Patterico's Pontifications



Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:49 am

TOM SUPPORTERS SILENT ON THE POLL: I have been cruising the blogosphere, and there is uniform silence on the fact that I report immediately below: in a 2-way race against Mr. N-Word Cruz Bustamante, Arnold and Tom do almost exactly the same. I would like to know the thoughts of people who have expressed support for Tom in the past, like The Interocitor, Lex Communis, or The Angry Clam.

Meanwhile, the Arnold supporters are gliding over this inconvenient fact, and are using the poll numbers to rail against McClintock for staying in the race. For example, Hugh Hewitt complains that the poll numbers show that, by staying in, McClintock has “denied Arnold a pure majority” — but does not note that the numbers show the reverse to be true as well. Hewitt’s reaction to the poll is fairly representative of the reaction of the pro-Arnold camp as a whole.

Don’t get me wrong. There are reasons, which I discuss immediately below, which suggest that these numbers could be misleading. But we don’t know that to be true. And these poll numbers — by themselvesdon’t show Tom to be a spoiler any more than they show Arnold to be a spoiler. Yet the Arnold supporters are shouting from the rafters that these very poll results prove that McClintock’s campaign is “hopeless,” and that McClintock is basically a stubborn jerk who is spoiling everything for Republicans.

If you really love Arnold, more power to you. Personally, I don’t understand how true conservatives can be so rabidly in favor of a guy whose idea of “conservative principles” includes saying that he wants to insure “every child in California” (apparently including illegals). But I know a lot of people, including conservatives, really just like Arnold — and that’s fine. There are reasons to like him. I will discuss some in the days to come.

But — many are voting for Arnold mainly because he can win. I understand that. I have myself expressed support for the idea — if necessary — of voting for Arnold for practical reasons. But if that’s what you are doing, don’t forget that you are making a compromise. Even if you support Arnold, you don’t need to trash McClintock in the process. And these poll results do not really provide a basis to do so.

UPDATE: Some people are now beginning to take note of this story. Daniel Weintraub mentions it here but gives no analysis. The Interocitor says here that he is once again conflicted as to what his vote should be. And The Angry Clam lives up to his name with his unprintable reaction here. Lex Communis is still remaining mute.

FURTHER UPDATE: Blogosferics says the results mean there is justice in the world.



Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:39 pm

THE UNREPORTED STORY OF THE USA TODAY POLL: MAYBE McCLINTOCK COULD WIN IF ARNOLD DROPPED OUT: I just took a closer look at the actual poll results from that USA Today poll I linked to this morning.

They actually asked the questions I had hoped they would ask — in particular about a 2-way match between McClintock and Mr. N-Word (Cruz Bustamante). Read the numbers for yourself. I will concentrate only on numbers for likely voters, since that is the most meaningful figure.

Given a choice between Mr. N-Word Cruz Bustamante and Arnold, likely voters picked Arnold, 58% to 36%.

Given a choice between Mr. N-Word and Tom McClintock, likely voters picked McClintock, 56% to 37%. These numbers are basically indistinguishable from the Arnold vs. Cruz numbers.

Schwarzenegger’s most recent approval rating among likely voters is 63%; his most recent disapproval rating is 30%.

McClintock’s most recent approval rating among likely voters is 58%; his most recent disapproval rating is 18%.

Now, I don’t mean to overstate the significance of this. Dan Weintraub (in posts reviewed by his editors) has pointed out that: 1) the “likely voter” calculation in this poll assumes an unusually high Republican turnout; and 2) McClintock has been getting a pass from Democrats [and, I would add, a boost from the Indians] precisely because they want him to do well, which they believe will hurt Arnold. Mr. N-Word has even been actively talking up Tom’s candidacy. So I don’t know what to read into these poll numbers.

However, I find it interesting, a little disturbing, and entirely predictable that nobody in the media seems to have noticed these particular findings. They do appear to contradict much of the conventional wisdom about who could win this race.


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:24 pm

THE PRIORITIES OF SHEILA JACKSON LEE: I am late to the news that Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee wants to put the “French” back in French fries and French toast on the House menu.

I hope her plea is successful, so we can move beyond such trivia and get back to our nation’s important business — like naming hurricanes after black people.


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:30 am

A POSSIBLE SOLUTION TO THE TOM/ARNOLD DILEMMA: I may have found a way to resolve the dilemma that I have spoken about repeatedly (see here and here): Arnold or Tom? Practicality or principle?

Tom is the obvious choice for those of us who want to see the three Cs in government: conservatism, competence, and character. Tom has all three. Comparatively, Arnold has none.

For fans of the movie Broadcast News, McClintock is the character played by Albert Brooks: a knowledgeable, competent guy who is terrible in front of a camera. Arnold is the William Hurt character: a vapid and popular on-screen personality. I liked both characters in their way, but I always liked the Brooks character better. (You’re supposed to.)

There is a great scene where Albert Brooks is talking to Holly Hunter about the empty William Hurt character (ironically named Tom):

I know you care about him. I’ve never seen you like this about anyone, so please don’t take it wrong when I tell you that I believe that Tom, while a very nice guy, is the Devil. . . . What do you think the Devil is going to look like if he’s around? Nobody is going to be taken in if he has a long, red, pointy tail. No. I’m semi-serious here. He will look attractive and he will be nice and helpful and he will get a job where he influences a great God-fearing nation and he will never do an evil thing . . . he will just bit by little bit lower standards where they are important. Just coax along flash over substance . . . Just a tiny bit. And he will talk about all of us really being salesmen. . . . And he’ll get all the great women.

I love this speech. It sums up much of what I think about life. And these sorts of thoughts make it almost physically painful to contemplate voting for Arnold.

Plus, one difference between the William Hurt character and Arnold is that William Hurt in the movie was actually a pretty nice guy. From what I have seen, Arnold appears to be an arrogant jerk (see here and here for examples).

But Arnold sure has moved up in the polls. So the dilemma remains, painful as ever. What to do? Will it really come down to voting for the “Devil”?

Here’s my personal solution. My wife, who is a Democrat, has all along leaned towards voting for Bustamante. (Don’t ask.) She loves Albert Brooks’ character in Broadcast News too, and the quote above is one of her favorite speeches in any movie. She hates the idea of Arnold being Governor, and she hates the idea of my voting for him. So we have discussed the following compromise (nothing definite yet): if I vote for McClintock, she’ll vote for Camejo.

If we do this, I eat my cake and have it too. I vote on principle, but it’s not a vote for Mr. N-Word Cruz Bustamante — because my vote takes a vote away from BoostaMyTaxes.

I think it’s the perfect solution.

UPDATE: A regular reader and Arnold supporter writes to tell me (among other things): “your harebrained idea of ‘vote-swapping’ may be illegal.” I will admit that I had not considered the issue before. However, I must disagree with my good friend (who normally is a friend of the First Amendment), and register my opinion that it would be “harebrained” to deem our arrangement illegal.

The main point is this: what my wife and I propose is not really “vote-swapping.” We are not proposing to vote in a way inconsistent with our true feelings. To the contrary, we are simply agreeing that we will both vote the way we want to vote on principle — were we not to concern ourselves with how other people may vote. In essence, we have persuaded each other to stick with our respective principles. This is pure political expression, which lies at the heart of the First Amendment.

Moreover, even crude vote-swapping, of the type that Naderites and Gore supporters were doing across state lines in the 2000 election, is arguably protected under the First Amendment. Our very own Ninth Circus has ruled that efforts to block such arrangements threaten to chill First Amendment rights. (Porter v. Jones, 319 F.3d 483 (9th Cir. 2003).) (Relying on the Ninth Circus! Can I sink any lower?!) Also, vote-swapping is such a time-honored tradition among federal and state legislators at every level that they have a name for it: “log-rolling.”

Far more important than the opinion of the Ninth Circus is the judgment of common sense. The applicable statutes are described in this article in Slate. Federal statutes prohibit only offering your vote “for something of monetary value” — language that clearly doesn’t apply to vote-swapping. In California, it is a crime to get “any money, gift, loan, or other valuable consideration” for “induc[ing] any other person to . . . vote or refrain from voting for any particular person or measure.” An agreement to vote a certain way cannot be “valuable consideration” under this statute. Otherwise, it would be a crime to try to convince (“induce”) someone to vote a certain way, and use as part of your argument the assurance that you feel so strongly about the issue, you will vote that way too. Nonsense!

I continue to believe that my wife and I have hit upon the perfect solution to the Tom/Arnold problem. And next time we watch Broadcast News, we won’t have to wince when Albert Brooks delivers that great “Devil” speech.



Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:25 pm



Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:06 pm

GREAT IDEA, CRUZ — BUT, UH, WE ALREADY DO THAT: In a blog entry cleared by his editors, Daniel Weintraub reports that Mr. N-Word Cruz Bustamante in the debate offered an amazing fix for the worker’s compensation system: lower rates for safer workplaces. It’s such a great idea that — they already do it.

I love Weintraub’s conclusion: “Experience in government, it seems, is no guarantee that a candidate knows what he is talking about.”


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:22 pm

FOOTNOTE ONE: THIS DECISION DOES NOT APPLY TO MY TELEPHONE NUMBER: The telephone number of U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham, the judge who ruled the Do-Not-Call list unconstitutional, is . . . on the Do-Not-Call list.

Maybe Nottingham anticipated that irate citizens with a sense of irony would be deluging him with phone calls after the issuance of his decision. This actually happened after Jay Leno made the following quip on his T.V. show: “The judge says the telemarketers can call you whenever they want. You know what we should do? Let’s all call this judge tonight at home during dinner.”

(Via SoCalLawBlog.)

TEASE: I have read Judge Nottingham’s decision, and will explain in the next day or two why I disagree with it.

UPDATE: Howard Bashman says that this shows that the judge was applying the law regardless of his personal interest. Interesting take.


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:38 am

MORE THOUGHTS ON McCLINTOCK AND ARNOLD: I would like to elaborate a little on comments I made recently regarding the “Arnold or Tom?” dilemma currently facing California conservatives. Our local Dog Trainer today has a back-page story on Tom McClintock, in which Tucker Carlson says that the abandonment of McClintock by some California conservatives is “nauseating.”

Let’s put aside for a moment the fact that Tucker Carlson is a clueless boob who had to publicly eat a shoe-shaped cake because he stupidly said that Hillary Clinton’s book would not sell a million copies. Let’s also put aside the fact that that incident showed Carlson’s capacity for underestimating the public’s stupidity — an accurate estimation of which is critical to making voting decisions in this race. We’ll just place all that to one side for a moment, and examine the thesis of Tucker “Shown Up By Hillary” Carlson. Is it indeed “nauseating” for conservatives to abandon Tom McClintock?

I have recently argued that, assuming that the polling shows McClintock can’t win, voting for Arnold is the best thing that supporters of Tom McClintock can do for McClintock.

I keep reading people saying McClintock needs to drop out. He is not going to do that. McClintock has really boxed himself in with his public assurances that he won’t quit. He can’t now. His supporters have to save Tom from himself.

This doesn’t mean I am quite endorsing Arnold yet, as stated by Lex Communis. Just that I almost certainly will. I am willing to wait and see a few more polls.

I want to address something: this is not an easy decision. It ultimately means that I am going to let a few hundred random Californians (the poll respondents over the next few days) determine my vote. I am not heartened by this. When I walk down the street and pick a Californian at random, I do not feel comfortable with the idea of that person having any input in my vote. Frankly, in most cases, I am not all that thrilled at the prospect that that person may be casting his or her own vote. It is truly galling to think of a group of such slack-jawed, uninformed folks controlling what I (and others like me) do in the polling booth.

Moreover, there is a circularity to all of this. Many people are basing their vote on what they think other people will do, based on the views of poll respondents. Meanwhile, many of those poll respondents will themselves base their answers to the poll questions on what they think other people will do. As the shampoo commercial used to say: “And so on, and so on, and so on.”

As I recently said, I would at least like for the polls to pose the question of who people would vote for if they just voted for the candidate they liked best. Such polling could test the assertion of evangelical James Dobson, who is quoted in today’s Dog Trainer as saying: “Everybody’s saying McClintock can’t win. If all of the conservatives who are complaining about him would vote for him, I believe he would pull it off.” I think Dobson is wrong, but I’d at like least to see pollsters address the subject.

But I doubt they will. Ultimately, whether it is based on perceptions, or Californians’ unwillingness to vote for social conservatives, or whatever, I still think that McClintock is unlikely to pull within striking distance. If he can’t, the more accurate view of McClintock is the one expressed in this morning’s Dog Trainer article by Kevin Starr: “He’s the Ralph Nader of the California Republican Party.”

Those of us who like McClintock should wish better for him.



Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:28 pm

IS HARRY PREGERSON DECIDING IRAQ POLICY?: The New York Times reports: Iraq Leaders Seek Greater Role Now in Running Nation. Apparently, many Iraqis are complaining that the U.S. is taking too long to turn over governing power to Iraqis. The story provides one possible explanation for the delay:

Some senior American and British officials say privately that they are concerned that if an election was held today, a Shiite muslim cleric might well dominate the polling on the strength of the 60 percent Shiite share of the population.

Translation: let’s delay the election because we might not like the results if it happened now. Sounds like the judges from the Ninth Circus three-judge panel recall decision are running policy in Iraq!

(BY THE WAY: I love the way the Times reporter says that officials told him this “privately” — as in: “just between you and me . . . and anyone who reads the New York Times.”)

RETALIACRATS REDUX: Newsweek reports this

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:07 pm

RETALIACRATS REDUX: Newsweek reports this quote from Gray Davis, on what will happen if he is recalled by voters: “There will be a recall in retaliation because the Democrats have promised that.”

Now what could be more principled than that?

UPDATE: Kevin Murphy says: “This would be the single stupidest thing that the Democrat Party has done in my lifetime.” Wow. That is a bold statement (which Kevin accordingly puts in bold type). Kevin may overstate matters slightly, but I think he has a point: this would not appear to be one of the shrewder moves the Retaliacrats could make.

Does that mean they wouldn’t try it? I wouldn’t say that. I think retaliation is an essential part of their nature now.

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