Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Timothy Egan Nails It pointing out that Hillary's vaunted win in WVA probably won't matter in the fall, as it's fairly solidly Republican and trending more so, as is Kentucky.

In Oregon, voters’ surveys show Obama essentially tied Clinton for the blue collar vote while running up a big victory.

And Oregon, unlike West Virginia and Kentucky, may actually be in play for the general election. Al Gore won it by barely 7,000 votes in 2000, a margin that went up to 60,000 votes in 2004. McCain’s advisers say he’s a perfect fit for the state – independent, somewhat maverick.

So, from a purely strategic point of view, the ability to win white blue-collar voters in an open-minded swing state is certainly more important than a solid red state. I would include Pennsylvania in that equation. Just weeks after all the talk of Obama’s problems in the Keystone state, most polls now show him beating McCain in the general election.

What happened in the last few weeks is that Appalachia, in a 24-7 media hothouse, skewed perception. We stared at it far too long, parsing it for meaning beyond its historic range and its hard prejudices.

What he said.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Quote of the day

I have a theory concerning committees. A committee may have different states, like water has gas, liquid or solid phases, depending on temperate and pressure. The same committee, depending on external circumstances of time and pressure will enter well-defined states that determine its effectiveness. If a committee works in a deliberate mode, where issues are freely discussed, objections heard, and consensus is sought, then the committee will make slow progress, but the decisions of the committee will collectively be smarter than its smartest member. However, if a committee refuses to deliberate and instead merely votes on things without discussion, then it will be as dumb as its dumbest members. Voting dulls the edge of expertise. But discussion among experts socializes that expertise. This should be obvious. If you put a bunch of smart people in a room and don't let them think or talk, then don't expect smart things to happen as if the mere exhalation of their breath brings forth improvements to the standard.

This is scary...

I actually find myself agreeing with Roland Martin, who can usually be counted on to present weak rationalizations for absurd ideas. But this time he's actually come to a "right" conclusion, i.e. one I agree with. And his reasoning is pretty much on target.

With everything that's going on in the world, the question of a flag lapel pin is about the weakest of all possible rationales... and of course, there's an incredible ridiculous double standard.

I've watched this debate reach the levels of absurdity this year because journalists and commentators have raised the question to Sen. Barack Obama, "Why don't you wear a flag lapel pin?"

I really got a kick out of that one during the ABC debate last month because not one person on stage -- Sens. Hillary Clinton and Obama, along with moderators Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos -- bothered to accessorize their attire with a flag lapel pin.

Sen. John McCain has been traveling the globe as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and this former soldier often doesn't wear a flag lapel pin.

I wonder why John McCain hates America so much?

Those who will criticize me will say, "Well, Roland, if it's no big deal, then why not wear one?" And the reply is the same: "If it's no big deal, then why do you make it a big deal?"

Because, as he points out, that's what zealots do. They pick a small issue, declare it to be the side of all that is right and virtuous and true, and demand that everyone else conform to their narrow vision, ignoring everything else.

[I]f there are members of Congress who wear a flag lapel pin but refuse to shore up our borders, don't do enough to stop the flow of drugs into our neighborhoods, or don't help to eradicate the gaps between the haves and have nots, then are they truly fighting for the concerns of Americans, or playing on the emotions of people by what's on their lapel?

What he said.