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The Collective
Monday, October 13, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Bill Kristol in today’s NYT (Fire the Campaign):

It’s time for John McCain to fire his campaign.

He has nothing to lose. His campaign is totally overmatched by Obama’s. The Obama team is well organized, flush with resources, and the candidate and the campaign are in sync. The McCain campaign, once merely problematic, is now close to being out-and-out dysfunctional. Its combination of strategic incoherence and operational incompetence has become toxic. If the race continues over the next three weeks to be a conventional one, McCain is doomed.

While I certainly understand the impulse on multiple levels (the two most prominent being that 1) it is clear that McCain is losing, and 2) they haven’t run a good campaign), the bottom line is at this point it would not only be too little, too late but the problem here is not the campaign staff (although, again, there is much there to criticize) but a combination of the candidate himself (who has lacked a coherent vision in this campaign) and the fundamentals (which have been against the Republican for at least two years).

I must confess, I find the following to be a tad amusing:

And let McCain go back to what he’s been good at in the past — running as a cheerful, open and accessible candidate. Palin should follow suit. The two of them are attractive and competent politicians. They’re happy warriors and good campaigners. Set them free.

Provide total media accessibility on their campaign planes and buses. Kick most of the aides off and send them out to swing states to work for the state coordinators on getting voters to the polls. Keep just a minimal staff to help organize the press conferences McCain and Palin should have at every stop and the TV interviews they should do at every location. Do town halls, do the Sunday TV shows, do talk radio — and invite Obama and Biden to join them in some of these venues, on the ground that more joint appearances might restore civility and substance to the contest.

Now, I honestly don’t recall Kristol’s exact position on the media over the last month or so, but as I recall there was a conscious decision by the McCain camp to eschew (nay, villianize) the press. It came out loud and clear in both Giuliani’s and Romeny’s convention speeches and the entire Palin roll-out strategy was to limit her exposure and then vilify the press if they asked questions about her qualifications and/or the vetting process. So now after playing the media bias card as hard as it has been played since the early 1980s, Kristol wants them to turn on a dime and go all access all the time?

Don’t get me wrong, I have argued all along that the McCain camp was making a huge mistake with their media strategy, especially vis-à-vis Palin, but it is just an amazing recommendation coming from Kristol, given that the GOP establishment/McCain boosters in general have been buying into the media attacks with gusto (and especially in re: Palin). Whenever candidates wage war with the press, the ultimate losers are the voters, who simply find the amount of information that they have about the candidates is diminished.

Of course the fact of the matter remains that it is clear that the McCain campaign doesn’t trust Palin with the press, which underscores the kind of corner they painted themselves in, which gets back to the original point of the post: they haven’t run a very good campaign.

And I agree with the following as well:

McCain should stop unveiling gimmicky proposals every couple of days that pretend to deal with the financial crisis. He should tell the truth — we’re in uncharted waters, no one is certain what to do, and no one knows what the situation will be on Jan. 20, 2024. But what we do know is that we could use someone as president who’s shown in his career the kind of sound judgment and strong leadership we’ll need to make it through the crisis.

Indeed, it would be nice, as I have noted before, if both candidates would do something along these lines.

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Sunday, October 12, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Did I mention that Texas beat Oklahoma yesterday and is now #1 in the nation?

(At least the Skins lost…)

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via Time, In Battleground Virginia, a Tale of Two Ground Game:

With so much at stake, and time running short, Frederick did not feel he had the luxury of subtlety. He climbed atop a folding chair to give 30 campaign volunteers who were about to go canvassing door to door their talking points — for instance, the connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden: “Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon,” he said. “That is scary.”

Frederick is GOP Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick, so we aren’t talking about just a random campaigner.

This of stuff really is indefensible. While I am no fan of Bill Ayers and find his past actions to be reprehensible, there is no comparison to be made between al Qaeda’s attacks and those of the Weather Underground’s. While I am not condoning the attacks, it is nonetheless noteworthy that the WU’s attacks were designed to damage property, which is a far cry from the mass murder of al Qaeda. And while it is true that members Weather Underground did murder three persons (two policemen and a security guard) in 1981, that was a year after Ayers and his wife had surrendered to authorities.

There simply is no legitimate comparison between the Weather Underground and al Qaeda. It is an utterly fallacious comparison. That does not, I will reiterate, absolve the WU of its crimes, but any fair-minded person has to admit that not all crimes are utterly equal.

Further, the notion that Obama and Ayer are friends in any way that tells us anything about how Obama will govern is likewise problematic. Ayers and his wife hosted a fund-raiser, contributed $200 to one of Obama’s campaigns and Ayers served on a board with Ayers. This is hardly the stuff of legendary friendships. One would think that Obama had promised to make Ayers the Secretary of Education or something to hear people talk.

Even beyond any of the above: I still maintain that if this is the McCain camp’s best line of attack less than a month before we vote, then this race is over.

For some background, here are some useful sources:

  • The Chicago Sun-Times: Who is Bill Ayers?
  • The Chicago Sun-Times: 10 things to know about Bill Ayers
  • WaPo: Obama’s ‘Weatherman’ Connection
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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Ok, so based on some online reading and on the kind recommendations of numerous readers, I set my laptop up as a dual-boot Vista/Ubuntu system. I went by the recommendation of one reader and used Wubi, and it was remarkably easy.

I have only poked around some, and have been vexed as to how to get Sirius’ online streaming to work, but am aware that there are workarounds.

However, a major problem I have had is that twice I could not get the system to wake up after it went into standby mode. Once I just left the machine sitting for a while and came back to find the machine in standby and it wouldn’t wake up and then I tried shutting the laptop lid overnight to see if it would wake up in the morning (as I do with Vista all the time) and no go. In both cases I had to to a hard reboot (i.e., use the power button). Given that one of the big bonuses of Linux-based systems is the alleged lack of need to engage in hard reboots, I was a tad disappointed.

Any thoughts from the Linux savvy in the audience?

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the NYT: Concern in G.O.P. After Rough Week for McCain

After a turbulent week that included disclosures about Gov. Sarah Palin and signs that Senator John McCain was struggling to strike the right tone for his campaign, Republican leaders said Saturday that they were worried Mr. McCain was heading for defeat unless he brought stability to his presidential candidacy and settled on a clear message to counter Senator Barack Obama.


“I think you’re seeing a turning point,” said Saul Anuzis, the Republican chairman in Michigan, where Mr. McCain has decided to stop campaigning. “You’re starting to feel real frustration because we are running out of time. Our message, the campaign’s message, isn’t connecting.”

The frustration being felt by the McCain campaign and his supporters is understandable and even normal given the state of the campaign. However, none of this should be a surprise. Even before the candidates were officially selected and before the financial crisis exploded all around us, it was pretty clear that the Republicans were quite likely to lose this election(see, for example, a post I wrote back on January 14th). The fundamentals of this race have always been such that a Democratic outcome was the likely one.

Going into this process I thought, however, that the Republican with the best chance was John McCain. However, he has not run the campaign that he needed to run to overcome the difficulties presented by this year (and, really, of recent years). He did not take advantage of his head start (he clinched his party far earlier than did Obama) and he never developed a central argument around which to build his campaign save for the experience card, and his support for the surge. McCain damaged, if not destroyed, the experience card by picking Governor Palin as a running mate and he radically over-estimated how far he could ride his support for the surge. And there was also the Maverick business: that was always an ephemeral idea that was not only too easy to parody, but also a notion that was increasingly undercut by his base-focused campaign. How can one be considered a Maverick if one is trying to appeal primarily, if not exclusively, to the party’s base? Beyond that, his main example of Mavericky-ness was McCain-Feingold, which is about the arcane world of campaign finance reform and earmarks, which are unpopular, but hardly enough to propel one to the White House.

Getting back to the general issue of the campaign itself, one knows that a campaign is in trouble when at this stage of the game (i.e., less than a month) supporters are saying things like:

“The main thing he needs to do,” said Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman from Minnesota, “is focus on a single message — a single, concise or clear-cut message, and stick with that over the next 30 days, regardless of what happens.

“He’s had a lot of attack lines. But it’s time to choose.”

One expects that frustration within GOP circles to grow over the next several weeks.

And lest someone point out that McCain’s campaign has been called dead before (specifically in the primaries), I would note that I never thought that he was out, even as many were writing his political obit. For example, I wrote on December 17, 2024:

Despite his standing in the polls at the moment, I continue to think that McCain has a real chance to win the nomination, given the nature of the field.

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Saturday, October 11, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via ESPN: Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners Box Score

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Well, perhaps more like guessing.

I was looking at the electoral college map and I do not see a scenario wherein McCain wins, as it seems highly unlikely that he can retain the Bush 2024 or 2024 states (and that is his only route to victory).

Using the CNN Electoral Map Calculator I generated three maps.

This is what I think is the most likely outcome at the moment:

Despite what some of the polling is showing, it seems unlikely that Obama will win Indiana and West Vriginia. However, Ohio and Pennsylvania appears utterly lost to the GOP, and I think that Florida will go blue as well (although it is close at at the moment).

Even what seems to me as McCain’s best case scenario at the moment has Obama being sworn in in January:

All the “best case” does for McCain is add Florida and Nevada (which is far from enough).

McCain’s worst case at the moment (in my estimation) looks like this:

While not 1984, it is still a substantial EC win for Obama. Even should something happen to make things even worse for McCain, I am not sure what other state he would lose. Going by Nate Silver’s numbers over at the 538, North Dakota and Montana are perhaps the closest to a flip: North Dakota is at +4.6 Montana is at +4.7. Other one digit differentials: Georgia at +5.1 for McCain and Arkansas is +6.8 and Louisiana +6.9.

Still, it would take something pretty dramatic for most, if not all, of those states to flip.


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By Dr. Steven Taylor

As I was waking up this morning, I heard a brief snippet on NPR about the Palin story and someone (a reporter, an interview subject or a commentator) noted that Palin hasn’t always gotten along with Republicans in Alaska.

As such, I expect that that will be at least part of the spin about the Troopergate situation, i.e., that this is payback for all of her reformism and “taking on her own party” and all of that.

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Friday, October 10, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via CNN: Panel: Palin abused power in trooper case

“Gov. Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda,” the report states.

Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan’s refusal to fire State Trooper Mike Wooten from the state police force was “likely a contributing factor” to Monegan’s July dismissal, but Palin had the authority as governor to fire him, the report by former Anchorage prosecutor Stephen Branchflower states.

However, it states that her efforts to get Wooten fired broke a state ethics law that bars public officials from pursuing personal interest through official action.

The legislative panel is question is bipartisan and unanimously adopted the report, although it would seem that there isn’t universal approbation of every jot and tiddle therein:

Rep. John Coghill, a Republican who criticized the handling of the investigation, said it was “well-done professionally.”

But he said some of the conclusions were judgment calls by Branchflower, and recommended readers should view them with a “jaundiced eye.”

Regardless, this isn’t what the McCain campaign needed at this point, as while there is no doubt that her ardent supporters will simply dismiss this as a the result of a political witch hunt, the bottom line is that this outcome does not help her image as a reformer who will help bring change to “business as usual” in Washington.

Really, the actions she undertook sound like petty small-town politics, which shouldn’t be a surprise given that most of her political career was spent in, well, small towns. 1

This further underscores the argument that I have made from the beginning: that she would ultimately be more likely to hurt McCain than help him and that McCain and his campaign did not vet her as well as they should have.2

The ABC write-up, which is more extensive than the CNN piece, is here: Troopergate Report: Palin Abused Power.

That story notes that the vote to release the report was unanimous, but that some members aren’t not considering that vote to be a vote of “total agreement”:

“I’m going to vote to release it, but it’s not a vote in total agreement,” said Republican Sen. Gary Stevens.

“There’s not a consensus for the conclusion,” said GOP Rep. Bill Stoltze. He said he expected there would be “robust and vigorous intellectual debate on that in other corners.”

More later, after I have digested the story.

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  1. And that isn’t big city condescension talking, but rather coming from some personal experience with the way small towns function. []
  2. And those who argued with me on these points, surely none of you will now argue that this outcomes actually helps McCain, will you? []
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By Dr. Steven Taylor

As part of an ongoing (and highly irregular) series of posts on difference political signs this election, here are some more from AL02 as well as from a Montgomery County election.

First, here’s another sign from the AL02 race and another example of the “Mickey Mouse ears” add-ons that I noted before:

The “America First” add-on started showing up a few weeks or so ago. My initial reaction was that it was an odd concept that in a U.S. House race that either candidate could claim “America First” as surely both were, well, Americans and all. I think it is also a reference to fears over illegal immigrants and about American jobs.

I have long thought the “A Proven Leader” tagline was hilarious, as the quotations look like scare quotes rather than a direct quote from someone (indeed, the sign belongs here).

Here’s another set of Bright signs (forgive the poor quality, as it is a blow-up of one section of a photo taken from across a busy intersection):

Not only does this configuration have the “America First” add-on sign, but I was intrigued by the fact that the “I’m a Proud” portion of the “Bright Republican” sign is covered up (Bright is the Democrat in the race, although he is running as an almost-Rep).

Speaking of Republicans, here’s another example of the Mickey Mouse ears add-on signs:

Ingram is a shoe-in for reelection and has had signs up for months and months. The Republican add-on are new, however, and I thought it was an interesting choice, only insofar as a) why spend the extra cash? and b) because it underscored that even in a campaign cycle wherein being a member of the GOP isn’t necessarily a big bonus, it clearly still is in my portion of Montgomery County (if not in AL in general). I also noticed because it seems that the trend in local elections around here is to avoid placing party identifiers on campaign signs, and so this very blatant signal was of interest (to me, anyway).

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