Thursday, February 28, 2008

Maybe they blame you for getting them into this mess

With the House Democrats’ refusal to grant retroactive immunity to phone companies — stalling the rewrite of the warrantless wiretapping program — GOP leadership aides are grumbling that their party isn’t getting more political money from the telecommunications industry.

h/t The Carpetbagger Report

If the president tells you to do it, that means it is not illegal

Or at least, that's the thinking of George Bush (channeling the ghost of Richard Nixon).
The government said to those who have alleged to have helped us that it is in our national interests and it’s legal. It’s in our national interests because we want to know who’s calling who from overseas into America. We need to know in order to protect the people.

It was legal.

Of course, they could have simply had their attorneys do a quick check of the law to see that it was illegal.

So on the one hand the civil liberties of our citizens are guaranteed by a lot of checks in the system, scrutinized by the United States Congress.

Right. Those checks are called laws. Like the FISA law. The one you violated. And you didn't bother informing Congress until you were worried they wouldn't rubber stamp your retroactive immunity bill.

As for whether the phone companies will help you monitor terrorist's phone calls -- Well, you could always get a warrant.

Image credit: Bell System Telephone by seychelles88

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Did Catholic voters hate John Kerry in 2004?

Here's another article pushing the conventional wisdom that religious voters hate Democrats (although fortunately not Barack Obama).

From Newsweek's "On Faith" column:
Catholics and evangelicals don't hate Obama. In other words, he's no Kerry or Dukakis.
Wait a minute. Catholic voters hated John Kerry? Let's check those numbers again:
Bush 52% Kerry 47% - Catholic voters
Bush 51% Kerry 48% - All voters
So Catholic voters broke along virtually the same numbers as the country as a whole did. Where's the hatred in that?

Monday, February 25, 2008

What's the sound of the Clinton campaign imploding?

Yet another Clinton surrogate flips primary voters the bird:

[C]learly both candidates have excited and engaged the party’s membership — but, even so, turnout for primaries and caucuses is notoriously low. It would be shocking if 30 percent of registered Democrats have participated.If that is the case, we could end up with a nominee who has been actively supported by, at most, 15 percent of registered Democrats. That’s hardly a grassroots mandate.

More important, although many states like New York have closed primaries in which only enrolled Democrats are allowed to vote, in many other states Republicans and independents can make the difference by voting in Democratic primaries or caucuses.

He won his delegates fair and square, but those delegates represent the wishes not only of grassroots Democrats, but also Republicans and independents. If rank-and-file Democrats should decide who the party’s nominee is, each state should pass a rule allowing only people who have been registered in the Democratic Party for a given time — not nonmembers or day-of registrants — to vote for the party’s nominee.
Do they really consider this a winning strategy? Who are they trying to convince? The 20+ million Democratic primary voters who've broken turnout records across the country? The only thing crazier than believing this nonsense is that they think it's smart politics to argue it openly while voters in a dozen states are still preparing to go to the polls.

Candidates can throw mud at their opponent and be forgiven. But they cannot continually and publicly show contempt for the voters they'll need in the general election and survive.

Before Super Tuesday, it's safe to say most Obama supporters believed that Hillary would be the party's nominee and they were ready to come over and vote for her in the general election. But you can only smack people so many times and expect them to show up for you in November. If Obama wins the popular vote and the committed delegates, but party insiders overrule them, the Democrats will lose the presidency.

In the past few weeks the Clinton team have insulted party activists, African Americans, young people, small state Democrats, moderates, conservatives and liberals, together with Republicans and independents who've recently moved into the Democratic camp. They've even branded some superdelegates "second-class delegates". Combine that with her recent Abandon All Hope talking points and you've got an election platform to rival Walter Mondale's.

Bill Clinton might be forgiven his condescension to the black voters of South Carolina, Hillary excused for her clumsy comments after her Super Tuesday losses. Mark Penn can be condemned as a fool and a lousy strategist. But a campaign simply can't be caught publishing this kind of idiocy in the New York Times.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Clinton's team starts to attack Democratic voters directly

Speaking of plagiarism. Guess which of these is a line from a recent Hillary Clinton rally, and which is from the script of an RNC attack ad from the 2004 election:

Give me a break! I've got news for all the latte-drinking, Prius- driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust fund babies crowding in to hear him speak! This guy won't last a round against the Republican attack machine. He's a poet, not a fighter.

"[He] should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading ...body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to [his home state], where it belongs."

I'm not entirely sure who's going to be left to vote for Hillary if her superdelegate gambit pays off. After writing off the general election in more than a dozen states and having insulted Republicans, independents, and moderates ... now they're attacking liberal Democrats?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What's your hurry?

The Washington Post's Dan Balz, describes the mess that is the Democratic presidential election:
The rules of proportionality, which distribute delegates based on the percentage of vote won in a state or legislative district, make it more difficult for winners to gain a significant edge early in the process, or for trailing candidates to catch up late in the process. Winning, in other words, carries no special rewards unless the margins are more than 25 percentage points.
At the time that was written Hillary Clinton had won about 46% of the popular vote and 49% of the elected delegates. Obama had won 50% of the popular vote and 51% of the delegates.

Why is this considered a flaw in the system?

Apparently Dan is upset that the number of delegates you get is connected to the number of people who vote for you.

On the Democratic side there are two very popular candidates competing in a tight race for the nomination. We still haven't heard from the voters in 14 states. It's not a big surprise that we don't know the winner yet.

On the other side, John McCain was able to quickly dominate in a winner-take-all system despite deep hostility from members of his own party. He still has a hard time getting a majority of the vote against token opposition and has to worry about whether the base will show up in November. The Republican system is hardly more democratic, but it's faster, which I guess is what Dan Balz is looking for.

Unfortunately, he may actually have to wait until everyone gets a chance to vote.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Clinton advocate comes out in favor of smoke filled rooms

Lanny Davis (former special counsel and spokesman for Bill and strong supporter of Hillary's) repeats the assertion that states Obama wins simply don't count.
DAVIS: She has a majority of the United States senators who have endorsed her. She won in California and in Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry's backyard. And the states that you add up that Barack Obama won and give him credit, Idaho, Utah and North Dakota are not exactly states that are ever going to vote Democratic as opposed to California and we have the two senators in Washington.
You really need to kill this meme now, Hillary, before a smart Obama strategist starts running an ad with titles like this:

Hillary Clinton thinks some states are insignificant. Is yours one of them?

Worse yet, Davis, writing for The Hill, now literally argues that smoke-filled rooms are better at choosing candidates than Democratic voters are.
That data showed that in primary elections, the turnout among Democrats was often well below 50 percent. And in caucus states, where voters had to show up at a particular time and place and wait up to several hours before voting, the turn out was often as small as 10%-20% or often much less.

We were also reminded that before these reforms, the "smoke-filled rooms" of Democratic Party leaders had led to the nomination and election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson and John F. Kennedy. Not bad.
It's no surprise that this man, who once sat on DNC Executive Committee, authored the WSJ editorial entitled Liberal McCarthyism (attacking Democrats for voting against his favorite in a primary).

The Democratic base already believes that the 2000 election was stolen and would be furious if they believed their own party cheated to deny them their pick for the nomination.

If her people keep making these arguments, Senator Clinton risks being labeled as the candidate who says to hell with the voters, I'll win anyway possible. (The fact that Obama is currently winning the popular vote as well doesn't help her case.)

Update: Here we go again. These people really aren't helping you Hillary.
A top strategist to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) on Saturday countered the recent claims of some prominent Democrats that party elders would be wrong to override the will of their constituents in their choice for the Democratic presidential nominee.

In a phone call with reporters, Harold M. Ickes, argued that the 796 so-called superdelegates who could decide the party’s White House nominee were as much or “potentially more in touch” with the issues important to voters than the delegates amassed by the candidates through state primaries and caucuses.

In other words, party insiders understand the desires of voters better than the voters themselves. (Really, why do we bother to vote at all?)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Is Hillary Clinton running a 20-state strategy?

The nice thing about the Democrat's proportional nomination system is that it's worth fighting to come in a close second. It's far better to lose a state by 3% instead of by 30%. Every state is worth campaigning in, even if it's the opposition's home turf. Yet Senator Clinton has been taking states off the table ever since South Carolina - allowing Obama to defeat her by 20,30, even 50%. The only place Clinton has done as well is in her former home of Arkansas and neighboring Oklahoma.

And now we've got a collection of races that Hillary literally says are not worth winning. (I guess she's not an advocate of Howard Dean's 50-state strategy).
[Hillary Clinton] also downplayed many of Obama's Super Tuesday victories, describing them as states that Democrats should not expect to win in November.

"It is highly unlikely we will win Alaska or North Dakota or Idaho or Nebraska," she said, naming several of Obama's red state wins. "But we have to win Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, Michigan … And we've got to be competitive in places like Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma."
Hillary apparently believes that there are solid Democratic states and solid Republican states that aren't even worth competing for during the general election. Instead she'll focus on a few "swing" states (don't ask me how Massachusetts and Texas got on that list).

The electoral vote map from 1964. Democrat Lyndon Johnson won the states in red (see if you can find Alaska, North Dakota, Idaho and Nebraska).

The map above is typical for American presidential elections. In 15 of the 25 elections since 1908, the winner of the presidency won over 75% of the states and over 75% of the delegates. The races in 2000 and 2004 weren't normal; they were aberrations.

This is what the map looked like 8 years before Johnson's win. 43 of 48 states switched sides. The country isn't nearly as polarized as strategists like to believe. "Democratic" states will vote for a Republican and vice versa, but you have to work for it.

The electoral vote map from 1956. Republican Dwight Eisenhower won the states in blue.

I would have given Hillary credit for making a clumsy remark, except her team keeps repeating the theme:
“Could we possibly have a nominee who hasn't won any of the significant states -- outside of Illinois?” Chief Strategist Mark Penn said. “That raises some serious questions about Sen. Obama.”
Insignificant states apparently include Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Washington. Since the Clinton team has already run off to Texas, I'll assume Wisconsin and Hawaii make the list too. And considering what's already on the list, you can make a pretty good case that they believe Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming aren't worth their trouble either.

That's 30 insignificant states.

Is this how she's going to campaign in the general election? Ceding large swaths of "red" America before even starting. This should be a blowout year for the Democratic nominee yet she seems to be dreaming of a 271 electoral vote squeaker.

And to paraphrase the Clinton team, the last time anybody won the presidency with fewer than 20 states was 1888 - and there were only 36 states in the Union at the time.