February 28, 2008
February 27, 2008
Obama will win in Texas.
That is my guess. The polls have narrowed over the last few days and in fact, Obama leads the RCP average over several polls in Texas. But I wouldn't predict a victory for Obama for this reason alone.
At the first sign of trouble in Texas, Clinton campaign began to trash Texas. Undeniably, Democrats can't win Texas this November. That does not mean running an active campaign in Texas is meaningless or that Texas is irrelevant to Democrats. An efficient grassroots campaign there will help in several state elections and may change the color of the state in years to come. And it appears that in Texas, Obama campaign is "doing more to rebuild the party in two weeks than the party's done in years".
This awesome effort may not be enough to carry Texas in November (at least in 2008), but I think it is enough to deliver Texas to Obama next Tuesday.
February 25, 2008
To contest an election or not?
...Without doubt, several factors need to be considered. But one necessary, though not sufficient, condition is a reasonable confidence of winning the election. Ralph Nader does not have it. So he is one of the most vainglorious and irresponsible politicians in America today.
This thought is expanded admirably here.
February 23, 2008
Further evidence of Bush administration's pigheadedness.
The 8 years of Bush are an unmitigated disaster. This is fairly clear in certain areas: the mess in Iraq, Katrina, the wholesale disregard for all international norms etc. Bush era was equally destructive in less public arenas. The Bush people worked like viruses in several public institutions, eating their vitality away from inside and it would take plenty of determined effort to get rid of that virus. One recalls the rampant cronyism in all departments, only one of whose manifestations was the ineptness of FEMA. There was also the appalling partisanship which resulted in applicants to diplomatic posts in Iraq being questioned on their political views. It is my belief that more and more illustrations like this will appear far into the future.
Scott Horton has a nice article on another aspect of this. The Public Affairs Office at the Department of Defense is supposed to deal with "public information, internal information, community relations, information training, and audiovisual matters". Instead, under Bush and Rumsfeld they worked as “Department for the Political Instruction of Cadres”. Horton lists a few cases over the years when this office tried to shamelessly discredit with utter disregard for truth anyone daring to criticize any Pentagon activity.
The latest case came yesterday when Obama mentioned the following story in the Democratic debate:
I heard from an Army captain, who was the head of a rifle platoon, supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon. Ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24, because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq. And as a consequence, they didn’t have enough ammunition; they didn’t have enough humvees. They were actually capturing Taliban weapons because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief.
This story has been confirmed by ABC and NBC. That doesn't stop the the administration officials brazenly calling it a lie. As Horton writes, the concept of truth is different for them.
But you’d have to understand just what Mr. Whitman means by “truth” to fully appreciate the meaning of his comments. My understanding of the way the phrase works is pretty simple, and widespread in the world. Truth serves the interests of the party. Truth is what we make it. And since the interests of the party are served by implying that Barack Obama is a liar, even though Mr. Whitman has no basis to say that, of course he’ll charge right ahead and do it.
February 21, 2008
Challenges for 21st century.
These are the 14 greatest engineering challenges for 21st century, according to National Science Foundation.
Make solar energy affordable.
Provide energy from fusion.
Develop carbon sequestration methods.
Manage the nitrogen cycle.
Provide access to clean water.
Restore and improve urban infrastructure.
Advance health informatics.
Engineer better medicines.
Reverse-engineer the brain.
Prevent nuclear terror.
Enhance virtual reality.
Advance personalized learning.
Engineer the tools for scientific discovery.
February 20, 2008
All over for Hillary?
It appears now that it is all over for Hillary Clinton. That is always a risky bet, but things surely are looking gloomy for her. Even by their own admission, they need to win in Texas and Ohio. But it is not clear any more that she is a front-runner there, with Obama cutting into her traditional support among blue-collar workers and voters without college degrees and narrowing the gap among women.
Obama is showing that his appeal is sustainable. The "Obama mania" period may be nearing its end, but he still seems to be able to drive people to vote for him. Clinton is thus forced into assuming a more attacking posture, but it is not clear if it is helping her. Obama's speech in Houston last night makes it clear that he is trying to sound more substantive. He is also making conscious attempts to counter the charge that his is empty rhetoric.
This story makes it clear that the race is not over by any means. Powerful forces are working on her behalf and they won't give up easily.
February 17, 2008
Why isn't Linux More Popular?
...I always wondered. May be because it is free, suggests this article. I think there is something to it.
February 13, 2008
On Democratic Race.
Almost everyone now agrees that Obama has the delegate lead, even counting the superdelegates. According to AP, Obama has a 25 delegate lead. RealClearPolitics has him lead by 41. CNN says he leads by 42. And all of these agree that Clinton leads in superdelegates. Among pledged delegates, Obama leads by more than 100. I believe that as we go forward with the race and Obama extends his lead among elected delegates, more and more superdelegates will switch to him. For example, a former Clinton man in Ohio did just that today.
Some of his Obama's victories yesterday were remarkable. Clinton campaign lead in Virginia for a long time and even has its national headquarters in Virginia. For her to lose Virginia by almost 30 points is unbelievable. Except among White women, Obama beat her in every other demographic. He even lead among Latinos.
Some people are comparing Clinton to Guiliani because she is putting everything in Ohio and Texas. Given Obama's string of massive victories, she would need to win Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania by huge margins. I believe that even simple victories there are not guaranteed. Obama will have massive financial and momentum advantage coming out of February.
February 12, 2008
More on Obama.
This is a very nice article on Obama campaign in NYT. It is pretty clear that running for president as a black candidate is neither strategically wise, nor particularly uplifting. Campaigns of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton showed that it might result in an odd primary win, but never poses a serious threat. So Obama naturally chose to present himself as a competent candidate, who merely happens to be back. From the start Obama, with an admirable consistency, refrained from playing the race card, so much so that huge black support that he has now was not evident till recently.
A very important day of primaries today. Obama is expected to win and the only question is by how much. He is set to extend his lead in pledged delegates. Clinton campaign is concentrating mostly on Texas and Ohio. It remains to be seen whether she can survive February. As the weblog Dailykos wrote sometime ago, the question for Obama was whether he could survive February 5th. He did. Now the question for Clinton is whether she could survive the rest of February. She did not start well the last weekend. She will surely hope to lose closely tonight.
February 10, 2008
Every reason to feel good, if you are an Obama supporter.
Things look good for Obama. Slowly, but surely, the mighty Clinton machine looks like it will beaten for once. While the delegate count can be tricky and confusing, there seems to be more or less unanimous belief that Obama leads Clinton in pledged delegates. Even with superdelegates he is not that far behind. According to Associated Press, the count stands at 1095 - 1070 in favor of Clinton (this includes superdelegates). NY Times does not count caucus delegates because they are not yet officially determined. That is the reason for the larger lead that Clinton has in their count. According to RealClearPolitics, the gap is even narrower, with Clinton leading by only 3.
Furthermore, superdelegates can change their minds. In fact, several of them are still undecided. If Obama widens his pledged delegates lead this month, there is every likelihood that he will get the support of more superdelegates.
Given that Obama is likely to do well in contests this month, Clinton campaign seems to be focusing mainly on Ohio, Texas in March and Pennsylvania in April. Well, that might not be enough. As explained here, Clinton needs to win by huge margins in these three states to offset the advantage that Obama would have built by the time we get to March. But Clinton has not shown that she could win big. A very important feature of the campaign so far is:
Hillary received more than 60% of the vote in one state, Arkansas, whereas Obama received more than 60% of the vote in eight states, and more than 70% of the vote in three states. I'm assuming that if Hillary cannot get greater than 60% of the vote in New York where she is senator, she cannot get greater than 60% of the vote anywhere.
So as I said, things look good for Obama. But it is dangerous to discount the Clinton machine. As Frank Rich writes today in the NYT, they will fight dirty.