Friday, December 26, 2008

"Barack the magic Negro"

It appears that the RNC will remain unreconstructed for the foreseeable future.

RNC Chair candidate and former Huckabee campaign manager Chip Saltsman has sent out a gift bag with a CD of Rush Limbaugh's "Barack, The Magic Negro".

Each party has it's wingnuts, but these guys are running the RNC and that's the difference.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More on Rick Warren's invocation

I was blunt in my criticism of Obama's choice of Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at the upcoming Inaugural.

Ta-Nehisi Coates weights in with a typically thoughtful post on the topic, well worth your time.

But I want to get back to what I think is the real problem with the choice of Warren. Intolerant and unwelcoming conservatives have become the face of American Christianity in at least the last 8 years and this has been to the determent of organized Christianity in a nation becoming more tolerant.

I'm not critical of Obama for reaching out to Warren and seeking to maintain a dialogue with him and all the other Americans with whom he might have disagreements. But maintaining a dialogue with Warren and giving him and his message of intolerance a featured role at his historic inauguration are too very different things.

The President elect had the opportunity to choose a pastor whose ministry is one of tolerance and acceptance and not associated with advocating war and the assassination of foreign leaders, for instance. By choosing such a figure, Obama would have in no way slighted Warren or those he represents.

But Obama has chosen more than just maintaining an open dialogue with Warren and his flock; Obama has chosen to exalt them at the expense of placing a new, open and accepting face on American government. And for now good reason.

Obama richly deserves all the criticism he is receiving for this very poor choice.

Lincoln's bible

In a deft move, the Obama transition team has announced that Obama will take his oath of office on Lincoln's bible, which has not been used by a President since 1861.

This will no doubt be an enormous disappoint to the right blogesphere who have daily insisted that Obama would take his oath on the Koran.

Why would taxpayers bailout commercial real-estate speculators?

The WSJ reports that Commercial Real Estate Investors want a Federal bailout.

It should go without saying the taxpayers cannot and should not bail out everyone, and that speculators, commercial or otherwise, are on their own.

Calculated Risk makes the case against any bailout,
Although the headline says "developers" this is really about property investors who bought commercial buildings at the price peak and are now underwater. But say the owners default and the properties are transferred to the bondholders - what is the risk to the economy? None.
(HT to TPM)

"Buff Bam"?

The NY Post leads today with pictures of the President Elect vacationing in Hawaii, under the classic headline, "Buff Bam is Hawaii Hunk".

The press coverage for this presidency is going to be very different.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Prosecuting American War Criminals

Citing the final installment of the Senate Armed Services Committee report on Torture, The NYTs in a lengthy editorial calls for the prosecution of all those who ordered torture in the name of the American people.

The Times isn't fooling around.
Now, a bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee has made what amounts to a strong case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.

The report shows how actions by these men “led directly” to what happened at Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in secret C.I.A. prisons.

It said these top officials, charged with defending the Constitution and America’s standing in the world, methodically introduced interrogation practices based on illegal tortures devised by Chinese agents during the Korean War. Until the Bush administration, their only use in the United States was to train soldiers to resist what might be done to them if they were captured by a lawless enemy.
I'd be curious to hear a principled reason not to do exactly as the NYTs proposes. We seem to be developing this culture in Washington in which it is widely agreed that those who commit illegal acts at the direction of a President should somehow be exempt from criminal prosecution, and I'm not clear why.

It's widely agreed, for example, that Ford did the right thing in pardoning Nixon, but why? You're either a civilized Nation governed by laws, or you're not.

I'm not suggesting the criminalization of politics, but I think torture is a bid deal.

So, please straighten me out with a principled argument about why I'm wrong.

Rick Warren

Marc Ambinder does a nice job explaining why Warren matters to gays and lesbians.

Selecting Saddle Back Pastor Rick Warren as the minister to give the invocation at the Inaugural is a dreadful idea and Obama deserves all the criticism he is receiving.

Obama has made clear that he disagrees with many of Warren's positions (comparing gay marriage to child rape, incest and polygamy, for instance) but Obama no doubt feels that he should reach to those who hate in Jesus' name as he would reach out to anyone. Good politics I suppose.

But in this, Obama misses the point. The Warrens of the world have had plenty of voice the last 8 years. The Christian voice missing from public discourse is the voice of those pastors whose ministry -- not unlike the ministry of Christ -- is one of inclusion, acceptance and love. Obama has blown this golden opportunity to make a cheap political gain.

Christ threw the Pharisees out of the Temple. Obama has asked one to speak at his Inaugural.

He's on his own in this one.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Destroying the American auto industry for political gain

MSNBC obtained the Senate GOP strategy memo which tells you all you need to know about their priorities, and it's not America.

Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 9:12 AM


Subject: Action Alert -- Auto Bailout

Today at noon, Senators Ensign, Shelby, Coburn and DeMint will hold a press conference in the Senate Radio/TV Gallery. They would appreciate our support through messaging and attending the press conference, if possible. The message they want us to deliver is:

1. This is the democrats first opportunity to payoff organized labor after the election. This is a precursor to card check and other items. Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor, instead of taking their first blow from it.

2. This rush to judgment is the same thing that happened with the TARP. Members did not have an opportunity to read or digest the legislation and therefore could not understand the consequences of it. We should not rush to pass this because Detroit says the sky is falling.

The sooner you can have press releases and documents like this in the hands of members and the press, the better. Please contact me if you need additional information. Again, the hardest thing for the democrats to do is get 60 votes. If we can hold the Republicans, we can beat this.
The LA Times has more.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Madigan launches legal attack to oust Blagojevich

From The Chicago Sun-Times

Madigan launches legal attack to oust Blagojevich
December 12, 2008

BY DAVE McKINNEY Springfield Bureau Chief Sun-Times

SPRINGFIELD - Attorney General Lisa Madigan today opened an unprecedented legal attack against a sitting Illinois governor, taking the formal steps to ask the Illinois Supreme Court to declare Gov. Blagojevich unfit to hold office.
Madigan filed paperwork with the state high court this morning, invoking what is known as Rule 382 that would ask justices to rule on ³the ability of the governor to serve.²
After Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday, Madigan signaled her intent to move ahead on this untested legal front if the governor refused to resign or the Legislature did not launch impeachment proceedings against him.
Madigan¹s office declined comment on the filing, but she intends to hold an
11:15 a.m. press conference today at the Thompson Center to explain her action.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The F22 boondoogle

Kill the F22 already! The NYTs reports today of the move in Congress to save the F22 for the jobs. What a load of crap.

There is not a better example of the abuses of what Eisenhower famously called "the military-industrial complex" than the F22 (The Virgina Class sub is as good an example, but not better).

The F22 is an air superiority fighter designed to counter a new Soviet fighter (post SU27)that was never actually built, and has no real world mission. You doubt this? How many missions as the F22 flown in Iraq and Afghanistan? None as in zero, nada, zippo, as in not even one mission. Why? Because our enemies don't have air forces.

The USAF has spent $65B to date to purchase 187 F22s at $348M each, and Gates doesn't want any more. And can't we all agree 187 advanced fighters with no mission is plenty?

Fred Kaplan has written extensively about this boondoggle. Here is one example.

The bottom line the US is going to continue to fall behind the rest of the industrialized world in education and infrastructure until we rain in outrageous and pointless defense spending on weapons systems with no modern purpose. The F22 and the Virgina class submarine -- which has proven particularly ineffective in sandy deserts -- are perfect examples of horrible government waste that make no one safer, and bankrupts us in the process.

Bush capitulates

The Bush administration had been rushing to complete the last remaining goal of its 2001 Energy Task Force: to increase by hundreds of thousands of tons the amount of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides spewed into the air in hopes of making global warning irreversible and thus cementing Bush's legacy for history. This last goal, like all of the others, was vehemently opposed by the career staff of the EPA, and they knew full well no responsible human being would do this so they had to act by January 20.

But now, inexplicably, and to the dismay of industry lobbyists placed in charge of the Federal regulatory agencies involved, the Bush administration has decided to stop it's efforts at gutting clean air regulations.

The Administration has even abandoned their plans to place new power plants immediately outside national parks and revoke existing clean air standards intended to prevent deterioration in the parks’ air quality.

The NYTs has the story.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What's next in Illinois

Chuck Todd has a nice rundown,
Just how long will Blagojevich remain in office? Our understanding is that impeachment proceedings could take three months. What’s more, if the state legislature passes a bill calling for a special election to bypass Blagojevich’s appointment, the governor could possibly hold that up temporarily because he has 60 days to consider whether he’ll veto it or not. Also, what happens if Blagojevich makes an appointment? It’s important to point out that the US Senate doesn’t have to seat that person; the chamber has the power to seat a member. In addition, we understand that Illinois’ secretary of state has to certify the selection, and that person could decide not to certify Blago’s pick. Indeed, there appear to be plenty of ways to prevent Blagojevich’s selection from ever serving in the Senate. But there also appear to be plenty of ways for Blago to hold up this process. Remember, the governor's only bargaining chip is his office right now, and he's likely going to stay in it as long as he can if it means cutting himself a better deal with the feds. After all, if there's one thing we learned about Blago, he's always looking for leverage.

What deal?

The AP reports that a deal has been reached between Congressional Dems and the WH on a bridge loan to the Big 3.

When someone explains to me why Richard Shelby (R-AL) would care, I'll believe a deal might actually pass the senate. Until then, it's all just navel gazing.

Mrs. Blagojevich

I think my favorite part of the Criminal complaint (See pdf page 47) is this observation overheard from the First Lady of Illinois:
During the call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife can be heard in the background telling ROD BLAGOJEVICH to tell Deputy Governor A “to hold up that fucking Cubs shit. . . fuck them.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked Deputy Governor A what he thinks of his wife’s idea.
I'm not a Cubs fan either and have expressed that very sentiment on many occasions.

Patrick Fitzgerald

The NYTs had a nice profile up this morning of Patrick Fitzgerald. He made his bones prosecuting the so-called blind Sheik for plotting a wave of terror in the US that included bombing the UN Building and half of NYC.

Ironically, in the Blago indictment, all those Republicans that smeared Fitzgerald for his prosecution of Scooter Libby are falling back in love with him. In March 2005 while in the midst of the Plame investigation, Fitzgerald made Rove's list Gonzales' list of USAs who should be considered for termination.

Obama and the Illinois Ethics Bill

The NYT explains Obama's inadvertent roll in bringing down Blagojevich.

Here's the short version. The IL legislature passed an ethics bill to curb campaign donations from contractors, etc. who have business with the state. Blago (love the new shorthand for his name -- not Jacko but still...) vetoed the bill. President of the IL Senate and Obama mentor Emil Jones also opposed the bill, but then candidate Obama phoned him and urged him to support the bill which Jones did leading to the override of the veto. With the new bill taking effect January 1, Blago went on a spree to squeeze everyone in sight for campaign cash before the Dec 31 deadline. The Feds got tipped off which led to the wiretaps. On the wiretaps they caught Blago conspiring to sell the Senate seat.

Got it?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Obama wouldn't play ball

Buried inside the Fitzgerald Press Release and quoting wiretaps,
“Blagojevich said he knew that the President-Elect wanted Senate Candidate 1 for the open seat but ‘they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [Expletive] them!.”
Candidate 1 appears to be Tammy Duckworth.

UPDATE: TPM thinks Candidate 1 is Valerie Jarrett.

Fitzgerald acts before Senate seat could be sold

I'm watching US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's press conference. The FBI Special Agent In charge has just described Illinois as the most corrupt state in the country.

After listening to Fitzgerald and reading his press release and part of the complaint, it's clear that Fitzgerald acted today before Blagojevich could literally sell the vacant senate seat to the highest bidder.

From Fitzgerald's press release,
In the earliest intercepted conversation about the Senate seat described in the affidavit, Blagojevich told Deputy Governor A on November 3 that if he is not going to get anything of value for the open seat, then he will take it for himself: “if . . . they’re not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it.” Later that day, speaking to Advisor A, Blagojevich said: “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain.” He added later that the seat “is a [expletive] valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.”

Over the next couple of days – Election Day and the day after – Blagojevich was captured discussing with Deputy Governor A whether he could obtain a cabinet position, such as Secretary of Health and Human Services or the Department of Energy or various ambassadorships. In a conversation with Harris on November 4, Blagojevich analogized his situation to that of a sports agent shopping a potential free agent to the highest bidder. The day after the election, Harris allegedly suggested to Blagojevich that the President-elect could make him the head of a private

Later on November 5, Blagojevich said to Advisor A, “I’ve got this thing and it’s [expletive] golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there,” the affidavit states.

Tammy Duckworth's star rising?

I was told last week by a friend who is close to Gov Blagojevich -- let's call him 'Advisor A' -- that Duckworth would not get the Senate appointment.

In light of the events today and the details contained in the Criminal Complaint (pdf), I'm thinking Tammy Duckworth may find her star rising.

And I'm also feeling silly and naive for previously believing reports that Duckworth would get the job.

"I want to make money" (updated)

I don't think anyone would call me naive about the role of money in politics, but I have to say I'm shocked that a Governor of a state like Illinois who knows full well he's under a federal corruption investigation, would be so arrogant or foolish.

From USA Patrick Fitzgerald's press release (pdf),
A 76-page FBI affidavit alleges that Blagojevich was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps during the last month conspiring to sell or trade Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat vacated by Obama for financial and other personal benefits for himself and his wife.

At various times, in exchange for the Senate appointment, Blagojevich allegedly discussed obtaining:

• A substantial salary for himself at a either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions.

• Placing his wife on paid corporate boards where he speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year.

• Promises of campaign funds — including cash up front.

• A cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.

On Dec. 4, Blagojevich allegedly told an advisor that he might “get some (money) up front, maybe” from Senate Candidate 5, if he named Senate Candidate 5 to the Senate seat, to insure that Senate Candidate 5 kept a promise about raising money for Blagojevich if he ran for re-election. In a recorded conversation on Oct. 31, Blagojevich claimed he was approached by an associate of Senate Candidate 5 as follows: “We were approached to ‘pay to play.’ That, you know, he’d raise 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (Senate Candidate 5) a Senator.”

On Nov. 7, while talking on the phone about the Senate seat with Harris and an advisor, Blagojevich said he needed to consider his family and that he is “financially” hurting, the complain states.

Harris allegedly said that they were considering what would help the “financial security” of the Blagojevich family and what will keep Blagojevich “politically viable.” Blagojevich stated, “I want to make money,” adding later that he is interested in making $250,000 to $300,000 a year, the complaint alleges.
UPDATE: Criminal Complaint here (pdf)

Gov. Blagojevich taken into federal custody

Both the Tribune and Sun-Times plus all the local TV and radio stations are reporting local sources that Blagojevich has been taken into federal custody. More to follow when details are available.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Big Three - Consumer Perspective

I am torn at this point much like Don on how much to help the American auto business. But we can't blame them for all the issues they are dealing with at this point.

When the consumer can't afford to purchase car - American or Japanese - without taking out a 60 or 72 month loan and with the quality of cars improving so that the average car is lasting longer than ever without needing major repair work, the industry should have started to downsize years ago. I have a 2002 Chevy Impala with almost 110K miles on it. I have never had a major issue with the car, like the way it drives and have no plans to replace it in the next 12 months. Just 20 years ago, that same car would have been traded in long ago and a new one purchase. Maybe even two cars in the same period I have owned that car. And the auto companies were building cars people wanted for the last few years - SUVs and crossovers.

I was listening to WGN radio in Chicago last week when the topic was what can of help to give the auto industry. Two owners of major dealerships were talking to the host about the status of car sales. Both suprised me when they explained that since the price of a gallon of gas had fallen below $2.50 a gallon in early November here in Chicago, auto sales had taken off. And what they were selling were pick up trucks and SUVs. The Chevy dealer said he was sold out of Suburbans and the bigger SUVs. The Ford dealer said the F-150 were selling at or above list since the demand was high and he had a hard time getting them from Ford. A man claiming to be a Toyota dealer called and said he was selling SUVs also and couldn't move a Corolla even with a big discount. Who is to blame for the companies not building smaller, more efficient cars - we are - the consumers.

My youngest son has a Chevy Cobalt - I hate it. It is cramped and uncomfortable. It gets great gas milage - but who cares if you have to be uncomfortable with every mile you drive.

If you really want to help the auto industry and many other depressed industries in this country - implement a government sponsered, cost controlled health care system that covers everyone with an emphasis on prevention - not treatment. This will take the stress off the manufactures to pay retiree health care benefits, increase profit and allow real research into fuel cell and electric car development. It will also allow the industry to pay a fair wage and keep the workers spending. I had an argument with a freind last week over auto worker wages.

He claimed, incorrectly, that the average worker in the industry made about $75,000 a year. When I explained that the right wing radio folks had distorted that wage level by taking all the wages paid plus the unemployemnt sub-pay paid to laid off workers and benefits and included retiree benefits and divided it by number of current workers in the industry to get that number. It was actually more like $57,000 a year. Not a bad wage, but still not $75,000. When I pointed out that his wife- an accountant and me -with a degree in economics and an MBA - both made over $100K and we had to set in an office all day and not work in the conditions in a factory- he had no response. Then when I pointed out that with his bonus and commission as a salesman, he also made more than $75K and all he did was drive around and sell ink. My point here is that the auto workers are not overpaid. We have to have a well paid working middle class or the dream we have had as Americans is gone. You can't buy a house,a car and put your kids to college without a descent wage.

Let's hope this temporary loan will hold the industry over until Jan. 20 and that the Republicans who want to see the industry fail in order to bust the UAW will not succeed in causing the downfall of a major company before we have a chance to fix it.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Big Three

I caught a little of the hearings today with the heads of the Big Three in Washington begging for money.

All I could think about was how many times do they have to learn the same lesson? I'm old enough to remember the first oil shocks when Detroit got caught with their pants down building cars that were rolling, gas guzzling junk heaps.

The Big Three have expended millions if not billions of dollars making this bed. They, and their Democratic and Republican Congressional enablers, have fought for years the kinds of regulations that would have saved them from their current fate. While Toyota (now the world's largest automaker), Honda, Nissan, etc. have focused on making efficient and quality cars for a global market, the Big Three insisted on putting all their eggs in the truck / SUV basket (and getting Bush to triple the big SUV tax deduction), while dinosaurs like John Dingell (D - MI) did everything they could to make sure no regulation forced the Big Three to join the rest of the world. It's outrageous and everyone involved should find themselves unemployed including those in Congress who fought for years against modern CAFE standards, etc.

So it's not pity I feel for them, but anger. And what makes me maddest of all is that I know we have no choice but to once again save GM, Ford and Chrysler from themselves. Because in the end, it's not about them. It's about the 3 million plus jobs that include all their suppliers who also happen to supply all the other automotive plants in the US including Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Daimler, etc.

And last but not least, spare me the laying of all of these woes at the feet of the UAW. It's certainly true that the UAW is not blameless in this tail of woe, and is going to have to make concessions (which they have done before) without which the Big Three will never be profitable, but this is hardly all their fault. The labor issues are not so much wages, but health care costs which have soared, without any real explanation, for 10 years.

A little context is in order. 15 to 20 years ago, most of the pension plans of the Fortune 500 were believed to be way over funded (as in much more money than was needed to pay pensions obligagtions as they came due) thanks to great stock performance that went on for many years. With this extra money in the pension funds, many corporations saw an opportunity to offer early retirement to older, high wage, less productive employees that they could replace with younger, lower wage employees -- or in many cases not replace at all. Best of all, the money to fund the buyouts would come from the over-funded pension plans. The Big Three were no exception. They agreed to allow their UAW members to retire with 30 years at age 55 with medical benefits to age 65 when they were eligible for for medicare -- all funded but their supposed over-funded pension plans. And when these deals were made, it was a win - win proposition because the automakers could downsize painfree with a younger, cheaper and more produtctive work force.

Well, stock market conditions soured and it turned out these pension plans weren't so over-funded after all. Add to this the fact that health care costs soared during this same time and suddenly now these retiree costs -- so-called legacy costs -- were killing the Big Three automakers. This is exactly why health care reform is urgent, but the Big Three don't have years to wait for such reforms. They need saved today.

So save them we must, but will someone explain to me how we save them without releaving them of their legacy costs and how we do that without a bankruptcy filing? The UAW can't just agree to cut off the medical of all their retired members under age 65.

If anyone who has the answer to this question, please let me know.

On the plus side, the Big Three with their 3 million associated jobs is seeking a tiny fraction of what AIG alone has recieved.

Back at it

Forgive the long absence but I needed a break from blogging and thinking about politics. But I'm back now and ready to go.

There's no meaningful difference between 58 and 60

With the final defeat of Jim Martin in Georgia, it's now certain that the Democrats will not hold 60 seats in the Senate and may have to settle for 58 (I'm growing skeptical of Al Franken's chances).

A point which I think is obvious, but which seems lost on the nattering nabobs who form public opinion is that there is no meaningful or practical difference between having 58 seats or 60 seats. There are just too many variables inside the Democratic and Republican caucus to prevent either group from voting in perfect lock step with their respective party leadership.

In the Democratic caucus there are conservative senators and liberal senators who represent very different constituents but have the common interest of being re-elected. It's naive to believe they will both always vote together on legislation sponsored by the Obama WH or Harry Reid.

Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) are among the most Conservative Democrats in the Senate and all hail from McCain states. It should go without saying that they will view many issues very differently than Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Barbra Boxer (D-CA) who are among the most liberal Democrats (by voting record) from the bluest of states.

And these same factors apply to several Republican senators who come from very blue states including Olymbia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Arlen Spector (R-PA) who is up for re-election in 2010. Other senators from Blue states up for re-election in 2010 include Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Richard Burr (R-NC), and George Voinovich (R-OH). While many of these are considered safe seats, their consitutents who voted Obama do not expect them to be filibustering the new president's agenda.

So when you actually get down to counting votes, there isn't anything magic about having 60 Democratic Senators. Get 65 Dems and you can start feeling like you have a supermajority.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bartlett on Obama's economic team

Competence, what a concept.

Former Reagan and Bush I supply-sider Bruce Bartlett,
So far, I am very impressed. Larry Summers at the NEC is brilliant. Tim Geithner at Treasury inspires confidence. Peter Orszag at OMB tells me that we will get honest numbers on which to base policy for a change. And Christina Romer at the CEA puts one of the nation’s top experts on the Great Depression at close hand.

This group has made me realize just how poor Bush’s appointments in recent years have been in the economic area. When slavish political loyalty is apparently the only requirement for a Bush Administration job, and demonstrable competence barely counts at all, it doesn’t tend to attract the best and the brightest. When on those rare occasions, Bush managed to get someone who is competent, there is no evidence that he paid the slightest attention to them, preferring instead the counsel of “Mayberry Machiavellis,” as former White House adviser John DiIulio called them. No wonder we are in the mess we are in.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Al Qaeda's problem with Obama

Newsweek explains Ayman al-Zawahiri's recent statement and offers some context.
Al Qaeda and all its followers badly need to perpetuate Samuel Huntington's "clash of civilizations" paradigm. The West and Islam are deadly enemies, in the radicals' view. The more irreconcilable the former, the happier the latter. In this regard, the agenda of Bush and the neocons was a true blessing for the terrorists. Consider this: after 9/11 and the U.S. strike on Afghanistan, Al Qaeda was badly hit and its leaders were piteously hiding in caves. Later, by attacking Iraq for no valid reason–which caused, as a direct or indirect consequence, hundreds of thousands of deaths among innocent civilians–Bush's administration provided Al Qaeda leaders with a new rationale. They reinvigorated, prospered and recruited hundreds, if not thousands, of brand-new adeptsfollowers, infused with a strong willingness for jihad. "War on terror"? If they could, they would just keep it on forever.

Al Qaeda's true problem with Obama has indeed nothing to do with the color of his skin. By proposing to meet Iran's Ahmadinejad without preconditions instead of just bombing him out, the American president-elect thinks outside of the confrontation box. The radicals just hate that. And above all, they hate the idea of the United States resuming the chase of Al Qaeda operatives in the mountains of the Pakistan-Afghanistan borders. He's coming to them, how could they not react fiercely?

Our long national nightmare will soon be over

Amazing HD video shot on Canon's new 5D2 SLR

This is a very cool HD video shot on Canon's new 5D Mark II SLR (that's right. NOT a video camera). This was shot by one photographer over 3 days in Tokyo and edited on a MacBook Pro.

You will need a highspeed connection and a fast processor to watch the video in HD. I had to use my MacBook. It kept overwhelming my older Dell processor.

Citigroup and GM

The New York Times takes a long look at what has lead Citigroup to Federal bailout.

And Robert Reich examine why Citigroup would get a bailout and GM would not.

Sanberg as Rahm

Andy Sanberg from the dress rehearsal last night in a sketch that didn't air.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tammy Duckworth

It appears likely that Tammy Duckworth will replace Barack Obama in the Senate.

My sources tell me that both Durbin and Obama are pushing Duckworth hard.

Waxman replaces Dingell

Sources report that Waxman has won his bid before the House Caucus to chair Energy and Commerce, replacing John Dingell.

Waxman has sat on this committee for more than 30 years waiting for the 82 year old Dingell to move on, to no avail. Now it's Waxman's turn to be the dinosaur.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kathleen Parker the next to be thrown overboard

Kathleen Parker today in the WaPo,
....the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth -- as long as we're setting ourselves free -- is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.
Jonah Goldberg predictably takes exception.

And Kevin Drum notes that denial from the GOP may not be their best plan,
There will always be plenty of votes for a culturally conservative party. That's not the problem. The problem is the venomous, spittle-flecked, hardcore cultural conservatism that's become the public face of the evangelical wing of the GOP. It's the wing that doesn't just support more stringent immigration laws, but that turns the issue into a hate fest against La Raza, losing 3 million Latino votes in the process. It's the wing that isn't just a little skittish about gay marriage, but that turns homophobia into a virtual litmus test, losing 6 million young voters in the process. It's the wing that isn't just religious, but that treats belief as a precondition to righteousness, losing 2 million secular voters in the process. It's the wing that isn't just nostalgic for old traditions, but that fetishizes the heartland as the only real America, losing 7 million urban voters in the process. It's the wing that goes into a legislative frenzy over Terry Schiavo but six months later can barely rouse itself into more than a yawn over the destruction of New Orleans.
As I've noted time and again, the nation's demographics no longer work for a 'whites only' party. Yet many of the 'rank and file' members of the GOP have responded with increasing ugliness. Rove tried to simultaneously reach out to non-whites and turn up the gas on the cultural issues (gay marriage bans, stem cell research bans) that turn off those very voters then need to piece together a national coalition.

Republicans can delude themselves with their own view of the last 8 years until the end of time. But the bottom line for the GOP is that they have lost 4 of the 5 Presidential elections since the end of the cold war, and had to move heaven and earth for the single win. And the demographics only get worse for the GOP over time. Does any thinking member of the Republican party think a Sarah Palin will appeal to America in 2016?

Waxman wins round one

The 82 year old John Dingell needs to bow out gracefully. It's long past time for a change on the Energy and Commerce Committee. While the MI congressman has meant well, a big part of the not so Big Three's problems has been folks like Dingell using their power to shelter them from a modern world.

Waxman Edges Dingell In Panel Vote

Stevens concedes

Sen Ted Stevens makes it official by conceding his Senate seat to Democrat Mark Begich.

AP calls MO for McCain

The AP finally calls Missouri for McCain by 3,632 votes.

McCain's lead in Missouri narrows

The deadline for final reporting by all election authorities was close of business yesterday, but St. Louis City, St. Louis County and Jackson County (KC) were still out.

The Post-Dispatch reported that at the close of business yesterday, McCain led Obama by 4,355 votes.

Based upon the numbers reported by the Missouri Sec of State at least some of those still outstanding have reported today.

As of right now, McCain's lead has shrunk further to 3636 votes which is one-tenth of one percent. Even assuming St. Louis City and County are still out, Obama is not going to overtake McCain.

Missouri is not an automatic recount State, but since the margin is less than 1%, Obama can request a recount at State expense.

There is a very realistic chance that a hand recount would swing Missouri to Obama by an equally narrow margin. Patrick, a Missouri taxpayer and Obama supporter, has been adamant in his opposition to a recount for very pragmatic reasons (a big expense that won't change the national results). I've agreed with Patrick, but given how tight race has become (.1 percent) and the historic implications, I'd like to see a recount.

Patrick, are you holding firm on no recount?

I would be surprised if the Obama campaign asked for a recount.

The case for mercy

As I've said before, I'd strip Lieberman of all chairs, first and foremost for retribution -- which I believe promotes discipline. But also for dereliction of duty. Lieberman chairs the Senate's most powerful oversight committee and refused to conduct any oversight hearings over the most corrupt administration in the modern era.

But Jay Newton-Small makes the case for showing Lieberman mercy.
Obama wasn't just acting out of bipartisan good will. In supporting Lieberman's continued inclusion in the Democratic caucus, he may have effectively defanged his toughest potential opponent in the Senate Democratic caucus. If Lieberman is anything, as he proved with John McCain, he's loyal — and now he owes Obama a big one. His job over the next few years, for the first time in his long political career, is to keep quiet.

The move is especially savvy because Obama — and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — know that in order to achieve virtually anything on the Democrats' long list of ambitious legislation they will need every vote they can possibly get in the Senate. Obama's biggest challenge in both chambers of Congress will be keeping the varying factions of his own party together, especially more liberal members and the more conservative so-called Blue Dog Democrats. To that end Lieberman can be an asset, especially in helping to convince his fellow moderate members in the so-called Gang of 14, including some Republicans like John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
I wanted to make an example of Lieberman. The fear of many on the left that Lieberman will suddenly start using his chairmanship to launch Gingrichsque investigations of the new administration is irrational. The equally irrational response was that if he did, he would just be removed from chair as if it were that easy.

But JN-S is being naive if she thinks Lieberman will suddenly feel obligated to dance when Obama snaps his fingers. Obama campaigned for Joe in his 2006 primary challenge by the netroots and Ned Lamont and that didn't stop Joe from telling anyone who would listen that it was reasonable to suspect Obama of treason.

Lieberman is a first class, self-serving Jackass who the voters of Connecticut have inflicted on the nation.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

HRC as SoS

I will believe it when I see it.

I can't see how Obama can have the former POTUS husband of his SoS flying around the world speaking on issues of foreign policy and taking private meetings with foreign government officials, heads of state, etc. many of whom have evidently given large sums of money to his foundation.

And I can't see how Bill can or will be neutered by Obama who he can barely stand to look at. The husband of the US SoS can't be giving policy speeches, or meeting with foreign politicos advising them, period.

I'll admit that these thing or way over my head but this sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. And my guess is it won't happen.

And then there were 58

The AP calls the race for Begich.

I feel pretty good about picking off Coleman, but I just don't see the Dems knocking off Chambliss.

Eric Holder for AG

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff has the scoop.

Marc Rich, here we go again.

Florida turning blue

According to a Quinnipiac poll released today Gov Charlie Crist enjoys a 68% approval rating while GOP Sen Mel Martinez has only a 42% approval rating.

Both politicians are up for re-election in 2010 but only 1 can expect to be re-elected.

Lieberman's day of reckoning

The Senate Democratic caucus votes today on Lieberman's fate. I really have no insight other than it seems that many want to forgive Joe for calling them all traitors on national television from the RNC Convention and campaigning against them nationally with Gov. Palin.

I'd strip him of all chairmanships, but leave his status in the caucus up to him and couldn't care less if he leaves. 57 or 59 doesn't much matter in the great scheme of things. Conn is a very blue state and his caucusing with Republicans will not sit well back home.

Finally, Chair of Homeland Security is an extremely significant post and Lieberman's refusal to conduct any hearings investigating the Bush administration not just in Iraq but on Katrina and an entire host of domestic failures and scandals is reason enough to strip him of his chairmanship.

Everything else Joe has done to betray those he calls friends is really just icing on the cake.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Frum leaving National Review

Not exactly a big surprise, since Frum turned negative on the McCain campaign and Gov Palin in particular, but I did think he would hold on until after the inauguration.

Once the intellectual voice of conservatism, it seems the current National Review is nothing more than the PR wing of the GOP.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Is 67M votes possible?

I didn't think Obama would hit 66M votes, much less 67M votes, but his knocking at the door.

Michael Barone representing the Republican Intelligentsia

US News columnist and Fox News commentator Michael Barone speaking last week before the 121st annual meeting of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges offered his insight into media coverage of Gov Palin,
“The liberal media attacked Sarah Palin because she did not abort her Down syndrome baby,.... "They wanted her to kill that child. ... I'm talking about my media colleagues with whom I've worked for 35 years.”
Evidently, conservative 'intellectuals' eat this stuff up, but actual intellectuals, not so much. The room "erupted in angry boos" and an embarrassed Barone later claimed he was making a joke.

One of the GOPs problems is that they actually subscribe to such bizarre beliefs and shape election strategy around them.

How the recount favors Franken

Scott Rafferty does a nice job explaining why the hand count in Minnesota favors Al Franken.

It's the same reason a Missouri recount would favor Barack Obama. In short, voter intent in a hand recount of paper ballots can be discerned with the intended candidate getting the vote that was missed by the scanner. Add to this the fact that the vast majority of undervotes are in Obama territory, and you have Senator Al Franken.

Friday, November 14, 2008

HRC as SoS?

The buzz is everywhere that Hillary is on the short list for Sec of state.

She flew to Chicago yesterday to talk about something.

This only makes sense from Hillary's perspective if she doesn't like being a Senator, and maybe she doesn't. She's in a position to be a very powerful senator for as long as she wishes -- New York loves her. And she doesn't have to run for reelection until 2012.

On the other hand, as Josh points out, Secretary's of State seem to have a relatively short shelf life, with very few making it more than one presidential term.

Hillary taking this job tells me she's done with public life and this is her step to retirement.

Her baggage -- including a former POTUS with many shady International dealings -- and what's in it for Obama are topics for another post.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

66,000,000 and counting

It's not easy to find the popular vote total -- which continues to increase as more votes are being counted every day. But here it is, and Barack Obama is now at 66,056,628 which is 53.3% of the vote.

It will probably be January before actual final numbers are reported by all states to the FEC.

As a point of reference, Bush had 62,040,610 in 2004 and 50,456,002 in 2002 (which was only 543,865 fewer votes than Al Gore's 50,899,897 votes).

Stevens may be yet be done

The AP informs that Steven's Democratic challenger Mark Begich has "jumped to an 814-vote lead, after trailing by 3,200 when the day began. The tally late Wednesday was 132,196 to 131,382, with an estimated 30,000 ballots remaining to be counted."

Peter Beinart explains it all

Peter Beinart via Mike Allen,
Americans want government to impose law and order — to keep their 401(k)s from going down, to keep their health care premiums from going up, to keep their jobs from going overseas — and they don’t much care whose heads Washington has to bash to do it. … If [Obama] can do what F.D.R. did — make American capitalism stabler and less savage — he will establish a Democratic majority that dominates U.S. politics for a generation. And despite the daunting problems he inherits, he’s got an excellent chance.
Beinart is absolutely right and partisans on both sides should remember this.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The 'Barack Whisperer'

The WaPo has a nice profile of the next WH press secretary.

Recount Missouri?

The Post-Dispatch updates us on the status of the Missouri vote count. McCain's lead is now down below 5000 votes mostly because St. Louis County officials have stumbled upon 3200 votes that "had apparently not been tallied by polling place workers during the initial collection of votes." Good to know someone is checking their work.

The 7000 provisional ballots cast state-wide are just now starting to be counted. As the Post earlier reported, in the past two elections, fewer than half of the provisional ballots cast ended up counting as legitimate. In 2006, only 3,282 of 7,401 provisional ballots counted. In 2004, 3,292 out of 8,183 counted.

So it seems a fair estimate that once all votes are actually counted, McCain's lead in the state will probably be around 3500 votes, well within the 1% margin that permits a party to request a recount under Missouri law.

Should Obama request a recount? What if I told you there was a better than even chance that Obama could win Missouri with a recount?

If there is a hand recount of the scanned ballots, many of the scanned ballots not read would be counted because the voter's intent would be obvious. These are ballots where a voter circles the candidates name or marks the circle with an "x" instead of shading in the circle, etc.

I can't decide how I feel. A recount is expensive for the state and would not change the outcome of the election. However, a recount could change the electoral college math for the benefit of history.

What do you think?

UPDATE: And if you think MO is moving slow, 30% of Alaska's ballots have yet to be counted.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Note the sarcasm

Hinderacker really does live in his own world. I often wondered what color the sky was in his world.

And who can forget these immortal words from Hinderacker speaking of the great genius:"It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile."

And by the way, Hinderacker's original post is no longer available at powerlineblog but will live on forever in cyberspace.

Movement politics to the Whitehouse

The Nation's Ari Melber has a great read on how Obama's 'movement' can transform presidential governance,
The massive list of energized activists is the biggest stick Obama will carry in Washington. It enables direct communication at a remarkable scale. The next President can instantly address 16 percent of his national supporters, based on the popular vote. To put it another way, the list dwarfs the audience of all the nightly cable news shows combined.

So even after the gauzy honeymoon talk fades, when people start second-guessing how much "political capital" Obama really has, there will be this resilient network of people committed to enacting the Obama agenda.
This is the point that the talking head and Republicans just don't understand. These people want to be involved. They want to serve and they are waiting to be asked by President Obama to help. This is 21st Century politics.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Is conservative intellectual tradition dead?

Mark Lilla makes the case in the WSJ that conservative intellectual tradition is dead and we are the poorer for it.
It's a sad tale that began in the '80s, when leading conservatives frustrated with the left-leaning press and university establishment began to speak of an "adversary culture of intellectuals."...the idea was taken up and distorted by angry conservatives who saw adversaries everywhere and decided to cast their lot with "ordinary Americans" whom they hardly knew...."

The die was cast. Over the next 25 years there grew up a new generation of conservative writers who cultivated none of their elders' intellectual virtues -- indeed, who saw themselves as counter-intellectuals. Most are well-educated and many have attended Ivy League universities; in fact, one of the masterminds of the Palin nomination was once a Harvard professor. But their function within the conservative movement is no longer to educate and ennoble a populist political tendency, it is to defend that tendency against the supposedly monolithic and uniformly hostile educated classes. They mock the advice of Nobel Prize-winning economists and praise the financial acumen of plumbers and builders. They ridicule ambassadors and diplomats while promoting jingoistic journalists who have never lived abroad and speak no foreign languages. And with the rise of shock radio and television, they have found a large, popular audience that eagerly absorbs their contempt for intellectual elites. They hoped to shape that audience, but the truth is that their audience has now shaped them.

Friday, November 07, 2008

65,000,000 and counting

Votes are still being counted nationally -- especially on the West Coast.

Obama has now exceeded 65M votes (53%)breaking Bush's 2004 record by more than 3M votes.

Not only has the first non-white been elected President, but he has received more votes for President than any man in history.

Any suggestion that Barack Obama doesn't have a mandate is a fantasy.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Obama declared winner of North Carolina

Obama has just been declared the winner of North Carolina giving him 364 electoral votes.

Does anyone know if all the votes have finally be tallied in Georgia? There has been reports of many early votes still uncounted, etc.

In senate news, Merkley has finally declared the winner in Oregon, giving Democrats one more seat.

The knives are out,....

This is really ugly. McCain insiders are out to destroy Sarah Palin's political future and Fox News is happy to be the vector.

Sarah Palin didn't know Africa was a continent?

The peddling of this kind of slander is outrageous. If people want to make the kind of accusations that can ruin a person's future, they need to go on the record.

And this is on top of the hit piece in Newsweek. Here's a taste, "An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast," and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Gracious and generous

I neglected to mention last night that John McCain's concession speech was as gracious and generous as I have ever heard.

Las Vegas

I'm in Las Vegas the rest of the week so blogging will be light.

Sent from my iPhone

A lack of baggage

One of the reasons I signed on to Obama last January was Clinton

How refreshing will it be to have a new President who is actually new
without the baggage of past administrations (fathers or husbands).

Sent from my iPhone

Rahm Emanuel

My vote for Chief of Staff.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Electoral Math

Just running the numbers it appears Obama will win IN and will likely have 375 electoral votes. AND, Montana is in play which would give Obama 378 electoral votes.

Chicago is going crazy!!

I wish I could have gone down to Grant Park tonight, but I had other obligations. I can't wait to see how they get all those people out of Downtown tonight.

One last thought for all you Cards' fan - who would have thought in 1908 that a black man would win the presidency before the Cubs could win another World Series.

Barack Obama elected President of the United States


This is the greatest moment in American History of my lifetime ranking up there with Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon.


From what I saw in North Saint Louis today and heard about from around North Saint Louis County, it's hard for me to imagine McCain winning Missouri.

For those who don't know, North City and County are heavily African American and the turnout was off the charts. I worked Ward 1, Prcts 1,2&5. More than 2200 votes (I saw two white people vote all day) were cast by days end. 1800 votes by 11 AM.

The polls in MO open at 6 AM and when I arrived at 5:30AM more than 200 people were in line with the line eventually hitting 500 people. On my way home I drove past a second North City polling place at 7:45 PM (45 minutes after they closed) and they appeared to still be voting.

I can't see how McCain is not swamped by this turnout. McCain needs to lead 'outstate' (all of MO between Kansas City (Jackson County) and Saint Louis) by very large numbers to hold MO, and so far, he's not doing that. Saint Louis City, County and Jackson are always the last to report and they will be coming in tonight in a tidal wave.

Election results via MSNBC


More than 1000 votes cast so far in the 3 precints voting at this

Sent from my iPhone

Reporting from North Saint Louis

Turnout is huge but running smoothly. There is a Republican challenger
here but is not interfering in any way.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, November 03, 2008

MS GOP Senate candidate pretends to be a Dem

Republican Mississippi senate candidate Roger Wicker has sent out a sample ballot wherein he pretends to be a Democrat.

Did I say this was in Mississippi?

Final 2008 POTUS poll results

Jim Morin / Miami Herald (November 3, 2008)

Advice for Election Day

First, if you can vote at 10AM or 2 PM, do so. If you must vote in the morning, arrive when the polls open. In MO and IL, the polls open at 6 AM.

Second, believe nothing you read tomorrow. Exit polls will be leaked, and what is leaked will be inaccurate. Inaccurate exit polling data was leaked in 2004 and several times in this past primary season.

Just wait as best you can for the votes to be counted. Chuck Todd on NBC / MSNBC is the man and he will tell you everything you need to know as events unfold.

Finally, have some champagne on ice. There is every reason to believe it will be a very good night.

The Obama campaign knocked on 1,000,000 doors today in Ohio, and 8,000,000 doors in PA over the weekend.

We're watching the first campaign of the 21st Century and it is a remarkable operation. And to give credit where credit is due, the Obama campaign is the logical extension of Bush/Cheney 2004 and Rove's 'microtargeting'.

Tomorrow in Missouri there will be 30,000 volunteers making sure everyone gets out to vote and is able to cast a ballot. 2,500 lawyers volunteering for Obama will be working inside the polling places to ensure that all goes well and no lawful voter is turned away. And this is taking place in every major state, not just the battlegrounds. The Obama campaign has a huge organization in states like Indiana as well as Ohio, PA, etc. They have a nationwide computer network designed to target individual Democratic voters in every state and a plan to work them until they vote. If this all works, this campaign will be written about for years to come.

Barack Obama's Grandmother has died

MSNBC is reporting that Barack Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has died in Hawaii. This is the woman who basically raised him, while his mother was away for much of his life.

Very sad that she did not see him win the election.

Obama spoke of his grandmother today in Charlotte:

Early voting hassles as prologue?

I'm seeing a lot of reporting that speculates that the long lines for early voting in many states somehow indicates that we can expect the same at polling places nationwide on election day.

The problem is that there is no logical reason to believe this to be true. In early voting states all early voters in an entire county may have only 4 locations in which to vote, and that's in a good county. Some early voters only have the county seat.

Election day, however, is very different with most voting done on a neighborhood level. There will be hundreds of voting locations in every county of any size. There are 124 polling stations in the City of Saint Louis alone, and more than 200 in St. Louis county. Some states intentionally starve some voting locations to depress turnout, but this is an exception. And thanks to lots of negative publicity (see Kenyon County OH)there has been much improvement since 2000 and 2004.

So, there is very little reason to believe long lines for early voting will translate to long lines on election day. The exceptions will be all over the news, but expect most voting to go very smoothly even with heavy turnout.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Battleground Missouri

I'm just back from a training session put on by Missouri Democrats and the Obama campaign.

The organization of the Obama campaign is breathtaking. I've volunteered at very low levels for every presidential campaign since 1984, and I have never seen anything like this. My session was attended by about 250 people who will be working in precincts on election day. Most interesting about my group is that every one of us was a lawyer. Those of us from Missouri have been credentialed by the campaign thru the Board of Election to work inside the voting locations to make sure every vote is counted. Those that have come in from out of state will be working outside in support, helping voters, completing form if a voter has a voting problem, etc. And this was not the first training session for attorneys.

The computer organization which is nation-wide is remarkable. I don't want to reveal too much until after the election, but I've never seen anything like this. I thought 2004 was organized -- and it was -- but this is years ahead.

The Obama campaign has 30,000 volunteers on the ground in Missouri for election day.

Is it really this simple?

Obama leads in 18 out of the 19 states with the largest recent declines in home prices, whereas McCain leads in 13 out of the 14 states with the largest recent increases in home prices.

McCain Advisor has no examples of voter fraud

In the last presidential debate, McCain breathlessly charged -- as he is prone to do -- that ACORN "is on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy."

Except that they can't even show a single example of a fraudulent vote.

In an interview with Pro Publica, a McCain spokesman comes up dry,
For weeks Republican leaders have warned that widely reported problems with fake voter registrations could result in a flood of phony votes in pivotal states.

But Ronald Michaelson, a veteran election administrator and member of the McCain-Palin Honest and Open Election Committee, said in an interview that he could not name a single instance in which this had occurred.

"Do we have a documented instance of voting fraud that resulted from a phony registration form? No, I can’t cite one, chapter and verse."
While ACORNS practices are embarrassing, facts matter and when you consider that there is no evidence of actual voter fraud (as opposed to registration fraud in which ACORN is the victim)it becomes clear that the objective of the GOP is to disenfranchise the poor and illicit class warfare as they did over 'welfare fraud' in the 80s and 90's.
A review of prosecutors’ statements and documents filed by Republicans in the most serious new cases alleging voter fraud shows that none offer an example in which a fraudulently registered person managed to cast a valid vote. While several cases argue that such frauds are possible, none sketched a scenario for how massive numbers of people could fake registrations and then vote.

Asked for specifics about the dangers of fake registration, Ben Porritt, a spokesman for the McCain campaign, provided links to 13 news clips and a 2003 Missouri state auditor’s report. Eleven of the cases did not involve registration fraud. Two recounted how felons appeared to have cast illegal votes under their own names. The lone example of a forged registration leading to an illegitimate vote comes from The Wall Street Journal’s John Fund, who in April 2006 wrote that a community organizer had improperly registered a noncitizen, and then “someone eventually voted in [the noncitizen’s] name.”
What is patriotic about using lies to undermine the integrity of America's democracy?
Michaelson -- who served for 27 years as executive director of the Illinois Board of Elections -- is himself concerned about the false charges he and others are making on behalf of the McCain campaign as undermining our democracy. Go read the whole piece.

Three big myths about the past two elections

Chris Bowers does an excellent job shooting down 3 myths that plague Democratic voters into irrational fear:
  1. "Yeah, but Kerry was winning at the end of the campaign, too."
  2. "Yeah, but Kerry was way ahead among early voters, too."
  3. "Yeah, but Republicans always do better in the final results than in the final polls." (GOTV and / or machine fraud are often cited as reasons for this one.)
The short answers are simple. Kerry was actually about 2 points down come election day. Kerry was at best tied among early voters in 2004, and likely down. Finally, in fact Dems actually do very slightly better than Republicans in the finish.

I was one of those drinking the Kool-Aid in 2004 convincing myself that Kerry would win, but not because I thought he was ahead in the polls. Kerry did have a 2 point lead in the Oct. 31 Fox News poll, which was clearly an outlier. I was banking on the idea (pushed by guys like Ruy Teixeira) that traditional polling missed Kerry supporters who only had cell phones, never voted before, etc. and when the votes were counted he would ride to victory. Of course, as we know now, not so much,...

Here's a graph from Pollster to illustrate the differences between now and 2000 and 2004.

367 electoral votes for Obama

The final Ward Report Electoral College prediction: 367 electoral votes for Obama to 171 electoral votes for McCain.

2008 final ward report prediction
Obama states in which I have the least confidence are Missouri followed by Florida and North Carolina. These latter two should go to Obama based upon objective data, but Missouri is a real toss-up and I think will come down to the wire just like Sen McCaskill's unseating of Jim Talent in 2006. My guess is that Obama will win (or lose) by less than 1 point.

Obama upsets could be Indiana (-.5), Georgia (-2) and Montana (-3). Despite polling data, I think GA is more likely to swing to Obama than Indiana where Barack only trails by half a point.

Finally, no matter what the polls show, swimming against history in states like Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana and Montana makes them tough states for a Democrat to pick up -- these states have been forever Republican for a reason.

UPDATE: Forgot a popular vote prediction. Obama will get 52% of the popular vote. I think the race will be tighter than polling suggests.

Dick Cheney for John McCain

Some endorsements are worth more than others. Yesterday, Dick Cheney endorsed McCain / Palin.

Today, Obama has an ad out making sure everyone knows it.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Jim Morin / Miami Herald (October 30, 2008

An 'Idiot Wind'

The WaPo today in an editorial calls out the racism in the McCain campaign. The same racism that so offended Colin Powell.
Perhaps unsurprising for a member of academia, Mr. Khalidi holds complex views. In an article published this year in the Nation magazine, he scathingly denounced Israeli practices in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and U.S. Middle East policy but also condemned Palestinians for failing to embrace a nonviolent strategy. He said that the two-state solution favored by the Bush administration (and Mr. Obama) was “deeply flawed” but conceded there were also “flaws in the alternatives.” Listening to Mr. Khalidi can be challenging — as Mr. Obama put it in the dinner toast recorded on the 2003 tape and reported by the Times in a detailed account of the event last April, he “offers constant reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases.”

It’s fair to question why Mr. Obama felt as comfortable as he apparently did during his Chicago days in the company of men whose views diverge sharply from what the presidential candidate espouses. Our sense is that Mr. Obama is a man of considerable intellectual curiosity who can hear out a smart, if militant, advocate for the Palestinians without compromising his own position. To suggest, as Mr. McCain has, that there is something reprehensible about associating with Mr. Khalidi is itself condemnable — especially during a campaign in which Arab ancestry has been the subject of insults. To further argue that the Times, which obtained the tape from a source in exchange for a promise not to publicly release it, is trying to hide something is simply ludicrous, as Mr. McCain surely knows.

a 60 seat caucus seems out of reach

With the election just days away it's time to take a realistic look at the senate.

The Democratic caucus enters this election with 51 members including Joe Lieberman (I - CT) and Bernie Sanders (I-VM). No Democrats are retiring and no incumbents are in danger. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana (+11) was believed to be in serious danger but the NRSC pulled out of her race a couple weeks ago essentially conceding her reelection.

But there is a complication. Joe Lieberman is a closet Republican whose chairmanship needs to be stripped which would likely cause him to leave the caucus, and he's not a reliable vote anyway.

So, while it would seem the Democrats need 9 pickups, they actually need 10 for 61 seats.

Five Republicans are retiring this year and the Democrats are poised to pick up three:
52. Mark Udall (CO) +11
53. Tom Udall (NM) +17
54. Mark Warner (VA) +29
In addition, 18 Republican senate seats are up for reelection. Of those the following appear in reach:
55. Jeanne Shaheen (NH) +8 over Sununu
56. Jeff Merkley (OR) +6 over Smith
57. Kay Hagan (NC) +4 over Dole
58. Al Franken (MN) +2 over Coleman
59. Mark Begich (Ak) +4 over Stevens

60. Bruce Lunsford (KY) -3 under McConnell (Minority Leader)
60. Jim Martin (GA) -3 under Chambliss
60. Ronnie Musgrove (MS) -3 under Wicker (Lott's seat)
The conventional wisdom is that Martin knocking off Chambliss is the most likely of the 3 long shots, but as I explained earlier, a runoff in GA makes this an unlikely pick-up. But, really big Democratic turnout (which appears to be materializing) could give Martin the 50% plus 1 he needs to win the seat outright.

Knocking off Mitch McConnell would be a dream come true but his lead appears rock solid and the polls are trending his way.

Wicker's lead is also rock solid with the polls trending his way as well. Again, large Democratic turnout in Mississippi could potentially swamp him, but I wouldn't bet on it.

And of course, Norm Coleman could win reelection as could Stevens (out of Alaskan spite) making 61 even further out of reach.

Bottom line: I'm having a hard time envisioning more than 59 seats with Lieberman.

But, if the Dems pick up 60, should they suck up Lieberman's betrayals and let him keep the chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Can Chambliss hold his Senate seat?

The crew at First Read explains that GA state law requires 50% plus one vote to win the senate race. Should no candidate reach that threshold (there is a third-party candidate in the race), a run-off election between the top two is scheduled for December 2.

I continue to be skeptical of a Chambliss defeat. Just imagine a run-off if it is literally to elect the 60th Democrat to the Senate. Will Dems turnout in the numbers necessary without Obama on the ballot? You can believe the Republicans will come out to vote.

What's the future of a political party,...

whose opening act is Hank Williams Jr.?

McCain hearts Hillary

Did you ever think you would live to see the day a Republican tied himself to Hillary Clinton?

Well, in a desperate attempt to save his campaign McCain is sending out a mailer in Pennsylvania praising Sen Clinton. "Senator Clinton knows knows how to reach across the isle to solve problems. Both she and John McCain have shown the American people proven results, not pretty words."

McCain goes on, "As the father of three daughters I owe Senator Clinton a debt for inspiring them and millions of other women in this great country that nothing is beyond their reach."

NRSC chair: Palin not qualified to be POTUS

This isn't helpful the weekend before the election. Chair of the NRSC, Sen. John Ensign:
"I do not think that [Gov. Sarah Palin]is experienced enough to be President of the United States - ...and certainly Joe Biden is much more qualified than Sarah Palin is.
To be fair, I edited out his trashing of Obama as equally unqualified. But still,....

It really is every man for himself right now in the GOP. Ensign is no doubt concerned he may be presiding over one of the biggest Senatorial defeats in history and he wants everyone to know it's Palin's fault, and McCain for picking her, because, you know, we've never really liked McCain anyways.

PA court rejects GOP voter surpression suit

In what has to be the flakiest of the GOP lawsuits to block voting this year, A Pennsylvania trial court judge refused to order ACORN to run public service messages designed by the GOP.

The court also refused to order ACORN to turn over to the GOP the names of those voters ACORN registered and refuse to block voters wearing partisan buttons, t-shirts, etc. from voting. So low is the Pennsylvania GOP's opinion of John McCain, that they are afraid any Republican who sees an Obama button on someone waiting to vote will immediately abandon McCain -- as if in a hypnotic trance -- and vote Obama. The judge was unconvinced.

Obama going on the air in Arizona

This will really frost McCain's pumpkin.
On a conference call with reporters just now, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said that the campaign is going up on the air in the final stretch in three states: Georgia, North Dakota, and ... McCain's home state of Arizona.

Plouffe said that yesterday's "rear view mirror" ad attacking McSame would go up in Georgia and North Dakota, and the positive closing spot, which features the endorsements of Warren Buffett and Colin Powell, would go up in Arizona.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The GA senate race

Nate Silver makes the case that the polls in GA may be lowballing Chambliss' Democratic challenger Jim Martin.

My gut tells me that Chambliss wins in a nailbiter, but Democratic turnout (in early voting) is off the charts in GA.

And few things would make me happier than Chambliss going down.

GOP Voter Surpression

seems to be overwhelmingly falling flat.

TPM has a great rundown.

Keeping our heads

As we head into the home stretch,the polls will tighten-up. They always do. Always.

Expect 50 to 60% of so-called undecideds to go to McCain. It's not the end of the world. The sky is not falling. The campaign is not lost.

The tightening of the polls by even 1 or 2 points will get undue media attention because there is really not much else to report on at this late stage of the campaign.

The Obama campaign has the largest GOTV effort every mounted by any campaign anywhere. Rather that spend the weekend in an irrational panic, and emailing or calling me about it, call (I wouldn't bother with email or web sign-ups at this late date) your local Obama Biden office -- or better yet just show up -- and work for the campaign. If possible, take off work on election day to help out. One simple thing you can do is drive people to the polls. Many voters need a ride, especially the elderly.

I will be working all day on election day in North St. Louis City protecting citizens right to vote.

If you prefer, you can help right now without leaving home. Talk to potential supporters in Ohio today and help win the state for Barack.

There is a job for all of us and nothing staves off panic better than being involved.

They really don't get it.

The Right very sincerely doesn't get it. Here is exhibit #127

Who is target audience of this ad? Is it intended to move black votes to McCain? Or, more likely, ease white guilt?

The Economist for Barack Obama


America should take a chance and make Barack Obama the next leader of the free world

IT IS impossible to forecast how important any presidency will be. Back in 2000 America stood tall as the undisputed superpower, at peace with a generally admiring world. The main argument was over what to do with the federal government’s huge budget surplus. Nobody foresaw the seismic events of the next eight years. When Americans go to the polls next week the mood will be very different. The United States is unhappy, divided and foundering both at home and abroad. Its self-belief and values are under attack.

For all the shortcomings of the campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama offer hope of national redemption. Now America has to choose between them. The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly: the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America’s self-confidence....
There is more, of course.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Worried about election day

The Obama campaign is really worried that supporters will assume a win is guaranteed and not show up on election day.

American Stories, American Solutions

I was out tonight and missed Obama's infomercial. What did you think?

If you missed it too, here it is.

McCain defending Arizona?

TPM reports that McCain is is now running robocalls in his home state!

A recent poll showed McCain only leading Obama in AZ by 2 points.

Obama finally hits Palin

AFL-CIO's Internal Polling

Ambinder has some numbers from OH, MI and PA,
Among veterans, retirees and gun owners -- the three groups we microtargeted communication to in the final weeks of persuasion -- we've seen the numbers improve dramatically.

Among union gun owners, it's now 58-30 Obama, up from 48-41 in early September, a 21 point jump.

Among veterans we're at 58-32, up from 49-41 in early September. (+18)

And among retirees, we're now at 59-31, up from 52-37, a 14 point improvement, nearly double the margin
I'll believe it when the votes are counted. I drank too much Kool-Aid in 2004. This year I'm trying to err on the conservative.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Early black voting surge

Remarkable. People are standing in line for hours to vote early.

Turnout will be the story of this campaign, and I'm starting to believe Obama turnout is going to swamp McCain whose voters are becoming increasingly demoralized.

Nate Silver:
According to Michael McDonald's terrific website, there are three states in which early voting has already exceeded its [early voting] totals from 2004. These are Georgia, where early voting is already at 180 percent of its 2004 total, Louisiana (169 percent), and North Carolina (129 percent).

Hmm ... can anybody think of something that those three states have in common?
And we have a week to go.

There are no pollster models to manage this kind of minority and youth turnout, and so many voters having already voted by election day. One of the interesting aspects on election night will be watching the networks trying to grapple with exit polling data they don't trust.

Generation 'We'

A demographic tidal wave the Christian White™ doesn't even begin to see coming.

McConnell Calls on Stevens to Resign

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has called for Ted Stevens to resign in the face of his felony convictions.
McConnell is the third vulnerable Republican lawmaker this cycle to call for Stevens’ resignation, joining Sens. Norm Coleman (Minn.) and Gordon Smith (Ore.). The GOP presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), and vice presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, have also called on Stevens to resign, as has Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).
I don't think Stevens has any intention of resigning before the election.

"Whack job"

Mike Allen at his Politico Playbook: "a top McCain adviser one-ups the priceless 'diva' description, calling[Palin] 'a whack job.'"


Monday, October 27, 2008

The Republican Disconnect

The second best thing the Democrats have going for them is the fact that the GOP really doesn't get it. Stan Greenberg did a national survey of self-identified Republican with an enlarged sample and the results are interesting.

Republicans have been overplaying their hand and overestimating their national support for some time. The GOP has yet to come to terms with the end of the cold war, and a nation whose demographics are changing in ways that favor Democrats.

As long the GOP believe that their future lies in the Christian White they are going to be doomed to minority status. This doesn't mean they can't win the White House on occasions of Democratic fatigue (or buffoonery) , but a Christian White party will never again control Congress.

Greenberg's key findings,
  • While a sizable majority of voters say Republicans have lost in 2006 and 2008 because they have been “too conservative,” a sizable plurality of Republicans say, it is because they have “not been conservative enough.”

  • Over three-quarters of Republicans say Palin was good choice, while a majority of the electorate says the opposite.

  • Two-thirds of Republicans say McCain has not been aggressive enough, but a majority of voters think they have been too aggressive.

  • Looking to the future, a large majority of Republicans say the party needs to “move more to the right and back to conservative principles,” while an even larger majority of all voters say, it should move to the “center to win over moderate and independent voters.”

  • Finally, almost 60 percent of Republicans say “if Barack Obama is elected, he will lead the country down the wrong path and Republicans should oppose his plans,” while 70 percent of all voters say they “should give him the benefit of the doubt and help him achieve his plans.”

Those on the left are not immune to similar problems. The bottom line is that Americans are moderates and the successful political party will be the one that best understands this simple rule.

What a kook

Check out the lunatic interviewing Joe Biden from the Orlando ABC affiliate, WFTV.