Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Welcome to the Law Talking Baby

Hi Everyone,

Law Talking Guy and Seventh Sister have just become parents to a little baby girl. Hurray!

This makes Dr. S. an uncle!

Congratulations to all of them!


Friday, March 28, 2008

Donna Fern Edwards

Today, the 8-term democratc congressman from the 4th Dist. of Maryland, Albert Wynn, resigned his seat. Mr. Wynn is an African-American. He just lost the primary election to Donna Fern Edwards, who is also an African-American. In her triumphant post-primary post, she notes that she hammered Wynn on his votes for the Iraq war and for Bush's horrible, horrible bankruptcy reform. Hillary Clinton voted for both these laws also (actually, Clinton voted for the 2001 Bankruptcy act that died in 2003, and did not vote on the revived but very similar law in 2005). It's fascinating that this did not make bigger news earlier (the primary was Feb. 12th). Not surprisingly, she endorsed Barack Obama for President during her insurgent run, who also cleaned up in Maryland on Feb. 12th. We don't normally expect to see coattails until a general election, but there it is. If Gov' O'Malley holds a special election, she will probably win and be a superdelegate, although the seat may just remain vacant until November.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Puerto Rican Follies

The Washington Post reports that the Governor of Puerto Rico, Anibal Acevedo Vila, was indicted today (along with a dozen associates from his Popular Democratic Party) on 19 counts of conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion associated with campaign finance violations. This comes after a two-year investigation by U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez. The Governor has not been arrested but has been asked to turn himself in. This has implications beyond the island.

Puerto Rico's role in the Democratic contest this year has been discussed before, notably the recent shift in the date and format of its contest to select its 55 pledged delegates (as of March 6th, it will now be a primary on June 1st rather than a caucus on June 8th). As for Puerto Rico's 7 superdelegates, so far 3 support Clinton and 2 support Obama. Governor Vila is (was?) the only Puerto Rican to be a Democratic superdelegate by virtue of his elected position rather than longtime DNC membership. Governor Vila backs Obama.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What the Democratic Contest is Really About

On March 15 (according to today's NY Times), Barack Obama gave the following statement in an interview, after stressing the need to include independents and "disaffected Republicans" in a larger, working majority: "Senator Clinton’s argument in this campaign has really been that you can’t change the electoral map, that it’s a static map and we are inalterably divided, so we’ve got to eke out a victory and then try to govern more competently than George Bush has. My argument is that if that’s what we’re settling for, after seven or eight years of disastrous policies on the part of the Bush administration, then we’re not going to deliver on the big changes that are needed."

Similarly, on health care, Clinton has repeatedly said that if a Democratic President doesn't advocate universal health care from the get-go, we'll never get there. What she means is that a president must be a strong advocate for a position (a "fighter" as she calls herself) and that compromise must happen, if at all, after a bruising battle with the legislature. Barack Obama's proposal on health care, by contrast, already smacks of compromise. He thinks the job of a president is to be a conciliator, moderator, and the proponent of the compromise between the divided halves of the legislature.

So you have two very different views of what the election is like and what governing is like.


Question for Our Legal Experts

There is a lengthy and rather discursive commentary in the Green Papers about the interaction between Federal rights and political parties. (He also talks a great deal about State sovereignty vs. political parties, which I will not go into here.) While I do not feel his conclusions follow necessarily from his premises, some of the premises are interesting. I will do my best to summarize them and ask for clarification at the end.

In United States v. Classic (1941) the Supreme Court held that for Congressional elections:

Where the state law has made the primary an integral part of the procedure of choice, or where in fact the primary effectively controls the choice, the right of the elector to have his ballot counted at the primary is likewise included in the right protected by Article I, 2. And this right of participation is protected just as is the right to vote at the election, where the primary is by law made an integral part of the election machinery, whether the voter exercises his right in a party primary which invariably, sometimes or never determines the ultimate choice of the representative.

However in O'Brien v. Brown (1972) the Supreme Court denied an appeal to extend these protections to Presidential elections and the entire nominating process.
On July 3, 1972, delegates from California and Illinois brought suits in District Court contesting their unseating, recommended by the Democratic Party's Credentials Committee, in the 1972 Democratic National Convention, scheduled to convene July 10. The District Court dismissed both actions. On July 5, the Court of Appeals reversed both decisions, granting relief to the California delegates, and denying relief to the Illinois delegates. Held: In view of the probability that the Court of Appeals erred in deciding the cases on the merits and in view of the traditional right of a political convention to review and act upon the recommendations of a Credentials Committee, the judgments of the Court of Appeals must be stayed. The important constitutional issues cannot be resolved within the limited time available, and no action is now taken on the petitions for certiorari.

But four of the justices did not affirmatively concur with the decision to overrule the Appellate Court. One agreed only that there just was not enough time left to do act, and three others dissented. Justice Thurgood Marshall's summary of the situation, given in his dissent to the per curiam opinion, invites that question I want to ask our legal expert:
The excluded delegates allege, in essence, that the refusal of the party to accept them as delegates denies them due process, and denies the voters who elected them right to full participation in the electoral process as guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

It is the "right to full participation" that I wish to ask about. I should hasten to add that the 1972 case was very different from anything we may face today. Crucially, the CA primary law had been approved by the Democratic Credentials Committee, and all candidates had campaigned freely throughout the state. There was no question that the underlying election had been fair and legitimate; the (successful) attempt by the Credentials Committee to disallow the delegates was retroactive.

Nevertheless, while the circumstances were quite different, the heart of my legal question appears to be the same: how do Federal voting rights (particularly the 26th Amendment) interact with the Presidential nomination processes of the major political parties? Please note: I am taking off my "Hillary" hat and asking this question as a matter of intellectual curiosity inspired by--but not directed at--the current situation. Thanks for your patience.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Greenspan again?

From Reuters: " Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and other economic experts should determine whether the U.S. government needs to buy up homes to stem the country's housing crisis, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will propose on Monday"

I don't really get it. Isn't Greenspan's refusal to admit there was a housing bubble going on earlier partly responsible for this mess now? It seems more and more clear that the mortgage crisis was caused in part by Greenspan's refusal to advocate additional regulation or control, believing that regulation is almost always bad. In fact, I just read (most of) Greenspan's autobiography, and I was shocked to learn that he was an open disciple of Ayn Rand and an avowed libertarian (meaning that, at heart, he really doesn't think of our country as a community with collective problems that need to be solved by collective action). Is Greenspan really going to suggest the US government take actions to help homeowners with their mortgages? Do we trust his judgment on this particular economic issue? The lustre of Greenspan seems tarnished. He's probably more concerned about inflation, willing to have a repeat of 1982 where he (proudly, according to his autobiography) forced a very painful economic recession to tame inflation (and, though he doesn't mention it, supported Reagan's refusal to help the victims of that recession under a libertarian credo).

The idea that Greenspan will calm the markets by his presence or solve economic Gordian knots with his intellect is 1990s thinking.


SS Mayaguez Times 100

In May of 1975 Gerald Ford ordered the Marines and Airforce to rescue the crew of the SS Mayaguez (a container ship) after it and its 40 man crew had been captured by Khmer Rouge gun boats just after the fall of Saigon and Phnom Pen. The crew was being held on a small, off shore island. The problem was that the Khmer Rouge had agreed to release the crew and transfered them to fishing boat headed for the mainland before Ford gave the order to proceed with the rescue (Ford was informed of this before he gave the order). To make matters worse, 38 marines were killed and 3 were captured (presumed executed) and another 41 Americans were wounded in the rescue. After the disasterous battle began to rescue the already released crew, the crew were transfered to US costudy without incident. The operation is far less famous than Jimmy Carter's infamous rescue attempt in Iran - despite it being both pointless and more costly!

Today, just days after the 5th anniversary of the invasion, the cost of Mr. Bush's war in American lives reached 4,000. 4000 men and women have died so that we could verify that Iraq didn't have WMDs after all (something the inspectors had been telling us anyway) and so that we could replace an odious, but contained, dictator with regional war lords and increasing Iranian influence. Bush will say now that the real reason was that Iraq was in league with Al Qaeda (something we also know wasn't true). Even if that were true, we've lost far more people "avenging" this supposed connection than we lost in the original attack - just like with the Mayaguez incident.

George W. Bush: The ethics of Nixon and the intelligence of Ford.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

China, Tibet and Taiwan

OK Folks,

While we've been arguing about which Democrat would be the best person to propose and pass more or less the same batch of policies, East Asia has been dealing with some real divisions. is reporting that Chinese papers are calling for Tibetan demonstrations (which have turned violent in many cases) to be "crushed." The Dali Lama has been calling for the demonstrators to adopt a non-violent approach but they have not been listening. The Chinese response has been to send in the military.

Meanwhile, Taiwan had an election and the Kuomintang candidate, Ma Ying-jeou, was expected to win and did (in a landslide). The Kuomintang is the old mainland Nationalist party of Chiang Kai Shek. Ironically, it is the Kuomintang that is most in favor of eventual reunification with the mainland. But since the Communists on the mainland have abandoned Marxism in favor of a more nationalist approach to government and political economy, the Kuomintang may not see much difference anymore between them and their old nemesis. Mr. Ma has criticised Beijing for their conduct in Tibet but has pledged not to "push things too far."

Chinese nationalists (on the mainland) will try to justify nearly any action they take in Tibet by saying that Tibet is a natural part of China and that Tibet has never really been independent. But of course this is a disingenuous argument. Prior to 1949 China as we know it was not organized as a state the way we think of it now. Prior to that date, China was either ruled by regional warlords or as a feudal empire in which Tibet was at times included and at times not. In any case, even when Tibet was nominally under the suzerainty of the Chinese empire of the time, it was so distant from the centers of power that it was usually functionally independent. Only since 1949 has a central Chinese government been able to impose its authority on Tibet with any consistency.

The problem in Tibet seems to be that after the military conquest of Tibet in the 1940s, the Chinese government first divided some regions of Tibet and attached them to neighboring provinces (like Sechuan). Reports are that anti-government demonstrations have spread to the ethnic Tibetans in these regions. The next thing the Chinese did was to heavily subsidize settlement in Tibet by Chinese from the dominant Han ethnic group from coastal China. This settlement program has resulted in a new local elite in Tibet comprised mainly of non-Tibetans. These measures have caused some resentment among ethnic Tibetans.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Barack's Bracket

Is Barack Obama smart enough to be president? Let's find out. This is his NCAA Bracket released today.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Speech for the Ages

I watched Senator Barack Obama's speech on race, America, and the Rev. Wright today. I heard the whole thing--and I urge everyone reading this blog to spend the 30 minutes and listen. The transcript alone does not do it justice.

Ironically, what Obama said about his old friend Rev. Wright--the ostensible motivation for his landmark speech--seemed the least convincing and least memorable. His speech was strongest when he turned his attention to the larger issues: to the legacy of slavery; to welfare, affirmative action, and white anger; to barber shops, black anger, and raucous black sermons; to the European immigrant experience and the ethic personal responsibility; to YouTube clips and the OJ Simpson trial, etc. It was not so much what he said as how he said it. Obama spoke of these things bluntly, using these words.

Obama broke a silence that has reigned in mainstream politics since the 1980s: a silence once promoted by the left in hopes of healing divisions, now promoted by the right to pretend they no longer exist. If you watch television shows from the 1960s and 1970s, it helps bring home just how little we actually mention race and racial tension in any public way these days. Obama's speech was both a return to past openness and a bridge to the future. It was moving and impressive.

Whatever the outcome of this year's elections, I believe Obama's speech of March 18, 2008 will go down in the history books as the reason it became acceptable once again to speak honestly and openly about race in this country. It was a risky speech, I think. But it was also a gift to the American people which perhaps only Obama could have given.

Updated by Bell Curve Watch the whole speech here:


Save the Rich!

Foreclosures mount into the millions, and Republicans tell us that the market has to be allowed to work. That only applies to little people, however. When it's Bear Sterns, the government goes into action on a Sunday(!) to save them. I am certain the management of Bear Sterns isn't suffering. They should be made to suffer. I want to see them all lose their Park Ave apartments and houses in the Hamptons, make them have to move to a housing development in New Jersey (with lots of abandoned, foreclosed houses in it) and take their kids out of private school. Then all the proceeds should be distributed to the laid-off employees. If we could somehow make that the price of these bailouts, at least justice would be served.

It is not right for rich wall street brokers to be able to take huge risks knowing that if they win, they keep all the profits, but if they lose, the taxpayers will bail them out. Thank goodness for the securities laws that will probably cost the management of Bear Sterns lots of money in legal fees. Thousands of brokers who only did what they were told will lose their jobs, and maybe their houses, but the CEO and directors will find another country club to crawl into. As you can tell, this makes me ill. The hypocrisy of it all! If we're going to bail out investment banks, we can damned well start by requiring all (primary residence) mortgages to be re-adjusted to a fixed 5% interest rate, with unpaid interest capitalized and no late penalties assessed.

Although the constitution forbids impairment of obligation of contracts or deprivation of property without just compensation, bankruptcy is a constitutional exception to all that. So we could just pass a new bankruptcy statute permitting any ordinary person to file and get serious relief. Chapter 11 has also been used for the past 10 years to void union contracts; now let it void golden parachutes and executive compensation. A new statute could be passed stating that any company that files for chapter 11 must, during reorganization, void all stock options in management, require them to repay their salaries for 2 years, void all other compensation arrangements with them, and require that the companies get new management. They can go on welfare and see if they can become the welfare queens that the GOP says all welfare recipients are. God damn the fed and the Republican party for taking MY tax dollars to ensure that Messrs. Bear and Sterns can keep their luxury mansions in West Egg! (or is it East Egg, I forget).


Meanwhile in the rest of the world

There is a wave of demonstrations in Tibet. Tibetans are rising up against Chinese rule. China claims that Tibet is Chinese - Tibetans disagree. The demonstrations have been violent and the Chinese reaction has been both predictable - shoot into the crowds - and suprising - we're actually hearing about it. China is blaming the Dali Lama for tolerating and even instigating violence in Tibet. The Dali Lama however has been begging his people to adopt non-violence. The latest news is that he is threatening to resign as political leader of the government in exile if the violence doesn't stop.

In Belgium the Francophones (Walloon) and Flemish speakers (a dialect of Dutch) have finally come to an agreement and 9 months after the last election, a government has been formed. This isn't the first time Belgium has been plagued by this kind of crisis. The new Prime Minister, Yves Leterme (a Flemish speaking Christian Democrat), will lead a government of two Dutch speaking and three French speaking parties. The coalition will also include Christian Democrats, Liberals an Socialists. The sticking point for the last 9 months was the unwillingness of the Walloon (Francophone) parties to agree to Leterme's plans to devolve power to the ethnic regions. Belgium is about 60% Flemish speaking and 30% French speaking and about 10% mixed (mainly bilingual people in Brussels) or other (there are immigrants of course and there is a German speaking minority along the border). The government was only able to form when this issue was dropped. Given that they parties span the ideological spectrum, I would not count on them being able to agree on much else either. I would not count on this government lasting very long.

Related to this point is that Leterme wants to let majority Flemish speaking areas to conduct their business in Flemish. French speakers have refused to go along. Having been to Belgium, I can tell you that every Flemish speaking Belgian I met also spoke French (and English and German) but very few of the French speaking Belgians could speak anything other than French (although the older ones seem to take orders in German rather well - that's funny story for another time). Leterme (officially "bilingual" and the son of a Walloon) was so indiscreet as to make a racist comment related to this problem. He said that Walloons were "incapable of learning Dutch." Oh well. So we had 9 months of government crisis and will probably have a short lived government now with new elections relatively soon.


Good News for Democrats and Bad News for the GOP Part II

CNN is reporting that both Obama and Clinton are in a statistical tie with John McCain. I believe that reflects a relatively recent surge for Clinton against McCain. As recently as February, an LA Times poll had her far behind McCain. Obama has been tied with McCain for a while. Check out at the link to the right.

Why is a tie between either Democrat and McCain good? There are several reasons. First, I have to say I have been very worried about Clinton's prospects against McCain in particular. This poll suggests that a Clinton candidacy may not be fatal to the Democrats' chances in November. I'm still worried about Clinton's negative effect on down-ticket races, but I'm not thinking of dire consequences anymore.

Second, if the starting point is a tie, McCain needs to convince Democrats to stay home (unlikely given how pissed off we all are) or vote for him. To get them to vote for him he'll have to convince them on the main issues of the upcoming elections. Those issues are the economy and the war. Surprisingly, McCain is trusted on the economy. But I think this is due solely to name recognition. He is on record as not really caring about the economy and I take him at his word. I think he'll get shredded on the issue once he's up against the undivided attentions of a competent Democratic campaign. All he'll be in a position to offer is Republican Conventional Wisdom which is that if the economy is slowing there is always one answer: another round of tax cuts. But the problem isn't the tax rate (and the fact that we've got the lowest taxes we've had in decades and still have a sluggish economy is proof of it). The problem is the deficit which is directly linked to the war. What we need to do is end the war (something McCain will never do) and at least not lower taxes further and possibly consider ended the tax cuts for the top end of the income distribution. McCain can't say any of that. He'll come out sounding like a broken Republican record. The Democrats are probably already working up ads about how out of touch the nice old man is.

Finally, turnout in the primaries for the Democrats has been higher than for the Republicans by huge margins. In some primaries, both Democrats got more votes than all the Republicans combined. You have to figure that whoever the nominee is, anyone who voted for them in a primary will vote for them in November and they'll pick up 80%+ of the people who voted for the other Democrat too. If McCain gets 100% of the Republican primary voters he still can't win without also getting the lion's share of the folks who didn't vote in either primary. If those people split more or less evenly, the Democrats win in a landslide. If a significant group of Republican primary voters stay home in November because they don't like McCain, the Democrats win in a landslide.

So going back to the issues, it looks bad for McCain. He needs to clean up among people who are currently not engaged in the election - i.e. people who haven't voted in a primary for either party and probably aren't paying attention to the political coverage. Those people care about issues he will struggle on: the economy and the war. The only scenarios I see getting McCain elected would be for immediate and lasting peace to break out in Iraq or for there to be a terrorist attack in the US between now and November.


Monday, March 17, 2008


[I'm writing this as a new post because the end of the thread on previous relevant postings has gotten a little frayed. Time for a fresh start!]

I believe it is in Obama's best interest to embrace the idea of full and fair do-over primaries in MI and FL. Although it might appear to be to his disadvantage to do so, I see four reasons to believe otherwise.

1. Most Americans want do-overs. According to a recent CNN poll, 63% would like to see do-over primaries in MI and FL. Only 19% want the original results to stand. But even less--a mere 15%--think MI and FL should be excluded entirely. By opposing a popular measure, Obama risks losing popularity and risks giving Hillary an issue with which to bludgeon him.

2. Voters in MI and FL want do-overs. If there are do-overs, and Obama was seen as trying to stop them, he could be punished by MI and FL voters in the do-over primaries. Furthermore, if Obama is the nominee, his opposition to do-overs in MI and FL could harm the party in the general election.

3. Legitimacy. If the 313 delegates from MI and FL are not seated, Hillary will claim that large discrepancy makes a 100-delegate difference meaningless. She will use the number 313 to try to de-legitimize Obama's lead in the pledged delegate count. She will argue that there is no clear winner and so the superdelegates must decide. I do not wish to debate the merits of that claim here! That's not the point. The point is that if MI and FL are excluded she will almost surely make those claims, and they will have some resonance. Yet the reverse is also true. Full and fair do-overs in MI and FL would cement the legitimacy of the pledged delegate count as the "real" count for a lot of people, even Hillary supporters like me. So if you believe Obama will enter the convention with the majority of pledged delegates no matter what, then he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

4. Bold and statesmanlike. To call for popular do-overs, against his apparent self-interest, will appear to many voters as a bold and statesmanlike move. It will illustrate that Obama really does stand for something more than just politics as usual. He can even invoke Bush v. Gore and say that this time we are going to count all the votes, no matter what. I can hear it now.

One last thing. A plea for patience. I am not trying to attack Obama in any way in this post, and I ask you all to please interpret my remarks with that foremost in mind. I promise to do the same for you. We have all banged elbows and stubbed our rhetorical toes over the past several weeks--perhaps I am most at fault--and I really want to renew the sense of community on this blog. This blog has been a valuable resource for me, trying to make sense of politics, and I think we all feel a loss when it becomes a squabble. With that in mind, I am interested in hearing whether the rest of you believe these four points are logical, or if there are any other arguments or counter-arguments I have missed.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Superdelegates and history (long)

There are a lot of misconceptions about superdelegates. Every week I hear Mark Shields on the NewsHour say something like "the superdelegates were supposed to make the selection in a situation like this." Well, yes and no. The problem is that superdelegates are from another era (and yes, 1980 is that long ago).

A little history will illuminate my argument. Until 1968, primaries were rare. They were created in the Progressive Era as part of attempts to abolish the 'smoke-filled' room. These turn-of-the-last-century devices (1900-1920s really) included ballot propositions, direct election of senators, nonpartisan offices, the unicameral legislature in Nebraska, and the "plural executive" of states like CA (where the atty general, insurance commissioner, secretary of education, and secretary of state are not appointed, but separately elected). The line-item veto was also part of this, as part of the progressives' weird combination of popular democratic participation and trust in a strong executive. You can see, sort of, how FDR and Huey Long descended from all this.

Well, in 1968, the Democratic party was a fiasco. Hubert Humphrey won because of insiders alone, it was perceived. Protests famously marred the convention. This followed the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Democratic party I earlier blogged about. So, the Democrats sought reform. In 1972, the schedule shifted mostly to primary elections. The purpose was to make the process seem more open. Democrats also insisted on proportional representation of delegate slates. (Previously, you also had many ways of messing with the primary system, even where they existed. For example, there was the "favorite son" situation where, for a prominent example, California's Governor Brown would run as a candidate for president in his own state in the 1960 election, get all others (like JFK) not to put their names on the ballot, then "win" all the delegates of that state in order to be a kingmaker at the convention. Brown delivered for JFK after making a play for the VP slot and losing out).

The unexpected side effect was to change the source of legitimacy in the Democratic party! Once party members began to vote in nationwide, the idea began to grow that only an "elected" candidate should be the nominee. This is a breathtakingly new idea in the history of American political parties.

Republican history was different. First, they were farther along in this process (being more closely linked to the Progressives anyway, since progressives were breakaway Republicans initially). But they also had fewer divisions as a party. They were largely united on the Vietnam war and civil rights in the 1960s and early 1970s. (for both). Nixon's "southern strategy" didn't split the party because the south was not really Republican at that time - all it did was split the Democrats. After Watergate, the party struggled, but not against the perception of inner-party corruption. Democrats had a lock on that perception. Because the Republicans didn't have substantial minority voices to contend with, there was no pressure also to change winner-take-all primaries. Once the Republicans began to contend with a "solid south" for the Republicans, the possibility of party division began to rise. In 2008, we saw party division rampant along sectional and ideological lines, but the WTA system dampened its effects. Republicans are not yet grumbling about this, but if McCain loses, evangelicals may start bitching and demanding proportional representation like the Dems have (if the Dems win, it will show that their party wasn't torn apart by this also, reversing the convetnional wisdom of today)

In 1972, McGovern was perceived by party insiders in the Democratic party as a disaster borne of primaries. In 1976, the primaries produced a 'dark horse' - Jimmy Carter - whose presidency was also considered a disaster. So, in 1980, after the third electoral cycle with primaries, the DNC met and debated how to proceed. It was far from obvious that voters should choose the party nominee. As I mentioned, this was a new idea and none of the party leaders had grown up with it. Nor had most voters. So they adopted superdelegates, hoping there would be a "primary" of sorts also among party leaders.

Well, in the 1980s and 1990s, the superdelegates played no significant role that the public saw. In 1988 and 1992, the primaries produced unexpected nominees and the superdelegates did nothing. By 2000, a generation had grown up believing that the president was to be elected by party members. The advent of 24-hour news cycle and the internet also changed politics from an insiders' game that may occupy a few minutes of a 1/2 hour news broadcast into a widely publicized wash of media attention. Most of the people who designed the superdelegate system 20 years before were no longer in positions of power. So you have a new DNC also that "grew up" believing that primary voters were supposed to make the decisions. Ironically in the context of the current election, it was the Clinton DNC that really made this new view a reality, as baby boomers in their 40s and 50s took over the DNC with their post-Watergate post-1972 political educations.

Then the elections in 2000 and 2004 brought a revival of interest in voting and electoral details, and a tendency to brand the undemocratic features of our political system as illegitimate.

So, whatever the superdelegates were designed for a quarter of a century ago no longer matches the expectations of anyone today. The clear majority of voters, politicians, DNC members, and political operatives assume that party voters get to choose the presidential candidate - indeed, all levels of candidates. This is really a revolution in American democracy that most people don't understand because they think it was always like this. Superdelegates are accordingly nervous. There's a reason that Nancy Pelosi is waving a red flag saying that superdelegates won't go against the voters. They know that it's party suicide today, which was not necessarily true quarter century ago.

The 7% of GOP that are unpledged and the 20% Dem superdelegates are a relic of bygone days. I expect that in 2009, the Democrats will begin to change superdelegates into honorary delegates without votes. They may also trend to winner-take-all voting, while the GOP goes the other way.


The War, Its Consequences and Good Judgment

Something US West said in a recent comment has got me thinking. She said that Obama has still not shown that he has good judgement - aside from the war. And she said that wasn't enough. OK, fair enough. But the war is a pretty big thing to point to.

When Bush started the call to war, he argued that Saddam Hussein was in league with Al Qaeda and that he was working on developing nuclear and chemical weapons. Neither turned out to be true. Bush's supporters will say that at the time, it was a consensus in the intelligence community (they most like to point to French reports) that the WMD claim was correct. US West (I believe) has posted about how citing the French reports in support of the invasion is playing fast and loose with what the French intelligence reports actually said.

But let's talk about the consequences of the war. First, the war has killed between 600,000 and a million Iraqis. Second, over 3,000 US military deaths due to hostile fire (along with several hundred military deaths among our allies). If we include deaths due to vehicle accidents and other non-hostile fire causes, the number approaches 4,000. Third, it has cost the US over $500 billion and counting (about $275 million per day). Some reports are that the expected costs could top $1 trillion.

The tragedy of the human costs are obvious. The economic costs are nevertheless important. First, our national deficit is due in large part to the war (and Bush's tax cuts). Second, the war itself is retarding the world oil supply by keeping Iraq, one of the world's leading producers, producing far below capacity. Third, the deficit is closely tied to the recent rise in interest rates which lead to the wave of foreclosures. Fourth, our deficit is also tied to the high cost of oil because the value of the dollar is lower than its been in years. Since oil is purchased in dollars, it now takes more of them to buy the same amount of oil (even without the supply problems). The rise in oil prices is driving prices up for everything - inflation.

So how does this relate to good judgement? Because it was all predictable - and predicted - back in 2003 when Bush called for the war. Numerous academics predicted these dire consequences. Indeed, I can't think of any reputable political scientists or international relations scholars who said the war would be worth it (except for Condy Rice). What's more reports that the Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 and wasn't preparing nuclear or chemical weapons were circulating even before the war started.

And yet, Bush pressed for war and many in the Senate - including Democrats went along with it. The Republican who went along can say they were following their party leader - but then they have to explain why they chose such an idiot to lead them. Democrats who voted for the war either did not foresee the outcomes discussed above or they were more willing to risk them than risk going against a President who was (shocking though it may seem now) was popular at the time. Hillary Clinton was one of those Democrats.

In 2003 she voted in favor of Bush's war resolution. Since then she has taken a gradually more and more anti-war stance. At first she was echoing people like Lieberman when she said, "failure is not an option." But as it became more and more clear that Democrats would not tolerate a pro-war candidate, she modified her position to favor withdrawal.

The reason Obama can get mileage out of his saying that he showed good judgement on Iraq is because it is probably the one decision in the last 20 years that had the highest stakes for our country. And Clinton made a grotesquely wrong choice on it. Any other decision, about which particular type of health care reform to favor or which amendment to vote for in some Senate bill, pales in comparison.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Obama may have the momentum

Iowa's Democratic party county conventions were today. The precinct caucuses on Jan 3rd technically only produced delegates to the county conventions. Edwards delegates there had a choice to support Clinton or Obama, or continue to support Edwards. Most went for Obama, none for Clinton, some stayed with Edwards. AP is now estimating that Obama has picked up another 7 delegates from Iowa. Some reports are that Clinton actually lost a delegate in the process. Tallies will continue,but results should be clear in a day or so. Now, the state convention is the one that actually appoints the delegates, but it is fairly directly determined by the county conventions (appointing state delegates). Chances are the new totals will stand, because all the delegates are now fixed between the two camps.

This is very welcome news for the Obama campaign. It may signal what some of us have suspected - that Clinton's support is "tapped out" in terms of the party regulars at this point.
It also moves up the day of reckoning for Clinton. The question is whether he gets a majority of pledged delegates on 5/6 (Indiana and NC) or 5/20 (Oregon and Kentucky). If Michigan and FL vote on 6/3 (Michigan may, FL may not at this point) then the date of majority for Obama may wait until 6/3, the last primary election day when SD and Montana also vote (presumably for him).


Obama's "Al Gore" Moment

The Florida Ballot Project showed that if Al Gore had called for all the votes to be counted in Florida, he would have won. But instead he listened to his lawyers and only called for a limited recount of ballots in four counties. He missed his chance to take a strong moral stand. And it turns out that the shifts in those counties would not have been enough to make a difference anyway, even had the Supreme Court not intervened.

Obama now faces his own "Al Gore" moment. He can take a strong moral stand and ask for do-overs in Michigan and Florida, on the principle that everyone's vote should count. His own campaign argues that it is almost impossible for him to lose the pledged delegate count, mathematically speaking, even with MI and FL as-is. This would give Obama the moral high ground. And it would also give incredible strength to his argument that the winner of the pledged delegates should win the nomination. If he is bold and statesmanlike, he can sacrifice apparent immediate advantage to win the whole game.

This is his moment.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Alt for Norge!

The Norwegian government has proposed to make marriage laws gender-neutral, thus allowing gay marriage. The measure seems likely to go forward since governments usually get their legislation passed in a parliamentary system. This would add Norway as the sixth nation in the roll call, after the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, and South Africa. The law also would hold that, when two women marry and one becomes pregnant by in vitro fertilization, both partners would be able to claim parental rights from the moment of conception. Times, they are a-changing!


Ready from Day One???

This past week Clinton and her surrogates have been in rare form.

First there was the "Obama has an unfair advantage because he's black" comment from Geraldine Ferraro (who works for Clinton's campaign). Ferraro has since resigned amid a flurry of non-apologies. Her statement is absurd for any number of reasons but a prominent one is that she is trying to create a ranking of victimhood: White Women suffer more than African-American Men so vote for Hillary. That's a fairly generous interpretation. It is also possible she is one of these people who think that racial minorities get a free ride at the expense of hard working white folks.

Then there was the revelation by Hillary herself in an NPR interview that she was "instrumental" in bringing peace to Northern Ireland. Geez! What did she do? Have dinner with someone? She was First Lady, not Secretary of State! Her claim has drawn criticism from former state department official who is now working for the Obama campaign.

Both of these things speak to her relative qualification for the Presidency. Her presumed advantage is that she is "ready from day one" to be President. She would bring the experience of her years in the White House (apparently she was Co-President! Who knew?) and she has contacts with experience people who would be her advisers.

But give me a break please! Geraldine Ferraro is a has been of the first order (and apparently a racist as well). If she was the type of person Clinton was grooming for appointments I question the whole "ready from day one" thing.

And what experience does Hillary really have? She has been a Senator - and a pretty good one. So I wouldn't say she isn't qualified to run. But she gets a lot of mileage with letting people assume that she should get partial credit for everything that happened in the Bill Clinton administration. But that's just absurd. I have a friend who helped his wife study a lot in law school. But that doesn't make him a lawyer.

I'm reminded of something LTG said to me on the phone after the 3am phone call ad came out. He said to imagine an ad with the phone in the White House ringing at 3am. Hillary answers the phone (in a pants suit) and then turns off camera and says, "Bill, it's for you." Now that's a more accurate representation of her years in the White House than this nonsense about her being "instrumental" in the Northern Ireland peace process.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Note on Puerto Rico

On March 6, Puerto Rico made two important changes to their Democratic delegate selection contest. It will now be a primary for the first time--not a caucus--and they have moved the date up to June 1, so it will no longer be the final contest in the Democratic race. That honor (at least for now) belongs to South Dakota and Montana, which will hold primaries on June 3.

It is also a proportional primary, which means that there is now no chance that all 55 delegates (plus 8 superdelegates) will be awarded to a single candidate--as some have feared--yet the new date also means that any large delegate pick-up by either candidate there would not feel so odd anymore.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fire Dean, Fund the Do-Overs

To give party officials more influence over the nomination process, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) created superdelegates in 1982. To punish the Florida and Michigan party chapters for defying the new national primary schedule, the DNC stripped them of all their delegates--and then handed out an extra 76 add-on delegates ("uber super delegates") to the rest of the states. The DNC has distributed and withheld delegates like candy, brazenly manipulating the nomination process with all the tact and foresight of a high school prom committee.

Apparently, it never occurred to the DNC that these superdelegates would only give party officials any "influence" if they voted contrary to the pledged delegates and thereby changed the outcome of the nomination. Apparently, it never occurred to the DNC that refusing to seat the delegates from Florida and Michigan would only "punish" them if doing so changed the outcome of the nomination. It certainly never dawned on them that shenanigans which change the outcome of the nomination would be seen as unfair and de-legitimizing.

If the purpose of an election is to make a decision in a way all sides will at least grudgingly accept was democratic and fair, the DNC has failed spectacularly in the 2008 Presidential cycle. It is time the DNC to step up and fix the mess they created. Howard Dean, the chair of the DNC and the man repsonible for the Michigan and Florida fiasco, should be fired. The DNC should pay for the full cost of a complete do-over of the primaries in Michigan and Florida (none of this privately-funded mail-in crap). And as part of restoring the delegate count formulas, the 76-or-so unpledged "add-on" delegates should be sent home (most have not been selected anyhow).

As for the rest of the 700+ superdelegates, we shall simply have to trust that they will do what is in the best interests of the party. Which is likely to bow to the wishes of the pledged delegates, unless the numbers are really close. I see no other good alternatives anymore.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mississippi Votes

Surprise, surprise - a southern state votes along racial lines. Obama got between 1/4 - 1/3 of the white vote in Mississippi, it seems. Clinton got the rest. However, the black vote was about 90% for Obama. We saw similar results in Alabama and Louisiana. The delegate haul should be pretty good, though, because Obama was leading among women and men in double digits.

It is also noteworthy that 13% of the voters were self-identified Republicans, and 78% of them voted for Clinton. As many here know, some on the right, including Rush, are encouraging Republicans to cross over and vote for Clinton in order to keep the Democratic primary process going, and/or because they think she's the weaker candidate.


No Substitute

California State Senator Carole Migden, the Democrat who proposed California's original domestic partnership law in 1999 when she served in the State Assembly, has proposed again to expand the law to include unmarried heterosexual couples. She tried to do so last year (she had wanted that provision to be part of the original domestic partnership bill) but then-Governor Gray Davis balked at it.

Naturally, the self-proclaimed "Family First" crowd accuses Senator Migden--herself a lesbian--of advocating a watered-down substitute that would weaken the institution of marriage in general. And I smile and think, "Ha! See how insulted you feel at being offered domestic partnerships? I guess they are a pretty lame substitute for marriage, aren't they."

In 2005, the California Supreme Court annulled Senator Migden's marriage to her long-time partner on technical grounds, along with those of 4,000 other couples wed in San Francisco. It is no accident that she re-ignites this debate at the very moment when that same court is finally considering the constitutionality of denying marriage to same-sex couples.


Monday, March 10, 2008


It's the economy, stupid. Blood and riches flow to the Middle East in so many ways these days.

Some things to take notice of:

1) Oil just hit $108 a barrel today. The prices will continue to go up. I buy a tank about every 2 weeks and the price per gallon here in lovely California has jumped over 40 cents a gallon. Analysts are predicting prices as high as $4 a gallon this spring. And I am going to say that it could go higher if a refinery "breaks" down, which seems to happen fairly often, or if there is even more instability in the oil producing parts of the world.

2) The US lost 63,000 Jobs in Feb. This combined with #3, rising foreclosure rates, below has further weakened the dollar. This rate is probably low. News is that many people have just given up and aren't even counted. But then, they say that every time the jobs number goes soft. Hard to say what is really going on there.

3) Home foreclosures rose to a record high in the fourth quarter of 2007 and that is expect to go even higher in the Q1 08. With a housing market that is tanking and consumers more wary than they have been in a long time. Rising fuel prices don't help.

4) The exchange rate is now $1 will buy me .65 Euro cents and .49 pence (British pound). When I go to Europe next week, I will be doubling the price of everything to get some idea of what I am paying for things. The dollar fell to an 8 year low against the yen.

Folks, we are in deep trouble and headed in deeper.


Client 9

New York Governor Elliot Spitzer has been caught soliciting a high-paid prostitute. He was identified as "Client 9" in the recordings from the wiretap in the federal investigation. Spitzer held a very brief and emotional press conference today, his wife standing silently next to him, in which he admitted it and asked forgiveness.

He gave no indication he would resign, and I would bet he is still good for re-election in New York in a few years. But this surely ends any national aspirations for this formerly bright star of the Democratic party. Cross him off your VP lists.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Viva España!

Today, Spain held elections. The Socialists under Zapatero won re-election, though with a slightly smaller number of seats. This is wonderful news for all those who claimed that Zapatero only won the last time because of the terrorist attacks on the eve of the election. Actually, the plurality of Spaniards are ready to embrace social change: easier divorce, procreative rights, and gay marriage. They also rejected the heavy-handed efforts of the Roman Catholic church to interfere in the elections. This, in Spain, is a reprise of the Roman Catholic church's historical role of supporting the Spanish fascists and monarchists, and disdain for democracy and modernity (John Paul II tried to gloss over this by casting everything as anti-communism - clever, but no longer possible). Like Ireland before it, Spain is shedding its anti-democratic, insular, Roman-dominated past (well, peninsular...) for a place in modern Europe.


Saturday, March 08, 2008

A Very Special Election

Today (3/8/08) the 14th district of Illinois is having a special election to fill a Congressional seat. This is the district that Denny Hastert (former Repub Speaker) held until he resigned last year. The results are promising for Democrats. With 96% of the precincts in, the Democrat is leading 53%-47%. I presume that's a victory. Taking this seat is particularly sweet, and bodes well for the Fall.

This is relevant for another reason. There are 794 superdelegates presently (One congressman died - I can't remember how the other was lost of originally 796). The new Democrat will be another Superdelegate. He has already "pre-endorsed" Barack Obama. In fact, Obama made a campaign ad for him saying "you don't have to wait till November to vote for change." It should be instructive that in a Republican congressional district, a Democrat would choose to run with Obama (not Hillary Clinton) and successfully win that seat (although, of course, it is in Illinois).


Friday, March 07, 2008

A Test in Wyoming

Unexpectedly, tiny Wyoming - the least populous state in the Union - has become a battleground state in 2008 for the Democrats. Both Clinton and Obama have been there in person in the last couple days. The number of participants in the caucuses will be absolutely tiny. In neighboring Idaho, with a similar political makeup, there were 21,000 Democratic caucus goers (out of a population of 1.5m). In Wyoming, with 1/3 the population of Idaho, we can expect approximately 7,000 Democratic caucus-goers. Turnout by the students in Laramie will be important to the outcome. It may be more, because Wyoming Democrats are enthusiastic. They managed to elect a governor (Freudenthal) and are enjoying the love and attention from Clinton and Obama. Still, I would not expect more than 10,000 to show up. So every vote matters. Wyoming also has a Senatorial special election this Fall. While the GOP is expected to win, the death of the incumbent Republican led to the appointment of John Barrasso, another Republican (note: Wyoming law sensibly required Freudenthal to select one of three nominees by the Republicans in Wyoming). Freudenthal no doubt picked the worst of the lot. So Keith Goodenough, running for the Democrats, may get some national attention or dollars.

Wyoming is the sort of state Obama has won handily in the past 6 weeks: a western caucus state. If Obama repeats with a significant victory there (60/40) then it is a sign that his campaign remains healthy. If he squeaks out a victory, or even loses, it should be a shock to the system. The only caucuses Clinton has won are American Samoa and Nevada, and in the latter she received fewer delegates. If she can do well in Wyoming, it is a sign that her campaign has really "turned a corner." Then we will see what happens in Mississippi. The huge black vote should guarantee Obama a victory there, but we will see how he fares with white voters - whether it looks more like South Carolina (1/4 white vote )or Virginia (solid majority).

Wyoming votes tomorrow (Sat, 3/8).


Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Dirty Little Secret

This week there has been a huge flap over the Air Force's decision to award a $40 bil contract to EADS-Northrop team to build a refueling tankers.

Everyone is enraged that not only did a foreign company get the contract, but a FRENCH one! Congress called Northrop a cover for the French. They claim that the air force should have awarded the contract to Boeing to create jobs here at home at a time when manufacturing jobs are disappearing. Well sorry, but the law does not allow the Air force to base its purchasing decision on protectionist job creation measures. I have no doubt that the Air Force was ready for this uproar and I am sure they will be able to defend their decision.

All of that aside, I find this controversy very interesting and I hope it will encourage the media to dig deeper into how government agencies have their hands tied by contracting rules. Here are a couple of dirty little secrets.

For starters, did you know that when selecting a contractor in a competitive bidding process, the government is NOT allowed to use past performance (or the lack thereof) as criteria? This was meant, I am sure, to prevent favoritism and corruption in the bidding process. The idea is that you re-invent the wheel each time a contract expires. No automatic renewal. However, as a rule it fails miserably because it cuts both ways. It prevents government agencies from getting rid of a contractor who has failed to deliver on the contract. When a contract expires, the government has to put out a competitive bid. If the same lousy company bids, their bid must be considered alongside new bidders and past performance cannot be considered. And if the lousy bidder has the lower price, then there isn't much the government agency can do.

The other evil is that a contractor will be able to underbid competitors by cutting labor costs. One example is that my agency contracts out gate security. We have federal police that handle the real security, but the gate monitoring is contracted out. The previous contractor did a good job, but paid workers $25 an hour. The new contractor pays them $13 an hour and as a result, has ex-cons with expunged recordings monitoring the gates. But the new contractor had a lower bid. End of story.

I could give you several examples of contractors who fail to deliver, but are re-signed over an over because they underbid. Shame on Congress for getting angry at the Air Force. They out to be looking at the contracting rules.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A do-over in Michigan and Florida

It looks like the Clinton supporters are coming to their senses and starting to support the idea of a do-over in Michigan and Florida. At last! This is exactly what we need to legitimate the process going forward. Let Clinton or Obama win in fair fights with both campaigns in full swing and both names on the ballot. This will also add two more contests to allow them to prove their mettle. Clinton supporters are saying that this will give her the possibility of showing the momentum needed. I agree. To the extent that Michigan and Florida may get to do what they have long wanted to do - cast decisive votes in the race and make the candidates pay attention to them - it's a win-win for them.


A Veep for McCain

So, who will McCain choose for VP? Possibilities:

1. Mike Huckabee. Probably not a choice he needs to make. The conservatives will bandwagon with him to stop Clinton if she's the nominee. He can wait on that.
2. Joe Lieberman. My greatest fear. This looks like a 'national unity' ticket. That will be dangerous, since the Dems need to show that a vote for McCain is just a third term for W.
3. Tommy Thompson. Was a dud as Homeland Security Fuehr- Secretary.
4. Mitt Romney. No. They don't like each other.
5. Elizabeth Dole. Another killer move. She's likable. Red Cross doesn't hurt.
6. William Weld. A real "f*** you" to Mitt Romney.
7. Gov. Pataki. Make a play for New York?
8. Rudy Giuliani (see Pataki)
9. Mitch Pawlenty (Gov of Minnesota). Could put Dems on defensive there.
10. Gov. Crist (Florida). Could take Florida off the plate for Dems. Also, a fork in the eye to Bush.
11. John Warner (VA). Could come out of retirement to destroy Dem chances of taking Virginia.
12. Condoleeze Rice. Too many negatives. Unmarried black woman in her 50s? Not the whitebread family person the GOP loves.
13. Sonny Perdue (Gov, GA). See Huckabee, but not a threat to McCain.
14. Orrin Hatch. Who needs Mitt?
15. Pete Domenici. He needs a job; also cancels out Richardson.
16. Tom Ridge. Meh.
17. Fred Thompson. Another dud.


Advice to Obama: Go Negative Now

Obama's campaign stalled last night. True, he won Vermont and is doing well in Texas caucus returns, but the double-digit victories of February vanished. Clinton won a narrow victory in Texas and clean wins in Ohio and Rhode Island. However, Clinton's campaign went very negative in the week and a half, and that seems to have pushed the election her way. Obama needs to stop playing so nice and show that he counter a negative campaign of the sort McCain is preparing for the Democratic nominee in the Fall. He also owes it to the party to show Democratic voters all of Clinton's weaknesses, so they can decide to vote for her or not with eyes open. Obama needs to remind the Democrats that she hasn't been "vetted," as she says - she's got lots of liability and vulnerabilities.

A shot of her saying "vast right wing conspiracy." The Tyson's Chicken $100,000 profit. Perhaps re-do the "red phone" ad she waged against Obama, only with her picking up the phone and saying, over and over again, "It's for you, Bill." Then, when it's actually for her, saying, "Now, what do I do?" Remind voters that Clinton's real experience (not just goodwill tours as First Lady) was as a corporate lawyer and member of the Wal-Mart board of directors. She was there for six years, from 1986-1992. It was a mistake not to mention that in Ohio; he needs to do so in Pennsylvania. Voters need to know that she's not "pro-Union," that she hasn't been "fighting for working people for 35 years."

McCain will make mincemeat of her claim. Imagine: "I was in the Senate while you were on Wal-Mart's board of directors..."

And, of course, Iraq. In 2004, Clinton called for more troops in Iraq, associating herself with... John McCain. Throughout 2005, she opposed efforts to end the war and withdraw troops, changing only in 2006 when public opinion shifted. She also stated in 2004 that "No, I don't regret giving the president authority because at the time it was in the context of weapons of mass destruction, grave threats to the United States, and clearly, Saddam Hussein had been a real problem for the international community for more than a decade." Now she says otherwise. She says that if she had known then what she knows now, whe wouldn't have made the vote. What did she not know? - That she could vote for the war and still run for president. If people want to vote for Hillary Clinton for president, they can do so, but they need to do so with their eyes wide open. Obama owes it to the Democrats to explain that Hillary Clinton is not "vetted."


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Predictions for Today

Vermont: Obama 60, Clinton 40 (Obama)
Rhode Island: Clinton 53, Obama 47 (Clinton)
Texas: Obama 51, Clinton 49 (barely Obama, but ahead in delegates for sure)
Ohio: Clinton 52, Obama 48 (Clinton)

End of night results: Obama gains net 10-20 delegates.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Electoral Nachos

For those of you on the West Coast planning to settle in for a night of poll watching, here are poll closing times tomorrow (3/4) (all times given PST):

Vermont: 4:00pm (polls close 7:00pm EST)
Ohio: 4:30pm (polls close 7:30pm EST)
Rhode Island: 6:00pm (polls close 9:00pm EST)
Texas: Most polls close 5:00pm (7:00pm CST), but polls in El Paso area close at 6:00pm (7:00pm MST). It is not clear whether precinct results will be made availalbe to the press from any precinct before all polls close. Caucuses continue starting at 7:15pm local time.

What I expect to see:
4:00pm - Vermont will be "called" for Obama (Obama people, have a glass of Bordeaux or a perrier).
5:00pm - CNN will examine Vermont exit polls to see if they can determine anything other than that it is a very small, very liberal state.
6:00pm - Rhode Island will be "called" for Clinton (Clinton people, pop open the Blue Ribbon).
7:00pm - Ohio will still be "too close to call" (Obama folks, order takeout Thai food; Clinton folks, continue to eat your leftover hotdish or senior citizen MREs)
8:00pm - Texas will be "too close to call", and results for caucuses will be trickling in until midnight (Obama folks, turn down the plasma so the neighbors can sleep. Clinton folks: nighty-night).
8:30pm - the Clinton candidacy will be declared "not dead." Obama will be declared "the near-certain nominee." None of this contradiction will bother anyone.
8:33pm - Someone talks about McCain for two minutes
8:35pm - Huckabee announces his home planet
9:00pm - Wolf Blitzer and John King will start making out, just to see if anyone is still watching
9:15pm - Keith Olbermann begins a multi-clause sentence
9:20pm - Keith Olbermann concludes sentence; leaves modifier dangling anyway.
9:30pm - Keith Olbermann still looks very earnest
10:00pm - Donna Shalala will finally get to speak
10:30pm - Microphone successfully wrested from Donna Shalala
11:00pm - Exit pollers in Texas will realize for the first time that Obama is Spanish for "none of your damned business."
11:30pm - Youtube of caucus in Dallas shows woman beating Clinton supporter over head with a Nieman-Marcus bag.
Midnight - John Edwards will be spotted at an all-night drug store.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Short List (Who would be Obama's VP?)

1. Hillary Clinton. Good for party unity, but, as Dr.S. pointed out, to the extent that Obama voters think she's polarizing, she brings all the Clinton negatives. I also think she's way too proud to do it. She's already lived in the White House. No desire to go up to the Naval Observatory.
2. Bill Richardson. Good experience. Half-Latino, half-white. May be able to "deliver" New Mexico. Those 5 EV will be crucial to a Democratic win in the Fall.
3. Sherrod Brown. A first-term Senator from Ohio, but long experience in the House. Also a uniter in the sense that he's part of the Old Party Left (basically, what is now the Clinton wing, which is odd if you think about where Bill started). Could he deliver Ohio? If so, that would be a big plus. Wife is cool too.
4. Kathleen Sebelius (see prior post).
5. Wesley Clark. The General could stare down McCain. My fave du jour. Helps with the older, white voters. Could be a great boon, although he may be too loyal to Clinton to do it. I've heard that he's out campaigning with her.
6. Janet Napolitano. Sure, Arizona governor would be good normally, but McCain will take Arizona. Also, no foreign policy experience.
7. Bill Ritter. First-term Democratic governor of Colorado. Can he deliver that all-important swing state? Was chief prosecutor (D.A.) for Denver for the past 12 years. Prior to that, spent three years in Zambia (1987-1990) with his wife running a food distribution and nutrition center. Unfortunately, he did that as a Roman Catholic missionary, and is very, very pro-life.
8. Joe Biden. Lots of great foreign policy experience. Can talk Iraq to McCain and get the better of him. Has a tendency to gabble on and say weird things, though. Also... another Senator?
9. Chris Dodd. Liberal Democrat from Connecticut. Do we need one on the ticket? Maybe if its versus McCain-Lieberman. Dems need to carry Connecticut.
10. Jennifer Granholm. Governor of Michigan. Not very popular. Sigh.
11. Dick Gephardt. Nah.
12. Al Gore. Nope.
13. Tom Vilsack. Could he carry Iowa? RBR would probably say "no."
14. John Edwards. Won't do it. Best for Attorney General.
15. Jerry Brown. Nah.
16. Tim Kaine. Democratic Governor of Virginia. Could Dems take VA this year?
17. Jim Webb (See Tim Kaine, but way more military experience).
18. Daniel Akaka, junior senator from Hawaii. Obama/Akaka. Has a ring to it. Hakuna matata?
19. Mary Landrieu (Senator from Louisiana). Katrina, not her friend.
20. Eric Shinseki (the "I told you so" ticket).