Patterico's Pontifications


Palin-Bashing by McCain Staffers

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:30 pm

Interesting stuff at Hot Air about McCain staffers taking potshots at Sarah Palin in the big Blame Game.

I have no idea what actually happened. I know only this: some of the McCain staffers were taking potshots at Palin while the campaign was still going on. I don’t get paid to blog full-time, and when I first heard about this, I didn’t have time to comment on my appalled reaction. But I’ll do so now.

Let’s assume that every nasty thing they’re saying about Sarah Palin is true. It’s still unbelievable that staffers would be leaking that kind of stuff during the critical moments of a presidential campaign.

The people responsible should be rooted out and should never be allowed to work for a campaign again.

R.I.P. Michael Crichton

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:09 pm

He was only 66.

I always enjoyed his books.

Plus, he’s the guy who explained to me why we always seem to stupidly trust newspapers, even when we know that they misrepresent the truth, day after day after day.

He was a good man. He will be missed.

Congratulations to Ric Ocampo

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:22 pm

Ric was appointed as a Superior Court Judge today. Mrs. P. and I have known him for years; in fact, he is the reason we’re living in Rancho Palos Verdes. He sold us on the area.

We all knew it was coming. Congratulations to Ric.

With the election of all of my favored candidates in the judicial elections, it is a banner day for the local judiciary.

The Next Round of Congressional Elections Is Only 730 Days Away

Filed under: General — WLS @ 7:32 pm

[Posted by WLS Shipwrecked]

One of the unusual features of the 2008 election cycle was the fact that the GOP had so many more Senate seats up for election than did the Dems.  The combination of several weak incumbents, a few retirements by long-standing stalwarts, and the fatigue of the Bush years, all combined to put the GOP Senators up for re-election directly in the cross-hairs of an angry electorate. 

But, the one salvation from this fact is that over the next two election cycles is that Dems that will have many more seats to defend — and it remains to be seen whether or not today is the high-water mark of the first term of the Obama Administration.


Key To The Obama Victory — It Harnessed The Power Of The Internet And Connectivity For Both Money and Message

Filed under: General — WLS @ 5:04 pm

[Posted by WLS Shipwrecked]

Two caveats about this post:

1)  I’m not minimizing the significance of Obama’s victory nor saying it was all because of technology advantages.  He ran a better campaign with a better message, and those campaigns usually win.

2)  I’m making no judgment in this post on the ethics or legality of some of the methods employed.

Following the 2000 election, the liberal advocacy groups began the march towards an increasing use of IT and connectivity.  Groups like MoveOn and Daily Kos sprang up late in the Clinton Administration, but really took off during the first Bush term in the aftermath of the Florida recount fiasco.

Their use of connectivity really had its first impact on the campaign of Howard Dean, which was staffed with a huge number of young and internet saavy supporters.   But their version wasn’t sufficient “mature” to overtake the establishment run campaigns of Kerry or Bush. The 2004 campaigns were still run the way campaigns had been run in the 20th Century — paid advertising, direct mail, phone banks, etc.

The people who began assembling Obama’s campaign apparatus in 2007 knew they could build a better mousetrap. 

The internet wasn’t seen by them as a device simply for dispensing information to their supporters — it was a lifeline back and forth between the campaign and the supporters.  Email addresses linked to PDAs and cellphones put the campaign always in contact with its supporters.  I read that the Obama campaign gave away signs and bumper-stickers in exchange for getting someone’s email address, understanding that the lost revenue for the trinket could be more than made up for later on if that person was prompted to donate $10, $20 or more to the campaign through a link sent via email. 

So, while Karl Rove and the GOP had their direct mail lists, and neighbor-to-neighbor 72 hour turnout operation, Obama quietly built a viral networking and fundraising juggernaut.  It was 20th Century technology v. 21st Century technology.

It has forever shattered the concept of public financing for Presidential campaigns.  I didn’t understand until this election that the amount of money available to a candidate who accepted public financing was whatever amount of money taxpayers had checked-off on their tax forms.  I knew that was where the money came from, but I had assumed that some statute established how much the candidates got.  Not true — it simply depends on how much is in the “kitty” for that year. 

But Obama showed that if you have a million donors, and you can get them to give you an average of $100 over 60 days, you already have $100 million dollars and you didn’t do anything except hit a “Send” button on a computer and collect your money from the credit card companies. 

Given that a Presidential campaign lasts nearly 24 months now, accumulating a few million email addresses in this wired-world seems like a no-brainer.  It’ll be political malpractice in the future for any candidate to not seek to copy what the Obama campaign first saw the utility of.

— WLS Shipwrecked

It’s the Republicans, Stupid

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 12:29 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I agree with Steven Den Beste that Obama’s election isn’t the end of the world and that Americans will be disenchanted with how Democrats govern. And FWIW I think Obama will govern from the far left instead of the center.

I also agree with Dr. Helen‘s post entitled “It’s the Economy, Stupid” that this election may have resulted in part from concerns about the economy. I especially agree with this statement:

“But to think that the entire philosophy of individual rights, small government, national security and gun rights is lost on a new generation of voters based on this one election is not only foolish, it shows a degree of cynicism that may not be accurate.”

Ed Morrissey noticed that up to 7 million GOP voters stayed home or switched to Obama and, like Dr. Helen, Morrissey thinks conservatism is the answer and not the problem:

“If the GOP wants to win 60 million votes in future national elections, it has to stand for something other than being Democrat Lite. The Republican Party needs clarity, purpose, and most importantly, an end to the hypocrisy of talking smaller government while porking up their districts. When given only a choice between real Democrats and fake Democrats, Americans will choose the former, which we found out in 2006.”

These opinions are reinforced by a business conversation I had this morning with a college-educated, Western Pennsylvania professional. She told me she was afraid she would lose her job under an Obama Administration but she nevertheless didn’t vote because she knew there was no real difference between Republicans and Democrats, including Bush, McCain and even Obama. As she said, “The Parties have come together and there isn’t much difference between them.”

I hesitate to draw conclusions from one conversation but I have this nagging feeling she’s not alone. Washington DC politics have become talking points that blend together into endless discussion of the need for bipartisanship. No wonder voters think there is no difference in the Parties and that the main difference is the way candidates look and talk.

For many conservatives, McCain’s maverick strain was not a selling point and his pick of Palin was not enough to reassure them. I understand those concerns. Does anyone doubt that, as President, the first thing McCain would have done is pursue a bipartisan agreement with the Democratic-controlled Congress? While that might be a good political tactic, it reinforces the idea that Washington politicians are interchangeable.

Thus, I wonder if part of Obama’s appeal is that voters believe he is more likely to stand for something, even if they don’t know exactly what it is.

Today’s politicians avoid the label of Washington insiders to distance themselves from Beltway politics but along the way conservatives have forgotten why they need to be different. McCain was a maverick but that’s not the kind of difference conservatives want. We want politicians whose values are different than the Stepford politicians of Washington DC and in tune with Dr. Helen’s “philosophy of individual rights, small government, national security and gun rights.”

If we can find conservative candidates who stand for something, I think many of those 7 million voters will come back.


We Have The Honor Of Living In Interesting Times — A Few Comments On Yesterday’s Results

Filed under: General — WLS @ 12:16 pm

[Posted by WLS Shipwrecked]

First, congratulations to President-Elect Obama and the other winners in the Democratic Party.  But, the easy part is now over. 

I’m struck by a few of the results yesterday, beginning with Indiana. 

Indiana has been a reliably Republican state for many election cycles, with Bush having won it in 2004 by 21% over Kerry.  Yet, it has a state-wide elected Democrat Senator from a famous Indiana family, so it has never been “allergic” to Democrats.

But, while 1.37 million Indiana residents voted for Sen. Obama yesterday, 1.56 million Indiana voters re-elected Mitch Daniels to his second term as Governor — that’s former Bush OMB Director Mitch Daniels.  So, nearly 200,000 voters pulled the lever for both Obama and Daniels — “Change” and “Bush Status Quo” at the same time.

But, Indiana should have been seen by the GOP as the “canary in the coal mine” in 2006.  The reliably GOP state saw three incumbent GOP members of the House — out of 11 total members — lose to conservative democrats.   Richard Lugar is the stalwart Republican presence in the state, but no one would confuse him for the future of the GOP. 

Florida went narrowly for Obama, but a ballot measure banning gay marriage in Florida passed with 62%.  Obama got 4.1 million votes, but the ballot measure got 4.7 million votes.

In California Obama commands at least 6.1 million votes, but opposition to the Constitutional Amendment banning gay “marriage” manages only 4.76 million votes.  At least 1.4 million voters — probably many more because some McCain voters must have voted “no” — who voted for Obama nevertheless voted to ban gay “marriage” under the California Constitution.  That’s a lot of socially conservative voters polling the lever for Obama.

This election reminds me very much of 1992 on a superficial level.  The country was coming through a difficult economic time with the S&L crisis, and the Dems had the new young fresh face who represented generational change, while the GOP was represented by one of its “old hands” who represented a continuation of the policies of the status quo.   In each instance the Dems had the superior politician and ran the superior campaign both tactically and strategically.

The Clintons misread the scope of their mandate in 1993, and paid an enormous price in 1994.  I suspect the Obama administration won’t make that mistake.  But that sets up a very interesting scenario vis-a-vis Congress.

Bill Clinton was a career executive when he came to Washington.  He was used to running the government apparatus of Arkansas, and making the legislature bend to his will.   Yet when he got to Washington he traded some a very liberal Congressional Dem wish-list for their support on his plan to take over the health care system.  He never really recovered from the disaster that resulted from both.

Obama, on the other hand, has never been anything other than a legislator — and at every step he has looked to his party’s leadership on how to vote. 

He has spent less than 4 years in the Senate — actually involving himself in Senate affairs for only the first 2 years — so I’m guessing he has few close personal associations with Dem senators there, and even less with senior members of the House.  Not having come “through” Washington during his rise to the top, and never having been part of the Clinton machine, it’ll be interesting to see how Obama tries to make the gears of his administration mesh with the gears of the old Dem Bulls in Congress — guys and gals who have been there for DECADES waiting for their opportunity to pass legislation what will have a friendly reception when it gets to the Oval Office. 

Never having been in the role of a party leader before, but rather having served consistently as a loyal foot-soldier in the party’s efforts, will Obama buck the Old Bulls in the Congress to avoid the types of mistakes Clinton made in moving too far left too fast?

But, regardless of which way he goes, he’s likely to disappoint a huge bloc of voters who supported him because of what he represented. 

If he moves aggressively in step with the left wing of the party through House members like Pelosi, Frank, Rangel, Dingel, and Waxman, those 200,000 voters in Indiana who voted for both him and Mitch Daniels — as well as millions of other ticket splitters across the 50 states — are going to quickly abandon the “Change” bandwagon.

If he moves more cautiously and keeps the left-wingers in Congress in check out of prudence and pragmatism, he’s going to disappoint the left-wing nuts who watch Keith Olbermann and listen to Randi Rhodes.  You’ll see it when he keeps Robert Gates on as Sec. of Defense for a year, and suddenly finds wisdom in the advice and go-it-slow approach of Gen. Petraeus in Iraq. 

Finally, if Hillary has ANY aspirations to be President, I doubt it would wait until 2016.  Bill Clinton is going to be shuffled off to the side by the Obama Administration so as to not be an annoyance.   The only way to stay in the limelight and have a chance to attract a glow from history, is to get back into the inner circle of power.  Obama’s not going to give it to him.  He’s got to get Hillary into the WH in 2012.  

Kennedy v. Carter all over again?  Teddy always wanted to be President.  So does Bill Clinton — again.

— WLS Shipwrecked

Obama: A Flawed But Good Man Who Has Made Bad Decisions And Will Make More

Filed under: 2008 Election,General — Patterico @ 7:18 am

I have endured some criticism for saying that Barack Obama, with whom I disagree about almost everything, is a good man trying to do what he thinks is right for this country.

Some commenters have disagreed, citing Obama’s support for grisly forms of late-term abortion; his attendence of a church with a pastor who said anti-American things in some of his sermons; his relationship with unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers; his disturbingly close relationship with corrupt individuals such as Tony Rezko; his broken promises; and his many falsehoods about John McCain. They point to his campaign’s inappropriate use of the race card; his disabling of credit card verification checks; his minions’ attempts to silence free speech with threats; and much more.

There is something to all that, and I don’t think we should pretend these things didn’t happen, or give Obama a false halo. The fact is that John McCain did some things that weren’t too savory during this campaign as well, and as the saying goes, politics ain’t beanbag. Good men do bad things, and in the pursuit of ambition, they almost always do. Barack Obama is not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination.

What’s more, I think he will damage this country with bad policies. I’m not going to pretend otherwise. Inevitably, he is going to take actions that I think are disastrous, and somebody will come back and say: “Hey, Patterico! I thought you said Barack Obama was a good man!” Yes, but I never said he wasn’t going to do horrible things. It’s quite clear he will.

What’s more, there is no way in hell he is going to do away with the poisonous atmosphere in Washington, and anyone who thinks that he can is a fool. It will be amusing to watch him try.

But I make no apologies for saying he is a good man. He is my President. He is our President. And while he hasn’t always done good, I do believe he is fundamentally a good man and a patriot who wants to make this country a better place.

And let us not overlook the tremendous symbol we have in a black President. I am not convinced Obama will get us past racial strife, and indeed, I worry that the opposite may happen. I hope I’m wrong. But regardless of that, it is a very good thing that we can say that this country is willing to elect a black President. It shows that anyone can succeed in this country, regardless of race. Anyone.

We have to get past this idea that we have to personally demonize the other guy in order to fight his policies. We’ve said some spirited things about Obama in the heat of battle, and we’ve meant them. But he’s not evil. Let the Democrats be the party who demonizes the other side as evil.

Let us describe Barack Obama as a good but flawed man who is likely to do some very bad things to this country. But let us nevertheless wish him well, if not politically, then at least personally.

I think just the right tone was struck by guest blogger JRM in this open letter to Obama. If you haven’t read it, read it now.

How About The Rest of the Election?

Filed under: 2008 Election,General — Patterico @ 7:06 am

All my picks for judge won.

Congratulations to Hilleri Merritt, Tom Rubinson (who bucked an L.A. Times endorsement for his opponent!), Pat Connolly, Mike O’Gara (aka MOG, a reader of this blog), and Michael Jesic.

I’m very, very pleased about these results. Y’all done good.

I’m also very pleased that Mark Ridley-Thomas defeated Bernard Parks to become an L.A. County Supervisor. Parks showed his lack of principle while at LAPD, in my view, and it would have been a disaster for him to become a Supervisor.

The results of California’s statewide propositions, with 92% of precincts reporting, are more of a mixed bag. Here is what the L.A. Times is showing at the time of this post:

If there is no check-mark or red “x” then the race hasn’t been called yet.

I am very pleased about the passage of Proposition 2, mandating more humane treatment of chickens and other farm animals, and about the overwhelming defeat of the disastrous Proposition 5. I am sad that the gay marriage ban looks like it may pass, and that a perfectly reasonable parental notification law for abortion appears likely to fail.

As for the rest of them, there are some where the voters agreed with me, and others where they disagreed, but I can respectfully disagree with most of the decisions.

Back to the national level, the balance of power appears to be what we all expected: gains in the House and Senate for Democrats. No filibuster-proof majority, but close enough, given the number of squishy RINOs we have.

It’s going to be a very depressing 2-4 years (if not longer).

Senator Al Franken?? Fasten Your Seatbelts Folks…

Filed under: 2008 Election — Justin Levine @ 12:55 am

As of 12:53 AM  PST

98% of Minnesota precincts in…

Secretary of State’s site:

Republican NORM COLEMAN   1,177,879   42.09%

Democrat AL FRANKEN            1,171,077   41.85%

But CNN says:

FRANKEN   1,188,073     42%

COLEMAN  1,185,786     42%

UPDATE as of 5:07AM from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Sen. Norm Coleman is leading Democratic challenger Al Franken in one of the most bitter U.S. Senate races in Minnesota history. 

With 99 percent of the 4,130  precincts reporting, Coleman maintains an unofficial margin of  less than 800  votes out of nearly 2.9 million cast, almost assuring that there will be a recount.  Required in races with a winning margin of less than one half of 1 percent, the recount could delay a final result for days while ballots are retabulated across the state.

– Justin Levine

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