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Saturday, February 09, 2008
What's Up with the Democrats?

I always have to caution myself when analyzing events on the other side of the aisle. We all know how hopelessly badly the liberals tend to understand Republicans; I am humble enough to recognize that in all probability I'm as lousy at handicapping their entries.

Chris Bowers at Open Left says he will leave the Democrats if something happens or doesn't happen, involving the Super Delegates. See if you can figure it out:

This is not a negotiable position. If the Democratic Party does not nominate the candidate for POTUS that the majority (or plurality) of its participants in primaries and caucuses want it to nominate, then I will quit the Democratic Party. If you think this is somehow rejecting the rules and bylaws of the Democratic Party, you are wrong. The fact is that there is nothing in the bylaws of the Democratic Party that dictate how super delegates should vote at the Democratic national convention. In the absence of any legal dictation of how they should vote, I will hold them to the principles that make me a Democrat: as the democratic institution through which internal disputes of the American center-left are resolved. If the Democratic Party fails to respect those principles, and their "super" delegates nominate someone for POTUS other than the person who received the most support during Democratic primaries and caucuses, then I fail to see any reason to continue participating in the Democratic Party. If the Democratic Party is not a democratic institution, then to hell with the Democratic Party.

A champion of Democracy? Errr, no. Obviously this leaves an unsettled question as to quite what Bowers means by "most support during the Democratic primaries and caucuses", as a commenter points out. Chris responds:

A 1% lead or more in pledged delegates from all 50 states and every territory. If it falls in between the plus or minus 1% range, I'll cut some lack. Otherwise, none.

Well, let's go over to the RCP delegates page to see who that means currently.

Hillary leads in total delegates, 1079 to 1017. However, that includes the Super Delegates. If those are excluded, Obama leads barely, by 880-868. It is well-established that in the next few states, Obama will probably do well, so he will widen that lead, but may or may not catch Hillary in the real total.

In the real world, I don't know what the total vote count is so far, but I strongly suspect that Hillary has won more popular votes than Obama, with his big wins in the South and Illinois matched by her victories in the Mid-Atlantic states and California. This site indicates that Hillary has outpolled Obama so far by 8.9 million to 8.4 million. Where's Bowers' pledge to leave the party if it does not abide by the popular vote?

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Fred Thompson Is a RINO

Well, that's what a lot of people would have said if he'd made this announcement a week ago.

"This is no longer about past preferences or differences. It is about what is best for our country and for me that means that Republican should close ranks behind John McCain," Thompson said in a statement reported by the Associated Press.

Michelle Malkin still believes she's in a position to make demands:

Sorry, I’m not ready yet to submit just yet.

Endorsements are all well and good, but personnel is policy. And McCain has done nothing to disassociate himself from anti-conservative, pro-border obliterationists. Less talk. More action.

Great writer, great thinker, but extortion only works when you have something to threaten the blackmailee with. Either the conservative right will come around or it won't (I'm betting on the former), but they're in no position to negotiate. We need their help, but most of them are already on record as saying there's nothing Senator McCain can do or say to change their mind about him. So why capitulate? Why not take them at their word and search in the center for votes?

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Friday, February 08, 2008
Man Charged in Robert McCartney's Death to Go On Trial This Spring

It's been quite awhile since I covered this story, but I am pleased to see that justice may be delayed, but (one hopes) it will be served.

Fifty-one-year old Terence Davison will go on trial in Belfast on either April 7 or May 12 - depending on openings on the Court List, said a spokesman for the Northern Ireland Court Service.

Two other men will stand trial with him charged with affray.

Details were confirmed as the McCartney family marked the third anniversary of his death.
But How Would the French Vote?

It is indeed the silly season, considering this story:

Germans would choose Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama over Republican John McCain if they were eligible to vote in the U.S. presidential election, a poll for ARD television found.

Sixty-nine percent of Germans would vote for Clinton while only 10 percent would back McCain, according to the survey carried out Feb. 6. In a contest between Obama and McCain, 65 percent would support the Democrat with 11 percent backing the Republican, ARD said today in an e-mailed statement.


Thursday, February 07, 2008
Text of Senator McCain's Speech

Is here.

Those are my beliefs, and you need not examine only my past votes and speeches to assure yourselves that they are my genuine convictions. You can take added confidence from the positions I have defended during this campaign. I campaigned in Iowa in opposition to agriculture subsidies. I campaigned in New Hampshire against big government mandated health care and for a free market solution to the problem of unavailable and unaffordable health care. I campaigned in Michigan for the tax incentives and trade policies that will create new and better jobs in that economically troubled state. I campaigned in Florida against the national catastrophic insurance fund bill that passed the House of Representatives and defended my opposition to the prescription drug benefit bill that saddled Americans with yet another hugely expensive entitlement program. I have argued to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, to reduce the corporate tax rate and abolish the AMT. I have defended my position on protecting our Second Amendment rights, including my votes against waiting periods, bans on the so-called "assault weapons," and illegitimate lawsuits targeting gun manufacturers. I have proudly defended my twenty-four year pro-life record. Throughout this campaign, I have defended the President's brave decision to increase troop levels in Iraq to execute a long overdue counterinsurgency that has spared us the terrible calamity of losing that war. I held these positions because I believed they were in the best interests of my party and country."

I know that some have said there is nothing Senator McCain can do or say to change your minds and support him, but I do encourage you to read the speech with an open mind. I have never been one to stand on the sidelines; I want to be in the game.

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Huge Props to Mitt!

Major reports going out that Governor Romney will drop out of the race today at CPAC and (one hopes) throw his support behind Senator McCain.

Plans to say during CPAC speech: “If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win….”

I have been critical of the gov in the past, but he's always struck me as a sensible, highly intelligent man. I don't know whether the bitterness of the campaign will rule this out, but I would strongly urge the McCain campaign to consider him seriously as a Veep nominee. It would go a long way towards bridging the divisions in the party.

We've all had a terrible time the last few months, even those of us who've backed the (now almost certain) winner. I'll freely admit that I've strained relations with many wonderful people in the blogging community with my sometimes intemperate defense of Senator McCain, and for that I apologize. It's not in my nature to back down from an argument, but certainly I have taken things too personally.

This certainly gives McCain a huge opening to praise Romney to the skies in his own CPAC address. It also means that any TV coverage today will focus on Romney's speech and not McCain's which is probably a very good thing.

Other reactions:


I’ve got to believe that his speech will be a stemwinder about conservative values and fighting the good fight, all very much with an eye to creating a memory he can leverage four years from now. Shrewd, if so.

Michelle Malkin live-blogged the speech:

Frankly in this time of a war, I cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.

This isn’t an easy decision. I hate to lose

not just about me…i entered this race because i love america. i feel i have to now stand aside.

We cannot allow the next president of the United States to retreat in the face of evil extremism.

Just One Minute explores the theme of whether anti-Mormon prejudice in the Southern Baptists might explain Mitt's inability to connect in the South:

I'm sure Huckabee would be delighted to be the nominee or even the VP but I suspect that throwing sand in Romney's gears was a big part of his mission.

That's reading a bit too much into it in my opinion. Huckabee's always seemed like a guy who was running to win the nomination, and he's a credible candidate, winning several states. He has not been able to connect in the North. More than anything, I think Huckabee's antagonism (and McCain's) towards Romney has to do with the negative advertising they were subjected to. Patrick Ruffini, a Romney supporter noted this the other day:

Specifically, it seems to me that the conservative establishment’s decision to go nuclear first on Huckabee (who never had a shot but speaks for voters we need in November) before McCain (who always had a shot but speaks mostly for himself) will rank as a pretty serious strategic blunder.


DNC Skullduggery

The DNC has stripped Joe Lieberman of his SuperDelegate status, apparently not due to his leaving the party (he has been an independent since the netkooks drove him out in support of Neddy Lamont), but due to his endorsement of Senator John McCain.

I can't blame them, much as we appreciate Joe's support, and I gotta wonder if he even wanted to go to the DNC; he hasn't been popular with the nutty activist base of the party since 2004 or so.

Meanwhile, Howard Dean (remember him?) is pledging to step in and broker a deal the Hillary delegates and the Obama delegates.

"The idea that we can afford to have a big fight at the convention and then win the race in the next eight weeks, I think, is not a good scenario,” he said.

If there is no nominee selected by his predicted mid-spring date, or by Puerto Rico's June vote – the last presidential primary on the Democratic calendar – Dean said the party would likely bring both sides together to work out a deal.

Hoo-boy, I would not want to be in that room unless they cleared it of ashtrays. This virtually guarantees that the losers will end up hurt and angry; not a good thing for the party of emotion.

The problem arises because the Democrats' desire for "fairness" has put them in a bind that was terribly obvious years ago. By awarding delegates proportionally, as compared to winner-take-all, the Democrats have set up a situation where two strong candidates will almost certainly end up unable to reach the magic number, particularly if a third candidate manages to win some delegates along the way.

Suppose the Democrats had winner-take-all in the states the Republicans did on Super Tuesday. Then Hillary would be cruising to her coronation. She won New York, New Jersey, and Arizona, just as John McCain did. Instead of winning all the delegates, she lost 93 in New York, 59 in New Jersey, and 25 in Arizona; that's a total of 177 delegates that should be in her column (and not for Obama). Take away the 22 she won in Connecticut, 6 in Delaware and 36 in Missouri, which Obama won, and she'd still be at a plus 113 compared to where she is now, or at a total of 1169, while Obama would be at 866.

Other voices:

Blue Crab Boulevard:

Obama has been running extremely well, much better than I initially expected, frankly. For him to give up all his aspirations to be President is pretty well unthinkable. For Clinton, she believes that job is hers, almost as a birthright. I can't see her giving that up, either. So [we] have a virtually unsolvable problem there.

Protein Wisdom:

Rove, you magnificent bastard!

Hot Air:

But if it keeps going and stays tight, maybe Hillary finds some money in an old Hsu or something, Howard Dean might scream in to save the day.


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Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Happy Belated Fifth Bloggiversary

To me. My first post here was on February 5, 2003. Defending Ann Coulter. Gag.


Who Was Right and Who Was Wrong?

Nope, not going to engage in any self-congratulation here; I'm talking about the pollsters. I have seen some very suspicious results, which almost seem intended to kickstart the conversation, so I thought I'd take a look back at the recent polls and see who was kidding us.

California. The big kahuna of states. On the Republican side, John McCain won by eight percentage points, 42% to 34% for Mitt Romney. In the RCP latest polls, only Suffolk predicted a solid win for McCain. Rasmussen had the state tied, Survey USA had McCain up by a point, and Reuters/CSpan/Zogby did horribly, predicting a seven point Romney win.

For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton scored a 52% to 42% win over Barack Obama. Survey USA nailed that one on the money. Rasmussen and Suffolk showed Obama winning by one point. And Reuters/CSpan/Zogby were once again predicting a landslide for the person who lost, predicting Obama by 13.

New York. McCain won the Empire State handily, with 51% to Romney's 28%, a 23-point margin. All the pollsters showed McCain winning, with Rasmussen actually coming closest, predicting a 19-point win for the senator. WNBC/Marist and Reuters/CSpan/Zogby did the poorest, predicting 37 and 36-point wins for McCain respectively

On the portside, Hillary won her "home" state by 17 points, 57% to 40%. All of the pollsters did pretty good here, with predicted margins for Mrs. Clinton ranging from 14 points to 21 points.

New Jersey. McCain took the Garden State, by 27 points, 55% to 28%. Most of the pollsters were reasonably in line with this, with the exception of Mason-Dixon, which saw McCain winning by only 15 points.

Among the Democrats, Hillary won by 10, 54% to 44%. All of the pollsters were reasonably in line with this prediction, with Survey USA the closest at 52% to 41%.

Illinois. McCain won handily here with a 47% to 29% bulge over Romney, or 18 points. Rasmussen did poorly here, seeing the race as only 8 points apart, while Survey USA did pretty well, predicting a 46% to 25% blowout.

Obama picked up a big win in his home state, with a 65% to 33% pasting of Hillary, a 32-point margin. All of the pollsters did pretty good on the margin of victory, but Survey USA was closest on the actual percentages for each candidate.

Missouri. John McCain squeaked out a 33%-32% win over Mike Huckabee, with Mitt Romney at 29%. Survey USA called that almost exactly (33-31-28), while Mason Dixon was the most wrong at 37-27-24.

Obama also won narrowly, 49% to Hillary's 48%. Reuters/CSpan/Zogby was the only pollster in the last few days to call Barack's win. Survey USA and Rasmussen did poorly, predicting a Clinton win by 11 and 9 points respectively.

Georgia. Mike Huckabee won narrowly, 34% to 32% for McCain, and 30% for Romney. None of the pollsters picked Huckabee to win, but Mason-Dixon finished worst, with a 6-point predicted win.

Obama swamped Hillary in the Peach State, with a 67% to 31% mauling, a 36-point margin. None of the pollsters were in the same area code, predicting a win of between 15 and 22 points.

Best picks: Suffolk (1), Survey USA (5), Rasmussen (1), Reuters/CSpan/Zogby (1)

Worst picks: Reuters/CSpan/Zogby (3), WNBC/Marist (1), Mason-Dixon (3), Rasmussen (2), Survey USA (1)

Based on this limited sample, Survey USA seems to be doing a very good job, while Mason-Dixon did pretty poorly. Zogby did have one solid poll, but they had clearly the worst performance in California.

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Signs of Sanity?

Hugh Hewitt, who was perhaps the biggest supporter of Mitt Romney, sees the writing on the wall:

Senator McCain has a clear path to the nomination, Romney a very uphill battle, and Huck is fighting for 2012 at this point and for a win in a major vote outside of the south. Certainly they should all stay in through the primaries ahead because it isn't over and because our side needs the excitement of a campaign in such key falls states as Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania to keep the MSM from turning 100% of its attention on to growing the Obama phenomenon. They ought to be scheduling three man debates in every state, making their points and taking every opportunity to look ahead to the fall.

I'll confess, I was expecting a "let's go for a brokered convention" post. Good to see he's coming around.
The New Ron Paul Sign

Don't know who created it, but that's terrific! Found here.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Victory Speech

Those of you outside Arizona may not have gotten that bit about AZ mothers being able to tell their kids that they can grow up to be president. No Arizonan has ever won the presidency and only Barry Goldwater has won a nomination. This is a big deal here; it's going to be a huge deal if he wins.

Good speech so far. Oh crap Fox just switched to Obama; good thing it's being broadcast on all the local stations. Keep government out of the way.

I'm a Republican; good touch. Reminiscent of Colin Powell's speech to the RNC in 1992?

Crap now the local channels switched to Obama. WTF?

McCain now looks likely to take Missouri; up 7,000 with about 20,000 votes to go. Fingers crossed; that's a big prize!
Super Duper Tuesday

Looks like it may have delivered a knockout blow to Mitt Romney. Realistically, though, McCain's just about sewed it up with his wins tonight. More important is the glaringly obvious fact that Romney doesn't do well in the South and Huckabee can't get a vote in the North.
Election Blogging

Huckabee is apparently doing better than expected in the South. He's already been projected the winner in Alabama, where McCain had been polling in the lead. In Georgia, those "stupid" Huckabee voters have him in the lead early. Why didn't they listen to the Romney people?
The West Virginia Caucuses
(Click to Enlarge, hit back to return to this page)

The squealing has already started.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign accused Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee of “a backroom deal” that gave the early Super Tuesday win in West Virginia to Huckabee.

Gasp! You mean they engaged in politics? I'm shocked, shocked I tell you!

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How To Lose Friends And Influence People to Despise You

Mitt Romney and his people are just not ready for primetime, and they continue to prove it on a daily basis. Yesterday, Bob Dole released a letter to Rush Limbaugh saying that McCain was a true conservative and a fine man. Now I'll admit that I winced a bit at the letter, because it just reinforces one of the dumber memes out there, that McCain is Bob Dole II. I talked about this last night.

But the letter has paid unexpected dividends. Asked about the Dole letter this morning on TV, Mitt Romney committed an unpardonable and foolish blunder:

Mitt Romney had this to say about Dole:

He is "the last person I would want to write a letter for me. ... McCain's (campaign) is a lot like Bob's campaign (was)."

Where's the outrage? Well, the McCain camp didn't take long:

"Governor Romney's attack on Bob Dole is disgraceful, and Governor Romney should apologize. Bob Dole is a war hero who has spent his life in service to this nation and nobody has worked harder to build the Republican Party. Bob Dole deserves the respect of every American and certainly every Republican.

"Governor Romney denounced Ronald Reagan in the mid '90s while Bob Dole was working tirelessly to elect Republicans across the country. Governor Romney was missing from those fights when I was standing with President Reagan and Senator Dole to build the Republican Party.

"Governor Romney is trying to divide the Republican Party and his disparagement of one of our Party's greatest leaders is a sad commentary on Governor Romney's increasingly bitter campaign."

Exactly. How politically tonedeaf is Mitt Romney that he doesn't realize that while it's fine for bloggers and other idiots to make that comparison, he has to rise above the fray? The proper response was a simple, "Bob Dole is a fine man, but I respectfully disagree with him, because of X, Y and Z." And he's onto his talking points about how liberal John McCain is in his opinion. Instead he insults a fine man who had ZERO chance of beating Bill Clinton in 1996. It's absolutely moronic, and symptomatic of a campaign on life support.

For another example, consider this comment from a Romney fan in Georgia:

[R]eports from my friends at Team Romney indicate a tough fight in a competitive three-way race for 72 delegates in Georgia — the third-largest Super Tuesday state and the largest of the states with a proportional distribution of delegates.

The problem for Romney in Georgia is simple: Some voters are too stupid to understand that, at this point, a vote for Huckabee is effectively a vote for John McCain.

“They don’t get it,” a very tired Romney volunteer told me of her encounters with Huckabee voters. “They hate McCain, but they’re voting for Huckabee, and it’s the same thing.”

LOL! Is that amazing or what? Let me point to the latest polls from Georgia, where Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are locked in a tight race for second. In fact, in the latest poll Huckabee is tied with McCain for first. Can you imagine the gall of the Romney campaign to think that the Huckabee supporters should give up because it helps Mitt Romney?

Romney supporter: I'd like to try to convince you to change your vote from Huckabee to Romney.

Huckabee supporter: Why don't you change your vote from Romney to Huckabee?

Romney supporter: That fundie nut! He's a liberal!

Huckabee supporter: Click

Romney supporter: These people are such morons!


Marathon Man Endorses McCain

He's not a sprinter, he's in for the long haul:

McCain connects, although I can't quite put my finger on why that is. It's certainly not because of his looks or speaking style. His war hero status helps, but also, as a Republican who was anti-Bush when it wasn't the "in" thing, it allows McCain to appeal to voters outside of the GOP base.

I've said this before, but it's worth repeating. McCain connects because he has tremendous personal charisma. It doesn't always come across on TV, but in the blogger conference calls and in the townhall meetings he gave in New Hampshire, he has the people eating out of his hand. I can't locate it right now, but a couple weeks ago there was an article about a speech he gave in New Hampshire. The reporter noted that he entered the hall to polite applause. He exited to a thunderous, standing ovation.

John's a terrific blogger and if Barack gets the nomination, he's going to be my go-to-guy on the Rezko-Obama connection, as he's been following it much closer than I have!

I have just one concern. How does a marathoner get on the bus? Is he pulling a Rosie Ruiz on us?

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Random Thoughts

The nutbars opposing John McCain scream that he likes to stick his thumb in their eyes. Did they ever think that perhaps they have eyes that demand a good thumbing?

On the topic of "who's a liberal", can we all agree that defenders of Hillary are liberal? That those who say Hillary would be solid on the war in Iraq are crazy? Meet the latest crazy liberal:

The talk host said America's direction in Iraq would not be substantially different even if Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama were elected. "They are not going to surrender the country to Islamic radicalism or the war in Iraq," Mr. Limbaugh said after mentioning the two Democratic senators by name. "They are not going to do that to themselves, despite what their base says."

I am quite used to supposed conservatives saying that Hillary's lying and that she's going to be much more liberal than she's admitting in the campaign. It's a shock to hear one saying that she'll be more conservative.

The anti-McCain folks have become so deranged that they're now savaging anybody who supports him as "liberal".

These include Mike Huckabee, the once well-thought of former Arkansas governor (and hero of the social conservative part of the movement), who unaccountably refuses to withdraw from the race on their orders; Tom Coburn and Sam Brownback, perhaps the most conservative members of the United States Senate; Jack Kemp, the supply-side Reagan enthusiast; Phil Gramm, the most conservative Republican to run in the 1996 contest; and Ted Olson, the hero of the Federalist Society, who argued and won the case of Bush vs. Gore. (They may also include the late President Reagan's widow, who, according to the Drudge Report, hearts John McCain.)

Well, if those folks are liberal....
Monday, February 04, 2008
The Really Desperate Arguments

Well, it looks like it's over folks, because now they're just flinging anything they can against the wall to see if it sticks.

The "It's Bob Dole all over again" argument. This one goes that the only reason we're nominating John McCain is because it's his turn, and we did that with Bob Dole and he lost, so we're doomed. This one has the added benefit of being completely unfair to everybody. No Republican had a chance against Bill Clinton in 1996. And you would have a hard time coming up with the last time the Republicans didn't nominate the guy who's turn it was. President Bush was generally accepted as the establishment candidate in 2000, his dad was the sitting VP in 1988. It was Ronald Reagan's turn in 1980, boy, that worked out terribly. Gerry Ford was the sitting President in 1976, Nixon in 1968 was certainly the establishment guy, as he was in 1960. Maybe Goldwater in 1964?

The "McCain's only winning because of a handful of Northern blue states he'll never win in the fall" argument. This one focuses solely on tomorrow, when McCain will win New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. But as I commented, this ignores the last few weeks when McCain won Florida (a big battleground state), South Carolina (safe red) and New Hampshire (a minor battleground state). Suppose you buy the Mitt surge for a second, and believe that a surprise win in California turns his campaign around. Is Mitt going to carry California in November? Is he going to take Massachusetts in the fall? Sure, if he wins Georgia tomorrow, that's a state that will stay red, as will Utah. But so would Arizona for McCain. And if McCain take Missouri, it's another big prize in a battleground.

Asshat Jack Wheeler claims to have a big scoop. The kind of scoop that you used to take out of the litter box. I won't link to this piece of human garbage, but basically he claims that John McCain collaborated with the North Vietnamese, in return for which he was furnished with an apartment in Hanoi. Somehow the CIA got hold of the translations of his interrogation sessions, and Bill Clinton got hold of them too, because he was secretly working for the CIA back in the 1960s, and the Clintons will use it against him, but McCain may counter with Hillary's love affair with her personal assistant.

Oh, well, one more day of this slime.
Would Huckabee Supporters Flock to Romney?

While looking over the Florida exit polling on the GOP side, I noticed something that does not bode well for Mitt Romney. Here's a look at the second choices:

The first interesting thing here is that McCain not only won Florida, 36% to 31% for Romney, but he also was the second choice for most of the voters, 20% to 19% for Romney and 19% as well for Giuliani. Now the second interesting thing to realize is that McCain had fewer voters who could pick him in second place, because so many of them had already chosen him in the first position on the ballot.

Think about it for a second. McCain got 36%; that means that 64% of the voters were able to pick him in second place. This indicates that his 20% of all voters choosing him in second actually made up 31.3% of the total that he could possibly have received (.20/.64). I ran the numbers and here are the results:

McCain 31.3%
Romney 27.5%
Giuliani 22.4%
Huckabee 11.6%
Paul 3.1%
Thompson 7.1%

This certainly indicates that as candidates drop out, McCain should continue to do better. Unfortunately the polling doesn't show us directly who the second choice was for, say Huckabee supporters. It tells us the opposite; looking at the top line, for example, we can see that of the 19% who chose Giuliani in second place, 5% chose Huckabee as their top pick, 46% picked McCain, 2% selected Paul, and 47% voted for Romney. So it takes a little calculation on a spreadsheet to tease out the second place choices for each candidate.

Let's illustrate with John McCain's line. We know that 20% of the voters in Florida chose him as their second pick. Since there were roughly 1.92 million voters, that means that 384,000 picked him second. Of those, 24% were Giuliani supporters, or roughly 92,000 voters. Ditto with Huckabee. Ron Paul's supporters and the Fredheads each gave him another 3800 second places, while Mitt Romney's partisans showered McCain with 188,000 "silver medals". The total works out to be 380,000, a little off the expected 384,000 due to rounding in the percentages, but nothing to worry about.

Now do Romney's total. He got 19% of the second choices, or roughly 365,000 votes for that position. He picked up 25% of those votes from Giuliani supporters, or 91,000. He garnered 19% of his second places from Mike Huckabee's fans, or 69,000 votes. The McCainiacs donated 51% of Mitt's #2 votes, or 186,000. Oddly, the Ronulans really liked Mitt; they gave him 4% of his total, or 15,000 votes.

Well, you can probably already see the key figures in there. Huckabee's supporters split their second choices as follows:

McCain: 92,177
Romney: 69,325
Giuliani: 18,243
Thompson: 16,131
Would Not Have Voted: 11,522

John McCain was the very much the second choice of Huckabee supporters, by a fairly wide margin. This certainly does not validate the claims by Romney supporters that Huckabee's mucking up Romney's shot at knocking off McCain; if anything it indicates precisely the opposite.

Problems? The totals do not add up for any of the candidates. Huckabee's supporters according to this tabulation, recorded 207,398 selections for second place, including would not have voted, while his actual vote count was about 260,000. So there appears to have been some sort of leakage; possibly voters who got tired of the exit polling after awhile and declined to continue to answer? I note that the problem exists for each candidate; there are about 20% of the voters who did not indicate a second place candidate no matter whom they picked in first.

The calculations indicate that Giuliani voters were about evenly split between McCain and Romney for their second choice. If the Romney forces really want to get somebody out of the race, they should focus their efforts on Ron Paul; this poll indicates they would pick up about four votes for every one that McCain would receive from the Ronulans. Of course, that's still peanuts because Ron Paul isn't picking up many votes to begin with.

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Is There A Difference Between Hillary and Romney?

Of course there is. I'm not going to go Ann Coulter on you. But on one issue, there doesn't seem to be a Grand Canyon between them:

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton inched closer Sunday to explaining how she would enforce her proposal that everyone have health insurance, but declined to specify — as she has throughout the campaign — how she would penalize those who refuse.

Mrs. Clinton, who did not answer Senator Barack Obama’s question on the topic in a debate last Thursday, was pressed repeatedly to do so Sunday by George Stephanopoulos on the ABC program “This Week.” When Mr. Stephanopoulos asked a third time whether she would garnish people’s wages, Mrs. Clinton responded, “George, we will have an enforcement mechanism, whether it’s that or it’s some other mechanism through the tax system or automatic enrollments.”

As I pointed out a month ago, Mitt Romney's health care initiative also fines those who don't purchase health insurance. Hilariously, he claims this is a market-based solution.
Some Thoughts on Winner Take All Versus Proportional/Congressional District States--Updated

The biggest difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is the issue of fairness. Republicans believe in fair rules, the Democrats believe in fair outcomes. The issue of how to award delegates to the national convention of each party reveals this rather well.

Tomorrow, Democrats and Republicans will go to the polls in a slew of states. But there is one key difference. Republicans have "winner-take-all" delegates in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Arizona, and Missouri, while the Democratic delegates in those states will be chosen either by congressional district or proportionately awarded.

It's easy to make the argument against winner-take-all. Suppose a candidate gets exactly 50.1% of the vote, while his opponent receives 49.9%. Is it really "fair" that the opponent's supporters receive no representation for their votes? It's plain that the election was a coin toss; shouldn't the delegation reflect that division?

The argument against is pretty easy to understand too. There are no prizes for coming in second in the general election. Oh, sure, Maine apportions its electors to the electoral college by congressional district, but that's about it.

The interesting thing to me is that winner-take-all and proportional representation present a candidate with very different strategies. Note reports that John McCain was campaigning in Massachusetts yesterday. Why, when Mitt's up by maybe 30 points there? Answer: Because of proportional representation, he stands to pick up some delegates by making a showing. If Massachusetts were winner-take-all do you think there's a chance he would stop in the Bay State? Only for fundraisers.

But the downside is that there isn't a big enough prize for the winner, at least in terms of delegates (media coverage may be another matter). A lot of Romney folks are excitedly pointing to a (dubious) Zogby poll that shows Mitt up by eight points in the Golden State. Mitt's on his way to victory, with California leading the way!

Congratulations if you don't buy it. California's a big prize with 173 delegates, but they are awarded by congressional district. Say Romney does win by eight points. That translates into a net gain of arguably 13 delegates (173 times 8%). Meanwhile, McCain's picking up a net 101 in New York, 53 in Arizona, 52 in New Jersey, 30 in Connecticut, and 58 in Missouri.

Now, the math doesn't work perfectly; a win by 8% probably means that Romney picks up more than 13 net delegates. But it won't be a lot more than that, because Mitt's strength is concentrated in particular areas as is McCain's. Each congressional district becomes a mini-state, and Romney's advantate in, say, Orange County, could easily be outweighed by McCain in Northern California.

Update: Michael Goldfarb doesn't get it.

When it came time for questions, all anyone wanted to know was what is he doing in Boston? One reporter said Romney was "perturbed" that McCain was campaigning in Massachusetts today. McCain responded that he couldn't account for Romney's reaction, but that Romney was welcome to campaign in Arizona.


One theory: McCain really doesn't like Romney, and as it became clear last week that McCain would almost certainly secure the nomination on Tuesday, this was to be a parting slap in the face. Except today, while McCain is still a heavy favorite, the result in California looks far from certain and there's a real possibility this race will continue past tomorrow's contest. It's hard to see how this was a smart move, but it was pure McCain--inspiring, audacious, and a bit reckless.

Not reckless at all. I suspect Senator McCain's internal polling shows him winning California, as do most of the public polls, and even if he loses slightly there, the delegate difference will be nothing. In Massachusetts, Romney is up big; 22 points in the latest RCP rolling average. That means more potential weak Romney supporters can be won over.

Update II: Lotta Google searches incoming. If you want a list of the Republican states that are winner take all, check here. For the Democrats, check here, but basically there are no winner take all states for them.
Dueling Mitts

I tend to believe the Mitt of 1994 on this issue. People forget that George Romney, his father, came out against the war in 1967:

On August 31, 1967, Governor Romney made a statement that ruined his chances for getting the nomination. In a taped interview with Lou Gordon of WKBD-TV in Detroit, Romney stated, "When I came back from Viet Nam [in November 1965], I'd just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get." He then shifted to opposing the war: "I no longer believe that it was necessary for us to get involved in South Vietnam to stop Communist aggression in Southeast Asia," he declared. Decrying the "tragic" conflict, he urged "a sound peace in South Vietnam at an early time." Thus Romney disavowed the war and reversed himself from his earlier stated belief that the war was "morally right and necessary."

Hat Tip: My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.


Kristol On the Angry Cons

Solid thinking as usual:

One might add a special reason that conservatives — and the nation — owe John McCain at least a respectful hearing. Only a year ago, we were headed toward defeat in Iraq. Without McCain’s public advocacy and private lobbying, President Bush might not have reversed strategy and announced the surge of troops in January 2007. Without McCain’s vigorous leadership, support for the surge in Congress would not have been sustained in the first few months of 2007. So: No McCain, no surge. No surge, failure in Iraq, a terrible setback for America — and, as it happens, no chance for a G.O.P. victory in 2008.


Sunday, February 03, 2008
Kudos to the G-Men

They played a magnificent game, and got a few breaks when they needed them. That play where Manning was apparently sacked, then heaved the ball downfield where the Giant player caught it between his hand and his helmet was spectacular athleticism on both ends. As Manning got away I had a sense that this was going to be a legendary moment.

Now Peyton and Eli can compare Super Bowl rings. Joe Montana remains the Greatest Player Ever. Does Tom dump Giselle? The girlfriend in the luxury box certainly seems to be something of a hex.

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Trouble in Libtopia?

Ron Klain hits on many themes about the liberal blogosphere I have explored over the last several years:

But notwithstanding this stunning success, this week’s withdrawal by John Edwards, coming a week after the departure of Dennis Kucinich, means that both of the preferred presidential candidates of the liberal blogosphere are now out of the race. Instead, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the two candidates who have drawn some of the sharpest criticism on progressive blogs, are the only ones who will make it to Super Tuesday. A similar thing happened in 2004, when Howard Dean and Wes Clark, the two candidates most strongly backed by blogs, were beaten by John Kerry, who wasn’t a blog favorite.

But he also misses the mark in the very next paragraph:

The blogosphere has had impressive electoral success in Senate and House races, especially in 2006.

Actually the Democrats had impressive electoral success in Senate and House races in 2006. But as I never tire of mentioning, the lib bloggers devoted a significant amount of time and energy in trying to defeat a Democrat, Joe Lieberman. And they failed. The success of the Democrats in 2006 had little to do with the blogosphere.

And I suspect that the success of the Republicans in 2004 had little to do with the conservative blogs as well. It's easy to fall into the trap of blogger triumphalism, but look at the Republican presidential campaign this year. How many big conservative blogs backed McCain?


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