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Saturday, June 24, 2006

We're Out For Vacation, And The DSCC Is Out To Lunch 

Mary and I are heading out for some much needed vacation this week, so posting will be light to nonexistent until about July 4.

In the meantime, if you get a solicitation from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, do what Mary's mom did: Write in big letters "NOT A RED CENT WHILE YOU'RE SUPPORTING LIEBERMAN" and send it back (using their self-addressed metered envelope). If you're really feeling virtuous, follow up with a contribution directly to your favorite Democratic Senatorial candidate.

Be good while we're gone....

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

F'in A! 

New York is one polite city.

You wanna make something of it?

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Imputing Senator Lieberman 

With all the excitement about Ned Lamont's challenge to Joe Lieberman, it's hard to get a handle on just how real the challenge is. The latest poll has Lieberman ahead 55-40 among likely primary voters (and more among all Dems), a big gain for Lamont, but still a 15-point cushion and comfortably above the 50% threshold where incumbents are generally considered vulnerable. Polls notwithstanding, though, the dynamics of the race feel good for Lamont. But how good?

One way to estimate Lamont"s odds is to impute them from the Intrade price of the third party candidate winning the general election. If Intrade sees a third-party win as 10% likely, it necessarily sees Lamont beating Lieberman as at least 10% likely, depending on how likely it thinks Lamont is to win the general election. (Intrade does not see much of a risk of a Lieberman third-party run throwing the race to the GOP, which is still trading at 4%, comparable with other no-hope races like New York (also 4%).)

As the chart below shows, Intrade saw Lamont's challenge as having little to no hope until April, when it started climbing. There was a spike in mid-May when Lamont had a strong showing at the Connecticut Democratic Convention, but the real gains have come within the past few days. Was it the stupid bear ads, John Droney's foot in mouth, or yesterday's indorsement by George Jepsen?

Whatever it was, Intrade sees Lamont now as having at least a 20% chance of winning the primary. On the more reasonable assumption that, having beaten Lieberman in the primary, Lamont has at least a 50-50 chance in the general, we can impute that Lamont has at least a 40% chance of winning this primary.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

The Bear 

Atrios links to this story by Paul Bass in the New Haven Independent about Lieberman's new bear ad. As Bass notes, the history here is that back in 1988, Lieberman produced ads that mocked Weicker as a big fat lazy bear who had missed a lot of votes in the Senate. Now he's reminding us of that ad to suggest that Lamont is just a tool of Weicker's long-awaited revenge against Lieberman for beating him (since Weicker is still too lazy to run himself).

There's a little problem with this strategy, in my opinion. You see, in between Weicker losing that election as a Republican and now, things happened. Weicker formed "A Connecticut Party", ran for governor, won, and was extremely popular. While people outside of Connecticut may not be as much on top of that period of history (since most of what Weicker did--like instituting a state income tax, which was much needed and which only he could do), my guess is that people in Connecticut remember it pretty fondly--especially when compared to Weicker's successor, a Republican criminal. And I'm guessing there are quite a few people in Connecticut who (like me) bitterly regret their support for Lieberman in 1988 and have very warm, fond, nostalgic feelings for that old bear of a Weicker... And who say, well, if Lamont's his cub, I'm for Lamont.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Schumer's a Complete Tool 

We already suspected this from previous things he'd said, but according to this item at Raw Story, Schumer is now suggesting that the DSCC might continue to back Lieberman over Lamont even if Lieberman leaves the Democratic party.
Schumer said that the DSCC "fully supports" Sen. Joe Lieberman in his primary bid, and he refused to rule out continuing that support if Lieberman were to run as an independent.

There were degrees of independence, Schumer said. "You can run as an independent, you can run as an independent Democrat who pledges to vote for Harry Reid as Majority Leader."*
With that level of commitment to real Democrats, my (measly) contribution dollars won't be going to the DSCC this cycle, that's for sure.

* Just out of curiosity, does anyone know if the DSCC provided funding for Jeffords once he became an independent and supported the Dem leadership?

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Don't Call it Delivering Justice 

On the way into the office this morning, I heard about the airstrike that killed Zarqawi. They played Bush's statement about it, in which he said,
special operation forces, acting on tips and intelligence from Iraqis, confirmed Zarqawi's location, and delivered justice to the most wanted terrorist in Iraq.
Killing Zarqawi may have been a justified act of war, but I wish we could reserve talking about "delivering justice" for cases in which we actually try someone in a court of law.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

How upset should we feel about Francine Busby faling to win Duke Cunningham's seat in a very conservative California congressional district? Tradesports says our chances of retaking the House dropped from about 55% to even money. That sounds about right in terms of magnitude of shift, though I'm still not as optimistic as the market overall....

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Harder Than I Thought 

(Please let me know in the comments where I've gone totally wrong here, but....)

Diane points out the rather odd fact that the same poll that found Shrub to be the worst President of the last 61 years also found Reagan to be the best. At first I thought Reagan's selection was just historical ignorance; best and worst polls tend to be dominated by recent figures.

But the last 61 year time frame actually makes this one rather tricky, by excluding Washington, Lincoln, and FDR, who who usually dominate best President lists. Here are the 11 choices in chronological order:

Truman
Eisenhower
Kennedy
Johnson
Nixon
Ford
Carter
Reagan
Bush
Clinton
Shrub

Who do you think is the best President on that list? I can think of something seriously wrong with each of their presidencies, so no choice would be without regrets. Where does one even start?

To tame the task a bit, I tried to break them down into three categories:

Generally Successful
Truman
Kennedy
Clinton

Caretakers (or, First, Do No Harm)
Eisenhower
Ford
Bush

Miserable Failures
Johnson
Nixon
Carter
Shrub

I think those are fairly non-controversial, though one could make a case for putting Ike or Ford into the generally successful category. But where does Reagan go? Diane argues persuasively that he's close to the worst modern President. At the same time, while we can disagree about how much credit he deserves, he was an highly popular two-term President who presided over a booming economy and major foreign policy successes, and I am influenced by Joshua Green's Reagan's Liberal Legacy, which argues not that Reagan governed as a liberal, but that he governed as a realist, which often entailed embracing or advancing liberal objectives. It is precisely that willingness to change his stripes in response to reality that saved Reagan from the unending series of disasters foisted upon us by the current administration. I punted and put him in the middle.

Once we have the tiers, the sorting becomes a bit easier, though it's still not always obvious who goes where.

1. Clinton. Really? The continually frustrating, disappointing, and downright perjuring Clinton first? The signer of welfare reform and DOMA first? Through the force of his personality, Clinton held the finger in the dike for eight years against an enormously well-funded and determined vast right wing conspiracy, leading to unprecedented peace and prosperity, standing abroad, balanced budgets, and a commitment to good government reflected in generally qualified and diverse appointments (see FEMA).

2. Truman. The only person ever to authorize the use of atomic weapons against civilians. See what I mean about everyone on the list having some serious negatives? The controversy of the use of atomic weapons still rages and, while I have not read the most recent scholarship on the subject, my inclination is to view this as an incredibly difficult decision to make under extreme circumstances, as to which reasonable people may differ, and passionately so. So I held that to the side and picked Truman second based on integrating the military, the United Nations, and the Marshall Plan.

3. Kennedy. Short presidency, foot dragging on civil rights, Bay of Pigs.... Kennedy's trump card is his masterful handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Saving the world gets you a lot of points in my book. For what it's worth, I don't blame him for Vietnam....

4. Eisenhower. Peace and prosperity, including ending the Korean War. One could make essentially the same arguments for Ike as for Clinton and put him as high as 2 on the list. Still, he wasted 8 years of prosperity while poverty and racism went unaddressed, and he was too slow to respond to McCarthyism. The interstate highway system was his great accomplishment, but it has mortally wounded cities, especially minority communities, and foolishly lashed us to foreign oil by favoring the car over the train.

5. Reagan. A reasonable person might put him anywhere from 1 to 11, but I will try to hold my enormous political disagreements with him to the side and give him his fair share of the credit for economic growth and the collapse of Communism. He did win two landslides and leave office amazingly popular. O'Connor, Scalia, and Kennedy (plus elevating Rehnquist) -- not great, but could be worse (and, of course, would have been if he'd gotten Bork).

6. Ford. Honorably managed the post-Watergate stump of Nixon's term. Would be a Democrat today.

7. Bush. Souter and Thomas -- that about sums up the Jeckyl and Hyde nature of the Bush presidency. The corrupt crony capitalism and pandering to the right of the current administration were already present in embryonic form, but they were balanced by some actual interest in governing (increasing taxes when revenues fell, enforcing the antitrust laws that Reagan had let grow fallow). Ably handled the first Gulf War, including especially (a) obtaining broad international support, and (b) knowing when to stop....

8. Carter. An honorable man, I'm sure; he might rank first if we judged presidents by what they hoped to accomplish. But remember stagflation? Presided over the worst economy of the post-war era. Absolute bungling of Iran led to repurcussions we're still living with today (not to mention leading to Ronald Reagan and the Republican "revolution"). (Of course, we can throw some of that blame Ike's way too.)

9. Johnson. Civil rights, the war on poverty, appointed Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court. He deserves a lot of credit for that, but his legacy can never get past Vietnam. Vietnam was, until the current administration, the worst foreign policy disaster in American history. By the time it was over, 50,000 Americans and millions of Vietnamese were dead, as was the hope of fighting a real war on poverty for at least another generation.

10. Nixon. We went to China, but he also went to Cambodia, and was this close to escalating to nuclear war. He pioneered the "southern strategy" of appealing to racists in the South that continues to dominate our politics. Ultimately, though there were some accomplishments, he was a crook....

11. Shrub. Honestly, this is not even close. The only person on this list I can't think of a single good thing to say about or a single accomplishment to point to. The Iraq War has been a disaster of at least Vietnam-like proportions. The handling of the economy has been historically bad. The corruption and pandering to extremists of various stripes are also historically bad. What's depressing is that his legacy may get much, much worse as we live with the consequences....

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