Friday, December 21, 2007

What we're not hearing...

It seems like everyone I know in New York can't understand the rise of Mike Huckabee, the popularity of Ron Paul or the sustaining polls of John Edwards in Iowa. People are fed up with the way our government works. All they see is corporate policies destroying this country and want someone who will represent that in DC.

Huckabee comes across as someone like them and he always talks of his values. Ron Paul responds to the impotency the average person is faced with in the global world. John Edwards wants to fight the powers that be to fix things. Each of them represents a rebellion against the dominant paradigm. They're all somewhat damnations of the centralization of power on the coasts and in their cities across the country, and that's hard for the media (and us) to get our heads around.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Atrios basically got it

"Shorter Candidates

Obama: The system sucks, but I'm so awesome that it'll melt away before me.

Edwards: The system sucks, and we're gonna have to fight like hell to destroy it.

Clinton: The system sucks, and I know how to work within it more than anyone."

He's pretty close and that's my only problem with Obama, he's not very clear about how he'll bring us this future. He's got a vision, and he resonates with people - and this is strong.

He kills the cynic in a lot of us, but Edwards has my heart when it comes to policies.

I'm not really sure where I come down on this, but I like Obama better against Hillary, and I fear her running for president - because she can win and because she can lose - and I don't think that she's good for the nation doing either.

We're on the wrong path, and she doesn't change directions, it's Democratic Corporations against Republican Corporations (I'm still on the record with Romney here - who IS THE Republican Corporation). But don't get me wrong, I'll work my butt off to get that Democratic Corporation elected, if I have to - but I'm hoping I won't have to.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tom Tomorrow nails it

Hillary's John Kerry with different reproductive organs.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Is Hillary Imploding?

I can't believe that I actually feel this way, but she is acting out of such desperation I think that voters who take anytime to look at this past week would have to be disgusted.

First, Bill Shaheen implied that Obama's admission to prior cocaine use should make us worry about whether he had given it to friends, whether he had sold it, etc. All wild, racist and rehearsed bullshit. This was their attack on Obama. That he had been honest with the public over a youthful indiscretion. Now Shaheen is not a nobody. His wife is one of the most identifiable people in the state. He is extremely prominent as well. He knows how to behave when acting as a surrogate for a campaign. He's also clearly not ashamed to be the fall guy.

They fire Shaheen for the offense. But that same evening, Mark Penn (her chief advisor and pollster) is on Hardball parroting the lines. And he claims that Obama's been negative, when Obama's been running on the facts.

The whole implication of this entire incident is that Hillary is more disciplined than Obama and we don't know enough about Obama.

She reiterated this concept today on a program when she stated that she had been vetted. Implying that Obama was unknown.

This is beyond ludicrous.

1) Obama is appreciated for his candor and honesty. People like him because he is open about the good and bad in his past. Hillary isn't. So the public trusts him and they don't trust her.

2) But even crazier, she was married to the most vetted person in the country and her husband still got caught having an affair. Obama's too clean to bring this up, but the superficial bullshit in Obama's past is less offensive then her marital problems to most people. Even if they sympathize with her.

The point is, she smears him in a way that highlights her own weakness. Which puts the lie to her smear.

Which tells me she's getting desperate, because she has to know we're all fed up with these attacks, and yet she is trying as hard as she can.

After this performance, I'm really scared by the prospect of her winning. The lesson she seems to have learned from Bush is that she should try to run fearmongering, hateful, deceitful campaigns - just back them up with better policies. Bush felt the same way about himself.

Plus, now that she's playing dirty and cheap she included a smear that had racial overtones, offending a core constituency of hers, black voters.

I only hope this is the beginning of the end for her.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Some quick thoughts

My apologies for delinquency, now, thoughts:

1) Huckabee is awesome, come on Republicans nominate him. I'm sure the Dems can't defeat him. We all believe the earth is 6,000 years old.

2) No wait, I want Romney. Let's have a battle between those of us who believe in a secular society and those who believe in a theocracy. No chance we lose that. And oh yeah, he's a fucking two-faced plastic asshole (and I won't stoop to his level and badmouth his religion)

3) Wait Giuliani, in Jimmy Breslin's words "He's a small man in search of a balcony". Come on, I want him.

4) Wait, Uncle Fred. I want, wait a second... is he still running?

5) McCain, he's a principled man, I mean he really stuck to his guns on opposing the Theocons and neocons. Well at least he didn't compromise on the important things like torture.

Wow, even hillary can defeat these twits.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Wow, A rare back-to-back post!!!

My $.02 on the National Intelligence Estimate saying that Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapon program.

1) Hallellujah! - People, a lot of those reading this live in NYC, if any of these doomsday scenarios happen, we're in a lot of damn trouble. Nice to find out one of them has been made less likely.

2) There's something to be said for Bush's totally lunatical approach getting Iran to back down from a confrontation. That said, let's not pretend that total isolation is the only approach. There is engagement also, and the costs are much less. Attempting to isolate extremists does not often work (see Castro, Fidel).

The Media Narrative

Tomorrow Mitt Romney will address his religious beliefs in a major speech. This is being compared to JFK's speech on his Catholicism, which was widely viewed as a necessary step to establish himself as a real presidential contender.

I think it's all bullshit. For the past year plus the press has been harping on 'when's Romney going to give his JFK speech?' (I'd bet that if you googled that phrase there'd be a handful of verbatim quotes). Who cares? Mormons believe that Native Americans are the descendants of evil aliens so now Mormons don't smoke. Christians believe that Jesus was born from an immaculate conception and was resurrected and will allow all his true believers to live in some cloud like world. Jews believe that God gave an adopted Egyptian two tablets with words engraved that created society. It's all bullshit and none of the papers really care what he has to say.

The papers create a narrative (Hillary is the favorite, but first she needs to get challenged, then she needs to fight back, then by fighting back she proves she's the favorite). Romney's narrative is a great CEO with a circumspect religious belief is attacked by a lightweight Christianist (before you make fun of Romney realize that Huckabee believes the earth is under 6,000 years old), he then realizes the need to explain his beliefs. The public accepts the goodness in his heart and rallies to his side. Exeunt all.

This story was written a year ago, all that's needed is a couple of quotes (which will be provided gratis 2 hours before the speech). I don't know how the story will play out, whether Iowans will really accept him, but I do know the headlines on Friday will read: Romney addresses faith, Calms doubts.

Who cares? The guy is an empty suit.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

So what about the Dems?

So as I went into yesterday, the Republican race in Iowa looks to be between Huckabee and Romney and largely dependent on the strength of their field efforts. Just to put myself on the record, I've always believed that Romney would be the GOP nominee and I'm not changing that opinion. I also can't imagine him winning the primaries without a win in Iowa (a loss opens up the field in NH), so my money is on Willard Mitt Romney.

The Democratic side is even more intriguing. You have the same issue of deadlocked polling (the top 3 candidates are within 10 points in most major polls) along with the more complicated (and potentially surprising) caucus method that the Democrats employ.

While a lot of people want to paint this as a race between Hillary and Obama, that's ignoring how resonant Edwards' populist positions are, especially in Iowa. It also ignores the fact that Edwards has been building relationships in Iowa non-stop since 2004 and that he has the support of the majority of unions in the midwest. Plus, the relationships Edwards has cultivated has been among caucus goers specifically, raising his odds. Obama is reliant on bringing new people into the process (which I wouldn't bet against his doing) and Hillary is reliant on getting seniors to the polls. There are a lot of ifs for Hillary and Obama, Edwards is dealing with more of a known quantity as far potential caucusers go.

Then comes the complication, as I mentioned on Sunday, any candidate who fails to garner 15% of supporters in any given caucus releases his caucusers to his/her second choice. Will the Richardson/Dodd/Biden (R/D/B) supporters go to Obama, Hillary or Edwards?

The fact that they support people with experience has led Hillary to begin courting these caucusers, trying to become their second choice. She did this explicitly yesterday when she mentioned R/D/B and herself together in a sentence to juxtapose their experience against Obama. I also would not at all be surprised for Richardson to tell his supporters to make Hillary their second choice. (Want to guess why I no longer support Richardson? Playing footsie with Hillary does not go far in my book)

However, these supporters of R/D/B all have made a conscious decision not to get on the Hillary bandwagon. Although the experience claim does appear strong, Biden and Dodd seem to represent an embrace of internationalism that Obama would wholly embody. That said, Edwards' populism does not seem to have the potential to move these voters to his column.

So my point? I have none, except: don't count out Edwards. But I have no clue who is going to win.

Monday, December 03, 2007

So the polls don't matter?

Well, that's not quite the case.

We can find out the general sentiment in Iowa by reading the polls, just don't know who fits the likely voter model (which is the only poll that matters). Similarly, a blow out would be reflected in polling numbers. However, when you get within a few points of one another, the polls become somewhat worthless. That said, the polls are interesting because of how close they are and what they mean about the primaries.

On the Republican side (in Iowa), it appears to have become a 2 man race between Huckabee and Romney. Giuliani is polling in the low teens, which he claims to have been his plan. He has never put up a large broadcast campaign and has essentially written off the state. McCain has never been popular in Iowa (which is very conservative), despite his growing appeal nationwide. Thompson appears to have never gotten off the ground. Paul is still an afterthought in Iowa.

Heading up to election day the question is who has the better model of likely voters - Romney with his paid staff of campaign veterans who know how to mobilize on caucus day or Huckabee with his network of conservative churches. The polling is a toss up, so the question will be: who can get the bodies to the polls on caucus night?

Essentially, we're back to the question of the likely voter model, as both candidates seem to be about evenly popular and are using two completely different models of recruitment - churchgoers vs. members of the party machinery.

It's worth noting that they're now even as Huckabee has (forgive the term) surged: this may change now that he is at the front of the pack and his small government foes will attack him.

However, this may also be a re-alignment away from Romney by the evangelicals and Huckabee may go on to extend his lead. Point being: we don't fully know what the trend is, but if the two candidates remain deadlocked at the top, it will come down to mobilization.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Is this any way to run a democracy?

Hello faithful (or philandering) readers!

To gear up for the primary season, I have returned. This week I will cover the major storylines, so without further ado:

1) Who counts?: The Iowa caucuses are notoriously complicated and convoluted. While the Republican process is fairly typical for voting (the main differences being that there is a set time to vote and that the vote isn't binding - just a guide for the state delegates), the Democratic caucus requires a different level of dedication.

Voters show up and stand in designated areas to show their support for a candidate. If their chosen candidate should fail to meet a threshold of support (often 15%) in that given caucus room, then the supporters shuffle around and go meet with their second choices, until every candidate remaining is above the threshold. This is often a multi-hour process and has received notoriously low turnout. This low voter turnout severely skews polling as no one is sure exactly how to figure out who fits the model of the 'likely voter'.

The added wrinkle of a vote on January 3rd means that even past models of 'likely voters' are unreliable. There are no absentee votes at the caucuses, so vacations interfere. This year, college students will be at home. As you can see, it is a real crapshoot as to whom will attend.

This uncertainty plays itself out in several ways. In 2004, there were competing rationales relating to Howard Dean's insurgent campaign. On one hand, people looked at his supporters (young) and decided that his support was weak as most young supporters had never caucused. The flip side of that was that the passion of his supporters was so strong that some people believed that their passion would get them to the polls. We all know how this turned out (and it has nothing to do with the scream, which occurred at his caucus after-party). Dean and Gephardt (who had led in the early Iowa polling due to his union support) tore each other up, turning off a good deal of the electorate and allowing the myth of electability to coalesce around John Kerry.

One last footnote to this story, Dennis Kucinich was polling in the low single digits going into the caucus in 2004. In order to maximize his impact when it became clear that he would not win, he told his supporters explicitly who his second choice was. This allowed his supporters to peel off and coalesce around John Edwards, when he failed to reach the threshold of votes. We'll never know the extent to which Kucinich's move helped Edwards, but the fact that his supporters were able to move quickly and orderly to their second choice, must have helped in a handful of caucuses, and definitely contributed to Edwards surprise 2nd place.

This post is longer than I expected, so I'll be back tomorrow with part two which will cover the parties' races going on in Iowa.

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