Friday, December 12, 2008

Sen. Corker - Very Effective and Very Dangerous: My Way or the Highway

1. Corker will run for President.

2. He has proven himself to be incredibly effective as a politician, both in getting what he wants and in putting a positive spin on it. If only Reid had half his skill, the Democratic minority, and majority, might actually have accomplished something these past years. But Conservative commitment to their goals remains much stronger than Democratic commitments to their values. And Ron Gettelfinger is vastly outgunned and out maneuvered by Corker and, quite frankly, does not know how to sell his case. (He continually talks in generalities rather than in the specifics that would strengthen his case).

3. What makes him effective? He clothes his ideological rigidity in a combination of southern charm and seeming reasonableness.

4. What did Corker do that was so effective? First, he put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the UAW by insisting that only 3 words stood between success and failure. And to him, of course, those 3 words were reasonable. He also lied in his news conference, something easy to do because our media don't bother to watch C-SPAN. In the interview I saw on C-SPAN, he insisted that "any date certain" would have been fine. On the floor, he insisted on a date in 2009. In the caucus, apparently, he had insisted on Mar. 31, 2009. And it was "parity" not "competitive" that I heard on the floor. It didn't occur to any of his interviewers to suggest that if it was "only 3 words", he could have ceded. After all, that's what bargaining is: give and take. There were, to him, three key provisions. The UAW accepted the others. But 2 out of 3 wasn't good enough. So Corker essentially told the UAW that "it's my way or the highway", and he sold it in such a way that nobody realized that he, not the UAW, was even more guilty of refusing to bend.

Corker and his fellow Southern Senators made clear during the hearings, which I also watched on C-SPAN ( again, something that nobody at CNN or MSNBC or NBC apparently ever thinks to do)), that they opposed bailouts in general and this one in particular. Corker was forceful in his opinion that Chrysler was just waiting to be bought (rather obviously true) and that GM was doomed to fail. Give him credit for being one of the few Senators/Reps. in the hearings who realized that Ford did not need a loan but simply a line of credit and, then, only in case the recession was even worse than anticipated or one of the other companies failed.

I suspect that those "3 words" were added specifically so the Republicans could torpedo the legislation and blame it on the UAW. And Corker has pretty much succeeded in both objectives. Which is why he is somebody that Democrats should both fear and emulate.

What else was Corker able to do? He was able to laugh at the idea of a "Car Czar" while at the same time taking upon himself the role of a "Car Czar" and a bankruptcy judge. Corker turned himself into judge and jury. He alone understands the reality and he alone knows the solutions. For a man who, at other times, argues strongly against Government micro-management of business (esp. when it comes to environmental matters), that is exactly what he did. And our useless media, of course, let him get away with it.

One last thing: he managed to hide the fact that his plan required GM and Chrysler to prove their viability in 3 months. Given the state of the economy, that is incredibly unrealistic. It was just another way to ensure that GM and Chrysler would fail - and the failure would be seen to be theirs alone, not something helped along the way by the Southern Republicans.

Monday, December 1, 2008

FDR Didn't End the Depression: WWII Did

Both liberal and conservative economists seem to agree that WWII ended the Depression. But conservative economists go further. They say that FDR's actions (esp. the WPA programs) were, at best, useless & a waste of money or, at worst, the reason the Depression lasted until WWII.

I see two problems with this. First: the value of the work programs. I'm sure there was some waste, fraud and abuse. But a lot of today's infrastructure, like Eisenhower's highway system in the 1950s, was built under FDR.

Second, they ignore the "why" in the "WWII ended the Depression". I am NOT an economist (I barely survived the basic Econ. courses in graduate school), but, from an economic point of view, what did WWII do?

Well, it took millions of young men our of the civilian labor force and put them to work for the government. Then the government spent a lot of money on all the manufactured goods needed to run the war. It was government money that paid for the planes and tanks and uniforms and food and weapons, etc. And who produced these goods? Well, with a lot of the men doing government work, a whole new class of workers, women, went into the work force. I don't know what the combined number of new military men and new women in the workforce was, but certainly the result was the largest government works program in U.S. history.

So, the Conservatives draw the wrong conclusion. Yes, WWII ended the Depression. But it was precisely because it created an even greater expansion of Federal spending in the private sector. FDR's programs didn't work the miracle because they simply were not big enough.

Bill as Senator?

One of the dumbest speculations, among the endless CDS speculations, is the current gossip about Bill's being appointed to fill out Hillary's term. Apparently, this would solve some political problems for the Governor of New York and keep Bill "out of trouble".

The precedent? Adams. Would he do it? They say "why not"?.

First, it's unlikely that two Presidents could be more different than Adams & Clinton. Second, I suspect that the Congress in Adams' time was a more interesting place to work than the Congress today.

Think about it (something none of the talking heads talking about this have done): Bill Clinton as a junior Senator, stuck on unimportant subcommittees where he will be given two minutes to ask a question?

And can one imagine Clinton in a Senate in which Reid is the Majority Leader? Bill, one of the best arm-twisters around?

It is ridiculous and illustrates nothing so much as the utter vacuousness that characterizes the media, even the "big" media, today.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's Always Hillary's Fault

Surfing into Anderson 360 tonight, I discover that the reason Obama hasn't nominated a Treasury Secretary is that Hillary hasn't made up her mind. Apparently, The Chosen One, the reincarnation of Lincoln and FDR can't do two things at the same time.

And, of course, Obama's super secret, efficient, disciplined, loyal staff are angry because Hillary's people are responsible for all the leaks. I guess they're responsible for the leaks about the Attorney General and Homeland Security Secretary and Commerce Secretary, too?

Now, let me see. Obama, President-Elect, CIC, Leader of the Free World, can't "handle" the Clintons. Because, you see, he can't ask her formally to take the position unless he knows she will say yes (um, so what exactly happened with Pritzker? Did he just sort of hint around, like, um, maybe, do you think, maybe, .... and when Pritzker shook her head "no", that was it?) But, he can still, of course, ask Bill to lay bare his entire financial history - just in case, of course, he decides to offer her the job.

I'm not sure who comes out the worst here. These idiotic talking heads or Obama. Couldn't he, like, you know, just issue a statement that he hasn't offered anybody any position in his cabinet and will issue a press statement when he does? No? Too easy?

Quite frankly, the longer this goes on, the more I wonder why Hillary would even want to be in this amateur's cabinet. It's a dead end job, as far as I can tell. She wouldn't be able to run for the Senate again, unless, of course, she moved to another state. Governor? Maybe.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

GM Bankruptcy - Chap. 11 vs. Chap. 7 - Media Malfeasance

I don't know why I still expect anybody in the national media to do their jobs. Maybe I had just decided that "politics" was different. That I shouldn't expect fair or responsible coverage. But they could still deal with facts in other cases.

Not so. The Detroit 3 are asking for money. The response from the media, and from much of the Congress, is that they should just file for bankruptcy. "Chapter 11 is the solution".

Now, I am not a bankruptcy expert, or even a semi-expert. Hell, I'm an aboslute novice. But there appears to be a major difference between Chapter 11 (reorganization) and Chapter 7 (liquidation)and it is not at all clear that GM could reorganize under Chapter 11. Some people have mentioned a "pre-packaged" Chapter 11 or the Government (!) ensuring warranties, but as far as I can tell none of the talking heads who throw "Chapter 11" around know any more about bankruptcy law than I do.

It seems to me that the consequences of liquidation vs. reorganization are significant, not only for the companies but for the country. Millions could lose their jobs, their health care and, quite possibly, their homes.

I will admit that the executives of the Detroit 3 didn't do their cases any good by their inability to answer simply some basic questions (like how much cash they needed each month) or to explain to the committee members who advocated Chapter 11 the difference between the two types of bankruptcies. But isn't there a business reporter somewhere in the media (print, internet or TV) who could spend a little time researching the issue?

Personally, I'd rather waste 29 million trying to keep those 3 million jobs than just throw the dice and assume that everything will work out. (A couple of CNBC's guest stars on The Big Deal really threw me with their cool assessment that the 3 million would get unemployment benefits!)

A lot of this talk about "let them fail", "let the market clear out all the riff-raff" isn't new. It was last heard en masse in 1929. I'd like to think we learned something, but it appears that Conservative Economists are convinced that the Government caused the Great Depression and want to do it "their" way this time. Oddly enough, only CNBC's Jim Cramer seems to understand that in the current economic situation, ideology is not a good counselor. As he points out: we can punish all these corporate idiots later. It's more than a bit masochistic to send the world into a Depression just to prove that capitalism penalizes failures.

The "Bait and Switch" Bait and Switch

Lately, Conservatives, Republicans, and even a few Democrats (Waters, Ackerman) who should know better have been screaming about Treasury's switch from buying troubled assets (TARP) to capital investment.

Now, it is true that Paulson's initial idea and plea for money was specifically to buy the toxic assets through some kind of auction. Luckily, Congress proved to be smarter. The much maligned 3-page law Paulson proposed, replaced by the equally maligned several hundred page law (loaded with all those goodies people hate) allowed for investment (which is was Europe had started to do).

So, although Paulson was all for TARP, the law specifically allowed him to use capital investment. What I found especially troubling is that some of the Representatives and Senators who are getting all hot and bothered about this "bait and switch" are on the very committees responsible for the legislation. They, supposedly, have heard both Dodd and Frank explain this situation, several times if they had not bothered to read the legislation.

One can only conclude that they are either remarkably stupid, totally disconnected from reality, or just trying to appease or stir up their constituents.

Friday, November 7, 2008

NMJY (Not My Job Jet)

Well, for the past couple of days CNBC has been opining that Obama, in his first press conference as Pres-Elect had to offer specific plans. And the political reporters have all been saying how important it is that he name at least his Treasury Secretary. They were pleased that he already had a Chief of Staff (as opposed to that awful Bill who didn't name one until January - just reporting, don't know if that date is accurate).

So, what did we get? More campaign fluff, with the ever-present "bi-partisanship", and the new "I am not yet President".

Ok, he's right. The Shrub is still President, the old Congress is still there. But this was also a get-out-of-jail play. And does anybody doubt that her not yet being sworn in would have kept Hillary from setting out her detailed plans? No. Oh, but hey, she's already done that in areas like housing, only I guess that doesn't count because it's not her job. Obama did, however, give us a hint of what his excuse will be if he doesn't get his plan through when he has a plan: partisanship.

Almost forgot: those fast appointments Obama was going to give us? Well, fast means "weeks". Weeks before he is President: about 10.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Conservative Chagrin and Chutzpah

During the past couple of weeks, I've been watching Fox and, in spite of my dislike for Obama, can't help but be alternately amazed and pleased by the Conservative response to his (forthcoming) election.

Conservative Chagrin
It has been nothing short of joyful, in a way, to see the constant complaining about "liberal media bias". Now, obviously, this is nothing new. Conservatives have been complaining about liberal bias for at least 30-40 years. But, this time, of course, they are right. The media has been, since Feb., almost solidly for Obama. And one can see in their faces and hear in their voices their amazement that, this year, their complaints are not being heard and not being acted upon. The media have failed to latch onto any of the time-proven attacks on a Democratic Presidential candidate - even when, as is true re Obama - many of the attacks are truthful in whole or in part. These Conservatives, quite simply, are baffled by this change. It isn't the way things are supposed to be.

This year, Conservatives like Kristal, Krauthammer, Barnes, Limbaugh, etc. have outdone themselves and given a whole new meaning to the word "chutzpah".

First, of course, there is the utter dismay that "tax and spend liberals" will be in charge of the public purse. Horror of horrors, they fear for the national debt. Naturally, not a word about the "borrow and spend Republicans". Not a word about a Republican President and Congress that entered into a war of choice and not only did not raise taxes to support it but actually reduced taxes - something, I think, that has never occurred before.

Second: all the hand wringing about one party controlling Congress. Need one point out that there were no such concerns about the Republican Party controlling all the branches of government?

Third, Russ Limbaugh blamed the current economic crisis on Jimmy Carter! Like Reagan never happened. Like Bush 1 & 2 never happened. Our financial problems are all due to the Democrats.

Fourth, deficits matter! Yep, now that the Democrats are in control, it is important for them to recognize that they can't just spend money because of the deficit. For the past 8 years, after the Shrub turned Clinton's surplus into the biggest deficit in history, they have told us the deficit doesn't matter because it is still just a small part of the GNP.

Fifth, most recently, there was talk that, even if Obama won by a large majority, the Democrats should not assume that they have a mandate! Election night, Barnes was practically apoplectic about a liberal agenda. And he believes it is the Democrats who have shown no inclination to compromise! No inclination to compromise? That's all the Democrats have done for the past two decades. Which party was it that threatened the "nuclear" option in the Senate (a change in rules)? Oh, yea, it was the Republicans.

Good grief. Bush, in 2000, having won the Presidency only because of a Republican Supreme Court, started governing as if he had had a Reagan-type landslide. And I didn't hear a peep from any Conservative that, maybe, it was unwise or unjustifiable. One wonders if, once Obama is safely in office, the media will go back to their Republican souls and repeat this advice and concern that Democrats must be careful not to overreach themselves. (Update: Yep, it's already happening and Obama hasn't been President-elect for even 24 hours.)

Krauthammer, however, wins the prize for schizophrenia (i.e., a total disconnect from reality). This four-star misogynist asserted a couple weeks back on Fox that feminists hate Palin because she chose not to abort a fifth pregnancy when she learned the child would have Down's Syndrome. According to Krauthammer, her situation was the poster campaign for abortion, the reason (he made it sound like the "only" reason) feminists support abortion. Worse, he actually seems to believe the crap that he is spouting.

That these gray or bald heads (and the age of this cohort is quite noticeable) would pull out the old "tax and spend liberals" or rail against Democratic control of the Executive and Legislative branches is no surprise of course. That one-party rule isn't good for the country, that the American People prefer divided government, that the Party in control cannot assume it has a mandate are all familiar, and silly, refrains. Did any of these Conservatives worry about one-party control when the party in question was Republican? Of course not.

What offends me, however, is not their opinions. It is their pretense that all their concerns about the deficit, governing from the left rather than the center, one-party control of Washington, etc., etc. are based on principle.

And that, my friends, is the political definition of chutzpah.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Now they're worried about experience?

In Newsweek's Oct. 6, 2008 issue, Alter and Zakaria are apoplectic about Palin's lack of qualifications.

These are the men who for months have been assuring us that Obama's lack of experience is irrelevant. What matters is his judgment.* Zakaria went so far as to assert that Obama's having lived abroad for two years (as a pre-teen boy aged 10-12) is worth more than a PH.D in foreign affairs, negotiating experience, and world-wide travel as an adult.

But then, of course, Obama has a Y chromosome and we all know what that means: he was born with a gene for Presidential leadership.

Lithwick, in her column entitled From Clarence Thomas to Palin argues that Palin represents the worst effects of Affirmative Action. What does she think Obama represents? No White man (or Black man or woman) with his resume would be where he is today. (The Economist, another supporter, admits that Obama ". . . has the thinnest résumé of any nominee in living memory" but, like Newsweek, will probably announce on Nov. 1 that it doesn't matter). Obama was named President of the Harvard Law Review after the requirements, which he didn't meet, were changed. He got into the Illinois Legislature by disqualifying all of his opponents. Then, in his last 2 years when Democrats gained the majority, he convinced Emil Jones to give him credit for legislation he had little or nothing to do with. He won his Senate seat after his initial Republican opponent had to drop out and was replaced by a carpetbagger. Then there was that plum Democratic Convention speaking spot. And Oprah's endorsement. [Much of this was documented in The Chicago Tribune's March 25, 2008 series entitled Barack Obama: The Making of a Candidate.] His only accomplishments in life have been the advancement of his own career. Nobody can name anything he has ever done for anybody outside his family or any time that he risked political capital for a principle. Indeed, he has shown repeatedly throughout this campaign that he will swing in whatever direction he has to in order to win.

Andrew Sullivan, in a Dec. 2007 Atlantic puff piece gives these reasons for nominating & electing Obama: :"What does he offer? First and foremost: his face. Think of it as the most effective potential re-branding of the United States since Reagan." "Consider this hypothetical. It's November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America's soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama's face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can."

Michael Kinsley in his July 10, 2008 Time column asserted that "For many Clinton supporters, the chance to elect an African-American President represents the culmination of a cause they have been fighting for all their lives." Oh? As a lifelong liberal, that's news to me. I keep looking for another RFK and, believe me, the Kennedys' support notwithstanding, Obama doesn't even come close.

*Judgment: a one-sentence objection to the Iraq war uttered at a meeting where he wasn't even the main speaker, in a liberal district, that got 0 publicity at the time (in contrast, say, to the abuse Barbara Lee endured for her principled vote against the war authorization bill). His pastor, his decades' long friendship with Rezko, Ayres and throwing his grandmother under the bus 3 times (in his memoir, making her seem even worse in a speech, and finally nailing her with that "she's a typical white woman") don't count.

For the record, I don't happen to think Palin is qualified either and can't help but wonder why McCain didn't choose one of the several much more qualified Republican women. But I don't think Obama is qualified to be President either. And if we are to have one unqualified person on either ticket, it seems preferable for that person to be in the VP slot.


From the street vendor to the cab driver to the President of the United States, we are all economists and financial experts now. Everybody (including my favorite bloggers) knows that the bailout package is good, bad, will work, won't work, etc., etc. The Congress should have done x, or y or z. Some cite certain economists for support. Most don't bother. What is uniform is their lack of doubt about their particular take on the problem if, of course, they believe that there is indeed a "problem".

The truth is much simpler and a lot more scary: NOBODY KNOWS WHAT WILL WORK.

We are in uncharted territories. Although, as The Economist (Oct. 4-10, 2008) and other publications have noted, we can look back at other economic crises (S&Ls in the 1980s, Sweden & Japan in the 1990s, and, of course, The Great Depression), there are two problems for people trying to draw lessons from them. First, they are all different in very important ways. Second, even economists disagree about their causes and whether or not the measures taken were necessary or the best available. (Some now wonder if letting Lehman fail did much more harm than good.)

Much of the difference in the opinions of various experts today can, I suspect, be traced to their convictions about the primacy of The Free Market. The ones who are sure that FDR caused the Depression by too much government interference (that the market would have worked itself back to health much more quickly if the government had just let people starve) pretty much oppose government interference today. And vice versa.

Is there a problem? Well, I think one would have to be living in an alternate universe not to recognize that we are in or close to a worldwide financial panic. That it may not be rational is irrelevant. Panics are, by definition, irrational. It is hard to imagine (though not impossible) that any proposed fix could be worse than doing nothing. And, as far as I can tell, the bill that passed the Congress gives the Treasury Secretary and the Fed a variety of tools for dealing with it. We can, at this point, only hope that they be pragmatic (is it working?) rather than ideological in their choices.

Experts may have caused this crisis, but that doesn't mean that amateurs and know-nothings (people who couldn't explain the difference between a stock and a bond let alone what a credit default swap is*) - including me - know enough to fix it.

I think a little humility would be appropriate.

*Ira Glass's This American Life once again comes to the rescue. Another Frightening Story on the Economy

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Economic Crisis - A Republican Plot?

If I were a conspiracy addict, I'd believe that this entire economic crisis was devised by Republicans. Why?

Well, simple. Just as in 1990, knowing they would lose the Presidency, the Republicans have made sure that the economy would be in such a mess, and the deficit so huge, that even a Democratic President with a Democratic Congress would be unable to implement any of the traditional Democratic policies - not that Obama or Pelosi or Reid has any interest in them anyways.

So, Obama will get the blame for the recession that may last into 2010 - close enough to Congressional elections to give the Republicans a solid chance at winning back one or both Houses. And the strategy will probably succeed.

What's the Difference Between a Republican and a Democrat? Convictions

Watching John McCain and Sarah Palin mouth the same old Republican platitudes (low taxes, government is bad, etc., etc.) at a time when most of the people in the country know it is just those principles which got us into this mess, has made me aware yet again of the strength of Conservative convictions and the weakeness of Liberal ones.

Obama can barely bear to mention the word Democrat. His campaign is all about him. He panders to the Right, not even to the center. He is all "soft": both parties are at fault, we have to come together, etc., etc. Why? Well, partly of course, it's because he has no political convictions, but mainly because he cares only about what he has to do to win.

Unfortunately, this describes most Democrats today. Republicans (Conservatives) stuck to their principles throughout the reigns of FDR, Truman, Kennedy and LBJ. Their mantra of personal responsibility (social Darwinism), low taxes, no government regulation (except, of course, when it comes to morality), and the supremacy of the free market has never changed.

We can see this in the McCain/Palin campaign. At a time when McCain needed to reach out to Independents and disaffected Democrats, he chose possibly the least qualified and most conservative Republican woman candidate around because she would appeal to the Right Wing base of the Party. He, himself, has given up any pretense to being a maverick. He continues to sell himself as a Bush Republican, but a Bush Republican who will actually govern as a Republican.

The Democrats, OTOH, after the Vietnam War seemed to completely lose their way. Not only did they stop promoting Democratic (Liberal) values, they stopped defending them. Even Bill Clinton campaigned and governed mainly as Republican Lite. (Hillary, OTOH, is much closer to the FDR, RFK ideal.)

Today we have Obama, Pelosi, Reid, etc. all bowing to the Conservatives, begging for their support, doing everything they can to avoid creating controversy, least they be accused of being Liberals.

What I don't understand is why. Why do Conservatives never lose faith in their principles, no matter how much reality differs from fact while Liberals caved in at their first major loss (to Reagan)?

Obama's luck

Much as I dislike Obama, I can't but admire his luck. He became President of the Harvard Law Review after they changed the requirements for the job (which, of course, he didn't meet). He got into the Illinois legislature by getting all his opponents disqualified. He won his Senate seat because the Republican candidate had to bow out due to a sex scandal and the Republican Party had to fly in a carpetbagger. He beat Hillary because of the crooked caucuses and a media that decided it was time for a biracial President and this guy was the one to be it. And he will beat McCain because the stock market has imploded - reminding everybody just how corrupt and incompetent Bush's Republican Administration has been.

I've read that Obama, before he got in the race, had considered whether this was the right time to run - not, mind you, whether he had the experience to run or had plans he wanted to implement but whether he could win - and it is clear that he was right. It is unlikely that a man with his past could have won against a successful Republican Administration (think Reagan).

Obama is President - Don't Need the Polls to Know

Well, if there had been any doubt about this election, close as the polls have been, it is over. The economic crisis has driven the last nail in the McCain/Palin coffin.

How did I reach this conclusion? Not from the polls. I've been reading the WSJ and watching Fox for the last week. Neither the paper nor the Republican news channel has shown any enthusiasm for the ticket and when forced to defend it do so with an air of "well, we have to at least go through the motions".

This was eminently clear after the VP debate when I watched Rove, Barnes, Krauthammer, etc. (a bunch of guys who look almost as old as McCain) trying to whip up some enthusiasm. These guys know politics and they know the race is over.

This doesn't thrill me. I think Obama is just about the least qualified and one of the least deserving people ever to run for the Presidency. He has no experience, no principles, nothing he wants to accomplish other than getting the job - which pretty much sums up his whole career. I suspect that Biden will do all the hard work. And, to make matters worse, his supporters, including the media, believe in him as if he were the Messiah. We can expect no public oversight or criticism. He can change his positions every day, as he has, and his defenders will defend him.

I console myself with the thought that Hillary will not be held responsible for his loss or for fixing the mess Bush is handing over to Obama.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Best Reason not to support Obama: His Supporters

Bill and Hillary give some of the best speeches of their lives in support of Obama, but is that enough? No. His supporters in the media (print and video) and the so-called liberal blogosphere continue to snipe. They weren't sincere enough, they didn't praise him enough, they're not working hard enough for him.

In Iowa, Obama showed himself to be an ungracious winner. In New Hampshire, he showed himself to be a poor loser. Like leader, like follower.

The Obamanuts are a bunch of puerile, whining, disgusting, racist misogynists who have been running a negative campaign all year and just can't stop. There's nothing new or hopeful about these people. They are the Democrat version of Karl Rove's minions.

And I don't think I want this country to be run by them.

Palin makes Hillary a Double-Edged Sword for Obama

I must admit that I had been hoping McCain would have the courage to choose a woman as his running mate, but I truly did not expect it. Although I would have preferred Christine Todd Wittman who, on all levels, is more qualified than Palin, I think it is, nonetheless, a coup for the Repugs. And the timing was a lot better than that 3AM text page of Obama's (a juvenile, sophomoric insulting trick): it takes some of the wind out of the earth shattering nature of Obama's nomination.

Obama's supporters have long been complaining that Hillary and Bill aren't working hard enough for him and if he loses, Hillary will be responsible (Obama, of course, bears absolutely no responsibility for his success or failure). But with the nomination of Palin (not a woman whose policies I support), Hillary becomes even more problematic for Obama. She is a superb campaigner and incredibly policy-smart. No matter how often she mentions Obama in a speech, her supporters (the ones who are, at best, lukewarm on Obama) can't help but be struck by the contrast in skills and intelligence with Palin whom Hillary outshines by a light-year. And what will they see? That Obama lacked the courage to do what McCain did: pick not only a woman, but a supremely qualified woman, the woman who got more votes than he did and, if one subtracted Cook County from the equation, would have had the nomination.

In addition, Obama's people can't criticize Palin for a lack of experience without bringing into the strong light of day just how little experience Obama has. If we're going to have a lightweight in the White House, I suspect most of us would prefer it to be the Veep, not the Pres.

Finally, if Obama loses in November, this should give Hillary a lock on the 2012 nomination.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why the Super Delegates Have Little Choice But Obama

Kristen Breitweiser (posted on Taylor Marsh:You Broke It You Own It ) asks how the Super Delegates will justify nominating Obama and losing the GE.

Here's why I think they must (in their minds) nominate Obama and how they will justify a Nov. loss.

Nominate Obama
1. Massive media support. The TV networks & major news magazines have already declared Obama to be the winner. It doesn't matter whether they are right at this time (they are NOT), they have created a perception that he is the Democratic nominee. So if the SDs vote for Hillary, they will be roundly and loudly and widely criticized for stealing the nomination from Obama. They will also be accused of being racists. The details (delegates, Florida and Michigan, etc., etc.) will not matter.

2. They can point to a lead in pledged delegates (even if that means excluding Florida and Michigan, because of the Rulz) and, possibly, in votes (although we won't know that for sure for a couple of more weeks.)

3. Obama has already given 2-3x as much to SDs for their election campaigns as Hillary has. I have no doubt that he is waving dollar bills under the noses of the remaining udecided SDs.

3. Most of Hillary's supporters will vote for Obama.

4. So Obama loses the GE. How do the SDs defend themselves? They will blame Hillary for staying in the race so long that Obama didn't have the time to campaign against McCain. They will also claim that Americans as a whole are more racist than Democrats and those racists were the margin of victory. This may work if the election is close. It will, of course, fall flat if McCain wins big. They will also point out that there is no proof that Hillary could have done better.

Nominate Hillary
5. Same as #1 above. SDs are human, too. The media backlash for voting against Obama will be vicious.

6. They would have to include Florida & Michigan in spite of the Rulz. Florida can be easily justified. Michigan cannot, even if Obama chose not to put his name on the ballot. Then they would have to say that votes (assuming Hillary gets the most votes) count more than delegates even though it has always been the delegate count that has mattered (that this is probably because there's never been such a close nominating race under the current rules is irrelevant.)

7. The Democratic Party will lose almost all the African American votes, and possibly destroy that base for the future.

8. If Hillary wins, the media will say that Obama could have won, too and should have been the nominee. If she loses, the media and Obama's supporters will claim that he could have won and if the SDs had followed the lead of the Party (delegates, states, caucuses, etc.), a Democrat would be President.

If the nominee wins and that nominee is Hillary, there will still be considerable dissent in the Party on the part of the Obama supporters. The media will criticize every little thing that Hillary does for 4 years, or more.

If the nominee is Obama, there will be vast media support for his Presidency and, possibly, an extended honeymoon ala Bush 43's. Disgruntled Hillary supporters will disappear from view (not to be unexpected since her supporters have been ignored by the media for months).

If the nominee loses and that nominee is Hillary, they will face the wrath of the media and Obama supporters (which we have already seen can be massive).

If the nominee loses and that nominee is Obama, they will blame Hillary and racist Americans. The media will support them.

Each SD will be weighing the consequences of a vote in terms of his or her own electability. They perceive that a vote for Obama, even if he loses in the GE, will be more advantageous (or less disadvantageous) than a vote for Hillary.

In short, the cost of being wrong about Obama is lower than the cost of being wrong about Hillary.

(see also Obama: Super Delegates and Affirmative Action)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The NARAL Endorsement - 3 Theories

To quote the Illinois Chapter of Illinois chapter of NOW:

As a State Senator, Barack Obama voted ‘present’ on seven abortion bills, including a ban on 'partial birth abortion,' two parental notification laws and three 'born alive' bills. In each case, the right vote was clear, but Senator Obama chose political cover over standing and fighting for his convictions. When we needed someone to take a stand, Senator Obama took a pass. He wasn’t there for us then and we don’t expect him to be now.

So why did the National NARAL endorse Obama? I have 3 theories.

1. He offered to funnel a large amount of money to NARAL.

2. He offered a "seat at the table" in his administration: i.e., one or more high-paid jobs.

3. NARAL realized that with a Democratic President in the White House and a Democratic Congress, thus ensuring protection of the right to choose, NARAL's funding and membership would dry up. With a Republican in the White House, Mr. McCain, NARAL would still be needed. So, by endorsing Obama they hope to add to the bandwagon effect, to ensure that a candidate who cannot beat McCain in the GE will get the Democratic nomination - and NARAL will continue to exist.

Too Machiavellian? No. Self-preservation is a primal force for organizations as well as human beings. So NARAL's self-preservation is more important than the rights of women? Well, I'm sure they convinced themselves that with a Democratic Congress, womens' rights would still be preserved - but with an anti-choice Republican President, there would be just enough uncertainty to keep the money and memberships flowing in.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

After Pennsylvania - The Math - Plus Ça Change....

Well, the day after and nothing has changed. Obama's supporters and the media say that Hillary's win doesn't matter. She didn't pick up that many delegates and will lose them in North Carolina - which has many more delegates than Indiana and is owned by Obama. (38% of the registered Democrats are African American.) Hillary's forces don't deny that they will lose N.C. They just hope it will be a respectable loss.

Then, of course, there is "The Math". Some of the calculations, by supporters of both Hillary and Obama are wondrous in their complexity. After all, there is a lot to work with: Florida and Michigan - to count or not and if to count, how. Turning caucus votes into "real" votes. Even the pledged delegate votes have some wiggle room due to the multi-stage process of assigning them. Then there are the maps of electoral votes vs. primary & caucus wins. And so on and so on. The one constant amidst all of this complexity is that the method employed always ends up supporting the designer's preferred candidate. It is unlikely that any of them will impress a supporter of the opposite candidate, although the designers hope their models will influence the Super Delegates (SDs).

Will the SDs be impressed by these models? I doubt it. I've discussed my analysis of their decision making earlier, but will repeat and add a bit here.

The SDs want the Democrats to win in November. But they have a couple of perhaps insurmountable obstacles.

1. Supporters of one candidate who say they won't vote for the other candidate.
I think these percentages are overstated and represent the gulf that has opened up between the two camps in the past several months. I blame Obama's supporters for this gulf, but, then, I am a Hillary supporter. But, when the proverbial push comes to the proverbial shove, most will vote for the Democrat. There are, however, and unfortunately, a couple of exceptions.

Hillary's voters:
Certainly, some of Hillary's supporters will either sit on their hands next November or vote for McCain. I think this is most likely to happen in Florida if its votes are not counted in full, as voted. Who will switch from Hillary to McCain rather than to Obama? Most likely the older voters. They may not approve of many of McCain's ideas, but I suspect that given a choice between a man of their generation, a war hero and the guy (Obama) they think stole the nomination from Hillary by disenfranchising them, they will go for McCain and probably in large enough numbers (it doesn't take many in Florida) to swing the state to the Republicans.
Obama's voters:
Yes, some of the white elitists will sit on their hands, write in a name, or even vote for McCain. They have done this before (voting against their political interests) to disastrous effect going back to Nixon vs. Humphrey. But they are not the main problem the SDs must consider.

The main problem is the African American vote. It has gone 90% for Obama. Barring some major misstep on his part, it will take very little in the way of "math" to make an SD vote for Hillary appear to be racist. SDs are not dumb. They know this. For the Democratic Party to deprive an African American candidate of the nomination when even some, not to say most, of the numbers favor him will likely do to the Party a variation of what LBJ's Civil Rights movement did to the Party. LBJ knew he was turning over the South to the Republicans. The SDs may rightly believe that a majority of AAs will not vote for McCain. But they will also, rightly I think, assume that enough AAs will sit home to deprive Hillary of a win in November.

There are two ways to solve the Florida problem.
The first, of course, is to count Florida but not Michigan. (Michigan's voters might get just as mad, but most will admit that since Obama's name was not on the ballot, it wouldn't be fair to give the state to Hillary. True, it is Obama who refused to accept a revote, but relatively few of the Democratic voters, in my estimation, realize that.)

The second is for Hillary to drop out. And that is why there is such a clamor for her to do just that. There is simply no way to finesse the African American vote. Her voters will be disappointed if she drops out, but they will be furious if they think that Obama stole the nomination (by pressure on the SDs or some version of "The Math".)

Do I want Hillary to fight until the end? Yes. Do I think that Obama can win in November under any circumstance? No. Not because he is AA (think Colin Powell), but because he is so clearly unprepared for the job compared to McCain. However, I also think the odds are against Hillary's winning in November (the misogyny her campaign has exposed is greater than anything we could have anticipated.). Not so great that she couldn't pull out a victory, but it would be a victory that would leave an uncomfortably large segment of the Democratic Party unwilling to give her the support she would need as President.

I hope I am wrong, but I fear that we have backed ourselves into a corner from which there is no conceivable good way out.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Poor Obama. He's going to have to go negative now?

I suppose it was to be expected. Obama lost in Pennsylvania because of Hillary's negative attacks. So now, the poor guy, in spite of all of his better instincts, is going to have to go negative?

This is what? The 100th time we've heard this. When, exactly, has he not been negative? I seem to recall his starting out the campaign by saying she was too old. Well, OK, he didn't exactly say she was too old. He just said, my paraphrase, that she was stuck in the old, adversary politics of the 60s. And it's pretty much gone downhill from there.

But there is a bigger issue here: the definition of "negative". As applied to Hillary, it appears to mean any attack of any kind against Obama: experience, positions, relationships with questionable people, public statements. None of these are acceptable targets.

Once upon a time, "negative" meant untruthful, distorted, grossly unfair. Now, at least for Hillary, it means any attempt to draw a distinction between her qualifications and his.

Similarly, "attack" is now a completely negative word. What, pray tell, should one call an attempt to draw distinctions between oneself and one's opponent?

Is Obama a Coward?

Well, let's see.

1. He (or his many, many surrogates) have been asking Hillary to quit since, when? March? In spite of the fact that he has had, according to "everybody that matters" an insurmountable lead by all possible criteria. You would think that he would appreciate the opportunity to expand his lead, right? Well, no. Perhaps because he's been afraid that his lead would shrink rather than grow?

2. He nixed revotes in Florida and Michigan. Again, they offered him an opportunity to expand his lead. Hillary, who most definitely won Florida and arguably won Michigan, has supported revotes in both states even knowing that she would be risking losing them because, of course, Obama was unstoppable.

3. He cancelled the pre-primary debate in North Carolina. Could it be because he doesn't do very well in debates? And he was worse than usual in the Pennsylvania debate? (it doesn't matter whether the questions were proper or not. None of them should have been a surprise, and Jon Stewart's clips of Obama from that debate showed that he couldn't frame a decent answer to either the gotcha questions or some of the policy questions.)

So, yea, I'd say that Obama is a coward.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Another Reason for Hillary to Stay in the Race

While working on the prior post about why Obama's supporters want Hillary to quit, it occurred to me that there is a reason, other than hoping she will eventually get the nomination, that Hillary should stay in.

If Hillary stays in until the end, and the nomination gets decided by Super Delegates, either her supporters or Obama's will feel cheated. This is GOOD.

I know that is counter-intuitive, but only if one focuses solely on this election. If, however, one looks at the system from a longer-term perspective, this outcome should be beneficial if it leads to a revised and more rational primary system.

What should be the purpose of a primary system? To nominate the person who best represents the will of the Party's members. The current system does not accomplish this and is little better than the smoke-filled room.

The problems with the current primary system are well known.
1. Iowa and New Hampshire as gate-keepers
With the exception of the people who live in these two states, everybody realizes that their gate-keeper function is anti-democratic and damaging. Only candidates with relatively deep pockets can survive a loss in these two states especially because the media consider the outcomes to be definitive, in every sense of the word.

2. Caucuses vs. primaries
The sheer idiocy of having caucuses can be seen in Texas this year where it appears that Obama may win more delegates (due to the caucuses) than Hillary in spite of her trouncing him in the popular vote.

There is simply nothing democratic about a caucus. Turnout is low compared to that in a primary. Only people with spare time on their hands can attend. Peer pressure can easily overwhelm personal wishes when people must publicly state their preferences.

3. The primary season
Although primaries & caucuses are scheduled from Jan. - June, everybody seems to want and expect the nominee to be chosen by March. This is absurd. It means that both parties have set things up so that many, if not most, of the states have no say at all in who becomes the nominee because they vote too late. This is the reason so many states, including Florida and Michigan, moved their primaries up this year.

It is unfair in the extreme to create a system that disenfranchises many, if not most, of a Party's members.

All of these problems have been apparent for years, but nobody does anything to fix them. The Party bigwigs seem content to have a few states determine the nominee - no matter how badly the nominee may fare in the general election.

But if this year's Democratic nominee is chosen by Super Delegates, there will be enormous pressure on the DNC to finally fix the system. (Anglachel has a proposal worth serious attention by the DNC. )

I know that many will argue that I am right, but this is the wrong time. Winning the GE is too important this year. Unfortunately, it is precisely because this election is so important to Democrats (and, really, be honest, what election in the history of the country has not been important?) that we must ride it out to the end.

The DNC must change the system and the only way to make them change the system is to have a nominee (be it Hillary or Obama) who is not viewed as the legitimate winner by a large number of Democrats. If Hillary quits, this won't happen. If she stays in, it's pretty much inevitable.

The Real Reason They Want Her To Quit

After reading yet another hyperbolic demand that Hillary withdraw from the race before she destroys Obama, The Democratic Party, the Unites States of America and Western Civilization, I decided to sit down and work through my interpretation of these calls (which can be summarized as "She Can't Win and He Will Be The Nominee No Matter What She Does So She Should Quit"):

Their Reasons (my interpretation)
1. It will destroy Obama.
I don't see how. They assure us that he is the nominee already in all but name.

2. It hurts Obama's chances against McCain because Obama can't campaign against McCain.
Well, if Obama is not free to campaign against McCain (because Obama is not yet the nominee), McCain by that same token is not free to campaign against Obama because, of course, Obama is not yet the nominee. So, no advantage to either side. There is, however, nothing about the current situation to prevent Obama from campaigning against McCain (or vice versa). He certainly has enough money.

3. Hillary's attacks will hurt Obama in the Fall.
If they haven't been damaging enough to keep him from being the presumptive nominee, why should they hurt him against McCain? And it is hard to believe that, at this stage, she could say anything that McCain doesn't already know or can't find out on his own. I vaguely remember a Republican by the name of George H. W. Bush deriding his opponent Reagan's economic plan as "voodoo economics" in 1980. Now, who won the Republican nomination and the election? Hmmm, let me think, gee whiz, it was Reagan.

4. It is distracting Obama from his need to focus on McCain.
What's distracting? He is the presumptive nominee. Nothing she does can change that, so why are they worried? He knows this to be true, so he doesn't have to spend any of his valuable time on Hillary. He can focus on McCain if that is what he should do.

The REAL reason: Fear of Losing
All of the above reasons and their variations are rationalizations and, deep down, their supporters know this. You see: Obama has only two ways to win (unless Hillary really blows it in the remaining primaries): Hillary can drop out or he can get more Super Delegates than she can. And that is the problem. If Hillary does not drop out and if, this is key, she beats him soundly in most of the remaining primaries, his claim to the nomination will be weakened.

For the DNC:
If Hillary does not drop out, and Obama can't reach the magic number of delegates, the DNC has two problems it must face:
1. Florida and Michigan
2. Super Delegates choosing the nominee.
The DNC, of course, does not want to deal with either.

For Obama and his supporters:
Consider a worst-case scenario: Hillary wins most of the remaining primaries & soundly trounces him. Perhaps she comes out slightly ahead in the popular vote while significantly narrowing his lead in pledged delegates. NOTE: I am not predicting this will happen or even that it is likely. I'm simply posing a worst-case scenario for Obama as an explanation for the demand that Hillary withdraw.

Obama will then have to convince the Super Delegates that his wins mean more than Hillary's wins. There are lots of ways to do this. The one Obama's supporters use most often (in addition to pledged delegates & the popular vote) is that he has won more states. Hillary's supporters argue that she has won more of the larger & more important states.

On The Hillary 1000 (Mar. 8, 2008), Donna Darko argues that, based on turnout, results in caucus states should mean less than results in primary states.

Related to this argument by Darko are the arguments that winning a majority of the states that held primaries is more indicative of potential success in the Fall than winning a majority of the states that held caucuses.

The New Editor pointed out that (prior to the Pennsylvania primary) most of Obama's popular vote margin can be attributed to Cook County in Illinois.

Sean Wilentz points out that the results would be different if the Democratic Party used a winner-take-all system instead of the current system.

The Reclusive Leftist has maps comparing Obama's wins to electoral results in 1996 (the last time Democrats won the WH).

I am not suggesting that the Democratic Party change the rules ex post facto. I am simply arguing that, under the above stated circumstances, the Super Delegates who have not yet committed themselves will need some criteria other than the primary results to determine which candidate to support, and that looking at the results of the primary season in different ways may be one method they will use.

Obama and his supporters do not want to be in this position in June. The only ways they can avoid this scenario are for Hillary to fail miserably between now and June or for her to drop out.

The real reason they want her to quit? In one word: FEAR.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Obama's Grandmother

Yes, the story is old, and yes, the MSM and Obamasphere have declared that he did not throw his grandmother under the bus, but Uppity's April 8, 2008 post reminded me that I've not forgotten what he said and that, contrary to his many apologists, it bothers me more every time I hear it.

If this had been an off-the-cuff remark during a conversation about racism with friends or colleagues, I could excuse it. We all draw from past experiences and, quite often, exaggerate or massage the facts to bolster the position we are taking.

But the speech in which Obama outed his white grandmother as an unconscious bigot has been widely touted as the most important and brilliant speech in modern political history. We are told that Obama wrote it all himself, spent hours writing it, even stayed up all night. So we must assume that he chose this anecdote (a bit revised from the story in his sort of, semi-accurate memoir) with care.

To make the point that he could not abandon his preacher, he chose to tarnish the image of the woman who raised him. Later, in justifying or explaining the anecdote, he described her as a "typical white woman".

He had to have known that the speech and his comments would be widely broadcast and discussed. He should have known, or guessed, that it might be used by Republicans in ads against him. But he, nevertheless, chose to use his grandmother to help him out from under the political mess he had gotten himself into.

It seems to me to be fair to ask if this is how a grandson expresses his affection, gratitutde, or love for his grandmother? What kind of person would tell this story, true or not, in the most public of forums about his grandmother? What kind of grandson would explain away his grandmother as a "typical white woman"? I'm not a psychologist but I can't help but feel that maybe Obama doesn't exactly love his grandmother, that maybe he knew it would hurt her to be used this way and that's exactly what he wanted to happen.

At the very least, it suggests an enormous distance between him and his grandmother, and a lack of compunction about using her faults to enhance his reputation.

I know I'm not expressing this very well. All I know is that each time something causes me to remember his statements about his grandmother, I sense deep inside me that something is very, very wrong.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Obama, Super Delegates and Affirmative Action*

I've thought a long time about whether or not to post this. I am a Hillary supporter. I do not believe that I am a racist. But I could be deluding myself.

Nevertheless, here goes.

The uncommitted Super Delegates have a real problem that is not being addressed amidst all the arguments about pledged delegates, caucuses, primaries, Florida, Michigan, etc. It is very simple. They will decide who the Democratic nominee will be. Their votes will be public. If Hillary wins because of Super Delegate votes, there will be an unholy chorus of objections from the MSM and the liberal blogosphere. The Supers will inevitably be accused of being racists and/or being bought off or threatened by the Clintons (although Obama's contributions to the campaigns of Supers far exceed that of Hillary Clinton). Hillary's campaign against McCain would be blighted.

But what if the Supers vote for Obama? Will they be accused of having being bought off? Of being sexist or misogynists? No. Hillary's supporters will be furious, but we lack the media megaphone that Obama has. Our objections will be treated as a footnote, as irrelvant. We will be patted on the head and told to "get over it". Obama's campaign will not be dogged by charges of illegitimacy because he owns the MSM and the A-List blogosphere.

So, it won't come down to whether the Supers believe Obama has a better chance of beating McCain than Hillary. Some of them may vote for him believing in their hearts that he will lose but concluding that losing the GE will be less painful than being individually targeted as racists. (Can you imagine the pressure if, in the worst of all possible worlds, it comes down to the vote of a single Super Delegate?)

Perhaps this is the elephant in the closet, the reason so many pundits are so sure that Obama will be the Democratic nominee. They know the Democratic leadership (Obama, Pelosi, Brazile, etc.) have made this calculation, too. They have two choices: nominate a woman and be accused of racism, and quite possibly lose the African American vote. Or nominate Obama and pray that he can beat McCain. Losing would hurt, but they would not bear the responsiblity.

I'm pretty sure Obama has made this calculation, too. In short, Barack Obama may turn out to be our first Affirmative Action Democratic candidate for President - and, possibly, our first Affirmative Action President.

*UPDATE: I'm using the Conservative definition here: hiring an unqualified or under-qualified person solely because of that person's gender, ethnicity, race or religion.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Who does the DNC represent?

I'm really confused about these primaries which started in January and are scheduled to end in June.

Howard Dean and Donna Brazile and Nancy Pelosi and the media and the Kossacks & family all insist that the campaign has to stop today for the good of the party.

Now, let's take the media first. They wanted it to be over after the Iowa caucuses. Why? What were they planning to talk about for the 8 months until the conventon? As I've posted before, the networks have practically stopped covering the conventions because they are just free advertising for the parties. This year, a convention might be worth paying attention to. But the media aren't interested. Weird.

But back to the DNC. So they made some rules about when primaries could be held, and the primary purpose of the rules, as far as I can tell, was to keep Iowa and New Hampshire at the head of the pack. Florida and Michigan, primarily because of Republicans, moved their primaries up in defiance of "The Rules".

Ignoring the question about the rules and credentials, etc., what Florida and Michigan were trying to do was to be relevant because, as current DNC commentary goes, the states at the back end of the primary schedule are not supposed to count.

Democrats across the country (and Republicans, too, if McCain had not emerged as the leader) are thus in a no-win situation. If they move their primary dates up front, their votes won't be counted because of "The Rules". If they leave them at the back of the schedule, their votes won't count either: because the nominee will have already been chosen (McCain) or because the Party wants the winner to be selected before the primary season is halfway finished.

This is a classic Catch-22 of course. So it makes me wonder just whom the DNC represents, because it doesn't seem to represent or much care about the preferences of ordinary voting Democrats. Why then even bother with an expensive primary season? The DNC should simply get together in January of the election year and choose the candidate, just like back in those old smoke-filled room days. It is cruel and unusual punishment to, with one hand, give Democrats across the country the right to vote for the candidate of their choice and, with the other hand, take it away because it is divisive.

One last thought: if it were Obama vs. Edwards, would there be all this yak about how Edwards should get out for the good of the Party?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Obama's Whiners: Neglecting the Obvious

Amidst all the hand-wringing by Obama's supporters about Hillary's staying in the campaign and hurting the Democratic Party, one sometimes forgets to notice the obvious.

With 10 states left to vote, Obama has the chance to increase his lead in both delegates and votes and, thus, make his claim to the nomination even stronger.

In short, this is a major opportunity for Obama to clinch the nomination. So why all the storm und drang?

The answer's kind of obvious, isn't it?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Insidious Nature of Misogyny and Sexism

The The Wall Street Journal's Mar. 29, 2008 Page One has an article on the reaction of women to Hillary's campaign that is reasonably fair and accurate but also disturbing, because some of the men and women interviewed have bought into sexism and misogyny without even realizing it.

Listen to Professor McCollester:
"Charles McCollester, a professor of industrial relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania who works with union members, says he is ready for a woman president, "just not this woman." He supports Sen. Obama. "Several of my really close female friends feel this is unleashing some kind of antiwoman sentiment. But I don't see it. We love women. I just never cared much for Hillary. She has set out to become as male as all the rest of the boys."

Look at his justification: "We love women. I just never cared much for Hillary. She has set out to become as male as all the rest of the boys". Can one imagine anything similar being said about a man? What does it mean to "set out to become as male"? And if being a man is good, why is this bad? If this isn't sexist, if this isn't misogynist, than what is?

So, OK, McCollester, is a man. What about Amanda Moniz, a PH.D. candidate?
"It isn't easy being a woman in academia," says Amanda Moniz, a 36-year-old Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Michigan. "I want a woman candidate who is strong, but also feminine, and who doesn't feel she has to be tougher than men to succeed," she says.
"Although Hillary has achieved a lot on her own, she wouldn't be where she was if not for her husband -- and that isn't an inspiring lesson."

First, of course, she echoes McCollester's sentiment: "... a woman candidate who is strong, but also feminine, and who doesn't feel she has to be tougher than men to succeed." What on earth does she mean? What is Hillary supposed to do? Speak softy? Wear flowery dresses? Cry? (Oh, no, she can't do that. Only men are allowed to cry in public these days - which I suppose is one kind of progress.)

And I wonder how many people who voted for Bush 43 worried about the fact that he wouldn't have gotten where he is if not for his father? The U.S. political system has from day one had political "families". Check the Wikipedia if you want to see how prevalent this is. What about family businesses? Since when have we insisted that only self-made individuals can make a name for themselves in the arts (the Fondas, Redgraves) business or government?

Then there's Alexa Steinberg:
Alexa Steinberg, 25, a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire, says she recognizes "that women only make 78 cents for every male dollar, and there are still hurdles for women that I'll face." She says she thinks it's only a matter of time before she'll be supporting a female candidate for U.S. president -- but it won't be Sen. Clinton. "Politically and personally, she's trying to take on the male persona, and isn't a woman in the way I want a woman candidate to be," she says.

Ms. Steinberg, who supports Sen. Obama, says she's far more drawn to Michele Obama as a role model. "Michele has a career and even earns more than Barack, and she can knock him for not picking up his socks or doing the laundry," she explains. "But she has a sense of humor, too. She has a blend of many things, a balance that I can see and appreciate."

Do you see a pattern here? It's McCollester again. "Politically and personally, she's trying to take on the male persona, and isn't a woman in the way I want a woman candidate to be". Does Steinberg think that Obama is trying to be too Black, or too White, or too multicultural? No. What does it mean to take on the "male persona"? Competence? Strength? A willingness to defend herself? I have no idea. These characterizations go back to the days of suffragettes and the ERA. Women who opposed getting the vote or an Equal Rights Amendment used similar arguments against the Suffragettes. These women absorb male prejudices and don't even realize they are doing it.

Ms. Steinberg also, of course, doesn't seem to know much about Hillary - who has been a lawyer all her life, was the chief breadwinner while Bill was running for office and Governor of Arkansas, who has been a mother and raised a daughter to be proud of, who has demonstrated a fine sense of humor on the campaign trail. I don't know if she has ever complained about Bill's laundry habits in public, but good heavens, what kind of criterion is that for the Presidency.

Experience vs. Judgment: The First McCain-Obama Debate

My latest nightmare, the first debate between McCain and Obama:

Obama will bring out that old line he's used against Hillary that judgment outweighs experience when the latter's result is Iraq.

McCain, with a twinkle in his eye and that half-smile, will look at the audience and say "He made one statement about the Iraq war being dumb back in 2004 and thinks that qualifies him to be President. What is the younger generation coming to?"

That exchange will be run repeatedly by all the news networks that have been praising Obama as the Next Coming and, all of a sudden, all those pundits will say "gee, you know, McCain is right".

I realize that many Obama supporters assume that Americans, who now overwhelmingly oppose the war in Iraq, will not support a man, McCain, who endorses the war. What they do not realize is that Americans do still see the world as a dangerous place and, when push comes to shove, they will prefer a "straight-talking" President with lots of experience to an arrogant young man in a very big hurry.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Why does Pelosi support Obama?

No, I don't know Pelosi and I've never heard her directly endorse Obama, but anybody who has been following this campaign understands what she means when she makes a comment about the primaries.

I have been trying to understand Obama's enduring appeal. I can see being infatuated with him: the rhetorical skill, those high-flown sentiments. But the more one looks into his past, the less one finds. This is a man who got his legislative seat by using rules, yes "rules", to disqualify his opponents. The bills he passed in his last year in the Illinois legislature? Handed to him on a silver platter by Emil Jones. His election to the U.S. Senate? The Republican opponent had to bow out due to a sex scandal & was replaced by an out-of-stater. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Democrats could have run and won with anybody who was breathing.

He does not appear to have any deep-seated convictions. A review of his career in the Illinois legislature & the U.S. Senate suggests a man who doesn't want to make anybody angry or require him to defend himself. Remember, many of those "present" votes were not orchestrated by Democrats. They were his choice. And he seems to have ducked votes in the Senate that might negatively impact his run for President.

As far as I can tell, he fulfills an unknown (to me) need on the part of Democrats for their own Ronald Reagan: you know, a guy who holds a few global principles, can deliver a good speech, but doesn't want to be bothered by the details.

How does this explain Pelosi's support and, I suspect, Harry Reid's as well? Simple. As a Bay Area resident, I hate to say this but Pelosi has proven herself to be a singularly ineffective Speaker. And Reid might as well be Minority Leader for all that he has accomplished, although he, at least, has the excuse of a 1-vote majority (Lieberman- who no doubt uses his position as an Independent to exert pressure).

The guiding principles of Pelosi and Reid seem to be:
1. Don't make waves.
2. Don't embarrass anybody, Republican or Democrat or the President, by making them go on the record by voting "no" or issuing a veto. Reid counts noses and if he can't get 60 votes (to avoid a fillibuster) or 2/3 to override a veto, he doesn't even bother to put legislation to a vote. After all, why make Republicans angry by actually forcing them to go through the discomfort of a fillibuster? Pelosi seems to rely on a similar strategy.

Their governing philosophy has much in common with Obama's "unity" trope - and his "present" votes. "Let's just all get along." I think Pelosi and Reid see in Obama a President who won't get in their way, a President who will set forth some Reagan-like exhortations and let them go about their business.

But they know that a President Hillary will demand results. She cares about the big picture, but she knows the details matter. She will make demands upon Pelosi and Reid; she will expect them to do everything possible to pass her agenda.

I rather suspect, therefore, that Pelosi and Reid don't really care whether or not Obama becomes President as long as Democrats retain control of the Congress. After all, with McCain in the White House, they can continue to blame their incompetence on a Republican President.

Fire Howard Dean

Does anybody think Howard Dean is doing a good job, or even simply doing his job, as Chairman of the Democratic Party?

He, more than anybody, is responsible for the Florida/Michigan mess. The "rules" were his. It was he who decided that both candidates had to agree to any solution. Obama, of course, can't risk revotes that he might lose by even bigger margins. (I can't help but wonder just what Obama has promised Dean for his support.)

Just as bad, it appears that he isn't even very good at raising money. All year long, I've read articles about Democrats being far ahead of Republicans in the money-raising stakes. But it turns out that the DNC doesn't even have enough money to help pay for revotes in Florida and Michigan.

Can anybody think of anything positive this man does? Is there some way we can recall him and replace him with somebody who knows how to lead?

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Democratic Convention: What's Wrong with Fireworks?

Why does everybody want the Democratic nominee to be selected before the Democratic Convention. (The latest word is that Howard Dean wants the Super Delegates to decide by July 1, 2008.)

Perhaps somebody should talk to Dean about TV coverage. During the last several elections, TV news operations have significantly reduced their coverage of the conventions because nothing happens. They're just big ads for the parties.

But can you imagine what the networks would do if we still don't know the nominee going into the convention? If it's going to be a real, old-fashioned affair? There will be dawn to dusk coverage by all the networks. Tons of free advertising for the Democratic Party - while the Republican convention will get maybe an hour/day.

The DNC is simply dumb, dumb, dumb. But we knew that already, didn't we?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Are They Pro-Obama or Anti-Hillary?

I don't have the bandwith, time or technical skills to test this hypothesis, but the impression I get from TV, magazine, and "liberal" blogs that are for Obama is that the ratio of anti-Hillary rants to pro-Obama posts/opinions/reports/puff pieces is about 10-to-1.

If's as if all the pro-Obama political coverage is actually nothing more than an extension of Just Hillary - whose owner at least openly admits to being obsessed with Hillary.

Why Do They Want Her to Quit? No, It's not "The Math"

Why do all off Obama's supporters want her to quit? They say she can't win, that Obama has it in the bag. So, why do they care? The primaries will go on whether or not Hillary is in the race, so the states to come won't save money. Do they want to save Hillary's supporters from wasting their money in campaign contributions? Unlikely. Are they trying to save Hillary the ignominy of defeat? (Is it less painful to resign than to lose?)

Or could it be that they are afraid Hillary will win most of the remaining primaries and head into the convention on a roll?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Amazing Clinton

My admiration of Hillary Clinton has grown enormously during this campaign. She has demonstrated courage, class, unbelievable energy, and an unsurpassed grasp of the issues.

JoAnne Tybinka Blasko at The Democratic Daily has noticed it, too.

One of the many differences I've noticed between Obama and Clinton is that he is great at giving speeches from a teleprompter* but is a lot less fluent when being questioned (even by Larry King) and in the debates. I've suspected this is because Hillary really knows her stuff. Obama, like Bush 43 and Reagan, doesn't really know his stuff. He's just a superb a performer.

bostonboomer at The Confluence says it better.

* this was first evident when he lost in New Hampshire. Besides showing himself to be a poor loser, he gave a perfunctory congratulation statement and then launched in to the victory speech he had prepared. He was, to be blunt, completely unable to recast his speech to reflect reality.

Anglachel does it again with her post about Clinton's response to the market meltdown. I do not know how the MSM, let alone the so-called liberal blogosphere can be blind to the understanding and competence and simple level-headedness that Hillary demonstrates time and again. It's as if they find competence not just irrelevant but ridiculous and useless.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Open Letter to the DNC


I have drafted this letter in the hope that others will use it as a starting point for their own letters to the DNC and other major Democratic Party leaders (like Nancy Pelosi). This is a case where I think snail mail may be more effective than email.

Mr. Howard Dean
Democratic National Committee
430 S. Capitol St., SE
Wasington, DC 20003

Dear Mr. Dean:
I am writing to insist that the votes in Florida and Michigan count. The fate of the election, and of the country, most probably will depend on the outcome of the DNC's decision.

Michigan and Florida
I can think of no valid reason, other than "The Rules" for not seating Florida. Both candidates had a presence during the primary (Obama's national TV ads ran repeatedly). The campaign had national coverage. Yet the DNC seems to believe that it can exclude Florida's voters without harm. Has it forgotten 2000? Is it willing to do to its own Party what George Bush and the Republicans did to it in 2000? To, in effect, admit that what Bush did in 2000 was OK?

Moreover, the Democrats had no choice about the primary's date. So if the DNC penalizes the Party's voters, it is essentially letting the Republican Party determine whom the Democratic candidate should be.

Michigan is trickier because Obama's name was not on the ballot - even though that was his choice. But the DNC could assign the uncommitted votes, as well as those for the other Democrats on the ticket, to him with reasonable certainty that the distribution more or less reflected the will of the voters.

Obama's objections no longer deserve to be considered. Hillary was willing to accept a re-vote, with all the risk that implies. James Carville had pledged to raise half the money needed to stage the re-vote if Obama (who has a huge campaign war chest) would match the money. It was Obama who refused to go along. By my calculation, his refusal to agree to a solution accepted by his opponent abrogates his right to complain about the seating of Michigan's delegates.

The Rules
It is pretty obvious that, had the DNC known going in how close the race would be, it would have handled this situation differently.

More important for the long term is the fact that the DNC should not have continued to let Iowa and New Hampshire set the terms and dynamics of the primary season. It is well past due for a major overhaul of the system to prevent those two small states from, election after election, winnowing down the field before 99% of the Party gets a chance to vote. If there are any states to be penalized in the future, it is those two. It is absolutely vital that a rotating system of primaries be set up such that no single state will ever again be viewed as a gatekeeper to the nomination because there will simply be insufficient history for the media to seize on past history to predict current results.

If, however, the DNC insists that "The Rules" are "The Rules", then, to be consistent, the DNC must also permit Super Delegates to vote for whom they want, regardless of the results in their districts or states because those, too, are "The Rules". (And if Super Delegates Kerry and Kennedy and Richardson can publicly back Obama, in spite of the fact that their states voted for Hillary, then I simply do not see how the DNC can demand that other Super Delegates follow the votes rather than their own judgment.)

The Party is split pretty much 50/50 between Hillary and Obama. If Hillary is perceived to have lost because the DNC did not count or only partly counted the votes from Florida and Michigan, her supporters will not consider Obama's nomination to be legitimate. The DNC may feel confident that the vast majority of Hillary's supporters will back Obama. Hillary has certainly pledged that she will. And I, too, will vote for him. But I won't, under those circumstances, contribute either time or money to the campaign. Nor will I feel compelled to defend him against attacks during either his campaign or, if he is elected, his term in office.

Worse, however, is the fact that some of Hillary's supporters will not vote for Obama under those circumstances. May I remind you that Gore lost Florida by about 1000 votes? Ask yourself one very simple question: How will you feel on Nov. 11, 2008 if the Democrats lose the White House again because of 1000 votes in Florida? Will you assert that playing by "The Rules" was more important than winning the election? I am not stating here that the Democrats will win if Hillary is the nominee. McCain will be a much stronger opponent than, for example, either Giuliani or Romney would have been. The Democratic nominee will need every possible vote to win this election. That's why the DNC cannot afford to alienate Democrats in two large states.

A Dream Destroyed
Democrats began the campaign season on a high. We had many good candidates to choose from. For various reaons, including, I am sorry to say, the behavior of some Party leaders, it has turned ugly.

No matter who wins the nomination, or how the nomination is won, many Democrats may feel cheated. But it is the DNC which has created the environment (a bizarre collection of primaries and caucuses and byzantine delegate rules and penalties) in which such hatred has taken root.

I can assure you that, as a Hillary supporter and a person who strongly believes that she is much better equipped to fight McCain than Obama, I do not consider her exit from the campaign to be the solution to this dilemma, however much some may want her to drop out.

There may be no fix which will appease everybody, but it is time to put away partisanship and pride in "The Rules" and at least try to engineer a fix - or McCain will be inaugurated next January and all the Democratic Party will have left for comfort is "The Rules".

Why do they all want Hillary to quit?

Why do all of Obama's supporters want her to quit? If she has the energy and courage to go on, if people like me are willing to contribute (however little it may be) to her campaign, and if people like Democrats in Pennsylvania seem to want her to go on, and some poll I read about said that a majority of Democrats want her to fight on, well, why shouldn't she?

Unless, just maybe, "The Math" isn't really "The Math" and Obama's supporters aren't quite as sure as they pretend to be that he's got the nomination in the bag?

What's even weirder, of course, is why all the pundits and so-called journalists want her to quit. What would they talk about for the next several months? How will they fill the air time if there is no Hillary to trash?

One would think that the TV networks, at least, would want the campaign to go on as long as possible, would want a brokered convention. Think about TV coverage of the conventions. It's shrunk considerably during the past several rounds because there was no drama and the networks got tired of trying to invent drama. Well, barring something truly weird happening, it looks as if the Democratic Convention may be a real, old-fashioned nail-biting thriller. Journalists should be falling all over themselves to ensure that Hillary goes the distance.

I am truly baffled.

The Experience Argument - I'm Confused

One of the constant tropes of Obama's campaign against Hillary is that she has no experience other than being First Lady. Nothing she has done in her entire working life, including her 7 years as a Senator, counts as experience.

But, and this is what gets me, if Democrats are supposed to vote against Hillary because she is unprepared and inexperienced, how on earth do Obama's supporters argue that he has the experience? Work as a community organizer? An undistinguished career in the Illinois legislature (at least until there was a Democratic majority) with some 100 "present" votes (not all of which were part of an organized Democratic strategy), and 2 years in the Senate, after one year of which he started running for President?

The Obama supporters say he has judgment. He was against the war in Iraq. As has been pointed out many times by many people, he made an anti-war statement as an unimportant legislator in a liberal district but never did anything to oppose the war other than make that one statement (as far as I can tell). And he has recently indicated that his financial dealings with Rezko were "bone-headed". So, he doesn't have perfect judgment either.

What are we to make of this? Should we start touting up examples of judgment on both sides to see how often Hillary and Obama have been right, or wrong?

But getting back to the experience issue. I just don't get how Obama and his supporters can argue with a straight face that Obama is the better candidate because Hillary hasn't got the experience.

Isn't the logical conclusion that if experience doesn't matter, then it doesn't matter if Hillary has experience or not?

So why does this particular argument against Hillary and for Obama continue to have legs, to be repeated - in one way or another - day after day after day?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hillary's Critics - Second Bite of the Apple?

The breadth and depth and sheer viciousness of the media's attacks on Hillary have bewildered me. Nixon, in comparison, was treated with kid gloves. Bush 43, a man who has turned the Constitution into a worthless piece of paper, beggared the country, destroyed America's reputation abroad, and been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, is treated like a nice but not-too-smart puppy.

But today, for some reason, the phrase "second bite of the apple" bubbled up in my brain, and it occurred to me that the media have never forgiven Bill Clinton for surviving their endless attacks on him during his Presidency. He should have resigned, like Nixon, but he didn't. Worse, his popularity was barely affected.

Hillary's campaign has given the media a chance to prove that during the 90s they weren't simply trained rats in a drama arranged by right-wing fanatics like Scaife, that the Clintons really are every bit as evil as the media said they were. And also, perhaps, it is a way for them to prove to themselves, after their sorry performance these past 7 years as watchdogs (who slept while the house was destroyed), that they still matter, that they are still journalists. Somehow, in their twisted psyches, bringing down Hillary will restore their journalistic manhood.

When the history of this campaign is written, the miracle won't be Obama's ascendence. The miracle will be Hillary's ability to corner half the votes in the face of an unprecedented negative press (TV, print, and web).


1. I am a Hillary supporter.
2. I think it is pretty obvious now that Obama lied when he said he had not heard any inflammatory sermons.
3. The sermons will give the Republican Party plenty of ammo in the GE.
4. Since I don't have broadband, I've not seen any videos. I assume, however, that the partial transcripts I've read contain the most objectionable parts of those sermons.

That said, I am dismayed to see so many hard-core liberals, even those who adore Obama, professing such great indignation at the pastor's words. They are not new or unusual. Indeed, they can be traced back at least to the 60s: the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement - yes, those old battles that Hillary's generation fought and Obama has dismissed as outmoded. Liberals who condemn the pastor for the words and Obama for continuing to frequent the church, cannot then object when Conservatives condemn the liberals of the 60s who used those same words - or who may use them in the future.

I also believe, to some extent, Obama's explanations for not leaving the church, and I admire him for not denying the friendship - not that he had any choice.

However, I suspect there is another reason for his not leaving his church. Granted, I don't know either man and have absolutely no proof, but that doesn't stop Hillary critics from in-depth analyses of her motives, so I don't see why it should stop me. I think the reason the pastor's words haven't bothered Obama is because Obama, a superb performer himself, knows that the pastor's sermons are pure performance art. The man may or may not believe what he is saying - I rather suspect he is something of an Elmer Gantry - but he is obviously playing to the audience he wants to acquire and maintain. In short, the pastor is a bit of a fraud and Obama knows it.

Obama's speech on race was wonderfully crafted. He managed to subtly accuse Hillary's side for the injection of race into the primaries, reduce the issue of the sermons to a minor scene in a greater picture, and also, a little less subtly, suggest that electing him President would be the first step in a healing of the nation's racial divides. Nevertheless, he deserves most of the credit he is getting for the way he chose to address the issue.

Monday, March 17, 2008

New Justification for a Progressive Income Tax

I agree with very little of what Yglesias writes, but he makes a good, and interesting, point here about why we should tax the rich more:
But speaking strictly as an ideologue, I don't necessarily have a problem with the government intervening to bail a bunch of rich guys out when their own bad decisions blow up in their faces if that's what's needed for the health of the overall economy, but this sort of thing is one of several reasons why I think the very rich should pay high tax rates and we shouldn't be happy about the prospect of ever-growing inequality. At a certain level, the game is rigged and you're not really bearing any risk.

I would add the fact that the rich also get much preferential treatment because their sources of income (capital gains, dividends, etc.) are taxed at lower rates than the earnings of the rest of us who work 50-60 hours/week and just get by. Oh, and, don't forget that the vast majority of their income is not subject to social security taxes.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Amazing Hillary and Her Amazing Campaign

Today's conventional wisdom is that Hillary's lousy* campaign machine destroyed what was her claim to inevitability. There are, as usual with Hillary coverage, two problems with this claim. First and foremost, she never claimed that she was inevitable. It was the punditry which labeled her as the front-runner, long before even the first vote was cast. As for her campaign, well, I suppose there have been mistakes, but no other candidate has faced the obstacles Hillary has faced.

Once it became clear that Hillary had a real shot at the nomination, probably after the first debate, all the positive statements about her Senate performance, even from such Conservative slugs as Tucker Carlson, stopped. Since then, when the media, MSM and blogosphere, fell in love with Obama, press coverage has been brutally negative.

Not a single "liberal" magazine (The Nation, The New Republic, The Progressive, etc.), to my knowledge, has endorsed her. In the liberal blogosphere, all the first tier blogs (Kos, TPM, Huff, etc.) have been for Obama. This might not be all that exceptional except for the tone of the coverage. It has been brutal and almost completely personal. The language on the blogs, from owners, formal participants and commenters has been vicious. Supporters of Hillary have been slimed because they haven't accepted the divinity of Obama. The coverage by TNR, which hasn't been a liberal magazine since Nixon (but retains the sobriquet because once the media label anything or anybody, the label sticks regardless of reality), especially but not limited to its blogs, has become a cesspool of vitriol indistinguishable from all but the most disgusting comments about Hillary which have flooded the blogosphere.

We are not talking here about a reasoned evaluation of the careers of Obama and Clinton. Nobody in print or online is talking in detail about the careers of the two candidates, the votes they have cast, what they have done for their constituents, how their peers perceive their performance, to what extent they have voted in line with their major contributors, etc. No, that would require research, dull, unexciting research. And, these so-called journalists will say, it's not necessary because the facts are on their web sites. What they provide is "context", informed criticism. Bull. The coverage is little more than gossip about the two personalities in which the roles have been set in concrete: Obama is a saint and Hillary is Kali, the Destroyer.

TV coverage hasn't been any better. MSNBC has been the "Vote for Obama" network for months, led by the oleaginous Chris Matthews but including all the major pundits (Olbermann, Carlson, Scarborough, etc.) and their guest talking heads. NBC's "real" reporters, like Tim Russert, are down in the dirt with their MSNBC colleagues. CNN, ABC and CBS are not far behind.

Time and Newsweek just did cover stories on Hillary. In contrast to the glowing cover stories on Obama and his wife, most of the articles on Hillary in these issues are negative.

Yet, and this is what turned me from being neutral about Clinton (a year ago, I could easily have voted for any of the Democratic candidates except Gravel) into a supporter, Clinton has not only won the major primaries, she has done it in the face of this endless stream of abuse from all the media, and she has done it with grace, style, and humor. The contrast between her and Obama became clear after the Iowa loss and New Hampshire win. Clinton was gracious both in defeat and victory. Obama gloated and then sulked.

She is not only one smart cookie, she is one classy lady.

*according to The Clinton Rules, it is "lousy" only when she doesn't win. When she does, it is a diabolical machine that will stop at nothing in order to destroy Obama, The Chosen One.

Howard Dean - the Netroots thought this guy was Presidential timber?

Well, it isn't often that we get to know how effective a President will be without having to suffer the consequences, but is there anybody sane today who isn't grateful that the Netroots' first candidate for President, Howard Dean, never got very far.

I used to think that the media fuss about Dean's "scream" was another of those stupid tropes they use to shoot down or beef up candidates (spelling potato wrong, shouting that "I paid for this microphone"). However, given his total lack of leadership of the DNC, maybe this time the media got it right.

Let's start with the decision to punish Florida and Michigan. Obviously, Dean didn't think it would matter, nomination-wise, whether the delegates were seated or not. He apparently forgot that the Democrats lost the White House in 2000 because of Florida, where a mere 1000 votes or so tipped the balance. That the voters in those two states might be angry at his arbitrary decision either didn't occur to him or was dismissed out-of-hand. Worse, he was giving in to blackmail by New Hampshire and Iowa. If he wanted to exercise his power, and make a start to reforming the mess that is the primary season, he should have told New Hampshire and Iowa that they couldn't hold their caucuses or primaries before Jan. 2, 2007 or their delegates would not be counted. Then he should have, for this year, allowed the states to pick their own dates.

Now that the delegates from Florida and Michigan can make the difference, he is acting like a schoolboy on the playground with his "the rules are the rules". He seems totally unaware, like Obama's supporters, that if Hillary can't be a legitimate candidate without a majority of delegates, neither can Obama be seen as a legitimate candidate if Michigan and Florida are not counted because the party is split pretty much 50/50 between the two candidates. James Carville has guaranteed 15 million in contributions to pay for revotes. Obama refuses to contribute an equal amount, obviously because he fears losing. And the DNC? Well, it appears that the DNC can't afford to pay for new primaries either. Huh? For months now, I've heard and read nothing about a money crunch. To the contrary, when the subject comes us, the speakers/writers have all said that the Democratic Party was raising much more money than the Republican Party. Have they all been lying? Has Dean been lying?

Dean has proven that he is a disaster as a leader. And he may very well cost the Democratic Party the White House.