Browsing the blog archives for May, 2008.

Votes on the Votes

Democratic Party

Harold Ickes just said the Clinton campaign would contest the committee decision regarding Michigan at the convention. Clinton supporters are heckling the committee. At one point they were chanting “Denver, Denver.” Ugly stuff.

The decision that Florida votes would be split by the primary vote and votes will count for half was accepted unanimously, even by Clinton supporters on the committee.

Update: The Clinton supporters are trying to disrupt the committee meeting, which just voted (19 yes, 8 opposed) on a Michigan plan that I’m not sure I understand completely, but I think it provides for a 69-59 split in favor of Clinton with half votes in Michigan, with Obama guaranteed two add-on superdelegates.

Correction: The bobbleheads are pointing out that Ickes said Clinton “reserves the right” to contest the decision to the credentials committee of the convention, not that the Clintons necessarily would really do that. But I think the Clintons will not back down.

Update: Chuck Todd just said the meeting revealed the DNC no longer belongs to the Clintons. Obama won the outside game and the inside game, and it’s his party now.

Update: Georgia 10 has the Chuck Todd quote in full:

You know, there is a big thing we should be getting out of this party tonight, and that is the Democratic National Committee is not somehow controlled by the Clintons. Not by the Clinton campaign any more. We may have started this campaign believing that the Clinton campaign controlled, but this is Barack Obama’s party now. He’s already been winning the outside game, he now won the inside game. Yes it’s true that Harold Ickes can threaten this stuff about the credentials, but Don Fowler really did signal today by being for the Michigan compromise that, “Guys, it’s over.”

Update: Representative of the party?

One of the Clintonistas’ arguments for their candidate is that she gets fewer votes from independents and is therefore more representative of the Democratic Party. Well, be sure to catch “Eating a Reuben Amongst a Crowd of Clintonites” by Sam Stein. Conversations from Clinton supporters:

[Obama] is a cult. His campaign is an anti-woman cult.”
“I will actively campaign against him.”

“You know who is backing him is George Soros. It’ll be George Soros, not Obama, who is running the country.”

“South Dakota is totally rigged for Obama because of Tom Daschle. Obama’s going to win South Dakota because he’s buying it and rigging it.”

“[Obama] is a socialist! You know what the Nazi Party was before it was the Nazi Party? It was the Socialist Party.”


It was not all that different from the mood outside, where signs read, “At least slaves were counted as 3/5ths a Citizen,” and some pamphlets detailed Obama’s supposed dealings in drugs and gay sex.

“Would you rather have a president who had an affair [Bill Clinton] or one who was a murderer [Obama]?” Eve Fairbanks, a reporter with The New Republic, was asked by one protester.

These people are representative of the Democratic Party?

Update: Here’s one now —

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Return of the Killer Doughnuts


Little Lulu’s latest cause — the Obama-Che iconcography connection. Here’s how it goes —

  • Che Guevara was a radical Marxist guerrilla leader.
  • Alberto Korda’s iconic photograph of Guevara may be the most reproduced image in the world.
  • L.A. artist Shepard Fairey used the Korda photograph as a model for a poster of Barack Obama.
  • Therefore, Barack Obama must be a radical Marxist guerrilla leader.
  • I would add,

  • Michelle Malkin is nuttier than a peanut farm.
  • Correction: I see that Malkin didn’t write this post; it was her alter ego, See-Dubya.

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    The Will of the People

    Democratic Party

    Alex Kopelman waded into the crowd of protesters outside the Dem rules committee meeting, and says most of the people he spoke to are not so much Clinton supporters as they are people who think legitimate primaries have been discarded by the Dems for no discernible reason.

    In other words, they have absolutely no clue what’s actually going on with the Florida and Michigan votes, but they’ve been stirred up by Clinton’s rhetoric to believe that shady do-good scoundrel politicians have cheated them out of their votes. See also Eve Fairbanks at TNR.

    I never did hear a final count of how many protesters were there.

    At MSNBC, Chuck Todd explains the technical issues in some detail and discusses a range of remedies. Josh Marshall, however, gets to the heart of the matter (emphasis added):

    What doesn’t get mentioned, however, is this: it was widely reported and understood in both Florida and Michigan that the results of these primaries would not be counted. And based on that knowledge, large numbers of voters in both states simply didn’t participate.

    If the DNC were now to turn around and decide to make these contests count after all, these non-participating voters would be disenfranchised no less than the people who did turn out would be if the DNC sticks to the rules and doesn’t seat any of the delegates. The simple fact is that large numbers of people, acting on accurate knowledge and in good faith, decided that there wasn’t a real primary being held in their state on the day in question and on that basis decided not to participate.

    See also Eric Kleefeld, who works out via statistical modeling that —

    Bottom line: As these numbers clearly show, if these two states had held recognized contests with turnout in line with the best-fit curve for the other states, it seems likely that many more voters would have turned out — possibly as many as one million in Florida, and over half a million in Michigan — and we simply can’t know how those people would have voted. These simple facts render both contests, especially Michigan, seriously dubious as actual measurements of the will of each state’s electorate.

    There are all kinds of reports now that the committee has pretty much settled on a solution for Florida — allow 50 percent of the Florida votes. As explained by Marc Ambinder:

    Under the “concession” proposal floated by Obama and the one that (probably) will be accepted by the committee, Clinton would get 52.5 delegate VOTES and Obama would get 33.5 DELEGATE VOTES for a NET of 19 DELEGATE Votes. Note that Clinton will seat a NET of 38 people who are delegates, but since each gets a half a vote, she will get 19 DELEGATE Votes. Clinton would seat 105 actual people; Obama would seat 67. The superdelegates would each get a half of a vote as well, but, obviously, those votes are counted independently of the pledged delegates.

    There are also all kinds of reports that the Obama camp will accept this, but the Clinton camp won’t.

    Update: Oliver Willis on the Clinton demands:

    It’s kind of like a track athelete demanding the gold medal after someone whacked everyone else’s knee with a baseball bat right after the starter’s pistol has been blown.

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    The DNC Meeting

    Democratic Party

    The Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws committee is meeting right now to sort out the Florida-Michigan primary vote squabble that Senator Clinton caused when she backtracked on her earlier agreements about whether those votes should count. Joe Sudbay is liveblogging at AMERICAblog. So far, he says, the 10,000 righteously furious Clinton supporters who are to protest the meeting have not shown up. There are only a couple hundred protesters, he says. Maybe the other 9,700 are still at breakfast and will show up later.

    Until something happens, see M.S. Bellows, “The Trap: Clinton’s ‘Briarpatch’ Strategy For The DNC Rules Committee Meeting.” Very basically — and I suspect this is true — Clinton is making demands she knows good and well won’t be met just so she can keep the controversy alive all the way to the convention.

    Barack Obama and Howard Dean are about to walk into Harold Ickes’ trap tomorrow, and they aren’t likely to even realize their mistake until Hillary Clinton cries “foul!” next week and announces that “justice” and “voters’ rights” are forcing her to carry her campaign all the way to the Democratic Convention next August.

    One of the commenters imagined SenatorPresident Obama’s inauguration — Senator Clinton will rush the stage and try to snatch away the Bible.

    Update: MSNBC also counted about 200 protesters. These included a couple of Obama supporters with a sign that says “Change the Rules Until I Win.”

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    Forgiving Scotty

    Bush Administration

    How are we in Liberal Land reacting to Scott McClellan? I wrote in a comment this morning that I thought we lefties would mostly be forgiving. “I think we appreciate that he’s going through a process of waking up to reality. As long as we see him struggling to be honest, I think most of us will wish him well,” I said.

    Maybe I spoke too soon. I see that Buzzflash is calling Scotty the “hypocrite of the week.”

    This probably is the Buddhist in me talking, but we all stumble through life in a fog of self-delusion. Some of us are foggier than others, of course. My impression is that Scotty allowed himself to be a useful tool of the Bush Administration because he honestly believed the Bushies were the good guys. It wasn’t until he was shoved out of the White House bubble that some of the fog began to clear and he saw what had happened in a different light.

    So, my feelings are those of a missionary toward a sinner who wants to come to Jesus, and I’m ready to forgive his sins. But that’s me.

    Here’s a true clip & save: McClatchy Newspaper — “Memo to Scott McClellan: Here’s what happened.”

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    Who’s the Meanie?

    Democratic Party

    Statistics show which candidate is too nice and which is in perpetual attack mode.

    See also Matt Yglesias, “Why are you making me hurt you?

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    Still Crazy After All These Years

    Bush Administration, elections

    It’s sad when the big, flaming revelations du jour are all stuff you already knew. For example, finally somebody who covers Washington politics admits that, in the months leading up to the Iraq War, she was under tremendous pressure from corporate execs to present a pro-Bush, pro-war narrative. I dare say most of us (meaning, y’all Mahablog regulars, who are a brilliant crew) realized this was happening at the time. Now, five years later, they’re starting to admit it. Frightening.

    Here’s more stuff in today’s news you already knew:

    David Corn: Phil Gramm has “long been a handmaiden to Big Finance.”

    Mike Allen: “McClellan: White House Wanted Him to Stay Silent

    Emptywheel: “George Bush Authorized the Leak of Valerie Plame’s Identity

    Meanwhile, righties continue to be predictably insane. For example, Captain Ed is dutifully exonerating Big Oil and OPEC for high oil prices. You’ve probably heard about Little Lulu’s meltdown over Rachel Ray wearing a paisley fringed scarf. Dunkin’ Doughnuts pulled its Rachel Ray ad, and America is now safe from jihadist doughnuts. And for the latest on Auschwitzgate, see Sadly, No: “Best Bitch Slap Ever.” You will laugh.

    BTW, did you know that yesterday was the Idaho primary? Obama beat Clinton, 56 percent to 38 percent. Naturally, Jeralyn interprets this to mean Hillary Clinton is the smart choice to beat John McCain in November. However, the real news — and this is something I didn’t already know — is that Ron Paul got more popular votes than Obama. That Idaho’s a real bellwether.

    Here’s a must-read: In today’s New York Times, veteran pollster Mark Mellman explains why people should stop getting hysterical about Obama’s “problem” with working-class whites.

    First, there is no relationship between how candidates perform among any particular group of voters in primaries and how they do with that segment in the general election. In 1992, Bill Clinton lost college-educated voters to Paul Tsongas in the early competitive primaries, but he went on to win that group in November by the largest margin any Democrat ever had. Similarly, John Kerry lost young voters in the competitive primaries in 2004 before going on to win them by a record margin in the general election.

    Second, Democrats running for president have been losing white, non-college-educated voters since before Mr. Obama was elected to the Illinois legislature. Al Gore and Mr. Kerry each failed to win a majority of this bloc in the general election. With these voters, the size of the losing margin is what matters. … Mr. Obama is faring better today with the white working class than did either Mr. Gore or Mr. Kerry.

    See also Ben Smith.

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    Why Righties Can’t Govern

    Health Care

    A big reason right-wingers are better at getting elected than they are at governing once they get elected is that they can’t get facts straight. This is from the Wall Street Journal:

    New Jersey is about the last place one might think to look for free-market policy reform. But this week Jay Webber, a Republican Assemblyman in Trenton, will introduce legislation to let Garden State residents buy low-cost health insurance from any registered policy in any of the 50 states.

    I have major questions about how this would actually work if put into practice, especially for HMO policies that only pay for in-network care. But I’ll put that aside for now.

    The average national cost for a family health plan is $5,799, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans, but in New Jersey that same plan costs $10,398 on average. The state’s politicians have driven up these costs by forcing insurers to provide gold-plated coverage – even for such voluntary medical services as in vitro fertilization.

    I did not know this about New Jersey, so I looked it up. Under what’s called the “Family Building Act” passed in 2001, insurance policies that cover more than 50 people and provide pregnancy-related benefits are required to cover the cost of the diagnosis and treatment of infertility. I believe that means it would not apply to private health insurance, only to group health insurance. Even with the group insurance IVF may be covered in some circumstances, but only after the beneficiary has jumped through a number of hoops.

    New Jersey also follows New York and Massachusetts – two other high-cost states – in requiring so-called “guaranteed issue.” That allows New Jersey residents to avoid buying health insurance until they get sick, which means they can avoid paying premiums until they need someone to pick up the bill.

    As a purchaser of private health insurance in New York, I assure you one cannot wait until getting sick to purchase insurance and expect the insurance company to pay for treatment. If you acquire a new policy while already being treated for a medical condition, you’re on your own to pay for those treatments for several months before the insurer is required to take over payments.

    “Guaranteed issue” means an applicant, whether an employer or an individual, cannot be turned down for insurance. According to the Kaisar Family Foundation,

    Federal law (and all states) requires all plans sold to small groups (employers with 2-50 employees) to be guaranteed issue. That means small employers cannot be turned down by insurance companies because somebody in the group is sick. Small employers might be ineligible to buy coverage from private insurance companies for other reasons. For example, insurers might have requirements that small employers contribute a minimum percentage of the premium payment on behalf of employees, or that a minimum percentage of a small firms employees participate in the health plan. Federal law does not require guaranteed issue for self-employed persons (with no other employees). However, states can and often do apply broader guaranteed issue requirements. Health insurance sold on a guaranteed issue basis cannot turn applicants down based on health or risk status.

    According to this Kaisar Foundation chart, neither New York nor New Jersey have “guaranteed issue” requirements for the self-employed purchasing individual insurance. My experience in New York is that if you apply for a private policy within a certain amount of time of losing another policy, such as COBRA benefits — I think it’s one month — the private policy must accept your application no matter what health problems you have. However, my understanding is that if you have been uninsured for several months and apply for a private policy, you can be turned down.

    Back to the Wall Street Journal:

    This one-policy-fits-all system tends to cause the young and healthy to drop insurance, which only raises the cost of insurance for the sick, which in turn makes coverage unaffordable for ever more families. It’s no accident that about 1.2 million people – one of every eight residents – is uninsured in the state.

    But guess who’s Number One in the percentage of uninsured citizens? Good ol’ free-market Texas, m’loves. Based on the three-year average from 2004 to 2006, Texas had an uninsured population rate of 24 percent. That’s, like, about twice as bad as New Jersey, right?

    The New Jersey uninsured rate is only shocking until you compare it to the other states’ uninsured rates.

    Wall Street Journal:

    Opponents of interstate insurance say families would be pushed into bare-bones health plans. Not so. Families could still buy the more extensive coverage, but those with modest incomes would have options other than going uninsured. The goal of public policy shouldn’t be to cover every medical procedure or doctor’s visit, but to prevent families from catastrophic expenses due to a health problem that is no fault of their own.

    In other words, they’d be pushed into a bare-bones health plan that doesn’t cover routine and preventive care, just major medical expenses.

    New Jersey is turning into a microcosm of the national debate on health care. Democrats in Trenton are rallying behind a plan to require that every uninsured individual in New Jersey purchase health insurance from a new state-administered program. So a state that is already so broke that its politicians are contemplating mortgaging its highways might now add a $1.7 billion health subsidy.

    What the Wall Street Journal is saying, without admitting it, is that states can’t get to the root causes of the crisis and create substantive solutions on their own. National policy is required. Further, if “market based” solutions worked, they would have done so already. What we’ve got now are a mess of state and federal policies created to patch those parts of the ‘free market” system that had already failed.

    But I still don’t understand how purchasing insurance across state lines worked. If you buy into a network in another state, wouldn’t you have to choose a Primary Care Physician in that state? Meaning you’d have to travel to that state for medical care? While you’re sick? I don’t think so.

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    Now Who’s Being Pushy?

    Democratic Party, elections

    Picking up from yesterday’s post, “Not Equal” — another early controversy of feminism was over job requirement exams, such as strength tests for firefighters, that eliminated women. People asked: Should the exams be “dumbed down”? Should women be given separate tests so they could pass?

    I believe the majority of feminists argued that if the ability being tested was one that truly might be required to do the job, then the test should be the same for men and women. However, it was argued, strength or height requirements for some jobs were purely arbitrary and had nothing to do with performing the job. On the other hand, a minority of feminists did argue that women should be given separate tests that would be easier for them to pass. Anti-feminists, of course, picked up the latter argument and said allowing women to be firefighters or police officers meant relaxing standards on the tests, which would lead to fire and police departments going to hell.

    Lanny Davis’s latest screed against the Obama campaign reminds me of the separate standards argument. In “Four Things the Obama Campaign Couldn’t Resist Doing To Anger Clinton Supporters,” Davis lists these as unforgivable sins committed by Obama:

    1. He announced the John Edwards endorsement the day after Clinton’s West Virginia win.

    2. The evening of Clinton’s Kentucky win, Obama gave a speech reminding everyone he had a majority of pledged delegates.

    3. The Obama campaign has hired someone to vet veep candidates.

    4. Obama is considering Bill Richardson as veep.

    In other words, the Clinton campaign is furious that Obama executed some smart political maneuvering to prevent Clinton from building momentum (#1 and #2), is not waiting to begin preparation for the general election campaign in deference to the tender sensibilities of Clinton supporters (#3), and is friends with somebody the Clintons don’t like any more (#4).

    Basically, Clinton supporters don’t think Senator Clinton should have to take the same tests as the guys to get the job. They want Obama to dumb down his campaign so Senator Clinton can catch up. Otherwise, he’s not being fair.

    The irony is that, in some ways, Obama has done just that. Chuck Todd pointed out on Hardball last night that Obama stopped running a campaign against Senator Clinton about three weeks ago. This has allowed some of Clinton’s numbers to improve a bit vis à vis Obama, since she’s still campaigning against Obama. Yet the Clintonistas still think Obama isn’t playing fair.

    You can’t please some people.

    See also Steve M. and Bang the Drum.

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    Scottie Dishes

    Bush Administration

    Scott McClellan’s new book — What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception — is coming out next week, and apparently Scottie points some fingers. Could be fun.

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