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[ 24 ] February 15, 2008 |

Perhaps the scariest teaser in the Ole Perfesser’s history, which is evidently saying something. And, apparently it’s as atrocious one would expect, complete with assertions that love is sort of like double-entry bookkeeping and whining about how “a woman can get pregnant outside wedlock, and still hound a man forever for child support.” The oppression is unbearable!

The "Significant" States

[ 189 ] February 14, 2008 |

Shorter Mark Penn, Union Buster (TM): “The states that vote for Obama are insignificant. In fact, the only states that count are our home state, California, Texas, and states that held straw polls we can retrospectively claim to be primaries, preferably with the candidate who would be soundly beating us if any of his victories counted excluded from the ballot.”

I can’t say that the thought of having this strategic mastermind in charge of a general election campaign fills me with great hope. It also seems to me that it would have been better for Clinton to take some of the 5 million smackers she’s paying to get advice from idiots and use that to actually advertise and/or organize in the “insignificant” states.

Straight Talkin’ Torture

[ 5 ] February 14, 2008 |

I’m not even going to pretend to be surprised that St. McCain is now facilitating the CIA’s use of techniques that are unlawful, including some that are torture even by Senator McCain’s own lights.” McCain’s public opposition to torture has been nominal when it comes to actually preventing (at least Republican) presidents from doing it for a while now. And since none of this will stop the media from almost uniformly lauding him as a principled opponent of torture with 100% more maverickitude, there’s no political (as opposed to moral) downside!

Don’t Forget About John Davis!

[ 17 ] February 14, 2008 |

Lanny Davis argues that the superdelegates were intended to be an “independent” check on the whims of those meddling voters. I’m sure this will convince Clarence Thomas, but since I’m not an originalist it seems to me that delegates are free to vote by whatever criteria they choose, which includes doing what’s best for the party, and which would therefore include ratifying a clear choice by the party’s voters. I’m also confident that this will, in fact, happen.

For comic value, though, Sirota notes this gem in Davis’s historical argument:

We were also reminded that before these reforms, the “smoke-filled rooms” of Democratic Party leaders had led to the nomination and election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson and John F. Kennedy.

Jeez, countless of tickets to work with and when picking random anecdotes he can’t even identify three decent candidates? It’s this kind of rhetorical skillz that have made Davis such an effective defender of progressive values on Fox News.

The Candidate of No Substance

[ 6 ] February 14, 2008 |

Via gratifying convert to the anti-McCain cause Jon Chait, John McCain and an equally well-informed candidate discuss policy:

Great Moments In Projection

[ 7 ] February 14, 2008 |

I was set to write a post about today’s MoDo. In today’s installment, she actually writes a couple of lucid paragraphs about the “media’s” sexist coverage of Hillary Clinton, while of course leaving out the little detail that she’s long been one of the major purveyors of said sexism. From there, however, she proceeds to the usual psychobabble and double standards that you would expect. Fortunately, Somerby has already taken care of it.

"The tree of progressive politics must be watered with the metaphorical blood of sellouts"

[ 7 ] February 13, 2008 |

I think this correctly assesses the significance of Donna Edwards defeating Al Wynn in the primaries last night, with the caveat that I get the sense that Wynn and a lot of blue dogs aren’t so much sellouts as just straightforward conservative hacks. Either way, while you have to live with blue dogs in conservative districts there’s no reason to tolerate them when they waste safe seats.

Meanwhile, although I am amused that Rudy!’s campaign manager has endorsed Clinton’s campaign strategy, presumably as recently consistent with his own (“1.Lose state after state by resounding margins. 2. ? 3. Victory!”), I also agree that burials of Clinton are very premature. Evidently, she’s not comparable to Giuliani, as 1)she’s actually won several important states, and 2)she’s a good campaigner well-liked by Democratic primary voters. Obama deserves to be favored because he’s generally increased his support as he’s had time to campaign (a primary reason, of course, why trying to claim that Florida can be treated like a normal primary just because lots of people voted is silly.) But Clinton can at least take a very close race to the superdelegates if she pulls of strong wins in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and these states are demographically favorable states in which she leads in the polls. These leads may evaporate as her leads in a lot of other states have, but until they actually do she has a reasonable chance of winning, and her buy option at 25 is probably a decent bet.

Potomac Tuesday Open Thread

[ 18 ] February 13, 2008 |

After New Hampshire, no blowout predictions or any such thing from me. However, VA already called for Obama.

…D.C. called for Obama at 8:00:01. This is probably not surprising.

…Democratic turnout appears to be roughly double Republican turnout. In Virginia. To put it more clearly, right now Obama is receiving more than 3x the votes of McCain. I know that the Republican race is supposed to be over, and that might depress turnout, but still…

…ROB: is it just my imagination, or is Pat Buchanan making sense? While I hope that the campaign doesn’t go negative, I think he’s right that in order to win Clinton needs to go on the attack right now. She’s not going to out-positive or out-likable Obama at this point.

…ROB: And for crying out loud, can’t either of them come up with a campaign song that’s not by U2?

Campaigns And Rules Matter!

[ 57 ] February 12, 2008 |

Josh Patashnik notes the vote-predicting regressions run by Pablano, which suggest that “if a normal campaign had been conducted in Florida just like everywhere else, there would have been a 12-to-14 point swing in Obama’s favor.” In some sense, this data is superfluous, because outside the necessity for desperate ad hoc pro-Clinton spin nobody would argue that no-stakes straw polls produce the same results as actual elections, or that campaigns in primary elections don’t matter. It should also be obvious that to cite the raw level of turnout as a reason why the non-election should be retroactively counted is to commit the same fallacy as the Literary Digest poll with a 2.3 million sample that had Alf Landon in a landslide over FDR in 1936. Not only would the size of the electorate had been different in a real election, but the composition of the electorate would different because vote preferences aren’t static.

Meanwhile, since we’re likely to hear more such desperation if Clinton doesn’t do well today, I suppose I should address this:

[A]n all time record voted.

Obama lost be 300,000 votes.

He lost. There will NOT be a new selection process.

Obama was ON the ballot.

Throw these results out at your peril. Florida will be lost to us.

Even if you agree that fundamental norms of fairness and legality should be violated to change the rules ex post facto to benefit a particular candidate and count a non-election as an election, this argument that we can’t afford to alienate Florida fails on its own terms because it ignores the obvious costs of such an action. Would a marginal increase in Democratic prospects in Florida be worth a convention battle that would tear the party apart? This is, to put it mildly, implausible. And, moreover, the assumption about Florida itself it highly dubious. What do you think that, for example, African-American turnout would be in Florida given the widespread (and correct) perception that Clinton stole the nomination? Do you think there’s much of a chance the Dems could win Florida under this conditions? Of course not. This dilemma might be a good argument that the DNC’s action against Florida was excessive, but to just change the rules in a way that would allow delegates from a non-election in Florida to determine the nominee would compound the error in numerous ways.

This may be unduly optimistic, but having said this I’m not too worried about this happening; I don’t think the people responsible for determining this have the kind of death wish for the party that some Clinton supporters do. The superdelegates will ratify any candidate with a significant lead in pledged delegates, the Michigan and Florida non-primaries will not count towards pledged delegates, and the delegates from these states will not be seated unless they can’t affect the outcome of the nominating process.

It’s The Media

[ 0 ] February 12, 2008 |

I agree with my colleagues about Krugman’s latest column, which is really unworthy of him. To add one more point, it should be noted that Krugman adduces exactly two pieces of evidence for his claims that Obama’s supporters are unfairly savaging Clinton. The first is about criticisms of Clinton’s LBJ comments. These criticisms were, I agree, stupid — sort of like Clinton’s surrogates bringing up Obama’s brief use of drugs as a young man — but 1)Krugman supplies no evidence that they’re “venomous,” and 2)the most prominent advancer of this argument was the New York Times op-ed page, a supporter of…Hillary Clinton. The second data point is the comments of David Shuster, which were indefensible but again I’d like to see some evidence that Shuster is an Obama supporter per se. And this is what’s so frustrating about Krugman’s column. It’s great to see someone in his position calling out the Whitewater non-scandal and the media’s treatment of Gore, but Krugman completely buries his very legitimate points about the media’s treatment of the Clintons by shoehorning it into his anti-Obama jihad, where it simply doesn’t belong. I’m sure there are isolated incidents of Obama supporters indulging in sexist attacks on Clinton, but I see no evidence that Obama’s Democratic supporters — as opposed to various media hacks — are generally playing by the “Clinton rules,” and Krugman certainly doesn’t supply any. And the fact that even his random anecdotes don’t actually support his position pretty strongly suggests that his central claim is false.

Wooden Puppet

[ 0 ] February 11, 2008 |

Good to see the fine folks in Tuscaloosa grasp what the Washington Post was unable to:

Michael Mukasey may have a distinguished career as a judge but as U.S. attorney general, he’s a loser. For all the interest he has shown in the duties of his new office, we may as well have a smiling wooden puppet seated in his chair.

Make that a partisan puppet. By his studied inattention to issues that might embarrass the Republican Party, Mukasey has made it abundantly clear that President Bush pulls his strings.

He has dodged questions on torture techniques advocated by Bush and Vice President Cheney; balked at acting on the firings of U.S. attorneys that led to his predecessor’s sacking; and dragged his heels on investigating the destruction of damning videotapes by the CIA.

His failure to look into an allegation that partisan political interests guided the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman is part of this dereliction of duty. Although he told the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday that it is inappropriate for politicians to try to influence criminal prosecutions, Mukasey admitted under questioning by Rep. Artur Davis that he has not looked into the Siegelman case allegation. He should. It is a serious charge that demands attention. An Alabama lawyer said in a sworn statement that she heard fellow Republicans discuss White House involvement in pursuing Siegelman’s prosecution. The officials she named have denied the charges, as have federal prosecutors in the case.

Obviously, this is an editorial board that needs 48 hours of immersion in High Contrarianism, stat. Don’t they know that the immense amount of leverage Congress will wield over Mukasey will force him to come clean and pursue ambitious reform projects?

Via Scott Horton, whose article about evidence regarding White House-coordinated selective prosecution in Alabama is very much worth reading.

Count The Votes Until Our Frontrunner Is Ahead

[ 0 ] February 11, 2008 |

Via Matt W., the fact that the GOP has “progressed from 2000 where they refused to count Democratic votes, to 2008 where they are now refusing to count their own votes” is indeed very amusing. It’s bizarre for a party to just announce a winner in a close race before counting every vote, and you also have to think that a court inquiry embarrassingly revealing and overturning a trumped-up Potemkin 25.5% “victory” would be far more damaging to McCain that just straightforwardly losing the WA primary in the first place.

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