Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Edwards will endorse before 2/5

Why would John Edwards drop out of the presidential race before February 5th? He's already on all of the ballots. He has plenty of national name recognitition. It's only 5 more days. No matter how broke Edwards campaign is (and he claimed recently that it had a few more million dollars in the bank), he could keep it running for 5 days. Even without any ad-buys, Edwards could pick up 10-15% of the delegates on 2/5, which would give himself the kingmaker role he seemed to want.

Some have suggested that Edwards won't endorse because he will want to play a role in a populist shift in the Democratic party, and that by siding with one candidate over the other he loses that opportunity. If that is the case, however, why wouldn't Edwards stay in the race, participate in tomorrow night's debate, and remain part of the national conversation? Quitting now robs him of whatever spotlight he had left.

The only reason Edwards would drop out is if he thought he could achieve more by endorsing a candidate BEFORE 2/5. His endorsement will mean far less after that. Expect an Edwards endorsement, likely of Obama, in the next few days.

Medical marijuana discrimination

Apparently, despite the fact that medical marijuana is legal in California (as it should be, given that doctors prescribe far more dangerous drugs in the appropriate circumstances), employers can still refuse to hire someone because he or she failed a drug test because of it. This is legal even if the person's medical condition qualifies as a disability, whether the disability impairs the person's ability to do the job or not.

This is the exactly what anti-discrimination laws in hiring practices are supposed to prevent: the refusal to hire someone based on something outside of his control that has no bearing on his or her ability to do his or her job. This kind of discrimination is based on the irrational fear of a particular drug, independent of any affects on someone's ability to perform a job.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Florida Primary Predictions


1. John McCain. Everyone seems to be endorsing McCain today. Fresh off of South Carolina, McCain will narrowly prevail over Romney (whose pandering on state wide hurricane insurance will get him nowhere).

2. Mitt Romney. This one will be close.

3. Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani really is a second tier candidate now. The question remains whether he'll drop out before 2/5 and if so whom he'll endorse.

4. Mike Huckabee. Huckabee continues - his constiuency is larger in Florida than Ron Paul's.

5. Ron Paul.


1. Hillary Clinton. Florida has no delegates for Democrats here, so Clinton's win will have little momentum toward 2/5, especially if Obama picks up another high profile endorsement between now and then.

2. Barack Obama.

3. John Edwards.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Obama shines

Barack Obama won a resounding victory yesterday in South Carolina.

His victory speech is definitely worth watching.

The exit polls from the race are even more telling. The key highlight is that white voters split 40% Edwards, 36% Clinton, 24% Obama, meaning that Clinton only bested Obama 60%-40% among white voters for supported either one of them.

Also, Caroline Kennedy endorses Obama as the candidate most like her father out of any in the last 40 years. This is as close to getting an endorsement from JFK himself as Obama will ever get.

Finally, the Philadelphia Inquirer joins other local papers in endorsing Obama.

Now it's time to wait for the polls over the next week to show how this momentum for Obama will affect the 2/5 primaries.

Friday, January 25, 2008

South Carolina Democratic Primary Predictions

1. Barack Obama. This is it. Obama has to shine here to have any momentum going into 2/5.

2. John Edwards. White voters in South Carolina will punish the Clintons for the way they've kneecapped Barack Obama, and reward Edwards for his consistent method and his above-the-fray mentality these past few days.

3. Hillary Clinton. Clinton will finish a close third to Edwards.

Chavez and the Jews

Frightening anti-Semitism is going on in Venezuela.

How can people still think Chavez represents a force for good in the world?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bob Reich criticizes Bill Clinton

Bob Reich accurately criticizes Bill Clinton for his "ill-tempered and ill-founded attacks on Barack Obama [that] are doing no credit to the former President, his legacy, or his wife’s campaign" and that "Now, sadly, we’re witnessing a smear campaign against Obama that employs some of the worst aspects of the old politics."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More suggestions for Obama

Ex-Lieberman strategist Dan Gerstein has several creative policy suggestions for Obama:

1) Call for a series of Lincoln Douglas style debates with the Republican nominee this fall

2) Commit to veto any legislation until Congress passes a credible climate change bill.

3) Give the teachers unions an ultimatum: Either you are with the kids or against them. Reward the best teachers and fire the bad ones.

4) Promise to convene a bipartisan congressional war council on Inauguration Day.

5) Pledge not to run for reelection if Osama Bin Laden is not killed or captured.

Gerstein's right that coming out with a big new post-partisan policy or two would help Obama in the post-South Carolina primaries.

How Obama can escape being the "black" candidate's Mickey Kaus suggests that Obama should resurrect his presidential campaign by suggesting a shift from race-based admissions to a class-based, race-blind system of preferences, thereby returning to a 21st century post-racial kind of politics, and putting Hillary Clinton on the defensive as the 20th century "mend it, don't end it" candidate.

George Soros on why the U.S. economy is at a 60-year low

Soros claims that "The current crisis is the culmination of a super-boom that has lasted for more than 60 years." and that the "current financial crisis is less likely to cause a global recession than a radical realignment of the global economy, with a relative decline of the US and the rise of China and other countries in the developing world."

How to fix the recession

Bob Reich thinks that "our only real hope for avoiding a deep recession or worse depends on loans and investments from abroad -- some major U.S. financial firms have already gotten key cash infusions from foreign governments buying stakes in them -- combined with export earnings as the dollar continues to weaken."

The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center's Len Burman argues that making the Bush tax cuts expire sooner than most Democrats want would actually help the economy, since it would encourage stock sell offs (at a lower capital gains rate) and then direct that capital into consumption.

R.I.P. Heath Ledger

The world has lost a great actor with the death of Heath Ledger at the young age of 28.

Never missing an opportunity to display their homophobia, the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas will protest at Ledger's funeral due to his portrayal of a gay cowboy in the movie Brokeback Mountain.

There are few words to describe the outrage this despicable act warrants.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Harvard/Yale aid reforms is not a letdown

Columbia's former dean of students and director of American studies argue in today's New York Times that Harvard and Yale's increase of financial aid to upper middle class families (though with household incomes over $120,000) is a "letdown".

The authors are simply wrong. They conflate two related, but distinct, problems in American higher education. The first is that poor, working class, and middle class families cannot afford to send their children to college. At America's richest universities, generous financial aid policies have gone a long way toward solving this problem. There is still a work to be done, but for families who literally do not make enough to pay their children's tuition bills, there is significant help. At Harvard and Yale in particular, recent changes in aid policy (favoring grants over loans, decreases in expected work study and summer contributions) are nearing the extinction of this problem.

The second problem, in many ways, is far worse. It is the problem that upper middle class families increasing simply cannot afford to spend $40,000 a year on one child's college education, and certainly cannot spend $80,000 a year for two children. This is a relatively new problem in America. Poor and middle class families have always had difficulty paying for hired education, and the trend since World War II has been overwhelmingly positive (at least, until recent years). On the other hand, up until the past decade or so, upper middle class families have been able to afford to send their children to the best colleges in the country. The departure from this is troubling.

Bright high school seniors should not have to choose between schools based on cost, no matter what their family income. In upper middle class families, financial aid has languished behind rising need, which, yes, does exist for those families. It is about time that America's universities are beginning to take notice. Harvard and Yale's desire to make college truly affordable to everyone is laudable.

Why Obama irks the Clintons

Eugene Robinson makes a good point about why both Barack Obama's statements and even his fundamental candidacy is at odd with Bill Clinton's legacy.

Fed rate cut

Larry Kudlow argues for a 100 bp rate cup by 1/30/2008. Read it here.

US markets open in an hour. Let's see how bad the carnage will be, and what the Fed will do about it.

UPDATE: The Fed just cut rates by 75 bp. Let's hope this helps.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Bob Reich on why the stimulus is too little, too late

Reich says that the only hope for the U.S. economy is investment from abroad and a rise in U.S. exports.

Obama campaign sets the record straight with Paul Krugman

While Paul Krugman is a brilliant economist, his semiweekly rant against Barack Obama's health care plan has gone so far that Krugman is now contradicting himself.

Video: Obama's speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church

The Nation's John Nichols says that "Barack Obama went to a higher ground -- to that mountaintop that [Martin Luther] King occupied until his death on April 4, 1968, and that Bobby Kennedy stood for a brief and remarkable political moment that played out between April and June of that fateful year."

Classic MLK

In honor of Dr. King's memory, Americans should reread two of the most seminal documents in American history:

"I Have a Dream"

"Letter From a Birmingham Jail"

Happy Birthday, Dr. King

A few of today's top reads:

Barack Obama's speech yesterday at MLK's old pulpit.

Atonement for the slave trade.

Radical love gets a holiday.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Rahm Emanuel on the economy

Rahm argues for a New New Deal, based on health care, energy, savings and education.

Plus, five myths about recessions.

South Carolina (R), Nevada, and more

While John McCain won the South Carolina Republican Primary by a significant margin, he does appear to be out of the wood yet, having done worse with many groups than he did in 2000, but benefiting from a larger, more fractured field.

While most news agencies are reporting that Hillary Clinton won the Nevada Democratic Caucus, Barack Obama is actually likely to win more delegates, which makes this caucus a bit of draw (which of course is what the candidates themselves asked for in a debate last week). That said, if one gives Obama the win over Clinton on a national delegate basis, then one has to give Clinton second place in Iowa over Edwards by the same logic.

Finally, Frank Rich continues to skewer the Republican candidates across the board.

Friday, January 18, 2008

South Carolina Republican Primary Predictions

1. John McCain. McCain has spent so much time and effort on South Carolina in the past 8 years, combined increased numbers of new residents and moderates, and the large number of military voters will give McCain the win.

2. Mike Huckabee. Huckabee is clearly the evangelicals choice, and he will capture enough of them here for a strong second.

3. Fred Thompson. Thompson's recent good debate performance, combined with the amount of time and energy he's put into South Carolina will give him third place.

4. Mitt Romney. Romney isn't campaign in South Carolina today, and so won't crack the top three.

5. Ron Paul.

6. Rudy Giuliani.

7. Duncan Hunter.

Nevada Caucus Predictions


1. Barack Obama. Despite Clinton being up in most polls, Obama will win for three reasons: The major Nevada unions have endorsed him, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that they can caucus at the casinos where they work, and the fact that a caucus is public voting, so the workers will likely feel pressured to go along with their bosses. Elements of caucuses may fly in the face of democracy, but they will also help Obama win.

2. Hillary Clinton. Clinton has far too much support in Nevada to lose to Edwards.

3. John Edwards. The only other major candidate has to finish ahead of the rest of the pack.

4. Dennis Kucinich.

5. Mike Gravel.


1. Mitt Romney. Romney is hot off of his victory in Michigan as a businessman. Nevada's casino-sponsored state loves a bussiness man, plus the large population of Mormons, and comparatively fewer evangelicals will give Romney another win.

2. John McCain. McCain still has a national presence and so will do well in Nevada.

3. Mike Huckabee. Huckabee has failed to deliver so far in states without lots of evangelicals.

4. Fred Thompson. Thompson has begun to catch a bit, though not a lot, of fire from the recent Republican debate.

5. Rudy Giuliani. Nevada leans more authoritarian and less libertarian, putting Giuliani ahead of Paul.

6. Ron Paul.

7. Duncan Hunter.

Samantha Power on Rethinking Iran

Samantha Power has an excellent piece in her new Time column on how to change the way we engage with Iran.

Power is a major Obama supporter - wouldn't it be great to see her next January in Washington improving our foreign policy?

Economic woes

Former HUD secretary, congressman, and VP nominee Jack Kemp on the current housing crisis.

Paul Krugman decides to stop bashing Barack Obama and actually say something interesting about the economy.

Awaiting South Carolina

In prep for tomorrow's potential last-stand-Republican primary in South Carolina for some candidates, here is some praise of Fred Thompson and Mick Huckabee.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Video: Rudy is the best tax cutter in history

Excellent new ad from the Giuliani campaign on the airwaves in Florida.

Arabic noun grammar

Mah Rabu's BZ has a great post about the complexities of Arabic noun gender and number.

Global risk outlook: 2008

The Eurasia Group's Ian Bremmer just came out with an excellent primer on the biggest geopolitical risks in 2008. His list:

1. The US
2. Iran
3. Iraq
4. Terrorism
5. Pakistan/Afghanistan
6. Russian Foreign Policy
7. South Africa
8. Turkey
9. Energy Bottlenecks in Latin America

Yale improves ethnic counselor program

It's about time that Yale decided to merge its freshman counselor program (basically R.A.s) with its ethnic counselor program (for only black, Hispanic, and Asian students). Yale has finally realized that every student has qualities that make him or her diverse (e.g. race, religion, national origin, family income), and that freshman counselors equipped with the tools to help students similar to (and different from) themselves is the best way to help a diverse freshman class integrate itself into the university.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Democrats fail to mention "Don't ask, don't tell"

In last night's Democratic presidential debate in Nevada, each candidate completely missed the point about why elite American colleges do not have ROTC programs:

NBC's TIM RUSSERT: …There's a federal statute on the books which says that, if a college or university does not provide space for military recruiters or provide a ROTC program for its students, it can lose its federal funding. Will you vigorously enforce that statute?

CLINTON: Yes, I will. You know, I think that the young men and women who voluntarily join our all-volunteer military are among the best of our country….

RUSSERT: Of the top 10 rated schools, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Stanford, they do not have ROTC programs on campus. Should they?
CLINTON: Well, there are ways they can work out fulfilling that obligation. But they should certainly not do anything that either undermines or disrespects the young men and women who wish to pursue a military career.

RUSSERT: Senator Obama, same question. Will you vigorously enforce a statute which says colleges must allow military recruiters on campus and provide ROTC programs?

OBAMA: Yes….

RUSSERT: This statute's been on the books for some time, Senator. Will you vigorously enforce the statute to cut off federal funding to the school that does not provide military recruiters and a ROTC program?

EDWARDS: Yes, I will….

The reason these schools do not have ROTC programs (and fight military recruiters tooth and nail) is that the government's homophobic "Don't ask, don't tell" policy violates these universities anti-discrimination policies, which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. If the government had ended "Don't ask, don't tell" after September 11, 2001, most of these schools would have immediately reinstated ROTC.

In a previous debate, all of the Democratic candidates (including Obama, Clinton, and Edwards) raised their hands in support of ending "Don't ask, don't tell." Yet all three failed to mention it as a strategy to returning ROTC to America's elite campuses. Hopefully this does not represent a shift in gay rights support for the Democratic presidential candidates.

Last night: Romney wins Michigan; Democrats debate

A bit of coverage on last night's events:

Obama's grace at the debate.

The chaos Romney fueled.

The chance of a primary season beyond 2/5.

Best of Dunash 2007

Please pick your favorite original posts of 2007, using the poll on the right. This will hopefully become a monthly/bimonthly ritual.

Edwards vs. Huckabee --> Bloomberg candidacy

Longing for Chuck Hagel

Television Poker Stat

In defense of public circumcision on male infants

How is housing different from other consumer goods

Freezing mortgage interest rates: net positive

One nation, under Romney...

Free trade with Peru

The high skill side of the immigration debate

Dated Hillary, married Barack


Time to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

How some Muslims treat rape victims

Creationism and science education

Britons and religion


Romney's new whiz kids

Democrats wimp out on gun control

Last night's Democratic debate in Nevada with Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, and John Edwards showcased an issue where the Democrats have dialed back so far that it's just sad: gun control. Since losing control of Congress in the '90s in part (according to some) for being pro-gun control, and winning in back in 2006 with the help of Senators John Tester (MT), Bob Casey Jr. (PA), and Jim Webb (VA) - all anti-gun control Democrats - as well as numerous new anti-gun control congressmen, Democrats have been very hesitant to support federal gun control legislations.

Each candidate last night was given the opportunity to take a strong stance in favor of gun control, and each took a pass:

NBC'S TIM RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, when you ran for the Senate in 2000, you said that everyone who wishes to purchase a gun should have a license, and that every handgun sale or transfer should be registered in a national registry. Will you try to implement such a plan?

CLINTON: Well, I am against illegal guns, and illegal guns are the cause of so much death and injury in our country. I also am a political realist and I understand that the political winds are very powerful against doing enough to try to get guns off the street, get them out of the hands of young people....

RUSSERT: But you've backed off a national licensing registration plan?


RUSSERT: Senator Obama, when you were in the state senate, you talked about licensing and registering gun owners. Would you do that as president?

OBAMA: I don't think that we can get that done....

RUSSERT: Senator Edwards, Democrats used to be out front for registration and licensing of guns. It now appears that there's a recognition that it's hard to win a national election with that position. Is that fair?

EDWARDS: I think that's fair....

It does not reflect well on the Democratic party that the strongest gun control advocate is Republican/Indepedent Mike Bloomberg. In the wake of the Viriginia Tech massacre, when the country searched for answers to how a mentally ill individually could purchase a gun, and for leadership to make sure it could never happen again, Democrats were silent.

It is shameful that this country does not have national system to record the sale and transfer of guns. We have (or have de facto state by state) ones for houses, businesses, and cars. Why not for guns? Lawful gun owners have nothing to fear from a registry of gun owners and dealers. It would never be used to take their guns away. It would be used to prevent guns from falling into the hands of those who should not have them.

Free trade is eventually good for all

Rochester Economics Profressor Steven Landsberg gives an excellent defense of free trade in today's New York Times.

Pope cancels speech at scientific university

Nice to see that the Pope has realized that he's not welcome at a scientific university after agreeing with the Austrian philosopher Paul Feyerabend that: “The church at the time was much more faithful to reason than Galileo himself, and also took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo’s doctrine. Its verdict against Galileo was rational and just.”

Freedom of speech entitled citizens to speak their mind without being sent to jail. It doesn't entitle them to speak at any forum of any organization that they choose.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Shabbat and the Nevada Caucuses

Nevada's key Democratic and Republican presidential caucuses are scheduled for this Saturday. This creates a problem for observant Jews (and Seventh-day Adventists) who do not work (e.g. write, use computers, carry objects, drive, spend money) for the entire day. Nevada, unbeknownst to most east-coast-Jews, has one of the fasting growing Jewish populations in the country, and has a higher percentage of Jews than all but a handful of states, include even Pennsylvania and Illinois.

If Nevada had a presidential primary, this would not be an issue. Jews could simply vote ahead of time by absentee ballot. However, a caucus (as everyone knows from Iowa) is different. Voters actually have to show up, debate, and have their eventual votes physically recorded (written down). Nevada could have designed a modified absentee ballot process, but chose not to.

This creates a large problem, since most observant Jews will not travel long distances to caucus, and even those who did would likely be uncomfortable about having others (even non-Jews) write down their votes for them. Some Democratic caucuses are scheduled near synagogues, but that only solves part of the problem.

The caucuses could be scheduled for the evening (as they were in Iowa), avoiding the entire problem (since Shabbat ends at 5:34 PST). However, both political parties have chosen to schedule their caucuses for the morning.

This is a serious breech of democracy. American citizens are being denied the right to vote because of their religious practices. Major Jewish organizations in Nevada should sue the state party, demanding that they reschedule the caucuses for the evening.

It is appalling that after American citizen can still be denied the right to vote.

Video: Democrats for Romney

While Democrats in Michigan should not actually go vote for Mitt Romney, this is a pretty hillarious video.

U.S. Dominance in Science in Technology in Trouble

It's time that this country got serious about science and math education, with competitive funding for top teachers and funding for experiments and demonstrations.

How to live longer

How to live longer:

1. Don't smoke
2. Drink a moderate amount (2-13 drinks a week)
3. Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day
4. Get physical activity

Running a plane on biofuel

Virgin Atlantic is planning on flying a 747 on an 80/20 mix of jet fuel and biofuel.

This is great, except when the biofuel comes from a crop that is fertilized with ammonia from coal, natural gas, or petroleum coke.

Someday, biofuel can actually be made from only the sun, and so actually be a truly clean energy source.

Invisible hand?

Barney Frank on why the the invisible hand has been a bit too invisible.

Presidential candidates

Three good pieces today about presidential candidates:

Hillary Clinton and women with bedrock competence.

Bob Herbert on misogyny.

The Mitt Romney everyone hoped he could be.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Michigan Primary Predictions


1. John McCain - Since the Democratic National Committee has stripped the Michigan delegation of all of its delegates to the national committee, independents and even some Democrats will vote in the open Republican primary. Aside from Daily Kos' acolytes who will vote for Romney in the hope of continuing the chaos of the Republican presidential race, most of them will vote for McCain, giving him the win.

2. Mitt Romney - Romney was raised in Michigan, where his father was governor. The combination of Romney's roots and his ad buys will give him a strong second.

3. Mike Huckabee - Huckabee is still evangelical Christians' top choice, as well as any populists remaining in the Republican party. He'll finish significantly behind Romney, but still a solid third.

4. Ron Paul - There are enough Libertarians in Michigan to give Ron Paul a close fourth (over Giuliani), and enough of Giuliani's one-time supporters who favored his security credentials have shifted to McCain, allowed Paul to edge Giuliani.

5. Rudy Giuliani - Giuliani has focused everything on Florida, and so will finish 5th in this race.

6. Fred Thompson - Despite his third place finish in Iowa, Thompson's campaign has no traction what so ever in Michigan.

7. Duncan Hunter - Is he even still in this race?

8. Alan Keyes - See Hunter above.


1. Hillary Clinton - Clinton has enough supporters who were turn out to vote for her to give her the nearly meaningless 0-delegate win.

2. Uncommitted - This is surrogate for Barack Obama and John Edwards, who do not appear on the ballot.

3. Dennis Kucinich - There are still enough Kucinich supporters in Michigan for him to get a few votes. Especially since his actually campaigning in the state.

4. Mike Gravel - Gravel is still on the ballot, and so may receive a vote or two.

Daily Kos to Michigan Democrats: Vote Romney

In an effort to be as sneeringly partisan as possible, Daily Kos encourages Michigan Democrats to vote for Mitt Romney, in an effort to keep the Republican race in as much turmoil as possible.

If this country gets President Romney, we'll know in part whom to blame.

Unions and Presidential Elections

The always spot-on Alyssa Rosenberg has an excellent piece in the The New Republic unions dwindling influence on Democratic presidential politics.

Yale tops Harvard in Financial Aid Reform

Yale just announced financial aid reform that surpasses Harvard's, extending the "pay no more than 10% of your household income in tuition" to families that make between $180,000 and $200,000 a year, whereas Harvard caps it at $180,000.

The question is - what happens to familes that have household income of $210,000? Do they get the old formula, which would have given them $0 in finanicial aid?

South Carolina voters may get lost trying to vote

Costing cutting seems to even cause polling place closures.

To boldly go where no presidential candidate....

Today's Wall Street Journal has a lovingly arrogant piece about presidential candidate misuse of the English language, skewering Obama, Richardson, Romney, McCain, Bush II, Bill Clinton, Carter, Nixon, and even JFK.

Mom, let me sleep in

Excellent op-ed in the New York Times about why teenagers may be right when they want to sleep in.

Afghans need a draft

Op-ed in the New York Times about why Afghanistan would benefit from a draft.

Time for more regulation?

L.A. Times opinion piece on how deregulation hasn't worked.

McCain: Goldwater '08?

Richard Reeves has a good piece on why McCain is likely to be the last Republican warrior of the 20th/21st century.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bush's disastrous foreign policy legacy

President Bush will leave the next president a world far more dangerous than the one President Clinton left him.

Bob Reich on a stimulus package

Seems that the Americans most likely to spend a temporary tax cut actually pay more in payroll taxes than they do in income taxes.

Rudy and Romney; Michigan

Two of politics canniest commentators weigh on why Rudy and Romney will have a tough time winning the nomination.

Plus: why the Michigan primary is so complicated.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ron Paul's angry white man past

The New Republic's Jamie Kirchick has an thorough research piece on the views contained in Ron Paul's past publications.

Paul Begala's Kakfaesque interaction with Fox News

Yesterday, Paul Begala failed to convince Fox News that there was no merit behind their reports that he was joining Hillary Clinton's campaign.

His email exchange with Major Garrett is especially absurd.

David Brooks on surprises in New Hampshire

Perhaps the conclusion from David Brooks' top ten list is that Giuliani needs to start crying.

Clinton and McCain win New Hampshire

The results are in. This time, the Republicans played out as expected, with McCain winning, followed by Romney in a strong second, Huckabee in a strong third, and Giuliani barely edging Paul for 4th.

The Democrats, on the other hand, confounded almost every poll and gave the win to Hilary Clinton, by a substantial (3%) though not overwhelming margin.

With both early states splitting their votes, it's going to be a long race.

Good coverage from:
Newsweek's Howard Fineman
Slate's John Dickerson (on Clinton, on McCain)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Historical ways to win after losing New Hampshire goes through all of the primary candidates (include Reagan '76, Mondale '84, and Bush '00) who recovered post New Hampshire.

Dennis Ross on Middle East Peace

Lifelong Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross offers President Bush some advice.

Monday, January 7, 2008

New Hampshire Primary Predictions


1. Barack Obama. Obama is surging across the country thanks to his resounding victory in Iowa. The continued support of independents (who overwhelmingly supported him in Iowa) will put him clearly over the top.

2. Hillary Clinton. Clinton still has significant strength in New Hampshire, and the Edwards populist method does not have nearly as much traction here as it did in Iowa.

3. John Edwards. Edwards has enough loyal supports to finish ahead of Bill Richardson.

4. Bill Richardon. Richardson is far more qualified to be president than Gravel or Kucinich, and so will certainly finish ahead of them.

5. Dennis Kucinich. He can't lose to Gravel.

6. Mike Gravel. No one left to lose to.


1. John McCain. McCain won New Hampshire in 2000, and independents left over who aren't voting for Obama will put him over the top (thanks in part to an endorsement from Joe Lieberman, everyone's 2nd favorite independent, after Mike Bloomberg).

2. Mitt Romney. Unlike in Iowa, there aren't nearly enough evangelicals in New Hampshire to cause Romney to lose to Huckabee again. Romney's New England patrician background will help him finish a strong second.

3. Mike Huckabee. Huckabee has established himself enough as a real contender in this race to finish a solid third.

4. Ron Paul. Fourth place will be very close, but there are enough libertarians in New Hampshire to give it to Paul (and few enough authoritarians to keep it from Giuliani).

5. Rudy Giuliani. Nevertheless, Giuliani has too large a national following to finish below 5th.

6. Fred Thompson. Thompson isn't going to lose to Hunter or Keyes.

7. Duncan Hunter. He's not going to beat anyone else, but won't lose to Keyes (see Kucinich above.)

8. Alan Keyes. Keyes isn't beating any major candidate. (See Gravel above.)

A random paper trail

Today's NY Times has an excellent op-ed piece on how a way to leave a paper trail to American voters while avoiding vote buying: give each voter a copy of a random person's vote.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Senator Clinton (D-IL)?

Political Insider has a fascinating what-if piece on what would have happened if Hillary Clinton had waiting until 2004 to run for a Senate seat from Illinois (where she grew up), instead of running in New York in 2000. One thing is for certain: she and Obama would likely not be running against each other for president in 2008.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Iowa caucus coverage

Here are three excellent articles on the recent Iowa caucus:

1. Why the absence of George Allen (remember him?) in the Republican presidential campaign caused Romney, Giuliani, McCain, and Thompson to shift to the right on social issues, opening the door for a genuine evangelical (Mike Huckabee) to win in Iowa.

2. How the Obama campaign marks the emergence of a new generation of political activists, in the way that 1960, 1980, and 1992 did.

3. How both Huckabee (and Obama) represent drastic new shifts for their parties, with Huckabee especially represented the "new evangelical" who is pro-environment, populist, anti-war, and not a cultural warrior.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Parshat Va'eira: Meet Nachshon

This week's Torah portion marks the first appearance of Nachson ben Amminadav.

Nachson is best known from the Midrash that appears in Tractate Sotah, 37a, saying that when the Israelites were at the Red Sea: "This tribe said: “I will not descend first into the sea,” and that tribe said: “I will not descend first into the sea.” Nahshon ben Aminadav (of the tribe of Judah) sprang forward and descended into the sea."

Nachson is a model "doer" in Jewish thought. He both has the faith in G-d that the Red Sea will part (and save him from drowning) and knows that he must take the personal initiative and walk himself, instead of waiting for G-d to carry him across.

Nachson is not just any Israelite. His is mentioned numerous times at the leader of the tribe of Judah, the largest tribe that eventually dominated the southern kingdom and lent its name to Judasim itself. Furthermore, Nachson's sister, Elisheva, is married to Aaron, the kohen gadol (high priest), and brother to Moses. Stepping back further, Nachson is a direct ancestor of Boaz, who through his marriage to Ruth becomes an ancestor to King David himself.

This Nachson then becomes a paradigm of how a vastly important leader over the newly free Israelite people (on the level of Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Joshua, Caleb, Elazar, and Pinchas) leads by example. Nachson exhibits the perfect mixture of faith in G-d and risk taking initiative.

Obama and Huckabee win Iowa Caucuses

It's official: Iowans in both parties favor candidates who want to change the kind of debate this country has in Washington. Never before have both parties so strongly supported candidates who reject politics-as-usual. This country has come a long way from 2000 when voters overwhelmingly rejected innovative Bill Bradley and John McCain in favor of traditional Al Gore and George Bush. Seven years of Rovian 51% divisive majorities have finally shown a majority of Americans the inherent value in decent, honest, genuine candidates.

This race, however, has only just begun. Senator Hillary Clinton and John Edwards both has significant showings, as did Mitt Romney, with Fred Thompson, Senator John McCain, and Rep. Ron Paul each finishing near or above 10% of the vote. Expect McCain to do very well in New Hampshire on Tuesday, and Thompson to try to surge toward South Carolina.

New Hampshire predictions will follow on Monday night.

In the meantime, this has been a proud day for America democracy.

Richardson's second place votes go to Obama

In a surprise move, NM Governor Bill Richardson has told his supporters to vote for IL Senator Barack Obama if they cannot vote for him. This is interesting because many pundits viewed Richardson as angling for the #2 spot with NY Senator Hillary Clinton, as Richardson served as UN Ambassador and Energy Secretary in Bill Clinton's cabinet, and Richardson has mostly refrained from criticizing Hillary Clinton.

Richardson has significant support in Iowa, and so his 2nd place votes may really put Obama over the top.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Iowa caucus predictions

Most polls show the Iowa caucus too close to call in both the Democratic and Republican races. Nevertheless, here are predictions for the caucus:


1. Barack Obama. The combination of same day registration (allowing the campaign to bring new voters to register and caucus at the same time), and the Kucinich campaign throwing its 2nd place votes behind Obama will put Obama over the top.

2. John Edwards. The Edwards '08 incarnation has staked out ground on the economic left of Obama and Clinton, that resonates in Iowa, and that combined with 2nd place votes from Biden and Dodd supporters should put him comfortably at second.

3. Hillary Clinton. There really is no way that Clinton can finish below 3rd place, and given the more compelling reasons for Obama and Edwards puts Clinton in 3rd place by default.

4. Bill Richardson. Richardson brings more to the table than Dodd or Biden (despite their even longer national service records), which should give him the edge over either of them.

5. Joe Biden. The continued turmoil in Pakistan (which Biden has been talking about for months) should give him the edge over Dodd.

6. Chris Dodd. He can't loses to Kucinich, so Dodd is here by default. It is either the strength of the Democratic field, or the critical overlooking of a dedicated and capable public servant that has put Dodd down here.

7. Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich can't beat Dodd, and can't lose to Gravel, which puts him here.

8. Mike Gravel. Gravel isn't beating any major candidate.


1. Mike Huckabee. The combination of Mike Huckabee's genuine evangelical credentials, and his authenticity will give him the win tomorrow night.

2. Mitt Romney. Romney's organization is so good that there's no way he'll finish below 2nd.

3. John McCain. McCain continues to surge as Republican voters realize he may really be the best person to lead this country in 2009. If had put more emphasis on Iowa, he may have even finished hirer.

4. Fred Thompson. Thompson has spent a significant amount of time in Iowa, and despite his overall lackluster campaign, he will likely still edge Giuliani, who isn't even spending this week in Iowa.

5. Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani has too large a national following and fit the security president niche too well to finish below 5th.

6. Ron Paul. While Paul has raised an enormous amount of money recently, he still lags in national and Iowa polls. Paul will do better here in libertarian-friendly New Hampshire, but will likely not break the top 5 in Iowa.

7. Duncan Hunter. He's not going to beat anyone else, but won't lose to Keyes (see Kucinich above.)

8. Alan Keyes. Keyes isn't beating any major candidate. (See Gravel above.)

Bhutto: A British spoiled brat?

Conservative Canadian columnist David Warren lambasts Bhutto as far from a "woman of the people" in Pakistan.

Improv comes to late night television

Tonight marks the return of broadcast late night television. Both Jay Leno and David Letterman will begin broadcasting new episodes this evening, though with drastically different situations. David Letterman brokered a separate agreement with the writers guild, and so his writers are now officially off-strike. This will enable A-list stars to appear on his show, without having to cross picket lines. Tonight's guest, Robin Williams, will certainly be as exciting and hilarious as he always is.

That said, Leno is in a far more interesting situation. He is returning to the air without his trusty team of writers. Furthermore, since Leno himself is technically a member of the striking union, he can't even write for himself without scabbing. This will certainly make for an exciting show, as Leno effectively will have to improvise his monologue. In addition, while he may not be as funny as Robin Williams, Leno's guest, former AK Governor Mike Huckabee should make for a fascinating show, especially on the eve of the Iowa caucus that Huckabee may win.

UPDATE: It appears that Hillary Clinton may be a surprise guest on Letterman's show tonight.

Cooking with fire

Today's New York Times has a must-read piece on heat's fundamental role in cooking.

L.A. Times to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari: Resign

The L.A. Times has an open letter to Benazir Bhutto's 19 year old son, asking him to resign from his newly appointed post as chair (King) of his late mother's political party.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Orthodoxy and Conversion in Judaism

Rabbi Yitz and Blu Greenberg have an excellent post in Forward magazine about how ultra-Orthodox opinions on conversation are both out of sync with Jewish law and tradition, and are tearing about the international Jewish community.