Psst--We Don't Think He's Pro-Life Either: Michael Kinsley lets out a secret Democrats have been guarding closely of late--when it comes to loyalty to conservative positions, we don't think McCain's as bad as conservatives claim. We think he's worse! For example, Charles Krauthammer, listing McCain's apostasies, concedes that "he's held the line on abortions." Kinsley suggests that even that may be wishful, cheap date thinking:
McCain is perceived as authentic, which is a deeper form of honesty than mere truth-telling. He says he's antiabortion? Oh, he doesn't mean that.
For Kinsley, the election's win-win. ... 1:38 A.M.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Why the Right Hates Newsweek: Newsweek, in a piece on "Why the Right Hates McCain," contains only a short description of what the magazine calls
his compromise position on immigration reform. (McCain championed a bill with archliberal Ted Kennedy that would have allowed illegal aliens to participate in a worker-visa program. He later retreated.)
"Participate in a worker-visa program." I think the "compromise" did a little more than that! Permanent legalization, "path to citizenship," etc. How is any Newsweek reader going to understand "Why the Right Hates McCain" if the magazine rewrites recent history to make him look more reasonable? ... Nor is it clear he's really retreated. ... P.S.--The Wimp Factor! Now that McCain's the near-certain nominee, mags like Newsweek really need easy access to his aides, no? Just saying! Presidential candidates have retaliated by cutting off Newsweek'saccess before. ... 9:35 P.M.
Friday, February 15, 2008
I'm a day behind, and I feel the crushing weight of every minute, but isn't this kind of brilliant? ... 6:55 P.M.
'Sorry Charlie, you just didn't meet your numbers this quarter': Let me get this straight--Clinton strategist Mark Penn is McCain strategist Charlie Black's boss?... Not since James Carville battled it out with Mary Matalin in 1992 has it been so clear which campaign's top aide has the upper hand! Actually, that one was clearer. ... 3:57 P.M.
How is Obama not an unreconstructed lefty--Part III: Not only does he support charter schools, but--at least according the buried lede in the Democrats for Education Reform web site--he's willing to point out in public which major Dem interest group is against them:
At a Manhattan fundraiser I attended last April, a local charter school operator asked Obama why it was so hard to be a charter school person in the Democratic Party. His answer was thoughtful and measured, but he - not the person who asked the question - identified the teachers unions as the obstacle on the political side. He noted that the American public was hungry for change and that the unions' leadership was going to have to decide whether they want to be in on it, or be completely left behind. [Emphasis added]
But, and this is the interesting part, he said if studies end up showing that children are benefiting from vouchers, he wouldn't allow his skepticism to stand in the way of doing something to help them.
"You do what works for the kids," Obama said. [Emphasis added]
When Obama says that near the beginning of his videotaped interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he seems to be maybe just be play-acting the role of someone arguing with a voucher skeptic. But at the end of the interview he declares:
I will not allow sort of my predispositions to stand in the way of making sure that our kids can learn. We're losing several generations of kids and something has to be done.
You think that's what he said when he answered the NEA's questions earlier in the campaign? ... Update: Back in July, he responded to the American Federation of Teachers questionnaire with what the AFT wanted to hear:
We need to invest in our public schools and strengthen them, not drain their fiscal support. And for this reason I do not support vouchers. In the end, vouchers would reduce the options available to children in need. I fear these children would truly be left behind in a private market system. [E.A.]
Hey, it's his contradiction. Let him explain it. But I note that back in July he was a dark horse candidate sucking up to the unions like every other Dem. Now the power relations is at least partly reversed--if he says something the union doesn't like, it's not clear what they can do about it. They could back Hillary, but that's not likely to endear them to Obama if he wins. [Also now he's telling the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ed board what it wants to hear--ed You don't like consistency?]
More: The New York Sun adds:
Asked the same voucher question by the Milwaukee paper, Senator Clinton had a strong response, saying she opposes vouchers because they hurt public schools and could also open up the possibility of using taxpayer dollars to finance dangerous schools including training grounds for "jihad."
The president of the National Education Association, Reginald Weaver, told The New York Sun today that he believes Mr. Obama still opposes vouchers. ... He said that in conversations he expects to ask Mr. Obama to affirm his position on vouchers.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Formaldehyde makes me paranoid: From the NYT coverage of the Katrina-trailer scandal--
''I don't understand why FEMA bought trailers in the first place that were dangerous,'' said Henry Alexander, 60, who has been living in a trailer since February 2006.
1) Hmm. Isn't the issue why anyone is building trailers in the first place that are dangerous? This doesn't seem like a FEMA scandal. It seems like a trailer-industry scandal. Most victims of poisonous trailers are probably a) not Katrina victims and b) actually paying good money for their carcinogenic trailers. 2) Is FEMA using the formaldehyde issue as a prod to move people out of the trailers--something it's apparently been trying to do for a while, perhaps to avoid creating a permanent class of free-trailer dwellers? In other words, maybe FEMA wants this scandal (and the press is obligingly giving it to them). ... 11:56 P.M.
If a Hispanic who has performed as poorly and prominently as Patti Solis Doyle can't be fired without her employer getting grief from Hispanic leaders, isn't that a pretty big disincentive to hiring a Hispanic in the first place? Message: Stick to white males--if they screw up, you can sack them and nobody will whine. ... 9:03 P.M.
Ellisblog makes a rare appearance to wallow in Clintonfreude. ... 8:53 P.M.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
"[Edwards] thinks Obama is kind of a pussy. He has real questions about Obama's toughness ..."
It's a Dem group! It's a 'swing' group! In Mark Penn's big electability memo, he identifies Hillary Clinton's strengths when compared with Obama:
Sen. Obama will have to fall back on core Democratic voters to stay competitive with McCain. But this is where Hillary has already built a powerful base, with overwhelming support among women, Latino voters, and other stalwarts of the Democratic Party. [E.A.]
A paragraph later, women and Latinos are back, this time as a "swing" voters:
And Hillary's core voters - working class, women, Latinos, Catholics - are exactly the voters that comprise the key swing voters the party has needed in the past to win.
I suppose it's possible that women and Latinos are "core Democratic voters" who nevertheless might desert the party on a moment's notice against McCain--though that would suggest the Democratic core is near-evanescent. It's also possible that a lot of core Dem voters are women and a lot of swing voters are women--indeed it would be odd if they weren't. But it's also possible that "women" and "Latinos" have to do double duty for Penn because there aren't a lot of other groups he can brag about. ...[Tks to emailer Y] 1:08 P.M.
Didn't Ron Fournier kind of bury the lede in his story on how the Clinton's "selfishness" is coming back to bite them? This from the 15th graf:
Bill Richardson, a former U.N. secretary and energy secretary in the Clinton administration, refused to endorse [Hillary] even after an angry call from the former president? "What," Bill Clinton reportedly asked Richardson, "isn't two Cabinet posts enough?" [E.A.]
P.S.: From Fournier's piece, it's clear that what's hurting the Clintons with the Democratic "superdelegates" isn't necessarily their "selfishness," but rather their centrism:
And they are not all super fans of the Clintons. Some are labor leaders still angry that Bill Clinton championed the North American Free Trade Agreement as part of his centrist agenda. Some are social activists who lobbied unsuccessfully to get him to veto welfare reform legislation, a talking point for his 1996 re-election campaign. I thought we've been told that even mainstream liberals now accept the success of the 1996 welfare reform? ... Maybe that success just makes them angrier! (Not only did they lose, but they were then discredited.) ...[via Drudge] 12:06 P.M. ___________________________ Tuesday, February 12, 2008 The Hillary Campaign's New Pitch: You can hear the crowds chanting, "Factored In! Factored In!" ...[Thks. to reader J.P.] 5:54 P.M.
And they are not all super fans of the Clintons.
Some are labor leaders still angry that Bill Clinton championed the North American Free Trade Agreement as part of his centrist agenda.
Some are social activists who lobbied unsuccessfully to get him to veto welfare reform legislation, a talking point for his 1996 re-election campaign.
I thought we've been told that even mainstream liberals now accept the success of the 1996 welfare reform? ... Maybe that success just makes them angrier! (Not only did they lose, but they were then discredited.) ...[via Drudge] 12:06 P.M.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
The Hillary Campaign's New Pitch: You can hear the crowds chanting, "Factored In! Factored In!" ...[Thks. to reader J.P.] 5:54 P.M.
Heck of a Job, Patti: It's Not Nice to Get Josh Green Spiked! Green opens the notebook from his cancelled GQ piece and lets Clinton's ex-campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle (and by extension, Hillary) have it:
She was infamous among her colleagues for referring to herself as "the queen bee" and for her habit of watching daytime soap operas in her office. One frequent complaint among donors and outside advisers was that Solis Doyle often did not return calls or demonstrate the attention required in her position
It's actually not a hatchet job, but a fairly subtle analysis of Solis Doyle's role and Hillary's disturbingly Bush-like management style. (For "Solis Doyle," read "Rumsfeld"). ...My only quibble: Don't donors always complain they don't get their phone calls returned? ... 2:55 P.M.
The Sid Is Out There: Jonathan Tilove's story on the 'Cult of Obama' meme is more useful for the light it sheds on the 'Sidney Blumenthal's emails are the dark matter of the Internet' meme:
Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson denied Monday that the Clinton campaign was doing anything to push the cult-of-Obama meme.
But Sidney Blumenthal, a senior Clinton adviser, did e-mail the Media Matters posting to a list of influential persons, including reporters.
Asked about that, Blumenthal replied by e-mail that the e-mail in question was "off the record. I send some published articles to close friends. However you received one, it was not intended for you, or any other reporter, and you should tell me how my personal confidence was broken and you happened to receive it."
Wow. a) Controlling! In a characteristically Hillaryesque fashion, someone like Stephen Kaus might say; b) Incompletely truthful!Tilove says there are several reporters on Blumenthal's list of 'close friends,' including John Judis and Joe Conason; c) Wackily unrealistic! Who thinks they can email something to--how many? tens? dozens? hundreds?--of their "close friends" and successfully keep it secret? Anyway, "reporting" involves writing about things that are "not intended" to fall into the hands of reporters. Duh! Blumenthal seems to think journalists like Tilove have an obligation to squeal on their sources when its his expectation of secrecy that's violated. Imagine how Nixon felt! ... P.S.: I don't doubt that Blumenthal's emails have a collegial purpose--i.e., they're not simply designed to drive press coverage. But they also have that effect. Ask Trent Lott. ... 12:12 P.M. link
Monday, February 11, 2008
How is Obama not an unreconstructed lefty?--Part II: Asked to "[n]ame some issues where you've been willing to stand up against your party," Obama responds with charter schools:
BO: I've consistently said, we need to support charter schools. I think it is important to experiment, by looking at how we can reward excellence in the classroom.
JH: Have teacher's unions been an impediment to that kind of reform?
BO: What I will say is that they haven't been thrilled with me talking about these kinds of issues.
Obama also answers: "I think it is important for us to be in favor of trade ..."
P.S.: Alert reader J.S. digs up the following Obama quote about welfare:
"At a certain point, welfare got separated from the idea of work," Obama said. "There was the welfare rights movement, and people started talking as if you were just entitled to an income, whether you were trying or not. And ordinary working people — black and white — would hear that and say, 'Now hold on a second. I'm getting up at 4:30 in the morning and taking a bus two hours to get to a job, and you're telling me that you have a right to something,' and they resent it. Work has to be an important component of any anti-poverty agenda."
Sounds good, though it would be more reassuring if Obama didn't typically express such sentiments by putting them in the heads of others (e.g., "ordinary working people," whom progressives have to placate). The main trouble is the flexibility in the joints of his sentences. I could write a welfare bill completely consistent with that paragraph that would completely gut the 1996 welfare reform law. You'd require that someone determine recipients were "trying"--but define "trying" as attending a day of a community college class. You'd make work "an important component" but not rigorously require it--and indeed you'd prevent states that wanted to be too rigorous from trying the tougher approach.
More important, there are plenty of House Democrats who will want to write a welfare bill completely consistent with that paragraph that would completely gut the 1996 welfare reform law! Obama may not want them to do that--he may personally opppose it--but unless he has someone like Bruce Reed watching them like a hawk they're going to try to send him that bill. Triangulation ain't easy!
What kind of President would watch them like a hawk? A President who was scared to death of being labelled a backslider on welfare and work, who was heavily invested in his or her image as a neolib reformer on the issue. At the moment, Hillary Clinton seems more like that potential President. 8:32 P.M. link
[Senator Clinton] was asked a question from a Politico.com reader in Santa Monica, Calif., who was seeking assurance that "no new business or personal scandal involving Bill Clinton" could erupt if she were in the White House and give fodder to Republicans.
"You know, I can assure this reader that that is not going to happen," she said. "You know, none of us can predict the future, no matter who we are and what we are running for, but I am very confident that that will not happen."
Isn't that the LAT's cue (and everyone else's too) to run with whatever undernews they have on Bill? ... P.S.: I was nowhere near Santa Monica. ... OK, I was in Santa Monica. But it wasn't me. ... P.P.S.: Elsewhere in the interview Hillary sounds suspiciously Edwards-like in advocating confrontation rather than cooperation with opposing interests:
I will work with Republicans to find common cause whenever I can. But I will also stand my ground because there are fights worth having.
Taking Edwards' campaign advice for a day or two, of course, would be an inexpensive way to suck up to him while seeking his endorsement. ...
Forget "comprehensive." Just give us the amnesty! According to Roll Call, House Democrats are plotting to move "scaled-down immigration reform legislation" this year--a five-year visa for illegals "who pay fines and pass criminal background checks." ... I'd know more if I subscribed to Roll Call! ... Malkin has a bit more. ... Initial takes:
a) Bad for McCain, right? Just when he's papered over his split with the right on immigration, this would reopen the wound. Maybe that's the Dems point. ... Maybe it's also an attempt to gin up the Latino vote for November. But the Latino vote seems already ginned up. (Does it stay ginned if the bill actually passes?) Meanwhile, it risks waking up the otherwise somnolent right-wing vote, no?
b) Bad for Rahm Emanuel's swing-district Democratic first-termers who campaigned on tough-on-illegal-immigration platforms, no? If it ever comes to a vote, will they reveal to their electorates that it was all just a pose? ...
c) But not an unclever strategy, if you are a pro-legalization Congressperson and want to strike while Hispandering Season is at its height. ...
d) Presumably McCain is now honor bound to oppose this, having pledged to push legalization only after "widespread consensus that our borders are secure." (If he sticks to his word, it might actually wind uphelping him in November, you'd think.) But what about Hillary and Obama? If Obama supports it and Hillary opposes it, does that give her the policy contrast she needs going into Ohio and Pennsylvania? ...
e) Can you pass a big bill like this in a presidential election year? Well, welfare reform passed in 1996. The key difference? Welfare reform was overwhelming popular, virtually across the board. The fight was largely over who could claim credit for it. Congressmen weren't worried that someone might run an ad accusing them of making welfare recipients go to work.
f) Is this a tacit admission by the legalization caucus that a semi-amnesty might not be as easy to pass in the next president's first two years than you might think (given that all three contenders are formally pro-legalization). ...
g) Or is this an expression of fear that local get-tough enforcement measures, in states like Oklahoma and Arizona, might already be having a surprising effect (at encouraging emigration, and at prompting other states to follow suit). Remember the stunning statistic that, even with current enforcement measures, the
growth rate of the U.S. Mexican-born population has dropped by nearly half to 4.2% in 2007 from about 8% in 2005 and 2006 ... [E.A.]
That's the Democrats' long-anticipated future evaporating right there. Is that why Rep. Emanuel says:
"There are things that are happening in our respective communities and districts around the country and businesses that we have to address and we can't wait for the Senate," ...
More: I've now read the full Roll Call piece. Much of the legislative impetus, at least according to reporter Steven Dennis, is "pressure from more conservative Democrats who back" the enforcement-oriented Shuler bill, not the five-year legalization visa idea. These conservative Dems "want to be able to cast a vote they can run on," according to Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.). Is the quickie visa just an attempt to sweeten the Shuler bill to the satisfaction of the Democrats' Latino caucus? ... 3:42 P.M. link
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Justice Graham? Could President McCain get his pal Lindsey Graham onto the Supreme Court? Powerline's Paul Mirengoff thinks Graham would be a "formidable" nominee. I'm not so sure--wouldn't he face opposition from both left and right, some of it intense? He's also sneeringly self-righteous--not the modern confirmation-hearing model. ... 1:54 P.M.
2006: I can't believe I said this. ...1:15 P.M.
a) Latinos are as important a voting bloc in swing states as pundits tell us they are; and
b) many Latino voters don't want to vote for Obama, not because they know Hillary better or because they are grateful to President Clinton for rescuing Mexico during the "Tequila crisis" of 1994 (Dick Morris' explanation) but because ... well, they don't much like African-Americans**
c) doesn't it follow that Hillary has a big general election advantage Obama can't match, in that a large chunk of the Latino vote might abandon an Obama-led Democratic ticket and vote for immigration-friendly John McCain?
I'd guess (a) is a weaker link here than (b). ... P.S.: Conversely, do you think the African-American vote would abandon Clinton in a general election against McCain? That seems more far-fetched, though Robert Novak has suggested it. ...
**--Sorry, I forgot to use a euphemism. I meant to say that there is a "history of often uneasy ... relations" because of "conflicts over local resources"! ... 2:13 A.M. link
It ma y be that sensible Republican voters are rebelling againstMcCain-bashing orthodox conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, etc. But to write a column dismissing those figures for "emphasizing a host of small-bore litmus tests" and not even mention the major policy conflict over immigration seems like intellectual cowardice verging on dishonesty--or else really bad editing by the NYT. ... Not quite like attacking Eugene McCarthy for challenging LBJ and not mentioning Vietnam. But close. ... [via Lucianne] ... Update: Douthat responds with exceptional non-defensiveness and good faith. He says he left out immigration because it was one of the issues on which he tended to agree with McCain's conservative critics:
A focused critique that stuck to his immigration position, I suspect, would have done far more damage to his political viability - and/or forced him into more specific concessions than he's actually made - than the sweeping and implausible attempt to read him out of American conservatism entirely.
Then say that! ... P.S.: There should be a phrase for the improvements you come up with in an MSM piece only after its been printed and disseminated to millions around the world and you've started responding to critics online. Esprit de l'Eschaton? ... 1:41 A.M. link
Thursday, February 7, 2008
1) He pledges to appoint "judges of the character and quality of Justices Roberts and Alito." [E.A.] "Character and quality"? What about legal ideology? John Paul Stevens arguably has the "character and quality" of Roberts and Alito. He's just a legal liberal. Is there any chance that McCain will appoint someone who would curtail campaign finance reform on First Amendment grounds?
2) McCain said that "only after we achieved widespread consensus that our borders are secure" would he pursue the semi-amnesty part of his immigration reform. This non-trivial concession would be more reassuring if proponents of that reform didn't righteously claim a 'widespread consensus' in its favor in 2006 and 2007. ("[A]national consensus has formed around what the president calls 'comprehensive' immigration reform."-- Fred Barnes, May, 2006.)
3) McCain said he had "respect" for opponents of his immigration plan (which he didn't renounce) "for I know that the vast majority of critics to the bill based their opposition in a principled defense of the rule of law." Not like those others who base their opposition on bigoted yahoo nativism! McCain's semi-conciliatory words aren't what you say when you really respect your opposition--then you say "I know we have honest disagreements." Not "I know most of you aren't really racists." Even his suckup betrayed how he really feels. Which I suspect is sneering contempt! (See his former campaign manager and informal adviser Mike Murphy, who--writing under cover of a pseudonym-- likened Tom Tancredo to the "Bund"!). .... 10:49 P.M. link
Remind me again, what is the evidence--in terms of policies, not affect or attitude or negotiating strategy--that Obama is not an unreconstructed lefty (on the American spectrum--a paleoliberal or a bit further left)? For example, would he roll back welfare reform if he could? ... P.S.: One way to know Obama isn't the black Gary Hart: He's been endorsed by Gary Hart. .... Update-Reminders: Obama "fails to denounce" free trade. OK, that's one. ... More: This site, featuring anonymous posts on what he was like as a law prof, is worth monitoring. Most troubling post so far:
I took his Voting Rights Class at UChicago Law at the crack of dawn. His class was still packed. He was incredibly charasmatic and engaging, but is really, really, far-left liberal in the socialism completely rocks kind of way.
There are also untroubling posts. ...
Cutting Edge Visuals: Anderson Cooper has nothing like this. ... 4:13 P.M.
Marion Barry to endorse Obama: Isn't there something Obama can do to stop this? 12:26 P.M.
Wednesday, February 6 2008
Headline in LAT: "With No Losers, the Fight Goes On." No Losers? There were too! a) Romney! b) The LAT! And not just for a comically weak headline. The front page of the local paper I bought this morning gives the California Dem vote as "Hillary Rodham Clinton ... 54% Barack Obama ... 34%." That's twice the actual spread (which was 52-42.) There is a caveat about "partial results" but it's attached to the national delegate estimates, not the state vote; c) Zogby! His final poll in California had Obama up 13. Yow. He explains his error here. He's good at explaining his errors. Practice! d) California's Assembly Speaker Fabien Nunez and Senate president Don Perata! The Democrats they led had promised to reform gerrymandered districting. They didn't. But they did put a measure on the ballot to extend Nunez and Perata's terms. It lost. Bye! ... 9:59 P.M.
Bye, Bye Immigration? I've now heard two** Latino commentators--an NPR academic and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa--argue that it's mistaken to try to appeal to Latinos only through the issue of immigration, Latinos also care deeply about schools, economic development, etc.
Now they tell us! For years we've been hearing little except the argument that anyone who doesn't deliver on "comprehensive immigration reform" was going to lose the crucial sleeping giant ethnic swing vote for a generation. Suddenly it's 'Don't be condescending. There are other ways to win over Hispanics.' Glad to hear it.
But why this shift now? I can think of several theories: 1) Obama tried pandering to Latinos on amnesty and drivers' licenses and it didn't work; 2) Now that California is out of the way, Democrats are looking to the general election, and are therefore trying to move away from the immigration issue because a pro-amnesty and pro-license position would cost them centrist votes; Indeed, after his week of immigration-based Hispandering, Obama didn't even mention those issues (or Latinos) in his laundry-listish Election Night speech, at least as far as I can hear. 3) Specifically, Democrats are preparing for a general election campaign against McCain. The legalization issue won't cut against McCain, who is Mr. Legalization. So Dems have to emphasize other issues--e.g., their traditional support for public schools. And maybe--just maybe--they are setting set the stage for a sneak attack against McCain from his right (at least by Hillary, perhaps on the license issue). 4) The Dems are looking beyond even the general election to governing, and they are trying to avoid leaving Latinos with the expectation that "comprehensive reform" will actually be accomplished early in Clinton or Obama's term--something the Dems have no intention of doing because they want to concentrate on health care; 5) Latinos recognize that by seeming to be single issue voters focused obsessively on allowing more Latinos into the country, they are giving themselves a bad name with everyone else. ...
**--I know--it takes one more to be a Trend. I'm jumping on early. ... 2:02 A.M. link
Double Trouble-When did Theresa LePore move to town? I voted today in Los Angeles and can confirm the complaints from the Obama campaign that the so-called "double bubble" ballot given to non-partisan voters was confusing. Independents were allowed to vote in the Democratic primary, but if they didn't check a little box at the top of the list (in addition to picking a candidate) the machine didn't count their votes. ... I suppose if you read the instructions carefully you could figure it out. I was in a hurry, almost didn't notice the box and only bothered to verify that as a Democrat I didn't have to check it. ... But that raises the question of why the box had to be there at all. If the machine knows I'm a Democrat--and therefore don't have to check the box--that must be because I was given a special Democrat ballot. Which means there must be another kind of ballot--an independent ballot. Which means the machine already knows, if you get an independent ballot and vote in the Democratic primary that you are an independent voting in the Democratic primary! Checking the box is redundant. Why require it? .... One reason it is so confusing, in other words, is because it's nonsensical. ...I'm sure many, many independents wound up not having their votes counted, which presumably cost Obama. ... P.S.: Unless, of course, my vote wasn't counted either. [Whom for?--ed Not telling]
29%: Did Latinos really make up 29% of California Democratic voters, and blacks only 6%? Those are the numbers from the exit polls you hear bandied about--but there appear to be some doubters. ... In the 2004 Dem primary--admittedly, not an early and exciting contest like this years--the figures were 16% Latino, 8% black, notes Blumenthal. How did the African American share go down with Obama in the race? ... Update: Are missing absentee ballots the explanation? ... Valued anecdotal evidence: From emailer Y:
me and my girlfriend vote at heavily Latino precincts in Hollywood. Turn out was not especially heavy -- there were no more than a signature or two on each page on the sign in sheets when we voted mid-day, and the poll workers were saying things were slow.
12:03 A.M. link
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Pollster.com's Mark Blumenthal is liveblogging and, more important, posting his own state-by-state projections based on public exit poll data. ... Should be faster than all the results that are better and better than all the results that are faster! ... So far it looks as if McCain is losing to both Huckabee and Romney in Georgia, but barely. ... 4:33 P.M.
American Apparel, giant L.A.-based maker of mostly crappy t-shirts, has apparently sent an email to its employees urging them to vote for McCain or Obama because Hillary has shown an insufficient "committment" to immigrant legalization ... P.S.: You mean a huge, rich company can send an email urging its captive audience of workers to vote for Obama, but if I spend $1,001 starting a Web site or handing out leaflets on the street for the same purpose I have to pay a lawyer to register with the federal government as a "political committee"? ... Update: American Apparel's campaigning may be, you know, not so legal. ...11:31 A.M. link
"It's all about the Giants winning," said Greg Packer, 44 ..." ... 1:38 A.M.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Mike Murphy, over the top! Gloating about the "anti-immigrant Bund." Close to a violation of the Hitler Rule, no? In my neighborhood that's who the Bund supported. ... Anyway, since Murphy's an informal McCain adviser, his rhetoric--he also throws around "nativist"--offers a good clue as to what the McCain camp really thinks on the immigration issue, despite McCain's recent claims that he "got the message" after the defeat of his mass-legalization bill. ... 'I'll secure the goddamned border if those racists want it' seems like a fair summary.** ...
**--A more cynical summary would be: 'I'll pretend to secure the goddamned border ...' ... 2:01 P.M. link
(If a tree surges in the forest but everybody's already voted ...: In California, "half the ballots cast in the primary will be absentee ballots." I didn't realize the absentee proportion was that high. A big boost for Hillary given the recent Obama surge. ... Q: Does heavy, early absentee voting undermine the Drama Principle or reinforce it? In this case, it's arguably making the race more exciting. ... 1:20 P.M.
Clinton campaign announces new theme song! 1:01 P.M.
Mickey's Single Issue Voter's Guide: Suppose you were a single issue voter, and your single issue was immigration. Specifically, you were opposed to legislation that combines some form of amnesty (legalization of existing illegal immigrants) with tougher border enforcement. If so, you would probably be pretty depressed right now--three of the four leading presidential candidates explicitly favor such "comprehensive" reform. The fourth, Mitt Romney is the least likely to win. And even he's suspected of being a closet comprehensivist.
But you still have to vote. Before you did, you'd want to ask: Which of the three pro-legalization candidates is least likely to accomplish their legislative goal? When you think about it this way, a clear and somewhat surprising ranking of top three emerges.
1) Hillary Clinton would probably be the best president for anti-comprehensivists. She's cautious. She's been burned by GOP opposition before (to her 1994 health plan). Is she really going attempt both health care reform and immigration reform in her first two years? Remember, Rahm Emmanuel's swing-state Democratic congressmen typically ran tough-on-illegals campaigns. They're squeamish about voting for "amnesty." If Hillary is president (meaning John McCain isn't president) the Republicans are likely to unite against a Democratic legalization plan. Meanwhile, Hillary's political adviser James Carville is on record suggesting that legalization, like welfare, is a potential election-loser. Hillary suppporter Paul Krugman seems one of those remaining economists who actually believe in supply and demand--i.e., that an increase in the supply of immigrant labor can drive down unskilled wages. And Hillary herself has made anti-illegals noises in the past, including reversing her endorsement of Gov. Spitzer's drivers license plan.
2) Barack Obama, on the other hand, may actually believe his standard-left immigration positons. He's shown an ability to bridge the partisan divide and get things done. All deeply troubling, in this case.. But at least he too would have a hard time getting both a health care plan and immigration legislation through Congress against opposition from Republicans (McCain having lost).
3) President McCain would seem like a replay of George W. Bush. Bush couldn't get his "comprehensive" immigration plan through, even with a Democratic Congress. What would be different with McCain? Quite a bit. a) McCain's likely to be more popular, at least if Iraq continues to improve; b) The Democrats are likely to have bigger Congressional majorities; c) McCain might be able to claim voter validation of his long-standing pro-legalization views. Certainly the Republicans wouldn't be united against a McCain "comprehensive" bill. Unlike Clinton and Obama, McCain doesn't have ambitious New Dealish health legislation that would compete for his and Congress' time and energy.
True, it would still be difficult to pass a McCainish immigration plan--you can imagine the Democrats splitting just like Republicans when faced with something that might actually become law. McCain would have campaigned on his pledge to secure the borders--his current plan for a quickie assurance by "border state" governors might be too transparent a ploy (especially if the press was reporting a continuing flow of illegals). Nevertheless,,McCain seems clearly the worst of the three possibilities, from an anti-comprehensivist perspective.
I'm not saying voters should be single-issue voters. I'm not saying I'm going to vote for Hillary. I'm just saying ...
P.S.: OK,, I'm not just just saying. If I thought either Clinton or Obama would do a much better job on health care, that would be one thing. But both seem well-positioned to actually pass some big, broad health plan. An immigration plan, on the other hand, seems much iffier. It could pass or fail depending on who's president. And, unlike a health care plan, an immigration legalization bill is likely to have large, irreversible consequences. Misconceived health plans can be altered or repealed (remember "catastrophic insurance"?). But if a misconceived immigration amnesty attracts millions of new illegal entrants who then have to be given citizenship--on top of the new citizens created by the amnesty itself--it won't just lower unskilled wages etc. It will profoundly alter the very electorate that will have to consider any future change of course.
In this context, single-issue voting could be a highly responsible course.
Vote Hillary. She won't get it done! ... 2:15 A.M. link
Sunday, February 3, 2008
The Drama Principle:
Q: What do you get when you combine the Feiler Faster Thesis(voters are comfortable processing info quickly) with the Theory of the Two Electorates (the mass of voters who don't follow politics are less informed than they used to be and only tune in at the last minute) with the 50-50 Forever theory (elections will be close from here on out as competing parties and candidates continually adjust to please 51% of the voters--and the ideological and institutional barriers to this adjustment dissolve)?
A: You get elections that are a) close but b) might not look close three, two, or even one day before the vote. Typically, one candidate A will be ahead, but Candidate B will start surging, or A will start collapsing. with startling rapidity as the late-tuning electorate rushes to rapidly learn about the race just in time to vote. Candidate B will look like he or she is, yes, racing against the clock! But that could be deceptive. It could not be so much that voters are changing their minds from A to B--if B only had two more days B would win!--so much as that they are all making up their minds once and for all, in quite orderly fashion, but only doing this at the very end (if B had two more days it wouldn't make a difference).
Daily tracking polls that end on Monday might not be good enough in this situation. You'd need hourly tracking polls that start on Monday morning. ... We do seem to be seeing a lot of last minute surges and surprises lately, no? ... 2:55 P.M. link
Friday, February 1, 2008
Cardinal Murphy has word of a poll showing Obama tied in ... California. Yikes. Is the Hispandering working? That would fit with the Skurnik "Two Electorates" theory--most Latino voters, like most other voters, tune in only for the last few days, and what theynow see is Obama talking about giving drivers' licenses to illegals. ... 3:55 P.M.
The Annotated Pander: Barack Obama presented himself after Iowa as the candidate who "won't just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to know." But that was then.
Now, if you're a Latino voter, he'll just tell you what you want to hear. He's in the middle of a desperate Hispandering initiative, which culminated in this exchange last night, which I've annotated:
CUMMINGS: This is from Kim Millman (ph) from Burnsville, Minnesota. And she says, "there's been no acknowledgement by any of the presidential candidates of the negative economic impact of immigration on the African-American community. How do you propose to address the high unemployment rates and the declining wages in the African-American community that are related to the flood of immigrant labor?"
Senator Obama, you want to go first on that? And it's for both of you.
OBAMA: Well, let me first of all say that I have worked on the streets of Chicago as an organizer with people who have been laid off from steel plants, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and, you know, all of them are feeling economically insecure right now, and they have been for many years. Before the latest round of immigrants showed up, you had huge unemployment rates among African-American youth.
And, so, I think to suggest somehow that the problem that we're seeing in inner-city unemployment, for example, is attributable to immigrants, I think, is a case of scapegoating that I do not believe in, I do not subscribe to. 
And this is where we do have a very real difference with the other party.
OBAMA: I believe that we can be a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.
Now, there is no doubt that we have to get control of our borders. We can't have hundreds of thousands of people coming over to the United States without us having any idea who they are 
I also believe that we do have to crack down on those employers that are taking advantage of the situation, hiring folks who cannot complain about worker conditions, who aren't getting the minimum wage sometimes, or aren't getting overtime. We have to crack down on them.  I also believe we have to give a pathway to citizenship after they have paid a fine and learned English, to those who are already here, because if we don't, they will continue to undermine U.S. wages.
But let's understand more broadly that the economic problems that African-Americans are experiencing, whites are experienc[ing], blacks and Latinos are experiencing in this country are all rooted in the fact that we have had an economy out of balance. We've had tax cuts that went up instead of down. We have had a lack of investment in basic infrastructure in this country. Our education system is chronically underfunded.
And so, there are a whole host of reasons why we have not been generating the kinds of jobs that we are generating. We should not use immigration as a tactic to divide. Instead, we should pull the country together to get this economy back on track.
: "Scapegoating" does for me what "timetable" apparently does for John McCain--it signals complete, maddening ideological disconnect. It's typically used by liberals--as it is here--in a doomed attempt to make a social problem highlighted by conservatives simply go away. You see it wasn't that welfare subsidized an isolated culture of non-work and broken families that produced poverty and crime--welfare recipients were just "scapegoats" for economic frustrations caused by a bad economy! And it's not that illegal immigration lowers unskilled wages and makes it harder for blacks to escape that inner-city culture of poverty. That's "scapegoating" also. (African-Americans who complain about immigrants must just be too foolish to figure that out.)
This isn't the language of a politician who wants to transcend partisan difference. This is the language of a politician who wants to wallow in partisan (and ideological) cant! Obama knows better, of course--he gave a very different answer at the time of the big immigration marches of May, 2006 [E.A.]:
It does appear that undocumented workers have a somewhat adverse effect in depressing the wages of low-skill workers, which is why in the African-American community, for example, there is some nervousness of about the number of undocumented workers that are coming into this country and whether they are systematically replacing or pushing out low-skill, low-wage black workers.
I doubt he's changed his mind. He's just pandering.
 Obama can't even bring himself to say that the problem of losing control of the borders is the number of illegal immigrants who come in. No, it's just that we don't know "who they are"! The suggestion to his target constituency is that he's happy with unlimited immigration as long as all those tens of millions of immigrants are identified. ...
 Most pathetically, he says he wants to crack down on employers who violate minimum wage laws, etc, but can't even bring himself to say he would crack down on employers because they hire illegals. Sanctions against such employers--even if they pay the minimum wage--are the conventional core of the "comprehensive" enforcement-for-amnesty deal. Often Democrats overeemphasize these sanctions as a way of bashing employers instead of immigrants and avoiding talk of a fence. But this week, apparently, mentioning the completely respectable Bush/McCain/Kennedy sanctions idea is too comprehensive for Obama. Risks upsetting some Latino voters. They don't "need to know," I guess. ...
Swoontime is over here at kf. ... 2:56 A.M. link
Thursday, January 31, 2008
It sure sounded like a concession speech to me. ... Rush Limbaugh could have called on conservatives across the country to rally to Romney and stop McCain. He didn't. That seems like a big signal. ... 1:37 P.M. link
Maybe you can figure out if McCain actually answered Janet Hook's question last night [E.A.] [Update: Transcript has been corrected. See below]:
HOOK: Senator McCain, let me just take the issue to you, because you obviously have been very involved in it. During this campaign, you, like your rivals, have been putting the first priority, heaviest emphasis on border security. But your original immigration proposal back in 2006 was much broader and included a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who were already here. What I'm wondering is -- and you seem to be downplaying that part. At this point, if your original proposal came to a vote on the Senate floor, would you vote for it? MCCAIN: It won't. It won't. That's why we went through the debate... HOOK: But if it did? MCCAIN: No, I would not,[**] because we know what the situation is today. The people want the border secured first. And so to say that that would come to the floor of the Senate -- it won't. We went through various amendments which prevented that ever -- that proposal. But, look, we're all in agreement as to what we need to do. Everybody knows it. We can fight some more about it, about who wanted this or who wanted that. But the fact is, we all know the American people want the border secured first. MCCAIN: We will secure the borders first when I am president of the United States. I know how to do that. I come from a border state, where we know about building walls, and vehicle barriers, and sensors, and all of the things necessary. I will have the border state governors certify the borders are secured. And then we will move onto the other aspects of this issue, probably as importantly as tamper-proof biometric documents, which then, unless an employer hires someone with those documents, that employer will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And that will cause a lot of people to leave voluntarily. There's 2 million people who are here who have committed crimes. They have to be rounded up and deported. And we're all basically in agreement there are humanitarian situations. It varies with how long they've been here, et cetera, et cetera. We are all committed to carrying out the mandate of the American people, which is a national security issue, which is securing the borders. That was part of the original proposal, but the American people didn't trust or have confidence in us that we would do it. So we now know we have to secure the borders first, and that is what needs to be done. That's what I'll do as president of the United States. COOPER: So I just want to confirm that you would not vote for your bill as it originally was? MCCAIN: My bill will not be voted on; it will not be voted on. I will sit and work with Democrats and Republicans and with all people. And we will have the principals securing the borders first. And then, if you want me to go through the description all over again, I would be glad to. We will secure the borders first. That's the responsibility and the priority of the American people. COOPER: Actually, we're going to be taking a short break At first I thought he'd answered "no," which would be one interpretation if the boldfaced words were punctuated "No. It would not ..." But on second and third thought it's pretty clear Anderson Cooper let McCain bully his questioner and escape without answering. It was a straightforward and relevant query: 'Would you still support the bill you spent much of your recent Senate career championing?' ... Update: It turns out he did answer "no," as the corrected transcript shows, but then followed it up with a lot of language suggesting he was simply denying the hypothetical--e.g. "No, I would not sign it simply because it would never come up." P.S.: I don't quite understand why McCain can't just simply say, "No" without crabbily disputing the question. (He could then give the same little talk about securing the borders, how he's gotten the message etc.) Unless, of course, the real answer is "Yes." ... **Transcript corrected.I had originally posted CNN's transcript, which reports what McCain said as "No, it would not." In fact, he said "No, I would not." You can view it here. Thanks to Ace of Spades. ... 1:17 A.M. link ___________________________ Wednesday, January 30, 2008 When is Rielle Hunter due? Soon, I should think. If her baby's first words are "I'm the grandson of a mill worker!" that will be a clue. ... Update: Comes now news that Edwards is dropping out. That was sudden, no? It seems like only yesterday--because it was--that his Deputy Campaign Manager Jonathan Prince was quoted boasting to reporters that in the "worst case scenario" Edwards would control 20 to 25 percent of the delegates at the convention and would probably play a decisive role. ... Alert reader D.E. reports that the headline in his print edition of today's Los Angeles Times is ""Edwards, onward He's told skeptics before, he's in it 'for the long haul.'" ... More: Edwards was still sending out fundraising appeals Tuesday morning. ... 2:01 A.M.
HOOK: Senator McCain, let me just take the issue to you, because you obviously have been very involved in it. During this campaign, you, like your rivals, have been putting the first priority, heaviest emphasis on border security. But your original immigration proposal back in 2006 was much broader and included a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who were already here.
What I'm wondering is -- and you seem to be downplaying that part. At this point, if your original proposal came to a vote on the Senate floor, would you vote for it?
MCCAIN: It won't. It won't. That's why we went through the debate...
HOOK: But if it did?
MCCAIN: No, I would not,[**] because we know what the situation is today. The people want the border secured first. And so to say that that would come to the floor of the Senate -- it won't. We went through various amendments which prevented that ever -- that proposal.
But, look, we're all in agreement as to what we need to do. Everybody knows it. We can fight some more about it, about who wanted this or who wanted that. But the fact is, we all know the American people want the border secured first.
MCCAIN: We will secure the borders first when I am president of the United States. I know how to do that. I come from a border state, where we know about building walls, and vehicle barriers, and sensors, and all of the things necessary.
I will have the border state governors certify the borders are secured. And then we will move onto the other aspects of this issue, probably as importantly as tamper-proof biometric documents, which then, unless an employer hires someone with those documents, that employer will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And that will cause a lot of people to leave voluntarily.
There's 2 million people who are here who have committed crimes. They have to be rounded up and deported.
And we're all basically in agreement there are humanitarian situations. It varies with how long they've been here, et cetera, et cetera.
We are all committed to carrying out the mandate of the American people, which is a national security issue, which is securing the borders. That was part of the original proposal, but the American people didn't trust or have confidence in us that we would do it.
So we now know we have to secure the borders first, and that is what needs to be done. That's what I'll do as president of the United States.
COOPER: So I just want to confirm that you would not vote for your bill as it originally was?
MCCAIN: My bill will not be voted on; it will not be voted on. I will sit and work with Democrats and Republicans and with all people. And we will have the principals securing the borders first.
And then, if you want me to go through the description all over again, I would be glad to. We will secure the borders first. That's the responsibility and the priority of the American people.
COOPER: Actually, we're going to be taking a short break
At first I thought he'd answered "no," which would be one interpretation if the boldfaced words were punctuated "No. It would not ..." But on second and third thought it's pretty clear Anderson Cooper let McCain bully his questioner and escape without answering. It was a straightforward and relevant query: 'Would you still support the bill you spent much of your recent Senate career championing?' ...
Update: It turns out he did answer "no," as the corrected transcript shows, but then followed it up with a lot of language suggesting he was simply denying the hypothetical--e.g. "No, I would not sign it simply because it would never come up."
P.S.: I don't quite understand why McCain can't just simply say, "No" without crabbily disputing the question. (He could then give the same little talk about securing the borders, how he's gotten the message etc.) Unless, of course, the real answer is "Yes." ...
**Transcript corrected.I had originally posted CNN's transcript, which reports what McCain said as "No, it would not." In fact, he said "No, I would not." You can view it here. Thanks to Ace of Spades. ... 1:17 A.M. link
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
When is Rielle Hunter due? Soon, I should think. If her baby's first words are "I'm the grandson of a mill worker!" that will be a clue. ... Update: Comes now news that Edwards is dropping out. That was sudden, no? It seems like only yesterday--because it was--that his Deputy Campaign Manager Jonathan Prince was quoted boasting to reporters that in the "worst case scenario" Edwards would control 20 to 25 percent of the delegates at the convention and would probably play a decisive role. ... Alert reader D.E. reports that the headline in his print edition of today's Los Angeles Times is ""Edwards, onward He's told skeptics before, he's in it 'for the long haul.'" ... More: Edwards was still sending out fundraising appeals Tuesday morning. ... 2:01 A.M.
You can glimpse the rip in the Republican party in raw blog form over at The Corner. [Search for "lecture."] Should they rally against McCain to preserve their ideology, or rally around McCain, mainly for foreign policy reasons? I'm all for protracted civil war--but then I'm not a Republican. (I find it hard to believe that either of my party's likely candidates is going to snatch defeat from the jaws of satisfactory in Iraq). Still, you'd think that even a Republican would require McCain to pull more than 40% of the vote in at least one primary before deciding that he's the inevitable nominee. ... P.S.: Dick Morris argues that only McCain can beat Hillary. What if the nominee's Obama? And is the Latino vote really a Hillary weak spot, where pro-legalization McCain could make big inroads? I thought Latinos were, so far, on Hillary's side (in that other civil war). ... P.P.S.: Come to think of it, the Dual Civil Wars (orthodox vs. heretic in the GOP, brown vs. black on the Dem side) is a pretty good Neutral Story Line for the MSM. It beats "Is this any way to elect a president." ... 1:26 A.M.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
According to the exit poll, even while winning Florida, McCain still lost among Republicans. (Update: Now it shows him tied with Romney.**) I didn't know that was possible in a "closed" primary. Yet it took the 17% percent of voters who identified themselves as "independent" put McCain over the top. ...
P.S.: Maybe the 17% were voters who think they are independents but haven't changed their party registration. More alarming is the phenomenon described in this news account (subsequently highlighted by Drudge):
In northern Coral Springs, near the Sawgrass Expressway and Coral Ridge Drive, David Nirenberg arrived to vote as an independent. Nevertheless, he said poll workers insisted he choose a party ballot.
"He said to me, 'Are you Democrat or Republican?' I said, 'Neither, I am independent.' He said, 'Well, you have to pick one,''' Nirenberg said.
In Florida, only those who declare a party are allowed to cast a vote in that party's presidential primary.
Nirenberg said he tried to explain to the poll worker that he should not vote on a party ballot because of his "no party affiliation" status.
Nirenberg said a second poll worker was called over who agreed that independents should not use party ballots, but said they had received instructions to the contrary.
"He said, 'Ya know, that is kind of funny, but it was what we were told.' … I was shocked when they told me that." Nirenberg said he went ahead and voted for John McCain. [E.A.]
The Cristian Right at work? ... ___________________________ Monday, January 28, 2008 "Mexico First" Update: Making a distinction I failed to make, Mark Krikorian argues that it's possible, in theory, for someone to promote "amnesty and accelerated mass immigration" and yet still "support firm borders and patriotic assimilation."But McCain's "Hispanic Outreach Director" Juan Hernandez is not that someone. He
Monday, January 28, 2008
"Mexico First" Update: Making a distinction I failed to make, Mark Krikorian argues that it's possible, in theory, for someone to promote "amnesty and accelerated mass immigration" and yet still "support firm borders and patriotic assimilation."But McCain's "Hispanic Outreach Director" Juan Hernandez is not that someone. He
has spent years opposing the very legitimacy of America's borders and Americanization in the most public way possible.
Highlight reel here. ... P.S.: McCain's National Finance Co-Chair appears to be Jerrold Perenchio, who made a fortune with Univision and has been a major defender of failed bilingual education policies. The longer people speak Spanish and not English, after all, the more they watch Univision., right?... Out here in L.A. we also remember Perenchio's secret golf course! See Jill Stewart [search for "poisons"] and the Surfrider Foundation. ...9:22 P.M. link
Some behind-the-scenes evidence of what McCain really thinks about making sure that English remains the common language amid a flood of Spanish-speaking immigrants. Victor Davis Hanson take note. ... Update: Hanson doesn't want to hear any
second-hand reports about what McCain purportedly said in Senate cloak rooms, or what is reported through anonymous sources about interviews he gave, or the legion of his other noted supposed sins ...
Hmm. Aren't second hand reports about what a pol says often the best evidence of what he actually thinks? Isn't that some of the evidence future historians will use--and if so, why shouldn't voters know it? Or are we to judge McCain and others only by the staged public announcements? Finally, don't anonymous sources often have good reason to remain anonymous and yet provide good information? (The source in this case, remember, wasn't anonymous to the reporter who reported on the incident. Ramesh Ponnuru said it was a "Senate source whom I trust." The source was just not idenfitied to readers.) ... 6:59 P.M. link
Anti-Swoon Medication: The Obama campaign is emphasizing his support for giving illegals drivers licenses, and more:
The Illinois senator is differentiating himself in three key areas: driver's licenses, a promise to take up immigration reform his first year in office, and his background as the son of an immigrant (his father was Kenyan) and a community organizer in Chicago.
Obama made the promise to Latino leaders to take up immigration reform in his first year after Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., chairman of the Democratic caucus, said his party might not raise the divisive issue again until the next president's second term, assuming a Democrat wins. [E.A.]
Of course, there's "taking up" and there's taking up. Is President Obama really going to spend his first-year capital attempting comprehensive immigration reform--putting all Emanuel's borderline House Dems on the spot, giving the GOP an issue for 2010--when he also has health care and possibly the econony to deal with? ...
P.S.: I'm grasping here! ...
P.P.S.: Obama's bold Hispandering makes me eager to defeat ...McCain! Given the likelihood that either Obama or Hillary will be in the White House in 2009, it would be good to have at least one party that isn't formally committeed to rapid legalization and can therefore act as a check on the Democratic candidates' impulses. The only way to achieve that is to make it clear that, within the Republican party, self-righteous pro-legalization activism is a political loser. Beating McCain is the way to drive that message home. ... 4:11 P.M.
McCain's "Mexico First" Aide: Is it fair to make an issue out of John McCain's "Hispanic Outreach Director" Juan Hernandez, a dual U.S.-Mexican citizen who was in the cabinet of the government of Mexico, seems to advocate the free flow of citizens over the border, and famously said of Mexican-Americans
"I want the third generation, the seventh generation, I want them all to think 'Mexico first." [E.A.]
kf says yes!
1) McCain seems to have conned a lot of Republicans into thinking he's transformed his position on immigration--for example, Victor Davis Hanson, author of "Mexifornia," who now writes about "McCain's won't-make-that-mistake-again changed views on closing the border." This even though it's obvious to anyone paying attention that McCain hasn't altered his support for legalization of illegals (once he's declared the border "secure"). One reason we know this is because he's said it-- he said it again on Meet the Press yesterday, when asked if he'd sign the McCain-Kennedy "comprehensive" immigration bill as president if it came to his desk. Answer: "Yeah." If somebody like Hernandez, as McCain also said yesterday, "supports my policies and my proposals," it serves to emphasize that those policies may not have changed as much as cheap dates like Hanson seem to believe. Hernandez's own Web site features an article describing him as "passionately" advocating legalization of "all Mexican workers in the U.S." [What about McCain's statement that: "I will not allow anyone to receive Social Security or any other benefits because they have come here illegally and broken our laws"?--ed Obvious BS. If he offers legalization to the "12 million" who are here they will clearly get benefits from having come here illegally--the benefit of being here legally, for one. Medicaid, Medicare, and public schooling for another. People who came here illegally would also immediately qualify for Social Security benefits as soon as they got the quickie "probationary" Z-visa under McCain's bill. The only way McCain's statement would make sense is if he was also planning to offer these benefits to everyone who didn't cross the border--i.e. the entire population of Mexico. ... Actually, that doesn't seem too far from Dr. Hernandez's philosophy. ... You don't think ...]
2. Hernandez's "Mexico first" comment isn't quite as bad as it initially seems. Here's the full Nightline back and forth:
(OC) Has the Mexican-American--and just Mexicans in America, that population--now become successful and wealthy enough to give back here that that becomes a piece of the puzzle?
Mr. HERNANDEZ: We are betting on that the Mexican-American population in the United States will become more and more like the Jewish community of the United States, like the Puerto Rican community of the United States, that they will think 'Mexico first,' and they will invest in Mexico. They've already been doing it--in--in--in--to a great extent.
AMOS: But that's family to family?
Mr. HERNANDEZ: Family to family. But now I want the third generation, the seventh generation, I want them all to think 'Mexico first.'
OK, so he says he wants Mexicans to think of Mexico the way Jews think of Israel. And maybe he's talking mainly about investment, not dual loyalty (though why shouldn't dual citizens have dual loyalties? Isn't that the point?). But would any Israeli emissary or American Jewish leader have the chutzpah to urge Americans to "think 'Israel First'"? I doubt it. And I doubt Dr. Hernandez has in mind a relationship of Mexico to the millions of Mexican Americans just over the border (a not-undisputed border, actually) that's the same as the relationship of Israel has with overseas Jewish diasporans.
3. Imagine if Hillary Clinton (or Barack Obama) had an aide who ran around saying such things. Would it cause a controversy? Ask Lani Guinier!
P.S.: Hot Air has posted a montage of Hernandez' TV appearances. Again, at first you think it's unfair--it undoubtedly is--but by the end he gives you the geniune creeps, having perfected a combination of Jeff Birnbaum's oleaginous faux-joviality and Tom Cruise's inexplicably wired commitment. ... P.P.S.: Here's his Web site home page. ...
Sunday, January 27, 2008
What's more dangerous than "a wounded guy with a lot of money"**? A desperate guy with a lot of self-righteousness! Paul Mirengoff makes the best case for McCain's charge that Romney "wanted to set a date for withdrawal" from Iraq. It's still weak!*** (See also AP and Lowry and Ponnuru.) McCain seems to believe his wartime heroism entitles him to an unlimited moral bank account that he can withdraw from whenever it's in his self-interest to do something dishonest. Of course, sometime down the road when it helps advance his candidacy he may righteously apologize for having lied to advance his candidacy--and bask in the press' fawning over this "extraordinary act of contrition," the same way he did in 2000. ...
**--Quote is from Lindsey Graham. [What about him?--ed He's McCain with all the self-righteousness but none of the heroism.]
This article--purporting to show that ideas of "massive economic benefits accruing to African-Americans in the '90s were largely an illusion"--has been at the top of Slate's "most-emailed" list for a while, which is scary because it's ... unpersuasive. Extremely unpersuasive! Here's just one chart that would seem to refute it. (The chart shows the black poverty rate in an impressive plunge between 1993 to 2000, while the white rate declines only mildly. The underlying official numbers are here. See also ... and also.). ... 1:56 P.M.
About the Florida and Michigan delegations: On TV theyv'e been confidently talking about Hillary's call for seating the Michigan and Florida delegations as if that will be her trump card at a contested convention. She'll almost certainly win the Florida vote next week, and she's already won in Michigan. But I don't see how the convention can fairly award Hillary the delegates from those states after the DNC got her competitors to pledge not to campaign in those states' primaries. Doesn't that discredit those primaries? Or should Obama and Edwards be punished because they obeyed their party? ... Maybe the convention should seat some Florida and Michigan delegates, but if so you'd think the party would make those states choose them anew through an actual contested election, caucus, or convention. ... What am I missing? ... [Tks. to reader D.J.] 1:14 A.M. link
On the bright side: The Hillary campaign shakeup-- cruelly delayed by the unexpected victory in New Hampshire--may now be back on track. ... Suggested headline: "Quantum of Solis"! ... 12:46 A.M.
They've lost Josh? TPM: "If the constitution allowed it, I'd happily have Clinton back. I'd happily have Hillary in his place. But I don't want them both." ... 12:40 A.M.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Key anti-identity-politics, anti-ghettoization passage in Obama's victory speech:
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 ....
Works for me. ... [The passage works for you or the "assumption" works for you?--reader M. The passage. I'm being non-snarky. Perilously close to swooning!] ... 6:38 P.M.
Why does the crowd at Obama's victory rally just happen to look like a perfect, multiracial group of pleasant, idealistic, attractive Americans? I suspect it's because the crowd at Obama rallies typically is a perfect multiracial group of pleasant idealistic, attractive Americans. I've never been in a more benign-seeming group. They're clean! (And articulate!) Maybe a little edgeless. ... 6:28 P.M.
Attempted Ghettoization: Now that Bill Clinton has explicitly belittled Obama's South Carolina victory by comparing it to Jesse Jackson's, how does Obama's share of the white vote compare with Jackson's in 1988? Obama got about a quarter (24%) of the white vote, according to exit polls. ... Was there even an exit poll of the 1988 caucuses? I can't find one. ... Update: Alert emailer L finds the following in a Christian Science Monitor story from March 17, 1988:
Although Jackson's white support was significantly higher in South Carolina than in 1984 - it is estimated this year at between 5 and 10 percent of the voters - he has not made much headway with populist, blue-collar whites ... [E.A.]
24% vs. 5-10%. It looks as if Bill Clinton's comparison will not work to his wife's advantage. ... More: Tom Maguire asks the same question and gets the same answer, from an old New York Times story. The "5 percent to 10 percent" estimate of the white vote for Jackson seems to come from "party leaders." ... Maguire has several other useful comments. ... [Aren't you doing exactly what Charles Franklin recommended and you pooh-poohed--looking at exit polls?--ed Yes. Maybe someone else can derive numbers from the actual hard county-by-county vote count.]
Question #2: Which campaign wants John Edwards out now? Obviously, Hillary wants him out of Southern states, but there are a lot more non-Southern states where he might split the "change" or "anti-Hillary" vote with Obama, no? ... P.S.: If you want Edwards gone, remember kf 's solution, which does not require investigating the Rielle Hunter mess! It's to give Edwards' popular wife a talk show--something suitably influential and rewarding to do, post-campaign. ... Update: Dickerson makes a good point about Edwards--
If he stays in the race, he might want to rethink all that support he gave Hillary during the last debate. He defended her and attacked Obama, and all he got was an accusation [via robocall ] that he's a counterfeit home forecloser?
4:05 P.M. link
Undernews Alert--The Barrett Report's redacted pages? Clinton skeptics were disappointed when special counsel David Barrett's report didn't prove rampant Clintonian abuse of the IRS. (See here, search for "Kohoutek"). But some 120 pages of the reporthad been redacted. Did John Kerry endorse Obama rather than Clinton because he's seen what's in them? Mark Goodman suggests as much. The obvious problem with this theory is that if, as Goodman admits, the redacted pages "can be exhumed on demand by any member of Congress," you'd think that at least one of the 535 members would be enough of a Hillary enemy to have obtained and leaked any sensational charges they contain by now. ... 1:53 P.M.
Pre-S.C. Questions: 1)If Hillary comes in third in South Carolina, will Time's Mark Halperin still insist it was a stroke of genius for her to have "[f]orced Obama to spend an entire week in South Carolina while H. Clinton traveled to Super Tuesday states"? ... 2) Did anybody in those Super Tuesday states pay much attention to her? ... 3) If Edwards can steal the white male vote from her in South Carolina, what's to stop him from doing the same thing on Super Tuesday in states like Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee--even Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Idaho and Utah? ... 1:19 A.M.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Won't Get Fooled Again? Zogby's poll right before the New Hampshire primary showed Obama with a 13 point lead. ... Zogby's poll for Saturday's South Carolina primary shows Obama with a 13 point lead. And falling. I'm just sayin' ... P.S.: Remember, a "Bradley effect" is possible among black voters as well as white voters. ...
Update--Would you lie to a robot? I would! Mark Blumenthal analyzes the diverging (but not all that much) S.C. polls, including the Clemson poll with its huge (36%) undecided result. He's skeptical of a Bradley Effect, noting that if voters lie to polltakers when they say they're going to vote for the black candidate, you 'd expect them to tell the truth to automated polls:
If the Bradley/Wilder effect is operating, we would expect to see it on surveys that use live interviewers, but in this case, the lack of an interviewer seems to work in Obama's favor.
But are we sure this traditional expectation--voters are less likely to lie to robots--still holds? I used to think talking to a robotic phone answerer was pretty close to a "secret ballot"--what was the robot going to do to me, anyway? But machines do a whole lot these days--they track your musical tastes, follow your movements, raise or lower your credit ratings. Now a robot can conceivably do a lot to me, at least in the paranoid part of my imagination activated when I get an unsolicited call. At best, it's probably generating a list to sell someone! I don't want it know my real innermost thoughts, including my political thoughts, especially my un-PC political thoughts. These days, I'd be much more paranoid about pushing a button that say "I'm voting against beloved minority candidate X" than telling a live operator the same thing. Sorry, Rasmussen! The traditional truth-revealing advantage of robo-calling may be the artifact of a transitional era in info-technology.
That means the classic "Bradley Effect"--whites telling pollsters they're going to vote for the black candidate but then doing something else on Election Day--could apply to both human and robotic pollsters. Maybe it applies worse to robo-pollers. So if robo-polls favor Obama more than live polls, that could mean there is no Bradley effect--or it could mean there is one but we just can't rely on robotic polling to smoke it out. ...
See also, Charles Franklin:
I think the more compelling story of South Carolina will be the exit poll results. Obama has appealed to white voters in previous primaries and caucuses. The pre-election polls have found him getting as low as 10% of the white vote in South Carolina. The potential for racial polarization in this Southern state could damage his ability to transcend race as a basis of voting. Paradoxically, there has been speculation that Clinton can win the votes of black women, a result that could reduce polarization in the exit poll.
Of course, people can lie to exit pollsters too! If you're a black South Carolinian and want to help Hillary as much as you can, you'll walk into the booth, vote for her, then walk out and tell the exit poll person you voted for Obama. ... There may also be non-Machiavellian peer pressure in black precincts to tell the exit pollsters the same thing (which, perversely, might hurt Obama in tomorrow night's press spin by making it look as if he received an ethnic bloc vote). In white areas similar pressure might enocourage voters to falsely tell exit pollsters they voted for Edwards or Clinton. ... I'm not sure we should pay so much attention to the exit polls! ... Presumably the real, actual official secret-ballot vote tally will reveal any bloc voting by white areas or black areas, no? ... 12:41 A.M.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Obama's Ghetto Escape-- Continued: I'm posting the following email from reader M, not to endorse it (or to criticize it) but just in case Obama supporters do not realize what their candidate is now up against:
I was liking Obama quite a bit until the militant black establishment came out for him. Here's the thing... your primary identity is either American or hyphenated-American. In other words, you can be American first, or you can be (example) Gay-American, African-American, WASP-American.
If you vote for someone because they share your hyphenated background, why should I believe that that some candidate will respect my needs on an equal basis with yours? If Obama is the candidate of the Black-America establishment, he can't be the American candidate.
I don't like Hillary. I don't like her medical plans and I don't like her past crime and gun plans. But she is an American candidate. Not a Gyno-American. Just a coldly-effecient, and in my view mis-aimed, American candidate.
So bottom line: Yes, backlash has already happened. By being the Black candidate rather than an American candidate, Obama is no longer in the running to be MY candidate.
Meanwhile, alert emailer L argues--
Look at the exit polls out of Nevada (the only state so far that has a significant minority pop.) and the problem Obama has is with white women, not whites in general. White women were the largest segment of the voters (38%) and Hillary won them by 24 points, compared to just 6 points among white men.
white men 46% 40%
white women 55% 31%
non-white men 39% 55%
non-white women 43% 51%
I don't think that those women are voting for Hillary because he's black or they really like her. Just judging from the conversations I've had with women (who are mostly white) who are torn between Obama and Hillary, the "experience" question begins to take on gender and age aspects... Hillary is the better qualified woman who would be "passed over" for a younger, less experienced man. Race doesn't enter the equation.
How can Obama peel off some of those white women voters? I don't think repudiating race-based affirmative action does it. I think the only way he can do it is break the strong sense of identification that allows the above narrative to work, i.e. the strong link between how women perceive their own careers and how they perceive Hillary's candidacy. Right now they're one and the same.
The answer is one word: Oprah ...
Hmm. I'm not even sure Oprah is up to that task. Meanwhile it would be nice, if you were Obama, to win a majority of white men, no? A bold anti-race-preference move--assuming the hints he's dropped reflect his actual beliefs--might help him do that. Even a statement that this is the direction he thinks the nation should be moving would make a big difference, you'd expect. ... P.S.: John Rosenberg argues I'm thinking wishfully. Follow his links for what Obama has said on the topic--it seems ambiguous and suggestive to me. ... Class-preference advocate Richard Kahlenberg also has high hopes for Obama. ... 5:50 P.M. link
Snakes on a Plane, II: WSJ on Bill Clinton and Ron Burkle. Bill is "negotiating" to wind down his interest in Burkle's investment firm. Does that mean Burkle has discretion to give up or not give up a few extra million? Remember that Burkle has large and varied holdings and is likely to have some regulatory business with the federal government over the next four years. ... On the other hand, focusing on economic conflicts--as if the Burkle-Clinton partnership were all about making millions--might be a distraction. With Clinton the general rule is not "follow the money."but "follow the nookie."**
**--Philip Weiss' formulation. 4:33 P.M.
One for the Price of Two: Bill Clinton isn't a candidate for federal office. Does that mean rich people can spend unlimited amounts of money attacking him and his record (and spelling his last name in large capital letters) in the months before the election without running afoul of the campaign finance laws? RedState asks. ... 4:23 P.M.
Gran Salida? Since the fall, L.A.'s Unified School District has cancelled plans to build 19 new schools and additions because the projected students haven't materialized. Enrollment is down 7 percent from 2003. The L.A. Times doesn't even mention a decline or reversal of immigrant flows as a possible cause, blaming only
years of declining birth rates and increasing housing prices that have pushed poor and working-class families out of many gentrified urban Los Angeles neighborhoods.
Hmm. Housing prices haven't really increased since last fall, have they? But there has been an anti-illegal crackdown (and a decline in construction jobs). Is the LAT so committed to its 'Latinos are the future' line that it's missing a major social and demographic development happening right under its nose? ... 1:00 A.M.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Another paywall falls: The Atlantic's. ... 2:09 P.M.
Josh Gerstein, reporting on immigration-related tension at Mrs. Clinton's United Farm Workers rally:
Even at Mrs. Clinton's rally, there were signs of how volatile the immigration issue can be. Some of the farm workers, who toted signs saying, "America con Hillary," wore cowboy hats or baseball caps. Not all removed them during the pledge of allegiance.
"In this country, we take our hats off!" one woman sitting across the gym shouted loudly as the patriotic exercises concluded, well before the New York senator arrived.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
How Obama Can Escape from the Ghetto: I thought Margaret Carlson was out on a very shaky limb a few years ago last Thursday when she wrote that Obama had
lost the essence of his candidacy as the first black man to run as himself. Once the race card is on the table, no matter who puts it there, it's impossible to put it back up anyone's sleeve. Obama may look back on the first two weeks of 2008 as the time when he lost the nomination to Clinton.
Now the idea that Obama has been "ghettoized" as the "black" candidate has become the accepted template for the campaign--even the point that a win in hotly contested South Carolina on Saturday is seen as actually hurting Obama because (in Dick Morris' analysis)
[w]atching blacks block vote for Obama will trigger a white backlash that will help Hillary win Florida and to prevail the week after.
Here we thought we were getting the Mondale/Hart campaign of 1984--without Mondale's pleasantness or Hart's weirdness--and instead we get the Dukakis campaign of 1988, in which a slightly tedious, marginally likeable elite liberal established his mainstream (white) bona fides by running around the country thumping Jesse Jackson.
Worse, it's hard to see an easy way out of it for Obama, at least before the wave of primaries and caucuses on Feb. 5. He could try to make Hillary the pet candidate of Latinos the way he's being cast as the pet candidate of blacks--but that would require a shift to the right on immigrant legalization that he doesn't seem willing to make. (I hope I'm wrong about that.**)
The more obvious move is to find a Sister Souljah--after Saturday--to stiff arm. The most promising candidate is not a person, but an idea: race-based affirmative action. Obama has already made noises about shifting to a class-based, race-blind system of preferences. What if he made that explicit? Wouldn't that shock hostile white voters into taking a second look at his candidacy? He'd renew his image as trans-race leader (and healer). The howls of criticism from the conventional civil-rights establishment--they'd flood the cable shows--would provide him with an army of Souljahs to hold off. If anyone noticed Hillary in the ensuing fuss, it would be to put her on the spot--she'd be the one defending mend-it-don't-end-it civil rights orthodoxy.
I can't think of a better plan. Can you?
P.S.: Abandoning race-based preferences would certainly solve Obama's Boldness Gap, as described by Dan Gerstein.
The idea of momentum is that you generate support in subsequent primaries when you win one. Not this year. Fox News anchor Brit Hume now refers to "no-mentum." Obama won Iowa, then lost New Hampshire. John McCain won New Hampshire, then lost Michigan. And so on.
Indeed, this Saturday the press expects Obama to win South Carolina because the press assumes that Hillary's "momentum" from Nevada is virtually nonexistent. Likewise, Hillary's apparent strategy--lose next Saturday, win Super Tuesday--assumes that Obama won't get any Gary-Hart like momentum from South Carolina.
Let the record show that the Death of Momentum was entirely foretold at least eight long years ago by the application of the Feiler Faster Thesis (voters comfortably process information quickly) coupled with what turned out to be the Skurnik Two-Electorate Theory (voters who don't follow politics don't tune in until the very end). As outlined in 2000, late-focusing voters tune in to what the press is saying in, say, the two days before their state's election, which is usually something different from what the press says in the two days after the previous state's election. Four days = no mo' mo. Add in possible affirmative voter rebellion against what the press says--Huck's Hot! Barack Rock Star!--and it's overdetermined. ... P.S.: Another equation--
Lexus Stimulus--Regressive but Effective: Rare Ellisblog post suggests an exceptionally Republican way to boost economic demand. But it's also exceptionally fast. ...1:59 A.M.
The Reagan Coalition didn't die of natural causes: It's now steel-vault CW that the tripartite Reagan Coalition (national security conservatives, social conservatives, economic conservatives) has sundered. There's a tendency to portray this as some sort of inevitable process, a working-out of an ideological dialiectic. Hence Fred Thompson was just a fool to run on a Reaganite platform--the old coalition doesn't exist and can't exist.
There is at least one sense in which the coalition was a victim of its own success: by successfully pursuing elimination of the welfare (AFDC) entitlement, the Gingrich Republicans removed a major reason for public distrust of liberal "affirmative government." But that merely meant the R.C. was fighting an increasingly unfavorable battle against Democrats who wanted the non-welfare welfare state to expand (i.e., to provide health care). It didn't mean the Coalition had fractured.
It took President Bush to accomplish the latter, through two willful decisions: a) the decision to invade Iraq and b) the decision to pursue an ambitious immigration reform that included mass legalization. The former decision discredited Republicans and cost them the support of conservative realists. The latter split businessmen and libertarians from both social and law-and-order conservatives. Neither decision was in any way inevitable. To explain them, the internal dialectic of the Bush family (effectively described in Jacob Weisberg's new book) is more useful than any grander diagram of political or social tensions. [But the business wing of the GOP would have been mad if Bush had opposed the immigrant legalization "reform"--ed. Bush didn't have to make a big issue of immigration at all. And it wouldn't have been one if he hadn't. A few stronger border-security measures to placate the base and the whole dilemma would easily have been kicked past his term in office. The real demand for "comprehensive reform" came from intellectuals, ethnic interests and political strategists who saw a transformative potential in winning the Latino vote. Like Iraq, it was a war of choice. In the event, it turned out businesses didn't care nearly as much about it as Karl Rove, John McCain and Tamar Jacoby. Bush was reduced to urging businessmen to lobby for his plan.]
The upshot is that the current lack of a "Reagan" candidate is a historical accident (unless you also want to blame Bush for failing to put in place an adequate successor). Mitt Romney didn't have to be a Mormon. Fred Thompson--or someone like him--could have put the Coalition back together. Bush's damage turned out not to be irreperable: The war in Iraq is fading. Immigrant semi-amnesty can (and probably will) be postponed. That makes Thompson's failure all the greater, and all the more personal. As Byron York writes:
Last night I talked with Cyndi Mosteller, a strong social conservative who headed the Charleston County Republican Party from 2003 to 2007 and who supports McCain. When I asked about Thompson, she said. "He was the most anticipated candidate that I have ever seen. So many people on the ground were ready to run the ball for him, and they showed up in strength, but he didn't really show up in strength. I think that probably Thompson is more of a private person. I don't really think he's cut out for the public run required of public office. I think it's almost a personality thing; it's certainly not an ideological thing. It's like the public energy and the will to run are a little bit lacking there." Talk to other South Carolina conservatives, no matter who they supported, and you'll hear similar opinions. Thompson had a huge opportunity here.
P.S.: After reading York's note, I'm finally ready to concede thatSlate's John Dickerson was way righter than I was when he argued that Thompson blew his best opportunity last year, when he wasn't ready for prime time in Iowa. ... 1:05 A.M. link
Monday, January 21, 2008
So you have amnesty in that basket [E.A.]:
"if you have to earn your way to citizenship, that is not amnesty, and yet we're going to hear that over and over again from the critics of this bill"--Fred Barnes, Fox, March 25, 2006
"of course, it's not an amnesty"--Fred Barnes, Fox, May 16, 2006 (discussing Bush's immigration initiative) Obama may be different from Clinton and Edwards in style and personality, but the three are ideological peas in a pod. They basically agree on health care (more government involvement), taxes (higher), immigration (amnesty in one form or another),--Fred Barnes, Weekly Standard, 1/28/08
"of course, it's not an amnesty"--Fred Barnes, Fox, May 16, 2006 (discussing Bush's immigration initiative)
Obama may be different from Clinton and Edwards in style and personality, but the three are ideological peas in a pod. They basically agree on health care (more government involvement), taxes (higher), immigration (amnesty in one form or another),--Fred Barnes, Weekly Standard, 1/28/08
Translation: It's only "amnesty" when Democrats propose it. ... 10:07 P.M.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Did I miss something, or did nothing very interesting happen at the big North American International Auto Show in Detroit? Judging from Autoblog's highlights, I didn't miss anything. ... P.S.: After staging a Hillary-style comeback, rear-drive cars appear to be suffering an Edwards-like collapse at General Motors. G.M. VP Robert Lutz blames the need for to meet fuel economy standards. But that's only because GM has foolishly positioned its rear-drive cars at the high-performance, gas-guzzling end of the market, no? ... Apparently GM is considering a small rear-drive chassis, but Lutz is noncommittal, noting:
"As a lightweight rear-wheel drive car that is going to add about 1MPG compared to an equivalent lightweight front-wheel drive car – we just have to sort of wait awhile and see where we are."
One MPG seems like not a lot to me--you'd think there would be plenty of ways to make up that penalty, and then some, while at the same time producing a small car that (like BMW's new 1-series) customers would be lining up to buy. ... 8:31 P.M.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Michael Graham throws some welcome cold water on the McCain victory, noting that in 2000 McCain got 42% against George W. Bush and the "entire Carroll Campbell machine." Today he got 33% "in a field where his top challengers—Romney and Giuliani—aren't even running." ... 10:46 P.M.
It's going to get ugly in the South. By the time Hillary is through with Obama, voters will think his middle name is "Hussein"! ... 8:01 P.M.
Here's a way McCain could get right with GOP conservatives and virtually guarantee his nomination: Promise that he won't press for his "comprehensive immigration reform" legislation during his first term. Instead, he could say he'll spend his initial four years securing the borders--which he now argues is a necessary precursor to a "comprehensve" legalization scheme. He could still remain committed to legalization after 2012. ... [But he's probably too old to have a second term--ed Makes the pledge even more appealing!] ... 7:37 P.M. link
Undernews Alert: If the NYT was sitting on a McCain-lobbyist story on the theory that McCain might get beaten anyway, that excuse is now gone, no? ... 7:30 P.M.
Florida: Which candidate does Palm Beach's R. Limbaugh back? He hates McCain, right? It would either be Rudy or Romney, you'd think. ... 7:07 P.M.
Acid tip? Tim Russert just suggested that Obama might appeal to blacks by attacking the Clintons over Bill's Sister Souljah putdown in 1992. Obama can't possibly be stupid enough to take Russert's tip. ... Souljah said, "If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people." Obama has plenty of other ways of appealing to blacks. ... 6:32 P.M.
Did Thompson win it for McCain by siphoning off potential Huckabee votes? They just tried to make the case on Fox--and Edsall argues it here--but without a breakdown of the second choice of Thompson voters, I don't see how you can be sure. ... If it's true, that would make Thompson objectively pro-amnesty, to borrow Marxist jargon, despite his anti-amnesty views. The best way to strike a blow against "comprehensive immigration reform" was to punish McCain for promoting it, and Thompson may have prevented that. [Bitter?-ed. There's always Florida. McCain hasn't yet 'made the sale,' right? He's lost Polipundit!] 6:26 P.M.
Fred Thompson gives a surprisingly good election-night speech** (about a month too late) and when they cut away to MSNBC the newsroom is filled with laughter--i.e. media types laughing at Thompson. They obviously expected Thompson to concede and felt snookered. Still, it was obnoxious. ... Update:fishbowlDC has the video. ...
**--Thompson's speech was better than McCain's arid victory pitch, for example. ... 5:21 P.M.
Humiliation: John Edwards seems to have gotten about 4% of the vote ** in the Nevada caucuses, where he put in a not-inconsiderable effort. ... Is that a typo--or a message? ... It's all the media's fault! ... Backfill: Edwards' now-embarrassing pre-caucus spin here. Also "Edwards Can Win Nevada." ...
P.S.: What would it take to get Edwards out? If he keeps polling at 4%, who cares? But if, like me, you suspect that his wife Elizabeth is the driving force behind his 'on to the convention' persistence--after all, why not keep traveling around the country getting attention?--there may be a solution: Give her a talk show! She's smart, she'ls likeable, she has a huge fan base, she's good on camera. She certainly wears better than her husband. And the networks need fresh content. Then John could cut whatever deal he wants to throw his rapidly-diminishing support behind one of the frontrunners. [Could he be the VP candidate again?--ed Don't think he vets.] ...
More: Edwards' astral support is collapsing. ...
**--This is apparently Edwards' total after application of Nevada's 15% viability rule. There seems to be no way of knowing his pre-viability showing. Update: In the "entrance poll" taken by the networks he got a bit less than 9%. ... 2:04 P.M. link
Mickey's Stimulus Package: Congress thinks it might be able to approve the "fast-moving" stimulus package "within a month." A month! Wow. Neck-snapping speed! Of course the fear is that even with such lightning-like Congressional reflexes, the stimulus will come to late to cure a recession, if it's already underway (and instead will only add to inflation during a recovery). From Steve Chapman:
Peter Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, told The Wall Street Journal, "Most of the stimulus options under consideration would be difficult to actually get out the door in the first half of 2008." By the time a program spreads its healing balm, we may find the recession has died a natural death -- or was never born.p
Is there a way to avoid this inevitable, usually-fatal, lag? I don't see why not. We've tried to cure the lag, for monetary policy, by granting the Federal Reserve authority to raise or lower interest rates instantaneously. Why not have a similar arrangement for fiscal policy? We'd create a Pump-priming authority--call it PPA for short--and give it the power to instantly raise or lower the Social Security and Medicare payroll tax by a few percentage points--from about 15% to 10%, for example--when necessary to avoid a recession. (These are sample numbers; economists would work out the real ones.) The stimulus would immediately be injected into the economic bloodstream as withholding formulas adjusted to take a smaller tax bite from paychecks. No waiting a month for "fast-moving" Congressional action.
The catch, of course, would be that the PPA would have to make up the money by raising the tax rate above the normal level in economic good times. But that might have a salutary effect too--averting inflation by cooling down an overheated economy, much the way a Fed rate increase does.
Won't there be huge pressure on the PPA to keep priming the pump and never make up the shortfall? Sure--just as there's pressure on the Fed to keep cutting interest rates. But the Fed usually manages to resist those pressures, and you could design a PPA so it had a similar ability. (The usual technique involves appointing its members for fixed, overlapping terms, and bringing the weight of sober, prudent business opinion to bear on the President at appointment time.) Even elected officials--presidents, at least--would have an incentive to restrain irresponsible pro-stimulus impulses. They want to be seen as fighting unemployment, but they've also learned that inflation is electoral poison. And not only in the long run. Ask Jimmy Carter.
You could have the Fed itself be the PPA, though I assume there are arguments against giving too much power to one agency. Those are arguments we should maybe have, because what's "fast-moving" for Congress is too slow.
Another country is complaining about an influx of Mexicans crossing its borders looking for work. That country is Mexico. From the Tucson Citizen:
Sonora - Arizona's southern neighbor, made up of mostly small towns - cannot handle the demand for housing, jobs and schools it will face as illegal Mexican workers here return to their hometowns without jobs or money.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Compelling assessment of John Edwards from Russ Feingold:
The one that is the most problematic is (John) Edwards, who voted for the Patriot Act, campaigns against it. Voted for No Child Left Behind, campaigns against it. Voted for the China trade deal, campaigns against it. Voted for the Iraq war ...
MyDD is temporarily stunned! ... 2:33 P.M.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
'Bradley Effect' Update: Obama is ahead by 9 points over Hillary in the most recent Mason-Dixon poll of South Carolina voters. But can we trust voters to have told pollsters the truth--or are racial concerns (including the desire not to offend) leading them to give inaccurate answers?
a) Black 'Bradley' Voters? Noam Scheiber weighs in again on the possiblity of such a "Bradley Effect" for black voters. It all depends on the race of the interviewer, he argues--suggesting that when the interviewer is black, some black voters may opt to (falsely) show racial solidarity, but that
when African-Americans are in the presence of whites, the greater social fear is being considered a "race man" ...
Debra Dickerson isn't buying that, and neither am I--though it's an empirical question that presumably could be resolved one way or another.
b)White 'Bradley' Voters? Meanwhile, Emailer Z, who knows his or her polls, argues the Mason-Dixon poll might not have such good news for Obama after all--given the more-often discussed tendency of white voters to occasionally mislead pollsters:
Here's how the Bradley Effect works: A stranger calls you to ask how you intend to vote. You do NOT intend to vote for the African American, but you don't want to get a lot of guff from this stranger about how you must be a racist if you won't vote for the African American. So you answer, "Not sure." In all the classic Bradley Effect elections (and NH fit the pattern), the polls got the vote for the African American about right, but OVERREPORTED not sure and UNDERREPORTED the other candidate's vote.
So when the brand new MSNBC-McClatchy-Mason Dixon poll in SC says there are twice as many undecided in the Dem race (15%) than in the GOP race (8%), you might suspect Bradley-ism in that poll. So what looks like a 9-point Obama lead with a fat undecided might in fact portend a very close race, no? [E.A.]
Has the MSM lost its ability to hound candidates from the race? If McCain loses in 'make-or-break,' 'single elimination' South Carolina on Saturday, will he be forced to drop out? Probably not. For one thing, he has too many supporters in the press. They can't quit him! For another, as First Read suggests, the press may have lost its ability to hound a candidate out of the race--a long-term consequence of Hillary's bolt-from-the-blue victory in New Hampshire. It's not just that the candidates themselves see less reason to drop out after the press has pronounced them dead, though that's probably true. (The press pronounced Hillary dead, and look what happened.) It's that one of the important mechanisms of hounding-out--increasingly negative coverage that turns off your funders and embarrasses you with constituents back home--may have broken down. That would be because the press itself has lost confidence in its ability to declare a candidate 'over,' and funders would be less likely to believe the press if it did. ... I predict that even Edwards, if he loses in both Nevada and South Carolina, will continue to get respectful MSM treatment. ... P.S.: Edwards is a special case, in part because he has no constituents back home to embarrass himself with. But even Rep. Duncan Hunter, who does have constituents but very few primary votes, is still in the race. Maybe the constituents don't care anymore if their elected official persists in a doomed, Kucinich-like White House campaign. Maybe Hunter's district is so gerrymandered he couldn't possibly embarrass himself enough to threaten his majority. [Seecorrection**] Or maybe running a doomed campaign isn't embarrassing anymore. It's like having a blog, but with buttons! And many more radio interviews. ... P.P.S.: For a contrary view see John Ellis, who argues the networks will cut off coverage of candidates like Edwards for their own budgetary reasons--coverage is expensive--which will in turn starve Edwards of the MSM attention he needs to keep raising money, etc.. Ellis could be right! Edwards will be a test--I bet the networks and the big papers either revise their budgets, or keep someone part-time on him. Or else Edwards figures out low-cost, non-MSM, Internet-based ways to carry on. This test won't happen if Edwards, you know ... wins. But then they'll never get anyone to drop out. ... **--Correction: Text originally referred to his "reelection." Hunter is not seeking reelection. But his son, who has the same name, is running for his seat. That presumably provides some reason for the elder Hunter not to embarrass himself. ... 11:41 A.M. link
P.S.: Edwards is a special case, in part because he has no constituents back home to embarrass himself with. But even Rep. Duncan Hunter, who does have constituents but very few primary votes, is still in the race. Maybe the constituents don't care anymore if their elected official persists in a doomed, Kucinich-like White House campaign. Maybe Hunter's district is so gerrymandered he couldn't possibly embarrass himself enough to threaten his majority. [Seecorrection**] Or maybe running a doomed campaign isn't embarrassing anymore. It's like having a blog, but with buttons! And many more radio interviews. ...
P.P.S.: For a contrary view see John Ellis, who argues the networks will cut off coverage of candidates like Edwards for their own budgetary reasons--coverage is expensive--which will in turn starve Edwards of the MSM attention he needs to keep raising money, etc.. Ellis could be right! Edwards will be a test--I bet the networks and the big papers either revise their budgets, or keep someone part-time on him. Or else Edwards figures out low-cost, non-MSM, Internet-based ways to carry on. This test won't happen if Edwards, you know ... wins. But then they'll never get anyone to drop out. ...
**--Correction: Text originally referred to his "reelection." Hunter is not seeking reelection. But his son, who has the same name, is running for his seat. That presumably provides some reason for the elder Hunter not to embarrass himself. ... 11:41 A.M. link
Obvious question for Hillary: "Just to tie up a loose end here, if 'no woman is illegal,' then they should get drivers' licenses, right?" ... [Tks to reader P.S.] ... 10:11 A.M.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Isn't the press making a bit too much of Hillary losing the black vote in the Michigan Dem primary to "uncommitted" by a 26 to 70 margin? The Michigan primary had been declared meaningless by the Democratic National Committee, the press, and the candidates. If you were a Hillary-supporting black Democrat, why bother going to the polls? If you liked Obama, though, you might want to make a statement. One would expect the vote to skew misleadingly towards Obama, no? 11:40 P.M.
HuffPo blogger Chris Kelly mocks Ann Coulter's eulogy for her father. Classy. ... 11:18 P.M.
Emailer X (or is it Y?)--who seems to know his GOPs--sends this usefully pithy analysis:
I don't think the importance of SC can be over-stated now. If Huckabee wins, there will be panic in GOP circles. If Romney wins, the base will be very uneasy. If Thompson wins, everyone will be completely confused. If McCain wins, the base will be very unhappy. And Giuliani won't win.
Zero-sum alert: NBC's estimable First Read on last night's debate--
All three candidates will feel good about this debate; Clinton seemed to come prepared with a "Nevada" plan; Edwards had a "I'm still relevant" plan, and Obama had a "I am presidential" plan. They may have all made progress. [E.A.]
I don't think so! The campaign is a zero-sum game--candidates can only make progress at other candidates' expense, and there are only so many votes you can steal from Dennis Kucinich. Maybe the debate was a wash, but it wasn't win-win-win. ... P.S.: I thought Hillary was back to being grating, especially when she insisted on taking the floor from Tim Russert in order to make the provocative point that "We've got to do more to give families the tools and the support that they should have." She may have to cry again soon. ... Meanwhile, Obama's 'I'm not an operating officer' admission seems near-disastrous. a) Obama makes the presidency sound like a grand, slo-mo transformation of vision into legislation. But there are crisis requiring quick, coordinated action, and the type of leader who can act effectively in a crisis is likely to be a good "operating officer" rather than a visionary; b). Once you pass a law you have to implement it, which requires getting results out of the civil service departments. This would seem to be especially true of national health care. The president who ignores the bureaucracy and focuses on 'vision' is apt to be defeated by that bureaucracy. c) Immersing yourself up to the elbows in the various departments is one way to find out the information that bureaucrats are unlikely to pass up the chain of command. ... I'm not saying Obama's model of the presidency can't work if he chooses the right "operating" officer to actually run his administration. I'm saying voters would be justified in preferring a president who was a good "operating officer." ... 2:53 P.M.
We know what you did on bloggingheads last summer: David Corn mines his bloggingheads "diavlogs" with free-thinker Jim Pinkerton for opinions that might embarrass the latter's new boss, GOP candidate Mike Huckabee. If I were Corn I'd have focused more on Pinkerton's Neil Youngish space plans rather than his unsubtle mosque-control notions. But you make the call. ... Update: You knew that it wouldn't take long after Pinkerton took over for the robots to arrive! They'll do the jobs Americans won't do! [via Corner] ... 1:36 P.M.
Ezra Klein has a future at HuffPo's "Russert Watch": The ambitious whippersnapper adds to his electronic resume with a subtle, Kemptonesque assessment of the Meet the Press host that's unlikely to endear him to, say, Tom Brokaw. Chris Matthews, on the other hand, might take Klein out for a drink.. ...P.S.: Similarly, when I went to the press room at the St. Anselm's debate after sniping at Klein, I was worried I'd get grief from his fellow leftish whippersnappers. Turned out I was the most popular guy in the room! More popular than I usually am, anyway. ....They don't like him! They really don't like him! ... Update: Klein response here ("I regret that it was made public ....") . ... 1:01 P.M. link
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Mark Blumenthal looks at the four polls that kept polling on the Monday before the New Hampshire primary and calls out Zogby, challenging him to release the rolling numbers to back up his seemingly conflicting statements before and after Hillary's surprise victory. (Zogby's final poll was gruesomely wrong.) ... 1:45 P.M.
I'm not sure the Feiler-Skurnik Effect-- in which uninformed procrastinating voters make their decisions based on what they see in the last 24 hours of a campaign--applies to Republicans. But if it does this incident will damage Romney in Michigan, no?. ... P.S.: The late-decider issue gets discussed with Tom Brokaw on the On Point radio show. Brokaw maintains that last-minute voters aren't uninformed, at least in New Hampshire. But he would say that. ... Audio bonus: I get attacked by a pro-Edwards caller who doesn't like bloggers mentioning the lurking Rielle Hunter love-child scandal! ... 10:31 A.M.
Monday, January 14, 2008
If Kucinich is included in tomorrow's debate that's bad news for Edwards, no? The debate then looks less like a three-way fight and more like '2 contenders and 2 losers.' ... 9:46 P.M.
E-mails we wish we hadn't ignored:
----- Original Message -----
From: Robert Wright
To: Mickey Kaus
Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2008 5:06 A.M.
Subject: Re: Working on feature on bloggingheads.tv]
have you noticed that the more post-debate voters a poll includes, the better hillary does? (even at a very fine-grained level; read bullet point #4 here: http://www.pollster.com/blogs/poll_cnnwmurunh_new_hampshire_10.php) This probly doesn't signify a hillary victory, but I'm guessing Obama's margin of victory will be way lower than 10 percent, so she can claim to be the comeback kid.
I emailed back that any Hillary gains would likely be "swamped in a last-minute turnout surge." (Wright wasn't even in New Hampshire. What did he know?) ... 5:56 P.M.
Black Bradley Effect? Noam Scheiber has speculated that black voters might tell pollsters one thing and do another in the South Carolina primary, just as (it's theorized) white voters did in New Hampshire:
Is it possible that some black voters would tell pollsters they support Hillary (or that they're undecided) because they don't want to sound like they're voting mainly out of racial solidarity, even though they actually intend to vote for Obama?
He could be right! But what if this black Bradley Effect operates in the other direction--black voters tell pollsters they are going to vote for Obama (because they feel that's expected of them) and then vote for Hillary or Edwards? In other words, they behave exactly like the white voters in the Standard Bradley Effect. That would take some of the sting out of the implicit charge of "racism" that always lurks underneath the Bradley Effect, no? ... Of the two possibilities, I'd guess the latter is more likely. Are African-Ameican voters really worried that they'll "sound like they're voting out of racial solidarity"?** I'd think fear of being considered a self-hater or Oreo (or practitioner of "middleclassness"!) looms larger in most black communities, unfortunately. But I don't know. ... P.S.: Of course, it's possible neither effect will materialize, and it's also possible they will cancel each other out. ...
**--Update: Debra Dickerson's argues, contra Scheiber, that telling a pollster you're going to vote for Obama is a "cost-free" way to indicate solidarity for black voters who are actually undecided. It might even be a consolation prize of sorts. ("I'd say I was voting for Obama when I know very well my mind's far from made up. I just want to give him a shout-out and let America know we're on the move.") ... 5:32 P.M.
Undernews Alert: It's hard to believe that Obama's Afrocentric church--with its troubling attack on "the pursuit of middeclassness"--isn't going to be an issue in the campaign, soon. There are already wild, inflammatory emails circulating, apparently. ... Update: Here is the offical Obama response page. Excerpt:
"There is information on the Black Values System in the new member packet provided at Trinity, and the new member classes put the Black Values System in the historical context of the civil rights movement."
Hmm. It must be understood in "the historical context." That'll reassure nervous white voters! The Obama camp would seem to be severely underestimating its vulnerability on the church issue if it thinks lecturing people on the civil rights movement will solve this problem for them in the long run. ... 1:18 A.M.
Friday, January 11, 2008
There isn't another contested Democratic primary for 9 more days? What are we supposed to do in the meantime? Can't they speed the process up? ... Voters don't tune in until the last 24 hours anyway--so the last 24 hours might as well come sooner! ... 12:09.A.M.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
I'm as flummoxed as everyone else, having gone along with the near-universal consensus that Obama would win. Mystery Pollster has his work cut out for him. But I'm confident that soon enough there will be so many powerful explanations for what now seems an out-of-the-blue event that it will appear to be overdetermined. It's important to memorialize this moment of utter stupefaction.
That said, here are four possible factors:
1. Bradley Effect: It seemed like a nice wonky little point when Polipundit speculated on the Reverse Bradley Effect--the idea that Iowa's public caucuses led Dem voters to demonstrate their lack of prejudice by caucusing for Obama. Now this is the CW of the hour. Polipundit wrote:
I suspect that Obama may have scored better than he would have in a secret-ballot election, and benefited from a Reverse Bradley Effect.
New Hampshire, of course, is a secret ballot election. Voters might have told pollsters one thing but done another in private.** New Hampshirites I ran into Tuesday night mentioned that the state was very late ratifying the MLK Holiday.
2. Lazio Effect. No ganging up on the girl! First, Edwards turns on her in the debate. Then Obama says she's merely "likeable enough." Then the press disparages her anger, mocks her campaign and gloats over its troubles. They made her cry! And then that mean macho John Edwards goes and says the crying makes her unfit to be president. (I was told voter leaving Edwards in the closing hours went disproportionately to Hillary, not Obama.)
3. Feiler/Skurnik Effect: What's stunning is the ferocity and speed with which Hillary's fortunes turned around in those final hours. Kf has a theory to explain that! Actually, two theories. The familiar Feiler Faster Thesis holds that voters are comfortable processing information at the vastly increased speed it can come at them. Jerry Skurnik's "Two Electorate" theory holds that voters who don't follow politics are much less informed than they used to be, which causes polls to shift rapidly when they do inform themselves. Put these two together and you've got a vast uninformed pool of voters that only begins to make up its mind until the very last minute--after the last poll is taken, maybe--and then reaches its decision by furiously ingesting information at a Feileresque pace. In fact, the percent of voters who made up their minds at the very end in N.H. was unusually large. (Add convincing statistic here!)
Two implications of the Feiler/Skurnik combo: a)Momentum from the previous primary doesn't last. When the early primary dates were set, the CW held that the Iowa loser would never be able to stop the Iowa "wave" effect in the five days between the two primaries. It was too short a time. In fact, it wasn't short enough. A three day separation and maybe Obama would have won. As it was, by the time the uninformed voters tuned in on Sunday and Monday, Iowa was ancient history.*** b) Instead, these voters saw clips of Hillary having her emotional tearing up moment. In other words, the Feiler/Skurnik Effect magnifies the significance of any events that occur in the final day or two of the campaign. After yesterday's election, expect more of these events.
4) The Congestion Alert Effect: I remember when the Southern California transportation authorities installed a state-of-the-art series of electronic signs alongside the freeways to give motorists instantaneous warnings of traffic delays. The signs don't do that any more. Why? It turned out that when you warned drivers of congestion on Route A, they all took Route B, leading the latter to become congested instead of the former. Similarly, independent voters in N.H. were told by the press that the Democratic race was a done deal--so they voted in the closer, more exciting Republican race. Which made the Republican race not so close and the undid the deal in the Dem race. (Brendan Loy published this theory first.) [ via Insta]
5)Bonus CD-only Theory--The Orthodox Shul Effect: Alert emailer B.L. writes:
The independents broke the way worshipers do at an orthodox (anything) religious ceremony. The ladies went left and the lads went right (most female indies voted in the Dem primary; most male indies in the Repub).
In other words, it wasn't the lower number of independents voting in Democratic primary that hurt Obama, but which independents voted Dem. McCain's race sucked away precisely those independents most likely to vote for Obama--men (and also, we might speculate, relatively conservative women).
**--The Reverse Bradley Effect, in other words, meant that the Iowa results, which seemed to show that the regular ol' Bradley Effect wasn't operating, were deceptive. As this eerily prescient post suggests:
If the Reverse Bradley Effect holds, then, Obama will do worse in New Hampshire than his Iowa triumph would lead you to expect, even if Hillary does nothing to change anyone's mind. ...
See, I knew it all along. [But you forgot it?--ed No. I actually never knew it. Always thought Obama would win big]. ... ***--In this respect, New Hampshire was a replay of the 2000 Michigan GOP primary between Bush and McCain, in which Bush's momentum faded stunningly quickly. ... 1:10 A.M. link ___________________________ Tuesday, January 8, 2008 Mark Blumenthal is liveblogging the N.H. poll results. (Most recent entries are at the bottom.) ... 5:48 P.M. ___________________________ Joe Trippi explains John Edwards' brilliant strategy of losing Iowa and getting clobbered in New Hampshire.It's a huge load of BS! ... But why would Edwards drop out? What else does he have to do? And as long as Trippi keeps spinning these scenarios, he keeps getting paid, right? ... P.S.: A respected emailer defends Trippi--
***--In this respect, New Hampshire was a replay of the 2000 Michigan GOP primary between Bush and McCain, in which Bush's momentum faded stunningly quickly. ... 1:10 A.M. link
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Mark Blumenthal is liveblogging the N.H. poll results. (Most recent entries are at the bottom.) ... 5:48 P.M.
Joe Trippi explains John Edwards' brilliant strategy of losing Iowa and getting clobbered in New Hampshire.It's a huge load of BS! ... But why would Edwards drop out? What else does he have to do? And as long as Trippi keeps spinning these scenarios, he keeps getting paid, right? ... P.S.: A respected emailer defends Trippi--
"if his client wants to soldier on, what's he supposed to say? "I know we can't win, but Edwards, the fool, wants to keep fighting?" Trippi knows what they're up against.
It's still BS. It seems to me there is a way to soldier on that doesn't involve selling elaborate bogus scenarios. In 2004, I actually bought some of them! ... P.P.S.: Luckily, as of 9:12 Eastern, Edwards is the big loser tonight, because Hillary is emphatically not out of the race. ... 3:20 A.M. link
McCain's 'Banana': Mark Krikorian on "amnesty" semantics:
The perennial controversy over what to call McCain's amnesty is silly. Every program in the world that has allowed illegal immigrants to stay has been called an "amnesty." McCain himself called it "amnesty" as recently as May 2003, when he told the Tucson Citizen "I think we can set up a program where amnesty is extended to a certain number of people who are eligible … Amnesty has to be an important part ..." But once the focus-group results were in, "amnesty" became a four-letter word. ...[snip]
Real Straight Talk would be to say "Sure, it's an amnesty, but we don't really have any choice" ...
P.S.: The McCain, post-focus-group argument is that it can't be "amnesty" if it has some requirements--e.g., to pay a fine, learn English, etc. But it turns out that Ronald Reagan's 1986 "comprehensive" reform, which he and everyone else called an "amnesty," had requirements too, including payment of fees. ...
It really is impressive that McCain still gets fawning reporters to call his bus the "Straight Talk Express" while his defense of his most significant recent domestc initiative depends entirely on the employment of cumbersome and obscuring PC euphemisms (e.g., "earned legalization," "comprehensive reform" "undocumented immigrants" ...sorry, make that "Nonimmigrants in the United States Previously in Unlawful Status," etc.). That is, where it doesn't require outright untruths (i.e, that illegals would "not be in any way rewarded for illegal behavior"). The latter are, oddly, less annoying. At least they're straight lies. ...
If you care about the immigration issue, and oppose "amnesty" (or whatever you want to call it--"legalization," "regularization," or "banana" if you prefer), it's pretty important that McCain be defeated a) As a cautionary example to other pols, and b) to ensure that at least one party's candidates are skeptical of the merits of "comprehensive" reform. New Hampshire is the best place to do it. Go Mitt! ... 12:15 A.M. link
The Anchoress predicted the cryin' on January 2:
What I dread most in this political season is the "genuine" moment - and it is coming, soon, sometime between today and tomorrow, or tomorrow and New Hampshire - when Mrs. Clinton, in her ongoing effort to turn herself into whatever the polls says she must be, cries in public. It's going to be genuinely ghastly.
Eerie! [via The Corner] 1:12 A.M.
Monday, January 7, 2008
The much anticipated train-wreck joint Bill and Hillary rally in Manchester was not a train wreck. The crowd wasn't huge--maybe 1000--but it was noisy. Bill just stood there and didn't talk. Hillary gave a long, impressively smooth stump speech that was oddly state-of-the-unionish in its inclusion of every policy initiative in her platform. Sort of the fantasy state of the union address she will probably never give! At least not in this election cycle. Aren't election eve speeches usually just short rousers? ... The other odd thing about Hillary's speech is that it contained virtually no reference to anything that has happened in the past weeks. No "we're behind in the polls but don't believe the polls," or "we're surging," or "they're saying dirty things about us" or "it's down to the wire--I'm counting on you," etc. She could have given virtually the same talk in New Hampshire two months ago. ...P.S.: She did add a bit of "future music by talking about all the great man-on-the-moonish things she'd help accomplish. That doesn't seem like a bad way to address her fabled "change" vs. "past" problem--though it obviously isnt enough. ... At one point I couldn't tell whether the crowd was chanting "Hillary" or "Four More Years." ... P.P.S.: Hillary now pledges to "end" No Child Left Behind. Is that new? ... 10:29 P.M.
Dana Milbank falls into the McCain bus swoon. McCain's "on a roll," you see. But what I've heard from reporters who've been to McCain's rallies is that the crowds are smaller and less enthusiastic than expected. .... If Romney pulls off a N.H. win after really only turning around in the Fox debate Sunday night, it will be a stunning confirmation of both the Feiler Faster Thesis and Jerry Skurnik's theory that because uninformed voters are more uninformed than ever they only learn enough to actually make up their minds very close to the Election Day. ... 10:07 P.M.
Heading into Manchester, I heard a strong radio ad, excoriating the leading Republicans for being soft on illegal immigration, from ... Ron Paul. Is that the official libertarian position? ... P.S.: The ad said Paul doesn't want illegals to get Social Security benefits. I believe it! Does he want anybody to get Social Security benefits? ... P.S.: Objectively, as we Marxists say, this is an anti-McCain, therefore pro-Romney ad at this point, no? ... Update: John Tabin says, "There is no 'official libertarian position' on immigration," and charges Paul with ... well, read the item ... 3:54 P.M.
'I'm just so upset that someone who's not ready from day one might lead our country': Crying! Why didn't she think of that before? ... Update: Phony or not? Well, it seems studied, if effective. And Hillary does manage to work in her talking points. ("And we do it, each one of us, because we care about our country. But some of us are right and some of us are wrong. Some of us are ready and some of us are not, some of us know what we will do on day one and some of us haven't thought that through enough.") It's not like she dropped her facade. ... 11:10 A.M.
Monday's Must-See Event--The Train Wreck Tour: The reporters I talk to are looking forward to the final pre-election joint Bill and Hillary Clinton rally Monday evening with the same lascivious delight you might encounter before a Britney Spears/Amy Winehouse double bill. Everyone expects it to be a gruesome night for the Clintons; their aides have been lashing out at the press uncharmingly. Anything could happen! ... 1:30 A.M. link
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Sunday Fox debate: Romney won decisively over McCain in Luntz's undecided 'focus group.' Romney's attack on McCain's immigration plan sent the dial-meters into the stratosphere. ... Update: Though some of those Luntz focus-groupers seem a bit familiar, in a Greg Packeresque kind of way. [Thanks to emailer W.B.] ... Not So Fast: I ran into Luntz at the Radisson, and he said he intentionally uses some people at more than one successive focus group, which lets him track their opinions over time. He concedes a downside, which is that when voters become part of his focus-grouping machine their thinking changes. He said the ratio was 20% repeats, 80% fresh faces. ... 6:41 P.M. link
Straight Talk on Illegal Immigrants and Social Security: Mitt Romney's failure to hang "comprehensive immigration reform" around John McCain's neck in last night's debate may have been the defining failure of Romney's candidacy. We'll see if he does better in the Fox debate that just started. [Update: He did, but maybe not better enough.]
It's been my impression that McCain has been locked by the realities of the issue into a tactic of gruff testy dissembling--e.g., saying that illegals he'd legalize would "not be in any way rewarded for illegal behavior" (of course they would--how many people around the world would like to pay a fine and come and live here legally?) or that they'd have to go to the "back of the line behind everybody else" (nope- they get to short-circuit the most important line, the line to get into the "citizenship" line).
One issue I wasn't clear on, though, was whether--or, more precisely, when, exactly-- illegals would have qualified for Social Security benefits once they were legalized under McCain's various "comprehensive" plans. Several MSM 'truth-checkers,' such as the NYT's Marc Santora, have claimed that McCain would let illegal immigrants get Social Security when they
come forward, pay fines, then wait their turn to become citizens ... but only after they are citizens.
That was clearly BS (citizenship isn't a requirement). But what was the truth? I emailed someone who actually knows the details, Mark Krikorian, and got back this response:
Citizenship is most assuredly NOT required to collect Social Security -- only legal status. There's actually two questions -- 1) can you collect benefits if you're illegal, and 2) can you accrue credits toward future Social Security benefits from illegal work. ... [snip]
[T]he Senate bill required that amnesty applicants (probationary Z visa
holders) be issued Social Security numbers "promptly." So, technically, McCain is right in saying that he's against letting illegals get Social Security checks, but that's just a dodge, since he'd legalize them all, *then* give then Social Security.
The answer to the second question is "maybe" -- illegals have in fact been able to use "unauthorized work," in the Social Security Administration's parlance, to count toward future benefits; see: http://www.cis.org/articles/2004/back904.html , scroll down to "SSA Law Inconsistent on Illegals".
But S1639 wouldn't have allowed that because of an amendment; see here http://www.numbersusa.com/hottopic/senateaction0507.html and scroll down most of the way down to "Hutchison SA 1415" which "Prohibits the granting of Social Security credit for wages earned by illegal aliens prior to their being granted amnesty under this bill" and passed by voice vote. Though, as Sessions Loophole thing points out, visa-overtsaying illegals who'd been issued a Social Security number when they arrived (as workers or students) *would* have been able to use the credits from wages they earned after they fell out of status (i.e., became illegal aliens) toward collecting future benefits.
McCain was even worse in 2006, when he voted against an amendment by Ensign to that year's successful amnesty bill that would have done the same thing as Hutchison's 2007 amendment. So, he says he's now aware that the people want enforcement first -- has he also learned that the people don't want illegal work counted toward Social Security? Because he was for that before he was against it.
McCain's comment here
I do not support nor would I ever support any services provided to someone who came to this country illegally, nor would I ever and have never supported Social Security benefits for people who are in this country illegally, that is absolutely false.
is simply a lie. The second part is a weasely, politician lie, because he'd amnesty the illegals first, then give them SS, but the first part is a normal unambiguous lie. In fact, as Sessions points out, even Z visa holders who would have been *rejected* for amnesty could have accrued credits toward future Social Security, because they would have had legitimate SSNs. And if there were no effort in the future to root out and arrest rejected Z-visa-holding applicants (as if!), then they'd have kept on working and accruing credits toward future SS benefits.
And no one even seems to have asked McCain whether he supports the Totalization Agreement with Mexico, which would count work in *Mexico* toward future SS benefits here, and is commonly seen as the next step after legalization. [E.A.]
In other words, illegals wouldn't have to pay fines and wait to become citizens to get Social Security. They'd qualify for Social Security almost immediately, as soon has they got their quickie "probationary" Z-visas. But most might not get credit for earlier work done here illegally, at least immediately. That depends on whether you're talking about the 2006 McCain or the 2007 McCain. ... 5:19 P.M. link
Huck's Secret: I don't particularly like Huckabee--he's slick, and sells a bleeding heart approach--but his invocation of social equality in last night's debate was moving, and would seem to provide a firm basis for going national:
In that sense of equality, the greatest principle is that every human being and every American is equal to each other. One person is not more equal because of his net worth or because of his I.Q. or because of his ancestry or last name.
That was a radical idea when those 56 signers put their names on that document, knowing that if their experiment in government didn't work, they were going to die for it.
Makes Fred Thompson's grumbled lawyerly mention of "constitutional principles"--"the checks and the balances, the separation of powers"-- seem kind of dessicated, no? ... Someone should write a book about how social equality needs to be the basis of American politics in an era of globalization and rising income inequality! ... 3 :26 P.M. link
Big Pimpin' in N.H.: Gave three women a ride to their motel from the Radisson. Was pulled over by police who suspected we were ... part of America's growing service sector. Where is Ron Paul when you need him? ... 2:45 P.M. link
I was surprised by all the talk in the debate spin room about Hillary's angry little speech after Edwards took Obama's side in the great "change" debate. The talkers assumed it was a potential Rick Lazio election-losing moment, an audience turnoff--a judgment echoed here and here ("dogmatic ... angry ... vicious"). ... I was surprised because when it happened, I thought to myself, "pretty good response." I've seen it again-- here--and I still don't get what's wrong with it. Unconvincing, maybe. Heated, yes. But not overheated or uncontrolled or unhinged. This isn't the sort of thing I usually say--but isn't Hillary's outburst exactly the sort of forceful putdown male candidates not only get away with, but are expected to come up with? ... Maybe have a high tolerance for confrontation. I thought Lazio won that debate. ...
P.S.: But if it's true that Hillary's the big loser tonight, is it possible that she'll actually get beaten for second in New Hampshire by Edwards? He's not that far behind in some polls. He was effective in the debate at the end, alas. ... If he does catch Hillary, he'll be very hard to get out of the race, even if he loses in South Carolina. Rielle Hunter could make it out of the undernews after all. ... Update: First Read's Chuck Todd adds--
Clinton may now be the candidate who needs to get Obama in a one-on-one; Edwards and Richardson are now distractions and are complicating her ability to go after Obama; Obama, meanwhile, needs the extra candidates.
Put these two thoughts together, and you reach the conclusion that Obama may soon want Hillary to stay in the race. ... Meanwhile, if Hillary now wants Edwards gone, and Sid Blumenthal's email is still functioning, that might give the Rielle Hunter story the MSM-busting oomph it needs. ... 1:21 A.M. link
Friday, January 4, 2008
Is Ezra Klein young enough to be this pompous?
Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I've heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence
Actually, pompous isnt really the word for this passage. There's a sort of hectoring naivete, as if Klein's too inexperienced to know that "call us back to our highest selves" is a drained cliche. And why do the whippernsappers always have to lecture? ... P.S.: The whole post isn't this bad. It's actually worse. And pompous! ... [via Corner and reader N.B.] ... 9:19 P.M. link
Mo' Iowa: 1) Polipundit suggests Obama may have benefitted in Iowa from a "reverse Bradley effect.' The open, public voting of the caucuses provided Democrats with
"a golden opportunity to show your next-door neighbors just how enlightened and progressive you are, by supporting the liberal black candidate."
On a secret ballot, Obama wouldn't do as well. If the Reverse Bradley Effect holds, then, Obama will do worse in New Hampshire than his Iowa triumph would lead you to expect, even if Hillary does nothing to change anyone's mind. ...
2) I haven't heard any MSM pundit mention another possibility a Polipundit reader mentions: that Romney may have done worse than the polls indicated because the Republican caucuses did use a secret ballot--and people who wouldn't tell a pollster they weren't going to vote against a Mormon in fact voted against a Mormon. This is not a reverse Bradley Effect. It's the regular ol' straight Bradley Effect;
3) Wasn't the Iowa Dem outcome a vindication of the beleaguered Incumbent Rule, which holds that undecideds break overwhelming against an incumbent at the end. Hillary was the functional equivalent of an incumbent. [Thanks to alert reader K.B., who a) emailed it days before the vote and b) suggested that between Edwards was more of an "incumbent" than Obama, so the latter would have the edge among late-breaking anti-incumbent undecideds.]
4) Reader T.F. notes that Edwards did not improve on--or even match-- his 2004 Iowa performance.
In 2004, Edwards got 32% of the caucus in Iowa in a four-person field.
In 2008, Edwards got 30% of the caucus in Iowa in a three-person field.
Richardson, Biden, et al might object to calling 2008's race a "three-person field," but you get the point. ... P.S. Defining Nonviability Down--The Union Leader's John DiStaso on Edwards and New Hampshire:
John Edwards? Should he finish a strong third — close to the second-place finisher — he's in good shape. But should he drop below Bill Richardson, which is unlikely but possible, he's in trouble.
Huh? If the result is Obama 42, Hillary 21 and Edwards 19, Edwards is in "good shape"? He has to lose to Bill Richardson to be in trouble? ... Update:Politico's Josh Kraushaar has some standards ("at least a strong second-place performance")! ...
5) Note that Richelieu, a McCain booster (even in the highly unlikely event that he's not Mike Murphy) predicted McCain would finish third with 17%--a "surging third." He came in fourth with 13%--a "disappointing 4th," wrote NBC's First Read, in an honest assessment you don't find many other places in the MSM. Somehow, the press never requires McCain to actually match the "comeback" hype it generates about him. ...
**--I once speculated that Harold Ford might benefit from a different kind of Reverse Bradley effect in his Tennessee senate race, in the form of conservative white voters who don't want to admit to their buddies or to pollsters that on the secret ballot they were going to vote for the black Democrat. I don't think this effect actually materialized, however. ... Update--Not so fast: Chris Richardson argues Ford did get a boost when many whites "voted for him because of his skin color." But wouldn't this show up in the pollls? Not entirely, apparently. The late preelection polls showed Ford an averge of 6 points behind--and he lost by only 3. ... 8:36 P.M. link
Iowa: 1) Was Hillary lucky she finished third, by .28%, instead of second? Had she finished second, Edwards might have fallen out of the race, leaviing her to face Obama one-on-one, a confrontation she'd almost certainly lose right now. If she could subsidize Edwards' campaign at this point, she probably would. 2) Reading: John Ellis is surprisingly tough on Romney for failing to "run as a Republican Gary Hart." Suddenly everyone wants to be Gary Hart (except Gary Hart). ... Peggy Noonan is bracingly vicious about Ed Rollins. ...Rachel Sklar notes an insufficiently remarked on Obama advantage: The press is very cautious about going against him. ("[E]ven as I write this I feel the need to check and recheck to make sure I don't somehow say this wrong. Obama is that candidate — the one you are careful writing about. I don't think it's just me") ... 3) This is Mary Matalin "angry"? She must get angrier than that. 4) Des Moines Register pollster Ann Selzer, who correctly predicted the big turnout and the big Obama victory, may now become a near-mythic figure. As Mark Blumenthal put it before the vote:
If Ann Selzer had wanted to play it safe, she could have weighted her results by past caucus participation or party identification (or both) as many other pollsters do. Her results would have been in line with other polls, far less controversial and no one would have questioned her judgment. But she didn't do that. As an Iowa based survey researcher, she put her own reputation and that of her most important client on the line because she believes in her methods and trusts her results....
Hillary chief strategist Mark Penn, on the other hand, looks like a sad spinner. But he has bigger problems. ... 5) In what is becoming a tradition, the network "entrance" polls were apparently a debacle. ... 6) If Iowa had been an authentic real primary election, instead of a hard-to-attend caucus, would Obama's win have been bigger, or smaller? Bigger, no? ... 7) Best unchecked rumor of the evening: Did Edwards bring in Pat Caddell for advice toward the end? That would explain the anger! ... 12:37 A.M. link
___________________________ Bloggingheads--Bob Wright's videoblog project. Gearbox--Searching for the Semi-Orgasmic Lock-in. Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--He reports! And decides! Wonkette--Makes Jack Shafer feel guilty. Salon--Survives! kf gloating on hold. Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! David Corn--Trustworthy reporting from the left. Washington Monthly--Includes Charlie Peters' proto-blog. Lucianne.com--Stirs the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. Keller's Calmer Times--Registration required. NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare! Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog. Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. Overlawyered.com--Daily horror stories. Eugene Volokh--Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna's Huffosphere--Now a whole fleet of hybrid vehicles. TomPaine.com--Web-lib populists. Take on the News--TomPaine's blog. B-Log--Blog of spirituality! Hit & Run--Reason gone wild! Daniel Weintraub--Beeblogger and Davis Recall Central. Eduwonk--You'll never have to read another mind-numbing education story again. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. John Leo--If you've got political correctness, he's got a column. Gawker--It's come to this. Eat the Press--Sklarianna & Co. are like Gawker if Gawker actually believed in something. ... Luke Ford--Go for the sex, stay for the self-loathing. ... [More tk]
Bloggingheads--Bob Wright's videoblog project. Gearbox--Searching for the Semi-Orgasmic Lock-in. Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--He reports! And decides! Wonkette--Makes Jack Shafer feel guilty. Salon--Survives! kf gloating on hold. Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! David Corn--Trustworthy reporting from the left. Washington Monthly--Includes Charlie Peters' proto-blog. Lucianne.com--Stirs the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. Keller's Calmer Times--Registration required. NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare! Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog. Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. Overlawyered.com--Daily horror stories. Eugene Volokh--Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna's Huffosphere--Now a whole fleet of hybrid vehicles. TomPaine.com--Web-lib populists. Take on the News--TomPaine's blog. B-Log--Blog of spirituality! Hit & Run--Reason gone wild! Daniel Weintraub--Beeblogger and Davis Recall Central. Eduwonk--You'll never have to read another mind-numbing education story again. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. John Leo--If you've got political correctness, he's got a column. Gawker--It's come to this. Eat the Press--Sklarianna & Co. are like Gawker if Gawker actually believed in something. ... Luke Ford--Go for the sex, stay for the self-loathing. ... [More tk]
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Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case
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