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Natural-Born Citizens

August 28th, 2013 1 comment

Is Ted Cruz, born abroad to an American mother and a non-American father, eligible to be President?

In nontechnical discourse people both now and in 1789 would no doubt divide citizens up into the two categories of natural-born and naturalized— so that natural-born would include anybody who was born a citizen, and if you weren’t naturalized, you must be natural-born.

The word “natural” is needed because to say “born citizen” doesn’t sound right—- it sounds as if it’s in distinction to citizens who came out of test tubes. The word “born” is needed because to say “natural citizen” makes it sound like someone who is just a natural American because he’s loves apple pie and football even though he’s Slovakian, or that I’m alluding to some sort of natural law concept of citizenship.

Categories: Constitution, elections, Uncategorized Tags:

Huckabee, Romney, Palin, and Obama

January 22nd, 2010 No comments

A poll has Huckabee has the strongest Republican candidate, winning over Obama 45-44. Romney is next, trailing Obama at 42-44. Palin loses 41-49, largely because she turns off some Republicans so much. She is both the most and the least popular of the three with Republicans, polarizing them.

That makes sense. Huckabee is strong because he’s a social conservative and smart. A social conservative with more national experience and more sense about economics would do even better, I think.

Categories: elections, Uncategorized Tags: ,

Brown’s Win in Massachusetts

January 19th, 2010 No comments

(Rasmusen) (Jan. 20–second update). From The Right Coast:

January 20. It seems Brown is Protestant, and Coakley is Catholic. That is not as unusual in Massachusetts history as I thought, though. Edward Brooke, who left office in 1979, was Protestant, as was Leverett Saltonstall, who left in 1967.

(Original post) Maybe I ought to be working or sleeping, but I couldn’t resist trying to analyze the Massachusetts election. Below, from the AP, is a partial list of results by locality. In each case, I show Martha Coakley’s vote count and percentage. Let’s start with the towns I know:

Arlington 13,284 65%
Boston 97,743 69%
Brookline 15,264 74%
Cambridge 1,067 88% (only 1/33 reporting yet, tho)
Lexington 9,375 65%
Newton 23,456 67%
Somerville 16,965 75%
Wellesley 5,934 50%
Worcester 19,861 52%

Massive Democratic victory! But wait… She lost. Her overall state percentage was 47%, they say. What’s going on? It looks like all the places where I know people voted for her (Well, Wellesley was only 50%).

Her problem was all the places professors don’t know about:

Dracut	        3,166 29%	 
Easton	 	3,350 36%
Franklin	 	4,470 33%	 
Hanover 	        1,895 28%
Haverhill	 	7,259 39%
Holden	 	2,864 34%
Leominster	 	4,707 36%	
Marshfield 	        3,895 33%
Methuen	 	4,837 34%
Peabody	  	7,619 40%
Plymouth	  	5,403 37%
Wrentham	 	1,414 27%

The New York Times has a good interactive map.

Nonbinding Ballot Propositions

February 27th, 2009 No comments

It would be useful to allow politicians to put nonbinding referenda on election ballots. Something like this: The majority and minority party leader may each put 3 questions of 10 words or less on the ballot for YES/NO vote.

Categories: elections, ideas, politics Tags:

Ron Sims, Another "Obama Nominee"

February 4th, 2009 No comments

Via Instapundit, we have a new tainted Obama appointee: Ron Sims, for no. 2 at HUD. Sims is King County Executive, which is the county Seattle is in in Washington State. That means he has involvement in the 2004 theft of the gubernatorial election. Apparently he also stonewalled freedom-of-info requests for studies of a certain county project and got the county fined over $100,000 because the denial of the documents was so blatantly illegal.

Seattle seems to be quite a corrupt place. It is also where Bush fired a US attorney, John McKay, for refusing to investigate the 2004 election. I looked into that a bit, and it seems that McKay is a liberal Republican who headed the Clinton Legal Services Corporation and whose brother is active in state politics. It also seems that his refusal to look at the 2004 election was political, despite his posture of high-mindedness. For info on McKay and the 2004 election coverup, see here. His Seattle U. School of Law bio (rather a come-down in status, isn’t it?) is here. I also found a lengthy blog entry on John McKay and his brother Michael McKay, who was Bush Senior’s US Attorney in Seattle.

For info on the $124,000 fine, see the Seattle Times. The article doesn’t mention King, even though he apparently was the politician in charge of the decision, but it does say that the trial judge was going to impose a trivial fine, but the State Supreme Court, in an unusual move, overruled him. The Seattle Times doesn’t mention that record-setting fine in its adulatory article on the HUD nomination.

I bet a look at Mr. Sims’s tax returns would be enlightening.

Categories: corruption, elections, obama, vote fraud Tags:

Bush’s Average Approval Ratings Compared to Previous Presidents

January 14th, 2009 No comments

I just discovered something remarkable about George Bush’s approval ratings. The conventional wisdom is that in his second term he has been about the most unpopular president ever (less often mentioned is that in his first term he was about the most popular president ever!). That’s true. The usual implications are that he’s been a failure and would not be re-elected.

Neither implication follows. The key is to realize that approval ratings are based on the opinions of not only the President’s own party, but on the opposition. Thus, a president who gets 51% of the vote could be completely successful in getting all his policies carried out and enjoy high support from his supporters, but end up with a very low approval rating by having extremely low popularity with the 49% who voted against him. In fact, it isn’t even voters– the best informed and smartest citizens– who are polled about presidential approval. Thus, years of disparaging remarks by TV people, who are those 49%, will especially hurt approval ratings.

How does this apply to George Bush? Gallup has the George Bush data in useful form, with comparisons of overall ratings to other presidents. His December 12-14, 2008 approval ratings is 29%, worse even than Truman’s December 1952 32% and much worse than the 51% average for the 31st quarter of two-term president’s since FDR.

But now look at his approval ratings with Republicans and Democrats separately. In December 12-14 2008 Bush had an approval ratings of 67% from his own party, 25% from unaffiliated citizens, and just 7% from the opposition party. Hence the average of 29%. (Numbers are from here.) His lowest ratings from Republicans were in October 3-5 2008, when the ratings were 55-19-5. His lowest ratings from Democrats were in three other polls in September and October 2008, when he fell to amazing 3%.

If we look just at approval from the president’s own party, how does Bush stack up against previous presidents? Jeffrey M. Jones has a good Gallup article on the subject. It turns out that Bush does worse than Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Reagan; about the same as Clinton, George HW Bush, and Ford; and better than Johnson, Carter, and Nixon. Carter did the worst, with only a 34% approval rating from his own party in 1979. Carter, however, did much better among Republicans than Bush does with Democrats.

While discouraging for Bush, his 60% approval rating among his natural political base is similar to the low points for several recent presidents, including Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Gerald Ford. Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy never had very low overall approval ratings, so even their lowest ratings among their own party were still quite high (above 70%). While Ronald Reagan’s job approval rating among all Americans did fall as low as 35% overall, Republicans’ approval of him never fell below 67%.

Carter is the president with the dubious distinction of having the lowest job approval rating from his own party since 1953, when Gallup began to compile presidential approval ratings by party affiliation.[1] Only 34% of Democrats approved of Carter in a pair of 1979 Gallup Polls. Carter’s overall ratings at that time were similar to Bush’s current overall ratings, but his ratings were not nearly as polarized along party lines as Bush’s are: He did much better among Republicans than Bush is doing now among Democrats, while doing slightly better among independents than Bush is currently doing.

Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon also had troubled presidencies and are the only other presidents whose approval among their party’s supporters fell below 50%.

One possible conclusion is that Bush’s overall popularity rating is so low precisely because he has been so effective that he has enraged the opposition more than any president in living memory. Nobody really believes that, though. Rather, he has had moderate success, but his personality and style have generated Bush Hating that has an almost psychotic quality to it, and that hatred’s strength among even the influential opposition leaders have carried their followers along with it.

Categories: Bush, elections, history, polls, presidents Tags:

The Scientific Ignorance of Obama, McCain, and Palin

December 27th, 2008 No comments

From the Independent via Drudge:

Mr Obama and John McCain blundered into the MMR vaccine row during their presidential campaigns. “We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate,” said President-elect Obama. “Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it,” he said.

His words were echoed by Mr McCain. “It’s indisputable that [autism] is on the rise among children, the question is what’s causing it,” he said. “There’s strong evidence that indicates it’s got to do with a preservative in the vaccines.”

Exhaustive research has failed to substantiate any link to vaccines or any preservatives. The rise in autism is thought to be due to an increased awareness of the condition.

Sarah Palin, Mr McCain’s running mate, waded into the mire with her dismissal of some government research projects. “Sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not,” Ms Palin said.

Categories: elections, obama, palin, science, thinking Tags:

Obama and Illegal Campaign Contributions

December 26th, 2008 No comments

Obama didn’t use federal matching funds. This meant not only that he did not have to limit his spending; he also did not have to be automatically audited. Auditing Obama
Will the FEC examine the president-elect’s campaign finances?

by Hans A. von Spakovsky. It seems likely he received many millions in illegal contributions– probably the greatest amount in American history. I wonder what the remedy should be? We don’t want to overturn the election, since its result would not have changed even with $200 million in illegal contributions.

The public funding program automatically requires an audit of any candidate that receives public funds, so John McCain’s campaign will be audited without question. Since Obama is the first candidate to refuse public funding in the general election since the program started, it would be very odd if Obama avoided an audit because of his ability to raise extraordinary funds from untraceable sources.

The federal campaign finance law requires campaigns to report the name, address, occupation and employer of every contributor who gives more than $200. Yet according to the Washington Post, National Journal and Newsmax, the Obama campaign took (or failed to take) steps to ensure it was not alerted to problem donations.

Some of the acts and omissions are so cavalier, it’s hard to believe they weren’t intentional. For example, the Post reported that the Obama campaign accepted prepaid credit cards that are untraceable, and National Journal reported that the campaign didn’t implement a verification procedure to even match the names of contributors using regular credit cards with the names and addresses of the credit card holders.

When asked about it, the Obama campaign said such matching wasn’t “available in the credit card processing industry.” That is completely untrue–such verification procedures are offered by companies that service credit-card transactions, as well as by banks and telecommunications companies (and was standard procedure for the McCain campaign).

In contrast to the McCain campaign, the Obama campaign also refused to divulge the names of the millions of small-time donors who contributed (many repeatedly) under $200 to the campaign (totaling $218 million), saying it was “too difficult.” However, as Neil Munro of National Journal reported, there are “few technical obstacles to sorting and identifying small-scale donors.”…

…In contrast, the Obama campaign had no controls whatsoever to prevent illegal foreign contributions by noncitizens. An investigation by Newsmax estimated that anywhere from $13 million to $63 million may have been received by the Obama campaign from overseas credit cards or foreign currency purchases (a red flag for possibly illegal contributions). The FEC itself has flagged 16,639 potential foreign donations to Obama’s campaign. When confronted with this, the campaign started collecting passport numbers from foreign donors, a completely useless procedure since no effort was made to verify those numbers with the State Department to see if they were even valid.

Categories: elections, obama Tags:

Slate’s Exchange between Kmiec and Douhat on Abortion

November 23rd, 2008 1 comment

Slate had an exchange between Douglas Kmiec and Ross Douhat that shows very well the approach of the feminized male to political thinking and discussion, the European social philosophy leftism of even conservative Roman Catholics, the gullible bandwagon-jumping of so many Christians, and, perhaps, the “emergent church” attitude.

To summarize: Professor Kmiec (a devout Catholic and a former high Reagan official, remarkably) argued that anti-abortion people should really vote for Barack Obama, because he would spend more on anti-poverty programs that would reduce abortion, appointing anti-Roe judges reduces the quality of the judiciary, and regulating abortion makes Republicans the party of hate, not love. Mr. Douhat responded by attacking these claims and calling Kmiec a fool and a shill for liberals. Kmiec responded by saying how cruel Douhat was, forgiving him, and offering to pray for him. Carlson responded by saying that Kmiec should act like a man, and Douhat was right anyway.

Here are excerpts. Kmiec II and Carlson are the most fun to read.

Kmiec I:

Republicans have been trying to sell themselves for so long on the basis of judicial appointments and the supposed “fifth vote” to overturn Roe, sometimes you wonder if they realize how selecting judges on that basis disserves the rule of law. …

The Democrats had a brilliant strategy on abortion this year: Don’t play the futile court speculation game. Instead, Obama’s team promoted life in ways that don’t depend upon a Supreme Court vacancy and cooperating nominee. Specifically, Obama had the Dems commit to promote life with enhanced social and economic assistance. This idea had traction—the Catholic vote literally switched from Republican to Democrat, going (in preliminary numbers) 55-45 for Obama nationwide, which is amazing given the amount of outright lies and falsehoods the GOP was purveying about the president-elect on this issue. (Not to mention the co-conspiring clergy the Republicans captured, who were literally preaching that voters would go to hell for voting for Barack.) The Republicans became the party of fear and damnation rather than solution or respect for life. As a consequence, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Virginia are in the Democratic, not the Republican, column.

It’s admittedly hard to untie the abortion knot, but here’s a thought: Republicans could have moved a constitutional amendment that would presume life to begin at conception, while further providing that no government, federal or state, is competent to legislate on the question absent a supermajority. The effect? Taking the Supreme Court’s “activist” thumb off the scale against life while at the same time avoiding the criminalization of a woman’s freedom. This is not the ideal Catholic position, but it’s closer, and the Catholic Church has less standing to complain about a grant of freedom that could then be fairly influenced by the moral instruction associated with a woman’s religious choice….

Finally, beyond these somewhat wonkish ideas for policy innovation, Republicans ought to remember occasionally that they are—or at least were—the party of Lincoln, and ought to promote civil and human rights. That is better than dragging one’s feet on reasonable ways to break up the systematic racism or gender stereotypes that still inhabit much of our culture.

Douhat 1:

The trouble with seeking common ground on abortion is that the legal regime enacted by Roe and reaffirmed in Casey permits only the most minimal regulation of the practice, which means that any plausible “compromise” that leaves Roe in place will offer almost nothing to pro-lifers. Even the modest restrictions that prevail in many European countries (and that, not coincidentally, coincide with lower abortion rates) are out of the question under the current legal dispensation. This, in turn, explains why the national debate inevitably revolves around the composition of the Supreme Court and the either/or question of whether a president will appoint justices likely to chip away the Roe-Casey regime or justices likely to uphold it. …

…to my mind any pro-choice American who sincerely seeks a national consensus on the subject of abortion should support overturning Roe and returning the issue to the democratic process—a position that I would have liked to see the pro-choice Rudy Giuliani experiment with, for instance, in his quest to become the GOP nominee. But I certainly understand why pro-choicers don’t see things quite that way.

What I don’t understand at all is Kmiec’s position, which seems to be that the contemporary Democratic Party, and particularly the candidacy of Barack Obama, offered nearly as much to pro-lifers as the Republican Party does. I am sure that Kmiec is weary of being called a fool by opponents of abortion for his tireless pro-Obama advocacy during this election cycle, but if so, then the thing for him to do is to cease acting like the sort of person for whom the term “useful idiot” was coined, rather than persisting in his folly. …

…what he calls “outright lies and falsehoods” about Obama’s views were, in fact, more or less the truth: The Democratic nominee ran on a record that can only be described as “very, very pro-choice,” and his stated positions on abortion would involve rolling back nearly all the modest—but also modestly effective—restrictions that pro-lifers have placed upon the practice and/or appointing judges who would do the same. There may have been reasons for anti-abortion Americans to vote for Barack Obama in spite of his position that abortion should be essentially unregulated and funded by taxpayer dollars. But Kmiec’s suggestion that Obama took the Democrats in anything like a pro-life direction on the issue doesn’t pass the laugh test. (And nor, I might add, does his bizarre argument that because the goal of placing a fifth anti-Roe justice on the court is somehow unrealistic, the pro-life movement should pursue a far more implausible constitutional amendment instead.)…

I can’t begin to fathom why the GOP should consider taking any advice whatsoever from a “pro-lifer” who has spent the past year serving as an increasingly embarrassing shill for the opposition party’s objectively pro-abortion nominee.

Kmiec 2:

I am stunned by the coarseness of your writing, Ross. While we have not met, so little of what you have written is in any way respectful or acknowledges that you are addressing not some abstraction but a fellow human that I can only pray that if any of your family or closest friends come into contact with this commentary that they reach out to you in the most gentle and understanding way, without precondition, to calm an anger that is harmful to the soul.

Genuine love and affection do not reside on the Internet, so I cannot extend it to you, but in my heart, I forgive your great unkindness. I do hope you can free yourself from its enslavement. Realize that your meaning is bound up in the occasions in your life to be of service. Ross, once you allow yourself to see your dependence upon others, and their need for you, I am certain you will appreciate the cruelty of what you have written…. One could sense that anger in the mobs riled by Mrs. Palin’s tirades about Obama being in a conspiracy of some sort with Bill Ayers. It was frightening to see on tape, and it is even uglier to see it rear its head here.

Ross, you are not ordinary in God’s eyes; nor are the women facing abortion as a tragic answer to a dismal, impoverished, and near-hopeless existence. Ross, you and she are brother and sister made in God’s image and are expected to be of help to one another. That is a lesson for the Republicans.

If it be useful idiocy to save even one child from death by lifting up the economic or social prospects of the mother, I accept the title as an honor among men. It is pro-life. If it is hypocritical not to want to treat as criminal the woman abandoned by the selfishness of an abusive spouse, I embrace the hypocrisy. It, too, is pro-life. …

…in the reminder from Benedict XVI, St. Paul admonished Christians to be reconciled with their brothers before receiving Holy Communion; and Pope Benedict echoes his words: “Each time you come to the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist, may your souls open to forgiveness and fraternal reconciliation, ready to accept the excuses of those who have hurt you and ready, in your turn, to forgive.”

Carlson (in full):

Hey, Doug. Toughen up. Seriously. I’ve read suicide notes that were less passive-aggressive than this. Let’s review what actually happened: You argued that Obama is not a pro-choice extremist. Ross disagreed. Rather than respond with a counterpoint, you got hysterical, dismissing Ross as a hater, even fretting about the future of his soul.

Come on. Get some perspective. And for God’s sake, stop whining. For a moment there, you reminded me of the McCain campaign, bitching about “sexism” when people started to ask tough questions of Sarah Palin. Republicans didn’t used to talk this way. Let’s stop the trend now, starting with you.

I understand it must have hurt when Ross accused you of shilling for Obama. On the other hand, he’s right. You did shill for Obama. That’s not Ross’ fault. Don’t blame him.

But if you are going to blame him, do it directly, like a man, without all the encounter-group talk and Pope quotes. People often attack the religious right, sometimes with justification. But as you just reminded us, there is nothing in the world more annoying than the religious left.

Douhat II:

Douglas, Tucker, Jim, Kathleen, and Christine,

I don’t want to hijack this entire discussion, so let me just say that I appreciate Douglas Kmiec’s prayers and leave it at that.

I do, however, want to second Tucker’s earlier point about the importance of finding candidates who can actually communicate. Going back to Bush the elder,…

November 24. There’s been speculation as to why Prof. Kmiec would make such a weak case for Obama. Could it be that he’s so serious about ending abortion that he’s hoping Obama will appoint him to the Supreme Court, so he himself can be the “Fifth Vote” and reverse Roe?

Categories: abortion, elections, religion Tags:

The Lesson of the 2008 Election

November 22nd, 2008 No comments

I haven’t seen any pundit talk about the main lesson of the 2008 election: run a candidate that the voters like. A simple lesson, isn’t it? Think about what happened. The Republican favorites were Giuliani, Romney, and McCain. None of them were sound conservatives. Giuliani was an out-and-out liberal, and an adulterer. Romney was an out-and-out liberal who promised that he’d reformed and was really conservative, and he was a Mormon. Being a Mormon is not like being a Moslem or an Orthodox Jew— Mormons have some truly weird beliefs and require rigid obedience to the hierarchy. McCain was an inconsistent conservative, and a repentant adulterer. Worst, though, was that he had never been loyal to the Republican Party, preferring the praise of the media and the support of independents, and he clearly disliked social conservatives. If some real Republican had run, he would have won the nomination, Republicans would have been at least mildly enthusiastic and turned out in November, and he would have won. If even Sarah Palin, unknown governor of Alaska, had done that she would be our President-Elect. Thompson didn’t run, though and Brownback dropped out early. Huckabee, a smart man, did run, and did very well, but it turned out that he was not conservative on economics and perhaps on foreign issues, and he criticized our conservative President too freely. Indeed, Huckabee seems to have been an old 1920s Democrat on everything but race.

How about the Democrats? A similar story, but with a happier ending for them. Hillary Clinton was the overwhelming favorite, and she was trying to be moderate to get ready for the general election. The conventional wisdom was that she’d lose in November anyway. Thus, the Democratic leaders were unhappy. Also, she’s unethical, like her husband, without having his likeability, and reminds people of the embarassing Clinton years. But almost everybody was too chicken to run against her. Barack Obama was not. Being Not-Clinton, he won, strongly helped by being a true leftwinger and being black. With the Party’s left on his side, and the black and other party leaders secretly relieved he was running, he was able to replace Hillary.

Thus, in the general election the Democrats had acquired a candidate they liked and the Republicans had not. Democrats turned out to vote, and Republicans did not. Obama won.

It’s too bad I was at Oxford last year. I could have run for President. If I’d had 2 million dollars I could have gotten the nomination maybe. More seriously, if I’d energetically worked to get some other unknown with brains, good inside connections, and no track record of professorial eccentricity to run, I could have gotten him nominated. David Mackintosh, Joshua Davidson, Mark Baker, David Snyder, David Frum, or Steve Calabresi would have done nicely. It’s interesting that I have a harder time of thinking of anyone I didn’t meet via college.

Categories: elections, obama Tags:

Why Did McCain Lose?

November 19th, 2008 No comments

Of course, the obvious reasons McCain lost are that (a) the economy went into recession in the summer, (b) the Credit Crunch occurred, (c) Obama spent about twice as much (the figures are surprisingly hard to find for general election spending), (d) big media favors Obama. But it is still interesting to discuss what else mattered. There have been some people saying that McCain’s problem was that he was too conservative on social issues. Just to state that is to sound ridiculous. McCain famously dislikes religious conservatives and, in fact, the only social issue I can think of on which he is conservative is abortion, which he downplayed during the campaign. He did choose Palin as his VP candidate, as a gesture towards conservatives in the party, but his staff then spent considerable effort undercutting her.

What McCain did was to run as a hawk on foreign policy— not as a conservative, but as hawk, please note– and as I’m not sure what on economic policy. He supported the Bush tax cuts, but Obama also postured as a tax cutter, so the difference between them was not clear to the ordinary voter. McCain emphasized free trade, but he did not run as a free marketeer generally. He criticized speculators and oil companies, and in general sounded more populist than conservative except for a tendency to talk about small businesses instead of workers. And he was very quiet about social issues.

What would have happened if he had resolutely attacked homosexuality? Look at what happened with the state ballot measures. Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage won with 56% of the vote. (McCain won Arizona at just 54%.) Florida’s won with 62%. (McCain got just 49% of the vote there.) California’s won with 52%. (McCain got just 37% of the vote there.) Arkansas’ ban on same-sex adoption won with 57%. (McCain did get 59% there.) If homosexuality had been the focus issue, it seems McCain could have become President– if he was willing to take the conservative position rather than follow the country clubs.

People talk about the need for the Republicans to attract more blacks and hispanics. Exit polls say that in California a massive 70% of blacks voted for the ban on gay marriage. Here’s the obvious issue to steal away Democrat voters. The flat tax just isn’t going to do it.

Categories: elections Tags:

Contiguity of Counties

November 15th, 2008 No comments

Professor Bainbridge posts this good map and notes that McCainland is much more continguous than Obamaland.

Categories: elections Tags:

Where McCain Did Better than Bush

November 8th, 2008 No comments
Categories: elections, obama Tags:

Voter Turnout Same in 2004 and 2008

November 7th, 2008 No comments

Via Drudge, this CNN news account of a serious academic analysis says that voter turnout nationwide was about the same in 2008 as in 2004. More Democrats turned out, but fewer Republicans. That’s interesting. It makes sense. Obama had lots of money for turning out voters, and lots of special enthusiasm perhaps from blacks who would not otherwise vote. McCain was not inspiring.

Categories: elections, obama Tags:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Regulation

September 23rd, 2008 No comments

Charles Calomiris has a WSJ op-ed (with someone else) on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s role in the subprime mortgage market and the Republicans’ attempt to stop them. The Democrats are squarely to blame, it seems. The op-ed also points out that deregulation has played no role in this crisis. The problem on Wall Street is that we’ve never regulated investment banks’ capital levels, not that we’ve deregulated them, and that financial innovations have created a need for regulation.

Categories: Economics, elections Tags:

Barack Obama’s Economic Policies

August 6th, 2008 2 comments

From Obama for
President
website, here are some of his economic policies, with my
commentary.

* Provide Additional Tax Rebates to American Workers: The economy
has continued to weaken significantly, despite congressional action to
provide immediate tax rebates to American consumers. Stimulus: $20
billion.

Good. Taxes are tending to increase, so cutting them is good, even if
the tax cut is called a rebate.

* Establish a $10 billion Foreclosure Prevention Fund: Given the
downturn in the economy, Obama is calling for immediate creation of
his Foreclosure Prevention Fund that will dramatically increase
emergency pre-foreclosure counseling, and will help families facing
foreclosure to responsibly refinance their mortgages or sell their
homes. Obama’s plan will not help speculators, people buying vacation
homes or people that falsely represented their incomes. It is meant to
help responsible homeowners through this difficult period. Stimulus:
$10 billion.

Bad. People who are overextended are given plenty of time by their
banks, who lose money from foreclosures. The industry of reckless
lending should not be subsidized this way.

* Provide $10 billion in Relief for State and Local Governments
Hardest-Hit by the Housing Crisis to Prevent Cuts in Vital Services:
Because of the housing crisis and the weakening economy, many state
and local governments are facing significant revenue shortfalls.
Barack Obama believes that in the areas hardest-hit by the housing
crisis we should provide immediate, temporary funding to state and
local governments so that the decline in property values does not
cause them to slash critical public services and cut vital
infrastructure spending. Stimulus: $10 billion.

Bad. Localities can raise their own taxes if they want to, rather
than using national taxes.

* Extend and Expand Unemployment Insurance: Barack Obama believes
we must extend and strengthen the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program
to address the needs of the long-term unemployed, who currently make
up nearly one-fifth of the unemployed and are often older workers who
have lost their jobs in manufacturing or other industries and have a
difficult time finding new employment. Expanding UI is one of the most
effective ways to combat economic turmoil; every dollar invested in UI
benefits results in $1.73 in economic output. Obama is calling for a
temporary expansion of the UI program for those who have exhausted
their current eligibility. Stimulus: $10 billion.

Bad. We shouldn’t encourage people to stay unemployed.

* Provide a Tax Cut for Working Families: Obama will restore
fairness to the tax code and provide 150 million workers the tax
relief they need. Obama will create a new “Making Work Pay” tax credit
of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family. The “Making
Work Pay” tax credit will completely eliminate income taxes for 10
million Americans.

Bad. We’ve already done too much of this. It’s good for everyone to
contribute at least a little in income tax. Also, this plan does
exactly what the Earned Income Credit is supposed to be doing
already.

* Eliminate Income Taxes for Seniors Making Less than $50,000:
Barack Obama will eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less
than $50,000 per year. This proposal will eliminate income taxes for 7
million seniors and provide these seniors with an average savings of
$1,400 each year. Under the Obama plan, 27 million American seniors
will also not need to file an income tax return.

Bad. Why should old people get a special tax break?

* Simplify Tax Filings for Middle Class Americans: Obama will
dramatically simplify tax filings so that millions of Americans will
be able to do their taxes in less than five minutes. Obama will ensure
that the IRS uses the information it already gets from banks and
employers to give taxpayers the option of pre-filled tax forms to
verify, sign and return. Experts estimate that the Obama proposal will
save Americans up to 200 million total hours of work and aggravation
and up to $2 billion in tax preparer fees.

Good idea.

* Fight for Fair Trade: Obama will fight for a trade policy that
opens up foreign markets to support good American jobs. He will use
trade agreements to spread good labor and environmental standards
around the world and stand firm against agreements like the Central
American Free Trade Agreement that fail to live up to those important
benchmarks. Obama will also pressure the World Trade Organization to
enforce trade agreements and stop countries from continuing unfair
government subsidies to foreign exporters and nontariff barriers on
U.S. exports.

* Amend the North American Free Trade Agreement: Obama believes
that NAFTA and its potential were oversold to the American people.
Obama will work with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to fix NAFTA so
that it works for American workers.

Bad. He’s a protectionist.

* Improve Transition Assistance: To help all workers adapt to a
rapidly changing economy, Obama would update the existing system of
Trade Adjustment Assistance by extending it to service industries,
creating flexible education accounts to help workers retrain, and
providing retraining assistance for workers in sectors of the economy
vulnerable to dislocation before they lose their jobs.

Bad. Boondoggle spending.

* Invest in our Next Generation Innovators and Job Creators: Obama
will create an Advanced Manufacturing Fund to identify and invest in
the most compelling advanced manufacturing strategies. The Fund will
have a peer-review selection and award process based on the Michigan
21st Century Jobs Fund, a state-level initiative that has awarded over
$125 million to Michigan businesses with the most innovative proposals
to create new products and new jobs in the state.

* Double Funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership: The
Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) works with manufacturers
across the country to improve efficiency, implement new technology and
strengthen company growth. This highly-successful program has engaged
in more than 350,000 projects across the country and in 2006 alone,
helped create and protect over 50,000 jobs. But despite this success,
funding for MEP has been slashed by the Bush administration. Barack
Obama will double funding for the MEP so its training centers can
continue to bolster the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers.

Bad. This is fascist industrial policy, the kind that was widely
ridiculed in the 1980’s. The government shouldn’t be funding private
investment.

* Invest In A Clean Energy Economy And Create 5 Million New Green
Jobs: Obama will invest $150 billion over 10 years to advance the next
generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the
commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of
commercial scale renewable energy, invest in low emissions coal
plants, and begin transition to a new digital electricity grid. The
plan will also invest in America’s highly-skilled manufacturing
workforce and manufacturing centers to ensure that American workers
have the skills and tools they need to pioneer the first wave of green
technologies that will be in high demand throughout the world.

Okay.

* Create New Job Training Programs for Clean Technologies: The
Obama plan will increase funding for federal workforce training
programs and direct these programs to incorporate green technologies
training, such as advanced manufacturing and weatherization training,
into their efforts to help Americans find and retain stable, high-
paying jobs. Obama will also create an energy-focused youth jobs
program to invest in disconnected and disadvantaged youth.

Bad. Industrial policy again.

[To be continued]

* Boost the Renewable Energy Sector and Create New Jobs: The Obama
plan will create new federal policies, and expand existing ones, that
have been proven to create new American jobs. Obama will create a
federal Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that will require 25
percent of American electricity be derived from renewable sources by
2025, which has the potential to create hundreds of thousands of new
jobs on its own. Obama will also extend the Production Tax Credit, a
credit used successfully by American farmers and investors to increase
renewable energy production and create new local jobs.

Terrible idea, and rotten economics.

Barack Obama believes that it is critically important for the United
States to rebuild its national transportation infrastructure – its
highways, bridges, roads, ports, air, and train systems – to
strengthen user safety, bolster our long-term competitiveness and
ensure our economy continues to grow.

* Create a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank: Barack Obama
will address the infrastructure challenge by creating a National
Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank to expand and enhance, not supplant,
existing federal transportation investments. This independent entity
will be directed to invest in our nation’s most challenging
transportation infrastructure needs. The Bank will receive an infusion
of federal money, $60 billion over 10 years, to provide financing to
transportation infrastructure projects across the nation. These
projects will create up to two million new direct and indirect jobs
per year and stimulate approximately $35 billion per year in new
economic activity.

Infrastructure is what a lot of our porkbarrel spending has been about. This Bank would have huge patronage power and would undoubtedly be corrupt, just like Democrat-led Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

* Invest in the Sciences: Barack Obama supports doubling federal
funding for basic research …

* Make the Research and Development Tax Credit Permanent: Barack
Obama wants investments in a skilled research and development
workforce and technology infrastructure to be supported here in
America so that American workers and communities will benefit. Obama
wants to make the Research and Development tax credit permanent so
that firms can rely on it when making decisions to invest in domestic
R&D over multi-year timeframes.

I do like that.

* Deploy Next-Generation Broadband: Barack Obama believes we can
get broadband to every community in America through a combination of
reform of the Universal Service Fund, better use of the nation’s
wireless spectrum, promotion of next-generation facilities,
technologies and applications, and new tax and loan incentives.

I don’t know much about that.

* Provide Tax Relief for Small Businesses and Start Up Companies:
Barack Obama will eliminate all capital gains taxes on start-up and
small businesses to encourage innovation and job creation. Obama will
also support small business owners by providing a $500 “Making Work
Pay” tax credit to almost every worker in America. Self-employed small
business owners pay both the employee and the employer side of the
payroll tax, and this measure will reduce the burdens of this double
taxation.

This sounds like a good tax cut.

* Create a National Network of Public-Private Business Incubators:
Barack Obama will support entrepreneurship and spur job growth by
creating a national network of public-private business incubators.
Business incubators facilitate the critical work of entrepreneurs in
creating start-up companies. Obama will invest $250 million per year
to increase the number and size of incubators in disadvantaged
communities throughout the country.

Sounds like pork to me.

Obama will strengthen the ability of workers to organize unions. He
will fight for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. Obama will
ensure that his labor appointees support workers’ rights and will work
to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers. Obama will also
increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation to ensure it rises
every year.

All bad. He wants to support unionized workers at the expense of poor workers who might compete with them.

* Ensure Freedom to Unionize: Obama believes that workers should
have the freedom to choose whether to join a union without harassment
or intimidation from their employers. Obama cosponsored and is strong
advocate for the Employee Free Choice Act, a bipartisan effort to
assure that workers can exercise their right to organize. He will
continue to fight for EFCA’s passage and sign it into law.

I don’t know this bill, but unionizing already has lots of protection, since the 1930s.

* Fight Attacks on Workers’ Right to Organize: Obama has fought
the Bush National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) efforts to strip
workers of their right to organize. He is a cosponsor of legislation
to overturn the NLRB’s “Kentucky River” decisions classifying hundreds
of thousands of nurses, construction, and professional workers as
“supervisors” who are not protected by federal labor laws.

I don’t know this decision, but my guess is that he wants to force all these people to join unions against their will.

* Protect Striking Workers: Obama supports the right of workers to
bargain collectively and strike if necessary. He will work to ban the
permanent replacement of striking workers, so workers can stand up for
themselves without worrying about losing their livelihoods.

If a worker decides his employer is not paying him enough and goes on strike, why shouldn’t the employer be allowed to hire someone else who would be happy to get that wage?

* Raise the Minimum Wage: Barack Obama will raise the minimum
wage, index it to inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit
to make sure that full-time workers earn a living wage that allows
them to raise their families and pay for basic needs.

Bad economics.What he really wants is to get those workers fired so union workers who pay him big campaign contributions will be hired instead.

* Create a New FHA Housing Security Program: Barack Obama strongly
supports the efforts of Senate Banking Committee Chair Chris Dodd
(D–CT) to create a new Federal Housing Administration (FHA) program
that will provide meaningful incentives for lenders to buy or
refinance existing mortgages and convert them into stable 30-year
fixed mortgages. This plan provides an important federal backstop –
not a bailout – to this growing national problem. Neither lenders nor
homeowners would receive a windfall from this plan.

I don’t know that bill.

* Create a Universal Mortgage Credit: Obama will create a 10
percent universal mortgage credit to provide homeowners who do not
itemize tax relief. This credit will provide an average of $500 to 10
million homeowners, the majority of whom earn less than $50,000 per
year.

* Ensure More Accountability in the Subprime Mortgage Industry:
Obama has been closely monitoring the subprime mortgage situation for
years, and introduced comprehensive legislation over a year ago to
fight mortgage fraud and protect consumers against abusive lending
practices. Obama’s STOP FRAUD Act provides the first federal
definition of mortgage fraud, increases funding for federal and state
law enforcement programs, creates new criminal penalties for mortgage
professionals found guilty of fraud, and requires industry insiders to
report suspicious activity.

* Mandate Accurate Loan Disclosure: Obama will create a Homeowner
Obligation Made Explicit (HOME) score, which will provide potential
borrowers with a simplified, standardized borrower metric (similar to
APR) for home mortgages. The HOME score will allow individuals to
easily compare various mortgage products and understand the full cost
of the loan.

* Create Fund to Help Homeowners Avoid Foreclosures: Obama will
create a fund to help people refinance their mortgages and provide
comprehensive supports to innocent homeowners. The fund will be
partially paid for by Obama’s increased penalties on lenders who act
irresponsibly and commit fraud.

* Close Bankruptcy Loophole for Mortgage Companies: Obama will
work to eliminate the provision that prevents bankruptcy courts from
modifying an individual’s mortgage payments. Obama believes that the
subprime mortgage industry, which has engaged in dangerous and
sometimes unscrupulous business practices, should not be shielded by
outdated federal law.

* Create a Credit Card Rating System to Improve Disclosure: Obama
will create a credit card rating system, modeled on five-star systems
used for other consumer products, to provide consumers an easily
identifiable ranking of credit cards, based on the card’s features.
Credit card companies will be required to display the rating on all
application and contract materials, enabling consumers to quickly
understand all of the major provisions of a credit card without having
to rely exclusively on fine print in lengthy documents.

* Establish a Credit Card Bill of Rights to Protect Consumers:
Obama will create a Credit Card Bill of Rights to protect consumers.
The Obama plan will:
o Ban Unilateral Changes
o Apply Interest Rate Increases Only to Future Debt
o Prohibit Interest on Fees
o Prohibit “Universal Defaults”
o Require Prompt and Fair Crediting of Cardholder Payments

* Cap Outlandish Interest Rates on Payday Loans and Improve
Disclosure: Obama supports extending a 36 percent interest cap to all
Americans. Obama will require lenders to provide clear and simplified
information about loan fees, payments and penalties, which is why
he’ll require lenders to provide this information during the
application process.

* Encourage Responsible Lending Institutions to Make Small
Consumer Loans: Obama will encourage banks, credit unions and
Community Development Financial Institutions to provide affordable
short-term and small-dollar loans and to drive unscrupulous lenders
out of business.

* Reform Bankruptcy Laws to Protect Families Facing a Medical
Crisis: Obama will create an exemption in bankruptcy law for
individuals who can prove they filed for bankruptcy because of medical
expenses. This exemption will create a process that forgives the debt
and lets the individuals get back on their feet.

* Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act: The FMLA covers only
certain employees of employers with 50 or more employees. Obama will
expand it to cover businesses with 25 or more employees. He will
expand the FMLA to cover more purposes as well, including allowing
workers to take leave for elder care needs; allowing parents up to 24
hours of leave each year to participate in their children’s academic
activities; and expanding FMLA to cover leave for employees to address
domestic violence.

* Encourage States to Adopt Paid Leave: As president, Obama will
initiate a strategy to encourage all 50 states to adopt paid-leave
systems. Obama will provide a $1.5 billion fund to assist states with
start-up costs and to help states offset the costs for employees and
employers.

* Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Obama will double
funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the
21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve a million more
children. Obama will include measures to maximize performance and
effectiveness across grantees nationwide.

* Expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit: The Child and
Dependent Care Tax Credit provides too little relief to families that
struggle to afford child care expenses. Obama will reform the Child
and Dependent Care Tax Credit by making it refundable and allowing
low-income families to receive up to a 50 percent credit for their
child care expenses.

* Protect Against Caregiver Discrimination: Workers with family
obligations often are discriminated against in the workplace. Obama
will enforce the recently-enacted Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission guidelines on caregiver discrimination.

* Expand Flexible Work Arrangements: Obama will create a program
to inform businesses about the benefits of flexible work schedules;
help businesses create flexible work opportunities; and increase
federal incentives for telecommuting. Obama will also make the federal
government a model employer in terms of adopting flexible work
schedules and permitting employees to request flexible arrangements.

* Housing: In the U.S. Senate, Obama introduced the STOP FRAUD Act
to increase penalties for mortgage fraud and provide more protections
for low-income homebuyers, well before the current subprime crisis
began.

* Predatory Lending: In the Illinois State Senate, Obama called
attention to predatory lending issues. Obama sponsored legislation to
combat predatory payday loans, and he also was credited with lobbying
the state to more closely regulate some of the most egregious
predatory lending practices.

* American Jobs: Barack Obama introduced the Patriot Employer Act
of 2007 to provide a tax credit to companies that maintain or increase
the number of full-time workers in America relative to those outside
the US; maintain their corporate headquarters in America; pay decent
wages; prepare workers for retirement; provide health insurance; and
support employees who serve in the military.

Categories: Economics, elections, obama Tags:

John McCain’s Economic Policies

August 6th, 2008 No comments

I’ve just been asked to sign an economists’ letter of support for John McCain’s economic plan. In general I don’t like that kind of letter unless it’s on some issue where pretty much all top economists can agree. Possibly there would be a consensus on the policy proposals mentioned in the letter itself, but McCain has some bad economic policy views not mentioned there.

First, what’s in the letter. I’ve omitted the first and last “puff” parts.

His plan would control government spending by vetoing every bill with earmarks, implementing a constitutionally valid line-item veto, pausing non-military discretionary government spending programs for one year to stop their explosive growth and place accountability on federal government agencies.

Vetoing every bill with earmarks is a bad idea. He thereby throws away his bargaining power with Congress, and his ability to buy votes for important national-interest policies. Often a president needs to buy support for his foreign policy or trade policy by using earmarks.

The line-item veto would be good.

Pausing spending is bad. I don’t know that most agencies’ budgets have been growing too fast– the big complaint is about earmarks.

His plan would keep taxes from rising, because higher tax rates are exactly the wrong policy to restore economic growth, especially at this time.

His plan would reduce tax rates by cutting the tax that corporations pay to 25 percent in line with other countries, by completely phasing out the alternative minimum tax, by increasing the exemption for dependents, by permitting the first-year expensing of new equipment and technology, and by making permanent a reformed tax credit for R&D.

That’s pretty good. I’m not sure about eliminating the AMT, though, because it’s a flat tax, which is a good thing.

His plan would also create a new and much simpler tax system and give Americans a free choice of whether to pay taxes under that simple system or the current complex and burdensome income tax.

That’s a good idea.

His plan would open new markets for American goods and services and thereby create additional jobs for Americans by supporting good free trade agreements, such as the one with Colombia, and working with leaders around the world to avoid isolationism and protectionism. His plan would also reform education, retraining, and other assistance programs so they better help those displaced by trade and other changes in the economy. His plan addresses problems in the financial markets and housing markets by calling for increased transparency and accountability, by targeted assistance to deserving homeowners to refinance their mortgages, and by opposing so-called reform plans which would raise the costs of home-ownership in the future.

Free trade is good. “Deserving homeowners” shouldn’t be bailed out. We DO need reforms to raise the cost of home ownership for the rich.

Now for some other things from the Issues section of his website (accessible via http://www.johnmccain.com/Issues/JobsforAmerica/energy.htm.

John McCain will put our country on track to construct 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030 with the ultimate goal of eventually constructing 100 new plants.

Very good.

John McCain will encourage the market for alternative, low carbon fuels such as wind, hydro and solar power. … John McCain believes in an even- handed system of tax credits that will remain in place until renewable energy has progressed to the point that it is competitive with conventional energy sources.

Bad.

John McCain will commit our country to expanding domestic oil and natural gas exploration. The current federal moratorium on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf stands in the way of energy exploration and production. John McCain believes it is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions and work with states to put our own reserves to use.

Good.

For every automaker who can sell a zero-emissions car, John McCain will commit a $5,000 tax credit for each and every customer who buys that car. For other vehicles, whatever type they may be, the lower the carbon emissions, the higher the tax credit.

Bad.

John McCain has long supported CAFE standards – the mileage requirements that automobile manufacturers’ cars must meet. Some carmakers ignore these standards, pay a small financial penalty, and add it to the price of their cars. John McCain believes that the penalties for not following these standards must be effective enough to compel carmakers to produce fuel-efficient vehicles.

Bad.

John McCain will make greening the federal government a priority of his administration…. By applying a higher efficiency standard to new buildings leased or purchased and retrofitting existing buildings, we can save taxpayers money in energy costs, and move the construction market in the direction of green technology.

Bad

John McCain will lead the fight for medical liability reform that eliminates lawsuits directed at doctors who follow clinical guidelines and adhere to proven safety protocols.

Good.

… John McCain will give every family a refundable tax credit – cash towards insurance – of $5,000 (Individuals receive $2,500). Every family in America, regardless of the source of their insurance or how much they make will get the same help. Families will be able to stay with their current plan, or choose the insurance provider that suits them best and have the money sent directly to the insurance provider.

This sounds crazy, so it’s probably not quite as stated. As stated, a family already receiving $8000/year in employer-provided insurance could take the government’s $5000 and top up their insurance with superduper coverage–say, for plastic surgery, air fares to exotic hospitals, etc. Probably the plan is limited to basic health insurance, in which case it might not be so bad.

Americans need insurance that follows them from job to job. Too many job decisions today are controlled by a fear of losing health care. Americans want insurance that is still there if they retire early and does not change if they take a few years off to raise the children. John McCain will lead the reform for portable insurance.

I’m not sure about that one. It’s a good question as to what that will do to adverse selection.

[to be continued]

Categories: Economics, elections Tags:

The Popular Vote: Obama or Hillary?

June 2nd, 2008 No comments

Back to that question of who has more of the popular vote, Obama or
Hillary: Realclearpolitics, has the following table:

Popular Vote

The top heading “Popular Vote Total” is the popular vote excluding
Michigan. The third and fourth lines include Michigan, unmodified. The
fifth and sixth lines include Michigan, but with 100% of the Uncommitted
vote going to Obama.

The second, fourth, and sixth lines include estimates of the popular
votes in the caucus states of Iowa, Nevada, Maine, and Washington.

But as
Talkleft
points out, there is still another wrinkle to the
definition of “popular vote”: states which have both caucuses and
primaries, where the caucus determines who gets the delegates, but the
primary has more voters expressing a preference for a candidate.
Nebraska, Idaho, and Washington both had primaries as well as caucuses. It seems
reasonable to include them if we are measuring popular votes cast either
literally or to see which candidate has more support among voters.

Including them helps Hillary and hurts Obama. I use numbers from
Talkleft
.

Nebraska had a primary in May, as well as its earlier caucuses which
actually chose the delegates (see here for a news
story).

Nebraska had 38 thousand caucus votes and 95 thousand votes in its
May primary. In the caucuses, Obama beat Hillary 68% to 32%, 26 to
12 thousand, a 14 thousand margin. In the primary, Obama beat Hillary
49.4% to 46.6%, 47 to 44, a 3 thousand margin. Replacing caucus with
primary results adds 11 thousand to Hillary’s total popular vote.

Washington had 238 thousand caucus votes and 691 thousand votes in its
February primary (on which, see here). In the
caucuses, Obama beat Hillary 67% to 31%, 159 to 74 thousand, an 85
thousand margin. In the primary, Obama beat Hillary 51% to 45%, 352
to 311 thousand, a 41 thousand margin. Replacing caucus with primary
results adds 44 thousand to Hillary’s total popular vote.

In Idaho, Obama had a 13 thousand vote lead in the caucuses, but only 8 thousand in the primary.

Replacing the Washington and Nebraska and Idaho caucus results with primary
results thus helps Hillary by 60 thousand votes. The spreads in
RealClearPolitics’s 6 categories change to

Clinton +36 thousand

Obama +74

Clinton +363
Clinton +2538
Clinton +125

Clinton +16

Thus, the only definition of these, once Nebraska and Washington popular
votes are included, by which Obama wins is if we exclude the Michigan
primary and include estimates from the 4 caucus states.

Of course, all of these vote totals are very close, as are the
delegate totals. Their main importance in my opinion is as a gauge of
how much each candidate appeals to voters, and really we should weight
the later primaries more heavily in measuring that. For someone who
believes in “count every vote”, though, the popular vote is crucial,
more important perhaps than the vote allocated by the rules.

Speaking of the rules, the Democratic National Committee ruling today
puzzles me. It seems blatantly illegal. The DNC has said that delegates
from Michigan and Florida will only get 1/2 vote each. That’s fine—
those states broke the rules. But it is also allocating the Uncommitted
vote in Michigan to Obama, giving him the delegates based on that. Since
the voters voted for Uncommitted, not Obama, how can those delegates
possibly be committed to vote for Obama? The same result could have been
achieved by picking allowing the Obama camp to pick the delegates but
leaving them formally uncommitted, but why wasn’t that done? Or *is*
that how it was done?

Categories: elections, obama Tags:

Hilary Clinton Is Winning the Popular Vote

April 23rd, 2008 No comments

Michael Barone has good posts here and post-Penn about Clinton’s popular vote chances. But I think he does it wrong.

Since the popular vote competition is informal, each side will pick its own rules. Mrs. Clinton has said that MIchigan and Florida should count. Florida gives her 288 thousand and Michigan gives her a 90 thousand margin over Uncommitted, though she will point out that it gives her 328 thousand more people than voted for Obama, who wasn’t on the ballot. That’s 616 thousand from those two states,using Clinton-supporter math.

RealClearPolitics gave Obama a lead of 827 thousand before Pennsylvania. Subtract the 106 thousand that’s just attributed to Obama from caucus states but are not actual votes, to get 721 thousand. Subtract Florida and Michigan to get 105 thousand. Now subtract Clinton’s 205 thousand margin from Pennsylvania, and she’s ahead nationally by 100,000 votes. She doesn’t need Porto Rico any more to claim victory.

Which rules to use is debatable. It being debatable is a good argument for judging winners by pre-set rules rather than ex post judgements. Many Democrats prefer ex post judgements, both as a matter of political style (that applies to judicial decisionmaking too) and because they argued for it in the Gore-Florida situation in 2000. Furthermore, in that election they argued for the most expansive rules possible, to count the most people who came to the polls and tried to vote (though as I recall– I might be wrong– nobody realized at the time that if the Democrat definition had been adopted, Bush would have won). Here, a primitive one-man one-vote theory would say that Clinton is ahead, because Obama really didn’t get any votes in Michigan. To get round that, you’d have to resort to a theory that what should count is who people would have voted for if their candidate had been on the ballot, and that is perilously close to a theory of how people would have voted if Obama had been as much the favorite in January as he is now.

I think these popular-vote calculations shouldn’t matter and it would be fine for the superdelegates to ignore them. But then I thought it was fine to follow the pre-set rules in Florida 2000 too. The Democrats think differently, so they have a big problem– and it is a problem not unrelated to their political philosophy, so we shouldn’t feel it’s unfair that they have it.

Categories: elections, obama Tags:

Election Fraud and Fired US Attorney John McKay

October 5th, 2007 No comments

I have read people saying that election fraud has trivial importance in the United States, so the Republicans’ desire for investigations and for identity to be verified for voting is unjustified. Here’s clear evidence against that. Note, too, the behavior of US Attorney John McKay, who was later fired.Click here to read more