Friday, January 25, 2008

Is Romney Being Misunderestimated?

I think so. I think he just may have the Republican thing sewn up. Craig Crawford of CQ, who gives me the hibby jibbies, believes that Romney is no joke. I agree. Romney has shown true national appeal by competing in every primary and make decent or winning showings. Now that the silliness of "Do you believe every single word in the Bible?" type questions is over, Romney is now coasting along focusing on change and economics and it wears well. Here's Crawford's take:

Democrats should fear Mitt Romney more than they think. Laughing him off as a
phony Ward Cleaver overlooks the upside of that image.
Like the Dad on TV’s “Leave it to Beaver,” Romney offends no one. You can well imagine him also lounging around the house in a suit and tie dispensing platitudes to errant kids. Most importantly, Romney endures such teasing without a hint of
displeasure – and then goes on being just as goofily unwrinkled as ever. People
like that.

Sure, there are those who gripe about his flip-flops on the “hot
button” social issues, or who cringe at the sight of his creepily rigid strands
of naturally tinted hair. But at the end of the day the man gently smiles with
his head in that slight Reaganesque tilt and says something so benign, so
forgettable and yet so intensely melodious that he lulls audiences into a silent
chorus of head-nodding agreement.

Many times in town halls and other such settings I have watched Romney cast his spell. So much so that back in November I gave him my Trail Mix Stump Award after evaluating the personal appearances of all major candidates on both sides of the political aisles. There is a relentless and somehow endearing efficiency about his campaign style.

Romney puts NY, California, NH, and host of other Democratic strongholds in play. I suppose it would depend on his running mate. But consider this. If Romney picked Colin Powell, they would be unstoppable, unless, Obama was the candidate and he picked a compelling VP. The social conservatives have no where to go and would line up behind a Romney/Powell ticket. However, independents would trip over themselves to get to Powell and, like it or not, Romney quite simply does not repulse Democrats.

Watching Romney in Jacksonville on MLK day with Black folk letting the dogs out and commenting on babies' "bling" is the sort of clueless but endearing type of thing that takes the edge off. I would be wary of Romney.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Economic Stimuli

It seems that Congress and candidates are promising stimulating the economy short term by offering rebates that would give a few hundred dollars to people. The idea is that low to middle income folks will spend and that should give the economy a boost.

I know I'd love a few hundred extra dollars, but the problem here is this. As long as the government is unlikely and unable to control things such as gas and energy costs, rebates are not that effective. Any short term spike in energy, and thus food costs, would gobble up that rebate and we're back to square one.

What we need are some fundamental changes in the economy. I'll take the short term fixes but ultimately, it is not going to cut it. Something simply that can be done is to provide tax breaks for consumer green investments, such as given tax deductions for switching to lower energy lights and appliances, etc. Anyway, there are a lot of people far smartter that I would ever hope to be looking into this thing.

USOs--Underwater Submerged Objects

I watched a fascinating documentary on the History Channel on the phenomenon known as USOs or Underwater Submerged Objects--basically deep sea UFOs. Quite creepy actually. They claim that through the years objects, underwater crafts have been spotted and perhaps lived or survived in ocean depths for years. These are believed to be alien craft . . . or something.

The difficulty with the USO phenomenon is that unlike UFOs, which everyone can see, mostly only Navy's can and do spot these USOs and so if they exist, and many believe they do, the evidence is top secret.

They gave accounts of the Argentinian Navy, the Norwegian Navy and the US Navy tracking these things. In the case of the Norwegians, the USO emerged and flew briefly and then re-submerged. They actually fired on the craft and block off the Fjord for days to trap it to no avail.

Here is Wikipedia on USOs.

I watch the History channel on occasion, especially their shows on the Universe and Gangland. I'm not sure if they are considered credible. Does the fact that the History Channel made a case for USOs give these things plausibility?

I for one am a believer in these things. In fact my novel does have Aliens submerged and concealing their activities and craft in the oceans. It makes perfect sense if they want to not be disturbed.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Diminution of the Clinton Brand

In watching MSNBC's coverage, Brian Williams spoke of President's Clinton recent role as attack dog for Hillary Clinton and about the "diminution of the Clinton brand." I thought he was right on. There is something patently unnerving about a past president acting the way Clinton has on behalf of a candidate in a party primary. It is understandable that he would support his wife, but inexcusable that he would act the way he has.

Clinton's legacy is already shaky as it is, rich in scandal and short on historical significance. It was a good time economically, but it left an ideologically drained and structurally weakened Democratic Party. This is what Obama alluded too with this Reagan comment, the Clinton legacy is not seen as monumental for the Party or country.

South Carolina will be fascinating to watch. Clinton is going to be swooping in like a flood to see if he can reclaim parts of the Black community. I hope no one gives into him and his lies.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Clinton and the Black Vote

While the Democratic primary action continued in Nevada, a not insignificant event was happening in the Michigan primary. The primary was not valid because the Michigan Democratic party skirted party rules and scheduled their primary too early--thus they were stripped of delegates. Obama and Edwards pulled their names off the ballot, leaving only Clinton.

The embarassing thing for Clinton was that while she won an uncontested beauty paegent primary, 40% showed up to vote uncommitted, including 3% who claim they would vote for her (if that makes any sense). That's quite a statement.

Then concerning the Black vote. Here's this from CNN's poliltical ticker:

CNN) — Hillary Clinton faced a grim statistic in Michigan Tuesday night,
despite her primary "win" there: results revealed that she may have reason to
worry about her grasp on the African-American vote.

The Michigan primary vote was essentially meaningless: the national party stripped the state of its delegates because it held its contest too early in the election season, and Clinton was the only major Democratic contender whose name appeared on the

Even so, roughly 70 percent of Michigan’s African-American voters — a
group that makes up a quarter of Michigan’s Democratic electorate — did not cast
their votes for Clinton, choosing the “uncommitted” option instead. Yet these
voters weren’t uncommitted at all: in fact, according to CNN exit polls, they
overwhelmingly favored Barack Obama, whose name did not appear on the

Had Obama’s name been on the Michigan ballot, CNN exit polls show
that he would have won an overwhelming 73 percent of the African-American vote,
in contrast to 22 percent who say they would have voted for Clinton under those
circumstances. If South Carolina’s large African-American community votes as
Michigan’s, Hillary may not be feeling much ‘southern hospitality’ in that

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Obama-Clinton Race

Happy MLK day: truly a great man

The race issue is certainly not going anywhere even though Clinton and Obama have called truce. Robert Johnson of BET is not backing off his comments basically calling Obama a crackhead. Now Rangel, chief boss in Harlem has called Obama stupid (via TPM).

I think the divide between many Black leaders and the community is going split wide open. Many of these leaders are corrupt. I'd be interested in what financial arrangements or political favors have been made between the Clintons and these leaders.

I have to agree with Scarborough and Tony Blankley (I shudder), who were on MSNBC this morning. Their point was that in national campaigns, message coordination is critical and campaigns, especially with people like the Clintons, you do not have these type of message mistakes. The Clintons are without doubt coordinating the messages of their surrogates and I think people will see through this. They seem to think that using so-called Black leaders as attack dogs provides a firewall and innoculates them from criticism. The Black community is quite simply not that stupid.

Kerry has some good remarks in defense of Obama.

He also ripped into comments made by Clinton surrogates hinting at Obama's
past drug use, calling the remarks "negative in the worst, petty way,"
especially in the light of Bill Clinton's admitted use of marijuana.

"That kind of discussion," Kerry said, "from a campaign where the former president
made famous the words 'I did not inhale' is to make something an issue that they
themselves acknowledged shouldn't be."

Most recently the issue of Obama's past drug use has resurfaced, with BET founder and Clinton supporter Robert L. Johnson alluding to it during a Sunday campaign stop. Johnson insisted he was referring to Obama's work as a community organizer.

But Kerry was clearly upset with the tone and implication of the remark.
"I thought that was uncalled for," said Kerry, not even waiting for the question to be finished. "I thought it was negative in the worst, petty way. I thought it was unfortunate. And if it is done in surrogacy for the campaign itself then it is really wrong... I think [Obama's] proven record as a public person stands as a significant knock down to whatever youthful transgressions somebody might have had. And who in the world hasn't had some transgression of some kind?"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Kerry for Obama

Kerry has thrown his hat in the ring and endorsed Obama.

Good move by both.

The reports were that this was weeks in the works but they weren't sure how it would play in Iowa and NH. Obviously Obama did not need Iowa help but boy, could he have used Kerry in NH. We have to recall that IA brought Kerry back, so it may not have been a bad idea to have gotten this endorsement earlier. I do think they could have done this the Monday before the NH primary, so that they'd have a good story for the news cycle to blunt out Clinton's tears. (I love MLK jr's line that we did not see tears for Katrina).

How does this help Obama. Kerry name recognition, email lists, and stature gives Obama a boost. It now gives other establishment Democrats cover to endorse Obama. Also, Kerry's been through this and has solid practical advice for that team. I don't know that it is clear that Kerry brings tons of voters. I think so. I think it would be a boost for contributions and would add Kerry folks to the mix.

I loved the endorsement speech. It was good to see Mr Kerry up there. Also, Obama now has a powerful spokesperson in Kerry, who can deliver a hard message in lieu of Obama who can keep his hands clean. Kerry evoked MLK, obviously a slap in the face of the Clintons who have wandered into an Obama/MLK snafu. Kerry can help push the message of Obama as the next MLK or RFK. He can make the case and he has the national stature to push the case.

So what then for Kerry if Obama wins? Kerry, like Biden, is one of those who is constantly spoken off as an ideal Secretary of State. While I think he would be excellent at that, I just don't see it. Hopefully, a President Obama would look to Kerry for SCOTUS. I think he would make a great Supreme Court Justice.

Anyway, it's going to be fascinating to see how all this plays out.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Democratic Primary Politics

Okay, so we are in Primary season and it's been quite a ride. Obama trounced Hillary in Iowa and then she spanks him in NH.

I guess now every sees that it was quite an achievement and speaks volumes about Kerry that he won both. Obama had more momentum and more of a splash going into NH and lost. I think now, people will appreciate a little better how difficult it was to fight through Iowa and sustain the momentum in NH. Back then, we were still worried about the Dean surge, Wesley Clarke and a possible Edwards bounce. I think this experience brings Obama down from the stratosphere where he was. I was irritated by him months ago when he mocked Kerry in a Letterman interview, I guess he would respond differently now that he's walked a tiny fraction of the journey Kerry walked back in 04.

That aside, the big story in my view is what to make of the variance between Obama's universal superior poll numbers and the final numbers in favor of Hillary. The poll numbers were not simply the media and university numbers, but campaign internal polling numbers.

I pretty much watched MSNBC's coverage all night and Eugene Robinson, a WaPo columnist, raised the Bradley Effect. That was quickly dismissed, but it reared its head all night refusing to die as a theory. Eventually Chuck Todd raised a compelling point that in the only cases in which we have seen this type of variance is when the candidates have been Black.

Here's Wikipedia on the Bradley effect:

The original term Bradley effect derives its name from a 1982 campaign involving Tom Bradley, the long-time mayor of Los Angeles, California. Bradley, who was black, ran as the Democratic party's candidate for Governor of California against Republican candidate George Deukmejian, who was white. The polls leading into the day of the election consistently showed Bradley with a lead. However,
Bradley narrowly lost the race. Post-election research indicated that a smaller
percentage of white voters actually voted for Bradley than that which had said
they planned to vote for him, and that voters who had been classified as
"undecided" had gone to Deukmejian in statistically anomalous numbers.

One month prior to the election, Bill Roberts, Deukmejian's campaign manager at that time, had predicted this behavior. He told reporters that he expected that
Deukmejian could advance approximately five percentage points from what his poll
numbers indicated, due to white voters giving inaccurate polling responses in
order to conceal a racial prejudice. Roberts's comments were disavowed by
Deukmejian, and the controversy that surrounded them ultimately led to Roberts's

Now Todd did note that with Harold Ford and with Patrick Duvall of MA, there was no evidence of the Bradley effect, so it is not a universal claim, so to speak. When challenged on this point about Iowa--White Iowa voters voted for Obama overwhelmingly. Todd response was the Iowa's process is public and New Hampshire's process is behind the curtain.

Robinson kept harping on the exit polling numbers that showed late-deciding voters split equally between Obama and Hillary so there's no explanation for the last minute surge unless people were not being forthright in the first place during the polling and even in the exit polling.

Hillary won the woman vote and the Democratic base vote. It is true that the gang-up on Hillary may have motivated women to vote in her favor, it does not explain how anyone can cover so much ground in such little time.

Now what does this mean? I don't know. What I do think is that, real or perceived, racism as reared its head and the SC Black Democratic base will not take kindly to this. I think Clinton will find out that there are limits to his adoption as an honorary African American. SC I think will go in Obama's favor or he'll make a very strong showing, second to Edwards. I don't see Hillary making a splash.

In the meantime, there's Nevada--Union and Latino voters make the difference here. It was rumored that Clinton was furious at Bill Richardson for having his supporters back Obama in Iowa. I think Bill Richardson plays a significant role here as the sole Latino candidate. If he seems to favor one or the other candidates, some in the Latino community may take their cue from him. But in general, given the confluence of concerns in both the Black and Latino communities, I think Obama, of the other three non-Latino candidates, has the most natural constituency. I see him resonating more with the Latino community. The question then could be the Unions. The Unions, universally, were embarrassed in 04 by jumping on bandwagons too early, with the exception of the politically astute and conservative Fire Fighter's Union which jumped on the Kerry bandwagon so early in the process it boggled the mind.

(Update: Via Political wire. Obama has secured the endorsement of the 60,000 Culinary Workers Union. Like totally huge!)

On the Republican side, we might as well just go ahead and crown McCain. Huckabee is another Bush and that dog won't hunt. Romney just does not have the natural appeal. Giuliani . . . well is Giuliani.

In the final analysis, I'm seeing an Obama-McCain race. That does not bode well for Democrats. Even a Clinton-McCain race does not look good. Oh well, we need to see how all this shakes out. I'm not excited about anyone in this race. I have more sympathy and resonance with Obama than with any other candidate. I definitely am not liking Hillary and Edward annoys me. Richardson tends have to a sloppy non-presidential look, so he's not quite under consideration. I suppose that backs me into the Obama corner, reluctantly.