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February 18, 2008

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Enough of this opt-in, opt-out crap. We're at the point where no one with any chance to raise the necessary funds is going to opt-in. We either need to raise the limits or make the system mandatory.

"...over a matter of such arcane policy-wonkery that until this weekend, you would find it only here at TAPPED...."

I like Tapped a lot, but this sort of thing is best done either funny or accurate, as otherwise it comes off as just excessively self-congratulatory ; I thought the WP piece made the situation clear when I read it on Saturday. And plenty of blogs will discuss this, like, say this one. Not just Tapped.

I find it much more annoying when sites I greatly respect do this sort of thing, than ones I don't care about, let alone thing nothing of.

Particularly because it stops me dead before we get to any substance.

Yeah, it's undoubtedly meant to be funny, but being funny needs more than intent.

McCain will skate on the legal issues and we'll be debating the meaning of "aggressively pursue an agreement" until November. the winner of this point, as usual, will be the one whose spin is the easiest to remember.

Gary: I find it easy to forgive any defects in Schmitt's humor given how very, very smart he is, and how very, very much he knows.

Anything that comes home to roost for McCain in terms of campaign finance is just fine by me.

OTOH, I do hope Obama sticks to his word on public financing. I did take recent statements to be backpedaling on his previous statements. And I did take it to be a pledge and not an “agreement to be negotiated”.

"Gary: I find it easy to forgive any defects in Schmitt's humor given how very, very smart he is, and how very, very much he knows."

It's not the sort of thing I hold against someone. It's just the sort of thing that trips me up at the start of an otherwise worthwhile piece.

I generally forget about that sort of thing by the next day.

Although I do tend to have less patience than many with "explanatory" type posts, which far too often seem to me to be merely redundant hitting of points already obvious, expanded upon for those not able to make obvious extrapolations or understand underlying meanings.

Which isn't to say that Schmitt didn't have valuable new information about the precise language of the agreement, or otherwise isn't smart and a fine and most excellent blogger.

Although, as a general rule, I tend to take a lot more interest in news stories, and a lot less interest in stories explaining implications that I thought perfectly clear in the first place.

This is, to be sure, largely a fault of my own impatience, and not at all a fault of those with the patience to explain things to those who need them explained. It's one of those things I still need to work on. I find that sort of thing frustrating out of all proportion, and always have. It's a me problem.

"And I did take it to be a pledge and not an 'agreement to be negotiated'."

However you took it, it's not what he said. He said what he actually said, instead. Which is "I will aggressively pursue an agreement...."

It's usually best to take words as they are, rather than as some other words that occur to us for some reason.

Wow. Jaw meets floor.

Okay, who (besides Jay Jerome) thinks this is a fair report on the accusations of "plagiarism"?

Given that there is no mention of Deval giving permission to Obama, or of their colloboration, and, well, check the other phrasing, and editing. Don't let me prejudice you by pointing out all the problems I see.

Um, the plagiarism thing is making my stomach turn.

Gary, I watched that newscast and the clip you linked to is incomplete. In the actual broadcast they gave an example of Clinton using words extremely similar to John Edwards. Basically they said if she is accusing Obama of plagiarism, then she is just as guilty.
I wonder why the on-line version dropped that part of the segment.

And if this is the biggest thing they can pin on Obama, they really are in trouble. I guess they know that those lines really punctured her biggest arguement.

Wow, the world has changed! Gary Farber just linked to a video that I couldn't view. Admittedly, he did give some clue what it was about.

"Patrick, Obama campaigns share language of 'hope'"

Today's headline? Nah.

April 16, 2007.

Of all the things Deval Patrick's Republican opponent threw at him in last year's governor's race, one charge that stuck in his craw was that his speeches were more fluff than substance -- that they were, in Patrick's telling, "just words." So he devised an artful response.

" 'We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal' -- just words," Patrick said at a rally in Roxbury right before Election Day. " 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself' -- just words. . . . 'I have a dream' -- just words. They're all just words."

The crowd erupted as it got Patrick's point about the power of language. But perhaps no one at the rally understood the point better than Barack Obama, who had joined him on stage that night.

Not five months later, Obama, his presidential campaign gaining steam, had this to say about legendary Chicago organizer Saul Alinsky in The New Republic: "Sometimes the tendency in community organizing of the sort done by Alinsky was to downplay the power of words and of ideas when in fact ideas and words are pretty powerful. 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, all men are created equal.' Those are just words. 'I have a dream.' Just words."

In the midst of his improbable run for office, Obama and his advisers have evidently studied Patrick's up-from-nowhere victory in Massachusetts and are borrowing themes, messages, and even specific lines for the presidential campaign.

It's the latest chapter in a symbiotic friendship between Obama and Patrick that continues to shape their political careers, according to admirers, observers, and associates of the two men.

The similarities between Patrick and Obama, who have known each other for more than a decade, are obvious:

And it goes on.

This isn't news. This is the Clinton campaign's opposition research coming up with new spin on old stories, and in every presidential campaign, most reporters are new to the candidates, and fall for old stories being recycled. Same old same old, in more ways than one.

"Inadvertently"? Got some basis for thinking that?

"Enough of this opt-in, opt-out crap. We're at the point where no one with any chance to raise the necessary funds is going to opt-in. We either need to raise the limits or make the system mandatory."

Nah, let's just kill the stupid system off. Give up on the notion of subsidizing politicians. I know it's traditional, and all, but the response government finding it's made a mistake doesn't HAVE to be making it bigger.

"Give up on the notion of subsidizing politicians."

Here's a different idea: let's try to give up on the notion of legally bribing politicians with private money, and do our best to remove the power of money from the electoral system, in favor of the power of one person, one vote, rather than $10,000 contribution, one vote.

Your idea means that the rich overwhelmingly and overtly control the political system, and we should be happy.

I prefer everyone get an equal say, as much as we can get close to that ideal. No matter if they have $1 in their pocket or $1,000,000, or $10,000,000,000.

YMMV.

“I prefer everyone get an equal say, as much as we can get close to that ideal.”

I agree Gary.

“A cause of many of our mistakes and problems is ignorance—an overwhelming national ignorance of the facts about the rest of the world. A nation, or an individual, cannot function unless the truth is available and understood; no amount of good on the part of the leaders or the media will offset ignorance and apathy in the common citizen. Since the United States is a democracy, the broad answer is that all of us must become better informed.”

Hyman Rickover wrote this in 1979, in what I think is a brilliant essay. It’s linked below and highly recommended.

http://www.limes68.blogspot.com/

I argue that the overall American electorate has become less informed in the last three decades, making our government less functional, and less able to resist the global forces that Gary Farber references. I don’t think that more money for our current crop of political TV ads will make things better though.

Back on topic, a former Clinton speechwriter comments.

"Here's a different idea: let's try to give up on the notion of legally bribing politicians with private money, and do our best to remove the power of money from the electoral system, in favor of the power of one person, one vote, rather than $10,000 contribution, one vote."

Almost entirely workable unless you are going to ban, for example, unions from campaigning for people with signage or ads. Doing so is a violation of the first amendment unless one believes that the first amendment doesn't cover signs or ads (or unless the first amendment doesn't cover political speech--a view I certainly hope no one here has).

I agree with Bill's overall assessment of Rickover, but note that Rickover is also cited by Jimmy Carter as a role model.

Outside my family, the main person, outside of my father, the main man who has had an influence on my life is Admiral Hyman Rickover. I was one of the two young officers in the program to build atomic submarines. There were two built: the Nautilus and the Sea Wolf. I was in charge of the crew that was helping to build the Sea Wolf and building the nuclear power plant that later became a prototype. Rickover was a man who demanded absolute excellence and total dedication from all those who worked under him. He demanded as much from himself. And so he set a standard of commitment and perfection in life that I had never experienced before. He really had a great impact on my life.

So I wonder why I believe Bill and Jimmy Carter would be polar opposites in terms of their recommendations concerning, well, almost everything.

forgot to include the link to that, which is this interview with Jimmy Carter

History's greatest monster?

Sorry to get off topic, and I promise to stop, but to answer LJ, my theory is that Carter despised Rickover, while acknowledging his accomplishments, which nobody could argue with. Rickover rode Carter all of Carter’s young adult life. Carter worked hundred-hour weeks in his program, often under abusive conditions, far away from his family. Carter was on the career track and resigned his Commission (I think).

I attribute Carter’s anti-Semitism to his experience with Rickover, who would probably have been the only Jew who Carter had any significant contact with in his formative years. Rickover gave the speech as an Admiral serving Carter’s Presidency and I think I can smell that the feelings were neutral:

“This principle of excellence is one which Americans seem to be losing, and at a time when the Nation stands in need of it. A lack of excellence implies mediocrity. And in a society that is willing to accept a standard of mediocrity, the opportunities for personal failure are boundless. Mediocrity can destroy us as surely as perils far more famous.”

Given Rickover's understanding of psychology and his famed attention to detail, that Carter must have really slipped one over on ole Rickover to hide his prejudices so well that Rickover only realised it after serving in his administration. Carter also really fooled his family, because they asked him to read Milton at Rickover's services. Tricky guy, that Carter.

I will keep my promise.

A helpful collection of helpfulness:

* Wrong link, LJ: this is the indispensible interview with Jimmy Carter.

* Almost entirely unworkable, Seb?

* And would any McCain fans -- von, obviously, but anyone else around -- care to comment on the OP? 'cause I... I genuinely don't know what to say.

I remember when there used to be posts here that weren't about election politics...

Anarch: any WI predictions?

"* Wrong link, LJ: this is the indispensible interview with Jimmy Carter."

The tone is almost right, but it's just a little off.

Probably he was just having a bad day.

"And would any McCain fans -- von, obviously, but anyone else around -- care to comment on the OP?"

OP? Orange Pekoe? Observation post? Optimus Prime? Obsolete predictor? Oblivious person, like me?

On-Topic maybe because it boils down to 527s, backroom deals, and God knows what else.

Internet Conspiracy Theory-

That NY Times “Wall Street Banks Bracing…” story now on Drudge illustrates how convoluted our banking system has become. Make a loan, hold a loan, transfer a loan, insure a loan, downgrade the insurance premiums on loans, everybody gets their cut, etc, etc. The whole thing looks like an over-computer-modeled house of cards to me.

The only big bank that wasn’t holding a large amount of mortgage debt when things went south was Goldman Sachs. It has been reported that Goldman Sachs originated a large percentage of the investment packages. Which means that they would be the most familiar with them. Most packaged loans sold as investments would have had a clause that if there were fraud involved in the paperwork, the originating bank would have to buy them back at face value. Henry Paulson was the head of Goldman Sachs when those investments were originated.

Those people holding the ‘hundreds of billions’, and I believe trillions, of dollars of worthless paper collectively represent what are called ‘big boys’ (the guys who have the influence that neither I nor Gary Farber do). Big boys don’t like to lose money, especially trillions of dollars worth of it. The big boys really, really want to prove in court that there was fraud involved in the investment vehicles that Goldman Sachs sold them.

Which, in my mind, explains why Henry Paulson got a burst of patriotism and left his hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars-a-year-job at Goldman Sachs to became our humble civil servant, in charge of the Treasury Department. All done at the invitation of President Bush, which indicates that Goldman Sachs may just be the biggest boy of all. This should be a fun one to watch if it openly makes it to court.

Now that the conspiracy theory is out of the way, something that is on topic:

In a fair system, there would be no limits on fundraising limits for candidates from start-up or minor political parties. Say a retiring General was of the opinion that both major parties are essentially corrupt and wanted to run for office, forming a new political party. It would be impossible for him to do so under the current system when he could only collect $2k per donor.

It would be healthy if our system of government could pair up patriotic Candidates with patriotic rich people. Something to think about for the Second American Republic perhaps.

Why not become honest and introduce an updated http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prussian_three-class_franchise>Dreiklassenwahlrecht?
Or simply put political offices on ebay, so the highest bidder gets the job. Another favored option is to turn the state into a corporation giving all citizens voting stocks that they can keep or sell at will (tax-free).
But in order to prevent rampant corruption, I'd like to reintroduce quartering and rogue elephants for crimes committed in office first.

Seriously, a simple right of (limited but free-of-charge) access to TV during election seasons for candidates (as practiced in many countries) would do a lot to level the playing field.

“I’m on a mission of mercy.”
-President George Bush, today

On honesty. Compare and contrast Dreiklassenwahlrecht with the Founding Fathers. Pretty close.

"On honesty. Compare and contrast Dreiklassenwahlrecht with the Founding Fathers. Pretty close."

Also a deep principle with some of the Founding Fathers: chattel slavery, and not allowing women to vote or own property.

Obviously, if the Founding Fathers thought it was a good idea then, it's something we should return to.

The logic is irrefutable, except for the whole part where it doesn't follow in the slightest, which is all of it.

The wonderful thing about glorifying the past is that people who do it rarely seem to fantasize about them winding up stuck, through no fault of their own, in one of the sh**y roles, such as a poor woman, or a slave, or a crippled orphan, or someone with a mental defect, or in a poorhouse, or any of the situations that the overwhelming majority of people lived in during these wonderful better times.

How grand would it be for you, Bill, if you had been born a mulatto woman in Alabama in 1760, and you were there to witness the glories of the Revolution? Would you enjoy the taste of the lash, because, after all, good times?

"Also a deep principle...."

Should be: "[a]lso a deeply-held principle...."

Gary: However you took it, it's not what he said. He said what he actually said, instead. Which is "I will aggressively pursue an agreement...."

That’s what he said in November, in the questionnaire that the campaign and supporters are now pointing to.

It's usually best to take words as they are, rather than as some other words that occur to us for some reason.

I agree completely. However, I’m not basing it on something I imagined.

Obama is the one who made the challenge. He proposed it over a year ago. It’s not a case of him responding to someone else, saying all along he’d consider it. He issued the challenge in Feb. 2007:

Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, issued an unusual challenge to his rivals on Wednesday. He proposed a voluntary agreement between the two major party nominees that would limit their fund-raising and spending for the general election.

In a Feb. 1 filing with the Federal Election Commission that was made public on Wednesday, Mr. Obama said that he, too, would seek enough private donations to remain competitive, but with a twist. He asked the commission if he could begin soliciting private donations with the understanding that he might later return the money to his contributors. If he won the Democratic nomination, he could then strike a deal with the Republican nominee to return their private donations and use only public money for the general election.

“Should both major party nominees elect to receive public funding, this would preserve the public financing system, now in danger of collapse, and facilitate the conduct of campaigns freed from any dependence on private fund-raising,” Mr. Obama’s filing said.

It was really a challenge to Clinton, who had already announced her campaign would forgo public funding. She was the leading fundraiser at the time and Obama had no way to know he would eventually surpass her.

McCain’s campaign said he was trying to have it both ways. Edward’s campaign “scoffed” at the proposal.

Now you might say look, he still said “strike a deal”. Fair enough. But it makes all the difference in the world to me that Obama was the one to propose this, and now that he is the leading fundraiser he seems to be backing away from it.

OCSteve: The challenge you quoted involves striking a deal with the Republican nominee to...only use public money for the general election.

Somehow, I don't see "Maverick Straight-Talker" John McCain going for that challenge. If he won't, then Obama hasn't comitted to working only from public money. The challenge involved an agreement between Obama and the Republican nominee, whoever it ended up being. Since the Republicans have about a 0% chance of making any kind of agreement like that, why should Obama be held to an agreement that won't happen?

If he won the Democratic nomination, he could then strike a deal with the Republican nominee to return their private donations and use only public money for the general election.

there's a whole lot of hasn't-happened-yet in there, right ?

(and "strike a deal" was supposed to be underlined. as in: it would have to be a 2-way agreement, not a decree from Obama)

"Obama is the one who made the challenge. He proposed it over a year ago."

Yes, he suggested it. Absolutely.

A suggestion is not a commitment. It's not clear to me why you seem to feel he made a binding commitment, or is absolutely obliged to seek one. It would be one thing if he had said "and I absolutely commit to seeking public funding and agreeing to limit private funding, per the Federal Election Commission, no matter what happens in the future," but I don't see why we should treat him as if he'd said that when he didn't.

Nate: Somehow, I don't see "Maverick Straight-Talker" John McCain going for that challenge.

The deal is to McCain’s advantage at this point. It seems fairly obvious that Obama can kick his butt in terms of raising money. IMO McCain will accept and agree to most any restrictions that Obama wants to negotiate. It’s the only thing that will level the playing field for McCain – he’d be an idiot not to accept.

cleek: there's a whole lot of hasn't-happened-yet in there, right ?
Sure is. But the campaign saying An idea floated by a contender is now too “hypothetical” for a front-runner” certainly strikes me as backing away from the challenge he issued.

All I’m saying at this point is that if he gets the nomination I expect him to make a good faith effort to stick to the challenge he himself issued.

Gary: It's not clear to me why you seem to feel he made a binding commitment, or is absolutely obliged to seek one.

If I issue a challenge to you and you accept the challenge wouldn’t you feel it is a binding commitment on my part?

Again, while I wasn’t happy with what seemed to me to be backpedaling, at this point I simply expect him to make a good faith effort if he becomes the nominee. If McCain is dumb enough not to accept, or to insist on unreasonable conditions, or to refuse to accept reasonable conditions, then obviously Obama is free and clear IMO.

OCSteve: It seems fairly obvious that Obama can kick his butt in terms of raising money.

Not in a country where the richest 1 percent of households own 38 percent of all the wealth.

Or, put another way: It doesn't matter if one candidate can get a million people to give him $20 each, when the other candidate can get 40 people to give him a couple of million each.

You do the math.

"If I issue a challenge to you and you accept the challenge wouldn’t you feel it is a binding commitment on my part?"

It would depend on the specifics and circumstances and phrasing. Certainly there are such that I'd agree, but there are also such that I wouldn't agree.

What bugs me in turn is that we have -- unsurprisingly -- people like David Brooks criticizing Obama about his on the basis of outright untruths:

[...] Barack Obama vowed to abide by the public finance campaign-spending rules in the general election if his opponent did. But now he’s waffling on his promise.
As you yourself, agree, these statements simply aren't true: Obama didn't make a "vow" of any kind; he made a proposal. Whether you feel he's bound to whatever degree by that proposal, or not, it clearly wasn't in any way a vow, and neither was it in any way, shape, means, or form, a promise.

"Vow" and "promise" have specific meanings, and Obama did neither of them, and David Brooks is, well, lying about it.

Obama may be backing away from something he proposed, sure, and if that bothers you, okay.

But I'm a lot more bothered by major columnists lying with big fat whoppers, myself.

"Or, put another way: It doesn't matter if one candidate can get a million people to give him $20 each, when the other candidate can get 40 people to give him a couple of million each."

Well, they can't do that, of course: it's against the law. The maximum donation for an individual in an election cycle is $2300. Here's the full table of maximum donation limitations.

Off-topic, but I'd say this was pretty amazing, but it's not surprising what happens when you don't fund an agency, and believe government regulation is always a bad thing:

FDA Says It Approved The Wrong Drug Plant

The Chinese facility that supplies the active ingredient of the widely used blood thinner heparin was never inspected by the Food and Drug Administration because the agency confused its name with another just like it, agency officials said yesterday.

But, what the hell, it's just human blood, and so people died. Oops!

Jes, have you done any reading on US campaign finance law? No one can give anyone a couple million. All sorts of things can happen with independent (and "independent") organizations, but they wouldn't be affected by any agreement about matching funds.

Jes, have you done any reading on US campaign finance law?

Probably too much.

Enough, at least, to know that "No one can give anyone a couple million" is only true if you squint and ignore, well, the donors giving a couple of million. Plainly, people are giving millions: as plainly, the candidate who benefits by this is not the candidate who can get the most people giving but the candidate who can get the people who can give the most money.

I'm sure there are legal subtleties I'm missing. But from a transAtlantic view, the point is rather moot. The Pioneers, Rangers, and Super-Rangers exist, regardless of the laws saying that they don't.

Back to your regular scheduled all-American argument...

It might be to McCain's benefit to work out an agreement to keep both himself and Obama limited to public financing for the general election. I'm not holding my breath expecting it to happen, though. McCain's "Maverick Straight Talker" act is just that, an act. And considering how quickly he's given up any principles that conflicted with what the "base" or the Republican Party machinery demanded, I don't expect him to sacrifice anything to his "integrity" here either. Especially not if he can get the Bush money machine working for him.

Not to mention that even if that 1% could all give us much as they wanted, there is a nontrivial portion that is unlikely to give money to McCain or any other Republican candidate. Believing that all of America's gazillionaires are Republicans is folly of the highest sort. Warren Buffett, for example, has given $9,200 total to Obama and Clinton this cycle. Paul Allen has given $4600 to Clinton. Steve Jobs has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the DNC and individual Democrats in the last decade. And so forth.

And if one visits the OpenSecrets.org "Soft Money" section, pulls up the top soft money donors and sorts by amount, then does the math, one finds that 73% of the money from the top donors has gone to Democrats. So I totally see how that helps McCain.

Enough, at least, to know that "No one can give anyone a couple million" is only true if you squint and ignore, well, the donors giving a couple of million.

Donors. Plural. Clickee the linkees on the page you linked to, and see.

No one can give anyone a couple of million dollars stands still completely unscathed by you, J.

But, yeah, I don't much like the fact that you can't contribute more than X to someone's campaign, but you can contribute much larger quantities to their party, or to some other, larger organization aligned with them.

Jes, the "couple of million" in donations you linked to are the combined donations of individual employees and executives of Microsoft, over three election cycles, and are to party organizations, not candidates. So they don't support your fantasy about 40 people giving a couple of million to McCain, and they have nothing to do with any proposed agreement between the candidates to accept matching funds.

No one's saying this needs to be a all-American argument, but it should be based on facts.

Speaking of spending, though, probably this sort of thing isn't very well done:

Hillary Clinton and Obama each spent about $130,000 in Michigan while Obama spent $1.3 million in Florida--more than any other Democratic candidate and more than eight Republican candidates, who were eligible to win delegates from the state.

Yes, it seems clear the Florida playing field was NOT level. Obama outspent Clinton in Florida. Let the rationalizations begin.

You can't really discuss campaign spending in states like Florida and Michigan without specifying when and on what. But anything to make a dent, I guess.

Jes--given the remarkable numbers we've seen so far on the Dem side, and McCain's anemic fundraising (as well as that of Romney, Giuliani et al compared to HRC and Obama), what makes you think that Obama wouldn't be able to outraise McCain? Total Dem donations are much higher than GOP contributions so far this cycle.

Slart, you can be sure that if Big Tent Democrat (aka Armando) and Jerome Armstrong are the ones spinning the numbers, they'll turn out as anti-Obama as possible. It's interesting that there's no Clinton Florida number to compare to Obama's $1.3 million, whatever it's based on. Maybe she spent $1.29 million, maybe she spent $1.29 -- who knows?

Just to clarify my last, it's certainly possible that Obama spent money in Florida during Q1, Q2 or early Q3 of last year in a way that was compliant with the agreement. It's also possible that, depending on how Opensecrets classifies expenditures in a given state, that Obama spent his money on campaign or other services headquartered in that state, that weren't involved in campaigning in that state.

Probably this has been addressed more thoroughly elsewhere; I haven't seen it.

Dan: what makes you think that Obama wouldn't be able to outraise McCain?

I would certainly be delighted to be wrong.

I agree with Avedon Carol that "if Obama or Clinton really posed a threat to Big Business As Usual, they'd have been shot by now" but, obviously, I really want the Democratic candidate to win and to take office, since the alternative is another eight years of watching the US roll itself deeper in the bloody muck: and I don't honestly care which (of Obama or Clinton) gets selected.

But given Republican electoral tactics over the past eight years, in order to get a loser like George W. Bush into power, and the blank denial by so many Republican supporters that Bush & Cheney have really done anything so very wrong, I think that once the Democratic process is finished and the nominee is known, there are Republican supporters who are going to unloose a well-funded storm of filth and lies against the chosen nominee: which I anticipate being at least as successful as the campaign against Kerry or Gore.

But again: I'd be delighted to be wrong. Feel free to send me crow recipes: I'll convert them to tofu.

It's hard to fathom the argument, but I'd imagine that it's something like: Obama spent $1.3 mill in Florida, so let's seat the delegates from there and let the chips fall where they may. Given that he cheated, and all.

Not my argument, mind you. I'd probably want to have something in the way of evidence; as far as I can tell, there's no there there, yet.

OT: Ann Althouse explains why she's voting for Obama. It is, to me, a perfect illustration of why I really do not like Althouse: there is not a single mention of any issue or policy in the entire piece. She's "tracing her reaction" to Obama: fine, but did she know all the policy stuff at the outset? If not wasn't there a single policy anything that affected her at all?

Voting like this just completely baffles me.

Not that I'm eager to defend Althouse, even when she's voting for Obama, but in the comments she does say that she doesn't think Obama and Clinton differ significantly in policies, so she has to base her decision on other things. Still, one might hope those other things wouldn't be based entirely on what was happening in her own head.

Slarti,
It's important to look at the update to that post. Here's the source post at MyDD with a similar update.

Hilzoy:

I'm not so familiar with Althouse, but if she votes for Obama, the reasoning behind it matters little to me.

In baseball, when I'm lucky to make enough sorry contact with a fastball to chip shot a dying quail flare just over the glove of an infielder and accidentally drive in the guy on third, my teammates will tell me when I get back to the dugout that it goes down in the book exactly the same as a line-drive, RBI single up the middle.

Yeah, I know, they're lying, but it helps me maintain my self-image.

Anarch: any WI predictions?

I'm in Madison so my perception's a little skewed, especially because the weather delayed some of the speakers. [Although it was pretty awesome: we got Obama and all three Clintons within the five days.] MSNBC was reporting last night that Hillary had a small lead in a new poll, though that's the first I'd heard of it.

Anyway, I'm predicting Obama by around +5-10. My gut instinct (and john miller might be able to back me up here) is that Hillary and Obama are roughly going to tie in the big cities -- I'm guessing that Obama's going to do better in Milwaukee, Hillary's going to do better than expected in Green Bay, and I think they're roughly going to tie Madison, though I couldn't tell you why -- but that Obama's gonna beat her in the rural, conservative north.

I can say that turnout is already legendary around here. My girlfriend voted this morning, said she barely got on a bus outside her polling place because the stop was crammed with people who'd already voted. And these were just students voting before their morning classes; I can't imagine what it'll be like later in the day when the Real People get to the polls. Fun times.

I have to agree that it reflect somewhat badly on Obama that he would back out of his commitment to public finance. But, frankly, it's a good move. The hit is not worth the boost that the extra organizing and advertising 200-300 million would allow. And, there's some compensation in saying that he wants to allow all Americans to participate in the campaign and that when he made the semi-commitment he did not realize how deeply many Americans want a chance to participate in politics and how the campaign finance laws would constrain them.

"The Pioneers, Rangers, and Super-Rangers exist, regardless of the laws saying that they don't."

The laws don't say that in the slightest. You're conflating donations to one individual with donations to state parties, to the national party, and to all individuals. These are not mere unimportant details. Giving to the Oklahoma State [X] Party doesn't help candidate 3 for Attorney-General in Missippi in the slightest, for instance.

Slart: "probably this sort of thing isn't very well done"

What sort of thing? As is often the case with your referents, I can think of a dozen possibilities you could be referring to, and I have no idea which one you mean.

Jes:

Dan: what makes you think that Obama wouldn't be able to outraise McCain?

I would certainly be delighted to be wrong.

The rest of your answer is a non-sequitur: I'm also curious what makes you think McCain could possibily outraise funds over Obama. What's your explanation for why he's not doing it now?

And while I know you don't solicit suggestions for me, I nonetheless suggest that if you think the cited limits are meaningless details, that you jolly well don't know very much about American campaign finance law at all, no matter that you think you know too much, and might want to read more.

Hilzoy:

[...] She's "tracing her reaction" to Obama: fine, but did she know all the policy stuff at the outset? If not wasn't there a single policy anything that affected her at all?

Voting like this just completely baffles me.

Most people vote their feelings towards the candidate, rather than by doing research, trying to pierce the veil of claims and fabrications and bad reporting, and analyzing policies and facts. It's that simple.

Being a university professor, including of law, doesn't seem to render automatic immunity any more than it does other categories of supposedly smart people.

"I'm not so familiar with Althouse"

She's a nitwit, and that post is purely typical.

"I have to agree that it reflect somewhat badly on Obama that he would back out of his commitment to public finance."

He didn't make a commitment. He made a proposal.

You can regret his backing away from his proposal, no problem, but saying he backed away from a commitment would be a straight falsehood.

What sort of thing?

The sort of thing that I linked to, in the comment that you responded to.

*sigh*

The exact sort of thing that takes one piece of data of uncertain origins and meaning, and attempts to draw some sort of conclusion from it.

Maybe it's a category of one. Take that as a given, if doing so helps remove confusion.

"The sort of thing that I linked to, in the comment that you responded to."

Yes, what you quoted was:

Hillary Clinton and Obama each spent about $130,000 in Michigan while Obama spent $1.3 million in Florida--more than any other Democratic candidate and more than eight Republican candidates, who were eligible to win delegates from the state.
Not being inside your head, "this sort of thing" could clearly refer to "spending $130,000 in Michigan," or spending "$1.3 million in Florida," or spending "more than any other Democratic candidate," or spending "more than eight Republican candidates,"

Or, it turns out, it could mean: "The exact sort of thing that takes one piece of data of uncertain origins and meaning, and attempts to draw some sort of conclusion from it."

You know what's inside your head. The rest of us know only what you write down, and for some reason, you almost never use clear referents.

I never would have derived your actual answer from "this sort of thing," which has more or less no pointer or specificity whatever to it.

"This sort of thing" refers to how you conceptualize "this sort of thing." It's not an expression that's necessarily objectively accessible to people outside your head.

It's a useful expression with a clear referent, but absent one, it's not.

Maybe it's just me, and no one else ever finds you opaque, and everyone else finds your meanings always perfectly clear, of course, in which case the problem is all mine.

Why doesn't Mr. McCain ask his good friend Charles Keating for the money he needs?

The rest of us know only what you write down, and for some reason, you almost never use clear referents.

Except for that link I provided for the purposes of having something to point to with "this". If it was unclear that I was referring to THAT, the linked article, consider it clarified. Next time I link to something, I'll try to make doubly sure to mention that I'm linking to it because of its relevancy, and not for any of the more conventional reasons.

"The Pioneers, Rangers, and Super-Rangers exist, regardless of the laws saying that they don't."

Incidentally, they and their equivalents get their status for raising money, not for donating it, as you claim. Where do you get the idea that "the laws" say "that they don't" exist?

Cite?

"Except for that link I provided for the purposes of having something to point to with 'this'. If it was unclear that I was referring to THAT, the linked article, consider it clarified."

Slart, I just carefully explained, with specifics, why simply linking to the article, and referring to "this sort of thing" didn't narrow the possibilities down beyond the various ones included in the article, said possibilities only being narrow-downable by already knowing what you had in mind.

Was some part of this explanation difficult or impossible to understand? If not, I don't understand why you are repeating yourself as if saying "I cited the article" was a clarification, or a sequitur.

You can't be claiming there was only one possible thing that could have meant by "this sort of thing" in that article, surely?

"Next time I link to something, I'll try to make doubly sure to mention that I'm linking to it because of its relevancy, and not for any of the more conventional reasons."

I've never said that I doubted the relevancy of your links, so that also would be a complete non-sequitur.

I'm asking you to not expect us to mind-read which bit you think is relevant when you cite an article, and to instead give us a clue more specific than "this sort of thing."

Articles, it shouldn't escape your attention, typically have more than one piece of information in them. It's figuring out which piece you are referring to, if you don't bother to give any clue at all, that can be problematic. It's not a matter of assuming you're linking for no reason, or that there's not a relevant point you have in mind. It's getting you to specify which point that seems to cause you difficulty, for some reason.

Maybe this is some sort of wacko request by me. I'm just that way about this sort of thing.

It's also a little tedious that you can never, ever, just say "thanks for the suggestion," and then ignore it, or respond in any number of ways that won't provoke an endless series of defenses and arguments from you. Maybe my complaint lacks any merit, and I'm being completely unreasonable. Is that the case with every single suggestion/criticism ever made to you about your writing style?

I hope not, and I trust not, but I can't say that I'd be a good witness to call to testify to that.

Am I, in fact, the only person ever to allege that you tend to be cryptic, and non-specific in your referents? Maybe so, and it's just me.

It's also a little tedious that you can never, ever, just say "thanks for the suggestion," and then ignore it

Thanks for the suggestion, Gary.

"Thanks for the suggestion, Gary."

You're welcome. I can't make you consider what I have to say, after all, or reconsider anything you do. But fewer tedious back and forths would likely be appreciated by both of us.

I'd still suggest that arguing against clarity and specificity isn't the most productive response you could make, though, whether you voice it, or keep it to yourself. But it's up to you.

Alternatively, if you're convinced it's just me, try submitting a piece of writing for professional publication with the same style of usages.

Am I, in fact, the only person ever to allege that you tend to be cryptic, and non-specific in your referents?

There's a reason the word "slartic" exists, Gary (though I was surprised that Google shows only three pages using it on ObWi). Of course, there's also a reason the word "Farberesque" and a verb that's been banned here exist.

Thanks for the additional suggestions, Gary.

I try to be clear and fail, repeatedly. Should I just shut up altogether?

Should I just shut up altogether?

No. And FWIW it was pretty clear to me what you were getting at in the original comment.

Thanks, Ugh. It's nice to know, too, that my communications skills aren't completely deficient, even if nearly that.

Some extra oil from me (you decide whether it shall be poured on the waves or into the fire)
There are a number of people (Brett included iirc) that consider donation limits an infringement on 1st amendment rights. Should their position become official, the big-buck donations could (make that would) become reality. That this time The Son of Cain might be less successful in collecting money doesn't change the general tendency that big donors favor the GOP and their candidates* while the seleceted few that do not are regularly flamed as class traitors. The fall of Delay may have postponed the official adoption of "hedge your bet and you are toast" (as opposed to the informal) but should the GOP keep their stranglehold on the executive, we can clearly expect more of "pay to play" and "any contribution to the enemy party will be held against you".

*not that the Dems are completely immune to that form of legal bribery but they have not been that blatant for quite some time (if ever**)
**Hillary once upon a time in Arkansas made some comments of punishing people that did not vote for Bill as governor though.(source: G.Packer in The New Yorker)

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