Politics At Large (And In SARS)

Richard links to an article by Robert David Sullivan that proposes a new way to analyze political results.

So CommonWealth decided to make a map of our own. Aiming somewhere between the reductionist red-and-blue model and the most accurate (but least useful) subdivision of the United States into infinity, we split the county into 10 regions, each with a distinct political character. Our regions are based on voting returns from both national and state elections, demographic data from the US Census, and certain geographic features such as mountain ranges and coastlines. [...] Each region represents about one-tenth of the national electorate, casting between 10.4 million and 10.8 million votes in the 2000 presidential election.

Some states fall entirely within a region, but many are split between two or more. Electoral votes follow state boundaries, but populations don’t, and the social characteristics that influence politics spill over jurisdictional lines. Rural sections of adjacent states often have more in common, culturally and politically, with each other than with the urban and suburban population centers of their states. If political campaigns can translate media markets into electoral votes, why not regional identities that cross state lines? [...]

That role becomes clear in CommonWealth’s analysis of recent national elections (See “Continental Divides”): No winner of a presidential election has carried fewer than five regions in at least three decades.

Duane Bickels exclaims, “Yee-Haw! My Vote Cancels Out Y’Alls!”

Shoot, neighbor, if there’s one type’a guy you don’t want in charge, it’s some damn weaklin’ in the White House what won’t kick enough ass. Bush, that guy we got now, he kicked him some ass in that old desert. And Bush’s daddy? He kicked him some ass, too. Reagan? Kicked all the ass he could, and some they said he shouldn’t! But Clinton? Barely no ass-kickin’ at all. Just got his ol’ joint tugged by a fat girl, and hell, I could do that down by the Dew Drop Inn off I-78. What’s the damn use of bein’ the Commander-Chief if that’s all you’re gonna do? Face it, bein’ president is a job of work for ass-kickers, and if you say otherwise, hell, I got a vote here what totally negates yours.

So maybe you ain’t a patriot like I am. Now, when I say patriot, I’m talkin’ about most of our athletes, country-music stars, and guys like me what agree with them. So, say you ain’t a patriot, and you’re fixin’ to vote up a candidate what’s some limpo what’ll give in to the crybaby liberals, the damn screechin’ women, the commies at the United Nations, and the other America-haters. Fine by me! I got a vote here that does just as much good as yours, and mine’s marked “No Limpos!”

Ryan Overbey comments:

All my New Englander friends may think this is a caricature. Ha ha, funny! But it’s more than that, it’s pretty damn close to the truth. Go to the Red counties of America, and you will meet people like this. They might phrase it differently, borrowing spoonfed memes from press-releases and media outlets, but it’s the same sentiment exactly. There are real people out there who, when they say “strong on defense”, actually mean “kick some damn ass.”

Love Me And You Hate Me

Oliver Willis has a satire piece that suggests Mandy Moore is an idiot Republican.

The economy is kicking ass. I know this because I’ve seen it first hand. While on tour for my movie, Chasing Liberty (in theaters now!) I’ve been driven around by taxis, had my room cleaned by maids, and even had my shoes shined by a nice elderly gentleman. Those are jobs, aren’t they? And our proud and powerful president brought them to us. The liberal media doesn’t talk about that, instead they talk about things like unemployment figures – that makes my brain hurt.

This is not the first time Oliver has insulted Mandy. I’m so mortified. Oliver, this is war!

Chun the Unavoidable asks, “Was Women’s Suffrage A Bad Idea?”

Getting back to the point, was the suffragists’ eventual triumph worth it? Some argue that womenfolk tend to be too emotional–due to their menstruation, child-rearing, and other peculiarities–to be trusted to make the rational decisions involved in politics. Others employ a modified argument that giving the women the right to vote is a regressive measure that penalizes those too poor to get married and double their vote. The key question here is if it is true that married couples tend to vote as the dominant partner (who often, but not always, is a man) wishes.

I know you can talk about your James Carville and Mary whatevers and so on, but I personally have never met a married couple who didn’t vote the same ticket (I probably have not ever met anyone socially who voted for Bush, come to think of it.) This will accord with your experience, I expect, and we cannot explain it away as the mere meeting of true minds. In order to counteract the tyranny of the married, perhaps their votes combined should be worth only 1.5.

Michael Feldman writes that losers of presidential elections are forever losers and written off by all.

So is it any wonder if most of the losing candidates in this losers rodeo end up shedding crocodile tears and, with secret relief, slinking away to lick their wounds, husband their resources, and plot their return to the fray in ’08. Whereas the “winner” will end up sloppy road kill under the Cheny-Rove tire tracks, and disappear forever into the pages of history.

The bottom line is that Americans hate a loser. They don’t like having them around, reminding us of defeat by their very presence. Better to move on, to new faces, fresh meat, optimistic promises, and unrealized potential.

I always wonder why more presidents don’t return to politics. If you really want to make a difference then why would you stop?

Jack Hodgson replies to this:

(1) BOTH candidate in the general election are so personally savaged, by each other and the media, that it takes the bully pulpit of the presidency to repair the damage.

(2) Related, the reality of this savaging leaves the loser unwilling to return to the fray for a second beating.

Politics Of A Natural Nature

Mark Schmitt writes about the political ideas of Grover Norquist.

I’ve come to think that Norquist is basically an adolescent, with the adolescent’s strange obsession with saying the thing that is most likely to get a reaction. I saw him speak the other day, and you can see just that smug teenager’s gleam in his eye when he says something that he thinks will get everyone all atwitter, especially a nice earnest NPR host. If he weren’t doing politics, he’d be a second-string Howard Stern-type DJ.

Outlandish Josh writes about the Dean pep rally extravaganza.

The problem is, this is far more chilling than any conspiracy theory. This would suggest that the press corps is fantastically lazy — in that they were willing to repeat a 15-second soundbyte without getting the context for themselves — and/or willing to blow with the wind no matter what the facts are. What I don’t understand is why no one from the press, and I mean no one, not even on NPR or PBS, stood up and said this was bullshit, that the conventional widsom being peddled was wholly unsupported by the facts. This kind if thing is suppsed to matter if you call yourself a journalist.

The Binary Circumstance on Democrats:

Bad ideas, good ideas, doesn’t matter. The best way for the Democrats to help us is to help themselves. I just can’t take any of these guys seriously.

The Binary Circumstance links to John Stossel on 20/20 about silly lies in the world.

Myth No. 5 — The Rich Don’t Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes

According to presidential candidate Al Sharpton, “The top one percent in this country pays very much less than ten percent, very much less than five percent.”

Sharpton said he thinks the wealthy should pay “somewhere around 15 percent.”

But that’s so silly because — and I bet most of you don’t know this — the IRS says the richest 1 percent of taxpayers already pay 34 percent of all income taxes. Twice what Sharpton wanted them to pay.

Still you may feel the rich should pay even more. It’s a tempting thought, since they have so much.

But let’s remember the facts: the top 1 percent of Americans — those who earn more than about $300,000 a year — pay 34 percent, more than a third of all income taxes, and the top 5 percent, those making over $125,000, pay more than half.

Halley Suitt writes about what some see as Dean’s shortcomings are his strengths to others.

Dean is subversive by being honest and direct, emotional and passionate. His critics are quick to point this out. Just as they destroyed other men for crying, they seem to attack him for being vulnerable and human. But the results are paradoxical. Every put-down seems to help him come back stronger.

Michael Feldman writes a beautiful piece of prose about the current politics in American and its addictive nature.

The Dowbrigade is worried about a friend, and wondering if its time to start planning an intervention. This friend has lately become obsessed and intoxicated by a highly addictive and ultimately destructive activity – American politics. He is losing his perspective, espousing kooky theories, keeping strange hours, and running with a very disreputable crowd. Those of us who care about him are at our wit’s end.


Alas, how charmingly naive. As though the vested interests and savage winners of the multigenerational dogfight for junkyard supremacy who rule our outlaw empire are just going to roll over and fade away when an idealist with shiny ideas appears on the scene. It is almost touching to see such a sophisticated man-about-the-blogosphere reduced to dewy-eyed innocence. Doesn’t he know that politics in America is a sick and vicious game, fraught with treachery and hipocrisy, more often lose-lose than win-win? Can’t he see that he is being used as a wild-card chip in a desperate gambit for political survival, and that whether the gamble succeeds or fails he will probably be discarded in a heartbeat when his usefulness is perceived to be waning?

Unprecedented Politics

Xian at Edgewise surveys that memes about Dean that are circulating the blogosphere.

Maybe this “angry red face” meme had to be exploded in a big way, and maybe Dean needed more of a narrative than “raised the most money via the Internet.” For all the meme junkies out there, Dianne Sawyer even showed the Gennifer portrait. A key failing or weakness nearly bring our protagonist low but he grows through the adversity. Better story than “geez, he really is nuts” or “don’t they understand broadcast media at all?”

I’m not saying Trippi (by which I mean the whole team around and including the candidate) didn’t make a serious mistake in how they handled the TV moment. They did let Dean be Dean” and since that moment of misjudgement about how something would read to practiced TV watchers (something the Dean household is not) cannot be recalled, as you cannot unring a bell, the best way to deal with a raging bull is to seize it by the horns and leap over it like a Minoan.

Adam Curry, international rock star and playboy, writes about the Dean battle-cry.

From where I stand (about 5 thousand miles away) this ‘incident’ is being misused by the media to crush the Dean campaign. Witness the Diane Sawyer interview, where Sawyer blatently predicts this will hurt the campaign.

Huh? Are American voters viewers that easy to manipulate?

A writer at Kuro5hin.org fact-checks and cuts the crap with “FileGate.”

In a statement on the matter, Sen. Hatch said, “I am mortified that this improper, unethical and simply unacceptable breach of confidential files may have occurred on my watch.” A Republican staff member who read the memos claims, however, that there was “no hacking, no stealing, and no violation of any Senate rule”.

It seems clear that the Democrat’s IT services in the US Senate need to be more methodical about protecting their party’s documents. Nevertheless, modern computer security laws say that it’s wrong to access data to which you have no permission, regardless of whether there is protection on the data or not. The fact that the data was accessed from an unsecured shared fileserver which is used by members of the bi-partisan judiciary committee is irrelevant.

Jessica writes about her visit to New Hampshire to see John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich, and Joe Lieberman. I was with her for the last two.

After he arrived, Kucinich walked around to greet people and shake hands. He’s the first presidential politician to have shaken my hand this campaign (and maybe ever). He begins his talk by thanking the host and praises the white, upright piano. He doesn’t seem focused when he begins to speak, then he announced that five more troops have died today, bringing the total number of dead to 512. He remembers how during the Vietnam War, he became accostumed to seeing the count every day. He worked as a copy boy at the Cleveland Plain Dealer for a while and told a story about getting a photo of a deceased soldier from a family during that war. He relaxed a little more as he talked about waiting as they went through their photographs (his story implied that someone else from the newspaper had already contacted the family to request a photo and he just went to pick it up) and how they finally selected the photo of a proud, young soldier in uniform from the top of the television and asked if they could have it back in time for the funeral so they could display it on his coffin.

He continued his thoughts on the current conflict in Iraq by reminding us of the 512 soldiers who have given their lives to this cause, the thousands more who have been injured, and all the Iraqis who have died or been injured also. Bush wants to run for re-election based on a lie, he claimed. Terror and fear embrace our every day lives. He stated that some of the candidates aren’t in touch with this reality.

Michael Feldman posts a picture of Dick Gephardt’s closed down office in Nashua, NH. (Michael mistakenly credits it to Manchester–but I know better, it’s right outside my office window.)

Michael at 2blowhards.com asks: “Is Bush a Conservative?”

What exactly is conservative about George W. Bush? The question seems to be in the air. John Leo scratches his head here. Jonah Goldberg,here, points out that under Bush, “overall spending from 2001 to 2003 grew at 16 percent and discretionary spending went up 27 percent. That’s double Bill Clinton’s rate.”

Marc Nozell saw John Edwards in Merrimack, NH.

The girls had colored some homemade ‘Go, John, Go!’ signs and were in their pretty dresses, but the spent most of the time on our shoulders. We ran into a video crew from Germany and a photographer from Switzerland. There were a few college boys from Union College from outside Albany who were up for the weekend and another college girl from NYC said there were about 150 from her school up helping with campaigns (didn’t catch which college or if they were only for Edwards.)

On the way out I chatted up a reporter from the Boston Globe about how the media seems to be covering NH as a Kerry/Dean horse race with no real coverage of Edwards or Lieberman and just a little of Clark. With Edwards surprise 2nd place showing in Iowa and Liebermans make or break in NH I’d think there should be more coverage of that.

ScrappleFace writes about Wesley Clark and Michael Moore.

During the recent Democrat debate, Mr. Clark defended Mr. Moore’s right to call the Commander-in-Chief a “deserter.”

But today Mr. Clark said, “I thought Michael called the president a desserter — you know, one who enjoys dessert after dinner. This, coming from Michael Moore, is a term of endearment. Like most people, there’s nothing Michael likes better than dessert. I can assure you he meant no insult to the president. Michael is a patriot. He’s as American as apple pie.”

Dave Winer writes about Alice’s Restaurant.

Since the candidates have to avoid saying anything on TV, or showing any human qualities, they might as well go all the way and act crazy too. The challenge wouldn’t be (only) to sound presidential or seem avuncular, or friendly, or dignified, or whatever it is the press values in a presidential candidate, but to mock the system so the voters know to go to your website to find out what you really think, what you really have to say. If all the candidates do it, or all the candidates who get votes, we’ve then reclaimed our political system. Could it really be that simple? Is it really such a wacky idea? Any wackier than the world we live in today?

The Left Coaster learns that Al Sharpton is being advised by someone who has supported and worked with George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Richard M. Nixon.

I have respect for genuine differences of opinion among the candidates, but this action of Sharpton’s is completely self-serving. Sharpton’s desire for power shows that he is willing to play into the hands of the people he claims to oppose in an effort to “rise to the prize” – even if it means the defeat of the party of which he claims to be a member. To be sure, that defeat is certainly the goal of the Rovian Confederate Fascists and their slathering Greedy Oligarchy Party.

In an effort to maintain the vast power this cabal has attained while the American people slept, the GOP has amply demonstrated that there is no trick too low, no person above being used, no principle that is inviolate. And Rev. Sharpton, blinded by his own ambition, equal in nature and intensity to George Warmonger Bush’s desire for the appearance of a legitimate electoral victory, now demonstrates that he is willing to debase himself in his quest, which makes him just like they are.

Jessica went to see John Edwards and Wesley Clark.

See didn’t actually see Edwards:

After he finished, I noticed the press mobbing him as he was leaving the room. I walked up to try to get a glimpse of him, but all I saw was the back of his head as he walked out the back door.

I’m trying not to let my negative experience at the event color my thoughts of him, but I’m afraid my notes may reflect the disappointment I feel at how things were handled. I know nothing about Edwards and was hoping to learn something substantive about him as a candidate at this event. All I know is that he isn’t happy with how the country is currently being run and that he thinks certain things are problems. He didn’t talk about fixing anything or what he would like to do as president in the seven minutes he addressed us. I didn’t see any campaign literature, either.

Michael Feldman deconstructs John Kerry.

Will Middle America buy a preppy jock as President? Don’t we already have a preppy jock as president? Good questions, both.

There are some eerie similarities between Sen. Kerry and the man he wants to replace. Indeed, outside the JFK Arena was a charmingly eccentric political activist in a huge sandwich-board sign on which was written “Bush and Kerry: Secret Fraternity Brothers in a Blood Pact to Defraud America” and making multiple references to the myriad connections between the Bush and Kerry families and the shadowy Skull and Bones bond they do share.

Le Politics

Lance Arthur proposes a solution to President Bush’s problem with gay marriage.

My solution is, dare I say, both logical and elegant. Rather than spend $1.5 billion dollars educating straight couples who might be inclined to be legally wed anyway, why not send direct payments to every homosexual in the United States on the promise that we shall not marry another of our own sex?

The population of the United States is currently around 292.5 million. Taking the “10% rule” into account, that means that there are currently 29.25 million homosexuals.

Now you and I both know that many homosexuals, for reasons of their own which I’m sure have absolutely nothing to do with your administration’s support of discrimination, intolerance and ignorance, choose to remain closeted (that means “in the closet”) and, for the sake of argument, let’s agree that 50% of the homosexual population would deny their homosexuality. This reduces the practical number to 14.375 million practicing (that means “doing it until you get it right”) homosexuals.

Brent Simmons defends TV and criticizes the notion that the rest of the country must be stupid.

I think I detect a subtext that bothers me. It goes like this imagined conversation:

A: Hey, TV is stupid, all sound-bites, no substance.

B: Yes, well, you know you can read about the candidate on the Internet, go to meet-ups, read some great stuff in print magazines, and so on. It’s up to you find good information.

A: Oh, sure, I do all that. It’s not me I’m worried about, it’s Joe Sixpack who just watches TV that I’m worried about. He’ll just believe whatever he’s spoon-fed.

All I can say is, I know Joe Sixpack, and he’s better than that.

Lead Ballons quotes Howard Dean, a particular quote that illustrates why he must be stopped: “We raised $40 million from ordinary people like you … We don’t owe anybody anything.”

Lawrence Lessig writes about his Congressman who doesn’t listen to his constituency.

I live in the 12th Congressional District in California. We’re a pretty sensible (you might call us liberal) bunch. Over 80% oppose the war. Almost 70% oppose the “Patriot Act.”

Yet our Congressman — a wonderful and amazing figure, Tom Lantos — doesn’t vote the way his district thinks. He has supported the war. He has supported the Patriot Act.

The New York Times reports that part of the USA Patriot Act has been struck down.

Collins’ ruling was the first of an expected string of rulings on cases now pending in courts across the country as the result of the Patriot Act.

Emily Whitfield, American Civil Liberties Union National Media Relations director, said more than 230 communities around the country, most recently Los Angeles, have passed resolutions calling for the repeal of certain controversial sections of the act.

The U.S. Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo said in a statement from Washington, D.C., that the Patriot Act is “an essential tool in the war on terror” and asserted that the portion at issue in the ruling was only a modest amendment to a pre-existing anti-terrorism law.

A very small change–yet essential? Get your facts straight.

British Politics writes about why Howard Dean deserves a comeback.

I want a Howard Dean comeback in New Hampshire for one simple reason: The media coverage of his Scream has been completely over the top, and has featured pundits, columnists and writers deciding on the basis of 15 seconds of a campaign rally that a serious politician is not fit to be President.

I find this kind of coverage distasteful, pointless and irrelevant. Howard Dean may be the wrong man to be President, but it’s can’t be for that reason. It’s gotcha politics at it’s lowest, and driven, not by outrage at his policies, beliefs or campaign strategy but on the media equivalent of schoolyard bullying.

Rob Lawson writes about the transformation of the Democratic party.

What has happened to the Democratic Party? Why do they keep moving farther to the left without any consideration for their conservative members? I believe the shift to the left started with the Jimmy Carter years. Bordering on socialist status, it’s no wonder President Carter was such a screw up in his own Party. Not only did he fail the American people, he failed his own Party in such a manner that; in order for the Democratic Party to survive, migrating left was essentially their only option at the time. Ever since, the Neo Dems have had a hard time obtaining power in the White House.

Both parties are completely different beasts than they once were.

ScrappleFace reports that Renee Zellweger is just a few points behind John F. Kerry in NH according to a recent poll.

Senator John F. Kerry, who still leads Ms. Zellweger by about three points in the polls, immediately attacked her military record.

“If I had been an actor in ‘Cold Moutain’,” said Mr. Kerry, “I would have pretended to fight for my country in the Civil War, instead of pretending to harbor deserters, like Ms. Zellwegger did.”

Mr. Kerry, who has served as a Vietnam veteran for more than 30 years, refused to say which side of the war he would have pretended to be on.

Matt Stoller speculates about New Hampshire and what might happen.

The most interesting storyline of this primary is actually what’s happening to the primary process itself. Iowa shocked nearly everyone. I’m intrigued by the free media Kerry has received, jumping to the head of the national polls he barely registered on three weeks ago, as well as the piggybank and organization of Dean, who may be able to take the huge pounding he got in Iowa just because he won the internet primary this summer. The important new component here for both actors is the internet (not the momentum, which is a staple of primary seasons) – Kerry can translate momentum into cash to fuel his later state campaign through the web, and Dean can use the cash and organization that came from his earlier momentum to fuel his current campaign.

Matt Stoller writes about Wesley Clark’s presidential campaign.

The problems of achieving the Presidency are not just practical, or logistical, though there are those, and Clark has made tactical decisions to handle them, right or wrong. What’s more profound is Clark now having nothing to talk about as a candidate; when you get right down to it, running for President is not just a job audition, it’s an attempt to get the country to engage in self-examination and decide what it wants to make of itself. It is, more than anything, a strategic dialogue. And Clark, despite his spectacular accomplishments (and make no mistake, Clark is one of the most brilliant leaders this country has produced in the last half century), just isn’t part of that discussion right now. He’s bogged down in whether he grew up poor, or whether Michael Moore said something technically untrue, or some irrelevant conspiracy theory, or a million other insultlets capable of diminishing a Presidential candidate.

Party Politics

One of my hobbies is procrastination. I’m going to work on getting out some blog posts that have been sitting in queue since early January.

The thread was last written about here on January 7th.

Gary Santoro writes two pieces about political parties for “Dean Independents.”

The crux of the first piece is that because the two main parties in America are becoming so similar, people are leaving them in large numbers as “Independents” who look for another source of their own revelation. Nothing really strikes me as something new to add to the discussion.

But here is the sentiment:

In my opinion, the two-party structure is vulnerable to corruption and prone to the type of declines in effectiveness described in this piece. Where is a third voice, or third opinion? Today, we are limited to a choice of two political organizations that have attained large scale. A third choice could provide diversity and better representation, better checks and balances, and objectivity. Having greater than three major parties in government might be fragmentary and prevent consensus, but I would argue that our two-party system limits competition.

The second case basically emphasizes the last quote and makes the case for Howard Dean as an “Independent’s Democrat.”

Ole Eichhorn gets email about a post of this nature he wrote.

Be careful what you wish for! I received an email from Ivan-Assen Ivanov, a Bulgarian, reporting that they have proportional representation, and it isn’t working out:


So be it – nothing like real data! I also received email from others pointing out that in Israel’s system fringe parties have undue influence, with negative implications. Fascinating.

So the downside of proportional representation is that small fringe parties have too much influence, while currently in the U.S. it could be argued they do not have enough. I wonder if there is a middle ground? Or perhaps every system has its upside and downside, and none is “best”.

The “answer” is, of course, to not have a system that lets anybody coerce anyone else… but THATS not logical now is it?

Richard Tallent replies to the above post about election systems and political parties.

Richard Tallent perfectly defines the ways that politicians exist only to extend and perpetuate their power. He speaks about this in terms of the two forms of legislations that are passed and then way every issue is a win for both sides:

The second kind are those bills that they all agree on, usually because such bills perpetuate their power. These are the insidious ones. For these, their justification is that it is more pragmatic simply to “do what’s best for the people” than to risk public debate on the matter. This is where we get our Patriot Act II, hidden Executive Orders, last-minute amendments, and the “rule changes” that institutionalize the two-party structure.

It’s strange because Richard and I got to the point where we agree and I don’t really feel there’s anything more to add. I’m curious of how this applies to blog etiquette. Is it proper to just link the reply without comment? Should you say “This space left blank intentionally?” Just an, “I agree?”


It’s Political, Get It?

Stirling Newberry studies the evolution of the election process in America.

An election is an elevation. The systems of elections in the US mirrors the way that power is controlled: an election is a test, a simulation, of power.

The elections of 1789, if they were held in some remote country, would not qualify as “democratic”, since they reflect no moment of mandate, no particular submission of the government to a moment of popular will. Legislatures chose electors, who were manipulated by Hamilton – the first fixer to Washington’s first citizen – to vote in the correct manner to produce the correct results. But these elections were a reflection of how power worked: in that day and age, the army was built of regiments. Regiments were funded by individual wealthy men – Washington had financed an army in the French and Indian wars, and again in the Revolutionary War. Hence, the will of those who could fund and gather war making apparatus, and capital formation, in the world of the commerical north, were the government, since, if push came to shove, they would have to raise the army that would defend it.

Ever since, the evolution of elections in the US, has mirrored how power was created, channelled and controlled.

Curt Siffert on other voters: “They’re too stupid, they shouldn’t be allowed to vote!” Or: “What? Democracy doesn’t mean ‘I Win’?”

And the other one is that I did witness tonight how this damn “Iowa Bump” had such a huge difference for Kerry in all these states. I mean, that bump is huge. Depressingly huge. I didn’t realize that such a large percentage of the primary-voting population were sheep. And that’s really it, sheep. Where did all these Kerry supporters come from overnight? He was in the toilet four weeks ago. Dean’s policies didn’t change. Kerry’s policies didn’t change. Sure, some of Kerry’s supporters were from “undecided” folks, but only a portion of them. The others were switchers. Dean didn’t become a worse candidate all of a sudden or anything. The only thing they are responding to is the media. They read that Kerry won somewhere, so they switch their vote. As if they get a prize for picking the winner. It’s treating a vote as a lottery. You don’t get a prize for picking the winner. Your responsibility is to vote your damn preference. I don’t get it.

Chip Gibbons on why it is ridiculous for women to be able to exhort their babies’ fathers.

In a free society, if there is no contract of support between consenting parties, there can be no obligation to pay support; not for the father and certianly not for the billions of others on the planet that did not have sex with the woman. To document an agreement to have a child between a man and woman, all that is necessary is a contract of support. Whether it’s a marriage or some other form of written contract doesn’t matter.

If a man is not willing to support his own child, he won’t sign such a contract and that’s all the woman needs to know about him. She needs to move on to a man who is willing to provide support, if in fact that is what she wants. Why do women want to have children by men who can’t or don’t want to support them anyway? If the care of her infant is her primary concern, she would get a contract of support from a willing party.

Oliver Willis presents a message from the Lieberman campaign.

“There have been some reports that Joe Lieberman plans to drop out of the presidential race. Nothing could be further from the truth. As I speak, one billion voters are going to the polls to vote for Joe Lieberman and Allah smiles on them. Already John Kerry, John Edwards and Howard Dean are about to concede to Joe Lieberman. They fear his mighty jowls and wavering voice, they bow at the feet of his mainstream, moderate positions.

Kevin Aylward explains how Congressman and Senators answer letters. How depressing.

The idea behind the CMS systems was that upon entering office the representative would procure an electronic list of the 300,000 or so constituents in your district, or if you were lucky get the previous representative’s database. Staff member could add new constituents; merge records of duplicates, etc. Every inbound letter and call is tracked by a lookup search for the constituent’s name. Once the record is found the contact history with that constituent is available for viewing and action.

Inbound letters and calls are ‘issue coded’. For example, if you write a letter to your representative in which you urge the member to support gun control legislation, the staff members who open and read the mail enter a record of the correspondence and select a gun control issue code. If you address multiple topics you get multiple codes.

The staffer at that point has the option of creating a response (which as I recall they usually do) by picking one or more items from a list of issue talking points.

MNOT on presidential candidates and astrosuck.

I’m so sick of watching presidential candidates confidently telling news anchors that they’re doing well in the race, and explaining how well their ideas are going across.

Where are the ideas? Instead of telling me why I should vote for them, the current crop’s strategy seems to be to convince me that everybody else is voting for them.

In advertising, this is known as singing the brief; rather than doing the hard work of convincing me that a product is appealing (for example), the ad just says “this product is appealing.”

Alex Tabarrok links to Valdis Krebs on book buying models.

This is a must read. Or at least look at the picture.

The Black Saint writes about Howard Dean’s strategy.

Gov. Dean blames the media for his fall because that’s what everyone does and rivals whom he says torpedoed his candidacy using every desperate tactic they knew, like pointing out dumb things he’d said. But there were other problems — lavish spending early in the race (perhaps the solid gold statue of Gov. Dean with his foot pressing down on Pres. Bush’s bloodied head was a bit premature), difficulty transferring his cult-like support into votes, and a candidate who sometimes talked without thinking of the political consequences or whether he was sober at the time.

He gained respect among the Washington crowd by raising more than $40 million last year, a Democratic record. Thousands of people, many who had never donated to a political campaign, were inspired to contribute to Dean’s anti-Iraq war, anti-Washington, anti-ever reclaiming the White House candidacy.

Bob asks: “As a matter of common sense and self-defense, [we] will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed.” Bush or Palpatine?

Gary Santoro posts funny John Kerry comics.