Saturday, November 03, 2007

Why Do Universities Get a Liberal Rep?

All I know is, when I was in school, I was never offered extra credit for burning an American flag:

On the first day of class, associate professor Paul Grosswiler offered the credit to members of his History of Mass Communications class, according to sophomore Rebekah McDade. Disturbed by the comment, McDade dropped the class and intends to take the course again next semester with a different professor.

"I was offended," McDade said Friday. "I come from a family of military men and women, and the flag and Constitution are really important symbols to me because of my family background."

In an e-mail responding to a request for comment from the Bangor Daily News on Friday, Grosswiler said he thought McDade misunderstood the class discussion, which was intended to elicit thought about the First Amendment. He said he has held this same discussion for years without incident.

"I don’t intend for students to burn either the Constitution or the flag, and over the years hundreds of students have understood that," Grosswiler wrote...

When Grosswiler listed the extra-credit opportunities, McDade said the class of approximately 50 students grew very quiet, and some questioned whether he was serious.

At first, student Kathleen Dame said she thought Grosswiler was joking, but then he went on to explain to the class that burning the flag was not illegal. While Grosswiler approached the topic in a serious manner, Dame said she felt he used it as a tool to educate the class on the First Amendment.

"It was pretty outlandish and [he was] trying to prove a point," Dame said Friday.

While McDade said she would not be surprised if students followed through with the flag burning, Dame disagreed.

McDade made other claims about Grosswiler's presentation that are not references in the news article above:

According to McDade, Grosswiler had already claimed that free speech didn’t exist in America anymore because "the Republican administration has made it all but illegal."

"I was trying to listen to what he had to say about the course but he just kept making politically biased comments – all strongly liberal," said McDade.

When McDade left the class she was concerned that as a conservative she would be unable to participate fully in the class because of Grosswiler’s blatant bias. When Grosswiler’s left-wing outbursts continued in the next class, McDade left the class and asked her advisor if she could take the class another semester with an objective professor. The advisor agreed to her request.

As far as I can see, this is just a 'he said/she said' case right now; I see Professor Grosswiler's page lists his scholarly writings, but I don't see them available for review on the web.

Read also Right Wing News, Stop the ACLU, and Daily Pundit.

Hillary Clinton: Wimp, Victim

Mickey Kaus has more on Senator Clinton's attempt to play the victim card:

It's never attractive for a frontrunner, male or female, to complain about "rough treatment," especially if it comes in the form of mere questioning--and Russert's illegal-license question was standard fare. Adding an implicit gender charge to the Hillary response didn't make it any better. (By attempting to get away with something--complaining--that male pols can't get away with, she arguably made it worse: a claim of special privilege.) ... In other words, Hillary's damned if she does complain. But she's not damned if she doesn't complain. Indeed, not complaining seems like an easy way to project toughness without being seen as "harsh and shrill."
Barack Obama has criticized Hillary effectively on this point:
In an interview with NBC, Obama scoffed at the New York Democrat's complaint that she was being forced to "compete in the all-boys club" of presidential politics, saying he would never use his race -- Obama is black -- to shield him from political attacks.

Obama's comments marked the first time that the undercurrent of identity politics has become an issue of open contention between the two trailblazing candidates.

"I am assuming and I hope that Sen. Clinton wants to be treated like everybody else," Obama said on the "Today" show.

Referring to debates where he has come under attack, Obama said, "I didn't come out and say, 'Look, I'm being hit on because I look different from the rest of the folks on the stage.' "
He could have been more pointed, but it's something.

Edwards' campaign has prepared a very effective ad:



As has the RNC:



And what is the immediate result of all this? Hillary has gained 5 points. I think that's likely to change, but we'll have to watch and see.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Kucinich Puts Pelosi on the Spot on Impeachment?

Dennis Kucinich has filed a privileged resolution to impeach the Vice President.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) announced today that he will be offering a privileged resolution on the House floor next week that will bring articles of impeachment against the Vice President, Richard B. Cheney.

“The momentum is building for impeachment,” Kucinich said. “Millions of citizens across the nation are demanding Congress rein in the Vice President’s abuse of power.

“Despite this groundswell of opposition to the unconstitutional conduct of office, Vice President Cheney continues to violate the U.S. Constitution by insisting the power of the executive branch is supreme...

The privileged resolution has priority status for consideration on the House floor. Once introduced, the resolution has to be brought to the floor within two legislative days, although the House could act on it immediately. Kucinich is expected to bring it to the House floor on Tuesday, November 6

Reasonable people might ask themselves 'gee, if it was this easy to force a vote on impeachment, how come it's never happened before?'

The answer is in the House rules.

This excerpt
is from 'A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House.' published by the House of Representatives just a few years ago. Here is what it has to say about privileged resolutions:

Questions of the privileges of the House are brought before the House in the form of a resolution. Under rule IX such a resolution is privileged when called up by any Member. However, its privilege is subject to a two-day notice requirement, which must include an announcement of the form of the resolution. Such announcement may be dispensed with by unanimous consent. The Speaker designates the time for consideration within two legislative days after the announcement, which may include immediate consideration. Under rule IX the Majority and Minority Leaders are excluded from the notice requirement. They may offer the resolution at any time, yielding only to the motion to adjourn. The form of the announcement follows:

Form

Member (other than Majority or Minority Leader): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to clause 2(a)(1) of rule IX, I rise to give notice of my intent to raise a question of the privileges of the House. The form of the resolution is as follows: [Note: The Member may read the resolution in full or may ask unanimous consent to dispense with the reading.]
Speaker: Under rule IX, a resolution offered from the floor by a Member other than the Majority Leader or the Minority Leader as a question of the privileges of the House has immediate precedence only at a time designated by the Chair within two legislative days after the resolution is properly noticed. Pending that designation, the form of the resolution noticed by the gentle____ from ______ will appear in the Record at this point. The Chair will not at this point determine whether the resolution constitutes a question of privilege. That determination will be made at the time designated for consideration of the resolution and the gentle____ will be notified.

The form of calling up the resolution follows:

Form

Member: Mr. Speaker, I rise to a question of the privileges of the House, and offer a resolution announced on ______.
Speaker: The gentleman submits a resolution relating to the privileges of the House, which the Clerk will report.
Opponent: Mr. Speaker, I make a point of order that the gentleman does not present a question of privilege.
Speaker: The gentleman presents a question of privilege, and is recognized. [Or] The Chair will entertain argument as to whether the resolution constitutes a question of privilege.

Under rule IX, a question of the privileges of the House having been raised, the Speaker initially decides whether the question presented constitutes a question of the privileges of the House, and rules as to the validity of the question raised. He makes this decision at the time the question of privilege is called up, not at the time notice is given. Appeal may be taken from the Chair's ruling, however, because the final determination as to the validity of the question rests with the House.

The question having been properly raised on the floor by a Member, the Speaker must entertain the question and rule on its admissibility. If the matter is not admissible as a question of the privileges of the House, he may refuse recognition.


The resolution must show a prima facie breach of the privileges of the House. The mere statement that the privileges of the House have been violated does not present a question of privilege.

Despite my experience in the House of Representatives, I can claim no expertise on a topic explored so rarely. However, it certainly seems that while Mr. Kucinich may assert that his impeachment resolution is privileged, the Speaker will have to determine that question -- and her ruling may be appealed to the whole of the House.

If she rules in favor, then the debate on Kucinich's impeachment resolution begins. If she rules against and is sustained, then it's over before it begins.

So assuming Kucinich carries through on this -- which seems inevitable -- Speaker Pelosi will likely have to decide whether to deny the Netroots their fondest desire, or whether to allow an impeachment debate. If she rules against him, Mr. Kucinich could appeal her ruling, and potentially all Members of the House to go on record in favor of, or in opposition to, beginning the debate over impeachment. This is exactly the debate and vote that the GOP would force the Democrats to undertake, if they could.

It ought to really help the Congressional approval rating.

Read also: Michelle Malkin, Jules Crittenden, and Blue Crab Boulevard, and at Memeorandum.

The Netroots 'Help' House Dems Solve FISA

Read it at the Standard.

Is Congress Getting Ready to Pick a Fight with the PRC?

Read it at the Standard.

House 08: GOP Has Well-Funded Challengers

CQ Politics reports that the five challengers in 2008 who have raised the most money for their races are all Republican. They hold six of the top ten spots:

  1. Jim Ryun, R, Kansas’ 2nd, $880,000 ( Nancy Boyda , D)

  2. Sandy Treadwell, R, New York’s 20th, $822,000 ( Kirsten Gillibrand , D)

  3. Francisco “Quico” Canseco, R, Texas’ 23rd, $819,000 ( Ciro D. Rodriguez , D)

  4. Andrew Saul, R, New York’s 19th, $782,000 ( John Hall , D)

  5. Deborah Honeycutt, R, Georgia’s 13th, $708,000 ( David Scott , D)

I predict again: the GOP is more likely to gain House seats in 2008 than to lose them.

Obama's Iraq Plan: Withdraw Quickly, Return if Things go Wrong

Read it at the Standard.

Friday Awesome

Sodium explodes when it comes in contact with water. So how do you dispose of it? Ideally, just like this:

Krauthammer Gets it Right

Charles Krauthammer writes on the danger of Bill to Hillary's candidacy:

Any ex-president is a presence in his own right. His stature, unlike, say, Hillary's during Bill's presidency, is independent of his spouse. From day one of Hillary's inauguration, Bill will have had more experience than her at everything she touches. His influence on her presidency would necessarily be immeasurably greater than that of any father on any son.

Americans did not like the idea of a co-presidency when, at the 1980 Republican convention, Ronald Reagan briefly considered sharing the office with former President Gerald Ford. (Ford would have been vice president with independent powers.) And they won't like this co-presidency, particularly because the Clinton partnership involves two characters caught in the dynamic of a strained, strange marriage.

The cloud hovering over a Hillary presidency is not Bill padding around the White House in robe and slippers flipping thongs. It's President Clinton, in suit and tie, simply present in the White House when any decision is made. The degree of his involvement in that decision will inevitably become an issue. Do Americans really want a historically unique two-headed presidency constantly buffeted by the dynamics of a highly dysfunctional marriage?
As Hillary's candidacy unfolds, her rivals are certain to turn to this question. How would a Hillary presidency differ from that of Bill on policy? How much influence will he have? We've already seen a return of many of the same advisers who shaped the first Clinton presidency. Is Hillary going to get the band back together? If so, it will allow Republicans to delve into all the failings of Bill's presidency -- most notably on the war on terror. Hillary is not well-served by a close examination of how Bill failed to recognize the threat posed by Al Qaeda, and to take action against Osama bin Laden.

The media are also likely to examine the personal relationship and the personal behavior of Bill again. But Hillary will have to revisit some issues as well -- the health care task force, the firing of the White House travel office staff. And then there's fundraising -- which is a whole different topic.

I have a hard time imagining that Hillary's candidacy can survive if it is a referendum on a third Bill Clinton term. That's why Democrats will try to frame the election as a choice between a third Clinton term or a third Bush term. That's a choice Republicans seem likely to lose. But given their druthers, the American people would prefer a break from both former presidents. The challenge for the Republican candidate will be to present an attractive alternative.

By the way, it's a big problem for the Democrats that their candidates are apparently forbidden from airing this criticism during the primaries. Seeing how the American people respond to such attacks is clearly in the party's interest.

Also writing on this topic: Bits Blog, Dr. Sanity, Ann Althouse.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

How Powerful is the Netroots?

There's an interesting symmetry right now in the blogosphere, in the cases of Albert Wynn (D-MD) and John Doolittle (R-CA). This is a post yesterday over at FireDogLake:

So I have to ask — if we’re to accept Pelosi and Reid’s assertions to the effect that they can’t get anything done because they don’t have the votes, why is Pelosi sticking her nose into a primary to help get reactionary Al Wynn re-elected?

We’re going to try and raise money for Donna Edwards like we did for Darcy Burner before her...

So it’s up to you. Donna is a fantastic candidate. If you want to mitigate the effect that people like Pelosi and Reid have on keeping Bush Dogs like Al Wynn in office and in power, please consider giving to her campaign.

It’s a nice way to tell Nancy Pelosi to stop abusing her position to give reactionary incumbents an unfair advantage.
This is from a somewhat-dated post from RedState:
Meet Eric Egland. You might know him already. He started TroopsNeedYou.com to deliver resources to our troops in harm's way. He's been on CNN talking about his book, The Blog of War. He's been interviewed by Michelle Malkin. And most importantly, Eric Egland has fought in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

He's a pro-life conservative in a very Republican, conservative district. In fact, he's running against a Republican and we want you to help us help Eric Egland.

Eric is running against the corrupt, embattled John Doolittle, the national face of Republican scandal. Doolittle had to step down from the House Appropriations Committee because of the pending investigation against him. The FBI has already raided his home. But Doolittle won't retire because if he gets re-elected one more time he can get his full congressional pension.

This is a seat that will stay Republican. But, should Doolittle stay in it, it's a seat that could drag down other Republicans because of Doolittle's scandal. In 2004, Bush won it with over 60% of the vote.

Eric Egland is a stellar candidate, a small government conservative, and our choice for CA-04.
For all the attention to the Democratic Netroots -- the teams at DailyKos, FireDogLake, MyDD, OpenLeft, and elsewhere -- it's not at all clear to me that they have any more influence over the policies of their party in Washington than do the blogs of the Right. As righty bloggers seek to grow our influence inside the beltway, it's important to keep expectations reasonable. It's probably also important that bloggers attempt to continue to grow hand-in-hand with existing conservative institutions -- such as Heritage, Club for Growth, as well as business associations such as NAM, the Chamber, NFIB, and other right-leaning lobbies.

To the extent that conservative blogs can stay on the same page as existing powers in the party, it increases our ability to wield influence effectively.

Menendez (D-NJ) Under Federal Investigation

TPM Muckraker reports on a Democrat -- good for them:

LiCausi started work for Menendez back when he was in the House in 1998. She was 26. Four years later she left with the title of chief of staff of his New Jersey office, a position that the Times called "midlevel" -- she supervised six people. But immediately she began raking in some hefty contracts, not only as a lobbyist, but also as a fundraiser for Menendez and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Menendez admitted to the Times that he'd "encouraged" the DCCC to hire her for the $10,000 a month spot. And no doubt he was responsible for the work on his political committees, where she was also making another $10,000 a month fundraising for both his political action committee and his campaign. And then there were the lobbying contracts which also rolled in.

The subpoenas issued in the past few months have been to two of LiCausi's clients. One, to Jersey City Medical Center, was originally reported by The Star-Ledger in late August. The other, to the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, was reported two weeks ago. The hospital signed up LiCausi in January, 2003, shortly after she left Menendez's office; the contract paid $280,000 through February of this year. An exec from the hospital has also testified before a grand jury.
This is not all that unusual in Washington -- it's only the romantic link between Senator and staffer that makes this stand out. But certainly it's not unusual for a business seeking federal cash to hire a favored staffer of a key official to represent them. Sometimes that hire is made with the recommendation of the official, though usually not. The staffer then gets credit for the grants that follow.

DC lawyer extraordinaire Stan Brand gets this right:
Criminal defense lawyer Stan Brand told me that generally such a case could be very hard to prosecute. "There's no magical statute," he said. "Unless you have some proof or evidence of personal financial gain by a public official, it’s very hard to make a case.... The typical political give and take isn't going to be enough."
There's not really a need to make things explicit -- to have a Duke Cunningham-style price list, for example. If Hospital A wants grants from Senator Menendez, they don't need to he told to hire his former Chief of Staff. And they certainly don't need to have Menendez explicitly make it a condition of his helping them. Perhaps investigators will find something unusual and prosecutable in all this, perhaps not.

And as far as partisan advantage goes, it's probably better for Democrats if Menendez is quickly found guilty. The state has demonstrated over and over again that they're willing to keep electing crooked Democrats, no matter how many are indicted. If Menendez stays in office despite these rumors and allegations, at least the GOP gets to cite him as an embarrassment to New Jersey and the Senate -- a la Bob Torricelli.

Hat Tip: Insty

Will Congressional Democrats Hike Taxes... By Procrastinating?

Read it at the Standard.

Is America Safe From Terror?

Heh.

Has the Democratic Congress Worked for You?

The production values of the NRCC are getting better and better:



The NRCC wants you to create an ad that expresses the slogan 'Has the Democratic Congress Worked for You.' Go to yourdirectioncontest.com for information on how to enter.

General Odierno Discusses Trends in Iraq

Read it at the Standard. The graphs tell the story.

Huckabee's Green October

Patrick Ruffini tells me that Mike Huckabee raised $1.1 million online in October -- more than he raised in the entire third quarter. This is what his team predicted a few days ago.

Combined with glowing reviews in Iowa, and improved polls in the state that kicks off the nominating process, does this mean that Huck has broken into the top tier?

Update: Corrected to clarify that Huck earned $1.1 million ONLINE, rather than overall in October. I don't have the data on other candidates, but I have to think this will mean more media attention.

Hillary Clinton is a Wimp

Chris Cillizza today:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y) was under attack throughout Tuesday night's Democratic debate in Philadelphia, valiantly fighting off some of the hits landed by her opponents, but also getting knocked off her balance by a few. It's easy to get lost in the weeds of the various attacks and counterattacks, but the broader picture is almost always the more important one.

That broad picture: Six men regularly ganging up on the lone woman on the stage. As stated here before, Clinton's male competitors must be careful not to look as though they are bullying her during these forums. For what it's worth, the Clinton campaign did everything they could today to make that case, even posting a video on YouTube called "The Politics of Pile On."

Associated Press:

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the pinata of Tuesday's Democratic debate, is turning the tables on her rivals, accusing them of ganging up against her.

Taylor Marsh:

Clinton's opponents did everything to break Clinton down, including call her "unelectable." They insinuated she couldn't be trusted and was not fit for the presidency. Her opponents got personal, but the worst offender was someone who forget his job. Tim Russert's play last night was not only nakedly sexist, but showed his immaturity and lack of respect for any woman standing up to be commander in chief.

Jane Hamsher:

The hammering she took from her competitors last night in the debate is not available to her as a means of fighting back. The Mighty Wurlitzer would instantly seize the opportunity to cast her as “cold” and “hostile,” it would leap into the main stream media and that would be that. Her opponents took advantage of that fact. As scarecrow noted this morning, it wasn’t a particularly high water mark in the race.
Boo-frickin-hoo!

Senator Clinton, get ready for the backlash. You want to be leader of the free world, but can't handle criticism from Dennis Kucinich and Chris Dodd? It goes with the territory.

Does George Bush complain that everyone's all negative about him? Or do Hillary's backers imagine that people won't disagree with her when she's President?

And Hillary's campaign has already produced a video to feed the fire? Guess what: Americans don't want to elect a victim. We want to elect a leader. And if you can't stand the heat, just stay in the Senate.

John Edwards' next line about Hillary might go something like this:
I see that Senator Clinton is upset because now that she's leading in the polls, her rivals are starting to point out how often she's out of the mainstream with her party. Well, I'm sorry Senator, but this is a primary and not a coronation. And there's still free speech in this country.


Update: Fred Barnes captures this better than I can.

Real Reform for Congress, GOP?

Update: Putting this update at the top so people find it. The WSJ blogs on Reagan 21 here. They link to the group's policy paper. (Hat Tip: Club for Growth). Also check out Michelle.

Update II: Patrick Ruffini looks at the Reagan 21 website and spells out how the organizers are missing out on a great opportunity.


As one who worked in the House of Representatives for years, I have been skeptical about efforts by Members of the House to change the institution. While Republicans have aggressively and sincerely been pushing for more transparency about earmarks for example (which is good), they have continued to secure millions of dollars in earmarks, and to oppose amendments to eliminate them from spending bills. I guess that's half-a-loaf, but if we're going to tackle earmarks, I'd like to ensure that it actually reduces spending.

My skepticism notwithstanding, I see signs that Members of the House and Senate are pushing real change. The first comes in the form of a new caucus called 'Reagan 21:'

Frustrated by what they see as a party gone astray, a group of House and Senate conservatives led by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) today will announce a new bicameral caucus aimed at returning fiscal restraint, ethics and national defense to the fore of the GOP’s philosophical and policy platforms.

The group — which in addition to DeMint and Hensarling is made up of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) — will officially announce the creation of their new caucus — dubbed Reagan21. They also will unveil their “statement of policy commitment,” which includes 10 key positions on issues ranging from Congressional earmarks to health care reform...

Although members of the group declined to comment on the caucus on the record, one Member involved said the lawmakers believe the GOP’s elected leaders have strayed from the party’s traditional fiscal conservative roots.

“A few of us here are trying to change the culture” of the GOP, the lawmaker said, adding that “the core values of the Republican Party are not being adhered to by the party inside Congress. But there’s a yearning for it outside the Beltway.”

According to Republicans familiar with the effort, it arose from meetings between DeMint, who chairs the Republican Steering Committee in the Senate, and Hensarling, who chairs the Republican Study Committee in the House. Both organizations are the hub for conservative efforts in the chambers, and following the disastrous 2006 election, DeMint and Hensarling began holding meetings in an effort to better coordinate their efforts...

More on Reagan 21 here.

And while it might turn out to be a rear-guard action designed to protect existing privileges, even the appropriators are talking about reform -- at least, House Republican appropriators are:

A small group of Republican appropriators is working to restructure the earmarking system from within. The effort is part of an uncoordinated series of attempts to re-examine how special projects are doled out.

The group was initially organized by Rep. Frank R. Wolf , R-Va., and dubbed the “Wolf Pack” by one member. It is made up of seven of the 29 Republican appropriators and has been quietly meeting on a weekly basis.

The members say they want to come up with a recipe for change that appropriators can accept...

While those talks have proceeded for the last three weeks, several other ad hoc groups of lawmakers have spoken separately about how to change the earmark system:
  • A different group of House and Senate members say they will not seek “new” earmarks. They call themselves “Reagan 21” and say they want to show conservatives that they share tight-fisted principles.
  • Conservative Republican Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia introduced legislation (HR 3738) that would cap appropriations earmarks and divide the dollars equally among members of the House and Senate.
  • The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) appointed a five-member task force, including two appropriators, to look into disparities in earmarking.
CBC members said they felt compelled to act after a Congressional Quarterly study of data compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense revealed wide disparities in earmark distribution. Party leaders, appropriators and politically endangered members of both parties get more earmarked funds than their rank-and-file colleagues; the average black Democrat got half as much money in the House-passed fiscal 2008 spending bills as the average white Democrat; and Latino lawmakers did even worse, on average...
I regard these efforts as extremely hopeful signs. Democrats in Congress have seen their approval ratings plummet, creating a real opportunity for the GOP. Regrettably, the approval ratings of Republicans are even worse. Since the Republicans hold the White House, it's unlikely that the GOP can do what the Democrats did in 2006: act as an empty vessel, without an agenda, and benefit from voter anger at the party in power.

Instead, it's critical that the GOP rehabilitate itself so it offers a superior vision than that of Democrats. By being serious about changing the institution -- including changing the way that Republicans have done business -- these reformists offer a better way forward.

TSA: Kicking A** & Taking Names

You have to sit through about two minutes of a hot blonde in a bikini, but eventually you get around to the video of a TSA guard shooting a man in a long white robe, reportedly for the offense of not 'hugging a Jewish guy.'



It's amazing what people think up in order to produce a few million YouTube hits.

And here I am helping! I hate myself!

If you like this, check out the sequel -- which explains new TSA screening, done by a Jihad Elimination Worker (JEW).

Thursday Funny

What? You mean it's WRONG to push the glass instead of the handle?


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Lots of Good News from Iraq

Read it at the Standard.

Charlie Cook: Hillary Is Grinding the Electorate Down

Political analyst Charlie Cook has an interesting take on Hillary:

The pattern from the polls is clear: Clinton never wins big, generally holding a lead of 2 to 8 points over Giuliani and 10 to 13 points over Romney. But her leads are consistent. She has a high floor and a low ceiling, like a stock with a fairly narrow trading range. She doesn't trail, but she doesn't ever blow the Republican opposition away, either.

What seems to be happening is that Hillary Clinton is not really becoming more likable, she is becoming less unacceptable. She doesn't seem to convert people so much as wear down their opposition to her...

Rather than wearing thin, Clinton seems to be wearing better. She has moved up impressively in the polls for both the nomination and the general election. Some suggested early on that voters would tire of her, but instead they almost seem resigned to her winning the Democratic nomination, and the early pattern in her general election polling seems to be following the same trajectory, at least for now.

The key thing, though, is that narrow trading range. Unless Clinton becomes dramatically less polarizing, which seems improbable, she is likely to maintain her slim but consistent advantage. But will it ever widen to the point where a misstep or a bit of misfortune wouldn't give her Republican opponent the lead? That's the key question. She seems to be putting the Democratic nomination away, but can she ever put the general election away? Or will she always have no better than a narrow lead in the polls, never quite beyond striking distance from her GOP rival?

I've written before about a session I was at where Mr. Cook argued that the importance of Hillary's high negatives were overblown. He argued that while 48 percent of Americans (or whatever) would never vote for Hillary, 45 percent would never vote for any Democrat -- it's just that they wouldn't say so. For that reason Cook said, her ceiling was only a little lower than that of other Democrats.

It seems safe to infer that Cook doesn't currently believe that Hillary's ceiling is below 50 percent -- the question which I think is suggested by the Rasmussen poll that many wrote on the other day. Rather, Cook seems to think that 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust Hillary can grind out a 51 percent win, or so.

We shall see.

Nick Lampson (D-TX) Takes Dirty Money

It seems that while other Texas Democrats are returning money they received from a big donor under investigation for theft, impersonating a peace officer, and practicing law without a license, Lampson has not. His likely Republican opponent -- former John Cornyn staffer Pete Olson -- is calling for him to follow suit:

Earlier this month, Mauricio Celis, of Corpus Christi, TX, was sued by the Texas Attorney General for illegally operating a law firm as a non-lawyer.

On September 27, 2007, Lampson received two contributions, totaling $4,600, from Celis. As of today, three Democrat State Representatives from Texas: Abel Herrero, Solomon Ortiz Jr. and Juan Garcia have all donated Celis' tainted money to local charities.

"Questionable money from questionable sources, I urge Mr. Lampson to follow the lead of his fellow democrats by donating this money to a charity who can better use these funds," commented Pete Olson. "I expect Nick Lampson will practice the ethics that he preaches by immediately distancing himself from Mauricio Celis and giving this money to a worthy cause."

According to news reports, Mauricio Celis was ranked as the 51st most prolific Texas Democrat donor in 2004, having donated more than $160,000 to candidates and political action committees (PACs) designed to support Democrats. Celis has also donated tens of thousands of dollars to PACs set up by former Democrat Senate candidate Mikal Watts with the purpose of fighting medical malpractice reforms here in Texas.

After the Republican sweep of 1994, Democrats knocked off 12 of the GOP's freshmen in 1996. In general, those candidates occupied Democratic seats which Republicans had taken only because of their wave. Nick Lampson sits in a GOP seat, and will be heavily targeted in 2008. Is that reality leading him to scramble for every dollar he can get?

House Democrats Delay FISA Re-Vote; Waiting for Senate to Take the Lead?

Read it at the Standard.

Nader Sues Kerry & the DNC

Interstingly, he's suing them for keeping him from competing fairly for the presidency in 2004:

The lawsuit also alleges that the Democratic National Committee conspired to force Nader off the ballot in several states.

"The Democratic Party is going after anyone who presents a credible challenge to their monopoly over their perceived voters," Nader said in a statement. "This lawsuit was filed to help advance a free and open electoral process for all candidates and voters. Candidate rights and voter rights nourish each other for more voices, choices, and a more open and competitive democracy."

Among other things, the lawsuit alleges that the DNC tried to bankrupt Nader's campaign by suing to keep him off the ballot in 18 states. It also suggests the DNC sent Kerry supporters to crash a Nader petition drive in Portland, Ore., in June 2004, preventing him from collecting enough signatures to get on the ballot...

"This is a case designed to make sure other independent and third party candidates will not be subject to the same kind of conspiracy in the future," Afran said.

I wonder if there's any particular third-party candidate whose viability Nader is trying to protect for the future.

Is Hillary Helped by the Attacks?

I don't expect to post on the Democratic debate last night. It seemed to me that Hillary was
a man among boys -- so to speak -- and that no one on the stage was able to hit the robo-candidate in a meaningful way. I was not able to hang around until the end, so I missed the exchange over driver's licenses for illegal aliens.

Democratic strategist Peter Fenn makes a valid point however, in a piece he wrote before the debate about the likely barrage of attacks against Hillary -- they might help:

As for the Democrats’ strategy of all going after Hillary, one has to wonder how smart this really is for them. It seems to me that if Obama or Edwards is going to win Iowa, they are going to have to take votes away from the other Democrats. Their likelihood of pulling votes away from Hillary with an all-out attack is pretty slim. And by being strictly attack dogs, they risk losing some of their own support — witness John Edwards’s latest standing in the Iowa polls. Plus, there is nothing unique or different about joining in on the gang-up against Clinton. One might argue that if she handles these attacks deftly, she may, in fact, be helped by the perception of unfair piling-on...

My guess is that Hillary as the piƱata these next two months will actually strengthen her candidacy, not weaken it, and that “desperation Democrats” will be left by the wayside.
Fenn makes some important points -- notably that it helps no one to appear to be 'ganging up' on Hillary.

That said, I think that much of Hillary's support -- the part that clearly CAN be peeled away -- is due to a twin perception:
  1. That her candidacy is inevitable; and,
  2. That she is the most electable Democrat.
With that in mind, were I a rival of Hillary, I would attack her on not on policy, but on electability. I would argue that someone whose ceiling of support is so low, and whose association with the past so great, that she cannot win against a fresh-faced Republican in a change election. Further, I would try not to take on the attacks myself, I would try to get another candidate to act as proxy.

I'm sure that Joe Biden would like to be Secretary of State, Chris Dodd Secretary of the Treasury, and Bill Richardson Vice President. If you're Barack Obama or John Edwards, why not tell those candidates that the positions will be open in your administration -- to allies who've helped you get to the White House.

Such scenarios always work a lot better on paper than in real life, but if I wanted to beat Hillary for the Democratic nomination, that's the way I would go.

Update: Strong evidence from a leading liberal blog that the attacks on Hillary make her stronger:

If one of the cardinal rules of progressive politics is that you never repeat the talking points by which your opponents beat up on your own party, then what are we to think of last night’s Democratic debate, in which a principal tactic used by some of the non-Clintons was to repeat Republican talking points about Hillary Clinton?...

But the argument that Clinton in unelectable because her “negatives” are too high — that she’s so disliked Americans won’t vote for her — has always seemed one of those unproven Republican talking points that I suspect they only wish were true...

It seems silly to me that the Left would have a 'cardinal rule' which forbids candidates in a primary from dry-running the attacks that the nominee will likely face in the general. After all, if it's possible that Hillary is vulnerable to a criticism, wouldn't you like to know ahead of time? Still, if the Left wants to make sure that the nominee's first serious test comes in the general, when it's too late to change -- fine by me.

Regrettably for me, this post also suggests that attacking Hillary on electability -- the route I recommend for her Democratic challengers -- is the one most likely to increase her support.

Shows you what I know about liberal politics.

What is Jack Cafferty's Vote Worth?

I've not posted this yet, even though it's from several days ago -- but it strikes me as significant.

The angry white male vote is important. So is the populist demagogue vote. And they are related -- smarter people than me probably understand it better. But people like Ross Perot, Lou Dobbs, and Jack Cafferty represent an important segment of the voting population, which typically votes Republican.

One reason the GOP got trounced last years is because they appeared out-of-touch, and they lost these folks. The fact that an angry man like Jack Cafferty is again more angry at Democrats than Republicans is an important signal that the tide may have turned:

Two Georgia Democrats Prime GOP Targets in 2008

I've argued against the assumption on the part of many that Democrats will gain House seats in 2008. With 61 House Democrats sitting in seats won by George Bush in 2004, there are plenty of targets -- as long the political climate gives the GOP a relatively even playing field. With George Bush off the ticket and Iraq unlikely to be a major issue again, politics should be more 'normal' next year. Congressional Quarterly looks at two Georgia Democrats who barely squeaked by last year and who will be bigger targets the next time out:

Most Democratic House incumbents took advantage of the anti-Republican political atmosphere of 2006 to easily win re-election, as their party gained control of the chamber. So the cliffhanger contests endured by Jim Marshall and John Barrow , a pair of neighboring Georgia congressmen, really stood out — and have earned them both unwanted places among the most potentially vulnerable Democratic members running for re-election in 2008.

Both held on last year to defeat Republicans who had formerly served in the House, enabling the Democrats to pull off the unusual feat of capturing 30 Republican-held seats while losing none of their own. But theirs were the closest elections among all of the victorious Democratic incumbents: Barrow won the 12th District race by just 864 votes of more than 142,000 cast, and Marshall secured the 8th District seat by only 1,752 votes of nearly 160,000 cast.

Marshall and Barrow both will face less politically experienced challengers in their races next year, but they still will have to overcome an obstacle that caused big problems for them in 2006: A rare mid-decade redistricting plan, enacted after the Republicans gained complete control of the state legislature in the 2004 elections, made significant changes to both Democrats’ districts, costing them thousands of familiar constituents and casting them into parts of the state where the lawmakers still are working hard to make themselves better known.

Tired of Losing Votes, House Dems Plan Rule Change

If you can't beat 'em, change the rules:

Exasperated over Republicans’ continued efforts — and occasional success — in thwarting the House floor schedule, Democratic leaders acknowledged Tuesday they are reviewing the chamber’s rules to determine how to curb the minority’s ability to put up roadblocks at critical moments in the legislative process.

House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D) said the committee’s Democrats have begun meeting with both current and former Parliamentarians to discuss the chamber’s rules and potential changes.

The New York lawmaker said those discussions have focused in part on the motion to recommit — one of the few procedural items in the minority party’s toolbox that allows them to offer legislative alternatives when a bill hits the floor, and that Republicans have used to force difficult votes on Democrats or prompted legislation to be pulled from the floor — as well as other procedures, which she declined to detail.

Slaughter said no timeline exists for the review or potential alterations, however. “Nothing is imminent. We want to take our time and do it right,” she said.

But one Democratic lawmaker, who asked not to be identified, said the majority is considering neutering the motion-to-recommit process and converting it to little more than a last-chance amendment for the minority party.


This is another hit to the Democrats' promise to let the majority prevail in House votes. Recall Nancy Pelosi's promise last year that the most important thing was an open process, and allowing the House to work its will. Apparently she's decided it's more important to push a 'capital-D' Democratic agenda than a government-by-the-people democratic agenda.

It's not a surprise that Democrats are returning to this. They've talked about changing the rules before, but got stung by media attention to the anti-democratic move. Ms. Slaughter's comment that 'nothing is imminent' shouldn't be taken at all seriously; Democrats will give no warning before taking away the rights of the minority in the House. They've learned from experience that signaling their intent to change the rules will only make it harder.

Expect this to be one of the last votes the House takes, early on a Saturday or Sunday morning, in the midst of votes on major legislation, right before a recess. It could be before Thanksgiving, or the last votes before adjourning for Christmas and Hanukkah. Such a strategy will be necessary to avoid press attention.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Code Pink is Lame

Read it at the Standard.

The Dysfunctional Congress

Read it at the Standard.

Murtha: Hasn't Pennsylvania Had Enough?

Read it at the Standard.

Candidates Who Are Trying Too Hard

Jim Geraghty mentions John Edwards:

Is there some sort of template the Edwards campaign uses? Something like a Mad Lib? "John Edwards has never taken a dime from __ lobbyists and America deserves a President who isn't in the pocket of __ special interests"?

I'll also add Chris Dodd:

Somehow, it doesn't seem likely that any tykes in New Hampshire will take him up on his offer for Halloween.

Still, Chris Dodd did lay out step-by-step instructions today for kids to dress up like him in hopes of bagging lots of candy:

  • Use coloring to turn your [sic -- hair? -- the Editor] white (representing the Democratic presidential candidate's 26 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee).
  • Carry a copy of the Constitution (demonstrating Dodd's vow to restore what he calls the Bush administrations assaults on civil liberties).
  • Wield a folder of Dodd's campaign proposals (showing his "bold ideas" for a corporate carbon tax, free community college, and a comprehensive national service plan).

"Every year, parents and their children struggle to find that perfect Halloween costume," Dodd spokesman Bryan DeAngelis said in a statement. "We wanted to do our part to help by providing them with the option of going as the one candidate who has the proven leadership, record of results, and bold ideas that we need in our next president -- Chris Dodd."

The Logic of S-CHIP

This video captures extremely well what Congressional Democrats claim to be doing on S-CHIP:



The thing is, it's not actually true.

In funding S-CHIP, Democrats project that 22 million people will take up smoking and pay the taxes needed to fund the expansion. In reality though, they know that won't happen. It's just a paperwork gimmick to make it look like the program is paid for, so they can pass the measure under Congress' pay-go rules. Instead, the additional cost will simply be tacked on to the national debt -- to be paid for down the road by higher income taxes on all Americans.

Now do you feel better?

Update: Rob points out:

Good point, but don't forget it was Heritage that did the research about the 22 million.

True. Point taken.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Proof Democrats Haven't Changed Washington

Congress has sent President Bush a water projects bill which he's promised to veto because it's porked up. This is a little ironic; water projects bills are intended to be all porked up. Even though the veto seems likely to be overridden, this bill is worth noting because of the back-story:

The Water Resources Development Act would authorize $23.2 billion for flood control, navigation and environmental restoration projects by the Army Corps of Engineers. The administration has threatened a veto, saying the cost is excessive.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel confirmed that the president still intends to veto the bill. The final version is far more expensive than either the original Senate-passed bill, which authorized around $14 billion, or the House-passed version, which authorized about $15 billion.

That's a neat way to do business: the House votes $15 billion; the Senate votes $14 billion. In the normal world, the compromise would be $14.5; in Congress, it's $23.

When I worked on Capitol Hill, the general rule for handling earmarks in conference was that all earmarks in dispute were halved. That way conferees didn't have to fiddle around with changing overall spending levels.

In this case, it seems that the compromise was to fully fund everything on both House and Senate lists -- and apparently some other items as well.

Ramesh Ponnuru Echoes My Idea for McCain

I'm sure I must have been the first person on the planet to think of it, right? It's not as if anyone had ever considered seeking the presidency with a promise to serve just one term -- right?

Ramesh
:

I think he should do something dramatic: Renounce ambition for a second term. He should say that he intends not just to win the presidency but to win a mandate for the few big things he really wants to accomplish: fixing entitlements and beating terrorists. A one-term limit would instantly separate McCain from the pack, making the other Republican contenders look self-interested by comparison. Concentrating on issues such as terrorism and entitlements would also play to his strengths with conservatives, and distract attention from his weaknesses...

Making a one-term pledge would make it possible for McCain to win a mandate for the mission of his presidency. And it would be important for him to have one, since he will almost certainly be facing a Democratic Congress.
From my list of suggestions for McCain in April:
Promise to serve only one term
It seems that nearly every Presidential election, there is some candidate who kicks around the idea of promising to serve only one term - to address concerns about age, or demonstrate a willingness to tackle controversial issues with politically-difficult solutions. This works for you for both reasons. So tell voters that you are on a mission - to win the war in Iraq, lay the groundwork for victory in the War on Terror (which will last for many years) and address critical challenges. And serving only one term will free you from concerns about re-election that might impair your ability to act decisively.
The downside of this move is that it will call some attention to your age. I think that's surmountable however.

Go look at the rest of my ideas; I think they hold up. The only shame of it is that Thompson is no longer likely to accept the VP nod.

Why I Don't Like Mike Huckabee

How did Mike Huckabee emerge to draw such attention on this blog?

Oh well -- the reason why is over here.

What's the Meaning of 1,000 Votes

Rob Bluey suggests that House Democrats who are proud of taking votes might want to rethink whether it's a serious measure of effectiveness.

The American Spectator reports that not all Democrats were proud that Speaker Pelosi chose to highlight this 'achievement:'

Last week the House held its one-thousandth roll call vote this year, the first time Congress had reached that level since the ratification of the Constitution. Pelosi's office demanded that Democrats mark the event as a victory for the party, against the advice of Hoyer and other party leaders.

"It only served to highlight just how little we've actually achieved compared to what we promised," says the House aide. "Out of those thousand votes, about ten percent were bills that became law and half of those were namings of federal buildings and such. Fifty bills in a year doesn't compare to what we promised, and she wanted to put a spotlight on it. She just doesn't get it sometimes."

Rangel's Tax Bill: Rob from the Rich, Give to the Less Rich

Read it at the Standard.

Is Hillary a Sure Loser?

Jim Geraghty has a significant post on Hillary's floor and ceiling:

Pollster Scott Rasmussen just shared this fascinating observation in an interview: When you average the head-to-head matchups with Hillary Clinton vs. any of the Republicans, she's always getting 46 to 49 percent against any of them.

"When we polled her against Ron Paul, she got 48 percent of the vote. When we polled on Ron Paul among people who knew who Ron Paul is, she got 48 percent of the vote. When we polled among people who didn’t know who Ron Paul is, she got 48 percent percent of the vote."

Paul got 38 percent against Hillary.

"In individual head-to-heads with Giuliani it's essentially a toss up, Thompson trails a little, but they’re all close," Rasmussen continued. "Clinton and Giuliani, in 11 polls, were within two points of 45 percent - basically ranging from 43 to 47 percent. It reminded me of Election 2004, where after Kerry won the nomination, for more than 60 days," Kerry and Bush remained quite close to each other.

"She’s becoming like the incumbent... Republicans are talking about Clinton a lot, partially because they would rather talk about her than the incumbent president, but also because now part of being a conservative is challenging Hillary Clinton."
The actual Rasmussen release on this point is here:
A look at the crosstabs demonstrates that it is attitudes towards Clinton that are driving the numbers in this polling match-up. Among all voters, Clinton attracts 48% support. Among the voters who have never heard of Ron Paul or don’t know enough to have an opinion, guess what. Clinton attracts the exact same total--48% of the vote. So whether or not people have heard of Ron Paul as the challenger, support for Clinton doesn’t change.

Among the 51% who have heard of Ron Paul but don’t have a Very Favorable opinion of him, Clinton attracts 49% of the vote...

So, outside of a small group of avid Ron Paul fans, support for Senator Clinton is unchanged whether or not the survey respondent has ever heard of Ron Paul.
Hillary has nearly universal name identification. Nearly every American has an opinion of her. And regardless of what Americans know or don't know about her potential opponents, a majority refuses to vote for her -- even against the weakest and most obscure candidate in the GOP field.

These are [ie, look like -- the Editor] the polls of an unpopular incumbent, destined to be defeated for re-election: name ID is huge, voters' opinions are set. When these are the last few polls that you see before election day, you recall that undecideds break against the incumbent by a huge margin. You conclude that it will take a miracle to pull through on election day.

You don't quite draw such a conclusion this far out of course; election day is simply too far off and too much can change. The Republican opponent could be savaged in advertising, so much that he is unelectable. There might be a 3rd party candidate who reduces the threshold for victory. It's even conceivable that you might be able to 'reintroduce' the candidate, and move some of the voters who seem so firmly against you. But a candidate forced to resort to one of these strategies is someone already in trouble.

I've said before that Hillary is the closest thing to a 'status quo' candidate there is among either Republicans or Democrats. In a change election, any Republican trumps her as the candidate of change. Now it's gotten so bad for her that she's starting to be viewed as almost the incumbent -- a terrible place to be when the electorate is looking for something different.

Hillary is starting to seem like the least electable Democrat.

Update: Donna Brazile thinks that the electability argument is the way to go after Hillary as well:

"I want to see if John Edwards will say to Hillary Clinton in front of everyone: 'You're not electable, and you know it, and you're going to hurt people down the ballot,' " said Brazile, who hasn't endorsed anyone. "It's time to stop whispering. It's getting to be midnight."

Thompson Alone Tackles Entitlements

The headline in the Christian Science Monitor is the sort any candidate would dream of.

As baby boomers enter the starting gate into retirement, the cost of America's entitlement programs – foremost, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid – is projected to balloon to levels that are unsustainable.

Already, those three programs make up 40 percent of the federal budget. If reforms are not enacted, Social Security will eventually go bust; in 40 years, on the current path, the two medical programs alone could equal the size of today's entire federal budget according to the US Government Accountability Office...

"The one thing that all the experts agree on … is that we're in an unsustainable position economically with regard to these programs," he recently told the anti-tax Club for Growth. "You'd think that would be the biggest thing we could talk about, other than national security. So we've got to talk about it."

Thompson intends to unveil a plan for entitlement reform in the coming weeks, according to his spokesman, but he has already been floating ideas, such as slowing the rate of Social Security benefit increases – a move that would, in effect, cut benefits. On Medicare, he suggests increasing fees for upper-income beneficiaries. To imply such moves puts Thompson in danger of touching the so-called "third rail" of politics – and he acknowledged that risk in a speech last month he gave to The Club For Growth.

But he gets credit, at least, from deficit hawks, who have been touring the country trying to educate the public on the structural problems in Social Security and Medicare. "There is an opportunity for leadership on this issue, because people are not expecting politicians to tell them the truth on this," says Bob Bixby, executive director of the anti-deficit Concord Coalition. "And while you would certainly catch fire from your opponents by putting forth specifics, I think the public would respect that person as a leader for taking a position."

Much as I admire Senator Thompson for his stand on the issue, I would disagree with him on the usefulness of a commission. I believe that a bipartisan fix for runaway entitlement spending is essential, since neither party will take the political blame for a fix that is bound to leave some voters angry. While it's possible that Democrats would vote for President Thompson's plan, it's far more likely that the product of a bipartisan commission would get their endorsement. Thus a commission can serve a valuable role in increasing support for the fix.

Still, Senator Thompson deserves credit for stepping up on this issue. It will endear him to fiscal conservatives.

Democrats Plan Rerun of Iraq Supplemental Fight

Read it at the Standard.

Barone: Both Republicans and Democrats Lack a Narrative

Barone is right, but I don't think much needs to be made of this -- at least not yet.

Neither party is presenting a narrative, as the Roosevelts and Reagan did, that takes due note of America's great strengths and achievements. Each seems to take the course, easier in a time of polarized politics, of lambasting the opposition. The Democrats suggest that all our troubles can be laid at the door of George W. Bush. The Republicans, noting Bush's low job ratings, complain about the disasters that will ensue if Hillary Clinton is elected. All these may be defensible as campaign tactics. But it is not a pudding that can successfully govern.

This is what campaigns are about -- developing the message and deciding on the plan that each party will bring to the voters. Republicans are engaged in the soul-searching and navel gazing that follows a spent presidency and an unpopular president. We're trying to determine how much of the failure was the man, and how much was the message. Which parts of the Bush agenda get tossed aside, and which get a fresh coat of paint. Ultimately the nominee will reflect the party's verdict.

The Democrats seem to be foregoing the debate however, in an effort to protect their presumed nominee from getting damaged in the primary. Oddly enough, the Left is closing ranks around Hillary to de facto make it easier for her to turn right in the general election -- since that's the result of allowing her to not spell out her positions in the primaries.

Which party will produce the winning formula? The one that offers a smarter war on terror, a restrained but effective federal government, and a change from the current tenor of debate. Oddly, it seems to be clear that that's what voters want; it's just a question of how to convince them that you're best prepared to bring that.

Everything Old is New Again

Stunningly, vinyl is back. And according to industry analysts, it's killing CDs.

As counterintuitive as it may seem in this age of iPods and digital downloads, vinyl -- the favorite physical format of indie music collectors and audiophiles -- is poised to re-enter the mainstream, or at least become a major tributary.

Talk to almost anyone in the music business' vital indie and DJ scenes and you'll encounter a uniformly optimistic picture of the vinyl market.

Why is vinyl so popular? The superior sound quality:

Although CDs have a wider dynamic range, mastering houses are often encouraged to compress the audio on CDs to make it as loud as possible: It's the so-called loudness war. Since the audio on vinyl can't be compressed to such extremes, records generally offer a more nuanced sound.

Another reason for vinyl's sonic superiority is that no matter how high a sampling rate is, it can never contain all of the data present in an analog groove, Nyquist's theorem to the contrary.

"The digital world will never get there," said Chris Ashworth, owner of United Record Pressing, the country's largest record pressing plant.

And since CDs are neither as portable as MP3 files, nor do they have the sound quality of vinyl, they may be on the way out:

And the vinyl-MP3 tag team might just hasten the long-predicted death of the CD.

San Francisco indie band The Society of Rockets, for example, plans to release its next album strictly on vinyl and as MP3 files.

"Having just gone through the process of mastering our new album for digital and for vinyl, I can say it is completely amazing how different they really sound," said lead singer and guitarist Joshua Babcock in an e-mail interview. "The way the vinyl is so much better and warmer and more interesting to listen to is a wonder."

So welcome back to vinyl, world. I never left. Does this mean there's hope for my betamax, as well?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Argument Huckabee Hasn't Made Yet

I was wondering the other day whether Mike Huckabee -- of whom I am not a fan -- had a demonstrated ability to win African American votes. As a Dobbs-ian economic populist with a preacher's background and strength among Evangelicals, he would seem to be the sort of Republican that might be able to bridge the gap between Republicans and African Americans. If so, one would expect that Huckabee would make a forceful argument during the primaries that he is the candidate who can 'change the game,' and bring new voters to the GOP fold.

And indeed, Huckabee has had success in Arkansas with black voters, but the degree of that success is disputed:

Huckabee maintains he drew 48 percent of the black vote in his 1998 gubernatorial bid and made key appointments of blacks to state boards and commissions.

While experts acknowledge Huckabee reached out to minorities like few other Republicans during his decade as the state’s governor, they say he may be overstating his support among black voters.

Jay Barth, a political science professor at Hendrix College, openly questions Huckabee’s 48 percent claim.

Barth said in a book he co-authored that the exit polling used to substantiate the percentage was a small sample not validated by precinct-by-precinct data...

“I stand by the fact that Huckabee did well among African-Americans,” Streb said. “Did he actually do 48 percent, which is what the exit polls show? That’s questionable.”

Barth said it’s more likely Huckabee gained 20 percent of the black vote in 1998, his first try for a full term against Democrat Bill Bristow.

Streb said Bristow was not a strong candidate, which may have contributed to Huckabee’s success among blacks.

In Huckabee’s 2002 re-election bid against Jimmie Lou Fisher, Barth said the governor’s efforts to draw black voters gave him “breathing room” in a close race...

A Southern Baptist minister, Huckabee used his religious background to build support in the black community.

Stacy Williams, a Little Rock-based political consultant, said Huckabee could easily duplicate his statewide success on a national scale.

“He breaks the traditional mold of the Republican in trying to persuade African-Americans to vote for him, and that’s what he did in Arkansas,” Williams said. “African-Americans are pretty much like anybody else; if you advertise them or target them and solicit their support, you’re going to be successful.”
According to this article, Huckabee makes the claim 'frequently.' Perhaps I'm not paying enough attention to him then, as I haven't heard it. Nevertheless, this is significant stuff. Bush got 11 percent of the African-American vote in 2004; doubling that would add about one percent to the Republican candidate's total vote. If Huckabee was the nominee, and was able to win 40 percent, it would be impossible for a Democrat to win the White House.

I'm surprised Huckabee hasn't worked harder to bring attention to this. It's the sort of 'electability' argument that could help him in the primaries.

It Was Only a Matter of Time

There are green weddings, why not green funerals?

Klara Tammany's mother didn't want a typical American funeral. No embalming, no metal casket, not even a funeral home.

When she died after a long illness a couple of years ago, family members and friends washed and dressed her body and put it in a homemade wooden casket, which was laid across two sawhorses in the dining room of her condo in Brunswick.

Then, for two days, friends and family visited, brought cut flowers, wrote messages on the casket's lid and said goodbye.

"We had this wake, and it was wonderful," Tammany said...

Another alternative that is just emerging in Maine is natural burial in a green cemetery: wooded graveyards that ban chemicals and caskets that won't easily decompose.

Two such cemeteries are now preparing to do natural burials in Maine, in Limington and in Orrington. There are only about six operating green cemeteries in the United States, but many more are planned, according to those tracking the trend.

"I think it's a tidal wave that's coming," Tammany said. "The cultural way of dying and taking care of the dead is changing."

Next weekend, green funerals will be the subject of the annual meeting of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine, a nonprofit group that provides information about alternatives to modern funerals.

The 'Funeral Consumers Alliance?' It sounds like a demographic we all join eventually, but we're probably beyond caring when the day arrives.

It does make scenes like this one easier to imagine:

Internet Can't Keep Up with Demand for Bandwidth

There's nothing really notable in this story. It's interesting merely because they speak to the people who created the Internet, and Al Gore's name doesn't even come up:

Some warn that this rush will overwhelm service providers if they don't prepare for it. And the forecast for an ever-rising flood of data has some asking, is the Internet outdated?

"That's one way to put it," says Larry Roberts, who, in 1969, managed the Pentagon's APRAnet, the precursor to the Internet. "Another is that it's insufficient for the new kinds and new scale of today's transfers."

While some disagree with Roberts's characterization, the connection speeds reaching American homes are certainly behind those enjoyed by Japan, South Korea, and Sweden and could potentially limit Americans' online entertainment choices.

The Internet is perfectly tuned for e-mail, says Roberts. But 40 years ago, he and the many others who helped nurture today's commercial Web never imagined, nor planned for, streaming high-definition television shows to travel through the wires.