Running on Blade Runner

A mostly political Weblog.
March 3 2008 2:46 PM

Running on Blade Runner

Mayor Villaraigosa sees L.A.'s future, and it's dense.

Fear of Feiler: How much of the press drumbeat of doom designed to drive Hillary from the race is motivated by journalists contemplating the gruesome prospect of seven weeks of campaigning without a major primary--this in a hyper-covered, fast-info era in which a mere two week campaign for Texas and Ohio has seemed like a Bataan Death March? ... 1:10 A.M.

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Would "the absolute consistency of [Obama's] position on the war" allow McCain to attack him as "inflexible and without nuance"? Stanley Fish's argument to this effect  makes sense only if you assume that Obama wouldn't show new flexibility--the long-awaited Pivot--once he secured the nomination. Isn't Obama smart enough to do that? ... 1:04 P.M.

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And now for another view of William F. Buckley: Since Buckley can no longer defend himself, it seems bad karma to even link. But  try to stop reading it. The ruptures on the Right over immigration long predate John McCain, it turns out. ... 12:45 A.M.

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MR. RUSSERT:  Bob Shrum, it is tough trying to figure out these primaries. For example, that poll in Texas estimates the black turnout at about 22 percent...

MR. BOB SHRUM:  Right.

MR. RUSSERT:  ...of Obama's overall.  In 2004 it was 21 percent.  The Obama camp will say it might be higher because of the energy in the campaign.

MR. SHRUM:  Well, it will be.  2004 was a nonevent.  John Kerry was already the Democratic nominee for president. ...

You'd think black turnout would rise with a black presidential candidate fighting for the Dem nomination. But in California you'd be wrong, at least according to the 2008  exit poll, which put black turnout at 6% of the total, down from 8% in 2004. ... Backfill: The black percentage didn't increase in Florida or Virginia either, apparently (but did in Arizona). ... 11:37 P.M.

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I'm with Althouse on Hillary's "as far as I know" answer on theObama/Muslim canard. It seems like mere reflexive politico-legal ass-covering on her part, not innuendo-spreading. If you're Hillary, you have to have learned not to make sweeping declarations of fact about things you can't really know--e.g., "Obama is not a Muslim"--without adding a caveat. Her sin, if any, was not realizing that this instance was an exception to the normal rule --an occasion where she'd be expected to make a sweeping declaration of fact about something she couldn't really know. And to do it on 60 Minutes--where smart politicians are normally primed be very cautious.. ...8:55 P.M.

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Under-undernews Alert: Too bad the Globe lacks the credibility of the Enquirer. ...11:29 A.M.

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And she hasn't even cried yet: Obama slipping in Texas, falling behind in Ohio. Is Hillary's mutnemom kicking in? ... 10:16 A.M.

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Running on Blade Runner: LA Weekly unloads its magnum opus  on Mayor Villaraigosa's underdebated plan to make Los Angeles a couple of stories taller and a whole lot denser. a) The plans seem to call for 2.5 million more people. But when it comes to population growth, according to the Weekly

the two key causes are illegal immigration and the high birth rate among the poor and working poor.

If somehow various immigration-control measures actually slow illegal immigration--i.e., if the Gran Salida continues--will all those multi-story apartments actually be needed? Put another way, does Villaraigosa's growth plan depend on continued illegal immigration?b) There's a case for greater density. What's most alarming is that Villaraigosa seems to be planning greater density without first building the subway system that might move all those people around. The Weekly provides a helpful sidebar comparison with Mexico City. c) The most powerful anti-growth voice cited by the Weekly is County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. But the city's already-dense West Side would have had a subway years ago if Yaroslavsky and his Democratic ally Henry Waxman hadn't foolishly stopped it in the 1980s and 1990s ... "He blocked the subway his city needed" is one of the things that will be on Waxman's tombstone, along with "He expanded Medicaid." ...  "He busted Roger Clemens" is unlikely to make the cut. ...

Update: Emailer S.G. notes that the political system seems structured to produce the worse of both worlds: Powerful private developers are able to push through dense, multi-story housing. The only thing anti-growth forces are able to stop is the subway, because it (unlike apartment buildings) requires public, federal funding. The result: paralysis. Even in Blade Runner, there was a monorail, no? ...  5.55 P.M. link

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Friday, February 29, 2008

HuffPo--"Study Suggests Tougher Words for Dems On Immigration": An obvious con job by the Center for American Progress, et. al.. In this "confidential" study, comprehensive reform boosters urge Democrats to seem tough by adopting the rhetorical attitude of their opponents.

"It is unacceptable to have 12 million people in our country who are outside the system," it reads. "We must require illegal immigrants to become legal, and reform the laws so this can happen."

In other words, we will take a tough stand against illegal immigrants by making them all ... legal. Sorry, by requiring them to become legal!That'll teach them to mess with our laws again! ... Of course, you can make any kind of amnesty seem like a triumph for the rule of law through this rhetorical trick: These [insert violators here] broke the law. But now we are bringing them into the system by making them all law-abiding residents again! Before: illegal. After: legal! How much more law-and-orderish can you get? ...

If the pro-legalization Dems do have to adopt faux-tough rhetoric to appeal to voters, however, that does suggest they are losing the public debate-- and bodes ill for the House Dem leadership's attempt at a last-minute Semi-Amnesty Sneak Play  that would combine some popular border enforcement measures with a new visa that would legalize illegals for five years. ... 6:53 P.M.  link

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Katrina of All Potemkin Fences! Gee, it seems like only five days ago that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was singing the virtues of Boeing's "virtual fence" on the Mexican border:

"I have personally witnessed the value of this system, and I have spoken directly to the border patrol agents...who have seen it produce actual results, in terms of identifying and allowing the apprehension of people who were illegally smuggling across the border," Chertoff said.

Today we learn, from WaPo, that the "virtual" fence "did not work as planned" and has been delayed for three years by Chertoff's department.

The border fence saga can be confusing, filled with subtle twists, turns, and feints.** But here is my brief potted history. Please explain where I've got it wrong:

1) Border control advocates want  an actual physical fence.

2) Respectable Bush comprehensivist types like Chertoff want to substitute a sophisticated hi-tech "virtual fence" for the crude actual physical fence.

3) Border control types say the "virtual fence" won't work.

4) Respectable Bush comprehensivists like Chertoff in fact cut back on actual fencing, choosing the "virtual fence."

5) Where it's installed, the actual fence works.

6) Where it's installed, the "virtual fence" doesn't work .

7) Chertoff  feels sorry for himself  ("I thought I heard myself getting roundly criticized ... as squishy and soft").

Then you can explain to me why Chertoff still has his job.

P.S.: Tammy Bruce has one unsubtle, but not implausible, explanation--Chertoff was only doing what he was supposed to do:

In other words, we've all just been taken for a ride .... In order to do whatever possible to avoid building an actual physical fence ... Bush, McCain and their amnesty cronies made sure a monumental amount of money was wasted on a fake, untested, unreal fence to placate conservatives ... .

And now, after the tens of millions of dollars spent on an unworkable, failed system, and a year of the Feds touting the genius of the 'virtual' fence, Amnesty Secretary Michael Chertoff now says the border will not be prot[e]cted by a physical fence or even a virtual fence ...

Instead, Bruce notes, Chertoff seems to be counting on plans "to double" the DHS "fleet of three unmanned aerial vehicles." That's a total of six (6) drones. Not joking. That's what he said. Three thousand miles of border. Six drones. Talk about a "light footprint"! This is the pre-Petraeus Iraq strategy applied to the border.

Except that this time John McCain almost certainly approves, at least in private. Of course, if McCain really wants to prove his bona fides as a newborn secure-the-border conservative, he might start by saying the things about Chertoff that he said about Donald Rumsfeld regarding Iraq (or that he now says he said about Donald Rumsfeld). ...

P.P.S.: Did both Democratic contenders for the presidency endorse the virtual fence in a debate only a week before WaPo reported that it doesn't work? I think they did! ...

** Note: For example, there was this deceptively simple exchange in a press conference  a month before the 2006 election:

Are you committed to building the 700 miles of fence, actual fencing?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes ...

In fact, this was like an obvious typo in the paper, something experienced Washington observers discounted immediately. What Bush clearly meant to say was "No"--that he planned to finish only 370 miles of fence and also count "300 miles of vehicle barriers."  ... [Thanks to reader S.6:54 P.M. link

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Should later primaries count more than early primaries? If Hillary wins Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania, that's what she's going to claim. It's not a bogus argument. Voters in late primaries have more information than voters in early primaries. Superdelegates should be able to take note. That's different from arguing that Hillary should be able to pull strings and get superdelegates even if she keeps losing. ... kf's suggested HRC strategy: Cry. Duh. She cries, she wins! Wail Mary! It worked twice.  Why not try it until it stops working? ... 5:57 P.M.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

McCain BS Denial #2? 10:12 A.M.

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Russert Chokes in Clutch: In Tuesday's debate, Tim Russert definitely let Obama off the hook  on the issue of Obama's chosen pastor, Rev. Wright:

RUSSERT: The title of one of your books, "Audacity of Hope," you acknowledge you got from a sermon from Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the head of the Trinity United Church. He said that Louis Farrakhan "epitomizes greatness." He said that he went to Libya in 1984 with Louis Farrakhan to visit with Moammar Gadhafi and that, when your political opponents found out about that, quote, "your Jewish support would dry up quicker than a snowball in Hell." What do you do to assure Jewish-Americans that, whether it's Farrakhan's support or the activities of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, your pastor, you are consistent with issues regarding Israel and not in any way suggesting that Farrakhan epitomizes greatness?

If Russert had broken it off quickly around where the boldface stops--e.g., "do you feel comfortable associating yourself with these sentiments"--he'd have had a pointed question that put Obama on the spot. By babbling on about Jews and Israel--as if only Jews could be offended by Farrakhan--he gave Obama an easy answer that let him ignore Wright and the avoid the tricky business of distancing himself from his pastor. ("Tim,  I have some of the strongest support from the Jewish community in my hometown of Chicago ..." etc.).

Like Andy McCarthy, I don't think Russert was consciously helping Obama escape. But there are any number of potential subconscious motives for Russert's choke, including fear that his image wouldn't benefit if he were the heavy who skewered the popular, charismatic black Dem frontrunner. ... 12:33 A.M. link

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Is Obama Deval Patrick II? Obama didn't steal the words of his buddy Deval Patrick, governor of Massachusetts. He borrowed them. OK. But what are the other similarities between Obama and Patrick? The two pols have a lot in common even aside from shared rhetoric. Has Patrick's term been a success, or has it been a cautionary example of a promising, race-transcendant Democrat squandering his mandate by governing as a hack interest-group liberal? Fred Siegel has an answer  to this question. Excerpt:

Patrick's governorship is the closest thing we have to a preview of the "politics of hope"—and that governorship has been a failure to date. As Joan Vennochi observes in the Boston Globe, "Democrats who control the Legislature ignored virtually every major budget and policy initiative presented by a fellow Democrat." Patrick's record in office, Vennochi concludes, "shows that it can be hard to get beyond being the face of change, to actually changing politics." His stock has sunk so markedly that Hillary Clinton carried the state handily against Obama in the Democratic primary despite, or perhaps because of, Patrick's support for his political doppelgänger.

In one area, however, Patrick has achieved some of his goals. In thrall to the state's teachers' unions, he has partly rolled back the most successful educational reforms in the country. Most states gamed the federal testing requirements that were part of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act. But Massachusetts, thanks to Republican governors William Weld and Mitt Romney, created the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability to ensure that the state's testing methods conformed closely to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—federal tests that are the gold standard for measuring educational outcomes. In 2007, Massachusetts became the first state to achieve top marks in all four categories of student achievement. One of Patrick's first efforts as governor was to eliminate the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability. [E.A.]

Isn't it incumbent on those prominent NEA-bashing neoliberal Obama supporters to explain just why his term as president won't quickly descend into a Patrick-like interest-group quagmire? Jon Alter, this means you! And Charles Peters as well. ... P.S.: Patrick could function as Obama's wrang-wrang, Vonnegut's term for a pioneer who by his bad example steers others away from a false course. Before neolibs go into a permanent campaign swoon, shouldn't Obama send them at least a subtle signal that he understands this?

Backfill: Here's Vennochi's column. She's a bit more charitable than Siegel. ... Update: Boston Globe on Patrick's strained relationship  with the legislature. Hope= casino gambling? ... 4:19 P.M. link

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"Any comment that is disparaging of either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama is totally inappropriate."-- Sen. McCain today. ... Is that really how McCain is going to run for president? Why can't you disparage your opponent in a political campaign? ... I'm obviously late on picking this up, but McCain really does have a habit of making categorical, blunderbuss statements that maximize, not the truth, or his political maneuvering room, but his own sense of righteousness. ... Examples: 1) It's not that he doesn't remember various Iseman-related meetings. They never occurred. 2) The United States will not torture (except, you know, when it will). 3) Any comment disparaging of Senator Obama is not just inappropriate, it's "totally" inappropriate (except down the road, of course, when it may become necessary ...). 1:47 P.M. link

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Meet the Press Moments! 1) Doris Kearns Goodwin, absolving Barack Obama on the question of his lifted uplift. ... Writes itself! ... 2) Goodwin, on politicans' sex scandals:

But I think the serious thing that happened is just this change in relationship between the candidates and the reporters has been such a sea change.  In 1920, the reporters knew in detail that Warren Harding was having an affair for 15 years.  They thought it wasn't their business to talk about the private life, compared to a front-page article that suspects an affair on the part of some aides.  In fact, the Republican committee was so worried about this affair that they actually gave the woman $20,000 and sent her to the Orient during the entire campaign to get her out of the way.  So we've changed the whole notion of what part of a private life matters.  When the real story is what part of the public life matters. [E.A.]

Huh? If the Republican committee was so worried about Harding's mistress, doesn't that show she was considered relevant, and that there was a chance that at least some of the press would see it as their business?

Bonus PBS Newshour Moment: David Brooks defends the McCain campaign's reliance on lobbyists because

A lot of them work for no pay.

Um, doesn't that make it worse? If they work for no pay, then McCain owes them. Is he going to pay them back as President? On the other hand, if they get paid lavishly for their work in the campaign, he's freer to tell them to take a hike later, no? ...[Thanks to alert reader J] 12:14 A.M.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

'I helped Page Six for decades and all I got was this lousy squib'? I was never quite sure "Baird Jones" actually existed. He was such a flickering ominpresence in the gossip pages, he could easily have been invented. But he was apparently an actual person, who is now dead. The NY Post, which Jones practically kept afloat with a steady stream of mid-range celebrity gossip items, has covered itself with ungrateful shame in its stinting report, but Radar at least begins to do him justice, including revealing a seemingly crucial secret. ... 8:07 P.M.

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Things That Bother Media Matters: Now Tucker Carlson is echoing! Will he stop at nothing? P.S.: Either George Soros is wasting his money on MM or someone else is. ...  6:14 P.M.

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Hear No Univision, See No Univision: It's dispiriting to watch the conservatives at National Review bend over backwards to play down the New York Times' McCain-Iseman story.  What if before McCain had effectively won the nomination--say, when he and Romney were contesting New Hampshire or Michigan--it had been revealed that he may have been excessively influenced by a gorgeous  lobbyist for Univision, the Spanish language broadcaster with a vested financial interest in promoting bilingualism at the expense of a unifying common language? So much so that the lobbyist boasted of her influence at meetings? So much so that McCain's right-hand strategist tried personally to intervene and tell her to go away? You think it might have been an issue? ...

P.S.:National Review Online's David Freddoso scoffs  at the idea that McCain received a mere $85,000 from Iseman's clients since 2000, arguing that if that's all McCain got he's "pathetic" at trying to "take advantage of people" in his committee's purview. Hmm. a) Former Univision CEO, controlling shareholder and Iseman client Jerrold Perenchio is a National FInance Co-Chair of McCain's campaign. Presumably he brings in more than $85,000; b) The worry isn't that McCain was taking advantage of Univision, et. al. It's rather the other way around. Or, more precisely, that this was a smarmy, mutually self-interested alliance that helped McCain and Univision in ways that maybe went beyond promoting the national interest

If conservatives substitute "National Education Association" for "Univision" maybe the potential scandal will be easier to see. But at this point, McCain could be caught having an affair with Juan Hernandez  and it wouldn't bother the National Review. ...

Backfill: Steve Smith, Matthew Yglesias  and Matt Welch notice what the NR seems to miss. ...1:44 A.M. link

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"Hillary Should Get Out Now": Why would it help either Hillary or the Democratic party if she were to drop out before March 4 Texas and Ohio primaries, as fantasized by my friend Jon Alter? If Obama wins the two states, he'll be a much stronger candidate for it. If he loses, then Hillary would have been a fool to drop out, no?  The idea that two weeks more of a relatively tame primary campaign is going to damage Democratic chances eight months from now seems a stretch. ... If Hillary dropped out now while she still has a small but non-trivial chance, it wouldn't show "grace and class" so much as lack of judgment. ... Alter, an Obama supporter and is just going to bat for his guy. .. P.S. Also, Hillary's "beautiful closing answer" in the Austin debate wasn't a "more genuine" Hillary. It was one of her phoniest moments yet. Nice try, though. ... 12:51 A.M.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

How is letting Marketa Irglova back on stage to finish her Oscar acceptance speech like Kosovo independence? Feels good, bad precedent. [Other ex.?-ed Immigration amnesty!] 11:37 P.M. 

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Friday, February 22, 2008

The McCain camp declares "Mission Accomplished" on the Iseman story. I mean, what could happen now to give it legs? ... Oh wait. Isikoff already has BS McCain Denial #1, which is where his campaign says  that

"[n]o representative of [Iseman client] Paxson [Communications]  ...discussed with Senator McCain the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proceeding regarding the transfer of Pittsburgh public television station (WQED) ..." 

It turns out McCain himself said in a deposition that he'd discussed it with Mr. Paxson himself. McCain's subsequent staff's defense doesn't help the Senator:

"I]t appears that Senator McCain, when speaking of being contacted by Paxson, was speaking in shorthand of his staff being contacted by representatives of Paxson."

Err ... McCain was fairly explicit on the issue in a sworn deposition, saying "I'm sure I spoke to [Paxson]". ****

Oh well, so he maybe got it wrong under oath. Another sign of his gruff authenticity!**

What's striking about the story so far is the extent to which core McCain supporters concede that if it's confirmed McCain is through. I don't see why that would have to be true--I'd think he could confess, cry, and weather the storm. (If the GOPs had someone to beat McCain they'd have beaten him already.) But here's McCainiac David Brooks:

At his press conference Thursday, McCain went all-in. He didn't just say he didn't remember a meeting about Iseman. He said there was no meeting. If it turns out that there is evidence of an affair and a meeting, then his presidential hopes will be over.

That means, of course, that even if the story is true, loyal McCain supporters would be under tremendous pressure--even self-imposed pressure--to deny it. Is McCain point man Charlie Black saying anything he wouldn't say if McCain did have the affair, and the meeting? A question to keep in mind.

**--Josh Marshall has more on McCain's distinctly un-Clintonesque style of blanket denial. In another politician this would just be recklessness. Does McCain do it because he hasn't been burned--i.e. the press has always given him a pass before? ...

****--Update: Paxson himself now tells Wapo he met with McCain.  ... The McCain camp asks us to accept that when both parties to an alleged romance deny it, it didn't happen--but that when both parties to a meeting say it did happen, it didn't happen either. ... 4:21 P.M.  link

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In 2006, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both voted for the Secure Fence Act, widely understood to entail building 700 miles of fence along the Southern border. Now Hillary says

There may be places where a physical barrier is appropriate. I think when both of us voted for this we were voting for the possibility that where it was appropriate and made sense it would be considered, but as with so much, the Bush administration has gone off the deep end, and they are unfortunately coming up with a plan that I think is counterproductive. [E.A.]

Hmm. Isn't that a little like voting for the Iraq War and then saying you were just voting for the possibility that if it were appropriate it would be considered? 

In this case, though, Obama is attempting the same two-step. He says he and Clinton "almost entirely agree" regarding the fence, adding

As Senator Clinton indicated, there may be areas where it makes sense to have some fencing. But for the most part, having Border Patrol, surveillance, deploying effective technology, that's going to be the better approach. ... [E.A.]

Is voting for a fence and then denying you were actually voting for a fence the old politics of Washington or the new politics of hope? I get confused. ... 2:57 A.M. link

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Dingalink of the Week: There is no excuse for our lapse in judgment. It won't happen again. ... 2:10 A.M.

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Kosovo = Aztlan? Just asking! ... 2:05 AM.

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The Scandal Is What Isn't Scandalous, Part III: Mike Huckabee's wife "attended a middleweight prize fight this past weekend in Las Vegas--where she stayed at the Hooters Casino Hotel"--which "may be problematic with conservative Christian voters," reports the S.F. Chronicle.

There's a Hooters hotel? Yikes. ... 1:42 P.M.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

My reaction to the NYT's McCain-hot lobbyist story? As McCain's supporter Arnold Schwarzenegger famously said, in a similar context:

"A lot of [what] you see in the stories is not true, but at the same time, I have to tell you that I always say, that wherever there is smoke, there is fire. That is true.

a) When the Times reports that two McCain "associates** ... said Mr. McCain acknowledged behaving inappropriately and pledged to keep his distance from Ms. Iseman," the vagueness of "inappropriately" might mean the NYT doesn't have the goods on any possible romance. But it suggests to me that the paper's sources might not want to give it the salacious details or the paper itself is too decorous. If by "inappropriately" doesn't mean anything sexual, then the NYT has indeed been surprisingly sleazy. Someone should ask Mr. Rutenberg.  

b) The Scandal-is-What-isn't-Scandalous Dept. Part I: From the NYT story:

The McCain aides said the senator sided with Ms. Iseman's clients only when their positions hewed to his principles.

A champion of deregulation, Mr. McCain ... introduced a bill to create tax incentives for minority ownership of stations; Ms. Iseman represented several businesses seeking such a program. [E.A.]

How is introducing this bill in keeping with McCain's deregulatory or deficit cutting instincts? There is no more fetid swamp of corrupting government favoritism than the FCC's minority ownership programs. And tax incentives aren't really all that different in their budget-gutting effect from earmarks, are they? If those are McCain's principles ...

c) Part II: This paragraph from WaPo's follow up  seems like a small fire in itself:

At the time he sent the first letter, McCain had flown on Paxson's corporate jet four times to appear at campaign events and had received $20,000 in campaign donations from Paxson and its law firm. The second letter came on Dec. 10, a day after the company's jet ferried him to a Florida fundraiser that was held aboard a yacht in West Palm Beach.

That was normal practice? Isn't it less damning if he did it for love?

d) McCain's License to Lie: McCain seems convinced that his wartime heroism and general righteousness make it OK for him to lie in bullying fashion when he really has to (e.g., when he needs to pretend that under his immigration plan illegal immigrants would "not be in any way rewarded for illegal behavior"). That could be what's happening here too. ... Of course, as Michael Kinsley (and one of my emailers) has noted,  sympathetic liberal reporters perversely give McCain straight talk points  when he lies. That could happen here as well. ...

Backfill: Jack Shafer has already made many of these points. ...

**--The NYT describes these sources as two "former associates" of McCain. The text here originally said "aides." WaPo reports that "[m]embers of the senator's small circle of advisers" confronted McCain. McCain  denies that the confrontation took place. ...  3:37 P.M. link

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'I Was Nowhere Near Milwaukee': Now that he's safely won Wisconsin--a state relatively friendly to school vouchers-- Obama genuflects to the teachers' unions by denouncing "misleading reports that Senator Obama voiced support for voucher programs." ... If you were in the mood to grasp at straws in Obama's defense--i.e. the mood I'm in, don't know about you--you would note that this isn't a Full Grovel,** which would involve retracting, rephrasing or apologizing for the Obama statements that suggest an openness to vouchers (if evidence turns out to support them). Instead, Obama's campaign merely calls "out of context" and emphasizes the anti-voucher aspects of his platform. That seems more like the Minimum Necessary Grovel to keep the National Education Association happy while preserving Obama's freedom to reverse his "longstanding skepticism" in the future. ...

**--An example of a Full Grovel would be DNC then-chair Paul Kirk's statement after he gave an interview suggesting openness to a Social Security means test: "I was wrong. Our party ... is unalterably opposed to any cuts in Social Security benefits. I should not have mentioned the subject of a means test." 11:42 P.M. link

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Howie Kurtz is his own worst enemy? Not while Charles Kaiser is alive! Kaiser, who first (as far as I know) pointed out that Kurtz has the worst conflict of interest in journalism--Kurtz covers CNN while being "well compensated" by CNN for hosting a media show-- updates his anti-Kurtz brief. Best new point: Kurtz tries to compensate for his conflict by avoiding writing about CNN, which in itself is doing CNN a favor:

According to Nexis and the Washington Post's own website, during the past 12 months, the one subject the media reporter for the Post has almost never written about is ... CNN.

This sort of benign neglect couldn't come at a better time for CNN, since many of Kurtz's own colleagues believe the news network has gotten so tabloidy and superficial that it's no longer worth watching at all.

11:20 A.M.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Give me purity, but not now: If McCain adviser Mark MacKinnon is going to quit the McCain campaign because he doesn't want to "be attacking" Obama, shouldn't he have quit already? McCain's been attacking Obama for at least a week.  ... 5:12 P.M.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Is Hillary better off losing Wisconsin? My friend S called with a so-crazy-it-might-be-true theory about the Democratic primary contest, which is this: Hillary does best when Democratic voters sense she's about to get brutally knocked out of the race, as in New Hampshire. That prospect taps a well of residual sympathy for a woman who has devoted her life to politics, etc. But when Hillary is triumphant she seems arrogant and unbearable, and voters feel free to express those perceptions at the polls. It follows that Hillary will do better in the crucial states of Ohio and Texas if she loses in Wisconsin and has her back to the wall. If she wins Wisconsin, and holds a big happy victory rally trumpeting her newfound momentum, the result will be a another surge of support for Obama. ... In other words, it's not that there is no momentum from a primary victory this year ("nomentum"). There's reverse momentum ("mutnemom!"), at least where Hillary is concerned. If she wins a primary one week that makes her more likely to lose the next one. .... 3:06 P.M. link

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Is that an S-Chip on Your Shoulder or Are You Just Glad to See Me? John Podhoretz argues that Michelle Obama's comment--about how "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country"--

suggests the Obama campaign really does have its roots in New Class leftism, according to which patriotism is not only the last refuge of a scoundrel, but the first refuge as well — that America is not fundamentally good but flawed, but rather fundamentally flawed and only occasionally good.

He could be right! Her comment is also of a piece with the cavalier Obamaesque dismissal of the achievements of the Clinton years  and  her church's focus on "this racist United States of America."  ** But is the explanation necessarily political? Even Dennis Kucinich would probably have no problem finding something to be proud of in the past two decades. If Michelle Obama's default position is set to "Aggrieved," it also suggests something personal, no? Maybe, like many strong wives, she wonders why her husband is the one on the top of the family ticket--which might also explain her strange occasional habit of belittling him  in public ("snore-y and stinky"  ). Beats me. For whatever reason, she sure seems to have a non-trivial chip on her shoulder and it's not a winning quality. ...

**--In a forthcoming bloggingheads episode, Bob Wright reminds me of another jarring comment from Mrs. Obama, speaking about her husband:

"[T]he realities are, as a black man, Barack can get shot going to the gas station."

And white men don't get shot at gas stations? Sure, Mrs. Obama might have meant to say, in an anodyne rephrasing, that "as someone who lives in Barack's neighborhood, he could get shot going to the gas station." There are always anodyine rephrasings. At some point there are too many of them. ... 4:29 P.M. link

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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. ... Update: Wash. Times--  "Pro-lifers are the first part of the conservative base to rally around Sen. John McCain ..."   Heh-heh! ... 1:38 A.M. link

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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.

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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.

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'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.

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The nose of the Pontiac Solstice appears to have been subtly degraded. (Last year/ This year). ...1:06 A.M.

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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]

Worse, from the NEA's point of view, he seems to be open to ...v-v-vouchers  ...

 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."

Also:

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.

I guess we get to find out if John Edwards is right12:31 A.M. link

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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.

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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.

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Ellisblog makes a rare appearance to wallow in Clintonfreude. ... 8:53 P.M. 

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's hard out there for a Page: What word that he "shouldn't have"  did Mark Halperin use? ... Meow: The word appears to have been "pussy."   As in

"[Edwards]  thinks Obama is kind of a pussy. He has real questions about Obama's toughness ..."

Does that bother you? Doesn't bother me. It adds evocative oomph.  ... The Phoenix's Adam Reilly has a cheap snitfit here. Prissy! ...[via Romenesko4:09 P.M.

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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 Y1:08 P.M.

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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 Drudge12:06 P.M.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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Hillary-- 'Put A Tail On Him!'** Well, maybe not quite: From The Politico:

[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. ...

**--Wow, there is a really cheap double entendre here, isn't there? Unintended! I'm referring to this. ... 7:08 P.M link

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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," ...

Update: Brian Faughnan suggests the idea is to combine the quickie five-year amnesty with Rep. Shuler's border-strengthening "SAVE" bill, in a sort of mini-comprehensive open-faced sandwich. ...

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

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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.

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2006: I can't believe I said this. ...1:15 P.M.

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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**

then

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

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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

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Some grounds for skepticism about McCain's CPAC Suckup: 

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

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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. ...

Much more: See Part II of this post. ... 10:05 P.M. link

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Cutting Edge Visuals: Anderson Cooper has nothing like this. ... 4:13 P.M.

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Marion Barry to endorse Obama: Isn't there something Obama can do to stop this? 12:26 P.M.

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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.

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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

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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]

Update: How many votes were lost? The L.A. County Web site reports only 72,228 independent ballots for Democratic candidates were counted. Seems absurdly low for L.A., no? ...1:23 A.M. link

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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

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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.

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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

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"It's all about the Giants winning," said Greg Packer, 44 ..." ... 1:38 A.M.

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Monday, February 4, 2008

After you've trolled the usual spots, this Ben Smith page is the best fix I've found (though Drudge found it first). ... 4:23 P.M.

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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

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(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.

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Clinton campaign announces new theme song! 1:01 P.M.

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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

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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

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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.

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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. [1]

(APPLAUSE)

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 [2]

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. [3] 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.

(APPLAUSE)

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.

[1]: "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.

[2] 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. ...

[3] 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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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? ...

**--Was originally reported as Romney 33, McCain 31 (on Fox and CNN) and "Romney by 2" (ABC).  ... 6:57 P.M. link

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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

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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

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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.

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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. ...

More: See also Krikorian. ... 2:24 A.M. link

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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.] 

***--Clarification: I'm not saying Mirengoff defended McCain, but rather that he went out of his way to give McCain the benefit of every doubt and still concluded it was a smear. ...  9:15 P.M. link

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Clinton Obama

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

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Anti-Purple?--Backfill: Chris Richardson's furious Monday farrago  attacking Hillary's reliance on her "menacing, purple-faced husband" makes Maureen Dowd seem like Julie Andrews! ... 5:19 P.M.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Another paywall falls: The Atlantic's. ... 2:09 P.M.

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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.

12:59 P.M.

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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.

** Update: Obama's views on immigration, if not his actions, are more sensitive to anti-legalization arguments  than I'd expected. ... 6:54 P.M. link

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KBW10:44 A.M.

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Mounting evidence, from Charles Peters and Jonathan Cohn [$], that Barack Obama ("present" or not) was a highly effective--and "progressive"--state legislator. ... 2:31 A.M.

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Momentum Mori: Fred Barnes joins those noting that  "momentum" has run out of steam  in 2008:

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--

With that possibility in mind, it's never to early to float the name of a possible out-of-the-blue compromise candidate. John O'Sullivan floats "telegenic" Gov. Sanford. ... 2:17 A.M. link

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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.

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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

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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

Translation: It's only "amnesty" when Democrats propose it. ... 10:07 P.M.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

P.S.: I'm sure this is not a new idea. "Backfill" tk ... Backfill: Alert reader J.M. recommends this Alan Blinder paper. ... 1:31 P.M. link

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Ronald Reagan is praised by ... Bill Clinton (when he was in Obama's shoes). ... 3:26 A.M.

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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.

12:39 A.M. link

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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.

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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.]

4:49 P.M.

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Obama Church Update: He  defuses the Farrakhan issue, but not his church's misguided 'keep-it-real' guilt-tripping of successful blacks ("Disavowal of the Pursuit of 'Middleclassness'"). ... 4:12 P.M.

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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

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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.

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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.

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HuffPo blogger Chris Kelly mocks Ann Coulter's eulogy for her father. Classy. ... 11:18 P.M.

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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. 

4:12 P.M.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Only waterwork s works: Now he's crying.[via Lucianne] 2:36 A.M.

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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).

Backfill: Halperin has about 30 theories, including at least two of the above. ... Here's a Slate piece on the Bradley Effect. ... 

**--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  

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Mark Blumenthal is liveblogging the N.H. poll results. (Most recent entries are at the bottom.) ... 5:48 P.M.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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'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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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]