Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wright, Other Controversies Hurting Obama

This is from a recent poll taken by the AP and Washington Post:

Q: We're interested in how some different things might have influenced your opinion of Barack Obama. Has [item] made your opinion of Obama more favorable, less favorable, or has it not made much difference?

% saying each item has made their
opinion of Barack Obama "less favorable"
All Dem Ind Rep
Remarks on "bitter" small-towners 42 31 41 57
Seen/heard about Jeremiah Wright 41 31 40 57
Answers about flag pin 29 23 27 39
Seen/heard about Michelle Obama 19 14 19 28
How he has conducted his campaign 17 14 11 27
Foreign-sounding name 16 13 14 22
Speech about race in America 14 9 15 23
Time spent in Indonesia 13 10 11 21
Harvard-law education 6 5 4 8

All of this adds up to a substantial increase in his "negatives" over the last several weeks. Obviously independent voters are going to be a very important group of voters in this year's election. The common myth of independent voters is that they are somehow more interested in issues than party identification. That is wrong. They are independents because they don't care as much about politics as partisan voters. They don't follow the news about politics as much as more partisan voters. They are less knowledgeable than partisan voters. Consequently, they are more easily influenced by news coverage over stories like Rev. Wright and flag pins and have less "positive" information to balance out "negative" information.

Every presidential campaign that Republicans have won since 1968 has been won on issues of social populism. They make voters believe that the Democratic candidate is not one of them and that they are one of them. Successful Democratic candidates, Carter in 1976, and Clinton in 1992 and 1996, have been able to raise above this tactic.

Since Republicans really got nothing else to talk about in this campaign, and since our two front runners are different by either gender or race, the 2008 presidential campaign was always going to see another Republican effort to "swift-boat" the Democratic nominee. The problem that Obama has is that his remarks about "bitter" small town voters and Rev. Wright's remarks about America and race make their task much easier.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bill Clinton's Role in Hillary Clinton's Campaign

The Wall Street Journal has a story out reporting that Bill Clinton has taken on a more prominent role in his wife's presidential campaign. This is a quote from the article:

Mr. Clinton's appearances are designed to boost Sen. Clinton's appeal with working-class and so-called "Bubba" voters, older white men who are likely to sympathize with Democratic economic policies but supported Ronald Reagan and other Republicans. Mr. Clinton is also sending out fund-raising appeals, with strong results, two operatives say.

His role has come at a cost -- to morale among some campaign staff, relations inside the Democratic Party and with African-American leaders, and in the view of some, his own legacy. He has lost considerable credibility with many party leaders, who, as "superdelegates" to the party convention, will be crucial in determining who is the Democratic presidential nominee.

This is a very important development because Bill Clinton understands the concerns of the Southern white working class since he himself came from that class. This understanding probably extends to the concerns of white working class voters in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and West Virginia. The first two were states Hillary Clinton won; she is leading, although narrowly in polls taken in Indiana, and she is expected to win the West Virginia presidential primary.

Of course, as the above quote from the article makes clear, this is coming at a cost. Indeed, it could lead to the super-delegates looking for an alternative to both of them. That would be a natural development from the Clinton argument that the super-delegates should be first concerned with finding the best candidate for the Democratic Party, regardless of who has won the most popular votes or the most primaries and caucuses.

To read the entire article, click here.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Voinovich Stiffs Working Women

The Senate voted on Thursday on a cloture motion to get off debate on the H.R. 2831 otherwise known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007. Lilly Ledbetter is a woman who worked for Goodyear in Alabama for over 20 years. When she received an unsigned note, she found out that she was being paid substantially less for the same work as three men. She filed a Federal lawsuit based on the 1964 Civil Rights Act for wage discrimination. She won a verdict of over three million dollars.

Her verdict, however, was taken away from her by the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court found that Federal required Ms. Ledbetter to bring her action within 180 days of the first time she was discriminated against, which was when she was first paid less money than the male employees. The fact that she didn't know of such discrimination didn't matter to the majority of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would have changed the language in the Federal law that the majority of the U.S. Supreme Court relied on in reaching its decision. The bill had passed the House and was being debated in the Senate. The vote on the cloture motion was extremely important since it would have been harder to have opposed the bill itself than the cloture motion.

The cloture motion needed 60 votes to pass. It received 56. Forty-two Senators opposed the cloture motion. One of those was Ohio's own George Voinovich. George Voinovich stiffed working women with his vote.

Why Not Al Gore?

If, as the Clinton campaign seems to argue, that it doesn't matter who has won the most primaries and caucuses, or has the most delegates, or the most popular votes, then why shouldn't the superdelegates vote for someone who hasn't even announced, say someone like Al Gore?

Al Gore has been on three tickets that won the popular vote in an election. He has the more experience than either Clinton or Obama. He was against the Iraq War from the start. He was way ahead of the curve on the crisis of global warming. He has won the Nobel Prize. In short, he is a much candidate than Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

The whole strategy behind Clinton's increasingly negative campaign against Obama is based on the concept that Democratic delegates have no alternative to Obama than herself. That is true, if the Democratic delegates confine themselves just to those two candidates. There is no legal reason, however, why they have to do so.

If there was an alternative to Obama other than Clinton, and if that alternative emerged relatively soon, the tone of the battle for the Democratic nomination would change dramatically. Clinton couldn't engate in a plan to tear down Obama because tearing him down wouldn't necessarily mean than she would get the nomination. Tearing down a candidate in a three-way race can result in votes going to the candidate who is not being either attacked or attacking.

Gore has not endorsed either candidate and has not been involved in the battle for the nomination. He could accept the nomination without being seen as betraying either Obama or Clinton. Supporters of either Obama or Clinton might find it easier to support him than the other of those two.

Further, the nomination of Gore wouldn't run the same risk of alientating the voters that Obama has brought into the process as the nomination of Hillary Clinton. Indeed, a Gore-Obama ticket might generate as much excitement as a ticket of Obama and some more conventional politician.

There are some drawbacks to nominating Gore. The media doesn't seem particulary friendly to him. Dedicated supporters of both Clinton and Obama would be very unhappy. He would have to put together both a campaign organization and a fundrasing organization on a very quick basis. These obstackes are not, however, insurmountable.

So, the question remains, why not Al Gore?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dems' Nightmare: Neither Can Beat McCain

Examining the results of the Democratic primary can be a little disheartening. Disheartening not because Clinton won, but because of the results from the exit poll of Democratic voters conducted by CNN.

The exit poll showed that white voters preferred Clinton by a margin of 63% to 37%. African-American voters voted for Obama by a margin of 90% to 10%. Thus, after over two months of primaries and caucuses, the Democratic primary vote is more racially polarized than it was at the beginning of this process.

Further, when PA Dems were asked if race of candidate was important to you, 19% answered "yes". Of those 19%, Clinton got 59% of those voters' vote and Obama got 41% of those voters' vote. Among white voters who answered that question, 76% of their votes and Obama got 24% of their votes. Keep in mind that these are Democratic voters, not voters in general. Presumably, the numbers wouldn't change that much for white independent voters and would be much worse for white Republican voters.

So, our conclusion is that a significant number of Democratic white voters are concerned about Obama's race. When you add to that the likely Republican efforts to tar with the Rev. Wright brush, the alleged connection to the former Weatherman Bill Ayers, and the 15% of voters who think he is a Muslim, then it is obvious that we have trouble in River City and it ain't spelled p-o-o-l.

Now, with Clinton, her problem is that a lot of people simply don't like her. When asked if she was "honest and trustworthy" 40% answered "no" compared to only 32% who answered "no" for Obama. When asked which candidate attacked unfairly, 24% answered "only Clinton" as compared to only 6% who answered "only Obama."

So here we are after about 31 primaries and 13 caucuses: Barack Obama can't win because he is an African-Amerian, and Hillary can't win because she is, well, she's Hillary. This situation sucks.

A Closer Look at the Numbers

Editor's Note: Yesterday we published an entry on some numbers from a website that uses a map and poll results to show how each Democratic candidate would do against McCain. A Medina County Democrat who pays close attention to such things sent us the following response to that post. We think you will find it very interesting.

A Closer Look at the NumbersThe headline numbers posted on this linked site do indeed show that Clinton wins more electoral votes than Obama in a race against McCain, but a close look at the state-by-state polls aggregated on this site may well support the conclusion that Obama is actually a stronger candidate than Clinton against McCain. While it is true that the top- line numbers show Clinton beating McCain by 289 to 239 electoral votes (with the other 10 electoral votes, which belong to Wisconsin, being tied) and while Obama only beats McCain by 269 to 254, with NC’s 15 votes being tied, the underlying numbers on the site tell a different story about the relative strength of our two candidates in a match-up with McCain.

This can be seen by looking at the margins of support that Clinton, Obama, and McCain garner in each state in their races against each other. It is in this area that Obama fares better than Clinton. Clinton arrives at her 289 electoral votes by combining the votes of 74 strong Dem, 98 weak Dem, and 117 “barely Dem” states. Obama arrives at his 269 electoral votes by combining the votes of 67 strong Dem, 144 weak Dem, and 58 barely Dem states. (The site calls a margin of 10% or more “strong”, a margin of 5 to 9% “weak”, and uses “barely” to describe a margin of less than 5%)

It is also worth looking at McCain’s margin of victory against each of them in each state. In his match-up against Clinton, McCain has strong Republican support: 137 strong GOP electoral votes, 89 weak GOP electoral votes, and 13 barely GOP electoral votes. In his match-up against Obama, this calculus changes, as now McCain’s Republican support appears to be much weaker: these polls show that he has 134 strong, 44 weak, and 76 barely GOP electoral votes.

In sum, Obama, while only being ahead of McCain 269 to 254 on the headline number, appears to be in a position to put many more states into play against McCain than does Clinton, since McCain’s margin over Obama is less than 5% in states with 76 electoral votes. Indeed, in Texas (34 electoral votes) and New Mexico (5 electoral votes) his margin over Obama is only 1%. At the same time, Clinton’s margin over McCain is only 1% in the following “barely Dem” states: Florida (27 EV’s), Missouri (11 EV’s), Oregon (7 EV’s), and Nevada (5 EV’s). Obama, on the other hand, has no “barely Dem” state where he has only a one-point margin, though he does have several where the margin is only 2 points: Michigan (17 EV’s), New Jersey (15 EV’s), and Massachusetts (12 EV’s).

Other people looking at these polls may reach a different conclusion than I did, and I’d be interested in reading their own analysis of the polls. In any case, while I think the polls show that both Clinton and Obama are strong candidates and that the Democratic Party can proudly support the one of them who emerges with the nomination, these current state-by-state polls show Obama to be a potentially stronger candidate against McCain.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lessons from Summit County GOP Chair Fight for Medina County Dems

Alex Arshinkoff, chair of the Summit County GOP, has been one of the most successful county chairs in Ohio. He is also one of the longest lasting chairs, having been chair for nearly 30 years. What's interesting about Arshinkoff's success is that his reputation wasn't built on how well his party did in national or state races in Summit County. It was built on how well he did in local races and how well he did at raising money. In 1996, for example, the Summit County GOP won 16 out of 33 local campaigns. Not bad considering that Democrats have a registration advantage among Summit County voters. Yet, this year, notwithstanding his past success, he is under attack from some former allies.

Why? Well, according to this quote from the Akron Beacon Journal story on Saturday, April 19, 2008, it is because he has neglected local races. Here is the quote: "Klinger and the New Summit County Republicans are critical of how the party's money has been spent under Arshinkoff's watch and of his recent win-loss record. They want to see the party shift gears — going back to a focus on grass-roots politics and local races."

The Summit County GOP fight shows two things about local political parties. One is that even the most successful county chairs can face opposition if they neglect local races. The other thing, which is closely related, is that winning local elections is important for county political parties because that keeps their members involved.

The lessons for the Medina County Democratic Party are obvious. Success in state-wide elections isn't enough. Local political activists want to see results in local elections.

Over the last several years the Medina County Democratic Party has seemingly followed the strategy of focusing on the top of the ticket in the hopes that victories at the top of the ticket would generate Democratic victories down ticket. On the one hand this approach makes sense. People more often identify with political parties because of national or state issues, not local issues. On the other hand, though, this approach is not guaranteed to lead to winning campaigns for local races.

This was seen in 2006 when every Democrat but one who running for a state-wide office in a partisan race won, and yet local Medina County Democrats did not pick up a single seat. Indeed, the local Medina County Democratic Party lost ground since the Clerk of the Medina Municipal Court went from being an appointed Democrat to an elected Republican.

There is a saying in business that if you want to solve a problem, you have to put resources on that problem. Resources means people, time, and money. All of these resources are limited. This year the Medina County Democratic Party should take the lead in local races and let the national and state parties take the lead in the presidential race.

Election 2008 Website Shows Clinton Stronger Against McCain

A Medina County Dem found this website and sent us the link. It is called "Election 2008" and apparently gives updated poll results on races for President and the U.S. Senate. It presents the information in a map format and can be easily understood. The website apparently changes on a regular basis. The analysis below is based on poll projections as of April 21, 2008.

If you look at the breakdown for presidential match-ups between Obama and McCain versus Clinton and McCain, you see that Clinton matches up better against McCain than Obama. In the Clinton-McCain matchup, polls show Clinton leading in states with 289 electoral votes. In the Obama-McCain matchup, Obama has 269 electoral votes, one less than needed to win the presidency.

The difference is that Clinton picks up Florida, Missouri, Ohio, Nevada, and West Virginia as compared to the 2003 results and only loses Minnesota and New Hampshire. Obama picks up Colorado, Iowa, and Nevada as compared to 2004 and also loses New Hampshire. The states that Clinton picks up have 68 electoral votes and the states she loses have 14, for a net gain of 54.

With Obama, however, the pick up states have 21 electoral votes and since New Hampshire has only 4 electoral votes, Obama has a net gain of 17 electoral votes. Again these figures are as compared to the 2004 race between Kerry and Bush.

By the way, the Senate map for April 21, 2008, shows the Democrats picking up three Senate seats and the Republicans picking up none. This could be a very good year for Democrats in the Senate, regardless of who gets the Democratic nomination for president.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sutton Backing Clinton Makes Sense

Representative Betty Sutton, (OH-13), announced that she will be supporting Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention. Sutton, like all the other Democratic U.S. Representatives, is a super-delegate. Although she is not bound by the results of the Ohio primary, Sutton announced that she is supporting Clinton because her district voted for Clinton in the March primary.

Sutton will get some criticism from Obama supporters because of her decision. For what it's worth, we believe that she should vote the way her district voted. Although we understand the argument that super-delegates have the right to vote for what they think is in the best interests of the Democratic Party, we believe that super-delegates should vote the way their state or congressional district voted, especially if they are Senators or Representatives.

Of course, other well-intentioned super-delegates may take another approach. They may decide that even though one candidate or the other won their state or district, that the winning candidate locally is not the best candidate nationally. As super-delegates, they have the right to make such a decision, and, if they do, they will not be criticized by this blog. We just think that they Sutton approach is the best.

By the way, just to be clear, our support of Sutton's decision does not necessarily reflect our support of Clinton in the battle for the Democratic nomination. Our point is that super-delegates should reflect the vote of their state or district.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obama, Clinton Both Beating McCain in "Swing" States

The Gallup organization has a poll out showing that both Obama and Clinton beat McCain in the 12 swing states that either Bush or Kerry carried by 5% or less in 2004. Ohio would be in this group.

This is from the article posted on the Gallup website:

PRINCETON, NJ -- Democratic front-runner Barack Obama has a four-point advantage over presumptive Republican nominee John McCain among registered voters residing in states that were competitive in the 2004 election. Obama has a comfortable lead in states John Kerry won comfortably in 2004, as does McCain in states George W. Bush won easily....

Hillary Clinton also leads McCain by the same 47% to 43% margin among purple-state voters. But she does not fare quite as well as Obama does in blue states, and she trails McCain by a slightly larger margin than Obama does in red states.

Besides Ohio, the article lists the other states that are what they call "purple" states. Here is Gallup's list:

Based on this definition, the purple states include New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon.

In 2004 John Kerry carried Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota,Oregon and New Hampshire. George W. Bush carried Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico. This means that they split the 12 states equally, but the six states that Bush carried out of the 12 had more electoral votes. Consequently Bush carried the electoral collge by a 286 to 251 margin. A candidate has to get at least 270 votes to win the electoral college, which has a total of 537 votes. (The reason why 270 is the magic number is that there is not a way to get just 268 electoral college votes, which would be a majority of the 537 available votes.)

Thus, the trick for either Democrat is to hold the states that Kerry carried and pick up another 19 electoral votes. Either Ohio or Florida would give the Democratic nominee enough electoral votes. Ohio has 20 and Florida has 27. The Democratic nominee could also reach 270 by carrying Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada, which would give him or her exactly 270. Add Iowa to the mix and you would have another 7, which would give you a total of 26. If you took those four additional states, you would have won more electoral votes than you would have winning Ohio and only one less than than you would have by winning Florida. Under any scenerio, though, Ohio will be an important state in this year's presidential election.

UPDATE: Please note that there are 538 electoral votes and not 537. Please read comments for correct math.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Issue Maureen Dowd Won't Talk About: Race

Maureen Dowd has decided that while she is a product of the white working class, Barack Obama, a man who grew up as a mixed race child in America is part of the Ivy League elite. This is from her column in the New York Times that appeared today, April 16, 2008:

I’m not bitter.

I’m not writing this just because I grew up in a house with a gun, a strong Catholic faith, an immigrant father, brothers with anti-illegal immigrant sentiments and a passion for bowling. (My bowling trophy was one of my most cherished possessions.)

My family morphed from Kennedy Democrats into Reagan Republicans not because they were angry, but because they felt more comfortable with conservative values. Members of my clan sometimes were overly cloistered. But they weren’t bitter; they were bonding.

They went to church every Sunday because it was part of their identity, not because they needed a security blanket.

So what are those conservative values that prompted your family to switch from Kennedy Democrats to Reagan Republicans, Maureen? Could one of them possibly have anything to do with race? Could the transition from being a Kennedy Democrat to a Reagan Republican have anything to do with the fact that your family didn't like the fact that the Democratic Party helped pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

Or how about the fact that John F. Kennedy was, like yourself, an Irish-American Roman Catholic. Could your family's support for such a candidate have been the good old fashioned conservative value of tribalism?

Whites get tired of hearing from African-Americans about race. I bet, though, that they don't get as tired of hearing about race as African-Americans do about living with the results of white racism. One reason why Reagan and his fellow Republicans got elected was because they knew how to appeal to white racism without using overt racist langauge.

They talked about crime, which a lot of whites believe is an inner-city problem, even though a majority of felonies are committed by whites. They talked about welfare and made up stories about so-called "welfare queens", even though many more white families are below the poverty line than African-American families.

These appeals were based on tribalism, on the fact that people tend to identify with others who are like them. They also tend to be suspicious of those that are not like them. People who look different from them because of their race.

Partly as a result of these successful appeals to tribalism, Republicans have managed to win most of the presidential elections since the enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. During the 44 years since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Republicans have won seven presidential elections and Democrats have won four presidential elections. During the 44 years previous to 1964, Democrats won seven presidential elections while Republicans won four. Gee, Maureen, do you think that maybe the passage of that Act started the trend of Republicans winning presidential elections?

Of course commentators like Dowd don't want to closelyexamine why their family members went from being "Kennedy Democrats" to "Reagan Republicans". That examination might strike too close to home. Far, far easier to blame it on Democratic candidates since the sainted JFK being "elitists."

Tell Us What You Think: The Super-Delegate Debate

As readers of this blog may know, the Medina County Democratic Action Committee puts out a weekly newsletter that goes primarly to Democrats in Medina County and northern Ohio. One of the subjects that has come up in our newsletter is the role of super-delegates to the Democratic convention.

It started when a local Medina County Democrat posed the following question in our newsletter to the Medina County Democratic Chair:

"What is behind the Super Delegate election system. What is wrong with letting the popular vote be the deciding factor in ALL cases?? The voting public is not so stupid that they cannot decide for themselves the best candidate. Thanks, Jan Leatherman"

This was the response from Pam Miller, Medina County Democratic Chair:

"The National Democratic Party set it up that way on purpose, in order to give elected officials a stronger voice based on the idea that they would be more likely to have actually come in contact with and therefore know the abilities and the electability of the potential nominees.

Before 1972, all the decisions were made in the smoke-filled back rooms. Then the Party changed the system to allow the voters more say in selecting the delegates, thus opening the door to a more inclusive makeup of the delegate pool. After Jimmy Carter became the nominee, the Party moved to bring in the Super Delegates for future elections in order to balance the nomination process.

This year, many people are saying that the entire caucus system is flawed and the fact that the delegates are allocated differently in some states is another flaw. In all likelihood, Super Delegates will look at how their constituents voted and support that, but in the end, each has the right to vote as his or her conscience dictates."

Ms. Miller's response led to this letter to our newsletter's editor:

"Message From Medina County Dem Chair Pam Miller explaining SUPER DELEGATES to Jan Leatherman.

"The National Democratic Party set it up that way on purpose, in order to give elected officials a stronger voice based on the idea that they would be more likely to have actually come in contact with and therefore know abilities and electability of potential nominees."

That mean multimedia campaigns directed at ignorant We The People are a bunch of half-truths and innuendos known as lying all the way to the top.

"Before 1972, all decisions were made in the smoke-filled back rooms. Then the Party changed the system to allow voters more say in selecting delegates, thus opening the door to a more inclusive makeup of the delegate pool. After Jimmy Carter became the nominee, the Party moved to bring in Super Delegates for future elections in order to balance the nomination process. In all likelihood, Super Delegates will look at how their constituents voted and support that, but in the end, each has the right to vote as his or her conscience dictates."

That means Super Delegates still enjoy back room politics to sell their vote while including "I, the all knowing, represent my best interest and that includes Me Next" or, "My support is for sale to the highest or best bidder."

Thank you Pam Miller for enlightening We The People that each Super Delegate has the right to vote as his or her conscience dictates, just to protect all us Ignorant Voters.

Robert F. McCafferty"

Mr. McCafferty's letter in turn generated this response from another reader:

"To the Editor:

I read with great interest Mr. McCafferty's take on Pam Miller's explanation of Superdelegates, and I respect his view, but I have a slightly different take. I am not the consummate political junkie, but I try to keep up with candidates and politics as best I can. But, there is no way that I can have the day-to-day contact and get to know the candidates as well as the Superdelegates.

I too can get taken in by the smooth talkers, the sharp dressers, the guys and gals with the $400 haircuts. I do not always know how they treat their co-workers and fellow men, or know their work ethic, their ability to work with others, especially behind the scenes, and I don't mean the latter in a negative way. So, I have no qualms about Superdelegates having a say in the presidential primaries.

However, I don't want to go back the days of "favorite sons," ("Mr. Chairman, Ohio passes.") And, I can remember in the 1972 election that we may not have put forth the best (read electable) candidate available, due to radical changes in the nomination process for that election cycle, and, based on what Pam says, they were not adequately changed until even after the 1976 cycle.

This is not to say the McC. is wrong, this is just my personal take on the situation. At least in this election, I can and will support the eventual winner, and I believe we have two very good candidates. I might add, however, that neither were my first choice several months ago, but I sure can support either after August.

Bryan Adams"

So there you have two views of the role of super-delegates at the Democratic convention. One view is that they are legitimate because they have more contact with the candidates than most Democratic voters and therefore may be more aware of their strengths and flaws. The other is that such delegates are inherently un-democratic and therefore their existence is not legitimate.

Tell us what you think by leaving us your comments.

News Coverage of Bush's Torture and Obama's Bitterness

If you go to the Google "News" page and type in the search words "Bush Torture", you will get about 4032 search results. If you type in the words "Obama bitter" you will get about 7796 search results. This gives you a rough idea of how much play Obama's ill-chosen remarks in San Fransico are getting compared to the fact that the President' of the United States may have personally authorized interrogation methods that are considered by the U.S. military to be torture.

Now, of course, there are a lot of reasons for that. One of them is that both the Clinton campaign and the McCain campaign are pushing Obama's remarks. If, for example, you add the word "Clinton" to the search terms "Obama bitter", the search results number 7118, whereas if you add "Clinton" to "Bush torture", you get 548 results. Adding the word "McCain" to the words "Obama bitter" and you get 5536 results. Add the same word to "Bush torture" and you get 544 results. This is a rough way of showing that both McCain and Clinton are going after Obama on his remarks. As any school kid will tell you, being in a fight where two are ganged up on one is no fun and, usually, the one loses the fight.

Apparently Clinton has decided that the way to get the nomination is to run the same kind of campaign against Obama that McCain will run against him in the fall: Push the theme that Obama is not really like "us", whoever "us" happens to be. This is the same theme that was used by Republicans against George McGovern in 1972; Walter Mondale in 1984; Micheal Dukakis in 1988; Al Gore in 2000; and John Kerry in 2004. It obviously works for Republicans. Whether it works for a Democrat to use against another Democrat is open to debate, but we will see.

Of course, one reason why it works is that the media never calls a candidate on its use. The media didn't point out in 2000 and 2004 that good ole' George W. Bush was the product of an upper-class upbringing whose father and friends bailed him out of every problem he ever encountered and who made millions off of Texas baseball by being a president's son.

Clinton might also get away with it. Run the words "Clinton millionaire" and you get about 119 search results. So, apparently, the media isn't going out and reminding voters that Clinton is a very wealthy person.

All of this is not to say that I think that Obama's remarks are not subjects of legitimate political debate. Since Republicans are certainly going to use them in the fall, we might as well see how it plays in the spring. I also happen to think that Bill Clinton's support of NAFTA and his activities with Monica Lewinksy are also legitimate subjects of political debate, and for the same reason. Republicans are going to use them in the fall and we might as well see how they also play in the spring.

The solution for Obama isn't to play defense, it is to play offense. What Obama should do is run a 30 second spot in both Pennslyvania and Indiana that says something like "I don't need to be lectured on elitism by a woman whose husband shipped millions of good jobs to Mexico by supporting NAFTA and who has made millions out of being married to that same man." My guess is that about a week of those ads would go a long way to stopping Clinton's use of his San Fransico remarks.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Why Local Non-Partisan Elections Are Important in Medina County

Medina County Democrats need to make a concerted effort next year, 2009, to find good candidates to run for local offices such as township trustee, village council, school board, city council, and mayor. Most of these races in Medina County are non-partisan. In fact, only Wadsworth has partisan local elections. Yet these offices are important because they can be a source of candidates for county and state offices.

Right now there are five Republican office-holders who started their political careers in local government. They are all three county commissioners, the county treasurer, and the county recorder. Of those five positions, four were elected in non-partisan races.

This is how Medina County Democrats need to recruit local candidates:

1. Contact Medina County local Democrats and make them aware of what offices are up for election and which ones are currently held by Democrats and which ones are not;

2. Ask them to run for local office;

3. Help them set up their campaigns; and

4. Give them advice and counsel while they are campaigning.

It is past time for Medina County Democrats to make a concerted effort to win elections at the local level. Since Republicans don't regard these races as "non-partisan", there is no reason why Democrats should.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

No One is Entitled to the Presidency

One of the real problems that the Hillary Clinton campaign has had during the battle for the Democratic nomination is the sense that her campaign advisors, and her husband, believe that she is somehow entitled to the Democratic nomination. This attitude is what, according to an article in the L.A. Times, drove New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to endorse Barack Obama.

The reason why no one is entitled to the presidency, or the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, is that presidential elections are about the future, not the past. They are about what is going to happen in the next four years more than they are about what happened in the past four years, or in the case of the Clintons, 16 years ago. Yet, when you read news reports about her campaign, and when you read about the reaction of her husband to former supporters of his backing Barack Obama, you get a sense that the Clintons believe that she is entitled to the Democratic nomination.

This sense of entitlement is not working for them. A lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton electoral pattern. It gives the impression that the presidency is somehow an inherited position. This is a concept that is foreign to Americans. When you convey a sense of entitlement, you are increasing the feeling of discontent that a lot of people have with the idea of another Clinton presidency. Add to that the fact that a lot of Democrats are unhappy with her support of the Iraq War resolution and what many see as racially tinged attacks on Obama and you can understand why she is behind in the polls.

One of the strengths of the Clintons is that they don't really care what others think about them. Most character traits that work for you in some situations work against you in others. This one is no exception.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Why Obama Should Reject Public Financing

One of the debates shaping up between the McCain camp and the Obama campaign is whether the two candidates should take public financing. Obama signed a statement last year in which he stated that if the Republican candidate took public financing, so would he. McCain, who is at a tremendous fundraising disadvantage compared to Obama, has already said he would take such financing. Obama, however, who has shown a potential to raise literally hundreds of millions of dollars, is balking.

McCain intends to use Obama's reluctance to now take public financing if both of them are the nominees as a campaign issue. The media will help him. The reason why the media will help him is that the less candidates have to spend on their campaigns, the more important the media becomes. This is because if they had less money for paid media to get out their message, the more Obama and McCain would have to rely on free media. Free media, in the form of newspaper articles and electronic broadcasts, are controlled by the large corporations that dominate our nation's media. So it is not just their civic duty that leads news corporations such as the Washington Post to demand that Obama take public financing.

Obama is trying out a new argument to justify not taking public financing. He is pointing out that the Internet has created a whole new system of "public" financing because relatively small donors can help candidates raise millions of dollars online. This is a good argument, but there is a better one.

Obama should simply say that he is not going to allow the Republicans to "swift-boat" him like they did John Kerry. If they try, he is going to have the resources and the will to fight back. Then, he ought to point out how Fox News used the whole controversy over Rev. Wright's comments in a sermon given a relatively long time ago to attack his patriotism. He could also point out that given the reluctance of the American news media to denounce lies spread by other media organizations, he has to have enough money to beat back such attacks. When asked what has changed since he signed the agreement last year, he can point to Fox's coverage of the whole Rev. Wright situation.

Now, that also won't convince the news media, but we think it sounds better to the average voter and also makes the media aware of its own complicity in such attacks. One thing that he cannot do is give in to the pressure to accept public financing. Democrats are going to need every advantage they can get to beat John McCain, especially given his support among the news media.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Never Their Children-A Short Video Essay About Iraq

Here is a short video essay called "Never Their Children" about who fights, and more importantly, who doesn't, in Iraq.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Rep. Betty Sutton Statement on Columbian Free Trade Agreement

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Betty Sutton issued the following statement on the decision by the Bush Administration to force action on the “so-called” U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA):

“I strongly oppose the U.S.-Colombia FTA and will fight this harmful deal. Not only is it a continuation of bad trade policy, but it ignores the gruesome human rights and labor rights violations which have plagued Colombia .

Today, Colombia remains the most dangerous country in the world for union and labor organizers, who are simply fighting to improve the lives of working families and communities in the country. Since President Uribe came to office in 2000, over 400 trade unionists have been killed. In 2007 alone, 72 union members were assassinated.

It makes no sense to push an FTA with a country that seems to ignore the continued blatant violations of basic human rights. How can a trade agreement be beneficial when the workers in one of the countries involved lack basic labor rights and are punished and often killed for their involvement in union activities? We should not even be considering a trade agreement with Colombia until this horrific violence ends and those responsible for the murder of thousands are brought to justice.

Aside from the unspeakable violence that rages on in Colombia , the fact remains that this deal is just another reincarnation of the same broken trade policies. The communities in Ohio that I represent are full of hardworking people with the sole expectation that their government will work with them, not against them. Our trade policies have a direct impact on American workers, and unfortunately, they have not treated American workers, businesses and communities kindly or fairly.

The U.S.-Colombia FTA lacks strong or enforceable labor and environmental provisions, important food and product safety standards and many other important provisions that would make it an agreement that would benefit my constituents and one that I could therefore support.

The key issue is why we are focusing on this FTA instead of fixing the problems with our current trade policies that accept foreign governments’ use of unfair tactics, such as currency manipulation, to provide themselves and their companies a significant advantage over businesses and workers in the United States .

By this action, the Bush Administration continues to show how out of touch they are with the realities facing working families and communities across this country. I will fight against the U.S.-Colombia FTA and for a trade model that will finally work for our people rather than against them.”

Note to John McCain: If You Don't Want to be Called a Warmonger...

The Republicans are supposedly upset because liberal talk show host Ed Schultz referred to John McCain as a "warmonger" at a North Dakota Democratic Fundraiser. We are using the word "supposedly" because we can't believe that the party of the infamous Willie Horton ads; the party that tried to impeach an elected president over oral sex; the party that invented the term "swift-boating" by attacking John Kerry's patriotism is really that squeamish.

Assuming, however, that the delicate sensibilities of the GOP have been offended, here's our suggestion to John McCain and his GOP allies. If you don't want to be called a "warmonger" don't sing "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran" as if a war with Iran would be a laughing matter and don't say that you don't care if the U.S. has troops in Iraq for the next 100 years.

If, however, you want to act as if you don't care if the United States fights a third war with a Muslim country, then don't get offended when people call you a "warmonger." If the shoe fits, then don't complain about wearing it.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Ohio News Media Ignores GOP Tax Cuts When Discussing Ohio's Budget Woes

Back in 2003, under the late, unlamented Taft Administration, there were reports about how Ohio was going to run a one billion dollar deficit on its two-year budget. Now, its five years later, and a new Governor, but there are still such reports about how Ohio is in fiscal trouble. There are reports on how this budget crunch is going to impact on local governments.

Surprisingly absent from all these reports, however, is the fact that in 2005 the GOP-controlled General Assembly, in a fit of tax-cutting mania, decided to cut the taxes of all Ohioans by 4.2% each year for five years. In 2005 alone, this meant that the State lost revenue of around $340 million. Over a five year period this works out to a revenue loss of around two billion a year, according to the group Policy Matters Ohio.

Of course, like most Republican tax cuts, this one was geared to help the top. This is from the analysis prepared by Policy Matters Ohio:

The 1 percent of Ohio taxpayers who make at least $274,000 a year with an average income of $643,000 would save an average $8,464 a year if such a change were implemented. This group would receive 23 percent of all the tax savings – more than half again as much as the total amount received by the bottom 60 percent of Ohio taxpayers, who each make less than $43,400 a year. Taxpayers who make less than $16,000 – the bottom 20 percent of taxpayers by income – would save an average of just $12 a year.

While an across-the-board cut may appear to affect taxpayers equally, in fact the most affluent taxpayers would save much more of their income than lower- and middle-income taxpayers. The top 1 percent of taxpayers would save 1.3 percent of their income, while the middle 20 percent would save only 0.5 percent, and the bottom 20 percent just 0.1 percent. That’s because richer Ohioans pay steeper rates under the state’s graduated income tax.

Yet, the media acts like the current fiscal crisis in Ohio is caused by "bad forecasting" and higher fuel prices, to quote from the Cleveland Plain Dealer article linked to above. Now, those things very well may be having an impact, but here is another thought: When you cut the revenue stream of the state by around two billion a year during bad economic times in the state, you are going to have big fiscal problems.

We suspect that the news media is covering this angle because Governor Ted Strickland isn't talking about it. We suspect that Strickland isn't talking about it because he wants to get re-elected in 2010 and because the Democrats are within four or five votes of taking back the Ohio House. Those of us over 50 remember full well the way the Republicans used the so-called Celeste tax increase in 1984 to take the Ohio Senate.

The fact that Strickland isn't talking about the effects of the 2005 tax reduction by the GOP doesn't mean, however, that the media can't talk about it. It also doesn't mean that Democrats in local government positions can't talk about it. We suspect that Republican local officials will try to ignore the role the Ohio GOP General Assembly had in making this problem. We shouldn't let them.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The "No-Change" McCain Iraq Catch-22

In Joseph Heller's novel, Catch-22, the following exchange takes place between two of the characters: There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
"That's some catch, that Catch-22," Yossarian observed.
"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

So here is "No-Change's" Catch-22 on Iraq. If the Iraqis are doing well, then we can't remove American troops because that would lead to the Iraqis not doing well. If, however, the Iraqis are not doing well, we can't remove our troops because they are not doing well and we have to keep our troops in Iraq until they do well. So, either way, like the character Orr in Heller's novel, the American people are screwed and, under McCain's reasoning, have to keep American troops in Iraq.

Maybe, out of respect to Heller's work, we should come up with our own numbering system. Maybe McCain's position should be called Catch-55, because American troops have now been in Iraq for over five years. Maybe we could call it Catch-100, because McCain doesn't care if our troops stay in Iraq for 100 years. In any event, if he gets elected, like Yossarian, all we will be able to do is whisle in appreciation of the simplicity of "No-Change's" Catch.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Good Washington Post Article on Impact of Internet

The Washington Post has an interesting article dated Tuesday, April 1, 2008, about the impact of the internet on presidential campaigns. It describes that for managers of campaigns, the internet seems very chaotic because the campaign can't control the message nearly as well since the internet has arrived on the political scene. This is a quote from the article concerning Joe Trippi, who managed Howard Dean's 2004 campaign:

To Joe Trippi, who pioneered Howard Dean's insurgent online campaign in 2003, this is "the beauty and also the curse of the Web. . . . Like it or not, an army of people are working for you or against you." A veteran of past presidential campaigns -- he worked for Sen. Edward Kennedy, former vice president Walter Mondale and former congressman Richard Gephardt -- Trippi says the hardest thing for him to learn was to cede control.

One thing that the internet is doing, at least for presidential campaigns, is making it much easier to donate to political campaigns. This quote from the article illustrates how much this has benefited Barack Obama:

Still, the Web's impact has been profound. For instance, running a serious campaign means raising a serious amount of money. Without the Web, the relatively unknown Obama would have been unable to mount such a strong challenge to the more prominent Clinton. Nearly 60 percent of the $193 million that Obama has raised so far in his campaign -- about $112 million -- came from online contributions, with 90 percent of them in amounts of $100 or less.

The impact of the internet is just beginning because, as the article points out, older voters still tend to use television and newspapers to get their political information. That's changing, though. Americans over 65 are the fastest growing users of the internet. As more and more Americans become savy about politics on the 'net, its impact will continue to grow.

Read the whole article here.