Media overpessimism on Iraq--Exhibit A.

A mostly political Weblog.
June 20 2005 12:17 AM

Mr. Pecker in a Pickle!

Plus--the LAT's wacky wikiness.

(Continued from Page 2)

WESTERVELT: ... I think General Myers has said for a long time and many Pentagon officials and White House officials have said that it can't just be a military solution to the Iraq insurgency. It has to also be a dual-tracked political and economic agenda that tries to bring some political stability to Iraq and economic prosperity and jobs. [Emphasis added]

At about the same time then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said "[i]t's a cycle and it doesn't have a simply political solution or a simply military solution. You have to come up with a political-military-economic solution to the challenge." ...

The now-derided euphoria following the January elections was all about such a political solution, no? [So, how is that political solution working out?--antiwar kf reader Not so bad  today.]
 12:16 P.M.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

It looks as if the aptly-named David Pecker's stewardship of the AMI tabloid empire may be facing a distinct ... absence of success. ... Somewhere two former editors of Premieremagazine are smiling. ... 4:17 P.M.

Sticky Wikiness: How could a McCain third party candidacy overcome the obstacle posed by the Constitution, which says that if no candidate achieves an electoral majority the race is decided by the House of Representatives, currently dominated by the two major parties? Numerous readers offered solutions to this dilemma (originally framed by Walter Dellinger below). But their responses raise as many questions as they answer!  

1. Many readers suggested that a plurality win by McCain could easily translate into an outright electoral college victory, thus avoiding the House entirely. "Clinton won 370 electoral votes with only 43% of the popular vote in 1992," notes reader J.S.  Ah, but this assumes states keep the winner-take-all statutes that govern the distribution of electoral votes in 48 states. "There was ... a lot or popular pressure recently to ditch [these statutes] anyway on principle," says D.P, .who predicts that if McCain threatens to sweep up huge blocs of electoral votes with only a 45% showing we'll see "a lot of high minded posturing from Dems and Reps about ... how we should ... allocate electors on a proportional basis."

2. Suppose McCain wins a mere plurality of electoral votes. "How can he avoid the race going into the House in the first place?," asks D.T., who (along with several other readers) has an answer: "Bargaining in the Electoral College itself." Under this scenario, blue-state Democratic electors--nominally pledged to, say, Hillary Clinton--will switch their votes to McCain rather than throw the race into the GOP-run House and see a more conservative Republican become President. That would be "faithless" of them. Doesn't mean it can't happen. Take it away, Timothy Noah!

3. The same sort of bargaining could occur in the House itself, with lesser-of-two-evils Democrats winning over enough moderate Republicans to take over a majority of state delegations on behalf of McCain. Reader C.S. suggests that during the election McCainiac swing voters would extract a pledge from Congressional candidates that they would support the plurality winner should the race be thrown into the House.

4. Which House would make the decision--the lame duck House elected in 2006 or the new House elected in 2008? Readers come down on both sides of this issue, noting that Jefferson was elected by the lame duck House in 1800, but that since then the 20th Amendment has moved up the date for seating the new House. I've been unable to find an answer to this seemingly simple question, which I thought had been resolved. (Emailing Norman J. Ornstein!) Secondary question: If the answer is given in a statute, couldn't the 2006 House, anticipating a McCain-GOP showdown, change that statute?

Update:  Ornstein says, "The House meets on January 6 to count the electoral votes and settle disputes. The new Congress meets on January 3.  So it is the new House." [Emph. added]

5. Inventive reader S.B. suggests that McCain could "flaunt the electoral college" by naming as his electors the very same people named by the Republican candidate. But wouldn't it be, like, illegal for an elector to be on two slates? If not would electors who got votes on the McCain slate and also on the GOP slate be able to add up those votes to gain victory? If they did, for whom would they vote in the Electoral College? Even Noah's mind reels!

P.S.: Meanwhile,E.J. Dionne spins a McCain/Bush scenario that ABC's  The Note condemns as "a bit in fantasyland."kf to E.J.: When The Note thinks you're crazy, that's when you're adding value! 12:14 P.M. link

Vacuum Detector: Isn't the administration overdue for some fight-back against the growing unpopularity of the Iraq War? Even if the polls overstate this unpopularity, even if they are driven by an overpessimistic media, the legend could easily become fact. ... At the moment the debate is being driven by suicide bombers,  Anthony Shadid and various Republicans cashing in their Strange New Respect by  calling for a withdrawal deadline. ... [This is the CW-ed True. But was it at 12:54?] 12:54 P.M. link

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

"More babies, young kids going hungry in US" That's the headline of an Agence France-Presse story. There's a similar headline on the link in  HuffPo--"More U.S. Kids Going Hungry While 2/3 of Population is Overweight."  But if you read the story all the way through, it turns out that the kids aren't going hungry. They're malnourished, which is not quite the same thing (and not unrelated to obesity):