McCain can’t win on the issues

George W. Bush’s approval rating is just a shade above EPIC FAIL. As much as he’d like to claim to be an agent of change, McCain’s policies are much, much closer to GWB’s than he’d like to admit. If this election was all about the issues, McCain would lose, of that I have no doubt.

So, rather than campaigning on the issues, John McCain has thrown all integrity out the window. He’s building a campaign on lies and stupid non-issues. He’s chosen a running mate based on political motivations rather than ability to lead this country should something happen to him. (Actuaries would certainly argue that something is more likely to happen to McCain than to Obama.)

For his part, Obama has exaggerated a bit and used negative campaigning. From what I have seen Obama has not stooped to outright lying, and I sincerely hope he doesn’t start. Thank goodness for FactCheck.org, because that site really helps keep things on the level. I wish all voters would follow that site.

Obama is not a perfect candidate, nor is he running on a perfect platform. But, to me, McCain/Palin sounds every bit as bad as Bush/Cheney. Earlier this year, I didn’t think so. I thought that McCain was a man of honor and would be a step up from GWB. After a week of lies and lipstick, McCain has shown what he’s truly made of. A vote for McCain/Palin is a vote for FAIL.

For people not in swing states, it’s worth checking out what Ron Paul and Bob Barr are up to. Ron Paul has real reform in mind, rather than “change” as a slogan. If you are in a swing state (as I am), vote Obama for a chance at something better than we’ve had for the past 8 years.

Negative advertising works

Al over the place, there was news of Obama and McCain moving into a dead heat in the polls. Earlier in the summer, Obama had more than 320 electoral votes according to the polls (270 are required to win). Now, Obama and McCain both have less than 270. If you check out the graphs at electoral-vote.com, you can see that 2008 looks suspiciously like 2004, with the Democrat leading and then losing ground after the negative ads kicked in. (Not coincidentally, McCain has placed a Karl Rove protégé in power in his campaign, so we can expect more Rovian behavior from that camp.)

Of course, Obama is a very different candidate from Kerry, and I think there’s still plenty of time in the election for the trends to shift back.

I was struck by an interesting parallel in the software world:

The new ad effort is expected to use some variation of the slogan “Windows, Not Walls,” according to several people familiar with the matter. Those people say the point is to stress breaking down barriers that prevent people and ideas from connecting.

[From Microsoft Hiring Seinfeld for Major Ad Campaign – Mac Rumors]

Apple’s “Get A Mac” ads were basically negative advertising, playing up the strength of Macs relative to the annoyance of Windows. (Contrast with the iPhone ads, which just show the overall goodness of the iPhone.)

As noted in the MacRumors article, Microsoft sees the Get A Mac ads as having been effective (and how could they not, with Apple’s market share, revenue, unit sales and profits all surging?). Microsoft is taking the “high road” in their response. I tend to think that stressing the “openness” of Windows is not a good approach. For one, Windows is hardly the king of openness. Secondly, Microsoft tried a similar approach with their various media playing attempts, but people still preferred the experience of the iPod. And finally, it seems that the negative, yet still entertaining, spin of the Get A Mac ads is likely to resonate much better.

As with anything, time will tell. But how many people really think this kind of campaign with stop the Mac’s rising tide?

(Update: I should note that the MacRumors article is really about Seinfeld starring in the new Microsoft ads. I presume that they’re going for a humorous slant to the ads, which I do think is a good move. I just still think that the “openness” theme is one that won’t resonate as well.)

The Onion nails it in January 2001

This article from The Onion in January 2001 shows why The Onion remains among the best satire around. As absurd as this article sounds, it has proven all too true…

Under Bush, we can all look forward to military aggression, deregulation of dangerous, greedy industries, and the defunding of vital domestic social-service programs upon which millions depend.

[From Bush: ‘Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over’ | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source]

Articles of Impeachment against Bush

news.google.com had among the top stories that Dennis Kucinich has filed Articles of Impeachment against George W. Bush. You wouldn’t know it from looking at CNN.com, which includes such politically charged stories as John McCain promising to “veto every beer”. Maybe Lee Stranahan is right and what’s needed is iPeachment ’08 (3G).

Though Bush is certainly worthy of impeachment, I cannot imagine these proceedings getting very far during an election year.

Hillary Clinton, Democratic Presidential Nominee

“The states I’ve won total 300 electoral votes. If we had the same rules as the Republicans, I would be nominee right now”

Hillary Clinton

That may be true, though I’m sure she’s counting Michigan and Florida despite the fact that Michigan didn’t even have Obama on the ballot. So it’s actually “if we had the same rules as the Republicans and if I hadn’t agreed to punish the states that went early.”

Hillary has had to continually come up with new kinds of math to reason as to why she is still going. I’d like to offer up an approach she hasn’t taken yet:

Bad handwriting numbers

That’s her current, pre-Kentucky, delegate tally from CNN.com. When written like that, if you kind of squint at it a bit, it looks like 2753 which very comfortably gives her the nomination. Congrats, Hillary!

p.s. to Hillary fans: I would undoubtedly vote for Hillary over McCain, if that were the choice. I just believe that dealing in “if-only” scenarios and continuing to waste money (money that could otherwise go toward the general election) on a campaign that is doomed to fail just weakens the democratic party. After today, Obama will only be about 50 delegates away from the nomination.

The Constitution is there to restrict the government

This is on CNN: Attorney: DNC violates Constitution:

Steinberg argued that the 14th Amendment, which bars states from denying individuals equal protection under the law, should prohibit the DNC from creating rules that make the votes of the residents of those four states “paramount to the rights of the voters in Florida.”

I am not a lawyer (Steinberg is), but this seems so obviously wrong. Steinberg must be a publicity-hunting Clinton supporter. The 14th Amendment “bars states”, but the DNC is not a state. The Constitution’s purpose is not to restrict what individuals can do (the laws Congress makes do that). It’s purpose is to restrict what the government can do.

So, while the DNC and RNC are quite important as far as who gets elected in this country, they are not actual government agencies. One court has already tossed this case out.

If someone is a lawyer and I’m completely wrong about this, I’d like to hear it… but from what I’ve read, this case makes no sense at all.

Wait… who won in Texas?

Clinton has been widely touted as having won in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island. But, they’re not done counting yet. Texas awards 126 delegates via the primary and another 67 via caucuses. It’s a weird system, and one can legitimately claim that Clinton won the primaries (65 delegates to 61). But, by the latest count, Obama is leading the caucuses by 56% percent. If that percentage holds, the final delegate count in Texas will be 98 for Obama and 95 for Clinton.

So, it seems likely that Clinton won Ohio and Rhode Island, but Obama won Texas and Vermont and still holds a commanding lead. The only way Clinton will get the nomination is if the superdelegates decide to vote for her in direct contrast to the primary and caucus results.

Oddly, there still seem to be people claiming that Clinton is more electable. This despite recent poll numbers showing that Obama leads McCain by 12 percentage points, while a Clinton-McCain matchup has Clinton leading by only 6 points. Obviously, no one but Diebold knows how the election will go at this point, but calling Clinton more electable just doesn’t seem to stack up.

Change Congress

When there’s a long tradition for something and a lot of money behind keeping that tradition alive, it becomes very easy to say “that’s just how it is” and continue on your merry way. Change is hard, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

Larry Lessig wants to start some change. Specifically, he thinks that the current mode of operation in Congress is a little too beholden to business-backed lobbyists, and there’s evidence of that all over the place in the law books. Lessig hopes to change some of the fundamental dynamic in Washington in order to be able to start thinking about the bigger problems. Specifically, he wants to see members of Congress pledge to:

  1. Not accept money from lobbyists/PACs
  2. Ban earmarks in spending bills
  3. Support public financing of campaigns

He plans to put a bunch of energy into this Change Congress initiative to try to make this happen. As part of this, he’s considering a run for Congress in his own district.

I think it’s a worthwhile effort, and I want to support Larry by linking to him here: Lessig ’08. If you want a better intro to Change Congress, check out the first few minutes of the video on the front page of Larry’s site.

Obama for President

I couple of days ago, I added the spiffy Obama badge on the right hand side of my blog. If I were Dave Barry, I’d write about how “this blog” is endorsing Obama. But, I’m not Dave Barry. I’m endorsing Obama for President. He’s on the right side of technical issues, he’s got good ideas for a number of other issues and he comes across as one with real integrity, which is something our government can use at this point. Check out the xkcd endorsement which parallels much of what I’ve been thinking.

BTW, I believe I am still a registered Republican, which I did at one point when I bought the whole “tax and spend” nonsense that the Republicans would spew forth. Don’t-tax-enough-and-spend has been the Republican motto for as long as I’ve been following politics. I’ve had enough of the bad economics, the secrecy and the trampling on American civil liberties. The Democrat gets my vote for President, and I hope that Democrat is Obama.