Friday, March 28, 2008

Hillary's Last Stand? Obama the Manchurian Candidate? Nonsense!

Media pundits like the "journalists" over at the FOX disinformation Network have been increasingly shrill in their questionable (or in the case of Fox, strategic) criticism of Clinton for what appear to be very minor campaign exaggerations and omissions from her personal history.

FOX is also revelling in the Democrat sparring combined with hugely exaggerated concerns about how Rev. Wright's left wing nonsense may have tainted Obama into becoming some sort of Socialist Manchurian Candidate. Even the somewhat liberal Juan Williams was stupidly nodding his head in agreement as Laura Ingraham, glowing, suggested how Rev. Wright's mostly foolish, though sometimes just provocative views on the US global role should lead to some sort of anti Obama Intifada.

Note to pundits: Are you so poisoned by fame and money that you have no interest in helping Joe SixPack American digest the nuances of the critical vote in November? Rational cases can be made for and against all the policies advocted by McCain, Clinton, and Obama. This would add to the debate, and to all the candidates credit they want that dialog to happen.

But you pundit shi*heads! won't allow it. Sure, it's partly our fault for tuning in to hear the nonsense, but it is mostly YOUR FAULT for being bored with real analysis and reporting this like a horserace rather than a policy showdown. Shame on you all.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Guilt by Association, Guilt by Exaggeration?

The media frenzy over comments by Hilary Clinton that she was under fire in Bosnia when in fact she was only under the threat of fire are really a stretch by pundits who have tired of the real issues or simply do not want to address them in any depth.

TV Journalists - and one has to use that term very lightly these days - are failing in dramatic fashion to inform people about issues and pit the candidates against each other for the right reason - addressing policy differences. Instead, we see nonsensical concerns over exaggerations and personal associations.

Comments by Barack Obama's bombastic former pastor, Rev. Wright, are also being discussed breathlessly as if Obama's sitting in a church pew during a handful of emotionally charged rants by his pastor somehow means he has become a disciple of some anti-US cult.

Clearly, many of Wright's views are not in synch with most of mainstream America although these views are in touch with perhaps 20-40% of the public here (and perhaps 70% of the European Union) who view the USA as a modern capitalist empire that facilitates much of the exploitation in the third world.

Although personally I find the controversial Wright views about the USA *profoundly* naive and rationally unsupportable they represent debatable positions. The ignorant TV punditry should be talking about a national dialog on why these issues have such traction in some intellectual communities rather than giving them the blanket dismissal and angrily attacking Obama for not leaving his church in protest.

It is crystal clear that Obama totally disagrees with many of the characterizations Wright has used over the years.

The guilt by association is nonsense and a sign of the foolishness of liberal pundits combining with the strategic plays by conservative pundits to keep this in the news.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Obama: 1 Million on Google in February!

Daya over at WebGuild is tallying up the Google advertisnig campaign spends, noting that Obama spent a whopping one million on Google advertising in February vs Clinton's 67,000.

Analysts generally credit Obama with a brilliant use of online social networking and resources.

Pop media just can't handle the truth

I'm so sick of the way hardball, CNN, FOX, and other major outlets latch onto the *most trivial* issues in the campaign rather than address things of substance. My respect for Chris Mathews and other poli pundits is waning as the absurdity of their concerns over Rev. Wright, Bosnia sniper fire, and other issues trump their concern over what the candidate plans to do when in office.

One way to look at this is that America has three choices now - Obama, Clinton, and McCain. There are differences between these three - especially McCain and the others - and these are what should be getting examined now almost ad nauseum, until all Americans can vote their conscience....informed.

Instead, we get silly "he said / she said" garbage featuring guilt by association, slightly misleading comments treated as dispicable lies, and more garbage.

Mathews! Wake up to your own stupidity dude!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Democrats benefit from extra exposure on the campaign trail

Although most pundits suggest that the Democrats are suffering from the extended battle for the nomination between Clinton and Obama, I think this is giving them a huge advantage in the national election. While Clinton and Obama still have legions of reporters and reports following their every move around the USA, McCain has become something of a footnote to the process after wrapping up the Republican nomination. In short, the amount of *free media* for Obama and Clinton is huge compared to McCain's exposure.

This will change after the Democrats pick a candidate and McCain and either Clinton or Obama start the "real" fight for the Presidency, but by then voters will be much more familiar with the Democrat and also will be suffering from campaign fatigue after a national process that started earlier and has lasted longer than any Presidential (or any other?!) race in history.

Obama in Medford Oregon

Southern Oregon is hardly known as a key Presidential campaign territory, but Barack Obama is in Medford today, speaking shortly to over 2500 people waiting for him in and around the "Kids Unlimited" Gym in an event in part sponsored by the local branch of a national union. The venue apparently has been chosen because of the education connection rather than the size, which is far too small for all the people who wanted to go to the event. Many people are now waiting outside for Obama who reportedly will address the crowd there as well as inside.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Bill Richardson to Endorse Obama

CNN is reporting that Governor Bill Richardson, thought by some to be a strong VP possibility for Hillary Clinton, will be endorsing Barack Obama for President.

Endorsements from major figures are courted very aggressively, especially in this close race, and it would seem very likely that Obama has been talking to most 0f the former Democratic contenders to get their support.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Obama still leading nationally in most polls

Barack Obama is still favored by most Democrats even after over a week of mostly negative news centered on Obama´s close personal association with the outspoken former minister at Obama´s church.

Addressing the nation and the situation in a recent speech Obama is credited by most with providing one of the most articulate and positive expositions on race in America. Although it is not clear that this speech settled all the issues, it is clear that it provided a high level of damage control and probably the mainstream media, feasting on the controversy, will leave the issue behind as soon as another easy talking point challenge comes along.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Politics of Race

America cannot seem to escape an obession with issues surrounding race. Decades ago racial discrimination created huge tensions, and launched the civil rights movement which in turn brought to prominence many civil rights leaders who went on to create significant social, legal, and moral progress in the quest for racial equality.

Now, racial issues are usually talked about in more subtle ways, with many crying foul or, worse, suggesting their opponent is using "code" language to bring a racial attack without actually talking about race.

The mainstream media's current obsession is with two race related stories - Geraldine Ferraro's comments about Barack Obama and Obama's preacher's controversial sermons. Neither story adds much if anything to our understanding of the candidates, and it is unfortunate that we the people find this type of debate more relevant than real issues such as global development, war, health care, and the economy.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Geraldine Ferraro. Feminist pioneer or ranting racist?

The new political sensibilites are really straining my credulity.

Reasonably, Barack Obama invokes MLK and other themes that very appropriately draw on his African American heritage on pretty much a daily basis. Obama appropriately and accurately expresses his pride in his heritage and the fact the Democrats deserve a lot of social credit for having a woman and an African American as the top nominees of the party.

Enter Geraldine Ferraro, a feminist pioneer and civil rights *activist*, who suggests the transparently obvious notion that race is a factor in Obama's success.

Then..... all hell breaks loose and Ferraro is branded a racist.

There is a a rational argument that suggests that although Obama is certainly *gaining* some votes because of race he is also *losing* some because of his race. Thus the balance in voting is hard to calculate and if race is invoked it is some sort of code language that is trying to pull him down.

Yikes - but that argument is not being made and is pretty questionable mathematically.

Rather I'm hearing otherwise intelligent people suggesting that "race has nothing to do with this" even as they themselves express approval about the racial diversity of the campaign. Folks you simply cannot have it both ways. Race is either a factor in this or it is not a factor. If you think it's a minor factor say that, but to suggest that race is of zero consequence in this campaign is, in a word, nonsense.

So, how is race and gender influencing the Obama Clinton contest? This would require a close look at exit polling, and hopefully we'll see more of this rather than the nonsensical punditry going on all over the networks as this mini-scandal dominates the coverage of the election.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Obama Wins Mississippi

Barack Obama has won the votes in the MI primary, although it's not clear if he'll win the majority of the delegates thanks to quirky rules that do not award MI delegates in proportion to the vote.

The Republican situation remains quiet as John McCain has locked up the nomination.

Despite some back and forth grumbling among the Democrats, the debates there have been very civil overall, a strong indication that nobody wants to rock the Democratic boat too hard.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Clintons like a Clinton Obama ticket...Obama...not so much...

Barack Obama is saying he doesn't want the second spot on a Democratic ticket even as both Bill, and Hillary Clinton have begun to suggest this option regularly. I think this is because strategically the option works better for Clinton than Obama. First because having Obama on the ticket would gain Clinton more voters against McCain, where it's less likely that loyal Clinton voters will do anything other than vote for Obama if he's the Democrat to support when the time comes.

Also, many would argue Obama is the more likely "VP" candidate due to less experience - experience he'd then get and go on to be president.

Will this strategy work for Clinton? Probably not so much in the remaining primaries though it might soften the Obama momentum going into the convention, but the strategy is very likely to appeal to party insiders who ultimately may make this decision. They'll want a solution that alienates as few people as possibly, and this may be what they come up with.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Obama takes Wyoming

Barack Obama handily took Wyoming's Democratic caucuses, trouncing Clinton with his 60+% of the caucus vote.

It's almost crystal clear now that even with a sweep of the remaining states by either Clinton or Obama, the Democrats are going to take the decision to the Convention. Some commentary is suggesting that the wild unpredictable second ballot could determine this outcome at the Convention.

The Clinton's have begun to speak very openly about a Clinton Obama ticket, and I think cautiously not suggesting that Hillary would necessarily be at the top. This is brilliant strategically because many voters - polls suggest 70% - want both on the ticket and if Hillary can become the candidate offering that desirable option she may be able to pull superdelegates to her side before the convention.

Friday, March 07, 2008

More on Power and Obama

The Scotsman has given a whole new meaning to the word "Peeved" as an interview with Samantha Power - a top Obama aide - led to her untimely resignation today after calling Clinton "a monster".

Here's the Peev interview with Samantha Power, the newly resigned Obama aide:

Obama Campaign's Samantha Power resigns

Foreign Policy advisor to Obama, Samatha Power, resigned after calling Hillary Clinton a "monster" in an interview where Power appeared to think she was off the record because the tape recorder was off.

Power, who authored a recent work on the Rwandan genocide and the failures of the US response under Bill Clinton's presidency, is a brilliant analyst with a powerful (in fact arguably she'd have a very, very "left wing") vision of how the US should change our role in the world.

Is Obama taking "too high" a road in his campaign? Admirably both he and John McCain are trying hard to steer the ship of American politics in the direction of positive debate and recognizing that we are all diminished by the negative nonsense that has been a pervasive part of politics ever since...the first elections.

However negatives are what people respond to most, especially the folks who are undecided about who they'll vote for. Taking negatives off the table may have unintended consequences and we'll see how long this approach lasts. I predict we'll see a lot of negativity coming *indirectly* from supporters who have no official relationship to these campaigns.

Man the Swiftboats! Full negative speed ahead?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Pennsylvania a last stop? No way.

As much as I enjoy all the commentary on CNN, FOX, and especially MSNBC, I don't think the "experts" are in touch with America enough to have *any clue* about what is likely to transpire.

For example many seem to think a Clinton / Obama ticket is not likely. If Clinton wins I think is it about 90% likely she'll pick Obama as running mate. It would be idiotic not to do this. Karl Rove proved in past elections that playing powerfully to your base was a good tactic in general elections, and Obama would give Clinton the chance to play both to her base and also to act more conservative than otherwise, scooping up support from the middle ground.

It is not as clear to me that Obama would choose Clinton for VP because she in many ways contradicts his theme of change from the past. Obama would probably pick Wesley Clark or another moderate with a strong military presence and background in an effort to move his campaign to the right enough to appeal more to moderates who will be uncomfortable with Obama's very liberal politics.

CNN Democratic delegate counter

CNN has a neat Democratic "Delegate Counter" where you can play with scenarios much like John King does on the magnificent CNN wall touchscreen in their political reporting center.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

McCain locks GOP nomination, Huckabee drops out

John McCain is now the official and undisputed GOP nominee as he has enough delegates to win the convention and Mike Huckabee has bowed out.

Many pundits are foolishly suggesting that the Clinton Obama race is helping McCain. That race is still tight after Clinton victories tonight in Ohio and Texas and will almost surely go to the convention. However the Dems should be thrilled with this result - media attention has been squarely focused on Obama and Clinton for months and this will continue. McCain will be almost a news afterthought until the Democratic nominee is decided, so regardless of whether the Dems choose Obama or Clinton at the Convention the free publicity from an ongoing race is - almost literally - priceless as it places these two squarely in the minds of the undecided and apathetic voters who ultimately make the decisions in American politics - decisions based largely on name recognition, negative campaigning, and other trivialities.

Clinton Wins Texas

Exit polling is so close that they are not calling Texas for Clinton yet, but she's likely to win given the current totals which have Clinton up by about 2%. Exit polling is closer:

Exit polling shows this:

Male (43%) Clinton: 46% Obama: 52%

Female (57%) 53% Obama: 46%

Note even before the math that since there are more women voting than men and Clinton is winning with women more than Obama with men she's probably got it barring glaring exit poll errors.

The maths suggest the final tally is this:

Clinton: .43 x .46 + .57 x .53 = 49.9%
Obama: .43 x .52 + .57 x .46 = 48.58 %

OK, this is *so close* I can see why they are not calling it for Clinton. But President Picker is not so cautious, because we are a blog and have far lower journalistic standards than, say, Fox news. Wait .... let me rephrase that...

Clinton about to win Texas

Although the networks, cowed by exit polling errors in New Hampshire, are afraid to call Texas for Clinton it appears very clear she's the likely winner in Texas, Ohio, and Rhode Island with Obama winning Vermont.

Although one can reasonably question what relevance "win" has in a contest where delegates are propotioned according to vote rather than "all or nothing" as in many Republican races, media attention focuses so narrowly on "wins" that this is an important metric.

What is clear is what Tim Russert pointed out tonight on MSNBC - the race will continue for through the convention and seating of Michigan and Florida will be a very important issue, as will superdelegates.

Donna Brazille, a superdelegate and CNN analyst, seemed to make a FreudianEsque slip tonight when she suggested the superdelegates would lean to the candidate with the best chance of a Presidential win. Based on almost *every single poll*, this is Obama rather than Clinton.

It's mini-Super-Tuesday - have you won yet?

With Texas and Ohio on the line John McCain may lock up his nomination today, and certainly is well on the way to the Republican Nomination. A recent BBQ at his house had McCain sizing up some potential running mates, though it's not at all clear who he'll choose. Although Huckabee may be appealing to the right wing of the party it's not clear McCain would gain a lot of votes with Huckabee because conservatives are either going to vote McCain or sit out this election. A more likely strategy than to go for conservatives is probably to shift to the center and try to play the "liberal" card against the Democrats, painting Obama or Clinton as far left. This strategy worked very well for Richard Nixon vs George McGovern and to a lesser extent in Bush v Kerry in 2004, where the Democrats were painted as "unpatriotic" despite the fact both had served in active military where the opponent had not.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Marc Andreessen on Barack Obama

Internet legend and pioneer Marc Andreessen has some detailed and interesting observations about Barack Obama, who Marc, his wife, and a friend met with at some length a year or so ago.

As he notes himself Marc is not necessarily a political expert, though I don't think anybody can really hold that title. Andreessen is, without doubt, an extremely sharp and influential technology guy so his effective endorsement of Obama is yet another feather in Obama's cap, with tomorrow's Texas and Ohio outcomes looking like they may effectively be the *national* outcome.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

FOX News on March 4: Hilary Clinton's Last Stand

Chris Wallace on FOX news today is calling Tuesday "Hilary Clinton's Last Stand" and although this is not entirely inappropriate it seems to be overly dramatic. The likeliest outcome for Tuesday will keep Clinton and Obama close in total delegates, and leave the complex issues of superdelegates and seating Michigan and Florida delegates squarely on the table. Ultimately party insiders are the most likely to have the key say in all this as they can convince large blocks of superdelegates to vote "for the party". The most likely beneficiary of a brokered deal is probably Obama who seems to have more popular support now as well as a much better chance of beating McCain. This last item is key, and will sway Party management to encourage Clinton to back out of this and annoint Obama, perhaps in exchange for the VP slot (doubful) or a key cabinet post (somewhat likely).

Saturday, March 01, 2008

RealClearPolitics has a great summary of major polls over the past year that show the remarkable and recent Obama surge among Democratic voters:

The graph results seem to suggest that at about the time of Obama's strong Super Tuesday showing, Democrats stopped simply assuming Hilary Clinton would be the nominee and gave careful consideration to Obama who they found more appealing. Given Clinton's consistent showing in polls of some 47% probably Clinton simply didn't gain any converts, while Obama has pulled in the undecideds and shifted a few making him the presumptive nominee.

One of the many great challenges of the American Democracy process is the fact that in one sense it is the undecided voters that ultimately make the decisions. Because voting can't assign extra points for being better informed or caring "more" than your neighbor, votes all count equally (Democrat superdelegates aside!). Thus those who have only marginal interest in the outcome and are easily swayed by campaign tactics are a key voting block, and may ultimately hold the key to success in this presidential election.