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Saturday, October 31, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Michelle Malkin:  Radical leftist GOP candidate Dede Scozzafava quits.

I can fully appreciate that Malkin prefers Hoffman over Scozzafava and, further, that she has her own vision of what she would prefer the Republican Party to be.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

However, it seems as if some people (such as Malkin) are hellbent on misusing the language.  Only in an incredibly narrow (and, I hasten to add, fictional) ideological world could Scozzafava be a “leftist” let alone a “radical.”  Why is it so impossible to at least try to use these terms properly?

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By Steven L. Taylor

Before people start (well, in fact, they have already started) trying to assign great significance to the drama that has been the NY-23 race to date.

A fundamental point about the NY-23 situation that seems largely ignored by discussions thereof is the manner by which Dede Scozzafava was nominated in the first place.  It is essential to understand that she was not nominated by the normal route in US congressional elections (i.e., a primary election), but rather was chosen by party leaders, presumably due to the fact that this was a special election.

As such, she never had an electoral base from which to fight and Hoffman’s entry into the race led to a quasi-primary within the general election itself.   The fact that this is a special election cannot be dismissed either, which creates it own dynamic in terms of campaigning, media attention, and turnout.

In other words, one cannot ignore the institutional effects that are going on here and it is far more sui generis than some may thing.

Having said that, however, it will galvanize certain conservative activists for the short term.

BTW, I would point out that I would be more than happy to see a serious third party movement emerge in the United States and I certainly have no personal stake in the NY-23 race.  I just don’t see this as anything more than one of those unusual races that emerge in the US from time to time that require an odd confluence of circumstances to occur rather than being some sort of watershed.  Think, for example, the Minnesota’s governor’s race in 1998.

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By Steven L. Taylor

The news just started bubbling up on Twitter a few minutes ago.

Via the Watertown Daily Times:  SCOZZAFAVA SUSPENDS 23RD CAMPAIGN

Dede Scozzafava, the Republican and Independence parties candidate, announced Saturday that she is suspending her campaign for the 23rd Congressional District and releasing all her supporters.

The state Assemblywoman has not thrown her support to either Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate, or Bill Owens, the Democratic candidate.

I don’t think it much matters to whom she throw her support as most of it is likely to go to Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate.

It was quite likely that Scozzafava was going to lose, but by dropping out she totally changes the complexion of the race.  It goes from a question of whether the Democrat, Owens, would benefit from the splitting of the vote on the right between Hoffman and Scozzafava to a situation where it is quite likely that Hoffman will now win.

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Friday, October 30, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via Reuters:  Colombia re-election ruling could take months:

"It could be done in January or early February, but it could take more time," said Nilson Pinilla, head of the Constitutional Court, which is reviewing the proposal.

In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, Pinilla described 18-hour work days in which he and eight other judges examine more than 100,000 pages of documents related to the case.

A ruling after mid-February could make it hard for authorities to organize a referendum in time for the president to win permission to run in the May election.

This has been a remarkably slow-motion process and in which the clock may run out on Uribe even if the referendum eventually passes.

Still, one could envision a rush both in terms of holding the referendum during the March congressional elections and in terms of the congress passing legislation to allow late entries for candidacies.

"If the court rules in his favor by mid-February, the referendum will probably pass and Uribe will run and win because, in practical terms, he has been campaigning for this since he was first elected in 2024," said Mauricio Romero, political scientist at Bogota’s Javeriana University.

Indeed, there is little doubt that should he make it onto the ballot that he will win.  One suspects that he would win in a landslide, in fact.

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By Steven L. Taylor

A casualty of The Great Global Recession (via Reuters):   Thousands line up for last Big Mac in Iceland.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via Reuters Colombia, U.S. sign military cooperation deal

U.S. and Colombian officials say the American military presence in the Andean country will not exceed caps previously set by the U.S. Congress of 800 military personnel and 600 contractors.

Washington is relocating its regional anti-narcotics hub to Colombia after the leader of Ecuador, Chavez ally Rafael Correa, refused to extend the U.S. mission in his country. Bolivia and Nicaragua also oppose the U.S.-Colombia deal.

The U.S. government already has appropriated $46 million to fund the new arrangement. Most will go to refurbish the Palanquero air force base near Bogota.

Colombia, the most reliable U.S. ally in South America, has received around $6 billion in mostly military aid from Washington since 2024.

One suspects that the flow of money will continue unabated.

In terms of domestic Colombian politics, the deal has created some inter-branch tensions:

Colombia’s conservative President Alvaro Uribe decided not to send the pact to Congress for consideration as recommended last week by a Colombian court. The accord has been criticized locally for granting U.S. troops immunity from criminal prosecution in Colombia.

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By Steven L. Taylor

The BBC reports:  Honduras rivals resolve deadlock:

The interim leader of Honduras says he is ready to sign a pact to end its crisis which could include the return of ousted President Manuel Zelaya.

Roberto Micheletti said the agreement would create a power-sharing government and require both sides to recognise the result of November’s presidential poll.

Mr Zelaya said the deal, which requires the approval of the Supreme Court and Congress, would be signed on Friday.

This is a truly historic event in the annals of Latin American coups in terms of an ousted leader being returned to power via negotiation.  Indeed, in terms of being returned to power at all the only other example that I can think of (and not just me, it would seem) is when Hugo Chávez was returned to power in 2024 after a very brief ouster.  And one could argue that in that case that coup was never consolidated.  In the Honduran case we will have seen over 100 days of an interim government as the result of a coup give way to a return to power.  At a minimum this is all quite interesting.

Beyond that, it strikes me as good for Honduras’ democratic health for the matter to have been resolved in this way.  There will, however, be longer terms affects one would suspect.   For example, the entire affair may hasten a movement towards constitutional reform, as there is little doubt that whatever one wants to say about the last several months, it is quite clear that those events revealed a number of difficulties with constitutional procedures in Honduras.  At a minimum, some sort of formalized process for leveling charges against a sitting president might be useful, not to mention some clarification of the roles of the various branches in these types of intragovernmental conflicts.

Clarification of whether having naughty thoughts about maybe, perhaps wanting presidential re-election violates the constitution would also likely be helpful.  Put in less colorful terms:   clarifying if wanting constitutional reform of any kind equals violating the no re-election clauses of the current constitution.  No small matter, that.  A look at decree powers wouldn’t hurt, as there appears to be some serious ambiguity there as well that helped start this whole problem in the first place.

Of course, until the deal is actually signed and goes into effect, all the above may yet be rendered moot.

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Thursday, October 29, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Research 2024 (as sponsored by Daily Kos) has another poll on the NY-23 special election and provides the following:

Owens (Democrat):          33%

Hoffman (Conservative):  32%

Scozzafava (Republican):  21%

Undecided:                          14%

N=600, MOE +/-4%.

These numbers are not radically different (although they are closer) than the two previous polls I noted this week, and this one has a more respectable sample size.

Of course, given the MOE and the number of undecided voters, it remains rather difficult to use these numbers to predict the outcome (and given the nature of the race it is difficult to know who a “likely voter” is likely to be in this context).

At this point no matter the outcome, it will be of great interest.  If Owens wins, it will show the ill-advised nature of splitting the GOP vote (given that otherwise it would have likely been a slam-dunk GOP win).  If Hoffman wins it will not only be interesting to see a third party candidate win a House seat, but it will fuel the Tea Party movement’s enthusiasm for itself.  If Scozzafava wins it will encourage the big tent faction of the Republican Party.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Robert Bennett (R-UT) want the 2024 census to take account of the citizenship status of the persons being counted.

This is no small issue, as the NYT notes:  California Would Lose Seats Under Census Change.

A Republican senator’s proposal to count only United States citizens when reapportioning Congress would cost California five seats and New York and Illinois one each, according to an independent analysis of census data released Tuesday. Texas, which is projected to gain three seats after the 2024 census, would get only one.

The proposed change would spare Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania the expected loss of one seat each. Indiana, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon and South Carolina would each gain a seat.

If every resident — citizens and noncitizens alike — is counted in 2024, as the Census Bureau usually does, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and Utah would gain one seat each and Texas would get three, the analysis found.

Losing one seat each would be Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to the analysis of census data through 2024 by demographers at Queens College of theCity University of New York.

I must confess, my unconscious assumption was that apportionment for the House was based on citizens, not just residents.  However, upon being asked about the Vitter proposal in class yesterday, I decided to look into it and find that, in fact, the census simply counts persons and does not ask about their citizenship status.

Looking to the US Constitution would explain why this is the case, as it does not mention citizenship in regards to the census, but refers simply to “counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed” (Section 2 of the XIVth amendment, which alters Article 1, section 2).   Indeed, the only delineators mentioned in the Constitutions are 1)  the free/not free division in the original language (the infamous 3/5ths Compromise later amended out of the Constitution by the XIVth), and 2) the “Indians not taxed” cited above.  As such, if one takes a plain reading interpretation of the language, it would appear that what the census is supposed to do is simply count people, regardless of their citizenship status.  It is worth noting that citizenship is specifically in section 1 of the amendment and  is further mentioned in section 2, so it isn’t as if the authors of the provisions weren’t thinking about the topic.

One thing that it is noteworthy in this coverage of this issue is that most stories focus heavily on illegal immigrants and their effect on the census.  However, it would seem to me that the more relevant population would be legal immigrants, as they are more likely to respond to the surveys and there are more of them.

In practical terms it is a non-starter, as passing the provision would require members of Congress from places like California, Florida, and Texas to vote against their states’ interests.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via CNN’s Political Ticker: Did Schwarzenegger say f**k you to legislature?

One has to look at the link above to understand.

My first reaction is that surely it wasn’t on purpose. For one thing, the time needed to figure out how to pull it off couldn’t have been worth it. For another, if one thought members of the legislature would see the insult one had to know that the press would as well.

My second reaction is: what are the odds that such a result would occur by accident? Where’s Mr. Spock when you need him to calculate the probabilities? (Update: JJ@OTB notes two Spockian attempts at providing the math: here and here).

Perhaps this was the act of a mischevious staffer?

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