Monday, May 26, 2008

Is Barack Obama A Muslim

Is Barack Obama a Muslim?. Of course not. This site should be Googlebombed, so I'm trying to do so.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bob Barr to win Libertarian Party Nomination

Wayne Allyn Root has just thrown his support to Bob Barr at the Libertarian convention, pretty much guaranteeing his nomination!

This is great news for the Democratic party.

Someone needs to send out mailers to socially conservative low-information Republicans reminding them that John McCain has voted numerous times to advance the "homosexual agenda", twice voting against protecting marriage, while Bob Barr wrote the Defense of Marriage Act and led the fight to impeach Bill Clinton.

In particular, in Mississippi. If Barr could pull 10% of the vote there, Obama would have a real shot at winning.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Is Jay Love Into Gay Love?

Given his suspicious-sounding name and his being the first to start demagoguing the California court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, I think we have to ask.

Jay Love is running for the open seat in Alabama's 2nd district.

Hopefully Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright will be able to pull in enough white voters, to, when combined with what is expected to be high black turnout for Barack Obama in this 31% African-American district, put him in Congress.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Who is Morris Talansky?

So things are looking to get even worse in Israel thanks to the bribes Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seems to have taken.

Even more likely now that we'll see Bibi Netanyahu as prime minister again, this time as part of a Likud that has shed all of its more moderate politicians to Kadima. This would be a disaster for various reasons that I won't go into.

Anyway, back to Morris Talansky. Ha'aretz reported that rather little is known about him.

Long Island Jewish American mogul and millionaire financier Morris Talansky, who is suspected of bribing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, is described by acquaintances as a man who keeps his business affairs out of the spotlight.

Although he is a known fundraiser for and contributor to Jewish causes in the United States and Israel, nobody seems to know how he made his money. Moreover, though he has participated in dozens of public events, his photograph cannot be found on the Internet.

What they do know:

  • He is 77 years old

  • He is an Orthodox Jew

  • Yeshiva University '54; served on their board of trustees

  • Was ordained as a rabbi

  • Went to NYU Law School, then into business

  • 3 children with his first wife (40-year marriage ended in "ugly" divorce in 1996); Yitzhak (Alan) is a dentist and lecturer in Israel; Bracha Tova (Barbara) is a psychologist in Israel; Ruth is an architect in the United States

  • Now lives with second wife, Helen, in Woodsburgh, Long Island; has apartment in Wolfson Towers in Jerusalem

  • Worked as a fundraiser for American Friends of Shaare Zedek (a hospital in Jerusalem) supposedly till 1997, although his tax records show they paid him 90 grand for consulting in 2004 and 2005

  • Also raised money for the ORT Network, and the New Jerusalem Fund

  • Contributed significantly to political campaigns here in the United States of America

Let's start with a more detailed look at his contributions.

I found one contribution to H. Carl McCall's campaign for comptroller in 1998 in the state campaign finance records area.

As for federal contributions:

There's a clear pattern of donations to Jewish politicians (all of whom in this case happened to be Democrats), which makes sense; their finance committees probably were familiar with him:

  • $3,000 (over several years) to Sam Gejdenson

  • $1,000 to Eric Fingerhut in 1993

  • $1,000 to Joel Hyatt in 1994

  • $1,000 to Dianne Feinstein in 1994

  • $2,000 to Frank Lautenberg in 1994

  • $2,000 to Chuck Schumer in 1995 and $500 more in 1997

  • $1,000 to Paul Wellstone in 1995

  • $500 to Jill Docking in 1996

  • $500 to Gary Ackerman in 1997

He also gave a bunch of contributions which can be explained by his state/powerful position of recipient

  • $2,000 to Ted Kennedy in 1992

  • $1,000 to Tom Foley's re-election campaign in 1994

  • $2,000 to "The House leadership fund" in 1993

  • $1,000 to the Clinton campaign in 1995

  • $1,000 to Steve Forbes* in 1996

  • $1,000 to Rudy Giuliani in 2000

  • $1,000 to George Bush in 2003

The rest, however, don't make any sense.

Rep. Vince Weber(R-MN) in 1986, Sen. Brock Adams(D-WA) in 1992, Sen. Harris Wofford(D-PA) in 1993, Sen. Chuck Robb(D-VA) in 1993, Sen. Larry Pressler(R-SD) in 1996, Senate candidate Thomas Bruggere(D-OR) in 1996, Senate candidate Ben Nelson(D-NE) in 1996, House candidate Wayne Parker(R-AL) in 1996; running again for the open 5th seats this year)

No pattern jumps out at me.

Anyway, I did some more searching on Talansky:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Democratic House Outlook is Very Good

I have to admit that last year, after the two disappointing special elections. First, Niki Tsongas just barely beat Jim Ogonowski in what may have been the worst outcome for a Democrat in that area since John Kerry lost to Paul Cronin in 1972 (this was especially terrible since George McGovern was carrying the district while Kerry was losing it, and the seat was open at the time). Second of all, in an election that we'd thought was competitive to replace the deceased Paul Gillmor in rural northwestern Ohio's 5th district, Robin Weirauch lost by double digits to Bob Latta, son of the man (Delbert Latta) who'd held the seat before Gillmor, Latta receiving 56.9% of the vote.

But since then, things have been very good, with us picking up three seats in special elections in Republican-leaning districts (Charlie Cook's Partisan Voting Index is in parenthesis after the name
1. IL-14(R+5): Bill Foster beats asshole corrupt dairy-man Jim Oberweis by 5 points in former Speaker Dennis Hastert's vacated seat
2. LA-6(R+7): Don Cazayoux beats David Duke crony Woody Jenkins by 3 points in the long-time (for the South) Republican Baton Rouge district that became somewhat more Democratic thanks to an influx of African-Americans after Hurricane Katrina)
3. MS-1(R+10): Travis Childers beats competent if not exciting mayor Greg Davis by 8 points in the runoff.

So today, the outlook for the Democrats in House elections is amazingly good.

Today, the (Charlie) Cook Political Report estimates that there are 19 lean or tossup seats held by Democrats, and 27 lean or tossup seats held by Republicans.

Only 2 of the Democratic-held seats are open.

11 of the Republican tossups and 1 additional lean Republican seat is open.

For a reminder of how Charlie Cook does:

In 2006 on May 12th, they had 9 tossup Republican-held seats, 15 lean Republican seats and 23 likely Republican seats

Of the 9 tossups, we picked up 7 (AZ-8, CO-7, CT-2, IN-8, IN-9, IA-1, and OH-18) and did not pick up NM-1 or PA-6

Of the 15 lean Republican, we picked up 7 (AZ-5, FL-22, IN-2, NY-24, NC-11, PA-8, WI-8) and did not pick up 8 (CA-50, CT-4, IL-6, KY-4, MN-6, OH-1, OH-15, WA-8)

Of the 23 likely Republican, we picked up 10 (CA-11, CT-5, KY-3, NH-1, NH-2, NY-19, NY-20, PA-7, PA-10, TX-22) and did not pick up 13 (CA-4, CO-4, FL-8, FL-9, FL-13, KY-2, MN-2, NV-2, NV-3, NJ-7, NY-26, NY-29, VA-2)

In addition, we picked up the following seats not listed as competitive at the time: FL-16, IA-2, KS-2, MN-1, PA-4, TX-23

and we came within 2% of a pickup in NY-25, NC-8, OH-2, WY-AL, within 5% in MI-7 and within 10% in AZ-1, ID-1, IL-10, IN-3, MI-9, NE-2 and NE-3

So we look very good for November.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mississippi's History of Race-Baiting & the MS-1 Special Election

The state of Mississippi has had a terrible problem with race-baiting over the years.

Most of the worst race-baiters in the United States Congress have come from this, the most heavily African-American state in the union.

In 1900, 58.5% of Mississippi's population was black, but the combination of literacy tests, poll taxes (with grandfather clauses to allow whites to waive those tests) and violent intimidation by the Ku Klux Klan and others made the electorate overwhelmingly white.

Like the rest of the South, the black percentage of Mississippi's population declined significantly during the 1st (1910-1940) and 2nd (1940-1970) Great Migrations out. In Mississippi, there were 1,009,487 black residents in 1910, and only 815,770 in 1970 [the absolute black population also decreased in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky and South Carolina; it decreased absolutely from 1910-1940 in Georgia and Virginia as well]

At any rate, Mississippi had some of the very worst race-baiters in the Congress

  • Theodore Bilbo-terribly racist even by Mississippi standards, Bilbo was declared "unfit to sit with honest, upright men in a respectable legislative body" due to his having accepted a $645 bribe in 1910. This didn't stop him from being elected Lieutenant Governor and Governor. Spending 10 days in jail for contempt of court in 1923 didn't hurt him either. A famous cry of Bilbo's "I call upon every red-blooded white man to use any means to keep the nigger away from the polls," helped push the Republican-controlled [this was still to some extent the party of Lincoln] Senate to attempt to not seat him after his re-election in 1946; a compromise was made whereas the matter would be left alone until he returned from Mississippi following recuperation from illness (he died and so it was never an issue)

  • James Vardaman-a Senator from 1913 to 1919, Governor of Mississippi from 1904 to 1908; once declared that he would rather see William Jennings Bryan defeated than be elected by "votes of veneered savages" (as he called black voters); it was because of men like Vardaman that the editor of the New York Age, the black Republican newspaper, remarked that "It's against human nature for a negro to vote Democratic. It is the party of Tillman and Vardaman" (New York Times, August 9, 1908)

  • Ross Robert Barnett-joined the 1920's Ku Klux Klan, believed (and stated) "the Negro is different because God made him different to punish him", helped get Byron De La Beckwith off in his first trial for murdering Medgar Evers, and as Governor was extremely active in opposing James Meredith's admission to Ole Miss

  • Paul B. Johnson Jr.-as Governor, surmised that James Chaney, Michael Schwermer and Andrew Goodman had not been murdered but in fact "maybe went to Cuba" (i.e. they were damned Commies for supporting voting rights)

  • James O. Eastland-Senator from Mississippi, one of the longest-serving ever; Time magazine called him "the nation's most dangerous demagogue" in the 1950's; Lyndon Johnson once said "Jim Eastland could be standing right in the middle of the worst Mississippi flood ever known, and he'd say 'The niggers caused it, helped out some by the Communists.'"

  • John Rankin-Representative who refused to ever sit next to Harlem Representative Adam Clayton Powell and, contrary to all evidence, blamed African-Americans for losing a battle in WWII; also a vicious anti-Semite.

Of course, these were the pre-Civil Rights days when blacks didn't vote in Mississippi .

Later on, the Republican party adopted the race-baiting strategy, starting with Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy, continuing with Ronald Reagan's law-and-order rally in Philadelphia, Mississippi [site of the murders of Schwermer, Goodman and Chaney].

The blogosphere gained prominence when Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo exposed Trent Lott's remarks at the 100th birthday of J. Strom Thurmond (South Carolina also had many of the worst race-baiters, perhaps not a coincidence as it had also had the second-highest black percentage of the population at the time)) "When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years, either."

Then, of course, there was this special election. Republican Greg Davis ran ads attempting to tie Democratic candidate and now Representative Travis Childers to "scary liberal black man with foreign-sounding name" Barack Obama. The claim, is that it's "wrong" to be endorsed "a liberal black man who claims you'll help build his movement" (I assume by movement, they mean something like "Obama will sleep with your wife, force you to convert to Islam and sodomize you" [all untrue, of course, but that's the message they seemed to want to convey]

his "anti-American and very, very very scary black preacher who wants to 9/11 your gun with his anti-American Christian Islamic religion" [it does not have to make sense] Jeremiah Wright.

However, things may have changed in Mississippi. This tactic may have "blackfired" (galvanized black turnout in this 27% black district; thanks to the Voting Rights Act, blacks voting is something the Republicans have to worry about).

It's not clear whether it did. I used Excel to plot the relative gain in terms of votes Travis Childers made in a county on May 13th vs. April 22nd (that is, to what extent if any the increase in votes on May 13th slanted towards Travis Childers) versus the African-American percentage of that county.

It seems like there is some correlation, but it's not clear and it's not that significant (only about .3 when running a linear regression analysis). It's quite possible, though, that it's more significant when calculated by precinct [of course, then I need to figure out how I determine how black a precinct is]

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Democrats Take Back MS-1

Unlike Louisiana's 6th district, Mississippi's 1st district did not go Republican until Newt Gingrich's short-lived Republican Revolution (note: this is different from R0n |>4v1's rEVOLution) of 1994.

However, Travis Childers is only the third person to represent this area of Mississippi since Wall Doxey resigned after winning the special election to succeed the great Pat Harrison (the execrable James O. Eastland had been appointed to fill the seat in the interim and later beat Wall Doxey in the primary).

Jamie Whitten, the longest-serving Representative in history, held this seat from November 4, 1941-January 3, 1995. He was Chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee from 1979-1993 [not a record; George H. Mahon of Texas, the previous Appropriations Chairman holds that record in terms of consecutive years, while Clarence Cannon holds the record for most years period; David Obey has been ranking member for 14 years since Bill Natcher(KY-2) died [Ron Lewis' victory in the special election to replace him was a harbinger of the Gingrich revolution], but spent most of those years in the minority; it looks like he'll continue to be Chairman for as long as he wants to be (he's still a relatively young 69 for someone who's been ranking member of Appropriations for 14 years; 10 more years is certainly not out of the question).

At any rate, I did some map-drawing at college in the library using Congressional Quarterly sources. I figure this is a good place to post the Mississippi district maps.

When Jamie Whitten was first elected, he was elected to the 2nd district (in purple) of Mississippi. The current 1st district contained parts of that district and parts of the then 1st district, represented by the viciously anti-Semitic John Rankin, and a bit of the 4th district, represented by Thomas Abernethy (Mississippi is one of a very few states never to have elected a Jewish Congressperson, incidentally).

After the loss of a seat (down from 7 to 6) in 1950, they consolidated, and Rankin lost in a primary with Abernethy.

The 1960 apportionment reduced Mississippi's delegation from 6 seats to 5 seats. Other than Whitten's 2nd district absorbing Frank E. Smith's entire 3rd district (Jamie Whitten beat him in the primary) and the 2nd shedding Calhourn County, the map remained unchanged.

However, drastic changes followed thanks to the landmark "one man, one vote" cases in the 1960's such as Wesberry v. Sanders and Baker v. Carr. In Mississippi's case, the redistricting was also heavily influenced by the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which greatly hampered the ability of whites to scare blacks away from voting.

To compensate, they split the heavily black western part of the state into 4 different districts, preventing a single district from being majority black and thus electing an African-American to Congress.

This same pattern continued in the 1970's

and to some extent in the 1980 redistricting

However, the Justice Department ruled that a black majority district had to be created, and this was done in 1984 with the 2nd district.

Similarly, in the 1990's, a majority black district was retained.

Finally, Mississippi again lost a seat in the 2000 redistricting (down to 4 seats)

Despite the Democratic legislature, the merging of Democratic Representative Ronnie Shows' district with that of Republican Representative Chip Pickering favored Pickering, and Pickering won the election in 2002.

Tonight, Travis Childers won back Mississippi's 1st, and Pickering is the only Republican left in Mississippi's House delegation.

Once the precinct results have been posted, I'm going to look and see if Greg Davis' strategy did in fact "blackfire" (i.e. instead of pushing white voters away from Childers and towards him, it in fact galvanized high black turnout)

Monday, May 12, 2008

There Really Is No Such thing as a Pledged Delegate

The Associated Press (hate the source but it's the only one I can find) reported in early April that Hillary Clinton was going to start going after the "pledged delegates" (the delegates to the Democratic National Convention chosen based on voter preferences in the primaries and caucuses)

“There is no such thing as a pledged delegate,” Clinton said at a news conference in California, where she has been fundraising.
Pledged delegates are “misnomer. The whole point is for delegates, however they are chosen, to really ask themselves who would be the best president and who would be our best nominee against Senator McCain,” Clinton said. “And I think that process goes all the way to the convention.”

Well, it turns out that Senator Clinton was right.

Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson, who'd been chosen as a Maryland pledged party leader and elected official delegate for Hillary Clinton, has decided he will vote for Barack Obama instead.

"I cannot in good conscience go to the convention and not support Barack," Johnson said in an interview. "She ran a great campaign, but she fell short of the line."

This is Johnson's second change of heart in the race. He had allowed his name to be listed as a supporter by the Obama campaign in December.

Now, I'm guessing that the 79% of the vote that Obama got in Prince George's County (66% black; granted, he did pretty well in the white DC suburbs as well, and didn't lose a single precinct in the city itself) helped push Executive Johnson to change his vote.

Still, it's pretty ironic that Hillary's "no such thing as a pledged delegate" is hurting her instead of Barack.

But yeah, I don't like this. Obama will win the pledged delegates as pledged delegates. He doesn't need this.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Barack Obama Proudly Stands in Front of Israeli Flag

I just saw this on CNN's Politics page and had to capture and post it.

Yesterday, of course, was Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's independence day, which falls on the 5th of Iyar ה' באייר

Senator Obama has a Hebrew blog

and has campaign stickers with his name in Hebrew (my good friend Friend (not a typo) ordered a whole bunch and was handing them out).

He wrote the following for the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot (I assume his ample Hebrew-language team translated it for him). in honor of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Eretz Yisrael.

As the festivities surrounding Israel’s 60th anniversary get underway, Israelis can be forgiven if they don’t feel in an entirely celebratory mood. ... It is precisely at this moment that, despite the challenges, Israelis should take stock of what they have built, and their hearts should swell with pride. And it is also at this moment that Israel’s friends around the world should raise their voices in a chorus of support. Because Israel has more than just friends -- it also has legions of admirers. I am proud to be one, and I know that millions of Americans join me in saluting the State of Israel and its vast array of achievements over these past 60 years.

From building one of the world’s most vibrant democracies, to agricultural advances, biomedical breakthroughs, and strides in immigrant absorption; to creating a powerhouse economy, a world-class military and vibrant cultural and literary scenes, Israel has not only made enormous leaps for its own citizens, but it has lived up to its founders’ vision of being a "light unto the nations."
The 60th anniversary is also an ideal time to celebrate this special relationship between our two countries. Washington and Jerusalem not only share ideals and values, but we share common interests. The bond between Americans and Israelis remains unshakable. It is a tie that every American president (whether Democrat or Republican) has and will continue to uphold. ... As president, I would further deepen our already strong bilateral ties, particularly in the areas of defense, science and energy.

Still, there is no greater gift America can give to Israel--no better way we can salute our Israeli friends on this important anniversary -- than to redouble our commitment to help Israel achieve its goal of true security through lasting peace with its neighbors. The United States does Israel no favors when it neglects opportunities for progress in Arab-Israeli peacemaking.

Israelis can always count on the United States to stand with them against any threat, from as close as Gaza or as far as Tehran, and to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself. Israel has real enemies, and we will face them together. But standing with Israel also requires America to do everything it can to reduce and ease the conflict with the Arab neighbors. To do any less would be to prevent Israel from achieving its full, extraordinary potential.

Israelis have much to be proud of as they approach this anniversary, and they should know that their friends and admirers in the United States are eager to preserve and expand upon our unique relationship with the Jewish state. May the next 60 years bring Israel continued growth, increased prosperity, genuine security, and the gift of an Israel at peace to pass on to the next generation of Israelis.

Now, some may complain that his hand, once again, is not over his heart. I cannot remember for sure whether or not we put our hands over our hearts when we sang Hatikvah (Israel's national anthem) at the Solomon Schechter Day School of the Raritan Valley. In any case, I highly doubt Hatikvah was playing at that moment.

Of course, it would have been quite fitting to play Hatikvah. Why? Hatikvah means "the hope." Quite fitting for the "Audacity of Hope" candidate, I think.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Seems like high Rush vote in NC; Obama wins, though

Shame on whoever didn't throw his ass in jail for violating drug laws and fuck his subversion of democracy.

Although it could be the legacy Dixiecrats who consider themselves Republicans but never switched.

Tense about Indiana

Don't get me wrong, I like the exits (show a 5-6 point Hillary win, not good enough for her) but

a) the early ones always seem to be off favoring Obama

b) I certainly don't trust the exits showing a 4 point gender gap in such a white state (in blacker states, there's a much smaller gender gap because black women are far more likely to vote [and indeed to be able to vote due to felony disenfranchisement laws] than are black men)

c) I don't really trust the Catholic numbers either; they seem to show Obama doing better with white catholics than white Protestants

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Encouraging Independent Numbers on Gas Tax

CBS/NY Times has done a poll regarding the Clinton/McCain insane gas tax "holiday" proposal.

The results are highly encouraging.

First of all, 49% say the holiday is a bad idea, while 45% say it is a good idea.

Those who say it's a good idea include 58% of Republicans polled and 47% of Democrats polled, but only 32% of independents polled.

More on Don Cazayoux and Louisiana's 6th district

Apparently Tom Cole and the folks at the NRCC think that their losing the seat by "only 3 points" was great news for them.

Again, black turnout was low, as I wrote about yesterday, and have now pretty much confirmed based on a comparison of Bob Odom (who only got 40% of the vote in East Baton Rouge on October 20, 2007 in his race for a statewide office, 5 points worse than even John Kerry did [and the county got blacker in the meantime due to Katrina], so I can assume that the vast majority of his voters were black (although I believe black turnout was pretty low that day as well)

Anyway, in the East Baton Rouge precincts where Bob Odom got 65% or more of the vote, turnout in yesterday's election was 54.4% of what it was on 10/20/2007. In the precincts where Odom got less than 35% of the vote, turnout in yesterday's election was 60.1% of what it was on 10/20/2007.

With Obama on the ballot, there will be very high black turnout this November. Guaranteed.

And again, let's take a look at the 6th district historically.

While the lines have changed some over the years, it's been based around Baton Rouge for at least the last 40 years based on maps I've seen of old districts in old Congressional Quarterly publications in the library.

Before yesterday, it had been held by Republicans since the 1974 election.

Let's take a look at the Southern delegations in 1974;

Alabama: 5 Democrats 3 Republicans [based in far whiter than today Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham] (current is 5 Republicans, 2 Democrats)
Arkansas: 3 Democrats 1 Republican (in NW Arkansas); current is the same
Florida: 11 Democrats 4 Republicans (in Cape Canaveral, St. Petersburg, and 2 in the Miami suburbs); currently 16 Republicans 9 Democrats
Georgia: 9 Democrats 1 Republican (in far whiter than today Dekalb County); currently 7 Republicans 6 Democrats
Louisiana: 7 Democrats 1 Republican (Jefferson County); currently 4 Republicans 3 Democrats
Mississippi: 3 Democrats 2 Republicans (Thad Cochran in Jackson, Trent Lott on the coast); currently 2 Republicans 2 Democrats [hopefully 3 Democrats after the 13th of May]
North Carolina: 7 Democrats 4 Republicans (Piedmont/Winston Salem, Near Appalachia/Foothills, Charlotte, West Charlotte), currently 7 Democrats 6 Republicans
South Carolina: 4 Democrats 2 Republicans (Pee Dee, Columbia & suburbs); currently 4 Republicans 2 Democrats
Tennessee: 5 Republicans 3 Democrats (2 traditionally Republican East Tennessee districts, Chattanooga, Memphis/Nashville suburbs, Memphis) currently 5 Democrats 4 Republicans
Texas: 20 Democrats, 4 Republicans (North Dallas, Panhandle, Dallas, Houston), currently 19 Republicans 13 Democrats
Virginia: 7 Republicans 3 Democrats (Hampton Roads, Shenandoah, Richmond, Northwest VA, Arlington & suburbs, Alexandria & suburbs, SW VA); currently 8 Republicans 3 Democrats

So, at the time, there were 75 Democrats and 34 Republicans in former Confederate states, whereas today there are 76 Republicans and 55 Democrats in former Confederate states.

Let's also look at the political environment for the Republican party that year.

This was of course the year of fallout from Watergate, and Democrats gained 49 House seats, giving them 291, total. The Democratic party hasn't come close to such a large net gain since; even last year, we gained 31 seats (although the Republican gain in 1994 was slightly more)

This trend was clear in the South as well. While the Republicans picked up the seat in Louisiana's 6th and another (open seat) in Florida (5th district, Gainesville???), they lost many other Southern seats.

Specifically, Democrats won (back) 9 of the 34 Southern seats held by Republicans

GA-4: Elliott Levitas beat Ben Blackburn
NC-5: Stephen Neal beat Wilmer "Vinegar Bend" Mizell
NC-8: Bill Hefner beat Earl Ruth
SC-6: John Jenrette beat Edward Young
TN-3: Marilyn Lloyd beat Lamar Baker
TN-8: Harold Ford Sr. beat Dan Kuykendall
TX-13: Jack Hightower (not to be confused with Jim) beat Bob Price
VA-8: Herbert Harris beat Stanford Parris
VA-10: Joe Fisher beat Joel Broyhill

Moreover, they came very close to winning back
FL-12: Fueled by an influx of Jewish voters [I assume], Charles Friedman narrowly lost to incumbent J. Herbert Burke, 61,191-58,899 [51-49]
TX-5: Mike McCool narrowly lost to Alan Steelman, 28,446-26,190
VA-7: George Gilliam narrowly lost to Kenneth Robinson 54,267-48,611
VA-9: Charles Horne narrowly lost to William Creed Wampler, 68,183-65,783

In addition, if not for the fight and division caused by the Harry Byrd machine, Democrats would have likely won back VA-4 and VA-6, but strong independent (Democrat) candidacies prevented it.

So why did Henson Moore pick up the seat? Largely because of Jeff LaCaze. See, LaCaze had beaten incumbent John Rarick in the Democratic primary, and may have been considered too liberal by district voters.

John Rarick was a real Democrat In Name Only. He was actually a member of the John Birch Society, as well as a member of the white supremacist White Citizen's Council and a charter member of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC, also known as KKK-lite).

He'd beaten Jimmy Morrison in the primary in 1966 (and at the time, the primary was the only real race in Louisiana); Morrison, while of course opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (in the entire South, only Claude Pepper [South Florida liberal], Ross Bass & Richard Fulton (both middle Tennessee), Henry Gonzales (San Antonio), Jack Brooks (Beaumont), J.J. Pickle (Austin) and Albert Thomas (Houston) voted for it), was a flaming liberal by Southern Democrat standards.

Morrison regularly got good ratings (over 50% being good for a Southern Democrat, especially during the 89th Congress) from American for Democratic Action, and actually supported the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (along with a relatively few other Southern Democrats; James Trimble* and Oren Harris of Arkansas, Dante Fascell, Sam Gibbons and Claude Pepper of Florida, James MacKay* and Charles Weltner* of Georgia, Hale Boggs of Louisiana, Joe Evins, Richard Fulton, William Anderson and George Grider* of Tennesee, and the vast majority of the Texas delegation, the * indicates they lost their seat in the fall of 1966).

So in other words, there hasn't been a real Democrat in LA-6 since 1966.

And yet a 3 point win with low black turnout shows Democrats are in trouble?

Gotta love the NRCC.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Obama got only 3,500 less votes than Cazayoux

I've just added up the numbers (which are slightly off due to absentee counts not being by precinct, so in the split counties of Iberville, Ascension and Pointe Coupee, the numbers are slightly off) and Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in LA-6 (of course), with ~46,200 to her ~24,400

Don Cazayoux got 49,702

Obama actually got 3,500 more votes than Cazayoux in East Baton Rouge (37,179-33,634; where he got 70% of the vote versus Clinton); he only got 9,000 votes outside of East Baton Rouge, whereas Cazayoux, got 16,068.

East Baton Rouge [which contains the second-biggest city and capital of Louisiana, Baton Rouge] Parish is 45.7% black. The district as a whole is 35.5% black, and the district outside of East Baton Rouge is 18.6% black.

To recap (since apparently it's unclear):

1) Obama voters in Louisiana tended to overwhelmingly be black (crunching the exit poll numbers tells us that 75% of those voting for Obama were black.
2) In 45.7% black East Baton Rouge Parish, Barack Obama got 10% more votes in the Democratic primary than did Don Cazayoux in the 5/3/08 special election.
3) In 18.6% black non-East Baton Rouge parts of Louisiana's 6th district, Barack Obama got only a little more than half as many votes in the primary as Don Cazayoux did in the special election. In fact, Obama and Clinton combined got only a few more votes than did Cazayoux in non-East Baton Rouge LA-6.

Therefore, there is very strong evidence that black turnout tonight was pretty darn low, comparatively.

And yet they ran some strong ads attacking him for being too Obama-like, and he still won.

With Obama on the ticket black turnout in the general will be through the roof.

I guess that's good news for Obama not hurting down-ticket Democrats.

We'll see for certain on May 13th. If Travis Childers wins, Republicans may have to find a new tactic to use in their futile effort to win back the House.

Don Cazayoux wins! 235 House Democrats!

That's it! African-Americans turned out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Don Cazayoux is the first real Democratic Congressman from Baton Rouge since Jimmy Morrison in the 89th Congress (1965-1966); John Rarick was a John Bircher so he does not count!

Can we push them down to less than 200 with a win in MS-1? I hope so!

Hells yeah!

Ashley Casey is teh rulz!!!!!!!!!!!!

Is RickRolling Homophobic?

That's what someone says at the LGBT blog Pam's House Blend (and Pam seems to have accepted the claim since she front-paged it)

He claims that it started because of the May 20, 2007 Family Guy Episode "Meet the Quagmires," which parodies the classic time-traveling movie Back to the Future.

In the movie, Michael J. Fox is asked to play "something that really cooks," so he plays "an oldie where I come from," Johnny B. Goode, and the band-leader (Marvin Berry), calls his cousin "Charlie" and tells him "You know that new sound you've been looking for? Well listen to this!" then holds the phone out.

In the episode, Brian is asked to play another one, so he says "This is a song by a gay guy" and then plays Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" [Astley is presumably not gay as he has a wife and daughter] and "Marvin Astley" calls his cousin "Rick" and calls the sound "mediocre, generic" and does basically the same thing.

The claim made is that this episode started the rickrolling phenomenon (where you pretend to link to something interesting but instead link to a video of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up").

The episode probably helped spike the popularity of rickrolling. However, it almost certainly didn't create it, unless it was created by a Family Guy writer/Fox employee.

Because the phenomenon existed before May 20, 2007.

This rickroll'd video was uploaded May 15, 2007 was registered May 14, 2007 per a whois search.

Someone asked about it on May 16, 2007 and it started March 29, 2007 on a 4chan board where someone claimed it was a "GTA4 gameplay vid"

So no, it's not homophobic.

Wavering African-American Superdelegates in Virginia

State Delegates (and convention superdelegates) Lionell Spruill(D-Chesapeake) and Jennifer McClellan(D-Richmond) are wavering in their endorsements of Senator Hillary Clinton for president.

The pressure being put on African American superdelegates who support Clinton, such as McClellan and Spruill, appears to be having an effect.

Raymond H. Boone, editor and publisher of the Richmond Free Press, the city's African American newspaper, said McClellan and Spruill "are opening the door to trouble" in their next election if they do not support Obama.

"I think there is going to be heavy retaliation against both of them," said Boone, whose newspaper endorsed Obama.

McClellan is struggling to balance her constituents' wishes with her support for Clinton, who helped her get started in politics. "I'm being asked to go back on my word," she said.

That's true, you are being asked to go back on your word. But you are also being asked to respect the wishes of the people who, you know, GAVE you your start in politics by electing you to office, in addition to not overruling your state's (and almost certainly your country's) elected delegates.

Per my tallies, Obama won McClellan's district 77.3%-21.9% and Spruill's district 82.4%-17.0%

But in addition, Boone is likely correct. Their primaries for re-election are in mid-2009, less than a year after the Democratic convention. Given the Clinton's campaign's success in turning the black community against them and the fact that a Clinton nomination will require the superdelegates to overturn the pledged delegates, that could certainly spell serious trouble should an ambitious younger Obama supporter in the district take advantage of it.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Brilliant Flyer On the Gas Tax

Links the Minnesota bridge disaster with the gas tax holiday proposed by Clinton and McCain.

Which, of course, is the case. Our infrastructure has been chronically underfunded due to low gas taxes. As a result, our rail & other mass transit infrastructure is limited/non-existent, and our bridges aren't safe enough.

Of course, Pawlenty's push for the Twins stadium instead of bridges hurt as well.

Props to Eric Brandt for making it.

Ron Paul "Favors" Obama-How Will White Supremacists React?

Ron Paul just tonight told Wolf Blitzer that he "favors Sen. Barack Obama because of positions on foreign policy. 'But that’s doesn’t mean that’s an endorsement,'"

Barack has already been endorsed by some old-school Republicans opposed to the Iraq War and creeping executive power, like Lincoln Chafee, Susan Eisenhower, and Doug Kmiec.

Ron Paul has managed to get nearly a million votes in the Republican primary so far, and will likely have a million at the end of primary season [there are still quite a few decent-sized states left, and I expect him to do especially well in the Idaho and Oregon primaries].

He's been getting support from various disaffected anti-government groups, including primarily:

1) Drug users
2) Libertarians (this includes the Internet spammers and the Constitution-lovers)
3) anti-war Republicans
4) Conspiracy theorists
5) Paleoconservatives
6) White Supremacists

Obama's shown great strength in third category, and lesser but still significant strength in the 2nd category. Those in the 1st, who knows (but they will not vote McCain)

Conspiracy theorists will probably vote McKinney or Nader (or Gravel, if he runs as the Gravelanche party candidate after failing to get the Libertarian nomination)

Paleoconservatives (Pat Buchanan types) are probably likely to stick with McCain.

What about the white supremacists? They absolutely love Ron Paul. Don Black, operator of the pre-eminent white supremacist site Stormfront sent the Paul campaign a big check [which they kept]

One would think that "Of course they'll do anything to stop a black president."

And they probably will.

However, these days white supremacists have been less concerned about the "Negro menace" (or whatever they call it).

Their biggest focus is on:

1) Latino immigrants [they despise McCain for pushing "amnesty" since the 1980's]


2) The Jews [my people! as Tom Lehrer sang:

Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics.
And the Catholics hate the Protestants.
And the Hindus hate the Muslims.
And everybody hates the Jews.

I'm not exaggerating at all.

David Duke, quite possibly America's best-known living white supremacist, proves my point.

While they've of course called him a black supremacist and whitey-hater and such referencing Wright, they've quite possibly spent more time attacking Obama for being too pro-Jew.

I'm not kidding.

One would think that a white supremacist would spent most of his response to the "bitter" remarks:

“So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” Mr. Obama said. (Quoted by the New York Times, April 12, 2008)

bashing him as an uppity Negro and bashing him for the problems they generally blame blacks for.

He does attack affirmative action in the first line.

The second line is devoted mostly to what he sees as the ways blacks have ruined public schools, although he also gets in a bash at gays and "educational mediocrity" (which may be blacks, but may not be).

His third line bashes "able-bodied welfare parasites" (which I assume is code for blacks), but is at least halfway devoted to illegal immigrant-bashing.

The fourth line is devoted to further illegal-immigrant bashing.

The rest of the piece, at least ten lines long, is devoted entirely to bashing Jews with the exception of one line about "dangerous streets" requiring people to cling to their guns. And he really covers all the anti-Semitic falsehood. The only things I'm missing are "Jews did 9/11," "Jews drink Christian baby blood," and "The Holocaust never happened"

Everything else, he covers:

He's got:

  • Jews Have Ruined our Economy-"unelected economic czars such as Greenspan and Bernanke, Wolfowitz and a whole coterie of Jewish “people who aren’t like them” have ripped them off"

  • Jews made us go to war with Iraq

  • Jewish Financiers are in Control of Our Government

  • Jews are destroying Christianity

Even the fundraiser itself isn't spared the Jew-bashing. While most people have been emphasizing the "San Francisco elitist" (i.e. gay) aspect, David Duke twice makes sure to note that the real issue was that the people at the fundraiser were "heavily Jewish"

This is also his main problem with Barack Obama's association with English professor and former radical William Ayers; that the Weather Underground was "a Jewish organization."

Ayers was/is a Protestant; his wife and fellow former Underground member Bernardine Dohrn was/is a white Catholic.

While it's true that the New Left had a heavy Jewish contingent-at least partly because in the 60's colleges had eliminated their Jewish quotas (and even then, the vast majority of Jews attended college due to cultural/economic factors, while far fewer non-Jews attended in those days), but probably overrepresented even so.

And it's also true that 3 of the Chicago 7 came from Jewish backgrounds (Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Lee Weiner)

and that the Weathermen did have a decent number of prominent Jewish members: Ted Gold, Kathy Boudin, Mark Rudd, Jane Alpert, David Gilbert, Naomi Jaffe

But again, neither Ayers nor Dohrn was Jewish; neither was Diana Oughton, Jeff Jones, Brian Flanagan, Terry Robbins, Cathy Wilkerson, Linda Evans, Marilyn Buck, Tim Blunk, , Jim Mellen, Gerry Long, Steve Tappis ...

The point being, I guess, that David Duke will find the craziest "Jewish conspiracy" connections.

So, anyway, will Paul's favoring have an effect?

I doubt it. But stranger things have happened.

Shame on You, Senator Menendez

It's just been reported that Senator Bob Menendez will be co-sponsoring Hillary Clinton's gas tax "holiday," and I confirmed it when I called his office to express outrage.

This is an insane proposal, period. But it's even more insane for a New Jersey Senator to propose.

As I noted earlier, the proposal won't do anything to reduce gas prices, but it will reduce money available for transportation spending, and that mass transit expansion (of infrastructure and use) and increased carpooling, as well as better density, rail electrification and increased use of those electrified rails for long-distance freight transport; less outsourcing of goods-production or use of old-technology wind-powered ships for transport might help as well.

We can buy some time by using the Los Alamos process (although nuclear isn't renewable either; however, it's planetary poisoning is at least concentrated to a relatively small area in the no-accident scenario)

We could use the lens-based solar concentration for it, I suppose, since the fuel production wouldn't have to be happening all the time.

At any rate, New Jersey is by far the best-situated state (statewide) for mass transit at the present time, despite lacking a single major metropolitan core of its own (granted, Newark and the urban core that is Hudson County both have light rail).

* 11 commuter lines from New York (North Jersey Coast Line, NorthEast Corridor, Gladstone Branch, Pascack Valley Line, Bergen Line, Main Line, Montclair-Boontown Line, Morristown Line, Raritan Valley Line) from NJ Transit (with transfers at the Frank R. Lautenberg Station in Secaucus and at the Newark Rail Station), as well as the 2 PATH train lines from New York to Jersey City&Newark.
* 4 commuter lines from Philadelphia (Atlantic City Line via NJ Transit, line to Trenton and West Trenton/Ewing via SEPTA, and the PATCO line), with the River Line from Trenton to Camden acting as an extension and as its own line to either one.
* 2 light rail lines in Hudson County
* 2 light rail lines in Newark
* A few hundred bus lines

Unsurprisingly, New Jerseyans are the second most likely after New Yorkers (26.1% of New York state residents take public transit to work, but only 6.4% of those not in New York City) to take public transit to work.

In 2006, 10.3% of New Jersey residents commuted via public transit, and that number has likely increased and will likely continue to increase.

Moreover, transit funding is about the only area in which New Jersey residents make out decently in terms of federal funding.

The right-wing but state-neutral (i.e. it doesn't favor any particular state so it's numbers should be good for this comparison) Tax Foundation numbers have New Jersey ranking 50th in 17 of the 25 years from 1981-2005 in spending received per tax dollar paid (we were in the mid-30's in spending received per capita, 2-4 in taxes paid) and got above 49th (to 48th) just once in those years.

But we were #4 in transit funds received per capita [which, again, makes sense].

Now, I understand why Hillary, despite representing New York, doesn't care.

Of the states left in the primary, only Oregon (4%) [and Puerto Rico(3.7%) had over 1% of people commuting via public transit in 2006 (although North Carolina's new light rail in Charlotte may have increased it's numbers, and they need more for capital expansions to increase them further), so while it's still bad for them, it's less bad (or seems that way); granted, Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota (0.4% take public transit to work) has stated his opposition to the holiday.

But Menendez? It's just crazy.

Give him a call to express your own outrage:
317 Senate Hart Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
202.228.2197 fax

One Gateway Center,
Suite 1100
Newark, New Jersey 07102
973.645.0502 fax

208 White Horse Pike, Suite 18
Barrington, New Jersey 08007
856.546.1526 fax

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Insanity of the Gas Tax "Holiday"

That's the only word to describe the Clinton-McCain proposal to "temporarily" suspend the gas tax.

First of all, it's almost guaranteed to do absolutely nothing to lower gas prices

Cuts in gas taxes would not lower gas prices because the supply of gasoline is close to fixed -- the oil industry is already operating its refineries at near maximum capacity (or so they claim). As we teach our econ students, if the supply is fixed, then the price is determined on the demand side. This means that, if the industry produces about 400 million gallons of gas per day, the price will continually adjust to the point where all consumers put together purchase about 400 million gallons of gas per day. Therefore, if the gas tax is reduced or eliminated, as McCain has proposed, the price consumers pay will stay the same, but more money will go to the oil industry.

And even if that wasn't true, and it would save people $30 a year, the rationales Senator Clinton and Senator McCain are using for this proposal are still insane.

Campaigning in Cleveland, Mr. McCain suggested that low-income families were hit hardest by the cost of fuel because they typically drove longer distances to work in older-model automobiles.

“Why not give them a little break?” he said. “Instead, with all due respect to those who travel around in chauffeured limousines, you’d think that we are destroying the economy of America.” Mr. McCain acknowledged that the proposed gas-tax holiday did not take on bigger problems.

Of course, the poor in Cleveland tend to use the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority to get around.

The heavy rail and light rail uses no foreign oil at all, as it's electric (it's likely powered by a coal-fired power plant, which has it's own problems but at least we're a net exporter of that particular resource)

The bus uses foreign oil, but significantly less per passenger mile than an automobile.

The sane goal is to get more people to ride mass transit, so that the federal government doesn't have to subsidize operational expenses like it did in Cleveland as of 2006 (while all transit systems have to be subsidized because you want public transit to be available at all times, not just peak times, and you want to keep it affordable even for the very poor, Cleveland's transit system is underutilized, and so fares only cover 18% of operating expenses [most of operating expenses are salaries, wages and benefits, fuel-related costs are a pretty small percentage]; in Chicago, fares cover 43% of operating expenses) and can instead spend more on subsidizing capital expenses (keeping the system safe and expanding it and other systems).

By the way, the funds for subsidizing mass transit?

They come from that gas tax McCain and Clinton want to repeal.

Federal purse strings. Part of the squeeze stems from the failure of federal funding to keep pace with the relative explosion in the number of transit systems under construction. Even as more cities build or expand their systems and ridership hits a 50-year high, the amount of federal funding has remained constant. And now, the federal transportation trust fund, paid for largely through an 18.4-cent-per-gallon gas tax, is scheduled to run out of money next year. The federal fund will have a $3 billion surplus this year, which will become a $3.9 billion deficit by 2009. When Congress proposed raising the gas tax to close the expected gap, the White House called for cuts in spending. The tax has not been raised since 1993.

The Congressional proposal for raising the gas tax was not a bunch of "crazy far-left Democrats," by the way.

This was a bi-partisan commission's recommendation

And that commission was not "bipartisan" in the sense of having Democrats, Joe Lieberman [who's decent on transit issues] and Bernie Sanders.

It included:

1. Bush Transportation Secretary Mary Peters (Republican)
2. Jim Doyle's Secretary of Transportation and former Teamster Frank Frank Busalacchi (Democrat)
3. Bush appointee and former RNC Deputy Chairwoman Maria Cino (Republican)
4. Rick Geddes, Hoover Institution Fellow (Republican)
5. Steve Heminger, Pelosi choice for commission (Democrat)
6. Frank McArdle, Hillary Clinton choice (Democrat)
7. Steve Odland, Office Depot CEO & business mogul (Republican)
8. Patrick Quinn, Bill Frist choice (Republican)
9. Matthew K. Rose, Railroad Baron (Republican)
10. Jack Schenendorf, Bush transition team member (Republican)
11. Tom Skancke, chosen by Harry Reid (Democrat [kind of])
12. The very far-right Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation (Republican)

So that's 8 Republicans and 4 Democrats.

“I’m a conservative Republican,” said Weyrich, a panel member. “The orthodoxy in the conservative movement is don’t raise any tax. But in this particular instance, I don’t see any alternative.”

Granted, Paul Weyrich is actually pretty good on transportation issues (plus he already said he wouldn't vote for McCain vs. Hillary, although he may have changed his mind, especially after this, his pet issue).

And there are other right-leaning pressure groups opposed to this, including the National Association of Manufacturers (probably) and construction companies (definitely).

And there is bipartisan opposition to such a holiday, even in rural states (John Thune and Tom Harkin and both said to oppose it in the NYTimes article).

At any rate, it is utterly insane.