That darker blue line hovering over everyone else's is Jerry Brown's. Except for the Newsomania of the convo, Moonbeam has consistently dominated the conversation in the blogosphere. I remain puzzled by this popularity, but I still probably wouldn't give him odds against the coming Newsomite hordes...
Alright, 'nuff stalling. Let's git this sucker started!
Introducing the first of the "Obama Eight" series, California's 24th.
Dem : 36%
GOP : 42%
DTS : 18%
Obama's performance (margin / vote):
+2.8% / 50.5%
Marta Jorgensen : 41.8%
Gallegly : 58.2%
The 24th, of course, is pretty dang red. The district covers the interiors of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, making it the gerrymandered sister district to the 23rd, which covers the more liberal coastal areas. CA-24 has been inching ever closer to even since it was drawn. The population centers on the urban area around Oxnard.
Gallegly's a successful incumbent because for most of his career he was bringing home nearly two thirds of the electorate, including 2006. (He's also got a really cute dog.) That changed in 2008 when Obama got a clean win on Gallegly's turf, just barely breaking the fifty percent barrier. Gallegly's performance slipped accordingly. Fifty-eight percent of the vote, however, under any other circumstances would be called a commanding victory.
A little bit, but probably not by eight points. You would basically have to contact every single voter in the district at a cost of $3 million plus. Nonetheless, DCCC saw enough potential to drop some radio ads this year, so it's being watched.
2010's Dem primary will feature one new face, Shawn Stern. He's a younger guy and an environmental consultant by day. His company's website, Green Footprint, LLC, features a Union of Concerned Scientists warning letter regarding environmental issues. It's safe to say that green activism will be a big plank in Stern's platform. The question is whether it is his starting block or his finish line.
Marie Panec, an educator in the area, and Tim Allison, a Realtor, are other names mentioned.
Scenario B – If Gallegly sticks it out and doesn't go totally broke in his own primary, then this probably becomes a four-year race for the Dem. If the Dem can improve considerably on the so-called floor of 42%, (let's say, narrowing the margin to single digits, a >3% improvement) then he or she could make up the difference on the 2012 Obama Express. That justifies creating a competitive district for the region.
And in either case, I'd advise the Dem to very seriously consider a No Earmarks pledge or something like that. Going out on a limb, I'll suggest that the 24th's DTSers did not leave the GOP because of their bellicose rhetoric on spending, but in spite of it. A socially liberal, fiscally conservative Dem can win CA-24.
Jorgensen for Congress
Shawn Stern for Congress
Brian Dennert, Ventury County Star
Ventura Co. Dems
There are a few Dem Clubs around the area, including in Lompoc, but the Santa Barbara Co. Dems' website was down at the time of this posting.
This is an on-going process, so if you have tips, corrections, or grievances to share, please leave 'em in the comments section or shoot me an email.
Metanote & Shameless Self-Promotion: Last month, David Dayen at Calitics also expressed his pessimism about the Obama Eight, despite the DCCC's commitment, and for basically the same reasons as me. As he put it,
"Some would argue that, properly resourced, these seats would suddenly become very winnable. I give you CA-50, [however,] where Nick Leibham consistently beat Brian Bilbray in fundraising and maxed out at the 45% ceiling on Democrats in that district."Although Dayen's looking at this from a different ideological perspective than I am I think our pessimism is not political but institutional. Regardless where you sit, the Democratic establishment does not seem ready to take on this challenge.
I hope DCCC proves us wrong.
On Meet the Press, he and Senator Sessions were asked about the schedule and timing of the Sotomayor hearing and confirmation. Leahy interjected at the end of the discussion to give the Standard Senate Response, or SSR:
The Senate operates by its own procedures and I will make a determination in accordance with Senate process and in consultation with the Ranking Member.
The SSR works as an answer to almost any question, including "You want to do Mexican or sushi for lunch, Senator Leahy?"
Unfortunately, about thirty seconds earlier, Leahy had lost his noggin, necessitating the SSR. When asked if he would keep to President Obama's preferred schedule for the confirmation, he answered defensively,
"I'll keep to MY schedule!"This got a knowing smirk from Sessions, who was probably nudging Leahy off camera and muttering, "WTF, dude? Much respect, but you gotta clean that up!" And so he did.
Trying using the SSR in your own daily life!
The story is about Our Country Deserves Better, a conservative group that just released a $100,000 ad blitz to oppose Senator Reid's re-election. They hope to spend "in excess of $1 million" by November 2010. For now we'll ignore the $7.5 million already raised for Reid's cause.
There is no viable Republican candidate yet declared for the race and even Senator John Ensign acknowledges that that needs to happen "in the next few months." Why groups would be spending money on a race that doesn't yet exist seems... curious.
So let's cut to the chase: Senator Reid's 2010 campaign has so far been not a battle between the parties, but an arena for two simmering internecine fights, and it will likely remain so until nearly the end.
Our Country Deserves Better is closely tied to Move America Forward, a soft-money outfit run by pro-war California conservatives. Our good friend Deborah Johns is a regular collaborator. Y'know, that lady who attacks people's patriotism in front of incorrectly flown American flags.
What is telling is who attended the group's presser: Assemblyman Don Gustavson, who primaried long-serving Republican Assemblyman, John Marvel, and Sharon Angle, a possible challenger to Reid who tried (and failed) to ouster Nevada Senate Republican Leader Bill Raggio. These are two of the foot soldiers in the guerrilla war against the Nevada GOP.
In the article, Angle brought up California's budget catastrophe. That's a bit tactless, considering her latest patrons are the very people who precipitated the catastrophe. Not satisfied to sink their own state, they're now exporting their services to Nevada, whose lawmakers, faced with similar procedural hurdles, actually do their jobs.
Meanwhile on the left, Mother Jones has led the insurgency against Reid with much sniping and a glorious hit piece trying to slander him as a friend of the mining industry. (In other news, the Pope is Catholic.) You can bet there's more to come. Reid is not popular among die hard liberals who think he's feckless on a number of counts.
Anyway, Sharon Angle is not a viable candidate. No candidate is viable who can't win as a Nevadan first and nothing ticks off Nevadans more than sanctimonious Californians. I can think of at least one Nevada GOPer who could lick Senator Reid, but they've yet to make much noise.
Until that viable Nevadan shows up, this will continue to be just a primary-by-proxy.
In my previous posts I did not factor in the performance of the Dems in 2008. My thesis is, essentially, that those Dems did not ride Obama's coattails as far as they could have. We'll test that by adding my flipability factor on to each Dem's actual performance. The lower the number, the better they did.
(Thus, the flipability of the district will act as a handicap to judge the Dems against one another.)
Metanote: For the time being, let's set aside debates about the nature of Obama's coattails and the tactics of using such in an actual campaign. Each of these districts maintains a registration advantage for the Republicans, so the on-the-ground reality was not in favor of anyone.
|District||Incumbent||Challenger||Flipability||Margin of Defeat||Flipability Gap|
|24th||Gallegly||Marta Ann Jorgensen||-3||16.4%||13.4|
|45th||Bono Mack||Julie Bornstein||1||16.6%||17.6|
It is really important to qualify these numbers. Two important factors not included are money and experience. Each candidate's fundraising matters, but so too does the incumbent's. Also, some of these candidates were running for the second time, while others were first timers.
I was hesitant to publish this because I don't want to be seen as disparaging the Dems and their campaigns. Despite my ranting, I could not have won any of these races either. My purpose is to attract institutional attention, showing where opportunities were in 2008, with the hope of building even better campaigns for 2010.
With all that said, if you were on one of these campaigns (or are one of these candidates!) please share you experiences. What did you do that got you ahead? What would you do differently?
If you know me personally, then you know that depression plays a big role in my personality. I can quickly fall into bouts of melancholy.
One of the greatest realizations I came to in my adolescence was that being depressed is not wrong. That is, my melancholic personality was not a condemnation of my moral being.
From there, the next step was learning that it is a mark of maturity to control my emotions. Certainly, spontaneous grief and joy are what makes life meaningful, but day-to-day functioning requires some ability to express emotions by choice rather than by habit.
Finally, the toughest step is figuring out how to modify my own emotions. I keep looking for new tools every day, and I want to share one with you that seems to pay dividends.
This speech about optimism has an interesting strategy. The topic is programming, but the theme is overcoming pessimism. Special thanks to DivaLion for sharing this on her blog.
The basic gist is that we consider a given circumstance along three axes, namely
- personal vs. impersonal
- general vs. specific
- permanent vs. temporary
Pessimists like myself instinctively apply personal, general and permanent attributes to negative events. For example, after being rebuked for a mistake at work I might think to myself, "I'll never get the hang of this job." Mapped out, that sentence looks like this:
I'll (personal) never (permanent) get the hang of this job (general).
An alternative thought could be
My boss (impersonal) criticized one of the things I did (specific) yesterday (temporary).
The difference keeps negative thoughts in the realm of constructive criticism rather than condemnation, and pessimists tend to do the opposite with positive events.
The trick is that this requires cognitive therapy, that is, thought training. It means catching when I find myself thinking the former and reformulating my private ideas into the latter.
Editing is the biggest challenge in writing. Self-editing seems even harder but even more vital. So far, this maneuver's helped on several occasions.
Here are two quotes from two men:
A man who wishes to act entirely up to his professions of virtue soon meets with what destroys him among so much that is evil. For if everything is considered carefully, it will be found that something which looks like virtue, if followed, would be his ruin; whilst something else, which looks like vice, yet followed brings him security and prosperity.
- Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince
The means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Letter from Birmingham Jail"
Before going out into the tall grass, some background assumptions: Machiavelli and Dr. King are both writing at very different times for very different reasons.
The Prince is Machiavelli's attempt to convince Lorenzo de' Medici to take up the task of Italian patriotism, and give him the political tools to do so successfully. This quote is what usually gets boiled down to the maxim 'the end justifies the means,' although Machiavelli himself never used that phrase. For him, the greatest evil of his time was Italy's perpetual submission to foreign invaders, and the peninsula's hapless rulers were to blame. Thousands of Italians died in every war, and thousands more lived in perpetual meanness under siege and misrule. These evils, according to Machiavelli, were allowed to occur because Italy's leaders were feckless and refused to shoulder the burden of dirty, sinful work, so their subjects could live in peace and faith. As John Adams formulated it, "I must study politics and war, that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy."
Dr. King's Birmingham letter is also directed at a specific audience and a wider readership, simultaneously. He is answering a letter from Christian and Jewish leaders in Birmingham while incarcerated in the city's jail for "parading without a permit." Quite forcefully and stubbornly, Dr. King is justifying his nonviolent direct action methods by demonstrating that unjust laws must be justly broken, and that nonviolence does so appropriately. This particular passage chastises the leaders for their commendation of the Birmingham police, who restrained their public actions in order to maintain the injustice of segregation and racism. Indeed, siccing dogs on the protesters, denying them food, and mistreating them in custody can hardly be called 'restraint.' Those actions are, Dr. King says, the charlatanry of bigots and the city's religious leaders are their oblivious patrons.
So, I guess Machiavelli and Dr. King are not writing about very different things at all.
Clearly, though, Machiavelli is ready to sacrifice morality before the altar of happiness (or Christianity before the nation-state), while Dr. King defines morality as the struggle towards happiness (or Christianity's contribution to the nation-state). In practice, the two men's philosophies are identical: if the end is just, the means will necessarily be also just.
But Dr. King's admonition of "immoral means to attain moral ends" seems so diametrically opposed to Machiavelli's 'ruinous virtue.' Can they be squared? Another factor to consider is Dr. King's reproach of black nationalists' methods and his certainty that their strategy would result in bloodshed across the South. Just as the Birmingham police seem to act morally, the black nationalists' ends only seem moral. In reality, they would be a nightmare.
The operation that is central for both men is the determination of the justness of the end. Both are quite certain of the justness of their particular end and go to great lengths to prove such.
Machiavelli's work, as well as his other works such as The Discourses on Livy, details all the failures of Italy's rulers and implies the loss of life, liberty, and wealth (i.e. happiness) they hasten. Dr. King, for his part, explains that the first step of nonviolence is to determine that injustice does somewhere exist, and in Birmingham he cites the city's brutal record of mistreatment and several bombings of homes and churches.
Thus, just as Machiavelli would say that being a good Christian ruler is without true virtue if it results in the suffering of people, Dr. King would argue that no act is Christian in nature which precipitates injustice.
I doubt the two men would see eye to eye, though they share one more thing in common: a profound dissatisfaction with the church. Both men criticize so-called Christians for oppressing themselves and their neighbors with mealy-mouthed religious rhetoric. Dr. King, of course, was a minister, though he was frustrated by his White co-religionists' unwillingness to answer the call to justice. Machiavelli, however, was no man of the cloth, but was also a contemporary to the most notorious of the 'secular Popes' such as the syphilitic Alexander VI. Both men were raconteurs of similar men in different robes.
It is without a doubt difficult to find common ground between Machiavelli and Dr. King - probably a fool's errand. But it is equally hard to deny both men's insight into the nature of justice, and impossible to ignore their contributions to the art of politics, insofar as it seeks to secure human happiness.
Perhaps for us, their lessons can only be this: never let what appears righteous deter us from what is righteous.
The punchline's at about 0:58 and it's a little tricky to catch, so listen closely...
And of course, no Internet post on this blog is complete without a reference to former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens.
On the advice of readers, I've put all the data from the previous Obama Eight posts into one chart. This, I think, better illustrates my central thesis; namely, that there is little correlation among the measures of DTS registration, Dem registration, Obama's performance, and my own "flipability" metric.
|District||Incumbent||Flipability||DTS Registration||Dem Registration||GOP Registration||2008 Presidential|
|26th||Dreier||4||20%||35%||41%||51% Obama 41% McCain|
|45th||Bono Mack||1||16%||38%||42%||52% Obama 47% McCain|
|25th||McKeon||0||18%||38%||39%||49% Obama 48% McCain|
|3rd||Lungren||-2||18%||38%||40%||49% Obama 49% McCain|
|24th||Gallegly||-3||18%||36%||42%||51% Obama 48% McCain|
|50th||Bilbray||-5||24%||31%||40%||51% Obama 47% McCain|
|44th||Calvert||-6||18%||35%||42%||51% Obama 47% McCain|
|48th||Campbell||-16||22%||29%||45%||49% Obama 49% McCain|
Commenter fnpople also hooked us up with a list of declared candidates, which I hope to do a little research on later this week.
CA03- Elk Grove Mayor Gary DavisThere is, of course, a gaping hole there in the 25th, which is odd. Of the Obama Eight, it has the closest Dem/GOP registration numbers. LA County Dems, where ya at?
CA24- green businessman Shawn Stern
CA45- Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet
CA48- Irvine City Councilwoman Beth Krom
CA50- 2006 Dem nominee Francine Busby
...oh yeah, CA32.
I blogged earlier about my pessimism regarding these seats, but I want this to be a creative pessimism - my unique, useful form of paranoia, as a friend of mine might call it.
The list is usually displayed as it was in that post, with Dan Lungren's 3rd district at the top (although Buck McKeon's 25th is the closest in registration numbers). Registration is, of course, a key indicator - voters tend to support the candidates representing their party - but I don't think party registration is the best predictor of future voting behavior, comprehensively. It's also useless in predicting independents' behavior.
Independents, or "Declines to State" as they're called in California, are therefore a good place to start. Statewide, 20% of Californians are DTSers.
Not surprisingly, more DTSers means fewer Democrats, generally. Unfortunately, this is still not very helpful. The Obama Eight's districts go from Mary Bono Mack's partisan 45th - which delivered the highest vote percentage for Obama (52%) - to Brian Bilbray's fence-sitting 50th.
Let's take a look at the actual preference of the voters and compare it to the voters' party identities (as measured by their registration numbers). The formula is simply the difference between Obama's win percentage and the GOP's registration advantage.
The result represents the disparity between the voters' identities and their actual behavior. The higher numbers represent districts with close registration numbers and a considerable preference for Obama. I'll call this "flipability."
According to this, David Dreier's got the most to lose, where his voters are frequently Democrats and they voted for Obama in a big way. Compare this to John Campbell's situation, whose voters only barely picked Obama, and remain overwhelmingly Republican anyway.
(This could also serve as a political guide for Dem candidates in these districts; the lower the number, the more conservative the voters and, thus, the more conservative must be the candidate.)
The next task will be identifying and recruiting viable candidates for these districts. If you know of someone who's declared - or should declare - please let us know!
That domestic partnership bill passed the Assembly last week. No word if Gibbons will sign it. (Although I can see him taking that bait...)
I commented on the bill's torturous path through the Senate and, at the time, paid little attention to the two Republicans who voted for it, Randolph Townsend and Mike McGinness.
Townsend really didn't shock me. He's a known moderate who represents Incline Village, the most affluent place in Nevada. That's not a recipe for social conservatism.
McGinness, meanwhile, represents a decidedly rural and conservative district. Like most of Nevada's conservatives, he's not outspoken on social issues, but I had no reason to think he'd support domestic partnerships when the rest of his caucus opposed them.
In the Assembly, the bill passed with the support of one Republican, Ed Goedhart. He, too, is a solid Nevada conservative and, before Friday, I would not have pegged him as a supporter of domestic partnerships.
What's the connection? I have no idea. Senator McGinness's and Assemblyman Goedhart's districts are, however, nearly identical.
⇐ Goedhart's Assembly district
Is there some grassroots clamoring for domestic partnerships in Hawthorne or Pahrump? Perhaps the old ranching dynasties need a better legal tool to keep their property in the family - or, more likely, to consolidate their water rights. I'm just stumped.
So if you have some special insight, please drop a comment below. Help a brotha out.
Today, RedState helpfully pointed out U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice's statement that our human rights record has "not been perfect."
The occasion was the U.S. admission to the Human Rights Council, and RedState's general point is valid: the Council includes egregious violators of human rights, including China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia, making it a huge farce. This, I agree with.
RedState also believes the U.S. should not "grovel at the feet of these abusers of their own people and apologize for the United States of America." In wholly diplomatic terms, RedState is correct. We should not let China off the hook for its offenses in a self-serving attempt to prostrate ourselves. Unfortunately, I doubt RedState's interest is really in refining our diplomatic repetroire, but rather to demonize anyone who opens up a converstion about America's human rights record.
They say "Obama’s 'We Suck' tour of the world continues," but Bush's "We're Totally Awesome!" tour wasn't a diplomatic winner either. It is outright insulting to the intelligence of the worlds' citizens for us to claim the path righteousness when we imprisoned our own people in shacks, evicted entire nations, and ENSLAVED HUMANS.
Again, RedState demonstrates conservative punditry's appalling inability to perceive the level of analysis in matters of foreign policy. The Obama administration's new tone is not directed at China and Cuba, but at China and Cuba's people. You see, humility is a strength, not a weakness, that can inspire people everywhere.
Nothing, however, is less inspiring than a jingoistic bully.
2008 was a pretty good year for the Dems, wasn't it? They won the White House and also secured a commanding majority in both houses of Congress - expanding daily!
During and immediately following the campaigns, my discussions with Dems followed one of two broad formats:
a) "♥Yay! Democrats foeva!!!♥"You may place my pessimistic tuchas squarely in group B, because of this:
b) "Shit. We're screwed in 2010."
|District||Incumbent||Dem Registration||GOP Registration||2008 Presidential Results|
|3rd||Dan Lungren||38%||40%||49% Obama|
|24th||Elton Gallegly||36%||42%||51% Obama|
|25th||Buck McKeon||38%||39%||49% Obama|
|26th||David Dreier||35%||41%||51% Obama|
|44th||Ken Calvert||35%||42%||50% Obama|
|45th||Mary Bono Mack||38%||42%||52% Obama|
|48th||John Campbell||29%||45%||49% Obama|
|50th||Brian Bilbray||31%||40%||51% Obama|
These are the Obama Eight, the California Republicans whose districts were all won by the Democratic presidential candidate. Oh, and every one of these Republicans was re-elected.
2008 was, in my opinion, a huge missed opportunity for the Dems. In 2010 they will have an uphill battle trying to unseat the Obama Eight Republicans.
Fortunately though, not everyone in California is salivating over Ellen Tauscher's seat.
Now, the Roosevelt Memorial, that's another problem.
Waterfalls at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, originally uploaded by kimberlyfaye.
This image is not mine, of course. The Roosevelt is my favorite contemporary memorial on the Mall, tho I have yet to get a picture of it that has truly satisfied me. Technical limitations may be the root of the problem. Without a proper camera, I can't effectively slow the shutter speed or narrow the aperture. Even in the image above, however, the two-dimensional nature of the low-profile architecture is not really overcome.
I have yet to really overcome DC's phallocentric skyline. So the quest continues...
FUP is a blog that tells "cute animals what's what." And they don't let them off easy. Here is what they have to say to the adorable Porcupinefish:
YOU ARE SO FUCKING CUTE I WANT TO HUG YOU AND NAME YOU GARY. But I know better, Porcupinefish. You may me be smiling and having a great time now in your little undersea neon world, but next thing I know I'll come too close and you'll push me away.
The truth is, Porcupinefish, I don't know if you could ever really get close to anyone. Before you love someone, you have to love yourself, and I'm worried about the time you're putting in. You drift from place to place with no purpose in life, and you couldn't even spend enough effort giving yourself a name, you just picked something with spines and added "fish" to the name.
And so on, and so on.
My attraction to this blog is rooted in my firm and zealous faith that penguins are trying to take over the world. Trust no one!
Update: Seriously, people! Don't you remember Batman Returns‽
Policy Analyst, Office of Economic Adjustment - Department Of DefenseWhat the heck is "economic adjustment" and what is it doing at the Pentagon?
For the record, they help communities that get shafted when DoD changes plans. I guess that's a good thing. Like an employment development office for military towns.
Still, couldn't they come up with something that doesn't sound like the Ministry of Love?