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Saturday, February 16, 2008
 
Will Barack Live Up to His Pledge?

The New York Times tries to help Obama out by making it sound like an "if I did, would you" type deal.

“It was very clear to me that Senator Obama had agreed to having public financing of the general election campaign if I did the same thing,” he said after a town hall meeting here. “I made the commitment to the American people that if I was the nominee of my party, I would go the route of public financing. I expect Senator Obama to keep his word to the American people as well.”

Asked if he would use public financing even if Mr. Obama did not, he said: “If Senator Obama goes back on his commitment to the American people, then obviously we have to rethink our position. Our whole agreement was we would take public financing if he made that commitment as well. And he signed a piece of paper, I’m told, that made that commitment.”


Oliver Willis suddenly feels that money in politics is a good thing:

For the first time ever, the Democratic party is outraising the Republican party. The party and its candidate will have the resources to compete on a huge playing field, not just shoring up its blue state base and courting voters in swing states, but there will also be the ability to truly compete in those red states the GOP is holding on to by a thread.


But of course this opens up Obama to charges that he is not something new, that he's the same old, same old. It tarnishes the aura, so to speak. And as James Joyner points out, perhaps it works to Obama's advantage to accept public financing given the enthusiasm gap.

Then again, if Obama is the nominee, he would enter the general election race as the favorite. It may well be that limiting the amount of money that can be spent — any major party nominee could raise more than $85 million if need be — would be to his advantage. The more the contest depends on free media like debates and the less it depends on television attack ads, the better for Obama, I’d think.

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Friday, February 15, 2008
 
Obama's Weather Underground Buddy

Sheesh, are the Democrats serious about nominating Obama with all the skeletons rattling around in his closet?

Besides Rezko and Giannoulias, Obama could face questions about his relationship with William Ayers, a former member of the radical group the Weather Underground who is now a professor of education at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Ayers donated $200 in 2001 to Obama's Illinois state Senate campaign and served with him from 1999 to 2002 on the nine-member board of the Woods Fund, an anti-poverty group.

A Series of Bombings

The Weather Underground carried out a series of bombings in the early 1970s -- including the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon. While Ayers was never prosecuted for those attacks, he told the New York Times in an interview published Sept. 11, 2001, that ``I don't regret setting bombs.''


Yes, that was a particularly exquisite bit of timing. Here's Ayers' Wikipedia page. Typical of terrorists, he was not from an impoverished background:

Ayers was a 1960s-era political activist and Weather Underground member. He grew up in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago in a highly privileged family (his father, Thomas Ayers, was Chairman and CEO of Commonwealth Edison) and attended Lake Forest Academy. According to Ayers' memoir Fugitive Days, he became radicalized at the University of Michigan. During his years there, he became involved in the New Left and the SDS.
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Fed Up With Ron Paul?

Patrick Ruffini is, and he's suggesting that we show support for Chris Peden, who is challenging Dr No in the Texan's 14th Congressional District. Ron Paul is apparently taking this seriously, as he's diverting some of the funds from his presidential campaign to the congressional race.

But Paul has a vast stockpile of campaign cash at his disposal, thanks to his fundraising success in this year’s presidential bid. He raised about $19 million in the last quarter, and, if he chooses to, he can transfer that money into his congressional treasury.

Paul campaign spokesman Mark Elam indicated that Paul was planning on spending money from his presidential campaign on his House reelection bid. He went up on the airwaves Tuesday with his first advertisement, a radio spot touting his biography and legislative accomplishments.


I should note here that this is probably something of a long-shot campaign, but Paul's opposition to the war and his nutty campaign for president have angered many in his district.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008
 
If This Continues, Expect Knife Fights at the DNC

Hillary is determined to win the nomination one way or another. It is amusing to see the scales falling from the eyes of so many liberals. Ezra Klein:

Put another way: If Hillary Clinton does not win delegates out of a majority of contested primaries and caucuses, her aides are willing to rip the party apart to secure the nomination, to cheat in a way that will rend the Democratic coalition and probably destroy Clinton's chances in the general election. Imagine the fury in the African-American community if Barack Obama leads in delegates but is denied the nomination because the Clinton campaign is able to change the rules to seat delegates from Michigan, where no other candidates were even on the ballot, and from Florida, where no one campaigned. Imagine the anger among the young voters Obama brought into the process, and was making into Democratic voters. Imagine the feeling of betrayal among his supporters more generally, and the disgust among independents watching the battle take place on the convention floor. Imagine how statesmanlike John McCain will look in comparison, how orderly and focused the Republican convention will appear.


Meanwhile, the Hillary supporters are griping that the rules are not being enforced evenly:

Iowa held their caucuses on January 3rd. That's more than 22 days before the first Tuesday in February. New Hampshire held their primary on January 8th. That's more than 17 days before the first Tuesday in February. And South Carolina held their primary on January 26th. That's more than 7 days before the first Tuesday in February.


Moo-On is complaining that the Super Delegates are not democratic, and that they should obey the will of the people:

"The superdelegates are under lots of pressure right now to come out for one candidate or the other," reads the petition from MoveOn, which has endorsed Obama. "We urgently need to encourage them to let the voters decide between Clinton and Obama -- and then to support the will of the people."


Somebody needs to tell these jokers that ignoring the will of the people is the reason for having super delegates; that these grandees of the party are there to make sure that the rabble don't nominate somebody who can't get elected. I don't know if that applies to Obama; he seems awfully green.

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Worst Campaign Song Ever?

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Cindy Supporting Terrorists?



Apparently discovering that she had no effect on US policy, she's decided to speak out against Egyptian policy:

Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan joined a protest Wednesday seeking the support of Egypt's first lady in ending a military trial of members of the country's largest Islamic organization.

Under the watchful eyes of dozens of black-clad and helmeted anti-riot police, some 50 heavily veiled wives and children of 40 senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood detained for the past year, gathered in front of the headquarters of first lady Suzanne Mubarak's National Council Women carrying banners calling for their release.

"I am here to protest the trial of civilians in front of a military tribunal as this is a violation to international law," said Sheehan, who gained fame in the U.S. for her sit-in outside President Bush's Texas ranch following the death of her son in Iraq.

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Hillary and Obama's Earmarks

Come under scrutiny from the WaPo:

Working with her New York colleagues in nearly every case, Clinton supported almost four times as much spending on earmarked projects as her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), whose $91 million total placed him in the bottom quarter of senators who seek earmarks, the study showed.


And of course:

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the likely GOP presidential nominee, was one of five senators to reject earmarks entirely, part of his long-standing view that such measures prompt needless spending.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2008
 
There Is No Bomb But Mohammed

The cartoon jihad continues:

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Live From Berzerkley

Our buddy ThirdWaveDave has the best summary of yesterday's activities outside the Marine recruiting station, over at Radio Patriot. Great photo collections at ZombieTime, like this one from the "Terrans":



And Protest Shooter.

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Senator McCain Blogger Call Report

The senator expressed satisfaction with last night's election results, noting that he won easily in Maryland and by nine points in Virginia.

There were several questions about the VP selection and the process of picking a VP. While the senator did not that agreement on philosophy would be key, he was naturally reluctant to respond to particular suggestions as to candidates such as Governor Mark Sandford or Senator Tom Coburn, stating that it was premature to talk specifics with Governor Huckabee still in the race.

There were two specific questions regarding earmarks. First, Robert Bluey noted that Congressman Henry Waxman had recently sworn off earmarks. Senator McCain expressed delight. Another caller said that some Republicans claimed that earmarks helped them get reelected. The senator's reply was that it would be much better for the party of small government to have them eliminated.

The best question (I thought) was about the upcoming trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other co-conspirators in the 9-11 attacks. The question was whether the senator would feel that military tribunals ensured a fair trial. The senator was adamant that KSM and his cronies did not deserve the protections afforded US citizens under the constitution.

I did not get the chance to ask my question, which would have been about the differences in a general election campaign versus Hillary or versus Obama.
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"Progressives" Celebrate a Big Win Over, Yes, a Democrat

Heheh, we get so wrapped up in the politics of the presidency at times that we forget the nutroots are working against the Democrats all the time:

Update--Huge night for progressive movement: With every precinct coming in with at least a 10% improvement for Edwards over 2006, let me reiterate this point: the new primary voters who are coming out for Barack Obama are also going to result in the first progressive displacement of a centrist, corporate, congressional Democrat via a primary in years. This it it. This is what we have been working for and building for. This is our emerging majority. We finally have the organization, and the voters, and the whole ball of wax. The movement has thoroughly come of age.


Hmmm, didn't they "displace" Joe Lieberman via a primary in 2006 as well? Oh, sorry I forgot, he came back to win the general election as an independent. That one didn't quite take, and of course it came back to bite the "progressives" in the butt this year. I know I'm looking forward to hearing Joe speak at the RNC.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2008
 
In Defense of Rush

This is wrong:

But, guess what? Even if, as the country veers left, living conservatives gnash their teeth and dead ones spin in their graves, a small class of conservatives will benefit. And who might they be? They might be those whose influence and coffers swell on discontent, and who find attacking a president easier and more sensational than the dreary business of defending one. They rose during the Clinton years. Perhaps they are nostalgic. It isn't worth it, however, for the rest of us.


I've been pretty critical of the yakkers over the last couple of months, but I'm willing to take them at their word, that they think McCain will lead the conservative movement over the cliff. They're wrong, of course, but that does not mean they aren't sincere in their beliefs.

As I have discussed on several occasions, the problem for the talkers is that all they have is a hammer, and so as a result, everything looks like a nail. Rush speaks (supposedly) for the base of the conservative movement. He believes that only the base matters. It's lunacy, of course, but easier to recognize on the other side of the aisle. Does anybody believe that a candidate who excites the crowd at DailyKos is going to win in the general election? It clearly didn't happen this year even in the primaries; the preferred candidate of the nutbar left was John Edwards. Even the Democrats know better than to listen to their left wing. They know that they've got to nominate a moderate candidate to win.

The difference of course is that the Republicans have gotten used to winning and they treat it as a given. Ignore the polls that show John McCain winning; didn't polls show Michael Dukakis way out in front of Poppy Bush in 1988? Yes, they did, so therefore polls this early are meaningless.

Well, my friends, that's a load of bull. Polls this far out are NOT meaningless. They are certainly not infallible, but they are at least evidence of something. In 1988 they were evidence of Reagan fatigue. But Bush campaigned a little more to the center, Dukakis proved to be a stiff as a debater, and the GOP won easily.

Rush is wrong. But I don't think he's staging his little McCain mutiny to boost his ratings, and indeed, I would be very surprised if they haven't suffered a bit and will decline further unless he gets a clue.

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Will The Contest Be Dramatically Different If Obama's the Nominee Rather Than Hillary?



That's a question I plan to ask Senator McCain at the next blogger conference call. It comes to mind because of an AP poll result that seems very interesting:

In a finding that underscores both McCain's cross-party appeal and the bitterness of the fight for the Democratic nomination, about one-third of Obama's supporters picked McCain when asked their preference in a Clinton-McCain general election matchup. Nearly three in 10 Clinton backers said they would vote for McCain over Obama.


Sounds very much like the race will be dramatically different depending on the opponent, possibly putting different states into the "battleground" category. As has often been observed, Obama polls poorly among Hispanics, a category in which McCain should do quite well. McCain also polls well among older white women, another area in which Obama has had trouble.

Jerome Armstrong notes that the Obama campaign has not been specific about its plans for electoral college victory, as compared to the Hillary machine:

I'm not talking about the national polls either, but how does Barack Obama put together a winning electoral advantage over John McCain?

I have heard Clinton's many times, and its been played out in the Democratic nomination battle. She'll take an unprecedented high level of women and Latino majorities into winning all (or nearly all) the states that John Kerry (and/or Al Gore) won, and add in: Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Florida. Maybe there are some other states, but if we just add those 42 electoral votes to the Democratic column, Clinton would win.


I doubt Arizona is really available for Clinton given McCain's favorite son status. But at least Hillary has a plan; Obama has "hope".

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Monday, February 11, 2008
 
Rush the Ralph Nader of the Right?

Not sure how apt the comparison is, but he certainly seems as determined to pull his party to a place from which it cannot be elected.

Moreover, Limbaugh’s anti-endorsement could give the Tina Feys enough cover to quietly pull that McCain lever. A CNN poll in 2006 gave Limbaugh an approval/disapproval rating of 26/58. Every evangelical voter who stays home could be more than matched by a secular voter flipping to McCain. Consider Ohio - 25 percent evangelicals in 2004. They put President Bush over the top, but the 75 percent of non-evangelicals went for John Kerry by a margin of 13 points. Forty-seven percent of Ohio voters described themselves as moderates in 2004, and they voted Kerry by 18 points. Only 11 percent of Democrats voted for Bush. McCain could substantially improve on Bush’s numbers in the left and center.


The Limbaugh listeners probably aren't all that "evangelical", it's more the social conservatives who aren't terribly religious who are rebelling.

Still, terrific writing with an enjoyable flair, so read it all.

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The Pitiful Party

Bill Quick and a few others have started a website called the American Conservative Party. Apparently the platform is "No John McCains allowed!" My favorite post is this one:

Which would produce better conservative governance:

Hillary or Barack with a Republican Congress or a McCain with a Democratic Congress?

If you think about it logically, you'll know why no conservative should vote for McCain.


Brilliant! Exactly how the election is going to produce President Hillbama with a Republican Congress is a minor detail left unexplained. In fact, the real options are Hillary or Barack with a Democratic Congress, or McCain with a Democratic Congress or a very narrowly Republican Congress.
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Conservative Sclerosis?

Ross Douthat has a must-read editorial about how we got to this point, with the only two contenders left in the Republican field being the ones that Rush Limbaugh and others deemed unacceptable.

The conservative critics of Mr. McCain and Mr. Huckabee weren’t wrong on every issue. But in their zeal to read both candidates out of the conservative movement, often on the flimsiest of pretexts, the movement’s leaders raised a standard of ideological purity that not even Ronald Reagan could have lived up to.


Indeed, Ronald "Amnesty" Reagan would be considered a liberal by some in the conservative movement. But there are a number of other issues going on here as well:

1. Success breeds failure in two-party politics. This seems paradoxical, but it's true. As one party succeeds disproportionately, as the Republicans have for the last 28 plus years, many of its programs become implemented. Either they work, in which case they cease to be issues, or they don't, in which case the other party sweeps into power to repeal those programs. Consider high marginal taxes on upper income individuals. In the 1930s and 1940s punitive tax rates were imposed on individuals. But in the 1960 election John F. Kennedy ran on a program of cutting back taxes on the upper bracket from 90% to 70%. Effectively, upper-income individuals were able to keep three times as much of their income (from 10% to 30%). This freed a great deal of capital to be put to work in the economy as investments. When Reagan later lowered the top marginal rate from 70% to 50%, the effect was to allow upper-income individuals to keep 66% more of their income (from 30% to 50%. When the 1986 tax cuts reduced the top marginal tax rates from 50% to 28%, the effect was to allow upper-income earners to keep about 44% more of their money (from 50% to 72%). But even the Laffer curve has a limit.

Even with the Clinton tax increase upping the top marginal rate to 38%, in order to give another 40% boost, the tax rates would have to be reduced from 38% to 13.2% (so that people would keep 86.8% of their income rather than 62%). More important, no Democrat is running on a pledge to increase taxes significantly on upper-income individuals. So Republicans not only can't promise taxpayers another big tax cut, but they can't even scare those people with the prospect of a big increase if the Democrats are elected.

So what has happened? Upper-income individuals are voting on other issues than taxes, which inevitably hurts the Republicans at the margins

2. The failure of the Republicans to win on core social issues may be disenchanting social conservatives. Abortion has now been legal everywhere in the USA for 35 years. The culture has grown markedly more coarse during the Republican era (not blaming the GOP, just noting that it has been unable to stop the erosion).
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Are the Republicans Headed for the Cliff Even With McCain?

One of the arguments that we McCainiacs have used on our friends in the GOP is that Senator McCain is the most electable Republican. But looking at the turnout on the Democratic side of the primaries this year, is it not arguable that no matter which Republican we nominated we'd be heading for disaster?

Not necessarily. Karl at Protein Wisdom looks at the polls both nationally and in a few key states to show that there does not appear to be a landslide imminent. Meanwhile, Willisms looks at past turnouts to show that big participation in the primaries has not always translated into victory in the fall.

I find the Willisms' post interesting, but less convincing. For example, he points to 1980, when the Democrats had 18.7 million voters turn out for their primaries, while the GOP had 12.7 million primary ballots turned in, even as the Democrats were headed towards a historic defeat.

This overlooks a key dynamic in that race. Initially Carter did not face any intra-party challenge in 1980, but as it became obvious that he was headed towards defeat in the fall, Ted Kennedy threw his hat in the ring and drove interest in the race to new levels, even as Reagan was wrapping up his easy win in the GOP field.

Here's another way to look at those numbers. The "higher turnout in the primaries results in a win in the general" theory was wrong in 1972, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1996 and 2004. But it was right in 1976, 1992 and 2000. And what do those years have in common? They were all years in which the party out of power won the White House. Of course this still doesn't tell us whether this is one of the former years, or one of the latter.

And the complicating factor is the absolutely unique quality of this race, which we have remarked on quite often. This is the first time in at least my lifetime that there has been no heir apparent on either side. In every other election since 1952, either a sitting president or a sitting vice president was running on one side or the other. It's not terribly surprising that in 1972 or 1984 or 1996 or 2004, that turnout was higher for the party out of power (since they actually had a contest, not a coronation), and yet these did not presage victory in the general because incumbent presidents tend to win.

Now that the Republican contest seems largely settled, the Democrats will no doubt increase their turnout advantage. Indeed, some friends of mine in Virginia called me the other day to say that they were going to vote in the Democratic primary rather than the Republican because the race is settled on our side and they want to monkey-wrench the Democrats by helping Hillary.

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Electoral College Musing

John Fund looks at various possibilities. Could the Republicans lose Ohio and still win?

Let's assume that Ohio goes to either Mr. Obama or Ms. Clinton. It's at least as likely that Mr. McCain could carry New Hampshire. The Granite State went only narrowly to Mr. Kerry, a senator from a neighboring state, and Mr. McCain has unique advantages there. New Hampshire elections are determined by how that state's fiercely independent voters go, and Mr. McCain has won over many of them in both the 2000 and 2008 GOP primaries. He spent 47 days in New Hampshire before this year's primary and is well-known in the state. If Mr. McCain lost Ohio but carried New Hampshire and all the other states Mr. Bush took in 2004, he would win, 270-268.


Interesting stuff. I think Fund's a little optimistic about certain states but there is no denying that the Republicans have the best candidate to win independents and soft Democrats.
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Sunday, February 10, 2008
 
The Billionaire's Candidate

Is, unsurprisingly, a billionaire himself. Mark Cuban calls for NY Mayor Bloomberg to enter the campaign. But note this part:

I actually started to get a little bit excited about McCain. Then he went on the warpath to "mend his riff" with the Republican Party. I can only speak for myself, but the fact that he had a "riff" with the Republicans is exactly why i started to get excited about him. No, he hadn't presented any more details on his plans than any other candidate, but there was a glimmer of hope that he was a candidate that thought for himself.


The word he's looking for is "rift". So the blog maverick is not supporting the political maverick, because McCain's gone too far right. This illustrates the risk to the senator of continuing to court the supposed base of the party.

The idea that John McCain still owes something to the people who did not support his candidacy is mistaken. Suppose he does make the effort and everybody swoons with delight. What will happen the minute he tacks back to the center, as he must to win the election? The peasants will be back at the castle gates with torches and pitchforks.

There are not enough votes to win this election on the right. That is becoming appallingly obvious when looking at the number of people coming out to the polls in the primary states.

Look at South Carolina, for example. The Palmetto State is considered safe Republican; Bush won their by 17 percentage points over Kerry. Yet in this year's primary, 20% more people voted for the Democrats than voted for the GOP's candidates. And that although the GOP had an advantage in that their primary was open, and came a week before the Dems vote.

Or Missouri. Missouri is a battleground state, one of the key states in determining the presidential outcome. Bush won there by seven points in 2004, so Republicans figure to have a small edge there. But in this year's primary, 40% more people voted for Democratic candidates. Forty percent! And bear in mind that there was a very hotly contested three-way race on the Republican side (and a hotly contested two-way race among the Democrats). Now that the GOP race is over (and don't kid yourself, it's over), expect that turnout differential to increase sharply.

There are not enough votes in the base to win this election, not even close. McCain needs to move aggressivly towards the center now if he is to chip away at that lead.

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