I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Showing posts with label Democrats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Democrats. Show all posts

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Is It Really The Iraq War?

With the 10 year anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq there have been a number of conservatives and Republicans who think the war has tarnished the GOP brand.  I referenced Daniel McCarthy's piece in The American Conservative yesterday and Doug Mataconis has some thoughts on a few more today starting off with Ross Douthat's opinion piece today.   The Republican's predicament is being compared to the Democrat's problems post Vietnam War.  I am old enough to have been an adult in both situations.  While I can see parallels I'm not convinced it's entirely the parallels they are seeing.
First let's take a look at the Democrats post Vietnam.  I think there are 2 factors that led to the Democrat's woes after the war, one related to the war, one not so much and both were somewhat related to each other.

  • The first was the emergence of the radical left - the hippies if you will.  The radical left movement was certainly a result of the war but it scared the hell out of people and their association with the Democratic Party hurt the Democrats.  The voters simply did not trust them to govern.
  • The second was the Civil Rights Act.  Do you really think the South went from blue to red because of the Vietnam war.

It was a case of a majority of the population seeing the image of America changing.  The old morality and social order was dissolving before their eyes and they were afraid.
Now let's fast forward to the post Iraq war world.  Lee Atwater and Richard Nixon's "silent majority" has become the very loud minority. The country has moved on when it comes to civil rights, women's rights, gay rights etc.  So like the Democrats in the early 70s the Republicans no longer represent the majority of the American citizens.  While the Vietnam war was responsible for the emergence of the radical left it was the election of a black Democratic president that was responsible for the emergence of the radical right - the Tea Party.  Both were out of touch with the times.
Sorry Republicans, while the Iraq war was a mistake and mismanaged that's not your problem anymore than the Vietnam War was the Democrats real problem in the 70s.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Sequestration-Day One

The sequestration is here.  It's going to be painful and yes, as Obama says it is a stupid way to do things.  But it better than any alternative we are likely to get?  Matt Yglesias thinks it is.

But on the merits it seems to me that while sequestration is hardly optimal budget policy, it really isn't all that bad in the scheme of things, and really going through with it would be better than repealing it. The key reason is that fully half the cuts are cuts to "defense" spending, and yet nobody from either party is seriously trying to maintain that America will be left defenseless in the wake of this reduced military spending. The specific sequestration mechanism is clearly awkward and clumsy, but again nobody's saying the Mexican army is going to come swarming over the border to reconquer Santa Fe, that the Taliban is now going to be able to outspend the Pentagon, or that America's NATO allies are now left unable to fend off a Russian invasion. That's half the cuts with basically zeroreal public policy harm.
So then you look at the domestic side. Your basic transfer payments to poor people are spared, your transfer payments to the elderly are basically spared, and then everything else gets cut willy-nilly. That leads to some real policy harms. Valuable research grants are going to not happen. We'll see some real bottlenecks at regulatory agencies. But obviously there's some waste and fat in this domestic discretionary spending.
I think this is about right. I applaud the defense cuts but realize the domestic cuts will be painful but any replacement plan is likely to include cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
As originally designed in 2011, the deficit-reduction sequester splits cuts between defense and domestic spending, and explicitly exempted programs like Social Security and Medicaid. But no one in Washington believes the sequester cuts will be permanent, and liberals worry the deal Congress eventually reaches to replace it will slash funding to those programs — as Republicans and some Democrats have advocated.
"There's a broader concern about the fact that entitlements may get ensnared when we go to an alternative fix, [that] they won't escape," Rep. Jerry Nadler, a progressive Democrat from New York, told BuzzFeed. "I have heard that concern."
"Not only do we have the sequester, but we have to be thinking about the deal that replaces it as well," said Melissa Boteach, a director at the Center for American Progress. "Republicans have already begin to push hard for benefit cuts."
 With sequestration a realty Yglesias wonders why Obama struck a deal in January to avoid going over the fiscal cliff.
Now imagine an alternate universe in which everyone woke up on January 3 to discover sequestration in effect and the Bush tax cuts fully expired. Republicans would have wanted a giant tax cut, and a big increase in defense spending. Obama would have wanted a smaller-but-still-large tax cut, a smaller increase in defense spending, and a substantial increase in non-military spending. It seems like cutting a deal to cut taxes and increase both military and non-military spending could have been struck relatively easily. Yes, the country would have suffered from a week or two or maybe even five of excessive fiscal drag. But with everyone agreeing that taxes are too high and military spending too low, working something out where we raise non-military spending a bit more than Republicans want and in exchange cut taxes a bit more than Democrats want doesn't seem too hard.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

US worst-case scenario: going over fiscal cliff

US worst-case scenario: going over fiscal cliff (via AFP)
Letting the US economy go over the fiscal cliff would push the United States, and probably other countries, into a new crisis that political leaders now say they are determined to avoid. The fiscal cliff, a combination of mandated tax increases and spending cuts, will occur in January unless President…

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

But They Won't!

Matt Yglesias correctly points out that the Obama administration and the Democrats don't have to be held hostage when the rise in the debt ceiling comes up and he has a plan.

This isn’t a sudden “shutdown.” Nor is is true that we have to default on obligations to our bondholders. Rather, it means that government outlays are now limited by the quantity of inbound tax revenue. But for a while, the people administering the federal government (to wit Barack Obama and Timothy Geithner) will be able to selectively stiff people. So the right strategy is to start stiffing people Republicans care about. When bills to defense contractors come due, don’t pay them. Explain they’ll get 100 percent of what they’re owed when the debt ceiling is raised. Don’t make some farm payments. Stop sending Medicare reimbursements. Make the doctors & hospitals, the farmers and defense contractors, and the currently elderly bear the inconvenient for a few weeks of uncertain payment schedules. And explain to the American people that the circle of people who need to be inconvenienced will necessarily grow week after week until congress gives in. Remind people that the concessions the right is after mean the permanent abolition of Medicare, followed by higher taxes on the middle to finance additional tax cuts for the rich.

Of course this won't happen - because they really don't want to. Obama and the Democrats are owned by the same people that own the Republicans. We on the the progresive side used to say the Clinton was the best Republican president since Eisenhower. Well Obama has accepted the imperial presidency of George W. Bush which as I see it makes him the best Republican president since George H.W. Bush. While Clinton was to the right of Eisenhower Obama is to the right of Bush 41. He is owned by Wall Street and the military industrial complex. The most important paragraph in Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald's Crossing Zero is this:

By late 2009 it was clearer than ever that both Congress and the State Department had come to rely on the American military to set the policy agenda. In fact, it appeared that it might even be impossible for Washington to return to a civilian-orchestrated strategy of nation-building anywhere, after thirty years of militarily enforced privatized foreign policy schemes. An entire industry now existed to lobby against any efforts to reverse the trend, change the status quo or even to make private contractors accountable for the taxpayer money they received. A book by Allison Stanger, One Nation Under Contract, outlined the dimensions of a problem where the private sector had become a "shadow government" operating outside the law with billions of federal dollars, but little to no accountability for how or where the money was spent.

It's impossible for congress to reduce military spending because they depend on money from defense contractors get reelected - the best government money can buy. Of course the same thing can be said for the too powerful to fail banks. The plutocrats are in the drivers seat. If the Tea Party figures that out they may prove to be our salvation.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

About that permanent Republican majority

Karl Rove's dream was a permanent Republican majority. After nearly eight years of the Bush/Cheney cabal the reality is far different. Fewer Americans identify themselves as Republicans than at any time in the last 20 plus years. And when you look at those between 18 and 29 it looks even worse.
It's no secret that Republicans have a brand problem; the gap between Dem and GOP party identification is greater today than at any point since the vanguard of the Reagan revolution, when Republicans held a double-digit advantage. Researchers at Pew have put a decade's worth of data through their analytical minds and come to the conclusion that the leading edge of the Democratic edge is among young voters. This isn't surprising, but it is noteworthy. Consider: Voters under 30 in the Midwest are twice as likely to call themselves Democrats as they are to identify as Republicans. 63% of women under age 30 identify as Democrats versus just 28% who call themselves Republicans. Democrats even have the affiliation of a majority of young men.
As Jazz explains over at The Moderate Voice:
Among voters ages 18 to 29, in 1992 the split was 47 to 46 in favor of the Republicans. Today, Pew Research is showing that same demographic as breaking 58 to 33 in favor of the Democrats.


Politically, today’s cohort of 18-to-29 year olds came of age during the Bush presidency. It has turned them into Democrats.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The DNC Primary Process

A lot of people are sick and tired of the Primary by now and it seems even more are disgusted with the system the DNC uses. Hillary Clinton made sure the Primary was pushed up way early, she was campaigning in fund raising and national attention from the 06 election forward and the only chance anybody had was to come out early also. This isn't the fault of the DNC, it is simply a reality of having an "inevitable" candidate.

The stupidity of Florida and Michigan has been exposed for what it is, though blame keeps accruing to DNC. This cost should deter any further such behavior. If it does not, plainly natural selection will soon have to begin operation within State legislatures. There are some very good reasons the system is designed as it is, for Democrats.

Proportional delegate selection seems to offend some folks, they'd vastly prefer a winner take all system. There are some very nearly fatal flaws in such a thing for Democrats, it strongly encourages the 50%+1vote that Republicans favor and the Clinton/McAuliff crowd operate under. The upshot of that thinking is very narrow majorities, majorities that evaporate at the first opportunity and create the need for crisis manufacture. This also discourages campaigns from maturing, they are eliminated early and campaign stumbles are fatal. Depending on the point you pick in the path of the Primary so far, this could have killed either campaign before now. The biggest problem with a 50%+1 win is the number excluded from consideration, that 50%-1 can get pretty bitter about being ignored.

The small state start off offends nitwits like Florida and Michigan, they're ever so important they should get to go first. That is exactly the problem with them going first, only the heavily financed and well connected campaign will make it through a big state Primary, very nearly ensuring corporatist status quo candidates will be the only ones competing. While we might not be surprised that the Republicans prefer their campaigns to be such, Democrats don't - mostly. It means, at the least, the stifling of other voices in the campaign. Perhaps a Kucinich will never have a chance in a Presidential Primary, but his voice should not be silenced - it is an important part of Democratic politics (or pick your 2nd tier candidate to replace Kucinich in the statement). Sometimes a candidacy will take off because it is heard, Obama may not have had the resources to start out in a large state. That might please the Clinton camp at this point, but evidence shows it would not have been a good thing for the Party at large.

Once things like small state starts and proportional delegate selection are in operation the potential for near ties occurs. Two strong and appealing campaigns make it nearly inevitable so that means pledged delegates of nearly the same numbers would enter a Convention with no "out" available. This means a deal would have to be reached, a deal that would not be the result of a public winning of delegates unless you propose to go to the 50%+1 vote model. Under proportional delegate selection the +1 would represent the narrowest possible majority meaning an offense against the -1, a potentially more damaging result than having the Party's automatic (super) delegates be decisive.

There is an unfortunate misunderstanding of the status of the super delegates, they are elected by the people not some high powered insider clique. The Party insiders are elected by the State Parties composed of people elected by County Parties through PCPs who are elected by the residents of Precincts, the elected officials won State races as US Representatives, Senators, or Governors. These are not unrepresentative people, they simply are not elected in the Primary.

Caucuses have drawn the ire of many, particularly Clinton supporters. Caucuses have several advantages that are not considered, the first is affordability. MI and FL wound up disqualified because their State Legislatures decided to ignore the rules and make State financing of the Primary contingent on their date. A caucus could have been financed by a State Party, but not a General Vote Primary, the State Parties were hamstrung into going along in order to have such a vote (the truth is both State Parties wanted to go along, anyhow). A Caucus puts control in the State Party's hands, not the State government's hands - who by law cannot mandate a method - but can blackmail a result. DPO made it clear that rather than risk DNC sanctions the Party would caucus, the Legislature backed away, DPO refused to bow to any suggestion of blackmail and had the caucus alternative to do so.

The public nature and commitment required by caucusing has been blasted. The candidates wear a (D) after their name, it is a Democratic Party process and it is important that the candidate selected be Democratic in mindset. If the people involved in the process have to do so publicly and with a time commitment it pretty much ensures that people who have given the matter real thought will be the ones participating. Because the only requirements are a (D) and a commitment of time and dedication the process is not exclusive of anyone, it is simply most likely to attract the participation of those willing to put effort into it. I'll admit to preferring the wider participation of a General Primary, but an entirely reasonable wish that those included were more thoughtful and dedicated people than actually do participate. There is a trade-off and quite rationally the trade-off is narrow which ever side you come down on. I've heard people state that this violates the privacy of voting, it may not afford it, but it violates nothing. It is entirely legal and correct as a process of the Democratic Party, which is not the Federal Government.

If you want to play in Democratic politics you are simply going to have to accept a level of messiness. It is the nature of the Democratic Party, it is the nature of any Party that tries to be reflective of a wide membership. Sometimes that membership holds parties with directly opposed views, the 2nd Amendment is a perfect example of such a situation and the Party struggles to include both and it is a struggle. In many instances the tension between ideas results in better answers, sometimes only uneasy truces, and sometimes explosions. But this is the Democratic Party. The Republican model is something else and if it seems a bit more orderly, there is also the result of the last 7 years to take into that consideration. I will take the Democratic messiness.

In short, if you're looking for an efficient and orderly process the Republicans have one, and if it is that important to you to have it, all it takes is an (R) after your name and a certain fondness for the last 7 years to have it. If you think the Republicans have chosen good candidates with their system I suggest you reflect on who they've put up in your memory. I'm a Democrat and I'm not insulted that it's easier to herd black cats in a dark room with a stick than it is to manage Democrats, I happen to like it in fact. (I've never been impressed by sheep)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Senator Clinton And The Democratic Party, Where Now?

***Crossposted from Chuck for... This article has now had three days of play on Reuters through Blogburst/ so I'm not stepping on them posting it here now.***

Before the Texas and Ohio Primaries I stated that without a convincing win in one or both states Hillary should quit. She got that type of win in Ohio, ugly, but she got it. I stated afterwards that she should stay in because there is real value in a contested primary, the voters get a chance to measure judgment and character as well as policies; all the while allowing candidates to grow. A certain nasty undertone had followed the Clinton campaign since South Carolina, it flowered before Texas and Ohio and is now in full bloom. It is the ugliness of political opportunism. I suppose you're ready to read a call for a Clinton withdrawal.

You won't get that. I am sincerely disturbed and angered by the recent tacks taken by Hillary. They are an aspect of politics I'd much rather left to the Republicans, who have worked hard for and earned the disrespect of a large segment of society. They have the potential in this year, of all years, to splinter the Democratic Party and blow away gains in a large non-participatory piece of our electorate. There is a very real chance of serious damage to the DNC and the Dean vision of how to expand the Party's numbers and strength. Democratic dialogue has coarsened and lies and misrepresentations have been validated as strategy. This climate of opportunism run rampant occurs in a year where a campaign of principles and cool judgment and behavior could result in the gutting of the Republican machine. All these negatives outcomes and I'm not calling for a withdrawal or cease-fire?

It is absolutely necessary that this contest goes all the way to the Convention floor and the super delegates hands, with the States of Florida and Michigan right in the mix, however resolved or unresolved. The entire sack of dynamite goes to Denver, with the fuse lit. This is not a horrid foretelling, it is absolutely required by the state of the Democratic Party. We are going to have this out. We are going to use the process for what it was intended, to determine who and what the Democratic Party is. The process of proportional delegate apportionment is going to finally come into its own. The smaller pieces of State Parties are going have a say, the ability of underdog campaigns to flourish in that environment is going to come to pass, we are going to find some things out. We are going to find out where the Party officials and the elected Democrats want to go. We are going to find out what works and does not work in Democratic Party politics. The Howard Dean and the Terry McAuliff visions of the DNC are going to collide. This is going to be a brawl and it will go to the final round and end in a knock out. Sending the doctor into the ring will be pointless, because one is not going to get back up, ever.

That is exactly right. This time the fight is to the end. Some version of the Democratic Party is dead and done in Denver. November has ceased to be more than a coda in this work. The conductor has been chased from the podium by the percussion section and this song is driving hard and fast to the final crescendo. We are going to learn how the notes are strung and the result may be the end of the Democratic Party as we know it. This is the process, this is what all these years of political wilderness and dramatic and slight return of 2006 have been about. The fates of downstream candidates are going to be determined in Denver and the public perception of this latest Congress is going to play larger than anyone may have thought. The dynamics of an explosive confrontation have been building since the Clinton administration.

The elements are nearly worthy of a work of fiction. The victim hood of Hillary, the Bush destruction of what good came of Clintonism, the electoral career of Hillary, the ouster of the McAuliff faction at DNC and the Dean vision engaged. Swirling around these characters was the atmosphere set by an out of control Republican Congress rubber stamping an out of control President who bulldozed a Democratic Congress and there was fear. Fear and naked blatant fear mongering. Narration was provided by the Machiavellian Rove and the politicization of government to its bowels. And there was a new and charismatic black Senator. The mood is set, the characters in place, and the conflict defined.

There are four main actors in two separate and yet linked conflicts. The Dean version of grass roots small money all states bottom up responsibility against the McAuliff autocratic big money 50%+1 wins and consultant driven corporatism is the underlying conflict. The really visible actors are Hillary and Obama, two different visions of political practice. Both are politicians, no mistake, but Hillary offers up a school of political thinking that sees the vote margin gained now, through whatever opportunism, as the end political capital, one vote margin, however gotten, allows the political agenda to go forward with its ends justifying its manner of achievement. Disaffected voters for the opponent are dispensable, the purpose is the win. The Obama campaign predicates its win as based on the enlargement of the electorate and its activation as a political force, and not only its win, but its hopes of governing. It is the philosophy of inclusion to the extent of creating a public force for its agenda surpassing that of the opponent in the General Election. Such a campaign is restricted in scope in a Democratic Primary, it must by definition not be perceived as divisive or opportunistic and it must project an aura of reasonableness and concern for the opposition.

These conflicts would be explosive taken singly, they are not separate but linked and more than that they are each catalysts for the other. The Obama campaign set out on a 50 state strategy, mimicking the Dean operation and built solid and successful organizations everywhere it went. Along with that strategy was the idea that every voter counted and the creation of new voters counted and the only way to get there was to bring them something new and different. Proportional awarding of delegates rewards that strategy, losses are minimized and gains maximized. There is no base, there is the creation of an entirely new base, but this base is deeply skeptical of the old order. They are brought to belief reluctantly and once activated relentless, the fire of converts. They are a dangerous force, almost as dangerous to their creator as the opponent; a single instance of opportunism by their champion laid bare and they're gone. They are fierce in their opposition to perceived opportunism in their opponent.

Hillary was schooled in the nastiness of politics, what lessons of selective ethics she had not already learned before the White House were driven home there. Her hate driven persecution by Republicans over small time ethical lapses and her recovery from it with an ardent base taught the lesson that gains taken through virtually any means are only meaningful if you win. The shady dealings not only resulted in profits but were wiped out by surviving an all out assault. The Republican failure to achieve criminal prosecution became a success, it all went away except with the people who hated her for it and they were just short of a majority. (I am neglecting, deliberately, the skeptics) The strategy of 50%+1 is validated, you need only barely win and everything works out - your husband is reelected, you are a hero with book deals, and afterwards a Senate run. The woman the nasty Republican men tried to crush is victorious. But care must be taken to stay safe and unassailed, the 50%+1 means you are always walking a political tightrope, 50%-1 will not work and you've been a part of a Democratic bloodbath, already. Here is Terry McAuliff, the architect of 50%+1 and big money and master of DNC's string of losses and the evaporation of that money. Congress is a touchy deal, normally incumbency is a safety mechanism, but it you've widely depended on narrow support and the public mood shifts a little, you will be wiped out. Neither Party has sufficient registered voters to count solely on them for a win. The 50%+1 strategy counts on getting your members out, picking up some Independents and suppressing the turn out of the other guy and his piece of Independents. The Republicans have run this one hard. It depends on an enthusiastic base, a partial appeal to the middle and the demonizing of the opposition. The lower the general turnout the larger the effect of your base. The Hillary campaign knows this and runs with near 50% negatives, additional voters are only a threat, unless they fear the demon.

Where this contest has gotten was predetermined as soon as Obama started winning. The McAuliff strategy came up short and the inevitable candidacy had turned into a bust as the 50 state every delegate strategy rolled. There was only one alternative and that was the kitchen sink, suppress turnout and demonize the opponent while scaring the base. The party regulars must be appeased so the opponent's successes must be minimized, despite alienating voters. Illegitimate contests are touted, no matter the damage to the Party machinery - it already isn't in line with the campaign's strategy.

One of these philosophies is going to succeed and the linkages between the conflicts means that one or the other is dead as a candidacy and as a party methodology. If the divisive opportunistic philosophy wins, the Party will explode. The Dean and McAuliff models cannot coexist and the scorched earth strategy will not keep the activist new comers and idealists and may drive out long time loyalists who were not in the Clinton base. With the DNC already unfairly stressed by the Michigan and Florida debacles it will only take a little of Terry McAuliff to set off a wholesale exit and loss of income following the loss of reputation. A blown apart Party will not win in November and the chances of putting the wreckage back together will be small, downstream candidates will have suffered and no one will trust the Democratic Party with their visions again for a very long time. The destruction wreaked by an unreformed Republican Party over the next 4-8 years with an ineffective Democratic opposition will be fearful. The numbers of disgruntled Obama supporters who will bail in November is steadily climbing from the initial low numbers and there will be scant arguments to be made to them.

Within the Democratic Party this is a fight to the finish and there are two endings, and one really stinks. The entire Party from voters to super delegates needs to look carefully at where it wants to go and to remember that there are two potential victims in this, the Party and the Nation. The lines are clearly drawn, now.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Dems breaking the 50% mark?

As if the news for Republicans wasn't bleak enough this election season, a new AP poll has produced what appears to be an unusual benchmark.
AP Poll: More say they're Democrats

WASHINGTON - More people say they are Democrats than said so before voting started in this year's presidential contests while the number of Republicans has remained flat, a survey showed Thursday.

The poll showed 52 percent call themselves Democrats, up from 45 percent in an AP-Ipsos survey in mid-December. Thirty-five percent say they are Republicans, about the same as December's 37 percent.

I can't remember this happening before, and a quick Google search isn't giving me any good background. But in general, both parties tend to take numbers well below half with independents, moderates and third party voters making up the middle ground which both need to fight for. Coming into a hotly contested campaign, having more than half of the nation identifying with your opponent's party is troubling to say the least.

The linked article also touches on what I still feel is the bigger, but most under-reported story of this season.
There has also been far higher turnout in Democratic presidential primaries this year than in GOP contests, in part reflecting that Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama continue grappling for the nomination.

There are a number of districts in various states reporting primary turnouts for the Democrats more than 500% above the levels seen in 2004 or 2000, while Republican turnout remains relatively flat. These numbers, according to exit polls, include unprecedented rates of new voter registration, with many of these being people who have never registered to vote before.

Particularly in some of the purple - formerly red - states, GOTV could be the real "shock and awe" of this election. Enough new voters for one party can swing a state over which was formerly considered "safe" for the Republicans. It would be nice to see a presidential candidate carry the 271 electoral vote barrier by more than single digits for a change, providing more of a real mandate from the electorate going into their first term.

This is all, of course, still too early to call conclusive by any means, but the trends certainly look interesting. Then again, the Democrats are nothing if not famous for their ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, so we'll need to see how the primary battle plays out before drawing any more solid conclusion.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Hillary's Ongoing Campaign

There are those who believe Hillary should get out, I advocated that in absence of wins on March 3rd. She got those wins, not by margins that would make her particularly likely make the large changes in delegate total required to win, but she carried those states. What this says is that there are a significant number of voters wanting a choice. I don't like Hillary one bit, but I like voters and I like choices. Yes, I'd prefer better choices than those available, but these are the available choices. Democratic Party unity is not the question, this Party can take a campaign.

The Democratic electorate deserves a chance to look at candidates and make decisions. Decisions based on policies, judgement, and campaigning. The campaigns might take this as a shot across the bow, you are performing before a Democratic electorate, you disregard that at your peril. I loath the Clinton 3:00AM ad, if I'd been in doubt regarding my vote, this would have finished the decision. I cannot imagine that I am alone in this regard. At the same time, the Clinton baggage from Bill's Presidency needs to be addressed carefully, there is a significant difference between what the Republicans made of it and what was there. I don't expect the gloves to be pillows or even stay on, but the blows still need to stay above the belt.

Ron's analysis of the benefits versus drawbacks of a continuing campaign strike me as accurate. What this gives to the Democratic Party is the ability to keep what its values are in comparison to the Republicans' and particularly McBush out in front. This is important, BushCo and its successor McCain need to be held to public scrutiny for as long as possible. The current uncertainty of the identity of the Democratic nominee also plays in favor of the Democrats. The Republican smear machine is unable to focus on one and its smears about any particular candidate do not look particularly intelligent with two running. The only real access they have to the media is through Pres 27% and when they do something particularly stupid or nasty, such as Hagee or Cunningham. McCain is now strapped firmly to BushCo, he can make statements about his opposition to them, but they ring very hollow in the face of events and his Bush kisses. When BushCo criticizes either or both Democratic candidates it does no more than validate them in the minds of a large percentage of voters and strongly contrasts McCain as the standard bearer of losers.

Besides all this, I'd like to see Oregon play in this election in May.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

How Ralph Nader Could Get My Vote

If the House that is controlled by the Democrats gives in to Bush on the FISA bill and grants immunity to the telecoms I will be forced to agree with Ralph Nader that there is no difference between the parties. Now congress has been willing to pass the "Protect America Act" without telecom immunity but the Bush White House will not sign it without. Kevin Drum has observed that the telecoms themselves are not pushing for immunity or to be exact one of his readers and that reader thinks he knows why.
A couple of days ago I got an email from commenter/blogger bmaz proposing an explanation for this. To be honest, I sort of blew him off at first without reading his argument carefully, which I now think was a mistake. There's some guesswork in what he says, but he's an attorney with considerable experience dealing with wiretapping cases and he suggests that the reason the telcos don't care all that much about the lawsuits being pursued against them is because they almost certainly signed indemnification agreements with the feds back in 2001. Such agreements would force the federal government to pay any legal judgments awarded in suits against the telcos:
It is my contention that the telcos have just such indemnification agreements with the Administration/government, that we do not know about because they are classified and hidden, that so protect them for any liability and losses resulting from the litigation they are faced with; thus they do not need immunity to protect them from potential liability verdicts, they are already covered....As someone that has had dealings with such entities regarding bad/illegal wiretaps, I can attest that they always protect themselves vis a vis the governmental entity they are working for and are not shy about the use of indemnity provisions.
Now more than a few of us have suggested that the Protect America Act is really the protect the Bush administration act. If the telecoms are taken to trial much of the administration's illegal activities will be exposed. You can bet Karl Rove was spying on political enemies - think Watergate.
In the Washington Post today, Dan Eggen and Ellen Nakashima talk to some of the people behind the telco suits, and they don't seem to think that potential payouts are the issue either — which is why the telcos are remaining fairly low key about the whole thing. Rather, it's the Bush administration that wants immunity, and they want it because they're trying to keep the scope of their wiretapping programs secret:
"I think the administration would be very loath for folks to realize that ordinary people were being surveilled," said Kurt Opsahl, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed the lead lawsuit, against AT&T.

....Peter Eliasberg, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney involved in cases against AT&T and Verizon, said that if the cases proceed, the plaintiffs could submit an interrogatory to the carriers seeking answers to the questions: Did you turn over customer phone records en masse to the government? Did you receive a warrant or a subpoena?

Answers to those questions, he said, might reveal that "everybody in the country" has had their phone calls "combed through, and lots of people will be outraged."
As Kevin states this is guess work but it is Karl Rove and the Bush administration's MO.

So listen carefully Democratic members of the House. If you give into the Bush administration on this one you are no better than they are and come November I will just not mail in my ballot or vote for Ralph Nader and the Green Party or Libertarians in the House and Senate elections.

Glen Greenwald nails it:
There's very little point anymore in writing about how the Congressional Democratic leadership is complicit in all of the worst Bush abuses, or about how craven they are. All of that is far too documented and established at this point to be worth spending any time discussing. They were never going to take a stand against warrantless eavesdropping or the destruction of the rule of law via telecom amnesty for one simple reason: many of them don't actually oppose those things, and many who claim to oppose them don't actually care about any of it. That's all a given.

Monday, February 11, 2008

If I were a "super delegate"

I explained my feelings about the byzantine primary election system below. I agree it's broken - some think it's the super delegates that are unDemocratic, others think it's the caucus system. I agree with both of them. So what would I take into consideration if I were one of the super delegates? (It should be understood that I am leaning towards Obama at this point.)

This is what I would consider to make my decision:
  1. The popular vote in states that actually held a primary not a caucus.
  2. Who seems to have the most momentum at the time?
  3. Who has the lead in an average of national polls at the time?
  4. Who is most likely to be able to win in November?
You will notice that I don't take actual delegate counts into the equation. I don't really consider the caucuses to be anymore "Democratic" than the super delegates themselves. Even in state with a primary there is no consistency in assigning delegates based on the popular vote.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Are you going to let them play you like a fiddle?

Must read from Dave Johnson at the Huffington Post!
The Drudge Report is a right-wing site that is used to drive right-wing propaganda into the large, corporate media outlets. When a story is featured at the Drudge Report, you always have to ask why, and ask what is the right's intent behind getting this story into circulation.

Today Drudge points us to a story, Wilder Still Sore Over Clinton Comment. This story is obviously an effort to drive a wedge between supporters of Senators Obama and Clinton. It uses out-of-context, incomplete quotes and mischaracterizes the intent and meaning of the quotes to drive up tensions.


Are you going to let them play you like a fiddle? Keep in mind who the enemy is here. The stakes are high: If we let the primary contest divide us how many hundred thousand Iraqis or Iranians will be killed before the 2012 elections, how much more will corporations take over our democracy, how much more concentration of wealth at the top will we see? Please do not be fooled by this stuff! If it appears at DRUDGE, you KNOW something is going on.

Big Tent Democrat at TalkLeft points out that Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo is essentially doing the same thing when it comes to Hillary Clinton.
Talking Points Memo continues its very poor journalism on this story. Now Josh Marshall approvingly publishes an e-mail that falsely characterizes Hillary Clinton's letter to NBC News President Steve Capus as calling for David Shuster's firing. What is particularly egregious about TPM's work is it minimizes, even omits, the REAL point of the letter - that NBC has demonstrated an unbroken pattern of sexism in its reporting and commentary and Clinton's demand that this pattern be addressed.

At this point, it simply can not be denied, TPM is choosing to ignore NBC's egregious pattern of sexism. That is very bad of TPM and Josh Marshall. This is part of a pattern of malign acceptance of sexism that we must all fight against.

Update [2008-2-9 22:10:28 by Big Tent Democrat]: After its egregious journalism on this story, TPM NOW compounds it by simply lying. Yes, I am calling TPM liars. Their LATEST headline Says "Clinton Backs Off Firing Demand." They NEVER demanded it. ONLY TPM said FALSELY they demanded it. Shame on TPM. Shame on Josh Marshall. Disgraceful work.
And this from the comments section at TalkLeft:
My Exchange with Josh (5.00 / 3) (#96)
by andgarden on Sat Feb 09, 2008 at 11:54:27 PM EST

My original email:

I know you've gotten lots of mail about this Josh, but I think you're simply wrong. A straightforward reading of the text clearly shows that the Clinton campaign is NOT asking for Shuster to be fired.
It would also behoove you to acknowledge the real point of the letter: that MSNBC has long been a bastion of misogyny. Surely you must recognize this?

You should correct the record. If you don't, I will no longer take you seriously as a journalist--and I've been reading for a long time.

Josh's Response:

Andgarden -- these amount to threats. I've been doing this for a while. And what you realize is that the only way to do this job sanely and with integrity is to do your best to accurately report the news and not be buffeted one way or another by criticism or attacks, if they don't provide any evidence that makes the story appear different to me. So I'm going to have to stick with what I think she said. And you don't take me seriously as a journalist, I guess that's the price I pay for not changing a story I think is accurate.
And my response to his response:

Threats?! Talk about a "strained reading." Have it your way, just realize that you've become exactly like the bad journalists that prompted me to start reading you in the first place.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What To Make Of Democratic Super Tuesday

The winner is....a tie.

For delegate count with the Congressional Districts factored in it looks like essentially a tie. If that were all of it there'd be little point chiming in.

I'll state my bias up front, I do not like Hillary Clinton and it has nothing to do with the reich noise machine's hate bias. If most of what they hate were actually Hillary I'd like her more. Oh well, she's not and I don't.

Starting where things seemed to stand a week ago and Hillary was unstoppable something is becoming clearer, and it is something I've said before. Hillary does not wear well. If voters are exposed to her for sufficient amount of time, her so-called advantages don't impress. When she has to answer questions her tendency to try to play all sides to the middle is more obvious. When something is called into question she ducks, it is not her fault and everybody is just being mean. Made and broken deals are suddenly a matter of principle and the manifest unfairness lies with those she made the deal with to begin with. Most insultingly she claims power where she has none, though that may be evident only to those who work inside the system. People begin to notice that she claims credit for the good of the WJC administration and ignores or denies the shortfalls.

Obama on the other hand seems to spend little time blaming or ducking, some of that is because he sticks pretty closely to the Unity theme. The policy differences between them on domestic issues seem to come down to pretty negligible details none of which will survive Congressional messing about anyhow. The most striking policy differences are in foreign policy and that seems to come down to his lower level of bellicosity. Where there is outstanding difference is in tone and point of view, Obama's message of unity and looking forward is greatly emphasized by his relative youth and oratorical skills.

The demographics of votes seem indicative of a trend toward Obama, youthful voters favor him, men favor him, and he seems able to capture a near split of the white vote while heavily carrying the black vote. He seems weakest among Hispanic, older voters, and women, pretty much in that order.

While it will require care, some of the upcoming states should be receptive to his approach and some could easily be resistent to "Clintonism." Ohio has a sizable black population and was poorly served by the off-shoring that accelerated under Bill Clinton and was abetted by his trade policies. Care would need to be exercised in regard to that, swinging an axe at a fellow Democrat is not good politics. (it should be noted, it is a large and sharp axe and statistics hone it) Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas have all been home to some incredibly divisive politics, and that can be played to, particularly in regard to their failures to respond to very real problems.

Campaign funds will play largely and Obama seems to have an edge in that regard. His great improvement in vote gathering over previous polling should give him additional credibility and Hillary's slide from previous standing makes her look vulnerable. The inevitible candidate isn't. Obama's strong showing in some very white states begins to take some of the steam out of the can't win with whites argument, Bradley (??) effect or some such. Areas that tend to be forward looking, such as the West, broke pretty strongly for Obama.

I believe there exists a hard-core Clinton constituency that has some historical or gender loyalty to Hillary that will not be budged and it seems to be mostly rooted within the Democratic Party itself. There has been an element of polling support that seems to have been more rooted in name familiarity and media inevitibility mantra than actual enthusiasm and these appear to be wandering off. The media is currently enthused with the Obama come-back story and his "newness" which could evaporate if not fed. Possibly the greatest threat to Obama is a potential one rather than one extant and that is a slip up on his part could have huge repercussions. He absolutely cannot damage his image of Unity and forward looking.

My guess is that this race is not going to get settled soon or quickly, and I also sense that it is shifting in Obama's direction. I believe that the map is favorable to him, the decrease in pace and up-coming demographics are in his favor. My sense of a Clinton wear and tear effect may be more subjective than the rest of my analysis, but if it holds as seems evidenced that may be the biggest factor.

Obama supporters had best not rest on their laurels, this thing is still early days and Hillary Clinton has shown an ability to shift ground in a hearbeat and she has a good campaign. A year ago I predicted that Oregon's May Primary might count largely in this election, events are beginning to make that a better bet.

Thanks, Ron, I've owed you one for some time.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Democrats? A Poll

MEJ has a larger and broader political readership than "Chuck for..." so I'll ask this here:

Who will win the Democratic Primary
pollcode.com free polls

Now differently:

Who best reflects the Democratic Party values
None of the above
pollcode.com free polls

I'm interested to see how this plays out. Please play along.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Yet another power play

This is yet just another tyrannical power play by the Bush/Cheney cabal.
In Surprise Step, Bush Is Vetoing a Military Bill
CRAWFORD, Tex. — For months President Bush harangued Democrats in Congress for not moving quickly enough to support the troops and for bogging down military bills with unrelated issues.

And then on Friday, with no warning, a vacationing Mr. Bush announced that he was vetoing a sweeping military policy bill because of an obscure provision that could expose Iraq’s new government to billions of dollars in legal claims dating to Saddam Hussein’s rule.


In a “statement of disapproval,” or pocket veto that lets the bill expire on Dec. 31, Mr. Bush said that the provision could result in preliminary injunctions freezing Iraqi assets in American banks — $20 billion to $30 billion, according to a senior administration official — and even affect commercial ventures with American businesses.
Of course The New York Times fails to mention that since the Senate is officially in session the "pocket veto" is not legal but of course this means nothing to the mobsters in the Bush administration who continue to shred the constitution. But I'm sure that Benito Giuliani approves.

So what should the Democrats do? The situation in Iraq, Afghanistan and the entire region is going to rapidly deteriorate in the next few months. If the Democrats do anything to obstruct the financing of the wars they will be blamed for that deterioration. On the other hand if they let Bush win this one it will be yet another step down the road to a tyrannical unitary executive. The Democratic "leadership" in both the House and the Senate was incompetent from the very beginning and it's too late to do anything about it now. They find themselves between a rock and a hard place with no place to go. As a result Bush will once again get what he wants.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What to do?

I have spent a lot of time discussing the circular firing squad that is the Republican race for the presidential nomination. But what about the Democrats? A few months ago a Giuliani - Clinton race seemed almost inevitable. Well Rudy is sinking and Hillary is sitting a lot lower in the water. Matt Stoller reports that Hillary has a lower approval rating now than she did in 2000. Why is this? There is the irrational hatred of the Clintons on the right but that really hasn't changed any. Hillary is too hawkish and too corporatists for many on the left. Over at The left Coaster eriposte reports on attacks on Hillary from the left, much of it from the Obama campaign although they deny it. So what about Obama? As you know I am no fan of Hillary or Obama. Obama seems to be rising and Frank Rich looks at why.
This movement has its own religious tone. References to faith abound in Mr. Obama’s writings and speeches, as they do in Oprah’s language on her TV show and at his rallies. Five years ago, Christianity Today, the evangelical journal founded by Billy Graham, approvingly described Oprah as “an icon of church-free spirituality” whose convictions “cannot simply be dismissed as superficial civil religion or so much New Age psychobabble.”

“Church free” is the key. This country has had its fill of often hypocritical family-values politicians dictating what is and is not acceptable religious and moral practice. Instead of handing down tablets of what constitutes faith in America, Romney-style, the Oprah-Obama movement practices an American form of ecumenicalism. It preaches a bit of heaven on earth in the form of a unified, live-and-let-live democracy that is greater than the sum of its countless disparate denominations. The pitch — or, to those who are not fans, the shtick — may be corny. “The audacity of hope” is corny too. But corn is preferable to holier-than-thou, and not just in Iowa.
A majority of Americans remain religious/spiritual but after seven years they don't like the march to theocracy they have witnessed. Church free religion and a church free government is what many want - again.

Now I still see Obama as an empty suit. George W. Bush was an empty suit who surrounded himself with the craziest of the crazies - the neocons and the theocons. An Obama presidency would be determined by who and where he choose to get advice and policy. That at the moment remains an unknown.

So what to do? The most important thing to do is make sure that the House and the Senate are not full of members who will be little but sycophants for the President regardless of who that might be. Here in Oregon we need to make sure that we have a new Senator in 2008. One who will be independent of the President regardless of party. I see Jeff Merkley as the one most likely to make that happen.

Monday, December 10, 2007

President Biden

I discussed the Republican race for the presidential nomination below. Is a brokered convention is the Republican's future? Well how about the Democrats? Are they in any better shape? Maybe not.
Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) -- To appreciate Hillary Clinton's fundamental political problem, consider the 11 Democrats from Philadelphia who gathered last week to discuss the U.S. presidential race, almost all of whom would vote for her in a general election.

The focus group was moderated by an expert on such forums, Democratic pollster Peter Hart. The participants were informed and enthusiastic about their party's prospects, had no interest in the Republicans or third-party candidates, and were about equally balanced between front-runners Clinton and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.

When Hart pushed the group during a two-hour conversation about the strengths and weaknesses of the two candidates, a different picture emerged.

Obama, they worried, can't win the nomination; voters aren't ready for an African-American president (a point expressed most directly by the two black women participants), and he may not be sufficiently experienced.

A couple of victories in Iowa and New Hampshire would cure most of those problems.

The concerns about Clinton, 60, a New York senator, are that she is devious, calculating and, fairly or not, a divisive figure in American politics.

Those are a lot tougher to overcome.
Hillary certainly qualifies as a divisive figure. The name Clinton is itself enough to drive right wingers into an irrational rage. If you thought Kerry had swift boaters just wait and see how many of them will crawl out from under rocks if Hillary gets the nomination. I still see Obama as an empty suite who has a tendency to self destruct. So is there a dark horse who will emerge from a brokered Democratic convention and who might that be?
Biden Plans Television Ads in Iowa
WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden plans to air television ads in Iowa on Wednesday, touting his plan to end the Iraq war and his history of overcoming personal tragedy.

With the pair of ads, which will cost more than $1 million to run, Biden will seek to bolster his candidacy in the weeks before Iowa's Jan. 3 caucuses.

The Delaware Democrat, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is running fifth among Democrats, behind Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards and Bill Richardson, according to a recent Des Moines Register poll.

One of the ads describes Biden's five-point plan to foster political reconciliation in Iraq, including increased reconstruction aid and regional diplomacy that he says would allow U.S. troops to come home. The ad also will note Biden's "ability to build a consensus around his exit strategy" by co-sponsoring a Senate resolution that calls for Baghdad to limit the power of its federal government and give more control to Iraq's ethnically divided regions, said spokesman Larry Rasky.

A second ad will focus on Biden's life experiences and "how that prepares a candidate for the challenges that the country is facing," Rasky said. They include the loss in an auto accident of Biden's wife and infant daughter when he was a young senator, and his later struggle to recover from two near-fatal brain aneurysms.
Now there is a lot not to like about Joe Biden like his ties to the very crooked credit card industry. But he's looking more attractive all the time. Neither Hillary or Obama are what I would consider progressive or likely to look out for the average American. I don't see Biden as being any worse or any better but he doesn't have the baggage of Clinton and a lot more experience than Obama.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The New Liberalism

I think this article in the LA Times is pretty close to the mark.
The gentry liberals
After decades on the political sidelines, liberalism is making a comeback. Polls show plunging support for Republicans and their brand of conservatism among young, independent voters and Latinos. But what kind of liberalism is emerging as the dominant voice in the Democratic Party?

Well, it isn't your father's liberalism, the ideology that defended the interests and values of the middle and working classes. The old liberalism had its flaws, but it also inspired increased social and economic mobility, strong protections for unions, the funding of a national highway system and a network of public parks, and the development of viable public schools. It also invented Social Security and favored a strong foreign policy.

Today's ascendant liberalism has a much different agenda. Call it "gentry liberalism." It's not driven by the lunch-pail concerns of those workers struggling to make it in an increasingly high-tech, information-based, outsourcing U.S. economy -- though it does pay lip service to them.

Rather, gentry liberalism reflects the interests and values of the affluent winners in the era of globalization and the beneficiaries of the "financialization" of the economy. Its strongholds are the tony neighborhoods and luxurious suburbs in and around New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco and West Los Angeles.
I think the reason for this is that educated Americans are not happy with what happened to a Republican Party taken over by psychopathic neocons and Taliban like Evangelical Christians.
Although many of the newly affluent are -- as is traditional -- politically conservative, a rising number of them are turning left. Surveys done by the Pew Research Center indicate that an increasing number of households with annual incomes greater than $135,000 -- the nation's top 10% -- are moving toward the Democrats. In 1995, there were nearly twice as many Republicans (46%) as Democrats (25%) in this category. Today, there are as many Democrats (31%) as Republicans (32%).

The political upshot is that Democrats now control the majority of the nation's wealthiest congressional districts, according to Michael Franc of the conservative Heritage Foundation.

In part, this is because the Democratic gains in the 2006 elections were in affluent districts once held by the Republicans. In Iowa, for instance, the three wealthiest districts now send Democrats to Washington, and the two poorest are safe Republican seats.
So if you are a traditional working class Democrat you are probably not going to get a lot of help from this new Democratic Party.
The ascent of gentry liberalism remains largely unchallenged, in part because of the abject failure of the Republicans to address middle-class aspirations in a serious way and in part because of the absence of a strong pro-middle-class voice among Democratic presidential contenders, with the exception of former Sen. John Edwards. As a result, Democrats are unlikely to stop, let alone reverse, the current economic trend that dispenses major benefits to gentry-favored sectors such as private equity firms, dot-com giants and entertainment media.

Over the last half a century, liberals have moved from strong support for basic middle-class concerns -- epitomized by the New Deal and the G.I. Bill -- to policies that reflect the concerns and prejudices of ever more elite interests. As a result, neither party speaks for broad middle class concerns.

The nation deserves better than that.
This brings us to Climate Change and peak oil. As I have said here before I don't believe that anything significant will be done to address these problems. Hybrid cars, bio fuels and the sham of carbon offsets are not solutions. The only solution is major lifestyle changes and while the new liberals may have a green cast they are unwilling to make those changes.
But gentry liberalism's increasingly "green tint" distances it the furthest from the values and interests of the middle and working classes. Leading gentry liberals, whether on Wall Street, in Hollywood or in Silicon Valley, are among the greatest scolds on global warming. They justifiably excoriate the Bush administration for its overall environmental record, but some of them -- movie stars, investment bankers, dot-com billionaires -- are quick to insulate themselves from charges that their private jets or 20,000-square-foot vacation homes in Nantucket spew prodigious amounts of carbon dioxide. Repentance typically includes the purchase of carbon "offsets," parcels of rain forests, hybrid vehicles or solar panels.
Here in the Pacific Northwest they are still building three to five thousand square foot houses where they would have been building twelve to sixteen hundred square foot houses a few years ago. My wife and I raised two sons in a fifteen hundred square foot house and we had plenty of room and less to heat, cool and clean. When I was growing up in NW Portland there were four grocery stores within walking distance of my house. Today you must drive to the store because the nearest "super center" is two, three or five miles away. The only way the issues of climate change and peak oil can be addressed is with major lifestyle modifications. I don't see that happening and I don't see the new liberals making it happen.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Mission Accomplished Again

I see that Don Surber has not heeded the advice of his wiser colleague Rick Moran and has donned his own manly codpiece and declared "mission accomplished". Sorry Don, while violence may have temporarily been reduced to the same levels it was a couple of years ago the surge is still a failure as the Iraqis are no closer to political reconciliation than they were a couple of years ago. As I recall that reconciliation was the goal of the surge - not a few less bodies on the street. The New York Times got it right yesterday.
Still No Way Out
There has been so much horrible news out of Iraq for so long that it is natural to want to celebrate better news. Sending another 30,000 American troops into Iraq has made life better: attacks are down, as are the number of American and Iraqi casualties. Some refugees are even venturing home. The news has cheered Americans and dampened Democrats’ enthusiasm for keeping up the pressure on Iraq policy. Unfortunately, it is just as important to look at what has not happened since President Bush announced his surge: Iraq’s leaders are no closer to making the political deals that are the only hope for building a self-sustaining peace.

Without a serious effort at national conciliation, American troops are just holding down the lid on a pressure cooker. Iraq’s rival militias, the insurgents, the bitter sectarian resentments and the meddling neighbors haven’t gone anywhere. Consider this all too familiar horror: yesterday, police said they pulled six bodies from the Tigris River about 25 miles south of Baghdad. They were handcuffed and showed signs of having been tortured. And five, including a child, had been beheaded.

Perhaps 160,000 American troops could hold down the overall casualty numbers indefinitely, but they cannot wipe away that sort of hatred. That’s the job of Iraq’s leaders. Either way, the American military doesn’t have enough troops for such an occupation without end, and the American Treasury can’t keep spending $10 billion a month to maintain it.

Mr. Bush’s escalation was sold as a way to buy Iraqi politicians breathing room to finally address the problems driving the sectarian violence: by agreeing on an equitable division of oil wealth, rules for provincial elections and ways to bring more Sunnis and former Baath Party members into the Shiite-dominated government.

Instead, Iraq’s politicians — and their American backers — have squandered the time and the best efforts of American troops. Mr. Bush’s generals are so frustrated that they’ve begun to complain publicly about the fecklessness of Iraq’s leaders. The ever-feckless White House, rather than looking for ways to compel Iraq’s leaders to perform, is lessening the pressure.
And then we have this from the man who would be king.
On Monday, Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed a declaration pledging that their governments would put in place a long-term political and security pact sometime next year. "The shape and size of any long-term, or longer than 2008, U.S. presence in Iraq will be a key matter for negotiation between the two parties, Iraq and the United States," Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the White House official in charge of Iraq war matters, said at the briefing unveiling the agreement.

What Bush will almost surely be pushing for is permanent U.S. bases in Iraq, enshrined in a pact he can sign a few months before he leaves office. And here, as they used to say, is the beauty part: As far as Bush is concerned, he doesn't have to seek congressional ratification for such an enduring commitment of American force, treasure and lives.
Of course this will be an empty and meaningless agreement since it won't be approved by either the US Congress or the Iraqi Parliament. Both Bush a al-Maliki are at least smart enough to know they will never get that kind of approval. Bush has thrown the Republican candidates another boat anchor - they either have to distance themselves from the agreement and piss off the 24 percenters they need to win the nomination or piss off everyone else and lose the general election. The best way for the Democrats to handle this issue is to point out that without congressional approval it is non-binding.

Meanwhile it would appear the the Demcrats may have finally grown a pair.
Pelosi won't budge on troop pullback dates in war funding bill
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A top Democrat who had hinted that a compromise on war funding was possible appeared to back away from the idea Friday as the Democratic congressional leadership refused to consider it.

On Thursday, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, said he and the White House Iraq coordinator Gen. Douglas Lute discussed a compromise in which Congress would provide additional funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan if the administration accepted readiness standards for the troops sent into battle and a ban on the use of torture.

The Democrats' part of the compromise would be to extend the time period in which they would demand that troops be withdrawn from Iraq, Murtha said.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi showed no sign of accepting such a compromise and said the Democratic Congress would not pass a war funding bill other than the one that had already passed the House.

"We have provided every penny that is currently necessary to fund Defense Department operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world," Pelosi said. "It is President Bush and his Republican allies in the Senate who are preventing extra funds from reaching our troops."

On Friday, Murtha appeared to back away from supporting the compromise, saying "the fact remains that the war in Iraq cannot be won militarily" and that the Iraqi government has failed to capitalize on "window of opportunity" created by the additional U.S. troops.

Murtha and called for "an orderly redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq as soon as practicable."

"The House of Representatives has passed a $50 billion funding bill that provides the president, our troops, and our nation with a responsible plan for bringing our troops home," Murtha said. "The president should heed the advice of the American people and allow this funding bill to become law."
It's about time.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Clinton Poll Slide

A recent Zogby Interactive poll shows Hillary has slid in polls matching her with possible Republican candidates in the Nov 08 election, and the slide is bad enough that she' behind the top 5 Republican candidates. Reuters reporting also shows Edwards and Obama (I alphabetize because I haven't picked -other than not Hillary) still leading all Republicans. There are those who will wail right wing demonizing, that's not the case, the harm is two fold, the left base is gagging and the Independents want something new. It isn't the dirty stuff the Republicans pull on Democrats; if it were, the Edwards and Obama polling would show it, and both have been Republican targets, some of it darn dirty. Hillary's high negatives are no secret and quite frankly some of those in that group aren't there for good reasons, but she is not something new, she is DC central all over again. She keeps stating that her positions for years make her a good progressive, the problem is that when it was just talk as First Lady that's what we heard, but when it was 'real' as a Senator, things changed.

I don't dislike Hillary because the Republican dirt machine convinced me of anything, it may have increased my affection for her, her record and her associates persuade me she's old bad news. The media in their frenzy to have a horse race analysis of the Primary and to anoint a Hillary presumptive failed to look at the numbers in an analytic manner. Yes Hillary has led the Democratic field, but not with majority numbers, rather a "horse race" first which looks at politics as though highest number means winner. First in the 40% bracket with 6 other candidates doesn't mean you win, it means 60% back somebody else, even when that person is lagging and written off by the media. Looked at from the Democratic electorate position rather than the 'neutral' media position that means that a large piece of the 60% are in the anybody whatever other than Hillary. Looking at the high negatives that may mean that almost the entire 60% will go elsewhere. Her slippage against the other Democrats bodes ill with these numbers coming up, enough Hillary supporters are only there due to her perceived strength against a Republican and her name recognition that slippage may turn into plummet.

The Hillary inevitability looks even worse with the delegate apportionment of the Democratic Primary, she can't take the convention without 50+% and that leaves those left standing to horsetrading and Hillary even without these kinds of H/Republican numbers might not have any trading goods with these folks. Edwards would not trade delegates for another VP slot, I don't believe he much liked it the last time and certainly not as Hillary's VP, Obama might think about it, but teaming with Edwards would probably be more attractive, even as a higher delegate count VP in the face of Hillary VP. Richardson is a huge question mark, but he's staying in at this point despite lagging badly and Hillary's best offer may not be able to best E&O. The very bottom tier will have its desires to be met, and in their case Hillary is the least likely to have what they want to offer to them.

I've been saying this stuff for some time, these new poll numbers make it look a bit more likely. I'm no seer and I'm also not some nationally recognized political analyst but I think there's not much wrong with this.