Politics: January 2004 Archives

Dean is winning!

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Dean has more delegates than any other candidate, including Kerry. Kerry has 94, while Dean has 113. Of course, 2161 delegates are needed, and most of Dean's delegates are "unpledged".

These unpledged "superdelegates" -- delegates who are not selected through primaries, but go to the convention automatically because of their standing in the party (governors, senators, party officials, etc.) -- can change their informal support at any time, so they really don't count yet (as some will surely change their preferences over time). So really, Kerry is winning, but hey, Dean supporters, take what you can get! ;-)

Also take note that Kucinich has exactly one delegate who is not himself. Heh heh heh. slashdot.org

Week Off

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I found very little to be interesting in this week's political events, so I am taking the week off from Sunday Thoughts. I predict Lieberman will drop out this week. See you next week ... slashdot.org

Dean QuickHit

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Dean's "I Have A Scream" speech is killing him. I won't say that what Dean said or did in that speech reflected any deficiency on his part, except for one: he does not know how to prevent himself from looking bad. It's not that what he said or did was wrong, but he appeared foolish to many people, and it is hurting him.

Not that I feel bad for him. I dislike him, and I've been predicting for months -- ever since I saw him on a major Meet the Press interview last summer -- that as more people saw more of him, as the races heated up, they would turn away. I just didn't imagine it would be over something so trivial.

OK, I guess I can't say this speech did him in: after all, he was slated to take 30% or more in Iowa, and only managed 18%, before The Scream. So he was already dropping, if you believe the many polls. Maybe Democrat voters are actually evaluating the man and his views and abilities, and not his scream. slashdot.org

Sunday Thoughts

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I don't have a lot to write about this week. The Sunday shows were devoted to the horse race in Iowa, and it's not interesting to write about, to me.

This Week had an excellent little dramatization of a caucus. I've never been to a caucus before (though I hope to go to the Republican caucus in WA this year, for the experience), but I had most of it figured out, but it was good to see it, to get a better idea.

The one thing I really learned is that this year, a simple toll free number will be used by the caucuses to report the results. This could lead to very quick statewide results, perhaps having complete results by 10 p.m. CST. And I wonder if anyone will try to hack the system.

Note that the results we get are not the final tally. This is the precinct caucus date. What is chosen are the number of delegates that go to their respective county conventions, which meet in March to select delegates to the congressional district conventions, which in April choose delegates to the state convention, which in June chooses delegates to the national convention in July. What we get Monday is merely a rough draft of what Iowa will send to the national convention.

Fox News Sunday had an interesting interview with the Sergeant at Arms of the House of Representatives, the guy who announces the President when he addresses Congress. His friends try to trick him into saying, "Mr. President, the Speaker of the United States!" He wields a +8 Mace of Disruption, for use in case members of Congress come to blows. slashdot.org

More on Polls

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NBC is reporting a poll it did with the WSJ, and one of the questions is: "Does the President deserve to be re-elected?" What a horrible, useless, question. The answer is necessarily "No" for any value of "President." Nobody deserves to be re-elected. Only someone who has been re-elected deserves to have been re-elected.

The question makes no sense whatsoever. It's like asking if someone deserves to win a football game. Ask me after the game; if they won, they deserved it. If they lost, they didn't. slashdot.org

Even More Lies

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Most of the time when the media reports a poll result, it quotes them as hard figures. An MSNBC/Reuters poll is reported on MSNBC as Dean in front with 28%, Gephardt in second with 23%, Kerry in third with 17%, and Edwards in fourth with 14%.

The problem is that the poll is +/- 4.5%, a nine-point swing. This means that Edwards could be as 9.5-18.5%; Kerry 12.5-21.5%; Gephardt 18.5-27.5%; and Dean 23.5-32.5%. Gephardt could be in the lead, and there is no rational basis for concluding otherwise.

The +/- 4.5% means "we are not saying Gephardt is at 23%, we are saying he is between 18.5% and 27.5%." That is what it means. Edwards and Gephardt could be even. Kerry could be ahead of Dean. Not tomorrow, right now, according to this poll. This poll says there is a three-way tie for the lead right now, not that Dean is in the lead by himself.

While I am on the subject of polls, some of you may not be aware, but who is allowed to participate in Presidential Debates is essentially decided by a private bipartisan commission that works to keep out third parties. One of the ways they do this is by saying you have to achieve a certain percentage in certain polls to be considered a viable candidate that is allowed to be in the debates.

This is such an atrocious thing on many levels, first and foremost because our choices are being limited arbitrarily by private people who have political interest in doing so. But the criteria they use is astonishingly questionable. We have seen many polls be flat-out wrong over the last several years, such that to rely on them as a basis for the slection of our leaders is patently ridiculous and borderline criminal.

But take it to the next step: who is to say these polls are not being falsified? We have put a lot more emphasis on verifying voting data, which is a good thing, but we are using unofficial private polling data to actually determine whom we get to vote for, and there is not the slightest bit of public oversight of the data. If it is possible that state officials are committing fraud in actual elections to hurt Bush or Gore, why do we not question whether it is possible that private people are committing fraud in the polls to hurt Nader or Perot? slashdot.org

Sunday Thoughts

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Howard's Lies

Howard Dean's lies keep piling up.

On This Week he once again restated the lie that he is the only one in the race who has balanced a budget, but Dick Gephardt, as House Minority Leader, was instrumental in balancing the federal budget when Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House and Bill Clinton was President. Even if Dean was more important to his process than Gephardt was to his -- I don't know how it works in Vermont -- Gephardt still balanced the budget.

Then again, Gephardt pointed out this lie at the debate last week, and apparently Dean wasn't damaged by the revelation enough to make him stop saying it. He even said it again in tonight's debate.

Along with this, he continued to deceive on taxes. He said there was no middle class tax cut, because "the average person in the bottom 60% got $304 (in tax cuts), while their property taxes, their college tuition, and their health insurance each went up more than $304."

This startled me for many reasons, apart from the obvious fact that there is a middle class tax cut, and further that increases in property taxes are largely not attributable to federal policies, but to state policies. And by far, the largest percentage of state shortfalls had nothing to do with decreases in federal funds, but decreases in expected revenues from other sources, so to blame Bush for this is ludicrous.

What startled me was that it sounded like he was saying increases in tuition and insurance are tax increases. But no, he couldn't have meant that, I thought. He must have meant the tax cut wasn't enough to cover increases in cost of living. But then he reiterated: "You got $304, but college tuition went up much more than that: there already was a middle class tax increase."

So first, he says increases in college tuition, and medical insurance, are tax increases. He might as well have said that Mars is the Blue Planet. Or that the book of Job is in the New Testament. It's a lie.

Second, if you got $304 of a tax cut, you do not have a child going to college. You would have gotten an extra $400 just in the child tax credit increase alone. It's a lie.

Third, he uses the average tax cut of the "bottom 60%" to talk about middle class tax cuts, but the bottom 60% not only includes many poor people (who don't pay any taxes at all, and get no tax cut, thereby really skewing the scale), but it excludes much of the actual middle class, which goes up to -- according to most people, at a minimum -- the bottom 80%. So he includes poor people and excludes the top part of the middle class in order to get a smaller tax refund number. It's a lie.

But the biggest whopper I've seen lately is one that is slowly coming to the forefront, though it was reported months ago: that Dean was against the war on Iraq, while his opponents were in favor of it. It isn't true. It's fiction. Dean was no more against the war than Kerry or Gephardt or Edwards. And, for what it's worth, the same goes for Wesley Clark.

Both men favored the alternative war resolution sponsored by Senators Joe Biden (D-DE) and Richard Lugar (R-IN), which was essentially the same as the one that was passed, but required a new UN Resolution requiring disarmanent and compliance with past resolutions, and required the President to return to Congress to certify that Iraq is a threat, should diplomacy in the UN fail.

If this resolution had passed, as Clark and Dean favored, nothing would have changed. Bush went to the UN and got a resolution requiring disarmament and compliance with past resolutions, just as the resolution required. Bush tried and failed to get UN support for action, just as the resolution required. Bush justified action with the threat of WMD, just as the resolution required.

The resolution only would have required one additional thing, that Bush send a letter to Congress. It may have been significant in its political effects, but it would not have done anything to prevent war.

Realize this simple fact: Dean supported giving the President the power to do exactly what the President did in Iraq. If Howard Dean had his way, as a member of Congress, Bush would have gone to war anyway. He is lying when he says otherwise, as he often has. Make no mistake about this.

And then ask yourself 1. how much of an anti-war candidate he truly is, and 2. how much of an honest, straight-shooting, no-nonsense, alternative to status quo, he really is.

In the Iowa debate tonight, John Kerry pressed Dean on this again. Dean responded: what really matters is that people are dying in Iraq, and that it is Bush's fault. That's a valiant effort to change the subject, but no, Howard, what matters in this primary campaign is that you've been lying to the public, telling them that you were against the war while your opponents were for it, telling the public that you were an alternative to what they did, while you supported the same thing they did.


Lieberman was asked in the debate tonight if he would give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, if elected President. He said yes. The notion that this would probably be an unconstitutional and unsuccessful infringement on states' rights was left unmentioned.

Then Lieberman said he favored amnesty for illegal immigrants. Gephardt echoed the sentiment, saying, "If people have been here, obeyed the laws, ... they deserve the right to get into legal status."

To Lieberman and Gephardt: someone who is here and does not have legal status is not obeying the laws. It's like saying that people who drive 100 mph, but don't violate any traffic laws, should not be given tickets.

On The McLaughlin Group, Lionel Barber from the Financial Times said that the Bush immigration plan was designed to benefit corporations, and I think he has a strong point. How is an individual worker aided significantly by getting 3-6 years of work, when right now they get an indefinite number? How is the community of immigrants helped? Who is really helped here?

Wal-Mart and other corporations (largely agriculture, maybe?) are the ones who hire these illegal immigrants, who have to deal with skirting the laws, and who -- though they may pay more to the workers themselves -- perhaps stand to benefit.

I just don't see any real benefit to anybody in this plan, except for businesses. Not that I am against helping businesses, but to convince me to forgive the breaking of the law, I need more. It doesn't help the people who are fighting an overcrowding influx of illegal aliens (it only hurts them by encouraging an increase in illegal immigration), it doesn't significantly help the illegal aliens (it forces them to leave after 3-6 years), and I don't see how it helps the economy significantly. slashdot.org

We Must Have Order

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Order the Democratic candidates with the candidate you like the most (in terms of policies, not ability to govern or temperment or personality etc.) first, descending to the one you like least, last. Bonus: if you could select any person -- any at all -- to be President, who would it be? You can joke if you like, but I think serious answers (noting especially people eligible for the job) might be more interesting. My list (feel free to add notes at the end):
  1. Lieberman
  2. Kerry
  3. Dean
  4. Clark
  5. Gephardt
  6. Mosely-Braun
  7. Edwards
  8. Kucinich
  9. Sharpton

It's hard to arrange some of them toward the middle, as let's face it, their policies are all quite similar in some cases. Kucinich gets the edge over Sharpton because I admire some of his policies on trade. Dean ... I want to put him lower because he is so damned vague on the details. Same thing with Clark. If I knew more about them, I might bump them below Gephardt.

If I could pick any person to be President, it'd be Newt Gingrich. Give me a better answer! slashdot.org

Sunday Thoughts

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Iowa is coming up in a couple of weeks, and the first Iowa debate took place this Sunday. Perhaps now is a time to answer that burning question: where is Iowa?

I think it is somewhere in the Midwest. I know Radar O'Reilly lives there.

I could say a lot of different things about Dean, the Democrats, and Bush, but there's just little new to say. I hate you, you hate me, and Lieberman doesn't like anybody very much. That about sums up the bulk of the Sunday shows.

The debates were not much more interesting. Dean, once again, was the focus of attention, and once again, he faltered several times, but nothing too significant. He was hammered over his statements about Bin Laden and Hussein, and about not releasing his records. Several of the attacks were unfair (Kerry misrepresented Dean on a few matters), but several were entirely fair (Lieberman insisting Dean open his records, and Gephardt slamming him on his support of NAFTA).

Dean also said the middle class got no tax cut. Now, I know what he meant: he meant that, on balance, the middle class was paying more in state and local taxes than they received in a federal tax cut. But apart from his reasoning on that matter being questionable, he actually said the middle class got no tax cut. But it did. So he got beat up on that.

So, that was the debate. Apart from the fact that it focused on Dean, there was no clear winner.


Just about the only interesting thing I heard on the Sundat shows was the heads talking about whether the attacks the Democrats are making on each other is a going to be damaging to the eventual nominee. I sure hope so, of course. And I think so. But is it wrong? I don't think so.

As I've mentioned before, if you are Gephardt or Lieberman or Kerry, I think you are better served having Bush, rather than Dean, as President. Dean will, if elected, ruin the Democratic party -- from the perspective of these Senators -- for years to come. He is against them on the two major issues: national security and middle class taxes. He will polarize the country even more (if that's possible) and, with a Republican congress, won't get much done.

If you are a moderate Democrat Senator, you would rather see Bush elected, drive up animosity toward the Republicans, and come in and win an open office in 2008 -- perhaps bringing in Congress with you -- than have Dean step in, and ruin all that. If Dean is elected, against all odds, he will be more hated than Clinton was by the right wing. You think the left wing is being reactionary? Just wait until 2008, if Dean wins. See what the right wing will do. It's not a long-term winning strategy for the party.

So yeah, it is a good thing for these men to beat up on Dean, for the sake of what they think the party should be. It would be like if Pat Buchanan won the Republican nomination. It would so alienate the country, it would kill the Republican party. Not because he is far right as Dean is (on many issues) far left, but because they are just such negative figures for the party.

Bush and Clinton, both well-hated by the opposite party, are essentially moderates. Clinton may be far-left, and Bush may be far-right, but both have essentially governed from just next to center. Bush, with Congress, is spending a lot of money on social programs and gets a lot of bipartisan support for the biggest bills. Clinton, with Congress, balanced the budget. Sure, they are on the right and left: Bush signed the late-term abortion ban, while Clinton vetoed it. Bush stopped stem cell research, and Clinton instituted "don't ask, don't tell."

But neither went "far enough" according to the extreme wing of their party, on these and many other issues. They may have talked conservatively and liberally, but they acted mostly moderately.

But not so with people like Dean and Buchanan. They would not govern from the middle. They would take "extreme" positions and stick to them. They would alienate the nation far more than it has been alienated over the past 11 years, when it became exceptionally fashionable to hate the President.

This Week did a "superdelegate" poll: a poll of 801 Democratic Senators, members of Congress, governors, and party activists. One third of them have committed to a candidate, and 89 of them to Dean, followed by Kerry (57), Gephardt (46), Clark (22), Lieberman (20), Edwards (16). Bringing up the rear are Mosely Braun (4), Sharpton (3), and Kucinich (2).

I suspect that half of Kucinich's votes are from himself.

But this shows what I am saying: Dean can be stopped, if the Senators join forces. Even if it is just the Big Three. They have the power -- in the polls, in the party leadership -- to stop Dean, if they work together. Their interests are all so similar. They agree on most of the issues, they agree Dean is bad for the party and can't win, they agree Bush should be defeated.

It's still early, but I expect two of the three to drop out after New Hampshire, and rally behind whoever is doing the best against Dean. The problem is that if they wait that long, it may be too late. If Gephardt loses in Iowa, though, he could drop out early and throw support to Kerry, possibly even making Kerry the front-runner in New Hampshire.

If Kerry wins there, Lieberman can drop out, and Edwards can follow suit and give him South Carolina. For Lieberman, the choice will be easy. For Edwards, still leading in South Carolina at this point, it won't be; it will take some heavy pressure from the moderate Democrats. But it is doable.

And the winner is ...

Who is the best candidate for you? Find out! This is a quiz from the PBS News Hour and WBUR (NPR Boston), and it is quite good. Of course, I disagreed with most of the candidates on most issues, so my results were uninteresting. :-) It's an in-depth quiz on 14 issues, so set aside a good half hour or more to take it.

Bin Laden

Clark says he would have captured Bin Laden. Dude: no one believes you. This is called "desperation," and it ain't any prettier on you than it is on the drunk girl at last call.


OK, I'll mention one other thing about Dean: he is the one who said the Democrats need to stop talking about "guns, God, and gays." And now he wants to talk more about God, saying he prays regularly, believes in God, reads the Bible, is a Congregationalist.

I won't question his personal religious beliefs. If he says they (whatever they are) are his, I have no reason to doubt him. The problem is that many people won't believe him, because of the manner in which he brought it up, in the context of campaigning. He even admitted it. He said, "I need to learn to talk about stuff other people like to talk about, to make people like me better." It's pandering, and he cops to it. I don't think this will win him votes.

Also, Dean says his favorite book of the Bible is the book of Job, saying his situation is similar to Job's. But Job was chastised by God for complaining about his situation. Who then shall chastise Dean for his complaints? (And I'll make no judgment on Dean's original, and false, assertion that Job is in the New Testament. I'll let you, the reader, make your own determination of whether that was a mere thinko, or evidence of an egregious lack of Biblical knowledge for someone who regularly reads the Bible and prays every day.)

Further, he is a self-proclaimed Congregationalist, which is a church of people who don't believe in any specific beliefs, essentially. Congregationalists have no particular beliefs, even among themselves, in a given congregation. Now, that's a bit of an oversimplification, because I don't want to get too much into it, but I just think it won't be a winning strategy for him, in large part given his church of choice. People who vote for religious reasons are not, in general, sympathetic to the congregationalist view of religion.

Maybe most people won't look at it that deeply that it will matter, I don't know. But Dean's the one bringing up his own religion, so it is fair game for the media to consider the nature of his beliefs (not that I think it would ever be inappropriate, but many people do), and that's a dangerous road to go down, especially in a national election.


Congrats to NASA. I've heard some people saying, in essence, "suck on it, Europe!" I hate to admit it -- I may have my American citizenship revoked -- but I get no pleasure in us succeeding where Europe failed in recent weeks (assuming they do not regain control of Beagle 2). Sure, I'd rather we succeed and have them fail than the other way around, but I get no pleasure in their failure. I'd rather have us both succeed.

I still hate the United Nations, though.

Power Player

Fox News Sunday has introduced a new feature since Chris Wallace took over, Power Player of the Week. It's a nice idea, whereby they feature someone in Washington who is not well-known. Last week they talked to a powerful PR consultant. This week, they talked to the C-SPAN CEO and president (and host), Brian Lamb.

Lamb, like every C-SPAN host, never says his name on the air. The idea is to be the antithesis of the network news, where the journalist often gets in the way of the news. "Play it down," he says. When Wallace asks him to say his name on the air in the interview, he declines. "Why?" "Just for the fun of it," Lamb says. I like that guy. slashdot.org
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from January 2004.

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