In tonight’s debate, Hillary just said that you need to aim high and insist on universal coverage from the start or you won’t get there. I think she’s wrong. I think you have to assume that your plan is going to get mangled as soon as it goes to college and start with the plan that is likely to come out best. Obama wants to lower premiums. Clinton wants to cap premiums and create a mandate. If Obama fails you end up where you started. If Hillary fails you end up with the same situation plus a mandate, which is significantly worse.
I broke the states voting February 5 up into region to see if I can make sense of what will happen. It looks bad for Obama if you only count the biggest states—but if you break it down a bit further, it starts to look okay. Here’s what I get.
- California, tie [Weight: 1]
- Tri-State Area (NY, NJ, CT), Clinton [Weight: 1]
- The Bible South (GA, MO, AL, TN, AR), Obama [Weight: 1]
- The Southwest (AZ, NM, UT), Clinton [Weight: 1/2]
- Midwest (IL, MN) Obama, [Weight: 1/2]
- Massachussetts, tie [Weight: 1/4]
- Other States (CO, DE, ID, AK, ND), tie, [Weight: 1/3]
So. This would make February 5 look like a tie. I’m making a few assumptions on this—the largest of which is that a bit more name recognition will help Obama in California. I’m also assuming that Obama will make some inroads in the Southwest, but not enough to carry the region. Finally, I’m assuming that all victories will be by about the same margin—or at least that the probably large victory margin in the Bible South and the huge victory in Illinois will be enough to balance my optimism in California.
The moral of the story? This thing will keep going after February 5.
That’s sort of the question of the race. On one hand, some of them might be the anti-Clinton vote. That’s likely to go to Obama. Others might be the union vote which is likely to go to Clinton. Still other could be the vote that doesn’t immediately endorse the percieved front-runner, which would go Obama. I could see it split fairly evenly—though I obviously hope it leans Obama.
- noraleah: [I'm] scared for the nasty divisiveness of the Dems. And utterly unconvinced of Clinton’s electibility. Many [people] may just sit it out.
- miss-r: I do think it’s highly counterproductive for Democrat supporters to sit out of the general election simply because their candidate of choice didn’t get up, though.
- me: I would sit out or vote third party in a Clinton/Romney election. I'm not invested enough in the democrats to support them even if I don't like their candidate. It might seem counterproductive in the short run--but in the long run, I'd prefer to let both parties know that they'll get my vote when they nominate somebody worth voting for. Record turnouts at primaries don't necessarily mean record turnouts for democrats in the general election.
He also said, “Obama’s campaign has been extraordinary and titillating for me and my family.” If it titillates Jimmy Carter…actually, I have no idea how to finish this sentence. Internet, a little help here?
I just opened a new bottle of vanilla. Vanilla is one of those foods it feels good to run out of. Flour is another. If you’re out of Coke, chips, or frozen pizza, it’s often a sign that it’s been a bad week, food preparation wise. Things like cheese and cereal are annoying to run out of because they mean an imminent trip to the store. But flour and vanilla indicate that you’ve done a lot of baking recently. One of my goals is to some day run out of cream of tartar. You use that in quarter teaspoon quantities—and only when you make things like meringue or snickerdoodles.
(Technically you could also mix it with baking soda to get baking powder or maybe the other way around, but who does that?)
This quote is fantastic—and I couldn’t disagree with it more. It crystalizes an major methodological split in U.S. politics. It’s sort of a visionary versus pragmatist split. The pragmatist is willing to safeguard national virtues through less than virtuous means. The visionary believes that the power of these national virtues should be enough to win over most of the country to protect them.
For the past few election cycles, the democrats have gone with pragmatists. This is why they are so good at losing. The conservative pragmatist will beat the liberal pragmatist because if you just want to put bread on your table and locks on your doors, the conservative will win. The visionary, on the other hand, can inspire people to look for more than bread and deadbolts.
The loftiest poetry will not, in itself, solve the problem—but it will persuade enough people that there is a problem.
jhn brssndn wrote: I wonder, for example, why it is that John Edwards’ campaign has failed to connect with voters when he is far more explicit about the kind of “change” he offers than Barack Obama has been?
I think the “change” mantra got a bit diluted once everybody and their cousin decided to be the candidate for change. Edwards seems like a good guy—and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume his heart is in the right place. There are a few reasons Edward’s campaign didn’t really take off. First, people remember him losing in 2005. Secondly, he’s sort of out of his weight class. He’d be competitive if the dems had a mediocre field like the Republicans have this year—but this year the dems have two of the strongest candidates they’ve put forth in quite a while. (They just had the misfortune of trying to run them the same year.) Thirdly, Edwards sort of has this idealistic boy scout standing up to the corporate freight train thing going. We might cheer for the boy scout, but we bet on the freight train.
But the real reason I like Obama over Edwards is that Obama is offering a fundamentally different political vision than Edwards. Edwards has promised to change the country—but so has every candidate. Obama has promised to change the entire political process. Both Edwards and Clinton (and Bush and Kerry and all the Republicans possibly excluding Huckabee) are politics as usual. They do what they can for the people who vote for them. Obama’s promise (and reputation in the past) is to be a President that represents the entire country and makes a serious effort to bring the parts of the country that voted against him on board. Check out his South Carolina Speech. The specific policy proposals are out there if you want to look for them—but by and large Obama has stayed on the broad philosophical level because that is where the main difference between himself and the others are.
Error Gorilla, who has inspired my new rule for the Internet:
Internet Rule #2147: If have something negative, controversial, or cynical to say, back it up with an actual argument. In lieu of a full argument, a link may be provided.
Rule #2147, Corollary : Unless explicitly stated otherwise, it shall be assumed that everybody
is carefully following this rule. Thus, if somebody makes an unsupported argument, it is merely because they lack the mental capacity to make a better argument.
Apparently many people think cynicism makes them look cool. It goes well with dark clothing and leaning on things. It also goes well with insecurity and crippling fear of failure. None of the best things in life are cynical.
- Me: I'm not sure "nose to the grindstone" is a very nice image.
- Carolyn: It's not that you're grinding your nose. It's that if you're a miller you have to be attentive and keep smelling the grain that's coming off the grindstone to make sure it isn't burning otherwise the whole mill might burn down.
Three things you should know if you don’t already:
- Obama won. By a lot. He had over twice Hillary’s support.
- You should watch Obama’s victory speech. If you’re at work, go ahead and crank the volume. Somebody might try to yell at you—then they’ll hear the speech and stare in dumbstruck amazement.
- If Hillary watched the speech, I’d give her a 1 in 3 chance of realizing she’s outclassed and conceding.
I recommend the rest of this article. It’s contains perhaps the most entertaining and, in a truthy way, the most accurate explanation of our primary system.
Today is the Democrat’s South Carolina primary. (If you have friends in South Carolina, remind them to vote.) Pay attention to the results. If Obama loses, it’s essentially over for him. (Spoiler: It’s quite unlikely that he loses.) If he wins narrowly and entrance polling is split along race lines, he has an uphill battle. If he wins by a large margin (say, 10-15%), he may be back in that front runner position.
Also pay attention to how Edwards does. He had negligible support in Nevada—but Nevada has weird caucuses. If he can pull of a second place (unlikely), he’s definitely still in the race. If not, he’ll want to come in a close third.
This is taken a bit out of context. On the other hand, I think it fits pretty well into a larger context.
Wow. Even CNN is getting confused about who is at the head of the Clinton ticket.
Clive Thompson’s article “Take the Red Book,” from this month’s Wired.
I’ve got to disagree with this one. Science Fiction is indeed a great literature of ideas, but it is in no way the “last great literature of ideas” or even the greatest literature of ideas. It gets less respect from adults because often science fiction approaches ideas in a somewhat clumsy, juvenile way. (Don’t get me wrong—I still read an embarassing quantity of science fiction. I also really like cookies.) It sometimes takes a sledgehammer that sacrifices the artistry for the sake of expediency. So in a way, science fiction is the genre to read if you want to see profound philosophical questions tackled. It’s rough, it’s fast, it’s easy.
On the other hand, if see the profound philosophical questions investigated, turned about, enriched, complicated, and expanded, I can offer some other options. For theater, try Stoppard. For a relatively accessible novel, try Tim O’Brien’s In the Lake of the Woods. For a shorter work, stay tuned. I’ll post a few links later today.
Michelle Obama (in a fund raising email)
I thought I would put this up to highlight something interesting that’s about to happen in the presidential campaign. It looks like Obama is about to aggressively go after the women-over-40 vote. This is where Hillary is strongest and he is weakest. Thus, a number of issues that had not been highlighted before are about to come up—particularly as the Clintons have been mischaracterizing them.
The Obama campaign is smart. I’d been thinking they weren’t going to pull this off—but if they can manage this, they’ll have a chance.
At first I thought that the widespread reports of irregularities were attributable to Nevada, but it’s seeming more and more likely that there’s something behind this.
[…] The sad reality is that I’m going to firmly support anyone that wins the nomination for the Democratic party….
But the trouble is that it doesn’t feel like my party at times.
The Democratic party has been failing democrats for years. I’ve completely given up on them being able to accomplish anything.
My own thoughts:
I’ve seen too much failure from the Democrats to consider myself a democrat. On the other hand, I think Obama represents a break from the Democrats impressive record of failing to enact quasi-socialist policies. I will not support Clinton—particularly after some of this recent nastiness. I’d vote for McCai, maybe Huckabee, but not Romney. If this primary season goes too badly for me, I might end up sitting the election out. If it goes well, I’ll have to reconsider that not calling myself a democrat thing.
I’m reading accounts of how the Democratic debate was angry and harmful to both Clinton and Obama. I don’t think they’re right. Sure, Edwards gained a bit by being a bit above the fray—but he’s functionally out anyway.
Obama’d been taking serious damage lately from the (inaccurate) perception that he was afraid of or unable to engage in a fight. I see the more vicious portion of the debate as sort of an exhibition match. If you can hold your own against both Clintons, you can hold your own against anybody. Now that those reservations are assuaged, it looks like Obama can get down to the serious business of bringing the country together.
- Hillary: You talked about Ronald Reagan being a transformative political leader. I did not mention his name.
- Obama: Your husband did.
- Hillary: Well, I'm hear. He's not. And...
- Obama: Well, I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes.
It’s been a long time since somebody has appologized this sincerely to me for a few hours of interrupted service. I think Tumblr could teach the rest of the Internet a few lessons on not sucking.
For weeks now, Bill Clinton has been going after Obama by truncating quotes or taking them out of context. I thought I’d give it a try. In the interests of full disclosure, I truncated this quote mid-word.
The Choice, The New Yorker. Read it.
Another notable line in the article:
“Similarly, if this campaign is, among other things, a referendum on the current occupant of the White House—as elections at the end of failed Presidencies inevitably are—then its outcome will be determined partly by whether voters find George W. Bush guilty of incompetence or of demeaning American politics.”
For months Bill & Hillary have been doing their good cop/bad cop thing. She’ll stay positive and he’ll go for the suckerpunch. It’s like watching the Russians figureskate during the Olympics. They’re not the guys you want to see win, but you have to concede that they’re good. It’s effective, and it may have cost Obama Nevada. It looks like it will cost him the election if he’s doesn’t have some way to counter it.
Today he’s starting to do that. When he says, “I feel like I’m running against both Clintons,” he puts this tag team out in the open. Bill is no longer the goofy uncle figure that people still respect. He’s a partner. Which means he’s also, potentially, a liability. A lot of Hillary’s support comes from a desire to return to the Clinton years—but if Bill is being the attack dog, he’s likely to tarnish the memory of those Clinton years.
And now Jim Clyburn is telling Bill to chill. Clyburn is officially neutral, though this is the second time he’s criticized one of the Clintons. It’s very important for the Clintons to keep him neutral, at least until after South Carolina.
I’m not sure how Obama’s bid to take on Bill will go. Out politicking both Clintons would be quite a feat. If anybody can do it singlehandedly, it’s probably Obama. But I’m not sure it’s possible.
I think it’s time for us to stop calling a message of hope and reconcilliation vapid fluff and recognize it for the significant policy position it is. The idea of listening to dissenters and trying to bring as many people onto common ground as possible is a staple in any field other than politics. We finally have somebody who recognizes that identifying common goals and healing divisive societal rifts can get us further than quibbling over who got more frosting on which piece of cake. Does anybody need this put more concretely? Do you realize how many resources we waste in Congress alone on petty political point scoring?
Yesterday, I stumbled across a post that accused my tumblelog of having an Obama bias. I prefer the phrase “Obama preference.” I’ve surveyed the field. I like some of the candidates (McCain, maybe Huckabee). I’m ambivalent on some (Edwards, probably Huckabe). I dislike others (Romney, Giuliani, Clinton). And I think Barack Obama is the hope for America.
As it is, it looks the campaign will keep going through February fifth. I see a few things that could really change that. First, if Obama loses South Carolina, I think he’s pretty well toast. That is possible, though not terribly likely if everything goes as hoped and everybody who should turn out does turn out.
The next major question, to me, is New York City. I think Obama can hold his own in the rural parts of the state—but he’ll have a bit of trouble in the city. In fact, if the trend continues, he’s likely to be crushed there. This will not be because people in New York city don’t like him. New York is a magnet for young, educated people who are bright enough to realize that the system as it is isn’t working for everybody. On the other hand, they’re also bright enough to know that one more vote is unlikely to make a major difference either way. My hope is that they will think a step further and realize that taken in aggregate a large collection of single votes will make an immense difference.
So here is my attempt at organizing. Decide how annoyed you are at the current government. Take the appropriate action.
- Not at all annoyed: I don’t know whether it’s ignorance, apathy, or delusion—but you’re definitely setting a record for something. I’ll get the Guiness Book people on the phone.
- A little annoyed: Register to vote. Vote in the primaries.
- Moderately angry: After you check your voter registration, see what you can do to get involved in a campaign. Also, consider a small donation, even if it’s only a few dollars. I won’t tell you that your donation will make much of a difference (though it probably will), but having a small amount of money with one of the candidates will make the rest of the race a whole lot more exciting. Put a sign in your yard or window. It will make you look in touch with what’s happening in the world.
- Very angry: Get your friends involved. Get strangers involved. Try some sort of political organizing you’re less comfortable with, just to see how it goes. The resources are available. Be the person in the office who distributes voter registration forms and makes sure everybody knows when and where they should be voting. It won’t really take that much time. If your candidate wins, all your collegues will know why. If your candidate loses, you can spend the next four years telling them they should have been more involved during the primary season. (It’s a great way to win an argument with people you don’t like. Copier causing problems? “If you’d gotten a bit more involved a few years back, perhaps we wouldn’t have this crumbling infrastructure.” You won’t make friends this way, but you don’t really want to be friends with the guy who can’t even operate a photocopier.)