Tag Archives: Obama

John Bolton Goes Nuclear

John Bolton had an interesting op-ed in the New York Times, today, decrying the ratification of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, also known as the New START Treaty.  For those of you who forget who John Bolton is, he’s the brilliant international strategist who said that the United Nations should be eliminated . . . right before becoming the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.  He also has the world’s coolest mustache.  (No, seriously.  That’s not a jab.  I really, really love that moustache.)

So the article is titled “Why Rush to Cut Nukes?”  And immediately I’m thinking this would be some fun dissertation on the security that nuclear warheads provide.  For the record, I disagree with the sentiment, but also recognize the historical veracity of the claim and find the argument quite fascinating.  However, his sole argument against nuclear disarmament, whose brevity cannot be overstated, is that Russia still has quite a bit more than the United States.  He ignores that America’s nuclear weapons are stronger and far more numerous than we could reasonably use, but that’s not an especially damning omission.

No, that would be his arguments against the Senate’s “resolution of ratification” adopted by the Foreign Relations Committee.  Evidently, “the Obama administration’s main strategy is likely to emphasize . . . that resolution, which supposedly addresses concerns about missile defense and modernization of the nuclear arsenal.

“The Foreign Relations Committee’s resolution contains various ‘conditions,’ ‘understandings’ and ‘declarations’ holding that New Start doesn’t ‘impose any limitations on the deployment of missile defenses’ or dilute Congress’s aspiration to defend the nation from missile attack. A second understanding exempts conventional weapons systems with a global reach. A third affirms Congress’s commitment to the safety and reliability of the nation’s nuclear arsenal.”

The problem, according to John Bolton, is that this doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.  The language is what the language is, and these are “mere policy statements that attempt to influence future treaty interpretation.”

Fair enough, except, in the next paragraph, he tells us that the President’s “understandings and interpretations of treaties typically have (and should) predominate.”

Got that?  So we shouldn’t enact the treaty because the interpretations which Obama has endorsed don’t mean anything, and Obama is free to act upon the treaty in whatever way he chooses.  Evidently, the interpretations he endorses are different from those he, you know, endorses.  I believe in the world of international diplomacy they call that the “Pants on Fire Colloquy”.  Of course, Bolton could be saying that, constitutionally, Obama can’t do what he wants when it means ensuring adequate national defense, but he’s given free reign over all the stuff he wants to do to weaken it.  Glad to know.

As an interesting side-bar, the Senate and the President can’t interpret a treaty anyway they want (except when they can), but Bolton is evidently free to do so.  He contends, “Its preamble accepts an unspecified ‘interrelationship’ between nuclear weapons and defensive systems.  Politically, even if not in treaty language, the Russians get what they want:  no significant United States efforts on missile defense.”

Nice.

By the way, another reason to be fearful of New START’s long term effect on the country’s defense capabilities?  “[A future] President can, after all, completely withdraw from a treaty on his own.”  Not sure how that proves his case, but I guess if he’s willing to throw me a bone I might as well take it.

Oh, and evidently the Continental Congress of 1789 specifically warned us against nuclear non-proliferation.

To be fair, he thinks the treaty could be amended to make it palatable; but first it needs to eliminate restrictions on nuclear launching devices and Congress should approve the development of additional nuclear warheads.

However, in its current state, this piece of legislation is a travesty of international diplomacy (something which I think we can assume he is very, very familiar with), and “the Senate should heed the will of the voters and either reject the treaty or amend it so that it doesn’t weaken our national defense.”  Which is fair.  I don’t know about you, but if I heard one more political campaign rant about New START last October I was going to have a fit.

What a complete tool.

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Progressive is Pragmatic, Not Punishment

There has been a lot of talk about taxes lately, as in a desperate attempt to regain control in the election John McCain is accusing of Barack Obama of raising taxes on the middle class while simultaneously claiming that his tax cuts on the middle class, which he insists won’t exist, paid for by rolling back tax hikes of the Bush administration, which he was originally against, are some form of socialism.

Of course, the American tax system has been a progressive tax system since the passage of the 16th Amendment in 1913. There were two income taxes prior to that, during the Civil War and the 1880’s, which had flat rates. However, both of those taxes were only levied on the wealthiest of individuals in America, and therefore still adhered to the principle of the progressive tax which claims that those who make the most should shoulder the largest burden.

The historical battle between America and communist/socialist governments has made throwing around the terms “communist” and “socialist” very attractive. But I don’t know anybody in this country who is completely against any government program which dabbles in socialist ideology. I would have very little respect, and suspect very, very few Americans would oppose this view, of those who wanted to eliminate some of our programs which are quite socialist in operation, such as Social Security, Medicare, the postal service, the military, or Major League Baseball. But I digress . . .

There are two prevailing arguments against any sort of tax increase on the wealthy. The first is that the rich already pay far more than their fair share. You hear all sorts of statistics like “the wealthiest six Americans pay more in taxes than the rest of the US population, the crew of the Starship Enterprise, and every Chinese person since the beginning of time combined.” The part they leave out is that they make much more money than everybody else. So I set out to find some statistics which compare income distribution with tax burden. And I stumbled upon a very cool Excel spreadsheet (if there was ever a such thing) made up by the Congressional Budget Office. Check it out here. Unfortunately, it evidently takes two years to come up with this data (as a government employee, I should not have been as surprised as I was), because the most recent data was compiled in December 2007, but is only through 2005. Still, more recent data would actually prove my point better, because Bush helped push through another tax cut on the wealthy in 2006, as one of the Republican Congress’s last actions.

Instead of spouting a mountain of numbers, I decided to create some graphical evidence that our tax system is merely progressive and not some punishment for making money (click on the graphs to see a larger, more legible size):

I stumbled on another interesting little tidbit. Since the other popular argument among the right is that decreasing taxes for the rich increases wealth for all individuals, al la trickle down (I prefer the term “voodoo,” originated by someone whom I’m sure was ultra-liberal) economics, I decided to see how damaging increasing tax rates on the wealthiest individuals was for their earning power. Turns out, it’s not much damaging at all. In fact, their pre-tax income follows their tax rate much more proportionally than inversely:

And mean tax rates vs. mean income follows the same trend:

So it looks like demand side economics isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Of course, I’m not advocating for WWI tax rates, when the richest were taxed at about 70%. But it would appear that rolling back Bush’s tax cuts on the wealthiest while providing breaks for those who can least afford their taxes would hardly be the fatal mistake some would imply it would be.

Many argue for the flat tax as a way to eliminate the “redistribution of wealth.” But since we currently have a progressive tax system, doing so successfully could only result in one of two outcomes: either tax rates on the lower and middle classes would sharply increase, with the increase most severe on those making the least amount of money; or a drastic cut in government spending, inevitably targeting the most drastic cuts in programs designed to support the poorest individuals. Either way, it would also be a massive redistribution of wealth, this time from those most incapable of affording it to those who need it the least.

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Palin’s Fiscal Hypocrisy

As (hopefully) everybody in America knows, McCain picked Alaskan governor Sarah Palin as his Vice President nominee.

I really did not think this was coming.  Word had been skewed about the political lair for a while, and over two months ago I wrote a response to a comment about why Palin would not be a very successful VP pick.  Which I stand by.

People asked me how I felt about Biden.  Excited I was not, but neither was I disappointed.  He is a safe pick, one that will help Obama in a general election in several ways, and who won’t convince any Obama supporters to defect to McCain.  I was going to write a post about the man, but didn’t.  Work has been busy lately, and they expect me to keep up at the expense of my blog.  Horrible.

But I am very excited about Governor Palin.  She’s given us more dirt in the last week than McCain and Obama have all summer.  As an Obama supporter, it’s hard to imagine a better McCain Veep pick to help achieve the goal of an Obama Presidency.

After watching highlights of the Democrat and Republican Conventions (the Cubs have been playing a lot of night games lately), I’m certain of two things.

  1. If I hear the term “red meat” one more time I’m going to start systematically incorporating pundit carcass into the actual material.
  2. Palin is a liar.

I don’t want to rehash on stuff that’s been said for a week.  So I won’t get into the vetting process that didn’t, or the irony of Palin’s pregnant daughter, or the ethics investigation which could conceivable recommend her impeachment less than a week before the election.

Though I have to point out that Palin named her children Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, and Trig.  Can you really trust this person’s judgment??

There’s not much material to pick through, as Palin has only had one real speech enter the national conscience, and that was Wednesday night.  But she spent a considerable amount of her time speaking of her grand accomplishments enacting fiscal responsibility in Alaska, which should work well in the party of fiscal responsibility.  Even though the U.S. Government reports Republican administrations seem to be the only ones which increase the national deficit, Bush’s tax “cuts” didn’t do anything for most people but were targeted towards the wealthiest individuals (linked figure taken from this story), and Obama intends to decrease taxes for most Americans.

And even though Palin wasn’t nearly so responsible.

First, she has talked in great lengths about killing the so-called “Bridge to Nowhere.”  Sounds good – it was turned into a symbol of government waste and McCain has used it on more than one occasion to show how bad earmarks are.

Problem is Palin was not only hesitant to cancel it, she supported it in the first place.  In a questionnaire by The Anchorage Times she said she supported using state funds to build the Gavina Island bridge.  Tonight she said she told the nation “I told Congress, thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere.”  But a year ago she said, “Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island.”  And she didn’t exactly tell the government “no thanks” on the money they were willing to spend, anyway, but rather spent half of it on other road projects before officially axing the bridge project.

In related news, it turns out that the pipe line she droned on about her Governorship created hasn’t actually been created yet.  It’s still in the planning stages.  And by “planning stages” I mean still awaiting approval from the people who are actually going to build the thing.  But if she works real hard, it’s estimated to come online sometime around the year 2020.  So worry not; McCain/Palin has energy assistance on the way – you just have to wait about twelve years.  No big deal.

She also got things a little fuzzy when she said she enacted massive budget cuts which brought the Alaskan budget to more responsible levels while creating a budget surplus.  This is not exactly accurate – Alaska had a budget surplus in 2006 (she was elected in November 2006 so you do the math).  The reason for the surplus?  Not budget cuts, but oil.  Oil taxes, royalties, and fees account for at least 80% of the state’s revenue.  This makes sense, since it’s the leading oil producer in the nation and its next best export is tundra.  Of course, it should be noted that gas prices in Alaska are the highest in the country, which could say something about McCain’s plan to drill to lower gas prices.

Oh, the surplus was also due to federal government spending, since Palin asked for more federal money to Alaska in earmarks per capita than any other state in the union.  Of course, Palin claims to be against these earmarks.  She just doesn’t mind asking for them, spending all the money before saying “no thanks,” and then taking credit for the surpluses they helped achieve.

And not only was Alaska’s surplus not due to Palin’s budget cuts, but Alaska’s 2007 capital budget was one of the largest in the state’s history, and the $6.6 billion operations budget escaped veto-free as the largest Alaska had ever had – despite a promise to cut $150 million from it.  But she had a good excuse; there’s not enough time between her becoming Governor and the passage of the budget.  So let me get this straight:  when she’s in Alaska she didn’t have enough time to adequately cut the budget, but when she’s in Minnesota she’s a shining example of how to do so?

Though to be fair, she did cut money from the capital budget in 2007 and 2008.  Programs that were cut included housing for homeless and runaway youths, grants to schools and nonprofit organizations, a learning center, a library, and a government transparency program (seems kind of counter to McCain’s government transparency arguments).  She also cut spending on youth sports, but allowed full funding for sport fishing hatcheries.  Probably because sport fishing brings money into the state, but youth sports only bring money into individual schools.

My two favorite program cuts?  A 20% cut in funding to help support teenage moms, and a 62% cut in special needs education funding.

So she may not be completely honest, but she seems to be winning major points for hypocrisy.

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Timing is Everything

Last night I was watching a losing campaign and starting to get a bit depressed (of course, I’m referring to the Cubbies), and I thought to myself; I wonder if Obama asked any superdelegates to hold off on publicly supporting them until tomorrow, to offset the expectedly large loss in West Virginia?

It seems like I was correct.

Before the sun came up today, Obama’s camp announced the support of two superdelegates, Rep. Peter Visclosky of Indiana and Democrats Abroad chair Christine Schon Marques. Later in the day, pro-choice group NARAL gave him their endorsement (I’m going to vote for Obama anyway).

And just about an hour ago it was announced that a very (un)important person endorsed him: John Edwards.

Let me tell you, John Edwards looked good standing next to Barack Obama. He looked like a VP standing next to his Commander-in-Chief. I’m not sure picking Edwards is the best move for a variety of reasons (mostly because he didn’t do much for Kerry), but I do thoroughly like him, and wouldn’t complain at all about seeing him in the White House come next January.

We’ll see what his endorsement does. He has seventeen to twenty delegates (depending on the source), which means his endorsement could potentially be a bigger prize than Hillary’s “big” (meaningless) win in West Virginia. More importantly, it could start a flood of superdelegates to Obama’s side.

Personally, I doubt that this will clinch the nomination. For example, I don’t think older women and “working-class” whites (I hate that term; I’m a college grad who makes more than $50,000, and I work harder now than when I was a poor, “uneducated” HR rep) won’t start flooding to him. But what people forget is that Clinton is winning this segment; not McCain. Just like the party rallied around McCain after he got the nomination, the Democrats will rally around Obama. The only reason there’s even a doubt is because Clinton is exploited it for political gain (though she’s said time and time and time again Obama will beat McCain). Nor do I think the flood will actually occur (not that it’s needed; there will continue to be a steady stream for the next three weeks, but he will have the necessary votes shortly after June 3, if not before). However, I do think it will sway a few delegates over and I find it hard to believe any of Edward’s delegates will come out for Clinton. Most importantly, it should push the endorsement of several unions to Obama’s corner, which will be big in the primary, if not in the general election (I have doubted a union’s ability to bring their members to an individual ticket for quite some time).

I would say it should show some people who’s biggest strength seems to be denial that this thing really is over for Clinton. It seems like Clinton is staying around until June 3, at which point she will quickly drop out. It’s her own comments, as well as interviews with her staff, that lead me to this conclusion. This way she gets to take the high ground and say she made sure “every vote counts.” (Well, not every vote. Caucus states don’t count.) She will also get to claim the high ground when Florida and Michigan get some of their delegates seated (even Clinton campaign chair Terry McAuliffe admits that “the rule is 50 percent.”). Of course, by that time it won’t matter.

I’ve gotten used to the fact that Obama has won the nomination, but this is pretty sweet. The only thing that would be better is if Gore endorses, and I would be surprised if that happens before the convention regardless of the outcome of the primary. Excuse me if I crow for a little while.

Now it’s the Cubs turn . . .

A little point of irony. I just heard on MSNBC that George W. Bush gave up golf for lent. No, just joking. But he did give up golf for the Iraq War. He said that “playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.” I wonder where he could have possibly gotten that idea?? Hmmm . . .

I guess he does listen to his father, after all.

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Why Clinton’s “Big” Win Isn’t So Big After All.

Hillary Clinton won Pennsylvania. She won it big. It’s a huge, “tide-turning” victory that is going to be big trouble for Obama and is breathing new life into Clinton’s campaign. It’s the first victory in the new day of the 2008 Democrat Primary, one that will certainly spell defeat for Obama and continue the Clinton legacy.

That will be the story for the next two weeks out of the Clinton camp, and the press will be remiss not to give it some legitimacy.

But if you take Pennsylvania out of the microcosm the Clinton camp wants to keep it in, and put it in the larger picture, it’s not too difficult to see why it doesn’t change a whole lot at all.

The word among the press (and to Clinton’s credit, I highly doubt this would have materialized into much more than the word among the press) is that a five point victory would have spelled the virtual end to the Clinton campaign. The “magic number”, given by people whom I fully respect (most notably Tim Russert), was about eight points, give or take a point or two. Anything over that is a resounding victory for Clinton, anything under was a resounding defeat.

Of course, Clinton won by ten.

This is certainly disappointing to the Obama camp, but I doubt they’ll lose much sleep over it. At the end of the day he still has a commanding lead. And despite the spin coming out of Clinton, she still has a long way to go before meaningfully cutting into it.

The problem is ten points doesn’t actually do much. She has gained ten delegates so far, with eighteen left to designate. When all the delegates are awarded, she can expect to win an estimated fifteen or sixteen total. Not that this gain is not meaningless. But even after you include a net gain of sixteen delegates, Obama will still be leading the pledged delegate count by an even 150. This is bad news, because out of the remaining contests there are only 258 delegates left. To break even, she would have to win 204 of those remaining delegates. Obviously that’s not going to happen. It’s not even quasi-realistic.

And it’s doubtful that this advantage will even be around longer than two weeks, when the next primaries occur. Right now Obama is enjoying a fifteen point lead in the polls in North Carolina. If he wins by that margin, according to Slate’s Online Delegate Calculator, he will win 17 delegates. So this “huge” victory will be negated in a state with less than 75% of the total delegates Pennsylvania has. And the gains she made in the popular vote (a little over 200,000 votes) will be cut into significantly, as well. Meanwhile, Indiana is still a very close race. Clinton is leading the polls right now by two points, which will net her only two delegates. So in two weeks the delegates she won last night at best would be a net of only a few (I’d say her netting ten is a stretch of imagination) and at worst she could be losing by even more than she was last night (which isn’t a stretch at all, though Obama picking up a net of ten isn’t much more realistic than Hillary doing so).

We’ve been down this road before. Remember her “game-changing” wins in Ohio and Texas? You know, the ones where Clinton only came out ahead by two delegates and even after you included her win in Rhode Island on the same night Obama had made up for her net gain within a week in Wyoming and Mississippi? Where did that get her? Exactly where she started. By the next big primary, in Pennsylvania, the general consensus, even out of her own camp, was she had to win in order to stay viable.

Except there was a big difference back then. Notably, there were a few more primaries, one other big race, and she was still operating in the black. Now she’s pretty much down to Indiana, and her campaign is operating with a $10 million deficit (Obama has $40 million in the bank, by the way). She needed a huge victory. And instead she got the same thing she got last time she had a “big” victory; a nice talking point but little to nothing in the way of delegates or popular votes to take home.

Of course, her campaign has more or less given up on winning the delegate vote, anyway. So maybe it’s a little unfair to say that, just because she’s losing in the manner by which both major political parties use to determine their candidate, it actually means she’s losing. Ultimately, the Clinton campaign is going to try and persuade enough superdelegates with the argument that she’s the more electable candidate.

Ultimately, Clinton’s victory (as it impacts her ability to receive the nomination) is three fold. First, one of the big arguments coming from Clinton is that Democrats need states like Pennsylvania to win the general election. Her victory here seems to prove her case that she’s the most electable in the general election because she can carry these states. But the argument that since Obama lost Pennsylvania to Clinton means he’ll lose it to McCain is specious. First, it’s not sensible to think that all the people who voted for Clinton are going to defect to McCain. As the drama in the GOP nomination pointed out, as soon as one candidate is picked, the party will rally around them. Clinton admitted that herself. But more to the point, Pennsylvania is a closed primary, which means independents don’t get to vote. And left-leaning Republicans don’t get to vote. Much has been made of the turnout in the Pennsylvania. Which is good; it was a record turnout and that’s something both candidates should be proud of. Over 2.3 million people cast votes in the primary last night. But over 5.7 million people voted in the general election in 2004. Bush, who lost the state, received almost half a million more votes than the total Democrats who voted in the primary. Only about 40% of the total populace voted last night, and many of those were first time voters (ever, not just in the primary) who everybody agrees Obama received the majority of. So Obama has a lot of room to make up votes by November, and millions of voters who didn’t participate last night to work with.

Secondly, it cuts into Obama’s popular vote lead. This dent in Obama’s lead should be lessened by the vote in North Carolina. At this point he’s winning by over 500,000 votes, which is a lot with only nine contests left (especially considering there are some small contests in those nine). But of course, she argues that this lead is even less if you count Florida, and even less still if you count Florida and Michigan. In fact, if you count both those states, then Hillary Clinton is actually leading by just under 122,000 votes. But Obama has a pretty good counter for that argument. First, I would expect him to make up that 122,000 margin by the end of the campaign. But right now those vote totals aren’t counting the caucus states of Iowa, Nevada, Maine, and Washington. Since Clinton is the “every vote should count” candidate, I’m sure she has no problem counting the vote totals in those states. If those votes are counted, he’s still winning by just under 195,000 votes. And if you don’t count the Michigan’s votes, since he wasn’t on the ballot there won’t be a lot of people outside the Clinton camp that do, he’s still winning by over 300,000 votes. So the popular vote is not really in Clinton’s favor unless she counts two states she agreed not to count when she thought her nomination is inevitable, and ignores four states with caucuses, three of which just happened to lose.

The final big talking point to the superdelegates is that Obama can’t “finish her off.” If he’s such a great candidate, she will ask, than how come he can’t wrap up the nomination? Again, Obama can argue that if she’s such a great candidate, why can’t she make any meaningful impact when she’s winning these supposedly game-changing contests? It also places emphasis on certain contests. She argues that he can’t win because he narrowly lost in Texas and lost by ten in Ohio and Pennsylvania. But the argument ignores the huge inroads Obama made in those two states (gaining over ten points in both) and also places the burden of Obama winning in states which the Clinton camp thought was an inevitable victory for her, without placing any pressure on her to win in states which Obama had an even moderate lead (which she has been unable to do, save New Hampshire. Remember New Hampshire? That was like, forty five states ago.)

So all of these arguments have their faults. And as evidence, the very morning after Clinton’s “game-changing” victory, Obama picked up yet another superdelegate.

I did see yet another new way to view the primary season on Morning Joe (which I was unfortunate enough to wake up to. I really, really don’t like Joe Scarborough, and need to remember to set my DVR to switch to Cartoon Network in the mornings. The Mr. Men Show is the best children’s program since Sesame Street.) After she said that “this is an election, where people get to choose” (well, the superdelegates get to choose, the people just get to keep it close enough to let them), she told us we need to look “at the election backwards.” This really gets to the root of why I’m not worried about the superdelegates. Obama is going to get to point at the primary and say “look, I won the most states, the most delegates, the most popular votes. And I’ve been able to win in states with open primaries, illustrating that I am better at bringing in independents to the party.” Clinton, meanwhile, will be saying, “But if you don’t count the small states, and don’t count the caucus states, and don’t count the red states, and place more emphasis on certain large states, and then look at it all backwards, I’m obviously the winner!! After all, this is an election, where [certain] people get to choose!” Give me a break.

The win wasn’t wholly unimportant. It does give her a reason to continue the race, when a loss would have made her sticking around very, very unpopular. But if this was football game, then she’d be down by two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter, and she just scored a field goal. It helped, but she’s still down by two scores.

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Why 2008 Should Be the Superdelegates’ Last Run

One thing that has absolutely amazed me lately is how Hillary Clinton is making herself out to be the “democratic” nominee because Obama allegedly doesn’t want to count the votes in Florida or Michigan and doesn’t want to finish the primary season because he’s afraid when all the votes are counted Hillary could win.

The problem with this assertion, of course, is when all the votes are counted it’s extremely unlikely that Clinton will be winning the popular vote, virtually impossible that she will be winning the delegate vote, and mathematically impossible that she will be winning the state count. So for the past six weeks she’s been working on a campaign to get the Democrat superdelegates to overturn the results of the primary.

I’m trying to figure out how that’s the “democratic” candidate. If you have any ideas, please let me know.

The whole idea of superdelegates seems very, for a lack of a better term, Republican to me. It’s essentially based upon the idea that the people don’t always pick a good candidate. According to Wikipedia (and how could an encyclopedia which anybody can edit possibly be wrong?), superdelegates were created in response to changes made to the Democrat Party nominee process which, get this, actually made the “composition of the convention less subject to control by party leaders and more responsive to the votes cast during the campaign for the nomination.” The party elders thought this weakened the ticket of George McGovern and Jimmy Carter (I’m not sure which Carter ticket was weakened; the one when he won or the one when he was the incumbent). The superdelegates were enacted in 1982 to help the Democrats create more viable tickets to beat the Republicans. The “new and improved” system promptly lost the next two elections. In fact, the only state the Democrats carried in the 1984 election was Minnesota (home to future U.S. Senator Al Franken). And the only Democrat to become President since that time was impeached. So common sense would say this system doesn’t work too well, right?

In fairness, you can’t pin the problems of the Democrat Party on the superdelegate system. While the superdelegates did get to flex their muscle almost immediately, choosing Walter Mondale over Gary Hart in 1984, the perception that they decided this election is not exactly accurate. Mondale was leading in popular vote and was only about 40 votes shy of clinching the nomination, so it’s not like they overturned the results of the primary. And other than 1984 they haven’t even had the chance to do so, as the winning candidate had clinched the nomination before the convention.

Until this year.

It is very unlikely that Obama will get the 1025 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination. He probably will be down by quite a bit more than 40, as well. Which means Clinton will be trying her damndest to get them to overturn the will of the people. Her primary argument will be that she’s more electable, as evidence that she has won the “important” states. (That’s another funny thing about Clinton’s claim she’s the more democratic candidate. The only states that seem to count are the ones she wins.) Clinton also says she should be the nominee because she’s won more states with closed primaries. I’m not quite sure how her claim that Obama wins only because of independent voters somehow makes her more electable in a populace where a third of the voters are independent, but there’s a lot about Clinton I don’t understand. Like her St. Patrick’s Day scarf.

I’m not worried about the superdelegates, to be honest. Since Super Tuesday, Obama has been winning at least one or two a week, while Clinton is at a net loss (she did pick up four this week, according to MSNBC). He has turned her 100+ lead from at most 30 (according to MSNBC) to at least 12 (according to the NY Times). I don’t think that she has any chance of convincing enough superdelegates to her side unless she wins the popular vote, which would be disappointing but at least it would make the decision somewhat legitimate.

It’s also not likely to happen. Despite her claims to the contrary, the popular vote is not favorable to her. She’s losing by over 700,000 votes. She’s not going to make that up. And that’s if you don’t count the caucus states. And even if you count Florida she’s losing by over 400,000 votes. If you count Florida and Hillary’s Michigan votes, and if you say Obama only gets 85% of the “Uncommitted” votes in Michigan (which is an insanely pro-Hillary assumption), and if you don’t count the votes in the caucus states, Hillary would be losing by 296,261 votes. Not so bad in early February, but this is April and there are only ten contests left (and that’s a lot of “ifs”). She won’t make that up. Her only real hope to win the popular vote is to somehow count Florida and Michigan without a revote, as Obama’s name was not on the Michigan ballot. Either that or win out by unrealistic margins.

But even if Obama wins enough superdelegates to win the nomination, and he will, why should the party of the people, as I think the Democrats are, use such an elitist method to determine the nominee? Doesn’t this play into the Republican’s claims that the Democrats are, in fact, the party of elites? Say what you will about the Republicans, but voters decided to nominate John McCain and even though the party was not particularly fond of the idea, their will was granted. How could Hillary Clinton possibly defend her nomination when McCain asks why, when after thirty million people voted to chose a victor, it ended up being decided by 800 individuals, some of whom don’t even hold an elected office? By saying if you crunch the number just right, she only lost by less than one percent of the popular vote?

How can the party that feels victimized when five individuals overturned the will of the people just eight years ago now overturn the will of the voters for a mere few hundred? Is this irony lost on the Clintons? Or do they just not care? This should not be the party of the Clintons. This should be the party of Al Gore. The Clintons have been embroiled in so much scandal they actually use it as a reason to vote against Obama (“At least you know all the terrible stuff we did!! We can’t even find any real good dirt on Obama! Is that the type of person you want elected??”) Meanwhile, Al Gore wins a Nobel Peace Prize. And yet some would ignore the lessons of Gore and strip the right of their own people to determine the leader of this country for the second time in three election cycles.

The rules are the rules, and it’s too late to change them for this election cycle. But I don’t think anybody can argue that all this talk about the superdelegates this year has been good for the Democrat’s image. Thomas Jefferson once said that a government should “consider the will of the society enounced by the majority of a single vote as sacred as if unanimous.” That definition of a republic does not lend itself well to the final vote being merely a suggestion for a committee of one quarter of one one-thousandth of the total population to follow at their discretion. It’s time for the party created by Thomas Jefferson to elect their President by the criteria he established. Or it’s time to give way to a party that will.

As for me, I will not spit in the eye of the voting public just for the “honor” of four more years of the Clinton/Bush oligarchy.

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Grasping at Straws

So let me get this straight.  When the focus of the national press was erroneous comments Barack Obama’s minister made, you could take the high road and say you didn’t have a comment about it and this shouldn’t be a central issue, but almost two weeks later when everybody’s talking about your “misstatements” now you want to bring it up?

Give me a break.

Oh, I love this Hillary quote:  “(Obama releasing his income taxes) is a good first step. Now he should release his records from being in the state senate and any other information that the public and the press need to know from his experience, because I think that, you know, we should continue to make available the information that we have.”

So is that why you haven’t released your income tax records?  Or why you haven’t released documents related to financing of the Clinton Library or the Clinton Foundation?  Or why you wouldn’t release records of your time as First Lady until a Freedom of Information Act law suit? 

Now Bill Clinton is saying that Obama wants to “disenfranchise” Michigan and Floridian voters because he knows Clinton will win them.  Want to guess how many votes Obama cast in favor of not allowing early states to be seated?  How about the total number of votes Obama cast to move up the primaries?  I’ll give you a hint; it’s the total number of votes Obama cast when both states decided not to revote.

The answer to all three, in case you’re delusional enough to actually believe Obama somehow had an active part in the “disenfranchment” of the two states, is zero.  But the logic is classic Clinton:  “Everybody would know how much voters in each state love Hillary if they stopped allowing Obama to block the vote.”

I really hope at some point in the future the Clintons at least act like they respect my intelligence.

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