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June 1, 2008

Michigan and Florida, Re-Resolved

On Face the Nation just now, Senator Carl Levin from Michigan just claimed that both Clinton and Obama have indicated to Michigan that once either is officially the nominee, they’ll make sure that Michigan and Florida get full representation at the Democratic Convention.

Bob Schieffer has also called Mandy Grunwald on the Clinton campaign not counting caucus states, and changing the rules midstream, and spoke to Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell about the campaign endgame.

Video will be available on the Face the Nation website later today.
The 300 Project: 3/111


Harold Ickes, Meet the Press

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 9:34 am
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Clinton campaign adviser Harold Ickes appeared this morning on Meet the Press, where Tim Russert finally asked the Clinton campaign how they can justify continually claiming that they’re leading in the popular vote. Ickes’ response repeatedly was “We’re using the AP numbers,” which evidently include the Michigan vote (where Clinton was on the ballot and Obama wasn’t), while not counting the caucus state votes, which Obama won handily.

Other than that, Ickes’ appearance was notable for his utter lack of answers to direct questions, further painting the Clinton campaign as arrogant and smug and willing to change the rules midstream, as long as it benefits their own interests.

The program will be rebroadcast at 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. (ET) on MSNBC. Video and transcripts will be available on the MTP website.
The 300 Project: 2/110

May 31, 2008

Unifying the Party

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 11:04 pm
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We’re fostering a litter of puppies this weekend, and the city of Ellisville had the grand opening of our long-overdue Public Works facility, so I was in and out all day, but watched as much of the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee hearings today on the resolution Florida and Michigan primaries.

For those who haven’t been following, both Michigan and Florida moved their primaries earlier in the season, against the warnings of the RBC, which informed them both that their primaries wouldn’t count, and their delegates wouldn’t be seated if they didn’t proceed on the DNC schedule. They chose not to. At that time (last Fall), all of the candidates agreed to not campaign in either state. All of the Democratic candidates except for Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd took their names off the Michigan ballot. At the time, Clinton was quoted as saying that obviously those primaries wouldn’t count.

Fast forward a few months, and the Clinton campaign, no longer the presumptive nominee, ignored their previous statements and elevated the denial of Michigan and Florida delegates to a First Ammendment issue. Clinton also hyperbolically equated the penalties to voter suppression during the Jim Crow era and more recently in Zimbabwe.

Neither state could work out a re-vote proposal, so it fell to the RBC to decide what was to do, so fast forward again to today, and the public meeting to decide what was to be done with Florigan. Barack Obama, now the party’s presumptive nominee, urged his supporters to not demonstrate outside the meeting. The Clinton campaign bused their supporters in. Those protesters proved to be a disruptive force in the meeting, constantly heckling the speakers and at one point engaging one of the women on the committee, who implored them to act like mature adults. They heckled that too.

Actually, the Flor part was pretty easy, as both candidates’ names appeared on the ballot, so there was some indication as to the voters’ preferences. It can be (and was) argued that at the time of the primary (early January), Hillary Clinton was much better known in Florida than Barack Obama, so his inability to campaign there might have thrown some votes Clinton’s way that she might not have gotten had the voters gotten to know him. It could also be argued (and was) that some voters, told that their votes weren’t going to count, simply stayed home, but this would have applied to both candidates, and all of the others who were still in the race at the time (which, since it was the beginning of the race, was pretty much all of them).

Perhaps the most compelling argument against penalizing Florida was that the primary date was not set by the Florida Democratic committee, but by the state’s legislature, which is Republican-controlled. There was really nothing the Florida Democrats could have done. In the end, a motion was made to seat all of the Florida delegation with no penalties. That motion did not carry, so a new motion was made to seat the entire delegation, but to give them only a half vote each. That motion carried.
That penalty, it should be noted, is exactly what the Republicans did to penalize the Florida delegates to their convention as well.

It should be noted that most of the debate between the members of the committee was held during an extremely long “lunch” break. Individual members were allowed to make statements as to their support or non-support of the motions, but it was pretty much stage-managed to a large degree, at least as to which motions would be made and how.

Then came the -igan portion of the day. Michigan was more problematic, in that they didn’t have the whole Republican legislature to blame, and there was only one name on the ballot that was still in the race. The Clinton camp, of course, felt that she should get full credit for all of the votes cast for her, and that Obama should get all of the votes cast for him, which meant none. This despite anecdotal evidence that many of the “Undecided” voters voted that way because they were not able to vote for Obama, and that many more Obama supporters stayed home, since they couldn’t vote for him.

In fact, once it became clear that a re-vote was not possible, the Michigan Democratic Committee started doing research and came up with a delegate split that they felt accurately represented the wishes of the voters of Michigan, and proposed a 69/59 split of the state’s 128 delegates. Again, an initial motion was made to seat the Michigan delegation in full (with the “uncommitted” delegates free to vote for whoever they want), it was voted down, and a motion was made to seat the delegation as indicated by the state party, with the same half vote per delegate that Florida got, and that motion carried.

The Clinton campaign, in the person of Harold Ickes, a senior Clinton adviser as well as a member of the RBC, strongly objected, spewed some vitriol, claiming the RBC was “hijacking” the democratic process and reserving Senator Clinton’s rights to appeal to the Credentials Committee. All this over 4 delegates, representing 2 votes at the convention, due to the 50% penalty imposed. And all this despite the fact that last Fall, Senator Clinton said that none of the votes would count, and Harold Ickes himself voted for seating no delegates back when it appeared it wouldn’t matter to his candidate.

Significantly, another Clinton aide, whose name I can’t find right now, stood apart from Ickes and supported the Michigan compromise for the good of the party. In fact, most pre-meeting wisdom had Hillary Clinton with 13 supporters on the RBC, to Obama’s 8 and 9 uncommitted.

But when push came to shove, the Michigan compromise passed 19-8 (3 delegates couldn’t vote according to committee rules), meaning at least 5 of Clinton’s supporters presumably put the party before the candidate. According to MSNBC’s First Watch political blog, there were actually enough votes to pass Obama’s preferred 50/50 split of Michigan delegates by a vote or two, but in the interest of party unity, they agreed to the 69/59 split to pass it by a larger majority.

In the end, the Clinton campaign ended up looking like pouting children and sore losers, due in part to the behavior of Harold Ickes and their bused in protesters. Barack Obama, due in part to his fairly commanding lead in the delegate count, was able to be magnanimous and concede some Michigan delegates to Clinton.
The 300 Project: 32/107

Obama’s Holocaust Blunder

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 9:00 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

You’ll note that this post doesn’t carry an ONYD tag on it. I’ll get to that in a minute.

There have been a number of misstatements and missteps in this primary season, by all the candidates. And the severity of those misstatements and missteps vary based on who a given observer supports. Hillary Clinton’s “hardworking white voters” and Barack Obama’s “clinging to God and guns” were both foot-in-mouth moments. There are, however, more serious misstatements being made by the campaigns as well: John McCain cannot confuse Shia and Sunni if he wants to be elected based on his foreign policy acumen. Ditto Hillary Clinton promoting her own foreign policy experience through the repeated recounting of a life-threatening trip across an airstrip which could be demonstrated on video as not being anywhere near as dangerous as she remembered.

Last Monday, during a Memorial Day speech, Barack Obama made a statement which some would put into the former category and others would lump into the latter. While recounting a family story involving his great-uncle’s experiences in World War II, Senator Obama indicated that his uncle helped liberate Auschwitz.

The commentators went wild. “He doesn’t know history!” they said. “He’s lying to cover up for his own military shortcomings!” Evidently Auschwitz was liberated by the Russians. (Being a bad American, I didn’t realize this off the top of my head either.) But, as Hillary Clinton really did get off a plane in Bosnia, Obama’s uncle really did help liberate a concentration camp. Just not that concentration camp. Charles T. Payne was part of the 89th Infantry, which liberated Buchenwald. When the error was pointed out to him, Obama issued an immediate correction.

In my opinion, this should have been a non-story. Those trying to elevate this to the level of a Bosnia airstrip or a Shiite/Sunni issue are missing a really major distinction. Senators Clinton and McCain have, to varying degrees, tried to distinguish themselves from Senator Obama based on their supposed greater foreign relations cred. But when one is basing a portion of that cred on an event which happened much differently than she claimed, and when the other doesn’t know the difference between two warring factions in the most high-profile hotspot in the world, that foreign policy expertise has to be called into question.

Barack Obama is not running for president based on his knowledge of the Holocaust. And while the historical facts are indisputable, and while it’s hoped that our next president will have more intellectual curiosity than the current one, confusing Auschwitz and Buchenwald do not, in my opinion, invalidate the message of what was being said. It’s like if I were to arguing with my wife (which, of course, never happens), and I said “Your statement that you haven’t had beef in six months is wrong, because you had Prime Rib when we ate out on Tuesday” and she based her reply on the fact that we ate out on Wednesday, and had dinner at home on Tuesday.

And to the commentators who said that Obama was trying to use the Holocaust for political advantage: Get real. Using the Holocaust for political advantage would be speaking to a Jewish group and saying “If you don’t vote for me, the Holocaust will happen again.”

So let’s all be thankful that no American politician would be so craven as try to use fear to get elected.
The 300 Project: 29/104

May 4, 2008

Shifting Blame in Indy

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 7:49 pm
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As part of her “I identify with the normal folk” campaign on the stump in Indiana, Hillary Clinton has been very critical of the closing of a Valpraiso, IN plant owned by defense contractor Magnequench. She even goes so far as to blame President Bush for the closing.

Unfortunately, while Bush could have stopped the outsourcing at some point down the line, according to David Sirota, it was a decision made by the Bill Clinton administration which paved the way for this specific plant closing, and the outsourcing was something that was anticipated at the time by Indiana Senator Evan Bayh.

Of course, Bayh isn’t saying anything now; he’s a Hillary Clinton supporter and may have hopes of having a place in a Clinton 44 White House.

The 300 Project: 13/88

Gas Tax Pandering

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 5:50 pm
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A few follow-up comments to my ice cream gas tax story a few days back:

  • The Huffington Post has a rundown of support/opposition for the proposal by both McCain and Clinton. Interesting that the only person they could find who supported the idea was a politician, who frames it as a “why shouldn’t Big Oil pony up?” issue.
  • John McCain says he’ll pay for the lost revenue from not collecting the gas tax for the summer by cutting pork barrel spending projects. But these cuts, if he were successful in making them part of a budget, wouldn’t be in effect until the next budget round, so that’s a number of months of shortfall that isn’t made up for in the McCain proposal. And he also doesn’t say how he’s going to replace the jobs that will be lost in Congressional districts that don’t get to build their projects due to the slashed spending.
  • Hillary Clinton will pay for the lost revenue brought on by the tax holiday by taxing the windfall profits of the oil companies. Civics lesson, people: One junior senator from New York State cannot pass a tax all by herself, even with the help of the senior senator from Arizona, especially when there is no evidence that a majority of Congress supports the plan.
  • Even making the enormous leap of faith that the lost tax revenue will somehow be made up in such a way as to not jeopardize bridge and highway repairs, there’s another problem with the whole plan: There’s nothing to force the oil companies to pass the savings on to the consumer. Nothing. Nada. Just because they’re not paying the government that 18 cents per gallon, doesn’t mean they’ll drop prices by a corresponding amount. And when the tax goes back into effect, does anyone really think the companies will be good corporate citizens and not raise their prices a corresponding amount? (“Oh, trust us. The price would have been this high all summer except for that tax rebate.”)
  • And, if the cosmic forces align just right and the tax holiday passes through Congress and the lost revenue is recouped somehow and the oil companies do pass on the savings to the consumer and don’t pass the subsequent increase back, some of the experts say that the lower prices will cause consumers to buy more gas instead of less, which will make the prices go up more.
  • North Carolina Governor Mike Easley, a Clinton supporter who’s been stumping for her in his state, spoke out against the idea when McCain proposed it, but supports it now that Clinton has endorsed it. In other words, he was against it before he was for it. (Audio of his statements is linked from this blog, and the third commenter makes many of the points I’ve made here, with some more detail.

So, basically, anyone who’s telling you that a gas tax rebate will save you money this summer is counting on the fact that you don’t know anything about basic budgets, the way laws are passed, and the way business accounting and supply and demand work.

In other words, they not only think they’re smarter than you, but they think you’re dumb as a gas pump.

Maybe later we’ll talk about which candidates are truly elitist.

The 300 Project: 6/81

Pastor Problems

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 5:01 pm
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Hopefully, Barack Obama’s problems with Reverend Jeremiah Wright are behind him, but here are a few thoughts about Wright and John McCain’s equivalent (if much less covered) controversial pastor, John Hagee.

Bill Moyers, the newsman who interviewed Wright last weekend, prior to his “meltdown” appearances early in the week, makes an observation regarding the lack of outrage involving John McCain’s pastor in his online journal:

Behold the double standard: John McCain sought out the endorsement of John Hagee, the war-mongering Catholic-bashing Texas preacher who said the people of New Orleans got what they deserved for their sins. But no one suggests McCain shares Hagee’s delusions, or thinks AIDS is God’s punishment for homosexuality. Pat Robertson called for the assassination of a foreign head of state and asked God to remove Supreme Court justices, yet he remains a force in the Republican religious right. After 9/11 Jerry Falwell said the attack was God’s judgment on America for having been driven out of our schools and the public square, but when McCain goes after the endorsement of the preacher he once condemned as an agent of intolerance, the press gives him a pass.

John Hagee, whose endorsement McCain sought out and trumpeted, has been condemned by the Catholic League. A write-up on this issue is available on, posted back at the end of February. There is YouTube video of Hagee in that article, as well as here.

It’s also interesting that the Clinton camp largely let other people do the complaining about Wright, when they’ve relentlessly hammered Obama on the least perceived shortcoming. The reason? Wright was a guest at the Clinton White House. Granted, he was there with a number of other clerics, but a picture exists of Rev. Wright and President Clinton, and even if he was one of a large number of people invited, the invitation list wasn’t generated at random, so it might be difficult for them to portray Wright as a marginalized radical, who Obama should have known better than to associate with, when they were associating with him as well.

The 300 Project: 5/80

May 2, 2008

ONYD Moment

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 12:50 pm
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Joseph Andrew has played many roles in his political history. He started as a campaign volunteer and worked himself up to the head of the Democratic National Committee under Bill Clinton. He was an early supporter of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign, and is an Indiana super delegate. Yesterday, he switched his endorsement over to Barack Obama, and explains why in an excellant essay. But that’s not the ONYD moment.

No, that comes courtesy of the Clinton campaign. In an interview with Andrea Mitchell, Howard Wolfson, a Clinton senior adviser (I’m not sure what exactly his title is any more; they keep switching them around) chose to attack the Andrew defection by questioning whether Andrew was actually from Indiana!

So just to be clear, an adviser for a candidate who is now “from” New York, after having been “from” Arkansas, “from” Illinois, and “from” any number of other places, is questioning whether a man who was born in Indiana, raised in Indiana, was the Indiana State Democratic Party Chairmen, has parents still living in Indiana, owns a home in Indiana, but also has a home and a job in Washington, D.C. is “from” Indiana? I guess when she represents the people of her “home” state of New York at her job in Washington, D.C., Senator Clinton stays in a La Quinta, just so she can still say she’s “from” New York?


OYHD. Video and a partial transcript available here.

The 300 Project: 1/76

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