Thursday, December 09, 2010

Political update for December, 2010

First, I will engage in audacious self praise and say, now with the election results final, I didn’t do so bad on my predictions. I thought the Republicans would end up with 48 Senate seats. They won 47 (Bear called that precisely). It’s obvious where I went wrong. I did not think that Harry Reid would pull out Nevada, despite his off the wall opponent (and yeah, any candidate who hints at violent revolution is off the wall to me). The polls were probably more off there than anywhere else. Admittedly, the Senate was fairly easy to pick relative to the House, and although some believed the Republicans might take the other house, it did not seem likely to me. As to the House of Representatives, I predicted a 62 seat pick up. The final tally was 63. Now, I didn’t pretend I went through each race individually. I just analyzed professional political scientists and poll numbers and decided what I thought reasonably likely given my appreciation of the public sentiment. It’s the same way that I pick stocks and horses, but usually with less success than I had here. Out of the 435 seats available, getting within one was pretty good. Dick Morris, who gets to write a column despite what a bad predictor he is (he thought the 2008 Republican nominee would be Condaleeza Rice,) guessed about a 100 seat pick up. Bear faired much worse on the House, predicting a 42 seat pick up. This will teach the political world to take me lightly.


Four years ago, that is two years before the 2008 election, I was able to go through a list of candidates for the Republican and Democrat nominations here, and give my opinion as to how it would work out for each of them with a fair degree of accuracy (although, I did not think Barack Obama would win. I did think Ms. Clinton would edge him out and Senator McCain her).

It is not the same this time around. For one thing, the Democrats have an incumbent who will run again (will cover a possible primary challenge later) and the Republican field is just smaller at this time. I’ll take them first.

Here’s my two year out call for the nominee in descending order.

1. Mitt Romney

2. Sarah Palin

3. Mike Huckabee

4. Tim Pawlenty

5. Chris Christie

6. Mitch Daniels

7. Newt Gingrich

First – I know this is not exactly genius. There are no outliers like Mike Huckabee (when I wrote about them in 2006 Mike Huckabee and even Barack Obama were virtually unknown to the general public).

I don’t see Mike Huckabee giving a serious try this time. We may see him testing the waters – who in his position would not. He reminds me a bit this time of Fred Thompson last time around – too comfortable in the entertainment world and just not enough fire in the belly.

Newt Gingrich will always tease, but I don’t see him even declaring. As bright and interesting a speaker as he is, I think many feel the same way as I do about him – too divisive. Plus, remember, he lost his last race for the House of Representatives.

Let me lump 4-6, Pawlenty, Christie and Daniels, governors of Minnesota, New Jersey and Indiana, respectively, together. They are in my mind the best choices of those whose names are among the usual suspects – executives who show a dislike for the culture wars and who have an eye towards fixing their own state’s budget problems. They are grown ups. Given a choice between them and Barack Obama, I would likely vote for any one of them. It comes down to this – spender versus reducer. But, they don’t stand a chance, except possibly as VP choices for Sarah Palin, were she the nominee, to give her ticket some appearance of that all important gravitas (she might not, though, as she seems dedicated to the Rush Limbaugh approach oriented on values and beliefs, not competency). Here’s why they couldn’t win themselves. They are kind of boring and they are fiscal guys, not value guys. No offense, but they aren’t going to get anyone excited. If Romney is the nominee, it is less likely they would have a chance as he might feel that he should pick a southerner or westerner. Anyway, I am ruling them out for a nomination and Christie and Daniels have already indicated that they are not running. But, there names are still bounced around. Pawlenty is still thinking about it, but he just doesn’t have the juice. He could not win one caucus or primary, possibly not even in his own state. I could have listed Bobby Jindal, Louisiana’s governor with these three, but he’s said he’s not running at all, and interest in him has long died down (one boring speech and boom).

Which leaves us with two. I’ve given my opinion of Sarah Palin before, and I have it down to a science. She was badly mauled by the media in 2008. Most of it was untrue and some of it vicious. Liberal women in particular seemed willing to believe the worst about her, regardless of proof, and she made them see red. One accusation was that she remained silent while someone screamed out “Death to Obama”. Some claimed they heard she led a chant. Of course, as that was a threat against a presidential candidate, the Secret Service investigated, starting with the reporter who claimed he heard it. They interviewed those who were around him in the audience. None of them heard anything like it. Other claims – she wanted women to who were raped to have to pay for the rape kits (she did have a police chief who tried it when she was mayor but he was stopped). Accused of ethics violations while governor, she was cleared shortly before the election. She had a shorter campaign than Barack Obama, Joe Biden or John McCain, but, during the time she was running she spoke more clearly than any of the other three more experienced men. And despite her recent North/South Korea goof, she made less gaffes than they did too.

However, no matter how it is spun, her interview with Katie Couric showed her glaring weakness. She doesn’t know much about the substance of national or foreign affairs, and she doesn’t seem to care to learn. Her decision to be interviewed since the election only by friendly journalists (mostly Fox) may help her with her base, but it can’t help her with independents (no liberal is going to vote for her, anyway). Until she can do an interview with the mainstream press, particularly on television, she is not going to win a general election. She might have to also give a more plausible reason for quitting as governor. I can think of a few, but she has to say them, be sincere, and persuade others she is sincere.

But, that doesn’t mean she couldn’t win the nomination. Rush Limbaugh, certainly the most respected voice among the right has been beating the tom tom that Sarah Palin can win without independents and moderates and that the right should be relentlessly attacking the left because they are going to win. While I think it is probably suicidal for the right to nominate her (unless Barack Obama has some kind of ethical or other meltdown and couldn’t win against a Kardashian sister) she could certainly win Iowa and South Carolina (two of the three earliest contests) and elsewhere in the South. I doubt she could win in New Hampshire, where Mitt Romney is well known, but this still puts her in the driver’s seat and he must take it from her uphill against the ridiculous expectations game our weird system of primaries and caucuses plays when someone wins Iowa.

No doubt, if she runs, she will excite her base more than anyone since Ronald Reagan. It has been known for years that Republicans care far less about academic success or the trappings of intellect than Democrats in their presidential candidates. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were known for their intellectual prowess whereas the President Bushes and Ronald Reagan were not - whether or not it was true. She fits in that mold. Republicans/conservatives trust that she will do what they want her to do without a lot of messy over thinking about it. Keep taxes low, support Israel, talk about God, cut the budget, and so on. This might seem facetious but I don’t think many conservatives would be upset if she would just listen to Rush Limbaugh every day and go along with his ideas.

But, in the end, I don’t think the result would be much different than the polls tell us now. She would lose to President Obama by a large margin. It would take a miracle for her to sell herself to independents, particularly as she doesn’t seem to care much about doing it.

So, Mitt Romney. His two biggest problems, other than Ms. Palin, are Rush Limbaugh and his push for a rock solid conservative, and . . . John McCain. The senator from Arizona got the nomination last time for two reasons – Mike Huckabee seemed to be running interference for him, splitting the religious votes that might have gone towards Governor Romney and at some point, enough Republicans thought that going more moderate would be a good idea. And, other than the collapse of the economy under a Republican’s watch, Bush fatigue and his own miserable campaign, there might be a President McCain now. But, he lost, which gives impetus to the Limbaugh/Palin school of thought - run a real conservative and damn the torpedos. Despite the governor’s desire to be seen as a conservative, many Republicans don’t believe him, particularly given his association with the Massachusetts’ health care plan, which is similar to the federal one in some aspects and has proved a disaster economically there, and his prior pro-gay, pro-choice positions when he was running for office in Massachusetts. Personally, I have a visceral reaction to him as a stereotypical used car salesperson – I don’t trust him. His attempt to pretend to be a hunter a few years back fell as flat as when John Kerry tried.

Still, if he can find a way to win the primary, he has the best chance to beat the president. Polls show he does the best against him of all the potential nominees, while Sarah Palin gets blown away by him. You’d think that would be obvious to conservatives, but just let someone say it to them and watch them accuse even other Republicans of being RINOs. How many times do I have to say it – partisanship makes everyone a little crazy.

Okay, now for the Democrats, which will be a lot shorter. Recently, with the president showing he is willing to work with Republicans, liberals are outraged. This is not only foolish on their part economically, as their plans for greater entitlements and stimulus strike me as similar to pouring water on a drowning man, but also unfair. President Obama has pursued the liberal agenda with great success, even at the cost of the House of Representatives and the loss of his own popularity. The public might not have liked it so much, but his base should be overjoyed.

So, already we hear the drumbeat for a primary opponent, which at least will bring glee to the right. Nothing could be worse for the Democrats than a primary fight, which would undoubtedly weaken their party. Even the thought of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama going into an undecided convention pulled their party apart for a while. But, partisan liberals see no clearer than partisan conservatives.

Besides, who would it be? I know my conservative friends have had a wet dream that Hillary Clinton, filled with ambition and thoughts of revenge, would challenge him. That seems to remain a dream. Besides, she stands in everyone’s perception to the right of President Obama. The people who are unhappy on the left are standing to his left. What would the point of having her challenge him be?

Who’s left? John Kerry? Howard Dean? Pardon me while I laugh hysterically. Did I say yet that partisanship makes everyone a little crazy?


I presume you know what Wikileaks is and who Julian Assange is. If not, Google or Wikipedia it.

I can’t speak for other countries, but I am not sure exactly how the United States would successfully prosecute Julian Assange. For one thing, to prosecute someone, you need a crime. There are no common law federal crimes, so it has to be a statutory crime. There are two choices I see right now (please keep in mind he is not a U.S. citizen, so treason is not available).

First, though, let me say that even if Mr. Assange is very much against the United States interest, even if he hopes bin Laden blows us to kingdom come, we should not prosecute him unless he has broken a valid law. Sure, there can be a kangaroo court, but there shouldn’t be. If we do that, then maybe we are slowly becoming the totalitarians we so criticize.

One possibility is the 1917 Espionage Act, which was last amended in 1970. Although it was used to imprison and convict men and women during WWI, it was a gross abuse of power by the government, and, in many people’s opinions, a violation of the first amendment of the constitution. It has been twice amended and I am not going into an analysis here of whether it is constitutional. Probably in a later post if he is indicted here. The other possibility I know of – and there may be others – is a statute (18 U.S.C. 793) which forbids even someone who gets specific defense information in their hands to dispose of it contrary to the law.

As for his arrest in Britain without bail  just so that it can be determined if he should go back to Sweden to face sex crime charges, those sex crime charges seem more than a little flimsy. Apparently, and these are the facts I heard – correct me if you think they are wrong - he had sex with a woman who had recently gone out of her way to meet him and bring him home. They had sex. The next day she had a party for him and his friends and she referred electronically to him and them as the “coolest people in the world”. Then, shortly afterwards, he had sex with a friend whose apartment he was staying at. They had sex. Later, the two women learned about each other. Now both claim he molested them, one by having sex with her in her sleep (after they had sex wide awake, mind you) and the other for supposedly pinning her down with his weight (and, of course, that was before she referred to him as one of the coolest people in the world, which makes you wonder - is she just referring to the missionary position?)

Now, even though he has surrendered himself in Britain, he is held without bail. I don’t know British law, but I believe the right to bail is basically the same as here where we generally have a constitutional right. Could be wrong though.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like the guy and think he is misguided. But, I’m not sure at all he’s committed any crime, and he shouldn’t be convicted of pissing off governments without a real crime. That’s too fascist for me.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Reviewing an earlier post I see that I had previously misunderstood DADT, which I thought had been brought about by presidential order. I think President Obama used to believe that too, based on what he said (why I believed it). But, now that I am paying attention I see it comes from a federal act.

I am a little dismayed that my favorite politician (though he dims in my appreciation over time), John McCain is at the forefront of prolonging DADT, which I believe is wrong in several dimensions.

It should be remembered that a federal trial court has already declared the law unconstitutional on 1st amendment and equal protection grounds (which, at the federal level, would have to be found implied in the due process clause) and that it is now before the Supreme Court in an appeal to be heard this year.

Why am I against DADT? I did give consideration for a while that the military is a very different creature from other federal departments, and that has been recognized since the founding. But, given that many other nations have managed to do this without big problems (there are always problems), that even our cousins in England and Australia have managed to do it (Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has testified that his counterparts in those two countries told him that after all the fuss, when it happened, it went down smoothly), I can’t imagine why our troops should be thought less disciplined or less tolerant.

And, of course, we know that gays are serving in the military. The poll the Pentagon took of service men and women showed that while many of them had a problem with open homosexuality, those who knew they were serving with a gay man overwhelmingly had no problem with it. One special forces member reported on a gay man he was serving with – paraphrasing – he was big, mean and killed a lot of bad guys. No problem. I have no doubt Senator McCain and other Senators and Congressmen who want to prolong DADT have no answer for this, as they continue to ignore that part of the poll whenever they speak.

One of the myths about this proposed change is that the military will be distracted by bizarre gay behavior. But, there are already gays in the military – where is this behavior? Where is it in other countries? Everyone in the military is going to have to follow the military code regardless of whether DADT exists, straight or gay.

Many conservatives who oppose this claim feel that it has to be this way because of the special mission of the military – and they are offended that they are called homophobes. I have looked to see if there was a poll correlating those for DADT with those against gay marriage and can't find one. So, sure, I’m speculating, but want to bet it is a really, really strong correlation? I say that with confidence because everyone I personally know who has a position, they are either pro or con on both issues - no split decisions.

Time to end this nonsense. It’s the 21st century. Homosexuality is no longer a crime. Many have come out of the closet and the ones I know well are decent hardworking people who don’t deserve to be discriminated against. And, it is discrimination. And it is homophobia.

I frequently read on an online site I frequent,, that God disapproves of homosexuality, often followed by a Bible citation. Yet, despite all the arguments I have been in on that site, no one, not one single person, has ever responded to my question as to whether they also approve of stoning adulterers, which is also mentioned in the Bible.

Today the Senate said no to a vote, so the debate will likely be over at least for a few years as it would never pass with the House in Republican control. And, of course, it may stay that way a while.


Just a brief comment here on this thorniest of issues. Once again, another president who hoped to solve this problem bites the dust. The administration acknowledges that it will no longer try to get Israel to stop building in disputed territories. And, as the Palestinians won’t negotiate until that happens . . . at least for now, that means more violence, more poverty, more deaths down the road.

While some Israel supporters might smile at that and say, What us worry? – We are on top - I suggest that someday, the smile will be wiped from their face, and that unless a political solution will be had, the little country that has survived so much will cease to be one day.


  1. Let's see- you are off the rails here again...sigh..and you were doing so well for so long. I don't have time to fully comment now but I will later.
    Just a quickie- Britain isn't allowing bail due to flight risk associated with multiple false identities and documents.

  2. Help me out here. I can't find a single story including that reason in about a 5 minute search including the word "false identities" (not that the media usually does a good job, but you'd think false identies would be a good lead for their stories). What is your source? BTW, false identities seems a little besides the point for someone who turned himself in.

    Anyway, he has been granted bail which includes all the gov't needs - electronic monitering, no passport, reporting, and so on. Not giving bail doesn't make a lot of sense.

    Hard to judge the truth of what's out there right now, but it has been reported that the charges were originally dropped until picked up by a second prosecutor.

    Given the apparent weakness of the charges against him, Sweden, and Britain's initial denial of bail, they are succeeding in making more of a folk hero and martyr out of him.

    Personally, I'm a little jealous. Seems like he gets girls at the drop of a hat.


Your comments are welcome.

About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .