Archive for October, 2006

Barrons: a Cynical Prognostication for a Cynical Election System

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

JUBILANT DEMOCRATS SHOULD RECONSIDER their order for confetti and noisemakers. The Democrats, as widely reported, are expecting GOP-weary voters to flock to the polls in two weeks and hand them control of the House for the first time in 12 years — and perhaps the Senate, as well. Even some Republicans privately confess that they are anticipating the election-day equivalent of Little Big Horn. Pardon our hubris, but we just don’t see it.
Our analysis — based on a race-by-race examination of campaign-finance data — suggests that the GOP will hang on to both chambers, at least nominally. We expect the Republican majority in the House to fall by eight seats, to 224 of the chamber’s 435. At the very worst, our analysis suggests, the party’s loss could be as large as 14 seats, leaving a one-seat majority. But that is still a far cry from the 20-seat loss some are predicting. In the Senate, with 100 seats, we see the GOP winding up with 52, down three.

And so the latest issue of Barrons, a publication tossed out by the Wall Street Journal, has prognosticated. Barron’s online presence stopped in the middle of the second paragraph, sans payment, so I had to shuffle over here and here to complete their thought.

The first conservative blog suggests that if this prediction holds, the Democrats will surely have to heel the lessons, but (ha ha ha) won’t. The second blog publishes further, and then comments about the “come home” effect of Republicans — such that it is.

The prognostication is a cynical one, which doesn’t necessarily mean it is not apt in our — um — flailing empire and fading republic — so much as it would mirror a cynical electoral process. Because, our first bloggers’ comments miss the “lesson” that the Democrats should be “learning”.

Look at House races back to 1972 and you’ll find the candidate with the most money has won about 93% of the time. And that’s closer to 98% in more recent years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Polls can be far less reliable.

So it is the Golden Rule: He with the most gold makes the rules. The lesson the Democratic Party (nay… let’s go with the Republican slur — the Democrat Party) needs to learn, as suggested by Barron’s Magazine, should their prognostications turn up correctly:

Do more of the major corporations’ interests than the Republicans, so that they will flip their decision on preferred party. That attempt — botched as it would pretty much be — suits the “Investor Class” of the Wall Street Journal and Barrons just fine, thank you very much.

Cue Drug makers shore up GOP candidates.

If you look at this election as that metaphorical “hurricane”, you look at this as part of a bunch of well-heeled metaphorical “levee”s, along with — say — gerry-mandered safe districts.

Slingshots of the 2006 Election Campaign

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

I. Tennessee Senate — Harold Ford, Jr. (D) versus Bob Corker (R)

This ad is being attacked as racist, or making a subtle racist appeal. Maybe. That’s beside the point to the point I want to bring up. My question is simply this: They don’t look at pornography in Tennessee?

II. Pennsylvania Senate — Rick Santorum (R) versus Bob Casey, Jr.

“As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else,” Santorum said, describing the tool the evil Lord Sauron used in search of the magical ring that would consolidate his power over Middle-earth.

“It’s being drawn to Iraq and it’s not being drawn to the U.S.,” Santorum continued. “You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don’t want the Eye to come back here to the United States.”

Unless he was fishing for making a stump speech at a sci-fi convention, I fail to understand why Rick Santorum would make this analogy.

III. Montana Senate — Conrad Burns (R) Bob Tester (D)

(the other video clips of this are 3 minutes long, so I’ll use this one.)

He doesn’t seem to realize that the crowd is laughing at him and not with him. Secret Plans… secret plans… secret plans.

IV. Idaho, House of Representatives District 2. Sali (R) Grant (D)

Nothing to say about it, except it is a good advertisement, and that Grant would have to be sued for political incompetence if he had failed to run an ad roughly like it.

V. Wyoming, House of Representatives At Large. Barbara Cubin (R). Gary Trauner (D). And, in this story’s case, the Libertarian figures, so… Thomas Rankin (Libertarian).

Thomas Rankin, a Libertarian candidate who has multiple sclerosis and uses an electric wheelchair, said that after the debate Sunday night, Cubin “walked over to me and said, ‘If you weren’t sitting in that chair, I’d slap you across the face.'”

Cubin’s version is that she challenged Rankin’s debate assertions and said, “If you had said that to anyone else, they probably would have smacked you.”


Cullen characterized the allegations as a political stunt.

“[Cubin] believes voters are sick of this type of political maneuvering and has nothing more to say,” he said.

Rankin said he wanted Cubin to resign over the incident.

“The best response Barbara Cubin could give would be a resignation,” he said. “Nothing less than that would satisfy me.

“She is not the type of person Wyoming residents want representing them,” he said.

Okay. How about we pick on a man with Parkisan’s next time… Which brings us to Missouri, actually. But you can look that one up if you want — just type “Michael J Fox” and see what news that brings you.

I lag a few days behind the media

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

John Kerry blames his 2004 presidential defeat on Usama Bin Laden’s Thursday – before – the – election video tape release. Bin Laden is quite media savvy: Thursday is the day you release news to surf through the longest possible news cycle wave; Friday is when you release news designed to be lost in the news cycle.

According to the end of — I believe Woodward’s new book but it may be a different one — CIA professionals came to the same conclusion, and the conclusion that Bin Laden was trying to get Bush re-elected, and mulled the meaning over the weekend. This meeting of the minds feeds into the perception of the neoconservatives (the Weekly Standard crowd) that the Intelligence services are filled with Clintonites who are undermining the Bush Administration. (Which was why Cheney had to circumvent them when they provided underwhelming reports of Saddam’s WMD stash.)

Maybe Kerry is correct. Though sans a Bin Laden video a Kerry victory would have to attributed to demagouging — of all things — a Flu Vaccine shortage. (Don’t remember that one, do you?)

It is plausible in my mind, as I contemplate the unseemly undermocratic underside of our nation’s history, that — yes indeed — Ohio was stolen — replete, as those that believe Ohio was stolen neglect to add to the conspiracy but it would be necessary for this to hold — with various safe states’ returns inflated to push Bush ahead in the popular vote as well as follow through with standard electoral trend-lines. It is possible that people who believe Ohio was stolen draw an overly-hopeful message from the accounts: the fallacy that an election fraud can only cover a certain percentage in the margins of an election. I suppose this is true to a small degree in extremities (though it has not always been the case in more overtly “I don’t care” historical examples): Kent Blackwell can not credibly win (or better to say “win”) his Ohio gubernatorial race — you can not jump from a 30 percent deficit in the polls to victory. But if you want to throw the Senate election to Mike Dewine from a slim deficit to a thin but substantial (say… 3 percentage points) victory and remain credible in the eyes of conventional punditocracy, it can be done. What will be said to be behind a “Mike Dewine victory?” Values voters, perhaps. A late ebbing of votes due to concerns on … National Security.

Which brings us back to that new ad. Not actually played in heavy rotation anywhere, but designed to be covered by the news media. Which fits its inspiration — Johnsons’ “These Are the Stakes” daisy ad equals the RNC’s “These are the stakes” Bin Laden ad. Johnson’s ad aired only once; this new ad aired in obscure slots on barely seen cable news networks.

The ad also suggests that Bush believes what Kerry believes: Bin Laden’s tape won him the election. But we already knew that: Bush changed the color scheme to orange at politically opportune times to stem any Kerry momentum. But with 2006, it shows a desperation and impatience. There is a greater than even chance Bin Laden will release a late Thursday before election video: the RNC feels the need to get one of those out now, so they have created their own. I guess we’ll see how this works out. If we have a democracy, that is.

meta blogging

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

There was this moment not so long ago when I was getting weary of keeping up this blog. The comment spam was getting to me, and q quick calcuation showed that it was averaging about one per minute. It got to a point where I had to make sure to log onto the Internet every so often to clear the deck — something I didn’t want to do, necessarily, and a signal that I was scheduling life around this blog instead of the other way around.

Then… it slowed down. I was happy. I asked my brother if he did anything, but never received a response. It was just as well, only because it was a temporary lull — caused by what, I do not know, and just a couple days later — I was barraged, BARRAGED, and I can not overstate the word barraged by a massive flow from one url that sent variations of “dating” spam-site, with any number of adjectives and city and demographic before “dating”. It came at me seemingly 4 per minute. I suppose it was easy enough to stop that one, because I just had to ban the isp — I have rediscovered the “Ban the ISP” page, which I do on a regular basis in scanning to see if any isp pops up a few times (the spammers generally can escape this purview quite easily, but ah well). But then delete thousands of email messages from the server.

This is all for the pleasure of a mere 2 or 3 comments per month, perhaps. But I am not going to have a blog without commenting capability — indeed, in those two or three comments per months have — for example — been grist for a university newspaper’s article (which I guess I should go back and check on how that one is moving).

The spam comments are more or less managable at the moment. But that seems to be subject to change at the whim of the scum of the earth known as spammers.

I guess this is to stop shortly. The blog pages at — my brother’s “Beans for Breakfast” and “Using Books” page and this page — are changing servers. I hope the new feature has a “type the characters seen here” feature.


Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

I was listening to NPR this morning, and something popped out as interesting on a story about “How the Environment is playing in this year’s election cycle”. First off, the story had no meat to it: the conclusion drawn was, pretty close to nil.

But at one point, the story wandered to how individual Republican candidates use the Environment. The two cases offered were —

Lincoln Chafee and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Who are two very unusual Republicans. Chafee is the least conservative and therefor more liberal Republican in the US Senate, and the ad clip they had clipped him as “the only Republican to vote against authorizing war in Iraq, and the only Republican” to do such and such for the environment. The only reason he’s in trouble in his Senate race is he is, in the end, a Republican and thus obligated to vote for Mitch McConnell to head the Senate, thus dictating where the Senate is going for the next two years. Schwarzenegger has faded in and out with the political winds and ended up embracing environmental measures, and is a Celebrity Candidate.

Those were the two examples they had, and quite frankly, probably the only two examples in all of the United States. It was a bit jarring to hear what amounted to all of the examples referenced as “for example”.

Next, I jump to a story on “This American Life”. My gawd, I hate the Car Guys. That is all I have to say about that.

Friday, October 20th, 2006

This looks to be a red-letter day, of sorts, for the Democratic Party for the state of Kansas. The signs are thus:

A conservative-editorial page for the newspaper the Johnson County Sun, this all over the blogosphere at the moment says:

As we prepare ourselves to make political endorsements in subsequent issues, I can tell you unequivocally that this newspaper has never endorsed so many Democrats. Not even close. […]

The point is, I can name on two hands over a half century the number of Democrats we have endorsed for public office.

This year, we will do something different. You will read why we are endorsing Kathleen Sebelius for governor and Mark Parkinson for lieutenant governor; Dennis Moore to be re-elected to the U.S. Congress; Paul Morrison for Kansas attorney general; and a slew of local Democratic state legislative candidates. These are not liberal Democrats. They are what fairly can be described as conservative Democrats, and we can prove that in our forthcoming endorsements.

It is the split in the state party, described in Thomas Franks’s What’s the Matter with Kansas as largely a class-struggle with the most conservative religious and poor rural dwellers and the moderate educated class. The split lead to the election of the current Democratic governor, Kathleen Saebilius.

Which is the split reason for this:

Nor is Morrison alone. In a state that voted nearly 2 to 1 for President Bush in 2004, nine former Republicans will be on the November ballot as Democrats. Among them is Mark Parkinson, a former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, who changed parties to run for lieutenant governor with the popular Democratic governor, Kathleen Sebelius.

This is decidedly mixed. For an organization with the letter “D”, it is a good thing. For the politics that stand behind the organization with the letter “D”, the best that can be said is that all electoral politics — the proverbial “Big Tent” — boils down to what is called a Popular Front. If you take the term to traditionally mean a bunch of left wing forces fighting Fascism and put a moderate American tome to it — well, lead that where you may.

Doing my part to depress the vote

Friday, October 20th, 2006

“I’d just as soon not have that many Democrats, they’ll be difficult to control.” — Representative Sam Rayburn. Or is it Representative Rahm Emanuel? Eh? Eh? Huh?

Maybe that makes sense.

I listened to Thom Hartmann yesterday morning hyping a dailykos diary about voter purges in Ohio — and three unnamed states. The most fascinating moment came when Hartmann running the story behind local Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who predictably enough deflected and massaged away such conspiracy theories.

The nation’s built off of electoral fraud, and even escaping that our politicos in charge are picked out for our choice behind closed doors. The alleged Ohio shenanigans have the virtue of making more sense than the court case winding through Ohio with a frivulous and technical challenge to Democratic candidate Tom Strickland’s ballot access under the purview of the office of Republican Candidate and current Elections Official Ken Blackwell. And it is nothing new in American history.

And certainly intimidating letters aren’t new, harkening back to the worst sort of faux Democracy which didn’t even really even attempt to give the pretense of Democracy.

Lyndon Johnson’s initial Senate victory was a sham. I’ve been looking for the photograph of the group of Texas big-wigs grinning while holding the ballot box full of stuffed Johnson votes — a plan I’ve had to change the top photographs of this page around. I can’t find it.

You can’t quite call Harry Truman’s intial Senate victory a sham, because it would have been a sham if he had lost. It was a fight between the Kansas City Democratic machine and the Saint Louis Democratic machine, and which city could create more votes. Pendegrast won, and Truman — Pendegrast’s twelfth choice in this slot — won. But Truman outlasted the political machine that put him in power — winning his re-election in 1940 right after Pendegrast was exposed and destroyed — so it’s all awash.

Think of the presidential election as an election for title of “National Mob Boss” and a certain amount of corruption and ties to powers that you wish weren’t powers becomes not so much tolerable as desirable. The Congress is a little trickier to fathom.