Monthly Archives: February 2008

Those Did Not Meet Him Feel The Lack

Please allow this brief aside for a brief remembrance of William F. Buckley, Jr.  Below is a copy of an e-mail I sent to those at National Review and National Review Online.

When I think to what William F. Buckley meant to me, I set aside the political influence.  When in college, back when I was a haphazard pot-smoking hippie redneck with ill-considered radical libertarian leanings, he was foremost an example of a fine man.
I can remember sitting around a coffee table with some like-minded friends, and some leftist ones, and we all agreed.  His interests expanded beyond politics, his humanitarian instincts were obvious even to those who disagreed with his policy positions, and almost without fail he was exceedingly gracious and kind.
The young men around that table would not generally be expected to receive warm welcome in stereotypically conservative company, but we all concurred in our high estimation of him.  My estimation has only increased over time as maturity has taught me how challenging and difficult being right with the world can be.
Today is indeed a day for both sadness and celebration.  Not too much of the former, though.  As my own father observed upon the death of his dad, a full and righteous life lived to its natural end is the most any of us can hope for in our brief time here.  Mr. Buckley most assuredly achieved this, as the testimonies of those closest to him will surely show.
Of course, his politics informed me as well.  More and more over time, in fact.  But if I learned anything from him it is this:  Life is much more than politics and haggling over ideological nuance.  We all owe him a debt of gratitude, both Left and Right.

PA Dem. Superdelegate Leon Lynch Backs Obama

Josh over at the Morning Call has brought to my attention the news that DNC member and Pennsylvania super-delegate Leon Lynch has endorsed Obama.

According to this story at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, this retired VP of the United Steelworkers of America is not only supporting Obama, but will also lobby his former union to endorse him as well.  Lynch– and his union– were supporters of John Edwards.  My PA tabulation here has been updated accordingly.

While this is bad anecdotal news for Ms. Clinton, it could be worse, as Mr. Lynch happens to be a black guy.  So while Mr. Lynch is a union man, he may not be part of a distressing trend for her campaign.  Obama’s recent winning streak has at least partly been due to the fact that white, male democrats have been breaking his way.  If that trend continues here in the Commonwealth, she’s cooked.

Some May Ask: “So What’s The Solution Smarty-Pants?”

One of the delegation candidates running who happens to be endorsed and is not some rabble-rousing manufacturer of nuisance like myself asked me “Dysfunctional system?  Of course.  I’d be curious about your remedies.”

First, it may be news to people who run the Pennsylvania GOP, but pretty much all the delegation candidates with whom I have spoken agree our primary system is broken and wish it would be reformed.  As such, my notion of a protest vote is, by definition, not radical or contrary to the will GOP members.  Nor is it contrary to the will of their constituents, at least as far as we can tell.

Seems to me the best idea is the rotating regional primary.  A national primary day would be an improvement, but it would be nice to maintain the ability for a less wealthy candidate to slowly build momentum.  A regional primary might preserve that.

See the Wikipedia entry for regional primaries:

Furthermore, I would make delegational appointments proportional, and still maintain a small pool of unpledged delegates who would decide the race in cases of very, very close races.  The ratio currently in the Democrat party seems high.

For a variety of reasons the national parties aren’t all that warm to the idea.  I think it mostly has to do with a reluctance to “learn” a new system, and also the fact that some political perquisites are currently distributed with the current system.  Also, the way the system currently runs has put those very beneficiaries in the position of determining if reform is necessary.

In order to draw attention to this need for reform, I plan to lobby delegates from Pennsylvania to formally abstain.  This has three major benefits:

1)  While abstaining the delegation can express full-throated moral support for the presumptive nominee, so party unity is preserved.  Personally, I don’t think unity in this context matters a whit.  Some people of good conscience think it does, though, so the charitable thing to do is to find a way to accommodate them.

2)  The threat of a protest may actually force people to listen to our delegation in less sexy convention procedures, like the platform ratification.  Some of those less sexy rituals may actually end up having something to do with election reform.

3)  By abstaining on the floor the whole nation would briefly be forced to consider this issue.  As reform is necessary on a national level, this is critically important on a PR level.  Nothing will ever happen unless those responsible for keeping it the way it is have a bright light pointed at them.

That’s the gist of what I’m doing here, at least on the GOP end.  If the state folks don’t get back to me soon, I am going to have to start freelancing again.  I’d rather not.  I’m as lazy as the next guy, and would love their help.

Hillary Campaign Missing Important Part of Superdelegate Message

Jonah Goldberg over on NRO made an incisive observation this morning on The Corner regarding a vacuum in the Clinton’s campaign’s messaging.

It is well known it is pretty much impossible for Clinton to win enough pledged democratic delegates to mathematically ensure victory on the Democratic Convention.  This is why Harold Ickes apparently now has an 80 hour a week job at Clinton campaign HQ devoted to superdelegate lobbying.

What is less well known is the same math applies to Obama.  Neither candidate has a realistic chance of securing enough pledged delegates to render the super-delegates superfluous.

Since it seems likely Hillary will have less pledged delegates, though, Goldberg observes that her campaign should find a way to insert a defence of superdelegates into the answer of every question put to them.  More specifically, a defense of why it is appropriate for them to vote for Clinton when their state voted for Obama.

If someone asks them about Pakistan, their answer should be “Ms. Clinton is the only Democrat candidate with any foreign policy experience, which is why it would be entirely appropriate for superdelegates to take this experience into consideration when casting their votes.

If asked about global warming, they should answer “Ms. Clinton has remained close with Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore, and as such is a thought leader on climate change, which is why superdelegates who value the environment are seriously considering favoring Ms. Clinton.”

If asked about electability, they should say “Ms. Clinton is a veteran of countering the right wing attack machine, and super-delegates who are veterans in fighting for change know this and owe their constituencies the benefit of that experience, which obviously would entail support of Ms. Clinton.”

If asked about Socks the cat, they should say “Socks and Buddy [the dog] always got along under Ms. Clinton’s guidance, proving Hillary can bring together Israel and Palestine, and it is the job of superdelegates to admire and reward such an ability to foster reconciliation, which is an ability often undervalued in heated political contests.”

Some of their minions are indeed making this case.  Here we have Harold Ickes on it, and here we have warmare Geraldine Ferraro.  The brazen case of Ferraro really shows off her brass ovaries.  Her basic point is not all that many Democrats actually vote in primaries, so those results aren’t really representative.  The superdelegates, she says, are better able to represent the overall best interests of the party, and that’s really what all Democrats should care about.

That’s what I’m beginning to learn about political parties, by the way.  I always thought their main goal was to organize to represent their members and hopefully win elections.  It seems somewhere along the line their main goal actually became to represent the best interests of the party itself.  That usually means winning elections, but not always.

And what is actually the right thing to do hardly ever comes up.

GOP Delegate Project: Still Suspended

Just a quick update on my GOP delegate project:  Spent a few moments with the GOP Chester County Executive Director yesterday afternoon as I was plotting with our candidate of PA House 157 and our area’s brain trust.  Delightful group of folks, and a good time was had by all.  We are lucky to have Guy Ciarrocchi running.

Anyway, she mentioned she had not heard back from the State Committee yet on who was compiling GOP delegate information, and whether or not I could help them and publish the results here.  So I am going to be a dutiful soldier and accept my orders to do nothing on that project for a couple more days.

Remember, though, contacting all of these delegation candidates will be a big project, and take time.  If I don’t hear from them soon, I will have to start freelancing again.

And a quick note to party members who may be reading this:  I cannot be dissuaded from this project with an argument claiming delegates can’t possibly know in March what they will do at the convention in the summer.  This very case was forcefully made to me by one delegation candidate who clearly forgot that voters were supposed to evaluate candidates in April.

Absent some knowledge about how a delegation candidate plans to deport his or herself over the summer in St. Paul, how are voters in April supposed to decide who will represent them at the convention?  Ballot position and hair color?

PA Democratic Superdelegate Movement: Clinton Rules As More Commit

For the following, thanks go to Josh at The Morning Call, and his western compatriots at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

There’s been some PA Democratic super-delegate shuffling, with Hillary adding a couple, losing one to undecided, and Obama adding one.  In the end, though, Ms. Clinton still dominates the field 13 to 3.  As always, this is the page with the running count for both the Democratic superdelegates, and the GOP delegation candidates.

The one Obama added was, according to the Inky, Philadelphia Councilwoman and DNC member Carole Ann Campbell.  Here she is with Bill in happier times for the Clintons:


She chatted with Michelle Obama for about 90 minutes, and apparently agreed that nothing much has happened in America over the last twenty years inspiring pride of country.  At least of this country.

Clinton Underfiled Her Pledged PA Delegates

Pennsylvania political guru and my rabbi on matters procedural, Terry Madonna, indirectly pointed out an article to me on how badly the Clinton campaign is scrambling here in Pennsylvania.

This piece indicates the recent petition extension by Ed Rendell had nothing to do with the weather and everything to do with the Clinton campaign’s incompetence.

Last week all primary petitions were due in Pennsylvania.  The weather was iffy in spots, but I drive a hinky Saab with 120k miles on it with only one headlight, and I managed to get my petitions in on time.

The Clinton campaign, though, did not manage to get a full slate of their pledged delegate petitions in on time.  Clinton supporter and Governor Ed Rendell gifted them a deadline extension, and they still ended up 10% short.

This does not affect the math any, as party rules indicate they will still get whatever is their due.  Still…Clinton has staked her campaign on success in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  And this is the best they can muster?  Was everyone huddling on how best to manufacture specious plagiarism charges on Obama?

In the PA GOP presidential primary, delegate candidates are not attached to anyone, and have to run around under their own steam to get necessary signatures for their petitions.  Almost as many signatures as a representative in the General Assembly has to get!

The GOP overfiled by over 300% with over 190 delegates for 62 slots.  Clinton underfiled– after an extension– by 10%.

To steal Terry’s quip, maybe Hillary could borrow some of the GOP’s delegates.