The Self Made Pundit
Tuesday, November 06, 2012
SAY GOODBYE TO ROMNEY 9.0 (OR WHATEVER VERSION HE'S UP TO NOW)
I’m feeling pretty good this election day.
Good enough to blog!
My election day prediction, a personal tradition since my tour-de-force forecast of a McGovern victory in 1972 (I've tweaked my forecasting model a bit since then), is for a comfortable Obama victory.
Virtually all the polls of Ohio have Obama winning (by margins of between 1 and 6%), which is probably enough to guarantee him the necessary 270 electoral votes. I don’t expect Ohio to be particularly close, so I actually think Obama will be called the winner after the polls close out west, sometime before midnight. Obama also has done well in the latest polls of the other swing states. Besides Ohio, I think Obama will definitely win Penn. (not really a swing state), NH, Iowa, Wis., CO and Nevada, and will probably also win VA. While I’m counting FL and NC for Romney, I think Obama has a decent shot at winning FL and an outside shot at winning NC. So my best guess is that Obama is reelected with an Electoral College margin of at least 303 to 235 (as compared to his 365 to 173 victory in 2008).
I also doubt that there will be an electoral college-popular vote split as some pundits have been suggesting. Obama’s ticked up a bit in the latest national polls (Maybe Sandy was good for something!), which basically range from Romney ahead by 1 to Obama ahead by 4. These, however, are polls of likely voters; Obama does a bit better among all registered voters. The actual result usually lies somewhere between the likely and registered voter poll results. So, I’ll go out on a limb and predict Obama wins with a national popular vote margin of between 3 and 5 points.
I’ll also predict the Dems gain a net two seats in the Senate for a 55-45 margin and gain 15 seats in the House to end up on the short side of a 227-208 margin.
Come Wednesday morning, Romney can go back to one of his homes in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Michigan, Utah or California. Or he can visit his money in the Cayman Islands.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
THE REPUBLICAN RACE IN A WINGNUTSHELL
Regardless of whether the Republicans nominate Senator Man On Dog or Governor Dog On Car, they’re likely to find out in November that they’ve brought a dog to a horse race.
Recent polls have indicated that the more voters learn about Romney, the less they like him. As a virtual unknown nationally, Santorum’s attracting the support of the idealized generic Republican right now. It won’t last. Even if Santorum can survive the tons of money that Romney will dump on him in the next few weeks, Santorum is also likely to be rejected once voters learn who he is.
Santorum has a long history of saying insane things, from courting war with the theocracy in Iran to flirting with a theocracy in the U.S.
Obama’s looking pretty good right now.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
MUDDLED MODERATES MIRED IN MORASS OF THEIR OWN MAKING
It seems hard to believe that any Democratic partisan would take issue with President Obama's seeking to energize the Democratic base for the midterm elections.
Yet that is exactly what some self-styled "moderate" Democrats are doing.
Today's New York Times carries the mostly unremarkable story that President Obama is "is increasingly focused on generating enthusiasm within the base that helped put him in the White House two years ago, from college students to African-Americans."
What is remarkable about the story, however, is the reported response of a group of moderate Democrats who fear that Obama is seeking to energize liberals into voting:
But the White House strategy has generated qualms among some Democratic moderates.
Third Way, an organization of centrist Democrats, produced a study showing that liberals are the smallest share of the electorate and not enough to keep Congress in Democratic hands. Citing Gallup polling data, the study said self-described conservatives made up 42 percent of the electorate, compared with moderates who make up 35 percent and liberals who make up 20 percent, a shift of several points to the right in the last two years.
These muddled moderates are mired in a morass of their own making. Mobilizing the base is a no-brainer.
The way to mobilize the base is talk up the substantial accomplishments the Obama administration has achieved to improve the life of everyday Americans, and Obama's ongoing fight against the Republicans who seek to block efforts to restore the economy for their own political gain. And guess what? This is likely to appeal to all Obama voters -- who outnumbered McCain voters by a 53 to 46 percent margin.
What these self-styled "moderate" Democrats don't realize is that most voters who consider themselves moderates are more interested in results, not ideology. When you talk about fighting to improve the lives of these voters, you are more likely to turn them on -- not off -- regardless of whether the fight is for a liberal or a conservative solution.
Moderate voters are not primarily interested in labels. By focusing on labels, these moderate Democrats of the Third Way show that if there is one thing they don't understand, it's moderate voters.
Monday, October 04, 2010
CHRISTINE O'DONNELL REVEALED AS CURRENT MEMBER OF CULT
It turns out that Christine O'Donnell's past flings with witchcraft and Hare Krishnas were just the prelude to her joining a bizarre anti-rationalism cult.
The Self Made Pundit has learned that there is documentary evidence that years ago O'Donnell joined -- and never left -- a mystical cult that is based on magical beliefs. This revelation could prove fatal to her bid to become a U.S. Senator from Delaware, for she is still a member of this strange sect and would presumably seek to advance its retrograde agenda.
This anti-rationalism cult is based on many eccentric beliefs that involve magical thinking, denials of science and outright delusions. For example, these cultists have magical beliefs, apparently based on alchemy, that tax cuts will increase government revenues. They deny a host of scientific findings, from climate change to evolution. And they have myriad delusions, such as that health care reform will usher in a reign of non-existent death panels.
The followers of this cult seek to return to a simpler time before progressive taxation and the Age of Enlightenment, though there appears to be some disagreement as to whether the 15th or the 16th Century is the ideal.
The leaders of this cult are mostly charlatans and quacks seeking to separate the gullible from their dollars and votes. These leaders include a grifter from Alaska, who couldn't manage working at an honest job, various radio pitchmen for bile-based panaceas and behind-the-scenes billionaires in a never ending quest to game the system.
We can expect that the focus on O'Donnell's past experimentations will fade away now that it has been revealed that she currently belongs to this bizarre cult that seeks to impose an anti-rationalist and reactionary agenda on America.
Saturday, October 02, 2010
WHAT TIME IS IT?
That was some nap. Gotta stop having two bowls of pasta and half a six-pack for a snack.
Well, it's back to blogging.
Did I miss much? What's President Bush's latest outrage?
Thursday, November 09, 2006
RUMSFELD BLUNDERS INTO THE TRUTH
In his joint appearance with President Bush and his designated replacement, Bob Gates, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld might have unintentionally identified one of the main obstacles America is facing in the Iraq war. He described the war as a "little-understood, unfamiliar war, the first war of the 21st century -- it is not well-known, it was not well-understood; it is complex for people to comprehend."
While Rumsfeld's condescending remark was probably directed at the American public, it was unintentionally the truth since the war in Iraq is not well-understood by certain people. Unfortunately, those people include Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.
It has long been obvious that Iraq is either in a state of civil war or on the verge of civil war. As the Washington Post reported back in August (some thousands of deaths ago), top U.S. generals reported to Congress that Iraq was sliding into civil war.
"The sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it," Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. military operations in the Middle East, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "If not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war."
The concept that a country is at civil war when it is plagued by armed groups that are slaughtering their countrymen by the thousands is apparently too complex for Bush to understand. As Bush said at yesterday's appearance with Rumsfeld and Gates, "you hear all the time, well, this may be a civil war. Well, I don't believe it is …."
With Rumsfeld leaving his post, perhaps the chances for the Bush administration to comprehend the Iraq war increased marginally. Unfortunately, the man in charge continues to be Bush, who continually fails to understand anything that does not conform to his preconceptions (or what Cheney tells him).
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
ADVICE FOR MY REPUBLICAN FRIENDS
Well, that was a nice election for once.
While I am pleased that the Democrats won a big victory in Tuesday's election, I am concerned about my Republican friends. Will they be at a loss this week, wondering how to react to such a devastating electoral loss?
In a spirit of graciousness, I would like to offer some advice to the Republicans. As a Democrat, I think I can speak with some authority about how to respond to a big electoral loss.
The first thing you should do (after sobering up) is replay the campaign of every heart-breaking close electoral defeat of the Republicans in your head. Now, this might sound like wallowing in self-pity, and it is. However, engaging in such an analysis also helps you to learn from your mistakes. It is only by analyzing your close losses that you can identify the one or two things your candidates could have done differently to have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Armed with such knowledge, you'll be better prepared to win next time.
Consider the three razor-thin losses that will apparently cost the Republicans the Senate. Republican Senators Jim ("No") Talent of Missouri, George ("Gracie") Allen of Virginia and Conrad ("Montgomery") Burns of Montana all had moments in their campaigns when a different word or act might have made a difference.
Perhaps Senator No Talent would have won if Rush Limbaugh had been less restrained in mocking the effects of Parkinson's disease that Michael J. Fox exhibited in the campaign commercial for Democrat Claire McCaskill. If Limbaugh had not merely imitated Fox's tremors, but had thrown himself from his chair and thrashed around the floor for 30 minutes, perhaps that would have been more entertaining to the dim-witted sadists whose votes the Republicans were apparently seeking.
Senator Gracie Allen would probably have won his race if he just hadn't called that dark-skinned campaign worker of his opponent, Jim Webb, "Macaca." The insult "Macaca" might have been too exotic for Allen's usual voters, making Allen sound effete and French. If only he could have thought of some other, more-recognized, slur. Maybe he should have tried the successful approach of Bob Corker, the Republican Senator-elect of Tennessee, and asked the dark-skinned young man if he had come to Virginia to look for white women.
And then there's the heart-breaking apparent loss of Senator Monty Burns by some 1,500 votes. Perhaps voters were turned off by his gaffes, including insulting out-of-state firefighters who had come to Montana's aid as lazy, and claiming that President Bush has a secret plan to end the war in Iraq. The first gaffe made him seem mean, and the second made him seem clueless. By contrast, if Burns had claimed that Bush had a secret plan to send brave out-of-state firefighters to put out the fire in Iraq, Burns would have come off as far more credible. Given the strategic prowess demonstrated by Bush, such a claim might even have been true.
Engaging in such hypotheticals should be fairly easy for my Republican friends given their experience in pretending that Bush is not an incompetent and corrupt president. None of these hypotheticals reaches the heights of unreality of their deranged fantasy that Bush has the brains and judgment to run a government and direct a war.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
MY PREDICTIONS FOR 2006
The Self Made Pundit's election predictions have been famous ever since his collgege days, when he wrote his "A" paper, "Why McGovern Will Win the Election," in November 1972. (It probably helped that my teacher was a former aide to LBJ.)
For 2006, the Self Made Pundit is predicting an even better night for Democrats than the McGovern presidential election. In fact, I think the Democrats will have their best year since the 1974 Watergate landslide.
I predict the Democrats will win 45 seats in the House for a whopping 248 to 187 majority, six seats in the Senate (gaining PA, OH, MT, RI, VA and MO, while losing none) for a razor-thin 51 to 49 majority and seven governorships for a 29 to 21 majority.
While the actual results might vary, I feel confident of at least two results -- my own reelection as trustee of my small village (running unopposed helps) and the election of more than 218 Democrats to the House for their first majority since the 1994 election. I believe it was Abe Lincoln who said, you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool most of the people in 218 congressional districts after six years of misgovernance by the corrupt and the insane.
Don't forget to vote.
Monday, November 06, 2006
A LIFE-LONG DEMOCRAT PONDERS VOTING REPUBLICAN IN 2006
Although I am a life-long Democrat, I must admit there are reasons for voting Republican this year.
Can it truly be said that Bush and his enablers in the Republican Congress have failed to deliver on all of their promises of the past six years? Let's review the successes of the Bush administration and see if they justify voting Republican in this mid-term election to strengthen Bush's hand at reshaping America.
Consider Bush's promise to improve education with his No Child Left Behind initiative. True, the Bush administration has not increased funding to improve education. Yet every schoolchild in America (not to mention the Mideast) has been given the opportunity to become a nuclear scientist by the Bush administration's decision to post millions of pages of captured documents from Iraq -- including Nuclear weapons plans -- on the internet.
I don't see how there can be any serious argument that Bush has kept his promise to export American values. Bush and his Congress have worked tirelessly to ship cherished American values -- such open trials, court-ordered wiretaps and a rejection of torture -- out of this country. Though I suppose one might quibble with Bush's usual inapt phrasing, saying "export," when he meant "deport."
Bush has not forgotten his promise to keep America safe. Has anything threatened the American way of life more than the cultural revolution, which had its roots in decadent Jazz music, which was born in New Orleans? Thanks to Bush's not letting Hurricane Katrina interrupt his vacation last year, America no longer needs to fear that New Orleans will give birth to any new form of syncopated music threatening to our traditional values.
I also think that Bush and his allies in Congress should be given credit for their fiscal discipline. Bush and his Republican Congress have controlled the many urges to balance the federal budget that went unchecked in the Clinton years.
Bush certainly displayed his famous resoluteness following his announcement that he wanted Osama bin Laden dead or alive. Concluding that such ambiguity was not his style, Bush obviously decided that he wanted bin Laden alive and did everything he could to follow through on that decision, from refusing to send troops into Tora Bora to get bin Laden to shifting our focus from getting bin Laden to Iraq.
We should also give Bush his due for fulfilling his campaign promises for Iraq. No one can deny that Bush's policies in Iraq have lived up to his statement in the 2000 presidential elections that he was against nation-building.
And what about achieving victory for coalition forces in Iraq? While some might question the wisdom of Bush's obvious decision to partner with Chaos in Iraq, there's no arguing with success. From invading with neither a game plan for reconstruction nor sufficient troops to pacify the country to retaining the incompetent architects (Cheney and Rumsfeld) of a bungled foreign policy, Bush has brought Chaos to the edge of victory in Iraq.
As a fair-minded voter, I think all American voters should consider the merits of voting Republican this year to endorse these policies and encourage Bush to be Bush for another two years.
I know that given the reasons to vote Republican this year, even a die-hard Democrat like myself will be undecided as I walk into that voting booth.
Do I vote with glee at repudiating the incompetence, corruption and mendacity of the Bush administration or with sadness at how much Bush has succeeded in making this country a banana republic?
It's a tough choice this election year.
Monday, December 05, 2005
BUSH'S "NEW" IRAQ STRATEGY IS NOTHING MORE THAN CHEERLEADING
President Bush's recent Iraq war strategy speech may have been a disappointment to those who were hoping for something substantive, but it now appears that such expectations were unrealistic.
I confess that I was one of those who was disappointed by Bush's speech on Wednesday and the accompanying 35-page strategy document entitled National Strategy For Victory In Iraq. Neither the speech nor the strategy document gives any sign of changing our bumbling approach in Iraq.
Admittedly, though, part my disappointment was due to my originally mistaking a web page that summarized the classic science fiction film Plan Nine From Outer Space for a summary of Bush's plan. After realizing my mistake, I reviewed Bush's actual strategy document, which contained nothing as bold (or even as connected to reality) as Plan Nine's strategy for zombie warfare orchestrated by grave robbers from outer space.
Bush's actual speech and strategy document struck me as little more than Bush returning to his cheerleading roots and shouting V Is For Victory. News reports about the purpose of the speech, however, indicate that the speech and strategy document were not intended to be anything other than cheerleading.
We should not be surprised that Bush's speech and the strategy document that was released with the speech did not present any new substantive approach. As The New York Times reported on Sunday, Bush's new strategy is nothing more than a public relations offensive:
There could be no doubt about the theme of President Bush's Iraq war strategy speech on Wednesday at the Naval Academy. He used the word victory 15 times in the address; "Plan for Victory" signs crowded the podium he spoke on; and the word heavily peppered the accompanying 35-page National Security Council document titled, "Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."
Although White House officials said many federal departments had contributed to the document, its relentless focus on the theme of victory strongly reflected a new voice in the administration: Peter D. Feaver, a Duke University political scientist who joined the N.S.C. staff as a special adviser in June and has closely studied public opinion on the war.
Despite the president's oft-stated aversion to polls, Dr. Feaver was recruited after he and Duke colleagues presented the administration with an analysis of polls about the Iraq war in 2003 and 2004. They concluded that Americans would support a war with mounting casualties on one condition: that they believed it would ultimately succeed.
That finding, which is questioned by other political scientists, was clearly behind the victory theme in the speech and the plan, in which the word appears six times in the table of contents alone, including sections titled "Victory in Iraq is a Vital U.S. Interest" and "Our Strategy for Victory is Clear."
The role of Dr. Feaver in preparing the strategy document came to light through a quirk of technology. In a portion of the document usually hidden from public view but accessible with a few keystrokes, the plan posted on the White House Web site showed the document's originator, or "author" in the software's designation, to be "feaver-p."
Thus, it appears that the strategy showcased by Bush's speech and the accompanying strategy document was actually a strategy to win the war for public opinion -- not to win the war in Iraq. As The New York Times reported:
"This is not really a strategy document from the Pentagon about fighting the insurgency," said Christopher F. Gelpi, Dr. Feaver's colleague at Duke and co-author of the research on American tolerance for casualties. "The Pentagon doesn't need the president to give a speech and post a document on the White House Web site to know how to fight the insurgents. The document is clearly targeted at American public opinion."
So, perhaps to be fair to the Bush administration, we should not criticize his V Is For Victory speech and strategy document for failing to set forth any new approach for winning the war in Iraq. That is not what they were intended to do. Instead, we should judge the speech and document for what they were designed to do -- to fool us into thinking victory is just around the corner.
Judged on these terms, Bush's V Is For Victory speech and strategy document may not prove totally unsuccessful. Making fools of people that take it seriously is one of the few abilities that the Bush administration excels in.
I know that I, for one, feel foolish having searched through Bush's speech and strategy document looking for signs of a new strategy in Iraq.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
BUSH’S PLAN NINE FOR IRAQ
While I have previously counted myself among the skeptics of Bush's incompetent bungling of the war in Iraq, Bush's new strategic plan for victory has convinced me.
As today's New York Times reports, Bush laid out his new plan for victory in a speech he gave yesterday and in a 35-page strategy document that was released a few hours earlier.
To those who view Bush's new plan as an overhyped repackaging of the same platitudes and rhetoric masquerading as a policy that has left us floundering after two and a half years of war, I say that is an understatement.
We can now count ourselves among those generations of Americans that have had the honor of witnessing historic statements of American principles. Americans of yesteryear were privileged to witness the Monroe Doctrine, Wilson's Fourteen Points, FDR's Atlantic Charter, Truman's Marshall Plan. But we are more blessed for we have witnessed a foreign policy statement more bold, breathtaking and even visionary than any of these statements: Bush's Plan Nine For Victory In Iraq.
Bush's bold new strategy for victory in Iraq can only be truly appreciated when viewed in the context of Bush's first eight disastrous Plans For Victory In Iraq.
Plan One was to invade Iraq with far fewer troops than military experts said were needed to pacify the country and see what happened. This was Bush's Roll The Dice Plan For Victory In Iraq.
Plan Two was to stop fighting, sit back, wait for the resulting looting and anarchy to stop and then be greeted with flowers as liberators. This was Bush's Stop And Smell The Flowers Plan For Victory In Iraq.
Plan Three was to administer Iraq with the same sense of civic responsibility that motivates the Bush administration's governance of our own country by giving away multi-million dollar no-bid contracts to Halliburton and friends, hiring incompetent cronies and ignoring approaching chaos until it was too late. This was Bush's Katrina Plan For Victory In Iraq.
Plan Four was for Bush to bravely dare Iraqis to attack our armed forces. This was Bush's Bring It On Plan For Victory In Iraq.
Plan Five was to announce the openings of schools as the real benchmark for success in war. This was Bush's Back to School Plan For Victory In Iraq.
Plan Six was to adopt a policy that torture was permitted and then act surprised when torture and death squads resulted. This was Bush's Let Cheney And Rumsfeld Be Cheney And Rumsfeld Plan For Victory In Iraq.
Plan Seven was to deny reality by declaring we're winning as the death toll mounts and heralding Iraq as a beacon of democracy that will usher in a new age of peace and freedom in the Middle East. This was Bush's Clap Harder for Tinkerbell Plan For Victory In Iraq.
Plan Eight was to declare all-out war against critics of the ineptitude and mendacity of the administration's Iraq policy through such tactics as outing covert CIA agents married to critics and calling critics cowards and traitors even if they're war veterans. This was Bush's Slime And Defend Plan For Victory In Iraq.
In light of the disastrous results of Bush's first eight Plans For Victory In Iraq, I confess that I at first doubted that Bush's Plan Nine For Victory In Iraq would provide any realistic assessment of the situation or strategy for concluding the war. But when I googled Plan Nine and found this page summarizing Bush's Plan Nine, I was astounded by the brilliance and sheer audacity of the plan.
According to this summary, under Bush's Plan Nine, America has apparently recruited aliens from outer space to join the coalition of the willing. Taking Cheney's and Rumsfeld's no-holds barred approach to the next level, our allies from outer space will engage in "Unspeakable Horrors," including "Paralyze The Living And Resurrect The Dead!" While obviously short on the technical details of this ground-breaking approach to warfare, the summary of Plan Nine does reveal that the our alien allies will be immediately deployed to Iraq to "resurrect dead humans as zombies and vampires to stop human kind from creating the Solaranite (a sort of sun-driven bomb)."
Plan Nine also sets forth the most coherent explanation to date of the reason why we had to invade Iraq. Although Iraq may not have had the weapons of mass destruction the Bush administration implied threatened America, Iraq could have developed this Solaranite bomb.
As a scientific advisor to the Bush administration official explains in an appendix to Plan Nine, if Iraq had developed a Solaranite bomb, it could have exploded sunlight itself with the following apocalyptic results: "Explode the sunlight here and a chain reaction will occur direct to the sun itself and to all the planets that sunlight touches, to every planet in the universe." Bush's scientific advisor leaves no doubt about the consequences we could have been facing if Saddam had remained in power free to develop this ultimate weapon of mass destruction: "Explode the sunlight here, gentlemen, you explode the universe."
Plan Nine presents the best rationale for Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq. Who can blame the Bush administration for not waiting for a smoking gun in the form of an exploding universe?!
While Bush has had a shaky start in his first 58 months as president, I think he is finally getting the hang of this presidency thing. Plan Nine is without a doubt far better reasoned and grounded in reality than any other policy -- either foreign or domestic -- of the entire Bush administration.
UPDATE: I may owe the Bush administration an apology. Reliable sources tell me that the summary page for Plan Nine that I found actually summarizes Plan Nine From Outer Space, the ludicrous 1959 science fiction film that some rank as the worst film of all time.
Upon reflection, I don't know how I could have confused Plan Nine From Outer Space with Bush's Plan Nine For Victory In Iraq. I should have realized I had stumbled upon the wrong plan since Plan Nine From Outer Space has no clear statement how to achieve victory in Iraq and does not even acknowledge one of the biggest problems we must confront -- that the presence of American troops in Iraq is actually fueling the insurgency.
If I have unfairly compared Bush's Iraq policy with the worst science fiction film ever, I apologize. I'll take another stab at finding Bush's Plan Nine For Victory In Iraq on the internet.
SECOND UPDATE: I found another document on the internet claiming to be Bush's new plan, entitled National Strategy For Victory In Iraq. Despite the official-sounding title, this document also seems suspect to me since it has neither a clear statement of how to achieve victory nor any acknowledgment that the presence of American troops is fueling the insurgency. Moreover, unlike Plan Nine From Outer Space, this purported new plan for victory doesn't even set forth any new approaches.
I confess, I can't tell which plan is the better representation of the strategic thinking of the Bush administration. I may owe an apology to Ed Wood, director of Plan Nine From Outer Space, and, perhaps, the architect of Bush's Iraq policy.
Monday, September 05, 2005
WE INTERRUPT THIS SERIES ON BUSH TO ASK FOR KATRINA RELIEF DONATIONS
As my regular readers (yes, both of you) know, I've been working hard since November 4, 2004, on my series on the strengths of the Bush administration.
As you can see from my posts of the past 10 months, every day I have written on each positive aspect of the Bush administration that I could think of. Unfortunately, this meant writing absolutely nothing at all.
While some might consider this series to among my best (or at the least the most succinct), I am reluctantly ending it to focus on something of greater import.
Thanks to the most incompetent and uncaring presidential administration ever, Hurricane Katrina was not just a natural disaster, it was a national disgrace. We should all do whatever we can to help out.
Regardless of whether you are one of my regulars checking back to see if there is anything new or whether you have blundered onto this blog through some random Google search, view it as an opportunity to take advantage of the one thing I have done on my blog this year -- inserting the ad for Hurricane Katrina relief to the left.
I was the first to donate to the Red Cross through that ad. You, dear reader, could be the second.
And check back. My conscience might even get me to blogging regularly again to generate some traffic to that ad.
Update [11/15/05]: The Katrina relief ad that was to the left has been removed due to the discontinuance of that campaign. But don't let that stop you from contributing directly to the Red Cross or other relief agencies.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
A TIME TO REFLECT ON THE STRENGTHS OF DEMOCRACY AND BUSH
Now that the one of the most contentious presidential elections of recent times is over, it is time for all pundits (even self made ones) to muse about the strengths of democracy and the potential for Bush to learn from his mistakes and have a successful second term.
Bush's victory in this presidential election should remind us just how strong our democracy is. Few democracies have been as successful as America has in producing leaders that are truly representative of its people. Thus, our presidents have run the gamut from noble statesmen to small-minded hacks, from capable administrators to irresponsible bumblers, from honest men of integrity to deceitful charlatans. Seeing Bush elected to a second term has reminded me how America has been strong enough to survive the misrule of the mendacious and the incompetent throughout its history. I am hopeful that we will see an even greater example of the strength of America's democracy after Bush completes his second term.
Discussing how Bush has the potential to make America peaceful, secure, prosperous and united is a more difficult task given that his policies to date have achieved the opposite in each case. Difficult or not, the Self Made Pundit is willing to consider the strengths of the Bush administration.
While the Self Made Pundit has been critical of Bush at times, the Self Made Pundit has also applauded Bush every single time that he has deserved such praise in his administration.
Now that Bush has won a second term, we should be fair-minded and consider what strengths Bush has and how those strengths give him the opportunity to improve life in America and the rest of the world. In this spirit, I will devote the remainder of this column to discussing Bush's positive qualities of leadership and all of the reasons to hope that Bush's second term will be an improvement on his first:
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
FOUR MORE YEARS OF MISRULE AT THE DOORSTEP
What can I say the morning after President Bush appears to have won over the majority of American voters?
I don't know how so many people could have voted for the worst president ever.
I think you have to live in a fantasy world not to realize that among the 43 U.S. presidents, George W. Bush is without a doubt one of the most dishonest (probably the most dishonest but I don't want to slight Nixon) and the most incompetent (Buchanan merely let the country slide into the Civil War, Bush pushed us into the Iraq quagmire).
Perhaps Bush's fantasy world is such a pleasant place that voters decided to join him there. To give President Bush his due, the fantasy world he has created is much better than the reality he has given us. The fantasy of a resolute leader is so much more pleasant than the reality of an unnecessary war incompetently handled, decreasing employment, increasing poverty and exploding deficits.
So, should Senator Kerry meekly accept the results and concede? Not if he wants to remain a member of good standing in the reality-based community.
My radical advice is that we try something different this presidential election and not declare a winner until all the voters have been counted. All of the thousands of provisional ballots in Ohio should be counted and, if there are meritorious grounds, there should also be a recount.
If America is strong enough to withstand four years of misrule by President Bush, it can withstand a few days or even weeks of uncertainty about the outcome of the presidential race.
While I put the chances of Kerry somehow gaining the lead in Ohio at only slightly less than 1%, I think Kerry should not concede and should go down fighting for the last vote. Considering the Bush crew's history of underhanded campaign tactics, the results in Ohio cry out be checked. There should be no concession by Kerry until every vote has been counted and, if warranted, there has been a recount.
I'm wondering what Kerry could have done differently to have won it last night. I think Kerry might have made it if only he had emphasized the issue of traffic. It worked for me -- that's the issue I emphasized in my successful campaign to be elected to the board of trustees that governs the small village in which I live.
Barring a miracle in Ohio, here's to four more years of being ruled by a demented monkey. Just to be clear, that's a reference to Bush, not me. My term is only two years.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
KERRY'S THE ONE
While the Self Made Pundit has unfortunately been too busy (with work and his own campaign at the local level) to do much blogging of late, there's always time for wild speculation!
Using the most advanced techniques of psephology (in other words, hunches based on decades of obsessing about elections), the Self Made Pundit is ready to call the election for Kerry.
The polls out yesterday mostly showed a swing to Kerry. Fox (!) had Kerry going from a 5 pt. deficit to a tie Suday to a 2 pt. lead yesterday. Gallup, which gave Bush a 5 pt. lead last week is now calling it 49-49 among likely voters and Kerry ahead by 2 among registered voters. I continue to believe that the likely voter models are going to be less reliable than registered voter surveys this year due to the Democrats' successes in registering and getting ticked off at Bush.
My final prediction (unless I change my mind this afternoon) is that Kerry wins by more than 4 pts, with the breakdown something like this:
Kerry: 51.2% with 316 Electoral Votes (Gore states plus OH, FL, NH, NV)
Bush: 47.0% with 222 Electoral Votes
Nader & others: 1.8%
I view Congress as a little trickier to predict with the size of Kerry's victory determining the final outcome:
Senate: Democratic net gain of 1 or 2
House: Democratic net gain of 8 to 14
I can't believe that unprecedented numbers of voters have been standing in line for hours for four more years of the same incompetence.
Friday, July 30, 2004
KERRY'S SPEECH WAS MERELY GREAT
As a dispassionate and nonpartisan observer of politics, I want to calmly evaluate John Kerry's speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president last night.
So, the question is just how great was Kerry's speech?
Was it (a) the greatest achievement of mankind; (b) the greatest political speech ever given by a presidential candidate; or (c) only great enough to convince undecided voters that Kerry would be vastly superior to the worst president ever?
Being a pundit who strives for balance and objectivity, I think the answer is merely (c). While the speech is likely to advance the cause of mankind by helping to strip Bush of the power to mislead the nation into unnecessary wars, in terms of mankind's achievements the speech definitely takes a back seat to the eradication of smallpox. And while the speech did a superb job of contrasting Kerry's strength and dedication to fighting for average Americans with Bush's dismal record and dedication to fighting for average corporations, Lincoln's speeches have to get the nod.
To be fair to Kerry, however, I have to say it is one of the best political speeches I have heard in my lifetime. The speech showed that Kerry has the potential not just to defeat the worst president ever but also to lead and to inspire.
Heck, the speech was even great enough to call this wayward blogger back into action to point out the mendacity, hypocrisy, incompetence and sheer stupidity of the Bush administration for the duration of the campaign.
The Self Made Pundit reporting for duty, sir.
Thursday, April 29, 2004
THE PECULIAR RULES OF THE BUSH AND CHENEY INTERVIEW
As President Bush and Vice President Cheney make their unusual joint appearance before the commission investigating the September 11, 2001, attacks today, the commission’s efforts to get at the truth will be complicated by the peculiar rules that Bush has placed on the interview.
These rules have more to do with saving Bush from embarrassment than anything else.
In one of the most pathetic implicit admissions of incompetence ever made by a president, Bush has refused to be interviewed separately, as requested by commission. The restrictions do not end there. Today’s Washington Post notes some of the restrictions demanded by the White House:
The president and vice president agreed to meet privately with the 10-member panel on the condition that they appear together.
The White House will not record or transcribe the interviews .... The Sept. 11 panel is prohibited from recording the interview but will be allowed to have one staffer taking notes.
As The New York Times notes in an editorial today, the rules that Bush is imposing on the commission’s interview of him range from the questionable to the ridiculous:
It would have been a pleasure to be able to congratulate President Bush on his openness in agreeing to sit down today with the independent commission on the 9/11 attacks and answer questions. Unfortunately, Mr. Bush conditioned his cooperation on stipulations that range from the questionable to the ridiculous.
The strangest of the president's conditions is that he will testify only in concert with Vice President Dick Cheney. The White House has given no sensible reason for why Mr. Bush is unwilling to appear alone. (When asked at his recent press conference, the president gave one of his patented nonresponses: "Because it's a good chance for both of us to answer questions that the 9/11 commission is looking forward to asking us, and I'm looking forward to answering them.")
While Bush’s demand to have Cheney at his side is certainly odd, it is debatable whether that is the strangest rule that Bush (Or is it Cheney?) has laid down for the interview. Through contacts at the White House, the Self Made Pundit has obtained the complete list of rules for the Bush and Cheney interview. It appears the Times was underestimating just how peculiar these rules are.
Here is the complete list of The White House's Rules for the September 11 Commission’s Interview of Bush and Cheney:
1. Bush will appear only in the presence of Cheney.
2. If Cheney leaves the room to go to the bathroom, Bush may also leave the room or hide under the table, at his option, until Cheney returns.
3. Bush will not be put under oath to tell the truth.
4. Bush will not be expected to tell the truth.
5. The interview will be private, in a secure White House room behind closed doors.
6. The Commission members may not turn on the light in the room.
7. The Commission members may not turn down the sound on Bush’s stereo, which will have the volume turned to 11.
8. The interview will not be tape-recorded or transcribed.
9. Only one staff member may take notes.
10. The staff member taking notes may not use any mechanical devices, pens or sharpened pencils.
11. While the staff member taking notes may use an unsharpened pencil, he may not use paper.
12. Only commission members – and not the staff – may ask Bush and Cheney questions.
13. Commission members may not ask Bush any questions while Cheney is taking a drink of water.
14. Commission members may not ask Bush any questions that would require him to pronounce the words “strategy,” “nuclear,” “subliminal” or any other word of more than two syllables.
15. Commission members may not ask Bush any hypothetical questions, such as whether his joint appearance with Cheney would be barred under his proposed Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriages.
16. Commission members may not ask Bush any trick questions such as what he knew or did.
17. Commission members may ask Bush what he felt or what was in his heart.
18. Commission members may not ask Bush any personal or embarrassing questions, such as why in August 2001 he took the longest presidential vacation in more than 30 years after receiving numerous warnings of an impending terrorist attack, including a Presidential Daily Briefing memo entitled “Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US” on August 6, 2001.
19. Commission members are requested to act respectfully and remember they are interviewing the president of the United States.
20. Commission members are requested to try not to cry as they look at Bush and remember they are interviewing the president of the United States.
Friday, April 16, 2004
BUSH’S SECRET WAR PLANS SABOTAGED THE WAR ON TERROR
Bob Woodward’s new blockbuster on President Bush’s secret decision soon after the 9/11 attacks to plan for war with Iraq reveals that one of America’s biggest obstacles to winning the war on terror is Bush himself.
Woodward’s new book – “Plan of Attack” – reveals that Bush ordered aides to develop a secret war plan for Iraq in November 2001, at a time when he was neglecting to commit sufficient military forces to crush Al Qaeda and capture or kill Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
Faced with an opportunity to devastate the terrorist group that had murdered some 3,000 people on American soil, Bush got distracted and used the opportunity to settle old scores with Saddam Hussein, a boxed-in and defeated enemy of America. As the Associated Press reports:
President Bush secretly ordered a war plan drawn up against Iraq less than two months after U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan and was so worried the decision would cause a furor he did not tell everyone on his national security team, says a new book on his Iraq policy.
Bush feared that if news got out about the Iraq plan as U.S. forces were fighting another conflict, people would think he was too eager for war, journalist Bob Woodward writes in “Plan of Attack,” a behind-the-scenes account of the 16 months leading to the Iraq invasion.
“I knew what would happen if people thought we were developing a potential war plan for Iraq,” Bush is quoted as telling Woodward. “It was such a high-stakes moment and ... it would look like that I was anxious to go to war. And I'm not anxious to go to war.”
Bush and his aides have denied accusations they were preoccupied with Iraq at the cost of paying attention to the al-Qaida terrorist threat before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. A commission investigating the attacks just concluded several weeks of extraordinary public testimony from high-ranking government officials. One of them, former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke, charged the Bush administration's determination to invade Iraq undermined the war on terror.
Woodward's account fleshes out the degree to which some members of the administration, particularly Vice President Dick Cheney, were focused on Saddam Hussein from the onset of Bush's presidency and even after the terrorist attacks made the destruction of al-Qaida the top priority.
Woodward says Bush pulled Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld aside Nov. 21, 2001 – when U.S. forces and allies were in control of about half of Afghanistan – and asked him what kind of war plan he had on Iraq. When Rumsfeld said it was outdated, Bush told him to get started on a fresh one.
The book says Bush told Rumsfeld to keep quiet about it and when the defense secretary asked to bring CIA Director George Tenet into the planning at some point, the president said not to do so yet.
Even Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was apparently not fully briefed. Woodward said Bush told her that morning he was having Rumsfeld work on Iraq but did not give details.
Bush’s decision to begin preparations for war with Iraq in November 2001 help explain why at that time he did not commit sufficient forces in Afghanistan to crush Al Qaeda and capture or kill bin Laden.
Soon after Bush ordered Rumsfeld to prepare a fresh plan for war with Iraq, America learned in December 2001 that its Afghan allies were fighting Al Qaeda forces – including bin Laden – in the mountains of Tora Bora. Rather than commit sufficient American forces for a decisive victory over Al Qaeda, Bush was content to rely on the local Afghan forces to confront bin Laden and his troops. The result was bin Laden and most of his forces slipped away through the mountains.
It appears that Bush was more concerned with settling old scores in Iraq than in eradicating the Al Qaeda threat slipping away in Afghanistan. Bush may have feared that committing sufficient forces to Afghanistan to finish off Al Qaeda would threaten his desired war with Iraq. Bush’s secret plan for war with Iraq became the enemy to an effective war on terror.
Now, I suppose some people might criticize Bush for deciding to march into a war of choice – not necessity – without first engaging in a national debate about whether such an elective war was in our national interests.
Some people are probably going to criticize Bush for making such decisions without involving his own national security adviser and the director of the CIA in the analysis of whether a war with Iraq was wise.
And there are certainly going to be people criticizing Bush for neglecting to finish off Al Qaeda before tying American forces down in an elective war in Iraq.
But, while I believe Bush has been a miserable failure in the war on terror (not to imply that he has not been a miserable failure in any other area), as an open-minded pundit, I must admit that an argument can be made that such criticisms are unfair.
Perhaps it is unfair to criticize Bush for failing to engage in a national debate on whether to go to war with Iraq. After all, as Bush told Woodward, “I knew what would happen if people thought we were developing a potential war plan for Iraq .... [I]t would look like that I was anxious to go to war. And I'm not anxious to go to war.” So Bush was more interested in his image than in democracy. Is that such a big deal?
It probably is unfair to criticize Bush for not involving the Director of the CIA and his own national security adviser in the analysis of whether a war with Iraq was wise. As the Bush administration’s disastrous and bumbling job in trying to pacify Iraq for the past year demonstrates, Bush never engaged in any lengthy analysis before launching his Iraq adventure. Thus, Tenet and Rice weren’t really excluded from much.
And it is certainly unfair to hold Bush to standards – such as wisdom or even minimal competence – that he could never meet. Bush is an incurious, ignorant ideologue who is incapable of thinking strategically or even considering the likely consequences of his acts.
As Bush himself acknowledged in one of his rambling and evasive responses towards the end of Tuesday night’s presidential press conference, “maybe I’m not as quick on my feet as I should be ....”
I guess Bush must have been on his feet when he decided it was more important to invade a marginalized Iraq than to crush the greatest terrorist threat to America.
Thanks to his secret plan, Bush got his war against Iraq, even if it was at the expense of the war on terror.
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
SCIENTIFIC SUPER TUESDAY PREDICTIONS: A mathematical analysis of my gut feelings leads me to predict a Kerry blowout today with Kerry winning 10 out of 10 states.
Even if -- a big if -- Edwards finishes a close second in one or two states (perhaps GA and/or Minn.), that won't be enough to keep him alive given the likely magnitude of Kerry's victory tonight. The only question is whether Edwards will now admit that he has been eliminated or limp into Southern Super Tuesday next week for another round of punishment.
Since only a fool would predict the general election results this far out, I won't predict the winner of the Kerry-Bush race. However, at this point I actually give a slight edge to Kerry. As a matter of physics, there are only so many lies that the American public can absorb. Fortunately, since Bush ignores the scientific community whenever it says what he doesn't want to hear, he has failed to grasp this elementary scientific principle. I suspect the Bush administration might have pushed its luck and exceeded the saturation point for mendacity a year earlier than they would have liked.
If I were foolhardy, I might even predict that Kerry will win 50% to 48%, taking all the Gore states plus NH, WV, Ohio and Nevada. Not being foolhardy, I'll only speculate that Bush will have to become far more creative in his deceptions and evasions if he hopes to become the first two-term Bush.
Perhaps a mission to Jupiter might do the trick.
Friday, February 20, 2004
THE KERRY-EDWARDS SHOWDOWN: As the Democratic contest for president effectively becomes a two-person race between Senator John Kerry and Senator John Edwards, many voters are likely to base their decision on which one is the most likely to beat Bush.
For the pragmatic voter in a Democratic primary or caucus, one of the most important attributes in a candidate is the ability to beat Bush. For the idealistic Democratic voter, one of the most important goals to accomplish is ending the misguided policies of Bush – in other words, picking the candidate most likely to beat Bush. Thus, for many Democrats voting for the strongest presidential candidate is both the idealistic and the pragmatic thing to do.
The conventional wisdom has been that Kerry is the strongest candidate. Lately, however, some pundits have argued that Edwards would be the stronger candidate, based on exit polls showing Edwards getting a greater share of the votes of independents and Republicans that have voted in some Democratic primaries.
Although I think the conventional wisdom is often wrong, this is not one of those times. While I think Edwards has some great strengths as a natural campaigner, I don’t think he would be as strong a candidate against Bush as Kerry would be.
The argument that Edwards would be a stronger nominee than Kerry because Edwards has recently outpolled Kerry among independents and Republicans in a few recent primaries suffers from a huge flaw. This argument depends on the assumption that a Democrat that is attractive to independents and Republicans during the Democratic primary season is also going to be attractive in the general election. This assumption is fallacious.
Kerry and Edwards and are now campaigning in the cocoon of the Democratic primaries and caucuses. Once the eventual nominee ventures out into the harsh world of Republican attacks, the dynamics will be vastly different. Bush will do his best to make national security the central issue of the election and to paint the Democratic nominee as weak and uninterested in protecting America from terrorism.
Historically, national security issues have played pivotal roles in nearly all presidential elections since the early days of World War II. In recent presidential elections such national security issues have hurt the Democratic candidate. The perceived weakness of the Democratic candidates on national security issues contributed to losses in 1972, 1980, 1984 and 1988. In 1976, the combination of Watergate, the recent Vietnam debacle and a recession made domestic issues more important. And Gerald Ford (who disastrously claimed in a debate that he did not think that Cold-War Poland was dominated by the Soviet Union) did not come across as particularly strong in any case. The 1992 and 1996 elections were the first post-Cold War elections and national security played far less of a role in those campaigns than in any other presidential election since 1936.
In light of 9/11 and America’s invasion of Iraq, national security issues are likely to resume their historic importance in deciding the 2004 presidential election. This is especially true given Bush’s obvious intent to exploit fear of terrorism. Thus, credibility on national security issues will be essential for the Democratic nominee for president.
Bush is bound to try to make the 2004 election a referendum on national security since he has no record of domestic achievements on which to run. His record on jobs and the economy is the most dismal of any president since Hoover. He has presided over the greatest turnaround in America’s economy since the Great Depression. The only hope that Bush has of a second term is by exploiting a fear of terrorism.
Kerry’s combination of being a war hero, an anti-Vietnam War activist and a Senator for 20 years (not to mention his gravitas) gives Kerry credibility in discussing national security. I actually think Kerry’s activism against the Vietnam War after being a hero in that war can be a plus since it shows both judgment and character. With this background, Kerry stands in stark contrast to Bush, who showed in dealing with Iraq that he foolishly believed that the way to appear strong is to rush into a war without regard for the consequences. John Edwards, with his one Senate term and background as a trial lawyer, just won't have that same credibility.
Bush – the self-styled “war president” – is going to do his best to instill fear in voters and run as the protector of the homeland.
Given his background (not to mention his gut instincts as a fighter), I think Kerry will have greater success in combating this fear mongering.