by at least ten points.

Remember Hugh Hewitt's aphorism: "If it's not close, they can't cheat." The Miller-Murkowski battle is close, but not close enough. And the subsequent general election won't even be close enough to tempt.

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

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 31, 2010, at the time of 1:04 PM | Comments (0) | 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, 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, 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

August 18, 2010

Update to Previous Post...

Constitutional Maunderings , Court Decisions , Matrimonial Madness , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

I have just read that the three-judge panel of the Ninth Circus will not be the same judges -- Edward Leavy, Michael Daly Hawkins, and Sidney Runyon Thomas -- who ruled in favor of a stay on Judge "Dredd" Walker's appalling diktat. I have no idea who the new panel will comprise.

But... I stand by my prediction that the panel, no matter who is on it, will overturn Judge Dredd's decision and uphold Proposition 8 and the traditional definition of marriage. If the panel comprises two liberals and a moderate (likely), or three liberals (plausible), the vote will be two to one. If it's three moderates or conservatives (hah), it will be unanimous.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 18, 2010, at the time of 12:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 17, 2010

Wild Prediction: 9th Circuit Panel Will Uphold Prop 8

Constitutional Maunderings , Court Decisions , Matrimonial Madness , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Sometimes, you just have to go with your gut feeling, no matter how strange and irrational it may seem.

What is a gut feeling? For one, it's a misnomer: Mine at least are not based on "feelings" (and don't originate from my intestines) but represent a sudden premonition that X is going to happen, even when I cannot consciously see a logical path from here to X. But that doesn't mean one doesn't exist; often, after a few days, I can start to see the rational basis for the prediction... meaning it wasn't a "gut feeling" but rather a rapid, subconscious calculation from available evidence drawing a rational, if obscure, conclusion.

That doesn't mean my subconscious calculations are always right! But I generally see that they're not irrational, either.

In this case, I've had the gut feeling -- I mean subconscious calculation that the three-judge panel of the Ninth Circus hearing the appeal of Judge "Dredd" Walker's decision striking down California Proposition 8 and finding a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage, SSM, hitherto unknown to the mind of Man -- a panel comprising one very moderate Republican appointee of Ronald Reagan, Edward Leavy, and two ultra-liberal, Democratic Clinton appointees, Michael Hawkins and Sidney Runyan Thomas -- will not only find that Prop 8 defenders have standing... it will actually uphold Prop 8 by a 2-1 decision.

(This prediction naturally supercedes my previous prediction that the three-judge panel of the Ninth will uphold Judge Walker's decision.)

I have refrained from mentioning this to anyone until I could figure out what my subconscious was telling me; but I think I have it now. I don't for a moment believe that either of the two Clinton appointees opposes SSM; for that matter, it's entirely possible the Reagan appointee also supports it, in theory.

But support for SSM is not necessarily the "issue" for any of these judges:

  • Leavy, the Republican, may very well support SSM but nevertheless believe that voters have the right to vote the other way; that is, Leavy may very well take the same position as Patterico. If so, then he will vote to overturn Judge Dredd's decision and uphold Proposition 8.
  • And either of the two Democrats may decide that SSM isn't the real issue... the real issue is the November 6th, 2012 election. If either arrives at that conclusion, he would likely decide that forcing SSM down the throats of the American West, hence potentially forcing it upon all of America, will so alienate moderate and independent voters that Barack H. Obama is defeated for reelection, and the Democrats are all but wiped out in in 2012, threatening many much more important liberal projects on the economic, social, union, and military fronts. It could be 1980 all over again.

Note that the decision can't affect the election this November -- though Walker's earlier decision can, will, and already is -- because the appeal will not even be heard until December. But judges, especially federal judges with life tenure, are much more forward-looking than congressmen, especially representatives, for whom two years is a lifetime. I'm sure both Clinton appointees expect still to be on the bench after 2012 (Hawkins is 65, Thomas is 57).

Yes, I realize I'm suggesting that one of the super-liberal Clinton appointees, Hawkins or Thomas, might decide a momentus constitutional issue on the corrupt basis of looming partisan advantage. What's your point?

I'm making my prediction, and I'm sticking to it. I may be wrong; but at least I now recognize that I'm not acting from emotion, not a "gut feeling," but rather some deep undercurrent of rational thought.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 17, 2010, at the time of 1:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 11, 2010

Pyrrhic Evictory

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

Still thinking -- fuming -- about Judge "Dredd" Walker's insipid decision, in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, to render of no account the democratic vote of 13.5 million Californios, out of pique that we didn't vote as he wanted us to do. I have something somewhat profound to say (not very, just somewhat); but let's preface with a couple more predictions...

First, I suspect that Judge Walker, as Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, assigned himself to hear the case against Proposition 8. According to numerous con-law professors, constitutional scholars, and working attorneys who have read Walker's opinion in that case, it's clear he was biased against the law (and its proponents) from the beginning and never took seriously any of defendants' arguments in support of it.

Who will be chosen for the three-judge panel of the Ninth Circus that will likely hear the appeal of Judge Walker's decision? The current Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit is Alex Kozinski, who was nominated by Ronald Reagan and appears (by his list of political contributions back in 1992) to be a Republican. But selection of the panel is random, I believe; and unlike the "random" selection of liberal judges, I suspect Kozinski will actually obey the rules.

Considering that the Ninth is notorious for being the most left-liberal circuit in the entire United States (also the most overruled by the Supreme Court, for what it's worth), it's likely that at least two of the three judges on the panel will be ultra-left judicial activists. Ergo, I predict that the three-judge panel will uphold Judge Walker's decision.

So the next question is, will the Supremes accept certiorari on this case? I predict Yes: The constitutional implications of throwing out a statewide vote supporting values that are literally millennia old, and substituting one judge's radical opinion which would fundamentally alter society, are so extreme that the final Court really must pass muster on such a momentous decision.

And the last prediction: Assuming the Court takes up Perry, how will it finally rule? As I think I mentioned, I expect the usual suspects to line up as, well, as usual: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito will vote to uphold Proposition 8; Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagen will vote to overturn it and declare same-sex marriage (SSM) a fundamental right; and the tie-breaking vote will once again fall to Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Swingin' justice -- who, I predict, will reluctantly vote, with much hemming and dithering, to uphold the vote of the people on Prop 8. Thus I predict that the Supreme Court will overturn the district and circuit courts and reinstate the state constitutional amendment.

Now, on to the semi-epiphanic predictive analysis of some degree of profundity...

Democrats and liberals seem never to have even heard the term "pyrrhic victory;" certainly they have no idea what it could mean. By its very nature, the liberal philosophy is superficial, immediate, with a studied refusal even to consider consequences -- not merely the unanticipated but even the obvious and inevitable.

Liberalism is the Scarlett O'Hara of political philosophies: "I won't think about that now, I'll think about that tomorrow." So the idea of a "victory" that comes at such a terrible cost that it's actually a defeat is utterly alien to liberals; even when it happens to them, they don't recognize the connection to their own scorched-earth policies. But they're about to get a crash education.

A bit of history. The first traditional-marriage citizen's initiative enacted in California was Proposition 22 ten years ago; it passed by 61% to 39%.

After it was struck down by the California Supreme Court, the replacement Proposition 8 -- the same wording, but this time a state constitutional amendment -- passed by a weaker margin of 52% to 48%; but that vote was held in November 2008, during the Democrats' Obama-driven landslide victory across the country.

And specifically in California, where Barack H. Obama won by 24 points, 61% to 37%. Despite a massive Democratic victory in California's presidential race, congressional races, and state legislative races, the anti-SSM amendment nevertheless won by a statistically significant margin. (Even though the final polls of all three major pollsters here -- SurveyUSA, Field, and the Public Policy Institute of California -- showed Prop 8 losing.)

In other words, regardless of what people tell pollsters, when it comes to an actual vote, Californians strongly support traditional marriage and oppose same-sex marriage.

But along comes the liberal Bigfoot, telling us that our votes are irrelevant; state citizens have no right to determine the definition of marriage in California; and we peons should simply roll over and play dead when our robed betters bark. Slice it however you like, this judicially activist decision is not going down well in the state; Californians are angry and getting angrier by the day, even those who voted against Prop 8.

It's one thing to lose an election; it's quite another and a bitter thing to have the electorate itself slapped down by a liberal schoolmarm, wagging his finger in our faces and telling us to sit quietly and wait for judicial command.

No question about it, this is going to damage the campaigns of Democrats across the state; but particularly in the governor's race... where Republican former eBay president and CEO Meg Whitman squares off against the Democrat, former California governor and current state Attorney General Jerry Brown.

Why this particular race? Consider this: In his capacity as state AG, Brown is supposed to defend California laws against lawsuits; but because Brown is an ultra-liberal, and because he personally supports SSM, he declined to mount any defense of Prop 8. Had Brown had his way, plaintiffs in Perry v. Schwarzenegger would have been unopposed. (Not that it would have made any difference, since Judge Walker never seriously considered the defense, spearheaded by the "official proponents of Proposition 8 led by Dennis Hollingsworth," as Wikipedia put it.)

Thus the Democratic candidate is the very man who violated his oath and betrayed his state, just in order to screw California voters! The judicial activism of Judge Walker cannot possibly be ought but a boot to Jerry Brown's head -- especially in a year when the entire country (including California) is already appalled by the expansion both of the government's size and cost and also its intrusiveness.

At the moment, in the most recent poll -- Rasmussen, taken before the ruling -- we see Jerry Brown 2% ahead of Meg Whitman. That's within the margin of error; Gen. Brown got that slight "lead" by a massive campaign of slimy attack ads against Whitman... running on TV, on radio, in the newspapers, and in a number of prominent political blogs (including, sad to say, Power Line). Tellingly, Brown himself is actually polling lower today in Rasmussen than at any time since March; he just managed to pull Whitman down six points, while he only pulled himself down three, turning a Whitman +1 into a Brown +2.

In the next poll (or perhaps the one after, when voters start to mull over the ruling and Brown's role in egging it on), I expect to see that at least reversed, and maybe an even stronger movement by Meg Whitman. I believe that she is going to start using Jerry Brown's duplicity, disloyalty, and scorn for his own potential voters against him in her own TV adverts. (And I sure hope she starts buying ads on Power Line!)

Worse, I expect to see many, many Republican challengers, from Carly Fiorina challenging Sen. Barbara "Call me senator!" Boxer on down the ballot, also using the Democrats' complicity in disenfranchising thirteen and a half million California voters as a bludgeon in the "massively multiplayer" version of Whack-a-Mole, where each and every Democratic talpid has his or her very own GOP mole-masher standing directly over the mole hole.

Thus -- pyrrhic victory: Liberals, Democrats, and the loony Left "win" the court case, at least at the lowest, district level; but in so doing, even more of them than expected will find themselves evicted from their cosy offices and cushy deals, at least in the state of California.

Judge Walker's manipulative meddling may end up forcing the exact opposite effect he intended: It may elect a governor and Attorney General who will actually fight for Prop 8 in the courts... unlike the "Saboteur" General and the "Bad Samaritan" governor we have right now.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 11, 2010, at the time of 11:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 4, 2010

The War Against Marriage Goes Round and Round, Round and Round...

Matrimonial Madness , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Today, between 1:00pm and 3:00pm PDT, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker will electronically issue his ruling on the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8.

Proposition 8 was the citizen-initiative state constitutional amendment overturning the state Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage (SSM) and restoring the traditional definition of marriage to America's biggest (and most debt-ridden) state. The amendment passed 52.24% to 47.76% in 2008, despite the massive, Obama-driven, liberal-Democratic vote.

The state Supreme Court reluctantly upheld the proposition, which led to an immediate federal lawsuit, Kristin M. Perry v. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Alas, I predict that Judge Walker will find for the plaintiff, striking down Prop. 8 (again) and once more shoving SSM down the throats of Californios.

George Will will be beside himself with glee. It's not that he supports SSM; I'm sure he doesn't. But he's absolutely fanatical against citizen initiatives; he considers them an abomination. Imagine, direct democracy!

He is disgusted and appalled at the very idea that citizens should be allowed to determine the laws they live under, instead of letting their betters rule for their own good. If Judge Walker rules against Prop. 8, Will will write a column praising the decision.

By contrast, Patterico -- who supports SSM -- will be bitter and angry... because he believes citizens should be allowed to set their own defintion of marriage much more than he believes in same-sex marriage. The difference is simple: Patterico is a staunch proponent of government by the consent of the governed -- while George Will calls himself an unreconstructed Tory, by which I assume he means he is a monarchist at heart.

The only question I have is whether Walker will stay his ruling until the Ninth Circus can review it, or whether he will order the state immediately to begin issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples... hoping that even if the Ninth or the Supreme Court ultimately overturns his decision, so many lesbians and gay men will have already married that SSM will be a fait accompli, the courts having finally forced the policy upon the state even without final support from the Supremes.

On that narrow question, I make no prediction.

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

UPDATE: I wrote this post before reading Patterico's own post, which also predicts that Judge Walker will strike down Proposition 8. Two great thoughts with but a single mind between them. (Oh, wait; that would make us both halfwits, wouldn't it?)


Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 4, 2010, at the time of 12:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 21, 2010

The Impotence of Being Snakebit

Econ. 101 , Predictions , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

No, he's not there yet. But he's trending in that direction... and he knows it. It's already starting to affect his responses -- he's drifting, drifting into Nixonian levels of paranoia and Johnsonian levels of ennui.

All right, let's back up and start this right. First, I love the July 13-19 Quinnipiac poll showing that President Barack H. Obama's job approval has plunged to 44%, with 48% disapproving -- a 9 point drop in the spread (from positive 5 to negative 4), just since May. Even better is their finding that very few Americans other than die-hard Democrats want, at this juncture, to see Obama reelected: By a 39% to 36% margin, respondents chose the generic Republican over President Obama.

The president is in a slump right now, but he could still pull it all back... at least in theory. Paul Mirengoff of Power Line is convinced that the economy will improve significantly before 2012, and that a rising economy would make Obama very competitive in his reelection bid.

It could happen that way; generally, the American economy automatically recovers from most recessions. But history tells us that if the federal response to an economic downturn is stupid enough, recovery can be delayed indefinitely -- as Franklin Roosevelt's disastrous handling of the Great Depression conclusively proved.

I think even Paul would agree with me that if the economy hasn't improved significantly by early 2012 -- with real employment being the primary indicator of such improvement -- then Obama will head into his reelection without the upper hand; without a drawing hand; without a useful under-handed move he can make; in fact, with no hand at all.

But even if the economy limps forward, avoids a double-dip recession, but shows no dramatic recovery, I suspect his approval ratings would continue to slump. And a very important tipping point looms.

When a president's approval sinks low enough, there is nothing he can do to recover; he becomes effectively impotent, neutered. No matter what action he takes to help the economy, the people become further enraged at him:

  • If he raises taxes, Left, Right, and Center are furious that he's raising taxes in the middle of a recession.
  • But if he lowers taxes, the Right is furious that he's adding to the deficit; the Left is furious that he's pandering to the Right; and the Center is furious that he's not "creating jobs."

The mechanism at work is the opposite of normal. Under normal circumstances, the people evaluate the policy; if they like it, their approval of the president rises; if they don't like the policy, then approval drops and disapproval rises. But in the situation above, where the president has become unpopular enough, people dislike any policy he enunciates just because they dislike him. If he's fer it, they're agin' it -- no matter what "it" is!

The crisis becomes a vicious circle, a negative feedback loop: The people having decided that they dislike the policy because the disliked president proposed it, they then seize upon the now-disliked policy to disapprove of the president all the more so. The technical term for such a negative feedback loop of job disapproval causing policy rejection causing more job disapproval is "snakebit", if Peggy Noonan can be believed. (And why shouldn't we?)

Eventually the president strikes rock bottom; empirical observation puts that point at about 35%; that's the number of people who would vote for a yellow dog if it called itself a (fill in the blank party).

  • George W. Bush hit bottom and stayed there.
  • Richard M. Nixon came close and probably would have cratered, had he stayed on.
  • And if Barack Obama cannot find a way to really swing the economy around, visibly and spectactularly -- for example, by turning into a pro-Capitalism triangulator -- I believe he will find the same hole as the others.

At the moment, the Obamunist is on a direct glidepath to the snakepit, and there are very few ways for him to reverse course... particularly since the best way to do so is to dramatically remake oneself, as Bill Clinton did; then go before the American people, apologize for his mistakes, ask forgiveness, and promise to turn over a new leaf -- as Ronald Reagan did at the nadir of the Iran-Contra scandal.

But from my read on the current occupant of la Casa Blanca, that option is a non-starter: Obama would have to (a) admit he was wrong, then (b) do an about-face on his signature issue, the economy. I'm not sure which task would be more psychically painful to the man who announced that his ascension to the Petal Throne would cause the oceans to begin to recede and the Earth cool.

Paul Mirengoff is a real expert on Washington D.C. He lives and works there (all right, on the Maryland side); he's an attorney; he's well-connected in conservative and Republican circles; he lunches with movers and shakers -- and I don't mean guys who drive vans full of furniture while singing "Simple Gifts" -- in fine, he's plugged in to the Washington zeitgeist. But he has a chink in his Achilles heel: Paul Mirengoff is relentlessly establishmentarian; as it was, so shall it be, there is nothing new under the sun.

I have none of his political advantages, but what I do have is a speculative ability; from my training both in mathematics and science fiction, I see trends as physical, moving forces... and I sometimes can skate along them to their far ends and see how it all comes out, when to others it still seems as if it could go either way. (For example, I could tell just a few days into the "long count" of the 2000 election in Florida that Algore was never going to surpass Bush, and that the latter would finally prevail.)

I won't say it's inevitable that Obama will become snakebit; but there is a swing, a momentum in that direction; and it's getting heavier with every passing day. If I were required by law to wager $100 on the future, I would bet that by 2012, Obama's reelection will look so dismal that, like Lyndon Johnson, he simply declares godlike success and walks away from the wreckage.

Then he'll write a third autobiographical memoir, and it will be filed in the fiction section at Borders.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 21, 2010, at the time of 11:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 29, 2010

But I Reiterate... Obamic Options 006½

Obamic Options , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

I just read this Paul-post on Power Line -- noting that Bill Clinton has sensed the blood in the water surrounding President Barack H. Obama, and like a shark, appears to be circling, circling, waiting for the inevitable.

With that image in mind, I should like to direct your attention to a Big Lizards post of last Christmas, another in my nearly forgotten "Obamic Options" series, in which I made the following prediction:

So what does this chain of reasoning portend? This: I predict that, if the Obamacle ponders the race of 2012 and sees a strong Republican contender and only luckwarm support for himself, he will try to cut a deal with the U.N.; current Secretary General Nanki-Poo would retire with all honors... then the General Assembly offers Obama the job.

...But do read the whole thing; you likely skimmed it -- or skipped it -- the first time. Yes, you. You know you did... fess up!

(Just giving myself an even greater chance of being hailed as one of the greater prophets in a year and a half. Or else being laughed out of the dextrosphere as an arrogant buffoon... I've heard it so often.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 29, 2010, at the time of 11:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Micky-D's Legacies

Gun Rights and Occasional Wrongs , Predictions , Supreme Beings of Sleazure
Hatched by Dafydd

Yesterday's Supreme Court ruling in McDonald v. Chicago incorporated the individual-rights interpretation of the Second Amendment (from D.C. v. Heller) to the states under the "equal protection" clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (By and large; actually, I understand that Justice Clarence Thomas' concurring opinion cited the "privileges and immunities" clause of the same amendment, instead.)

So now we know that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, inhering in every citizen, not solely in National Guard units, as anti-gun radicals have proclaimed for decades. And we also know that our right to keep and bear is not only enforced in federal jurisdiction but is a universal right, protected in all fifty states as well. (It may not be protected in President Barack H. Obama's seven fantasy campaign states.) But one vital question remains unanswered: What level of scrutiny should be applied to gun-control laws?

Pore standards

Several standards are available, from the tightest -- strict scrutiny -- to the weakest, the rational-basis standard. If the Court decides that the proper level is strict scrutiny, then few gun restrictions will stand; most would be struck down when they fail to meet the standard usually reserved for racial-preference laws and Facebook posts by Sarah Palin.

On the other hand, if the Court settles on the rational-basis standard, then every gun-control law short of outright confiscation or prohibition of owning or carrying a firearm would pass constitutional muster -- waiting periods, proficiency tests, restrictions on purchasing more than one gun in a given period, and so forth. So long as the state could muster some argument beyond raw emotion, and the restriction did not result in a de facto banning, it would likely be allowed.

But most probable in my mind -- remember, I'm not a lawyer, and I don't even play one online -- Is that the Court enunciates a scrutiny standard somewhere between the poles... if for no other reason as a lure to attract Anthony Kennedy, the swingin' justice.

Last night I had the strangest dream...

  1. Some bright-eyed intern at the Second Amendment Foundation notices that the constitutional clause in question protects not only the right to keep arms, but also to bear them.
  2. Foundation lawyers look for a person with clean hands, who can be a test case. He applies for a concealed-carry license but is rejected, clearly out of animus against guns (and against Supreme Court justices who believe self-defense is desirable).
  3. When the case finally works its way through the system, Kennedy (or his swingin' replacement) sides with the good guys; the Court rules that all states must have some system in place to allow sober, responsible, adult citizens to carry "arms," including firearms.
  4. The Court lays down the rules this time: States can be constitutionally compliant in one of two ways: either by creating a legitimate CCW permit process, or else by removing the necessity for any kind of permit at all to carry concealed.

If the state wants to control who carries concealed at all, it must offer permits on a "shall issue" basis... meaning any adult who applies automatically receives a CCW permit unless the state can show a clear and convincing reason to reject a specific applicant -- he is a minor, a convicted felon, insane, drug addicted or alcoholic, or is currently under a restraining order.

Beyond optimism

But wait -- I believe there is an excellent chance that courts will, in fact, require concealed carry be available to all Americans, with a small number of exceptions. Even the weakest level of scrutiny for gun-control laws, "rational basis," still requires that the basis for the gun restriction be, well, rational. Irrational fear of guns, or "hoplophobia," as some call it, will no longer be sufficient reason for a gun restriction, even the restriction on concealed carry; every law and regulation will have to prove it's at least rational... in other words, that there is some good evidence somewhere that such a regulation will make society safer.

Even the rational-basis standard opens all laws prohibiting concealed carry without a permit, where permits are virtually never granted, to rational, scientific evidence, presented in federal court, showing that widespread concealed carry doesn't increase crime or violence -- it reduces it significantly, even substantially. The evidence is overwhelming among criminologists; and even if some jurisdictions will stubbornly refuse even to look at the evidence, other judges elsewhere will, however reluctantly, follow where the evidence leads.

Already 40 states (including the second- and fourth-largest), comprising well over half the American population, have either shall-issue CCW permit laws or else don't require a permit to carry a concealed weapon. As more and more currently anti-gun jurisdictions are forced by federal judges to join the crowd; as we amass a Mount Everest of evidence all pointing in the same direction, it will become virtually impossible for a state attorney general in, say, California, to argue that the state should continue denying CCW permits to its citizens. The argument would have to take the form of asserting that, while the rest of the country may be capable of handling firearms responsibly, citizens of the Golden State are uniquely irresponsible, violent, and inept.

Even Hollywood liberals may take umbrage at such a claim.

When you're on a roll

Of course, in the much more likely case that the standard of scrutiny for gun-control laws lands somewhere in between rational basis and strict scrutiny, the push towards a nationwide right to carry a concealed weapon would be even stronger, and the scientific evidence even more determinative. I predict that within five or six years, every law-abiding, sane, responsible adult in the country will be entitled as a matter of law to obtain a concealed-carry permit... and that crime will plummet as a result.

Think about it -- it's not that big a stretch from where we are today to where I hope we'll be then, and the road is clear of most of the obstructions of the last two decades; even most liberals have more or less surrendered on this issue, leaving Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY, 95%) as perhaps the last, lonely defender of disarming Americans. It's hardly even a challenge anymore.

Even so, it would still be worth the price of admission just to see Schumer's head spin like Linda Blair's in the Exorcist!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 29, 2010, at the time of 1:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 16, 2010

Expect or Rate Spector

Congressional Calamities , Election Derelictions , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

On Tuesday, Sen. Arlen Specter (D R D-PA, unrated in current incarnation) scuffles to the polls, like an errant schoolboy expecting the master to hand him a right caning. As indeed is pretty likely to happen.

Specter turned his coat back to the Democratic Party a year ago. He was originally a Democrat until 1965, when he flipped to Republican after getting himself elected D.A. as a Democrat, though on the Republican ticket... ya fallah? Then on April 28th, 2009, when it became apparent that he would lose the Republican primary election to Pat Toomey, former House member from Pennsylvania and former president of the Club for Growth, Specter switched back to the Democrats. (He also turned his entire political philosophy on a dime and began voting with Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid on every critical issue.)

But for some odd reason, the Democrats decided the double-traitor was perhaps a skosh untrustworthy; and he drew an opponent in the Democratic primary election, Joe Sestak (actual D-PA, 95%). According to the RealClearPolitics average, (1) Sestak is 2.7% ahead of the incrumbent, (2) Specter cannot even crack 45%, therefore (3) he's going to lose.

Ah, but therein lies the snub: Hell hath no fury like a Specter scorned.

After Tuesday, Specter will know that his career of fakery and unprincipled pandering is ended... but he'll still be sitting in the United States Senate for another seven and a half months. He will be filled to the rim with rhapsodies of revenge -- but revenge against whom?

  • Against the Democratic voters, who will have "betrayed" and consigned him to oblivion?
  • Against the Republicans, who started the death spiral by rejecting him in favor of Toomey?
  • Against President Barack H. Obama? Although the Commisar finally, reluctantly endorsed Specter, he really didn't lift much of a hand to save his sorry glutes.
  • Against the entire Senate? Despite his thirty years of soulless service, they refused to rise up and declare him Senator for Life, so he would never have to undertake the humiliation of bowing and scraping to the "people," just so they would reelect him. The cads!

I cannot possibly say who Specter will consider Public Enema Number One; all I can predict is, he's about to become the most bitter and obstreperous member that the world's most deliberative high-school debate society has ever seen. I suspect he will put random holds on votes, refuse unanimous consent, absent himself to prevent a quorum, hijack committee hearings, ask leering and suggestive questions, mentally abuse the pages, replace the gavel with a rubber chicken, and intentionally tread on Olympia Snowe's toe.

It should be quite a show. Somebody bring the flopcorn.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 16, 2010, at the time of 11:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 20, 2010

Does She Do or Does She Don't? A Reptile Says - She Don't

Congressional Calamities , Democratic Culture of Corruption , Health Insurance Insurrections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Bonus extra fold-out: How the Democrats hoisted themselves by their own petard

Let us once more check the Hill's newest whip count:

  • 178 Republicans are firm Nays; even Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA, not yet rated), personally (and heavily) lobbied by President Barack H. Obama himself, doesn't look to buck the unanimity.
  • 37 Democrats are firm Nays, likely Nays, or leaning Nay.
  • 199 Democrats are firm Yeas, likely Yeas, or leaning Yea.
  • 17 Democrats are toss-ups.

A little back-of-the-thumbnail calculation gives us 215 firm, likely, or leaning Nay -- vs. 199 firm, likely, or leaning Yea; 216 is a majority in a House of Representatives that has but 431 members at the moment. Once again, the ObamaCarebears must run the table, picking up each and every undecided... while we need only a single one to break against the bill.

Of course, some in the Nay column could repent of their sinful ways and join the Democrat scamwagon; but so far, for every Nay lost to a Yea, an undecided has come out as a replacement Nay. The Nay side has stayed at 215 or 214 for several days now, despite all the queen's rubber hoses and all the queen's minions.

You gotta like our chances.

Other prognosticators agree; according to "Pessimism" Paul Mirengoff at Power Line, one of the Stupakians, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL, 90%), says Pelosi is still about seven short. Paul continues, joined by "Jeremiah" John Hinderaker:

UPDATE: Jeffrey Anderson at NRO's Critical Condition blog says Pelosi is still short. He counts 208 leaning in favor, 214 leaning against, and nine undecided. At this point, though, "leaning against" may mean "waiting for an inducement" in some cases.

JOHN adds: This is consistent with what James Hohmann of Politico told us on our radio show this morning, i.e., that as of around 1:00 this afternoon, Pelosi had 206-208 "yes" votes.

So as I've said many times, in politics, the game ain't over till the last fat lady is hung. If Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) postpones tomorrow's vote, that means she knew she didn't have 216; if she holds the vote, that means she thinks she has 216 -- but could be mistaken.

Bonus fold-out! It occurred to me a week or so ago that the Democrats' own corrupt scheme actually makes it much more plausible that, even if ObamaCare passes tomorrow, we can still repeal and abolish it before it destroys American medical care.

How? How?!

The Democrats were so anxious not to reveal how horribly ObamaCare adds to the deficit that they pulled a fast one on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which tracks those sorts of issues: They crafted a bill that "backloads" all the core elements of ObamaCare -- all the liberty-liquidating, choice-curtailing, budget-busting, death-panel debuting provisions, including the mandate -- to 2013; but the bill enacts the tax increases immediately.

What does this mean? For one thing, the bill the CBO was given to score included only seven years of spending, but a full ten years of tax increases. That made it appear actually to decrease the budget deficit -- for the exact ten-year period from fiscal year (FY) 2011 through FY 2020; but if instead one looks at the ten-year period from FY 2014 through FY 2023, ObamaCare adds about two trillion dollars to the budget deficit!

So a profligate's dream of a bill that will bust the budget wide open was artificially made to look like a fiscally responsible bill that will (slightly) reduce the deficit.

But there was a price to pay: By backloading the guts of ObamaCare, Democrats themselves insured that nothing concrete would be done to implement its most horrible parts until after the 2012 presidential election. Thus, if we can take a long stride towards recapturing the House and Senate in this year's election, then complete the job in the 2012 election; and if we can bring a candidate who defeats Barack "Spending Spree" Obama; then Congress can just vote to repeal ObamaCare, and the new (Republican) president will sign it.

And of course, if the Democrats try to filibuster that bill in the Senate, the GOP can just reach into the Democrats' own bag 'o tricks, like Felix the Cat, and pull out any of a number of techniques, fair or foul, that they pioneered to quash filibusters. If worse comes to worst, Congress has simply to fail to enact the necessary appropriations bills and starve ObamaCare to death; while the administration need only fail to enforce the law mandating insurance to strangle ObamaCare while still in the womb.

It must be infinitely easier to kill a new entitlement program that hasn't even started yet than to kill one that has been up and running for two years. The bill (even if passed) is vulnerable entirely because Pelosi couldn't face a vote with the full extent of her perfidity in plain view. Wile E. Democrat, Supergenius, strikes out again.

So let's all keep a stiff upper spine, wait for tomorrow, and see what the old biddy has up her skirts.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 20, 2010, at the time of 11:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 13, 2010

Courting Intimidation: the Supremes Sing Out

Constitutional Maunderings , Court Decisions , Matrimonial Madness , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

A fast follow-up to the second of our two previous "Courting Intimidation" pieces:

In the second post linked above, we predicted that the Supreme Court was poised to make permanent its temporary ban on the cameras set to record all the proceedings in Kristin M. Perry v. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Perry v. Schwarzenegger); that is the federal case filed to (once again) overturn the repeated vote of Californios to define marriage in the traditional way, most recently in Proposition 8, which easily passed on November 4th, 2008.

We argued that the only purpose and result of the video broadcasting on YouTube would be to make all the pro-traditional-marriage witnesses easier targets for harassment, intimidation, vandalism, and assault, with an eventual eye towards terrorizing the "designated defendants" into fleeing the case, thus allowing those pushing same-sex marriage to win by default.

Today, we read this:

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to block the broadcast of a federal trial in California testing whether a voter initiative against gay marriage violates the Constitution.

The high court's five conservatives formed the majority. They said federal judge Vaughan Walker didn't follow court rules when he ordered proceedings broadcast by closed circuit to federal courthouses in several cities.

The Supreme Court's four liberals joined a dissent written by Justice Stephen Breyer.

For the record, that would be Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito in the majority; Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor dissenting.

Not only was our prediction correct, so too was our reasoning:

The proposition's defenders said broadcasting the proceedings could expose witnesses favoring the gay-marriage ban to harassment and ridicule. The Supreme Court majority backed that view, saying Proposition 8 supporters would likely suffer "irreparable harm" if the proceedings were shown through the closed-circuit feed.

The Court did not rule on the question of putting videos up on YouTube, saying the motion was "premature." They want to wait until the Ninth Circus rules on that first, but I suspect the same actors will line up in the same order if necessary.

We repeat our main predictions:

  1. U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker (Bush-41) will certainly rule in favor of the plaintiffs, striking down Proposition 8, the citizens initiative constitutional amendment that restored the original definition of marriage. He has signalled over and over that he has already made up his mind, and the actual hearing is merely a show trial, a necessary evil before he can rule by decree.
  2. The three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold Judge Walker's ruling.

    (2a) Judge Stephen Reinhardt will wind up on that panel and will write the majority opinion affirming Walker's ruling. (Yes, this one is specifically for Patterico!)
  3. If there is an en-banc hearing, the entire Ninth Circus will narrowly uphold the panel's decision upholding Walker's decree that voters in California have no right to enact state constitutional amendments that the Left doesn't like.
  4. The Supreme Court will accept certiorari on the case... and by the same 5-4 vote (though either Stevens or Ginsberg might by then be replaced by another doctrinaire liberal) will overturn the Ninth's ruling, restoring traditional marriage to California.
  5. Finally, this time there will be a stay on each ruling until the USSC makes its final ruling, so no more same-sex couples will be fortunate enough to slip through the cracks and get married.

We'll see how well we do. I believe that in the end, we'll have a Supreme Court ruling that nothing in the U.S. Constitution mandates same-sex marriage.

Keep watching the skies.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 13, 2010, at the time of 5:35 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 27, 2009

Will B.O. Run for Reelection? - Obamic Options 006

Election Derelictions , Nobel Nitwittery , Obamic Options , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

This is a strange post, I assure you. Even by Big Lizard standards, this draws an extra flask of Weird.

My Obamic Option for today is... Will President Barack H. Obama actually run for reelection in 2012? Or has he something loftier in his future?

Don't become a mob; let me present my case:

  1. The predicate of this question is very specific; we assume a universe where his reelection prospects look at least "iffy." I think we all agree that if it looks like he's going to cruise to victory, he'll stick with the presidency.

So assume point 1 above -- that his chances are dicey (like Bush in 2004, Clinton in 1996, LBJ in 1968 -- and unlike Reagan in 1984 and Nixon in 1972).

  1. One of my operating contentions is that, whether Obama realizes it or not, the presidency is really not the position for which he is ideally suited.

He may have thought being president was like being a gentleman farmer, but he has already learnt better. The job requires decisiveness, leadership, the ability to persuade opponents to your own side, and the willingness to stand up and accept responsibility, to be accountable for failure as well as applauded for success -- all traits that B.O. notably lacks.

The entirety of his past experience has been in positions where all he has to do is schmooze, nod sagely to what others say, make his own lofty pronunciamentos... then sit down to his 633rd testimonial dinner. The presidency does not fit that job description, but there is a powerful and personally lucrative position that demands a man exactly like Barack Obama.

  1. Ergo, I argue, Obama is admirably suited to one job only: Secretary General of the United Nations.

The role of Yenta in Chief (or Yentor, since he's male) fits Obama's personality, talents, and experience like a drum. A Secretary General "Lucky Lefty" Obama would never again have to be "the decider;" the Secretary General never decides anything. Like the Director in C.S. Lewis' immortal novel That Hideous Strength, Obama's world comprises nothing but shades of grey. It's amusing and apropos that he calls himself "post-racial"; what does post-racial mean but beyond black and white?

And what's beyond black and white is an achromatic melange of greys, from steel to slate to iron to charcoal. Nothing is ever completely right, nothing ever utterly wrong; there is no conclusion; nought is finally decided; there is always a third way (or fourth, or tenth).

But is the One actually qualified for the exalted, opalescent apex of world diplomacy? Yea, verily.

  1. Barack H. Obama exceeds every job requirement:


    1. He's a "person of color" -- important in a world where most delegates see whites as nameless, faceless "oppressors" who must be relentlessly resisted.
    2. He professes a very, very, very deep Liberalism... yet in reality, he is an Alinskyite: He doesn't believe in power as the means to some other end but as the end in itself. In fact, everything is topsy-turvy in Obamunism: Left-liberalism is the means to power, not the other way round; the principles of the New Left are infinitely maleable and can easily adapt to the accretion of any available power du jour.
    3. As a specific instance of (b), Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for not being George W. Bush... even as he replicated virtually all of Bush's "warmongering" foreign policy. Why? Because Obama has clearly signalled that he intends to lose all those wars -- and blame the losses on Bush and the conservatives. Thus hawkishness can be presented as the necessary precursor to pacifism... and all the aging hippies pump their fists and shout "Right on!"
    4. He is either an antisemite himself, or else he is at least willing to surround himself with antisemites -- important in a world where, to quote Billy Carter, "They is a hell of a lot more A-rabs than they is Jews."
    5. Obama loves tyrants and dictators and hates messy "democracy" -- important inasmuch as, to paraphrase poor Billy this time, they is a hell of a lot more despots than they is democrats.
    6. He's not pushy or commanding; he makes no demands and doesn't press any particular principles. Just let him speak (endlessly), party like it's 1999 again, and receive award after citation after laurel, even if undeserved, and Barack Obama will be as happy as a doornail.
    7. Final qualification: Although he's American, a real black eye, he's an anti-America American ("the idiot who praises with enthusiastic tone/All centuries but this, and every country but his own"), which is a real feather in his cap. They balance out, subtracting what would otherwise be a deal-killer.

So what does this chain of reasoning portend? This: I predict that, if the Obamacle ponders the race of 2012 and sees a strong Republican contender and only luckwarm support for himself, he will try to cut a deal with the U.N.; current Secretary General Nanki-Poo would retire with all honors... then the General Assembly offers Obama the job.

I suspect he would consider the move a promotion; I can even play TOTUS and write his speech for him:

All of our greatest problems are collective problems, and they are international in scope. I have tried as hard as possible and have achieved goals both remarkable and unprecedented... but I've reached the limit of what can be achieved from the narrow, parochial viewpoint of the head of one particular government, even one as powerful as the United States. With the current crisis, this is no time for a man to play small ball.

To further the great project and bring about the vision that we all hold so dear, every one of us -- that of a single, unified, global government that does not waste time and resources in pointless bickering, but gives us action, action, action to implement the demands of the citizens of the world -- I must step up to the plate and accept the awe-inspiring responsibility the world offers me.

I must, with great humility, embrace my destiny to save not just the United States or even the Western hemisphere, but the entire global world. Therefore, with a light heart and great expectations, I hereby announce that I cannot be a candidate for the presidency of the United States this year, 2012; I leave that mission to those Democrats better suited to its limited and parochial nature.

See? I warned you it was weird. Perhaps next time you'll pay heed and flee while you still have legs to carry you.

I myself would rank the odds of my prediction coming true as no better than one in ten, and possibly a miniscule fraction of that (if I have over-analyzed my man). But if wrong, the only price I will pay will be a few chuckles and a bit of raillery; so what the heck.

If I'm right, however, I'll be hailed as a blogospheric godling. It's almost win-win!


Intense excavations of Jurassic Obamic Options have unearthed these previous fossils:

  1. Obamic Options 001
  2. Obamic Options 002: The Limits of Tolerance of Pinkos
  3. Another Noble Obamic Musing - Obamic Options 003
  4. Could He Ever Bring Himself to Say It? Obamic Options 004
  5. Extradition Indecision - Obamic Options 005

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

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 27, 2009, at the time of 11:50 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 8, 2009

"Marriage" Movement Muffing Magic Moment

Matrimonial Madness , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

One consequence of Chris Christie defeating Gov. Jon Corzine's bid for reelection in New Jersey has been the renewal of traditional marriage in the Garden State. Corzine is an outspoken advocate for same-sex marriage (SSM) -- possibly to distract the citizens of that state from his governmental (and personal) failings -- while the incoming Gov. Christie is an opponent and has vowed to veto any such legislation.

So radical marriage advocates consider the period between now and January 19th, when Governor-elect Christie becomes Gov. Christie and gains veto power, their "magic moment," their last chance to force SSM upon a sullen and unwilling New Jersey populace. Democrats and gay-advocates are trying to ram a bill through the New Jersey state legislature for Corzine to sign before he leaves office.

They scored a pyrrhic victory today when a state senate panel grudgingly approved the SSM bill by the narrowest of margins, 7 to 6; one Republican voted for it, while the Democratic chairman of the committee voted against. (I suspect if that lone Republican had behaved, the chairman would have supported his own party, leaving the vote at 7-6 again.)

The bill now goes to the full state senate for a vote, which obviously must be fairly soon, as January 19th looms. If it should pass, it would race to the assembly, which would surely pass it and hurl it towards Corzine's desk faster than the speed of light. So the senate is the only potential barrier to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Joisey.

According to the New York Times, Corzine's own defeat on November 3rd plays a role in how the state senate may ultimately vote; suffice to say that Christie's victory has put the fear of God (so to speak) into Democratic hearts:

Passage of the bill, considered a fait accompli by many legislators as recently as October, has been in jeopardy since Gov. Jon S. Corzine, a Democrat who supports gay marriage, was defeated in the election last month. That loss rattled some Democratic legislators who began to worry about riling religious and social conservatives by supporting a controversial social measure at a time of economic distress.

The vote is iffy; and if neighboring New York is any guide, support in an actual senate vote will be significantly lower than Democrats expect: The head-count in the New York state senate before the vote lured Democrats into believing that the vote would be close; the final vote was 38 to 24 against, a resounding defeat.

One suggestion making the rounds is that the New Jersey state legislature should pass the deal, and vote to put an SSM initiative on the ballot for November 2010. Let voters take responsibility for their own fundamental institutions!

Not surprisingly, this is pushed mostly by Republicans, who are confident -- given recent polling and the expected strong Republican showing for that election -- that they will win any actual referendum of the people of New Jersey:

Opponents of the measure argued that the issue was so personal that it should be put before voters in a referendum.

John Tomicki, a leader of the Coalition to Preserve and Protect Marriage, said hundreds of volunteers were in Trenton to lobby against the bill and had gathered more than 300,000 signatures on petitions urging the Legislature to reject it.

(New Jersey) Star Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine, who calls himself a conservative (some evidently don't agree), keyboarded a Ledger blogpost today calling for just such a solution:

So, try as they might, all of those people in T-shirts can’t get around the essential nature of what they are trying to do: Rush a bill through lame-duck in defiance of the voters. If this bill somehow gets signed into law, the attempt to repeal it will begin the next day, and the opponents will hold the high ground.

There’s a simple way to avoid this. And that is to put the question of same-sex marriage before the voters. The opponents of same-sex marriage say they would agree to supply the votes to put that referendum on the November ballot. As for the supporters of same-sex marriage, they say they’ve got the votes to pass that referendum.

My guess, however, is that the Democrats in the state senate would never, ever agree to such a bizarre suggestion, allowing the people to vote. Supporters of SSM have historically shied from letting mere voters have a say in crafting the definition of marriage.

SSM is a program of the radical left, the "New Left" that depends upon the gay lobby -- from GALA to GLAAD to ACT-UP, even to NAMBLA -- for a large part of its political clout. These groups tend to be Marxist or socialist in their macro-politics, and all without exception are Stalinist in their strong-arm approach to what they call "gay rights." The last thing in the world the anointed want is ordinary "straights" (sexual and political) voting on the issue; after all, experience has taught them that voters invariably "get it wrong."

They still seem to be getting it wrong. In the latest Quinnipiac University poll, released November 25th of last year (three weeks after the gubernatorial election), New Jersey registered voters opposed SSM by a narrow but statistically significant margin of 49% - 46%; this reverses a poll earlier this year, when voters supported it by 49 to 43. Since April, the support for SSM fell from an advantage of 6% to losing by 3%:

"When we asked about gay marriage in April, it won narrow approval. Now that it seems closer to a legislative vote, it loses narrowly with the public," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"The biggest drop is among independent voters, who backed the measure 50 - 41 percent in April [and now support it by only 49-45]. And opposition among men spiked from 48 - 44 percent opposed to 57 - 38 percent."

Mulshine seems to agree:

So why not trust the people? Well, in other states, such as liberal Maine and even-more-liberal California, the voters have rejected same-sex marriage. Perhaps those polls [cited by SSM supporters] aren’t so predictive.

(In fact, the polls Mulshine quotes senate supporters as citing are old; they didn't cite the newest Quinnipiac poll noted above.)

I strongly expect a trifecta: After Maine's stunning defeat of SSM in November and New York's rejection of it less than a week ago, I predict that the New Jersey state senate will decisively repudiate same-sex marriage as well.

Unless, of course, the Left realize they are about to lose again... and simply calls off the vote altogether. Perhaps they can figure out some way to get Barack H. Obama's Environmental Protection Agency to implement same-sex marriage by federal regulation; that would be more in keeping with the Left's extreme distaste for messy democratic processes.

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

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 8, 2009, at the time of 2:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 3, 2009

More Dancin' Diatribes

Dancin' Fool , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

This time, for "the other dance show" -- So You Think You Can Hip-Hop Dance.

SYTYCD is really for the younger set; my sister and my brother's wife both love this show, but neither watches Dancing With the Stars.

In this dance competition, twenty dancers (ten each) are selected from literally thousands of auditioners. They're paired up, then each week, every couple draws a dance style randomly; the styles range from hip hop (too much hip hop, in my opinion), to ballroom, jazz, Broadway, contemporary (basically modern ballet), and more exotic dance styles (Bollywood, Lindy Hop, Russian folk dance, etc.).

Professional choreographers design the dances, which the couples perform, competing against each other. Each week, viewers get to vote: For the first half of each season, they vote for couples; for the last half, for individuals.

On the "results" show, dancers wind up in the "bottom three" or "bottom two" based on viewer votes. Then one guy and one gal are cut, based upon the judges' decision (first half) or viewer votes (second half). In the end, "there can be only one."

For any of youse who watch SYTYCD, you might imagine that my favorite male dance contestant would be the brilliant ballroom dancer, Ryan Di Lello. Not so! He was my favorite, up until a couple of weeks ago; but now my favorite is the contemporary dancer Jakob Karr.

(My favorite female dance contestant was and still is Ashleigh Di Lello, Ryan's wife; I do hope Ryan hangs on long enough to get paired with his wife one week... and I hope they get a ballroom number!)

Jakob is simply astonishing -- a cross between season 2 winner Benji Schwimmer and hall of famer Ray Bolger (the guy who played the Scarecrow in the 1939 version of the Wizard of Oz). He has never been in the bottom three, nor was he in the bottom two tonight. Although he's a contemporary dancer, he seems able to master nearly every dance style they throw at him... though of course Ryan is better at ballroom. (But Jakob does a better ballroom than Ryan does contemporary.)

Most interesting to me is his physical flexibility, hence my otherwise cryptic remark above about Ray Bolger: Jakob can move his body in ways that no human male can possibly move, leading to my conclusion that he's a double-jointed alien.

To me, he is clearly the -- best -- dancer on this season of the show, male or female... possibly the best dancer ever on any season. So that's my prediction: Jakob Karr will win this season of SYTYCD.

...Just etching it in stone to be the first (among those blogs I read) to make such a bold prediction. As Detective Inspector Grim (David Haig) said on the Rowan Atkinson series the Thin Blue Line, "My butt's hanging way out over the line, and I don't want any cock-up!"

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 3, 2009, at the time of 12:00 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 24, 2009


Dancin' Fool , Opinions: Nasty, Brutish, and Shortsighted , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

One pitfall -- or do I mean pratfall? -- into which a disturbing large percent of conservatives fall -- including Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, and a rasher of conservative columnists -- is to pooh-pooh such supposedly "elitist" pastimes as dance, serious music, and art. I suspect that if you scratch many self-proclaimed conservatives, you will hit populism without having to drill too deeply; populists (in the socialist sense) eschew putative "highbrow" entertainment in favor of the manly pursuits of the masses... hence the snorting rejection of "feminized" entertainments such as the TV show Dancing With the Stars.

Here is how DWTS works; hat tip to Wikipedia:

The show pairs a number of celebrities with professional ballroom dancers, who each week compete by performing [ballroom and Latin ballroom] dances. These are then given scores by a panel of judges. Viewers are given a certain amount of time to place votes on their favorite dancers, either by telephone or (in some countries) by the Internet. The couple with the lowest combined score (judges plus viewers) is eliminated. [Wash, rinse, repeat until one couple is declared the winner.]

They award the winner a trophy that the senior host, Tom Bergeron (of America's Funniest Home Videos fame) calls a "mirror-ball trophy," after the perennial prop in a 1970s disco... though to me, the trophy looks more like a giant, gold-plated golf ball.

The show is a miracle of wholesome entertainment -- and it should be exactly what real conservatives like: People entertaining the audience without resorting to explicit sex, sadistic violence, rejection and mockery of traditional American values, anti-religious hysteria, or Republican/conservative-bashing, which are all staples of most fiction television and TV (so-called) "news" shows. Other than a Mussolini-like obsession with being a "regular guy," I cannot fathom why so many conservatives go out of their way to spit upon DWTS and anybody who participates in the show.

Tom DeLay was a contestant in this season's DWTS; he actually did reasonably well, but he had to drop out due to a foot injury (a pair of them, actually). He certainly did not disgrace himself, as Hewitt and Medved and other conservatives (neocon in Medved's case) confidently and derisively asserted he would.

In any event, Sachi and I just watched the finale of DWTS; all three finalists performed three dances each: One assigned dance (e.g., Argentine Tango or the Cha-Cha-Cha), a group dance, and a "freestyle" dance wherein anything went.

Those of you who have been watching this season know that the three finalists are Kelly Osbourne (daughter of Ozzy Osbourne, former lead singer for Black Sabbath), singer/songwriter Mýa Marie Harrison, and entertainer Donny Osmond. At the end of the finale, based on the judges' scores (half the final score, the other part being supplied by the TV audience's vote), Mýa led with 87 points out of a possible 90; Donny was next with 85; and Kelly brought up the rear with 76, I believe.

As half the score comes from viewer votes, either Mýa Harrison or Donny Osmond could win; Kelly Osbourne is quite far behind Mýa and likely cannot catch up on viewer votes.

This season was fairly lackluster, though Donny Osmond stood out as the pre-eminent entertainer of, in my opinion, the entire show, all seasons. Mýa is a pretty good dancer, but I believe the judges have been overscoring her for some time now. Kelly started as a whiny cry-baby with the attention-span of a horsefly; but she blossomed (no better word) into a confident and adept dancer, not in the same league as most of the other dancers -- certainly not in technical merit -- but endlessly engaging.

Anyway, the point of this dreary and sordid post is simply this: I want to go on record predicting that, regardless of the fact that Mýa Harrison currently leads the pack, I predict that the winner tonight (Tuesday night) will be Donny Osmond: Last week, he ended up in last place on the "leader board" (counting only judges' scores), following an entirely uncalled for, and in my opinion unprofessional, set of scores for his first dance; yet despite being in last place, his fan base saved him by voting overwhelmingly. Osmond did not even end up in the bottom two, I don't believe.

I take it that he likely has the most numerous and enthusiastic fans of any of the contestants. Since he is only two points behind Mýa on the judge's scoreboard, I predict he will prevail. While Mýa may have a large following -- I have no idea -- I doubt they would be big fans of DWTS; contrariwise, fans of Donny Osmond are exactly the sort of folks who would watch a dance-contest television show.

In fact, Donny Osmond is the conservative that folks should have been watching all during this season; Tom DeLay was just a distraction. I have nothing against the former House Majority Leader; in fact, I firmly believe he is being railroaded by Travis County District Attorney and diehard Democrat Ronnie Earle, who indicted him on what I believe to be knowingly false charges, the purpose of which was to force him from public office. Even so, Donny Osmond is more interesting to me, because he has forged a successful career in the music industry, in movies, and on the stage... all while being openly and unapologetically conservative.

Osmond is not a political activist (though he did support California's Proposition 8, overturning the Cal Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage); he lives his conservatism in real life, his honesty, decency, and rectitude unquestioned. Not even D.A. Earle at his vilest could have found a hook to hang an indictment of Donny Osmond.

He is, however, a Mormon; and I suspect that there is a certain animus against Osmond on that basis, just as there is against Mitt Romney. I also detect the traditional sneering by hyperintellectuals directed against instinctual conservatives like Walt Disney, John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, George Murphy -- and Donny Osmond (as well as against his sister Marie). Add in the populist problem, and I suspect that if Donny Osmond were ever to run for office, he would receive the "Palin business" from a large chunk of the conservative high-verbals.

(I trust Walt Disney more than the chattering class, and he was on the side of the Osmond Brothers; they got their first real break performing at Disneyland in 1958, while Uncle Walt was still alive and running the whole Disney empire.)

I make a secondary prediction: If Donny Osmond wins, he will still be utterly ignored by "movement" conservatives, despite the great potential for spreading the conservative memes using folks like Osmond. Thus the head severs itself from the body.

So sad; I see this rejection by Donny's natural constituents as another sign of the terrible and perhaps unbridgeable rift between the conservative "intellectual" (most aren't very) elite and the rank and file conservatives and Republicans. Nowhere is that rift more obvious than here in California, where the Cal GOP appears to have made a deal with the devil: They pledge not to try to expand their numbers from abysmal up to rotten, ceding the permanent majority to the Democrats... in exchange for the latter's assurance that they will allow the current Republican incumbants to serve out their wretched and meaningles careers without any serious Democratic opposition.

Thus have the elites thwarted the will and desire of the Republican electorate. So it goes.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 24, 2009, at the time of 4:26 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

November 5, 2009

House to Vote on SqueakerCare Saturday

Health Insurance Insurrections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

I have an annoying feeling about this. It's almost a cead cert that the Democrats will find enough votes this Saturday, November 7th, to pass Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) version of ObamaCare.

I hereby dub thee SqueakerCare, to distinguish thee from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV, 70%) version, PinkyCare.

But it's the way I suspect it will happen that irks me. Darn this precognition!

Here is my Nostradamus-like prophecy:

  1. San Fran Nan needs 218 votes (50.1% of 435 representatives) to pass SqueakerCare out of the House.
  2. There will probably be 256 Democrats in the House on Saturday.
  3. So when the roll is called, and if no Republican votes for SqueakerCare, the Democrats can lose no more than 38 of their members and still pass the bill with 218 Dems.
  4. Therefore, I predict that at least forty of the Democrats will defect...

Good news? No -- lousy news!

  1. Yet the bill will pass anyway -- because two or three Republicans are sure to vote for it, thus saving the day for the Democrats -- and even allowing Pelosi to claim it's a "bipartisan" victory.

Why? Because they're Republicans, and there are always a handful who just can't contain themselves when they see a chance to betray their party, betray their principles, and betray their constituents.

See, they prove their "independence" by slavishly voting the Democratic line, just to demonstrate that they're not bound by party loyalty. (This of course makes them just as robotic as if they were; only they robotically gainsay anything the conservatives say.)

Net effect: The bill passes, but more Democrats are able to distance themselves from it and therefore maintain a veneer of respectable independence, so they might get reelected in 2010.

Bloody contrarian boneheads.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 5, 2009, at the time of 1:40 AM | Comments (0) | 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

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 1, 2009

The Shape of Things to Come?

Obama Nation , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

In the absence of a discernable trajectory of purpose, a person's actions may seem random, unpredictable, and inexplicable. Why did he do that? Why not this? What's he going to do next? We haven't a clue.

But sometimes, in a great flash, you finally see the pattern; and all previous actions make sense. You can not only explain what he's done in the past, you can predict what he'll do in the future. This is, of course, why finding the appropriate pattern is so important: knowing what's to come.

Of course, more than one pattern can be constructed to "explain" a person's actions; it's tempting just to grab at the first pattern you invent... then start shoehorning every previous action into the pattern you've picked, willy nilly, no matter how badly it fits. After a while, the pattern begins to determine which facts you can see -- and which become invisible to you. We see this pattern of "pattern-worship" among true believers in any ideology.

So to avoid that trap, it's best to make numerous specific predictions and use them to test, and when necessary, correct our pattern-hypothesis. The predictions must be:

  • Specific: This rather than that.
  • Testable: This and that lie within our power to check, both in theory and in practice.
  • Dispositive: If that happens instead of this, then our pattern-hypothesis is wrong.

So let's test our newfound prediction regimen by observing our president, Barack H. Obama, at work -- and trying to find a pattern-hypothesis that explains his actions to date and predicts what he'll do next. First, let's grab a set of facts that beg for an explanation:

  • Obama is elected on a promise to fix the economy with a stimulus package, but then he backloads all the spending.
  • He tries every possible way to raise taxes during a serious recession.
  • He sells his bank take-over by saying they'll pay back all the bailout money with interest, then rejects their money when they try.
  • He pushes a health-care "reform" plan that will add immeasurably to the deficit, will force millions out of private insurance and onto a public plan, and even after all that, will only insure a small fraction of those previous uninsured (the ostensible reason for ObamaCare in the first place).
  • He insists that the plan must be bipartisan, then he leaves it up to the utterly partisan Congress to write it.
  • He insists all through the campaign that we're "fighting the wrong war," so we should pull troops out of Iraq and send them to Afghanistan, "the war we should be fighting;" but once in power, he sabotages the Afghanistan war effort.
  • He supports "balance of power" defense strategies such as Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), but he opposes purely defensive strategies for protecting us from ballistic missile attack.
  • He announces he wants to be the president who finally resolves the Israeli-Palestinian "crisis," then turns America into a mindless advocate for the latter against the former.
  • He criticizes President George W. Bush for not engaging in tough negotiations with Iran, then he cedes all negotiating points to the Iranians without asking anything in return.
  • He accuses Bush of unilateralism; then Obama himself insults, belittles, ignores, betrays, and arrogantly commands our allies -- while cajoling, jollying, bribing, and appeasing our enemies.
  • He lectures us on energy conservation, implying we haven't enough to live the American lifestyle; but he also terminates any method of generating energy that actually works (nuclear, hydroelectric, or just drilling in ANWR, the Gulf of Mexico, and so forth), while promoting numerous goofy methods (solar, geothermal, biomass) that could not possibly generate enough energy to make a difference.

All right, we can probably think of more such weird, seemingly mad policies of the Obama administration; but I think this is enough of a fact base to study.

Taken independently, none of these policies seems to make any sense; taken together but without finding an overarching pattern, they seem inconsistent and contradictory: Why rush to pass a stimulus package but slow-walk the spending? Why raise taxes to lower the deficit but push health-care reform that will spend all the new taxes and more? Why push for negotiations with Iran and abandon Afghanistan, which borders Iran and can put pressure on them during the negotiations?

So let's take our first cut at pattern matching:

Hypothetical Pattern 1 -- Obama is secretly a radical Moslem, and he wants to destroy America from within to pave the way for a sharia-state.

Now it's true that this pattern-hypothesis could explain some of the facts:

  • His actions on the economy are designed to destroy it, so an Islamic revolution can arise from the ashes.
  • He kow-tows to Iran because he's secretly working for them. Same with al-Qaeda and the other Sunni terrorist groups.
  • He sabotages the Afghanistan war because he's on the Taliban's side.
  • He hates Israel because Islam considers Jews the original heretics.

But for the other facts, we discover ourselves banging square pegs into round holes:

  • He pushes ObamaCare because he wants lots of Christians to die, so that the 1% of the country that are Moslem will eventually outnumber them... in about three hundred years.
  • He doesn't want to drill for oil in the United States because he wants to send more money to support Moslem countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Iran... all but the last of which oppose and fight against jihadism.
  • He opposes missile defense against possible Russian missiles because if we have it, we might sell it to Israel, and then they can defend against a Iranian attack. Oh, please.

When we find ourselves tap dancing like this, it's a sure sign that we've picked the wrong pattern-hypothesis. So let's drop Pattern 1 and try a new one:

Hypothetical Pattern 2 -- Obama has always hated individualism, believing in the greatest good for the greatest number; he has always hated federalism, because states used that to justify segregation; he wants all power vested in the highest level of national government and all governance from the top down (with him at the top).

Well, this pattern might explain the economic and health-care policies, but how does it explain diminishing American power vis-a-vis the international political and military environment?

Another failed hypothesis-pattern; so try this:

Hypothetical Pattern 2.5 -- Obama has always hated individualism, believing in the greatest good for the greatest number; he has always hated federalism, because states used that to justify segregation; and he has always hated nationalism, because he believes that's what causes all the wars in the world. He wants all power vested in the highest level of international government and all governance from the top down (with him at the top).

This pattern-hypothesis seems to fit all the facts pretty well:

  • Obama's stimulus backloads spending because he's using the money as both carrot and stick to control state and local governments and private companies and individuals.
  • He's raising taxes because he wants to wrench the United States onto the EurAsian economic model, thus to diminish the control individuals and private corporations have over the fruits of their own labor (they might spend it selfishly, while the national government and international law will take from those who have too much and spread it around to those who need it.
  • He wants banks and other corporations to remain in debt to the government because that gives him an additional lever of control over them.
  • He's trying to bring American health care "up to" the standard of the rest of the world (centralization, nationalization, single-payer). And he's staying "hands off" at the moment not because he doesn't care what's in the bill, but because he expects to be the final arbiter of the final version of the bill, the last link in the great chain of power.
  • He sabotages Afghanistan, kills missile defense, and favors diplomacy over defense at every turn because he wants to handcuff America's "unilateral" military power. That way, all use of force could instead be approved and directed by an international agency -- either the United Nations or an actual world government that succeeds it.
  • He appeases our enemies because that's how you bring them into the International Coalition of Everyone; he's dismissive of our allies because they have rejected Obamunism and won't support him as the natural leader of the entire Earth.
  • And of course he opposes any policy leading to energy independence for the United States because his radical internationalism demands that we become even more energy dependent on foreign nations.

All right, Pattern 2.5 seems pretty close; so let's make a few predictions -- specific, testable, dispositive -- about what the Obamacle would do in the future, if Pattern 2.5 is the correct structure explaining his otherwise incomprehensible maze of policies:

  1. He would show a curious insistance on socialist policies in, e.g., heath-care "reform" that he isn't even championing yet: Rather than accept anything so long as he "gets a bill," as most are predicting, he will push hard to reinsert the most important elements of extreme ObamaCare back into the bill using reconcilliation.

    In particular, he would insist upon the mandate, coverage of illegals -- either directly or via a general alien amnesty -- and federal standards of what coverage "approved" insurance plans must include; for without those, reform doesn't serve his fundamental purpose of Europeanizing American health care.

  2. He would consolodate more power in the federal government at the expense of the state and local governments; he could do this by conditioning revenue sharing and stimulus spending to states and locals ceding traditional powers to the feds.
  3. He would certainly want to sign more treaties, and reinterpret existing treaties, to cede ever more sovereign American power to international bodies, particularly the United Nations.
  4. He would push for an international (non-state) currency to become the standard unit of international trade -- something like the Euro, but with a less specifically European flavor -- rather than the United States dollar. Call it the Espero, just for purposes of discussion.
  5. He would pressure the Democratic Congress to make the Espero legal tender throughout the United States; the idea would be to eventually phase out dollars entirely, just as the Euro was expected to push out local European currencies.
  6. He would press Congress to remove all restrictions on and exceptions to our participation in the International Court of Justice and other international courts; he would also reinterpret codicils of exemption out of existence, or just issue an Executive Order for all federal agencies to cooperate with international courts as if we had ratified those treaties unconditionally (even though we didn't).
  7. He would take steps to be seen more and more as the natural successor to United Nations Secretary General Nanki-Poo. In particular, Obama would pay all "back dues" (without demanding any structural or ethical changes at all from the U.N.); he would chair as many international conferences as possible; and he would butter-up and stroke all the different factions within that body -- the geographical blocs and the U.N. agencies, such as UNESCO, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the World Bank, and so forth.

These are all specific enough to be tested; and if the opportunities arise, and Obama goes the opposite way from these predictions, then I think it's reasonable to reject Pattern 2.5 as a workable framework for the various policies we lump together as "Obamunism".

But as chances come along, every time Barack Obama does take the path of our pattern-hypothesis, the more confidence we should have that our theoretical pattern is a valid tool of prediction.

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

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 1, 2009, at the time of 6:59 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 16, 2009

Barack H. Obama: Mr. Meter Mover?

Health Insurance Insurrections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

On Thursday last, September 10th, the day after President Barack H. Obama's grand ObamaCare speech to a session of joint congressmen -- or whatever that was -- I made a bold prediction:

John Hinderaker at Power Line helpfully reports that before President Barack H. Obama's grand address on ObamaCare, the Rasmussen tally stood at 44% of likely voters supporting, 53% opposing....

He makes no predictions, but I'm not gunshy; I say No, Obama's speech last night did not move the meter; we won't see any jump outside the statistical margin of error....

The people have awakened to the fact that there's no "there" there in ObamaCare, and there never was; the drums of August proved that. There are no new arguments or facts under the sun that will help push it; the more people learn about it, the more they hate it; and the president himself has flat run out of charisma-gas.

It's still possible the Democrats will manage a jam-down (though I increasingly think they never will); but if they do, it will not be due to popular demand.

Barack Obama's final, desperate, make-or-break play to stir a populist uprising in favor of ObamaCare has failed. The numbers will not move significantly towards ObamaCare because of this or any future speech.

Well, the numbers are in. It is now exactly a week since the Obamacle spake from on high to the assembled cardinals and bishops -- also broadcast as an extraordinary dispensation to the huddled masses, yearning to breath the government option. During that se'en-night, what happened anent popular support for the plot scheme conspiracy proposal?

Well, on those rare occasions where it's necessary, I'm always big enough to admit I was wrong. I predicted that Obama would not significantly "move the meter" on Rasmussen, but in fact he did; he moved it quite a bit, actually, much more than I thought he could.


As of the Rasmussen release of the 10th, you'll recall -- with all polling conducted before the speech aired -- ObamaCare was supported by 44% of likely voters, with 53% opposing; thus it was losing by 9 points.

Yesterday's release, Tuesday September 15th, shows 42% supporting with 55% opposed, with ObamaCare losing in the poll by 13 points. That's a jump of 4 points, or 44% over the previous gap.

During the interim, support crept up to as high as 51% four days after the speech, with forty six percent opposed; at that momentary peak, ObamaCare was winning by 4 points. But support utterly collapsed in the very next day's release, to 45% support, 52% opposition, with ObamaCare losing by 7 points. That spread worsened in yesterday's release to its current position.

As of now, I'd say my prediction was quite accurate: I of course meant that the speech wouldn't move the meter towards support of ObamaCare (I assume everyone understood that). That it seems to have significantly increased opposition instead (or failed to prevent the increase) is just a bonus.

But it's not just those "right-wing racists" at Rasmussen, who are doubtless straddling the pockets of Rupert Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC, 92%), and the entire Fox News Channel (which must be a very uncomfortable straddle spread). Checking the Gallup poll released today, we see no significant movement at all in the unforced opinion, compared to the same poll conducted Aug 31st - September 2nd; and what insignificant movement it shows is, in fact, against ObamaCare.

Bottom line: The Obamic encyclical did absolutely nothing to move the meter towards ObamaCare. POTUS (and TOTUS) utterly failed.

Under the circumstances, I hereby repudiate all my previous begging and pleading for Barack Obama to just shut up about health-care reform (and to shut up shuttin' up, too). Instead, I now encourage him to continue on his "speech a day keeps ObamaCare away" tour. Please be my guest, Mr. President; and... bon appétit!

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

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 16, 2009, at the time of 4:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 10, 2009

Did Obama Move the Meter?

Health Insurance Insurrections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

John Hinderaker at Power Line helpfully reports that before President Barack H. Obama's grand address on ObamaCare, the Rasmussen tally stood at 44% of likely voters supporting, 53% opposing. John concludes:

Those numbers have been pretty much stable for a while; it will be interesting to see whether and how they move over the next week or two.

He makes no predictions, but I'm not gunshy; I say No, Obama's speech last night did not move the meter; we won't see any jump outside the statistical margin of error. Here's why I so predict:

Self-selected, partisan audience

First, as the enigmatic and mercurial "Karl" reports on Patterico's Pontifications and on Hot Air's rogues' gallery, nobody but diehard Obamaniacs and weed-dwelling political junkies was likely to watch the speech in the first place.

In today's followup, Karl notes how easy it was to predict the media response:

Sure enough, CNN did a flash poll showing that ObamaCare a 14-point gain among speech-watchers. Buried at the end of the story is the fact that the sample of speech-watchers in the poll was 45% Democratic and 18% Republican. For comparison, consider that the most recent Gallup survey of party ID among adults had 35% of Americans as Democrats and 28% as Republicans. A 14-point swing among a sample that skewed to the left is not surprising. Regular tracking polls are unlikely to show anything near it.

If the viewership was heavily skewed towards those who already support Obama, hence likely support ObamaCare as well, that dramatically limits any impact it can have on the real polling. It might increase the enthusiasm of ObamaCare supporters (though I doubt it, considering how little information, how few new arguments he offered); but it's difficult for a speech to Obama's own cheerleaders to increase the number of people who support him.

(Contrariwise, it is always possible to decrease the number who support you, by saying something stupid that alienates your base. I don't believe Obama did so, so don't look for the speech to turn more people against ObamaCare.)

A highly partisan speech

Despite repeated protestations by Obamic apologists that the One "reached out to Republicans," the tone was obvious early in the address:

But what we have also seen in these last months is the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have toward their own government. Instead of honest debate, we have seen scare tactics. Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps that offer no hope of compromise. Too many have used this as an opportunity to score short-term political points, even if it robs the country of our opportunity to solve a long-term challenge. And out of this blizzard of charges and counter-charges, confusion has reigned.

Well the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action. [As another famous leader was fond of remarking, "no more debate, we need action, action, action!" B.M. would be proud of B.O. --DaH]

Any guess who the Obamacle means by "some?" The partisan nature was set in quick-dry cement by the halfway point:

Some of people's concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.

Obama did include a few feeble nods towards the right:

Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do. Now is the time to deliver on health care....

Finally, many in this chamber -- particularly on the Republican side of the aisle -- have long insisted that reforming our medical malpractice laws can help bring down the cost of health care. I don't believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet, but I have talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs. So I am proposing that we move forward on a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine. I know that the Bush Administration considered authorizing demonstration projects in individual states to test these issues. It's a good idea, and I am directing my Secretary of Health and Human Services to move forward on this initiative today.

But nothing definite, no actual promises, veto threats, or lines in the sand. And of course, again and again, when the TOTUS invites members of Congress to la Casa Blanca to hash out language, he invites only Democrats -- and "progressive" Democrats to boot.

Liberal Democrats might perceive the speech to be even handed; but they already support ObamaCare. Where Obama desperately needs help is among moderate to conservative Democrats and among Republicans; so it's their perceptions that count... and as House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA, 92%) demonstrates, the latter, at least, perceive the speech as entirely unilateral:

CANTOR: Well, listen, I mean, obviously, this was, for an Obama speech, something that I was taken aback by in the partisan nature of the speech. I mean, listen, we all know that the status quo is unacceptable, and the president says the status quo is unacceptable. But when he goes and starts pointing fingers and casting blame, I think it's just a smokescreen, Sean.

Listen, it's not just special interests or Republicans that stand in his way. The Democrats are firmly in control of both bodies in Congress. He's the president. They've just been unable to lead in terms of the type of reform that the American people want to see....

HANNITY: All right, at one point in the president's speech tonight, Congressman, he says, "Instead of honest debate, we've seen scare tactics." And then later in the speech, he goes on to say -- and this is specifically -- "Everyone in this room knows what will happen if we do nothing, that the deficit will grow, families will go bankrupt, businesses will close, more Americans will lose their coverage when they need it most, and more will die as a result."

Is that a scare tactic by the president?

CANTOR: I mean, you know, again, I really sat there aghast with those kind of claims and the hyperbole that was used. I mean, we need some adult sense of responsibility here. We need to try and produce the reforms that we know that the American people want.

Republicans and probably non-liberal Democrats tend to tune out when they hear red-meat partisanship for the leftest of the Left.

Logical lacunae

Regardless of the two points above, it might be possible to gain support by such a speech if new arguments or data were presented that were tough to refute. "Facts are stubborn things," as John Adams insisted; and so are valid, compelling conclusions drawn from those stubborn facts.

But Obama presented no new data -- or at least no new accurate data; what data he did offer is ambiguous, to say the least... and a bushel of utter falsehoods, to more accurately characterize. And the arguments that went with the "facts" are disingenuous to the point of being loony. Several examples summed up by National Review Online:

Neither the government-heavy substance nor the dishonest and demagogic tactics have changed. The president denounced "scare tactics" -- in a speech that warned that failure to go along with his plans would cause people to die. He pretended that preventive care will "save money," even though this claim has been authoritatively and repeatedly debunked. He claimed, in defiance of every independent assessment, that the legislation before Congress will reduce costs. He denied that the legislation he supports will spend federal dollars on abortion, which can be true only if he has some private and novel definition of "federal dollars." He denied that it will cover illegal immigrants, even though Democratic congressmen have specifically voted not to require verification of legal residence.

Obama told people with insurance that "nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have." Note the careful formulation, which is technically true but deliberately misleading. The president knows full well that his plan will cause millions of people to lose their current coverage and that they are not going to catch the fact that his statement does not quite deny it. Obama said that "what Americans who have health insurance can expect from this plan" is "more security and stability." Many of them can, in fact, expect to lose their coverage while paying higher premiums and taxes. Many other Americans can expect to lose their jobs thanks to Obama’s "employer mandate."

It should be clear to all that you cannot persuade those who don't already agree with you if they consider your arguments ignorant, mendacious, and laughable. Ronald Reagan succeeded in bringing many people into his camp who had previously been ardent foes of Republicans and conservatives precisely because he was so good at making arguments that even many on the Left found unanswerable.

For example, with the Soviet Union installing thousands of new missiles in Europe, it's tough to argue that it's somehow "destabilizing" for the United States to follow suit. And with America's economy struggling under a Carter-induced malaise, it was hard for even liberals to resist Reagan's call for loosening restrictions, lowering taxes and interest rates, and allowing American ingenuity, creativity, and industry to lead us out of stagflation and recession.

Reagan's arguments compelled because they were (a) logical, and (b) based upon sound evidence that anyone could verify: Was the Soviet Union an evil empire? Was the economy in terrible trouble? Who could deny it, other than those ideologically committed to America's decline and fall?

But Barack Obama's "arguments" for more government control of health care -- and beyond that, for the "fierce urgency of now" (whatever Ted Kennedy meant by that endorsement of Obama last year) that requires Congress to pass ObamaCare so fast they haven't even time to read the bill -- is (a) paralogical, and (b) so dependent upon the fabrication of surreal factoids, invented for the sole purpose of foisting ObamaCare on the American people, that it will drive supporters away, if they have a lick of intelligence and honesty.

Of course, if they had a lick of intelligence and honesty, they wouldn't be ObamaCare supporters, would they?

The messenger is the massage

Finally, a truly charismatic speaker can lull people's good sense and lure them into supporting that which they would ordinarily recoil from in a heartbeat. A "rock star" can overcome all the previous obstacles and still make headway for his cause.

But as all polls show, the president's magical charm is already wearing thin after just eight months in office. He no longer has charisma to squander on a health-reform scheme that most Americans emphatically reject. He is no longer the rock star that some had supposed him... which means he never was one in the first place.

The main criterion for rock stardom is durability: No matter how many missteps, he can still command an audience and lead it into temptation. But when a supposed star flames out so quickly, it's clear he was actually just a one-hit wonder, yesterday's cold pizza: Some may still like it, but it just hasn't the sizzle it had when chef brought it fresh from the oven on a big metal plate.

Obama alone can no longer move mountains; he must rely on more quotidian paths to conversion... paths that are rapidly being reclaimed by the jungle of politics.


The people have awakened to the fact that there's no "there" there in ObamaCare, and there never was; the drums of August proved that. There are no new arguments or facts under the sun that will help push it; the more people learn about it, the more they hate it; and the president himself has flat run out of charisma-gas.

It's still possible the Democrats will manage a jam-down (though I increasingly think they never will); but if they do, it will not be due to popular demand.

Barack Obama's final, desperate, make-or-break play to stir a populist uprising in favor of ObamaCare has failed. The numbers will not move significantly towards ObamaCare because of this or any future speech.

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

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 10, 2009, at the time of 3:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 9, 2009

Finally, the Ultimate Word on the A.D.D.D.D.A. - Lizards' Prediction Pans Out!

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Election Derelictions , Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

This is the last (I think) post on this bizarre and surreal chapter of the New York state senate. Our previous posts on this tintinnabulant topic are:

Two A.D.D.D.D.A. posts ago, on June 16th, Big Lizards made the following prediction:

The majority leadership of Dean Skelos now hangs by a Gordian thread of Damocles: All the Democrats need do is offer both amnesty and a promotion to Espada (and possibly the squelching of the various ethics charges against him), and they can reel him back in. If Espada has a pact with Monserrate, the two can easily enforce the caucus's capitulation by threatening to re-bolt and start the nightmare all over again if the caucus doesn't deliver.

I suspect the Democratic caucus sees the "mene mene tekel upharsin" writ on the wall of the Senate's executive washroom, and they will do exactly this; Smith will be cast down, the terms agreed upon, and Espada will return to the fold, probably within a week from today.

We stand by our previous prediction:

  • Once Smith is gone, the Democrats will bite the bullet and cut a deal -- legitimate or corrupt -- with Espada and Monserrate, and they will rejoin the fold. The insurrection will fizzle, and Democrats will again be in charge.
  • And the New York State Senate will swiftly pass the same-sex marriage bill already approved by the State Assembly, becoming the fourth state (after Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire) to enact SSM without being extorted by the judicial branch.

Surprise! Today the state Democrats and Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. made good on our predictions:

  • Espada is returning to the the Democratic caucus.
  • Espada gets his promotion; he will now be majority leader of the state senate.
  • Sen. Malcolm Smith, erstwhile leader of the senate, is relegated to a largely ceremonial post during "a transition period of an undetermined length."
  • The Democrats will regain control of the state senate with a bare 32-30 majority.
  • The Republicans are betrayed by a Janus-faced Democratic ally. Again. ("I'll hold the football, Charlie Brown, and you come running and kick it.")
  • And while they haven't yet passed a same-sex marriage (SSM) bill, it's clearly in the offing, along with other Democratic dream bills.

Anent that last point, it's so late in the day that we might get a brief reprieve, at least until next session:

Senate leaders, sounding by turns apologetic, fatigued and self-congratulatory, vowed to quickly take up the scores of bills they had neglected during the leadership struggle....

Senators were uncertain Thursday when or whether several high-profile issues stalled by the leadership battle, including same-sex marriage and changes in rent control laws, would be taken up. The regular legislative session ended on June 22.

All this came a little later than we expected: They fumfahed around longer than I thought any sane group of people could tolerate; but of course, they're not only Democrats, they're New Yorkers. In the end, it was fear of dispossession that finally awakened them:

But it appears that Mr. Espada may have been driven to make a deal to return as majority leader out of fear of being marginalized, because a separate Democratic faction was moving to establish a power-sharing deal with the Republicans.

Indeed, the Democrats have become increasingly polarized, often along racial lines. Mr. Espada and other Hispanic senators have pushed for more influence from Mr. Smith and Mr. Sampson, who are black.

Separately, the faction of seven white Democrats, led by Senator Jeffrey D. Klein of the Bronx, that had sought the power-sharing deal with the Republicans is especially uneasy with Mr. Espada, who faces investigations related to nonprofit health clinics he runs, his campaign finance practices and whether his primary residence is in the Bronx. Any arrangement they reached with Republicans would probably have pushed Mr. Espada aside.

For an amusing coda, the Republicans are gleefully licking their dentures in pre-prandial, salivary anticipation; they don't expect the reconciliation to last much longer than a Hollywood marriage:

Dean G. Skelos, the leader of the Senate Republicans, speculated that the Democratic caucus would break apart again.

“This is my prediction,” Mr. Skelos said at his own news conference, his caucus surrounding him. “Within a few months, maybe six months, there is going to be so much discord within that conference that we’re going to be running the Senate, all right?”

He added: “There are so many factions there that would like to, quite honestly, slit the other factions’ throat. I think it’s going to be very, very difficult to lead and govern.”


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

In this case, Browning's got it a bit wrong: God's laughing in His heaven; and all's Left in the world again... especially its epicenter, the zero-point from which all other distances are measured: New York.

Case closed; a Mark VII production.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 9, 2009, at the time of 10:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 16, 2009

Penultimate Word on on the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany

Election Derelictions , Illiberal Liberalism , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Today, as expected, Justice Thomas J. McNamara of the New York State Supreme Court essentially said "you kids better work this out yourselves." He didn't use those exact words (pretty close though!), but that's what his ruling amounts to. (Please note that what New York calls the "Supreme Court" is what most states call Superior Court, the ordinary state-wide trial courts. What the rest of us call the State Supreme Court, New Yorkers call the Court of Appeals.)

A state judge on Tuesday refused to overturn last week’s takeover of the State Senate by the Republicans, essentially leaving it to the Legislature to decide which party is in charge....

The Senate’s operations have been at a standstill since last Monday, when Republicans joined with two renegade Democrats to seize control of the chamber.

The judge’s decision, issued by Justice Thomas J. McNamara of State Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon, effectively puts the Senate at a 31-to-31 deadlock, but it also leaves Senator Pedro Espada Jr., a Bronx Democrat who crossed party lines last week, as the president of the Senate....

“A judicially imposed resolution would be an improvident intrusion into the internal workings of a co-equal branch of government,” Justice McNamara said, adding, “Go across the street and resolve this for the people of New York.”

But the most interesting part of the story hides behind the second elipsis above:

The judge denied the Democrats’ case and their motion for a stay, and the Democrats indicated that they would appeal. But by late afternoon, Democrats said they would not appeal.


Saying the Democrats have foregone the judicial-tyranny option begs the fascinating question of "why" -- why won't they pursue it to the bitter end? It can't merely be that they are persuaded by Justice McNamara's decision that they were wrong; nor even that they're convinced that right or wrong, such an approach is doomed to failure. The first is unthinkable: Democrats always believe, to paraphrase Shaw, that the customs and traditions of their tribe are laws of nature; and the second is improvident: Even if the chance of court victory is tiny, why foreclose that option? What have they got to lose?

To me, there is only one explanation for dropping the appeal: The Democrats have decided that trying to sue their way back into power is counterproductive to regaining that power. And that means (again in my reading of the political tea leaves) that New York Democrats now believe they are on the brink of regaining that power legitimately; they don't want that "reconquista" tainted by the ugliness of trying to overturn democracy via the most undemocratic branch of state government, the courts.

And there is reason for their optimism:

Republicans wrested power in the State Senate away from Democrats last Monday, but their thin majority collapsed a week later, leaving the chamber at 31 to 31 and its leadership picture more confused than ever.

The move came when Senator Hiram Monserrate, one of two Democrats who had sided with Republicans to give them a 32-to-30 majority, said he was switching his allegiance again and reaffirmed himself as a member of the Democratic caucus.

This redefection leaves but a single Democrat, Pedro Espada, jr., thwarting the caucus's return to primacy. Espada is currently President of the Senate, just one slot below Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican; if Espada returns, and then the Democrats restore the leadership of the former majority leader, Democrat Malcolm Smith, Espada can look forward to nothing but endless penance for his apostasy.

But in the meanwhile, the Democrats (as we predicted) have wisely elected a new "caucus leader," Sen. John L. Sampson of Brooklyn:

Mr. Monserrate said at the news conference that he was returning to the Democratic fold because he was satisfied that a new leader chosen by Democrats, Senator John L. Sampson of Brooklyn, would unify party members and bring about action on important legislation....

Adding to the confusion, Democrats chose Senator Sampson as the leader of their caucus, in a move that was a concession to Mr. Monserrate, who had insisted on the ouster of Malcolm A. Smith as majority leader. But because they no longer had the 32 votes needed to install Mr. Sampson as president of the Senate and majority leader, Democrats named Mr. Sampson “caucus leader” and left Mr. Smith as their titular leader.

Smith continues to try to save his face by insisting that he is the real majority leader -- and Sampson is merely his "CEO." But I think it's inevitable that the moment the Democrats recapture Espada, giving them a majority once more, they will take a quick vote and name Sampson, not Smith, the new majority leader of the state Senate.

(I wonder -- when they do this, will Malcolm Smith continue to argue that you can't change majority leaders in mid stream, that he is still the one and only champeen? Perhaps he can declare himself the People's majority leader!)

The majority leadership of Dean Skelos now hangs by a Gordian thread of Damocles: All the Democrats need do is offer both amnesty and a promotion to Espada (and possibly the squelching of the various ethics charges against him), and they can reel him back in. If Espada has a pact with Monserrate, the two can easily enforce the caucus's capitulation by threatening to re-bolt and start the nightmare all over again if the caucus doesn't deliver.

I suspect the Democratic caucus sees the "mene mene tekel upharsin" writ on the wall of the Senate's executive washroom, and they will do exactly this; Smith will be cast down, the terms agreed upon, and Espada will return to the fold, probably within a week from today.

We stand by our previous prediction:

  • Once Smith is gone, the Democrats will bite the bullet and cut a deal -- legitimate or corrupt -- with Espada and Monserrate, and they will rejoin the fold. The insurrection will fizzle, and Democrats will again be in charge.
  • And the New York State Senate will swiftly pass the same-sex marriage bill already approved by the State Assembly, becoming the fourth state (after Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire) to enact SSM without being extorted by the judicial branch.

This is sad, because I believe that even in the ultraliberal state of New York, a referrendum of the voters would find that they oppose SSM by a significant margin. But when has that ever stopped Democrats and liberals? The irreducible core of leftism is the belief that the Dear Leader knows best and must tell the rabble where to get off.

We await but the passage of a few days to write our ultimate post on this ticklish travesty of anti-democratic Democraticism.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 16, 2009, at the time of 2:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 12, 2009

More on the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany

Election Derelictions , Illiberal Liberalism , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

The follies and frolics continue in the New York State Senate. Here is the latest...

First, erstwhile Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (he still believes himself to be the once and future Majority Leader) released a statement Wednesday through his spokesman, Austin Shafran; here it is in its entirety:

“The Temporary President and Majority Leader, Senator Malcolm A. Smith, was elected to a two year term pursuant to a resolution passed by a majority of Senators in January 2009."

"The purported coup was an unlawful violation of New York State law and the Senate rules and we do not accept it. The Senate Majority is fully prepared to go back to the people’s work, but will not enter the chamber to be governed by unlawful rules." [Well! That's mighty high-minded of them; I was afraid they were simply squabbling about who had the power.]

"We plan to file an action for a temporary injunction to enjoin the Republicans from illegitimately usurping authority from the people of New York."

This is amusing on several levels, not least of which is the casual conflation of a slim Democratic majority losing its leadership position because of a vote in the State Senate -- the same way it gained that leadership position in the first place -- with "usurping authority from the people of New York" (!)

Then on Thursday, the melodrama deepened, as some wag -- likely Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx, one of the two defecting Democrats -- got hold of the keys to the joint:

A defiant Mr. Espada said he would enter the chamber for a session on Thursday even if the Democrats kept the doors bolted shut. As he was being trailed by a large group of reporters down a corridor in the Capitol, Mr. Espada pulled a gold key out of his pocket, grinned and said: “I’ve got the key. I’ve got the key.”

This rise of no-confidence in Smith continues today, as the New York Daily News makes it clear that Smith will probably be ousted by his Democratic conference:

It seems all-but inevitable at this point that Smith will be asked to step aside, despite the fact that he continues to fight in court to retain his hold on the leadership. The leading candidate to replace him as head of the Democratic conference is Sen. John Sampson.

Keep in mind: Even if the Democrats dump Smith and get Monserrate back, the Senate will still be deadlocked, and the question about the legality of Monday's vote that restored Sen. Dean Skelos to the majority leader's post and made Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. temporary president of the Senate still stands.

But today, the state judge hearing the case, Thomas J. McNamara, not only warned the warring parties that they should settle this politically, not judicially, he also made clear he would sign a GOP motion to dismiss the Democrats' case... though without prejudice. This would require the Democrats to start all over again, dragging the impasse out further -- and likely further eroding Smith's tenure as Majority Leader, perhaps even causing more Democrats to jump ship to Republican Dean Skelos.

I'm not a New Yorker; nevertheless, I have some thoughts on this standoff based entirely on what I have read:

  1. I believe the original vote and the continued turmoil has nothing to do with Democrats rethinking the policies of Malcolm Smith, shifting in a more conservative direction; rather, it has everything to do with an insurrection against Smith himself, personally.
  2. Therefore, I believe the efforts to oust him from his leadership position within the Democratic Party will ultimately be successful. A new party leader will be elected.
  3. Once this happens, the defections of Espada and Monserrate (both of whom appear to be crass and unethical opportunists) will boil down to what deal they can cut for leadership positions and possibly the dropping of various ethics complaints against them.

Both have serious legal issues pending: Espada "has been fined tens of thousands of dollars over several years for flouting state law by not disclosing political contributions," and he is also under investigation by the state attorney general for a healthcare network he used to run; and Monserrate is currently under felony indictment for slashing his female "companion's" face with a broken bottle during an argument.

The companion, Karla Giraldo, initially cooperated with the investigation; but in December, she changed her story to match Monserrate's: that he "tripped while holding a glass of water and Giraldo was injured by the shattered glass." There is, however, other physical evidence, possibly including surveillance video, that supports her original charge that Monserrate, a former police officer, assaulted her in a jealous rage over another man.

  1. Once Smith is gone, the Democrats will bite the bullet and cut a deal -- legitimate or corrupt -- with Espada and Monserrate, and they will rejoin the fold. The insurrection will fizzle, and Democrats will again be in charge.
  2. And the New York State Senate will swiftly pass the same-sex marriage bill already approved by the State Assembly, becoming the fourth state (after Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire) to enact SSM without being extorted by the judicial branch.

So it goes, so it will go; but's titillating to watch the train wreck in the meanwhile.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 12, 2009, at the time of 3:15 PM | Comments (2) | 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

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

June 20, 2008

Campaign Saturation Point: Can Barack H. Obama Buy the Presidency?

Predictions , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Tom Bevan published a fascinating post questioning the conventional "wisdom" that Barack H. Obama is bound to win, because he will have a huge monetary advantage over John S. McCain in the general election:

But there's also the possibility that, as with the primaries, Obama's vulnerabilities as a candidate are significant enough that McCain (and perhaps more specifically a 527 group) won't need a ton of money to be competitive in some key battleground states.

If nothing else, the general election appears to be shaping up as an interesting test case in asymmetrical political warfare.

I sympathize with Bevan's position, of course, because I have been saying the same thing for some time. But it needs more fleshing out than Bevan gave it in his (too brief!) blogpost.

I emphatically believe that every campaign in every election generates a campaign saturation point (CSP), beyond which further campaigning -- ads on TV and radio, appearances on talk shows, billboards, posters, signs, rallies, debates, GOTV, and door-knocking electioneering -- diminish, rather that augment a candidate's electoral performance. This factor should be measured in campaign density, not duration: You don't want to stop campaigning two months before the election, but you might want to throttle back on your campaigning to avoid oversaturating the market (inundating voters).

Past that point, no amount of money a campaign has on hand will help... and it can hurt a candidate badly, since there is an almost irresistable impulse for a campaign to burn through every penny it raises... even if doing so hurts rather than helps. Thus, Obama's "advantage" over McCain in campaign cash won't be as big as the raw figures naively indicate... and may not exist at all, depending where Obama's CSP lands.

CSP is a very hard factor to measure, not least because the CSP depends upon several variables, including (a non-exhaustive list):

  • The intelligence of the campaign: A smart campaign has a higher CSP than a stupid one;
  • The importance of the underlying issues: If the contested issues impact the lives of ordinary voters, they will have a greater tolerance for the candidates campaigning on those issues;
  • The likability of the candidate himself: Voters will be more tolerant of a candidate they like than one they dislike;
  • Competing interests: If there are many other stories competing for voters' interests, they will be less tolerant of a candidate campaigning.

But no matter how smart a campaign is, how important the issues, how likeable the candidate, and how little else may be on TV or in the news, there is still a CSP beyond which more campaign intensity is counterproductive.

The concept of CSP is homologous to a similar phenomenon I learned about anent reconstruction money in areas devastated by war or natural disaster: You can only pump so much money into reconstruction, an amount determined by the available infrastructure: Beyond that, money is simply flushed away. In Iraq, for example, there are only so many people available at any one time, based on skill and security, to rebuild an electrical grid or sewer lines; even if you have more money in your pocket, it won't do any good to throw it around.

This point is easy to understand by a time-honored logical technique, reductio ad absurdum. (This is probably the most abused argument in the rhetorical lexicon; but I am a trained professional, so you can trust me to use it correctly, with aplomb.)

Consider this ridiculously extreme hypothetical scenario:

Imagine that you sit down to watch your favorite TV show... and each and every last commercial is an advert for a candidate -- the very candidate you most like. Every commercial -- back to back to back during the commercial breaks.

Assume they're all clever, all different, and you really like the guy. He or she is talking about issues dear to your heart; and frankly, there is nothing else happening in the world to compete for your political attention. In other words, a perfect test case.

But this barrage of ads goes on day after day, week after week, month after month: All you ever see on TV, hear on the radio, see on billboards, or read in the newspapers in between the actual programming or news stories are ads for your candidate.

It doesn't take much imagination to realize what a nightmare this would soon become. Your guy would start reminding you of Big Brother in Orwell's classic 1984. You start thinking of the Police song: Every breath you take, every move you make, he's watching you.

After a while, you would begin muting the sound and running out of the room when a new commercial came on. You would avert your eyes from his image on posters along the street or adverts in the newspaper. And I think we can all agree that the net effect would be that many erstwhile supporters would vote against him in the election -- out of sheer pique, if nothing else.

This isn't a formal proof, of course; that would require more quantification than is available. But it does strongly indicate that a CSP always exists -- at least in theory. The real question is whether it's ever reached in practice, under real-world limitations. (There! That's an example of a professional logician at work, using reductio properly. Aren't you relieved?)

I believe we're going to see a real-world test of this hypothesis. Barack H. Obama is almost certainly going to raise more money between now and November than he raised in the primary phase of the campaign, as many former Hillary Clinton supporters will now send money to Obama for the general campaign. Since he raised in excess of $275 million (!) for the primary, we can expect him to raise well over $300 million for the general. In addition, the DNC will raise some millions (despite having Howard Dean as chairman), and of course liberal 527 groups like and other Soros-backed groups, NARAL, GLAAD and ACT-UP, the Kossacks, union-owned 527s, and such will have a field day.

At the end, it would not be surprising if Obama and allies spent half a billion dollars on his campaign.

No candidate in history has ever spent this much money in a presidential race, not even in constant dollars. This campaign is already unprecedented, and it's only going to push the record farther and farther as the months pass until November 4th.

By contrast, McCain -- who is accepting public financing -- will receive $84.1 million for his general election, and he cannot raise any private money to supplement that (barring minor amounts of private money raised to pay for "legal and accounting expenses associated with complying with the campaign finance law.")

Apart from that $84 million, McCain will benefit from soft money raised by the Republican National Committee and from whatever GOP 527 organizations can raise and spend on his behalf. Note that this limit has nothing to do with McCain-Feingold per se; this system has been in effect since passage of the 1971 Revenue Act, the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act, and the 1974 Amendments to the latter.

It's hard to imagine that McCain's campaign will have even as much as $200 million available for campaigning (which, until this year, would have been considered a lot of money). There is simpy no question that Team Obama will outspend Team McCain by about 2.5 to 1, and possibly by as much as 3:1.

It's clear that Democrats, both politicians and the media wing of the DNC, passionately believe that the staggering amount of cash available to Obama will, quite simply, allow him to buy the presidency. I suspect that deep down, even most Republican and conservative pols and pundits think this.

But I'm quite convinced -- in fact, let's call this a Lizardly prediction -- that far from a benefit, this will end up crossing far beyond the CSP, the campaign saturation point, and will actually impact Obama's campaign as a negative. Here's why:

  1. Right now, voters like Obama. But as candidates edge closer to their CSP, one of the first qualities to be affected is likability... voters battered by too much campaigning tend to resent and dislike the candidate who is pounding them with ads.
  2. The importance of the underlying issues will cut against Obama; he is on the wrong side of the energy issue (which is issue number one on voters' minds this year), the wrong side of the tax issue, and even (astonishingly enough) the wrong side of what to do going forward in Iraq: He's frantically dancing, trying to weasel his way out of his longstanding demand for immediate and unconditional withdrawl -- while most voters, even those who agree with Obama that the war was a mistake, nevertheless prefer victory to defeat.
  3. Obama has shown an astonishingly tin ear when it comes to the average American and what he thinks and wants; he makes gaffes all the time, the prototype being his assertion that people "cling" to guns and God because they're embittered and helpless. But the more money Obama has, the more access to the voters, the more those gaffes (which Obama often doesn't recognize until the inevitable negative reaction) will be projected across the nation.
  4. Too, candidates with Obama-sized egos tend to believe in their own genius; and the more successful they are, the more money they rake in, the more convinced they are that they know better than everybody else about everything else. Their handlers can no longer rein them in.

    (Think of the literary excesses of J.K. Rowling, Tom Clancy, and Stephen King: The bigger they got, the harder it became for editors to actually edit their books, which became bloated and spongy.)

    They descend into preening and gloating, or they make reckless attacks on their opponents. Often they wrest complete control of their campaigns away from the professionals -- the candidate becomes his own campaign mangler.

    If Obama enters this phase, as I think he very likely will, it will amplify point (3) above through a feedback loop: There will be fewer filters between Obama in the raw and the voters, and fewer people to tell him when he's gone off the deep end. Again.

  5. Obama's success is predicated upon a fundamentally false image: that he is a "different kind of candidate," "above politics," "beyond race," who represents "real change that we can believe in" -- indeed, practically a political messiah. But the more visibility he has, due to the sheer volume of adverts, events, and activists, the more scrutiny and skepticism he invites. At every slight misstep, the contrast between well-funded Obamania and the seemy underbelly of reality will raise the specter of hypocrisy -- a mortal political sin.

Obviously, a presidential nominee needs a certain level of money to run an effective campaign; he needs enough to pay for all the appurtenances of a modern campaign: staff, administration, transportation, lawyers, adverts, crowds of enthused acolytes, street fighters, and especially GOTV (get out the vote) efforts on election day itself. But John McCain's funding only seems scant by comparison with Barack Obama's; objectively, McCain will have plenty of cash to run a strong, effective campaign.

McCain will continue to give town-hall meetings (a very inexpensive and effective way to campaign, especially in swing states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Jersey, and so forth). And he will continue to demand that Obama debate him in just such an unstructured format... which happens to be Obama's weakest suit. (He is best at set spiels on predetermined topics that Obama can memorize or read off the teleprompter -- in other words, exactly the "Lincoln-Douglas" format that Obama insists upon.)

Eventually, I believe Obama will have to agree to at least one or two televised, prime-time town-hall meetings, because those are the only ones where audience members really feel like they participated. When he does, the contrast between how good he is in set pieces versus how dreadful he is at town-hall meetings (and how good McCain is) will stand out all the greater because of campaign saturation: It will be something completely different voters can use to judge Obama.

For these reasons and too many others to squeeze into the tiny space available in this post, I believe that we are actually going to see a clean and clear demonstration of a candidate, Barack H. Obama, far exceeding his campaign saturation point... to his detriment and McCain's benefit. It's one of many reasons I see no reason to change my prediction that John McCain will be our next president.

I don't even believe it will be that close; I predict McCain will win by more than Bush did in 2004.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 20, 2008, at the time of 7:32 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

January 29, 2008

Big Lizards Electoral Prediction!

Predictions , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Big Lizards officially predicts that the closer we get to the election, the louder and more emphatically will conservative pundits -- on TV, in print, and in the dextrosphere -- prophesy utter ruin, destruction, and complete left-liberal Democratic dominance on November 4th.

By September, many will be openly saying it's so hopeless, Republicans should just stay home and not bother voting. Sometime in late October, one or two conservatives may call for Republicans to vote for Hillary (or Obama), so they can get in good with rabidly anti-GOP voters and avoid an 84 to 16 Senate and a 339 to 96 House. Some Republican commentators will doubtless counsel Republican candidates to all change their party registrations en masse to the Beer-Drinkers Party.

(In this case, past performance really does predict future results.)

Then the Republicans will win the presidency and essentially break even in Congress.

Followed by the scramble of those same conservative seers to bull their way onto the argue-shows and say -- "Told ya!"

Also sprach Dafydd.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 29, 2008, at the time of 12:02 AM | Comments (10) | 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.


  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


  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).


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 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

September 14, 2007

Things Are Looking Grim...

Hatched by Dafydd

...For my prediction that Hillary Clinton would never be the Democratic nominee. I was sure that as Edwards and Obama faltered, and Hillary started to pull away, the dynamic would induce this loony to throw his own head into the ring:

Rantin' Al Gore

Am I re-elected yet?

It seems that Rantin' Al Gore is resisting the siren call, at least so far. But I still don't understand why; this seems the perfect opening:

  • Gore has the biggest personal grievance of anyone in the race, since by now he has convinced himself (and about a quarter of the country) that he actually won the presidency in 2000 in a "landslide;"
  • Edwards seems tired and worn out, like yesterday's ambulance chaser;
  • Obama turns out to have feet of dullness;
  • Hillary is skating, nobody asking her any tough questions at all -- just as in the 2000 Senate race, where Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY, 95%) simply rolled over and ushered her in; or as in 2006, when the Clintonistas and the elite media formed a protective cordon around her to prevent anyone from poking around where he shouldn't be.

But the openings are there: Norman Hsu reopens all those questions about greenbacks from Red China -- though of course, Gore has his own problems in going there. Still, she has never really clarified what she plans to do in Iraq... withdraw -- but how many? How fast? Leaving how many in country? With what mission? And it was her husand (and herself, as "co-president") who signed the welfare-reform act that I suspect the new Al Gore despises. And what hand did she play in the 11th-hour pardons? (Oh, wait, another one that Gore must stay far away from.)

Anyway, consider this an open thread on the question: Why hasn't Albert Gore entered the presidential sweepstakes yet? Is the entire Democratic field so afraid of Hillary that she will slide by without serious competition yet again?

I'm resigned to losing this prediction; but by all the saints, I'll find out why I lost. Post your answers in the comments: Funny answers, sure, by all means; but also some serious explanations, please... inquiring minds want to know -- and so do I.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 14, 2007, at the time of 4:10 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

May 10, 2007

Shock and Awe: a NYT Iraq Article That Gets It Right!

Iraq Matters , Media Madness , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

We have reached an epoch of media madness in America; it is the age of insanity when the mere fact that a news analysis story in the New York Times, the Great Gray Lady, is neither irrational nor unpatriotic sends shock waves through the Lizard's nest.

The article simply lays out, in a straightforward manner, the situation between the president and Congress on Iraq:

  • Congress demands some set of benchmarks (both military and political), so they can follow whether we're winning or losing in Iraq, which seems eminently reasonable to me;
  • President Bush is willing, so long as failure of the Iraqis to meet them is not tied to withdrawal of troops, training, or reconstruction money. The incentives should be positive, not negative, the president argues (this isn't mentioned in the NYT article, but Bush has said it before);
  • Separately, "moderate Republicans" have bluntly told Bush that "conditions needed to improve markedly by the fall or more Republicans would desert him on the war."
  • The Democrats are pushing a "piecemeal" funding of the war... funding through July and forcing Bush to return, hat in hand, for the last two months of funding at that time;
  • Bush will veto that bill (if it even passes), and Congress will again sustain his veto.

The best paragraph in the entire article is this one, which finally puts a rational "spin" on the angst of the American voter, and how it affected the 2006 election:

“The American people are war-fatigued,” one participant in the meeting, Representative Ray LaHood of Illinois [R, 80%], told CNN today. “The American people want to know that there’s a way out. The American people want to know that we’re having success.”

That's it; that's it exactly: Americans hate to lose, but they love a winner. What disturbs them is not that we invaded. They're not upset that we toppled Saddam Hussein -- Bush's approval rating shot upward when that happened, as it did later when we captured the tyrant. Nor are they sad that the Iraqis held three honest votes and now govern themselves; all of that is good, not bad.

But Americans are angry that since the end of 2004, the "nation-building" part of our operation has lagged terribly; our "war of attrition" worked no better in Iraq under Gens. George Casey and John Abizaid than it did in Vietnam under Gen. William Westmoreland.

Americans are starting to think not only that our strategy (then) was a failure, but that the Iraqi leaders betrayed us, using American troops to overturn the Baathist tyranny, only to institute a majority Shiite tyranny instead.

Bush sold them on a war to create a stable, democratic state, one that can defend itself, in the heart of the Arab Middle East; and they bloody well want to see that, not just replacing King Log with another log, or worse, with King Stork (if Iraq becomes an Iranian puppet state).

Back to the funding bill. A separate AP story adds that, while the "installment plan" funding bill will likely pass in the House, it's very unlikely to pass in the Senate; so Bush won't even get the chance to veto it:

Defiant House Democrats advanced legislation Thursday to pay for military operations in Iraq on the installment plan, ignoring President Bush's veto threat in a complex test of wills over the unpopular war....

But in an increasingly complex political environment, even that measure was deemed to be dead on arrival in the Senate, where Democrats hold a narrow advantage and the rules give Republicans leverage to block legislation.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. has met privately in recent days with White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the beginning of talks aimed at producing a compromise funding bill that the president would sign.

And I believe that at last, we're seeing the shape of things to come. This is what I predict to happen anent funding our troops in battle:

  1. The House will pass the installment-plan funding bill, sending it to the Senate.
  2. While the Senate debates it, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, 84%) will continue to discuss benchmarks, eventually crafting a short list of events without timetables attached. The White House will be intimately involved in the agreement and will sign off on the compromise.
  3. The party leaders will then jointly introduce a separate funding agreement that includes the list of benchmarks and attaches positive-reinforcement measures to them... big, fat carrots whenever the Iraqis meet one of the goals.

    The compromise will fund the troops through September 30th, the end of the fiscal year, the next time funding could be sought -- and not coincidentally, the time Gen. David Petraeus said he would be able to make a thorough preliminary assessment of how well the counterinsurgency plan is working.

    If "conditions" are going to "improve markedly," that's when we'll know it. If things are no better, if the counterinsurgency isn't working at all, then it's time to reevaluate our remaining options... and to hunker down for a bitter, defensive war against global jihadism.

  4. When the president announces that he will sign it (assuming no poison pills), the full-funding, benchmark-containing bill will be co-sponsored by more than 70 senators, strongly bipartisan.
  5. The overwhelmingly Senate will vote to replace the installment-plan funding bill with the benchmark bill, while still keeping same name and bill number; this is a trick to get around the constitutional requirement that funding bills originate in the House... technically, it will have. The Senate will simply jack up the title and run an entirely new bill underneath.
  6. The House, after much melodramatic hysteria, will pass the same bill... albeit much more reluctantly and with much more of a "Republican" vote; there will probably be just enough Democrats to ensure passage, and none of them from "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party."

    Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) will ensure that no liberal will have to vote for it, but that it will pass nonetheless; she is desperate both to assuage MoveOn ("Those traitorous conservative Democrats betrayed us!") -- but not weak for the reelection of House members in red and purple districts ("See? We funded the troops!").

  7. The president will sign the bill, and Congress can get back to the crusade that the American people elected them to fight: endless investigations of every, single individual in the Bush admininstration, from Attorney General Gonzales and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice down to the White House janitors and PFC. Schlimazel in advanced mess school in the Army.

I will continue my unbridled optimism and hope; try and stop me! I believe that by the end of September, Gen. Petraeus will be able to report -- honestly and candidly -- that we have seen a stunning improvement in Iraq, and that we can begin withdrawing significant numbers of troops.

I may be wrong; I was wrong about the 2006 election (but not about 2004, even back in 2003, when everyone and his monkey's paw was predicting President Dean). But if I'm right, just see what happens to (a) Bush's approval rating, (b) the percent of Americans who say the Iraq war was "worth it," and (c) the "head to head" matchups between Republican and Democratic candidates. Oh yeah, I almost forgot: let's see how victory in Iraq affects the war on global jihadism, too.

I refuse to believe that the Western world will commit cultural suicide; not while I have breath and hope. Emily Dickinson wrote that "hope is the thing with feathers." We need hope to fight; hopelessness breeds only despair and surrender.

The surrender wing of Congress is "the thing that should be tarred and feathered."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 10, 2007, at the time of 4:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 15, 2007

Iraq Security Crackdown Proceeding Faster Than Expected

Iraq Matters , Predictions , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

According to AP, after several days sealing off the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City (a slum area in Baghdad) and searching house to house for weapons and militants, we have now also moved heavily into the Baghdad headquarters of the Sunni terrorists:

U.S. and Iraqi forces pushed deeper Thursday into Sunni militant strongholds in Baghdad - where cars rigged with explosives greeted their advance - while British-led teams in southern Iraq used shipping containers to block suspected weapon smuggling routes from Iran. Early Friday, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, was wounded and an aide was killed in a clash the previous day with Iraqi forces north of Baghdad.

So far, the claim that we wounded Ayyub Masri, the head of al Qaeda in Iraq, and killed one of his top aides (Abdullah Majemaai) comes only from the Iraqi forces -- and they've been wrong before. But if true, this is a very nice and somewhat serendipitous benefit:

The announcement about the wounding of al-Masri, the al-Qaida in Iraq leader, came from Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman. He said the clash occurred near Balad, a major U.S. base about 50 miles north of the capital, and identified the dead aide as Abu Abdullah al-Majemaai.

We met a number of terrorist ambushes but evidently suffered no casualties in Baghdad (deaths or woundings); however, one Marine was killed in combat in the Anbar province -- also a Sunni-terrorist hellhole.

At the same time (hat tip to Sachi, who dug up the links), Bill Roggio reports that we haven't slackened our aggression against the Mahdi Militia of Muqtada Sadr:

Coalition forces also are maintaining the pressure on Sadr, and working to dismantle the Mahdi Army from underneath him while he is in Iran. In Baghdad, two more operatives of Jaish al-Mahdi, or the Mahdi Army, were detained over the past 24 hours. Iraqi Special Forces captured a "weapons supplier and financier of sectarian violence conducted by rogue Jaysh Al Mahdi cells," along with "an additional person for questioning." Another Mahdi cell member who is "believed responsible for kidnapping, torture and murder of Iraqi citizens and security forces in the area" was captured by Iraqi Special Forces.

MultiNational Force - Iraq has slightly more information on the two captured members of JAM: the Iraqis picked up a top Mahdi Militia bagman and broke up a kidnapping-murder death squad.

(Actually, MNF-I says "rogue" elements of JAM; but I think that is just because we're being overly cautious before connecting the dots to Muqtada Sadr -- still in hiding in Iran -- before formally fingering him sometime later.

(I think we should be more aggressive in our propaganda right now... but that's just me.)

I am actually surprised at how well the strategic change of course in Iraq is going in its early stages; I'm very, very optimistic about the effect overall as it proceeds into its larger and more thorough stages, when the rest of the 90,000 troops (21,500 Americans, the rest Iraqis) descend upon Baghdad and start truly owning the territory.

Unlike many -- Mark Steyn, James Lileks, and a number of actual heavyweights, including some generals -- I believe that success in Iraq will become so brutally clear, that even the drive-by media will be forced to admit it.

I believe also that the 2008 election will take place in a political atmosphere where Iraq will look a heck of a lot better than it looked in 2006... and that this will have a major impact on the election itself. If my prediction turns out to be true, then an awful lot of Democrats (and even a few white-flag Republicans) are going to look like hyserical poo-flinging monkeys.

(That last isn't a prediction, because it's too easy: no matter what happens, most of the Democrats and some Republicans will fit that image. It's kismet.)

Any of the Big Three candidates on the GOP side would be well positioned to take advantage of that change of atmosphere, assuming I am correct about Iraq. No Democrat will, because every last one of them shall spend this entire year campaigning on the theme that we've already been defeated, we're helpless, and we should simply run away and abase ourselves until we're forgiven by the world community.

Should be an interesting year-plus.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 15, 2007, at the time of 6:50 PM | Comments (6) | 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

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

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

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

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 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

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:

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.'

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

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

September 29, 2006

Secure Fences - Do They Make Good Congressmen?

Congressional Calamities , Immigration Immolations , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

I don't recall if I ever posted this prediction on Big Lizards, but in a private e-mail I sent to John Hinderaker, speaking of the "fence first" bill that was being discussed then in the Senate, I wrote the following:

I'll be quite surprised if cloture is even successfully called -- and if it passes, I'll be surprised if the president doesn't veto.

Well, color me surprised: the Senate just yesterday voted cloture on the Secure Fence Act of 2006 by a large and impressive margin of 71 to 28... which means I'm quite certain it will also pass, whenever they actually hold the vote.

So the question is, will President Bush sign or veto the bill? I hope he vetoes; but he may see that as a political negative.

Assuming he signs it, at that point, I will desperately hope that I'm likewise wrong in my other prediction about a "security-fence first" bill, which is that in reality, fence first = fence only; that once the House Republicans get their fence, they will never make good on their promise to allow votes on the three other major immigration reforms (or at least not on two of them):

  1. Some form of regularization of the 11 million illegal aliens already here, at least the portion of them who are only illegal because our immigration system is so messed up that it is arbitrary, capricious, and unjust (see 3 below).

    In this case, "regularization" shall mean sentencing them to some legal penalty that does not include deportation; to have the illegal entry not prevent them from being granted a work visa, assuming they should have been granted one in the first place (that is, if they have not committed unrelated crimes in the meanwhile). The legal penalty resolves the crime; the illegal immigrant has "paid his debt to society" and can get on with his life without fear;

  2. Some way to allow some number of non-permanent-residents legally to work for below minimum wage for any employer who will hire them. I personally would prefer those "guest workers" be fresh immigrants still trying to get their "green cards," rather than imported foreign labor with no intention of staying here... but that's my schtick (and Mark Steyn's);
  3. A rationalizing of the entire immigration system, so that those immigrants who work the hardest at Americanizing themselves are the ones who get to become Americans.

I still believe that the "fence-first" members of Congress will not fulfill their promise to allow votes on 1 and 2, now that they have their fence (assuming Bush doesn't veto the bill, which he still might). Ne'ertheless, I really and truly hope to be proven wrong, that they're more honorable than I pegged 'em, because I think the fence won't work without those other reforms.

Reform 3 is the most critical... and interestingly, I'm more sanguine about that one being enacted at some point than the other two, for the simple reason that neither party has expressed any position for or against it: thus, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans is locked into any position on rationalizing the system; neither side has painted itself into a hole.

Suppose I suddenly jumped in front of Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO, 100%), and before the Capitol Police could wrestle me to the ground, I asked him: "Sir, do you believe that those immigrants who work hardest to Americanize should be the ones who get to become Americans?" I am convinced that he would say, "uh... yeah. Sure. Why not? But aren't they?"

And from my prostrate position, as they clapped me in irons back and front, I would shout out, in my best James Boswell impersonation, "No indeed sir; there is in fact, sir, no correlation between Americanization, sir, and becoming an American, sir... sir, it is a complete crap shoot!"

And maybe he would ponder and think a bit as they bunged me into the paddy wagon and beetled off.

I greatly fear that we won't even have the debate about 1 and 2, and I think it only 50-50 at best that we'll ever get 3 (all right, it's a 50-50 chance that it turns out to be a 50-50 chance). But this is one of several instances where I jolly well hope my prediction will fail!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 29, 2006, at the time of 5:29 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

September 11, 2006

And Now, the Rest of the Story

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

I hope most of us have heard the great Paul Harvey, who at 88 is amazingly still alive and (I think) still broadcasting. He is famous for announcing the page number of the copy he reads from; he uses page numbers to indicate the type of news he's reading at the moment.

He's also famous for telling what seems to be a complete anecdote... then saying, "and now, the rest of the story." Harvey then continues the tale, often completely reversing the impression you might take from the first part. It's an effective technique that teaches an important lesson: you really must look at all sides of a major issue before arriving at a legitimate conclusion.

In particular, this is true in elections. But to date, we've only heard the first part of the story of the upcoming mid-term contest: seats that Democrats might take away from Republicans.

We have not yet heard about seats that the GOP might steal from the Democrats. While this number is smaller than the other, it's not negligible; and every seat that flips from left to right negates a seat that flips the other way.

The Democrats need a to flip a net 15 seats in the House and 6 in the Senate to capture those bodies; but if four or five Democratic seats go Republican in the House, then the Democrats need 19 or 20 to go the other way. And in fact, there are a number of Democratic seats that are, at the very least, in some danger, according to the Los Angeles Times:

But Republicans have also identified a handful of vulnerable Democratic incumbents, and are hoping to pick off a few of them to thwart a Democratic return to power.

"Everyone's focused right now on where Democrats can gain seats, and properly so — it's a Democratic year," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "But if Republicans can steal even a few seats from Democrats, it will probably eliminate the chances of a Democratic takeover.

Amazingly enough, Times highlighted a couple of such shaky Democratic seats: GA-3, currently held by Rep. James "Jim" Marshall (D, 70%); and GA-12, held by Rep. John Barrow (D, 75%).

This year, Barrow, a former county commissioner from Athens, and Marshall, a former mayor of Macon, were left with districts that had fewer registered Democrats. Barrow even had to leave Athens, his longtime hometown and, as the home of the University of Georgia, a Democratic redoubt, because it was left out of the boundaries of his redrawn 12th District. He moved to Savannah in January.

In November, Barrow will again face off against Max Burns, a conservative farmer who served in the House for one term before being defeated by Barrow in 2004. In the 8th District [sic; Jim Marshall is in the 3rd district, according to Michael Barone's Almanac of American Politics], Marshall is facing Mac Collins, a trucking entrepreneur who was a congressman from 1993 to 2003 and lost a bid for U.S. Senate in 2004. [Did the 3rd and the 8th district swap maps in the recent redistricting?]

When the Republicans captured the Georgia state legislature in 2002 (state senate) and 2004 (state house), they were able to reverse 130 years of Democratic gerrymandering. They redrew the redistricts to reflect the state's increasingly conservative voters... and that means that both Marshall and Barrow have much harder battles than two years ago to retain their seats.

The two call themselves "conservative" Democrats; but that's not how they have voted. Their 2005 ratings from the Americans for Democratic Action and the American Conservative Union -- the premier left- and right-wing vote-rating organizations, respectively -- are here:

Georgia 3rd and 12th district representatives
Representative District ADA "liberal" rating ACU "conservative" rating
Jim Marshall 3rd 70% liberal 46% conservative
John Barrow 12th 75% liberal 40% conservative

By contrast, in the 3rd district, Jim Marshall is running against former Republican Rep. Mac Collins, who had a 100% conservative rating from the ACU in 2002 (his last year in office); while in the 12th district, Barrow is up against former Republican Rep. Max Burns, who had an 88% conservative rating in 2004, his last full year. Compared to this, the incumbents' ratings of 46% and 40% respectively don't look very conservative at all.

Here are some of the other races where Democrats could lose seats, per the L.A. Times:

Others include veteran Iowa Rep. Leonard L. Boswell, a septuagenarian who has had health problems and who is facing a well-funded Republican challenger; Rep. Melissa Bean, an Illinois freshman whose victory was aided by the lackluster campaign of her 2004 rival; and Rep. Chet Edwards of Texas, whose district includes President Bush's Crawford ranch.

Larry Sabato still rates the two Georgia races as "leans Democratic;" on the other hand, Sabato is notoriously pessimistic, nearly always underestimating Republican victories. The fact remains that Democrats will very likely lose at least some House seats in November.

What about the Senate? Again, while there are definitely Republicans who are endangered -- with the recent rise of Sen. Rick Santorum (PA, 96%) in the polls, the most threatened Republican (if you want to call him that) senator is probably Lincoln Chafee (RI, 12%) -- there are also Democratic Senate seats that are in some danger. I list them here, more-or-less in order of vulnerability (in my opinion):

  • Robert Menendez (NJ, 100%), appointed by Jon Corzine to replace himself when he was elected governor two years ago; former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, jr. is currently running ahead of Menendez... and this was before the U.S. attorney announced that Menendez was under investigation for corruption!
  • Sen. Paul Sarbanes (MD, 100%) is retiring, leaving an open seat; depending upon the outcome of the primary (which is tomorrow), Republican Michael Steele will face either black activist Kweisi Mfume or establishmentarian liberal Rep. Ben Cardin (95%): if Cardin wins, the black voters may well be angry at him, and Steele has already made some inroads in this group; but if Mfume wins, many white voters who ordinarily vote straight Democratic will be appalled and frightened of this radical and may well vote for Steele. Either way, Steele has a very good shot at the seat.
  • Mark "Evacuatin'" Dayton (MN, 100%) is departing for greener pastures, leaving his seat open; recent polls (late August) have Democrat Amy Klobuchar leading Republican Rep. Mark Kennedy (MN, 84%) by 7-10 points. But there is plenty of time for Kennedy to catch up such a minor difference. If there is no Democratic "wave," then I suspect he will, and this seat will flip.
  • Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow (100%) faces Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard. A few months ago, Stabenow led Bouchard by 20 points; now (September 7th, Rasmussen) she leads by only 8%. But it will be tough to catch up, as she is well liked by Michigan Democrats. Still, this is another race to watch.
  • Maria Cantwell (WA, 95%) is still way ahead (17%) in polls by Rasmussen (9/7) and SurveyUSA (8/28-29); but a Republican poll by Strategic Vision at the end of August (25-27) had her ahead by only 5%. Again, what really matters is whether there is a Democratic "wave." If not, then Republican Mike McGavick, the Safeco turnaround king who managed Slade Gorton's successful 1988 campaign, has a good shot at catching her.
  • Sen. Ben Nelson (NE, 55%) is running for reelection in one of the reddest of red states; the last poll was conducted in July, I think, and Nelson led Pete Ricketts by 26%. But I've heard that Ricketts could be improving significantly. Consider this still a long-shot, but still one to watch.

Bottom line: Larry Sabato is right that this will be a "Democratic year," but I think not by anywhere near as much as people -- especially Democrats -- have been supposing. At this point, Big Lizards sticks with our earlier prediction of a net GOP loss in the House of no more than 9 seats, and in the Senate, no more than 2.

Be of good cheer!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 11, 2006, at the time of 8:19 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 7, 2006

Prediction: Lincoln Chafee Will Vote Against Bolton in Committee

Elections , Politics - National , Predictions , Untied Nations
Hatched by Dafydd

UPDATE September 8th, 2006: See below.

Today, Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R?-RI, 12%) balked at the planned vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to send the renomination of John Bolton to the full senate with a recommendation to confirm:

Rhode Island Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, the only Republican who has not publicly committed to supporting Bolton, sought more time, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said. Chafee, locked in a tough re-election bid, faces a Republican primary election on Tuesday.

Is there any possibility, you think, that the two statements above are related?

I think it's pretty clear what's happening: if Chafee had voted for Bolton, that would have helped him in the primary -- but it would definitely damage him in the general election, where his re-election is already precarious. But if Chafee voteed against Bolton, he likely wouldn't make it to the general; because Steve Laffey, his conservative opponent in the primary -- already running neck and neck with Chafee -- would use it to win the nomination (and go on to lose the seat to the Democrat, Sheldon Whitehouse).

(One amusing side point: if Whitehouse should win, he would probably be the only senator in "the world's greatest deliberative body" who doesn't harbor any hope of becoming president, because nobody could say the words "President Whitehouse" without giggling.)

There is only one path for Chafee at this point: postpone the vote. The Rhode Island primary is next Tuesday, the 12th -- just five days away. There is no way that Chairman Dick Lugar (R-IN, 88%) can force a committee vote in the next five days; in fact, he doesn't seem even to be trying:

Committee Chairman Richard Lugar would only say a Republican member asked for the delay. He said the committee will meet on Bolton again, but did not say when.

"I'm not going to make any comments on time. It's going to require a lot of consultation with members on both sides of the aisle,'' the Indiana Republican said.

So how does this play out?

  1. The committee waits until after Chafee's primary to vote on the Bolton nomination;
  2. If Chafee wins renomination, then he must of course vote against Bolton to bolster his chances in the general election;
  3. If Laffey is nominated instead, then Chafee is a lame duck, and he's free to vote his conscience... which, since he's the most RINO of all RINOs in the Senate, likely means he votes against Bolton.

So pretty much any way we cut the cheese, it looks as if Lincoln Chafee plans to spike the renomination of John Bolton.

So what does that do to Bolton's chances? The Senate Foreign Relations Committee comprises nine Republicans and seven Democrats. If Chafee votes against Bolton, the absolute best the Republicans can do (unless they can flip a Democrat) is a 7-7 tie, which means Bolton is passed out of committee with no recommendation for or against.

The seven Democrats are:

  • Ranking Member Paul Sarbanes (MD, 100%) -- won't risk his committee status, since he would become chairman if the Democrats capture the Senate;

    UPDATE: Commenter Ruthg reminds me that Sarbanes is retiring, to be replaced either by Republican Michael Steele, or by Ben Cardin or Kweise Mfume, both Democrats. So perhaps this is a fracture point; maybe Sarbanes can be persuaded to vote for Bolton, since he's leaving the Senate anyway;

  • Chris Dodd (CT, 100%) -- leading the charge against Bolton;

  • John F. Kerry (MA, 100%) -- possibly running for president again;

  • Russell Feingold (WI, 100%) -- the most liberal Democrat in the Senate;

  • Barbara Boxer (CA, 100%) -- party-line liberal and dumb as a bag of walnuts;

  • Bill Nelson (FL, 80%) -- might have been a possible flip, since he's running for reelection in a Republican state. But with the nomination of Katherine Harris to run against him, he is now assured of reelection; he has no reason to run to the right;

  • Barak Obama (IL, 100%) -- elected as a moderate, he quickly flipped his coat and revealed himself as a doctrinaire liberal.

I don't see any room for a surprise defection there; none of the Democrats has anything to lose, and each has everything to gain, by opposing John Bolton and poking another finger in George W. Bush's eye.

If Bolton is sent to the Senate floor with no recommendation, it will be next to impossible to get him confirmed:

  • The non-recommendation would give cover to Chafee to vote against him, along with John Warner (R-VA, 88%), Lindsay Graham (R-NC, 96%), John McCain (R-AZ, 80%), Mike DeWine (D-OH, 56%)and possibly even George Voinovich (R-OH, 68%), for all that he has said he'll support Bolton this time around (he joined the filibuster against Bolton last time).
  • It would also give cover to a Democratic filibuster; there are enough Democrats to prevent the vote, if they more or less stick together.

So I believe that John Bolton's renomination is dead; I would be ecstatic to be proven wrong this time... alas, I don't think I will be.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 7, 2006, at the time of 2:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 2, 2006

The Slow Motion Collapse Has Begun

Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Everyone on all sides in Israel now agrees that if new elections are held anytime soon -- as opposed to 2010, the next scheduled date -- Ehud Olmert and his Kadima party will lose big, along with their coalition partner Labor; the big winners will be Likud and other conservative parties. Thus, Olmert will do anything to delay new elections.

Alas for him, new elections can be triggered anytime the Knesset reports a vote of "no confidence" in the current government. As we all learned from Captain Ed's reporting on the equally slow-motion collapse of Canada's Liberal Party and its erstwhile leader, Paul Martin, there are several kinds of bills whose rejection would be considered a vote of no confidence, including the budget. I assume (without really knowing) that the same is true for Israel's Knesset: which means that Olmert must avoid any and all bills that could be considered votes on confidence in the government.

Which means that he can only stay in power if nothing at all happens, nothing important is proposed, and Israel simply drifts along like a log floating in a stream. Which would be fine... except that there are excited Arabs shooting at the log.

In particular, Olmert must avoid at all costs any independent inquiry into Israel's conduct during the recent Lebanon war... lest a serious condemnation lead to the very kind of vote he's desperate to avoid.

That means he can only allow an inquiry into his conduct that he, himself controls -- an utterly corrupt kangaroo court that will rubberstamp any conclusion that comes from Ehud Olmert's office. He has steadfastly refused to allow any independent inquiry for solid political reasons (though it seriously undercuts Israel itself not to let everyone know what went wrong).

Enter Amir Peretz, the minister of defense.

Peretz is the head of Labor; and as Kadima's partner in the current government, Peretz is in the same leaky rowboat with Olmert. However, Peretz has rival Labor leaders nipping at his heels... and were he to be replaced as head of Labor, which would take only an internal vote, he would become the forgotten man of Israel.

Those rivals, as well as the Labor chisel and file, are demanding an independent investigation... probably (I cynically aver) more to embarass and diminish Peretz than because they really want to know what actually happened. But the amazing result is that now, Peretz himself has joined the chorus demanding an independent inquiry:

Bowing to rebels in his own Labor Party, Defense Minister Amir Peretz of Israel called today for a full independent inquiry into the recent war in Lebanon, changing his previous position and putting him publicly at odds with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Olmert has so far prevented any independent inquiry; but the excuses are wearing thin, as more and more Israelis demand an investigation that is not controlled by the very person being investigated. Peretz is in a far weaker position, as the junior partner of a minority government... and he was unable to get away with the Olmert option:

Mr. Peretz, elected head of the Labor Party not long before the March 28 elections, was considered an unlikely defense minister, and his own performance during the war has been widely criticized, with many calling for his resignation. He himself appointed a panel, headed by an aide and former general, to look into the military’s performance, and was widely criticized again for trying to control the inquiry.

Mr. Peretz then halted the work of his own commission and appeared to back Mr. Olmert. With 19 seats in the 120-seat Parliament, Labor is a junior partner in the government with Kadima, which as 29 seats. But senior members of Labor, some of whom opposed Mr. Peretz, a former trade-union leader, have seen a chance to tame him or even pull him down. They have pressed him to support a full state inquiry, which he has now done.

The political dynamics of this are fascinatingly complex:

  • If there is an independent inquiry, it will likely find that both Olmert and Peretz behaved incompetently and insouciantly; this would probably crack the government wide open, forcing new elections that both Kadima and Labor would lose;
  • But if Peretz opposes an independent commission to investigate the war, he will be branded cowardly and corrupt (charges of corruption are endemic in Israel and often successful -- because too often accurate); he would likely lose his position as head of Labor even if the Olmert government managed to hang on;
  • So the only hope for Peretz is to call for an independent inquiry, but hope to hell that Olmert is able to stop it; that way, Peretz can shrug his shoulders and say, "Oh well, I tried;"
  • But this depends upon Olmert being able to hold the line against an independent commission... which is made vastly harder by his own defense minister calling for exactly the sort of inquiry that Olmert is blocking;
  • So in essence, Peretz must pray that he is so weak and powerless that Olmert is easily able to overcome Peretz's apostasy; but if this is true, then that makes it ever so much easier for Peretz's political rivals within Labor to oust him -- as a weak, ineffectual leader who cannot even persuade his own coalition partner to launch an independent investigation of their conduct during the war!

Thus, every way Amir Peretz turns, he's up to his yarmulke in alligators. But that's not his only problem; Olmert, unwilling to be Peretz's whipping boy, is fighting back:

Mr. Olmert, needless to say, was reported by Israeli media to be less than happy with Mr. Peretz’s latest change of position. Olmert aides, without being named, were quoted as saying that Mr. Peretz had caved in to political pressure and was again showing his inexperience.

Olmert is also trying to woo Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu ("Our Home Israel") party. Yisrael Beiteinu got 11 seats in the Knesset in the March 2006 elections... so the threat is obvious to Labor (which got 19 seats): if Yisrael Beiteinu were to join the coalition, and if a smaller party were also to join (such as the ultra-orthodox Torah Judaism Party, 6 seats, or Meretz, 5 seats, or Balad or Hadash, 3 seats each -- it's not hard to construct a 61+ seat majority without the Labor Party.

Kadima's current coalition comprises:

Kadima coalition
Political Party Seats in Knesset
Kadima 29
Labor 19
Shas 12
Pensioners 7
Total seats 67
(61 is a majority)

But the other parties that got seats in the Knesset, and who theoretically could replace Labor, are:

Alternative partners to Labor
Political Party Seats in Knesset
Likud 12
Yisrael Beytenu 11
National Union
National Religious Party
United Torah Judaism 6
Meretz-Yachad 5
United Arab List 4
Hadash 3
Balad 3
Total seats 53
(13+ needed to replace Labor)

However, once the shaky Kadima coalition breaks apart, there is no guarantee that Olmert will be able to hold them together long enough to put a new coalition in place; parties might decide to wait for new elections, thinking that with Kadima and Labor diminished, some of the smaller parties might pick up seats and become more important. Thus, Olmert's implicit theat to dump Labor and replace it with some more complicated coalition of other parties is, while not exactly empty, at least problematical.

So any way you slice the kosher bologna, there are interesting times ahead for Israel. But Big Lizards sticks by its prediction that the Olmert government cannot stand long: as Lincoln (Abraham, not Chafee) said, "you can't fool all the people all the time." Or even a majority of them.

Olmert's government will fall because it has proven to be dangerously incompetent in warfare... and war is the natural state of the state of Israel.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 2, 2006, at the time of 4:39 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 24, 2006

Gallup Generic Congressional Poll: Not "Mr. Lonely" Anymore

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

When Gallup released its generic congressional poll on Monday that showed the Democrats with only a statistically insignificant 2% lead over the Republicans, we questioned whether it might be just an "outlier" -- a poll that, however well conducted, was not actually representative of the electorate.

One reason was that no other poll conducted around the same time showed such a narrow gap. But today, Hotline, one of the best pollsters around, released a poll taken over the same period as the Gallup poll; and it showed -- wait for it -- Democrats and Republicans dead even on the generic congressional question, 40% to 40%.

Another question we looked at was the Gallup poll's job-approval rating for President Bush:

But I'm somewhat cheered by the concomitant increase found in President Bush's job-approval numbers on the new Gallup poll -- from 40% last time to 42% this time -- because that is similar to the other two polls conducted at the same time, which showed similar increases.

All right; make that four polls that show the identical number for Bush's job approval: 42% from Gallup, CNN, Rasmussen, and Hotline. At this point, the CBS-New York Times poll is clearly the outlier, with Bush at 36% and dropping, and the generic congressional at a 15% advantage for the Democrats and rising. Every other national poll shows better numbers for the GOP and a trend in their direction, the polar opposite of CBS-New York Times.

Hotline is great, because they give you many more "internals" than most pollsters do (at least for non-subscribers, where "subscriber" usually involves paying -- I rib you not -- hundreds of dollars). Let's take a look at a few...


Here's one you almost never see from other pollsters; Hotline actually gives you the party breakdown of their pool of respondents!

Party ID breakdown: 32% D, 28% R, 40% I/O. W/leans: 38% D, 33% R, 29% I/O.

LV party ID breakdown: 39% D, 37% R, 24% I/O.

That's pretty accurate to current measures of actual party registration, though I still think they're overpolling "independents." But note what happens when "leaners," independents who say they lean towards one of the two major parties, are pushed: they split almost evenly between Republicans and Democrats. That accounts for why independents typically fall between Republicans and Democrats on most issues.

Similarly -- and this is the most important point -- when Hotline looked only at likely voters (typically that means respondents, Rs, with a history of voting who also say they definitely plan to vote), the Rs broke down into near parity again: 39% Democratic to 37% Republican; the independents dropped to where I think they actually are in the country among actual voters. (The "independent/other" category scoops up all the minor parties: Libertarian, Green, American Independent, Constipation Party, etc.)

In other words, Republican turnout is likely to be higher than Democratic turnout, completely erasing the slight advantage the latter enjoys in registration.

Note that "Rs" means respondents to the poll, not "Republicans."

So we know we're dealing with a poll that is not overpolling or underpolling any political party; that makes it much more reliable than, say, CBS, which historically overpolls Democrats and underpolls Republicans, yet stubbornly refuses to weight its sample to bring it in line with the national registration lists or the historical turnout statistics. By the way, from now on, every statistic I cite from the Hotline poll will be of "likely voters," unless I specify otherwise.

A generic Congress - how I wish!

Start with the generic congressional question, since the upcoming elections don't involve the president. The current (August 24th, 5:00 pm PDT) Real Clear Politics average shows an advantage to the Democrats of only 6.8%. This is absolutely remarkable, considering that they had nearly a 20% advantage just a few months ago. That is a huge and unmistakable surge for the Republicans.

If you remove the clear outlier CBS poll from the mix, then the average shows a Democratic advantage of only 4.8%. Considering the built-in Democratic bias of most polls (not Hotline), this is almost parity... which is, not coincidentally, exactly what Hotline found.

Typically, because incumbents have such an advantage in the actual election, you need to see a very big disparity in the generic congressional vote in order to see any significant movement in the House or Senate; for example, in the final polls of the 1994 election, Republicans had about a 10% to 12% advantage over Democrats on the generic congressional poll. If Democrats have a similar advantage in late October 2006, that would be grim indeed for the GOP; but at the moment, the trend is in the Republicans' direction.

(Wouldn't it be amusing if, sometime in September, it was the Republicans who had the advantage on the generic congressional poll? Even if it were statistically insignificant -- 2%, say -- it would be worth it just to watch the "reality-based party" squirm itself into denouncing all polling as meaningless!)

Here is a really interesting question. When Hotline specifically asked Rs whether they would vote to reelect or replace their own representatives, they found parity: 33% to reelect, 32% to replace.

But -- when they broke it down by party, they found something remarkable:

  • Democrats were are parity, with 30% to reelect and 29% to replace;
  • Independents really didn't like their representatives -- only 16% will vote to reelect, while a whopping 30% want to replace him;
  • But Republicans definitely like their representatives: 37% want to reelect, and only 24% want to replace.

I wonder: how does the 29% of Democrats who want to replace their reps break down? How many live in Republican districts -- and how many live in districts represented by a congressional clone of Joe Lieberman? That is, do they want to get rid of some Republican -- or do they want to get rid of a moderate Democrat in favor of a nutroots candidate endorsed by Michael Moore and Howard Dean?

Right track/wrong track for the nation as a whole: 18% right to 72% wrong; but substitute "for your area," and it becomes 54% right track, 34% wrong. Wow. So voters really are saying, "things are fine where I live, but the rest of the country sucks!"

No clear winner for most important issue; nationally, the Iraq war has the plurality, but it's only the most important issue for 28% of Rs. Next up is terrorism at 14% and the economy at 11%. Nothing even reaches 30%; there is no overriding issue dominating the election. In the R's local area, it's even more fractured, with taxes (14%) and the economy (13%) splitting the top slot.

And on the question of whether local or national issues would most affect Rs' votes -- 33% national, 13% local; only a third of Rs say any national issue at all will most affect their votes. And the Democrat's biggest trump card, the Iraq war, is cited by only 15% of Rs.

Big Lizards analysis: the Democrats have failed to nationalize the 2006 midterm elections. Thus, by their own gameplan, they are currently losing.

Bush, Bush, and more Bush

President Bush has a 42% job approval in this poll, as noted; but he still has room for growth, as GOP respondents only support him by 79%, while Democrats oppose him by 87%. As the election looms, I expect we'll see parity between these two measures as more Republicans support the Republican president. With a party breakdown as in this poll, that alone would raise his job approval to 45%.

And this appears to be happening; the percent of Republicans who "strongly approve" of Bush has risen from 33% in May to 40% now; if it heads back to the normal 46% to 47%, that would likely mean that Bush's approval among the GOP would rise to about 88% to 90%, as the ratio among Republicans who approve of Bush has been pretty steady: half approve strongly, half approve moderately.

Bush gets low marks by all likely voters on the Iraq war, 38% support and 58% oppose; in this case, it's mostly because of Republicans, who only support him by 72%, while Democrats oppose him by 90%. But an issue question later found that of the 28% of people for whom the Iraq war is the top issue, more than a fifth support the war. If we assume that nearly all of those are Republicans, then of the 24% of Republicans who disapprove of Bush's handling of the war -- likely well over half of them support the war himself, hence they probably think Bush isn't fighting the war hard enough.

These Republicans are likely not "Ned Lamont" voters. Thus, Big Lizards does not believe the Iraq war will be much of a drag on the GOP vote in November.

Jots and tittles, dribs and drabs

  • Joe Lieberman has a 10-point lead over Lamont, but more than 20% are still undecided; this is anybody's race.
  • In the McCain/Hillary favorability matchup, McCain kills with 59% favorable, 22% unfavorable. Hillary Clinton, despite many months of trying to please all sides, remains mired exactly where she was a year ago: split dead even, 46% to 46%. She cannot win the general election with a 46% disapproval rating; and Big Lizards stands by our earlier prediction that she will not even be the nominee in 2008. (If she doesn't get it in 2008, she has no chance of ever getting the nod.)
  • Asked whether Rs think we are safer or less safe today than we were before 9/11, likely voters said "safer" by a margin of 50% to 21% less safe, with 23% saying we're about the same. Asked whether Bush's policies have made us safer, it drops to parity: 38% safer, 36% less safe, 24% the same. Methinks thar be some poly-ticking going on hereabouts...!
  • If the Democrats controlled Congress, we would be safer (23%), less safe (29%), the same (38%). This reverses for the question of a Democratic president: 29%, 24%, 38%.

    If John Kerry were president, it flip-flops right back: 25% say we would be safer, 37% say less safe, and 28% think it would be the same. And if Algore were president, he splits the tank: 35%, 33%, 23%.

  • If Hillary Clinton were president, only 25% of Rs say we would be safer, while 39% say less safe (28% the same). Hillary is considered a worse candidate for national security than even John Kerry! Note that every single specific Democrat underperforms the generic Democratic president.
  • Contrariwise, John McCain, the only specific Republican presidential candidate mentioned, slightly outperforms President Bush, but only if you take the "less safe" and "just as safe" answers into account: 34% safer, 15% less safe, 40% the same.
  • By a significant margin, Rs see the Iraq war as "part of the global war on terrorism," 53% to 42%. Even among Democrats, 34% see it as part of the GWOT (60% do not); among Republicans, it's 79% to 17%; and independents split, 45% o 48%.
  • Finally, when asked what is the best way to protect us from terrorism, Rs voted to "implement 9/11 Commission's recommendations" over "withdraw troops from Iraq" by a whopping 53% to 22%. Among all registered voters, it's still 46% to 26%. Among Democrats, an astounding one third prefer the former over withdrawing from Iraq, and only 41% think cutting and running is the best option. Bizarrely, 12% of Republicans think the best thing to do is to pull out. Yeesh!

All in all, this is a very, very good poll for the GOP; if it remains this good to the election, then there is no question that the Republicans will hold both houses -- and may not even lose as many seats as many feared.

But if the current trend continues, and if it lifts the numbers in individual races at the same pace that the generic GOP numbers are rising... then they might not lose any seats at all. In fact, they could even see a net increase... which is exactly what happened in 2002, the last midterm election.

At the moment, Big Lizards does not endorse the rosy scenario; but we do predict that the GOP holds both houses, and I (Dafydd) predict that the losses will be no more than a net 9 seats in the House and 2 seats in the Senate.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 24, 2006, at the time of 5:25 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 23, 2006

Embryonic Stem Cells: Static Analysis Strikes Out Again

Politics - National , Predictions , Science - Good
Hatched by Dafydd

Nobody that I've read or heard has a political objection to adult stem-cell (ASC) research, nor even placental stem-cell (PSC) research; many people have a gigantic objection to embryonic stem-cell (ESC) research -- but the only objection I've seen is that, using traditional stem-cell techniques, a five day old embryo is actually killed to get at the hundred or so stem cells it contains.

But once again, the march of technology has demonstrated that it always has the ability to grab the cards off the table and reshuffle them, even right in the middle of the hand:

In an innovative move, a biotech company has found a new way of making stem cells without destroying embryos, touting it as a way to defuse one of the country's fiercest political and ethical debates.

Some opponents of the research said the method still doesn't satisfy their objections and many stem cell scientists and their supporters called it inefficient and politically wrong-headed.

But a spokeswoman for President Bush, who vetoed legislation last month that would have allowed federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, called it a step in the right direction.

And Robert Lanza, an executive with Advanced Cell Technology, which created the new stem cell lines, said: "This will make it far more difficult to oppose this research."

I do object rather strongly to that last sentence; not because it's not true -- it is -- but because Lanza's clear implication is that opponents of ESC aren't really sincere, they're just looking for some excuse to stop research. But I think Macaca just clumsily worded what he meant to say.

So what are the objections from both sides? They're pretty ludicrous and illogical, and I doubt that either represents more than a tiny fraction of each faction. First, the objection of some of those opposed to ESC:

Meanwhile, hard-line opponents of stem cell science argue that the technique solves nothing, because even the single cell removed by the new approach could theoretically grow into a full-fledged human. Some also object over the possibility the procedure could harm the embryo in an unknown way.

The method "raises more ethical questions than it answers," said Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

(That second objection, that it "raises more ethical questions than it answers," is such a cowardly shuck that I won't even bother responding.)

The idea that a stem cell "could theoretically grow into a full-fledged human" would be equally true for individual adult and placental stem cells; do these same people oppose research on those, too? And theoretically, if the science of human cloning advances, a stray cell in saliva or a drop of blood (which contains leukocytes) "could theoretically grow into a full-fledged human." Should it be against moral law to spit or bleed?

The silliness factor is that individual cells are already removed from embryos for testing purposes, to check for various genetic disorders; it's called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). In fact, that is where the procedure under discussion arose. During any in vitrio fertilization, doctors can extract a single cell from any (or all) of the developing embryos for testing purposes; this is done about 1,000 times a year anyway, to check for fatal genetic conditions.

What Advanced Cell discovered was that if the doctor allows each of the extracted cells to divide once before testing, and then tests only one of the two cells of each pair, the other can be encouraged to grow into a stem-cell line.

None of the developing embryos is harmed, and no extra embryos are created in order to get stem cells.

Note to forestall a possible objection: the mere fact that a cell divides -- that's what all cells do! -- does not mean that it would suddenly turn into an embryo. You skin cells divide, but they never turn into little fetuses hanging off your body like fruit on a tree. The cell that is removed could divide many times, but it would not spontaneously turn into another embryo.

In theory, such testing could also be done on embryos in the womb; I don't know if we can do that today, but if not, we will be able to fairly soon.

At the moment, if doctors find fatal or severe genetic disorders when they test the other cell in the pair (not the one making a stem-cell line), the usual "treatment" is to destroy the embryo; but that is changing, as more and more conditions can be corrected in utero, leading to a healthy baby. And this ability will only increase, as microsurgery and better gene replacement therapies allow us to, e.g., cure Cystic Fibrosis in the womb before the baby is even born... and without killing any babies.

Does that mean that the same people who object to ESC that does not kill the embryo will also object even to removing a single cell from a high-risk embryo to test for the CF gene, simply because in theory, that single cell might, if implanted in a uterus and given certain stimulation, be coaxed into developing into an embryo?

In any event, extracting an embryonic stem-cell line neither increases the number of embryos nor does it make it any more or less likely that a particular embryo, either in utero or in vitrio, will be aborted. Growing an ESC line from those embryos does not appear to affect their fate in any way.

Religious opposition on the grounds that an extracted cell "could theoretically grow into a full-fledged human" is pure insanity, in my opinion. It's like saying that we mustn't perform organ transplants because there's always a faint chance that the donor, if frozen, could be revived and brought back to life in the future.

The Catholic Church has other objections:

Though the new procedure may satisfy the president's objections to stem cell research, it does not meet the ethical standards of the Roman Catholic church, which opposes both PGD and in vitro fertilization.

If the procedure could be done in utero, that would eliminate the Church's objection on the basis of their condemnation of in vitrio fertilization. That leaves only their objection to PGD itself... but that, then, is nothing more than the objection above to testing on the ludicrous grounds that theoretically, the extracted cell -- which is not an embryo -- could be turned into an embryo.

I suspect that the Catholic objection to PGD is entirely because it's normally done in the in vitrio environment, where a bunch of embryos are created in order to implant one or two, with the rest slated for destruction. If PGD were done on a single embryo in utero, and if that embryo were not subsequently aborted, I think the Church's objection to PGD would fall.

But what about the small fringe on the other side? What's their problem with this new technique? Amazingly, it's even stupider than that above:

Some stem cell researchers complain that the new approach, though it may hold future promise, simply isn't as efficient as their current method of creating stem cells. That procedure involves the destruction of embryos after about five days of development, when they consist of about 100 cells....

President Bush has said that he personally opposes any research that sacrifices embryonic life, even to save an existing person. In August 2001 the president limited federal funding to research on a few dozen stem cell lines that had been created up to that point.

Scientists complain that the decree has severely crippled progress in the field. But recent developments have moved them toward their twin goals of attracting non-federal money for stem cell research and overturning the restrictions.

Several states, including California, New Jersey and Illinois, have set up ways to fund the research. A number of Democratic candidates in this year's congressional elections are focusing on the issue.

The research at Advanced Cell Technology subverts those efforts, [Glenn] McGee said. [McGee is director of the Alden March Bioethics Institute in Albany, N.Y.]

In other words, McGee objects to this procedure because, by making it possible to create ESC lines without destroying embryos, it therefore makes it politically harder to get funding to destroy embryos! The only conclusion I can draw is that for Glenn McGee, the most important goal is killing embryos -- not creating stem cell lines.

This imbroglio illustrates something I have been saying for (literally) decades: the single safest prediction you can make is that in a modern, civilized society, the future will be very different from the past.

This was not always true; in the Middle Ages, for example, it was a good bet that the life of an ordinary person, whether prince, peasant, or merchant, would be almost exactly the same in A.D. 600, A.D. 700, and A.D. 800. Oh, his country's allies may change, and the wars might be against different enemies; but his day to day life would be just the same as in his great8-grandfather's time.

Similarly, in many countries today that are not "modern civilized societies," such as Afghanistan, the life of a peon still hasn't changed much. Maybe they use a tractor instead of a bull to pull the plough... but probably not.

Nor is the prediction simply a tautology; we don't simply define a "modern, civilized society" as one in which the future differs from the past. There is certainly a feedback loop; but there are very identifiable differences in thinking long before there are widespread advances in technology: technology may influence thinking, but it was created by the mind of Man -- and that mind had to be a modern, civilized mind before it could create a different future.

The change in worldview comes first.

Ignoring this reality, acting as if the march -- at times, the sprint -- of technology will not affect the "great moral issues" of the day, ignores the fact that no moral quandry is pure... all must exist within the framework of the contemporary "now." Ignoring the advance of technology when prognosticating the future is the ultimate in "static analysis," and it's a prescription for quick humiliation.

Few remember, but it was an enormous moral quandry when Nicholas Copernicus and Galileo Galilei asserted that the Earth revolved around the sun, rather that the other way 'round. In fact, it even shocked the moral senses when Galileo announced that Jupiter had moons... since if some heavenly bodies could orbit something other than the Earth, than any of them could -- including the Earth itself.

The reaction among some theologians was even more hysterical than the reaction to the well-proven theory of evolution by natural selection is today. But within a relatively short period of time, the telescope was ubiquitous... and that meant that any educated person likely knew somebody who had access to a telescope; and each could see for himself that Jupiter did, indeed have moons, and that our own moon did indeed have impact craters, and so forth. Eventually, evidence reached a tipping point where the Church could no longer deny what everyone could see with his own eyes.

The advance of technology rewrote the moral dilemma: rather than insist that believers must reject the Copernican system, theologians were forced instead to integrate the new scientific knowledge into theology (which of course they managed to do without destroying belief). This time, technology threw the game to the scientists, against (some of) the theologians (the Jesuits never had any real objection to Copernicus or Galileo).

The moral quandry of abortion might be blown wide open by a relatively "evolutionary" development: the abillity to transfer an embryo or even fetus from one woman's womb to another with no more inconvenience than an abortion. My buddy Vic Koman wrote presciently about this in his novel Solomon's Knife. If it were just as easy to donate an unwanted fetus to a couple who could not conceive but desperately wanted a child, the entire abortion question would shift on its axis -- because there would no longer be any argument in favor of abortion, except in the most extraordinary cases.

Want the baby out of your body? Fine; it's gone. Oh, wait, you insist that it be killed? Sorry, but once you choose to give it up, you give up all rights to control what happens to it after it leaves your womb. This time, a likely advance in techology will, in the near future, toss the game to the theologians; the big losers will be secular feminists, who really have no other catechism left besides the legality of abortion.

And now, in real time, we're seeing the moral dilemma of embryonic stem cell research being blown wide open by a company that developed a method of extracting ESCs without damaging the underlying embryo. Is it perfect? not yet. So give it a couple of years; perhaps by then, it will be possible to do the procedure in utero. The point remains: whether in 2006 or 2008, the moral objection goes away... due to a technological advance.

We live in a world where a science-fictional mentality is mandatory; "realism" demands it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 23, 2006, at the time of 4:21 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

August 14, 2006

Hezbollah Attacks; "Ceasefire" Crumbling

Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Tonight, with the ink still drying on the "ceasefire" agreement, Hezbollah fired at least ten Katyusha rockets at Israeli forces in Lebanese territory between the Blue Line and the Litani River. This flagrantly violates clause OP1 of the agreement resolution.

Israel responded with a small amount of artillery fire; no Israelis were injured and none of the rockets landed in Israeli territory.

However, it's quite clear that Hezbollah has no intention of abiding by the agreement. As soon as they become brazen enough, that will free Israel from following their own part of the agreement, and they can resume their advance -- the "Mulligan" I spoke of before.

The typically anemic and antisemitic UN, which still tries to maintain a veneer of justice and decency, will be stymied trying to blame Israel for Hezbollah's continuing rocket fire. Whatever they may want to say, they'll pretty much have to hold their official tongues. And even if they do not, the Bush administration will be quite justified, in the eyes of the American people, to say, "well, it didn't work -- terrorist organizations have no honor or honesty and we cannot make agreements with them."

In addition, Hezbollah has already announced that they refuse to disarm or allow themselves to be disarmed, which violates clauses OP3, OP8, and OP10.

This is precisely as Big Lizards predicted:

Here is my take: there is no way that Hezbollah can hold its water even long enough for Lebanese and UNIFIL forces to take Israel's place. They will either reject the proposal outright, or more likely accept it -- but with no intention of actually obeying it.

[Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hezbollah] will be overconfident that the UN has his back; he will think that he can resume shooting missiles at Israel before the ink even dries on the agreement, and that Israel will be stymied by UNIFIL and prevented from responding in kind....

But [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert will want to hang on as long as he can, because he's obviously finished in Likud, even when Kadima evaporates. So he will almost certainly be looking for a solid reason to declare the ceasefire broken and restart the offensive... but this time with the vigor and the ground forces it really needs, rather than trying to do it by airstrikes alone -- which everybody now agrees was a miserable failure.

Well, as to that last part, we'll see; I still believe that Israel will be forced to restart the offensive -- but this time not quite so inoffensively. Here is the "promised land" I predicted in that last post:

So sometime in the next year or so, Israel will be back in Lebanon (possibly under a new prime minister); and this time, there will be no ceasefire. They will finish off Hezbollah as an effective military or terrorist organization in that country. And without either the Syrian Army or Hezbollah, the Syrian intelligence officers will quickly head back home, just ahead of the mobs of angry northern Lebanese with torches and pitchforks.

During that time, Iran will only be able to partially resupply Hezbollah; but when Israel attacks next time, they will no longer rely exclusively on bombs and missiles: next time, the IDF generals get their licks from the git-go. And that is the moment we're waiting for.

I'm not so sanguine about that part... not after watching the fecklessness with which Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz "fought' the war so far. But I have not given up hope (unlike Nancy-boy Jed Babbin), and we'll see how far Hezbollah goes and at what point Israel declares them in violation and repudiates the UN-brokered agreement.

At some point, perhaps Olmert and Peretz will each grow a spine. Stranger things have happened!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 14, 2006, at the time of 11:34 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

August 11, 2006

Hey, Mulligan Man!

Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

I was going to blog on the American-French ceasefire agreement offered for the Israel-Hezbollah war, but Captain Ed beat me to it; he is nothing if not prolific! In any event, I would have said more or less what he says here:

Everything hinges on Nasrallah. If he accepts the terms and allows Siniora to dislodge them from southern Lebanon, Hezbollah is finished regardless of their public claims. Their raison d'etre is the defense of the southern border against Israel -- and if the Lebanese Army takes that responsibility, then their militia serves no purpose in the middle of Lebanon. If Nasrallah balks, then Israel will have a green light and a wide window to finish the job, and they will have lost very little in the hours it will take for the gambit to play to its conclusion.

But allow me to go over this a little more thoroughly and show why Ed and I are right, and the boys at Power Line are wrong, wrong, wrong.

First, here is a summary of the main points of the agreement:

  • Israel is not required to withdraw immediately; instead, Israel will withdraw "in parallel" with the deployment of the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL (the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon)... which I believe means that as brigades of LANDFILL, er, UNIFIL and the Lebanese deploy, corresponding units of the IDF withdraw.

    That means there will be no moment when Israel is gone and there is no international or Lebanese force present, allowing Hezbollah simply to sneak back to where they were before.

  • Israel is not required to cease all military operations, just all offensive military operations; this is in contrast to Hezbollah, which is required to cease "all attacks." That means that if Hezbollah attacks Israel and the latter responds with military force, Hezbollah is in breach of the agreement -- but Israel is not.

    Thus, Israel can legally, under this agreement, remain in situ as the replacement forces deploy, and they can continue attacking rocket launchers and terrorist units that launch attacks either against the IDF invasion force or against Israel itself. Far from protecting Hezbollah from the consequences of its own actions, as Hassan Nasrallah, the jerky-looking head of Hezbollah, demanded and expected, this agreement actually gives legal backing to Israel to defend itself from attack.

  • Requires all Hezbollah personnel immediately to move north of the Litani River -- or if they stay, to be disarmed. If they do not, then Lebanon as well as Hezbollah is in breach, and Israel can return to its postponed offensive.
  • Requires full eventual implementation of UNSC resolutions, including 1559, requiring complete disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon except for the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL.

    Of course, this was already requred (by UN resolution, duh), and it wasn't happening; so this probably is a pie-crust promise ("easily made, easily broken"). However, this demand now has teeth, because if it's broken, then the cease-fire is rendered null and void; and, as before, Israel can always return -- preferably with a much better managed offensive that time.

  • Expands the rules of engagement for UNIFIL to allow it to take aggressive military actions against Hezbollah, if they fail to leave or to disarm:

    Acting in support of a request from the government of Lebanon to deploy an international force to assist it to exercise its authority throughout the territory, authorizes UNIFIL to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind, to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security Council, and to protect United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel, humanitarian workers, and, without prejudice to the responsibility of the government of Lebanon, to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.

This is hardly perfect; but neither has been Israel's "offensive," which so far is about the most inoffensive offensive I think I've ever seen.

Here is my take: there is no way that Hezbollah can hold its water even long enough for Lebanese and UNIFIL forces to take Israel's place. They will either reject the proposal outright, or more likely accept it -- but with no intention of actually obeying it.

Nasrallah will be overconfident that the UN has his back; he will think that he can resume shooting missiles at Israel before the ink even dries on the agreement, and that Israel will be stymied by UNIFIL and prevented from responding in kind. Arabs typically make straight-line projections, and they're utterly asea if anything changes. Recall that Nasrallah himself said he was stunned by Israel's aggressive response to a few murders and kidnappings; the response was all out of character, and he was outraged.

And he would be right, except that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is sitting atop a powderkeg, and he knows it.

Israelis are seething at the government, which they see as having given them the worst of both worlds, Likud and Labor: they swore that they would destroy Hezbollah, riling up the entire world against Israel... and then didn't really even try to do so, thus turning the Israeli Defense Force into a laughingstock.

I predict that the Kadima government under Olmert will collapse within four months of this ceasefire agreement, no matter how it comes out; at least, clear signs will be readily visible that they're on their way out. There will be new elections, and most of Kadima's vote will just split between Likud and Labor, with a strong edge to the party that is serious about national defense. Kadima-niks will drift back to their parties of origin, and Israel's flirtation with a third major party (as opposed to the raft of tiny parties) will be abandoned -- and not a minute too soon.

After all, Kadima was Ariel Sharon, and he was Kadima; it will not survive him.

But Olmert will want to hang on as long as he can, because he's obviously finished in Likud, even when Kadima evaporates. So he will almost certainly be looking for a solid reason to declare the ceasefire broken and restart the offensive... but this time with the vigor and the ground forces it really needs, rather than trying to do it by airstrikes alone -- which everybody now agrees was a miserable failure.

So sometime in the next year or so, Israel will be back in Lebanon (possibly under a new prime minister); and this time, there will be no ceasefire. They will finish off Hezbollah as an effective military or terrorist organization in that country. And without either the Syrian Army or Hezbollah, the Syrian intelligence officers will quickly head back home, just ahead of the mobs of angry northern Lebanese with torches and pitchforks.

During that time, Iran will only be able to partially resupply Hezbollah; but when Israel attacks next time, they will no longer rely exclusively on bombs and missiles: next time, the IDF generals get their licks from the git-go. And that is the moment we're waiting for.

In other words, this ceasefire agreement is a "Mulligan," allowing Israel to restart the war somewhat later, with a still-weakened Hezbollah and with a much better military campaign planned. It's their chance finally to do what they should have done in the first place: treat this war as a real war, not as a spanking.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 11, 2006, at the time of 9:07 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

June 27, 2006

Hamas Is That Doggie In the Crosshairs?

Palestinian Perils and Pratfalls , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

So it appears that Israel is about to invade Gaza... and there is also a chance -- if the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade carries through on its threat -- that Israel will launch a nuclear strike as well. So what else is new this week?

Er... could you repeat that last bit, Dafydd? Something about a nuclear -- what?

Don't worry; it's only a fairly small chance.

From the Reuters story:

Israel rejected a demand by Palestinian militants to release Palestinian women and youths in its prisons in return for information on an abducted Israeli soldier and threatened a punishing offensive in the Gaza Strip....

Izz el-Deen al-Qassam, the governing Hamas movement's armed wing, along with the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) and the Islamic Army, said Israel would not get information about the soldier unless it freed all jailed Palestinian women and youths....

"The time is approaching for a comprehensive, sharp and severe Israeli operation. We will not wait forever," [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert] said. "We will not become a target of Hamas-terrorist blackmail."

The pistol is loaded and pointed at the Palestinian Authority's head.

Israel has not announced any imminent nuclear attacks, of course; and they would not, for there is no advantage served by making such a threat. You either do it or you don't.

But it's well understood that if the Palestinians attack Israel with chemical or biological weapons, and the attack is successful at killing a number of Israelis, then Israel will respond with WMD of its own. And since it doesn't truck with chemical or bacteriological weaponry, the reality is that it would, in that circumstance, break out the "temple weapons."

But would any group actually be fool enough to threaten CBW against Israel? Funny you should mention that...

The Australian speaks:

In a leaflet released in Gaza, the [al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades] said: "With the help of Allah, we are pleased to say that we succeeded in developing over 20 different types of biological and chemical weapons, this after a three-year effort.

"We say to (Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert and (Defence Minister Amir) Peretz: 'Your threats of invasion do not frighten us. We will surprise you with new weapons you have not faced until now. As soon as an IDF soldier sets foot on Gazan land, we will respond with a new weapon."'

The hammer is cocked; will Hamas squeeze the trigger?

As Reuters put it, the clock is ticking for Hamas if they don't move very quickly to spring the Israeli soldier who was kidnapped Sunday. There are several ways this could end:

  • Hamas could locate the soldier and force the groups who captured him -- the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades, the Popular Resistance Committees, and the Army of Islam -- to release him unharmed. Not very likely.
  • Hamas could remain hardline about it, forcing Israel to invade wide and deep. Plausible, with two subplots:
    • Fatah may actually have chemical and biological weapons... and they may decide to use them against the Israelis. Unlikely, by my guess, since the response would wipe Fatah and Hamas both from the map;
    • Fatah may be lying about having WMD, or they may have them but choose not to use them. This is the most likely scenario, and it results in a major Israeli offensive against the PA... with predictably devastating results -- but no nuclear war.

Quite some time ago, in Captain's Quarters and elsewhere, I argued the case in favor of the Israeli pullout from Gaza and the West Bank (for example, in Crystal Gaza).

I agreed with those who opposed the pull-out, notably Paul Mirengoff of Power Line, that this would lead to Hamas taking over the Palestinian Authority and likely to a major terrorist offensive against Israel. But I parted company on what would happen next, arguing that this would liberate, not bind, the Israeli response to any such attacks:

But opponents of the pullout never seem to ask the next question: so Gaza is taken over by Hamas, which launches an attack on Israel... and then what happens?

What happens, I predict, is that Israel -- which would no longer have to fear mass murder of the settler-hostages in enemy territory -- will respond to Hamas as they responded to all cross-national attacks on Israel, most particularly in 1948, 1967, and 1973: with a full military response from the IDF, including air support, which they have rarely used in the territories since capturing them during the Six-Day War (after Gaza and the West Bank were used as staging areas for an Arab invasion of Israel).

Right now, Israel's hands are tied in the occupied territories. Israel is an occupying nation, so it cannot go all-out in combat within the territories without violating the rules of civilized warfare. Because Israel is in fact a civilized, Western country, it takes those rules seriously, even when the enemy does not. This is immensely frustrating, of course, since the Palestinian terrorists don't even recognize the existence of any sort of rules of warfare, civilized or otherwise; they have no restraint upon their behavior whatsoever.

But once Israel pulls out of both Gaza and the West Bank, "Palestine" becomes an independent nation in both law and fact (the first time an independent nation of Palestine has ever existed there, I believe). And that lifts the restraints on the IDF -- because even France and Russia would be hard-pressed to find a reason why Israel wouldn't be allowed to defend itself from attack by another independent nation.

I even enunciated a test by which we could see whether my vision of the future was correct -- that the pull-out will free Israel's hands -- or rather that of the naysayers, that it would result in devastating attacks on Israel that go largely unanswered by the Jewish state:

Here is what to look for to see if my prediction is coming true: once Israel pulls out, a major attempted attack by some terrorist group or groups is inevitable. Because of the security fence (the "wall"), that attack will probably be in the form of rockets, mortars, or artillery fired over the wall. If Israel responds with aerial bombing of significant targets within Gaza and the West Bank, that will tell us that the days of pussyfooting have passed. The Palestinian Arabs will wake up to a new reality, one in which Israel no longer pulls punches in response to mindless Arab terror. I absolutely believe this will create a much better situation than what we have now, with international terrorist groups having significantly less ability to launch attacks on Israel (or on us) from the Palestinian territory than they enjoy today.

But if Israel's only response is a targeted assassination of some Hamas official and a strongly worded letter of protest to Failed Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas... well, then Israel would have surprised and saddened me.

So far, at least, it has all shaken out just as I suspected it would; but we have not yet come to the divergence between me and those who opposed the withdrawal from Gaza and the West Bank. That will likely come very soon now... that is, if the Palestinians don't cave and give up the soldier -- and if the Israelis don't cave and stand down their army without getting their soldier back.

Everything comes to a head very soon now: as "Larry Sanders" used to say, no flipping!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 27, 2006, at the time of 4:02 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 14, 2006

Look Into My Eyes - You Are Edging Closer, Closer (Cal-50)

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

When the runoff election for California's 50th district (the Duke Cunningham seat) ended on June 6th, Republican Brian Bilbray was ahead of Democrat Francine Busby by a small margin; that margin has grown with every passing day as more and more absentee and provisional ballots are counted.

Here is a handy chart of the progress; the final row is my back of the thumbnail projection of the final count:

Caption here
Date Brian Bilbray R Francine Busby D R Lead Ballots left
June 6th 49.33% 45.46% 3.87% 68,500
June 11th 49.51% 45.15% 4.36% 35,455
June 13th 49.61% 45.00% 4.61% 12,500
TBD - Proj. 49.72% 44.97% 4.75% 0

The last row is actually the mean average of my estimate of the likely low- and high-end estimates. I reckon that Brian Bilbray will finally end up with between 49.65% and 49.79%, with the gap between himself and Francine Busby ranging from a low of 4.7% to a high of 4.8% (this is all approximately, of course).

Before the election, I predicted that Bilbray would win by 5%, and that we would know the winner on election night. I also certainly expected that Bilbray would win a majority. I missed those predictions, but by such slight margins that I'm going to call it a hit... it's not a bar bet, after all, and being off by a mere 0.25% is close enough for the blogosphere!

Our previous posts about this election were:

  1. Predictions: Cal 50th
  2. Cal-50: Addendum
  3. Cal-50th Special Election: Edging Closer...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 14, 2006, at the time of 4:14 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 11, 2006

Cal-50th Special Election: Edging Closer...

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Just a quick update: the County of San Diego Registrar of Voters is still counting those absentee and provisional ballots in the 50th district of California, Randy "Duke" Cunningham's old stomping ground (his new stomping ground is the prison yard).

When last we left our intrepid Registrar, there were 68,500 absentees and provisionals left to count; now there are but 35,455. Before, here was the tally:

Although it's likely that Brian Bilbray will fail to reach either 50% (which I anticipated he would) or a 5% margin over Francine Busby (which I actually predicted) -- with 100% of the precincts reporting, the semi-official tall stands at 49.33% for Bilbray, 45.46% for Busby -- we still can't close this one out just yet.

Today, it stands at 49.51% for Brian Bilbray, and 45.15% for Francine Busby. Bilbray now leads by 4.36%, and he is only 0.50% away from an outright majority.

Still a bunch to go, and of course the tally could swing either way (like Madonna). Stay tuned: same lizard time, same lizard blog....

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 11, 2006, at the time of 3:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 7, 2006

A Bird In the Bush Ain't Worth Much

Elections , Kriminal Konspiracies , Politics - California , Politics - National , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

It's looking more and more like Brian Bilbray won the critical California 50th district race to succeed former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who currently resides in prison. But it's not yet clear whether the second half of my prediction will come true; at the moment, with 96% counted, Bilbray leads by only 4.2%, not 5%... but it wouldn't take much to add an extra 0.8%, so we'll have to wait a day or two to see whether I get a full point or only a half.

But a win is a win, in any case.

However, this retention shines a big, bright light on the Democrats' dilemma: their strategy for taking back the House relies upon winning a bunch of races -- many of which just don't look at all likely to fall to them. They must win virtually every open seat, and they must wrest a number of seats away from Republican incumbents... one more, now that the Cunningham seat will remain with the GOP up through the election.

The main unifying theme of the Democrats this year has been the Republican Kulture of Korruption; but if it's going to work anywhere, it would have to be either in Cal-50 or in Tex-22 (Tom DeLay's erstwhile seat). The Democrats just lost Cal-50 when it was open; I don't think they're likely to win it in November, when Bilbray will be the incumbent. (In fact, he'll probably do better... the power of name recognition, which works even for former congressmen being re-elected in a different district).

And as far as the Texas seat goes, the biggest boon that Democratic candidate Nick Lampson had going for him was that he was running against the indicted Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX, 88%).

But now he's not; DeLay is resigning from Congress this Friday, and presumably his brief replacement in the 109th Congress will be chosen by a special election (open, anyone can run). Thereafter, the Republican parties in the four counties that have voters in the 22nd district (Fort Bend, Harris, Galveston, and Brazoria) will select a nominee to replace DeLay on the ballot for the 110th Congress.

But with DeLay himself, the lightning rod, gone from the scene, it's very likely that Tex-22 will stay in Republican hands in both the special and the general elections.

So where does that leave the Democrats? They staked everything on winning Cal-50 and Tex-22, and it looks pretty unlikely that they'll win either one. There is only one other Republican congressman who is in serious legal jeopardy: Bob Ney of Ohio (88%). And Ney is very unlikely to be indicted before November, if he is at all.

So far, all that the Democrats have against him is rumor and inuendo, and that's nothing like indictment (as in DeLay's case), and certainly nothing like conviction and la calabooza, as with Cunningham. If the Democrats can't make the Kulture of Korruption theme work in those two cases, I'm very skeptical they can make it work for a smoke-but-no-fire-yet representative like Ney.

When all is said and done, I doubt that this election is going to turn on charges of Republican corruption -- especially with the various Democrats who have suddenly found themselves on the wrong end of the law. I believe it will turn on other issues: policy issues, such as immigration, taxes, and the Iraq war.

It's still possible for the Democrats to take the House back; but they will need to have a real campaign after all. Yet so far, they haven't even made the effort to come up with an agenda, let alone a "Contract With America."

And perhaps even more important here in California, the "Meathead" Amendment, Proposition 82 -- taxing the rich to pay for "free" preschool for all California kids, pushed onto the ballot by Rob "Meathead" Reiner -- went down in flames. Go, team!

This is the ballot proposition where Reiner was caught red-handed (shouldn't that be blue-handed?) funneling at least $23 million of taxpayer money into an ad campaign for his pet Proposition 82; so at least in this case, crime did not pay.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 7, 2006, at the time of 4:04 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

June 6, 2006

Predictions: Cal 50th

Elections , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

CORRECTION: Slight change to the wording of the Busby quotation; see note below.

Every so often, when the Great Spirit moves me, I feel compelled to eructate a prediction... typically for an election.

I have a pretty good track record: over the past fifteen years or so, I've been right about 2/3rds of the time (and, naturally, wrong the other 1/3rd). But at least I'm willing to get right out there and make a concrete prediction, let it all hang out, live or die by the actual votes. I don't weasel around, like many "pundants" (Bushism alert!); and I don't belong to the League of the Perpetually Dour and Dispeptic (so long as I take my Nexium), and make only predictions of gloom and doom... like, say, Larry Sabato. (Didn't he pick the Kaiser in the World War I?)

California's 50th district is the former seat of Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Alcatraz); with that scandal looming over the GOP's head, you'd think the Democratic nominee, Francine Busby, would be a shoe-horn. But her Republican opponent, former Rep. Brian Bilbray, who won the nomination in an April 11th free-for-all, has been surging -- primarily due to his staunch anti-illegal immigration stance. He was certainly propelled forward by Busby's boneheaded gaffe a few days ago, when she answered a question at a fundraiser from an admitted illegal alien that sure as shootin' seemed to suggest that "you don't need papers for voting."

(By "suggest," what I mean is those are literally the words she used, where "papers" means citizenship papers. A very strong suggestion, I reckon.)

NOTE: This is a slight correction from what I originally wrote. Some (Busby included) are now suggesting that she was only trying to say that one needn't be a "registered voter" in order to work on a campaign -- which is true.

But that simply doesn't wash. Her statement was in response to a question from a man who identified himself as an illegal alien. Here is the exchange:

Busby said she was invited to the forum at the Jocelyn Senior Center in Escondido by the leader of a local soccer league. Many of the 50 or so people there were Spanish speakers. Toward the end, a man in the audience asked in Spanish: “I want to help, but I don't have papers.”

It was translated and Busby replied: “Everybody can help, yeah, absolutely, you can all help. You don't need papers for voting, you don't need to be a registered voter to help.”

Here in California -- I don't know about elsewhere -- if an immigrant says "I don't have papers," he means "I am here illegally." It doesn't mean he simply isn't a citizen yet, and it certainly doesn't merely mean he's not registered to vote. "Papers" means a green card, a work visa, or some other visa allowing him to be here legally. And Francine Busby is no idiot; she is an experienced campaigner in a border district, and she knows exactly what that means.

"You don't need papers for voting" doesn't mean "you don't have to be a legally registered voter in order to work on my campaign;" I do not believe she was repeating herself; she was saying two different things. That's how the questioner would take it; that's how the audience would take it; that's how Californios will take it.

Californians all know (because it's discussed endlessly) that under California law, people working at polling places are forbidden from checking into the citizenship (or even the identity) of voters: you don't need to prove you are a U.S. citizen to vote here, and some politicians (the Sanchez sisters, e.g.) have been elected by what surely appears to have been votes by non-citizens.

It's barely possible that Busby is simply clueless. But to Californians, "you don't need papers for voting" said in response to an immigrant who just confessed "I don't have papers" means one and only one thing: go ahead and vote -- nobody is going to check. Just bring in somebody's sample ballot, possibly swiped from a mailbox in your apartment building; and be sure to vote early... so when the real citizen comes to vote after work, they won't let him, because he has "already voted."

The polls say this race is neck and neck; but not to keep you on tenderloins, I'll just out myself as predicting that not only the Republican, Bilbray, win the race -- I believe he will do it by 5% or more.


  1. Because Bilbray has all the "mo'."

He has been surging forward, while Busby has been on the defensive and falling back in the polls. She originally had a big lead, double digits, over Bilbray. Here's lefty website MyDD back in January:

In head-to-head match ups, Busby leads all six potential Republican candidates by up to 14%. In addition to voters' disgust with Cunningham and the Republicans, it's quite likely that Busby's name recognition in the district is giving her a leg up.

The Dems gleefully slid this district into the "D" column as soon as the "Dukester" case heated up, and they have been banking on it ever since.

  1. Because I believe there is an entrenched bias in the polls that slightly favors Democrats... so a slight Bilbray lead of 47-45, as Survey USA has it, is actually more likely a 49-43 lead for Bilbray.

We blogged on this race back during the first round of voting in April, and we noted at that time that if you added up all the Republican votes in that contest, they topped 53%. (We have a really cool chart there of the complete round-1 results; go take a look.) The results of the first-round voting, by party, from our previous post:

  • Libertarian: 0.60%

  • Independent: 0.82%
  • Democrat: 45.24%
  • Republican: 53.33%

And we concluded, taking this case as a bellwether for the November elections:

The runoff will be between Francine Busby (D) and Brian Bilbray (R), the two top vote getters; if the Republicans rally behind Bilbray, the seat is easily held.

If the Democrats cannot collectively get to 50% -- or at least hold the Republicans below 50% -- in a district that is so stacked in their favor as this one is... they will have a long, uphill battle ahead of them to capture Congress.

We stand by that bold claim. Here are our final predictions:

  1. We will know the results by late Tuesday night (PDT);
  2. Bilbray will win;
  3. Bilbray will top Busby by at least 5%;
  4. The Democrats will claim that Cal-50 wasn't a harbinger after all, and that everybody knew all along that the Republican would win... despite the fact that the Democrats have been counting this unhatched chicken for months now.

Fingers crossed, and here we go...!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 6, 2006, at the time of 12:16 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

February 19, 2006

Michael Morales Dead Pool

Crime and Punishment , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Well not really; I just wanted to make people jump up and say "what the heck?"

But I am curious: gentle readers, Mr. Morales is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday the 21st, I believe, for the brutal rape and beating-to-death of Teri Winchell, who was only a high-school girl. A federal judge appears to be leaning towards issuing a stay of execution, but he hasn't finally decided yet.

What do you think the odds are that Morales will actually be executed on the 21st, as opposed to receiving a stay?

No "dead pool;" just let me know your predictions, and we'll see how it goes. My own prediction is that he will receive a stay, but it will be vacated by the circus court, and he'll be executed later in the week.

(This is a low-confidence prediction, because it all depends upon the decision of one man; my prediction that Hillary will not be the Democratic nominee is a high-confidence prediction, because I base it on the whole arc of the Democratic Party's evolution the past few years.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 19, 2006, at the time of 6:18 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

February 2, 2006

From First to Last - UPDATED

Congressional Calamities , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd


There's an election to be held today among the Republican caucus in the House for the majority leader position, which was reluctantly relinquished by Tom DeLay while he fights the bogus indictment of obsessed D.A. Ronnie "Javert" Earle. Denny Hastert will remain speaker of the House, but all the other posts are theoretically up for grabs (in reality, if what I think will happen happens, then only the majority leadership will change).

Majority leader is the number two of the House (no jokes, please; they're all too true to be funny). Next down is majority whip -- which is the position currently held by the frontrunner in today's election, Roy Blunt (R-MO). As Jon Henke in Q&O puts it,

The current front-runner is Rep. Roy Blunt, who claims to be confident that he has the votes to win the position – though not, apparently, confident enough to give up his role as Majority Whip. His ascension seemed almost a fait accompli until January 19th, when all three candidates participated in conference calls with bloggers. While Blunt’s opponents, [John] Shadegg [R-AZ] and [John] Boehner [R-OH], were fairly well received by the bloggers, Roy Blunt was, to put it mildly, not. After the call, a virtually unanimous right side of the blogosphere rushed to ask why Tom DeLay was being replaced by what appeared to be an exact duplicate: a status quo Beltway Republican, the “House GOP's key liaison” to the “K Street Committee”, and owner of more than a few connections to the politically radioactive Jack Abramoff.

Here's my speculation. I don't really know how the leadership races work; but assuming they're somewhat like delegates voting at a nominating convention, then even the representatives that Blunt has in his pocket have probably only committed to him for the first ballot. As I understand it, if nobody gets 50% + 1 on the first, there will be others... and pledged support can peel off and vote for whom it wants. (I think it's a secret ballot.)

Blunt has repeatedly said he has the votes to win on the first ballot, but so far nowhere near enough representatives have come forward to publicly declare their support. My prediction is that if Blunt misses out on the first ballot -- then his support will evaporate like rain in the Sahara Desert. I suspect that most of it will go, not to the forgotten man (John Boehner), but rather to the political Energizer bunny, Shadegg.

So either Blunt wins on the first ballot -- which I doubt -- or else Shadegg wins on the second or third.

The only fly in the oatmeal would the Gore Vidal scenario: if Blunt fails to win but is desperate not to have to work under a "reformer" who might fiddle with the whole K-Street setup, he might try to get his backers to go for Boehner instead, just to shut Shadegg out. I think Blunt could work under Boehner with a lot more comfort than he could under Shadegg. But I don't think he'll be able to wield that much influence with people peeling away from him like the skin from a squirted grape.

So I'm sticking with my original prediction: Shadegg in two or three.

It'll all be over in just a few hours, and I'll find out right quick how close I came. But on this one, I'm no Nathan Detroit... I'm not confident enough to put a bet on!

UPDATE: Results

Kimsch in the comments has the results:

122-109 Boehner in the second vote. Shadegg got about 40 votes in the first round. He dropped out.

AP has the breakdown of the first ballot as well:

Blunt's position in leadership had made him the front-runner, but he ended seven votes short of the necessary majority on a first-round secret ballot. He had 110 votes and Boehner had 79. Shadegg received 40 and Rep. Jim Ryun of Kansas, who was not an announced candidate, got two votes.

After Shadegg and Ryun dropped out, Boehner won his second-ballot victory.

My prediction failed because of something I didn't know, a factor that made the vote function differently from the model I had in mind, the nominating convention. The other commenter on this post, Slarrow, was probably correct:

I could be wrong, but if there is no clear victor on the first ballot, doesn't the second round proceed with the top two vote-getters?

So Blunt was able to get 110 votes of people who were committed (for whatever reason) to the status quo. The real battle was for second place, as only those two would be on the second ballot. It's possible that a number of Republicans were uncomfortable with Blunt, because of his K-Street and Abramoff connections... but they may have thought that Boehner had a better chance to defeat Blunt on the head to head ballot than the lesser known Shadegg.

Suppose, however, Shadegg also had remained in the race. If then, on ballot two, Blunt had again gotten 110-109, it's possible that Shadegg could have matched or exceeded Boehner's vote. At that point, they would have moved to a third ballot -- and Shadegg would have momentum.

But since Shadegg's third-place finish kept him from a rematch for second place with Boehner, that mechanism, where the last place guy works his way up to first, was prevented from functioning... and John Boehner is now the majority leader.

So it goes!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 2, 2006, at the time of 6:42 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 27, 2006

Predictions, Predilections

Palestinian Perils and Pratfalls , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Very quick predictions. No long explanations.

  1. Hamas will discover that having a thing is not so fine after all as wanting a thing. They are woefully unprepared actually to run a country -- or even the pseudo-kleptocracy of the Palestinian Authority -- and the PA will fairly quickly collapse into chaos... civil war between Hamas and Fatah, or worse: the Hobbesian war of all against all. The government will formally fall.
  2. The Palestinian economy will shatter.
  3. After a bloody few months, out of sheer necessity, a third party will arise, a professional political class. They will likely be ideologically fairly neutral -- sort of a Palestinian version of Kadima, call it Padima -- whose sole platform will be competence at the actual mechanics of governance.
  4. New elections will be called, and Padima will win a sweeping victory over both Hamas and Fatah.
  5. Hamas and Fatah will fade into complete political irrelevance, though they will still have armed factions (they'll end like Muqtada Sadr and his Mighty al-Mahdi Army).
  6. Padima will have significant success at restarting the economy; all it will take will be an infusion of a bit of real Capitalism, rather than Arafatist corruption and Hamasian Islamism.
  7. Eventually, one or two more real parties will split out from Padima, the way parties split out of the Federalists in the early 1800s here. These parties will be pragmatic politicians with somewhat differing ideologies... but the ideological differences will be akin to those between Likud and Labor, or the Conservatives and the Liberals, rather than murderous warfar as between Fatah, Hamas, Hezbollah, PIJ, and the PFLP. Then and only then will Palestine become an actual functioning democrazy.

I expect this process to take some time, but we will all live to see it. (Except those of you who choose to die abruptly in the next few years. But I can't help that!)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 27, 2006, at the time of 6:46 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 26, 2006

On Those Dadburned Elections In Arafatistan

Israel Matters , Palestinian Perils and Pratfalls , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

As long-term Lizardites know, although I'm a big fan of Netanyahu, I completely support the Sharon plan of disengagement from the Palestinians by withdrawing settlements from Gaza and the West Bank.

The typical argument people make supporting the position of the incapacitated Ariel Sharon and his uncertain party Kadima is that by withdrawing from the occupied territories, the Palestinians will be mollified by the gesture and will reciprocate with peace and love and brotherhood. In fact, I utterly reject this argument -- I support the policy for other reasons discussed below -- and I have dismissed this wishful thinking ever since I first discussed the situation in Crystal Gaza on Captain's Quarters, back in August, 2005.

With Hamas's landslide victory yesterday in the Palestinian elections, my prediction -- that following withdrawal, Israel will have a freer hand for military response -- may finally be tested. In fact, the victory of Hamas is more complete than the victory of Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party Canada... Hamas won an absolute majority in the Palestinian parliament and will completely control the Palestinan Authority. As they insist they will maintain the party plank to destroy Israel, and they will not disband the military wing of Hamas, they have one of two choices:

  • They can be hypocrites, calling for Israel's destruction but steadfastly refusing to do anything that Israel could take as casus belli; or,
  • They can be honest, launch an attack on Israel, and be utterly crushed in the ensuing debacle.

Note that Mahmoud Abbas remains the elected president of the PA, having been separately elected last January, and will presumably remain so until the expiration of his term, whenever that is. (History is encouraging for Abbas, as the previous president's term in office appeared to be eternal... at least he himself met his own expiry date.) Abbas does become largely powerless and irrelevant with this election, and he might resign. Who knows?

I'm not surprised by this result; I was actually quite startled yesterday, when all the newsies were claiming that Fatah had won a narrow victory over Hamas, as that seemed highly unlikely. Today's clarification makes far more sense than yesterday's equivocation. In fact, my theory of the Middle East is better served by a Hamas victory in this election than the continued charade of the "peace process."

The existence of an alleged "road map to peace" (President Bush's biggest foreign-policy blind spot) drove the Israelis into continued negotiation and interaction with the Palestinian Arabs (nearly all Moslem). Because the Palestinians have the equivalent of a psychic allergy to Jews, blaming them for everything that has gone wrong in their lives and history, the continued forced intimacy of negotiations, checkpoints, patrols, and settlers kept the Palestinians in a state of continual hysteria and incipient panic. Imagine if Republicans exuded a pheromone that automatically tripled the level of adrenaline in nearly every Democrat they met, causing a perpetual anxiety attack. (Oh, wait -- we don't need to imagine that.)

In such a case, the only possible solution is complete and total disengagement: the Israeli settlers should remove themselves from the occupied territories -- and the Democrats should remove themselves from the United States (I would suggest Madagascar, but it may sound a bit too much like "NASCAR" for their comfort.) So disengagement in the Middle East serves a double purpose: it removes the Jews from the sight of panicked, irrational Arab Moslems, and it also clears the decks for a massive Israeli response in the event of an attack... which is actually very likely now.

I don't know Dennis Prager's reaction to this vote, but I would suspect he at least appreciates the "clarity" (his favorite word), and that is my position, too. Fatah was every bit as terrorist as Hamas in its means and every bit as genocidal in its goals; it simply wore a mask of humanity, pretending to support freedom, liberty, and tolerance. Hamas is more open but otherwise indistinguishable from Fatah.

...Except in one other particular: because of their openness, Hamas may well be driven by the excess of its own rhetoric to formally declare war on Israel, or else to launch a naked attack across the border -- not simply sponsoring suicidal murderers in Netanya or Tel Aviv, but actual masses of Hamas militants charging into Israel, à la 1948, 1967, and 1973. At which point, the legitimate purpose behind disengagement will be manifest: without thousands of hostages behind enemy lines, Israel will be able to respond as any sovereign nation would to invasion from another, without let or hinderance.

If Hamas has a sudden "road to Damascus" conversion and decides it loves life more than it hates the Jews, wonderful. But if they follow true to form, follow the will of the Palestinian people -- a "will" they have put there themselves through relentless propaganda -- and believe their own PR about Allah drawing his sword and fighting alongside the Hamas warriors to exterminate the Jews (in revenge for the Jews being the first to reject Mohammed as the final prophet), they will actually launch a war... and Israel will swiftly and convincingly pound them into little bits.

If the mullahs of Teheran are mad enough to join with them, they too will be defeated... and this would also give unassailable cover for Israel and the United States jointly to strike at Iran's nuclear power facilities and at the mullahs themselves.

Then -- and possibly only then, alas -- will real peace become possible... at least for ten or twelve years. Until the madness once again strikes the Palestinians, and we must go through the whole belly-dance of a "peace process," followed by a war process, followed by another temporary peace.

Wilhelm Reich famously dissected the Mass Psychology of Fascism; I wonder if he ever considered the Mass Bipolar Disorder of the Moslems?

Regardless, as Sachi often says, the absence of open war is not the same as peace. And sometimes, you just have to roll the dice.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 26, 2006, at the time of 2:24 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 24, 2006

Hillary Will Never Be the Presidential Nominee

Elections , Politics - National , Predictions , Scaley Classics
Hatched by Dafydd

...Not in 2008, not ever.

[Special: note that my emphasis has changed; the main argument here is that Hillary won't be nominated because she is not particularly electable, due to her baggage, her position as a senator, and because she cannot rally the leftist base. Today, I emphasis the base part: she is not likely to be nominated even more directly because the base has steadily soured on her and the "co-presidency" with her husband.

[Everything here is still operative: Democrats have actually come to believe that progressives are more electable these days than moderates. But today, I would reverse the priority order, putting her conflict with the leftist base first.

[Without further comment, here we go, reposted from July 11, 2005, on Captain's Quarters. -- The Mgt.]

I absolutely believe, conventional wisdom notwithstanding, that Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham will never be the Democratic nominee for president. (She might not even be a candidate, if she thinks she's going to lose; but her ego may compel her to try, just as John Kerry's did.)

The reason is fairly simple: because she simply cannot win election, and she will be tainted by the Kerry Kurse. Bluntly put, senators are simply not elected president unless they have achieved a position closer to the idea of a chief executive of the country... such as a governorship or the vice presidency.

There have been only two exceptions since 1900: Warren Harding, and of course, John F. Kennedy. And at least in the case of the latter, the election was razor-thin, even against Richard Nixon, a man who was violently hated by half the country even as early as 1960 (due to his work on the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities and to his outing of Helen Gahagan Douglas as a Red). Harding was the last convincing senatorial win, crushing the former governor of Ohio, James M. Cox, in 1920.

This is not an accident. A senator is simply one of a bunch of people (currently 100), not single-handedly responsible for "governing" any large governmental organization... and Americans, by and large, do not see the presidency as an entry-level job. Would it make sense for a Fortune-500 company to hire a CEO who had never even been a high-level manager?

But there is an even more basic reason senators tend not to get elected: by the very nature of the job, a senator is a deal-maker... that is, a compromiser. They do not decide, they debate; they do not govern, they negotiate, they cut deals, they sacrifice one principle for another.

Senators are not leaders; even the so-called leadership is not what most folks think of as leading: it's more like herding cats, or trying to nail Jell-O to the wall.

A senator inevitably votes for a bill that is anathema to his constituents -- in exchange for a colleague's vote on a bill that the first senator's constituents want; and both senators pray nobody finds out until after re-election.

But during a presidential campaign, at least in recent years, every least controversial vote of a candidate when he was in the House or Senate is pored over, dissected, deconstructed, and vacuum-molded into an attack ad by his opponents, first in his own party's primaries, then in the general by the even more brutal nominee of the opposite party. You must remember... we saw this exact dynamic in both the 2000 and the 2004 elections: in 2000, Gore was able to rise above his Senate past by pointing to his eight-year stint (seems like eighty) as vice president. He nearly won!

But in 2004, JFK was utterly and irrevocably defined by his Senate career: a mediocre hack who grandstanded his way through the decades, lurching from one outrageous statement to another, and never actually running anything in his entire life... not even his own finances, since his fortune came from inheritance and then a pair of fortuitous marriages. The only things he ever did apart from legislative politics was a very brief stint as a prosecutor, and of course his even briefer stint as a Swift-Boat commander.

Aside from that last, everything I wrote above applies equally to Hillary Rodham... except, of course, that it isn't "decades" in her case but, by 2008, less than a single decade. Other than that, during which she has done nothing of any significance (also like Kerry), her only important jobs were as head of the Legal Services Corporation... and as Bill Clinton's wife.

Every position she obtain after that marriage was "inherited" from her husband, from her disasterous foray into socialized medicine (the Mussolini-esque "Task Force on National Health Care Reform") to her election as a senator from a state she had never lived in her life, procurred for her by her hubby's election team.

Amazingly, she managed, during this period, to rack up the highest negatives that any first lady has ever suffered... another reason she will never be the Democratic presidential nominee. Her nomination would be catastrophic for the party, as it would galvanize Republican voters against her like nothing before, eclipsing even 2004 -- and especially Republican women, who Hillary has scorned and dissed from Day-1. This at a time when the only way the Democrats can hope to win the presidency is if Republican voters are apathetic and fail to turn out; for Ken Mehlman has already proven that when both sides turn out heavy, the Republican wins.

It might be different if there were absolutely nobody to carry the banner of the Democratic Left. She might be nominated then, though she would still lose the general election. But that simply is not the case; there are any number of better-qualified liberals willing to run, starting right at the top with Howard the Dean. Despite his promise not to run if he were chosen as chairman of the DNC, there is actually no law against it. And he is a governor and a former presidential candidate with a proven base of support. Then there is also Gephardt, Biden, Gore, and possibly even Tom Daschle. Slightly more moderate Dems like Mark Warner will probably appeal to the crossover constituency that Hillary is comically trying to woo at the moment.

I believe that Hillary will end up being the forgotten women in 2008. Her borrowed cloak of power will be moth-ridden and threadbare, and she will be "just another senator," one of a hundred, and not a very powerful one at that.

And she will not be the Democratic nominee -- then or ever.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 24, 2006, at the time of 4:18 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

January 21, 2006

Look What You Made Me Do!

Media Madness , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

This AP article, ostensibly about Karl Rove's speech, has a very peculiar characteristic... sort of a "what is wrong with this picture" scenario. See if you can spot it (I will refrain from my usual bad habit of bolding the important bits):

The admonition reflects growing concerns among senior Republicans that ethics scandals in the Republican-led Congress could hurt the party in November, even among staunch GOP voters who may begin to blame corruption for Congress' runaway spending habits....

The investigation of lobbyist Jack Abramoff threatens to ensnare at least a half dozen members of Congress of both parties and Bush administration officials. His ties to GOP congressional leaders and the White House pose a particular problem for Republicans.

I wish I could put a button here that would play the Final Jeopardy theme; perhaps you can envision it. Enhearing it, whatever... just imagine it! The answer is after the jump. Or if you're reading this on the archive page, it's just below!

Yeah, that's what I thought, too: if the scandal ensnares "at least half a dozen members of Congress of both parties," then why does it pose a "particular problem for Republicans?"

It's almost as if corruption is so endemic in the Democratic party that the voters are utterly blasé about it; they've already factored it in. But they would be shocked and angered to find similar levels of malfeasance among Republicans. Is that really the impression AP wants us to take away?

Or perhaps they mean us to absolve the Democrats because, childlike, they simply follow the lead of the more mature Republicans, so cannot be held responsible for their actions. This is like a kid sister, caught bloody-handed robbing the cookie jar with her older brother, pointing and saying "look what you made me do!"

But the whole article is replete (do you like that word?) with such odd pieces that don't quite fit. Like this one:

Rove, making a rare public address while under investigation in the CIA leak case, joined Republican Party chairman Ken Mehlman in warning GOP leaders against falling prey to the corrupting nature of power.

Has Patrick Fitzgerald called a press conference to announce "the noose is tightening" around Karl Rove? Has anyone specified Rove as a target? Yes, the case is still under investigation... but is there any evidence, other than liberal hatred, that the focus is Karl Rove? This strikes me as a perfect example of "it must be true because it would be so wonderful if it were true!" Here it comes again:

The special prosecutor's inquiry is still under way, leaving the fate of other senior White House officials, notably Rove, in doubt.

Why Rove more notably than anybody else? Does AP have some insight into the direction of Fitzgerald's investigation? Is someone in Fitzgerald's office illegally leaking secret information from the probe, a felony? If they have a "whistleblower," why doesn't AP crow about it?

This, by the way, is the real way that leftist media bias works. It's not that the MSM suddenly lapses into Kossack Talk (they save that for their columnists); it's just a subtle but inexporable pressure: the knowing wink; the slight smirk; the conclusion jumping, whispering, the significant glance... all pointing the same direction: well, you know how those Republicans are; there's so much I could tell you, if only I could shed this straightjacket of "objectivity." You'll just have to fill in the blanks; read between the lines, gentle reader....

But even after priming us to dismiss anything Rove says -- that well-known unindicted co-conspirator -- the writer (Ron Fournier) is unable to dim the power of Rove's words. Here he is explaining why the Republicans must run on the GWOT in the 2006 elections:

"Republicans have a post-9/11 view of the world. And Democrats have a pre-9/11 view of the world," Rove told Republican activists. "That doesn't make them unpatriotic, not at all. But it does make them wrong - deeply and profoundly and consistently wrong...."

"The United States faces a ruthless enemy - and we need a commander in chief and a Congress who understand the nature of the threat and the gravity that American finds itself in," Rove said. "President Bush and the Republican Party do. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many Democrats."

He said some Democrats want to abandon Iraq too soon, which would cause enemies to "laugh at our failed resolve." Rove added: "To retreat before victory would be a reckless act - and this president and our party will not allow it. This is worthy of a public debate."

Direct. Blunt. Unanswerable. That is the essence of profundity.

De profundis ad astra! Or at least to continuing control of Congress. (I am still predicting that the Republicans actually gain at least one net seat in the Senate; at the moment, I am alone of all pundits in making such a prediction, but we'll see.)

Whoops, I seem to have lapsed into unlicensed clinical diagnosis again; that's my kid sister's job. Look what you made me do!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 21, 2006, at the time of 12:54 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 30, 2005

Peace Busting Out All Over "Palestine"

Predictions , Terrorist Attacks
Hatched by Dafydd

Near as I can make it out from this AP story, the withdrawal of the Israelis from Gaza has resulted in the complete collapse of all civil authority in that territory and the rise of pure tribalism as bad as any in sub-Saharan Africa... which is pretty much just what I predicted (only moreso) when I argued in favor of the Israeli withdrawal:

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Palestinian policemen went on a rampage over the killing of a colleague and seized the Gaza-Egypt border crossing for several hours Friday, forcing European monitors to flee in the latest sign of growing mayhem in the coastal strip.

The story is very poorly written, but it appears to be saying that yesterday, a "family" of Palestinians (read: tribe) launched an attack on the border-crossing police station to free one of their tribe members, who was being held on drug charges there. In the course of that assault, a member of the attacking tribe was killed. Today's renewed assault by the same tribe was in retaliation for that death: they demanded that whoever had had the temerity to return fire when they assaulted the station must be "executed."

It's the start of the Hutus and Tutsis all over again.

Here is what I predicted back when I was guest-blogging on Captain's Quarters back in August:

The argument -- and it's perfectly logical, as far as it goes -- is that by withdrawing the settlers and the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) which is primarily there to defend them with checkpoints, searches, and restrained shows of force, a power vacuum will be created. The Palestinian Authority will of course be too weak to maintain its power, so Hamas (and perhaps Hezbollah or Palestinian Islamic Jihad) will seize control instead. (Though Al-Qaeda has also now staked a claim to Gaza, and the strip may turn into a decidedly uncivil civil war instead of smoothly transitioning to Hamas.) [Boldface emphasis added]

Nevertheless, I argued at the time (and still maintain today) that there were sound military reasons for the pullout: removing the several thousand potential Israeli hostages -- and the IDF troops uselessly tied down doing nothing but guarding them -- would free up the Israelis to respond in a more military fashion to further provocations by the Palestinians... in particular, with air strikes, just as they would if they were attacked by, say, Egypt or Syria.

Here is what to look for to see if my prediction is coming true: once Israel pulls out, a major attempted attack by some terrorist group or groups is inevitable. Because of the security fence (the "wall"), that attack will probably be in the form of rockets, mortars, or artillery fired over the wall. If Israel responds with aerial bombing of significant targets within Gaza and the West Bank, that will tell us that the days of pussyfooting have passed. The Palestinian Arabs will wake up to a new reality, one in which Israel no longer pulls punches in response to mindless Arab terror. I absolutely believe this will create a much better situation than what we have now, with international terrorist groups having significantly less ability to launch attacks on Israel (or on us) from the Palestinian territory than they enjoy today.

But if Israel's only response is a targeted assassination of some Hamas official and a strongly worded letter of protest to Failed Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas... well, then Israel would have surprised and saddened me.

Well, Israel did not disappoint me, and my prediction turned out to be accurate: the terrorists have launched several rocket attacks on northern Israel in recent weeks -- and indeed, the Israelis have in fact responded with air strikes, not simply against a single Hamas official here and there, but missile attacks on non-named militants in the act of setting up attacks on Israel, something they had ceased doing prior to exiting Gaza.

(They also launched a "targetted assassination" of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad member; I don't actually object to Israel going after named individuals, so long as they also use air strikes as part of a military strategy.) From the Chicago Tribune on December 15th:

Israeli missiles fired from the air ripped apart two cars in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, killing four Palestinian militants and wounding five other people, including an Islamic Jihad spokesman, the military and Palestinians said....

Late Wednesday and early Thursday, Israeli artillery and aircraft also pounded northern Gaza, where militants fired rockets at Israel. Two Palestinians were slightly wounded.

So here is the state of play in the Gaza Strip now:

  • The ruling Fatah government is collapsing;
  • Civil society there has degenerated into the war of all against all: not simply Fatah, Hamas, PIJ, and al-Qaeda duking it out for control, but down to level of tribal warfare over individual police stations;
  • And Israel, freed from the fetters of being the occupying authority, has begun to respond to terrorist attacks from Gaza as it would to military attacks from a sovereign nation.

I see this as good news and likely to play out very much to the advantage of the civilized and against the interests of the barbaric terrorists over the next few years. It's time for the Palestinians to stop blaming Jews for everything that goes wrong in their lives, to grow up and accept responsibility for their own fate. I argue that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza (and the impending withdrawal from the West Bank of the Jordan River) will force them to do exactly that -- or else be swept into the dustbin of history, along with Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 30, 2005, at the time of 6:11 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 11, 2005

Tookie In a Coal Mine

Crime and Punishment , Elections , Politics - California , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Simply put, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's decision on clemency for Stanley "Tookie" Williams will be a harbinger of next year's campaign.

We already know that the Governator is running for reelection... but we don't know as what. So here is my prediction:

  1. If Arnold denies clemency, he will run for reelection as a Republican;
  2. If he grants clemency, then he will leave the Republican Party and run for reelection as an Independent.

I sure hope for the former; but if the latter happens, we'll all have the enormous satisfaction of saying "I told you so!" to Daniel Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee-blog California Insider, who has argued for several days now that Arnold's appointment of liberal Democrat Susan Kennedy shows that Schwarzenegger is bringing Democrats over to his cause -- not that Ms. Kennedy has been moving Arnold Schwarzenegger over to hers, as most conservatives believe.

I suppose it won't be too long before we find out who's right.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 11, 2005, at the time of 9:42 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 29, 2005

Back-Seat Hill

Politics - National , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

I predicted some months ago that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham (D-NY) would not be the Democratic nominee for president in 2008 (or ever, actually). Here's reason number 217 why not. "Defending" her 2002 vote authorizing war in Iraq, Hillary writes:

"I take responsibility for my vote, and I, along with a majority of Americans, expect the president and his administration to take responsibility for the false assurances, faulty evidence and mismanagement of the war," the New York senator said in a lengthy letter to thousands of people who have written her about the war.

At the same time, she said the United States must "finish what it started" in Iraq.

Dafydd's Fast Translation: Stay the course, follow the Bush war agenda, but sit in the back seat and bitch the whole time.

If I were a liberal, I would be out looking for an anchor, a length of chain, a boat, a deep body of water, and Hillary Clinton. Fortunately, I'm not a liberal; so I can just sit back, pop a Caffeine-Free Diet Dr. Pepper, and enjoy the show!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 29, 2005, at the time of 9:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 19, 2005

Agnostic Defends Faithful Against Atheist

God and Man In the Blogosphere , Ludicrous Lawsuits , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

This case could not have come at a better time:

Atheist Now Sues to Take Motto Off Money
Nov 18, 2005
By David Kravets
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (AP) - An atheist who has spent four years trying to ban the Pledge of Allegiance from being recited in public schools is now challenging the motto printed on U.S. currency because it refers to God.

Michael Newdow seeks to remove "In God We Trust" from U.S. coins and dollar bills, claiming in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday that the motto is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. [Emphasis added]

I believe the result of this case is obvious: the Supreme Court will rule against Newdow, probably on a 5-4 decision led by the Chief Justice.

Let's start with the specifics: there is no constitutional prohibition against an "endorsement of religion." There is a First-Amendment ban on establishing a religion, but establishing and endorsing are completely separate. To the extent that judges pretend there is such a ban (for example, the Ninth Circuit in Michael Newdow's first Pledge of Allegiance case), they are covertly amending the Constitution -- and they well know it.

For this to stick, however, you need a Supreme Court to go along with the game and pretend that merely mentioning the fact that the nation was founded by men who believed in God, or at least "Nature and Nature's God," and who did in fact put their trust in that deity, violates the Constitution written by those very same Founders. If that's a logical inference, then I am Marie of Romania.

This should perhaps ring a bell:

We, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of the divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

The Declaration of Independence is the foremost foundational document of our nation; all else, including the revered Constitution, was derived from this document. And this document itself was incorporated into federal law more than 125 years ago as one of the Organic Laws of the United States (along with the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787... and to answer Scott Johnson's question at the end of the Power Line piece, the Northwest Ordinance was the first piece of legislation from the Continental Congress -- predating even the Constitution -- that made it clear the United States would expand westward across the continent... and would do so by creating new states, rather than by making existing states larger; thus, it was every bit as influential on the "shape" of the United States as was the Constitution itself).

Sorry about the digression. Where was I? Oh yes, the primary foundational document unambiguously puts trust in God... hence the money motto. The phrase "in God we trust" is therefore historical, traditional, and descriptive; while the First Amendment only prohibits a prescriptive establishment of religion, such as the Church of England, and any proscription of the free-exercise of religion.

But Scott notes an important point in that Power Line piece I just linked, discussing the Ninth Circus Court of Appeals' agreement with Newdow that the Pledge was unconstitutional:

One interesting facet of the decision is that it only modestly extends the Supreme Court's misguided First Amendment jurisprudence on the subject of religion in the schools; I have read very little suggesting that the decision misapplies the jurisprudence.

So in fact, Newdow is making a good "paper bet" that the Supreme Court will play along with the charade; after all, it always has in the past. Even when they struck down the Ninth's decision, they did so on the weakest of all possible grounds: the Court simply found that Michael Newdow had no standing to sue on behalf of his daughter because he did not have custody. They never addressed the merits of the case.

So why is this the best possible time? Because we are virtually assured that this time, the case will actually be decided on the merits -- and that this time too, the Court will prune away that "misguided First Amendment jurisprudence on the subject of religion."

Not because of the changes in the makeup of the Court; Sandra Day O'Connor and William Rehnquist, replaced by Samuel Alito and John Roberts respectively, joined with Clarence Thomas the last time through, calling on the Court to decide the actual issue, rather than punting.

So why did they punt last time? I deduce it was because it would have ended up a four-four tie had they ruled on the merits.

The problem with the Pledge case was that Antonin Scalia recused himself, since he had given a speech on the subject of the case; so there were only eight justices hearing it. Now, let's suppose there were five justices ready to rule that the Pledge was indeed unconstitutional. In that case, I cannot imagine they would have gone along with booting the case on a technicality that they well could have ignored, or at least signaling in their opinions that if he refiles properly (as he now has done in Son of the Pledge of Allegiance), he'll be very happy with the results.

But by the same token, we know there were three justices who believed it was constitutional: Thomas, O'Connor, and Rehnquist. If there were two more, even without Scalia, then they would have done what they said they wanted to do: ruled on the merits and struck down the Ninth's decision more substantively.

Ergo, with my two lemmas above -- no five justices in favor of upholding the Ninth, nor five in favor of overturning it on substantive matters -- plus the Scalia recusal, I finally conclude that the score was 4-4... hence the compromise.

And that leaves Antonin Scalia. I believe that Scalia would have seen the light on the Pledge case and will do so in the coinage case: that the phrase is no more an establishment of religion than is the eye-and-pyramid seal an establishment of Freemasonry. Therefore, assuming Scalia can keep his piehole shut this time and needn't recuse himself, the case will probably hinge 5-4 in favor of sending Newdow away with a flea in his ear.

In fact, I think I can even name the five justices who will so rule: Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Scalia, and Kennedy. Ginsburg, Breyer, and Stevens (assuming he's still sucking air and not retired by then) will vote with Newdow... and David Souter is a coin-toss on this issue, in my opinion.

Hm, just as I thought: it was obvious, after all!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 19, 2005, at the time of 5:17 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 25, 2005

Great News for Iraq...

Good News! , Iraq Matters , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

...But not-so-great for my petty, vainglorious self: I missed my prediction by one province!

From AP via Fox News:

Iraq's Constitution is Adopted
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraq's landmark constitutional was adopted by a majority of voters during the country's Oct. 15 referendum, election officials said Tuesday.

Results released by the Independent Electoral Commission (search) of Iraq showed that Sunni Arabs, who had sharply opposed the draft document, failed to produce the two-thirds "no" vote they would have needed in at least three of Iraq's 18 provinces to defeat it.

The commission, which had been auditing the referendum results for 10 days, said at a news conference in Baghdad (search) that Ninevah province, had produced a "no" vote of only 55 percent.

The New York Times has some more. Don't forget the new deal they have, where you have to suffer through an advert on your way to the story. Just click the "skip" button in the upper right corner. ( Why can't the ads hide behind the firewall along with the "premium" columnists?)

Alas for me, I had predicted that only one province would muster the necessary two-thirds to reject; Salahaddin messed me up -- but next-door Ninevah saved the day for Iraq.

Still, I had been confident throughout that the Sunni would not get their three; and on that prediction, I was correct. (Shoulda quit while I was ahead... but that doesn't suit my cheerful, optimistic nature!)

A great day for Iraq, and since I had no money riding on my prediction, I'll laugh it off and say a great day for me, too!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 25, 2005, at the time of 5:44 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 7, 2005

A Tale of Two Stories

Iraq Matters , Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

I have clenched in my reptillian jaws a pair of stories. Both about Iraq; both about the prospects for the constitutional referrendum on October 15th. Both MSM: one is Reuters, the other Associated Press.

Night. And. Day.

(A tip of the hat to Pajamahideen, in the comments of Harry Reid's Babysitting Service, for calling the Reuters story to my attention.)

Here is the Reuters story:

Pollster says weary Iraqis back constitution
04 Oct 2005
By Andrew Quinn

BAGHDAD, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Iraqis are exhausted by the country's descent into chaos and most pin their hopes on a new constitution as a first step toward order, the director of one of Iraq's few opinion polling agencies said on Tuesday.

Mehdi Hafedh of the Iraqi Centre for Development and International Dialogue said his latest poll showed support for the draft constitution going into a vote on Oct. 15 was widespread -- even in areas where Sunni Arab groups fighting a bloody campaign to derail the new charter are strong.

Hafedh believes the constitution will be approved. But he's not speaking from a gut feeling or wishful fantasy; unlike anybody else I have read, he actually polled Iraqis on the question.

Hafedh's poll of 3,625 Iraqis between Sept 14-19 showed 79 percent in favour of the new constitution against eight percent opposed. The remainder did not answer the question.

While support was particularly high in the northern Kurdish areas and southern regions dominated by Shi'ites, Hafedh said it also ran at over 50 percent in central provinces known as the heartland of Sunni Arab unrest -- a sign, he said, that the Sunni-Shi'ite split was not as wide as many fear.

"This is exaggerated by political elites who are seeking power and by Western media and analysts," Hafedh said.

"If you go down to the streets, you can't tell who is Sunni and who is Shi'ite. We are all mixed." [emphasis added]

Nobody imagines that the constitution will pull less than 50% of the voters, not even the Sunni "political elites" who are frantically rounding up Sunnis to vote against it. The constitution will only be derailed if any three of the eighteen provinces of Iraq vote against it by a two-to-one majority (more than 66%).

There are four provinces that are majority Sunni; but from what I have read, only three where the Sunnis are so overwhelming a majority that a two-thirds No vote is plausible. Even those provinces, however, are not 100% Sunni. If even 10% of the population are Shiite, and if the Shiite there vote at least as strongly for the constitution as their brethren elsewhere (which would be at least 86%, if Hafedh's poll is accurate among the Shia), the Sunni in that province would need about a 73% No vote to get the overall two-thirds to count for a "rejection" province.

But Hafegh's poll indicated there was "over50 percent" even in those provinces. So the only way the constitution can be rejected is if the poll is stunningly in error -- or if there is a huge turn-around in the next week.

It's not a done deal by any means; but there is great cause for optimism.

(I do actually have a dog in the fight; in a recent post here, I made a prediction:

Dafydd the Great, wearing turbin and holding back of hand to forehead, predicts that no more than one province will muster the necessary 67% rejection. (Actually, I believe none will; but I'm hedging my prediction slightly.)

We'll see if this one works out, or if blows up like my Judiciary-Committee prediction!)

But wait; what about the other story?

This one is so boilerplate, it could have been phoned in from the New York offices of AP:

Many Sunnis to Vote No in Iraq Referendum
Oct 7, 2005
by Thomas Wagner

BAGHDAD (AP) - Like many Sunni Arabs in Iraq, Faleh Hassan opposed the U.S.-led invasion, boycotted the election that brought the interim government to power and plans to vote "no" in the Oct. 15 referendum on the country's draft constitution.

As far as he's concerned, ever since U.S. forces drove Saddam Hussein, a fellow Sunni, from power, Iraq's Kurds and majority Shiites have used democracy to grab an unfair share of power and to penalize the Sunni minority for the many abuses Shiites suffered under Saddam. [emphasis added]

Several things to note: first, there is no quantification; this story is pure "feelings" and no thought: clearly, we are supposed to draw the conclusion that the constitution is going down in flames... despite the fact that nowhere does Wagner explicitly quantify how many Sunnis are likely to vote against it in the Sunni provinces -- which is, of course, the only relevant question in deciding whether it will be adopted.

Second, note the extraordinary number of sources of information Wagner drew from for his literary endeavor: four, counting himself! Much of the story is Wagner's personal recollection of the last Saddam Hussein "referendum," when Hussein was the only candidate on the ballot, and with the Fedayeen Saddam looking over the ballots before they were put into the box. From that wealth of data, we learn that:

Iraq's Sunni Arabs are mobilizing in large numbers to defeat the referendum. Many Sunni politicians believe the document would give Kurds in northern Iraq and Shiites in the south virtual autonomy, control of Iraq's oil wealth in both regions, and leave Sunnis powerless and poor in central and western Iraq.

And one other point is glossed over. Wagner casually admits that in the past, he was willing to report pro-Saddam "news" under duress:

To show off this "democratic reform" to the world, [Saddam Hussein] opened Iraq to hundreds of foreign journalists, including this reporter.

All of us were assigned "a government minder" to monitor the few interviews we won with the frightened general public and to make sure we didn't try to visit any of the many off-limit palaces that Saddam and his family owned.

So for "weeks" in 1995, Thomas Wagner filed stories from Iraq while he was being carefully controlled by Saddam's "government minder[s]." I wonder: during all that time, or even in the eight years between that sham election and the fall of Saddam, did Wagner ever once reveal to his readers that those stories he filed were actually orchestrated by Saddam Hussein to make a democratic silk purse out of the pig's ear of Saddam's tyranny?

I don't find very much charity in my heart for Thomas Wagner. Nor do I feel any great impluse towards believing him now.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 7, 2005, at the time of 4:06 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 22, 2005

Predictions: Judiciary-Committee Democrats Fail to Rise Above Lowest Expectations

Filibusters , Injudicious Judiciary , Politics - National , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Crash and burn on my prediction for the J-Com vote! I wildly overestimated the Democrats' ability to recognize their own best interest. The vote of course included five Democrats voting against, not just Ted Kennedy: what is astonishing to me is that Joe Biden, Charles Schumer, and even Dianne Feinstein voted against Roberts. Dick Durbin I can understand; he's not exactly the sharpest crayon in the tank. But Dianne Feinstein? She's never been a wacko before; liberal, but not a captive to the MoveOn crowd.

Oh well; this of course means that more than twenty Democrats are going to vote against Roberts in the full Senate... but are they going to get forty willing to filibuster? I don't think they can: Harry Reid, leader of the opposition, insists he will not vote against cloture; besides, Russ Feingold, Herb Kohl, and Pat Leahy voted for Roberts, while Mark Pryor, Tim Johnson, Max Baucus, and Ben Nelson have already declared support, with Mary Landrieu and Kent Conrad "leaning" towards Roberts; that should make at least ten Democrats ostensibly unwilling to filibuster, which would make a filibuster impossible. So Patterico's earlier prediction is still possible... though since he unwisely signed aboard my prediction, I get to split the ignominy!

My other prediction, about the Iraqi Constitutional vote, is still live, of course. I sure hope the Iraqi voters are smarter than the Democrats....

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 22, 2005, at the time of 2:46 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 21, 2005

Patrick Leahy Says He'll Back Roberts

Injudicious Judiciary , Politics - National , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

UPDATE: Crash and burn on the prediction about the vote in the Judiciary Committee! Read all about it here.

In a move that seems to have shocked everybody except Patterico and myself, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), Democratic J-Com stalwart and filibustering fool, announced today that he will vote in favor of John Roberts, Bush's nominee to be Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Leahy, D-Vt., said he still has some concerns about Roberts. "But in my judgment, in my experience, but especially in my conscience I find it is better to vote yes than no," he said. "Judge Roberts is a man of integrity. I can only take him at his word that he does not have an ideological agenda."

Although Sens. Joe Biden (D-DE) and Charles Schumer (D-NY), both on the Senate Judiciary Committee, have yet to formally announce their votes either way, both gave interviews in which they said that Roberts was the best Supreme-Court nominee either had ever seen. I find it hard to believe they would say that -- and then vote against him.

In the meanwhile, as I expected, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) announced his own position:

Moments after Leahy spoke, Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, who also serves on the Judiciary Committee, announced he would vote against Roberts.

"There is clear and convincing evidence that John Roberts is the wrong choice for chief justice," Kennedy said. "I oppose the nomination, and I urge my colleagues to do the same."

There are other Democratic senators yet to announce: Dick Durbin (D-IL), Russell Feingold (D-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Herb Kohl (D-WI); still, I think my prediction, that Roberts will get all of the senators on the Judiciary Committee except Ted Kennedy, is looking pretty prescient at the moment.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 21, 2005, at the time of 2:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 18, 2005

Predictions, Predictions: the Iraqi Consitutional Vote

Injudicious Judiciary , Iraq Matters , Politics - National , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

UPDATE: Crash and burn on the prediction about the vote in the Judiciary Committee! Read all about it here.

One of my favorite thrillseeking pastimes is making high-level predictions. Unlike those by psychics, mine are specific and near enough that everyone will remember to check -- thus I dance on the high-adrenaline tightrope between, as Charlie Brown would put it, being a hero or being a goat.

(I actually have a fairly good track record, because I do not make my predicions anywhere near as randomly as I pretend.)

The Iraqi constitution, which their parliament just voted to be put to the Iraqi people, can only be derailed by either a majority vote against (not politically possible) or by its rejection by three provinces, each with more than two-thirds against.

This time, I'll just flip a coin *: Dafydd the Great, wearing turbin and holding back of hand to forehead, predicts that no more than one province will muster the necessary 67% rejection. (Actually, I believe none will; but I'm hedging my prediction slightly.)

In an earlier, unrelated prediction posted on Captain's Quarters about the vote on John Roberts' nomination in the Senate Judiciary Committee, I prognosticated that every Democrat on the committee except Ted Kennedy will vote to support Roberts in the vote recommending his nomination to the full Senate.

All of my predictions will have the primary category "Predictions," to make for easy tracking. After each is decided by the quantum vicissitudes of time, I will update it, scoring Dafydd the Great either a hit, a miss, or a mixed result (a wash).

* I'm lying again, as I warned you I might. I don't make my predictions by flipping a coin. I've been following this upcoming election for some time. My thinking was also influenced by this post by Captain Ed over at Captain's Quarters. So there.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 18, 2005, at the time of 5:16 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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