Thursday, January 31, 2008

Kennedy & Obama, part 3

As I mentioned here and here, the Kennedy endorsement is very important. Previously, I was emphasizing the Kennedy Mystique which has been transfered, heroes journey-like, from Teddy to Obama. But there's many practical benefits to being seen as the heir of the Kennedy Legacy.

A major league Spanish language DJ in Southern California talked Obama up - using Kennedy as a fulcrum. See here (from the GOS), a quote from someone who heard the DJ interview of Kennedy :
Kennedy talks about the fight for immigration reform he waged "and at my side from the beginning was Barack Obama." [...]

Kennedy: "Only two senators marched for immigrant rights on May 1, 2006, one in Washington and the other in Chicago. I marched in Washington and Barack Obama marched in Chicago. He was not afraid to stand up when others wouldn’t." [...]

"I’m committed to coming back on the immigration bill and Barack Obama will be with me. He is the one candidate who has said that he can do this in his first term. There’s too many people that are living in the shadows. Men and women of dignity who love their families who love their faith. I’m on their side and Barack Obama is on their side."
This is so important, especially to push back against the Hillary Lie that there's an ancient battle between Blacks and Hispanics (probably as ancient as the one between Jews and Arabs!)

Pic from here. Backpost finished 2009-12-18.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Who is helped by Edwards dropping out?

The body of a letter I sent to the TPM:
First some personal experience. I am an Edwards supporter; I have records back from Feb 07 that I wanted an Edwards/Obama ticket. Once he leaves, I am going to support Obama as strongly as possible. True, I'm a 35 year old married male, so that puts me square in Obama's demographic, but I am the sample group you're asking about...

Secondly, about the larger impact. I think that the older voters are going to go to Clinton (I asked around in synagogue and that's what I was hearing). The younger to Obama if they haven't already jumped ship after Edward's loss in Iowa.

Ultimately, though, I think that Obama will benefit from this becoming a two person race. I think I understand Obama's skill set (having a similar set myself although on about 1/100th a scale). It's much easier to marshal an opposition to one opponent than to two. While Obama is about a positive message, he's also effective as a contrast - especially to Hillary - and Edwards was getting in his way.

As such, I predict that Obama will be MUCH better in the upcoming debate. It's just so much easier to concentrate on one opponent.
Pic from here. Backpost finished 2009-12-18.

Edwards to End Presidential Bid

The AP (via the New York Times) is reporting that Edwards will end his Presidential bid. As I analyzed before, he would only stop the run if (a) he ran out of money, (b) his wife died, or (c) he was offered a deal by one of candidates.

Either of these three conditions may be what's going on here. My bet would be on a deal. There were credible rumors that Obama had offered Edwards the Justice Department. I'd be perfectly happy with that.

I do hope Edwards throws his support behind Obama. Although, as we saw in South Carolina, Edwards got the White-Male vote, and it's a question whether that group is more sexist, racist, or apathetic. That is, whether they don't want Hillary more than they don't want Obama more than they don't want to even vote now that the other candidates are so unacceptable to fine KKK standards.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Toni Morrison Endorses Obama

Toni Morrison's endorsement is very important because she's the one who coined the phrase/concept that Bill Clinton was the "first black president" (which I bristled at when i first heard it but its been repeated often by the black community)

I read the original article (which I can find somewhere). her point was that Bill Clinton was being hounded and persecuted for no reason - something that black men and women understand. Note, Jews understand that too. But anyway. I remember hearing Chris Rock in the late 90s talking about and defending Clinton. It's one reason why they feel so angry now - that the Black community stood by Bill during the impeachment (because they thought it was a lynching) and now that there's a viable black candidate, they want him to stand aside.

However, what the black community has always been angry about is that the white do-gooders are doing things selfishly and not for altruism. Altruism would be to stand aside and let Obama take the nomination. In that sense, I think the Kennedys are being altruistic here - they want Obama to be president because of his talent, yes, but also because he's black.

Ironically, the Clinton-Kennedy split occurring right before our eyes is a sign of which direction the history of the party will take.

Back in 1960, the decision was between FDR vs. Truman. JFK wanted the mantle of FDR while Truman himself argued in favor of Estes Kefauer.

In 1992, Clinton wanted the mantle of Kennedy; but as I said yesterday, Clinton was basically Reagan-lite (and, note, I don't mind that!). But Obama is a liberal, and he'll be an effective liberal.

Obama's liberalism is seen by his work in the Illinois legislature. Against great opposition he managed to get bipartisan agreement for many things - some examples from the Washpost:
"he played an important role in drafting bipartisan ethics legislation and health-care reform. He overcame law enforcement objections to codify changes designed to curb racial profiling and to make capital punishment, which he favors, more equitable."
Here's the Times description of the endorsement with Morrison's key statement:
In addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don’t see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which, coupled with brilliance, equals wisdom.
I totally agree.

{2009 Update, added some missing lines from the original email source and the picture, from here.}

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Why the Kennedy Endorsement is Good

My brother responded to my gleeful question about the Kennedy endorsement, whether Obama is JFK or RFK by saying:
Hopefully, more like Bobby. But truthfully, hopefully like neither one, on several levels.
I asked why - and I should note, I've never harbored ill-will to the Kennedys the way a thinking minority of my parent's generation seems to.

My brother's response:
Well, both were assassinated. JFK was high on rhetoric, but apparently quite lacking in substance. And there's the womanizing, which I'm tired of hearing about.
Fair enough. Here's my reply. Note, while this is being blogged now, it was originally an email exchange:
JFK - with all his faults - was a watershed for the boomer ideology. He was young, fresh, 'new century' ideals. He did what FDR and Reagan did - create a new ideology for America to follow. RR sucked. JFK, again for all his faults, stood for economic, racial, ethnic equality. The great society, the civil rights movement, were all done in his memory.

And similarly, the last 25-30 years have all been different riffs on Reagan's legacy. Clinton knew that too - hence why he shrunk government, abandoned health care, gutted welfare. These were all Republican ideas. And as Obama said, it's because Reagan provided a narrative to answer the excesses of the 60s and 70s.

Take the 'ruthless reviews' world famous (according to Wiki) "80s Action Film Guide" - the Dirty Harry, Rambo crap. Those movies were based on the idea that liberals were ruining America. It was crap, but RR captured that sentiment and turned it into a revolution.

There's now a chance to create a new narrative, akin to the FDR 'new deal,' the JFK 'new frontier/great society and the Reagan 'I Hate Everybody Not White' The realignment kicked into gear in the wake of Abu Ghraib and Katrina, exploded with the 2006 midterms, and can now be captured by Obama.

It's no longer a question in my mind. We have a chance - we meaning Democrats, but also we meaning America - to again reshape the world. This was the feeling that JFK gave people, the way the 'morning in America's crap of Reagan worked, and what can happen now.

Look at the voter turnout numbers! Turnout is usually low because people, especially the young, think that politics is worthless. Choosing between the lesser of two chumps. Gore vs. Bush, Kerry vs. Bush. Ugh ugh ugh. But Obama is drawing hundreds of thousands of new voters in each state. He's growing the party, and helping Democracy.

It's time.
First pic from here, second is from the Ruthless. Backpost finished 2009-12-18.

Kennedy Endorses Obama

The Kennedys back Obama! Great!

I guess the biggest argument is whether Obama is more like Jack or Bobby.

Hillary must be stopped.

Pic from here. Backpost finished, from the original email to my family, on 2009-12-18.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Text of Obama's SC Speech

Transcript from RBC:

Over two weeks ago, we saw the people of Iowa proclaim that our time for change has come. But there were those who doubted this country’s desire for something new – who said Iowa was a fluke not to be repeated again.

Well, tonight, the cynics who believed that what began in the snows of Iowa was just an illusion were told a different story by the good people of South Carolina.

After four great contests in every corner of this country, we have the most votes, the most delegates, and the most diverse coalition of Americans we’ve seen in a long, long time.

They are young and old; rich and poor. They are black and white; Latino and Asian. They are Democrats from Des Moines and Independents from Concord; Republicans from rural Nevada and young people across this country who’ve never had a reason to participate until now. And in nine days, nearly half the nation will have the chance to join us in saying that we are tired of business-as-usual in Washington, we are hungry for change, and we are ready to believe again.

But if there’s anything we’ve been reminded of since Iowa, it’s that the kind of change we seek will not come easy. Partly because we have fine candidates in the field – fierce competitors, worthy of respect and our admiration. And as contentious as this campaign may get, we have to remember that this is a contest for the Democratic nomination, and that all of us share an abiding desire to end the disastrous policies of the current administration.

But there are real differences between the candidates. We are looking for more than just a change of party in the White House. We’re looking to fundamentally change the status quo in Washington – a status quo that extends beyond any particular party. And right now, that status quo is fighting back with everything it’s got; with the same old tactics that divide and distract us from solving the problems people face, whether those problems are health care they can’t afford or a mortgage they cannot pay.

So this will not be easy. Make no mistake about what we’re up against.

We are up against the belief that it’s ok for lobbyists to dominate our government – that they are just part of the system in Washington. But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem, and this election is our chance to say that we’re not going to let them stand in our way anymore.

We are up against the conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as President comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House. But we know that real leadership is about candor, and judgment, and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose – a higher purpose.

We are up against decades of bitter partisanship that cause politicians to demonize their opponents instead of coming together to make college affordable or energy cleaner; it’s the kind of partisanship where you’re not even allowed to say that a Republican had an idea – even if it’s one you never agreed with. That kind of politics is bad for our party, it’s bad for our country, and this is our chance to end it once and for all.

We are up against the idea that it’s acceptable to say anything and do anything to win an election. We know that this is exactly what’s wrong with our politics; this is why people don’t believe what their leaders say anymore; this is why they tune out. And this election is our chance to give the American people a reason to believe again.

And what we’ve seen in these last weeks is that we’re also up against forces that are not the fault of any one campaign, but feed the habits that prevent us from being who we want to be as a nation. It’s the politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon. A politics that tells us that we have to think, act, and even vote within the confines of the categories that supposedly define us. The assumption that young people are apathetic. The assumption that Republicans won’t cross over. The assumption that the wealthy care nothing for the poor, and that the poor don’t vote. The assumption that African-Americans can’t support the white candidate; whites can’t support the African-American candidate; blacks and Latinos can’t come together.

But we are here tonight to say that this is not the America we believe in. I did not travel around this state over the last year and see a white South Carolina or a black South Carolina. I saw South Carolina. I saw crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children. I saw shuttered mills and homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from all walks of life, and men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. I saw what America is, and I believe in what this country can be.

That is the country I see. That is the country you see. But now it is up to us to help the entire nation embrace this vision. Because in the end, we are not just up against the ingrained and destructive habits of Washington, we are also struggling against our own doubts, our own fears, and our own cynicism. The change we seek has always required great struggle and sacrifice. And so this is a battle in our own hearts and minds about what kind of country we want and how hard we’re willing to work for it.

So let me remind you tonight that change will not be easy. That change will take time. There will be setbacks, and false starts, and sometimes we will make mistakes. But as hard as it may seem, we cannot lose hope. Because there are people all across this country who are counting us; who can’t afford another four years without health care or good schools or decent wages because our leaders couldn’t come together and get it done.

Theirs are the stories and voices we carry on from South Carolina.

The mother who can’t get Medicaid to cover all the needs of her sick child – she needs us to pass a health care plan that cuts costs and makes health care available and affordable for every single American.

The teacher who works another shift at Dunkin Donuts after school just to make ends meet – she needs us to reform our education system so that she gets better pay, and more support, and her students get the resources they need to achieve their dreams.

The Maytag worker who is now competing with his own teenager for a $7-an-hour job at Wal-Mart because the factory he gave his life to shut its doors – he needs us to stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship our jobs overseas and start putting them in the pockets of working Americans who deserve it. And struggling homeowners. And seniors who should retire with dignity and respect.

The woman who told me that she hasn’t been able to breathe since the day her nephew left for Iraq, or the soldier who doesn’t know his child because he’s on his third or fourth tour of duty – they need us to come together and put an end to a war that should’ve never been authorized and never been waged.

The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It’s not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white.

It’s about the past versus the future.

It’s about whether we settle for the same divisions and distractions and drama that passes for politics today, or whether we reach for a politics of common sense, and innovation – a shared sacrifice and shared prosperity.

There are those who will continue to tell us we cannot do this. That we cannot have what we long for. That we are peddling false hopes.

But here’s what I know. I know that when people say we can’t overcome all the big money and influence in Washington, I think of the elderly woman who sent me a contribution the other day – an envelope that had a money order for $3.01 along with a verse of scripture tucked inside. So don’t tell us change isn’t possible.

When I hear the cynical talk that blacks and whites and Latinos can’t join together and work together, I’m reminded of the Latino brothers and sisters I organized with, and stood with, and fought with side by side for jobs and justice on the streets of Chicago. So don’t tell us change can’t happen.

When I hear that we’ll never overcome the racial divide in our politics, I think about that Republican woman who used to work for Strom Thurmond, who’s now devoted to educating inner-city children and who went out onto the streets of South Carolina and knocked on doors for this campaign. Don’t tell me we can’t change.

Yes we can change.

Yes we can heal this nation.

Yes we can seize our future.

And as we leave this state with a new wind at our backs, and take this journey across the country we love with the message we’ve carried from the plains of Iowa to the hills of New Hampshire; from the Nevada desert to the South Carolina coast; the same message we had when we were up and when we were down – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope; and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people in three simple words:

Yes. We. Can.

Pic from here. Backpost finished 2009-12-18.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Articulations of my Hillary Problems

These are two comments from New Republic readers who articulate their problems witgh Hillary, from a feminist and from a Democratic/Liberal persepective. It's validating to see someone else say what I've been saying. The two writers are both Democrats (as far as I can tell) and Wandreycer is a woman in her 70s:
Wandreycer1 said: Whether or not there is an element of chauvenism and/or mysoginy (you'd think an old feminist like me would have any idea how to spell those words) to the criticisms and mistrust of Hillary (and there is) does not excuse her from personal responsibility for her behavior. Life's a bitch, no one ever said it was fair. Ask the successful female graduates of the military academys - not to many of them whining about sexism, although no doubt they had it twice as tough as anyone. Those women are almost the most beloved come graduation too.

That "excusing" tendency of her blind supporters - because of her gender - is patronizing as hell, that's why I loathe those simpering ads. I don't need to be pitied or babysat, thank you. They ar so insincere and infantilizing, I want to hurl things around the room, to paraphrase virginiacentrist.

I'd like to the under the surface mistrust of powerful women to be gone too, but that is not the whole story with Hillary. Like I said, part of her character problem is that she is incapable of taking real, not half-assed self-serving (oh, I was just too thorough and careful in the health care debaucle, I just cared too much and that right wing conspiracy dontcha know), responsibility for herself.

This is a character problem of many people, regardless of gender. Please don't excuse my crappy behavior because I've been a victim of sexism my whole life, and in some ways I have. Kick my ass, please.

I know she is self-protective and I understand that, I also understand why - but it's not up to us as voters to be hectored in to "getting" that, it's up to her to explain herself and then to change it.

As far as Bill CLinton's behavior - I just want to hide every time I see him, he's been so dishonest, manipulative and undignified as a former President. Just compare him for one second with GHWB whose SON was running. I say this as someone who six months ago adored him: how DARE he?
Number 2:
Rhubarbs said: pccostello writes, "My own guess is that we are hearing the vilification (as distinct from analysis) coming mainly from youngish males who have a lot of anxiety about powerful women. They should try the following: breathe slowly and repeat often: She is not my mother."

Well, I'm complimented that someone would still call me youngish. Thanks for that. But the rest is just BS. I would vote for my mother for president in a heartbeat. Enthusiastically. I would vote for any of the several currently serving women Democratic governors and most Democratic members of Congress for president all week long and twice on Tuesday if I could, purely for the sake of voting for a woman. Hell, if the Republicans ever nominate a woman whose support doesn't depend on admiring her husband, I'd give strong consideration to voting for her _because_ she's a woman, and because it's about damn time for a woman president.

Maybe Hillary can turn things around after she wins the nomination, and convince me that she's had a complete and total transformation of her personality, politics, and judgment. But until then, I'm just not willing to vote for someone who has done as much actual harm to my party and my party's policy goals as Hillary Clinton did in the mid-1990s. I'm not willing to vote for a candidate who is as gleefully cynical and dishonest as Hillary has been this last year. She has a record of real, personal financial corruption that would embarrass even a Republican. On almost all of the votes that have really mattered while she's been in the Senate, she's voted against liberal values, or she hasn't shown up to vote. (And now she frequently lies -- outright lies -- about the nature of her votes.)

Finally, if Hillary had been president and her husband were now running for the nomination based so transparently on appeals to aristocratic nepotism, I would oppose the man. How can any Democrat look back on the last seven years and conclude that putting the close relative of a president in the White House is a good idea? Why they hell not make Laura Bush president? Or Hillary's brother? Maybe there's a Bush or a Clinton named "Jong Il" or "Bashar" and we can just dispense with the facade of being a republic entirely. If I knew that the only way to implement the policies I support and ensure good Supreme Court nominations was to make my favorite Democrat king of America, I'd be against it, even at the cost of the defeat of my personal policy preferences. Some things are just more important than policy.

I am _desperate_ to vote for a woman for president -- and in local elections I've sometimes crossed party lines to vote for Republican women against Democratic men. But Hillary Clinton is not a generic woman candidate. She's not an archetypal emasculating strong woman figure. She's an actual politician with a terrible record and bad judgment who stands for all the wrong things, things I used to pride myself that Democrats had no truck with even as Republicans wallowed in them.
Pic from here. Backpost finished 2009-12-18.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Are the Clintons Hurting the Party?

The body of a letter I sent to the TPM over the recent debate about the behavior of Bill & Hillary Clinton:
Sorry I'm late to the party over the comments of AK, RA, and whether or not the Clinton attacks are hurting the Democratic party. I agree with AK that the Clintons are hurting the party. Moreover, my republican relatives are now gloating over how Democrats are waking up to what they hated about the Clintons in the 90s (or so they say). Back in the 90s, I defended the Clintons because they were fighting for Democrats. Now, Bill and Hill are savaging Obama (Muslim smears, drug smears, bald-faced lying about his record) and that hurts a rising superstar.

One thing that needs to be emphasized, especially in response to RA's contention that the GOP will fight dirty so the Democrats will have to fight dirty. Besides the blatant immorality, it's not really true. The reason why McCain is popular even among Democrats is because he seems to have a smidgen of truth-telling and honor. Yeah, it may be false, but that's how he comes across. So does Obama. However Romney and Hillary appear to be pandering liars - and that's why they have very high negatives.

Another reason why Obama vs. Hillary is different from Obama vs. GOP - there is no greater uphill battle for any Democrat than to go against Bill Clinton. The only president in recent years who comes close to the ardor the rank and file Democrat feels towards a president would be to JFK (and, of course, to FDR). Obama has to fight against a very popular figure to the people who form the base support! The fact that Obama is doing so well - and he is, when you look at the increasing rising poll numbers, the close elections in states that Hillary was carrying by two-digits only weeks before - is testament to how strong a candidate Obama is. If he can keep winning against these insane odds, than he can beat a GOPer.

And let's look at the converse. Obama can't attack the Clintons because Democrats love 'em. But Republicans hate Bill and Hill. The attacks against Hillary in the general election won't be under-the-radar swift-boating... it will be over the top, full throated attacks 24-7 for months and months. It will be the impeachment battle level rancor and slime without the protection of the Presidency.

The idea that Hillary is better suited to fight against the GOP is false. Especially, as we see, she falls apart into quick-response madness, self-inflicted wounds, and unforced errors against Obama. She'll get destroyed destroyed destroyed when against McCain and/or Romney. Ugh.
Backpost finished 2009-12-18.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

McCain about Romney

From the Times:
"Never get into a wrestling match with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it."
Pic from here. Backpost finished 2009-12-17.

My Year Of Flops, The Year In Review

If you recall, I've found Nathan Rabin's column, 'My Year of Flops' incredibly good reading. Even when he was totally wrong (he didn't like Hudson Hawk or even Mystery Men), he was worth reading. Here he ends the bi-weekly column, but pledges to continue it monthly (which is not enough, but he may have been running out of flops).

Backpost finished 4/8/08. Just the link.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Bobby Fischer, Anti-Semitic Wacko, Chess Master, Dead

From the Times: Bobby Fischer, Chess Master, Dies at 64.

On the first blog, I wrote about Fischer (twice). Basically, after seeing the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer" I wanted to learn more about the wistful chess genius... and discovered that he was a disturbing figure not worthy of veneration. So he plays a game well? So does Barry Bonds. Whoop-de-doo. Just because the game is cerebral doesn't make it better. Fischer proves you can be 'smart' and be odious.

Pic is from here, of a rook, see definition 2. Backpost finished 4/8/08, 12:41 pm, I had just the title and the link.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What Experience?

Timothy Noah from Slate Magazine agrees with me that Hillary's claim of being 'experienced' is bogus: Experience is not one of Hillary Clinton's assets.

Backpost finished 4/8/08. Just the link. Back in January, this was not common knowledge.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

TPM, Hillary, Obama

A letter I sent to the TPM, re: "Dead Even":
"Dead Even - As you know we keep pretty close tabs on polls here at TPM. And I can report that in our informal reader-email-based poll of readers who think we should come clean with our covert support of Obama and readers who think we should come clear with our secret support of Hillary, the numbers are running at about 50%-50%"
I don't think you are biased to one candidate over the other (even if you add in another 50% for my man John Edwards). But I do think that your site needs to give the full muckraker treatment to Hillary and Obama for their public comments. Did Obama switch his view on the Iraq War like President Clinton claims? Did Obama describe himself as both MLK and JFK as Senator Clinton claims this morning?

Did Hillary say that LBJ deserves more credit for Civil Rights than MLK? Do vett that claim, I assume we need to see a timeline - what did she say about the issue at first and how did it get stated and restated as time went on?

You and your site are great reporters. You show how facts get swallowed up by media narratives. I think as a clearly Democratic Party website, you can help us out by giving that fact-focus on these claims.
Backpost finished 2009-12-17.

Hillary and Civil Rights

The body of a letter I sent to Sullivan, re: "Top Down Clinton.":
Much is being discussed about Hillary's tone-deafness about Civil Rights history. I wonder if it could be from her conflicted upbringing, and her late arrival, at civil rights as a movement and a process. According to (what appears to be an authorized campaign site), she was a Republican, President of College Republicans, until 1966 and was "deeply affected" by the assassination of Rev. King... but what was she doing about Civil Rights before the assassination? Was she that concerned as a young adult and college student before that horrible event?

I say this to try to understand how she could defend LBJ and denigrate MLK (despite her subsequent backtracking, much like Michael Richards or Mel Gibson had to cover and backtrack). Back in 1965 & 1966, she may have actually felt that MLK wasn't that important but that the president was.
Backpost finished 2009-12-17.

Contra-Wilder Effect

From a letter I sent to the Reality Based Community Folks, in response to this point by Steven Teles.
I don’t buy the idea that Obama lost due to the “Wilder effect” (that voters told pollsters that they’d vote for a black candidate, but secretly voted for white candidates in the secrecy of the polling booth). The main reason is that there’s a plausible alternative hypothesis, which is that the large Obama lead in the polls sent independents into the Republican primary to vote for McCain. But we’ll have to take a look at the data tomorrow, when we’ll have fine-grained information.
One thing about the 'wilder/bradley-effect' that I haven't seen mentioned is why would racist voters choose Clinton over Edwards? Are pollsters and pundits suggesting that people will lie about voting for a black man and then choose a white woman when there's a perfectly acceptable (17% thought so) white man as a choice?

Backpost finished 2009-12-13.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Kerry & Clinton

The body of a letter I just wrote to Sullivan, re: Kerry's backing of Obama:

Despite being a life-long Democrat, I also shudder at Kerry's endorsement. However, it is the first step in balancing off the damaging bias of Bill Clinton. If Bill had decided to be above-the-fray then I would consider him the leader of the party, but he has decided to forgo that honor. So there are 3 people who can credibly be called the leaders of the party in descending (basically chronological) order: 1. Nancy Pelosi, 2. John Kerry, 3. Al Gore.

Pelosi is the current party head, the second in line to the Presidency (and for some reason the milestone of her female-ness hasn't been mentioned too much by the rah-rah Hillary crowd... could be because Pelosi wasn't married to a former speaker of the house?). The link to MSNBC you gave suggests that Pelosi won't endorse, but we'll see.

After her is Kerry, who, whether I like it or not, was my party's nominee four years ago. That means something. And even though the Republicans managed to create a cult of hatred around him, he's an innocuous politician with a lot of experience (who would have been a decent running mate for Obama had he not run in '04).

After that comes Gore, who you also indicate may be above it all.

But in any case, all three lead my party. Bill has decided to abdicate his leadership in favor of his wife - which I can understand as a husband - but he won't regain the title unless he does penance (e.g. campaigning STRONGLY for Obama or Edwards should they be the nominee). Bill won't do that, but hey, I need to be fair to the rules (I just made up).

Pic from here. Backpost finished 2009-12-13.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Women Veeps

Background: Back on Jan 9th, I was giving my ideas for Obama's possible VP, and said that he may have enough political capital to select a woman instead of a wrinkly white male. Since then, 3 months, I now think it would make even more sense to choose a woman; because the horse-race has gone on so long, and Hillary's supporters - many of them as stupid and deranged as W's pod-people - have gotten so cognitive dissonanty that they may stay home in November if Obama gets the nomination in a fashion that doesn't give proper obeisance to the altar of Her Highness Hillary I.

Hillary's support comes from four distinct groups:
  1. Women over 30
  2. Anyone over 50 (each year older increases the ardor for Hillary based on the hatred of a president being younger)
  3. Low information voters who go on name recognition alone (and who vaguely remember that Clinton=Good President)
  4. Racists (who also presume that they're actually voting for a third term of Bill)
Group 2, the old people, will split depending on how loyal they are to the party; many old people only feel comfortable with other old people. And McCain is the AARP poster child (especially now that Charlton Heston [Rabbeinu] has died). Group 3 will vote for whichever Democrat is on the ticket, unless the negative campaigning from Hillary, and soon the GOP, will convince them to enter into category 4 (e.g. that Obama is a coke-selling Muslim who hates America).

This leaves us with group 1, the women. Many women - and I've talked to a bunch - are voting for her out of the same, laudable, blind-loyalty that I expect yellow dog Democrats to have. The same loyalty that drives people to vote for whomever the Jew on the ticket is, even when the guy's a scumbag (exhibit a: Spitzer). These crazy women will be hopping mad if Hillary is 'forced' to concede the election. Because, as I've heard and read many times, it's just like the male phallus-oppressors to demand women to take second place to a man.

Setting aside the fact that Hillary has as much to do with honest feminism as Betty Crocker, when you have someone like Chris Dodd asking her to drop out - a guy who ran against her, who has more experience in public office than her, yet who already dropped out - then it's not about man/woman. But the Valkyries won't see that logic. Just as bullet-headed W supporters think that he'll be vindicated by history (much as James Buchanan and Warren Harding have), so type-1 Hillary supporters consider every slight to be one of gender.

And, yes, I do claim that there are those who are against Obama because they are racists. My claim is not the same thing as the Hillary claim. Why? Because I'm applying it to only a segment of his opposition, not the totality. And because I am not an idiot.

Anyway, the Valkyries can be mollified if Obama chooses a viable female VP. No mouth-breathing non-entities from useless states (paging Representative Ferraro). Obama would need a competent purple/red state Senator/Governor; preferably one who can run in '16. And since women live way longer than men, I think he can skew older than I suspect he could with male candidates.

OK, enough background. Now to the original post, back from Jan 9:

The Analysis:
For my list of current and former office holders, I'm using this Rutgers site, and any relevant Wiki sites (there's nothing comprehensive... maybe I'll make it). Also, I went through a list of women a few weeks ago, which I will reproduce as well. Following is their name, state, year first elected into office, and age.

  1. Christine Gregoire (Washington, 2004, 61)
  2. Kathleen Sebelius (Kansas, 2002, 60)
  3. Janet Napolitano (Arizona, 2002, 51)
  4. Ruth Ann Minner (Delaware, 2001, 73)
  5. Jennifer Granholm (Michigan, 2002, 49)
Former Governors
  1. Kathleen Blanco (Lousiana, 2004-2007, 66)
  2. Jeanne Shaheen (New Hamp, 1997-2003, 61)
  1. Barbara Boxer of California
  2. Dianne Feinstein (California)
  3. Amy Klobuchar Minnesota
  4. Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas 1998, 48)
  5. Claire McCaskill Missouri
  6. Barbara Mikulski Maryland
  7. Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House
Quick Analysis -
  • Sebelius - in House from 86-94, Chair of Democratic Governors Association. Moderate but pro-choice, anti-death penalty.
  • Napolitano - named one of the 5 best governors; US Atty for AZ under Clinton, former chair of Gov. Assoc.
  • Gregoire - Atty Gen. of Wash from 1993-2005
  • Blanco - In disgrace after Katrina mismanagement.
  • Granholm - not a U.S. citizen (she's Canadaian)
  • Minner - too old (73)
  • Shaheen - pal of Hillary, will run for Senator of NH (which is more important for the party)
Now back to 4-7-08
I have a soft-spot for Blanche Lincoln. She's young, so she can run in '16, she Southern, and she has the great last name. If Obama really wants to channel the Abraham Lincoln vibe, what better way than to actually have one on the ticket. Yeah, Blanche has (after 1/9/08) endorsed Hillary, but whoop-de-doo. However, to get the older group, I think Napolitano or Sebelius. Napolitano is term limited so she'd be a good shot - and she can maybe embarrass the GOP by taking McCain's home state into the Democrats. Sebelius is also term limited and has a more strategic region/state (even if the Democrats can't win KS, we can maybe get a lot of the Midwest with two of them on the ticket).

Because of the regionalism - and her experience in the House as well as governor - I think Sebelius is the best pick for Obama.

Finished 4/7/08 11:48 PM, began January 9th, 2008. Honest.

A New Fish to Fry

Who, pray tell, would think of writing this sentence in defense of Mormons:
Still, even among those who respect Mormons personally, it is still common to hear Mormonism’s tenets dismissed as ridiculous. This attitude is logically indefensible insofar as Mormonism is being compared with other world religions. There is nothing inherently less plausible about God’s revealing himself to an upstate New York farmer in the early years of the Republic than to the pharaoh’s changeling grandson in ancient Egypt. But what is driving the tendency to discount Joseph Smith’s revelations is not that they seem less reasonable than those of Moses; it is that the book containing them is so new.
Who would decide that Judaism should be ridiculous to those who think Mormons are ridiculous? An atheist? Yes, but say better. A Jewish atheist? Yes, but more. A Jewish atheist who hates Judaism and will try to convince as many people as possible that Judaism should be mocked? Yup. Noah Feldman.

I really really feel sad for his mom.

And, No, It's Not Good For the Process

I've seen people write that they're glad Hillary's still in the race because it's good for the process. No, it's not. Two big reasons:

1. She's trying to destroy Obama

Yes, it'd be good for the process for example if it were between Edwards and Obama to be head-to-head, because they don't have the tactics of personal destruction like Hillary does. The more she stays in, the more she attacks him. And if he's not our nominee in '08, he will be in '12 (because if she's the nominee, she will lose), or if you're sanguine, in '16. He'll be 54 in 2016. Destroy him now and we'll lose this year and also in 4 and 8.

Every moment she stays in the race, it's worse for the party.

2. Their Narratives are Negatively Symbiotic

As I wrote before, the wins and losses for both candidates help feed or starve their related narratives of electability. Every loss for Obama will convince skittish Democrats that they can't expect a black man to win. Every win for Hillary shows that she's inevitable so stop struggling and take your medicine.

I will say that the Woman Can't Be a President narrative is weak compared to the American history of racism (as I wrote a few moments ago), but especially in the week following the assassination of Benzair Bhutto.

However, there may be a backlash against Hillary for her tactics which, ironically, will increase the narrative that women can't be trusted with power. Combine that with the anti-feminist message of 'marrying to get power' and Hillary Steinem have just set gender-relations back further than Mitt did for Mormons.

P.S. And because people aren't mentioning this at all... is Nancy Pelosi still chopped liver? I guess having the first female Speaker is nothing compared to Hillary. Ugh.

Hillary Steinem Clinton

I should talk about Gloria Steinem's disgraceful column in yesterday's Times. If she still retains the role of standard-bearer of feminism, then I am hopeful that my generation may very soon take over from hers.

Just as Obama's successes show that my generation can lead the way to put old racist bromides to bed, so Hillary & Steinem show that old-guard feminism should similarly be made obsolete.

To back a candidate JUST because of their identity - whether its backing the Jew, backing the Black, backing a Mormon - or to the opposite (voting against a candidate on the identity alone) - is stupid. People do it, but it's stupid. Yet, despite her protestations to the contrary, that's what Steinem is effectively asking people to do and what Hillary will request if she thinks it will get her more votes.

Steinem claims a woman with Obama's skill and background would never be considered a candidate. Oh really? You mean a stunningly beautiful woman who is a mesmerizing public speaker with a proven record of legislative success by uniting both parties, wouldn't be a candidate for president? Steinem is blinded by sex.

And, of course, if Hillary wasn't married to a former president, would she be a senator and presidential contender? Well, if you're like Steinem, you think that being married to power is the only way a woman ever gets power (just as old closeted gay men like Larry Craig think that sex is only possible in men's' rooms). But, Steinem should be happy that the younger generation wants women who succeed on their own merits, not from the dude they marry.

Then this stinker from Steinem:
Black men were given the vote a half-century before women of any race were allowed to mark a ballot, and generally have ascended to positions of power, from the military to the boardroom, before any women (with the possible exception of obedient family members in the latter).
Steinem argues that women are more oppressed than African Americans. Oh really?

The slave trade? Lynchings? Fire hoses? Did I say lynchings?

I haven't mentioned much about why I think Obama's win as an African-American, would be incredibly important for America, because - as I mentioned above - it's stupid to use identity to vote. However, for the sake of rebutting Steinem, I will go there. America needs, some day soon, to get over our racist past. Racism is a defining sin of America. We fought the establishment of the Constitution over it, fought the civil war over it, and continued the fight a century later with the civil rights battles (which Hillary denigrates, by the way).

Steinem and Hillary's playing of the gender card will work for soft-hearted Democrats, but it will not work in the general. Does either woman care? Probably not. Let's put these geezers back on the shelf, up their meds, and wave bye-bye.

More Ammo: People Who Agree With Me

Here's a great rebuttal by Tim Noah of Slate. And another by, I shudder to link to it, the batty Maureen Dowd. I hate to agree with her, but she hates Hillary more than I do, and she repeats many of my arguments, so she's gotta be right, no?

Postscript about the Polls

Note, I don't blame the polls. They were accurate to describe Obama's support, they were 'wrong' about Hillary but only in that the polls were taken a day or two the major "Help Me Women" things occurred.

Also, it's important to remember that New Hampshire voters are ornery about preserving their 'first in the nation status.' They were made irrelevant in 2004 when Iowa was able to coronate Kerry, I totally believe that New Hampshirerers felt that they wanted to be contrary and keep Hillary alive... just to show us they are the 'first in the nation.' Thanks guys.

And Hillary's tactics were desperate for a reason - she had just a short amount of time to convince her base to save her. And they were all calculated tricks. As I said yesterday if they weren't calculated then she's unfit for office.

Still not convinced that the crying wasn't a trick. How about, what I'm just hearing about now, that there were two hecklers at a rally on Monday who called out to her "Iron my shirts!"

Look, I hate her, but I would never think about saying that to her. Democrats are generally not presumed to be sexist... so that is a very strange thing to say to her. It's not why people hate her. It's what Hillary and the odious Mark Penn want to make people say so they can design her as a victim. How much to want to bet that those hecklers were plants? It's not like she doesn't plant questions...

Postscript about Bill Clinton

I liked him as president. I stood by him when we was mercilessly attacked by Newt Gingrich and his Gang of Hypocritical Adulterers. But his attacks against Obama hurt the party and show him to be a slimeball buffoon. Shame on him.

Obama Veep, part 2

To fill out more of the analysis from before, I suggested these names: Chris Dodd, Evan Bayh, Chuck Robb, Bill Bradley, Lincoln Chafee.

Two more issues. 1. It depends if Obama needs to tack left or jog right. If left, then he will choose (the likes of) Dodd or Bradley. If right then Bayh, Robb, Chafee, Breaux, etc. And if he wants the best ticket of all, he should choose Dale Bumpers. Who could resist "Obama-Bumpers '08!"

2. If Obama gets enough political capital, then he may not need to choose a white-male, he could choose a white-female. I wrote notes for that idea before the NH primary results, and it was based on a Obama victory (i.e. his capital being high). Now I want him to do it just to stick it to Hillary. Grrr.

I'll find a list of possible women soon.

Secret Hillary Supporters

I'm finding more and more of the old-guard Democrats are supporting Hillary. One reason they do, and I don't, is they resent Obama's youth, ideas, and ability. "How dare this youngin' make me feel old and useless!" they say to themeselves, and then say to me "She has experience!"

Expereince = Age, to them.
Experience = Ability to learn from errors and change, to me.

So, as a rule of thumb, you can tell a Hillary voter by age and gender, the older and/or more estrogeny, the more they support Hillary. But they won't admit it, because it's embarrassing to support someone so terrible.

I wonder if it was the same back in '68 with Nixon... because that's what this feels like.

This morning, the bummed out feeling I have is similar to how I felt back in 2004. And I'll tell you, if its Hillary vs. McCain, with no third party choices, AND if McCain doesn't have anyone in his close brain-trust from this administraion, then I will have a hard time voting for her.

Her "weeping to victory" in New Hampshire disgusts me.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Clinton Pulls Out Narrow Win

How did Hillary beat the predictions? Three ideas are being floated:
  1. The "Bradley Effect" - defined by the Wiki as: "a phenomenon which has led to inaccurate voter opinion polls in some American political campaigns between a white candidate and a non-white candidate"

  2. Independents in New Hampshire saw the polls overwhelming favoring Obama and cast their ballots for McCain - depriving Obama of a decent amount of support (its such a small state that the 1000 people = 1% of the vote). Or, in general, Obama supporters thinking that the race was no contest and deciding to do whatever people do in New Hampshire when they're not voting

  3. The repeated line, on my news outlets and blogs, was that female voters rallied behind Hillary because of the (a) open misogyny of the press in reaction to her loss in Iowa, and (b) her weepy moment.
E.g. of the weepy moment comes from the NYTimes primary live-blog:
10:42 p.m. | Reactions From Clinton Camp Terry McAuliffe, Mrs. Clinton’s chairman, on MSNBC attributes her apparent victory to her tearful moment yesterday: “That humanizing moment yesterday,” he says. “That did it.”
Does anyone still want to say that it wasn't calculated?

This is a narrow win for Hillary. Let's remember that until Iowa, Obama was behind Hillary by a few points. But the press likes conflict and the horse-race, so we're going for a longer slog.


1. To you voters - never take the polls and info for granted. Get out and vote for the best person! (Or, as the case often is, against the worst person... certainly Hillary is worse than Romney!)

2. To you Hillary supporters - if you think that this is how you win a state, with crocodile tears, pathetically playing the gender card, then I am going to enjoy seeing you burn.

3. To you Obama people in the early states (I do get to vote on Feb 5, thanks Connecticut) - seal her doom, vote for the man.

4. To Edwards: DROP OUT! DROP OUT! DO US ALL A FAVOR! Make a deal with Obama to be Attorney General or Sec. of Labor or something. Just go, you had your chances and if you make us get Hillary I'm holding you responsible!

New Hampshire Predictions

It's late, I know, so this will be brief.

It's likely that Obama will maintain and even increase his lead over Clinton because Edwards is far less of a spoiler in NH. If she's within 5, she'll claim "victory"; between 5-10, then a "rebound" [note that I think its ludicrous to say either, but that's politics]; under 10 is going to be geometrically decisive for Obama and we'll get to see an increased Hillary freakout. Which would be nice.

The question on the GOP side is whether there are enough indipendents who don't want to vote for Obama left to vote for McCain. There's the huge turnout today, which helps those who're popular, so that may lift McCain.

Richardson said he's staying in "the final four" until Nevada, so he won't drop out. And if Rommney gets under #2 then he's major toast.

Weepin' Lizards

Below is a clip of the Weepy Hillary moment. The analysis, after seeing the breakdown, is a catch-22. Either:
  1. the tears are manufactured - and there's ample evidence that they are - and that shows she's packaged to a dangerously fake level (and the packaging is strategically miscalculated)
  2. or the tears are real and that means she doesn't have the grit, guts, strength, or will to be President of the United States.
Her packaged nature is a symbol of why people hate her and especially why the press hates her. As detailed yesterday in the TNR answering why the press likes McCain (and Obama): the press like candidates who give them access.

It's not as simple as just tit-for-tat, though. Accessible candidates are honest candidates because - whether I like it or not - and I hate it - the press are MY representatives. Politicians who give reporters access show they know their responsibility to inform and their 'public-servant' role in our Democracy. Obama, McCain - and Bill Clinton we should remember - were very accessible and as a result the press loved them.

Oh, you say, didn't the press hate Clinton? Sure they did: Hillary. Not Bill. Bill shot the bull with reporters till the wee hours of the morn but Hillary would maintain the bunker-mentality, shoot on sight, 'they're all bastards' attitude that quickly turned the press into her (and by association, her husband's) enemy. And it's a terrible bind for a politician, but given the continuum of choices between access and lockdown, the press rewards access and I appreciate that... because I demand that information and candor.

Hence, Hillary's packaging. She's trying to control the media, and the perception of her, and just like her GOP clone (Romney), the press hates it and tells everyone who will listen just how bad, phony, and unacceptable that is. And I agree. Bush was packaged, Nixon was packaged, for a reason: they were evil freakin' liars who wanted to hurt as many people as possible while helping their small group of supporters. Hillary will be the same.

Her tears? I assume they're not real. It's a ploy to make us sympathetic, to gin up her base (proof: her weepin' was in front of a specially chosen group of FEMALE supporters). To show she really has great ideas for our republic and its such a (crying) shame that people are stopping her.

More proof? Note how, during her weepin', she stays to her talking points of how she's experienced and everyone else will doom our country because they won't be ready on day one.

EXCUSE ME? If she is disciplined enough to stay on message then she's disciplined enough not to cry. And this is not even taking to account, as I've said repeatedly, that the assertions are WRONG. She's weeping because bad men are stopping her from applying her experience and talent? Well, stop crying honey, you have no experience and talent, so all is well! In fact, once we're in the realm of reality, she should be reassured that by stopping her, we're actually helping everyone on earth from the two possible disasters of either Hillary as next president or the GOP. See, don't you feel better now?

And, again, if she's REALLY crying as some meatheads want to assert, then that's even better. She needs to drop out immediately because it's a tough world out there and there's no room for crying just because you lost a freakin' caucus. Grow up.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Huffpo and More Hillary Myths

Two things from this widely linked article from the Huffington Post: "Shaken Clinton Camp Prepares For Trench Warfare After NH"

1. Yet another pundit uses the 1984 election as a model for Hillary vs. Obama. Hey, wait a tic, didn't i say that a few weeks ago? Heh heh

2. As the headline suggests, the Clinton camp is 'shaken.' There are two particular incidents in public eye that suggest the shaking and a lot of background murmurs. The two incidents were (a) Hillary getting all bug-eyed and angry at the Saturday night NH debate, when she defended her record of experience and change; (b) a bizarre account that she got all teary-eyed expressing her frustration that people don't see that she is all experienced.

OK, let's get one thing straight: Hillary has NO EXPERIENCE. Seriously, this is a persistent myth. Whenever Hillary supporters whine that she's been attacked in the press, they are overlooking that the press has given her a TOTAL WALK about her claims of 'experience.' Yeesh.

So what that leaves her with is her 'reputation' (or at least claims) that she will be a fierce fighter against the GOP smear machine (implying that Obama is a wusssy smiley dude who doesn't have the fire to fight back).

That particular claim is being destroyed right before our eyes... she lost ONE caucus. That's it. And even then she got 30% of the votes, not too shabby. Yet here she is whining like a stuck pig about how unfair it is. Waaah waah waah. This is the fighter? She can't even defend herself from a non-attacking smiley dude and she expects us to believe she can defend against Rove?!

Huckabee and the GOP Establishment

A letter I sent to Prof. Kleiman, in response to his question "Will the neo-cons and money-cons swallow Huckabee?":

Until I saw the Kristol column, I thought they wouldn't. Over the past few days I've heard from my partisan Republicans friends who hate Huckabee and said that if it came down to the two of them in November, they would vote for Hillary over Huck. Yeah, it's bluster, but that's pretty mean.

Who do they support? It used to be Giuliani but recently they think he's imploding fast over his general weirdness. Thus they are now putting their ultimate hopes on John McCain. A few weeks ago they'd have painted McCain as a traitor, but now they realize that he's pretty conservative on most issues and is the most hawkish after Rudy, and that's ultimately what they care about.

Basically, I have been terribly worried about a Huckabee candidacy and I thought that there wasn't one voting bloc in the GOP that was both larger and more fervent than the Evangelical-Christianist base. All the other groups have been betrayed in one way or another but Bush has been disastrously consistent with his entanglement with the Christian base. And they want Huckabee. So who can rally enough anti-Christian ire in the GOP base? The answer are the "security-cons" - those who vote to protect America from the screaming Arab hordes hell-bent on conquering America and making our women wear burkas.

Kristol seems to be less concerned with that and more about the ultimate prize (as he indicates early on in his column): the Supreme Court. And just like Bush, if they get the right handlers around Huckabee, they can maybe control him. The question I suspect you and I are asking is whether they think it'll be easier to destroy him in the primaries or see if he can be successfully controlled.

Because Huck is not a pure soul (he's a disgraceful liar, as we've seen in his denials about Wayne Dumond and his penchant for accepting expensive gifts) there's a good chance that he will hold out a for-sale sign soon. If he doesn't, then the GOP establishment will crucify him (ugh) and rally behind whoever is number 2 at that point (Romney, McCain or even Thompson who miraculously got #3 in Iowa and #2 in Wyoming).

Kristol and the WSJ just sent out a message to him that they will be willing to buy if he's willing to sell. What we need to look for, those of us with eyes to see detail, are signs that Huckabee is holding out that for-sale sign.

What would the sign look like? Maybe hiring a few of the "right" consultants; e.g. once Giuliani implodes once and for all, will his foreign policy team go bodily to McCain or will one or two go to Huck.

P.S. When Hillary was the presumptive (anointed) nominee, the GOP machine wanted a candidate who would be able to beat her soundly. Hence Rudy's appeal (and McCain, Romney etc). However Obama is rising and now looks strong enough to be the Democratic candidate... and he will beat the stuffing out of every one in the GOP field. With the possible exception of Huckabee. Put simpler: if Rudy was the Anti-Hillary, Huckabee may be the only one who can be an anti-Obama, and that's why Kristol/WSJ may end up supporting him.

Or at least that's why Kristol etc is sending out feelers - if Obama is nominated, then the GOP may feel they need Huckabee to have a fighting chance (or at pull a Goldwater and energize their only remaining solid base). However if Hillary pulls it off and beats Obama then they'll try to crush Huckabee to avoid a loss for what will be a decent shot at winning.

Backpost finished 2009-12-14. Note that I was correct - except Kristol found someone even more Christ-y, and more malleable, than Huck: Palin.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Policies or Personality

I've already been trumpeting my cynic cred, so I might as well go whole-hog. [Mmmmm, hog]. When choosing a politician to support as an executive - as opposed to legislator - there's wisdom in choosing personality over policies. One reason comes from the peculiar system called Federalism that we in the United States have had for a few centuries.

The president has NOTHING to do with making policy. Yeah, we've eroded those lines steadily through the years, most notably with W's 'signing statements' but (a) those were illegal, and (b) it's not the norm by any means. The president submits whichever ideas and policies he wants Congress to enact into laws and then Congress takes those ideas, defecates on the assorted documents the ideas were written on, then takes a fresh sheet of paper and piles money on top of that amid chunks of salt-pork from a big barrel. Viola, how a bill becomes a law.

The president is in charge of leading the nation by carrying out (or 'executing' like an 'executive') the laws of Congress. And that's about character, not policies.

Simply put, each of the major candidates this season - and every season - need to paint a picture of their attitudes and character. And that's what's sold, and purchased, by the electorate.

For example, in 2000 Gore was selling "I'm a big ol' Nerd and I will bore you to death about things you need to hear but won't bother hearing from me." Bush was selling "I am a Southern Cracker who likes to Party - before with hookers and beer but now with Jesus"

Note, that these were remarkably true personalty projections. Bush has spent our money on things that he thinks Jesus cares about: live stem cells and dead Arabs. And Gore is still annoying as all git-out to the point that most Republicans deny that there's global warming merely because Gore said it exists (using a freakin' slide show to do it... how nerdy A-V club do we need to be?!)

2004 was the battle between Flightsuit Bush and the Even More Annoying Nerd. [Note, I still cannot get over the fact that Bush wore a freakin' flightsuit to announce mission accomplished... even if it HAD been accomplished, it was tacky; now that its clear that it was a despicable lie, how can he still be not behind bars?!. [Barfing sounds]]

The Democratic contest is among three main candidates with three narratives:
  • Hillary = "Hi! I am Gore and Kerry but with Ovaries!" or "Do what I say or the puppy gets it!"
  • Edwards = "I am a very handsome, small town, Southerner who will fight for you, the small guy, against big business"
  • Obama = "I am young and handsome and want to tell the Baby Boomers to finally take their hellish ball of partisan warfare and go home."

    I like Edwards and Obama's messages - and chances in November. Because winning in November is all about attitude and not about policies. The last wonk who won POTUS was Nixon.
  • False Attack Against Iowa & New Hampshire

    I have criticized the primary process before and I think that NH & Iowa are bad states to begin the process but only because of their silly voting system (Iowa's caucus formulae requires a degree in multi-variable calculus and New Hampshire allows independents to vote).

    But I want to respond to charges like these (this one by Kevin Drum): "Am I feeling bitter? You bet.... Because we insist on an idiotic nominating system that gives a bunch of Iowa corn farmers 20x the influence of any Democratic voter in any urban area in the country."

    Kevin is not alone in his ire. So let me point two things out:
    1. the 2000 election was a dead-heat in one state - Florida - and hung on the fate of hanging chads
    2. the 2004 election, similarly, was hung on one state - Ohio.

    Ohio and Florida are swing states. And so are New Hampshire and Iowa.

  • Iowa = R-634,373 D-638,517 (4144 difference, D win)
  • NH = R-273,559, D-266,348 (7211 difference, R win)

  • Iowa = R-751,957 D-741,898 (10059 difference, R win)
  • NH = R-331,237 D-340,511 (9274 difference, D win)

    Just to make it clearer: both states were close in 2000 & 2004 and both states switched parties in between those elections (as a result of how close they are).

    So, to all the pundits who say that these two states, or any two states, shouldn't determine our candidates, I say:
    1. Florida and Ohio already have done that, and badly, so your ire is misplaced

    2. New Hampshire and Iowa are smaller than those two states but have the same role, so in a sense I don't really care who gets the first two as long as they will show how 'swing voters' act since they are the only one who count anyway.

    3. Being small states, they may be easier to campaign in so it may help the actual voters know the candidates instead of "learning" from the TV News or Jay Leno.

    Again, my ire against the two states comes about their processes (stated above) and not their influence. I'm too cynical to expect a much better system and smart enough to say that swing voters will have inordinate influence until we eject the Electoral College.
  • Bill Bradley Endorses Obama's Campaign

    From the NYTimes: Bill Bradley Endorses Obama's Campaign. And there ya go. Score another for the Styx!

    Obama's Veepstakes

    Note, see part 1 for the other dudes.

    Here we go. Obama is going to need someone who will balance his shortcomings, so he'll need a white male with a lot of DC government experience. Which means old white senators only. Which rules out Edwards. Hillary is also out (wrong gender, no actual experience, and she will melt when exposed to water or sunlight). However Dodd or Biden would fit the bill.

    I think Biden is a poor choice because he's a dingbat. With a loose tongue. He'll become a quick liability (but he could carry Delaware! Wooo!). Dodd would be a smart choice - old-school white-as-hell long-time-Senator. The biggest liability would be that Dodd's state (mine) has a Republican governor and if he wins then that will hurt the delicate Senate ratio. One solution would be for Dodd to make his allegiance early, say he's resigning from the Senate, and then allow for Democrat to run in CT in '08.

    Outside of the current candidates (and Dodd's the only one viable), the next question is: does Obama care if the VP is someone who had already endorsed Hillary? Almost all of the old guard has done so already. Will those dudes mind (I think not, because they probably signed up with her because they feared what would be her iron grip on their gonads that would come with her Inevitable Victory... they cheered on the insect overlords and may not have their hearts into it; and Obama seems to have the talent of turning enemies into friends, so maybe they'll go along with that).

    So, if Obama can accept people who have endorsed Hillary, then Bayh would be a good guy. Maybe Vilsack, if Hillary hasn't already eaten his heart with fava beans and a nice chianti. Bob Kerrey was always in the back of my mind as a tough customer (Medal of Honor Navy SEAL), but his recent Obama smear tarred him as (1) a schmuck, (2) unfriendly to Obama, and (3) a fruit-loop.

    Casting a wider net, I had thought someone like Sam Nunn would be good. But Nunn has established that he wants to be in the weirdo Bloomburgian third-party (the Everyone Else is Partisan But Not Us Because We're Otherwise Out of A Job Party) and only as the Presidential slot. So up his.

    Someone suggested Bob Graham - former Governor and Senator from Florida. That sounds ideal - swing state, old time white guy - except that he was born in 1936 (72 years old?!) and that's just too old.

    But swing state former Senators is a good start. What about Chuck Robb? Even though I'd have liked to see, on purely poetic grounds, a Dodd-Robb ticket, Robb is a former governor and Senator from Virginia who lost to George Allen in 2000. He'd be a great choice.

    If Obama wants all of the above issues (white, senator etc) and also more moderate support, then maybe people from the Democratic Leadership Council, or the New Democrat Coalition, or my beloved Blue Dogs. True, there's almost complete overlap in the three groups, but that's fine for this.

    The DLC (which brought us Bill Cliton, Al Gore, and Joe Lieberman - all winners in their elections), had Vilsack, Bayh, Nunn, and Robb (above) as leaders. Another DLC and NDC leader is John Breaux - a popular former Senator from Louisiana. I like Robb better.

    Before I decide on Robb (and then send that suggestion to the bloggers I read), I'll check this handy list of currently alive former Democratic senators, which is divided up by state and gives the ages, how nice. I will see who is under 70:
    • Whoa, Dale Bumpers is still alive! OK, not him, but kol ha-kavod to his doctors.
    • There's Max Cleland (D-GA), but I met him in person and I wasn't so impressed. And he had only one term, not so good for the 'DC experience'
    • Wyche Fowler (D-GA) - Rep. for 10 years, Senator for 1 term, then Clinton's ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Eh.
    • Carol Moseley Braun (D-IL). Just kidding.
    • Bill Bradley (D-NJ) - Now that's interesting. Born in '43. Hmm
    • David Boren (D-OK) - Oklahoma, another Governor-Senator deal. I just don't believe a Democrat can win over a deep-red state no matter who the running mate is. The best VP picks, I believe, will be popular swing state guys.
    • Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) - yeah, I know I said Democrats, but Chafee was pretty liberal, has recently changed his party affiliation to Independent, and that could really help a bipartisan push. And if Obama really wants to channel the Abraham Lincoln vibe, what a better way to remind people?
    • Tom Daschle (D-SD) - see Braun above.
    • Al Gore (D-TN) - ahem. Too bad. Did ya know, he's not even 60 yet?!
    And that's it. Well, from my list above, the best choices would be:
    1. Chris Dodd (current Senator, CT)
    2. Evan Bayh (current Senator, IN)
    3. Chuck Robb (former Senator, VA)
    4. Bill Bradley (former Senator, NJ)
    5. Lincoln Chafee (former Senator, RI)
    That's it for now. I will send my list to appropriate time-wasters.

    Saturday, January 05, 2008

    Glenn Greenwald Has a Good Point

    Glenn Greenwald is not my favorite political commentator (a little too knee-jerk lefty, especially about Israel), but he's a meticulous reporter and hard to argue against when he marshals his facts. In a recent column, he brings up a good point about how the grudging respect the Right Wing has for Obama will quickly turn sour. Yeah, we've all been predicting it, but he brings a good proof (and something I've marvelled at as well): "Hatred is their [the Right Wing Crazies] fuel. Just look at the bottomless personal animus they managed to generate over an anemic, mundane, inoffensive figure like John Kerry. At their Convention, they waved signs with band-aids mocking his purple hearts while cheering on two combat-avoiders."

    I dislike Kerry because he's everything I don't like about machine Democrats. But, the GOP whipped the country into a Kerry-bash frenzy that extended even until the '06 election (cf. "the botched joke").

    Note, that I don't think the Kerry-Gore hatred that the GOP created will work against Obama in the same way, just as it failed against Bill Clinton. The two men are natural politicians and charismatic as can possibly be. But it does mean that the same hatred that worked to almost impeached Clinton will be the same hatred brought against Obama.

    Except for one BIIIIG difference: the GOP used the hatred to take over Congress and that caused the impeachment. It would take multiple miracles for the GOP to regain the House in the next 2 election cycles.

    Hence why I'm not worried about the 'swift-boating' vs. Obama. The man has charisma which equals to Teflon. And the GOP is out of Congress, so all they can do is fan the race-bating flames. And I just don't know how well that flies in 2008.

    We're in a different world. The mainstreaming of black actors, black sports figures, and especially black music has made them less marginal figures than ever before. And since the GOP has been trying to attack the immigrants (read: Mexicans) for the past four years, that's made the black question more off the table.

    And, it very well may be that the bald-faced tokenism of Condi Rice has also inured many of the younger voters as well.

    Hillary's Slash and Burn

    One impression I get from analyzing Hillary is that she has no qualms in attacking her Democratic colleagues if they stand in the way of her ambitions. I've mentioned this before with what I find as an unnecessary ferocity in her back-swipes against Edwards and Obama. And everybody knows that attacks during the primaries are usually more vicious than during the general - and most likely to have long-term damage.

    But another Hillary crime, I fear, will be her active or passive sabotaging of any non-Hillary candidacy. I remember thinking back in 2004 that Bill (and Hillary) weren't helping Kerry nearly as much as they should have been. I was pissed back then and I had assumed that it was because they wanted to run in '08 and they wouldn't be able to do so if Kerry won in '04.

    Now that it's '08 and if Hillary loses this race, she can't afford to wait until '16 -- she'll be 70 and Bill will be (in all likelihood) dead. Her last chance, if she fails now, is '12. Which means that Obama will need to lose in '08.

    Which means that her attacks on Obama will be unrestrained on purpose. She needs to win now or for Obama to lose in November - and, lucky for her, both conclusions rely on the same tactics.

    The silver lining is that her attacks will need to be moderated by the studies/polling that will show that negativity by her emphasizes what so many people hate about her (and thus drive down her numbers). Also, Obama seems to have teflon-ized himself with the 'new politics' rhetoric that can jiu-jitsu every overt attack into a proof that his opponents (Hillary or GOP) are just practicing 'politics as usual.'

    Hillary's Self & Party Sabotage

    An interchange I had with the ever-gracious Prof. Kleiman, in response to his pointing out here that Hillary's camp is willing to sabotage Obama and the Party by giving the Republicans all the talking points they need:
    One impression I get from analyzing Hillary is that she has no qualms in attacking her Democratic colleagues if they stand in the way of her ambitions. In the past few months we've seen as an unnecessary ferocity in her back-swipes against Edwards and Obama. And everybody knows that attacks during the primaries are usually more vicious than during the general - and most likely to have long-term damage.

    But another Hillary crime, I fear, will be her active or passive sabotaging of any non-Hillary candidacy. I remember thinking back in 2004 that Bill (and Hillary) weren't helping Kerry nearly as much as they should have been. I was pissed back then and I had assumed that it was because they wanted to run in '08 and they wouldn't be able to do so if Kerry won in '04.

    Now that it's '08 and if Hillary loses this race, she can't afford to wait until '16 -- she'll be 70 and Bill will be (in all likelihood) dead. Her last chance, if she fails now, is '12. Which means that Obama will need to lose in '08.

    Which means that her attacks on Obama will be unrestrained on purpose. She needs to win now or for Obama to lose in November - and, lucky for her, both conclusions rely on the same tactics.

    The silver lining is that her attacks will need to be moderated by the studies/polling that will show that negativity by her emphasizes what so many people hate about her (and thus drive down her numbers). Also, Obama seems to have teflon-ized himself with the 'new politics' rhetoric that can jiu-jitsu every overt attack into a proof that his opponents (Hillary or GOP) are just practicing 'politics as usual.'
    His response:
    Nice analysis; hadn't thought of it that way. On the other hand, she might want to be Majority Leader -- a job she'd be good at -- and sabotaging the campaign would get in the way of that. Also, if Obama is the nominee he's going to win, whatever she does.
    My response back:
    Thanks for the kudos.

    I think that she would make a credible Majority Leader, but I see that job going next to Schumer who will be a *great* majority leader (I can't wait). But you're right about her ambitions may be kept in check by that possibility (which will mean she and her husband will just go for the '04 passive sabotage)

    And I also believe that if Obama gets the nomination that he will win - barring any scandal that we don't know about of course.

    And another angle I didn't mention: the Afro-American backlash against the Clintons if they keep up the heavy negative talk. Hillary may not care but Bill does.
    Backpost finished 2009-12-14.

    Friday, January 04, 2008

    Stick a Fork Into Edwards

    You know I'm an Edwards supporter. Not a fervent one, but he's still my favored candidate: he's the pre-1968 Democrat that we've needed for a while. But we've got two big enemies to defeat: first Hillary and second the GOP. Edwards has been building up a support/election team in Iowa since December 2004. And yeah, he came in second, and 30% is very respectable. But, Obama has exploded. Edwards is an unnecessary spoiler, and I want to win.

    He won't leave the race, as I said last night, until either: (1) every dollar is spent, (2) his wife dies, or (3) Obama offers him a good job, (4) all of the above. But I don't want his presence to confuse the anti-Hillary voters. Edwards had his chance to win in a low-speed state that he's spent a lot of time in... it's time to pack it in.

    Mind you, Obama is - of all the major candidates - the worst for Israel. But, even then, he can't be all that bad. While he talks up the internationalism rhetoric, the Clinton posture and the Bush posture hasn't been all that great either. Ironically, what's best for Israel comes from when Israel itself has a good leader. Clintons failures came from Rabin, Peres, Barak. Bush's failures from Olmert (and his, if you want to call it, successes from Sharon). Carter's success came from the best prime minister in Israel's history, the heilige Begin.

    The next US president's success in Israel will come from the next prime minister (and we can only hope it's not Barak or Bibi).

    Obama's Victory Speech

    More about last night in a moment, but just a few thoughts about Obama:

    1. I like hearing him talk. He's the first major candidate since who knows when who talks like an intelligent person. No more crackers (Jimmy, Bill, W), no more insensate wonks (Gore, Kerry), or just plain airheads (George HW Bush). He's a good speaker on just technical terms.

    2. There's intelligence and substance in his words. He says things which should be cliches but he puts the real meaning into the words. And he knows what and why he's saying the words. It's a script, for sure, but in the manner of a preacher and teacher, not a politician. I have a lot of respect for that.

    Hear his victory speech: