Saturday, June 07, 2008

Trouble For November

Apparently, Obama had better sew up the wounds he has inflicted on the Democratic party and quickly, if this polling data is accurate:
Fifty-five percent (55%) of voters have a favorable opinion of Obama while 42% offer a negative assessment. Thirty-two percent (32%) have a Very Favorable opinion, 28% Very Unfavorable.

McCain is viewed favorably by 55% of voters nationwide and unfavorably by 43%. Those figures include 18% with a Very Favorable opinion of the Republican hopeful and 20% with a Very Unfavorable opinion.
Two candidates with similar favorable/unfavorable percentages. Shouldn't be too hard, but take a look at the divided support for Obama. His support is highly polarized, meaning that he could conceivably lose 28% of the voters who simply don't like him much, and that would leave him only 14% who would hold their noses and vote for him. McCain, who has been portrayed as a man out of touch with his party and a grudgingly accepted candidate, actually has a better chance of holding onto his support than Obama, the "uniter", does.

In other words, McCain's campaign strategy is pretty clear cut: he merely has to not make any major errors, while reaching out to working class Americans (whom I presume make up the lion's share of that bottm 28%). Obama, whose primary campaign was rife with missteps and faux pas ("you're likable enough," being only the first of many, and you wonder how his comments later in the campaign about working class white voters will play in states that had already voted prior to Pennsylvania). McCain's base actually looks safer than Obama's right now.

Obama's strategy is a bit trickier: he's going to have to run as a populist without running as a liberal. But not running as a liberal might piss off some of the top 32%, the college educated progressives who believe his mantra that the change we need is us.

Today's presumed announcement from Hillary Clinton will likely firm up his bottom numbers, lowering his unfavorables, but I wonder how much effect it's going to have on that bottom 28%? That extremity sounds like it's going to need a bit more convincing than a concession speech.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Friday Kitten Blogging


I iz hepping dadby fex a facs masheen!

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) With all the rejoicing in Obamawood, I wonder how comfortable Democrats are knowing the Republicans in Florida and Michigan chose the Democratic nominee? Manichaean candidate, anyone?

2) "Is that a penis in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" (WARNING: article is rife with in-you-end-o)

3) You'd think the opposite would happen, but you'd be wrong. Somehow the laws of supply and demand break down in hyperinflative environments.

4) Perhaps the long national nightmare is over. And perhaps not.

5) It's hard to believe I'm saying this, but it's nice to see at least one Bushie with a sense of responsibility. You might recall this stems from the brouhaha over misplaced nuclear material on a flight, and nearly everyone figured the buck with stop with some airmen. Uh uh!

6) 5.5%. That's a half-percent up from last month. That's the highest monthly increase in twenty years and represents more jobs lost in any one month since the recession of the early 80s.

7) Not that you care, but CARE does. (OK, admittedly, it was a cheap way to stretch for a headline)

8) Next week, I will find out what my next phone looks like. As I have rather large and clumsy fingers (despite these daily typing workouts), I'm hoping for a slightly easier to use keypad.

9)'s a shock! And it even has a built-in way for McCain to run against his own party!

10) Ummmmmmmmmmmm, yea, this will work for Barack Obama...still, it's kind of a cute idea in the "soccer mom" mold.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Is Joe Trippi the Obama camp discussing the Obama veep spot with

former Congressman Harold Ford, Jr?

More to come...............

UPDATE by Carl

(h/t to Katrina for her quick posting of a garbled message)

Your humble correspondent lucked into dining at a restaurant near his office when in walked Harold Ford with someone I tentatively identified as Joe Trippi (the tip was real time and the restaurant was dark), but after further inspection later realized it was not Trippi, but another advisor to the Obama campaign, based on some of the things he said to Ford.

The pair sat at the table next to me and after a brief cell phone conversation on the Congressman's part, began what I can only describe as earnest discussions about the potential of Harold Ford assuming the Vice Presidential spot on the Obama ticket.

Not so fast, this might not be as outlandish as you think. Ford is chairman of the Clinton-initiated Democratic Leadership Council and is a popular Congressman from a key swing Southern state. You may recall that he was victimized in 2006 by the Rovian "Call Me, Congressman" smear campaign that blasted across YouTube like a Mentos in a bottle of Diet Coke.

Ford is a centrist Democrat whose inclusion would certainly attract many Clinton supporters, particularly in the South. He has strong credibility with the religious sector, but has repudiated many of the issues that would be raised in the general election regarding the Reverends Wright and Pfleger.

Because of his position as an analyst on MSNBC, Ford has not endorsed Barack Obama, of course, but it wouldn't be a stretch to say he could easily shed the MSNBC job and go to work on the campaign now that things have all but settled out.

I obviously cannot vouch for anything beyond what I overheard, and it's also likely that I caught a continuation of a previous conversation where this was all considered hypothetical.

But someone is talking about it.

Why I Think Hillary Should Fight On

I'm often asked how I can support the "corporatist" candidate in the Democratic primary.

As opposed, I assume to the non-corporatist candidate who magically pulled three campaign financings out of his ass, for legislature, Senate and now President. Anyone who believes Obama isn't as beholden to corporate interests as any other candidate is fully deluding himself, but I'll get back to that in a moment.

Believe it or not, on the liberal scale, I consistently score to the left of Dennis Kucinich, so no, Hillary does not come close to representing the ideal changes I'd like to see in this nation.

But she's the strongest step in that direction.

Here's how I view political history: the cyclic nature of short-term changes is one of broad sweeps of the pendulum from one end of the spectrum to the other, extremist and ultimately unhealthy to the nation's well-being.

But like all pendulums, there are larger forces at work besides gravity: momentum, friction, and periodicity all play a part in change.

Long term, it would hard to deny that two opposing forces struggle against each other: the isolationism of effectively an island nation, bordered by only two other countries (no other major nation save Japan and Australia has fewer), and the inevitable march of time forcing us into new technologies and exposure to new ideas and cultures.

Ultimately, it is THIS battleground that I want to win a progressive agenda on, and if that means sacrificing the short term liberal agenda (which in truth, is nothing more than another group of elitists imposing their will on me), then so be it.

Now, to Obama. Run with me a little on this, it will involve some suspension of disbelief:

As a result of an unhappy circumstance, I was forced to watch "All the President's Men" last night on DVD.

As I sat there watching it for the umpteenth time, discussing it with my daughter with regards to how all political campaigns involve dirty tricks and how hard it is to uncover them if they are financed and backed with a lot of money, a few tumblers clicked in my head.

In the world, as a free agent, is a man who is fully capable of executing the ultimate "rat fuck" on the Democratic party: Karl Rove.

In watching how the Watergate investigation revealed this entire netherworld of Republican operatives only too happy to do the dirty work to set up the nomination of George McGovern, it occured to me, "what if this was the scenario that played out in 2008?"

Think about it: Hillary was the nominee-presumptive in December, and despite her missteps and gaffes along the way, has garnered more votes, and certainly more Democratic votes, than any other nominee for President. Ever.

And still hasn't secured the nomination and sure looks to be a fair distance from doing so.

What if these nickle-and-dime contributions to Obama's campaign weren't from honest citizens, but were part of a larger campaign to push a different candidate for the November election, one who would be almost guaranteed to lose the important states that Democrats need to win: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Michigan?

I added those last two, mostly because in those instances we have overt evidence of Republican involvement in the Democratic campaign: both Florida and Michigan (Florida more so) moved their primaries ahead of New Hampshire and Ohio, and as such have been punished by the DNC, hampering Hillary's efforts and crippling her chances of taking the nomination on the first ballot.

The Florida initiative was promoted and passed by a Republican-controlled legislature and signed by a Republican governor.

Florida. Remember them?

The Michigan case is harder to make, as the governor is a Democrat (but an Obamist) and half of the legislature is controlled by Democrats, but that still leaves significant input from the Republicans.

Too, Obama had significant support from Republicans who crossed over to vote for him in (nominally) Democratic primaries that were open to all (which is why Hillary has a case that more Democrats voted for her than Obama, nevermind more votes, full stop.)

Indeed, at one point when it looked like Obama might knock Hillary out early on, Republicans suddenly started voting in large numbers for Hillary, primarily in Texas.

Apparently, the powers that be that would run this kind of trick didn't want to show their hand too early. They had to extend the season a bit to cover for their own candidate, whomever that might be (at that time, the race for the GOP nod was still in the air).

One more point to make before getting on to conclusions: much if not most of Obama's support comes from states which held caucuses. Caucuses are ideal places for infiltration and dirty tricks, since there's no real paper record of what transpired: you stand in a room, are counted, and then recounted until one person wins a majority.

How hard is it, particularly since caucuses tend to be open to all, for a Republican squad to dispatch posers? Not hard at all.

You think this is all unlikely, yet in 1972, there's Nixon's CREEP running a dirty tricks operation that not only had Muskie knocked out of the race on a very trumped story about him crying over the "Canuck letter" (even then, the media played lap dog to Republican politics), but ensured the weakest possible candidate would take the nomination.

So, here's the scenario: you have an uberstrong candidate, clearly unbeatable in the general election, and a really weak case to make for your own party, no matter who the candidate is (Nixon was despised in 1972, almost as much as Bush is today)

You have the media in your back pocket. No one can deny that Obama benefitted clearly from the Hillary hatred of the media...the GOP-owned media.

You have a candidate who is irresistible to liberal Democrats: a first-term Senator, African American, who espoused 6 years ago his opposition to the war and four years ago his desire to bring the country together and heal its wounds.

Let's call him the Manichaean Candidate.

And you have a political machine that has shown its ability and propensity in the past for stealing elections (Ohio in 2004, Florida in 2000, and Austin in 1994).

In all of these, Karl Rove has played a vital role, indeed, the key role, in swiping these elections.

Would it be too hard to imagine that, given the intricate mechanics of the Watergate scandal, that Rove took a look at the environment he grew up in in the party, and saw how to improve it and to nearly bulletproof it?

Apparently not.

Now, yes, this has been a fairy tale, but....

If it turns out to be true, remember you read it here first.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Backing His Way Into Victory

This is likely the last negative column I get to write about Obama, so you'll pardon me if I let it all fly now.

While the inevitable march of Obombers and their mindless drones has at last reached the conclusion that they seemed in their Hillary-hatin' cups determined to foist upon the Democratic party, we should probably pause a second and reflect on just how damaging their Manichaean quest has been to the party and to the chances of securing the House and Senate further.

This is a party that was only able to wrest Congress away, and that by the slimmest of margins in a culture that was thoroughly disgusted with all things Republican, particularly Bush, by hewing to the right. The people who ran in 2006 ran under the regime of Rahm Emanuel, who at the time was among the most hated Democratic leaders (and probably still is).

The Senate seats won, in particular, were won for the most part by running a close-to-pro-life ticket in states like Montana and Colorado. Hillary Clinton seemed a natural progression to nudge the country slightly to the left in her first term, then more in her re-election campaign.

Clearly, that was not going to sit well with the minority of Democrats who a) hate all things Clinton, and b) can't bear the thought of evolution. For these folks, a jackhammer is sufficient when a scalpel is needed.

There's the overwhelming need, I suppose, to try to establish some power base of about a twenty percent of the country, but at what cost to the nation as a whole? Is this any different than Ralph Nader throwing the 2000 election to George Bush? What is this basically suicidal need to run anyone who is bright and shiny and new, when governing demands someone who knows the ins and outs of governance?

No one is more adamant about the need for change in politics and governance in the country than I am, but I also remember the last time we tried replacing a tired, corrupt administration with a "fresh face" who spoke well, and held a lot of promise, and was even one of the most intelligent men to ever sit in the White House.

Remember him? Jimmy Carter?

His administration did some good things for this country, to be sure, but simply put, he could never live up to the troubles in the world that he found himself in, and I suspect Obama will be the same kind of President, if he makes it past the general election.

And Carter begat Ronald Reagan. Obama could beget, who? Mitt Romney?

Pendulums swing, but they don't miss the midpoints in their swing. It's almost like the bizarro world, non-reality-based liberal wing has decided that they'd wrench the pendulum out of its fulcrum and drag it kicking and screaming to the far left.

Trouble with that is, once you've done that, pendulums tend to swing back as violently and extremely. There's a majjority seating on the Supreme Court that is going to vehemently enforce conservative values and ideology and any attempt to alter the political dynamic by uprooting the nation and shoving it leftward is going to run up against that rather large obstacle.

With any luck, the SCOTUS could be lulled into a passive mood, but not if they feel pressure from the right wing to become activist, which is pretty much certain no matter which of these three is President, but more so if Obama wins.

And we must keep in mind that, given at least a half dozen chances to score a knockout blow against Hillary during the primary season, Obama couldn't muster up enough support outside of his narrow-interest base to throw her off stride, while in the later primaries, the ones that should have been coronations of an Obama candidacy, enough anger and rancor remained that she actually gained support amongst her base and chipped away at his base.

This is not the sign of a particularly strong candidate, that his own base begins to desert him at a time when they should be more confident than ever of his leadership.

In backing into the nomination, not a given as I write this, but it seems likely that Hillary will concede tonight, Obama has a two-fold task: one, convince enough of Hillary's supporters that he deserves their support and two, make inroads into traditional Republican and independent bases.

This last, I think, will be the harder sell for Obama. Clearly, the patina of "purity" that Obama had has been washed clean: the Wright and Pfleger videos, his Rezko ties, his elitism towards anyone who's hands get dirty for a living, or who believes in church and God (apparently, something he's now lost), or who owns a gun, and his apparent arrogance.

After all, what other less-than-first-term Senator would dare challenge the establishment for the sake of his own political ambitions?

We have a saying in city politics here: That man is running like he's got something to run from.

As opposed "to run for."

There are many who disagree with me, who say Obama is different, that he will change the political dynamic.

Perhaps they are right.

Perhaps Obama really is who he says he is, and will change the political dynamic and put this country back on course. I will admit the possibility that one man could do that, however unlikely and unprecedented in the history of democracies reaching back to Athens.

And perhaps, not only are they right, but they are right in ways even they aren't aware.

Maybe he's worse than the average politically motivated corrupt politician, a flim flam man.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

You Were A Prick...

...but it's been a year, dad.

And Now For News That Shouldn't Surprise Us...

Remember those touted "rebate checks" that were going to spur the economy?

Um...not so much....
MIAMI — The federal government is showering households with tax rebates to spur spending and invigorate a troubled economy. But many Americans are so consumed with debt and the soaring price of gasoline that they are opting to save the money or use it to pay bills, according to surveys, sales data and interviews with people from Florida to California.

Between late April and the end of last week, the Treasury handed out more than $50 billion of the $100 billion in tax rebates it plans to distribute to 132 million households. But only once in the last six weeks have chain stores registered an increase in sales, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, whose weekly sales survey is a widely watched barometer.

“The initial sense is that people are not running out to the malls to spend their checks,” said Stuart G. Hoffman, chief economist at the PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh. “It’s not quite proving to be a hot potato that’s burning a hole in people’s pockets.”
You read that right folks: only one week in the past 6 has seen an increase in consumer spending. I'd lay pretty good money that it was the second week in May, after everyone had sorted out their mortgages and rent, and decided, yes, the had a little extra to spend.

Here's where the lunatic logic of the Republican party comes into play: When tax rebates have been handed out to Americans, only 20 to 50 percent actually gets flushed back into the economy as fresh spending. THe rest, the other half to four-fifths, gets stuck paying down debts or otherwise improving the balance sheets of consumers.

In short, rebates don't really work. Well, that's not true, they COULD work, but only when consumers have enough income coming in and their debt levels are in line with those incomes. Like when the economy is humming along, for example. Which is when they wouldn't need them, right?

A rebate has to be very carefully timed to be distributed at the precise moment when the economy is just beginning to go south, but the effects of the souring economy haven't been felt in the pockets of the average taxpayer, in other words. Since no government in their right mind is going to do anything but talk up the economy at that stage, rebates are esentially ineffectual.

Rather than distribute that money, what the government could have done was make it 100% fresh money in the economy, and spent it themselves. In an ideal world, this is how it should go, but in that world, pigs really do fly.

The government would spend this money on new initiatives, carefully targeted by sector and geography, and thus drum up further private investment. Things like economic development, seed money for small businesses, and other investments that would show a long term return of tax revenue would be ideally suited for this money.

Further, if the government really thought the country was going to go to hell in a handbasket, it could invest this money in infrastructure repair which would have a two-fold effect: it would prime the country for the eventually recovery at the same time it would provide jobs for the working class, those who are most affected by the current sordid state.

If only Bill Clinton could have run for a fourth term...