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On New York’s 23rd

Will next week matter?

Off year elections tend to be better for Republicans (same goes for runoffs), so there’s really nothing about the elections in Virginia, New York or New Jersey that should be considered a bellwether for the 2010 elections. New Jersey slipped over to the Democrats over the last decade, and even if The Fat Man wins, New Jersey is still going to be a longterm project for Republicans.

(The Fat Man isn’t out of it yet. Chris Daggett, an independent in the race who is polling in the low teens, will likely see his support dissipate by election day and those votes go 60-40 in favor of Christie. I would guess almost half of Daggett’s support ends up voting for one of the other two candidates. This is enough to make New Jersey a tossup. But, Corzine does have a “significant” lead in current polls.)

Virginia is more interesting (because it’s not New Jersey). The state has been reliably Republican for decades and has only recently slipped into purpleage. Expansions of the Washington D.C. ideopolis into Virginia are primarily responsible for the shift. An unpopular foreign war, the bane of governing parties since the Peloponnesian War, was the final catalyst. But, polling data shows a clear lead for McDonnell and the national Democrat players have all moved to New Jersey.

So, Virginia remains purple and a not-too-unexpected victory is had.

New York’s special election in the 23rd congressional district is the race I’m most interested in. The district voted Obama in 2008 despite having been consistently Republican for years. Obama didn’t win by a lot (52-47), but it was clearly enough to scare the local party away from putting up someone even remotely conservative. In all fairness, John McHugh was a moderate Republican with a 70% ACU rating.

The local GOP party found itself a pro-choice moderate in Dierdre Scozzafava. I won’t knock the local party for being more interested in winning the race than in running an ideologue. Unfortunately, the “Moderate Fallacy” is an all-too-common affliction for many local parties and is quite apparent in this case.

The Moderate Fallacy is the idea that all you need to do to win a congressional race (or any race) is to find a candidate whose views fit the district. This fallacy ignores the numerous other factors that determine the winner of a political race. Among those other factors are 1) the candidate’s ability to campaign 2) the opponent 3) the opponent’s campaign 4) the current local zeitgeist.

There are also other factors that sometimes crop up when you run a moderate, and in New York that factor is called The Conservative Party.

Before picking a candidate, the local party needed to weigh all of these factors (especially the danger of a spoiler). From my view, Scozzafava wasn’t a bad pick. She had shown the ability to run a campaign and win elections and she was an important Republican leader in the New York State Assembly. She picked up an endorsement from the NRA, so calling her a liberal isn’t completely fair. But, altogether, her endorsement brought the wrath of conservatives, who decided upon another champion: Doug Hoffman.

Hoffman has attracted a range of nationally prominent conservatives and this has propelled him from spoiler to contender. Mega-GOP Fail.

The Democrats also played politics. Bill Owens, their endorsee, was never a Democrat until recently. He had been a registered independent for over thirty years. An Air Force Veteran and decidedly unpartisan, Owens is the sort of candidate who has been destroying Republicans across the country.

The tactic has been working since 2006. The Democrats find a moderate or conservative (Blue Dog) who is a military veteran and isn’t an ideologue (but someone “contemplative” and “thoughtful”) and run them in tough swing districts. Since 2006, scores of these guys have won tough races across the country.

If Owens wins, it will mean the Democrats have a still-working strategic plan going into 2010. If Blue Dogs can separate themselves from the left side of party (in the eyes of the local electorate), it will go a long way in defending tight swing districts and possibly expanding into other conservative districts. In any case, it will help lessen any mid-term Democrat losses.

If the tactic fails and Owens can’t separate himself from the governing Democrat majority, it might signal better-than-expected midterm elections for the GOP.

A Hoffman victory will be a good sign for conservatives and a bad sign for the Republican Party. The GOP hasn’t capitalized on the current situation (polls show people are disillusioned with the Democrats) and the party leadership will appear even more incompetent if this race goes to Hoffman or Owens.

A Hoffman victory might even encourage more conservative spoilers and destroy any chance to make meaningful gains for the GOP in 2010.

An Owens victory might prevent more conservative spoilers but it will signal the continued strength of the Democratic electoral strategy.

A Scozzafava victory (currently she is in third place in polls) might encourage more local parties to pick lukewarm moderates and ignore other factors to the detriment to the party.

From my perspective, I don’t care who wins. It will either be a moderate, a conservative or a Republican. And the Republican would be the one I would least likely vote for were I in the district.

From a national perspective, this race won’t have a positive outcome for the Republican Party. It will either mean a failure of vision (Hoffman wins), a continuation of the Moderate Fallacy plague (Scozzafava), or another loss to the Democrat Blue Dog juggernaut (Owens).

Of the outcomes possible, the worst would be an Owens victory. So close to the election, with the polls sitting where they are, resources should be thrown at Hoffman. What a nightmare.

(Here’s another perspective on the race that is similar in conclusion (NY23 is a lose-lose-lose for the GOP), but widely different in viewpoint)

Unfinished: Who to Run Against Obama

Early sure, but…

http://martinandrade.wordpress.com/2009/06/08/pawlentys-retirement-party/

Thomas Dewey (‘48): Governor of New York
Ike (‘52, ‘56): Nationally Prominent War General
Nixon (‘60): Senator, Vice President
Goldwater (‘64): Senator, Author
Nixon (‘68, ‘72): VP, Senator, Nearly won in ‘60
Ford (‘76): Weakest candidate, almost lost 1976 nomination to Reagan, still had 8 years as Minority Leader in House, sitting president.
Reagan (‘80, ‘84): Actor, Governor of California, Author, ‘64 Goldwater endorsement speech, nearly won nomination in ‘76
Bush I (‘88, ‘92): Longtime politico, VP, ran a few times, in ‘88 ran on Reagan’s legacy
Dole (‘96): War hero, 20+years as a senator, 10+ years GOP Senate leader.
Bush II (‘00, ‘04): Governor of Texas, Karl Rove (I’m one of a number of political hacks who see Bush II as a creation of Rove). Son of President.
McCain (‘08): War Hero, 20+years in Senate, ran in 2000 against Bush, media darling.

So it’s a Reagan or a Nixon

Giuliani.
Huckabee From whence cometh wealth?
Romney
Pawlenty

Some Quick Reviews

-The Bruce Willis film “Surrogates” was a real joy. The ending was a tad Hollywood-vanilla that I hate with such a passion, but the message was a good one, if not entirely thought out. Sometime in the near future, advanced robots connect us to our lives, we never have to leave our homes. We can be anybody, and normally this entails being attractive. A mad scientist soon realizes surrogates have replaced the joys, pains and meaning of life and made everyone a bunch of pleasure hungry, shallow narcissists (sound familiar?). Some gratuitous action shots of Bruce Willis being Bruce Willis later, the movie ends in climactic fashion. There has been a lot of good, meaningful, science-fiction being produced by Hollywood over the last few years; this film should be included as one of the future classics (along with Gattaca, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and about a third of “The Island,” among others).

-Zombieland was similarly superlative. Fun, light and breezy (not exactly normal zombie adjectives) the film is life affirming and almost sentimental. The “rules” developed throughout represent not just a how-to guide for surviving the zombie apocalypse, but a guide to life in general.

-“The Dumbest Generation”, a book by English professor and notable scribe Mark Bauerlein, details the consequences of the new screen-obsessed youth culture now pervading our country. This includes declines in knowledge, reasoning ability, complex task completions and overall wisdomage. Using surveys and hard data, Bauerlein shows students coming out of high schools and colleges are not getting any kind of classic education based on intellectual traditions. He links these declines to the declines in leisure reading by those under thirty years of age, and to the new technology-based education doctrine that has students focusing on how to use computers rather than learning “unplugged”.

Bauerlein is persuasive, thoughtful and slowly builds his case over the length of the entire book. Unfortunately, his thesis is insurmountable to those who could learn the most from it: screen-obsessed youth. Unrelenting in his vocabulary, long and complex in sentence and paragraph structure, subtle and magniloquent, his words must be taken in with deep contemplation and patience. His work stands as an indissoluble whole, cogent only in toto–Totally not what the Twitter crowd is looking for.

It is a rich work for the curmudgeon in all of us. It was especially sweet to my ludditic preferences. Will it matter? I doubt it.

A Twins Blogger Returns; Another Twins Book

The pressures of trying to actually learn things in school, along with getting the best grades possible (these things being very, very foriegn to me), are cutting into my available writing time. Instead of posting on this blog I’ve been sticking to flame wars on Twitter and personal TMI revelations on Facebook. This has kept the blog somewhere between “abandoned” and “Detroit” in the technical terms of activity in the blogging world.

So, while I don’t do podcasts and don’t write regularly about the Twins and don’t pay any attention to the few regular readers who still click over here from time time, there is someone else out there who will, probably, do those things.

Josh Taylor, a regular contributor to my old Twins podcast, and a great Twins blogger who called it quits about 8 months ago, is back. Now on WordPress, I can’t express how much I look forward to constantly disagreeing with him about everything.

* * *

I read through the free preview for the Offseason GM Handbook, written by Twins Bloggers John Bonnes (TwinsGeek), Seth Stohs (SethSpeaks), Nick Nelson (eponymous) and Parker Hageman (OvertheBaggy), and I have to say the work is impressive, and incredibly informative.

The great part of offseason baseball punditry is the the unending myriad of topics and discussions to have about where a franchise goes, how fast they get there and how terrible it is the New York Yankees have so many fans.

I’ll be purchasing a deadtree copy when they become available, otherwise the ebook can be obtained from http://twinscentric.com/ for about ten bucks. (Also, the same free preview I read is available, consisting of about 1/3rd the book).

(All these things going on in the Twins blogosphere (and the Twins organization itself) are making me rue the day I ever decided to get a graduate degree. Then I remind myself how bleak the market looks for a guy with a liberal arts undergrad degree.)

Lincoln the Fascist?

From LINCOLN’S YARNS AND STORIES by Alexander Kelly:

SENT TO HIS “FRIENDS.”

During the Civil War, Clement L. Vallandigham, of Ohio, had shown himself, in the National House of Representatives and elsewhere, one of the bitterest and most outspoken of all the men of that class which insisted that “the war was a failure.” He declared that it was the design of “those in power to establish a despotism,” and that they had “no intention of restoring the Union.” He denounced the conscription which had been ordered, and declared that men who submitted to be drafted into the army were “unworthy to be called free men.” He spoke of the President as “King Lincoln.”

Such utterances at this time, when the Government was exerting itself to the utmost to recruit the armies, were dangerous, and Vallandigham was arrested, tried by court-martial at Cincinnati, and sentenced to be placed in confinement during the war,

General Burnside, in command at Cincinnati, approved the sentence, and ordered that he be sent to Fort Warren, in Boston Harbor; but the President ordered that he be sent “beyond our lines into those of his friends.” He was therefore escorted to the Confederate lines in Tennessee, thence going to Richmond. He did not meet with a very cordial reception there, and finally sought refuge in Canada.

Vallandigham died in a most peculiar way some years after the close of the War, and it was thought by many that his death was the result of premeditation upon his part.

Whenever I hear complaints about the “authoritarian” federal government (or Nazi-fascist-racist-Vader-evil-doers when Republicans own the presidency) I have to remind myself what real fascism looks like. A humanities professor I had once laughed and openly mocked a girl (he was very outspoken) in one of my classes after she complained about the “fascist” government after it shut down a local tobacco store in Dinkytown after it failed to pay rent and was linked to international groups that sent money to terrorists under a humanitarian guise.

This humanities professor was not conservative in any way. More accurately, he was a democratic socialist. He lived through true fascism in Nazi Germany in WWII. From his perspective, the fact people weren’t being hung in the streets was proof enough the US was not fascist.

While that’s a pretty low bar when it comes to civil liberties, it is a good perspective to take currently. Glenn Beck worrying about H1N1 flu shots being forced on people? Legitimate concern? Sure. American Liberal Fascism? Not really, Government has a legitimate role in public health. Real fascism? No.

Whenever other conservatives warn about too much government power, I generally agree. But we should be careful not to label these encroachments improperly. (I don’t know if Beck has used the f-word when it comes to Obama yet, because I don’t watch him, but he’s well on his way.)

Lincoln suspending Habeus Corpus, arresting and confining a citizen for his viewpoints, these are authoritarian and cause for concern, even in times of war.

But we’re still a long way away from fascism.

Heck, as far as forced flu shots go, we’re a long way away from Lincoln.

Better than Fiction

Ignoring the fact the Twins are 25:1 underdogs in the current ALDS; the incrediblenessitness of the Twins 1-game tiebreaker against the Tigers for the AL Central title was a mind blowing deal. Mind Bottling. Ridonculous.

To understand how superlative this game was, in entertainment value, we need to compare it to something supposedly entertaining.

So, here is the WPA chart of the final game in the movie “Major League” (generally a well regarded baseball comedy):

major_league_win_expectancy

And here is the WPA chart for game #163:

Tigers_Twins_WPA 2009 163

Any fictional game (including the summer long snore fest in The Iowa Baseball Confederacy) has nothing on what happened to spectators at the game yesterday (Tuesday)

From the Notebook

-Did double duty yesterday in the Twins Podcasts. The pregame podcast saw myself and Seth Stohs hanging out during lunch. It also included a 20 minute rant about Joe Mauer is the only moral choice for the AL MVP award.

The second podcast was a lot of fun too, Nick Nelson and Dan Wade joined me at midnight after the game (the most incredible I’ve ever witnessed).

-Special thanks to all the guys who joined me in the podcasts. Being a guest on one of my podcasts is difficult; there’s no prep. There are no hints. Guests have no idea what topics will be brought up or what questions they may have to answer. Often times they have just a few seconds to formulate an intelligent response. I’m always impressed by how well the do.

-GPA for the MBA is up above 3.9 (after that shocking B in my teamwork class). Just a little bit more to go. The elective I chose this quarter was fiscal resources II. It’s a stats based class. There are just 2 other students in the class. (Another elective, on qualitative management, is much more popular).

-I finished up David Horowitz’s “Left Illusions.” This book is a collection of essays, columns and book chapters. It creates an interesting perspective on the development of Horowitz from New Left intellectual to hated conservative reactionary. I would vote for its inclusion in the canon.

-Saw “Surrogates” starring Bruce Willis. I was prompted by a friend. After a lengthy email exchange we both came to the conclusion the ending was weak, a little too “happy” or “Hollywood.” But, I think there’s a great message in the film and would encourage all my readers to see the film.

Upcoming Twins Podcast

So the Twins defied all the rules of logic and reason and decided to have another 163 game season. In celebration, I’m bringing the podcast back, at least for a day

For anyone interested, I’ll be hosting a TWO Twins podcasts tomorrow. One before the game at 1pm CT, another well after the game, at Midnight CT. You can find more information at http://blogtalkradio.com/andrade

The call in number is: (646) 652-4947

The roundtable podcasts are informal, any topics are fair game. There will be a chatroom open. Sure topics? Gardenhire as a manager, Bill Smith’s job as GM and a preview of the game.

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