Saturday, February 09, 2008

A charming McCain anecdote that I'd never heard before:

"Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno." -- Sen. John McCain, speaking to a Republican dinner, June 1998.

Not only is McCain's hideous attempt at humor about 10 times more tasteless than what Shuster said (as the David Corn article notes, newspapers that reported on the joke wouldn't even print it), but while the newsman's ill-conceived comment was at least spontaneous, McCain's joke was a prepared remark to a public audience.
He's a maverick!

DailyKos's Hunter on Cheney's speech to CPAC:

It's a comic book speech, delivered by a comic book man to a comic book audience. Cheney doesn't believe in merely denying reality, he believes in pinning it down, attaching electrodes to it, then just clubbing it to death for fun.

The thing is, it'd be easy to ascribe behavior like this to mental illness, presuming he really believes any of the things he says. But it's not clear he does. In all likelihood, he knows fully well how ridiculous it all sounds, but in an audience hand-picked for their willingness to accept any premise, no matter how ridiculous, in order to feel good about their own bigotries, nobody will ever call him out on it.

This seems like it ought to be news, but I'm really not sure it is:

To date, about 52 percent of those 3,253 delegates have been pledged in the voting process -- with Clinton and Obama roughly splitting them at 832 and 821 delegates a piece, according to the AP.

That means there are now only about 1,600 delegates left up for grabs in the remaining states and territories voting.

So, do the math. If they both have 820 plus pledged delegates so far, they'll need to win roughly 1,200 -- 75 percent -- of the remaining 1,600 delegates to win the nomination through actual voting.

In other words: Ain't gonna happen, barring a stunning scandal or some new crazy revelation. So, Clinton and Obama keep fighting this thing out, each accumulating a chunk of delegates, one of them holding a slight edge and both finishing the voting process with 1,600 or so delegates.

And then the super delegates decide this thing.
I don't think anyone's ever had a problem with the superdelegates deciding this thing, per se. Given that superdelegates make up a solid 20% of the total, the only way a candidate could win without them would be to win the popular vote by a pretty dramatic margin (you'd need about 62% of the pledged delegates to make a majority at the convention). And realistically, that's been off the table for a while. So the issue's not that superdelegates will make the decision; it's how they'll make the decision. If Obama comes in leading 52-48, and the superdelegates split 2:1 for Clinton, there could be a mutiny. But if Obama comes in leading 52-48, and the superdelegates split, say, 55-45 for Clinton (which would preserve Obama's overall lead), I don't think anyone will really mind.

I like to think that I'm pretty good at being amused by political maneuvering, but bald-faced hypocrisy continues to really irk me (which is presumably why I never jumped on the Romney bandwagon):

After losing a key vote that shreds the bipartisan truce that prevailed over the economic stimulus package in the House, Senate Democrats will be forced to backpedal and either work with Republicans or risk being accused of delaying a crucial jolt to the ailing economy.
Senate Republicans filibuster a bill, Democrats fall one vote short of invoking cloture (as in, eight Republicans voted yea on the cloture motion)... and the Democrats are the ones who "risk being accused of delaying a crucial jolt to the ailing economy." What the ever-loving fuck?

Don't get me wrong: I'm not exactly happy with my side of the aisle, either. The Democrats, as usual, got their asses handed to them. (Harry Reid folded like a cheap hooker who got hit in the stomach by a fat guy with sores on his face.* As Kos's mcjoan put it, "What's it going to take to get them to finally say 'enough'?") But seriously: how can it be a legitimate framing of the issue to describe a successful Republican filibuster as a Democratic "delaying" tactic?

Friday, February 08, 2008

"Enhanced interrogation technique" has got to be one of the most unsettling, Orwellian euphemisms ever invented. If the euphemism is just as bad as the word you're trying to replace, why bother with the euphemism at all?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Based on a post at TPM, I thought it might be interesting to compare the states that each of the two Democrats won on Tuesday.

The numbers are below, but here are a few interesting highlights:
• Of the eight Super Tuesday states that Democrats won in the last two presidential elections, Clinton and Obama won four each (though Obama's wins were a bit stronger than Clinton's).
• Of the four Super Tuesday states that Democrats almost won in the last two presidential elections, Clinton and Obama won two each (though Clinton's wins were a bit stronger than Obama's).
• And of the ten Super Tuesday states that Democrats didn't even come close to thinking about the possibility of maybe one day competing to potentially win in the last two presidential elections, Clinton won three and Obama won seven (and generally by a landslide).

Now, granted, those numbers don't mean a lot. But if you're a pessimist, I think they could be read to suggest that Obama's real strength (relative to Clinton, anyway) is anchored in places that it's not going to matter one tiny little bit come November 4 (and thus that whatever momentum he gained two days ago is basically illusory with respect to the general).

On the other hand, if you're more of an optimist (as well as a person who thinks intrastate, extraparty similarities are strong), you could read those numbers to suggest that Obama has done a better job of winning over voters who are predisposed toward Republicanism.

I think this latter conclusion is actually the more likely of the two, though using these particular numbers to demonstrate it might be futile. But either way, it makes for an interesting chart.

I came out of Super-Duper Tuesday with mixed feelings. I thought Obama looked good early (Georgia was stronger than I expected, and Connecticut and Delaware were both pretty quick); I thought Clinton looked good late (ten points in California was a lot more of a landslide than I'd expected). So I turned to the Internet:

Obama won!
AMERICAblog's Joe Sudbay: "It is hard for me to see this as anything but a big night for Barack Obama."
Daily Kos's... well, Kos: "We still don't know who won the delegate count, but it should be obvious that the race has shifted and that the Clinton campaign is reeling and Obama is now the front-runner."

Nobody won!
TPM's Josh Marshall: "The only arguments for one side or the other being a winner here come down to airy and finally meaningless arguments about expectations. And the result tells a different tale. It's about delegates. It's dead even."
TAPPED's Sam Boyd: "One thing's for sure about last night's results, the long campaign is now a reality and superdelegates are going to be important."

Clinton... won?
MyDD's Todd Beeton: "[Conventional media thinking will be:] the headlines stating that Clinton and Obama 'Trade Victories,' and that the race is 'Not Settled' are telling and indeed represent a non-victory victory for Hillary Clinton; as New Hampshire before it, tonight was the equivalent of hitting a reset button."

Well then. Glad we cleared that up.

Seriously, it's like they're just going out of their way to be stereotypical dicks now:

The Bush administration wants Congress to thwart a plan to give thousands of federal crack cocaine offenders a chance to marginally reduce prison sentences that are a hundred times more severe than those meted out for powder cocaine offenses.


"Retroactive application of these new lower guidelines will pose significant public safety risks . . ." Mukasey said in the statement. "Many of these offenders are among the most serious and violent offenders in the federal system and their early release . . . would produce tragic, but predictable results."
Nothing says "integrity" like a willful misunderstanding of how the system works!

Romney done quit. This surprises and saddens me. (Though clearly it did not surprise Howard Dean.)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Maverick McCain Update!

I just got around to watching this past Sunday's Face the Nation, which yielded this enlightening McCain quote:

Schieffer: Here's what [Senator Obama's] saying about you. He said, "There's a vast difference between me and John McCain. He wants to continue the Bush economic policy, he's staked his presidency on following the Bush agenda on foreign policy, there's a sharp contrast between mine and his candidacy."
McCain: I couldn't agree with him more. And the same thing applies to Senator Clinton. I could not agree with him more.
Emphasis motherflippin' added.

Howard Dean sent an email this morning saying:

Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney are done. John McCain will be the Republican nominee -- he's the only one with a reasonable path to the nomination.
The email also included this snazzy picture:


The BBC's surprisingly robust U.S. election coverage is anchored by one of the best primers on the delegate system that I've come across. Worth a read.

Gawker's collection of ridiculous screen-caps (inspired by this Slate column) has been up for about a week by now, so I'm guessing many of my loyal readers (ha!) have already happened across it. If not, give it a whirl.

Strategically speaking, I would have liked to have seen Romney do a lot better tonight, but even given that, it's hard not to be amused at this headline from the Beeb: "Subdued mood: Romney supporters put on a brave face as the results come in."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The NYT's headline-writers have lost their damn minds.

The actual article is a bit more sedate ("or at least that is what he has been telling people these last few days"), but still... they've got to be kidding.

(Thanks to Matt for the heads-up; the graphic comes from the fine folks at TPM.)

John "McCain-Feingold" McCain has rejected public funding for the primaries. He's a maverick!

Unrelated to the election, but pretty funny:

Under assault from critics that included the National Rifle Association, Pasquotank County officials have decided to change a building sign that requires gun permit seekers and sex offenders to register at the same window.
(Courtesy of Americablog.)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Some thoughts on the Super Bowl
(Not a liveblog, see, because there are no timestamps.)

  • Pre-Game (starting at about 6:00; just imagine how much I'd have had to make fun of if I had started watching at 2:00, when the pre-game coverage kicked off)
    • You know what was really weird? That segment in which assorted football personalities (often supplemented by groups of sailors, firefighters, or pathetically bad historical reenactors) did a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence.
    • But you know what was funny? Seeing Michael Strahan say "rethilienthy" during FOX's preposterous team-theme introductions.
    • Also funny: the fact that Randy Moss wasn't included in the "teamwork" introduction that FOX did for the Patriots (which included pretty much every other recognizable Patriot).
    • FOXiest moment: the gratuitous shot of a few dozen members of the "Multinational Corps Iraq" (who were all, shockingly, from the United States), standing at attention in their fatigues, having apparently been directed to "make your best 'dignified' face."
    • Unexpected postscript: Jason Taylor is the NFL's Man of the Year.
  • In-Game
    • Oughtn't Belichick to have worried about jinxing himself by wearing a red cutoff sweatshirt instead of a gray one? [Or has he been doing that throughout the playoffs?]
    • Troy Aikman -- who's clearly been taking "How to Be a Good Color Guy" lessons from one John Earl Madden -- on a Patriots 3rd-and-ten at the Giants' 17: "These are the areas of the field, these are the downs that become critical." Well-observed, sir.
    • I'm sure there was a lot of stuff worth making fun of during that halftime show, but in order to find out, I'd have had to watch it, and no way was I going to do that.
    • The randomly-selected grand prize for the NFL Play 60 Fitness Challenge [or whatever it was called] was that you got to... hand the ball to the official before kickoff. Because nothing motivates the world's children like the chance to meet an honest-to-goodness NFL backjudge.
    • Pam Oliver, on Tom Coughlin's halftime comments: "Offensively, he wasn't so complimentary. He said he liked the tempo, but they can't get in the green zone and come away with no points." Isn't that adorable? She thinks she's a real reporter.
    • Aikman, speculating: "That shot of Peyton Manning... as much as that win last year for the Colts, and him winning his first Super Bowl a year ago [was great for him], I get the feeling he's a little happier tonight than what he might have been even then." Yes, I'm sure you're right.
  • Commercials
    • The long Diet Pepsi Max commercial was tedious, but it was pretty funny to imagine the conversation in which L Cool JJ's agent explained that he would have to do that ridiculous head-twitching dance.
    • The Barkley/D-Wade commercial was predictable, but it made me chuckle in spite of myself (mostly because I imagine that is exactly how Charles Barkley actually acts).
    • On the whole, though, nothing particularly memorable. Except for the James Carville/Bill Frist Coke spot, which might be one of the worst commercials ever. (Remember how some people used to think Bill Frist would be president one day?)
    In sum: it's really kind of hard to believe that Eli Manning just won a Super Bowl.