Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I'm Back, I Think

After just short of 39 months of silence, and far too much good-natured mocking from a reporter friend about how I'm a "disaffected Republican", I figured I'd see if this thing was still around. And it is. So maybe I'll have more to say. Stay tuned...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Competing "Blowout" Narratives

Last Friday, Politico ran a story suggesting that McCain might win in a blowout (50+ electoral vote margin) in November. The piece, based largely on interviews with political consultants and the like, started with the near-certain argument that any Republican but McCain would have been a dead man walking. They then assume that McCain will carry nearly every state that Bush carried in 2004, save for perhaps Iowa and Colorado, which he'll compensate for by winning New Hampshire and Michigan and/or Pennsylvania.

It took Democrats nearly a week to counter this narrative, but yesterday Bob Beckel penned a column for RCP arguing that while it'll be a blowout, it will be an Obama blowout. A side note to whoever asked Beckel to write this piece: pick someone with a little more credibility than Walter Mondale's campaign manager; I'll grant that the man knows something about blowouts, but only from the receiving end. Beckel's argument is that McCain will lose far more states Bush won than just Iowa and Colorado, and won't find the votes to make up for those losses.

I'm not sure who's right. Obviously, I'm hoping that the consultants quoted in the Politico's story are. But I have a sense that one of these two is correct - this won't be a squeaker like '04 was but will rather be a pretty clearcut affair. Call it a 60% chance of a 50+ vote margin either way/40% less than 50 votes. If I get time soon, I'll try and analyze where I think those votes are going.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This is Getting Pathetic?

We all know Obama's gaffe-prone; the media tries to cover up the smaller ones, and Obama turns the bigger ones (e.g. no preconditions for negotiations with Iran) into policy papers.

But being a naive idiot is one thing - rewriting history is an entirely different animal. And that's what he's done this time, claiming that his uncle (or maybe it's his grandfather - the article says both, but it's highly unlikely that both were actually involved in the war) was traumatized by the experience of liberating Auschwitz. Hey Barry, your Gramps served with Uncle Joe Stalin's 322nd Rifle Division? Or you're a misspeaking idiot? Which is it?

CBS doesn't even bother to fact-check the story, rather just spits out the contradictions about grandfather and uncle without referring to Wikipedia and its notation that the Soviets overran the camp. But then again (and this one's stuck in my craw all weekend), when the Tribune refers to a veteran of the 2nd Airborne Unit in a story - Unit?! What the hell is a unit? - why should I expect anything from the media anymore? All of this media idiocy and Obama BS is heightened against the Memorial Day backdrop.

UPDATE: The plot thickens! A closer reading of CBS's story causes this speed-reader to realize that Obama claims his uncle liberated Auschwitz. One problem. According to this Tribune article from last March, Obama's (white, Kansas-born) mother was an only child. No uncle. But of course Barry's daddy could have had an uncle fighting in World War II, and perhaps liberating another concentration camp with an American brigade as he says. Another problem. Barry's father is, as we all know, Kenyan. Had he had a brother, he would have had to have fought with British forces, as a member of one of the Empire's African Divisions. These forces were either commited to Africa for the entirety of the war or sent to Burma. No Kenyan uncle in Europe. So it's not just that he misspoke - he didn't mean Dachau, for example (which US forces did liberate) rather than Auschwitz - he flat-out invented an uncle. The Obama family is certainly a casualty of this campaign; first grandma's tossed under the bus in his race speech, now he's inventing uncles out of thin air. Especially against the backdrop of Memorial Day, on which we memorialize the sacrifice of real Americans, this story is so jarring that the media may be forced to take notice.

UPDATE 2: A lot of good stuff on this is getting compiled over at Hot Air - including the fact that he peddled some version of this BS back in 2002. Check it out.

(h/t LGF)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Kossacks Drinking Koolaid

The title isn't anything new, of course, just that when Dear Leader Kos himself speaks, they don't even bother to follow a link and check it out. Case du jour: Ohio polling. Kos busily hypes up a new SurveyUSA Ohio poll showing Obama with a 9 pt advantage over McCain and pointing to the trend lines from a previous poll (McCain +2 at 47-45) as evidence that Obama is uniting the party; he also points out that this is a poll of likely voters.

Now that struck me as odd - I haven't been poll-watching too closely of late, but I didn't think SUSA (an automated phone polling company) surveyed LVs, only registered voters. A quick visit to RealClearPolitics' Ohio polling page showed me to be correct. It also showed that Kos omitted any mention of a few other polls: a Quinnipiac poll of over 1200 RVs conducted during roughly the same period showing McCain up 4, and a Rasmussen poll of LVs (single-day, too so mostly unaffected by the news) showing McCain up 1. What's especially galling about this is that all one needed to do is follow a link provided by Kos to SUSA's site to see that indeed, it was a poll of registered voters. Currently the story's got 163 comments, not one of which seeks to correct Dear Leader's misstep. Listen, I'm not expecting these folks to get a whiff of reality anytime soon - but please, can they at least get the small stuff right?

Also, for what it's worth, I have to think that those Rasmussen numbers are closer to the truth than the SUSA numbers. Why? Well for one thing SUSA's crosstabs indicate that 17% of black voters in the sample support McCain. Case closed. Bunk poll. Interestingly, Rasmussen's poll also indicates that Obama has higher unfavorables, and lower favorables, than McCain in the Buckeye state.

This isn't to say that McCain is going to win Ohio, which he basically must do to win the White House, just that he's probably in a better position to do so than Obama. After all, Ohio Democrats are the sort that Obama has such trouble with - the kind who might confuse white wine and vinegar (and for whom screw-top bottles of vino are no longer just edging into acceptability) - which is to say blue collar types. Sure the state of the economy as portrayed by the media helps Obama, but it may not be enough if he comes across as a guy you wouldn't want to have a beer with (a metric I personally dislike, but appreciate when Democrats are dumb enough to nominate Obama-types).

Friday, May 16, 2008

How Long/Short is Congress's Institutional Memory?

Whereas the Republican-controlled 109th Congress was derided as the "do-nothing Congress," Pelosi & Co. seem determined to make the 110th the "do-something Congress" - even if nothing would be better. Lately, these do-something efforts in the House are aimed at undercutting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and have been conducted with a surprising amount of cleverness. To begin with, they've split the war funding into three parts: the funding itself, a much-hyped GI Bill, and the obligatory sop to the far-left mandating withdrawal.

On the funding portion, Republicans too showed that they could play cute, and borrowed a play from the Audacity of Hope (or at least Obama's play book): 132 Republicans voted present, protesting the fact that they had not been permitted to offer alternative legislation.

But the real cute part of this whole legislative mess is the benefits for veterans, a new "GI Bill" extending educational benefits for those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. To fund these programs, an estimated $52 billion over ten years, Democrats could have slashed discretionary spending elsewhere - the farm bill, for example. Instead, they chose to further burden their favorite target: the successful. Thankfully, unlike Obama's bone-headed conception of wealthy, they set the bar at a reasonable (though still outlandish in principle) $500,000 for individual filers and $1,000,000 for joint filers. The tax hike is also a relatively insignificant .47 percent.

But it's the principle of the matter. Congress has used taxes on the wealthy before to fund wars. Perhaps most notably, in 1898 Congress passed a 3% excise tax on telephone usage. In that day and age, such a tax was a tax on the wealthy. Unlike this tax, the Spanish-American telephone tax was likely proposed without the "screw the rich" intent - after all, no one can dare claim that the country's elite sat out the war (just look at the roster of the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry Regiment). But the telephone tax holds a lesson for Congress, and questions its institutional memory, as it wasn't repealed until 2006.

Now I dare not expect too much of Congress; it's unlikely that most remember when the Spanish-American war was fought, or where - though I do hope they can name our opponent and perhaps (though it may be a stretch) the conflict's casus belli. But they should clearly remember that such taxes outlive their usefulness by years, decades, even centuries, and should be levied carefully. Some enterprising Republican in the Senate (Gordon Smith or Susan Collins, perhaps, who are both moderates and facing stiff reelection battles) should attach an amendment putting a sunset on this tax, or perhaps even an annual renewal.

Democrats also engage - shocker - in some martial relativism here. While all wars are no doubt hell, as Sherman said, they aren't all the same. Congress enacted the GI Bill after the war to reward a whole generation of American men, many of whom had been drafted into the service (though the vast majority went willingly). In contrast, all of the men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are volunteers. I know, not a distinction I expect 435 of our not so bright and hardly best to grasp, but still.

32 Republicans voted in favor of the bill; many of those are facing tough battles for reelection and represent moderate districts where supporting the troops likely outweighs fiscal responsibility. Some of those 32, however, are just asshats such as Don Young, who no doubt understands that the revenue raised by this tax is fungible and could be diverted to...a bridge to nowhere? If it survives the Senate in its present form (where it'll put McCain in a hell of a bind), Bush will likely veto in the name of fiscal responsibility and urge Democrats to find the money elsewhere. Whether or not the veto gets overridden will likely be a result of two things: whether Boehner and the Republican leadership chooses to whip the vote and keep their party in line, and if not whether individual Republican representatives put fiscal responsibility over a vulnerability to cheap attacks that they don't support the troops (by Democrats and the media who keep twisting the knife in the back of the troops at every opportunity they get).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Poll: McCain, Obama, and Jewish Voters

An eight-day old Gallup poll had some interesting findings that I hadn't seen analyzed anywhere else: Obama leads McCain 61%-32% among Jewish voters. I'm hard-pressed to believe this - after all, Obama has been making some pretty absurd, patently anti-Israeli statements (e.g. Israel's a "constant sore"). If McCain can make serious inroads into Obama's support among Jewish voters, it'll help him put some additional states into play. Given Obama's history of outrageous comments, such inroads may not be out of the question.

Mississippi Musings

Almost unreported by the media on Tuesday night was Democrat Travis Childers' special election victory in Mississippi's First Congressional District. Democrats were ebullient, as well they should have been: Bush carried the First with 59% of the vote in 2000, and 62% in 2004; former Representative Roger Wicker (picked to serve out the remainder of retired Senator Trent Lott's term) won with 66% in '06 and a mind-boggling 79% in '04, when he didn't even have a real Democratic opponent.

What does this suggest? I'll take the optimistic position that it's a special election, that it means little or nothing. Only 107,239 votes were cast Tuesday night; Childers' win, by a margin of 57,800 votes, was a comfortable, though hardly earth-shattering 53.9%. Those 57,800 (a suspiciously nice number?) would admittedly have swung the election to the Democrat in the low-turnout '06 midterm, but in 2004 a swing of that magnitude would have reduced Wicker's margin of victory to a still-impressive 58%. Put another way, Childers received just 8,626 votes more than the Democratic candidate did in 2006. All in all, the numbers are a mixed message. Specials are all about turnout and some combination of pissed off/fired up Democrats, disaffected independents, and dispirited Republicans gave Childers the win. But in this "who knows what it says but it ain't earth-shattering," sky-is-partly-cloudy, glass-is-half-full analysis, I'm something of a voice in the wilderness.

Perhaps the dominant interpretation (voiced by Fred Barnes on Fox News last night) is that Mississippi's special election was driven by a rejection of Republicanism. It's plausible, given that this wasn't a truly anti-incumbent election, but rather may have been an anti-incumbent party election, which could be bad news. Yet while Mississippians sent a Democrat to Congress, McCain remains highly competitive with Obama nationally. Just how deep the GOP's woes are remains unclear, though retiring Representative Tom Davis (R-VA) released a 20-page memo outlining the dismal state of the party (in which he created a furor by using Obama and tar baby in the same paragraph, god forbid); this, of course, comes less than ten days after Newt Gingrich's widely-reported and similarly apocalyptic warnings.

The state of the party deserves a post in itself; right now I'm interested only in the state of the state (of Mississippi). Does Travis Childers' victory suggest that Mississippi is in play in November? This is a state that Bush carried easily, with 59% in '04 and 58% in 2000. On the face of things, it's a stretch to argue that Obama can make up that sort of deficit to put the Magnolia State in his column. But Mississippi also has one of the largest proportions of African-Americans in the nation - 36%, or using '06 census estimates from National Journal, 1,053,615(.48...) black voters. If all of the voting-age members of this demographic came out and voted, Obama would be in a much better place. If Childers' victory is indicative of widespread dissatisfaction among independents, and demoralized Republicans, it could be within the realm of possibility (thought at its outer reaches) that Obama could win. Perhaps more darkly still, if Obama wins, does Democratic Senate candidate Ronnie Musgrove win as well? Upsets like that are the sort that will give Democrats what I fear most: a fillibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Arrogant and Nonsensical

This particular combination often takes talent, and seems to be exclusively the purview of elected Democrats (see: Obama, Barack: Gaffes: "bitter"). This morning, a rank-and-file Obamamaniac got in on the act with this letter to the editor:

I find it difficult to understand the reasoning behind voters choosing Hillary Clinton on the Indiana ballot in order to defeat Barack Obama.

Voting is a privilege and if voters can't take the process seriously, I wish they would stay away from the voting booth.

Republicans should be embarrassed by this fiasco and so should all the talk show hosts who have encouraged it.

If Clinton wins the election, the same voters will have themselves to blame, but it will be too late to do anything about it. I find Obama a refreshing voice in this election and a man I can support to be president. I find Clinton a woman who will say and do anything to win the election. I find her disingenuous and untrustworthy.

I feel Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. has contributed to this mess because of his ego and his legacy will be forever tarnished.

I am proud to be an American, but I am ashamed of how little some Americans value the election process.

—Gloria Loehr
Ummm...? Choosing to defeat Barack Obama? They can't choose to support a candidate they believe better supports their values? Voting for a candidate with less than a snowball's chance in hell of winning the nomination isn't taking voting seriously? Hordes of college students flocking to the polls and voting for "Change" is taking voting seriously?

The arrogance is overwhelming. The cogency is utterly absent. It's possible that Ms. Loehr is venting primarily at those Republicans who crossed the aisle to keep Hillary in the race, but she fails to make that distinction thus portraying herself as a raging ignoramus. I imagine the Tribune was having some fun when they chose to print this one.

Noteworthy and Under-Reported

The Marines - and all the other branches of the armed services - exceeded their April recruitment goals. Even in a three-paragraph article, AP puts into play the inevitable Democratic talking point: "Recruiting is easier in a slow economy." That being said, the economy isn't as slow as AP would like to believe; perhaps improving conditions on the ground are causing young Americans to once again consider serving their country?

[I first caught this in the Tribune this morning, but couldn't find it on their website; the first Google News searches I ran yielded some interesting and irrelevant results]